No ‘Cogito’, ergo no ‘Sum’

This short story piece was actually, believe it or not, inspired by a dream I had last night. It’s a bit of a rush job, so I didn’t really have time to edit it. It’s a scene from a dystopic coalition of states. The theory behind it is a slightly exaggerated, sci-fi big-brother version of my country… They say write what you know, so I did.

Cogito ergo sum – “I think, therefore I am.”

-Reneé Descartes

I enter the class with only my slate.

Over a hundred younger eyes look at me expectantly, good-eyes and silver-eyes wide open. They hush to acknowledge the primacy of my position.

I glance at the LEDboard; it hasn’t been cleaned yet. I let it pass.

The previous lecturer obviously left it crowded to prove that he didn’t think much of what I teach. According to the Manual of Rank, Status and Authority, he is higher than my immediate boss by virtue of age, and higher than myself by both age and position.

For a people of higher status, high ranks can be remarkably juvenile.

“Good afternoon, class.” I say briskly, and as loud as I can. The address system is broken again. Manpower will have to do.

“Gooood aaafternoonn siiirr.” The class choruses in return, a cacophony of voices in different timbres and moods.

I gather my thoughts as I look at my slate. Over a hundred young souls; well, much closer to two hundred really. Most of them had high rank simply by virtue of birth.

It wasn’t in any Manual that one, ‘primacy by birth”, but everyone acted as if it was.

I was supposed to be teaching them ‘Philosophy and critical thinking’. What a farce! The system they had been pushed through up to then had methodically and progressively destroyed creativity and original thought.

I look over them as I mull. Each and every one of them has the smooth grey plastic of a torc around their neck. Each also has a single eye with a silvered pupil.

Continue reading

A Tale of 222 Speed Mumps…I mean bumps

They were the best of roads, they were the worst of roads…. Blah blah blah. I run over so many road bumps today that the thoughts in the mind are probably still all mixed up. Where was I? … Roads!

See in the beginning there were people; naturally selfish, perpetually hungry and always interested in the pursuit of happiness (money, shelter, food, water, booze and ‘you know’ [wink wink]). The situation most ideal to their selfish selves was to aggregate into communities which would facilitate this ‘pursuit of happiness’ (usually at the disadvantage of some poor idiot).

 Communities grew, and for various reasons, independent minded homo sapiens left to form new communities.

Reasons for leaving might have included:

  1. fights over whose turn it was to wash the dishes
  2. uncomfortable situations caused by the aforementioned ‘you know’
  3. realization of the fact that one’s idiocy was being exploited (moving wasn’t really a solution for that), and finally,
  4. occasional disagreements with the system of government – which at the time was simple: authority belonged to the man with the biggest stick. (as in reference with might and strength oo, Get your mind out of the gutter!)

Some communities eventually decided to trade, visit and generally hob nob with each other. Also for various reasons:

  1. trying to figure out the other folks’ secret production technique
  2. as an excuse to travel to greener grass for ‘you know’ (you’d be surprised how much hinged on this ‘you know’ thingy)
  3. getting gifts to surprise the wife (and also ease guilt over non-sanctioned acts of ‘you know’)
  4. and generally to check up on the Joneses and see if your happiness was just as good, or better, than their brand.

To get from town to town we made paths. The use of carts and horses meant wider paths which we then called roads (Route Over A Dry Surface).

The Romans perfected the rudimentary road in order to make them more efficient to form part of an efficient highway system to encourage an efficient administration system and aid an equally efficient army to move between provinces (the Romans were strangely addicted to efficiency, take an Intel chip back to them and they’d probably have found a way to make it more efficient).

Roads became even more annoying when the humble horse was replaced with the internal combustion (not the type which occurs in the farther ends of the large intestine) engine to forward industrial development. (because replacing manure and piss with noxious gasses was an obvious improvement [sarcasm?]).

As usually happens, someone found a way to mess up a good thing. Some genius woke up one day and thought, “Let’s prevent people from going too fast from one place to another, let’s intentionally set out to make the roads so poor that those speed maniacs will have no choice but to slow down.”

Said genius invented a road feature more irritating than potholes (I’m sorry if you think potholes are not a road feature, in my part of the world they are an integral part of road and highway design). Potholes were ‘dodgable’, speed bumps on the other hand…[sigh]

There was, in all this mania for the application of forceful, undodgable, speed retardants; an island of calm in the country in the centre of the world (more or less).

On this blessed isle, speed signs were regarded as one of two things; a polite suggestion or, a German autobahn speed restriction reading effectively as, “Would you mind making sure your vehicular speed does not drop below the speed indicated on this signboard. Thank you and have a nice day”

Some genius obviously figured that this island of peace could not remain untouched, I mean, their happiness shouldn’t be more than the rest of the country at the centre of the world should it?

Wise quote: “ ‘Tis not the speeding which is the problem, ‘tis having the idiocy to commit yourself to a sudden stop that causes all the mishap”

The residential area of the island caught the speed mumps… I mean bumps, first. Suddenly cars which whizzed along so fast that they were either devilishly suicidal or just flying too low… trundled gingerly over these mega speed rumps like, arthritic, cancer-ridden centenarians [sob].

It was the end of an era and the beginning of no revolution (what d’you expect? these are the citizens of the center of the world we’re talking about here.)

The speed mumps…. I mean rumps, weren’t so bad. However, years after the first attack a second attack took place… these weren’t the speed mumps, it was the speed measles!

It was as if the Easter Bunny moonlighted for the authorities and went around putting down speed strips instead of Easter eggs. And these weren’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill speed rumps/ bumps/rumble strips. If you thought the old ones were bad you were mistaken… the old ones wore down eventually. The old stuff was the devil, this new stuff was Microsoft!!!

The old ones were made out of the same stuff roads were made out of – paving blocks or asphalt , the new stuff was pure bee-coloured (black and white) steel riveted into the road. Good news [sarcasm], steel takes a looooooongg time to wear down.

Like I said before they’re a lot… enough to confuse a large thin bee looking for a mate. Fella would think we nailed a ton of bees all around the island as an act of large-thin-long beescrimination (beeicide?).

Placement of the metal strips was extremely inspired [sarcasm again]. The quota had been set, the strips had been bought, to hell with over-procurement! The strips had been got and they were damned well going to be placed! First, where pedestrians crossed; then where pedestrians might cross; then where cars might need to join a different stream, then … where other strips were feeling lonely and requested for some extra company.

The strips were devious, they let the pedestrians cross alright, but they also caused pileups at some places. Example: the main entry point into the island every single morning and evening like clockwork.

The questions remain unanswered: Whose idea was this? Were any studies conducted before implementation? Were any of the transportation or highway design greybeards of the island consulted? Was this about the money, the prestige, the politics or the people? Will I ever stop using way too many bracketed statements in my blog post? Will ‘gob3’ ever become a US Army staple ration food?…

Ouchies!! (Agyaei!!) My head aches, too many questions.

gtg. L8r ppl.

P.S. The $1,000,000 for the capture of the Easter bunny still stands, charges include wrongful moonlighting, crossing cultural lines with harmful materials, misrepresentation, forgery, public annoyance and working under the influence.

Update: This post was originally published on 08/03/2011. Since then new bee-colored strips have appeared, Microsoft’s supremacy of evil has been exceeded by Google and the reward for the capture of the Easter Bunny has been upped to $2,500,000.

This is why I HATE/LOVE/FEAR/HOPE/WRITE

This is why I hate:

I hate because some things just go against my grain.
I hate when people who are driven by an –ism forget that some of us aren’t –ists: racists, rapists, fundamentalists, and chauvinists.
I hate that my faith has become a religion of people
Who have forgotten the meaning of love your neighbor as yourself.
I hate that I am not more:
Amazing, focused, loving, driven, forgiving, believing and giving.
I hate because I’m frail, human

This is why I love:
I love because my faith is one of love,
One of peace and understanding.
I love because I am in love with love and all it’s forms;
Passionate, tender, brotherly, reciprocated.
I love because it’s lovely to be in love.
I love because there is a whole world of things to love,
Not just people but also:
Ideas, images, perspectives, creation, food, art and life.
I love because I’m human, but love; it is divine.

This is why I fear:
I fear because the world around me is imperfect.
I fear because of the children
and the future they’ve been given:
less love, more greed, more pollution, less free, less conscience, more need.
I fear because my mind gets negative.
I fear because of:
death and ends and entropy and disease and injustice at every corner.
I fear regardless of faith and love.
I fear because I’m human, and as I live I fear.
This is why I hope:
I hope because sometimes hope is all I have.
I hope because it’s a rope that connects faith to reality.
I hope for the world,
that some things will become less:
poverty, fear, hate, rape, division, violence and disease.
I hope for:
Africa and Asia and Europe and America and Oceania.
I hope that hope drives men to be better.
I hope that a dream comes true each day,
If not mine then some others.
I hope that humanity survives.
I hope because I’m human, and sometimes hope is all I can do.

 

This is why I write
I write because I love to,
Though I hate it just a little bit.
I write to bleed my mind before it explodes;
Free it of things like:
Hope, love, dreams, ideas, perspectives, fear and hate.
I write because I can’t not create.
I write to think, and thus to be.
I write not because I’m human, but to remain human.

Much ado About Nothing Really

Hello again friends, after a long much deserved vacation (yes, I know it doesn’t seem like I deserved it, but then you forget, I’m a government worker) your favourite cynic is back with his sage (,rosemary and ginger) reflections on the state of matters as they stand (or sit).

Those of you who are fans of the bracket statements will be glad to know that I resisted an intervention to that note.

Those of you who didn’t like ‘em, well, tough tomatoes, (which incidentally are never ever really that tough… trust me, I checked) you’ll have to get in line behind my word processor, a battalion of English teachers and of course a large group of appropriately attired solicitors.

As it is, once again I started typing this post with absolutely nothing to say. This means, once again, I’ll have to make it up as I go.

(don’t fret peeps, the last couple American administrations have been running their country the same way and look ..how… well … ….Ok, maybe that wasn’t the best example )

Que sera sera, let’s carpe the diem (pidgin Latin).

To those interested in knowing, no, my word processor has not yet abstained from gleefully applying itself to my typed work [sigh]. The squiggly red, green and blue lines have now become a mainstay on my screen.

As if that wasn’t enough, yahoo, facebook, tweetdeck and a dozen others have decided that the red squigglies might be a good idea. The Red squigglies are the most annoying when they appear under your given name. I mean wtf?! (Where’s the Fridge!), my name isn’t West! (heyyyy, that’s not a bad Hollywood baby name, sure beats Apple, Blanket and Kal-el don’t it?).

But let’s not digress

(which was the whole idea behind this whole piece so I guess that was [sarcasm]).

I get the Greek story of medusa. Ever come across a lady so fine you just have to stop and stare, it’s like you’ve seen fireworks.

(yes, I like Katy Perry and OneRepublic. Sue me! – but you will have to get in line behind an upsettingly long line of aforementioned solicitors)

It doesn’t matter that the chick got punished by a goddess; (from making people turn into stone figuratively, to making it happen literally? Goddess sure must have had a bizarre sense of humour) in a twisted way, a head of snakes was kind of the greatest Ms Universe crown ever bestowed.

The next topic we’re going to skip to – me learning driving. To those of you who know me well, I’m spatially challenged. My balance is almost perfect, my reflexes are okay, but my perception of space must have been reincarnated from Salvador Dali’s dreams (to those of you who don’t know… … Google it).

I can’t even remember the last time I caught a pair of keys tossed to me (which makes me wonder why people keep on tossing the damn things to me). This has given me an unhealthy fear of gutters, which, in my side of town, remain uncovered. I might be getting the hang of the car’s space though… I think. For now, however, I will have to try and restrain my trigger happy accelerator (a.k.a gas) pedal foot.

([in a slightly insane crescendo] “it feels the need… the need for speed” [insert maniacal laughter, a la Jim Carrey’s Mask])

If I ain’t dead from the urges of my Carrey-esque alter-personality, I will, hopefully, be giving weekly blog updates on both of my blogs. The more pagan amongst you might want to pour a couple of drops of libation, or make a few sacrifices (whichever works) to the gods of the public holiday… … the rest… just pray and fast.

Ever since I was employed by the government, the public holiday is my only respite. The craziness however resents the restrictions imposed by formal employment; this blog still remains one of the few ways to give it a field day. More field days = more posts.

P.S. If office workers call and school children call ‘em: field days, what do farmers call them?

L8r, and “May the squigglies be with you!”

This post was originally published on my old blog on 05/09/2011. On 15/06/2013, Mr. Kanye West welcomed his baby girl into the world. She was named after a cardinal direction. I told it (kind of) 649 days in advance: a full year, 9 months and 10 days!

Love and Related Diseases: The Bulletproof Idiot

Certain people have high self esteem, the rest don’t. It’s the same way certain people are beautiful and the rest… ernghhh! [loud buzzer sound].

The world seems to be horribly unfair this way, but in truth, maybe it isn’t. I’m just sayin’. Before I go off on one of my irrational tangents again (for an engineering major, it’s amazing how long it took me to actually understand the tangent principle… I guess that’s what they mean when they say “leave space for miracles”).

Talking about leaving space for miracles, a friend of mine (atypical statement for people referring to themselves in the third person to avoid embarrassment) was reminiscing lately on the good old days

(good old days is an extraction (inverse of the word contraction) of the phrase “gold days”)

I remember writing a dubious paper in prison school dubbed torture maths (a.k.a elective torture).

In the world of words that are an understatement; ‘torture maths’ reigns as supreme overlord, dictator and potentate. The math master somehow set questions that defied probability. I mean it should be impossible to score 04 (over 100, not 10) in a paper with a 40 question multiple choice section right?

Wrong!

No space for miracles, not a single dotted line. [Sigh] Good times, good times [blatant sarcasm].

Interestingly enough this post has nothing to do with exams. I just tangented (see me inventing new words again, a credit to my English teachers I am) to that topic as a celebration of my last university paper (God willing, lecturer not forbidding).

This post is about innocence lost. Where ‘innocence lost’ of course implies a certain level of cynicism. As a carrier of the cursed XY chromosome set, I came into the world… well… cursed.

(In a matter of speaking. Hyperbole people, it’s just exaggeration… Someone might take this literally and go all holy water and incense on me… No! Don’t be like you don’t know. You know yourself!)

The curse was simple. In the family of epic vampire and werewolf novellas, at the dawning of that phase called adolescence all arrows would point to the formerly despised XX’s and spears would begin to rattle at the slightest… y’all know what I mean.

(at this juncture I find it necessary to inform all minds to watch out for the gutter,… minds already in the gutter should please extricate themselves and follow the clearly marked neon signs to the bathroom to clean up)

The thing about human being’s only using 3% of their brains computing power is hogwash. As an adolescent, a friend of mine personally informed me, he used 25% of his brain power. The sad is, 24.9% percent of that power was furiously performing analysis of moods, actions, words and looks from the XX species. The sadder is, the brain was working a ‘cos90’ job trying to form an analysis.

I personally have nothing against the Eve-kind. Some of my best friends are of the Eve kind. It’s just that some days make me lay awake nights pondering: When the good Lord removed a rib to create Eve why did he remove the most complex one?

On the plus side, as hairless mammals we have one thing on our side…

(not opposable thumbs, thumbs are simply tool manipulators that allow modern man to engage in vital pursuits such as channel surfing and mobile gaming)

I was talking about A-D-A-P-T-A-T-I-O-N!

There is no big mystery when you try as many methods of approach as possible till you hit the jackpot (jill-pot?).

In truth, I understand very little. This vexes me because some of my close species members are of the mind that I do. I am just about as clueless as a honey badger in a wasp’s nest, or a little bit more so.

I have waded through the morass of male-female interaction based on several random interaction-reaction theories. My favorites will I now reveal to you so that you too reader, may achieve (dis)enlightenment!

One of my early favorites was the Brownian Theory. To understand the XX one must first clear the mind. Focus on his center… and give up! To apply a specific model to feminine behavior is impossible so why try, no?

This theory was inspired by the Brownian motion thingy as applied in prison-school level chemistry. If different females and their thinking are like random particle motion, the key rule is MOVE NOT! If you sit still enough for long enough, (and get enough bum-sores in the process) a random particle will bop you on the head before you know it.

Beware however, in the spirit of Brownian motion, you may never get hit (sad, sad story).

My current turn of tactic is one I would like to call the Bulletproof Monk… or more accurately the Bulletproof Idiot.

First the Idiot; one must accept his cluelessness (as done by a friend of mine) and embrace it. To deny your cluelessness is to deny yourself.

(To actually always have a clue is too much work in the first place)

Next is the bulletproof; if you’re going to get shot (down), the least you can do is wear bulletproof vest, no? A friend of mine revealed that three of his fave vests are sarcasm, cynicism and humour.

 For added safety on extreme missions, layering of bulletproof vests is not only allowed, it’s a must, after all like the marines: “we take care of family” (may possibly be a misquote from the Mafia or something.)

The bulletproof idiot is much more effective than the Brownian theory. The ‘Bulletproof Idiot’ means that every time you go after someone, it’s someone you like. You don’t have to keep on evaluating random hits for dating suitability.

Theory is one thing however… wish my friend luck in his pursuit!

This article does not by either inference or similarity mean to demean any sex. Any demention (demeaning?) is totally coincidental and unintentional. Notice is also given that comedic license is in force.

No bullets, monks, ‘friends of mine’ or idiots were harmed in the making of this post.

Certified by the ISPBMFMIANE (International Society for the Protection of Bullets, Monks, Friends of Mine, Idiots and Associated Non-represented Entities)

The Last Goodbye – Fiction in Less Than 500 words

The lone light in the room is not dim exactly. It is placed at an angle that makes that makes the shadows in the tiny apartment room seem larger.

A half empty, or half-full bottle of beer (depending on one’s worldview) sits on a center table. A wooden center table stained with battle wounds of an army of coaster-less mugs, cups and bottles, simple stains and stains of more exotic origin.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt…” She murmurs.

“Well, sorry to upset you, but you did” he retorts caustically without allowing her the breath it would take to complete her sentence.

Suspense fills the seconds, stretching them into hours. Then he whines. Sarcasm replaced by desperation “You know, how I feel… I can’t put this into words exactly. Knowing you has changed me, made me better… I don’t know how to end this.”

Dramatic sigh. A sigh doubtlessly invented by Helen of Troy. “That’s why I am doing it for you. I have my path set out for me, and you have your art.”

A car horn, odd for this time of the evening, honks twice in passing. A taxicab. It’s marketing for custom becomes an uninvited participant in this dialogue.

“Screw the art! You are art, my inspiration.” He exclaims, with a spark loud enough to inflame kindling but not hearts.

“You’ve never run out of the wrong words to say,” She mumbles wryly, and then louder “I have to leave”.

“Hold on, at least… at least give me one last memory, something to remember you by. One last kiss” he stammers, clutching onto straws.

“I want that twice as much as you do, and that makes this twice as hard,” her voice catches a bit in a half sob, then hardens “This is the last goodbye”.

“I don’t know,” a second, deeper male voice bellows gently “Is it believable enough?” “I mean, William’s script is genius but Yaa could probably have sold it a bit more”.

“Sold it more my ass!” Yaa exclaims, eyes flashing, “That was a Grammy award right there Boris!”.

“Academy Award” Boris corrects gently. “Prince says it like he means it, you seem a little bit flat in comparison.”

“Maybe I do mean it” Prince grunts under his breath, piqued.

“What was that?” Yaa turns on him, looking ready to cut him a new one.

“I said maybe we need a break. Let’s take a break for fifteen minutes and rehearse that scene from the top.”

Ronin Extract: Chapter 1 – Kai

The following extract is from the first chapter of a short science-fantasy novel I’m working on. It’s called Visored – Ronin. Work on it has been stalled because of my current project, the serial short story, The Rising.

***

I heard once that any technology sufficiently advanced looks like magic. I don’t know about that, but the Masks are definitely magic…. Dark, evil, magic which corrupt a man’s soul and morals. I know what Iggy says about the theories behind the Mask technology; energy fields, quantum memory, mass-energy transmutation, synaptic links and all that.

Iggy is blinded by the mystery; he can’t see the reality right before our eyes because he’s in his own world. Right now Iggy is pissing me off. I need his mind here, in the real world, if we’re going to make this work.

Continue reading

Jupiter and Mars

She sweats stars
And breathes tears
I dream of cars
And speak unclear
Like Jupiter and Mars
We’re so far yet so near

Picasso and Plato
Are the words that’s she says
She sits right beside me
Yet I’m consumed with fear
Like Jupiter and mars
We’re so far yet so near

Monsoon rains
Don’t give me leave
Because if you go
It will be just me
And her…

Like Jupiter and Mars
So far yet so near

Death Chases Me

“I need a drink, now boy!! “ The mouth that splutters this is an inch away from my face and smells like a hard liquor brewery.

To call the man attached to this mouth ‘scruffily dressed’ would be an over-kind compliment. He wears a suit jacket and a rumpled, blue-striped cotton shirt that is three sizes away from him. What is visible of his khakis have obviously seen better days, a sliver of cream peeking from beneath a cracked leather belt is the only bit of the original color that remains. A week’s worth of grey speckled beard covers sagging jowls below bloodshot eyes.

“I want the schtronges’ thing you haf” He slurs. Vocal agility is gone with the wind, or should I say, gone with the alcohol.

For maybe the thousandth time this week, I curse the stars that made me think of tending the bar at my maternal aunt’s drinking spot. I need the money, and I wouldn’t have gotten it lying around over the long vacation. I doubt I need it enough for this kind of recurring event though. I’m glad I have the bar instead of the floor today. The tired and pitted stone-pattern Formica top of the bar separates me from crazies like this tonight.

He pats his coat and trousers before digging into his back pocket to pull out a crumpled fifty cedi note. “Abrantie, make it fast!” he snaps, or at least appears to, “death is chasing me!”

I shrug and turn to get him something from the top-shelf. Something expensive. I don’t mean to let him leave the bar with even a pesewa of change. If you think I’m being ruthless, well, go burn the sea! The ground is as hard as rocks these days.

He mumbles to himself as I bend the ice cube tray backwards to get it to give away a few of the crystalline cubes trapped in it, (the full 5-star treatment you understand?) and fill the short gin glass to the brim. My ear catches a few of the words he speaks.

“…everyone in that tro-tro..” , “chasing me into the plane….” , “…the lift…”.

Bloodshot eyes barely glance at me before he grabs the glass and downs it’s contents in one go. He considers me carefully before mumbling, barely audibly “You want to shtay alive, don shtay behine the bar tonight boy”.

He totters away from the bar towards the door, good to go, as I turn to put his glass away. Then I remember that despite my best efforts, I owe him change off his fifty.

Two loud young working men, in what are obviously very expensive suits, sit down at the bar as the last flash of worn khaki disappears out of the doorframe. The odor of expensive cologne, still strong at the end of the day, and a pair of glares are the only things I notice as I grab three worn red notes; mumble a hasty apology and rush to the door.

The odd man is nowhere to be seen.

SPING! THWOCK! BRASHH!!

The sound of shattered glass bottles draws my eyes back to the bar, where a macabre scene is now painted. The three blades of the vintage fan that had been spinning cheerily a second ago have somehow come undone. All three have found their way to the bar.

One fan blade now juts out the chest of expensive suit number one. The second blade has bitten into of the formerly well-perfumed neck of expensive suit number two. The blood of both men spills off the counter like some sort of red syrup.

The third blade is still oscillating slightly from its new position amongst a mess of smashed liquor bottles. Embedded in the wooden wall behind the bar where my head should have been.

The third blade is still oscillating slightly in its new position amongst a mess of smashed liquor bottles. Embedded in the

Creating a memorable Antagonist.

A surprisingly helpful piece!

Ricky's chamber

          There are a myriad of characters that play many different roles in novels and comics. Of them all, I find the antagonist, or the villain, if you will, most intriguing. In my part of the world, the antagonist has a different name; a name that screams “Guilty!” and goes straight to the point – Killer. Who is a killer and what criteria must a character meet to earn the infamous badge of the antagonist?

              Pay attention; antagonists hate to be misunderstood. An antagonist is a being or creation of any kind that is capable of emotion and has the intellectual ability to plot against your protagonist. The antagonist must act to keep the protagonist (referred to as ‘Blowman’ where I come from) from achieving his/her goals. The antagonist may be the one enslaving a kingdom with dark…

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