sign posts

sometimes you stare at the shadows so long
you forget they’re just sign posts for the sun
stretching away from the rising east
and all you have to do is turn around
and look wide-eyed into a brighter light.

sure we can hide silent in the dark for a time
til’ the stabbing pain subsides in empty quiet,
til’ the slicing voices slide to the background
and the cuts they leave inside and out scab over
but we gotta walk out of this killing night

no one survives long in the airless underwater,
not one sad son and not one grieving daughter

take wing and leap toward the healing high skies;
weep for the lost, fuck the truth that everyone dies.
it’s still ok to blaze and burn phosphor bright

our lost stars don’t have to become sucking black holes,
they can leave nebula-shining Orion on our souls
colour-splashed evidence of lives that still break upon our shoals

Apple Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch

1534185396_samsung-galaxy-watch-vs-apple-watch-4-rumors-should-you-wait-660x400So I have been fixating on smart watches these days.

Full disclosure – I just ordered a new 46 mm Galaxy Watch. I use a Samsung Galaxy S8. I abandoned the Appleverse years ago, first in a terrible foray into the Windows Phone (great hardware…shittiest software experience ever) and then to Android, but not just any Android, Samsung – arguably the king of the Android experience (although Huawei and Xiaomi have some awesome offerings as well).

Back to Apple. You see since I ordered the Galaxy Watch I have been on pins and needles in regards to the Apple Watch series 4 which was just announced today.

Should I have waited to see what Apple is going to release?

This question weighed hard on me but in the hours since Apple’s big event I am pleased I went ahead with the Galaxy Watch. Let me be clear – the Galaxy Watch does not play well with the iPhone but it does play. The Apple Watch on the other hand does not play with anything other than Apple.

So right now the divide is – if you are an Apple iPhone user (11.9% of the market as of Q2 2018) according to Statista then the Apple Watch makes the most sense. If you are an Android user (88% of the market as of Q2 2018) than I would argue the best watch available to you is the Galaxy Watch.

Now smartwatches are interesting things. You cannot review and compare them in a vacuum because, by their very nature, they are integrated into any number of other worlds and technologies.

Still the temptation is strong. For instance if we were to compare the Galaxy Watch to the Apple Watch 4 without consideration of integration to iOS or Android devices but simple as standalone smartwatches I would argue that the Galaxt Watch wins handily over the Apple Watch.

For starters the form factor of the Galaxy Watch is round…this is not simply Samsung being traditional but recognizing that hundreds of years of watch development have dictated that the round form factor makes the most sense for people.

The rotating bezel around the edge is also the most elegant way to navigate through a smartwatch. The battery life on the Galaxy Watch is as long as seven days compared to 18 hours on the Apple Watch 4. The screen is now larger on the series 4 Apple Watch at 44 mm compared to Galaxy Watches 42 mm or 46 mm versions. The rotating button on the Apple Watch’s side also now incorporates haptic feedback. The new watch also has a louder speaker (50% louder than before). The Galaxy Watch has a feature to clear its speaker of water after swimming.

Apple has developed some interesting new health features including a fall sensor and a EKG ability for the Apple Watch – how much of this is hardware verses software time will tell as others like Samsung seek to emulate.

Apple has been a little short on the details too with the new watch announcement. Samsung practically overloaded us with technical details but some of those details are very important like the new MIL-STD-810G U.S. military durability standard it has achieved. I want to know how this compares to Apple because, while I may not be torturing it from a fitness and active lifestyle perspective this is a big selling feature for Apple’s watch. We should know how it compares.

We will have to wait and see – there is little in the way of tech specs that Apple releases even for previous versions of the watch so once Tom’s Guide, TechRadar and the others release full and detailed reviews perhaps we will know.

The Darkening Age: A Review

catherine-nixey-the-darkening-age

A lament, a eulogy, a grief observed – whatever you call it Catherine Nixey’s book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World is a brilliant, deftly written historical work that presents us with one of the little talked of consequences the rise of Christianity – that of the ultimate loss of classical Greek and Roman thought, art, culture and philosophy – and the consequences of that loss.

Nixey writes with an ascerbic wit and compelling pen that draws the reader in. Presented in a narrative style the work thankfully retains solid footnotes and endnotes that back up the claims and observations.

The reader is transported to the ancient world where they are led about by Nixey who acts as a tour guide pointing out subtle and not-so-subtle evidences of Christianity’s slow but increasingly powerful impact on the traditions of the ancient world.

Unlike an historical text the author’s voice, the obvious pain of loss and her anger at what has occured is plainly evident in the text. Is this a bias? Maybe. Is it simply the rational response of an historian to what has been lost – most certainly.

The focus of the book on loss and the negative impact of Christianity in this sense is appropriate given the vastness of historical tradition that is woven with Christianity and has sought to, consciously or otherwise, ignore negative portrayals. Essentially there is little within the historical canon that has chosen to focus on this subject in this way and so this focus is necessary.

A well backed-up chronicle of a systematic destruction of art, culture, law, religion, philosophy, architecture and more, Nixey’s work is a must read by Christian and non-Christian alike because it is not simply a chronicle of the ancient world but a compendium of reports and acts that bear a frightening resemblance to the current state of the world with the rise of populaism and the fear-driven violence that goes with it.

This resemblance is by no means an accident and highlights how this book is a book borne out of our own age.

An excellent overview of almost 600 years of history with varying focal points complete with beautiful illustrations, and a handy map of the Roman empire circa 100 AD.

Clear, concise and emminently readable (unlike many works of history) Nixey’s book is brilliant. One can hardly wait for her next work.

The Babadook: Horror for the Humanist Age

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY:

 

The Babadook is a fantastic horror film from 2014 out of Australia written and directed by Jennifer Kent and starring Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman that provides a humanist spin on the age-old genre.

What do I mean by this? Well consider that horror has traditionally been grounded in a Judeo-Christian framework of good verses evil in which the ultimate source of good’s power is God and evil, the devil. In traditional horror good (God) overcomes evil.

In The Babadook the ultimate source of good’s power is love – specifically the love of a mother overcoming the evil which seems to have no source…but maybe we just are not looking close enough to see where it is coming from.

There are a lot of thematic threads to the film including grief, birth, the stress and anxiety of being a single mother, womanhood/feminism, the stregnth of the feminine – but nowhere do we find an appeal to the traditional weapons of horror – God, symbols of God, appeals to God and faith etc. No prayer, no priests. There are men in the film but they are unhelpful.

Horror has been evolving as spirituality evolves and humanism grows, not to mention the influence of other cultures and spiritualities from the east. For instance in Japanese horrors like The Grudge and The Ring which have influenced western horror we find a horror message that says there is no hope for people who tamper with or otherwise involve themselves with the supernatural.

In The Babadook we find a horror that says the power to overcome evil rests within us (and perhaps so does the evil).

Ultimately evil is not destroyed. An uneasy truce is forged which requires a tacit recognition that the evil within exists, we cannot destroy it but such recognition gives us authority and strength over it. There is a recognition that the good we seek to overcome the evil also rests within and must be grasped.

A powerful horror that moves the genre forward (or at least in a different direction).

Other things worth mentioning. The Babadook has a lot in common with The Exorcist. In some ways it seems as if The Exorcist may have influenced and/or served as a framework for this film. Stylistically and thematically they share similarities although The Babadook is not so obvious with the iconography and use of music and symbolism to define and frame the battle between good and evil.

Over time I expect the film will earn a place in the pantheon of influential horror films. A very worthwhile watch.

 

Finding Family

Today I found out I have two more siblings I never knew I had – to be accurate two half-brothers.

To catch you up I received the gift of a DNA test from my wife a couple of years ago. From it I learned I was half-Jewish on the dad’s side. This came as a surprise to me and so I called my mum and she informed me that, yes, my father was Jewish but this was all the info she could recollect (apparently the 60s were somewhat freewheeling).

So for two years now I have been combing through 23&Me’s database along with others slowly cobbling together a list of 3rd to 5th cousins seeking to figure out anything about my dad’s side of the family.

About six months ago I received an email from a 1st cousin (this changes…stay tuned) who had just received the results of her 23&Me test. She was surprised to learn she had a 1st cousin she didn’t know about. I updated her on the sensitive nature of my parentage and she was very amazing about it.

I told her that if her dad took the test we would likely be able to zero in on who my father was but also warned her that she should talk to her family about this first because these sorts of family secrets can upset people. She was awesome about the whole thing.

Fast forward to today where I learned that both her father and her uncle (who also took the test) are my half-brothers making her, in fact, my half-neice. We are going to let this sink in for a bit before family reunions etc. occur but wow. I know who my father was (passed away). I learned I have two more siblings. I can now fill in half of my family history I never knew. I learned that my father’s side of the family is Samuels.

Powerful stuff.

Who is my neighbour?

Who is my neighbour?

These days the definition of neighbour is getting narrower and narrower. The level of distrust and manic panic in the world contributes to this.

We are taught (many of us) to love our neighbours but when push comes to shove we start hearing rhetoric like “well love hurts sometimes; sometimes saying no is loving; if you love someone you have to let them help themselves etc” which are all generally code for “I have to act in a way that is not loving so how can I rationalize this?”

We have added conditions to love. We have built a wall of laws and legalistic interpretations around love. It is difficult to find love these days amidst the sea of defensiveness and selfishness.

Our biggest barrier to love is the mindset of “if we cannot help everyone we will help no one”. We fall for this individually, corporately and nationally. It is defeatism. It is the belief that loving one person cannot possible make a difference so why bother.

We are so primed to say NO nowadays that we spend no time working out how we can say YES.

We are mostly about WALLS and NO and BARRIERS and GO AWAY and FEAR these days…all stumbling blocks to love.

The biggest stumbling block to love is strangeness. As long as the stranger remains the stranger we do not have to love them. As long as we avoind relationship we do not have to have empathy which paves the way of love.

One simple act begets another. One step in front of the other in the great ressitant stormfront that is this world makes a difference. Just move. Just love.