Lance Armstrong and Arduinos

Lance Armstrong; how very disappointing.

The arduino, purchased as a Christmas present for one of my children, has been a huge success and will pass into family legend as one of the most successful Christmas gifts ever.  It has occupied minds and resulted in hours spent on the computer, not in addicted and anti-social game playing, but in thoughtful and detailed programming.

We have been treated to speakers blaring, lights flashing in a variety of combinations as well as for varying lengths of time, and planned projects for movement sensors and remote controlled everything.  I have learnt the importance of brackets, spacing and repeated lines of code; it’s all a foreign language to me, but the general air of industry is gratifying to behold.

I wonder if Mr Armstrong’s thirteen year old son, who has defended him so vigorously and for so long, is finding joy and comfort in the gifts which he received at Christmas.  I sincerely hope that there is something, during this very confusing and difficult period of his life, which is bringing interest, distraction and bright dreams.

As parents, our responsibility and duty to be role models brimming with integrity and authenticity can never be overstated.

Live well, not merely for your own sake, but for that of the vulnerable and hopeful folk who are watching you.



London O, London.

Last night and this morning the complete, the total, the wanton destruction of my manor flashed before my eyes.  Nationally downplayed, due to its Olympic Host Borough status, but real, extensive and irreparable damage occurred nonetheless.  Already ailing and wounded businesses attacked, perhaps mortally wounded.  My jeweller’s shop vandalised, ransacked, looted.  Bank and retailers all falling victim to the carnage displayed before us.  This precious, cherished space desecrated by burning buses, looting teenagers and abject moral poverty.  How have we allowed this to happen – on our watch, in our land?  How will we avert further madness and mayhem when there are already too few police and many jobs are going to be cut?

Regardless of where we live, who we are, what we think – these are OUR children.  These angry, aimless, anarchistic beings are our offspring, our future, our heirs.  What have we done (or not done) to allow these the destructive, the vengeful and the lost to commandeer our streets, destroy the work of generation and further impoverish our recession-struck homeland?  What have we done?  Where have we been?

Why didn’t we notice that our children were marching to a very different drum beat from our own?  Why didn’t we see and stop the disaffection displayed in small things?  Why didn’t we heed their speeches and realise that “hope” was a word completely expunged from their vocabulary?

It all has so little to do with the manslaughter of Mr Duggan; yet, it has everything to do with it.  The underlying issues and problems are the same.  Where is the communication – the two way conversation to which each person contributes?  Where is the embedded and deeply ingrained sense of respect, value and inclusion?  Where is the commitment to harmonious, positive, co-dependent living?

We spend hours and millions abolishing childhood, propelling our children from the cot to the catwalk from the nursery to the nightclub, from diapers to disillusionment (with as few stops as possible in between) and then question their lack of responsibility, their earth-shattering immaturity and their all-consuming selfishness.  We all know that the most highly prized plants grow slowly and steadily.  It is the wild flowers and weeds which rush to maturity; invading, disturbing and potentially creating chaos in well-ordered and well-managed surroundings.  For best results, we tackle weeds when young – before they ever have an opportunity to multiply – and consistently monitor and nurture our growing spaces.

So, where have we been?  What have we been doing?  How have we missed the signs?  We know how to cultivate and care.  We know the rules and we have the resources.  This is an alarm call for all of us; our country, our communities and our children – especially the feral ones – require our immediate care, concern and intervention.

Symbols of Slavery

In this place, it seems that the incidence of couples deciding that marriage is not a natural destination for serious, committed relationships is particularly high.  I have heard repeated, several times, the explanation that the preceding generation was blighted by an epidemic of divorce which has rendered their offspring marriage-averse.  The same tale springs as easily from the lips of 20-somethings as from 40-somethings.  Thirty plus years of broken marriages used as an explanation for the anaphylactic response induced by the very word, “wedding”.  It’s all quite extraordinary.  Add to that the current craze for tattooing and piercing oneself – particularly the task of creating large holes in one’s earlobes – and it becomes obvious that a history lesson is long overdue.    

Ignorance is never attractive.  Participating in specific behaviour is entirely a matter for oneself only IF one is fully informed of the symbolism, the underlying message and the potential consequences.  (Consider the origin and meaning of the trousers on the hips, underwear on display epidemic which still appears to be sweeping the nation, and you cannot fail to understand the point!)  So, here begins the lesson.

Merely scratch the surface of colonial history and one discovers that slaves were forbidden to marry.  Marriage was a ritual and rite of passage reserved for slave owners, the aristocracy, the wealthy and the free.  Slaves were objects with fewer entitlements than many animals and were used, amongst other things, as breeding stock.  They were not encouraged to form or maintain emotional or familial attachments.  Neither were they deemed capable of the morality or intelligence of the ruling classes.  It was entirely common for a slave to be marked by his or her owner – for the purpose of identification, should the slave be stolen or have the temerity to attempt to escape.  It was also normal for slaves to have large holes in their earlobes, by which they could be tethered at slave auctions and for punishment.  Indeed, there is plenty of evidence of slaves also being forced to wear leather or metal collars with a lead, identical to a hound.  Don’t just take my word for it – take the time to do some basic research of your own.  For many people, the right not to be physically marked, the right not to have huge holes driven through one’s ears and the right to marry – like the right to vote – was a hard fought, hard won battle. 

The symbols of bondage and freedom are diametrically opposed, still both are yours.  Today, look at yourself and choose.