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Well, this sucks …

boschsevendeadlysins

The Seven Deadly Really Sucky Things

It just so happens that today, the 9th of November in the year 2016, I am rereading Richard Leakey’s  1994 take on how we became what we’ve become, “The Origin of Humankind” . The timing of the read was dictated by nothing more than it being the only hardback book on hand after relocating to Italy, but it all seems somehow prescient upon awakening this morning.

Why?

Donald Trump has been elected to be President of The United States. Wow. Aside from underlining just how good an idea it was to leave the US almost 25 years ago, there are no positive points to this now being the actual reality. (Had it been scripted and edited as ‘reality shows’ actually are, no one would ever have believed this situation even remotely possible … no matter how clever the contrived convolutions.)

The New York Times conveniently compiled a list of The Donald’s tacky snipes , so there’s no reason to dwell on the nasty divisiveness that spews forth from His Orangeness, but it does rub against the grain even more abrasively when juxtaposed aside the anthropological construct that says humanity itself … the very basics of what makes humans human and separates us from apes … began evolutionarily with sharing.

As Leakey states in his 1981 book, “The Making of Mankind”, sharing is THE factor that puts us where we are, “ … the food sharing hypothesis is a strong candidate for explaining what set early humans on the road to modern man.”

The Smithsonian’s Richard Potts notes in “Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai”:

The home-base, food-sharing hypothesis integrates so many aspects of human behavior and social life that are important to anthropologists — reciprocity systems, exchange, kinship, subsistence, division of labor and language.

Yet 1.5 million years later where are we?

We are in a world that just made a lying bigot with zero experience, no integrity, ethics or morals the most powerful man on the planet, not only suggesting democracy is a failed system, but also that evolution has come to naught. Sharing made us human, now not sharing will reduce us to whatever form of cockroach-like scramblers we are destined to become as Earth revolts against perpetual rape and some learn the hard way that avarice is actually one of the seven deadly sins.

And … just FYI …

Sands in Seychelles Today

It’s a Small World

S. Hanks

There is a song that plays on an endless loop throughout the entire duration of one of the rides in Disneyland; it goes on and on and on, driving everyone slightly mad as it drills its way into the brain, then lives there forever. Occasionally, and under certain circumstances, it rises to the surface and repeats and repeats like all earworms do.

Yes, it’s annoying, and there are times you wish you’d never stepped into the little boat that scoots you by various scenes featuring singing, dancing animatronic figures. Sometimes, however, a point you never guessed was profound hits home and lends credibility to a theme park attraction.

“It’s a world of laughter
a world of tears.
It’s a world of hope and
a world of fears.
There’s so much that we share
that it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all.”

There is no doubting the veracity of those intentionally insipid lyrics in today’s world; it is much smaller than it used to be. It is well within living memory for many when getting from just about anywhere else to Seychelles took days or weeks, yet now within only a matter of hours people can experience a change of scene from snowy city streets to the warm sand of a beach.

And communication! Long gone are the days of waiting and waiting for a letter to arrive; ‘snail mail’ we now call it, and for a reason. Now the written word can be transmitted in fractions of seconds from thousands of miles distant with no more effort than the touch of a button. Phone calls no longer require an international operator and tremendous expense, and access to information about anything anywhere is as easy to acquire as a whim and a click.

Ideas and thoughts make their way around the globe in less time than it takes to form them in the first place. Information moves every bit as fast, which has us knowing more about what’s in the heads of people around the world than where our neighbors stand on issues.

Yes, it is a small world after all. Billions of people from places as far-flung as is possible on our planet are now connected in ways unimaginable only a century ago.

One could be forgiven for thinking all the millions upon millions of threads connecting humanity would have woven a beautiful tapestry by now, and we must wonder just why that has not been the case.

Although we far too often wake to the news of mass murders in far places, there remains a lack of compassion that is deafening in the shoulder shrugs simultaneously delivered by far too many. Personal prejudice meets ingrained intolerance as Us-vs-Them conveys some sense of superiority assumed to provide a protective shield against any horror that has happened ever coming within range.

What seems to be ignored or rejected is the plain truth that we are all connected whether we want to be or not, and through designation in the species Homo sapiens there is so little difference between one and all the rest of our kind that in the grand scheme we are virtually identical. Biological duplicates, our hearts and our brains are made up of the same matter and we all bleed red.

Creating divisions is a strategy perpetuated as a convenient illusion for the benefit of those who thrive on pitting one against the other whether that be through borders or rituals. ‘Divide and conquer’ is the oldest trick in the game book when grasping for power is the agenda; sex against sex, race against race, religion against religion, nationality against nationality, sexual preference against sexual preference … all cynically designed to faction off segments of a population for discrimination, then bolster an unearned and inappropriate sense of superiority in whichever grouping one may identify with.

The end result, and often the desired result, is hatred, and when enough of that has been stirred to the surface things get very ugly and people die.

It is time we all stopped paying attention to differences and learned one simple lesson from the Magic Kingdom …

There IS much that we share, and it IS time we’re aware it’s a small world after all.

Sands in Seychelles Today

Thin Skin Burns

S. Hanks

“Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that humor excites in those who lack it.” ~ George Saintsbury

There is a childhood adage dating back to the mid-1800s that goes, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Meant to arm kids with a tool to fend off the nastiness and name-calling pervading schoolyards and neighborhoods where children gather to play and taunt each other, it can work quite well. After all, words are just ephemeral bits of sound waves that bounce off eardrums or squiggles on a page that register in the brain as having some meaning, whereas bits of wood and rock can draw blood and literally break bones.

The tendency these days, however, is to attach all sorts of potential for injury to utterances, an attitude which can leave recipients in blubbering heaps unable to either ignore comments or to fire back with a biting retort, the lack of both a lifetime handicap. Being thin-skinned does not allow much bounce and makes people mean in their attempts to prove themselves perpetually correct and superior in everything.

Certainly no one should ever attack another person’s physical, mental, emotional, familial or whatever personal attributes another may have — that’s just rude and low, and says more about the commenter than the target of their vitriol, This, however, is far from a perfect world, so would it not be helpful if those earmarked for verbal assault were taught to deflect disparaging remarks in innocuous ways?

This is where humor comes in handy. Pointing and laughing can ricochet an insult off the thick, humor-armed hide of a victim of denigration, then slam it smack dab into the sloping forehead of a venom-spewing jerk at high velocity and packing a punch not soon forgotten. An effective quip, a barb dipped in sarcasm, a snide aside … all have the potential to disarm a tormenter and leave them a sputtering puddle of mortification without having to do any more than send a few well-chosen sound waves or squiggles in their direction.

Unfortunately, the sense of humor is not evenly spread throughout our species; some people just don’t get it, either through a genetic deficiency or having suffered a sagacity excision somewhere along the line. This is especially true when the taunting bully is shored up with self-righteous indignation they feel conveys some sort of carte blanche giving their views priority and protection against embarrassing come-backs. For reasons beyond comprehension and often contrary to the effectiveness of any original proposed point, this sort almost always lacks a funny bone, appreciation of well-placed irony and satire, so reactions to jests and jibes tend to go the way of obnoxious at best, and downright loathsome in many cases.

Due to objectives having less to do with civil discourse carrying potential for influence, but more about self-aggrandizement, this sort also vigorously and vitriolically takes part in social media and, absent humor, resorts to rudeness, threats, toddler-like verbal foot stomping (sans the humanity-leveling comedy routine that comes with “I know you are, but what am I?”, and “Neener Neener Neener!”), often ALL CAPS and, in typically cowardly fashion, under a fake profile assumed to absolve all personal responsibility.

Designed to intimidate, this does sometimes work, but many who have developed a sense of humor, honed it to a fine point and maintain its edge with practice, find it hilarious.

After all, sticks and stones …

Sands in Seychelles Today

Where’s the Clock Tower?

S. Hanks

Do you remember the days when town was a pleasant place to be? When a stroll through the streets offered a mix of restful respite and an exciting sense of potential adventure? When a fun day in Victoria was a regularly scheduled event anticipated with delight?

No?

Me, neither.

Before the big screen TV went up and began bombarding visitors with adverts, before the traffic patterns were altered by what had to be some schizophrenic crack addict compelled to add sort-of-one-way streets, squeeze in extra lanes and install traffic lights set to back up cars from Le Chantier to Anse Etoile, Victoria was a quaint, slow little town with streets that encouraged meandering and people content to meander.

Meandering was required in those days, as straight-ahead shopping was, for all intents and purposes, simply not possible. Finding required or desired items took time, quite a bit of luck, and no little local knowledge.

For example, if scrubbing against a concrete slab had worn the crotch out of every pair of knickers you owned (washing machines being rarer in those days), vital shopping info included the fact that the place that sold undergarments for ladies could be identified by a stack of car tyres on display at the door, and although moulouk and samosas were ubiquitous, cheese that came in anything other than a blue box required serious hunting that was most often unsuccessful.

Those in the know knew where to go, though, so the pace was easy and, aside from Saturday mornings in the market, the crowds were thin and friendly, unless, of course, some new or long-vanished item was suddenly on offer; occasions that could, and sometimes did, result in mayhem.

Today, however, Victoria is far different; all hustle and bustle with some hassle and wrestle involved in making one’s way down Market Street or joining a ridiculously long queue in some bank or office. Frustration builds as nerves fray and folks have other places they were supposed to be an hour ago.

One result of these changes has been an ever-growing outbreak of a syndrome that could be called, were it ever officially diagnosed, Town-Avoidance, the symptoms of which include fever-like sweats at the very thought of the Trois Oiseau roundabout, exhaustion resulting from lost sleep due to pre-planning possible routes and parking options, and interminable must-do lists mushrooming frighteningly as a consequence of putting off any trip to Victoria for as along as possible.

Sufferers hail from as near as Macabee and as far as Takamaka and range in age from just walking to sensibly intolerant of jostling, although there does seem to be some immunity for those between the ages of 12 and 20, especially during school holidays.

At this point there is neither treatment, nor cure for this affliction, so sufferers must either cope with the agony of town days or fall victim to depleted supplies, incomplete paperwork and rumors that the clock tower has been relocated.

New Gig

I’m now a columnist in the only newspaper worth reading in Seychelles and will be posting my twice-weekly contributions here a couple of weeks after they’ve run.Here’s Number One:

Today in Seychelles
June 8 at 6:27pm ·
Sands In Seychelles Today

‘20 Years a Seychellois’  by Sandra Hanks

Much to the chagrin of no few in this country, I am now a new and regular addition to this publication and will be contributing two columns per week. I will be writing of a wide variety of subjects that for one reason or another grab my attention and prompt thoughts I find worth the time and effort to put down in words for general consumption by Today readers.

Experience grown from responses to articles, blogs and social media has shown I am often disagreed with and my take on situations challenged; a circumstance that is more than okay with me, as my raison d’être has long been to promote discussion in efforts to broaden the width and plumb the depths of interactions while sharing information and seeking out unfamiliar opinions for examination and comparison.

Topics will range widely, often inspired by timely events, ridiculous situations, frustrations, observations and escapades, and, as any who read my work know, I take no prisoners. That is to say that I call ‘em as I see ‘em and, this being my column, I see no reason to frame reflections in vagary, nor do I have any inclination to modify my writing for easy reading. I like words, so I use them, and if some are unfamiliar a dictionary is a very handy tool.

To those who will attempt to shut me up (or down) by attempting to throw the fact that I wasn’t born in Seychelles of Seychellois parentage and my Creole isn’t that of one born here, allow me to point out that according to the latest in demographic information I have lived in Seychelles longer than 30% of the population while fully participating in all aspects of life, embracing family and raising children here.

I will also mention there are THREE official languages, and English is one of them.

I am a ‘naturalized’ Seychellois, a designation that could be interpreted to indicate it was no random accident of birth, but rather a fact that out of all the countries in the world I chose this one to call home: ‘Home’ meaning ‘the place I do my best to keep tidy, protected, safe, and conducive to happy, healthy life’.

It often happens when I say or write something someone disagrees with or feels offended by, responses lobbed like grenades in my direction have less to do with valid contradictions or challenges to observations or postulations I have made, but instead suggest an unhelpful, ‘love it or leave it’, and, ‘go back to where you came from’ message revealing a thin-skinned mentality that rejects any constructive criticism while favoring genuflection at the altar of ethnocentrism.

With no inclination to fall to my knees under most circumstances, that is not going to happen, so here’s a caveat … If you don’t like what I write, there are three options open:
1) Don’t read it
2) Read, then react through civil comments that make some sense
3) Read, then ponder … reading ALL the words with no cherry-picking

I look forward to lively dialog, passionate exchanges of information and perspective, and sharing my obiter dictums with readers of Today.12088234_886024151435396_5922235486110094192_n

Another post from Chris on Bird Island. Terrific place, and even more so in nesting season!

Wild Bird Conservation

Sooty Terns nesting at high density on Bird Island - June 2016 Sooty Terns nesting at high density on Bird Island – June 2016 (Chris Feare)

The Sooty Tern colony is now densely packed with birds. The first birds that laid are now about half way through their 28-day incubation period and these parents are already becoming more aggressive towards us as we visit our study plots. Our ankles are being regularly pecked, sometimes drawing blood, and more and more we experience adult Sooty Terns settling on our heads or, more frequently, delivering a heavy blow with their feet, bills or even deliberately flying into our heads with the full force of their diving bodies. This behaviour will intensify as incubation progresses toward the hatching of the egg. This is their defence against human intruders.

Christine under attack Christine under attack (Chris Feare)

This determination to protect the egg is immensely useful to us as researchers, since it results in the nesting birds being remarkably…

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A post from Chris on a worrying observation …

Wild Bird Conservation

A female Palm Spider in her web, photographed on Bird Island, May 2016 A female Palm Spider in her web, photographed on Bird Island, May 2016

During my two-year residence in Seychelles in the early 1970s I was forever finding myself entangled in the huge sticky webs of Palm Spiders (Nephila inaurata). The female spiders are large, with dark brown bodies up to 3 centimetres long and long spindly legs, banded orange and black, giving the spider a total span of around 12 centimetres. The webs could each reach a span of over three metres in diameter and sometimes extending over seven metres. These enable the females to catch their prey but the much smaller males, and even some other small spider species, also live on the webs and capitalise on the insects and other prey that are caught. Bushes, tall trees and artificial structures were used by the spiders to support their webs. Such was the spiders’ abundance that almost…

View original post 435 more words