Rock On

Immigrants to the Solar System
& a Stone That Predates Humans

No one knows how many of them are out there. They travel light, fast, and come from lifetimes of distance. Surveillance may catch a few, but this is too vast a place to easily spot them. Some fear them like the end of times. Others call them refugees, or vagrants, or immigrants.
They’re asteroids, meteorites, shooting stars. They may come to visit: one zipped by Earth’s orbit last year, on its way out of the Milk Way. But long ago, Jupiter captured another; it’s now a permanent resident. Like those that come crashing to die among us, they’ll keep on coming.
The fear, of course, is that they do have the potential to end our civilization. Just like that, and there’s damn little, or pretty much nothing, we can do about it. Geological data, i.e., extracted from rocks, plus statistical probability, prove that such a literally earthshaking possibility does exist.
Twice in the past an incoming high-speed ball wiped nearly all life on the planet, changing evolutionary history in the process. So we try to keep track of them, but even if we could see them all at a safe distance, we’ll probably would’t have time for anything but to go mad, and then die.
Not Oumuamua, though, the object that crossed incognito our zenith last September. When it reached the sun, we knew that it couldn’t possibly be from within our system, like all the others, race-ending or not. When it left it, it’d become the very first interstellar little world to came and say hi. Or rather, a Hello, Goodbye. I must be going.

Of course, Shakespeare was right. So was Carmichael, and so was Sagan. After being given such a noble provenance, linking us straight to the most distant heavenly body we will never get to see, who wants to have anything to do with an errant piece of rock? But it’s been said, they’re inevitable.
In fact, without denying we’re shinning stars and all that, life may have been brought down to this Pale Blue Dot, which once thought of itself as the center of the universe, by a lowly slice of outwordly dust, teeming with what would blow air through our nostrils. Hey, cheer up. We’re all rock stars.
Or whatever. The hominids who act as if they own the place they know nothing about, and are just about to put it on fire, couldn’t bear thinking that they don’t count. But in reality, they don’t. (more)
Read Also:
* The Undreamed World
* World Snatchers
* It’s Fly By Us

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Curtain Raiser

What We Call Ourselves, Colltalers

A nation is not the sum of its citizens but an ideal they choose to live by. The so-called American Dream can’t be bound by the exactitude of facts, or acquiescence of history, for it’s often at odds with them. But as an ideal, it still has the power to convey a reality worth fighting for.
The thought has a renewed relevance today. As civility and personal responsibility values seem to be losing battles in several fronts, there’s a push for a new social contract. And a focal point is a campaign Dr. Martin Luther King Jr set in motion when he was murdered in the 1960s.
The May 14, 1968, Poor People’s march in Washington, jump-started a month-long movement seeking redressing of social inequalities, and became part of the struggle for Civil Rights of the era and beyond. Dr. King’s tragic assassination only added urgency to the movement.
Then as now, choosing the poor as a marker had, if anything, a crucial advantage: to accurately gauge the state of social justice by focusing on those whose very existence depend on it. There were between 40 and 60 million living below poverty line during that decade, when the U.S. population was still 200 million. Now, extreme poverty has actually increased, to 62 million Americans facing such dire predicaments.
Efforts to reset national priorities are the foundation of the current Poor’s Campaign, as led by Pastor William J. Barber and Liz Theoharis, while advocating for living-wage laws, education, end to mass incarceration, single-payer healthcare system, and right to vote guarantees.
What really seeks to inspire, though, is for another take on morality and values of solidarity and equal opportunity for all, badly missing in our national conversation. And by consequence, to re-invite the world to look up to America again as the land where everyone is welcome.
Recent developments have seriously confronted what we actually believe is going on with the world, and what role Continue reading

Felicide & Stuffed Shoes

Cat Murderer on the Loose
& the Beach of Lost Lone Feet

There are many modalities for the act of killing. Psychopaths do it with method. Still, we’re not often jolted by a new, or at least, rare kind of murder, involving the dismemberment of cats and feet. Welcome to the grimmest post we’ve been forced to write in a long while.
For 11 years, disembodied feet have been turning out on a Canadian beach. The 14th of them showed up last week. Meanwhile, since 2014, some 450 cats have been found dead and dismembered in the U.K. The cliche ‘police has no clues’ applies to both. And so does sheer fear.
It’s another cliche to say that people are fascinated with serial killers, but that may not be completely true. No more than being fixated on spinning wheels, or joining cults: everybody knows that the outcome is senseless and always the same, but that never stopped anyone from doing something stupid.
What we know is that no one should be afraid of living because the world is fraught with danger. That being said, cruelty, ghastly acts of pure evil even the most pious among us has thought of committing once or twice, is in fact part of human nature. And there’s been always many who do commit them.
Also intrinsic of being a person is the deep-seated desire to exact revenge on those who brutalize the vulnerable. Tread with caution, though. While tyrants and bullies thrive on just such a currency, the incautious is usually betrayed by it, and winds up just as abhorrent as the subject of his or her quest.

A girl found the first one in 2007, at the shore of Jedediah Island, in British Columbia: a man’s size 12 right foot Adidas sneaker. Luckily to her family and friends, they were spared the gore picture she’d have probably sent them, for the iPhone had been launched only a few months before.
Linked to a depressed man who’d disappeared, the macabre found did not suggest that it was the handiwork of a psycho. But after a few of them, all wearing either running shoes or hiking boots, the evidence is overwhelming. Either that or there’s a copycat or two on the prowl.
For those who knew the unfortunate Salish Sea victims, all that’s left is the depth of an unsolved mystery, and everybody else’s morbid curiosity. As for whoever is still thinking about revenge, well, no human has had seven pair of feet to be guillotined, so that should settle it.

What’s known as the Croydon Cat Killer – why there’s always a catchy name for every gruesome deed? – seems now to operate all over England. Although the specifics of his or her signature style of killing makes it hard to have another monster imitating it, the possibility can’t be discarded yet.
It’s also hard to imagine someone with such a reserve of raw hate, to systematically lure an animal to slaughter it without mercy. Unless, of course, one thinks about the meat industry and what it does (more)
Read Also:
* Out to Get You
* Scary Clowns
* Salish Sea Feet

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Curtain Raiser

Forgetting May Tear Us Apart, Colltalers

As the U.S. threatens to invade yet another country, a caravan of migrants lawfully requests entry into America. They haven’t forgotten our history, unlike the president. But while the amnesia is not yet total, we’re still in mortal danger when those at the top have clearly embraced it.
It’s disturbing that we’ve forgotten what lies led us to Iraq in 2003, or what happened in 1953 or 1980 in Iran. It’s alarming that Nazis now parade in Georgia, Germany, and France, or that some beg the military to come back in Brazil. For we lose ourselves when our memory’s lost.
When the White House scraped the nuclear deal that had been keeping Iranian hard-liners under a tight leach, it let lose a new nightmare on a region with no shortage of them: the Middle East. On cue, Iran and Israel engaged in vicious battles, over an already war-ravaged Syria.
Immigrants in the U.S. are now the ones cognizant to its history, not the modern Gestapo-like brutal forces in charge of crushing them. But if we can’t remember, we’re blind to allegations of treason, sex scandals and corruption, and hear only the thunder of official war mongering.
Instead of immigration, the ‘threat to the American way of life by foreign nations’ is what’s likely to be the favorite narrative to members of this under-suspicion administration, and gladly endorsed by what President Eisenhower prophetically called the military-industry complex.
It’s a familiar ‘tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,’ but not without meaning, as Shakespeare would’ve had it. Rather, the scarier part is that the U.S. is once again having us heading back to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, North Korea’s astonishing turnaround notwithstanding.
We all know who the idiot telling the story is, but Trump’s war cabinet is about to be rebuilt with three of the most notorious hawks of recent history, all christened this week by what many considered a war criminal, former Bush’s VP, Dick Cheney: John Bolton, national security advisor, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State to be, and Gina Haskell, who may replace him as head of the CIA. What could possibly go wrong?
There’s a common, truly anti-American thread linking these four unfortunately powerful figures: they’re all openly advocates of torture, and if that is now half-considered acceptable is because they and others have worked tirelessly for the past three decades Continue reading

Sky-Bound Arrow

The Woman Who Carried
a Son Who Still Carries Her

Gentle Maria Eva of Sagittarius could be a fitting epitaph gracing her tombstone. A code message to strangers to be. Yet, her repouse is all I need to hold a life that expired long ago – squeezed in my hands like wilted flowers and my own past-expiration heart.
At the graveside of an unknown child she chose to speak and weep for her own lost girl, while the boy pretended to pray, her tears dripped ever so tenderly onto the humid grass. At a corner inside me, I now quietly sip the brew of the 12 years since she’s gone.
We’re put to run all over the Earth, bouncing on edges of countries and tongues, yet we all come to dive into a hole on the ground, dug by the few who love us. Mariazinha was the unfinished symphony whose more touching segments were left to be written. Or heard. Or lived.
When she departed, that lifetime well was already open, on the same wall where her love already rested waiting on her. I’ve helped shove her brittle body and mind into that place, at the same echoing gallery we’d walked together just a few years earlier.
There lies the first of the many Marias that ruled my life, where I came from and one day will return. From that deep cave, she still looks after me, trying to honor the justice she longed so hard to shine on her own existence. The very first one, just like Eve, her fitting second name.
I once questioned how much of my mother I carried with me; now I’m not sure where she ended and I started. As my own well approaches, I hope she’ll ease me into the great unknown. It takes long to grow old, then we speed towards the end by receding back to the beginning.
I never gave her a Mother’s Day card, never once thought I was going
Read Also:
* Middle Brother
* Unanswerable Prayers

to miss her as I do the parts of me I no longer control. But here I am, wishing I could ask her, at least once, how come she’s now living inside me. Thus this post, this memento I won’t carry any longer with me.
Make room, mother, prepare my bed as you used to. Soon, I’ll be coming over for my last visit, even without being sure I’ll see you there. It won’t matter, I already have you within me, I already have you anytime. Happy may be your day of all the days that came and went. It won’t take long now, Mom. Love you.

Window Seat

In the Vast Universe, There’s
Just One Place for All of Us

Good news for those planning on catching that last rocket out of Earth: you may take my seat. After careful consideration, I decided that I’m not booking that flight. The upside is that I was never really good at packing light. Or committing to a one-way ticket to anywhere.
But don’t get me wrong. Neither I gave up on having a pulse, nor I’m now for comfort over smelling new sights, even it takes smelling bad for months too. Trust me, shreds of my soul would fill the backpacks of those pioneers-slash-refugees boarding the spaceship to a new Terra.
Recent news that not one, but three new exoplanets have potential to surrogate us may have pricked up beaten ears, tired of the minor chords of our final symphony: warmer years, rising tides, growing masses of the starved and homeless. Those who can’t stand this one-note samba, are ready to rock. Ciao.
I wouldn’t maximize my cards just yet, even if this is no figure of speech: collectors have chased me for years. Also, I’m in no rush to make snide comments about silly fools, hahaha, building a fleet toward a breathable future. For it’s what may actually happens.
One thing seems probable: the last to embark will be the hardest at work to make such exodus an option, not an escape plan. And even as a dwindling bunch – hey, who can put up with so many storms before jumping ship? – their wishes match that of the most hospitable place we’ve ever known: right here.
By the way, I’m not one to believe that we’ll be missed. It’s likely that every species, along with nature itself, will be cheering our departure, and the very conditions that made us possible will heal and thrive once we’re out of the picture. Without us, they’ll all do just fine. But with us, chances are that Earth will look like Mars in less than a century.

Which is as much faith as I’d put on us as anyone would about a virus: it’s ancient, no one knows where it comes from, it’s lethal, and when it leaves, people throw their hands up and give praise. And yet, even viruses can be beneficial, I know, but tell that to those who got on their way. So, am I saying we’re good as plagues? you damned right I am.
That being said, for as long as I breathe I’ll be partial to those fighting for reversing the clock. They used to practice (more)
Read Also:
* The Undreamed World
* Worlds Away
* Red Shift
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Curtain Raiser

Demand the Impossible (Again), Colltalers

It’s May, again, and if it wasn’t for our brain’s obsession with patterns, it’d would be just like the previous 49. But May 1968 was nothing like the ones before it, so it still resonates half a century later. Was it really a revolutionary year, at least for the West, or just our mind tricking us?
‘History repeats itself,’ said Karl Marx, born 200 years ago last Saturday, but the second time around is as a farce. Still, we’re bound to take these odds, regardless any inherent Apophenia, because times may be ripe for the kind of change that that month in the Sixties seemed to promise.
In reality, the causes for the explosive events led by students that took place in France, had little to do with other mass movements elsewhere in Europe, or the U.S. that year, except for a familiar denominator: people taking to the streets and demanding to be heard by powers that be.
The Paris rallies brought together pupils, unions and political parties for education and social reforms, but did not change much the French status quo. The bloody clashes with police did force a government reshuffling: president Charles de Gaulle replaced long time prime minister, George Pompidou. It didn’t last, though, as Pompidou replaced de Gaulle the following year, and remained in office until his death, in 1974.
The former Czechoslovakia was also on fire around that time, with reforms promoted by its leader, Alexander Dubcek in what became known as the Prague Spring. But the experiment and optimism it generated were crushed when Warsaw Pact tanks and troops occupied the country.
Protests against Soviet control were also neutralized in Poland and Yugoslavia, just as resistance against U.S.-backed Latin American military dictatorships, rose in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and many others. But it all contributed to an atmosphere Continue reading