Video Fridays: Marriage Equality Edition

marriage-equalityThe news this morning, that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can no longer deny same-sex couples the right to marry is a major breakthrough for justice and civil rights.

We still have VERY far to go, so many areas where inequality — racial, gender, age, ability, economic, etc. — remains, here in the U.S. and around the globe, and yet today’s victory feels particularly poignant.

After all, as one of the catch phrases of the marriage equality movement points out:

Love is Love

I’m still one of those dreamers, though not the only one, who truly believes that All You Need Is Love, and we need LOTS more love to overcome the remaining inequality challenges, to end violence and war, to save the planet from global climate change.

Let all people love each other and make lifelong commitments to each other and tell me how that can have any other effect than to heal the world?!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Headline of the Day: Not Your Ordinary Organ Transplant

adamandeveIt’s difficult to know where to start with this Headline of the Day installment, so perhaps I’ll just get right to it.

Dear readers, especially all you guys out there, brace yourselves:

Penis transplant patient to become a father

The Guardian

As cringe-worthy as the subject might be, I have to admit that I was powerless to resist reading the attending article.

And, I really wish I hadn’t, as several quotes induced sympathy pains the likes of which I’ve not experienced before and hope never to experience again.

The man’s penis was amputated three years ago after life-threatening complications arising from a botched circumcision. His penis had developed gangrene…

The man, whose identity is being kept secret, received his new penis from an organ donor in a nine-hour operation…

The professor said that even now there remains some risk of organ rejection. Evidence would include lesions on the skin…

Nine years ago, a Chinese man had a penis transplant, but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.

OWIE!!!!!!!!!

I know, it’s childish of me to exploit this man’s story for entertainment. But, I promise that I AM deeply sympathetic to what he’s been through and thrilled for him and his partner, that they were fruitful and able to multiply.

Sincerely!

Really, I mean it!!!

Eyecatchers: 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

NationalGeo12-croppedIf, like me, your family had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine when you were a kid, before you learned to love reading, one of the reasons you LOVED the publication was because you didn’t have to read the articles to learn amazing things about the world beyond your neighborhood, town, city, etc.

Reason: The photography was mind-blowing — pictures are worth a thousand words, as is often said — and one could dwell on these pictures, could dwell IN these pictures, could get lost in these pictures.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here at Fish & Bicycles, from July 2012 and titled Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles, featured the photography of one of the magazine’s most acclaimed photographers, and the images I included in that post serve as fine examples of how photography can tell us so much about a place and its people, people in places we’ve never been or may never visit.

In addition to teaching us so much about the planet we inhabit, National Geographic has inspired millions of people to try their own hand at photography, and a fitting testament to how inspirational the magazine has been to so many is their annual Travel Photo Contest, where anyone, amateur or pro, can submit photos for prize consideration.

This Eyecatchers installment, was inspired by a selection of 2015 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest entries handpicked by The Atlantic, and features my favorites from this selection. (Please be sure, though, to visit The Atlantic in order to read the very informative captions to each photo.)

If you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, you might want to consider setting a timer with a loud alarm, as I will not be held responsible for readers getting lost in these photos and losing track of time. :)

Enjoy!

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Reason #257 Why I Love Bellingham: Annual Naked Bike Ride

NakedBikeRide-page-001There are MANY reasons why I love my adopted hometown of 20+ years, Bellingham, Washington, and the annual Naked Bike Ride is certainly one of them.

The World Naked Bike Ride is a global event with an interesting dual message, promoting: 1.) cycling for the good of the planet; 2.) body-positive values. Riders in the clothing-optional event display varying levels of skin, based on personal preference, and that skin is often painted. Skin not on display is covered with eye-catching, outlandish costume and accessories.

No, I’ve never participated in the ride myself, and I’ve never even consciously sought it out as a spectator. BUTT, pun intended, many a time I just happened to be downtown when the glorious parade of naked weirdness just happened to pass by.

I am simply happy that I live in a town with people who support and participate in events like this; creative acts of expression, silly, fun, and with an aim to make the world a better place.

Tweet of the Day: #Nepal – Please Help

nepal1Whenever natural disasters happen on the scale of this week’s massive earthquake in Nepal, I suspect that I’m not alone in struggling to fully comprehend the enormity.

The numbers alone, thus far, are staggering:

  • 5,000 – confirmed dead
  • 10,000 – possible final death toll
  • 500,000 – displaced
  • 1.4million – in need of food
  • 8million – total affected
  • $10billion – estimated cost to rebuild, exceeding Nepal’s entire GDP

The photos are hard to look at, the news stories difficult to read, and yet the choice to look away is just not acceptable, especially if you can afford to even help out a little bit.

I was heartened, when I checked Facebook this morning and found a button at the top of my news feed providing me with the opportunity to donate to the Nepal relief effort. When you consider that Facebook has over a BILLION registered users, their gesture could have a big impact.

And then, this morning, I received an email from the president of the university where I work, providing a link to where employees can either donate by credit card or by a deduction from our paychecks.

Finally, Twitter is awash in tweets of prayer and pleas for donations.

Please consider chipping in whatever you can.

If Earth Was Made Of Pepperoni, Would You Eat It?

pepperoni-pizzaListen, I know it’s a serious subject, this matter of whether or not human consumption of meat is sustainable, or worse, harmful to the only planet we know of that we can call home.

I’m a guilt-ridden, former-vegetarian, carnivore myself, and between my concerns for the environment and my concerns for how the animals we eat are treated, I really don’t know how I live with myself every time I chow down on a hamburger, no matter how organic, free-range, and grass-fed it may be.

And yet, I couldn’t help chuckle when, in a recent, widely-reported blog post on the subject, Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates included the following infographic:

infographic-pepperoni

The thought of some research assistant doing the math for this, measuring the diameter of a slice of pepperoni, perhaps even determining an average slice diameter to account for variations amongst different brands of pepperoni, and then factoring in the Earth’s circumference, well…

It’s just.plain.funny!

Video Fridays: Van Morrison – 1973

van-morrisonI’ve got a real treat for this week’s Video Fridays installment!

An Irish singer-songwriter I’m fond of, and who I’ve written about here before, Glen Hansard, tweeted this clip today of his fellow Irishman singer-songwriter, Van Morrison, performing his song Cyprus Avenue, from an amazing 1973 concert, and it is SO great on a number of levels.

First of all, there are singer-songwriters, lead vocalists, even frontmen/women, but not all of these are also bandleaders. And, if you’ve ever read up on Van Morrison you’d know that he was extremely picky about the musicians who played with him, selecting the cream of the crop, demanding that they follow his direction exactly as he wished them too.

This leadership is abundantly clear throughout this performance. You can see how the band, the incredible Caledonia Soul Orchestra, keep their eyes fixed on Van, stopping and turning and blasting out in response to a wide variety of hand and body gestures. As a musician, myself, I can attest that this is an extraordinary thing, it requires deep immersion in the music, deep listening, deep concentration, and, paradoxically, for the music to be good and enjoyable, this has to be done without sounding like any deep concentration is involved at all, so that the music feels natural and flows as if it was effortless, as is absolutely the case here.

Second, the musicians here are remarkable for another reason. This is a HUGE band, with a rhythm section, lead guitar, horns, keyboards, and a 4-piece string section, and yet there is a wonderful spaciousness to the music, the players don’t showboat and step on each others’ toes, they are, indeed, a true orchestra rather than a cacophonous wall of sound.

Third, there’s this sweet thing that happens at around the 3:30 mark, when a little girl appears on the stage, it seems from the smiles of Terry Adams, the cello player, that this might be her daughter, and the little girl stands calmly by Van Morrison’s side, in front of all those people in the audience, just hanging out, the cameras move away, capturing the rest of the band for a full minute and a half, and when it returns to focus on Van, you can see that the little girl is still there by his side, you see him look down at her and smile, smiles being a rare thing for Van Morrison, as he lets out a drag he’s taken from his cigarette, until, at one point, he leans over to say something to the girl, who now has a tambourine in her hand, and the girl starts walking away off stage, with the tambourine, all along with the song continuing, and Van starts to follow the girl, as if he intended to leave the stage in the middle of the tune, only to turn around abruptly and finish it out with an extended improvisational series of fits and starts.

Anyway, ’nuff said. It’s pure awesomeness.

Enjoy, and Happy Weekend everyone!