27 December 2008

George Carlin - At His Best

I thought it would be good to end the year with George Carlin being George Carlin. Let me know what you think. Worth watching.

13 December 2008

Jingle Bells

If I hear another 'Jingle Bells' I think I will scream. I am not a real shopper, I must admit, but when I do venture into shops to buy essentials the constant racket emanating from speakers is exceedingly annoying. It is noise pollution.
If you are a rational person who believes, as I do, that this Christmas malarkey has been beautifully marketed to encourage you to empty your pockets, bank accounts and any reasoning abilities you may have, then you may also object to the level of brain and ear poison inflicted upon the public at almost every turn.
Mind you it is not just in the shops. Switch on the radio, television even the trusty old internet somehow manages to beam targeted adverts with all kinds of slimy smiley ads to encourage you to spend money.
The jingles, the adverts and then throw in the fake fabricated story of the nativity and the whole 'god' and 'Jesus' bit. It is enough to make me wish it was all a really bad dream and all those sheeple would wake up and realise that the big con is just that. It won't happen, unfortunately. The great con will continue and people will continue to do as the racketeers expect them to do. Spend without thinking. 'Cheers!'

04 December 2008

'I'll Pray for You...'


When someone says 'I'll pray for you' it causes me to pause.

I have a few questions:

1. What is the point?

2. Who does it actually benefit (if there is a benefit)?

3. Does it make any difference and if so, to whom and how?

4. What am I supposed to say?

I can't stop people praying for me but I do ask the above questions as I cannot see the point. Of course, people who say 'I'll pray for you' are saying it with the best intentions. It is being used to convey sympathy, empathy or is an attempt to make both parties feel positive about something.
Well it doesn't make me feel positive in any way.
It bugs me, to be truthful. I think of all the inane things that humans say because we have been conditioned to say them or think or act because some ignorant ancestors (who did not have the scientific information which is available to us today, granted) who tried to make sense of this crazy natural world and came up with a whole load of stories and ideas - so, amongst other things, we pray. And we pray for others.

Praying changes nothing. Praying is such a complete waste of time. Rather than pray for me or for someone else how about putting some action behind your words and try and change the reality that we find ourselves in. Rather than passively putting your hands together make those same hands do something worthwhile like protest against the various forms of injustice in the world, the abuse carried out in the name of god and gods, the hundreds of millions of children being miseducated or not being educated at all, the abject poverty that a disproportaionate number of people on this planet live in, the homophobia, racism, ageism, corruption of governments, the Federal Reserve...I could go on.
There are so many things we could be doing both individually and collectively that would make real change happen in this world and yet what do we do? We pray. Totally useless. Totally mind-numbingly facile and pointless.

Let's say for instance that someone has a child who is ill with a serious life-threatening medical problem. They pray for that child to recover - often for long periods. They pray with all their hearts and minds. Sadly the child dies.
What was the point of their prayer? Did 'God' hear their prayers and ignore them? Did their prayers help the child in any medical way? Does the death of the child mean the parents were bad people? Had the parents failed to pray hard enough?
Now these questions may appear callous and cold but they are essential questions concerning actions humans take in our lives and if we are to critically analyse why we do things then these questions would be a place to start.

In my view, a belief in prayer is cruel as it is as irrelevant as Santa Claus. Adults don't believe (or do they?) if they pray to Santa Claus that he will help them or their families in anyway and so why this equally imaginary god or gods?

You have no doubt heard of some parents, devout Christians, who have refused to allow their sick children to receive blood transfusions or any other form of treatment because they are relying on 'the power of prayer' and then their children die.
We cannot allow these views to persist without comment. We cannot allow children to die needlessly in this way without comment and we definitely shouldn't allow 'the power of prayer' to sweep past us without asking hard questions. We cannot because they cause misery and unnecessary death based on mythical ideas.

In addition, if these gods are all-knowing, all-present then there wouldn't be any need to pray. Think about it. If god knows your every thought, why would humans have to pray to be heard by god or gods? Why would god allow your beautiful child to be stricken by some dreadful disease and after your earnest prayer your beloved child still dies - why would god allow that to happen if this god was omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and a loving god?

Let's just cut to the chase and say that prayer offers temporary mental comfort to those who believe in the supernatural. Full stop. But it doesn't actually change anything other than a few feel good areas of the brain. It changes nothing in our physical world. Praying or telling me you will pray for me doesn't make you a better person, it isn't a barometer on your 'good character'. So please, don't waste your precious time praying for me.

If you want to make a difference then "do something meaningful" as the great man Carl Sagan suggested.
Forget prayer. Do something meaningful.
Think about this when you next feel the urge to pray.




RELATED POST: Bless You!

20 November 2008

Prince Charles Quote

[I agree with a farmer in Cumbria who told me] "if we, as a group, were black or gay, we would not be victimised or picked upon".
Part of a leaked letter sent to Tony Blair in 2002, in which the prince (Charles Windsor) blamed the government for "destroying the countryside"
For all of you who revere the group of people in the UK known as the Royal Family - here is a quote from the 'Man Who Would be King'. An excellent example of why this undemocratic system of people succeeding to the highest position in the land based solely on who their parents are should be dismantled forthwith.

Would you want this unelected man, with these opinions, ruling over you?

08 November 2008

The Negro Mother

I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave—
Children sold away from me, husband sold, too.
No safety, no love, no respect was I due.
Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth.
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.
Now, through my children, young and free,
I realize the blessings denied to me.
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me—
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast—the Negro mother.
I had only hope then, but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow—
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my past a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life—
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs—
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro mother.

by Langston Hughes


[Dedicated to Ralph Dumain: Thank you for being a great human being! Zee Harrison]

04 November 2008

What is Intelligence, Anyway?

As a child I was almost a permanent fixture in the local library. I remember walking along between the narrow shelves, finger aloft and deciding to venture into a section I wouldn't normally read - science fiction. I would come across this name often: Isaac Asimov. I would pull out his books and they always seemed heavy in tone and dark of cover. The illustrations always seemed to suggest something scary inside. I would gingerly open his books and sometimes take a couple home to read but could never get past a few pages. Disappointed. Although I vowed to try and read science fiction I never really did.

Many years later I chanced upon Isaac Asimov again and he seemed different, somehow. This 'new' Asimov was a prolific writer who was addicted to learning and writing about what he had learnt and what interested him. He wrote about the planets and artificial intelligence and human frailties and evolution.

I am now a firm fan of his wonderful writing although still not a fan of science fiction. (Strange, as I am surrounded by people who could be considered 'Trekkies' and science fiction fans to varying degrees.)

I want to share an example of Mr Asimov and his thoughts with an excerpt from his autobiography. I believe this illustrates his writing and thinking skills.

What Is Intelligence, Anyway? By Isaac Asimov

When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me.

(It didn't mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP - kitchen police - as my highest duty.)

All my life I've been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I'm highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too.

Actually, though, don't such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests - people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was.

Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles - and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test.

Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I'd prove myself a moron, and I'd be a moron, too.

In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly.

My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again. Read the rest of the excerpt HERE.

Let me know what you think.



Related Sites:Move Over, Asimov - bentsocietyblog.blogspot.com

02 November 2008

Visitors and Comments

I would like to say sincere 'thank you' to those people who have visited this site and especially those who have left comments - sharing your views with me. Your comments enable me to be a better blogger, to understand and clarify issues and also pull me up when you feel I am mistaken in my views - all good!

I also want to highlight members of the Entrecard system who have visited my site the most over the last month. I have noted the top 10 sites who have visited me (in order of highest number of visits):

People You Need To Know

WTF Do You Blog About!?

Politi-Gal

WindMill on the Hill

Lofty Matters

My Autism Insights

Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings.
Delta.


RagingRev

Athletic Alley

Knoxville Tennessee Area Local Expert

These sites are diverse and highlight interests, ideas and activities such as: whitewater rafting, autism, professional people in Atlanta, atheism and politics - amongst many others.

Please pay them a visit.

Thank you all so much.

31 October 2008

The Bailout - The Real Deal

I have always been very wary about this so-called 'Bail Out'. The way it is was presented seemed to be some indecent haste to fleece the coffers prior to Bush leaving office. History has shown that this has happened time and again. Nothing new.
But what is amazing to me is that so many people, the 'ordinary folk', the person struggling to make their mortgage payments, worrying about a future for their children, paying education fees, meeting car payments and even basic day-to-day costs, are not aware that this whole bailout was a scam. Pure and simple.

I don't purport to be the best writer in the world and will defer to someone who has explained the situation so succinctly and concisely that I have no option but to share the article with you. It is written by Naomi Klein for 'The Nation'. Here is an excerpt of her view of the bailout:

"In the final days of the election, many Republicans seem to have given up the fight for power. But that doesn't mean they are relaxing. If you want to see real Republican elbow grease, check out the energy going into chucking great chunks of the $700 billion bailout out the door. At a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Republican Senator Bob Corker was fixated on this task, and with a clear deadline in mind: inauguration. "How much of it do you think may be actually spent by January 20 or so?" Corker asked Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old former banker in charge of the bailout.

When European colonialists realized that they had no choice but to hand over power to the indigenous citizens, they would often turn their attention to stripping the local treasury of its gold and grabbing valuable livestock. If they were really nasty, like the Portuguese in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, they poured concrete down the elevator shafts.

The Bush gang prefers bureaucratic instruments: "distressed asset" auctions and the "equity purchase program." But make no mistake: the goal is the same as it was for the defeated Portuguese--a final frantic looting of the public wealth before they hand over the keys to the safe.


How else to make sense of the bizarre decisions that have governed the allocation of the bailout money? When the Bush administration announced it would be injecting $250 billion into America's banks in exchange for equity, the plan was widely referred to as "partial nationalization"--a radical measure required to get the banks lending again. In fact, there has been no nationalization, partial or otherwise. Taxpayers have gained no meaningful control, which is why the banks can spend their windfall as they wish (on bonuses, mergers, savings...) and the government is reduced to pleading that they use a portion of it for loans." Read the whole article here.

Do you agree with her?

22 October 2008

This Word - 'Fancy'

I recently spoke to a relative of mine who had been on a few dates with a man who she felt was truly lovely - kind, caring and was a balanced human being who made her laugh. Problem?

She didn't 'fancy him'. After hearing this reason for rejecting this man as a potential partner I asked her why it was important that she had to 'fancy' him. (Such a strange, weird term.)

Obviously there was something wrong with me for asking such a stupid question, but think about it. You meet a person who seems to tick all the boxes and you reject them because you don't...fancy them. I can't get to grips with that word. I looked it up in the dictionary and here's what Merriam-Webster had to say about the word 'fancy' in relation to this issue.


Fancy (as a noun), from Middle English: fantasie, fantsy imagination, image, illusion, preference. From around 15th century.

1 a: a liking formed by caprice rather than reason : inclination b: amorous fondness : love

2 a: notion, whim b: an image or representation of something formed in the mind

3archaic : fantastic quality or state

4 a: imagination especially of a capricious or delusive sort b: the power of conception and representation used in artistic expression (as by a poet)

5: taste , judgment

6 a: devotees of some particular art, practice, or amusement b: the object of
interest of such a fancy ; especially : 1boxing




There are some interesting elements here: fantasy, image, formed by caprice rather than reason, etc. So if someone isn't fancied yet is totally suitable then who actually misses out?

I have never been someone who chooses a partner based primarily on their looks. In fact, it is difficult to get past first base with me if you are rude, obnoxious, have an uncaring personality, focus on self, have a need to keep up with the Joneses, rave/moan about your flashy car or your personal wealth (or lack of).
Your looks are way down the list for me. To hear of someone being rejected because of this imaginary, society-fed idea of what is attractive just seems plain silly. Whilst discussing my views on this issue with my relative she appeared lost for words as she looked at me as if I had lost my mind! 'How can you have a relationship with someone you don't initially 'fancy'?' Some of the best relationships I have had have been with people who I wasn't initially physically attracted to - people who by the societal norms I should have rejected. But I make a choice to value people for who they are and not judge them on their irrelevant bodyshape, size, hair colour, race or any other superficial boxes we are encouraged to place people in.

I have not regretted my decision to forego any need to 'fancy' someone and have intentionally focused my attention on getting to the heart of a person rather than posed, conforming behaviours.

In short, who you are is important to me. I'll try and get to know you first.
Am I alone on this one?

15 October 2008

Is it Ever Right to Physically Punish Your Child?

This is going to be a short post:
I read Monique-Renae's blog this morning - she wrote about the physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her father and how it has impacted on her life and her relationship with both parents. (Do visit her blog and say 'hello'.)

It got me thinking about the issue of whether it was ever right to physically punish your child. Do parents have the right to give a child 'a little slap'?

My feeling is that it is never correct to inflict physical punishment on a child. If we are trying to raise children in an environment where attacking others (regardless of how 'lightly') is wrong then how can we expect them to treat others?

I have heard the arguments that sometimes it is necessary to immediately stop a child from doing something dangerous and a slap is required to show them just how serious their misdemeanour is.
I don't buy it. I believe children should not be violated and physical punishment is out and out abuse, in my book. You may disagree/agree - I would like to hear your views.

09 October 2008

If You Are American...

...then I urge you, implore you to watch this film - and even if you are not.

I try to limit the number of videos posted on this blog but I believe this subject is so important and pressing that it warrants inclusion here and now.

I would be interested to hear from people who not only agree but disagree with this video.



05 October 2008

Cartoon Banned by the Mormon Church

This is an interesting cartoon which highlights the purported beliefs of one type of supernaturalism.
The latter part of this video shows a group of people having a discussion about mormonism. I would prefer to have more information about these people as they may have an agenda which is not apparent to the viewers, i.e. are they believers in another form of Christianity and have a need to discredit anything other than their own views? Just questions to ask.
Still a thought provoking cartoon. People believe some weird things, wouldn't you agree? Let me know what you think.


01 October 2008

De Rerum Natura - 'On The Nature of Things'

"Sweet it is, when on the great sea the winds are buffeting the waters, to gaze from the land on another's great struggles; not because it is pleasure or joy that any one should be distressed, but because it is sweet to perceive from what misfortune you yourself are free.

Sweet it is too, to behold great contests of war in full array over the plains, when you have no part in the danger. But nothing is more gladdening than to dwell in the calm high places, firmly embattled on the heights by the teaching of the wise, whence you can look down on others, and see them wandering hither and thither, going astray as they seek the way of life, in strife matching their wits or rival claims of birth, struggling night and day by surpassing effort to rise up to the height of power and gain possession of the world.

Ah! Miserable minds of men, blind hearts! In what darkness of life, in what great dangers ye spend this little span of years! To think that ye should not see that nature cries aloud for nothing else but that pain may be kept far sundered from the body, and that, withdrawn from care and fear, she may enjoy in mind a sense of pleasure! And so we see that for the body's nature but few things at all are needful, even such as can take away pain.

Yea, though pleasantly enough from time to time they can prepare for us in many ways a lap of luxury, yet nature herself feels no loss, if there are not golden images of youths about the halls, grasping fiery torches in their right hands, that light may be supplied to banquets at night, if the house does not glow with silver or gleam with gold, nor do fretted and gilded ceilings re-echo to the lute.

And yet, for all this, men lie in friendly groups on the soft grass near some stream of water under the branches of a tall tree, and at no great cost delightfully refresh their bodies, above all when the weather smiles on them, and the season of the year bestows the green grass with flowers. Nor do fiery fevers more quickly quit the body, if you toss on broidered pictures and blushing purple, than if you must lie on the poor man's plaid.

Wherefore since in our body riches are of no profit, nor high birth nor the glories of kingship, for the rest, we must believe that they avail nothing for the mind as well; unless perchance, when you see your legions swarming over the spaces of the campus, and provoking a mimic war, strengthened with hosts in reserve and forces of cavalry, when you draw them up equipped with arms, all alike eager for the fray, when you see the army wandering far and wide in busy haste, then alarmed by all this the scruples of religion fly in panic from your mind, or that the dread of death leaves your heart empty and free from care.

But if we see that these thoughts are mere mirth and mockery, and in every truth the fears of men and the cares that dog them fear not the clash of arms nor the weapons of war, but pass boldly amongst kings and lords of the world, nor dread the glitter that comes from gold nor the bright sheen of the purple robe, can you doubt that all such power belongs to reason alone, above all when the whole of life is but a struggle in darkness?

For even as children tremble and fear everything in blinding darkness, so we sometimes dread in the light things that are no wit more to be feared than what children shudder at in the dark, and imagine will come to pass.

This terror then, this darkness of the mind, must needs be scattered not by the rays of the sun and the gleaming shafts of day, but by the outer view and inner law of nature."


Lucretius (B.C. 96 -55)
[Translated by Cyril Bailey from Book II of the opening paragraph]

29 September 2008

Whatever Happens Next...?


If the economic situation wasn't so serious you could be forgiven (if you live in the US) for thinking you were in the middle of a bad soap opera or comedy.
The problem is it isn't amusing in the slightest. This temporary pause in the bail-out plans is just that - temporary. A bail-out of some kind will be pushed through. The Federal Reserve and associated cronies will not be blamed for the economic catastrophe the US is currently facing.

A few concerned economists are raising their voices in horror at the bare-faced codswallop being used to justify the theft of tax-payers money on a 'project' which will not work. Once this plan has been approved it is speculated that by the end of the year the situation would become 'perilous' all over again.

This is a prime example of the benefits of deferred gratification - go through any necessary pain now for gains later, not the other way round. The 'Buy Now, Pay Later' mentality is how the country has found it self in the situation it is in now.

People need to move into a different mindset: if you can't afford it now, then save for it. I know some people are saying that businesses need credit and there is currently a log-jam in the systems that could affect jobs, etc. My question is: Why create jobs based on instability? Once the markets crash they will sort themselves out. A level will be found which will be more inclusive and based on real products rather than candyfloss, paper money with nothing to support or back it up and hype.
We will see how things pan out over the next few days, but it seems People Power has reared its head a little - enough to cause the criminal fraternity to pause and regroup.
Interesting times, indeed.

22 September 2008

America is in Trouble

Big trouble.

If you have spent the last 30 minutes watching CNN like I have you would imagine this financial crisis that is threatening to cause financial meltdown was just a slight blip - for all the 3 minutes it was given. Quick switch to the Emmy's as various women parade their diamonds and gowns with a twirl. Quick switch to the OJ Simpson trial - such great entertainment!
America, People, you are in TROUBLE!
With the President pushing for an agreement (to use $700 billion of taxpayers money) to be signed without delay, this undue haste should give the thinking person pause for thought. Who will this deal benefit? What stake will the American people have in the companies being bailed out using tax payers money? - I mean 'what's in it for you?'
There are so many other questions to be asked but let me highlight one issue that let's me know that should this agreement be signed on behalf of the people of the USA then the problems will only just be beginnning.

Section 8 of the agreement (as it stands) states that Paulson will be given unfettered ability to do as he pleases without being reviewed or investigated by any court of law or any organization.

Section 8. Review.

Decisions made by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.


Do you know what this means? Do you understand how it gives the criminals and their cronies (yes, that is what they are) the right to steal from you and the mouths of your great-grandchildren, whilst you, the citizens of today raise nary an eyebrow as they chortle all the way to their money mountains, slapping each other on the back.

America is ruled by criminals. From the Federal Reserve (an organization which is illegal according to the American constitution, but who cares?) to the President and work your way downwards. Criminals.
Most of the people of the USA just go along with it, shaking their heads as they struggle to stay in their homes, pay medical bills and find cheaper food. They switch on Dancing with the Stars, CNN, CSI, Fox and Oprah to escape the awfulness of reality.
'America is a great country! Be Proud! Be patriotic! Leaders of the Free World!' as the world looks on with a knowing twinkle. The so called 'Third World' countries who have been assessed by Bear Stearns, S&P scales and slapped about the head with a report drawn up to show just how badly a country was faring against 'high standards' set by Bear Stearns. These reports decided how credit worthy a country was and impacted on how much a country could borrow and the rate of interest that would be set. Powerful reports coming out of a country that was effectively bankrupt. Lula of Brazil couldn't resist a rather slight snigger last week at the irony and preposterousness of it all.

America is in trouble, People.

Here's what needs to happen:

1. The people need to rise up and go out into the streets and let their politicians know that they refuse to allow themselves to be pimped anymore.

2. The Federal Reserve needs to be disbanded. The power should be returned to the people.

3. The people should decide what happens after the system corrects itself.

4. All Acts enacted which was not in the interest of the people should be immediately scratched from the Statute books and new laws introduced which place the future leaders as servants of the people.

5. Membership of a secret societies should be deemed to be against the interest of the people.


[I haven't placed the above points in any order and these are just some of the changes that I believe may enable America to rise from the ashes of a system which was for the benefit of the few. I am an expert in very few areas and I am not promoting myself as such in this discussion.
I do ask that people think about the bigger picture.]

Let me make clear: I am advocating people get off their bottoms/asses/butts, pick up the phone, talk to their elected representatives and make it very clear how this deal is not in the interest of the people. I am advocating people write to the media and ask why they are not producing news items which inform the people rather than entertain. Why they don't ask real questions.
I am advocating people march into Washington and tell those in power that enough is enough. Forget waiting on Obama or McCain - they are agents of the criminals, so implicitly criminals themselves. They are in the positions to become possible Presidents because they have agreed to work to the betterment of the Rockefellers, the global elite, etc. You are a pawn.
But collectively you are pawns with more power than you realize. Of course there will be painful times ahead. Of course there may be global meltdown but it is necessary to rid the system of the infestations which have sucked your blood, given you false hopes, focused the country on trivia whilst siphoning the goodies away from the people, leaving crumbs and laws which infringe your basic human rights whilst encouraging you to not think for yourself.

As you walk down the street past houses with 'Foreclosure' writ large, as you walk past new tent cities, as you walk past schools where the kids can hardly read or write after 2 years of attendance - think about this deal. Think about how much you have been conned in the past and ask yourself if you really believe Bush when he says this has to be signed now as it is in the best interest of the people.
Ask yourself where the real power is. If it is not with you then America is in big trouble.

Think about it.

20 September 2008

Quote for Today...

"The Central Bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and form of our Constitution...if the American people allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

---Thomas Jefferson---


15 September 2008

Invasion of Privacy

Staying on the same theme of 'Big Brother', invasion of privacy and the like, let me bring to your attention (if you are not already aware) of a few examples of Big Brother at work in the UK.

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has written a piece stating that in the near future 50m car licence plates will be captured on camera - in short, all movements by vehicles will be tracked. The data will be stored and therefore used by the 'authorities' for up to five years. Some of the reasons given are to...wait for it...fight terrorism.
That isn't the worst thing about this. The worst, most horrifying thing is 'pilot studies' have already been and are already being conducted on 10m vehicles and the UK citizens have allowed this to happen. A few murmurs here and there but nothing major. Nothing to stop the creeping surveillance being inflicted on people.

Now that people are being affected by a 'shock' recession, higher food prices, higher heating bills, higher water bills, higher mortgages, a housing market that has crashed so houses remain unsold if not offered at bargain bottom prices, higher public transport costs, more unemployment as employers lay off workers, higher rates of depression and anxiety, etc. etc. What better time to tighten the screws, to tell the misguided, weakened, forlorn populace about the new measures being introduced to protect them from 'Al Quaeda' (an imaginary organisation dreamt up and created by those who know better)?

And then there are the ID cards: The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has warned against the introduction of them and has cast severe doubt about the usefulness and purpose of monitoring people to the degree that is being proposed by the government.
Millions of individuals' personal data has gone missing over the last few years - stored on Cd's, flash drives, hard drives and laptops - personal data regarding prisoners, child benefit claimants, drivers and so on.

What worries me is how can the government guarantee that personal data about me will be kept securely and only divulged to the minimum number of persons under specified circumstances? Not that I agree to any data of this type being stored about me, but how could they assure me that a centralised database is safe? How will they use this information and why do they need to collect it from me in the first place?
I am aware of someone who paid a private detective to obtain print-outs of the bank statements of another person they were in dispute with. A fee was paid and the documents were received. The person who entered the bank database and obtained the requested information was a bank employee, someone who had been vetted and was a trusted person but had a nice little earner on the side. Just one example.

The fact that a government minister or their agents tell me that my information is safe with them gives me no comfort, in fact, it is the stuff of nightmares, actually. That the state feels it necessary to gather data on the masses to that degree presents serious long-term problems for the people and we seem not to care very much.

So...my point is that if people don't wake up and wake up soon the police state will have gained such a firm hold that it will be difficult to turn the clock back and reject the impositions that will affect generations to come. If you have children...think about it. Not to scare you into submission nor action but just to at least think about it. It is happening and it is happening now.


Related Links:

A Surveillance Society - House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee Fifth Report of Session 2007–08 - pdf

Warning over 'talking CCTV' plans - BBC 2007

Watchdogs 'alarm' over ID Cards -BBC 2004

SpyBlog.org.uk - 'Watching Them, Watching Us'

10 September 2008

Facebook Exposed?

It is easy to be part of one group who closes their ears and eyes to infringements of personal liberties or to be someone who sees 'conspiracy' around every corner.
I post this video more to stimulate a debate, to encourage people to think about how the information we post about ourselves on the internet may be used by others.

I encourage you to spare the time to watch this short video. Let me know what you think.


Facebook Exposed...




02 September 2008

The Sarah Palin Saga

Someone asked my opinion of the current saga raging regarding Sarah Palin, her daughter's pregnancy and John McCain's choice of VP.
I have to say first and foremost that I am of the firm belief that the 'shadow government' are laughing their socks off at the frenzy being created. It must give them great mirth, something to chortle over whilst dining, to watch and hear the heated ping-pong of debates for and against Sarah Palin and co.
I've seen this before. It's called 'distraction'. Keep the masses occupied whilst plans are being made to create even more chaos in the world. 'They won't notice' - and true to form we don't.
This may sound pessimistic but I prefer to keep my eyes on the real deal rather than hyped issues of irrelevance. I use the word irrelevance because both major parties represents 6 of one and a half dozen of the other. No major difference.
It's like watching a popular nasty soap opera, or American Idol or Big Brother - you are viewed as a party pooper if you don't have a detailed opinion on it all, if you state that it is all much of a muchness and makes no real difference to anything. Vote red or blue or independent and the underlying problems will still be there. The only change will be on how you perceive things. Nothing else.
So you have a choice: to continue to feed ignorance or take a long, rational look behind the smoke and mirrors. It's up to you. It's your call.
Next..?

26 August 2008

Television, The Drug of the Nation


One nation under god has turned into
one nation under the influence of one drug

    (chorus)
    Television, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V., it satellite links
our united states of unconsciousness
apathetic therapeutic and extremely addictive
the methadone metronome pumping out
150 channels 24 hours a day
you can flip through all of them
and still there's nothing worth watching
T.V. is the reason why less than ten percent
of our nation reads books daily
why most people think Central America means Kansas
socialism means unamerican
and apartheid is a new headache remedy
absorbed in its world it's so hard to find us
it shapes our mind the most
maybe the mother of our nation
should remind us that we're sitting too close to...

    (chorus)
    Television, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V. is the stomping ground
for political candidates
where bears in the woods
are chased by grecian formula'd bald eagles
T.V. is mechanized politic's
remote control over the masses
co-sponsored by enironmentally safe gases
watch for the PBS special
it's the perpetuation of the two-party system
where image takes precedence over wisdom
where sound bite politics are served
to the fastfood culture
where straight teeth in your mouth
are more important than the words
that come out of it
race baiting is the way to get elected
Willie Horton or will he not get elected on...

    (chorus)
    Televison, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

T.V., is it the reflector or the director
does it imitate us or do we imitate it
because a child watches 1500 murders
before he's twelve years old
and we wonder how we've created
a Jason generation that learns to laugh
rather than abhor the horror
T.V. is the place where armchair generals
and quarterbacks can experience first hand
the excitement of video warfare
as the themesong is sung in the background
sugar sweet sitcoms that leave us with
a bad actor taste while pop stars metamorphosize
into soda pop stars you saw the video
you heard the soundtrack
well now go buy the soft drink
well, the only cola that I support
is a union C.O.L.A. (cost of living allowance) on...

    (chorus)
    Television, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

Back again, "new and improved"
we return to our irregularly programmed schedule
hidden cleverly between heavy breasted
beer and car commmercials
CNNESPNABCTNT but mostly B.S.
where oxymoronic language like
"virtually spotless" "fresh frozen"
light yet filling" and
"military intelligence" have become standard
T.V. is the place where phrases are redefined
like "recession" to "necessary downturn"
"crude oil" on a beach to "mousse"
"civilian death" to "collateral damages"
and being killed by your own army
is now called "friendly fire"
T.V. is the place where the pursuit of
happiness has become the pursuit of trivia
where toothpaste and cars
have become sex objects
where imagination is sucked out of children
by a cathode ray nipple
T.V. is the only wet nurse
that would create a cripple
on...

    (chorus)
    Television, the drug of the nation
    Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

by Disposable Heroes of Hiphorisy - Michael Franti, 1991

21 August 2008

Yes, Atheist Prime Minister?

An article in the British newspaper 'The Guardian' (21 Aug 2008) caught my attention entitled:

'The rise of Miliband brings at last the prospect of an atheist prime minister' here are the first three paragraphs:

"When Labour cabinet members were asked about their religious allegiances last December, following Tony Blair's official conversion to Roman Catholicism, it turned out that more than half of them are not believers. The least equivocal about their atheism were the health secretary, Alan Johnson, and foreign secretary David Miliband.

The fact that Miliband is an atheist is a matter of special interest given the likelihood that he may one day, and perhaps soon, occupy No 10. In our present uncomfortable climate of quarrels between pushy religionists and resisting secularists - or attack-dog secularists and defensive religionists: which side you are on determines how you see it - there are many reasons why it would be a great advantage to everyone to have an atheist prime minister.

Atheist leaders are not going to think they are getting messages from Beyond telling them to go to war. They will not cloak themselves in supernaturalistic justifications, as Blair came perilously close to doing when interviewed about the decision to invade Iraq." [You can read the rest of the article here.]

Now why doesn't that make me feel any better? It's great that these politicians won't use 'god' to try to fool the people, but they will continue to fool the people without invoking imaginary beings. Which is worse?

The ones that care a jiffy about the people - those brave enough to stand up to the elite gangsters, are shot down without a bat of an eyelid. I don't think Obama, McCain, Clinton, Brown (Miliband), Putin, Kharzai and the rest will make a difference. They have no intentions of changing things. How can they? Take a short walk through recent history.

No amount of posturing from Obama will make it other than what it is. He's a front for the mob. He's there to show the world how much America has moved away from just being a country which got fat off the backs of inhumane suffering and oppression. Presenting this Black man as a saviour allows people to be distracted as the current incoherent, bumbling front man is wheeled away out of sight and the mob agenda is moved to the next level.

People are sheep, in the main, and therefore can be controlled and fed poor quality fodder - you can see that all around you.

No, my friend, we are truly in the Dark Ages and we may not realise it with these creeping impositions on our lives.
The smokescreen of being atheist doesn't impress me one iota because none of the mob are 'believers' - they know the power of the supernatural/religion, how much it is a powerful detractor and have used it to their best advantage. We have been and are being tricked. Some have fallen for it and some haven't.

Have you fallen for it? What do you think?

18 August 2008

The Power of the Written Word

Words, even written words, can be so powerful and have the ability to profoundly affect how one feels. I often read blogs which make me laugh or feel a little sad but rarely do I read posts which do both those things and make me cry.
Dan Leone is a father of three children who does not believe in god/gods and his father is ill. I urge you to click on the link to his post here:
Good Company is More Important Than Good Wine.
I don't know this man, have never met him and yet his words have stayed with me. They may do the same for you.

14 August 2008

The Gender Wars


This is a touchy subject for me and possibly some of you reading this post but I wanted to highlight something that has been on my mind for a while. Women hating men and men hating women.

Why have we allowed ourselves to get into gender wars? How did that happen?

I am aware and fully understand that the majority of the atrocities committed in this world in the past and right up until this moment are committed by some men. I understand that some women have had truly horrific experiences at the hands of men.

But there appears to be whole industries geared towards cultivating fear among races, geographical areas (uptown against downtown), young and old, disabled and able-bodied, gay and straight and men against women. We allow it to happen. We buy into these stereotypes. You can see the reality programmes (the format hasn't changed since I last watched television I've been told) and their focus is on how can the woman become less like her real self in order to nab the guy. The grooming to become a racy version of a Stepford Wife does women no justice at all and none either to men. It is insulting and yet we are encouraged to be something that is unreal and we women are surprised that the men are not versions of an imagined 'super hunk' who has just fallen out of a crappy romantic novel.

We have all been set up.

We raise our children to 'act like a boy' or 'act like a girl' - these gender roles are identified and instilled from the breast. Boys are treated differently and allowed to be rough and tough whilst a girl should be feminine and is cute when she moans about getting her hands dirty. We, women play a part in this. As difficult as it is we may need to look within at how we talk about errant partners whilst the children are hearing. Children pick up the negatives and will act out accordingly, even into the relationships they have as adults.

Let me ask you a few questions: If someone of another 'race' exhibits negative behaviours and attitudes towards me, or even causes me physical injury, does that mean all people who belong to that particular group will act in the same way or are even predisposed en masse to act the same? Should I always be on my guard when I encounter 'those types of people' and ensure any contact they have with me is limited and only of the superficial kind? Is that how I should live my life? Substitute gender for race.
I hear it so many times: 'What do you expect, he's a man!' or 'She's a woman - typical!' and other not-so-smart comments designed to provide reasons why a particular person has acted in a particular way but which then includes all men/women within the same category in one fell swoop. I've even said it myself in the past - I am speaking from my own experiences.


The saddest part of it all is that most people are actually nice people - as in, Joe and Joan Bloggs are not too dissimilar to you or I trying to make our way through this sometimes confusing world. We are actually in the majority.
Women are the ones who raise the future generations and I would like to start there. Men have a responsibility too to make those changes necessary for all humans to have a more progressive and productive life.
If you are in a relationship it is important to forget the gender roles and just allow and enable each other to be whoever you are and also any children to grow in a healthy manner.
Don't think I'm knocking men for women or vice versa - I'm just suggesting we pause the next time we say something negative about someone - anyone - due to their gender.
Just my thoughts. What do you think?





11 August 2008

Head In The Sand

(click cartoon to expand)


09 August 2008

One Olympic Bore

Is it just me? I'm so not interested in the Olympic Games. Not the fact that it is in Beijing, nothing to do with the politics of China nor the fact that the rest of the world seems peeved about China for one reason or another...but, frankly, I find the whole spectacle quite boring.

The powers that be want you to be hooked on every commentary, every sporting event and I couldn't give too hoots. Obviously our eyes are meant to be focused firmly on the event or the Soviet Union may not have chosen such an opportune time to 'deal with' Georgia nor John Edwards to 'come clean' about his alleged extra-marital affair. Your eyes and ears are meant to be elsewhere. That's how much politicians have mastered the art of social psychology and manipulation - they know what will distract you - and it works!

I think my lack of interest is partly due to not watching television anymore. I don't care to total the number of hours I have wasted sat in front of the box - although that is not to say all those hours were wasted, just that the majority were. What we should remember is companies want you to buy: whether their products or ideas they are all on a sell. I don't want to be told how wonderful these athletes are for spending years training to compete against the best in the world - big deal! And so what? I don't want to watch big splashy adverts from McDonald's or Nike or some other multinational corporation who has spent millions of dollars securing their position to push their products at the masses watching the games. I don't care who has taken performance enhancing drugs, had a tantrum, wins a medal or been injured. Makes no difference to me whatsoever.

No, I would rather be spending my time with family and friends, playing with my doggies, chatting to my neighbours, going for a long brisk walk, updating my blog, reading, preparing a lovely meal and just cogitating for the sake of it on the wonders and ridiculousness of the world. I may even create a piece of art work or start my herb garden or paint the side of the house.I could learn the basics of another language, teach myself the basics of Dreamweaver and I could do all of this in the two weeks odd and have bags of time to spare to do the normal everyday things that one has to do.

Would you trade your time glued to the box for how many weeks? The next time you sit in front of the television with all your provisions ready for the main event, think about this: Is this how you would prefer to spend your precious time? Just my thoughts.

06 August 2008

The British Monarchy & Democracy

The British Royal family have taken the unprecedented step of releasing a statement to deny that Prince Philip has prostate cancer. They view the reporting of this matter as a serious breach of privacy. The newspapers are all agog and are waxing lyrically about prostate cancer, when are men likely to suffer from it and blah, blah, blah.
They fail, yet again, to ask a serious question:
Why the hell are we still paying for these people to live in the lap of luxury? How is it possible that in a so-called democratic society we, the British taxpayers, are still paying for these people to live high off the hog with barely a murmur from the 'royal subjects'/masses as the cost of living increases daily for the 'common person'?
Why? How did this happen?
Well, a long time ago there were fewer people living in the area now known as Britain. The people who raped and pillaged grew stronger and the weaker people worked the land and received little or no money at all for their extremely hard labour. The ones who raped and pillaged found they needed to control the land and could band together and give each other titles (a lot like the Mafia and other gangs) - so someone became King, Prince, Duke, etc. They each tried to double-cross each other and murder friends and family who stood in the way of them making money or keeping hold of their ill-gotten gains (again very Mafia-like).
The minions had to be controlled and it helped that along the way a profitable means was found of subduing the people and this is where religion played a vital role and various versions of texts came into play - one of many versions of The Bible! 'You will get your reward in heaven, folks!' And the minions watched as the people in the castles held lavish banquets as their lackeys carried out unspeakable cruelty against the common folk.
People were taught that failure to bow and scrape to these thugs meant a painful, often torturous death. (Forgive me for simplifying a very long and complex period in British history, but you get my point?)
And then we swing around to the present day - we are supposed to bow and scrape to them whilst they live fabulous lifestyles and own some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Their homes have priceless masterpieces of artwork adorning their walls and we are not allowed to enter without permission because although we pay for it all it doesn't actually belong to us. We are the minions, remember?
But, I hear someone cry, what about all the tourist money they bring into the country? Let me answer a question by asking a question: How many people visit the UK specifically because they want to meet the Queen? Very few. People will visit the UK regardless of whether a monarchy exists. People like history, especially those from other places who have ancestors who left the British Isles for a better life elsewhere. In any case that line of argument is weak - to require the British taxpayer to continually fork out millions each year to keep others in a glorified state of opulence and a position of power is wrong on any level.
To compound the problem the Queen is the head of the Church of England and this is a classic illustration of church and state working hand in hand - they need each other to exert pressure on the masses to conform to the imposed societal norms, which incidentally benefit those at the top of the tree. If you don't know how the Church of England came into being then please click here for a Wikipedia article.

You will notice that the media seems to prop up this unfair system and makes a lot of money from coverage of the Royal Family and does its best to curtail and muffle any scandals which may make Joe and Joan Bloggs wonder why they are paying to be ruled over by these people. What's worse we have the next generation waiting in the wings to take over and continue the dynasty! This is supposed to be the 21st century, People! It is incredible that we are where we are.
Regardless of your nationality does it seem morally right to be ruled by non-elected people? That their children will be automatically placed in the same position of power and will rule over you at a time appointed by them, not you?
I'm for being as fair as possible in this dog-eat-dog world and this just seems neither fair nor reasonable to me. What do you think?

01 August 2008

Inter-racial Relationships

Does race matter to you? I ask that question as since I am temporarily in the US at the moment I have noticed just how polarised the various racial groups are. It would appear that people are frowned upon if they are in a relationship with someone of another race. 

I am interested in those people who have stepped outside of the norms of their community and decided to have a relationship with someone who is racially different (that has to be an oxymoron, doesn't it?) from themselves. Also there are those people who would rather die than have anything to do with anyone other than in their own racial grouping. You know those who would banish their sons and daughters if they even dreamt of 'involving yourself with those people'.

Now I am not American. I probably don't understand the dynamics and the history of racial division in this country. I probably will never understand it as my parents came from the Caribbean and then moved to England, so my perspective is different. But my personal view is that divisions are stupid and non-productive. It is important for us to recognise that in the whole scheme of things we are homo sapiens. Any categorisation into racial groups is meaningless.

Of course, there are those that have benefited from an unfair advantage created by their ancestors. Of course, life is unfair and will always be so, but does that mean we should cut off certain people who we perceive to be different from us? Does it mean we should be sheep-like and follow what our parents tell us to do because their parents did the same?

Young people are getting smart. They have access to information in seconds that would have taken weeks if not months to acquire. Internet technology, web-cams, multi-tasking mobile phones have revolutionised the way people communicate across the globe. That in itself should tell you that times they are a-changing. Things are different. Young people are more likely to have friends from other racial groups than say 40- 50 years ago. That helps to break down barriers. Yet, in the USA, you watch and notice how many people still live in polarised ghettos whether they be white, black or anything else.

So do you believe that you should only have relationships within your racial group to preserve 'our identity'?

I'm just sharing my opinions on what I see and would be glad if you could let me know what you think on this matter.

24 July 2008

Choosing My Religion

Not much I can say about the Some Grey Bloke animations. Brilliant. Enjoy! Would appreciate it if you could share your views.

23 July 2008

The Belief in Astrology


Why do people who don't believe in god or gods choose to state their 'astrological sign' and 'zodiac year'? "Oh, I'm a true Capricorn' or 'I was born in the year of the rat'. 

These systems are so discredited as bogus it is just not funny. Yet people believe them. There's a whole industry out there raking in shed-loads of money on a daily basis and what are they actually giving people? Fabricated rubbish. And still people believe it.

If you want evidence of where we are going with this then read this article from the Telegraph newspaper (a UK daily high-end newspaper):

Can astrology really help predict the direction of financial markets? Danny Penman talks to two business people who believe the answer is yes.
Christeen Skinner blinks at the screen of her computer and takes another slurp of coffee. It is half past seven in the morning and she's preparing for a crucial meeting with the chief executive of the High and Mighty fashion chain.  
Apart from the black cat dozing on her lap, the only clue to Skinner's occupation as an astrologer is a copy of an ephemeris - a table of the predicted positions of celestial bodies - that lies open at a page marked "Mercury March 25th".
"The financial crisis has ensured that I'm busier than ever," says Skinner. "People in the City need to know what is just around the corner. I can help with that."
Skinner is one of a growing, albeit secretive, network of astrologers who work for seemingly conservative British institutions such as high street banks, City investment funds and retailers. Desperate to avoid financial meltdown and to spot fashions and consumer trends before they start, these institutions have turned to the planets to divine the future.
[Read the complete article here]

Okay, you are entitled to believe what you want and spend your money how you choose, but do you really believe it? Are you happy that financial institutions are playing the money markets with your money based on these bogus ideas?

I had a friend who was a hard-core non-believer, he dropped out of his degree course, focused on being an artist, spent time reading, watching lots of television, being a free agent with multiple partners (who all knew his philosophy on monogamy - not for him) and was a general sharp-thinking, deep, truly funny man. We hadn't seen each other for a while and after meeting up again he came to spend the weekend with myself and my partner at the time. 

The first morning he trotted off the the local shops for his newspaper the Daily Mail.  He returned and the first thing he did was read his horoscope for the day - three times - out loud. We had a discussion about horoscopes and he revealed that he cannot do anything major for the day without reading his horoscopes. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather!  I sort of stumbled and stuttered into a conversation as if I had just been told he was a serial murderer. I suddenly saw him through different eyes. My friend was confident and bold and didn't care what people thought about how he lived his life or his dress sense, yet couldn't do anything meaningful with his day until he had read his horoscopes. 

Being a frank person and him being a true friend I just had to try and understand what was going on with him that he felt the need to cling onto his horoscopes. The Daily Mail?- Jonathan Cainer? Awful, nasty tabloid junk with horoscopes thrown in. I didn't labour my thoughts too much as we still had a great weekend but it certainly caught me off guard. 

Do you believe in them and if so why? Are you like my friend and have to read them each day before you start your day? Do you take their 'advice' and alter the decisions you make based on their predictions? I know some people who get them sent via text to their mobile phones and actually pay money, hard-cash, for the service.

I suppose you can be atheist and still believe in astrology and such like but it just doesn't fit well with me somehow....

18 July 2008

The American Way Photograph


I saw this image and suddenly ceased being distracted by the multiple windows I tend to have open on my computer, darting from one interest to another - emails, blog, entrecard, word, etc.

This caught my eye.

So many questions ran through my mind. Who were these people? What were they queueing for? What year was it? I could hazard a guess at the decade, probably. It seems post-war. If you click on the image, really look at each and every person, their expressions. The woman with the basket held my attention. The bitter irony of their experiences and hopes contrasting with the happy-jolly billboard. 

Do you know who took this photograph, why and when? What are these people waiting for?

17 July 2008

What's the Point of Tattoos?


This is going to be short. Tattoos. Why? 

Dark-skinned black people and tattoos. Some designs you can hardly see. What's the point?

What happens to your tattooed skin as you reach say, 85?

Maybe it's just me...I'm just asking!!!

13 July 2008

The Politics of Black Hair

Have you ever visited a hair salon for your appointment at 9am and left after 10pm? I have.There are so many black women who will understand and have direct experience of the long delays sometimes encountered at the hands of hairdressers.
It got me thinking about the amount of money and effort we put into getting our hair styles just so. Is black hair political? Does the number of entertainers pushed into view at every occasion with weaves, wigs, straightened hair, blonde/blond hair and anything else which doesn't 'look black' mean that we have lost our way? Is there a reason, some sinister reason why these role models are propped up for us to emulate? Or are they just a sign that people want to try different styles and enjoy playing around with their hair?
The so-called 'Afro' hairstyle was used as a symbol of African-Americans and some other oppressed black people utilising, some would say reclaiming, the right to wear their hair without being ashamed of the texture and look of natural hair.
This is interesting to me as I have been one of those people who have gone through various stages with my hair: natural hair, perms (or jheri curls), hair straightening creams, hot comb pressing and dreadlocks. I haven't had a weave added to my head as I somehow didn't like the idea of bits of hair being sewn onto mine and I have never been blonde. I have seen examples of all, except natural hair, causing severe and lasting damage to black women's scalps. Why do we do this?
I think women, not just black women, spend far too much time fussing about hair. You could go to an upmarket hairdressing salon and walk away with a new hairstyle and your purse $400.00 lighter. Crazy!
Pick up your average women's magazine at random and note how many hair products are for sale. Note the number of 'paid-per-post' type articles included in the publication which focus on hair. Hair is money. Hair is big money! From the few cents women in poverty stricken countries will receive from selling their waist-length hair to Beyonce shaking her thang in her new $6,000 wig at some glittery award ceremony. Think Cher. Think Hollywood - they are all buying some.
Plus there is the fact that it does take up some of your time to keep your hair looking pristine and polished. Not being a pristine and polished person it boils down very much for me that I cannot be bothered! I want to find the style that is the easiest and quickest to deal with. No plaiting it up into small plaits for 2 hours each evening, no spending 1/2 hour in the bathroom stuck in front of the mirror styling it just so. No rollers, or curlers, or hot combs, or super-cleansing-deep-cleaning-steamroller business. Frankly, I don't care to make the time!
I actually love natural black hair. I am always pleased when I see someone sporting styles which have not been whipped into submission by the current trends. (It's a bit like how I feel when I see a woman who doesn't shave her armpits or her legs.) But why should hair be such a big thing? Has the idea of black hair being ugly permeated so deeply into the psyche of the children raised by parents who lived through systems designed and committed to the denigration of certain sections of society - them? Is it better to power-bleach your hair into a straw-like texture, damage it beyond recognition and ensure you spend hours with your (obviously) beloved hairdresser, just to enable you to conform and minimise your natural features? I'm straying into other areas here, but do you get my point?
I read recently that in corporate America it is not the done thing to wear your hair natural. Somehow it is seen as a threat. Why? Why would how someone wears their hair cause friction in the workplace? If a competent, hard-working man wore dreadlocks, why would he be seen in a more negative light than if he had a crew cut and fade? - regardless of his race!??
Hair is political but it shouldn't be. Maybe because humans feel the need to conform and anyone who steps outside of the rules set by a particular group is seen to threaten the stability of the group as a whole. What are your thoughts about natural black hair?

11 July 2008

Forgiveness

Forgiving someone can be the hardest thing. How do you forgive someone who has caused permanent harm to yourself or others you care about? This is a question I am mulling over at the moment. It is too easy to shout and scream and plan all forms of retaliatory action against the perpetrators of your pain, but it is much harder and the wisest course of action to try and analyse why someone has behaved the way they have. 

You may know someone who deserves severe punishment for what they have done. The pain and harm they have inflicted on you or your loved ones - but my question is: How does that change things? So we inject them with lethal, toxic doses, hang them, pulse thousands of volts of electricity through their bodies, arrange for a vigilante group to sneak into their homes at night and violently assault them until they are almost dead...

Then what? The next person who commits a heinous crime, we then do the same thing to them. And then what? What has actually changed? Not much, if anything, would be my guess. 

It is easy to be angry at a person for their misdeeds but much more difficult to critically analyse our most basic structures, environments, social settings, etc. and attempt to understand how these conditions could have arisen.

If I consider which is truly the best route for me it would have to be the forgiveness route. A route which has longer term benefits for all and enables me to move forward with my life without being engulfed by someone else's behaviour. I want to be free to enable my heart to make space for all the wonderful experiences ahead. A space which could be filled be poison from pain, fear and loathing.

I am not a theist and so do not cling to a belief system which states 'they will be dealt with on judgement day' or some such. As a scientific naturalist my focus is on trying to understand why circumstances arise and what can we, as parts of our various societies and groups, do to understand and proactively make this world a better place.

I choose to free my mind - even when the chips are down. If I fall or falter in this goal I try my hardest to rise, dust myself off and try again. So true. So my choice is to forgive as I would like people to forgive me. In any case, in the whole scheme of things, when looking at the pale blue dot called earth we really are nothing special at all - so why waste time plotting and planning to inflict pain and suffering on others when our time here is fleeting?

What do you think?

08 July 2008

The Worst Way to Monetize Your Blog

I enjoy blogging. I think the blog medium is a great way to share views across the globe. Since I started on this adventure I have learnt so much about other people and myself. Yet there is one thing that really bugs me.

Reading a really interesting post and then it slowly dawns on you that someone, in the middle of telling you about their experiences, is flogging a product. 'Pay-Per-Post', 'Sponsored Post' or any other name for the same thing. Usually the story they are trying to wrap around and tie into this product just doesn't ring true. 

I think it is disingenuous and quite insulting to your readers to have those sponsored posts slap bang in the midst of some excellent writing and it does you the blog host no favours. I find myself drifting slowly away from those who do that. Of course, it makes money - but at what cost? Is it worth it? I have no objections about monetizing blogs as blogging is not always easy and time is money but there are so many other ways to monetize. 

I know that overall the financial outlook means one has to get smart and look for new avenues to earn money but is this really the best way?

Maybe it's just me but does it bug you? Maybe you do write them and have increased your readership and revenue so significantly that you write them regularly? 

05 July 2008

'Church Going'


Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,
Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
"Here endeth" much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation ?marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these ?for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

Philip Larkin (b.1922 - d.1985)

03 July 2008

Women and Religion

I recently had a conversation with a friend and at the root of the discussion was the question: Why are women so susceptible to supernatural dogma?

The answer may lie in the fact that so many women feel disempowered in societies where religion and other forms of the supernatural are promoted.

Women are usually at the bottom of the 'pecking order': white men, black men, white women, black women/'women of colour' (as a crude example), in that order. Professional religious promoters usually target women who, naturally and usually, have the responsibility of bearing and raising children from birth. 'If you educate a woman you educate a nation' is a saying which illustrates just how important it is to capture the minds and hearts of women as the social and moral constructs of the society encourage women to indoctrinate their own offspring. Women teach at the breast, sing religious lullabies, pray, read religious texts.

I travelled on the bus the other day and a young child, no more than three years old, sat on his mothers lap behind me and started singing a beautiful tune in my ear. I was mesmerised as his sweet voice softly wafted around me. I really enjoy hearing young children singing - it signifies happiness for me. I suddenly caught the actual words:
''Jesus is my love, my light and my Saviour, and I know he loves me...'' sung over and over again.
Whilst he continued singing the same refrain it made me think about where and how he learned this song. Was this through the church his family attended? His parents, grandparents? What else did they teach him about 'god' and 'Jesus'? Why not share fun songs, play/learn fun songs which are appropriate for a child of this age?
I suddenly felt a swathe of despair hit me as I considered the plight of young children around the world who were being abused and indoctrinated in this way.
As he finished his tune he clapped his hands and his mother kissed him audibly and spoke some loving words to him. She was praising him. She then began singing the same song back to him.
Women are being used to continue traditions which are detrimental to humans. In the black churches the norm is to have clear hierarchical structures with women knowing their place. They clean the churches, arrange flowers, cook food, serve the congregations and ensure the children are behaving themselves. In some of the 'jump-up' churches women swoon and throw themselves on the floor, getting 'in spirit', speaking and screaming 'in tongues' - visibly devout Christians.
Women coerce their children to pray before meals and kneel and pray at bedtime to 'god'. Women buy and read children's' bibles to their young. Women are a necessary, essential part of the promotion of dogma. Women pass on the distorted, damaged baton to their children. And the cycle continues.
Islam is in the same bag. I'm actually talking about all religions, (including the as deluded Rastafarians) - they all operate on passing on a virus. That's how they have grown and evolved. Unfortunately along with ignorance of our world we have inherited a fear of women, fear of ourselves. Women are taught to be considered unclean whilst menstruating and some animists, voodoo believers see that as a time when a women has 'strong powers'. All total crap to somehow differentiate themselves from the other supernaturalists. You will notice that they all try and seperate themselves from each other, except when they have rational, freethinking people in their midst? Watch. They cling together like limpets.
In all of that the role of women hasn't changed much. Same old, same old.

30 June 2008

Now That I Don't Watch Television...

I have stopped watching television. In fact, the television I do have, a teeny tiny one, is gathering dust in the recesses of the-cupboard-I-mean-to-sort-out. I plan to sell it as I have no interest in it at all.
Every now and again I check into You Tube and there are some incredibly talented people creating films and animations out there.
Here is one that is 4minutes and 32 seconds long and in that short period has a serious message about our times. Created by Andrew Thomas Huang. Worth watching. Let me know what you think.

'Doll Face'

27 June 2008

Black Atheist Series (2) - Dr. Anthony B. Pinn


I have promised to feature a black 'non-believer/atheist/freethinker/humanist' or whatever they wish to call themselves.
I have taken the liberty of including in this category freethinkers, skeptics, humanists, scientific naturalists and anyone else who debunks the supernatural or promotes rational thinking.

To be in any of the above categories in many black communities around the world can invite ridicule, censorship, ostracisation or even worse. I invite you to search the net for 'black atheist' and you may discover how few black atheists are 'out'.
To have someone brave enough to challenge irrational thinking at a time when people are and were victims of traditional myths, who stands up and promotes the idea of thinking for oneself, is truly admirable.

I nominate Dr. Anthony B. Pinn in my Black Atheist Series.

Dr. Anthony Pinn -is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University (William Marsh Rice University) in Houston, Texas.
He has inspired me with his intelligence, historical analysis and vision, particularly in relation to black people and religion.

One of my queries concerns why black people have found themselves pigeon-holed into being and being perceived as believers in the supernatural. Dr Pinn outlines his take on why and how this has happened. His focus is on African-Americans, slavery, the Civil Rights movement and other freethinkers/humanists/atheists who acted as either agents of freethinking or supernatural belief.

I particularly enjoyed his article: 'On Becoming Humanist: A Personal Journey' - here's a quote from it:
"I could not accept the idea that the collective suffering of those I saw on a daily basis had any value at all. I needed to explore an alternate response that uncompromisingly affirms—at all costs, including even the rejection of Christian concepts such as God—the demonic nature of collective suffering because human liberation is more important than the maintenance of any religious symbol, sign, cannon, or icon.

Having worked through this problem, I could see nothing in history pointing toward the presence of something in the world beyond visible realities. There was no sneaking suspicion, no "smoking gun," pointing beyond humans. There is no God to hold us accountable, to work with us in moving beyond our current existential dilemmas. In the words of Oscar Wilde: "The true mystery of the world is the visible not the invisible."

After taking a deep breath, I spoke a new word: God does not exist. Even with this confession made, I was still committed to doing theology, but without reliance on notions of God. I would do theology as a humanist. And as such, I was no longer talking about God (at least not in positive terms), but talking about ultimate questions of life that are not dependent on some type of "Supreme Reality," a "Prime Mover." I continued my work with this commitment: religious questions can surely be posed without the assumption of God."

I recommend you read his recent book 'The African American Religious Experience in America'.

Black Atheist Series (2) - Dr. Anthony B. Pinn.