29 March 2007

The Last Night of The Gods

I do try, I really do try, to be neutral about religious matters, but everything I see in the world that has religion as a basis just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. In response to modern societys tack away from Religion, the Pope has fired a religious thunderbolt across the bows of the unbelievers in his assertion that the "Fires of Hell are real and eternal".

On a more sombre note, Heaven, apparently, is not a real place. It's not some ethereal nirvana in the sky, "but that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life". So, if Heaven doesn't exist, where does God live? In the hearts of the true believers? In which case it must be getting pretty cramped for the old fella in there. Expect to see some extremely white furniture going cheap on Ebay any time soon.

So, where is the upside for the Christians? Transgress, and it's the fiery pit for the rest of time. Think good thoughts and.....what? A lifetime of towing the party line with the promise of "receiving your reward in Heaven" down the drain.

The Pontif's attempts to inject some good old-fashioned God-fearing back into us are naiive. Pope: "Hell really exists!", Us: "We don't believe you.", Pope: "No, it really exists!", as if he expects us to go "Shit, it really exists? Oh well then...". Those are the kind of playground arguments which didn't even work back then.

This did give me this insight, which I think is a good one.

God is merely the frontman, the deification or beatification of an ideal, the logical progression of generations of mothers saying "Behave, or the bogeyman will get you!" to their errant progeny. In order for this to work, you need to believe that the bogeyman exists. Similarly, for adults, they have to believe that God exists and punishes the transgressors, for whom eternity in the fires of Hell awaits.

God is real. People believe in him. That makes him real. If people believe that a piece of paper is worth £10, then it is. Religion is merely a mechanism to keep people on the straight and narrow. Jesus was invented to show people what the straight and narrow looked like. God is there to pick you up if you stray but a little and to smite you down if you stray quite a lot.

That is why God is portrayed as Jesus' father, instead of the other way around. For centuries, "holy" men were dealing out divine retribution for transgressions, when people had no idea what the rules were. So, Jesus is invented to provide this guidance because, to be quite honest, the holy men were getting quite tired dealing out retribution. Jesus, or the concept that Jesus embodies, should have been around first. Show them the way; if you build it, they will come.

However, God is a "goody", and any good story needs a good baddy. Enter Satan. His role in this is unclear. If God is Ye Mighty Smiter, what does the Devil do? Well, he entices the people into wickedness, tempts them from the straight and narrow path onto the wide and windy road to Hell. But Lucifer really represents human nature, those leanings within us towards the animal that still lurks within us.

So, there we go. Religion reduced to its roots. The world is a stage, and even God, Lucifer and Jesus are revealed to be merely players. But The Ideal holds true, even if the play has lost its way, even if the players have lost their voices.

Religion is the bureaucracy that renders the ideal powerless. Embrace the ideal, the giant upon whose shoulders Religion stands.

What is the ideal? Honour. Live your life with honour. But do it because you want to, because it is the right thing to do, not because the Pope threatens you with the bogeyman.

28 March 2007

Nothing Ever Happens: Why Blogs Die

There is a song by Del Amitri that goes "Nothing ever happens. Nothing happens at all. The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before." And it's true. What you're doing right now is probably pretty much what you did yesterday and most likely what you'll be doing tomorrow.

The blogosphere is thinning. The bubble is bursting. Blogs are falling dormant in their thousands, HTML gravestones marking the points where people ran out of things to say.

But that isn't actually the problem. The problem is that people get bored of writing the same shit, day in, day out. It reminds them how repetitive their lives are, so they either stop blogging and a) do something about it, or b) ignore the problem.

Now, this blog has evolved over the eighteen or so months I've been doing it and the rate of new entries has plummeted. This is not because my life is repetitive (which of course it is) but because my suject matter is repetitive. My posts are generally rants about the same old things; intolerance, politics, society, evolution, communication, information. Name a -tion, there's a rant around here somewhere.

After a while, you find yourself, mid autorant, thinking that you've seen what you're typing somewhere else, and then you realise it was in the post you typed last week. At this point, your spam filter kicks in and for every five posts you start, one might get published. My list of posts is littered with entries where I've started ranting and then run out of steam.

No doubt some blogs die because the authors' spleens are fully vented. I have reached this point a number of times. I'm lucky, if you can call it that, to be a bit of a grumpy old man, so my spleen fills up faster than most. But still, there's not enough new unrighteousnesses in the world that I need to squash. The Palace is gathering dust, the Twin Swords of Truth and Beauty rusting in a corner.

And we get to what this blog is about; finding, through the medium of Rant, the answers to life's questions. In this case, why the papers and media are so full of conjecture, fabrication and meaningless drivel. The answer is that they are struggling to fill five pages with news, let alone fifty. So, just like sausages, out comes the cereal and the gristle to add a bit of bulk to the mix.

The ratio of signal to noise in the world is dropping. I will tweak my filters and try to tease some meaning from the good information that makes it through. There may be answers and there will be new questions. That's fine. What is Life without really good questions?

16 March 2007

No Mirrors in the Corridors of Power

It's a fact: there are no mirrors in The Whitehouse or Downing Street. You know how I know? Because if George Bush or Tony Blair looked at themselves in a mirror even once, they'd be out of Iraq and all over Zimbabwe like those cheap suits they seem to like so much.

Mugabe's actions are not those of a well man. Inflation is at 1700% and rising, life expectancy has fallen year on year to a World Record low of 37 years, emigration is at 20%, Industry is operating at 28% of capacity. AIDS infection hovers around 80%, with ~180K deaths leaving ~1.1M AIDS orphans, of whom ~160K are infected as well. (Figures from The Times)

His response to democratic reform is.....unilateral, to put if mildly. From destroying the homes of those who oppose him (Operation Murambatsvina) to beating his direct competition close to death (Morgan Tsvangirai), he has no regard for the consequences of his actions. The reasons for this are threefold; 1. He's a great big loony, 2. He cares little for the opinions of the outside world, 3. He knows that the outside world lack the gumption to do something about him.

So if there are crimes against humanity "allegedly" going on in Zimbabwe at the moment, where are the Leaders of The Free World? Where are the UN peacekeepers? When are we going to descend on Mugabe and remove him from power, like we did with Saddam in Iraq?

I'll tell you when. Never. And I'll tell you why. Because he hasn't got any Oil. And even if he did, the First World have a mental block about Africa. Africa is the land of brutal civil war, of famine, or disease, all the things that we in the First World want to avoid. The furthest we are prepared to go is to send aid and the occasional comedian to try and ease the suffering.

As Blair and Bush's premierships near and end, you might think they'd want to go out with a bang; do something worthwhile, memorable, something the people could get behind. A quick evisceration of Mugabe and his cronies and be home in time for tea and medals. The problem is that One Man and His Dog went to Iraq and got / are getting their fingers burned, so they are less likely to want to burn them somewhere hotter.

But Zimbabwe doesn't require Shock and Awe. Food and Medicine would do fine. All you need are some SAS / SEALS to blow him up, make it look like rebels and deny all knowledge. There are other ways to achieve change. I'd prefer the European "scalpel" approach to the American "M1 Abrams-up-the-ass! Woo! Get some!" approach. Hell, the CIA been pulling that shit for years. Wild Bill
invented the OSS (and thus, indirectly, the CIA) to pull precisely that sort of shit. They can do it.

You could compare Mugabe to Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Go on, compare. The man even has a Hitler moustache, for Pity's sake! You remember Hitler? He was big in the Thirties and, unlike Mugabe, he had a War and everyone was invited. He has probably caused as many people pain and suffering as Saddam ever did. Just because he is starving them, not gassing them, doesn't make him a better person.

Mugabe's uppence will come. It's just a matter of time. The only questions is; how many people will be left in Zimbabwe to celebrate? Sadly, it will be typical that his time will be one of the last to run out. But all it takes is one bullet. Surely Team America can afford one measly 5.56 FMJ?

06 March 2007

How to Stop America Invading You

Got Oil? English not your first language? Looking to expand your countrys technology base? Then the USA wants you! Dead.

So how do you stop the Redneck Army invading, short of waving Jesus flags? Simple. The solution is clear. Contaminate your Oil. With silicon. The advanced internal combustion engines of the infidels cannot process poor-quality gasoline. It's no use to 'em, can't use it.

So, if you've no usable natural resources, the only reason they've got to invade you is if you intend to get within one hundred years of them, technologically. And, between you and me, that's not really such a big deal to them. They just want your Oil.

Make their satellites work for YOU. Construct a huge oil contamination plant. Ship in huge quantities of silicon in yellow wagons with "Silicon" written on the roof. Be really blatant about pouring it into your oil. Smile for the cameras.

You are now free to abuse your womenfolk and develop dirty bombs in peace.

Contaminated unleaded petrol blamed for causing thousands of cars to break down has been traced to a depot in Essex, a supplier has said.