About lennymaysay

Atheist, non-conformist, anti-authority

Ohrwurm Monday

I always suspected there’s an expression for when a song gets stuck inside your head, but as I found out, it’s not what you’d expect.

It happens to me quite frequently; songs getting stuck in my head that is. According to HowStuffWorks, this phenomenon can be described as follows:

Experts say the culprits are earworms (or “ohrwurms,” as they’re called in Germany). No, they’re not parasites that crawl into your ear and lay musical eggs in your brain, but they are parasitic in the sense that they get lodged in your head and cause a sort of “cognitive itch” or “brain itch” — a need for the brain to fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm.

Sounds like a reasonable theory to me. The song that’s crawled its way into my head at the moment is King of the Road by Roger Miller. I’m not really a big fan of country music, and this happens to be on my car’s music player. Yes, I put it there. Don’t ask…

As an experiment, I want to see if it’s catching. So come on now; be a sport and sing along…

Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
ain’t got no big regrets

Two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys a eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means, by no means
King of the road

Third boxcar, midnight train
Destination: Bangor, Maine
Old worn out suit and shoes
I don’t pay no union dues

I smoke, old stogies I have found
Short, but not too big around
I’m a man of means, by no means
King of the road

I know every engineer on every train
All of the children and all of their names
Every handout in every town
Every lock that ain’t locked when no one’s around

They sing, trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain’t got no cigarettes

About two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means, by no means
King of the road

Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain’t got no cigarettes

About two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means, by no means
King of the road

How democracy in South Africa is being nursed along

Following the publication of my post yesterday about the ANC’s shocking understanding of democracy, it has occurred to me that democracy is being kept alive on life support.

This then is the postscript to The ANC’s perception of democracy is terrifying.

This may sound overly dramatic to the majority who voted the ANC into power, but the parties that you spurned at the polls, are in fact the only thing keeping this country from being not only a kleptocracy, but a dictatorship as well. Yes, the minority parties are in fact protecting you from the ANC.

Ironic, isn’t it?

The much vaunted Constitution is barely coping in keeping greed, corruption, cronyism, fascism and hunger for power at bay, being under constant attack by the ruling party. Were it not for the Public Protector, the minority opposition parties in Parliament and the reliable preservers of justice still left in the Judiciary, who knows where this country might be today.

Don’t believe me? Go on shooting yourself in the foot then.

The ANC’s perception of democracy is terrifying

democracy

It is my belief that democracy is failing in South Africa, and the reason for this is two-fold: first, the incumbent government’s perception of democracy is out of kilter with the traditional meaning, and secondly, the voting public is largely politically immature.

Before I get stuck into this little rant, let me be clear that when I talk about the ANC, I am referring to the fat-cats who are at the top of the organization. That is to say, those who through an elaborate patronage system, gets a ticket to stand in the queue at the feeding trough; or to put it bluntly, the ANC politicians on national, regional and local government levels.

Over the course of 20 years of ANC rule (let’s be frank – they govern on increasingly rare occasions), I have come to realize that they have a fundamentally flawed understanding of what democracy means. Those who are ANC supporters, sympathizers and collaborators may not necessarily have the same flawed understanding – indeed many have rather romanticized notions of what democracy is – are nonetheless complicit in the failure of the system by virtue of their association with this organization.

The traditional meaning of democracy is according to one source, government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. There is off course that famous line from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech which most people recognize more readily “… government of the people, by the people, for the people…”

The ANC, more so by their behaviour since Jacob Zuma became the leader and President of the country, have however demonstrated a radical departure from these principles. It would seem as if their understanding of democracy is much simpler: the majority rules, or to put it sarcastically, those who get the most votes by whatever means, gets to decide what’s best for everyone.

And this folks, is how the ANC functions. Their fanatical intolerance of anything proposed by anyone outside the ANC, no matter how just or moral is shocking to behold. For them it’s the ANC way, or the highway. In pursuit of retaining total dominance and control, the ANC are willing to do just about anything – stack the judiciary, security forces, civil service and police in their favour, and railroad draconian legislation into force.

Just this week a minority party dared to ask the President a question in Parliament, which he refused to answer (which incidentally is becoming the norm; either that or replies that are obfuscated) , and they were censured by the ruling ANC. Admittedly this minority party behaved rather shabbily after the President refused to answer, but the question was valid and pertinent to the lives and well-being of the population as a whole.

The ANC’s Deputy-Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte even had the temerity to state that a party that had only garnered six percent of the vote, had no right to question a party that had managed to get sixty percent at the polls. How is this democracy? And what the fuck is a Deputy-Secretary-General anyway? It just sounds so dictatorial; belonging in a long discredited Communist era.

And let’s be fair. The ANC can hardly be considered Communist. They are just so enamoured of the bling and high lifestyle. The long-suffering public have simply lost count of the incidences of corruption involving the ANC, and have sadly become immune to new revelations which are an almost daily occurrence.

If the ANC believes they know what democracy is all about, they’re either delusional or wilfully ignorant. I hope it’s the former, because the latter suggests an agenda that has frightening consequences for this country.

Making amends with Herman Charles Bosman

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I have a rather embarrassing confession to make.

I have not read a single book by a South African author in all of my 48 years. Surprisingly, I was not asked to in school either, although one set-work was African, but not South African. And so, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has been the only book from this continent that I have read.

I have given some of the greatest authors ever, the skip, for all these years. Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, Nelson Mandela, Andre Brink, J.M Coetzee, Antjie Krog, Breyten Breytenbach, Wally Seroto, Olive Schreiner, and even J.R.R. Tolkien who was South African born, all passed me by.

At this point, I need to make another confession. What I stated in the paragraph prior to the one above, is not entirely true. I did read Slave Species of God by Michael Tellinger out of curiosity, but I consider that a non-book. It is the biggest load of pseudo-scientific rubbish you will read. And so it does not count.

However, all that has changed and I’m now making amends for the many years of scorning South African authors. About two weeks ago, I was loaned an old copy of Herman Charles Bosman’s Bosman At His Best. It’s a compilation of some of his best short stories, and what an awesome story-teller he is. And that’s not all. This guy is damned funny. Get a load of this from In the Withaak’s Shade:

I remember the occasion that I came across a leopard unexpectedly, and to this day I couldn’t tell you how many spots he had, even though I had all the time I needed for studying him. It happened about mid-day, when I was out on the far end of my farm, behind a koppie, looking for some strayed cattle. I thought the cattle might be there because it is shady under those withaak trees, and there is soft grass that is very pleasant to sit on. After I had looked for the cattle for about an hour in this manner, sitting up against a tree trunk, it occurred to me that I could look for them just as well, or perhaps even better, if I lay down flat. For even a child knows that cattle aren’t so small that you have got to get on to stilts and things to see them properly.

And…

What was more, I could go on lying there under the withaak and looking for the cattle like that all day, if necessary. As you know, I am not the sort of farmer to loaf about the house when there is a man’s work to be done.

Not surprisingly, I’ve dropped everything else I’m reading until after I’ve devoured these brilliant stories from one of South Africa’s most famous authors.

Incidentally, there’s a full reading of this hilarious short story available here on YouTube.

Melancholy Monday

In truth, it’s not really. Okay, maybe just a little. After an awesome weekend, Mondays are like a kick to the teeth. Work and all that.

Here’s a great song by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Don’t look up the lyrics. I mean it. Don’t! Just enjoy the song…

 

War Porn: The Death of James Foley

lennymaysay:

Yet another angle on the James Foley murder which exposes a human behavioural trait which is rather reprehensible.

Originally posted on The Nahmias Cipher Report:

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 22:10 p.m. DST, 20 August 2014

James Foley, Photojournalist GlobalPost, 1973 - 2014, Photo by Diederich College of Communication

James Foley, Journalist, 1973 – 2014 Photo: Marquette University

ALEPPO, Syria — We have become a world of sensates, who require more and more input only to receive less and less gratification. We live in a world, and in fact this website and the millions of others like it, inhabit a sphere dedicated to satisfying the immediate need for any information or misinformation that we may seek.

Today, we awoke to the news that another journalist had fallen in the line of duty while trying to expose gross injustices in war-torn Syria. His death was as brutal as, or more so than, the hundreds of murders captured by video and being circulated through the web depicting the torturous final moments of people chosen by radicals to demonstrate the nature of their resolve.

The radical ‘du jour’ was ISIS, a.k.a…

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Savagery Explained: 5 Reasons Humans Become Inhuman

lennymaysay:

I’m still torn up inside, over the savage beheading of journalist James Foley. While I’m not sure this article fully explains why mankind resorts to such uncivilized behaviour, it does make some interesting observations.

Originally posted on The Winner Effect:

As Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria butcher thousands of “infidels” and carry off their women and children into slavery, many in the West are inclined to see this as an unique outcrop of Islamic fundamentalism. Yet after over-running a Bosnian town on 11th July 1995, Bosnian Serb – ostensibly Christian – forces, cold-bloodedly massacred 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. Hutu genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda, Khmer Rouge mass-murder of Cambodian city-dwellers, Nazi genocide of Jews, Gypsies and the disabled….the list of savagery is as long as it is profoundly depressing.

Isis Execution

Savagery begets Savagery

What, then are the origins of savagery, if they cannot be ascribed to a single religion or ideology? The first part of an answer may be horribly simple: savagery begets savagery. Callousness, aggression and lack of empathy are common responses by people who have been harshly treated themselves. In the Nazi concentration camps…

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No, We Are Not Civilized. Or, Why the 21st Century is Still Stuck in the 12th (The Persistence of Middle-Ages Mentality in the Modern Age)

lennymaysay:

With the tragic murder reported today of US journalist James Foley by Islamic extremists ISIS, one has to question how civilized we really are…

That is but one act of madness in a world plagued by countless acts of religious, political, social, economic and cultural insanity.

Originally posted on Ideas Out There:

Hans Rosling has shown us that the world is getting better. We have by far the greatest proportion of humanity moving out of absolute poverty that we have ever had. At the same time, Stephen Pinker proves that, remarkably, we are also becoming less violent as a species. We have the internet to exchange ideas, and hundreds of thousands of social justice and environmental movements are springing up demanding a better world.

But in so many ways, we are still enormously backward. So medieval, in fact, that I do despair sometimes. How can we be simultaneously becoming so enlightened and still suffer from these plagues to our collective progress:

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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…

How often have you heard someone say “Life is too short…,” to preface something they’re urging you not to do, or do, for that matter? Gazillions right? I’ve said it too, many times.

And it’s just wrong!  The truth is that life is actually the longest thing you will ever do. Period. Think about it…

Now about that video clip – one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films, and pretty darn appropriate for this month. It seems to contradict what I’ve said above. Right?

No!

It just means to live life making wise choices during the time you have at your disposal; that’s my take on it at any rate. Because nobody knows how long their term of life will be, unless they intentionally choose a time to end it. Easier said than done, I admit, but surely we can strive to make more wise choices than unwise ones, overall.

And forget about “living” forever in the afterlife. That’s just a steaming pile of bullshit. Living once is enough, if you do it right, as someone once said (okay, I paraphrased – sue me)

Now for that poem by Robert Herrick from Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams. And oh, don’t take that bit in the last verse about marrying too seriously. It’s 2014 for Thor’s sake; just substitute it with go live in… It won’t rhyme with You may for ever tarry, but hey, you can’t have it all, now can you.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.