Nice guys these Quakers

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Yesterday I came across an article in a local online newspaper about how a group of Quakers are helping the LGBTQ community flee Uganda’s absurd and outrageous Anti-Homosexuality Act. What’s more, I got to learn a lot about the Quaker community, otherwise known as the Religious Society of Friends (didn’t know that either).

Like the Amish community, Quakers are fervently religious and believe very strongly in non-violence. However whereas The Amish are very conservative and don’t adapt to change, Quakers are pretty liberal and embrace modern technology. Another thing, Quakers don’t have priests or clergymen and eschew religious symbolism, and for that alone this atheist is warming up to them.

But here’s why I think they’re simply awesome: Quakers are involving themselves in a dangerous activity by helping people escape persecution. And they’ve done it before; many times.

Quakers denounced slavery as early as the 1670’s in Barbados. Later they would play a fundamental role in abolishing slavery in the United States. They were also involved in setting up the Underground Railroad in the USA which helped runaway slaves.

It was therefore fitting that the group based in Olympia, Washington, assisting people escape the bigotry and persecution as a result of the draconian law passed by the Ugandan government, decided to call themselves Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR).

However not everyone likes what they’re doing; even right’s activists and NGO’s within the LGBTQ community have their reservations, but I think it’s just remarkable.

Meanwhile Ugandan activists, and right’s organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) who incidentally are critical of what FNUR are doing, are petitioning the courts to overturn the anti-gay law. I sincerely hope they’re succesful. The world does not need legislated hatred.

iKILL

Face of Death - ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Face of Death – ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Call them what you want, IS, ISIS, ISIL, they simply represent the irrational and barbaric killing of innocent men, women and children.

I caught some news reports yesterday of this inhuman organization recruiting potential new murderers in South Africa. Iraqi ambassador to South Africa Dr Hushaim al-Alawi was quoted as stating that three South African recruits  had already been killed in Syria. Other reports indicate that up to 140 people were recruited already, and our Intelligence Services (*smirk) are apparently not aware of it.

Even more alarming for me is that at least one brainwashed fucknut was recruited from the nondescript little town I live in. * Shudders!

Jesus fucking Christ! I could have brushed shoulders with this cretin while shopping in one of the cramped little shops that serve this town.

Fuck me! Another shower I think…

Why don’t you get a job?

They’re back at the intersections asking motorists for money to help pay for their holidays…

It happens every year now. High school kids (possibly also college kids) having completed year-end papers, gather in groups, usually in some eye-catching outfit, collecting money from what they hope will be pliable motorists.

Why don’t you guys get a job like I had to when I finished a school year? It’s not like we’re asking you to join a chain gang or anything. Any part-time job will do.

30 Years Ago (give or take a couple of days)

lennymaysay:

I caught a glimpse in some publication or the other that the re-release of Do They Know It’s Christmas had caused some controversy, but I wasn’t bothered enough to read further. It seems to me that just about everything will cause consternation in some quarter or the other.

This blog post however sums everything up quite nicely…

Originally posted on colemining:

On November 24th, 1984, a bunch of pop stars got together and recorded a song. There was a famine happening in Ethiopia, and this guy, the lead singer and songwriter of a band out of Ireland, was more than a little staggered that very little seemed to be happening to address what was going on.

He got in touch with a mate, the lead singer and songwriter of a band out of Scotland, and the two of them threw together- not overnight, but close- a tune and some lyrics.

Were the lyrics, perhaps, a little Western-centric and culturally-condescending? Arguably, yes. Was the song catchy and well-intentioned? Definitely. In my opinion, such as it is, anyway.

The two musicians then set about gathering up the biggest names in the British music business of the day and bringing them all together to record the song. All this, like the composition of the…

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Write For Rights – Free Raif Badawi

Saudi Arabia may have lots of oil and sand, but is seriously lacking in humanity.

Life is fleeting and precious, so it should be an imperative for humans to look out for each other. But religious madness more often than not demands that the poorly interpreted decrees of an invisible deity be held in higher reverence than human well-being and life itself. Such is life under Saudi Sharia law.

Raif Badawi, A Saudi national was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes. His crime – “daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.” And according to the authorities, he is guilty of one other crime, one that is considered – no declared – an act of terrorism in Saudi Arabia; he is an atheist.

Badawi started a website writing blogs that called for religious tolerance and women’s rights. However the kingdom, no doubt spurred on by demented fundamentalist religious leaders hell-bent on perpetuating the inhuman Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, declared this act (one all rational people would call noble) to be insulting to Islam.

As part of a campaign to raise awareness about the gross human rights violations perpetrated by despotic rulers (no doubt religion is a very useful tool), which includes a petition to free Badawi, Amnesty International released this moving clip of his daughter writing to him in prison.

For further reading on the despicable system of justice in Saudi Arabia, look no further than Wikipedia.

About the other night…

I went to a party the other night… Wait! That sounds like the opening line of a song I remember from back in high school*.

Oh yeah, about that party. It was wicked. Rocky Horror theme; lot’s of alcohol and make-up and wild costumes and awesome music and wild dancing and more alcohol.

The girls insisted I dress up off course; not that I was gonna go naked. But I might as well have been. And what about that get-up they coaxed me into – yeah, literally. Lacy bra and tank top, lacy black stockings. And tons of make-up. Eye shadow, mascara, ruby-red lipstick with gloss and sparkles. I’ve always imagined make-up to be like a plaster caste, but it felt very normal.

That brassiere though was a tad tight. And my stomach didn’t flatter that tank top in any way. But hey, I was not about to lose weight for just one party, especially after working so hard to get it back up to my normal level after that gall bladder operation. Otherwise, everything felt very comfortable. Too comfortable according to the girls. But…. we live just once.

And there were some interesting props scattered around. Like this. Those hands are real, but no, they did not stay attached to the poster the whole night.

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And some bizarre naughty like this. Yes, it had batteries, but just for the flashing lights inside. The guy who brought it,  a Nederlander, partied with us till late and went on to ride a 94 kilometer cycle race the next day.

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And some interesting people. Like this guy here. Oh wait, that’s just me. That’s not a wig by the way.

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Who’d have guessed putting on make-up and dressing in women’s clothes could be so exhilirating and liberating. Definitely gotta do it again some time. Maybe with not so much alcohol.

* Harari Party by an African band called Harari with Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. Have a listen.

Melograno in blossom

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The pomegranate tree in the garden is starting to bloom. It’s actually been sprouting little buds for a few weeks already, but I keep forgetting to take a photograph. Finally got it last week.

Pomegranate just sounds so weird for the name of a fruit; I think I much prefer the Italian name melograno which rolls more sweetly of the tongue. The name derives from medieval Latin – pōmum which is “apple” and grānātum or “seeded”.

The pomegranate is thought to have originated in the region between Egypt and The Himalayas. It is now grown in most parts of the world. Kandahar in Afghanistan which has latterly become infamous for the death and destruction wreaked by the Taliban, is famous for its high quality pomegranate crop (also infamous for the opium poppy).

Pomegranate seeds have a variety of uses, but I’ve used them occasionally to make my Tequila shots more pleasant ala Jamie Oliver style.

Cheers.

Love and life in black and white

No words necessary. My Monday music gift to all you beautiful people…

The Martian by Andy Weir

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Andy Weir’s first published novel is simply awesome. I can’t believe that he couldn’t find a publisher, resorting to posting the book for free consumption on his website before being noticed and published. And now there’s even a film in the works, scheduled for release later next year.

The plot centres around astronaut Mark Watney who has been stranded on Mars after a NASA mission. He has to use all his training, mechanical engineering and botany qualifications and sheer human ingenuity to survive, until he is rescued. However, in the beginning he didn’t know he would be rescued, so it was just the sheer will to live for as long as possible. Back on Earth, everyone thought he was long dead.

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.

Yes, that he was, until an observant NASA employee on earth noticed a few anomalies on some satellite surveillance photographs, and realised that he may just well have survived.

While NASA went about in earnest trying to attempt a rescue mission, Watney was left to fend for himself on a barren planet hell-bent on killing him at every turn. The science that Watney uses to survive (manufacturing air, water and growing potatoes in Martian soil) is all real. As Watney logs his daily struggles to survive with great wit in a journal, one can’t help rooting for the guy and cheering him on.

Being incommunicado did not help much, until he finds an abandoned Mars Rover whose equipment he modifies to set up a two-way communication link with NASA back on Earth. That was fun for a while, until he destroys the equipment in a freak accident. It was then back to writing Morse Code with rocks laid out on the ground, and our intrepid NASA employee photographing them with satellites. Slow, one way, but effective enough.

It takes on average about nine months to make the trip to Mars from Earth, and that is only if the two planets are lined up favourably in orbit around the sun in relation to each other. This favourable alignment occurs once every 26 months, so the lauch window is very tight. Therefore NASA can not just fire off a spaceship whenever they want to get to Mars. So if you’re stranded on Mars, it’s a long wait for help.

I’m not going to give away anything else; you’ll just have to read the book. Did I mention it’s awesome?