Nice guys these Quakers

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Quaker_star

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.

Prophet Joshua’s Highrise for Profit

T B Joshua is called The Prophet and Man of God. But only by the desperate, the credulous and those who stand to benefit from his massive fraud scheme.

The organization Joshua heads know as Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan), can not be regarded as anything but a very lucrative racket that preys on the questionable beliefs of ordinary people. And it’s based in Nigeria which is arguably synonymous with fraud.

Last week a guesthouse on the Scoan property collapsed, killing over 100 worshippers, 84 of whom were South Africans. It is alleged that the building collapsed because additional floors were being added without reinforcing the foundations. The allegation appears to be credible especially since, Joshua has gone to great lengths to claim that the building was sabotaged by his enemies. This week his television network took out a full-page advertisement in a Lagos daily newspaper asking for an investigation that would “bring to book all those involved in the obvious terror attack (on) the church aimed at not only embarrassing and discrediting prophet T.B. Joshua… but the entire nation of Nigeria.”

The fraudster prophet claimed that a plane flying overhead had something to do with the collapse, with some reports stating that Joshua specifically mentioned Boko Haram, an Islamist organization that is terrorizing certain parts of Nigeria, being involved. He even released a CCTV surveillance video which supposedly shows planes flying at low altitude over the building around the time of the collapse.

scoan

A fellow skeptic pointed out last week that the Lagos airport is just a few kilometers away from the church complex, which seems to indicate that airplane activity over the building would be quite normal. This makes a mockery of the claim that an aircraft caused the building to collapse, since it is becoming clear after rescue operations, that the addition of floors to the structure was not done in the prescribed manner. Further, it is unlikely that the savages known as Boko Haram could have access to aircraft, being well-known as a guerilla “army” more adept at slaughtering innocent civilians around the jungles on terra firma.

What is disconcerting is the absolute lack of outrage from the Nigerian government. T B Joshua it would appear is well-connected. It would not be surprising is the announced investigation clears him of all responsibility. It would be yet another blight (in an amazingly long list) on religion if he is not found culpable, not to mention an insult to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

Slightly Orff

Yet another awesome weekend spent with friends, albeit one involving copious quantities of alcohol (whiskey to be precise), and some charity work.

Carmina Burana by Orff is a composition that I listen to quite often in the car. The original Carmina Burana on which Orff based his composition, is a collection of 254 poems that were written in Medieval Latin and High German by clerics and students to satirize the Catholic Church. Just the kind of thing that I find personally satisfying.

Earlier this weekend I came across this masterpiece by the Sydney Symphony and Sydney Choirs Orchestra which in the spirit of the original poems, not only parodies Carmina Burana, but pays tribute to sleep-deprived parents. This had me in fits of laughter.

Now be really good; put your phone down and go to bed.

Muggy

lennymaysay:

The musings of Argentum Vulgaris. Check it out!

Originally posted on Life is but a Labyrinth:

GHWYes, it’s muggy. Not hot, but very humid. I am sitting here in my underpants….

Oh shit, you didn’t read the warning, did you!

…sweating at 8am.

And the day promises to get hotter.

Last night, I had pizza for supper. I had planned a full meal, but after late class and a later beer, I decided that pizza was less time and effort.

breakfastSo, breakfast this morning, I took the advice of Foul Bachelor Frog (see Tuesday’s posts on Nether Region of the Earth III) and had a ready prepared snack in the fridge.

Although, I did make it more breakfasty by spreading cream cheese on it.

Quite yummy.

In my younger days we didn’t have pizza like today. There were no Pizza Huts or pizzas in the supermarkets, so we didn’t have the same advantages of today’s youths where cold pizza competes with cornflakes as a breakfast…

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Considerations of a Tired Man

lennymaysay:

I could add to that list of lamentations, but if you’ve been paying attention, you would know them already. However, if you’re oblivious to the woes of the world, but getting on just fine, please let us know how you got to that awesome planet you’re on.

Originally posted on Attenti al Lupo:

enough_is_enough

The world outside seems like a crazy merry-go-around.

Severed heads. Shattered countries. Helpless presidents. Girls are raped like it’s nothing – in India and Sudan it can seem like it’s endemic. And the world is silent.

Chaos. Do we even know what we are anymore?

Everyone’s yelling about something; we’ve learned to bark better than the dogs. And the dogs are abandoned like they are trash.

Suffering. Children are used as human shields; it’s happening now in Syria and not too long ago in Gaza.

The North hate the South. The South swears the North is a plague. The Whites kill the Blacks. The Blacks murder other Blacks -and sometimes Whites, too. Ninety percent of the world is starving. Elephants are nearly extinct and tigers are killed to make throw rugs.

Priests speak of God, but they turn their backs and leave the little nuns in Burundi to do the…

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A quotidian mess

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Facebook appears to be the favoured dumping ground for usually soppy quotes by those who either harbour an agenda to mislead, or who are either too lazy to validate or just plain credulous. In the case of the former, these quotes are often misattributed to celebrated personalities. I have no doubt that Twitter experiences its fair share of quote dumping, but since I’m not a subscriber, I’ll limit myself to what I do see.

The innocuous quotes are reasonably acceptable, but annoying in that they occupy far too much Timeline real estate. The others are sinister and hide religious, political, cultural or other nasty agendas, and when spread around may case serious harm.

Off course there are quotes that are genuinely of a scientific, skeptical and educational nature that are beneficial and if humorous to boot, are quite acceptable. I’m also not averse to the odd salacious quote that exposes religious, political or social douchebaggery.

I can’t say that I’ve come across too many examples of quote mining, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if that sort of thing happens quite frequently in certain Facebook circles, especially those that promote religion and pseudo-science.

I often wonder what my Facebook friends think of me when I don’t like one of those soppy quotes they post. I have actually gotten into arguments when I commented negatively on some of them, so refrain from that sort of thing these days. The religiously inspired ones are particularly annoying. Sometimes in a fit of rage, I will repost them on my own Timeline with a snarky comment, but I try my best to control my ire. When I fail, I do hope it does not do too much damage to my Facebook friends’… er egos.

I am really pleased however that hardly any one of my Facebook friends have posted the unadulterated horse-shit that seems to be the make-up of Deepak Chopra. You could string together any of the words he spews out regularly, in random, and they will seemingly sound profound. I shit you not. Here are some examples:

Perception arises and subsides in cosmic success

The future exists as dimensionless balance

The unexplainable grows through subjective phenomena

Why not amuse yourself some more with this Random Quote Generator of the “enigmatic wisdom” of Deepak Chopra.

Friends

I just spent the most awesome weekend with friends, celebrating the 50th birthday of one dude in particular. There’s just nothing like being around good friends.

Monday being normally the day I post music videos, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of these…

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running. Well mostly, off course. You’ll forgive me if I’m a little late, won’t you.

Things just work out so much better with a little help from your friends, but maybe not with the lyrics.

And you, yes you, are my best friend. I’m not saying who. I think this one is going to get me into trouble.

Sometimes you just have to wait on a friend. Another whiskey old chum? I’m pouring.

Off course your friend, doesn’t have to be an actual person. Strangely it could be a diamond; ask any girl.

Or stranger still, it could be the wind.

Can’t say I’ve had any friends who were depressed. Disturbed yes. Cripes, now I’m gonna be in a real spot of bother.

And yep, I can just tell we are gonna be friends.

Finally, just know this: I’ll always be there for you.

 

 

 

iDon’tGeddit

Big news this week is the release of yet another iteration of the iPhone. It’s the iPhone half-a-dozen and it’s much bigger; and probably sports some new-fangled tech-shit that will amuse a lot of people no end.

But am I the only person who doesn’t understand this fascination obsession with new cellular phones? Sorry “smart” phones.

And I’m not just picking on Apple. They’re the solo-evil-genius of the smart phone world, but the Android operating system has multiple evil manufacturers. If I remember correctly, Samsung released a new Galaxy version only just recently, also with a few more bells and whistles that maybe ten people will actually use.

Off course the one thing that keeps improving, is the camera on these phones. But I still don’t understand why. There must be like ten people in the whole world who have somehow managed to capture a really good photo with a smart phone. Everything else is just shite. Why wouldn’t it be? Who can hold a smart phone steady enough to take a really good photo. All it’s good for is selfies. And there you have the irony with smartphones. They’re made for not very smart people.

I got my first smart phone a little over a year ago. I chose a Blackberry because I didn’t want to be called an Apple or Android or Thor forbid, a Windows fanboy. I also only wanted a phone to make and receive calls and send and receive the odd text message. And Blackberry used to be the most stable and reliable cellphone out there. Then it all went south.

The nightmare started after the first software upgrade. The phone became practically unusable. So Blackberry eventually sorted out the mess after a few months, but the company was going down the tubes pretty fast. The next software version fixed the bugs of the version that was supposed to make Blackberry the greatest thing since… Blackberry. I think they’ve recovered somewhat in recent times.

But then came the next software upgrade a few weeks ago. And guess what? Yep, my phone is almost unusable again.Sigh!

So I’m now waiting for the software upgrade to fix the software upgrade…

Jersey Boys

I don’t normally do film reviews but I going to make an exception because it gives me the opportunity to slip in a song.

I’ve listened to December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) countless times over the years and never really bothered to find out more about Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons. Jersey Boys was therefore a timely education in music history for me.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars the main cast from the Broadway Musical and Christopher Walken, one of my favorite actors. Basically it tells the story of Tommy Devito, Nick Massi, Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli (real name Francesco Stephen Castelluccio) wo formed a friendship in the 50’s that nearly resulted in them becoming hardened criminals, and how they cemented a musical relationship that resulted in the formation of the band the Four Seasons in the 60’s.

A nice bit of trivia was learning that the songwriter Bob Gaudio was introduced to the others by none other than Joe Pesci the actor. When Tommy Devito is eventually forced to leave the band he goes on to work for Pesci, in what capacity is not revealed.

Christopher Walken plays a rather likeable mobster boss, who has a soft spot for the boys, especially Frankie. And as usual he does a superb job.

You may remember some of the hit songs by the Four Seasons such as Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and The Frankie Valli solo Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, but I’m going to leave this one here…

Walk Like A Man

There is a rather poignant moment at the end with the Four Seasons getting back together after more than twenty years to sing together again in 1990 when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and Frankie Valli remembering how four guys used to sing under a street lamp.

 

Mrs. President

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I am all in favour of female Presidents, because let’s face it, men are such egotistical bastards when it comes to governing. Unsurprisingly I rooted for Hillary Clinton to become the President of the USA when the choice was “do you want America to have its first Black President or first female President.”

Female heads of state are not rare, but neither is it a common occurrence. Europe, South America and the Far East seem to have a more enlightened approach and leads the way when it comes to electing a head of state, compared to the rest of the world. Africa has had only about three female heads of state, if you exclude those who acted in the position. In what is traditionally a male dominated sphere, women who do become Head of State, must surely have had a tough time getting there, and an even rougher time, being there.

However, in certain instances one has to draw the line at who is allowed to become a female leader of a country. I draw the line when cronyism or competence is involved.

Grace, Robert Mugabe’s wife’s entrance into politics in Zimbabwe is a classic case of cronyism. Anyone with two brain cells must immediately conclude that this is a blatant attempt by Mugabe to entrench his hold on power by creating a political dynasty involving his family. Off course in a country where democracy is just a word, and elections a mere formality, her rise to the top is all but guaranteed.

South Africans from many quarters have been proposing that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of incumbent President Jacob Zuma, become the next President. As much as I would love to have a female President of South Africa, it must not be this woman. If her performance and achievements as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Health and Home Affairs at various times ar anything to go by, she is not fit to be a leader of state. Her current portfolio as head of the African Union Commission (AUC), formerly The Organization of African Unity (OAU) is also not something to be proud of. This is essentially a glorified Dictator’s Club.

South Africa has many women of substantial quality who can lead the country, when Jacob Zuma is hopefully booted out unceremoniously. We must choose wisely.