Have the Arsenal signed on a few spectators?

It’s becoming all too much to bear.  Another dreadful night of football with the Arsenal not being able to get past Wigan; which they should have done quite comfortably.

Wenger has no excuses this time – he can’t blame the pitch, or the two atrocious refereeing decisions. Arsenal should have won despite this. But they didn’t . And perhaps Wenger needs to admit for once that he screwed up.

His starting lineup showed a great deal of arrogance and disrespect for Wigan. He is not going to win games against the so-called minnows if he insists on picking players who would be visibly more comfortable sitting in the stands watching the game. Even though Arshavin and Bendtner both scored, they were mere spectators for large parts of the game.

The Arsenal are in desperate need of players who are prepared to put in some work; not just wait for the ball to roll up to their feet. Bendtner, Arshavin, Denilson and Chamakh to a certain extent are just far too lazy, and don’t make the extra efforts required to get to the ball in cases where the passes are not 100% accurate.

It’s time Wenger looked at offloading these spectators and employing some honest hard-working no-nonsense footballers, even if they’re supposedly not as talented as this lot. And boy does that defense need some attention. Make-shift is hardly the word to describe the disaster-in-waiting that passes for a defense.

If Wenger thinks he’s going to win any trophies this year with these low levels of commitment on regular display, then he must be the most optimistic professor of football, ever.

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Shock! Horror! Christmas decorations and wearing a Santa costume is threatening to other religions…well one in particular

I’m non-religious, but even I can appreciate and enjoy the festive spirit, the Christmas decorations, the fat Santa’s, and especially the beautiful traditional music being played everywhere.

The stores and malls everywhere are annoyingly overcrowded with shoppers whizzing around to get in that last-minute shopping, but even that is not enough to make one hopping mad. The rush of people is in a sense wonderful to observe, and be part off [OK, a weird sense]. Anyway, it is good to see people looking far happier than any other time of year.

Personally, I don’t think it has much to do with the fact that it’s the claimed anniversary of the miraculous birth of a mythical supernatural entity. Or even the far more believable pagan festivals it is based upon. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that people look forward to a much-needed break from working for the corporate crooks, or having a little more money to spend if the corporate crooks were amazingly more generous. Perhaps it’s because the traffic is much easier, what with the corporate crooks and those who somehow have a bit more money, all being down at the coast. Or just the mundane desire to pig out, for once.

For whatever reason, people are just a little bit happier this time of year, and it really pisses me off when someone tries to fuck with that state of being.

So, imagine my disgust when I read this report of one Muhyidin Junaidi, one of the chairmen [how many do they need?] of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, a Moslem religious authority, who had the following scrooge-like drivel to mouth off about:

[The decorations] are too demonstrative, and that might incite a counterproductive reaction from the Muslim community.

But it should not be excessive, otherwise it might hurt the feelings of the Muslim community.

And from another source:

We received complaints from a number of malls’ employees who are forced to wear Santa Claus costumes which are against their faith. Such things should not have happened.

We need to restrain Muslims from joining the festivities.

I mean WTF. How is it possible?

  • That decorations can be demonstrative, invoke counterproductive reactions, and hurt someone’s feelings. [Are Moslems so fragile?]
  • For an article of clothing to be in conflict with a religion? Is that rational or sane? What does it say about the religion, or the person who believes such nonsense?
  • To restrain people from wanting to enjoy themselves? Perennial threats of eternal damnation? That’s the crux of religion, isn’t it?

These absurd religious bodies should stop interfering in people’s happiness and concentrate on the losing battle to make themselves more relevent in a society that is increasingly becoming conscious of their kill-joy tendencies.

Just pull out that culture card…again

I read a letter posted to an online newspaper today. Yay! No wait! It was interesting, in the way it showed up the ignorance about culture.

This guy, David Lucas was writing in response to a presumably white women who expressed her disgust at the penchant of the local Zulu population to slowly and ritually kill an ox with their bare hands, to satisfy a traditional custom known as Ukweshwama. Well, he basically called her a racist and berated her for questioning the culture of non-white people, supposedly while her own race indulged in similar bloody practices.

He goes on to cite Spanish bullfighting, the bull running in Pamplona and the Rodeo in the USA as examples of bloody practices that whites indulged in. He states that if you ask the Spaniards, Italians [?] or Americans why they “do this to animals,” they would respond that it’s part of their culture.

And that folks is where the problem is. Not only are these Spaniards, Italians [?] and Americans idiots, they responded that way [if this idiot, David Lucas is to be believed]because of years of indoctrination in protecting one’s beliefs. The bloody sporting activities described by David Lucas are no more cultural than picking one’s nose. It’s just become very convenient to protect one’s crazy beliefs and desires under the banner of culture, just as one protects one’s crazy supernatural beliefs and desires under the banner of religion. Culture and religion – a great place to hide and protect craziness.

These people know that once you classify something as religious or cultural, you will enjoy the protection of the clergy, the politicians and the state. It’s that simple. Really David, you dumb fuck, it’s wrong whether you’re black or white or fucking alien green; race has nothing to do with it.

And David, I’m non-white and I have this sudden strange desire to practise the Aztec ritual of  ripping out still-pumping hearts from the chests of my fellow humans. It’s bloody yes, but I feel the need to proliferate this great cultural tradition once more. I’m sure I can count on your support, if some frigging white person has the temerity to object…

A new blog to create awareness about the slime that flows through public office

I’ve decided to start another blog specifically to expose the slime that flows far too freely through public office. I guess I was inspired by the whole WikiLeaks saga to create awareness about how our elected [or not, depending on the political system in place] officials take us for mugs, attempting to pull the entire sheep over our heads.

We need to become more vigilant about the antics of politicians, and I daresay, probably more of a vigilante too…

You will find a link for ScumWatch on the blogroll in the sidebar. I will still continue to publish my irreverent takes on religion, culture and just about anything else, here at Lenny Says.

Gbagbo… just won't go

Is there something in the air or soil of Africa that nurtures despots, tyrants and just plain bad-ass politicians? Perhaps it’s the African sun? But whatever it is, I’m pretty sure that Africa hosts the majority of the world’s worst leaders [I use the word grudgingly].

The latest in a long line of despots whose minds have seemingly become frizzled by the African sun, and who refuse to relinquish their grip on power, is Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast. This Bgagbo of shit joins an ignominious assembly of scumbags, who desperately cling to power, and whose utter disregard for humanity is legendary:

For a more comprehensive [but not definitive] list, which incorporates crackpots from all over the world, visit foreignpolicy.com. And this is just a list of the current filth that pollutes world’s political stage. Let’s not even consider the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko and Jean Bedel Bokassa. The most striking thing about these scum of the earth, is that they would most likely have at some stage in their rotten lives, spoken out against European or Western imperialism and colonialism. So what turns self-proclaimed liberators into fascists?

Do we in South Africa have anything to worry about? Not with Jacob Zuma, I don’t think; it’s abundantly clear he’s just a puppet. However, with the likes of Julius Malema, idling in the wings, mouthing off about revolutionaries on the one hand and agents on the other, I think we need to be extra vigilant…

The hated, rated…

So, if the spin doctors are to be believed, President Jacob Zuma, a serial bungler of note, ends the year with an approval rating that’s on the up.

Yes, he’s jumped from a low of 43% in February to a mind-boggling high of 49% in November. Wow! Probably a major achievement, considering the coterie of perennial under-achievers he has picked to surround himself with. But, if you look at it year-on-year, he dropped from all-time high of 58% in 2009. Talk about setting the bar low! If he manages more than 40% next year, it will indeed be a miracle, perhaps one his friends in the religious community can boast about.

Seems like pay-back time is fast approaching…

“I would have freed more people had they known they were slaves.”

It’s perhaps a variation of what she really said, but this quote is attributed to Harriet Tubman, an African-American (Negro) slave who is credited with freeing many other slaves, after escaping to freedom herself in America during the late 1800’s.

I confess I would not have known who this remarkable women was, had the quote not appeared on a friend’s Facebook status update. You can Google Harriet yourself; her life story is quite fascinating. Although it is more widely applicable, right now I’m more concerned about the relevance of the quote, in the South African context.

Some honest questions:

  • Are you aware that you may be a slave to ideology? Are you aware that the ideology may not necessarily be yours, but “borrowed” or “suggested” by someone else?
  • You may think you are free from one form of political tyranny (Apartheid), but are you sure you have not become the unwitting victim of another (faux-Democracy)?
  • Are you aware of how ignorance, though not necessarily off your own volition, can enslave you?
  • Are you going to die wondering?

An honest request:

  • What the hell are you going to do about it?

Classic PZ Myers response to a Christian correspondent…hilarious

I just couldn’t resist lifing the entire blog about PZ Myers’ response to a Christian correspondent on his website Pharyngula. [PZ’s response in red font, of course]:

Time for another stream-of-consciousness response to yet another slimy Christian.

Interesting blog

But I beg for just a few moments of your time. You are obviously an intelligent individual, considering you’re a prof and all [Flattery alert: diverting warp power to shields. I can guess how this will end up], but consider this for one second. Could our few years on this planet be all that there is? [Yes.] You are born, live, then die and that’s it? [That’s what I said. Yes.] All of you loved ones that have died are no more? [What? It’s not enough to have lived and to have loved ones? These guys are always belittling their lives and families.]

There is a lot of evidence of paranormal activity[No, actually, there isn’t] , how is that explained? [Wishful thinking, selective memory, gullibility. Easy.] The vast majority of people believe in a God [So? You don’t get to vote on what reality exists], and many believe Jesus has died for their passage into heaven [And many believe that Mohammed was God’s prophet, and that praying to Ganesh will remove obstacles from their lives. Do you?]. Are all of these people (myself included, and I am a very well educated individual and deep thinker if I do say so myself [I don’t believe you.]) delusional or weak minded or worse because the have faith? [Yes. Or lazy, or guilt-ridden and brain-washed, or fearful] If you look at the world and see how everything fits so perfectly together I don’t understand [Those three words are actually the whole of your argument] how anyone can NOT see that there is “intelligent design” behind the creation of everything [Hey, it’s easy…because there is no evidence for creation, but plenty for evolution]. My background is also in biology and the life sciences. I went to Kent State University [Kent State grads everywhere are groaning at the association], then graduated at The Ohio State University [Ditto Ohio State] with a degree in Allied Medicine. [That’s nice. Are we playing Trump That Degree?] For a few years while I was “becoming smart” [I think you were deceived] I too began to question the existence of a God. I was deceived [like I said] into thinking [I’m pretty sure you weren’t doing that] there really was no need for any supernatural force for everything to be [I peeked ahead. You never bother to tell us anything that requires a supernatural force]. But then I looked how everything just worked. Take the krebs cycle. One of hundres of thousands of different processes that occur in the body. Every step has to happen perfectly. [No it doesn’t. Cellular processes are stochastic, driven by thermodynamics. Did you learn nothing about biochemistry?] Every substrate has to perfectly fit it’s particular enzyme [Wow. So there must be only One True phosphoglycerate mutase out there then. Have you noticed that there is sequence variation in these enzymes in different species?]. That 1 process, you’re trying to tell me, just came about because of chance? [No. That’s a very tired creationist canard. Evolution is about chance modulated by selection, a non-chance process] I really don’t think so. I can go on and on with different examples but that would be pointless because you know exactly what I’m talking about. [Actually, I know exactly that you don’t know what you are talking about.]

Not to get all evangelical [brace yourselves, everyone, he’s going to get evangelical] on you or anything, but this is the conclusion I came to. Science is a wonderful thing. It’s provided us everything from shelter from the elements to cures for dreaded diseases to the exploration of our universe, but science and our ability to think on that level is a tool from God to help us cope on our planet [Data not shown]. Now, this is where I may lose you [No worries, you lost me in the first paragraph], Satan [Oh boy, here it comes] (and he does exist [Just like Spiderman and Santa Claus!]) has taken the tool of science and perverted into HIS tool [Reason: Satan’s tool.] to deceive man into thinking there is no need for a God for all this to be. Satan HATES you [How do you know? Talked to him lately? For all you know, Satan might think I’m a really cool guy] because you are a creation of God [Wait…wouldn’t Satan also be a creation of god?] and he wants nothing more than to torment you in hell for all of eternity [And god, of course, has nothing to say about this. I rather suspect that if they existed, Satan is nothing but a stalking horse for that evil psycho, the Christian god].

I’m sure I haven’t convinced you of anything [Nope]. But in quite moment just think about an eternity of torment [Nah, not interested. That’s more your thing. You seem to enjoy dwelling on other people’s suffering]. At the moment of your death when you feel the tug of demons trying to take you down [That won’t be demons. Probably heart failure], at that point it’ll be too late. Google [Our modern prophet] near death experiences [I’ve read about them. None are convincing] and listen or read the horrors of people who have tasted hell [Most of the people I’ve heard who’ve tasted hell have done so in this life, and blame fundie nutcases like you for causing it] and then continue to write your blog and doom other atheists to an eternity of torment [Damn, man, you started off all chipper and cheerful, and this is where you end up, grinning like a maniac while you wag a finger and gloat over everyone else’s dismal fate?]you will have to answer for all the souls you’ve convinced there is no God [Should I ask Satan for a commission?].

I just wanted to share that. Have a great day! [Seriously? You just sent off a rant telling me I’ll burn in hell for all eternity, and, by the way, you think I should have a nice day? Somehow, I don’t think you’re at all sincere. But then, you are a Christian, and that’s what I’ve come to expect.]

NJ C [And you didn’t even bother to leave your name, you brave missionary]

Keep your dogmas chained

Just about a week ago I blogged about NASA’s announcement concerning a scientific study that revealed how a bacterium survives using arsenic instead of phosphorus in developing cell components.

Well, it seems that the announcement and publication of the finding in the peer-reviewed publication Science, has created quite a storm for the following reasons:

  • First and foremost, rival scientist claims that the study was flawed and should not have been published
  • The role of NASA in creating a sea of hype prior to the announcement and supposedly steering speculation about the study in the direction of extraterrestrial life
  • The peripheral question about how a distinguished scientific journal allowed a supposedly flawed study to be published

When I wrote the blog, I took care to steer away from the hype about extraterrestrial life, except only to point out that life as we have become accustomed to it, may in fact be quite different given different environmental conditions. And so the study seemed to confirm, but scientists have been telling us this for years, so it was nothing really new. So while this latest finding may not in fact add another nail to the creationist coffin, it certainly doesn’t have to; that coffin has long been buried and is at a stage of advanced decomposition.

The thing about science is that it is not dogmatic, unlike religious claims. Peer review serves the purpose of pointing out errors in scientific claims and then substantiating any counter-claim. That’s the beauty of the scientific method; scientists abandon their claims when new evidence to the contrary is presented. And in this regard, the author of the Arsenic study released by NASA, Felisa Wolfe-Simon did responded by accepting the criticism of her findings thus:

My research team and I are aware that our peer-reviewed Science article has generated some technical questions and challenges from within the scientific community. Questions raised so far have been consistent with the range of issues outlined by journalist Elizabeth Pennisi in her Science news article, which was published along with our research. For instance, other scientists have asked whether the bacteria had truly incorporated arsenic into their DNA, and whether the microbes had completely stopped consuming phosphorus. Our manuscript was thoroughly reviewed and accepted for publication by Science; we presented our data and results and drew our conclusions based on what we showed. But we welcome lively debate since we recognize that scholarly discourse moves science forward. We’ve been concerned that some conclusions have been drawn based on claims not made in our paper. In response, it’s our understanding that Science is in the process of making our article freely available to the public for the next two weeks to ensure that all researchers have full access to the findings. We invite others to read the paper and submit any responses to Science for review so that we can officially respond. Meanwhile, we are preparing a list of “frequently asked questions” to help promote general understanding of our work.

That’s the way things are done in the real scientific world, not the pseudoscientific one. It’s now up to Felisa’s detractors to prove her wrong, or at least prove that the flaws they refer to are really flaws. And off course she will have the opportunity to respond.

The role of NASA in all of this is reminiscent of how the clergy and their predecessors (shamans etc.) twisted and panel-beated man’s superstitious beliefs into organised religion, to support their political ambitions for dominion. Admittedly, as much as I admire NASA, there seems to be some truth in the claims that they used (abused?) this young female scientist and her research, to promote their own need for funding, and continuation of the space programme.

I can’t really find too much wrong with the last concern raised by this whole saga which concerns the journal Science’s eagerness to publish. Publication is necessary for the spreading of ideas, counter-ideas and information about who is contemplating what scientifically and why. It makes science grow.

However, I cannot wish that the study that was released BY NASA turns out to be true because it would confirm one of my beliefs. Unlike the religious world, science does not permit one to wish something into being because it would make one more comfortable or less fearful.

And here I was thinking that he’d paid too much for that medal…

Earlier this week, our Pres, il Fornicator, received a medal of honor from the Cubans, and reciprocated by announcing an aid package to the tune of R210 million.

I remember thinking at the time that he’d paid far too much for another piece of metal to add to his dictator-in-the-making tunic. You know how these despotic turds all over the world love showing off their collection of dubious medals on a military uniform at every grandstanding occasion, public and private?

Well, it turns out today, that the medal has cost South much much more – he’s now decided that in addition to the R210 million, he’s going to write off R1.1 billion in debt too. Now, I’m convinced that he’s lost all his marbles; and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t have too many marbles to start off with! WTF is this wastrel doing? I can remember a time not too long ago, when he told the citizens of this country that there wasn’t enough money available to provide the services that his less-than-useless government have been promising for more than 15 years.

To add insult to injury, the strike-it-lucky South African Trade Union NUMSA, are calling the aid package, R100 million of which is for the purchase of South African goods, a “revolutionary gesture.” Huh? That is just brilliant! It’s so brilliant, it has obviously blinded everyone who does business, and probably why it is not used more often as a sales tactic.

Now why don’t Mercedes-Benz or Lexus try it? Come on guys, be revolutionary; give me the money to buy your oh-so-beautiful cars!!! Or better still, why not sell a car to me on credit, and then write it off; I’ll give ya the nicest medal money can buy, even throw in the tunic!!!