Quackery Alert

I have the coolest Facebook friends. They’re always finding handy stuff on the Internet; stuff that helps us separate fact from fiction, science from pseudoscience, quality from quackery, truth from lies. Here’s the latest from Science.Org on Red Flags of Quackery:

And as Maki says: Be safe, be skeptical.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Having read Good Omens, Gaiman’s collaboration with Terry Pratchett, I certainly did look forward to reading one of his solo works. But like Good Omens, I felt unsatisfied at the end because it all worked out rather too neat.

Hang on to that thought because we’ll come back to it later…

The plot revolves around the likeable ex-con Shadow, fresh out of prison, who allows himself to be drafted into service as a bodyguard of sorts to an ageing con-man Mr. Wednesday, who later reveals himself to be Odin, a God of the Norse pantheon. The unlikely duo travel across America attempting to enlist the aid of various other mythological Gods, who we learn have been brought over to America [through the act of belief] from the old countries by an assortment of immigrants. The recruitment drive is to create a force to participate in an impending battle with the New Gods represented by modern technology, the media, celebrities etcetera.

Along the way we meet crotchety characters such Czernobog and Mama Ji who is the Indian God Kali, and rather likeable Gods such as Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel representing the Gods Thoth and Anubis respectively. But there are other in-between Gods such as Easter (Eostre) and Mr. Nancy (Ananzi), and the supposed bad guys representing the New Gods with names like Mr. Town and Mr. World, who is also the known as Low-Key Lyesmith, otherwise known as Loki.

The human characters along the way do not play significant parts in the plot except for Shadows’ dead wife [yes, dead wife], Sam Black Crow and girl he meets while driving across the States and Chad Mulligan, a police officer in a small town which features prominently in te book.

Not wanting to give away too much about the myriad twists and turns and the special reltionships between the various characters, both Gods and humans alike, I’m going to leave it at that. But I now go back to the ending which I mentioned earlier.

I would have liked to see a messy ending, where either the Old Gods get their asses kicked, or even the New Gods. But Gaiman decided to let Shadow intervene between the warring sides and end the battle peacefully, with hardly any casualties. Maybe he was trying to tell us that the Old Gods can live side by side with the New. Or that the Old Gods are so inbuilt into our psyche’s that they will stay there for a very long time, if not forever. Or that the New Gods can’t be killed as they are the future.

However you look at it, it’s a compromise we’ll have to live with…

At the time of writing this review, HBO is developing a TV series of the book for airing some time around 2013, with Tom Hanks producing. It’s something to look forward to.

Spotted any dick lately?

The Zuma dick painting saga continues. Seems that our president is not the only dick in South Africa, as two idiots are caught defacing the artwork by Brett Murray…

South Africa post-apartheid

South Africa post-democracy

Freshly Played #6: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Simple Man

 

Remember when lyrics were simple and music was fresh and honest? We used to think that we were simple men, but it turned out that we were complicated as hell, usually unnecessarily so?

Lyrics

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day

Oh, take your time don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
Go find a woman you’ll find love
And don’t forget son there is someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can? Oh yes, I will

Boy, don’t you worry you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can?

Baby be a simple, be a simple man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man

Zuma’s zizi

I’m pretty certain that news of the well hung painting in the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg by artist Brett Murray of President Jacob Zuma, is spreading like wildfire and causing great consternation and anger in certain circles.

Well that’s to be expected, but beyond the issue of freedom of speech which this whole episode has evoked [yet again], is the deep-seated anger that resides in an artist who was inspired to depict the President in a manner that is shocking, but yet speaks of an alarming truth about the political nature and moral character of the man, that many South Africans share.

Art is meant to elicit strong emotional responses; shock being a prized reaction. This particular work titled The Spear very effectively portrays the foreboding that is playing on the minds of many disgruntled South Africans at the moment.

Opinion is divided on this issue, with liberals generally agreeing that it should stay hung, citing freedom of speech as the determinant, to genuine Zuma-haters buzzing with absolute glee [and who could blame them] and the conservative types expressing shock and disgust. I imagine that there are some who are unsure about this one, but nobody takes fence-sitters seriously. By and large freedom of speech is winning.

However one of government’s spin doctors waxed disingenuously about rights and dignity and other claptrap, saying that the painting:

…perpetuates a shocking new culture by some sections of the artistic world, of using vulgar methods of communicating about leading figures in the country, including especially the president.

But Mac Maharaj, who’s been known to lose his foot in his mouth on more than a few occasions, is clearly forgetting the shocking culture of rampant corruption, incompetence, arrogance and bigotry that his government, represented by Jacob Zuma, perpetuates with gay abandon since coming into power.

Yes Mac, we hear you, but please go hang yourself next to the painting of your master.

zizi, French for penis.

For whom the tolls swindles

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main...
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee
- John Donne

We were at peace for a while. The furore surrounding the intention by government to enforce e-tollling had died down when the courts slapped an interdict on the contemptible scheme. A divided nation had been united on a common issue for a precious period of time.

A population already buckling under the cost of living were contemplating how to use the money they had been forced to budget for, in other more useful ways. And then it came…

The crooks in government woke up to the reality of losing a very lucrative source of funding to sustain their corrupt and ostentatious lifestyles. They decided to fight the interdict; they decided to push ahead with their vile plot to make the taxpayer their bitches.They had only dallied long enough to fire the pathetic stooge who headed the organization tasked to implement this massive swindle, for failing to threaten the population into submission.

They have chosen a path of confrontation which they will regret. Fascism will not be tolerated. They will learn for whom the bells toll…

He’s White and he’s right

Afrikaans: Vlaggedrappeerde vektorkaart, Suid-...

Wikipedia

This is South Africa, post-apartheid… 18 years to be precise. It’s come to this. No, no, no. Actually it’s been like this for 18 years.

Whenever a White person speaks out against the Black government, about the sad state of the nation, the sad state of democracy, they’re labelled whiners, or worse, apartheid denialists and racists. Sometimes you’d hear the popular refrain “White is not right.” When a Black person does the same thing, they’re labelled coconuts, traitors and worse things besides.

I speak out as often as I can; not always expressing myself with the same finesse as newspaper columnist William Saunderson-Meyer. But he’s one of those who are White and right. Truth has no colour…

No skaam. The dire state of an increasingly brazen SA

South Africa is in a dire state. Incompetence and irresponsibility are rife. Bad behaviour is the norm and few dare challenge it, which contributes to the undermining of democracy.

No, that’s not opposition Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, on song. Boiled down, that’s the view of Auditor-General Terence Nombombe. He was this week lamenting the collapse of the public service at every level, from municipal to national, saying that the government’s lack of support for his office was making it irrelevant.

His concerns echo those of the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. She speaks of how the ‘silent thief’ of corruption has stolen the constitutional dream and how the secrecy Bill would derail her constitutionally mandated role.

As a nation, we should blush at the hash we are making of freedom. Unfortunately, South Africans are not big on embarrassment. Our instinct is to brazen it out.

The popular phrase, ‘S/he has no skaam‘ — one of those subtle Afrikaans words that encompasses being abashed, humbled and ashamed, even humiliated, but also penitent — should be emblazoned on the country’s coat-of-arms. In Khoisan, of course, so that not too many understand it. No one wants their nose rubbed in the national affliction.

Read the rest of this brilliant article here. It’s the right thing to do.

Mothers Day – A history

Tomorrow, the 13th of May will usher in the celebration of Mothers Day in many countries around the world. But how many of us know the history behind this cherished day?

The YouTube video further below provides a latter-day history of the origins of Mothers Day as conceptualized by the American Julia Ward Howe. However the celebration of motherhood has a long history rooted in antiquity.

Early man worshipped Goddesses and deities as symbols of motherhood. The ancient Egyptians worshipped Isis who they regarded as the Mother of the Pharaohs. The early Romans worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele, who derived from the Greek goddess Rhea, Mother of the Greek deity Zeus. Other societies honoured Gaia the Earth Goddess.

Early Christians honoured the Church by referring to it as Mother Church. Later, Europeans celebrated Mothering Day during Lent. Mothers Day as we know it, started with Julia Ward Howe around 1870. This video provides a brief history of her and many other magnificent women since. [Follow this link for more history]

I cannot be with my mother this year; she’s many miles away, but my thoughts will be with her as always. I hope you enjoyed that little blast from the past. Now, please have a happy Mothers Day, hopefully close to your mother.

A natural but reluctant progression…

Found this on Facebook and couldn’t resist sharing…

And just for fun…

And just in case you think the GIF implies that man evolved from chimps – it does not. Man and chimp shared a common ancestor dating back around 7 million years ago.