Freshly Played #13: The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Patrick Watson

I first heard it on some television commercial. I don’t remember the product, but the song lived in the recesses of my mind until I discovered it again when it featured in a Neil deGrasse Tyson YouTube video The Most Astounding Fact.

Far from being melancholy, I find it very uplifting. The lyrics further below are deeply poetic and lends itself to all sorts of interpretations.

To Build A Home

***

Lyrics

There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home

‘Cause, I built a home
For you
For me

Until it disappeared
From me
From you

And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust

Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the color of green
Ground had arose and passed it’s knees

By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me

‘Cause, I built a home
For you
For me

Until it disappeared
From me
From you

And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust

PS: There’s a live version with Patrick Watson on piano here.

This is South Africa, still untamed in some ways…

I’ve often been amused by Westerner’s who come to South Africa expecting to see wild animals wandering in the streets of Johannesburg.

While these travellers may be disappointed in not spotting any game for free, they’re more than happy to fork out a small fortune (in South African Rands at least) to go on the obligatory game drive, where they might also be treated to some tribal dancing, at the more upmarket private wildlife reserves. And If the local beer isn’t enough to satiate the more bloodthirsty among them, some sleaze ball ranches offer canned hunting…

But I digress.

One thing that the traveller is sure to find alive and well, is the practice of archaic cultural traditions, by all races. Our very own President, Jacob Zuma is a principal practitioner. He’s in it deep – keeping multiple wives, war dances, ancestor worship, promoting tribal and bush justice and maintaining a traditional living compound, allegedly at taxpayers expense; more that R200 million worth of posh huts with underground bunkers and electric lifts.

It’s actually inexplicable why someone so traditional, is also so comfortable living the bling Western lifestyle… also at taxpayers expense off course. No different though, than the South African Communist Party (SACP) leadership who exult in the pleasures of capitalism, whilst regurgitating communist, socialist bullshit to anyone stupid enough to listen. Some say it’s a culture of entitlement; spreading much like a disease. If it is, it’s highly likely entitlement will be one of the last remaining diseases to be eradicated from the African continent.

In one such ceremony yesterday, President Zuma slaughtered cattle, danced and appealed to his dead ancestors to “guide and protect him” apparently against those who were “ganging up against him,” while he seeks to maintain his unholy grip on power. Truly bizarre if you consider he belongs to the Full Gospel Church of Southern Africa. I guess if one is religious, it doesn’t hurt to cover as many bases as possible.

However just in case the spirits of your ancestors are otherwise engaged, it doesn’t hurt to hedge your appeals with a little vote-buying while on the campaign trail, as alleged here. If true, these allegations prove that the President is undoubtedly traditional all right – a traditional scoundrel.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I found Ender’s Game listed in a Top 100 Books list somewhere, but can’t recall which one in particular. The decision to read it, I recall, was therefore made for me when I saw the other great books it was listed with. And I’m not really a fan of the science fiction genre, preferring science fact instead.

Off the bat, I found it quite disconcerting to read with the main protagonist, a boy of about six, speaking with the maturity normally associated with a fairly well-educated adult. Even if one was expected to accept that Ender Wiggin was a highly gifted child, it does stretch science fiction a bit far. However, I did find his sister Valentine, presented as of similar brilliance to Ender, to be more pragmatic in her premature maturity.

The Plot

In the future, Earth having survived two wars with the Formics, an alien species more colloquially referred to as The Buggers (even by the adults, which was also disconcerting), are preparing to fight a defining war with them. To this end, the earth under the leadership of The Polemarch, The Hegemon and Strategos create an International Fleet to fight the Buggers. They recruit young gifted children to undergo training initially in the Battle School which is in earth’s orbit, and later in Command School, where only the most talented strategists pass through.

Ender is groomed, conditioned, manipulated and dare I say, brainwashed under the tutelage of Commander Hyrum Graff, to become the only hope for the forces of Earth, in defeating the aliens.

His manipulation is made complete when he is tricked into eventually defeating the aliens while under the impression that the battle was the final simulation at Command School to effect his graduation.

Conclusion

While the novel is often violent, it is not overly so as some have described it in their criticism. The premise upon which the book is based is very interesting, but I did not find it appealing, nor particularly riveting. I also do enjoy a bit of humour and this book had little or none of that. I also have to admit that finding out Orson Scott Card was a Mormon, may have tainted my liking for his work, but I believe there was more reasons besides.

A film version of the book is currently in production, and I have no doubt it will be made much more violent than the book actually is. Still it may be worth watching just to see how faithful the makers stay to the book, what with Scott Card being involved in the production.

I am therefore going to give the sequels a miss unless someone can give me a very convincing reason to read any of them.

Break The Chain – In Support of One Billion Rising

Today I became part of the revolution of women and men who will WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence against women and girls on 14 February 2013.

ONE BILLION RISING is a global call to women and men across the planet to gather in their communities to dance and demand an end to violence against women and girls.

Will you join me? Sign up here: One Billion Rising

Thanks. Now enjoy the anthem for One Billion Rising, Break The Chain:

Our Commie nutters

The South African Communist Party (SACP) lost all relevance a long time ago. Whatever their contribution to the downfall of apartheid, it is arguably purely of academic value today; their only leaders of note also passed on like that curse that once stained the history of this country.

The SACP of today are communist in name only. Oh, sure they rant and mutter about socialist bullshit, but they’re all filthy liars who indulge with pleasure on the fruits of capitalism. If they were left to stand on their own feet, they would wither and die, and stink up the place even more than they do now. Which is why they cling so desperately to the unholy union with the ANC, another organisation which is now totally bereft of all its humanist credentials of the past.

One might be tempted to view their relationship with the ANC as parasitic, but that’s mostly not the case. Picture two drunken louts staggering around together, locked in shoulder embrace, and you’re closer to the truth. They actually compliment each other in the vilest possible ways.

From time to time, SACP spokesnutters feel obliged to remind the people (or more accurately, the unwashed masses) of their presence in society, as an organisation and an alliance partner of the ANC, by uttering or demanding (more often demanding) something so utterly stupid, that it leaves people cringing. However, cringing usually turns to fits of laughter, when it brings relief and a distraction from the horror of yet another truly offensive act from the ANC, which occurs with frightening frequency.

Their latest call is one worthy of some kind of award. These nutters are now demanding that legislation be enacted to protect the dignity of the South African President. If anything, legislation is sorely required to have our President hanged by his testicles, and left dangling for the rest of his miserable life, over the stinkiest long-drop in existence. And while we’re at it, all communist neanderthals should be made to suffer the same fate.

The journey to unbelief, revisited

I spent some time last night going through a manuscript on atheism and unbelief, sent to me by a work colleague. Reading through it reminded me of my own personal journey from credulity to skepticism.

I could see the same mistakes in the manuscript that I had made when I first ventured out into the world of unbelief, trying to make sense of this bewildering, yet deliciously liberated frame of mind… no being. It was like deja vu.

I remember grabbing eagerly at any book I could find, any resource that would explain this new world to me. And most of the time I was led astray by utter nonsense. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. From the cunningly sublime, to the outrageously ridiculous. There’s all kinds – from conspiracy theorists to pushers of woo of every hue.

It is amazingly easy to be lulled into accepting bullshit, because it is comforting. Yes, bullshit is comforting. Which is probably why the world is full of it. Generally people want to be comforted. Who can blame them? Being or feeling challenged is not a natural desire.

This is for my colleague. I hope you are reading this. DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING YOU READ OR HEAR. EVEN YOUR EYES MAY DECEIVE YOU. DOUBT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND…

Our Pathetic, Pissant President and his Party Pimps

No, that’s not the headlines you’ll be reading tomorrow if by some cruel twist of fate, Mitt Romney wins the US Presidential elections. No, even if that contemptible Republican weasel, wins, the American press and the people will accept him with open arms.

Strange yes, but that’s the Americans for ya.

I’m actually talking about Jacob Ged-like-you-know-his-name Zuma, the South African version of a George W Bush on ‘shrooms. I vouch that not even Georgie B on his worst day, could ever sink to the despicably deprived depths of Jacob Zuma. Just when you think he’s scraped the bottom of the barrel, he confounds everyone with masterful ease by scraping right through the bottom, to the foot of Satan’s long-drop.

This patriarchal parasite and his pompous henchmen stumble from one scandal to the next, while still holding the ignorant masses in awe of their dastardly deeds, with simple tools like the race card. And by carefully orchestrating the exhumation of apartheid and keeping it on a leash, these scoundrels have a handy hound to beat whenever they’re shown up for their incompetence, greed and lascivious behaviour.

But let’s not forget the President’s official spokes-stooge, Quarter-Pounder Maharaj. He reminds one of a dinosaur whenever he whines on behalf of the President.¬† He deserves to have a species named for him because of the pre-historic, mind-numbingly stupid, and suck-ass comments he makes. How about Stooge-O-Saurus-Rex?

But back to the President. In a short space of time he’s become the laughing-stock of the world. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that decent people around the world still love this beautiful country in spite of this clown and his African Neutered Circus, an organization known in more honourable times as the African National Congress.

It is almost  certain that history will remember Zuma as the worst President that South Africa ever had, eclipsing even the vilest apartheid-era politicians.

Unbelievably, none of this seems to trouble our President. More honourable people would have crawled back under a rock, under these circumstances, but our President continues to rock the needle of the disdain-o-meter, off the charts.

Freshly Played #12: Ravi Shankar

I don’t know what it is about string instruments that mesmerize me so. The rousing strains of guitar music usually are enough to leave me in fits of ecstasy.

However, sometimes one needs to hear something more soothing. When I’m in this disposition, violins usually do the trick, but there is another instrument originating in the East which looks quite unwieldy, but produces the most orgasmic melodies imaginable – the Sitar.

When it comes to the Sitar, there is no better exponent of its power to tease the senses, than Ravi Shankar. I have chosen this video of a set he performed in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, during what is regarded as the precursor to Live Aid benefit concerts – The Concert for Bangladesh. The concert was organised by George Harrison of The Beatles, in conjunction with Shankar.

Shankar is accompanied by Ali Akbar Khan, a well-known master of Indian music, on another beautiful string instrument, the Sarod.