To err is human, but to obfuscate is divine…

I readily admit that I rant a lot about the wrongdoings of government and politicians, but lately I’ve been wondering if it is actually achieving anything. I’ve come to realise that the more you denigrate these people, the more it tends to make them retreat into that comfortable shell of denial and obfuscation.

Let’s face it, politicians are generally slimy scumbags. There are probably a few honest politicians somewhere… like on another galaxy maybe.

The way I see it, the problem we have is that when we criticize these slime balls, we tend to speak on behalf of the many who are wronged by their actions, but either don’t have the cojones to speak out, or do anything about it, or can’t be bothered. And let’s not forget that there are always a few who are advantaged (at the expense of the many, off course) by their nefarious activities, because where there are politicians, there’s always cronies. Shit always attracts flies…

I often come across critics who ask this question of government (the politicians): “Do they honestly believe that we are that gullible or stupid?” The simple answer is “Yes, they do.” Because the numbers that continue to return them to power at the voting polls speaks volumes about our apathy, ignorance, fears, and yes, gullibility and stupidity.

Mocking and incensed dissonance is well and good. It’s nice to blow off some steam. But we need to understand that it is ineffectual in the end. Our real (and probably only law-abiding) power lies in tossing these bastards out at elections.

Freshly Played #15: Songs From The Movies

Today I thought I would share with you two songs from the movies which have not only made an impression on me cerebrally, but always puts a smile (smirk) on my face.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, from Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life was written by Eric Idle and sung by him in the film while strung up on a cross, just prior to the closing credits.

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So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish is featured in the opening titles of the film sung by Hilary Summers, Kemi Ominiyi and The R’SVP Voices, to a Joby Talbot soundtrack. A reprise version is also available on the movie soundtrack with vocals by Neil Hannon.

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In truth, I like these songs so much because they provide irreverent commentary on man’s feeble belief systems. So come on now, give a whistle.

Education continues to take a back seat in South Africa

educationNot so long ago the liberation forces in South Africa entrenched the idea that the people should forgo their education in favour of fighting for freedom from the yoke of apartheid. Slogans such as “liberation before education” were common in the townships where the majority of South Africans were confined to live.

It was perhaps not the wisest of decisions because it burdened the country with a whole generation of people not quite ready for the demands of a free and democratic society. Leaders such as Nelson Mandela realised that education was a necessity to ensure a stable and prosperous democracy, but sadly that seems to fallen by the wayside as our current leaders embrace immorality and avarice as a means to an end.

It is hard to not notice how standards in education have fallen year on year, and while the people complain, the leaders just thumb their noses at us in response. The choice of Angie Motshekga as Basic Education Minister by President Jacob Zuma, was just another in a series of atrocious decisions by him. Choosing Blade Nzimande as Minister of Higher Education was no less abominable. When Angie does not bury her head in the sand in the face of warranted criticism, she has it jammed firmly up her backside. Blade on the other hand spends more time regurgitating obsolete revolutionary rhetoric, than doing anything worth mentioning for education.

The choice of these two incompetent wastrels, is a clear indication that the ANC government is not serious about taking education forward. Indeed, they seem to neither have the faintest idea how to accomplish this, nor the inclination to at least try.

Meanwhile the penchant to denigrate western standards of education by some apologists of Zuma and the government, don’t help matters at all. This writer believes that spending time behind a classroom desk should not be the only option available to learners. He seems to think that “…gathering plants for food, hunting wild animals, rearing cattle, planting crops, running initiation schools, slaughtering cattle or goats for ancestral rituals, paying tribute to kings, attending traditional courts, even engaging in war,” constitutes a viable alternative.

South Africa is headed for serious calamity in the near future if something drastic is not done to advance the cause for education. It’s a great pity then, that our current crop of leaders seem to favour majority rule as a means to change the world.

The Unfathomable Lightness of Being… the Creator, or, The Mosquito

Last night I lay in bed in the darkness, a mosquito incessantly buzzing around somewhere over my head.

I asked myself why the mosquito doesn’t get on with biting me silently and just fuck off somewhere else. Instead it needs to first torment me by buzzing around, leaving me wondering when it is going to strike.

Now that kind of behaviour is just plain malicious.

If you look at the other things that bug me, like rats, cockroaches and politicians, then I have to conclude that either the Creator has a really twisted mind, or that Creationism can’t possibly be true…

Freshly Played #14: The Guess Who

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic this week, so here’s one all the way back from 1969. These Eyes was written by guitarist Randy Bachman who later went on to found Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and lead singer Burton Cummings who I remember best for Break It To Them Gently.

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Feel proud Canucks; they’re one of your’s…

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

DodgerI completed reading the book in December but have been contemplating how to review it ever since. Pratchett describes it as a work of historical fantasy in his end notes, and I guess that’s about as fitting a depiction as you’re ever likely to hear.

Dodger is a 17-year-old scallywag in Victorian era London who mucks about in the sewers looking for coins, jewellery or anything else that manages to find its way there. We learn that those who earn a living in this fashion are known affectionately as toshers.

The Plot

Dodger rises up from the sewers one stormy night and rescues a young girl known as Simplicity, who was being brutalized by a few thugs, while running away to escape from a loveless marriage to a foreign nobleman. And so follows a sequence of improbable events that sees the rise of Dodger from humble toshing to well-off gentleman, even being honoured by the Queen.

While spending all his time using his various street-wise skills to protect Simplicity from the thugs hired by husband to retrieve her, Dodger meets and befriends an assortment of historical characters such as the Charles Dickens, Henry Mayhew, Benjamin Disraeli, Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts and Sir Robert Peel. For good measure, Pratchett also throws in an encounter with the famous fictional barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd.

This is not your usual Terry Pratchett novel, but is thoroughly enjoyable and humorous to boot. Pratchett continues to impress me.

Quotable Quotes

“The pawnshop was where you took your tools if you were out of work, and where you bought them back again when you were back in the job, because it’s easier to eat bread than to eat hammers.”

“…there are two ways of looking at the world, but only one when you are starving.”

“He really wanted a sign. There ought to be signs, and if there was a sign, there should be a sign on it to show that is was a sign so that you definitely knew it was a sign.”

“True, it was a lot of money for something that he really didn’t need, but it was the principle of the thing. He didn’t know exactly what the principle was, but it was a principle and it had a thing, and that was that.”

New Year already tainted by religious madness

We’re barely into the second week of 2013 and already people who are inspired by religion (men usually) are showing how utterly insane it all is.

A mayor from Aceh, Indonesia is proposing a ban on women straddling bicycles and motorcycles when riding pillion. The idiot from Lhokseumawe by the name of Suaidi Yahya believes that it will save [*cough] the virtue of women and prevent them from breaking Islamic Sharia law [*grrrrrr]. This asshole still thinks that woman are “delicate creatures,” and require protection from the men, religious one’s off course.

In 2009, the neanderthals from Aceh also banned woman from wearing jeans and tight trousers. What a bunch of silly tossers, defending archaic religious laws pulled out their ass by other silly tossers.

Staying on this silly side of the world, another religiously inspired cretin, a self-styled Indian guru from India caused an uproar when he made a statement partly blaming the young female student who was gang-raped, for the atrocious incident. The imbecilic guru who goes by the name of Bapu, believes that the drunken bastards who raped this woman, would not have gone through with it, if the woman had begged for mercy and pleaded with god [*Bapu’s personal flavour of god no doubt] for help.

If that is not the most patriarchal, misogynist, religiously vile claptrap I have ever heard, I don’t know what is. Bapu should be put on trial with rest of the male scum who perpetrated this vile act on the woman, who eventually succumbed to the horrendous wounds she received.

And while the murderous madness involving religious groups continues in Africa with the Malian Ansar Dine, the Nigerian Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and Ansar al-Sharia of Somalia, there was a faint glimmer of hope from Cameroon, with the release of two men who spent a year in jail after being convicted of homosexuality. Apparently they were convicted on appalling evidence: they were seen wearing women’s clothes and make-up.

Yeah, only someone inspired by antiquated religious texts could condemn another human being for something so utterly trivial.

I wonder what these pious prats have in store for us for the rest of the year.

My heathen Christmas

The holidays have come and gone so quickly. My annual journey to visit family is over and so it’s time to reflect on one of the highlights – my first European Christmas.

I was invited by my cousin’s Danish fiancé Klavs, to spend Christmas at their home in Durban – well Christmas eve to be more conventional. Danes celebrate on 24 December what is known as Juleaften, which literally means “Yule evening.” This pagan tradition was incorporated into Christianity centuries ago by the Germanic Peoples of Europe.

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We had roast pork, duck, caramelised potatoes, red cabbage and gravy for dinner. For dessert we had rice pudding with chopped almonds. All exactly as the Danes would have back home. The rice pudding even contained a whole almond which someone is supposed to find in his or her bowl, and be rewarded with a present. All very Danish…

After dinner Santa showed up (a friend of Klavs, and known as the Julemanden in Danish) to give the kids some presents. Santa in the Danish tradition may have absorbed some elements of the god Odin who is associated with the pagan festival of Yule. Amusingly, Santa’s left knee took a bit of a pounding from the kids – all four of them.

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Later we lit up the raisin sprinkled Christmas tree with real candles, not the schmaltzy electric flashing lights you see so often these days, placed many wrapped presents underneath, and danced around it in a circle hands joined, while Klavs sung some traditional Danish songs which sounded rather jolly. But there were no hymns and carols and not so much as a peep about Jesus and all that other Christianny stuff. All delightfully heathen, as it should be.

I did score some presents myself, but was rather mortified that I did not get anyone else anything in return. But I was just expecting dinner, nothing so magnificent as this. Off course there is next year and perhaps I’ll even learn a Danish song…