Earth 2.0

Scorpius, the next potential frontier. These are the musings of a skeptical blogger. My lifetime mission: to find out if our scientists are onto something while exploring new worlds before either man or the sun totally destroys our planet, to boldly go wherever…

Okay, enough kidding around and apologies to Captain Kirk and Star Trek. On a serious note, a team of astronomers have discovered at least three potentially habitable planets orbiting around a sun known as Gliese 667C in the constellation Scorpius.This system is about 22 light years away from earth.

To put that in context, one light year is equivalent to 9460730472580.8 kilometers. That’s a pretty long number. And it would take many thousands of years to get there, travelling at our current best speeds.

So why are we ploughing resources, time and money bothering about something so far away, which we could never possibly reach… at the moment?

It’s simple. The earth is not going to be around forever. I have news for those of you who believe that the earth was created by some super-duper, infallible being: accept that his or her or its’ creation is screwed up. We need to hop off this rock at some stage and find somewhere new to continue the human species. And assuming you’re also decent human beings, you’d want to take a representative sample of all the other living species along with you… or maybe not; that may not be so wise.

The work scientists do today, will contribute to future generations finding the means to get there faster – we hope.

And another thing. It means the chance to start life afresh – without the ills that plague us currently, like politicians and clerics. Especially politicians and clerics. I’d like to think that some day, my descendants could have the opportunity to live life without these vermin.

So I’m all for it, if only for that.

Blog High Five

torchThe guys over at WordPress have just reminded me that I’ve been blogging five years today.

That’s small potatoes compared to some veterans here, but for a part-timer like me it’s a big deal. Thanks for sharing this journey with me; all of you who comment and follow. Now where’s that bubbly? Cheers!


Freshly Played #22: Hayley Westenra

Around the world it’s mostly doom and gloom and just about every country in going through some form of distress or other. But for six and half minutes Hayley Westenra can and will make you forget all that.

World in Union

The song with lyrics by Charlie Skarbek was commissioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for the Rugby World Cup held every four years. While it has been performed by a number of artists over the years, Hayley’s version sung during the 2011 tournament in New Zealand is the most striking for me personally.

The second half is sung in Maori, but she has also performed the song in Italian, French and Japanese. But Westenra who is a member of the Irish group Celtic Women, is quite an accomplished artist who has also sung in Irish, Welsh, German, Portuguese, Latin and Mandarin Chinese.

Take the time out…


I’ve been nursing this cold for a whole week, and it’s mildly annoying. On reading this article about President Zuma’s visit to a squatter settlement in the Western Cape (WC), I became more than a little infuriated. So I guess it’s time for another political rant before I log off and start watching Cloud Atlas which will hopefully calm me down.

The President exclaims that he is “…shocked to see my people live in these conditions.” He was referring to the Democratic Alliance (DA) who he says claims that “…things have improved.” The DA is in opposition to the ANC and is governing the WC – the only Province which is under their control, the rest being under ANC control.

The reality is that there are nine Provinces in South Africa, eight of which is governed by the ANC, of which Zuma is the leader. There are squatter settlements in all these other Provinces, in which people are living in squalid conditions that are equivalent to those of the WC, or worse. Zuma must think that “his” people are as ignorant as this poor woman (Pumla) from the WC squatter settlement who declared that she will vote for the ANC in the upcoming elections and stated that,

It’s just promises probably, but even if the promise is empty you still want that hope.

The reason the ANC are still in power is because there are far too many Pumla’s in South Africa, and far too many people who still believe in the ANC that once was. These people are misguidedly content to live on the hope that some day our politicians will make good on their many promises.

Why I'm going to vote again after 16 years

My anger turned to full-blown disgust when a statement was released to the press later this afternoon, in which the ANC stated that public statements that insult the President are “an abuse of the constitutionally enshrined right to freedom of expression.”

The spokesman went on to issue a veiled threat to the effect that:

…Elsewhere in the world, it is a criminal offence to insult a sitting head of state, and South Africans must, together, forge a common understanding on how we halt this impunity and abuse of democratic privilege.

The only countries I know of which actually prosecute and harass their citizens for criticising their President are those rune by demagogues, tyrants an tin-pot dictators. I’d like to think that South Africa is a proper democracy, but there are many, including influential people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu who think we are on the slippery slope to tyranny.

The ANC that led South Africa to freedom from Apartheid is very different to the one led by Jacob Zuma. It has become in so many ways, a mirror-image of the apartheid era despots, under his leadership, or more accurately his abysmal lack of it.

It is abundantly clear that Zuma’s ANC must perish, so that the real ANC may rise in triumph once again. This can only be accomplished at the voting polls next year; it’s a pity we have to endure his Presidency in the interim.

End of rant; time for that movie…

UK Girl Guides Drop The Big Guy

Now here’s some progressive news.

Britain’s Girl Guides, a sister organization to Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts, has finally dropped God from their pledge. Which means that godless girls can now feel more comfortable if they’re already members, but also clears the way for others to join more freely.

Another change to the pledge that reflects the changing times is the altering of “to serve my queen and my country” to “serve the queen and my community.” Pity they didn’t drop the old goat altogether, though. Who needs royalty in the modern era?

The pledge which originated around 1910, and altered slightly in 1994, went something like this:

I Promise that I will do my best;
To love my God,
To serve my Queen and my Country,
To help other people
To keep the Guide Law.

And will now read probably something like this:

I Promise that I will do my best;
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,
To serve the queen and my community,
To help other people
To keep the Guide Law.

You go girls! Now that just leaves the Boy Scouts to sort out their oath. Always backward, the boys…

Kings Of Chaos

Putting together former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke with Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge, Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple, Dave Kushner from Velvet Revolver and Ed Roland from Collective Soul, was a feat of genius.

This collaboration going by the aptly named Kings of Chaos, performed in the Sun City Superbowl this Saturday past, and in Cape Town a week earlier. And I was not going to miss it for the world; the bout of flu that took me by surprise on Thursday was just going to have to wait…

The girls and I cruised on up from Johannesburg to Sun City on Saturday, stopping by a pub on the way that served home-made beer. You could say that drinking beer while nursing a cold, is like having an appetite for destruction, but thankfully the sheer excitement of getting to witness rock royalty, kept me going.

So there was no Axl Rose, but when Myles Kennedy got stuck into Sweet Child O Mine, it was hard to tell he was missing. Myles of Alter Bridge is an awesome vocalist. But let’s not forget Glenn Hughes amazing delivery of the Deep Purple classics, Smoke on the Water and Highway Star and Joe Elliott’s retake of the Def Leppard favorites Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Two Steps Behind. And off course Slash… a guitar god.

When the lounge chairs were pulled up on stage for the acoustic set, the crowd went wild in anticipation. Off course Glenn Hughes and Joe Elliott did not fail to meet expectations. An added bonus was Kings Of Chaos renditions of the Dylan classic Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Zeppelin’s Communication Breakdown and Bowie’s All The Young Dudes.

A special mention must got to Ed Roland who sang all my favorite Collective Soul favorites with gusto and aplomb. He’s getting on in years, but is still a superb performer.

For a little over two hours, we were all in rock heaven. South Africa has not been this spoiled for a long time. And then came Myles Kennedy with the closing song Paradise City, and it was over…

Sigh! Oh, to see it all again, and again.

The most sensible approach if you really must be religious…

It’s like a breath of fresh air when a person is not defensive about his religious beliefs. Prevailing congregants could seriously benefit from Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong’s views on religion, but he is unfortunately now retired.

People don’t need to be born again, they need to grow up. – John Shelby Spong


Spong postulated 12 theses for the reformation of Christianity specifically, but these have unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly been widely criticized:

  1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
  4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
  7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
  8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
  9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
  10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
  11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
  12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

Now if that’s not reasonable, I don’t know what is. And if religion must needs prevail, Spongism is the way to go…

My top six TV series… for the nonce

I’m a latecomer to the TV series mania that seems to have everyone in its grip, what with them being so readily available in the DVD and Blu-Ray formats, not to mention file sharing.

Having only ever watched documentary type series before, I picked up Season One of Dexter from a music store around 2010 when the series was already in its 5th season I think, and have been hooked ever since.

Here are my top six television series since then:


6. The Vampire Diaries/True Blood

It was difficult to choose between the two, so I’ve decided to place them both in sixth position, being of the same genre. Being a skeptic, I find the supernatural most unappealing, but this is pure escapism. At any rate the love triangles in these two are not as awful and soppy as Twilight.

5. Boardwalk Empire

I dig period dramas and the Prohibition era in the USA is particularly fascinating, and so is moral ambiguity. Which boy doesn’t like blazing sub-machine guns? And Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, is brilliant.

4. Dexter

I don’t normally like police drama series, since authority figures are a big turn-off for me. Also having lived in a police state under apartheid for many years, I don’t particularly like the Police. But Dexter Morgan the dark hero working as a forensic detective who moonlight’s as a serial killer, makes all the difference.

3. Game of Thrones

This series which has just completed airing series 3 in most places around the world has everyone’s attention in a spellbind. It would have featured higher on my favorites list, were it not for the fact that I’m already well into reading Book 5 of the epic fantasy series by George R.R. Martin, and I’m a little disappointed by the liberties taken by the Producers to change the events and characterisation when making GoT.

If you’re gobsmacked by the events in the finale of season three, there’s much more of that to come in future series… if the Producers don’t deviate too much with events as occurring in the book. But I’m giving nothing away here.

2. Breaking Bad

The pairing of Walter White a goody-two-shoes high school chemistry teacher, and Jesse Pinkman a wannabe drug dealer who cooks up his own meth into a duo of bumbling crooks, was a stroke of brilliance. Dark heroes are normally fascinating, but this pair is special. It will be sad to say farewell to these guys at the end of the fifth season as is currently being planned, but a 16-episoder may make up for it.

1. The Big Bang Theory

Hands up anyone who doesn’t like comedy? Well, fark you! Situation comedy doesn’t come any better than this. At one time, I used to think that nothing would top Third Rock From The Sun, but BBT shades it, if only just. Chuck Lorre is a genius, along with Bill Prady and Steven Molaro.

This is a comedy about science which I’m nuts about, and that about wraps it up for me. The cast of Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon Cooper, Penny, Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothappali have had me in stitches in every single episode. Geekiness has never looked this appealing.

Sadly I’m nearing the end of viewing season six, and I’m dreading those imminent withdrawal symptoms. I’m holding thumbs for more seasons. Please make it happen writer-producer-network guys.

A special mention goes to The Walking Dead and Homeland. And oh! I’ve just acquired entire series of Spartacus, including the prequel… But I’ve not watched nearly enough yet to make me want to topple anything from the list above. But who knows…

***nonce (n), which I came across in Game of Thrones is an old Middle English word meaning “particular” or “present occasion/instance,” and NOT the British and Australian slang term for sexual offender. 🙂

Infantile ANC

Angry_manIt’s been a while since my last political rant, but a number of incidents this week involving South Africa’s ruling party the ANC, has left me shaking my head in dismay… yet again.

Earlier this week, the ANC called for a boycott of MTN, a cellular service provider, after the opposition DA used airtime vouchers printed by a third-party (not MTN) to advertise a pre-election campaign message. The second incident also involves the opposition DA, but this time President Obama was drawn into the mix as well. Pending President Obama’s first visit to the country, the DA has invited him to accept the freedom of the city of Cape Town and address parliament.

Inexplicably an ANC spokesperson has condemned the invitation, calling it a publicity stunt. Both actions by the DA are for all intents and purposes totally above-board. These actions are simple politics, opportunistic though they may be. The childish reaction from the ANC tempts one to conclude that they’re kicking up a hissy fit simply because their propaganda machine did not think of it first.

The third incident which was literally crappy, involved the youth wing of the ANC, otherwise known as the ANCYL (ANC Youth League). While the ANCYL has a long history of perpetrating the most vile acts of anti-social behaviour, this latest incident is particularly nasty. Members of the ANCYL resorted to dumping human faeces collected from portable toilets, on the steps of the Provincial Legislature building in Cape Town, and then a day or so later, hurled more of the stuff at a bus carrying the DA party leader, Helen Zille.

The ANC have publicly distanced themselves from these latter two despicable incidents, But I can imagine them secretly laughing behind closed doors, such is the mentality prevalent in this rotten organization which has the morals and ethics of a squashed cockroach fermenting in a jar of horse piss.

With the recent diarrhoea outbreak in the coastal city of Durban, one wonders if the ANCYL will be in attendance, collecting more ammunition for their future protests.

These are by no means isolated incidences of madness on the part of the ANC. They perpetrate gross acts of misconduct, indulge in scandalous behaviour and petty squabbles and bully critics, on a daily basis. Their one major accomplishment is managing to convince the majority of the people of South Africa to keep them in power for so long, despite their many alarming acts of depravity.

Freshly Played #21: Rare Earth

Written and recorded in 1960 by John D. Loudermilk as a folk song, Tobacco Road failed to make any impression until 1964 when it became a hit for The Nashville Teens. Since then it has been performed by tons of different artists who adapted it to cross various musical genres such as blues, country, punk rock and even metal.

Loudermilk was not a commercially successful singer and had more success writing for others like Eddie Cochran, The Everly Brothers, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Marianne Faithfull. I’m not sure how many of you remember Sunglasses which was a hit for Tracey Ullman?

While Tobacco Road has been performed by the likes of Jefferson Airplane, David Lee Roth, Lou Rawls, Status Quo, Blues Creation and even Jimi Hendrix, my favorite version is by Rare Earth.

Rare Earth was the first successful all-White band to be signed by Motown. The band has gone through an amazing 30 different members since formation in 1960.

Tobacco Road


Interestingly while the lyrics of the song has been adapted by different artists, the opening line has been variously sung as:

  • I was born in a bunk
  • I was born in a dump
  • I was born in a trunk