Nice guys these Quakers

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Quaker_star

Yesterday I came across an article in a local online newspaper about how a group of Quakers are helping the LGBTQ community flee Uganda’s absurd and outrageous Anti-Homosexuality Act. What’s more, I got to learn a lot about the Quaker community, otherwise known as the Religious Society of Friends (didn’t know that either).

Like the Amish community, Quakers are fervently religious and believe very strongly in non-violence. However whereas The Amish are very conservative and don’t adapt to change, Quakers are pretty liberal and embrace modern technology. Another thing, Quakers don’t have priests or clergymen and eschew religious symbolism, and for that alone this atheist is warming up to them.

But here’s why I think they’re simply awesome: Quakers are involving themselves in a dangerous activity by helping people escape persecution. And they’ve done it before; many times.

Quakers denounced slavery as early as the 1670’s in Barbados. Later they would play a fundamental role in abolishing slavery in the United States. They were also involved in setting up the Underground Railroad in the USA which helped runaway slaves.

It was therefore fitting that the group based in Olympia, Washington, assisting people escape the bigotry and persecution as a result of the draconian law passed by the Ugandan government, decided to call themselves Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR).

However not everyone likes what they’re doing; even right’s activists and NGO’s within the LGBTQ community have their reservations, but I think it’s just remarkable.

Meanwhile Ugandan activists, and right’s organizations like Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) who incidentally are critical of what FNUR are doing, are petitioning the courts to overturn the anti-gay law. I sincerely hope they’re succesful. The world does not need legislated hatred.

This ain’t no banana republic

Everything leading up to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by Scoundrel No.1 the President a few weeks ago and subsequently has given force to the idea that South Africa is a banana republic.

Social media was abuzz with claims that the beginning of the end had started that horrid day. Those video clips of the bust-up in Parliament was merrily doing the rounds, much to the delight of all those who have over a period of time come to despise this ANC administration (as admittedly, I do too).

But are we really a banana republic?

No. And far from it. However, the daily antics of our politicians, especially those in the ruling governing party will not ease the cries of the nay-sayers. But do we have a democracy then?

No. I’m not convinced that what I’m living every day is actually a functioning democracy. At least not in the traditional sense like those in countries such as Norway and Switzerland say (two random European countries. Extracted from Global Democracy Ranking), based on (1) politics, gender (socio-economic and educational gender equality); (2) economy (economic system); (3) knowledge (knowledge-based information society, research and education); (4) health (health status and health system); (5) environment (environmental sustainability).

As you can see, South Africa is not doing too well; way off the mark actually and declining. But we’re the new kids on the block, so a little leeway should be allowed, right?

No. Instead of making headway to improve our fledgling democracy, the politicians seem to be heading the other way. My experience is that the politicians are too busy looking after numero uno (well Scoundrel No.1 The President first, then themselves obviously because the system of patronage must be protected) and they have absolutely no compunction in trying to hide it, nor do they show any remorse when caught.

The levels of corruption are so bad, that when the nay-sayers do label this country as a kleptocracy, I have no hesitation in agreeing. It seems so apparent that our politicians are hell-bent on making South Africa the leading kleptocracy in Africa, maybe even the world.

Footnote: Choosing Banana Republic by The Boomtown Rats would have been an obvious choice for my mostly usual Monday music post, but I decided to go with the other one as this post developed into a rant. I Don’t Like Mondays has nothing to do with going back to work on a Monday, or whatever people usually think, but has to do with the shooting spree of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California, USA on 29 January 1979, who like our politicians showed no remorse for her actions.

Apatheism

lennymaysay:

Not quite an apatheist, but there are times when the world appears to have gone ape-shit bat-shit crazy, I feel like one.

Originally posted on colemining:

I learned a new word recently. That doesn’t happen all that often- although it is occurring more frequently since I moved into a job significantly outside my regular wheelhouse of history, literature, religion, myth, story, music and etc.

I was watching a TEDTalk (have I mentioned how I’m hooked on these things? No wait. That discussion is in a post that is still languishing in the drafts folder. I need to stop being so easily distracted…) by Dr. Ben Goldacre.

This TEDTalk here:

I was watching it for a couple of reasons- I am working in the healthcare industry at the moment, so the subject matter is relevant to my day-to-day involvement in scientific, evidence-based research and the public policies that are informed by this research.

Mainly, though, I decided to check it out because there has been a whole lot of irresponsible let’s call it ‘journalism’, for lack of…

View original 1,467 more words

Five inches closer to God

beliefs

How does an ordinary John Joe become the world’s most wanted killer?

“Jihadi John”  the cold-blooded executioner of Western hostages held in Syria, has been revealed to be an apparently likeable computer programmer from West London named Mohammed Emwazi.

Why do people willingly cut their penises off?

Gurmeet Ram Rahim is a self-proclaimed spiritual guru who heads Dera Sacha Sauda, an organization which has millions of followers around India and claims to be a humanitarian, social welfare and spiritual organization. Around 400 of these followers are alleged to have been convinced by Rahim to castrate themselves so that they could become closer to God.

Is there a link between “Jihadi John” and Gurmeet Ram Rahim? I think so.

“Jihadi John” was obviously influenced to change by someone or something. Gurmeet Ram Rahim is an influencer, a propagator of religious ideology. Scattered across India are 400 eunuchs probably rueing the day they bought into this loathsome ideology. Is it not plausible to also contemplate that “Jihadi John” also bought into some contemptible ideology that tainted his mind to such an extent that he joined the despicable ISIS cult and turned into a common murderer?

I leave it to you to ponder. I acknowledge off course that I’m trying to influence you, but just to think.

My name is Vega

Suzanne Vega is probably best known for Luka which was her most successful composition. However I have a special preference for Tom’s Diner.

The diner in question actually exists, but is called Tom’s Restaurant and is located in New York City. It has also featured in the American sitcom Seinfeld.

I open
Up the paper
There’s a story
Of an actor

Who had died
While he was drinking
It was no one
I had heard of

Apparently these lyrics were used to date the composition of the song pretty accurately to 18 November 1981. The death was that of actor William Holden who suffered a fall after drinking excessively. Strange though that Vega had never heard of him prior to that.

Another interesting snippet about Tom’s Diner is that it was used by Karlheinz Brandenburg to develop the MP3 audio compression technique. Vega has since informally been known as the “Mother of the MP3.”

Killing in the name of…

Another bloody weekend because ISIS…

The reports state that Egypt is in shock after the senseless and brutal beheading of 21 captured nationals by ISIS fundamentalists some time over the weekend, but the truth is that every sane person in the world shares in that trauma.

I have read several arguments about what makes a person resort to such base inhumanity and I still can’t make my mind up over which is believable or acceptable. Not that any reason would be acceptable. Some say it has nothing to do with religion, others believe it is entirely the fault of religion. I can understand with reservations, a person behaving in this savage manner to protect family or friends from harm, but what draws men (and women) from around the world to join an organization that viciously murders their fellow-men, women and children? This is not rational behaviour by any means.

It has to be a virus known as ideology. These people are not natural psychopaths.

Ideology – religious, political or otherwise can so taint the mind, that a human can succumb to such savagery. History is replete with acts of utter barbarity due to ideological influences.

I believe that most people just want to get on with their lives, building a family and home and becoming successful to some degree or the other. They couldn’t be bothered with things like patriotism and religious affiliation… unless sufficiently indoctrinated to buy into some ridiculous cause. As it is, the Universe and Mother Nature are hell-bent on eradicating all life; it just makes no sense that human beings feel the need to help these bitches along.

I wish the closing words of the Rage Against The Machine song Killing In The Name becomes a mantra everyone lives by, when confronted by religious, social, political and other bullshit ideological influences.

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Massacre of Valentine’s Day

condomheart

I take it that there is general acknowledgement that the modern observance of Valentine’s Day is as commercialized as Christmas. Notwithstanding, most people still indulge in this celebration of love as a necessary distraction from the hum-drum of daily life.

But there are those who wish to tarnish and discredit this old tradition.

Anwar Abbas, head of education (yeah right!) at the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars thinks that Valentine’s Day is “incompatible with his nation’s culture and religious tenets.” This self-appointed moral policeman expressed his indignation after discovering that retailers were selling Valentine’s Day chocolate gift packs that included condoms which he claims “glorified promiscuity.”

What an idiot? The provision of free condoms is a public service. Religion should never be allowed to come between consenting sex organs. (Yes, I’m referring to the multitude of sexual partnerships, not just heterosexuality). This is the 21st century for Odin’s sake. People love to bonk because it gives them pleasure. There is nothing immoral in sexual pleasure.

It used to be that Abbas’s irrational and irresponsible adjudication was the forte of the Catholic Church. And he’s not alone. Abbas has cohorts in every religion under Sol. It is now apparent that it is endemic in religious ideology in general. Ideologues have for time immemorial been using morality as a pretext to impose their narrow-mindedness on the uncritical masses. It has nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with religious bigotry and the power that having a priestly position entails.

Fuck all religious naysayers. No wait, don’t, not in that way. Ignore all fundamentalist religious idiots and have a banging Valentine’s Day tomorrow, but for Odin’s sake use a fucking condom.

Delightful gibberish: Mah Na Mah Na

I remember listening to this song many eons ago and taking an instant liking to it. Fortunately I heard it again the other day while watching a TV series, and managed to track it down on the internet.

The song contains no actual words, but somehow becomes catchy. Written by Piero Umiliani famous for spaghetti western and soft core porn scores, it has featured in many films and television series, including The Muppet Show. If it sounds familiar, yep that’s where you heard it.

Arabian blights

magiclamp

Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2030 Olympic Games jointly with Bahrain, an island kingdom off the East Coast, has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and rightly so.

Seems the misogynistic Saudi’s had the audacity to suggest that the male and female events be held separately. They proposed that women competitors be shipped off to Bahrain, no doubt to keep the mainland sacrosanct for “god-fearing” men only.

Saudi Arabia’s previous successes in Olympic Games participation consists of a grand total of three medals – two bronzes and one silver. Ramzy Al Duhami Abdullah Al Saud Kamal Bahamdan Abdullah Sharbatly who won bronze in the 2012 London Olympics has such a ponderous name, he should surely have been given a sympathetic gold, just for being saddled with it. And spare a thought for the poor sports commentator…

A country that bans women from driving, imprisons and lashes civil rights activists, beheads it’s citizens after “holy” prayer services on Fridays for apostasy and generally imposes stupid archaic laws based on the ambiguous ramblings in religious scripture, should not be allowed to host the pleasurable pastimes of the civilized world. Well done IOC.

How did we get from the Islamic Golden Age of scientific and cultural enlightenment of the Abbasid Caliphate which gave us among other things, One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), to such a repressive era which glorifies the atrocious ideology of Sharia Law? I think you’ll find the answer in the insane interpretations and teaching of scripture by the clerics.

Stranglehold

His weird-ass politics aside, Ted Nugent was is one heck of a guitar player. Performing one of his rock hits from the 70’s, you’d never think this dude actually supports the retarded Republican Party, or that he is a board member of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

But hey, history is littered with great artists who have fallen by the wayside. Just forget his personal affiliations (for eight and a half minutes) and enjoy some great music.