Mystery happiness

killerweekend

On the way home this afternoon, I was engulfed in a sudden wave of happiness. And being self-aware added to my feeling of blissful satisfaction.

Was it because it’s the weekend? Perhaps.

Was it because I don’t have to face absurd project schedules, sorry-looking financial reports and budget constraints for another two days? Maybe.

Was it because of that nice bottle of whiskey in my trunk that I picked up on special at the liquor store? Why not?

Was it because of the that female serving assistant at the fast food joint that charmed me shamelessly while waiting for my order? Could well be.

Or was it a combination of all of these?

I can’t really say for certain. What I do know (or read somewhere) is that the feeling of happiness is really hard to pinpoint with any degree of certainty. It comes and goes with the wind… or without.

What I do know is that I’m going to ride that sucker for as long as I can. Hopefully the whole weekend through.

I do wish much of the same for you and more…

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For Shame, Saudi Arabia

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. Ambrose Bierce.
How’s this for a kick in the teeth of civilization?
Saudi Arabia was last month elected to chair a high-profile UN Human Rights Council panel that’s responsible for determining international human rights standards and reporting on violations around the world.

So what’s wrong with that? It’s old news anyway.

Saudi Arabia still routinely arrests, beheads, flogs, maims and imprisons human beings for simply expressing themselves freely. And they have this thing about women. Won’t even allow them to drive.

I’ve written previously about Raif Badawi who already received 50 of the 1000-lash sentence, and is still imprisoned for the ludicrous crime of expressing himself through writing. Now there is grave concern for 74-year old Karl Andree, a UK citizen who was arrested for having home-made wine in his possession. Karl has already completed a one year prison sentence and still has a 360-lash sentence hanging over his head.

These are but two examples of the many human rights violations this miserable desert kingdom has incurred. There will be many more. One has to wonder whether the UN thinks it’s more important to have Saudi oil, or human rights.

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch frames it perfectly:

Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi. This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.

Update: More Shame

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who is about 20 years old is still languishing in a Saudi prison and faces death by beheading. As if that’s not barbaric enough, the sentence includes him being crucified thereafter.

Ali was convicted for participating in the Arab Spring protests when he was still only 17 years old. I don’t know what’s worse – the sick judicial system that sentences a 17-year old kid to death by beheading, or the insane Sharia law that requires his dead body be tortured thereafter?

The abuse of artistic work for bigoted causes

While I strongly support freedom of expression, I won’t condone abusing someone or their work to further a cause or argument without their explicit consent. Further, it would be just plain dishonest to present the person or their work in a manner not congruent with their known beliefs. Yet, it happens all the time.

There were two incidences this week in the USA where music was abused by bigoted people to highlight their bigoted causes.

Frankie Sullivan, guitarist and songwriter had every right to be outraged when his song Eye of the Tiger written for Survivor was played at a sympathy rally supported by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, when Kim Davis was released from a Kentucky jail. Kim, a born-again Christian, was tossed in jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Sullivan had previously filed suit against Republican candidate Newt Gingrich who had used the song during his campaign.

In the second incident, Donald Trump used R.E.M.’s song It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) at a Republican rally in the Capitol. Needless to say R.E.M. were not amused and released a statement on Facebook condemning the abuse of their music.

It is being reported on Salon that band member Mike Mills released a further statement from lead singer Michael Stipe which was much more explicit:

Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you–you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.

Neil Young and the Dropkick Murphys have also expressed anger over the use of their songs by Donald Trump.

Surely there are many artists whose outlook on life might lend itself to prejudice, who would not mind their songs being used by bigots like Trump and Davis? How hard can it be it be for bigots to find them?

Update: R.E.M. posted this to their Facebook page today, 11 September 2015. Political Campaigns and Music Licensing.

Marching to be Equal

Dining with Lesbians

And so we went, together, holding hands. Marching for gay rights might sound ordinary to many of you but it’s very special to us, to me. My partner has never, I say never, joined a rally, march or demonstration of any sort. The closest she ever got was dropping me off two blocks away from the site I was going to hold IDAHOT at, and she was very shy about being seen even at that distance.

The rally itself was alright, about 1,000 people turned up.  I loved how one sign said “I am straight.  I support Gay Marriage” (too bad I couldn’t get it clearly on camera).  It was peaceful along the way and the police were nice, too (we had to ask for directions and were politely shown the way by a middle-aged policeman who showed no signs of negativity towards the gay rally).

On the way to…

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How I feel

Since turning 49 just over a week ago, I seem to have hit a writing slump. That’s not to say, that I was writing anything good up a storm prior to that milestone (for me it is).

I don’t know what it is. I feel great. Better than great actually. I could be 48, or 40 or 27 even. Maybe that’s it. I feel too young and my mind is on other things, younger, reckless things, and writing seems like a chore.

But…

I have been contemplating many things. And no, suicide isn’t one of them.

For instance, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is purring again after nearly two years of upgrades and renovations. Since Sunday, actually. That’s really great. It’s a reflection of everything that’s good about the world.

Elsewhere there’s ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, the last only recently massacring around 148 students in Kenya. Then there’s Pat Robertson and Deepak Chopra, alternate sides of the same ideologically unstable coin, whose regular mutterings are quite frankly, insane. I pick on mention a few, but all of these represent a side of the world that is not good at all.

And here in South Africa, we have a group of militant students who are of the opinion (or more likely have been manipulated into believing) that defacing and toppling historic statues will change their lot in life. Right about now they’re watching in glee as a statue of Cecil John Rhodes is being removed from a university campus.

But, the LHC is humming softly and I feel good…

Slave to the idea in which he believes

Sheikh Hani Al-Siba’i, an Egyptian scholar recently got properly schooled by a female Lebanese TV show host. Al-Siba’i thought that it was quite okay to behave like an ass while asserting that he is “serving the idea in which he believes.” They were discussing reports of Christians joining the Islamic fundamentalist group  (ISIS).

TV host Rima Karaki, who is a university professor herself, eventually cut the ideological, misogynist son of a maggot-infested gargoyle off the air.

Well played Rima.

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.

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.

Victory for Irreverence

FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-MEDIA-FRONTPAGE

The Charlie Hebdo weekly normally has a print run of around 60 000 copies. This week they planned to publish 3 million copies following the brutal slaying of 12 of its staff by religious fundamentalists. Instead, such was the demand, 5 million copies will be distributed.

If these idiots thought they were appeasing their God by wanting people who value free speech to be eliminated, they sure didn’t count on how badly such bigoted ideology would blow up in their faces. Spectacularly so. Indeed, instead of 60 000 people having access to some irreverence, now 5 million and certainly more will be laughing their heads off to the silliness of religious narrow-mindedness and intolerance.

Fundamentalists of all stripes need to know that those who wish to free their minds from mental slavery will not be swayed by random shootings, bombing of buildings, suicide bombings using ten-year old girls, kidnapping of young women and children, hacking to death of villagers, imprisoning and whipping of atheist bloggers, issuing of fatwas, killing pro-abortion doctors, demonstrating against and demonizing homosexuality, destruction of ancient monuments, banning women from driving, forbidding snowmen from being built, removing “erotic” cosmetics from shelves, beheading of journalists, banning of medication, building of creationist museums and subjecting young minds to creationist rubbish in schools, and the delusional rants of clerics, priests and holy men.

The list of atrocities, depravity and irrationality perpetrated in the name of religious and other ideology is far too numerous to mention. What is more abundant however, is the sheer will to carry on the fight against this evil by far too many people – people who recognize that the desire for freedom is much stronger than the desire for servitude to Gods and Devils.

Mankind will triumph, because we are more powerful than Gods and Devils. We created them after all.

Paranoid Police

gun

Over the last few years police officers around the world have been found to be increasingly violent and dare I say “unprotecting” of citizens, resulting in unnecessary fatalities.

Around two years ago 44 striking miners were shot and killed by the South African Police at Marikana, a Platinum mine near Rustenburg. This was the most lethal of many such incidents over the years where even innocent bystanders were fatally shot by the police.

More recently, the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer of the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri USA, caused huge civil unrest. The aftermath of this shooting is still being felt around the USA, and racism is being singled out as the root cause.

Just last week, Tamir Rice, a 12-year old boy was shot and killed by Cleveland Police, also in the USA, after being reported to be playing with a toy gun in a park. Video evidence seems to show the police shooting the boy less than two seconds after arriving on the scene.

The next story, while not involving a fatality, is really quite absurd and also comes from the USA.

A Colorado man was arrested for pointing an (apparently loaded) banana at two police officers and is facing felony charges. This is where it gets weird. The guy, Nathan Channing is from Fruitvale, Colorado and the arresting officer is called Deputy Bunch. The officer claimed that from training and experience he had seen guns in many shapes and colours.

These two officers were obviously choice mutton-heads, but if a police officer cannot distinguish between a yellow banana and a yellow gun, us citizens are in very serious trouble.

While the police admittedly operate in increasingly dangerous situations, we expect them to protect and serve. Gung-ho shooting of innocent people and even suspects is really very unnerving for any citizen. It really wouldn’t do for people to start getting the crazy notion that we need to start protecting ourselves from our police.