Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year 

For all those not feeling terribly hopeful in the face of the future 2005 seems to present us, with war, famine, capitalist consumerism and the like all likely to be as prevalent as ever, take heart and take up arms (metaphorically, or otherwise):

"A happy new year!... Our readers are, we hope, rebels in heart, and hence may rebel even at our own picture of the future. If that is so let us remind them that opportunities are for those who seize them, and that the coming year may be as bright as we choose to make it... For those who choose to advance to meet Fate determined to mould it to their purpose that future may be as bright as our picture is dark."

James Connolly.

Of course, he got shot that year (1916), so you might not want to follow his call.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Arvin and Arvadean went out to play... 

Yes, for those who haven't already seen it, it's the Utah Baby Namer. This is intended for those looking for "that distinctive name that says "I'm a Utah Mormon!"

[Via Lorna].

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Total chemical warfare against insects 

I was delighted to discover parts of the 1960s ZOCK manifesto earlier today (the Zealous Organization of Candied Knights). While the counter-culture partied and talked about revolution, Otto Muehl dreamed its dark side. Fun elements include his vision of a society in which "There is freedom for orgies", orgies which are designed to compensate for the planned "loss of allotment gardens, cars, property, family, religion, morals, forests and pastures, love of animals, mountains, traveling" in his future society.

He goes on to attack just about everything:

" First, everything representing something valuable in the eyes of a wichtel [goblin - most people] will be destroyed: old cities like Florence, Rome, Venice, etc., favorite holiday landscapes will be devastated, tourist attractions will be abolished, historical buildings and monuments like temples (Acropolis), graves (Pyramids) and palaces will be demolished."

Wonderful bits:

"The exploration of space is postponed until the last beetle is destroyed."

"School children are allowed to be shot down only on roads leading to schools."

"Priests may be shot with a peashooter when they are performing their duties during high holy days."

"Famine, which will be provoked by ZOCK's destruction of agriculture, is a welcome event in realizing ZOCK's most extreme goals. When famine has reached a certain extent, ZOCK's slogan will be: Use other humans as food."

"All women who have already born children, will be beaten to death and eaten by ZOCK youth on the occasion of a gigantic Mother's Day feast."

"World Animal Day: a call to sexual intercourse with all animals."

Muehl has also discovered the secret of past revolutionary failure: "all revolutions made the mistake of not going far enough in radically destroying traditional structures. They always let remnants of old institutions survive... ZOCK will not make this mistake.

ZOCK will destroy all structures that are older than one minute, without exception."

Excellent. I'm not sure I'll ever think of Mother's Day in the same way again.

And on this Christian day... 

There are some groups of Christians out there planning a protest against BBC 2's projected airing of Jerry Springer: The Opera:

"This musical, notorious for containing over 8,000 expletives, depicts the characters of Jesus, Mary and God as self-centred sexual deviants who give and receive extreme verbal abuse and a horrific series of blasphemies all in the name of comedy. The show's artistic director admits that it is a deliberate attack on good taste and the BBC concedes that the intended broadcast "pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency".

Nevertheless, the show is planned to be transmitted without any cuts."

As this was the first any of us had heard about it, when I told a friend about this, he responded "Can we e-mail them back to find what time it's on?"

Basically, as a Christian, it's okay... 

[Via Shot By Both Sides]

A few days ago Michael Brooke linked to a piece criticising the latest John Chick (JC, geddit?) comic strip, which tells just about everyone, but most specifically Muslims, that they're going to hell.

Fortunately, there's now lighter relief with this spoof strip.

(Oh, and for those who thought we were immune from this rubbish living in England, think again. I was handed a nice one of JC's pamphlets in Birmingham back in 1998 or so, telling me about the evils of homosexuality. Bit late by then, though)

Dark White Christmas 

Well, there's been snow in Birmingham as of twenty minutes ago, and it appears to be heading South. Because it's dark I can't get a good photo, but it's falling bloody fast and sticking too. Good stuff.

Friday, December 24, 2004

For A Merry Christmas 

From Daniel DeLeon, writing 104 years ago tomorrow:

"The “charitably minded” will attempt to lighten the woes of those who are out of work, of those who have been violently torn from the sources of livelihood, by giving them free dinners. The number of poor who will be fed today is not an indication of the goodness of man, but it is an arraignment of the capitalist system, a protest against that system and a menace to the human race. It is well to assist the fallen, but it is dangerous, it is criminal, to throw them to the ground so that you can assist them. More charity is shown in pointing out the right way for society than there is in feeding millions of men who are kept in servitude.

The arrangements that were made for the wholesale feeding of the poor gave the lie direct to the claim that we are either a civilized or a prosperous nation. If so many mouths must be fed at the expense of others, and if thousands, or hundreds of thousands, will get but the meager dinner to which they are accustomed from day to day, then prosperity is distributed so unevenly that that such a large proportion of the people are cut out of it, that it is better to abolish the whole thing and substitute a little justice...

...There was a time here when it would have been an insult to a man to offer him his Christmas dinner. He was capable of providing all that he needed. He is no longer. He must depend on what charity doles out to him. He is made a suppliant for Christmas cheer. He is no longer capable of providing for himself, and must depend on what is given him...

Such a “merry” Christmas cannot come unless there is some great and terrible wrong. Such a state of affairs works the ruin of all who take part in it. Its increase betokens disaster. Its continuance breeds crime.

A merry Christmas should be a Christmas that finds all men capable of producing their own merriment, instead of having it ladled out to them, to a chorus of self-praise and gratulation on the part of the givers."

This is all founded on an economic argument about capitalism necessarily pitting wage workers against non-workers in order to keep them all down, but it works just as well as a moral argument, I reckon.

Three Things 

[Via Norm and others]

Three Names You Go By:
1. Sarah Cotterill
2. Sarah Lloyd
3. Alex Lloyd

Three Things You Like About Yourself:
1. My oh so sweet and bubbly personality. Obviously.
2. My taste in music.
3. My taste in friends.

Three Things You Dislike About Yourself:
1. My inability to stay awake when I need to.
2. My inability to sleep when I need to.
3. My habit of saying embarrassing things I regret for weeks afterwards.

Three Parts of Your Heritage:
1. Woolly lefty liberal
2. Christian
3. A combination of Birmingham and the Home Counties (and what a great accent that makes)

Three Things That Scare You:
1. Large groups of people
2. Loud noise(s)
3. Sudden movements

Three of Your Everyday Essentials:
1. A pencil
2. Some book or other
3. Diet Coke

Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. A fedora
2. A Smiths t-shirt
3. Trainers

Three of Your Favorite Bands/Artists at the moment:
1. Suede/The Tears
2. Hank Williams
3. David Bowie

Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present:
1. "I can't help it (If I'm Still In Love With You" - Hank Williams
2. "Ballad For Americans" - Paul Robeson
3. "What Would You Do?" Kander/Ebb from Cabaret

Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
1. Passing finals well enough to get out of the country.
2. Getting out of the country.
3. Staying out of the country.

Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given): Why is love given? I don't want it...
1. Informality
2. Openness
3. Not too much emotion

Two Truths and a Lie: (in no particular order)
1. I wish I'd spent more time involved in the theatre.
2. I enjoy cross-dressing.
3. I've never worn make up.

Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex That Appeal to You:
1. A lack of breast tissue.
2. More sharply defined features (without anorexia)
3. Fewer whiny, high-pitched voices. Only a bit, mind...

Three Things You Just Can't Do:
1. Climb anything vertical
2. Master Sondheim on the piano.
3. Listen to 'girl talk' without becoming deeply sarcastic and/or patronising.

Three of Your Favorite Hobbies:
1. Listening to music
2. Going to the cinema
3. Flirting.

Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now:
1. Have a can of Diet Coke.
2. Magic myself either back to the beginning of uni or to the end of finals.
3. Sleep. (1 could be replaced by 3).

Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:
1. San Francisco
2. Paris
3. Edinburgh

Three Kids' Names:
1. Fifi
2. Trixibelle
3. Champ

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. Write an important book/article.
2. Live alone.
3. Relax.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Grumpy Old Bugger 

[Via Chris]

You are a Cynic!
You are a Cynic.

Cynicism was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, founded by Antisthenes. Nowadays the word generally describes, somewhat pejoratively, the opinions of those inclined to disbelieve in human sincerity, in virtue, or in altruism: individuals who maintain that only self-interest motivates human behavior. A modern cynic typically has a highly contemptuous attitude towards social norms, especially those which serve more of a ritualistic purpose than a practical one, and will tend to dismiss a substantial proportion of popular beliefs, conventional morality and accepted wisdom as "bullshit". In informal use, derived from the meanings described hereabove, cynicism may refer to heartless calculating behavior or thinking. Someone who has no faith in the goodness of other human beings may have less restraints to behave in a calculating way without compassion but this doesn't have to be the case. Despite the negative portrayal of cynics, some would argue that such people simply "refuse to look through rosy-tinted spectacles" and do not fear to demolish popular beliefs no matter how sacred society considers such alleged misconceptions. Cynics themselves tend to take this view, regarding themselves as enlightened free thinkers, and their critics as deluded social pretenders who "bury their heads in the sand". However, an excess of cynicism in an individual can cause social or psychological difficulties when cynics see themselves as depersonalised and self-serving inhabitants of a meaningless, fictitious, and shallow world. One behavioural indicator of profound cynicism is an absence of participation in defence of principles. The cynic may look as though they are timidly adopting a policy of "Don't get involved, it only brings you trouble," but their inactivity flows from a deeper belief that nothing can be changed anyway: "Don't get involved, you won't make any difference anyway. Why waste effort on a futile cause?" Critics of cynics often regard cynicism as a form of nihilism and as damaging to the function of life. They may often describe a cynic as "a grumpy old bugger".

Which Hellenistic School of Philosophy Would You Belong To?
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