Sunday, April 6, 2014


Season 4 of Game of Thrones begins in a few hours. Being in a country where I don’t receive HBO, I think I’m one of the few cases where piracy really is justified. If I had the money and the availability, I would pay for the privilege, promise. I cannot wait for 4.30AM local time, when the episode lands upon the shores of a certain Bay in Sweden. I have my alarm set. I’ve read all the books now- I finished A Dance with Dragons a few weeks back(Also pirated, but I swear if I had the money I would buy them. Pinkie promise!). Not only that, I’ve read the preview chapters of The Winds of Winter, so I can’t wait for 2015 either. All this anticipation has got me thinking: for ten weeks starting April 6th, the only thing occupying my mind will be Game of Thrones.  Counting actual screen time, only during 10 of those hours will I be face to face with a cinematic imagining of Westeros and the Known World. Ten hours that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Of my nearly 22 years of life, I’ve spent a total of about 160 hours (ridiculously generous estimate) reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Adding time spent thus far watching Game of Thrones (30 hours first-run, 10 hours rewatching season 1 when I “got” the scale and detail of the world I’d invested in and maybe another 5 watching and rewatching the Red Wedding scene) makes 205 hours. If I count time spent reading supplementary material, surfing wikis, reading/watching the theories of fans crazier than myself all over the internettubes and perusing maps and the like (which, it might surprise you, accounts for almost half my supplementary time) it comes up to maybe 250, max. 250 hours, out of approximately 191,544.5 (accurate to withing a couple of minutes as of posting this) of my life thus far. Yet those 250 hours have gone on to become a part of me, to define who I am. When faced with a situation, one of the first questions I will ask myself is “What would Jon Snow do?” I look at episodes of my life, situations I find myself in, and I immediately compare them to something that happened in Westeros. Gee whiz, that news story plays out rather like the Florent/Tyrell tensions. So, money rules our world, right? Just like gold rules Westeros? That treacherous bastard. He must have some Bolton blood in him. Yet none of those places, none of those people, none of those situations are real! They’re all just figments of the imagination of some guy who lives in Arizona whom I’ve never even met!

And all this is just with one fictional Universe that’s relatively new to me – I first got into it when I watched season 1 of Game of Thrones around mid-2012. Imagine what it must be like with universes and franchises I’ve been invested in for far longer and have consumed much more material from? Star Trek, Doctor Who, the Foundation series, heck, the granddaddy of them all, Warhammer 40,000! I have spent so much time: physically through the page, virtually on the computer screen, for 60 brief minutes multiplied more times than I can count in a feature film and in the scapes of my imagination, I’ve lived more in the worlds of Warhammer than far too many human beings do in our physical universe. At times I feel like Warhammer is my life, a metaphor which extends itself into reality by the fact that the handle I use for most of my Internet presence – Enter_Skitarii – is itself based off something in 40k. And being the recluse that I am, it’s obvious that I live most of my life on the Internet.

It always blows my mind, the influence that fiction has on our lives. Yet it shouldn’t, really. Our propensity for fiction is just an extension of our love of stories. All through human existence, our primary mode of gaining first experience of something has been through the telling of tales. Folk tales, inganekwane in my native Ndebele, told by the fireside have been the primary mode of instilling wonder and curiosity at the world for thousands of generations. The stories brought by the visitor from three villages over have been the primary method of gaining knowledge of the world at large since time immemorial. The tales of the old, grizzled and scarred hunter or warrior have been the source of inspiration, as well as the warning of the dangers of the trade to those who wished to follow in his footsteps.

Looking earlier still at our evolutionary history, looking even at our cousins who haven’t quite found it in themselves to leave the cosy, warm jungles, heck, looking at nearly every species on earth, we can see why (causatory why, not epistemological why) the desire for stories was coded into our genes. Other primates have their calls, elephants have subsonic rumbles transmitted through their feet and the ground, bees have the little jig they do. One creature passing information to another has been one of the things that have allowed species to survive, by creatures sharing with each other information about the whereabouts of food, the presence of predators and other factors that could affect their survival.

As we learn more and more about the nature of memory, we learn that we actually really don’t remember things as objectively as we think. Our perceptions and prejudices colour our memories, things get added on and altered as other memories jostle for position. We add elements from our own imagination in an effort to make the story more interesting or impressive and, if we tell the story to others and ourselves enough, we become unable to tell the interlocution from reality. Hell, I took a few liberties with this post to make it more interesting, and I can feel one or two of those starting to insinuate their way into my memories. I notice this most clearly when I rewatch movies that were iconic in my childhood. They’re often wildly different from what is contained in my memory. I used to think this was an effect of things I’d experienced as a child. But when I recently reread HorusRising (WHICH I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY BECAUSE IT WAS AVAILABLE AND I COULD!!!) after about a year and a half I found several elements of the story that were different from what I remembered. Given half a decade, I can see how it could be quite considerably different.

It’s not just with made-up stories, but with things that have happened directly to me, to which I was a first-hand witness as well. Totally sober experiences with my friends will come out differently when told individually by each of us. Not just emphasis, but details, what someone was wearing, what they said , what they did, which direction they ran when the grumpy old man finally caught us, whether he had a gun or his penis half-visible through the robe he was or maybe was not wearing. Different as they are, each of those stories is true.

So this makes me think: if personal experience can be so subjective and prone to deviation from what actually happened, is it really any different from fiction? The stories we weave, both from things that have happened to us and from the infinite reaches of our imagination are, qualitatively, not that different. They are all equally valuable. Stories are the true currency of human experience, and there is no false coin.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In which I mumble and grumble about Windows 8

Everyone knows I'm the ultimate skeptic, right? I'm all about taking a calm, measured look at things before forming an opinion. I like to take my time and wait to see if that opinion is supportable before I make it public. So I hope with that in mind, the integrity of the following statement will be greatly heightened: fuck Windows 8 with sewage-coated woodrasp.

I honestly thought I'd have gotten over my hatred for Win8 by now.

Of course, my (and everyone's) biggest peeve with Windows 8 is being forced to use the Start screen, and the lack of a Start menu. There are three phases of attitude toward the Start screen. The first is the wtf?? Stage. You have no idea what the hell you're supposed to do with it, but you shut your mouth out of fear of being seen as the idiot who can't figure out new technological advances, even though in reality it's a cosmetic feature that's only managed to reduce the ease of use of your non-touchscreen device. You doggedly press on, pinning programs you use often and forcing yourself to open them from the start screen. You begin to develop a sort of Stockholm syndrome. I'm using this feature everyday now, I must actually like it, you tell yourself. This leads to the second stage. You finally realise just how awesome and cool the Start screen really is! You pin ALL your programs to it, organise them into groups according to type and frequency of use. You're happy and productive, now that you've figured it out. This stage lasts about twelve minutes. Windows releases an update which allows you to boot straight to the desktop and you never use the Start screen again.

Speaking of that update, what an absolute piece of crap that was. Microsoft hyped it up as the update that would fix everything, that would turn everything back the way it was before by giving us back our Start button. Well, they did that alright and... nothing more.  Like the Literal Genie, they technically delivered on what they said they were going to deliver but didn't give us what we actually wanted: the Start MENU, not just the Start Button. I bet Microsoft knew exactly what shit they were pulling... Penny Arcade expresses what this was best.

You will not believe just how annoying that shit is. The old Start menu system wasn't broke. Why fix it? I mean, I got my laptop on my birthday last year, nearly 9 months ago. Let that sink in: if I wasn't a pathetic beta and had gotten some (unprotected) birthday sex last year, my fucking baby (triplets, with my luck) would be due right about now. And you know what? I STILL press the Windows key when I want to call up the task bar while using an application (I REFUSE to call them "apps") that overlaps the bottom of the screen (lookin' at you, iTunes...).

Bottom line is, the Start screen is beyond useless if you don't have a touchscreen. Hauling the mouse over and over again to get to the other end of the screen is annoying as fuck. Most Modern Apps also either have better desktop rivals, or have much better, more functional desktop or web-based versions. So Windows, as you can see, I've tried to like your new thing. I've worked my hardest to appreciate and make use of it. I still don't like it. Now I know you guys value my opinion and will listen to me when millions of others have failed to convince you: please, bring back our fucking Start menu.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Doctor Dray designs some kinda decent earphones

Bought a pair of TDK earbuds apparently designed by some fellow with a doctorate in earbud design (I assume. He’s called Doctor Dray or something like that. I surmise he’s some distinguished English audiophile who could tell the difference in quality from leads made with slightly different alloys) mostly because they were the most decent sounding pieces I could find. I’d bought a pair of generic, unbranded ones a week earlier and they’d sounded like someone shitting straight into my ear.

Well it turns out this particular pair the doctor must have made for that hippity hoppity stuff or something because the low end is stupidly powerful, so much so that it drowns out any kind of proper singing or progressive/solo guitar work, which makes up the vast majority of my music. As a result, I’m forced to switch my iPod 6th gen Nano (which I got for 20 bucks from a friend who “got it from his cousin”)’s  EQ to Treble Booster in order to get decent sound sound definition. I’ll admit that with this setting  it’s pretty good, better than most generic brands I’ve used though not quite as full bodied as my old Samsung pair which I foolishly left in my track jacket pocket when I put it in the wash. Also, TessaracT’s music sounds quite oddly muted, though it sounded very normal in my Samsungs. It doesn’t do this with any other artist’s stuff, or even any other djent songs.

Another, upshot of this is that treble boost consumes battery power like crazy! I just discovered this after barely four hours of play, right as I’m psyching myself up to listen to the latest episode of The Cracked Podcast (which became my favorite podcast with its first episode. Go check it out now, the back catalogue’s still just five episodes thick, so there’s not much catching up to do) when the ‘Pod (does anyone call it that? Or will I have a mob of angry malophiles kicking down my door soon?) tells me I need to plug in. For comparison, I’ve been on 18 hour bus trips listening to back-to-back podcasts and audiobooks and  to loud, techy death metal while I catch some approximation of sleep (I can’t sleep when I can hear the drone of an engine), and never once got that message.

To make things worse, it’s a typical evening in Zimbabwe right now, meaning we have no power, so I’m reduced to the ridiculous situation of powering up my laptop just to charge the ‘Pod (dear Jobs forgive me if I have taken the name of thy product in vain), and writing this post in Word to pass the time and it has just* occurred to me that I could have been listening to the podcast using iTunes (‘Tunes?) all this time. This post really has no point anymore, so I guess the moral of the story is that anything worth doing is worth a hand in the bush.


To make this worth your while, here’s my favorite TessaracT song. Enjoy.

They cut the second best part of the song – the chilled out trail after the super techy bridge – out for this video. Here’s a full version. In fact, check out the full Concealing Fate if you're up for an excellent 25 minutes. It's absolutely beautiful.


*P.S. Honesty compels me to tell you that I didn’t *just* realise this. I realized it somewhere around the beginning of the second paragraph.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sabbath School 16/02/13 - Up the Butt

The fellow holding the afternoon program yesterday (which was about who the ‘boss’ is in the home – guess who they concluded it is) alerted us to one of the greatest tragedies of our time – newlywed young Christian women who are coerced by their new husband into giving anal and oral secks using the rhetoric that he is the head of the marriage and should be obeyed. But the tragic part for him wasn’t the coercion part of it or the stupid, harmful rhetoric used to justify it, but the fact that the young maidens are being made to perform “unbiblical” acts. What’s happening here is indeed a tragedy, buy not nearly for the reason the clueless fool gave.

A woman in this situation is doubly the victim, and the perpetrator is not only the husband forcing her to do something she does not want, but the system that has so narrowed her sexual horizons in this manner. The type of upbringing that Adventists receive and the sex education (or abject lack thereof) they receive completely fails to convey the beauty and adventure of the act, instead filling anything that does not fit into their narrow view of what is acceptable (heterosexual intercourse in the missionary position, preferably for the purposes of procreation, the sick, sick bastards) being filled with shame. There’s a lot of blabber about sex between two married people being a beautiful thing without showing any real appreciation of that beauty, or of the fact that sex, in any paradigm in which you prefer to exclusively or non-exclusively define it, can be just plain fun.

To top it off, they close off some of the most amazing sexual experience. “Congress of the mouth” as it is known in the Kama sutra is a wonderful thing for both giver and recipient, and who the hell isn’t up for a little buttsecks every once in a while? And besides, despite what the old fogeys would most fervently like to believe, some of the best hea- no, I think I’ll hold that thought to myself (hint: it involves the very same mouths from which such marvellous melodies are produced during song service every Sabbath. I do not disapprove – quite the opposite. You’re all champions in my eyes, girls ;)

 On top of this, I believe the young gent is also a victim in all of this (please bear with me; I’m not making an apologism for rape). Sex is at its best when it is a union between equals (or play-acting dominant and submissive roles). It is a congress of mutual, communal pleasure. It becomes an ugly thing when one party is doing something against their will, is under coercion or duress, is not enjoying themselves to the greatest capacity or is in physical pain (unwanted pain: that distinction is important ;). When such is the case, that one enters the relations with an obvious superiority complex, they prevent themselves from experiencing the full beauty and glory of the act. So the ultimate perpetrator, the one which deserves most of the blame, is the edifice, the structure within which all this brainwashing and the terrible lessons and psychologies it perpetuates. The victims are the precious young minds that have been mentally crucified upon the cross of the previous generation’s ignorance.

 (That being said, the folks at this new church know how to put on one hell of a potluck. Numerous side dishes, meat (including god-damned AMANGQINA!!(cow shins & hooves, a local delicacy) and one hell of a dessert to top it off – that has to have been the best potluck of my life thus far!)

[P.S. God damn! It's been more than a year since I last posted here! Well, in that time I've gone through some downs, and more recently a few ups. I was in the doldrums for quite a while, since before I started this blog, in fact. It really intensified last  year, and I frankly couldn't find the old creative spark that burned for so short a while. I may not fully be out yet, let's just wait and see. I'm going to be using this blog from now on as a bit of self-therapy. I've put aside the dreams of becoming  some black atheist Moses who will bring the Children of Africa out of the darkness of religion. I'll be happy enough just to put my thoughts down in print and out to the world, and maybe discover who I am again. Oh, and also share some of the awesome metal I've got myself acquainted with ;P]

[P.P.S. Update on my personal life: I'm still in the closet. I'm also back home in Zimbabwe, since last year in fact, though I moved to another city this year. University keeps being pushed further back; hopefully I'll be going next year. In the meantime, I'm doing a computer engineering diploma course in the equivalent of an American community college.]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sabbathh School 28/01/12 - Wishing ain't gonna make it so

So my parents were playing last week's audio Sabbath School lesson last Friday. It could not be avoided - I had to stick around and listen as well. The title for the lesson was "The God of Grace and Judgment", and it had so many things wrong with it I simply could not pass it up. They did creation/evolution two weeks ago, but they said the same old doo-doo they always say about it. I've covered that before, and I don't want to sound like a broken record criticising the same crap over and over again.

Anyway, the lesson began with an illustration which went thus:

A soldier stood next to an old man about to be executed. He was guilty of being the “wrong” race and religion, nothing more. As the soldier raised his gun, his victim said, “Do you know that there is a God in heaven who sees all this, and who will one day judge you for your actions?”

The soldier then shot the old man dead.

This is, in many ways, a prime example of a secular society. Not a secular government (a government that does not promote one religion over another), but a secular society, one in which there is no higher standard than the rules of the society itself. It’s a society with no sense of transcendence, no sense of a higher authority, no sense of God or of a moral standard greater than anything human. It’s a society where humans take the place of God, a society where the only judgment one faces is the judgment of one’s peers or of one’s own conscience (whatever’s left of it, anyway).

According to the Bible, however, the old man was right: there is a God in heaven, and He knows all things and He, indeed, will bring everything into judgment.

I don't know about you, but I was personally offended when I heard this. I do not see how a person shooting another person who said there is a god is in any way illustrative of a secular society. What if the shooter was serving his own - wait, that is the crux of my argument against this idiotic, piece of crap illustration, I'll get to it later. Let me pick on this first:

It’s a society with no sense of transcendence, no sense of a higher authority, no sense of God or of a moral standard greater than anything human. It’s a society where humans take the place of God, a society where the only judgment one faces is the judgment of one’s peers or of one’s own conscience (whatever’s left of it, anyway).

Well, I suppose anyone who's read this blog before should know where I stand on this - no, there is no transcendence, no higher authority and no god! There is no evidence for any such thing, and sincerely wishing for them will not make them true. That "humans take the place of god" line is a meaningless cheapshot, and the fact is that the only judgement we can ever face is that which society hands down upon us.

I understand why one would wish for more. Some may find it impossible to face each day without the assurance that the injustices of this world are ultimately going to be repaid in kind. Human beings can’t see everything, and not every wrong done is going to be revealed and punished, and it’s tempting to want to believe there is some entity that exists outside the timeflow that notices everything and will mete out the punishment mortals were unable to. But no matter how hard one may wish for it, no matter how hard one may clap their hands, there facts of this reality will still remain. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air and running to the insubstantial comfort of imaginary entities, why not resolve to stand with your fellow human beings and resolve to work together to root out the injustices and bring the collective judgement of society down upon them. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, standing in the way of the progression towards a more just society.

The sort of “only God can judge” mentality fostered by the mindset shown in the above excerpt (note: I am not saying that that is what is directly espoused in the excerpt, only that it is a natural progression of it, one which is followed all too many times) has some directly harmful consequences too. Deep Thoughts catalogues numerous cases every week of sexual abuse by so-called holy men: pastors, youth leaders and the like. Nearly always, the most damning thing about these cases is the reaction of the churches these criminal excuses for human beings led. Instead of co-operating with authorities, condemning the offenders’ behaviour or even simply apologising to the victims, they most often choose to maintain total silence, sometimes even expressing their outright support for the offender and wilfully hindering the authorities. And this isn’t just the already very well-known and widely publicised Catholic clergy scandals and subsequent coverups I’m talking about: most of the cases Mojoey covers are mainline protestant denominations(including Seventh-Day Adventists. Read the comments section of that link). But it’s all good, hey? God is going to judge them, so what does it matter if they escape Earthly retribution?

Now comes my real sticking point over this particular illustration. The author gives the story of the old man being shot for being “the wrong race and wrong religion” as an example of a secular society. Question: in which secular society has this ever happened? Each and every time in history people have been killed for being the “wrong race and wrong religion” it has been at the hands of another group of religious people who themselves believed they were doing the bidding of their god. More particularly, the most prominent example of this which has happened during the time since firearms were invented is most obviously the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis. Even if it was not the example the writer wished to put forward, the Holocaust no doubt sprang to the fore of most peoples’ minds due to the widely spread misconception people seem to have that the Nazis’ philosophies were atheistic. And yet, as most skeptics and anyone who has properly studied the history of Nazi Germany will tell you, the Nazis and Hitler himself were, if not directly religiously motivated, made use of religious propaganda and the churches to stir up hatred for the Jews, the Roma and other “undesirable” minorities.

The fact that the Sabbath School Study Guide’s writer, Cliff Goldstein is himself Jewish only serves to exacerbate the scale of this example’s error. It sounds to me very unlikely that Goldstein was unaware of the facts of what happened during the Holocaust, or of the obvious link to it people would draw regardless of whether or not he was directly referring to it. Whichever way one cuts it, this example is, consciously or unconsciously, slanderously dishonest.

The second issue I have a problem with comes in the study section for Thursday. In this section, we see this being said:

Looking around at the world, we shouldn’t have a problem understanding the idea of judgment and condemnation. One doesn’t have to be a believing Christian to realize that something is radically wrong with humanity. Who can’t see what a royal mess, even disaster, we’ve made of things? Maybe we cry so hard at birth because, instinctively, we know what’s coming. “I cried when I was born and every day shows why,” a poet wrote. Who can’t relate? Who hasn’t himself or herself been the victim of just how greedy, selfish, and mean people can be? Or who hasn’t at some point been the greedy, selfish, and mean one?

You know, all sorts of people, from friends to strangers, Christians, Muslims, so-called “agnostics” and less strident atheists ask me all the time why I’m so vocal in opposing religion. Simply put, it’s attitudes as expressed in this excerpt, and various overtones laid throughout the lesson. The vibe you get from reading it is one of defeatism, of ultimate unfaith in one’s fellow human beings, the feeling that society is in a downward spiral from which it can never pull up. Well, first of all, this view of humanity is factually wrong. Humanity is now as it has ever been: capable of both good and evil. The decay envisioned by many religious conservatives is in equal parts imagined and the consequence of greater connectivity and communication. News travels fast nowadays, and shocking news is by far the most popular and therefore we tend to hear more about it. We think murder, rape, violence and sundry other crimes are increasing in frequency because the frequency of which we hear about them is increasing. And yet, per head, there are fewer people dying violently today than in previous eras.

The media’s sensationalism is causing the rise in alarmism,...yet I welcome it. I welcome that we get to hear about the crimes which were so studiously hidden and never spoken about in ages past. I welcome it, because it brings them to the light, gives us reason to be outraged by them. I welcome it because it enables us to see our enemy, so that we can work to defeat it and to change our circumstances.

And yet, that excerpt tells us that we cannot change them. It forces on us a spirit of defeatism and complacency, for if only God can change us, what reason do we have to even try? Why should we work for global peace and unity if some magic man in the sky is going to wiggle his fingers and do it for us? That is my greatest gripe with religion, that it breeds malignant mistrust in those it infects, and that it turns them into the biggest stumbling block to ever changing the situation we find ourselves in. I’m not saying that once religion dies the path will be clear, no. Other sources of herd-mentality intolerance and alarmism will remain, as well as humanity's own capacity for both good and evil, which we probably will never be able to fully banish. But the mountain in our path will have been worn down and we will be able to glimpse the brighter future that lies ahead of us.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy new year!

Alright, I know I'm over a week behind the curve, but I have a good excuse, which I will choose to keep to myself. Be still and know that I am Joe.

I had a very eventful last week of 2011 - I attended a youth camp in Durban, South Africa organised by the Botswana Union of the Seventh Day Adventist church. I was initially reticent about the prospect of going when Mother first asked me about it, but I later figured "fuck it, it's Durban, why the hell not?" In the end asides from all the Jesus-ness, the horrible rooms we were staying in and the all-veg diet, it really wasn't so bad. I got to see the sea for the first time, managed to buy a few books I've been yearning for while there and generally got to relax, unwind and refresh.

As for the content of the camp...well, it was your usual revival seminar fare. There were daily sermons and prayer sessions, as well as a few workshops scattered here and there. The workshop I chose to attend was "Destined for excellence", which was chock-full of meaningless slogans, catchy mnemonics and sweet, inspirational nothings. In other words, it was just like every other motivational routine in existence, only with a lot more biblical references and perhaps more uniquely, quotes from Ellen White's works, "Spirit of Prophesy". The workshop presenter was as cute as a button, though, so not all was lost.

There was one young preacher there about whom I found myself thinking that phrase so many of us freethinkers have heard applied to us at some time or other: "what a waste". He was one of the most eloquent and entertaining speakers I have heard in a long time. His anecdotes and analogies in particular, which dealt with things almost everyone in the audience could relate with, were absolutely priceless, and had me chuckling regardless of whether I agreed with his point or not. I found myself thinking about how far the cause of freethought and even science literacy would advance if we had just one speaker like him here in Africa and an organised platform for him to use. And it got me thinking even further: if it were not for his religious upbringing, would he have turned out to be such a good speaker? For a lot of us - many, perhaps even most (myself included), our first and sometimes only experience of speaking in front of a crowd was in church. Adventists in particular will relate - holding Sabbath School, preaching on children's day - these were a big part of our growing up. The same goes for music - it is no mere coincidence that many of the most successful secular musicians of our day testify to having started singing in church.

Now, I'm not about to say religion is all good and wonderful and we should all appreciate it because it gives kids such confidence and nurtures their skills, I am simply acknowledging this fact - this is one of the few things a lot of us have to thank outr religious upbringing for. But, like with all of religion's positive points, there is a better way. The area of discovering and nurturing talent in these areas is one where I believe schools should take a major role. Right from the beginning of Primary education, children should be given opportunities to speak, sing or play instruments in public, in front of a supportive audience. School recitals and talent shows should take the place of church worship programs. The cultivation of talents in an environment where the mind is also learning about the world around it is the best possible environment for producing brilliant, well-informed speakers and artists.

Phew! Good to get that off my chest. Anyway, I survived the whole thing without having a stupid outburst over something blindingly inaccurate or obviously unconscionable that was said (of which there were many), mainly thanks to the patient ear of my one theist friend to whom I am able to talk freely about my worldview regardless of whether we agree - yes, you, buddy. You know yourself. Being able to air my views is a therapeutic experience, without which I would long have snapped. I saw the new year in while in a que for snacks and a terrible looking fruit salad at the so-called "banquet" on the last night of the camp, followed soon afterward by a desultory fireworks show at which I am surprised no one was killed.

So, that's it. That's my recounting of the final week of my 2011. Now, we look to the future. This year, I am refraining from publishing my resolutions thanks to the disaster I made of them last year. Only I know what they are, which will save me some embarrassment. All I can tell you is tat they are a lot more specific, realistiic and within my control than last year's were, so hopefully I will prevail. I'll only tell you what they were if and when I succeed.

Thanks to you all for reading this long ramble, and I wish you all an awesome 2012. I leave you with the awesome music I was listening to all throught the week before last - most particularly I want to highlight Technical Death Metal band Obscura's album Omnivium.

Everyone's Favorite Christian Metalcore Band, from their latest album Dead Throne:


French Deathgrind band Benighted, from their album Asylum Cave

And last but not least, some Obscura. Every single track from this album was a masterpiece. I can credit this band as the one that got me to love the sound of the guitar.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

National Day of Theocracy, more like

I was in the room while my parents were watching the Hope Channel yesterday evening when a show called Global Faith and Freedom, which discusses issues of religious liberty came on. The topic of discussion was the issue of the National Day of Prayer in the United States. It was really more of a circle jerk than a debate, with the host and all three guests masturbating over how awesome and good and totally not unconstitutional the Day of Prayer is, which left me thinking "what's the point of all of this, anyway?"

I wasn't listening much while I was in the room, and wound up having to leave because every word I did hear was really just driving me mad, but I do believe there was some side issue they were discussing, more about the exclusion of certain religious groups from official proceedings at the White House or Pentagon or wherever raising concern about the neutrality of the government. I think this discussion completely missed the point - separation of church and state is not simply about not supporting one faith group above all others, or hindering one against all others, and is definitely not about supporting all religions equally. The state should have nothing at all to do with supporting religion. The issue has been raised before about such events excluding a significant and ever growing segment of the population - those who have no religion - not to mention that it draws unnecessary time and resources.

I was a bit surprised at the stance the program took on the issue. Such ecumenical "uniting of faiths" is just the sort of thing I would have expected Seventh-Day Adventists to be dead set against, what with the fact that the end will be brought about by the Antichrist forming just such a union of religions. I wonder, is this apparent cognitive dissonance brought about by the usual Christian priviledge, or is it out of some gleeful subconscious desire to accelerate the "end times".