Archive | December, 2012

It’s the end of the world as we know it

21 Dec

Has the world ended yet? Have you noticed any difference? Unless everything going on is a figment of my imagination, (but let’s not go there,) then all the gloomy prophets of doom have been shown to be idiots.
This is far from being a new phenomenon. When the year 1000 came around there were wild-haired prophets screaming that the world was about to end. If you really want to have a better look at that stuff, have a look at Tom Holland’s book, Millennium. When a significant proportion of the population were able to read the Bible in their native tongue, the followers of that insane drivel, the Apocrypha of St John the Divine, saw the end of the world at hand. Isaac Newton thought the world would end in the year 2000. The barmy army of Seventh Day Adventists have been predicting the end of the world since the middle of the nineteenth century and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have assumed their doomed mantle. This time it is the end of the Mayan calendar which has set the nutters off.
It makes you wonder what the motives of these people really are, or are people who spend their lives looking for signs and portents intrinsically crazy. Maybe it is just the search which drives them mad. Some are self-publicists and tub-thumpers, others see benefit from the destruction. The JWs think only a small band of core believers will survive and they will be able to inhabit the palaces of the wealthy. Besides the moral repugnance I hold for this belief, it does seem to indicate that God is some kind of neutron bomb wielding maniac. As for the assorted bunch of pillocks hanging around a French mountain because, errr, actually I have no idea what twisted logic drives them there, and really don’t care.
Let’s face up to it. We only have one life and we have to do the best we can with it, and try to enjoy ourselves a little bit on the way.
Oops, what was that noise like a mighty rushing wind? Oh, just a helicopter from the local army base. They don’t fly over more than three times a day.

Have a happy mid-winter feast type season and be excellent to one another.

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Freedom and the dead of Newtown

18 Dec

We are about to hear a lot about freedom from the gun lobby. They will be silent until after Christmas, but a counter attack is on the way. What we never hear from them is about responsibility. When you form a part of society you have responsibilities as well as rights and freedom. And what freedom do those twenty murdered children have? All their possibilities have been blown away. They no longer have freedom to do anything. No more children should have their freedom to live denied.
Speaking to the gun lobby, is your freedom to own a gun that is only fit to kill large numbers of people worth the price? What does your freedom consist of but the right to be a possible mass murderer? Or is it that you are a pathetic failure with a very small penis and this is the only way you can look big? (Or are you a career criminal?). There is no excuse for a civilian to own an assault rifle.
‘But it is enshrined in the Constitution,’ comes the reply. The right to bear arms was added at a time when the there were Redcoats running amok and a rapid response was required. As far as I know this particular threat went away quite a long time ago, or hadn’t you noticed? Even then, an American rifle could only fire two rounds a minute, and that when used by a skilled and experienced part-time soldier. That is a far cry from ten rounds a second. Such a rifle could be used for hunting as well as war. An assault rifle is only fit for killing large numbers of people in a short time, and it does not require a high level of skill to load and operate.
How many deaths will it take ‘till you know that too many people have died? I demand the freedom for children not to be shot by damaged individuals armed with battlefield weapons. I humbly suggest that you take your notional, antisocial freedom and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

Massacre of the innocents

17 Dec

I was just listening to a representative of the National Rifle Association on the radio, on BBC Radio 4 News. When asked what could be done to prevent such incidents as happened in Newtown he prevaricated and tried to suggest greater controls on people with mental health problems. Mental health problems come and go but an assault rifle is fairly consistently an assault rifle. Someone who was judged as normal can become dangerously unstable for no apparent reason. Asked if he would support restrictions on the ownership of battlefield weapons the representative replied that over three hundred million guns were legally held in the US and that tens of millions would fall into the category of battlefield weapons. In practice he was saying that nothing can be done, that the political will was not there to change things. He made a statement to the effect that any nut in a car can kill people. I wanted to punch him.
An assault rifle is a brilliantly designed and constructed device which is perfect for its job. That job is to kill people in large numbers with little effort and limited skill. If the troops of my nation are involved in military conflict I would want them equipped with such a tool of the trade. When it comes to private citizens owning these weapons, you really need to question the sanity of anyone who suggests that it is a good idea. There is always the economic clout of the arms manufacturers and their poodle, the NRA which wields undue influence in government. Numerically these are not that important, there are not that many people directly dependent on the arms industry and deluded, pathetic survivalists. It is easy enough to pass a suitable law and still get re-elected. Or are you apologists in Congress and the House complete moral vacuums?
Another excuse is that all citizens of the USA have the right to bear arms. This dates from the war of independence when Red Coats might come into your town at any time. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it has been quite a few years since any British soldiers were seen marching round Boston or Philadelphia. Just compare your right to bear arms with the children and teacher’s right to life in Newtown. It requires skill and strength to fire more than two bullets a minute from a musket or early rifle and nearly all the time you are reloading and vulnerable. An assault rifle can fire ten rounds a second. The old saying (from the NRA) that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, needs to be revised. People with guns kill people. It is just so much more efficient than a knife or a club. That is why such tragedies occur on such a scale. An attacker with a knife has to get up close and is likely to be overpowered after a few stabbings, but a gunman can keep his distance and keep on firing.
One last point I want to make is this, a child in the USA is fifteen times more likely to be shot than in ANY other comparable country. That’s not twice, not four times but FIFTEEN times more likely. Do you really want the freedom to watch innocent children being massacred again? Bring back strict controls on the ownership of battlefield weapons.

Christmas and all that stuff

11 Dec

I was five years old, nearly six, when my sister, nearly three years older, ratted on our parents and told me that there was no Father Christmas. She woke me up and told me that my father would come in about midnight with a pillowcase full of smaller presents. And so I was awake and able to watch the ceremony through barely open eyes in the semi-dark. My parents maintained the fiction and did not realise that they had been rumbled. It seemed cruel to let them know that I knew, so I maintained the fiction that I believed. I observed the same behaviour from the daughter of a friend when I played Father Christmas at the Christmas Fair for the local primary school. This girl was well aware who I was, but never breathed a word. So why do we maintain this deception? The general wisdom is that we do it for the children!

Let’s not pretend that there is any serious connection between a midwinter festival and a Christian Religious holiday. There is nothing in the gospels to indicate the time of year the birth occurred. It was only during Roman times that it was placed in the calendar around the shortest day. The midwinter feast was yuletide, or just Yule. I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a merry yuletide. I have been complaining about the importation of Christmas iconography for decades now. Have a look at the illustrations in Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and observe that the Ghost of Christmas Past wears a green costume. This links in well to the myth of the Green Man. When I discussed this with a friend he slightly misunderstood what I was talking about, believing that I had been converted to some kind of wiccan belief. Is it really necessary to swap one illogical belief for another? The only benefit I can get from the old traditions is s sense of place. It might be rubbish, but at least it is our rubbish.