And a surprisingly quiet one, but for the odd premature firework.
And a surprisingly quiet one, but for the odd premature firework.
Well much has happened since the Iron Lady’s death. The Boston Bombings, the woolwich murders, alleged chemical weapons in Syria… can the world get any worse? (Your mileage may vary on gay marriage, though. Or the re-introduction of Power Girl’s “boob window”.)
In other words, plenty to write about.
I’ve also managed to get most of my college work out of the way, which is one possible excuse for not updating this blog. I am supposed to be finishing CCNA stuff off- that’s the industry qualification provided by the company that makes all the networking equipment. And I’ve jobs to apply for- plenty to keep myself busy. In theory, at least.
But eventually we shall see some real meaty updates. 100% prime cuts I would like to hope. Including my thoughts on what might constitute the ideal democracy (very difficult to conceive of), the collective madness of society, and maybe some questions as to my own sanity, too.
Well, hopefully. One of these days.
Watch this space, anyway.
So Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister, the so-called “Iron Lady”, has died today. And whilst some persons (including of course Cameron) are on TV waxing lyrical about how great she was and how much she will be missed, the people who were just waiting to use her grave as a urinal are already leaping for joy and coming out with the hate. Truly the Marmite of politicians.
Whilst it lasts, here’s a Youtube clip from the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ showing a certain song. Whilst it lasts, see how many of the comments are inspired by the passing Baroness….
Respect for the dead you’d have thought might be in order, but not a bit of it. I guess the handling of the miners’ strike, her reputation in Northern Ireland, calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and the Poll Tax -sorry Community Charge- all do that.
But can’t it wait a bit, at least?
2012- what a year. A crazy one, which perhaps I should go over in another post. Many big occasions (Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Olympics in London…) good and bad things (civil war in Syria, school shootings…)
But nonetheless, let’s just celebrate another year, a new start, in which hopefully bad habits might yet be broken (yes I know, believe it when we see it and all that…) Let’s just enjoy the moment, for now, as the last fireworks blast their way to a short but beautiful end.
Happy 2013, dear readers!
Well, another month has passed, the mad pre-Christmas rush, plus the day itself, is over. (The world, contrary to what crazy New Age misinterpreters of Mayan calendars might have had us believe, is not, however.) Technically it’s still Christmas, but few seem to be that bothered during the lull between Boxing Day and New Year. When the latter comes, it’ll be time to put to bed any misguided ideas about Old Year’s Resolutions and start thinking how to make some ones for the New one.
And I said I was going to make some and update you on them.
Mentally of course I wanted to do loads- spend more time with God and reading the Bible, studying harder, wasting less time on the internet, buy less useless crap- but I never formalised any. Such, as one member of my church did remind me, is perhaps tantamount to legalism, when we as Christians ought to be free and not trying to live by rules- even self-imposed ones- to the letter. Probably quite right, but the bad habits need fixing and new ones put in it’s place.
About the only one I managed to keep up to now is, “Don’t buy any more comics.”
Yes, that’s it.
Not that this is a bad thing. At £2.40 a time, not to mention the danger of possibly forming obsessions of the wrong kind where Supergirl and Power Girl are concerned, it can’t be entirely a bad thing. Not that I haven’t tried reading other sorts of stuff, and haven’t tried enjoying it for the storyline.
Magazines I have almost kept to not buying to- until the allure of the Christmas Radio Times proved too much to resist. And the latest monthly special of the Micro Mart soon followed, as it might contain useful info on possible computing bargains and new tech to come- as a would-be budding IT person it would be wrong not to at least try to keep up. Possibly with a more up-to-date means than a paper magazine, but they have their uses. There is plenty of room for the old stuff.
Whilst I am being worried by that Sushil Yadav guy on the Powerswitch forums (look him up if you dare) suggesting “Industrial society Destroys Mind and Environment”- and that the only decent thing we can do is cut all production back to food, clothing, shelter and that’s it (yeah right) or the warnings of impending food crises elsewhere, plus the dreaded Fiscal Cliff that the States might fall over and lead to further economic turmoil nationally and internationally, perhaps it could be a wake-up call. Or perhaps I should not be worried so much as all that. Yet materialism I wonder could be going too far, no less so in my case.
But, as we learned a week ago gone Friday, it’s still not the end of the world, yet. And I hope we can make 2013 a slightly worthwhile New Year. I wish you all a good one.
Again we come to the end of another year… nearly. In fact we’ve actually got just short of another whole month before its end. The trouble is it seems to have gone awfully quickly, and I feel my life is little better now than it has been for the past quite a number of years. So, I’ve been thinking- instead of waiting a whole ‘nother month before making New Year’s Resolutions, how about finishing the old year the way you mean to go on? If one is really to make such a radical difference, why not start now and not wait until some arbitrary start-over time, which perhaps means you aren’t really serious?
It’s not just the problems in my own life I need to get right, of course- whether that be putting ten times more effort into job-seeking and college work, doing stuff round the house and maybe even this blog. And spending less, and drinking less, and wasting time on the internet a heck of a lot less. I’ve been wondering about how screwed up the world is. I amongst all the arguments I’ve been having on YouTube about the merits or otherwise of free-market capitalism as opposed to Marxism and everything in between, wondering about the ongoing economic turmoil and the hopeless state of politics, whether we ought to remain in the EU or not, &c., it rather strikes me that there is something very wrong. Even if we are to assume that capitalism has played its part in development and reducing poverty- yet we should still realise there are still a lot of desparately poor people in the world, a lot of environmental damage, and that business is taking its share of the blame. But what drives business? Us. It only exists as long as someone is buying its good and services, if people want what it has to offer, or allow ourselves to be conned into believing so. I wonder what all these campaigns, all this politicking and so on is really doing. We need to change first. So, perhaps there is an even greater need to make a real difference than just personal ones.
Of course one can hardly escape a certain festival already being hyped up as part of Phase 2 of the silly season. And we are once again needing to be challenged as to whether it should really be about the baby in a manger who would grow up to be nailed to a tree, or the portly chap with the white beard, red coat and reindeer. And another video, being shared by a certain friend on a certain social networking site, certainly makes me wonder all the more. And whether we need a paradigm shift in the way we think. The video, by the way, is here:
Really the two representative figures could not be more different. One represents ultimate self-sacrifice and selflessness, and moreover, of the God we Christians are supposed to understand. The other represents the secular (if not pagan), materialistic, worldly side of things, that if it is selfless at all, gives to its own and rewards only those it thinks deserve it. (The man who died on the tree did it to redeem those who certainly deserved nothing of the sort.)
All this digresses of course from the somewhat trivial idea of making a few small resolutions in order to improve one’s own life. Perhaps indeed though one ought to start somewhere. The question is, exactly where? I shall perhaps give myself a little time to think about it, and return to it in another post in a day or two. Meanwhile, I must start by doing something positive and serious before the next 24 hours is up.
Meanwhile, a question- what would your Old Year’s Resolutions be? What suggestions do you have for mine? How would you have them not just to change your own life, but impact on others and maybe the world? (If we start small, it might build up…)
And by the way, the baby in the manger who grew up to be nailed to a tree and die is, of course, Jesus. I would suggest He also didn’t stay dead, but rose to new life, so that we too, could die and live again. That, I contend, is the essence of real change. The thing is, do we trust Him to do that? (If, indeed, some of us believe in Him at all?)
This is now the time of year where Halloween, Bonfire Night and Commercial Christmas all come upon us in one fell swoop. and this is the point where the collective madness gets into full swing.
Firstly, the shops display all manner of “spooky” Halloween related goods. Maybe some of the symbolism is really spooky- I mean, think about what those Jack-O’Lanterns really look like. And there is invariably an obsession with the dark and the macabre- withces, vampires, ghosts and all.I would rather not see this stuff plastered absolutely everywhere- severy shop, library, college and whatnot. You can’t get away from it.
I’m not even going to start on the alleged pagan connections, since I know little about the real facts, and all I will say about the macabre obsession is obsessing over the dark and evil seems unhealthy to say the least. If it isn’t linking in with the supernatural, indeed demonic. Just a bit of fun? Maybe. Or maybe not.
And then there are bound to be a few kids trying to knock on your door pestering you for money or sweets. Hence why I have all the lights off bar one- then they might think no-one’s in and it’s not worth bothering. Some wonder if letting kids out on their own on a dark noght is even a good idea, though this could be paranoid.
Either way, I sometimes wish I could ban the whole thing. Maybe that is an over-reaction, but I’d rather have the right NOT to see evidence of this sort of thing everywhere I go, thanks.
And then there’s always going to be one or two nutters who will insist on setting off fireworks at any time of the day or night, possibly with no regards to safety, even though it’s not November the 5th. thankfully I’ve only heard one or two this year- it’s actually getting better. Then, when you get to the night itself, I could swear the whole town turns into something closely resembling a war-zone, only with pretty lights. This does scare small animals, folks. Do bear that in mind.
And why exactly does the material worship that is commercial Christmas have to begin in October? If not September? Ah well, there’s plenty of Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) at Lidl… but I’m supposed to be on a diet. (Yeah, right.) and maybe mulled wine. Why isn’t this stuff available year-round?
End rant. It really was pretty un-profound and almost content-free this time.
EDITED: since me and dieting really don’t mix, and I therefore made a slip-up.
More on my series on religion and moral awkwardnesses (if I can bring myself to write it, it’s hard), the odd extra wry reviews of random anime, and maybe I should do a post on a certain major sporting event taking place in a major city in the South-East of England. It’s rather topical.
When I can be ars… erm, bothered to write them.
Taking time aside from weightier matters of faith and morals, I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on a short and rather silly anime I just picked up on Amazon recently. (Yes, I’m getting into anime at the moment and, just because I’m even more insane than you thought, I got it on VHS.)
First, a short quiz.
Let’s assume for a moment you’re a young Japanese guy named Koji Sujimoto, you live in Tokyo, and (if I recall the plot right) you’re engineering student with a part-time trucking job to pay your way through college. One evening, just as you’ve done your rounds for the day and are about to go on a big date with the girlfriend you haven’t seen for a while (seeing as Daddy packed her off to old Blighty to study) and are still crazy about after all this time (h yes, and she’s going back tomorrow), you and your friend discover a mysterious piece of military hardware which inadvertently found its way into the back of your truck. As far as you can see, it could be any old junk, not necessarily a cutting-edge mechanised battle-suit capable of dispatching whole squadrons of tanks with ease, but then again, you’re curious to find out. What do you do?
a. Inform the authorities straight away like the responsible citizen you are, and wait for them to pick it up. After all, you don’t know what it is, or what it’s capable of- all sorts of trouble could happen if it fell into the wrong hands. Don’t worry about the girl- she’ll understand.
b. Leave the thing in storage, and go off to see your girl. Tell the authorities later. It’s risky, but you won’t see her again for a while and the relationship may go cold on you…
c. Have a tinker around with the thing- go on, you might as well. Then get trapped inside because you’ve only barely read the manual and don’t have a clue how the thing works, and then go off on a mad rampage around the city leaving a trail of destruction in your wake; because despite the fact you’re trapped in an unweildy hunk of metal which you’ve no idea to operate and have the military on your tail thinking you’re a potential terrorist, it’s been three years and you’ll be darned if you don’t make that date!
Guess which option our man Koji-san chooses.
Despite the fact any truly sensible chap would have chosen option a. or b. (depending on whether the safety of the world or your girl is more important), Sujomoto opts for the last one, given he’s young, foolish and curious, not to mention the audience has been promised some crazy badass mecha-mayhem and the running time is only 41 minutes long.
Off he goes destroying half of Tokyo, smashing straight through numerous shops and trying to grab something to eat (try that in a bulky battle suit? Doubtful…) and literally cutting up someone’s car when he gets stuck in traffic. All the while being pursued by mad Lt. Kilgore who sees this as his opportunity to destroy the MADOX just to prove he can, it having been able to defeat him in tests, the police, JSDF and US Marines (if I recall right). And eventually, in a complete reversal of traditional gender roles, he ends up getting rescued by a woman named Elly.
No, this is not a surprise, I’m just having you on- she’s the designer and test pilot of the thing, also the one who beat Kilgore in the tests, and this has already been well established in the plot at the start. As such, she’s pretty much the only one who can get a real handle on the situation and seems to be the only sensible main character in it- but for the possibly fanservicey brief hint of nudity and the fact she gets taken out of action later, one might almost be forgiven for thinking it’s a feminist deconstruction especially given the two main main characters are a hapless fool and a crazed psycho.
Having given away most of the plot already, I won’t spoil the ending.
Of course perhaps it’s not too difficult to see how a young man with interests the way Koji does would be curious about some strange new tech, and get more than he bargained for, and perhaps when you’re in love you do crazy things. Though how something falls off the back of one truck and conveniently into another I don’t know, and one might have thought top priority when you’ve a military force trying to hunt you down might well be, well, survival, I don’t know. Or the fact that Koji is bound to spend half of the rest of his life in jail is barely touched upon. But there you go.
I’ve seen worse contrivances, which I seem to be making a much bigger deal of in this than is really necessary. It’s just a thought that struck me. I could get onto Jeeves and Wooster, but that’s a whole ‘nother post in itself.
Anyway, onto the serious review bit.
At the end of the day this is a fairly entertaining though disappointingly short feature which perhaps leaves you feeling . The character designs are a little unrealistic compared to many more modern productions, but pretty well animated I guess. The story is fairly believable compared to some I’ve heard of, and the sort of mechs we’re talking about seems realistic enough- whether it would be so much better than tanks I don’t know. And a mech story that doesn’t involve war for once. Does it need more room for character development? Maybe, but I didn’t see it. The characters are developed enough for the story to do what it needs to do. Could there have been more successful attempts at humour? Perhaps, given the crazy situation (hapless guy trapped in battle suit without a clue) described in the blurb. Is it forgettable or an underated gem, unjustly forgotten in Japan? Probably aiming more towards the former, quite understandably, but worth a look.
Maybe I’ll try to review some more stuff, when I actually bother to watch any. (Out of all I’ve got I’ve seen Patlabor 1 (realistic mech stuff without much action, more police drama/political/techno thriller, somewhat slow and philosophical), part of Patlabor 2 (more of the same), Space Adventure Cobra (somehat puply, daft sci-fi fare, entertaining but with a bit of a bittersweet ending and too much artistic nudity), Millennium Actress (a bit different, about an ageing movie star’s recollections and futile search for lost love) and parts of Project A-Ko episodes 5 and 6 (very silly comedy/parody type thing which doesn’t follow on from the previous episodes, which I’ve not seen This will probaly go out.) and Bubblegum Crisis episodes 1-3. To go: Metropolis, rest of Patlabor 2, Lupin the Third: The Secret of Mamo and a couple I borrowed off my sister (Steamboy and Voices of a Distant Star). Also got something called Key the Metal Idol (story sounds vaguely Pinoccio-esque, but with a female robot?) coming in the post, when the Royal Mail or appropriate courier ever decides to deliver. Maybe I’ll even get around to watching Arrietty as well (yes, my tastes are pretty eclectic) and one or two other Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli ones in my sister’s collection again. Anyway, enough rambling.
DISCLAIMER: Anything meant relating to gender roles was purely a joke and does not constitute anything to understanding of the plot. Or anything to do with my views on feminism (just wait, I’ll get onto that soon enough).
Also apologise for any misuse of Japanese honorifics, though I don’t think I’ve done this.
And yes, I did go on about nudity as if it were a bad thing- maybe I’m wrong, and perhaps a hypocrite in some areas given my past- but let’s not go there!
Now I have other, much better and perhaps more interesting or amusing things I could be talking about on this blog. But after reading a certain post on a certain blog, and having got into heated arguments in the comments section of that post with the blog’s author, and on a certain discussion forum elsewhere on the internet having come across much the same sort of issue, I feel like it is about time I addressed certain issues which, to say the least, are going to be pretty divisive.
(And yes, after reading the above, some of my readers are wondering what the bleeping heck I am on about. Why can’t this guy just write clearly?)
It is often the criticism made of atheists and skeptics that ‘religion’ is pretty much the cause of most or all of the world’s problems, responsible for all manner of wars, injustices and atrocities. And whilst indeed what is commonly called religion has played a contributing factor in many of these things, often it is given far more credit than it deserves. It’s not like mankind has not managed to commit wars, injustices and atrocities completely independently of religion, after all, and may or may not even have tacked on religion as an excuse. Think about it: were the Troubles in Northern Ireland, say, a conflict concerning Protestants and Catholics? Or about whether Northern Ireland should be part of Britain, or part of the Republic of Ireland? And what about Emperor Constantine, the man who is credited with making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, really conquering by the sign of and in the name of Christ? Or was he just using the faith for political gain and as a convenient way of uniting the already fractious empire? And did that act, ultimately, do more to damage the perception of the faith than anythng else in history? After all, it is a sad thing when something which is supposedly not of this world, which is supposed to stand headlong against all the world’s evil, corruption and wickedness, is co-opted by it and used to justify that very evil?
Or is that really so?
Because it is also the same criticism of those atheists and skeptics that said Christianity in particular, whilst supposedly claiming to be all about love and righteousness, is anything but, and that its foundational documents, that collection of writings called the Holy Bible, is full of all manner of atrocities including slavery, genocide, oppression of women and more.
The trouble is, on the face of it they might seem to be right.
Yet in ways, not all is as it seems. For instance, many of these allegations prove to be completely unfounded when you understand the text for what it really is, the context of the ancient world (which let’s not forget was not only operating under much different constraints to now, but did not and cannot be expected to share all of our values and presuppositions about what is right), and so on. I don’t claim to understand everything about this of course, as I am no scholar or full-time apologist, but it certainly makes for enlightening reading. Yet other things, when viewed from a radically different angle, turn out not to be unspeakable evils, but perhaps unfortunate though necessary ones. In future posts I may try to address these issues in more depth, though time, space and willingness do not permit such in this one.
It might be also worth pointing out that many views the atheists and skeptics themselves tend to hold are far from perfect. I could mention certain things such as abortion, say, though at the same time I realise that particular issue is not simply divided by matters of faith. There are “pro-life” atheists and quite probably people of faith who are probably ‘pro-choice’. (Both of those terms are lacking.) I could mention the historical example of Marxist-Leninist communism, which also sought to do away with religion (and yes, a certain fellow-blogger who knows who she is, it was an atheistic value-system as well as a political ideology) in the name of providing a fairer and better world. At the same time, it is unfair to assume that all atheists are like the communists became, or to assume they share that political ideal. After all, Ayn Rand despised Communism and Christianity alike, in favour of an also extreme laissez-faire ideology the complete opposite of communism. I could use the example of Rand too, though I dare say many atheists despise her views too. But it all goes to show how rejection of religion does not imply whatever else we believe is automatically better.
And ultimately, I would like to show my faith as not one of evil but of good- of love shown to those whom all others have rejected, of sins forgiven, of the sick healed and the hungry fed and injustice replaced by justice. Of a God who is Love, not some vindictive and uncaring monster.
I very much doubt I can do it, but as the Apostle Peter said, “always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15, WEB)- and that is hope, not despair and disbelief.