Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Monster comforts me. But this is driving me nuts!!

OK, I would normally not blog to blogs so close together (blog) but I have a burning question for everyone who doesn't read my blog.  These days one of the very few sources of joy for me is shaking my ass to my new Lady Gaga album.  Here's the thing though.  Regarding her song "Scheiße" she claims, via Twitter (or Facebook because fuck twitter, I don't roll like that yo!) that:

"I went to a dirty party in Berlin, and wrote SHEIßE the next day. It's about wanting to be bad without permission. "

OK so then I Googled it and for the first time since I searched for albino porn (stop judging me, it was to prove a point!!  Shut up!) I found that Google was unable to help me.  Apparently I'm the only person on the entire internet who doesn't know WTF a "dirty party" is or at least cares enough to ask.  Seriously, how can THE INTERNET not know?  This seems like the exact kind of thing the internet should be able to tell me dammit!!  So if you know a German (from Berlin preferably) and you chance upon this post, I beg you, put me out of my misery.  WTF is a dirty party????  Surely SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET MUST KNOW??!!

(But even with cruise control you still need to steer...)

UPDATE (05/06/2011):
Gumby suggested that a "dirty party" is the same thing as a "poo party".  No beer for you!  I'm currently rejecting that notion for the following very good reasons:

  1. That answer came from The Urban Dictionary which as a source of reliable information is about 1/16th as credible as Yahoo Answers.  I should note that UD didn't even have an entry for "dirty party", it was a redirect.
  2. Eeeuww!!!  No seriously, that's just too disgusting to be a real thing! (This reason courtesy of the last vestige of my innocence not yet destroyed by exposure to the interwebs)
  3. It may be a stereotype but I'm not ready to give up on my mental image of Germans as neat, clean, well organized people.  I mean ffs, they have a problem with dudes peeing while standing!
  4. Scheisse/Shit is used as an exclamation in the song, not as a noun as in "I, I wish I could be strong without the scheiße, yeah"
So then, until I see some hard proof showing otherwise I refuse to accept that a "dirty party" is the same thing as the UD definition of a "poo party".  Because seriously, eeeeeuwww!!!

UPDATE (17/06/2011):

Did some more online detective work and found another clue.  In this interview she gave the following background info to the song:

"This song I wrote right after I left Berlin. I went to the Laboratory club the night before, I had some fun with my friends then the next day I wrote 'Scheiße'. I meant it like 'shit, it's good.' But I also meant it the other way; because this song is really about wanting to be a strong female without all the bullshit that comes along with. Anything that gets in your way from being brave. It's not the only word I know, I just like that word. It's sexy."

I then googled the Laboratory Club in Berlin and while I still don't have a definition for a "dirty party" I'm also no longer sure I want one!  The Laboratory is a Gay sex club and from the sound of it, things get pretty wild in there!  Here is a sample review:

"LABORATORY is THE sex-club of the moment. Settled in the basement of a former electric power station, it has a huge and really hot labyrinth. You must get in at the indicated hours, then doors close and the party begins : all-naked on Thursdays, Fuck on Fridays,etc. Changing calendar to be consulted on their website.

Facilities and services
Video room
Fetish (leather, latex...)"

Kinda reminds me of this time someone described Freddy Mercury's birthday parties as the kind of thing you went to hell to for attending.  On second thought, I'm actually more curious than ever now!

Anyway, I also found these photos of Lady Gaga partying at the Laboratory.  Note that she doesn't appear to be covered in literal shit so unless you have pictures showing otherwise I'm still not listening to any scat party suggestions!

The Joy of Being Listened To

OK so maybe blogging when I'm halfway through a bottle of 10 year old white wine isn't such a good idea but then, neither was opening a bottle of white wine from 1997.  Clearly this is was never going to be night of good decision making.

Here's the thing.  I finally got my very own copy of Rob Bell's book "Love Wins".  Hardcover and everything, because I'm just classy that way.  I'm about half way through it and as usual when reading Bell I'm pretty depressed because I realize that I'm never ever ever ever going to be that good.  I know 65% of the Christian world disagrees with me on this but the man is an exceptional writer.  The kind I wish I could be.  But anyway, I'm digressing, probably because my playlist just went from Metallica to Tanita Tikaram.  I really ought to make less random playlists.

Anyway, here's the thing.  I just read an atheist blogger's review of "Love Wins".  Go ahead and check it out, it's reasonably spoiler free and far more positive than you would have probably expected.  One thing in particular struck me in that review.  Ahh, finally some Lady Gaga, my playlist loves me!  Where was I?  Oh, right the surprisingly positive review.  The Uncredible Halq said:

"Aside from agreeing with much of Bell’s message, I also enjoyed his book’s style. It reads like it was written by a preacher, in the best possible way. It reads like it was written by someone who’s made a living out of speaking to people week after week, and been very successful at it. It also reads like it was written by someone who’s used being listened to. Too often, I think, atheists get used to having people not listen, so we put too much energy into arguing with people who will never change their mind. Bell, though, just makes his points and doesn’t worry that some won’t agree."

OK, that last part.  That's what I'm talking about.  He talks like someone who is used to being listened to.


I wish I could do that.  Thing is I'm not used to being listened to at all!  I think that explains my blogging style.  Feels like a lot of it is me second guessing myself and arguing against my own point.  That's what people do when they are used to being ignored.  It blows.  Chunks.  Big ones.  Also why do I have 2Unlimited on my playlist??  What is wrong with me????

OK, listening to The Cure now, world is better.  Anyway I guess I don't really have a point.  I only wish that I could talk like someone who is used to being listened to, like someone who could just make a statement and people can take it or leave it.  I sometimes wish this blog could just reflect all the fucks I don't give, you know what I mean?

God bless spellchecker!!  No more red lines so I'm pressing "publish"!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reason to love Randomness #1: Bad things happening to good people

Last night Oom Eddie's car was stolen outside church.  If you are somehow new to this blog and can't be arsed to click on a link, Oom Eddie is the kindly gentleman I rent a room from.  As I mentioned before, Oom Eddie is one of the kindest, gentlest, most giving people I know.  I can think of no one who actually lives out the commands of Jesus the way he does.  I recently discovered that the reason our meat supply got so suspiciously low all of a sudden is because he started giving away packages of frozen meat to people who stop by begging for food.  Now having your car stolen sucks 5 kinds of ass but Oom Eddie is taking this pretty hard.  He is usually asleep by 8 but last night he was up till way past 11, alternately blasting Gospel and Simon & Garfunkel.  Turns out that against all reason he sees this as a punishment from God.  If you think that's weird, wait till you hear why.

See, due to his tender heart, the man likes to create work for the unemployed.  As such he gets his car washed so regularly I'm amazed it still has paint on.  Last month he had the house painted even though for the most part it certainly didn't need any paint.  That's when the trouble started though.  See the guy he hired to paint (and paid pretty well I might add) kept on showing up after all the painting was done demanding more work.  Now Oom Eddie is not a rich man and painting the house emptied his coffers and seeing as how the painting was pretty much just busywork in the first place there was nothing else to do around the house.  So, though I assume it was very hard for him, he told the worker in question (Elias) to go away because he had nothing left to give him and nothing for him to do.  Fast forward to last night.  Now, with the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus weighing heavily on his soul, he has come to the conclusion that God is punishing him for not helping Elias more.

All this reminded me of why I so happily embrace the random universe we live in.  I don't torture myself like this when something shitty happens because I don't think everything happens for a reason.  Well, technically everything does happen for a reason but my point is that most of those reasons have sweet screw all to do with me.  Tectonic plates move, pressure builds, earthquake happens.  It's not the anger of God or Karma or the retarded Law of Attraction, it's just the wheels of the universe turning.  Occasionally said wheels fling some shit your way.  It happens.  It's not to say that we aren't responsible for some of the things that happen to us.  But while some people get heart attacks because they live on deep fried bacon grease, others have heart attacks because of a genetic flaw.  So spare yourself as much shit as you can but live with the knowledge that you cannot stop it all.  Once you make peace with that it just hurts less.

Not I very popular message I grant you.  That's why things like The Secret, The Prayer of Jabes and the entire Word of Faith movement is so enduringly popular - people will grasp at any straw offering them control over an indifferent and uncontrollable universe.  For many, the illusion of control is better than the reality of no just how little we truly control.

Which is all a very roundabout way of saying that Elias is working on the tiles in the kitchen right now...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A little perspective

I saw this in my local news feed today and I just have to share it with all my friends in the northern hemisphere.  I know you all have many things you are rightfully upset about and for many of my readers, crazy religious people would be very high on that list.  Nevertheless I can't help but think this should put a lot of your issues into a new perspective.

"Malalane - A trial date is expected to be set on Thursday for 12 people arrested in connection with setting a pastor alight after accusing him of using a magic penis to sleep with women.

The nine men and three women, aged between 28 and 50 will appear in the Boschfontein periodical court in Mpumalanga on charges murder and arson.

The villagers, among them a community induna (headman), were  arrested on February 24 after Albert Malwane, a pastor of the Izwi Zion Christian Church, was burnt to death a day before.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said that Malwane had been dragged from his one-roomed house in the Etitandini informal settlement near Jeppes Reef south of Malalane and taken to a hill, where he was set alight.

Malwane's house was also burnt and his wife and daughter went into hiding.

Community members had accused him of talking to animals and using an invisible penis to sleep with women in the informal settlement.

They also accused his wife of turning into a snail and terrorising the community.

The villagers also complained that Malwane's family had used muti to make then sick after Malwane's death.

One of the accused had to be carried into the Boschfontein periodical court when the 12 appeared in court on April 8.

Timothy Malwane, the father of the deceased, believes a curse was released at the pastor’s funeral.

The 12 accused have not been asked to plea"

I swear I didn't make up a word of that.  Everything from the pastor with the magic penis to his wife the terror snail is verbatim from the report.

School boards wanting creationism in the syllabus and such, just don't look the way it used to, does it?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

With Neither a Bang nor a Whimper

So here we are.  Rather, I should say, here we are still.  Completely unsurprisingly Harold Camping's Rapture prediction failed miserably and the 2000 year track record of failed Armageddon prophecies remain untarnished.

I'm in a bit of a moral quandary though.  See when I first started seeing all the ads for the May 21st end of the world my first thought was "Oh yes please!  Come May 22 I'm going to mock the fuck out of these people!".  Then, as the day got closer I was reminded of my own childhood as a believer in the Rapture and how terrible a burden it was to live with (not to mention the constant fear that you've been left behind everytime you're home alone).  So I decided to change tactic, I was going to post a sweet Marilyn Manson Armageddon themed video (guaranteed to offend 7 kinds of Gehenna out of most Christians) and then post an addendum about how everyone should be offended, not by Mr Manson and his dirty words but at the real suffering caused by this scam masquerading as prophecy.

But now the day after the Rapture-that-wasn't is finally here and I don't even feel like doing that anymore.  Harold Camping left so much human wreckage in his wake that I just can't work up any kind of lighthearted response.  Families have been torn apart.  Old people are left without their life savingsPeople are dead.  None of this is funny.  You know what else is not funny?  The fact that the Family Radio cult is going to move forward largely unscathed.  I can know this for a fact because one of the greatest forms of prophecy known to man - science - guarantees it.

Strong beliefs - religious beliefs especially - are remarkably persistent in the face of disagreeable evidence, to the point where it can be well nigh invulnerable no matter how much evidence can be shown to contradict said belief.  In their article "On the Presumed Fragility of Unconventional Beliefs", David A Snow and Richard Machalek note:
"The devoted Christian ... and other millennial enthusiasts can maintain faith in unfulfilled claims by invoking the unfalsifiable belief that ultimately all the promised benefits will be provided."
So even when something that was guaranteed to happen doesn't happen, the true believer will typically find a way to keep believing that it will still happen at some later time.  So instead of letting go of the promised thing, they just adjust the time they expect to receive it in.  This is especially heartbreaking when it comes to faith healing. 

Another article, "When Prophecy Fails and Faith Persists: A Theoretical Overview" by Lorne L Dawson notes:
"Successful religious organizations have developed a variety of strategies for managing cognitive dissonance and preserving belief." 
He goes on to give some examples of these cognitive dissonance management tools:
"We can distinguish at least four kinds of rationalization: spiritualization, a test of faith, human error, and blaming others."

If I was a betting man (and thanks to my short and exciting career as a professional gambler you can bet that I am!!) I would put my money on Camping using both human error ("I got the maff wrong again!") and a test of faith to explain away his latest failure.  I expect to hear things among the lines that this failure was actually a blessing, that God is testing them and allowing the world to mock them for some obscure purpose.  I strongly doubt that they will blame any other group for this failure and I don't think many would go the SDA route and spiritualize their failure.  Whatever excuse they use I also think it's a fair bet that this entire scenario will replay itself on whatever new date Camping chooses.

UPDATE: 24 May 2011
Called it!  The new date for the Rapture according to Harold Camping is 21 October 2011
Boom goes the dynomite?
Thar she blows...?
OK I'm looking for a catchphrase but this is clearly not working out for me...

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Maff Proposal

You know what I really hate about tomorrow's (soon to be failed) Rapture prediction?  Well, lots of things really but one of the things that peeve me the most is when someone asks me how Mr Camping got to his Rapture date and I have to reply "he used some weird bullshit math".  Just saying that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  I like math.  To see it used like this is like watching someone play tennis with a Faberge Egg!  Nevertheless that's what he claims, the Wiki on it even calls it "mathematically-based prophecies".  If you enjoy math on any level you should find that implication offensive!  I mean just look at his "math":

"As early as 1970, Camping dated the Great Flood to 4990 BC.Taking the prediction in Genesis 7:4 ("Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth") to be a prediction of the end of the world, and combining it with 2 Peter 3:8 ("With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day"), Camping concludes that the end of the world will occur in 2011, 7000 years from 4990 BC.[6] Camping takes the 17th day of the second month mentioned in Genesis 7:11 to be the 21st May, and hence predicts the rapture to occur on this date.

Another argument that Camping uses in favor of the May 21st date is as follows:
According to Camping, the number five equals "atonement", the number ten equals "completeness", and the number seventeen equals "heaven".
    Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.
    If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.
    The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days.
    51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.
    (5 × 10 × 17)2 or (atonement × completeness × heaven)2 also equals 722,500.

Thus, Camping concludes that 5 × 10 × 17 is telling us a "story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we're completely saved."" 

How is that even remotely "mathematically-based"?  He's clearly making shit up as he goes along!  So I propose we find a different word for this kind of travesty.  I had this conversation with my cousin the other day and he suggested we call it "Maff".  It sounds like "math" except pronounced by a really stupid person - which sums it up nicely I think.  Whenever someone uses numerology and gives imaginary significance to certain numbers in order to make up a bullshit formula to come to a ridiculous conclusion (end of the world, aliens landing or whatever) they are doing maff, not math.

So how about it?  Sound reasonable to you?  Then please try and work it into conversation so it can get into common usage.  That way people can start saying "Harold Camping uses maff based prophecies" and I would be OK with that because that would be true.  Lets keep mathematics unsullied by lunatics please!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Debunking Dr Davidson's Cure-All

I have a product to sell you.  You simply plug it into any wall socket and it maintains your house for you.  Your lightbulbs won't burn out, your drains won't get clogged, there won't be any shorts in the house's wiring and the roof will stop leaking and the paint won't peel ever again.  Best of all, your appliances won't break down anymore, your door hinges won't squeak and you will never have to defrost your fridge again!  There is even anecdotal evidence that it will stop food from burning on your stove!  Interested?

Before you answer, check out this other product I have.  You add one can to your car's oil tank and it will totally keep your car healthy!  You'll get better mileage, your tires won't run down, the wiper blades won't crack, the battery will never go flat and the engine will never get flooded or overheat!  Not only that but the windscreen would be protected against cracks, chips and misting up!  Best of all, your radio will always have crystal clear reception!  Want to buy it?

Well I'm hoping* you answered, "Yes I would love to have those products (who wouldn't?!) but there is no way you can sell me something like that because such things cannot possibly exist!  Cars/homes are complex entities with a wide variety of mechanical, electrical and chemical systems - there is no way in unholy Hades that one product could take care of all of those things!"  And you would be completely right, there is no way such a product could exist.  You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to see that such claims are total bullshit, surely anyone who read that, realized I was full of shit*!

Yes, anyone can and should be able to see that such products for your car and home are impossible and yet every Sunday I open my paper to find a dozen adds advertising magnetic armbands and herbal teas and many other products promising to magically heal every single ailment the human body could have.  The people selling these magic potions and talismans obviously make enough money to buy full colour ads in a major Sunday newspaper so I have to assume people are buying what they are selling.  Even though the human body is far more sophisticated and complex than your home or your car could ever be.  Yet somehow we are willing to still believe that ONE product can fix EVERYTHING.  Even though people really should know better.

*If you actually believed me, congratulations.  You singlehandedly caused a total collapse of my faith in mankind.  I hope you are proud of yourself.  When I set someone's cat on fire due to the total mental breakdown you caused me, it will be all your fault.  You will have to live with that knowledge forever.  How do you sleep at night??

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gaga for Gumby

"Look: Gaga cries and makes big, dramatic statements. A lot. She’s a theater kid playing to an audience of theater kids; just accept it and it’ll make this whole experience much more palatable, okay?"
- Genevieve Koski, reviewing the Monster Ball Tour for the Onion AV Club

I was shocked the other day when I wrote a blog post on Lady Gaga  and long time reader Gumby confessed in the comments that he had never heard a Lady Gaga song, not one!  I simply cannot let this stand, it would be a travesty for me not to address this issue!  So here then, just for Gumby is a quick intro to Lady Gaga.

Imagine someone who is equal parts Madonna and Marilyn Manson, sister to Tori Amos and spiritual progeny of Freddy Mercury.  Both terrifying and arousing (I won't lie, I'm totally Gaga-curious), brilliant, controversial, sacrilegious, innovative, self important, dramatic, sweet, vulgar, scary, vulnerable, honest, talented, full of shit and a born entertainer.  That's Lady Gaga.  Well that's Lady Gaga as I see her.  I never wanted to be a fan, I've really tried not to like her but she may very well be my perfect woman.  I have no idea why.  It's probably best if I let her music do the talking.

First off, here is some pure, uncut Gaga.  This is her singing "Born this Way" acapella backstage on her Monsters Ball tour.  No effects, no props, just her and her backup singers and she knocks it out of the fucking park:

This is her live on Ellen preforming "Bad Romance".  I like this clip because it shows several of the things she's great at - acoustic voice & piano performances, dancing in high heels, performing live (without lipsyncing!) and being a proud and total freak.  When you are done with this, do yourself a favour and check out the official "Bad Romance" video, it totally kicks ass!

OK now you should be ready for the full monty.  Here are two of my favourite Gaga videos, Judas and Alejandro.  Both showcase the visual spectacle she does so well.  Also the fact that the Catholic Church threw a collective shit fit over both of these didn't hurt me loving it!  

So Gumby, what do you think?  You don't have to like her, I don't expect anyone to feel the way I do about her music.  The only thing I find unacceptable is not having heard any of her music at all!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Problem with Prophecy

With so many big things happening in the world lately it got me thinking about predicting the future.  I often fantasize about going back to school with everything I know now - not to do better with the ladies or to make great investments (though I have memorized the winning numbers for a giant lotto jackpot just in case) but mostly for the essay writing.  (I did warn you, I'm pretty strange).  See I loved that part of High School, getting to write essays in Afrikaans and English classes were some of my favourite things to do, second only to watching our extremely hot Biology teacher on the days she wore a mini skirt to school.  So I often fantasize about being back and writing essays featuring the storylines from hit movies and books not yet released or including world changing events that haven't happened yet.  Not just for the good marks I would get (because I got those anyway) but more for the brainsplosions it would cause in my teachers years later.

That is usually the point though when I start thinking about all the problems with prophecy.  Lets suppose I was either a time traveler or a true clairvoyant, the next Boer Nostradamus.  I don't just predict earthquakes in California or tornadoes in Texas*, I can foretell the future completely accurate: names, dates, places, body counts, every necessary detail.  I think that would simultaneously make me the best and the worst prophet of all time.

For anything that happens there is usually a chain of causality.  The problem is that you interfere with that chain the moment you make your prophecy.  On the one hand your prophecies could be self fulfilling, i.e. people could make sure that what you said happens simply because you said it and they want your words to come true.  For instance, if I predicted that someone would make an attempt on the president's life on 17 June, someone who believes in the accuracy of my prophecies and who also want the president dead may decide that June 17th is clearly the ideal day to try to shoot the president.  On the flip side, accurately predicting when something would happen could cause it not to happen.  For instance if I predicted the September 11 attacks and Al Qaeda read my prophecy and knew people took me seriously they would probably have decided to rather pick a different day/target when/where the authorities (who believe my prediction) would totally not expect them.  This would then make my prophecy wrong, even though it was 100% correct when I made it!  The moment you mess with one variable you can't help but affect everything else.

There is a niche though namely natural disasters.  Since they cannot be altered or prevented you can predict them all you like and they will happen exactly like that.  Only problem is that there are already scientific methods of detecting these things beforehand and we are getting better at it all the time so eventually your abilities will be obsolete.

I guess you could still be a prophet about world events but then  you could only tell a select group/cult of followers so that the word doesn't get out into the real world.  Alternatively you can dress up your prophecies in symbolism and metaphor so that they only become clear after the fact.  Neither of those options sound very good to me because then what are you good for?  All that gets you is the opportunity to say "I told you so" after the bad thing already happened.

Probably better to just look into the future one second at a time, just like everyone else.  Far less pressure!

Knowing the future seems like a lot of responsibility...

*How does that make you a prophet?  That just makes you someone who reads the news!  Looking at you Rick Joyner!