Sunday, August 29, 2010

The sun taketh away and the sun giveth

In an article on it is said that 2012 could well be a catastrophic year for our species after all. Not because of the Mayan calendar phenomenon but because the sun is shaking its feathers and warming up for a colossal solar storm. Something which might well have been predicted using calendars and tables and a good look at the sky. So there may be something in the Mayan interpretation after all.

The storm could wipe out most of our communication systems. As it did with the telegraph in 1859. The telegraph then was the equivalent of the Internet now: a massive global communication system on which businesses, individuals and services relied to contact each other. The loss of digital communication would throw us back a long way. Imagine our lives without satellites! No more TV, no telephone (mobile or otherwise), no Internet, no GPS. In a word: chaos.

But is it really such a bad thing? Apart from a return to the hippie point of view that we will have to learn to live off the land, for a while at least, there is also the notion that we may come out stronger. Leaner and meaner to face the future as a truly tech-savvy species.

We have become so reliant on digital technology that it belies the vulnerability of it. A massive wake-up call will be good for us, for the development of more reliable infrastructures, for new ways of thinking in the digital realm, for out of the box solutions to potential problems we are now complacent towards.

An event like a massive solar storm will bring chaos but out of that chaos a new species will rise like a phoenix. A species that will have made a big step forward to declaring itself independent from nature's wiles. 2012, it may well be the dawn of the next step in human evolution. The big question is: will we be able to do without Twitter for long enough to allow us to rebuild?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paris Hilton, a difficult martyr

Raffaels Angels
Scanning Google news, a headline caught my eye: "Paris Hilton arrested on cocaine possession charges in Las Vegas, police say". And I ask myself: why is this news and why should I care? But it's the weekend and I had an idle moment so I decided, for once, to read a gossip page.

True to form it painted Paris Hilton as a very bad girl. She had 2 drug charges thrown at her before, according to the article. One in South Africa and one in France. The first was dropped because the pot was not hers and in France she was charged because she was "having less than a gram of pot in her purse". Come on, in our local coffee shop that amount of pot is swept off the counter as dust.

You see, what pisses me off is the tone of crucifixion - and I don't care what you think of Paris Hilton - for possession of drugs. "Drugs! Oooooh, scary!" said the drunk as he downed another Bushmills and threw up on the barmaid.

I know that drugs are a problem. The whole infrastructure of drugs, the growing of the raw materials, the manufacture and the distribution, are all part of a system that abuses people. But have any of the people who cry foul over this latest drug arrest ever wondered where their jeans and T-shirts are made? The ones replaced, not because they are worn out but because they are 'out of fashion'? Those clothes are probably made in work houses where women and children work 16 hours a day for a pittance. Does anyone ever wonder how much harm that big car or that massive TV do to human society? Especially when you reckon the entire route, from raw material to the product in your possession. It almost makes Paris Hilton's drug charges look as innocent as freshly fallen snow.

The problem is that Paris Hilton is a prime example of someone who is difficult to defend and easy to begrudge. She's eternally young, extremely rich, I doubt she ever wore a pair of jeans more than once and anything she does is turned into a media event, in many cases by herself. So as a figurehead for the above call for an introspective look at yourself she is rather a poor choice. Pity Mother Theresa was never caught with a pinch of white substance sticking to the olfactory summit. It would have been a much more suitable martyr.

(Read the latest posts on the front page!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Roaming Roma, the quintessential humans

Sarkozy denies human progress (Picture by LilluundFreya)
France's president Sarkozy vows to continue expelling Roma people from 'his' country (see BBC article). A cynic might say he labels those few hundred Roma as a serious threat to the 62 million or so French people. Although the official, and thus dull reason is the EU rule that the Roma have been in France for more than 3 months and in that time have not found jobs and therefore must leave. In other words their holiday is over.

Only, they are not on holiday. They are travellers. People who are among the last surviving European nomads. They have their home wherever they park their caravan. As such they are the quintessential humans. Their genes are the genes that brought humanity down from the trees, exploring the African plains, drove the species to China, India and to Europe, to America and eventually to the moon. They represent the restlessness of humankind that has made us one of the most widespread species in earth's history.

Sarkozy looks on the Roma in a different, narrower beamed light. They are a nuisance. So he has the police break up their camps and deport them while he washes his hands in a bowl of EU scented innocence.

It is well known that Sarkozy does not like foreigners unless they are wrapped in pretty packages, come from Italy and are willing to adopt the French nationality. But his right wing views deny his ancestry. If the spirit that drives the Roma did not exist, he would still be up in a tree with a bone through his nose grunting "ungabunga" every time a flee bit him. Now there's an image I can smile at.

- Henk

An Introduction

Today sees the start of a new blog. Not a remarkable occurrence in a blog-flooded world. After a self-derogatory sentence like that, you expect a sentence starting with "But..." or "However...". That sentence will not appear. There is no excuse for launching a new blog. There is no redeeming reason. There is just the unadulterated, relentless lust to write and publish. Call it editorial vomiting.

To give the blog a slight reason to exist it will try and make you - if not laugh out loud - at least chuckle. Or that may even be too bold an objective. It will try and make the left corner of your mouth lift just a teensy-weensy bit. It may even make that same corner of your mouth quiver, just for a second. If this blog achieves that, it has done its job.

Heaven forbid any lofty goals for this blog. After all it is a one in many million blog. In a bid to make its existence a little more worthy though, it will have to make an effort at something resembling profundity. To achieve that it will look behind the hypes that rule the Internet - from world news hypes to YouTube-cat-video hypes - and try and have a second opinion about them. Usually this blog will try and make you see the ridiculousness of the hype. That is as lofty as it gets.

Lets raise our glasses to the launch of a new blog! Hurray and three cheers. And onwards to sweet oblivion!

- Henk