Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Red Pill Blue Pill

In the film 'The Matrix', the choice is given to take either the 'Red' pill, or the 'Blue' pill. The blue pill lets you believe in the world as you have grown up to see it, but the red pill will transport your understanding of the world to how it really is.

Well, today, I'm offering you the chance to take the red pill!

You see, the 'world' that you live in is, not so much a lie, as a severe distortion. You (and I) are used to thinking that the world that we live in is the same world everyone lives in.

And therein lies the lie.

Your everyday world (and mine) is actually more like a gated community, separated from the majority of the world and acting in a very insular way.

Firstly, to be fair, the reason we see our 'world' as the real one is because we control and consume the major media outlets. So our 'News' is largely a navel-gazing exercise. We read about ourselves, we watch TV about ourselves, we listen to radio talking about ourselves and we visit websites geared to ourselves.

Yet we are the minority.

Now, I've made several claims here that I really need to back up, so I've used figures released in March 2011 by Nielsen Online. (Found at www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm)

Broadly, just 30.2% of the total worlds population (now 7 billion) use the internet. To turn that around just under 70% of the world do not use the internet. The reason I'm picking on the internet first off is that it is the vehicle that most media people (and most companies) use to measure what they call 'the world'. For example, there's a lot of press given to the (unreal) claim that one gadget or another (e.g. iPhone) will 'change the world'. To believe this sort of hype, you'd have to completely ignore the fact that even less people use internet connected phones than use the internet in general, bearing in mind that internet users are in the minority anyway.

You may be rolling your eyes now and yelling at my blog that this is just marketing at work. Yes. Yet that's the way we think. We think that the world is 'connected' and that we're all in the same boat, living the same sorts of lives. We lie to ourselves, because we're too tired, too lazy, too brainwashed to think beyond the hype.

I'm in Australia, where just 60% of people use the internet. That's right, 4 out of 10 people I pass in the street don't use the internet. If you are reading this in Nth America (even more inclined to think they are 'the world') over 20% of your fellow Americans don't use the internet. If you are in Europe, almost half are not connected. In Asia, less that 25% are internet users. And in Africa, almost 9 out of 10 people don't use the internet. It all adds up to more than 2/3's of people in the world aren't online. At all.

So much for 'our world' being the norm.

So what's my point exactly?

Just this. Open your mind. Don't swallow blindly all the claims we hear/read/see every day that the way we live is the way the world really works. Get your brain out of the gated community and see the world as it really is.

Oh yeah, are you a Christian? Agnostic? Muslim? 'Middle-class'? Home-owner? Well, you're in a minority.

Have a nice day :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life is....

If you spend much time trawling the internet, or hanging out on social media sites, you will no doubt have come across things like these....

Pithy one-liners that try to be the answer to life...

As a designer, I have to admit they present themselves well, altho the style is copied again and again - just include a teen girl, some bokeh light-play, pastel colours and try to use helvetica.

Where they fall short is the actual advice. None of these quotes will answer the quandaries that the world faces.

So what, if anything, will?

In Matthew 22, Jesus gets tested by the religious leaders of the day as they try to trap him: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law,tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

One word. One word that covers the ills and evils of people, that can turn the misfortunes of individuals and nations into blessings.


Not justice, or even mercy, not self or even sacrifice. Love.

On an individual level, love will replace selfishness with care for others, will make kindness and compassion shape our words and deeds, will open our eyes to the worth of every person.

On a psychological level, we would eradicate depression, anxiety and fear. Love would calm and reassure us.

On a social level, we would have no crime, we would have no need for law. We would have no need for lawyers, courts and jails. 

On a national level, love will stop the displacement of whole communities of people, wiping out the worldwide problem of refugees. Love will redirect the trillions spent on war into food, health and education needs. Love will negate the warped need to have 'Homeland Security' treat us all as suspect.

The words revenge, selfishness, jealousy, hate and terror would not exist.

On a spiritual level, we would be able to understand God, who is Love. We would be able to commune with God and be fearless in His presence.

For love is not a warm fuzzy feeling, but a fiery burning force that works through action. Love is a verb.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Choose Happiness

There's a lot of this going around….and as much as I like to see positiveness among people, I also like to see some balanced realism.

It's a bit like saying, choose slimness, or choose good health. Because many people aren't slim, and no matter their diet, won't be. And many people would love to be in perfect health, but their genetically shonky heart won't allow it.

Happiness is a byproduct, rather than a choice. Some find it easy to attain. Others wish they could taste a bit of it.

I've been suicidally depressed, and I've been happy. But I've never been able to hit a switch and flip from one to the other.

Ah, you say, but it's about making choices.

Let's get a bit real folks, when you are depressed, (and I'm not talking about feeling 'a bit low'), choosing to get up off the couch may be beyond you. Choosing to 'be happy' is out of the question.

These images are 'feel good' fluff. And to those who are deep in the pit of despair, insulting.

The 'foundation' of our behaviour, (the way we live) effects everything we do. And that foundation is our beliefs. What we do (our behaviour) springs from what we think (of ourselves and others). So if we change the way we think, we change the way we live. 

A lot of people stop there, thinking that's enough to enable you to 'choose happiness'. But, there's another level. What we think springs from what we believe. 

So we have to work on what our beliefs are. If a person believes they are unlovely, all their thoughts will be along those lines (I'm useless, I'll never be any good, no one can love me...) and their actions will follow those thoughts, self harm, eating disorders, depression, possibly suicide. 

So then, when a person can believe they are loved, their thoughts are uplifted, they think of themselves as of value, as precious, wanted, and they are able to think of others that way also. Their action follow their thoughts, they are happier, they participate in life, become more outgoing, look after themselves and so forth. 

It's not a quick fix (like 'choosing happiness'), but may require decent counselling, and the support of family and friends to change from one belief system to a better one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Forgive and Forget?

Forgiving someone of a  wrong they have done you can be very healing, both for them and for yourself. You no longer have to carry around that load of hurt, day after weary day. 

Sometimes we are told we should 'forgive and forget', which sounds all noble and good, but is it really good advice, or even do-able?

We may have grown up being told this from the pulpit, held up to us as an 'ideal' we should aspire to, but where did this ideal come from? 

"For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And their sins will I remember no more." 
- Hebrews 8:12. 

Sounds like 'forgive and forget' doesn't it? Yet it isn't. God doesn't forget anything! Yet here He says He will remember our sins no more. There's a difference there, an act of will. An act of love.

God chooses to not bring our faults to mind, He chooses to not hold them before us, or hold them against us. He knows all about them, but puts them aside, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." - Psalm 103:12.

What if we forget? A large part of our experience in life that brings us wisdom and maturity comes from remembering things we go through. If we forgot those things, we would being going backwards in our growing! We aren't asked to forgive and forget, but to emulate God's ideal, forgive the hurt and choose to not hold it against them.

It's still a tough act to follow, but it is an act of love.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Not Art....

I thought I'd revisit an issue that I still feel is important... the whole aspect of Public Art, what is Art, and how much say do we have in the Art we get in our towns...

The voice-over is taken from an interview on The Bat Cave - YVFM 99.1, the music is Richard Bone's Far From Yesterday, and the images are all from my photography archives.

Monday, March 5, 2012

News of the Week

Syria's government reported that nearly 90 percent of voters had approved a draft constitution introducing democratic reforms, including a multiparty system. The referendum was boycotted by opposition groups and condemned by international leaders. "To open polling stations but continue to open fire on the civilians of the country," said British foreign secretary William Hague, "has no credibility in the eyes of the world." 

Activists reported that at least 140 Syrians had been killed in recent days in Homs, where government shelling also killed two Western journalists. In her final dispatch, one of the journalists, Marie Colvin, wrote, "I was met by a welcoming party keen for foreign journalists to reveal the city's plight to the world. So desperate were they that they bundled me into an open truck and drove at speed with the headlights on, everyone standing in the back shouting 'Allahu akbar'--God is the greatest. Inevitably, the Syrian army opened fire."
Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the only U.S. Marine to be found guilty of any charge related to the 2005 killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha, was honorably discharged.
In Afghanistan, about 40 people were killed, including two American military advisers, amid protests over the burning of Korans by NATO personnel at a Bagram Air Field garbage pit. President Barack Obama apologized to Afghans for the error, prompting Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum to say, "I think it shows weakness."
Mitt Romney praised Michigan's automakers during a campaign stop in the state, saying, "I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck. So, I used to have all three covered.
The German Bundestag voted in favor of a $170 billion bailout for Greece, the largest share of which will be funded by Germany.
The Royal Bank of Scotland announced it would pay out about $630 million in bonuses despite an expected $3.5 billion in losses this year, the fourth in a row it has failed to post a profit.
British Labour MP Eric Joyce was arrested after he became enraged in a House of Commons bar, hit several fellow MPs, and headbutted the MP from Pudsey. "There are too many f*$##@ Tories in here," said Joyce.
Police in the Indian state of Kerala continued their murder investigation into two Italian marines accused of shooting two Indian fisherman from the deck of the oil tanker Enrica Lexie.
More than 1,000 passengers on the Italian cruise ship Costa Allegra were adrift following a fire off the coast of Seychelles;
Italy began selling off a group of Sardinian lighthouses in response to its debt crisis.
The group of scientists at Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory acknowledged that readings it reported showing neutrinos to have surpassed the speed of light may have been caused by a faulty connector. "This connector was not perfectly plugged," said Gran Sasso director Lucia Votano. "Okay?"
A Naples, Florida, man was charged with aggravated assault after  brandishing a weapon outside a bank and telling deputies he was the director of the CIA, Elvis Presley's brother, and half orangutan, and that he needed to call the "fusion center" to ask about his monkey blood.
Clouds were found to have been getting lower for the past decade.
Astronomers confirmed the existence of a "waterworld" exoplanet 40 light-years from Earth.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered solid buckyballs (buckministerfullerene) in outer space. (buckyballs are basically soccerball shaped)
Whitney Houston was found to have been the subject of 10 percent of all U.S. media coverage during the week after she died.
A Michigan man whose son died in Iraq, angry that Houston's home state of New Jersey was flying its flags at half-staff in her honor, burned a New Jersey state flag on his backyard grill. "It was $12.95," said the man of the flag, "and it was the best money I ever spent."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

To my Pines groupies...

A quick thanks to all my new supporters from 'The Pines' who have been listening in to The Bat Cave each Monday on YVFM 99.1

I've made up a sting, in honour of you all, complete with your 'Porn Star' names :)

Check it out here,...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Weekly World News

A prison fire in Honduras killed 359 people, making it the deadliest such fire on record. An inmate was reported to have started the fire after phoning the state governor's office and saying he was going to burn down the prison, then lighting his bedding on fire. The facility was being supervised by 12 guards, who prevented firefighters from entering while the fire spread. "The guards first thought they had a prison break," said the director of Honduras's prison system, "so they followed the law saying no one could enter to prevent unnecessary deaths." 

Icelandic musicians protested the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland's ban on Motorhead-brand shiraz, named after the English heavy metal band. "It is a violation of human rights," said Solstafir lead singer Athalbjorn Tryggvason, "to not be able to buy yourself red wine."

Dave Mustaine, lead singer of the heavy metal band Megadeth, announced, then denied, his endorsement of G.O.P. presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Two F-16s intercepted a Cessna carrying 40 pounds of marijuana over Los Angeles after it entered the airspace of Marine One, which was transporting President Barack Obama on a fundraising trip. 

Six weeks after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, Obama ate lunch at one of the few California restaurants still serving shark-fin soup. The president "ordered a lot of dim sum takeout," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "No soup." 

The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University declared the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which burned through the latex gloves of the researchers assigned to pick it, to be the hottest pepper on earth. "There will be a run on seeds and plants," predicted grower Jim Duffy. "Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas."

Adventurer John Fairfax, who lived as a trapper in the Argentine jungle as a teenager and as a pirate-ship captain in his twenties, and who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a rowboat, died at 74. 

A man reportedly suffered a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass burger at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.
Calcutta prepared to be painted blue. 

German academics voted "shitstorm" the most useful English loanword in the German language.

A British Airways flight attendant was arrested for writing "The bomb on board will explode at 16.00 GMT unless our demands are met" on a bathroom door during a flight from Tokyo to London. 

Journalists documented the rise of rabbit-petting cafes in Tokyo.

An increasing trend is the spread of decaf "babyccino" coffees from Australia to Brooklyn. "My child has been going to cafes since he was a newborn," said one Brooklyn mother. Babyccinos, said the Australian inventor of the instant babyccino, "interrupt workflow, create milk wastage, and can be served at a dangerous temperature to a vulnerable consumer."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Weekly World News

....and here's a wrap-up of the Weekly World News :)

Greece's parliament approved an austerity bill, cutting 15,000 government jobs and reducing the minimum wage by 22 percent in exchange for $170 billion in bailout funds from the European Union and the I.M.F.

More than 80,000 protesters marched in Athens on Sunday, some of them looting and vandalizing local stores. At least 34 buildings burned, including a Starbucks and an underground movie theater once used as a torture chamber by the Gestapo. "This is worse than the Forties," said an elderly woman. "This time the government is following the Germans' orders." 

While striking in Brussels against an increase in their retirement age, hundreds of firefighters broke through barricades outside the prime minister's office and soaked riot police in water and fire retardant. 

A man was arrested in The Hague after trying to throw a marijuana snowball over a prison wall.

Dutch ice skaters expressed hope that the extreme cold in Europe, which has killed more than 500 people, would allow them to hold the traditional 124-mile Elfstedentocht speed-skating race for the first time in 15 years. 

Anonymous hacked into the servers of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs, gaining access to staffers' email accounts, many of which had the password "12345." 

Following complaints from Catholic officials, President Barack Obama amended a recently issued mandate requiring employers to provide free contraception to employees. "Thanks to President Obama," said Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, "we are all Catholics now." 

Florence Green, the last known veteran of World War I, died at age 110 in England.

singer Whitney Houston died at age 48 in Los Angeles.

A Wisconsin company was reported to have granted a four-year-old's Christmas wish for a $380 "Persuade" dual-flush toilet. "'Mom, wouldn't that be great if I could have this?" the boy said during a visit to the company's showroom. "Could you imagine all of the things I could do?"

New York City hotels announced plans to issue panic buttons to their maids.

British mathematicians used the Rapunzel Number to solve the Ponytail Shape Equation. "We all have likely wondered about the fluffiness of hair," said Raymond Goldstein, Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems at the University of Cambridge. 

Following incidents in four other states, the notorious Piggyback Bandit was spotted in Minnesota, where officials feared he would again rub the necks of high school athletes and jump onto their backs. "It's the creepiness of the behavior that alarms most people," said a North Dakota activities director. "It's a little creepy." 

Filmmakers raised money to release a movie about Osama bin Laden and an "army of zombie terrorists." 

In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth formally rededicated herself to England.

English gardeners dug up a bed of blue centaurea growing in the shape of a swastika in Weston-super-Mare.

The Newtown Creek sewage-treatment plant in Brooklyn planned a Valentine's Day tour package including gifts of Hershey's Kisses and views of its stainless steel "digester eggs," which process millions of gallons of gas and sludge each day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The account of the resurrection of Christ, as recorded in John 20 is probably a very well read scripture... but as I went over it again recently, a new thought occurred to me (new to me anyway).

Here we have a real OMG moment, and it brings vastly differing results to three people...

In the story, we have three characters, Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. They are very different people who all have a common experience, they are all witness to the open tomb of their Lord, yet their reactions are vastly different. For those who want it, here is the account from John's gospel:
 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
   She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 
So, first up, we'll look at John, who was known as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'. Here was a follower who's faith in Jesus was unflinching, built not on logic, persuasion or rhetoric, but love. He enters the opened tomb, sees the grave clothes neatly folded up, and immediately believes! He doesn't need to be led through the steps of what Jesus said and did to come to a conclusion, he understands straight away that Jesus is alive.

Next we have the much maligned Peter, a man who is at this point full of self-loathing, recrimination and has lost belief in himself. He is at such a low point mentally and emotionally that he has given up on himself as a follower of Jesus, and soon decides to throw it all in and go back to fishing as a living. He looks into the tomb, sees exactly what John has seen, and gets,... nothing. 

It won't be for another week before Peter has to face his 'demons', when Jesus gently re-validates him, and restores him strength and leadership through a showing of love and forgiveness.

Mary, who's back-story with Jesus has led her to a deep and abiding love for him as a man and her Lord, is devastated at the 'desecration' of the empty tomb. When she looks in, after Peter and John have run off to tell their story, she sees a new thing - two angels are now in the tomb, and she then encounters Jesus himself outside the tomb. Jesus gave her all she needed to give her the joy she would feel, just one word - he called her by her name. Mary needed that personal, close and intimate encounter to bring her into the truth.

The over-riding point I got from all this is, Jesus knows us intimately, knows how we think, knows what we believe, knows our strengths and our weaknesses. And he deals with us in just the way that heals.

Peter needed the time to think, to reach the depths and strip away his self-reliance, before he would accept a life of relying completely on Jesus. John simply needed to see a small thing to understand the larger picture, he already had built a relationship with Jesus out of love, the one true foundation for faith. Mary received from Jesus that direct personal encounter, a recognition of herself as a person, not just a part of the crowd.

Jesus knows just what you need to bring everything into perspective, to open your eyes, your heart and your mind. Of course, you won't get it if you're sitting on the couch not looking... have you run to the tomb and confronted a Jesus that is no longer dead and buried?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wrap up of weekly world news

Here's the pick of the world news for the past week:

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its campaign to suppress dissent and backing an Arab League plan for Bashar al-Assad to step down as Syrian leader. The vote came as the Assad regime was launching a major offensive on the city of Homs, whose residents were under mortar attack over the weekend and into Monday morning. "A couple members of this council remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant," said the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice. 

In Damascus, one of the Syrian cities previously least affected by civil strife, residents were stockpiling food and water and enduring rolling blackouts. "Nobody is comfortable anymore," said one socialite, adding that she had curtailed her weekly visits to the nail salon. "And I paint my nails black when I come, just like the situation." 

At least 70 people died in a riot at a soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt, and in Moscow, tens of thousands of activists rallied in Bolotnaya Square to oppose Vladimir Putin's presidential candidacy, while tens of thousands of Putin supporters rallied at Poklonnaya Gora, calling the antigovernment activists "Orange trash". Putin's detractors turned out in spite of below-freezing temperatures. "We are not revolutionaries in mink coats!" shouted one speaker. "I am!" replied a woman in a mink coat. 

A fifth of dogs and a quarter of cats in America were classified as obese. "I didn't notice the weight creeping on," said an Atlanta woman of her dog, Dodger. "All of a sudden he was just this fat dog." 

Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign deployed robo-calls falsely accusing Mitt Romney of having deprived Holocaust survivors in nursing homes of kosher meals during his tenure as Massachusetts governor, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie refused to apologize for calling a gay state assemblyman "numbnuts." 

Mitt Romney said on CNN that he wasn't "concerned about the very poor," and the Dutch bedding company Snurk angered Swedish homeless-advocacy groups by selling luxury duvet covers resembling cardboard boxes.
Residents of Isafjorour, a town in northwestern Iceland, celebrated the return of the sun, which arrived several days late.

American monkey-lovers continued to evade wildlife-control agents. "It's not what I fought for, to be treated like this," said Jim Clark, a disabled Vietnam veteran who lives in a motor home on the Texas-Louisiana border with his wife, Donita, and their four capuchins, Tina Marie, Meeko Mae, Sara Jo, and Hayley Suzanne. "So many of us want to disappear," said Ann Newman, president of the Simian Society of America, "and have our own community where we can safely keep our monkeys."