Friday, December 09, 2011

'Tis the season to say bah humbug ...

(Above: oh that Steve Bell, he's so naughty).

And so to our intermittent sampling of stories we wouldn't pay for, even if we had quids:

It takes a paranoid to know a paranoid, and a conspirator to recognise a conspiracy, but pay for paranoia and the ongoing culture wars? That's a step too far ...

And then there was this one:

Gary Johns and Vladimir Putin, at one with a splendid vision. Enough of this idle chatter about democracy. What's needed is a strong vision and strong leadership. Strength! Kraft durch Freude! Strength through joy, as they used to say in the old days ...

Okay that's the Godwin's Law breach out of the way for the day. Sorry, no links to the pitiful Johns and the wretched Cut and Paste. The pond has already recovered full sight in the right eye - when they say stop it or you'll go blind, they might have a point.

And while on the subject of the minions of Murdoch, and Kevin Rudd, and RuddTV, surely Richard Ackland has the last word today in How RuddTV came unstuck and why it's just as well Aunty kept the gig:

What were they smoking to have allowed a ruthless global organisation, with its record of blurring commercial interests with news, within cooee of Australia's official presentation to the region?

The only sensible alternative - other than the ABC - would have beeen to shut Australia TV down, since its programming is soul-destroying - the Wiggles rampant - and not a patch on the BBC's world service. At the moment it's political vanity exercise, publishing without rhyme, reason or audience, or even ... sob, yes we have to resort to jargon, a sensible mission statement ... unless you think keeping expats in touch with footy is a civilising diplomatic mission.

That said, the notion that Sky-TV would have done a better job is even more tragic. The last thing Asian audiences need is the values on view in Australian commercial television, as an example to Asia of Australia's culture exported to the world ...

Ackland identifies the real problem - the way Kevin Rudd had a brain snap of the first water - and each day The Australian and other Murdoch rags maintain the rage about the tender process, the weirder Rudd's behaviour appears. Thank the long absent lord today The Australian seems to have got back to business as usual:

An even better question would have been minister, why do we need fast, reliable Australia-wide connectivity to the intertubes, when the horse and buggy out the back provide perfectly reliable transport and manure for the garden, and the old Mac resting under the bed more than enough horsepower for a good old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet (ah the good old days, and you could run it on a Mac).

But all this is an entree to truly alarming news, as Barney Zwartz has discovered that Muslims (are) more devout:

The CNN report suggests conflict, theology and history combine to make Muslims more attached to their religion. Many Muslims define themselves in contrast to the West, which they see as in moral decline, and since 9/11 they tend to see the West as at war with Islam, in a deep ideological conflict.

This puts Barners in an awfully tricky position. After all, it's hardly viable to suggest that the alternative to devout Muslims is to convert them to devout Christianity. That way lies the crusades.

And it's hardly viable to suggest that Christians should get more devout, since the likely outcome would be theocratic societies showing the same excessive zeal and repressiveness as currently can be found in Iran. (Or certain regions, states and the Republican party in the United States).

Poor Barners is forced into a corner where he has to acknowledge the west took a turn for the better way back when:

Islam had no Reformation or Enlightenment, and has not had the same drive to a secular society, leaving religion more strongly entrenched in social structures.

Actually it's a bit of cheat to bracket the Reformation alongside the enlightenment, since virulent fundamentalist Protestants in the early days were as obnoxious as any Muslim fundamentalist. But we take the point. The west hit the right road when the bible thumpers had their fingers prised from policy ...

It seems that unlike Christians - who right at this moment are embracing the concept of gay marriage with compassion, a sense of diversity and the underlying commonality of humanity - Muslims think they're the chosen ones:

Muslims also believe themselves to the final, ultimate religion, the last word after the earlier chapters of the older monotheistic religions. They take varying approaches to Christians and Jews, the ‘‘people of the book’’, ranging from openness to violent opposition, partly because the Koran itself expresses various attitudes. They are much less open to other religions, and especially those that came later, such as the Baha’is, who are even more viciously persecuted in places like Iran than Christians or Jews.

Uh huh. This is in complete contrast to the warm-hearted way the likes of Hillsong and Jim Wallace embrace unbelievers and the homosexual agenda and the homosexual lobby, and the vicious persecution of Arabs by the state of Israel under its current extremist right wing government.

You see, Muslims don't see Muhammad as simply an historical figure, but as a personal inspiration and model to be followed. This isn't open to the average Christian, since apart from rising from the dead and performing the odd miracle - a hard act for even Penn and Teller to follow - Christ is well known as a to hell with the moneylenders anti-capitalist, pacifist, socialist liberal ...

Give up everything and follow me, and we'll be in a garden of eden together? Is there air-conditioning? Even worse, it seems that the Islamics are brain-washed and disciplined:

... Islam is a highly disciplined religion whose practices strongly shape a Muslim's day (eg praying five times a day), keeping the faith in the forefront of the mind.

Since the average Christian only turns up to church for weddings, funerals, Xmas and Easter, this is an outrageous advantage, as these robotic fanatics seem right up there with the Scientologists in knowing how to run a cult.

Eventually it dawns on Barners that maybe there's something to be said for secularism and separation of church and state:

... most Muslim-majority countries do not separate religion and politics, as Western countries do. Turkey and Indonesia have secular Constitutions, but Turkey is governed by an Islamic party, and Indonesia’s political culture is steeped in Islam.

This is of course in complete contrast to the United States and the Republican party, which in no way is steeped in Christianity.

Hang on, let's not talk about the advantage of separating out religion from the state and from government:

Washington political scientist Farid Senzai tells CNN that the West must take the Muslim world on its own terms. ‘‘Many Muslims want religion to play a role in politics. To assume that everyone around the world wants liberal secular democracy is an absurd idea.’’

Indeed. Once you start kicking out the Muslims, some wags might talk about kicking out the Christians. Who could want liberal democracy? Who could want secular democracy? As Gary Johns pointed out up above, democracy is nothing but trouble.

Anyhoo, by column's end, Barners is in full stride:

Devotion or confidence about religion is, of course, not synonymous with extremism, let alone terrorism. But the Arab Spring may prove very bad news for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, for women, and even for Muslim men deemed insufficiently devout, if disturbing early signs are confirmed.

To which the pond offers a corollary:

Devotion or confidence about religion is, of course, not synonymous with extremism, let alone terrorism. But any sign of a Christian spring in the west may prove very bad news for gays and other minorities in Australian society, for women, for gay marriage, and even for dinkum secularist, agnostic, atheistic men and women deemed insufficiently devout, if disturbing early signs revealed in previous Barners columns are confirmed.

Barners always signs off Over to you.

So in its usual way, the pond signs off Bah humbug. A pox on the Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions, and the sects, cults, branches, heretics, schismatics arising therefrom, and the competitive paranoia that sees Christians get agitated about disciplined warriors for - and true believers in - Islam, and vice versa ...

Chill out, and celebrate the truly pagan season of the summer solstice with pagan tree and pagan presents and a pagan Santa ...

(Below: yes we're well into the season of suffering, and bah humbug, Christopher Hitchens said a considerable time ago).


  1. It seems as though religious superstition goes hand in hand more with economic disparity rather than anything else. e.g. Sweden vs third world countries like Palestine or the USA.

    Maybe if we stopped bombing these people back to the stone age or treating them like slaves they'd stop acting like they belong there.

    I guess if Australia keeps going down the same road to serfdom that the USA has we will only see more of this junk around here too.

  2. The pond has always been intrigued by the civilising power of a laser-guided 500 lb bomb carried by a drone to introduce backward natives to higher forms of culture, including the right to cast your vote in a democratic way, even if dead ...


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