Why people choose alternative medicine

My grandfather is dying. He has cancer and he has a heart condition. He’s had four heart attacks in the last two years and one stroke. He’s in his late 90’s so he’s already beaten the odds. And some would say “Well he’s had a good run”. And that’s a reasonable thing to say. If you’re not a member of his family who love him. On paper things are dire. In practice he is not doing great but he has all his marbles, wants to do things and wants people to tell him if there is a way he can get better. He wants to get out and do more. That might be an unattainable goal but it’s an important one for him. Yesterday he said to me “I need to go for a walk because I have to strengthen my legs”.

The problem is that trying to get appropriate care, care that takes into account his needs, his likes, dislikes and his abilities has been insanely difficult. There’s a wall we keep running into. And that is a “one size fits all” philosophy. “He has cancer? Heart issues? Late 90’s? Well then he needs very high doses of pain meds and to be in palliative care.” Except he doesn’t, not yet, that time will come but it’s not now. People seem to think that he’s been this way for a long time but it’s really only in the last 2 years that he has lost his independence. He isn’t in a lot of pain. And yet. Doctors keep prescribing him morphine. Not just small doses either but high doses of morphine sulfate. That’s a no fucking around pain killer. Except he’s not in pain so it just makes him dopey and upsets his stomach. And when we dialed it back to “pain management only on request” he got a LOT better. Doctors keep wanting to put him on anti-depressants. They especially want to do that when he is in care. Because for most patients it’s depressing but it’s also good for destroying the libido. Not that he in particular is a problem but some are so why not dose em up? He didn’t like them. And he wasn’t told that he was being prescribed them and neither were we, I only found out when I looked at his chart. He is hard of hearing, you have to yell for him to hear you and his replies are often left of center…but frankly that’s nothing new. And he is still sharp as a tack, but he has his own way of seeing things. Always has. So people don’t try.

Last week we went to his cardiologist. A guy who we keep getting told “is the best” a gerontologist and cardiologists, a rare mix. We went in, talked about my grandfather’s issues and fears, he took his pulse, tapped his back, didn’t even use a stethoscope. Asked how it was going, we said it seemed to be going ok. We asked about his medication and its side effects. He didn’t know, he didn’t know what medication he was on. We asked about prognosis and quality of life. Well…not great. Ok, what can we do? Nothing, ok how can we make him more comfortable? Don’t know? What about his ears? I’m not an ear expert. He literally said “well he’s old, what do you want?” Then we were ushered out. Total time 7mins. Total cost $250. If he’s the best the worst must just put their clients down as soon as they come in the door. I would love to say that’s a terrible one off. But it’s not. I continually have to ask “Why is he on this medication” and often the answer is “Well…that’s just what we do when they get to this age”. And then they get annoyed that I am questioning the system.

And that’s the issue for me. If this were a free service, then fine. But it’s not. This guy, apart from his moral responsibility has a responsibility as a service because we are paying him. Rather a lot.

“Sure…this is all very sad and frustrating…But what the hell does this all have to do with alternative medicine?” I hear you ask.

This is in sharp contrast to an experience I had a month or so ago. When in desperation over my feet I went to an acupuncturist. Now I will be clear, I do not believe that it helped my feet but the guy is an old acquaintance and the experience couldn’t have been in sharper contrast to what my grandfather experienced.

I went in, and we had a nice chat. Simon (for that’s his name) couldn’t have been nicer and I suspect that even if we weren’t old acquaintances it would have been the same. Simon had all the time in the world for me. He wanted to know everything, why was I here, any issues? difficulties etc? I could not imagine him saying to my grandfather “Well your old, what do you want?” he was professional and caring. He talked about the realities of his practice and how there probably was an element of placebo to it.

He made sure I was comfortable, that I knew what was going to happen that I felt looked after. Every single step was explained and nothing was left out. And I’ll be honest I left feeling really good. That feeling didn’t last, but it was there and I felt like I hadn’t wasted my money. In fact, I intend to go back to see if it really can work I just haven’t had time. Now I’m not saying Simon is a quack, on the other hand I’m not saying acupuncture is a cure all that is real. What I am saying is that the quality of service, regardless of the outcome is sharply contrasted to what we get with traditional medicine. So of course people vacillate towards it. Frankly the heart specialist guy did nothing, so it was an insulting waste of time and money for someone to basically tell us to get used to the idea that he was going to die. In that instance I would prefer to have someone talk to my grandfather and make him feel good rather that what happened. And it’s not like these places he’s going to are cheap, cut rate doctors or dodgy nursing homes. My family isn’t poor; these are supposed to be “The best” it makes me terrified for those that don’t get “The best”.

I know I’m biased. I am, and I can’t help but be. But seriously if I am paying money for a service “Well he’s old” isn’t a good enough excuse for it being shit. My money isn’t old. It’s doing fine and your bloody happy to be taking it off me. Do your damn job. I can’t think of another service that I pay for where they still get paid if they don’t do anything and they insult you. I think part of the problem is that people don’t know what they are being paid for. Triage? Yep that do that very well, if there’s an emergency they are good. Medication? Well they can provide that by the truckload. Actual care? Nope not our business.

Except it is. How do I know? Well I spent most of last year writing a Cert IV in Aged Care. I know what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to know and what you should be doing for a client. The question I get asked the most is “Oh are you a doctor?”. No. I just want decent service for someone who has earned decent service.  Ok so maybe there isn’t anything that can be done to increase his longevity and maybe it’s silly to try. Fine. But I refuse to believe that you can’t get simple things like “He likes to have a shave once a day” right. I refuse to believe that he needs ALL this medication. I refuse to believe that he can’t be more comfortable.

So now he’s home and we have hired a home care provider and he seems to be doing a lot better. Because we can monitor everything and this provider only has one client. And obviously they provide a tailored service specifically for him. It’s not perfect because we can’t afford to have someone over all the time and at night. Where either I or my mother take shifts when we can. But it’s better than it was.

And yes now we vet medication. I did a medication audit with his new doctor and we were able to take him off a surprising number of medications. And adjust the dosing as required. (some went up some went down).

So for now things are good. But that’s because we can afford for them to be good.

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And the little teeth that gnash at me

I work about 500 meters from an abortion Clinic. This is not something I would have known if it weren’t for the daily presence of protesters. Who abiding by the law cannot actually go near the abortion clinic and so they tend to congregate around our building.  Unless it’s really hot. I guess their conviction is strongly linked to convection because if it gets above 30 degrees they go home.

I have a complicated view about abortion which I’m not going to go into right now however there are some things that bother me about these protesters, perhaps they are not the same things that might bother you.

  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are protesting abortion. I am bothered by the fact that they shove pictures of unborn foetuses in the faces of people who are going through what is already a traumatic time. Because that’s helpful. I also can’t help but feel that it’s not done to assist the unborn foetuses themselves, but to make the protesters feel important. I can’t quantify this can I might be wrong but I feel that’s what’s going on.
  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are Christians I am bothered by the fact that they are almost without exception old, white, men.*
  • I am not bothered by the fact that the hold the idea that abortion is wrong with such conviction. I am bothered by the fact that they are not (as far as I know) spending the same time at foster homes, helping and assisting children who are alive and desperately need people to just pay them attention. And when you politely enquire if they do in fact do this they don’t answer you they just start to sing hymns at you. ** Nor do they say to women “Tell you what, don’t worry about that child that you want to terminate, I’ll adopt it
  • It doesn’t bother me that they want to help children but it does bother me that they don’t ever seem to do so. And it really seems more about “Keep in line with my religion” rather than “These children deserve a chance”. This doesn’t seem to be about the health and wellbeing of children, it seems to be that they need their beliefs reflected back at them at all times. “Don’t do anything I don’t agree with!” maybe if they worked harder at making the world a better place for children who are unwanted then I’d feel better about them.
  • I’m bothered by the fact that they don’t seem to have any love in them. What they seem to have is judgement and hate.
  • This isn’t anti-religion because there are religions people who freely give their time and energy to help children in need and they walk the walk and talk the talk. Although they are rarely found protesting outside abortion clinics because they are busy actually helping people.

A few days ago because it wasn’t as hot as it is now they had a very big sign with them. A sign that reads “Pregnancy Help 1300 737 732 – Free”

This of course is a pregnancy help line set up by anti-abortionists. http://www.pregnancycounselling.com.au/

Which I wouldn’t have a problem with either, if it were advertised as such…but check out the website. Can you spot the bit where they say “We are a service set up by anti-abortion campaigners and have a definitive bias, which is something you should be aware of before you enter counseling with us” I’ll give you a clue. It doesn’t. Not anywhere.

They claim that they are there to help if you are expecting but particularly if you – for whatever reason want an abortion.

It was tempting to call them up and say I was pregnant but I don’t want to turn this into a farce.

Here’s the deal. Modern counseling techniques basically say that you need to listen to the client, you are not to inject yourself into the system in anyway, and you are to be a blanch-tableau for the client to bounce ideas off the idea is that the client has the tools that they need to fix themselves, but they just need to externalise them. Now I am not necessarily in full agreement with that way of doing things but I do strongly believe that if you walk into a counseling session with a firm, set agenda as opposed to just advice or detached interest then the session is going to be useless. Shedding your bias is something that psychologist often struggle with and is not easy to do. Let’s say for instance I was counseling someone who needed to have an abortion for medical reasons, I may personally be against abortion but since I don’t have an agenda that is coded by the people I work for and that I am there to push. I would be free to council the client towards their interest rather than my bias. Now it’s possible that this service would do the same thing, but less likely that’s for sure.

They say:

“At any time of the day or night, from anywhere in Australia, you will be able to speak to a compassionate, non-judgemental counselor who understands your feelings and concerns.”

Except it’s also vitally important that they talk you out of getting an abortion, right? Because that’s why their organisation was started. That’s what they do.  It would be like a Shark advice hotline for Seals: Should you go for a swim today? Let one of our betoothed operators give you unbiased advice.

Not declaring your bias is dishonest and frankly fraudulent. And I am deeply suspicious.

*I’m not saying that you can’t hold an opinion on a topic that you have no personal stake or experience with. Of course you can. I feel that it is however telling that I have never seen a birthing age woman of any race hanging out with these guys supporting their point of view. It’s not a magic bullet but it doesn’t help their case.

**Of course it’s trite of me to pick and choose the causes which these men feel strongly about, but once again it’s part of a rich tapestry that makes them look very bad.

An absolutely not spoiler free review of Rogue one.

So what did I think?

I loved it. I really did.

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Yes, I like it better than The Force Awakens. It neither has the expectation surrounding that film nor does it have the oppressive weight of being the first new movie so it has a much easier task, none-the-less I still liked it more. I loved the action, I loved the characters, I loved the setup. I loved the nods to the original trilogy. Basically, there were very few things I didn’t like. And so because I can’t just like something let’s go over them:

  1. The Score: As per usual it’s all about sound for me and this score didn’t cut it, it was not even trying to be its own thing, it was basically like someone said “I need royalty free Star Wars music, can someone write cues that are LIKE the original score but not as good?”. Mind you this is not just Rogue One’s problem, most new scores for films in the last 10 years are crap. But it’s still disappointing. Especially when you are reminded of a much better score every few minutes. “Hey, that’s almost John Williams!”
  2. The sound effects: Interestingly while the visuals are this movies great strength, the sound lets it down terribly. A lack of imagination and fresh noise makes the audio experience just so-so.
  3. Grand Moff Tarkins voice: He looked ..um…fine?, but the voice was off. Peter Cushing talked like he was giving the world a lesson in perfect English diction, whereas the person providing the voice here was just ok. He acted well enough but for the effort they put in with the visuals they should have matched that with the sound.
  4. The Pilot: This was the one character that felt thin and insubstantial to me. I had no idea really what he was doing or why he was doing it. And I put that down to the acting. Did not like.
  5. The ridiculous way the Empire sends messages: “I need this sent out stat, so you’ll have to go get it, go to the top of the tower, walk out onto a gantry, align the dish, come back insert the tape into the outdoor reader, request the shield be dropped and sent the signal. HURRY!”
  6. Uncanny valley Leia: Just didn’t do it for me.

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Alright, so what did I like?

 

  1. Everything else! To be honest I’m being really picky here. These things didn’t break the movie for me. Although I was surprised that CG Tarkin kept showing up. But seriously. This is a great movie. Ok fine here’s some great things about this movie.
  2. The production design and art work was perfect. It felt so Star Wars. The sense or scale was right. The shot of the dish moving into place on the Death Star was amazing.
  3. The last 10 minutes. WERE AMAZING.
  4. K-2so.
  5. Darth Vader kicking ass. (not to mention him in a Bacta tank)
  6. Seriously everything else. I’ll be seeing this again.
  7. Y-wings!!! With Ion torpedos!! That’s the way you do it.
  8. Bail Organa. Yeah baby.

 

Mr Potato

Hate filled potato Peter Dutton has “slammed” the PC world (That’s political correctness not the computer magazine) that we live in decrying the lack of religious indoctrination that children get these days. “We live in a Christian society” he said:

  • ignoring the multicultural secular society that was lying in wait, just outside the Radio-Studio
  • lambasting those with beliefs other than him
  • Even though he has sworn to serve and represent those people
  • As well as the fact that Australia has no official state religion
  • And the Australian Constitution protects freedom of religion.

Mr Dutton linked the issue to the “Teachers for Refugees” campaign in which many teachers in NSW and Victoria wore t-shirts protesting Australia’s offshore detention camps for asylum seekers.

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“If they want to conduct these sort of campaigns, do it online or do it in your spare time. Don’t bring these sort of views into the minds of young kids,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. Without Irony.

Now personally I don’t really care if children sing Christmas Carols, I do care that Peter Dutton was essentially saying:

“Teachers shouldn’t indoctrinate children, unless I happen to agree with what they are indoctrinating them into”

So teachers should not wear t-shirts or oppose government policy, but they should respect and teach the religion I subscribe to. This is not a cry for freedom of speech nor freedom of religion. This yet another “I support the speech I agree with and try to quash the speech I don’t”.

Yet it was this comment from Dutts that was the most telling.

“Because the vast majority of Australian people want to hear Christmas carols. They want their kids to be brought up in a normal environment and they don’t want to be lectured to by do-gooders who frankly don’t practise what they preach in any case.”

“Normal being what I define as normal. Because I have no awareness or tolerance of a world where my every thought and action isn’t mirrored back to me by everyone I see and such a world would make me unbootable and I would die.” He said later…..presumably.

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The other problem with his assertion is that it’s only true if you look at the gross stats. In 2011 (the last time a census was done properly) People who self-identified as “Christians” were at 61% of the peoples. However this lumps all Christian denominations in together Anglicans, Catholics, make up the majority but if you separate them then religion breaks down like this:

Catholics: 25.3%

Atheists/agnostics: 22%

Anglicans: 17%

Everyone else.

Why would you break them down? Well it’s not like a Catholic would happily just exchange services or decide to join the Anglicans. They do in-fact believe different things. In some ways they are as different as Islam and Judaism. But since they both celebrate Christmas they briefly and artificially join forces and are lumped together as “Christians” a group that also includes denominations as disparate as Jehovah’s Whiteness, Mormons and the Uniting Church. And if you think they all believe “essentially” the same thing you have no idea about those religions.

I don’t know who said it but someone once said “I wish all wars were conducted like the war on Christmas, no killing, no rape, no slavery, no guns just wishing people the best in words they don’t quite agree with and then we get to all eat turkey and pudding anyway. Fuck that sounds amazing”

I will wish people a happy holidays, a merry Christmas or a shiny Festivus as appropriate. I am neither so lazy nor so brain dead that I only have a single response for any situation. I am not Christian but I regognise that for some Christians this is an important time of year, for others it’s a cruel reminder that Paganism still has a foot hold on this world and for yet others they despair at the weird co-opting of a Coca-cola brand symbol, a mid-winder festival and a celebration of consumerism. And that’s all fine. I will celebrate this season in my own way, commemorating the birth of Sir Issac Newton and remembering what a strange fish that guy was. I mean gravity sure, but the guy was completely out to lunch in almost every other way. If you’ve never read up about him, you should. It’s fascinating. I will however support that in a State school there should be a separation of Church and state, although Children singing? Does anyone really want to hear that? Just stamp that out altogether I say.

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Also, I remember when we thought “Everything will be better when they get rid of…..Abbot…etc” The bad news is that the Liberal government have an inexhaustible supply of horrible, horrible people so nothing positive will happen whilst they are in power. Because somehow offshore detention and all that entails is totally fine, but not singing a Christmas carol is not. This man represents no Christians that I know.

Get fucked Dutts.

5 people who trade on their brother’s success

 

Leon Hendirx

The very LEAST you can say about Jimi Hendrix is that he was the most admired, emulated and loved guitarists/sonic innovator of the 1960’s. The Beatles were envious of him. Eric Clapton was envious of him. Bob Dylan heard his version of “All along the Watchtower” and decided that that is the way he should have done it. When I was learning Guitar his shadow stood long 25 years after he had died.

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Leon Hendrix. Is Jimi Hendrix’s younger brother. After years of spending time in prison on mostly drug charges he turned his life around and became and expert draughtsman at Boeing. Good gig, great end of story right? Except then he decided that this playing guitar thing looked easy. So he thought he’d give it a go. So now he goes around singing and playing guitar. Guess whose songs he mostly plays? I’ll give you a clue he’s not a Santana fan. Leon “Plays” Hendrix except he doesn’t, he plays a few chords while a chubby white guy plays Hendrix and he “sings” over the results. Now look, maybe Leon loves the blues but man it sure looks like someone who is totally indifferent to the blues crooning along to a band that happens to be behind him.

To give him his due, He sure sounds like he could draught the hell out of an aeroplane.

Leon has produced two albums in 2000’s althought it’s probably galling that his brother was more prolific during the same period producing four albums and not letting a little thing like death slow him down. On his website, leonhendrix.com, they say while his CD “Keeper of the flame” was being recorded at Seattle’s Self Adhesive Records, “a purple glow was reported to been seen”. Make of that what you will.

Neil Connery

You may not know nor care that Sean Connery has a younger half-brother. But that’s not the attitude that the Italians had in the late 60’s. Such had been the appeal of Sean in the bond films they were desperate to make their own version of them. So they tried to get Sean Connery who of course being under contract with the Broccoli brothers said he couldn’t do. I like to think that he said “You could try my non-actor younger brother, he’s not up to much” As a joke… but they did. Then they faced a quandary….how to infer to audiences that they had an actual Connery in their obvious Bond rip-off and not just some guy who looked and sounded nothing like Sean?

Well in Italy it was known as “Operation younger brother” but in the rest of the world it was known as “O.K. Connery”. It must have been something of a shock to the film makers that Neil has an Irish accent not a Scottish accent… So they had to dub him. One of the few times in an Italian movie that the UK actor was dubbed…into English. It must have been something of a shock to Neil moving from being a plasterer to the fast paced sexually charged world of Italian cinema. But credit too him, you can barely tell watching the film. He still acts every scene very much like a plasterer trying to get the hang of these “Martinis”.

The film was a middling success, helped by the inclusion of a lot of talent that had worked on actual bond films and hindered by a charisma free Bond . So Neil went back to Plastering but an injury in 1983 forced him to quit. Whereupon he decided to take up acting again….you have been warned.

Joe Estevez

As Charlie Sheen is to Emilio Estevez so to Martin Sheen is to Joe Estevez…..

Well that might be a little bit disingenuous. Martin Sheen is arguably one of the great American actors of his generation. Whereas Joe is arguably…not even a good stand-in for his brother. As the older brother Martin got into acting first. Getting his first gigs in the early 60’s. Joe didn’t get into the game till the early 70’s by which time his brother was already a star. He did stand in for his brother in Apocalypse Now….in shots where he is seen from behind going down a river…..whilst Martin was recovering from a heart attack that had been bought on by Francis Ford Copella. Other career highlights include “Soul taker” and “Werewolf” no, not the one you’ve seen. Unless you’re an MST3K fan.

Also “Max Hell Frog Warrior” and “Untitled Horror Comedy” yes…seriously. Whilst he looks less like his brother these days and more like his Character from Soul Taker he does sound like him. Something he is now using to his advantage in VO for National Rifle Association commercials. Because when you can’t get President Bartlett you get the man who starred in “Untitled horror comedy”

Mike McGear

You might not have heard of Mike McGear or at least you don’t know that you know who he is. Mike was the lead singer and main songwriter of The Scaffold a band who had a few hits in the late 60’s Their biggest hits were “Lilly the Pink” which was a song that I had to sing in school and “Thank you very much” a song that thanks no-one in particular for a list of random things  with no explanation given for this sudden rush of gratitude.

Like every musician in London on the 1960’s Mike was inspired by the Beatles, when the Beatles were at their peak Mike was an apprentice hairdresser but hearing them on the radio day to day made him think that he could do that, it didn’t hurt that Paul McCartney was his older brother so really how hard can it be? Like the older McCartney he went solo from the early 70’s and very much like him he had a dubious solo career right up till the 1980’s. Whereupon he retired from the music business. Unlike McCartney Mcgear actually recorded with Hendrix. The real one, not Leon.

McCartney did an album with McGear in 1974 called “McGear” where McCartney produced and co-wrote the songs and had Wings do the backing for which made it…well listenable at least in comparison to The Scaffold.

Wait… your saying….McCartney did Silly love songs…how bad can this be?!?!??

This bad.

 

Ron Gallagher

There’s trading on your brothers act/success/fame and then there’s simply stealing the act.

You might have heard of Leo Gallagher, or you might just know him as the guy who hits a watermelon with a mallet as the finale of his act…and then wondered why that is considered “Comedy”. As with everything the art is in the setup. As in if you go to one of his shows you will probably feel like you have been setup.

None-the less there’s no denying that people seem to want to see a guy who’s famous for destroying fruit. He’s a success, if only professionally. In the 80’s his brother Ron (who looks exactly the same as him) wasn’t doing so well, so badly in-fact that he asked his brother if he would mind if he could use his act. Leo said “That’s fine, so long as you make it clear that your “A” Gallagher not “The” Gallagher. A distinction that was apparently lost on audiences who evidently A: Didn’t know that Leo even had a brother B: Didn’t care who was smashing fruit for them so long as he had long hair and was yelling something at them while it happened.

So people turned out in droves to see the “New” Gallagher, billed as “Gallagher too” or sometimes “Gallagher Two” or sometimes just “Gallagher” which is what got Ron sued by Leo in the early 2000’s. There was an outcome but do you care? The fact remains that your chances of seeing someone hit a watermelon with a large mallet is double what it was in the late 70’s. So a win for us all.

 

I guess…now is as good a time as any to start bloging again.

Disenfranchised white voters have spoken they want their privilege back. They don’t want to share just in case being nice to others is a zero sum game. Anything that is not like them? They don’t want it. They want to live in a loud echo-chamber where their every thought is amplified. Even if it doesn’t really affect them. They are done. They want imperialism back in and all the little brown people out of their country.

Impervious to facts and they may have been but let’s be brutally honest with ourselves here…….

Whilst all this is true that’s not the only reason Trump got in. People are sick to fucking death of politicians who just sit back and protect the interests of their own pockets. They were desperate for someone who wasn’t a politician and…well…this is what we got. And on one level the people who voted against Clinton were right. A vote for Clinton would have been a vote for a dynasty that already has a tarnished history and much as I would have liked to have seen a female president and there probably was an element of sexism in not voting for her. There were plenty of reasons why people of good conscience would not have voted for Hillary, reasons that had nothing to do with her gender. She was not the good option. She was merely the lesser of two evils. Sadly that is thin comfort now we are stuck with the greater of two evils.

But there is something that you might need to keep in mind. Those of us that want the best for our fellow man? Those of us that want compassion to rule the day rather than hate? Those of us that want to see less war, less suffering, more love?

We have already won.

Yes, it’s not all good. But it’s the best it’s ever been. Out of all of human history, THIS is as good as it has ever been. Look I’m an optimist. I know it. And an idealist. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am right. Yes, there are setbacks. No, it’s not perfect and the some of the systems that we have put in place are failing. But if we zoom out. We have won already.

Some people who haven’t left their house since 1955 like Cori Bernardi (an Australian right wing nutjob) are having an extinction burst. You think the dinosaurs went quietly? But overwhelmingly we have already won. 75% of Australians want Gay marriage legal. And that is that 75% (an overwhelming majority considering how divided we are on politics) think that homosexuals should be on equal legal and moral standing as heterosexuals. Seriously. It’s a massive social change and something most of us can agree on.

So we have already won.

If we zoom out, even more, we see that this is the best time to be alive, people are living longer, more fulfilled lives, there is less war going on right now than there has ever been, less murder, less crime than since we started recording such things. We have more of everything good and less of everything bad and IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER. Does that mean that we should be complacent? Of course not and those that cry we can do better are right. In every way. But it’s also good to take a moment to recognise that whenever someone says something awful, yes people nod their heads but others SHOUT THEM DOWN. Every time Trump opens his mouth, yes people will agree with him but others will take issue with what he says, or more likely treat him as a national embarrassment, as a joke or ignore him and that is the worst thing that you can do to a narcissist.

You also have to remember that if you do not hear something that upsets you every day then you are not living in a free society. A free society does not mean that we all agree. A free society means that we are all free to dissent and state the reasons for our dissent in clear loud voices. Yes some of us have been silenced but our voices are being heard again. So we have already won.

We can vote in free elections where parties who have no idea what they are doing can garner votes.

Maybe it’s not enough just to say “Don’t do this” anymore. Maybe we need to be telling people why. In some ways, this could well be a good thing. Trump allows us to have conversations that perhaps we should have been having all along.

Change takes time. Social change is a large lumbering beast that never quite goes exactly where you want it to, and always takes longer than you would like. But history shows us that it does get there in the end. Hopefully, we will make it before this civilisation falls.

David Ike

Ah David Icke.

It’s impossible to really talk about David Ike on a crazy by crazy basis. The fact is that he is so nuts, so full of insane ideas and beliefs that it’s difficult to really truly wrap your head around what he is actually saying. His talks which are attended by adoring fans of his particular brand of “perspective” are done in 6 hours + stints. He once did a 13 hour lecture. I believe that only Castro ever went for longer. The audience isn’t so much persuaded as worn down.

In his books. Well his books. Oh dear.

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I read this book so you don’t have to

For the uninitiated let’s take a quick history of the Ike.

David Ike started off life as a footballer. Then after he did a knee he became a football commentator which somehow evolved into a job as a journalist. Which then evolved into being a minor celebrity. He did a breakfast show! Then afterwards he had what he and others call his Turquoise period. Where he wore nothing but turquoise after he lost his gig as a presenter he was basically written off as a middle class English eccentric. This was 1991. After a failed run in politics. He went on Terry Wogan’s show (wearing a turquoise parachute material jacket). This was a minor celebrity appearing on a daytime talk show to talk about what had been happening since his TV career had ended. But it didn’t go as planned. First Ike claimed that the world was going to end, then he claimed he was Jesus.

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So….this is going well isn’t it?

And that’s about as straight forward as it gets with poor David.

Maybe you enjoyed the movie “The Matrix” maybe you’re a fan. I know that I am. But no matter how much you or I enjoyed the Matrix. David Ike liked it more. He must have he has based at least 3 of his books on it. I have never yet met anyone who can cogently boil down Ikes ideas into a palatable or even understandable set of concepts.

So lets try shall we?

We live in a simulation. An intrinsic part of the simulation is the Law of attraction (just like the secret!) There are reptilians (from the Draco constellation Natch) and Aliens and the Annanuki. We the sheeple, live in a state of unawareness of how the world is manipulated by groups who are reptiles and also computer programs who have no free will of their own. These people wear red dresses and are people like Tony Blair, George Bush (whatever one you like) and The Queen who is so totally a lizard it’s not funny. Some of the Lizzard people are from another dimension. Which somehow can interact with this simulation. Remember we are in a simulation. Just like the matrix. The Earth and collective human mind are manipulated from the Moon, a spacecraft and inter-dimensional portal controlled by the reptilians. The Moon Matrix is a broadcast from that spacecraft to the human body–computer, specifically to the left hemisphere of the brain, which gives us our sense of reality: “We are living in a dreamworld within a dreamworld—a Matrix within the virtual-reality universe—and it is being broadcast from the Moon.” Unless people force themselves to become fully conscious, their minds are the Moon’s mind. So we are not real. The earth and moon is not real but the world we see in this unreal universe is broadcast into our mind from the moon…and Saturn. Which is also a hollow spaceship set up by lizard people. Also 9/11 was an inside job. Vaccinations are bad, fluoride melts your pituitary gland which you need to see the lizard people, and Homeopathy works because water not only has a memory. BUT A CONCIONESS. Despite all these twists and turns and wheels within wheels, his busy talking schedule and updating his blog like three times a day. Ike still finds time to be anti-Semitic. Endorsing “The protocols of the elders of Zion” in one of this books and denying the holocaust in another.

 

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I feel like an idiot typing all that.

Stephen Fry dislikes being called a rationalist. He likes being called an empiricist because one can believe a lot of strange things and still be rational. Rationality does not speak to evidence. Stephen likes evidence for things. David seems to be the exact opposite of Stephen Fry, he probably also dislikes being called a rationalist but it would take him 5 hours to tell you why.

There is a thing in debating circles called a “Gish Gallop” named after Duane Gish a man who when arguing would spout so much that was untenable, strange or debatable that people on the opposing side were invariably at a loss as to what to tackle first. So it often seems as though he won because people just gave up. I propose that we change the name of the Gish Gallop to the Ike itinerary. There is so much to get through EVEN just in my synopsis. That one struggles to know where to being. It’s like someone has been constantly vomiting crazy since 1989 and you have only just been handed a mop.

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I know, right?!

Like all purveyors of this kind of thing Ike claims “Special knowledge” and like all purveyors of this kind of thing the actual evidence is thin on the ground.

Do we live in a simulation?

Well it’s certainly possible. There is credence to the idea, so it is rational to think that we might be, but it’s one of those things that there is no actual evidence for.

But what’s my opinion? Are we living in an ancestor simulation (serious scientists and not David Ike, believe that the most likely simulation we would be living in is an ancestor simulation)? I say no.

First and foremost why would you bother to run ancestor simulations? What can a simulation do that is so interesting and yet would take up valuable computing time, a simulation is just that, it’s not 1-1 no matter how many variables you can input you are not actually generating history? If it’s a game then some people are not NPC’s but humans and human nature being what it is, I’m pretty damn sure someone would have mentioned something by now. Also, HOW DULL!

The accepted wisdom from Elon Musk, Nick Boestrum, Neil Degrass Tyson et al…. seems to be because technology moves towards being able to run ancestor simulations…….we do. Huh? I must be missing a step there. I would think that it’s much more likely that we are not in an ancestor simulation but in a game or entertainment that is VERY different from the world of whoever is generating us.

The other argument that we seem to be subjected to is that we live in such a perfect world. It must be generated.

*head desk*

And what universe are you comparing ours too?

This is the Panglossian argument that this is the best of all possible worlds. It is clearly not but it is so easy to believe because we live in it. Like the amoeba who lives in a puddle imagining that it must be designed for it. It’s the right shape, perfect size, filled with the right liquid for its thriving, it is perfect in all ways. Till it dries up.

This is anthropocentrism at its worst and yet it continues. Because humans love to imagine that we are special. Being’s running a simulation are just gods of another name. If they are running a simulation that means we are special. IF the beings are anything like us they would not be able to resist leaving clues to the fact that this is a simulation in their design.

Of course, there is no reason to fear to live in a simulation. Simulated or not I’m still living this one and only life. The important thing to remember?   Be entertaining. Then there’s no reason for them to turn it off. Perhaps that’s what David Ike is doing?

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Of course now this guy is gone, Ike has is work cut out for him.

Is the moon hollow?

Well there was a myth that did the rounds for YEARS that when Neil Armstrong et all landed on the moon there was a clang that resounded around the moon for over 20 minutes a clang that could be heard on earth and that meant the moon must be hollow. Of course this is nonsense, we never went to the moon.

No I kid. Of course we did and there was no clang the moon isn’t hollow.

I’m not sure just how much more I want to rebut.

Are there lizard people?

No.

Except the queen of course. She’s totally one step away from flipping her forked tongue out and snagging a passing insect.

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Do we live in a prison?

Is the world just a weird 4d simulation of a prison designed to hold our consciousness except that which is transmitted from the hollow moon?

Yes. Yes we do. And yes it is. Totally. No question. I’m convinced.

The minefield of prediction

Did anyone predict the internet?

There are several candidates for people who may have predicted “the internet”. It might seem an easy task. Just check out all the predictions and decide who was closest. But sadly it’s not that simple. Mainly because the predictions are often hidden in books, movies, and even music and while some of them seem spot on, often it’s left to the interpretation of the reader/watcher to say what they really meant. What I’m not including is predictions of things that already existed. Anyone who predicted videophones after 1930 was predicting the past, anyone one who was predicting a service you could call to find out anything like a call-up encyclopaedia was predicting the past because “The Mundaneum” had existed in Brussels since 1910. The Mundaneum was and is a card service you could call up and request any fact you liked. Basically Wikipedia you could either write to or call. And that’s awesome but what about genuinely prescient predictions?

First in our list of predictions is a very familiar name.

Jules Verne

Here is Verne staring off into the future….or rather the past as that is all anyone can stare at…

Jules Verne

Jules Verne earned his name as the father of modern science fiction. That guy was amazing. He predicted so much and was so good at sci-fi that his novels are still being read when almost all of his peers have fallen into obscurity.

When: 1864

What: The internet! “Paris in the twentieth century” is hardly what you would call a thrilling read. More like reading a Lonely Planet guide to a place that does not actually exist. And Vern’s publisher knew it, in fact even though Verne was a bankable commodity it was refused publication and the book it sat in a draw for 131 years.  Set in the far off year of 1960, his book describes mechanical computers which can send messages to each other as part of a network: “sophisticated electrically powered mechanical calculators which can send information to each other across vast distances” Cars were powered by internal combustion engines (a bold prediction in the 1860’s) petrol stations….he predicted petrol stations! The electric chair and remote-controlled weaponry.

How good is it?: Well as a concept that is basically the internet as we know it. But of course, the electronic computer was 100 years away. The electromechanical computer was 80 years away and a computer network was at least 100 years hence. The worldwide network described was 130 years away. It’s impressive but in the story, it’s kind of an afterthought. It’s not even used as a plot point. Basically, a Verne goes “Oh we have this thing…”

Mark Twain

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Here is Clemments on his way to a “Looking serious” convention

Samuel Clements is probably the most towering figure in all American literature, a raconteur, a wit, a Bon vivant a friend of Tesla and a detester of bullshit. He’s worth writing about all on his own. But did you know about his forays into science fiction?

When: 1898

What?: From “From the London times 1904” we get this strange prediction.

Set five years into the future, the story starts off as a crime mystery. Clayton, a quick-tempered army officer, is accused of murdering Szczepanik, the inventor of a new and promising device called the Telelectroscope. The tale’s unnamed narrator describes it like this:

As soon as the Paris contract released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to public use, and was soon connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved ‘limitless-distance’ telephone was presently introduced and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues.

Facing the hangman’s noose, Clayton asks for, and receives, a telelectroscope for his cell.

…day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realized that by grace of this marvelous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement. I sat in his parlor and read, and smoked, and the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would hear him say ‘Give me Yedo;’ next, ‘Give me Hong-Kong;’ next, ‘Give me Melbourne.’ And I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered about the remote underworld, where the sun was shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily work.

It sure sounds like an interactive TV but it doesn’t really describe the internet in its myriad of wonder. And unless you’ve actually invented a device it’s always a bad idea to explain how it works…. While Verne’s description of a computer network is vaguer, it’s this vagueness that, ironically makes it seem more accurate.

Em Forester

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Here he is talking to a duck pond

Em forester almost exclusively wrote the kind of novels that you have to sit through in literature class. With people who rattle about Edwardian houses not saying what they mean to other people who stare at the duck pond and mumble. I found them interminable.  And yet his short stories often delved into science fiction. And excellent science fiction to boot.

When: 1909

What: The internet…sort of. He actually predicts the rise of a global machine that runs humans day to day life for them. Cubicles that humans live in are serviced by the machine who takes care of their ever need. But after centuries of being catered to humanity has forgotten how to repair the machine and it is now breaking down. The main characters mother is also an expert on “Music from the Australian period” which I choose to believe means that she carefully studies Midnight Oil.

How good is it?: As a prediction of the internet not amazing. But as a short story, it’s really, really good. And somewhat of a surprise coming from the guy who wrote “The remains of the day”. And who knows it may still predict the next stage of internet evolution?

Nikola Tesla

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You think he’s a genius, he’s thinking about Pigeons .

Tesla might have well as been a science fiction writer for all the stuff he just made up. He’d be easy to dismiss if he hadn’t also invented some of the most important pieces of electronics of the 20th century many of which we still use and rely on. So it’s not surprising that people even at the time took whatever he said seriously.

When: 1928

What: In this prediction, he isn’t, in fact, predicting the internet but the Mobile Phone. Specifically the smartphone. “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

Any good?: As with a lot of these predictions, people were all about the sending of live pictures from one place to another  that seemed to be a real thing that people wanted but not so much with the information. Also, it should be noted that people were already experimenting with video phones when this was stated…not least of all Tesla. But it is impressive that he managed to predict the smartphone in my pocket.

William Fitzgerald Jenkins

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This guy!

Murray Leinster used the name William Fitzgerald Jenkins to write for Pulp magazines in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s but unlike a lot of pulp writers of the time H.P, Lovecraft, Richard Matherson, Robert Bloch or L.Ron Hubbard he is all but forgotten today. He described the first instance of a “Universal Translation Device” in his short story “First Contact”. He worked for all the usual suspects such as Hugo Gernsback and John W Cambell Jr. And was well respected at the time.

When: 1946

What? A Logic named Joe, short story.

“You know the logics setup. You got a logic in your house. It looks like a vision receiver used to, only it’s got keys instead of dials and you punch the keys for what you wanna get. It’s hooked in to the tank, which has the Carson Circuit all fixed up with relays. Say you punch “Station SNAFU” on your logic. Relays in the tank take over an’ whatever vision-program SNAFU is telecastin’ comes on your logic’s screen. Or you punch “Sally Hancock’s Phone” an’ the screen blinks an’ sputters an’ you’re hooked up with the logic in her house an’ if somebody answers you got a vision-phone connection. But besides that, if you punch for the weather forecast or who won today’s race at Hialeah or who was mistress of the White House durin’ Garfield’s administration or what is PDQ and R sellin’ for today, that comes on the screen too. The relays in the tank do it. The tank is a big buildin’ full of all the facts in creation an’ all the recorded telecasts that ever was made—an’ it’s hooked in with all the other tanks all over the country—an’ everything you wanna know or see or hear, you punch for it an’ you get it. Very convenient. Also it does math for you, an’ keeps books, an’ acts as consultin’ chemist, physicist, astronomer, an’ tea-leaf reader, with a “Advice to the Lovelorn” thrown in. The only thing it won’t do is tell you exactly what your wife meant when she said, “Oh, you think so, do you?” in that peculiar kinda voice. Logics don’t work good on women. Only on things that make sense.”

An odd kind of sexism aside. That ladies and gentleman is basically the internet to a tea. In fact, if you got my mother to explain the internet I’m pretty sure that’s closer than how she would get.

It’s also not a bad story. It manages to be predictive and entertaining all at the same time as well as providing a cautionary tale of what happens when we get the ability to build “black boxes” creations that are so complex that we can barely understand them ourselves.

A comic strip

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Comic strips have been around in various forms for hundreds of years. ……that’s what I got for that one.

When: 1962

What? Yep….well it was also wildly optimistic about what the internet might be like and the influence that it has on our life. This particular comic strip Our New Age which ran in the Chicago tribune. This particular strip which was authored by Athelstan Spilhaus dean of the Chicago institute of technology predicted that in the near future all main would be electronic and that the post office would only be there to deliver parcels. Researchers thousands of miles away would research books held in the British museum. People will work odd hours because you might work for a company based in another country where the waking hours are different.

It’s not bad, but once again it is almost predicting the time that it was set in. Electronic communication was nothing really new, and people did take jobs in other countries.

Arthur C Clarke

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Here is Clarke giving the bird to exploration

Arthur C Clarke was possibly the world’s first professional futurist. An author he basically invented satellites and with Stanley Kubrick gave pot smokers something to do for two and a half hours.

When: 1964

What?: On the BBC program, Horizon Clarke is asked about the world of the future “We could be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be, where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London…. Almost any executive skill, any administrative skill, even any physical skill, could be made independent of distance. I am perfectly serious when I suggest that one day we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand.” So basically he nailed it. Totally. Except for the bit about super-intelligent chimpanzees which he then goes on about. “We can certainly solve our servant problem with the help of the monkey kingdom” such uplifts from the animal world are explored in his book Rendezvous with Rama where beautiful super intelligent monkeys are on board the ship and then proceed not to be integral to the plot at all.

Honourable Mention: Pete Townsend. Yes, the guy from The Who.

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What: After the Who’s breakout hit smash concept Rock Opera Tommy Pete Townsend decided that another concept album was the way to go this time a Sci-fi Rock opera. Lifehouse:  In the far future Rock and Roll is banned, the world is a polluted wreck and everyone experiences their lives through “Life suits” suits that you wear that take you to other places and give you full body interaction with everyone else in the world. You can go anywhere, do anything the suit provides with sensory stimulation and nutrients as well as exercise. The suit is plugged into “The Grid” where you can share your experience with all other grid inhabitants. You can experience lifetimes in short burst.

Why have I never heard of this?

Well, Townsend wasn’t really well when he was creating this concept and this is just one iteration of it, it went through many variations and spawned at least two Who albums as Townsend tried to get it made. It caused him a nervous breakdown at one point. The main problem seemed to be that aside from this sci-fi concept there was also a whole big chunk on feeding biographical information into computers to create the perfect note. Which no-one else in the band understood and Townsend didn’t seem to be able to explain. It was eventually turned into both a radio play and an album in 2000 but neither set the world alight as the concept was well worn by that stage but in 1971 it was predictive enough to be included here. It features a future that not only includes the internet but may well be the way the internet is going.

Is it good?: Well, the whole “In the far future Rock and Roll is banned” is one of those concepts that surround rock bands whenever they want to do something a little sci-fi. Queen, Aerosmith, and various other groups have all had a toe in the “we are the band that is going to bring back rock after it gets banned”. Queen twice, once in the computer game “The Eye” and once in “We will Rock you” their musical. Apart from that yes it’s quite an impressive prediction from someone not know as either a writer or a futurist. And it spawned “Who’s Next” probably the best Who album in existence.

A Muslim in the Bathtub

Foreword: I have been writing this for a while and whilst it really has nothing to do with the recent events in Orlando (because all evidence points to the fact that that guy wasn’t really a Muslim, was gay and was just an angry disturbed prick) this is just when it came out. I’ve been wanting to write all this down for a while now and…well here it is. An earlier version of this appeared in the now defunct blog “Me, me me it’s all about me” but that was about three pages shorter and not as good.

Say I wander into my bathroom and find water draining from the bath. Do I assume that it has always been draining because I have not witnessed at time when it has not been draining? No that would be ridiculous, but this is exactly the same trap that people fall into regarding many everyday things we see around us. Its call the “Bathtub” fallacy and it’s amazing how often people fall for it.

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On a side note there is a weird tradition of trying to see Arabic writing on fish. This one apparently says “Muhammad is Gods servant and messenger” but on the other side it says “Cow’s are delicious”

If we haven’t been around for the genesis of something then it’s tempting to think that it’s been going on forever. I’m sure there are children around today that believe we have always had T.V. the Internet and mobile phones. When I was a child I was amazed to discover that there was a time that my grandmother could remember when there was no electricity to houses. I was blown away by this. How could something so every day, so ubiquitous not have always been around?

It’s easy for instance to think that Muslims have always been fundamentalist and that the religion lends itself to fundamentalism, strict policies and violence. To us it seems that Islam is a religion that lends itself to such dangerous fundamentalism that other religions can only stand and stare with their mouths open, yes there are moderate Muslims out there but as a whole the entire religion seems to be completely lacking a sense of humor. Suicide bombings, fatwa’s and taking cartoons entirely too seriously don’t help, not to mention ISIL.  Could these people have ever been reasonable?

Islam is a monotheistic religious tradition that developed in the Middle East in the 7th century C.E. Islam, which literally means “surrender” or “submission,” was founded on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as an expression of surrender to the will of Allah, the creator and sustainer of the world. The Quran, the sacred text of Islam, contains the teachings of the Prophet that were revealed to him from Allah. Essential to Islam is the belief that Allah is the one true God with no partner or equal. Islam like any large religion has several branches and much variety within those branches. Two traditional divisions within the faith are the Sunni and Shi’a, each of which claims different means of maintaining religious authority. One of the unifying characteristics of Islam is the Five Pillars, the fundamental practices of Islam. These five practices include a ritual profession of faith, ritual prayer, the zakat (giving to charity and the needy), fasting, and the hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca). Many Muslims characterized their commitment by praying to Allah five times a day. One of the defining characteristics of Islam is the primacy of sacred places including Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. Muslims gather at mosques to worship Allah, pray, and study scripture. There is no sharp distinction between the religious and secular aspects of life in Islam as you might find in the west or other faiths; all aspects of a Muslim’s life are to be oriented to serving Allah and in obvious ways that are integrated into everyday life. A Muslim rarely “leaves it at church”. After its conception Islam expanded almost immediately beyond its birthplace in the Arabian Peninsula, and now has significant influence in Africa, throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

More pronounced in Islam than in most Christian religions is the idea of abasement. Allah created you and is actively sustaining you. Therefore it is only right and proper to devote yourself to Allah in all things. Your religion is not simply a moral compass that you carry with you thorough the day and then worship on Sundays you are abasing yourself before Allah in all things because he keeping you alive. This is the kind of devotion that I have only ever witnessed personally in one Christian and…to be honest it was creepy. They often said “I do nothing under my own power or my own will, God strengthens me and guides me in all things” later they became a Nun and then a Hari Christina when that didn’t work out (but I digress). Now it’s entirely possible that many Christians believe that this is true of themselves but they rarely state it openly. The commandment from Mohammad was to be devotional, that you carry the responsibility to please your God with you at all times. This is VERY present in the religion on all levels. And this is on top of the usual religious ideology that comes with a major Abrahamic religions. You are powerless before your god and you must do what he wills. How do you know what he wills? Well don’t worry about that, like most religions people will tell you. About 50 times a day. It is possible that it is this seamless integration by faith into everything that makes Muslims susceptible to fanaticism but then. Maybe not.

If the media are to be believed you would think that Muslims want Sharia law for Australia they want to terrorize Bendigo and want all women to wear Burqas. Yet the facts are that there has only been one call for Shira law and that from an extremist who was asked “Would you like sharia law for Australia” and when was the last time you actually saw a woman in a Burqa? Yeah I thought so, that’s because out of all the Muslims in Australia only an estimated 325 actually wear them. And a cursory glance at the Quran will tell you that whilst there are some fairly hard-line aspects to it, it doesn’t contain any rules that are stranger or bloodier than the Old Testament. Yes Mohammad tells people to “Slap the infidel” but as Sam Harris said “There is nothing more bloody and barbaric than the Old Testament, the Quran pales in comparison”. And for once the bastard is right. Although this is the only time you will ever find me agreeing with Sam Harris.

Here’s some samples of the Old Testament;

Ye shall keep the sabbath … every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death.–31:14

He that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.–24:16

And the man that … will not hearken unto the priest … that man shall die.–17:12

And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine.–49:26

Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.–22:12-13

This is but a sample of the horrors contained within the text, The last one in in fact from the new testament where a guest at a wedding doesn’t have a Tux…so the King has him put to death….and that’s fine with Jesus….

In contrast the Quran is not always quite as full on.

Don’t bother to warn the disbelievers. Allah has blinded them. Theirs will be an awful doom. 2:6

A fire has been prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones. 2:24

Disbelievers will have a painful doom. And they will have no helpers. 3:91

Hell is sufficient for their burning. 4:55

And sometimes it is!

Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, then kill them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. (But if they desist in their unbelief, then don’t kill them.) 2:191-2

I’m not bashing Christianity here, merely pointing out that despite some very upsetting and baffling things in their bible for the most part they get along with other people just fine. I have very good Christian friends whom I’m sure will not put me to death. Even if I turned up to their wedding naked.

In the Quran there is stuff about fighting wars and being prepared to fight and dying for the cause but it’s also couched in this “Don’t worry about the unbeliever, their doomed” kind of thing. Doom is very big for the unbeliever in the Quran.

BUT unlike the bible the Quran has a tone. The Bible is talking to everyone collectively, the Quran is talking to YOU. You the guy in the scarf, yes you. The one with shoes. You the believer, you who wants to do the right thing by the creator who you own your very existence too. You are here to serve. Here’s how you do that.

Of course much like the Bible the Quran is choc full of contradictions.

Do not fight wars of aggression. 2:190    (It’s tempting to laugh at that but think how many passages of the bible Christians ignore when it suits them)

“There is no compulsion in religion.” (But the next verse says that disbelievers will burn forever in Hell.) 2:256

It is good to help the poor and make peace. 4:114  

“O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion.” Other translations render this as “O people of the Book, do not be fanatical in your faith.” 4:171

 Whoever kills a human being, it is as if he had killed all mankind. Whoever saves the life of one, it is as if he had saved the life of all.
(But If I’m being completely honest the next verse says that the enemies of Allah and Muhammad will be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off, or expelled. And after they die they will face SURPRISE! “An awful doom.” So yeah contradictions) 5:32

So if the Quran really isn’t more bloody or violent than the bible, so how it is that Christians for the most part seem to be above rabid bloody fundamentalism? There are exceptions of course and yes the Westborough Baptist church springs to mind, but to be honest there are about 20 of them and abhorrent thought they are, they have never actually killed anyone. So if Christians and people of nearly every other faith can desire to live in a peaceful society where religious pluralism reigns, what is it about the Muslim faith that makes it susceptible to this kind of fanaticism?

Well it’s possible as I mentioned that the tone of the Quran doesn’t help, also Christians make the distinctions between the Old Testament and the New Testament (although people of the Jewish faith follow the Old Testament and seem not to be as fanatical) and tend not to follow the Old Testament. Yes these are possibilities and I am not the first person to postulate them but this does not answer the initial question. How long have Muslims been fanatics?

The answer is about 50 years.

In fact it might even be less than that some scholars believe that they can pinpoint the moment that the Muslim world changed and that was in 1967.

In the 1950’s there was a resurgence in outdated and unpopular traditions, things like the veil, male-female segregation and fundamentalism began gaining ground in the Muslim world (none of which are mandated in the Quran), this was mainly due to the efforts of followers of an 18th centaury scholar Mohammed Al Wahab. His followers ran a concerted campaign to return the Muslim world to it’s roots, which in this case mean returning to traditions, many of which Al Wahab just plain made up.

During his lifetime, Wahab was taken about as seriously as Derren Hinch is taken today in the Australia sure he has his followers but the general population largely ignores him. ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s teachings were criticized by a number of Islamic scholars for disregarding Islamic history, monuments, traditions and the sanctity of Muslim life. His own brother, Sulayman, was particularly critical, claiming he was ill-educated and intolerant, classing Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s views as fringe and fanatical. But in the late 1950s, Wahabi Muslim thinkers like Sayyid Qutb started to urge total separation between Islam and the West, arguing that the outside world had “nothing else to give humanity.” The other name for his view was Salafi which for a very long time just meant “A firm adherent to the Quran” but According to Ahmad Moussalli, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, “As a rule, all Wahhabis are Salafists, but not all Salafists are Wahhabis”. Yet others say that while Wahhabism and Salafism originally were two different things, they became practically indistinguishable in the 1970s.

But whilst this idea had more adherents the second time around it was it wasn’t the thing that swung the Muslim culture down the road it currently travels there was a catalyst.

In 1967 Israel won the Six-say War and took the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights  against the combined forces of Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

To fundamentalists this was a dramatic illustration of the crisis that they saw in Islam: lethargic, backwards Muslims defeated by a modern enemy (Israel had and still has one of the best run and most modern militaries in the world). Thus it was only natural for the debate about Islam to reemerge in the aftermath of the 1967 defeat.
The fundamentalists and ardents of  ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s argued that the Arabs had lost the war because they had lost their faith and direction. That they had strayed too far from the central tenants of Islam and that the faith was in crisis. They argued that because they had disconnected themselves from a deeply held system of beliefs the Arabs proved an easy prey to Israeli power.
They argued that Islamic society needs a rigid system of beliefs, an ideology to guide it. Their contention was that a strict fundamentalist interpretation of Islam offered that system of beliefs and could do what no other imported doctrine could hope to do – mobilize the believers, instill discipline, and inspire people to make sacrifices and, if necessary, to die for the cause through martyrdom.

And so the fundamentalist mentality was not born but suddenly accepted, and to some Islam slipped backwards 400 years to a time that had never actually existed at any point in its history. In the Middle Ages for instance Islam was tolerant of other ideas and religions (more so than Christianity was at the time), perused science and mathematics and traded fairly with China and surrounding countries but in these days of “enlightenment” it has withdrawn and worse become dangerous.

Reporting from Saudi Arabia for The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright interviewed an older Saudi man who reminisced about the good old days when men and women used to be able to celebrate weddings together and remembers frequenting a beach where women and men could intermingle freely. Something that would be unthinkable and illegal today.

The unfortunate lesson with fundamentalist religions around the world seems to be that when backed into a corner faith runs towards fundamentalism but walks very slowly away from it. And opposition to fundamentalism only seems to make it stronger. It also seems to be true that events can make a religion fundamentalist of any religion. In this and many other regards Islam is not unique. Australians wonder if they should be wary of Muslims and the Muslin faith. The answer is yes and no. Any belief system can sour, all belief has the capacity for fundamentalism. Worldwide there are roughly 50 million Salafists, including roughly 20 to 30 million Salafis in India, 5 to 6 million Salafis in Egypt, 27.5 million Salafis in Bangladesh and 1.6 million Salafis in Sudan. Salafi communities are smaller elsewhere, including roughly 10,000 in Tunisia, 17,000 in Morocco, 7,000 in Jordan, 17,000 in France and 5,000 in Germany. But this does not mean that all Salafists are hard line fundamentalists who want to kill all unbelievers. There have been lots of figures thrown about Daniel Pipes figures that there are 120-180 million actively militant Muslims in the world. But that figure can’t really be close to accurate otherwise we would not see sporadic violence we would see concerted violence. A more accurate estimate would be 1-2% of the worldwide Muslim population which would be 12 – 30 million are hard-line fundamentalist who want to go and do some damage. Which proves that even if this religion were set up to breed fanatics it’s not really that good at doing so. So what should we do? We should be on guard, we should do our best to remove ISIL, we should celebrate the freedom we have and the lifestyle that we cherish. We should be supportive of moderate Muslims wherever we find them but also be wary of blatant Islamophobia and sheer racism dressed up as “vigilance”.

 

And continuing our coverage…

Oh Canada.

Yes America’s hat is back in the news.

Well this election season is hotting up with people keen to have no fucking idea what they are talking about. Anthony Albanese just suggested that Canada could take Australia’s refugees. Frankly if that deal goes through I’m going to look in to see if Canada can take me. I thought the idea is that we are trying to make coming to Australia less attractive? So what is it, rabid xenophobia aside? Are we trying to stop people coming or are we just being dicks? Have we spoken to the Canadians about this? I don’t recall any deal whereby if we suddenly turn out to be a country of unfeeling monsters they take up the slack. Although I haven’t thoroughly read the Commonwealth principals. So because we are now dicks Canada can have them? Oh good thinking! Anything to shirk our responsibility to the UN convention that we signed. I love how we can just duck out on that anytime we like but why don’t we all try that when it comes to tax time. “Oh I don’t want to pay tax anymore, I never even signed anything that says I would, I feel that playing tax only encouraged money to be extracted from me and I need all my money” yeah go on. Being a signatory to a convention does not just go away because it becomes inconvenient or political expedient. Do you want Russians? Because that’s how you get Russians.

What we are seeing here are two governments desperately trying to do the wrong thing and get away with it.

I am honestly not even sure why we are supposed to be afraid of refugees anymore. If we are sending them to Canada we are clearly unconcerned about their welfare they have Bears and Moose.