Monday, 3 October 2016

A Girl And Her Donut

Not a euphemism, by the way. The following is a true story of a little encounter I had a couple of days ago. I was sat next to a young girl when somebody else placed several bags of donuts on the table to her left. Her eyes flashed with desire, and she commented on the smell. I assumed she was referring to the food rather than any unsavoury odour I was permeating, so I enquired as to whether she intended to partake?
"Oh no!" She exclaimed, "I'm going on holiday in November."
Please note that it was October 1st. Showing uncharacteristic restraint I resisted encouraging her to seek medical advice. But let's be honest if it takes your metabolism that long to break down a jam donut then clearly something isn't working as it should. Being the true gentleman I am I scoffed one right beside her, lickingng my lips and slobbering like Jimmy Saville in a deserted mortuary. I also did my best to lead her astray but must confess to singularly failing in this project. I have to hand it to the girl; she'd got self control. Beyond the comic value of this episode I did find myself contemplating what such vanity says about someone? But then is it vanity? Could she simply be a reflection of the disproportionate value we place on physical appearance these days? If yes then how sad. How tragic that we have reduced ourselves to this. One day this fresh faced young thing will have wrinkles, cellulite, and sagging in all kinds of unwanted places. I can't help but wonder if she's making a rod for her own back. But then perhaps I'm just jealous? Perhaps this flagging arthritic 45 year old secretly yearns for his younger, more finally tuned days. . .
Actually no. I don't want to turn back the clock. Physical afflictions aside I like who I am. I'm way past any desire to fit some pre ordained mould, and if it's all the same to you I shall plod on in my own weary, occasionally cynical way. I'm unconcerned how this world perceives me, and my hope for our donut phobic fair maiden is that she reaches a similar equilibrium. I hope she comes to recognise that being good is far less fun than being real.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Pinocchio Index

The Washington Post has something called the Pinocchio Index, a means by which the truthfulness or falsity of any given claim can be measured. It goes from 1 to 4. Donald Trump has a lot of 4's. This blog isn't about him because he's a wanker, but it is about whether we, as individuals, are actually interested in truth. By truth I refer to measurable and falsifiable facts, not religious truths, which are self evidently made up. The way social media works is often an impediment to getting to the heart of a thing, and it's all my fault. And yours. Well everybody's. We tend to gravitate towards the opinions we want to hear, the one's that reinforce our own biases. That's human nature, but it is also not great for truth seeking. Back when I was a Christian, I read loads of Christian books and listened to loads of Christian speakers and surrounded myself with lots of Christian friends. I loved my life and the people around me and it all kind of made sense. I was pressing all the buttons to hear the messages I already wanted to hear, and in so doing got caught up in a perpetual feedback loop of ignorance. Now ignorance isn't a crime, and I remain ignorant about a vast ocean of things. But the difference between now and then is that my pursuit of truth is done, as much as I can, without stacking the deck before hand. Now there is a German saying that refers to "Finding the hair in the soup", which is to refer to the kind of person who always tries to seek the negative. This isn't me either. I don't set out to be negative, but I'm not interested in what makes me feel good, or secure, or better able to cope, either. I'm just interested in what is true. In where the facts lead. I try to remain emotionally neutral as I do this. Which isn't always easy. Case in point, I'm awaiting confirmation that a have a degenerative condition which, in all probability, is going to require some lifestyle modification. Of the two hundred variants of arthritis on the market I strongly suspect that I'm host to one of its more enthusiastic brands. But I don't know for sure. I'm waiting on the evidence. So whilst I do that I don't see much point in trying to fill the gaps. The facts aren't in, and it is the facts that I am interested in. So to wind things up, I'm a big fan of being open to new information. Of living in an evidence based manner. Perhaps this is why I'm so hostile to the priest's and the imams of the world who claim to know things that they cannot possibly know. The get straight 4's on the Pinocchio Index in my book.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Just A Woman?

The title could be perceived as insulting if the motivation for choosing it is not explained. So explain I shall. Just the other day my older sister used this quote to describe a social situation she had found herself in. The very words bothered me straight off the bat; their implication being that she accepted herself as somehow less. I told her to cut that shit out. I told her she didn't get to play that card anymore. Now please do not misunderstand me. I know in the battle for equality we still have a way to go, but for a woman to self define in such negative terms is hardly going to move the project forward. I think it is so important that the prevailing mood music continues to change, and my particular gender has a massive part to play in this. I respect and admire the female gender, in many ways more so than I do my own. I see the contribution made to the planet by women and it seems overwhelmingly positive. Compare this with the erosion and destruction wrought by men, and it only adds to the urgent need to speed up the global trend of female empowerment. Parents need to be instiling in their daughters that they are powerhouses, forces to be reckoned with. And we need to be teaching our sons that they must have the deepest respect for the females in their lives. Mutual respect breeds mutual empowerment. Now of course I understand that individual relationship dynamics may differ; lets face it and acknowledge that there is usually a dominant partner within a relationship. Coup!es have to be free to choose how their respective dynamics work, but that's a separate issue from the wider panorama. I'm just saying that a society that cherishes women, that releases them to reach the highest personal altitude is going to be a better society for all. If I was going to venture one critique towards my fellow denizens with the two X chromosomes, it would be that you could sometimes be braver when it comes to expressing expectations and enforcing standards. A cursory glance at my Facebook feed will regularly contain the tearful complaints of women wronged, women who's partners have walked away, or failed them. All too often I read updates that evoke the victim mentality, and I quietly wonder whether these women have allowed themselves to be dictated to? Or just plain disrespected? I think ladies that you need to own that shit and take it upon yourself to impose yourselves more. You can be both feminine and powerful; in fact you might actually find that you become more beguiling to a smarter breed of partner. If you keep adopting the same behaviours you're going to be getting the same outcomes. Understand this. More than that, learn to harness and focus your own strengths. Don't be a victim. And don't adopt a victim mentality. To me that's plain self harm.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Can you see it? Can you perceive it? No image has effected me as much as this one for a very long time. Look at how they relate to each other. The eye contact, the acceptance, the inate way one perceives the other. As I appraise them the first word that comes to me is fortress. Their relationship is a stronghold, a bastion, a lighthouse facing an immense ocean. Beneath those lines, those etchings of timeless experience is something strong. Something deep and enduring. In their gaze I see victory, experience, deep knowledge and connection. More than that it inspires me, makes me dare to dream that a day may come in the deep distance when I can share such a glance with my Joy. What must it feel like to reach such an age having weathered life's slings and arrows? Emerging connected, bound, effectively a single organism comprising two parts. I do not fear death, but the men in my family are not particularly long lived. As such I may not be privileged enough to enter deep old age with my faculties intact. God forbid, I've spent most of this year coming to terms with the limitations of my own body. I'm struggling, to be quite honest, and there's some repairs needed to the hull. As Christopher Hitchins observed, it is only when it rebels against you that one learns that you don't so much as have a body, but rather that you are a body. Still, a man can dare to hope, can't he? And my hope is that Joy and I move into our vintage with a sustained desire to create and innovate when it comes to our relationship. We're good at discovering new elements within each other, and we're not afraid to step outside convention when we know it will make us richer. Isn't it the case that in any relationship the goal should be to seek to become the truest versions of ourselves? To shed the fear and hesitancy? To dare to be vulnerable?
As a man, being vulnerable before my lady hasn't always come naturally to me, yet when I do the rewards outweigh the risks so massively as to render trepidation sheer folly. Joy knows things about me that give her tremendous power, and I've had to trust her with this. But trust is the lifeblood of any relationship isn't it? Is it even possible to sustain a relationship without it? I don't see how? But as always I digress. When you finish reading this just look at that old couple again. They were young once, with appetites and inner conflicts and all the rest. Can you sense how far they've come? Can you comprehend the epic, sweeping scope of such a journey? I'm awestruck. I'm captivated. The image has seized me by the collar and it keeps drawing me in. And here's the thing; the more I look the more vibrant it becomes. Its sheer humanity compels me towards seeking to emulate it. At least to try. See the warmth, sense the enduring connection. And dare to dream.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Koran And Fireman Sam

Seriously! Apparently the producers of Fireman Sam have offended the religion of peace by showing an episode during which a character appears to step on a page of the Koran. This has apparently caused "offence" in some circles, and has led to the episode itself being pulled from the schedules along with suitably groveling apologies ventured. Do you know what offends me? Jet aircraft being flown into skyscrapers. Trucks being driven through crowds. Mass shootings. Executions of innocent clergy members. Those things offend me deeply. By way of contrast, if our beloved firefighter was captured on film slipping on a copy of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, as an atheist I would take no offence. I would likely chuckle. Not so some adherents of the religion of peace, which incidentally continues to tread all over modern culture like a child that has trodden in dog shit. You see, denying a woman basic human rights is seemingly ok, as is murdering homosexuals whom dare to live out their true natures. But tread on their comic book, or speak of it with anything other than deference and the consequences can be startling. You can rest assured the production company in question will currently be undergoing various safety briefings, and the Metropolitan police have probably already attended to give appropriate safety advice. That we have allowed the vapid ideology of Islam to have such an automatic respect in modern culture is astonishing to me, as is how we pander and bow the knee all in the idea of not offending certain sensibilities. Now here's the thing; not all ideas are created equal. Not all ideas are worthy of respect. And I happen to think its high time we actually stood up to this creeping erosion of our personal liberty. Dear Muslims, please believe as you see fit and cherish those beliefs if that is what inspires you. But do not seek to impose your ideology on those who want no part of it. And if you really want respect then a good start would be to develop markedly thicker skin, and quit playing the religious hurt feelings card. It makes you look like a schoolchild scowling in the playground, bottom lip protruding and pony tails flapping in the breeze. Let's just say its not an impressive sight.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How It (mostly) Works Around Here

I've never really craved vast wealth, or a massive house, or flashy cars, although I wouldn't say no to them if they came my way. The truth is, in order to afford the high life you have to work really hard. Now call me vulgar, but I just do not want to. I don't want to spend that long at the coalface. Call me lazy if you wish, but I'm just being honest. I've always tried to strike a balance between putting in a good shift at work, and then stepping away and distancing myself. I don't live to work, but instead work to live. In actual fact the term I use is that I work to subsidise my other interests. My job doesn't define me. No one thing does. We live in a small but happy home, with a very small mortgage that doesn't cripple us. We're not in debt, we've got a cash buffer, and I would describe our position as cautiously comfortable. If we wanted more I could do overtime, or Joy could go back to teaching and we'd be even wealthier. We would also be miserable. And time starved. So you can keep the cars and the expensive holidays and all the rest. There is a little sign in our little house that says "It's not how big the house is, It's how happy the home is." I think those words are bigger than the sum of their parts. Like any family we have issue's, and like any couple we go through challenging periods. But I've always known that at root both Joy and I want a relationship that works. That's a solid base. And from there it's about calibrating and recalibrating, figuring out the best way forward. More than that, It's remembering to do the stuff that makes those memories. Both as a couple and as a family unit. I'm no expert on any of those things, but I don't think you necessarily need to be. So me and my imperfections plod onward, as does Joy with hers. Add a smattering of teenage daughter and preteens daughter and you just know that from time to time the rug gets pulled from underneath your feet. So going back to the original topic, which I think abandoned somehow, I think on balanced that the freedom that time brings offers more than the freedom that more money brings. And that's the basis of how things work around here.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Christianity. An Intellectual Turd Factory.

Interesting conversation this week. With someone I respect. I got to see up close how thinking Biblically is really just short hand for turning one's brain off. The issue was about sexuality, and how this person would feel if they realised their child was gay. Now I've already said to both my girls that I don't care who they love or how they love, just as long as they have love. Their sexuality is their business, and nothing that could negatively influence my feelings. This person with whom I was in dialogue with confessed that they would struggle to feel as I do on the issue, and you've already probably guessed why. Of course, its the good ship Christianity swooping in to derail reason and logical thinking once again. Concerning sexuality, or in fact most moral issues one need only consider the following; namely is what I am doing or considering doing likely to cause real harm in the real world? That's all that is required. Think morality, think in terms of harm. The rest will sort itself out. Alas, a mind pickled and marinated in decades of biblical thinking cannot see beyond what their religion tells them to see. Back in the days when I was a believer I got to hear a lot of trite throwaway lines on the issue of homosexuality. Phrases like "It's less than God's best", or of course, "It's not how we were made to be." There were other's, but they all rolled off of the intellectual turd factory known as Christianity. Complete inability to think in terms of the harm principle, a dreary addiction to what scripture says. And oh boy does it have something to say. The Old Testament in particular uses terms such as abomination, and Leviticus 20, verse 10 makes clear that if man should lie with another man he should be put to death. Cool, Lesbian sex still good to go! Apologies, I digress. At this point the average well meaning Christian will tell us that Jesus bought a new revelation, only this directly contradicts what Jesus says himself. He makes clear that not a single stroke of the old law should go, but rather he states this;

“For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:18-19
“It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17)
“Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19)

So, the figure of Jesus was just as monumental a twat as his bipolar father. To conclude then, when a person of faith speaks into matters of homosexuality they can and should be roundly ignored. No defence can be made against such hate speech. My sadness is that so many otherwise lovely people; people I consider as friends continue to regard this toxic mush of imbecilic nonsense as some kind of guide to modern morality. To that I say only this. If you are gay, transgender, or have a form of sexuality that is unique to you then stand proud. If what you do causes no measurable harm, and if your actions with others are safe and sane and consensual then celebrate your uniqueness. To close, when I was a young teenager I watched a film called My Beautiful Laundrette. It contained an intense sex scene involving two men. It helped me to realise that I was heterosexual and that was that. I never struggled with my sexuality in that regard. As I have aged I have discovered different aspects to my sexual persona, and I have wrestled with some aspects. But I have never been persecuted. Never been told that I was not normal, or that I would go to Hell for my inclinations. I urge all readers of this blog to think in terms of the harm principle when it comes to pretty much every moral issue you face. There's nothing said in scripture that hasn't been said better and with less accompanying baggage elsewhere. And as for Christian's there is nothing for me to say as I am clear that you will not be swayed. As such I pity you. Genuinely pity you. You live in a very small world.