Sunday, March 29, 2009
It excites me to see weird words, I want to speak them and feel them being shaped by my mouth and mind. I want to write them down, write with them, use them in my stories and blog posts and emails and in general conversation. Words like thaumaturgy. The definition:
n. The working of miracles or magic feats.
thauma·turgic, thauma·turgi·cal adj.
It's so exciting. It reminds me of metallurgy, so it conjures (and yes, I've used conjure there on purpose) up images of a scholarly type working with some malleable, molten-liquid, silvery magical substance, taking notes and waving his wand. The possibilities are endless.
And so, the natural progression of this post is to move on to a rant of sorts. I judge you for using bad grammar. I recently watched Marley and Me (great movie, by the way), and I also came across a book written by Steve Irwin's wife, called Irwin and Me. And it drives me mad. The fact that a book - a book! - can be titled in a manner that is grammatically incorrect makes me want to crumple up into a little ball and explode. The fact that some editor allowed that to go to print is abhorrent. The movie title - I know the name is an alliteration and it makes for a nice sounding title, but just that fact is not reason enough, as far as I'm concerned, to break the grammatical laws.
The English language is changing all the time, molding like the silvery substance in my thaumaturgy example, but surely grammatical rules still hold place? How many people realize that Marley and Me should be Marley and I? If these kinds of errors are made common in popular culture and media, how will we ever escape their incorrect use? I don't think we will. The sms, email and chat client method of communication is altering our usage of language drastically, and soon enough we shall all be speaking like children.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Additionally, I'm inviting you to vote for Fernando Torres as PFA Player of the Month. Here's the link: PFA Fans award
I'm also reading a book called The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. It's interesting, and just the kind of story I like - though I do feel there are bits that aren't "story" enough for me, and the author is really just using the book to speak about her thoughts on the world, quantum physics, and reality. Which is ok, I guess, except that I prefer fictional books to be stories. And a book that has 3 chapters devoted to "thoughts" which read more like essays and physics papers than like fictional plot developments does tend to annoy me. I've put that aside, though, because the story is interesting (when the author gets over herself and starts telling it).
I'll put up a proper review when I'm done reading it (end of the week, for sure).
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
But, the bottom line is - tonight, I'm writing crap. It's garbage compared to my other stuff (and even in comparison to this blog), and I hate writing it. I'm sitting here, writing up a ghost story, and in my head it's brilliant. I can see the pictures, and I'm uncovering the plot nicely as I go along. I'm even googling some scary photos as I write, chalking up the atmosphere. I'm alone, of course, and I'm starting to freak myself out. The character in my story is sitting in a room not unlike mine, the weather outside eerily similar, and some of the noises around my house can almost be interpreted in the way my character is interpreting them.
To be honest, I'm actually dreading getting up from this chair, because I'm too scared. I've completely freaked myself out, and that's the aim of the story - except it's not working. Writer's block is taking the story in my head and mashing it up before it comes out, turning the words on the screen into useless bundles of nothingness, completely devoid of excitement, tension, terror or grammar. My story is a bumbling mess, and the only way it would scare anyone is if I were to show it to an editor.
However, at some point, the block will fall away and I'll continue to write normally again. I'll probably even look back at what I've written tonight and rewrite it, thankful that at least some ideas came from it all. The only thing we can do when we hit the block, is to write. And, that's what I'm doing.
Obviously, it depends on how close the fire is - obviously if it's right there you'd hear it and there wouldn't be time for anything other than running outside and saving the lives of your family. If it's a bit further though, and you had, say, 15 minutes to get your most important possessions before the fire came, what would you take?
Xbox 360 springs to mind, books, clothes, soccer boots, laptop. Everyone has those useless trinkets lying around that mean so much to us - heirlooms and jewellery and various other what-nots. The thing is - there is just too much stuff that I like to be able to choose. Obviously, I can't carry all my books - too heavy and just too many. But, would I take a few books? Which ones? The favourite ones I've read, or the ones I haven't? Would I throw as much stuff into the car and try and drive off with as much as possible?
Clearly, the problem here is not that I have too much stuff - it's that I'm too attached to my stuff. I am materialistic - a material boy living in a material world - and it annoys me. I don't want to be materialistic - and yet, I like my stuff too much not to be. I like my books. I like my Xbox. I like my random bits of useless crap. Hell, I even like my old clothes too much to throw them out (though, I proudly state that I've given a whole bag full of old clothes to charity this week) - and I know that I'm not the only one. I'm probably not even one of the worst ones when it comes to materialism.
Is it a bad thing, though? These days, there is a serious lack of family values, and of the "tribe" mentality, or a sense of community. Everyone is an individual, trying to beat everyone to the top in a war of individual goal satisfaction. Although our stuff is a result of this war, it also gives us something to hold on to, to cherish, and to look after in event of fire. These days, nothing else provides those needs - as patriotism and sense of community is lost.
It seems like a bit of a catch 22 situation, I know, but if we didn't have our stuff to hold on to, what would we have? It's sad that when there is so much in this world that is ruined by materialism, materialism is one of the few things holding people together.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On a separate note: do you prefer summer or winter? Don't go all "I prefer spring" on me, you know what I mean - do you prefer hot or cold? I always reckon it's far easier to get warm than it is to get cool, and being cold is far more comfortable than being hot (and by extensions sweaty and sticky and ugh), and so I think I do prefer winter (or Autumn, whatever). As much as I love the beach, and hot girls in short skirts, and all those cool summer things, you can't really beat snuggling up in a blanket on the couch with a giant mug of hot stuff (coffee, milo, tea, whatever your poison) and watching some telly. Winter rocks!
It may also be due to my skewed outlook, and associating "black and white" with winter or coldness. For whatever strange reasons, I like the city when it's cold and rainy, because everything is grey and black and white and shiny and steam rises off the streets and its just awesome. And I get to wear a scarf. So there. Enjoy winter, people!
Monday, March 16, 2009
In his absence, I've noticed that the utter nonsense that some commentators spout still goes on - especially when it comes to Manchester United. I've heard a few gems in my time, but I will never forget this beautiful, beautiful comment:
"Edwin van der Sar is the best attacking talent in Holland."I'm not going to go into that too much, but most sane people will agree with me that the manc goal keeper is certainly not the best attacking Dutch talent at all. I don't even have to explain myself, and won't. However, a few other comments riled me - less so the "Michael Carrick is the best defensive midfielder in the world" comment, because that can, I suppose, be relative - I still firmly believe that he is far behind both Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in that position, not forgetting to mention Michael Essien. A few other names spring to mind, but I'll leave it at that.
The thing that annoys me the most, however, is their complete lack of sense. It's been said numerous times that Christiano Ronaldo doesn't feature in big matches, he can't handle the pressure and is unable to shine. Let me put it straight - the only thing Christiano Ronaldo did against Liverpool was score a penalty. That's it. When the commentator says something like "They say Ronaldo disappears in big games, but not this one" when mentioning the penalty, the commentator in question is an idiot.
Scoring a penalty is in no-way standing up to the big occasion and putting in a shining performance. Not even scoring a free kick is. The fact is, Ronaldo was unable to get past Aurelio, Carragher, and even Riera. He didn't shine at all, and he was bottled and useless for large parts of the game, leaving all the offensive work to the world's best defensive midfielder.
I often wonder if the commentator is watching the same game as I am - Saturday's one certainly wasn't. It's a shame - he missed a great game.
Friday, March 13, 2009
The other day, I came across a blog about astronomy (you can read it here) and it got me very excited about space again, and I started doing some reading up on moons and planets and what not else. I also downloaded a program that allows you to set your destination, and then shows a map of the sky and what each star / planet is. It is very cool, and can be found here: Stellarium.
Anyway, whilst reading, I found out some interesting things about Titan – the main ones that excited me were that there is a liquid water ocean underneath its crust, and that radiation within the core provides a source of energy for the planet. Much like the “black smokers” in our own oceans, no sunlight is required for life to exist here. I am sure many have seen or at least heard of the worms and crustaceans that live near these underwater vents. It is highly likely that in Titan’s subterranean ocean, there are vents exactly like these on earth, and thus highly likely that there is life of some kind underneath Titan’s icy crust (I say icy because the crust is just that – ice).
There are of course some limiting factors – we haven’t actually seen the ocean, so we don’t know 100% for sure that it’s there and is water (though radar and other techniques that baffle me have “proven” that it’s there), there is a whole lot of radiation from Saturn, and it’s incredibly cold there (like -220®C cold). However, the presence of hydrocarbons and other such life sustaining building blocks have been detected there, and so Titan is one of the best candidates for alien life in our solar system – so much so that the building of colonies there has been theorized.
Another interesting factor is that in approximately 6 billion years, our sun will be a red giant (humans would be long dead, I think) and the surface temperatures on Titan would be much higher – possibly, close to what the temperatures are on Earth today. Therefore, the ingredients for life are all there – the satellite is just at a very early stage.
What got me thinking, however, was the talk of colonization – at some point in the future; we might build some kind of base there – as a pit stop for further exploration or possibly as a centre for terraforming or research. As a research station, scientists would live on Titan in igloos, and drill into the crust, sending submarines into the ocean to study it. I shall give you a few seconds to think about that.
Did you have my reaction? It was something along the lines of “WOW!” and completely brought out the little kid in me. I was amazed and excited and the thoughts of adventure and leaving planet Earth for a new life near Saturn filled my head. It made me realize that while we are so far away, we are also so tantalizingly close to actually leaving our planet with the sole purpose of inhabiting others.
So, that got me wondering – given the choice to leave our planet and live on another, how many people would? Surely the numbers would be greater than the establishment could support? I certainly would put my name down – the adventure of being a Columbus for our planet is too inviting for me to turn down. Others wouldn’t though – I guess it’s personal choice. Would you?
Friday, March 6, 2009
I don't think I need to elaborate any further.
A few other things I've thought about - one being how people live and experience life. Perhaps I am strange (well, I know I am) but certain things hold value for me not in their value or meaning or enjoyment - but in their ritual. An example would be me going to Seattle on Kloof Street every Sunday for a Grande Slightly Wild Mocha Freeze. There are probably cheaper, better drinks out there, and if not there is certainly a Seattle at Cavendish - much closer than where I am. So why go there?
The same thing applies to Mexico (ok, the restaurant's actual name is Mexicano or something, but that's less cool) - the food is great. But for me, it's not just going there to eat great food. It's the ritual represented by the act - the experience of eating at Mexico, combined with friends and frozen margheritas and Mexican beer (even if it is twice the price) make it something I enjoy. If I was just going there for the food, I really wouldn't go at all - because I'd just get take away and eat it at home in front of my TV.
It annoys me then, when people I know fail to take the ritual and the enjoyment out of otherwise mundane acts - because if we don't find happiness and beauty in small things, then we will always be disappointed and never quite fulfilled. I take pride in the fact that I can have an absolutely awesome day by just sitting on a bench in the Company's Gardens for 5 minutes. Life isn't about the big things, and about everything being perfect and fitting the picture. It's about finding the beauty in the things that don't quite fit the picture. Otherwise nothing will ever make sense.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Done? Right – organized religion, and the strict following of beliefs and values that are based on scripture – is completely stupid, and an offense to God. That’s right. You, Christian fool, are offending God. That is my belief, and shortly I’ll explain how I came up with that idea. First, let me tell you where these thoughts originated (intelligent design, or evolution of ideas?).
A person asked me whether I was following the run-up to the elections in South Africa, and if I was going to vote, and for whom. I said yes, and that I was definitely going to vote, and that I was going to vote for the DA. I asked if said person was going to vote, and they said that no, it was against their religion. I took this to be a humorous stance on the subject, but not wanting to appear offensive asked why. Apparently, the only kingdom is God’s kingdom, and therefore voting for any ruling party is like voting “against God” because no-one can rule our kingdom except for God.
This angered me beyond reason – it’s my opinion that if you don’t vote, then you don’t have the right to complain about the problems in our country (and they’re numerous, if you take time to count them – corruption in parliament, the judiciary, public service and just about everywhere, crime, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, the list goes on) because you have not made any attempt whatsoever to take a stand.
And, don’t tell me that voting is not going to make a difference – because if enough people vote for the right (or wrong) people, then it will make a difference. There is corruption everywhere – but the ANC is a closed circle of power hungry fools who serve only themselves. The DA proposes an open government sans cadre deployment – so members would no longer be able to gather their friends around them to protect and enrichen. They would actually have to do their jobs, and perhaps a little more would get done.
What made me especially angry is that these people who won’t be voting – they are taking votes away from the opposition. Every vote counts, and every vote that the DA doesn’t have, is essentially a vote in the ANC's favour. I don’t want to live in a country ruled by a corrupt criminal who thinks he is the equivalent of Jesus Christ, and I don’t see how certain Christians can sit back and allow that to happen. By inaction, they are condemning the lives of millions to a rule of injustice, and surely this country will turn into another Zimbabwe.
It takes nothing to vote except time – and that tiny amount of effort can help good people with decent ambitions try and turn this country around before it’s too late. Why sit and watch a beautiful thing die because of your God? And this is what brings me to my first outrageous statement (and I apologize for the length of this post, but I do feel strongly).
I read a news24 article this morning which got me to thinking: Cardinal: Atheist theories absurd. Now, I’m of the opinion that science does in no way disprove God. Evolution, the big bang, all of these are not theories that disprove God – they simply explain the method that God used.
The bible is a book written by men. Its stories are old and outdated (perhaps not the lessons therein, but nobody sees it that way) and unless people are intelligent enough to see their meaning, then it is a useless tool of misinformation. God has created, through evolution or otherwise, a supreme race of intelligent beings. We are able to do whatever we want and can possibly dream of, because we have intelligence, courage, desire and ambition.
Not voting because of scripture is an extreme example, but it is a stupid, stupid interpretation of something that applies to idol worship – not voting for a party that will provide a better life for all. To believe that God does not want you to vote is an insult to him, and to the gift of intelligence that he has (or maybe hasn’t) given you. So. Stop offending God. Get up off your arse and live your life, because He has given it to you, and you are wasting it by reading that Book as if it were a text book full of answers.
Monday, March 2, 2009
In any case, I still think it's a pretty cool idea - it will make some cool photo's from space. Maybe, for that one hour, enough people do it to make a noticeable reduction in emissions for one hour, that it gets extended to "Earth Day", and then "Earth Week", and then "Earth Month". That would be pretty cool.
Here's the link: Earth Hour 2009.