All entries for Sunday 08 May 2005

May 08, 2005

Graphic politics

I realise this is lamely timed since we've just had a General Election but if you haven't already visit www.politicalcompass.com, read the explanation and take the test! My recommendation rockets out beyond our stratosphere. With dazzling clarity my earlier fragmented reasoning of politics has been wiped away by a brilliant, coherent and hollistic explanation, in short, simply because the political compass adds a new axis and thereby a new dimension to the problematic and unsatisfactory right-left analysis a relic of pre Revolutionary France. The extremes of the new axis are fascism or authoritarianism and libertarianism – or, if one travels far enough, anarchy. Contrary to popular opinion, communism is not the polar opposite of fascism – indeed these two maybe merely at acute angles to each other, though their differences have fuelled and continue to have the potential to fuel more bloodshed then any other. Communism is in fact not authoritarian per se but because it is polar opposite of neo-liberalist, laissez faire free market economy, it necessarily entails regulation and control and will therefore tend towards authoritarianism. Conversely unbridled corporate freedom can prove to be equally as comandeering though exploitative of greed rather than of fear.

This 2D graphical representation of politics, festooned with dots representing the relative positions of well-known politicians, has explained, inter alia, current affairs in a way that has hitherto escaped my understanding. Speaking topically, this includes the war in Iraq; the hypocrisy of Tony Blair in vectoring the political field of the UK towars the NE and why he must now stand down from his presidential – sorry, I meant prime ministerial – perch; why the leaders of Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and, I daresay, China manage to co-operate so effectively, despite purported ideological schisms; why Robert Mugabe is regarded as scum while Ariel Sharon is appeased and why right wing politicians, such as Edwina Currie and Michael Portillo may be simultaneously liberal and liberal politicians, such as the liberal democrats may be simultaneously right of centre. It furthermore illustrates which ideological quadrant one should occupy (SW) in order to obtain political sainthood of persons such as Nelson Mandela, Ghandi or the Damai Lama.


Eats(,) shoots and leaves

A Giant panda or an impolite cowboy in a saloon?

Like her editor I also romanticise the prospect of dining with Lynne Truss, the author of this esteemed insight into our punctuational crisis, at l'Apostrophe (a Parisian restaurant)

Language and the rules that bind it together emblazon an incredible palate of colourful possiblities from which the most expressive artistic creations may sporn their genesis (or is that a double tautology?) Puns are an endless source of amusement. Exemplis gratis:

ounce – the snow leopard or 1/16th of a pound
pound – 1/14th of a stone or a lock-up for stray animals
stone – an instrument for killing adulteresses in certain countries or 1/2240th ton

Did you know?
'Victoria, England's Queen' is an anagram of 'rules a nice and quiet land'
'Schoolmaster' is an anagram of 'the classroom'
'A man – a plan – a canal – Panama' is a palindrome (the same statement may be read from right to left)

26 little-known lexicographical gems for the day:

Aboulia – loss of willpower or the ability to make decisions
Bushido – Japanese code of chivalry
Cerumen – ear wax
Demijohn – a broad glass bottle for holding wine with handles and a narrow neck
Endomorph – a person with a typically stout corporal dimensions
Friable – having the property of being easily reduced to crumbs/ powder
Germicide – killing germs
Heuristic – encouraging desire to learn discover
Indaba – an international Scout conference
Jemmy – a burglar's short crow-bar
Kermesse – a cycle race in an urban area
Lucipotomy – the art of creating white horses, as may be seen on the chalky hillsides of Wiltshire
Marmelise – to thrash, defeat heavily, destroy etc.
Nudibranch – a shell-less marine gastropod with gills exposed on the back and sides of the body
Oubliette – a dungeon with no opening except at the top, into which a prisoner could be precipitated and then forgotten about
Pantophobia – a morbid fear of everything
Quinquagesima – the Sunday preceding Lent or fifty days before Easter
Remuage – the process of turning or shaking wine bottles so that the sediment collects at the cork end for removal
Spry – nimble or agile
Teapoy – a small tri or quadripedal table
Uranous – uranium in lower valency
Velleity – volition in its lowest form – i.e. wanting to do something not quite badly enough to warrant elevating oneself from one's fundamental support
Wobblegong – a carpet shark (I still don't know what this means, but it does fire the imagination, doesn't it)
Xenonium – a present given to a stranger
Yammer – to lament or wail
Zugzwang – a blockade position in chess where any move is disadvantageous to the the blockaded player


Life is but a terminal disease

So a pessimistic acquaintance of mine once proclaimed. I don't think we should contemplate our five senses nor our Freudian egos or ids (mistranslation of 'it') in this way. After all, everyone living in the developed world, bar, I grant you, those suffering from unbearably painful illnesses has something to live for, whether a can of Heineken, another measly cash handout from the welfare state, the light of day (literally: a serotonin booster) or the likelihood of happiness in the future. As little red haired Annie sings, Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're only a day away…'
I believe in liberated capitalist markets but only insofar as they generate social well-being – ie. local employment; quality products and services that will improve the calibre of life for everyone. Supporting competition (anti-trust) laws and reasonably restrictive regulations proportional to the size and capability of their target enterprises, imposed with the objective of ensuring environmental sustainability, is indispensable for meeting our obligation towards future generations (inter-generational responsibility) especially when we are childless ourselves. I am furthermore skeptical of the notion of choice: simply increasing the availability of potential materialistic options does not translate as a broadening of choices since choice is necessarily a mental process. If choices are too numerous for the average human being to know their number and make comparisons logically the word then becomes a misnomer. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if cultural and social expectations cloud and narrow our paths too restrictively we become disillusioned by the illusion of incarceration. Education, or perhaps more specifically a heuristic society/ culture that promotes useful education, is also a quintessential instrument in the alleviation of poverty.
It would be shortsighted to focus on objective causes of unhappiness such as financial insolvency when so much depression is the nefarious prodigy of emtional/ hormonal activity, amorous departures and neurological disorders. Yet even if we remain ignorant of the available remedies and despair over the very fact that as intelligent beings our despondency is reasoned are therefore incontrovertible, in infinitely greater measure we are likely to remember that there is hope. If all else fails our self-preserving antediluvian instinct for survival, in whatever horrifically mutated form it currently resides (I'll continue smiling fallaciously at my loathsome boss because someone else is, betimes, likely to accept my offer of employment) shall, mercifully, save us.
Here's a war song to raise the spirits (before we drink them):
_Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.
While there's a lucifer to light your fag, smile boys that the style.
What's the use of worrying, it never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile :-) _

Why, as a gay man, I abhor the gay scene

From my experience gay urban culture is characterised by a lack of respect, intolerance, selfishness and egotism. The gay nightclub, bar scenes and saunas are little more than glorified cattle markets observing a Darwinist pecking order according to superficial physical appearances, where souls are destroyed through unrestrained liberal hedonism. Lustful greed, promiscuity and schadenfreude for the losers are rife. The haunts, are therefore cruel breeding grounds for misery, cynicism and bitterness. Machiavels exploit the physically saleable and while both may 'have fun,' giving vent to their adolescant single-orientated mindsets they will suffer in the long term as they gradually realise the unsustainability and increasingly unrewarding nature of their addicted lifestyles. Meanwhile the timid, self concious and undesirable for aesthetically defective, will suffer painfully in the shadows, tortured, in cruel irony to the social equality that we preach so vociferously as we parade our banners and our bodies during Pride Marches. We must remember that not everyone is, nor has the capacity to be a mental Hercules, not to speak of a physical Adonis.
Homosexuality between consenting adult men or women (where it may be reasonably presumed that each is mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions) is not wrong per se; certainly not because unsubstantiated biblical passages from Leviticus and Romans dogmatically so state. It is, in any case, unrealistic for the literate and informed modern population to unquestioningly accept religious scripture verbatim. However, though idealism may incite me to state otherwise, the nocturnal scene lifestyle followed by many gay people, a lifestyle that is actively promoted at our peril, is fundamentally flawed. I believe that this largely attributable to the perception among gay people that there are no alternative fora for finding matches – whereas the opposite is often true. GLBT social groups and hobby groups exist, but sadly do not receive the same publicity as the commercially run exploitative haunts.
Until gay relationships are unremittedly accepted and normalised by society through institutionalisation (e.g. single sex marriage) and and can flourish respecting moral norms outside hermetic gay venues; until civilised debates motion constructive criticism on well argued grounds and until we have the courage to detract ourselves from a ruinous lifestyle centred around nightclubs, where drinking and substance abuse foster we can expect mental instability, depression and suicide within the gay population to continue.

May 2005

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