Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Mighty Magpie: 2012: The Year of Predicting Dangerously

The Mighty Magpie: 2012: The Year of Predicting Dangerously: 2012 either will be the most momentous event in human history or it will be remembered as history’s biggest dud. In 2012, according to some ...

2012: The Year of Predicting Dangerously

2012 either will be the most momentous event in human history or it will be remembered as history’s biggest dud. In 2012, according to some Rosicrucians, California will fall into the sea. Well, if California falls into the sea, Steely Dan will surely have to return to their old school. See?  There is always an upside to doom.

According to the Mayans, 2012 marks the end of the Mayan Calendar and if the Mayans don’t have any more calendar that lack of such a timepiece surely means the end of the world is at hand.  Don’t panic. It’s just the end of the world. Of course, the end of the Mayan calendar could mean that it’s just time to rewind and go back to the first calendar and start all over again

The end of the world comes every year and in every century. Country fried preachers have been baying like old bloodhounds for an eternity at the “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. 

Orson Welles even had his own brand of the apocalypse:  HG Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. One radio show sends an entire nation into panic over the Martian invasion at Grover’s Mills.  It was only entertainment, of course, but this Mercury Radio theatrical presentation was truly a moment when one realizes just how powerful the media could be.

Truth be told, if for a week in December of the coming year, all the television sets and radios and newspapers and Internet were just shut down for one week, the world would probably skip the demise of the human race.  Life would go on and human beings would discover that being human is not about what they are told but about what they tell themselves. 

Its easy, in a warped sort of way, to amble along on the words of others be it religious leaders, government and even celebrities.  Listening and obeying is easy because the listener does not have to be responsible for how the world will turn out.  It’s hard to take the lead.  The monsters are coming because the little kid with the comic book read about it once.  Let’s all follow him!

Let’s lock the monsters back in the comic books. Let’s tell the preachers that praying silently is golden.  Let’s all just relax, have a piece of cornbread and some lemonade. Come the year 2012, just sit back, kick your shoes off and when 2013 lazily rolls around, y’all come back now. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Newt and the Fae

Ok, picture this scene.  One of our senior statesmen, Newt Gingrich, is speaking at the capital. That’s fair.  Beautiful female bodyguards dressed in snappy skirts and jackets surround him.  There is a cat in a nice suit sitting in the front row.  When Newt is ready to speak, he flies, yes literally flies, and lands like a graceful gray haired bird next to the podium.  In the back there is a Fairy flitting anxiously back and forth. Newt himself looks like an old guy who escaped from “King of the Hill”.  

As the talk progresses, the fairy suddenly calls Newt a ‘Facist” and vanishes.

Newt is undaunted as he speaks with the clarity and confidence that is befitting of a man who wants to be the next president of the United States.  His speech is awe-inspiring. He is speaking to the audience about the future of technology and how he thinks that congress should be held in such a venue as Second Life.

That’s right.  Second Life. Seems that Newt has an avatar in a virtual world. Back in 2007, Newt Gingrich was invited to spend the evening with Second Life residents talking about politics and the future of virtual technology. You can see the speech in its entirety at You Tube. It is an intelligent and well presented talk.

Newt’s a gamer?  Nope.  He took the time to come into Second Life and present to its citizens his ideas.  Now, I have to say that as much as I don’t buy the GOP platform, Newt has suddenly become very cool to me. Maybe there is an idea waiting to happen that he embraces. It’s very exciting when you think about it.

In 2011, like the real world, Second Life is struggling as well.  It, like many other virtual grids, is a micro economy and directly reflects the goings on in the real world. Second Life, Inworldz and Avination, just to name a few have their own currencies and these currencies can be converted into US Dollars on an open market. Look at the virtual land baron Anse Chung, whose studio is based in China; she parlayed her virtual real estate operation into a million dollar venture. That’s millions of dollars in USD.

Real life people buy, sell and trade in these virtual worlds with an intensity that you would see in Wall Street and because real people as avatars shop and do business in these worlds, when their real life economy is down so goes down the virtual economy. It's a fact.

Economists have followed virtual worlds for years and they do present an uncanny parallel to what goes on in real life.  Most people who don’t understand the nature of this technology and call it a game or dismiss it as a waste of time.  Newt took the time to study the technology and I think that the fact that he did speaks volumes for his character.  If he was able to spend his precious time speaking to people in a role playing venue, then maybe it is a signal to the American people that he might care to spend time talking to the more common among us.

This particular entry in my blog will definitely qualify as a peculiar trip into the Twilight Zone but I thought that this little moment in 2007 should serve as a reminder to us that our politicians are human beings and that, every once in a blue moon, we should stop and enjoy the lighter side of these national leaders and just sit back and have a feel good smile.

I’m just sayin…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Lion, the Ostrich & the 2012 Election

Get out your Googler and look up the town of Tomahawk, KY, which by all standards is a normal and friendly Christian Community. Now, zoom in on the name of a peculiar little Baptist Church, the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church; membership about 40.  I will name this little dark smudge on the face of humanity, the most racist Church in America.

You see, dear reader, they have banned interracial couples in their church. A portion of the congregation slunk out the back door and to the hidden valleys of southern fried chicken, black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes.  The “make me feel good” southern Sunday food that allows church members to forget that one was too cowardly to stand up to an issue that should have been thrown out in the trash decades ago. To get an idea of just how many members opted to be silent and not voice their opinion on this sensitive issue; the policy was pass by a vote of 9 to 6 with 25 members abstaining.

Those members who left without voting could have and should have stayed and made their voices known.  This is truly one of those you either are or you aren’t for these issue moments and let me go one step further and say that Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church is the entire argument for atheism.  If banning the very people to whom you are charged with caring is going to be a “policy”, then why have Christianity as a religion in the first place? What is the point—to get that free pass into heaven?  Let me know how that plan works out for you.

But now the back-story:  Stella Harville, a Masters student in optical engineering, sang a song “I Will Surrender All” with her fiancĂ©, Ticha Chikuni at the church. Stella is white and Ticha hails from Zimbabwe.  Now please note that Stella’s father is a church official who was NOT opposed to the presence of interracial couples. To his innocent credit, he assumed that it was not an issue until former Pastor Melvin Thompson made it clear that the couple would not be welcome back and that they would not be singing at the church again.  Honestly, God needs to do performance reviews of his staff.

Thompson’s most ironic comment was made on a local radio show "I do not believe in interracial marriages, and I do not believe this (ban) will give our church a black eye at all." (Source: Reuters)

Here’s the rub:  I am not angry at the blatant racism that took place at this church. The refreshing thing about racism, whether you agree with it or not, is that at the very least one knows exactly where one stands. Racism does not take sides. It’s an idea stamped plainly in black and white or should I say black versus white. It’s clear, crisp and to the point; no hidden meanings here.

I am angry with the rest of the members of the church, the slinkers, who could have, should have but did not. They chose to hide and lead the decision to crucify Stella and Ticha at the hands of these nine members with 25 abstaining.

Christianity is certainly an interesting religion because it’s built on the idea of universal acceptance. Early Christians were a Jewish sect and were content to remain a part of Judaism but there was one lingering problem and that was the charge that was spelled out for Christians. Their mission: to go and spread the good news (Gospel) of Jesus Christ and that meant talking to everyone man, woman and child be they Jewish or Gentile.  Universal Acceptance. What a radical concept for their time.

The other issue was food.  In order for new members to be culled from the Gentile community, there has to a allowance for the dietary practices of that group and this means the eating of the misaligned pork and other unacceptable by Jewish law foods.  It was a dream by Paul that spells out that it was now ok to eat such foods.  Again, the concept of Universal Acceptance rings loud and Christian clear for all to hear.  It’s a great concept and it is what sets Christianity apart from other religions.

Let me put this out to you in the most topical manner: the members who passed this policy are bullies and the rest of the church are a group of cowards who should have, could have, but didn’t.  Even if the entire congregation had stood firm and voted for the anti interracial couple policy, it would have been better then just running away and letting the someone else do the dirty work.

Obviously someone has to kill the pork for the rest to eat the pig.

It’s not the voting for which I, as a Christian, am embarrassed. It’s the unwillingness of members to stand up and be heard at the casting of a single vote with a collective and considerably larger and fairer voice. If this issue was not important enough for members to stay and cast a vote why have the vote at all? 

This incident is just a small splinter in the skin of the American people. It’s one of those flare ups that will eventually go away. But this incident, this occurrence, this minor irritation is a major illustration of what is wrong with America today.  You see, the core issue here is not Christianity nor is it bigotry: 

It’s Apathy.

It’s the admission to one’s self that its safer to be an ostrich then a lion.  We are coming upon an election year. I think this one is going to be a bitter and aggressive tussle between party lines because a lot of things too many to mention here are at risk.  What will certainly tip the scale are not the independents but the “undependents” those people who bury their head in the sand and do nothing except to allow others think for them.

So, dear readers, I am asking you:  Is the 2012 election going to be a 9 to 6 vote?

I’m just sayin….