The Dark Ages – a poem

The Dark Ages

 

‘What were the Dark Ages, Dad?’

Dad looked thoughtful and sad.

‘A time of ignorance when things were bad.’

 

‘When did the Dark Ages end?’ she asked.

Dad looked at her with face aghast.

‘We don’t know how long they’ll last.’

 

Opher – 20.7.2019

 

 

We tend to look back at history and wonder how people could do such things, believe such things and behave so cruelly. We see them as primitive, foolish and brutal.

They are no different to us.

We live in the same ignorance and the same level of vicious depravity. We never learn.

I was looking at the butchery of the timid dolphins and porpoises in the Faroes and seeing the same vicious bloodlust and inhumanity. It’s still there unchanged. I look at ISIS, the Baptists from the Southern States, The Creationists, Boko Haram and all the others and see the same blind ignorance and belief in scriptures from barbaric times.

The Dark Ages – we’re still living them. Oh for a bit of light!

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Saudi Arabia – a medieval kingdom with no human rights, blatant misogyny and barbaric laws and customs.

Saudi Arabia – a medieval kingdom with no human rights, blatant misogyny and barbaric laws and customs.

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Saudi Arabia is supposedly our ally in the Middle East yet it is the sponsorship of much of the terrorism and sectarian violence in the region. It massive oil revenue is being used to promote instability.

The extreme religious views held by the ruling class are responsible for intolerance and the imposition of barbaric laws of immense cruelty.

First we have Raif Badawi imprisoned and subjected to 1000 lashes for having a blog that was considered to critical of the regime.

 

Now we have Raja Kouja. She was openly critical of the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia and has been accused of Apostasy and threatened with death or having her hands and feet hacked off. At present she is in Britain awaiting deportation to this brutal country. Hopefully Britain will not send her back for such a fate.

To speak out against the Saudi regime is equated as going against the religion. To do that is death.

 

Misogyny is taken to the extreme. Women are second-class citizens. They are not allowed to drive, they have to have a male guardian sign documents for them, they are forced to wear the full body and face covering Abayah and subject to different laws. Not only are they segregated but can be accused of sexual misdemeanours carrying heavy sentences if they are molested.

 

It is time the West brought real pressure to bear on these violations of human rights. This barbaric behaviour is inhuman.

It makes me glad I’m an antitheist. I believe all religion does more harm than good. We’d be better off without the medieval superstition.

Starting from scratch – how much are we all worth?

Starting from scratch – how much are we all worth?

 

Just imagine if we could start society from scratch and decide on what value different jobs really had?

 

Just imagine if we could rationally produce an evaluation of the worth of each role?

 

Just imagine if we could reward people in line with their abilities, effort and true worth?

 

What salaries would we allocate to:

 

Teachers?

 

Bankers?

 

Entertainers?

 

Nurses?

 

Doctors?

 

Chief executives?

 

Religious leaders?

 

Inventors?

 

Sewage workers?

 

Drivers?

 

Biologists?

 

Artists?

 

Property speculators?

 

Fishermen?

 

Investors?

Police?

 

Soldiers?

 

City traders?

 

Social workers?

 

Physicists?

 

Carers?

 

Entrepreneurs?

 

Shelf stackers?

 

Till operators?

 

Chemists?

 

Politicians?

 

Writers and poets?

 

 

I wonder if we did it fairly if we would end up with the structure we now have?

 

How much is any person worth?

50 Years since the Moon Landing – Gil Scott Heron – Whitey’s On The Moon

Gil makes some valid points here. There’s always enough money for political projects – like the space race, war or creating billionaires, but there’s never enough to deal with poverty, healthcare, education, or to clean up the ghettos.

We still have racial inequality, soup kitchens, people sleeping under flyovers and innocents being bombed.

Perhaps they should find some money to deal with these things too!

“Whitey On The Moon”

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moonI can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While Whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause Whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But Whitey’s on the moon

I wonder why he’s uppin’ me?
Cause Whitey’s on the moon?
Well i was already given him fifty a week
And now Whitey’s on the moon

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon

Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moon

With all that money i made last year
For Whitey on the moon
How come I ain’t got no money here?
Hmm, Whitey’s on the moon

You know I just about had my fill
Of Whitey on the moon
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
airmail special
(To Whitey on the moon)

Martin Luther King – ‘I Have a Dream’ – the greatest oratory of all time. Equality and freedom – a vision for the future

Martin Luther King – ‘I Have a Dream’ – the greatest oratory of all time. Equality and freedom – a vision for the future.

This was the March on Washington when a million white and black people joined hands and demanded equality.

The establishment was racist; the people were united against it. They demanded action. White and black stood together as equals. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang. Martin Luther King delivered the most important speech of modern times.

It was a speech that centred on the injustices but did not invoke hatred. Instead it focussed on a vision for a future in which both black and white would prosper together as equals and be mutually benefitted. It was a world in which racism was seen as the evil it was.

That is the future I want and fight for.

Martin Luther King knew exactly what he was doing; he was putting his life on the line. He knew he would be killed for his eloquent words, passion and hope for the future. It did not deter him. He spoke his mind and the content of his heart.

Without him we would not have the world we have today. There is still racism, poverty and war but there is also a huge improvement, a voice and a hope. It shines. Racism, ignorance, poverty and war will be conquered by non-violent protest.

The creationists, fundamentalists, ISIS, racists, elitists and those who create war, injustice and poverty will be defeated by intelligence, wisdom and love.

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Poetry – If I want – a poem for independence and purpose.

Poetry – If I want – a poem for independence.

If I want

 

If I want to do what I want to do,

That’s up to me not up to you.

If you don’t like what I want to do,

You can go screw

 

If I’m not hurting,

When I do my thing,

Then you shouldn’t squeal

And you shouldn’t sing.

I’ve got a hook that you can sling,

Go swing.

 

You give me the rules to living a life,

A house and a mortgage,

Kids and a wife.

So where’s the strange?

The love and the awe?

The stars in the sky?

The peace from the war?

 

Where’s all the visions?

The how and the why?

The things we create?

The thrust and the sigh?

Where’s the unknown?

And where’s the next who?

And the why should we do all the things that we do?

 

Opher 16.11.98

There has to be more to life than going through the motions. We have to have more. We cannot allow ourselves to be constrained within the strictures of the norm. Sometimes you have to escape into the real world and experience life.

You cannot have people dictating what is proper. You have to live your own life, discover your own mysteries, limits and make your own boundaries.

You have one life. It is for living. You are the arbiter of what you do. If it is not violent and will not hurt anyone else then you should decide. It is nobody else’s business. Most of the social mores are open to question.

Wear what you want, make your own rules for the way you live your life. fill it with love, awe and wonder, passion, thoughtfulness and fire – live as if it is your last day on earth.

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Wonder and Awe – Man and Intelligence.

Wonder and Awe – Man and Intelligence.

 

The saddest aspect of being a human being is that there is only one species of us. It has led us to believe we are something special, something that is above all other life. Many people struggle to think of us as animals.

We are animals. We are intelligent animals. We have fabulous brains that give us consciousness. We think that sets us apart. It doesn’t.

We are not the most intelligent animal that has ever lived on this planet, let alone what intelligences may exist on other worlds. We are not even the most intelligent organism on this planet now. We are not even the most intelligent species of human who has ever lived on this planet.

Brains operate like super-computers. It is the size that is important. Our brains contain 85 billion brain cells – neurons – which is about the same number of stars as in a small galaxy. However each of those cells is connected via dendrites to between 10,000 and a 100,000 other brain cells. That is a staggering number of connections.

The human brain is between 1300 grams (the racists) and 1400 grams (the rest of us).

By comparison the brain of a chimpanzee (our closest relative with whom we share 99% of our genes) is only 400 grams.

There was a rapid evolutionary change occurred around 1.8 million years ago (very recent in evolutionary terms). Our brains grew from 400 grams to 1400 grams.

I said earlier that we are not the most intelligent animal on the planet. That distinction falls to the cetaceans. Not all of us consider them super-intelligent because they do not build cities and weapons. That is how we judge intelligence.

Whales and dolphins do not have limbs to create tools. They live in the sea and do not need shelter. They have plentiful food and do not need to work.

They play, sing, spend time together and enjoy themselves. They do not pollute, overpopulate or destroy one another. They are not cruel, barbaric and vicious. They do not create religions.

That sounds like intelligence to me.

The size of a sperm whales brain  is a staggering 7800 grams. That is over five times that of a human.

The brain of a bottle-nose dolphin is between 1500-1700 grams – bigger than a human.

Of course you may like to suggest that intelligence is not all about brain size. The evidence from bird intelligence (with small brains) is that there are other factors though size is crucially important.

If you take into account body mass to brain ratio then we still do not come out too good. Even the tree shrew outdoes us.

The obvious intelligence of the cetaceans is extant in numerous ways and makes it even more disgusting when you consider the incredibly callous way we have treated them. We have deployed our technology to kill races of gentle, intelligent creatures. We have blown them up with explosive harpoons, stabbed and hacked them to death. In the Faroes they are still gaffing and sawing through their necks. The barbarity is appalling.

These creatures are probably more intelligent and sensitive than humans. Stop the slaughter!

It seems incredible to me that we spent billions trying to find even the most crudest form of life elsewhere in the galaxy while ignoring the obvious intelligent life under our own noses. Perhaps we should be trying harder to communicate?

Back to the subject.

I said earlier that we are not the most intelligent human that has lived on this planet. That accolade goes to the Neanderthals. We share a common ancestor and we even have some of their genes. There was some successful interbreeding. The Neanderthals, far from being the shambling cavemen of our cartoons, were more intelligent than us. Their brain size was 1500 grams to 1800 grams.

As more intelligent humans they were probably gentler. We – the moronic cousins – were more cynical and vicious. We lived side by side up until as recently as a mere 150,000 years ago. Then we destroyed them.

How I wish we hadn’t. Wouldn’t it be great if there were two intelligent species of human beings living on this planet now? It would blow all that religious superiority out of the water – particularly when we were clearly the lesser of the two in intelligence. The biblical stories would simply not hold water.

But that was not to be. We, the inferior intelligence, prevailed.

It goes to show that there is more to being human than intelligence.

Looters – Leon Rosselson

Leon is the Ken Loach of music. Nobody else puts their finger on the political pulse of how the actions of politicians and the wealthy impact on the poor in anywhere near a degree of effectiveness as Leon. With a rare mixture of humour, pathos and social comment he is constant in his championing of the needy.

Leon is now in his 80s, still gigging every now and again, and is an inspiration to anyone who wants social justice! Nobody comes close!

Why aren’t there others? In this time of desperate need why are there not young people protesting about the gross inequality?? Why aren’t people up in arms at the enforced austerity? Why aren’t they screaming about the greedy bankers and executives who are creaming off the top while the poor suffer!! Why???

As for the looters – well – what’s revered for the rich is damned for the poor!!

According to Leon it’s because they’ve got their football and Strictly Come Dancing and can’t be bothered!!

This album has some brilliant thought-provoking stuff.

Everyone should buy it and start putting up barricades.

Pol Pot – Cambodia’s mass murderer – Security Prison 21 – Tuol Sleng – Site of torture and genocide. The Killing Fields.

Pol Pot – Cambodia’s mass murderer – Security Prison 21 – Tuol Sleng – Site of torture and genocide. The Killing Fields.

There is a madness and hysteria that grips people sometimes. It turns normally pleasant ordinary people into crazed torturers capable of doing the most terrible things.

The Cambodian people were some of the most friendly I have met.

The people carrying out these tortures and killings were brutal, callous devils.

Pol Pot did not start out as a crazed evil psychopath. He was an idealistic freedom fighter.

It all has shades of ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the rest.

What happened in this camp was beyond words. Pol Pot was responsible for the torture and death of one and a half million people in the Killing Fields. There were 150 killing  camps like Prison 21.

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Pol Pot – a callous man, paranoid and ruthless. A psychotic despot and mass murderer.

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A few of the victims

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I met Chum Mey – survivor of the camp and he signed his book for me.

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What goes on in the mind of a torturer? how can they live with what they do? How can they justify it?

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Photography – South Africa – The other side – crowding, squalor, townships, poverty.

Photography – South Africa – The other side – crowding, squalor, townships, poverty.

When you cross the road from the beauty and lavish housing of Stellenbosch you find the Townships where the poor blacks live – shanty towns of corrugated iron. There is huge overcrowding, poverty, violence and deprivation.

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These are the toilets for the whole Township. They empty via a pipe straight out into the ocean. Millions of gallons of raw untreated sewage forms a huge brown slick along the coast.

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These are some of the friendly denizens of the township.

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This is the white area of Stellenbosch.

The inequality and racism needs addressing!!