A Post 9/11 World:

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I ran across a part in George Orwell’s seminal dystopian novel “1984″ that struck me as so true. Not just true, however, but eerily accurate of our post 9/11 world; as if George Orwell looked into a crystal ball. I’m gonna let the extract do the talking here, so enjoy:

In one combination or another, these three super-states are permanently at war, and have been so for the past twenty-five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. . . .

This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude towards it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous. On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries, and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners which extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when they are committed by one’s own side and not by the enemy, meritorious.

But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes. . . .

To understand the nature of the present war — for in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war — one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive. . . . The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.

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Things I Believed When I was Young.

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- People in the olden days lived in black and white. This one is going way back though, I’m talking age 3-4 and it made so much sense at the time. I mean, the movies were black and white so why not real life? This was enough to convince my 3 year old self that this is a stone cold scientific hypothesis. Maybe, I thought my daddy’s generation invented the spectrum of colors; God knows really.

- “Power Rangers: the Movie” was an absolute tour de force. Yessir, I sure did; I loved that movie oh so very much. I just thought it was the greatest. The action! The villians! The Rangers! The wise Zordon! To my 5 year old brain it had it all. Truly, a shoe in for best picture at the Oscars. I still remember the time I went to the cinema to view this masterpiece and through adult eyes I feel a deep sense of empathy for my dad who had to sit through the whole thing with me AND pretend to like it.

- Oral sex involved talking. A more recent one from the pantheon of early teenage sexual misconceptions. It also shows how far my advanced powers of deduction had developed from age 3. An oral at school is talking, right? So like, that means oral sex is just talking…but dirty. This all just serves as another reminder that I shouldn’t much care to be 13 again.

- The daddy long-legs is the most poisonous spider in the world but it can’t use its venom because of its tiny mouth. A classic urban legend. I think everybody’s heard this one by now and I’m of the opinion that believing this story at some stage of your childhood is like a rite of passage; a test you gotta pass to call yourself a man.

- Santa isn’t real. I never, at any stage, believed in Santa. I called bullshit from the minute I could talk. My parents were also pretty half-ass in the effort they applied to make Santa real to me and my sisters. I can’t say I minded much, however; Santa’s always been kinda lame to me. I guess I don’t really get the appeal of telling kids that their homes are gonna be invaded by a strange fat man who arbitrarily decided whether they’re good or not.

- That sex scenes in film were for real. Another sexual one but this one is from about age 7. I was convinced that actors knocked boots fo’ realz during sex scenes. I didn’t believe anything else in films were real; just the sex. Turns out this one turn out to be true in a certain measure: pornography. Way to go 7 year old me!

- That South Africa is super cold in the winter. Before I lived in Ireland for 10 years, I thought the South African winter was freezing. 14 degrees out? Brrrrrrrrrrrr its cold yo! Turns out 10 years straight of freezing your nuts off in Europe will change that misconception. At the moment of writing this, I’m sitting in the Cape Town winter in shorts and a t-shirt. Winter? What winter?

When Two Tribes Go To War.

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Just look at this picture! It’s marvelous! It gets me every time. The passion, the gusto, the fact that everyone in this photo is lovin’ it. That’s not all that makes this photo so wonderful; it’s a great photo because it made me reflect and think.

I know it sounds ridiculous that such a seemingly whimsical photo could inspire any form of introspection but, alas, it did. It got me thinking about our relationship with our sports teams; the fact that we make such a massive emotional investment in what is basically a group of strangers playing a silly little game.

And that’s what sport is – a silly little game. But for some reason or other it is just so much more. Why is that? It’s strange that, in an increasingly globalised world, sport is the one thing where boundaries are not becoming blurred. When it’s time to compete, the borders between nations (or any other entity for that matter), which have become so fluid in this digital age of ours, become for that moment as staunch and real as a brick wall.

I think it’s because we’ll never get rid of our tribalistic inclinations. We want to be a part of a tribe; of a collective identity. The feeling we get from watching a group of people, or a person, representing us and our tribe is one that is such a natural and primal thrill that we simply can’t let it go. We live through these sportspeople vicariously; their success is our success.

And this is a good thing. Whilst we shouldn’t reinforce differences between our human family any more than we have, we should acknowledge that they exist and that maybe, every now and then, it isn’t really that bad to indulge our primal selves. So go nuts! Tattoo your teams emblem on your ass! Be proud of your community and the team that represents it. It’s yours to have and it’s yours to belong too.

Off Topic.

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Just gonna put it out there: I love the Springboks (the South African rugby team for those of you not in the know JEEZ) more than life itself. Here is an oath; if they win the world cup next month I will embark on the biggest bender in the history of human existence. I’m talking maxed out credit card, falling asleep in the fetal position drunk.

That’s a fucking guarantee. Enjoy your day and more posts are, as always, coming.

People for Unrealistic, Silly, Shortsighted and Irrational Explorations of what is Seemly (P.U.S.S.I.E.S)

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I’ve had an epiphany! All of those annoying organisations whom I despise, here’s looking at you PETA, should club together and form a giant umbrella organisation. In the title I have suggested a snappy little nom de charity for this proposed super group and it is People for Unrealistic, Silly, Shortsighted and Irrational Explorations of what is Seemly, or P.U.S.S.I.E.S if you are the acronym type.

Think about it, groups like Project RED and Live Aid can run around and shout at people; their ability to hinder and annoy would multiply exponentially. They can make light work of thrusting all of their different new age, western, pseudo scientific philosophies down peoples throats. In particular, they can go to all kinds of foreign places, in fact any place with brown or tan people will do, and tell those silly locals whats normal and right. Democracy! Capitalism! Vegetarianism! Liberalism! And all of the other “-ism’s” and “-cie’s” that they deem acceptable.

I’m not against non profit organisations or altruistic principles. I’m not, no sir. What I am against is Bono trying to determine the economic policy of the African continent or Westerners trying to solve non western problems. Besides, a lot of the aid is what former World Bank employee Dr. Dambisa Doyo so aptly called “dead aid”. It does nothing, and I can’t emphasise the word nothing enough, to alleviate third world poverty in the long term.

In fact, the benevolence that celebrities shower upon Africa, for example, is completely self defeating. An article by the Root (http://www.theroot.com/) on Dr. Doyo says it best:

When Western governments, aid organizations or rock stars flood African economies with donations of mosquito nets or food, she argues, local entrepreneurs are choked off from competition. The global focus on the poorest Africans does not help grow small business or grow the middle class. Unconditional aid creates welfare nation-states, fostering a culture of dependency. Whatever their motivations, non-Africans over the long haul have added to, not alleviated, indigence in Africa.

All of these misguided charitable actions are literally crushing African economies with kindness. It stifles local economies and it’s down to simple impatience. Yes, it’s shit that people are starving and poor and sickly. The reality is that there is no quick fix to deeply entrenched poverty. How do these people think the first world became the first world? Do they think that Europe has always had the wealth it has today?

The west has real, long term and widespread wealth because they were afforded the opportunity to grow their fortunes organically over an extended period of time and, God help me if I’m not quoting Ronald Reagan, “the wealth trickled down”. How’s about giving the third world some breathing room and why aren’t third world countries given the same chance? Why is Bono/ Bob Geldof/ George Clooney advising people on African affairs? Are there no well qualified Africans who can provide comment?

Africa has an extensive and well educated intelligentsia that could provide African solutions to African questions. They are, however, shoved out of the limelight by rich, white celebrities looking to get catch some lime light. Not only is it wrong but it will only exacerbate the suffering of the people they are trying to help.

A Quote.

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I stumbled across a quote while I was pondering war. It reads:

The fact of the matter is that war changes men’s natures. The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal men. The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by normal men in abnormal situations, situations in which the ebb and flow of everyday life have departed and have been replaced by a constant round of fear, and anger, blood, and death. Soldiers at war are not to be judged by civilian rules, as the prosecution is attempting to do, even though they commit acts which, calmly viewed afterwards, could only be seen as unchristian and brutal. And if, in every war, particularly guerilla war, all the men who committed reprisals were to be charged and tried as murderers, court martials like this one would be in permanent session. Would they not? I say that we cannot hope to judge such matters unless we ourselves have been submitted to the same pressures, the same provocations as these men, whose actions are on trial.

A strange thing to ponder I know but war has always fascinated me; specifically its consequences for its combatants and those caught in the cross fire. This quote rung so true to me. It’s always bothered me when people judge soldiers according to normal standards. The quote here, from an Australian film called “Breaker Morant”, deals with this theme in a speech at the climax of movie by a character named Major J.F Thomas.

What he says is so true; not just in war but in life. We must be careful when we try to judge the abnormal through what we perceive to be the norm. It’s never that simple as “Breaker Morant” so successfully highlights here.

An Open Letter to Mysterious Facebook Status Writers.

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Dear cryptic status makers,
Why? I guess that’s what I want to know most of all; just why? Am I meant to understand and/or relate to a status saying “its the final countdown…;)”? Huh? I don’t understand. I can’t put it any stronger than that.

Maybe you do it out of some misplaced aspiration to look like the cool, aloof jet setter who just flips from one fulfilling experience to the next; you want me to read it and go “Damn, Terence sure is a cool and interesting dude!”. Well, if that’s the case I’m afraid I can’t. I just fucking can’t and I wont.

A cry for attention perhaps? You’re looking for that sycophant(s) who’s gonna ask who or what you’re talking about and you’re totally going to riposte with some arcane one sentence answer because you’re just that Harry Casual. Also, I suppose giving a satisfying reply risks people no longer inquiring about what you’ve just written and you need that spotlight. You crave that shit.

I don’t really know why you do it, and I suppose I never will, but I’m gonna go ahead and break it to you: nobody, and I mean nobody, finds your opaque musings intriguing nor do they really care. Yes, even that jackass that will inevitably ask you out about it. It’s because nobody can relate to you or it. I don’t know what it is that you are talking about and I don’t care about enough to venture and play our own little game of 20 questions to find out.

Simply put, you’re doing Facebook wrong. I didn’t think it was possible, but fuck, some of you have proved me wrong; oh so very wrong. Facebook is about sharing. Sharing pictures, information, likes, dislikes or whatevz. When you write some vague, idiosyncratic status it defeats the entire purpose of social networking. Don’t write it on a public forum if you don’t wish for me to know. Extra, doubly, super duper don’t write it in a status; a form of communication that is meant to be short, forceful and to the point. If you want me to be aware of how your bikini wax went or how the neighbours dog just took a shit on your front lawn, then fine. I might not give a shit but at least I’m not left in the dark.

A status is about full disclosure, so cut it out. I don’t find you interesting, absorbing, thought provoking or titillating. Truth is that I’ve probably blocked you by now.
Yours,
Francois Badenhorst.

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