Critical thinking

Well I just had a lovely coffee chat with a gay christian Anglican friend. We talked about anything and everything and had a great time doing so. But there are problems when you talk to someone in the North of England about politics. Basically there is only left and far left. I’d love to be a socialist, I was very left leaning when I was at Sixthform college, I think I even voted Labour in the first election I was eligible to vote in.

Unfortunately I was mugged by reality, the more you read about the world and how it works (or doesn’t work as is invariably the case) the more the idealism of youth tends to fade, especially when you see that a lot of those ideals had unintended consequences when lived out in the world that did more damage than the problems they were supposed to be solving.

People don’t understand economics, they don’t understand psychology, they don’t understand history and least of all, and most dangerously, they don’t understand religion or philosophy. We are living in a world where the IMF talks out of its bum about economics. Where the UN is a talking shop for tyrants and torturers. Where the EU is mindlessly marching on to an ‘ever greater union’ despite all the evidence that Europe doesn’t have a common culture, system of law, or economy.

We are living in a world where the global warming myth is still taken seriously long after the ‘science’ has been discredited. Where on closer inspection even the rabid greens at the IPCC slip in confessions, for example, that the cost of reversing global warming (not that there is any, but cest la vie) will be much higher than the cost of dealing with its consequences. Which is a huge torpedo under the waterline for the whole climate change industry. Except curiously this line doesn’t get into the policy brief for politicians from very same IPCC because that is written by a clique of even more insular rabid greens…

The whole thing is beyond a farce. But people don’t like to believe the world is run by idiots. They would rather believe intricate conspiracy theories that everything is run by the Illuminati. Sorry folks, this country is run by people called David Cameron, Nick Clegg and soon Ed Miliband. The world is run by these people desperately trying to make sense of things, muddling through one thing after another, then they go home drink a whiskey and think… well at least I’m getting paid a big wedge of cash…

Gordon Brown was supposed to be an economist for crying out loud and he spent all the money faster than any peacetime chancellor in history, whilst constantly spouting on about prudence and how he had personally abolished ‘boom and bust’. These people really are complete idiots.

The problem with idiots though, is you cannot argue with a drunk or a fool. We need to rebuild our society’s critical thinking functions from the ground up.

Same old, just worse.

So then, the Ebola outbreak is gathering speed in Africa, and its only a matter of time before the first non African case emerges. One person can and probably will get on a plane to the rest of the world and bring the virus with them.

Ebola has only been contained in the past because its incredible lethality and rapid onset of debilitating symptoms actually hinders its spread and has hit mostly isolated villages. But this is the biggest outbreak so far, it is killing doctors, it has reached cities. Liberia has effectively shut down as a country in a desperate attempt to contain it. This is not like every other outbreak.

Anyway, there isn’t much we can do about it bar prayer, but if you know someone who has recently flown from Africa and is suffering from flu like symptoms I’d recommend you tell them to visit the doctor immediately and that you studiously avoid physical contact. Then again our world is so interconnected that a carrier could sneeze in Heathrow and spread the virus to the four corners of the globe.

I’ve also been watching the world’s reaction to the blood letting in Gaza. The Israelis do understand the consequences of civilian casualties, they do get it. They do try to avoid them, but in a war zone as filled with civilians as Gaza is, when soldiers are getting tired and Hamas are deliberately using civilians as human shields, tragic mistakes are inevitable. The UN has called for a ceasefire, which ironically is what Israel has wanted from the beginning, if only Hamas were interested in peace.

In personal news, I haven’t taken my board gaming group betrayal well at all, in fact its been a disaster psychologically speaking. My therapist cancelled on me on Monday, and is basically on holiday for the next month and I’m about to have serious money problems in a short while having thought I was doing ok only a month ago.

Moral of the story; when you have low income never think to yourself, ooh I’ve got some money, because very quickly you won’t have any… as it happens I’ve just checked my account and I won’t go bankrupt in August, I wish I could say the same for September or November…

On the plus side I had a Lincolnshire sausage, black pudding and smoked bacon sandwich this morning, wow, delicious! There is something amazing about black pudding, its so blatantly evil, but so incredibly tasty!

The horsemen

So then, isn’t the news unrelentingly grim at the moment? I have just found out that the first case of the Ebola virus has been discovered in Lagos, the biggest city in Africa. I think anyone with even half a brain knows that this might end up being the most devastating news we have ever heard. This might not be the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but if you listen carefully you can hear them whinny in their stables. It would only take a stampede to the airport and we may well have a global epidemic on our hands.

In other grim news Hamas was planning to murder huge numbers of civilians by having gunmen pop up from tunnels in Israel and kill as many Israelis as possible. These tunnels were already built (and were in the process of being built for the last two years) and the plan was to go ahead in September during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, they were only discovered due to the ground offensive in Gaza.

The world will not wake up to the murderous intent of Hamas because it is blinkered by chronic antisemitism. Why is it that Hamas spends so much money on rockets, and not a single dollar on bomb shelters for its citizens? Why do they fire these rockets from schools, hospitals, mosques, UN compounds, playgrounds, back gardens, residential buildings? Why when the Israelis drop leaflets urging civilians to evacuate does Hamas discourage and prevent people from doing so?

Because Hamas are one giant suicide bomber regime. They do not care for their own people in the slightest. The blockade on Gaza only started when the rockets started. Hamas do not negotiate with Israel, they don’t recognise Israel’s right to exist. They are not interested in peace. Ceasefires are only used to stock up for the next deluge of rockets.

The difference between Israel and Hamas are that Israel use missiles to protect its citizens, and Hamas use its citizens to protect its missiles. The people of Gaza know this, but Hamas have the guns. They have not held elections since they came to power for a reason.

The death toll in Gaza is of course totally avoidable and unnecessary in every way. Gaza could be prosperous. Gaza could be trading with the world, trading with Israel. All this is a dream that can never come to fruition until Hamas are gone. We should remember that we bombed Germany to smithereens to get rid of the Nazis, war is horrific but sometimes there is no alternative. Israel needs to win, and win big, and in the end Gaza will be better off for it just as Germany is better off without the Nazis.

Meanwhile; Vladimir Putin is busy laughing himself silly at the global response (or complete lack thereof) to his very poorly disguised proxy war in Ukraine. I mean if this was a bank robber disguise it would be the equivalent of putting a pair of black framed glasses on.

Vlad knows the EU will do nothing because Germany needlessly disposed of its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima meltdown so is entirely reliant on Russian energy reserves. So surprise surprise it will be Britain bearing the brunt of the sanctions against Russia due to the restrictions on financial transactions. I genuinely wonder who they are more keen to harm, Britain or Russia.

On the plus side all we need now is a famine then we are all set for Armageddon and we can get off this God forsaken rock.

Betrayal

Board gaming groups tend to attract people who are quite happy to be doing a hobby usually associated with childhood. But some people are basically still children. Anyway for having a couple of opinions on a couple of games that they like and I don’t someone has gone behind my back and got me chucked out of the club. Its so juvenile, but the betrayal really hurts, the depression really hurts.

This was something that got me out the flat, that cheered me up, for the first time in ages I wasn’t feeling depressed. Now its back only worse. So yes, the moral of this story is, don’t trust people, don’t have opinions, don’t speak up, toe the line etc etc. So basically I’m just going to try to forget the whole thing because if I take life lessons from it then it’ll just fuck me up even more. The problem is, how do you forget something when it hurts so much? Time to join a proper gaming group, not some insular tree house club for adult children who can’t cope with diversity.

Israel and Gaza.

So then, the war in Gaza is ramping up, even Barrack Obama has called for a ceasefire. Of course a ceasefire is all Israel ever wanted in the first place, if only Hamas had the same desire. Hamas have turned down one ceasefire already. Hamas doesn’t even negotiate with Israel, so these things have in the past been brokered by Egypt and Turkey.

The only problem is Egypt is almost as pissed off with Hamas as Israel is, Hamas has been funding terrorism inside Egypt too so Egypt has been destroying tunnels into Gaza in an effort to curb Hamas’ income from extorting the trade conducted via these tunnels.

Turkey on the other hand is becoming increasingly Islamic in its government and its PM is exceptionally antisemitic. They can’t offer to be a neutral party go between anymore.

This is a mad ‘war’ if it even warrants the term, a vastly inferior military force attacking a vastly superior one, and not only do they not care how many civilians they lose, they actively use their own civilians as human shields, losing civilians is actually the only way they hope to achieve their aims through international pressure. Talk about leading with your chin.

The problem Israel has is that their strategy is flawed too, because Hamas probably can’t be defeated militarily, at least not without many thousands more civilian casualties than they are comfortable with. But these constant rocket attacks have made the average IDF soldier hate the people of Gaza, who voted for Hamas and seem to endorse this insane death wish attack.

IDF soldiers know that their children back home have to spend hour after hour hiding in bunker rooms or just waiting for the sirens to start wailing. So I expect the body count to be higher this time around. Especially since in the last few hours an armoured personnel carrier was taken out by a rocket. Lots of scared jumpy angry young men with machine guns, what could possibly go wrong?

The people of Gaza will suffer until they put an end to this suicidal attack. There is no reason why they should have to die for their Hamas leaders so that Hamas can keep the money (and rockets) rolling in. If Gaza spent its money on building a future for itself, rather than hopelessly attacking Israel then their future would brighten. Will this ever happen though? at the moment that future seems a very long way off.

It doesn’t have to be this way

One of the signs of depression is feeling trapped, like there is no alternative to how things are, that there are no options. Of course this way of thinking is a result of mental illness.

Anyway I just came back from my second LGBT Christian event. Its wonderful to meet the people who have chosen, like me, to remain, to not allow homophobia in the Church to drive us away from Jesus.

The more we talk it becomes apparent that no, it doesn’t have to be this way. Christianity is not inherently homophobic. We do not need to conform ourselves to a backward way of thinking.

Here is a thought: If I used such tenuous claims to scriptural precedent as a lot of homophobes do, it would be very easy to insinuate that Jesus was gay. He was certainly more comfortable with physical contact with other men than most men are in this sad day and age.

John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, Jesus loved all his disciples, so why do the gospel writers single out John with that particular wording. Then later at the last supper John discovers Judas is the traitor when he is snuggling up to Jesus. Then on the Cross Jesus tells his boyfriend, sorry, disciple, to look after his mother when he is gone. Then after the Resurrection Jesus tells the disciples that basically they will all will face martyrdom, except John, and that they should just get over it.

Now I’m not sure this is enough evidence that Jesus was gay… But I like how this little narrative pisses off all the right people. “Jesus couldn’t possibly be queer, because being queer is icky! I don’t like it!”.

Well I want to model my life on that of Christ, and if I project a part of myself into my image of the divine well that is basically the history of human interaction with God. We can’t help it and indeed God decided his son should take on human form in order to raise our humanity to the Godhead. Genesis tells us we are created in God’s image, yes even us queers!

So yes, it doesn’t have to be this way. St Paul was a man of his time, he wrote a few letters that just so happened to become the central part of the new testament. He was openly homophobic, calling it a curse because he couldn’t imagine any non pagan being queer? Well our experience and very existence has proved him wrong.

Just as St Paul had to tirelessly campaign for the lifting of Jewish dietary requirements for Christian converts, so we have to campaign for homophobic requirements to be lifted. This isn’t anything new or novel here we are in an age old tradition of insisting that the people trying to bar the gates of heaven stand aside. When I see and meet gay Christians it has been a massive reassurance, it is so right to love whomever God sends your way.

“What God has joined let no man divide”. Yes and isn’t it interesting that God makes gay people, and then he makes other gay people for them to love then draws them together, and that we have been here since the dawn of time and that the sky hasn’t fallen and the human race hasn’t keeled over.

While we are on the subject, the only philosophical argument the Catholic Church has against homosexuality is that it isn’t procreative, then it insists on celibacy for its priests. It seems to me what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. Then again if it wasn’t for gay men fleeing their sexuality how many priests would we have? It doesn’t have to be this way.

Drama and my X-wing addiction

Well I’ve had a strange week, particularly board gaming night which happened at my riverside flat. Which went well… if you consider spending most of the evening giving statements to the emergency services as going well.

Through the window both myself and another member of our little group heard a shout then a loud splash then some splashing about in the water. I thought someone may have fallen in so I rang 999. Cue a huge effort by the emergency services to search the water. Including boats and a diver with sonar I think!
They really pulled out all the stops shy of a helicopter. Anyway, we had to guide them to where we heard the noises from and give statements etc etc.

My theory now is that a junkie from across the river was playing fetch with his dog after consuming his methadone, misjudged a throw, the dog jumped in the river, then promptly got out again, and neither thought anything more about it. So it was a colossal waste of time and money, but if it had been a person and I hadn’t rung it in I would be wracked with guilt so I guess I did what I had to do. Still makes me feel like a bit of an idiot, even though I know I did the right thing… (Why is that?)

Anyway in actual gaming news, our game of Cutthroat Caverns was nixed by the drama, but it looks like a fantastic game! We played a couple of rounds of King Of Tokyo, one of which I won with a last monster standing victory with Nova breath.

Then we rounded off the evening with a game of Carcassone, which included a couple of the expansions. This was very good for my ego because I comprehensively won with a staggering final score of 168. I finished off a big city with a Cathedral, I won the highest scoring farm I’ve ever seen, and I was scoring pretty well for most of the game too.

But before any of this I played a taster of x-wing with one of the guys who got there early. It is FANTASTIC! seriously good fun. My only problem with it is it has made me somewhat of an addict. You see its a collectible miniatures game, and they are rather beautifully sculpted and come prepainted, both of which means they are expensive. VERY expensive.

I’ve already sunk a significant chunk of money into the game… and I want to spend £53 on five more ships already. Then I’ll basically have one of every small rebel ship, and a comparable Imperial fleet, which isn’t even a particularly big set up considering that is without shelling out for any of the bigger ships (which get expensive in the extreme!) and a couple of the Imperial fighters that don’t really appeal to me.

Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced x1 is a bit lame by all accounts, and the TIE Phantom is cheating. It comes with a cloaking device even though Captain Nedar, in the Empire Strikes Back, says of the Millennium Falcon (which is much bigger than the Phantom) “No ship that small has a cloaking device!”

Generally I prefer the Imperial ships if I’m honest. Maybe I like how menacing they look? They are more strategic to play with and more maneuverable, but you have to co-ordinate your TIE fighters to bring the maximum amount of firepower to bear on the rebel ships because the rebel ships are significantly tougher. (With the exception of the TIE Defender, which is an absolute beast.) Talking of the TIE Defender, that is my favourite ship in all of science fiction so I am SO excited to finally be getting my hands on one.

So with my current spend I’ve got five TIE Fighters, one TIE Interceptor, one TIE Defender, three X-wings, an A-wing, an E-wing and a Z-95 Headhunter. Which at the moment is actually slightly biased towards the Rebels. That is crying out to be rectified. Maybe if I just got a TIE bomber? But the Imperial Aces pack, with its gorgeous alternative paint scheme TIE Interceptors looks so good! The only question is, how long will I be able to resist temptation?

Answer: probably not very long. Maybe I should have Poor Impulse Control tattooed on my forehead like one of the characters in the cyberpunk novel Snowcrash? I’m staggered to find out someone is actually trying to turn that into a film. Good luck to them, it’ll be a rather expensive feat of cinema to do so.