Monthly Archives: May 2007

More political sniping

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May 29, 2007

Do you remember last year when the erstwhile Mark Latham (shamed former Opposition leader) released a book called A Conga Line Of Suckholes? The book was a collection of quotations by himself and others. The title itself came from one of his own particularly vitriolic outbursts.

Well, another beautifully eloquent description has emerged in recent days. Dean Mighell, boss of the Electrical Trades Union, was reported as delivering a speech full of profanity and insults recently. He compared the then workplace relations minister Kevin Andrews to Saddam Hussein and said he should hang himself, among other things. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that he’s since resigned from the Labor Party and the party has said it will refund donations from his Union.

mighell More political sniping
Dean Mighell

But, the best part of it all is the resurgence in the reporting of a phrase uttered by Mighell during a speech to the ALP national conference. He called our Prime Minister, John Howard, a “skidmark on the bedsheet of Australian politics”. Priceless.

howard More political sniping
The “skidmark” in question

Now, if Latham won last years classic political quote competition with “a conga line of suckholes” (he didn’t, as there was no such competition, but he should have, if there was), then certainly Dean Mighell will win this year for a “skidmark on the bedsheet of Australian politics”. And, to be fair, I think it’s a pretty accurate description.

A new style of storytelling

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May 28, 2007

I don’t often simply link to other sites from here, but a friend of mine put me onto this video of a guy with a whole new idea about how stories should be told. He’s an artist called Jonathan Harris. If you have five minutes, watch the video here.

It’s OK to lightly beat your wife

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May 27, 2007

The (alleged) absolute word of Allah, (allegedly) spoken by the archangel Gabriel directly to the prophet Muhammad, has been updated. Well, more accurately it’s been “reinterpreted”. Keysar Trad, vociferous Sydney Muslim, has “tweaked” the meaning of 799 words and phrases in a revised edition of the Holy Koran.

keysartrad It’s OK to lightly beat your wife
Keysar Trad

It is not allowed to actually change the Koran in any way, but the original Arabic has words that can be translated in different ways. For example, Trad has “reinterpreted” verse 51 of chapter 5. This verse prohibits Muslims from making friends with Jews and Christians. However, the meaning of “awliya” has been revised from “friends” to “protecting patrons”, so that the ban only affects a dominating relationship. It was, Mr Trad said, the worst mistranslation in the Koran he found. So it’s ok to be friends with Jews and Christians now, but not if they have any authority over you.

However, friendships with members of other religions is not particularly relevant in comparison to other instructions in the Koran. The most surprising was Trad’s “reinterpretation” of chapter 4, verse 34. I looked up that particular verse in my copy of the Koran. (What, you think I rant about these things without even reading them?) The relevant part reads:

If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of god], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.

Yes, that’s what it says. You can hit your wives.

Trad’s “reinterpreted” version, you would think, should go some way to redressing this obvious mis-translation. After all, what religion of peace would condone the hitting of women? The word in question is darb, which has been translated as beat, hit, strike, scourge, chastise and even seduce. What did Keysar Trad choose? He was happy to keep “lightly beaten”, as in “remind them [of the teachings of god], then ignore them when you go to bed, then lightly beat them.

What kind of oxymoronic term is that? How can you lightly beat someone?

But it gets better (or worse). This is what Trad had to say about it:

“My revision reflects what the Arabic means. It does not seek to rewrite the Arabic, which is a historic document and must be translated faithfully.

“Like most translators, I agonised over the translation of the verse. In the end, I had to toss up between putting a one-page footnote or leaving it for the next time when I plan to do a full retranslation if God permits me. This verse cannot be read at face value, because a casual reading can lead to the mistaken impression that it sanctions violence. This is quite wrong, because the prophet Muhammad strongly discouraged violence against women. What the verse seeks to do is to actually put controls on men to stop domestic violence.”

Well, that’s quite blatant bullshit. It says clearly that you can beat your wife if you consider her “high-handed” (after you’ve reminded her of god and then ignored her in bed).

Interestingly, my copy of the book does have a footnote. It explains that the word signifies only a single blow. Well, that’s all right then.

Bible in a plain wrapper

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May 17, 2007

I’m going to be away for a week or so, on a well deserved little holiday, so don’t be surprised if things are a bit quiet around here. However, before I go, I thought I’d leave you with this bit of entertaining news via Reuters in Hong Kong:

More than 800 Hong Kong residents have called on authorities to reclassify the Bible as “indecent” due to its sexual and violent content, following an uproar over a sex column in a university student journal.

If this was to go through, the Bible would only be available to over-eighteens in a sealed wrapper. Not a bad idea when you think about it. It helps to avoid the unconsented indoctrination of the young. I vote for all religious texts to be put in a brown paper bag and kept away from kids. Perhaps they should only be allowed to be read by people of high school age or older and only if they take religious education classes.

And religious education is not Christian studies or Muslim studies or anything like that. It means study of religions, plural. All of them. Let the kids learn about all the religions in the world and make up their own mind about what they think. How progressive.

The Hong Kong complaints follow the launch of an anonymous Web site called truthbible.net which claims that the Bible “made one tremble” given its sexual and violent content, including rape and incest. The website bears this banner along the top:

warning Bible in a plain wrapper

The English translations reads:

LEGAL DISCLAIMER WARNING: THIS WEBSITE CONTAINS BIBLE MATERIAL WHICH MAY OFFEND AND MAY NOT BE DISTRIBUTED, CIRCULATED, SOLD, HIRED, GIVEN , LENT, SHOWN, PLAYED OR PROJECTED TO A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS.

OK, no under-eighteens, we get it.

Interestingly, local protestant minister, Reverend Wu Chi-Wai, said, “If there is rape mentioned in the Bible, it doesn’t mean it encourages those activities.”

Yeah, right. Just like it doesn’t encourage belief in a magic Jew that was his own father and died for our sins. And it doesn’t encourage people to “bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” (Deuteronomy 17). Just like the Koran doesn’t encourage the conversion or extermination of all infidels as in IX. 5-6: “Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them.”

I think those folks in Hong Kong are onto something. We should give all holy texts an MA rating.

Children’s books and charities

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May 16, 2007

Maggie Pragratis is an author with a vision. She writes children’s books (Go Away Booboo! is already available in a number of languages), but that’s not enough. She wants to make the whole world a better place, not just the lives of the kids that read her books.

booboo2 Children’s books and charities
Go Away Booboo! by Maggie Pragratis

She is the founder of Athse Publishing, which produces and promotes kid’s books along with poetry and images, with large chunks of the proceeds going to charities like the Canadian Red Cross, Midway Stop, Krishnamurti Foundation of America and so on. A diverse range of products and supported charities.

It’s a pretty noble concept. In Maggie’s own words “we are an online publishing house with a philanthropic philosopy”. The mission statement on the Athse Publishing website says:

“While books are being enjoyed, the charities benefitting from their earnings will build shelters, provide education, health care, food, and opportunities for those in need. This small contribution of ours, we hope, will go a long way…

I believe that with each of us doing our best, contributing what we have to offer, we can make this world wonderful, for everyone, today. Books represent beauty, magic, hope, learning, longevity, and this is what Athse Publishing would like to give the world.”

You can’t really argue with that. Check out their website here.

Just a quick one

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May 16, 2007

I stumbled across this page recently and think it should probably be the compulsory homepage for everyone. Reload the page a few times as it changes. How many can you get right? Try getting one wrong too, just for the amusing result.

Reduce illiteracy on the internet.

Where am I?

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May 13, 2007

Don’t worry. You’re at the all new website of The Word.

I’ve spent considerable time recently putting this new site together, so I hope it appeals to you all. However, I couldn’t have done it without the considerably more time put in by my good friend James Frost. Thanks Jim!

Please be sure to let me know what you think, in comments or emails.

Have you read your Holi Baibul?

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May 12, 2007

Yawei, yu jis laik det brabli gudwan stakmen.

Have I gone mad? Fallen asleep on the keyboard? Not this time. That’s Australian Aboriginal Kriol, a pidgin that is now the language for an estimated 30,000 indigenous Australians throught the country’s north. The line is Psalm 23 from the Bible, recently translated. In the translation, shepherd is changed to stockman to better authenticate this latest version.

So now indigenous Australians can be converted in their own tongue, with the Bible, once again, editted to suit those that would be the target of its proselytising. However, in a refreshingly honest statement Phillip Zamagias, director of the Bible Society in the Northern Territory, said the translation would allow many Aborigines to “really understand it and they can make their own choices about whether they want to follow Jesus … or whether it’s just an interesting read.” Fair enough.

Holy Baibul Have you read your Holi Baibul?

You can learn more about the project here.

In a rather less reasonable statement, but one I’m not at all surprised to hear, the old Pope is at it again. Benedict has warned Catholic politicians that they risk excommunication from the Church if they support abortion. They should not be able to receive communion, the symbolic ingestion of the body of Christ.

However, rather than risk a massive political backlash, Benedict isn’t prepared to actually excommunicate them himself. When asked if he supported the action by Mexican Church leaders when they threatened to excommunicate the politicians that did support abortion, he said, “Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ.”

People went all a-twitter because Benedict, as the Supreme Pontiff, sets Vatican policy by any words he speaks. That would have massive ramifications for Catholics the world over. But the Pope’s spokesman was quick to point out that the Pontiff was not ordering excommunication. The politicians were in effect self-excommunicating because “Legislative action in favour of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. Politicians exclude themselves from Communion.”

Phew, thank goodness the Pope narrowly escaped getting his hands dirty there. Hasn’t the Catholic church come a long way since the days of the Inquisition and the Crusades?

Now, call me rational and capable of independent thought, which I know is anathema to the Vatican, but surely if someone really believed in abortion and their church forbade it, then that person would have no interest in following that church any more? Leticia Quezada, one of the laws chief backers in Mexico, put it best. “I voted to address a crisis of public health. I will continue to be a believer. The church has no right to interfere in my conscience.”

You see, that’s the problem. If you want to be a part of that church, that’s exactly what it does. It intereferes in your conscience in every way, smothering all your individual thought with contradictory, hypocritical, dogmatic nonsense. Continue to be a believer in your god, Ms Quezada, by all means, but don’t have any further ties with a religious body that directly contradicts so many other things you believe in.

Will the Dark Tower get Lost?

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May 11, 2007

Further to my recent speculation about the nature of adapting Stephen King’s writing to the screen, I’ve recently learned that he has finally sold movie rights to his Dark Tower series. The Dark Tower is what many, including King himself, consider to be the author’s magnum opus. Or his rambling, self-indulgent Frankenstein, depending on your point of view. He began the work at the age of 22 and has infrequently released further instalments ever since.

DarkTower Will the Dark Tower get Lost?
Book 1 of The Dark Tower series

The series is up to seven books now and there is considerable debate about how engaging it really is. Many die-hard Stephen King fans simply can’t get into it and others are almost rabid in their praise of it. Regardless, the concept of making such a deep and complicated story into a movie is rather daunting. King has been refusing offers in the past, dubious himself as to how good a job anyone could make of it.

But now he’s found some people that he’s a fan of himself – J J Abrams and Damon Lindelof, makers of the TV behemoth Lost. King is a fan of Lost and the Lost-makers are a fan of the Dark Tower books. So it’s possible something good could come of the venture. King sold the rights to these guys for just $19, which will be a poignant amount to any fans of the books.

Josh Greenwald, administrator of the fansite www.thedarktower.net, had this to say about the potential movie: “I can speak for thousands of Stephen King fans by saying that we are very nervous about this; hopeful, but very nervous. Stephen King needs to make sure this is done right; this is his magnum opus.”

And he needs to get an ending right too. At least once.

You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists

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May 10, 2007

So says this guy:

farfour You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists
You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists!

Mickey Mouse is preaching Islamic Fundamentalism? Well, sort of. This is actually Farfour the Mouse (which means butterfly, for some inexplicable reason). He’s an icon on Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa TV and regularly stirs kids up into a froth of hatred against Israel and the US.

The show is called Tomorrow’s Pioneers and, until recently, aired every Friday. Perpetuating centuries old religious feuds is hardly pioneering activity, but there you go. Further sermons by the butterfly mouse of hatred include:

“We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers.”

There’s nothing like getting to them while they’re young. Children apparently called in to the show, often singing Hamas anthems about fighting Israel. Yehia Moussa, a Hamas leader in the movement’s Gaza Strip base, denied inciting children to hate Jews. He said, “Our problem is not with the Jews. Our problem is with the (Israeli) occupation and the occupiers.” Then again, Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, so you can’t really accept that statement. Not that the Israelis deal with these issues any better. There’s nothing like religious justification for perpetuating cultural animosities.

Still, the program has just been pulled from the air after the sudden round of recent international attention. Although I suspect it was actually action on the part of Disney that canned the show. Interesting that Disney has a greater power over Hamas than any political party. Oh, and in the interests of unbiased opinion, I should mention that Farfour also encourages his little future-martyrs to drink their milk and pray. That’s nice.

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The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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