"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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Location: Australia

I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


Beepbeepitsme has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”

I have been tagged by Chris at Deeply Blasphemous , Kriscinda at Goldbricker , Dave at The Galloping Beaver , Beast at Atheist Haven, and Nona from Fish Wars on Cars. I am very late at doing this meme and consequently, I am sure that all the blogs I read have been tagged already. Perhaps I can just link back to some of them without requiring them to repeat the meme over.

Here are the rules.

We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

This was much harder than I expected. What do I tell people about me? What could possibly be interesting to the rest of the blogging community about myself? I have no idea but here goes.

Eight Random Facts Or Habits:

1. I could read reasonably well before I went to school. I couldn't write though. In retrospect, I think I was probably a natural left-hander like my mother, but I was being encouraged to prefer my right-hand. I think I can remember my Aunty, who was a teacher, placing a pencil in front of me and asking me to pick it up. According to my memory, which may be accurate or inaccurate at this stage, I continually tried to pick it up with my left hand much to the disappointment of those viewing the experiment. ;) Nonetheless, reading has always been a pleasurable activity for me and is probably one of the distinct reasons why I find the internet such an attractive place.

2. I always think that I am right. In other words, I start with the premise that I am right and work from there. I am quite conducive to being shown otherwise, but I do not assume that others know better than I do unless they are a recognized expert in a particular field and even then I find that I am quite willing to challenge them on their assumptions. (This exercise of completing eight random facts or habits may turn into a litany of my flaws.) I have always been opinionated and I don't consider this by necessity, to be a negative characteristic. After all, I have to lead MY life; I can't lead anyone else’s. I was encouraged to classically "think for myself” and once in the habit of this, it is virtually impossible to defer to others through an appeal to authority, an appeal to age, an appeal to gender, or any other fallacious appeal that at least some of us, find compelling. I was encouraged to be a self-determining adult.

3. My favourite sandwich is white bread with vegemite and rare onion. You may all gag now at the thought, and gas masks are highly recommended during and after consumption of said sandwich.

4. Over the years I have methodically stripped away the vestiges of superstition and meaningless ritual from my life and feel much the better for it. Though I am aware that many people enjoy the imposition of external power structures, mores and belief systems upon their lives, I am not one who thrives on rigid structure or routine. It saps my energy and my enthusiasm. Nothing depresses me more than the thought that I must complete a certain set of behaviours within a given time frame and in a specific pattern. For better or for worse, I am unquestionably individualistic.

5. One ritual I have no intention of parting with at the moment, probably because I find it pleasurable, is the use of scented candles. Good quality scented candles burning in the house with few other light sources, is very relaxing and contemplative.

6. I have a fascination with what makes people tick. That is, what drives them - how they think, and why they believe what they believe. Obviously, this also extends to myself. It is of endless fascination to me that none of us have the exact same visual, visceral, intellectual or emotional reactions to the same object or experience. Obviously, we are not meant to behave as if we are clones of each other, yet so much of societal influence is an encouragement towards conformity. I do not make a "good drone." I actively rebel against the business model which treats people as identicals, or machine parts. I think the politically correct term is "human resources."

7. I have been "addicted" to computer gaming; more specifically, play station and nintendo games. Many of the strategy games are challenging and thought provoking. I also enjoyed first person action and role-playing games. And if I disappear from here for any length of time, it is probably because I have found a play station game which is taking my attention. I rarely use game cheats unless I am stuck on the same level for a couple of days, then I might weaken and look up some info concerning it on the net. I like to complete the game and don't see a lot of sense in buying a game and not mastering it to its conclusion.

8. I like a glass of red wine with my dinner, preferably a grenache, but I am not really that fussy. One is just right. Two is enough to send me off to the land of nod. Three and I am dancing on tables singing "Hey Big Spender" at the top of my lungs. Not really, but if you were kind enough to read this far, I thought you deserved a disturbing image of me to complete the picture.

Now to tag some other blogs. Ok, I give up. If you would like to be part of this meme, please tag yourself.


Monday, June 18, 2007

"What Sort of Marriage, What Costumes, What Physiology and Phrenology..?"

The topic of gay marriage is hot on the press again and being discussed on a few blogs around the ridges. After listening to quite a few arguments concerning the subject of marriage, it seems to me that there is a great deal of discussion about the definition of marriage itself. What it is, what it is not and why. Talk to a variety of people and each seems to have a view of what a marriage is and what it is not. Many people seem to have a view of marriage which derives from their religious beliefs, but to assume that marriage is only that which confirms our complies with our religious beliefs, is to only acknowledge part of the larger picture.

To assume that marriage throughout history is derived from a specific religious belief, flies in the face of history. My understanding of human relationships and history suggests strongly that marriage is not specifically aligned with the advent of either judaism, christianity, hinduism, buddhism or islam. That various religions have formulated their version of what a marriage is and goes on to claim that ALL marriages must fit their religious precepts, is an indication of religions trying to redefine what marriage is and the history of it.

In other words, marriage predates judaism and as such it predates christianity. If one wants to pretend that the only kind of marriage is one formalized through a specific religious construct, then all I can say is that the revising of history has been successful in this case.

"Although the institution of marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history, many cultures have legends or religious beliefs concerning the origins of marriage." - Westermarck, Edward Alexander (1903). The History of Human Marriage. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., London. ISBN 1402185480 (reprint).

Marriage as a concept, existed prior to judaism and consequently christianity and islam. One only needs to look at Ancient Egypt to see this. And certainly pagan marriages, (those who were not one of the big 3), existed prior to these religions and during the expansion of these religions.)

In other words, neither jews nor christian, nor muslims created marriage. They created a concept of marriage which fitted their religious precepts and then went on to claim that marriage under all circumstances must comply with their religious precepts. If you want a "christian marriage" - go right ahead. If you want a "jewish marriage" - go right ahead. If you want a "hindu marriage" - go right ahead - but don't try and pretend that you invented the concept of marriage and that all marriages must fit your religious precepts.

Marriage existed prior to the jewish version, the christian version or the islamic version. Religions do not OWN the concept of marriage. They have just formalized a natural process of pair bonding into their respective religions and tried to convince us that no other type of marriage except the ones they espouse, are allowed to exist.

The marriage contract, as we in the west know it, involves consent which is why it is restricted to those who are able to give consent on their own cognisance. This rules out marrying your goldfish if you believe that it looks at you in that "special way", as it is not capable of responding in kind to your declaration of love and marriage. The issue of consent or consensual sex is also what makes paedophilia wrong whether you have a religious belief that it is wrong or not. Paedophilia is illegal because a contract for sex cannot be made without consent. Children are unable to give consent on their own cognisance, so paedophilia is sex without the legal consent of one of the parties. Sex without consent is rape. Easy to see why it is illegal and a crime. The same goes for bestiality or people in love with their goldfish. The issue of a contract requiring mutual consent is what keeps paedophilia and bestiality illegal.

Surely one would agree that the important issue in a contract of any kind is that of mutual consent. The ability to give consent on one's own cognisance is the underlying feature. Unless, of course, you support the marrying of children as child brides at the age of 9 or 10 - regardless of their ability or willingness to consent? Now, where did I read about instances like that? Oh yes - in so-called holy books.

So, Christianity gets to say what a christian marriage is. Judaism gets to say what a jewish marriage is and islam gets to say what an islamic marriage is. However, they don't get to dictate to those OUTSIDE of their specific religion what a marriage is. If, however, the only reason you can give for not marrying your goldfish or your cat, or perhaps your favourite teddy bear, is a scriptural one, or one associated with your religious beliefs; where in passage and verse does it say that you are not allowed to marry your underpants?

I think that if a referendum was held in Australia today concerning gay marriage that it would pass. However, the conservative government and conservative "christian prime minister" that we have now decided to rewrite the definition of a "marriage" so that the door to marriage for gay people is shut. I believe that this is a case of him inflicting his personal religious beliefs on the rest of the population. He has the right to his own religious beliefs, he does not have the right to impose them on others.

As I have mentioned previously, you also have the right to believe according to your religious position, that homosexuality is wrong, but it is an insufficient and irrelevant reason for those who do not share your religious beliefs and by demanding through law that it be banned, you are in effect demanding that I object to gay marriage because of religious beliefs I do not hold. It is tantamount to saying - "My religious beliefs will decide for you even if you don't share them."

This isn't good enough.

"I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewellery." - Rita Rudner

The Kinks - "Lola"


Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Highway To Hell: Or The Loving Eternal BBQ

So what is "The Highway To Hell?" I would consider that it is the antithesis of "The Yellow Brick Road." Now some of us, freethinkers, sceptics, atheists, agnostics and the like, consider the idea of a place like hell to be part of interesting mythology, but mythology nonetheless. I guess the "Highway To Hell" is that road that so called unbelievers, nonbelievers or disbelievers are on. If that is so, I am on that highway and beetling along at breakneck speed. No doubt blasphemers top the list when it comes to a place on Hell's Highway and as a practiced blasphemer, I may actually be coming first. Obviously, threats of Hell, Hades and the devil are of no consequence to those who consider them to be all but primitive campfire stories. But I suppose they do keep the kiddies in line.

One of the problems of the concept of hell is one which is closely related to the problem of evil. As in, how can an omnipotent, omniscient and omni benevolent god consign some people to hell forever where they will be eternally punished? Is it love to create a heaven and a hell, then tell people they better do as you say and love you and get your name right or you're going to burn them for eternity? Does that pass for love?

And now for a little background about hell. Gehenna, (or gehenom or gehinom) has sometimes been described as a final punishment for the wicked and sometimes as a spiritual forge in which souls are purified after death. The name derived from a burning garbage dump near Jerusalem (the valley of Hinnom), sometimes identified as an entrance to the underworld. Gehenna also appears in the New Testament and in early Christian writing to represent the place where evil will be destroyed. It lends its name to Islam's hell, Jahannam.

The word is supposedly derived from the Greek meaning the Valley of Hinnom's son. The valley forms the southern border of ancient Jerusalem and stretches from the foot of Mt. Zion, eastward, to the Kidron Valley. It is first mentioned in Joshua 15:8. as a deep, narrow ravine at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem where refuse was burned. It is here that the bodies of executed criminals or others deemed unworthy of a proper burial were dumped. The association with hell derives from the tradition that the Canaanites sacrificed children to their god Moloch in this place.

Eventually this valley became Israel's "garbage dump". In it would be thrown refuse as well as dead animals and the dead bodies of criminals. This "dump" was perpetually on fire to rid the land of these unclean things. Jesus, who spoke more about hell than love, used this word 11 times to describe the suffering of those who do not trust in Him before death.

The Christian philosopher Origen also argued that the literal terrors of hell were false, but they ought to be publicized in order to scare simpler believers.

That having been said, watch the video, enjoy the music and find out why I am on "The Highway To Hell."


Monday, June 11, 2007

I Come From A Land Down Under Where Women Glow And Men Plunder

" I Come From A Land Down Under"

Ever wondered why Australia is called the "Land Down Under?" Ok you haven't, but maybe some people don't know. It is a colloquialism which refers to all things Australian because of Australia's position in the southern hemisphere. When one looks at a map in the most common way, Antarctica appears at the 'bottom' of the page, and north appears to be "up" and south appears to be "down." Now if cartography developed in Australia, we would have all you northern hemispheric centrists as "downunders."

According to the description listed beside the video: -

"This is some traditional Australian Dancing. This is what the convicts used 2 do in their spare time and to the same music. Ahh-Just watch it." (My suggestion is to watch out for Australians cause they are the biggest bullshit artists you are ever going to meet.)

Nevertheless, this is a video made by a couple of aussie guys doing what aussie guys go best and that is making dickheads out of themselves. :)

When you watch the video, you will see an Australian flag. On the flag you will notice the Union Jack which symbolizes that Australia was claimed as a British Colony. The Southern Cross is the constellation called surprisingly, The Southern Cross. It is comprised of 4 major stars in a kite pattern and is easily recognizable from the Southern Hemisphere. The other major symbol on the flag is The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation which has seven points to denote the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth.

One of the guys is dancing around a Hills Hoist which is an Australian version of the rotary clothesline. Its distinguishing feature is a crown and pinion-winding mechanism invented by Adelaide based Lance Hill in 1945. As most places in Australia have good clothes drying weather, the Hills Hoist has been a common feature in many Australian backyards. In part of the clip a guy is also riding a unicycle and carrying a cricket bat. Cricket, if you hadn't guessed, is a National obsession for many Australians.

The song used is by Men at Work and is called "I Come From a Land Downunder"

Travelling in a fried-out kombi
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said,

"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Lying in a den in Bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, "Are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?"
And he said,

"Oh! Do you come from a land down under? (oh yeah yeah)
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

This song was used as a theme song by the crew of Australia ll when they won the America's Cup in 1983. I remember the yachting race well as it was the first time that another country broke the US's stranglehold on the race. Most of Australia sat up glued to their TV sets in the wee small hours to catch a glimpse of John Bertrand's crew doing the seemingly impossible. It goes without saying that a lot of Australians also had a small celebrationary drink as a result. The next day, the Prime Minister of Australia at the time, Bob Hawke went on National television and uttered his immortal line that any boss, who sacked a worker taking a sickie because he was up late celebrating the win, was 'a bum'. So, many of us didn't go to work. I know I didn't. :) I can't imagine the present Prime Minister, John Howard being quite as "Australian."


Friday, June 08, 2007

What Is Fascism?

What Is Fascism?

"Fascism" is one of those terms that many people use when they want a word to describe a political ideology that they don't like. To call someone a "fascist" has become an attack on someone's character and morality. Consequently I have heard people on the left, middle and right of politics call each other "fascists" on regular occasions. But what does it actually mean and how would someone be able to identify a fascist? Is fascism the sort of political ideology to be aspired to, or is it always something to be confronted and despised?

People seem to be able to understand easily that a communist is someone who believes that the state should control aspects of society including the economy. They seem to understand that a capitalist is someone who believes that means of production are mostly privately owned and operated for profit and that the various ideologies of socialism are somewhere in between. (For more complete descriptions of communism, capitalism and socialism click on the links.) But what do people mean when they call someone a fascist? The word seems to be used more often than not as a way to say - "I don't like you and what you stand for."

One thing that many people will agree about fascism is that it is anti-democratic. That it opposes liberalism. A couple of quotes express this view.

" The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power. " - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Mussolini defined fascism as being a right-wing collectivistic ideology in opposition to socialism, liberalism, democracy and individualism. He wrote in The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism: -

"Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity.... The fascist conception of the State is all embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.... Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number.... We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State."

I prefer the simple version stated by Robert A. Heinlein: -

"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." - Robert A. Heinlein


Monday, June 04, 2007

"I Can Make You A Man" - or "What Is A Wimp?"

Click on image to enlarge - "I Can Make You A Man" - Charles Atlas
From: Dispatches from the Culture Wars -

The Worldnutdaily has a column up with the following headline:

Leave it to the ladies
Exclusive: Pat Boone honours women leaders who've stepped up due to male 'wimpiness'

(Pat Boone. Talking about male wimpiness. Pat Frickin Boone, who could only seem macho if he stood next to Andy Williams. Someone really needs to come up with some sort of irony transplant surgery.)

And what does someone mean by "male whimpiness?" I suggest that the term isn't meant to apply to when guys get sick and want to be mothered incessantly. Is "male whimpiness" the desire not to kill furry little animals with a sub-machine gun? I dunno. What IS "male whimpiness?"

In the 1940s, the word "weakling" or "wimp" was used before the word "nerd" was used widely.
wimp : –noun 1. a weak, ineffectual, timid person. 2. a person lacking in courage or confidence

What is it with gender stereotyping? Some cultures seem to gravitate between the idea that a male isn't a "real man" unless his balls are dragging in the dust, (and his knuckles probably as well), and a female isn't a "real woman" unless she can pull out of her vagina a freshly baked tray of chocolate chip cookies the instant guests arrive. Regardless of how one expresses it, the concept of gender and gender roles is a polarizing factor in many cultures. Why did this polarization occur? A hint to this question might be found in one of the other comments posted on the article.

"It comes from the idea, popular in fundamentalist circles, that in God's ideal world only men are to be in positions of leadership. The only excuse for a woman to lead is when the man has wimped out of his responsibility and the woman is forced to reluctantly take over. The perfect biblical illustration is the story of Deborah and Jael which I posted about a few weeks ago. There's a link to a whacked out fundamentalist website that goes into detail about this very issue."

I think that this comment may have hit the nail on the head. Religions seem to push the gender stereotype more than any other dynamic. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, from my understanding, are probably the biggest players when it comes to gender stereotyping. What do you think?

Of course Frankenfurter from "The Rocky Horror Show" was also a fan of Charles Atlas. I am not sure it was what Charles Atlas had in mind.