Archive for March, 2005

Cabbages, Kettles, Swedes and Linkage

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

My only comment on the whole Terry Schiavo fiasco will be this, from Dr. James Burnett, Professor of Neurology at Dartmouth Medical School:

[On Mrs. Schiavo’s Persistant Vegetative State] “The problem of course, is that it sounds like the word vegetable.”

Schiavo is caught in the middle of a legal battle between her husband who wants euthanasia and her parents who want to care for her. Seems like a simple ethical matter to me but I am clearly under the influence of some tap water out here in the sticks since my sophisticated urban dwelling giant friend seems to join with most of Florida in thinking that humans should be allowed to live only if we deem them to be having a really fun time.

Yeah, I know that is a cheap simplification of the argument. But my housemate, a balding genius agreed with me on this one over a nutella breakfast this morning and so I feel sanctioned.

We bought a new kettle here at the Kildare Knowledge Incorporated. It looks like it was folded up inside a Kinder Egg. It is made of cheap shiny plastic. But its great benefit is that it has a little window so that we can see the water boiling instead of just trusting the little clicking on/off switch that our tea was ready to brew. The days of boiling-water-agnosticism are gone. There is no need for the constant debate between the boiling fundamentalists in the house who demanded that by faith we should accept the kettle’s command as a supreme authority and the dithering liberals who always wanted to pour a bit of water over their faces before going into the mug just to make sure. The inherent and unquestionable cynicism of kettle worship is brought to an end and I can rest easier. I can also welcome my friends round for instant hot beverages without fearing a verbal lashing that will burn for weeks.

I had meant to call my friend in Malmo, Sweden tonight but I forgot about it. Did you know that Republic of Sophistication is the official name of Sweden? Their national slogan is, “We’re very advanced, you know?” I like that. It really involves the audience with that clever question mark. They aren’t going to be arrogant about it. They are so sophisticated that they want feedback. It’s a leading question though. Not likely to garner authentic feedback at all. But maybe their focus groups and polling have told them that prospective investors, visitors and citizens enjoy the illusion of feedback potential without actually being forced into sharing an opinion. In that case, Sweden definitely pips their Scandinavian neighbours to the pole position in sophistication.

Twenty Major has been typically hilarious during my hiatus from the world of media but here is a flash animation made by the teen shooter in Minnesota that the old geezer from Dublin talked about. Don’t click if you want to maintain the high moral ground.

This is a brilliant article from Slate with a great video attached.

Finally, this link coming up here, involves nudity. I have never done this on Zoomtard before but I feel it important to share with you what we pass off as sex symbols in today’s society. Maybe I’m just all sensitive like a little girly girl having seen Christian Bale play an anoerexic dude in The Machinist but judging from the papparazzi photos, Mischa naked would be a terrifying and not at all sexy prospect.
Nudie Bits

The picture initially came from this site via Fark.com.

Your Correspondent, A Good Member of Large Crowds

Things Culchies love: Pretending to enjoy Holy Week

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

I am off work for the next 7 days. Yay! Allegedly, because I am a big fat Christian, I could write to the UN if my boss tried to stop me from taking a break during this, the most important Christian festival of the year. But fortunately for Kofi Annan’s inbox, I work for Christians who are all downing tools at some stage during the week and making time to contemplate on the bunny rabbits around the Cross.

Seriously, without ripping off Eddie Izzard, what is the story with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs? Are eggs meant to represent rebirth? ‘Cos if they do, I grade the marketing idiot who made that one up with a big fat F. Where F is for fuckwit. I think Izzard decided that the cross was brown-> chocolate is brown + eggs represent birth -> birth is like rebirth = Easter Eggs! Whether he did or whether my embellishing imagination is funnier than I am, the fact remains, Easter as a holiday sucks the big one. Why go for little yellow baby chickens when you can have the rivaling excellence of firecrackers and guys dressing up as girls like at Hallowe’en?

Everyone, all around the wide world, could theoretically become Christian for the week and then claim this time off from work. This new and slightly more preposterous (if that is even possible) version of Pascal’s Wager could make me into a famous analyst on God TV (a station I have still never watched a program on and only hear about through the mouths of fundies and their secular equivalent, the mockers who pass cynicism off as a religion– I enjoy both groups equally). It would work everywhere in the world except France. My good friend informed me last night that in France, during Holy Week, work is obligatory. Everyone has to do it. If they are going to be a secular nation, they can’t have people left with enough time to consider the beauty of creation or the treasure that is a little baby’s chubby wrist or any of the other things that are meant to prove the existence of God. So in France, this week, everyone, even the kids, are working. The children go to school from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon and then get sent to a sweatshop where they make berets and park benches shaped to be particularly comfortable to secular humanists. So no Easter in France land. The benefit of that of course is that there are no French people reading my site this week so I could be very rude and stereotype them based on their nationality. Even though that is one of my favourite hobbies, I will resist. I gave up racism and soap operas for lent.

I don’t really love Holy Week although some people might accuse me of being a culchie because the view from my back garden looks like this:
backgarden.jpg

I am not however a culchie. I don’t like Holy Week. I do like not working though. Especially since I spent the last 6 million days with 85 students at a conference in an idyllic mountain retreat. We talked about conflict and resolution and we stayed up till 2.30am playing basketball while it rained spoilsportingly. It was great and very long and tiring and draining and stressful and so I have spent today sitting at my kitchen table murmuring to myself and thinking that Bono can really write profound lyrics. I am coming back to my senses now though and I think I will spend tonight ringing the numbers in the phonebooks of people who have the same name as prominent TDs but who aren’t actually the said TD. It will, I hope, bring a touch of the surreal into their evening that they won’t soon forget.

At the conference, some Northern Irish students got up to shenanigans involving a slingshot thingy, a hidden position 200 metres away from the conference centre, some water balloons and 40 twenty year old girls sitting out on the verandas in Saturday’s delighful sunshine. Not only were they jarred out of their conversation about the theology of make-up by the noise of fast moving projectiles breaking on the windows behind them, they also were confused as to where it was all coming from. I congratulate the malarkey and strongly encourage Zoomtard readers to follow in their footsteps and engage in some form of mischief today.

The Pritzker Prize (see your tabloid call it “The Nobel Prize for Architecture“) was announced today and Thom Mayne won. I wonder if he’d be interested in a commission for my new games bunker? I hope to dig up my landlord’s backgarden and replace it with an underground shelter in which I can play Articulate! and table tennis in the cold nuclear winter we all inevitably face when North Korea decides to post one of its futile weapons to the Minister of Transport.

I have nothing important to say here. Maybe I should have told you that at the start. Where by important is a relative term of course. I almost slipped into thinking that the crap I write up here was of importance to someone other than Johnny Depp, who subscribes to my RSS feed.

Anyway, I have to go do some things. Tonight I am going out to some loser bar with some gimpos from my Book Circle (where the book is the Bible and the circle is a study group) but first I have to finish my designs for a levitating train and then sell it to China.

Your Correspondent, Doing the best he can with his red guitar, three chords and the Blues.

All About The Beekeeper

Monday, March 14th, 2005

It was World Women’s Day last week and everyone’s favourite Coco Chanel sunglasses owning blogger, CaoimheB, decided to go all John Stuart Mills and act feminist for a while. I enjoyed it. Of course I did, because I love World Women’s Day. I wish every day was World Women’s Day. Ever since I learnt how not to confuse the words “lesbian” and “feminist”, I have had a voracious appetite for all things equalitarian. Maybe the word I should have used in that last sentence was egalitarian but I am not sure enough to put it in there. Criticisms of my vocabulary can be made through comments.

Still, the 24 hours of utopian saphhic respect that was last Tuesday (well, one of those days- the day where everything worked well) passed by and we are back in a world where J-Lo is regarded as an ideal for women to reach to and the place where most power is invested in females worldwide is in domestic purchases (80% of household items are bought by women). It is the staggering weight of history as a synonym for patriarchy that makes me a big fat, heart on my sleeve, every area of life feminist. I’m not just interested in the books written by hottie feminists like Naomi Wolf. Ddmmyy is like that. He is a feminist for the chicks.

Next year, someone warn me in advance (I hardly ever read the mail from SapphicDomination.org which I presume is some feminist lobby group neuro supports) that World Women’s Day is coming and I will assemble my famous argument that Jesus was the first feminist. Its famous in that I think it is really convincing. But seeing as I missed it this year, here is a deadly link that I got emailed on the Day The Ladies Ruled.

Fetishising Pixels
Continuing on the feminist theme, I thought I would write a little bit about a matter that isn’t really very close to my heart: porn. Like every guy (and most girls) I have ever talked to about it, I enjoy porn. But unlike most guys I know, I was exposed to feminism from articles and books I found lying around my house and one of the common discussions was whether porn was a barrier to the feminist ideal of equality. I am 23, so this was back in the day when the web existed out there somewhere but the average person didn’t even know that email was possible, never mind know how to nick cheap music through a legal loophole in Russia. I was also, as a result of the kind of people I share a family with, online. As such, I could tentatively investiage these debates I was reading first hand by typing “sex” into yahoo. Back then, back when I was an annoying and pretentious atheistic socialist, I decided that porn, while obviously attractive in its own way, was ultimately a bad thing.

Now, as a slightly more annoying and pretentious Christian I have lots more reasons to think that porn is wrong. The Christian in me says that sex between two people is much too cool to dilute by removing the people from the equation. The socialist left in me says that our bodies (and almost universally the bodies of people with very strong socio-economic disadvantage) shouldn’t be commodified. On a doubt-filled day, the atheist in me would argue from personal experience and say that the one of the best definitions of porn; anything which becomes very uninteresting after orgasm, reveals the very empty promise of “adult sites”.

Yet if you strip away the moral argument, the Christian argument (those two things are (and always are) very different- I’ll talk about that some other day), the socialist argument, the subjective personal argument, the feminist argument or whatever other argument you can find and dismantle, the fundamental reason I try to resist porn is that it is a bad habit. Let me quote my feminist friend Naomi Wolf,

“After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.”

Porn isn’t the worst thing in the world. Well, it certainly isn’t if you are not involved in actually producing it. But I still don’t think that makes it positive or even neutral. Whether my best friend agrees as his battle reaches its mid-way point, I don’t know. I certainly don’t think banning or anything along those lines is appropriate and I need to point that out. That having been said, I personally, for a range of reasons, try to fight the temptation to retreat into pixels as a no-emotions-attached alternative to a real person.

The best response to the habit-forming negativity of porn is, co-incidentally, from some very excellent Christian guys. XXXChurch.com The rest of Ms. Wolf’s argument can be found here.

The Sane Christian’s Dilemma
As you are probably are aware, I really like Jesus. I like him more and in a very different way than a teenaged girl likes Orlando Bloom. But sometimes I really dislike Christianity as a religion. I dislike the crazy “God whispers in my ears and tells me personally that he thinks I should be allowed to own semi automatic weapons” fundies I end up writing about alot on zoomtard and I really dislike the “all religions lead to God I don’t want to offend anyone so I will stand for nothing, especially Jesus” guys I end up writing about alot on zoomtard.

Yet today I want to bring you two especially depressing images from the 1st Fundie School For Depressing Obstinate Ignorance. The first comes from Jack Chick, the bile-filled sectarian cartoonist. I won’t link to him because he angers me too much. But he produced this recently:
chick_evolution.gif
Man, that argument really convinces me. Thanks for that Jackie.

The second is a crazy hallucinogenic wing of theology called dispensationalism. This school of thought popped out people’s heads in the 1700s and it basically says that God has split history in sections and in each of these sections there is a different meaning of life. The bad news is that we are in the last couple of years before the final judgement folks so you only have 28 years before the meaning of life changes. Here is the diagram so you can study it and make sure you aren’t caught out.

Zoomtard in the key of Mimi
Alongside my Christian squareness, one of the recurring themes in Zoomtard is how much I think Mimi Smartypants rocks and that her website is the most consistently funny I’ve ever come across (though neuro and Ddmmyy needs mentioning). Over the weekend, I got to spend lots of time with my delightful junior family member and therefore I get to join defective yeti and Heather B. Armstrong and mimi and Ian’s favourite, Mrs. Kennedy, in the world of blogs about kids.

I would like to be a father to some incredibly lazy and fussy and bored and self-obbsessed 12 year old some day but not yet.

FionnAlco.jpg

“7 month olds should not be drinking” was all his parents could say. They weren’t even appreciative of the expense involved in trying to cultivate the kid’s palette early in life. They should be thanking me in advance for the ditch drinking days. Its hard to be satisfied with 4 cans of Bavaria if you were raised on Moet and Bollinger.

Your Correspondent, A Hyundai enthusiast

Dance off at Rainbow Bridge

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

I went into the capital city of our fine Republic yesterday and found myself in Urban Outfitters with my wife, laughing at the irony of the commodification of Ché Guevara. If you have never visited this particular centre for narcissistic consumption in Temple Bar or if you aren’t at all familiar with the store because you are from a foreign loser country like Finland or Benin, then let me describe the 3 floors of fashionable plastic homeware and polyester cuttings passed off as clothes that is Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters is the kind of shop that sells books for people so wealthy, they pay someone to have a concentration span for them. We bought a birthday card that cost €45.69.

I am engaged in a battle to the death with neuro-praxis over a little issue called theology. For some reason, in recent weeks, she has demanded that all theological conversation should take place either in German or in cartoon form.
theology-buffs.jpg
Battles to the death can be so boring because they can go on for the rest of your life. Thankfully for neuro’s sake, I shall win this battle and so it will never have a chance to get boring… at least until Embee’s eulogy enters its third simpering hour of empty platitudes.

Aside from threatening to kill my wife online and buying cards made out of Frank Zappa’s bodily fluids, I have spent most of this week writing stuff for students. I have a pleasant job.

The best way to come up with things to write about in Zoomtard is the comments section. This week, two real people, Stig and Bonzo, wanted me to write about Million Dollar Baby. That is a pleasant change from the older type of comments I used to get which always wanted me to buy different types of aphrodisiac or play poker online or read “sex stories man wife daughter india”.

According to the boffins at the Academy, Million Dollar Baby was the best movie of last year. Now we all know that is not the case. St. Charles Kaufman’s amazing ESSM was the movie above all other movies. I love it and watch it often. Also, why was the Station Agent not nominated?

The blatant shithawkedness of the Oscars this year is proven by the way that the Passion was pretty much ignored. Whatever your views on Christianity, Gibson or even your enjoyment of the movie, it can’t be argued that it isn’t a masterful artistic piece. It is visually and aurally striking (most movies made by Catholics are nothing more than 60 seconds of paintings of Mary backed up by some bells). It is astonishingly cohesive and gripping considering the subject matter (remember that the last big religious epic was the worst movie ever made). It is daring in the elements of its presentation (most movies in Aramaic are sit-coms grown long). Most notably, in terms of its single-minded focus on its goal, the Passion was a movie that came closer to art than I’ve seen since the late 80’s.

Instead of having the best movies nominated for the Best Movie Oscar, they decided to nominate the most recent movies. Ray was nothing but an hour and a half long impersonation. Remember when Johnny Cash died it became all cool to like Johnny Cash and lots of people jumped on a bandwagon that Jennifer Knapp rightly owned? Well, that is now going to happen with Ray and the Academy are the first Johnny-come-lately hopalongs. Sideways is a movie targeted at film critics as cleverly as the Passion was targeted at Christians. Christians really want to be like the Christ. Borderline alcoholic film critics desperately want to be regarded as wine buffs and score with chicks in a way higher league than them. Finding Neverland as a best movie nomination is simply inexplicable. When the Incredibles isn’t nominated but this piece of fluffy cock is, Apocalypse is just around the corner. Get the Johnny Cash songs ready. Aviator was, it seems the best movie nominated.

But Million Dollar Baby won. It is a movie about boxing. And relationships. And it uses the punching as a metaphor for the difficulty of relationships and how it hurts man, it hurts. But its worth it. If you haven’t seen the movie and would like to, stop reading now. Read this instead. If you are a Christian nerd, read this too.

Clint Eastwood plays a psychotic boxing coach who has killed fourteen previous charges by leaving knives, or bear-traps or stools in the ring so their boxer-slave can fall upon them and perish. For some reason, an angel played by Morgan Freeman (who is the actor of choice for saintly, humble roles) lives in a cupboard and tries to get him to finally do good by a student. The first half of the movie has Clint doing a Mr. Miyagi on Hilary Swank’s character. Then in the 2nd half of the movie, his evil side gets the better of him and he arranges for a prostitute NAZI to put his trailer-trash protogé out of business. The boxing business that is. PERMANANTLY. The relationship flounders and she dies and the metaphor leads us to believe that boxing is worthless. Also, there is nothing wrong with the youth in Asia.

Hilary Swank won an Oscar. This is because she had to do preparatory work for the film by body-building and such like. The Oscar can never be given to an actor for a role that didn’t require craft, where craft means preparation. The exception that proves the rule is Jamie Foxx’s impersonation of Ray. She began her speech with “What a surprise!” You are fooling no one, Swanker. No one can have won 2 Oscars and starred in The Next Karate Kid without selling their soul to Satan who faxes her the future in bullet points at the start of every month. She only took this role to reminisce about the good old days of Sgt. Kesuke Miyagi but it has done good by her, what with Success and Victory being taken out of Reneé’s house, loaded onto a truck and delivered to her front door.

Basically, Million Dollar Baby is a movie about an issue that suits the profile of voters in the Academy. Therefore, it won. And the cast of Aviator and Martin Scorsese can give up any hopes of being acknowledged and start planning for their back-up careers as opticians or chemical engineers. That Scorsese hasn’t got the chops to make it in the cut and thrust world of Hollywood. And it doesn’t matter if Million Dollar Baby was a rush job in 37 days, it was destined to win because it looked favourably on a character with mental disability.

Hilary Swank though, is hot. Also, she was in the Core, possibly the worst movie to not have John Travolta in it. Ever.

In truth, I loved Million Dollar Baby and it gave me a whole new understanding of the issue, perhaps because it jumped up on me by surprise. I thought I was going to see Rocky XV: A Girl Rocky.

One thing I hate though, is political canvassing outside churches in the run-up to an election. We’re having an election in my area next week (which Ddmmyy. has written about hilariously) and they were all hanging outside the RC Church today. Of course they weren’t around with us because we are Protestants and I guess all Protestants vote in England or something. Should I ever end up the minister in a church, force me to stand by this threat: if anyone tries to politic at the gates of my building I will chase them away and put up a sign detailing Jesus getting all medieval in the Temple when the House of God got turned into a convienient den of worldly affairs and a threat that anyone who tries to disobey Rev. Hardass Zoomtard will be publicly beaten from my pulpit the next week. Hold me to it, my Internets.

I have to go continue my running battle with neuro. She has made me pasta with a fairy liquid sauce. It will be delicious, soft and deadly!

Your Correspondent, Eagerly anticipating the return of West Coast Rap.