Archive for October, 2008

War verse

October 31, 2008

It’s Halloween but I have no Halloween poems for my category called bad poetry; and what a good thing that is since a combination of zombies and my clunky free verse would be just too much.

Below are two strings of words that came up when I was thinking about the thing called War, and then remembered a story called War Prayer.

(The ur-reason for this considering was the excellent Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, whose lyrics often turn around the subject of war; see for example “The Price of a Mile“, which is about the horror of Passchendaele. My views are a bit more bitter than theirs, especially when I have one of my misanthropic fits; read and see.)

My war prayer
If I believed in God
I would cry a war prayer
One to end all such demands —
I would ask for success in all wars
And new wars for all places and climes
For slaughter, depopulation, rout,
Dehousing the workers, living space,
Fight to the last and nuclear fire;
For man’s fire on man, woman and child —
No resurrection, no cessation, no survival,
Just fire until the extinction of the human race.
Others make war prayers too;
Mine is just more complete.

And the other one — since I have no better titles, let this be Chaplain Assured Destruction.

A prayer was said, loud and clear
For an army’s success in war
For its enemies to be destroyed
The same prayer rose, from both sides of the war
And in a pique God heard them both,
Did as asked, and now there is a peace —
The peace of the grave on both sides.

Also: NaNoWriMo starts in just a couple of hours! If my posting is sparse for a while, that’s the reason.

God vs. the financial crisis!

October 31, 2008

A new post for my category of weird religion, containing diverse mummeries and mockings of religious things and figures. Today: God versus the Financial Crisis!

* * *

God, the omnipotent creator Himself, is looking down at the world with His trusty main angel aide by his side. Things are going badly in the world of men: a financial crisis looms, wars and famines spread, and American Idol refuses to die.

God: Hmm. I’ve heard people are hungry down there, angel.

Angel: Indeed it is so.

G: Famine… ha, I know. There’ll be enough food if there are less people. I will smite —

A: Lord, you promised you wouldn’t do that again.

G: Did I?

A: The whole Flood thing. And they happened to get it in writing, too.

G: Oh, that little… My next coming will take that back. I swear he-I will. Well, how about this finance stuff, then? This must be easier. I’ll make it rain gold coins for forty —

A: That might not work.

G: What? Why? (more…)

Deadache is out!

October 29, 2008

My favorite band, the Finnish hard rock/heavy metal monsters Lordi, got their fourth album, Deadache, out today.

I think it’s pretty good, but it’s too early to say anything definite yet. Lordi songs, like some thing out of a horror movie, tend to grow on you. I already have three that I’m willing to classify as “very very good”,  but the others will start unfolding soon, I think. And as the black tentacles of rock creep in my ears for a day or two, my will to dislike any track will no doubt be gone… and forgotten. (Insert creepy organ music here.)

And, since I have nothing else, here’s a picture of me wearing a cardboard mask that came with the digipak version of the CD.

MasksOfEris in the Deadache Mask

(Confession time: I did a bit of retouching on the image — the eyeholes a bit snugger, and the upper edge a little more raggedy. That doesn’t count as cheating because my bloody hatchet-job was so badly done it’s well visible even in this tinyfied pic. And the hair? Well, that’s my own, so if you think it looks digitally horrified, uh, it ain’t.)

Oh, and your roommate can be a bit shocked when you walk out of the bathroom (well, I needed a mirror) looking like this.

Hey, in Finland you need a shock now and then to keep your blood from freezing, right?

(For more Lordi, Youtube has the video of “Bite It Like A Bulldog”, the first single.)

All-time yule

October 28, 2008

This happened today: I went shopping, and saw a shiny gold-and-brown magazine on a rack near the checkout. The magazine’s name? Kaikkien aikojen joulu, or something like “The Best Christmas Ever!”

Oh, the irritating cutesiness has once again began.

The only reason I didn’t have an eyes-turn-red event there and then was the accidentally apt name of the one-off magazine — you see, the words Kaikkien aikojen joulu can be, if one is a literal sort of fella, read as “A Christmas of All Times”, which fits this too-early date very well.

Also, there rack read Osta nyt, or “Buy now!”, which, too, seemed to me like a subtle dig at the date.

So, on with the glow-proboscised reindeer, the fat stalker in red, the stress of choices and the depression of wasted money and the ungrateful children: let the secular games of Solstice, spiced with fragments of meaningless legends, begin!

(My reaction to things like this is to buy a tinfoil-covered chocolate Santa and eat it, the head first, then gnawing off the arms, then gulping down the torso, and then crushing the legs between my mandible and maxilla. Then, with that curious afterglow of semi-cannibalism flowing through me, I usually wonder: If edible Santas are okay, why aren’t there any chocolate baby Christs? Or pregnant Mary popsicles?)

Sleep is important

October 27, 2008

Attending a seminar, or any lecture-like sitting activity, is hard once you’ve gone all graduate student-y and calculates alone in room-y and let go of that old mental steel, that perverse bloodymindedness which let you sit up sharp at 8 o’clock every morning in your hazy undergraduate days, just for the joy of hearing the others’ tired moans and snores of suffering.

(Snores of suffering? Oy vey.)

Or maybe five hours of sleep are the explanation; why am I never sleepy when I should lay my head down, and always sandman-stricken when I should get up? One of the ineffable mysteries of life, maybe?

Tangentially related professorial quote for the week, from the very same seminar of today:

“I am probably the world master in sleeping.”

The elections are done

October 27, 2008

The municipal elections here in Finland, that is.

Around 61% of those eligible to vote did so. Seeing the results, I actually hope that the percentage could have been even lower, as many braved the rain and cold to vote for all kinds of yahoos.

In my dream-world assemblymen would be people with real knowledge — maybe university professors, maybe municipal bureaucrats, maybe people with administrative experience from other fields, like teachers and businessmen.

Not models.

Not footballers.

Not ex-reality show falling stars.

Aaargh. (more…)

Finland: a peculiar place

October 26, 2008

Finland is a peculiar place.

That may be because of history. If you count the beginning of civilization from the point when wealthy people started wearing cloth skullcaps instead of the skulls and entrails of last week’s ceremonial reindeer sacrifices, then civilization came to Finland only something like one thousand years ago.

Uh, Americans? This means, here in Europe: very, very recently. Even you Americans have your history, thousands of years, back to Merrie Ole Englande, or Germany, or Ur in the Land of Two Rivers, or wherever you’re from; but Finland’s history goes back one thousand written years and then disappears into the forests with a snatch of song and a hint of old fears, to a land without writing and without memory.

Still, those one thousand years of history haven’t been entirely uneventful: Finland has been sitting on the edge of Europe, observing and feeling a bit envious, generally ignored by everyone else.

We have sat by our tens of thousands of lakes, under the branches of the birch and the fir that reach uninterrupted every which way; we’ve squatted on places where the thin soil has been scraped away by long-gone glaciers to reveal undulations that were mountains when the very planet Earth was young; we’ve been of all Earth’s children the only ones aware of the oppressive weight of the ages, of the long, slow aeons before man, before writing, before speech, before memory — and we’ve watched you southern people, not really understanding what all that fuss about empires and ideologies was about.

Why worry about a king? In a century he will be dust. A few more and his line will be broken and forgotten. Cities will burn, churches will crumble; nothing but the cold stone and the whispering forests will remain, and they are no man’s memorial, no god’s sign.

Indeed, why bother with gods, or a God? Storms do not care about the piping of men; the darkness between and under firs does not move by our or your command; the lights that dance in winter skies do not hear hymns or prayers. If there are gods, they are as cold and as distant as the midwinter stars.

Crowns and colorful clothes and merriment — again, why bother? The ugliest of swords will kill a king no matter how proud his crown; clothes, no matter how silken and soft, are just a cover against the cold, just a shroud between you and the uncaring world — why attract the world’s evil by embroidering that shroud with your hopes and dreams? Better keep them inside, a hidden ring of iron binding your spirit and sanity together.

And why be happy? With seasons the innocence of childhood will sour, the strength of youth wane, the wisdom of age fade into dotage and dementia. All one can do is scream impotent rage at the uncaring thief-fingers of time, at the random and merciless vicissitudes of fate — frost, famine, war, plague, beasts, men, madness and all the other evils that crawl out of the navel of the world to bite apart the brief joys of the living.

Better keep one’s lamp covered and burning low, since otherwise cold winds will blow it out, wolves will be attracted by its light, it will die because after one’s portion is used, there is nothing to burn. Better to fight the slow defeat against time and entropy without pride, without hope, without smile; just a wordless war cry to show that when all is ash and dust behind and ash and dust before, there is no fear and no hesitation, just the awful glory of the slow defeat called life.

And eventually Death will come, a red sword of death darting from his mouth, his withered hands reaching for yours, his cold eyes knowing where you hide, his voice promising only oblivion, a return into the time before speech and before memory.

Finland is a place where thoughts like this seem natural.

* * *

I don’t know where these pseudo-poetic fits come from, but I enjoy writing pieces like this. I hope the mood says something of Finland, of melancholy and futile tenacity, even if some details might be a bit askew.

And you have no idea just how aggrevating it is to get fits like this and know that I can’t bend my Finnish to say these things, and English, while it forms itself to my wishes, will inevitably have many elementary errors of preposition and article, things that kill whatever little grace the text has.

Ah well, you’re not here to hear me complain, and I’m not here to complain either. Have a good day.

Oh, and if you want to know more about Finland, read the Guide. I’d recommend it, but self-praise is something I can’t do.

More on Rule 34

October 25, 2008

(This is a bit less lofty continuation of the previous post.)

Consider the following:

  • Hello Kitty
  • watermelons
  • clowns
  • Muppets
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Peanuts (the comic characters)
  • (oh, every other comic and cartoon, too.)
  • Jamie and Adam of Mythbusters
  • The Death Star and a Star Destroyer from Star Wars
  • An anthropomorphic can of Mountain Dew
  • George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
  • Lady Justice and the Statue of Liberty
  • Jesus and Judas
  • the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Think a few thoughts about them, if you have the time. Picture, in your mind’s eye, some situation involving the likenesses of ol’ George and Abe, or one where a watermelon plays a central role, and so on.

Now, a question: was any of those images of yours of sexual nature?

If not, you may now rest uneasily knowing that such drawn pictures exist for all the items listed above, and for many others. So do stories. Maybe even cosplaying. The awful and glorious Rule 34 reigns — there is sexual material about everything — and if you happen to find a loophole, it will very soon be plugged by something unspeakable.

There’s nothing more beautiful, in its own unique way, than the traces of imagination free of shame, and the results of someone saying “Wait, has anyone thought of this before?”

Turn the safe search off and go Google for “Rule 34“. You’ll never look at the world quite the same way; and despite the need to gouge your eyeballs out with chopsticks that’s a precious thing and worth going after.

Internet means freedom to be yourself

October 24, 2008

Internet is a wonderful place.

It is also a pain in the butt to write, since depending on where you look it’s either “Internet”, “internet”, “the internet” or “the Internet”. Since that fits my mood, I’m going to treat it like a place name (like “Sweden”) for now.

It is a new world: a place where a combination of badly spelled utterances and an animal picture is a form of humor and art, and definitely an acquired taste. A place where memes thrive, irritating some, amusing and informing those that have the taste for them.

Internet is a place, indeed it is, a place for Rule 34: There is material of sexual nature about everything. And, thanks to Google and the tendency of people to boast about the unusual things they’ve found, such material is easy to find. Almost too easy.

And then, dead inside, one can’t look at Hello Kitty quite the same way ever again.

(Since you maybe don’t understand the full awful glory of Rule 34: think G. Washington, A. Lincoln and an image depicting explicit homosexual activity. The Rule covers everything.)

And, best of all, Internet is a place where one can be completely devoid of good taste. And this is good not just because it happens to amuse me, but because good taste isn’t a law, or a rule of nature or a divine command: no, what we call “good taste” is just a preference — some people choose to refrain from poo-poo talk and open display of genitalia, and if they are sufficiently many, their personal preference and squeamishness becomes “good taste”. Nothing more than individual choices are involved in setting that slowly changing preference, that cultural set of blinkers. And if there aren’t enough alternatives to that preference, it will bind us, box us, rule us, and in the end destroy us all, like any blinkers will.

Can you be foul, crude, insulting and tasteless on TV? Or radio? Or the papers? Or just out there on a streetcorner? A bit, maybe, but not as much as you might want to. Consider timid overseers and disapproving editors, censors, lack of space, threats of lawsuits, doubts about interest and audience, leery advertisers, the possibility of getting your hindparts kicked or your nose broken, leers, sneers, jeers and even the silly ideas some have about their reputations as solid and stolid common citizens.

But Internet, where the only name you have is the one you take for yourself, where the only character you have is the one you build for yourself — well, Internet is a place of no gods and no masters. It is a lucky mistake, either a step in a good direction, or then just the foot of order sidestepping for a moment before it rises, again, to the groin of liberty. Internet is the best vehicle for free speech and communication of ideas we poor flesh-beings have come up with so far, and it is a delicious hint of what we can achieve.

Or that is my justification if anyone asks me about those pictures of the statues of Justice and Liberty engaging in heavy woman-on-woman action. Cough cough.

You can go now.

Atheist bus!

October 21, 2008

Interesting: There’s a campaign in the UK to buy atheist marketing spots on buses — Guardian tells the story, and the campaign has a website.

The proposed slogan is this: “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

My prediction is that the best thing out of this campaign won’t be from the ads themselves — no, I think the greatest PR boost for the fight against silly superstition is going to be the frothing, spittle-spewing, screaming response of the religious wackaloons that will protest this all. Their screams of “insensitive and ‘orrible! How dare those people show their perversions in public!” and “blasphemy and secular evil! This is worse than the Holocaust! This caused my dog to die! And baby Jesus to cry!” and “But won’t anyone think of the children!” will make many think about religion — and, like Richard Hammer-of-Reason Dawkins said, thinking is anathema to religion.

Maybe some sect will boycott the buses, and take alternative routes, suffer much bebotherment and feel tremendously pissed — ah well, then there’ll be more room in the actual bus. Win and win all around!

I won’t be surprised if some minor pastor with delusions of intelligence deduces that this is just a plot to get the buses moving on arcs that inscribe the ancient rune of a Forgotten God X — which then clearly is Satan — across the tender underbelly of unsuspecting London, unleashing the Hell itself and the End of Days!

Or maybe just causing the pavements to crack, the youth be unruly, and abortion clinics spring up rampant and without the proper Christian sense of self-loathing and longing for suffering.

Since I’m not in London or anywhere nearby, and don’t have the necessary tech savvy to donate across borders, I can only contribute a few slogans that I’d like to see on an atheist bus somewhere — mostly because the smell of frying religious brains would so brighten up my day.

  • “By Christian dogma, Anne Frank is burning in Hell. Jesus is Love!”
  • “Ask your local Muslim about the punishment for apostasy.”
  • “Stalin didn’t put anyone in the gulag. It was their own pride that did it. God doesn’t put anyone in Hell either.”
  • “God loves the world — witness earthquakes, tsunamis, parasites, famine, slavery and rape.”
  • “All religions share one common feature — namely, that every other religion is false and wicked. (They’re all right, by the way.)”
  • “Exodus 22:18 — Let’s remember Biblical values when we make laws!”
  • “Elijah is dead. Jesus is dead. Mohammed is dead. The only people that can help you are those around you.”
  • “Do you happen to remember the last time a country went to war with the phrase ‘Gott mit uns’?”
  • “Remember the day you realized there’s no Santa? Isn’t it about time you had that kind of a day about God, too?”
  • “Prayer: how to do nothing and still feel good about it.”
  • “I cut off a part of my child’s genitals because hundreds of years ago a man heard a voice in his head — do you really want to hear the rest of it?”
  • “Does God speak to you? Consider medication.”
  • “Your God, your business. Just keep your children out of it.”
  • “Read the Bible. It’s the easiest way to become an atheist.”
  • “Atheism: The idea that this world is all we have, and we ought to love it.”
  • “Love your fellow man and your own self. Do good deeds. Enjoy life. Believe in a better tomorrow. Oh, and screw God.”

Mind you, if any of these was implemented, there would be buses burnt and howlings to be heard for miles and miles. I don’t have the necessary polite mindset for this kind of a thing…

Edit: a few more.

  • Christianity says love God over all else. Humanism says love your fellow man over all else. It’s your choice, friend.
  • Religion is a private matter. Let’s keep it that way.
  • “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.” (That man was such a dick.)
  • Not only is there no God, but most Christians don’t even believe in Him anyway.
  • Atheists — they’re coming to your schools and making your children think!
  • So you say God made the world? Could you ask him to include a few less earthquakes and intestine-eating parasites the next time?