November 26, 2007

"Look, Moses… I can't make it any simpler."

Category: History — Cranky @

In the Old Testament there comes a time when Moses ascends Mount Sinai and God lays down the law, so to speak. Ten Commandments, on two stones, spell out the rules by which man is to live. Whether you believe in the story or not, rules five through ten are undoubtedly good rules to live by. Honour thy father and mother, don’t kill, avoid infidelity, don’t steal, don’t lie about other people, and don’t lust after somebody else’s stuff.

Buried in those excellent rules is, “Thou shall not kill.” That commandment is very direct and simple, and of course it has been mostly ignored since then, even by those tasked with upholding these laws. I don’t know how that law could possibly have gotten missed – it’s prominently displayed right there with only nine other serious commands – and since then that law has been broken over and over in the name of God.

The United States is a Christian nation. We are reminded of that fact repeatedly by politicians, preachers and the media. While the constitution has language in it that has been interpreted as requiring a separation of church and state, the reality is quite different. They may be separated, but they’re certainly still seeing each other. At the very least they are “friends with benefits”. Even U.S. currency contains a declaration of faith, which is somewhat ironic given the fact that murder for wealth gives murder for religion a run for its money.

So why, given the basic Christian slant of the people and their government, is the United States still a country that allows the death penalty? When somebody is executed through capital punishment, the deed is performed in direct defiance of that commandment. The United States is saying, “These rules are mostly fine, but I think we’re just going to ignore rule #6. We’ll make up our own mind.” It’s undeniable hypocrisy.

“In God We Trust”, indeed. Capital Punishment is the U.S. giving God the finger.


November 21, 2007

40 Days and 40 Nights? Touché…

Category: Current Events — Cranky @

Ordinarily I am a glass-half-full fellow, and I think that nearly any problem can be fixed, but when I think of the problems in the Darfur region of Sudan, I become very negative. The complete failure of the world to deal with the problem makes me think that there is no solution. The United Nations has been revealed as a joke – a paper tiger, nothing more. Even the Canadian contribution of the doctrine of “responsibility to act” has vanished without a trace. The estimated number of deaths is between 300,000 and 500,000 depending who you ask – unless you ask the Sudanese government, in which case the number is under 10,000.

In the story of Noah’s Ark, God is so displeased with the world that he decides the problems are unfixable. Like any good engineer who realizes that the basic blueprint is fatally flawed, he starts over. That’s the choice of a pragmatist rather than an all-loving deity, but it’s also the choice that I would respect.

It occurs to me that the maybe the best choice would be to bomb Khartoum, eradicate the government, and drive from one end of the country to the other shooting every single person who has a gun, every person you think might have a gun, and every person who seems to be doing well. Then see who takes up the reins. If they begin down the wrong path, shoot them too. You can’t possibly make things worse for the millions displaced by the genocide, but at least then you could send in humanitarian aid without fear of having your workers raped and killed.

The problem is that the world can’t seem to agree on a reasonable course of action, even in a case so universally abhorrent as that of the genocide in Sudan. If action is to be taken, it must be taken without the permission of the security council. Some country or some coalition of countries must take control of the situation, and beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.

Borders are not permanent. A country does not have an inherent right to exist – it exists by agreement with those around them. If the Sudanese government remains intransigent, their country should be taken away. This opinion is not one I’ve come to easily. I don’t believe that my moral code is universal. I believe in allowing other cultures to be different, even when those differences are uncomfortable.

Sometimes, though, I believe that in order for the world at large to continue in a positive direction, a group or a country will simply have to be destroyed. Replacing one act of genocide with another is a dangerous precedent, though, and it could be turned against us. It’s a last resort. But what other choice is there? Diplomatic measures have failed so completely that they might as well have never existed. Mia Farrow, an introverted actress turned crusader, has had more impact on policy decisions regarding Sudan than all the acts, speeches and decisions made by the United Nations since the problem became apparent.

I totally understand the Biblical Flood. Sometimes the solution is to clean the slate and start over.


November 15, 2007

Good grief… is it morning already?

Category: Life — Cranky @

Last night I decided that I would go to bed a bit earlier than usual. For me, earlier than usual is 11:00 p.m.. Now I’m sure there are lots of mentally crippled nutbars out there that think mornings are a good thing, but I say, “Fie on your unreasonable early risings!” I’ll get more done between 10:00 and 11:30 p.m. than you get done in your whole wretched, unhappy day.

Anyway, I’m headed off to bed and I see my guitars sitting nicely in their stand. I had a melody running through my head all day, and I figured I’d just take a few minutes to play it and jot it down. So I picked up my G-400, and prepared to play. I bought that guitar last year, and there’s no subtlety to it. It has big, chunky frets, thin strings, classic humbucker pickups, and a jet-black gothic motif. This guitar does one thing – thick, grungy, heavy rock – and it does it very well. I dialed in a British classic amp with some hefty gain, threw in a dash of chorus and more than a modicum of reverb, and I began to play.

I feel sorry for the owners of the local jazz club that’s about 12 blocks away. The musicianship must have surely gone downhill, because I absorbed all of the available groove for at least three kilometres in any direction. I was on FIRE.  I played continuously and fluidly, and when I was finally done I was in for a shock. The clock read 2:30 a.m..

I’m tired today, but man, it was SO worth it. When the muse descends, one can only succumb. Only too late did I realize that I should have recorded the session – there was a lot of improvisation in it that I’ll struggle to reproduce.

When you’re hot, you’re hot, and I was dangerously close to spontaneous combustion.

Life is good.