Thursday, 28 April 2011

Come on. Grow up.

Christopher Hitchens once described George Bush as, “unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

It seems to me that Hitchens is being far too narrow in his condemnation. Virtually every time I keep an eye of what goes on over the Atlantic, I become increasingly confident to extend this description to the vast majority of Republicans (and, by default, all Tea Party members, who have somehow achieved the unachievable of becoming substantially more abhorrent than the Republicans).

The White House today released further proof of the Barack Obama’s place of birth, and the President himself then made a disheartened plea for the Americans to grow up and stop being so pathetic.

Only two days ago, Obama was accused of being, “a terrible student”, and the question, “How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" was posed. The President was then asked to, “show his records,” – in a request that sounds oddly familiar and will undoubtedly end in further right-wing embarrassment.

Of course, every country possesses utter morons who constantly spew out nonsense based on no evidence. But these remarks, dripping with slimy racism at every turn, were not actually uttered by a semi-conscious, illiterate oaf drunkenly mumbling allegations from a ditch. They were made by Donald Trump, the potential future President.

Trump will certainly say that he’s not a racist, but he is. There is no way getting around it. His constant requests for Obama to produce proof of identity are shamefully reminiscent of the days of Jim Crow and the supposition that African Americans somehow have less right to their place in society. Under the surface of Trump's recent comments is the implicit suggestion that Obama must have something to hide, and the bigoted undertones of all his stomach-turning opinions are both nauseating and baffling. Have such unfounded accusations ever been levelled at any other President? Has any previous President been essentially blackmailed into publicising very private information? This right-wing pressure upon Obama to publish details of his background wretchedly echoes the first half of the twentieth century in America.

It is as if the Trump thinks, “How can a black person go to two Ivy League universities? He must be a bad student. There must be something fishy going on. He needs to produce documents.” Does this foul man even comprehend the concept of ‘shame’?

I would get bored in attempting to compile a list of the number of anti-gay, anti-science, smug, ignorant, nauseatingly senseless fools to hold a position within the Republican Party. Trump is, of course, just one more. However, what he says does rub off on the American people. It is genuinely scary that somebody like this thinks he can run for President. This is a deep-rooted problem within America. If anybody like Trump or Palin, O’Donnell or Bachmann attempted to gain power in Britain, they would be metaphorically whipped and crucified like their hero Jesus Christ.

What the hell is going on? How can people even consider voting for such lowlife?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Spirit and Destiny

Two of the most poisonous – and needless to say pointless – words in the English dictionary are the words ‘spirit’ and ‘destiny’. Any uttering of these dire arrangements of letters reveals the speaker to be an individual who really does not give any thought to the meaning of a word before speaking it.
What the hell do these stupid words actually mean?

Fine, I recognise that ‘destiny’ refers to a predetermined course of events. But what use is that explanation? Is there any method by which we can establish whether an incident was predetermined? I’m not talking about the laws of physics predicting the behaviour of particles. I’m talking about people who say it was ‘destiny’ that you and your wife happened to meet. Because what you really mean is that it was very unlikely. Yes it was. Overwhelmingly unlikely. So state that and comprehend your good fortune that an array of incidents played out in the way they did. But it wasn’t predetermined, for goodness sake.

In just a brief selection of parallel universes (if they exist…) you will never have even seen your wife. But who cares? It’s not like you’ll be upset, thinking, “I wish events played out like they did in that other universe.” You wouldn’t even know of this person’s existence. You may well have married someone far better.

I often wonder how my life would’ve turned out if I had gone to a different school when I was younger. I look back at all the decisive branching points that my life has taken, and I realise that if even one of those events conspired differently, I wouldn’t be here. But that doesn’t mean it was ‘destiny’ for me to be at Durham. It’s just unlikely.

So, ‘destiny’ means ‘the odds of this vaguely favourable event occurring are unimaginably low’. So, for future reference, use this definition please. Don’t use such an inanely worthless word. It only reflects badly on you.

The word ‘spirit’, however, is infinitely more futile and annoying. Although ‘destiny’ is a pointless word, at least it had a clear – albeit illogical – definition. ‘Spirit’, to me, is the equivalent of apathetically articulating the sound ‘bluhhhh’, then expecting that to be an explanation for something (and also, inexplicably, demanding to be taken seriously whilst doing it). The word removes the desire for any sort of accurate statements to be used.

In the context of our personal identity, there is never a moment when ‘spirit’ is more appropriate a word than, say, ‘consciousness’ (apart from when talking about unfounded, untestable and downright bizarre ideas such as an afterlife). I know we have a strong sense of self-awareness, and this certainly gives off an illusion of being something more than an inconceivable collection of enzymatic reactions and electrical impulses. But the word ‘spirit’ explains absolutely nothing. It’s a nothing word for people who are satisfied with inadequate answers to the state of the world around us.

The English language is astonishingly rich and malleable. The immeasurable selection of words and sentence arrangements available makes writing one of the most soothing and satisfying practices that one can undertake. So can we end using pointless words? Not only are the words pointless, but their usage also reflects badly upon you. Unless, of course, you’re using them mockingly.