Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Rough Guide to the City of Tshwane Bus Services

There is only one thing you need to know about the bus services in Pretoria and that is that the busses do not run on fossil fuels.  No, the Tshwane Bus Services run their buses on nothing but despair and anguish.

For commuter convenience, here are the simple steps to using the City of Tshwane Buses:

Step 1 - Arrive on time for your bus

Step 2 - Start waiting

Step 3 - Keep waiting while your stress levels build

Step 4 - Keep waiting until your stress turns into hopelessness

VERY IMPORTANT:  You cannot cheat at Step 4.  Trying to fake despair will do you no good.  Only absolute, soul crushing despair will do the trick.  To aid you in this, the City of Tshwane Bus Service is willing to make you wait as many hours as it take for you to lose all semblance of hope and joy.

Step 5 - Once you are nothing but a shell of your former self, your proud dreams but a distant memory and you have fully surrendered to the perpetual anguish of your pointless kafka-esque existence, THEN and only then shall a bus appear.

Step 6 - Pay for the privileged of being squeezed into a poorly ventilated box with a horde of other lost souls.  Some of your fellow travelers will respect neither your personal space or the basic principles of personal hygiene.  As a small mercy you will be well past caring while you ponder instead your meaningless existence in a cruel and spiteful universe.

Step 7 - Reach your destination, your spirit broken, your mind numbed and your body vaguely aching in places it really shouldn't...

WARNING!  At no point during the journey should you attempt to cheer up!  Remember, the bus requires your misery as fuel.  If there is a lack of misery on the bus there is a very good chance that it will break down in the middle of nowhere, a long long way from your destination.  Consider that a lesson.

They say all men must acknowledge the existence of a higher power.  If this is something you have trouble with, may I suggest taking the bus?  It will make a believer out of you.  The City of Tshwane is a vast, cruel and fickle being and you are but its plaything.  You will believe and then you will know true despair.  Your pitiful shouts of protest are but a squeak in a thunderstorm.  You are powerless and you are small.  Thus humbled you will finally know the truth - that you are but a microscopic cog in an infinitely large and ineffectual machine.  Give up hope now and the mocking laughter of the universe will hurt less later on.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Frankenstein Post

Behold!  My terrible and frightening blog post, stitched together from the words of others!!

"Whereas, the having slaves taught to write, or suffering them to be employed in writing, may be attended with great inconveniences; Be it enacted, that all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave or slaves to be taught to write, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe, in any manner of writing whatsoever, hereafter taught to write, every such person or persons shall, for every such offense, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money."
(Excerpt from South Carolina Act of 1740)

"That all meetings or assemblages of slaves, or free negroes or mulattoes mixing and associating with such slaves at any meeting-house or houses, &c., in the night; or at any SCHOOL OR SCHOOLS for teaching them READING OR WRITING, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY; and any justice of a county, &c., wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c., may issue his warrant, directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c., may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes."
(Excerpt from Virginia Revised Code of 1819)

"To avoid arousal more generally, women were instructed to get plenty of fresh air, avoid stimulating pastimes like reading and card games, and above all never to use their brains more than was strictly necessary.   Educating them was not simply a waste of time and resources, but dangerously bad for their delicate constitutions.  In 1865, John Ruskin opined in an essay that women should be educated just enough to make them practically useful to their spouses but no further.  "
(At Home by Bill Bryson, Chapter 15)

"Women's present education is entirely irrelevant to the life they have to lead. It is not only a waste but often a definite disability" 
(Report of the University Education Commission, Government of India, 1948–49, Vol. (i), Chapter XII, pp. 401)

"In fact, only in modern times have women dreamt of going to university, but the idea has now become so normal that even Catholics, whose Faith guards Nature, may have difficulty in seeing the problem. However, here is a pointer in the direction of normalcy: any Catholic with the least respect for Tradition recognizes that women should not be priests - can he deny that if few women went to university, almost none would wish to be priests? Alas, women going to university is part of the whole massive onslaught on God's Nature which characterizes our times. That girls should not be in universities flows from the nature of universities and from the nature of girls: true universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls."
("Girls at University" by Bishop Williamson, 2001)

"In my experience, the real problem isn’t simply a failure on the part of Evangelicals to engage the world of thought. Evangelicals earning higher degrees and publishing their findings in the wider intellectual community isn’t what’s needed.

The real scandal of the Evangelical mind is that we are not allowed to use it.

Calling for Evangelical involvement in public academic discourse is useless if trained Evangelicals are legitimately afraid of what will happen to them if they do.

A more basic need is the creation of an Evangelical culture where the exercise of  the Evangelical mind is expected and encouraged.

But, with few exceptions, that culture does not exist. The scandal of the Evangelical mind is that degrees, books, papers, and other marks of prestige are valued–provided you come to predetermined conclusions."
(The Deeper Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: We Are Not Allowed to Use It, Peter Enns)

Be very afraid of those who do not want you to think or those who are OK with you using your mind, but only up to a point.  No one who asks you to tells you that you're allowed to take your thoughts and reason so far but no further does it for your benefit.  This is something that is only done to create a whole class of easily controlled, easily manipulated, powerless people.  Don't let anyone do it to you.  I repeat, when someone is trying to take away your freedom of thought they are up to no good! 

Go where the truth takes you.  See how deep the rabbit hole goes.  You owe it to yourself.

Grrr, Arrgh.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fear and Wonder

Hello internet friends!  It's been a while since I last wrote anything because I've been outside!  Not just outside but outside doing things!  With people!  People who have invited me to do so!  In the last month I've taken a cross country bus trip (twice), I've walked on a beach, drank white wine in the sun, drank red wine in the shade (mostly this, I don't do sun very well.  Also I prefer red), ate too much, gave a wedding toast, delivered a breakup letter, had some right wing meat and had a completely oblivious adventure with an starving tarantula.  Long story short, a good time was had by me!

Over the new year I filled in as an emergency house/dog/cat sitter for a couple of days.  That means that  while most people were getting too drunk to remember their new years resolutions, I got to spend a quiet evening with two very sweet animals.

Pure sweetness!
 Then, when many others were dealing with their first hangover of the new year, I got to watch a Dynamo: Magician Impossible marathon.

Now up to that point I was unaware of his existence but that marathon was a fantastic way to start a new year.  I enjoy being amazed.  Magic is great that way.  Normally I don't like being tricked but I make an exception for magic.  A good magic trick just fills me with a sense of childlike wonder and I don't even care to know how he did it.  I just enjoy being astounded.  When I say "Wow!  How did he DO THAT?!" I don't think I even really want to know how.  Knowing is cool too, but I mostly like seeing magic tricks for the sense of wonder it gives me.

Which is one more reason I am so happy to have left my crazy pentecostal past behind me.  See, growing up, I knew a lot of people who thought stage magic was real magic - and since real magic was demonic you can guess what that made stage magic!  This is kind of hard to do if you are Afrikaans because we don't even call stage magic "magic".  A magician is a "kulkunstenaar" which loosely translates to "trick artist" so the fact that it's just a trick is right there in the name!  Just to be clear, I'm not talking about children having naive beliefs here.  My college roommate insisted that David Copperfield used real magic in his tricks.  The pastor of my childhood church once participated in a trick with a magician* and afterwards he had a huge headache - which to him was a clear sign that demons where involved!

When everything is demons there can be no wonder, only fear.  Everything amazing must also be suspicious.  That's really a terrible way to live and I'm glad to be done with it.  The universe is filled with wonderful things but you can't see that if you believe there are demons everywhere trying to trick you somehow.  Science, magic, music, games, movies, tv shows, books - it's all suspect.  But not to me, not anymore!  I love amazement, I'm happy to to live in a world that far exceeds my comprehension!  It's exciting, not scary.

So this year, I'm going to choose wonderment over fear as much as possible.

*Martino to be exact.  He was a famous South African stage magician.  In fact, I think it would be fair to say he was the most famous SA magician ever.  But this was in the 80's so I couldn't find anything of his online but news of his death...  That's Apartheid era fame for you!