Sunday, 30 October 2011

Horror Gaming

(This is a post I put up on the Games, Simulation and Media blog for my course, I'm putting it here too since it might be of interest to the two of you that read this...)

Once more the ages-old tradition of Hallowe'en falls upon us and in this day of constant media bombardment we find ourselves confronted with a myriad choice of how to spend our evenings. At our age the prospect of Trick or Treating is somewhat less desirable as it had been during our younger years (though I'm sure I'm not alone in my desire to recapture those days of youth and head out with my treat-bag in hand and terrible handmade costume hiding my true identity, a spring in my step and a hope in my heart that the elderly aren't too concerned with the health of the modern youth and well-stocked up on fruit and sugarless sweets) but we are still open to a whole library of possibilities, a veritable multi-verse of heroes, heroines and monsters at our disposal, for our pleasure and entertainment in the forms of films, books and, of course, games. Which leads me to my question: 
What is your horror game of choice?
Are you an Umbrella Company Insurgent or a survivor of Silent Hill? Do you wish to investigate the strange goings-on of Japanese villages or solve the mysteries of the Scissor Killer? Or is your palate simply satisfied with the hardcore violence of the walking dead found in cities, malls or mining ships?
Present us with a list of your top five horror/hallowe'en games and we'll see how those of us who have no other plans will be screaming away the wee-hours of the horror-night. I shall even supply you with mine.
5.  Resident Evil Series - something I have grown up with since the release of it's first title, though I feel the horror aspect of the recent turnouts of Capcom's most successful franchise have been lackluster, their enjoyment never wanes whether you're facing a hoard of Djini or the unfortunate residents of one of Umbrella's many facilities. From the deserted halls of the Arkley Mountains Mansion to the jungles of Africa and beyond, Resident Evil has managed to span many places since the release of the T-Virus in mountains around Raccoon City and I'm sure it hasn't stopped yet.
4. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare - An addition to the excellent Western-based adventure game from the company that brought you Grand Theft Auto, Undead Nightmare brings an amazing and surprisingly novel view of the zombie genre by setting it in an age that knows nothing about such things. In addition to protagonist John Marston's uneducated and often hilarious outlook during the apocalypse, UN also presents gamers with a true survival horror challenge, severely limiting ammunition and other helpful items and putting you at risk of not only the walking dead, but also the undead counterparts of RDR's sprawling wildlife and a host of additional mythical beings from the Four Horses of the Apocalypse to El Chupacabra. This has so far been my game of choice over the Hallowe'en weekend and it has presented many, many hours of enjoyment and not a few frights.
3. Parasite Eve - a hugely underrated series that ran in the shadow of Square  Soft's hugely successful Final Fantasy Series (of which I am a huge fan) Parasite Eve is one of those rare concoctions that spans most of the mediums of entertainment. Beginning as a book, Parasite Eve is a Japanese novel from writer Hideaki Sena that tells a tale of our roots in the form of our own Mitochondria given consciousness and power enough to ultimately overrun humanity. A spiritual sequel was presented in a Japanese film a few years after the book's release and eventually continued once more in Square Soft's PSX title of the same name in 1998 (it even spawned two sequels itself that continue the storyline of the game's protagonist in 1999 and 2010) which contained enough shocks and scares that it forever changed the world's view of Square's so-far friendly face.
2. Dead Space - Another recently game from EA, Dead Space sets itself apart from most other survival horrors through its combat system. Set on the supposedly deserted mining ship Ishimura, its dark and foreboding atmosphere, coupled with its host of horrific monsters and edge-of-your-seat scare tactics was taken a step further into the realm of horrifying gameplay when the player first discovers writing on the wall of one room informing them that the only way of defeating these creatures was to remove their limbs. Scarce ammo, unpredictable appearances and precision aiming for the most gruesome killing method makes Dead Space one of the scariest and greatest games released in the last decade in my opinion and its subsequent sequel did nothing to lose this already auspicious position in my top-five.
1. Silent Hill Series - For those of you already familiar with this title I don't need to further my explanation as to its position at the top of my list. Those of us who have braved the world of Silent Hill and come out relatively intact will shudder at the very utterance of that doomed town's name and I'm sure I'm not alone when I awake in the early hours of some mornings after playing them. Silent Hill epitomizes horror gaming, with its spooky locations, its spine-tingling music and its downright disturbing creatures, the stories told of the inhabitants and unfortunate passers-by of this Mid-Western American town will forever hold a special place in my mind: locked away in a box with heavy chains, placed in the corner of a dark room at the back-most part of the must unused areas of my memory.

So please, leave your lists in the comments below so we can see what scares us, and perhaps what draws us to such games.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Bill Gates vs. C'Thulu

The fury that boils within me in the face of WMM's constant failure at publishing my movie is beyond any speakable form B|

My self-restaint as it crashes for a fifth time is truly admirable. My speaking tone is monotonic, my movements slow and careful. If I attempt it once more and it fails on me again, there is a very good chance this restraint will disappear and you'll find me back in the nearest computer store in search of equipment that actually works. [calmface]

Murder might just be the only solution: an unwilling sacrifice at the altar of Microsoft might just be the key to unlocking the torment hidden behind this unbreakable, eternal barrier of so-called technological advancement. Touche, Mr Gates..., I believe you are the spawn of the Dark Lord C'Thulu, or perhaps some other, similar pagan embodiment of madness and despair. Be sure that, should we ever meet in public, I will do all in my power to banish you back to the dark realm from whence you were spawned under the morbid clouds of death and agonised wailing. I hope those who were sacrificed in your honour knew what they were getting the rest of us into, because I'd be happier knowing they are laughing at us in the world beyond and rubbing their hands together with glee at the success of their frustratingly evil plan.
These are three posts I put up on my Facebook last night in the face of my attempts to finishing editing a video I had filmed back in May.
You see, I had filmed a pretty amusing video to be the third in my series that I have been putting up, but due to technological restraints I was unable to edit it at the time. The video required a moment of interlocking sound that Windows Movie Maker (my software of neccessity, NOT choice... Premiere doesn't work on any of my two laptops and one desktop computer and all the other software I have tried outside of the Adobe range has been even worse) was not capable of, so the video files sat mouldering in my hard drive until I could access better software capable of perfoming the task.
Fast forward a few months and suddenly a brainwave hits me (that was pretty obvious, when it came to me) and I discover I CAN perform the neccessary task on WMM and complete the video. An hour of editing later and I play it through and find it every bit as cool as I had hoped it would be (I know, if/when you see it you won't think it so good, but I'm working from a low-standards point of view. Anything slightly technological, like layered sound, is a step in a good direction for the work I have done so far) so I excitedly hit the publish button, choose the file destination and let it go.
4% of the way in the whole system crashes.
I recover the safely pre-saved file and try again.
5% in the system crashes.
I recover once more, set it to go.
4% and crash.
By this point the first two of the three comments have been posted. I have done all I can think of to sort it out, restart, re-edit, copy paste etc... and nothing. The dialogue box says that an update is required. I update. Same thing. So I head online and the service there says to download the latest version, 2011, so I can do it from there. So I do.
3 and a half hours of downloading later, the whole thing crashes. No updates are made and it tells me my version of Windows will not allow for the upgrade in software. It suggests I update the software. I try to. It fails. I head onto my other laptop, which does not currently have WMM at all, and attempt to download it there. It is of a new enough version so all should be fine. FOUR hours pass this time and the update completes. Dialogue box appers: an error occurred and not all the programs were installed in the operation.
So I restart and take a look. It has updated my system half-heartedly. I now have a program called Live Writer on there that I have no need for and, to further piss into my eyesocket, it has installed the new, terrible version of MSN, thereby ruining my ability to use that software too.
The third of  the messages go up now and I give up entirely. I download another, different, un-Windows program to attempt it and discover it is worse the WMM again, so I sit and I ponder. I think, perhaps I can publish the video without the overlapped sound and add it later. I publish the video, sans extra sound, and find it worked. So I draw all the files back and in can no longer match the sound as I need it. I extract sound files, MP3s, video, AVI
Wait... No layered sound, no on-clip sound, and it craps out... But it previously published the whole video with sound. I quickly make another video, edit it, and publish it. It comes out perfectly. I look at the published video that has the normal sound but not overlaid sound, then look at the one that won't publish at all.
Can the answer really be that simple? Can the software really be so mind-bogglingly idiotic that such a thing could cause it to crash and endure the last few paragraphs of hell? I seriously hope not, but I give it a try, final attempt and all.
I replace the audio that I had removed. I unmute all the muted tracks, then lower their volume so they are not audible but still count as unmuted. The I publish.
1%. 5%. 10%. 25%. 50%. 100%.
I hate you so much Bill Gates...
Here is a link to my playlist of the videos so far. They are in the order in which they are meant to be watched (the upload order is different, due to events like what has been described here) so please, check them out if you have 10 minutes spare. They aren't long, nor very good, but when trying to get into the industry one tries to get ones work viewed, and they will get better in time.
When I find and murder Bill Gates....
(Sorry, another ranting blog, but I have nothing else interesting to say right now. It's all in my videos.)

Friday, 15 July 2011

Only You can kill the internet...

A few weeks ago my housemate and I got into a discussion concerning our choices in Internet Browsers. Now, I admit I don't know too much about them, they all seem fairly similar to me, but his mocking of my use of the traditional Internet Explorer gave me cause to ask exactly why he felt that whichever one he used (which I cannot remember at this time) was far superior. The points he came up with stirred within me a certain mistrust and – yes, I’ll admit - fear at his internet using habits, but at the time I could not correctly articulate my concerns.

His claims that it was easier and quicker to use what he did, through the use of single-click buttons that linked him directly to the sites he used and search engines and generators that provided him with access to websites that contained information, pictures, games, music, etc... that were relevant to his previously documented interests filled me with a sense of apprehension that at the time I could only voice with a series of semi-incoherent snorts and choking sounds, to me the idea of these things was something out of a George Orwell novel, something that I have always read about and hated with an inner burning light, the very kind of thing that I spend my life fighting to eliminate.

Then this morning - some four weeks later - the latest issue of New Scientist drops onto my doormat (much to my annoyance with the postman, who NEVER looks after such mail with the kind of care that it requires! But that's a rant for another day...) and one of the title articles immediately catches my attention. I read the intro paragraph and follow ahead to the main four-page spread that has been put aside from it and suddenly all my fears, all the dread and horror that filled me during that dark discussion all those weeks ago, not only rearrange themselves into a fully-discernable picture, but have been expressed by OTHER people in mass-print.

What most scares me about these things that my housemate was claiming to be great innovations of the internet - and basic ones, at that, for he was calling for FURTHER advancements to simplify his experience even more - is the sense of fragmentation and isolation that this supposedly open and worldwide service is slowly herding us into.

By this I mean: that by using such services as those that will generate for you a list of sites that have properties similar to a set collection of topics and subjects you find most entertaining, you are giving up your own personal right to exploration, you are giving over the freedom you have to wander the ever-expanding halls of the internet, going from room-to-room as you please, seeing what you want to see - whether it is relevant, irrelevant or totally random - in favour of a similarly set list of results that the site/application/program deems appropriate for you to see. In short, you are telling this thing to find you something to look at, and it is decided FOR you what you will see, basing this results on ITS OWN inbuilt prejudices and ideals (and yes, these things DO have those, because the people who created them would have had to set parameters for it - I will discuss this soon) and filtering out the things it does not want you to see.

These things can and are being used to decide what you can and cannot see, and this is on the INTERNET, which is SUPPOSED to be free and open for you. Yeah, you may come across things you don't want to see, everything from slightly off-topic images and writings to things that are downright disturbing and horrific, but that is the beauty and the necessity of the internet, these are the things the internet was made for, for giving us access to this stuff, and suddenly we are now turning over these aspects of it in favour of our own self-appointed censors masquerading as simplifying programs and systems.

Everyone has heard of how countries like North Korea and China have been regulating the internet, disabling and limiting their publics' access to certain sites like Facebook and YouTube in order to control and subdue them, stopping free speech and access and the ability for people to create groups that can express their own ideas and opinions that may or may not be in opposition to their governments, but these things are enforced, wrong as they are, and we sit around and comment and complain and say how we think it's wrong and that they shouldn't do it and yadda-yadda, but WE'RE just as bad, maybe even WORSE when we knowingly employ these technologies that do exactly the same things.

These programs, like Stumble Upon and these Browsers with their buttons and suggestions, are created by people, as all things like this must be, using a set of rules that make it work, algorithms that tell it what it should look for when a certain word is entered.

For example, we'll say that the algorithm tells the program that when a user types in "science" that program will scan the internet for any sites that contain that word, but that would be, in itself, an overly enormous task, so limitations must be set in place in order for it to not simply choose every site with the word "science" in it, so the programmer might put in an order within the algorithm that might filter out any mentions of "science" outside of an educational base, say in blogs, or song lyrics and scripts etc... So that the program only shows the results that are scientific journals and articles and so on. But what if the programmer was to set a filter that told the program to also not show articles written by a certain scientist? Say that programmer set a parameter that disallowed the user to see any results containing references to Mitchell Feigenbaum? Or Albert Libchaber? Or even Stephen Hawking? Then the programmer would be controlling what we see through the program, showing THEIR ideas or beliefs in those areas and attempting to indoctrinate our understanding of these subjects with theirs. This is where freedom and the internet begin to split into widely different paths and suddenly we've gone from UK or US internet to that of North Korea or China, and we've done it not only with our consent but as our own, personal decisions.

Now, I'm not blaming laziness, and I in no way condemn the choices and opinions of those who choose to use these programs and systems, but what I want is for you to all be aware that while it may seem like what you're using is making your life easier, you're also allowing your influences to be controlled, making your vision of the world smaller: you're choosing to close off access to the rooms that could allow you see a brighter or a darker view of the world, to blinker yourself from the things that the people who make these things don't want you to see, and I'm not saying that this is EXACTLY what they are doing, because chances are they have not yet figured out how lucrative it would be, but it won't be long before they do, and WHEN they do we're going to be finding a lot of people who think they were well-informed because they are reading things that these programs and systems are throwing at that are, in fact, only learning the side of things that the people in charge of them want them to see, and I'm sorry but if that world emerges then the fight is lost and our personal freedom is gone, our rights to free knowledge are being wilfully given away because we don't want to sift through detritus of the worldwide community before finding the way to ultimate truth, and the internet is fast becoming our final haven for freedom and mass communication.

I know no one WANTS to have to do that, there are many days when I myself have to look for something and have to go through what seems like thousands of porn ads, people selling stuff that is similar but unrelated or just plain nonsense before I find what I'm looking for, but I've also found that this purer method is not all that bad, who knows, you may come across things during those searches that just might better your own life, different views, opinions, ways of thinking that are similar but fresher to those that have already been the foundation of your own understanding of life, I know I have, and I hope you take something from this too.

The tent is always open, and you are welcome to join me

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Exlamation Point

Over the centuries the written word has evolved many traits to better its survival: from the humble list-dividing semi-colon (;) to the aggressive, argument-ending full-stop (.) and the cacophony of others in-between it is fair to say that our written languages would make little-to-no sense were it not for this handy collection of dots and dashes and wavy-lines and other such utter nonsense and the sense of division, derision and decimation they supply.

But of all these useful tools of language there is one I hate more than any other, more than a great many things, and that is the Exclamation Point.

I vaguely remember as a child, while making my first forays into the world of the written word, that I approached it with such gusto and enthusiasm that it seemed each and every word that I wrote, typed, etched or psychically inscribed upon whatever medium had been set-up for the task of conveying my meaning and imagery was to be expressed with the same amount of positive, explosive emotion that I had set about the task with and so I found (looking back upon my early works) a heavy usage of the Exclamation Point. A monumentally heavy usage. I mean, it was astounding. Were it not for the basic rules of narration and personal preference regarding the nature of description in a non-addressive manner every single sentence would not have ended simply with a full-stop but with an exclamation point. And those that contained implicit or explicit questions would find themselves boarded with the gut-wrenching combination of both Exclamation and Question mark-ation (Or, worse, had I known of it at the time, the Interrobang, which my good friend Snypadub did a brief blog about at an earlier point way-back-when).

And so it was with this severe over-use that I found my taste for this hateful piece of punctuation first wilting, then waning, and finally resulting in my employment of a type-writer that actually pre-dates it and does not contain a key for it. However I still find myself using it in an unnecessary capacity (I had to actually remove one just then -ed.). A large volume of my discourse with others is littered with this abusive and obtrusive form of meaning-enhancement (without any such use! It enhances NOTHING) and I read it back finding myself sounding insincere and over-enthusiastic, as if I am trying to cover up a deep-seated distaste or lack of understanding for the subject at hand. Or worse, when it reads like my voice and actions would reach speeds and pitches only observable by dogs or bats and conveys a sense that I am getting hyped-up over something when anyone who knows me would be able to tell you I am sitting there with very much the same kind of straight face with which I approach many of my day-to-day tasks.

It's not the kind of image I like to convey. It's not who I am. I am not a being defined by excitement, by mark-able enthusiasm, and I don't like my writing, be it career related or simple conversation, to be hindered or misguided by this hateful evolutionary trait of the un-chainable art that is the transmutation of thought to paper (Or data). I shall forever strive to limit my use of it (perhaps to only 10 times a document, or perhaps 1 for every 1,000 words) and cease this unrelenting torrent of needless punctuational diarrhoea.

(This has been an uninspired personal rant, and I apologise for having waste your time, but thank you for getting this far. Your support has been greatly appreciated, and for those of you who have done this, I present you with my favourite word in the French language: "Moue". Thank You.)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tomorrow's Promise was Yesterday's Failure

Yeah, that makes little to no sense, but I don't much care. Point is that this is a follow-up to Saturday's post.

Is anyone here a little disappointed?

I mean, I was at least HALF expecting SOMETHING from the Rapture, be it fire, brimstone and angels of death or just psychopathic fan-boys out to make it clear that everyone was going to hell. It would have made my evening that bit more interesting.

Not that it wasn't interesting, I ended up at the Stoke's Croft Street Festival, an annual event that, frankly, I am annoyed I'd never heard of before! For those of you who don't know, it is an annual gathering to the ends of celebrating Stoke's Croft (I'm assuming, its underlying tone was really just loud music and heavy drinking/drug abuse. Good times all round) and I have never seen the streets of Bristol so packed. I shan't relay my specific activities on the day, they were too numerous and wide-spread and (towards the end) a little fuzzy in my memory, all I can say is that it was a great day, one I shall be enjoying again upon its (hopeful) renewal next year, and I highly advise that any of you not from the area should drop by sometime and check it out.

The event from the day I shall recount, though, will be my own Rapture Redemption Attempt. In the ever-present wise-ness of a bunch of drunkards the topic wound up at the Rapture, the end of the world and what we can do to prevent ourselves from eternal damnation, should it all turn out to be real. The answer came in the revelation of my status as a Minister (I have been ordained by the Universal Life Church, and so have all the practising powers of a low-level minister, meaning I can conduct marriage, funeral and christening services, as well as organise, run and fund religious fetes and festivals), and through this we decided and impromptu sermon was required. I would find some sort of gathering (not hard, given the day's turnout) and would offer up my services as a last-chance minister, granting atonement to those who were willing to repent, and thus hopefully allow them access to the Kingdom of Heaven if the time arose.

Of course it was all largely a joke (though I can never escape that sliver of hope and expectation that I, as a writer and open-minded individual, constantly feel towards such supernatural events as Biblical days and so on) and when I was situation in King's Square my flowery speech went largely unheard. I had a brief shouting chat with one guy about his position as middle-management in the offices of Hell (with the possibility of promotion to some sort of CEO) and a resounding moment of clarity, wherein we all discovered that a. no one cared, and b. if it were real we were ALL going to Hell anyway.

So my friends, that was my Rapture: a street festival in which I was an honorary member of a large gathering of Lesbians (a story for another day, friends) and a failed Redemption Minister all within the space of an hour. Only in this world, our world, that magical, unexplainable and unpredictable place, can such bizarre dreams come true, whilst at the same time denying the dreams of the hopeful zealots who cannot see the world for what it is, but as what other, stuffier and more terrified men see it. (Had to get a brief message in there somehow)

Until next time, be well, eat lots of fruit and never stop questioning.

The Tent is always open; I hope you will join me

Friday, 20 May 2011

Tomorrow's Promise... Kept Today! Rapture

"There is no possibility that it will not happen because all of our information comes from the Bible,"  This is a direct quote from an interview with one Harold Camping, an 89 year old former engineer from California who has once again been stirring the hearts and souls of the God-fearing communities in the world with his latest calculation for the date of The Rapture, the day in which God will call all the good souls into His kingdom and smite those who don't fit into that category with global destruction, unbiased fun and a lot of the old stereotypical fire. But I'm sure you're all wondering:

"What is YOUR opinion of this? What do YOU think about the supposed beginning of the apocalypse?"

Well, I am very happy that you asked! I would love to dissect this in my manner and try to get to the bottom of exactly how I feel.

Firstly, where do I stand with religion in general?

Well, I am not what could be called "traditionally religious". I have been christened into the Church of England (which I can tear to pieces for hours on end) and I have been ordained into the Universal Life Church. I observe the many holidays and traditions in manners SIMILAR to the traditional, but not quite on par with the mass-marketing, buy-my-stuff insanity that it is approached with by the masses eager for another reason to take a day off and buy each other inordinately expensive gifts that have no real bearing upon their lives in spiritual, social or even personal ways. When pushed to pigeonhole myself into one specific religion (the favourite pastime of the ever-present Form-Compiler, that sadistic creature that spends its timing trying to decide upon the most invasive and random ways of getting into your life) I will unfailingly put "Writer" because I feel this covers me the easiest. I do not follow one specific doctrine of faith, I read widely, as one who wishes to be informed in their own writing will, of each and every religion, philosophy and general way-of-life I can come across, but I do not necessarily believe in them.

The Bible, to me, as with any other religious text, is no different than Ram Dass' "Be Love Now", Bertrand Russel's "History of Western Philosophy" and Stephen King's "Rose Madder" (To name but three books in my immediate vicinity). It is a book. One filled with stories about people, either real, based on real, or entirely fictitious, doing the things people do and learning lessons from them, inspiring me in my own ways to go out and see the world from the same angle that they do. I have little-to-no doubt that 2000 years ago a man named Jesus (Joshua) wandered from his home in Nazareth, gathering followers and spreading life-affirming stories to those who felt spiritually lost during a time of great upheaval and oppression, but I do not believe that he performed miracles and I do not believe that the words he spread were about a celestial being that had a dedicated moral interest in our own souls, like some schizophrenic gambler in an ethereal casino wherein the Earth is his bucket of tokens, Hell is the vaults in which the fat cats store their gains and Heaven is the back pocket in which He stuffs his own winnings.

I believe it is all it is, a book designed to present you with an assuring story that will help you in getting over whatever wall your life has come across. It is not a manual for life, one that should be followed as strictly as, say, the how-to-use book of some Kenwood microwave, but perhaps closer to a spiritual TV Guide, designed to offer you a cursory title and brief synopsis of what is available to you over the large selection of (mostly repetitive and unoriginal) channels in life to allow you to choose what you wish to watch, and so it is with THIS in mind that I return to the quote I began with.

Harold Camping has made a name for himself before, when he predicted that The Rapture would occur in 1994, but alas the poor guy was proven incorrect as, lo and behold, here we stand, sit, dance and die 17 years later. This, of course, did not deter our erstwhile depicter of doom. He went back to his books, his Good Book, and his Best Casio and tried again, this time coming up with a new date 21/05/2011 (or 05/21/2011, for you American and other readers) to proclaim the coming of the Lord and all his little wizards to separate humanity into its little columns, take the good ones home and erase the mistakes (Or, to stick with the earlier Casino metaphor, God will cash in his remaining chips while the House will take its own winnings down into its vault).

Yes, as I write this (and I know I'm not on top of anything, not reporting the new or claiming any such nonsense) we are a mere 18 hours away from total destruction! (The actual time has also be deduced to be 6pm, worldwide (though I'm assuming he means East American Time)) And while looking into this marvellous piece of proposed doom I came across the quote that brought about a single response within me: Pure, loud, long and absolutely unexpected laughter.

Honestly, while reading into his work I took it with all the honesty I could, I was open and willing to believe anything and everything he had to say, his mathematical working is sound when compared to the required translations of dates and times found within the Bible but the MOMENT I saw those words I just couldn't keep it up anymore... EVERYTHING about his argument that had been both valid and believable dispersed quicker than a crowd of Goths in a music store as Justin Bieber comes onto the radio (terrible metaphor, but it IS late). I am all for figuring this stuff out, I think it’s a wonderful idea to attempt to liken these kinds of events from such books against our real timeline, but the moment people start taking it for absolute fact because of where it came from, in this case one of the most unreliable and imperfect tomes of calendar depiction ever written, is akin to swearing blind and on the lives of your very family that if you were to head to Kings Cross station on September 1st you'd be able to walk through a pillar onto a hidden platform. The fantasy is fun, whenever I'm there I like to give the old pillar a knock just for the hell of it, but I wouldn't dream of telling you it was fact. I won't say it’s impossible, if this world has proven anything to me beyond a shadow of a doubt it's that ANYTHING can happen, no matter how unpredictable or unexplainable, but please use humility! Don't go scaring the world into quitting their jobs, selling their possessions and bidding their nearest and dearest horrific farewells based upon the single most scrutinized and wholly un-provable text that humanity (and that is the key word, HUMANITY) has churned out.

Were the Bible a book written by God himself, or his angels, or perhaps a small gathering of clerics created specifically for the job of chronicling his life, then I would be less ready to spout these words, but since The Bible is and always will be written by men (and lately women) who have in themselves the same sense of all-empowering doctrinarian and dogma it can never be seen as an absolute fact, and so interesting dates and events of note derived from it should also never be seen in such a light.

Never stop doing it, drawing these ideas, these dates and times from it, because the world NEEDS it, I DO believe that, but DON'T take it as 100% literal, do not poison the lives of others with fear just because you believe in something. Do it yourself, by all means, if it is what you believe, that is what it’s there for, but don't use it as a tool, as a WEAPON to control the actions of those around you. It's not nice.

The tent is always open, and your are welcome to join me.

(Note: For the record, the title of this piece comes from a poster I have hung on my bedroom wall as I type this, it seemed most apt considering everything!)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Would I sound paranoid if I said...

It has come to my attention, as of 11am this morning (02/05/2011) that the "mastermind of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 2001", Osama Bin Laden, has been killed during a fire fight in Abottabad, Pakistan, after which his body was "apprehended" by US troops and given a swift burial at sea. President Barak Obama has lauded this as a great achievement for the war, that it will be the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda and all the trouble experienced by the world since 2001.

I'm sorry, but so much of this seems so wrong... so incorrect...

I know I'm not going to be the first person to say this, but there are about a thousand little pock holes in this little piece of momentous news that I cannot help but draw vast amounts of fear and suspicion from. The whole 9/11 conspiracy thing aside, which I admit I totally agree with, we suddenly find ourselves, as a world community, confronted with a televised speech from President Obama declaring this news with all the sincerity and severity required, with all the pretty rhetoric designed to mould its listeners into whatever form his intentions require that he uses so brilliantly, but it all feels too neat, and yet at the same time far too unkempt.

First of all, I'm usually a man of fait when it comes to admission, if you want to tell me something and swear it's true, I'll believe you, so long as I don't have any knowledge or evidence to the contrary, but for news as ground-shaking as this I find myself asking the question "Where's the evidence?". The fact that such an event in the hands of American troops would go without SOME form of evidential material, be it a photograph of a cheering troop standing triumphantly over an inert body or video footage of such as meticulously planned and awe-inspiring assault, sets off alarms in my head so loud that I'm surprised Mr Obama himself cannot hear them across the gulf that stands between us.

Further, the so unmitigated handy resolution to the escapade, the highly provincial "burial at sea" is clearly an attempt at blockading any further investigation. News reports themselves state that this burial hasn't and can not be confirmed, but we're all just going to grin happily and pat each other on the back at the casual say-so of the man most capable of creating such a cover-up? In light of all the other things we find ourselves in the dark about concerning this never-ending saga of terrorism, death and subversion, I think it high-time we actually stand up and say:

"Hang on, prove it! You've been hunting this man, this man with only the VAGUEST of connections to the chaos of the last decade, and so far he has somehow eluded you every time, and suddenly, in the face of one morning's operation, you find yourself not only with the man you so want, the man you so hate, standing before you, but you have his CORPSE, his lifeless, unoffending body, and the first thing you're going to do with it, before letting the world SEE that the terror is over, or beginning to be over, the first thing you're going to do is to throw it in the ocean, without a single picture, or second of video footage, just the say-so of whoever you can find to say they were there, be that the case or not, to back you up?"

And, in light of this eloquent and long-winded rebuke of the claims presented to us, all he will say is "yes" and we, the clever sheep we are, will say "ok".

Then, to further this alright shining example of what it is to cover something up, he will proceed with the piece de resistance, the flower on the top of the cake, he will warn us that, with Bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda are likely to attempt further harm upon his people, upon us, the public, worldwide, not just America, but that it is ok, so long as we are vigilant, so long as we are careful here, in our homes and towns and cities, keeping a suspicious eye on anyone who looks shifty and mass-buying whatever they can supply us to aid us in the cause, while they go about clearing up the remaining mess that exists of there, once again putting this expense in the form of military action and the lives of the willing into the favourable eye of the common citizen.

You may not agree with me, and I admit I may just be a little paranoid, buying into the ideas of freedom and conspiracy, looking too deeply into a simple issue and asking questions, which is clearly what the bad people do, because no good person would DARE to ask questions of the beings that run their lives, but either way these questions have now been asked, possibly again, but still, reinforcement is just as good as agreement, the more of us who ASK, the more likely an ANSWER will appear.

My facts may not be straight, my evidence may not exist and I may be wrong, all these things I will keep in mind, but for the sake ASKING, for the sake of turning away from the IGNORANCE with which we are expected to live these days, I have written this all down and presented it to you. If I'm wrong I will apologise, I will smile happily and eat cake with you, I will even buy it and cut it myself, and admit my error, but if I'm wrong I want you to stand beside me, as willingly as I will, and turn with me to those who have alluded us and demand answers with me.

The tent is always open, and your are welcome to join me.