December 27, 2006

   -Roald Dahl
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.


Never, except when listening to religious extremists, have I before come across an argument where ordinary people, doctors and scientists with a differing viewpoint have been aggressively dealt with. I am an adult of the “sex kills” generation. The very first. I was 12, one year away from the terrible teens, in 1987- the year it was announced that a Syndrome causing the human immune system to fail was first linked to HIV. A retro-virus that could be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and therefore sexual activity.

In 1988(about) I remember a British TV Documentary that went through the solid parts of the theory and exposed the holes and that was the last dissenting view I ever remember being accepted as rational or believable by government agencies or most of the popular press.

Since I heard no further dissent and returned to SA from the UK in 1989 I assumed the controversy was long dead. It was never shown in any mainstream media, for certain. In a moment of boredom while deciding what to write in an email to whatever incompetent company was raising my hackles that week I did a quick “AIDS” web search. One of my friends was studying medicine and a story of hers was fresh in my mind.

I was surprised at the reports of just how many respectable, well known scientists had a problem with HIV-AIDS. I got intrigued and spent, in the end, around 72hours researching both sides. Without being a scientist myself and with what knowledge I have of science being in the Physics realm I cannot comment deeply on the validity of either party’s argument. What i can comment on, however, are their methods of argument.

All good science is based on questioning orthodoxies. If it were not we would have remianed on a flat world circled by a sun and moon. If you are questioned you never answer “the debate is over, let’s move on.” You either provide the answer or, if you have answered it before, refer to the paper in which you (or another scientists) did so.

You do not shout those questioners down. You do not deny them space at AIDS conventions (maybe you set up a stall opposite explaining how they are wrong, but you don’t lock them out). You do not have reporters telephoned an called “babykillers” because they wrote a column saying they weren’t entirely convinced (happened to Nicholas Regush, of ABC News “Second Opinion”, now deceased).

Respected and award winning scientists and journalists have a problem with it but instead of listening the public sides with the bully-boys. When I bring up this argument with friends they are shocked that I would consider having an alternative viewpoint. Somehow I am a kook or an oddball. But these are the same, presumably intelligent, people who when you ask them if they would trust the mainstream news solely for their information would laugh at you. “Of course not”, they laugh, “It’s way too biased by special interest, you need to look for a broader base of information for a vaguely balanced view.”

Today was the day I decided to have another look at what’s happening and the scene hasn’t changed. A multi-billion dollar industry doesn’t want dissent and is as cruel as a multi-billion dollar industry can get. AIDS has, of course, now been re-branded worldwide as “HIV-AIDS” to make it clear there can be no other opinion. Only four governments worldwide make public any support for research in other directions: UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa, and SA’s President got attacked viciously on the international stage for it.

I am always wary of those who shout down others. Especially when those they shout down have just as much right to an opinion and whose education and knowledge base in the area is just as large. Very suspicious indeed. So should you. If you’re interested on what might, one day, be revealed as the biggest fraud in history (making Enron look like a kiddie’s game) you could do worse than visit a few of the websites I list at the bottom of this piece or have a bit of a google.

“The important thing is to not stop questioning.”- Albert Einstein

Oh, and it turns out the guy who discovered HIV is somewhat of a dangerous egomaniac and fraudster.

some sites:

PS. The most frequent retort when I take the side of the argument against HIV causing AIDS at drinks, dinner, birthdays, weddings and wakes (I also do Barmitzvahs) is “what does, then?”.

My answer: I do not know. But I would rather live in recognised ignorance than believe a potentially dangerous lie. It’s why I’m an athiest.

I have no problem with lies that are not potentially dangerous, like:
“I do not have a small penis”
“One more piece of chocolate will be fine”
unless you are a diabetic wanting to act in pornographic movies.

It’s amazing how running accross seemingly unrelated information can suddenly make the world so clear. Being a person who is unafraid of the word “conspiracy” and does not think it’s use automaticaly warrants a visit to the funny farm, padded cell and fashionable jacket included, I though I might share in a moment of clarity.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s in South Africa I was the child of a country whose governmental approach to child safety (and the economy and international relations) involved harassing, making a misery of and sometimes removing the lives of a great many black people living in poverty. Some as little as 10 miles away from me.

Somewhat akin, then, to george Bush’s war on terror in Iraq but with Arabs instead of Africans and a somewhat larger geographical difference, as if that matters in our bright new global village.

But, my point? Do I have one?

I do. I will get there, bear with me. I need to cite the evidence first.

I note that we, as a species, are being weakened systematically throughout our lives (with the USA at the forefront), starting from infancy. First, things that may seperate the wheat from the chaff are being removed. The chaff, is, in fact, being preserved and protected in such a manner that it is indistinguishable from the wheat in almost all circumstances.

When we are in a crib our parents are brow-beaten by Dr. Phil, Oprah, child services and interfering know-nothing friends into putting baby monitors next to a crib to, wait for this, amplify the sound of a screaming child at 3am in the morning. Parents in the 50s wouldn’t have dreamed of it. One of the first things you did when you had a pregnancy (before buying the crib but after the hurried ceremony) was sound-proof the kids room. Between 8pm and 7am the child was placed in a tiny cell with no entertainment and only a small blanket to choke on and left to it’s own devices. Any creature that can accidentally kill itself with a small blanket needs to be removed from the gene pool. I do not want that creature to end up as my driving instructor or even serving me fries at some appalling take-away. One small baby is not that big a deal and it’s so easy (and fun) to make another!

Today, when youngsters are just starting to explore the possibility of danger in the great outdoors, evil safety Nazi’s prevent them from allowing their incompetence as human beings to injure or damage themselves. This piece in Radar Magazine (ref1) details the wonderful destructive and dangerous toys that used to be available for any child old enough to accidentally bruise, stab, blow up or otherwise maim and damage him (or her)self and others within throwing distance. There were darts with 3 inch spikes and heavy weights which you could throw up in the air, radioactive labs for the play-pen, cannibal cabbage patch dolls eager to take a finger off an unsuspecting tyke and flying ballerinas capable of serving up a healthy dose of concussion. A junior game of the quick and the dead. We were given food only at mealtimes, learning to feel hungry before we ate our next meal. Fun ‘snack’ things to eat in the fridge were lettuce, cabbage abd a jar of pickled onions with an expiry date from the 19th century. Hunger stimulates the brain’s ability and motivation to think (ref2).

These days children wear helmets on bicycles, knee and elbow pads on skateboards. Toys are removed from shelves if they can cause damage if swallowed. Parents cushion sharp edges in the home (I couldn’t believe that when I first heard of it) and hide the pretty green washing up liquid so there is nothing to drink while they’re out.

This carries on all through life. A local university recently tried to ban (it was later toned down to: will not officially sanction or allow to advertise on campus) any event run by students for students where there would be alcohol. How is anyone meant to fall off a roof or out of a first story window when sober? Or down the stairs? Or roll a car? Or shag a girl with more facial hair than you? All those things that teach you that when bad things happen it hurts but it will get better (unless you died or broke your neck or got her pregnant, of course).

To confuse matters further, because of this coddling people who could have been weeded out of the system and spent their lives as a hermit, street sweeper (my next job for preference), shop assistant or other person we can choose to avoid if we want- they become politician or, in one case, a school principal and expel a kid for doing completely the right thing (handing in a pellet gun he found in the school’s gentlemans toilets) rather than walking away (ref3). Why did the principal do it? Was it because, as he said: “purposeful possession of weapons is a serious offense” or, perhaps, because he was a melon headed space cadet who, in a slightly more dangerous world, would have taken a job in fecal reclaimation and settled down with a woman the size of a house had he been hit on the head by his sister’s flying ballerina at the age of 12 and spent a week in hospital dealing with his bedpan and a large friendly, nurse called Bertha? The idiocy of fighting the action of darwinist principles within society, once instituted, is self-perpetuating.

And it continues to adulthood. We sit in front of a TV instead of playing sport with our friends. We eat rubbish that fattens us up and never let ourselves become properly hungry. This “food rubbish” slows us down and leaves us malnourished and peevish not to mention unattractive to the opposite sex. Or even the same sex. We do unimportant jobs and we work hard to do them well so we are too tired to do anything but pick up crappy take out and vegetate in front of a TV. We are allowed only govenment approved drugs which (like all things to do with government) have all the side affects without the fun.

I had mentioned a point. I had. I did. I’m almost there now. It was a conspiracy theory-type thing.

Here we go. The conspiracy is to make all of us slaves and it can only be perpetuated by the most craven, underhanded, self-centered, immoral people. Or creatures. Or things.

But no David Icke Lizard people. No worldwide secret organisation cover up. The conspirators are, in our modern world, front page news. They are famous. They are observed and investigated in the minutest ways and we see graphical representations of them everywhere. The conspirators are a macroscopic pair of spiral staircases. The conspirators are our DNA.

DNA does not care for our happiness, it exists to perpetuate itself. It is life looking to make more life. As much more life as it can and it will give you the skills to survive if only because those skills are passed on from others who survived. The biggest survival skills for herd or social animals: blend in, don’t rock the boat, be stable, look for security, err toward the center. Human DNA does not care for freedom. Free creatures get picked off by predators. Human DNA (h_DNA) cares for the quality of the other h_DNA it combines with and will choose the best it can get to make even “better”, newer h_DNA. Human DNA’ cares’ for status, because status gets more mates and better mates and that way the h_DNA gets to make more, and better, h_DNA.

Westerners accept what we are fed as a society because change is dangerous as far as our DNA is concerned, it will want stability and safety. We accept things done for our safety because thousands of years of evolution tell us to. We accept the set of status-rules because our DNA is more likely to spread if we do. But it’s not going to result in happiness. Just more DNA.

How does humanity win? Slaves to the microscopic within our own cells. Betrayed by our history where cowardice survives more often than heroism. Where being a follower offers more consistant security than being a failed leader ostracised by the group? The biggest conspiracy there ever was, completely provable and factual, heading back further in time than human history.

A jester’s 10 point completely unqualified preachy plan

To make the DNA work for us:

Marketing takes control of every base instinct we have and twists it to control our behaviour. It’s their job, it’s practically written on the door. Honesty in marketing.
How about promoting as worthy of status good deeds (this used to happen- a religion called Christianity pushed for it big time and then it all got fucked up because people would rather listen to a good orator or man in a funny hat than read one half of a book and then think for themselves) instead of promoting cars with shiny wheels and big grills and cash as status?

Encourage the veneration of Intelligence AS WELL AS (not instead of) physical prowess. No, we don’t do that at the moment. The ability to make money is not connected to huge intellect. More usually it is connected with ruthlessness (not to be confused with evilness or nastiness). In South Africa, for instance, our scientists do their work for love but are treated most often like 2nd class citizens and are paid appallingly.

Teach children to think critically, not just regurgitate information. This means having teachers who can think critically. You will need to pay them decently (not hugely, though, most critical thinkers don’t value money that highly) and you will need to treat them with respect and trust. Don’t tax them either. My parents taught me from the womb to argue a point and listen to other points of view. Even argue with them. They took the time. If teachers had less useless information to disseminate (major export of Gautemala- who cares?) they could take time to encourage more discussion in the classroom. Debating should be a class on it’s own.

Everyone should be literate whether they like it or not. Every town should have a library no matter if it is unused and censorship should be done away with. In a critical society points of view need not be

To make society work for us:

Everyone in a democracy should have to vote or face 10 days community service. All of them should have to do a (quick, multiple choice) test naming the top 10 policies of any 3 parties running and what their policies were in the last election. They should have to get 90% or do it again and again until they get it right. This will also catch anyone at the age of 18 who has slipped through the literacy net.

Everyone at the age of 18 in every country should do 12 months national service. Not in the military but helping in hospitals, police stations, public transport, fire stations, schools and gentrifying poor areas. Poor people never get to see how much the other classes pay in taxes to help them so there is a disconnect. Get the middle and upper class kids down there and you get two benefits. The poor get to feel the country cares about them because they see the effects every day and the wealthier kids get to see to see the poor as people, not a statistic. Those memories make it easier when you see how much of your paycheck the government gets. And the poor kids get skills, experience and a reference.

No one starves (there is no country that cannot afford this unless they are being attacked by a military force- politics and stupidity cause food shortages, not droughts) and medical care is free to whatever level the country can afford and no further. Make the cheapest things free first? Possibly, I don’t know.

Everyone gets a roof over their heads and a safe place to sleep.

Protect the people from corporate interests: Have a Monopolies Commission with ridiculous powers. You need this in a capitalist state. Any company convicted of price fixing cedes 25% of it’s assets to a state fund. The profits of the fund going into the tax base. States should own assets, it’s not communism it’s just smart. If the government was making the money from the oil/ diamonds/ copper how much less would you pay in taxes? Probably the same but the schools might be better.

Protect the people from government: There must be, in a democracy, a branch of the police (combined with auditors) who randomly audit government officials and departments.

There must also be a free press and television news service. This might be easier than you think. I alone have 3 ideas for someone to poke endless holes in.

Discourage Jingoism in everything but sports.

Tax the purchase of cars to hell but set up a system where they are cheap to hire for the short-term.Public transport should be as near to free as dammit, comfortable, as eco-friendly as possible and does not need to be fast. As long as people can sit down comfortably they will learn to take a book and a portable radio (the book is free from the library and portable radios are a dollar). Free, clean, well-maintained public transport is a quick way to put money in the pockets of the poor and middle class and take it from the rich. If your country can’t afford to make it free for everyone have 2 classes and have no seats in the free section, people will get over it. It’s free (In South Africa where min wage about R6 ($1) per hour transport costs R15- R30 per day.)

Most Important point: Always, always, always remember that idealists with plans and ideas are the most dangerous people on the planet. On no account trust them but do listen to them. Amongst them number Ghandi, Jesus, George Bush, Mussolini, The Prophet Mohammed, Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela, The Pope (any of them) and Bill Gates. And a jester. Listen to the ideas, be critical.


Post scripts or: things that didn’t fit into the flow of the piece and/or were badly formed ideas or badly formed arguments or annoying or once slept with my girlfriend and we’re not speaking anymore.

We are being turned into societies scared of everything. Looking for security above all else. We are being programmed that way every day. Brainwashed to want a safe house and a bigger TV and our food delivered. Trained not to question the basics the way my parents did in the 60s and 70s apartheid South Africa. Like others did in the 60sUSA- that wonderful country at the forefront of the ‘love’ movement.

We are not taught politics in school. We all should be. Democracy does not stop at a voting booth. Democracy is 100,000 people marching down a street. Democracy is reminding officials who they represent. Democracy is standing for government yourself if you have to. All this takes time. Time you probably don’t have.

The conspiracy is us. Not standing with each other, not getting to know each other, spending more time watching TV than making our worlds better. The

Fear is control. Scared people don’t question, they like the status quo. Questions that need to be asked, and the answers analysed very carefully:

Every time two $Billion companies merge and people get laid off and there is less competition is it good for you? If it isn’t then it’s the government’s job to stop them. Did they? Did you, personally, do anything when they didn’t?

Why is it better for you if a corporation moves their car (shirt/nose-ring) plant out of your country and to India/China? Did the car price come down? Would I be willing to pay 10% more if my neighbour still had a job?

If I work just 8 hours a day (few do), commute 2 hours a day, take 2 hours to wind down after work, shop an average of 30 minutes per day, take 60 minutes to eat, use the toilet and shower, 30 minutes to keep the house clean and then sleep for 8 hours how much time do I have to myself? 2 hours.

How can there still be illiteracy in the richest countries in the world?

Why are the wealthy countries not topping the world in surveys about happiness?

Are you, personally, being screwed by a situation not of your making?

The world is becoming too safe and we are all in danger of something worse than death. Becoming slaves in crappy mid-level jobs in a society

I approve of alcohol. I want to be able to claim, for all my stupid actions- every damn one, that I was toasted at the time. Pissed. Drunk. Gone. Wasted. Especially to my parents, my boss or the judge if she’s cute.

The USA has had it’s civil liberties raped yet the November senate races were still close. No-one, not a single peron should have voted for the Republicans. Anyone who did should have to shut up when they get to the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ (paraphrasing not quoting, too tired to google the thing to check) bit.

How are they ever going to learn to deal with any pain or injury.

Which of these men would you buy a used car from?Or: Which of these two men would you buy a used car from?

We humans are not, naturally, clear thinkers. We get very upset at any statement that deposes our import in the world.

Compare that, then, to the Vatican when we (being clear thinking people) first explain to them that we are not, as previoulsy thought, the center of the universe. But just living on one of many planets orbiting around a small nuclear reaction which is one of millions in our galaxy which is one of billions of galaxies in the universe.

Suddenly the Pope feels a little less important and he gets a wheeze on, tortures a whole lot of people and generally puts himself about a bit. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Think how upset you get when you are told your job (especially those of you whose life revolves around work) is meaningless and then think what it would be like if up to that day you had thought you were the most important person on the planet. No amount of Belgian chocolate, communion wine or willing choirboys is going to make you feel entrely better. Putting a bit of stick about is bound to make up that lagging difference in your good cheer and warm the cockles of your heart.

And you can comfort yourself with the fact that, to this point, you are still the head honcho of the only known sentient beings in this very large universe. The very solid, present here-and-nowness of it. Sure, there may be a great black void beyond with very little to it apart from balls of radioactive detritus surrounded by revolving rocks but we are very solid. And here. Now.

Then one of these smartarses goes and points out that, when you look really closely at us we are actually big open spaces with not an awful lot of matter inbetween too. In fact, quite a lot, if not all, of the matter that’s inbetween the spaces is really only just a probability of matter, rather than actual, proper, solid stuff so that there’s no guarantee at any real point that you are really, absolutely here.

Well, you would be mad, wouldn’t you? Completely disregarding what such revelations could do for the weight loss industry, or “reasonable doubt” murder defence arguments in the American judicial system you’re going to feel somewhat aggrieved. Your little arty has been spoiled once more and all you have left to look forward to are power of life and death over the catholic world and being in charge of one of the largest richest (mostly tax-free) protection rackets and insurance services in the world.

Yes, protection rackets: If you do not believe in me YOU will not get into the kingdom of heaven. And, by the way, wealth corrupts so you best give as much as possible to me to keep yourself pure. Oh, and you had better tell me all your dirty little secrets too or you will burn in hellfire for eternity. Have a nice day. Peace and love and all that. Ciao.

So now you’re just the head of another arbitrary hegemoney (yes, with the extra’e’) and capitalist scum just like the rest of the powerful. Oh well. Best put another muslim on the furnace and ask the Cardinals to warm up another choir boy…

Spending more time with your children while they’re still young

This is terribly important because when they become teenagers they’re going to hate you. If you did not spend enough time with them they will think they hate you because you didn’t pay them enough attention when they were younger. This will turn them into disturbing, needy, clingy people who (if female) will end up dating my mate Jelly and having a messy breakup. Possibly involving police or social services but almost definitely involving the controlled destruction of his car. Which he cannot afford. Again.

Trying to get more people to have sex with you.

sex-sign-work-in-progress.jpgMales: This is particularily important up to the age of 30. No woman will really respect you unless you have slept around a bit. They want to know the man they chose was at least desirable at the time they chose him even if he has subsequently turned into a fat couch-monster shouting orders at fitter, better men on a TV screen (and more frequently, these days, a computer screen). Sure, you could just lie about it but you will get found out when one of your friends eventually decides he wants to bone your wife and lets out all your secrets to make you look bad.

Females: This is important for you not only so you can guide Mr. Couch Potato quickly and effectively to your natural orgasmic route but also because you want to scare away any men in search of women in the “pure and virginal” type of vein. One shag no longer deters these mysoginistic future wife beaters so you need to hit double figures as soon as possible to deter them and feel relaxed talking to strangers happy in the knowledge that at least one male “loser subspecies” will be quickly and easily deterred.

Eating foods that are bad for you.

At some point in your life your body will start to rebel. The same machine which used to be able to digest (and find nutrients in) fast food, alcohol and (once whilst stoned) beige linoleum will demand all the things your mother forced down your throat on pain of, well, pain when you were little. Spinach, lettuce, and cabbage will come back to haunt you like the ghost of christmas past or a creditor you thought had forgotten about you.

Doing dangerous and stupid things

Ending up in hospital at the age of 20 after trying to (whilst drunk) tackle a bush on the side of the road, missing and hitting the barbed wire fence behind, resulting in a tangled mess of human, rust, confusion and desperate fear when you realise the bull whose field you are now partially trespassing in is winding up for a glory charge in an attempt to turn you into and ideal organ donor makes for a funny story. Doing it when you’re pushing 40 is sad and people at dinner parties will edge away from you if you tell it. Yes, even the interesting people. How do I know? I just do. Risky stock market investments only count as stupid, not dangerous. Unless you do them using your wife’s money without her permission.