Category Archives: World-related gibberish

“We’ve just always done it this way” Tradition – Why it should (almost) always be questioned

“We’ve just always done it this way” is a phrase that most will have used at some point in their lives. It is very often used as a perfectly sensible answer to any query that may emerge regarding the logic behind commonly held traditions. For a lot of harmless and inconsequential traditions, it is nevertheless enough of an explanation. However, when a tradition has become more than just a quirky method of separating oneself from the rest – blindly enduring practices and beliefs just because they have existed before, makes inevitable adverse consequences all the more difficult to spot.

It appears to me that the very thing commonly used to justify keeping up tradition is it’s most harmful asset. The length of time a tradition has been held regularly forms a shield of ignorance, protecting us from the fact that the tradition may no longer be advantageous or even necessary.

Marriage is a sublime cacophony of tradition(s) that offers itself up to criticism in blissful ignorance. My thoughts on traditional marriage and it’s need to be questioned were suddenly evoked when I heard recently that Russia was banning drivers with “sex disorders” from driving, following on from their move to make ‘non-tradtional lifestyles’ illegal in 2013. This diabolically ignorant attitude is too aggravating to be discussed in great detail, however the phrase ‘non-traditional lifestyles’ intrigues me. It is an undeniable fact that homosexual relationships cannot conceive children – it is biologically impossible – and therefore describing it as ‘non-traditional’ is not inaccurate, however this phrase serves little or no purpose other than to point out the aforementioned fact. There is simply no need for these relationships and personal practices to be treated any differently to the ‘traditional’ relationship. A ‘traditional relationship’ may well have been important in the past, it was essential to the progression of the human race, but we live in an age when pro-creation need not be our main priority as a species, what’s more important is raising our children in a society that understands when it has outgrown itself.

Image courtesy of http://www.weddings53.com

The traditional white wedding, but even the dress has an interesting history behind it

Continuing with the theme of marriage, the traditional Christian marriage that we are used to in Britain is one that I feel is worthy of comment, given it’s increasingly outdated intricacies and traditions. The most obvious aspect that I feel many women don’t take the time to consider – by choice or otherwise – is the changing of their family name. This is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, way back to when a woman would simply be know as ‘Mrs John Smith’, and leave her identity behind altogether (although as with almost any aspect of legal history, it was not always quite this straightforward). There are so many traditional aspects of marriage that have survived the years of change – the male dominated speeches, the signatures on the wedding certificate, the ‘giving away’ of the bride – though realistically harmless and insignificant these days, they are weighty baggage from a time when marriage was a transfer of property between two men. Clearly these traditions are no longer forced upon anyone, but their legacy lives on with the people who, knowingly or not, continue to follow them, and I think it’s essential that we are at the very least aware of what these traditions represent, if we are not courageous enough to move on from them completely.

Humans are creatures of comfort, they like doing things that have been done before because it means not having to do things differently. Families around Britain are probably most comfortable in their traditions at Christmas time. A lot of the traditional activities that take place at Christmas time originate in Pagan and Christian practises, and this is a great little site explaining some of our well known festive traditions. I for one am a sucker for a good old fashioned Christmas, despite being largely anti-religion, but the recent realisation that I have no way of explaining why we do most of the things we do at Christmas has really baffled me. I can’t see much wrong with pulling a cracker and having no idea why you are doing it, especially now that I know it’s origins are completely harmless. But imagine for a moment that it turned out crackers represented the snapping of babies necks during a brutal genocide in the 17th century? A ridiculous example I know, but would you feel as comfortable doing it if you knew the truth? Would you simply try and forget the meaning? It’s understandably difficult for people to personally associate with things like this when they happened so long ago, and appear to have little or no relevance to the modern day manifestation, but would you not rather know what these traditions represented than live in ignorance? Ignorance is bliss, but ignorance should not be a choice.

Image courtesy of http://www.thetraditionalchristmaspickle.com/

Most recently the subject of forgetting history and tradition has come up in the US, with the proposed removal of the confederate flag from many public displays in the southern states. This is a fascinating example of history’s relevance in modern day society. The pro-slavery links to this flag are unquestionable, and it causes wholly justifiable anguish among ethnic minorities in the US, but does this mean it should be torn down and forgotten about? Absolutely not. It perhaps shouldn’t be flying with pride alongside it’s national compatriot, but it should remain in museums, be discussed in schools, and never be forgotten by the American people, as that would be far more damaging to their society – and indeed the world – than if it were forgotten.

Image courtesy of http://www.tomstiglich.com/

Are these 3 on a par? Either way, they cannot be forgotten

So, if it hasn’t been made clear already, I think it’s absolutely essential for us as intelligent human beings living in a wondrously advanced and futuristic society, to question our traditions, from the minor personal quirk, to the huge lifestyle dictators. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that the result of scrutinising certain traditions may not result in change, but as time goes by and we advance further, many major traditions will become outdated and hold us back. It is at this point we must learn from these traditions, and use them to improve our future, instead of allowing them to be dragged along with our past. Being intentionally ignorant of the darker side of our history will only ever lead to those same dark sides returning.

As a man who has for so long been a proud follower of history and tradition, this isn’t all that easy to come to terms with. Expecting people to know the precise historical origins of every single thing they do is obviously impossible, but expecting people to question some of the more far-reaching and out-dated traditions cannot be too much to ask, can it?

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St George’s Flag Is Tainted, Whether You Like It Or Not

St George’s flag will have been glimpsed by millions all over the country today, being flown in the traditional style by some, and shared in the more modern spheres by many. While browsing some peoples posts online however, I found that many shared their images and views along with remarkably defensive comments alluding to the flags recent tendency to offend.

As frustrating as it understandably may be for a flag to cause such outrage, I find it equally frustrating that people still can’t understand the negative connotations that are now lingering behind the flag of St George.

In terms of the flag itself, it is at worst a harmless symbol, and a fairly bland one at that. At best it represents a hugely respectable Christian figure in ancient history who was killed in the early fourth century. Despite St George being in no way English and having absolutely no historical link with England whatsoever, he is not a bad character to have representing a country, which explains why so many others have adopted him as their own. But the people who now use the flag are giving it a new, tragically less respectable meaning, and the blame lies with the English Defence League and similar extreme far-right groups.

The epitome of the EDL’s tarnishing of St George’s cross

Image courtesy of thesun.co.uk

The EDL are liberal to say the least with their St George imagery, and it is through this uncompromisingly violent pride that the flag has been rather ironically tainted. Yet some people cannot then see why using the same imagery as these groups leads to controversy, even though their intentions are likely nothing more than to display their own innocuous pride.

This is not the first time a positive symbol has been ruined by the people who choose it as their own. The swastika was originally used as a symbol of ‘life, sun, power, strength, and good luck’, but since it was adopted by the Nazis in the early 20th century, it has been synonymous with hatred and evil, and inevitably will be for a very, very long time.

Flying and sharing the flag of St George does not make you a supporter of the EDL, or a racist, or anything else it has been linked with. But being surprised at the admittedly modest amount of controversy that comes with it is naive. By all means share the flag, be proud of being English – I certainly am – but we cannot escape the fact that until these extremist groups are faint whimpers in history, the flag will carry their burden, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

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Nicki Minaj’s Arse – A Lamentable Role Model

Listening to Radio 1 is often an arduous and unpleasant task for a man with such stubborn and pretentious music tastes, but my respect for the channel was inflated yesterday morning by Nick Grimshaw’s unsubtle slating of Nicki Minaj.

Her illogical and frightening popularity is perhaps the worst thing to happen to women since the Spice Girls called it a day. This is largely down to her flamboyantly sexual lyrics and excessively erotic videos that can be doing absolutely no good for the young women of today who will unfortunately see her as a role model.

So I have decided that because I am as qualified to comment on her lyrics as she is to influence the youth of today, I would take a closer look at her latest single entitled ‘Anaconda’. Rest assured reptile lovers, this song is unlikely to be a tribute to the large limbless beast you all know and love.

Watching the video, you’d be for forgiven for thinking this was some sort of nightmare aimed at any women with even a shred of pride in their gender, but no, this is serious. The video also seems to have very little to do with the subject matter of the song itself. Two major themes can be taken from the song; Miss Minaj’s pride in her “big fat ass”, which I can’t see too much of a problem with, for now at least. The other theme however raises some issues, as it seems to be describing Miss Minaj’s sexual attraction towards murderous drug dealers.

To start, we are greeted with the notion that someone in the possession of an ‘anaconda’ has no interest in a ‘hun’ who hasn’t got ‘buns’. Literally, this can only mean gentlemen who may or may not be supernaturally well-endowed are only interested in women with a large posterior. A huge generalisation at the very least, not mentioning the immediate body issues that this simple opening verse raises. So, off to a questionable start.

The first verse spat by Miss Minaj is an eloquent summary of her admiration for a young man named Troy. I see little reason not to assume young Troy is lucky enough to be a proud owner of an ‘anaconda’ given that the entire first verse is about him and his lucrative lifestyle of drug dealing, which allows him to purchase gifts for Miss Minaj that the regular Grass Snake owner could only dream of. The verse then gets a bit silly when drug fuelled murder is threatened. Take from that what you will kids.

This leads on nastily to the chorus, which, in true Nicki Minaj style, is entirely based around sex and her confidence in how unconventionally attractive her plastic backside makes her. Finishing with the poetic line “Dun duh dun dun dun dun dun”; we glide into the second verse after some light-hearted drivel from Sir Mix-a-Lot, and an ear strangling few lines depicting a jealous competitor exclaiming their forgivable disgust at Miss Minaj’s rear (I may well run out of arse synonyms very soon).

Something's not quite right here

Something’s not quite right here

The second verse is a pleasant mixture of the first verse and chorus, a shamelessly sexual description of another drug dealing acquaintance. When describing our new friend Michael, Miss Minaj doesn’t feel the need to continue with the serpent imagery, but instead moves on to towers to describe his colossal manhood. “Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking bout Eiffels”, so we can narrow it down to being bigger than any form of tower, but no bigger than the Eiffel tower. Doesn’t narrow it down all that much but we get the message. The rest of the verse really is such gibberish I won’t be wasting my time looking into it, but the basic jist of it is he deals some cocaine then compares her sexual organs to Romaine lettuce.

Following the second chorus our ears are lovingly invited to listen to some of Miss Minaj’s trademark maniacal laughter and nonsensical rambling. She dedicates the song to her “bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club”; which is blunt but not THAT offensive, however following this up with “fuck those skinny bitches in the club” really does cement her as an unparalleled hindrance to the women of the world.

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Slacktivism

Right now my Facebook feed is filled with girls posting pictures of themselves without make up on. Apparently this is being done in order to raise awareness of cancer. Is it being done because such rapidly spreading trends are proven to raise peoples’ awareness of cancer?  Or is this ‘raising awareness’ simply justifying somewhat attention seeking behaviour?

Before I deeply offend anyone, I am wholly supportive of any activity that seeks to improve people’s understanding of such a worldwide health issue, and contributes towards the ongoing research being carried out that is pivotal to improving peoples ability to live with and survive cancer. But ‘no make up selfies’ are not the way to do it.

Firstly, and most obviously,  posting a photo with the caption “here’s my no makeup selfie for cancer” does absolutely nothing. If you seriously think people are going to see that photo and say to themselves “Cancer? What on earth is that? Thought it was a star sign?”, you are simply incorrect. Now I should point out that some (in fact probably the majority) of the people most recently putting up these photos have done so along with a picture of the donation they have made directly to cancer research. This is great, do that, absolutely no complaints, doesn’t matter how much it is, keep doing that. Those that don’t, you could say it’s completely harmless and what does it matter? Well the other issue I have is with the nomination that accompanies these pictures.

I don’t think this nomination process is nice at all. It puts the nominated person in a completely unfair position, particularly those who are really not comfortable with posting pictures of themselves, makeup free or not. You are left with a choice, either post a personal picture of yourself on the internet, or feel guilty for not doing so because it is all “for a good cause”. Yes it is essentially for a good cause, and perhaps the more of these pictures that are posted, the more people will actually make donations, but it’s putting people in this unpleasant position that I really don’t agree with.

There are still good things to take out of this. The speed at which it spread among Facebook users has absolutely blown my mind, in the same way the ‘neknomination’ craze did (which, just in case you’re interested, I despised even more than this new well meaning fad, but let’s not sound like too much of a killjoy). Surely there is some way we can harness this and actually make something happen, get something productive out of it? It’s a basic starting point, but raising awareness of issues that aren’t well publicised, such as the Holocaust-like camps being run in North Korea, or the shockingly common practice of human trafficking and modern day slavery, can at least make better use of the internet and it’s unparalleled ability to spread whatever manages to gain enough momentum to go viral.

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