Thursday, August 12, 2010


Zeitgeist is a German word which literally translates as "spirit of the times". This movie has three distinct sections dealing with what it considers to be the main social issues present in our society. Those sections are:

1. Religion - this movie takes an atheistic stance and picks holes in all of the worlds major religions past and present.

2. Money and Debt - the movie explains our fractional banking system and puts forward the argument that society is built around debt which ultimately is a form of slavery.

3. Terrorism - this movie takes the stance that the powers that be (I.e. The United States Government) are responsible for the atrocities on September the 11th - not a small group of Islamic fundamentalists controlled by Osama Bin Laden.

Whilst this documentary is heavily biased towards anti-establishmentarialism it make some very good points about the world that we live in. Do I believe that there are evil puppet masters controlling every aspect of our existence? Forcing us to fight against each other. No, we are quite happy to be herded around with dangled carrots such as Iphones and faster cars keeping us at all times focused on our one goal - the acquisition of goods and money. In western society greed is very much seen as good.

I do believe that our governments exploit the darker aspects of human nature to keep us under control. Our individual obsessions with self gain and our preference to watch reality television rather than sort out the  pressing social and environmental issues make this job very easy. I also accept that a common enemy creates a cohesive society and that governments fully exploit our fears of terrorism and our inherent xenophobic tendencies. But, hey it's not just the governments that tell us what to fear, every day we tune into mainstream media to hear about terrorist acts, floods, earthquakes, rising crime and various flu pandemics. Each of us actively buy into this reporting every day and if we didn't the media would report something else. Fear or the unknown and a desire to preserve and protect your life, your possessions and your immediate environment are all perfectly reasonable human desires, we just need to learn to take what we read with a pinch of salt.

Do I believe that George Bush is directly responsible for September the 11th? No, however, he is responsible for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where hundreds of thousands of people have been left dead due to the conflict. The United States response to the attacks was somewhat disproportionate in terms of civilian debt.

The documentary has a sequel called Zeitgeist Addendum. It proposes solutions to the problems. Look out for a post coming soon about this film.

George Carlin - Religion is bullshit.

This is one of my favorite George Carlin Sketches. I first heard it used in the movie Zeitgeist and started watching his various movies on Youtube. Do you recognise him? He is Rufus from Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure.

Religion - my experience

The very word RELIGION makes my skin crawl. I suppose I am an Atheist/Pantheist (whatever, I don't really like 'isms') and have been since my early teens when I "lost my faith". I personally feel that I found reason when I rejected my parents religion and started making my own decisions about the nature of the world around me.

I was raised as a Christian, went to Christian schools and on the whole bought into the whole story of the bible. I lived a happy existence shielded from the pain and suffering that a large portion of the world go through on an every day basis.

I had always liked to involve myself in philosophical and religious debates with my church friends and my teachers about the bible and nature of god. Although this had always just been a form of recreational verbal jousting. I just like arguing and deep down I still considered myself Christian.

I first began to question my beliefs after the death of my grandmother when I was 12. I felt so upset about what I had lost and looked to the Church for answers. There were many that came and I found comfort in their support and love and the belief that she was "in a better place". As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months I slowly returned to my normal old self.

Next it was my grandfathers turn to die. He had cancer and fought a brave battle against it which he eventually lost. I looked to the church for answers once again - and those familiar words were repeated to me again. After continually asking why? why me? why them? the only answer I seemed to be left with was "It is gods will"... This answer was, for me, woefully inadequate. I prayed to god for answers - but no one responded. A bit like when I last emailed a complaint to Virgin Media. But hey maybe God was busy or deemed my prayer too trivial to respond to.

My school exams would be upon me in a few years time and one of the subjects I chose to study for my GCSE's was history where I was able to learn about the Crusades. With further study I was able find out much more about the bloody past of the Christian church and was shocked at how people who subscribed to a book that teaches love and tolerance (on the whole - we can all find that odd fire and brimstone passage) felt that such behavior was acceptable. It wasn't only the followers of the faith that I began to question. After all if God is all loving why does he kill first born sons and send floods to destroy people? I was explained that God didn't do that anymore after the "new covenant". A new covenant? What's that? Surely an Omnipotent being exacted justice in the same way for eternity as he transcends time and space?

The more I questioned the more I got confused. God made everything, including evil - why would you bother with that one? Why didn't God make more things edible to stave off famine. If God performs miracles including healing and resurrecting, why hasn't anyones arm or leg ever grown back? Does god not have time for amputees?

The evidence that God wasn't there, wasn't capable or wasn't bothered was growing by the minute. The only evidence I could find to suggest God did exist was all the people who claimed to have a relationship with him themselves. Initially I was jealous and wondered why God didn't bother talking to me. I'm told two thirds of the world hold religious beliefs, surely all these people can't be wrong? Then I remembered how the world was flat until it was round. Hmm, could it all really be bullshit? really? It took me a good few years to work out that all these (mostly good) people we're mistaken.

In my opinion the need for religious beliefs comes from the ways our brains are hard wired. We are programmed to be cared for and looked after by a parent.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Facebook Credits - The new global currency

Today I logged into Facebook to see that I had received 25 Facebook credits with a value of $2.50 USD. What are Facebook credits I wondered. I investigated and found that they could be used to purchase premium services and for you to play premium games.

With a user base exceeding 500 million, this new currency already has more users than most countries on earth have as a population. This is an exciting prospect which I believe has the best chance yet of creating a micro payment system for the net that actually works. Facebook takes a 30% cut of this virtual currency when you purchase credits.

At this current time there is no method of cashing out Facebook credits, I suspect this is an attempt to avoid taxation, banking and gambling regulation. Although in time for this currency to succeed it will need to be possible to be used in all circumstances, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Apple generates huge revenues from its app store and Facebook wants a piece of that pie. If successful this virtual currency has the potential to revolutionise the world,  potentially to depose Paypal from its dominant position and to steal Googles crown in the PPC market. However, I'm sure the other players in this market will not just roll over and let this happen - I look forward to seeing how they react.

Becoming increasingly dependent on a currency controlled by a private corporation has its downsides. Other virtual currencies have been subject to hyper inflation and virtual crime. If Facebook can prove their currency is stable and convince websites to start accepting their payments we will see the web being revolutionised.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Charles Taylor is on trial - why Isn't George Bush?

Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers, enslavement and pillaging. This trial has caught the attention of the media with stories of super models and blood diamonds. He has pleaded not guilty.

So what is a war crime?

The concept of a war crime is a relatively recent one. Up until world war II it was generally accepted that horrible things happen during war. But during World War II the murder of several million people - mainly the Jews killed mainly by Nazis, and the mistreatment of prisoners of war by the Japanese, prompted the Allied powers to prosecute the people they believed to be responsible for these crimes.

On wikipedia it is described as:

"violations of the laws or customs of war"; including "murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps", "the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war", the killing of hostages, "the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity".

So is Charles Taylor guilty of any of these crimes? I don't know. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting for one minute that Charles Taylor is innocent of these crimes or a nice man - I personally have never met him. One thing is clear to me though. These war crimes trials that take place seem very unfair and very one sided in favour of the powers that be.

Take George Bush for example; The man who famously led the "coalition of the willing" into war in Iraq. Now I'm no expert but I think we caused some "devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity" there. It was justified if you believe they had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" but even George Bush himself has expressed that the belief that it was an "intelligence failure".

Let's look at another point - "The murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war." Well, the United States decided rather conveniently that there were no Prisoners of War at Guantanamo bay - only enemy combatants. Because of this the United States decided the Geneva convention did not apply.

So why is one man on trial and another enjoying his retirement? Because one is an American and one is an African? Is mobilizing the worlds most powerful army, dropping daisy cutter bombs and deposing Iraqs leader that different to selling diamonds to buy weapons to fund a conflict in a neighbouring country where people chop each others hands and legs off. I cannot personally see the difference from a moral perspective.

How about we try and and look at it from a mathematical perspective. Iraq Body Count - puts the total number of civilian deaths at around 100,000. Deaths from the civil war in Sierra Leone come to around 75,000.

How about based on the outcome? In fairness both countries seem better off without these leaders and the world a nicer place.

Can anyone present a reasonable argument to me why one former president should be enjoying retirement and another facing the prospect of the rest of his life in prison when both have blood on their hands? I look forward to your responses.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Facebook and Privacy

It seems that the news is filled with stories about people having issues with Facebook privacy. I just don't see what all the fuss is about. May I at this point explain that I view facebook through the eyes of a 20 something single male with a solid understanding of computers and the internet - I am not a young child nor am I a technophobe...

I have nothing to hide and hence my facebook page is completely available for all to look at. I use the most open settings possible - I want people to find me on the net. Then again I also have no problems with walking around naked - so I'm not your average Jo.

I appreciate some of you out there may want to keep them holiday pictures and family photos a little bit more private - but really you should think twice before uploading said photos to the internet? Privacy on the net is after all virtually impossible.

I also noticed that one of the main doomsayers in the mainstream media who seems to have a real downer on my good friend facebook is my eternal enemy The Sun newspaper. I wonder why this could be? Could it be that Rupert Murdochs News Corp owns facebooks arch rival Myspace?

The bottom line is I feel facebook and privacy do not really mix. However, rather than changing facebook I think that society needs to change its opinions on privacy and open up to the very nice idea of sharing. I also feel that whilst bad things can happen online, bad things can happen in the real world. One way to stop all these bad things from happening is to throw away your computer and never leave your house again. However, that wouldn't be much fun would it?

My First Blog Post

For some time now I have been toying with the idea of starting up a blog. At first I wasn't too sure what I would put up on here. But after experiencing Facebook firsthand I now see the benefits of sharing my thoughts and findings regarding the world, with the world.

Oh no, I hear you cry! Not another blog about another persons boring life. Details of what I ate for dinner, what TV shows I watch etc.... well, whilst this blog will undoubtedly contain some things you find of no interest it strikes me that I have a special skill that most other people lack.

Throughout my childhood and into my adult life I have always found that I tend to argue lots with people. This isn't a bad thing. I love arguing, other people may not share my belief that arguing is a good thing. However, I feel that if we all agreed, the world would be a very boring place. My views are often very different to that of my friends who I feel just sit idly by letting the world happen without questioning the reasons behind why things are the way they are or how they could change them.

I'm not just talking about the big issues in life such as war, famine, disease, energy security etc.... I like to pick apart the little world, all the small things that happen to us every day.

It is my intention to use this blog to explain to the world at large why I believe things are the way they are and suggest reasons to change them. You may not agree with me - but I'd love to argue about it with you.