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30 October 2010

What You Should Really Be Reading These Days (Part 2)

 This is a sequel. I split one article into two beacause I know scrolling down a page a long time kind of gets boring when you are surfing the internet. And African Movies split one movie into four installments so this is no big deal. 

To all those who didnt get to read the previous installment, I just decided to answer one of life's great questions: what you should really be reading these days. The answer (...drumrolls...) is Humor. Of course it is.

Oh, I am not putting this down because these authors paid me to do so (I wish!) but because these guys really rock.

Mary Roach
Any lady that can make me laugh deserves my outmost respect. This lady makes me roll on the ground silly. She takes everyday situations and spins them into brilliant anectodes. In her owns words: “Mary finds humor in strange places. Also, her car keys.” Ed is her husband, by the way. The quotes:-

“Ed is the most levelheaded person I know. You could take one of the carpenter's levels from Aisle 5 and place it on his head and the little bubble will always be right there in the middle.”
“Ed decreed we were to buy only free-range organic chickens. Ed would put them in the shopping cart. I'd look at the price and take them out. ‘Are we eating them, or putting them through college?’”
“My waist, I realized one day in a dressing room, has completely disappeared beneath my rib cage, which now rests directly on my hips. I'm exhibiting continental drift in reverse.”

“A married couple can best be defined as a unit of people whose sleep habits are carefully engineered to keep each other awake.”
My eye bags, I noticed the other day while shopping with my friend, had ceased to be an anatomical feature and were approaching the status of an actual piece of luggage.
“My father was English, so gardening, I've long assumed, is in my blood, along with gin and fryer grease and a fondness for long, tedious war movies.”
“A family is a collection of people who share the same genes but can't agree on a place to pull over for lunch.”
“The French kiss each other twice, perhaps because no one else will.”
“I watch sports the way a dog will watch TV: I'm attracted by the motion and color, but no actual comprehension is taking place.
“A word about Valentine's Day. This was originally a holiday for a god who protected shepherds' flocks from the wolves outside Rome. I don't know how we got from livestock surveillance to romantic love, but if I had to tender a guess I'd say it had something to do with the Hallmark company. We really have to watch these guys, because soon we're going to find ourselves sending cards for Plumbers and Steamfitters Day ("You bring a special kind of caring to our water-serviced area ...")." 
Mike Gayle
Then there is Mike Gayle. This guy is fantastic: he writes about the things you always experience and always think about but didn’t know you experience or think about until you read it from him. Best of all, he doesn’t write space science, he does romance…and not the out of this world 'knight in shining armor and damsel in distress' kind of romance. No, only the kind of romance you are most likely to be familiar with. Try this:-

“Sometimes I really felt sorry for Mel—her life would've been so much better if she'd fallen in love with someone normal.
Instead she fell in love with me and had been paying for that mistake ever since.”

"I'm fine, Mum, honest." It was nice to be fussed over like this. To know that there was someone in the world who, no matter whether you were a convicted homicidal maniac, a porn baron or crack addict, would love you unconditionally.”
"'Am I your boyfriend?' is the kind of question a nine-year-old asks another nine-year-old. It had no place in a sophisticated relationship. I knew the rules -- I was meant to be cool and relaxed, laid-back and casual. At first maybe we'd 'see' each other (which meant that she'd still 'see' other people), then maybe we'd date (which would mean that she wouldn't see other people even though she might want to), and then finally we'd be boyfriend and girlfriend (by which time she wouldn't want to see other people because she'd be happy with me)."
"I wondered what I'd done to deserve her and after a number of minutes concluded that I'd done nothing whatsoever. She was in my life without reason. She was there in spite of myself. Good things could happen to not-so-bad people."
"Deep down, I always liked to believe that I knew things wouldn't work out between us. Nothing could have been that perfect unless it had its premiere on terrestrial television."
“Being seduced was a nice idea, but she really had no need to go to all this effort. When it came to Mel—who was beautiful in a wonderfully understated kind of way —Easy was indeed my first, last and middle name”.
“I love toast. I really do. Toast is just about the best food there is. You take a slice of humble white bread (never brown) and you put it in a toaster (What is it? It's a toaster! What does it do? It makes toast!) and a few minutes later you have a hot nutritious meal. You can put any foodstuff handy from the fridge on top of it and it will pretty much always taste fan-bloody-tastic. Toast, I thought, as two slices popped up, makes a whole lot more sense than chocolate bars.”
“At that moment, sitting there in my flat, with the will to do anything at all almost crushed out of my body, I realised that I'd finally found out what it was like to be bored.”
“She got over me straight away, which really hurt. She got on with her life as if I was a minor interruption.”

Awesome stuff. You know, these guys didn’t just write quotes, they also wrote a whole lot of books as well (Oh, hold, these quotes came from the books. Silly me). If you can get your hands on these books, I guarantee you will find them unputdownable. 

When you eventually do get tired of humor and you are in need of more serious stuff, grab yourself the Bible. Just don’t do politics.

13 October 2010

You Are Turning Into Your Dad, And There Is Nothing You Can Do to Stop It

Ever watched The Matrix? Well, in this movie, there is this guy who has gotten tired of living in the real world and fighting AI machines. He wants to get back into the fake world created by the machines, where people happily live without knowing there is a war against machines going on. One thing this guy said at the end of a conversation caught my attention: ‘Ignorance is bliss.’
A scene from The Matrix. Taking the Blue Pill meant choosing
to stay ignorant, Red Pill meant getting enlightened.
If you read on this article,  you are taking the Red Pill.

He was right. Living in ignorance can be nice: it allows you to hide from the nasty things in life and blissfully pretend they don’t exist.

Sadly, disillusioning people from their ignorant state is sometimes necessary for human development to take place, which is why I felt it necessary to inform all unsuspecting youths out there that they are turning into their parents…and there’s absolutely nothing they can do to stop it.

This piece of enlightenment came to me this other lazy Sunday afternoon. I was playing one of Zimbabwe’s greatest musicians. Leonard “Musorowenyoka’ Dembo. The expertise of the music itself, spiced with a little bit of nostalgia, made me end up blissfully vocalizing Wapindwa Nei in full and carefree earnestness.

I was doing it exactly the way my dad used to do it.

Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with turning into something like your dad, or mom if you are a girl…unless of course he or she is a convicted dangerous criminal, a pedophile, or makes African Movies for a living.

A lot of people would object though. They got this impression that their parents are totally unhip. I wont argue that case, my point is that no matter how ‘unhip’ they might be, you are going to end up mostly like them.

LEONARD DEMBO - Admit it, this guy was great!
It’s a biological law, as certain as the fact that I am a perfectly ordinary blogger living in Zimbabwe. This transformation comes around early adulthood where you go through a gentle morphing into the very parents you do not want to become but with little resistance to the process mostly because you chose to ignore that it is happening, you do not know it is happening, or you are indifferent to its happening and prefer to ride the wave.

You behavioral traits start to change. You don’t go out partying with friends as much as you used to. Suddenly, there are less urban grooves in your playlist, and the number of Mtukudzi tracks starts becoming suspiciously bigger. Akon tracks are being replaced by Luther Vandross, the 20 Seconds to Mars tracks by Rascal Flatts. The teenage years of screaming for attention start fading away: your clothes become less baggy (if you are a guy) and less tight (if you are a girl).

This is the indication that the Becoming Your Parents syndrome is taking over. You can chose to fight it (and inevitably lose), or you can chose to embrace it or ignore it and just ride the wave. The second option is less stressful. I think Leonard Dembo was one hell of a singer.

The Bee Question and Why I Am Glad to be Zimbabwean

We don’t believe in evolution in Zimbabwe…well, most of us anyway. Zimbabwe prides itself in being a Christian nation on Sunday (The jury is still out on whether this status applies to the other days of the week).

Since we are taught a little bit of man of how man used to be ape in Form 1, and the fact that I read around a lot, I am aware that there are a lot of people who still believe in evolution out there. If you are one such person, I need you to answer for me the Bee Question.

I came up with this question at church when the guy giving the talk was explaining how bees gather nectar and unwittingly pollinate flowers in the process. He was saying this proves that God is mighty intelligent to make things work like that.

You see, bees travel from flower to flower collecting nectar so they can make honey with it. The bee might think itself actually clever, getting all this nectar for free and not having to pay anything for it. Little does it know that the flower has the last laugh: it's actually using the hairy body of the bee to transport pollen to other flowers so that cross-pollination occurs, and propagation of the species continues.

Now there is one hell of a dilemma for the atheistic evolutionist. What made the bee grow all hairy so that it could collect nectar? Did the bee wish it upon itself so that it could keep the flowers around? Kind of ridiculous, the bee has a brain the size of a …well…of a bee so it doesn’t give a damn. It doesn’t even know how to and how not to give a damn. And even if it could give a damn, it could hardly wish hair to grow on itself much in the same way you can’t wish to sprout wings and have your kid’s kid’s kid’s kid eventually skipping the kombi to actually fly to school.

Maybe the flower made the bee grow hairs to ensure its own survival. That could make sense: the flower makes nectar and makes itself all colourful to attract the bee. Then it makes hairs grow on the bee so that the bee collects pollen to leave on the next plant it goes to.

Oh wait…a flower doesn’t have a brain.

There is one more option I hadn’t mentioned which evolutionists seem to use to solve all their problems – blind chance. A series of mindless accidents over a long period of time eventually created the intricate bee-flower relationship. Let me quote Douglas Adams:

‘There's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out.’

That’s much more likely to happen.

Thank heavens I'm Zimbabwean - I don't have to answer the Bee Question. We are a Christian nation. I just wish this Christianity was evident on more days than Sunday though.

12 October 2010

What You Should Really Be Reading These Days

No, not politics. Its too depressing, and nothing ever seems to change in that arena. Not scientific breakthroughs either, everything's always changing. In a few years time, there is going to be scientific  breakthroughs to disprove today's scientific breakthroughs.

You should be reading humour instead. There are certain authors who always lift me up no matter how rainy the day gets. This article has two of them.

I can only give you a few quotes, otherwise I'd get sued.

Douglas Adams
Now this guy was just plain nuts. He died in 2001, and the normal thing the family should have done was donate the whole of his grey mass to scientists. They probably didn’t (which is just as well, I guess, because they probably wouldn’t have figured out what made him tick anyway). My favourite Douglas Adams quotes:

"I'm so great even I get tongue-tied talking to myself."

"I am so amazingly cool you could keep a side of meat in me for a month. I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis."
Marvin, my favourite character in some of Douglas Adams books
"To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."
"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." 
"Ford, there's an infinite number of monkeys outside and they want to discuss this script for 'Hamlet' they've worked out." 
"His mouth started to speak, but his brain decided it hadn't got anything to say yet and shut it again. His brain then started to contend with the problem of what his eyes told it they were looking at, but in doing so relinquished control of the mouth which promptly fell open again. Once more gathering up the jaw, his brain lost control of his left hand which then wandered around in an aimless fashion. For a second or so the brain tried to catch the left hand without letting go of the mouth and simultaneously tried to think about what was buried in the ice, which is probably why the legs went and Arthur dropped restfully to the ground." 
"It all sounds rather naive and sentimental to be talking about children laughing and dancing and singing together when we all know perfectly well that what children do in real life is snarl and take drugs." 
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." 
"Shee, you guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off." 
"For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen." 
"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons." 
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer"

Bill Bryson
My first encounter with this guy was a book called Mother Tongue. It talked about the history of the English language and some other crazy stuff about the English language, and it was funny. I don't think any else can talk about the history of the English language and some other stuff about English and still be funny. Excerpts from his numerous works:-

"Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding." 
"To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever. And when you get tired of them, you can kill and eat them. Perfect." 
"I was heading to Nebraska. Now there's a sentence you don't want to say too often if you can possibly help it." 
"There seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too near the realm of the mildly interesting and was always at least a long-distance phone cacll from the frankly interesting." 
"If you can imagine a man having a vasectomy without anesthetic to the sound of frantic sitar-playing, you will have some idea of what popular Turkish music is like." 
"In office buildings and retail premises in which entry is through double doors and one of those doors is locked for no reason, the door must bear a large sign saying: ‘This Door Is Locked for No Reason’." 

"At a conference of sociologists in America in 1977, love was defined as "the cognitive-affective state characterized by intrusive and obsessive fantasizing concerning reciprocity of amorant feelings by the object of the amorance." That is jargon - the practice of never calling a spade a spade when you might instead call it a manual earth-restructuring implement - and it is one of the great curses of modern English."
"in my day the principal concerns of university students were sex,smoking dope,rioting and learning.Learning was something you did only when the first three weren't available."
I had to split this post into two articles: being well aware of how short the attention span of the internet surfer really is. For the other two authors who really know how to tickle my funnybone, come along with me to What You Should Really Be Reading These Days (Part 2).

04 October 2010

In Search of the Facebook Killer!

Once upon a time I got tired of Facebook. I would log on into my account; find absolutely nothing to do, then log out. This would happen like 5 times a day, and I erroneously concluded that despite having 500 million addicts out there, Facebook had become boring.

With this mindset on, and brimming with optimism, I decided to hunt on the internet for another social networking site to waste away my days on: a Facebook killer!

I landed on MySpace, probably because it’s very popular in the US and it’s existed long before Facebook was launched. I loved it at first because it lived up to its name. I could personalize my page a lot and really turn it into…well…my space.

Then it started getting all boring and lonely out there because try as I could, I couldn’t locate any of my friends to connect with. Even sending invitations didn’t seem to help. It seemed nobody else wanted to jump ship like I did. So, I left.

Round about this time, I came across Perfspot. Now these guys seemed to address my problem beautifully. Although I couldn’t find any of my friends there, I could easily make a dozen new friends from all over the world! Flattering, indeed.
Until I discovered I had been a bit to hasty into calling these people friends. Before long, some of these ‘friends’ started displaying some very…um…questionable characteristics. Being your average conservative Zimbabwean, I couldn’t stomach some of the things they had started talking about. I wanted out.

Funny enough, Pefspot wouldn’t let me. It seems as if there is no way to deactivate a Perfspot account even after searching high and low on the internet for any answers. It seems they are so desperate for a high membership base that once they get you, they won’t let you go. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I stumbled upon Mjoy: a mobile social networking platform originating from Germany. It also doubles up as a free texting service. I was pleasantly surprised to see an awful lot of Zimbos interacting on that platform: which helps to explain why the country’s relatively infant 3G network got congested pretty quickly.

The phone might be ugly, but the mjoy interface is nice!
Mjoy is a lot of fun…mostly because you get to txt for free to any number you like…and there aren’t a lot of things you get for free these days. Ok, there is a catch: you only txt if you have credits, and you accumulate credits by clicking through ads. Well, fair enough: as long as I don’t get to pay anything.

The problem with this site is that it is only accessible on your phone – you can’t access it from your PC. And I still don’t get why this site is overwhelmingly dominated by Nigerians. I don’t hate Nigerians, even if they are the ones who came up with the ‘African Movie’, but they do make posts in a funny, and sometimes hard to understand, type of English.

My social network search also allowed me a brief flirtation with Twitter. Twitter is very popular and I created an account with very high hopes - but it wasn’t that much fun. The whole concept of this site is to ‘follow’ certain people (get to see their Twitter updates) and to be followed by others. I couldn’t decide who to follow, and those I got to follow proved not to be all that engaging. I guess I like getting real information from my friends, and not ‘short bursts of inconsequential information’, which is what Twitter really means.

I think Twitter is for fanatics. I mean, who else would like to get trivial messages like ‘Getting out the house, hot day!’, ‘At work, boring’ or ‘Just had a hefty lunch’ on their account from anyone. I wouldn’t, even if it’s Justin Bieber I’m following. That’s just too much information.

Doubtless, I didn’t exhaust the social networking sites out there…actually, I think I didn’t even scratch the surface. But after having gotten around the world in search of the Facebook killer, I am back where I started: stuck with Facebook.

I still log on to the site, post something completely irrelevant, like a Douglas Adam quote for instance, and then log out….about 2 times a day. It does help to make the hours speed up to 5 o’clock.