Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Last Post

Two quick raps on the door. Landsman gets up, thinking it's going to be Berko.
"Hi, there," says the man at the door in American. "I don't think I've had the pleasure."
"Who are you?" Landsman says.
"Me is your burial societies," the man says in wretched but energetic Yiddish.
"Mr. Spade is here to oversee the transition," Bina says...
So here we are. Just under two and a half years and 285 posts away from where I started, somewhat ignominiously. During which I've blogged about nearly everything I can think of, from irrational fear of buses to adorable puppies. And lots and lots and lots of things about me.

And of course plenty of things about mental health, or the lack thereof. During which time Teenage Misanthropy's been getting a pretty fair number of hits for a personal blog (somewhere between 40 and 70 unique users per day, on average, and daily pageviews up to about 120 to 150 when I've been posting regularly). So I've not been doing too badly.
Nonetheless, I think it's time to put TeenMis out to pasture. I've been noticeably posting less and less often in the past few months, which I think demonstrates that I'm not entirely committed to it any more. There's a lot of stuff here that I think I've outgrown. God, in a little under a year I'll be 20, and the name'll be obsolete anyway. Also, I'm getting sick of Blogger. It's very customisable, but clunky and very far from good-looking at the best of times. Plus, people change a hell of a lot from 17 to 19, and looking back it strikes me that I could be incredibly arrogant, stupid, spoilt, shallow, and so on.

Basically, I'm still all of those things, but I flatter myself I'm able to make them come across in a marginally less annoying way. So, this particular blog is getting the Old Yeller treatment. But the destruction of my private Alexandria is not all bad news, because there's going to be another one; I've gone to the dark side and moved to WordPress. Same sarcastic misanthropy, but in a prettier setting and with an equally stupid name.
So, time to wrap this thing up with a link to the new thing. Many thanks to everyone who read Teenage Misanthropy, or commented, or sent me fan mail (yes, amazingly I did actually get some). The blog is dead...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Applied Memetics

[Exciting sexy new things are happening in regards to the blog. Watch this space. Or rather, ask me for a link to the other space and watch that instead.]

So lots of stuff is going on with the move and with me, so in lieu of a proper blog post, have a meme. It started with DeeDee Ramona, then passed on to Aethelread, and Kapitano, Cellar Door and I stole it from him. Feel free to have a go at it yourself.

1. Are you currently in a serious relationship?

I don't really do commitment.

2. What was your dream growing up?

I wanted to be a fire engine. laugh, but if I'd just had the A-levels I could've done it.

3. What talent do you wish you had?

I'd love to be able to draw anything more realistic or detailed than stick figures.

4. If I bought you a drink, what would it be?

A Cosmopolitan, or failing that Southern Comfort and Coke.

5. Favourite vegetable?

What are these 'vegetables' of which you speak?

6. What was the last book you read?

Last book I finished was Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs. Currently re-reading Berlin Noir, by Philip Kerr.

7. What Zodiac sign are you?

Taurus. Stubborn like a bull, apparently. I can't really fault that, even if astrology is a large amount of bullshit.

8. Any tattoos or piercings?

None. Always been too scared to get either, and I'm not sure they'd suit me.

9. Worst habit?

Smoking, drinking, enjoying gangsta-rap ironically... take your pick.

10. If you saw me walking down the street, would you offer me a ride?

Depends largely on your answer to #4.

11. What is your favourite sport?

Fencing, to play or watch.

12. Do you have a pessimistic or optimistic attitude?

Ahaha. Ahahahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Guess.

13. What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?

[clumsy sexual advance] What wouldn't I do? [/clumsy sexual advance]

14. Worst thing to ever happen to you?

This one time, I listened to a Michael Buble song all the way through. I still get flashbacks.

15. Tell me one weird fact about you.

The platypus is my favourite mammal, because it's so clearly something God knocked up while stoned off his arse on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

16. Do you have any pets?

Not since I moved out on my own, unless you count the mould growing on the washing-up. I think it's close to achieving sentience.

17. What if I showed up at your house unexpectedly?

'Oh fuck, hide the mould! Must conceal evidence of squalor!'.

18. What was your first impression of me [Aethelread, I assume - is that how the meme works?]?

Clever, kind, funny, and at least six other miscellaneous forms of awesome.

19. Do you think clowns are cute or scary?

So, so scary. I mean, look at John Wayne Gacy.

20. If you could change one thing about the way you look, what would it be?

Ooh, tough call. Tempting to say 'ditch all the scars', but I'm not sure. Right now I'd settle for a half-decent haircut.

21. Would you be my partner in crime or my conscience?

Partner nothing. I'd be a goddamned criminal mastermind.

22. What colour eyes do you have?

Blue-greyish. They're supremely uninspiring.

23. Ever been arrested?

No. All my experience of burly men handcuffing me has been strictly consensual.

24. Bottle or can soda?

Bottle, but only if it's glass and not plastic.

25. If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?

Blow it all on clothes and shoes. There wouldn't be a penny left by tomorrow, I suspect.

26. What's your favourite place at which to hang out? [I think that's acceptable grammar]

I know it's nerdy, but I've always liked art galleries. I find them relaxing. I'm not sure if that counts as 'hanging out', exactly, though.

27. Do you believe in ghosts?

Oh, fuck off.

28. Favourite thing to do in your spare time?

See #23.

29. Do you swear a lot?

See #27.

30. Biggest pet peeve?

The Law of Universal Gravitation. Don't ask.

31. In one word, how would you describe yourself?


32. Do you believe in/appreciate romance?

I think it's a highly specific form of insanity.

33. Favourite and least favourite food?

Currently, tiramisu.

Anything involving tofu.

34. Do you believe in God/a higher power/whatever you want to call it?


There's a line of Dara O'Briain's: [paraphrased] 'I'm an atheist, been an atheist for years, absolutely do not believe in any sort of a god. ...still Catholic, though.'

35. Will you repost this?

...what sadistic fucker put this question at the end?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Yet Another Gaming Post

Games as art. Oh dear. I keep coming back to this one, like the proverbial dog. Of course, the short answer from a gamer's perspective is that it doesn't matter. Regardless of what we call them, games can be fun, beautiful, uplifting, depressing, life-changing even. So why the frantic scrabbling after the status of art?

Well, at the moment gaming is the red-headed stepchild of media; desperate for attention and acceptance from the older kids. It's still an immature medium (in oh so many ways), there's still a social stigma attached to it, and so people like me with nothing better to do stroke their beards and talk about emergent narrative and why we don't have an equivalent to Citizen Kane yet.
None of this matters in the long view, of course. Within, say, 20 years, nearly all of the people making up mainstream Western culture (whatever that is) will have grown up with shiny modern commercial gaming, and the wider popular perception of games will have changed from Pac-Man and Space Invaders to Gears of War and Halo. Which is just as inaccurate a representation in its own way, but that's beside the point.
This whole wordy think-piece comes up because the 'can games be art' question has been going around this bit of the blogosphere, from Kapitano and Aethelread. Plus, of course, I'm thoroughly invested in it myself; I write a series of columns based almost entirely on the contention that games are art for a most excellent webzine of win and awesome called Sublime Rush (look for Flashing Pixels, if you want to have a read). On top of that, I've been playing videogames for as long as I can remember, instead of doing healthy things like going outside.
It occurs to me, though, that I've got through four instalments of said column without ever trying to define what art is. Possibly I am not a very good writer. Thankfully, the drunken librarian that won't shut up of the internet, Wikipedia, gives us something good enough to be going on with:
Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way to affect the senses or emotions.
It might also be true to add (stealing a little bit from Kapitano's comment on Aethelread's post) that you can distinguish art from design because, in Oscar Wilde's words:
All art is quite useless.
Which is somewhat problematic. Most games are, on the face of it, useless for anything other than entertainment or diversion (and unlike novels, you can't even use them for kindling), but then there are plenty of games designed specifically to be educational (you might argue that these aren't entertaining, but then again I'm still looking for Carmen bloody Sandiego). And on the commercial side, they're certainly useful for making money. But still. If film's useless enough to make the cut, games are art too.
But there were a couple of bits from Aethelread's post that I'd like to pick up on.
...our culture is still deeply bound up with Romantic notions of the artist. The idea of the artist as a solitary figure working in isolation on a thoroughly original piece of work is one that still has a powerful hold on our collective imagination. Recently that’s been undermined to some extent – it’s been pointed out, for example, that many of the most famous painters in history only supervised some of the work produced in their name, with the actual act of applying paint to canvas being carried out by anonymous assistants – and there’s been an appreciation of the importance of collaboration in the production of all works of art. Even so, video games, being such an intensively collaborative medium, radically violate the convention of thinking of a work of art as the production of a single ‘creative genius’. There’s a similar phenomenon at work in cinema...
Which is absolutely true, of course. I can point to a handful of relatively well-known (amongst gamers, anyway) game designers; Warren Spector, Will Wright, Harvey Smith, Robin Walker, Clint Hocking, Jordan Thomas - to name a few, but none are really known outside the field, and as with cinema, while you might have two or three guys at the top supplying the vision (and it's nearly always guys - another problem right there), most of the grunt work is being done by a pool of bearded men in Star Wars T-shirts who almost inevitably seem to be called Andrew. Of course, as a film nerd and a gamer both, what I'd like most of all is for the gaming culture to start developing its own take on the auteur theory. And individual game studios do tend to develop a reputation of their own; Bioware make excellent RPGs, Infinity Ward make (or rather, made) their name in the shoot-lots-of-men-in-the-face genre, Russian developers generally make unpolished and sometimes unplayable or even downright incomprehensible works of genius (rather like the literature, really), and so on. But that's not quite the same thing. And the common-or-garden pubescent morons you find on Xbox Live don't much care who developed what unless it's an excuse for a console war. But I live in hope. Next bit:
So far as I can see, video games seem to be relatively uninterested in educating their players, or providing them with transformative experiences. I suspect people who appreciate a good game do so in aesthetic terms – that’s to say, appreciate it for its skilful balancing of the intellectual interest of the narrative, and the emotional resonance of the characters and situations, and the challenge of the problem-solving, and the excitement of the gameplay – rather than because it teaches them something. I also suspect that, when the game is better than merely good, the experience of playing it may well be transcendent – in that it takes the player away from themselves – but is unlikely to be transformative.
I beg to differ. I mean, I'll cop to most games not caring about educating their players, unless it's about the virtues of firing in short, controlled bursts or unsubtle America-saves-the-day-again propaganda. But games can be transformative. Taking the player away from themselves is one thing (immersion), and it's pretty much mandatory for a game worth its salt, and a large part of the appeal, but there's more to it than that.
To put it another way, everyone has music like that. Maybe you spent your teenage years being an Afghan Whigs lyric. Or met your future wife through a shared love of 'Across the Sea'. Had your mind blown by a combination of controlled substances and The Wall. Or cried your way through a painful bout of unrequited love with 'I Still Remember' and 'Mr. Brightside'*.
Well, all the same things can be true of games. I mean, I grew up with them. I remember playing Age of Empires with my dad as a kid. I was being scared by System Shock long before I ever saw a horror movie. The first time I got drunk at a party me and my friends ended up playing Guitar Hero. My first kiss happened after some guy and I got bored with Super Smash Bros. Melee (huge indictment of my seduction skills there, I know). This is beside the point; none of these are evidence of games being transformative, but the memories are still evocative. Everyone's got a mental soundtrack to their lives, and pretty soon there'll be a gaming equivalent.

But games can be life-changing in and of themselves, too. I know I've had my sense of humour informed by everything from Theme Hospital to Portal. A large part of my horrible personality comes from the residual bitterness you get from trying to play anything multiplayer with dial-up. Deus Ex got me into cyberpunk novels and The Man Who Was Thursday (still my favourite book). I know for a fact that I inherited my ...unique approach to problem-solving from text-adventure games. I got a vast breadth of war-nerdery from the likes of Operation Flashpoint.
OK, these aren't great examples, but for God's sake, people are getting married in MMOs. That should tell you something. Games journalist (and part of the Rock Paper Shotgun hivemind) Jim Rossignol credits Quake III for saving him from the drudgery of financial journalism in his (much-recommended) book This Gaming Life. And of course, just about everyone working in the games industry got inspired by it somehow, mostly by the work of their predecessors.
And if after all that you're still in doubt, it was Bioshock that finally persuaded me to read Atlas Shrugged, and that's a feat that all the teachers in the world couldn't perform. I still hated it, though. There's some things even art can't do for you.

* All true, canvassed from friends. One of them is mine. Shouldn't be hard to tell which.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A Red Letter Day

I could see my entire life flash before my eyes, like one big gay pride parade!
Yesterday was Pride London, and I worked up the courage to go up there and spend what seemed the hottest day of the year (in oh so many ways) gaying it up and being vaguely political, in the best traditions of hipsters everywhere. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I wasn't able to take pictures of the parade because I was in the parade, and I wasn't able to take photos of cute guys because I was too busy flirting with them. Fun for me, not so much use for a blog post. Nonetheless.
I showed up a bit early, and inveigled my way into tagging along with LGBT Labour. This got me a bright red T-shirt, a brief handshake with Oona King (she's awesome, by the way, and would make a great mayor), and a three-hour stroll through central London with a bunch of fellow lefties and a small dog named Jacqueline Kennedy (a political animal, if you like). Incidentally, only amongst a group of gay men would you get the question 'Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, or just Jacqueline Kennedy?'.

Needless to say, the Labour people were muchly awesome, and I spent the parade handing out 'Never Kissed A Tory' stickers, which proved massively popular ('People of London! Accessorise those limp wrists! Socialists are cuter!'). I got my photo taken by the same gay Jedi as last year, who recognised me (the elbow-length stripy gloves stand out). Apparently I'm on Youtube somewhere from last time, but damned if I can find it. Just one step closer to internet celebrity. Part way through, I also got a cameraman following me around, so maybe I'm on the Belgian nightly news or something. I did learn that there are very few things in life that can be so irritating as a professional camera crew. 'Sorry, could you do that last bit again, only slower?' - which reminds me of a story from the war correspondent Edward Behr's excellent but disturbing memoirs, Anyone Here Been Raped and Speak English?, about a camera crew getting an Algerian firing squad to wait until the sound engineer was ready before shooting.
Anyway, we moved on, getting entangled in groups of rollerblading lesbians and drag queens, until the whole thing ground to a halt, again, because of these guys. Same slogans as last year, even the same signs, but some of my fellow sodomites must've tried remonstrating with them, because it took the police a while to cordon off the fundamentalists. I blew them a kiss again, but with a wall of police between us I couldn't get any closer than that. I didn't even hear any of what the guy with the megaphone was saying, on account of him being drowned out by applause and whistles for the parade.
Incidentally, and brilliantly, I found their sort of after-action report from last year on the interwebs.
Sizeable groups of enraged sodomites were allowed to get very close and scream their curses and threats, as well as making filthy gestures. A repeated tactic was for sodomites and lesbians to stand in front of the preachers and engage in prolonged kissing. The only reaction from the police was to snigger. The final straw was when a sodomite exposed his rear and a policeman standing a few yards away just grinned. I remonstrated with the said policeman who pretended he hadn't seen anything. I pointed out the culprit but nothing was done.
Quite apart from my making 'filthy gestures'*, I do appreciate the Met sometimes. Some of their officers were marching too, of course, and looking fantastic.
Anyway, I kept on going, doling out stickers to all and sundry (best response: 'honey, you can stick one on me any time you want'), and getting thoroughly exhausted from a combination of dehydration, heat, and skinny jeans cutting off all the circulation to my legs, but damned if I didn't look good. As my inimitable friend Maggie notes, 'Gay rights: making it okay for guys to do to themselves what women have been forced to do for ages'.
I didn't stick around for the main stage or the street party in Soho afterwards, mostly on account of being pretty much dead on my feet, but I did manage to get a couple more pictures before heading back to the boring, boring suburbs:

All in all, it was a fun day out. I'm proud of myself for making the effort to get up there, at least. It got me to thinking about politics, too. For the moment at least, I'm with Labour. They might be nigh-on useless at everything else, but they've been pretty consistently good on LGBT rights in government. Call me a single-issue voter, but there it is. Especially given that your alternatives are the various Trot factions all fighting amongst themselves, or the distinct uncertainty of the Lib Dems.
It strikes me sometimes that I'm not really built for modern gayness. In a lot of ways, I feel like I can identify more with the sort of Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward type of thing, back when homosexuality was still mysterious, sexy and dangerous. Then again, that's almost certainly vanity on my part - it's not like I had to live with it. And for all its myriad faults, pride is still A Good Thing. It might've turned from a protest into a party, and the modern gay scene can be supremely stupid in its own way (body fascism, political complacency, awful music), but the legacy of what the GLF did back in the day was to bring homosexuality into the light of day, and if the tradeoff to having to listen to broken hard-drive sound techno is drag queens in corsets and kinky boots marching through central London and royally pissing off moralising, fascistic cunts like the Zion Tabernacle, then that's a trade worth keeping, and being proud of.

* I've long believed that homosexuality is only filthy if you're doing it right.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Uh... Help?

Danger, Will Robinson! This is going to be one of those posts. Long, angsty, self-obsessed, and more than a little incoherent. You may want to skip it if you don't have a lot of patience for me talking about how I've got, as the kids these days say, Issues. That is all.

* * *
I don't feel well
I've got this rattling in my chest
And the doctor says I should give it up
Because I'm clinically obsessed
So I've just finished re-reading Michael Chabon's (excellent) novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I bring this up because spread throughout it are the arc words 'these are strange times to be a Jew'. I'm not even slightly Jewish, but the fictional Sitkaniks don't have a monopoly on strangeness. Actually, a friend of mine at Croydon used to ask sometimes whether I felt like I was in the middle of an absurdist play, and that's pretty much what life is like at the moment. Although perhaps a better comparison would be Ibsen, or Chekov - gloomy, purposeless, and really quite dull.

Strange times indeed. I'm waiting on my mum's house move coming through so I can move out of the city I've lived my whole life in, to one that I don't know at all. I feel directionless, uncertain. And combined with the prospect of leaving everyone I know down here, and Fathers' Day just having gone past, it's got me in one of those awful philosophical moods that makes me write long, rambling, pretentious blog posts to no-one in particular.
I'm back on the self-loathing thing again, too. It's been a while since I indulged in a really serious bout of it, but I'm making up for it now. I blame The Bell Jar, actually. I'm dragging myself through it at the moment; it's the first time I've read it, and over the course of the first few chapters I've already flung it across the room a few times in sheer exasperation. Mostly at sentences like 'The first time I saw a finger-bowl was at the home of my benefactress' (giving Sylvia Plath some credit, it must've taken an incredible literary talent to have written that in earnest), but also because thus far it's striking me as impossibly bourgeois, pretentious, shallow masquerading as deep, and utterly self-obsessed. And then after a second, I start to think 'Oh Christ, is that what listening to me is like?'.

This is a problem with misanthropy. Start believing that people are fundamentally some variation on a theme of venal, corrupt, bigoted, violent, conceited, hopeless sickening bastards*, and you have to include yourself in one or all of those categories too. Otherwise, you're just being hypocritical. You could probably add 'hypocritical' to the list as well, come to think of it, but that's just a little bit too meta for me at the moment.
It also strikes me that I don't really know how to deal with people. That's not dislike or even contempt, more outright fear. I can go through the motions OK, when I put my mind to it, but a lot of the time I find it hard to like people, care about them, understand them, make any kind of commitment to them. And all of that goes double for myself. I don't really like that part of me. In point of fact, I hate it. Misanthropy isn't a fashion accessory for me. It's part of a grab-bag of neuroses that comprise something that looks like a personality from a distance.
Mind you, I don't think I'm wrong about people. But maybe the trick is to be able to see all of the fucked-up repugnant shit people unleash upon the world, themselves and each other, and still be able to believe the in the best of human nature. I suspect that particular feat of mental gymnastics is always going to be beyond me, though.
I'm a little bit fucked physically at the moment, too, and not in the good way. Occasional bouts of mental weirdness that are hard to describe. I start to feel wildly dissociated from everything. Slightly nauseous, too, with a strange sort of empty feeling; the best I can describe that last part as would be a headache, but stranger. That's rather underselling it, though. Things start to seem a little unreal, and that's a scary prospect.

The paranoia doesn't help. All the miscellaneous aches and pains and shakes that come with a pack-a-day nicotine habit and a caffeine, sugar and alcohol rollercoaster are immediately indicative of having caught some horrific disease or condition (neuroses of mine; it goes a long way back - probably something to do with scary experiences in hospitals with childhood epilepsy). What's really getting to me at the moment, though, is a more existential version of the same. I start to worry that I'm losing my grip on reality. Start thinking about schizophrenia. I can't really seem to shake off the feeling that something is going badly wrong. I'm familiar with the wonderful 'feelings of impending doom' that come with panic attacks, but this is different somehow. A sort of low-level fear and trembling sort of thing.
I haven't been sleeping, not really, and when I do it's at odd hours, days apart. I wake up in the middle of the afternoon, covered in sweat, shaking, with horrible images of rotting flesh in my head. That can't be normal, although it's not exactly news, either.
I don't really know what to make of all this. I hope it's just stress. That things will be better with a fresh start. I'm almost starting to fetishise stuff to put in a new flat. The strangest things, too. Aluminium giraffes, for fuck's sake. Bookends. Tat. It's the IKEA generation, taken to its logical conclusion; hold onto your self-identity with objets d'art. Maybe it's about control**. Having a space that's definably mine, to do what I want with. That would certainly explain the bewildering desire for a big mahogany Edwardian desk with a lot of drawers that lock. I don't even have anything that needs protecting or hiding like that, except maybe myself. I feel vaguely ashamed of having elevated materialistic, aspirational 'lifestyle-building' to an art form like this, but at the moment it feels like something to hang onto. 'I am a human being. I know this because I own an interestingly art deco set of coffee spoons'.
But right now, what I need is an anchor. Metaphorically, not literally. Even I'm not that kitsch. And if that means measuring out my life in coffee spoons, so be it.

* If you grew up Catholic, you might reasonably call that original sin. Me, I call it human nature.
** Someday I will write a big long blog post about BDSM, and what it says about my incredible level of fucked-upness that I need it in my sex life, and how as with cutting, pain becomes something of a tethering element.

Friday, 18 June 2010

That's Me In The Spotlight

'You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you.
This is not the worst thing that can happen.'
Ah, religion. Well, this shouldn't cause any controversy or anything. But I'm not a complete idiot, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Behind my sarcastic-bastard atheism, I can still respect the idea. Religious faith is human nature; we need to be observed and judged on our actions, and it's easier and more believable to ascribe that to gods and prophets than it is to think of it as a kind of narcissism; the fundamental vanity of thinking that anything we do matters on any kind of a universal scale. And for all the dogma, intolerance and bigotry, it's still asking fundamental questions about the nature of life, the universe and everything, and the basic message of just about any religious doctrine you care to name is always some variation on 'be excellent to each other'. So, I can get behind that much at least. Faith, to me, embodies some of the best and worst facets of human nature. You don't need me to tell you about the bad parts. But it also gives people something to aspire to, an at least nominal drive to build a better world, and that's one of the noblest parts of humanity.

Or so plenty of people have asked themselves, over the years. It doesn't help that people on some level have a need for some kind of tangible authority, I think. For most people (i.e. non-schizophrenics), it's hard to get a direct message out of a god who doesn't show up. He nice, the Jesus, but if some visible dude in a funny hat gets up on a platform and starts talking at you, you're going to tend to listen to him instead. Which brings me to Benny Hinn.

Yes, this is a real thing.
Probably better not to ask.

If you don't know him, he's essentially a televangelist, who amongst other things, makes amusingly inaccurate predictions about the fate of the world:
Jesus is coming again within the next two years.
- Benny Hinn, 1997

Jesus Christ will appear with me on the platform...
- Benny Hinn, 2000
And does 'faith healing', via the unusual expedient of knocking people over and shouting at them in a weird, borderline-dadaist accent only found in Canadian-Israelis and Scottish drunks:

So he's a charlatan. A pretty talented one, I should say, with a knowledge of stagecraft and a very fine example of the ubiquitous white suit and pompadour look. And it's also quite funny to watch, in a horrific kind of way. These are adults, after all, and if they want to pay for the privilege of being pushed off their chair by a vituperative orange shyster in the name of Jesus, that's their own personal lunacy. But what shouldn't surprise anyone who's seen Jesus Camp, is that people bring their kids to these things. This verges from horrifically uncomfortable to bizarrely funny:

It gets even worse once you look at the numbers, and see that this guy's ministry takes in over $200 million a year. Which is a lot of money to push people over. I'd like to say that this is one of those uniquely American phenomenons, like spray-on cheese, but Hinn and people like him take their respective travelling circuses all over the world, and in particular have a huge audience in Africa. It's really not too hard to draw a line from this kind of con artist, through the evangelical movement and the activities of groups like the amazingly-sinister-sounding Family to a whole wave of Very Bad Things happening in Africa, in particular Uganda. Of course, other denominations are just as guilty of this (why would you trust a man who's taken a vow of celibacy to tell you about the morality of contraception?), but evangelical Protestantism is probably the worst offender in my mind. I'm sure it gives a lot of people solace, but when you're spewing bigotry, intolerance and lies to all four corners of the earth for money, you can't expect people not to call bullshit. Oh, and just in case I didn't have enough reason to be scornful, it turns out demons and witches make you cut yourself:

This is, needless to say, tremendously depressing. Not to mention taking advantage of deeply vulnerable people for financial gain. I get weirdly protective of self-harmers as a group sometimes, which is odd considering how free I feel to mock them at others. But to quote a very wise man, I'm the captain of this leaking, half-sunk failboat, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give this fucker a pass. Mental health care as it stands now is complicated, fuzzy, and sometimes outright useless. But a lot of the time, it actually works. And in the words of MC Hawking, what we need more of is science.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


By this point, I'm pretty much out of the Socialist Party. Mostly I just stopped going to meetings and answering phone calls, which is pretty much a pattern I'm used to by now. I think we can chalk it up to a combination of laziness and a distinct feeling of wasting my time. It turns out I'm not actually a very good idealist. However, I'm still on all the mailing lists, which means my inbox is periodically filled with various party things. Sometimes they're worth a look. In this case, this one'd be a very good reason to ditch the party, even if I hadn't already:
As many of you will already have heard, the racist EDL have decided to “hit” Tower Hamlets on 20th June [They've now called it off, which is why I'm posting this.]

[Blah blah blah various theory bits]

We are now participating in a broad local campaign United East End, set up to organise a massive community and trade union demonstration on Sunday 20th June. Unfortunately, the SWP and UAF are playing a central role in this which means there is no class content to their statements and Tories are on the platform of the rally they have organised for the Sunday before (this Sunday)! Nonetheless they have been forced to co-operate with other local forces [emphasis mine]

I mean, seriously. The nazis come to Tower Hamlets, and you're complaining about being on the same platform as the SWP? The mind boggles. The Tories I can half understand, given how they've been quite happy to use racism (tacit or otherwise) as an electoral tool, but the SWP? And UAF? Jesus. And we wonder why the British left can never seem to put up a united front. Petty, territorial bickering of the worst kind.
And as for the EDL, I'll leave it for Batman to tell it like it is.