Dec 032012
 

Ordinarily, I post these as they are … this time, I need to pass comment. For reasons which I understand, though with which I vehemently disagree, the editors of Gscene chose not to publish my article as originally submitted, even after having requested substantiation of my comments and claims. While they are understandably hesitant to invite legal challenge, I care not. Therefore, I present the original text I submitted, along with the actual published article, with particular attention being drawn to my paragraph relating to the “roman catholic church” – which I did not capitalise for a reason, the content of which has been diluted so far that it’s practically homeopathic and which offends me in its insipidness, and also to the paragraph regarding islam, again neutered like a bad dog, and this time edited so that it no longer even makes sense!

 

 

Canada Dry

And so man* created gods in his image. Unfortunately, that image is a jealous, violent, ill-educated, petty, belligerent, cruel and evil one. Not the better angels of our nature by any means.

Am I being unfair? Intemperate? I don’t think so … I can think of nothing that has caused more misery, suffering, hatred, distress, death or disfigurement in the whole of human history. Religion has – not just permitted, but – required; slavery, objectification of women, vilification of those of other or no religion, wars of aggression, loathing, ethnic cleansing, beating and murder of homosexuals, beating and subjugation of children, racism, cruel – nay criminal – mutilation of genitalia, xenophobia … the list is practically endless. No other aberration of reason and humanity can make such expansive and loathsome claims.

Born in the time of our utter ignorance of everything, offering facile (and fraudulent) claims to answer the difficult questions of existence, presenting false, shallow solace to those who are in pain, salving the pricked ego of those who’ve considered the possibility of “no more me”, religion has absolutely nothing going for it, save vague concepts of tradition, comfort and respect.

The leader of the roman catholic church is the criminal head of the world’s largest paedophile ring and protection racket; it’s only the mantle of religion, claiming as it does incomparable privilege and exemptions, which prevents this vile subhuman monster facing the punishment for his decades of crimes against humanity.

Those of the muslim faith, calling for the death of (admittedly rather bad) filmmakers and their supporters, stoning gays, throwing acid into the faces of women – nay, girls – “suspected” of looking at men in the “wrong” way, baying for the death of people who do nothing more than draw pictures, wallowing in their sheer pig-ignorance; were it not for the “shield of faith” which requires we respect their beliefs, they’d be viewed for what they are – barely more than animals.

In the USA, otherwise normal Americans who shoot and kill doctors in the name of the sanctity of life, previously loving parents who throw out their own children as being “better dead than gay”, a credible candidate for the Presidency who believes in magic underwear and that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel (while an atheist is nigh unelectable); these bizarre, illogical conditions couldn’t exist absent the entrenched, privileged position of religion!

The litany is near endless. Religion makes its hay by valuing and prizing ignorance, eschewing reason and the search for knowledge, refusing to acknowledge that it is a world view, and making pseudo-factual claims about, well, everything and that as such it should be subject to the same evaluation of the evidence as any other such world view. Those of us who adhere to the view that, actually, no, if you believe in the power of intercessory prayer, or that the mind is separate from the brain, or that there is a “part” of you which continues after death, or that evolution is inaccurate, or that the earth is about 6,000 years old, then such beliefs should be challengeable (and challenged!) and tested are told that we are being disrespectful.

Why, yes. Yes, yes we are. Utterly disrespectful. So … what? I suffer at the hands of the brainless being disrespectful towards me; I’m a gay atheist – while there are certainly groups who suffer more disrespect, nonetheless I receive more than sufficient denigration from the religious. Which is their right; I may – and of course do – disagree with their beliefs and attitudes, but their right to hold their pernicious, antediluvian views is something I hold nearly sacred. As is my right to challenge it. Why the road doesn’t run two ways, I do not understand.

Or, perhaps I do. My views stand up to scrutiny, and I am able to defend them using logic; the corollary being that I will change my views if the evidence requires it. The views of the religious are nothing more than wishes and hopes, will o’ the wisp fantasies, castles of credulity, precariously balanced upon foundations of faith. As such, there are no arguments which can reasonably be brought to bear. There is no logical recourse for faith, belief, religion.

Perhaps the greatest mind of recent time speaking on the issue of religion and its maleficent influence in and on the world was, now sadly the late, Christopher Hitchens. A couple of his quotes may serve in a few words to state what I’ve tried to say in many:

“I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion, and organised religion.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

My own modest attempt at a pithy epithet: “Religion is the single greatest crime we have committed against ourselves.

 

So, to conclude, no, “jesus” most assuredly does not have a place in my heart, and religion can take a long walk of a non-existent pier; you can take “christmas” and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine; I’ll see my family around that time, because it’s nice to do so, and let’s face it, there’s nothing else to do anyway. But, religion?  Keep the fairy tales for the children, and let’s all grow the fuck up.

*Sexist pronoun excused on basis of poetic requirement.

 

 

 

 

 GScene - December 2012 - Canada Dry - Religion

 

Nov 182012
 

I highly recommend you pop over to “Inside Greg’s Brain” and have a read. It belongs to my friend Greg Cox, and he’s a lovely young chap; intelligent, educated – and striving to be more so – interested in the world in a variety of aspects and with a range of things to say on a variety of topics.

If that’s not enough, he’s also very cute, and soon to get braces . . .

Oct 232012
 

Yesterday was the first time in far too long that I went to the theatre. It was also utterly convincing that I should go more often – what an utterly brilliant way to reintroduce myself to “cultcha”.

Having been introduced to Fascinating Aïda some six months ago or so, I was naturally already enamoured of them. If you’re not yet au fait, I highly recommend you familiarise yourself with them. Nonetheless, I had never seen them live.

Led by the utterly magnificent Dillie Keane, whose near 30 years at the helm don’t show at all, drives the troupe and the audience as one with a force and exuberance which belie her age, and shows how very “down with the kids” she actually is, throughout the 2 hours or so of the performance. Given her age, oeuvre and style, it is perhaps an unavoidable comparison, but her style is highly reminiscent of Victoria Wood. A woman of a certain age, sitting at a piano, singing satirically? Yeah, that’s Victoria Wood. Add in a wonderfully broad, rich vocabulary and a wonderful assumption that her audience will follow and understand what’s being said (rather than dumbing down and speaking to the lowest common denominator, as is so often the case) and the comparison becomes more cemented.

Yet, this is *not* Victoria Wood, rather a completely different experience. Dillie Keane is utterly and unapologetically Dillie Keane, and nobody else could be her. Her linguistic and pianistic dexterity are of an ilk with the marvellous Tim Minchin, and the subtle world-weariness and cynicism are completely in keeping with his work; however, whereas Minchin has a definite agenda, and message to impart (which is not in an wise a bad thing!), Keane is more sardonically observing and commenting, pointing out the insanity and hilarity of existence, touching briefly on its pointlessness though never sinking to depressiveness. Further to this, the content is updated and added to regularly, with portions of the “Bulgarian Folk Songs” last night referring to both the Lance Armstrong fiasco and George Osborne’s encounter with the proles on the train! Wonderful!

Adèle Anderson, the second longest serving (is it a sentence?) member of the group, adds a wonderful counterpoint to Keane’s slightly more polished persona and performance; vocally not the strongest performer, there is yet something wonderfully engaging about the gravelly, harsher aspects to her singing.

The “rotating” member of the troupe, currently Liza (with a ‘zee’) Pulman, complements the two older ladies, with both a youthful exuberance and a truly wondrous soprano voice; were she to star on the stages of the West End, she would seem not one jot out of place. As with Keane, Pulman’s upper class voice, decorous deportment, and slight priggishness (presumably accentuated for the purposes of the persona) contrast deliciously with the sheer filth of the humour of many of the songs (I’m thinking of YOU, Dogging!) adding to the almost guilty-secret of laughing at some of the content.

Were the show to consist solely of satire, that alone would be a joy; yet two of the songs were not at all satirical, rather absolutely touching and moving songs. “Goodbye Old Friends” had genuine tears in my eyes, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more genuine song anywhere.

The group will be touring again next year, for their 30th anniversary, and if you can’t see them before, see them then. Utter joy!

 

Autographed CD cover

 

Aug 062011
 

Content from my post at  Zhoosh:

Well, Pride gets you thinking about various things … giving back to the community … and looking good on the day!

Well, I’ve probably left it a little late for the second part of that, given it’s a week (ish) away now, but the impetus to look good … or be healthier, is still there.

The Goal

So, I’ve decided to try to lose 20kg, and since I’ve been so pathetic at losing weight in the past, I’m using sponsorship, ie the pressure of others, to motivate me more.

You can click through to my sponsorship page at http://www.justgiving.com/Adam-Highway – and I’d appreciate it if you did!

I will be updating the site as I go to keep track of my progress (optimism lives!).

The Cause

The charity I’ve selected to raise money for is the Sussex Beacon.

Please read more about their current appeal on their website, where you will see that it costs £3,000 per day for the running of their medical Inpatient Unit – just one part of the whole organisation! (Even if you help me reach my goal, there will still be £2,500 left to raise on that day alone!!)

As the appeal says, please be a “Beacon Hero” … with annual running costs of £1.1 million, the Beacon needs to raise £150,000 NOW to keep the Inpatient Unit open!

Please, whether you donate through my particular page, or choose to make a regular donation to the Beacon directly, give something!

About the Charity

You can read more about the Sussex Beacon’s various services, including Anxiety Management, Day Services, Inpatient Unit, Mindful Living, Pathways to Change, Positive Choices, Sleep Service and Women & Families Services, on their website.

You can read more about the Breacon’s activities in their newsletters.

 

 

http://blog.zhooshbrighton.co.uk/2011/08/08/sussex-beacon-fundraising/

Jan 292011
 

We first tried The Meadow Restaurant for a Sunday brunch almost two years ago, and it’s remained one of our favourites ever since.

Stylish, in terms of decor and of food, but never putting style over substance. The breakfast/brunch menu was originally quite small, but has subsequently expanded, without compromising any of the pluses which first excited us! My favourite – in any breakfast setting – is a modified Eggs Benedict; sometimes, the modification can lead to problems, whether with the serving staff taking it down correctly, or with the kitchen implementing it properly. At the Meadow, this has never been an issue. Not just that, but the meals have always been wonderfully flavourful, delicately balanced, tasty and – above all – enjoyable.

The ethos of the restaurant is one of local, seasonal food, but without the sanctimony often found accompanying such approaches. The ingredients are of a consistently high standard, the service impeccable, and the ambience relaxed and stylish.

Highly recommended!

Jul 132010
 

Part One …

There are a great many places in Brighton and Hove to eat, that are fabulous, serve excellent food, great service, good value … but where’s the fun in that? So, this is the first in – hopefully – a series of reviews of the terrible, disastrous, cock-ups!

Piccolo Restaurant

We were wandering around, looking for somewhere for a quick lunch, and came across Piccolo’s Restaurant, which seemed like a great deal – a little cheaper than the place next door, good selection of pizzas, in we went. I wish the write-up on their site were true; “The premier Italian restaurant in the heart of Brighton town centre, Piccolo is one of Brighton´s best-kept secrets.”

Perhaps the second part IS in fact true … if it weren’t a secret, it would surely have gone out of business by now!

I ordered a four cheese pizza; Wouter ordered a vegetarian. We ordered a half bottle of wine between us. The wine came, was opened, poured and the (inattentive) waiter buggered off again, without any chance for us to try it; probably intentionally, since the wine – while not corked – was only slightly better than a nice malt vinegar. Yum.

However, we were still optimistically waiting for our pizzas. What a shame …

The pizzas were about 25% smaller in diameter than every other Italian restaurant I’ve ever visited … so, a false economy there already. Still, perhaps the taste would prove worth it.

Oh dear …

The bases were, essentially, dry biscuits! The tomato sauce … was red, but, flavourless. Thin, watery, bland and tasteless.

And my four cheeses … two were visible, one was mozzarella and the other was … PROCESSED CHEESE! Truly awful. Wouter suffered through a bland, tasteless concoction of mushy vegetables, crappy sauce and pointless “cheese”.

Bottom line; don’t go.

Jun 012010
 

Have had so very much to say, that I’ve not been able to select anything in particular to expound upon. So, I haven’t.

A no-particular-order list of things that have been on my mind:

  • David Laws is an utter tit head – you might want to keep your private life private, but that’s not the way to do it – especially since you have no NEED for the money, you should just have claimed nothing, and no-one would have looked into it! Tit!
  • CameronClegg – ugh, it’s sickening, and smug, and I’m still afraid of what it will mean.
  • Labour Leadership – well, I support David Miliband for the leadership, but hope the contest WILL be open and lead to a reinvigoration of the party root and branch.
  • Health – I’m still struggling with getting my asthma under control, but am hopeful that the latest addition to the medication panoply will make a difference. Fingers very much crossed!
  • Life direction – we have possibly reached a decision which will give both of us new direction, but any more than that will have to wait ….
May 052010
 

Best of luck to all … though primarily Labour of course! If any of my Conservative leaning friends/readers would care to sign up for my alarm call service, I’ll be happy to wake you in plenty of time tomorrow for the polls. Really. No, seriously … ;-)

Mar 252010
 

I know, I know … it goes against the received wisdom. We’re supposed to revel and rejoice in the rebirth around us, cautiously emerging from the dark, cold days of Winter, blinkingly staring into a new year’s sun. But it’s precisely that cyclical aspect of it which drags my mood down to the depths, without fail, each and every year. Like Sisyphus, ceaselessly rolling the boulder up the hill to no avail, we trudge on year after year. Whatever promise the onset of Spring and then Summer claim to offer us, the only thing that is really being offered is the arrival of another Winter and then … again … another falsely optimistic Spring. Eternity without the possibility of parole.

This ties into my issues with mortality and religion/spirituality/bullshit. I don’t believe in the soul. And my rock solid certainty in the facts of physics means that I can’t believe in the soul. But more than this, I know that essentially the two options for the universe are contracting back into a point of singularity where time and space cease to exist, rendering the notion of “after” the end of the universe meaningless and nonsensical, or continually expanding forever, long past its heat death, where matter is undifferentiated and energy nonexistent, an eternity of beige.

What has all that got to do with Spring? Well, in my head, everything. Every year it brings back to me the essential pointlessness of it all, and makes it harder and harder for me to strive towards anything knowing that ultimately, however ultimate that point may be, it will result in nothing. The tallest monument, the finest portrait, the most beautiful heart-rending symphony … all of it is meaningless.