The Bona Lisa

Posted in Art, Humour with tags , , , on June 6, 2010 by zombiebacon

What do you get when you combine the genius of Leonard da Vinci and an icon of camp British humour?

THE BONA LISA

Yes, Kenneth Williams (The Carry On… films, Round The Horne) meets The Mona Lisa in my new mash-up. The name “Bona Lisa” is a pun, reflecting the title of the original and a catch-phrase used by Williams which comes from Polari (gay slang).

How bona to vada his eek, indeed.

Drugs Policy? Let’s Be Frank* Rather Than Talk To Him

Posted in culture, morality, news, opinion, science, society, topical with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by zombiebacon

I don’t think there are many more contentious issue today in the UK than drugs and their usage. Note I didn’t say ‘MIS-usage’ or ‘abuse’ as many articles in the Media do when referring to drugs, simply because those are loaded terms and give anything but an impartial arena to discuss the issue sensibly and dispassionately.

But it’s not really journalists’ fault – apart from a fear of thinking on their own and automatically backing the status quo – that discussions concerning narcotics are so one-sided and irrational you’d be forgiven for thinking the main players (I.E. representatives of the Government) are all high on something.

The term ‘drug’ is so politically-charged and distorted with pre-existing socially-constructed connotations that it is nigh on impossible to give drug policy a fair debate. Criticise existing drug policy and you find yourself condemned by MPS, support groups, newspapers and the families of victims that they have in their contact books.

In fact, there are only two ways not to come under fire when discussing drugs. One, agree with the current legislation or two, say it could be more draconian still.

Is that in any way fair? Is that how we in a so-called democracy think debate is to be conducted: With A Priori assumptions so canon that ‘Thou Shalt Not Roll Blunts’ is to be included in the revised edition of the 10 Commandments?

Imagine any other issue being so heavily weighed against – in the 21st century I must add, because in Man’s torturous history there are countless examples of such partisan ways of thinking – slavery being one; evolution another.

But that’s the way things are at the moment and the latest example is the vilification of a senior adviser to the Government on the thorny issue of ecstasy and re-classification (don’t wait for the polity’s findings as I can tell you now nothing will happen regards re-classification, except perhaps a boosting to a newly-created class A+).

Poor Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), is being attacked for daring to say something that isn’t on the party line: That taking ecstasy is inherently no more dangerous than riding a horse.

His comments aren’t pre-formed as he’s a scientist and is just going on research to formulate them. He has no vested interests in promoting drug taking but unfortunately he failed to remember that whatever the evidence drugs are WRONG, both morally and criminally.

However, it does make me wonder why drugs are so wrong when the health risks can be no greater than other social activities as long as the user has the right education on how to handle them and access to an unadulterated source (free of the muck drug-pushers routinely put in them to save resources and maximise profit).

How can the Government justify what they say about drugs? It might be risky taking a pill when you don’t know where it’s come from or how to use it safely, but then again it’s just as risky riding a horse when the saddle has been bought black-market and you’ve been given no riding lessons beforehand. Yet you don’t see police forces swooping down on dodgy stables even if there are such things.

Why? Because it’s not recognised as criminal. At best you can hope for the redress of tort law as it’s a case of a failure on an individual’s part to another individual, not a crime against the state as a whole.

Then again an individual smoking pot is now seen as a criminal offence so who knows what constitutes what these days. How people choosing to do something to themselves in the comfort of their own homes is ‘criminal’ is beyond me. It reminds me of a less enlightened time when sucicide was seen as a crime, punishable by death (oh, the irony).

It all boils down to what right the Government has to intrude into our privacy on matters of morality. Because any other argument for keeping (most) drugs illicit just falls flat.

They’re bad for your health! Legalise them and make sure you only supply through official channels so the recipient gets only the safest types. Do it prescription-only and guarantee to know exactly who’s doing what and how it’s affecting them.

Drugs sold on the black market fund crime! Legalise and you remove the incentive for organised crime to get involved. They only make huge profits because of the age-old economic law of ‘supply and demand’. Instead the money could go back into the Government’s pot and be spent on worthy things such as health and education.

They’re bad… because they are! Hmm, many societies used drugs as ways to expand consciousness and/or chill out. Why must a right to freedom of thought naturally exclude a right to mode of thinking. And IF it should (just because) then I expect tea, coffee, nicotine, alcohol, exercise and sex to be banned swiftly as they change the brain chemistry – and therefore our perceptions – as well.

I’m not asking for everything to be legalised. I’m not even asking for cannabis to be stocked at my local off-licence. All I want is the right to be treated as an adult, a voter with a stake in the state and a say in it’s running, and a moral animal who ISN’T automatically a felon is he chooses once in a while to forsake a pint and have a joint instead.

(*N.B. ‘Frank’ is a drugs-awareness organisation)

Living On A Prayer

Posted in atheism, Christianity, Humour, news, opinion, religion, satire, topical with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by zombiebacon

There’s a big hoo-hah at the moment, as usual media-fuelled, over the suspension of an NHS nurse because she offered to pray for someone’s recovery.

The person at the centre of this religious storm is community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, who asked a patient in her 70s if she would like a good word put in on her behalf to the big medic in the sky.

The patient complained to her health trust and nurse Petrie is now awaiting the outcome  of a disciplinary meeting.

Petrie seems to think, by her involvement of the Christian Legal Centre, that  it’s an infringement of her right to religious freedom to be suspended for doing something so charitable as praying to an elderly sick woman.

WRONG. This has got nothing to do with religious freedom. It’s about good, and by good I mean professional, not moral, medical practice. Simple as that. Nothing more to be said. Period.

This nurse has clearly overstepped her mark (plus Matthew, Luke and John) by, in effect, offering the patient an extra, non-prescribed form of treatment for her ailments. Forget the ‘Christian’ tag for a moment and consider what sort of reaction there would have been if Petrie had offered snake oil or some other untested remedy instead.

‘I believe eating buttered earwigs helped cure my ills and thought it might have been of some benefit to the old dear,’ she might have told the Sun reporter afterwards, before he slowly backed away and found another fuzzier no-brainer story to exploit instead.

Petrie really believes God’s will can have an effect on a patient’s health EVEN THOUGH there’s not one bit of medical proof attesting to this, apart from the placebo effect. If that was the aim then surely a sugar pill would have left a better taste in the patient’s mouth?

If God is ‘cure’ to Petrie than how does she understand medicine and disease? Is cancer Satan’s work, and what about AIDS? There are some Christians who argue it’s a plague from God, who in his early days seems to have had a dislike of gay people for some odd reason. Maybe they didn’t fancy him.

If you abandon, even slightly, the scientific basis of pathology and treatment then you find yourself with huge paradoxes inherent in religion  such as how can a loving God stand by and allow people to be consumed by plagues? In fact Petrie go check your Bible (next to Gray’s Anatomy on your bookshelf) and discover just how many nasty diseases the deity you’re praying to has sent down upon the peoples of the Earth.

So that’s why she’s suspended: Because it’s not accepted medical practice, well not since the Middle Ages, to pray for a cure. It’s not because she’s a Christian, though I think her being Christian is important to the news stories with their western-orientated culture bias. I don’t think ‘Struck Off for Offering to Slaughter Chicken’ (about a voodoo-practicing district nurse) would go down quite as well.

And finally, if we’re talking about religious freedom then how about the right to be free of religion? The complainant in this case didn’t like proselytising, however mild, and neither do I. If I go to a garage I expect a car to be fixed and if I go to a restaurant I hope to be offered delicious food. With neither do I want an added mumbo-jumbo service, gratis or otherwise. You want to hear people talking about a Christian God? Go To Church. That’s what it’s there for.

And if a vicar offers to give you keyhole surgery after praying for your salvation, politely refuse and contact the nearest authorities.

Click Heaven Help Us to read the BBC news story.

No More Hiding Behind A Smoke Screen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2009 by zombiebacon

I’m currently involved in the hardest battle of my life. It’s a war I can never win but one where I will, if I’m lucky, reach a draw.

Even reporting from the front is difficult, let alone fighting at the same time, because my enemy controls supplies so vital to the maintenance of my forces. Every day my side is weaker while the foe maintains itself without injury.

This isn’t a war on terror though. It’s a war on pleasure. Or perceived pleasure.

Because I’ve just quit smoking.

It’s been three days now since they left my life – those, those smooth darlings of nicotine heaven – and I’m crumbling like a jilted lover.

All I can think about are cigs, if I can even think anymore. To be honest I’m not sure I can. My brain feels like it’s being sucked out my nostrils very slowly.

I feel stupid – like someone has come along and knocked my IQ in half – and the quick thinking I used to be known for is no-where to be seen. I can still do wit, but only half of what I used to be able.

I don’t even know where this blog entry is going. Without the false cool of cigs I’m becoming an emotional, irrational wreck.

But I now recognise that cigarettes, and tobacco itself (so no hand-rolled is healthier argument can stand), are BAD for me.

With cigs there are all those extra additives that make smoking more addictive than shooting heroin but with all smoking there are the damaging chemicals produced by pyrolysis (the burning of tobacco) that smokers suck down into their soft, vulnerable lungs.

* Yes, I’m now getting angry with the design of lungs for not being man enough to take all the chemicals cigs throw at them. Nicotine withdrawal does have a habit of making one rather unreasonable. *

So for my health’s sake I’ve quit and without the smoke screen to blind me, I see just how nasty tobacco really is. It’s made me it’s bitch and I’m missing being punished soooo much.

I’m not preaching though. It seems when someone quits they either become fat or a prig. Or both.

There’s no smugness here when I watch someone light up. Just cold sweats and an almost uncontrollable desire to snatch the cigarette for myself at ANY cost.

It’s up to the individual to decide to quit. I’ve known of the dangers of smoking for ages but tried every argument and excuse to justify continuing getting my nicotine hit. Now I think I really do want to give up.

I’ve gone cold turkey and only time will tell if I succeed.

Wish me luck, and smoke ’em if you’ve got them.

Young At Hearts

Posted in Humour, news, satire, science with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by zombiebacon

Sinced the time the first single-celled organisms (such as President Bush) decided to stop reproducing asexually and have a bit of fun, there’s been an odd thing called LOVE.

To some it’s the best feeling in the world, to others an endless source of misery and woe; but to everyone it’s been a mystery.

How many times have you heard someone say ‘I can’t believe he/she’s with her/him/it’? If love was fathomable then expressions such as ‘love is blind’ and ‘beauty’s in the eye of the beholder’ would be meaningless – because we’d all be able to do the maths and work out why one plus one equals two. Or, later on down the road, three or four.

Poets, artists and musicians wax lyrical about it but press them to explain what the hell they’re on about and they’ll probably come up with such rubbish as ‘love is ineffable’ and ‘beyond explanation’, which kind of makes the whole effort of putting their ‘thoughts’ on the subject down on paper, disk or canvas pointless.

Thankfully, there’s another avenue we can go down to explain what love is. It’s called ‘science’, but really science is just a name for the process of rational investigation to bring understanding.

Everything in our lives should be done, in this sense of the word, scientifically. You wouldn’t drive a car without learning how it works, or eat anything that takes your eye and trust to faith you wouldn’t get poisoned.

The same should apply to love, because, to quote a bad ’80s pop tune, it ‘changes, changes everything’. Bad love can be worse for you than tucking into a steaming bowl of salmonella.

Larry Young, a professor of neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has had the nerve to examine love scientifically, and his conclusion is very interesting.

He argues that love can be explained by a series of neurochemical events in the brain.

“It’s just that when we experience these emotions they are so rich we can’t imagine that they are just a series of chemical events,” says Dr Young.

You can read the full article here for the actual science. What I find fascinating are the implications.

Such a reductionist approach might take the romance out of love but it sure is refreshing.

Basically our beloveds are doping us to the eye-balls until we can’t think straight.

Which is why so many lives go unfulfilled in terms of experience. We don’t care that we’re missing all the other rides in the fairground because the Roller-coaster’s providing such a buzz.

Far better to get off and try something else. You’ll still get a kick as nature’s wired your brain to provide it. Maybe the Dodgems would be an apt choice.

Bad love would be cured and people could have a legitimately acceptable choice in life. Get married and slowly become immune to the drug OR sod ’em all and become a emotion junkie.

After all, nature is only trying to trick us in to putting all our baskets into one egg.

“Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species” – W. Somerset Maugham

Then, when the body is too frazzled to take the constant highs, you could finally settle down for one last baby-making chemical romance, satisfied in the knowledge you’d have some great memories to take to the grave.


Morris Men Face Extinction

Posted in culture, Humour, satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2009 by zombiebacon

Forget the plight of pandas, struggle of Sumatran tigers or foreboding of polar bears feeling the heat of climate change. There’s another noble beast balancing on the precipice of extinction…

The morris dancer.

According to national association the Morris Ring, village greens could be devoid of morris dancers within 20 years if action isn’t taken soon.

The unforgettable sights and sounds of full-grown men whacking sticks and jangling bells around a huge erection could be consigned to the history books forever – because today’s youf find it all a bit embarrassing.

Charlie Corcoran, bagman (secretary) of the Morris Ring, told BBC News: “There’s a distinct possibility that in 20 years’ time there will be nobody left.

“It worries me a great deal. Young people are just too embarrassed to take part.

“This is a serious situation. The average age of Morris dancing sides is getting older and older.

“Once we’ve lost this part of our culture, it will be almost impossible to revive it.”

For some strange reason young people think tying ribbons to their legs and waving hankies around to celebrate the collective rebirth of seasonal horniness isn’t cool anymore.

They’d rather head down to a club than bang a fellow dancer’s head with one.

Being brutally honest, it isn’t really surprising they should feel this way. Compared to other countries’ folk traditions, such as the intimidating Haka of the Maori or the sexiness of the Hawaiian Hula, the morris dance is shown up as the embodiment of naffness.

Beardie old goats prancing around a pole to suggest fertility is on the same cultural level as innuendo in a Carry On film. Without the laughs.

Maybe we would be doing ourselves a favour by allowing morris dancing as it is to die. Replacing it with an annual Carry On-themed ritual to herald in summer might make the world think better of us.

Or how about a Benny Hill-style chase around the common with such stock characters as the blond bikini-clad bimbo,  dirty old man with a walking stick, nurse and policeman running around to the theme of Yakety Sax.

American tourists would flock over in droves to witness such a spectacle.

I, for one, would sign up to take part straight away. It would be hilarious and the perfect way to let off all that seasonal steam.

Of course none of us would get the girls – but with the strange attire of morris men hasn’t that always been the case?

Click on the video below to get an idea of how cool morris dancing really could be…

An Unearthly Child?

Posted in doctor who, TV with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by zombiebacon

After months of speculation that the new Doctor Who would be a woman, coloured person or a dwarf, the choice was finally revealed on Saturday.

Matt Smith, a relative unknown, has made history by becoming the youngest actor to take on the role in the series’ 46-year history. At 26 he’s a baby compared to predecessors such as William Hartnell (55), Jon Pertwee (51), Patrick Troughton (46), Sylvester McCoy (44), and Tom Baker (40).

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Before him the freshest face to inhabit the TARDIS was Peter Davidson, who took the role on at 29.

Looking on the various Doctor Who forums it seems many ‘Whovians’ (Who-geeks like myself) fear 26 is too young to do justice to the character.

They complain of ageism, which admittedly is becoming more common on TV, and a cynical attempt to appeal to the younger viewers rather than pick the best man, or woman, or dwarf, for the job.

There are some roles where age matters. Gandalf in Lord of the Rings would have seemed odd played by Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Ian McKellen just wouldn’t have fitted in at Hogwarts.

But the GREAT thing about the Doctor is that he can regenerate into anybody. One of his companions, Time Lady Romana, tried quite a few bodies before settling on Lalla Ward – including an alien. And if we are being pedantic then it would be hard for ANY actor to fill the Doctor’s boots, considering he’s supposed to be over 900 years old.

The fact Matt Smith beat a host of talented actors to be named the 11th Doctor should be all we need to know. He’s obviously got the Who-factor (looks and mannerisms) and we should trust the producers to bring us the most suitable candidate. Unless their criteria was number of wrinkles.

So what if he’s 26. He’s an actor – he can fit into the part because the part is so open to change. In addition he brings youthful enthusiasm and no baggage.

More important than the amount of candles on Matt’s birthday cake are the quality of the scripts and the vision of lead writer/executive producer Steven Moffat who will be taking charge of series five in 2010.

Considering Moffat’s previous work – including some of the series’ best episodes such as Blink and Girl in the Fireplace – I think the show is in safe hands. And if anyone is still moaning about age then they should remember Moffat’s pushing 50 so he can pass down his worldly wisdom via the scripts and out the Doctor’s mouth.

In fact it’s a great combination: youth and age combined in one character. Personally, I can’t wait for Matt to lead Doctor Who in a new and exciting direction.

For more on how the Matt Smith era might shape up, visit the TV Squad blog.

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