Halo Halo / Tiny Tips

Halo Halo!

In Belgium only ten percent of its population now go to church regularly. Dwindling congregations means more socially useful churches. They’re being turned into hotels, breweries, libraries, cultural centres, and night clubs (Yahoo News, 22 June).

Think of the uses they can be put to in socialism.

Capitalism damages your health. So do religious beliefs.

The fanatical kind of American Christian believes that Darwin and evolution science is bunkum. They are convinced and conditioned that the Armageddon is imminent and when the Rapture occurs they will be transported up into heaven leaving the rest of us heathens behind.

Who knows if this involves travelling upwards in a space ship? In 1997 thirty nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide in such a belief.

James Ussher (1581-1656), Armagh Archbishop, working from Genesis decided that the universe was created on Sunday 23 October 4004 BCE. Though apparently he didn’t know what time this occurred.

What’s Intelligent Design? Simply put it’s a denial of natural selection because you know there just has to be a supreme being behind it all. There just has! He/she/they created the dinosaurs and fossils as well, you know. Why? Don’t question the divine plan!

In 1925 a teacher in Tennessee. John Scopes was prosecuted for teaching evolution instead of creationism – the Scopes Monkey Trial. The Discovery Institute, an American think tank, is now offering American home-schooling tutors ‘science’ material ‘from the perspective that nature reflects intelligent design.’

A writer in American Thinker, June 16, ‘argues’ that the birth, development and growth of children, of plants, and of the brain, is incontrovertible evidence of ‘intelligent design’. Maybe he’s descended from one of the prosecutors in the Monkey Trial.

The Reno Gazette Journal, June 1, reports a research centre’s findings that over a third of American parents believe, ‘it’s extremely or very important that their children have similar religious beliefs to their own’. The ‘balance’ in the piece comes from Richard Dawkins’ warning ‘don’t force your beliefs on your children.’ The RGJ asked its panel if parents should ‘pass along’ their religion to their children. Their panel consisted of: a rabbi, a Bahá’í, a pastor, a Muslim, a bishop, a Buddhist, and a Mormon. Bet you can’t guess what they all thought?

A scene in the 1979 Monty Python film, Life of Brian, satirises the absurdity of someone being stoned simply for uttering the name, Jehovah. To paraphrase Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo, ‘Infamy, infamy!’ Blasphemy, blasphemy. However, this is no laughing matter. In certain dominions the accusation alone can result in death.

‘Succumbing to the demands of a radical Islamist party, the Pakistan government has agreed to try blasphemy suspects under terrorism charges in addition to the other sections of the country’s penal code (Rediff.com, 18 June).

Twelve months ago a vicar was discovered, in a public place, having ‘relationships’ with a Henry hoover. Sexual proclivities are entirely a personal matter. Disseminating fairy stories is far more harmful.


Tiny Tips

Klimt’s Lady with a Fan, which became the most expensive work of art sold in Europe. The portrait of an anonymous woman, also known as Dame mit Fächer, fetched £85.3 million from a Hong Kong collector at Sotheby’s auction house in London (tinyurl.com/279ubrrk).

Mecca pilgrimages are a major source of income for Saudi Arabia, which is embarking on an ambitious plan to overhaul its largely oil-dependent economy. The hajj and year-round umrah rituals generate an estimated $12 billion annually (tinyurl.com/4cem98ej).

The most tantalizing feature of the ancient Indus Valley remains is what they appear to lack: any trace of a ruling class or managerial elite. This defies the longtime theoretical assumption that any complex society must have stratified social relations: that collective action, urbanization, and economic specialization only develop in a very unequal culture that takes direction from the top, and that all social trajectories evolve toward a common and universal outcome, the state. Yet, here was a stable, prosperous civilization that appeared to remain that way for centuries without a state, without priest-kings or merchant oligarchs, and without a rigid caste system or warrior class. How did they manage it? (tinyurl.com/2ewf2run).

Decades of social mobility research has come to the same conclusion: we are born into an economic caste system and our future success is largely determined by our parents’ income and by the nature of the neighbourhoods in which we grow up. Race is not the determining social factor in individual success: it is, at best, a poor proxy for the real causes. Privilege is very real. But it’s based on class, not race (tinyurl.com/4sr9cudz).

The state that absurdly claims descent from the ideas of Marx and Engels anachronistically boasts of 969 billionaires, putting even the epicentre of capitalism in the shade (691 billionaires in the US)… Workers’ democracy was never part of the agenda under Mao or any of his successors in the new People’s Republic. The post-1949 regime would evolve into a state-capitalist formation, paying lip service to Marxism but primarily committed to making China a self-sufficient state that could ultimately compete with the other great powers (tinyurl.com/mr24kzye).

‘The Russian Revolution’ is something of a misnomer as, strictly speaking, there were two such eruptions in 1917: a genuine, spontaneous revolution in February, and the planned coup d’etat by the Bolsheviks in October that founded the Soviet state… It was Lenin, not Stalin, who founded the Cheka (the secret police), who first extorted grain from starving peasants and insisted that revolutions could only be made by firing squads. The machinery of repression and mass murder was in place by the time he died in 1924. All Stalin had to do was use it (tinyurl.com/yc3dkb4b).

Zelensky has banned opposition political parties
He arrested political opponents
He banned all unfriendly media
He shut down Orthodox churches
And now there will be no Presidential election next year
At what point we call him what he is?
A dictator (tinyurl.com/2t469msb).

Next article: Material World – No Borders! ➤

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