Sunday 20 November 2011

Christ has a Great Deal of Mass

As most of you will already know, I’m currently a university student who is married.

During the course of my various adventures I often run into other university students who’re surprised by my marital status.

Some of them believe that marriage is an outdated and sexist institution.

Some of them ask me why I’m married.

Firstly, I like this question. 

There’s nothing more annoying than when someone obviously opposes your views, but won’t challenge them, so you don’t have an opportunity to argue your case. 
They just kind of look at you as though you’d just pooped your pants and say “That’s nice.”

This will often happen at art school when you say you’d like to write Science Fiction graphic novels.

Furthermore, even if you’re never going to change someone else’s opinion on a matter, it does get you thinking about your own perspectives and how best to communicate them. 
It doesn’t have to get personal, it’s simply a mental exercise.  In fact, if you feel angry it’s probably because deep down you’re unsure of your position, and need to think on it.
Remember, the Buddhist monk doesn’t lose his shit when someone can’t comprehend him.  Even in the face of great hipsterity.

So getting back, the answer that I’ve devised to “Why did you get married?” is this:

For the same reasons that we celebrate Christmas.

Some people believe that marriage is based on the outdated values of Christianity, and that anyone who gets married will immediately adopt sexism into their daily routine.
This is not true.

A wedding has nothing to do with religion because it is a social tradition, just like Christmas.

Christmas has got to be the most historically religious celebration of our culture, but does that mean that you must be Christian to celebrate it? That the only form of celebration is to sit in wooden pews and murmur to each other about how holy you are? Of course not.
This is proven a billion times over every year.

Just because the history of our culture is based in Christianity doesn’t mean that every tradition older than your Grandpa is restricted to those who still practice the religion.

People can celebrate however they want to.  Most of them get together with their family and use food and alcohol to grind away social walls until they can safely admit that they love each other.

A wedding is exactly the same. 
It’s about getting all your pals together and letting them know how much of a babe you find your partner to be.

Some feel that they shouldn’t have to pay money to the government to acknowledge the validity of their relationship, but again, surely Christmas is much more of a rip-off.

But who among us doesn’t enjoy buying and receiving a bunch of crap each year that we don’t really need.  It’s no secret that this consumer frenzy buoys the entire economy, but even the most cynical of new-wave hipster is unlikely to scoff at the chance to get both pissed and a new scarf.

A wedding ceremony does generally tend to include a bunch of vows and passages from the Christian persuasion, but again, so does Christmas.
I’ve been known to sing along to a ‘Hark the Herald Angel Sing’, but what I don’t do is stand on the table and shout
“Hey everyone, I think I can hear one of God’s messenger bird/humans telling me something!”

Why is this? Because some time in the intervening centuries, those words, just like the celebrations themselves, have been reappropriated as a social tradition.

So that’s a bunch of explaining and if you need more you can probably figure it out yourself, it’s not that difficult. 

Which brings me to the other issue of marriage.

It turns out that homosexuals want to be included in the human race all of a sudden.

Now we all know there’s plenty of evidence that if gay people were allowed to marry there’d be planes falling out of the sky, computers shooting children and rivers exploding.

Why? Well, because marriage is obviously owned by Christianity, and seeing as there’s new evidence that weddings are a lot like Christmas, I propose we don’t allow gay people to celebrate that either.

They can participate in Civil Seasons Celebrations if they must, but certainly not in the presence of the intelligent and attractive class of people we know as heterosexuals.

But seriously, what the fuck?

Sunday 13 November 2011

What's that art?!

There’s many things that have (theoretically) the same function of art in our society, so why aren’t they called art?  They should be. 

So in honour of this broadening of the definition of art, get ready to play...

What’s that art?

(Not to be confused with “What’s that, art?” a phrase often heard when viewing vomit in a Melbourne alley.  Nor “What’s that, Art?” a phrase often posed when trying to understand Art Gurfunkel.”)

This artwork was created by Felix Hoffman in 1897.  The public immediately found that experiencing the artwork caused them such a deep sense of love and euphoria, that once a person had experienced it a few times it started to become the only thing in the world that they cared about. 
Owing to the addictive quality of the artwork it was banned in 1914, however to this day many people still find ways to experience it.
When the composition of the artwork is altered even slightly, these alterations can cause a large number of serious problems for the audience, and many people today believe that these complications are inherent in the original artwork.  However this is not the case.  The original artwork remains banned solely on the basis of it causing such an incredible experience, that society could not function if it was given full access.

Even whilst banned there have been many works of visual, audio and cinematic art that pay tribute to Hoffman’s wonderful creation.

Surely this must be considered one of the most incredible works of art in history, so what is it?

That one might have been a bit easy, so hopefully this next one will bring out your snooty, inner art-historian.

This artwork was created in February of 2007, and sold for $1million USD, however the artist claimed to have not consented to the sale and after a lengthy lawsuit, the artist accepted a settlement of $5million USD. 
Displaying the artwork is currently banned, yet it remains one of the most popular and widely loved works of art of the decade.
There was a second artist involved in the creation of the work, however they have since fallen into obscurity.

Unlike Hoffman (the one-hit wonder) this artist has gone on to become one of the most popular practitioners of the arts of the 21st century, earning over $6million USD in 2010.
The artist usually works in an audio-visual medium, but also creates many sculpture pieces in which they always utilise found objects, rather than their own constructions.
Some of the artist’s works are purely based on an aromatic sensory experience.

The artist’s body of work can be described as one of the most blatant satires of the greed and ultra-consumption of Western Society. 

There have been a large number of references to the artist and their work, in recent times.
An impersonation of the artist was featured in an episode of Southpark, where they were accidentally killed by Butters, after he was erroneously given credit for writing the book “The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”.

This last fact doesn’t have much reference to anything, but remains a very funny episode of Southpark.

So who is this artist and what is their first and most famous work?
Kim Kardashian and her sex-tape.

I probably would've had more info about the actual sex-tape if I wasn't afraid of googling it whilst at work; the only place where I'm bored enough to think about this crap.

Thanks for playing. 

If you guessed either of them then it’s probably because you’re a bad person.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

I Did Some Sums About Poverty.

As I understand it, most of us like to think of ourselves as a fairly intelligent, clear thinking, and reasonably charming kind of person.  However there tends to be a few traps or inconsistencies in our thinking that we can often overlook. 

One such trap is when we understand that on a given issues there’s a variety of possible perspectives, and that there’s nothing objectively more correct about our own perspective, yet we tend to feel that any half-wit should be able to see that our perspective is obviously the correct one.

I often prattle on to people about how the public school system is fundamentally a better system than private schooling, but if I actually went to private schools I’d probably be arguing just as fervently for the other side of the debate.

I also reputedly go on about how art is dumb, but of course, there can be no opposition to that perspective.

We tend to feel that the way we were brought up and the way that we choose to live is just the way that makes the most sense. This is a natural reaction, but it can lead us into a danger of irresponsibility.

I think we can all attest that there are some people with too much money in the world, and some people with not enough money.  For instance, if you’re in drought-striken Africa, witnessing your children starving to death, that’s a good indication that you don’t have enough money.
However, when it comes to how much money is “just getting by”, we tend to run into some inconsistency. 

Everyone feels as though they’re just getting by; that they don’t have money to spare.  But this is simply not true.

Even the poorest of us have absolutely everything we actually need.

When people start making sums that are obviously more than they require to live on, they start making even less-factual excuses, like “I work hard for this money, I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and I deserve it.”

How do those sacrifices match up against someone in Ethiopia who works 14 hours a day and can barely feed their family?

They just don’t.  I’m not being a jerk, this is a fact.  Deep down we know that we have more money than most people because we’re lucky.

But how would we feel telling a child who’s teeth are falling out from malnutrition, “Hey there, you’ll probably die soon, but I won’t, because I’m lucky and you are not.  This is the way the world works, so deal with it.”

I would feel pretty terrible saying those words, but in a lot of ways my ignorance says them for me.

So it’s true that in the grand scheme of things we probably do have a bit of money to spare, but it’s just a drop in the ocean, right? 

Well I was bored so I found some pretty fascinating statistics:

Firstly, let’s give the problem a number.

According to the UN, there are about 1.7 billion people living in poverty.
So you could probably buy them all a meal for $1.7billion, but what if you wanted to end poverty for good?
According to a fascinating website it takes about $1000 Australian dollars to take a person in abject poverty and set them up with the necessary resources to end their poverty for good.
So that’s easy then, 1.7 billion people at $1000 each means $1.7trillion will effectively end poverty.

That’s a fair bit of money, I actually don’t make that much, so we’ll need some other people around the world helping out.

According to the data from the UN, if you take the 10 richest countries, and you isolate just the 500 million richest people from those countries, their average income is about $26 000 Australian.

So let’s say they each devoted 1% of their income to ending global poverty.

1% is $260.  Times that by 500 million and you get $130billion.

1.7 trillion divided by 130 billion is about 13. 

To recap, that means if the richest 500 million people on the planet (and that definitely includes you) each devoted 1% of their income to ending poverty it would take about 13 years. 

After which time, no one on the earth would be in danger of dying of starvation.

Holy fucking shit!

1 fucking percent!

If you make about $100 a day then that’s one fucking dollar. 
That’s the kind of money where if you accidentally drop it on the ground you find yourself really considering whether it’s worth the effort of picking it up again.

But everyone has living costs, right? Sometimes it’s hard to free up any money.

I didn’t want to toot my own horn, but then I realised I’ve been tooting that thing since I started this blog, so why stop now?
My household is two fulltime students who work part time and receive no government benefits.  We make less than the average Australian household income.  We give about 5% of our income to charity and it is piss-easy.  I personally, probably spend more money on cheese.

So what if we all gave 5%?

$130billion is 1%, so times that by 5 and you get $650billion. 
Instead of 13 years of poverty that’ll take it down to less than 3. 


And after that you can keep all your money because THERE WOULD BE NO MORE POVERTY ON EARTH.

I can understand that 5% of your gross income can be tough to free up, but what about half that?

Right now the horn of Africa is experiencing the greatest natural disaster of our age.  3 years of drought means that 13 million people are in danger of starving to death.  I did a bunch of reading and it does appear to be fairly dire.

But until the end of November any money that you donate the Australian Government will match, dollar for dollar.

So what about 1%?
If you gave a 1-0ff of 1% you could easily write-off your charity obligations for the year. 

The average income in Australia is about $66 000.  And there’s probably about 20 million people of working age.  Let’s say 15 million, just to be safe.

$660 times 15 million is $9.9 billion.  When doubled, that would become $19.8 billion, which is about 8 times as much money as the UN is hoping to raise in order to avert this crisis.

Then you could spend the other 1% of your poverty-ending money pigging out on icecreams all year, and you'd still be a fabulously generous person!

But it’s not just about giving hungry people some food. 
Currently about 13% of people on earth have the potential opportunity to study at university.  If there was no more poverty we could probably get that number closer to %100, in terms of potential opportunity anyway.

It could be 8 times as likely that a random person with a natural genius for medical science, can actually wind up getting to make a real difference in the world.

I’m going to be old someday.  The more people devising ways of keeping me alive, the better.

So in closing, I’d like you to remember this catch-phrase I’ve devised:

“Give 1 percent, you stingy, butt-faced ass-head.”