I fear that in the not too distant future we will miss our consumerist utopia, lamenting the loss of our febrile freedom to live as we please. Demagogues, despots and the pious disciples of tradition all seem united in the belief that a great war of epic proportions will somehow be the harbinger of our spiritual revival.
So enjoy the promotion of the mundane while you can, I say. Better to be defined by the stuff you owned and the numbing insignificance of your life, than by a hideous slaughter brought about by a people who needed a purpose and place. It is the advertising which sells us fascism as the antidote to our insignificance which we should truly fear.
Be insignificant. It’s better for us all.
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I have just responded to your plea to turn off the ad-blocker when visiting your website, by disabling it. But I wanted to follow up with the reason I’m using an ad-blocker, in the hope that we can meet in the middle.
I have no real objection to being shown adverts on the websites I visit. I fully understand that publishers need to fund their operations in a financially sustainable fashion.
The problem is this: many advertisements are so memory intensive and poorly optimised for the web, that they cause pages to load slowly, laptop fans to go into overdrive, the hardware to become uncomfortably hot under the palms of our hands and, when mobile, unnecessarily consume data.
The terrible memory management of the Chrome web browser is often the culprit, and it’s true that we could always choose to use a different web browser, but the alternatives have their own set of problems. And so we use an ad-blocker instead.
If publishers would look again at the kinds of adverts they put on their pages, I will certainly look again at using an ad-blocker. If they will stop using intrusive, poorly optimised advertisements that cause my usually cool-running MacBook to turn into a cooker, I’ll permanently turn the ad-blocking software off.
If publishers could find a middle ground between funding their work and providing a reader-centric user experience, I think the number of people using ad-blockers would definitely decrease.
Optimise or die, might be the lesson for the developers behind these adverts.
Your sincerely, etc.
How do we stop extremists grooming defenceless people with learning disabilities? I’m referring of course to Donald Trump and, before him, George W Bush Jr. Two vulnerable adults exploited by dangerous extremists with nefarious goals, led down the dangerous pathway of intolerance, hatred and zealotry. It’s a tragedy.
If you went out to buy a car and a salesman tried to convince you that the car you were buying was a Tesla Model S, when it was in fact a Ford Mondeo, we’d commend your discernment if you rejected his proposition.
To the casual observer, it might look like you’re turning down the Tesla. But in reality you’re merely rejecting a Ford you were told was a Tesla. In fact it’s good that you’re rejecting the Ford, because it is not the car you wanted. Even so, you might earn a reputation as the man who rejected a Tesla Model S when it was offered to you. And you may even convince yourself that you rejected the Tesla as an inferior car, based on your experience of the Ford you thought was a Tesla.
These adventures of faith and the heart are not dissimilar. You might reject ideas, which you have always been taught are fundamental aspects of your beliefs, which lead you towards a truer reality. You might then arrive at a sounder destination than the one who appears to believe in those ideas without question. You might reject an idea which has no basis and find yourself the true believer. Conversely, you might insist on an idea which has no basis and find yourself a disbeliever unbeknownst.
In these times, people are asked to believe in all sorts of things which are not fundamental beliefs, and which may even be contrary to core beliefs. Their rejection of them may be bad news for these wooly concepts of orthodoxy, but might ultimately be good for us in the long run, if they mean a return to a purer, less obscured faith, uncompromised by cultural and political accretions.
For a people that allegedly stands firm against idolatry, the pervasive cult of celebrity witnessed in our communities is certainly perturbing. Could fame be the worst thing to happen to any of us?
The cult of celebrity frequently leads us down blind avenues. Tragically, we only seem to be able to view issues through the binary prisms of right or wrong, good or bad, love or hate. We don’t do nuance. You’re either with us or you’re against us. We’ll defend our team, come what may, and vanquish the opposition absolutely.
So it is that whenever those who have always hated a person pounce on what was said due to enmity, the real issue is immediately lost and is consequently ignored, by all sides. It happens so often on all manner of issues, from domestic violence and abuse to racism and corruption. In these games of love and hate, real issues are constantly ignored, to our detriment.
And yet outside our own peculiar bubble, these discussions are of no consequence. Whose side you were on, or who you chose to stand with, is irrelevant. So don’t just be mindful of the feelings of those you adore. Also be mindful of the feelings of those we choose to ignore.
The poor and dispossessed are frequently trampled upon by those who can only see the greatness of their leaders. Yes, it is great to make excuses for people, but sometimes our guides need good counsel too. To be reminded: ‘Whatever happened to “I don’t know”?’ To be reminded that they are but human, and that the followings and fan clubs will pass.
What is religion? Or a life of faith? To some it is the pursuit of truth, honesty, goodness and virtue. But for many it the realm of power, of abuse and vanity. Hence our disarray.
If only the lovely, cuddly, fluffy chaps congratulating themselves for reaching out to non-Muslims this Christmas could find it in themselves to extend that warmth and tolerance to their fellow Muslims.
When conversation runs dry in a meeting with a stranger or long-lost friend, one question inevitably follows: “Did you watch the football?” or “What team do you support?” Continue reading Be witnesses to truth