Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year for 2012 from JMB and Miss Moggs


And so ends 2011, a rather sparse year for posts on this blog, from me at least, although Moggs has been entertaining you with her thoughts about this and that. Healthwise it has been so much better for me than 2010 and I am assuming my cancer is cured until proven otherwise. So far, so good!

Besides spending way too much time in Second Life, running my three art galleries, this year I have become involved with a wonderful seniors' centre called Brock House Society and volunteer in the Library and the Office there. Yes, I still convene my Thursday walking group so I have lots to keep me busy and on my toes.

While you my blog friends have not been so much in my life of late, what I wrote before still remains so true I'm will repeat it. You have all enriched my life in so many ways. You've challenged my mind with your posts, you've helped me with my tech problems, you've taught me so much about your different worlds, you've entertained me with your humour. Some of you have shared your poetry and stories and your beautiful paintings and photographs. You've welcomed me into your lives and shared your innermost thoughts and I am grateful to each and every one of you.

I wish you all health, happiness and prosperity for 2012, may it be infinitely better than 2011 and being half Scottish, I'll close with the words of Rabbie Burns in Auld Lang Syne and make a toast (non-alcoholic, of course) to you all.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

or for the linguistically challenged English speakers

And there is a hand, my trusty friend!
And give me a hand of yours!
And we will take a right good-will drink,
For old long past.

Eddi Reader, Scottish singer/songwriter, in a very different version of Auld Lang Syne

NB: Words and translation from the World Burns Club

Saturday, December 24, 2011

For Unto us a Child is Born -- 2011

The Adoration of the Magi
Fra Angelico and Fillipo Lippi

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

For those who are wondering where JMB is these days, I am quite well but seem to have lost my muse for blogging for the moment. Fortunately Moggs is keeping things alive here while I "waste" too much time in Second Life. I have become the owner of three art galleries there and hold regular exhibits for Second Life artists. Who would have thought I would actually become an art curator and even a Second Life photographer. Here is the Christmas card I made to send out in Second Life as JMB Balogh. It's called The Carol Singer and features JMB dressed as a Victorian lady.

To everyone who is celebrating this feast, may I wish you and your families a very Happy and Holy Christmas.

From Handel's Messiah the wonderful chorus, For unto us a child is born.

Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas has come around again. Doesn’t it seem to happen so quickly when you are a grown up.. well adult. I am not so sure I have quite grown up yet ^_^

For Kids of course Christmas probably seems to take about four years to come round again.

JMB and I have put up messages wishing happy Christmas to all our visitors in past years, but we just don’t seem to have got to coordinate it this time round.

So if JMB posts one also then you are getting a two for the price of one deal. Way to go!

Christmas. Why is it when it is? Well it is literally the celebration of Christ’s Mass.

No I don’t mean his maybe 135 pounds of adult male mass, or maybe inertia. I mean a religious celebration of the Christ’s birth. The word comes to us from old English, via vulgar Latin from the Latin for “to dismiss”

Was it really Jesus’ birthday? I don’t think anyone can be absolutely sure of the day. But pagans the world over, especially in the colder northern places celebrated the winter solstice and the turn of the year where days started to get longer again promising the return of summer.

When those first missionaries were converting they were not going to tell them they had to give up a bright point in winter. Not if they didn’t want to get thrown out on their ear into the snow. No they figured they might as well put it to good use.

Like… Hey guys! No need to give up the traditional feast and fun, Jesus was born around this time anyway.. probably. You can celebrate that, just quit with the virgin sacrifices.

Not just rebirth, but the birth of the Christ and the gift of eternal life through him. Awesome deal guys n gals, get it while you can.

So why is it the 25th not the 21st? All to do with the old Julian calendar loosing time against the universe I guess, on account of leap years.

Our modern Christmas traditions owe a lot to Queen Victoria’s Husband, Prince Albert. They married in 1840 and he imported a lot of traditional Germanic ideas and bolted them on to the traditional English ones. He had quite an austere childhood from what I read and maybe he wanted to make the cosy family he never had as a kid. He made a new thing out of it all and everyone copied it.

The Christmas cards we send were invented by the same guy who invented the penny black postage stamp in 1843 and the modern postal service. Sir Henry Cole, he commissioned John Calcott to design a card mostly for his own use to save writing lots of Christmas letters. He sent his out and sold the rest of the print run in his art dealership It was a bit controversial because it pictured drinking a cup of good cheer… at the height of the temperance movement. They say no publicity is bad publicity and the cards sold like hot cakes. Now there are cards for all occasions.

Then along came Coca-Cola in the last century and took the not necessarily fat or jolly Father Christmas and Saint Clause from different European traditions and tuned that in the jolly tubby grandfatherly guy in a red suit. Santa A.K.A Father Christmas.

So I'll quote Charles Dickens' Tim Cratchett "God bless us... every one" and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and healthy new year, from JMB and Moggsy x

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Apropos of nothing

I have been wracking my brains for something to blog about and I couldn’t really come up with anything much.

I have not read any really nice novels recently I wanted to share, I have done some hard hat posts lately, and I thought something lighter might be nice, plus if the hard hat stuff really takes off it might actually be on some other site anyway.

Even my music is a bit in the doldrums. And ooh boy am I fed up with apple right now and their itunes software!! It has gone haywire, maybe because of an update and it does not realise my computer is where it should be and wants to delete my CDs I loaded in so I can’t properly synchronise it. All my playlists on the computer are gone.

And can you email Apple? Maybe… but the address sure seems to be secret, well hidden somewhere on their site, so if anyone knows how to fix the problem pleeeease comment it.

Some tracks I am liking just now are:
“Standing in front of you” by Kelly Clarkson
“Now or never” by Jodie Connor & featuring Wiley
“Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri
“Set fire to the rain” by Adele

I would put in links but they don’t seem to work lots of times in different countries.

Now in Second Life people are getting ready for Christmas or Winterval. A one size fits all celebration. Having it so general and generic lets most everyone celebrate. There is very little ‘traditional’ prejudice in sl. A person can be any race or color they please. The auto translators are.. mostly adequate. All there are at least smart enough to use a computer.

There are some new prejudices maybe. I have seen signs banning vampires and others banning non humans, fair enough in a themed sim. You have to fit with the theme, but in clubs?

Anyway. One thing people do is send each other cards at this time of year, some get quite creative. I have been working on ours and I have received a few already (ty Tom). There is snow in many places and skating rinks are frozen over. We are all shopping for Christmassy outfits. I got something in more traditional green this year, instead of the fire engine red.

Did you know Santa was often shown in green traditionally until Coke used him in it’s advertising in the 1920s and 30s? Our idea of Santa owes a lot to Coke.

(I used the pic of an Ad I found but if Coke objects to me advertising them I can take it down)

Decorations are going up and lots of places have trees.

We are still organising the castle after moving, nothing much unpacked or in place yet. We have lit our Advent candles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Democracy. Is it working?

OK here is a hard hat post for sure, and I welcome any reasonable comment even ones that disagree, because I am not sure if I am right or being sensible and I am, as anyone who reads my stuff would guess, an Ardent (cool word) believer in democracy.

How often did you see or read about something stupid and think or read something like: “And these people get to vote?”

Several Bloggers have raised the fact that democracy does not seem to be working like it should so much any more. Especially a comment by Suboptimal Planet on the post above.

It was about a poll of UK voters and how absolutely badly informed they were, but it could be about most any voters. I should also give a wave to Nourishing Obscurity and Critical Faculty Dojo here for stuff that made me think.

"The poll asked whether the coalition (UK Government) would be keeping the (UK) national debt the same over the next four years, increasing it by £350bn or cutting it by £350bn. Just nine per cent got it right – 21 per cent thought it would be staying the same and an astonishing 70 per cent thought the national debt would be cut by £350bn."

Critical Faculty Dojo actually has a UK debt clock always climbing in the side bar, I guess they don't read that.

So some problems with the system:

Anyone too dumb, or too ignorant of facts just can not make a sensible decision about anything even slightly complicated. And life these days is complicated.

Anyone with too little experience of life is basically less likely to think long term and have experience to base their decisions on. Like you can’t believe politician’s promises for a start.

Lots of people are disengaged from politics, because they feel their votes don’t count, or because they are focussed on “single issue” stuff., or not committed to the society they live in.

Now like I said, I am an ardent ^_^ believer in democracy and I am very opposed to disenfranchising (another cool word) anyone because they are female or not wealthy, or not as sharp as others or some such thing.

So how can we fix some of those things?

Well first of all maybe 18 is a bit too young to have enough experience? Maybe 21 would be better?. I am not being mean about under 21s or anything and I would literally violently oppose going back to a system that didn’t allow the vote to women.

Safe driving might be a measure of a person’s judgement and insurance actuaries definitely pay attention to ages like 21 and 25 when they set premiums.

And thinking about driving people really value their driving licences, so maybe it would be an idea if a person needed to pass a test and get a licence before they could vote? The licence should cost only a token amount to pay for materials, maybe the cost of a couple of pints of beer.

Say 18 year olds could apply for a student voter licence and be able to vote but their vote would only count for a 25% share of a vote.

A person could pass a basic test about economics and such to be able to apply for a full licence, and if they did at 21 their vote might count for half, then at 25 their vote would count for 75% and at 30 it would count as a full vote.

Maybe give anyone in the armed forces a full licence automatically with at least a 75% vote and a special 50% bonus because they are willing to put their lives on the line for their society. Maybe include emergency services at 50% vote?

Maybe a special bonus for being a tax payer or property owner where whatever your vote was, was increased by 50% or maybe doubled.

Maybe cut the percentage vote of government workers in half.

Also maybe if someone never voted their licence would lapse. And need to get a new licence.

Jailbirds would have their licence confiscated and have to take the test and reapply when they got out.

I do think having a person vote for a person who represents them and where they live is important.

I also think it would be good to have more referenda on single issues. Maybe have a department specially looking into issues to decide on for the public to vote on and frame laws based on that, maybe have high number petitions trigger them as well. It might even include the removal of politicians, presidents, prime ministers, and governments.

Nothing would pass if it didn’t get a good turn out and more than 60% of the vote.

If we can have a weekly vote on dancing with the stars/strictly and electronically access our bank accounts then how difficult would it be to have a few referenda say once every 4 months.

Here are some quotes about voting I figured make some important points:

"Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do.” - Will Rogers

"Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom” - Friedrich August Hayek

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves” - Thomas Sowell

"Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.” - Ambrose Bierce

“Anarchists know that a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society, hence they do not believe in vote begging, nor political campaigns, but rather in the development of self-thinking individuals.” - lunaleelee Lucy Parsons

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” - George Jean Nathan

That ought to set some cats amongst all the pigeons.. I do hope ^_^