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Thursday, 28 April 2011


  Yes, it's that sin everybody loves to hate, the one which a large mammal with long claws and a inclination for eating leaves was named after (I won't name it 'cos it's in the title, it's obvious innit). The very act of writing about it, tells me that I should simply write something like "meh" and leave it at that. Sadly I've already gone to the trouble of taking the pictures for this post and if you google it there are about fifteen hundred de-motivational posters which follow a similar line.

  So. Apathy. As a sin, it does appear relatively unique among the famous seven. Apparently Carl Jung said something to the effect that it is the worst sin, as all others require motivation of some kind. Certainly if you're going to act on lust, anger or greed there is a requisite amount of work that must be done first. A rapist can never be accused of lacking commitment, or an axe-murderer of being afraid of getting his hands dirty.

  In all fairness however, the other sins usually seem to have direct negative consequences for others, whilst apathites usually can only directly do harm to themselves alone. Whilst a thief deprives another person of a beloved or valuable item (or in the case of one house I lived in - underwear) a lazy person can only usually bore another person to the extent that they then avoid the former. In certain cases, dependents might be let down by the apathite, but the beauty of being overly apathetic is that you usually don't have too many dependents. It's just too much effort.

  Certainly there does seem to be a case for negligence when it comes to apathy. The fact, for instance, that Sony are only now trying to build a better security system after the account and card details of 770 million people were stolen, suggests that apathy at certain levels is quiet disruptive at a large scale. However, one can argue that apathy is only a negative consequence when mixed with other sins, in this case the supposed greed of the web-thieves themselves (or maybe they were doing it for a good cause. I'm just spit-balling here).

  Also, in its favour is the idea that it is a rather refined, luxurious sin. In the course of natural life for say Stone Age humankind, any of the other sins is allowed and even advantageous: Anger is useful for braining antelope with rocks, with gluttony you'll eat well and have a better chance at surviving the winter, greed means that you hoard everything you need for a rainy day, jealousy makes you nick the bronze tools that the other guys have made and learn to make them yourself, lust assists procreation and pride convinces you at the very least that you are doing the right thing by killing your rivals. Apathy is the only one which has no place in natural selection, because it offers no advantages, and as such would have tended to be weeded out (except in the case of the sloth - and that's only because it can digest leaves and hang from trees).

  As such it seems that apathy is therefore a more recently, and arguably highly evolved human sin. It can only be allowed in a stable, advanced society where our needs are regularly met, as otherwise it would be killed off. It is a luxury in the purest sense, and to my mind quite an achievement. It is for this reason therefore that I dub apathy on the universal percentage scale: 89%

Monday, 25 April 2011

the milky way

  Having recently become a devotee of the Professor Brian Cox religion (yes, I caught on a bit late) I have decided to attribute some of my time to writing a post on our home galaxy. Though this stretches the definition of the word "world" a little, I figure that since we can only ever really comprehend our own galaxy conceptually - as the act of looking at it is a bit like trying to look at your own face without a mirror - I'd take a gamble on this one.

  In it's favour, the Milky Way houses our solar system and some 200 - 400 billion stars and whatever those individual stars entail - a fact which is arguably awesome in the original sense of the word. However, to my mind, this is possibly the fullest extent of the benefits of the Milky Way as everything after that (and it is a lot in all fairness) seems to verge on the negative.

 The first fact is that there is a supermassive blackhole at the center of it. Though this may somehow be the reason that the galaxy turns at all, it's a bit like God decided in all his worldly wisdom to put a giant, perpetually flushing toilet in the middle of an all-you-can-eat floating buffet/pool party - it seems neither safe nor hygienic.

  Secondly is the notion that whilst the majority of galaxies are flying apart from each other, the Andromeda galaxy and our own are on a direct collision course, effective in about three billion years or so. Now I hardly expect to be alive by this point and apparently the Sun will have swollen and blistered the face of the Earth, but one hopes that some clever people will have managed to scrape a living, floating around Proxima Centauri. Imagine then that all those clever developments become effectively null and void when a vast sweep of galactic arm comes tearing through the neighborhood, undoing all the good work. It's a little disconcerting.

  To my mind, the Milky Way is the best party around but turning up means you're dead: The punch is spiked with cyanide, the pineapple and cheese on sticks is explosive and all the strippers are trained assassins.

  Overall I rate the Milky Way on the universal percentage scale as being a 42%

(all photos nicked from google)

the mug on my desk

  Approximately three years ago I embarked on a life-style choice that, to this day, has me baffled. I became an English Literature student at the University of Portsmouth, thus barring myself from any form of lucrative lifestyle and limiting my upper earning bracket to that of a low-paid shoe-shine boy. But though I continue to seek sympathy in that regard, it is on a side effect of  this choice that I wish to parley. In effect, I began to drink tea.

  Regardless of how much you might like to read as a hobby, when forced to read lengthy Jane Austen novels (where much is pondered but little happens) one's concentration tends to fail like a gigolo starved of oxygen. Thus it becomes necessary to imbibe stimulants. Not being a fan of cocaine, my immediate thought was tea - and what a reliable mixture it has been to me this past hat-trick of solar circumferencing! But it has only been  so reliable because of its container.
  It is now therefore that we finally pass through this lengthy and pretentious introduction to the matter at hand: to wit - the mug on my desk - because what is tea without its container, but a mass of scolding, staining liquid?

  Starting with appearances, the mug's Very Hungry Caterpillar motif  instantly draws the eye. As an erstwhile avid reader of this canonical example of children's literature, the picture immediately draws upon fond memories of more innocent times, transporting the user back to infancy and allowing for brief intermittent moments of calm in the hectic schedule of life. The smiling sun, the seemingly expressionless yet somehow Buddha-like bearing of the caterpillar and the concluding image of the butterfly remind us of the story, its optimistic conclusion and what it meant to us as children. Perhaps we have not yet lost that hope for ourselves. Perhaps, though we have become obese, greedy and lazy in our sedentary lifestyles we hope that we too might eventually emerge from out own metamorphosis with giant wings and penchant for nectar. 

  In the mug's enamel frame we find a suitable vessel for the conveyance of scolding liquid, the handle allowing  one to carry it without fear of damage to oneself. Before the addition of such a handle, I imagine one would either have to wait for the tea to cool to a lower temperature - that better suited the hand but not the tastebuds -, or would have to wear gloves in order to drink tea in its ideal state. The handle can perhaps be regarded as a work of true genius, asserting the claim that "necessity is the mother of all creation". 

  All good however must come to an end, and this mug is no exception. Having scored high on the practical side, I must call certain aspects of its aesthetic demenour into question - in other words the attached used teabag and the consequent stains.

  The teabag (being of the peppermint variety) has created a rather vulgar greeny-brown scum which tarnishes the enamel whiteness of the vessel, reminding one of mould, pond-weed, or at the uppermost extreme off-colour diarrhea. Such associations tarnish any of the mug's sanitary assertions, certainly when a simple scrub with hot water and a brillo pad would have done so much to save its reputation. It seems then, that to continue to have stains on the cup is a sign of laziness and as such is denotive of sin. 

  To conclude, the mug is overall a particularly useful piece of kit and has been of great use to me, carrying with it a sense of nostalgia which cheers me from day to day. However the staining and obvious  lack of hygiene standards cause it to lose marks.

 On the universal scale of percentage, I dub this mug      75%