Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Omikron Plague : Part 3 : And Then The Rains Came

[Warning : This story contains ideas that may offend, shock, or just gross people out. Please remember that it's just an SF story and not intended to be taken too seriously. PS - it's also copyright dr_eamer 2007]

"What happens in the chapels?"
"I'll tell you when you're older."
"You said you'd tell me everything."
"I will. When you're older."
"I might not want to know when I'm older. I want to know now."
I gave what my programmer would have a called 'a sigh of resignation.' "All right. They sacrifice children."
"What children? Who?"
"Children from the poorer countries. During sacred ceremonies they place a young boy or girl, not yet ten years of age, on a conveyor strip that takes them up a ramp and into a furnace."
Shock, disgust, then anger crossed the boy's face like clouds across a moderately windy sky.
"But - but why? How could people possibly do that?"
"They believe the God of the Folding Green will bless them with fortune."

- Conversations with the Forgotten Child - Scri-bot 256/12B

The raindrops fell, whizzing past her face like burning matches. One glanced off the back of her hand and the woman cried out as the skin there started to bubble and bleed.

Alice shook the stinging drops of rain from her hair as she fled for cover. Steam was rising from the street in vapourous swirls. The increasingly frequent acid drops caused garbage and discarded rubber tyres to hiss and fold in on themselves, throwing up acrid odours into the air, which somehow managed to worm their way through the protection of her mask.

A doorway provided her with temporary shelter, raindrops falling and bouncing near her ankle-boots. She shifted the bundle from one arm to the other, and glanced down through her smudged goggles to check the tightness of the blanket.

"It'll be okay," she said as if to herself, looking up and down the street taking in her bearings. "We're almost there."

The sky to the east showed a bright glow on the underside of the mucus-coloured clouds, coming from the Interplanetary Terminal launchpad lights just a block or two away, and Alice could hear the warbled monotone of announcements over a PA system between thunder cracks. Pod tubes wound their way through the air overhead like spaghetti, no doubt speeding those evacuees who could afford it to the Terminal in safety and comfort. And time.

After examining the blisters on her hands, Alice delved into a pouch strung inside her cloak and took out a silver sachet. Emergency Rain Alkali . She tore it open and sprinkled the white powder onto bubbles of broken skin, wincing as it made contact. Looked like she'd got some burns from that radioactive zombie ex-colleague she'd 'bumped into' too. The geiger on her wrist-com registered some excess activity, no doubt some of it coming from itself because that arm had been closest to the ... thing.

"Seven minutes and forty three seconds till lift off," the com informed. Alice made a growling sound beneath the mask, and forced herself to focus, to keep it together. So close now. Don't blow it, Alice.

The tiny map on the com screen showed a red line going down this street, turning right, then right again, and then left a block over. She could just see the first corner through the maelstrom of rain and smoke. There was no way she would survive that journey out in the open. There had to be another way. On the map was her final obstacle - a grey building that the red line skirted around. She clicked on it. Toyota-Ford Pod Construction. The floors above ground were deserted, but several floors below ground level were still in use, according to the pop up window.

She squinted through the sheets of rain and rising smoke at the building opposite. The sign above the doors had been eroded beyond legibility, and the outer surface of the walls showed the destructive results of being open to decades' worth of vengeful nature.

But, and this is where her heart tripped, one of the ground floor windows was broken, and could be a possible means of entry.

Alice turned and searched for something to cover her head with. An iron sign, barely clinging to the wall nearby looked big enough, and after a few tugs it came away in her hands. She lay it at an angle against the wall and stepped on it, bending it into a roof-shape.

With the bundle held firmly against her chest in one arm, the other hand balancing the apex of the bent sign above her head, she paused. Alice took a deep breath and said a silent prayer to whoever would listen.

Then she braved the burning downpour.

To be continued ...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Are we created or not?

Shall we begin?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Welcomes and Intros

Err, new guy, how's it going? Take a pew, er, I mean seat, and join in the discussions. So you're my alter-ego, eh? Interesting. Welcome to the Thought Foundry. Hope it isn't too bright in here for you. It's okay folks, dr akula is just me in a bad mood under another name, nothing to worry about. He doesn't bite. I hope. No doubt he'll just sit there in silence until he feels like ranting about some hypocracy or other, either that or taking the mickey out of me and the way I write. I always find that discussions go better when there's a devil's advocate around, and that's his job. So, over to him ...

A Note on Terminology

We at the Thought Foundry would just like to clear up a few points about the terminology used on this web site, in order to avoid confusion or the giving or taking of offence. In the days where political correctness is a heated topic for discussion, we do not wish to step on anyone’s toes in any way, shape or form.

Labels are not pleasant, but it is the nature of humans to assign tags to things, and sometimes regrettably even to people, in order to understand and/or predict that entity’s behaviour. This trait can be both reassuring, yet sometimes restrictive or insulting.

For example, let us look at a recent comment including the term ‘religious freaks’. As it happens this is one of my favourite expressions. To me it is a colourful phrase that seems to both show the speaker’s acceptance that overtly religious people do and must for whatever reason exist in the modern world, however grudgingly, while also adding a somewhat disagreeable but interesting or amusing flavour to the group of people in question.

As to the term’s accuracy, one feels a few words should be said.

There are religious people in the world, and there are freaks in the world. Now, not all religious people are freaks, and not all freaks are religious. Surely this alone can be agreed upon by all. Some religious people are warm, friendly, caring, eg Mother Theresa and Gandhi. Whereas some freaks are from secular backgrounds, eg. the bearded lady, the Phantom of the Opera. However, in saying that, the two sets do overlap, a perfect example of which being, Dracula.

Speaking personally, I don’t mind people who believe strongly in religion, but it’s when the behaviour turns antisocial that problems occur. People, ie the general public, have different thresholds for what is acceptable and what isn’t. Some feel that they shouldn’t have to have members of religions coming round to their house to press their beliefs on them. Others are of the opinion that giving out tracts in public places shouldn’t be tolerated.

I draw the line at murder.

“Thou shalt not kill.” One of the more well-known of God’s commandments in the Old Testament, a sacred text revered by both Christianity and Islam. What completely confounds me is that if two religions evolved from the same faith, like two limbs from the same trunk of a tree, why is one of the most fundamental laws so disagreed upon?

It seems that now more than ever we need to get a leading Christian theologian in a room with a well-known and respected Islamic scholar, together with an unbiased person to type out the transcript. No video - words and arguments only. Have them confirm what they can both agree on, and in a manner of thinking similar to Occam’s Razor, disregard everything else. All or part of the conversation can then be made available to the public.

And I’m sure it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think a book and a movie might spring from the discussion, possibly starring Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Verses from the Quran

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Googling

So I had a bit of free time at work on the 1st of February and logged in to blogger to check the work blog, and it said they were transferring all the blogs over to Google and I had to set up a google account to access the work blog. This I did. Then I had to do the same for my dr_eamer blogs, and thought 'Well, can't I just use the same google account?' I tried this, but then to my horror, all my blogs - work and non-work - were piled together under my real name, and the dr_eamer profile vanished. I hurriedly attempted to amend all this, but due to the firewalls at work, any time I tried to alter my profile, I was met with a blunt and rather stubborn electronic refusal.

So I spent the day trying not to imagine my colleagues and bosses perusing through my non-work blogs and thinking to themselves, 'Who the hell is this guy? And what has he been doing on company time? Colouring in pictures of the world in blue? Writing short stories about dying and ending up outside a big wooden door??' (yes to both, I'm afraid) But after work was over I made my way down to the nearest cyber cafe and did my best to put things right. Unfortunately I realised all of my posts and comments on the Thought Foundry were now signed with my real name. Dr_eamer, for all intents and purposes, had been wiped.

Well, I couldn't go around in the blog-scape under my real name - it would feel like walking around the cyberworld in my underpants. So what I ended up doing was this: I started up a new google account under the name dr_eamer, and invited this new identity to join my eamer blogs. Then I transferred admin control to him. All I had to do then was delete my real self from the blogs. But under new Google management I couldn't delete the person who had started the blog! Gaah! Exasperation knew no bounds for me that day!

I even tried to delete the whole blog. The Thought Foundry, for about 5 minutes on the first of February, was in a state of limbo. Because under Google, we can't even delete our own blogs, so I was reduced to changing the HTML formatting to merely "a" and nothing else.

But I couldn't do it. I resurrected the Thought Foundry by copying and pasting another template into the space that had said nothing but "a", and hoped for the best. Hence the new decor.

But my real name was still on there. There was only one thing for it, really. 'Right,' I thought, grinding my teeth and punching my open palm, 'The real me must go.'

And I deleted my real google account.

So if anyone's wondering why when they click on my name on their blog comments pages no profile shows up, that's why. A new dr_eamer account will be created as soon as I get over my temporary disaffection with blogs in general.

And for the past week I haven't been able to log in to my work blog. It's been kind of peaceful! :)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Taking down the Cross

My Way News - Cross Removal Stirs Va. College Campus

"WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - As a Catholic, Vince Haley often went to Mass at the College of William and Mary's historic Wren Chapel when he was an undergraduate in the 1980s. Also a Catholic, school President Gene R. Nichol often goes to the 120-seat chapel alone at night
to think in the quiet.

Both agree the chapel is a sacred space meaningful to students, alumni, faculty and staff of the public school who use it for religious services and secular events.

They clash, though, over what to do with an unadorned, 18-inch brass cross that had been displayed on the altar since about 1940. Nichol ordered the cross removed in October to make the chapel more welcoming to students of all faiths. Previously, the cross could be removed by request; now it can be returned by request." Follow the link to read the rest of this article.

My 2 Cents:

1) Diversity meltdown; as a desire to make everyone happy, is detrimental to the real growth in a religious community, regardless of whose religious culture is being affected.

2) The removal of the crucifix is a desirable deed as I see it. Someday, the reminder of a vicious, murderous act executed in ignorance, propelled by the maintainers of the status quo must be separated from love undeterred by persecution. Miserable murder does not have to befall the harbinger of more truth and responsibility in our relationship with our creator, our families and the creation.

3) The removal of the crucifix should be a ceremony honoring the determination to persevere to live and bring the message of living for others at the price of one's own life. The ceremony would lift the Christ from the cross of murderous ignorance and bury the instrument of that sad deed and resolving to continue to live and bring the message: living for others.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Aargh! I've just been Googled!

Er, well, did that happen to everyone else, too today?

Had to make a few changes ... Delete a few posts and comments, sorry about that! Still here though. Still kicking ...

Talk soon.

Virtual Activist

Based on the article below, something should be done, but what? Well, we at Virtual(ly an) Activist have come up with an idea that might be able to hit several birds with one stone. Speaking metaphorically of course.

We've decided to let YOU decide. In each post of V A, we'll give YOU, the readers, a list of options to choose from, and after a certain time limit, we’ll count up the votes and do whatever suggestion draws the most.

Today’s suggestions open to the vote are:

A) Write a letter to the CEO of coca cola, outlining how I feel about the above (below) news re the human rights violations of the corporation, and ask them what they intend to do about their policies in the future.

B) Never drink coca cola again.

C) Send emails to everyone I know, effectively spreading the dirt around, asking them to boycott the company and never drink it again.

D) Write a letter to my local paper outlining the above and encouraging a large-scale boycott campaign.

E) Organize a protest about said human rights violations, in my area.

F) Design T shirts with stylish anti-coke designs on them.

G) Investigate further to find out if my information can really be corroborated.

H) Ask my readers to help me and offer to do one each of the above (A-G).

I) Have a coke and forget the whole thing.

J) Do one of the above for something more weighty than the Coke issue.

That’s it. I hereby promise on pain of losing what little credibility I have, that I will do, or at least try to do, whichever of these courses of action is chosen by the people.

Let the voting commence!

I Have Found a Name for my Pain

and it is:
Coca Cola, Nestle, Philip Morris (aka Marlboro), Wal-Mart, Caterpillar, Ford, Exxon, Nike, McDonalds, GAP, Kodak, M&M, Mars, Pepsi
Suggested Boycott Targets(at least I intend to avoid their products from now on)
Why? Let's start with:
Now don't get me wrong, I like the stuff myself. Get a nice buzz off it for writing ideas. The trouble is, even before looking at the dirt below, is that it rots your teeth. As if that isn't bad enough, the corporation seems to be guilty of various human rights issues, according to the web site, global exchange . These range from violent killings to kidnap and torture, to health violations. Not a pretty thought that we, as consumers, are actually paying these guys money and encouraging them to engage in these sorts of practices. Kind of like being an accomplice in a way. Want to do something about it? Simple. Just keep your money in your pocket the next time you think about having a coke. Or have a nice glass of tomato juice instead, preferably from local producers.
If any of the below is wrong in any way, please let me know. Otherwise I'm going to cut and paste myself into a frenzy and start firing boycott-related emails off to every one in my address book in about a week.
"Human Rights Abuses: violent killings, kidnap and torture, water privatization, health violations, and discriminatory practices

Coca-Cola Company is perhaps the most widely recognized corporate symbol on the planet. The company also leads in the abuse of workers' rights, assassinations, water privatization, and worker discrimination. Between 1989 and 2002, eight union leaders from Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia were killed after protesting the company's labor practices. Hundreds of other Coca-Cola workers who have joined or considered joining the Colombian union SINALTRAINAL have been kidnapped, tortured, and detained by paramilitaries who intimidate workers to prevent them from unionizing. In Turkey, 14 Coca-Cola truck drivers and their families were beaten severely by Turkish police hired by the company, while protesting a layoff of 1,000 workers from a local bottling plant in 2005. "
A far cry from the nice red and white design for Santa Claus we've all been thanking Coca Cola for the past few months.
"In India, Coca-Cola destroys local agriculture by privatizing the country's water resources. In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola extracted 1.5 million liters of deep well water, which they bottled and sold under the names Dasani and BonAqua. The groundwater was severely depleted, affecting thousands of communities with water shortages and destroying agricultural activity. As a result, the remaining water became contaminated with high chloride and bacteria levels, leading to scabs, eye problems, and stomach aches in the local population. Water shortages have occurred in Varanasi, Thane, and Tamil Nadu as well. The company is also guilty of reselling its plants' industrial waste to farmers as fertilizers, despite its containing hazardous lead and cadmium."

Occasionally when I take a drink of tap water, I wonder where it came from, what's in it, and what will it do to my stomach. Fortunately I am not in a country now where I have to worry so much about those things. But what about all the people who are?
"Coca-Cola is one of the most discriminatory employers in the world. In the year 2000, 2,000 African-American employees in the U.S. sued the company for race-based disparities in pay and promotions. In México, Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America, fired a senior bottling manager for being gay. Finally, by regularly denying health insurance to employees and their families, Coca Cola has failed to help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. The company is one of the continent's largest private employers, yet only partially covers expensive medicines, while not covering generic medicines at all. "
I heard once from a colleague that if a large corporation's actions, as an entity, were taken as being those of one person, from a psychological standpoint they would be diagnosed as psychotic. In light of the above I find it all the more convincing, not to mention alarming.
Parts in italics from: global exchange/corporate violators Everything else is my own.