Stupid Design – Evolution really screwed us over! *Evolution #2*

Originally posted on Steemit: https://steemit.com/science/@mobbs/stupid-design-evolution-really-screwed-us-over-evolution-2SourceSo in the first part of this series, we took a look at convergent evolution – the process by which two or more separate species develop the same traits despite being geographically separated and isolated for millions of years.

This is, in itself, a demonstration of how brilliant evolution can be; eyes are so complex and specifically formed, yet they developed on SEVEN separate occasions.

Only birds have wings… EXCEPT BATS

Only reptiles have scal – PANGOLIN


SourceSometimes, a great idea is worth hanging on to, and mother nature knows that. But mother nature can also be quite moronic at times, and that’s where we start off; stupid design.

Stupid Design

People naturally look at animals and see the success of billions of years… ok, most smart people. And they’d be right. They’re alive today, or had survived for millions of years, because they evolved in a way that was perfectly adapted to their environment. When that environment changes too rapidly, well, that’s when things typically die off.

But there are some things that don’t seem like ‘adaptations’ at all, but managed to sneak through the evolutionary cracks and survive in animals even to this day.

Giraffe

Perhaps most famously, Richard Dawkins set out to hammer this point home through a dead giraffe.

What he demonstrates is that, given a slow enough process, badly designed elements of an animal can get through without substantial consequence.

In the example of the giraffe (For those of you who cannot watch the video), there is a nerve called the recurrent laryngeal nerve which goes from the brain to the larynx, but rather than taking a direct route of about 2 inches, it takes a huge detour straight down to the heart, U-turning back up and into the larynx, for a journey totaling 4.6 metres!

This inefficient process is a historical legacy going all the way back to fish, in the pre-neck ages. As necks got longer, the nerve subtly got stretched out with no real consequence. You can even see less extreme results in us humans and other animals – even dinosaurs:



SourceThere’s no better place to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But sometimes, it IS broken, and life has just has to deal with it

Giraffe 2

Also, ever wonder what it feels like to be born, only to be welcomed with a 5-foot plummet to the ground? Welcome to the life of a baby giraffe. These guys have to sort themselves out, seriously.

Human Stomachs

You know, our stomachs can’t digest the main component in plant matter – Cellulose. Typically, it’s bacteria that does all the breaking down, and cows, for example, have no problem with this. But we don’t have that bacteria at all.

Sea mammals

You’d think, given they spend 100% of their time in the water, they’d learn how to extract air through some kind of… I duno, gill system. This is what convergent evolution was invented for! But no, moving the nose to the top of the head and massively increasing lung capacity should be a sufficient workaround.


It really looks like a nose when you see it close up…
Source

Human feet

26…That’s how many bones in the human foot. 26 moving parts for a rigid body part. Of course, this is another historical legacy from when our apey ancestors needed flexible feet to swing around and and grab stuff, but now, those 26 bones gift us with:

‘ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles’ – Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University


Ridiculous
Source

The eye

As imperfect as they are perfect. As Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page in New Scientist Put it:

’Their light-sensing structure, the retina, is wired up back-to-front, with the light-sensitive cells behind the nerves and blood vessels that support it. Not only does light have to pass through this layer first, obscuring the image, but the nerves and blood vessels have to dive through the retina, creating a blind spot in each eye.’

Source

Looking back at Part 1 of this series, I showed how the Octopus evolved eyes separately from us, but in the exact same way. They see like we do and the same genes were involved in its development.

However, they got it right. They didn’t have the same evolutionary path as us vertebrates.


Spot the difference
SourceNew Scientist continues:

‘when eyes first evolved in the ancestors of modern vertebrates, the retina arose from an in folding of the developing brain, and the cells that could form light receptors happened to end up on the inside of this fold.’

Having said that, new research supposes a decent reason why.

There’s a whole range of issues with the delicacy and disease-prone eye of a human, but we ain’t got time for that.

All of these are problematic and annoying, but we can just put up and shut up, right? Well… not always.

Fatal Design

If I ask you, you’ll probably start thinking about babies and birth. Correct! What a terrible design. Being bipedal has had a lot of advantages for us, and having a big brain has also had a lot of advantages. But put them together and what’s the solution?

Birth Canal

A narrow birth canal that can actually squeeze and potentially crush a baby’s skull, making it otherwise impossible to birth naturally. Without modern surgery, people just had to deal with it via death.


Source

Pharynx

The pharynx shouldn’t even exist at all. This is the passage that allows food to pass through. It’s also the passage that allows AIR to pass through. How efficient, putting them both together! Sure, it dramatically increases the chances of choking, something we all do at least a few times in any given lifetime, but hey!


Source

Oxygen

Speaking of breathing, how is it that we haven’t actually figured out how to do it?

The human breathing reflex happens due to the detection of carbon dioxide. Think about it. Our breathing reflex is NOT something that comes about directly from the absence of oxygen, the stuff that makes us not die. This indirect way of doing things means that in higher altitudes, humans basically suffocate without even noticing due to the lack of oxygen in the thinned air. Since there is not an abundance of carbon dioxide either, the human body can’t regulate its own breathing.

Wisdom Teeth

If you only have one argument against God, this is the one.
Not only are wisdom teeth vestigial – totally useless – but they are downright painful, and before medicine, ensuing infections could often lead to death. All for a couple of teeth you don’t even need.


Source

Hyena Clitoris

Prepare your imaginations. During Hyena pregnancy, the mother provides a high level of hormones to strengthen the babies within. Unfortunately, these androgens damage ovaries and make it difficult for those children to conceive when they grow up.

What’s worse, is that the clitoris, which also serves as the birth canal in Hyenas, grows up to 7 inches, protruding like a penis from her body.


Source

“Imagine giving birth through a penis,” said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University

Errr, no thanks.

The consequence of this is that the tiny shaft – barely an inch in diameter – is ripped apart during birth, providing hyenas with a particularly high death rate in pregnant mothers.

The brain

The mother of all f**k ups. I mean, it’s wonderful and all, but there’s a phenomenal amount of inbuilt imperfections that are simply inexcusable. Wisdom teeth, for example. You can blame big brains for those.

Mental conditions are so rife in the human brain that we need a giant, 947 page book, the DSM-5 just to remember them all.

Many of these ‘disorders’ which lead us to shortened lives, suicides, homicides and more were actually evolutionarily advantageous back in the day, but our rapid change in lifestyle and culture made them a hindrance.

Bi-polar disorder, for example, is considered a mental tool that would have had a couple of advantages. First, mood swings would align with seasons and light, in the same kind of way bears hibernate or other creatures change their persona rapidly.

Second, bipolar disorder in women could have been advantageous for procreation, being more ‘manic when it’s summer time and convenient to get busy. This is backed up by the fact that bi-polar disorder is most prevalent in women of reproductive age.

Others include:
• OCD, which served as a psychological immune system
• ADHD was a great tool of innovation
• Dyslexia was a side-effect of a creative, problem-solving mind (only made a hindrance since the invention of writing)
• Austism, which served as a kind of survival superpower back in the hunter-gatherer days, working solo rather than in social groups.
• Stress, another wonderful survival skill now used to make us sick and die more easily.

So there you have it. A small sample of a huge, tangled mess we all put up with; humans AND animals. Next time you look in the mirror, admiring your own perfection, think again.

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China – the bad, part 3

This is Part 3 of my series on China. Each part can be read separately, but you can read part 1 here
https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-1-the-bad-part-1

and part 2 here
https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-2-the-bad-part-2

Previously I discussed:

Economy
Population
Culture (in part)
Health & Safety
Corruption

I’d like to explore more aspects of culture, with my Steemian friend, who, as a Chinese woman, has a first-hand account, @ginafraser. So let’s begin

Equality

In many ways, much of what I say here would probably apply globally, but China has a systematic approach to inequality which, though changing in some of the major ‘first tier’ cities like Shanghai and Beijing, still has a long way to go, and in much – perhaps most – of China, has an unchanged attitude towards equality, in particular, gender equality. I find this particularly striking given their socialist history. According to the Gender Inequality Index, China ranks 91 out of 187 countries (some tied), and 99th in the Gender Gap index.

These statistics may not go against any of your expectations, but let’s dig a little deeper into what this actually means, culturally.

Women in much of China are considered as little more than a homestay maid that provides sexual release for the men. But these women also have to be the right kind. A woman’s value rapidly deteriorates in China based on their age and whether or not they are a virgin.

Marriage markets

When I say value, I really mean value. A common sight in China – even in Shanghai – is the rather famous ‘Marriage Markets’. So much so that they’re even a tourist attraction on many websites.

Here you can essentially sell off women to eager, aging, single men. You can advertise men too, but unlike women, the men tend to increase their value with age, and it’s their wallets that really matter.

剩女

China has a popular idiom ‘剩女’ or ‘leftover women’, which refers to women in their late 20’s that are still unmarried (Just recently, the nation somehow collectively decided to lower this age to mid-20’s). After that threshold, your value decreases and your chances of finding a partner in the markets (and elsewhere) plummets. Women typically then feel pressure to get whatever they can take. Additionally, the ‘virgin system’, as @ginafraser puts it, causes value to drop even more. I find this particularly bewildering given that there is a huge gender imbalance in the population in the other direction; a surplus of 33 million men reside in China.

Once a woman finds a man and the man proposes, it’s not unusual for the woman’s family to put a price tag on their approval. My friend’s fiancée was given the go ahead after a nice, brand-new, widescreen TV was put on offer, for example. Some may simply ask for a lump cash sum to prove you’re a good person somehow.

Rights

Women typically have less rights overall. Mao Zedong, in his little red book, insisted that gender equality is a necessity in society, citing equal pay for equal work decades before modern SJWs were even born. But his words did not match reality, with very few discrimination cases and little to no protection against harassment until very recently when Xi Jinping started to make some reforms, and even that led to little change.

Even anecdotally, I know of sexually harassment to friends of mine in public; men touching their underwear with their penis in the subway. Others witness older men casually masturbating over them. ‘When she later asked Beijing locals about the incident she was told that older men were allowed to take part in this kind of activity as they are senile and it was just the way things were.’

According to a Chinese Non-governmental organization, a massive 70% of women here have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 15% have left their jobs because of it.

Furthermore, domestic violence is as high as 40% against women, and even higher in rural areas. Like everything here, the main issue is simply a lack of legislation and enforcement. There is no protection or shelters for abused women, no helping organizations, and abuse is largely considered a ‘family matter’ to the authorities. With that in mind, divorce is not granted on grounds of ‘abuse’. It’s just not a valid argument for divorce in China.

Now we get to the ugly bit.

Unwanted children & abortion

As mentioned above, there are 33 million more men in China than women. That’s a huge number, even for a population as big as China. It may be partly due to the one-child policy I talked about in part 1.
As the policy took over (though many exceptions were available), there was pressure in rural areas to birth males, who are apparently better at work. Women are undesirable; not good for work. So there is a natural desire to abort the fetus or failing that, abandon the baby so they can try again for a boy.

Often, a family is allowed a second child IF the first one is a woman, because this first attempt is considered a ‘failure’. I should note that this attitude in and of itself is common all over including Vietnam and India. This continental gendercide is winding down slowly, like every other problem, but not nearly fast enough. Abortion rates are still incredibly high in China. 336 million abortions were reported since the one-child policy was put into effect, or 13 million each year, many of them forced.

Suicide rates are higher in women than men in China – The only country in the world other than some small island with a population of about 10 people. Now we can start to see why.

CCP

The Communist Party of China, of which there are almost 90 million members, enjoys plenty of general rights compared to the rest of the expendable population. Becoming a member is considered ‘the ultimate resume boost’ to start off, and, going back to the marriage market, your value shoots up substantially. You are culturally more respected and become more influential, because becoming a member is something considered only for the elite – despite it being 7% of the entire population.
To put the cherry on the cake, members literally have more rights according to the Chinese constitution: ‘Article 35 proclaims, “Citizens of the PRC enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.” Another segment guarantees workers the right to strike, to speak out freely, air views fully, hold large debates and write big-character posters.’ – With a big asterisk at the bottom citing ‘applicable to members of the party only’

Well, that’s nice.

Censorship

China is probably most famous for its incredibly powerful censorship system. With the great firewall, and the lesser known great cannon, billions of dollars put into watching and controlling dissent through social media, internet and a full range of hacking skills, there’s little anybody can realistically do and get away with it – foreigners like me included.
A fellow co-worker, for example, was on skype to his son one day, when he got a phone call from the internet company. ‘Sorry to disturb your call with your son, but’.

Wait, what? It seems they were sitting there, watching them chat through their own computer screen before calling him up, which violates no privacy rights whatsoever. If a private company has that kind of power, what does the government have?
A lot.

五毛党

The Chinese government hires something they call ‘五毛党’, or ’50 cent army’. This is a massive array of individuals paid to manipulate public opinion online (though it’s just as likely it’s an official duty of membership to the CPC). They are responsible for faking 450 million social media posts according to research.

They are also there to snitch on dissenters among other things. They specifically focus on ‘derailing discussions unhelpful to the communist party’. Essentially, they are professional trolls.

Wechat

Wechat is China’s Whatsapp. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an incredible, powerful device that transforms life as we know it. But I’ll get into that in the ‘good’ post later on. The problem is that wechat consumes almost every aspect of life. In the app, you can call taxis, pay your bills, book cinema tickets or flights, order food or pay at restaurants, charge your phone, unlock a shared bike and a whole manner of oth – oh, and chat with your friends.

With 900 MILLION users depending on this all-consuming app, it’s a little worrying when you realise they have a very cozy relationship – as is required – with the government. Censorship is bountiful, and there are 50-cent eyes required in every group chat over a certain number of members. Members of large group of 500 or more also have to register their phone numbers so there’s no escape

The parent company, Tencent, without telling anybody, censors a whole range of key words and images that appear in newsfeeds, typically things relating to political issues like Tiananmen square, the Hong Kong protests and so on. Many users have been arrested and some reportedly ‘disappeared’ (a common theme in China) for writing dissenting ideas where more than a few people could read it.

There is in fact a whole new language created by Chinese netizens meant to be a code to bypass censorship, but the grip gets tighter every day.

Censorship is incredibly fast and efficient here, so word has to spread fast if anybody wants to even hope to make a difference and get people informed.

VPNs

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are surprisingly not illegal in China. But with the vast majority of the country totally unaware of what that is, it doesn’t mean much anyway, and it allows the hypocritical government to access whatever they please. Just recently however, there has been a crackdown on VPNs, and now only VPNs registered and authorized by the government may function in the country. Surprise, surprise.

Media

Typically, all media is heavily censored. Songs cannot sing about anything controversial, TV shows are all safe and family friendly (there is no age rating in China, so EVERYTHING has to be safe viewing for EVERYONE), Video games have to be safe and friendly, literature has to be compliant and family friendly. And safe.

There was a period drama released a couple of years ago called ‘Empress of China’ which, famously, was pulled from the network without warning, and was not heard of again until a few weeks later when it was re-instated. See if you can spot the difference:

That’s right. NO CLEAVAGE.

Blood is also unacceptable for the most part. The recent movie Logan was released here surprisingly, but only after a full 14 minutes were cut out. I’m sure you can guess which bits.

Most international movies released here (of which only 36 are allowed in a given year), have a scene or two cut from it. Which leads me to the final section of Part 3.

International Affairs.

You may have noticed a sharp rise in Chinese actors in minor roles in big movie hits across America. This is no accident. With China rapidly becoming the biggest cinema market, and by far the fastest rising market, it only makes sense that Hollywood sucks their… little red book. But over here, it’s even more pronounced. What you don’t see in America are the additional scenes specifically recorded by Hollywood to include a dialogue or action by some famous Chinese actress or actor being patriotic and all round heroic. Some movie examples are:

• Iron Man 3 – An extra scene showing famous Chinese actors as heroic doctors operating on Tony Stark
• X-men – Fan Bing Bing, the most famous actress in China, played a useless role
• Transformers – It includes a wide range of Chinese product placement
• World War Z – Left almost unrecognizable after all mention of China was removed
• Dozens of other movies (Looper, Pixels, Karate Kid, Django Unchained, Hunger games, and so on) – Scenes cut entirely for
Chinese viewing.

It’s safe to say that China is having a substantial impact on the Hollywood industry. Directors are carefully planning their movies to be suitable and attractive enough to fit into that small, 36-movies-a-year movie list in China.

One Belt, One Road

China is of course a global power, and boy, do they know it. But naturally, it’s never enough. Just recently, Xi Jinping has released grandiose plans for the ‘One Belt, One road’ initiative; a giant update of the old silk road

The move plans to economically connect the world with China for developmental and cooperative reasons. But it’s not all it seems to be.

It has already gone under fire when footage of Kenyans protesting about the new rail system being installed by China surfaced. The rail system connecting the one belt will triple import and export times.

The Kenyans were protesting for a pay raise from $2.50 to $5… per day to start, but there was also protest about the track cutting right through a protected wildlife reserve, treatment of workers and all round poor conditions, such as firing Kenyan staff without cause, firing Kenyans for asking for more pay, dredging sand from beaches for construction, and stealing water from local communities.

This is common across Africa with Chinese companies, with many human rights laws being broken, with outbreaks of cholera, no protective gear and more.

But not to worry, it’s a divided issue, and at least thousands of new jobs have been provided to install the project. Sounds great! Except… the companies China brings to Africa import their own labour. Very few Kenyans actually got to work on the project.
The problems get bigger still. Kenya will be forcefully buried into debt as a result of this project. Kenya’s debt is now 700% of its annual budget – 60% of which belongs to China.

Similar plans are happening around the entire belt. In Vietnam, plans to ‘help develop’ the country will add additional debt equal to the country’s entire annual budget. There is certainly something sinister about this peace project.
500 billion dollars was given in trade in Latin America, with a further 250 billion in direct investments. Yes, almost a trillion dollars in the continent. As for One belt? An estimated 3 Trillion dollars will be sunk into that beast.

There are even broader efforts by China of global domination. In New York Times Square, for example, there is a huge propaganda ad playing 120 times a day, and has entire sections of newspapers dedicated to Chinese patriotism all over the country. Chinese propaganda is commonplace with entire TV channels dedicated to praising the CPC and more.

Overall, China spends around 10 billion dollars on international propaganda, compared to the US’s $666 million.

Make of that what you will.


Can you spot the propaganda?

To conclude

China’s influence on the world is phenomenal, and its rate of growth is even more astonishing. As worrying as this might be, the internal issues are, to me, a much greater concern. Political battles, human rights abuses, an extremely alarming disregard for safety standards and health, pollution disasters, substantial poverty, inequality, animal cruelty and a whole range of aspects I didn’t get time or space to cover, they all lead to one thing:

I need to make a Part 4!

But I promise it will be a lot shorter next time.

Thanks for reading this far, and a special thanks to @ginafraser for her personal knowledge included in this article.

Brainwashing – Old and New

Original post here – https://steemit.com/psychology/@mobbs/brainwashing-old-and-new

I’d like to preface this post with a…hmm… ‘Trigger warning’ (urgh). Further down it goes anti-Islamic, and generally anti-religion. But I want to be very clear that it is not anti-Muslim or anti-religious person, and I try to make that clear distinction.

The critique of an ideology is not bigotry, so if anybody has opposing opinions, we can discuss it civilly below!


Brainwashing is such an overused term when trolling or generally arguing on the internet, that the potency of its effects are often undermined.

Then

Brainwashing is an incredible global force that in many ways has defined and carved civilisation. Think about that. Some ridiculous Chinese people revere in Hitler’s achievements, saying he’s strong and changed the world for the better with some sacrifices – Just like Mao!

Historians often claim that Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire was one of the best things that ever happened to us; it connected the east with the west and set up the blueprints of continental trade and communication that we thrive on to this day.

But close your eyes and imagine being there. Imagine being the victim of Khan’s wrath, of Hitler’s ideas and ideology. Imagine being thrown into the mud ad a group of nomadic, brutal men throw planks of wood on you and your child, so you serve as the foundations for a victory party, with dozens of horses and hundreds of men trampling you from above, breaking your ribs, your children’s skull, and the hundreds of other victims surrounding your now broken and lifeless corpse.

Suddenly, that continental connection doesn’t seem so important.

Imagine looking up in your final breath, having had a bullet in your lungs, and seeing a field, plain and flat, as far as the eye can see on a snowy winters day in Stalingrad, yet you can’t actually see any grass or plains, but instead, carcass after carcass, lined up head to toe, messy piles reaching as far as the eye can see, like blades of grass that had just been mowed down by an industrial lawnmower.


battle of Stalingrad… the results

Suddenly, Hitler’s ideology doesn’t seem so valid.

Time is a natural brainwasher, and a very powerful one at that. We look at the 1200’s in amazement, but we can’t grasp the kind of world the 1200’s under the power of the Khan. It’s just too far away.
ISIS is nothing, ISIS is an ageing mosquito, slowly buzzing near your ear compared to the world our ancestors lived in.

This kind of brainwashing is inevitable in most ways beneficial. Living with this kind of knowledge every day would be the end of us.


Now

But although there are still countless atrocities going on right now, we really do live in a time of comparative peace. In fact, it is easily the most peaceful era in human history.

But as a result, a new kind of brainwashing has been born: Voluntary Brainwashing. And I can’t stand it.

Recently, my home country, England, has seen Islamic terrorism hit its shores again. It’s terrible, and it happens all over the world on a regular basis. Pick any birthday, and you can be sure to find a bunch of deaths related to Islamic terrorism on that day (I checked). So do we really have to keep pushing the ‘not all Muslims’ agenda, one of the most prominent forms of voluntary brainwashing?

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Obviously. If they were, we would all be dead right now – INCLUDING all Muslims, since they largely can’t agree with each other.

But it’s totally beside the point.

It’s like saying ‘not all North Koreans are evil dictators’. yeah, we know. But we also know that those North Koreans are trapped, brainwashed by the powers that reside over them, helpless. The only knowledge they get is the knowledge they’re told, the knowledge those almighty leaders want them to know.

In Islam, the exact same situation. Yet we condemn north Korea and for some absurd reason, do everything we can to revere Islam.

Every single terrorist attack that decapitates a dozen teenage girls, or injures 500 London commuters or the specks of beheadings and knifing and axing and van driving with a Muslim behind the wheel, weapon and action, with every one of them, it takes mere seconds for the solidarity movement to jump onto social media and say NOT ALL MUSLIMS!

Yeah. It’s not the Muslims that are the problem. It’s Islam.

Islam is one of the most successful brainwashing tools the earth has ever known. All religions are pretty efficient at this, but i’d say they are not voluntary.

You, as a Muslim, are trapped. You are victims of forced, lifelong brainwashing. From the day they are born, they are surrounded by adults who don’t want to teach them to think for themselves. They want to teach them to obey the ideals of a prophet of war, a vengeful God. A belief system that demands world dominance and the slaughter of all non-believers. How can you believe anything else when everything around you tells you otherwise? How can you escape when you are threatened with death for leaving?

For the vast majority of Muslims, there’s no way out.

So given how trapped they truly are, how can it possibly help those presumably millions living in fear of their leaders and Gods and prophets, but still blind to their faith from a lifetime of brainwashing, when those non-religious folk or Christians or general liberal minds across the west stand around with their fingers up their arses pretending Islam is a beautiful religion that people have simply distorted?

No.

Islam, like every religion, is a serious problem. And I’m very aware that you, as a westerner (probably) are more likely to get crushed by your fridge than fall for a Jihadist bombing, or get gunned down by a latino or whatever, but again, beside the point.

Most of these statistics showing that Muslim terror attacks are the least likely threat to you are generally based in the US, where Muslims are barely 1% of the population, and terrorist attacks are typically rare on the whole. When you go global, Muslims are 6 times more likely to commit an act of terror compared to the rest of the population)

Here is about 25% of the Islamic Terror attacks that have occurred in the last 30 days. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in one image.

But I want to focus on the very core of the religion, not it’s distorted offshoots.

There are many, many overwhelmingly alarming problems inherent to the ideology as a whole that simply do not fit in our comparatively peaceful world. It may have been a useful tool during the era of empirical conquests and cultural revolutions, but saying it has a place in this world, in 2017 is just dangerous, voluntary brainwashing.

It promotes suppression of women, it often prohibits freedom of religion around the world and it resists democracy and freedom of speech at every turn with a brutal Sharia Law.

When you learn that a vast number, of nations with huge populations think stoning somebody for adultery is the way to go (89% in Pakistan, 81% in Egypt), and those who wish to leave the religion should be put to death (62% in Malaysia, 66% in Palestinian territory), can you call yourself a Feminist or a Liberal as you desperately try to protect them by reminding us that NOT ALL MUSLIMS are terrorists?


When you learn the Koran teaches global conquest, to dominate over all other religions, be it through death or simply out-breeding slowly over generations (as told by spatterings of current leaders of Islamic groups around the world), are you still going to sit there, twiddling your thumbs reciting ‘NOT ALL MUSLIMS’? or ‘Christianity used to be just as bad!’ or ‘Some Christians in Africa are brutal too!’

Think about it. Don’t brainwash yourself. Religious people, especially Muslims, need saving. They are trapped victims of the most powerful psychological tool mankind has ever created.

If you are a Muslim reading this from a moderate family in a moderate country who feels fine with what you’re doing and what your religion stands for around the world, well, I don’t know what to say, but you are lucky enough to be in a country where you can make that choice, whichever way you decide.

Let’s make Critical Thinking the new global superpower and do away with all this fantastical, menacing nonsense. Stop giving a hand to a religion that goes against literally everything we believe in.

China – The bad… Part 2

(for included images, see the original blog post here: https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-2-the-bad-part-2)

Health & Safety

## Food & Drink

This is a BIG one.

China is renowned for its counterfeit products, its lackadaisical approach to piracy and a variety of other scandals, on the top of this pyramid of crime, I would say, is the rather ubiquitous fake foods industry, of which there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to scandals (And believe me, it doesn’t cover the half of it) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_safety_incidents_in_China

These incidents can simply be disgusting, like using cardboard in place of breaded food. Others are mildly concerning, like the recent bout of fake Budweiser, in which a small factory was busted for producing 600,000 crates every month ‘as workers at the factory dumped their bare hands in buckets of beer to fill the cans before sealing them shut on a dirty-ass conveyor belt’

Then we get to the downright dangerous and disgusting, like using human hair and sewage in tofu manufacturing, and poisonous baby formula, in which 300,000 children were made sick, and 6 were killed in this single incident in China alone. Other countries were also affected. There are numerous incidents of entire schools falling ill, some even having students contracting cancer from food incidents like this (though it could be wildly coincidental that somebody was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that 500 students fell severely sick, who knows).

Li Chiangjiang forced to resign from his position as safety boss after 53,000 infants fall ill from a baby formula scandal.

 

More personal to me, a recent man was caught on my very street with over a thousand dead cats hanging in plastic bags in his dingy apartment. He had been hunting cats in the street, killing them and preparing to sell them to restaurants – who would then claim it was another meat, such as rabbit. This was also not an isolated incident. I have a cat, so I made sure never to let him out again, until I moved house to a safer area. Again, this is in downtown Shanghai – the most developed and westernized city in the country.

Shanghai locals and expats always thought they were safe from food scandals like this, imagining the better safety procedures in such a wealthy city, yet only a few years ago, reports of 6,000 dead, rotting pigs floating down shanghai river shocked the world, as farmers from some unknown place upstream, due to some unknown cause of death.

 

 

Other restaurants just recently have been shut down – thirty-five in one bust – for adding opiates in their food in an odd attempt to drive customers back with addictive qualities.

http://fortune.com/2016/01/22/china-cracks-down-on-restaurants-opiate-use/

I was unable to find any data on how many deaths are pinned to food safety; it would be very difficult to count given the long term health issues, the sheer number of scandals, many of which still going to this day, and the general lack of control the government seems to have on these issues.

But it’s fair to say, when living in China, you have to live with the fact that you have probably eaten something unsafe, unsavory and illegal that may have detrimental effects to your health. You have to lead a very paranoid and careful lifestyle to see it through safely.

Even water is not a safe haven’t escaped it, with videos surfacing of individuals filling water bottles with unsafe tap water – some claiming 70% of bottled water is fake in cities like Beijing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFmQfTKuCH0

Well, if you’re going to live here being perpetually poisoned, might as well take it up as a dirty habit right? Grab a cigarette.

Actually, not so fast.

There is, I’m sorry to say, a thriving underground world of fake cigarette manufacturing. An estimated 400 billion fake cigarettes are produced in China – ‘Enough to supply every American smoker with 460 packs a year. These are produced in huge factories, often literally underground, like the subterranean factories in Yunxia.

These fake cigarettes are so profitable that even individuals that invested millions into legitimate factories ended up returning to the highly lucrative crime.

Since these counterfeit sticks are not regulated by health and safety procedure, they have been found with 80% more nicotine and 130% more carbon monoxide, as well as other decorative ingredients like insect eggs and human feces.

The safety of China is unbearable to think about, and there is a flood of flashbacks from a wide variety of reports going through my mind as we speak, but I’m already approaching 1,000 words and I have a lot more to cover.

## Pollution

This one is quite self-explanatory, but exacerbated by political corruption – as usual.

China is one of the top offenders of pollution. Recently, it has been reported that it’s possible India is in fact a worse polluter now, but since there is little comparative effort to diagnose their cities’ particulate levels, they have just been unappreciated until recently.

Having said that, 7 of the top 10 world’s most polluted cities are all located in China: Taiyuan, Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Jinan and Shijiazhuang. This is quite broad geography, spanning from way out west all the way to the east coast, and does not fully enlighten you on the details.

Recently, the city of Shenyang reported PM2.5 levels of 1,400.

PM2.5 is the particulate matter that is around 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. This is considered the most dangerous particle group. Pm10 is typically things like pollen, whereas 2.5 is more like chemical pollutants that can easily enter the lungs and cause short, mid and long term health effects. 1.6 million people are put to death from polluted air in China each year.

So how bad is 1,400? Well, to put this into perspective, London, as I write, has an AQI (Air quality index) of 30.

Shanghai is faring almost as good at 38 – An incredibly rare occurrence, I’ll admit – and Beijing is around 150. The MAXIMUM level on the scale we use worldwide is a ‘hazardous’ 500 PPM, at which point all citizens will feel health effects and possibly breathing problems.

So when a city reaches 1,400… one can only imagine. All the cotton masks in the world aren’t going to save you.

This would be all very well if there was a prioritized effort to clean it up, but the government have made some… alternative plans. After Beijing was put under red alert for its dangerous levels of pollution three times in a short period, they simply raised the threshold required to create a red alert, several times, and, well, they haven’t had a red alert since! Problem solved!

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/22/beijing-raises-red-alert-threshold-for-air-pollution-warning

There are actually some profound efforts to clean up the air in China though, which I’ll cover in the ‘good’ post another time.

 

## Hygiene

Hygiene is a serious issue in many developing countries, and though China is on its way out of that label – Kind of (See part 1), it still has a long way to go.

You never have to go far, for example, to find some of the most disgusting public bathrooms mankind has to offer. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve cautiously entered a toilet cubicle only to find the wettest shit smeared over the actual seat – For reasons unknown – or on the floor.

A lot of this is to do with methodology and beliefs. It is believed that squatting is better for your bowels, allowing a smoother release and reducing stress to your insides, so you might find some country folk unaware of the point of a western toilet, and try hopelessly to climb onto the toilet to crouch over the bowl and, well, mistakes were made.

And yes, this actually happens. Another sign is needed:

But is squatting actually better for you, or is it just a hangover from the days when a toilet was (and still is in more rural areas and other developing countries) a simple hole in the ground?

Well, according to a study by a company that sells squat toilets, yes, it’s much healthier:

The modern day toilet is convenient, but has one major fault; it requires us to sit. While sitting to do our business may be considered “civilized”, studies show the natural squat position improves our ability to eliminate… The puborectalis muscle creates a natural kink to help maintain continence. Squatty Potty relaxes this muscle for fast, easy elimination.

As for real science, well, the studies have been disappointingly small. Although it’s true that squatting does create an easier release, this generally makes sense because you’re bending and pushing your weight into your bowels and adding pressure. Additionally, none of the studies claim that western toilets are an actual cause of constipation or bad for your health, it’s just that squatting feels better.
For me, I’m so unfit that squatting has been a traumatizing issue, and after hiking for hours uphill every day in Nepal, squatting in a shed is the last thing I want to be doing to my poor, tired legs.

There is the issue of your butt touching the seat that a thousand others have touched, but on one hand, studies show the bacteria on an average toilet seat is fewer in number and less dangerous than that found on your smartphone, and on the other hand, squat toilets tend to look like this:

And the splashback from that is something I’m not too keen to think about.

There are a range of other hygiene issues in Chinese culture, such as the whole philosophy of ‘ridding oneself of bodily waste when the need arises’, hence the bum-less trousers on babies in part 1, as well as the spitting, peeing and shitting from adults at any given time and place. But again, we better move on.
# Corruption

Corruption is rife around the world. You can find innumerable instances of it at any given time in any given place. Some are worse than others, like Kenya, known as possibly one of the most corrupt countries with a government. But we’re here to talk about China, so let’s go.

## Money

As mentioned in part 1, the Chinese economy isn’t doing too well. This is not helped by the raging corruption going around in big businesses and political families.

Since Xi JinPing, affectionately known as Xidada, came into power, he has been battling with corruption left over by Jiang Zemin, a previous party leader. The ideology of each leader seem to be so opposite that it has caused a complete overhaul via one of the biggest anti-corruption campaigns in history.

Several years ago, authorities seized $14.5 billion in assets from family members and associates of Zhou YongKang, a previous security chief of the CPC – more than some small countries make in a given year.

Zhou YongKang is a man responsible for a colourful array of crimes against humanity, including torture, intimidation, labour camps, persecution of dissidents, minorities and religious leaders, at the request of his leader, yep, Jiang Zemin.

Jiang Zemin, leader of the CPC from 1989 to 2002.

Since the cultural revolution, it has been the case that top officials would not investigate each other. That’s just how it’s been. Until Xi Jinping came along. So this huge case was the beginning of a new era, of ruthless wars between two factions within the communist party. And that intense battle between Jiang and Xi is… something for another post.

But since this all began, a huge number of officials have been arrested, some have disappeared entirely, and others forced to resign and even put to death. In the aforementioned case alone, 300 were arrested on charges of corruption. The fact that the richest and most powerful people in China fell like dominoes is testament to how serious this whole thing is.

When first put into power, the previous leader (who was rather unsubstantial due to the overwhelming influence of Jiang Zemin before him), warned Xi that if corruption wasn’t dealt with, it will cause the fall of the party, and the fall of the country.

Since then, Xi has taken down over a million officials… according to official statistics, anyway. It’s such a big thing that there’s even a reality TV show based around political figures confessing to their crimes.

Bai Enpai, sentenced to death for taking 38 million dollars of bribes.

When you start looking at numbers passing a million officials in corruption, you have to wonder, is this such a simple problem, or is this part of a larger culture, a system-wide situation that condones corruption from the ground up? It sounds to me like the entire party of the entire country of China has been totally fine with it.

The public are not unaware of this either, with 50% of the public saying corruption is a very big problem in the country, and a further 34% think it’s quite a big issue – a combined concern higher than all other aspects researched, such as health, crime and pollution.

 

The battle continues to this day, and although it’s clear the battle is benefiting Xi in many ways, garnering an exponential amount of power (Some liken his power to be on par with Mao Zedong himself now, and has officially been called ‘the core leader of the party’), it also has the added benefit of ‘draining the swamp’, as some orange-haired buffoon once famously put it.

But this is a big swamp, and the effects are far reaching.

## Ghost cities

The mishandling of money in China creates hefty artificial inflation, unstable financial markets and insane property bubbles that climb to levels higher than anywhere in the world.

One side-effect of this are pretty cool Ghost Cities.

One city, Wuliang, has a multi-million-dollar airport that sees less than 5 flights in any given day. Another which had a planned population of 1 million, has a mere 1 in 50 buildings occupied.

There are at least 50 of these ghost cities across China, and that’s only from one little study. Part of the reason why is because corrupt officials want to get promotions up the wazoo. Promotions are assigned based on their reported GDP growth. By artificially inflating those numbers by building way more infrastructure than necessary. This, in the example of Wuliang, created a temporary GDP growth of a massive 21%. Shortly thereafter, however, the report showed a -2% GDP growth, and that will only be lower now.

With Xi’s anti-corruption campaign going strong, corrupt officials inflating GDP, corrupt factories working in these ghost city and all corrupt families involved, tend to disappear and you’re left with yet another desolate landscape.
## To be continued…

Well, this has been so substantial and interesting to work on, I’ll have to make a THIRD part to this series on the bad stuff. I’ll cover areas involving society and equality, racism, the education system, ecology and international influence of China.

Hope you enjoyed reading, and, watch what you eat.

China – The Bad

Originally posted here – https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-1-the-bad-part-1

Here’s the first of 2 or 3 posts I’ll be making about my opinion of China, based on various facts and data. I’ve lived here for about 4 years now and 7.5 years in this general area in Asia, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about this.

But… it’s complicated. Part 1 will get all the negative stuff out the way. Part 2 will reflect on the great things China is, will be, and has to offer.

The Bad

Economy

China is still largely in abject poverty. Although there is great pride in the people that ‘700 million have been lifted out of poverty’ (similarly written in Chinese but not so direct, such as 摘去贫困帽 (taking off the poverty hat) and 减贫(reduce poverty), it comes with a huge asterisk.

The definition of poverty in China is anybody earning $1.90 or less a day. This means anybody earning $1.91 a day is not considered poverty, and now fits comfortably in the ‘Low income’ bracket. Doesn’t sound so bad now, huh? But the fact remains, people here are VERY poor.

Additionally, the definition of poverty in China is not the same as the global definition of poverty. The global definition for a start, is ‘less than $2 a day’, but the US poverty line, for example, is around $12,000 a year for an individual.

Now obviously there is a lot more complications when it comes to what poverty actually is, regarding health, opportunity and so on. But that’s just it. Claiming 50% of your entire population has been lifted from poverty gives you the impression that 700 million individuals have been pushed out of a little mud hut, starving in the cold, and dumped in a flashy new apartment with a nice but modest car. This just isn’t so.

What’s worse is that the wealth of the country is rammed into the west coast cities, a big black marker pen line is drawn down the left side of them, and then the rest of the country’s economy is in shambles.

Here you can see that by 2020, things may look a little better for some places, but when comparing GDP across various provinces of China, the contrast is quite stark. Where you have eastern provinces and some central ones sharing a GDP with Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the Netherlands, a short trip out west and you cross over to territory sharing an economy with that of Kenya, Kazakhstan and even Zambia.

In this other map, you can see the mean income is divided very strongly across that eastern band:

Where the coastal provinces may be earning, per individual, 30-100%+ the mean income, the west is earning as little as half the mean.

When you think of China, you may think of the shiny, beautiful Skyline of The Bund. But we should never forget the dirty, dilapidated classrooms the children of China are growing up in, in their millions.

Now, the government has been providing the nation with a general prediction that growth will slow to 7% or even lower to around 6.5%. This is shocking news and a foreboding symbol of the future. Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly not true. There is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the Chinese economy is in fact growing much slower already.

The man in charge of the economy, The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang has even been leaked saying he can’t see how 6.5% is possible, and states it’s more likely to be as low as 2-3%. I won’t go into too much details on the evidence for the weakening economy, but trust me, it’s there.

Alongside this worrying reality, reports from China have insisted there is stability nationwide, with such unbelievable claims that unemployment is around 3-4% at any given time, but the reality is clearly less utopian.

With a false sense of security in its economy, compounded by a huge economic divide across the country, news only gets worse when businesses decide to leave in droves because China is now no longer quite poor ENOUGH to be profitable, compared to, say, India! Not only that, but around 70% of all Millionaires in China are either planning to leave China or have already left China, because their assets are not well protected or not very valuable in their home country.

The economy in China starts getting VERY complicated at this point, but needless to say, it’s very troublesome. So let’s move on:

Population.

The first thing most people think, is that the infamous One-Child Policy is inhumane and ineffective. Others might think it’s a necessary effort to curb an exploding population. Well, let’s take a look.

As you can see, the birth rate has been on the decline. But as you will also notice, the One-Child Policy, established in 1979, came immediately AFTER birth rates plummeted naturally. What happened?

Well, in short, during Mao Zedong’s ‘great leap forward’, he encouraged everybody to have as many babies as possible. Dozens! if possible per family. Then… a while after that the government decided this wasn’t such a great idea and started to re-educate. A lot of propaganda and education informing people to slow down was spread all over the streets, and, thankfully – as you can see – it was pretty effective.

But the Communist party figured this wasn’t enough, and established a rather foolhardy law that each family can only raise one child. Once this law was put in place, ironically, the population growth started to level off.

The interesting thing is, there are so many exceptions to this rule that almost 60% of women are actually allowed a second child, but actively choose not to. Now the rule has been updated to a 2-child policy, and its making no difference to the choices of those women.

However, the impact of the law has not gone unnoticed. With a huge percentage of families affected, China has an insane average family set up of

  • One child
  • Two parents
  • Four grandparents

This seems pretty normal until you realise that child is now entirely responsible for looking after her 6 aging family members, who are now living longer than ever. With the gender preference being male, there are 35 million extra men in China, too. This means competition is fierce and you end up with a lot of men unable to get partners for financial support.

Even worse, since the pressure on only children is to go to University and become rich, Schools are overcrowded, jobs are unavailable and half a dozen men end up living in 蚁族, or ‘Ant tribes’ – Tiny rooms, often even underground, with 6, 8 or more men cramped within. Each one expected to support 6 elderly folk.

With so few children being born, and so many old people living for so long, China is set to have an aging population crisis as bad or worse than Japan, with too few workers healthy and young enough to actually support the country.

So the population is kind of a mess, and there’s going to be no easy, quick way out of it.

Culture

China has to be the only place in the world that needs a ‘no spitting’ sign. This sign I spotted in the Shanghai subway system, which comes across as a surprise to me, since Shanghai is supposed to be the most civilized and westernized city in the country. And in many ways it is (but we’ll save that for the ‘The good’ post another day), but the Culture of Disgust is still strong even here.

You may see the occasional person spitting, peeing, vomiting wherever you are in the world, but it gets out of hand here.

Anecdotally, my commute to work involved a 5 minute walk to either the corner where I get a taxi, or to the subway station. Either way it’s the same distance. In that 5 minute walk, I decided to record my experience. For 2 months, every day (including weekends), I would take note whenever I heard a local Hock and Spit as loud as that person possibly could.

A few days went by and each day, at least one person, but usually 2 or 3, would hock up their junk and spit it on the floor roughly as loud as an angry seal. Then a few weeks passed. Finally, after 2 months, I gave up and realized I had proven the point I already knew. Every single day, in any given 5 minute period, a person – man or woman – in their 30s-80’s, will be certain to do this disconcertingly close to your feet.

It is an outrageous and bizarre phenomenon that has a few explanations. Some are simply related to the vast smoking culture – 1/3 of the entire population smoke, and about 45% of all cigarettes on earth are produced here. There are even arcade grab machines littered across the city, stocked full of cigarette boxes.

Other explanations are more complex, relating to the Purge of Intellects during Mao’s rule, threatened by their informed disagreements with him. Spitting loudly was a way to show you were just a country boy, rather than, say, a doctor, and thus your life was protected.

Who knows, but thankfully from what I can tell, the younger generation are at least trying to avoid this (though they’re not all free of guilt).

But alas, it gets worse. Peeing in the streets is absolutely rampant. When going to work via taxi, I’ll see at least one man (yeah it’s obviously always men), usually a taxi driver, peeing on a wall or on a tree. They don’t try to hide it or find a corner, they often even just stand in the middle of the pavement just letting loose.

Even more extreme, I’ve witnessed on no less than four occasions, people taking a shit in the subway. IN THE TRAIN. In one scenario, it was just a child, but rather than have a nappy, the mother chose the money saving option of just having a pair of trousers with a bum hole for easy excretion.

The child decided to let loose ON its mother, who was sitting in one of the seats. But she saw it coming. So rather than move or do anything in particular, she simply rammed one of the subway map papers handed out to everyone on board, under the baby’s bum, the baby let loose (and it was a liquidy one), and… well, that was that. She just sat there.

The train stopped at the next station and she CONTINUED to sit there, determined to get to her destination. Naturally by this point, I evacuated and waited for the next train.

This might be some extreme scenario, but it’s not. It is reported on frequently, and it gets worse as country folk come to the city during vacation times, unaware of any etiquette or health and hygiene standards. They will quite happily sit on a trash can and let it all out, walking off like it’s just another day. And after being here for so long, that’s how you eventually learn to treat these things.

My other gripe with Chinese culture is the lack thereof. Unfortunately, the Chinese Government has suppressed much of its native traditions and celebrations. Living in Korea and Vietnam, and visiting many surrounding countries, you see huge celebrations on times such as Buddhas birthday, the Lunar festival and so on. However, I see almost none of that here. I see no decorations, no parades, no festivals of great size. What I see are people going home to their families and sitting bored in front of the TV until it’s time to go back to work. Work will then make them stay for an extra weekend or two to make up for the ‘lost’ time they spent sitting in front of the TV. A holiday is rarely a holiday here. It’s more just a re-shuffling of the weekly schedule, moving some weekdays onto weekends. A kind of trick, or propaganda art to make people think they’re getting time off.

In Korea, I have a great memory of floating lanterns, thousands of people participating in a public display of parading fire-breathing dragons, Chinese music, ancient characters from Chinese stories. A parade that took 2 hours to pass you by as the giant wall of well-rehearsed individuals danced their way past you.

Gorgeous lights and displays, fireworks can be seen all around the borders of China. But rarely within. In fact, fireworks are now banned in Shanghai.

With such suppression, beliefs and culture seem to be merely an afterthought. Out west in the more open regions, you will see more of this still alive, but it’s not like its the pride of the country, it’s simply because the government hasn’t decided to stamp it out yet.

The government already has an iron grasp on religion (All churches and other buildings must report to officials regularly and their content must strictly adhere to guidelines), with Falun Gong being considered the religious practice of satan himself and anyone caught doing it will be arrested and probably have their organs harvested – that’s an actual thing, by the way, with some evidence showing up to a million Falun Gong individuals getting their organs taken without consent.


Look at those evil falun gong practitioners.

Muslims in Xinjiang, totalling 40% of the population in that region, are given curfew, with military presence all around at any given time, and their internet cut out completely sometimes for months at a time.

And I don’t even need to talk about TIbet, in which the spiritual leader of Buddhism was kidnapped, never to be seen again, and replaced with a new, Communist-friendly figure of Buddha.

You can start to see that pretty much every problem China has boils down to one thing: The Chinese Communist Party. Economy, Education, Culture, Equality, Corruption. It’s all there, in that gigantic party nobody can ever remove or replace.

So for now, there you have it. The bad. I need to do a part 2, including censorship, business & corruption and more, but then I promise you I will touch on the great things to hopefully wash the bitter taste from your mouth!

Every country has its problems, and I have happily complained in great depth about my own country, the USA, Korea, Vietnam and more. I just happen to live in China, so that is my current focus. Feel free to share a different opinion!

Mysterious ways

The recent death of my local street cat, Meow, has made me think a lot about things I already tend to think about, but slightly more.

In particular, the lack of a God, and even more particular, the lack of a god worshiped by humans thus far. I know this is about to be a long winded approach to a very simple concept but hell, get used to it.

I mean, from the get go it’s pretty obvious that humans have just been worshiping themselves in disguise this entire time, but what’s to say there isn’t some god we have been too innately selfish to recognize; an asshole god?

Who are we to decide what God is like? Why should a god be all loving and forgiving (lol)?

Meow, as an example, was a lovely, loving, social, friendly fun cat. She was raped by a big mean cat. 2 months later she went through what is probably the worst type of death since the movie Se7en. I’d challenge anyone reading this to imagine giving birth, only to release one dead, and have perhaps 6 more inside, dead or dying.

Then imagine the situation being stuck like that for another week while you constantly try to push and fail from pure exhaustion and pain, to the point that you’re unable to move, react or eat. Finally, on the last day, without any understanding as to what’s going on, your body has already stiffened from death, but you’re still barely alive, twitching and shaking in agony until the second you die, babies still within.

Now I want you to apply that kind of pain to literally millions and millions of people. Nice, innocent people.

I say people  because I understand that people don’t relate to the plight of animals in the same way myself and others do, but the outcoming question is the same; why?

I know the answer, unfortunately. There is no why, there is no because. One could (and One’s do) argue the rhetoric ‘God works in mysterious ways’ (You can tell I’ve watched Se7en recently) which is another way of saying ‘I can’t explain it but I’m smart enough to be able to say something un-falsifiable in return’.

With that in mind, if I was forced somehow by fear or another person to believe in a God of my choosing, I would choose a vengeful, wrathful psychotic god who was really quite unstable. If I was to apply human values in the same way all the current gods are, I’d say he was pretty depressed that his girlfriend goddess dumped him for the long-haired, sporty PHD god down the road, and he needed to take it out on someone.

We all know that humans are awful and evil. But we also all know that humans are wonderful and kind. I understand from the Great Bastard that filtering out who is good and who is bad can be tricky, given that each individual may be both evil and wonderful, and there are many gray areas in which a person cannot be defined as either, but you’d think it would be in the nature of a supreme being to figure out a working system to fully justify in an equal and fair matter.

Not the Great Bastard. His mind is clearly to focused on how best to stalk his ex to research the most effective tactics to win her back. He clearly took a quick look at the world, got confused and frustrated and just sprinkled an arbitrary and random array of pain, suffering and joy across the globe and is probably on his way back to see what happened. Of course, in the cosmic time period that could be millions of years from now, so I’d sit back and accept the plight of life as it is, embrace your emotions and otherwise do whatever the hell you want.

I still miss you, Meow.

Goodbye, Meow

The street cat that lives outside my apartment is on its last legs after a failed pregnancy. I think most the babies are still inside (one of which came out and died after a struggle) and she just gave up, exhausted. It’s been days now of lying around, barely raising her head to acknowledge anything or anyone, unfinished food. Now she doesn’t open her eyes and her body is stiff. Breathing, shaking/twitching, but not much else.

I guess if I was somebody like my loving vegan friend, Faye​, I would be immediately taking it to the vet to spend everything I have in the bank on a low chance of survival, but unfortunately I doubt I even have enough for such a probably surgery, and even if I did, I don’t trust the Chinese animal doctors in the slightest. Additionally, the cat has been fed and looked after by an elderly man who seems to have nothing else to put his attention to, so it would be unfair of me to take to a vet for it to die away from him. He did, afterall, build it a wooden home and gave some of his old clothing as bedding.

I’m happy he did what he did because he was the only counter argument against my neighbour, who has a cat permanently chained to the wall in their kitchen, where it spends its entire life desperately meowling as loud as its throat will allow it without breaking (Although sometimes it does break, you can hear it). There it will live, year after year, night after night, sitting in its box. I find it difficult to stop myself generalising about all Chinese as uncaring beasts when it comes to animals.

Another was near my friend’s previous home, in which a magpie was hanging in a tiny cage outside a door. A common sight for ‘good luck’ or whatever bullshit. In the cage, the magpie was unable to do anything but stand in the same spot. I doubt it could so much as turn around. It was smart. Without breaking the law I would point at the required hinge to unleash the door and escape, and it would acknowledge, move away from its previous unrelenting attempts to get out, and attempt my suggestion. However, I doubt it could even fly.

Well, I’ve said my goodbyes to Meow (placeholder name), and I’m very sad with little expectation she’ll survive, but there’s always that lingering hope that she will recover in some way.
I was kind of hoping that the dozens and dozens of pets that have died in my life would have made me a bit numb but I guess the last death, Dizzi, was quite some years ago now and my brain has since weakened again.

Time to get myself 25 cats to build up an immunity. Goodbye, Meow (placeholder name)

 

Edit: I got home from a day out to find she has, finally, ended her pain and passed away. I hold no shame in the tears I have trouble holding back but it doesn’t make much sense. I guess it was the release of a bunch of pent up emotions or something.

I left a message in English and Chinese, saying goodbye and how I’ll miss seeing her every day on my way to work.