Archive for December, 2010

Happy whatever-you-want-to-call-it

December 22nd, 2010

How does an a-theist like me wish someone a happy Christmas?

After all, I am not a follower of the Christ. “Happy Christmas” trips off my tongue largely out of habit, thanks to my Catholic upbringing, but midwinter celebrations probably pre-date civilisation itself, so why should I be left out of wishing my fellow humans well when the nights are longest?

I feel love for my fellow humans as much as the next person, regardless of their spiritual leanings,  so here is my midwinter wish for you. Please take it very personally.

A roundabout way to park

December 16th, 2010

I love Spain and the Spanish and they are a very talented race of people.

But there is one thing they just don’t get: parking.

They park on corners, on pedestrian crossings, across multiple bays in parking lots and around the outside lane of roundabouts (also known as “islands”).

They also stop wherever they happen to be when they want to take a phone call, be that on a road or by the side of a motorway (the hard shoulder in Spain is very narrow, so when you pull over, you are partially on the motorway itself).

The best was today, though. I was navigating a roundabout, glancing over my shoulder to see if I could change lanes safely, when out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed a car stopped on the inside of the roundabout. I had to swerve to avoid him and I thought he had broken down, but then I noticed that he didn’t have his hazard lights on and he was on the phone (although he did put his hazard lights on after I passed him the first time). I pulled over and switched on the video camera in my phone and this is what I recorded:


Action without action

December 6th, 2010

Social networking makes it easy for people to make meaningless noise about matters of substance.

There was a so-called “campaign” on Facebook recently in support of the fight against child abuse. The exact words of the “campaign” are:

Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. There should be no human faces on Facebook but an invasion of memories to raise awareness to end Violence Against Children.

I imagine millions of people across the world changed their profile picture, it only takes a moment, after all. But just how was that supposed to help children? Well, it doesn’t in and of itself.

Any of you out there who think you have done your bit, you have not.

So here is the real challenge and the real campaign (as indicated on the Facebook page which originated this idea, but which most people are ignorant of):

Actually put your hand in your pocket and make a donation to some child-related charity or spend some time doing voluntary work.

Until you do that, you have done nothing.