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It’s the end of my world…

It may be that there are a host of changes staring me in the face. It may be the coming emigration, and all the paperwork involved with that. It may be the quitting of a perfectly good job in a perfectly good job market and heading into a struggling market to find work. It may be that the end of the world is nigh. But I’ve been a little more introspective and reflective than usual.

Wait… what? The end is nigh?

<sigh> Yes. Of course. I am not going to denigrate my blog by linking to the garbage, but you can Google it for yourself. It is the considered opinion of some (Not all) Christians that the world ends on May 21st. (Just four more shopping days until the end of the world!) There seems to be some contention as to whether it is actually the END of the planet, or if it is just the so-called “Rapture”… a religio-cosmological removal of true believers and a subsequent hell-on-earth scenario for the rest of us until the TRUE end of the world. Some sites say that the phenomenon will begin at 6pm in every city in the world on May 21st. That’s right… 6pm. A sort of “rolling Armageddon” if you will. God will obviously take into account daylight savings time and political boundaries during his razing of the planet. Which I think is pretty damned decent of him, given that planet-wide demolition would seem to be his goal.

At the end of it all, Harold Camping, the man behind the prediction, and member of a religious radio station has certainly drummed up PLENTY of celebrity for his show, and most likely secured lucrative advertising rights too. We’re going to have to ignore that the same Harold Camping predicted the SAME end of the world on September 4th, 1994. (A day I remember as being a lazy Sunday notable only for its complete lack of world-ending events, Rapture or Satanic power struggles for the dominion of Man. I believe we had hotdogs for lunch.)

There is speculation that Harold Camping is only making these predictions to further his own ends. But that would mean that a religious man was lying for personal gain. And that would be wrong…. right?

Actually… there have been a few predictions of disaster aimed at the end of this year.

As a recent survivor of a magnitude 14 earthquake and a 170 metre (170 METRES!!!) Tsunami, I feel honoured to be able to still type without having to hold my breath. Oh… and my internet connection is pretty good considering that Taiwan was meant to have been torn in half. For those of you in the western hemisphere who perhaps have no idea of what I am talking about… well…  Here in the East, we have our fair share of religious crackpots too. Enter Master Wang. (Seriously… his name in Romanised English is “Wang”. ) Master Wang is/was a Feng Shui “master”. Now, in Taiwan, Feng Shui is far more than a practical and mystic way to orient your furniture. (No pun intended) Feng Shui comprises a system of beliefs that has commentary on life, the universe and everything. Feng Shui (Pronounced “FONG SHWAY” for those of you who are still botching it!) is a big deal here. People consult their Feng Shui teachers in the way that priests used to be approached with life and family problems in the past in the west. Anyways, Master Wang upped and burbled to his followers a prediction of a magnitude 14 earthquake that would strike Taiwan at 10:42 and 37 seconds on May 11th. Yes, that’s right. Magnitude FOURTEEN. Because exceeding the maximum recorded quake in known history by a factor of 5 on an exponential scale is nothing when you have spiritualism on your side. Anyway… the resulting tsunami was set to return at 170 metres in height. Weirdly, it would take a further 6 days for the tsunami to hit Taiwan. (Apparently, Master Wang isn’t strong in geography or geology skills.) To survive the tsunami, many of his loyal dupes followers purchased converted shipping containers for a princely NT$ 160k each. (That’s about 4000 Euro in real money.) (I used to quote real money in US Dollars… but… they’re about to exceed their national debt cap, which raises some concerns as to the liquidity of their government. Euros it is.) There is speculation that Wang was involved in some way with the production of these containers. But that would mean that a religious man was lying for personal gain. And that would be wrong…. right?

Probably my favourite Doomsday prediction is the: Y2K Global Collapse. No wait, I prefer the…

The Mormon belief in the Return of Christ in 1891.  No wait, I prefer the…

The Jehovah’s Witness END OF THE WORLD and SECOND COMING of  1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994! No wait, I prefer the…

The conjunction of the major planets and our subsequent magnetic destruction of December 17th, 1919.  No wait, I prefer the…

Miller’s End of the World March 21st 1843 October 22nd 1844. No wait… I prefer the…

Mayan Calendar End of the World in 2012!

Oh yes… we have a winner. This Doomsday belief comes from a heady mix of ignorance and gross stupidity, mixed in with a dash of fervour and absolutely no common sense whatsoever.

See, there were these Indian types, right….  Sorry… make that MesoAmericans. (Because calling a Mayan an “American” is more politically correct than calling him “Indian”.) Anyways, these guys used great big stones to mark their calendars. And according to some arbitrary measurement, they had “Ages” of the world. (Not really arbitrary, it is just that they used Base 20 and Base 18 mathematics, and that makes my head hurt.) Given that they all died out thanks to greedy white people that discovered their land and killed anything that they couldn’t steal natural causes, they only carved stones for a little way into the future. Living in their third world, they made calendars for every day until the end of their fourth world. Which is pretty industrious considering most of US can’t program a VCR three days in advance. Anyways, someone got hold of this, saw that their calender was marked until 2012, and made the logical leap that that meant that the world ended in 2012. Which is tantamount to you reaching the end of the fourth chapter in a book and simply throwing it away because the book is “done”. Irrespective of the fact that the Mayans had already lived through three Ages… suggesting that they were comfortable with the concept of a new Age beginning, and irrespective of the fact that the Mayans celebrated the end of each Age with MASSIVE parties… suggesting that they approached it in the way teachers approach the end of term, well.. irrespective of all this, we have a remarkably popular Doomsday event. And a Hollywood movie. (Which makes it real… of course. The same way Ben Afleck made Pearl Harbour real… the way that the only people who ever shot Nazis were American soldiers… and how if aliens ever did land, they would of course gravitate to Washington DC… not anywhere in Europe. )

Ah well. It amuses me that people have been falling for the same scientific or religious hyperbole for thousands of years. It saddens me that the liars often get to make more than one Doomsday prediction, an occurrence that I simply cannot fathom. It disgusts me that money is made off of fear and ignorance by those who would abuse the trust that they have been given. It angers me that the media play their part in whipping up public furore. But then… stupid is as stupid does.

Me? I’ll plan for the future. One where nothing is going to absolve me of accountability tomorrow for my actions today.

Yeti out.

Stress is for the week…

I’m not going to be rocking any boats or rattling any cages when I observe that we live in an increasingly stress-filled world. (Apologies about the mixed metaphors… I love using them, it’s like having my cake on cloud nine.)

So it seems that our lifestyles are out to get us. I look about my collection of friends, some of whom are relatively well-adjusted, and I see a lot of tired faces. A lot of tired and stressed out people. And it is all our fault. Like the scene from Trainspotting, we choose life. We choose the job, the mortgage and the big-screen TV. We choose massive amounts of credit and we choose to live beyond our means. What they don’t show in the movie is that going straight and living a life of “Joneses” means accepting a giant dollop of stress with every scoop of living. And the vast majority of that stress comes from our jobs.

People (and by people, I mean men) like to say how marriage is an unnatural institution, that staying with the same mate for longer than seven years is somehow counter-evolutionary. And there is a fair amount of debate both ways about that. But what we never consider is the naturalness of reporting to a dimly cubicle in uncomfortable clothing and shoes, there to sit for basically all the hours of daylight. We’ll spend upwards of forty years of our lives working. Forty years! In our instant culture, it’s a number that really has no meaning. How are we to judge at the age of twenty five what will suit our sixty year old selves? I’m in my thirties now, and I STILL haven’t the slightest idea what sort of work I would like to be doing when I retire. What I can tell you is the work that I would like to be doing now. And this I think is the way forward.

We need to plan for the future financially. No mistake about it. We’re living longer and longer, and nobody wants to be a burden to their children. I’m happy to accept that I need to save today for tomorrow. But aside from the financial aspect forward planning is pointless. When I was at school, I was constantly told that I absolutely HAD to do Mathematics, absolutely HAD to study Science, that the skills and logical thought I learned at school would stand me in good stead for the rest of my life. And it’s GARBAGE. It is tripe of the most trite and sanctimonious sort. To this day I have not yet been forced into a situation where trigonometry or calculus have saved the day. I have yet to use ANY of the Chemistry I learned. Mr Ball, Mrs Mendelski… I could safely have made it through my life thus far without your classes.

But the push to advance subjects continues at university. From the moment you enroll, lecturers push for their subject. Psychology teaches valuable life skills, History teaches research techniques and reasoned arguing. And unfortunately, most of the Arts subjects are really rather worthless in the real world. (I’m speaking as a Bachelor of Arts myself.) Any one of the teaching subjects are utterly useless for 99% of the people graduating, unless of course they intend teaching. The Commerce subjects tend to have a higher relevancy to real life, but let’s face it… who wants to study Commercial Law? No… honestly. You might like practicing law, but studying it is a pain in the ass.

And so it is that we emerge newly minted degreed job-seekers, the end product of lots of advice, and with hundreds of hours of “essential” instruction under our belts. And almost immediately, we become barmen and waiters. Besides basic arithmetic and some social skills, we’re doing something your average nine-year old can do. And it doesn’t end there. Eventually, we prevail upon an interviewer that our degree, whilst not really practical in the real world, DOES mean that we are at least “trainable”. And so the forty year office cycle begins. While at work, we will be told to study various courses, to further our qualifications. Do they have real-life applications? Honestly? No. But now we are in the rat-race. We’re jostling with our cohorts, fighting for that promotion, for the corner office. We’re lurking around the water-cooler, we’re drinking crappy coffee and we’re taking orders from someone who has in all likelihood not received the same education we have.

For people from my father’s generation, and the generation before, there was such a thing as company loyalty. This was a two-way street where every employee was taken care of, where the company appreciated the sacrifice of its minions. Sadly, the grey suits and bottom-liners have taken over, and that is not really the case anymore. My generation changes jobs more often than any other. We flit from job to job, company to company. We do two years here, three years there. And this gives us the best opportunity for a chance at life.

(See… I do eventually come to the point.)

If you are unhappy in your work… If you find yourself talking, wondering and worrying about your work on the weekends… If you find yourself on edge at home because there is something going on at work… For the love of yourself, change your job! Find another career, or find another position. But don’t ruin your Real Life for a paycheck. If we work to support our lifestyle, what point is there in allowing our work to kill our lifestyle? Without a life, is there any need for a high-stress job? No. Leave the work at work. Stress is for the week! And the week stops at my front door. When I get home, I change out of the clothes of the oppressor, and into casual home clothes. I don’t bring work home with me. Not because I don’t care about my job, but because I care about my wife and my life more.

Hunched shoulders and last-minute reports are for work-time. Your family and your life are waiting for you when you get home. More than half of your life is given away to the companies and the suits. Why volunteer more? And remember… like every other authority figure in your entire life, your boss does not have “Truth”. Your boss has “Opinion”. And just like every other authority figure in your life, your boss is going to use his position to further his ends. (Think about it…when last did you hear any teacher say the words, “My subject? Nah… you’d be better off taking something useful”. )

At the end of my day, and at the end of my life, I want to look back on my work and be able to smile. Not because I got the promotion, not because I got the plaque on the door. I want to be able to be happy with myself because I did good. Because my job supported my life, and not the other way around.