Saturday Stories: Heat, Poems, Passion, Religion & Rage

So, I’ve decided to share a few more stories this Saturday. To recap the purpose of this: these are the stories or poems or articles I didn’t end up sharing during the week, or which have only just come to my attention and would make for some interesting weekend reading.

1. 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record – NY Times.

This is a fairly straightforward read, but in terms of importance, has to go straight to the top of any pile. Articles like this should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Every movie and TV show and song should begin with “by the way, we’re literally running out of time to avert cataclysmic climate change” so that we all collectively have to deal with the fact that we’re hurtling toward a cliff.

2. Musa Cerantonio: Muslim convert and Radical Supporter of Islamic State – John Safran

This is an interesting story about an apparently notorious radical preacher, Robert “Musa” Cerantonio, an Italian-Australian Muslim convert. I say apparently only because I’d never heard of him. He was recently living in the Phillipines before being deported back to Australia, apparently due to his radicalism, where he now lives with his mum and family in suburban Melbourne. This story doesn’t interest me because of his Islamic beliefs, or because of IS, the logical dissonance in his opinions or even the way ASIO tried to lean on him — this story interests me because of his family. His metal-loving brother, Nicholas, his fantasy-reading brother Steven, his put-upon mother who works as a cleaner at a medical centre, all of them living beneath the same roof, laughing, not just able but willing to accommodate their differences in belief and lifestyle. It struck me as so very beautiful, and human.

With that said, when the piece deviates from Cerantonio’s life, Safran’s opinions intercede, which soured the whole thing for me. I say that because Safran succumbs, as just about every Western writer seems not just willing but eager to do, to the idea you can hold up an individual as a standard bearer for a way of life, or for a religion. His view comes through in lines like the “regular hippies in the Q&A audiences who insist religion has nothing to do it” and the revelation that without a troubled upbringing to point to, “the explanation for Musa is a difficult pill to swallow. He believes.” Yep, it’s that pesky religion all right. Actually, the explanation for Musa is that he’s an idiot, but hey, that’s just my take on it. In any case, it’s certainly an interesting article, well worth a read.

3. Mike Rowe On Why Passion Isn’t Enough

This is a great read, in which Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” responds to a fan who questioned his declaration that ‘follow your passion’ was the worst advice he’d ever received. His response is interesting and articulate, highlighting the problem on an individual and societal level. For the former, he says:

Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” is routinely dispensed as though it’s wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean that you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about?” Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?

And for the latter:

Today, we have millions looking for work, and millions of good jobs unfilled because people are simply not passionate about pursuing those particular opportunities. Do we really need Lady GaGa telling our kids that happiness and success can be theirs if only they follow their passion?

It’s about hard work, about ugly work, about doing what needs to be done, yes, but despite that, he’s not advocating you abandon your dreams. Do everything you can to attain them, work your ass off, and if you’re talented enough at it, you will succeed. The key thing is to interrogate yourself, your aims and progress – to keep yourself honest. How long must you keep almost-drowning before you recognise that swimming isn’t your strong suit, and that maybe you should try something else? Just because something isn’t what you want, doesn’t mean it won’t meet your needs.

4. The Republic of Islamophobia – Jim Wolfreys

This is a truly outstanding essay which provides a thorough context to France’s relationship with Islam and immigration over the course of the past few decades, a relationship which has been thrust into global spotlight following the Charlie Hebdo attacks of a week ago, but which has mostly garnered only the most superficial of reporting. This essay is a truly necessary antidote to most of the nonsense being circulated in the media, and a deconstruction of far-right politics and strategies being employed not just in France, but all over the world. A must-read.

5. Behind Anonymous’s Operation To Reveal Britain’s Elite Child-Rape Syndicate – Patrick McGuire

A chilling read about the rape of children and human trafficking as practised by British VIPs and prominent politicians/world leaders.

6. I Sought Solace In My Bookshelf – Daniel Josè Older.

Daniel Jose Older is an excellent writer, and here he explores the events of recent months/years/decades which culminated in the outcry of BlackLivesMatter, the necessity of which by itself is an incredible indictment of society and its comfortable acceptance of the murder and oppression of minorities.

And so, in the midst of a historically rooted, state-sanctioned attack on black lives, everyone from the president to the very police department responsible for Michael Brown’s death has demanded protesters avoid violence. This is like a pyromaniac telling a fireman not to smoke a cigarette.

7. Lines Written On A Splinter From Apollinaire’s Coffin – Paul Violi

I didn’t want to end on another depressing issue, so here is an utterly gorgeous poem as a palate cleanser. Read on, I promise it’s worth it.

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