Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Performace Enhancers: Perhaps we should re-write the question.

To enhance, or not to enhance, that is the question . . .
Let me just state this out loud and clear from the beginning: I am not a sports fanatic. You will not find me enjoying a relaxing day lounging in front of the television absorbed in some match or another regardless what ball is being chased or bat is being swung. I was prompted to write this purely because of this Lance Armstrong saga. No no no, do not misunderstand, this is not an article about Mr Armstrong and I am not writing this to debate the actions of Mr Armstrong. Instead, while the world was force-feeding me anything and everything about this grandiose scandal to rock all scandals, some interesting questions popped up. The one that really caught my attention was the question of should we allow athletes to make use of performance enhancing drugs?

Oh the debate was furious, ethical blood was spilt that day and a red sun rose, but even as the dust settled and the verbal warriors breathlessly laid down their arguments a heavy silence filled the air. There never was any true and final answer. As with most large scale debates it ended more due to a lack of sustainable interest rather than due to a complete and final victory at the hands of some awe-inspiring insight or argument. The reason was simple, too much emotion was attached to the debate, and not enough solid logic.

That is actually quite understandable, sport is an emotional experience. When your team manages to overcome the odds and your opponents (I did not say their opponents for a reason), and finally manages to kick that little ball into that little net . . . well to be frank it serves no tangible, real purpose other than that of enjoyment, entertainment and perhaps even to provide an injection of euphoria to the winning team. Now there are multiple arguments as to the reason for sports existence. It could be seen as pure entertainment, and the entertainment business is a lucrative one as we can see when looking at ‘sports’ such as WWE wrestling. Hell, they don’t even try to deny that they are nothing but entertainers as it is even incorporated into their name. Some would argue it is to inspire and challenge society, a modern means of reaching to the stars and push our very limits. Hmmm, a bit too ideological if you ask me and a thought more fitting of a hippy than a normal plain old law abiding citizen. That is one of the great ironies, sport in itself can be seen as a ‘fix’, but the catch is you can only enjoy your ‘fix’ if your team wins. At least the junkies get the fix they pay for. Some say sport is a modern day form of civilized warfare where nations can pit their fittest and strongest against the chosen ‘warriors’ or opposing factions. An almost gladiator styled slaughter but enacted in a coliseum with more socially accepted norms and standards. Ah yes, and here enters the rules and regulations sown across the world to protect the purity of the sport.

Now there is a reason why I so casually drifted through the meaning of sport, and yes it does tie in significantly with the question of whether performance enhancers should be allowed. You see, depending on what we view as the true intention of sporting events, and I am talking on a social level here, we can formulate on whether enhancers should be disallowed. Now as is the case with wrestling, if it is purely for the sake of entertainment, why should performance enhancers not be allowed? If sports are there purely for the reason of seeing which nation can provide the best NATURAL athletes, then surely any form of enhancers should not be allowed. One can even argue that if the intention of sports is to give the victor and his supporters a sense of euphoria when they ultimately defeat their opponent then surely one should not allow enhancers in any way, shape or form lest your euphoria be dulled by the knowledge that your team’s victory was only achieved with the assistance of a little something on the side. Ahhh, and here comes the counter argument, but if both teams used the same enhancers, would that not then be fair and equal? The enhancer can only enhance and amplify the talent that already exists right? Lance could still be champion if no one, including himself, used any performance enhancers right? Since his base platform of natural talent was still better (assuming of course that the enhancers on the market provide the exact same results for everybody)? No no, don’t strain yourself, let me put the counter-argument to that argument for you: “Yes but then sports becomes more about who can afford the better enhancers and not about who truly has the natural talent.” Right, so at this point in the argument technical knowledge and resources choose the better athlete instead of natural selection. Is that a bad thing?

So this is where I really start to enter the argument with my own thoughts:

1. No enhancers should be allowed in any way shape or form. That would be so great if it was achievable. The fact is that we as humans are exposed to enhancers on a daily basis and this is forced upon us whether we want to or not. If I have a better supply of food in my country while growing up than athlete x in country y, then immediately I have an unfair advantage over that athlete. What about sports development centres and the resources to run such centres? If my country has more resources to guide and train athletes at a young age then surely those athletes would have an advantage over athletes coming from a country where they were too busy starving to train? Something as simple as having access to a bicycle as a child could be the difference between someone being a world class bicycle athlete and that same person begging on a street corner. We are born into a situation, an environment, and whether we like it or not, we cannot escape the circumstances of that environment.

2. Okay, so maybe a little bit of sports enhancers should be allowed? So where do we draw the line then? Certain sports enhancement drugs are legal. I do not know of any athlete (including amateur gymmers) that do not use some sort of enhancement. Creatine, protein shakes, Phedracut, diet pills are all just a few examples of enhancers freely available on the market. Hell, not only are they available, but every instructor and even the websites providing programs and advice encourages you to use them. Now either these supplements do not work, in which case I see multiple law-suits pending, or they do work and should be banned from sports completely. If one of the main arguments against ‘doping’ is that it will make the playing field unfair because some sportsmen would not be able to afford the sports enhancing drugs and because the performance of an athlete would be measured by the availability of enhancers and resources to the athletes, then surely the first step would be to remove the use of any enhancers that has monetary value or these enhancers should be provided freely to everyone who is interested. Let’s be honest, that is simply not a realistic goal. Also, if the argument against performance enhancing supplements is that they infringe on the integrity of the sport as natural talent is overwhelmed by unnatural enhanced talents provided by the supplements, then once again any and all form of ‘unnatural’ supplements should be removed? So how far do we go in classifying performance enhancing drugs?

3. What exactly constitutes an enhancer? Does the definition of performance enhancers only include the use of medication physically inserted into the body in one way or another, or perhaps anything that makes changes in the body on some level or another to make it perform better? The reason I ask this question is due to the use of technology in sports. Now that is in some cases unavoidable. Motorcar racing, cycling, canoeing, tennis, squash, table tennis and golf are just a few examples of an array of sports that uses technology to some degree or another. The fact of the matter is that the better the gear used by the athlete, the better the performance. Even runners use shoes and each athlete chooses the technology that works better for them. So why do we allow athletes to use different technologies on the field but not performance enhancing drugs? I can promise you that the bicycles used by Tour de’ France athletes and the one standing in my garage are significantly different and with a price-tag to prove it. Where is the moral and ethical outcry from the anti-enhancers crowd about the availability of funds and resources to athletes that imbalances the playing field? If the equipment used by athletes does not influence the performance of the athlete and thus the purity of the sport, then why do they use different equipment and why is so much time and money spent on advancing the technologies of the equipment? Even Mr Pistorius, the legendary bladerunner, was quick to point at the prosthetic running limbs of his victorius opponent. Now assuming that Mr Pistorius does indeed follow the research and design of the equipment used in his sport, and I am fairly certain he does this carefully, then one has to assume that his outburst, although never validated, alludes to the fact that the equipment used by the athletes can in fact have a greater impact on who will be victorious than we would like to acknowledge. This is despite the fact that there are rules and regulations in place to regulate the technology used. These regulations do not even the playing-field; they simply set the goal posts for the people who are responsible for the research and design of the equipment. The simply change their focus to not only get the best performance from the equipment (and thus the athlete) but to do so inside of the regulations given by the authorities. The playing field is to a large extent thus still controlled by who has the best backing.

When we take our first breath we breathe in the air provided by our environment, our circumstances, and we have no choice what that might be. There is no such thing as a naturally balanced playing field and at this point we are simply trying to control how much ‘unnatural’ elements we are allowing unto the field, and we are failing dismally. Every cricket match we try to hear the sound of the bookies’ cash registers ringing. The Tour de’ France has been proven a farce for many, many years. Hell, seven of those years were made into a farce by Mr Armstrong himself, and the subsequent winners were no different. I am guessing that since Mr Armstrong is now disqualified there will be new winners announced. Care to wager what we will find when they are investigated with as much zeal and energy as Mr Armstrong was? Professional boxing has become frightfully similar to the Olympic diving event and not too long ago professional F1 drivers had a scandal or two.

I can hear multiple people taking in a deep breath, preparing to hit me with their arguments as soon as I type the following words: Maybe performance enhancing drugs should be legalised? Boom, here it comes. They point at pictures of statistics and crime and yell that we cannot expect the problem to go away just because it is legalised! I am not asking for the problem to go away, I am saying that perhaps we should rethink the problem in its entirety. Is it really a problem?

Of course I am assuming that the health hazards will be dealt with thoroughly. Any substance that threatens the health of a person or athlete should obviously be considered illegal, if nothing else but to stop the athletes from killing themselves. I wonder if perhaps the health hazards would be able to sort themselves out once we give the research and development departments the freedom to openly investigate these issues. If companies are allowed without shame to pursue the enhancements of athletes, and humans for that matter . . . how far could it go? What else can we discover?

Now I do well understand the fear that by allowing performance enhancers we are possibly attacking the integrity of the sport as the athletes we would be seeing would be unnatural creations sculpted by technology, but the fact is that they already are. They are sculpted by their imbalanced environments and even technology. Training techniques, new discoveries in diets, technological advances in equipment used on and off the field and so forth are all advances in knowledge used to enhance the performance of the athletes. So why are we accepting the use of some of the advances and not others? Why do we allow the availability of funds and resources to enhance certain parts of the athletes and the sports, but not others? I would never in my wildest dreams be able to afford the equipment and training regimes some of these athletes used, and neither would all of their competitors and yet it is an accepted norm. At this point in time I feel that the only true purpose served by the regulating bodies is not so much to stop the use of performance enhancing drugs, as so many have admitted to doing it after the fact, but rather to disqualify those careless enough to get caught.

Now by no means am I arrogant enough to believe that this article is the final say in the argument. If you read carefully you will notice more questions than answers in the article, but I do believe that by systematically and logically answering these questions we would come to a final conclusion, and I dare say at this point it seems to be becoming all the more clear what that conclusion will be. Everything in the world is interconnected at some level or another and in every aspect of our lives our social and technological environment influences our performance on almost every aspect of our lives, be it education, driving or even our love life. We accept these influences without question in our daily lives, so why not in our sports?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The problem with being a poodle . . .

Ohhhhhhh, I can hear the rumble as the army of Atheists are marching on towards me as they tend to do whenever they feel a debate in religion rising. Like sharks they can detect the blood in the water as their pupils close up and the frenzy boils their brains.



I’m just messing you Atheists. I guess though, before I can start pointing and prodding at a group of people, perhaps I should explain where I am coming from. See, I am not a Christian as it is really commonly known in the general sense of the word. I guess I am somewhere between Agnostic and Mercenary Christian. I do believe there is some sort of deity involved in the greater scheme of things . . . well, probably. Admittedly my faith, as it were, has been shaken quite dramatically in many respects due to many reasons. So let’s rather say, at this point, I am the type of voter you want to aim a poster slogan or two at. 

Mercenary Christian? No no no, I have no intention of bombing any Moslem or Islamist territories or in fact participating in any form of religious war. I mean fuck people, wouldn’t that in itself be a contradiction of being all loving and forgiving and ah hell nevermind. Blah blah blah. Look, this is not the bit I want to get into to be honest, perhaps a little later. As a mercenary Christian I am merely alluding to the fact that I am freelance, and although I participate in the Christian belief I do not belong to a particular group, church, sect or faction. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am pretty much against the institutionalisation of religion as a whole. Still, right now I am not here to focus on that either. I will, oh trust me I will. I have a special tooth I am keeping aside to stab into that particular topic, but right now I need to get back on my own topic.

Now, as an internet user I have run into many an Atheist on multiple occasions. At first I supported them in airing their opinions. Let’s face it, airing the opinion of a minority against a very reactive and passionate majority did take a bit of balls and an iron constitution. Yeah, I know, it is hard to believe, the first Atheists on the internet in my opinion were genuine believers in ‘nothing’. That wasn’t a passive aggressive insult by the way, it was genuine admiration given to people who stood up for what they believed in with honourable intentions.

Then like fine milk it all went sour when it was left out too long. The problem started to creep in when atheism became a trend. Suddenly the average Atheist no longer seemed to be an intelligent person with whom you could debate the subject in a respectable way. Suddenly, a large number of Atheists were vain, self absorbed assholes who seemed more interested in pissing off anyone who even bothered to consider the realms of religion than anything else. They became, and now this bit is a little insulting; TROLLS!

Ah, fantastic little internet troll. In essence I have no problems with the existence of trolls. Trolls are simple creatures when you really think about it. They travel the internet guided by chaos and with the simple purpose of having no purpose they set out to cause havoc just because . . . well . . . why the fuck not? Exactly. Seen the Batman movie “The Dark Knight”? I honestly believe Joker was the ultimate troll . . .

Some trolls just wanna see the interwebs burn . . . actually all trolls do.

Now this is where it becomes tricky. As a side note, I am not referring to every single Atheist when making every single statement. Jumping forward with single examples as a means of disproving and defending against my opinions is a waste of time and a clear reflection of a lack of understanding the bigger picture. In other words, you are only insulting yourself by doing so. Most of my statements are referring to a certain group of Atheists and how I have perceived them on the internet so far. Okay? There are exceptions to pretty much every rule when it comes to psychological and sociological thoughts and theories.

Now, here is the problem, well, a couple of them actually. First one then; the “don’t force your religion down my throat” complaint. By all means, if you are doodling around minding your own business and are ambushed by some bible thumping serial preachers . . . shoot to kill I say. When in a chat-room or commentary debate, usually beneath a demotivational or comic of some sort, then you might want to reconsider that statement. The irony is that most Atheist vs. Christian flame wars are started by Atheists lately. Either they sparked the war by posting the original . . . well, demotivational or comic or whatever with the intent of insulting or taunting the Christian community, or they throw a little sucker punch side winder jab from left field with the intent of, well, insulting or taunting the Christian community. So, that basically means that Atheists are becoming the modern day Jehova’s Witnesses, only more annoying because Atheists use the same techs and websites we do, and for the most part hang around the same parts we do. Now, to clarify, by “we” I mean common internet user. Ah, the red lights are-a-flashing as the ring-ring-a-ringing is a chiming. Yeah, the common, everyday, uninterested, average internet user is now as bombarded with Atheists leaping to flash their Atheist card and preach the glory of . . .uhm . . . ‘nothing’ that they have become the very thing they have hated and taunted and targeted for so long. Yup. Atheists are now the annoying Christians. Pam Pam PAM!

I get it, you are ‘special’ and ‘unique’ and part of an ‘elite clique’ and you have discovered this amazing new truth that you have to share with the world. Fuck man, the world doesn’t give a shit! Being an Atheist is hardly considered special these days and pretty much every argument you have to throw against the Christians have been thrown. Which begs the question; are you just an attention bitch looking to feel special in some way? It’s like emo kids you know? Oh yeah, yeah I did. I just compared Atheists to emo kids. At first being emo was cool. It was different, funky hairstyles, new music tunes etc. etc. Then it became kinda funny, followed by annoying as everyone was suddenly a fucking emo and finally it just became pathetic. Atheism is walking the same route. It is about to be destroyed by its own success in a sense. Atheism was the rebel forces, now they are the establishment and as such a walking contradiction struggling to find its feet for its new role and looking awkward in the process.

“Happy Jesus Zombie Day!” Really? You don’t get it? Now this leads me into two basic arguments, and I am going to start of with ‘basic respect for your fellow man’. As an Atheist basic respect for individual thought was one of the founding principals on which the entire ideology was based. In fact, one of the main criticisms of Atheists against religions is the fact that religions tend to dismiss, disrespect and in some cases persecute those with different opinions. Atheists mocked Christians for being close minded and ignorant. Ironic that Atheist are for the most part today just plain disrespectful and tactless. Huge irony then that most encounters with Atheists (and you’ll know the person is an Atheist because they will tell you over and over and over again) would have them dismissing, disrespecting and in some case attacking (probably due to the inability to persecute) the people that do not agree with them.  Don’t believe in or agree with religions? That’s cool. Deliberately trying to insult or disrespect a person’s religion or beliefs? That’s just fucking lame and childish and hilariously enough as close minded and ignorant as the Christians. So, for your next trick, are you going to run around saying racist slang words? “Watch out people, we are dealing with a bad ass over here!”  Common disrespect for your fellow man is more backwater than even some Amish institutions. The fact is that the Atheist culture seems to be, once again, trapped in its own snare. The same culture that begged for tolerance and respect has now become the culture characterised by disrespect and ignorance. “Ignorance?” you ask. Yes. Ignorance. It is amazing how quickly some Atheists can adopt the mannerisms of an ostrich and simply shove their heads into the ground when cornered. It is amazing how some of them tend to forget their own principles and worst of all, it is amazing how some of them can simply pull a bag over their head and claim that they are unaware of how their statements or actions could possibly be construed as hostile or offensive. Pretty much their ignorance stem mostly from their need for ‘plausible deniability’. “You cannot say that I am ignorant or disrespectful if I never knew that my comments could be taken as offensive or insulting.” As a final note on this argument; a large number of Atheists tend to favour scientific approaches and claims that they are higher up in the intellectual ladder because they are Atheists, and yet they can play dumb so very well when it suits them.

“Happy Zombie Jesus Day!” Really? You don’t get it? Okay, then let’s talk about the habit of ineffective argument used by numerous modern day Atheists. This habit is where the contender (the Atheist in this case) over exaggerate an argument, belief or characteristic of the opponent to the point where it seems ridiculous. Take the “Zombie Jesus” phenomena wherein the rise back to life of Jesus Christ described in the Bible are compared to that of a zombie. The thing about that argument is that the contender has to add words into the argument of his opponent to make it stick, and usually the contender adds the bits that makes the opponent’s point seem ridiculous themselves. For example, nowhere in the story is there any mention of the word zombie, half dead, craving for brains or in fact any other reference that would make the “Zombie Jesus” spoof stick. The Atheist taunt thus stretches the actual story beyond recognition in order to make the original seem ridiculous in order to discredit or mock the original. That type is argument is not only unintelligent, but it is downright childish. In fact, that type of argument is considered one of the TOP 5 saddest techniques used by people who try to look smart and is about as valid an argument technique as sticking out your tongue.  Now, to be fair, I love poking out my tongue. I love doing all sorts of things with my tongue. I LOVE MY TONGUE! Does that mean my tongue is a valid tool for winning a debate based on merit and well constructed arguments? No. Now the basic respect aspect has already been covered, so I am not going to go back there, but, I have to touch on it to complete this thought: If you can’t be bothered to come up with a descent and respectful argument than you are probably not intelligent enough for the debate in the first place and should best just leave it alone.

Why can’t we all just get along?! We can actually. It is called compromise. If all you silly little boys and girls just chill the fuck out and give each other their space then there will not be a problem. I hate Britney Spears’ music! Fact, I can’t stand it! Does that mean that I am going to go to a Britney Spears concert and tell that to all the concert going fans? No. Why would I? They don’t give a shit. Not about me or my opinions. Will it make me feel better? No. No it won’t. So am I doing it just to get the attention then? Well, probably . . . no person is going to spend time and effort on something if not for some sort of gain or experience, and if there is nothing else, well then you’re probably just in need of some TLC from your MOTHER! Go annoy your mother you ass. If she happens to be deceased or if she left your family for another man or woman or whatever, well then I am sorry . . . but still. No. Go get another mother replacement because I don’t want to be it.

Let’s be honest ladies and gentlemen. In terms of arguments for and against both sides there is a dead lock and no side will ever prove the other wrong beyond reproach. The scientific side will always seek scientific proof while the entire idea of religion is founded on unquestioning faith . . . the very definition of which makes it unprovable (hell yeah, I think I invented another word! – or did I just screw up grammatically? Probably. Still, I really like that word as is so I am leaving it) to the scientific community in a way that is both valid and reliable.

Round and round the circle goes.

Now sure I can go on a tirade against the Christian community as well because damn, and I do mean damn, they are as guilty as every other side. If you are asking me to go after the Christian community, however, then you probably missed the point here. Keep in mind folks, I am not rambling about the trolly troll trolls out to polk and insult and cause mayhem. That is what they do irrelevant of their guise and they will go after any target should they feel they are likely to get a reaction from the target. I am talking about the group of the Atheist culture which is slipping at this time. There is a tendency starting to bubble in the culture (see, right there I wash my hands of being accused of being prejudiced) in general wherein the Atheists seems to be practicing the very things they are supposedly opposed to. An air of brash vanity, ignorance, intolerance and a general lack of respect currently wafting across the field on the wings of anonymous breath from their camp and essentially, that make the interactions with community as tasteful as a Klan meeting.

It’s not the ideas being preached for me, it is how it is being preached. Perhaps a little last thought for both sides: Did anyone ask your opinion regarding religion at any point? No? Then don’t give it . . .

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The problem with being a platypus.

Well . . . fuck . . .you know . . .

Well why would you? See the problem with being a normal human being is that there is by law of nature no such thing as a normal human being. Sure, you can define normal as the acceptance and obedience to social laws and norms (which is too close to the word normal to be used in the definition of normal don’t you think?) but in essence, and I mean the true deep-down genesis of essence, that is bollocks (I love the word bollocks, so if you choose to continue reading then feel free to scream it with me: “Bollocks!”) How can a person be defined as normal if the loose definition of what society deems to be normal is a level of obedience? The closer you and your mental thoughts and decisions seems to coincide with what the population of humanity thinks and wants then the more normal you are.

Okay okay, I noticed the guy in the back looking around mouthing the words: “what dafuq?” So let me illustrate the point I am trying to make using the very well known Afrikaner community. Now, to be considered normal in the Afrikaner community you need to adhere to the following rules:

  1. You must be a Christian. Pretty much every Afrikaner organization or group is built on Christian foundations. To be more specific I am referring to the foundations of the three sister churches. Now, does that mean that you are not an Afrikaner if you are following a different type or structure of religion or if you do not follow any particular religion? No. It just means that you are further away from what is considered normal because the larger majority of Afrikaners accept this as the norm.

  1. Rugby. I know right; why am I even bothering to write this? As an Afrikaner you are obligated to select a specific rugby team and to support that team through various methods. These methods include drinking, screaming, and insulting your opponents’ supporters. Now I personally love rugby purely based on the fact that I get to drink heavily, scream and drop insults. I can’t tell you a bloody thing about the sport though. As a side note, did you notice that most of the things you are encouraged to do during a rugby game are considered bad behaviour by the same culture in any other social setting or occasion. I am going to leave it at that thought because, well, shit, that little observation alone is worth a book on its own.

  1. Sokkie treffers! Be honest, how many of you would admit to liking a lekker sokkie treffer and a decent good old fashioned sexy skoffel? No? Really? Then you are probably not an Afrikaner. I could literally feel the earth shake in shock and anger at that last comment. HOW DARE YOU SAY ALL AFRIKANERS LIKES TO SKOFFEL?! I HATE THAT KOMMIN RUBBISH! Right . . . Well, allow me to explain. Do realise that I am making broad generalisations to make a point, which you will understand should you continue to read. Secondly, if you really want to disagree with me, then I ask you one simple favour; go to an established Afrikaner function (Pampoenfees, or perhaps a boeremark or dance or whatever) and tell me what music are they playing. Please put that music in a category. I am willing to bet that most of the songs on the playlist will be either some lekker rhythmic Afrikaans tunes, or some gospel-ish afrikaans Bobby whats-his-name or some old country english tunes (which is pretty much the western world’s version of opskop sokkie hits).

  1. Braaivleis Bru. Well, to be fair, let’s add a potjie as well. Probably the biggest cultural assimilation from the Afrikaner in South Africa is the tradition of a braai. Now as an Afrikaner, if you don’t know how to braai, then you must be a bleddie moffie. Punt finish and klaar. Then again, if you can’t braai it is probably because you haven’t tried. Its not heart surgery gentlemen. Thing is, braai is not just about cooking meat, now is it? Braai is actually the act of creating an atmosphere. The ingredients? A good crackling fire which not only produces the mesmerising flames which attracts men like moths but also a certain goose bump inspiring smell and sound. Some beer or brandewyn. Now, as for the beer, it is best to start of with Castle Lager or Windhoek as those beers are the commonly accepted standard. Feel free to move along to a beer for taste once you get into the swing of things. Pretty much any beer will do except for a few odd ones out, but hey, you can even get away with those if you state early on that you trying something new. Experimentation with beer and an interest in strange beers are for the most part an accepted activity, and might even get you recognized as a connoisseur. Getting imports from Germany or Netherlands is especially recommended. When it gets to brandewyn, well, met eish bru, that pretty much gets you sorted irrelevant of what brandewyn you show up with. If you really can’t decide which one to go for, well, gooi ‘n Klippies. Some wine for the ladies who are of course in the kitchen making salads and finally, some lekker gatskop sokkie treffers. Some of the older Afrikaners might prefer the sounds of skoffel or Hantam Klanke boere rock. If you are really unlucky you walk into an Afrikaanse-classics fan and you might end up dying of Gé Korsten or Bles Bridges. Nonetheless, to scurry on back to the point I was trying to make in the first place, if you want to be accepted as an Afrikaner, best you enjoy a braai. Options are, well, optional, with regards to the finer details but enjoying a braai is as Afrikaner as Nascar for a Southerner.

I can feel the hatred starting to singe my eyebrows as I continue typing. Are the things that I mentioned what makes you an Afrikaner? Ofcourse not. No person can sum up an entire culture or group in 4 little points. I was merely pointing to 4 of the more commonly known and largely accepted characteristics of the Afrikaner community. Those are the things most commonly associated with Afrikaners which was readily available of the top of my head and as such an example of some of the guidelines which determines whether or not you will be considered normal by the Afrikaner community. Yes people are different, variety can and should be found in general groups and if you are still yelling to me how inaccurate and narrow-minded my presentation of an Afrikaner is then you clearly missed the bloody point. So let me put it short and sweet: If you walk into a room full of Afrikaners they (as an example) will automatically size you up (which is a natural human response). They will score aspects of who you are including physical appearance, religious orientation, your opinion on certain subject matter etc. and they will then ultimately decide if you can be considered normal. Now if you display enough of the characteristics of what they consider to be a normal human being, then they will consider you normal. Should you display characteristics which they don’t understand, like, recognise or accept than you will be considered weird or abnormal.

Now the thing is, I am specifically trying to draw attention to the phenomena of groups categorising people into what is considered normal and what is not. Good lord man, you are going to pop a vein! I know, I know, that was a complete oversimplification of a complex issue and at the same time a horrifyingly prejudiced piece aimed at a particular nation. The principle can be applied to any nation, or cultural group or even sports team. I only chose the Afrikaner because it was at that time (and hopefully still is by the time I publish this) a large and recognizable, unique group of which I am a part, and thus of which I had enough personal experience of to write about. Nonetheless, the bottom line remains that what can be considered normal is a level of obedience to a socially accepted framework. Thus, what is considered to be normal is what the majority has decided to be normal and therein lays the flaw of normality. Normality is not an internal mechanism programmed from birth like instincts. Normality can then literally be simplified to our ability to learn, understand and implement the rules of society, or even worse, our level of normality is defined by our ability to conform and obey.

My grand and loud outcry against normality lies in our habit of judging a person based on their ability to be who we want them to be. Remember Einstein’s great one-liner about judging a fish on his ability to fly? Ironic isn’t it? We deem that which is normal to be positive and shun the abnormal, yet it is the 'above average' which we all strive for. All the best things in life come from those who failed in the basic training of confirming to society. Am I right? No. By acknowledging that fact I am forgetting my even bigger biggest (I meant to do that) outcry of all. There is no such thing as normal. Society is a dynamic, flowing life form. As a combined whole society becomes a completely different creature on its own. A creature that evolves, and grows and learns and even changes its mind every now and again. Okay, then perhaps we can say that to be considered normal one must conform to what society deems to be normal at that point in time. That would make sense, but unfortunately what one leg of this creature deems to be normal, another doesn’t. So, for example, in one culture it is deemed manly and brave and dare I say in a twisted sense chivalrous to walk into a room in front of a lady. This is done, they say, in case a wild animal or enemy is in the house, the man would then be the first to face the enemy and in so doing protect the female. Right. Notice how this is in conflict with a simple yet very well known global phrase of “after you”? So then, to be considered normal one must fit into the criteria of what that specific society you happen to find yourself in at that point in time considers to be normal. Which, in the definition itself already acknowledges that being normal is abnormal somewhere else. So, I say, being normal is impossible. Being average, on the other hand, is not only possible but pretty much normal (see what I did there?).

Now what happens when people strive so hard to be abnormal that being abnormal becomes the norm? When they fight so hard to be a freed from the shackles of being labelled in one particular clique, that they end up forcing themselves into another clique. Think of a Goth (I like Goths). Have you ever heard a Goth say: “I don’t listen to that main stream rubbish, I am not a conformist!”? If you haven’t, then you probably haven’t spoken to a Goth yet. Think about that for a second and filter society through the lens of that idea. There lies the greatest joke on the planet. The irony of the modern day world is a global tragic comedy that would inspire Shakespear himself to re-think the whole staying dead thing, and perhaps inspire him to make a comeback tour. See, as global intelligence levels rise, and I do honestly believe they are rising, the more we can see individuals desperately kicking against the stream. The “in” thing of the modern area is to be “out”. Oh dear lord I regret that sentence already. Now the debate can be launched regarding how we are either losing our individuality as globalisation is spreading or perhaps finding it easier to express and cement our individuality. Nonetheless, that is a debate for another day. The trend that is grabbing me by the short and curlies at this point is the idea that we (and by we, I mean they) are struggling so hard to be different, unique and uncategorizable (I think I just invented this word) that we (yeah, I still mean they) in fact become part of a different type of normal. Resistance is futile, and tiring. Well, resistance is getting old.

'Here is where we get to the age of “I”. I think non-conformists have it completely wrong. Nah, I know they have it completely wrong. The only way to truly be a non-conformist is to be completely true to who you are. Listening to a song because you want to, or hating a song for that matter because you want to. I loved the idea that we started entering the age of “I” where focus was shifted from societies to individuals. Where self expression and  exploration became easier all while technologies adapted to facilitate us in the art of self discovery and self display. Then I saw people feeding on their own vanity. The 'age of I' wnet from being a paradise of self-expression and exploring the personal soul of an individual into a world of "me me me!" Annoyed as I may be about this unforseen side-effect, it does bring into question the use of the word 'normal' even more. In a world where each individual person can create their own personal frame of existance, what can still be considered normal? Yes, we are miles from reaching this point, if we ever will, but the question lingers as time trinkles forward.

Ah, there he goes again. “What dafuq?” he screams in desperation. Relax, I am done thinking out loud for this very moment. My point? Why in the hell did I go through all that if not to make some fantastically delicious mind altering fucking point? Like typed LSD?! Well . . . fuck . . . you know. . .