I have been recently bothered by some sort of contest they have going on CHEZ 106, the local classic rock radio station. For some time now they have had a VIP Club where you can earn points for listening and redeem the points for prizes or ballots for draws. Their most advertised prize right now is, for 1,000,000 points, you can get absolution from all your sins, provided by St. John's Anglican Church. In tongue-in-cheek manner, they mention that absolution is not guaranteed. Of course it's not... clergymen have no more actual contact with a fictional god than psychopaths have with unicorns.

What I don't really understand is how this type of "contest" benefits anyone. It's insulting to religious people because it sells religion for cheap. It's a lame marketing campaign to try to get people to attend church. It shows the desperation of religious organizations, and also puts into question the motivations of the station's management which decided to go ahead with this contest. The church is actually taking this rather seriously, issuing a press release and such. If you read through the lines, however, you can understand that what they mean by this is that only Zeus or whoever can give absolution, and so you must try and find that here on Earth.

The contest, and especially the marketing campaign behind it, are equally insulting to atheists and agnostics. In the radio ads, they give examples of sins that you can get absolution for, including "sleeping in on Sunday mornings instead of going to church". Oh, how fucking blasphemous! Having slept in on pretty much every Sunday morning that I can recall, I'm real worried about me going to hell and all. It's nice to see a religious organization getting so laughingly desperate with their propaganda attempts.


Dawn of the dead

Interesting how real life creeps itself into horror films, when George Romero decided to create his "living dead" movies he often went on to discuss with his co-writers what message he wanted to send. Often basing himself on American politics, parallels between the vietnam war and the first movie night have been established while the more recent land has been said to have roots dipping into the utopian view of the world through the eyes of George Bush.

To me, zombie movies have always been my favorite kind of horror movies. The idea of huge mobs decimating cities and such is a frightening one. The faith that awaits someone who is caught up in it also doesn't seem quite peachy, but beside the direct threat of zombies it's the actual reality behind it that scares me: Zombies are real.

My girlfriend works at a large chain grocery store where the slogan is "Le panier le moins chere!" (The cheapest basket!). There is a sale going on where certain products are priced $1 and have a certain limit per customer. Every day she works early in the morning, before the doors even open, I observe several people walking around outside the store, pacing back and forth waiting for the doors to open. She's sometimes scheduled to start working half an hour before the store opens and these zombies are still out there. Like the ones from dawn they are clawing at the doors, looking inside to see an employee. When one does come to enter the premise, they open the exit doors to go to work, and I observe the zombies figuring out this is a possible entrance.

What frightens me the most is that these people look alike. They wear the same clothes which they seem to have gotten from such stores as wal-mart, or other "get it while it's cheap" places. These look like the same people who need the "careful hot" sign on their coffee cups or else they get burnt and sue the place. It's because of these zombies that I'm stuck with "open here" signs on my cookie boxes, like George Carlin says "Thank God for that, otherwise I'd be up all night looking for a good place to open the cookies."

This is a zombie/consumer nation and it keeps clawing at me. I can see it at work when people get confused and rarely go beyond simply pushing buttons or inserting their cards over and over again in every slot they find. The funniest part to me is when they have a hard time seeing inside because of the sun and end up face against the window with their hand above their faces to shadow themselves wondering if there is something interesting inside: "Flesh...foooooooood....ugh...." Ack, zombies.


Protect us from each other, not from ourselves

This memorable line from Bill Maher's When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden in regards to assisted suicide comes into play again today when a doctor from British Columbia was found guilty of trying to help a 92-year-old woman commit suicide. Now, I'm not supporting this specific doctor, as he had already been charged a few years ago for having sex with a patient in his office, but rather it is important to see assisted suicide under a more realistic light.

I have always believed that a person's life is theirs to control and live. If this woman, at the age of 92, decided that she had spent a good life and wanted to end it, for whatever reason, then she is entitled to do so. It is not up to the State to decide how a person can die, and what the criminal implications of suicide are. These types of laws are rooted in Christian religious morality which states that only God can give life or take it away. It is therefore a sacred gift.

Of course, it is important to determine where the boundaries between murder and suicide are, but this is also part of the problem. Because physician-assisted suicide is a criminal offense, it is far more difficult to determine the context and situation at hand. If, on the contrary, it were State-supported, like in the Netherlands, the processes could be monitored and standardized in order to ensure that the patient fully agrees with the decision. This would also prevent any type of murder suspicions.

The media also does a disservice to a situation like this. Out of all the sources that reported this story, only one mentioned that the patient was a 92-year-old woman. There is also a lack of understanding of the differences between euthanasia an patient-assisted-suicide. At the age of 92, the context is probably more likely to be euthanasia than a simple desire to die because of a heartbreak or something of the sort. We, of course, perform euthanasia on or "put down" animals all the time, without questioning the religious implications of the situation. God obviously cares about the life of man, but who gives a shit about animals... a typical religious fallacy which places human beings on a pedestal at the center of the universe.

In the case of legally assisted suicide, quick and painless solutions are used, much as they do in the case of lethal injections in many US states. This is better than a man-nurse finding some little old lady hanging in a nursing home bathroom. In the case of people wanting to commit suicide, it is often the pain that is feared, not death in itself. We can, of course, take the life of murderers that we condemn, but a person making up their own mind is obviously just completely fucking psychotic. God would never allow such a thing! Again, I say, like Mr Maher, protect us from each other, not from ourselves.