A pause between madnesses

Like other life forms, human beings are machines with only one ultimate purpose: to enable a complex bundle of protein molecules to replicate. Given the way we sometimes act, it would be depressing if this were not the case.

Our first outbreak of robotic, irrational behaviour follows the appearance on YouTube of an inadvertently surreal movie (judging by the ‘trailer’) in which the prophet Mohamed is portrayed as a gay, pedophile, donkey-molesting, etc, etc. Since the publication of the infamous Danish cartoons featuring the prophet, it has become apparent that anyone who wants to can trigger mass, mouth-frothing, frenzied, violent freaking-out by Middle Eastern Muslim men simply by publicizing the slightest insult against the man who founded the Islamic faith. Say what you want about Jesus or Buddha, and no-one takes any notice; disrespect Moha, and you get almost instant bearded insanity. The tricky bit must be actually getting the insult noticed, but once you get the required attention it’s like pressing a button and setting an atom bomb off.

As with the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute, which leads certain normally mild-mannered Beijing folk to go nuts and attack sushi restaurants and patriotically pirate Japanese porn videos, this collective madness is abnormal. Most Muslims can’t be goaded into screeching, burning and killing over a film or a drawing. Those who can are doing so because it is politically convenient for someone that they do.

Our second outbreak of mob-craziness is the imminent international orgy of paid-for overnight queuing, crowding, jostling, line-breaking, impulse-buying, hoarding, re-selling and profiteering – and hype – that is the launch of yet another Apple iPhone. Just months, it seems, since the last one. In Hong Kong, inevitably, the ritualistic scramble for the designer-label fashion accessory has a Mainland dimension to it, so we can add the phrase ‘parallel trading’ to the list of forthcoming excitements.

Getting people rampaging in the streets and destroying foreign property is a good way to divert people’s attention from real problems. It’s easier than saying, “you are all unemployed because this is an Arab country and that’s how things go,” or “yes, it seems Vice-President Xi has now been missing for 12 days.” Where new iPhones are concerned, the beneficiaries make hard cash and are laughing all the way to the bank. Not only Apple shareholders, but manufacturers of components and ingredients like rare earths, who must be giggling in disbelief: “We go to all this trouble to dig up these weird elements, and then just a few months after you buy the toy containing them, you chuck it away, and we have to dig more up.” (That’s an interesting question: what does happen to all the once-coveted old models? Do they gather dust, go to charity, get given to the maid, or are there geological-type layers of them in landfills?)

Oh, classic – the new iPhone needs different-shaped plugs, adapters and all the rest, so users have to buy new accessories too. Apple shareholders must be wetting themselves with gleeful mirth.

I declare the weekend open, and dedicate it to all people recovering from sports-related injuries, strokes, heart attacks or liver surgery, wherever they may be.

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9 Responses to A pause between madnesses

  1. Bela The Spin Doctor says:

    When a crowd attacks a regime the United States – and thus Britain – does not approve of, it is called a demonstration.

    When they attack the United States it is called a mob.

    They don’t attack the United States because of religious fanaticism.

    They attack it because the United States is imperialist, war-mongering and a blood-thirsty killer of their kith and kin.

    Al-Jazeera is free to air and there are lots of John Pilger videos on the Internet!

  2. Trog says:

    Anti-US demonstrations have been supressed by US-backed dictators across the Arab world for years. What’s happening now is that the restraints – in the shape of weapons sold to said dictators by international arms companies – have been taken off as result of the Arab revolutions and the anger at years of US/Uk-backed supression is there for all to see. A disappointingly one-dimensional analysis Hemlock.

  3. m says:

    I think you really have to take a close look at who really made and funded that movie.

  4. Old Timer says:

    I blame iPhones myself. Life was much calmer before smartphones (and the internet) came along.

  5. Will.I.Are says:

    I’m quite sure provided the the right triggers our own variants of religious fanatics could be as easily goaded into frenzied mouth-frothing mob-run-wild violence. When one’s aim is to _intentionally_ insult peoples’ spiritual and or religious beliefs it’s not nearly as hard as one would imagine and our alleged tolerance of this sort of “speech” is grossly overestimated.

    Try posting a rational well-thought critique of the official government version of the 9/11 attacks and watch what happens.

  6. stanley gibbons says:

    The Chief Secretary Carrie Lam has written to members-elect of the Legislative Council, to introduce the government’s initiatives to address livelihood issues. Mrs lam said some of the initiatives, which were rolled out “in the past two months, will require Legco approval. She said officials would approach relevant Legco panels to explain the initiatives.
    Mrs Lam noted in her letter that the Chief Executive attaches great importance to the relationship between the executive and the legislature. And this, she said, is also one of her key objectives.

    Meanwhile, the Chief Executive’s Office said it’s begun the preparation of the policy address, by asking policy bureaux to make proposals.

    C Y Leung will deliver his first policy address on January 16 next year”

    When you read this, and realise beyond the 2 dimensional aspects, that CY will not speak/address until 1/2013 to the peeps through Legco, it’s scary. Because Carrie Lam goes with it . There is no hope.

  7. PropertyDeveloper says:


    CY and the others are schizophrenic: promising dialogue, transparency and accountability, while at the same time bunkering down and closing all the hatches.

    I still think Donald Tsang started with more or less the right intentions, and even a few plans for change, but in the face of an increasingly stroppy public, soon gave up and concentrated on survival.

    CY must be wondering how any measures can be got through: even mouth-frother Lau, in a surprisingly well-argued and moderately toned piece in yesterday’s SCMP, is beginning to express smidgeons of dissidence.

  8. Gunlaw says:

    Stamp Duty on real estate
    Mortgage Home Loan Interest Tax Deduction
    Property Tax

    and this blather will fade away

    Re-read Leviticus

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