Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Peru, the Nazca Lines and Greenpeace

Southern Peru’s cultural and historical legacy includes two items of particular interest, both of which I am privileged to have seen. It is hardly surprising that the first of these, the Nazca Lines, was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994. The plant and animal geoglyphs, including the famous hummingbird, can only be fully appreciated from the air. It will be for evermore debated how an ancient civilisation could have been so ingenious as to create something of such lasting wonder.

Not quite so well known, but just as intriguing, is “Mummy Juanita”, the remnants of a teenage girl now at rest in the Museo Santuarios de Altura in Arequipa, long after her ritual sacrifice on the top of the Ampato mountain 500 years ago. As legend would have it, this was all part of Incan tradition involving the duty to appease their gods. Juanita’s fate was a single blow to the head, in marked contrast to other sacrificial victims who were strangled or buried alive at the top of the peak.

So if we now fast forward to the present day, and read about the act of vandalism that Greenpeace activists inflicted upon the Nazca Lines in their quest for publicity alongside the Lima climate conference, we might ask exactly how much appeasement the Incan gods might be entitled to call for. One or two ideas spring to mind…

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Delilah and the Despots

No, that’s not the name of a new band of X Factor hopefuls, however amusing it would be to see the reaction of the judges’ panel when they turned up for their first audition. And indeed to see the subsequent look on Louis Walsh’s face if they made it through to the judges’ houses round and he was yet again chosen to mentor the groups.

What feelings come to mind, however, when the Tom Jones classic hits the airwaves? They might include “what a singer – these talent show kids aren’t fit to polish his shoes” or “oh God, not that dreary old ballad again”, or even “I prefer the Alex Harvey version.” They certainly wouldn’t include “that song encourages domestic violence, it’s unfit to be used as a Welsh rugby anthem.”

Or maybe, as this Telegraph article reports, they would…..

I wonder if it is now time, in the face of laughable but ever increasing nonsense of this kind, to coin a new phrase to describe the individuals who seem to make it their life’s mission to go around looking for signs of offence in everything they see, hear or read, desperately seeking something new to condemn or to ban? Given the surreptitious growth of what might very reasonably be labelled the Dangerously Earnest Squadron of Professional Offence Takers, how about “DESPOTS”? Well, they do so often appear to be dead set on wielding absolute unlimited power over those whose written and spoken communication is not entirely to their liking…

And if we go one step further, how about a rallying call for the oppressed victims of professional offence taking, otherwise known as the overwhelming majority of the British public? There’s certainly a case for “Stand up to the DESPOTS – you know it makes sense”.

Now, all we need is a brave politician to champion the cause of eradicating DESPOTism. Anyone know one?