Monday, September 3, 2012

The Face

I'm a cheerful atheist. I don't see how any atheist could be anything but. When I die, that's it. I don't have to jump through any metaphysical or spiritual hoops to get to some weird eternal paradise afterlife. The atoms that comprise me go back into circulation, the ultimate in recycling. Simple, easy, straightforward.

(I've never understood the lure of an "eternal paradise" anyway. When you apply "forever" as a time limit, anything becomes hell. Maybe it'll take six million years, but eventually, you're going to wake up on your memory-foam bed (all beds in heaven are memory foam--if ever there was a heavenly-sent material, it's memory-foam) and wish for the peace of the Long Sleep. Mark Twain had it right, anyway: Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company. I love my Grandma, but she's a realistic cross-section of the type of people that will be up there, which means there's no WAY I'm going to be able to find a gaming group.)

I have respect for people who have faith, but I have NO respect for the religious organizations themselves. This post was going to be a scathing assault on Catholicism (who better deserving of one?) spurred on by the death-bed honesty of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (you go boy!) but then I realized I had nothing to say that hadn't been said a billion times already. To summarize: Martini said the church has no clue, is 200 years out of date, and needs to transform itself, particularly in light of the child-abuse scandal it's been going through. I found a bunch of quotes from the Pope where he makes light of the situation and downplays its impact and seriousness. Then I was going to show you a picture of him and talk about how he looks like an evil grandpa, the kind who beats you and locks you in a closet.

Pope Angry German really does look harsh. Yet he was chosen by a whole host of people as the best choice to lead his church. Theoretically, these people had seen him and were aware that many pictures would be taken of him, but they still went ahead and lifted him on their octogenarian shoulders to victory. It's a testament to how competent they believed he'd be, because I wouldn't have the guts to hire someone like that: he'd scare the crap out of me every day, and who needs that at work? It did get me thinking about the physical appearances of other world leaders.

Sure, we shouldn't be judging people on their appearance. Beauty is only skin deep and all that. Comeliness is an accident of birth and can't be taken as a measure of a person's worth. But where's the fun in that?

Let's start local. This is Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada. Note the cold eyes; he's famous for them. If this guy came to your door, would he really get your vote? Or would you excuse yourself as quickly as possible, throw the deadbolt, and peer through the blinds until he'd left? How he continues to get elected is a mystery to me, but having a popular figure that is simultaneously loathed and impossible to get rid of is a perversely Canadian trait (see Celine Dion and Nickelback).

This is Stephen's dad. See the resemblance around the eyes? Mercy does NOT run in the family. Oh, wait, my bad. That's actually John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Still, a chilling visual, isn't it? People voted for this guy, too.

Doesn't this guy look like a lot more fun? As I've already stated, I think he's going to take the race this November. But if we're rating presidents entirely on "movie star appearance," his competition is a fierce opponent:

Look at that chiseled jaw. Those dreamy eyes. His grey temples, so reminiscent of Mr. Fantastic. If you weren't allowed to listen to him speak or read his very flexible political positions, he'd be a shoe-in.

Moving to a broader stage, here's Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This guy looks more fun and personable than all the rest combined. Nothing against Kofi Annan, but I hope Ban is around for a long time just from a photogenic standpoint. The camera loves this guy!

And then there's the man who inspired this little journey down Superficial Lane:

Sorry about the nightmares.

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