Global warming, carbon tax, interfaith and Aston Martin

Grant Swart

I have always had a huge appreciation for well written, well told or clever jokes. There have been times when I have literally laughed so much and deeply from the heart, that were it not for my partially overwhelmed sensibilities, I could have caused myself some “seriously hysterical” injury. Sheepishly I admit that this does happen at times, and fortunately there are those who understand these things. I must emphasize most clearly, that at those times I was nowhere near Toronto, and the laughter certainly wasn’t their kind of (un)holy laughter, either.

Now, before I get to the gist of that which I wish to share in this article, I must bring just a little biblical perspective to the subjects of humour and laughter. While we must be thankful, wholehearted and honest in our utilization of these gifts and abilities to enjoy refreshing humour in our lives, we must also constantly keep in perspective our instruction to “soberness” of Christian character.  The book of Titus and Chapter 2 explains clearly what we should strive for in our actions in this regard.

Furthermore it is clear that, God having created us in His own image (likeness), and we have the ability to express and perceive humour, that God certainly does have a sense of humour.

Humour, or as our American friends prefer to incorrectly spell it, humor, has always played an enormously important part of the friendships I have formed with others through most of my life. I’m sure that is the case with many of you as well. Sometimes the silliest of things can be really very funny to some while seeming absolutely ridiculous or even tragic to others. As they say, whatever rocks your boat…  although that is not always a good measure.

Somehow it seems that people with a sense of humour or an appreciation for the funnier side of things, are often easier to connect or get along with. Sharing a good laugh or a lighter point of view is usually a great “ice-breaker” and tends to assist in building trust in someone and can be a pointer on the way to mutual understanding. Not only is it a way to build trust, but it certainly can provide the means to determine who cannot be trusted, just as effectively. Very often, the bulk of what was a serious discussion with someone is almost entirely forgotten, but the joke which was told during that discussion remains in ones memory. Maybe not the exact wording or punchline, but the fact that a joke was made, nevertheless.

Humour is a great way to grab the attention or overcome the unnecessary reservations of those who seem to be unapproachable or overly skeptical. It can also provide a means to reconnect with bored or overwhelmed listeners. I have yet to hear of a great preacher, lecturer or spokesperson who does not make use of a good joke or two in gaining or maintaining the attention of the audience or congregation. Some of the most memorable jokes have been told from solid pulpits through the ages around the world. I am certainly not referring to preachers who present a laughably erroneous message, either, or those who like to throw punches which are below the proverbial belt, for the sake of making an impression by means of their shocking statements.

Of course believers have far better and fail-safe methods of determining true fellowship with dearly beloved brothers and sisters, than humour. That is certainly not the main reason for God giving to us this wonderful gift and the refreshing, joyous laughter it produces. It surely is another one of the innumerable ways in which He has made our fulfilling lives in Christ so very, very special and one which we should appreciate more than we generally do.

Among my favourite, or to be Americanishly incorrect: favorite, authors and television presenters, is one Jeremy Clarkson, who is synonymous with British newspaper articles, an ever increasing list of humourous books and TV programs such as the internationally acclaimed “Top Gear” motoring show. I am pretty sure that most of the brothers, and some of the sisters who read this blog would have heard of the inimitable Mr Clarkson, not least of all because his foremost stated “claim to fame” is that he is the tallest person working in British television today! I’m sure that helps.

Jeremy Clarkson is primarily a motoring journalist, but much of his politically incorrect writing is motivated by everyday life’s ups and downs, and he has an uncanny way of marrying the two in both his humour and his work.  I happened to be reading this article of his recently and thought it would be worth publishing it on our blog. Be warned though. Don’t read it with the expectation of it containing theological wisdoms, or for it to bear any resemblance to the material which makes up the greatest portion of our blog. No, this is a worldly article, and that is not the reason for me posting such an extraordinary opinion here.

Strikingly evident from this article is that the lies that the one-world orientated powers-that-be, under the auspices of organisations such as the United Nations, European Union and global interfaith movement, are forcing onto an unsuspecting populace through carbon taxation, global warming, religious tolerance and one world monetary systems, do not go unnoticed by all who are in the world, either.

Jeremy’s humorous, yet accurate take on the developments surrounding the Olympic Games soon to be hosted in London, are very much in line with the awareness which believers should have about these matters. In this article he gives the multi-faith movement, global warming, corrupt politicians, carbon emissions, governmental failures, multiculturalism, deranged Muslims, ignorant organizers and fear-filled environmentalists the usual hilarious treatment, alongside his opinion on a beautifully made sports car, for those who might be interested in such things.

With the global economy and monetary units in tatters, I can hardly afford to pay attention to such luxuries, never mind actually paying for one at around US$ 230, 000  or for us lesser peoples in South Africa: around R1, 850, 000! In our neighbouring Zimbabwe that would be approximately ZWD 239, 000, 000, depending on the position of the sun, as that monetary unit devalues by the hour. Substantially.

For that much money, you could buy a small African country of your own, if you could ignore your conscience at not preferably helping the suffering people there!

Grace to all.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Jeremy Clarkson

What with the bombs and everything, we haven’t really learnt much about Britain’s big Olympic sports day. It’s almost as though the whole thing has simply gone away. 

But don’t worry. Behind the headlines, the organisers are hard at work and have already made one important decision. These will be a low-carbon, sustainable, public transport Games with no provision for any car parking whatsoever at any of the major sites. 

Can you believe that? No, really. Can you honestly believe that with all the things that need to be achieved in the next seven years, the powers that be have decided that global warming is somehow the most important issue. 

“Right. We need to compulsorily purchase half of east London, we need to bulldoze it, we need to get some stadiums designed, we need to find some steel that isn’t on its way to Shanghai, we need to build a whole village for the athletes and we need to ensure nobody explodes. But first things first, comrades. Are we all agreed that these Games should be car-free?” Don’t these idiots remember the Millennium Dome? Over the years, many inquiring minds have speculated on why this billion-pound umbrella failed. But there’s only one reason, really. Even if you wanted to see the multi-faith exhibits and learn how a turd was made, you couldn’t get there. Because there was no car park. 

Of course, those in charge of the Olympics will say that the Games give us a chance to show the world that London is a shining beacon of environmental responsibility . . . in the same way that London was a shining beacon of multiculturalism, right up to the moment when a small group of deranged Muslims started blowing themselves up on Tube trains. 

The Olympics are a test designed to quantify and celebrate human physical achievement. They are not an opportunity for a bunch of stupid, left-wing, weird-beard failures to make political points. 

I make this prediction now. The woolly-pully brigade will be so busy over the next seven years ensuring that the Games are eco-friendly that they’ll forget to build a running track. And the health and safety department will outlaw the swimming pool on the basis that someone might drown. 

This will make Britain a laughing stock in the eyes of the whole world, so consequently we must quickly find something else to crow about. And that brings me neatly on to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. 

In the past few weeks this new car has been subjected to a torrent of crowing as various motoring correspondents have vomited eulogies onto the page. But I’m afraid that I must be the voice of reason here.

First of all, Aston Martin is owned by the Americans and run by a German whose most recent decision saw engine production being moved from Newport Pagnell to Cologne. So it’s about as British as Budweiser.

And then there’s the price. At £80,000, the Vantage is £20,000 more than was originally suggested and, crucially, £20,000 more than the car with which it was designed to compete: the Porsche 911.

Of course, with a three-year waiting list, the Aston is unlikely to depreciate much, so that makes the premium more palatable. And that leaves us with the next problem. A lack of power.

Eventually there will be a faster version called the Vantage Vantage probably, or the Vantage Squared, but for now, when you change down and pull out to overtake, the baby Aston accelerates briskly but with none of the savagery you might have been expecting. It’s fast. But it’s not blistering.

The engine starts out in life as a 4.2 litre Jaguar V8 but is then extensively reworked to become a 4.3 that churns out 380bhp and 302 torques. This isn’t enough. It’s less torque than you get from a Mercedes SLK, less bhp and torque than you get from a Vauxhall Monaro. And more worryingly it’s less bhp and torque than you’ll get from the next Jaguar XK, which will be cheaper as well. And just as beautiful.

Annoyingly, with a 4.3 litre V8 allied to a chassis made from air and a body fashioned from the froth on a cappuccino, the Vantage could have been really quick, cartoon quick, fast enough to fan a forest fire with its wake. But if they’d done that, why would anyone have spent about £20,0000 more on a DB9? It’s not like the Vantage is different in any other way. Apart from the lack of back seats, the new V8 has exactly the same Volvo sat nav system as the DB9, exactly the same hard-to-read dash as the DB9 and exactly the same Ford trim as the DB9.

In other words, like the DB9, the Vantage was built using whatever the Aston engineers could get their hands on cheaply. As opposed to the 911, which was built using whatever took the Porsche engineers’ fancy.

I’m sorry if this all sounds negative but I’m being realistic here. And I’m also being realistic when I tell you that in a straight fight, on any road or track, the 911 will be faster. Not just because of its superior grunt but also because it brakes better, steers better and corners more confidently.

But, and this is what makes cars such fun to write about, given the choice of a Porsche 911 or a V8 Vantage, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. I’d buy the Aston.

While it may not be as nippy or as thrilling as the 911, it has a he-man feel on the road that I like. Thanks to heavy steering, heavy brakes and a heavy six-speed manual gearbox, they’ve made the syllabub-light body feel like a meat pie. The 911 is for nancy boy racing drivers. The Aston’s for gentleman thugs.

That said, it’s by no means uncomfortable. Be in no doubt that it’s a firm car, designed for the bends, but the suspension never gets panicked by ridges and potholes in the same way that it does in, say, a Mercedes SL. It’s always controlled. Down. Up. Stop.

And then there’s the noise. Oh my! What a soundtrack. From inside, all is quiet and serene. At normal speed, when the European Union testing people are listening, all is quiet and serene.

But put your foot down and a little valve in the exhaust system changes everything. Under full-bore acceleration, this car doesn’t rumble or howl. It sounds like all the most exciting bits of the Bible. It sounds like Revelation.

And it’s just so loud. When my wife went for a spin on a balmy summer’s evening, I heard her change from fourth to fifth a full two miles away.

A Porsche may well have the power and agility to get past, but stuck in the sonic boom from those exhausts, I suspect the German car would probably disintegrate before it ever got the chance.

The way it sounds is a good enough reason to buy the Vantage but there’s more: the way it looks.

This, of course, is the Aston party trick. A Vanquish is so pretty you overlook the fact its flappy paddle gearbox is useless. A DB9 is so pretty you overlook the fact it goes wrong quite a lot. And now we have the V8, which is so pretty you overlook the fact it’s not quite as good as a 911.

In the same way you’d overlook the undoubted charms of Cherie Blair with her law degree and her international connections for a chance to spend the night with — I was going to say Jordan, but I think Keira Knightley is a bit nearer the mark somehow.

Oh and one more thing. The amount of global-warming carbon dioxide produced by the Aston’s big V8 is roughly equivalent to the amount produced by a dozen sprinters in a 100m race. Just thought I’d mention it.

From The Sunday Times
September 18, 2005
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