Among Discordians everywhere, there’s a firm belief that it’s a mistake to hold firm beliefs. Through various individual practices dedicated to personal ‘illumination’ by exploring as many belief systems as possible, the ultimate realization often appears to be nothing more than the bemused recognition of the absurdity of taking any idea too far. In other words, if it makes you cry, it’s real... if it makes you laugh, then it’s probably true.

Most Discordians, as I may have mentioned before, also like to refer to a story known as the Original Snub. In this story, the ancient Greek gods assembled at a feast on Mount Olympus but decided not to invite Eris due to her reputation for causing chaos and strife. When Eris finds out, she decides to get even with the Olympians by making a golden apple and carving the word ‘kallisti’ (to the prettiest) on its side. She sneaks up to the banquet hall and rolls the apple inside and when the Olympians see it, they immediately set to fighting each other over who deserves the apple. From this point in the story, various accounts diverge. However, Discordians do take solace in this story whenever they themselves are snubbed and also use it as an example of active defiance in the face of unwarranted exclusion or persecution.

While most of us are quite happy to accept the apple as merely an interesting symbol for the ability to ‘think different’, an amazing personal computer, or even a relatively tasty fruit with impressive antioxidant properties, apparently there are those among us who take a more sinister view – placing it right up there with all those other mythical weapons of mass destruction we get threatened with on a daily basis. Recently, a 24-year old nursery nurse from Tyneside was driving to work when she was pulled over by a traffic cop who was convinced she was using a mobile phone while driving. As it happened, the offending object in her hand was a juicy Golden Delicious apple. Now here is where the whole apple thing goes pear-shaped. Instead of admitting his mistake and simply waving her on, our judicious little man decided to justify the length of his truncheon by giving her an on-the-spot fine of £30 under – wait for it – the Dangerous Fruits (non-citric) Act of 2002.

Naturally, as you and I would have done, she thought he was having a laugh and refused to pay. But that’s when things started to get heavy. She was detained on the spot while a police helicopter was called in to take aerial photographs of the crime scene and there followed a series of ten court hearings, which astonishingly ended with magistrates fining this poor woman £60 plus another £100 in costs. On top
of that, the total cost to you and me as tax-payers ended up at well over £10,000. Since the current annual crime figures suggest that only one in a hundred crimes end up in
court cases, one begins to shudder at all the other heinous criminal activity out there that isn’t being dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as the case of the nursery nurse and the evil apple.

Although Apple’s Macintosh isn’t currently subject to the Dangerous Fruits (non-citric) Act of 2002, twisted incidents like these do make you wonder what other bizarre laws might be lurking and eventually turned against apparently unsuspecting outlaws going about what they think is a normal daily routine. I mean what about all those threatening letters I keep getting from the TV licensing people – despite the fact that I actually have a TV licence? Do they know something I don’t? Apparently, a number of pundits seem to be quite impressed with Apple’s apparent attempt to move into the world of digital television and movies with the launch of the Mac mini. And, despite Steve Jobs’ arguments for TV as a passive experience, the Mac Mini would certainly look fine on, under, near, or generally around your TV.

Because it has a DVI connector as do so many HDTVs, with a little software and a few hardware tweaks, the Mac mini could be a superb set-top box. Sony in its HDTV manuals says the DVI connector is “not intended” for connecting a computer, but I’m told it seems to work. At a third of the price and a smaller fraction of the size of the existing HP living room offering, the Mac mini is closer to the price of an XP Media Center Extender than the Media Centre PC with similar capabilities. It also has ample punch to play and optionally record DVDs, store thousands of music files, and produce beautiful OpenGL-based high-resolution photo transitions that are beyond the scope of today’s best digital media receivers. But will it be legal? Could plugging an Apple into a Sony pose a threat to national security? And don’t even get me started on the idiocy of the whole concept of a TV licence in the digital and satellite age.

If you happen to be attracted to Discordian principles, then you already accept the argument that laughter and paradox are essential. If you don’t, I think you’ll increasingly find life in general exceedingly hard going. Sure, you can ameliorate the absurdity of daily life by engaging in ‘guerrilla mind’ tricks – making paradoxical flyers to distribute, posting esoterica in unlikely places, counter-evangelism, surrealist pranking, ontological trickery, giving absurd rewards to distinguished individuals, pretending you believe that George Bush is an honest guy with a nearly average IQ – but it won’t help when you’re the one in the car that gets pulled over and fined for eating an apple (or, perhaps, even using one).

While Mac users still get snubbed for all sorts of reasons, they still generally display a healthy and active defiance in the face of unwarranted exclusion or persecution. And for the most part, a lot of us also realize that the only reason why we fall downwards when unsupported is that the fabric of space and time in which we live is uncomfortably curved.

Some people understand how important it is not to complicate beyond necessity.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but to be on the safe side, look out for the police – at least until we begin to realize we’ll only start solving our problems when we stop taking ourselves
so seriously. MW