Tuesday, August 31, 2004

More whores

Okay, I'm breaching my normal thing and addressing my readership (such as it is) in the hope that one of the more technically adept can help me with my trojan problem.


Any ideas what these are? They're three years old and seem to be part of the system, but they don't carry version information. I cannot find a reference to them on the web at all. I'm thinking, kill them, but I don't want to find they did something vital (anyone remember that hoax email that said "destroy that file" and then you couldn't get your machine to work?). But I think they are masquerading as system files but aren't. Anyone know?

The current things plaguing me are one that I have an ebay screen popup, even when I don't have IE open. It's extremely frustrating when you're editing to have that happen. Another thing is a window telling me I need to clean up my machine. Don't worry, I'm not dumb enough to hit the OK button.

As I write, a popup is giving me "search results for Casinos".

Something tries to read my floppy drive. I presume it's trying to copy itself or something.


Okay, so I'm sure they're bad. But I can't delete them. The fucking things can't be deleted in explorer, because they are in use by Windows. I delete them out of the registry, but they put themselves back in. I use HijackThis and Deskanker, but neither eradicates them. Spybot has no idea and AdAware is too busy telling me I have shitloads of cookies.

How the hell do I delete something that doesn't want to be deleted?


So, I rebooted in safe mode and killed the fuckers. I think I've killed the elitebar trojan. I don't know whether I will still get the popup ebay/casino/etc dogshite though.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Larkin about

I have to continue to despise the world because without hatred I am just a body floating in the ether.

That life is purposeless and absurd is apparent to any thinking being. We cannot escape that. Usually, our response to our being entrapped by the meaningless of our lives is to seek meaning.

I was thinking about how to explain what I meant by the quote above when I picked up this week's New Scientist. It carried a quote from Larkin's Aubade.

Larkin was a great poet. If this were not clear, the following would cement the truth of it for anyone who knows poetry:

A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace fear when we are caught without
People or drink.

The depth of honesty in Larkin's work, the insight into how we really do feel (as against the usual artifice of fiction), is what poetry is or should be all about.

The absurdity of our lives is that they dwindle to nothing. Whatever we devote them to is ultimately destined to become dust. But Larkin put his finger on a truth deeper than that: "It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know".

I'm a very similar man to Larkin (although by no means his match as a poet). He drowned in his hatred, and his fear did paralyse him.

And yet he could still write a beautiful expression of our commonality:
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
- An Odeon went past, a cooling tower, And
someone running up to bowl - and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.

and he knew that love is what matters:

The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Every effort you make is wasted. Time makes a fool of you if you stop believing the world is pointless and absurd.

My father in law is proud of himself. He worked hard and retired early. He never spent much time with the kids. He couldn't, he was working hard.

He retired early and now he can go fishing. Hours in a boat. He doesn't read much. He doesn't care to read.

He worked hard so that he could sit in a boat for hours.

Sometimes I believe you should strive to make the world around you better for everyone in it. Sometimes I believe it is vanity that lies behind that belief. Sometimes I believe there is no belief that does not in some way reflect our own vanity. Sometimes I believe it doesn't matter so long as you are kind. Sometimes I just say fuck it because most of the time kindness goes unrewarded. Sometimes I remind myself that virtue is supposed to be its own reward. I wonder what my father in law would say. His idea of virtue is to be a white working man who likes a yarn at the club, a steak now and then and three beers in the afternoon. His idea of virtue is he has no idea what virtue is and he does not care.

I cannot continue to despise the world because I want to be loved too much. I have to continue to despise the world because without hatred I am just a body floating in the ether.


Jamaica is not a particularly tolerant place, and I don't imagine it's a good place to grow up gay. The antigay "culture" is fed by ragga artists who litter their songs with references to killing gays and the like. Among them, Beenie Man stands out as a particularly unpleasant young man.

But Beenie Man is very popular and his music appeals to youngsters. So too do other ragga artists, who have been nominated for the MOBOs.

My understanding is that the nominations are based on a popular vote. Gay activists have demanded that the nominated artists are banned and are trying to get them excluded from visiting the UK.

Here is a difficult place for liberals. I have no sympathy for the artists involved or their ugly, but sadly commonplace, homophobia -- and I'm distressed that it remains popular with the young, especially among blacks, who you might think (wrongly, of course) would sympathise with another oppressed minority. However, I strongly support the principle that we should be free to speak and doubly so that the truth ought not to be smothered for political reasons. The truth is these people were nominated. Nor should they be excluded from the UK for holding objectionable views. The government should not be tasked with keeping objectionable views from us. It has a platform of its own, and can condemn those views, but silencing artists -- however reprehensible we believe, or it believes, their views are, is something we should not ask it to do.

Peter Tatchell is, I think, a brave and principled man. He has devoted his life to a cause he truly believes in, and one that I don't doubt needed and still needs fighting for. But I believe "rights" come as a package and we must not surrender one for the sake of another. To do so leads one down the track that has allowed our governments to filch our rights in the name of fighting terrorism.

Excoriate Elephant Man. Call him a cunt in every medium. I'm all for that. I'm calling him a cunt right here and now. I'd call him a cunt if I ever had the misfortune to meet him (so long as I was reasonably assured that he wasn't armed). But silencing him is not making him wrong. Rather, it's allowing him to feel not only that he is right but that he is suffering for it.

Orient bound

I am thinking of going -- no, more than thinking of going, planning to go -- to China, maybe next year, maybe the year after. I feel guilty and irresponsible even thinking of planning to go. But if I do not go, and go soon, I will implode.

I need to wake up and not know where I will be sleeping, not even in which town. I need it in a way that hurts. The kids would understand, wouldn't they, if I had to go away for six weeks?

I remember how I felt about my dad's sailing off in his ships. He would go for months at a time. I think, though, that I resented his wanting that more than wanting to be with me. I want more than anything to be with my children but I cannot take them with me.

Dalian is one of my magic places. Ouagadougou, Mysore, Dalian. I don't think there were any others. I won't feel fulfilled if I go there, but I certainly will feel unfulfilled until I do.

My mother says she could not go to China because they kill babies and eat dogs. It's the strangeness of eating dogs that makes me want to go, I tell her.

In Bolgatanga, spiced dog was on sale. Mrs Zen would not eat any. I said, it's just like eating cow or pig. She said no. The look on her face was enough explanation.

Sometimes I regret becoming a vegetarian. It means I cannot share some things. I no longer feel the way I did when I gave up meat but I couldn't start eating it again. I'm more likely to give up more things. Milk doesn't taste right here in Australia. I think it tastes too good and that's too much for me. I drink it skimmed, but the day is coming when I give it up. I don't even enjoy cheese much any more.

I am realising as I write this that what it is is that I don't enjoy food much these days, and I haven't for a while. I have days when I feel that my life is fading away, that whatever I felt it was for, whatever I felt I could get out of it, I no longer could even touch.

I must buy the Lonely Planet for China. I have an old NE Asia one (the plan is quite old now) but it's too skimpy to really get excited over. I will turn the pages and the names will be invigorating. I will dream of one day standing in Changsha, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Nanjing and, yes, Dalian and making those names real. I never picture the places, I pay scant attention to the descriptions (except that like many youngsters, I had my imagination fired by the adventures of Marco Polo) or the lists of what you should see, but the names, the beautiful names... what they could be hiding, what they could represent.

I curse that I will die before I can make every name real.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Favicons R us

Gawd bless the Gekko. Thanks to the lizardly lady, I have restored my little icon thingos. Using this little proglet, I was able to retrieve them and now they're stored permanently in a subfolder.

In honour of Gekko, I googled "leopard gecko" (because they will quite obviously be the coolest geckoes) and found that they make ideal pets.

They would be ideal for my sister, who showed a great affinity for lizards in the rainforest. Eungella has an endemic species of orange-sided skink, which she delighted in spotting. Me, I can take or leave them. The place crawls with them in the summer. How soon you become blase about the things that thrill you when they're new!

Or maybe for Zenella. She is not fond of animals, ever since encountering a goat at the Ekka, but she's shown a keenness on the geckoes that sit on our kitchen window at night. Perhaps I should read the page and find out how to tame one. I envisage a very small whip and chair...

Friday, August 20, 2004

Trojan whores

Plagued with a trojan that trashed my toolbars, changed my preferences and made some shit that I didn't want into my default search site, which Spybot sought but did not find and certainly did not destroy, I headed to the web and found Hijack This. If you don't already have it dl'd, get it, you need it.

It scans your machine and tells you what's running. As well as an eyeopening variety of legit programs that if you rack your brain you can figure out what they are (although I'm puzzled why my printer needs so much goddamned stuff, I'm sure I can switch it all off but I haven't figured out how to stop it from loading when I power up), it finds nasty pieces of shitware that have snuck their way onto your machine. It then cleans them up (and if it can't, you can do it for yourself). If you're a little bit technically adept, you can figure out what the bad stuff is and get rid of it. If not you can use the forums listed on TomCoyote's page and someone will help.

What an amazing thing to be able to write: someone will help. For free and gratis. That's what the interwebnet is about for me. It's about wikis, shared resources, give a little, take a little. Yes, it's also about arseholes who will fuck up your machine -- which in some cases (yes, I mean mine) is a vital source of entertainment, information, sometimes a lifeline -- just so that you are fed a couple of extra ads each day or, and I'm not sure whether it's worse or just as bad, will pop a dialler onto your HD, which will phone up Barbados or, curiously, Germany, and put you in touch with some robot whore that will "chat" with you about the sex it can't have and you're not having (I'm guessing -- although I have had such diallers on my HD (I used not to have a firewall when I used dialup), I've never waited around long enough before downing the phone line (which I figure you have to do -- closing the window doesn't break the connection, not that you can close the window because it's scripted to bring itself back up again, nor does closing down IE) to kibosh their wickedness).

(I just noticed -- the poxy thing killed the icons some sites give you when you bookmark them (except weirdly for XE.com, which I use for currency conversions (well, can you do 70 billion yen into dollars in your head?). Or I did when I tried to murder it. Pity.)

Did you see those parentheses? I'm going through a phase. I've never been a big fan -- if what you say needs parenthesising, I figure, it's not begging to be said.

Still, as my favourite coffee artist says: "When an intellect is too weary to deduce, it thinks in apothegms."

Which is bollocks but you need a dictionary to find out that it is. And if he can say that, I can forgive myself a few brackets here and there.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Arndt finger

I was wanting to read more about the Judith Arndt finger. I liked the idea of a cyclist's giving her rival the finger on the line for, well, I guessed, not sharing the work. I was only slightly disappointed to find that she had actually been flipping tha bird at her national federation for not picking what Eurosport quaintly describes as her "friend", and SuperCycling with almost Olde Worlde quaintness describes as her "live-in lover".

The top pick on Google caught my eye though. I wasn't sure where the "finger" came into it so I had to look. It's a page, built on the fly, of celeb skin photos and one of those erotic stories interspersed with page links. (If you visit, take care to have the popup blocker switched on and don't click any of the links for fuck's sake. And don't go there next week. There's a broken script but when it's fixed you're liable to be lost in popup hell whatever your blocker is.)

Two things are inescapable about porno stories. If you've read one, you've read them all, and they are so predictable that you could write them yourself if you could be arsed. Each involves the same dreary sequence of sex (sometimes more, sometimes less, but always equally as uninventive).

Sex can be a touch, a single touch, a kiss. It can be the way someone looks at you. It can be a promise you cannot keep on a subway train you will never take again. It can be furtive, angry, coarse, refined. It can be an expression of your self or just a cliche. It can be art or just a poorly drawn cartoon.

It can never be lassoed or made simple by circumscription with a few words. I've always had conflicting feelings about it. I like it and despise it and cannot always marry the two ideas. Some things you feel you don't want to burrow into. I wonder whether I am scared of what's there or more scared of what isn't.

Here's one of those things. Most people think they know the answer to it but I am struggling with the question. Father Luke said something about that the other day that struck me as very true. In fact, it struck me as the story of my life. I come over as a man who knows the answers, but I know them only for the trivial, the banal, the things anyone could find answers for if only they could be bothered (and I've bothered). But for anything that I really want to know, I don't even know what I want to know.

I've stopped making sense. Or I've stopped knowing what would be sensible to say. That's time to shut the fuck up, fool.

Parrot fashion

There are parrots in Raintree St. I have been seeing them for the past couple of weeks. They are not the lorrikeets that were in the tree in Buttercup St, chased out by crested pigeons. They are beautiful. I think they are rosellas, but I don't know enough about parrots to say for sure, and I cannot pick them out of my bird book (the birds they most resemble do not range as far as Brisbane). They are red and blue and yellow and then I curse my fucking colourblindness.

I call it colourblindness although I think it is a special case. (Maybe everyone thinks theirs is a special case when they have something that other people think is "wrong" about them.) I see colours -- just the same as anyone else I think. But I cannot remember their names. If I see a green or brown thing, I do not know which it is. For me it is grown. It is not that I can't distinguish the colour of the things, just that the green thing does not say to me that it is green and the brown does not say it is brown. For most of us, the world is coloured in shades of whatever it is, a dozen colours, twenty, depending how you cut it. For me, it is millions of colours and no shades.

Of course, I know the wall in front of me is purple. I know this intellectually though. I do not feel it at all. I know the rosette is yellow and blue. I know the plate on top of the software boxes is yellow too. But I look at it and I look at the rosette and ne'er the twain shall meet. They look similar but the same? I'd be lying if I said yes.

Do we learn the names for colours and then apply them to what we see, so that we slice up the world according to the words we learn? I mentioned before here that we do not and that colour is rather particular in this.

Does it hurt me any? Well, it means that I cannot describe what I see, which is a deficit in a writer (although my style does not require it -- maybe... nah, surely I didn't cut the coat of my style to fit the cloth of my senses?). It also means that I cannot paint what I see. I do paint, but what I make are paintings that make a lot of sense to me but not to anyone else. They insist that grass should not be brown or blue or yellow. I insist it can be whatever you wish it to be if it feels that way.

Secret society

On The Panel last night, some dork who's going up against John Howard in Bennelong was droning on. I was nodding off. Australian politics is duller than a gurgling drain and this guy was one of its lowlights. He was buggering on about government secrecy.

Of course you do have to keep secrets in the national interest, he said. The reason? It's the law.

Hang on, I thought. The law is not the reason you have to keep secrets, the need for secrets is the reason for the law!

But this kind of thinking is prevalent. You must not kill because murder is illegal. Well, you must not get caught killing because murder is illegal. But it's illegal because, presumably, it's wrong.

The woolly thinking that allows you to think that a thing is wrong just because it's illegal allows the opposite thought: things are not wrong if they're not illegal. So if I whack my neighbour over the head with a plank, that's illegal and therefore wrong; but if I do it with a B52, that's okay.

The guy had the good grace to look shamefaced and sputtered out some bullshit about not wanting others to know our "technical capability", but the truth is that the government keeps secrets because it does things it doesn't want others to know about. Often, those others are the public.

I once had to sign the Official Secrets Act, which in the UK binds you to keep the government's dirty secrets, and even now I'm committing a criminal offence by revealing the secret in question. I worked as a dogsbody on a survey that worked to find out whether service personnel who had been stationed at places such as Maralinga had suffered cancer at higher rates than those who had been stationed at places with similar climates at similar latitudes. Even saying I worked on it, by the way, is a breach of the act.

It was shitwork, but it did throw light into the lives of the servicemen, and showed me something interesting: many, many more cancers for the guys at Maralinga etc. Alarmingly so.

The survey concluded otherwise. It would have been easy to bury the results. All we did was make piles and I think check off sheets. Even if anyone had had access to the survey data, which they wouldn't -- it was secret, remember -- it was pathetically easy to falsify: shift a few records, lose or change a few sheets (they weren't even prenumbered or anything). Our work had to be "checked", of course, anyway.

It's nothing we don't know. Governments lie. They lie in their teeth for all sorts of reasons. I'm an advocate of open government, freedom of information, what have you. I know that you don't catch too many Al Qaeda guys that way, and that is a real stumbling block for open government. But too often, the gov't uses the measures it has passed or claims are necessary to combat bad buys on the good guys (or at least the neutral guys, if you will). The solution? Probably we do need a covert organisation. One. Not the proliferation we, and other countries, currently indulge in. It should be tightly controlled by outside agencies, who are accountable and are not part of the gov't. At the moment, the UK's secret services are accountable only to the gov't of the day, which does not offer protection to the citizens.

Don't ask me for the details. Another problem woolly thinkers struggle with is the idea that they don't actually have to have an answer to everything.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Marry me and be my, erm, thingo

What is marriage for?

It's a serious question, and one that needs to be answered. People generally get married without really asking it. (Personally, I am married for a rather confused set of reasons, including that my wife needed a visa, that I believe the formal commitment makes a couple something more than just cofuckers and that is a good thing, and I just plain assumed that people do that kind of thing.)

Is it for having kids?

A French court has said so. I could see its point of view if it made any difference these days whether your parents are married or even cohabiting. Maybe it does in Begles, but it sure doesn't anywhere I've lived. (It's not a French thing -- a survey quoted in this article said 64% are in favour of gay marriages.)

I'm going to repeat what I said in MW in response to the notion that it is a fundamental principle that marriage should be heterosexual:

"You understand that there's a difference between saying that marriage
is fundamentally a union of man and woman and that it is a fundamental
principle that it should be restricted to a male and a female?

The former is arguably true and not exceptionable. It is a fact about
the societies we live in and reflects that we largely form
heterosexual couples. It says something about the purpose for
couple-forming *as we perceive it*. You may proceed from this
understanding to discuss whether you feel this perception ought to
change and whether it serves a broader purpose.

The latter is arguably false and is certainly exceptionable. You'd
need to lay out the principle involved, and substantiate it. You would
need, in so doing, to take care not to confuse principle with
prejudice. The former *can* be substantiated; the latter *cannot*,
although those that hold prejudices often expend a great deal of
energy in trying to prove they are based in anything but groupthink,
fear and hatred, most often of the self. You would further need to
take care that you didn't rely on a notion of the inherent
desirability of conservatism, in other words, that you didn't simply
appeal to its having always been that way. You might always have been
blind, but that doesn't make an operation to give you sight

To be honest, I do believe that marriage is fundamentally about a man and woman and creating a family (although this does not necessarily include having kids, and I recognise that the 'traditional' family model is one of many possible) and that it existed and to some extent exists to mark a couple off as a unit that excludes others from sex (one would assume to assure paternity) and to provide mutual support etc etc. But in saying that, I think it becomes plain to anyone who stops for thought that, in this as in many other things, what is is not necessarily what should be, and as I noted in MW, what is does not have to continue to be, if we wish it to change.

(Before I am taken to task as an old stick in the mud, I should note that I hold that belief because it is one I have assumed without ever really thinking about it, and when I do think about it, no other idea works better. If marriages are not about families, however we define the latter, what the hell are they about? Of course, two men can make a family together or two women, or three of each or eight, all mixed. So can a woman and a child, a man and children... I think you're with me, anyway. If you do not believe so, you need to do some pretty fancy arguing and simply defining a family as man, woman, children will not do, because there are just too many of us who do not have that and what use are words that do not mean enough?)

So does my perception need to change? No. What a thing is fundamentally is not all it is. I do believe there is still some use to the concept of marriage as union for family-building and the model that has parents married to provide stability for children (through having a stable relationship) is good, perfectly useable if we extend it to other partnerships and not in itself exceptionable. I also believe that a child ought to have male and female role models -- or models at least -- although these need not at all be their parents. (I'm not going into why I believe this, but I do think my belief is well founded.) This is not to say that there is anything wrong with other ways of being, or that being married is necessarily better than not being (although I do believe the commitment is better than its lack where there are children -- however, marriage without the commitment, or when it is gone, is no better, and in some ways worse, than its simple lack).

Ultimately, families are about love or they are about nothing and marriage is about creating a place where you can love and be loved, or it too is about nothing.

The gay guys in Begles? If they love each other, and will continue to love each other and anyone else who enters their family at any time, let them be married. Where's the problem?

Stupid cheats

When I was a child I used to infuriate those who played games with me by insisting on playing to the rules. I would become enraged if others cheated -- no matter how small the infraction. I can remember throwing down my racket in a tennis game and storming from the court because my opponent so flagrantly called a ball out that was in that I could not stomach playing any more.

I simply could not understand what the use was in winning a game unless you won fairly. I suppose I lacked the killer spirit. But even to this day I cannot quite grasp why a sportsperson would want to win at all costs, when the winning itself is so clearly second best because they didn't keep to the rules. The rules are the game, in a very real sense. They are not there to prevent a player from enjoying the game but to be the very thing that the game is about overcoming. Where is the joy in a game won unless it involves that overcoming?

When Kostas Kederis won the 200m gold four years ago, my first reaction -- and that of the sceptical everywhere -- was "he must have cheated". The idea that Greece could produce a guy good enough, and I'll say it, a white guy at that (I'll say it because although there may not be any inherent reason black guys win at sprinting, they generally do and the only way you could imagine Greeece winning a gold in sprinting would be to borrow an athlete Qatar-style), was astonishing. Perhaps I don't follow athletics closely enough to know where he came from. In any case, the impression was doubled by the success of Ekaterina Thanou in grabbing silver in the 100m.

Well, I put the scepticism aside, of course. The guy has gone on to perform well and Thanou performs at the top level today. They must have been tested between then and now...

Reading that these very symbols of Greek prowess are under a cloud is depressing. A huge shadow hangs over a Games that most are already thinking will be tainted by the scandal over designer steroids that has engulfed the US team and others (including the UK's premier sprinter, Dwayne Chambers), and other doping incidents that fill the papers, not least the problems affecting the Aussie cycling team and the continuing rumours that follow stars such as Ian Thorpe and Lleyton Hewitt.

I love the Olympics. I love the notion that these are the world's best, pushing themselves to the limit in a range of disciplines. I love the competition and I cheer as wildly as anyone for the Brits (although of course I usually get little to cheer about). I do understand the motivation to cheat, especially when you are not quite good enough or, more so, when you feel you are but those who are your peers are cheating first.

But I did not call my opponent's balls out when they were in to level the playing field, as it were. Of corse, nothing was at stake except honour.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Humpbacks in Moreton Bay

Zenella is not much impressed with the whales, but I am, although I have seen them more than once before. I do not go in much for the whole mystical thing about whales, and yet, it touches me that they seem to want to know us. It is almost as though they were some kindly aliens, who, though hurt by us many times before, still want us for friends.

Yes, I know. That is exactly the whole mystical thing and it's just so much bunkum, but you feel it and you cannot explain it.

Zenella is more impressed when the blow from one of the whales drenches her. I am watching the rainbow in the spray and do not feel the wet, do not realise it has come our way until I see Zenella shake it from her hair.

She is a very beautiful child. She is wilful, often angry, funny. I cannot begin to find words for her. These days I run short of words for all the things I feel. This is what life has for me and I'm grateful for it. Sometimes the churning madness that I am used to thinking of as me is calmed by it all. I can sit with a child close to me and lose myself in the smell of their hair, the milky air from the sling they sit in, the feel of their chest against mine. I do not need to think it through and perhaps it's just as well. Thinkers tend to destroy their world.

I am watching Moreton Island slip away behind us, the bright lines, blue, yellow and green of sky, sand and sea, the very image of the world I yearned for in the cold, damp days of English winters (and yet... it is the truth that I have doubts, that I fear my children's growing to become Australians, with all that means to me, because here in Brisbane is not the sophisticated world that they might have had in England, and because there is a part of me that looks on the good things I think I have about me as "English": my curiosity, my quickwittedness, my way with words, my willingness to dream and break my heart over my dreams, my tolerance, oh I don't know, what good does it think to think about what is good and bad? I have made my fucking bed and theirs too; and is it for them I fear, or for me? Do I fear that I will cease to be here among people who are not like me? Shouldn't I welcome it? Maybe I don't know, have never known what I want, and so I am always going to be disappointed -- I wish there was a way to know, as others seem to know, or at least not to care).

I know. Don't overthink it. Just do it. I know. But some days even the magic of a whale's slowly turning over in a limpid sea is not enough.

For B

I have kissed my son a thousand times, and held him close. I will kiss his face a million more before he goes, before the days come that words cannot bridge, and the distance between us grows.

I will kiss his face a million times before he goes.

Will I always be able to bring him rest as I do now? Will I always bring him joy?

I have watched him sleeping in his bed and seen our lives before us. Must my gentle son be broken on the faults I find in him? Must my beautiful, sensitive boy be hurt by my genes making me the man who hurt me when I was a beautiful, sensitive boy?

Am I strong enough to be tender, or weak, like all those before me and all those who follow me if I am not strong enough to be as tender as I have the courage in me to be?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Money for old rope

Why should the US make nice to Europe?

Here's why. The news that Russia is pricing its oil in euros might not at first glance seem all that important. But read the piece.

America funds its extravagant lifestyle with a huge national debt. It's able to do this because everyone wants dollars. Dollars are the bedrock of the world's economy. They're what we all rely on to make our exchanges. The enormous size of the US economy means that we can believe that it will always be there, buying our goods, creating wealth, basically being reliable as a consumer of last resort, with money that you can trust.

Pricing basic commodities in currencies other than the dollar sends a message. It says that the US economy is not so important. If many countries follow the Russian line, and do so for other commodities (although it should be noted that oil is far and away the most important commodity in the world market) then the European economy will become the world's backstop. America will find that its debt is not so sustainable (because it will not find others so willing to buy its currency, which will have become less useful), and there will be upheaval in its domestic economy (not least because some of its advantage in trade deals -- which stems in part from the deals' being struck in its own currency -- will have been lost.

This is a simplified version, of course, of a complicated matter. But it should be noted that one of the things that Iraq did that very much pissed off the Bushistas was to ask for his money for oil in euros.

In a free state

I'm a great fan of the Free State Project. It's lovely that even rightwing nutters think the best way to change the world is to form a commune and ignore it.

What particularly tickles me is how much government these dudes who hate government indulge in. They have a page full of policies. I note that if you promote bigotry, you can be expelled.

Hang on! That's not very free, now is it?

You're free to do as you wish so long as we approve. Man, that sounds just like every other place on the planet.

Society does suck. It does need changing. But here's the thing. It's us. It doesn't stop being us if we turn our back on it.

About Father Luke

If you know Father Luke, you don't need telling he's a cool dude.

He's the kind of guy who appropriates a Usenet group for his own use (and his stuff is very good). He's the kind of guy who hides the source for his webpage just because he can (I couldn't even copy the URL out of the status bar).

Lots of people on Usenet don't care for me. I think they just don't get it.

But hey, maybe the world is wrong and you really can find love among strangers who present themselves only in words. I know there are people I connect with, in one way or another, who look beyond Dr Zen and see Dr Zen, if you follow me.

Father Luke is one cool guy. If he didn't approve of me, I think I would cease to be. You'd never know I had. You'd just know there was someone else and I was no more. What gives me shivers, though, is that I'll bet Father Luke would know.

About Father Luke

If you know Father Luke, you don't need telling he's a cool dude.

He's the kind of guy who appropriates a Usenet group for his own use (and his stuff is very good). He's the kind of guy who hides the source for his webpage just because he can (I couldn't even copy the URL out of the status bar).

Lots of people on Usenet don't care for me. I think they just don't get it.

But hey, maybe the world is wrong and you really can find love among strangers who present themselves only in words. I know there are people I connect with, in one way or another, who look beyond Dr Zen and see Dr Zen, if you follow me.

Father Luke is one cool guy. If he didn't approve of me, I think I would cease to be. You'd never know I had. You'd just know there was someone else and I was no more. What gives me shivers, though, is that I'll bet Father Luke would know.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Take your platyposition

The platypuses at Broken River are not curious about the onlookers that swarm on the bridge and on the viewing platform, craning to get a view of the furry monotremes below, but you could be forgiven for thinking they are looking you straight in the eye.

They are strange beings. They lay eggs but they suckle their young. They look somewhat like otters with duck bills. I suppose most people know this about them. But they do not know, unless they see them, that they rush this way and that, stirring up the silt so that the river is clouded with it, that they make no sound bar the plop of their bodies when they dive for a worm, that they feed in this season day and night, perpetually it seems.

A man tells us that the female stores fat in her tail and will stay in her burrow for two months when she has laid eggs.

The air up on the range at Eungella is cold. You wouldn't think you were in the tropics if it weren't for the palms. The rainforest is not quite tropical anyway. It is not tremendously different from the rainforest at Lamington or Noosa (or doesn't seem so to me -- I don't know much about Australian flora, not even enough to know the names of gums, let alone tell them apart).

The road from Mackay is flanked by fields of cane. The light is different in Australia and I see better. Everything is sharp and distinct. The air is clear and should feel good to breathe, although I have been suffering from a grating something in my throat, not enough to make me cough but enough to feel the cool.

Mackay is a sugar town. It is lowlying, flat and unhurried. It has kept more of its older buildings than most Australian towns that I have seen, which makes it quite attractive. The pubs are lively on a Friday night, nothing like as threatening as their counterparts in the English countryside.

We sit at the bar in one hotel or another, I can't remember the name. Every time I empty my glass of bourbon and coke, the barman offers me another. I do not know whether to say not just now or to drink more slowly, and because I can't decide, I am very drunk.

I feel happy though. I find I am always happy when I drink bourbon (and not so if I drink whisky, so I don't much any more) but particularly so to be here with my sister. She is a straightforward woman, not by any means a thinker, but she is intelligent and interested in a lot of the things I am interested in. We get on very well mostly, although she is not so tolerant of others' foibles as she might be (a schoolteacherly vice -- she is used to people's doing more or less what she wants when she wants it). She particularly dislikes being talked to sharply, and I've never learned not to talk sharply when I think it's merited (and yes, sometimes when it isn't). You don't ever want her to drive you anywhere if you are expected to navigate. Don't ask.

The beaches north of Mackay are just nice enough to make you feel good about life without really being anything special, but it feels good to lie in the warm sun with nothing to think about.


My sister has been reading the Curious incident of the dog in the night. It's what her book group is reading. Because the girls in her book group are afraid of proper books, they often choose children's books: His dark materials, Harry Potter etc.

Curious incident is very much written for children. I think it would be a wonderful read for an early teen. It has a lot of incidental stuff, science, tidbits, the sort of thing I loved when I was a teen (and still do). You probably ought to know it all by the time you're my sister's age, though (but I'm not at all sure what "ought to" means in this context).

The narrator of Curious incident is a child with Asperger's, which was interesting, because I too am writing a book with an Asperger's character (if you can call it "writing a book" when you are at a stage of "dreaming about actually bothering to write the fucking thing"). I did quite a bit of research. It's a fascinating study. It's one of those conditions in which you can see slivers of yourself reflected, and you are left hoping not too much. (In case you're wondering, I do have a theory of mind, do understand emotions and can read faces! But I get a little upset by things out of place, cannot rest when I have an uncompleted task, sometimes don't need company and some other bits and bobs.)

I'm interested because I like to think about the line between what we in essence are and what we become; what is foisted on us by nature and what we choose (however wide an idea "choosing" is). For instance, parents worry that their children are shy when they do not want to associate with others or will not cooperate, hitting or biting. But you could just as easily argue that there is something inherently sensible in not wanting to associate with snotty little kids who bore you with their constant demands, and there isn't a person on this planet who wouldn't improve for the occasional deep bite on the arm. It's interesting to reflect on your own character: what could you change if you wanted to and what are you stuck with? Are you this and that because your pa and ma did this and that? (I suspect not! I rather feel that the reasons for our being what we are lie in a myriad interactions, reinforcements and knockbacks, all working on a substrate made by your genes, and that psychiatrists will be shown to be the frauds that most sane people suspect them to be.)

It's curious. I like to believe in change although I so rarely see it. sigh