Thursday, January 26, 2006

Picture this

My troubles started with a photo.

I had good reason to want the photo. But maybe you could ask whether I wanted to get caught, carrying it in my pocket.

Having it in my pocket, you should say. It's hardly carrying a thing to have it in your pocket one evening.

But how should I know that it was real? It's possible I suffered for nothing. Because Mrs Z was upset, of course she was, that the picture was of someone slim and attractive.

And I assumed -- I'm not hardbitten, you know, just foulmouthed, it's not the same thing -- that I had not been taken for a ride.

But maybe I was taken for a ride.

You have to believe that someone who will not tell you who they are, what they are called, would be willing to do that. How can someone care for you who will not tell you who they are? Is that even possible?

I'm willing to believe it's possible because I'm willing to believe.

What a sad fucker! Anyone can borrow a picture. It's like borrowing a name. Do one and why not the other?

Still, it's nice to dream. It's nice to believe that in a cruel world there are somewhere some people who you can touch and who can touch you.

I don't hide. I am who I am. I'm not scared. The beautiful thing about the interwebnet is you can take it or leave it. I'm not trying to be left but I'm not begging to be taken.

I don't really understand hiding. I support it, of course I do, but I can't understand why, when you have the whole world a click away, you'd want to be someone else.

And I am for real. I'm not some sad cunt trying to make something out of nothing. Why wouldn't you want to feel my breath on your cheek, have me whisper in your ear? I am just reaching out, my fingers dangling in an impossible space, I cannot possibly... but if I can...

Believing that I can, I will hang for a photo, real or posed, I will put myself out there, I will be real, even in virtual, unreal, untouchable space. I will believe in you. I feel not an ounce diminished for it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Our new day

Time drifts by if you let it, slides away until the milestones bring you up sharply. Sometimes I fear it when I think about what I will lose.

Zenella began school yesterday. I can still recall her first steps. Will I always remember? Mrs Zen takes photos and that is how she remembers but I recall things as feelings, how a thing affected me not how it happened. I suppose in time it all merges into one ball of feeling.

I didn't think much of it, yesterday. It's not a surprise like first steps (although of course they are not entirely a surprise). It's expected, the day is known, the child is excited for weeks about it (or upset, depending on the child) and then the day comes and it's not so big a change and doesn't feel so momentous after all. I was a bit worried that she might not have a good day, because she is not outgoing and won't thrust herself forward, but when she came running at the end of the day, smiling, I knew it had been okay.

But she was beautiful in her new school uniform, smiling in the sun. I forget to fear for her, to worry about what a school will do to her lively mind, about finding friends, about bullying, about everything, because all I can think is she is mine, she is mine, she is mine, and she always will be my golden child, beautiful in her new school uniform, smiling in the sun.

Queensland Roar 2 Sydney FC 1

Finally something to cheer about at Suncorp, as the Roar scored a facile victory over a very disappointing Sydney.

It won't be enough to save Bleiberg, I'm sure, as once again he changed tactics, this time to 433. This can be a great formation when the two wide forwards are attacking midfielders, who make five across the middle during the buildup and push up to join the middle man. Unfortunately, the Roar's interpretation had three men permanently up front, leaving them light in the middle, and unbalanced, as they played with a left winger but no one on the right. Baird, confused by the system, was never in position to act as the outlet that the midfield often needed. Astonishingly and inexplicably, Seo, the Roar's best player all season, was stuck at right back, clearly under orders not to get forward (a major disbenefit of Bleiberg's defensive mindset has been that when he plays with four at the back, the fullbacks simply don't cross halfway, and consequently cannot offer any width; still, that's better than when he plays with three at the back, when the "wing backs" are all too often found badly out of position).

Sydney were desperately poor, sitting back and looking to hit the Roar on the break. The neat football that they've often shown this season was missing, and those of their quality players that were on display (they fielded what looked to me like a weakened lineup) played badly: Carney was unrecognisable on the right and Yorke anonymous in the playmaker role (playing far too deep to be effective). Queensland hustled well in midfield, although their own tendency to play deep and pump the ball up to the front men meant that they weren't as constructive as they might have been.

Queensland had the run of it and could have scored a couple by half time. Reinaldo worked hard but left his shooting boots in his locker, missing two sitters. Brosque also put a lot of effort in. He's cruelly misused by being played as a target man, but he battled manfully and fully deserved the two goals he scored.

The biggest cheer of the evening was saved for the entrance of David Williams, the youngster who has been tipped to be Australia's biggest star this side of Harry Kewell. He is clearly talented: he used the ball intelligently when played out on the right, and when pushed up into the middle, his preferred position, his quick thinking, equally quick feet and good vision were in evidence. If he grows three or four inches (in Italy, he'd be on the growth hormone), I tip him for the Premiership. He didn't look completely fit, so it's hard to say whether he has the pace, but one dazzling run showed that he is able to get past players, a skill that is rare enough to take a young player places.

I know that Bleiberg just doesn't see what I see, and has pissed away the chances that a talented squad had to do something in this league, but I am crossing my fingers that he will start Williams this week and next. With Brosque on the left, Richter on the right, Seo and AN Other in the middle, Queensland would be tremendous at this level. Just play 442.

It's difficult not to pick Brosque as Queensland's best player but I think Murdocca had a wonderful game, while Brosque put the effort in to little effect until he scored. He showed far more intelligence than he has of late, running usefully and mixing it with a Sydney midfield that's not afraid to put the foot in. His passing was crisp and productive, more so as the game went on. Richter also had a good game, badly out of position on the left. He made several good runs but looked too often to cut inside onto his right foot. The first time he chanced it with his left, he ballooned a cross, but the second, he set up a goal. He does need a coach to work with him on his ball control but he's very promising.

Apparently, Queensland are leaking players because they won't talk contracts until the end of the season. Jordan Simpson is already gone and Baird is on his way too. Someone needs a word in Ribot's ear. This is a talented squad that has been poorly coached. It would be a good idea to sign most of these back up quick smart. It's depressing to read in the Courier-Mail that McLoughan is thinking about moving. He's about the best defender in the competition and would be difficult to replace.

I usually end my reports with a note about the referee. Let's just say that this one must have been born in Bondi and leave it at that. The standard of refereeing has been abysmal in this league.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lamorna beach

In my dream, the wind was in your hair.
  We never had harsh words.
    There was nothing to forgive.

In my dream, we have the sand between our toes.
   And you know that the sea would drown you if you let it.
    But I am not pushing you in, dragging you down, holding you back.
      Or doing anything.

But I have a good heart.
  Confused in the melee.
    Sometimes. Easily broken.

I am always talking, talking.
  Saying nothing, meaning nothing.
     I just want the hours to pass.
       Until you kiss me.
     Once again. Just dreaming.
   Nothing to fear. We are ever further apart.
never coming near.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Queensland Roar 0 Melbourne Victory 1

Halfway through the second half of this must-win match, I realised that our season had ended. As I watched six Queensland players sitting deeper than all but one of Melbourne's, I knew it. Perhaps I should have known it when I saw the starting lineup -- no striker on the subs' bench and yet again three on the pitch. I definitely could have concluded it at halftime, when Bleiberg took off Dilevski, who had been going okay, and left on Baird, who had played so badly that he was once more jeered off the pitch when Bleiberg finally did hook him.

The first half was not so bad. Queensland played bright football, looking to cut through Melbourne with neat passing, but as so many times this season, poor finishing -- truly execrable finishing in the case of Baird, overelaborate as ever -- let them down. Reinaldo looked the part up front, but a continuing problem for Queensland is that the midfield does not follow the ball in, and his knockdowns were squandered. Brosque is simply too lightweight to play as an out-and-out centre forward, and Sydney will surely use him more intelligently.

For reasons known only to Bleiberg, the Roar's best player -- one of the view with any vision or ability to read the game -- played as part of the back three. Seo was wasted, although his defending was top-notch. He helped make the vaunted Thompson completely anonymous in the first half, and was not at fault when the same guy scored in the second half.

Once Melbourne had scored, they very effectively shut up shop. It's a plain fact that when a side puts ten men behind the ball, you're never going to beat them by playing through the middle. But Queensland tried anyway. It might have been effective to pump the ball up for Reinaldo to win but only if the midfield were closer to him, or willing to run into the huge space they left between them and him, which -- partly through exhaustion in the case of McKay, who looked way short of fit enough for professional football (although Bleiberg instead took off Murdocca, who, though entirely ineffective, at least looked like he had some puff left) -- they were not.

The painful thing for the onlooker is that Queensland do have some good players, cruelly misused by a coach who not only seems unsure what his best team is but also what system they should play. And is he not showing them videos and pointing out where they're going wrong? I can't believe he is, when I see two defenders on an attacker, and neither putting a foot in. That's just elementary football. And when McLaren, as he often did, showed Allsopp the inside and watched him shoot, I couldn't help thinking that Bleiberg simply sits with his eyes shut every match, because this is a perennial problem of McLaren's game.

Next week, Queensland play Sydney, who are more than useful, and will relish the opportunity to carve the Roar apart if we are foolish enough to play with three at the back again. Melbourne did not have the players to do it -- Kitzbichler had a poor game and was substituted early -- but Sydney have Carney, and he'll have a field day. I don't think there's much hope of Bleiberg's waking up to it and playing 442 but it would suit his resources: Simpson on the right, Buess on the left, McCloughan and one hopes Gibson in the middle -- that is a good defence, close to the best in the league. Freeing Dilevski from defensive duties can only be a good thing -- so often is he caught hopelessly out of position, and of course, McKay needs dropping -- he's just not good enough at this level. Baird must surely have played his last game for the Roar. He was played in a deeper role this week, which suggests that Bleiberg has gone stark raving bonkers. Baird's greatest weakness is his inability to bring other players into the game (well, to hang on to the ball would be more accurate) and playing him as an attacking midfielder is just this side of insane, particularly with Brosque on the teamsheet. Jordan Simpson excelled in the same role against Perth, and Bleiberg hooked him at the break. One despairs.

Queensland's best player was Seo, wasted in defence but excellent as he has been all season. Oh to see him further up the pitch, putting his vision and passing ability to good use! Brosque tried hard to little actual effect, and Reinaldo was more effective while squandering a couple of reasonable chances. Murdocca mostly did simple things well in the first half but when the hammer was down, he was found wanting. McCloughan had another good game, although he showed a little too much inclination to the hoof. Melbourne did not really have any standouts for me, although their defence was solid and the keeper made some useful saves.

The referee, as is traditional, had a poor game, often mugged by Melbourne playacting, and let down by assistants who seemed unwilling to flag for even the most blatant assaults from a side that hasn't won too many fans with its "rugged" approach this season.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fun with drugs

When I read yesterday that Charlie Clarke planned to return pot to class B because an upcoming report would show that new evidence compelled it, I was stunned. What new evidence could have brought that conclusion? There was a recent study into pot and mental illness but although its conclusions provoked thought (I mentioned them here; too lazy to look the URL, sorry), it didn't show any great danger from pot. (Really just the same old story: if you're nuts already, smoking pot might make it worse. Yeahbut so might having a caseful of beer.) So I was pleased and yet outraged to find out Clarke had misrepresented the report. Pleased because his stance has been shown to be bullshit.

But outraged on two counts. One, that a politician is yet again putting his opinion above the science. They can't help themselves. Clarke knows that the Tories make Labour out to be weak on this sort of thing. ("Weak" in British political talk is a deadly insult. You can draw your own conclusions about a system that thinks reasonableness and consideration, rather than kneejerk lashings, are "weak".) Labour are a bit "weak" on drugs altogether. They've shown themselves willing to consider that druggies are not Satan's legion and that there might just be a social cause for their problems. So Clarke has found an easy way to look "strong". Attack pot. Count two is that Clarke has acted to nobble the report, by stating before its publication that he's considering ignoring its recommendation. He didn't actually say in his statement that that was what he was doing but it is.

You know, the world really does have worse problems than kids' smoking marijuana. But Charlie Clarke's not really in the fixing problems business. One of the big problems with his generation of Labourites is that they are nannyists: all leftists believe that the state should nurture the people, but the nannyists think it should be your mother. Mothers, bless 'em, worry when their kids are having fun. They know that most fun things have a downside (the newspapers always tell them). But every night down the pub doesn't end with heads in gutters, and most, almost all, kids who have a puff walk away unscathed. Mothers generally grow out of bullying their kids, realising that all they do is drive the kid to hide the fun from them, or worse, flaunt it with unseemly disrespect. Sometimes the mums remember that they too once had fun. But governments never do grow out of it. Probably because they are packed full of the kind of hollow reeds who smoked but didn't inhale or were at parties where everybody did a line of coke but somehow they didn't; in other words, people who have never had fun and are fucked if they're going to let anyone else have any.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bombs away

The US has joined the UK, France and Germany in calling for the UN to sanction Iran for resuming its nuclear programme. So why is Iran ignoring the international consensus?

Well, maybe because three of those countries have the nuclear weapons they seek to deny Iran. And in the case of two of them are looking at building or buying their next generation. America is considering how it can build "useable" nuclear weapons, which it plans to use against recalcitrant third-world nations such as, erm, Iran.

I don't think a nuclear-armed Iran would be a good thing. Although I think there is zero chance of its attacking Israel with nukes (and I believe Israel's alarm centres around the levelling of the power projection gap between it and those who oppose it rather than genuine fear of attack), I wouldn't shed too many tears if the Israelis went ahead and took out Bushehr. But the hypocrisy is sickening.

We talk about our commitment to nonproliferation. But what we mean is nonproliferation for them. The NPT calls on us to reduce our arsenals (with the aim of working towards a nuclear-weapons-free world). The UK has been presented with an opportunity to wind down its nuclear programme, to save itself a great deal of money, and to not equip itself with a weapon that is useless against any threat we might conceivably face. But we are convinced that nukes are the ticket to the big boys' club (and we're right), so we will buy a whole new generation of weapons.

And why didn't we bully India? Or Pakistan? Is a Pakistani bomb less dangerous than an Iranian one?

We all know the answer. Pakistan doesn't have leaders who say Israel should be wiped off the map (or if they do, they say it only in private). And India is a strategic counterweight to China.

The problem with these power games, even though they may bring us temporary security, is that they give a message to countries such as Iran. They say "to be a player you must have the bomb". And Iran wants to be a player, because it has a long and illustrious history, a rich culture and an important place in Asia, and it's downcast that no one gives it the respect it feels it deserves. The message, of course, ought to be "to be a player, you must enrich your population to the level of ours". But our governments are too little interested in enriching populations (except the populations of their address books).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

If I had a Hamas

A couple of posts ago, I noted that solutions to the Israel problem needed to begin with an acceptance that it exists and will continue to do so (without indulging in sterile discussions about whether it should have in the first place). It seems that even Hamas has come to this realisation.

Three things I note about this. First, this is at last a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. Hamas is strongly representative of the disaffected in Palestine, and has a deep involvement in the community (which Fatah, since becoming the state, is thought to some extent to have lost). If Hamas can accept Israel, you would need to be truly on the outer not to. Hamas has not gone as far as recognising Israel's right to exist. Doubtless Hamas still believes Israel has no such right. But that's a technicality in this context. The other extreme demands the recognition for its own reasons but so long as no one wants you gone, it doesn't matter much whether they think you have a right to be here.

Second, the Western left is in danger of finding itself in a place in the debate occupied only by it and Nazis. Of course there is a broad range of positions on the left but some have drifted into a place in which they believe that Israel -- which has done wrong -- is seen as evil in itself. It's important to be clear about what is wrong: the policies of Likud and the vicious extremism of some Israelis. But even these must be dealt with. They express concerns that are real as well as desires that are unattractive. We can consider the concerns without meeting the desires.

Third, it works both ways. When you read this reaction:
But Israel's security establishment predicts that if Hamas does as well as expected in the election it will damage the Palestinian Authority and further undermine the prospects for an agreement.

you realise that the tunnel is still very dark and the light still a very long way away.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Liberally speaking

This is hilarious. It proves not only that polls are not at all to be trusted (not news in itself, of course) but also that "liberal" and "conservative" are labels that most people bandy about without demanding they actually mean anything. I'm not sure who could think that putting Alito on the SC bench would make it more liberal but I remind myself we're dealing with a nation that voted Bush in, so confusion ought to be expected.

A problem with the terms "liberal" and "conservative" is that they must serve two uses, political and economic, and they do a poor job of it. Many conservatives are economic liberals and vice versa. It's worse than that, even, because Americans so strongly equate positions with the labels, so that a person who, in my view, is clearly a rightist, can say "I'm a liberal because I support legalisation of marijuana but a conservative because I oppose gun control". Of course, in cases like this, the reason for both positions is much the same: the division in politics is not between a preference for freedoms or restrictions but between the individual and society. The left, broadly speaking, believes that the greater good is paramount and that social solutions are best for social problems; the right that the individual is and that individuals are responsible for their own solutions. It's not quite as clearcut as it looks at first view. Surely, on this view, Mussolini was a man of the left: he believed in subordinating the individual to the state? Unsurprisingly, some on the right argue exactly this, but the argument has no merit. Mussolini did not urge the individual's subordination to the state for a greater good of the society but to aggrandise the state. As he was leader of the state, and clearly identified himself with it, it's clear who that benefited. A better understanding of the fascist polity makes things even clearer. Fascism arose in nations where corporations -- themselves controlled by single men or families -- had gained control of power. Subordination of the individual to the state tends to benefit whoever the individual is working for: if he or she works for a soviet, the soviet will gain; if for a private employer, the private employer will gain. This is because in these states, the state itself is a tool of the employer. Fascism arose as a means of controlling and directing private desires towards the ends of a small group of individuals (just as the Roman system that the fascists admired existed largely to enrich a small class of Romans by similarly focusing private desires to ends that did not serve the community as well as they did that small class).

Commentators often speculate about whether the United States could become a fascist power. It has seemed to come ever closer to the fascist polities. It's obvious that appealing to its traditions or claiming that its constitution would save it from that fate ignores that the Bush party does not feel any constraint from tradition or constitution. Still, it should be clear that fascism was a tool, not an inevitability. Countries don't inch step by step into reactionary forms of government for no reason. They are not hostages to fate. Men (and rarely women) push them that way. If they can serve the same ends without needing a fascist state, why bother with the trappings of it? It was of its time, anyway, influenced strongly by both modernism and modernism's ugly little brother, futurism. Neither is in fashion now. The embrace of postmodernism (evident even in companies' addiction to change) makes the wide adoption of a unifying theme such as antisemitism or extreme nationalism much harder to sustain, as does the rise of individualism and to some extent multiculturalism. It was a lot easier for Hitler to appeal to a notion of "German" then than it would be now. These days we're much more accustomed to asking what our national identities actually "mean". Even Americans find it hard to articulate what an "American" is, although some, like the Germans before them, find it expressible in terms of militarism. (However, one shouldn't forget that the symbols of "Germanism" were much more broadly shared than those of "Americanism". Worshipping the flag is not enough in this context because the symbols of Nazi Germany represented a reality that people felt, and were not self-referential in the way that the Stars and Stripes is.) Some of the means that the corporatists use today match those of the fascists, which is why commentators wonder about the drift towards fascism, but they use them because they work, and work in any context, not because they belong inherently to one or other political programme. If I want you to work to enrich me, and it's more to my benefit than yours that you do, it's plain common sense for me to try to control or influence the media that help form your opinions, so that you come to believe that your best interest is to pursue my ends. I don't have to be a fascist to do it. But I'm your enemy, for the same reason in this instance that the fascists were.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Crisp crash

I can't help feeling a little sadness at hearing that Golden Wonder has collapsed.

Connoisseurs of crap food will know that not only were Golden Wonder pioneers in the modern crisp, but they invented the queen of stodgy snacks, Pot Noodle.

You know, when I snivel and moan about how you just can't get what you like here in Australia, near the top of my list is the slag of all snacks. The cup noodles that you can buy are just not synthetic enough. Those of us raised on white bread, Smarties and chips have been spoiled forever for proper food. If it doesn't have enough E-numbers to equip a school chemistry lab, the jaded palette of the proletariat, of which I am a scion, does not respond.

Sigh. And things are much worse even than that. Did you know they canned the Wispa? I'm not kidding. The best chocolate bar ever, discontinued. Is it not a modern tragedy? These people instil a love of their products in us. They make us "brand loyal". And then, without a thought for our feelings, they take away the brands we love.

Friday, January 06, 2006

On Wikipedia

Wikipedia is about commitment, not consensus, despite its prospectus, which is a pity, because I believe that consensus is a tremendous guiding principle, but sticking power makes a lousy one. An editor can write the truth but if they do not stay to defend that truth, sometimes at their peril in the community, it can be removed or defaced by another.

If a group of editors work together to display that commitment, they can influence the content of any given article so that it remains incorrect in perpetuity. They simply need to be motivated to do so.

These groups already exist. Unfortunately, they are populated with editors with no sense of their own ridiculousness, who will pompously demand "reputable sources" and use for their sources partisans who did not see what they report and have no more credibility than anyone else would or groups that are unabashedly POV, and who will argue one thing on one page and another on another, so long as what they argue in each place fits their POV. Because the editors involved have an agenda, they do not care that they are inconsistent or use double standards. They only care that their POV predominates. (Yes, I assume good faith. I assume that their motivations are not dishonest but that they feel they are defending a POV that requires it, just as many of us do our own POVs. Above all, I assume Hanlon's Razor applies and they are too stupid to realise how openly they have displayed their hypocrisy.) Anyone who works on articles on the Middle East, on Christianity-related subjects, on political figures who have been in any way controversial, or indeed on any subject that invokes factions will know that this is true. Some articles seesaw between POVs, some have a queasy balance (and are usually utterly unreadable because of it) but in others, a POV is overrepresented, so that its presentation is far from neutral.

Wikipedia is not a particularly important work in the world, whatever some of its more pompous and self-important users like to think. If it were, companies would hire people to manipulate its articles and political groupings would do the same. It's clearly possible, as I've described, but it does not happen. The rules will need to be changed when Stormfront realise how few Nazis it would take to rewrite articles and solidify the rewrite (of course, Stormfront are dumb enough to try to rewrite Jew and not more minor articles that are less easy to rally support for).

Of course, Wikipedia has many other problems, which most of the establishment sort of hopes will just go away. It tends to ignore the real issues and focuses on minor bullshit such as trolls and vandals, which are simply day-to-day annoyances rather than lasting deficiencies, and attract far too much attention.

I believe it could have been great though. I think Jimmy Wales's vision was great but I feel sad that even he doesn't believe in it enough. He would have done better to stand aside than to be the rather muddleheaded tyrant that he has become, tediously directing policy whenever someone looks like suing him and empowering a group of mostly conservative powertrippers, who wouldn't recognise a consensus if they tripped over one.


One of the bigger clashes on Wikipedia, bigger even than that between those who think that it should be fundamentally true and fundamentally neutral and those who simply do not, is that between the inclusionists and the deletionists. The former want a broad encyclopaedia of everything. They are true encyclopaedists, who believe that all the world is worthy of note. The latter want to restrict the encyclopaedia and spend a lot of their time trying to prune it of what they consider to be trivialities. (I am not talking about pages that say "YOU EAT COKKKK OMG!!!!" but ones on minor bands, episodes of the Simpsons and other bullshit that is of interest only to few.) Not one of these creatures has ever successfully explained why an encyclopaedia is harmed by having broad coverage. They don't, after all, seem to mind lack of comprehensiveness and cohesion, both of which Wikipedia suffers from. Nor do they care much that their bars to entry are entirely arbitrary, largely consisting of nothing more than their own (often very limited) knowledge. What harm it does to cover the byways of human existence, I don't know, but I've long given up trying to discuss it with the nerdy stayathomes who spend their evenings destroying other people's little projects.

Those who want to make a slightly bigger, slightly worse Britannica will probably win in the end because Wikipedia will always be a magnet for those who have a greater sense of their own importance than is strictly merited, and those guys just will never get the idea that an encyclopaedia need not be particularly restrictive to be good, because it would deflate that sense. Quality, which they struggle to define but we all know what is meant by it, after all, since we are largely white, middle-class geeks or quasi-geeks, makes them feel big; contributors to something special. They just don't see the specialness in a Borgesian library of bollocks, whose corridors a person can lose themselves in. I realised what limited minds I was dealing with when they deleted the Frost War article. It was an article about a flame war on some games site or other. None of the geeks could see why it was interesting, or even if not interesting, why it was just a harmless tidbit, a crumb. I enjoyed reading it as a thing in itself, because I've done flamewars and I understand and appreciate the dynamic. But most of Wikipedia's denizens are the kind of guy who would ToS you to your ISP if you singed their butts. One of the leading bureaucrat types, Dave Gerrard, was, I think, the leader of a group of netkkkops on alt.goth (alt.gothic? Can't remember the name, but I remember reading some manifesto by the netkkkop crew -- they didn't even have the good taste not to boast about it).

Of course, that does mean that the dream of a tremendous edifice of learning -- a wild dream to begin with, given the burdens of POV pushing, a bureaucracy that feeds itself (never, surely, part of the wiki concept -- I can't see how it's particularly constructive to spend hours, days and weeks burning witches -- but lots of people enjoy the quasi-legal bullshitting that passes for a dispute process), the wild inaccuracy of much of the encyclopaedia and the outright fuckwittedry that it has to shoulder -- is sacrificed to the smallminded, limited vision of people who are labouring under a rather antiquated notion of what's important (peculiarly, many Wikipedians strive to make it a modernist masterpiece, like Britannica or OED in their realms, rather than understand the great attraction and promise of it as a ''postmodernist'' wonder -- still, I suppose that many are "scientists" and few "artists" and the former are very much stuck in the modernist idiom).

In Brisbane

Naughtyman is sitting on a plastic rider, pushing himself to and fro. The floor he is playing on is concrete. Big kids will knock him over and he'll be hurt, if I let him come here.

Zenita has disappeared. No one is watching out for her. I find her in a cubby house. She will fall down from the climbing frame and she'll be hurt, if I let her come here.

My children are too precious to leave in the care of people who do not care. A person who says "one to seven is what the regulations call for in mixed-age groups" just doesn't understand that "one to seven is what we feel is right for your child" is the right thing to say.

Do I think the other parents don't care for their kids, to dump them in such a place, some of them five days a week? I think they look the other way. I think they're scared to see what is right in front of them.

We do not value the raising of children, yet doing it is building our world.


Next week I am home alone. I do not go to the inlaws'. It's for the best, although I miss visiting Straddie. I take the opportunity to work longer hours instead. I don't really miss the children. A man who says he can't go a couple of days without his kids is probably lying in my view. We are not women and we don't need to feel we have to compete with them for motherliness. Kids need routine and we get sick of it.

But I do feel lonely when I am left alone because I do not have anything else to do but be a family man. It's a product of having twins and having to be supportive. and of course it's a product of just not knowing how to enrich my life. I know, it's pathetic, you don't have to tell me, but it's not that I can't find what would be fulfilling; I can't even think what would be. And family men can't just make friends. There's no avenue to do so in my life. I work from home; I don't go out except to the football.

I need life to reach in to me but it doesn't. Won't. I know it won't. It's just an excuse for sitting inside an ever-thickening shell.


I could join the bushwalking club. I'd enjoy it, but by god, there's a shitload of equipment and buggerising about involved. What I actually need is two or three people who'd like to go for a walk and maybe camp once in a while. And aren't complete fucking arseholes, preferably, but frankly, I'm not that fussy. I want to chuck the stuff in the boot and go, not sign up on a list, coordinate, be led, blah blah.

I could join the humanist society. Mrs Zen met the secretary or the president or someone. They want younger blood. That's not too promising.

Maybe animal rights. I don't want to stand on street corners though. Fuck that. I want to release rabbits. And I can't do anything illegal until I'm a citizen. Being deported would put a crimp in my family life.

Leftist politics is for arseholes. Sorry, it is. I don't fit in any of the pigeonholes anyway. I'm an anarchist in theory but anarchists are no fun, and let's face it, you have more chance of Jesus coming back and telling us all it was a pisstake and God really wants us to do each other up the arse while smoking crack than an anarchy spontaneously forming in Australia. Anarchy demands enormous goodwill of people, and while I have faith in their capability to be good, I worry that they're all Augustinians, planning on not being venal fuckheads later rather than sooner. Socialism is, I'm afraid, nonsense. I don't want the workers to run the place. They're mostly fucking idiots. I believe in empowerment of the people but not all of a sudden. That's not to say leftist solutions haven't made the world a better place, just that until the proletariat are better educated, more sensitive and less inclined to hate anything that doesn't come in pink skin, they're better off being governed than governing. Stop the War is out of the question. I'm against the war, shrilly so, and I don't like Israeli expansionism either, but there's no way I'm marching alongside the kind of tosser I'd punch in the face in another context. It's gone way beyond strange bedfellows, because more and more it seems the well-meaning leftists have adopted the slogans and hatred of those same cosleepers. And look, Muslims might be justified in hating the very existence of Israel, and ethnic states might be an ugly expression of racism, but it does exist and the upset at the oppression of the ummah doesn't actually apply to Western college boys who would quite likely be first against the wall if the caliphate came to their town, and no one complains about Japan, do they? so we have to work with what it is, not what it would ideally have been. On that note, Western commentators really didn't understand what Ahmedinazhad was trying to express. Forget the Holocaust denial bollocks. That's obviously demented anti-Semitic nonsense. But the stuff about why don't the Jews have a homeland in Germany really speaks to the ummah, and not realising that is a mistake. Because the problem with Israel is that from the Muslim point of view, a European colony was smacked down in the middle of their lands. Yes, there was a Jewish presence there, but for most of the Islamic period, and before that right back to the Romans, until Zionists started a movement to populate it, it was rather limited. To the Muslims, the Jewish claim on Israel seemed rather tenuous, perhaps analogous to Portugal's claim to India. They had come and they had mostly gone. I'm not expressing an opinion on the rights or wrongs of it, just noting that that is how they see it. Britain more or less imposed Israel on the Arabs. We did a lot of that kind of thing. We invented Iraq, which was a bad idea given its complete lack of actually being a nation, and empowered the Sauds and several other chosen Arab families. Should the Jewish homeland have been a piece of the United States, or Russia, or a province of Germany? Well, maybe, but it isn't. Should it be a multiethnic state (the "one-state" solution)? Well, maybe, but you can certainly understand why Jews are mostly not keen on it. There aren't a profusion of happy, multiethnic, Arab-majority, democratic states in the region. The problem is, of course, just as with anarchy, people talk in ideals but we have a world that refuses resolutely to be ideal.

Anyway, I like Jews, even if they did invent Gahd/Allah. I'm fucked if I'm going to march up and down saying I don't.


I'm interested in people. Profoundly interested in them. I like to know about them, what they do, what they know or think they know, what moves them. I could listen for hours to people talking about themselves. I am so not interesting myself though that I don't like talking about myself. Small talk involves almost nothing but talking about yourself and asking about others. If I could only make it clear that I don't want to talk about my job, my car, my house, my kids and actually, I don't want to know about theirs either. But people insist. They ask what I do for a living. I answer and then it's how's your kids, blah blah, and before you know it, I've spent another ten minutes of my life not knowing someone. Because all that stuff is what you wear as your coat, not who you are. Okay, maybe it's a bit much to expect people I've just met to share their secrets, but...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Murray mince

"We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use." - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005

"From: Michael Wood, Legal Advisor

Date: 13 March 2003

CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield


1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."

3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.


M C Wood
Legal Adviser"


OF 220939 JULY 04




1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state."

This is not what my England is. I refuse to allow it. It makes me want to cry that this is what they are making of us. I want the guys languishing in Uzbek jails to know, I don't support what they're doing to you. I didn't vote for this. I don't want it.

Craig Murray was not knighted for his human decency, his spirit, his dedication to the truth -- English values, so we're told; you know, those things we are defending from the nasties -- he was sacked.

Tagging it

Why not just tag everyone and have done with it? Lock us all into our homes and electrocute anyone who goes out after dark. After all, we've probably done something wrong. New Labour have made just about everything fun illegal, except boozing, which they thoroughly approve of.

Tapping into it

Is it true that a two-minute phone call to or from someone who you did not get a warrant from the FISA court to wiretap (and so cannot be strongly suspected of terrorist involvement; otherwise, where would the problem be in acquiring a warrant?) could mean the deaths of thousands, or is the President of the United States a liar as well as an idiot?

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Did you ever think, no, I take it all back, I want to be a bank robber?


I don't make new year's resolutions. I find the whole thing depressing, and I don't need any more of that. But I could do with resolution.

I am not just spinning my back wheels in the mire. I'm drowning.

Have you ever been so angry for so long that there came a point when you forgot what made you angry and were left with anger that sustained itself on thin air? Why would you need a resolution to end that?


I got a speeding ticket the other day. I was struck by how arbitrary others' impinging on our lives can be.

I never speed. A k or two over the limit going down a hill, that's the most. Everywhere I go, dickheads powering past me in their penis extensions. I constantly have someone attached to my arse end because I stick to the limit.

So I'm rolling along Mt Gravatt-Capalaba and I've been driving on the freeway. Not something I've done much. So I look at the speedo and it says 55-56. All cool.

But shit, it's 76, and I'm on the brake. I didn't even feel I was going fast. As soon as I realised, I slowed back down to 60.

But the copper already had me gunned.

Why were you doing 76? he asked me.

Because I am very unlucky.

It is a good thing I do not believe in justice any more.


I have no joy. I am always seeking someone, something to blame. But it's true that life gets in the way of joy.

I feel I am right but it doesn't matter. It's a bad thing to realise that rightness matters a lot less than having what you need.

Give me a break. I'm a slow learner and I'm willing to reach out, even if I don't give the appearance.

But I don't know how to drive and I have no faith you do either. Can we agree on that and move on? We could just touch one another without feeling we have to be solutions.

I don't know a single fucking person who doesn't want to show me how to solve my life or how I solve theirs. If I'm the solution, you really are in the shit. I'm just faking it. I'm not cool or clever. I'm scared of you and I want you to be nice to me to make me feel safe.


You know, I was thinking, shouldn't I be blogging about my shoes like other people, or about politics or books?

I bought a pair of plastic sandals the other day. It's too hot to wear anything else. I mostly go barefoot.

Politics is dull. I'm for the people and the rest follows from there. Australian politics is for arseholes, period.

I read nonfiction almost exclusively these days and absolutely nothing has much inspired me.

I have no daily life. I have no interesting things to share.


I listen to my iPod on shuffle. I am listening to it now. Vapour trail is playing. It sounds like the open road but I've lost my keys. I know I could do anything I set my mind to, but it's my mind I lost, so much lost that I can't even believe I ever had one.