A morning passing
I am listening to Talk Talk, one of the later albums. I am thinking that it is incredible how they changed, that they walked through the door as a generic eighties pop band and walked back out as something deeper, richer, a soulful, ambient-tinged, jazzy monster. (Japan did the same, passing from slightly pretentious eighties pop to creators of ambient still lifes.) I am reading someone's blog (a sure sign that I'm bored and unmotivated for work today), astonishing myself with the depth of that person's vanity (so vain that they have convinced themselves that they are without vanity -- a feat even I, a slave to amour-propre, cannot quite manage). Most, if not all, who make a claim to selflessness will in time show themselves to be the souls of selfism. "I'm there for you" often translates into "I'm here for me", so much so that when I hear it or read it I am on my guard. Even banks and corporations say it: "We're here for you." I laugh at that. As if. "We're trying to make things better." No. You're trying to make more money. Still, the world would be unbearable if we were all honest 24/7. I want more of it but not all the time; it would wear us out. Little dishonesties oil the wheels.
An odd thing happened when I played Diplomacy
a lot. I became suspicious and paranoid of people's motives. In Diplomacy, one tries to have get others to make a move to suit oneself by convincing the others that they will benefit from the move. I am a reasonable player, nothing special but not a novice. But I found that if I played it a lot, put a lot of energy into it, I started to think that everyone who emailed me was lying to me. Even now I'm strongly suspicious of others' motives. I try to see how they are manipulating me, what they are aiming at. Maybe I always was.
Anyway, I gave it up. Partly because I didn't enjoy feeling suspicious of everyone and everybody, and partly because I found the people who played it boring. They came in easily discerned types (although not all my opponents could quickly discern which was which) and reading someone's trying to deceive you in a dull way grows old very quickly. And, I have to say, to my shame, I only enjoyed winning. I didn't enjoy having to dig myself out of a pit. Mostly because people would play against their own interests because they were not willing to be flexible, and I could see the outcome many turns before the end. Feeling that you are going to spin out a game robotically isn't fun.
I am listening to the Orb's best of record. I don't listen to it too often. It's one of many records I have that are quite good
. I can't imagine anything worse to be than quite good. If I do a thing, I want to be useless (as I am at painting and football, both of which I enjoy a lot) or brilliant. Being quite good nags at me. It says "why aren't you better? why don't you bother trying to become any better?" If you're useless, you can say "because it's too big a hill from here" (there is also the truth that I do not think I could
become good at painting). My fear with poker is that I will become quite good. I am already better than useless (although not much better) and cannot go backward to just enjoying it. With writing, my problem is more that I fear others will think I am quite good. They would be wrong but that fear still does exist. It makes me not want to submit things that I feel are not as good as I could do. Because I think I could do brilliant, I feel that just quite good is not good enough. It's easy to see that I am going to struggle to find anything I can submit; because I can
improve, I will always feel that what I've done is not the best I could do. It's also in the nature of the writer that you feel that the next thing
will be better. New ideas will appeal more than the old, just because they are fresher.
Why would I feel this? I think it is because I am a natural-born winner. I don't want to be second. When I was a kid, I was top of my class. Or second. Or thereabouts. In most subjects, I excelled. I didn't mind that there were some that I didn't do well in (except that they dragged down my overall score). Had I been more ordinary in that particular aspect, I daresay I would have found it easier to be just good. I like to win though. I don't understand playing for fun, not trying. For me, the fun in a game lies partly in trying to win, competition. If you want to spoil a contest with me, tell me you are just having fun, not trying to win. Nothing turns me off faster.
Looking at us
A problem we have relating to one another is that we tend to look at one another through the lens of ourselves. By that, I mean we assume that because we are similar, we are the same; that if we do a particular thing, our motivation to do it must be the same; that if we say we feel something, it must feel the same.
We do not well understand that we can be different. An extreme of this inability to put ourselves in others' shoes comes when we look at the truly bad. We try to imagine how we could kill, how we could torture, and of course we cannot picture it at all. So we invent possession by "evil", as though there was an elementary force that could enter and twist another until they could do what we cannot.
Sometimes that force, that impulse, is not "evil". We believe it is religion, or colour, or culture that makes a person do or be what we cannot. Those things do go to make us what we are but I think that we do not understand that were we religionists, or that colour, or brought up in that culture, we might not do the same things, feel the same way. After all, people are not homogenous, even when they seem the same to us. One is cruel; the other kind. One is generous; the other mean. Of course, these things mould the material we are composed of. I believe we are born relatively formless and become what we are. But that does not mean that the same circumstances make us the same.
I am a magnet for self-absorbed, vulnerable people. Who presumably see me as a kindred soul. And then get to know me and astonish themselves that I don't become equally as absorbed in them. They think my blog is for them and complain when it is about things they are not interested in (but it's for me, always has been and always will be); they think I should pretend to care about the shit they care about when the virtue that attracted them in the first place was lack of pretence; they think I should be able to discern their mood just because in their view they have written to me with more anguish than usual, or worse, they berate me for being self-absorbed and vulnerable when they want me to be something else. And they forget, when they are telling me what a shit I am for not caring about whatever it is they think I should care about, the times I have borne their whining, the hours I have spent talking to them when I didn't want to, when I was busy or preoccupied, how kind I have been to them when they needed someone to be kind, and worst of all, they forget that, self-absorbed as it might be, I have my own thoughts about how things should be, how life is.
They are, of course, all women. Men know that other men don't change just because we wish they would. Men do not waste time trying to reform one another. We know there's rarely any point. It's why we invented wars to fix our problems with each other. Personally, I don't like conflict but I like protracted emotional drama even less. If I didn't care about it yesterday, I probably still won't today, and the more worn out I feel by it, the less likely I am ever to feel differently. Because, you know, we don't change. Only your feelings towards us do. And they're your problem.
Flogging the nukes
I'm probably not alone in feeling that MPs should be regularly whipped
, preferably with a cat o'nine tails, but sadly, in parliamentary terms, it simply means that Labour MPs will be forced to vote to keep Britain nuclear.
Which is a great message to send to Iran. We, the "democratic" people who insist that you, the autocratic bad boys, should increase freedom and not develop nuclear weapons, are not allowing our elected representatives freedom to decide the question of, erm, developing nuclear weapons.
Assignment number two
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a story whose action covers no more than five minutes. That doesn't mean that the story need only take five minutes to read. But it does mean that the action within it cannot cover a span of more than five minutes. All the action.
That means that you cannot flash back (unless what you flash back to does not take you over the five minutes); you cannot say "when he was a child" (he was a child for more than five minutes) or "last week" (beginning to get the point?). The entire temporal span of the story must be five minutes, maximum.
Apart from that, the only rule is that you must be creative and original. Try stepping outside your usual idiom. I'm awarding praise for those who try to fly, crash and burn, and brickbats for those who play it safe.
There's no closing date, so don't feel you have to rush. I'll still be here this time next year.
On burning art
As Mrs Zen was flicking around the channels last night, she lit on a biography of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, which focused on his art collecting. Lloyd-Webber has a large collection of pre-Raphaelite art, most of it awful from what I could see.
It got me to thinking. First of all about the shame it is that our shared heritage can be bought by rich men and sequestered. (To do Lloyd-Webber credit, he was willing to share his collection with museums and galleries; but that didn't quite dispel the idea that he was like a small boy with his Dinky toys, so eager was he to acquire fiendishly glum paintings). Second, I was led to think about the recent world-record purchase of a Jackson Pollock
. No one else is going to say it, so I will. Jackson Pollock is shit. Modern art is shit. A guy throwing paint on a canvas is not an artist. Don't kid yourself he is. Art -- I mean the art world, not the thing itself -- is all about taste, what sells, what bollocks can be passed off as profundity. I'm not a revisionist. Don't get me wrong. I like progress, change, the modern, as much as the next person. But Pollock was a con artist. His paintings didn't express anything except his desire to be famous, rich and loved. They are like a secret no one wants to tell, the emperor's new paintings.
Anyway, that led me to thinking, if you bought that Pollock, or some other painting, and for whatever reason, burned it, would that be a crime against humanity? (My thoughts are coloured by the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, a senseless ruination of a work of art that could be said to belong to all of us.) Is destroying a piece of our shared cultural heritage a crime? If it is, is simply buying it also one? Is having something to yourself that should belong to all of us wrong?
Is that even a sensible way to think about art? Or anything? Is art produced for all of humanity, or only for whoever pays for it? I struggle with this question, because the notion of writing for pay devalues the writing for me (I can only think of writing for pay as hack work, and cannot think that I could be an artist if, say, someone offered me money to write about China). Yet I consider Vanity Fair a work of art, don't I? And Michelangelo worked for pay across his career. He wouldn't have bothered picking up a brush if he didn't get paid for it.
So is there a point at which I can believe that something paid for can cease to belong to the person who paid for it (or the person who paid them for it afterwards) and started to belong to us all?
Maybe I should conclude that first of all, pay only devalues art for me. It's something I feel. (Not that I feel it would be devalued ex post facto by being paid for! Only that if I did it with that end in mind it would be devalued. I have struggled recently with writing because I am conflicted between the need to write what I want to write -- currently nothing much, as it happens, and nothing much for some years -- and the need to be "publishable". I find it hard to convince myself that I would actually be publishable if I just wrote what I can. So I have ended up with a novel that I do not actually like because I felt I should compromise (I don't not like it because I compromised but because the outcome was no good) and now I feel I cannot achieve either end -- which is a fucking crap place to be at *mumbles*.) And second I conclude that considering art to be a "shared heritage" is just wankery. Culture is emergent, not something that you can box up and say "this is us". It accretes, and pieces fall away. If you burn a Pollock, nothing is lost, because culture is too amorphous for it to be much affected by losing one tiny part or another (only our habit of looking back at past cultures and summarising them in a way that overneatens the sprawl of human life leads you to think that it is); it will, after all, just be what it is minus the Pollock, plus the memory of it (just as it is now, with pieces sequestered and unseen for years).
Shopping for work
So someone emailed me and asked whether my writing workshop was still open. No, it wasn't one of the people who had promised to give it a go but didn't submit anything (or weren't game to give it a go, shame on you; I don't BITE), nor was it the writer whose piece I still haven't reviewed. It was someone new to me.
I suppose it is still open but I was thinking, maybe I could set a new assignment and anyone interested could have a go at that? Those who had a go at the last one would be welcome to have another crack, and perhaps some of those who were reticent last time could try this one? Anyone interested? Comment or email me if you like the idea. If I get a couple of interested bodies, we'll do it.
Geek booty call
I hates computers. They're written in a foreign language that you have to be weird in the head to understand.
So anyway my laptop has an AC adaptor that went up in smoke. Literally. I need to replace it but the part I need is not available in Brisbane. It doesn't seem to be made by the firm that made it any more.
Computer geeks, I need you. What I want to know is, can I use a different adaptor? The one I had is a 60W, 3.16A one. Can I use a 65W one? Will my laptop explode? Will the adaptor explode? Will I explode? Can I use a less powerful one?
Comment on comments
I'm a polite person. No, really. I have good manners, say thank you when I receive something, please when I want something. I'm about the only person in Brisbane who says excuse me when I want to pass, or sorry when I knock into someone in the street. I generally show the courtesy of acknowledging commenters on my blog in some way if they seem to need or want acknowledgement, and reply to posts directed at me online. So I should say that I haven't purposely wiped out previous comments on my blog to slight the commenters. It's just that I've switched to blogger's comments, so the haloscan ones have vanished into the aether. Well, they still exist but I'm not displaying them. I've ignored haloscan's minuses for a while (when I first adopted it, blogger's comments were much inferior) but when it has a server outage, it makes my blog agony to load. At least if blogger's comments are down, everything will be down. So if you feel underacknowleged, my apologies. Feel free to call me a cunt afresh though. Don't let that lovely vitriol be wasted.
Splitting the atom
When I was younger, I worked for Pugwash Conferences (so I am a Nobel prizewinner, as it happens). I worked on a research project into nuclear weapons policy. The research group that I reported to concluded that the UK should not immediately and unilaterally disarm (because it should not surrender its leverage in getting others to disarm), which upset me because I had made a strong case for immediate relinquishment of the deterrent.
There were two arguments for having a nuclear weapon. The first is that it deters nuclear attack on the UK by others. This argument was tenable in the Cold War (by tenable, I mean you could argue it, not that it was correct) but is clearly ridiculous now. No one who is in any way likely to attack the UK is going to be deterred by nuclear weapons. Quite the opposite: they would likely welcome our attacking a Muslim city with a nuclear weapon.
The second is that it endows us with prestige, a place at the top table. There is something in this, of course. It's no accident that the five permanent members of the Security Council are the five core nuclear powers. It's a horrible message though to send out to the world: if you want to count, you must have nukes. That message is clearly understood by nations such as India, and equally clearly by North Korea and Iran.
The UK will shortly decide to renew its nuclear deterrent. It's inevitable that it will, although there will be a debate of sorts
Because relinquishing our nukes would be a moral choice and politicians don't know what morality is, unless they are pandering to repressive arseholes who don't want anyone to have fun.
No one who had the fibre to say that using a nuclear weapon would be wrong under any circumstances, a crime against humanity of enormous proportions, and consequently the UK does not want them is going to be a low enough arsekissing, backstabbing crawler to get elected. But that is what I say. I do not ever want a nuclear weapon used in my name. I abhor them and I abhor those who would even consider using them. And if your standing in the world relies on your ability to murder a million at a stroke, well, you have no standing.
The roots of terror
is not a good analysis. Israel is part of the problem but claiming it is
the problem is wrong. It's at best profoundly uninformed to suggest it is; at worst, well, we know what the worst you can say about this is. (I have little tolerance for Likudists who claim that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic but if you're going to fuel the fire by suggesting that Israel is responsible for every ill in the Arab world, and that if we can only get those nasty Jews to be nice, the Arabs would all be angels, well, you're giving them rope to hang you with.)
Of course, Preston is not quite saying that. He's a bad writer and a loose thinker rather than a complete idiot. At least one hopes so, although ""None of this can be tackled by my service alone," says Dame Eliza. Others "must tackle the causes". And - coded or not - we damn well know where those causes lie." seems quite unambiguous (the only out I can find for Preston is that he means to say that we know damned well where Dame Eliza thinks those causes lie, not where they actually do lie).
Naturally, the injustice of Palestine does feed Muslim anger, but the terrorists have plenty of other stuff they are angry about. The movement, if we can call it that, that they are part of is an offshoot of a push in the Muslim world for renewal. Qutb was as much concerned with the degradation of Islam as he was with Western influence (the two go hand in hand in the Qutbista worldview, and I think it's reasonable to consider that they do). AQ is a reaction to modernity more than it is to Israel. Qutb fought his fellow Muslims first and foremost, not the Jews. And AQ, quite consistently, sees Israel as a tool of Western interests, a Western, mostly secular colony in the midst of the Muslim world (after all, Israel is not a religious
state even if Jews have their own peculiar religion).
I think the roots of terror are clear enough: the asymmetry of power and influence between the secular, modern West and the Muslim world, reflected somewhat in the poverty of most Muslims (where there is wealth, it is sequestered in few hands, a situation that is -- with some reason -- blamed on the West). Israel is seen as a facet of this asymmetry: it is supported by the West and funded by it, and has a populace that thrives where its neighbours do not. Arabs are, I think, more readily analysed as jealous
of Israel's wealth and progress than they are as hating it.
The reform movement in Islam was born out of a recognition that the Muslim world had fallen behind. Two viewpoints clashed: that of reformers, who believed that to catch up, the Muslim world would need to modernise, taking up and Islamicising some Western concepts; and that of revisionists, who believed that the Muslim world had fallen behind because it had surrendered some of its values, and to regain its equity with the West would need to return to its roots. It's quite clear that these worldviews are incompatible, although both see the re-creation of the Muslim Golden Age as a viable goal.
Is the route to ending terror therefore also clear? I think it is. If the Muslim world thrived and the reformers "won", the grassroots support for AQ would dwindle to the point that it could not sustain itself. If young men did not see unbearable injustice, they would not want to bomb the world into oblivion. I don't doubt that a solution to the Palestinian question is part of that route (although it should be clear that the economic stability and prosperity of the Palestinians are important pieces in the puzzle) but equally important, in my view, would be to cease supporting the blocks to Muslim advancement such as the Sauds and Mubarak, and to start working to improve conditions in the Muslim world. Terror is an outcome one way or the other of inequity; the resolution of one will depend on the resolution of the other.
Simon Jenkins has written a brilliant analysis of where we are in Iraq.
This seems very much to be the truth of it. We cannot "win" because we are not even in the game. We are just there to be shot at. Our leaders are stalling as they try to work out a way to say "fuck it" that sounds like a victory speech.
Iraqis are going to die. Lots of them. They are going to die whether we stay, go or anything in between. This should be a cause of enormous sorrow to us (although, of course, it doesn't disturb most Americans, who only care about their own dead). As Jenkins says, the suggestion that Iraq will descend into civil war if we leave simply ignores that there are no sides to have a civil war, no government and insurgents, no army and guerrillas, just a morass of competing interests. Of which we are just one more, and our men and women are dying for what? Just to be a piece in a game that we cannot "win", that we have no comprehensible goal in, that we never had a chance to win.
It is no consolation to me that I said that Iraq would be a quagmire, while the troops were speeding through the desert and the rightists were crowing about the easy victory. No consolation that I knew the inky-finger election was a sham and that the puppet administration had no support and no mandate and, it should have been obvious to all, no writ beyond its own assembly building. Above all else, being right is no consolation when those who are wrong continue to do the wrong thing, over and over.
The least we can do is get out. Now. We can stop killing and being killed. We aren't doing anything else. We have to swallow our pride and say we failed. In time Iraq will sort itself out. It's not going to be pretty, but it's not a picture now with us trying to run the place. It never was going to be. Iraq is a fake country, a map fiction, not a reality, and never will be anything else. Saddam was able to force that fiction into a quasi-reality (just as Tito did in Yugoslavia and the Soviets did with their union). But we are not Saddam. We are not ruthless or strong. We are just another piece in a game we cannot win. It's time to pack up and go home and let the other players finish Iraq as they see fit.
If there is a more evil tenet in economics than that greed should be allowed to govern the course of human relations, I don't know of one.
The man who most strongly espoused ithas died
Freedom is of course a wonderful thing. But those who advocate its increase conveniently ignore a truth about it: the more money you have, the more freedom you have. Increasing choice sounds great, but when you need to pay for that choice, increase means decrease for those without means. It's curiously Orwellian.
In a Rawlsian world, or one in which there were not the huge imbalances in personal worth that our world not only tolerates but encourages, perhaps allowing the markets to make our choices and restricting governments simply to manipulating the means of exchange would be good ideas. But in this one, they simply lead to richer rich people and poorer poor. The market does not put a price on sharing, nor on many intangibles that matter to us, nor, importantly, on anything that is not traded here and now, such as our future.
In the news
I wonder how those who defended OJ Simpson feel about his acquittal. They were just doing their job, I know, and of course it's right that everyone should get good representation, but you have to wonder how they feel about his new book about how he did it
It's a monument to how sordid our age is, I suppose, that the boasting of a man who escaped natural justice because of the workings of justice should be sold as an entertainment.
Simpson is an interesting specimen. He must be consumed with guilt to have such a need to confess. When approached with the idea for this book (I'm guessing it wasn't his idea), did he, I wonder, think of the families of his victims? Did he think that this would be another route to continuing fame, chatshows, his face in the paper?
One of the problems I have with writing fiction is that I just do not have the experience to invent stories that I feel are fascinating enough to capture the reader. Look at what I have to compete with! It would make a tremendous novel, wouldn't it?
Watching the US election coverage the other day, I was horrified to hear it suggested that the Dems would bring about a change in strategy in Iraq: send in more troops to "win" it. Surely not, I was thinking, there can't be anyone dumb enough still to think the war is "winnable".
But of course there is
This is the point at which the Dems have to say no. This is not the time to be cowed into believing that "bipartisanship" will garner the middle-ground votes they need to win in 2008. Fuck that. Say no, no more troops have to go and die, we want the ones there brought home and now. At least they need to say they oppose the input of further resources without a timetable for withdrawal.
Some decisions seem to me almost too hard for a person to make. If you have a 21-week-old baby and it stops breathing (as they often do, if they have even begun), should you allow it to die or have it resuscitated? Currently, hospitals more or less always try to resuscitate them but new guidance suggests
that they stop doing it.
Of course, some have taken umbrage at this suggestion. But they are not thinking, just reacting. The babies in question will suffer distress and pain if resuscitated, and will, in all but the rarest case, die anyway.
The new guidance goes on to suggest that babies at 22 and 23 weeks should not usually receive intensive care unless its parents request it and doctors agree.
I cannot imagine being in that position. It seems to me the extreme of heartbreak: to have begun to love a child in the womb, to have anticipated its birth, to have planned for it, to have started to care for it, and then to have to decide to let it go.
Letting go is not easy. As a society, we do not let go of life lightly. Very few Western nations permit people who are suffering to be helped to die, and many of us do not want support the extinction of foetuses, which are arguably alive and arguably not. I am strongly pro-choice but when in that spot myself, I found it disturbing
Yet when confronted with a doomed life, that of my stepgrandfather, a man I loved as much as I would have if he were my blood relative, if given the choice I would have killed him myself.
Sing when you win
I do win the odd hand at poker though and you can learn from winning, as in this hand.
Texas Hold'em $0.25-$0.50 (real money), hand #1,257,016,926
Table Novosibirsk, 14 Nov 2006 1:07 PM ET
Seat 9: Dr Zen [ 6S,6D ] ($32.40 in chips)
Dr Zen calls $0.25
I was second to act, so this is a bit of a stretch. But the table is loose and even if it's raised, I'll probably have a crowd to the flop.
Clueless bets $0.50
Oh dear. This has happened a few times. This guy (same one that had AK in the other hand) seems to get hands exactly when I do (those at the back who think he's isoraising me, think again -- this guy doesn't have enough clue to do that).
LAGtard calls $0.50
He clearly has fuck all. If he had anything resembling a hand, he'd threebet. It's an affront to these guys' dignity to have to coldcall or limp.
Mr Aggro calls $0.35
The range of hands Mr Aggro can have is enormous. All I know for sure is that whatever he does have, he should have folded, because he'd be raising anything even vaguely playable.
Dr Zen calls $0.25
I call one back, as you do. I'm a bit unhappy to have to play for two bets but that's what happens when you limp shitty hands in EP.
FLOP [board cards 3C,3S,4H ]
Sweet! I have an overpair. Everyone else has probably missed. With the clueless guy and two LAGtards, I'm sure to get a bet from someone so I can C/R this and PUMP THE POT! With luck, I'll get a couple of folds too and my sixes will have a shot at holding up.
Mr Aggro checks, Dr Zen checks, Clueless checks
Too passive postflop to bet his OCs. It's wise anyway with this crowd because he can guarantee callers and probably too much action for his six-outer.
LAGtard bets $0.25
Right on cue.
Mr Aggro calls $0.25
He must have worse than nothing not to raise. I'm not kidding. This guy spewed money the whole session, betting and raising with hopeless hands.
Dr Zen bets $0.50
Take that, you fuckers! Unfortunately, the wrong guy betted, so I can't really hope for more than one fold. Oh well, fingers crossed.
Clueless folds, LAGtard calls $0.25, Mr Aggro calls $0.25.
TURN [board cards 3C,3S,4H,10S ]
Mr Aggro checks, Dr Zen bets $0.50, LAGtard folds
It's a mystery what he had. Probably OCs but nothing special: Q9? K7? Something like that, which would seem worth peeling on the flop with six outs but not worth calling a bet on the turn with a T showing.
Mr Aggro bets $1
Now, with many players, you'd now be shitting yourself. A turn checkraise usually means disaster, even for a robust hand. It certainly would spell doom for an underpair. But this guy's LAGginess is his undoing. I figure him for the following, in order of likelihood:
1/ He has fuck all but thinks I'll fold because I limped preflop and bet my overpair on the flop. (Only kidding. This is what a decent player might think. Anyone with half a clue is going to put me on exactly what I have. There is nothing else that I would limp PF and then C/R a fairly drawless flop with, this side of a pair of 4s. But he likely has fuck all. That bit is about right.)
2/ He picked up a spade draw and has outs if he can't make me fold.
3/ He has a four and thinks I probably have OCs. I'm a tight player and LAGtards rely on tight players mostly playing values, missing ragged flops.
4/ He has a ten.
5/ He has clicked the wrong button.
Whatever. I'm calling him down. I will beat him often enough that I think I should call but not so often that I think I can valueraise here.
Dr Zen calls $0.50.
RIVER [board cards 3C,3S,4H,10S,8S ]
Mr Aggro checks, Dr Zen checks.
This is a tough spot, I think. Why do I check and not bet for value? Because I think this is one of those hands in which I can't get value. What does he call with? A pair of threes maybe. He might have OCs and think they'll be good but I don't think so. If he has made his flush or has paired his eight, he will raise and I'll be losing two bets.
I'm not sure though. Maybe he calls with just enough beaten hands here. He might even raise with some of them, and I'll make two bets from him when I call it back. But I think I more often lose when I am checkraised here. Possibly I've been playing too much no limit, where you bet for value less (I certainly wouldn't here: I'd just be asking to get raised and have to fold).
Mr Aggro shows [ 9D,QS ]
Dr Zen shows [ 6S,6D ]
Mr Aggro thinks that he can run over micro players. He's going to have days when he can. If he got into a lot of hands with me and the other tight guys at the table, he'd win some small pots. But I'm tough enough not just to fold on that turn. And he'll also try it with the wrong guy and get called down by the fish. Which is what happened to him in this session: he either had his arse kicked by tough players who refused to be pushed off moderate hands or had it nibbled to death by fish who could not be bluffed off their crappy pairs.
And what do you learn from this hand? Well, first of all, you learn that staying cool when you have fucked up (limping 66 from UTG+1) and had a bad outcome (having to pay another bet to see the flop) is a good idea, because even a pair of sixes is a decent hand on the right flop, when played aggressively. Also, you learn that some players have heard the word "aggression" and missed the word "selective" and when you come across them, you have to grow some balls and play them without too much fear. It would be easy to fold the turn, and if Clueless had checkraised me there, I might have folded, but never to this LAGtard. I also gain some thinking matter. Should I have bet the river? Answers on a postcard.
I love Lily
. It's only a fling. I'll be over it soon. But I love her now. She's like Miss Dynamite with a sense of humour. And tunes.
It makes my heart ache. No one writes songs like this about Brisbane. Even the Go-Betweens' great place songs are about Cairns, Sydney and London. What would you write about the place? "It's shit and everyone here is a cunt; they could enjoy the sunshine, but they mostly don't".
Brisbaneites wouldn't get it anyway. The faux-sixties touches, the cod reggae, the chav chic, the hilarious mockney accent and above all the wonderful English humour that it is breaking my poor heart to be living without would all be lost on them.
Ah well, fuck 'em eh? I love it. They can gurn their ugly faces off to lumpen rock; I'll have sunshine until I'm sick of it.
How to lose money
How poker works:
Texas Hold'em $0.25-$0.50 (real money), hand #1,257,065,106
Table Novosibirsk, 14 Nov 2006 1:37 PM ET
Seat 9: Dr Zen [ QH,AC ] ($31.15 in chips)
Dr Zen bets $0.50, LAGgy guy bets $0.75, fish folds, LAG folds, SLAG folds, LAG folds, Rock folds, Rock folds, Weaktighty folds, Pisspoor TAG calls $0.50, Dr Zen calls $0.25.
FLOP [board cards AS,KC,QS ]
Hooray! I have two pairs. Boo! It's beaten by most of the hands my opponents hold. Let's hope that the LAGgy guy threebet me with a pair of tens.
TAG checks, Dr Zen checks
I am checkraising the motherfucker. Bring it!
LAGgy bets $0.25, TAG folds, Dr Zen bets $0.50, LAGgy guy bets $0.50
He does this with any ace and probably with JJ/TT too. Let's cap it.
Dr Zen bets $0.50, LAGgy calls $0.25.
TURN [board cards AS,KC,QS,2C ]
Okay, at least it wasn't a jack, but obviously I'd like a queen to come. I have the lead so I have to bet.
Dr Zen bets $0.50, LAGgy guy bets $1
FUCK! He has AK/KK. This guy is not aggro enough postflop to try to push me off the hand.
Dr Zen calls $0.50.
I call. I'm sure I'm beaten but there's just enough chance LAGgy guy could have ATs in clubs, AJ or some shit like that.
RIVER [board cards AS,KC,QS,2C,10C ]
Well, I'm now beaten if he has anything that wasn't beating me on the turn.
This has happened to me a lot recently. I raise in EP with a big hand and I run into bigger. I'm winning because my smaller hands are pulling in pots, but the premium cards are dogshit at the moment. I had a pair of aces cracked in this same session (by a guy who posted and called my raise with J5!).
Dr Zen checks
I fold if he bets. Some players bluff here because two draws have come in but it's retarded to do that. Maybe in NL. Never in limit. Nothing he has been betting with folds here for a bet.
LAGgy guy checks.
Thank fuck. At least I'll get to see his cards. I was folding to a bet.
Dr Zen shows [ QH,AC ]
LAGgy guy shows [ KD,AH ]
So the next hand I'm in the big blind.
Texas Hold'em $0.25-$0.50 (real money), hand #1,257,066,633
Table Novosibirsk, 14 Nov 2006 1:38 PM ET
Seat 9: Dr Zen [ AH,5H ] ($28.40 in chips)
Not the best hand but better than average in the BB.
Fish calls $0.25, LAGtard Raisefoldbot bets $0.50, Dr Zen calls $0.25, Fish calls $0.25.
I'm not folding a suited ace to someone I know will raise with pisspoor rubbish. I don't threebet because I want Fishy in the hand if I hit my FD and I'm OOP.
FLOP [board cards 4S,5D,8C ]
Shit. Horrible flop. Still, I have a pair. I'll C/R this guy and see whether he likes it. If he threebets, I'm just about done. But if he doesn't, I'm probably ahead.
Dr Zen checks, Fish checks, LAGtard bets $0.25
Predictably. A raisefold bot is always betting if he's checked to on the button.
Dr Zen bets $0.50
Raaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiise it up! I have middle pair! Monster!
Fish folds, LAGtard calls $0.25.
Hmmmm. He probably has OCs. He's raising if he has something. Let's look at the turn.
TURN [board cards 4S,5D,8C,6H ]
He still has nothing. Let's check to him to make it look like I have nothing too.
Dr Zen checks
LAGtard bets $0.50
He predictably bets. Then I make a mistake.
Dr Zen calls $0.50.
Whoops! Should have raised. Clicked the wrong button, went insane, went weak at the knees. Anyway, I am still ahead, so who knows?
RIVER [board cards 4S,5D,8C,6H,7H ]
Woohoo! The river makes an on-the-board str8.
Hold on though.
You just know he holds a 9. Don't ask me how I know. I just know.
Dr Zen checks, LAGtard bets $0.50, Dr Zen calls $0.50.
I have to call. Sometimes the LAGtard has no 9 and I'm throwing away half the pot those times. Put it this way. I'm betting with air here if I think the other guy can fold so I expect any aggro player to. I don't do it in this hand because I'm OOP.
LAGtard shows [ QS,9S ]
But of course.
Couldn't work out why he couldn't
I am walking up and down, up and down on the spot. Never a step forward. I do not believe any more there is a forward.
I get good advice from friends online. They say, have fun. I haven't had any fun for months, bar the fleeting moments of laughter with my children. I don't even know what would be fun. I doubt I had fun even when I had it. Fun, it seems to me, is another way of saying waste your life, let it pass, try to laugh as the clock winds down. But I can't even do that. I am clueless what would actually be fun. The problem is, you have to do something and then want to repeat it. I do things and never want to go near them again.
They say, try to change things. If I could change things, they'd be changed. I'm ready for it. But what to change and how? I don't know the answer. I'm like the poor soul in Aimee Mann's Ghost world, waiting for someone to tell me what to do. But when you are *mumbles*, you are supposed to know what to do.
I would like to be blogging about things I enjoyed. I am not in the least bit miserable or sad by nature. I just haven't been enjoying anything.
Why are you reading this shit? I mean, what the fuck. I don't even enjoy writing it. I'm only doing it because I can't concentrate on work and it's one of the ways I distract myself, so that eventually, I will lose my clients and destroy my life. I wonder whether that really is my aim: break it down so I have to rebuild it. I love change, renewal, undoing, repicking and restitching, so maybe that is what it is; even though I do fear it. My finances are a bit knife edge. I do not know where I am coming up with money for January, although I expect something to turn up. (What is the most fucked is that I don't have work for December but I have too much tomorrow: one of my sisters is coming from the UK and Mrs Zen is going away for a few days, so I have to take time off, but can't.) I feel that it's slipping away a bit; that I have been fucking about just a bit too much and I'm going to pay a heavy price. But separating feelings of foreboding that are just the baseless growlings of the black dog from those that are merited sniffings of what's in the wind is not always easy; I would hate to dismiss my concerns and then find myself out of work because I didn't pay them enough mind.
I feel like I am a complaint in search of something to complain about. I could try harder to get by, just for now. I am scared though by time passing. I feel like I have a life that could be fixed, that could be joyous, and I fear that it will run out before I make that happen. I will have been capable of anything and able to do nothing. (Well, that sounds good but I am not at all capable of the things I actually want to do: I will never, for instance, be any good at poker; I'm just not "getting" it the way some others do -- or, I should say, and it's a curious thing, I get it but can't do it and can't work out why I can't. That will be my fucking epitaph! And I cannot write, not even an article, not even a publishable short story. I get it -- I am confident I get it thoroughly -- but I can't do it. This is not the old if you can't do it, be a critic thing. It would be a lot easier if it were.)
I need a friend. I need someone who will not think that telling me that if I just took some drugs I would be okay helps. I need someone who does not think my life is like theirs, because it isn't: it's mine and it feels the way I feel, not the way they feel. I need someone who likes being with me enough for me not to want anything from me but just to be me. I need to feel there is a forward, somewhere to put my foot down that is taking me anywhere but here, anywhere but here and now, where I am a shell that cannot believe it ever held a man.
Whatever happened to Dr Zen?
I often wonder what happened to Glen Wall. He just disappeared. Which is a bit odd, because people usually like to flounce.
I gave him a quick google, just to check whether he had been active recently and I'd missed it. I came up with a post from YT. It's gold.
From: Dr Zen
Subject: Re: Get moderated
Murder on the dancefloor. Panic in alt.writing. Alan Hope
is playing a tune that goes a lot like:
>>But enough of him. Let's talk moderation. Maybe it was discussed in the
>>past, and if so, then it can be renewed, no harm in that.
>Forget it. If you want moderation, start your own moderated group,
>like the people did for misc.writing.moderated. If you check, you'll
>find the interesting situation there, whereby there's a bunch of
>"frequently asked" questions posted once a month, and nothing else,
>Quite who is asking these questions, where and with what frequency is
>You'd go down well there. The members of MWM hate other people's posts
>so much nobody ever starts a thread in case there are replies.
I think what he needs to call for is an
I'm delighted that with so little effort I've become Glen Wall. Ah
well, I've got a line of the fuckheads in alt.fiction.original,
queueing up to tick me off for crossposting them and not sharing my
fiction. You'd think they'd learn.
At the same url
(the top post; I didn't read through it for god's sake), there is a post I made that says it all in my view. A man who doesn't get it whines and I troll him by simply being reasonable. Poor Dave Allyn. I'll miss him now I'm gone.
From: Dr Zen
Subject: Re: Alicia -- Revison -- (3984)
Shit happens. Here's Dave Allyn with the
report for alt.fiction.original:
>On Sun, 06 Jun 2004 13:46:14 +1000, Dr Zen wrote:
>>I fought the law but the law won. On Sat, 5 Jun 2004 18:09:13 +1000,
>>"Anopheles" led the case for the prosecution:
>>What's all that about? Trying to deny posterity or just any bad boys
>>who use google to post?
>No, most people on this group use the X-No-Archive:yes when they don't
>wish to have the story archived by google.
I can't see why you'd want to but I know why it's done.
I was asking Barry why he did it.
> If that is the news reader
>of choice, It cannot be helped. It also is my cue not to put it in
>the AFO archives either. The reasons behind this request are left to
>the OP, and often stay that way. Proper netiqute requires you to
>respect their wishes.
You'd think you'd realise by now that I don't share your idea of
In my books it is not proper netiquette to try to exclude one or other
newsreader. Opinions on this issue, just as on most issues, vary.
>>>Please retain the header above in any replies.
>>I much prefer to share you with the wider readership, Barry.
>If Barry wishes not to be shared, why do it anyway?
Because -- and I expect this will be very hard for you to grasp, Dave,
but do try -- I do what I wish rather than what Barry wishes.
> What can it
>possibly gain you? I have noticed that you tend to do what you want,
>when you want, and don't really give a thought to others around you.
I give them the thought they're due, Dave.
>You usually make some good points in your crits, but generally come
>off (at least to me) as arrogant, and it tends to detract from the
>advice you give.
Tough shit. You can take it or leave it. It's all gold.
> I noticed that you continue to cross post as well.
>Are you incapable of leaving a thread in the original NG?
I just don't like being bullied by the likes of you, Dave. The more
you make a fuss about it, the more it makes me want to do it.
>Also, I noticed you mentioned the charter of the NG, The Charter is
>also based on the good faith GIVE AND TAKE of it's members, and it is
>impossible to do both if you never post any fiction of your own.
Don't you fucking charter me. There's nothing in it that suggests
anyone has to post their work here. I am only interested in *giving*,
Dave. Maybe you find that hard to understand, but I'm just a giving
type of person.
>fact, a quick look at the archives yield nothing under Dr. Zen, or
>anything under D or Z that could be taken as you.
I am telling you that I have never posted, and will never post,
fiction to this group. I've never pretended otherwise.
> If there is a name
>under which you have contributed, please let me know, otherwise, this
>leads me to believe that you either have not posted any fiction to
>this group in the last 4-5 years, or have requested it all kept out of
>the archives. If you requested it out of the archives, then why do
>you not respect others requests to do the same?
Why second-guess the answer, Dave? I would never try to keep out of
the archives. I like being in them. I'm not scared of what I write.
> If you just have not
>contributed any fiction of your own, why not?
Refer to the post in which you saw me mention the charter, Dave. I
explain why not there.
> Personally, I consider
>the style and abilities of the person doing the critique when I read
>the advice they give. If I don't care for a person's style, or
>technical abilities, I tend not to weigh the advice they give as much
>as someone whom I respect and admire as a writer.
More fool you. If all you want is a good backslap, you can give my
critiques the swerve. I don't care. Others my find value in them.
> I will grant you
>that I have not been in this group as long as most. It is entirely
>possible that you were a contributor at one point, and are in a dry
>spell currently. Your responses to basic requests from other members,
>however, leads me to believe otherwise.
I am about now checking my watch. It's absolutely none of your
business whether I've ever posted anything for critique. You do
realise that, don't you?
>Lastly, this is not a request to begin a flame war.
It looks to me like one. You seem to be trolling me.
> If you have sound
>logical arguments contrary to the above to make, please do so. I am
>especially interested in knowing how you justify yourself regarding
>the cross posting
I like it.
>, and blatantly ignoring a X-No-Archive request.
I haven't got the faintest idea what one of those is, and I don't want
to learn. All of my posts go into the public record.
If you want to restrict your mails to certain people, use email, dude.
Start a mailing list. This is a public forum, even though there are
some here -- and I do include you, Dave, I'm sorry to say -- who seem
to think it's a private club.
>Swearing and insulting only serve to make yourself look bad.
So, calling you a fucking old lady wouldn't do me any good?
You're not a schoolteacher by any chance, Dave?
>and insulting are the only tools left when someone has lost an
>argument, and doesn't know when to concede.
No, silly Dave. They're actually pretty much my upfront tools when I
have an argument. See, I could easily out-argue you with any means I
choose. Your platitudes go for nothing because quite simply, I don't
call you names because I have nowhere left to go, but because I don't
want to go anywhere else.
> I trust you will not fall
>to this level. I hope no one else does either. I certainly won't.
Gawd forbid anyone should transgress that fatal barrier, eh, Dave?
>P.S. I just did an alt.fiction.original google search for "Dr Zen"
>as of about 45 seconds ago, there were 544 responses, none of which
>were original fiction from you.
Hey, and none with the archiving switched off. Lucky, huh?
> All but a small handfull were Re:
>(someone elses story or thread.) The rest were places that had both
>words "dr." and "zen" but were not you..
Here's a tip. Put both words in quotes next time. No full stop after
> I did, however, find it
>interesting that the issue of cross posting has been brought up
>several times before, the earliest dating back to a message from
>October of 2000. It is obvious that you have been asked repeatedly,
>and yet you continue. I can only wonder at your reasons, but dearly
>hope you will enlighten me.
I fear enlightenment is something you will have to find for yourself.
So I kick myself because I made a mistake that cost me my chance to make the money but I saw some interesting hands and some abysmal play. So I learn.
First of all, I see W, the host. He is HU with R, who is a loose player who calls too much. The flop is KJJ. W has a J. He bets out a decent amount. R calls. The turn is a 4. W bets out again, big. R calls.
What can R have? W is fairly straightforward. He’ll bluff sometimes but not so much that he’s wild. You can squarely put him on a J. Now if W was playing against me, he should know that he’s beaten. The worst I have is AJ. I probably have KJ. It’s conceivable I could have had Kx on the flop but I’m not calling a big bet on the turn with less than trip jacks. But R is loose enough to call with Kx, just about, and hope to get lucky. Maybe that’s a stretch even for him. He seems to have been thinking a bit more lately. He could have a straight draw. He would possibly try it with AQ/AT/QT. This would be a horrible call but he’s a horrible player.
The river comes a T. W goes all in. This is terrible. W is actually in a spot that often comes up in no limit and you must be able to recognise it when it comes. If R holds AT/QT/Kx and you have him beaten, he will not call your all-in. You cannot make value from worse hands with a big bet. He knows you have trip jacks and cannot have less. Even if he suspected you only have a K, he cannot call. But if he has called you down with a bigger jack or with AQ, he will call your all-in. So W is risking his whole tourney for nothing. He cannot make value with this bet. He can only lose. What should he do? If the draw had not come in, I would definitely be checking and letting R try to bluff it. Because it has, I would bet a small amount, which poor hands might call but big ones will raise. I fold to the raise. I might get bluffed but if I check, I can just about count on facing a bet I don’t want to call, and might fold the worst hand.
Fucking river, W says, and he is right. He was very unlucky. R gambled and it came off. But W did worse.
Then – and this is a real headshaker – R and his wife, D, who I know is a terrible uberLAG, are in a pot. The flop shows a T and a couple of other cards. He checks, she bets, he calls. The turn comes another T. He bets, she raises, he pushes. Now, R will bluff. I don’t necessarily credit him for the Ts, but I am mostly folding here. D calls.
R shows QT. He has the tens. So we’re all looking at D. What has she gone with? AK. She has no pair, no draw. Her tournament is over. The worst thing about this is that she called the bet. She wasn’t pushing and got caught stealing. She called! Terrible. Even if he didn’t have a T, he likely has a pair. A call is only a win for her if he has nothing. But he called on the flop and there are no draws available. So you figure he has a pair if he doesn’t have the tens.
I am getting to my bad beat but I can’t claim to have the worst beat of the night. L takes that prize. She is in the shortstack in the SB and pushes. The BB, S, a LAP sort who calls way too much, calls her. She shows 77. He has 75. She is crushing him. It couldn’t be much better for her. To beat her, he will need two 5s or a straight.
Well, you can guess it. The cards come A234. I’m not kidding. That’s absolutely brutal.
I wish I had made it to the final two. Earlier in the day, I won two sixhanded sitngos. I just ran over the players I was up against. M, who is HU with S, is a predictable player – who is not quite tight and not quite aggro. Earlier, he had raised my small blind and I had pushed with 44. He agonised over the call. He showed me his cards. QJs. He is saying, well, I’m behind but I could be in with a chance. As it happens, he’s a tiny favourite, I think, but he doesn’t know what I have. I say, well, you are okay against a small pair but you’re crushed by AA/KK/QQ/AQ/KQ and sick against JJ/AJ, not happy against AQ. Oh no, he says, I’m not crushed until I see the flop. I make a mental note. This is a guy who counts pot odds but thinks a BDFD is a “flush draw”. Hmmm. I am going to be flogging him HU. Same with S. He’s far too willing to call and not willing enough to bet unless he has something special.
I’ve learned something about HU. If you’re playing, you’re raising. Aggression wins the day. Your opponent knows you can’t always have a hand but they won’t play back with air. What tightish players do is play back with big hands, call with moderately good hands and fold junk. Which gives you plenty of information for the flop and lets you pick the hand to take them out with. R raises quite a few hands but not enough. He calls too many blinds (should be nearly none at all) and checks too many times in the big blind (should raise most times). Why raise with air? Well, here’s the thing. If it flops high, your opponent thinks you’ve hit and you can steal the pot with a bet that looks like you have it. If it flops low, your opponent thinks you’ve missed, and will be willing to call your bet with OCs, or will sometimes try to steal, running into your pair. It keeps them guessing anyway.
Earlier on, I’d had an interesting hand with M. I had been card dead all night. I’d woken up with AK once and made a nice pot with it; A7s had made two pair and a big pot from a clueless caller; but everything else had seen the whole table fold to a raise or just hadn’t felt playable. I wasn’t panicking though. Plenty of time to get hands and get out of trouble. So I’m in the BB, and M completes the SB. I raise with KT. He reraises. Okay. He has a big ace. I know his play well enough to know that. (He openraises a pair, which he overvalues usually, but I know that he’s overkeen on big aces and would limp-reraise them in this spot.) I am crossing my fingers it’s not AK/AT and call the reraise. The pot odds wouldn’t allow a fold. (The story of my night. I had to call off quite a few chips in the blinds when I was being offered good odds for it, yet never hit a thing.) The flop came ATx. I am thinking I am beat but M checks. I think about it and pick up some chips. Maybe he has Kx? Then he says, how much do you have? He thinks I am betting and he’s going to put me all in! I check. He has made an elementary mistake. I think my read was good after all. The turn is a Q. I have a pair and a draw to a straight. M bets huge. Easy fold. He tells me he had AQ. So okay, I lost a few chips but I got away from that well.
So I’m in the SB on the bubble. L is shortstack but she is three, four orbits from busting out. S raises 3xBB from UTG. It comes to me and I find 88. I am beating S. I know it. He is a loose raiser at best and is willing to steal. So I make my mistake. I push.
First, what should I have done? I put S on an ace. I’m hoping of course he has ace-baby and I’ve caught him stealing. I want a fold but if he calls, I’m at worst a coinflip.
There’s my mistake. Who wants a coinflip when they’re short on the bubble? Not me. I should have called and then pushed any nonace, nonking flop. He is folding most and calling only if he’s paired his kicker, if then. This is such a straightforward play that looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see it. I think I was just in the mindset that I would have to make a stand at some point and allowed that to blind me to a much better play.
So he calls. He says “I think maybe you’re stealing”. It hurts that I am knocked out by someone this fucking clueless. Has he been asleep for the past two and a half hours? I have barely played a hand and I have shown down only good values. I have put my whole stack in on the bubble. He shows AT. “I’m hoping you don’t have a pair,” he’s saying. I say, but you are worse off if I don’t have one because I have AK or AQ.
He rivers an ace. If I had made the right play, he’s not even seeing the river. He should fold preflop because he has no odds even to beat a pair, but even a loose player is not calling on the flop with no pair, no draw, just the six outs at best.
It’s painful to lose, particularly when you haven’t played badly. If I hadn’t been so card dead all night, I’d have been able to get away with a mistake. But I’ll learn from the night. Ultimately, I am the only person there who has any hope of becoming a decent player because I am the only one who can say that.