Thursday, September 27, 2007

The "new Hitler" visits

Contrast the crushingly rude, craven pantswetting introduction by Bollinger with the reasonable, measured answers by Ahmadinejad (with the one obvious exception) in this transcript.

As I've said before, Ahmadinejad has indulged in some fruity rhetoric, but he doesn't come across as a crazed nutter, and he is not a "dictator" or anything like one. That's not to say that the regime in Iran isn't repressive (but whose in the Middle East isn't, including that of our friends in Israel?), or that there are not legitimate concerns about it, but making him out to be the new Hitler is ridiculous.

I'd like to see a neutral translation of the gay thing too. We know that Ahmadinejad has not been well served by translators, including the one who claimed he had said that Israel should be wiped off the map, when he actually said that the Zionist regime would in time be removed from the page of history, which is a very different proposition, not so different from what someone like me earnestly desires for the region. I note that he flatly denied hating Jews or desiring their extinction. That won't be as widely reported in the wingnutosphere, of course.

In Rangoon

If you want to know more about the extraordinary soft coup in Burma, the Blog of Nyein Chan Yar has on-the-spot reporting as a place to start.

More here.

In 1998, the NLD won a huge victory in elections in Burma. The ruling junta refused to recognise the elections.

If we are for democracy, for justice, for the people... but we are not, are we? There will be no UN mission, no strong sanctions, no real pressure. And monks, men of peace, who wish only wellbeing for all, and others will continue to be shot down in the street by men far far worse than those whose nation we will shortly be destroying.

Tactically speaking

If there was any doubt that Frank Farina is a clueless fuck, he's chased it away.

Either that, or he simply does not watch the matches he attends. How anyone could say "the Roar's form was still impressive" is beyond me. They have been very poor,particularly in attack.

The Roar's problems stem from Farina's footballing philosophy. He has them playing like Italians, when they should play like an English lower-league side.

Italian teams tend to allow their opponents space, defending deep, and looking to compress space in the final third, so that the other team is forced to play high-risk football to break them down and is faced with superior numbers. They build up slowly to counteract other teams doing the same thing: by moving the ball up the pitch slowly, you allow your side to push up. Italian teams tend to keep the play fairly narrow, because, playing to their strengths, which rarely include height or aerial ability, which aren't favoured in Italy, their chief means of breaking down the opposition defence is rapid movement and precise passing: a lot of goals in Italy come from the inside ball, where a striker pushes the ball inside a defender who is caught flatfooted by a midfielder's run.

Now, this is a valid way to play football. It suits the technically skilled, sharp players that Italy produces, and Italian sides tend to buy. But it's not suitable for teams that lack the quality of Serie A's stars, and there is a fine line between getting it right and becoming laboured and lumbering. Students of Liverpool will note that whereas they played this style very successfully in their glory days, under Houllier, for example, and sometimes under Benitez, they have lacked the incision that it demands.

The Roar should rather mimic decent Championship sides. An English side will tend to try to get the ball forward quickly. Defenders do not dwell on the ball: they look for an outlet for the quick pass. The team will close down space quickly and defend as high up the pitch as they can. Instead of compressing space in the final third, they look to compress it in midfield, making it impossible for their opponents to pick out their strikers with any accuracy. This style demands width, because the main attacking threat against compact defences is the ball wide, allowing a winger to get behind the defence and put in a cross. I had to explain to Zenella's tennis coach, who stands next to me at Roar matches, so alien is this concept, that this is dangerous for the defence because every attack becomes a corner. The attacking side must get bodies forward, but this is not so difficult when you are defending the halfway line, not your box, and your midfielders are busting their guts to get up the pitch (I am yet to see much gutbusting going on at the Roar). It's important for English sides that when the ball is played up to attackers, midfielders are looking to run on beyond them (something Marcinho almost never does), allowing the option of the through ball as well as the layoff (the Roar's forwards can only lay it off with their backs to goal, or must try to turn, which is often comic but rarely productive). This style is effective against sides that are defending deep because they lose their shape. Eventually, they too start to push up the pitch to get numbers into midfield and relieve the pressure, and you can get a ball in behind them. The opposition are not able to take the time to mark you up, and are going to be vulnerable to quick balls out to wingers who ping it into their box, where defenders are outnumbered if you have pushed forward quicker than their midfielders have come back. It's all about pressure, which makes the opposition make mistakes that you can capitalise on.

This style suits players with limited ability, and, what's more, would be very effective against sides that are not trying to compete in midfield. The Roar would need to be a lot fitter to play it, but getting fitter is a lot easier than acquiring technical ability. It would suit the players we have too. Reinaldo is a shithouse player, but he's big, and would conceivably cause more difficulty to defences if they had to defend high balls. He's rubbish in the air, but they still have to mark him. Milicic is a good player when he has some space to work in, so early balls are going to suit him. At present, he looks very poor, unable to work in the compressed space that Farina's tactics leave him with. Watching from the sidelines are Minniecon and Nicholls, quick, keen lads who would terrorise full backs and provide a stream of dangerous balls. Murdocca too could play this role. He has a bit of nip about him, mostly wasted because the Roar play at walking pace. It would definitely suit McKay, whose strength is his aggression, which he could use much more effectively. The prospect of Seo pinging long balls to the boys on the wing is mouthwatering. How threatening we would be then!

Naturally, we would need to play a standard 442 and not the hybrid 4132 that Farina has been indulging in, which simply has not worked.

But nothing is going to change, of course. Farina says ""I would be really concerned if we were garbage - (but) we are on the right track." Well, we are garbage, and the reason is that we are on a very wrong track.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Respecting the troops

Here's all that needs to be said about the Republican outrage over the MoveOn ad:

Disrespect the troops? How can you disrespect them more than sending them off to die for nothing but a rich man's wallet?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Queensland Roar 0 Sydney 1

Sydney's goal silences the crowd, not that it was making much noise anyway.

I am a bit bored. The football is atrocious, the worst I've ever paid to see. And I've paid to see Gloucester City, so we are definitely talking bad. My back has been hurting at the football; I think it's standing for two hours that does it.

How terrible it is to age! Even if I was inclined, I would not believe in a god that allowed life to be so shit. How can there be a god who loves you but permits congenital disorders that twist humans into monsters? This isn't a new question, of course, but the answers are never satisfactory. Perhaps, you might say, God created the universe and then let it be, set up the clockwork and let it run. Well, if he did, what would be the point of him? You would certainly be wasting your time praying to him, and you might praise him but continually kissing his butt wouldn't seem to have much point.

I think it's a central dilemma for Christians: either God intervenes or he does not. Most seem to think he does. But if he does, why does he not intervene more? He seems to answer very few prayers. God is inscrutable, Christians say. Now us rational types know that is a blunt rationalisation of God's not having any actual discernible impact on the world, but besides that, Christians, to maintain their faith, have to compartmentalise their beliefs. God loves me but he allows me to suffer? Doesn't seem very loving. The suffering is in some way good for me? Well, why then wouldn't he reward me for causing suffering for others?

Above all else, the notion that a loving god would give you a rather trying seventy-year entrance exam for your eternal reward is preposterous. I would not believe in a god like that even if he visited me personally (I'd put that down to the skunk).

They serve only midstrength beer at the stadium. It's not hideously priced at five bucks a pint (it looks like a pint; Australia has been metric for quite a long time and wholeheartedly so -- unlike the UK, where most people use imperial measures and can't understand metric measures well, even those like me who are well aware what they are) but you can't get drunk on it without a concerted effort. And I am going to have one of those nights anyway, where I drink a fair bit but don't feel any drunker at midnight than I did at seven, when I'd only had a couple. I am feeling a little sour anyway; I wouldn't make a good drunk even if I did get there. Everyone in town seems to be 17. I feel too old. Everywhere is too noisy. Mind you, I didn't like noisy pubs when I was 17 myself, or ever. Australian pubs differ from English ones. They are usually brightly lit and very loud, not the cosy hideyholes that I am used to. You cannot have a quiet chat in Gilhooleys or the Paddo Tavern. But Australian pubs did not grow out of social meeting places, but out of places to drink heavily. And that's still what they are: focused on drink, not socialising. People are not friendly in pubs here. They hardly could be; you practically need to be hugging someone to be able to hear them.

The Paddo Tavern is typically Australian. It's far too big, is not comfortable and the music blares. The barmaids all wear cowboy hats and crop tops. There is some sort of cowboy theme to the place, but I've never quite figured out why. The beer is overpriced and too cold for an evening that isn't all that warm. But it's a better place for a drink than Gilhooleys. I've never been to Ireland, but I'd be surprised if pubs there were so cold and inhuman as Gilhooleys. It is just so fucking loud!

Which cannot be said of the crowd, silent and sulky after Sydney score. Queensland are the better side, but they don't look like scoring. Farina seems unaware of their tactical deficiencies, let alone of the deficiencies of some of the players.

Queensland's main problem is that they are so cumbersome. When they go forward, they do so slowly, and the players bunch. A crafty player like Milicic finds he has no space, and is nullified. If the ball was played up front quickly, he would be able to stretch the defence more. I don't mean the keeper should hammer it up the pitch. Reddy does that and every time we surrender possession. None of our strikers is strong in the air, and Reddy doesn't seem to be aiming at them anyway. We should be moving the ball out quickly to the wings, but we don't seem to have anyone stationed on the wings. Our play is very narrow, which allows Sydney to keep a compact shape.

I've realised that Farina patterns his game on the way it's played in Italy. There, teams build up slowly, using careful technical play to create openings. They defend deep, and do not press the opposition. They tend to play fairly narrow because they are looking to make short, accurate passes. This is a fine way to play if you are technically strong. At A-League level, it's rubbish. An English style would be much more effective: press the opposition, push up and compress the midfield (not the final third, which is what Queensland end up doing), use width to create opportunities, play the ball quickly and directly. In other words, play to your limitations; don't pretend you are Roma or Inter. Of course, this style of play would be better served by bigger, stronger players, but any player can get fit, and a willingness to get stuck in can go a long way.

The crowd moan about the referee, but for once, he had a good game. Tiatto was best on pitch, industrious and neat, but he lacks creativity (and is sometimes poorly positioned, given that he seems completely onefooted and can't pass effectively when on the righthand side of the pitch), closely ahead of Seo, who again has a good match, only let down by some uncharacteristically poor tackling -- he is such a threat coming forward that you can only wonder what great things we might achieve if his vision and accuracy were employed further forward in midfield, where he belongs. Reinaldo is again very poor, but Milicic and Lynch are even worse, although it's not wholly their fault that they are ineffective when the team is not playing to their strengths. McKay has a poor match, as does Marcinho, who passes poorly and fails to get into the box when we do get the ball "wide" (wide of the box more often than actually wide), which is criminal in an "attacking" midfielder. Moore and McLoughan are solid enough, but Griffin simply is not a professional footballer. His distribution is abysmal; his positioning worse; and when he gets forward, he is a liability, because when he inevitably loses the ball, he leaves a huge hole behind him on the opposition's right. When he comes on, Zullo again looks ineffective. He is simply too small and too slow to make it as a pro, and I don't think he will. Murdocca, also small and incapable of going past players, is okay when he comes on. For the last ten minutes we have the glorious sight of donkey centreback Ognenovski up front, where he is almost entirely ineffective. The ball is pumped up to him, but despite his height and bulk, he is no good in the air and worse with his feet, so he does nothing. Lumbering, clueless, slow: he is a good symbol of the Roar.


Absolutely batshit.

The same crazy fucking nonsense that got Iraq battered. Suddenly, Iran is the new Iraq.

And when we've destroyed Iran, Syria's next.

Then who?

A dictation lesson

We know this world is insane, but sometimes, you really need to step back to get enough perspective to realise how really fucking insane it is.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran has indulged in some fruity rhetoric (although he did not say that Iran wished to wipe Israel off the map; that is simply a lie, and does not become truer for ceaseless repetition -- he said that in time the regime in Israel would be wiped away, just as others have been). But he was elected in a fair election. He is an outcome of democracy. And his actions have not on the whole been aggressive. Yes, Iran "meddles" in Iraq. Iran is Iraq's neighbour. The situation in Iraq concerns it. That a nation that has attacked its neighbour for no good reason should hector Iran for being involved in its own region is ridiculous.

But America has decided it is having another war, and Ahmadinejad must be painted as a bloodthirsty tyrant. However, when you talk to him, the meme doesn't play as well as it does in the rightard echo chamber, as airhead CNN reporter Scott Pelley found out when interviewing him. Pelley was handed a thorough spanking by Ahmadinejad. He repeated a bunch of rightist talking points, and Ahmadinejad simply answered "those are a bunch of rightist talking points".

It must frustrate and bemuse him that he is faced with this wall of sheer insanity. What must he think to be called a "warmonger" (when he has not started a war and is not fighting one) by people who are still occupying his neighbour, having destroyed it thoroughly, and intend to attack his nation shortly?

It is like Hitler lecturing the French! Is America so insane it doesn't see itself? Ahmadinejad is not the "new Hitler". He is the head of a regional power (and only the head of its civil administration, equivalent to the Majority Leader, not the president), a nation that has every right and expectation to lead in its region, a contestant for influence, which does no more, no less than any other power to keep itself secure and sway its neighbours to its own goals. He has not attacked anyone, nor is his "regime" any fiercer than any previous Iranian regime (indeed, his internal power is not so firmly held, and his position is quite shaky). He doesn't like Jews, true, but I doubt George Bush likes them much either (one should note that Bush's version of Christianity has the firm belief that Jews who do not convert to Christianity will be slaughtered en masse in its apocalypse -- if anyone believes Jews should be wiped off the map, it's not Ahmadinejad). There is though an extremist nationalist aggressor in his region -- two of them. He is opposed to, and opposed by, both. But who wouldn't be? It would be insane not to, given their aims for his region and his nation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Principles of the arms trade

We are fighting in Iraq, purportedly, for freedom and democracy, and all those good things that go with them.

So we have a proud record of getting behind democrats, right?

Well yeah. When we are not selling billions of fighter planes to a repressive regime that does not actually face an aerial threat.

Officials pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an "important strategic ally" of the UK in the region. Us cynics read that as code for "they have loads of oil, so we don't care about the torture, the womanhating or the complete lack of democratic structures", because the Saudis don't play much of a strategic military role in the area. They do all their fighting through proxies (mostly against us) and although they fiddle diplomatically, they are not really engaged for the good. Quite the opposite. Because their nation was formed as a coalition of an aggressive, militarily strong tribe and extremist Sunnis (and we are talking way out there), the Saudis mostly busy themselves with hating Shias and undermining Shia polities throughout the region.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stinkin' facts, who needs 'em?

What's this?

The reefer panickers who claim that skunk that is 20 times more powerful than it used to be are bullshitters?

Skunk is only twice as powerful? And doesn't dominate the market at all, which still mostly consists of smoke that is exactly the same as it was?

Ho hum.

You never see these people saying "I was wrong" though, do you? They create a huge ruckus, whipping up panic, but never feel they have to admit they foamed over nada. Of course not. It's drugs innit. They're officially evil.

I'm off to fire up a bowl and contemplate the matter. Ciaozers.

Friday, September 14, 2007

You bastids

Much better than that Craig Ferguson tip, don't you think?

No time to begin

"Enough is enough. We don't need to 'begin' to end the war now. What we need to do now is actually end the war. This is about right and wrong. Our young men and women are dying every day for a failed policy. Every member of Congress who believes this war must end, from Senators Obama and Clinton to Senator Warner, has a moral responsibility to use every tool available to them, including a filibuster, to force the president to change course. Congress must stand firm and say: No timetable, no funding. No excuses."


Poor babies

Private equity firms say they will leave the country if they are taxed fairly.

To which I say, don't let the door hit you on the arse on your way out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The French suck

When did the Frenchies last have a brilliant idea? Some would say when some lonely goatherd let his cheese sandwich go off and invented Roquefort, but if, like me, you prefer your cheese without mould, you're struggling.

Everyone knows that drinking through a straw gets you pissed quicker, but who would have believed that the Frenchies -- not notable for being pissheads -- would make that a selling pooint for their vino?

But they have. My only cavil is that the boxes are far too small. Make them in two-litre size and the next round's on me.

Iran, Iran so far away

Very sad to learn that two of the troops who wrote the piece that exposed the myth of progress in Iraq have been killed.

I note that Mr Bush is now going to de-Surge. So much for "the Surge is working".

I also note that Ms Rice continues to be a profound hypocrite. Accusing Iran of "aggression" while you are currently occupying the neighbour you invaded without reason and destroyed is the definition of cheek. Ms Rice is surely aware that the Iraqi government is not likely to "resist" Iran, but will likely be great friends with it, as the two nations stand together as protectors of Shiism in the Middle East.

They really have stopped caring how ridiculous they sound. Well, why would they care, so long as the American press never puts them to task for it?

Serious blather

Rightist "think tank", the IISS has given its yearly global review, and, as so often with the IISS,it's looking at a different world from the rest of us.

Let's look at the points, as noted by the Guardian:

1/ AQ has revived...

AQ has changed. The original organisation, such as it was, has been more or less destroyed. But what has happened is that a bunch of fellow travellers are now describing themselves as AQ. This is like dismantling the Republican party, making Bush and Cheney fugitives, and executing most of its members, and then claiming it has revived because the Libertarian party starts calling itself the Republicans.

2/ ... and spread...

For the same reasons, this is not true. The notion of AQ has spread, but there isn't much sign that operationally AQ has grown, or even exists at all in the form it once did. A few videos from Osama (or pseudo Osama, whatever) do not mean that AQ is back in business.

3/ ... has the capacity to carry out another spectacular, like 9/11.

Dude, I have that capacity, as does anyone with an imagination. I think the planning of 9/11 has been very overstated. It may not have been ultra-simple but there was no great need for materials and the plan was not all that complicated. Most other AQ operations have been similar: they've involved daring but haven't been huge in scope.

4. There is increasing evidence "that 'core' al-Qaida is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained an ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the western world despite the attrition it has suffered"

There isn't much evidence of that at all. I'm guessing that if I read the IISS report, I wouldn't see any either. It's a key fault of the IISS. They make a thesis and then spin whatever they can find to fit. If they can't find anything, no worries. Absence of evidence and all that. Just bung in a "perhaps" or a "maybe" and you're sweet.

5. "The threat from Islamist terrorism remains as high as ever, and looks set to get worse"

Does it? How high was it and how high is it? It's hard to say. And high compared with what? For much of the world, the risk of being invaded by the States is much higher.

6. "The US and its allies have failed to deal a death blow to al-Qaida; the organisation's ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate"

We never were going to. The ideology is not something AQ invented. It's a reaction to modernity that is widely felt in the Islamic world. And we will not deal it a "death blow" by attacking Islamic states. We will only strengthen and nourish it. I suppose IISS are not saying that we could have finished it, but that is the implication of this quote.

I don't think we will ever "eradicate" AQ's ideology. It may well wither over time, or be defeated from within (there are signs of a split in Islamist thought, because some militants have started to say, well, actually, the Qur'an does not urge us to murder everyone who doesn't agree with us -- and of course it doesn't).

7. Iran could have a nuclear weapon by 2009 or 2010, though this remains the "worst-case prediction"

IOW, though we pulled that out of our arse.

8. the US suffered a loss of authority as a result of the failure to impose order in Iraq. "The strategic hole the US found itself in [in 2007] did not have any obvious escape"

Except just leaving. Ultimately, that would work. The IISS of course is a "Serious" establishment, and the idea that just not attacking people you don't like is worth considering doesn't appeal to them. Neither does accepting that we are fucked in Iraq, and getting unfucked is as easy as leaving the place to its own devices. Of course, that doesn't unfuck Iraq, but neither does hanging around like a bad smell, shooting locals.

9. there are serious doubts about the ability of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, but any replacement would probably come too late to "halt the draining of American willpower to 'stay the course' "

Talk about blaming the victim! Al-Maliki is very able. He's doing exactly what those who back him want. Do the IISS really not understand that? He was elected to push Shia interests and to provide political cover for the Shia groupings affiliated with his party, and he's doing a bang-up job of that. He never had the least hope of unifying the country, which has been smashed into pieces, and suggesting he is not able because he can't is ridiculous. American willpower is being drained because even the dumbest have begun to twig that the US is achieving nothing in Iraq and isn't likely to -- and it's costing a ton of blood and treasure to achieve it.

10. that if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked, its affects will be catastrophic "on the level of nuclear war"

Even a blind squirrel etc.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It's a boring life being an editor, and I don't see why, if I'm to be bored, anyone reading this shouldn't suffer along with me. So here is an ill-informed commentary on today's feed from the Guardian, at least until the boredom finally does me in.

First up, Bush is to follow Petraeus' recommendations, which, given that he wrote them, should not be a surprise. I'm not going to comment on the surge's failure (and it has obviously failed because its aim was not to make a small impact on security in Iraq; remember, those troops were supposed to be sufficient to allow "breathing space" for a political solution -- however, a political solution doesn't need "breathing space", it needs goodwill, which is in short supply; without goodwill, you can suppress violence as much as you like, but there will be no resolution, and without resolution, the bloodshed will simply continue), but I do wonder about Bush. From snippets I've found around the web, he seems to feel that the US is "winning" in Iraq. But can he really be thinking that? That's what I struggle with. Even if he's not particularly smart, he has some smart guys around him, and they see what we see. Which is not victory. As so often with Bush, you're left with the question, is he dumb or pretending? It's connected with a broader question: were the Americans caught on the hop by how Iraq fell out, or did they intend chaos to ensue because they knew they could profit from it? I know that the neocon line was that if they smashed Iraq (or any nation), it would spontaneously reform as a market democracy). But this is so obviously ridiculous that you have to wonder whether smart guys can really believe it. Why is it ridiculous? Because "progress" is defined by your viewpoint. You might think that a market democracy is the pinnacle of human organisation, but that's likely because you benefit from it. If you didn't benefit so much, you might consider another state something to progress to. Islamists do not share the belief that a market democracy is the pinnacle, and some Islamists are ferociously smart (which is half their problem). Furthermore, we did not ourselves spontaneously form market democracies: they are outcomes of processes that took centuries, and they are layered, sophisticated systems, which have grown out of historic compromises and power struggles.

I am not sure which is true: that the Americans were dumb or they are pretending. The pretending would run very deep, which is not like politicians, who are much more likely to be predictably venal and hypocritical. There's a whiff of conspiracy theory about the idea that they pretended to fuck up. But I do think it's possible.

How things are in Iraq is the subject of this excellent reportage. The English press has been way out in front on Iraq, of course, particularly the two centrist papers, the Independent and the Guardian. Gaith Abdul-Ahad is particularly good, and I do recommend reading anything you can find by him: it's not spoonfed bullshit from the US military, which is the bulk of American mainstream reporting.

In the McCann case, the prosecutor is passing the file to a supervising judge (Portugal has a Roman legal system, I believe). It's not clear why, but the indications are that the police believe they have a case against the McCanns. I don't wish them ill, and of course I would like to see the child recovered in one piece, but I delight in the other possibility. If the mother killed Madeleine, in whatever circumstances, and disposed of her body some time later, she is a wonderfully evil character. Imagine the moxie you would need to have killed your child, and then to appear on TV to appeal for her return. Indeed, I think it would make an excellent exercise in thinking about characters for us writers. Which is she? A heartless bitch who murdered her own child and then set up a huge campaign for her return as a smokescreen, or a poor woman who accidentally killed her beloved child, panicked and found herself caught up in a media circus, unable to back out and say, I did it? The second is much more challenging, because she chose a high profile to some extent. On another note, it's a horrible way to become famous, but it should in a small way be a comfort to parents: the abduction of children is rare enough that we know the names of the children taken. In these days of paedophile panic, it's something to bear in mind.

Talking of villainous characters, heeeeeeere's Osama. I haven't watched the video and I'm not likely to. I'm familiar enough with Osama's critique not to bother with it. I share many of his views, but we differ over the best way to fix the world's problems. I'm not keen on "kill everyone who doesn't want to live in 8th century Arabia" and he's not keen on "share and share alike".

Politicians call for murder of civilians in Gaza after rocket attack on Israeli base. Of course, they don't say "we demand that you kill a bunch of children", but they're aware that that will be the outcome. This is how war is. It's disgusting. Unfortunately, Israel is in the strong grip of hawks, and there is no prospect in this generation of peace without a major change of heart on its part and that of the States. Fat chance of that, so the suffering, on both sides (because it is not pleasant for Israeli civilians either), will continue.

I'm not one to judge people by appearances, but check her out. She looks just the type to have a vicious dog. These people are fucktards par excellence. Why on earth would a decent person want a pit bull? They are symbols of a cult of machismo that afflicts chavs. They recognise that life is tough, and their response is to out-tough it. Many of the people in the town I lived in as a late teen were like that. It made Friday nights particularly unpleasant, because you never knew when one of the local hardnuts would decide that you needed punching in the face. In my view, I don't ever need punching in the face. Mild remonstration usually does the trick. YMMV.

It's like the good old days. Unions threaten strikes. Unions? I didn't think we had them any more.


Monday, September 10, 2007


A while back, I got statcounter. Not so much because I'm vain, but because I wanted to know whether Mrs Zen was reading my blog. (It's a side-effect that I know who else is reading it hoping to see their name mentioned.)

Sometimes I feel a little sad that people are asking google how to get laid, and even sadder that they wind up here looking for answers. I have no idea how you can get laid, by the way. If I did, I'd be getting laid, not writing bloggetry. But, bereft of inspiration, I'm going to talk about some of the things that have led people to my blog in the past couple of days.

First up, a viewer from Iowa asks "how to care for an orange sided skink".

Well, the best way is to put it in a rainforest and leave it the fuck alone. It's my understanding -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that Iowa lacks rainforests.

Now I've had pets. I understand that it's speciesist to keep a pet, but frankly, what's a cat going to do if it's not a pet? Feral cats are not tolerated in Australia, because of the enormous menace they pose to the native wildlife. So if we didn't keep them as pets, they would not exist here.

Anyway, cats have grown to be parasitic on humans. You can call it "living in symbiosis" if you like, but the truth is that cats prey on us. They have adapted to living with us, having us feed them. (Lizards, in the main, haven't.)

But we don't keep cats in cages. Most of us have a catflap or some other mechanism to allow the cat in and out of the house. So they're not even under house arrest.

I don't know whether a lizard knows or cares that it is caged if you keep it in a terrarium, but it seems oddly unnatural and out of place. It's not so bad as keeping a bird in a cage. That's just inhuman.

A Belfast seeker says "Billy McKenzie kills himself". He did and it's a great pity. It's difficult for the thinking person to realise the absurdity of life and continue living, so I'm sympathetic to those who choose not to. Life can seem sometimes harsh; so much injustice, so much pain, so many fuckwits. It's a wonder any of us can continue. On the other hand, there is always novelty. You've never actually done everything, even if you think you have. I think that's as good a reason as any to live.

But it's quite a small reason.

A man in Tunis says "girls sexy". Yes, they mostly are. I particularly enjoy leering at them in the supermarket. Don't tell the radical feminists. I'm sure they believe I should pursue the grocery-shopping function with my head bowed, entirely unaware of other people's sexiness.

But it's about the only time I get out, apart from the school run. And I find something intensely alluring about the checkout chicks' bored smiles, their too-tight uniforms and hopefulness. I assume that they are hopeful. They are mostly young, so they have reason for it. Older women lack that air, because they have mostly had it crushed out of them. They are sexy in other ways.

A person in Canberra searches for "whatever". What luck! This is the web's premier source of whatever. It has the finest whatever that will ever be shrugged your way. Sometimes I astound myself with the whateverness. Yes, that is a fucking word, you nits.

Someone in Aldershot wants to know about "doctor who stuff in woolworths". Sadly, I have to report that Woolworths is a grocer, although it does carry a few DVDs and toys. It's weird that rather than concentrate on doing what it does very well, the modern large retailer wants to do what everyone else does. So Maccas, rather than being great at hamburgers, has an ever expanding menu, making it a burger joint, a cafe, a salad bar, a curry house, a sandwich shop and various other food-related emporia. Clearly, it's all about money; Maccas hates that anyone else makes even a cent from food. Starbucks goes even further. It opens fifteen shops on every street, so that when you are thinking "I could do with a coffee", you do not happen upon a place doing nice Italian-style coffees, but on an industrialised coffee dispensary. If they had their way -- and likely they will -- Maccas and Starbucks would be the only places you could buy takeout food.

We all know that artisan food is better. Artisan everything is better, mostly. But the artisan outlet is new, a risk. Humans are risk averse. It comes from having evolved in a dangerous environment. You don't eat the new berry when you know the old one isn't poisonous; you don't enter new caves if the old ones are warm enough, even if you suspect the new are better appointed.

A Finn wants to know why we're "confronted by wrongness". Well, I have a theory about that. People are not much concerned by right and wrong. They prefer comfort. A comfortable untruth is much more readily accepted than a difficult truth.

It's true, for instance, or almost certainly so, that we were not created by a god but simply happened by the chance assembly of atoms. It doesn't make you feel very special. And your life is entirely pointless, a drip in the ocean of time, serving only as a minute fraction of the dance of atoms that makes up the universe. And even those atoms don't amount to much.

But believing Jesus loves you is that much warmer. So I think we are sometimes confronted by wrongness because wrongness is a blanket over harsh truths.

Someone in Michigan is researching the "end of Iran", which I wrote about recently. It's quite alarming how few voices there are in American politics that consider attacking Iran a bad idea. I fear that its destruction is a done deal. The reasons are quite obscure. But let's get one thing clear: it's not about regime change. Iran is (slowly) transitioning into a modern democracy. Bombing it will likely relegate the place to chaos, and in the process firm up support for radicals. Dude, anyone who still thinks that that wasn't the aim in Iraq, and wouldn't be the aim in Iran is too gullible to survive in this world.

A character in Adelaide asks whether "evolution explains unhappiness". Whenever I consider evolution, I think about dogs. Dogs are not, so far as I know, ever unhappy unless they are physically discomfited. They don't sit around going "blah blah it's a dog's life". Kick them in the guts and they're unhappy though. Not that I make a habit of kicking dogs in the guts.

There are all sorts of theories about why we evolved intelligence, but I have to say that they all miss the point. Evolution is entirely random, so there is no why things evolve, only why the things that evolved were kept. Of course, the questioner wants to know whether there is an evolutionary explanation -- a selection benefit to unhappiness (because in a basic sense, evolution explains every trait). Intelligence seems to be a clear benefit, although introspection is a clear minus.

Is the ability to be unhappy something that benefits us? I suppose it might be. In the wild, we were for a long time foragers at the margin, and getting too comfortable would likely have been suicidal. Although hunter-gatherers ate better than agriculturalists (they had a much more varied diet), their food sources must surely have been unpredictable.

However, they are not likely to have had much personal property or hierarchy, so the kind of unhappiness that is based in envy must have been rare.

Well, I don't know. Personally, I have not been unhappy recently. Since I started suffering from melancholy, it has been impossible. You can only be unhappy if you have some expectation of contentment.

Someone in Sydney wants to know about "leopard trees". Just recently, we lost our camera. It was time to buy a new one anyway, so I bought Mrs Z a new one. She's the photographer in this family. I rarely ever bother. But I found the old camera, so now we have one each. So I will take a picture of the leopard trees in my front yard some time. They are truly beautiful, and they bring a touch of joy into my life whenever I sit in my front room and look out at them. They house parrots when they flower, which is wonderful. The parrots are a tremendous sight, flashing in and out of the branches, bickering over whatever parrots bicker about.

Australia does not have many beautiful things. Its reputation for beauty is based in scale and barrenness on the whole. There's so much of it, and so much of that wilderness, that you are bound to find some beauty from time to time. Some gums are beautiful though. Sometimes, you'll be walking a forest path and come across a tree that takes your breath away, it is so perfect.

A guy in Brazil -- and it would have to be a guy -- wants to know about "virgin mary rape cunt". Should I be worried that that leads to my blog? I think only if he actually had enclosed the whole thing in quotes.

Lonely of Illinois asks "am i boring". This is, I have to tell you, the commonest route to my blog! Young men the world over are asking themselves whether they are boring.

Boys, let me put your mind at ease. You are boring. But here's the thing. "Interesting" people make me spew. I saw a bit of Parky the other night and it featured Keith Allen. Now he's "interesting". But what a tard! I spent the whole of his interview wanting to punch his smug face.

You think you're boring because you're introspective. Think of it as being deep and you'll like yourselves more. If you can convince women of the same, you will get laid much more than the "interesting" guys, who are getting a lot less sex than you think.

On the same tip, an AOL customer asks "how not have a boring". My suggestion is twofold. First, be random. Really fucking surprise others and yourself by not being completely predictable. Be loving to those you hate. Give a gift to someone who is mean and doesn't deserve it. Punch that turd who annoys you instead of allowing him to get away with it. Miss work and stay at home, masturbating to schoolgirl porn until you're raw. Make a friend/your wife/yourself a gourmet dinner that you didn't even know you were capable of. IOW, be who you're not for a while. (If you already do these things, substitute things you do not do.) Second, stop caring. There is nothing more boring than caring about being boring or being bored. Most things are much more interesting than you credit. Tiny changes can be fascinating, if you are willing to be fascinated.

The Sydney guy who says "boring nothing to talk about" though just needs to find friends who share his interests. If you don't have interests, take up drugs. They were specially invented for people with no life, and they are good for you.

Finally, a dude in Morocco wants to know about "sex worlde poker". But if I knew where that was, my friend, I'd be there doing that and not here doing this.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Queensland Roar 0 Central Coast Mariners 1

I am listening to I believe in you, from Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk. What a shock that album was, after the success of Colour of spring, which put Talk Talk on the verge of stadiumness. Mark Hollis binned his career with Spirit... and Laughing stock, but man, how glad I am he did. He reached inside himself and made music that talked in a way few manage. It's almost unbelievable that the same band that made songs like Talk talk and It's my life could make this incredibly fragile, spiritual post-rock. I hated it when it first came out, but I've grown to love it. Strangely, I have followed a similar journey to Hollis, embracing styles that I would have run from 20 years ago.

Is that age? To tire of what thrills and learn to love slower, deeper pleasures? Maybe, maybe not. I like to think that it's just that today's music, particularly guitar-driven rock/pop, just isn't very good. So much is just a retread of what has been, and just too often a pale imitation.

I should have loved I believe in you 20 years ago though. I never gave it a chance to get under my skin. It was only after I had heard Laughing stock that I gave it that chance. Still, one of the great things in life is that you get the chance to catch up, and to change your mind. There's a ton of great music out there that I don't know and can still find. Today, P sent me an Autechre album she d/l'd for me. Wow! I love that shit. I don't know how I have gone without hearing them. It is going to take me hours, many repeated listens, before I even work out what the fuck is going on with it, but I am so looking forward to those hours.


The problem with a low standard of football is that you will never see the exquisite. Watch the Premier League, and you might be thrilled. Someone could do something that you will remember a week later. In the A League, you are simply awaiting someone's achieving more than plain oafish. The league begs for a coach who grasps that direct football is a sure route to success; presently, underpowered teams try to play technical football at a pace a truly fit, strong team could double.

So Queensland play the ball to feet, which would be gratifying if they did it with any incision. But they are very laboured. They do make some good chances (with so much of the ball, they'd have to be truly poor not to make a few) but they are not sharp, particularly in front of goal.

So they don't score and the story is all about their not scoring, when it could have been about how they crushed Central Coast.


The Queensland fans are quite engaging, because their chants are resolutely stuck in the seventies. When they were discussing what should be their official song -- you know, like You'll never walk alone for the Scousers or Blue moon for Manchester City -- the consensus was Powderfinger's My happiness. I suggested something by the Go-Betweens, but was howled down. My other suggestion was Yellow by Coldplay. Mocked and derided. These people have no idea. No one is going to be inspired or uplifted by Powderfinger, not even Powderfinger's family and close friends. The most Powderfinger will ever inspire is slightly bored nodding. Still, maybe that's appropriate, because the football rarely rises above the nodding level.

A large part of the problem is, once more, the coach. As I mentioned, the play is laboured, which is partly his fault, but it is also unbalanced, which is totally his fault. Farina likes to play a lopsided 4132, which means we rarely have width on the left. Because Murdocca likes to tuck in, we only have it on the right if Seo gets forward. Luckily, he was able to push forward a lot, because the Mariners resolutely refused to consider being progressive or attacking. Like many sides do away, they packed the midfield and looked to get men behind the ball when they lost possession. They were effective, but Queensland made it easy. Everything came down the right, and it didn't come very quickly. The perennial problem of lack of movement also hinders them, although Central Coast made it easier with zonal marking.

As previously, Queensland would be well served by playing a more aggressive, direct game, and by using a 442 so that sides cannot sit in a tight box at the back but are pulled wide and made to work harder to defend. They have the players for it: Nicholls looked very lively and showed some pace and Minniecon, absent on Thursday, is a rapid, direct player. Even if we began with Murdocca on the right, McKay or Tiatto on the left, they could be replaced after an hour by fresh young players who would give tiring defenders a trial for the last half-hour.

I think we are going to see the same game several times this season. Football games often favour the side that's willing to be constructive and go forward, and with the negativity that so often characterises away sides in the A League, that's going to be us more often than not. But we lack sharpness in the last third, and we lack anyone who can get goals, so however much pressure we put on our opponents, we may struggle to overcome them.

The crowd wasn't fond of the referee but I think he had an okay match. Best on pitch was probably Seo. He worked like a dog, often found space and created opportunities. Tiatto was solid in the middle, but I much prefer him out on the left. McKay had a decent game, but played far too narrow. McLoughan was uncharacteristically poor at the back, and Moore much better this week. Griffin is not a footballer and playing him at left back is headscratchingly unwise. Reinaldo missed several good chances, but he didn't play badly for at least the first half. Nicholls looked lively when he came on; I'd like to see him given a start to see whether he can keep up the all-action style for a whole match. If he can, he'll have a great future.

The end of Iran

OMFG. I feel so sorry in advance for the Iranian people. They are for it. The war drums are not just beating; they are getting deafening. When a crazy fucker like Michael Ledeen is taken seriously, you know that the shit and the fan are going to get acquainted.

The scariest thing in Ledeen's ravings is this:

Lopez: Was Iran involved in 9/11?

Ledeen: I don’t know. It’s possible, but certainly unproven. The most tantalizing factoid is the story of Ramzi bin al Shibh, the logistics officer for the 9/11 operation. He went to Iran for a month in late December, 2000, and then he returned to Iran less than a week before 9/11.

Yes, that's right. They pounded "Saddam was responsible for 9/11" to get the sheeple behind invading Iraq. Now it's "Iran was responsible for 9/11".

Ledeen doesn't know much about Iran. How can anyone who does say this:
Iran, not a single individual, is getting more dangerous. Ahmadinejad is the mask currently worn by the regime.

Iran, like most places, has several factions that jostle for power. Ahmadinejad is not particularly popular with the most powerful, but won the popular election for president. Not understanding that is the mark of someone who doesn't really have any grasp of Iranian politics.

He also says:

Lopez: Who are the dissidents from Iran we should be supporting? How can we?

Ledeen: They are the Iranian people, probably upwards of 80 percent of them, more than fifty million. We should broadcast to them, assemble strike funds for them, get them laptops, servers, anti-censoring software, etc.

Which simply isn't true. What Westerners don't understand about people in the Middle East is that many of them fear modernity and hate the West. They see us as purveyors of porn, worshippers of material culture, godless, ugly people who will destroy their native cultures if we are allowed to.

Iran has its supporters of modernity, of course. But suggesting that they are 80 per cent of the country is ludicrous.

But this is just the wiffling of a rightard with no clue. It gets scarier, because I think this is a trial balloon for the neocon line on Iraq:

Lopez: So does bin Laden and crew work for Iran? Have they always?

Ledeen: I don’t know about “always.” Certainly they have worked closely with Iran for quite a while. I think the Iranian domination of al Qaeda started when we destroyed al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The key leaders ran to Iran and have mostly been there ever since.

If you were to write a list of things Al Qaeda would like to see, the destruction of Shia Iran would not be all that far behind the removal of the US from the Middle East. The idea that bin Laden "works for" Iran is as credible as the idea that he "works for" the US.

Hang on though. He did used to work for the US! And truth is, it's tons more likely he still does than it ever will be that he works for Ahmedinajad.

But it gets worse. Remember how when we were on our way into Iraq, the right lied that we would be welcomed with open arms? How about this for deluded:

Lopez: If we bombed Tehran tomorrow, what might happen?

Ledeen: There is no intelligent answer to that question, except: we’d kill a lot of people. there’s a recent poll according to which the general attitude is, if you’re going to bomb us to bring down the regime, that’s O.K. but if you’re going to bomb us to shut down some nuclear facilities, we’re against it.

But I have no idea if those polls are reliable. it makes sense to me, but I’m not in Tehran.

If it makes sense to you that the Iranian people would welcome being bombed as an approach to ridding them of a "regime" many of them support, and a president many of them voted for, you should not be given the ear of those in power, you should be restrained for your own safety and that of others.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


There is a Chinese man at the side of the road. He might be fifty, maybe a little younger.

How do I know he's Chinese? I don't. I'm guessing. It's an educated guess though. There are fewer immigrants here from other east Asian nations because they have been much richer for a long time, and of course people tend more to migration when they are poor. So Chinese is my default assumption and you know how our minds are, even if it doesn't matter to you what someone is, you think "he's Chinese", "he's black", because that's what you do. It doesn't mean anything. He is also quite shabby, which inclines me to believe he's not Japanese. This is not a racial stereotype. I don't think there is any particular reason for Japanese men to be more neatly dressed than Chinese men. It's just my experience that they are. Again, this is quite likely an outcome of their relative wealth as much as anything: most Japanese that I have seen in my life have been affluent.

But this is not how I am thinking when I see him at the kerb. I just think, there's a Chinese man. If I heard him speak, then I would know for sure. I can distinguish Chinese from Japanese from Korean. I couldn't tell what type of Chinese though -- although I think I could pick a Beijing accent from another, because it is so distinctive.

He is not talking. He is slouching by the kerb. It is as though he is considering crossing the road, but he is not looking this way and that. He is just standing there.

So far as I know, there is not a word, not in Greek nor in English, for a metaphor that is for nothing. Because he seems to mean something but I don't know what.


It's an ongoing joke between me and Mrs Zen that my top ten songs include far more than ten songs. I'll play her a song and go, that's one of my top ten. And she'll laugh and say, there's about a million songs in that top ten.

So I tried to narrow it down, so that I could make a tape for the car and say, now this is my top ten. I got it down to 24 songs by using a couple of rules: only one song from each band (except for New Order, of course, because it's too hard to pick just one) and each song I chose had to be a genuine longstanding favourite, not something I heard last week and really liked.

It's not revealing of anything though. It's just a list of music I like, with no surprises. I have not slipped in some weird noseflute shit just to look cool.


The sky is blueless. Mansfield is at its worst on grey days. You notice the warehouses, the light industrial zones, the trucks belching exhaust just that bit more. Everyone looks weary.

Spring in Mansfield is a curious thing. Even if the weather was clearer, it would seem more like autumn to me. It's only a convention anyway that we call this spring. There are only two seasons here, wet and dry. The European settlers did not invent new paradigms; they simply applied the old. So we have magpies that are not magpies, crows that are not crows, spring that is just the tailend of winter.

A Brisbanite reading that would say, but it's not cold and it's not yet warm. So that's spring, right?

But it's not very cold in the dry season. The coldest days have a maximum in the late teens, and only drop to eight or so at night. And "winter" is simply a process of gradually cooling to that point and then warming back up again. There is no prolonged cold, as there is back home. Usually, the weather changes quite abruptly around Eastertime. One week it is hot and sultry, the next it has become clear and cooler.

It is strange that Easter is the end of summer here.


Picking a Boards of Canada song is a challenge, because I love their music. It's intricate and clever, without being difficult. Telephasic workshop is trademark BOC: a stomping beat is overlaid with entwined delicate melodies.

I am no dancer, so the dance music I love is stuff it's difficult to imagine dancing to. You could just about shake a tailfeather to Telephasic workshop, but you're more likely to put some fire in the bowl and let it drift over you. BOC make stoner music par excellence.

I'm not much of a fan of straight-ahead rock. You won't find much in my record collection, although a lot of what I like falls squarely within the rock idiom. I do like Buffalo Tom though. When I was younger, I was heavily into post-hardcore and the associated college rock, and I stuck with Buffalo Tom when they mellowed out and became more rock and less alt. You probably couldn't find much daylight between them and Springsteen, but I think the underlying aesthetic is different, and of course, they have different subject matters, or the same but from much different angles. Porchlight is an enduring favourite. It has a beautiful, rewarding melody, typical of Jankovich's songwriting. The album that features it, Let me come over, is a gem, chockful of wistful, gentle songs. This is not rock as fuck music, but rock as a way to reflect on life.

I was reading in the Guardian the other day that a Swedish newspaper had given the Rolling Stones a bad review, in which it had been suggested that the Stones were past it, so useless that they should pay everyone their money back. It got me thinking about longevity in popular music. The Stones are of course the great symbol of it: the 40-year career, the pure oldness of them, the likelihood that Richards will snuff it on stage one of these days. But the Stones have not been any good for a long time. Their last even half-decent record was more than 25 years ago, and that wasn't a patch on their sixties stuff. So I move from thinking about the Stones to thinking about the bands I've loved for a long time. Did they flourish and then tail off? I suppose some did, but most had the good taste to split up before settling into mediocrity. Cabaret Voltaire don't make records any more, but they did for 30 years. I think their later stuff was a bit dodgy; they seemed to have fallen behind the pace: where they had once been pioneers, so far out in front that the avant garde would consider them the avant garde, they became just another techno band. A good techno band, true, but no longer so exciting, so pathbreaking. They specialised in a creepy, millennial paranoid groove, with songs that whispered murder, police state, fear. I particularly like Bad self part one, although I prefer the remix that they did at Western Works in the eighties. I have no idea what it's about but it's the typical solid groove. It's about the only song with flute (faux flute, I should say, because it's all synthetic) that is bearable. Flutes do not rock.


So I was talking with P yesterday about my theory of the hierarchy of concepts. It explains why it's very difficult for a person like me to give ground to someone like Mrs Zen in terms of worldview, and why, I think, a/ educated people tend to be liberal and b/ minds open but rarely close.

When you view the world, you do so with a conceptual framework. It's how we make sense of it: we take a set of concepts and see how the world fits them. We might do that explicitly, by using science, but we also do it implicitly. We think about everything through the prism of the ideas we have about the world. Some concepts are narrow; some much broader.

So for a nationalist the concept exists that their country is better than others, and it's good that its citizens deserve better than others. Their concept is "I am an xian, so xians deserve better". My concept is "I am a human being". It's a broader, more powerful concept.

Or a person might have the concept that it is good for them that taxes are low. But you might have the concept that it is even more good for you that everyone benefits from higher taxes. The first person cannot see the breadth of positive outcomes from the spread of wealth.

These are arguable, of course. You could say that they are not narrower or broader at all. But it's my theory that they are. What I think people do is take narrow concepts and use them as their filter for viewing the world. So a nationalist uses their nation's specialness as a precondition of looking at the world. This leads to having a narrow view, because all you can see is what will pass through your filter. The low-tax guy cannot see broader benefits of higher taxes, because he uses the desire not to pay taxes as a conceptual filter.

I see broader concepts as outcomes of taking the world as it is, and answering the question: what fits what I'm looking at? rather than what fits my concept?

The concept we were discussing was marriage. P thinks you should accept t1he conventional view of marriage: a partnership sealed by vows that include at least an implicit promise of fidelity. But the conventional view is hopelessly narrow. It doesn't describe what people actually live, and it constrains our ability to define our relationships in ways that make them work for us. So people who maintain the conventional definition are bound to feel pain when what they have doesn't measure up (just as the nationalist finds defeats or setbacks for his nation painful out of proportion to their actual importance). And sometimes they allow their relationship to be destroyed, even though it is good, simply because it fails to match the convention.

So I said to P, if you have a 40-year relationship with someone, and you are happy and content throughout, then you have a marriage. No, she said, not if you don't have the paper. And not if you're not sexually faithful.

Maybe all I mean to say is that concepts like that just aren't very useful, either as ways to think about your life and your world, or as ways to create worlds that work for you. And I think my concept of a marriage, as a type of relationship with certain purposes, is much more useful.

I had more to say about that, but it's become muddy. Maybe another post another time.


I first heard Eighties fan by Camera Obscura on the Rough Trade Indiepop compilation. It had what you might call wow factor. Sometimes, but rarely, a song is so good you love it instantly. It was lucky to have stumbled on the band's best song first, but Camera Obscura have many other gems. Tracyanne Campbell's literate, wistful lyrics are complemented by memorable melodies, particularly on the first and third albums.

Time for a great segue, from eighties fan to eighties band. The Chameleons are one of those bands who had little success but have been very influential. The Editors, in particular, should be paying Mark Burgess royalties. Burgess is one of my favourite people in rock. A friend of mine, B, had a rough breakup when in his teens. His gf, his first serious one, copped off with his best mate, losing him both. He was suicidally depressed for a couple of months. In the end, he wrote to Burgess, which shows the unbalanced place he was at, I suppose. Burgess might have been expected to send back a signed photo or a curt note. But he didn't. He sent a three-page letter, telling B about hard times in his romantic life, how he'd been knocked down and got back up, and about a ton of other things that Burgess felt might help B.

Anyway, whenever I listen to Second skin, or any other of Burgess's deeply human, warm and wonderful songs, I am reminded that he is for real, and when a fan in distress reached out to him, he was big enough to reach back.

Given my age, it shouldn't be a surprise that many of my favourite songs come from the eighties. Not only were my teens and early twenties -- the time you form your music taste, I think -- in that decade, but for most of the decade, popular music was just great. Punk redefined what was possible in music, sweeping away the (narrow) notion that technical proficiency was what made music good and replacing it with the (broader) idea that creativity and energy count for more in popular music. Why do I think that's a broader concept? Because the former idea was invented by people who wanted to make music a closed shop on the one hand, and people who wanted to exclude others from criticising it on the other. If one insists that an artform is technical, only those who understand the technique can criticise it. (A lesson for theminotaur in there: I'll leave it to him to figure out what it is.) This also allows the proficient, or those who understand well what proficiency is, to mystify those who are not or don't by discussing something that the latter respond to in a much more basic way than the connoisseurs. (Another lesson for theminotaur there: dude, your stance on movies is exactly that of those who claimed that prog was superior to punk because the proggers could play their instruments. Yeah, they could, but popular music doesn't have to be about that, just as movies do not have to be high art to be good.)

Anyway, that's a long way of saying that Rolling moon by the Chills is next. I don't know whether Ruth from NZ still reads this blog, or whether, if she does, she would have made it this far through this post, but I daresay she'd agree that the Chills are the best thing in music ever to come out of NZ. At the time, there were a bunch of bands, mostly from Dunedin I think, who made scratchy, clever pop. The Chills were the best, mostly because of Martin Phillipps' gift for melody and nice turn of phrase.

Rolling moon comes and goes all of a rush, and so does The skin of my yellow country teeth, the standout track from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's first album. I swear, if you play this one in the car, you'll be bouncing up and down in your seat like a lunatic. I understand that some find Ounsworth's voice hard to live with, but it does grow on you -- who couldn't grow to love a lunatic David Byrne?

After these belting rockers, you need a change of pace, so it's time for pure pop (quite by chance, because these are in alpha order, not sequenced to make any sense). Erlend Oye is half of Kings of Convenience, who make Simon and Garfunkel-style folk and do it well. Oye himself made a poppier album that showed off his love of electronics and his engaging singing voice (he rarely sings for KoC, but he features on Hey Leno on Royksopp's first album). So engaging is the voice that he employs it when he DJs, singing over the top of tracks, usually the lyrics of favourite songs (as in his rendition of Fine Day). The black keys work is on his DJ kicks album (one of the series of that name); it's an original and a belter. It makes me think of Coles supermarket, because whenever it plays on my iPod there, I secretly feel superior to the other shoppers, because I have this great music, and they have muzak. They probably prefer the muzak though.


It has been raining here for a week. Zenella loves the rain because it means her tennis lessons are called off. She hates learning tennis but I won't let her quit.

I think it is, to some extent at least, the role of a parent to be their child's scourge. We are cursed with knowing the rewards, whereas they can only see what they have to sacrifice. More importantly, we know how much the older them will appreciate the rewards.

When I was a teen, my mother would say, as many mothers do, it doesn't matter what you do with your life so long as you're happy. The problem is, most teens are happy being indolent, and they imagine they'll be just as happy doing nothing in 20 years.

Wrong. It soon wears on you in truth, and you start wishing you had a challenging job or money to spend on having fun. Being a copy editor is not challenging -- a monkey could do it, and given some of the other editors' work that I see, I suspect more than one does -- and it is not well paid. I make a decent hourly wage but a doctor would not get out of bed for it. It's not very glamorous either. You are simply never going to impress women with the correct use of gerunds. At least I don't think so. Who knows? Maybe it is the key to your getting laid? (The joke in there is of course lost on everyone but the copy editors among us.)


Having rejoiced in the blowing away of prog, I have come full circle and am now a devoted fan of post-rock, which is largely prog in an updated idiom. Sort of. Explosions in the Sky don't really noodle in the same way Yes did. Like most post-rockers they play quiet, gentle instrumental rock that explodes (kof) into loud riffing on more or less the same theme. It's one of those types of music, I think, that either flicks your switch or not. I suppose it can be thought of as the new prog because it's musicianly and serious, and sort of aimless in the same way as some prog. You could equally well think of it as ambient rock though, particularly a reflective track such as Six days at the bottom of the ocean. I chose it rather than other great EITS tracks such as With tired eyes... because it has this fantastic passage where it grinds to a halt and is reborn in a lovely, delicate figure that goes on to soar. But they have made three albums of such consistent quality that it's really hard to pick one track.

Less consistent are Interpol. The new album, Our love to admire, has some great, some not so great songs, including Wrecking ball. Which just belts it out of the park for me. I'm a sucker for songs that build up and end with a prolonged instrumental passage, and Wrecking ball's is quite lovely. Interpol are often compared with Joy Division, whom they sound nothing like at all, but their lyrics are rarely in the same mould. Banks writes about sex, mostly, and drugs. But Wrecking ball hints at the same dark core that fuelled Curtis.

Talking of whom (I know, I should be a mobile DJ with segues this awesome), one of my favourite JD songs is Dead souls. No particular reason; I just love the crunching riff and the lyrics, which are, as so often for Curtis, about something and nothing. Something and nothing is okay by me, so long as you can sing along with it, because popular music is much more about music than lyrics, and the voice is just one more instrument more often than not. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate a clever, well-written lyric; I just won't hate a song if it lacks one.

One that does have a great lyric is The great dominion by The Teardrop Explodes (which is out of alpha order, the more anal might have spotted, because I ripped it from a Julian Cope retrospective). Copey is one of music's great eccentrics, as well as one of its great talents; mostly ignored like all great prophets of course, but nevertheless a brilliant songwriter and lyricist when he's in the mood (and not too fucked on whatever he's fucked on this week). And who doesn't feel like a small boy in a pickle jar on a paper carpet from time to time?


Although I was proud of myself for attending the last British meetup and approaching strangers in a way that is very not me, I have not been to the other meetups I'm a member of. I keep coming up with great excuses: the flu, tiredness, children. Naturally, the real reason is that I'm a pussy. I hate meeting new people.

I don't hate having new people in my life. Far from it. I simply hate meeting them for the first time. I have often thought about why this is, because it's not at all rational. I don't think I'm that bad a person to meet, although I'm quite gauche, and when you know me, I have plenty to say for myself.

I think it is to do with empowerment. I'm sure I've blogged this before, but I've been thinking about it. I have no problem meeting people when I can do so in a role. When I am "Zenella's dad" or "guy buying chips in a shop", I have no problem approaching strangers. It's when I don't know what role I should be playing.

Yes, I know. "Stranger". But I don't know what that is, what it consists in, how I should play it. None of that should worry me, of course, but it does. I do not know why. I'm scared of embarrassment but smart enough to know that embarrassment doesn't matter, wouldn't matter to me, and also smart enough to know that most other people have the same fears as I do, but manage.

I suppose I fear that I will go to the meetup and try hard to be personable but no one will like me. I recognise the need to be liked as a motivating force in my life, and being liked as empowering, allowing me to be myself (just as a role empowers me by allowing me not to be myself) and I know that if I am too afraid of not being liked, I might do something else, empower myself in another way.

More than once, someone I've trolled has said boo hoo, you wouldn't do that "in real life", if we were in a pub. But they are wrong. I'm not mean to people on the web because I lack something in real life. I'm mean to them because I like it. I am empowered by being freer than they are. And I wouldn't be afraid to call them a cunt to their face. The truth is, they are less likely to be a cunt! People are far more aware in real life that they cannot set the boundaries themselves, that they cannot even try to restrict others, and that if they don't like it, their best option really is to fuck off.

Not that I'm not cowardly. Just not in that way.


Dance music has, it's fair to say, meandered a bit in the past few years. It has lost a lot of its spark. Maybe I feel that way because I'm too old for dancing; and maybe anyway I only ever liked dance music that had a bit more side, was a bit deeper. So my record collection has plenty of dance music that you can't dance to, and not so much dancefloor stuff. I've liked drumnbass since back in the day, and there's none better than Klute. His dnb is techno flavoured (he has released three double albums that have featured one disc of dnb, one of dark techno) and inventive. Song seller features a magical female vocal -- no idea where it's from -- and a straightahead beat, almost trancey I suppose.

Before all of that though, there was Kraftwerk. I can't claim to have been a fan since day one (because I was a preschooler when they began their career) but I have been since I first heard them in the late seventies. I was blown away by how different they were from everything else. They seemed to fit alongside punk: like the punks, their ethos was antimusical (you don't need to be technically proficient to create music on a synthesiser), yet deeply musical (because even so they were technical to the max). I suppose you can place them somewhere in the krautrock scene -- but I couldn't then, because I had no knowledge of it. Even now, I find it hard to think of Kraftwerk and Can or Neu being part of the same genre. Computer love stands out for its sweet melody (butchered by Coldplay in the execrable Talk), but what is not often noted is that Kraftwerk's lyrics are often arch, drily humorous. It's very close between this one and Neon lights, which is just crystalline in its perfection. What sets Kraftwerk apart is that they embraced the roboticism of industrialised music, yet had such a wonderful talent for melody that they made their long journeys into sound quite beautiful and rewarding. Great stoner music, in case you were looking for some.

More organic (and probably in need of stoner music) are Mazzy Star, whose fragile Americana has featured on this blog more than once. Halah is one of the songs here that actually would make my top ten, if I was forced to make one. It is just the perfect breakup song. If you don't love this, by the way, I can never love you. I really mean that. I'd have to consider you unloveable. It'd be like seeing the Taj Mahal and going, oh, it's just a building.

An observant reader will have noted that the post-rock content has so far been low, and here we are at M. Which means Mogwai and Mono. All new post-rock bands are compared with either Mogwai or Godspeed! You Black Emperor (although few actually compare particularly closely with either). Mogwai are in the quiet-loud-quiet camp, and GYBE are more your long song-within-song-within-song exponents (so that one song will be composed of maybe six different segments, each segment quieter or louder). Mono are a Mogwai-type band, you could say, although you would never mistake one for the other. Where Mogwai are modernists -- futurists almost -- Mono are Romantics. Particularly on the new album, You are there, which features Are you there? (cunning, these Japanese!), which is simply beautiful, a lazy, lovely riff that builds into a stunning crescendo, relaxes and fades away. It's recorded by Steve Albini, and by gum, you can hear it. Albini is a genius at capturing sound faithfully, which makes him the best guy for loud rock. Nothing is lost in his work, no matter how much is piled on, stuffed in, you can distinguish it all. The Mogwai track I chose was 2 rights make a wrong, mostly because it has a fantastic banjo break (I am not kidding) that is strongly reminiscent of the recurring theme in Once upon a time in the West (which I will risk my commenters' ire by stating is my favourite western and not far off my favourite film).


Our friends D and E have finished their world tour and are now back in London. In Sydenham. I wouldn't mind being in Sydenham. There are nicer places, but it would be realler than southeast Brisbane.

It's something I struggle with. It just doesn't look like anywhere to me. It doesn't look real. I think it's the lack of people as much as anything. It's all cars here.

I hate cars. I have a longstanding belief that I will die in a car crash, and I can't shake the feeling that I would avoid my fate easiest by simply never getting into a car again. I could do that if I lived in Sydenham, but it's impossible here. I drive every day. It's a bit weird, because until I was a bit shy of *mumbles*, I didn't have a licence.

I miss the Smegma though. It felt like mine. The other car is Mrs Zen's. The kids even call it "mummy's car". Whenever we drive past the workshop in Newnham Rd (which is every time we go to the twins' preschool), Naughtyman shouts "it's the workshop, where's daddy's car?".

Daddy's car has been crushed into a cube, son. That's another metaphor for something but I don't know what.


Any top ten must have New Order. That's a rule, actually. Unless it's top ten chicks with enormous tits, and even then, they should do the music. My top ten could all be New Order, of course, so picking just one song was impossible. So I went for one rocky and one more poppy. Rocky is As it is when it was, which is my favourite song of all. Well, sometimes it is.

A secret ambition of mine, which I can share because no one is reading this, is to have a film made of one of my books (yes, I do know there has to be a book first) and include As it is when it was in the soundtrack. I mean, I will refuse to sign the contract unless it's agreed that there will be a scene in which the hero drives into the sunset with As it is when it was playing.

If they sneaked in Everyone everywhere as well, I'd probably die on the spot. I love that song. No particular reason. It's just a sweet pop song about love and stuff. It reminds me of summer. Not the sweltering nightmare that goes by that name here, but those wonderful days of late July, when we all go to the park or the beach and throw off our clothes, sigh and wish that this day, this afternoon, this moment could last forever. It's a song to sip Pimms to.

I once watched the Psychedelic Furs at Glastonbury. I have no idea whether they were any good, because I dropped a tab and it all went disjointed. I remember that Richard Butler was sixty feet tall and wore a coat made entirely of coloured lightbulbs, but I can't remember his actually singing. If he did, maybe he did So run down, and maybe not, because it's only an album track. Well, let's face it, I might as well have it as part of my memory that they did that one. They don't mix: acid and rock concerts, whatever people say, they don't. I once went with a friend to watch the Spin Doctors (her choice, not mine) at the Brixton Academy and scored in a pub nearby. Now I know that some rock bands like to do that solo thing: you know, here's Jerry on drums, and Jerry plays a roll or two; here's Bill on the bass, and he does a couple of runs up and down. But I'm pretty sure that no band does that for the whole fucking show. Not that I minded.

Sometimes you hear a song and think, that is x. I mean, it makes you think of x. X might be a place, a time, an image, whatever, but sometimes it is a person. And sometimes that song becomes the song that belongs to that person. If you mean anything to me, you probably have a song. (Except for Naughtyman, he has none yet.) Vapour trail is Zenella's song. Maybe it's the lovely melody, the dreamy instrumental coda, or the lyrics, which express the impossibility of expressing love. Yeah, and maybe it's because it's just such a spanking good song.

There has to be Shins, of course, and it has to be Saint Simon. If you don't know why, go and find it, then you will. If you still don't know why, this is me sorrowfully shaking my head. There's no hope for you.

After punk had cleared the air, the stage was set for a lot of talented, creative people to make great records. What came after punk was a lot of fantastic music, extremely fresh, innovative, without fear. The first wave of post-punk was surfed by Wire -- whose first album was among the first to be punk without being punk (I'm not sure that makes sense, but I know what I mean!). That album features a ton of great songs, none better than Fragile, which is S's song, as it happens. Check out the lyrics. More power, more accuracy in one song than sad bastards like Boner Vox achieve in a lifetime.

Last and far from least is Stockholm syndrome by Yo La Tengo. There are relatively few American bands in my top ten. This isn't because of any cultural bias; I have tons of records by American bands, some of which I like a lot. I think it's because most of my favourites are postpunk in one way or another and America really missed the boat on that. They were all still into Toto or making hardcore, some of which I liked, but it hasn't endured. To be a top-tenner, you must be inventive, beatiful, and, I suppose, have a great hook. This song does. It's just lovely. I never tire of it.

But I've tired of this post. It's my whole spring in about seventeen thousand words.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thrillin' Dylan... it's terrifying!

If you want bullshit -- and go on, you do, you do -- where better to look for it than the film world?

Check this out. It's a feast of bullshit. Enjoy Todd Haynes:

"Cate was scared; she told me many times that this was a very scary challenge for her. It took her a long time to commit to it ..."

That's preposterous. She was scared? What of? Public ridicule? Bad reviews? Fucking up? What?

Blanchett is one of our more precious acting talents. In interview after interview she explains how pretending to be other people and being paid a shitload of money for it "terrifies" her. Yes, dear, it would scare the shit out of me too. Imagine! I get to ponce around for weeks on end and someone gives me a million bucks for it. I get lavished with attention, fawned over and adored by millions. Sounds positively terrifying!

Critics in Venice have been astonished by Blanchett's performance.

Film critics are idiots though. They are "astonished" by the lint in their own navels, so you'd expect a woman pretending to be a man to enrapture them.

Blanchett is a decent actor, but way overrated by the critics. Take Notes on a scandal for an example. She was pretty good for the first hour, but went way off it in the last act. Playing a middle-class, selfish woman, no problem -- a bit like me playing a *mumbles* suburban man, I suppose -- but playing someone genuinely affected by a life crisis, struggling with high emotion, oh dear.

Yesterday Haynes said "Jude", the representation of Dylan in the mid-60s when he was becoming an international star and shocked folk followers by going electric, was always meant to be played by a woman. "I felt it was the only way to resurrect the true strangeness of Dylan's physical being in 1966, which I felt had lost its historical shock value over the years," he told reporters.

What teh fuck? And you expect us to watch your film?

How wrong can you be? Dylan was, and is, utterly ordinary physically. I don't think anyone has ever commented on it in that way before. Haynes has completely invented the idea. He shocked folk followers not because he's an elf, but because he went electric and upset the purists. The discussion was purely about the music. Which it has been just about always about Dylan.

Gere described the script as "bizarre" but said he jumped at the chance to be involved. "I think Dylan is probably the only artist in our time who will still be considered 200 or 300 years from now. It's not Picasso, it's Bob Dylan," he said. "No one has had more effect on the world of art."

You are shitting me.

Just so we're clear, that's Pablo Picasso, who revolutionised the world of art, yes? Picasso, who invented whole new ways of looking at the world and the things in it?

And Bob Dylan, responsible for Lloyd Cole?

He didn't invent protest singing. It was already an established genre. He didn't revolutionise singer/songwriting, and narrative lyrics had been around for thousands of years before him. He had some influence, true, but the only artist who will be remembered in 200 years?

Dude, he's a footnote today! Just about no one who is anyone in music notes him as an influence. He has some devoted fans, but man, so does Enya.

Haynes said of its unusual structure: "The way we look back on our own lives is in fragments. Music is a way that we do time travel, that unlocks moments in our past. The best and most enjoyable way to watch the film is to let it wash over you like a dream."

Wrong, trivially true, and wrong again.

We look back on our own lives as though they were coherent narratives, not as collections of fragments. We take a linear view, that one thing led to another, and we generally find artforms satisfying that are also linear. Because we're wired that way. Dude, you made this film in the way you did because you weren't capable of creating a convincing biopic. How many art films are like that? Complicated for the sake of it, incoherent, boring. The other day I watched Brick, which was touted as the best thing since Donnie Darko. But Donnie Darko had a linear structure and was brilliant because it put a twist on that structure. Brick was just incomprehensible. It probably would have helped if I was less stoned when I watched it than the makers were when they made it, but even so, it was poor stuff. I know this film will be too. The only thing Haynes has right is that music can unlock moments in our past -- but I don't think that it "unlocks" protests or the Vietnam war; rather, it brings back to us moments of our own, much more personal and intimate than he suggests. And I am thinking that the most enjoyable way to watch the film is going to be to get someone else to do it.

The look of labour

I enjoy reading Lawyers, Guns and Money, but occasionally they post some utter shit and this, about Binsi clothes, reeks.

It is absolute fucking nonsense. Caring about how you look is not "sexualising" yourself necessarily, and I can't see that this product is about that in any case.

Jeezus, if a man said "women pretty themselves up because they want to be attractive to men", the same people would be yelling "sexist pig" because, as women often remind us, they pretty themselves up for their own sakes.

So we are having it both ways! As usual. So long as men are somehow the villains, who gives a fuck whether your critique is coherent? (As it happens, I believe the feminist critique is correct, and women do not pretty themselves up for their own sakes at all, but because they have been indoctrinated in a system of thought that has it that they are obliged to look good.)

But nearly all the testimonials, and the FAQ, stress comfort and practicality. There is very little about how you look. But how things actually are has never prevented a radical feminist from viewing them through a lens of manhate.

Anyway, my wife hated giving birth the first time round. She wore a hospital gown and it flopped open, and she was embarrassed to be naked in front of a small crowd of medical staff. I know they don't care, and of course she knows it too, but it's not about what they care about. It was uncomfortable and bothered her a lot. It added distress to what was already a distressing experience. (My wife found the beauty of childbirth a little sullied by its really hurting.) I think she would have preferred to wear something like this Binsi stuff, although she wouldn't pay a hundred bucks for it.

Poster bean writes this in the comments:

While these clothes are in large part concerned with comfort, they also seem to be connecting women's confidence to looks -- a connection I would like to undermine, and one which is, I think, inevitably gendered and sexualizing/ed.

Erm, why?

We are "gendered", sister. I'm a boy and you're a girl. I agree that we don't have to accept traditional definitions of what that means, and we do not need to create lopsided structures that reward one but not the other, but I do not see why our equality must imply our equivalence.

I don't think women's confidence should rely on their looks, but I also don't have any problem at all with our world being "sexualised". Sex is ultra important to us. It drives us, moulds us, informs our lives to a huge degree. This is not just because we have "gendered" our world. It is part of who and what we are.

And we do "objectify" one another. My kids think of me as "daddy". They don't care so much about my thoughts and feelings about the world. They don't relate to me intellectually. They care about who I am to them. Their dad.

I don't think it's even close to possible for human beings to stop doing that, to stop thinking of people as what they are to you, at least to some extent. Would it even be desirable? How would our world be?

This last is the question I always ask when confronted with a worldview, a way of thinking: how would our world be if you had your way? How would it be if we viewed each other entirely neutrally? If we didn't "sexualise" or "objectify" each other?

(Well, of course it's impossible. I don't believe there is a man alive -- I simply do not believe it -- who looks at whatever he fucks, men, women, children, animals, whatever -- without thinking "yes" or "no" at some level. I'm not saying it predominates in how men think about others -- far from it for most of us; I'm saying that it is part of the picture.

Maybe it's only me! I do accept the possibility that other men are not ravening, sexist beasts, and are quite capable of not thinking about fucking. I don't believe it, but I do believe it's possible. I've never met one, but I haven't met everybody yet. And I don't see what's wrong with it. It's not the basis for a judgement, any more than thinking "she's got brown hair" or even "she dyes her hair" is. The latter strikes me as a far more intrusive thought.

Is it a rupture of the person's privacy? Hm. See, I would have thought that the bare thought, I'd fuck her, is not, but fantasising about it may be. It's where you take the thought, not the thought, in my view. If you allowed it to influence how you treated a person, I think that is a problem. But I compare it with this: sometimes when I am on a bus or train, a couple of black men or women might get on. So I might see them and think, I wonder where they're from. I wonder whether they're from somewhere I've been, and I wonder what they think of Brisbane in comparison. I try to imagine the disjunction.

I can only do this because they look African. I have "objectified" them by making them part of a group. And I have speculated about their lives, intruding on their privacy in the same way as fantasising about fucking my nextdoor neighbour. But can you see harm in what I do to the "Africans" (they aren't necessarily African at all of course)? Even if I was interviewing them for a job, it wouldn't affect how I interviewed them, and wouldn't be a consideration in the hiring decision.)

I think I would hate it. We'd all have to wear boiler suits and have buzzcuts, so that our clothes and hair didn't create "sexualised" differences. There would be no flirting, no interplay. We would become attracted to each other purely as an intellectual thing, and would sign contracts of partnership -- if partnership survived this world, which I can't really see how it would -- before we could progress to sex. We would have to be careful not to think that sex was enjoyable as a consequence of liking the other's difference. (Bisexuality, it should be obvious, would be the norm, although it would no longer exist as a concept.)

I'm exaggerating, but I think that too often the beans of this world make critiques that suffer from incoherency simply because they strictly apply a framework that suffices for explaining what you do not like, and includes some of what you do, but is too crudely drawn for a messy world. For instance, Bean doesn't like that sexist bosses hire pretty girls before they hire ugly ones, and neither do I; so her framework requires that we do not objectify each other, because the wrong she sees is an outcome of that. But not all outcomes are equally bad, and a thing is not in itself bad just because some of its outcomes are bad. So I don't see a problem with our attracting each other, because the problem is not that, but where we take it.

More importantly, and this is why I mentioned Mrs Zen's experience, it is not that "a woman still has to worry about her appearance when pushing a bowling ball through her vagina", but that they do. No one forced Mrs Zen to be embarrassed about her gown flopping open. It's not an outcome of a "sexualised" society. I assure you, Mrs Zen was not thinking about how sexy she was or wasn't, or about sex at all. Bean only allows that our behaviour is an outcome of the conceptual frame we live in, not an outcome of that frame refracted by our own selves, so that she has us as helpless puppets of concepts that rule our lives, while I believe that the concepts she wishes destroyed exist but are not straightforwardly reflected in our behaviour or attitudes, and of course, I do not see them as black and white, all wrong or all right.

And when bean concludes
what hope is there for us to escape an appearance-focused sexualizing and objectifying society?

I say, none at all. Thank fuck.