Grammarians divide quite neatly into two types. Prescriptivists focus on how language should be
spoken or more usually written; descriptivists on how it is
written. Descriptivists have the advantage that time proves them right: languages shift in usage because people use words in different ways; prescriptivists have the advantage of being (a little) useful, in that they can help bring clarity to communication. Words are negotiations between speaker and listener, writer and reader. I encode a message and you decode it. The meaning you derive may or may not coincide with the one I intended. Fixing meaning -- fixing usage -- can aid that process of negotiation, in an obvious way.
I am a descriptivist, as are most people with training in linguistics but few editors, who tend to mistake house style guides for commandments from above rather than the prejudgements of difficult-to-negotiate words that they really are. However, descriptivists might be permissive, but they still have a notion of right and wrong. "Correctness" in usage surely means -- if it means anything -- broadness of use. If most people mean a certain thing when they say a word, that's what that word means. It's possible to frame notions such as agreement in number by this metric (although it's a lot easier simply to say that it's mandatory in English without discussing why). Plural nouns agree with plural verbs in English because most people make them agree. Language is pretty much "democratic" in this sense: if you are in a minority, you are wrong, and the smaller the minority, the wronger you are. It's clear, or should be, that there will be a spectrum of "wrongness" (or spectra, because what is wrong in one context or for one group is often correct for another: so it is "wrong" to write "color" in English but correct to do so in American English). There are reasons to weight the "votes", of course, so that if the usages favoured by the better educated, or newspapers, or similar sources that use language in particular ways, are not more correct, they are felt to be by most speakers. An example of this spectrum: using "thus" to mean "because of this" is only slightly wrong (probably a minority of writers use the "correct" usage and it's only the weightedness that pushes it into "correctness"); but using "the dog are barking" is as wrong as you can get in standard English, spelling errors aside.
I don't think that an extreme descriptivism works. In this
post, a descriptivist misanalyses a speech act. Let's deal first with the misanalysis.
If you look to the right, Treasure Island's having their show right now.
"their" is not used because "Treasure Island" has indeterminate gender but because collective entities are often used with a plural verb by English speakers. This happens even in sentences that have already displayed correct agreement. It's a simple outcome of confusion over whether entities that are aggregations of people should be treated as plurals or singulars. (I noted this in a previous post, which I can't find, but "Treasure Island" can be compared with "the crowd" or "the committee".)
Even if this analysis were correct though, I do not see how finding one
example of a usage makes that usage correct. If every other speaker of a language denies it as a correct usage, how can one person's usage be elevated to the status of the other billion's?
In any case, for inanimates, there is a readymade alternative to he and she where gender is not known, and the speaker would, by this analysis, be considered wrong by nearly all speakers of English not to have used it. It's it.
I use the singular they, and in my view it's the best candidate for the nongender-specific pronoun. But is it a good substitute for "it"? No, I don't think so.
Sound of silver
I bought a couple of new albums at the weekend. One was the Arctic Monkeys' new one, the followup to their enormous debut. Like the first record, this one is uneven. At its best -- Fluorescent adolescent, Do me a favour, 505 -- it's a perfect blend of urban poetry and guitar racket. At its worst -- This house is a circus, Teddy picker -- it's indulgent, samey-same Brit indie. And that's bad. The world simply doesn't need the Libertines or their many imitators.
But it does need LCD Soundsystem, whose Sound of Silver takes up the ball from his debut and hits it out of the park. The slightly gimmicky feel of LCD soundsystem -- by which I'm thinking of tracks such as Daft Punk is playing at my house and Disco infiltrator -- although it made for great, fun songs, didn't make for music with lasting impact. It's only really in evidence on North American scum, which is one of the weaker songs here, eclipsed by Someone great
and All my friends, which show a new depth that takes this album that notch higher. Someone great is a lovely meditation on loss that had echoes of the Human League (which is no bad thing, because few have matched their brilliant pop) and All my friends an electronic Dandy Warhols-alike (albeit ten times better than anything they managed). James Murphy is renowned for his love of analog, and that's made him very much of his time, because of course, analog -- or "analogalike", you could say, given that most electropop groups will be using digital technology -- has become the plat du jour. It's rather as though someone noticed that even the simplest eighties electropop -- the League, OMD, Yazoo -- had a big sound.
Murphy does not indulge in too much of the punk rock that informed some of LCD soundsystem, which is a blessing, because although Movement is a decent track, he's just much better when he's leaning more to the new wave than the no wave. And Sound of silver is nothing if not a great new wave album. The production is too 2007 for this to have been made in 1981 but otherwise, ethos and feel point to the early eighties. And that's no bad thing. Music seemed to have possibilities then.
Nerds with big record collections will enjoy spotting the quotes and ideas in this record but those of us who just really love good pop music will recognise this for the diamond it is. Hey, it's begging for this signoff, so here it is: Sound of silver is pure gold. Bank it!
What happens to a country where the population prefers the peace and stability of an Islamist government to the utter chaos of free-market-loving warlords' fighting it out?
America saddles up its posse and a lot of civilians get killed.
It's an object lesson for Muslims: do it the American way or the shelling never stops
When rightists whine that the third world hates the States because it is envious of American freedoms, it is right. The third world envies Americans their freedom from being murdered. The third world envies Americans the freedom to live in peace and security without soldiers of other countries bombing your home.
Americans often like to say that us Europeans should not despise them because they helped us defeat Hitler. We owe them, they say, and we owe them double for standing firm against the Soviets. They feel that the justice of their cause in that war should blind us to their absolute lack of it in every other of the many wars they or their proxies have fought since.
Well, yeah, I say, thank you America. Thank you and now fuck off.
No more about S
S said do not write to me any more and of course that felt bad. I had been trying to help but she didn't like my methods. I knew she wouldn't like my methods but doing what she likes wouldn't have helped her. So I ask myself, should I have stuck to doing what she liked so that she would still love me? But I can't help answering, no, because if you stick to doing what people like, they don't love you, they love your doing what they like.
But what's the difference? Am I anything other than the things I choose to do (or don't choose to do if they are things I just do without thinking or choosing at all, but we are not looking at those things here, because I think that after all, you can make up for the things you can't control by applying the things you can)? I feel as though I am, so I could say I'm something other to me, but to other people, well, I'm not so sure.
It is the worst thing about me that I'm aware of, that I am perfectly able to pretend but I choose honesty. I know, it's supposed to be a virtue, but is anything virtuous that hurts others?
Why was I trying to help her? In the broadest sense, I was doing it because I want to help people. I'm only able to do it in my own idiom, and that doesn't mean I give all my money to charity (it's dubious what help that is in a lot of cases, given how little some charities actually achieve), nor do I volunteer a lot of my time in helpful ways. I suppose I need a connection to begin with. Maybe I just need to feel my volunteering is wanted -- mine personally, not just that of any avaiable warm body -- because I rarely feel better than when I'm doing something for someone else. In the narrower sense, I was doing it because she has gone badly off the rails, if she was ever on them. I wanted to rescue her. Believe me, if I have ever met someone in need of being rescued, S is it. Or pretends to be it.
Well, maybe having an oaf like me ride to your rescue is not something she enjoys, or anyone would enjoy.
And maybe that wasn't what I was doing. Maybe I just wanted the old S back. Maybe I just wanted the boring, one-note specimen that she had sent instead of the lively, engaging, wonderful person I had known to disappear.
Wrapped up in that is that I never believed she was the real thing. I believed she was a pupa, which could become a butterfly if circumstances allowed. But she wrapped her cocoon tighter, to the point where it seems suffocating, a cage rather than a step on the way to something better.
I could easily fix my marriage. I mean that I could easily fix it for Mrs Zen. I do sometimes think about why I won't. What difference would it make for me? Would the gain in happiness, which I would surely make, outweigh having to lie to achieve it? It wouldn't feel right either, but my life already doesn't feel right. What difference would it make what makes it wrong? Perhaps I should look at it less selfishly, because it would certainly be better for my children if I made a better job of being married. Are children better served by lies if they make a better world for them than they are by the truth if that is painful? I think I have always found it hard to accept that the truth should not bring life's rewards.
Things are clearer with S. It's probably just as easy to fix my relationship with her. I mean, we could be friends. But I don't want to. Again, I only mean that I could fix it for her. And there is just no point to that. Friendship doesn't really work when it's a oneway street in the same way that marriage does. Yeah, I'd be a great friend for her to have. But what is in that for me? I have three children. I don't need another needy, demanding person who feels no obligation to give anything back in my life.
S said write no more and I won't. Not to her or about her. She is no more than the scent of perfume in a room she has long left, and I have never liked perfume on a woman anyway. I shut the door behind her and open the window. Soon the scent is gone, and the fresh air comes in to clear my head.
Faced with a blank sheet.
But I don't have anything to say. Or I do have things to say but I don't have anyone to say them to. Or I do have people to say them to but not the people I want to read them.
And I want lots of people to read what I have to say but when I think about the lots of people reading what I have to say, I start thinking I would have nothing to say if they were reading.
I am feeling sad. And I know that if I write that I feel sad, I might get an email from one of the people who cares that I'm sad, but no one can help me. My sadness just will not touch anyone who can help me not feel sad.
I am feeling sad about all the things I lack and I cannot feel happy about all the things I have. And that is wrong but I can't fix it. The more I want to fix it, the worse it becomes. I am stuck in a spiral and there isn't a way out. I am feeling sad because my life will not be a monument and it could have been. It will be a stone in others' path and it could have been a lot more. This is what I think about all the time right now, if I think at all.
I am feeling sad about the things I lack and they are all about my powerlessness to change things. I am not very good at making people care about what I want (which is power defined) and that is my problem. I know that it's a selfcentred, narcissist way to look at things. I know but it's how I feel and another thing I lack is the ability to change from the ground up how I feel.
I am feeling sad because I'm *mumbles* and I should have a full book but I have page after page of false starts, corrupted text, ramblings. None of it makes much sense. I have no idea what I was doing or why.
A blank sheet would mean I could remake myself. But how do you do that when you are already made?
Most people in this world seem to fit. They seem to know where they are, who they are and why. I am envious of men with guns, who know what's worth fighting for. I am envious of women with important jobs, who feel valued. I am envious of "high net worth" individuals. I am envious of people who do not have to edit books on information systems, who do not have to worry where their next job is coming from, who have farmhouses, holiday villas, nice cars, ideas about fashion, friends, drugs, love, money. I am envious of everyone who is anyone, and of most others who aren't anyone at all.
I am not having a good morning. I never do.
What else is there to say? This either upsets you or it doesn't. If it doesn't, you simply hate other people. You'd probably welcome a return to the days of slavery, so long as you weren't one. (Crush that feeble Rawlsian thought! Fans of rampant capitalism are benefiting from it, not suffering, so they have no notion that it can do bad. Hey, if it's good for me, what's the problem?)
You don't think about this when you're arguing for no minimum wage because "business would suffer". I say, fuck business. If it's not in the business of improving people's lives, I do not support it.
Meanwhile, we break our promises to the poor
. This is not how we fix our world! We do not end terrorism by bombing the poor. We do not end economic migration by building walls to keep the poor out.
What upsets me far more than the ugly expression of greed is that the right's answers are so fucking stupid. We have allowed the stupid to take the reins, and what does that make us?
The problem with fighting Al Qaida on the grounds of ideology is that their ideology is reasoned (even if you do not agree that it is reasonable). Its critique of Islam and of the West is based on principles that are sound and in many ways decent. And we are such easy targets: hollow, stupid, greedy people, who can't think past the next dollar. A person who runs, invests in, does not legislate against, supports a vulture fund is an enemy of mankind, my enemy. Instead of fighting a war on terror, we need a war on greed.
Fat fucking chance! We'll drown first, in the rising seas our greed is buying.
You know that guy in the street, the one howling in anguish, crying out "you're all mad", convinced that the world is crazy and he's the last bastion of sanity?Marie Jon'
is that man, but more sexy. (And what could be sexier than that trailing apostrophe. It hints of forbidden fruits, worlds undiscovered. What has been elided? What is missing? Was she a plain Jones? A Jonson? Who can say?)
Marie is living in a world in which Dubya Bush is a decent man and the Democrats are, if not Satan, flies that he is lord of.
Marie offers as her opening gambit:
The far Left Democrats and their constituents sound unhinged and psychotic
Nothing says "I'm an astute commentator" like "the far Left Democrats". Yeah, those Dems, they are practically the Bolsheviks of our day. That Hillary Clinton! Lenin in a cocktail dress. And the unhinged nonsense those loony lefties come up with! "Healthcare should be available universally." "Education is important." "Invading other countries for their oil and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their inhabitants are bad things." The bastids! Thank sweet Jeebus that Marie's here to chastise them.
this has become increasingly apparent.
Hasn't it though!
Only those affiliated with that political party are the ones continually spewing the most hostile mean-spirited rhetoric.
Maybe they're all being fed mean-spirited rhetoric by Harry Reid through the microchips in their commie heads, eh, Marie?
Anyway, the Dems and their "affiliates" sound a bad bunch. Is anyone else insane?
The very same mindset (schizophrenia) abounds within the "main scream media."
The mental wards are going to get pretty full when Marie's running the place. All those damned "mainscreamers" expressing their first-amendment rights and telling us that we're turning a corner and the surge is work^H^H^Hsuggesting that a neverending war in Iraq and a fresh one in Iran might not be the best ideas man has ever had.
Is no one sane?
It also emanates from within the legislative halls of our country.
OMFG! No! It's like a creeping sickness.
Is there not one
sane voice out there?
Say what, Marie? Isn't Coulter a screeching harpy, who wishes death on those enemies she isn't claiming have been hit with Teh Gaystick?
She is a good woman whom I believe holds no malice toward anyone.
Except perhaps the journalists of the New York Times
Maybe I'm just not getting it. Marie explains:
Christians are allowed to be funny as well as controversial. "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Ah! That's fair enough then. It's okay to wish someone blown to pieces so long as you do it with a smile on your face. No wonder Dubya's always smirking.
But those nasty liberals don't have a smile on their dials, do they?
They are out and out bombastic, hateful and unhinged people who give the impression of being truly unbalanced.
Well, have you ever seen Nancy Pelosi smile?
Marie explains that commenters on Huffington Post made some slightly offcolour remarks about Tony Snow, when it was announced that he had cancer of the weasel^H^H^Karl Ro^H^H^H^colon.
Marie gives much more incisive commentary. I won't spoil it for you. For those who have too little time to read her words of wisdom, allow me to supply Marie's summing up:
The Democrat leadership does not care about winning in Iraq. They are too busy deliberately interfering with the president's domestic and foreign policies. They also seem to enjoy writing profane things on the Huffington Post and other blogs like them.
Yes, the Democratic leadership, when they are not deliberately interfering with the president's domestic policies (the Founding Fathers would be spinning in their sarcophagi if they knew that the legislature was messing about with the president's policies when it was so clearly created simply to rubberstamp everything), they are hanging out at the HuffPo, pottymouthing the preznit.
Thank Jeebus there are a few sane people out there, paid handsome salaries, to keep us straight on who is suffering "babbling full-blown lunacy". As Marie herself points out, psychosis is no laughing matter!
Round up the horses, it's time to ride
So originally weblogs were places where surfers put links, weren't they? Kottke springs to mind as your archetypal weblog. Just links and short rubrics: not much more than look at this. I've done that from time to time but not for a while. So here is a blog in the old skool way. I bookmark a lot of pages, thinking, I suppose, "that'll be interesting to come back to" and just occasionally "I need to know where to find that". So I'm going to blog my most recent bookmarks, with none added, none taken away.This
are profile pages for one of S's stalkers. She has several (not including me, obviously). Now I'm not one to read too much into a photo (you should see mine! You'd never believe I'm southeast Brisbane's answer to George Clooney from my photos, I can tell you), but if I was illustrating "chav" for a book, I'd choose this girl. I don't know whether the thing coming out of her mouth is drool, gum or some sort of sex aid. And man, I don't want to know.Here
are a ton of CSS resources. I'm halfarsedly trying to improve my web skillz. There aren't enough hours in my day though. The web skillz are improving about as quickly as my Latin, Greek and Arabic. BTW, if you wanted to learn a language, try this place
. FSI courses are reckoned to be one of the best ways to learn. They centre around drills, so that you acquire the ability to speak the language more so than to write it.
I picked this
up from the blog of the guy who sometimes comments as "high in the sky". He sometimes goes by Sopwith Camel or Albert Ross (you can discern a theme, I'm sure). I enjoy his comments and his blog
is very readable. Ear Farm looks a bit rock for my tastes, but I like mp3 blogs. I like anything that says "I like this, what do you think?"Sam Spade
is my IP lookup site of choice. I bookmarked it long ago but I did it again for ease of use. It's much simplified these days because it's in the process of being rebuilt. I don't often look up IPs -- I don't have cause now that I no longer play shell games -- but you never know (cue sinister music?).
Wikipedia is not completely bollocks. Like many websites, it has a use (which is not necessarily the one it thinks it has). It's a good place for outlines. If you don't know what a thing is, or where to look for information, it works as a useful aggregator. I bookmarked the page on the Indus Valley civilisation
because I wanted to find search terms to pump into Google. This civilisation interests me because a/ it is one of the oldest, b/ it was stunningly advanced -- far ahead of the Sumerians or Egyptians, c/ it is mysterious -- no one is sure who the Harappans actually were and d/ it seems to have made close to no impression on the mainline history of the region it was in. Being old is important because I am interested in learning how man became man, specifically how what we hold to be true became true; how what we do became what we do; whether the complexity of our cultures makes us more than apes, or whether we have changed on the outside and remained the same on the inside. The advanced nature of the Indus Valley culture is interesting because it seems to have evolved entirely in situ. Earlier sites -- such as Mehrgarh -- in the same area are also advanced when compared with other sites of a similar age. It's difficult to discern outside influences on the Harappans, yet they are known to have been in contact with other civilisations (the Sumerians, for instance, called them Meluhha, and there are signs of trade between them). The mystery largely concerns who they were. My understanding had been that they were Dravidians, later displaced by Indo-Europeans, but it seems that it's more likely that they spoke a language from a different family, perhaps similar to relict languages spoken in India today, but not widely. They seem to have completely disappeared, although of course their genes doubtless survive to this day. Many other peoples were swept away by history but were not exterminated or anything like that.This
is the stat counter I've started using. Don't ask why. Just put it down to pure vanity and move on.
As part of an effort to learn why I am shit at poker, I've been studying heads up matchups
. I'm none the wiser. This is where I'm at: I can beat .25/.50 limit for 3BB/100. I can beat .50/1 as well, I think. I haven't played many hands but it didn't seem any harder to me. I am beating $5 sngs but I don't have a big sample. I'm not convinced my play is correct though because I seem to need a bunch of luck to win. I also beat the dollar sngs, which is a lot harder, because the rake is huge at PokerRoom and only two places pay. I am hopeless at tournaments. Not hopeless hopeless; but I lose money at them. I can't put my finger on where I'm going wrong. Maybe too tight? Not good enough postflop? The latter could well be it. In an sng, I'm a reasonably good judge of when to get my chips in when I'm short but I don't play well threehanded if the blinds are not very high. Okay, so half the battle is working out where you're deficient. All that remains is to fix it. Easy!
(Actually, I go okay heads up. I've grown the requisite balls and I mostly win, rarely coming second unless the other guy gets hit by the luck shovel.) I'd definitely be better if I knew how to work this
, and if I start taking sngs more seriously, I'll learn.
The recent shootings have led to a lot of blather and shite and tripe around the place. I won't comment on those who suggest that the victims were all mummy's boys who should have rushed the shooter, because, well, you have to be some sort of fucktard to write that stuff, but others have suggested that having more people armed prevents this kind of crime. That's bollocks, clearly, but for those who buy that kind of thinking, this
just might change your mind. Or probably not. If you're the kind of person who thinks the best solution to gun crime is to have more guns, nothing reasonable is likely to make any impression on you at all.
While trying to figure out my login problem
, I bookmarked this helpful page
. Well, maybe helpful. Who knows? I bookmark tons of these how-to pages and rarely find anything that I actually want-to. Still, I found the chick who wrote it interesting, and followed a couple of links to her (evangelical, black, friendly and kind) and her fiction (erm, awful). I am a people fiend. People's stories, their revelations, the chinks through which the light shows, this is what I am on the web for.
Forty-something years on, the Kennedy assassination generates more web bullshit than any other event. I enjoy conspiracy theories in the same way I enjoy a good novel: I don't expect truth, just entertainment. I spent several hours reading about the faking of the Zapruder film, and rebuttals that suggested it wasn't faked. Problem was, both sides were totally convincing. I find that the only solution is an open mind. Anyway, I linked a library of frames from the Zapruder film
, just in case I ever want to write my own conspiracy theory.
efflux might like this
. I never thanked efflux properly for rewriting my quote script. He probably didn't grasp how proud I was to have figured it out for myself, but that was no reason to be discourteous about the effort he put into making me a professional version. There's a ton of reading at the Guru's Lair. I have no idea whether any of it is useful or sane but it looks interesting enough, so SCUBAs on and dive in, chaps!
Habitues of the Uselessnet will know what I mean by an "issue troll". They come in different forms: the guys with their own theory of relativity, those who have theories about the Illuminati, scary womanhaters who write long screeds about abortion and so on. Daniel Brandt is an issue troll, and his issue is "accountability". He likes to play the shell game, in other words. He digs up information on people who edit Wikipedia and tries to fuck them up by posting it. Maybe you remember "Jay Maharaj/Jay Stephens" from Uselessnet. Horrid cunt, just like Brandt. Same sort of MO. He relied on people's not wanting their personal details spewed all over the Uselessnet. Not because they were hiding anything necessarily, but because many prefer their on and offline lives to be compartmentalised. For me, it's a question of Dr Zen's having nothing to do with DR. They don't really intersect. Yet they do. But anyway, I feel I should get to choose whether they do. Anyway, I bookmarked Brandt's legal strategy
. He claims he is going to sue Wikipedia. I can't see it, if only because there is not a lawyer who would touch his case. See, my understanding of the law is that to bring a case, you need to have been harmed in some way. Some people on Wikipedia have been a bit mean to Brandt, but so far as I know, being a bit mean is not a tort. But Brandt is a narcissist. He seems to me to be a textbook case of the disorder. He very much sees the world as revolving around him and he is loving it at the moment. He is a cause celebre on the wiki -- its bogeyman, as Wikitruth noted -- and on Wikipedia Review, he can hold court and a crowd of admirers tongues his arsehole. If he did bring a legal action, with the consequent inevitable humiliation, he would have to find a new way to posture. Still, he could play the part of victim of the legal system, which he would doubtless enjoy doing.
More poker. This
is the late Andy Morton on "schooling". It's as good an explanation as I've seen of why you sometimes want others to fold even when it's correct for them to do so. This
is the Cardplayer forum. I read Cardplayer every month. It's a great source of insight on poker. I wanted to check out the forum because Lucko, a blogger I follow, posts there, and he seems to understand tournaments in a way I just don't. This
is a paper on optimal stopping. No, me either. I sometimes try some maths to remind myself why I did an arts degree.
I admire the female form. I admire it in many shapes and sizes, as I've noted here before. Women are simply beautiful to me. I sometimes read Pandagon and Feministing (sorry, can't be bothered to find links, but google them and they'll be top of the page) and I'm struck by something in feminism that doesn't make sense to me. Okay, it's true that a woman should not be judged on her looks when expressing a view, going for a job, or doing anything in which looks are not an issue. Attractiveness is rarely part of how a woman should be viewed as a human being. Fine. But not never
. When I look at a woman, there is a part of me that says "I'd fuck her" or "No way". Any
woman. That's part of what a woman is to me. It doesn't necessarily colour my views of her as an intellect, as a workmate, as a partner in crime, or in any particular way. Is that oppressive? I don't express my view, so how can it be? Anyway, I'm willing to be enlightened on this score, but simplistic ranting won't work. I've read my Dworkin and Greer, so it'll take heavy hitting. For those who also think women are beautiful, or just like cool websites, this is great
. I won't try to explain it; just wait for it to load and enjoy. (Reprobates, see whether your answer to "would I fuck her?" changes at all before and after clickage.)This
is the kind of thing the web really is fantastic for. Some geezer has written a huge library of spices and, this never ceases to amaze me, he did it so that he could share it with me. I love him for it.
I don't often read anything out of the New Yorker, and I'm not too clear what kind of magazine it is, but if this article
is anything to go by, it's a bloody good one. Yes, some Iraqis met us with flowers and wild cheering. After all, Saddam was not much loved. But we weren't, aren't there for the Iraqis. This is a brilliant study of how we fucked even those who loved us, how they became disillusioned. If you want to know how we lost the war, here it is. Essential reading. Like this post, which is now finished.
We can't leave, we're winning!
Having deceived themselves into a war, lied throughout about how we were "winning" it and why we were fighting it, and been wrong on every count at every turn, now the hardest-core neocons are left with a fantasy world in which we are "turning the corner". And it is built on what? A temporary drop in killings and the (mistaken) belief that we are fighting AQ rather than embroiled in a sprawling civil conflict that doesn't have two clearcut sides.
But hey, we're making positive steps. Walling in a ghetto and making its inhabitants wear "badges"
sound like great ideas. Why did no one think of that before?
is what Mrs Z has been up to at "work". She has also got herself into teaching
Still, the money comes in handy, innit.
I am listening to I'm allowed by Buffalo Tom.
Sometimes, I feel strung out, a patient etherised on a table, barely aware of the world.
De-integrated. Is it a word? You google it and get things that look like words, but their meanings are attenuated, only just in touch with the world. So it is the right choice for how I am.
Nothing touches me except the biggest ideas. I was reading about wheat last night. I was thinking about how it was that one person must have tried to eat grass and realised that the grains were good. How? This is a big question. Do we innovate by accident -- stupidly eating anything that looks like it might pass and getting lucky -- or did some neolithic genius nut out the edibility of grains? Did their goats favour a particular type of grass? Did they reason that if the goat wasn't poisoned, the grass would be edible for humans? (Not a smart inference, of course.) Did they perhaps note that their goats preferred to eat the ears and leave the rest of the grass if there was plenty to eat? Do goats do that?
And is it possible to be a genius in a world that does not allow its expression? Can a hunter-gatherer be a genius? Is the genius latent, waiting for some material to work on? Or is genius only the intersection of this mind and this world, neither sufficient without the presence of both.
I get to thinking about slaves. If you had genius-level intelligence, how would it be to be enslaved, and have to work in a field for people who didn't have your brains but had a knotted rope or a whip? How would that be?
I am listening to Octopussy by the Wedding Present. Which is P's song, as I've mentioned. I think P is de-integrating too. She is like a drowning sailor, clinging on to driftwood and calling it her dreams. P likes to think big but her subject matter is mostly the very small. I don't know whether she has a view on wheat.
I was reading the Wikipedia article about it, and it stated that bread wheat had been created by crossing a strain of wheat -- I forget which one -- with goatgrass. I couldn't help wondering whether it was purposely crossed or whether goatgrass just happened to be growing in a farmer's field and nature did the crossing for the farmer. It makes you think a little about genetically modified plants, which can infect surrounding crops without anyone's wishing them to. It seems natural that plant genes should have evolved to be very good at inserting themselves into other nearby species.
I wonder whether everything is dumb luck.
I am listening to What's the matter here? by 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant's brilliant meditation on child abuse. Natalie doesn't accept the bullshit that it's okay to "discipline" your kids by abusing them, and neither do I. I once slapped the twins on the leg. They had done some minor shit when I was looking after them, and I was furious. They looked at me with total incomprehension. Naughtyman said, you have made my leg hurt. I still feel guilty about it. I would never make a good malefactor, thanks to my powerful conscience. If I do something wrong, it nags at me ever after. These are not things that I have worked out from principle are wrong; these are the things that the deeper me knows
I still feel guilty about Ziggy. He was the cat we got when Zenella was very little. We thought it would be good to raise her with a pet, and I don't mind cats. He was a beautiful cat, shy and gentle. When we left Australia to go to the UK, I tried to find him a new home. I had one all lined up and the woman I had agreed to leave him with pulled out at the last moment. I had to leave him with my inlaws. They are not cat people, altogether wrong for Ziggy, who needed to be cared for. Their idea of caring for a cat was to make him a nest in the garage underneath their house and ignore him as best they could. He ran away and went feral. Of course, he would not have survived for very long in the wild. I will never forgive myself for killing him. We have been thinking about getting another cat. This time it would come with us. It would cost more than 3,000 dollars to take it, but I will not get one unless I am willing to do that.
When I say that people online don't matter to me, I am comparing them to how I feel about Ziggy. I am too strung out for anything to matter less than the things I care about deep beneath my shell, in the small tiny beating heart of meat that feels like me. If I become re-integrated, who knows how I will feel?
I am listening to Eighties fan by Camera Obscura. It makes me feel lonely.
I also feel guilty about the path I have taken. I do not know how I would explain it to the teen me, and I feel I should be able to. I wonder sometimes whether I buy old eighties records to convince myself that I have not abandoned the boy, that I have enough love remaining for him to keep hope alive. I know that that doesn't make much sense. Who says that we have to? Sometimes we are just chaos inside, like a pit of bubbling tar, incoherent, inchoate maybe.
I am barely living. I feel as though pieces of me live each piece of my life, and they won't cohere and make it a life
. I don't know why I think they should but I do. I feel like I should feel alive.
I am listening to Bizarre love triangle by New Order. It should cheer me up! It's one of my favourite songs. I have no idea why I love New Order so much. I've never been able to analyse it, the way I can with some other bands.
I was reading a thing the other day about writers' rooms (sorry, don't have the URL). It made me feel deeply sad. Here were these people -- mostly not very good writers, with the exception of Ballard -- saying yeah, I write for two, three hours in the morning, and then I read and think for the rest of the day. And I'm thinking, me too! Except I don't, can't, won't.
I know it is no good whining about your life, how you are too lazy, too stupid, too talentless to make great pop records or write great books. I know all that but you can still feel a bit sad that you are stuck in a basement in Mansfield, staring at a PC screen, as though you were a pygmy in a forest, a genius without a milieu in which to use it.
But does the pygmy mind?
Out of step
Generally, as a freelance, you'd consider it important to have your name on the books you edit. You want the evidence that you worked on the book, particularly if you think it's a good product. (Which some of the things I work on are.) It's rare not to want credit. But my name won't be appearing on this information systems book. Not that I haven't done a good job.
Here's the thing. The author is discussing the interaction of hardware and software. You know how it is. Hardware is made faster and more complex, and software is upgraded to match. The two end up in an endless cycle of improvement, each driving the other on. So the author calls this a "step-lock loop".
Erm, you what? This is the kind of term that jumps out at an editor. It just sounds wrong. Surely the author meant "lockstep loop"? That would be a bit odd but it would just about work. So I google the term. Nothing. Nada. This post will in time be a googlewhack for "step-lock loop". So I queried it. Unfortunately, I have to go through the publishing editor, a sales-oriented type who lacks the desire most editors have to get things right
The author writes back that it is widely used in his experience; that it's not like a lockstep because the step comes before the lock and that it wasn't queried in the first two editions.
OMFG. So I tell the PE that it's so little used that Google doesn't turn up even a single hit (and, remember, this is a computing term; the Web, being what it is, doesn't lack pages about computing). "Step-lock cycle" brings up three hits. One is the previous edition of the book; the second is a lecture by the coauthor of the book and the third, hilariously, is some guy on a discussion board asking what the fuck it means.
I also tell her that he clearly doesn't understand what "lockstep" is. There are no lock and step. There are steps that are locked. It's exactly what he is describing: two processes that move in close sync. He is thinking that "lockstep" is like "cause-effect" and that what he's describing is "effect-cause", so "step-lock". Erm no. I have to point out that someone whose grasp of the metaphor is this poor should not be allowed their own way over usage.
I note too that no one's noticing it was wrong for the first two editions is not a good reason to leave it in the third. Hello? That's the point of a third edition, at least in part. I corrected lots of other (more minor) stuff from the other editions. Should I have left all that too? (I do know that one should restrict second-guessing in followup editions, and I very rarely take issue with previous editing in this way. But you know, "step-lock cycle" is so rank that you have to say something; otherwise, what integrity can you claim to have as an editor?)
Of course, I realise that the PE doesn't want to piss off the author. Neither do I. I'm good at communicating with authors -- or was when I was allowed to do it at this company. But if I have to go to the mat for a usage, I go there. I don't just fold at the first hint of resistance.
So the PE says she takes my point but wants to leave it as it is. She takes my point? In what way? My point was, after all:
I am confident the phrase is entirely the author's own invention, has no currency and, worst of all, is nonsense.
It's typical of the rudeness of people in publishing to do this. They're horribly passive-aggressive. They do not say "I disagree with you", because they know you will disagree back. They say they take your point but tough shit. It's a way to dismiss you and belittle your view without actually having the balls to do that. I'd have more respect for the PE if she had written "No one cares what you think. Just put what the author wants" because that is what she means.
So this is one book that I won't be credited for. I shudder at the idea that someone somewhere will pick it up, laugh their head off at the nonsense term and wonder why the editor didn't notice it was transparently bollocks.
I am listening to Babies by Colleen.
So I am thinking about Naughtyman. He has become a beautiful child. He reminds me a lot of my friend T, who was a beautiful man. We drifted apart and I regret it. We fell out over some stupid shit and never made it up. I met up with him when I moved to London a few years back. He was working for the government, the education department, and he seemed shamefaced about it. I don’t know why we didn’t connect at that meeting; we had been the best of friends.
Naughtyman had a head problem when he was a baby. He had lain too often on one side of his head, and had a plagiocephaly, a flat head. We fixed it with a rainbow-coloured helmet. It cost a bomb but it was money well spent. He is a truly beautiful child. I cannot help seeing myself reflected in him too: he is sensitive and gentle. I truly wish I will not break him.
Today we were at Lollipops, a horribly loud children’s playhouse. Naughtyman spent most of his time in the ballpit at the bottom of one of the slides. He was too young, too gentle for the rough and tumble, but somehow he managed to be always just half a foot from the flailing arms, inches from the foot that would kick him in the face.
You are never sure with Naughtyman what he does or doesn’t understand. He keeps his own counsel. He is interested in trains.
It breaks my heart to think about him. I don’t know how else to say it. He seems so perfect, so beautiful. He is unformed and I don’t want to form him. I want to keep him cocooned so that he can just bloom into whatever he is, without anyone’s impressing anything on him at all. I don’t have ideas for him. I don’t have principles, dreams, goals.
I have long ago realised that I do not consist of anything and I have nothing to offer a child, except not to hurt them if I am capable of not doing it.
It breaks my heart to think about him. I am entirely without words to describe how I think about him. That is a strange place for me to be in, because I often have more words than thought.
I was thinking about what matters to me. And I realised that it was very little specific. I have positions. You know what I mean. We all have them. Things we profess to believe. Mine all boil down to share
. I don’t know why. I have not forensically analysed my beliefs. Maybe I do not feel the world shares enough for me.
I know you do not matter to me. If you are reading this, you do not. I am sorry to say it, and I know that at least some people who read this will be hurt by it, but I cannot help it. I am limited, stunted. I am everything I do not want Naughtyman to be. I know that my dad felt the same about me, and that scares me.
One person online meant something to me. It wasn’t mutual. I kidded myself that it was, but only part of me was kidding; the rest knows the score and it was burned. Maybe two, but in the first instance I was scared. I was scared of feeling anything for someone who wasn’t, could never be, real. I wish I hadn’t been. I wish I could have her back. She must have been mystified. I’m sure I did not do the right thing. I threw away a friendship I could treasure. And I knew it was one. Usually, you do not know who really has any value for you, particularly online, but Sh did. I will probably never find anyone I’d rather walk a mile with. What a cunt I am. It does not make me feel any better to know it.
I am listening to Yasmin the light by Explosions in the Sky. It has a gentle, moving riff. Moving may be the wrong word. Maybe it would move you, maybe not.
So I like to think I am gentle and moving. But I have forgotten how to be either. I am hollow and stupid.
I realised today that what I most want is to die. I do not mean I feel suicidal. How stupid! I mean that I wish I could feel I could. I do not know that I will ever feel that and it worries me. I am treading water, sometimes sinking a little, sometimes rising a little. Sometimes I even feel I’m floating.
I am hollow and stupid. Why would you think I’m anything else? I want to be, and I can pretend to be, but how can I convince you for any length of time?
I am going to die in this town. I will never go home. I know it. I look at all the stuff strewn through this house and I know that I will never be able to pick all that up and take it somewhere else.
I can never love my life. I do not know what it would take.
I am going to die in this fucking town. I will be almost entirely unmourned.
I want Naughtyman to love me. All I want in this world, when I sum it up, is to be loved. Yet I bite those who love me. Over and over. I suppose I want to know they are for real, and not just loving me because they love themselves.
I know what love is. I know what uncompromising, unrelenting, unsparing love is. I feel it!
I feel a love that you cannot describe, that you cannot beat, that you cannot quantify, that you cannot buy, sell or trade. I know love because I love my Zenella, Zenita and Naughtyman fiercely!
I love them in a way that feels like being crushed in a vice, that you cannot gainsay or bargain with. I love them in a way that feels like a dream of love, love you could only imagine. I would never have known it if they had not existed; I would never have believed it was possible.
When Naughtyman smiles – and he has a beautiful smile, mine, a hundred per cent my smile, my genes expressing themselves in his smile, although you’ll never see it on me – the world shifts just a foot to one side, and there is everything possible.
I wish I could die.
I am listening to Tribulations by LCD Soundsystem.
So I like to think I am tough enough. It has never been good for me but the world hates softness or so it seems.
I believe in love like I don’t believe in anything else. I believe in it because without it life is just nothing
. It is just the absurd collison of atoms. Only a feeling I cannot describe can transcend that.
I know why you believe in a god. I know why.
I believe too. I just don’t want it to have that name.
So I am watching Naughtyman lying in the ballpit, the balls are closing over him, and he is happy, entirely within the moment, and I want to stop it, stop time right here, I LOVE HIM, time can only hurt that, please god let it all stop right here, we are happy, do not let the world go on.
Finally, someone has invented a Web 2.0 thing that I actually have a use for. Meet Dr Zen
. He's my less coherent twin.
Less coherent? I can almost hear you thinking. Well, that's going to suxxorz.
Yeah, but I'll give you a tip. If you didn't think that an online chatting bot was going to suxxorz big style anyway, you need another course at stop being a total fucktard school.
UPDATE: Here are some of the conversations my twin has had. I hope that no one minds my posting them. Let me know if you want them gone or if they don't work for you. I'll give you my password if you need it. (Which would be cool. You could go and train my bot for me. Just get it to say "You are a cunt" to anyone who annoys it.)PaulaHopeyPillock
The company are using teh PDF
Nothing is worse than a clueless author who thinks he knows grammar. In this sentence:
"Swire made a commitment to adopt PDF as their preferred format"
I changed "their" to "its". This is routine stuff, because a/ the house style of my publisher is to use the singular for companies and the like and b/ it's the most common usage by far.
But the author was outraged. He said:
Their is grammatically correct but frowned on by purists because it can not be translated directly in Latin
Leaving aside that you learn that "cannot" is one word in third grade, what can we say about this nonsense?
"Their is grammatically correct"
"Their" is grammatically correct if you consider that companies are plural in person and incorrect if you don't. Given that my publisher doesn't, and I don't, it's simply not. Why don't we? Because a company is a single thing. That's pretty simple. There are times when single things that are collections of other things are considered as collections of things rather than composites, and then one uses the plural. "The staff each receive a lollipop" is an example. "The crowd left their seats one by one" is another. (The latter can also take the singular.) An exception for me is football teams, which by convention take the plural. I note though that if I was editing a book on football for this publisher, football teams would take the singular, because the convention is different in Australia.
But can't "Swire" be taken to be the collection of people within it? I challenge you to find an example in which that reading would make more sense than the single-thing one. Go on. Give it a go.
"but frowned on by purists because it can not be translated directly in Latin"
What teh fuck? This comment left me dumbfounded, and that doesn't often happen. Which bit can't be translated into Latin? "Its"? I think you'll find it can. Does he mean that Latin is stricter in agreeing for number, and that insisting on those fuddyduddy Latiny rules is cramping his style, man?
Well, who knows? I can't think of anything in Latin that would have much bearing on this kind of construction. We use the singular with companies because they are unitary. "I sent it to Swire" does mean "I sent it to somebody who works for Swire" because ultimately there is someone at Swire who opens the mail, or picks it up or whatever, but I think that arguing that Swire is a metonym for all its employees is perverse here. (Cf "Washington", in which the name of the capital is a metonym for the government of the United States; in Australia, these metonyms strictly take the singular, whereas they sometimes take the plural in the UK: "Washington has taken the hard line with Teheran/Washington have taken the hard line with Teheran". The latter is slightly awkward for me, but possible.) I think it should be compared with "the United Kingdom" or "Australia". These are single entities that have constituents, but are always considered as composites. Conceptually, the difference is easy. A crowd is coextensive with its constituents. If I say "crowd", I mean all the people in the crowd. (If I say "Arsenal", I can be taken to mean "all the players of Arsenal" or similar, I suppose.) But the UK is not coextensive with its citizens. It is something that contains its population. A crowd cannot be considered separately from the people in it; it just is
those people (and note that one does not write "they" in that sentence!).
Have I captured the difference correctly? Can you analyse it differently? Answers on a postcard. Or in the comments.
I am listening to Particles and waves by the Cranes on my new iPod. The battery on the old one was close to useless. I made a spirited attempt to DIY the solution by changing the battery but somehow I broke the whole thing. So I bought a new nano with money I don't have. (I used to hate credit but I've learned to love it. So long as I have some idea how I can pay it back. Without it, I would not have a PC, for instance, which would make life difficult.) I could have bought a 30GB iPod for the same money but dude, that thing's chunky. The nano's so teensy that I could comfortably fit it up my arse. I won't though.
So I am thinking, what can you do with a guy who thinks that he should use "which" for inanimates and "that" for animates, except say "don't"? After writing that information systems are appealing because all problems have solutions, he answered my suggestion that many problem do not get solved by referring me to Wittgenstein, who says that all technical problems have technical solutions. He can consider himself lucky that editors can no longer contact editors directly, so that he does not have to read my explaining to him that yes, all technical problems do, in principle, have technical solutions, but some are so complex that in practical terms they are unsolvable. Also, he ignores that this would only be true of problems about which we had full information. For instance, whether to call or fold a limit poker hand is usually a technical problem that often has one correct and one wrong solution (I am simplifying by considering only situations in which calling or folding are options, and ignoring that one might bet). But one's approach to the problem is complicated by not knowing what the opponent has. Imagine a game of holdem in which there can only be one bet in each round. Either my opponent can bet and I call, or I bet, he calls. Or we both check. Say I have AT and the board is KQJxJ rainbow. My opponent bets. Should I call? Two factors above all others inform this decision: one, what hands my opponent would bet and two, what hand he actually has. (The latter is obviously more important!) If my opponent only bets the nuts, I should fold. If he has QJ, likewise, I should fold. But I've just sat down at the table and I don't know what my opponent has, and he won't show me his hand. Technically, there is a correct solution, but I cannot know what it is.
Poker fiends will of course be yelling CALL at this point! Because the way we actually approach problems, whether in poker or in computing, is to take a heuristic and apply it, refining it as we gain more information. The heuristic in poker is a default play: in this case "Do not fold good hands on the river for one bet". We might change our solution if the previous betting has clued us in somewhat. It's important to realise though that we might well arrive at a solution to a problem that works but is not complete, or even correct. Recognising this is key to mastering a game that is as complex as poker (and the same thing applies to difficult strategic games such as chess: you might learn to beat opponents using techniques that are not, taking the broader set of possible opponents, correct).
I probably sound like I am seething with anger as I deal with this shit. But I'm not. I already know that the authors are idiots. Their texts tell me that. These are people who think they will be persuasive just by dropping Wittgenstein's name. But thinking is not just a question of finding the correct allusion. It's about working out how what Wittgenstein said actually fits (or does not fit) what you are looking at. Thinking about anything is seriously hampered by taking a cookiecutter approach to your subject matter. Of course, you need to be able to use and manipulate concepts, but there's a difference between using a concept as a means to investigate your subject matter -- a lantern in the darkness, if you like -- and using it as a box to stuff your subject into. If you do that, you will have a neatly packaged universe, I suppose, but you won't ever be able to step outside your preconceived schema, and insight will elude you.
Which is probably why this book is so fucking boring.
There is nothing sensible to say about Virginia Tech. Naturally, we can rehearse the same old arguments about gun control, but we already know that America has an addiction to guns and won't get treatment.
There is no deeper lesson but that kids bully each other, form gangs and make each others' lives a misery, and misery will sometimes strike out and hurt others. Not that anyone deserves this outcome: not the shooter, not his classmates. We cannot unravel any of this shit until we unravel ourselves, make of ourselves the world we could have.
There is nothing sensible to say but to express sympathy for the victims, children cut down by a bewildering hatred, an unbearable sadness for their parents and the communities they were part of.
I am listening to Tom Waits, Swordfishtrombones. I'm a latecomer to Tom Waits. At least, I've always sort of liked him but didn't own any of the albums.
I'm playing a five-dollar sitngo. I'm a winning player at this level, based on my thin record. I'll need to play thousands before I can be sure. Maybe I've just been lucky. I never seem to get any better. It feels like there is something I'm fundamentally just not getting in poker.
Well, how does that make it any different from any other area of life?
So I'm editing this book on information systems, and it's not how I would have written on that subject. It's so dull and information-free. But it's a third edition, and I don't play any part in developing this rubbish. I just fix up the gross errors and silently weep at what a waste of my time this is. The problem is, I suppose, that you don't get to be a professor of information systems by being a smart or insightful guy. If you were that, you'd probably be coining it in business. If your public service ethic didn't allow that, you'd be doing exciting research. Not retreading the turgid bullshit that you teach undergrads.
The sitngo isn't going well. No hands in three levels. I pick up JJ and raise large UTG. I'd settle for just picking up the blinds. I hate the hooks. All fold. I play the big blind (folding a gutshot on the turn getting 3 to 1) and return to folding my hands.
I have put on Arcade Fire's new album. It's not as good as Funeral. But not much is. That's not to say it's not a very good album. It has some rather weak tracks but a couple of the standouts (Intervention and My body is a cage, to name two) really do stand out.
We've gone another orbit and I haven't played a hand. Blinds at t100 and we still have eight runners. This is going to be tough if I can't double up in the next orbit, particularly with a very big stack on the button when I pay the big blind. K3, I miss the flop again and fold to a minbet. The guy only had a draw but I'm not going to play with no pair, no draw. He rivered the straight card anyway. Bugger. Picked up ATs in the CO and would have pushed, but some guy bet before me, making my hand trash. He had A7 and should have pushed if he was playing that shit.
Intervention shows what's possible if you think big. The song itself is nothing all that special. If you heard it acoustic, you probably wouldn't think much of it. But the instrumentation is everything. I'm a sucker for a well-placed organ.
33 in the BB. I check. The flop is 665. I stopngo and push. All fold. I make a small pot. We are now on the bubble. Unbelievably, I've voluntarily played one hand and have made the bubble. KT in the BB. The SB completes and I push. He folds. A3s on the button. I push. Both blinds fold. I like the bubble much more than the middle game, although I'd like not to be so card dead. You can't keep pushing at this level. You'll be called out of spite.
Okay. Card dead. Pushing with any two. The other guys are just trading chips, none getting it in, so I'm fucked basically. The SB has learned to push at me with ATC. I can't call so he's taking my blind every time.
I am not enjoying this afternoon. I can't find a comfortable way to sit and I have a headache. I have made the money. I folded AQ to an all in and it was a good move although I would have won the pot.
I suck out with J7 against A9 and I'm going to be at least second. I'm so short that it's push/fold heads up though.
This guy is so negative. He doesn't really want to win.
Eventually, he overbets K9 and I push with 77. Of course he hits a 9. Never mind. Second place pays $15.
Life, or nothing quite like it
is nice. I particularly like the new sapling in the fourth picture.
I could not remember the word "accompany". I knew it existed but couldn't think what it was. It wasn't on the tip of my tongue. It felt like a hole, not like something just out of reach. Somehow it didn't, and still doesn't, feel right.
(Something accompanies something else when it goes with it but is different, complementary. But does heads accompany tails?)
Anyway, I took the idea of "companion piece" and sprinted off with it. Somehow, a companion piece seems more connected with its companion than an accompaniment. It might share a mood, a theme, an idea, or it might be the mirror image: the concerto for oboes and shoehorns to go with the concerto for shoehorns and oboes.
It's worrying though because editors are not supposed to stare dumbfounded at words, trying to figure out why they are wrong. They're supposed to strike out "companions" and put in "accompanies" without thinking. I rely on being able to do that reflexively. It's a bit scary to feel that age will rob me of my skills in this area, and leave me actually having to work at what I do.
I am listening to Julee Cruise. I bought some CDs from Amazon, some old, some new.
So I have Julee Cruise, and I like it, but it's not going on heavy rotation. It's going to be on the C list. You know what I mean? You have some CDs that you gravitate to, your A list. For me these are usually new CDs that I'm playing heavily, but also ones that I listen to a lot because I get more out of them than usual or I feel I haven't sucked them dry. An example would be the Rapture's Pieces of the people we love, which I bought recently and have been playing to death. It's a fantastic album, much better than Echoes. Often a second album disappoints (I've mentioned the theory that a songwriter has songs they have worked on since their teens, songs that they poured everything they had into, which makes their debut special) but this takes their ideas up a notch. It's serious funky, which doesn't hurt. Another example would be Amon Tobin's Out from out where. Intelligent techno is definitely my cup of tea, and I can count on Tobin's albums as background music. Not that they don't have anything to offer to a deeper listen, but they are sufficiently good that I'm not irritated by duff tracks. I find I get a lot of work done when I have a couple of Tobins on! The B list are CDs that I might pull out quite often when I'm looking for something to play. They'd tend to be either newish records that have come off the A list or older ones that say play me when I spot their spine. Mono's You are there and the Psychedelic Furs' Forever now are very good examples. The former is fairly new and I'm still thrilled with it. The latter is one of my favourites. I have a ton of postpunk in my collection, and I love the Furs' clever, cynical take on modern life. If the guy out of Bloc Party was as smart as Richard Butler, their second album wouldn't have been so shit.
The C list are albums that I listen to from time to time but might go months without. Sometimes I'll bung five on at a time, to remind myself why I have them in the first place, and I'm often pleasantly surprised by how much I like them. And then don't listen to them again for a year. You know the kind of thing: Never mind the bollocks, 156, Do you like my tight sweater? (A point for anyone who can name all three artists without using Google.) The D list are the "oh dear" records. The DJ Shadow one where he went all rock and ballady. (Yuk!) That pisspoor Mercury Rev effort. The dodgy trance compilation that you don't know any of the producers on. Most remix albums. (Here's the problem with remix albums: decent remixes are few and far between. If you know the original song, you rarely feel the remix is an improvement. If you don't, you are not always sure whether the duffness is in the original or the remix. There are good albums that are all remix: Aphex Twin's 26 mixes obviously (mostly because he does his own thing -- to the extent of subsituting one of his own songs for a Nine Inch Nails song he was supposed to be remixing but hated too much to bother with) and I just bought Four Tet's remix album, which is intermittently good -- although the album of remixed Four Tet that companions it is useless. The Rest of New Order that companioned the Best of is mostly decent too, but the band themselves were mostly responsible for or involved in the remixes).
I don't actually have lists, by the way. The height of my anality is to put my CDs together, As with As, Bs with Bs. They're not even in alpha order (but I do clump together all the records of a particular band, if I have more than one). They wouldn't be in any order but I got sick of asking where the fuck I had put Brotherhood or Rock action (both B listers) and made it a bit easier on myself.
One has to laugh. Tony Blair says shut up about Will and Kate
, which is, erm, not shutting up about Will and Kate. You'll note that Yeah whatever is taking a digified stand on the issue by not saying anything. This is because I don't care. Some rich prick splits up from his gf. Yawn. I am only ever going to care about Kate if the Sun prints tit shots. I do not care about her privacy. Why should I? She is nothing to me. This is the key to understanding why Craig Ferguson was wrong about Britney. I'll try to explain. Generic people have no meaning for me and no one would expect them to. Mr A, a citizen of Chad, is nothing to me. I don't know him, have never met him, have no connection to him. He's just another African. Of course, he is not at zero. He has the residual "score" that anyone would have, by virtue of being a human being. I feel it is fundamentally wrong to begin your consideration -- your weighing -- of what people mean to you at zero, which is how it seems to me many people do begin (usually, for people who think like this, co-nationality imparts a score but co-humanity none, which doesn't make any sense to me: a fellow Briton doesn't mean any more to me prima facie
than some guy in Chad). But when Mr A is shot dead by the janjaweed, he rises in meaning, because of his intersection with my feelings about Darfur. Now, see, Mr A pretty much ''only'' has meaning as a victim of the violence in Darfur. Pretending otherwise would be ridiculous, because I was not much concerned with his life when I knew only that he was a citizen of Chad, and only that I know him to have been a victim has elevated him in my reckoning. (I do not keep lists of people either! This is simply the process I think we go through practically subconsciously when working out what we give a shit about.) Mr A did not matter to me much as a human being
If that strikes you as grossly cynical, I'll ask you how you can realistically claim to believe that everyone
means something to you. Life would be pretty fucking intense if they did.
But Britney would be Mr A for me if she didn't appear in the media. Her only media for me is that she is a celebrity. Her life means nothing for me except that it makes the news. That she has feelings about it means as much to me as Mr A's having feelings about his life. I know she does and he does, but I cannot be concerned about them because they are not salient. If Mr A was interviewed, his feelings might increase in salience, just as Britney's do when she appears on Oprah.
I'm not doing a good job of explaining this but I prefer my view to a muddleheaded niceyniceness that pretends that Will and Kate actually matter
. They only matter because they are in the papers. Without that, they would just be another couple of young people splitting up and never mind.
When I was a teen, I thought I was ill, because I didn't seem to care as much about others as my peers. It took me years to figure out they were bullshitting, and that saying you care
are like different planets. It's easy to say you care, whether you are bunging on faux outrage or trying to pull chicks. It's much harder to be honest about not really giving a shit.
I am thinking about the Don Imus thing, which of course I don't give a shit about. I am not totally sure who Don Imus is, and I already know that radio personalities can be arseholes. It's not the kind of thing I get all that worked up about. (I'm much more concerned that people who do mean more than nothing to me make horrible false steps in their analysis of the whole thing.) The substance of it is pretty thin. Some arsehat was rude about some basketballers. So fucking what? The what is obviously the huge media-created furore (Imus himself is entirely media created; he would be of no interest at all, obviously, if he was not a media figure -- we expect some of the people who live among us to be fuckwits, but it's not on the whole a big deal because we know that history and circumstance have conspired to create a confusion of ideas and attitudes about black Americans that are not healthy but are symptomatic of a deeper malaise rather than the problem themselves; in other words, you won't cure American racism by treating people's speech while leaving the underlying disease unaffected). You begin to realise that Baudrillard was right when you see the girls themselves giving a press conference. What teh fuck? Okay, if he had been in the front row of the crowd, maybe I'd care what the girls had to say. But he wasn't. Okay, the girls are offended when the tape is played back but, hang on, their offence has just been manufactured by, erm, playing back the tape. I doubt any one of them much cares about being called "nappyheaded", however offensive it is, and they probably get called a "ho" daily if the young men on the interwebnets are anything like representative of American adolescents. (Where the right are mistaken is not in believing that blacks like Al Sharpton are hypocrites for being outraged what Imus says and not caring about what rappers say -- a ridiculous standpoint, which I can't even be bothered backhanding, but utterly typical of rightist moral equivalators, but in not realising that there is absolutely no outrage involved in any quarter here. Everyone -- Sharpton, the media, the Rutgers girls, the wingnuts, the many bloggers who've bloviated on it, including me -- is pretending to care and having a whale of a time doing it.) The meaning
of the whole incident is manufactured by the media.
In a sane world, Imus would have been quietly sacked by the management, and another fuckhead employed, admonished to stick to more implicit racism... because let's face it, low-grade hatred of other people is what fuels even the least virulent talk radio. We do not care to hear goodwill with our cornflakes. No one would have noticed the difference because we're not short of fuckheads, and they're pretty much interchangeable. If every celebrity in the Western world disappeared tomorrow, we would not miss them. We would simply promote the next tranche of wannabes. There is little differential in talent or appeal. Celebrities only mean something because they are celebrities, not because they have earned
meaning with their output. The world would not be poorer for missing Britney's songs, nor Craig Ferguson's "comedy" (least of all that, given that Ferguson has never been and probably will never be remotely funny). You and I would be no poorer for missing Will and Kate either. They are nothing to us bar their media presence. And when Blair makes a statement about them, he, like the Rutgers' girls, is simply part of the dance of pretending to give a shit.
Don't be sheepish now
For any Kuhwuhs out there feeling lonely, help is at hand
. Not baaaad.
"God damn it, you've got to be kind"
So it goes.
Goddidit, he did, he did, I say so
How sad. The Pope is reduced to arguing about language as his last line of defence against rationality: "'Just who is this 'nature' or 'evolution' as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist at all!' the Pope said."
Neither does the wind, Joe.
What teh fuck?!
Perhaps Mr Blair could go on to enlighten us on what exactly about blacks makes them murderous thugs?
This primped-up peabrained peacock has rarely left me speechless but reading that was a mouth wide open what teh fuck moment. He's not even trying to get elected! He's not even trying to appeal to the mindless BNP crowd. This is his idea of letting it all hang out on his way out the door.
Maybe Mr Blair should combine his new insight with this initiative
and simply intern Britain's black population?
He said: "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong - it has not - but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."
I never thought I would read a 21st century "Labour" politician suggesting that darkies need to be taught respect, but if you live long enough, you see it all, I suppose.
Why am I getting all these messages telling me I need a bigger dick?
What is wrong with my dick? Who's been talking? I want to know. Because surely my dick is private, between me and you, not something you just talk about? Tell me you don't! Ladies, please, tell me you don't. And if you are, what exactly are you saying? Who's been saying it's not big enough? I need to know, because that's someone who needs putting straight on a few things. I don't remember anyone's complaining at the time. What kind of low hypocrite says to your face that your dick is all the dick they need, but then behind your back tells everyone that yeah, it could have been a bit bigger?
And anyway, would
I get more chicks if I had a bigger dick? Why? How would they know? Do women have dicksize sensors? When they see us in the street, do they go "hmmm, six inches" and "oh my lord, a tenner"?
Are they even that keen on bigness? Has someone done a study, proving a correlation between size of dick and number of chicks pulled?
I asked Mrs Zen whether I'd get more sex if I had a bigger dick, and she flat denied it. Is she lying? Would she put out more if I had another inch?
What exactly is the proportion? I want to know the chicks-per-inch figure, because the guys who are promising me a bigger dick want money. I want to know the value per chick of the pills they're offering. I have a figure in mind per chick
that I would pay. Not per inch, because I don't want the inches in and of themselves. I have enough cock for my own purposes. Any more would just be, like, extra skin and stuff. Only if they bring me more chicks.
You know what worries me? I've been reading that soy makes your dick shrink
. I may have lost half an inch given all the tofu, TVP and other soy products I've got through in recent years.How much sex has that cost me!?
This blog's code of conduct
We will post unacceptable content.
We will say lots of stuff online that we wouldn't say in person. That's sort of the point of having a blog, dude.
When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation, we will dive in and make every effort to make things worse.
When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we join in.
Everyone comments. Go on, you know you want to.
We prefer to respond to nasty comments about us, because a big flamewar is juicy fun. Feel free to be abusive or libellous.
Rain on our parade
Remind me again, I implore you, how capitalism is just so damned good for the world
Look, if you are buying a forestry concession with a machete, you know
you are doing something wrong. You don't need a course in ethics.
But ethics have no place in capitalism. When you invent a system that says that the purpose of carrying on business is to increase value for those who own the business and nothing else
, you are not going to create heaven on earth. You may, or may not, create some very rich people -- for whom the earth may well be some kind of secular heaven, if you think heaven consists of a yacht and someone to feed you peeled grapes -- but you will not be doing good
All in all, I don't mind people who are not doing good so much. I don't do much good myself; I'd be the first to admit it. I don't even much mind people who are doing bad, so long as they're upfront about it. What I don't like, never have liked, and never will like are people who do bad and pretend they're not. Hucksters, corporatists with "visions", religious leaders whose religions of peace include an unfathomable amount of hate, governments that focus on the banstick and the enrichment of their wealthy supporters, bloggers who echochamber the shitheads, the World Bank, Dennis Wise, you're all in my sights. (Okay, Dennis, I accept that you're trying
to do good, but you're Chelsea, you fucker, and I for one am not forgetting or forgiving that. Not even when your useless arse is finally sacked. Not even if by some miracle we survive this season and are promoted next. Yes, it's lose-lose for you, Dennis.)
And I know, we demand the flooring. We remain wilfully ignorant of how the flooring is made. I know that we too, all but a very few of us, are complicit. I do sometimes think we should live in shacks. I do sometimes wish we could find a way to that world. We would not be unhappy. It's only marketing makes you think we would. That's our tragedy.
I have to add too that Freedland
doesn't understand the online world at all. He says:
At present, you can be an irascible, misogynistic anti-semite online with little or no consequence. But what if that began to affect the rest of your online life? Note how careful people are to be well-regarded on eBay, where money is at stake. Might it not be possible to have a single online identity, one that you cared about, even if it had little connection to your identity in the real world?
Most of us do! The driveby bullshit of antisemites is meaningless. What hurt Kathy Sierra was that she knew the perpetrators. They have consistent IDs. I'm Dr Zen wherever I go, and most people who read this blog have a continuous online ID that you can track using Google.
What Freedland isn't getting is that online you consist of that identity, your previous posts, other comments, your Usenet life. That's what you are. If you just drive by anonymously, your comment is meaningless. It has no meat. If I go to Don's blog and call him a fuckwit, that has history, weight, maybe even importance for him. It's worth his while to try to show me that he was not fuckwitted, that his thesis holds, that what he says has value. Most trolls quickly learn that while the driveby can be satisfying, the effect of having substance is greater. I trolled PJ Parks to oblivion over her "writing". She wouldn't have cared if some anon had jibed her over it. She could push that aside as meaningless nastiness. But my views have the backing of everything else I've said; most importantly, if I have "won" interwebnet battles in the past, I have the support of previous wins (and the deficit of previous "defeats" if I've been FOS). And it hurt because she knows my view is consistent and powerful; hers like a castle of dust, impressive so long as no one blows on it. Getting trolled by N.O.Body would not have crushed her -- she'd probably have been able to play it to the gallery and feel she had won the day; getting trolled by Dr Zen led her to animosity, anger, refusing to interact with me. It's like I got a campaign medal!
Anyway, Freedland, yo, put your thinking cap on. Why actually should
there be a consequence for being a misogynist antisemitic whatever beyond the disapproval and opprobrium of your peers? Have you wandered into some weird fantasyland where what people say in blog comments matters
? Here it is. I'll spell it out for you, and for every other fucking faintheart who doesn't get it
: this is the interwebnets and the truth is whatever you can make it. It's all about pretending, creating, making new spaces, new identities, new realities. It's not about making it like the meatworld so that the same dreary fucking nobodies can scratch the backs of other dreary fucking nobodies and have it all your own way. And Sierra, what a whiny fucking cunt. She should stay away from our playground.
Code this, mofucker
I am not signing up to any code of conduct that would not permit me to describe Jimbo Wales as a complete fucking idiot
and you can shove your fucking kitemark up your ARSE!
I should set up as a clairvoyant. Of course the sailors bullshitted about their bad treatment
. As soon as they were shown to be lying, their permission to bullshit was revoked. The MOD realised that instead of a propaganda coup, it now had a propaganda nightmare. We spied, we were caught, we lied about how we were treated by those nice Iranians, and no one is going to believe the "we were hooded, they threatened to execute us bullshit". Oh dear. Yet again, the Iranians, painted as savages by our rightwing media, show themselves ten times more savvy than the bumbling idiots who run our nations.
We spied, we lied
You know, Blair, Bush, the whole neocon brigade, they are going to need to ban the truth, because somehow it never serves them.
I'm listening to Of Montreal
Eva, I'm sorry
but you will never have me
to me you're just some faggy girl
and I need a lover with soul power
and you ain't got no soul power
which seems apt somehow, but don't ask me to explain.
So I'm driving in the backstreets of Mansfield, and it's all quiet and empty, bar one woman, walking with a carrier bag, maybe on her way to work. She is slumped and unhappy, and I am thinking that it's sad to start your day like that, realising -- I know it's not a tremendous revelation, so no letters to the editor, please -- that she might -- must? -- start every day like this.
I am watching a girl in a denim skirt, moving with a sway that's out of place in the grey backstreets of Mansfield. Her legs are bare: it's autumn but it would still pass as the northern summer. I am thinking about Mrs Zen's cousin's wife. I picture her bare stomach, my come in hot jets over her. But I am stuck on thinking, does she trim her pubes or leave them to grow? I am thinking leave them, because she has something wild about her (it's her attraction, and the mystery in why she chose S, a man without flavour). Then I am thinking shave them, because she is neat, the wildness just something I see (and there is no mystery: she was a lonely woman who found a friend). One of these days, maybe, when she calls for Mrs Z and she's not home, I'll say, come spend an hour with me. I wonder what she would say.
No, I am not dreaming of love today. I figure if I stop, perhaps it will start dreaming of me. Think about it. It'll make sense if you find yourself on a lonely street on an autumn morning and cars are passing by.
I am listening to Sheila by Jamie T
Of course it makes me think of P
But when I think of P, I have no picture
She is only semireal
Nearly everyone I like is
I am sitting in my new chair. I bought it from OfficeWorks. Some guy stopped us and said the kid can’t stand in the trolley, health and safety. And I’m thinking, surely my kid’s health and safety are my business; nothing to do with you. But I say nothing.
My back is sore. The old chair was fucked. That’s why I changed it. Why else would I bother? I’d keep things forever if they never broke. You should see my T-shirts. They have to be rags before I even think of binning them. And they become like old friends. I’ve known some of them longer than I’ve known my wife, after all.
I just finished reading about Paraha grammar. There should be a tilde in there but you know how it is. So anyway, some guy claims that it is a countercase to “Universal Grammar” and these other guys say it isn’t, it’s just another language, which fits like this and this. I started reading his reply, but he is a man whose thesis is crushed, and he just can’t let go. And that makes bad reading, because he is left with a wilderness of special pleading and reinterpretation.
In a short while, I go to pick up Mrs Z and the kids. They’ve been at the inlaws the past couple of days. No one ever said I couldn’t or wouldn’t go to their house, but I don’t any more. I used to enjoy it. They live on an island famed for its natural beauty. But whereas I once had an open mind, I now have “inlaws”, just like the cliche. Fucking Word! It stuck the accent on. I don’t want it, so now I have to fix the autocorrect thing.
I am thinking about reading Billy Bragg in Teh Graun on the subject of patriotism. I’m not sure I can be bothered though. I read a post this morning on Aaronovitch Watch that quoted Orwell. He pretty much said it all on the subject. I have read the last graf of Bragg and that’s enough:
An expression of our values in a document enforceable by law would give those who wished to integrate something tangible to aim for and empower newcomers to hold us to account if we fail to live up to our own aspirations.
Fuck that! What a bellend! I don’t even want to know what he thinks should be in the document. The point is, Billy boy, what values you do or don’t have are your own business, and nations only have values in so far as they aggregate the values of the people who make them. Yeah, some write them down and try to make them objects of worship (hello America) but they are doomed to failure, because people will resolutely adopt or ignore values that appeal to them, or appealed to their fathers. Anyway, my values can pretty much be summed up in a sentence: Just don’t fucking bother me and be nice to your mum.
Okay, I’m lying. I have principles. I just haven’t decided what they are today.
I am editing a book on information systems. It is a collection of the grindingly obvious. This cannot conceivably pass as having a pedagogical purpose. If you don’t already know 90 per cent of this, you are too dim to be allowed to graduate. Only the chapter on database design has been of any conceivable use. The chapter I’m now working on is talking about how crucial a mission statement is for “strategy”, for fuck’s sake.
This is how wisdom works in our world. People repeat this bullshit, over and over, until gainsaying it seems impolite.
It bothers me a bit that people I like aren’t real but, I have to tell you, I was thinking this morning about whether if I stopped over on my way to the UK (which is unlikely, because I’m not all that likely to go via the States), I would like to make any of the people I know online real, and I was a bit frightened of the idea. Frightened? Or anxious? Anyway, I wasn’t clear on what it would add to them bar a potentially good experience for the files, as it were.
I could see the point of meeting S. Or could have seen it back when she hadn’t decided that I just wasn’t worth bothering with.
Which I’m not. I’ve never really minded bad opinions of me, whether they are my inlaws’ (perhaps deserved), S’s (not half as deserved as mine of her) or K’s (in the what teh fuck, bitch? category frankly). Occasionally, someone will say that my view of myself is not the same as theirs of me, and I say, I have no idea. I have no idea what your view of me is.
I am not having fun. I don’t want to drive to Cleveland. But it’s not like a huge amount of my life isn’t made up of doing things I don’t want to anyway.
And by the fucking way, it’s not painful that you have to do what you don’t want to do – and the pain isn’t lessened by knowing that others have to do what they don’t want to even more so
– it’s knowing that you could conceivably be doing something you actually do want to.
If you had a clue what you wanted, I mean.
A world for dogs
My life is hell because I hope. I hope that it will change, that my circumstances will alter and suddenly, I will be thrown into a world that allows me to fulfil my potentialities. My life is doubly hell because I know that that hope will not, cannot be realised. Or is it?
In Myth of Sisyphus, Camus suggests that we must imagine Sisyphus happy because he is able not to hope. He knows that there can be no change in his existence. He will push the rock up the hill forever. I think "happy", for Camus, means "has peace of mind". Sisyphus is not tormented by his ordeal, because he cannot see any alternative. There is no hope of its changing, so he is able to put away any image of a different fate.
I see a parallel between Camus' idea that happiness is only achievable once one has surrendered hope and the Buddha's idea that suffering is an outcome of attachment. What is it that the Buddha believes we are attached to if not hope? Hope that we can escape the limitations of our physical existence, that we can create structures, symbols, images that will have meaning -- with the consequent suffering when they are shown not to, or are broken, as they are doomed to be.
We all understand why dogs are happy. They are happy because they know no different. Yes. And we are unhappy because we do know different. We know that things could be different: there could be peace on earth, people could be nicer to one another, we could be richer, more fulfilled, happier. So we hope for those things.
The chief hope we have, of course, is that the absurd joke that seems to have been played on us, that we are creatures who are capable of conceiving eternity but will die in only a few decades from now at most, will have the punchline of eternal life after all. We will not be plunged into oblivion, ha ha. Nice one, God.
But of course we will. I have no hope at all of anything after death. I find the prospect grim but that alone is not sufficient to inspire me to hope for any other outcome than my extinction. But having come to that conclusion, can I not find a way to accept it calmly? Well no. I approach it with screeching terror. It is a dark cloud over everything one does, thinks, cares for. I look at my children with horror, because I realise that they too must die, and that I have killed them just as surely as I gave them life.
I also look at my life with horror. I cannot surrender hope and I'm tormented by visions of what it could be (not, sadly, coherent or fully formed visions, which would hint at how to reach them, but sharded, incomprehensible dreams, which seem to be alternate realities rather than attainable futures). Worst of all, feeling that it is hopeless is the deepest torment. Feeling that I will not be rescued from this life, that I will not be recognised as talented, worthwhile, interesting (regardless whether I am any of those things, they are what I want to be), that I will not do anything that shows talent, has worth, is interesting, brings me intolerable anguish. I cannot walk down the hill with a steady tread, because I cannot convince myself that I am condemned to push my stone up the hill (or, to avoid stretching the metaphor to extinction, that I am condemned to have a boring, ordinary life that will amount to nothing, and worst of all, condemned to have it here, in this horrible, soulless place -- by which I do not just mean Brisbane).
For me though, hope is suffering. I know it. I am tormented by the hopes I had that I didn't fulfil, and those I have that I will not. There is a serious flaw in Camus' reading of the Sisyphus myth. Only a person with sufficient willingness to think about the world can come to the absurd conclusion. But that person is condemned to be unable to surrender hope cheerfully. (I have not reread enough of the Myth to recall whether Camus suggests an answer to that problem, but I do not remember that he did.) I am a smart guy, I know. I enjoy reading, learning, finding out about the world. But none of that helps me at all. I would be better off if the part of me that wants to learn were simply excised. Because it's the part that's scourging me, goading me, making my life hell. Being able to imagine different worlds is a curse of the thinking person. Dogs cannot. They have no mental space to put other worlds into. I do not know how I can close down my mental space so that I can cease to hope.
I sometimes look at those who have certainty with envy, even if their certainty is entirely illusory. Convinced Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, people with causes are able to live fulfilling lives that make sense to them. Camus criticises this kind of person for the sham of their existence, and he claims that their happiness is not real. But I've never quite understood Camus' basis for despising it, except that the thinking person can clearly see that it is false. But if it does no harm, if it creates a good life, what harm is there in being wrong? What harm is there in the simple acceptance of hope, if it makes you happier than the cruel torment of being unable to accept it and unable to surrender it both? Some existentialists, of course, having thought this far, took the leap into faith, and became Christians. They weren't fooling themselves, as Camus suggests. They were all too aware that they were manufacturing hope. They simply could not see any way to have peace of mind without it, because it is so hard to surrender it entirely.
None of this is to suggest that I think Camus is wrong about the world or that I think hope is a correct solution to the problem of the absurd conclusion. Just as I think that it is too hard for the thinking person to close down hope entirely, I also think that it is too hard for them to accept it entirely. It would not be possible for me to become evangelised. The little demon on my shoulder would not stop saying "it's all bullshit, you know", any more than it stayed silent on Kierkegaard's.
I do not imagine Sisyphus happy. I imagine that the gods have their way with him. Sisyphus was a smart guy, which was what got him into trouble in the first place. Perhaps as he marches down the hill, he puts a brave face on it, but he will surely have the lingering thought that the gods will show mercy. I am the same. I know that my efforts will be unavailing, and perhaps I could more or less accept that. But a small corner would remain confused with hope that the world -- an abstract entity less liable to change its course for me than the Greek gods! -- will show mercy on me.