When someone says, why should the rich pay more in tax, I say, why should the rich be rich?
Of course you believe the rich should be rich if you believe you might be rich. But it doesn't make sense if you will always be poor. It used to be that people knew their station, and knew they could not become rich. Now they believe that the government will steal what's theirs should they win the lottery or have a hit pop single.
There are so many celebrities on TV that they have lost sight of how few people strike it lucky. No one reflects long on broken dreams.
A free market only seems like a good idea if you benefit from it. And if you benefit from it a great deal, it must surely occur to you that it cannot be fair.
Markets would only be free if all were free to compete. Which they are not.
I do not get to have my book published and let the market decide whether it's good. If the market's gatekeeper does not like my book, I have to use means to publish it that do not afford me equal access to the market.
The same is true of access to riches, but the argument would require more development than I have time for.
My finger feels twisted when I touch it, but it doesn't hurt. Sometimes when I think about how there are bones beneath my skin, I feel scared. I think about the Elizabethans, who would keep a skull on their desk as a memento mori, and I ask myself why the fuck you'd want reminding that you're going to die.
I was going to write more, but all it is is blah blah blah. I am considering the mystery of why when I type finger, I without fail spell it giner. This is the most interesting thing about me today.
So I gather up what I loosely refer to as my balls, and ask my boss if I can keep my job if I go home to the UK.
She's more positive than I expect. She thinks the work would "tail off" but obv. I can live with that.
It's not a whole week's work each week though, so I need more. P found a place that works up bids and tenders, who look like they need editors at least sometimes. P is good at finding things. She is wasted on the bullshit jobs she mostly does, but life wastes most of us. It's nice to have a friend whose idea of caring about me is to try to help me, rather than solely consider me as someone they can whine to about their life and just not bother with when times are good.
So that all sounds good but you just know it can't be all good, right? Yah, obv. Mrs Zen is throwing up roadblocks as quickly as she can. Her problem is that her life here is really easy, and she doesn't mind that. It's all about leverage. Because I don't pay the rent and because a court would award her the kids if we split, she knows I can't invite her to fuck off if she doesn't like it. So she must have a car, four-to-six weeks off when we get there "to settle the kids in", no drop in her standard of living, a garden, live in Brighton not a town near it, all her stuff, etc etc etc.
So instead of my concern being that I need the other ten hours of the week to be filled somehow, I have a ton of stuff I have somehow to make happen.
Or lie about. There's always that. Yeah yeah, you can have a car. Yeah, we will have the same standard of living. No, it's fine if you don't work.
The problem is, we get there and suddenly she's faced with work or starve, it's not going to make a good basis for moving forward with our marriage.
But I will be home.
So I smashed my finger with the fan but nothing broke. Later, I dreamt I was dying, but when I awoke, I was still here, alone in the downstairs room.
Hail to the chief
The disllusionment starts here but you know, good fucking riddance, bitches:
So I have had a fruitless email correspondence with 1car1.com, who you may recall, shafted me over a minor graze on a rental car
This was three months ago. This is a car they are claiming is seriously damaged. Presumably it can't be hired out while so badly smashed about (although I would be absolutely astonished, truly, if it had not been rented out several times in those three months, because the plain truth is that the damage was so minor they could just put it on the hire form). But no word. They are supposed to have repaired it, but apparently it takes several weeks to receive an invoice. Maybe they should get a new garage. Mine invoices me on the spot.
They took 500 quid of my money and have neither returned any nor let me know how much they intend to rape me for.
This is good business? Their guy in customer service whose job is to bullshit customers says that if I have a complaint I can go to the BVRLA
Erm yeah. I should complain to a body whose members are carhire firms, whose staff's wages all come from contributions from said firms? LOL.
The customer bullshitter's line, ultimately, is "all
procedures set in place have been actioned correctly". Yes, of course they were. The procedures are in place to rape hirers in this circumstance. Why should 1car1.com have any other procedures? It takes your money and then basically, you can go fuck yourself, paying interest to your credit card company for the money they took while they invent reasons for not giving any back. (One supposes that their "procedures" take a very long time so that you have given up hope of getting any money back, and will be pathetically grateful to receive a tenner.)
I realise I should have photographed the damage. You'd never believe that it's something that needs three months to fix. My sister's boyfriend, who knows a few guys in the valeting business, said his mate P would have fixed it up in five minutes if my sister had not rung 1car1.com. It really is that small: a scratch that you simply would not bother fixing on your own car.
500 quid is about 1100 dollars in Australian money. I could buy
a car for that, let alone get a graze fixed in the shop.
The problem with "procedures", I would be telling the customer bullshitter if I believed it would make any difference, which of course it would not, is that they exist to prevent human interaction, to deny human space, if you like, to people, to prevent them from being able to react reasonably to things that you do to them, and ultimately to deny natural justice.
What do I mean by "natural justice" in this context? I mean what a reasonable person would think was right in the situation. Anyone looking at the car would say, that's about a hundred quid, tops. (Just as with Import CDs
, the natural thing to do--actually the dictate of sanity--would be not to send the CD to the completely wrong address, where no one lives who wants it, but to take some other course, like maybe sorting it out with Amazon.)
People do this all the time though. Their companies have invented "procedures" basically to fuck the customer, to prevent us from receiving service, while giving us "service".
After my previous post, I received an email from (someone purporting to be from) 1car1.com, asking for details of my hire, so that they could investigate. I told him I didn't care about their "customer service" because when I had written to the Brighton office about the hire, they had not even bothered responding. I suppose they don't have a procedure for that (and the guy's job is to talk down 1car1.com's bad name -- see him here
not addressing the person's review, but blahblahing about it: LOL at "We do not use accident damage as a money making scheme"--yah, "Rob", it just happens that the damage costs always the amount of the excess, no matter how small the scratch). The only way to force bad businesses to give good service, real service, not a substitute invented simply to make you go away and stop bothering them, is to refuse to do business with them.
I'll never use 1car1.com again, and I hope that no one who reads this blog does. I hope this post and the other get as many hits as my post on Import CDs (at least one a day). Ultimately, these people will, I hope, lose a lot more than 500 quid by fucking me over, and somewhere down the track, someone in their business will realise that taking people's money for months and working up a huge bill so that you can get to keep it may be good business in the short term but it's bad bad bad business in the long.
As a coda, let me note that I'm not alone in being fucked by these people: check out the complaints here
. A fair few people with tiny scratches that mysteriously cost the whole excess, all having the excess whipped out of their account and not a word for months. It seems I was absolutely right when I nailed this as a big scam. (The thing is, if you're going to fuck people over for tiny scratches on cars, guys, you should fuck us for half
the money. 250 quid would have been VERY expensive, but it's just feasible it could cost that. Taking all 500
really just looks suspicious to us and makes us angry enough to complain
.) I wish I had googled these people first! Why are people saying this all over the web if there is no scam, "Rob"?:The costs will be 500 pounds no matter how minor the damage.
Did Citeh pick Kaka because they knew he would likely be unavailable but didn't want to go for someone obviously unavailable, like Messi, so that the fans would feel they had ambition? My theory is that that's precisely what they did, because they want to build a team, not acquire a bunch of galacticos. This story
hints at it. I dunno though. Hughes has never struck me as that astute. His buys certainly haven't been: Bellamy is super bad for that money, not quite as fast as he used to be, and never that good a player outside of being fast, and here he would definitely have done better to spend more on a better player--Villa springs to mind; de Jong is workmanlike and I don't think he will excel in the Premiership; Bridge is meh at best. And those he's after are not much better: Roque Santa Cruz had one good season but is not going to set Citeh on fire; Scott Parker has had his limitations thoroughly exposed; Shay Given is a decent keeper but there are good reasons he has not been snapped up by a big team; Winston Palacios is absurdly overpriced.
So Mandelson says higher taxes on the rich won't make society fair
, but curiously, Mandelson (rich) doesn't say why.
The reason is he can't. He knows that he is flat-out lying. There is no equity in a society that allows one person to have millions while another has nothing, and equity is clearly increased when resources are redistributed to closer to par.
But Mandelson doesn't dine with the poor and he doesn't hang out on our yachts either.
Kids' TV these days is much brasher and louder than it was in "our day", and more's the pity. The dimwits who pursue fame through the route of children's TV presenting won't inspire our kids the way Tony Hart
inspired us, and the world of entertainment is so much poorer without him.
The Guardian featured a horribly dull article by Julian Baggini the other day (can't be arsed googling it), in which he wiffled about neologisms. And fuck me, here's Duncan Campbell
, who needs no excuse to be dull, whining that we use too many baseball metaphors. Someone should smack his shit out of the park, hur hur.
You know when you hear an album and you're like meh, but then your tastes change, and you listen again, and you're like wow.
Well, I have to tell you, Cabaret Voltaire's Plasticity is a really fucking good album and I retract the bad review I gave it in Exit 33.
Which I don't think ever got published. Story of my fucking life.
It's nothing new that Jewish writers accuse people who deplore Israel's viciousness towards the Palestinians of antisemitism, as does Elizabeth Wurtzel in the Guardian
, but to do so they need to ignore two things.
When they bleat that we are not outraged about what China does, or what Sudan does, they ignore that we take note that Israel is a democracy, "a beacon of freedom" we are told, and most importantly, a Western nation, one of us
They also need to forget that Israel is central in the American discourse. Wurtzel notes that American politicians (but not people, as it happens) mindlessly back Israel, but never stops to ask whether that might make it a more salient issue to us, interested as we are in America and its doings (America being, as we are so often told, the leader of the free world; our leader, in that case). America does not endorse, support or arm China or Sudan. You also, as it happens, do not see that many op-eds in American papers by people who identify, as a matter of ethnicity, with any of the factions in Sudan, or with China.
Furthermore, Wurtzel notes that anti-Americanism and the anti-Zionism she labels as "antisemitism" have become intermingled, but doesn't acknowledge that this is caused by America's unflinching support for the oppressive Zionist regime and its doings. America and Israel are seen, rightly, as partners in crime. No one is unaware that Israel is America's proxy in the Middle East, or that America, which could have prodded Israel along the path to peace, has instead nodded and winked it into a gruesome war against everyone else in the area.
Oh, and Hamas and Hezbollah are
social organisations. They do good things and bad things. Wurtzel cannot, of course, acknowledge this, because only if you believe that the Palestinians are basically animals can you look on with equanimity as a modern army slaughters them.
I have a question for Wurtzel, which I feel she might consider. When castigating those of us on the left who feel that Israel deserves opprobrium, and sliming us with the notion that we're only angry with Israel because the Israelis are Jews, has it ever occurred to you that the only reason you support Israel is that you are Jewish?
What am I saying? I'm saying, it's not us, it's you! The reasons for our indictment of Israel are complex (and if we are honest, there is a dose of antisemitism in the mix--don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that most on the left are driving by hatred of Jews, but I am agreeing that some on the anti-Israel side are; and also that opposing Israel will, sadly, drive you to have some unsavoury bedfellows, and I would also agree that the left has committed the unforgivable sin of believing that the enemy of our enemy is our friend, so that leftists have been willing to march with ultrarightists, not just of the skinhead variety but also Muslims whose worldview is as abhorrent to us as any that exists), but the reason for Wurtzel's blind support of Israel is simple: she is Jewish.
Why do I care about this trash? Because, although I am becoming less sure that there should be a Jewish state, I admire Jewish people, their love of culture and education, their tenacity against the enormous odds, their humanity, and their supergoodlooking women. I am far from an antisemite. I couldn't care less what the ethnicity of my neighbours is and never have.
The key to Wurtzel's mindset, and that of many similar writers, is this sentence:
If you are looking for antisemitism, you can find it anywhere.
Well yes, you can. I'm forcibly reminded of those Muslims who, like clockwork, moan and bitch when their neighbours put china pigs in their windows or eat bacon sandwiches, or American fundamentalists who find gross upset wherever they look in our secular society. If you want to find offence, it's not a tough task. If you want to manufacture antisemitism out of our outrage, it's easy. All you have to do is make us as one-dimensional as you've made the Arabs, and voila, here we are, more cartoon villains picking on Jews, who need to lash out at us, always defensive, always fighting, never willing to understand.
A curiously affecting piece
about Gaza, which doesn't draw conclusions.
***He really did want to hurt him.
Those tatts say Boy is not so femme these days, hey?
***Remind me, what are these values you're fighting for?
***Transfer windows are fun.
In what other job would your new employer pay more than 100 million to your old one to have you work for them?
It's not a surprise though: it was obvious that Citeh would try to buy Kaka, the world's best player, and equally obvious that they'd have to pay nine figures to get him. What is
surprising is that Hughes thinks that signing Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy is a step to becoming Champions League class.
Meanwhile, at Liverpool...
Now that is a bit odd, because managers in Spain generally have no say at all who their club signs.
FUCK OMAHA. I was playing a $3 tourney. I have AAQT with one ace suited, a strong hand. Some guy had raised pot and I reraised pot. He should have folded at that point. He had KKxx with nothing suited. My hand is face up and he's not a good enough shot to outrun it.
The flop is three uncoordinated cards and I bet pot again. He definitely should fold now, because he has basically two outs to catch my hand.
The turn is a K. Fuck this shit. I've played three Omaha tourneys this month and each time some guy has caught me from way behind and I've busted short of the money. Fuck Omaha, fuck poker and fuck the inevitable "trust in the cosmos"/"look them in the eyes and bluff"/blah blah blah that some will take this post to be inviting.
Is there anyone else who wants to email me to give me a lecture on why I am shit?
I am not here for you to pimp out to your mates as a manuscript reader, nor am I here for you to make fun of me for taking something seriously that I take seriously. If you genuinely believe that either thing will get you a good reaction, you're a fucking fool, and I'm afraid I don't tolerate fools particularly well.
OTOH, I am more than willing to look at your own ms if you are a friend to me and I have time
and I don't mind being made fun of for taking something seriously that I don't really take seriously.
And the truth is, I already have a miserable cunt to point out how horrible I am at the slightest provocation and I find it really fucking hard to believe that anyone who actually is my friend wants to make that the substance of our conversation.
So. I am shit. I'm not changing. If you don't like it, fuck off.
Means and ends
Finnish has verbs that are marked for telicity. That's what I know today that I didn't know yesterday.
To understand telicity, contrast:
I shot a bear
I shot at a bear.
Hitting the bear is telic. The word "telic" means "with a purpose" or "with an end (in mind)", but my understanding is that telicity distinguishes outcomes, not purposes. So it doesn't distinguish shooting at the bear accidentally and on purpose, but hitting it or just shooting in its general direction.
More generally, of course you could describe the intelligent design worldview (or any worldview that contains the belief that God made the universe for a specific end) as telic.
The classically trained among us, and those who speak Greek, will recognise telos
as the word for "end" in Greek.
I watched a Dogishead video yesterday in which he suggested that pokerists have "poker schemas". I tried to figure out what my schema is. It seems to be "wait for good cards and bet the shit out of them, then shove whenever you think you can get away with it or have a great hand".
I am obv. lacking deep understanding. I don't know how to acquire it. The only people I have to talk poker to are either completely uninterested (and think losing is funny (wrong--I hate losing and if you mock my hating it, you are likely to be invited to go fuck yourself) or whine about how boring talking about the only thing I'm interested in) or don't know any better than I do. It's intensely frustrating that people win at the levels I want to win at but have a theoretical understanding that's inferior to mine by far.
So I have to do it on my own, and probably should do something systematic and achievable. This means forgetting what I "know" and learning from scratch. I think I should do that because I seem to have a very cluttered mental space.
Or maybe I should focus on improving on what I'm already good at, and worry less about what I am failing at. Is this just a way of lowering the target so that you can aim lower though?
Most of my study has not been very directed though. I've just picked up bits and pieces. Being systematic would probably be better but I'm not sure how to create that system. Others who have achieved what I want to can't help, because they took different paths and weren't on the whole systematic either.
I also don't play enough. Experience is how you find out what works, of course.
Reading about "luxury" brands is depressing. Some guy designs horrible clothes for airheaded women who think they look good in horrible clothes, and he's successful. So he makes perfume.
But why would a guy who is "good" at making clothes be good at making perfume? Well, he isn't, of course. He is supposed to be good at picking people to make perfume for him. You are supposed to be buying his taste.
Meh. It should not be surprising, of course, that there are whole industries based on the (fully justified) belief that people are complete fucking idiots, but you can't help feeling a little sad about it.
I remember being in the Country Road section in Myer and looking at some of the clothes. Country Road is an "upmarket" clothes line for the masses, which means it's not mega expensive but it costs more than the store's own brand or whatever. But when you check the label, you see that the clothes are Made in China/Made in India, and it strikes you that they are made in the same factories as the store's own brand.
A cousin of my wife's used to work in a factory that canned pineapple. The line bifurcated after the pineapple had been canned, so that the cans could carry different labels. Pretty standard, of course, but the labels were Black & Gold (a budget brand) and Golden Circle (a more upmarket brand). Golden Circle would cost, what, 50% more for a can.
That's capitalism. Greedy shits preying on fucking idiots from top to bottom while somewhere in Africa a child is dying because he can't get enough rice to eat.
And I was thinking, this is how the world is: it's made when you get there. Thousands of years of people born into misery because it's already set up so that you're fucked.
We could do better. But here's what's odd. If I believe that of all the rest of you, why don't I believe it of myself? Maybe it's simply that I don't know what better would look like, and being somewhat telic myself, if I can't see it, I can't get there.
How many hours have you budgeted for this book?
WTF? It's not physically possible to do it in 30 hours.
It's already been copyedited. How many do you need?
It doesn't matter that it's been copyedited. I still have to read every line. Maybe I can do it in 40.
That would be good. Then the next project will come your way.
(So basically I'm being threatened that if I can't do it in 40 hours, I don't get another project. That's nice.)
This is what it is. All the work I have is these people, who futz about for weeks and then give me two weeks to turn round 300-page books and want it done in less time than most readers will take to read it, should it have any readers, and my main gig, which rather than the easy editing job that it was when I took it has become a nightmare authoring gig, which I don't want.
In the bathroom she covers her breasts.
I don't say anything.
It's like dealing with a silly teen.
I realise that I could have managed a woman quite easily, but I don't have the patience for teenagers. I suppose I should develop it for the time when (if?) I have to deal with Zenella, who is already pretty hormonal.
I'd like a woman, actually. A grown one.
I have flaws, but not being an adult is not one of them.
My dad offered me money to take a holiday in the UK.
But I said I'd rather take the money to get everyone home.
That seems so distant a prospect though, now I don't know whether I should just take the holiday, maybe with Zenella, who really wants to go.
It doesn't make me feel better, going there. It makes me feel much worse.
I was embittered, depressed and hopeless before I went.
Now I'm pretty much lost all interest in even living.
I'm at the point where I'm beginning to wonder whether living without my kids would be worse than living with them.
Could I keep Zenella there? Not bring her back and use her as leverage to force Mrs Zen to bring the twins there too?
If I had more money, that's what I'd do. Mrs Zen would resent it, but so fucking what? She already resents everything I do.
What if I restricted her access to money? She won't work full time, so she doesn't have all that much income. I could possibly restrict her access to her own money even, in the short term.
Am I at the point where I need to show her what a bad marriage is, in the hope of her reconciling herself to the truth that she doesn't have that? She has a marriage that is in dire straits, but it's fixable. She's not married to just anyone.
Although this dreary shit really has made me almost indistinguishable from just anyone.
What would I tell you if you were me? If I was advising you, what would I tell you?
If I had regrets, I would have two, maybe three.
1. That I never learned to be a TESOL teacher, because I think I would have liked being a teacher. I like teaching people what I know. I feel good when I do it.
2. That I didn’t take the job in Korea as an English tutor because Mrs Zen was pregnant and she made such a huge fuss about that.
The third is a secret, although it's not a big one, and if you think you know it, you do not, unless you are the person I mentioned it to.
I think (2) is worst, because I did "the right thing" but it was the oh so wrong thing. I didn't resent it then and I don't now, although it's one of the few bad decisions in my life that weren't my choice.
Sometimes in an STT, you just don't know what to do, so you just shove your chips in. You know it's -EV, but that's for the long run, and right now, they'll mostly fold and you'll gain some leeway.
I love to shove. I love the freedom of knowing that you have put it all on the line. I hate losing, of course, but shoving is a kind of winning, a display of your willingness to win and gamble to do it.
And I am getting blinded out here, day by day, losing my stock until I have nothing left to gamble with.
So news: kids are obsessed with sex. And the authorities overreact
. So yeah it's horrible if some oik gets hold of pictures of your daughter's hot, luscious... kof, erm, yeah whatever. You know, get the fuck over it. They don't learn to start hating sex until they're married.
The water tastes like shit.
Literally. I'm not just saying it's not good-tasting. It literally tastes like shit.
They say it's just a coincidence that they've started adding recycled water to the supply.
We all know we're drinking shit.
Eventually, we'll all start smelling of shit.
It will seep out of our pores.
I already look like shit, can't think for shit, don't know shit.
Life is shit.
I am going to have to learn to love shit.
Zenella has a sleepover and there is a crisis.
So T, her friend since she began to live here, is sleeping over
and E, her best friend from school.
And Zenella says, can E2 sleep over?
And there's some toing and froing and then we're all out in the front yard and T and Zenella are crying.
T wants to sleep over at E2's.
Are you fucking kidding?
Well, kids are like that; they don't see past what they want. And lots of adults too. It's the way things are here. For all our faults, the English at least grasp that others want things too. Australians don't care.
Mrs Zen doesn't care. I can't imagine what her head is like. Inside her head, I mean.
See, we have a budget of 700 dollars. It's not a huge sum of money, but no one goes without. It's not all I have, but it's what we live on week to week. We'd spend about 300 on food. The rest, dunno. I don't really think too much about it. It's what I put aside for the week to week and that's that.
700 bucks a week is, I think, more than the average wage. Before tax. So Mrs Zen thinks life would be easy if we were separated but I think she doesn't realise that I wouldn't have 700 dollars for her.
I wouldn't have anything, would I? Is she counting on my not wanting the children to go without? Is she thinking that I will sacrifice everything for that?
I don't think she thinks at all. She just wants me to be nice. I just want her to be someone I can be nice to.
That's pretty fucking intractable.
You'd think that that would be an incentive though. Maybe she calculates that for me to be happy, we'd have to have less money. Maybe she just doesn't think about it at all.
I don't know because if we talk, the only thing she ever wants to talk about is what a cunt I am. Well, you know, I have good and bad things about me, like anyone, but I never was these things until I arrived where I am, and I'm pretty sure it's not fixed.
But if you simply don't believe anything is your fault, how can you fix anything?
You know though, I get envious about other people doing well at poker when I think they know less than I do or are misapplying the principles, which they do. You can simply run hot and not be anything like as good as you think. But I wouldn't be envious if I never heard from them. I am forced to have an inauthentic conversation and I hate those.
The problem is only that I want to help them. I want to say, don't forget that you can be running good and can also run bad, so keep studying and trying to improve. Which they generally don't. They run hot, move up fast and then blame "variance" when their lack of ability catches up with them.
Well, maybe. Maybe I overthink it.
I was going to say that being alone in a basement means that you overthink things a lot, but actually, I don't think much at all. My feelings about poker are gut reactions. If I actually reason it out, it's not so hard to deal with. My results have mostly been really good in games my skills are well suited to, and not so good in games that need more specialised skills. I'm improving those skills, and will probably improve quite a bit in those games. I need experience too, and that experience will show me whether I'm right.
See, it's not so hard.
But I find it hard.
Is it only seeing with the penetrative look?
Is it only seeing to the heart of it?
How come I can see to the heart of your
Am I completely turned into myself so that I cannot step outside?
I was going to eat cheese and biscuits for lunch but I'm feeling like there is dough in my stomach, expanding until I have no feeling of hunger at all.
I would hate to die before ever having lived. But when will I live?
This year or so
Did you come inside me?
I'm not taking the pill.
I leave Zenita at the gate.
She is crying.
She says she's unwell.
I think she just wants to stay at home.
Later, Mrs Zen tells me Zenita has been complaining of being unwell.
I feel worn out.
Who am I kidding?
I don't feel anything,
except a pain in my chest
that comes and goes.
I think it's an outcome of smoking
but two nights ago it beat in time with my heart.
I was surprised how slowly it pulsed.
It didn't hurt enough to worry me.
I had a dark moment,
dwelling on my dissolution,
I've never feared what I couldn't change.
At least I didn't until I was *mumbles*.
Then I realised I was fucked
and I didn't relish the realisation.
It felt like I had already died.
And maybe I have
because this doesn't feel like living.
I am looking at Naughtyman's smile
and the parrots are in the trees
and I do not know anything I can do
to stop this world from crushing the life
out of us in the end.
I touch his face
and his skin is soft and you have to wonder
what forms it will take
and will I see them?
Because I do not know how much I will see of him
after this year or so.
I don't believe we can give up.
I think we have to try harder
because we are not compatriots.
I think that just blaming me
would not be enough
because our kids are innocents
even if we are not.
Not that I feel particularly guilty.
I have flaws
but it's not like I developed them yesterday
and I have a lot to offer.
Have you ever stopped to think
whether you actually do?
When you are thinking about
how I owe you so much,
are you also thinking about
whether you paid for any of it?
Well, are you?
I take it back about Yanks. There are
people stupider. Take Carlo Strenger
He says, I shit you not,
Israelis are divided on the extent to which we can let an enemy dictate the amount of human damage we inflict on them.
You read it right. Those nasty Palestinian children are just forcing the lambs in the IDF to kill them.
Strenger trots out all the old horseshit: the Hamas charter, blaming the victim, we never started it, guvnor, we're civilised, they're savages. His views on whether it's "civilised" to try to starve people for voting for people you don't like are notably absent though.
You have to remind yourself when wading through this bullshit, that this:
Hamas has changed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from something that can be solved, to a clash defined by the principle that only one side can survive - critics cannot expect Israel to accept this simply because it is the stronger side.
is simply not true. Hamas has said it will accept an Israeli state. Israel, it seems, will not accept a Palestinian one.
So the right loves power, but they let Obama take it, and he's like some commie or something, what's wrong with that picture?
I'm one of those truthers who thinks that they would have staged a coup if they were seriously in danger of losing their grip, so I'm now thinking they haven't lost their grip.
There isn't much about Obama anyway that's unorthodox, except for the whole black thing. Dip him in milk and he would just be another good talker.
Anyway, fuck that. I've been blogging for years and I only have 50 hits a day, and about three devoted readers. That's not fame and fortune, now is it?
The problem is, I have a life that consists of almost precisely nothing, which doesn't really make me happy. So I have nothing to write about. Which doesn't seem to bother most of the blogging world, but you know.
So you think to yourself, maybe I need more in my life or maybe I should just write more about nothing.
Maybe I should start another blog on which I'm interesting. I've often thought about it, but I'm not sure what subject I could be interesting about.
"Today I sat in my downstairs room and cursed my life for leading me to writing a course about fraud" doesn't really entice. But what else do I have? I tried reviewing CDs, but I grew so bored, I knew that no one else could possibly be loving it. I should probably go to the movies or something. Or take up a drug habit.
Last night we went to hit some golf balls at the range. I vaguely understand what you're supposed to do when you swing at a golf ball, because I read Golf for Dummies, but it took about 90 balls for my body to remember how it's supposed to move. Even then, I was pathetic.
I find mechanical, repetitive practice soothing though. If I could only, find a mechanical way to learn poker, I'd be laughing.
Afterwards, we had Indian from A Night in India in Carindale. I recommend it, particularly if you like the Northern style of Indian cooking. It specialises in rich but well integrated sauces.
It's also cheap, although nothing here is anything like as cheap as it was six or seven years ago (I mean, relatively; I understand inflation, dur). Part of the reason is the grandiose planning of the city council, which has pushed up rates so that it can piss more money away on tunnels into the city. They've followed house prices up. The real estate boom here has been ridiculous, and we're still caught in irrational exuberance, as the locals insist that prices will continue to rise rise rise. Yeah right. See you at your foreclosure proceedings dummy.
I don't know whether our stimulus worked. Well, it worked for me. I think I basically spent the lot. The kids were pretty spoilt, but you know how it is. You give them one big Christmas and then you're stuck with it. Kids are bitches for expectation. But I also did some loyal consumerism, buying the stereo for the car, a new hard drive, blah blah.
I am getting some coaching next week. A guy in our forum put up a request for a hand history to analyse. I won't say why he needed it (sworn to secrecy) but his analysis was ultra helpful. I think that sometimes you just can't see things and need them pointed out to you. You could learn poker from first principles, were you smart enough, but as I've noted before, that's a very long road for you to take, and getting someone who knows to share what they know can be like taking the highway.
So I'm getting a different guy to give me a couple of hours coaching. I'm not sure what he can teach me, but the cost isn't too extreme and I'm sure it will help. I am more relaxed about succeeding in poker now. I just assume I will (or am doing, depending on how you look at it), but I have a life that doesn't permit the time to get there quickly. I have to put envy behind me, because others who are behind me often catch up in one sense or another, and go on to achieve more.
One problem with teh pocer is that it appeals to men who could mostly be described as fuckheads, selfish, asocial types who see the rest of the world as something to take advantage of. It means you get measured not as a human being but as a source of information, whatever.
Me, I'm too whiny to keep poker buddies long, but that's part of what I'm working on this year. I could also do with playing more, but I have always enjoyed thinking about things more than doing them.
Maybe it's just Americans. Increasingly, I realise these guys are not us or anything like us. Brits don't mind whining or being whined at, after all.
But complaining that I don't have a good poker buddy is like complaining that I don't know a generous millionaire or a publisher who thinks I have talent. Yeah, those would be good, but how would any of them ever come my way?
How will anything ever? Except for what already does.
I wish I had me to talk to. I don't know whether I'd like me, but we'd have a lot in common, amirite?
I have people I talk to, and that's fine. I enjoy talking to P, to A, to B (although I'd like it more if B got to the effing point now and then), to Z, to SS. Some people it's a chore to talk to, usually because they get more out of it than I do, and I realise when I say that that I am sometimes the chore. I am not very interesting to talk to, but I would be interesting for me.
Who else wants to know about what I want to talk about? If I had me, we could explore thoughts together, and I think we could work out whether what we want is possible.
I am going to tell you something that is easy to say but may not even be possible. I warn you that it's ferociously boring, but it's the thing I want to talk about more than anything else. It's like there's a jewel, but maybe I imagine it, maybe it's real. Here it is: can you figure out equity on the fly by knowing how a good shove is composed of fold equity and hot and cold equity? I don't just mean can I do it. If it can be done, I believe I can do it. I mean, can it be done? Is it what people do, even if they cannot articulate what they are doing?
See, you don't want to talk about that. But I would.
I think it is crazy that I enjoy trying to figure out the mysteries more than I enjoy playing. That's not really true though. I do enjoy playing a lot. I don't enjoy results. But my results are good! The problem is, I am so scared that they will go bad.
I don't know how to get over that fear. But I think I would if I could discuss it with me.
We would talk all night. We would not abandon each other.
You know something that really hurt? The guy who fucked me over because he couldn't work me for enough money an hour. It hurts to be worth nothing but dollars. I've never thought of people like that, and I'll make a pisspoor capitalist, because I never can. I like giving. I like sharing and seeing people grow. Even though they sometimes outgrow me, I still want to feed them and help them achieve what they can. I don't think I have properly articulated why I was hurt. I think it was that he simply did not treat me as anything other than a cash machine. Maybe it would not have felt bad to him to be treated the same way, but I can't help thinking it would.
I help people all the time with poker. I don't care that I could be making money instead. I like people to think that I've given them something. I like them to feel that their life, in some small way, is better for knowing me.
What else do we have? A scrabble for stuff? WTF, that is all we are, how many dollars we amass?
What I wouldn't talk about is the English language. I'm jack of that. I don't find it intriguing any more, if I ever did. I do find language on the whole intriguing (I follow links in Wikipedia from one thing to another, because language is one thing that is generally written by experts, or cribbed from experts, and rarely gets fucked up by clowns who know nothing but want to wield power in a multiplayer game). I probably don't find it intriguing in the way you do, if you do.
So the other night I was reading about Ulster Scots. This is because I was reading about Irish surnames and I wandered. So from there I got into Scots, and what was interesting for me was thinking about how a language (let's call it a language -- Scots proper is probably at least as different from English as Book Norwegian is from Danish) is dying, but its echoes, in accent and dialect, reverberate. The same is true for Northumbrian, the parent of Scots and the northernmost dialects of English, which is much further down the road to extinction (if not already arrived).
So now there is a Scots continuum: both on the ground and among the population. Some are bilingual: speaking Scots when among Scots, English when in contexts that require it. Some speak a hybrid Scots English; some standard English with a Scots flavour.
Interestingly, Scots was universally spoken, and was the language even of the courts and the intelligentsia, until the Enlightenment. Some of the Enlightened went on a crusade to stamp out Scots, and succeeded. The language of the Scottish middle class is standard English, the exact same language I speak.
I have perennially found it odd that people can have a language they speak and a language they write. I am thinking of Swiss German and standard German, Catalan and Spanish, Egyptian Arabic and literary Arabic.
And it's strange that Arabic is Arabic not Arabish, when Turkish is just the language of the Turks, but Turkic is a type of language, not one in particular.
So the other day I was playing poker, and I noticed someone was called TulsaTrent. And you know how it is, you can't stop yourself thinking, I wonder whether he really is from Tulsa.
No, really, I know. You don't have any problem stopping yourself thinking it. You don't even start. But I do. I'm curious whether he lives in Tulsa, or comes from Tulsa but lives elsewhere and is nostalgic. And on Stars, if you right click someone's name, you find out where they come from. So he is from Owasso, which right enough is an exurb of Tulsa, so Google Maps tells me.
So that's that, right? No, I follow a road out of Tulsa on the map, across Oklahoma and then joining Interstate 1, across Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, meaningless names, places that are nowhere special, no need to know. But I know.
We have no reason for any of it. Realise that and you do not need to care what you do with your time.
Now how the shitting fuck do I change this equation so I can solve for E?
EV = (1-C)(S+1) + C(E(2S)) – (S-0.5)
It's the equation for EV in a push/fold game in poker.
C is how much villain calls.
S is my starting stack in units.
E is the equity I have vs villain's range (the top C% of hands).
(So the second side is "the amount he folds times the stack I will have if he folds" plus "the amount he calls times the equity I have vs his range when he calls times by twice my stack" minus "the stack I would have if I just folded".)
Should be easy to do but I cannot for the life of me work out how to do it. Basically, I want to set EV to zero and work out what E needs to be for different values of S and C.
(So I want to know, to make EV = 0 (breakeven), what value of E do I need given C and S.)
So here's the thing. I'm going to think out loud, and you get to read it. Good huh?
I have a problem. It's a mental thing. I don't know whether it's inherent or the outcome of years of being an editor, but it doesn't really matter, because it exists whichever way it came to be.
What it is, I'm goal oriented. When I face a task, I need to know what the outcome is supposed to be. And I mean, I need
it. Without a defined goal, I become paralysed and unable to work at the task.
I suppose it's a good thing that I've recognised it, because it much more readily explains why I'm lazy than just believing I'm lazy. Because, really, I can do a ton of work if I am properly motivated, so laziness is not really a good explanation.
I realised that I have this problem by thinking about why I hate authoring courses so much. I should be good at it: after all, I believe myself to be a good writer, and it's at least true that I have no problem just writing whatever I want to. I don't struggle to put words together. So why do I hate writing courses? I think the reason is that my briefs are usually too open-ended. I don't know what my output is supposed to look like, and actually neither does my boss. So she fiddles a lot with what I've done, and I don't like that. When I edit, I know what the output is supposed to look like, and I have one of those minds that sees when things are "wrong". But if I don't have a good model of what's right, wrong is impossible to find.
More importantly, it's also hampering my poker, because I find it hard to motivate myself to study. I need to gain skills, particularly in ICM, that require a lot of hard study. But I can't motivate myself to do it. (I have an incentive for doing it: I can make money; but I can't make myself get down to it.) The work is not daunting: if I did three hours a night for a month, I would be skilled enough for my purposes, and do it for three months and I'd likely be as good as anyone.
I say "would be skilled enough" but the problem is that I don't know what "skilled enough" looks like or feels like and I don't know how to acquire the skills. Should I study my games and look deeply into spots I got into? Should I be systematic and work on spots that way? Should I enquire more deeply into the mathematics? Should I just look at tons of hands and hope it somehow soaks in? Different people suggest different methods, which implies there is no "right" way. But there will, I think, be a right way for me.
I am not seeking a functional understanding of ICM, nor am I trying to find a bodge that will "work". Some players do: they build charts that are enough to keep you profitable but are not even close to accurate. I want something more than that. I want to be able to look at a spot and know
what I should do. I don't want to be guessing, as I am now. I want to know. I will make a lot of money if I acquire that ability. It is the single most valuable skill in the form of poker I play.
The problem, in case I'm not clear enough, is that I can't say "do thirty hours of button shoves and you'll understand button shoves to the required level" or "do thirty hours of equity calculations by hand and you'll understand the maths to the point where you can analyse shoves on the fly". There is no "do x, gain y" here that I know of. Or if there is, I don't know what it is.
Also, more importantly, I don't know what knowing ICM would be like. If you're struggling to understand the problem, let me explain by showing you learning with a defined goal. Take being a doctor. When you study medicine, you have a structured route to knowledge. Do the training, understand the human body. You understand it by learning different facts about different things. The body of knowledge required is purely external to you. You could be handed a (big) book with everything you need to know, and then simply study it until you had it down. The incentive for doing it is you get to be a doctor; the route to achieving it is to acquire and remember the knowledge. So someone presents with a cough, and you have a decision tree for coughs that you understand and can follow. Well, in a sense, what I want to achieve is the same. If I have 1.2K on the button and it's t150, my decision can be set out as a decision tree. I just don't know how to make the tree, and although it can be written down, it's not something you can study and remember. It's something you need to internalise.
So what's the solution? I'm thinking that probably I should try to find smaller goals, which I can define more easily, and pursue those. It's not easy, of course, to know which small goals will build into the bigger one, but it should be possible to find goals that I know will at least increase my skill.
And, yes, I know that it's perfectly possible that I'm overthinking it, and that just doing something
would be much much better than being paralysed. I know that. I'm rational, after all. But we are beings who can know things for a certainly and still not be able to overcome the things that block us. Try telling someone with arachnophobia that spiders cannot hurt them.
This article says what there is to say about Gaza. You'd need to be close to irrational, or a plain liar, to disagree with it imo.
This is the key to the crisis:
In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power.
My own view is that Israel decided to fuck Hamas when Hamas stopped
being rejectionists. As soon as Hamas started saying it would accept an Israeli state, Israel's rationale for hurting the Gazan population started to be undermined. (You will not read many American commentators truthfully noting that Hamas no longer calls for the extinction of the Jewish state: rather, they routinely lie about it, as do politicians, and I doubt most Americans are aware that Hamas is not seeking the extinction of Israel at this point--although I accept that were it capable of achieving it, it probably still would.)
The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.
This is why they destroyed the (effective) government. Hamas should not be compared with Al Qaeda, but perhaps with the Tamil Tigers. (Curiously, the Tamils' struggle for justice is mostly ignored by the Western press. Not much oil in Sri Lanka though.)
I'm not keen on Hamas: its ideology is mostly repulsive and I don't believe that Islamic states have been successful, largely because they do not re-create the enlightened times of the Caliphate, but instead become playgrounds for fuckheads who enjoy imposing their personal morality on others. But it does not just aim to destroy: it has built too. It has served its community. It has never been, and even now is likely not, impossible for Hamas to find a constructive place in Palestine. It's hard to say the same for Israel though.
The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community.
You could almost say that it denies even the rudimentary recognition of the other community's humanity. We know where that ends and this has to stop.
Ugly as mainstream sentiment is, you have to go out to the blogs to find the truly repulsive. Debbie Schlussel is occasionally permitted to spew her witless bile by the mainstream press, but I doubt we'll see the likes of this
It's a strange time when you can read a Jew calling for the Final Solution.
The United States of Morans
There are tons of dumb people in this world, but if you want gold-medal clueless, you need Americans.
Step up, David Brooks
, a rightist who poses as a "centrist" (which translates into lecturing the left that it should be nice to the right that fucks it at every opportunity: it's a bit like demanding that a rape victim give her rapist a cuddle). He begins by misanalysing the players in the Middle East. This, in particular, is wrong:
But when Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran became leading players in the Middle East struggle, that land-for-peace game was suspended. A different game with different rules was begun. This new game is not oriented toward a final agreement. The extremist groups believe in the eventual extermination of Israel. They’re not interested in a handshake on the White House lawn.
Iran favours a one-state solution to the Palestinian crisis, and increasingly, so do I. I think it just isn't possible to get Israel to be just, so long as the US mindlessly supports it, and that shows no sign of changing. There can be no "land for peace" while Israel encourages its settlers to steal even more Palestinian land.
States based on ethnicity are a bad proposition. I know that many Israelis, and Jews more widely, ask why it should be a problem that Jews have a state while English people, Hungarians, Chinese do. Well, it's instructive to note that English people do not in fact have a state, but even if we did, it would not truly be based on English ethnicity. There's nothing, really, that it's like
to be English. And certainly nothing that it's like to be British, which drives batty twats like New Labour crazy, because they'd like to appeal to a solid national identity so that they can persecute outsiders. (Which is kind of apt in this concept.) Hungarians are a bit of an oddity. They sort of wandered into middle Europe and never went away. They form a distinct bloc and have done for hundreds of years. The people they dispossessed have long vanished. China is China. If China were smaller, or weaker, it would almost certainly be punished for what it is.
I mean, you can come up with groups of states, claiming them to be ethnic: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, say, but each has simply arisen by the processes of history. The Dutch didn't just rock up and thieve the Netherlands from the Friesians. They arose as a state as states arose. We likely now would not constitute our states on the basis of nations. Jeez, the trouble that caused! And one notes that it is part of the basis for the persecution of Jews that has blighted Europe's history. It's at the same time understandable yet odd that people who have suffered as "outsiders" because they do not share the majority ethnicity wish to have their own state in which they can persecute minorities.
But even if Hamas et al. want to see Israel dissolve into history, they are not trying to eliminate it, nor do they have any hope of Iran's doing so. Whether Iran would if it could is another question. Their goal is not "to kill as many Jews as possible". And if you characterise their goal that way, you must surely not characterise Israel's goal as "restraining the brazenness of the extremists". Israel is itself at an extreme. It displays a nationalism that is quite shocking to the "soft" nations of western Europe. We consider that to be the preserve of troglodytes like the Front National or Vlaamse Blok, not something that the fully rational indulge in.
Brooks tops his nonsense by saying:
Israel’s realistic immediate goal is not to achieve some permanent resolution, but to merely suppress terrorism week by week and month by month.
Can he seriously believe that? Israel's actions have brewed terrorism. I mean, wtf, do you think that attempting to starve a minority into submission would make them content to accept your existence? Does he write this with no awareness of the conditions of Gaza or the West Bank? Look at a map. Look at the Israeli urban sprawl in areas it said would be part of the Palestinian state.
Not to mention that Hamas has observed a ceasefire while Israel tried to provoke it. And of course, plucky beacon of democracy* Israel
refuses even to talk to Hamas, the elected representatives of the Palestinians, demanding that they renounce violence.
Has Israel then renounced violence?
The rest of what Brooks has to say is the all too common wanking over Israel's military "success" that blights American newspapers. Talking of wanking, here's Bill Kristol
. Even by Kristol's standards, this column is incoherent. Somehow the murder of Palestinian civilians is a victory over Iran. Predictably, it's a win in the "war on terror". Well yes, I suppose. The "war on terror" is America's war for hegemony in the Middle East, nothing more, nothing less, and the desperate struggle of the people there to achieve progress. (Ask yourself why they are poor, why they do not live in democracies, why they gain so little from the enormous wealth oil has brought; ask yourself why and you'll find your answer in American tanks, American planes, American political support, American dollars.)
Well, who gives a fuck what Bill Kristol has to say? He surely has no credibility with the readership of the Times
, having been so wrong so often about so many things. It's just that this shit goes pretty much unchallenged in the US media, and the people of the States, clueless about the issues, the players and the history, blindly support racists who, were they situated in southern Europe or somewhere similar, would be the recipients of opprobrium and possibly a severe bombing.
*“What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas [the elected government of the Palestinian people] to govern,” Mr. Ramon said on Channel One. “That is the most important thing.” Return
Israeli officials have generally been reluctant to say that the attack on Gaza is intended to force Hamas from power out of concern that it would undermine the international support they have won by portraying the assault as a purely defensive measure to stop Hamas rockets.
Well, not really, because no one believed that was the point of it in the first place.
People wanting to make the Gaza Strip a more secure place, less likely to spawn terrorists, would not have begun by destroying police stations. Clearly, at least one of Israel's aims is to ensure the continuing supply of enemies.
Interesting Bad science
about HIV -> AIDS denialists, particularly Christina Maggiore, who curiously was not jailed despite murdering her daughter.
Ms Maggiore, who was HIV positive, denied that HIV leads to AIDS, and refused the appropriate treatment. Unfortunately for her, HIV does lead to AIDS, and she died of it.
Here's the thing about denying the facts because you are an adherent of some cockamamie theory: it can kill you. That's true whether you believe prayer or pomegranate juice cures illness. When it's some guy versus the entire scientific establishment, it's nearly always the former who is wrong. Revolutionaries in science do not generally gain fame by denying objective facts, but by suggesting new places to look for new facts, or by providing new explanatory frameworks for the facts.
Do I mean by this that there cannot be "facts" that are wrong? Certainly not. But facts are not things held to be true; they are things observed to be true. So it may be a "fact" that marijuana will make your child go bonkers, but it's not a fact. (Just thought I'd drop that one in there.) Furthermore, it may be a "fact" that record companies have a right to profit hugely from the music you listen to, but that's just their opinion.
See what I did there? "Facts" are not just things we take to be true because they're so commonly believed to be true, but also things that are just opinions, albeit ones that are widely held. Both are poison to the rational.
More bad business
Readers with long memories may remember that I had problems with a CD exporter called Import CDs
. That post gets a hit most days. So it's true what they say about the interwebnet and marketing: it's not just the people who read this blog who will steer clear from Import CDS, but also anyone who is checking them out before doing business with them.
Well, here's another shitty business, and I hope to get hits for them too. I hired a car when I went to the UK from 1car1.com. They were quite cheap and I've found out why. My sister backed into a Cornish dry stone wall and grazed the back bumper. Foolishly, she rang the company to ask whether they would let her pay for the damage on her credit card. I say foolishly because we could probably have covered it up if she hadn't been honest. But whatever, she has a fetish for doing the right thing, and that's not usually a bad quality in a person.
So 1car1.com take 500 quid in "excess", and when my sister contacts them, they tell her it's going to cost nearly 500 quid. I'm not surprised, but obviously there's no way that it really costs that to fix.
The guy who's paid to lie to me about it tells me that their engineer examined the damage and decided it wasn't superficial, and because I had suggested that they wouldn't actually bother repairing it, he said that they repaired their cars to the highest quality.
Which is far from true. The car I hired had scratches already, which were marked on the hire form, and the one my sister did was barely worse. Furthermore, the guy who took the car back in at the hire place asked me whether the scratch had already been there. Clearly, he thought it was the kind of thing that might not get fixed. Unfortunately, I have the same failing as my sister, and I said no, we did it. (Well, he could check it against the hire form, so I wouldn't have got away with lying anyway.)
So that sucks, but I saved money to go away on holiday, so it's not really a big deal. My sister gave me 200 quid. I'd be happy to wear the rest but she wants to pay, so really I'm indignant on her behalf. But I am indignant all the same.
On the same subject, I had another mildly bad experience with a firm that I put an internet order with. They are Pia Jewellery. I ordered a present for Mrs Zen for Christmas. A few days later, I noticed that my credit card had not been charged by Pia (or had been charged and refunded, I think). So I emailed them to ask wtf.
They did not have the item in stock. But did they tell me, so that I had time to get something else for Mrs Z? Did they fuck! They didn't bother, and only after I had emailed them twice, once to ask about the item, the second time to ask whether they were actually still in business, did they bother to tell me that it was out of stock.
So Mrs Zen is having a late Christmas present and Pia Jewellery is on my shitlist.
I'm not really the type to whine a great deal about bad businesses. I expect businesses to be bad, because capitalism sucks and encourages them to be. But still. I have to post it so that it's out there, and with luck, I'll lose 1car1.com more in business than they gained by fucking me over the graze on their car.