Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Read It

There are too many unnecessary books in the world. The culture is saturated. Walking into chain stores such as Borders or Waterstones is like entering a meat-rack of hyped titles, the stacks on the tables waiting to be thumbed before joining the list of publishers' returns. If the author does not network or promote a book, it is as good as dead. Unless they are in the know, how does anyone differentiate the good from the bad? How do you find Anna Kavan? Jeremy Reed A Stranger on Earth - The Life and Work of Anna Kavan.

How did I find Anna Kavan? Those Picador titles, so popular for advancing non-mainstream or cult novelists back in the 70s and 80s, probably. That's when I first read "Ice", maybe 30 years ago. Unclassifiable. Or Robbyn M., one of the girls at work with me then, was a friend/acquaintance of novelists (who knew about novels, duh) - rumour had it (she spread it, no doubt) that she knew someone who was in the house that Helen Garner's "Monkey Grip" (another heroin threaded novel) documents - she may have mentioned Kavan to me. I DO recall her saying that I should read "Julia and The Bazooka", Kavan's only work to dwell on her long-standing drug addiction. I still haven't read that.

Too many books.

As I stood amongst the stands in Kinokuniya in Siam Paragon the other night, I had quite a Kavanesque episode. Jaded old fart that I am, I was looking, as I always am, for something new. Unlikely, hey? What's the chance there is something significant in the World Of Big Literature I haven't heard of by now? I don't mean some brash new FOTM author, all smiles and handshakes, YouTubes and viral marketing (not that I won't stoop to that myself). I mean something substantial.

The secret, as it was for me back in the 70's, is to go by publishers. Picador, Calder, New Directions, Black-Sparrow Press then. New York Review of Books, Serpent's Tail, Hesperus (Peter Owen, Kavan's publisher obviously, others I can't think of here) now.

Then a swelling sensation of contact knocked me aside. From the shelves came a wave of power, desperate strength, as I felt all these excellent NECESSARY books actively vying for my attention. I had visions of the heroes and heroines reaching out to me; effete hands in velvet fluffy sleeves, and coarse nails and stunted fingers on the end coal-dust filthy arms, arms extended from drawing rooms and factories and beetling towers and up out of dank, night-time caverns. Pick me, E@L, pick ME! Don't let my discoveries be forgotten, don't let my message go unheeded, my story untold for another aeon. Don't let others make my mistakes again - I documented them for a good reason... Don't let me sink into oblivion. I have value, I answer your questions or I pose them again in illuminating ways, I offer sanctuary, I blow fresh air into sticky places... Read me, pick me, E@L.

I really did sense this. I really fracking did.

It was overwhelming and I was forced to stand aside to let others browse past me. What would they think of me if I burst into tears of frustration, of insanity? I had the urge to tell them of my hallucinatory epiphany.

A leather vested tough guy with tatts stood absorbed in the poetry section, a woman balancing a baby on her hip browsed gay and lesbian section.

I took a depth breath. I take a deep breath now.

Buy the good books people, buy the good ones. No matter how old or young you are, there is such little time, we have precious little time left. Read and assimilate the best of what there is. Set your chin and nod with the best of them.

Good stuff - read it.


Ice Coffee With Coffee Ice

Can't freaking well sleep. Fucking caffeine! Whose idea was it to sit at the bar and drink a caffeine depth charge (the ice-cubes in the ice-coffee are made of frozen coffee!) just before going to his room, watching Steven Seagal come out of a coma, reading the Thai subtitles because the Lounge Band's piano and drum machine are pounding away much too loud even though E@L is the only one around?


E@L's belly is now doing a jig thanks to that 310Baht (about $8USD) meal of fiery (he was warned, ped mak mak) chicken jungle curry, hor mok talay (mild seafood curry in congealed coconut), two bowls of jasmine rice and two large bottles of Beer Chang (rice-based instead of malt or wheat). Constant companion whilst in Thailand - Gelusil antacid tablets.

At the waterpark restaurant next door to the hotel, a thick fog of mosquitoes buzzed around but they mostly were reluctant to land, thanks to E@L's alien pheromones*. He swatted a few with his copy of Kavan's "Who Are You?, ironically enough. (You'd have read it to know why that is ironic.) Bats too, slow small ones, flitting lazily across the tables, never seen them fly so slowly, feasting on the mozzies.

One night in Bangkok, in the used-car lot end of town.


* Asian mosquitoes don't like E@L. What can I say? This is not a metaphor.

It Is A Truth, Universally Acknowledged... (NSFKids)

… that a single man, staying alone in a hotel in Thailand, must be in want of a fuck.

So thought the bellhop as E@L moved towards the hotel lifts tonight. But E@L, soon enough aware of the bellhop's motivation, just kept pressing the Close button - even though the closing mechanism had already started! "You stay alone? Want lady..." E@L smiled and shook his head as the man's face was wiped away like a PowerPoint transitional animation...

Sorry to disappoint you, but no, E@L doesn’t always need to fuck somebody every night for crying out loud. In fact, E@L's mojo, which has been boot-level for a coupla years now, thanks to chronic foot pain and chronic foot pain medication, never was that outrageously high. E@L just loves that bit in Stephenson's Cryptonomicon where whatsiname, the wartime mathematical genius, plots his ability to concentrate against his sexual frustration levels, and charts how they are altered by a wank; moderately, as opposed to sleeping with a hooker (she's also a Nazi spy, of course); more radically. Truth be told, E@L gets by moderately well most of the time.

Yes, the girls in Thailand can be gorgeous, lithesome, horny and hard-bodied. But many are also victims of exploitation by crime syndicates, and by sheer poverty and that is a major turn off for E@L. His limbic urges and his moral/ethical reasoning battle it out, as do all of ours. There is a battle in the heart of man. He tries, like a good doctor to do no harm. Sometimes he fails. Good does not always triumph. The giant inertial fly-wheel of his conscience, set in motion during his childhood, keeps turning, however. He sees degradation, exploitation, the evil of man, the dehumanization of the desperate and victimized. It stinks, it ain't sexy.


Which reminds me of a debate that's been going on over at Creepy's: it's a total fucking turn-on to have a deeply passionate kiss from a incredibly pretty girl, hooker or not. If she wants me to finish, a bit of tongue sucking will push E@L over the tipping point, everytime.


The right kind of kiss can be more erotic than the act of penetration, at least sometimes.*


From your guide to the mystical world of sex...


* Personal Freudian note. Do not read if you don't want to get to too close...

The Ex would not kiss for our last five years of marriage, even though we fucked a lot (as I remember it. "A lot" may be relative to your particular mojo.). That really fucked me around.

Monday, March 30, 2009

En Attendant Dr Godot

What fresh hell is this? E@L asks once again.


In order to save a 60 minute traffic jam in the morning (so its seems now) E@L was uprooted from a perfectly nice hotel, guest friendly (wink), perfectly close to the Soi Nana go-go bar adults-only theme-park, convenient to restaurants, public transport, pirated DVD and software markets, uprooted and deposited in some police-general's tax-dodge (guessing as to the owner here) way out in the outskirts of this sprawling city. There are 13million people in Bangkok, most of them dirt poor. It's a freaking big city, more than half the population of Australia.

People. Hell is other. They even have their own toilet in the hospital E@L is working at these few days.

Sign on toilet entrance

E@L packed up yet again, sigh, checked out at 8am this morning and was driven for two and half hours (including those 60 minutes in said traffic jam) to a part of the "real" Thailand, semi-urban and non-trendy, an area not frequented by either backpackers or soul-searchers. Grimy concrete block buildings on the edge of an endless highway to somewhere else, falling signs, unkempt petrol stations, searing heat, fading paintwork, poverty.

The ramshackle hospital is of course too small and too crowded, its open-air corridors and waiting rooms are packed with resigned queue dwellers in splints and bandages. They look ahead, waiting, uninterested in the fat farang, arms akimbo, sunglassed, iPodded, as he slowly plods in the path towards the desperately underfunded radiology department. Or they take in his details, shirt front half out, collar worn and sweaty, but not his meaning.

The driver/salesguy looks around, smiles. Ah, the machine, it no here. Lucky we got up so fucking early, thinks E@L.

Please take rest. In the open-air corridor. It's already 36 degrees and humid. E@L has sweat spots on his shirt.

The machine arrives and is jigsaw-pieced together as E@L fights for self-esteem against the Sudoku puzzle of the IHT. He looks up and the machine is together and being moved into the scanning-room, which fortunately has air-conditioning, more for the vagaries of the electronics than for the patients and certainly not for him. Cases are finished for the morning, but they will be starting again at 1pm. It is now 11:30am. E@L has conquered the Sudoku and has most of the crossword done by now, and is also intermittently trying to de-anagram whatever the plumber had improved when he repaired the pipes... between the occasional crossword epiphanies and checking e-mail on his iPhone. A new comment from... Oh no, it's merely a Blogger confirmation of his own last comment.

He sits. He waits. This is his job. He reads some Anna Kavan. He takes in the details, but not the meaning.

Waiting for Dr Godot.

Lunch. Spicy rice-noodle soup. E@L made goo-goo eyes and funny faces at a baby across the table from him and was rewarded with a series of hilarious toothless grins which unfortunately distracted bubs from the rice gruel mum was trying to stuff into his face. Mai pen rai, mum smiles.

1pm back at the scanning room. Nothing. No-one. Eventually one patient comes. Then... the Doctor. E@L weaves his magic, makes the doctor happy. All is finished by 3pm, the Doctor wais and she heads off. See you tomollow.

The salesguy grins. An easy day. We go you hotel now. Not sure which hotel. The salesguy calls Bangkok and ascertains E@L's accommodation from the sales manager. It is back... in Bangkok...

E@L wonders out loud why the fuck he had to check-out from his Bangkok hotel if he is not staying here in Nakorn Pathong. Why is he going back to a Bangkok hotel? Does he (the driver/sales-guy) know how annoying and inconvenient it is to keep checking in and checking out?

Traffic jam very bad, he says. Hotel in Nakorn Pathong not good. Room is very terrible. We go your hotel in next province. Near Bangkok. But not Bangkok, traffic jam in morning very bad in Bangkok. We hab early start. I pick up you 7 am.


The hotel is modern, only 18 months old, but somehow dodgy, and slightly alien. It has a steep driveway that leads up to the entrance which is practically on the second floor relative to street level. A Thai architect obviously, thinking of the inevitable floods during monsoon season. The quartz and glass foyer is deserted. Tinkling water-fall somewhere hidden. Is E@L the only customer here? Typical for Asia, there are about eight people behind the counter (like in the bookshop last night) yet none of them seem to take note of his approach and check him in. They are all busy, but what can there possibly be for them to do?


There is a pool down on the 5th floor, on the roof of the entrance foyer and mezzanine. E@L needs exercise. Laps, best thing. Non-impact, deeply-held breath inducing, zen-like laps.

He walks past the Spa area where the massage girls smiles at him from behind her desk. She keeps eye contact as he walks past, subtly raising her eyebrows and her smile drifts into one of those knowing grins. "I'll be sucking your cock in an hour or two," it seems to be saying. Or is E@L projecting?


The pool is nice if cool, and he only manages 15 minutes of zen. The gym looks good too. Deserted of course, but well configured. He'll go there when his shorts dry. Maybe.


There is no Wi-Fi in the hotel. Did E@L say modern, yet alien? He must take a pre-paid card and a cable from the front desk. Ever notice how network cables are all twisted inside and how they always want to be upside down from whatever hole you want to plug them into? Is that a metaphor for E@L's life or what?

After wrestling with the cable, clicking it in with some difficulty to the wall socket which is slightly recessed, he still has no connection.

Sigh. Reboot. Nothing. Phone call. The IT guy comes, changes cables. Nothing. Reboot. Nothing. He goes to walk away when the little computer network icon shows its hazard triangle. Aha! Patience. Waiting!

WTF? Even computers take it easy on their appointments up here, the electrons having a lazy day: it's too freaking hot to rush about at the speed of light!


Of course breakfast tomorrow will be the real test. A range of high-fibre cereals, gas-making fruit, yoghurt and some skim milk are E@L's staples these days. Will that be what's on offer, like at the perfectly good hotel he was dragged away from this morning, or will it be Corn-Flakes in an individual packet?

And of course... the toast. What will the bread and the toaster be like? What will the other barbarians be doing in the vicinity of the toaster? Should he bring a broad-sword (available in many stalls along Sukhomvit) in order to cleave their toast-thieving, toaster-hugging bodies?

Will the butter curls soaking in ice-water be frozen or soggy, the marmalade and jams watery or less watery?

By the jars of jumbo, E@L's nerves are frazzled when it comes to public toasters in the breakfast buffets these days. Hyperaesthete, E@L! He's had 11 years of putting up with the conspiracy of buffet-illiterate morons and E@L is not going to take their shit anymore. No more Mr Nice Guy, that was for the first five or six years, not now.

A Russian girl in Pattaya yesterday morning made the mistake of going for one of E@L's multi-grain slices as it slid from the rear exit to the front dispensing tray. "That's mine!" he barked, grabbing the slice with his fingers, scalding hot - ow!, while she fumbled at it with the only available tongs. She had been holding the tongs since she had put her two white slices in, when was that, ages ago, like they were hers alone. Meanwhile other people, all these Russians, the crowd around the toaster is anxiety inducing, looked about for tongs, but had to insert their bread manually… She failed to appreciate her lack of toast-etiquette. Plus she was clumsy, slow and inept with the fucking things. Stupid babushka bitch.

Awaken Stormbringer! There are souls to steal!


The driver will be picking E@L up at 7am. He has to check-out again. Suitcase. Suit-folder. Half-set of golf-clubs. Back-back. Pack, unpack. Again. His luggage will sit in the boot of the car all day, stewing in the sun that pours down onto the car-park. A tube of ointment boiled out today, spewing anti-inflammatory goo through his toiletries. It will be 36 degrees again tomorrow.

He will be back in the heart of Bangkok, at his preferred hotel in the evening. Not too late he hopes, as if there is a "too late" in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, during the day, E@L will wait in the corridor between patients. He'll read some more Anna Kavan. He'll make goo-goo eyes at the babies in the waiting room. Do the crossword, the Sudoku, the anagram puzzle.

Provided the hotel provides a copy of the IHT. Or will he have to wait to get back to Bangkok?


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bucket And Mop To Room 1412


E@L forgot that the bath was running in there while he was sitting out here.

Was going to write something deep and meaningful, something touching, amusing and profound, something witty, wise and wonderful... Something about buying books, choosing which ones this time, reading them or not, the wisdom of the antients, the combined knowledge of man "lying in magic preservation in the pages of books", the winged chariot of Time, about growing old and staying young, about unnecessary regret and the futility of nostalgia for the many unlived lives we carry in our imaginations... and the myriad reasons to be cheerful (Part 3)...

But he's got to call for more towels right at this moment...

Maybe later.


p.s. The post will never be as good the blurb, now that my aquatic Porlock has come to interrupt...)

p.p.s. E@L was lucky to find his room to even turn on the bath: 5 hotel rooms in a 10 day trip! Those room numbers are swirling about my head like a birdies after a cartoon punch.

p.p.p.s. Do they have books in heaven? Books about failings and frailty and fucking it all up? Books about love unrequited, about sex uninvited*? If not, I don't want to go there. *(Sorry for the internal rhyme, the fault was all mine.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hey, Let's Meet In The Toilet, Take Some Ibuprofen And Have Our Menstrual Cramps Lessen In Severity

"But, hey I'm a late developer for 13. I don't have my periods yet...

[Sorry, initially forgot toput up the link. Here it is is - NYT.]

The strip searching of a 13 year girl, searching for.... some prescription NSAIDS, by a "zero intelligence", I mean "zero tolerance" for drugs high school further demonstrates the lengths, depths, breadths, times and even some 5th and 6th dimensional stupidity to which ignorance can take you.

Warning that "seemingly harmless substances in the hands of creative adolescents, can really confuse stupid older people like me," Justice Michael Daly Hawkins was reluctant to agree that the school in question shouldn't be made the biggest laughing-stock of any educational institution since the St Hildengarten's in Munchkin tried to flunk that fuzzy-haired kid, Bertie Einstein, in arithmetic in 1885.

Yep, the reality of this is just so twisted. After being dobbed in by her goth ex-friend, a 13 year old girl had to strip down to her underwear, pull said underwear away from her body, and dance up against a chrome pole for 20 minutes while the school administrators tossed $1 bills at her. No, this is not some sleazy porn story (though I have some similar ones if you want), but an actual case in real life - better than porn really.

Stupidity porn, my latest turn-on.

Ibuprofen. The worlds most pathetic pain-killer. It doesn't even cause ulcers unless you MAJORLY abuse it. And the hit? The ulcer.

Here's the War on Drugs that is fucking up America, and prior to the financial crisis, was driving it broke faster than most anything except the War on Terror, the War on Iraq, the War on Afghanistan, the War on Small Efficient Electric Cars, etc.

Girl A: busted for have period-pain pills. Girl B: Humiliated and made to strip...

Amazing world.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Climate Change

Something had gone wrong with the weather. [...] I could not remain isolated from the rest of the world. I was involved in the fate of the planet, I had to take an active part in whatever was going on.

Tim Flannery and Peter Singer telling us to pull our collective fingers out? (Out of what?) Savmarshmama pleading with us to turn off our lights, and the air-con? (*Wink*)

Nope. Slipstream fiction from 1967.

Image of Ice

Specifically, the mysterious, completely unloved as a child, abused, child-abandoning, heroin addicted, cult icon of the psychotherapy drug culture of the 60's and 70's, Anna Kavan - in Ice. I'd forgotten how much I love the hallucinatory non-story of this fragmented, sane/insane genius writing about her heroin addiction AS a world cataclysm, with her craving and vulnerability made flesh in the glass-like body of the moonlight-haired girl, a perennial victim - bruise-eyed, hollow-eyed, ice-blue eyed - and the two obsessed men who vie to take control of her, to find her as she keeps disappearing, dying, being glimpsed again and again in impossible situations as the world collapses under the weight of a new ice-age.

She dies about three time each chapter for a while there as hallucination and fantasy lead us in a non-sequitur plot of magical unreality. The world of ice is advancing quickly, dangerously. A new glacial age is on the way, something the scientists (those bad guys!) have done. We skip from frontier to frontier by boat, plane, helicopter, amored car... It's like The Bourne Identity! NOT!

Chaos, war and anarchy mark the ice's encroachments as societies collapse, but always in its shadow there are the unnamed, underinformative, probably cruel and possibly unlikable narrator, his arch-nemesis the ever-powerful "warden", and their eternal prey; frail, abused, "the girl". They all keep just ahead of the frozen stuff, escaping, surviving, even, in the The Warden's case, profiting from the insanity and nightmare of the panic.

My head was aching and everything was confused inside it... I could not think. The hallucination of one moment did not fit the reality of the next.

Yet somehow, it is coherent (well, not really), but if you go with the inexorable flow (like the advancing glaciers), you'll find some amazing writing, some unforgettable imagery - the girl being surrounded by towering glaciers that consume her, enfolding her in their grasp, and she dies yet again as he drives by in his car... Vision? Reality? Fantasy?

I love it, really I do.

Fuck normality! Fuck what and how you are SUPPOSED to write!


I have these with me as well to complete in the next ten days I am out of Singapore.

Image of Asylum PieceImage of Sleep Has His HouseImage of GuiltyImage of Who Are You

And her perfectly titled biography:

Image of A Stranger on Earth

Julia and the Bazooka is out of print, last I looked.

Why is it I keep getting a "No-one else has this on shelf" message on Anobii?


Also have all of Season Three of Battlestar Galactica on the iPod to watch. No time for nooky in Bangkok. By God that's a bloody clever show too.


Fire In The Belly


Pardonez moi, laze and germs!

Wondering if another dose of cheap beer and Thai curry would be the best for this reflux situation. My stomach has been damned upset after reading the revelations, ummmm, revealed in the Rolling Stone's excellent naming-of-the-names article The Big Takeover by Matt Taibbi.

Shit, I thought *I* had a fire in the belly over the financial meltdown. I was tame, I was moderate.

The bastards were "punching a hole in the fabric of the universe!" say Taibbi!

People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.


By the fall of 2007, it was evident that AIGFP's portfolio had turned poisonous, but like every good Wall Street huckster, [Joseph] Cassano [phone number: 555 5555, email:] schemed to keep his insane, Earth-swallowing gamble hidden from public view. That August, balls bulging, he announced to investors on a conference call that "it is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing $1 in any of those transactions." As he spoke, his CDS portfolio was racking up $352 million in losses. When the growing credit crunch prompted senior AIG executives to re-examine its liabilities, a company accountant named Joseph St. Denis became "gravely concerned" about the CDS deals and their potential for mass destruction. Cassano responded by personally forcing the poor sap out of the firm, telling him he was "deliberately excluded" from the financial review for fear that he might "pollute the process."

The following February, when AIG posted $11.5 billion in annual losses, it announced the resignation of Cassano as head of AIGFP, saying an auditor had found a "material weakness" in the CDS portfolio. But amazingly, the company not only allowed Cassano to keep $34 million in bonuses, it kept him on as a consultant for $1 million a month. In fact, Cassano remained on the payroll and kept collecting his monthly million through the end of September 2008, even after taxpayers had been forced to hand AIG $85 billion to patch up his fuck-ups. When asked in October why the company still retained Cassano at his $1 million-a-month rate despite his role in the probable downfall of Western civilization, CEO Martin Sullivan told Congress with a straight face that AIG wanted to "retain the 20-year knowledge that Mr. Cassano had." (Cassano, who is apparently hiding out in his lavish town house near Harrods in London, could not be reached for comment.) [My emphasis]

Those of you planning a plotico/economic coup should take note of the name "Joseph Cassano". He was one of those "short, bald managers of otherwise boring financial bureaucracies [who] start seeing Brad Pitt in the mirror." Patient Zero, says Taibbi. He's the guy who ran AIG's Financial Planning section, the guy who popularized and really pushed the Credit Default Swaps idea whne he realized that Phil Gramm's (another name to remember) deregulation act meant that he (Cassano) could do what he liked with them, the guy who sacked anyone who pointed to the huge holes in the his numbers, the guy who ripped us all off...

Well it's nice to know exactly WHO to be pissed off with.

Like, Goldman-Sachs.

In my previous whinge I complained about not-knowing where the money for AIG's bailout was going. Well, now (I) we know. Both Henry Paulson and Edward Liddy, who set-up the bailout for AIG, are ex-employees of... Wonder who the biggest creditor of AIG is?


They are the ones getting the money. Robbing everybody, bringing down capitalism.

Up against the wall...


Hat-tip to Chris Myrick.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Cinematic Orchestra - Sounds Like...



Overamplified and Unclear.

I put on my CD of Ma Fleur at volume 11 this morning just to reassure myself I hadn't turned up at Metallica concert accidentally last night. Loud, with HiFi, it's magical. It sounded a million time better than the shoddily mixed concert last night.

I love the jazz, love the ambient emo, just want to eviscerate whoever was behind the controls of the soundboard.

For the first few songs vocalist Heidi, 23 years old and with lungs big enough to inflate the Hindenburg was, incredibly, almost inaudible, I won't say OVER, nothing could get over that wall of noise, through the blur of the other instruments.

The bass was reverberating everywhere, the clarinet had lost all clarity, the electric quitar so enmeshed with the keyboards and the electronic stuff all at high pitch, all at maximum volume that it was like eating spaghetti with carbonara and bolognaise and arabiatta and pesto sauces all stirred in scalding hot and indistinguishable.


The over amplified guitar arrangement of To Build A Home sounded like it should have sounded incredible...

Instead it was inedible.

I recall that the guitarist (name?) indicated to the sound-mixer to turn the volume down just as he started this, but obviously if he did, it was not enough.

I was sitting maybe five rows behind where this video was taken.

I certainly enjoyed most of the concert, but when that wall came at me, as at the end of the video above, it was just too much. I remember thinking, if these guys were playing like this at the pub next door, I'd take a taxi somewhere else.


Here is their original version with Patrick Watson, the writer of the song, performing with a rather expanded TCO. This was the version we were expecting last night.

p.s. For those of you who know my name: we saw the band eating at Barossa afterward and I snuck up and asked the usual pianist if he though we might be related. I told him my grandfather was from Newcastle, but he told he, Nick, was born in Sydney!!!

p.p.s. The lyrics of "To Build A Home" are a) fucking hard to hear, b) fucking hard to understand. When looking to transcribe cut-and-paste the lyrics for you, I found this site,, in which there is more than just the (stolen!) words; people can add their interpretations as comments. Cool.

Must look up McArthur Park.

p.p.p.s. I can't just blame the acoustics of the concert hall - the Russian floppy-haired cellist orchestra last year sounded excellent.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Paying Peter For Having Robbed Paul

I'm watching the NYT video of Gordon Edward Liddy as he talks about cutting back the huge bonuses to the members of the Credit Default Swap section of AIG and all I can think is where the money is going to go instead.

AIG need it to pay their debts to others, not their salaries and bonuses, right? It's a ironic pity for them because now the tax-payer's cash is going off-radar, in fact heading to OTHER dodgy credit companies, like banks. Now they can pay huge salaries and bonuses to the robbers in THEIR Credit Default Swap sections without oversight. Those guys otherwise would have to be satisfied with the the truckloads money they had made in the last 5 years of bubble explosion... So there must be this sense of frustration in the AIG ranks, knowing that some other geek in exactly the same job is going to get the money that was initially headed for them...

Because, hey, this is the money market. There is actually nothing in it. Except money and trust. It's a castle of cards. It's ALL bonuses and commissions and bonuses ON the commissions and earning commissions for negotiating sales of bonuses, etc , etc, until you ascend up your own fiscal fundament.

It's not like these people are actually WORKING for a living. It's not like they're making real things. It's not like they are at the shake-out machine whacking the sand-mould off engine cam-shafts with a sledgehammer, as I used to do. It's not like they're heart surgeons saving lives, or nurses cleaning bedpans (what exactly DO nurses do? I mean, they never come when I press their button [old marriage on the rocks joke]). They're just gamblers, playing with other people's money, and people get suckered in, time and time again...

But not


p.s. Why the vitriol? Did E@L not tell you that the company building the Townsville apartment he had put a deposit on (in order to flip just before it was built) has gone into the hands of an administrator, obviously unable to get the fucking banks to lend them the money to continue. Fuck. There are none so charred as the recently burned.

p.p.s. Nudge nudge to investors. Gossip in the pub is that Marina Bay Sands will quite soon be cashing their chips in over their Singapore Integrated Resort gamble. An upcoming change of management (how do I KNOW these things?) will see them steering into less upbeat waters. Look for a GIC takeover in a few months say by July/August, to keep the Marina Bay 'casino' alive. You heard it here first. Unless it's illegal or seditious, in which case, I got from the Far Eastern Economic Review. Sue them. Again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Salt Of The Earth

"Clinical studies have suggested that insulin resistance might lead to sodium retention and extracellular fluid volume expansion, thereby increasing blood pressure responses to sodium intake. In this study, waist circumference was significantly associated with blood pressure responses to dietary sodium intake, implying that abdominal obesity might be an especially important factor in determining an individual’s blood pressure response to variation in sodium intake."

From here. Important study because previous research on salt and hypertension had shown mixed and contradictory findings. Maybe it was because people's waist circumference hadn't been sufficently studied as an important variable... Finding: fat people are more susceptible blood pressure increase due to dietary salt than skinny people.


I suppose some of you might be wondering about the reference to salt (and Australumptious sandwich/toast spread Vegemite, which packs a hefty sodium punch) in my blog yesterday. I had been browsing some medical stuff while playing with the iPhone and somehow the salt reference above snuck its way into the writing part of my brain... and hence into the blog. As the lady says, it's like an amusement park inside my head. You see, I have rather a rotund tummy, and my insulin resistance is growing... I'm a long way from being diabetic but when I returned a glucose tolerance test result that was 0.1 over the normal range, my GP told me 50% of my pancreas function was gone... That was a bit of shock treatment, I must admit...

Meanwhile, he said to change the subject away from his rapidly impending demise, did I tell you about my purchase in the antiquarian bookshop in Cairo last year? Hilarious. Old volume, 1850 or so, with stamps of the pyramid and the sphinx embossed on the cover. I thought it was going to be a learned tome about Egypt and ancient civilizations and their poetry and mysticism, etc..

[Addendum: Revelations of Egyptian Mysteries and Allegories of The Greek Lyric Poets CLEARLY INTERPRETED. History of the Works of Nature. With a Discourse on Health According With The Wisdom of the Ancients. Robert Howard M.D. London 1850.]

Title page of Part II. Reading the book with a coffee and cake(s). Inside the bookshop.

Turns out the author had never even been to Egypt. Turns out that "Poets" means the poet Hesiod. He is crazy doctor guy somewhere in England who had whipped himself into a strange health nutter's obsessionist frenzy. He'd become violently opposed to... minerals. He was definitely not like my friend Px who won't drink filtered or distilled water as there's "nothing in it".

Along with all minerals unprocessed by nature, hence tainted pieces of raw earth, salt was his main target. The only minerals allowed are those which were processed naturally in the factory of vegetables. He'd not let any obscure opportunity go where he might be able to drop the salt admonition. "The Queen of Sheba had big tits - but they would have been bigger if she abstained from adding salt to her potatoes!" sort of thing. He says all sorts of other weird stuff too, like volcanoes are caused by lightning: total fruitcake, great find on my part.

As I said, I don't have the book here in the office, it's at home. I'll try and find something quotable from it for you later, maybe tomorrow - I'm out for dinner tonight, must rush. A low salt dinner, with a view of the Pyramids.

[Addendum: How's this -- "Thus in accordance with the very clear evidence of nature, it is declared that man's fall [no less!], or disease and death, was occasioned by his departure from the vegetable kingdom, that is, the tree of life, and partaking of crude mineral substance, the source of death." pg 64. The Fall of Man was caused by Adam and Eve... eating salt. Nutter... I rest my case.]


p.s. on the subject of the iPhone -- I took my portable HDD home last night but forgot to set the sharing permission before I left the office, so I couldn't write any songs to it. Mother fucker! And today I left it at home... Sigh.

"Political Correctness" Caused Financial Crisis and My iPhone Caused This Brain Tumour

American blacks and Hispanics (not the Jews, not the Arabs?) once again have brought the mega-rich doyens of the financial world to their innocent, tropically sun-tanned knees, apparently...

"My own understanding, however, is that the cause can be traced to pressures of "political correctness" in America: Financial institutions, habitually reluctant to take the risks involved in lending to minorities - particular black and Hispanics - were charged with racial discrimination. They came under pressure to prove their enlightened credentials by lending to minorities on equal terms. Gradually succumbing to such pressure, they upgraded the creditworthiness of minorities, Soon hundreds of thousands of houses were being built as mortgage lenders became emboldened to lend 90 per cent or more of the purc hase price of houses sold to minorities, whose employment prospects were uncertain and whose incomes were relatively low." E.J Mishan For The Straits Times - Tuesday 17 March, 2009.

Mr Mishan forgot, on this of all days, to mention the poor Irish farmers whose potatoes went bad, threatening the income of many rich, landed English lords in Ireland. It was their fault too.

He also forgot to mention where this talk of being "charged with discrimination" came from. Where are the documentation and facts to back this up? Where are the minutes of meetings, the statements of board members?

So according to this tired line of reasoning, Mr Mishan's "understanding", the reason bank made stupid loans is they had high-moral, socialist, "enlightened", humanist principles...

Actually, and more usually, the blame for this pressure is placed on a misguided bipartisan push to lower interest rates for housing in the USA in 2003. (As the Atlantic Business Week pointed out in 2004, merely owning a house, as opposed to renting one, doesn't make you wealthier. That's for sure - trust me on that, mine was a total money pit.)

Well maybe that's what *started* a time of cheap money. But it wasn't the poor, the people who took out SOME of those loans, who used that cheap money to make themselves billionaires, it was... wait for it... the banker-wankers themselves. The ones the governments of the world are bailing out right now, so they can get their well-earned (NOT!!!) bonuses.

It was THEM, not the poor, who were greedy lunatics, who thought that they could make money hand over velvet-gloved fist by trading CDOs and CDSs FOREVER, or at least until they were stopped.

Tha lending institutions continued to make easy loans because their competitors were rapidly stacking up millions, billions, trillions of dollars on the trades of CDOs etc... and they wanted in on the cheap money glut. Then they turned cheap money into dumb money. They set up their trend charts and forward looking packages optimistically based on persistent growth in the property market, not even allowing for any negative market growth in the formulae that these econometric tools used. And who isn't optimistic when your rivals are raking it in, buying yachts and condo's and flash cars? You want some of that...

Essentially these tools were charting the statistics of the continued appearances of 'white swans'.

The Boards fell for the flashy Powerpoints and the promises of previously unrealistic riches, because, whey! it's much too complicated to go into in depth, and hey, everyone is getting rich as Croesus, so blowed if we're going to miss out! Not to mention the needs of those altruistic shareholders!

These banks are run by individuals, men and women with human frailties, with human emotions and limited human intelligence. They were people in a feeding frenzy, the nictatating membranes of group-think rolled over their eyes, and that's that.

In MY understanding, (trying to recall the arguments I listened to in my "Dumb Money audiobook last night) these products were initially offered not by real banks but by "shadow banks", lending institutions that didn't have the (minimal) regulatory control of normal banks and certainly didn't have the required monetary asetts to sustain such lending in harder times. The shadow banks used brokers to make the actual sales; door-knocking, cold-calling salesmen who took a commission on the sale and then had no more responsibility. If the loan defaulted, not their problem!

Then those real banks latched on, also thinking it would be silly not to boost their stock prices by making fast money themselves, expanding, buying up smaller banks, buying up non-banks with dodgy portfolios... This made the CEOs into apparent geniuses of market management.

But, no-one seemed to notice that instead of growth in the housing industry, there was continual shrinkage of house prices - prices fell every month from August '06 to July '07. Yet the insanity continued. As the margins calls came in, people like Jim Cramer of CNBC went tootle-brained on TV trying to get people to buy, buy, buy - his back-room buddies needed continual injections of cash in order to keep the wheels of their Aston-Martin's turning.

Yes, poor people were offered ridiculous loans to help them buy their rented properties, but people who were NOT poor were also offered ridiculous loans. EVERYONE was offered ridiculous, NO FAULT loans. Most of the housing default problems first occured in speculative real-estate, in places like Florida and Las Vegas. "All this funny business wasn't being stage-managed by people in $75,000 homes in Milwaukee or Detroit or St. Louis", says political blogger James Rowan No, it was a predominantly speculative bubble that was sucking in and catching out relatively well-to-do investors, not a poverty bubble. Those poor people had no money to loose anyway.

Buy the house, it's cheaper than renting. We'll even give you money for furniture. Buy a second, a third house and flip it next month when the price goes up. As it will! You might be black, white, a shyster, a crook, a Presidential candidate with 7 house already, a BLACK Presidential candidate even...

We Never Say No.

Lend you a buck for coffee? No way. Lend you $350,000 for a three bedroom bungalow? No problem.

Why? Not because we like you, or trust you, or because of our big-hearted "political correctness" but simply because, in the short term, the broker makes money, the shadow banks makes millions selling the loan on, trading the CDO of your hot-potato bad credit between banks, who then repackage it - AAA, thanks to the rating agencies - and sell it on to nickel-and-dime investors on the street (like yourselves again, so that eventually you, the poor sucker, looses out twice) to carry the burden as CDS, for as long as this bubble floats.

We can get rich, the money market people were saying. We can get richer. We can get richest, because we are the Masters Of The Universe... And, of course, as the money we make on these trades are classified as capital gains, not income, we only pay 15% tax.

And if-slash-when that bubble bursts, we can rely on the banks to bail us out, and for the government to bail THEM out, so we can still have our commission on the trades, our bonuses and our cash, tucked away in islands in the Caribbean called the Caymans.

Thank you suckers. Now let's get the neo-con libertarian pundits and the media to twist this around to make it out like it's the POOR PEOPLE'S fault.

Now THAT would be politically correct, Mr Mishan, if your politics of choice was Fascism.


Monday, March 16, 2009

iGive Up

There is no way to sync my iPhone and my iPod, to both the iTunes on my iMac AND the iTunes on my PC is there? Everything is legal. For once I would like things TO JUST FUCKING WORK like Apple boffins claim they do.

You see I have about 28GB of songs on this PC, a fairly different 50GB or so on the iMac, 18GB on the iPod, and nothing but a few songs to listen to on the way home tonight on the iPhone.

I'm going to go home tonight, plug the new iPhone into my iMac and it's going to say, "uFuck off!" isn't it?

Is what I ask, what I expect after spending so much money, so freaking unreasonable?

You know what? I think I know what Apple represents...

I know what you represent. You
represent the idiocy of today.

Ted shakes his head.

I don't represent that, either.

Oh yes. You're the guy when I went to
ask about that moronic iPhone.

The iPhone's not----

You're in league with that moronic
iPhone. You're part of a league of


Yes. You're one of the morons I've
been fighting all my life. My whole
fucking life. But guess what. Guess
what. Today I win.


It seems like everytime I try to do something my way, life will only work in the other direction. I'm driving the wrong way up Apple's mindless-yuppy-friendly-products Street.

And fucking fuckity fuck fuck fuck if the neat little docking station I bought for the iPhone2G last year for my desk at work DOESN'T FIT THE iPhone3G! These are the things that root me arse-ragged over Apple. I had avoided Apple for the last several hundred years because I resented their ultra-franchisable sucker-every-minute consumables that don;t look like consumables until you upgrade, the way they clip money off you at every fucking turn for every tiny do-hickey must have piece of shite...

I am going to have a cerebro-vascular catastrophe, I swear it. If you guys could see my right carotid artery just now and what sneaky invasions of cholesterol it harbours, clinging to a fatty streak thread, you'd all be praying for me at this instant.

I will either have to go on a low-sodium diet or defenstrate my entire white-moulded logo-enriched agglutination of iThings... iSimplify my life. (You know 50% of the time that I'm at home, on my iMac, I'm running Parallels and Vista...)

So. It's come to this. It is either Apple or Vegemite.


Yes, I know the easiest thing would be to just make sure the libraries on my PC and my iMac match up first right, THEN do the sync. I'll bring the PC's portable HHD home tonight and dump all the iMac songs onto it...


The New 7th Storey Hotel - "Not An Icon" - Disappearing...

One of the landmark buildings of Singapore's past, former 5-star establishment, nine storeys high, The New 7th Storey Hotel on Rochor Rd was under demolition this morning as I rode a taxi to work along Nth Bridge Rd.

Bit of a shock. Sadness, disgust, frusrtration, anger.

I'm used to marveling at its poignant mid-century plainness, and its tendency to lean a bit, when I used to come in from the airport via the ECP. It was sitting in a field by itself, a welcome breathing space as Singapore rapidly swallows up green-space for the ill-advised rush to blastotic construction we've had here during the last 18 months' bubble.

Usually the DHL sponsored hot-air balloon was ready to go up next door. It is also opposite the Ayn Rand inspired Parkview Square, also another freaking weird building. (I wish they'd torn down that monstrosity, with its angel-like flying wine-waitresses instead, except my dentist works in there.)

It seems the classic 54 year old building [one employee claims to have been working there for 58 years, go figure] is going down to make way for the expanded Bugis MRT for the 2013's Downtown One Line. According to the news report, the owners had spent $100,000 refurbishing the hotel in the previous year and only found out about the demolition plans from the media... Tragic case of bluster and arrogance.

In a typical "We'll tell you what to think" statement from the Singaporean government -

"According to the Land Transport Authority, the hotel is not an iconic building and has no conservation status. "


It was a wonderful old eyesore, once one of the tallest buildings in town, once one of the top nitespots in old Singapore, just a whistle and a gun-shot from the once outrageous transvestite hooker and gangster centre of Bugis St (now a pathetic and inexplicably crap shopping mall). And it had this terrific circular staircase (one I never got around to checking out personally, I am ashamed to admit)...

We watched Saint Jack a year ago or so at my friend Milos's place, just after the 18 year ban on that Singapore-based movie was relaxed. I'm wondering whether the hotel was shown in that movie at all? It was not the place to which ex-007 George Lazenby brings a ladyboy home, I know that much.

Unfortunately, being of that plain, boxy, Bauhaus style so popular in the 50's, the 7th Storey Hotel was not what we these days would call cute or colorful. Hence, knock it down.

Its kind will not be seen in these parts again.

Sad. Shameful. Un-historic Singapore.


Kylie vs Anthony

Kylie Kwong is out of her depth. I enjoyed her little chat at the Singapore Writers Festival a few years ago and managed to find the recipe for what I knew as "Shantung" chicken (from my favorite Chinese place in Church St, Nth Parramatta - seems to be a vacant block now on Google Earth) in one of her early cook-books.

But I watched her on the cable (Asian Food Channel?? "Kylie Kwong: My China"), and felt acutely embarrassed. I forget where she was or what she was doing, but whatever, wherever, it was an unmitigated disaster. She didn't speak the language, she didn't get the cultural significance of what she was doing or asking, and crucially, she obviously had no idea about the food around her, plus, to top it off, cultural cringe on my part, her Sydney accent made me want to burrow underground. It was completely groanworthy.

But it was the off-the-cuff arrogance that really got to me. The false "this camera is pointing at ME" confidence of those truly making it up as they goes along. I recognize myself in this, making up some almost digestible bull-shit in order to kid a visitor that I know WTF is going on when in fact, I am totally lost (I can't believe I am admitting this in public!). This pretense of the "Old China Hand" is something you can easily slip into. At least I don't have the bravura to ask for people to point a TV camera at me while I jerk them around.

I had to turn Kylie off after 3 minutes.

Thanks to Lisa for reminding me how much I detested this show. Here is a list from Lisa's soon-to-be-disappearing-again-blog of people who agree with me and her.

Quite frankly Sir, I find that offensive!

Hating Kylie Kwong

Kylie Kwong Drinking Game

Oh My China…

Kylie Kwong: Fraud


Anthony Bourdain however, also guilty of excessive chutzpah on occasion, at least admits when he is wrong.

Bourdain on Japan on the weekend, getting the geisha treatment, fucked up with some fish liver. He had no idea and admitted it, and he allowed the geisha to show him how to eat it - as a dipping sauce. Cool, well done. Humility from the big guy.

And ya gotta love his New York accent.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost A Perfect Day

After sleeping off most of the french vino induced hangover yesterday morning, I went into town chasing a frame maker for some small Vietnamese knock-offs a friend want me to sort out. Upstairs in Paragon where the screaming children jet about, I found the place I was looking for. That frame for this one, this frame for that one. Ready next Saturday? Done.

Downstairs, I had my breakfast of a Coffee-Bean & Tea-Leaf ice-blended mocha and a muffin. I sat there reading my book for about 30 mins, but amazingly in that period of concentration, time seemed to take on other characteristics. For an eternity, a blackbird, its outline etched and sharp, its eye brilliant red and focused, perched on a chair right by me, right now, as a woman slowly took her camera from its bag... But her retarded velocity meant nothing to the bird's accelerated frame-rate. Its rapid fluttering was over forever before the camera was exposed and it flew, the photo-op was a thing of the past. Detail, you notice detail, but that's not what is important when you are waiting. That is just observation, cataloging. But you can realize things in that time to yourself, that time which others control.

Image of On Waiting

In my book, On Waiting, part of the Routledge "Thinking In Action" series, the discussion on Elizabeth Bishop's poem 'In The Waiting Room' tantalized me... To be a me, to be an E@L, or to be an Elizabeth, to be seven years old next week. This is an amazing realization. Merely from looking at a 1908 edition of National Geographic while Auntie gets her teeth drilled and I suck the last of the ice-blended up my straw,

I knew that nothing stranger
had ever happened, that nothing
stranger could ever happen.

I have to read more of this poetry, I have to give it the time it needs. (I really wish I could understand more of what poetry says without it having to be explained to me like this, by a third party like Mr Schweitzer.)

On the way to Kinokuniya to look for Bishop's poems, I thought, hey, I'll duck through Takashimaya and check once more for a replacements of my favorite swim goggles, wide vision ones, with a broad bridge that doesn'tt slice into my impressively Roman nose. I can never find a set that meet all the relevant E@L criteria. Last time, in desperation I bought those Cressi ones that have the same wide-plastic face-seal as diving goggles. They leak. My face is too wide or something. Or narrow. However, today, the Cressi guy directed me over the to another stand, and there, a new delivery, was a full batch of the Tabata brand goggles that I wanted, had even searched for on-line, found at a Bangkok store and resolved to go there next week as I will be in Thailand. The V800 is my favorite. It seals well, doesn't cut into my nose and has UV protection and a dark tint for those ultra-sunny Singapore noon swims on the weekend when the pool is vacant, except for mad dogs, Englishmen and me. (What I should be doing RIGHT NOW.) Done. Excellent. I felt good, pleased, happy. And only $35. The Cressi's were $50.

I continued across the Ngee Anne City mall to the bookstore. I had barely brought myself beyond the border of the A to B's before I was bedecked with a bounteous burden of books...

Image of Paris PeasantImage of My Half CenturyImage of Collected FictionsImage of The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

The Elizabeth Bishop collection was there! Excellent; in fact I had a choice. The Complete Poems for $29, or Geography III, the small book with 'In The Waiting Room' for $19. I choose value for money and grab The Complete. Done. And the Akhmatova, a total surprise. Excellent again.

I received a text from Indy. Join him and GF for a steak at The Steakhouse tonight? Sure, but no more wine! (We had drunk four bottles at Max's place in Prinseps St the night before.)

Again, it was working out to be a terrific day as my steak was almost perfectly grilled. Really nice meal, even if they don't serve bread. Any bread. None at all. Why the no dough policy? Shrugs. We came back to my place afterward and watched "Pulp Fiction", which Indy's GF had never seen, and then I had another realization - one that came in the heroin-preparation scene - I had never seen the uncut version. Done. Zed's dead, baby. Excellent.

They left, eager to be alone for some reason, and I went to bed feeling relaxed - that was a really pleasant day... but I couldn't rest as easy as I should after such a great day, for a vague sensation of incompleteness kept haunting me, the idea that something was missing from my March 14th.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

300 Thebans Whip The Spartan's Pert Buttocks

For all those who figured that Frank Miller's 300 was an outrageously gay piece of cartoon hyperbole, keep an eye over your shoulder for who's coming up behind and consider these facts:

The Theban army had a "crack" team (ahem - not my joke) of 150 pairs of (male) homosexual soldiers who fought at the front of the battle. They were called the The Sacred Band of Thebes. Usually, the couple was an older guy with a younger bloke. Very Greek, eh? Weird.

The idea being that...
...when fighting at each other's side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger?

The SBoTs fought against the Spartans several times and literally whipped their asses. Well maybe not 'literally', but I am sure the prospect of doing so would have fired them up had the opportunity arisen. Rape and pillage would have had a distinctly Platonic flavour when these guys came to ransack your village...

Another trivial 'so what' blogpost from the obscure history files of


Friday, March 13, 2009

There's A Storm Coming, oops, It's Here!

View out my office window this morning...

Currently reading When Genius Failed and listening to audiobook Dumb Money.

When Genius Failed is a "storm coming" book. It tells the story leading up to the crash of a company called, ironically, Long-Term Capital Management, in 1998 after 5 years of incredible returns. Running this company (into the ground) were two Nobel Prize winning economists and a coupla other shysters. The operative word here is Hubris.

Dumb Money is the only book I've seen (or heard) so far about the present rapidly imploding situation that seems to name the names of the perpetrators of this debacle. However as they were read to me in stereo, the names went in both ears and out, presumably, of my eustachian tubes and into my sinuses because I'll be fucked if I can remember what those names were...

Most of the other books I've seen around either tell how you can turn a nice little profit from this desperate humanitarian disaster, or how it was all the government's fault.

Needless to say, I skipped those and went straight to the blame game! Exactly WHOSE fault is it? I'm thinking it's either Jim Cramer or Jon Stewart.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

iAnalyze Myself

Your Working Style

You use your thinking to find the principles underlying whatever ideas come into your awareness. You rely on thinking to develop these principles and to anticipate consequences. As a results, you are logical, analytical, and objectively critical. You are likely to focus more on the ideas than the person behind the ideas. [Person? That animated meat-slab is a PERSON?]

You organize ideas and knowledge rather than situations or people, unless you must for the sake of your work. In the field of ideas you are intensely curious. [But woefully inadequate.] Socially, you tend to have a small circle of close friends, and like being with others who enjoy discussing ideas. [Pay that.] You can become so absorbed with an idea that you can ignore or lose track of external circumstances.

You are somewhat quiet and reserved, although you can be quite talkative on a subject to which you have given a lot of thought. You are quite adaptable so long as your ruling principles are not violated, at which point you stop adapting. [...and start yelling!] Your main interest lies in seeing possibilities beyond what is present, obvious, or unknown. You are quick to understand and your intuition heightens your insight, ingenuity, and intellectual curiosity.

Depending on your interests, you are good at pure science, research, mathematics, or engineering; you may become scholars, teachers, or abstract thinkers in fields such as economics, philosophy, or psychology. You are more interested in the challenge of reaching solutions to problems than of seeing the solutions put to practical use. [Like making money out of them.]

Unless you develop your perception, you are in danger of gaining too little knowledge and experience of the world. Then your thinking is done in a vacuum and nothing will come of your ideas. Lack of contact with the external world may also lead to problems in making yourself understood. You want to state the exact truth, but often make it so complicated that not everyone can follow you. [Let me explain why... (still talking two days later...)] If you can learn to simplify your arguments, your ideas will be more widely understood and accepted.

You may rely so much on logical thinking that you overlook what other people care about and what you yourself care about. You may decide that something is not important, just because it isn't logical to care about it. [Like religion?] If you always let your logic suppress your feeling values, your feeling may build up pressure until it is expressed in inappropriate ways.

Although you excel at analyzing what is wrong with an idea, it is harder for you to express appreciation. [Thanks a lot, arsehole!] But if you try, you will find it helpful on the job as well as in personal relationships. [Emphasis and comments, mine.]


Suitable Careers

  • archaeologist
  • architect
  • artist
  • astronomer
  • attorney
  • biologist
  • chemist
  • computer analyst or programmer
  • engineer
  • financial planner
  • graphic designer
  • historian
  • inventor
  • mathematician
  • musician
  • philosopher
  • photographer
  • physician
  • psychiatrist
  • researcher
  • scientist
  • university professor
  • writer


From QuizBox.


Monday, March 09, 2009

iTouch Myself

I tried the latest Pwnage jailbreaking software to unbrick my iPhone, which stupidly I had tried to upgrade to 2.2 firmware a coupla weeks ago. I went to SimLim Square last weekend but the guy in the SliPhone shop wanted $120 bucks, then $100, then $80 to fix it.

Fuck dat, I can do this at home for free, right?

It had got as far as transforming the iPhone into an iTouch that first time (everything worked except the phone function), but when I tried to run it again last weekend (after the SimLim Square attempted robbery) to get the phone working, thinking maybe it had something to do with the SIM card being In, or maybe Out, Pwnage got stuck in a loop, not doing anything much useful at all, and the phone was stuck in DFU (internal upgrade) mode: an iBrick.

Black, sleek, useless - too light for a doorstop and too theft-worthy for a paperweight.

Eventually, while re-reading the fine print on the Dev-Team Blog this afternoon, I came to the gradual understanding that my iMac was the problem. There was something about the USB controller for OS-X 10.5.6 that Pwnage doesn’t like. I had to join the Apple Developers Team to download a DOWNGRADE of the USB controller (10.5.5 version) to get Pwnage working again. I did this, downgraded, rebooted and tried once more with Pwnage. But of course, before I could use Pwnage I first had to restore the proper iPhone software with iTunes. All this takes time you know.

After a while, multiple reboots of phone and computer; success: I had an iTouch again. Still no phone functionality.

I restored the upgrade of the USB controllers to my iMac and rebooted the system again.

Mmm. I wondered if ZiPhone would help. That's some Russian jailbreaking and unlocking software that I believe Spike had initially used to crack the iPhone when he had it.

I tried it. It wouldn’t find the iPhone for some reason. Smart me, I tried restoring the iPhone with iTunes hoping it would catch before the iTunes locks me out, but damn, there goes the Pwnage software and it keeps going, into iPhone restore mode. Now, after a few long minutes iTunes wants the valid SIM card and won’t recognize the iPhone until it gets one. Fuck. Pretty much iBrickd again. Interestingly, it's not a total iBrick. There is some instruction in Spanish across the bottom of the screen and a diagram of a USB connector that does come up. On the iMac it says that it can only find the iPhone locked in Recover mode and needs to be Restored again - it's not finding it with iTunes at all.

Now ZiPhone *almost* recognized the iPhone when it was starting its iTunes Restore, but it (ZiPhone) locked up as well, as it sent the phone into Recovery mode, then it too did nothing for ages, so I cranked it down, unplugged the iPhone (iBrck).

Maybe it was the USB thing still.

I downgraded the USB controller and rebooted my iMac to try once more.

iTunes still wanted a valid (American AT&T) SIM card. ZiPhone still didn't recognize the iPhone. I thought, hey, I may as well try Pwnage again. Un-DFU the iPhone manually (10secs both Power and Main buttons, 10 seconds Main button only), restore the Apple defaults, run Pwnage, and yep, it eventually re-iTouches my iPhone. I then ran the Unlock function of ZiPhone. It put a caricature of Steve Jobs, saying something in Cyrllic script, on the iPhone and sent it into recovery mode. Locked up, out-brickd, checkmated again. I quit.

I restore the proper USB controller and reboot the iMac, AGAIN.

All this has taken, what? 3 1/2 hours?

Fuck. What a wank!

(Chrissy Amphlett is from my home town. She used to be in the same class as my good buddy Joe.)

Question: Should I just pay the guy in SimLim Square the $80 (this is a 2G iPhone, I can't do email when I travel) or get a 3G iPhone, OR... should I hold out for the next version of the HTC Magic Google phone, due in Singapore mid-April I believe?


Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Gravity Of Pepsi

Gravely, with great gravity, heavy and yet attractive, I report on the latest inanity documented by brilliant Ben of Bad Science -

How to justify a $1.5m pitch to change the Pepsi Logo: The Theory of Relativity.

Question: WHY change?

Answer: Why not? All these design people coming up through the universities, all these trainee managers with their MBA theses set to ruin the average workers' day... Gotta give them something to do. Shut Up, Move On, as the latest fad business books say.

Comment: For fuck's sake, you say "Change is the one constant", yeah I know that, but there's also an expression that goes, "Leave well enough alone," vernacularized to, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Question: Why the Theory of Relativity?

Answer: Why not? It's sorta funny, in an "I'm smarter than you," sorta way.

Comment: Leave the Pepsi logo alone you fucking idiots. There is no money left to change all those brick walls in India, all those shop banners in the Philippines! Don't you guys get it? It's the GDII!

I'm fucked, you're fucked, the whole economy's fucked, it the biggest fuck-up ever, we're all totally fucked! To coin a phrase. And your response is that you want to change the Pepsi logo?

Get The Fuck Outa Here!


Note: this stuff may be a viral marketing spoof.


Friday, March 06, 2009

More Hits : Less Shit

Slowly catching up the to the Stats on the old blog. I was running at about 100-120 per day there. Now I have scratched my way back to about 70.

Maybe more pictures of Dimples of Venus, or Deltas or Venus, would help. Maybe if I ran this more as a diary, got people actually concerned about the quotidian blah-blah of my life? Maybe I set up another diet blog, at least I'd get the fatties reading and cheering for me to fail? Maybe if I blogged about how much I love Ayn Rand and her wonderful philosophy? Maybe if I wasn't so sarcastic?

Maybe if I realized blogging is so passe that I'm never going to get a significant number of new readers and that I've reached my Dunbar's number of dupes? Remember that quote on my old blog: "On the internet, everyone will be famous for 15 people."

Maybe if I dug up more of the good old stuff every so often?

Maybe if I dumped the blog and got onto my novel...


Seriously, the story is coming together in my head; I "think" a really interesting novel... Whenever I start to write anything down, fuck, it goes all haywire. And crap. My god, the crap.

I really don't want to write another, "my god, how depraved are the expats in foreign climes" sort of story, but that what comes out. Not even that. What comes out is PRETENTIOUS clap-trap about how depraved the expats in foreign climes are... even as I tell myself to start with another premise, a good central plot or two, and run the depravity in as window-dressing. It's nauseating and dull, schoolboy stuff. It makes me want to give up, throw up, makes me want to toss the computer out the window (LOTS of things give me this urge - like the fact none of my work email seems to leave the SingTel web-mail program when I am at "working from home".)

Ah OK, maybe if I didn't spend so much time searching for stupid porn I'd actually get out of this bedroom...


Maybe if I stopped starting each paragraph with "maybe."


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Classic E@L: From The Archives - Mar 2006

A Slob Like One Of Us

As the array of observers gathers on the more anonymous tables up the back and on the prime seats close by the stage, the 12 naked girls start to move towards one end of the platform where a set of steps leads down to the floor and then on to their change-room, which happens to double as the men's toilet.

The show starts with a pair of girls gradually undressing as they sway to some upbeat Rolling Stones classic. In these first few segments of the stage shows, the dancers for some reason seem more coy than when they were members of the bevy of totally naked girls just a few minutes before: when they finally whip their G-strings down at the end of the song, the lights go down instantly and the dancers rush from the stage, hands over their breasts and pubic regions. Strange.

Then the naked chorus line-up returns after twenty minutes of the traditional Bangkok sex-exploits - smoking pussy show, darts show, banana show, pull string from pussy show - and the crowd returns its real attention to the beers, whiskeys and cigarettes. Many patrons had been feigning a disinterest in the sex-shows, not wishing to look like they were really looking. But a few necks on the guys up the front will need a special massaging tonight, aching from their protracted attempts to grab a glimpse up the short dresses of the girls with no knickers.

As E@L fixes his attention on the impossibly thin wrist of the girl seated next to him, over the loud speakers comes Joan Osbourne's What If God Was One Of Us?

E@L has trouble suppressing a smile.

He lets his eyes wander over the faces of the young men and old boys in the bar. If God was truly in disguise tonight, lost, just a stranger in a strip-club, trying to find his way home... What if he had set himself down in Bangkok for another night of amazement at the cavortings of his creations... What if he had been trapped on earth for ever, where else would he gravitate towards, to be forever in a hell (truly, actually) of his own making? Whose body would he be inhabiting tonight?

Look at this guy, maybe his first time overseas, eyes wide in astonishment. He had been mouthing WOWs every time something unusual or unexpected popped out from or went into the reproductive organs of a show girl. Young and fair haired, slightly awkward with his large-framed, stoop-shouldered body like he hadn't quite grown into it yet, perhaps from an Amish town in Pennsylvania. How many girls would he take upstairs tonight to help him loose his virginity? Is he god, or just looking for heaven?

A troupe of loud youths jostle for views around the stage-side seats. They drink the beer twice as fast as other customers so the manager puts up with their antics. It is hard to tell at first if they are American or British. They have close cropped hair, but not shaved. Maybe American soldiers fresh from a spicy feast at a local restaurant, with a need for something fiery in their eyes to match the searing chili in their bellies. They pull faces and laugh. Nothing serious here. Would god be so jejune?

Here's a slothful old-Thai-hand entering the club. A huge man. He nods his completely shaven head to the manager (who is doubling as the ironic-song playing DJ tonight) as he parts the green velvet curtain, his frame occluding the doorway. He wears a sleeveless muscle-shirt but has no muscle-form to his hefty shoulders, only a webbing of tattoos on display on a deep, leathery tan. When he sits near the cashier's desk the number one dancer, the choreographer, who is minimally clad in strips of leather and interlocking chains for her next Rammstein number comes over to bounce on his knee. She lights a cigarette for him. Is he god, the leader, the messiah? Is she?

A sage-like man well into his fifties with long hair partly tied back in a grey pony-tail, partly wild and unkempt, feeds cigarettes and beers into his deeply-lined face, a face weathered by years of anger and frustration. A very small girl in a cowboy hat and not much else is sitting next to him, rubbing his forearms, watching the show. Is he god, or merely one of the prophets?

Several quieter guys are dispersed here and there in the shadowier parts of the club, where the views of the stage are best. They nurse their drinks slowly, aware of the high prices. Their faces are impassive. Nothing excites, surprises or amuses them. They have seen it before. They will see it again. Their only fear, apart from their wives walking in, would be the prospect of not seeing it anymore. Is one of them god, world-weary and impassive, unable to partake and unable to walk away, impotent yet addicted?

Four much-older men in street-market knock-off golf-shirts, camel shorts, with white runners and white socks fully pulled-up to mid-calf appear to have escaped from the tour-bus for the evening and are sitting up at the back, speaking loudly in thick Dutch accents as they laugh across at each other and fondle the bemused girls who have ventured near them. Surely this show cannot surprise them after the variety store that is Amsterdam? Is this the Trinity plus one?

As the lights flash up and down and the girls troop off stage indicating it is time for another show, E@L catches a reflection of his own bemused face in the mirrors across the room...

If God had a face what would it look like
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in jesus and the saints and all the prophets

What if E@L believed, just for an instant, that all the prophets worthy of the name were in Long Gun tonight?


The Whatsit

What's the name of the groove in the upper lip called again? I always forget. It really bugs me that I forget.

Ah, that's right - the philtrum.

Names of surface landmarks I DO remember -
the glabella,
the nasion,
the canthus (inner and outer),
the frenulum (frenula, they are all over the place),
the tragus,
the inion,
and my alltime favorite, the Dimples of Venus - everyone has them, despite what the Wikipedia says: you line them up for the lumbo-sacral junction radiography view.

Dimples of Venus, superior and lateral to the Cleft of Buttock, just follow the Trickles of Sweat.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Reading the first few pages on-line of The Empathy Gap, a book I linked to in a previous comment, and I am going like: this is all so intuitive and axiomatic; be nice, be fair, think from the other person's perspective.

Then I realize it was being raised in Australia, where we once had a "natural sense of fair play", that has made a substantial impact on the me that I am.

When I was growing up, "fair go" was not just an Aussie cliche we had read about, it was a part of our world view. We would actually speak this phrase out loud. It was what we'd cry on the footy field, on the play-ground, in the class-room; wherever, whenever we felt things were going out of kilter due to someone missing out, someone cheating or taking unfair advantage of a weaker participant. Being better than someone was OK, we respected that; but getting cocky about it, showing off, rubbing it in or treating someone else maliciously was "not fair" and required a shout of "fair go, mate".

We were all mates, you see.

This is how we were. This is what we knew. Taking advantage was wrong. We all chipped in to make sure that everyone had a go, that everyone took their turn, and of course that no-one jumped the queue.

Or maybe it was just me.

Anyway, I guess that the introduction to The Empathy Gap has to be so basic because so many readers of American extraction would have grown up with a different world view to mine. Not all, maybe not even most. But many. They might have grown up in the world Kurt Vonnegut excoriated in Breakfast of Champions and other books ("hardly representative", Texan/Singaporean MercerMachine once told me), a world where the catch-phrases were; "Get it while you can," or "There's a sucker born every minute" or "If you're so smart, how come you ain't rich?"

And as if the Protestant Work Ethic weren't enough, along comes Ayn Rand with her selfish fascism that panders totally to the 'Haves', and places blame on the 'Have-Nots' for their Not actually Having anything. Empathy for Randians: it is a sin!

That's why self-evident statements like this have to be made in the book:

We empathize with those that lack the goods that a decent society should provide: effective opportunity for shelter, food, employment, education, and sound health, to name a few... in practice, empathy provides the motive to even things up, at least a little.

Of course that's how it works for people like me, but I sigh for the attitudes of so many other people I know...


By the way, this "fair go" attitude did not mean 'politeness' - we were as rude and rough and tumble as kids can get, and politeness is still not a big thing in Australia. "Have a nice day," was usually greeted with a mock-sneer in Oz, if you were lucky.

Americans, man they are way too polite. I was once standing on a footpath looking for a store, a laundry I believe it was, in New England when a car stopped to let me cross the road in case I decided to move that way! It was weird. Maybe becasue I was well-dressed. If I had been a homeless person, or business threat, maybe he would have jumped the curb to run me down!


Blind Optimism

From Oxfam, here is an article on a recent review of health care in poor countries. If ever socialised medicine was needed, its in place like India.


Rich countries and World Bank must stop pushing privatized health in poor countries

Anna Marriott, author of the report, said: “Donors’ romantic views of private sector health providers are completely divorced from the facts. In Malawi 70 per cent of private providers are shops. For the most part, private health care in poor countries is made up of unqualified shopkeepers selling out-of-date medicines. Is that what you would want for your sick baby?”

Full report here.


Slumdog Surgeons

Not so much the total quack in the small room you see there, but when I travel to those smallish private clinics with similar sign-boards to set-up or demonstrate our equipment most of the Drs I see are genuinely trying to provide a better service... and not only to the patients that can afford them. A lot of these Genuine Drs do donate a lot of free work as well, but their primary motivation is still to pay off the equipment we just sold them!

There just aren't enough free public clinics, centrally run and funded.

OK, you Ayn Randy types, how can the people of the slums go private? Why should they? you ask. Why don't they suffer and die on the streets?

Ah, you selfish blame-the-victim scum, why don't you go and crash the world economy again?


Give, donate, think of others. When you see poverty such as this, don't count your blessings, don't count anything, just give and have some optimism that change can come.

As I have been on a geekery and books spree this last week, I am donating an equivalent amount to a charity like Oxfam or World Vision or World Food. Not as much as this Peter Singer guy suggests, but it's something.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

...Cinema As Art Can Really Survive

"Only fillums like this can guarantee that Cinema as Art can really survive."

Zizec on Children of Men

My god, all I'm doing lately is posting links to YouTube. Looks like I'm turning into Dick Headley!


Monday, March 02, 2009


Awesome, eh? Music is by The Cinematic Orchestra who are playing in Singapore the week after next.

Love this scene: call me a romantic at heart...


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