Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Carvery

Just about to head off for New Years carvery here in my hotel (Madame Chiang sends her regards) so not much time.

Just wanted to say that I read Raymond Carver's original version of "A Small, Good Thing" by the pool. It was cut by 78% (word count) by Gordon Lish before publication in the 1981 What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. This is the book that Robert Altman made into the movie "Short Cuts". A section of the movie tells this story.

Carver's full version goes for 25 pages. All I've got to say is that the following lines:

"It's good to eat something," he said, watching them. "There's more. Eat up. Eat all you want. There's all the rolls in the world here."
[My emphasis.]

- I suddenly sobbed. Loudly. I was lying on a lounge by the pool. I had to cover my eyes.

Do you know the story? [SPOILER ALERT]

A mum orders a cake for her son's birthday. The son is hit by a car, goes into a coma and several days later dies... Meanwhile the cake has been forgotten about. The baker makes a series of harassing anonymous phone-calls not aware that the son was at that time in a coma. After his death, the parents realize who the calls were coming from and go to confront the baker at midnight. Their anger breaks down as the baker realizes his mistake and rotten behaviour. He gives them coffee, bread and cinnamon buns. And he says the above lines.

The first version did not affect me in the same way at all, even though Updike included it in his anthology of the best Short Stories Of The Century. Without rereading the old, edoited version, I think I prefer this long rambling one full of flashbacks and details of the hospital and its inhabitants.


All the rolls in the world. All the sorrow in the world. All the sadness in the world. All the contriteness in the world. All the fate in the world. All the lost children in the world. All the grieving parents in the world.


Shit I'm choking up again (it must be the drugs) as I type this.

All the talent in the world. Carver, a reformed alcoholic, died of lung cancer at 50, seven years after publishing the Lish edited collection and becoming dramatically famous.


What We Blog About When We Blog About Blogging

The small things, not the things that really matter.

I can't blog much about the main event around the table this Christmas for example, or its emotional aftermath. What can I say? It was fun at first, then suddenly it flipped to desperately sad and unfortunate, and very important for the family dynamic. It was almost fictional in its drama, but I can say nothing or I risk alienating my family entirely. How? By "blogalising" it I will inevitably distort the facts to suit my truth and that will be "how it was" for all my readers, while each of the family's truths won't get a look in. Even these bland comments will cause ripples of consequence. BTW, it's the same most Christmases. There are always a million things that could be told, but can't.

So instead, like a dirty old man, I notice a pretty girl's cleavage and that's what I blog about. WTF?


This from my friend Smoot, a Singaporean lawyer -

You know what the problem with a blog is?

It starts off as a place you can write stuff in, stuff that you can't write down in a diary because someone could find it. Then after a while, it becomes a place that transcends my normal everyday life, where I can talk about stuff that perhaps doesn't really matter but it matters to me in a relatively insignificant way, but important enough that I want to write about it. It's also a place to vent about the small stuff, if I need to vent.

But I can't talk about the big stuff. The stuff that keeps me awake at night. Because that's conduct unbecoming of a solicitor. Because I am bound by rules of confidentiality and propriety.

So I talk about what matters to me, a little. What bothers me, a little. Stuff that bothers me a lot is what I know to keep to myself. Even when I think so much about it that I can't sleep properly for weeks, and sometimes, oftentimes, it bleeds into my dreams and I wake up utterly exhausted, and put on my game face for another day.

Perhaps this time next year I will be far more settled in my mind, or maybe I would have lived with my fears long enough to have learned to ignore them.


And Facebook is even more superficial. Twitter, let's not even talk about it!


The title of this post comes from the Raymond Carver book of short stories, not from Murakami's manual of how to go jogging. I use it because not only because it is one of those iconic book titles that resonate and find application in a thousand variations, but also because my pool-side reading this holiday includes Beginners, the controversial drafts of many of Carver's stories before his editor Gordon Lish carved (sorry) into them, creating that spare, compelling, "left unsaid" style we all associate with Carver...

How interesting and appropriate.

I wonder what his blog would have been like? Full of small things, with the big things left unsaid like his short stories? But still he (or Lish) might manage to leave the truths of life hanging with an aura of awe all around, like a stepping into a cathedral and looking up close at the pews and the stained-glass windows, the paintings of the station of the cross, of the saints and the statues, but with each of his footsteps echoing in the enormity of it all, maybe...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lyndal's Tits

The flat at Noosa needs to be paid for sometime in early February...

E@L went to the bank to change his AUD term deposit so that when it was due to rollover, he could get a fair whack of it out to cover the shortfall in the loan valuation.

The personal-service bank-clerk girl E@L had been staring at for 5 minutes as she completed the previous customer's paperwork pressed her button and E@L's number came up for HER booth. Yes! E@L had earlier noticed that she was the only one in an non-uniform suit; rather than high collar she had a low-cut top.

As he sat down and leaned forward so that he wouldn't have talk too loud, E@L tried to avoid looking down into her cleavage at the small goose-pimple imperfections of the skin where the swell of her breasts commenced. E@L passed over his passport and documents, and she too leaned forward. There is a God. She was wearing a red bra, the edge of it was just visible on her right breast where the black top had crept down... He was already looking at her face when she looked up from the documents and into his eyes as she asked about the size of his transfer.

She took the passport to photocopy it (bureaucracy!) and went to search for the right forms. When she came back and sat down her top was still low and her heaving embonpoint rose invitingly with each breath. If she had a push-up bra it was unnecessary, that much was obvious.

This time E@L was caught - she looked at him as he was raising his eyes. Without any sign of recognition or any pause in her explanation of the forms she hitched up her top with a deft hand that made the manoeuver almost imperceptible. As she continued asking him to sign forms and write the details down, she surreptitiously hitched it up again. Lost. They were almost completely gone. E@L leaned back and looked out the window of the bank, and sighed.

"That's all," she said, dismissing him with a cheery "Happy New Year."

He smiled at her, genuinely, thinking "Would you please marry me?", stood up and made his way out...

A man sitting on the couch waiting his turn for the personal-service bank-clerks heard a soft but distinct murmuring from the big man who passed him by. He wasn't completely sure because of the Australian accent, but it sounded very much like: "Lyndal, you have great tits."


Off to Bali this very minute; bags packed with hat, baggy board-shorts, sun-block, snorkel and holiday reading (don't ask - OK; Jack Vance, Chabon, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Carver, and Ann Quin) - plus novel-writing accoutrements...

Later, dudes.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Not a lot of internet access of late. Meh. Busy: Melbourne, Geelong, Melbourne, warm days in the sun, oh so chilly in the shade. It's amazing how severe the temperature discrepancy can be down here.

The usual range of unique but stereotypical Christmas Hostilities. Many of those Things That Cannot Be Blogged About.

My favorite present from this obsolete pagan ritual was a book called How To Be a Better Foodie"! Excellent culinary snobbery compendium! The only problem that my memory is so bad that I won't remember anything I read.

One deliciously pretentious but unfortunately erroneous thing I noted was that Madagascarian vanilla is sort of considered the bee's knees of vanilla, merely because it is so expensive. A total wank - vanilla is vanilla. It's just that the natural fertilization in the native Central American habitat of the vanilla flower is done by a certain breed of Mexican bee. Those bees don't live in Madagascar, nor do any other insects that naturally do the sticky job, so the farmers who imported the vanilla plants had to develop a technique to fertilize them BY HAND - a very labor intensive process. And THIS is why they charge such a high price for Madagascarian vanilla.

Other than that piece of completely useless digression, I love the book!


Cricket tomorrow at the MCG, home to Singers the day after to change suitcases and then off for NYE (+10 days) in Bali. Hoping to catch up with Madame Chiang, with or without her cats.


My mate Nick (whom I will meet in Bali too) sent a great Christmas email - I haven't actually received his permission to reproduce it here yet, but once we meet in Ubud in Bali after NYE he can let me know if I have overstepped any boundaries by quoting it in full below - in lieu of me writing anything at length of any interest.

He says at the end it should be a blog post -I think it should be a newspaper column or something. Some great observations!


When did sending Christmas messages get so difficult?

Back in the good old days, you took up pen and paper and started writing cards and accompanying letters. Family first then friends. After about 5 letters you ran out of enthusiasm for writing the same thing over and over to different people. So you gave up. Alternately you ran out of money to buy cards, envelopes and stamps. More often than not you ran out of time as you should have started in November but it is now December 23. Stuff it! the card and letter won’t arrive on time, why bother! After all there is always next year.

Later the quality of reproductions got better and you could type or even word process the one letter, copy it multiple times and add a written personal message at the bottom before signing. This saved the time component but didn't address the cost component (or timing).

Later still you had e-mail and web sites. So for me I created a Christmas Message on a web page and then e-mailed a link to friends. The heyday of “Nick’s Newsletter” was 1998 – 2001. (Suspiciously this is very similar to what you have just received.) Unfortunately most of your friends were not on e-mail or the web and you still had to resort to manual means.

With time most people got an e-mail address and you could quite happily send Christmas messages by e-mail with only the odd one or two missing out.

More recently we have social networking sites. It has all got very complicated again. Now you have friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail, mobile phone, the blogosphere and other places besides. Suddenly you have to send the same message to multiple people on multiple communication channels and that is just sucking into your time once more. Christmas is getting complicated once more. (This is flowing, I may turn this into a blog).

So here we are in 2009, no we are at the end of 2009. You are receiving this e-mail because:
1) I love you; or
2) I like you; or
3) at some stage you have been an impact on my life and I still cherish that memory;


I still have some record of an e-mail address for you.




On a housekeeping note, I've had to remove the Blogroll temporarily (I hope) from the sidebar. Some of you may have been getting a warning from Google about my site being linked to a site that had "Malware" on it. Don't panic - I have not been hacked (again) but there was a hidden link in my blogrolling widget from 7 months ago that led to a site that allegedly contained some trojans. It's an old blog-site, now defunct I guess, that I once had linked to...

I've no idea how to clear this list to remove the offending link. I HAVE removed the website from the blogroll widget but can't erase that troublesome old link.

Any help from Blogger experts would be appreciated.


Also, 2010 is the last year of the decade, not 2009.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

India - Reality Check

If you want to find out about the shaky lower storeys upon which India's skyscraping supposed economic boom is built --

More about Listening to Grasshoppers.
Listening to Grasshoppers

Even if you don't, it's still a sobering (shocking even) look at how that sacred cow (ha ha) of Globalisation, the word 'Democracy', can hide a multitude of sins... and crimes.

The discussion in these essays, while specifically about how India's various warring religions, sects and tribal/racial groups are able to commit atrocities and gloss them over afterwards with 'an election', thus soothing international concerns, speaks of lessons not learned that could be applicable pretty much everywhere in the developing world; don't be corrupt, don't hate those you falsely see as Others, don't rape (gang-rape), pillage (historical sites) and burn (people), even if you can easily get away with these crimes against humanity, don't think elections are the panacea they are promoted to be by the globalisation buffos.

Democracy = two lions and a lamb deciding what's for dinner.

The lions have to be caged.

For example, despite (or because of) the alleged boom, the disparity of incomes in India has actually increased in recent years, and that is not only because of the obscenity of two of the world's 10 richest men being Indian, are shooting the top level so high, but also because the poor really are getting poorer and less well fed.

They have less access to grains and cereals available than they had in the Second World War. As those lions of industry Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal dine on fine lamb cutlets in their private jets, "Forty seven per cent of India's children below three suffer from malnutrition... an average family eats about one hundred kilograms less food in a year than it did in the early 1990s." (Roy, p31.)

I've spoken about the Indian famine in Goa before, when million of tonnes of grain were in trains passing by the starving farmers who had grown it all, bound for the profitable markets of Europe and England. In the current situation, that grain is actually destined to feed livestock, which are more important than humans it seems.


However, what are you going to replace democracy with? A benign dictatorship?

NNNNOOOOoooooooo...! Scary!


Quote De Jour

"The degree of intellect necessary to please us is a fairly accurate measure of the degree of intellect that we possess." Helvétius, De l'esprit, 1758.


More of Helvétius' Utilitarian opinions - according to Wikipedia:

1. All man's faculties may be reduced to physical sensation, even memory, comparison, judgment. Our only difference from the lower animals lies in our external organization.

2. Self-interest, founded on the love of pleasure and the fear of pain, is the sole spring of judgment, action, and affection. Human beings are motivated solely by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. "These two," he says, "are, and always will be, the only principles of action in man." Self-sacrifice is prompted by the fact that the sensation of pleasure outweighs the accompanying pain and is thus the result of deliberate calculation. [Harsh... but fair.]

3. We have no freedom of choice between good and evil. There is no such thing as absolute right – ideas of justice and injustice change according to customs. [e.g. murder is wrong, but Abraham sacrificing Isaac is OK.]


Apologies - Not That I DID Anything

I believe that some spam email may have gone out from my old blog account. I got a flurry of spurious comments today which I thought I had deleted, but maybe some hacker has got in - I'll try to sort it out.

Heartfelt apologies if you have been in any way inconvenienced or confused (I realize some of you are more prone to confusion than others).


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pitch 'n' Putt with Joyce 'n' Beckett

"Pitch and putt? It's bitch and slut, slithering in their wetness, glistening like a peach, peach and... peach and... [sees golf booking shelter] peach and hut!"

"...he put it in the river on the 18th the last time. In the river, all rivery was it. ... This is never an 8 iron, it's a fucking 5!

"No, not a Milky Way you arse! A Topic(?)... all feckled in its nuttiness."

Oh, so funny...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Netbook - Anger Management

I just tried to do some work on my relatively new Samsung Netbook, running (HA!) Windows7. The plan was to take this creature, which is only slightly lighter and marginally smaller than my Fujitsu work laptop, on my multi-location holidays which are commencing at the end of this week.

I have a lot of training to give the day after I get back from the Bali leg of my holidays. It's just a rerun of the training we did in Bangkok a few weeks ago, but you see, we have been having CODEC issues with our AVI files (the video files from our U/S machines).

For some godforsaken reason they won't run in Powerpoint 2007 on Vista, i.e. mine and my colleagues' work 3 year old Fujitsu laptops. I found out that they WILL run on Powerpoint 2007 on my personal, home, not-work's, private, I-paid-for-it Win7 Netbook (and on the iMAC and PPT2008 for Mac).

Does our company's budget extend to us getting Win7 installed? No. Stupid question - we are flying someone in from Sao Paulo for this training, but buy urgently needed software? Not a chance. Can I put in a pirate copy ("hey I am Bangkok", or I was at the time, "people are thrusting Win7 DVDs at me from every corner of Fortune Tower or Panthip Plaza")? No, um, we are being audited in January, must show receipts for everything, lah.

Prior to that Bangkok training, way before I bought the Netbook, in the depths of frustration, I determined that the only way to get my PPT videos working was to convert all of those nice AVI videos into something that would work using my genuine $50 Blaze Media Pro conversion software. Trying out different AVI CODECS had only screwed up the frame rate while maintaining the size format, so I had to cop a hefty resolution compromise and go with some shitty small MPG format, but it was the only one that kept the frame rate OK. I had tried about thirty different CODECS and file types... (Hey E@L, what do you do in the office all day?)

One of my colleagues had used the "Run In Full-screen" tick box for his presentations, but the trainees really needed to see the text that goes with the videos to make much sense of them. In my opinion, anyway. Damned if I was going to let this defeat me!

Then, after the training was completed and people had finished commenting on my crappy small videos, we trudged home to Singapore where someone in the office (not me, The Boss!) worked out, in a fierce bout of guesswork, that merely changing the file extension to WMV and reinserting the video back into PPT would enable them to run flawlessly and losslessly!

SIGH! (That's three years of frustration escaping there.)

So the plan was simply to change the extension names on just a coupla dozen files for this training, and then rename every AVI file in my 40GB archive of training presentations, and do the same in future for every file we get from the machine or from the head office in Tokyo, where they use Windows 2000, or so I believe. (The irony of this is the our U/S machines run on WinXP Embedded) No, this changing of file extensions is much better use of our expensive time than upgrading our laptop software and letting us get on with our work (see below).

And of course for CUSTOMERS who just might have Vista and PPT2007, they'll have to do the same thing! At no extra charge!

Well, today, after wasting half the afternoon changing file extensions when I could have been writing emails to pen-pals - *ahem* - I said bugger this... I'll bite the personal use bullet and just use the Netbook for this lot of training and run the original AVI files! No need to change extensions, just replace the crappy MPGs in my PPTs with the old AVIs!

Well, the idea was to take the back-up HDD with me this weekend and play with the PPTs on my spare moments of my 3 week holiday, like maybe lying by the pool/beach/forest/volcano in Bali, just to make sure they all worked.

YAY! Netbooks are cool!


Tonight I brought the HDD home just to check out how the PPT videos and PPTs would play...

This is the first time I have used the Netbook for serious computing. Other than a bit of blogging from a pub a few weeks back, I haven't needed to get it out. (Not that it's IN anything.)

In the meantime, while doing the PPTs, I'd surf the web, check out some cool YouTube stuff, my do my personal email, get into Facebook, play chess, etc... all on the Netbook, just as if I was at work (see above)...

But I ran into a wall of molasses...

It is so DREADFULLY slow! A windows take 5 seconds to refresh. Trying to scroll down a YouTube page in iE while a video is downloading freezes that tab for over a minute! Finally I got the video loaded (Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke playing in the change room prior to or after a show, see below) while I fiddled, slowly, updating the PPT files with the AVIs...

Everything took forever (for everybody, just to hyperbolate completely)! I gave up on the touch screen because the W7 multi-gesture thing kept picking up the edge of the finger that was clicking on the LMB, so I took out the mouse from my iMac and plugged it in. 2 1/2 years later, sigh, I could use the mouse to do things like resize the videos, then wait, and move them around the PPT page, then wait... Obviously this ATOM chip is way underpowered to do anything serious!

But that's not all. When the YouTube finally came back to life and I tried to listen, obviously the tinny (ENHANCED BOOST) speakers were horrible. So I unplugged the Bose speakers from my iMac and tried to plug them in - it went all funny, loud then soft, it was crazy, like the cable was bung. I changed it for a superfluous one on the HiFi. No better. Then I checked the headphones insert area on the Netbook. It has this nasty bloody recess; it only take small plugs, like iPhone shit. Holy toe-fucking hell!

Sigh... Turn off Netbook. Plug mouse back into iMac. Plug speakers with original cable back into iMac. Go to YouTube...


[Addendum: to put these guys into perspective...]


And just to remind you, as the music soothes my anger and the night fades down towards beddy-byes for E@L, NetBooks are a WANK! Fucking worst Sin$900 (why so expensive one, lah? I had to pay extra for Win7 {at least the videos run} and a bigger HDD) I ever spent. Not happy. Seriously thinking of passing it on to some other geekoid sucker if it doesn't get smashed and tossed out the window before they get the chance.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

OMG We Can't Believe We're Telling You This

E@L has gone insane! He is unrecognizable! There can be no other explanation!

For the third weekend in a row E@L has been spending Sundays at...

... no, not church! We said he'd gone insane, not become stupid.

Anyway, this is WORSE!

Aaaargh... E@L cuts out his tongue and flings it to the flesh-eating zombies after divulging this information...

He's been playing Dungeons and Dragons!

Yes, with Mercer Machine as Dungeon Master... Let us tell you, MM has a history of being mighty mean, AND he has this spooky, guttural, evil laugh (so much so it broke E@L up into fits of laughter, completely...)


Dearest Readers, please forgive us...

... but as a red-bearded, smelly, 4ft Dwarf, E@L is forever screaming in a thick Scottish accent: (think 'Shrek' - OK, E@L's the Australian dude playing the Canadian dude who plays the ogre dude.)

"I hut ut, wi' ma axe!"


On a brighter note: Unnamed sources reveal that E@L has dropped 4.2kgs in this last week. Expectations for this rapid rate of loss to continue are not high.

But it's fruit in the morning, veges and some meat for lunch and dinner: no rice, no bread, no potatoes. Fewer, and smaller size Spinelli's Hazelnut Choc-Spins and ONLY ONE oatmeal cookie (the will-power! Where does it come from?).

That was, until he hit the D&D game and its associated feast of rich and thick*, fat-and-carb-enhanced junk-food today.



BTW: conversation at Spinelli's.

E@L: A small hazelnut choc-pin, please.
She: Sir, we don't have small, only medium. (She indicates two cups - ostensibly Medium and Large)
E@L: It that the small one? (He point to the Medium cup)
She: Yes.
E@L: Then I'll have a small one. (Why didn't he just say that the first time?)
She: Thank you. (calls to the, ahem, "barista") Medium hazelnut spin!
E@L: And an oatmeal-raisin cookie, please.
She: Just one?
E@L: (sighs) Yes, just one. A small one.
She: They're all the same size, sir.
E@L: Then I'll have a medium one.
She: (smiles, gets cookie)
E@L: (YES!)


Also, E@L thought that the "new Blair-Witch Project", the infamously $15k budgeted and famously $100m+ earning Paranormal Activity, was pretty freaking scary!

But on his version, the bit in the trailer where somebody is sort of flying backwards into the bedroom straight towards the camera, well it didn't happen... WTF?

BWP itself was a crock of shit however.


* a Thai bar-girl's ideal man. Yuk yuk...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Excercise In Self-Aggrandisement or In Futility?

E@L has been receiving a lot of hits to this blog coming from his old one. Any idea why? Maybe someone mentioned E@L in a post but used the old address, who knows. One supposes he could look up the hits stats to the old blog. Nah, that would involve remembering the old password!

E@L got a twinge of panic, thinking what would happen if it all went down! He therefore spent hours last night transferring some of his old blog posts to a Word file before the whole thing collapses - the credit card linked to his old host,, has expired, for example. Just in case, you know. There is backup they offer that gives you a MySQL database, but sorting that out into intelligible format? Fuggedabardit!

So instead he went through the old blost, post by post; Cmd A, Cmd C, Cmd V.

He supposes he could make a PDF of it all and sell it for a huge amount of money, or... give it away for free.


Shit, he had only put in the first six months of posts (26 of 1,481 entries) and already the word-count is at over 20,000 and 58 pages, all from before he even started living in Singapore! Does E@L waffle on or WHAT! Some of what he thought were reasonable sized posts are filling 3-4 even 6 pages when the text is formatted to the default layout.

AND - those of you with long memories might recall that this is the THIRD incarnation of Expat-At-Large blog. He lost about 100 posts from prior to October of 2004 when his first host, Yahoo's Tripod kicked his arse off for uploading a photograph of the cover of a pirated DVD of "The Passion" - which said, incongruously, "Absolutely Hilarious." Most people thought the cover was absolutely hilarious.

He managed to rescue any posts that had comments from his email notifications.

Anyway, the point is there would have been a lot more from those first six months, but already it's a lot.

Then there was the time (TWICE!) that the old E@L website was hacked and used to send out phishing emails! Holy hell, the ride has not been easy. You cannot log onto E@L's old site from many locations (the Business Class lounge of BA in Heathrow for example) as the address is screened due to the phishing accident.


Is this a worthwhile enterprise? Should E@L persist with the remainder of the 1,465 posts? At 20 per night this could going to take a long time - 2 years in fact. Perhaps he should just select a "Better Parts Of E@L" sort of thing. Technology stories, Restaurant Stories, The Mouse Stories, Taxi Driver stories, Disaster and Cooking stories, Bruce Stories... Ah fuck they're all good.

Or should E@L be doing something else?

Is this yet another a deflection?


Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Canadian science fiction writer and Hugo Award nominee Peter Watts was bashed by US border guards, pepper-sprayed and charged with assaulting a federal officer for the crime of ... what? ... sitting quietly in car and looking suspiciously like a science fiction writer who is driving back to Canada?

Yet another case of Homeland Insecurity.


The incident made it to BoingBoing.


Rodney King copping it in 1991. Reassuring to see things haven't changed - I like predictability, things you can rely on.


I seem to recall a case of a writer who was refused entry to the USA from Canada because he put "Blogger" as his occupation.

(Hat-tip to Whatever, who links to some site where you can contribute to a fund for Dr Watts's legal costs.)


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Dialectical Present Under the Essential Christmas Tree

Quote Of The Day

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Kierkegaard.

IMHO your typical Singaporean doesn't have one and doesn't use the other.


So... Christmas is coming to Denmark, back in 1820 or thereabouts...

Mrs Kirkegaard leans toward her 7 year old son, who is attempting to bite the head off the family whippet: "What do you want for Christmas, young Søren?"

Søren Claus*

"Aesthetically it is quite in order to wish for wealth, good fortune and the most beautiful of damsels; in short, to wish for anything that is subject to an aesthetic dialectic. But at the same time to wish for an eternal happiness is doubly nonsense. Partly because it is at the same time, thus transforming an eternal happiness into something like a present on the Christmas tree; and partly because it is a wish, an eternal happiness being essentially relevant to essentially existing individual, not related by an aesthetic dialectic to a romantically wishful individual."

Mrs Kierkegaard, nods, smiles, rescues the dog, takes Mr Kierkegaard aside: "We need to talk about Søren..."


Now *I* consider myself free to think, but my brain is of no use to me here, it is hurting from the effort. I can't wrap my thoughts around Kierkegaard's jargon. WHY do I persist in trying to read such impenetrable stuff when I have hundreds of perfectly readable/understandable books everywhere in the flat? Is there anything of Kierkegaard which is understandable and useful?

In my quest to fully understand life, the universe, and Starhub Box programming, I am finally having some luck with >Slavoj Žižek, whom I once could only understand if I snorted a kilo of coke and then read it out loud with a lisp and an outrageous East European accent. "The Puppet And the Dwarf: The Perverse Nature of Christianity" seems to be going down relatively easily compared my assaults on his "On Belief" and the book on Lacan.

I am following his arguments, at least I think I am as I read them. "Zhe Fall ISSHhh zhe RedempSSShun": I understood that as I read it this morning in the waiting room. I'm thinking WTF just now, but hey.


In the meantime, as a Christmas present to myself (or maybe such self-flagellation is more appropriate for Easter), I've semi-started another diet (not counting beers tonight with Indy) as recommended by a friend who has lost 10kgs and kept it off. Just fruit in the morning with NO muesli or even my favorite wholegrain/rye/sourdough toast (not sure how long that restriction is going to last!), salad/coleslaw with some lean ham or chicken for lunch and NO rice (if I can get around to preparing such the night before and not blog inanely). Normal meal for dinner, but limit the size and try to avoid potato, bread and rice. Pretty much a low Glycemic Index diet, apart from the fruit. I'm not going completely vegetarian as I know some people have done in my situation, as I just do not have the WON'T power for something that strict.

I have been double dosing the medication (on Dr's orders) for the neuralgia and while it's not doing much for the pain, it IS boosting my appetite! The scale tipped over 130kgs on the weekend! Holy fuck! In 2005, I had slimmed down to a svelte 115kgs (The Mouse was cooking diet meals and me exercising 3 days a week) from about 125kgs, and I need to get back into that zone. At least I need to re-stabilize it at around 120kgs. 110kgs would be nice.

There is a new drug I read about today called Liraglutide which sounds like it might help with weight control and prevent the encroachment of diabetes, which is always a risk for someone bordering on the metabolic syndrome like me. Unfortunately it is not available in Singapore yet.

Fuck, I can't do exercise which requires me to use my feet and I am on drugs that increase my appetite - motherfucker... Mind you I was a fat ((!)) before all this drama, too.

Meanwhile, and yes I know I've tried and started before... and failed, but wish me well on this diet attempt anyway.


* Now you see why I don't have a job that requires Photoshop skills!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Human Rights In Singapore - FEER

"...the Singapore High Court ruled that "[human] rights should be subjugated to executive-determined community interests."

In other words, in Singapore, human rights are whatever the PAP say they are.

Human Rights, Singaporean Style
by Garry Rodan

Posted December 4, 2009

While there has been a lull in the debate over "Asian values" since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, the concept never disappeared. The development of a regional human-rights commission constitutes a fresh battleground where competing views are playing out. As in the past, the main interlocutors on the side of cultural relativism are Singaporean leaders and officials, but this time, opposing voices within Southeast Asia have grown louder and more self-confident. ... [Full text of this interesting article at the soon to be defunct FEER]

A nice blast at Singapore in what I presume is their final issue. The fact that the Wall Street Journal (a Murdoch company) group removed Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) from publication in Singapore after being sued for an article in which the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party was interviewed and called the government "corrupt" may be the reason for its demise. The main English reading public for FEER would be in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, so loss of perhaps 1/4 of their sales over the last 2 years or so may have topped it over the line for Rupert's bean counters.

The result of the FEER libel case was all publications in Singapore must put up a bond of $200,000 and must have an employee resident in Singapore - someone they can sue.

Murdoch effectively said "fuck that" to LKY's cronys and pulled FEER out of Singapore.


"Freedom" of speech -- if you register.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

What Am I Expected To Do?

One across the bows in the eternal war of the sexes, this great song from 1985 nearly blew conservative people to smithereens back in Australia at the time.

DO RE MI - Man Overboard

I try not to stand too close to myself
I try not to listen to the things that I say
They say there's no such thing as self abuse
But you wonder how I can be trusted
If I'm finely tuned and well adjusted
Oh pity about you
Oh pity about me
More's the pity about her
Every time she comes inside you have to run
You wish that crush would go away
You're not the only one

Squinting at broad daylight
Drumming up a conversation
Parsons brass is pealing appealing
Drumming up a congregation
Hands reaching for a glass of water
Dry socks and razor rash
Your shoes under my bed
Dandruff doona cigarette ash
I've tried to play it open handed
I've tried to make a fist of this
Even when the questions are candid
My arrows miss
I've heard about your fragile ego
Your shield, your sword
What am I expected to do?
Shout man overboard?

Come around when I'm asleep
Roll around and try to wake me
That's alright you've got to go now
Words overtake me
Your pubic hairs are on my pillow
Your stubble rings the sink
Your words under my skin
Your table manners stink
I paddle in the things I love
You wallow in a swamp of trivia
In a vase with insincere I love yous
Next door's Camellias
I'm sick and tired of this position
Hatched underneath an arm
Your crutch under stress
Your rudder when it's calm
I'm bored of staring at the ceiling
While you point out my flaws
I've watched the wallpaper peeling from slamming doors
You talk about penis envy
Your friends applaud
What am I expected to do?
Shout man overboard?

Come across to other girls
Look around and start a rumour
Jealous wife scenes raise a smile at parties
Like anal humour
Are you addicted to attention?
Do you do it for effect?
Your wit out of control
Misunderstood and henpecked!


The lead singer with the massive voice (and large mouth), Deborah Conway had a coupla great album as a solo artist - I saw her in 1995 or so at a REALLY SMALL venue in Sydney somewhere. She was massively pregnant, and she sang a song about her ultrasound scan! String Of Pearls is still an album I listen to. Bitch Epic not so much as look at the cover: Conway topless and smothered in chocolate... Awesome!

Bit of trivia - my mind wallows in a swamp of it - "In 1991, Conway played Juno in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, singing a setting of William Shakespeare's masque from The Tempest to music by Michael Nyman." (Wikipedia) She was the only one wearing clothes in the scene. Damn.


How Was Your Day?

Late for work...


Intergneck caretaker Joanne is an excellent source for us (we?) plagiarists - she comes up with such brilliant stuff!

p.s. It's Sunday morning, 10am. Guess what's going on upstairs.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Divorce Ban Proposed For California

If the sanctity of marriage means no gay marriage in California, then logically divorce should be outlawed as well...

Movement under way in California to ban divorce

By Judy Lin Associated Press
Posted: 11/30/2009 11:41:40 AM PST
Updated: 11/30/2009 01:41:34 PM PST

SACRAMENTO — Til death do us part? The vow would really hold true in California if a Sacramento Web designer gets his way.

In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of Comedy Channel writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California.

The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.

"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.

Marcotte said he has collected dozens of signatures, including one from his wife of seven years. The initiative's Facebook fans have swelled to more than 11,000. Volunteers that include gay activists and members of a local comedy troupe have signed on to help.

Marcotte is looking into whether he can gather signatures online, as proponents are doing for another proposed 2010 initiative to repeal the gay marriage ban. But the odds are stacked against a campaign funded primarily by the sale of $12 T-shirts featuring bride and groom stick figures chained at the wrists.

Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22, a high hurdle in a state where the typical petition drive costs millions of dollars. Even if his proposed constitutional amendment made next year's ballot, it's not clear how voters would react.

Nationwide, about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If you keep reading the linked article, you'll see that some people are taking it seriously. Catholics, I'm guessing.

100% of my marriage ended in divorce.


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