Why today? Why tomorrow? Why is THIS new year for us?
It isn't for the Chinese, the Sinhalese, the Thai (except for business purposes), nor for dozens of other regions, countries, and religions who have their New Year all over the place (in a temporal sense as well as the physical one).
For example, for both the Tamil in India and many of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Jan 14 is considered New Year. But for different reasons. The EOC of "Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine still use the Julian Calendar", (Wiki, above link). Since 2008, the state of Tamil Nadu has adjusted the New Year to an allegedly more secular date. People don't like governments fiddling with their holidays (unless it is to add more) so, meanwhile, many objecting Tamils continue to celebrate New Year in... mid-April, the time of the advent of Spring!
I grew accustomed to thinking that the West's (the so-called christian world) New Year, Jan 1st, was arbitrary; a relatively random date, stolen from the Romans, close enough to the summer equinox and to the saturnalia festival to be like, hey, why not now? As it doesn't correspond directly to any celestial timing landmark, nothing lunar or solar - no equinox, solstice, full moon, new moon or alignment of the planets exactly on that day - I was a tad confused, but not overly concerned.
But I was brought up Catholic. I went to Church and pretended to listen, giggled uncontrollably when the priest said "virgin", etc... At school we had Religious Education every day at noon, twenty minutes of unanswerable questions fobbed of with answers that amounted to, essentially, "because!" Some of this must have sunk in for, despite evidence to the contrary such as this blog, I am quite moralistic in many ways. Fortunately for my sanity, most of the contradictory details and ridiculous assertions of the Bible and the attendant accumulation of mythology, the suspect explanations and circular arguments in the explications upon it, washed off my back and flew through my ears. But as I once had a terrific memory (when? I've forgotten) certain factoids must have become lodged in an otherwise inconsequential matrix of neural firings. So I knew deep down somewhere in the amygdala (the cerebellum? I've forgotten), that momentous knowledge, the significance of the great and holy feast we get pissed at tonight, but I had forgotten-slash(as it were)-suppressed it.
As Christmas allegedly celebrates the birthday of Jesus, and his being Jewish, he had to be circumcised* on the eight day of His precious and not-inconsequential life. Penis? Chop chop mistah.
Presuming the male infant (miraculously delivered from a virgin who obviously lost her hymen from the inside out) survived to that venerable age of course.
Why wait? Weeeeeeell... You know how it is with closed communities, when cousins marry sort of thing: birth defects like renal agenesis and inborn errors of metabolism like Gaucher's disease, glycogen storage disease, thalassaemia, etc... Many are fatal in about four to five days, some even sooner. Seen it only a few times thankfully, when I was (really) working. Sad.
So they waited, and we wait, eight (8, count 'em) days.
Yes, on that day, on THIS day (i.e. tomorrow), the prepuce** of the penis of Our Lord was stretched out, perhaps over an infibulator***, and snipped off. The bris, tossed to the cats. Foreskin for the pussens, mmrrrgniaow.
The 1st of January way back when. Ow.
Hurt? Hurt so much He couldn't walk on water for nearly a year!
This is why we (you) celebrate New Year today. I know that you too needed to be reminded of this.
It is the Day Of The Newly Exposed Glans Penis!
Jesus was therefore on target for the Covenant of Abraham. Remember how it goes? I'll give you a land of milk and honey, life eternal in heaven, etc... if your males remove some redundant skin from their genitalia. Simple as that. Snip your way to Jewish Nirvana.
Notice how religions have this obsession with all things genitalian and reproductive? (See above re: inbreeding.)
I wonder if, perhaps, the goal of many young men like myself back when, in our post-pubertal teens when the hormones were raging, was to be "in" (as in penis-in-vaginated) on the stroke (as it were) of midnight. I kid you not, it was a big goal in our town. Some instances of this carnal celebration even involved women.
New Year is Jan 1st and Jan 1st is New Year because of a circumcision.
Yes, you may not have realized it, but New Year is a religious holiday. Please tune your mind to that dubious and concerned (and damn ugly) baby Jesus above, about to lose part of its Godly schlong (a micro-penis, plus microcephaly and a touch of the Benjamin Button about the face, according to this pic - see above re: birth defects) so that the world could later be redeemed (redeemed? I'm not seeing that) from its sins by His cruci-fiction and death, as you pop the cork (not a metaphor) tonight.
* For those of you uncertain of the technique of this insane religious torture, there are some nice illustrations here. Yada yada, incidence of AIDS is lower, but Jesus was not a fag, allegedly, so why?
** The Holy Umbilical Cord is a first class Catholic relic (that which is composed of a body part) of Christ. Christian teaching generally states that Christ was assumed into heaven corporeally. Therefore the only parts of his body available for veneration are parts he had lost prior—hair, blood, fingernails, milk teeth, his prepuce and the umbilicus remaining from his birth.Wiki. Not his lymph, shit, piss, vomit, snot, tears, sweat, phlegm or ejaculate however.
*** Infibulation and Infibulators
Infubulation may refer to the tying up of the male foreskin to some device, like a cloth belt, to prevent masturbation. IKYN.
It is also a practice by those fucking butchers who perform radical female circumcision to stitch closed the labia to prevent normal intercourse and the enjoyment of sex by women.
Many African Muslims believe that female circumcision is required by Islam. In fact the practice is mentioned nowhere in the Quran, although the Sunnah contains several references to the custom. In particular, Mohammed instructed one infibulator, "Yes, it is allowed. Come closer so I can teach you: if you cut, do not overdo it, because it brings more radiance to the face and it is more pleasant for the husband."via
An infibulator is person who performs the infibulation.
For the purposes of this blog post however the infibulator is a small metal conic device for protecting the glans penis. The foreskin is draped over it so that religious or medical excision can be performed without danger to the rest of the poor kid's tiny little dicky-bird.
Never heard of it? Me neither until I heard the following story --
It concerns the late Australian billionaire Kerry Packer. He was having one of his monthly heart attacks at a race track (or was it a cricket match? whatever) and someone called urgently for an infibulator! He lifted his head and hoarsely called out with what might have been his last breath (we should have been so lucky) that he was having a fuckin' heart attack, not a fuckin' circumcision! Get me a defibrillator! The emergency helicopter ambulance arrived and did not have either, but Packer survived. He later gave #insert large sum of money# to the ambulance service to place defibrillators in all medical evacuation helicopters. Allegedly true (ish).
The origin of the previously described mysterious noisome aromatic residue of a long dead tabby tom in the childhood bedroom of E@L has been sourced. Sleep easy one and all. It used to be that whenever (usually Christmas) E@L arrived from his sojourn in the Far Orient, he would be ensconced in this room and instantly his presence would stir the unmistakable stench of a crusty old cat intent on ensuring his domain was marked with a copious burst of pungent you-rine. Pee-you indeed! The fact that this tom had been long deceased - we are talking many, many years, like six, seven, eight - did little to diminish the olfactory memory of his attraction to E@L's den of repose.
E@L's maternal mother, frantic, embarrassed, had washed, aired, dry-cleaned and steam-cleaned every item in the room, failing one, the guilty party. A blue acrylic pseudo-lambswool blanket of which E@L would have considered obvious and of primary suspectivity. He had assumed that Mumsy would have attacked that item of his bedclothes first, or at least immediately after the doona (duvet) and its cover had proven innocent, but it was not so.
E@L's preferred option of sleeping in the third bedroom (that of his sole sibling) has become so entrenched that this was no longer a problem, and E@L leaves the room for his cousins when they come for Boxing Day - perhaps once they resented this usurping.
They have no cause any longer to complain. The long haunting of the piss of the ghost cat has finally ended. It has been exorcised.
Time is fast approaching for the solipsistic solstice soliloquy in which our hero, troubled soul, fatal flaw, bad luck / bad management, harangues the crowd around the Tannenbaum of ancient myth and metaphor on their dismal failings and on his exhuberant successings in the course of the previous solar cycle. The 10 Things I Did This Year But You Didn't Ha Ha speech.
Thankfully it is not here yet. Time, E@L means. It will be here soon though, he is semi-reliably informed by the voices inside his head (they obviously have nowhere more pleasant to spend their holidays).
However, E@L is using this absence of Time advantageously and is planning ahead (ahead? before? now? - what does this temporary absence of temporality mean? What, indeed, does 'temporary' mean in such a situation) for his New Year Resolutions (NYR).
They are thus: get fatter, become less fit and be more morose.
For, as one never keeps one's NYR, E@L is a shoo-in for being a Slimmer, Fitter, Happier blogger/facebooker/porn-downloader for 2012. (FUCK! 2000 and fucking twelve and he's still alive!) The psychological ploy being, um, employed, you will have indubitably inferred, is that of the Reverse Type.
Not that E@L hasn't had a lot to smile about in the preceding thirteen full moons (see below, re: medications) but, as mentioned above, the Time has not yet arrived to enumerate and discuss these... Hang-on, there's a (conveniently timed) knock at the door. Nope, still not Time, it's one of those otherwise unemployable telephone company salesman, wants to know if E@L would care to buy Telstra. E@L told him if he didn't leave he'd shoot a kitten.
Yep, gone, see? Reverse psychology!
Another tactic he has appropriated, more of a rethinking than a theft really, is one he heard first on some public radio interview on the way to Melbourne for dinner last night (not at Rockpool, will complain later when the meds wear off). There was this crazy Yank (Canuck? who can tell? who cares?) going on about denial. (E@L wished the man wasn't talking denial, seriously, he doesn't need to listen to people speaking about denial. He doesn't want to hear about it. It doesn't concern him. There is most emfatically, nothing to deny! Who, what, me? Another slice of Christmas pudding, more cream, custard, ice-cream, sure! Bring it on!)
Well, if you listened to the podcast linked to, or read the book you will know that Paul Barclay is more on about self-control than denial, but hey, yes, same thing, the tactic he suggested you see is to scare yourself straight, to anti-bribe yourself, in a way. Here is a foolproof technique to guarantee that you will keep (or not keep, if that is your cunning plan) your NYR.
How? you feebly entreat.
Answer. Set-up a truly negative incentive for yourself. Not a disincentive, that's different, that's how the Philip's Healthcare Cosmodemonic Healthcare Company's annual bonus system used to work. Not just just something of the hey, you don't want to do that sort of thing, not the "she wants to make love but the football is on" sort of don't-want-to-do, but something you really... REALLY... DON'T... WANT... TO... DO.
Such as live-donate BOTH kidneys to an ailing pedophile or a large amount of money to a cause you find completely untenable. Say Scientology, some Nazi skinhead thugs christmas booze and knuckle-duster the fags party, The National Rifle Association, or the poor.
And when he says set up, E@L doesn't mean the "Yeah, I promise I'll do that," sort of set up, but no, get serious, hand over complete control of the forfeit to a third party, such as your evil half-brother (your Nazi, Scots heritage, creepy pedophile, gun-toting Scientologist with no ready cash half-brother who is on dialysis.) Choose a person who is just dying [oops, bad unintentional joke] for you to fail so he can abscond to another state of mind with your cash or your urinary tract, that sort of set up. Your bank-manager would also fit the bill, a lawyer, your ex-wife, your current wife. E@L is prepared to hold large sums of cash on your behalf if you are in extremis.
Yep. Negative consequences for the world if you break your NYR. You fail your task(s) and bang, your money/kidneys are gone, your children are no longer safe, George W Bush is wearing a swastika (and no he hasn't gone Buddhist) and running for re-election and all stem-cell research grinds to a mushy halt.
Once it becomes apparent that you have blown it, there will be no changing your mind, no altering your plan, no rescinding of your Last Will and Testicle. It is done. You just made the world a worse place to live for several cuddly endangered species. Happy with yourself loser? We all should hope not. But we'd love to hear what The Authorities will says about your $10,000 donation to the Get Some Anthrax* And Put It In Richard Dawkins Tea Society... (Um... they'd probably facilitate it!)
E@L, on pain meds for neuropathy that stabilise his moods (as a side-effect only), really is in a happy(ish) state most of the time nowadays (not counting the explosive issue of $80 for an undercooked here, overcooked there tri-partite collection of gristle and tendon they called a steak at Neil Perry's Rockpool Grill at Crown Casino last Sunday - sorry couldn't wait for the next blog post), so he has to try hard to think of some crucial issue, some key cause, some misguided belief system that he will find sufficiently abhorrent, in-your-face wrong and cruelly harmful enough to fire up strong negative feelings in his serotonin re-uptake modified existence... There must be something other than bad steak or the usual pub conversations with his friends that will get him riled and angry.
There must be something he would just oh-so hate to happen that he is compelled to stop it, some idea so against his ingrained world-view that he would hate to see it advance, something so completely bad that he MUST complete his NYR and do good things (good things? E@L don't need no stinking good things!) instead. (Reversely or forwardly.)
E@L *thinks again: Why did she say 19? Do I look like a No 19 person?
E@L ambles back from the N****** shopping centre carrying two plastic bags of shopping (full grain bread, full cream milk, full of potassium bananas, full of pulp orange juice - his staples) with the handles wrapped over his hands so that weight falls on the back of his wrist, a new technique after fifty-four years that takes the pressure off his fingers (can't teach an old dogs new tricks? - Hah!), up a slght hill, puffing as he tries to whistle some Audioslave rocking beat, thinking of things he has done and said in the past, and occasionally sprouting a "fuck" out loud or "you fucking idiot" as he recalls the stupid and reckless and damaging words he has uttered to girls over the years while trying to make them understand his urgent desires, often ensuring that they would not come anywhere near him and that they now consider him a lech and a creep, thereby exploding whatever trusting and friendly relationship he might imagine they had established over the period (long or short) of their acquaintance. Expressions of interest [e.g. "let's fuck"] that work in OT at 2am ("you don't need to try hard, it's 2am," Bruce once told him) do not work on pretty girls he has the hots for at 10pm in pubs and wine-bars along Robertson Walk. Why does he not know how to woo girls? Why is he a fuckwit? Even with guys he has no skills at small talk, nothing except deeper conversations at his call and even they only come out after a few alcoholic drinks, when everyone starts feeling philosophical as well. He sits silent around the table listening to others chat about topics he has zero interest in, zero knowledge about, or probably has forgotten about (he blames the medications). Cars, football, cricket, blokie things. Why is it so hard?
He looks around to see if there is anyone walking near him who might have overheard his expletive ejaculation, and if there is (he doesn't notice them because he is listening to the music and day-dreaming about the stupidity that has plagued his existence and, not a bad thing, kept him single these last twenty years) and if there is anyone there, he awkwardly attempts to sing a few muted words of the song in his ears, or whistle them away, hey, these are the lyrics I am calling out, E@L is not a lunatic wandering the streets mumbling foul words for no reason whatsoever. He has reasons for mumbling rude words - he is a fuckwit, a stumbling tongue-tied failure with women.
He blames his mum for not marrying again, not giving him a male role-model. He blames not being much good at sports, or not interested in sports as he matured from a high skill level in primary school to not giving a fuck, and so not getting into the change-room banter and stories of what works and what doesn't in the picking up and making out with the horny Catholic girls from the convent school down the road (it's muscles mainly that seem to work). He blames the solitary pursuits of surfing and playing the guitar (never remembering the chords, even when he was young - maybe it's not the meds) and reading on his poor socialisation. Then getting married at nineteen. Nineteen. So young, fresh out of school, or one year out actually, not so much a gap year year as a pit year, a year spent fucking up an Arts course (poetry, what the fuck does Dylan Thomas mean to him, the wind is from the north-west, Southside - the left-hander behind Bell's Beach [remember point Break?] would be pumping, well it would it there was any swell) and there was the surfing trip to Queensland and New South Wales in a car with six bald tyres (lots of stories about that trip, if he had the time to tell them) and the job at Fords engine plant, fettling (yes it's a word) away some part of a lifter, or bashing camshafts out of their hot sand molds, face black and gritty at the end of a shift.
And so incompetent at the accurate and reliable deployment of condoms, so young, so fucking stupid. First ever girlfriend (No 1 son though, what a marvelous lad) too. Out came the moral shotgun and that was it for E@L. So E@L never went through those years of pick-up lines, never learnt the chat-up process, never played the game. He never learned what is nice too say, what is amusing, what is endearing, what shows understanding and interest, what opens a girls legs. No wonder he fucks up. He only became single, really independent when No 1 one son went to live in England. That's when E@L moved to his career in the Cosmo-Incompetent Medical Company, was stationed in Hong Kong and there, in Wanchai at 2am, there was no need to try so hard.
He checked out the numbers of the houses on the street. They seemed to jump enormously from house/condo to condo/house. 55, 47, 33. And he was almost at his front gate. Where was No 19 going to be? How is it going to fit in here, there were only two plots to go, semi-detached units. The first was 27, the second, even though it was on the same plot jumped down to 23. Then he was at his gate. 11. There was no 19. What the fuck was that taxi driver talking about?
His 19-ness was all in her head.
Nineteen, he thought again. Is he a nineteen person? Is there something of his nineteen history that she saw inside him as she glanced in the rear-view mirror??
As a medical worker (when I DO work) obviously I see a lot of people with a lot of health problems, not counting when I look in the mirror. Cancer is the Big C. I am not sure what the C stands for, perhaps it's what people scream when they get the diagnosis, but we'll move on.
As a WESTERN medical worker, a free-thinker (mild-mannered antichrist) and skeptic, I do not have a lot of time for alternative medicines. No time for most of the new-age ****-therapy things involving herbs, oils or rocks, nor for chiropractic, nor for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which is killing endangered species faster than deforestation and global warming and moon-sized meteorites put together. There is so much blatant quackery, snake-oils and pseudo-science here, so many un-testable therapies offered, and so many contestable therapies proven wrong when contested. (Check Ben Goldacre's blog and tweets. Read Simon Sigh's books and his blog.) I groan, sometimes I kick back.
I receive each week (or is it month?) a medical newsletter from a service called DocCheckNews. Last week one of their articles caught my attention - it was about cancer denial and Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs. Evil exponent of that worst sort of capitalism that is anti-competition and wants to monopolize its product type. Great acceptor of other people's great designs. Great acceptor of praise that should have been given to those others. Rich dude.
Alternative medical treatment FAIL.
Patients in state of shock
Things began for the Apple guru not that badly: Jobs' cancer was discovered more or less accidentally, but still in its early stages. As the CEO of Apple was being examined because of kidney stones, medical staff found indicators of a neuroendocrine tumor. Their good news: "This is one of those slow-growing pancreatic cancers that can actually be cured." Jobs nevertheless decided against surgery and chemo. Instead, he tried to treat the disease with diet, turned to spiritual healers and tested macrobiotic approaches. Nine months later, the tumor had spread considerably. "How could such a clever man then be merely so stupid", many journalists are now asking.
But the refusal of truth didn't end there: For months, the Apple-Star stated in several interviews that he had been healed – and gave other patients apparent hope. The people believed it – wanted to believe it, until Jobs' condition was no longer able to go by unnoticed. A charismatic marketing star on the one hand, unable to speak publicly about his illness on the other: such was the conclusion of the press. Then there was no turning back: A liver transplant – necessary due to numerous metastases – was considered the last chance. Steve Jobs stood at the top of the waiting list at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, such was the extent of his disease. In the medium term his surgeons were successful, yet he died on 5 October 2011.
The soul suffers, and the therapy suffers alongside in sympathy
Steve Jobs story, in general terms, is not an unusual one: after cancer diagnoses have been given, medical staff report existentiality-based fears – patients lose the ground under their feet, feel fear, helplessness, despair and rage. Others in turn suppress acknowledgement of their illness completely. The doctors have surely been wrong, data samples or data were switched: common lies pulled out as self-defending cover. And some flee into the hands of supposed healers with promises of alternative therapy. The social environment also often reacts completely wrongly: "Self-blame" is the dominant tone of terse declarations about patients with lung cancer ("That comes from smoking too much") or liver cancer ("Should've drunk less"). Those affected benefit precious little from this, they sink ever further into a black hole.
Dipl.-Chem. Michael van den Heuvel
Point being: If Steve Jobs had taken the course of conventional Western medicine straight away, he would, for better or worse, still be alive today. And most probably cured, most likely very healthy.
Rich or poor, under stress we are vulnerable to quackery. Be on your guard, for the clouds of ignorance and, worse, denial are gathering.
Wow! How bored (i.e. looking for way to avoid doing what he should be doing) is E@L! While cutting and pasting the pictures for the antecedent blog post, E@L noticed that with the new format of the behind-the-scenes pages of Blogger, you can list all your posts and it gives a view count for each of them! Kewl... E@L looks and ... Sad...
Aiyah, so few. Some posts have, like, 0 hits. Not even E@L read those ones.
Fuck, E@L hopes the three people reading his blog are getting royally entertained, because no-one else could be fucked with this circus... All his efforts are for you. #bows#
708 posts. 709 now. Since Oct 2008, that's about 19 posts a month. Average number of words... No lets not get into that futile and depressing stat. According to Sitemeter, about 40 hits per day over the last year. That's about what Izzy used to get per minute. Well, I guess I haven't been blogging about my sex life recently. In fact, not about anything at all... Not sure why not. Just can't muster up energy, free time, wakefulness, sobriety...
But hey, mr brightside! - 30 of those 709 posts have had 100 or more views, woo-hoo! (Over three years, remember.)
Here are the numbers. You can chase these links to see what people other than yourselves have been wrongly directed to by Google and Yahoo. You can get the gist of what visitors are reading, skimming, hunting for pictures in, getting shocked and scared when they realize that this wasn't what they wanted to find at all, no, not at all...
Note the completely statistically irrelevant clustering effect at 308, 307 & 305 and then again 179, 177, 176, 174 & 173. The universe is random and randomness creates clusters. If the universe were regular, it wouldn't be random, would it? As James Stephens said in The Crock Of Gold, "It has lumps in it."
One can only assume that the surprise number one hit ("Water Sign") is due to a bunch of lunatic New-Agers looking to match an Aries with a Capricorn or something... As expected Bruce figures highly at number two, while Andrew McGregor Marshall's story of his Reuters fiasco is number three, perhaps because it is linked-to on a Wikipedia page. I like that number four is "Shrine", in which I tried to follow as meticulously as I could a woman placing your typical Buddhist offerings on a weathered, lichen-covered stone shrine next to where I was lounging by the pool in Ubud, Bali. A better writer would have taken either 15 pages to do this, or 15 words.
It's probably best to start from here to get the background briefing or you could jump to his most recent trip - the one he regaled us with at lunch last week-end... There are few more posts to come.
The Bludger blogs of his trips to Vietnam in search of romance. He is most emphatically NOT a sex-tourist, you are thinking of E@L there, but just someone who met someone he liked and who seemed to like him and not surprisingly he wanted to follow up on that.
Here we have a beautiful country, fascinating culture, great food, welcoming people. What could possibly go wrong? Ah, that's right, she's just a poor girl from a poor family...
It's almost like The Bludger has been reading all the Expat misadventure books ever written (and E@L's blog) concerning the depths and dangers one's erect penis can drag one to in Asia, and then decided to follow the DON'T part of their advice, rather than the DO.
He's a good friend of E@L from the Sydney days, and he does not make things up. In this case he wouldn't have needed to.
E@L knows of several couples, friends of his, European and Asian, who have been in long and mutually loving relationships. He knows of dozens more who haven't, but hey.
My best Texan buddy, Mercermachine and his lovely friend Bell tied the knot today! Woohoo! Low-key ceremony at East coast Parkway, yours truly honoured to be one of the witnesses.
Please go over and wish them the best...
p.s. and please buy, read and enjoy his excellent stories. He needs that $0.99 to pay for the honeymoon! Oh, and tell a million of your closest friends to do likewise because he wants to have that honeymoon in the Bahamas over a period of a year or two.