Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Ascent of Awareness

When I was 15-25 years old, I thought I was a fucking genius.

When I was 25-50 years old I acted like I WAS a fucking genius.

When I was 50, till now, I have reminisced on I what a fucking idiot I was, in fact, from 15-50 and that, I have realised, no-one was fooled.

From 50 till now, I am constantly reinforcing the fact that I am still a fucking idiot.


Just keep your mouth shut,


Friday, February 25, 2011

What The Japanese Were Doing With Whale Blubber


Fake women*: a vast improvement over the traditional blow-up doll. Although with these ones, the whale blubber will eventually rot and dissolve into a puddle of stinking fat. However, this fat can be rendered into an oil that will be an excellent lubricant for your new one next year/month/week. That is, if there are any whale girls next year, thanks to the Japanese giving up on their "research".

* Not to be confused with a real woman.


*NOTE -The next link is NSSPWHO. (Not Safe For Sane People at Work, Home or Otherwise.)


Is this where the idea for the Emiko, the self-aware sex toy in The Wind-up Girl came from?


E@L is concerned that Super-Joyce, his part-time house-tidier might not be there when the delivery man comes, so he's having his sent to the new office. As he might be travelling, he'll address her to his new boss.

The rather explicitly silicone video above is also an excellent illustration of why Japanese men fail to elicit more than a series of squeaks (that indicate feigned resistance) when doing these weird and wonderful things to their ladies' breasts. (Love the giant thumb-squash upwards. Gotta hurt!)


Unforgivable the situation re: Philippe Djian. My copy of the book arrived from some sub-dealer with Alibris and it had a black pen across the pages at the bottom - remaindered, right? Yet I paid for an unmarked 'NEW' copy! Anyway, finished it tonight...

Well, should a) I send it back, or b) learn to read French in order to catch up on all Djian's untranslated stuff, or c) was this the only one worth translating over the past 20 years, or d) why can't we just get over the Betty Blue thing and translate some more of his brilliant stuff into English, and why, while we are in a cataloging mode, e) can't we just dump Michel Houllebecq - he should delay no more and get his merde out of our visages - we want more Djian!

More about Unforgivable


I know that this blog rambles from nonsensical book reviews (case in point) to the cataloging of the sexual exploits of various people called Bruce, to para-seditious mumblings about Singapore's taxi drivers, coffee purveyors and the spookily ubiquitous Lee family who run the city of Singapore like a fascist state. Well big deal. Blogging is dead. These digital pages are for me and my handful of necrophiliac lurkers and zombie friends. And I don't care if you'd rather read about Clive Cussler, Clive James or Clive Barker - what I'd like to talk about tonight is what I talk about tonight.

And I really had trouble deciding what tone to take in this book review type post tonight. I chose the 'pissed ramble'.


You've never met such an arsehole as the narrator in this relatively short novel (212 pages, large type). Not that he is violent (much) or your classic anti-hero as such, not a likable rogue who gets away with it, not your Ripley/Alfie type. No, he is just selfish to the point of pathology and as grumpy, narcissistic and insensitive as anyone you'd ever have the misfortune to meet - in short, he is French. Or English, in the Kingsly Amis, Philip Larkin mold.

'Curmudgeon' is a word you might associate with such grumpy, intransigent old men as this, and with the previous generation of angry young/old men writers like the above-mentioned insufferable (at least to his son and wives) Kingsley Amis. Well the protagonist of Djian's recently translated novel is also a curmudgeonly old writer, an ostensibly (and perhaps essentially) unlovable, fastidious and unloving, old fart. Self-centred and misanthropic? You have no idea. Makes the infamously arsehole-ish Kingsley look like the unflappably affable host of a Sunday morning TV chat show on the shopping channel.


The elderly writer Francis (please Lord I hope this is not based on Djian, surely on Amis) has one surviving daughter, Alice. When she was a teenager, her mom and sister were incinerated after a car accident in front of their eyes as she and Dad, who both survived the crash, looked on, helpless. To illustrate his insensitivity and self-centredness, at one point, just after the tragedy, Djian has Francis come into her room and tell the desperately grieving Alica, that hey, he has writer's block and needs some sympathy.

Alice has grown up to be a (willful selfish) famous actress, who is rather alienated from dad (duh!), and shagging the likes of Brad (while denying it - "Angelina is my friend") and/or Shia LaBoeuf, while her ex-drug-abusing banker hubby Roger and their adorable twin girls (one with two less fingers thanks to a stoned Roger) look on with great confusion.

Then Alice disappears.


Then it goes downhill. New wives, PIs - amateur and professional, old girlfriends turned lesbians with suicidal sons fresh out of jail, and writer's block, and homosexual dog-murderers, and guns (and lovers) [good name for a band?], misunderstandings, massive jealousy and a web of little white lies... as Francis' long lost passion for writing comes back...

One of the reviews calls it "cinematic". I guess that is because Judith, Francis's second wife, is a real-estate agent. And because someone fires a gun at the end. But the frequent and often un-noted time shifts (paragraph by paragraph sometimes) swerve the narrative back and forth, it might seem like something you'd see in some Stephen Soderburgh directed/edited flick (the person dying in a burning car is another link) like 'Crash', rather than having the conventional linearity of the dysfunctional family in 'American Beauty'.


I downed the last 80 pages of 'Unforgivable' in a rush, along with a bottle of Coonawarra Cab Sav and a medium-rare rib-eye, and was sitting in the low red ambiance of the Rib Room of the Landmark (got upgraded to a suite, so thought I'd give them all their money back) and was stunned (by the book, not the wine, though it was bloody nice too) and considering that if this is what it takes to be a writer, then I don't want to go there...

Francis's aunt had a solid affair with Ernest Hemingway (she knitted that thick white jumper you see him wearing in some photos, and sent him a load of anchovies [wtf?]) and he is Francis' writing hero. He has his aunt's couch, one that Hemingway slept on (he keeps reminding us) and a framed card thanking her for the anchovies (brilliant!). Was Hemingway an arsehole too? c.f. 'Happy Birthday Wanda June.' Discuss.

Francis knows almost nothing about his fellow human beings and seems to care only as far as things affect him, at least with those is in his immediate family and environs. He reminds me (another film allusion) of the Jack Nicholson character (Alice would never sleep with Nicholson!) in 'As Good As It Gets' - someone who can write amazing stuff but cannot live or act in the emotional real world, completely unlike his characters or his authorial self. High functioning autism.


But despite the chaos, the anger, angst and emotional dysfunction (here's another film allusion that is not a million miles from the mark - 'The Royal Tennenbaums') I still am fond of Francis. "Am I not allowed a sexual life?" he asks his angry (packing her bags, leaving with the twins) daughter when, after years of abstinence/impotence (he was incapable of making love with his second wife), he surreptiously, he thought, brings home a lady he met in a bar. She (Alice) breaks down and cries on his shoulder. "Forgive me", she says. Yet, hell, holy fuck, HE should be asking, pleading, begging, gnashing his teeth, cutting off his arms in pleas for her forgiveness for HIS unutterably bad parenting (which made her turn out this way).

[Addendum: now I think back on it, with the perspective on literature one gets after two or three hours, I'd say there is only one unequivocally nice person in the whole goddamn book (and she... no, won't spoil it), not counting the sweet, almost interchangeable and digitally challenged twins - but counting their always crying newborn baby brother!]


And the pains of the writing process he describes; the concentration and dedication required to get the rhythm of one sentence right, let alone the clarity of a paragraph or a page and the solitude one needs for this task, and the pressure that this intolerance of distraction puts on the demands of family life... No, not a writer's life for me. Just keep me blathering away incoherently and unedited on this blog till the wee hours (again).

And stay well paid in my day job.


More than recommended. Unforgettable - an emotional kick in the guts. As was that Katnook Estates Cab Sav!


Some writers produce books so that you have something to hold in your hand as you pass the time (and be "entertained"), and some so that you have something to think about when you put the book down.


(also highly recommended for those times you are wandering around Chiang Mai in a daze - The New Yorker fiction podcasts. Short stories from the NYer archives, read by other writers. Awesome. Free. How I got onto the incredible Denis Johnson)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guillermo Del Toro's Pinnochio

I wasn't overly taken by 'Labyrinth', the last Del Toro movie I saw. I had an, um, discussion at length with Spike about that movie. He thought it was an instant classic. I thought it was pretty, in its creepy way, but that it lacked the mythic quality and internal consistency required to embed itself in the collective unconscious. In other words, it was shallow and made-up. The plot attempted to be one of the seven (Ch 3: The Journey - The Quest), but didn't quite cut the mustard as those tasks in a truly good quest would be relevant to the next task at least, and properly to the eventual outcome.

He, correctly, thought I was a deluded artistically jejune idiot who would call black white just to enjoy a heated argument, the more pointless the better. He didn't actually SAY that, but I am certain he thought it.

It's not like I have a thing against Del Toro, because I really enjoyed the Hellboy series.


And recently, I mentioned somewhere here that had I enjoyed a very dark, twisted and funny (if you could keep up) novel about the eventual demise of the elderly anthropomorphic Pinnochio. It was Robert Coover's iconoclastic (and aren't all his books) 'Pinnochio In Venice'.

I had only have vague recollections of Walt's Pinocchio movie from 1940 (no, kiddies, I hadn't been born yet, haha), and that in snippets on Sunday evenings as kids, watching Disneyland after we came home from church (Mum! Don't talk to Fr Rafter, Disneyland is on soon! And we have to get fish and chips first, and then we can sing along with "When You Wish Upon A Cricket"). Really, most of my knowledge comes more from my seven year old self's understanding of a cartoon book of the movie of the book, rather than the TV show. No wonder Coover's novel was such a head spinner for me.

According to whatever movie-site I blurfed onto somehow (Ah looking for stuff while chatting with a chess opponent about the book Bobby Fischer Goes to War and found they were making it into a movie as well!), as I said, according to this site, Del Toro is now taking on the truly classic (Ch 7. Rebirth ) original tale of Pinocchio. He is making this as a stop motion animation and will be sticking much closer to Collodi's original plot, and with a somewhat exponentially darker vision than Disney's. So, from the other shots shown at the linked site, I anticipate this as being one of the few upcoming remakes that might actually be worth watching*. Accurate - not whale, dogfish, etc... As the original novel (a bigger book than I thought) is on my shelf unread - and I wish I had it here now to read in Bangkok - I can't comment too much yet, but I wonder if the baroque style of Coover's book has been an influence on Del Toro. Which is to say, I wonder if has read it.

Pinocchio In Venice

Pinnochio in Del Toro


And why are the only seven plots? Because we like to hear the same stories again and again. Just ask No1 son about The Diggingest Dog.


* (Ryan Gosling in 'Logan's Run'? What are the thinking? 'Tron II' or whatever it was, complete disaster. 'TGWTDG' - Fincher, drop it!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Black Girl

Black Girl. Original title La noire de... (The Black Girl of...), directed by Ousmane Sembene. 1966.

More screenshots and a good discussion at a movie blog called Lolita's Classics.

One of the first, if not the first, full-length movie by a sub-Saharan director to be released in France (or anywhere presumably). It is about a misunderstood and disappointed Senegalese woman who comes to France as a baby-sitter. Her duties are those of a maid however, and though she had high expectations of seeing France, she sees nothing but the inside of her employers' apartment. She becomes depressed at her offhand treatment as an "animal" rather than a person, and commits suicide.

Now, I am not that much of a film aficionado to be aware of much of the Senegalese school, but there is an obvious correlation in this one to our (my) colonialistic (new word?) exploitation of Indonesian and Filipina maids (and Filipino and South Asian construction workers) in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East, etc...

I haven't seen the movie, and I doubt it is available at HMV in Orchard Rd. My torrent site is down (as if it would have it either), so chances are I won't.


On a completely unrelated topic, I haven't heard from The Mouse, after her offer last year to come back and suffer under my harsh treatment work for me since she made contact late last year.


p.s. I take it The Mouse doesn't mind my nickname for her. She was smiling from tiny shell-like to tiny shell-like when she gave me a Christmas card that read -

"It was The Night Before Christmas And All Through The House Not A Creature Was Stirring... (turn to inside page) Except For The Mouse".


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food Commodities Trading evil. Or good, in a way I guess, as the resultant inflation of food prices is stimulating remarkable losses of tourist revenue in Tunisia and Egypt and now their in-betweeny, Libya. Down with all dictators I say! (How are the food prices in Singapore BTW? Certainly the price for champagne brunch at the Ritz-Carlton has gone up heaps in the last few years!)


Food Commodity Speculation Adds to Egypt Unrest Huffington Post.

While flooding in Australia, a drought in Russia and weak harvests in India and China are the fundamental drivers for this upwards trend, there is little doubt that investors and traders looking to diversify and capitalize on the supply shortages are moving these prices much more significantly and faster. Commodity index investment increased an estimated and whopping $80B dollars last year, bringing total long-only commodity index investment to $350B, according to Barclays. Another $30B of commodity ETF investment is also overwhelmingly long-only, as short commitment in these instruments is normally well under 5% of float.

WhateverTF that last bit means, the middle bit says essentially that it's Blythe Masters' fault. 1st. Wall. Up against.


Indonesia to bring food commodity speculation issue in G20 Summit Xinhaunet

"We want the G20 forum to pay more attention on food commodity trading activities so as to eliminate the speculators and their business," Indonesian Financial Minister Agus Martowardoyo said in his office here, citing to part of agendas the Indonesian government brings in the upcoming G20 Summit slated to be held in Paris, France from Feb. 18 to 19.

If even Indonesia knows what going on, it must be bad!


Food prices push millions into poverty Washington Post.

Rising food prices pushed tens of millions of people into extreme poverty last year and are reaching "dangerous levels" in some countries, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Tuesday as he released new data showing that the cost of grain and other staples is near a historic high.

Please ignore the embedded video there which tells poor Americans not to panic, it is not their end of the boat that is sinking.


Of course not everyone agrees. Hell, we are talking economics here.

Paul Krugman: Signatures of Speculation NYT.

Many people on the “speculators did it” side like to point to financial data, especially large purchases of futures by various players. But food is a physical commodity, and plays in the financial markets can only move the price to the extent that they affect physical flows and stocks.

Normally I have a good deal of faith in Kruggers, but...

The UN Food and Agriculture Office reports say (partially paraphrased by a blogger quoted here):

In its 2009 Trade and Development Report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) contends that the massive inflow of fund money has caused commodity futures markets to fail the “efficient market” hypothesis, as the purchase and sale of commodity futures by swap dealers and index funds is entirely unrelated to market supply and demand fundamentals, but depends rather on the funds’ ability to attract subscribers….

The Groups recognize that unexpected price hikes and volatility are amongst major threats to food security and that their root causes need to be addressed, in particular:

a) The lack of reliable and up-to-date information on crop supply and demand and export availability;
b) Insufficient market transparency at all levels including in relation to futures markets;
c) Growing linkage with outside markets, in particular the impact of “financialization” on futures markets;

d) Unexpected changes triggered by national food security situations;
e) Panic buying and hoarding.
[My emphasis]

So... Which dictator is for dinner tonight?


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thailand Politics

Don't worry E@L is not going to get his *own* hands dirty on this vexed question. He will leave the de-vexing and hands-dirtying to others much more qualified.

But as many, if not both, readers here will be aware, E@L goes to Thailand a lot - up to ten times a year for work and a few extra trips for holidays on Phuket or Koh Samui. Of course E@L loves Thailand, not only for the white sandy beaches, the crystal-water snorkeling, the sublime cuisine and the extensive and pervasive sex industry, but also for the caddies golf.

He follows the politics more emotionally than intellectually, and he understands more with a gut feeling than any well-informed reasoning. Yes, that's right, he reads The Nation when in Bangkok.

But sometimes, the politics follows you.

E@L was particularly distraught when all that political stuff, that coloured shirt stuff, was going on early last year. Bombs, fires, snipers, lots of "extra-judicial" killings, and the apparent targeting of journalists and health workers. Work and holidays had to be put on hold.

E@L was at the same hotel in Pattaya, for a conference, the weekend before the Yellow Red Shirts invaded it and stopped an ASEAN meeting, in April 2009.

He was working at the Chulalongkorn Hospital for a month late last year, once things had quietened. This is where it is alleged by Red Shirts that army personnel were firing rockets at civilians on the Silom Station, and by the army that the a) the rockets came from Lumphini Park across the way, and that b) the resulting storming of the hospital by the Red Shirts stimulated a hasty evacuation that cost the lives of three patients (one died of obesity!). (Source on this is the link at the end of this post.)

And he will be at Thammasat University next week. This is the site of the 1976 uprising and the massacre of - officially - 46 students, unofficially 100 or more, that led to a military coup. Students were lynched, brutally raped: Apparently it was a shocking, horrific incident and of course, being Thailand, no-one has yet been prosecuted for any of the "alleged" atrocities. It is not a topic I will bring up with the Doctors there next week.

But surely, in light of the power of modern information technology and media-sharing sites that we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt, it will be very surprising if the truth of what happened in last year's troubles is not properly brought to light...



Andrew McGregor Marshall, yes he's a Scot, lives just around the corner from E@L-GHQ. He is a good friend of Izzy, which is how E@L knows him. And something to do with cutlery. E@L has only been to his place once, for a BBQ (no cutlery augmentation required this time), and as he climbed the stairs to the party on the rooftop, he couldn't help but be awe-struck by his massive library on current affairs and modern history. Books everywhere! His collection makes E@L's paltry dabbling in contemporary classic ( or soon to be classic) novels and various atheistic tirades seem indeed shallow, infantile and, frankly, paltry.

But of course he has books: He is a serious journalist with awesome credentials. He was deputy bureau chief for Reuters in Thailand in 2000, where he made some well-connected enemies, such as then-Prime Minister Shinawatra. Just before the invasion of Iraq he was whisked off to Baghdad as the Reuters' bureau chief there. He is one of those guy who asks tough questions, or so it appears to E@L, who has not really spoken much with Andrew, but reads his blog posts* always with interest.

And thanks to his being an FBF**, E@L was reminded to read Andrew's most recent blog post tonight on the schemozzle that constitutes the official and unofficial version of recent events in Bangkok. E@L has spent the last hour or so completely immersed...

Andrew's article is the best E@L could hope to find to get him to understand the Thai troubles, and one of the best you'll find anywhere, he'd wager.

Reclaiming the Truth in Thailand

But what is the cost to Thailand of failing to confront the truth? If those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then the perpetual political Groundhog Day that Thailand appears trapped in becomes easier to understand. To quote Streckfuss again:

The cycle in Thailand has become so familiar it seems normal: a coup is staged, the constitution is abolished, coup makers grant themselves an amnesty, a new constitution is drafted, new elections are held, the newly-elected government is perceived as increasingly corrupt, a crisis ensues; the next coup is staged, and so on. [David Streckfuss, Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason and Lèse Majesté]

Investigation and acknowledgment of the truth is essential if Thailand is to break out of the cycle and move forward. Hopes for genuine reconciliation can never be realised when there is no accounting of past confrontation and trauma. The conflict is never resolved, just ignored, until it flares again.

If Thailand wants to start taking the truth seriously, the events of April and May 2010 would be a good place to start.

(And for some context... Thaksin and Me)

What is truth? Some people are not prepared to wash their hands just yet.


* Me bad. Now on my blogroll!

** Facebook Friend

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Woman Who Screwed The World Not Once But Twice

Blythe Masters, the woman who invented Credit Default Swaps and caused the financial implosion of the world* is also the person whose frenetic commodities trading with JP motherfucking Morgan has resulted in the global rise in food prices and the current political implosion of the world (or more correctly parts of North Africa) not to mention the ingestion of plastic rice from China...

... according to my other hero, the not-quite-as-histrionic-today**, Max Keiser:


Late Addendum: Blithely attempting to screw the world over again, Masters was the pusher behind attempt to create carbon derivatives for the now deceased US Cap and Trade scheme. According to hedge fund manager Michael Masters (no relation), from un-cited source on this blog

"...banks will attempt to inflate the carbon market by recruiting investors from hedge funds and pension funds.

“Wall Street is going to sell it as an investment product to people that have nothing to do with carbon,” he says. “Then suddenly investment managers are dominating the asset class, and nothing is related to actual supply and demand. We have seen this movie before.” {My emphasis}

Which is, allegedly, what is happening with other commodities (i.e. food) right now.


* "I for one feel that I have learnt from that experience and there are things I may like to have seen done differently." Blythe Masters.

** "Right, but the whole commodity complex is moving higher because of this incredible influx of money that is being directed by the bankers, for the bankers, at the exclusion of the global population. They're willing to commit mass genocide of the global population by increasing food prices to the extent of causing mass starvation just to keep that multi-hundred-billion dollar bonus pool active on Wall Street. That's the only reason this is happening. Those people are culpable in a mass homicide, a mass genocide." (8:20-8:38)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

E@L Movie Of The Year (so far, it is only Feb)

I love Natalie Portman, she's so lovely, so good.

I love Natalie Portman, she's ... perfect ...


Train Ride

A man has been on a train for a long time. He had jumped onto the train on a whim, in order to pursue a beautiful woman he glimpsed at a station hundreds of miles ago. She was someone he recognized as having met, for a only a minute, four years earlier. She is in the ladies' carriage however and he cannot approach her yet. Obviously this is frustrating. In the compartment with him sits a man minding his own business, reading...

And the train rolled on.

How could that dumb idiot sit there in his seat hour after hour and just read? I could have read through a crummy little book like that three times in the time he took, and he was utterly shameless, puffed up with his own importance, podgy with learning. Finally his stupidity became utterly intolerable. I leaned forward, looked at him and said:

'I beg your pardon?'

He raised his eyes and and gazed at me in astonishment.

'I'm sorry?' he said.

'I beg your pardon?'

He didn't understand it at all.

'What do you want?' he asked angrily.

"What do I want? What do you want?'

'Me? I don't want anything.'

'No, neither do I.'

'I see. Then why are you speaking to me?'

'Me? Was I speaking to you?'

'I see,' he said, and turned away in anger.

After that we fell silent again.

And the hours pass, until finally the whistle blows for Kalmar.

Knut Hamsun The Queen of Sheba, circa 1895. from Tales Of Love and Loss, trs 1997.

Just a little surreal incident of pointless aggression, right? Nothing special these days - Irvine Welsh maybe, Will Self? A scene from Taxi Driver? But hang on, this was nearly 100 years before those guys. No-one had been writing like this, these snippets of irrelevant insanity (doesn't advance the plot, but woah, deepens your knowledge of the protagonist) except maybe Huysmans or the Dostoevsky of Notes From Underground, until the post-modernists and the surrealists in the 1920s and 30s. This is a completely anachronistic scene, could have been written last week.

Anyway, I was impressed.

Play again the surrealist Root song I put up last week - lyrics: "What are you looking at me for?"


Sunday, February 06, 2011

One Of Those Nights

*WARNING* artificial penis and copious vomit scenes ahead... You have been warned...


Friday, February 04, 2011

Good Advice

A typographer talks intelligently about font design (duh!) and music and the space between letters and how bad government forms are (please someone put him in charge of designing immigration and customs forms! The Australian one is the best in the world btw) and ends up with the following nicely put and impassioned advice (at 12:32):

You can't become a good designer [or anything] by staying at home and looking at one book. You've got to be out; a) talk to other people; travel, because there's nothing better than realizing that 200kms from your door things are different. Because you live in wherever you live, whether it's Berlin or New York or the middle of nowhere or the suburbs of Beijing, things are different if you move out and that's the first thing when you're 21, oh my god, you know, it doesn't have to blue, it doesn't have to be square, it can be different.

Read as much as you can, listen to as much as you can, travel as much as you can, meet as many people as you can. Just gather all the shit for years and years and when you think your head is almost full, then you start over 'cause your head is very, very empty.


Thanks to an FB post(!!) from Izzy


BFs on FB v BS on Blogger

I'm getting sick of Facebook. Your posts are so ephemeral and your messages transitory, so easily lost or passed by as your wall slides down and down with all those new Brain Farts of your half dozen friends and those of your 500+ acquaintances (FriendsTM) whom you can't figure out how to block.

Hence I'm blogging a bit more. Farting my brain in the blog's general direction instead of towards those empty-headed animals, those food trough wipers on FB (no offense intended - it's a Python line).

Sure the pleasure and strengths of FB are multitudinous - you can organize big parties, you can... organize small parties, you can steal brilliant links from other people and hide their link so people consider you amazingly eclectic and impressively intellectual in your browsing habits. It always helps to have Professors or people with a PhD or three as FriendsTM (or even as friends, so long as they post interesting stuff you can steal on FB) for this purpose.

You can catch up with the people from primary school and high school that you thought stank or had runny noses or were gay or - now you realize - either dyslexic or autistic and not stupid or incredibly shy, or you can annoy those people whom you thought liked you but didn't really, they were just being polite.

Most importantly, should someone you know or have met or who knows someone you have met or who has met someone you know, should they (all or one) manage to pass a hat's worth of attention over your latest BF on FB, they can provide instant feedback.

Yep, comments and, most importantly, the 'like' button are key.

We all want to be liked. Being liked is nice. It's warm, it's fuzzy, it's an affirmation of the worth of your person. It provides meaning to the current existential hollow of despair and anomie that your fleeting appearance in this vast, indifferent and unimaginably old universe might have triggered in those few brain cells that you can manage on your own.

And some of your friends and even your FriendsTM can be bloody smart and funny (the PhD ones mostly). You can banter back and forth, which is also a great way to fill in those empty office hours between clocking in and clocking out. Of course you could SMS your banter instead (we are talking CLOSE friends here, those, other than 250 hookers from 4FoW or Bangkok or HCMC, who have your number), but that is more expensive and even though your buddy who works in the SMS industry would be smiling, your boss who pays the phone bill every month might not.

If it was a pain to generate a comment (please type the letters as you see them) or if the 'like' button didn't exist, would FB continue to thrive?

Or maybe it's all just superficial and arbitrary. Or maybe it's because a lot of friends miss my best stuff because they are out partying instead of being at home working on their novel blog posts because they don't have a) bronchitis, b) a twisted ankle from tripping over on an icy street while jack-assing around after the pub shut skiing, c) food poisoning from that horrendous flight in Delta business class (I had 4 seats in economy going over, that was MUCH better) d) conjunctivitis again still, etc...

So I'll probably be doubling up a bit on both FB and Blogger for a while, till I see which is the more satisfying (read affirming - where is the 'like' button on Blogger? Wordpress has one.) Yes, yes, I know I could link my Blog posts as Notes on FB, but that didn't work the last few times I tried it, plus I don't want to link them that closely anymore for ludicrously past-dated privacy concerns, as some people from work have slipped into my FriendsTM list.

So expect more activity here and expect more comments and presence, on my part, on YOUR blogs, which my dearest FriendsTM, I have been sadly neglecting...


OK, Chinese New Year resolution out of the way, now let's get back to surfing for weird porn.


That Seems Logical...



Root : My Other Bumper Sticker Is Intellingent (sic)

Transcript of the text at the end of the video:

My other ATm is never out of order

My other shopping trolley has four straight wheels

My other surf beach doesn't have an undertow

My other queue never gets larger as soon as I join it

My other everything happens for a reason

My other religion doesn't kill

My other inanimate object is never called sexy

My other wage covers my cost of living

My other journalist isn't coincidentally hot-looking

My other pharmaceutical company would market a cure for cancer even if it meant a loss of profit

My other culture of continuous improvement brings with it a culture of continuous payrise

My other car manufacturers develop an automated in-car system that activates the moment the driver exhibits road-rage tendencies and administers a massive and instantaneous laxative

My other celebrity-fixated world treats movie writers, not actors, as deity

My other me doesn't want to find the so obviously male "ideas person" responsible for the insurance ad where the girl eyelash-flutteringly manipulates her boyfriend into popping the big question purely because she lusts Gollum-like after an expensive engagement ring, and stab their eyes out Oedipus-like with a ball point pen

My other self-actualisation authors, consultants, seminar presenters and "ideas people" are hooked up to a 12 volt car battery and given a short, relatively harmless but nonetheless nasty shock to the genital region every time they make a cent of profit

My other world is not full of people creating entire careers based around the description, annotation, charting, organization, graphical representation, implementation-framework constructions, Gannt (sic) chart work flow delegation functionality pathway facilitation of work, but not doing the actual work itself, whilst, as result of their actions, simply adding tasks to the people who are supposed to be doing the actual work, without giving them any extra time in their day to do it, but attaching a heavily-implied performance assessment importance to these tasks, thereby causing them to become more stressed, squeeze the actual work-time down to a minimum, and do a worse job, which in turn will bring more distracting and irrelevant performance measurement tasks down on them , thus initiating a vicious cycle of pointlessness which could make them all first up against the wall when the revolution comes…

that is, if the revolution didn't bring in a consultant.

Here for the lyrics.





monkey3, originally uploaded by E@L.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fashion Victim

The last few days E@L has been seen moving slowly down the powdery and spooky quiet slopes of Shiga-Kogan's perfect fields, afraid to push himself out of his comfort zone (and a big zone it is to be sure) and too diplomatic to show off in front of guys not so experienced in this facet of the over-burdened (with money) expatriate lifestyle.

In other words, those three sessions at the gym and that week without solid carbohydrates were insufficient pre-season training after all. Who woulda thunk? Keeping up with the beginners was tough enough, powering down the black slopes, forget about it.


We hiked along the snow trails deep into the forest where no sensible person had ever been without a flask of sake in his pocket, until our arrival at a Tolkien-like scene of an ancient, many gabled wooden fortress that clutched to the rocks in a river-cut canyon, thick snow perched like merino hats on each of the roofs. The river cascaded and bounced across the rocks, and round a bend, a host of small gray monkeys bounced and scrambled through the snow..

Yes the famous snow monkeys. We were so fortunate, as it was snowing while we were there. Indeed they did have ice on their heads and on their fur as they sat in the recently redesigned pool natural hot springs. And completely ignored us. Got some great photos, will post a few on here or Flickr or on Facebook or I'll Tweet them or I'll send you a postcard


The Mama-san at our hotel in the village was a former snow-bunny of Olympic qualities (impressive poster on the wall behind where she stands in her kimono at my table in the lounge), but she lost her charming smile for just a second when E@L happened to ask if they were busy. As it was a weekend in the height of an amazing season the silence in the near-empty place was eerie. How could she be making money, E@L thought.

"Skiing was once very popular in Japan, but now not so much. It was very fashion. But fashion change des ka?"

There's a lesson for all of Japan I guess.


nts. never write a blog post on the phone again.

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