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THE NATION’S CARBON SCHIZOPHRENIA

13 Jul

On the weekends I attend the library which was made difficult a few weeks ago on account of the protest in favour of a tax! This, in an English-speaking country! The Anglosphere is traditionally resistant to taxation. Obviously a good deal many of us still are, but still hundreds of thousands of people actively support this. Figures. Right now the governing party is backing the ‘yes’ campaign (funny that) and it’s a much better organized effort than those for opposition. Still, this conflict is marked by an hysterical antipathy one side for the other. The country is mentally ill. Isn’t it obvious:

Carbontaxyes

Carbontaxno

The people at the ‘yes’ protest were (for me) likable. Lots of friendly dogs. The band was cool, finally someone’s got a clue: speeches are dull. Still, there were speeches. There always are. I caught speech-bytes between talking to people who handed me stuff: a pamphlet encouraging me to unite to end mandatory detention for refugees, a glossy booklet covered in oranges: easy vegan recipes. Another says Veganism is the solution: the organic way from crisis to peace.

The speech-bytes kept referring to bad polluters. Polluters. Those polluters, aren’t they bloody awful? Reminded me of lunch at the Hare Krishna restaurant, there was an(other glossy) ad on the table promoting a talk at the Krishna centre: Global Warming: Who’s To Blame. I remember looking up at the lights, hearing the citar drone over the surround sound speaker set, the fan turning. People buying their meals with money given in trade for labour that requires ubiquitous information technology. Stripe-shirt/club tie guys eating spoonfuls of spinach-garnished lemon and garlic chickpeas while checking Facebook, checking email, checking text messages, sending sales reports, uploading software updates, checking movies and absently scanning the net for beautiful shining things they want to buy.

Who’s to blame? The stripe shirt guys? The producers of the carbon based energy that drives their industries? Are the Hare Krishnas innocent because their food is organic? Are those billions who cannot be fed in such a way guilty? Do you solve this problem by demonizing an industry or a type of person? How do you solve this?

I must confess I laughed when I saw this. The ad is very simple of course. That is its virtue, simplicity. Something that could’ve been set up on a soundstage and shot in less than a day. And the scenario illustrated is absurdly simplistic. There are a lot of problems with it. Shifting to sustainable energy consumption is really is not such a simple matter. Truly. And, as in America, actors have entered the realm of political discourse. Is that a good thing?

To clarify: my position on AGW is now and has always been that it is happening, hence cause for serious concern. I believe we will be forced to deal with the consequences of global scale human economic activity this century. I also believe that introducing a huge political apparatus is both useless and one more nail in the coffin of liberty. My children will be raised to bear this in mind. Sincerely hope this disclaimer is to everyone’s dissatisfaction.

The political ‘solutions’ to the AGW problem are, in my irrelevant opinion, thus far, ridiculous at best and at worst a cover for some battle of interests or other. My experience of the ALP disinclines me to believe that they’ve all suddenly come over with the love of the planet. I’m skeptical of any proposition that the Gillard government’s war with the mining industry is entirely an ecological matter. On that I shan’t elaborate. No substance, just a hunch.

Who’s responsible for cooking the planet? Everybody. O’ course if you’re an Australian citizen you’re likely to be about 2000% more responsible than the average African. But they would if they could and they want to… so bad. So do the Chinese, and they’re gonna do it. Indians too. Brazil, Russia. These places are getting richer. You can’t stop that. And why should they remain in the throes of pre-modern squalor? The lack of in-depth consideration of these matters on behalf of those who believe it imperative to act immediately is appalling.

Equally appalling, tho’ much more effective in the mainstream media, is the assault on the very science of AGW. In this the scientists and the advocates on the opposition have been most useful idiots. There is something sinister of course about the unknown parties who hacked into the Climatic Research Unit’s data in order to sabotage the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Amongst the denials of the denialists is the vehement refusal to see that powerful interests are waging a propaganda war against policies that mitigate carbon pollution. There’s something totalitarian about the tactics.

But, no matter the bad manners, the CRU’s data reveals a bunch of scientists who violate the very principles of science in order to advance a political cause and a personal interest. This is venal. The human race needs science now and yet it displays an absence of its central discipline which is to remind yourself of your ignorance: how do I know that? But in the realm of politics the facts are irrelevant, or putty to be shaped and trimmed. The CRU acts thus and in response the anti-AGW crew declare the rest of the (solid) data in support of the AGW hypothesis immaterial. It’s not happening. The issue is over, they say.

Meantime the weather patterns change and no-one notices. No-one notices the sky anymore. Do you know what phase the moon’s in right now? Doesn’t anyone think it’s funny to hear mosquitos buzzing around your ears in late May?

Oh never mind, leave that for now.

The discourse of the ‘yes’ campaign, the ad appearing above, link ‘social justice issues’ with sustainability. This despite the the argument that making power more expensive and switching to organic food production etc are the indulgences of the wealthier classes and will hurt the poor. This is only the first contradiction in a miasma of bitter choices coming up over the horizon at us. What about the people of Bangladesh? Millions of poor and uneducated people who live in a land that is already subject to flooding from the mountain monsoonal waters. If the sea rises they will be swallowed up. A levy will only assist disaster. What about the millions who live in the tropics? Millions? Billions perchance? There are places that could become uninhabitable.

Adam Smith posited a scenario that asks what would you do if faced with the following choice: cut off your hand or a thousand people die? I think his figure was actually higher. But let’s make it a thousand, or maybe a million. One? The choice is, objectively speaking, obvious. Your hand is clearly worth less than even one life surely. But… would you do it? If a thousand strangers were wiped out by earthquake would you be more upset than if you lost your hand in a traffic accident? What about a scenario in which millions must die if you are to avoid medieval impoverishment?

I’m not saying that will happen, but what if?

Modern civilization requires energy. This is obvious. As a personal choice I support the slow food, back to the Earth, permaculture vibe. I’m totally down with it and want to be more so. I want to live in a Earthship house and collect fresh eggs in the morning from chickens that wander free fertilizing the garden. But that’s what I want. Other do not. And I won’t force anyone to live a certain way. It’s been attempted on me. Forget it! And also, again the inconvenient fact: 6 billion people plus can’t live on food grown in this fashion. It’s impossible. I can, because I’m privileged.

Modern civilization requires energy and our current methods of harvestation are unsustainable. Sustainability’s a word much maligned, it makes some people retch. But it’s important. To sustain civilization is to make it last. This basic idea, surely, is worthy to the vast majority of us. Still we argue about what to do and whether it’s necessary to ‘do’ anything. And the volume’s up so high we can hear none but our own voices. I think it is important to ‘do something’, sure.I also think the public policy solutions thus far are myopic, useless, a front for a rort. Many things but ‘effective’ ain’t one of ’em.

Modern civilization requires energy. We can’t go back. The peasant’s life would kill most modern urban dwellers. Ask anyone who was in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Anyone who survived that is. How do we acquire sustainable energy sources? Obviously the Sun’s ideal but there are problems. For example, the production of the world’s best photovoltaic cells would not be lawful in this country. Why? The toxic by-products of the process are prohibited by our environmental laws. Just one problem, not even the main one.

There are others. But at the heart of the ‘solution’ problem is science and innovation. Technological innovation is not something that happens well in a governmental department. Scientific breakthroughs never happen because of political decree. The capitalist behemoth might be partially or entirely repulsive to some reading this but, it works. For producing innovative new technology there’s not been anything remotely close. So is the solution to be accomplished by regulation and taxation? By the State taking control of a process it’s ill-equipped to manage or even facilitate. Should we leave ecological sustainability to politicians? Are lawyers the ones who will save us?

I support a carbon tax policy but not the one that is going before the House shortly. That carbon tax is simply an introduction for a cap and trade system (which seems to me a rort designed to keep developing nations from developing), it is (yet again) over-complicated and targeted squarely at the resource and energy concerns. (Those bad polluters). I don’t think that’s smart. They are actually powerful you know. Do this and you get a war; war is destruction.

The solution is technological and scientific. The solution is ethical, the choices you make everyday, the way you act. The solution is savage: ‘there’s gonna be sorrow try and wake up tomorrow’. The solution is in the minds of brilliant entrepreneurs and engineers we haven’t heard of yet. The solution is stop blaming ‘them’ and realize there’s no Justice there’s just us. The solution is… as simple as that. And infinitely more complicated.

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THE SCHIZOPHRENIC HEART OF PIG NATION

7 Jun

My position on AGW is now and has always been that it is happening, hence cause for serious concern. I believe we will be forced to deal with the consequences of global scale human economic activity this century. I also believe that introducing a huge political apparatus is both useless and one more nail in the coffin of liberty. My children will be raised to bear this in mind. Sincerely hope this disclaimer is to everyone’s dissatisfaction.

The country is mentally ill. Isn’t it obvious:

Carbontaxyes

Carbontaxno

On the weekends I attend the library which was made difficult this last on account of the protest in favour of a tax! This, in an English-speaking country. The Anglosphere is traditionally resistant to taxation. Obviously a good deal many of us still are, but still hundreds of thousands of people actively support this. Figures. Right now the governing party is backing the ‘yes’ campaign (funny that) and it’s a much better organized effort than those for opposition.

I must confess I laughed when I saw this. The ad is very simple of course. That is its virtue, simplicity. Something that could’ve been set up on a soundstage and shot in less than a day. And the scenario illustrated is absurdly simplistic. There are a lot of problems with it. It really is not such a simple matter. Truly. And, as in America, actors have entered the realm of political discourse. Is that a good thing?

The political ‘solutions’ thus far on offer are, in my irrelevant opinion, at best ridiculous and at worst a cover for some battle of interests or other. My experience of the ALP disinclines me to believe that they’ve all suddenly come over with the love of the planet. I’m skeptical of any proposition that the Gillard government’s war with the mining industry is entirely an ecological matter. On that I shan’t elaborate. No substance, just a hunch.

I liked the people at the ‘yes’ protest. Lots of friendly dogs. The band was cool, finally someone’s got a clue: speeches are dull. Still, there were speeches. There always are. I caught speech-bytes between talking to people who handed me stuff: a pamphlet encouraging me to unite to end mandatory detention for refugees, a glossy booklet covered in oranges: easy vegan recipes. Another says Veganism is the solution: the organic way from crisis to peace.

The speech-bytes kept referring to bad polluters. Polluters. Those polluters, aren’t they bloody awful? Reminded me of lunch at the Hare Krishna restaurant, there was an(other glossy) ad on the table promoting a talk at the Krishna centre: Global Warming: Who’s To Blame. I remember looking up at the lights, hearing the citar drone over the surround sound speaker set, the fan turning. People buying their meals with money given in trade for labour that requires ubiquitous information technology. Stripe-shirt/club tie guys eat spoonfuls of spinach-garnished lemon and garlic chickpeas while checking Facebook, checking email, check text messages, send the report, upload software updates, check movies and absently scan the net for beautiful shining things you want to buy.

Everybody is soooo full of shit.

Who’s responsible for cooking the planet? Everybody. O’ course if you’re an Australian citizen you’re likely to be about 2000% more responsible than the average African. But they would if they could and they want to… so bad. So do the Chinese, and they’re gonna do it. Indians too. Brazil, Russia. These places are getting richer. You can’t stop that. And why should they remain in the throes of pre-modern squalor? The lack of in-depth consideration of these matters on behalf of those who believe it imperative to act immediately appalling.

Equally appalling, tho’ much more effective in the mainstream media, is the assault on the very science of AGW. In this the scientists and the advocates on the opposition have been most useful idiots. There is something sinister of course about the unknown parties who hacked into the Climatic Research Unit’s data in order to sabotage the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Amongst the denials of the denialists is the vehement refusal to see that powerful interests are waging a propaganda war against policies that mitigate carbon pollution. There’s something totalitarian about the tactics.

But, no matter the bad manners, the CRU’s data reveals a bunch of scientists who violate the very principles of science in order to advance a political cause and a personal interest. This is venal. The human race needs science now and yet it displays an absence of its central discipline which is to remind yourself of your ignorance: how do I know that? But in the realm of politics the facts are irrelevant, or putty to be shaped and trimmed. The CRU acts thus and in response the anti-AGW crew declare the rest of the (solid) data in support of the AGW hypothesis immaterial. It’s not happening. The issue is over.

Meantime the weather patterns change and no-one notices. No-one notices the sky anymore. Do you know what phase the moon’s in right now? Doesn’t anyone think it’s funny to hear mosquitos buzzing around your ears in late May!

…..

The discourse of the ‘yes’ campaign, the ad appearing above, link ‘social justice issues’ with sustainability. This despite the argument that making power more expensive and switching to organic food production etc are the indulgences of the wealthier classes and will hurt the poor. This is only the first contradiction in a miasma of bitter choices coming up over the horizon at us. What about the people of Bangladesh? Millions of poor and uneducated people who live in a land that is already subject to flooding from the mountain monsoonal waters. If the sea rises they will be swallowed up. What about the millions who live in the tropics? Millions? Billions perchance? There are places that could become uninhabitable.

Adam Smith posited a scenario that asks what would you do if faced with the following choice: cut off your hand or a thousand people die? I think his figure was actually higher. But let’s make it a thousand, or maybe a million. One? The choice is, objectively speaking, obvious. Your hand is clearly worth less than even one life surely. But… would you do it? If a thousand strangers were wiped out by earthquake would you be more upset than if you lost your hand in a traffic accident? What about a scenario in which millions must die if you are to avoid medieval impoverishment?

I’m not saying that will happen, but what if?

Modern civilization requires energy. This is obvious. As a personal choice I support the slow food, back to the Earth, permaculture vibe. I’m totally down with it and want to be more so. I want to live in a Earthship house and collect fresh eggs in the morning from chickens that wander free fertilizing the garden. That’s what I want. Other do not. And won’t force anyone to live a certain way. It’s been attempted on me, forget it. And also, inconvenient fact: 6 billion people plus can’t live on food grown in this fashion. It’s impossible. I can, because I’m privileged.

Modern civilization requires energy and our current methods of harvestation are unsustainable. Sustainability’s a word much maligned, it makes some people retch. But it’s important. To sustain civilization is to make it last. This basic idea, surely, is worthy to the vast majority of us. Still we argue about what to do and whether it’s necessary to ‘do’ anything. And the volume’s up so high we can hear none but our own voices. I think it is important to ‘do something’, sure.I also think the public policy solutions thus far are myopic, useless, a front for a rort. Many things but ‘effective’ ain’t one of ’em.

Modern civilization requires energy. We can’t go back. The peasant’s life would kill most modern urban dwellers. Ask anyone who was in the Cultural Revolution. How do we acquire sustainable energy sources? Obviously the Sun’s ideal but there are problems. For example, the production of the world’s best photovoltaic cells would not be lawful in this country. Why? The toxic by-products of the process are prohibited by our environmental laws. Just one problem, not even the main one.

There are others. But at the heart of the ‘solution’ problem is science and innovation. Technological innovation is not something that happens well in a governmental department. Scientific breakthroughs never happen because of political decree. The capitalist behemoth might be partially or entirely repulsive to some reading this but, it works. For producing innovative new technology there’s not been anything remotely close. So is the solution to be accomplished by regulation and taxation? By the State taking control of a process it’s ill-equipped to manage or even facilitate. Should we leave ecological sustainability to politicians? Are lawyers the ones who will save us?

I support a carbon tax policy but not the one that is going before the House shortly. That carbon tax is simply an introduction for a cap and trade system (which seems to me a rort designed to keep developing nations from developing), it is (yet again) over-complicated and targeted squarely at the resource and energy concerns. (Those bad polluters). I don’t think that’s smart. They are actually powerful you know. Do this and you get a war; war is destruction.

That just about brings to the end this wet day’s spray of wild generalizations. I’m just a monkey on a rock trying to fish a few beans of truth from a mountain of bullshit.

I don’t know. Still I have a few convictions. I think we’re gonna get it. I think we should take a chill pill and ‘start disagreeing without being violently disagreeable’. I think we should re-acquire scientific discipline: what do you know and how do you know that? I think we should face all of the problems, consider them thoroughly, and refrain from expressing strong views on matters we haven’t considered. And I think we should maybe stop once in a while, turn off our gadgets and clear our minds (can we?).

The solution is technological and scientific. The solution is ethical, the choices you make everyday, the way you act. The solution is savage: ‘there’s gonna be sorrow try and wake up tomorrow’. The solution is in the minds of brilliant entrepreneurs and engineers we haven’t heard of yet. The solution is stop blaming ‘them’ and realize there’s no Justice there’s just us. The solution is… as simple as that. And infinitely more complicated.

No matter. It’s mostly not under your control. Here’s what is: inhale, breath deep, look up at the sky. In a city it’s the only real nature you ever see.

SEXnDRUGSnROCKnROLL (WOT MY BODY NEEDS?)

3 Jun

I’m listening to something, calls itself: Bomrani. Is that a man’s name? A man’s voice piped thru the wire into the cushioned speakers against my ears, making the air vibrate thru holes in my head, straight to my brain. The sound of someone I’ve never met on the other side of globe sometime in the past.

The words are in Farsi, I don’t know what they mean. But the melody and the mood give the meaning away. It’s the soundtrack of the march thru this life. To be born, to grow, to flower, to fall apart and fold back into the stream of matter that makes up the cosmos. My people are famous for them and our music shares an ancestor with this Persian minstrel.

Another song, in English, not the singer’s first language. But it’s one of those sugar-flavoured pop songs that go all the way back to Detroit in the days when my parents were courting. A tune that has the house go a quiet, dark mass of human silhouettes. A scattered costellation of handheld flames. In Pittsburgh and Miami, in Sydney and Perth, In Seoul and Shanghai, Prague, Dublin, Rome and Bucharest. Buenos Aires, Sao Pualo, Mexico City. Alice Springs. The world over shares a ritual. From here back thru the historical bracken to Africa. All of us.

I was in a room last night listening to a sage, his German face reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Grey; Lord Henry’s observation that intelligence distorts beauty. That all beautiful people therefore must be dim. But no, this is refuted by the story. Its moral contribution is to give those with understanding the key to Beauty’s true nature. Our sensai’s ugliness belied true beauty of this kind. His tie was piquant, his manners sublime. His thought and metaphors always as deft as a cellist who plays Beethoven’s music in perfect temperance: technique and expression. Just so.

I knew well (mostly) his philosophy. Tho’ what he’d call it and its extent I know not. He referred both to Jesus and Bhudda, drew upon them. But also said that to join the official creeds of religious instition is to be a slave and to miss the point. He mentions Apollonius, sundry pre-Soctratic philosopers. But he’s not dazzling us with his classical scholarship esoterica. He’s saying something that can be used by the people of the street. His central maxim’s a balance: love and reason.

Aurelius wouldn’t’ve put that way. Epictitus had it too hard to be so Beatle-esque. But it sounds familiar to me. Naturally those gentlemen were more concerned with secular matters than metaphysical ones. Still they’d agree. The self is an illusion; a car driven by the Soul: the Light within. As the address was introductory, he did not elaborate, but perchance later will he proceed to the view that ‘my soul’ is simply that within that is part of the spiritual whole the way the body’s atoms will one day become something else, something that is not a human animal but perhaps a tree, a blade of glass or a musical instrument? That we are all… God?

It is simple to understand that desire brings misery and enlightenment obtains when one can forget the self, the mundane seeking after pleasure: food, sex, substances that bring about temporary joys. In response to a remark about LSD, the speaker nails it, first because there here was no prohibitionary judgement in his response. He did not express or, indeed, feel disapproval. It’s a short-cut, he says, a preview. I paraphrase. It is a tour of the realms beyond to a place where minds are free. But you must come back. To live there, the journey is long and arduous. The drug will take you to a place where you can see the City of Light but to walk its streets takes work. It cannot be purchased for $25.

Outside, afterwards, my little crew are (mostly) impressed. One of the party is Catholic and’s not really into it. Religion see. It puts fences about you and guides you down this path. It stops you getting lost, certainly. But if you want to get past the Devil and his chains well you gotta climb over the fence that St Paul built.

So sayeth me. And what do I know? We usually go to this one place Thursday nights (my one night out). And here down the street after agreeing with the Man’s jive viz: enlightement comes from leaving behind instant euphoria Priority #1 is to score weed. Not me, I’m piking out, early night. But sure I like the stuff, gets me in the mode, comes in real handy. But it’s not necessary. Caffeine, adrenaline, sugar, THC, LSD, fluxetine, nicotine, phenethylamine. Faster faster faster more more more. We’re, all of us, on the chemical monorail waiting for Godot.

Still sometimes it is necessary. Today I’m taking a shortcut to the Beyond. Fortune put in the ground infront of me, instinct had me stop to pluck it. I can do this because I know the stuff isn’t for playing with so I haven’t done it to death and I’m not now looking for the meaning of life in a store that sells magic powders and crystal pyramids. It’s sacred! Do not fuck with it for an empty Sunday morning screw with a stranger. But right here, right now – Yes.

The Almighty Whatever points the way. Jupiter enters my sign today. Scoff if you want. I’m not recommending astrology for anything but fun but I’ll slap a tome o’ forgotten lore on the table if you try and purge the uncanny omens from all consideration. The history of the world is punctuated with them, they are among the myriad, melodic hooks that keep the endless symphony of human comedy fresh.

If you’re asking yourself what the fuck I’m on about, the answer is: How the Hell should I know. I don’t actually think about this stuff. I just write it. It’s the only way to the truth. Mine, anyways.

SUCH PEOPLE IN IT

1 Jun

Iran Rave

From: The Guardian, UK.

I sit here in a postmodern annex of a neoclassical building listening to a compilated playlist of the musical underground of a country that is, technically, the enemy of mine. The newspapers in my city tell me these people are all backward savages but they are heirs of once-great multiple market-place a culture of long standing. And they are young raised in the shadows of a theocratic revolution that brought back the rule of old men with beards.

They are so sick of it.

So behind closed doors they are modern people who listen to modern music, write it and play it. The styles are a dialectic blend of commercial pop music (European mostly) and the multifarious musical tradition of the Levant from a viewpoint centred on what we have long-called Persia. It’s quite… commercial.

What a piece of work is a human monkey, how noble in faculty and not quite infinite in reason. How quickly the spoilt, fat, lazy rat it becomes. How base and venal and sometimes gracefully sublime in the face of hardship. What folly in these craven beasts who remember and yet fail time and again to learn.

Today I am in love with my fellow species, what rare fun we are. The sky is blue and I feel like smiling.

But let’s be serious for five minutes. Last week the US President, a man that ‘liberals’ admire, ordered an elite group of his soldiers into the territory of another country. A nation that is technically an ally. Sorta. And without its permissision taken human life and retrieved information thereby. Yet it is the smaller nation that has been publically shamed in the discourse of geopolitical theatre. Well the human life taken was that of a man who has precipitated the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He challenged the world’s hyper-power.

According to the law of the-way-things-are, he had it coming. Interesting finale, stranded in an Islamabad fortress, jaded and regretful. Yet another man who’s realized too late that he’ll never know his children. An isolated false Messiah, catching up on a lifetime’s worth of masturbation.

Never stop making you laugh these monkeys. Rare fun amidst the grim smoking corpses.

As usual, only the radical Left can call it like is: an explicit act that extends and consolidates the American Empire. And it was carried out by a man who stood against this expedition way back when it was most unpopular to do so. He had no choice. The true Machiavels amidst the dreaming neocon crew saw that. They understood that future ‘American interests’ (which Americans?) lay in securing certain territories and resources. They got the States into a war it could not extricate itself from. And somewhere today they are smiling to themselves. At the ranch maybe, sipping a tumbler o’ the Macallan perhaps, awaiting a phone conversation that will change lives. Smug in a truth that is never spoken aloud.

There’s a Punisher graphic novel by Garth Ennis. I won’t summarize but one of characters is a much-feared Russian general who commanded in the Afghanistan theatre. At one point we see him ordering his men to behead a ponytailed journalist on the tarmac of Khabul airport. The dude had written a book that wasn’t appreciated. Anyway, this guy has a bit where he philsophizes about the American Cold war victory. His take on their strategy was that they’d bomb places flat and build McDonalds amongst the rubble. Some over-simplification, but apt. Mostly America rains fire down on people by remote control. Domestic casualties have, since Vietnam, become increasingly unacceptable. Bombing Usama bin Laden’s house was an option available to Obama. He chose a helicopter drop instead. He sent in human individuals, an act that required personal courage (on the part of the soldiers) in a way that remote explosion does not.

This is the first time I’ve approved of Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

I knew he would not withdraw the troops. That to do so would be so detrimental to American interests – increased terrorism, oil price spikes and shortages – it would be electoral suicide. Considering the economic situation the States was in when he took office, considering the solutions he’s chosen, his second term is already far from assured. To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan would create a Jihadist power base. Possibly Pakistan would fall and then we would be dealing with a nuclear-powered enemy that prefers the herafter to this life. Dig it, you boho free spirits o’ the world. When that happens the party is over. These are the facts. I don’t like ’em, but, like, so what?

I knew Obama was basically a highly skilled technocrat. I just hoped he wasn’t as much of a creep as Tony Blair. And no he ain’t. (Hard call that.) But when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize whatever skreck of ‘hope’ I may have harboured was dispensed with. Obama got the prize essentially for not being a Texas good ol’ crony-capitalist cracker. For actually knowing how to be internationally polite. He had done nothing to earn a peace prize (even the Nobel which, after Kissinger, is a joke). But if he hadn’t accepted, if he’d said thanks but no thanks, I don’t deserve it just now. Well then I would’ve been impressed. But he calculated: another paragraph on his WikiBio? Why not? He’s just another player just like the rest of them, go figure.

But, if he had to raid a Pakistani house without permission (and yes he did) then it was noble to send in American individuals to face their public enemy #1, to demonstrate personal, physical courage. He showed that he understood the military message of 9/11. A message that has been receieved with obtuse denial in Western public discourse. Point out that it takes physical courage to go wilfully go your death in furtherance of a cause, that furthermore such courage is in short supply domestically… do that and you get demonized by people who don’t understand why the Romans really fell.

If you’re going to do Empire you might as well get it right.

Ah! enough let us stop making sense. The song’s in Farsi but it’s a classic rock song. Funny when you realize that the rock song’s structure derives from the tradition music of the region. He really likes the Rolling Stones this guy.

Next an indigenous style, I wouldn’t know what it’s called. It’s like hip-hop, chants and beats, but it ain’t hip-hop. It’s derived from antiquity. And sure, there’s hip-hop on the disc, electronica too. And punk rock! The playlist veers East and West. It lurches into the past and back to the future. Some of it is MOR schlock that’d make fills you with the urge to find Celine Dion and vomit on her dress. But some it makes you move man. It’s funky, get you right down in your belly and balls. The lyrics are sometimes Farsi, sometimes English. Cultural imperialism o’ course. But the English songs decry the Military-Industrial complex bullshit in a form that’s straight outta Detroit! All you flag wavers out there, do you get that? All you post-structuralist pseudo-radical demonizers of the Evil socio-economic demographic, do you understand?

Arrghh! Again, forget about it! Be stupid, be a child. Persian metal is really beautiful, a style that really suits the Farsi tongue.

Now it’s Euro-Soul like Sade or Grace Jones. I’m warm again. There’s an empire, there’s a lot of them. And who knows what evil lies in the human heart. But, today, forget about it. The sun is shining and we should be making hay. I wanna party with these guys. Now!

What time is it in Tehran?

IT’S MONDAY MORNING (AND I FEEL FINE)

30 May

I am contemplating my tough life

Before, it was the bitter and dry Victorian set doing the John Bracks shuffle wrapped in navy blue and grey; the inevitable black stylists (me included). The lonely crowd pushing Despair to the side as a matter of the habit of slaves starting another grim week of duty. Duty to the almighty Grand March forward to a world with a dollar sign on everything.

And because of that grand march, dig it, the buildings behind me. The docklands development of Melbourne is part of a global phenomena. Brisbane got its back in the 80s (at last a cultural first). Excellent place to imbibe of lysergic acid dyethlemide #25.

Sydney had theirs built in the halcyon 90s decade. It might still be there, you never know with Sydney. I’ve been there, stayed there. Out on the town there. It reminds me of the lives of battery hens if you let ’em go to the pub in the mall on Friday night.

Barcelona has its as well, haven’t been there.

The conversion of old, environmentally-dangerous, inner-city docking facilities, infamously awash with junkie bars and criminal networks, to new Jetsons-type living where once again the river is the star attraction the architecture serves and not just a place to spew our filth into – is grand. It makes (maybe) that whole crazy dance worth it. Here, in this beautiful and peaceful place where the Monday morning racket is a far away drone, we have a glimpse of the long-promised Brave New World.

People will complain that this is only something the rich can afford. And naturally it is. Will waterside views always be the privilege of those higher up in the chain? Will the chain always be based on money and education? What of it when those things are freely available to entire populations? How will we feed our need for command and obedience and hierarchy then?

No matter, inhale deep and pause…. enjoy the Sun. You won’t see it for a while, doesn’t matter how much money you got.

BETTER LIVING THRU CHEMISTRY

5 Apr

Here we are, the beginning of the third millennium and what have we done? We’ve been places, we’ve eradicated the Pox, the Plague, the Scourge, almost. We have not done away with the Curse, tho’ the tampon ads get slicker every year.

tampexad

I remember some ad from the late 70s. Lots of David Hamilton photography; a beautiful mother with her blossoming teenage’d daughter walking thru the forest in springtime. The reassuring maternal voice-over in the compulsory diction of the private-school educated Sydneysider hard-nosed career bitch: navy suits, pearls, Oil of Ulan. Fundraiser committees associated with the Liberal Party. What euphemism did she use? Heavy days. Heavy days seem a bit of concern. Heavy days may ruin a sun-blessed walk in the bush.

Some time ago, trashy historical novels tell me, working class women referred to their periods matter-of-factly while those women that did no housework kept it strictly discreet. The hard-boiled 19th century with its frenetic sexual morals, it’s cold lit analysis, its silent anxieties. Menstruation? Unmentionable save in medical circles where puritanical men got together and tried to solve this bit of biological madness called Woman. Now it’s the basis for specialization in the spreading apparatus of information processing: symbols, sounds, colour and form pitting you up against impossible dreams, all in aid of moving the merchandise. And still there’s the need to use euphemism about something as basic as a placental mammal’s menstrual cycle and the blood that comes forth from it.

We’ve gone to the moon but still can’t face that? White pants? Well at least the ad doesn’t refer to heavy days. Sometime later there was an ad where a slick young supermodel type uses a maxi-pad to clean blood from the floor before the men in the trenchcoats arrive. Can we see a story that evolves from the days when advertising tampons and pads was a clinical euphemism. Internal protection? That’s a bit saucy? Kids might ask questions. Internal, what’s inside?

If there’s continuity in these ads it’s in the stress on privacy, comfort and non-interference with work. The 50s ad says to the housewife that she can rely on tampons not to have her menstrual cycle interfere with her work; the 90s ad says to the young career bitches that the threatening masculine pack will be held at bay; the current ad says we know this is stupid, we know that we’re being manipulated but hey, at least they’re honest and… cool pack! The thread that runs thru the ads is that this is the solution to a problem: mass manufactured and wrapped in clean fresh plastic.

“Are you sure I’ll still be a virgin?” There was a time not so long ago that that was an actual concern. These days the world agrees with Clint Eastwood, what’s so great about virgins? Well that’s the mainstream position. Coming up the rear, religion returns and girls in certain circles pledge to their father they’ll remain pure until their wedding night. A revival of tradition? Ah.. but these are 21st century girls so of course there’s promise of a material pay-off.

I have my doubts that satisfaction is guaranteed.

Time was when the Moon Cycle was a mystic thing, then it was a symbol of degradation – a basis for disgust. And now it’s a problem that must be solved rationally in a mode consistent with Modern Civilization’s requirements that everything have a smooth pristine clinical and colour-co-ordinated surface. People say, well at least it’s not a big deal anymore. And I say: exactly! It isn’t. Shouldn’t it be? I’m sure there are families for which it is still, bewildering as it might seem, a moment of profound shame and embarrassment.

Are there families out there that celebrate?

ANY JOBBER GOT THE SACK

4 Apr

Sunday afternoon, still early enough in Autumn for the sun to break out late and make a difference. You can tell the season by looking at the lawn, if the sun’s shining and people are on it, it’s not summer.

The skanks hit the streets on Sunday afternoon, hungry. There’s the guy I don’t know what to call him. He’s short, compact, wiry. He has no lips, his mouth is like a faultline under pressure. He’ll sidle up to you, glares from the corners of his mean little eyes; says: ex-ccooose me… d’ya hava spare dollar? Translation: I hate you and want to tear your head off, pay me to go away. I never gave him shit, and I ain’t gonna. I don’t know what his story is but if you want to be free you must stand up to coercion with vigilance. And anyway, who owes him a fix.

Sunday morning I saw Ratwoman, you remember Ratwoman. I’d seen her Saturday morning and said hello. I’ve been meaning to a while now. She asked if I had 50 cents and I said maybe later. I had it, just didn’t know if I could spare it. Even tho’ I drink too much coffee.

So Sunday morning I give her a dollar. And there’s three early morning skanks. They have a bottle, some mixer. They’ve got a new pouch of tobacco. Must’ve scored some moolah. Big moolah to them, a trip to Woolworths and two plastic bags’ worth a goodies: 4 litres coloured sugar water and two types intoxicating substances with addictive qualities. Yeah they scored and big. I hope no-one was seriously hurt.

They have a new pouch still one of ’em asks me for a cigarette anyway. Habit I guess. I just shake my head firmly, no. Been doing it for years, stern, harsh, the stainless steel thick face you wear at street-level. Then they go over to Ratwoman.

I’m checking it out, what are they doing? Are they gonna hit her up for money? She’s a target for all of ’em. But she just leaves. Before, when I gave her the dollar, I saw her hand shaking. Parkinson’s? The cold? Such big blue eyes, wise and kind and forever glazed over. I gave her a dollar, so what? How does someone end up like this? I can guess I’ve seen the smudgy, artless home tats on her arms. Inept pictures of who knows what from early in the Collingwood 70s. The days of the Blue Collar Stampede to the heavy metal thunder and gunga vibe. They dropped acid and saw Ragnarok.

Ah she’s got the mullet and the very contemporary chemical creases from her eyes down the worn-leather flesh of her face, framing the mouth that still somehow resists the entropy that drags it down to the comfortable slackness of permanent bitterness. Goodbye Ratwoman, ’til we see each other again. Don’t ask for change next time. Let’s just talk.

Well I’m alright Jack, tho’ I don’t know it half the time. What a whingy white boy shit I am. But still stiff upper-lip’d, it all happens on the inside. Sunday was good, shit doesn’t get to me anymore. Sunday afternoon I go for a long walk and end up on a bench discussing politics with a young dude. Night has fallen.

Hiroshigemoon

He thinks over-population is The Problem. He advocates a strong state to handle the problem. But then he also sees that the solution to the energy problem is a free market (?). he doesn’t like labels, he likes Socialist Iconography. He believes in the re-assertion of tradition. He knows there’s a good chance a war is coming. He doesn’t understand how people can back Israel’s actions.

We click, we talk for quite a while. He’s writin’ stuff down, Michael Oakeshott’s “Rationalism in Politics”, Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom. But we talk Marx and Nietzsche. And Machiavelli. And how you can’t hold Israel’s actions against them but how it’s still fubar anyway. That’s what I think, I don’t think he agrees.

Then this guy approaches, in ordinary street-wear. Instinctively I harden my face. It’s Sunday night, and they hit the streets in the afternoon. Sometimes it takes ages to get what they want. This guy he doesn’t look like he’s on the streets but not all of ’em do. And he’s got hunger in his eyes.

Now when he rocks up my new friend and I’ve just got to the Subject. We’ve done that ‘click’ thing both realizing significant encounter, maybe. And this dude shows up, I think he’s intruding so I give him my thick face. But he’s known to my young companion and I do the cordial acceptance thing and turn back into the conversation. In this town, you wanna be included in the discussion you’ve gotta be a contender. You have to impress.

In other words we’re all stuck-up arseholes.

We were talking tradition. So I’ve got my art out, it’s about tradition after all. And my friend’s not all that impressed but the new dude… He flips out! He’s really into it. I haven’t had a fan for a while, not for my drawings. And some have seen it and aren’t much impressed. So I felt the warm buzz inside…

Oh but he needed help. This city’s harsh. The guy’s come all the way from the states to drink latte with Disappointment. I don’t know what. We didn’t get to that. He needed help and I couldn’t give. Yet.