Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Newsflash - Heath Ledger Still Dead

John Gibson still broadcasting.
Fox News still popular with target audiences.

I mean, honestly, people - when it comes to the "sound and fury, signifying nothing" game, the Right are Godzilla and the Left are Bambi.

Captures the problem with democracy precisely...

From a comment by "glendoor42" here:

This country has been run by special interest groups and Big Business since LBJ took over as President. They were slicker about it then, but now they don’t even care what the American people think. If they did do you think we would have 3.00 dollar a gallon gas prices?

They trot out the same cookie cutter candidates year after year. Candidates who say such brilliant things that no one in their right mind could argue with, like education is good, terrorism is bad, I love America, jobs are good, I will protect America, I want a clean environment, America is great is, old people need help, I like puppies and end it with the all time favorite, Let’s make a better world for our children. Now who the fuck will argue with all that!

Then they run practically the same campaign ad year after year. (Until they start saying that their opponent is the Anti-Christ, Why? he/she has just said the same bullshit you have)This ad is going to feature at some point the candidate in front of nondescript church, speaking to a veterans group who’s cumulative age is 3528, the candidate in a hard hat at a construction site, talking to a classroom of kids and this ad usually ends with them standing in some set made up to look like the lawyer ads you see at three in the morning, with their wife and kids. This end shot proves that a. they have found a woman/man stupid enough to marry them and b. the kids prove that they ain’t shooting blanks.

Or worse than these jackass or elephants whatever the case may be, is the Ronco candidate. The miracle man, they usually pander to a large enough electorate to really be in the running. Their message usually consists of breaking down the mess that is 60 years of this countries problem into a single simple fix that will cost the American people nothing. It’s so simple they will say, why hasn’t anyone done this before, I just don’t understand why. Elect me and I will fix everything and you, the America people won’t have to do a goddamn thing, free cake and pie for all. BUUULLL- SHHHIIIITTT.

But when someone comes along and says even the smallest piece of the truth like this country is messed up( it is ) and it’s going to take a lot of work and personal sacrifice, on everyone’s part to make it right( it is and it will) this candidate is usually painted as a kook.

The problem is not the asshole politicians, special interest groups or big business, the problem is us. We have allowed this situation to exist, we don’t vote or if we do it’s for the same assholes over and over, we don’t want to hear the truth that it is going to take work to fix this country that it’s going to take our time, our sacrifice and our initiative to make this country right for all Americans. This country is so badly in need of third party and I would start one but I have to go finish playing The Witcher.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

How to cripple someone

I also ran into a list of virtues today.

Love, I have no problems with. We need to love and be loved to be fully human. Peace, I have no problem with - to build is better and more honourable than to destroy, always.

Charity, mercy - necessary for dealing with people. They're an oil for the inevitable friction of misunderstanding and failed expectations.

But it's compassion I have a problem with. I suspect that people don't appreciate how much damage compassion has done - I've seen it cripple people. It soothes, it validates victimhood. It can be like letting a bone set twisted, like telling the sufferer that that's the way it should be. I've been responsible for advising people with serious problems; if I had used less compassion, I would have been more effective at that.

Beware of anyone offering you unconditional compassion. Beware of confusing what you want with what you need.

Reasons not to commit suicide - I couldn't say.

A while back, I came across the idea of dealing with trying to hold two incompatible statements as both true as a means of generating discussion. Postmodernism has a lot to answer for, but it's a useful tool at times.


i, Life is precious. Each and every human contains depths that can't be articulated, live interior lives richer than language can express, and their lives are unique and important. We are each a world, a perspective, and each of our lives cannot be repeated and only dimly comprehended.

ii, Life is just about worthless. You, I, and everyone we know will die, our accomplishments will decay into dust, and it will be as if we were never here. We kill each other in indifference, we kill with indifference. Wars are fought, we buy and sell each other daily in myriad ways, and the world simply doesn't care. There is no cosmic plan, no reason given to us for being, and everything you value or dream about will be taken away and destroyed.

I once had a nineteen year old ask me why she shouldn't commit suicide. I couldn't really articulate a good reason not to do so. That has, up to recently, always frightened me.

But I'm coming to the conclusion that not being able to articulate a reason is not the same as thinking it doesn't exist. Life is understood only in the experience of it. And sometimes it is breathtakingly, searingly beautiful. Not in spite of the fact that it is so goddamned cheap, but in part because of that fact. It's not something that can be stated, but it's real. To understand that what we do with our lives is both vitally important and almost worthless is the start of a sense of responsibility in which we can truly live. But again, it's something that can only be felt, not explained.

We have to give up hope, to suspend it, without falling into despair. Hope is an illusion which will break us.

I bought a couple of pot-plants today. They replace a couple which died. They're also going to die, but I'm still going to plant them, feed them and water them. And appreciate them brightening up the place.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Making the rounds - Questions about New Zealand

These, supposedly, were questions posted on the NZ Tourism website and the answers the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a sense of humour. Enjoy.

Q: Does it ever get windy in NZ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).

A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kiwi birds in the street? ( USA )

A: Depends how much you've been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Auckland to Wellington - can I follow the railroad tracks? ( Sweden )

A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in NZ? Can you send me a list of them in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown? ( UK )

A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in NZ? ( USA )

A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. New Zea-land is that island in the middle of the Pacific which does not... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Auckland City. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in NZ? ( USA )

A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into NZ? ( UK )

A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )

A: New Zea-land is that quaint little country, which is... oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Auckland city, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in NZ? ( UK )

A: You are a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Auckland and is milk available all year round? (Germany)

A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q: Please send a list of all doctors in NZ who can dispense spider serum. (USA)

A: Poisonous spiders live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All NZ spiders are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets. You should find some for yourself when you get here. Especially the ones with white tails.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in NZ, but I forget its name. It's a kind animal and lives in trees. ( USA )

A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in NZ? ( USA )

A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in Auckland where the female population is smaller than the male population? ( Italy )

A: Yes, gay night clubs.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in NZ? ( France )

A: Only at Christmas.
Q: I was in NZ in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the Girl I dated while I was staying in Wellington *... Can you help? ( USA )

A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour..
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )

A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

To Tom Clancy - a modest proposal

Hi, Tom.

I have to admit it's been quite a while since I contributed to your pocket. I got through The Bear and the Dragon back in 2000, and sorta gave up after that. Quite frankly, it was that Rainbow Six novel where you set up as villians an organised bunch of radical anarchist environmental scientists burrowing into academia as a means to true power.

Suspense of disbelief, dude.

I see it's been a while since you wrote anything under your own steam, and I can understand that. With the collapse of the USSR and China rapidly turning into capitalism-sans-merci, it's difficult to find good antagonists for your tales. the great thing about writing about the Cold War and WWII is that Commies and Nazis make excellent enemies.

But, you know, fascism doesn't just involve a guy with a mustache marching through Poland. I wonder if you've considered the literary possibilities of modern fascism, the sort that comes with a cross rather than a swastika?

I mean, consider the possibilities of a Dominionist takeover of the US government as a setting for a story. You'd be able to pit real Americans, including actual Christians, against people who meet all the criteria as fascists. You'd be able to go back to the wide-level techno-thrillers by setting up a civil war - say, the West Coast vs the rest. No more of this lame stuff involving hi-tech warriors against peasants with AK47s - both parties would have state of the art equipment and training. Hell, you could set it with a takeover in 2012 or 2016 and avoid too much of the sci-fi element that might put off your fan-base.

Okay, so it's not probable, but it's a damned sight more plausible than your last attempts to torture politics to provide a good story. Think about it, will you - you were a good writer once.