Monday, November 26, 2007
Finished thesis and University
Australian labour Party won the Federal election.
BTW this is the first incursion into Jack's blog by me, thanks Jack. Thanks Jack doubletime for the re-invite cos I missed the ship when it was sailing...to blog that is.
Being at uni for 5 years I have learnt to be a student, - ...if the whole system runs the distance, then I (sorry "we" inc. all the other p.grad newbs) will be bending over to be lubed in the bike tube by the skills shortage in Australia when it comes to professionals outside of the Arts.
Uni maybe typically cynical, that maybe a biased view coming from the Arts...or a generation Y thing, but after half-a decade of learning its only fucking now I realise that the golden gun isn't there at all, in fact satisfaction could actually be found joining the local YMCA, which I didn't do, and now with two pieces of paper, being qualified couldn't feel more insipid. So where to travel to next? Well fuckit. Time is perpetual, and you'll be doing something, even if it is staring at the ceiling with 10mg of Diazepam cursing through your veins whispering to yourself "god I feel benign...". But that latter scenario is rather specific, what about the Green Fields (tm), !!??? Well, yes green fields, no valium, no celing just a beautiful girl who you love, wheatfields sort of day, wine in your hand, gentle southerly with warm air to it...no fucking flies - is that cynical enough?, cause if it sounds that way I can lie using words well cuase I was being serious.
I think it was this French philosopher Montaigne who championed wisdom in life not necessarily in the education system. But then plural geography teaches me to be nuanced in my understanding of black and white scenarios (which is a good thing) so maybe tertiary education is wisdom giving, but Hey! fucked if I know!. So the only thing that is of any offer in this, the expedition into blog, is my own worth in telling someone out there some - thing - useful. So, everyone do ethics when you go to uni if you havnt already...
they'll be more poignant prose when I am boyed by my own wisdom...but now thats all I got...sorry Jack.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I haven't yet found the glamorous side to Bangkok that I was expecting, but my description of Khao San wasn't far off from the reality. It's been weird how much of the shit I've read has stuck in my head. I was on Ko Chang the other day and I missed Jed. I actually MISSED him. A fictional character (from The Beach). I was hanging out by myself thinking, wouldn't it be great if Jed was here? Fuck.
Another strange experience was the sensation of having been here already. Thailand felt so familiar. All of the stuff I'd heard about before I came here really had an influence on me and it couldn't be helped. But this feeling is probably also influenced by the overwhelming desire to find a reference point to FORCE myself to experience Thailand as familiar. I was walking around Bangkok and Ko Wai thinking yeah this is like Mozambique or that is like Madagascar and I had to stop myself. It's nothing like those places. Just because a place has a beach and coconut trees doesn't make it the same as fucking Madagascar! Or just because an apartment building is dilapidated doesn't make it the same as Mozambique. There are all these layers of difference that I stopped myself from experiencing and instead focussed on very basic elements of my visual experience. I'm not sure why I did this but it happened spontaneously. Possibly I was kind of scared being alone in a big foreign city and wanted to stop myself from feeling stressed. It worked.
I don't have a creeping sensation of danger walking around Bangkok (which I had in Maputo, Mozambique's capital and Antananarivo which is Madagascar's). Mozambique and Madagascar are much much poorer countries and this makes a big difference. The food is totally different. The architecture is way different too, (besides a few vaguely similar apartment buildings), and the buildings in Bangkok are in much better condition. Actually, almost everything in Bangkok is in much better condition. There's a very prominent tourist culture in Thailand which possibly makes the locals more used to our presence here, which means we receive a lot less attention (both negative and positive). Also, movement through the country is unbelievably easy here and comfortable, which changes the way a place is experienced.
I didn't expect Africa to be such a big influence on the way I experienced Thailand. Almost everything in my first few days in Bangkok I related to my time in Madagascar and Mozambique. It was something I had to force myself not to do, and now finally, after about ten days in the country, I am experiencing everything for the first time.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I imagine downtown Bangkok will have a real flashy side. Like Chapel street with a shitload of neon. There will be clubs blasting lots of horrible music like House except it will be ok because of the context. But fused with the flashy side will be a seedy side and a poverty side. I expect beggars and the homeless to be alongside the rich and glamorous. There'll be trashy strip joints and 'massage' parlours etc, and all of this will be mixed together but whenever you read about this area they will only mention the flashy parts.
There will be more tourists than what I thought possible. Tourists escaping their lives in the West. Tourists looking for the 'Real Thailand' (Vietnam). Sex tourists, shopping tourists, adventure tourists, 'sea, sun, sand' tourists, drug tourists, food tourists, drunk tourists, tourists with bad hairstyles and shithouse tattoos, sunburnt tourists, crazy looking tourists, hippy tourists, and also tourists who will be some of the coolest people I've ever met.
Khao San will have two to three storey buildings on either side and the whole street will have a claustrophobic vibe, because it'll be really packed. The buildings will have shit hanging off of them everywhere - lots of clothes, signs and flags. There will be lots of vendors selling awesome yummy food and fresh fruit, and also selling lots of tourist garbage. It will be very LOUD. The tourists in Khao San will be more of the backpacker style, and the mix of nationalities will be fairly cosmopolitan. Not just aussies, but lots of Europeans from all over that continent, plus heaps of Israelis relative to their population. The Americans there will be the cool types.
The downtown area will be surrounded by really poor areas. The city will be pretty safe most of the time. I'll get harassed a bit by dudes trying to sell shit but it won't be much of a problem. Public transport will be pretty good. The traffic will suck.
Ok, I could go on for longer but I'm writing this from the library in Darwin's Parliament House, so I don't have much time. Tell me what you imagined and tell me how right or wrong I am!
WHERE MY PRECONCEPTIONS HAVE COME FROM:
- word of mouth from friends and people at parties
- The Beach by Alex Garland (one of my favourite books)
- The Ends of the Earth by Robert Kaplan
- Lonely Planet guidebooks
- my imagination
- my experiences in Africa
- TV shows
- photos taken by friends in South East Asia
The following academic journal articles on backpacking:
- Erik Cohen's Thai Prostitutes and Farang Men: The Edge of Ambiguity
- Teo and Leong's A Postcolonial Analysis of Backpacking
(these two are from the journal Annals of Tourism Research)
The following academic books
- In the Cities of the South by Jeremy Seabrook
- Planet of Slums by Mike Davis
I think they're the major ones. Look out for Part 2!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Me: Hey you wanna see The Kingdom?
Deadbeat Friend: Errrrrr, do you think it'll be good?
Me: OF COURSE it will be good. It's an ACTION MOVIE!
Deadbeat Friend: Errrrr, it's gonna be terrible. It'll be racist and it'll be shit because Hollywood doesn't understand terrorism and Islam and Saudi Arabia and blah fucking blah.
But who does? Of course the message is going to be confusing and jumbled and insensitive. It's HOLLYWOOD! Hollywood doesn't even know shit about Hollywood. I'm not expecting intelligent and thoughtful insights into globalisation and terrorism in a post - 9\11 world because when I want that I go to a fucking library. Action movies like The Kingdom are about entertainment, not learning, and it seems like all my deadbeat friends are missing the point about this and it frustrates the shit out of me.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
1. 17 Again - Eurythmics. The Eurythmics were great. They were responsible for some of the most memorable hits of the 80s whilst being both a commercial and critical success. Their latest greatest hits release Eurythmics Ultimate Collection contains hit after hit - but which song did they select for track #1? I've Got A Life, a new song which is not nearly on par with their former glories and which you have to sit through (or skip past) to get to their superb single Sweet Dreams. As if to further illustrate that Annie & Dave aren't above melding their classic back catalogue with their lacklustre current efforts the pair conspicuously incorporate the line 'Sweet dreams are made of anything' into one of their new tracks, 17 again. I guess they were hoping to induce a psychosomatic response in the listener that would cause them to involuntarily think 'Hey, these guys used to be really good'.
2.Welcome To The World - 10cc. 10cc were one of the coolest British pop bands ever, until 1977 when half of the quartet left to do inventive, experimental pop records*. The remaining two members of the band continued under the 10cc name, released a couple of decent albums and descended into a valley of maudlin, M.O.R. pop blandness. The biggest single for this incarnation of 10cc was 1978's Dreadlock Holiday ('I don't like reggae, oh nooo' pretty much sums up my reaction to the song) so it's unsurprising that they artlessly name-drop the title into the lyrics of Welcome To The World from their forgettable album of 1980, Look Hear (2 stars - allmusicguide.com).
*The departing duo Godley & Creme actually incorporate the chorus of 10cc's first single Donna into Group Life from their dark, satirical album L, however it's a device cleverly used in a song satirising life in successful band. You can get away with these things if you do them well.
3. Welcome To The Room... Sara - Fleetwood Mac. My love for Fleetwood Mac is like a passionate love affair. However I've never been able to reconcile this love with one Stevie Nicks. Sure, some of my favourite Fleetwood songs are by Ms. Nicks but I can't seem to shake the feeling that she is simply an average artist who had a few flashes of inspired genius and then just spent the rest of her career hanging around musicians with real talent like a blonde, coked-up leech. On Fleetwood Mac's 1987 album Tango In The Night (containing the huge radio hits Everywhere and Sweet Little Lies both written by the infinitely more talented Christine McVie) Nicks contributed the song Welcome To The Room... Sara - a reference to the hit single Sara from Fleetwood's 1979 masterpiece Tusk. Why not just release a single called Hey, Do You Guys Remember Rhiannon?
4. Tonight - New Kids On The Block (Remember them?). Check out this excerpt from NKOTB's song Tonight: Remember when we said, girl, please don't go, and how I'd be loving you forever, taught you 'bout hangin' tough as long as you got the right stuff, didn't we, girls, ooh, didn't we, girls, aah? Leaving aside for a moment that those lyrics are utter shite, let's do a count on how many of their appalling songs are mentioned in one single verse:
- Please Don't Go Girl
- I'll Be Loving You (Forever)
- Hangin' Tough
- You Got It (The Right Stuff)
That's every single from their previous album except for one. These guys should be ashamed (of themselves).
5. Glass Onion - The Beatles. Oh, Come on! I told you about Strawberry Fields - I told you about the walrus and me - I told you about the fool on the hill - Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet etc. This John Lennon character seems positively desperate to convince us that his little band, The Beatles has written a few memorable songs! This shameless plug appears on their barely noticed self-titled release of 1968 (often dismissively referred to as 'The White Album'). The band was so desperate at this point, they even resorted to allowing the drummer to sing on a couple of tracks. Enough said.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
1. "Sorry, we couldn't afford a stylist." You know what? I'll bet they did employ a stylist for the making of these ads. I realise that they're going for a blokey image but no one does anything in the media today without a stylist on hand. I'll bet they employed someone to make sure their subjects looked blokey in the exact blokey style the station wanted. Are we seriously expected to believe that they were willing to do the photo shoot with whatever outfits these guys happened to throw on that morning? They're spending thousands of dollars on their ad campaign and plastering them on billboards all over Melbourne. When you're faced with the prospect of having to rely on the dress-sense of AFL football commentators, you'd be a fool not to hire a stylist.
2. "Who said boy bands were dead?" Criticism #1. They're not boys. Criticism #2. They're not a band. The 'joke' doesn't work on any level. Does anyone even proof-read this drivel before it gets approval? People that work in commercial radio are so funny! All they have to do is mindlessly drop a daggy or retro pop culture reference and they'll have me in stitches! Not.
3. "Where moustaches are still cool" It's quite striking to notice that only 1 guy out of the 5 guys in the picture has a moustache. If moustaches are so cool, how come only 1/5 of the people featured in the ad actually has one? It's like looking at a group of people, 4 of whom have moustaches, 1 of whom doesn't and remarking 'That must be where not having moustaches is still cool". I think I understand what they're going for here (see 'daggy or retro pop culture reference' above) but it hardly seems worth mentioning a feature possessed by a tiny minority of their commentary team.
So what point am I making (if any)? These ads are demonstrably inane and are presumably indicative of the audience Triple M wants to attract. Ask yourself if you want to be part of that audience.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
There are some people here on planet Earth,
Who think that after death there is rebirth,
Convinced despite the evidence
(Likewise ignoring sediments that prove Earth's age as surely as its girth).
There are some folk who tow the bible line,
And in their books and speeches they opine,
That every fin and spiracle
Must represent God's miracle and every eye and tooth built from design.
There are men and women living in the dark,
Who're sure that dinosaurs were on the ark,
They won't abide with fossils
Disagreeing with apostles (and they won't let their kids watch Jurassic Park).
Such people trust in musty, dusty texts,
Upon which they base all their cults and sects,
With every contradiction
There comes more and more conviction that it's Jesus and not nature that selects.
Everyone has freedom to believe,
In arks and Gods and Adam, snakes and Eve,
But to have such proud defiance
To discoveries of science and using all your talents to deceive,
- You may think you're pious but you're really just naive.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Yangtze dolphin dissapears - The Age
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
"Earlier this year, I laid out a new strategy for defeating the Decepticons. I wasn't pleased with what was taking place on the ground or in the depths of outer space. I didn't approve of what I was seeing. And so I called together our military and said, can we design a different strategy to succeed? And this new strategy is different, transformed if you will, from the one we were pursuing before. It is being led by a new commander, Optimus Prime -- and a new ambassador, Bumblebee. It recognizes that our top priority must be to help the Autobot government and its security forces protect their population from attack -- especially in Autobot City, the capital of their homeland, Cybertron. It's a new mission. And Optimus Prime is in outer space carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Decepticons and the Autobots make progress toward reconciliation -- to build a free planet that respects the rights of its robots, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the evil Decepticon dictator, Megatron. And it's in our interests, it's in our interplanetary interests to help them succeed. Earth has sent reinforcements to help the Autobots secure their population. I asked the military what they thought the chances of us defeating giant alien robots were. That's what you expect from Earth's Commander-in-Chief, to consult closely with the Earth military in times of inter-galactic cyber-war. They made recommendations, and I sent the reinforcements in to help the Autobots secure their population, to go after robo-terrorists, enormous flying robots and CD players that transform into weird, mischeivous cyber-men that incite sectarian violence so that we can help get the homeland of the Transformers under control. I think it's going to be very important for our country to have faith in the capacity of liberty to be transformative*. After all, there's more to this war than meets the eye."
* That sentence actually appeared in Bush's speech unaltered. I almost wet myself when I found it.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
That's why I'm down on religion.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I think it is fair to say with at least a plausible degree of certainty that Tom Cruise is insane. And who's surprised? Isolated from reality, constantly surrounded by employees, sycophants and yes-men, do you think he ever hears things like "Um, Tom, your views on psychology kind of sound like the ravings of an imbalanced psycopath"? Some in the media have suggested that Cruise is a homosexual who has suppressed his true sexuality via the homophobic doctrine of Scientology. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I think this is probably true. Someone needs to save these wealthy dullards from themselves. They are never going to seek help because they are apparently unaware that they have a problem. So, here's my plan: contact Tom Cruise yourself, tell him he's living in the eye of a deluded freak hurricane and that you are personally willing to be there for him as a friend, a shoulder to cry on, or just to listen as he pours his heart out about how miserable his hollow, soulless life is. I've already written my letter:
Dear Mr. Cruise,
It has come to my attention that you seem to be a little unhappy. That Oprah thing, the sham wedding; I've known you long enough to recognise a cry for help when I see one. Let's catch up sometime, maybe have a few beers, anything as long as I don't have to hear you drone on and on about Scientology. It's a bullshit religion and everyone in the world knows it (except you and Travolta). You might even think about taking some anti-depressants. Studies show them to be quite effective. Whatever happens Tom, this ridiculous facade has to end - there's nothing sadder than watching a top gun sink so low.
Monday, May 28, 2007
It’s hard being an Atheist. We can’t get tax exempt status if we want to start a charity, we get less holidays and one of the few things that all religious denominations are united on is that Atheism is completely wrong. But probably the worst part about being an Atheist is having the same fatuous arguments thrown at us again and again about how incredibly plausible an invisible, omniscient god is (Fundamentalism, religious or secular, gets us nowhere, Margaret Somerville, The Age 28/5). Ms. Somerville implies that the existence of a god is equally valid a proposition as a godless universe. There is no evidence for the existence of a god whatsoever (And which god is the author talking about? Jehovah? Allah? Xenu?). For the last time, the burden of proof lies with the person who makes the extraordinary claims. Proving the absence of something is ostensibly impossible. Personally, I believe in the existence of a teapot that orbits the Earth. It cannot be detected by instruments on Earth because it is too small. Prove that the teapot doesn’t exist and I’ll convert to a religious sect of your choosing. I also take offence at Atheism being described as a religion. Religious people just know they are right, usually in the face of conflicting evidence. Atheists are people who have looked at the available evidence and have tried to reach the most rational conclusion. We don’t know we’re right, we just think that there is so little evidence for the claims made by any and all religions that we probably don’t need a god as part of our worldview. This is the exact opposite of a religious mindset. We don’t want to spread Atheism at the point of a gun; we want people to reach these conclusions themselves so that we can live in a society in which the dangerous myths of religion have gone the way of Zeus, Poseidon and Thor.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Imagine launching an attack on a defenceless piano. It hardly seems like a fair or moral thing to do does it? However, Geoff Bloch (Letters and Emails, 24/4) assures us that our country should not embrace the piano on which Lennon composed ‘Imagine’ because it represents the moral decay that has been wrought by the ongoing secularisation of the world. We are told that there can be little doubt that there is a significant correlation between secularisation and the decay of society. This is a tiresome argument which has been rebutted many times already but I felt compelled to step in, if only to defend the honour of the piano. Imagine a country with an overwhelming proportion of religious believers, a land where atheists are the only minority that will not get elected to public office - The United States. According to a 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, 85% of Americans identify themselves as religious. With this kind of piety prevalent in the population, we would expect to see the most moral nation on earth. In reality we see massively high rates of violent crime, disproportionately high rates of teen-pregnancy and STD infection, CEOs that earn exponentially more than their employees and a war on terror that seems to be more influenced by archaic notions of holy war than by modern foreign policy. This is not yet another attack on America, just an illustration that maybe secularisation isn't the cause of 'moral decay'. There is no reason that a secular society can't be a moral society that values right and punishes wrong. There is no connection between religion and morality. Studies have shown that a sense of right and wrong are established in children long before they learn the Ten Commandments (And is it really that important to teach kids today that they are forbidden from making false idols?). A moral code comparable to our own has also been observed in chimpanzees. It has always troubled me that the religious seem to think that they have a monopoly on being good. After all, what is more laudable, being good because you think it is the right thing to do, or being good only because you think you are being supervised by a menacing parent-figure who will punish you for any misdemeanours? When I hear 'Imagine' on the radio I am grateful that such a simple message of rejecting faith is loved by so many people and that maybe a world free from religion isn't just a dream. Well, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one, I hope someday that piano may join us, and the world can live as one.
Lennon's piano goes solo
Thursday, April 19, 2007
SBS World News article about Pope Benedict's opinion on evolution
Friday, April 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Science Daily article about Oryctodromeus
Monday, April 9, 2007
Easter is a time of reflection. A time of spiritual solitude, which somehow became a bastardised celebration of eating rodents made from chocolate. It is a time when all of us mortal men and women should be turning to the church for moral and spiritual guidance - and what bigger or more authoritative church is there than the Vatican? During this years Easter message, Pope Benedict XVI reflected upon the many evils present in the world today obstructing our quest for world peace. His distress at the unrest in the Middle East moved him to denounce "the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion," Isn't it great to hear the Pope speaking out against these issues? I can only presume that his disgust is limited to violence justified in the name of non-Christian religions. The Pope continues in this hypocritical vein when he describes the "underestimated humanitarian situation" in Africa. Could he be referring to the countless Catholic missionaries who are teaching Africans that condom use causes the spread of AIDS? Of course not. If Benedict is concerned about the humanitarian situation in Africa then maybe he should think about dispelling draconian, first century attitudes about sex that are increasing the spread of HIV in third-world countries? The Pope goes on:
"Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test?"Presumably it would put your faith to the test when a supposedly benevolent and loving God wantonly strikes down innocent children in the most painful way. Maybe God isn't all that benevolent and loving after all? Or at least maybe you might want to ask yourself if this is a God worth worshipping? If I had a friend who caused as much mayhem and destruction as God does, God knows I wouldn't worship him. I don't think I would even buy him an Easter egg. Don't you think it's odd that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ by giving each other confectionary eggs? This is because Easter is a Christian highjacking of Pagan fertility celebrations following the spring Equinox and eggs are symbolic of fertility and rebirth (The connection with fertility and Easter is where we get words like 'oestrus', 'oestrogen' etc.). So, I propose a new way to celebrate Easter; have sex. What better way to celebrate the blossom of spring and make the fertility Goddess happy in one fell swoop? This Easter don't give your friends chocolate, give them some sugar!