Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Me.

I am, I have concluded, a difficult and complex individual. One who watches too much television, which any rational human being would mean that I am being dumbed down and simplified with every passingminute.
But no. Difficulter, and more complex.
For instance: I laughed like a child at a re-run of "The Big Bang Theory". It must be the funniest programme on TV, apart from the TV1 6 O'Clock News. At least TBBT is intentionally funny. Then, a quick channel change, so Jenny can watch Coronation Street... and we catch the last few minutes of the programme I actually hate more than 't Street.
Masterchef. Oh, ye gods. I would seriously take to religion if someone would tell me that praying daily would remove Masterchef from the tele, and my hurting memory.
The presenters have, at most, 12 lines that they use, re-use, abuse, then use again. And again. Cooking doesn't get any tougher / harder than this. Ladies and gentlemen, can you stand the heat? It's been a hard decision... (wait for 30 seconds of drone, then commercial break, then a repeat of the line, 30 seconds more of drone) Roger Testosterone, I'm afraid your flambeed prune-juice enhanced prawn in a Weet-a-bix bisque wasn't up to the mark, but (wait for thirty seconds of drone) we've decided you get to stay, while Wilhelmina Winklebottom leaves Masterchef! You must want this Masterchef title more than life itself. And so, and on, and fucking on.
On another note: I'm still having trouble with Skype. I forgot my password. NOTE TO SELF: write passwords down. I hit the smug little "Forgot Your Password?" thing, and it promised to send me an email. It didn't. I hit it again, It didn't respond. So far, it's ignored me seven times. I have been advised to delete Skype frommy 'pooter, and start again. I did. I downloaded it, yay, an updated version. It didn't ask me for a new sign-in or password, because, well, it already has this 'pooter registered.
I hit the smug, snide, and thoroughly evil "Forgot Your Password?" thingy. It hasn't responded. Still. Again.
At least I've figured out how to make my facebook thing work again, but that doesn't help me talk to my beautiful grand-daughter.
Reading: T. Jefferson Parker, "The Renegades". A cri8me police procedural, which I'm not normaslly big on. this, however, has captivated me.
Listening to: "Concert for George", by a buncha George Harrison friends and family. Cool.

Miracle of miracles..

There's been another shaky old day in Christchurch. fresh earthquakes, some more damage, and at least one more "miracle" claimed.
A restaurant in a shapping mall suffered some destruction - a part of the ceiling fell in, a few bricks scattered about.
"Oh," gasped the owner. (I'm paraphrasing, but only a lot.) "If this had happened when people had of been sitting there at those there tables, they would have been killed. Thank God no-one was there to killed! It was a miracle that no-one was killed!".
Well, actually, no. While Australia may have a saint - some woman deified by a bunch of frock-wearing men who were happy to take hearsay as proof of a "miracle" - we here in good old shaky EnZed don't need one. And we certainly don't want god being dragged in to quite ordinary happenings.
Yes, I'm afraid earthquakes are rather ordinary here. Ones that dmaage property aren't so common, but they happen.
And ones that damaged a restaurant that was closed for business, and that therefore couldn't have harmed anyone in said restaurant, is not a miracle.
It was most certainly not, as the headline claimed "Another miracle". For it to have been another miracle, two things need to have been true:
1: It had to have been proved to be a miracle - ie, it had to be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that what happened was due entirely to God's divine intervention. There could be no other possible explanation. (Even the Catholic Church claims to rely on this definition, although they do play a tad loosey-goosey with their own rules).
2: For it to have been "another miracle", there had to have been a prior proven miracle. See details re God etc above.
And there hasn't been a prior miracle. Just happenstance. Happy happenstance, to be sure - but not a miracle. A surprise, perhaps, but no miracle. Amazing stories of survival, certainly. But no miracles.
Let's say these things happened: the seismologist's instruments go crazy, indicating that a Force 7+ earthquake is in progress, say on Haiti, but - while thousands of homes are sent tumbling down hills, and million-tonne mudslides sweep tens of thousands of people away - absolutely no-one is hurt. Grade "A" Miracle there. Or a tornado picks up a church filled with pious worshippers in Kansas, and shreds the building while setting everyone down completely unharmed... well, that would be a miracle. Or, let's say, every time an attempt was made to kill an inmate at Auschwitz during WWII, he or she was protected, and the tormentor suffered the death intended for the inmate... well, hell, that would have been child's play for an omnipotent, all-knowing, all-loving god. Genuine miracles.
They didn't happen, because, well, miracles need god. That's the nature of miracles. A piece of masonry falling down and not hitting a person who isn't there is not a miracle. It's just a piece of masonry obeying the laws of gravity. If anything comes close to being miraculous in that small story it's Newton's brain - and his near-contemporary, Darwin, had a few things to say about that.
Reading: T Jefferson Parker, "The Renegades".
Listening to: Ray davies, "Working Men's Cafe".

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A day of reflection..

It's been a funny old day.I've felt discombobulated, out of sorts, dislocated.
This odd feeling has come about, of course, because I should have been elsewhere. I should have been at my darling brother-in-law's funeral - but as I couldn't get away for the trip to Hawke's Bay, I didn't make it.
John Palmer was an excellent person. There was nothing about him that immediately shouted out "inside this skin there beats the heart of a truly decent human being", but a moment or two of conversation with him, and you'd know that he was someone just that little bit out-of-the-ordinary. He cared very deeply for my sister, which is always a good start. He adored his grand-children, and loved his step-grandchildren. Another sign of excellence. He was very good to my parents, and stood up to my Mother, which shows he was True of Heart, and possibly a Rash Fool - certainly a man of character and backbone.
He was, apparently, capable of anger, but I never saw that for myself, so I choose to ignore the rumours.
It is true that you can learn something of value from everyone you meet, and this is certainly true of my experience with Big John. Patience, calmness, and understanding that the world is going to happen regardless of what you might want.
I've only known John for 15 years or so. Too short a time. I would have liked the chance to sit down and enjoy a couple of coldies with him again, but the Bastard Cancer screwed those plans. It's a particularly evil way to die, and it held our John down and tortured him beyond belief. From all reports, he faced it all with quiet dignity and courage.
Big John Palmer: you were a bloody marvellous human being, and I, for one, will miss you more than I can explain.
READING: John Birmingham, "Without Warning". For the second time.
LISTENING TO: Harry Nillson, "Everybody's Talking".
No Paper Heroes today. It just wouldn't be right.

Monday, December 20, 2010

'tis the season...

Well, gosh.
At this time of the year it gets quite hot here in the Southern climes, while North of the Equator it's been known to cool down a bit.
And, with the old global warming thing starting to hit (and really, anyone who remains a denier must also be one of those whose grasp of the idea of a globular Earth is weak..) it's not unexpected that summer will mean more extremes of summery-type weather (heat, drought, humidity, storms, floods, etc) while those in the wintery areas must expect an equal and opposite outpouring of energy: cold, sleet, hail, snow, and so on.
So when it happens - as it has over Europe this year (it was America's turn last year, and every year is Russia's turn) - I get amused by people bleating.
"I can't see why they couldn't take off from Heathrow. There's only 50 centimetres of snow on the runway.."
"We've been held up here in New York by the European snows, and it's just not good enough. It's just - well, you'd think the airlines could do better."
Excuse me? When you have a weather system with a similar energy quotient as a few dozen Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs dropping a gazillion tons of snow, you also have conditions that ain't all that propitious for flying.
No use complaining. You may as well complain about the moon changing shape every day.
Heat is energy. We keep on pumping heat / energy into the atmosphere, and it's got to go somewhere. That somewhere is... the weather. People should stop bleating about the difficulties they've caused.. They need to get off their pimply white arses and do something about it. (I say "white" arses, because the damage was initiated by, and largely done by, the white, European First and New World ountries. The Third World nations are, by and large, catching up: but they're also leading the way with conservation efforts..)
And talking as though the airport management team and the airlines can actually do something to stop a multi-megaton weather system is simply asking them to play god. Can't be done.
So, either accept the shitty weather, or do something about it. Complaining won't acheive anything.
Reading: Stephen Hunter "The Master SWniper". An oldy and a goody.
Listening to: Anything but Snoopy's Fucking Christmas....
More "Paper Heroes":
It came to them that, despite not actually discussing the question, they had all made the decision to go ahead with the mission.

Five things happened on November 24th: Blunt, Crayne, and the other four Sleepers finally met with Charles, and formally told him of their decision to try and destroy the transmitter which had been causing chaos and mass death. Grey had summed it up for all of them the night before: “It’s always been the case of the politicians who foul the nest up, and it’s the soldiers who have to clean it out. These people seem to be harmless, working together in peace and harmony, and someone’s using their homes as a toilet. I cain’t say as I like ‘em much, but they do seem to be a better bet than whut’s taken over my old home.

“I don’t like the way we was brung here, but here I am, there don’t seem to be no way of going back, so we’re stuck here. And there may be some way I can help. So, I’m voting yes, we help ‘em. I don’t know as how I could sleep nights if I didn’t, anyways.”

To which John Prester and Rambo, his Calico kitten, had said “Amen.”
The second thing that happened that day was another target was hit by the transmitter: this time, it was New Zealand’s turn. A sleepy University town in the heartland was obliterated: more than 15,000 died, and some 4,500 were left gibbering wrecks.
The third thing: The train that The Equus and the Black Brigade were travelling on got to the foot of the Rockies. In just six days’ time they would reach ‘Francisco.
The fourth was the unveiling of the plan for getting the Sleepers on land: they would arrive in four days’ time, at night, near Francisco.
The fifth was a surprise. Cienwyn and Adam stated that they wanted to join the expedition to ‘Merika. Naturally, they were insane. Their embot deprogramming had given them emotions and thoughts they had not experienced before. They were out-of-control children, and they revelled in it. That evening, the only disappointed voice had been Thomas Crayne’s. “I’d just wanted to be able to say ‘Into the Valley of Death strode the six.’ Still, if they come, they stay in the rear.”

And it was agreed. Crayne left the room with Winter, his cat, to give his equipment a final check.

The next day, they were on their way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LVI

Listening to the radio should be an interesting and entertaining business. We're blessed, here in our green little country, to have the publicly-funded Radio New Zealand. It's a superb service, run by excellent broadcasters.
If you're one of my overseas readers, you can find Radio New Zealand International on the short-wave band.. or here, on the 'Net.
But early this morning I wasn't listening to Radio New Zealand. I was listening to a "Christian" station. I put the descriptor in quotes, because I generally find that the intolerance spouted by Christians would surely disqualify them from that status if the person whose name they have adopted were to hear their rantings.
Today, for instance, some American chappy was blithering on about the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which is how that establishment has uncomfortably accommodate gay personnel.
The "Christian's" POV was such that the Bible says that all "Hommerseckshills" are abominations in the sigt of the lord, and should be, at best, put to death.
He made passing swipes at witches, midgets, commernists, and socialists... but his main thrust was agin' the hoe-moes.
He's entitled to his opinion, and it's terrific that he lives in a country that gives him the freedom to publicly utter his blasphemies. It's terrific that he'd be able to broadcast his filth if he lived in New Zealand.
But he seems to be a trifle confused. because he was also ranting on about the loving, omnipotence, and infallibility of his god, who, he said, made us all. Including, presumably, hommerseckshills, commernists, witches, short people, people born with a hare-lip, or no sight or hearing.
If his god made these people, then surely - if this god is perfect, omnipotent, and loving - then there wouldn't be any gay people? Or very short, one-limbed, blind and deaf gay people who choose to follow Wicca or a dead German instead of an African desert-inspired war-god philosophy?
But apparently the birth and creation of these people sneaks past the all-seeing, all-loving, all-powerful god. My opinion? God fell asleep on the job a few hundred millennia ago, and became totally irrelevant to the world.
Reading: Still on Christian Cameron's "Tyrant".
Listening to: Well, the Radio.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tiny Little Bits of Water Are Falling From The Sky....

110% humidity in Auckland today. 98% hasn’t been so unusual lately. Every day has been Muggy (even Tuegey, Weggy, and Thurgy have all been Muggy) but today the air got a little too saturated, and condensed into a gazillion tiny pieces of heavier-than-air water.
Rain, in other words. Heavy, constant, rattling on the window-panes, splattering Mrs Collins’ pink sequined slippers. I’ve ventured out twice, and would offer up a prayer of thanks-giving to the ghost of the chappy who invented the umbrella. That is, I would if I believed in prayer. Or ghosts.
I must Wiki the umbrella. These little portable roofs (rooves?) are superb on overly-muggy days like today. They keep my carefully coiffed tonsure dry, and stop large droplets forming on my spectacles. This, in turn, means I can clearly see the idiotically large Jeep Cherokee whose driver thinks would make a great tool for killing that pedestrian with the black and white portable roof.
So. Rain. I haven’t heard the old steam wireless today, but I hope that Waikato and Northland are also getting the rain: they’re both on the verge of drought. Of course, it wouldn’t be a grassy verge: more like a dusty one. It would be good to think their bacon’s been saved by the weather – unless, of course, they’re the sorts of humanity-free farmers who use sow crates. In that case, I think it would be preferable if their bacon were to be rescued by someone, rather than something.
Reading: Tyrant: Funeral Games, Christian Cameron. Good blood.
Listening to: Ian Anderson, "The Secret Language of Birds".
More “Paper Heroes” :
At the word “dogs”, Grey’s Puma gave a low growl, which was picked up on by the other cats.

“Colonel Blunt, we must emphasise that a lot of this is best-guess. While the ‘Merikans are not as technologically advanced as we are, they have developed a holographic cloaking system, which our satellites cannot penetrate. It changes appearance every few days: it may not look anything like this representation.”

Blunt nodded. For non-military people they seemed to have achieved a classic military cock-up. However, he accepted that at least they’d made the effort.

Weapons training went well. The longer weapons – Blunt and Whistler’s rifles, and Preston’s M16, were deadly accurate out to a thousand metres at least. When fired, the weapons sighed: the buckyball barrels were made of an extremely dense yet lightweight and rigid foam which served, in essence, as a silencer. At its loudest, it made a sound like an old man coughing. At its quietest – on a target no more than fifty metres away, it sighed; a sensuous sound, inaudible to anyone more than two paces away.

Crayne’s Crusader weapons included small smoke and flash-bang grenades, and a variety of thrown weapons: tiny edged boomerangs, various knives, even a razor-edged discus. His armour was a marvel, even to him. Several centuries before, his costume would have been seen as a technologically futuristic: lightweight, bullet-proof, flexible, and smart. It had had a built-in medical system that could take emergency measures in the event of a traumatic injury, and the communications system within the cowl was capable of talking to his various vehicles, computer network, and – of course – his butler. But his new outfit made it seem as primitive as Hanno’s swords.

The Sleepers spent four days on the range, testing their weapons to the limit, and discussing tactics and strategies. It came to them that, despite not actually discussing the question, they had all made the decision to go ahead with the mission.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Jobs

Started the New Job today.
New Job means meeting New People. Meeting New People means remembering New Names. And I am terrible at it. Today, I sat at a table with a half-dozen strangers to discuss a Big Thing. There was also a Pseudo-Person - one on a tele screen. He was in Australia, and was video conferring. As I'd met him once before, he was therefore also a Pseudo Stranger.
I drew a little map of the table, with the New People's names written clearly where they sat. So the conversation included such lines as "Thanks, uh, um, did I write down Ed or Bruce? Oh, no: you're Ed or is it Ned... so that makes you Phil. So thanks,Ph-... what? Bill? Bill. OK. Bill. Yes. Um. What was I saying?"
Never mind. Good day, much New Stuff, new ways to find the loo, new ways to get stuck in elevators, new ideas to be had / found / bluffed at. And no time at all to put in any thought of my Blog.
I also have a new phone, but am sending it back. It is even more horribler than the bloody awful Nokia I had at the Library. It's a Ssony Ericssson Walkman, and I think it was designed by a strange Cornish demon. In a couple of days I expect to exchange it for a iPhone: will this be an improvement?
Listening To: Schubert. Good for the heart.
Reading: Same as last time.
More Paper Heroes.
This design feature was to have disastrous consequences later.

The men were taken to a remote area some thirty klicks south of Auckland, and received instructions from their I-See connections on the use of their weapons. Blunt and Whistler were delighted to be relieved of the need to reload after each shot fired: all they needed do now was slam the butt of the weapon into the appropriate socket in their pack, and it would be reloaded with twenty rounds and LoP within half a second.

The firing range they were to use had been made especially for their use: for the first time in hundreds of years a warning flag was flown to indicate that a live-firing exercise was under way.

Cienwyn and Paulus drove the men to the range early on a warm spring morning. A great deal of work had gone into the development if the site: there was a regular thousand-metre range, with pop-up targets scattered along the length. A city-scape had been built, to enable the Sleepers to rehearse fighting in an urban environment: the block-sized area looked as much like San Francisco’s dilapidated mean streets as possible. A third area consisted of a series of long, low barracks-type buildings, a four-storey high building, and a complex of office and administration buildings. A peculiar looking arrangement stood inside a triple-fenced perimeter.

Paulus explained. “Gentlemen? That establishment there is as close as we can come to your target. We have broken a large number of our conventions and laws to actively spy on ’Merika. And this is, we believe, the weapon that the ‘Merikans are using to damage our cities, and citizens. There are barracks capable, we believe, of housing at least two hundred people each. Whether they are soldiers, like yourself, or the people who run the establishment, we don’t know. We do know that there are guard towers – seven, as you can see – and they will possibly be armed by sophisticated automatic weapons. Although how sophisticated we don't know. The taller building houses the laboratories, and there are four admin-type buildings. Inside this triple ring of fencing, of which the middle one is almost certainly electrified, is the weapon itself. It is guarded by soldiers and dogs.”

At the word “dogs”, Grey’s Puma gave a low growl, which was picked up on by the other cats.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LV

I am unemployed again. Fortunately, only until Tuesday. I lEft the Library on Friday, after an excessively difficult and busy final week. It was nice to be able to catch up with (and farell) all my customers, but I have to admit I was not expecting the tears. I was very touched by everyone's affection.

I start the new job on Tuesday. I have to say I am very excited by the prospect. I am just as excited by the Plan To Buy A Bicycle. Cycling and swimming are perfect exercise regimes for people with arthritis: there's not the impact on the joints. I have shopped around (Bloody hell, I hate hate hate shopping.) and found the perfect bike. It's a solid, sturdy machine, with 9 in-hub gears, a carrier, a basket, and a big-ass seat. I particularly wanted the in-hub gears. I get confused the the De Railleur (spelling?) gears - all those cogs and wibbly-wobbly bits. Makes changing or repairing a tyre really difficult - for me, anyway. I also especially like the big-ass seat. The last bike I rode had a little sliver of a seat that vanished up my butt-crack and conducted a prostate examination while I hummed along. I apparently had a permanently surprised expression on my face...

I remain in favour of the Wikileaks, if not the man. He does seem to be a self-righteous hippy-dippy power-mad Aussy freakazoid wholooks upon the rest of the world (including his Wikileaks co-leakers) with contempt. However, we mustn't confuse the messenger with the message. And the Swedish sex / rape charges do seem a little too convenient, if not totally contrived. Hard to see how they can be genuine.

Off to the first read-through of "Pride and Prejudice" this afternoon. It does look as though it'll be fun. I've made a thin start on the mutton-chop whiskers - it's nice that there's something about me that's thin....

Listening to: Kate Bush, "Aerial". Typical Kate, which is to say ecstatically beautiful.

More "Paper Heroes" :
The designers' embots made that kind of sophistry necessary: Design for lethality, and you would be breaking the code.

Blunt and Whistler’s rifles were now capable of firing twenty rounds without a reload, and would change the type of shot by verbal command. It could fire anti-armour, high-explosive, or anti-personnel bullets on command, re-fabricating the rounds as they were fed to the firing chamber. Grey’s Colts could each fire twelve rounds, anti-armour or personnel, before reloading, and his Model of ‘79 Winchester rifle could carry forty rounds.

Whistler’s massive seven-barrelled gun – the original of which had been designed to clear an enemy ship's rigging of musket-armed crewmen - now had thirty barrels, which would fire simultaneously, singly, or in bursts of three. And so it went: Preston’s M16 rifle doubled as grenade launcher, laser, machine-gun, and mortar. For Hanno, however, a sword remained a sword. Except his could also deliver a 24,000-volt shock, sufficient to knock a healthy man to the ground.

In fact, all firearms carried a non-lethal option. A Taser, a Tasp, a foam-shot, an anaesthetic round..

Of course, thought Crayne. After all, we don’t really want to hurt anyone, do we?

Each man was given a back-pack, an 8 kilogram shoulder-carried pack which was, in effect, a mini-factory. A tiny fusion reactor within the pack ran the converter. The only raw materials it needed were a couple of kilograms of soil, and the pack would fabricate ammunition and LoP, the liquid propellant all firearms used. The propellant-injector takes information from the weapon’s sights, and provides exactly the right amount of oomph to get the projectile lethally to target, and on target. The packs would also convert any vegetable matter into a nutritious and tasty meal, and would churn out medi-packs as needed.

Each pack and weapon is voice activated: something it takes the Sleepers some time to accustom themselves to. Each weapon was slaved to its owner – Blunt could not fire Whistler’s rifle, and Whistler could not fire anything other than his own weapons. This design feature was to have disastrous consequences later.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The last days...

A short blog, today. My ancient Mother rang me just as I was about to start, and kept me umming and erring and yes Mum-ming for 20 minutes. Soh.
I'm into the last few days of my work with the Library... and, if you were thinking of buying me something expensive for Christmas, forget it. I have already been given the most fabulous Christmas gift.
Yes, the two thoughts are connected.
I visited the lovely Mrs Wood and Mrs price today. they're neighbours at a small... well, retirement village is a nice name for it. It's a place where old people end up when they have no money, but plenty of faculties.
These two old things, with barely a razoo (of the brassy variety) between them, still managed to buy a gift for their friendly departing Library guy. Mrs W put it together: a basket, filled with fresh fruit, carefully wrapped in cellophane.
When they gave it to me, a tear slipped down my cheek. I doubt that I've ever received anything half as precious.
Listening to: Elton John & Leon Russell, "Union". I'll need to listen to it a few times, I think: the sum may not be greater than the parts...
Reading: Just finished the Billy Bull book. So - where's the movie?
No Paper Heroes today: I'm on the wrong 'pooter...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LIV

Well, this is the last week of my work with the library. The last week's been hard, saying goodbye to fifty or so of my Little old People, and I don't expect this week to be any easier. In fact, I think it'll be harder: I'm going to be going around all of the rest, some 160 odd people, and making sure they're well-stocked up with books to see them right over the Christmas period.
This has meant that I've been (and am) picking enough books: at an average of around 20 books per person, I'll be picking and selecting over 3,000 books.
It has occurred to me that teaching people to read has lead directly to this problem.
Mind you, if people were illiterate, then I wouldn't have my shiny new job as writer for a new website. So I guess I'll just endure.
Today is also the day I audition for the role of Mister Bennett, in the upcoming production of “Pride and Prejudice”. Wish me luck.
Reading: Guillermoe del Toro (or Billy Bull, as I call him) “The Fall”. The second part of his horror trilogy. This is the way vampires should be: bloody monstrous. None of this namby-pamby Twilight bullshit. These guys are evil. Almost as good as Dan Simmon's mental vampires, in his “Carrion Comfort”, which is the best horror yarn I've read.
Listening to: Doris Day, “16 Most requested Songs”. What a brilliant voice. What fucking dreadful, sexist, misogynistic lyrics. Yet they were seen as love songs. And they are fun...
More "Paper Heroes":
He glanced back at Whistler, and saw that he was being shaken his own bloody memories.

One by one, they woke, and felt at their emotions, like a tongue inspecting a broken tooth. One, however, sat up, stared wildly, shrieked, and fell back, quiet. When Cienwyn got to Paulus’s side, she found he was dead.
A part of her was horrified at the fact, while another part of her exulted in the fact that she had survived, while he had died.
Wormbait, she thought. Loser.
Right and wrong. That’s all there was, in that room on that afternoon. Right and wrong. With no room for anything in between.
Now, days later, Charles was also as unprotected as his charges, and for the first few days he was afraid that he would truly go mad. He had never before experienced an untrammelled emotion. When he accidentally slammed his finger in a drawer the heat of anger that flushed through his body terrified him. He was not alone, however. Cienwyn and Adam were also excited and wondering at then changes. The woman had accepted her new liberties much more easily than the men. Her hair now slashed and spiralled in a maddening exhibition of joy, and her skin-patterns flared and subsided with a feral intensity.

The edged weapons had all been made for the Sleepers from patterns found in restricted history books. The materials were different: instead of iron and steel, mono-molecular buckyball carbon fibre had been utilised. The blades were lighter, sharper, and almost unbreakable. The firearms had also all been taken from old patterns, although some radical changes had been made: Blunt’s old pistol and rifle had been muzzle-loading single-shot weapons, Grey’s Colt .44s had fired six bullets before needing a reload.
Now, with the power of the I-See tapped, all the projectile weapons retained their look and feel, but they had become immeasurably more versatile and accurate. That this made them more lethal was best not dwelt on: the theory was that an accurate weapon could be better used to disable, rather than kill. The designers' embots made that kind of sophistry necessary: Design for lethality, and you would be breaking the code

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yay for the Wikileaker!

If there's a lesson to be learned from the Wikileaks "scandal" of the past few weeks, it's a lesson we old buggers learned a long time ago:
You are under a moral imperitive to not trust your government.
It's nice to find that the diplomats actually forgo diplomatic language when they're talking to their own people back in Head Office. It's nice that, behind the scenes of political niceties, the powers-that-be in such gloriously democratic states as Saudi Arabia enjoy using language like "Cut their heads off - they are vipers" and so on, when referring to other great examples of the democratic process - the Iranians.
It's nice to know that the USA, a country I hold in great admiration, actually does call a spade a spade when it needs to be referred to as such.
But it's also wise to keep in mind that the powerful don't want us - the power-less-  to know they can and do speak openly and honestly between themselves.
Mrs Clinton may have overstepped the mark when she said that these leaked cables (in reality, almost-secure emails) have put peoples' lives at stake. Actually, not being open and honest with the voters is certainly putting lives at risk: the lives of the people at the bottom of the ladders. But she - and all those who deal with the USA - may just have to wake up to the fact that open and honest government does mean just that. They need to trust their voters. The fact that they don't (in fact, they hold us in contempt) is a reflection on us: we haven't demanded their respect.
What I'd like to see is a Wikileak of papers from, say, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and China, and Iran, and Russia, and Liberia and Zimbabwe - all the shining examples of repressive government.

Schoolboy larf of the day: Irene van Dyke, the sumptuously beautiful New Zealand netball goalshoot was talking on the radio today, about emigration from South Africa, training, aging, keeping fit, etc. When asked how she keeps on top of her game, considering her age, she blithley said "My husband nails me every night..."
Snigger. She was innocently meaning that he pushed her hard when she trained in the evening. But when she followed up by talking about getting a knob in her throat... well, I brayed like a schoolboy. And my eyeballs sweated, as well. I mean - she is hot. She meant, by the way, a lump in her throat. Near tears, etc. God, I can't wait 'til I grow up....

Reading: Christopher S Wren, "The Cat Who Covered the Wold".
Listening to: Tori Amos, "From the Choir-Girl Hotel"
Finally - more "Paper Heroes": the problem with the 'pooter has gone away....

He recalled the code he lived by: rigid, unquestioning, black and white, with no room for doubt.

He was snapped to the present by the yawning and stretching of the vast barbarian, the one who claimed to be a king. Grey didn’t trust him: the giant was undisciplined, a ravening animal, even with the embots. The Texan wondered what the Cimmerian would be like without the restraints of the strange machines in his bloodstream. He doubted that anyone could control him.

Hanno stretched, and grinned. He felt whole for the first time in centuries. His mind was filled with blood and flame, images that sustained him, made him strong. His hand itched for the feel of his sword, and his great brass lungs heaved with the desire to do something. Now. No doubts, no room for questions about right and wrong. Whatever Hanno decided was right. That was the way he had lived before, and this was the way he was going to live now. He jumped to his feet, and shouted “Ha!”

And, in so doing, woke Crayne. The Crusader lay still, and interrogated himself. He could hear the whispers again, the constant voice that told him of his weaknesses and faults. His old friend. He shunted the voice aside. He rose, smiling. He was back in charge. The Crusader was here, and he scanned the room, sharp eyes noticing everything: the slow breathing of Blunt and Whistler, and disturbed sleep of John Prester, the twitching of the faces of the woman, Cienwyn, and her brother, Charles. Adam and Paulus lay still. Crayne sub-vocalised “P-See?” and heard its whispering response. His grin was shark-like. Now, he felt alive. Able to decide. And the decisions to be made were simple: right, or wrong. There is nothing in between. But his old whispering friend reminded him that a mistake can be fatal; remember the death of Sparrow? He shunted the thought aside: with time and inclination, he could rule this world.

Two sets of eyes snapped open: Blunt, and Whistler. Instinctively, they turned to each other, looking over each other’s shoulder, checking for danger behind. Blunt smiled, a wolf’s grin, and held out his hand. “I think we’re back in action, Sean.”

“Aye, Andy. God and St. Patrick preserve us, but you’re right.”

Blunt looked over at Crayne, his mind filled with images of battles fought long ago. Whistler and he clawing and slashing their way through a French column, snatching their Eagle; clambering over the shattered bodies of the Lost Cause at the breach of Badajoz; plucking a king’s ransom in jewels from the body of the Sultan Tippoo; losing it all to the vagaries of love and chance. He glanced back at Whistler, and saw that he was being shaken his own bloody memories.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Climb Ev'ry Mountain

I’ve been listening to the radio recently. I’ve found it’s safer than watching television. It doesn’t do the blood-pressure things to me, and it doesn’t distract me from the traffic so much when I’m driving.
Anyway. National Radio are doing a reading of an autobiography – of the woman who was the first to climb Mt Cook. She must be older than god, because she’s talking about how she started climbing in the early 1900s.
She faced a lot of challenges, mostly to do with her gender: all the ladies taking the mountain air at The Hermitage in 1903 got a tad tut-tutty when she announced her intention to go and climb a mountain (her first), with a guide… who was a (gasp) man. She ended up having to hire a chaperone.
This is beside the point, though. Yesterday’s chapter gave me one indelible statement, today’s, another. Yesterday’s went: “The moment I made the decision (to climb a mountain), it half frightened me.”
I nearly punched the air in delight (I didn’t, because the windscreen was in the way). I got what she meant, immediately. To make a decision that scares you is so life-affirming.
So, today, she climbed the mountain, and her guide was hugely and happily impressed with her character and abilities. He asked her if it was worth it, and what would she want next? She pointed to Mt Cook, which towered in the middle-distance. “I want to climb Mt Cook next,” she said.
And he said, "No." Instead, he then advised her to build up to it. Not because he didn’t think she could do it. He thought she probably could. But if she did, she wouldn’t have the joy of expectation any more. The slowly building confidence in her own strengths, abilities, knowledge. She’d knock it over, and be exhausted in the doing, and wouldn’t enjoy the achievement. The best achievement is one you’ve earned, he said.
Her reaction? One of joy. She got it.
And she would be the first to pour scorn on such immediate-fame things like “America’s Got Talent”, “Britain’s Got Susan Boyle”, The X-Factor”, and so on and mind-numbingly on. Shows that give people fame and “stardom” in a few short televisual weeks.
It took The Beatles ten years of hard graft before they became an overnight success. And they’ll be remembered a century from today. Alifont Seemore, or whoever it was that won the X Files the other day, will be forgotten before my new packet of Weet Bix is finished. Actually, I've already forgotten him.

Reading: “Dimiter”, William Peter Blatty. Very intriguing.
Listening to: Old 1960s rock - the "Tour of Duty" collection. Cool.
Word / phrase of the day: “The moment I made the decision, it half-frightened me”.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LIII

What have we learned from the recent mining tragedy?
Not a great deal, I'm afraid.
Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people all the time. The news and entertainment departments of our local television channels depend upon that one small fact.
In this case, a bunch of people were going about their ordinary, normally uneventful lives, when something unexpected happened, and they were all killed.
This was,of course, a tragedy, and I feel sorrow for the dead men. Oh. Sorry. My “heart goes out” to the “brave”miners and their “loved ones”.
What followed the explosion at the mine was so predictable. The hyperbole utilised by all news media that I saw was all so dull, plodding, and pedestrian. The victims were immediately elevated into some form of venerated godliness.
Let's take that word “brave”. I didn't bother counting the number of times I read and heard the words “brave miners”, and as I'm numerically a tad illiterate I would have lost count once I got past, say, 3,000 within the first couple of hours. But the use of the word,apart from being infuriatingly dull, is also presumptive. I take nothing away from the men who perished by simply calling them “miners”, or “mineworkers”. I don't know if they were brave. No-one does. I don't know if they were courageous. No-one does.
They were ordinary men, caught up in an extraordinary, and fatal, circumstance. The one miner who did help his workmate out probably deserves the soubriquet “brave”. He at least did something at some risk to himself: he must have been dazed, a little confused, and aware of the peril, yet he struggled to save his comrade. A brave man. The others weren't, as far as we know. They were unfortunate. They were unlucky. They were ordinary. If the initial blast didn't immediately kill them, they quite possibly died alone, in the dark, and terrified. A horrible way to go.
There was another euphemism that was hammered until it whimpered: “Loved One/s”. Sigh. Why can't we just say “family”? This piece of dull-ism started creeping into the common vernacular 30 years ago, when it started becoming socially acceptable (not religiously acceptable,of course) for people to live together in, ahem, sin. The reversed-collar lot ranted on about the “family” baby being tossed out when the marital bath was emptied, and we've all bought into their mindless moralising, and their cheap linguistic tricks.
The 29 victims of the Pike River Mine disaster were all family men. Like all family people, they were liked, loved, laughed at, occasionally despised, loathed, yelled at, laughed with, ignored, neglected, fussed over, celebrated, and so very, very ordinary.
And their families and friends were all the same. For us to carry on hammering away with the trite “loved ones” is to insult and diminish them. They were all so much more than that, because there was little that was extraordinary about them except for the circumstance.
I would really like to see the renewal of that excellent, and workman-like, phrase “family and friends”. The dead men were all family men, and they all had a circle of friends. They also undoubtedly had their detractors. There are few people in the world who are enemy-free. Everyone has done something that's terminally pissed off someone else.
29 ordinary men, caught up in an extraordinary event. Their ordinary families, their ordinary friends. These wonderful, exciting, frail, interesting people. How we diminish them by calling them brave, by turgidly referring to them and theirs as loved ones, by chirpily saying that “our hearts go out to them”.
They deserve so much more of us.

LISTENING TO: Leon Russell and the Shelter People. Best version ever of “It's a Hard Rain Gonna Fall”.
READING: “A Spy's Life”, Henry Porter.
WORD OF THE DAY: Well,phrase, anyway – family and friends.

And, just for laughs, the first bit of my NaNoWriMo effort....


The Land lay before her, and she smiled. The land was fat and virginal, lush with an as-yet unrealised promise. For hundreds of turns she had heard whispers and rumours about The Land, and she had sent out expedition after expedition to find it. They had all returned, whipped by raging Sea and boiling Star, in abject failure. She had Returned the odd Captain as an object lesson to others who may choose to fail in her service, but it was to no avail. The Land remained hidden.

That it existed at all had been a matter of no small debate. The hypothesis was that Homeland needed to be counter-balanced by an as-yet undiscovered continent on the other side of the globe, to ensure Urth's stability. Some time ago in the past, so long ago that it was beyond even the misted memories of Homeland, a great frozen piece of Sky Light had come through the firmament and struck Urth with a blow gigantic enough to make the entire planet tilt crazily, and to make air itself burn. The planet had rung like a bell, tolling for the loss of almost all life Homeland sheltered. Everything had changed in the instant of impact. A great bay, a thousand miles across, had been gouged out of Homeland's side, a blow that was beyond mortal: fire and burning soil reared back up into the sky in a gigantic mushroom-shaped cloud that extended beyond the atmosphere. The oceans were whipped into turmoil, and raced around the planet in a series of crazed waves, hundreds of metres high, smashing and collapsin and raising themselves again to career along in new direction. Homeland's forests burned and then drowned as the comet's trillion tons of fresh water mixed with Urth's mineral-rich waters, and swept across the forests and carefully tilled fields.

But not all life expired. While millions of sea-creatures were boiled as the top hundred metres of Ocean boiled, the great cloak of water was deep enough to preserve the majority of creatures that knew Ocean as their Home. And although Homeland was stripped to bedrock over most of its surface, small enclaves of green survived, and with them – People.

Miraculously, the City of Asgarrin, which had been home to almost 20,000 People, was untouched by the fire. Its People almost all died during the Frozen Years, when Homeland lay under a mile-thick blanket of ice and snow. Asgarrin itself was buried, a city preserved by a billions tonnes of frozen water, and would have been scraped off Homeland's surface had the ice moved: but it didn't. Over the course of just twenty years the ice melted, and Asgarrin felt the gentle warmth that came from Star.

The tiny blue world carried on its never-ending circle around its yellow star. It was the third planet out from the sun, and it danced its astral gavotte at precisely the best distance from the Star to sustain life. Hundreds of years past, and life returned in abundance. Thick forests grew, supporting a great abundance of living things. But things were not the same, and how could they be? People still existed, but they had been knocked back to early Stone Age. Small troupes of them hopped and walked through the empty streets and boulevards of Asgarrin, marvelling at the god-like architecture. Mighty buildings, some rearing up to stand four,or even five, stories above Urth's sacred soil. The structures seemed to be a light as gossamer, as delicate as a spider's web – yet they were made from a curious stone that was clear and clean, and almost indestructibly hard. The People kept the forest away from Asgarrin, and they kept its streets and building clean, pure – and empty. Asgarrin was a city of ghosts, of ancient memory. In every new generation of People, a select few were chosen to enter the city to try and unlock its eternal mysteries.

Sigreen was one such. Her plumage showed her classic lineage: her feathers were a deep, glossy, blue. Her eyes were red, and her beak yellow. Her breed of people had been blessed with the Holy Wishbone, which enabled them to walk, unlike the Browns, who were doomed to a lifetime of hopping.

Homeland People had lost the ability to fly many hundreds of thousands of years before, as their bodies grew to accommodate their brains. Kept in an egg-shaped container deep within the great birds breasts, the People's brains weighed as much as three kilograms, and were marvels of nature's bounty. There were hundreds of different kinds of People: hoppers, walkers, long and short-necked, long and short-legged, plumage that varied from deep black to vibrant greens, purples, pinks, reds. Some People had tails that could be spread in a fabulous arc dotted with eye-shapes. While some People were night-walkers, most preferred the day. Some ate of the fruit of the Forest, some lived off the fruits of the Ocean. Their were soil-workers, those who cultivated the great fields of cereals and seeds, the sprawling orchards whose fruit was grown and preserved for the difficult winter months. The 'al-Gulls were experimenting with fish-farms, while others were developing worm farms.

Sigreen's tribe had led the People back from the brink of extinction when all had seemed lost. It was they who had initiated the storage of foods, who had helped People mend their broken limbs, who had made the fire that kept them all alive in the snow-blasted years. It was Sigreen's ancestors who had started the first farms, who had shown them all that they could live, could survive, even in the worst of times. They had chivvied, they had inspired, they had bullied, they had provided all People with hope.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LII

Hi chaps. As a few have noticed, I've not been posting my thrice-weekly musing of late. Sorry about that, but I won't be posting much for the next month or so, either.
I'm fulfilling my New Year's resolution: NaNoWriMo. That's shortspeak for (Inter)National Novel Writing Month.
The challenge is to write a novel in a month. November. Well, it'd be a short novel - between 30 and 50 thousand words. This has required a certain amount of preparation, and shallow thinking. As I've never been renowned for being a deep thinker, this is handy.
Anyway, I'm well into the job. As you can imagine, however, even writing a thousand words a day is a trying and tiring thing. Thankfully, for a good part of the day I usually have time to think and plan that day's writing.
And it's fun: the pressure of it is, anyway.
So that's what I'm upto. I'll try to post a blog or two during NaNoWriMo month, but shan't make any promises.
Oh - and I'm auditioning for a part in "Pride and Prejudice". No, not Mt Darcy, who is an insufferable creep anyway. It's the lovely Mr Bennett that I wanna be. Auditions aren't'til December 5: wish me well.
Love you all.
READING: Yes, I am reading. Did tyou think I'd give that up, too? may as well exoect me to stop breathing... anyway: "Dies The Fire", S.M. Stirling. Sort of SciFi / apocalyptic fable. Actually, it's working rather well.
LISTENING TO: "Stand Up", Jethro bTull.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Power to the people means more than 240 volts AC.

To paraphrase the Bible: whither thou goest, I shall go.

First there’s America. Uncle Barry’s boys in the West Wing got the printing presses going, and gave the banker-wankers a couple of trillion bucks to bail them out of the trouble they’d gotten themselves into by having Bush and his bully-boys give them a couple of trillion dollars to they could ease up and regulations and oh god it’s all so circular.
Suffice to say, Bazza McBama now been stymied by the Republicans, and soon won’t be able to do a damn thing.
The only way out for America now is for the nation to get together, roll up their collective sleeves, and innovate. They’re good at that. They need each and every American worker to start working and producing good stuff, at such a rate that one American worker produces what it takes 20 Chinese workers to produce. Then they’ll be in a position to compete.
Unfortunately, America has trained vast swathes of its population how to sit on their arses while other vast swathes of Americans serve them a Starbucks coffee.
New Zealand took note, and followed suit, by bailing out inefficient and potentially crooked finance companies, while also amalgamating Auckland’s nine cities / boroughs into one. They obviously took a long right-wing look at what was happening, and understood that competition doesn’t always make for efficiencies and higher productivity. John Key wittered on endlessly about how his biggest priority is to get Newzillind wages and salaries equal to Australia’s – and then promptly looked for new and more efficient ways of making more Newzillinders unemployed. Yeah, John. That’ll work.
And in the UK a right-wing gummint (as Johnkey would say) has upped and fired 490,000 public servants… while the so-called public-sector has no way of employing them.
There is no protection for the worker any more. There is no government for the people, by the people, of the people. There is government for the corporations, by the corporations, of the corporations.
We, the little fellows who do the work of production, of support, and of paying for the corporate structures, and who are also the ones who make them work.... well, we're are allowed to think we have some say. In New Zealand there’s a charade every 3 years. In America they vote incessantly. In Britain, it’s once every five years.
And each vote that’s cast – it doesn’t matter for whom – turns around kicks the voter in the teeth.
We need to find a way back from the Reaganite / Thatcherite / Rogergnomic “market forces” ideology, and start slapping some people protections into the law. What American corporations and banks have done over the past 20 years is almost evil. And people like Johnkey are tiny little minions of the devil. Greed ain’t good, Gordon Gecko. And I’m tired of being made to play in your sandpit

re porn: read this -

Reading: Celtika, Robert Holdstock. pretty good so far.
Listening to: Jeff Beck. Again. Over and over.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chi, Chi,Chi, le,le,le

What an extraordinary bunch of men. The story of the Chilean (and one Bolivian) miners who survived a mine collapse has entranced the world. Humanity put on its best face: the Chilean President, beset with all manner of problems - mainly financial, and mainly not of Chile's own doing (look to Wall Street, brother) - stepped up and put his credibility on the line when he said that rescue efforts must carry on..
And his gamble paid off. After seventeen days, contact was made with the missing men, and there had been no fatalities. There were 33 of them, trapped 700 metres underground.
You'll know the story. Today was the day they winched the last miner to safety. The Chileans called in nhelp from around the globe: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, South Africa. NASA stepped in, with boundless generosity and expertise.
I was thrilled by the whole story. Of course, god got a lot of the credit for the hard work and ingenuity of everyone who gave of themselves for the rescue, and that in its own small way is a measure of the humility, dignity, grace, and nobility of humankind.
And already the unimaginative media are already getting it wrong. I heard the miners today described as "celebrities". They are, of course, nothing of the kind. They are miners. They're certainly famous.Made so by the circumstances they found themselves in. But in a day when a celebrity is someone with falsely white teeth, perfectly botoxed skin, and a photogenic backside, these men are so much more than mere celebrities.
They were also described, mistakenly in my opinion, as "heroes". Brave, yes. Resourceful, definitely. Tough - without a doubt. But heroes? No. They've done nothing more ( and what a nothing it is! Brava! Brava!) than to survive in conditions that would kill or cripple - physically and/or mentally - most other people. They are, folks, survivors.
They have, by their forebearance, fortitude, courage, resourcefulness, patience, good will, and trust in their fellow humans, set an example that the rest of the world should take note of, and try to emulate.
Unfortunately, in these days of ten-minute wonders, their story and example will be brushed off our screens and front pages by the ongoing antics of parasites and wastrels such as Paris Hilton and Simon Carrow (Calloow?)... oh, whatsisname.
For two months, humanity glowed. Would that the glow could be fanned into a fire that would light our way to understanding what we could acheive if we would just set our minds to it. 
READING: Scott Turow, "Ordinary Heroes". So far, so good. Also Joe Haldeman, "Starbound".
LISTENING TO: Rodrigo e Gabriela, "11-11"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I've Learnt Lately...

I went to meet a new client today. He was, as it happens, an Indian. Very thick accent, in the early stages of dementia, and only ten years older than me. Dementia may be striking him (and his family), but he still speaks (and reads) three languages.
He was seated in front of the big screen tele when his daughter invited me in. He was cross legged, wearing a pair of what looked to be superbly comfortable light cotton pants... and an All Black shirt.
Even before I'd met him, I'd responded to his daughter's "G'day, how's it going, want a cup a tea?" with the thought that here was someone who could end up as Governor General, or Prime Minister, or or whatever in this rather fabulous little country of ours.
If I hear Paul Henry's name once more, I'm going to be physically sick. His nasty little comments should be allowed to fade like an old stain. So, of course, should he. But he won't. One of our three nation-wide radio networks will snap him up. Actually, one wouldn't touch him with a well disinfected syringe. But then, Radio New Zealand National doesn't depend on "fame" to sell its programmes. They rely on quality, and intelligence.
Another thing I learnt: that TVNZ is a disgrace. Its glorious leader Rick Ellis hinted that they might have made a move toward getting rid of PH, because they were starting to lose advertising revenue. Not because it was the right ethical choice to make, but because they might lose some dollars.
A couple of weeks back I hinted that I'd been starting to think about the nature of love. Watch this space, I said.
First observation - and yes, it's taken me a couple of weeks to reduce this to something that I can state with confidence:
The fact that I love someone should in no way impact on their decision making process.
It's taken me a long time to learn that. I have, in the past, sincerely (and stupidly) said things along the lines of "But you can't do that to me. I love you..." and "Come on, do this for me. After all, I love you.."
Hmm. Nope. Doesn't work like that. Love gives. it doesn't take.
Leonard Cohen has it absolutely bang-on: There ain't no cure for love. I've come to understand that, too. I love my Jenny more than life itself - and that has given me the strength of heart to love others. Properly, with no demands, no requirement that the love be returned. Just knowing that such a love is possible, and that I have it within me, is extraordinarily liberating. 
I shall share more thoughts when I can be little more coherent...
READING: "The Boys" Comic-book series, by Garth Ennis. very, very good.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck. Again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We've been together a long time...

It's been forty years that we've spent together, but I'm afraid our ways must part. Over the past four decades there've been times that you've been so very, very good. It's been especially noticeable when times have been bad: they've perversely been your best times. But those worst of times, the times that really inspired you to go further than anyone could have expected or demanded, have spoilt the good times.
You see, I look on you now, when times aren't so bad, and you simply disappoint me. You're striving for mediocrity - or, even worse, you're mugging for the cheap seats.
I'm really not all that nostalgic for the so-called good old days. Really, when I compare the capabilities you had then with what you're able to do now, I shake my head in wonder. You had so little, and you did so much with it. I recall thinking that if you could do that now, what would you be able to do in the 21st century? Well, it seems that all you've been able to do is put pearls on a dung-beetle.
I guess the rot set in when you changed your religion. You used to worship at the altar of Story, of Substance, of Truth, of Veracity - of Responsibility. You looked at what you had to do, and you worked so hard to do it well, assuming that I was a trusted friend, someone with intelligence and wit, someone who was worthy of your respect.
Then you were tempted by the glittery idols of popularity, fame, and celebrity. You saw the cover of the Women's Weekly, and its siren-call brought you too close to the hidden reefs of of the slum-lords. You stopped working for Story and Substance, and allowed yourself to be seduced by the Strumpet of "Success". You looked at me, and were disappointed in me, because I remained wedded to the idea that you were so much better. You sold me out for a mess of pottage, and, in doing so - you broke my heart.
And so, TV1 and TV3 News, it is sayonara. When you stopped having confidence in my ability to think and analyse, when you took away from me the strong meat and drink of real news and demonstrated your total contempt for me by serving up self-congratulatory pabulums that included inanities and jovialities and non-stories about television shows that your light-entertainment department were screening later that night.. well, that's when I knew that our marriage was over.
What hurts is that, just a month ago, you showed me how capable you were of acheiving true excellence. The coverage you both gave me of the Christchurch earthquake showed me you're still capable.
But you mopped the sweat from your brow, and got back to the real world of entertainment of joviality.
So, it's goodbye. Don't feel too bad. I feel that some of the fault lies with me: I forgot to demand more of you. I'll invite you in occasionally in the future. Nostalgia will demand it of me. But we'll never be close again. Not even good friends.
READING: Joe Haldeman, "Old Twentieth". Again, sci-fi the way it should be. Demanding.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck, "Emotion and Commotion". Bloody hell. He is beyond brilliant.
Still having trouble connecting to the WiFi with the baby 'pooter - and, as that's the one I have "Heroes" on, I'm afraid that's where it stays. bummer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is That All There Is?

There are a lot of talented New Zealanders. It seems to me that we may, in fact, be over-burdened with talent. I’m quite sure that we have more World Champions per square metre than pretty well anywhere else in the world. Minor and major sports are well-represented by New Zealanders. Anything from Synchronised Drowning to Golf has seen a Kiwi at the top of the pile. Well, golf not so much.

Academically, we do all right, as well. We’ve a few Nobel Prize-winners on our honours board, the world wouldn’t have heard Neil Armstrong saying “One small step for Mother Goose” if it hadn’t been for a Kiwi, and Stephen Hawking would be just another guy in a wheel-chair if it hadn’t been for a New Zealander doing some pretty impressive stuff with a slide rule in the 1950s.

Our farmers are better than world-class: the rest of the world wants their farmers to be New Zealand-class. Our pollution rates are right up there, and we are world-beaters when it comes to making dumb investments in dodgy finance companies. Some of our writers have been feted around the globe, and some of them have even sold a copy or two of their books. Our film-makers take $NZ15, and turn out something that Hollywood could only achieve by tossing a lot of zeroes around.

Our politicians are as good – and as venal – as anyone anywhere else can boast. Our women are better looking, our men are sensitive and caring, and all our children are above average.

So how is it we promote the likes of Paul Henry to demi-god status, and put up with his ignorant behaviour? The man is a racist, sexist, bigoted creep. And ordinary New Zealanders are applauding his filthy mouth and degraded mind.

If Paul Henry is all there is that TV has to offer then we need to take a long hard look at ourselves. A self-referential poll on Stuff shows us that there are more people who consider he’s done nothing wrong than there are people who think he should be fired. It’s not an accurate poll.. but it’s an indication of just how this tiny nation’s standards have fallen.

We can do better than Paul Henry. It’s about time we actually did do better.
READING: "the messiah Of Morris Avenue". Tony Hendra. If there has been a book published in the past ten years that might help me give a nod to Jesus Christ, this might be it. Not in an "I believe in god' way, but in a "Yeah. He had the goods." way.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Beck. "Emotion & Commotion". Holy crap! He has the goods, orright....
No "Paper Heroes". Strange things going on with baby 'pooter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LII

Yesterday was almost perfect. I say "almost", because the one person who would have brought it to a nadir of excellence was at work. I really missed Jenny's presence.
My niece (the self-same one who had been tossed around so much in the Christchurch 'quake) came and visited me. She arrived with her extraordinary daughter, and new "friend". Interesting euphemism.
It's always a fine thing to be in the same room as Meagan: she has a way of sharing her smile that is truly enriching. And her daughter has the same gift: they're both people who genuinely fill a room with light.
I made scones for the visitation. Yum. I wonder why the Americans call them "biscuits" - it seems odd. Not all Americans, of course: many know the scone by that name, but they pronounce it with a long O. Of course, when you look at the word, that's the way it should be pronounced: single vowel, consonant, end letter E. Plane, bone, meme: the vowel preceding the consonant is lengthened by the E at the end. So, yes, SCONE should rhyme with BONE. Bit it just doesn't.
This is how prejudice works. SCONE has always been pronounced SKONN, so that's the way it should always be. People with a different skin colour aren't as (insert adjective here) as me, and that's the way it will always be. Trivial, pre-known "facts" are always correct, because we've never really thought about them. Where is Socrates when you need him?!
So, next time I hear someone blither on with an unthinking pre-judged theme, I'll kick myself with a SCONE, and not a SKONN. Anything that helps me think twice about what I'm saying.
A beautiful Sunday, today. We're going visiting Jenny's sons for lunch. Maybe I'll whip up another batch of scones.
Actually, thinking of this reminds me that I once made some pikelets for the guys at the office. A young South African called them pancakes. I mean - really.
Meagan's visit, and a chance observation at the supermarket, have got me thining about the nature of love. I have some more cogitating to do - watch this space. I have an awful feeling I may be finally growing up.
Listening to: Sinead O'Connor, "The Lion and the Cobra".
Reading: "North Korea", by photographer "Philippe Chancel. Stunning. Horrifying. I've finally got to the end of "A Madness of Angels". A little suspension of disbelief is required (something all fiction readers should find easily) - and, voila, we have the foundations of an entirely new urban mythology. Excellent. Really, really excellent.
More "Paper Heroes":
“In bringing us back to life with this handicap,” said Crayne, “you’ve effectively crippled us. You might just as well have held a gun to our heads and blown our brains out.”

Charles was rocked back on his heels by the argument. The horror that these man wanted: the freedom to rage, the liberty to allow hot anger to course in their veins. Add to that the accusation that he, Charles Windsor, had visited violence upon them! Despite his own truncated embot programming, the horror engulfed him. Charles, turned, walked away, close to vomiting. That someone should accuse him of bringing harm to another human by omission or commission was unthinkable. He leaned against the wall, weakly, and waited for his own embots to bring order to his thoughts, for them to bring his body chemistry back to normal levels. Within a minute, the adrenalin had been neutralised, and in that minute he had made his decision. He sub-vocalised to his I-See, which responded that to have their systems stripped of embots would require a two hour visit to The White Room. His I-See also suggested that Sleepers’ cats should also be made embot-free, as Prester had demanded.

Then, because he had never been either a stupid or unfair man, he had his own embots fully de-commissioned. If he was to fully understand his charges, he must be as like them as possible.

Two hours in the White Room. A lifetime. Everything changed. They had all moved into the room with some trepidation, but the embots had soothed them. As one, they lay on the floor, and were raised on the force-field. A musical tone sounded, and they all instantly fell asleep.

Grey, the cowboy, was the first to stir. He was the smallest of the six Sleepers, and he hopped down from the invisible bed.

Memories flooded back to him: gunfights in Laredo and Tombstone, killings on the range, fighting with the Confederate cavalry in the War Between the States . His mind was filled with images of the hard labour of the cow-trail, riding herd on thousands of longhorn cattle trampling through the dust, the constant dust, to the beef-hungry greenhorns in the East. He recalled the code he lived by: rigid, unquestioning, black and white, with no room for doubt.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


We were chatting, the lovely Jenny and I, about the strange things that are appearing on the nation's television sets; There's a programme coming up that's based on the marvellous idea of getting someone at work to walk about naked. Oh, the drama! LOL. Oh, the pathos! OMG. Oh, for Pete's sake. GOS.*
Reality TV, when it first struck the airwaves, was an awful dive into voyeurism, and I wondered whether it could possibly get any worse. I thought, at the time, that it would never descend to - say - live autopsies (on air now), nor nakedness at (insert location here). I'm waiting for the Naked Flying Nuns. Seriously. They'll be young, beautiful, with pert, upright breasts, and twins. OMG. Experimenting with holy water and oil. LOL.
*GOS - Grumpy Old Shit.
This descent into soft porn (and you'll have some idea of my opinion re porn - see ) is inevitable, pernicious, and nasty. I can't help but think, LOL, that reality TV is related, in many ways, to the social networking sites on the internet. I use Facebook purely for lettiong people know that I've just scribbled a new Blog, or to have a quick look to see if any of my friends (ahem) are doing anything interesting. There does seem to me to be a lot of one-line shrieks, usually accompanied by LOL and OMG (but hardly ever GOS). I'm curiously amused by the fact that LOL gets tossed in where it seems grossly inappropriate: "Ur pregnint?!?!! LOL!!!!!". Or "I woke next to a complete stranger this morning LOL!!!"
But the thing with the social networks and the bubblebums on reality TV is this: they are a form of validation for the individuals who use them. I Facebook / Twitter /Mysppace, therefore I am.  Scuzzy people are on the tele, and they're like me, so it's like I'm on the tele LOL OMG, it's me, it's me.
Meanwhile, Michael Hooper, the Commonwealth Games honcho, has been living in Delhi for the past three years, with the games Federation paying up to $NZ36,000 a month rental for the small farm he's been living on. Fair enough, that's what was agreed. He also has six staff at his home, who are being paid, allup, $NZ1100 a month. Yep, less than $NZ200 each. Nothing to LOL about there. But I was tempted to say OMG, and fuck. Yes, it's probably the going rate. It's also immoral that he should be looked after to the tune of $36,000 a month rent, plus his salary, plus car, etc - and pay his staff an amount that would be regarded as criminal at home. The man is a disgrace to this country.
Reading: Still on the same book: been busy.
Listening to: Julian Lloyd Weber, "Unexpected Songs". LO - oh, fuck it.
More "Paper Heroes":
Hadn’t he taken them from the barbarity of their own time, and shown them what mankind had achieved in the past few hundred years?

Crayne slapped the table, stood, and went to the window, looking at the city that sat so smugly under the sunshine, and in the benign shadow of twenty dormant volcanoes. His frustration was palpable – and then it went away. And a part of him knew that he should be angry about that, too, but he just couldn’t be. He turned, and said “But we have no anger, Charles. You people have completely misunderstood the emotions that once motivated us, once drove us. We need anger. We need fear. We need all those so-called negative emotions to function. We need to be cruel, Charles. We can contemplate the thought of violence, but we are at one step removed from it. Violence is to us exactly what it is to you, Charles: a theory, rather than a reality. I – we – don’t know that we can be motivated to bring real harm to another. The embots you have given us have crippled us, and we need to be set free. We can’t fight coldly. Have these embots re-programmed.”

“Better yet,” growled Blunt, “remove them. The marvel of your nanobots is good: but the ones that censor my thoughts must go. Remove them, man. Otherwise we are as much use to you as one of your so-called normal citizens.”

“In bringing us back to life with this handicap,” said Crayne, “you’ve effectively crippled us. You might just as well have held a gun to our heads and blown our brains out.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


There. Right on tele, he said it: "If this legislation passes, entire stretches of beach may be..."
It doesn't matter what these entire stretches of beach may or may not be. I just want to know what, exactly, is an entire stretch of beach?
Is it 20 centimetres? That's a stretch, for a 4 centimetre piece of string. Is it a metre? Is it 20, or 2,000 kilometres?
I am, very soon, going to stop watching television news. It aggranoys me, and make my arthritis hurt.

I've just spent two hours writing a speech. That's enough writing.
READING: Kate Griffin's "A Madness of Angels". It is very, very good.
LISTENING TO: Well, The Killers "Sawdust", The Beatles "Abbey Road", and Iron Butterfly "Inna Gadda Da Vida". The last one left me wondering why I ever gave up doing drugs. Oh, yes: being able to think.
More "Paper Heroes":
“What do you mean?”

Blunt picked up the attack. “There have been two more attacks since we wakened, Charles. Tens of thousands dead in Brazil, and St. Petersburg has practically ceased to exist. A hundred thousand dead.”
“And yet I see no fear on the streets. No major concern. Many look to us as their salvation, but with no urgency. Because while the threat is real, no-one is taking it seriously. They can't. Your people are not affected by the threat: on the tri-vid shows I see men and women discussing the deaths, looking concerned, and then, in the next breath, telling of a kitten caught in a drainpipe. At least someone was capable of being able to rationalise that you needed help, and did what was necessary: brought us back into being. But here’s the problem: like your people, we Sleepers have no fear. Charles, I know that the nanobots we have will allow us more freedom than we enjoyed in a previous time: they’ll heal wounds faster, ensure we won’t get ill from drinking bad water, and yes, we can and do contemplate killing and destruction.”
“That’s what we decided.” Charles was genuinely puzzled. What was it these people wanted from him? Hadn’t he given them life? Hadn’t he given them fame? Hadn’t he taken them from the barbarity of their own time, and shown them what mankind had achieved in the past few hundred years?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sunday Scribbles LI

The fifty-first Sunday Scribbles. This means I've been writing this blog for over a year (I didn't start the Sunday Scribbles straight away, and there have been a couple of Sundays when stale alcohol in my system has completely precluded any sort of writing).
Hmm. I must go back and see if I've actually written anything of worth. Probably not, I suspect.
My website is.. a failure. I was confident that if I armed myself with a book written for ten-year-olds, I'd be able to get a website up and running. Sigh. I was hopelessly over-confident. I followed the instructions to the letter, yet it still didn't happen that way it was supposed to.
Speaking of alcohol: I camew home from work on thursday, to find my wife sitting down with a G&T in her hand, and a bottle of single malt Scotch on the coffee table. I was astounded - I thought we must have won Lotto, or something. It turns out it was an "or something". Something that was equally as good as a Lotto win: my brother had come visiting. He's had a tough year in Seoul, and had flown home on a surprise trip / holiday.
Woo Hoo. On the first day of daylight saving, the sun is shining. Today, I'll be going for a long walk. Yay. So very happy to be living in Auckland when the sun is shining.
Reading: Two books: "A Madness of Anfels", Kate Griffin. This is fecking superb - a supernatural yarn that's worth reading. Also a Robert Ryan book, "Empire of Sand", about T.E. Lawrence. Also excellent. I made emntion that I had started "The Eight". Well, it started superbly, but got bogged down in turgid prose.
Listening to: A lot of Leonard Cohen, because he's coming to NZ again. Which of course reminds me of my Father, who died the night I was to have been going to see the lovely Leonard last year.
Miss you, Dad.
More "Paper Heroes":
‘Merika is the modern world’s Mordor, with the modern world itself one great Shire, basking in the sunshine.

Hanno the Barbarian in particular has become a major celebrity in Auckland, and indeed around the Commonwealth. His great height and musculature, his plaited moustaches, his three swords, his swaggering gait, and the huge animal pleasure he takes from life have all combined to make him the symbol of the six Sleepers, and he has revelled in his role.

But it was immediately obvious to Charles and Blunt that changes must be made if the heroes were to take the mission that they’d been revived for. After the first week Blunt and Crayne had requested an urgent strategic meeting with Charles.

“You’ve placed restrictions on us, Charles.” Blunt, as true to his name as ever, spoke plainly. “And we can’t contemplate the mission until you withdraw them.”

“Restrictions?” Charles’ voice buzzed with impatience. “There are no restrictions. You are free to come and go, to see whom you like, to talk with anyone you want. In no way have we – have I - restricted you.”

“You’ve brought us to life again,” Crayne insisted. “But not to the life we had. You placed your embots into our veins, and they are changing us. I understand that emotionally you are ‘bot free.”

“No,” Charles replied. Then he sighed, and carried on “Yes. I have a greater freedom than most. My embots have been modified, reprogrammed. It is difficult, you understand. I have feelings and dreams that I don’t understand,” he murmured. His voice grew low, almost whispering. Blunt and Crayne were not at all surprised that they could hear him clearly. Their eyesight, sense of smell, and hearing had been powerfully enhanced. Blunt had a vague memory of constant tinnitus, caused by the close-range gunfire he had heard through much of his adult life. It was now little more than a buzzing memory.

Charles continued: “But we – the Commonwealth – realised that we couldn’t have been defended without a few people like us. You realise, don’t you, that I and my colleagues are all clinically insane?”

“That notion in itself is madness,” Thomas Crayne replied. “The fact that you consider yourself insane, I mean. You’re more than capable of rational decision-making.” He stopped, rallied himself, and went on, calmly: “The problem is this: you’ve not given us the same privilege. When we awoke in your white room, woke to the noise and terror, we were more ourselves than we are now. Just a few weeks back, when we were wakened, the embots weren’t effective. You’ll recall the time Grey and Hanno had their little altercation? It can’t happen now.”

“Well, of course not. You men are to be a team. Getting angry with each other will accomplish nothing,” said Charles, wondering where the conversation was going.

Crayne barked a laugh, and insisted “Your embots have stopped us feeling. Look at Hanno: frolicking in the sunshine with children instead of honing his weapon skills. Blunt and I are cruising, taking life easy. And you: so proud of your insanity that you’re worse than we are! It astonishes me that you managed to bring us to you!”

“What do you mean?”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


We've received our voting papers in the mail. We now have the ability and duty to vote for a Mayor for the newly-created so-called Supercity, and a whole bunch of Councillors.
The problem is this: the mayoralty is pretty much a two horse race - Banks or Brown. Neither horse is at all desirable. I'll vote for Brown, because the thought of Banks getting in just makes me want to vomit. But it's a vote against Banks, not a vote for Brown.
See - neither is a visonary. Banks has a billboard saying "Vote for him, and he'll get the job done". But nowhere have a found anything that tells me what he thinks the job actually is. Brown is just as coy: "Come on, Auckland. It's your turn". My turn for what? A dose of the clap? For a rich a-hole in a suit to make me redundant... again?
So Brown's getting my vote because a: he's not Banks; and b: he's apparently a left-winger, as opposed to Banks' ardent right-wing politics. But he's a poor choice.

Had friends around for lunch on Sunday: the gorgeous Jo and the splendid Marty. Great beer (Harrington's, from Christchurch. Quite possibly the best beer being brewed in NZ), excellent wine - all NZ, of course. Average food. I tried a new chicken dish, and it didn't co-operate with me. Lesson One: never try a new dish when you're having friends around.

Listening to: Well, as Metallica are rocking in Christchurch this evening, and donating a bunch of tickets to people who've worked hard with the earthquake crisis, I thought I should be listening to something loud. I have no Metallica! So - I've settled on Neil Worboys and the Real Time Liners, "Day to Day". Great Kiwi blues.
Reading: Katherine Neville, "The Eight". Yes - the one that was a huge hit in 1988. OK, so I'm a wee bit slow in grabbing hold of a trend, but there you go. I'm really liking it, too.
More "Paper Heroes":
to thrill at the sudden explosions of steam, to shriek in horror and concern at the occasional dead, floating fish.

Planet Earth has been tamed, and much of it has been returned to wilderness. The seas are filling again with great schools of cod, snapper, and tuna. The whales, majestically arrogant, bring their calves in for their nanobots, and sharks still cruise, happily cruel, while keeping a wary eye out for marauding dolphins. There are few mysteries left for mankind to ponder. Nearby space is now well travelled: there is talk of sending a manned vehicle to Alpha Centauri, to follow up the astonishingly loud microwave signals recently detected there. There was, it seemed, intelligent life that used Alpha Centauri as a way-station as they went about an interminably long voyage.

Closer to home, sub-orbital craft carry people around the world, above the troposphere, at speeds in excess of Mach 6.

It’s a rare passenger who gazes from his window onto the blankness of ‘Merika, and doesn’t experience a delicious momentary thrill of excitement.

What’s happening there? Why is the continent so dark, so blank? As called for so many decades ago, the Commonwealth’s back has been turned on ‘Merika. Little or no intelligence gathering has been made. Satellite inspection has been forbidden – an embargo that has come under great pressure since the dying began. ‘Merika is the modern world’s Mordor, with the modern world itself one great Shire, basking in the sunshine.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunday Scribbles L

So. The criminal leader of a multi-national crminal gang is in Britain. The British tax-payers, most of whom are neither criminal nor Catholic, are being hit with a major bill for hosting the filth-encrusted old reprobate. They have to, apparently, becausde it's always a good idea, politically, to grovel before superstitious fraudsters.
Not that the leader of any church has to be superstitious. It probably pays if they're not. let's face it: if they actually believed the swill they spout, their consciences wouldn't allow them to carry on pulling the metaphysical wool over the eyes of their flocks.
Have you noticed how many religionists insist on referring to their followers as a "flock"? As in sheep? As in ineffably stupid creatures that will follow any leader, yea, even unto the slaughter-house? To be fleeced?
I had to laugh, though. The evil old child-rape / child-porn conspirator had the unmitigated revisionist gall to say that Britain had led the fight against the Nazis, who, he claimed, had tried to drive God from Europe.
Well, Britain did lead the fight against the Nazis. He got that right. What he didn't say was that the Nazis operated with the full and unstinting support of the Vatican... led by its infallible Pope.
I acknowledge there were a few Catholic priests, bishops, and nuns who defied the Nazi hierarchy, and the dictates that came from Rome. But they were notable for their scarcity. The churches could have defeated the Nazis. Instead, they either cowered in their musty corners, acknowledging that their god was powerless, or gave wholehearted support to the machinery of evil.... thereby proving that their god had no power.
The sooner the civilised, pluralistic world withdraws its recognition of the Vatican City as a sovereign nation the better. Then the Italian Police can take Ratzinger off to face a jury, and let the sword of blind justice cut where it may. Actually, we should all simply refuse to recognise any theocracy as a sovereign nation. Be interesting to see where Israel falls on that.....
Have I mentioned, by the way, that I'm not a fan of the Pope? Or of organised religion?
Listening to: Jethro Tull, "This Was". The second album I ever bought.
Reading: Kage Baker, "Not Less Than Gods". Nice - steam-punk meets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Which was steam-punk anyway, but I hope you get the idea.
Link to follow:
More "Paper Heroes":
It was thought that a 500 year life expectancy would soon be attainable.

Of course, the spasms of death and madness had lowered the average figure. But, somehow, it was easy to not dwell on that.

For a people who have allowed their emotions and thoughts to be policed by molecule-sized machines, suicide is often the last shout of individuality and rebellion. Naturally, assisted suicide is an impossibility: to do harm to another is so taboo that the embots rarely have to intervene.

The six Sleepers are charmed by the city. The air is fresh and clean, the streets and boulevards wide, clean, and uncluttered; the shops offer mysterious goods and products; and the twin harbours sparkle under the spring sunshine. Yachts and powered pleasure craft tack and turn lackadaisically, cars, buses, and transport trucks flit by almost soundlessly, small aircraft hum quietly across the clear skies.

There are few buildings taller than five levels. One, an ancient communications tower in the city’s centre, is being refurbished with an artificial skin of monomolecular carbon: a suit of diamond. In the harbour, Rangitoto, a managed volcano, vents steam and lava continually. The island volcano had wakened less than 150 years ago, causing a minor flurry of excitement: some windows had cracked with the initial earth tremors, and it had taken the local authorities more than five years to bring the situation under control. Now, of course, it is totally safe, and absolutely predictable. People come from around the world to see the lava pouring into the harbour’s blue waters, to thrill at the sudden explosions of steam, to shriek in horror and concern at the occasional dead, floating fish.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Promiscuity,pornography, and pootling

It used to worry me. I thought for a long time that my attitudes toward porn and promiscuity were simply a reflection of my age.
But I read in Slate that I’m not alone. I am coming to understand that an awful lot of young(er) people believe / think as I do – that people who bonk around are morally and emotionally suspect, and that people who consume porn have the emotional attention-span of a mollusc. I do not understand how or why porn became so pervasive, so accepted (and acceptable)… so bloody middle-class. I do not, by the way, blame the internet. That’d be like blaming a shovel for the fact that the grave is too shallow.
The articles I’ve read, however, use woolly phrases like “people who hook up too much..”. They don’t actually define how much is too much. I presume it’s people who hook up more than they do. I know that I, with deep envy, frowned upon those men who bonked more women than I did. Before I turned twenty, that was any guy who’d had bonked as many as one woman, of course.
But I digress, with self-deprecation.
With the passing of a few months I hope I have gained a little more perspective. I can certainly look back on my own life, and quite honestly state that I regret bonking some women. And as I’ve never bonked a man, and am never likely to, I don’t have that to worry about. But on those introspective moments – generally when I hit Upper Harbour Drive on the way to and from work – when the mind slips back a decade or four, and one starts evaluating decisions that one has made, then I start to think I owe an awful lot of apologies to an awful lot of people.
Starting, of course, with myself. If I hadn’t in initially looked upon my former wife with lust, and actually got to know her instead, then I would never have married her. Or, if I had gotten to know her and still married her, the marriage might well have turned out differently: like ending after two years, instead of ten…
But it must be said that my times of tom-catting about left me as emotionally fulfilled as a Westlife album. I’m very thankful that the odd occasion when I actually did stop to listen with my big head, I made friendships (with real live women) that have lasted until the present day, and will, I hope, last until the day I get fed to the fishes.
We’re blasted by TV programs that sing the praises of casual sex, and that accept the fact that people (men, mainly) consume porn just as I consume corn-flakes. But I am, at heart, a monogamous type of guy, and I always have been - and I think I do understand what Jimmy Carter meant when he confessed that he had lusted in his heart. Porn, promiscuity, and pootling about: it’s not for me, and never really has been.
Ah, maturity. I’ll get the hang of it one day.
Listening to: Enigma, "MCMXC A.D." Interesting. Not to damn it with faint praise/// but, yes, it's interesting.
Reading: Actually, re-reading; Nelson de Mille's "Word of Honour".
More "Paper Heroes":

The Equus had some time to pass, so he stood, stretched, and said, “Woman! Where is Woman? Have her sent to me.”
Chapter Eleven.

3.38pm, Pacific Time, November 26th, 2386.
Twenty days had passed since the trip into downtown Auckland. The six men had been as much a curiosity to the local people as they had found their surroundings unbalancing. Auckland is one of the Commonwealth’s Great Cities and, with a population of a little over three quarters of a million souls, is also one of the largest.

Over the centuries cities had become largely irrelevant. With the advent of the P-See / I-See instant communication, computing, and information systems, the de-centralising of bureaucracies, the easy and immediate availability of almost free domestic and industrial energy, and the absence of borders and artificial barriers to trade and travel, humanity’s societal needs had also changed. Wealth had seen the human population plummet from nearly 8 billion in the 22nd century to just under 3 billion now, and it was still slowly falling. Statisticians had forecast that the world’s population – discounting ‘Merika – would stabilise at 1.5 billion in 150 years.

As it is now, in 2386, there is no poverty in the Commonwealth. Nanotechnology has meant that the average life expectancy is now close to 120 years: the most common causes of death for the aged are now suicide and accident. Many citizens of the Commonwealth lived to 180 years. It was thought that a 500 year life expectancy would soon be attainable.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Industry, and the Mayor

A short blog today. I'm off to a Mayoral Reception this evening, so will not have the time (or sobriety) to do my usual Tuesday blog. I'm also knocking these few paragraphs off on my PC, rather than my laptop, so there'll be no Paper Heroes.
I'm a little weary of businesses calling themselves an industry when they don't make anything. The real estate "industry". The banking "industry". The retail "industry". These are businesses.
An industry is a business that makes stuff. That produces something tangible. The fruit canning industry. The plastics industry. the firstry industry. The agricultural industry. They make stuff. Tangible stuff. The real estate people make nothing, except for money and victims. Ditto for finance and banking. Retailers make nothing. They sell the products of industry.
The mayoral reception this evening has a lot to do with politicking, and a little to do with the show I was in recently. Yes, the acting industry. Mayor Andy wants to show his appreciation to a few dozen voters for the cultural values we bring to the city. Sigh. Free beer, though. Driving, though.
Listening to: nothing, right now. Humming Nina Simone.
Reading: Ken MacLeod's "newton's wake". Good like anything, so far.