Thursday, December 17, 2009
However, I don't see anything at all wrong with being good stewards of the environment over which we have dominion. I'm not against caring for the environment with reasonable measures but I am against the hysteria of fear campaigns. The last one was the fabricated terrorist threat, but don't get me started on that.
So it is that I read with interest Clover Moore's article on her attendance at a meeting of 80 mayors at the Copenhagen climate change festival. These mayors represent roughly 700 million people from across the globe and they call themselves the C40 group. In a short space of time the mayors have apparently reached "extraordinary consensus on what needs to be done" to combat climate change. David Miller who is chair of C40 and the mayor of Toronto, Canada said in his closing speech at the conference, “Mayors from cities all over the world gathered here in Copenhagen to show that we are on the frontline of climate change. While climate change demands global action, we have shown that we are not waiting for others to act."
The Climate Summit for Mayors sounds like where the real action is happening in Copenhagen. So what's happening at the main event? At the international level? With all those world leaders and environment ministers? Absolutely nothing. They can't even agree on what to have for lunch.
Australia's Prime Minister,Kevin Rudd is an environmental champion and is urging the leaders of the world to action. Using strong emotive language and references to clear consciences and the future for our children and grandchildren, he called on the summit to reach a "grand bargain" on climate change. But even as he delivered this plea the mood is souring and hopes are dimming in Copenhagen. Although trying to remain positive, Mr Rudd said, "I fear a triumph of inaction over action."
Bottom line? We have a useless committee meeting going on in Copenhagen. I am mystified as to why the C40 group of mayors has achieved consensus and are already taking action while the main event is fizzling into embarrassing torpor.
The truth of the matter is that no matter what they say, nations always act, and have always acted in their own national interests and where mega amounts of money are involved, compromise is asphyxiated.
MARIAN WILKINSON ENVIRONMENT EDITOR (Sydney Morning Herald)
December 18, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The event gets talked about and heavily publicized every year so naturally it prospers in the fertilizer of notoriety.It looks like such fun, doesn't it? Makes you wish you were a teenager again so you could spend a whole week drunk and dancing. Throw in the absence of parents and a bit of sex and you are in Heaven. No wonder non school leavers, go to schoolies as well. No wonder it's such a popular event. Thousands of teenagers just having fun.
I want to be a part of that fun. I want to get so drunk that I spend an hour vomiting. I want be smashed so the next day I can't remember what I did the night before. It will be great when someone tells me how I humiliated myself by not being able to stand up. At least they might be able to help me explain the injuries I sustained. I want to spend the night with some girl who is too intoxicated to remember the word 'no.' That would be awesome. I want the alcohol to take away my inhibitions so I can show everyone my penis, and then I can abuse the policemen who try to get me to pull my pants up. Yeah, I'd love to give the cops the finger and abuse them for trying to interfere with my fun.
I want to be so rotten that I fall over and hit my head on the footpath. If I bleed a lot, I'll get loads of sympathy and have a great story to tell in the accident and emergency department at the hospital.If I drink enough, I might even fall into a coma. How cool would that be? Better still, if I drown in alcohol and then go swimming, I could drown in the ocean. Unreal!
I'm not a wowser, and I do drink alcohol in moderation, but none of the above is what I would call a good time. I can actually enjoy myself without alcohol. That was my idea of a fun when I was 16 but Jesus rescued me from that dead end self destructive way of life when I was young. Who is going to rescue our young people before they make the biggest mistake of their lives, or die, or kill someone else? If you think I'm exaggerating, check out the statistics.
Or just laugh it off, and have another drink. That's the Australian way.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Think back about a hundred years. In 1909, were people saying that the next year was going to be one thousand nine hundred and ten? No they weren't. They said nineteen ten.
So, next year is twenty ten. That's logical right? Stop saying it the wrong way. You too Prime Minister Rudd. You talked about the twenty twenty summit so why are you saying two thousand and ten. It's wrong. Stop it.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I'm reading a book called "A World Without Heroes" written by George Roche. It's a book of philosophy, if you like that sort of thing, from a Christian point of view. I happen to agree with the author's world view for the most part until he comes up with stuff like this;
Talking about modern music, "...the jungle throb and infected themes of rock (music)..." So we know he doesn't like rock music and then this, "The simplest, most accurate statement of our arts is that we no longer have any. Virtually all of our best theatrical repertoire, our art, our music, our ballet, our architecture, our sculpture, our literature, is a century old and often far older...we make no art. We make daubs and junk and boxy buildings and screeches." I don't have time or space to quote more extensively, but how about this to finish, "the ghastly sounds which bombard us in this music starved age."
Let's focus on music. Many people think that the only good music is the music they like. A radio announcer I regularly listen to, always talks about how they don't make music like they used to in the 1960s and 70s. Nobody writes great songs anymore apparently. Some people enjoy listening to opera which is often sung in a foreign language and then bag heavy metal music because they say you can't understand what they are singing about. Other people criticize heavy metal because they say its monotonous but they get off on dance music. Can you tell I'm a heavy metal fan?
Bruce Dickinson is lead singer of the hugely successful heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. Bruce has arguably one of the finest voices in his genre. A classically trained opera singer who according to some cultural snobs probably crossed over to the dark side when he joined Iron Maiden. Some of the world's finest musicians, singers and songwriters have entertained us through heavy metal music.
Anyway, this was not intended to be a defense of heavy metal.
The high culture/low culture divide is an artificial distinction. Why should ballet be considered high culture and breakdancing low. Why should classical music be above rock music? Why should so called literary writing be deemed superior to so called pulp fiction? I do not accept Roche's assertion that good art, in all its forms is no longer being produced. That modern art, music and literature is rubbish. The question of what makes good art, is and always has been entirely subjective, and its not determined by popularity contests either.
Only God knows how much time we have left but I reckon Metallica's song Enter Sandman is a classic and perhaps in the future it will be recognized more widely as such. On par with Beethoven's 5th.
I guess the point of this rambling, disorganized babble is that I believe you don't have to like something to recognize that it is good, (in other words that someone else likes it.)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Turning around quickly she said, ‘Hush, where’s your father?’
‘Swimming in the living room. You don’t mind if we talk, do you?’
‘No,’ she said, smiling, ‘I kind of like it. It must be such fun for you to be able to voice with your friends at school.’
He scratched his nose and played with the buttons of his shirt. ‘That’s what I wanted to ask you about actually.’
Sensing the serious tone in her son’s voice, 2 rotated her hoverchair to face him.
‘Has dad said anything about our school being closed down?’
‘He,’ she hesitated, and 3 noticed her uncertainty, ‘He says it’s almost a done deal. He’s been pushing hard for years now and has finally gathered enough support among the other councilors to go ahead. Of course he is the education minister.’
Keeping his eyes fixed on the liquid floor, 3 felt a surge of anger in his veins and his head began to ache again. ‘It’s not fair, mum. It’s just not fair.’
Wisely, his mother tried a change of subject to attempt to calm him, ‘What about your dream? Did you want to tell me about it?’ she said. But he turned abruptly and left the room talking to himself. She tried to project a warning to him to stop voicing, but he was so angry she could not penetrate his thoughts.
In the bathroom, 3 looked at his image in the mirror and cursed. His head, a little large for his body, its shape oval yet triangular, narrowing at the forehead. Eyes wide-spaced, under no eyebrows and long lashes, nose flattened, mouth too wide. As far as Newtonians could be attractive he probably looked all right, but how would any girl ever find him attractive? How would a particular Adonite girl desire this ugliness? If he was to be forced into single tribe education then it probably wouldn’t matter anymore. Obviously looks would play no part in the partnering of Newtonians, but he desperately wanted to stay in mixed schooling. Of course there was no hope of him ever partnering with a girl from another tribe but so much of a teenage boy’s world was fantasy, and 3 was no different. He burned with passion for his friend, the goddess, Veena.
If the rulers of our world: the governments and leaders of business and science knew that the world was going to end, what would they do? Even with gazillions of dollars, pounds, yen or whatever, could they save everyone? Would they try to save everyone? If they chose to only save a limited number of people, how would they decide who lived and died? Would they have the right to make such decisions? Think about. Suppose it was your decision.
2012 is very entertaining and despite the restricted script, the characters are likeable and show enough of themselves to engender genuine concern for their welfare. The unpredictability of their fate is breathtaking. The special effects are truly overwhelming to the extent that in some scenes there is no way to humanly process the bombardment of audio visual input. There is just too much going on.
Finally there are the acts of heroism. Selfless and self sacrificing acts. Motivated by some instinct to risk one's own life to try to save another person. Acts of love. Deeds which prove the existence of a loving God who created us to care for and about each another.
2012. Don't wait too long to see it or you may run out of time.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
In New South Wales, Australia, the Pharmacy Guild funds a needle syringe exchange program for injecting drug users. It provides a free exchange service for users of heroin. The rationale for this program is two fold. Firstly, it is designed to ensure that as many used syringes as possible are disposed of safely, and secondly, it aims to help stop the spread of infectious diseases among users. This program is largely unknown outside the ranks of chemists and drug users. Heroin itself has a fairly low profile these days. It is not fashionable: either for drug users or for media reporters. It is however still an illegal substance and there are heavy penalties for possession, use, and especially for trafficking. The question is why. Why have illicit drugs been demonised?
Is it because they cause people to act in an anti social manner? Is it because they damage people's health? Is it because, people commit crimes under the influence of drugs? Is it because of the violence that is associated with them? The answer to all those questions is yes, but how does that differ from the negative effects of alcohol abuse?
I'll tell you how it differs. Alcohol is much much worse. Although a legal and socially acceptable drug, it is a violent, and indiscriminate killer. Alcohol abuse is a rampant disease in our society. It is an evil curse.
Why don't we just allow people to use whatever substances they want? Almost everyone has something they use to dull the pain of past hurts, the weight of current expectations or the darkness of hopeless futures. If nobody else gets hurt, what's wrong with that? Could all the time, money and effort expended on the war against illegal drugs be better spent?
I heard about his guy named Norm Stamper who was a cop for 34 years and served as Seattle's Chief of Police from 1994-2000. He has written a book called Breaking Rank. He believes the war on drugs in the United States has done exactly the opposite for the people. He says, "tens of thousands of otherwise innocent Americans incarcerated, many for 20 years, some for life; families ripped apart; drug traffickers and blameless bystanders shot dead on city streets; narcotics officers assassinated here and abroad, with prosecutors, judges, and elected officials in Latin America gunned down for their courageous stands against the cartels; and all those dollars spent on federal, state, and local cops, courts, prosecutors, prisons, probation, parole, and pee-in-the-bottle programs. Even federal aid to bribe distant nations to stop feeding our habit."
This is typical of a society which has lost the ability to wisely choose which battles to fight, and which ones to walk way from. The situation in Australia is not as bad as that in the U.S. but surely we don't want to follow their lead.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Ironically that is part of the problem I want to write about. I spend a lot of time deep in thought. You could describe me as introspective but that is only one piece of the puzzle that is me. I also ponder other people and other situations. I analyze and mentally investigate life, and the way people interact with it and with each other. It's entirely possible that I spend too much time thinking but that is not a flaw or an excuse for inaction. It is merely a product of my life. I have time to think, so I do.
When I returned to work from long service leave, I realized that I had become excessively results driven. Overly achievement oriented. That is not necessarily a bad thing unless any lack of success, either perceived or actual, begins to cripple you and deter you from action. I am not easily put off. If I believe something is worth pursuing then I invest in the chase. I run. I hunt. Stubborn resolve comes easily to me but I am not very single minded. Sometimes I want the gold without having to dig for it.
People who achieve success in their chosen endeavours are single minded. They make tremendous sacrifices to get the results they want. Consider the discipline required by elite athletes. They compete to win and that takes dedication and discipline. It also takes confidence and ability and for most, assistance of some sort. Take these five ingredients and combine them in a bowl. Forty minutes in the oven and you have a Victory Cake. As a beaten egg binds the other ingredients of a regular edible cake together, so does single mindedness bind the ingredients of the Victory Cake. I want to eat the Victory Cake but soomtimes I can't be bothered following the recipe.
That's why I am not very successful. Even as I write this I am thinking about other things that I should be doing. The laundry, for example, is a short walk from me and at the end of a typically busy week for my family, is in desperate need of attention. It's messed up. Thinking about that makes it hard for me to write this because I am not totally focussed on the task.
The Struggle Within is the battle that rages constantly in my mind between what I am doing and what I would either like to be doing, or what I should be doing. It is also the fight between what I am thinking about and what I should be thinking about. I am acutely aware of this conflict and it is not an imagined one. It is real, and it is really tiring.
The funny thing is, I like the way I operate because I think it demonstrates balance. I am not so completely intent on any one thing that other important things in my life get ignored. I take care of my responsibilities before I pamper to my sensibilities. I do the 'have-to' before the 'want to'. Business before pleasure. Duty before delight. Work comes before play.
And now I come at long last to the point. I have a dream: a fantasy which involves the abolition of the distinctions mentioned above. In the film Parenthood, Karen and Gill Buckman have a heated argument one afternoon when she reveals she's pregnant with their fourth child and he announces that he has quit his job. Finally he says he has to go and take his son to baseball practice. The discussion has resolved nothing, achieved nothing except to get both Karen and Gill even more upset than they were, so she wants him to stay and talk some more. She wants to sort it out. It's important to her and its important to Gill also but he has something else important to do. A competing responsibility. Gill says 'I have to go.' Karen replies with a question, 'Do you have to?' Gill says, 'My whole life is have to.'
There it is. My whole life is 'have to'. I sqeeze in a few 'want tos' here and there but I am driven by my responsibilities. For me this is a huge problem because I am not enjoying it. I don't want to ditch my responsibilities but I would like to enjoy them more. I wouldn't mind having some fun.
The solution is simple, at least theoretically. I must convert all the 'have tos' in my life into 'want tos'. That is my dream: the obliteration of the division between what I have to do and what I want to do. I don't even know if it's possible but I'm going to try.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Serena swore at and threatened this woman who was simply doing her job. It was a high pressure moment. There was a lot at stake. She lost her head. Wow, she's human. Her brain explosion happened on television but most of us have ours in relative obscurity.
I once verbally wrestled with a bus driver on a taxi rank. As I wasn't having a profitable day, and his tone of voice was antagonistic, I decided to return serve. Never mind that I was in the wrong, having parked too close to the corner and made it difficult, not impossible but difficult for him to turn the corner. He yelled at me so I lost it. The audience for my tantrum was a little smaller than Serena's but I still embarrassed myself, as did Serena.
Even the great man, Roger Federer, was caught chucking an oral wobbly on television. Four letter words flew from the mouth of Mr. Nice Guy. It's true, I saw it! In the heat of the moment, he lost control.
Kanye West apparently lost control of his senses at the VMAs. He made more enemies than Hitler when he humiliated Taylor Swift on stage by interrupting her acceptance speech. So he thought Beyonce's music video was better than Taylor's. We all have opinions Kanye, but there is a right time and place to express them. He apologised later but the damage had been done.
Serena apologised to the lineswoman but the damage has been done. She said she didn't threaten to kill her but the proposed trajectory of a certain tennis ball would almost certainly have fatally interfered with the breathing of the lineswoman.
The big question now is whether the reputations of these stars will recover following their "errors of judgement". Of course they will. Everyone gets emotionally disturbed by these childish peformances but we've all done the same thing, so of course we'll get over it. We'll still watch Serena play and we'll still listen to Kanye's music. Life goes on.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I want to focus my attention, and I could have picked anything, on movies. Recently I had the opportunity to watch a number of movies over a relatively short period of time. Ordinarily I can squeeze in one movie a week, maybe two if I can survive the sleepys which hit me around 10pm each night. Over the past seven weeks I've probably watched around 30 films. There were a few good ones, four out of five on my ratings scale, but most were pretty average and some were just bad. According to me.
A question arose in my thinking: what makes a good movie? Are there any objective criteria by which you can measure the value of a film? Surely, it's all a matter of opinion. Whichever way you look at it, whatever measure you use, in the end it's still entirely subjective.
Is the acting convincing? Is the script realistic? Is it clever? Is the plot interesting?Is it believable? Is the cinematography of a high standard? The sound? The music? The special effects? The idea, the concept? Does it work at different levels? Does it have both style and substance? Opinions. That's all.
What makes a film good? It's a personal thing. If you like it, it's good. If you don't, it sucks. If you like a movie you can talk about any of those things in the previous paragraph as reasons why you think the film is good but in reality it is some enigmatic combination of components which strikes a chord with you. It makes you feel something. There has to be some sort of emotional connection to the film, especially with the characters.
If you feel something as a result of watching the film, then it doesn't really matter what other people think. Not alleged movie experts nor your friends. You like it because it moved you in some way; scared you, inspired you, disturbed you, saddened you or made you laugh. Empathy with the characters is the ultimate criteria. Not the Academy awards, not the IMDB rankings, not the mega bucks it made, or didn't make, at the box office, nor how many of your friends like it.
You like it because you like it. You have an opinion. It's not fact. Ben Hur is my favourite movie. It won a cabinet full of Oscars including best picture but that doesn't mean it's a good film. Millions of people have seen it but they doesn't make it good. Even if ninety percent of them liked it, it's still only their opinion. The saying 'it's bigger than Ben Hur' entered our collective lexicon to say how awesome and amazing something is but that doesn't mean Ben Hur is a good film.
Apart from the scale of Ben Hur, the history and the terrific saga of the lead character played by Charlton Heston, I love this film because of the way it portrays Jesus Christ. Now if you're not into Jesus like I am, then that probably means nothing to you and that is my point.
Discussing movies is fun, and so is reading reviews and lists but let's remember that we aren't dealing with facts, no matter how many people may otherwise assert.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
This story strikes again at the very core of our society's value system. In a world which is drowning in the quicksand of relative morality, one man's sin is a beacon of light which shines on him and away from us. Exposing his misdeeds while leaving ours in the shadows of our private lives. Rare indeed is the person who does not misbehave, or make poor choices or sin - whatever word or phrase you choose to describe it. Less rare is the person with a high public profile who falls and has to suffer the embarrassment of everyone knowing about it.
What bothers us most about this story? The woman involved in the affair with Della Bosca which ended only weeks ago, shared her thoughts on the issue with the Daily Telegraph.
"It is about the character of a man who is supposed to represent the values of the community and who is constantly talking about wanting to be the premier. If he is capable of lying to his wife and children - and John really does love his sons - and of manipulating a woman into believing he actually loves her, then why wouldn't he do that in other aspects of his life and career?"The woman accepts responsibilty for her part in the affair but in order to avoid being called a hypocrite has not criticised the Minister for his role. She seems to not think the affair was wrong. It's the deception that bothers her. Being lied to and manipulated is what troubles her more than the fact that she willingly participated in a sexual liason with a married man.
If the affair had continued, or if it had turned out the way she wanted it to, would she have gone public? Probably not. Nobody confesses until they get sprung. We all think we can get away with doing the wrong thing, deluding ourselves, and justifying our actions until we get found out and then we admit that we made poor choices.
Although it sounds terribly lame to accompany an admission of guilt with the the words, "I made a mistake", it is actually a valid argument. Very few people deliberately set out to do wrong, to break the law either in a legal or a moral sense. However, most of us have been guilty of making poor decisions and choices have consequences. Choices always have consequences.
The consequences of John Della Bosca's actions are painfully obvious so maybe taking some medicine is exactly what he needs. How about a dose of grace and forgiveness?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
At the other end of crazy, is the story of Portsmouth serial menace to society, David Moore, who has collected 103 driving offenses including nine counts of driving under the influence and 24 convictions for driving while banned. He was sentenced to just six months in jail because that's the maximum penalty available under the law.
Some people tell you that everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. They say that morality is universal. Even allowing for the extreme nature of these cases, it doesn't require Einstein's intellect to figure out that something has gone wrong with human notions of decent behavior and justice. Rational people gasp in astonishment when they hear of this madness, but rational people made these laws and rational people imposed the sentences. Are we all mental?
Western laws are based on the Ten Commandments while Islamic Law is obviously based on the Quran. Very nice ideals are presented in these great books but perhaps they are too hard to attain, too much for mere mortals to achieve. Somewhere along the line, the theory of justice has been flushed down a toilet of relative morality. The practice of justice can be a truly terrible thing in the hands of fragile fallen humanity.
Friday, August 21, 2009
If you see it with your own eyes, is it true? Hear it with your own ears? What if your senses deceive you? How can you know for sure? Maybe somebody else saw it. Is one witness enough to convince you? How many would be enough to prove it? What about the credibility of the witnesses? Do you believe them? Do you trust them? Do others trust them too? Who is right and who is wrong?
Answer all these questions, then tell me if you know everything. You don't know everything, so some things which you don't know are possible, aren't they?
What's on the other side? I don't know because I've never been there but I do know what I believe is there and my faith gives me strength.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Put simply it's all to do with priorities. The things people are passionate about and into which they pour themselves. Most of us are devoted disciples of someone or something despite protestations about how independent and clever we are. There is no such thing as a self made man or woman. To make such a claim about yourself is extreme arrogance. But I digress.
The things we care most about are the things into which we invest most of our resources; time, money and skills.They are our first choice topics of conversation and the things which aggressively occupy our thoughts.
Somethings in this world are worth that investment. Others are not. The problem with the world is that too many people are throwing themselves into worthless and trivial pursuits. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against trivial pursuits. I surf the World Wide Web for at least some part of every day of my life. I listen to Heavy Metal and I watch cricket and sitcoms but would I die to save Heavy Metal? Would I cry, or worse kill myself if my favorite band split up? If my favorite TV show was pulled off air? Am I disturbed to the point of insomnia that T20 cricket is perceived by some as threat to Test cricket? Would I slash my wrists if I lost my internet connection?
Bring it closer to home. Does it matter if my wife can't bring herself to park the car in the garage? That my teenage son's idea of cleaning his room is to toss all his clothes into the wardrobe and shut the door? That my daughter would rather stand in a dark corner of the living room than sit at her well lit desk to do her homework?
In the song, While You Were Sleeping,Casting Crowns says, "we are sung to sleep by philosophies of save the trees and kill the children." Get the point? While I know that millions of children are being abused and exploited in the most horrific ways imaginable, I can't bring myself to give two hoots about the death of a whale and if someone wants to chop down some trees, well good luck to them.
What matters to you, and what should really matter to you?
Friday, June 5, 2009
I am starting a new organization which will change the world. Slight exaggeration. It is called P.A.S.S. It stands for People Against Subversive Semantics.
Join me in this fight. Submit examples of word abuse and we, as members of P.A.S.S. will battle this insidious evil together.
There are 3 categories of word abuse. 1. An oxymoron is a union of words which contradict each other. For example 'gay marriage' is an oxymoron because the definition of a marriage is a legal and spiritual union between a man and a woman. 2. Devolution. (the name of my novel) This is where words have their meanings changed or have meanings added. E.g.. 'Wicked' now means 'good'. 3.Newspeak. Borrowing from Orwell's 1984, this is where new words are invented to obscure the true meaning in order to deceive people. For example 'downsizing'.
The war is on. Enlist today.
We can't blame our own teams for their performances. If we lose it's always the referees fault. Everyone knows that.
Furthermore they take too long to make decisions. Endless replays from all different angles, slow mo, super slow mo, forwards, backwards...yawn. Players waiting, fans waiting...yawn. If we aren't careful we'll turn our great game of rugby league into an altogether beast like the NFL.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
We have the strictest road rules in the world and courtesy of a small population, our boys in blue have a relatively successful time nabbing offenders. Backed by expensive and powerful advertising campaigns, our laws cover every conceivable aspect of driving and road usage. I am committing a crime when I drive 50kph in a school zone and also when I fail to ensure that all my passengers are wearing seatbelts.
These laws are all for our benefit. They are intended to keep us all safe.
Are you a a wrongdoer when you do wrong, or only when you get caught doing wrong?