Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Lame and Cheesey Blog about Friendship

I recently posted a facetious remark on Facebook in which I lamented the amount of work it takes to develop and maintain a good friendship. In all seriousness, I think it is the effort which makes a genuine friendship such a rare and special commodity.

Last night I had dinner with three old friends. We have decades of shared history under our belts. Although we see each other much less frequently than we used to, there is no doubt in my mind that my relationship with each of these three guys will last all of our days on Earth.  I love them, and I appreciate their friendship more than words can say.These friendships are among the greatest gifts I have been given.

Over dinner, we talked about intimacy, and what a blessing it is to have someone with whom you can be open and honest. We agreed that it is a great privilege to have someone share their heart with you, and that such privilege comes with great responsibility. We also discussed the deep need that everyone has for this kind of emotional intimacy, and how frequently physical intimacy is used as a cheap substitute.

Why do we need to be close to people? Why do we hunger and thirst for good relationships? Why is intimacy so important to us? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Photograph source:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

EOFY Top 5 books

Most people do these kinds of lists at the end of the calendar year but I have a strange fascination with a new advertising phenomenon called End Of Financial Year (EOFY) marketing. Consumers are being urged to grab bargains before the end of the financial year because...there won't be any good deals available in the new financial year. It used to only apply to vehicles and the businesses who bought them in order to write off the purchase for taxation purposes. Now everyone's getting in on the act. Nevertheless, I digress.

I review most books that I read unless they are "bad". If I like it I review it. I review on Goodreads  and on purchase sites where applicable. Sometimes, I post reviews here on Square Pegs as well. I rarely award five stars and it is equally rare for me to not finish a book or, having managed to finish one I didn't really like, to not review it. Writers have a much different appreciation for books. I'm fussy in the sense that I am hard to impress, but not picky when it comes to what I read. I'll give just about anything a go, and I'll do so with an open mind.

What makes a "good" book for me, and I suspect for most serious readers, is emotional connection to at least one of the characters. If I don't care, the best a writer can hope for from me is three out of five. If it makes me laugh or cry, if it makes me lose track of time, if I re read a line or a paragraph because it was so good, if it teaches or inspires me, if it challenges me, if it speaks to me about we're talking. All of this is entirely subjective of course, and the interesting thing is that the book does not have to be especially well written, although strangely all of the books I give high ratings to are, in my opinion, very well written.

Without further ado, here are, in no particular order, the top 5 books that I read this financial year.

1. Above his Station by Darren Craske
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
4. No Regrets: A Rock and Roll Memoir by Ace Frehley
5. The Gallant (vol. 8 of The Australians) by William Stuart Long

What is the best book you have read this financial year? What makes a book 'good" ?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Most Persecuted Woman in Australia

Julia Gillard 2010.jpgSadly the level of politcal debate in Australia, and the quality of politicians and media represenatives involved in that debate hit an all time low this week. The lack of respect shown for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has been appalling. From having her body parts described in a derogatory fashion as items on a menu for a Liberal party function, to being asked if her partner was gay because they aren't married and he's a hairdresser, Julia Gillard has been treated disgracefully. Where is the respect for the leader of our nation?

Unfortunately her whole time in office has been marred by personal attacks on her: trivial comments about her appearance, and vicious, unreasonable assaults on her integrity. Why has it been so intense? Because she is a woman. The media and opposition party led campaign against her has gone into overdrive, machine gunning her credibility. Barring the largest political election day miracle in history, her government will be defeated on September 14.

The media drives the policy agendas of both the government and the opposition, and our politicans pander to their media masters. Policy discussion is characterised by personal attacks, hollow slogans and myopic superficiality. We are suffering from a lack of leadership and a lack of ideas. Or so it appears according to the media reports we hear and read. Our response is disrespect, but when we disrespect others, we disrespect ourselves. The current pathetic state of politics in Australia is our fault as well.

The things people say publicly about our Prime Minister represent an abuse of political freedom. I know it's a colonial thing. Since Governor Arthur Philip first raised the flag in 1788 we've been rebelling against authority. If this week has proved anything to me it is that many Australians are simply dumb convicts who wear their prejudice and ignorance as badges of honour.

How do you feel about personal attacks on the democratically elected leader of your country?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Myth of Innocence

Simon Cramp recovering in hospital after bashing in Sydney CBDThis man's name is Simon. He was in Sydney one Saturday night recently, minding his own business when he was assaulted without provocation by a group of rowdy troublemakers. Simon was found unconscious on George Street in the early hours of the morning, and according to the doctor who treated him, was minutes away from losing his life. He is recovering in hospital.

My 17 year old son and my 15 year old daughter were in Sydney last night. They are responsible, well behaved children, who don't look for trouble and consquently rarely find any of it. But what do you do when trouble finds you? I look at this picture and think it could, but for the grace of God, be my son, or my daughter. They didn't get home last night until after 2am, and my wife and were worried. We had text messages saying they were on their way, to comfort us, but anything could have happened on the one and half hour drive home.They could have become victims. Statistics.

Whether they were innocent or culpable would be a mute point if tragedy struck. Simon was an innocent bystander who was king hit by a stranger. Innocence did not save him, nor would it save my children from harm.

The fact is that we are all guilty. Guilty of something or other, and we all live with guilt. While many deny it, and others struggle with it all their lives, some admit it, confess it and seek help.There is no true innocence in humans. We are stained. There is nothing within us that can remove the impurity, the stench of sin, the burden of guilt. We need a Saviour. Have you met him yet?

Photograph courtesy of  Mitch Gardener via ABC News

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is the universe trying to tell you something?

It's day 4 of my battle with man flu. Despite what the ladies might think, it is an accepted medical fact that men suffer much worse head colds than women. Two days of nausea caused by excessive mucas in the brainbox, and the cough is beginning to wind up. I already bought shares in a tissue company, and my nostrils are red and tender. All this after a fitful 10 hours in bed during which I was subjected to "Chinese burns" to my face all night. I fully expected to be the first recorded case of exploding head due to distressed sinuses.

Not that I'm complaining mind you. I mean I didn't even mention the continual headache, fever and lethargy. I haven't left the house for two days, but I haven't been idle. I've watched episodes of The X-Files and Blue Heelers, done a little housework and written three chapters of my next novel.

People often talk about the universe sending a message through the circumstances in which you find yourself, no matter whether good or bad. Illness may be a sign that I have been working too hard and not getting enough rest. Fiddlesticks! I don't work too hard and I eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest.There are so many bacteria in the air and all around us that even the great naturalist Charles Darwin armed with the latest technology could not catalogue them all with another lifetime to do it in. I caught a cold. Who hasn't?

The only message being broadcast by the universe is of the glory of God who created it, including the damned bacteria and when I get to heaven I'm going to ask Him why. If I remember. I might not care anymore when I see him face to face. What question would you like God to answer?

Photograph sources: