Monday, December 24, 2007

Have a Good Holiday Season, All!

And please, those of you who are actually in a position to have a good holiday, do spare a thought for those who, for whatever reasons, aren't as fortunate as ourselves.

I, for one, even without the thoughts of starving millions and without taking into account the miseries of people I don't know, know of several people who once had 'happy holidays', but who now, through the vicissitudes of random contingency, aren't in any position to enjoy themselves as much as the rest of us. It's even sadder to know that I am in no position to help them in any way whatsoever; and that is heartbreaking.

And, no, this isn't about 'me', because my heartbreak is utterly trivial compared to their misery, the despair they must feel, and the hopelessness that comes with...well, with no hope of it ever getting better, except through death.

And so, when we enjoy the convivial company of those we love and like, let us appreciate it all the more because of those who cannot. Pause to think of them and be grateful--not to some capricious, sick-to-the-core deity who treated you better than the other guy, but because, in the crapshoot of life, you and yours for this time around at least are safe.

Is there anything more important than that?

To my friends around the world, those few I dare call that and among them those who read this blog and therefore this message, please forgive me for not writing the usual cards or even missing out on an email I really should have sent you. It just wasn't, if you'll forgive me the pun, in the cards this year. Our timing was exquisitely out of tune with the festive season. Still, all seems to be turning out well enough, so there's infinitely more to be grateful for than to complain about.

Y'all be well. Y'all be safe. Y'all be happy. And may 2008 be better than 2007 was; how ever 2007 happened to have been to you.

Best wishes. With affection...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Free Stress Test

Wouldn't we all like one of those. And, bingo!, there I'm walking through Brisbane's busy pre-Xmas shopping mall and at the end of it I chance upon not only a Jesus-man with a loudspeaker blaring at his back, explaining why Jesus saves and everything else is meaningless, but also upon a table with two signs proclaiming

Free Stress Test

and at the table two men on chairs, explaining stuff to two other men on two other chairs.

My curiosity was aroused. Then I spotted a bunch of books and some devices with dials, and it all became clear...

For those who haven't figured it out yet, the books were by L Ron Hubbard and the devices were deliberately-retro-style 'E-meters', possibly of the Mark Super VII Quantum type; but I couldn't really tell, what with not being really up-to-date with such things. All I know is that they looked tacky. Surprise.

I fought a battle with myself and lost; or won, depending on how you look at it. The fight was between the me that told itself "who gives a crap; everybody to his own" and the other which wanted to walk up to the table, place a concerned hand on the shoulders of at least one of the wallys sitting there, listening to these Scientology [...deleted because this is a family-blog...], and say something along the line of "hey, man [for they both were men]; do you really want to spend any more of the little time remaining to you in this world [however much time that might be] in the company of this [...deleted because this is a family-blog...]?"

'Indifference Me' won and I walked on. Later, during the next day, I saw a young Asian woman listening to of of them. It seems that women, despite their overall greater social intelligence, are not immune to this kind of thing.

'Indifference Me' will probably continue to prevail, if for no other reason but that I suspect it is indeed pointless to say anything. People will make up their own minds, for whatever reasons, and that's that. And there is an argument, put forward since forever, that it really doesn't matter what people 'believe' and that what matters is whether they are good people or not; and that underneath the layer of beliefs, there lurks the 'real' human being, and that's what matters and never mind if they believe in this god or that, or no gods or God at all, or the galactic warlord or the Great Roach From Beyond the Stars. (Don't ask me where that one came from!)

But, but, but...

Is this really true? That it doesn't matter what people believe, as long as they are good folk. I think I may have touched on this before, but I'm too lazy to check it out; so I'm going to mention it again.

Thing is this. The notion that there is some underlying 'core of humanity' in people that needs to be considered before passing judgment(s) on them because of their, allegedly superficial, beliefs, undoubtedly has merit. This 'core' has been given to us, if you will, because we are who we are and because we have evolved to be who we are. It's a basic part of our makeup and that's probably so obviously true, that it's almost pointless to discuss it.

But the point is also that this 'core' and the energies residing there, the energies that make us 'human'--just like the 'Force' from Star Wars--are essentially neutral. The basic drives for the maintenance of our lives and/or those others we are connected to, plus everything that comes with it...all that just is. It doesn't make for good or bad people. Just like it doesn't make for good or bad apes, or roaches. The built-ins are what they are, and they are intrinsically neutral. I know religioids would have it otherwise, but that's their problem.

What makes us different from just being a bunch of built-ins, what makes us 'human', are precisely those things that the toleration-nazis would want to dismiss as 'superficial': that is, those elements of 'mind' which determine how we act at the level of 'choice'. These elements can almost all be called 'beliefs'; the stuff we hold, implicitly and/or explicitly, to be 'true'. And it is these things that determine our actions, choices, values, and so on. And those in turn are the things that others see and perceive and are affected by. And they are the only clues, evidence we have about the character of others. Everything else is inference. And inference in anything but mathematics and affected sciences has always been a very dicey business.

Beliefs matter. Beliefs are the results of cognitive choices and essential elements in us making yet more choices.

It would be nice to live one's life, wrapped in the comforting cocoon of the notion that 'surface' doesn't matter. But is just isn't true. Just like in, for example, beauty as perceived by the eye, 'superficiality' rules and determines what is what. That's completely opposed to us thinking of it as being something residing 'deep within'.

How can this be? I think the answer may be found in something I mentioned in a blog quite some time ago. Or maybe, just to save you the trouble, it's that we're all like ogres--onions, that is--of the Moebius kind maybe. If that's the case most philosophy of mind of just about all persuasions is just so much deluded bunk.

So, maybe those Scientology idiots are actually in good company. But that doesn't make their beliefs any less ridiculous and obnoxious, and maybe one could argue that by walking past and allowing indifferent-me to win the argument, I also neglected my social responsibility to those souls I saw sitting there, possibly being reeled in by the E-meter operators.

Just one thing: to all of those of you who maybe one day come across one of those stands where they offer you a

Free Stress Test

Nothing is 'free'. Nothing at all. And least of all this offer.

Way I see it is this:

  • Either you're not in the category of people who can be sucked into the Scientological morass. In that case you're just wasting your time; which might be better spend doing something useful, like having good sex.

  • Else you are a potential candidate for becoming a cult member. In that instance, keep walking. For your own sake. Because right now you may still be a properly functioning human being. But make the wrong choice here and that might well be the end of you. Don't get cocky.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Asinine and the Just Plain Weird

Here's a mail-out from a publisher of science fiction and fantasy. The mail-out is done by a marketing manager who has never been strong on either proofing his output, or the contents of what he writes to begin with. I cite an edited excerpt, to protect the guilty. Substitution of content was used where you see CAPITALS IN RED. Otherwise I have left it as it was, weirdo thought-convulsions, phraseology, typos and punctuation-aberrations included. The guy should be dismissed on the spot; or at the very least not be allowed to publish anything, including email-outs, to be seen by a public and potential readership, who surely must feel insulted by receiving this waste-of-bandwidth stuff from someone representing a publisher who prides itself on producing quality SF&F in what's commonly referred-to as 'The English Language'.

It also occurs to me that just because another weirdo, one Al Gore, received a shitload of money and attendant prestige from an obviously equally mentally defunct Nobel Prize selection committee, that should really not be a reason for a literary organization, such as a publisher of perfectly good, readable books, to scramble madly for a place on the Greenie Juggernaut. What QUASIMODO is also neglecting to mention, and probably doesn't even know, are the studies mentioned here, which cast doubt on the simplistic assumptions and action-and-consequences reasoning belabored in the mail-out below.

QUASIMODO here from SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS, are you aware that everyone has what is called a "carbon footprint"?

For SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS, our "carbon footprint" is significantly higher than the average person's. Simply put, SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS prints books and this process uses up trees; this is what most people know. What some people don't know is what SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS plans to do about our "carbon footprint".

SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS is concerned that in a few decades, the trees that we take for granted now may not be able to keep up with the amount of pollution and carbon that we as a society spew into the atmosphere. Each year, Americans use 50 million tons of paper consuming more than 850 million trees (

There are approximately 2,000 trees cut down every day for the use of paper or wood products, therefore the world looses 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists (

Over the next year, SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS is doing our share in rebuilding the forests that are cut down each year. For every tree SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS uses for our books, we are donating a percentage of our sales to plant a new tree(s) to help relieve our "carbon footprint" so that the next generation can breathe clean air, and get the proper medication needed.

SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS will be printing all of our new Spring 2008 titles with an ecofriendly reminder on the first page similar to MAGICIANS OF INSANITY. This is to show that SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS truly cares about our environment. The more SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS books your purchase, the more you help us to save our precious rainforests, forests, and environment.

The "Paper or Plastic Debate" over whether it is better to use paper bags or plastic bags has been in discussion for a long time. Environmentalists have often debated over the correct answer to the "Paper or Plastic Debate", which turns out to be NEITHER! To help the environment, reusable canvas bags are the best solution. They will never have to use energy to be recycled or take up space in a landfill. The next time you buy a book (or two or three) from SUPERDUPERSFPUBLISHERS at a convention, you will receive a canvas bag that can be used and reused so that you too can cut back on your "carbon footprint".

Moving (Part 14 of X): Another Big Step

After 2.5 weeks, finally I have most of the family over here. One daughter remains in the UK, but the other one's over for the holidays and my wife is here to stay. It was an emotional roller-coaster for all of us, methinks; but last night we all managed to sleep in our new 3-months-temporary apartment. Somewhere in Dunedin, NZ, our household goods now rest in storage, awaiting orders to be shipped to wherever; not quite decided yet where and when. We're going to give ourselves a month or two to ponder these things, settle down a bit after the rush, work out our next steps.

One more remaining issue: internet access. Still thinking of going wireless, but need to figure out how to deal with the fact that most wireless broadband schemes have somewhat limited down/upload bandwidth.

Still, apart from such minor issues life will return to some kind of normality, whatever that is. Looking forward to it, actually...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Moving (Part 13 of X): Acquiring A Roof Over The Head

Well, we have one, of course, but a wise man does not encumber his friends for too long, no matter what good and forbearing folk they are—and our friends here have been incredibly accommodating to me and our needs, and have thus made things so much easier.

But with a job and a vehicle and a gazillion administrative details out of the way, it was time to find a roof over the head. How to do this, with our furniture still weeks and months away from getting here? And how to deal with the fact that we are definitely not going to just settle anywhere until we have decided that this is the place to be, whatever 'this place' happens to be, and where and when?

To avoid the need to purchase furniture—yet more, which we really won't need—I ultimately went for a furnished urban apartment in a brand new apartment complex, almost in the heart of Brisbane. Not exactly our usual style of life, but I'm treating this initial phase like an extended working-holiday, until we get some bearings. So we have a 3 month lease to rest for a while after the relocation and get our bearings.

I wonder where we're going to be then...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Moving (Part 12 of X): Acquiring Mobility

Well, we're planning to do a fair bit of traveling and looking around, so I decided to get something decent to do it in.

This our fourth and biggest Subaru. If, as I expect it to, it lives up to our expectations based on its predecessors, it should be with us for quite a few years; especially since the rust that killed the two Subarus before it, is not really an issue here, particularly if we don't intend to use it around beaches or the seaside. Which we don't.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

True Love

Ahh, that should attract the idle surfers of the internet...

Still, the matter is not frivolous, but should be considered with the earnestness due to it, with it being possibly the most important force in the human universe, with its sinister siblings 'hate' and 'indifference' always lurking somewhere near; always waiting to come to the fore.

What brought this one up, just to anticipate a certain friend's and reader's question, are the comments I solicited from some friends of mine: brief vignettes/comments on those books of mine which they have read; purely for my own nefarious purposes, namely to be used as written sound-bites when I get around to updating my webpages. Two replied, and for that I thank them.

Leaving aside the Tethys series, here are snippets from what one of them wrote about...

Continuity Slip

...with Continuity Slip Till gives us a contemporary world setting with 'normal' contemporary characters. The brilliance of this is that the lack of intricate background detail is what makes the story, as the world around the two protagonists [...] changes, the reader is left assured that whatever else is going on, the two 'real' characters are the same 'normal' people that they were presented to us as. As with his other novels Till gives us well realised characters, with realistic relationships and puts them through a variety of situations ranging from car crashes, murder, adultery and true love. A shorter read than Till's other works but very enjoyable.


...a world..with a history spanning back to the Roman Empire, populated by people of various races, creeds and beliefs. An alternate universe, the 'real' universe and the legend of King Arthur are all touched upon in this novel, as well as one of Till's favourite themes, true love. What begins with a helicopter lesson soon becomes a mystical journey, a romance, a pilgrimage and a pulp action adventure before the final confrontation and catharsis.

By way of disclosure it should be mentioned that the author of these comments, as well as another friend of mine, consider Continuity Slip their favorite. An interesting bit of information that I've yet to fully understand. I always considered it a 'lightweight' piece of reading; a vehicle for fictionalizing a notion I developed quite a few years back about the 'multiple universe' view of quantum physics. Definitely a debatable issue, especially as it was represented; but it was fun and easy. Written in a style that included lots, and I mean lots, of quick-exchange dialogue, almost to the extent of making the novel into a story-board for a screenplay; which I might yet tackle one of these days, difficult though it would be to convey the concepts involved. Definitely nothing for those short of attention span or requiring to have everything explained. Still, I am tempted to 'screenplay' this novel one day soon. It shouldn't be too expensive to make, as it would require no special effects of a 'fantasy' nature. And maybe I could scale the big highway car crash down a bit for budgetary reasons. No need to go for the Transformers or The Island extravaganzas; though it would, of course, be good, honest and utterly over-the-top fun! And it would also be a nice crash-bang-boom-whoosh grabber to start off with, after which the apparent action flick would soon turn into a parallel universe murder mystery romance. Works for me, but who else??

Back to the topic at hand:

The writer of the reviews above also did me a major favor—meaning I owe him big-time—by reading
Seladiënna twice; the second time being a proof-read pass where he found some kind of questionable orthographic, grammatical and/or stylistic element on just about every second page. I owe him a great deal for that, because Seladiënna is finally clean enough to be put into wide circulation; which is what I have done.

Anyway, my buddy makes me sound like I could have penned The Princess Bride. Which I didn't, but there's some truth in what he wrote.

Thing is that without whatever 'true love' is, and it has a gamut of possible expressions!, human existence by and large would actually be quite...well, maybe 'dull' isn't quite the word. I was looking more for something like 'colorless'; possibly even 'meaningless', especially for non-religioids like me; and definitely less fun and intense.

Quoting one of the movie's taglines:

Scaling the Cliffs of Insanity; Battling Rodents of Unusual Size; Facing torture in the Pit of Despair. True love has never been a snap.

Sounds about right, doesn't it? The stuff we do for true love...

It is true enough; there's always a dose of sex and violence in my stories. And so what? Sue me if you want, or simply don't read the stories. I love the way my friend wrote about a 'pulp action adventure'. That, in the context of everything else, is possibly the greatest compliment anybody ever paid me, or
Seladiënna for that matter. The ultimate inverted-snobbery pat-on-the-back for the likes of me. I bathe in the warm glow of the compliment.

Point to remember though: sex and violence for their own sake are devoid of meaning. A discussion of this issue can be found in The Chatterley Affair, a 2006 made-for-TV BBC drama. It's not for kiddies, but worth a watch.

But what is 'true love'??

Ahh, now here's the rub. And I'm not going to stand or sit here and risk my tenuous credibility by attempting even a shadow of a definition. But let me put it this way: like with everything else in 'life', the concept needs to be grounded in more than just other concepts; that is, it needs to have roots in life, action, example. And something as complicated and unquantifiable as 'true love' is defined at best by instances of its occurrence; and then people like my friend can go and point and say "true love". Obviously the writer of the comments above 'saw' is there, meaning that whatever was described in the novels for him registered as instances of 'true love'; and this must suffice.

I know this sounds like me saying "buy the damn books and figure it out yourselves".

Well, maybe I am, but the truth is that saying anything else would not just be foolish but untrue to my beliefs about what's what. If it were different I might as well descend into the bilges of human thought and join the hordes of self-help book authors.

Thanks, but no, thanks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Moving (Part 11 of X): Bureaucracy Is An Unwonderful Thing

Yeah, we all know that and love to gripe about it, but when you're trying to establish an identity in a new country—'new' for us meaning returning after 20+ years of absence—the hoops you have to jump through to do even simple things (registering your newly purchased vehicle; getting a mobile phone 'plan', as opposed to using good-old Prepay; and so on) are strangely convoluted and arranged in what almost is a classic Catch-22 situation. I could imagine a set of circumstances—say if you went somewhere in Australia and knew nobody, where it could take you the best part of half a year to get all these things into order and/or set up.

Several times, during yesterday and last week, the work 'Kafkaesque' came to my mind and lips. I can understand the 'why' of the hoops, and I suspect that in other parts of the world the situation is far worse. Still, it makes me yearn for the good old days. But then I run into people who are still living in the good old days and unable or unwilling to adapt to this aspect or that of the current world, and I recite my mantra:

What is, is. Make the best of it; and maybe what will be will be more to your liking.

Or, as Ed might have said, what 'should be' and 'what is' might be the same more often they they usually tend to be.

Still, often 'what is' is also a Papa India Tango Alpha.

Major to-do items left on my agenda for this week in Brisbane: finish the hoop-jumping exercises to get car; find place to live.

Everything else has pretty much fallen into place, with even the house-selling delays in NZ turning out to be ultimately of benefit, financially, despite their vexatious nature. And the car sold yesterday, so that's good, too. One car sold; another bought.

And, in the things that truly matter, our friends here—most of whom we've known for like 'forever'—have been a very positive experience; as I had hoped they would be. They were there and are continuing to be there when we need them. I have learned to appreciate that kind of friendship over a lot of the other variations upon the theme. We owe them and we won't forget.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Moving (Part 10 of X): This Week Wasn't So Bad

One of the Brisbane recruiting agents I was in contact with when still in NZ basically told me that my job-hunting life would be much easier once I got my butt over here. Well, I herewith declare, for the world to know, that he was right. So, oh unnamed one, I owe you for the advice; because without those comments I doubt things would have gone as they have.

Took me five days, a bit more internet activity plus one interview, and I do have a contract job until March, which has a good chance of being extended further than that.

Not bad. Didn't have much time to do anything else but attend to these things, really, but now that they are done—with a gazillion others waiting in the wings, but they can wait until Monday; maybe—I shall allow myself to relax just a little and maybe start catching up with some people I have been neglecting up to this point.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Moving (Part 9 of X): Decisions Made For Us

Sometimes it's good just to wait things out. This is a hard lesson to learn, and one would think that, given the apparently random nature of what you might call 'contingency'—where any kind of crap can happen, and as far as you're concerned it's just about as 'random' as it could possibly get—chances are that 'waiting' as a recipe for dealing with things really promises no better results than not waiting and getting in there and making decisions.

I mean, I'm all for decisions. Decisions are good. Besides, we make them anyway, so we might was well make them open-eyed, knowing that we're making them; rather than pretending it ain't so. But, but, but... Sometimes waiting is better. The trick is to know when—and, let's face it, how would you know? Or that's what you'd think, right? How could you know whether waiting is going to increase your chances of a better outcome than being impatient?

Well, I agree that 'knowing' is probably not on the cards. But exposure to 'life' can at least produce a mental condition where in lieu of 'knowledge' there is at least an 'inkling', and maybe a strong one at that. Your brain is a principal-component analysis machine—scary word and very scary maths, I know!—and that's what 'inklings' are all about: you may not know, but you have a good idea what's likely and what isn't. Search for certainty and you tie yourself into knots. Follow you inklings and you'll be amazed how often they are spot-on. And, yes, it's hard to tell 'inklings' apart from 'wishful thinkings' or 'morbid reflections'. But that's life. You just gotta learn.

Anyway, inklings and stuff told me to wait. And at least one item has resolved itself: the 'where'. For the time being it's going to be Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Things have configured themselves in such a way that this is the place. Whatever that means in the long run is unclear. But that's where we start. Not that it's a 'new' place for either my wife for me. We've lived here before; indeed this is where we met. The city has expanded to grotesque proportions from the days when I was driving a Yellow Cab here, but in many ways and along many roads I can still drive a car and it kind of finds its own way, even though whatever lines the roads has changed, often beyond recognition.

Right now the familiarity extends to memories of very hot days, with near-100% relative humidity. Yesterday was one of those days. I'm certain that there will be more.

Issues remaining to be resolved: 1) the sale of our house and 2) the sale of our car; plus a hundred smaller issues, but it's those big two that are hard to control and simply have to be...

...yep, you guessed it...

Ahh, patience is hard. Not just for the young, I tell you!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What Do We Tell Our Children?

A friend of mine and reader of this blog, in an email, mused about how she wondered how I came up with the subjects that appear in my blog. Not always, but occasionally I suspect she thinks they're coming from a side of the playing field of life that probably only makes sense if you know exactly what's going on in the head of Till—and, let's face it, even Till has problems figuring that one out.

Well, the current subject isn't of the where-the-hell-did-that-come-from kind. It was prompted by an article in a newsletter and a subsequent email, penned by a martial artist I know. The person in question pondered issues associated with the use of violence in our society and the position, I guess, of the 'martial artist' in the scheme of things having to do with the 'martial'; which, let's face it, is all about fighting—on any scale you care to consider.

I think what the writer was coming to realize, after many years of practicing martial arts without the benefit of having a family of his own—which is a benefit whose value and importance cannot possibly be overestimated!—was coming to a point in his life, where the mere 'practice' of the 'art' had begun to show its flaws; as it does to the fortunate ones. And I say 'fortunate ones', because it is 'fortune' indeed blessing one if one gets to this point. The martial arts, practiced as something which is assumed to justify itself by its own virtues by most—maybe more than just 'most' and maybe more a vast majority, including senseis—are just as empty and devoid of meaning as any human activity that does not make reference and connect and ground to the larger context of 'life'; of which they are but a pale simplification. They are, as Randy Pausch might have put it, 'head fakes'. Kansas City Shuffles. The realization that this is so, must surely be among the greatest gifts that fate or destiny or just contingency, in the shape of fortuitous confluences of events that lead one to suddenly 'see', can bestow on a martial artist. For that matter on anybody, who suddenly steps outside the box and sees it for what it is and gets to say Aha!

I suspect that for the martial artist in question these things have been creeping up slowly, until they finally became so visible and prominent that they simply could not be ignored anymore. Still, I suspect, from what he's written, that he is still groping around in a darkness that is only being slowly illuminated by the light of understanding.

The problem with this understanding often tends to be though that, like reformed smokers, those who achieve it tend to go overboard with messianic fervor in opposite directions; forgetting that 'living a good life' is not about 'fixing the world', as utopians tend to believe, but about stuff that's much more basic—for from those basics flows everything else. And these things basically haven't changed for many thousands of years, and maybe more, and they won't for another uncounted years to come.

It's like my old gripe about the value of ever-more-complicated or arcane or style-defining kata. It's all bullshit, plain and simple. What matters are the small things. Fundamentals. The tiny movements and positionings and accelerations and posture and looking this way and not that. The twitch of the ring finger to give the blade that extra twist. The initial position of the grip at the beginning of a form. The final movements of resheathing; the direction of the scabbard mouth; the readiness to draw again with the speed of lightning should this turn out to be necessary. A thousand elements of micro-repertoire that combine to harmonize the practitioner with the extension of his body that is the sword, and with its purpose and what is required to wield it to perfection.

These small things get one closest to the essence of the 'art'; while the practitioner's attitude to what he is doing is the other path of approach. This maps directly onto 'life'. Thus the 'head fake'.

So, when the martial artist in question asks, not unreasonably, how one must act...act 'right' I order to have something good to tell to our children...

Well, let me try at least a few suggestions. Note that none of these will solve the problems of the world in any way—mainly because there is so 'solution', because there is no 'right' way of doing things on a large scale, and everything has to flow from the minute, and without grand schemes of utopians or aspiring utopians. Indeed, many of these suggestions are inherently non-utopian; for they are at the heart of the problems that some perceive as requiring solution. That's because many problems from the whole realm of human social life have no solution. Everything we do, depending on the context, will be 'good' in some respect and at the same time create problems in other areas.

This has always been so and will always be so—at least as long as we remain identifiably 'human'. It is a built-in paradox and there's nothing, nothing at all, that anybody can do about it—unless we stop being human.

Anybody who thinks otherwise probably also thinks that the universe itself has a right and a wrong way to go about its business; that things should be this way, but not that. But things 'should' nothing. Things are. 'Should' is a human construct with a very, very long and rather ambiguous history.

Given that this is so—and 'so' it is—what do we tell our children?

Well, there was Bob Brown, from the Unit, telling his wife "I can't betray my friends. What would that teach our children?"

Or how about Randy Pausch, who said that there are far more important things than realizing your childhood dreams: your wife and kids.

Or how about the only possible answer to one of those stupid questions I came across on a potential-employee questionnaire: Can you outline a strategy you have used to strengthen a relationship with a client.

There's only one: 'Trust'. And it's got nothing to do with 'strategy'. It's just a very simple human relationship thing. And, of course, it connects intimately to the first point.

Or maybe we should rethink the question itself, for that is the way to step outside the box we've constructed around ourselves.

What shall we tell our children?

Maybe the answer is "Not much at all", for since when has 'telling' ever done anybody any real good without there being actions to ground that which is being told?

Show. Don't tell.

And if your children feel prompted to ask you why you did this and not that, then you can tell them; and then maybe they'll understand it and take it in.

I'm tempted also to add, yet again, a wrinkly old elf's dictum—and since this is my blog I damn well shall do so.

Try not. Do. Or do not.

For if you a Dotryer, how can you ever expect your children to become anything else?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Moving (Part 8 of X): Moving Day +1

In Brisbane now. First day. Flight went without a hitch. Nothing unexpected, but when undertaking great enterprises it pays not to forget that they can falter or be wrecked, destroyed, annihilated, wiped out of existence by the tiny things. A small critical malfunction of one of the million components of the plane and the enterprise could have been stopped dead in its tracks. Literally.

So, yes, the fact that everything went, as one might have expected, without a hitch—except for the damn rattle of awfully assembled plastic fittings inside the Airbus, which is a crappy piece of European engineering, let’s face it!—is a tiny detail; yet it is as crucial as the grand plan.