Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Aftermath

The neighborhood is full of the noises of chainsaws, hammerings, tree-chippers plus a varied miscellany of other unidentifiables. Cleaning up. Rebuilding. Trying to get ready for the next storm which is sure to come, thought everybody is hoping that it won't be like the last big one.

Meanwhile disasters continue to happen. The latest victim was a young girl, which drowned when a weir burst and a few thousand tons of water surged down the river. From one instant to the next a safe place turned into a death trap. Nature has no notion of justice or fairness. What else is new? Those who like to see the hand of an incomprehensible divine plan it this are... Ahh, never mind. I should be more charitable.

But there are positive aspects to this mess. For one, people who just happened to live in the same street, but never talked to each other, did exchange at least a few words of mutual commiseration. Something to talk about to people that one otherwise really has nothing to talk to about.

And then there's the simple fact that such an event reminds people that if the basics aren't there, we're pretty screwed, by and large. One of the most essential basics, apart from shelter, food and water, is electricity. Two days of no power, at least in some suburbs, should have reminded anyone with the capability of observation and reflection, of the utter and complete dependence of our civilization's functioning on electricity. And if there's no electricity, then petrol comes in handy, because you can run generators, which of course produce...electricity. And without that the food in the fridge/freezer becomes useless. You can't run your computer (well, a laptop will run for a while on its batteries, but then it's curtains!) and ADSL internet is toast. Fortunately we don't need heating right now, because that would be very dangerous.

You can cook... on camping gas stoves. But it's all a bit roughing-it. The excitement about that abates very soon indeed.

But here's another positive thing:

I often gripe about how civilized existence, which usually means 'urban' existence, has distracted people from what really matters and made them soft, dependent, slothful, hyper-refined, lazy, decadent, culturally arrogant (with respect to the non-urban populace, that often cops derogatory terms like 'country bumpkin' and 'redneck') and so on. And this is doubtlessly so. But the flipside is technology. And all the noises I hear outside, and all the machinery used in cleaning up the mess and restoring power and removing trees that have fallen into houses and tidying up the streets and erecting power poles and pumping out flooded underpasses and telling people what's going on and... All that is only possible because of civilization as well, and because of the ways in which it just happens to kind of 'work'. Not always very well, but in this instance it's this great organism, whose parts actually function almost in unison; at least sufficiently so to heal he wounds and fix up the mess.

So, it's not all bad. Things seldom are. Just like they're never 'all good' either.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Brisbane Storms

So it's been a bit hard to blog as of recent, seeing that I was trying to deal with some basic issues of life—like how to proof our house against the surface water runoff in the wake of torrential rains. Lots of physical labor, but little quality blog time.

And then...well, last Sunday (16 Nov) some serious shit hit the fan. A celestial fan, you might say. Here's a YouTube video, where there are a gazillion more, if you're into reality-disaster movies.

I would have liked to take some pictures, but I was kinda busy, with the kind help of a friend, holding a wooden blind against a window that had just had its main pane smashed in by an errant branch from a nearby tree. Just as well nobody had been sitting on the sofa immediately underneath the window!

One of the neighbors had their kitchen plus basically the rest of their house taken out by a gum tree that had stood some five meters from the house, but now rested cosily in the breach it had created in the roof.

Power in our area was out for two days and two nights, with a gazillion lines taken out by trees or just power poles that keeled over.

The devastation was very localized. One suburb might have looked like a post-hurricane area, while the adjacent one had...well, just a bit of rain, plus lighting and sundry, but no hail the size of golf balls—and in some areas tennis balls, and some days later in a little town called 'Blackwater' the size of small Cantaloupes!—or any of the winds that leveled the lovely green forest area that was such an attraction of where we live. Now we can see for miles, across the suburbs and right down to the ocean, far, far away.

Anyway, lots of cleanup and prepping for the next storm that's been announced for later this afternoon.

The main hobby around Brisbane's internet geeks is watching the weather radar. Right now, as I write this, it looks innocuous, but I've seen that before. Changes within the the hour. And everybody in the path of stuff that's red, deep read and black, ducks...

More thoughts on the aftermath in the next blog, coming, or so I hope, soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jacaranda Snow

This is the time of year in Brisbane when the Jacaranda trees bloom and subsequently lose their blossoms—thousands of them. This is just one day's un-swept front yard...

The Victory Of Obama

All right, so that's the way it is.

The defeated candidate gave an incredibly gracious concession speech. The Winner gave a rousing victory oratory. He's got probably the best speechwriters since Reagan.

Like John McCain, I wish Obama well. My view of all politicians is jaundiced, but what matters is not the politicians themselves, but what effect their actions have on the world. Maybe, contrary to every single experience in known human history, Obama will 'be different'. Like creationism, there's no evidence to suggest that it might be so—but, hell, what have we go to lose? If I turn out to be wrong, I'll be the first and foremost to be happy about it.

It certainly was an interesting day!

It's In the Genes, Stupid!

I've been saying this for a long time, but it's sufficiently official now to talk about this again. Let me quote from this article:

"...our political attitudes have deep roots in our biology. Our place on the political spectrum - liberal, conservative, or in between - is powerfully influenced by genetics, new studies show. In the past year, researchers have demonstrated that the brains of liberals and conservatives are physically and functionally distinctive, suggesting that people on either side of the ideological divide are actually wired differently. And new research, published this fall in the prestigious journal Science, found that our immediate, unconscious reaction to threat - how much we startle at frightening images and noises - determines our political views on specific issues like gun control, national defense, the Iraq war, domestic surveillance, the torture of political prisoners, and even immigration."

Since the US is voting as I write this, consider the immediate corollary to all this:

The outcome of the US Presidential campaign is determined mainly by how many voters of either persuasion—pro-Obama or pro-McCain and what they stands for and are associated with—the candidates manage to get to turn out to vote.

None of this 'issue' stuff. The only effect of 'issues' was, again, mainly in how many voters the candidates were able to get to turn up to vote for them by using those issues to emotionally galvanize them. That doesn't just include those strongly influenced by their genetic makeup, though I doubt that a quoted estimate of only 50% of people being thus predisposed and influenced is reliable.

Anyway, whatever the merits and effects of 'issues', it appears that this one has run its course, thanks by and large to some truly bad political judgment by the current administration:

Right now it's all about the EEcOnomy and Wall Street and all that; with a goodly mix of "WE WANT CHANGE" thrown in. Until, that is, the next major terrorist attack on US soil, which will come about, and which will make 9/11 appear like a picnic.

"When we debate issues, in other words, we do not so much argue a political position as assert who we are," it says further down in the article, and this probably wraps it up nicely. However, I suggest that you read it in its entirety before you leap to the obvious conclusions, most of which will probably be based on long-held beliefs that may not pass a serious reality-check. Maybe the most interesting counter-intuitive revelations are that Conservatives are inclined to be more...well, let's call it 'sentimental'...than Liberals; because that's what it amounts to. Meaning probably that they're more in touch with their feelings.

Ahh, the irony—with the laugh being on the... well, you work that one out!

It's important to note that we're talking about 'predispositions'. But, let's face it, most people do tend to and think and feel what they're predisposed to; even, or maybe especially, those who consider themselves 'rational' and whose self-delusions tend to make them even more vulnerable to the consequences of their denial of their emotional nature.

Head in the sand and ass in the air...


The quoted article itself appeared in a magazine with a definite Liberal bias, and needs to be considered with that in mind. The trashing of Conservatives is subtle but definite, as is evident in the terminology used. There's also a tendency to emphasize the large pool of those who resist their predispositions; thus making it appear as if the phenomenon were restricted to a, fairly thick, fringe of dumb-nuts. This is, of course, an expression of classic Liberal elitism.

So, take it with a goodly pinch of critical salt. Still, the essential content appears sound, as is evident when following the topic in further depth.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Which President are you electing, America?

Going to the polls in just over a day and trying to overcome apathy. A fate no worse than death; just...ahh, well, 'apathetic'—except for the fervent ones, of course, who will see Obama's face in clouds and plant roots. I shit you not! Judging from the adulation... But then again, many are the same that campaigned for Speed-boat Spike John Kerry four years ago.

Before going off to the polling booth though, let me remind my friends in the US0fA of some important issues—which aren't connected to either National Security or the EEcOnomy. Or maybe they're connected to both. Whatever. Schmatever.

Anyway, here's the thing. Remember that you are not voting for Obama or McCain, but for Biden or Palin. Reason for that is that neither of the two are going to be there for long. If Obama gets in he'll be waxed by some psycho, and that means President Joe-Foot-In-Mouth Biden. McCain is going to die of the ravages inflicted by life on his body quite soon, especially if subjected to the strains of the Presidency, and that means President Sarah Palin!

Cool, eh?

I know, I know, y'all sayin' now that that makes the choice kinda easier, because Biden has the advantage here hands down, right? Well, maybe and maybe not.

I can see the Obamaniacs having orgasms on Tuesday night, because he's gonna win by a landslide. It may take them a few months after him taking office to realize that nothing much has changed and that words are words, and deeds are deeds, and politicians will forever and a day remain politicians!

How can anybody with an IQ above 75 possibly be taken in by these people? And yet, there they go...

JESUS! He's frelling EVERYWHERE!

I've mentioned this lunatic phenomenon before. You know, Jesus' face on pieces of toast, the skins of shriveled tomatoes; and, in full 3-D, in the shape of plant roots. Now apparently he started watching us from the skies over Sydney, as proved by the presence of a cloud that bore his likeness. Talk about big brother. And you're worried about the government and the corporate world?

There's even a video, so see for yourself.

This apparently isn't the first time, and when I searched around a bit more I found a website called 'visionsofjesuschrist'—what else?—and from there I found a link to something called, wait for it!, SpiritDaily, which seems to be like an online tabloid detailing going on in the spiritual world. A kind of Holy Pravda.

Staring in your face when you hit SpiritDaily ('.com' of course!) is an ad for a book entitled The Other Side, subtexted 'Incredible Details of Eternity'.

After recovering from a near painful bout of laughter, I followed the link to the book to here, and found that the person who wrote it obviously has a direct line to said 'eternity'.

What happens when we die, how to prepare, and what Heaven is like.

Everything you've always wanted to know. I'm so glad somebody can tell us. And make money with it. Ahh, yes, Jesus provides.

Also, you may be interested to know that network theory has seized upon Jesus and, paralleling the human disease gene network map...

...there's also a Jesus Network Map...

Make of this what you will. As for me I'm still laughing.