Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clean before you read

I must say I rather enjoyed reading this quote from Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford:

"You will never instruct the bulk of the nation, the Earl said.

And the heads of a nation do not cry out to know that their power is built on most flimsy foundations. They are quick — I think of the bishops mostly — to instruct the lower sort through the spoken word, since the unwashed are also the unreading, and will even, as with the Marprelate flimflammery, use the playhouse for damning what they wish damned.

What has our Merlin here done to flush a clean wind through the brains of the sausage-chewwers? Faustus could as well have come from the bishops themselves with its flouting of the virtue of knowledge."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My best Elvish impression

From now on, I wish to be known as Nápoldë Lossëhelin, although close friends can call me Lara Bramble of Willowbottom.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If on a winter's night of 1,000 stars...

The night before
Ah good. Basically come to Basingstoke, we'll have a top laugh. Only 45 mins from xxx, xxx and xxx, plus it'll be fun trying somewhere new and we can be back home in good time. Curry, couple of ciders and some chat.

The night
Why? Because I'm only 15 mins away that's why!

Wow! So my train has a jacuzzi — although the personal flunky is a bit lackadaisical frankly. A pox on both your houses, lots of love uncle bunkle. x

"Technical expertise will never overcome the fundamental animality of human existence." Discuss. Plus top curry chaps lots of love from downtown 'stoke, x.

This train calls at xxx, xxx and Basingstoke. Which is nice. Well done for doing a Reepacheap. Lol HRH Limpy.

My train has a personalised griffin groomer. Apparently he's fresh out of l'academie du grooming von das griffon. And it smells of wee.

My train has a personalised wee groomer. But he's fresh out of griffins, alas alack.

I am now arriving at xxx. xxx the next station stop. But in my heart I'll always be in Orvieto, mashing up pigeons with Gladys.

My name is Herbert. I live on the second floor. I live upstairs from you. Think you must have seen me before. Fancy a muffin? Lol Herbert x

Fancy a muffin? It won't cost you nuffin. Cos Bob has a job that'll pay for us all. He'll pay for our grieving, he'll pay for our thieving, cos he knows the joys of a Basingstoke mall.

Rubbish. Did anyone else fall asleep on their train and have to be woken by a pretty girl with dribble rolling down their chin?

Yes, except it was my chin and my dribble. Where is Ptolemy? Eh?

Incidentally I want to make it perfectly clear, I am prepared to pay for your muffins but I'm afraid I can't pay for your grieving. I draw the line there.

Ah shit yes sorry I fell asleep in cosmic fairyland. I regain wakinginging in a turd's arse opposite a cowboy child and a woman. I just went through a place called Bramley. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES if you see what I mean there yaha. Fucking good work on the limerick front by the way there Bennington, and also on demonic curry action. Pologies on the post curry banter-missing nap, see you soon, have less sex for goodness sake and now, where's my bicycle?

Hi fellas I'm back home in bed. Did I win the back home in bed race?

No because I too am back home in bed, but I have a naked Rocky bar beside me. Beat that bitch. G'might 4eva. Princess Constantwine the sixth.

The morning after
Hi chaps
Great to see you last night. Anyone else feeling particularly windy after that cuzza?
Top japes anyway

I was quite drunk I think and cycled through xxx last night like a bat out of hell, a ginger bat, late for an important meeting with all the other hell-bats and fuelled by a top curry.
Excellent skills on the basingstoke front, who'd've thought it. Something slightly spooky about the whole place though, I mean it was just us and that Saga tour in the whole town, ostensibly.
twinkle-arse, the my little pony

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fun with words

The Washington Post has an annual neologism contest, apparently, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. Some of my favourites are...

Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained
Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach
Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk
Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown
Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp
Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline

Whoever said Americans are obsessed with their appearance?

The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Such as...

Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you
Glibido (v): All talk and no action
Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly

And my personal favourite...

Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

A little more

Aha, the joys of blogging, or posting things that annoy and then dashing off to make tea and such like. Ok, the main reason why this annoys me is that it's badly written and I think that the Guardian's move towards 'news blogs' and 'comment is free' sections undermines what the paper is trying to do. Ranting about things and posting half-baked opinion pieces thinly disguised as news is something that people like you and me should be doing, not the Guardian.

I'm not sure what the author means by 'backers of a Christian fundamentalist persuasion' - people who back Christian fundamentalists? Christian fundamentalists who back the Bush administration? Christian fundamentalist backers of abstention? But regardless of who she specifically means, it's a mistake to suggest that abstention is simply the method of Aids prevention advocated by the Christian right (or Christian wrong as they should perhaps be called) in the US. It's also the method advocated by many Anglican and Catholic churches across Africa (and people of other religions). In the absence or scarcity of Aids education, prevention or treatment, I don't think it's wrong for those churches to encourage people, wherever they are in the world, to try and limit their number of sexual partners and drug use. It's wrong when it's used in preference to other more effective means of Aids treatment and prevention, and when abstention receives more attention and funding than medical and social programmes and treatment. It's horrible to think of Bush and his cronies pandering to their CRF voters by ploughing money into Aids programmes that emphasise abstention and when that doesn't work to hell with the consequences. It's ridiculous to say use condoms in rich countries but just don't have sex in the developing world. Not just ridiculous, but racist, unfair and ineffective. The problem with this article is that it misunderstands the strength of religious faith (and the dodgy science that often accompanies espousals of that faith) in many parts of the developing world, and how closely related that faith and its manifestations are to certain Christian beliefs in America. The article has a liberal leftie agenda, unsurprisingly for the Guardian, that would be far more alien to people in certain parts of the world where the Aids rate is high than Bush's CRF approach would be.

Argh, this has turned into a bit of a rant and the annoying thing is I agree with the message of the article and I think we should be very wary of how Aids prevention information and education is shared with people who need it, and try and ensure that people understand why condoms and microbicides are the only effective and realistic way of preventing people dieing from Aids, rather than suggesting that pretending to abstain and going to church and being a born again virgin will help as well. And we should also try and ensure that when we give money to Aids charities at the money isn't deployed solely or even primarily through local religious organisations.

I just think that anyone who suggests that the majority of the planet's population find it hard not to inject drugs hasn't thought through their article sufficiently before posting it.

Maybe all she needed was a good sub. ;-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why I prefer the Indy

This, from GU, annoyed me:

"To the Bush government and backers of a Christian fundamentalist persuasion, the best way to preventing the spread of HIV/Aids is, in the words of a previous famous first lady, to "just say no". Don't have sex until you are married. Don't sleep with anybody but your partner. Don't inject drugs.

A number of people - to hazard a guess, the majority of the planet's population - don't find these things so easy."

But unfortunately I don't have the time to tell you why.

Hmmm, maybe you can guess.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Not quite the diet coke of evil

You Are 0% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pernicious Pernicity

I rediscovered this Tolstoy quote today.

In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quote unquote

Two quotes for you to ponder. The first is from anthropologist (and screenwriter, although I presume he was wearing his anthro hat when he wrote this one) Robert Ardrey. The second I have only just discovered but I imagine is widely known in Toller's circles, and is from Carl Jung.

"But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses."

"There is no coming to consciousness without pain."

My kneejerk reaction to the first is this. Firstly, I think I'd prefer to think of myself as a fallen angel than a risen ape, although I think I am in reality a combination of both.

Secondly, (hmm, you probably can't have a secondly if it's a kneejerk reaction - let's pretend it's the other knee) if the stars knew me by my poetry they'd think me very odd indeed.

Thirdly (it's an elbowjerk reaction this time) I like the juxtaposition within the quote but can't help feeling that, particularly in the current climate, it sounds a bit like an excuse for war. The fact that we were once armed killers, and no doubt retain many of the genetic features that made us thrive as such, does not mean that elements of the human condition that may have developed at a later date should not now take precedence.

We marvel at the massacres not the treaties because we should know better, and because the treaties sadly seem to have a much shorter legacy than the massacres.

With regard to the second quote, anybody that's known Toller for, well, five minutes or more will know that studying consciousness is a very painful thing, eased only by heavy drinking and heavier chaffering.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Question of the Day

What's an elastic loaf and where might you find one?

Find the answer here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Embarrassment exacerbation

Anyway, it happened a bit like this.

When I first arrived at my current place of employment, I realised that they have a 'policy' of CV sharing. So quite a few of my colleagues have read my CV, which says something ambiguous about me being a published poet (hey, you can post anything on the web!).

If that wasn't embarrassing enough, it's customary for a new employee to be introduced Bridget Jones style over email to the rest of the company. (This is Penny. She likes cider and poetry, and has six toes). So it became known in a few small circles that I write bit of poetry on the side.

One of the girls downstairs (in hell/sales and marketing) discovered one of my odes on t'internet and asked me if she could include it in our in-house newsletter, of which she was editor. Being a newby I said yes. Nothing more was heard of said newsletter for over a year, until, last week, a chunky PDF plopped into my inbox. And as my most frequent commentator requested more poetry, I offer you this.

Sweet like chocolate
The thing that surprised me most,
after your death,
was that I still liked the taste
of chocolate.
I had been warned that
everything would taste bitter.
But no,
chocolate tastes the same.
And life is all the worse for that.

Ding dong belm

Can anyone help me?

I've just been discovered a new verb: to belm. It means to put your tongue between your lower lip and teeth, and pretend to be stupid.

I imagine it is an extension of 'doh!' and perhaps used in the same way as 'dur', which means, as I understand it, to imitate a scoper, the modern euphemism for a disabled person, frequently overheard in playgrounds to describe people regardless of ability. Children are so cruel.

Apparently 'belming' is common among online communities, and I imagine that it has an emoticon or acronym to accompany it. But unless it was first used in Lower Saxony, I cannot discover any etymology for the word 'belm'. All I can think is that it is a corruption of bell, which stems from the appearance of the chin while containing a tongue.

Hmm, I seem to have gone all pretentious. Unlike this fun balderdash and piffle precursor.

Any takers?

Feed the world, make it a better place?

Charity is tricky.
I'm not a fan of chuggers, believing them to be not just an irritation on the already hard to negotiate streets of London but also frequently the sort of person that I would be reluctant to talk to at a party for fear that their nauseating cheeriness and expectant faces might cause me to reconsider the virtues of violence as a cure of the world's ills.
Clicking on this infamous site, however, is a much less painful experience. All it takes is a little click, just 30 seconds out of the working day if you click on all the colours.
The site owners describe the site as "a leader in online activism". But how active is it to click on this site? It costs little in time and nothing in money, it requires the minimum intellectual engagement, it requires no research no analysis no engagement with the issues.
This is, of course, the main reason for the site's success, with the campaigning extending to funding free mammograms and books, to alleviating child poverty and saving the rain forest. But the point of charity should be stepping towards a more equitable society — if no sacrifice is made then little benefit is gained either.
Obviously on a literal level this is wrong - despite the neutral impact that clicking has on me, somebody, somewhere (if the site is to be believed) is being fed or educated. But on another level, the fact that sites such as this exist — not to introduce people to the delights of oysters but to keep them alive with staple foods, not to provide treatment of breast cancer but to fund its discovery - allows some people to feel good about themselves but does not change the world and makes it less likely that the world will be changed because the status quo is improved marginally, making more extensive or long lasting rebellion or revolution more difficult to create. This is, I appreciate, an old Marxist 'opium' argument.
Charity is not BAD. Many charities and volunteers do immense amounts of good around the world to improve the lives of people, animals and, erm, trees. But it's very difficult, for me anyway, to give selflessly. This is not to say that I want something back - recognition or a warm feeling 'inside'. But I want control over who gets the food, what food they get, which books are disseminated. I don't want poor people to live solely on rice and Shakespeare, and I'm concerned that such simplified charitable gestures as the hunger site ask too few questions and have imperialist overtones. I'm concerned because I haven't heard of America's Second Harvest or Mercy Corps and I'm instinctively wary of a hunger site that gives 30pc of its proceeds to the US, the richest country in the world.
While the charity of individuals can and often is worthwhile, charity, far from beginning at home, is often too individualistic and small-scale. Much of the work of charities - providing free mammograms is a good example - should be done by the state, or some broader national or international organisations. Charity can never be apolitical, so the way to avoid bias is to have a range of opinions compassed or to advertise the bias so that people can withhold their money.
Hmm, maybe the kind of organisation I'm thinking of could be called a meta-governmental philanthropic fund. Or an apolitical alms collection and distribution service.
Or maybe we should just call it a charity.