Another Dark Little Corner

moon phases

Started this before change to "New Blogger", as backup in case of trouble with digiphoto blog "In a Small Dark Room", or rants & links blog "Hello Cruel World" . Useful - at one stage Dark Room was there, but like the astrophysical Dark Matter, we could't see it ... better now, but kept Just In Case.

Your ABC

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There is nothing. There is no God and no universe, there is only empty space, and in it a lost and homeless and wandering and companionless and indestructible Thought. And I am that thought. And God, and the Universe, and Time, and Life, and Death, and Joy and Sorrow and Pain only a grotesque and brutal dream, evolved from the frantic imagination of that same Thought.
Mark Twain (letter to Joseph Twichell after his wife's death)
[me, on a bad day]

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One Month to Christmas

One Pilgrim's Walk - A view of the world from ground level
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Man stuff
... My word, the uproar that one little post can start -- and fortunately it wasn't mine.
A post by one Kim du Toit (I don't feel like giving him the link -- just google the name if you must) titled “The Pussification Of The Western Male.” has caused a bit of approval or dissaproval [sic] across the blogosphere recently. A number of people have made excellent responses that I agree with ...
That's what I can think of at just this point. My main reaction is that if you have to be spending your time worrying if you are a real man, you have a problem.

MORE ON MEN at at Sursum Corda ( ) Topical musings from a Catholic perspective
(also refers to Sergeant Stryker - weblog/archives/004044.php#004044
on the same subject ).

"du Toit, du" from one of my Highly Recommended Blogs (on a site that also has non-blog sections), Making Light ( Theresa Neilsen Hayden's comment at /archives/004023.html#004023 (complete with photo).

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My late partner and I had returned from our 'trip of a lifetime' to Europe at the start of July 1997 and we were living together in the short years before I fell ill and my father died. It was the weekend after my birthday, we were going to the North Rocks shopping centre for the computer markets, and would do the general shopping there as well.
The car radio news said there'd been an accident and she'd been injured. This was rippling through the people in the centre. Then someone said she'd died. I tend to keep my little transistor by me and tuned into the later news and it confirmed she'd died. It was a bit of a shock, and I wondered how it would change things.
It was totally unexpected that there would be such a strong reaction. I was shocked that people would be feeling so strongly

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What with the Kennedy assassination, Dr Who anniversary, & a number of others, it reminded me of this letter that I sent some while back to the Sydney Morning Herald. It didn't get published.
The recent discussion on whether to keep some part of Singapore's Changi prison as a memorial to the 87,000 POWs of many nationalities who passed through it, often to much harsher locations scattered through South-East Asia, reminded me of other, closer, memorials.

Three months ago there was disturbance at the destruction of a memorial to victims of the Luna Park Ghost Train fire. (Ghost Train memorial tree haunts developers, July 14 2003

It is now 25 years since three died in the still-unsolved Hilton terrorist bombing in February 1978.
During work before the 2000 Olympics the memorial stele on George St was changed to an inset plaque, unprotected from being trod underfoot, having suitcases dumped on it, etc. Now it's disappeared under all the new concrete and hoardings put up for the renovations. Does anyone know what's happened to it?

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My late partner and I had returned from our 'trip of a lifetime' to Europe at the start of July 1997 and we were living together in the short years before I fell ill and my father died. It was the weekend after my birthday, we were going to the North Rocks shopping centre for the computer markets, and would do the general shopping there as well.
The car radio news said there'd been an accident and she'd been injured. This was rippling through the people in the centre. Then someone said she'd died. I tend to keep my little transistor by me and tuned into the later news and it confirmed she'd died. It was a bit of a shock, and I wondered how it would change things.
It was totally unexpected that there would be such a strong reaction. I was shocked that people would be feeling so strongly

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40th Anniversary JFK in Dallas - one memory  
40th Anniversary JFK in Dallas - one memory
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States shot dead this day in 1963. I was less than 10 years old, but interested in world affairs.
It was Saturday, late spring/early summer. and mother - who worked during the week - and I were going to the beach. We were on the bus when mother said something like: 'Did you hear President Kennedy was assassinated?" I was stunned & griefstricken. Hoping against hope, I asked if that meant he'd been killed (maybe it was just that he'd been shot by someone trying to kill him). "Oh, yes".
Talking to others of my age, very few of them seem to have really experienced or felt or remembered this the same way. Surely I can't have been the only Australian primary school child who had followed & admired him? I think many of my nightmares of a similar date might have been due to things like the Cuban missile crisis.

Altho' I remember the horrific year of 1968, it is more of a blur of one terrible thing after another, starting I suppose in December 1967 when Harold Holt disappeared/died, then going through the assassinations and riots in different countries. There's not a lot of other worldwide events that 'set' quite that way. John Lennon's shooting is apparently important to many people.
Interestingly, despite my not following her story particularly, and not having that kind of sick guilt that I think drove much of the hysteria about it, I do remember the circumstances of hearing of Princess Diana's death, now 5 years back. I might tell you that in a later post, since I'm not sure if I posted that on the anniversary in August.

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Fever Pitch (TM Nick Hornby) in Sydney for the Rugby World Cup  

From the Essay Collection Shooting an Elephant
“I Write as I Please”
The Sporting Spirit
George Orwell

includes this classic passage
.... <bigsnip> As soon as strong feelings of rivalry are aroused, the notion of playing the game according to the rules always vanishes. People want to see one side on top and the other side humiliated, and they forget that victory gained through cheating or through the intervention of the crowd is meaningless. Even when the spectators don’t intervene physically they try to influence the game by cheering their own side and “rattling” opposing players with boos and insults. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.

Instead of blah-blahing about the clean, healthy rivalry of the football field and the great part played by the Olympic Games in bringing the nations together, it is more useful to inquire how and why this modern cult of sport arose. Most of the games we now play are of ancient origin, but sport does not seem to have been taken very seriously between Roman times and the nineteenth century. Even in the English public schools the games cult did not start till the later part of the last century. Dr Arnold, generally regarded as the founder of the modern public school, looked on games as simply a waste of time. Then, chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism—that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige. Also, organised games are more likely to flourish in urban communities where the average human being lives a sedentary or at least a confined life, and does not get much opportunity for creative labour. In a rustic community a boy or young man works off a good deal of his surplus energy by walking, swimming, snowballing, climbing trees, riding horses, and by various sports involving cruelty to animals, such as fishing, cock-fighting and ferreting for rats. In a big town one must indulge in group activities if one wants an outlet for one’s physical strength or for one’s sadistic impulses. Games are taken seriously in London and New York, and they were taken seriously in Rome and Byzantium: in the Middle Ages they were played, and probably played with much physical brutality, but they were not mixed up with politics nor a cause of group hatreds ... <bigsnip> ...
... I do not, of course, suggest that sport is one of the main causes of international rivalry; big-scale sport is itself, I think, merely another effect of the causes that have produced nationalism. Still, you do make things worse by sending forth a team of eleven men, labelled as national champions, to do battle against some rival team, and allowing it to be felt on all sides that whichever nation is defeated will “lose face”. <snip>

A good source of Orwell's works (& others')
Another source of Orwell's works

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The rule of law: You'll miss it when it's gone

By Margo Kingston
February 13 2003

Webdiarist Tamsin Clarke agreed a while ago to write a piece for Webdiary on the State Government engineered collapse of the rule of law in NSW development. This has resulted in vandalism by lawless developers, because they know the law - and the conditions of development they've agreed to - will not be enforced by the State. They also know that most citizens don't have the money or the time to force developer compliance and can be intimidated by threats to sue for defamation and the like.

However the pending war on Iraq saw Tamsin write a piece on the widespread attacks by governments on the rule of law - the foundation of democracy - in general, with the threat by the United States, Britain and Australia to invade Iraq in defiance of international law the latest, and most dangerous, example. Tamsin argues that we've taken step two in the march towards fascism, and urges citizens to fight back before it's too late.

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Not sure whether to laugh or cry or sit staring into space or what.
Found letter in my mailbox on the way to work, saying:
"We confirm the application for payment of superannuation and death or invalidity benefit for the late C--- K--- has been approved.

Please find enclosed two cheques ..."

I was tempted to dash back into town and put it straight into his Credit Union account.

At this stage have $290 in my own account, $203 of which is from a Medicare payment and $67 from MBF Health Insurance.
On Friday am expecting ~$1800 monthly pay. Now, $550 of this is for my living expenses & some ~$1900 more is committed to Chris' bills, of which $1000/mo is one Visa Card debt, probably down to ~$10,000 by now. There is another Bankcard debt for $4500-$5000 hanging fire.

And people wonder why I sometimes lose patience & shout when mother interrupts my letterwriting or other work for the eleventy-first time in a morning to ask me a question I've answered eleventy times in the last few hours.

I could bank it in the Credit Union estate account and then get cheques for the two credit card bills. Clear them right off the slate <hand trembles>

That should leave some few thousand in that account, from which one set of mortgage payments are deducted.
I can then put 1/3 or 1/2 of that into the other bank account for the other mortgage, which is in arrears by around $2000, pay out those arrears & leave a cushion to pay out the surplus ongoing monthly payments above the receipts.

This would bring my current expenses for Chris' bills down to only ~$900/mo, and keep mortgage payments going for several months (especially if the place stays rented and free of further unexpected repair bills). Without that $1000/mo, paying the quarterly council & water rates on everything and electricity & phone for his house become much more affordable.

The surplus mortgage payments are still a struggle, but I can't really renegotiate/pay off any substantial amount until the large superannuation payment comes through.

If the insurance (about a year's wages) does come through before the next superannuation, I could pay my friends & mother some of what I owe them for the emergency help in the last eighteen months. If it looks like the larger super payout will take much longer, however, it might be an idea to put most of the insurance into the mortgages. On the other hand it might be better to keep a fairly large chunk in liquid form in the estate account in case of something unexpected. So many unexpected expenses have turned up in the last year or so - not just medical & funeral & legal ones, but all sorts of things raining down like frogs from rainclouds.

Once the large payout comes <thinking positive, no 'if'>, there should be enough to partly pay & renegotiate the mortgages so that there aren't surplus payments beyond income. Then I'll know how much is left from that to repay those personal debts and should be able to see if my own personal savings have anything left. By golly, the rainy day certainly arrived that I had them for. Not all that optimistic about future weather conditions, so having some left over would be really quite good.

Should I wait until tomorrow morning? It makes me jittery, the only times I've had this much liquid assets on me were around August 1980, when I paid for my house (1/4 my funds, 3/4 the bank's), and a cheque for what I lent C--- in 1999 (about half the price of the house, and all my own money).

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From the first 9/11/2002 Kristallnacht entry  
(In Australia 9/11 is November 9th)

Remember Kristallnacht - 9/11/38

Two sites of many

November 9th is still a pertinent anniversary: "Kristallnacht
- the Night of Broken Glass".

In 1938, incensed by hearing of his family in Germany being forced into
"relocation camps" in the November snow under Nazi laws, an adolescent
Jew in Paris shot and killed a German diplomat.

Goebbels used this for propaganda about conspiracies against
Germany, inciting Germans to "rise in bloody vengeance", culminating
on the long winter night of November 9th in organised widespread
violence. Non-Jews who protested were beaten. Police and firemen
watched people brutalized, buildings smashed, looted and burnt.
Morning footpaths were impassable under an icy glittering crust of
broken glass and ashes.

Lack of public protest encouraged the Nazi government to pass even
more repressive laws in the next few months. Prominent Germans
who protested were arrested. Ordinary Germans who protested
were beaten up.

Can we hope that we've learnt from last century's several examples
of disasters wrought by stirring up - for power, for gain, for dogmatic
religion or ideology - the darker side we all have?

what disturbed the German populace was less the sight of synagogues burning (fires take place all the time, after all -- it depends on the scale) than of the savage and wasteful vandalism that confronted bystanders everywhere, disrupting the clean and orderly streets (to say nothing of consumer convenience). What was indeed memorable was the sheer quantity of broken glass. A third point was the economic outcome of this massive breakage. Germany didn't produce enough plate glass to repair the damages (synagogues did not have to be replaced -- quite the contrary). The result was twofold: the need to import glass from Belgium (for sorely needed cash) and the outrage of indemnifying the Jewish community to pay for the damages.

Labels: ,

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A Competition for tickets to a David Suzuki talk - write what you do for 'the environment'  
Although, as an average Australian inner-city wage earner, I have carried out the usual environmentally-aware procedures: saving & re-using clean & waste water; keeping my house small, without a/c & re-using materials in renovation; my (tiny) garden low-water, animal-friendly & pesticide-free; composting & recycling waste; air-drying my laundry; not owning a car -- in my most important environmental endeavours I feel my neighbours & I have been quite unsuccessful.

Despite years of very much untrained, fitted-around-work unpaid work by my neighbours & I, we were unable to gain enough support among those who can influence events (as opposed to inhabitants or the planning department) to get local amenity &/or future sustainability as basic & important considerations in the redevelopment of our suburb. Profit is all.

GreenPeace was a help at first, then went off to try & influence the Olympic site. From my experience of it, and what I've heard & read, even they -- trained, full-time paid advocates -- were well-circumvented.

For public consumption lip service was paid, but it's results that count, and after years of glossy brochures & protestation that it would be a 'model inner-city development' our suburb is now held up as an example of what to avoid, used to strike fear into people elsewhere: "If we let them do X, this place will end up like [mine]".

Mr Suzuki's recent book of good news did help me in my despair for the future of my beloved city & country. But I mourn bitterly what has been destroyed, and sometimes grudge hope that can keep your heart sore when that anaesthetic poison can insulate you from the pain of caring.

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There was a similar PR campaign for the film "A.I.", it began with a credit for "Jeanine Salla, Sentient Machine Therapist:" in the film.

If you Google "Jeanine Salla," you get
You can link from her site to trip down a rabbit hole into a fictional world with sentient houses and androids that create genetically enhanced humans.

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This is supposedly the company that Neo works for in The Matrix.
Starting in late September, MetaCortechs's site became active. The WB (Watchowski Brothers) created an authentic-looking hosting company to host MetaCortechs's site, as well as several other sites that were created by MetaCortechs "employees". (’s forum for Metacortechs)

As of October 4, these are the websites that are related to this stunt: (the fake company set up by the WB to host all these Matrix-stunt-related websites)

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It's not looking good for the final Matrix movie. Importantly, how will this affect the spin-off stuff? They seem to be quite heavily into that (see, for instance the online material referred to in these Matrix Essays posts: Metacortechs1; Metacortechs2; Metacortechs3 )
Drubbing for Matrix finale
By Garry Maddox, Film Reporter
November 5, 2003

Matrix magic gets Sydney gala finale (Report on the Sydney Morning Herald website)

Just a piece on Keanu arriving back in Sydney, saying he likes it here. It talks about the filming here, & the other people arriving for the Sydney premiere.
Neo romantic
November 1, 2003

Sci-fi SNAG . . . Keanu Reeves with love interest Carrie-Anne Moss in Matrix Revolutions [picture].

Flying calamari can't compete with falling in love, Keanu Reeves tells Phillip McCarthy.
Keanu Reeves doesn't own a computer and has no plans to acquire one.
"I don't use the internet.
I don't send email. I don't have a secret identity," the star of the Matrix trilogy says. "You don't have to be a computer geek to be interested in the subjects these movies raise," he says...

The usual local interview - he talks a bit about the next movie he's doing Constantine. I thought with all hte Alexander the Great movies around it might be about the Roman emperor, but it's apparently a contemporary detective story based on a comic/graphic novel.

Because "Matrix Revolutions" is having a global release fairly much at the same instant, apparently the Australian release will be at 1am on November 6th (Thursday week). Bleah.

Something similar happened with the latest "Harry Potter" book. There was an embargo on opening the cardboard boxes with them inside until a particular global instant. Lots of children were all dressed up & attending events at bookshops at some quite peculiar times. It did make it quite a special event for them, I suppose.

It has, over the years, become something of a badge of pride amongst Australians that to see various world events we have to be up at all hours, and organise ourselves around them. It was quite a shock during the 2000 Sydney Olympics to have things happening during 'normal' times of day.

The bit that has me rather puzzled is there being an "Australian Premiere" on the Sunday afternoon before (November 2nd). So, why the big fuss about everything being simultaneous a few days after? Why not have the openings rolling around the world with the terminator, like that big Millennium dawn celebration they did (somewhat prematurely) at the start of 2000?

... and also related to time zones - both natural & as altered by society
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Spring Forward - Fall Back
Clocks go back one hour tonight in the UK, from BST (GMT+1) to GMT. So that's it for another summer!

La! And we are just 'springing forward' into our daylight saving. Hmmm ... does this mean Australia is closer, temporally speaking, to the UK or further away?
We now have Eastern Summer Time in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania & ACT; Eastern Standard Time in Queensland; Central Summer Time in South Australia; Australian Central Time in the Northern Territory; and Western Standard Time in Western Australia. That's 5 instead of the usual 3 zones.
Our national broadcaster, Radio National - part of the ABC - now has to do some very complex things to keep its programs going out over the whole continent.
comment link to Bill Cameron comment

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