May 31, 2006
Against evolution: the rise of brick-veneer Christianity
[Religious] and military systems fit well with industrial systems, like the logic of money fits with law and order. Each requires a life of obedience.
-- Paul, in Masculin, féminin, by Jean-Luc Godard
For the previous couple of haircuts I've noticed my barber has been less and less talkative. We used to carry on with great jollity about politics, Italian movies and women, especially women. Recently divorced, he'd been having trouble connecting with the sex who must be obeyed, and when he did, it sounded (to me, anyway) like he'd survived a night with the scuzziest scag in town.
I mention this because during the most recent haircut, while I was waxing lyrical about one of my favourite sexual encounters of times past, he interrupted to say, "But that's only lust." I happened to look at myself in the mirror just then and the look in my eyes was an unvoiced uh-oh.
There are but two ways to say the word "lust" in conversation: lustily or prudishly. His use was in full retreat from the former. He then revealed that he had, well, found Jesus. "I like to think of myself as Christian," he said.
My hair was only half cut so I thought I'd better respond, as opposed to fleeing. I tried to be positive, talking about the spiritual aspects of all religions, but ended by pointing out that they were usually suppressed in the interests of keeping the followers simple and in line. He didn't know about that but there was a lot of love in his heart these days. Fair enough, we could all use more love in our hearts in these heartless days.
Il barbiere did a lot of scripture quoting, as they do, and talked about the great friends he was finally meeting. But signore, I wanted to plead, these young Christians are so lame. I mean, the word was coined for them. True, they aren't as consciously evil as their politically lame counterparts, the Howard Youth, but their earnest wholesomeness is so yesteryear. Or should that be yester-century? Yester-millennium? Whatever time they're trying to resurrect, they seem totally out of sync with the 21st century. I said none of this because he's a genuinely nice guy. The conversation finally petered out. I congratulated him on his newfound happiness and we parted with the usual handshake.
But jeez … although it may be arrogantly presumptuous of me, I can't help but feel sorry for the bloke. He's one of a vast legion of lost and lonely souls whose education typically shut down their minds and left them with no great intellectual or spiritual goals. To me, there is nothing remotely spiritual about the resurgence of Christianity, particularly in its fundamentalist aspect. It's all about manipulating frightened people who are unable to cope with the wild, contradictory changes taking place in the world. They cluster together to shut out the fear of an anchorless existence. The glue that binds the heart of our so-called civilisation -- family and work -- is melting from the excesses of rapacious, competitive capitalism. Everything is coming unstuck and there are only a few ways to avoid the horrifying realisation that this history's future is a goner: give yourself over to time-erasing consumerism or join a fundamentalist sect of your local religion.
If you look at Australia's icon, John Howard (and his wife Janette), it's easy to see why brick-veneer Christianity is on the rise. Conservative, to the point of philistinism, and shallow, blinkered and regressive, it is luring the larval young into trying desperately to recreate the strict moral illusions of someone's faulty memory of a golden age where nothing immoral seemed to happen because no one would admit to its existence. The sixties unlocked sexuality from its corset of moral rectitude, but only for so long. Today the scaredy-cats have introduced a new, improved chastity belt, a chastity belt of the mind, if you will, and its use is being promoted in this era of "choice" as voluntary. Insidious? Enter that old brain stunner, family values.
Premarital sex may or may not be a good thing. It depends on your spiritual (as opposed to religious) awareness. If you're on a spiritual path, any sex is just another distraction. If you're not, it's one of the great brain-charging gifts of being human. And it goes lingam in yoni with love. But for Christians (and other religions), sex is an elemental force to be feared. Organised religion likes its followers to follow. It preaches marriage and family as central to the wellbeing of society, that is, a society attendant to its rules. It follows that sex is only allowed within marriage, because, besides procreation, the natural desire for multiple partners must be curbed. But it can't be curbed. If it could, the vast artistic history of humanity would have amounted to little more than songs like Doggie in the Window, painters like Norman Rockwell, and writers like CS Lewis.
In the end, the family is not the most central aspect to religion's idea of societal wellbeing. That (dis)honour belongs to a drudging, grinding work ethic in which the securing of a meaningless job is the most important goal in life. What better way to insure a constant workforce than the millstone of marriage and the Biblical exhortation to procreate further fodder for the workhouses of the future?
The evolution of our species has seen our god-like brains evolve to the point where they are now vastly superior to our bodies. (As to who gave us these brains, perhaps one day we will be evolved enough to comprehend this mysterious source.) For most of this painful evolution we have used our bodies like oxen in what has amounted to slave labour. Countless lives have been wasted over the millennia in service to an elite ranging from kings to corporate executives, with little or no time left to contemplate the mysteries. Now that we are beginning to know better, this elite is banking on 24/7 consumerism and a return to 19th century working hours to distract us yet again from contemplating the mysteries. But the history that has flourished for them and kept us in chains is coming to an end.
If we stand back and take a good hard look at the accomplishments of our lives, we will see that, unless they contributed to the positive evolution of the species, they haven't meant a damn thing. We've been conned into thinking our life has had meaning, when in fact, we have been little more than expendable worker bees, ciphers of existence.
There is only one way to exit the maze of little joys and big sufferings and the finality of death. Religion is a dead end. The brain is the gateway. It's time we started using it.
The super-minds of the future are unlikely to remember the 20th century for its Manhattan project or the moon shot, for those were merely spectacular human stunts. Because information processing is the key to all other acts, the building of ENIAC promises to be the human product most celebrated by its cyberdescendants. They will marvel that a bunch of derived apes with computers made of jelly managed to cobble together a technological civilization and high-level physics without blowing themselves up like kids in a fireworks factory. They will ... chuckle at the superstitious nature of people who actually believed a great spirit of the universe created and fawned over them, and then demanded their worship in exchange for a reprieve from eternal torture. How little humans understood that they were not the creations of gods, but the creators of minds as powerful as a god.
-- From Beyond Humanity, by Gregory S. Paul and Earl D. Cox
-- Gort Slypesunder
PS: If you want to take a quantum leap from these words, read the article and all comments here.
May 29, 2006
Harold in Paris
Willikers note: Here at last is the next entry of Harold Hark's Glorious European Vacation. As you will see, it takes place last autumn (northern). He passed through Paris before the terrible riots of November, though we will never know whether his very presence was a seed for the turmoil that followed. We know he survived his ordeal, because this story arrived a few weeks ago. Recent server troubles prevented it's publication until now.
To summarise events: At the conclusion of the first part of this series, Harold on the French Riviera, Hark had finally made it, penniless and destitute, to the doorstep of friends in a suburb just south of Paris. With them he hoped to recuperate while waiting for his new credit and ATM cards to be processed and delivered the following week. Not surprisingly, he found upon his arrival that …
They weren't home!
All the hope-infused energy I had maintained walking and hitchhiking from Nice now left me like the muffled fart of a Hovercraft's rubber skirt deflating as it docks.
Where were they? At work? Shopping in Paris -- perhaps taking a coffee aux Deux Magots? Or gone to London. I had to think fast; it was late afternoon and I couldn't just sit on their steps all night. Never had I seen myself as less valid, less capable. I was at the furthest reach of witlessness and things could only get worse. What the hell was I going to do? I was broke and about to be down and out in Paris. How unoriginal!
If Laurent and Julie were still in Fontenay, they might not come home until the wee hours, leaving me to hang around to the suspicion and gendarme-calling alarm of their neighbours. If they were in London, I faced having no money and nowhere to stay until Tuesday, when the credit card and keycard would be ready. Impossible! It looked like I would have to continue the journey, heading now to the town of Nijmegen in Holland, where I was sure to find sanctuary with Jaap de Ruyters, another old friend who was expecting me sooner or later. From there I could have the cards forwarded and eventually reclaim my life from this present and future purgatory among the wretched of earth.
A feeling of euphoria came over me as I ate the last of the Fréjus bread and finished the lukewarm water in the Orangina bottle. There was yet hope!
But no, no there wasn't. Between the front steps of a comforting apartment I was never going to enter and my destination in Holland there was finding my way through the city of Paris at night, without a map. Not to mention a further hitchhiking marathon over hundreds of kilometres through France and Belgium.
I tried to pry open the front windows of the apartment. Locked solid. There was a side window, just in front of the entrance to another apartment, but that was too risky. I tried the door on the trillion to one shot they had left it unlocked. Well, they weren't stupid, were they? At times like these I felt the cold, sneering breath of the gods. No one could be so ill prepared and expect to get away with it.
My map of France gave Paris a slightly larger little box than other prominent cities. From the vague outline of veins and arteries running in and out and around the vast, enormously gigantic megalopolis, replete, I was certain, with harrowing initiations at every step, I discovered the route to Reims in the northeast corner. It was simple. I would walk around Paris along the péripherique, the road that ringed the city. How far away was I? According to the map, not far.
It was the last day of October and unusually warm. The clouds were moving in slowly to keep the night warm too. I picked myself up and started walking. My sandals flapped along the sidewalks of dear Fontenay-aux-Roses, a pretty little suburb I could have lived in for the rest of my life, if only those heartless bastards had been home.
I walked for nearly an hour before reaching Route Nationale 20. By now Fontenay had become Bourg-la Reine. A sign read: Paris: 4.5 km. I walked on, trudging now with a sense of desperate perseverance. I came to a métro station, one served by the suburban line, the RER. I looked closely at the map on the wall and saw that RN 3 left Paris at the Porte de Pantin. I would reach the péripherique at the Porte d'Orleans. I nearly wept. It looked an enormous distance. All I lacked was a lousy few francs and I could have ridden the métro. Or if I'd had a Plan de Paris, the walk through the city could have proved adventurous.
I stopped at a boulangerie to spend my last centimes on whatever I could get. Taking out my last few coins, I was astonished to find that I had enough for a whole baguette. How could I have made such a wonderful mistake? I was at the point of ultimate penury and this sudden windfall was like winning the lottery. No one entering the gates of heaven could have been more joyous as I handed over my worldly wealth for the tastiest bread a down-and-outer could ever hope for.
I passed two more métro stations and each time I tried goading myself into panhandling the fare. I felt beaten; it was such a trifle! At Arcueil-Cachan I spotted a young Frenchman standing on the ground level platform. I was certain I wouldn't be refused. The young man even looked at me without turning away. I read a future of two kindred spirits mulling over the split ends of their lives in the glance that fell between us. Perhaps this jeune homme would be a turning point in my suddenly tattered life, both intellectual and spiritual; perhaps we would become friends. Without breaking stride I passed both saviour and station. Pride had struck. Better luck next life, I muttered to us both.
The name of the station had rung a bell. Arcueil-Cachan. Someone famous was buried in a cemetery in Arcueil … Erik Satie! I snorted with the gusto befitting a cultured clochard as I recalled listening to Aldo Ciccolini's first ever recordings of Satie's piano music. No one else before or since could have written such simple music, at once pensive and cheeky, and always melancholic.
Satie the eccentric had turned his afflictions into music; I was a penniless bum hoping to turn my affliction into a handout. We had another thing in common. He used to walk from this suburb into Paris, either to Montmartre or Montparnasse, before walking home again in the dark of night. I was following in his footsteps.
Why did the old genius have to be dead? Surely he and Suzanne Valadon, his ardent mistress, would have welcomed me into their parlour on behalf of my love for his music and her paintings.
Snorting again, I picked up a healthy butt from the sidewalk, even though I still had the remnants of a pouch of tobacco. Gauloise: cigarette of choice for the likes of me. It still contained six good drags. Things were looking up.
At last I came to the famous ring road at the Porte d'Orléans. Beyond it lay "the great good place" of legend, the "city of light" whose luminousness I was to gaze on from beyond the gates. Before me stood a dozen or more hitchhikers, spread out in separate groups, their thumbs out in all four directions. They looked tense and anxious; cars were not stopping and the day was going fast. I sat for a while and ate some bread, slaking my itinerant's thirst with Chateau La Pompe from the Orangina bottle. The water was tepid but it tasted like a very good year. The heel of my right foot was cracked and hurting. I examined it, muttering hopelessly. After a few months in sandals, both feet resembled a geomorphologist's nightmare.
Stiffness leapt for the locks of my muscles when I stood up. For a moment I considered hitchhiking, but in the quarter of an hour I had rested not one of the autostoppers had been picked up. I limped a few steps and then moved out.
I walked. The sun sank and disappeared as I passed the Portes de Gentilly, Italie, Choisy and Ivry; sometimes taking pedestrian crossings to the Paris side of the péripherique when the little walk space abruptly ended, sometimes being forced off it altogether. Walking, then, in bordertown deserted streets, the sidewalks decorated with puke and piss and lost shoes.
At the Porte de Vitry the péripherique suddenly narrowed, my walk space disappearing, apparently forever. Against natural law, the cars seemed to speed up, even though there was now one less lane. To my left, inside Paris, an immense plain of railroad tracks stretched into the gloom of early night. To my right, the usual escape route, an empty world stretched to the end of all horizons; I might walk for the rest of my life and never come out of that desolation.
The only choice was to take Vitry into Paris. Luck was finally with me; no other entry point could have been so forthright. I walked straight ahead to the Boulevard Massena, turned right and turned right again at the Rue Bruneseau and found myself back on the road to freedom, the rail yards behind me.
Like most freedoms, this one was short lived. The Rue Bruneseau, the border between Paris and Ivry-Sur-Seine, ended at Quai Marcel Boyer, au bord de la Seine. The Péripherique was to my left now. After a quick consultation with the map I devised a new plan. The Autoroute A4 began a little south and across the river. It would take me straight to Reims. I saw a bridge and made for it, relieved to be off the high wire of the ring road and strolling quietly along the river.
Walking along the Seine lifted me foolishly into thinking that things were going to be all right, that the infernal impediments of the last few days were about to end.
The bridge was actually two bridges set close together, each accomodating one way traffic. I chose the second, the sens unique going my way. Both bridges were eye-blindingly lit with fluorescent amber lights. Pedestrians rarely walked in these places and when they did the glow of their skin made them feel sickly, as if they lived in a world long since peeled of its ozone layer. The Autoroute traffic sped by on the other side, but when I got there I was dismayed to see that the lights on the side I was going to hitchhike on were out. In the glare of the amber world on the bridge I hadn't noticed the darkness that clearly made it impossible for drivers to see anyone standing there.
"How can this be?" I yelled at the top of my lungs. Invisible to the world, I howled into it. "Goddamn motherfuckers!" I tried to catch the eyes of motorists speeding by at more than 100 KPH. My eyes darted from the coming to the going and back to the coming like faraway beacons in the land of the risen dead. They tried targeting drivers and passengers at a distance, but it was all darkness out there, the headlights capturing my fear-figure far too late.
I hunkered on a patch of grass and ate some more bread. I got out my pouch of tobacco, Ajja 17 bleu corsé, bought what seemed like years ago in Nice, and rolled a cigarette. There wasn't much left. I'd be looking for more butts before all this was over. The ciggieboo helped; they always did. Like Chuck Noland's Wilson, they were there for the lost, lonely and friendless. I looked at the cigarette papers. Sup-Air. Each paper had a thousand tiny perforations. I said it aloud: "Each paper has a thousand tiny perforations." Crikey, I sounded like Bill Cosby. I said that aloud, too: "Crikey, I sound like Bill Cosby!" Well, let me tell you, this was the funniest thing I'd ever said. I began to giggle. Not the giggle of a fully-grown adult suddenly overcome with mirth, but the giggle of a toddler who is being tickled mercilessly. A blur of passing voitures en vitesse took no notice while I shook, rattled and, right foot giving out, rolled over backwards. As my arms and legs flew up and tiny pebbles sharply massaged my back, I exhaled a roar of laughter. Jerking and twitching hilariously, I finally came to rest on my right side. It all took a couple of seconds, but the strobe light of the passing cars made it seem timeless, discrete frames flashing, one by one, on the screen of a darkened theatre at the periphery of consciousness. I was totally alone, a disappearing act about ready to skip into the wild blue bonkers, away we go, laddie-o.
I returned to the bridge, crossed over the useless Autoroute, and walked into Charenton. Following my nose, I hoped whatever streets I chose would lead me back to the péripherique. As karma would have it, the street I was on ended at what appeared to be an immense park. I took off my sandals and walked barefoot in the cool grass. My feet sighed like a maiden who has just been gently penetrated after an hour of exquisite foreplay. Soon the grass gave way to woods. I skirted around them, keeping to the left. From the corner of my eye I saw something moving in the trees. For a moment I froze. A man emerged. He came towards me ... what the? ... and passed without even noticing my dumbfounded presence. Another shadow stepped from the wood. He stood indecisively for a moment before turning back. More shadows moved; I could hear muffled voices, a high-pitched laugh. By now the hackles on the back of my neck relaxed. It was not another alien invasion, like the one I'd foreseen in the Roman suburb, but the shifting shadowy movements of our gay brethren. A further shadow emerged as a fat bellied hulk with unsure movement. I understand French well enough to know I was being offered a blowjob. I snarled aloud, frightening the poor man back into the woods, "What curse upon mankind has insured that it is never young maidens who come out of the woods to offer themselves? Why must the night flowers and sleeping birdies and shy little animals always be disturbed in their cuddly places by stubble-faced cocksuckers with bones the size of baseball bats?"
I later discovered that I was in the Bois de Vincennes, the midnight home of cruising pansies. At least it wasn't that other great Parisian park, the Bois de Boulogne, where folks liked to dump bodies. Be that as it may, not to mention at any rate, a half hour later and I was still in it. There was even a lake. Just before reaching lake's edge, I joined an avenue and kept bearing left with it. All well and good except that the avenue began to curve to the right. But now I could hear traffic on the ring road again. And there it was straight ahead. Malheureusement, the unfortunate avenue I was on passed underneath it and there was no way to scramble up the sides. Off I went again: "Goddamn French cockfuckingsuckers and their cockfuckingsucking goddamn stupid sonofabitching … Jesus H. Christ!" I screamed as I walked helplessly into Paris.
At the Avenue Daumesnil I got my directions confused. I thought it ran parallel to the péripherique and started following it. But instead of the noise of the ring road's relentless traffic, I began to notice more and more people, more activity. "Stupid arsehole," I muttered to myself, "you've fucked up again, haven't you?" I turned down streets blindly. Hot-stepping night folks were swarming. A clock in a bar read 11 PM. I should have asked someone where the hell I was, but all I could do was cringe and avoid everyone's eyes. I just kept walking.
It was a warm evening, thank the Good Lloyd, perhaps the last one until spring, and Paris was enjoying itself. Couples passed by arm in arm. North African men strolled together, pinkies intertwined. Three generations of family came out of a restaurant, the elders gesticulating and arguing while the youngsters leapt and laughed. "What an outrageous display of happiness," I sneered. "Typical Catholics, allowing children to have fun past their bedtime. Probably got 'em drunk on red wine, to boot." But more to the point, how had I suddenly become as outside of this happiness as if I had gotten off the métro on Pluto?
A great intersection loomed ahead. I saw a métro station, oddly enough the first one I'd come to. A glass-encased métro map beckoned me to come find my vous-êtes-ici on the planet. The Place de la Nation? "Great Jumping Jesus Beans," I exclaimed, an unnoticeable madmen in the throng, "I'm only a few blocks from Père Lachaise cemetery. Move over Jeem Morrison!"
With that, I sat on a bench and reran my ritual to prevent suicide. I ate, drank, and rolled a cigarette. People of all nationalities strolled or hurried by my invisible bulk. I no longer cared. They were so many lost souls like myself. Half of them had probably experienced worse in their lives, and the other half had it to look forward to. Buddha was right: all is suffering. No matter how many smiles or moments of intense pleasure, it's all going to end in tears.
After the smoke and ersatz libation, I studied the métro map carefully. "What's this?" I said to the map, "a bit of ... what's that word rhymes with fuck? ... oh yeah, luck!" The Cours de Vincennes shot straight out of the Place de la Nation, past the hellish péripherique and on to RN 34 and the road to the Oz-like city of Reims.
It was nearly two in the morning when I dropped my bag on the outskirts of Paris. A bicyclist whizzed by, calling out, "Bonne route!" I waved joyously; contact at last. I opened the bag and pulled out my only jumper, white of course. The air was moist; clouds hung low. I felt chilled and exhausted. I rolled another cigarette and stuck out my thumb. A little deux-chevaux pulled over almost immediately.
Two quick rides took me to the further outskirts of Paris. A country crossroads in the wee hours convinced me I'd had enough for one day. I walked toward open country and in a few minutes came across a small rail yard. I leapt a ditch by the side of the road and climbed up a small embankment. Before me stood a solitary, open boxcar. Shah Jehan, beholding the completed Taj Mahal, could not have been more ecstatic. Ronald Coleman, entering Shangri-La could not have been more enraptured. Joining both of them, I wept for joy.
Such a luxurious dwelling should have been filled to capacity with clochards en vacances, but I knew it would be empty; the gods had reserved it for me after my absurd ordeal. I climbed into a spacious, clean, one room hotel suite, the perfect repository for a man who had just walked nine hours for the want of a few francs.
After taking a piss out the boxcar door, I crawled into the old torn and taped up rip stop nylon sleeping bag. The distant sound of engines shunting cars gently vibrated up through the rails and slatted foundation of my crib to massage my tormented bones and muscles. Twice I woke up with an excruciating charley horse: from a dead sleep I had to force myself to hop around the car until the twisted muscle relaxed. And each time, as I fell asleep again, I wondered how I would deal with simulteneous charley horses in both legs. Not exactly a Zen Koan, but that's survival for you.
Posted by Willikers at 2:11 PM
May 28, 2006
The Weekly Gee (18)
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
Posted by Willikers at 3:24 PM
May 25, 2006
Is John Howard a psychopath?
In his opinion piece, Oh, to be so morally complacent, Robert Manne stopped short of calling John Howard a psychopath. He said:
The world now generally acknowledges the injustice and illegality of the invasion and the catastrophe that, even after the appointment of the so-called national unity Government, now confronts Iraq. Are Bush and Howard really unable to see what it is that they have done? I can only speak with confidence of the Prime Minister.
Howard took this country to war on the claim that he knew that Saddam Hussein had a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that posed a terrible danger to the world. This turned out to be entirely false. Howard argued that an invasion to bring about regime change in Iraq could not be justified. When weapons of mass destruction were not discovered, he argued that regime change was precisely the reason we had gone to war. Howard argued that the war would be swiftly concluded and that the people in Iraq would welcome the invading forces as their liberators. Three years after the invasion, the rate of insurgency is steadily increasing; 82 per cent of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence in their country of occupying forces; the country is descending into unspeakably brutal Shiite-Sunni civil war; very many tens of thousands of people who would be alive today, were it not for the invasion, now lie dead.
Even if Howard continued to defend his actions strenuously, if he at least was anxious or agitated about this state of affairs, I would be able to feel for him some respect. What unnerves me is the calmness of his demeanor, the apparent near-entire absence in him of a troubled conscience or the kind of self-scrutiny that might lead him eventually to remorse. Howard is one of the most nimble but also one of the most morally complacent politicians I have ever observed.
Howard rightly asks us to contemplate the pain of the families of the 3000 innocent people who were murdered on September 11. Does he, do we, feel nothing for the families of the tens of thousands of Iraqis whose lives have been lost in the killings and the murders that have occurred since the invasion of Iraq, for whose involvement in which our Prime Minister was honored, in Washington last week, with a black-tie dinner and a 19-gun salute?
Several online dictionaries give this definition of a psychopath:
A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse
Writing about corporate psychopaths in The Times of London, Giles Whittell, adds the following conditions for psychopathic behavior:
insincere, arrogant, insensitive, remorseless, shallow, impatient, erratic, unreliable, unfocused, parasitic, dramatic, unethical and bullying.
Let's take a look at these definitions as they apply to John Howard:
• Our Johnny is clearly a standout psychopath. He, and by virtue of his leadership, the Liberal Party, is overwhelmingly amoral. That is, neither moral nor immoral, but simply lacking in moral standards, principles or criteria (Random House Dictionary).
• He is without empathy or remorse. His continuing refusal to comprehend the extent of his crimes against humanity both at home and in Iraq, speak volumes for his dissociated personality.
• Unlike his favourite stand over man, Bill Heffernan, Howard's aggression is more aggressive-passive. He is too pragmatically mundane to lose his temper. Instead it manifests in peevish protests at interviewers who ask questions he doesn't want to answer. If only one of them would keep pushing him until he explodes.
• Similarly, he keeps a tight lid on his arrogance. It only shows when he has defied reality by conning the rubes yet again. You can tell he's being arrogant by the way he walks. Instead of the usual stumbling, awkward gait of the inauthentic man that he is, the walk suddenly attains a risible jauntiness.
• Insincere? The larval dodderers in those retirement villages he used to visit ad nauseam think he's the most sincere person since Jesus Christ. But we know better. He is more like a neurasthenic car salesman whose lack of TV-commercial enthusiasm is misinterpreted as sincerity as he paints the lemon gold.
• John Howard is insensitive to the core, but as the politician's politician he has learned to appear sensitive when there is a vote to be won. His insensitivity and insincerity both spring from the same dark hole in his desiccated heart.
• At first glance, he could not be said to be perverted, at least not in the sexual sense. But perverted he is, for playing the pied piper from hell for a generation of Australians. He has not only led them into the valley of greed and fear, but he has encouraged the worst in his ministers and backbenchers. He has turned formerly decent people such as Philip Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone into political vampires.
• Howard's shallowness is legendary. He knows only politics and sport. The "politics" he knows is small and self-serving; no "big pictures" for him, just wedges and deceit. As for sport, he has turned it from a weekend pastime into the national reason for existence.
But his shallowness doesn't stop there. Turning the country into a replica of an animated cardigan, he has shut down the minds of Australians by turning them away from tertiary education in favour of trades. Let's face it; a nation of tradesmen is not going anywhere. The natural human quest for knowledge has been undermined and presented as an endeavour fit only for Communists and other un-Australians. To make sure no one transgresses this great call for mediocrity, Howard has made higher education all but impossible for anyone but the financial elite.
• Parasitic? He hardly knows where to fasten himself next: one day it's on Dubya's shoe, the next it's in Dubya's pocket, the next it's on Dubya's back. Where he really fits best is up Dubya's arse.
• He was unethical well before becoming Prime Minister, but with the establishment of core and non-core election promises and the subsequent trashing of his Code of Ministerial Responsibility, he has become the most unethical Prime Minister in Australian history.
• Howard's bullying is subtle. Not because he is subtle, but because he is too much of a wuss to frighten anyone. Instead he draws his power from those around him, as formidable an array of political thugs as any man of small stature has ever assembled.
• There are a few psychopathic tendencies that don't apply to John Howard. He is not a criminal per se, although his policies favour big business, which is little more than a legalised Mafia. You can't call him erratic because he never deviates from his heartless path. Likewise, he is always reliable and focused; there is nothing else in his life to distract him. And the last thing he will ever be accused of is being dramatic. Except for that one, evil-charged moment when he defined the Australia he has made: "WE will decide who comes to this country, and the circumstances in which they come."
If you read the Whittell article you will come to the conclusion that psychopaths inhabit the corporate world almost exclusively. But they are also found almost exclusively as leaders of nations. It is to Australia's undying shame and embarrassment that its leader John Howard -- as full-blown a psychopath as any -- is such a dill as well.
-- Chet LaMerde
May 18, 2006
When Johnny met Georgie he squealed like Sally ...
... and he's still squealing. Not since Mussolini rode with Hitler has such a traitorous little satrap been so feted by so powerful a madman.
Besides Australia being America's only friend, what is the secret of Johnny and Georgie's long-term romance? Said Georgie, "Umeruhcans'll be forever grateful to our man of steel for sellin' us Australia so cheap." Said Johnny, "We are a nice fit, aren't we dear … oops."
It's good to know someone is having a good time while Iraq burns. Labor's Kevin Rudd: "It is as if we are living in two different worlds. Foreign policy triumphalism from John Winston Howard from the very safe distance of Washington — in contrast to the day-to-day accumulation of the most gruesome evidence of unfolding foreign policy failure in Baghdad."
Rupert Murdoch may have given Johnny a jittery moment by suggesting the PM should quit while he's still ahead, say in Decembe. But honestly, can you see John Howard doing anything else? With no other interests outside of politics, cricket and wreath-laying, it's a sure bet he'll have to be removed kicking and screaming.
In the final analysis the majority of Australians are proud of their Prime Minister. He keeps their heads down and their expectations lowered so they don't have to worry about messy intangibles like integrity, decency, honour, that sort of thing. From their vantage point, he might even be regarded as a spunk. Not the kind of man you and I might regard as a spunk, but a more limited, conservative sort. Because let's face it, Little Johnny Howard is the pinup boy of Christian Fundamentalists, mean old ladies who wear a different coloured cardigan for every day of the week, boofy tradesmen, corporate psychopaths, anti-intellectual aspirationals, xenophobes and racists … and so forth. His amazing feat is that he has made everyone of them look, act and sound like him.
-- Chet LaMerde
May 15, 2006
So much for the cow pats in the field
Bilegrip appears to be working, but now there are other problems. These should be sorted out by the middle of next week.
The diabolical server problems of the past few weeks (last week in particular) caused the floor of PPF headquarters to look like closing time at a barbershop. The hair-tearing became so intense that most of us look now like chemotherapy patients one or two removes from having to wear a balaclava. Pity poor Gort Slypesunder whose hairline has receded to the point where he had to reach over to tear Chet LaMerde's hair. (Or should that be pity poor LaMerde.) Benoît Balz exited on eggbeater legs at the first whiff of trouble, so I was finally called back from my dung inspecting to sweep the hair into a corner and deal with the catastrophe. Our other staff member, Harold Hark, is of course still penniless in Europe. As soon as I have a free moment I'll post his latest sad sack story, Harold in Paris.
If you want a taste of what we were going through, click here. Many of these people are still locked out of their sites.
Worst of all, during the troubles not one of us remembered that none of this means anything anyway. Yet another instance of people locking themselves in a box as if there were nothing beyond it.
May 14, 2006
The Weekly Gee (17)
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
Posted by Willikers at 1:14 PM
May 5, 2006
Three cheers for the AFL
For once our thoroughly deserved cynicism was proven wrong. Against just about everyone's bleak prediction that the AFL would uphold the draw in Launceston, the league came out in favour of justice and sportsmanship by awarding the four points to Fremantle.
Only the folks who worship authority -- but the rules say … but it's the law … my country right or wrong -- are displeased.
The AFL should be proud of this decision; it can't have been easy. In an era where corruption and incompetence is the rule of government, it's the first positive, even noble, act we've seen in a long time.
Hopefully the fans of all clubs who are cheering this rare example of fairness will not overlook the abject lack of it in the inhumane policies of the government that continues to bring shame on Australia.
Note: The server fiasco has continued to dog Bilegrip. All energy has gone into rectifying the problems, which we hope are now behind us. Normal programming is scheduled to resume on Monday.
-- Hyper Roland
Posted by Hyper Roland at 11:53 AM