Time for you to upgrade,
Fuck's sake, time to load!

Deltron 3030, 'Upgrade (A Brymar College Course)'

I haven't posted here for a while, but after coming back to look at the new Blogger interface and the new web-log sample templates, and reminding myself of the overall superiority of Blogger over LiveJournal, I am tempted to resurrect it. You may see some action in this space in the future.


She's a Bachelor

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what’s best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes

Cake, 'Short Skirt Long Jacket'

Max finished her exams on Wednesday. Since she's far too smart to go around wondering whether she passed anything (mostly it's just wondering whether she got a higher distinction or the Nobel Prize) she now qualifies for one of those degree things. Although I feel compelled to remind her that I have two of the things, especially as she's talking about getting an MSc in a couple of years. Still, anyone with the will to study units as crazy as that Medical Genetics one deserves a medal, as well as a degree. Too many arbitrary, unconnected facts. Hypocholesterolaemia, chronic myloid leukemia, haemochromatosis, papillary thyroid neoplasias. Primary risk factors include eating icecream, and learning the names of the disorders.

Congratulations babe.

Snivelling Wretch

The Path is the Mask of Love;
Away, away ...
The Flow is the Task above Today
There is no Other Way
(you gotta trust us!)

Captain Beefheart, 'Trust Us'

Came across something I'd held onto for reasons of nostalgia yesterday while engaged in a whirlwind cleanup. I thought I'd reproduce it here for the amusement of all:


I have written in to apologise to the inconvenience caused to you during the loss period of your bicycle.

As I was unsure of the law withstanding in Western Australia, I thought that the "finder's keeper's" theory applies here. However, I did try to seek for the bicycle's owner (what is you) by cycling it to University nearly everyday since last July, hoping that I will bump into you one day. I felt now that the method that I had chosen was rather inactive.

Secondly, I will like to apologise for not revealing the truth when confronted by you that day. The main reason was that I was feeling afraid and hence at that moment of time, I was behaving abnormal.

Please be ensure that I am also eager to find the bicycle's owner. In fact, I was wondering everyday when you will see me and stop me. If that happens, I will gladly hand the bike over. Also, I will like to re-emphasize that I found your bicycle by the bushes and not by unlawful methods. If so, why will I have cycled it to University nearly immediately after I have found it?

Thousand apologies for the inconvenience and emotional distress that I have caused all these while and I hope that you could let out a sign of relief now that your bicycle has been recovered.

Sorry for all the inconveniences.

Yours sincerely

Surely, no theft would be worth such crawling? I will treasure this letter forever.


I'd like to leave the country,
For a month of Sundays,
Burn the town where I was born!

On Sunday morning I'm flying out of this country on Malaysia Airlines for a month of touring in Cambodia and Vietnam. The last couple of days have largely been occupied with making the final preparations for the trip. Personally, I've always enjoyed it more when other people have done these things for me. I don't like having to think about things like insurance.

I keep saying to myself 'it's going to be the best thing I've ever done' and on some level I'm sure it will be, but at the same time I'm becoming increasingly apprehensive about disasters major (leg blown off, contraction of paralytic wasting disease, taken hostage by terrorist group) and minor (the runs, getting ripped off by a smelly, unpleasant hotelier) that may transpire during the course of the trip. I have this feeling that a transformation into an unpleasant statistic is pending, somehow. But at the same time, I keep thinking 'Piles of human skulls! Best thing ever!' and that is no small comfort. Not only that, but when I get back into town it will be in anticipation of a week or so down south, which will be the perfect unwinder.

Hope you'll all remember my name when I get back. And Chas, email me your phone number in Mt Barker if you want to come and see Return of the King with me and Max while we're in Albany after Christmas. I think it'd be novel. Well, based on, anyway.


Not really an appropriate word, but a good one at least. The last thing to mention in this disordered heap of events past, present and future is the completion of my own degree. Eventual completion. Handed in my thesis about three weeks ago today. The 12,000 words I had to write in the last week before the due date would probably qualify as the hardest work I've ever done. I punched in considerably over one hundred hours from Monday morning through to Sunday evening, which is a sweatshop workload, but instead of rolling cigarettes to kill Western dogs, I was listening to the same soundbite enhanced forty-nine different ways and then describing the results quantitatively (with bollocksy graphs and tables) and qualitatively (with bollocks in its pure, verbal form). Read like Hemingway in the end, not.

I have also been told unofficially that I got higher distinctions for all my second semester coursework, which I found surprisingly gratifying, almost as if I'd received an overdue renewal of my membership in the winners' circle after a bizarre Australia Post screwup. Although I'd be far from astonished if they miraculously transmuted into ordinary distinctions or credits at the last minute. Or fails. No! It shall not be.

So, off to get a job, snicker.

In other news, good luck to anyone getting baptised in the next couple of days. I hear people are. Don't catch a cold!



He dresses incorrectly, no one taught him how ...
(Where to go? But he just don't get out enough!)
He dresses incorrectly, no one taught him how ...
(Talk to girls? But he's just too spotty!)
He dresses incorrectly, no one taught him how ...
(Seventeen! He not keen on being like anyone else)
So he just plays on his computer game ...

Blur, 'Jubilee'

Fresh from sidewise criticism of others over indiscriminate searching for web-log material, I arrive to shamelessly peddle my own mish-mash of situational moral philosophy, in relation to an incident today involving Mat Cole and some of the UCC ex-post-freshers. The event: Mat is playing SSB: Melee with assorted ex-post-Fs. Ex-post-Fs decide they want to go all-on-all four-way Jigglypuff combat (imagine the excitement!). Mat demurs. The ex-post-Fs relieve Mat of his controller and give it to Thomas Castiglione after first canvassing the possibility of simply ganging up on him in-game to hasten his elimination. Mat, hurt by this display of disregard, storms out, slamming the door into the UCC-UniSFA corridor and breaking one of its panes of glass.


  • Mat is still a giant tool.

  • As a loser, you shouldn't expect other people to accept you into their social group simply because they themselves are losers, or something only slightly better. Losers themselves are quick to seize every available opportunity to kick downwards.

  • I know this at least as well as anyone, since I have a serious tendency to kick downwards myself.

  • Seeing people woefully mistreat someone makes you lose a lot of respect for them - even if you agree with the essentials of their perspective.

  • The ex-post-Fs are a pretty ignoble bunch.

  • Chas' efforts to chastise (no pun intended) the ex-post-freshers after the event lacked conviction. Colm's were somewhat hypocritical in light of his own past behaviour towards Mat. Both are in a position where they don't have to interact with Mat in his most annoying form - well, maybe not Chas. As am I, since a couple of years ago I was consistently mean enough to Mat that he realised he had no hope of making friends with me.

  • If Mat, as he has stated, never returns to UCC, what sort of life will he lead? After all, he has spent the last twelve months in here all day, every day, playing computer games. He has no job, and isn't studying. And now, he probably has no remaining social group (although I think he may be roleplaying with the Gamers' Guild, but then, that may not necessarily constitute a social group).

  • I wonder what kind of person Mat will be in ten years' time. The thought seriously disturbs me.

  • Some people have no luck whatsoever, and no real means of making it for themselves. This is why society needs safety nets.

Shrug. Can't say I really care all that much; I don't think people should be obliged to associate with, or tolerate, people they don't get along with at all, and who are basically annoying twits. Courtesy is a reasonable social requirement. Anything more than a minimal level of feigned amiability is asking too much. Besides, Mat may end up faring better when his transformation into a viable social being is no longer anyone's pet project.

EDIT: Mat's back. Apparently he's apologising for his over-reaction as well. I'm almost impressed.


Accretions of Black Air

Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucinations of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death.
Flann O'Brien, 'The Third Policeman'

Nearly there now.

They stuck pins in me, to make me sick so I wouldn't get sicker. I got sickish.


Avast me beauties!

Rumbustious Ramblings

Went to sea, aboard the ship, the Oakley Palomino,
For to sail around the bay and get drunk in the casino!
Oy! Oy oyyyy!
I put my hat upon my head and my clothes around my torso,
Lots of money in my pockets to spend in the casino!
Oy! Oy oyyy! (oy oy oy oy) ...

Bedridden, 'Oakley Palomino'

My pirate name is:

Captain Tom Flint

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!


I am attempting to make this post using w3m, the shiny new text browser I've just started using. I have to say, it's rocking all over Lynx at this point. I mean, it's actually capable of rendering tables and frames. How cool is that? It renders the ASP of my favourite Tekken message board quite faultlessly, and scarily, seems quite happy with Blogger as well. And if you're feeling daring, you can even overlay images on xterms for that 'that's just wrong!' feeling!

Enough praise.

Meat Revisited

And the flesh you so fancifully fry,
Is murder ...

The Smiths, 'Meat is Murder'

Somewhat lazy quote, I'll admit. I'm currently trialling a reversion to the consumption of chicken and red meat. I'm finding it quite tasty. I'd been toying with the idea of either becoming a vegan or stopping vegetarianism altogether for some time, as my position perched on top of the fence was becoming quite irritating. Moving in with Max has decided me to attempt flesh once more. So, to the cynical potential Menz Group members amongst you: am I being emasculated by marching timidly towards my girlfriend's dietary practices, or remasculated by shovelling down a bloody great steak? Talk to me when you see me, and draw your own conclusions.

Max has been screen-printing for the last couple of days. She makes it look so easy I'm feeling almost inspired enough to take on those 'Punish the Empty Triangle' T-shirts that have been mooted for some time.


I've got a new apartment baby,
And it protects me from the lonely whistling streets ...

Custard, 'Apartment'

For those who didn't know: Max and I moved into an apartment in Claremont on the weekend. The address is 3/28 Shenton Rd, Claremont. I have, for some reason, been keeping this a little hush-hush, so apologies to anyone who feels I've been keeping them out of the loop after finding out by accident because of some loose-lipped gossip. It's not that I don't like you or think you deserve to know things, it's just that I'm a naturally secretive person. I also have a marked tendency to enjoy presenting surprising things to unsuspecting people as faits accomplis. Grovelling to the imagined legions of people emotionally dismembered by being kept in the dark aside, the move has been a grand success, and the place is full of beautiful things that belong to me, to Max, and now, to us both I suppose.

And now, for something completely different.


I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you ...

Nick Cave, 'Into My Arms'

I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of my personal views regarding faith, religion, spirituality, science and the existence of higher powers. I don't expect I'll get very far, because quite naturally there's an awful lot of ground to cover. I've decided to do this because one of my friends 'found God' (for want of a better term) recently and when I discussed it with her she mentioned that in the process of deciding to become a practising Christian another friend of mine had discussed my religious views with her. Horrified by the notion of my heartfelt cosmological understanding being the subject of approximate scuttlebutt amongst my social circle, I have decided to offer a summary thereof.

Firstly, I don't believe in God. I was never taught to believe in God or any other higher power as a child, and ever since I've had the mental faculties required to pretend to oneself one is making a decision on the existence of God, I have actively chosen not to believe in God. Nothing in my own personal experience has made me want to change this belief. Obviously, I can't prove God doesn't exist, and I'm quite happy to accept the possibility that there could be a higher power (so I suppose in that sense I'm an agnostic) but I really, genuinely feel that there is no God, nor any other, similar being or group of beings.

Secondly, I don't believe in souls. Along with not believing in God (and specifically, I suppose, a Christian God), I also don't believe in an afterlife. Not that the concept of the Christian afterlife really makes any sense if there isn't a God. And, of course, I don't believe in reincarnation. In my ideal world, I think the afterlife would consist of another world similar to this one, with all the concommitant joys and trials. I don't think I would want an eternity in perfect union with God, even if such a thing were possible. Although I know that feeling is utterly senseless.

The word 'soul', as it is commonly used, is quite a useful one. People use it to mean those characteristics they consider most intrinsic to a person: virtues and vices they have in abundance, their outlook, their levels of happiness, funkiness, whatever. Fine. I can take that usage, although I believe these characteristics are expressed as part of a person's mind, and not as part of some other, elusive quantity. But I don't believe in immortal souls.

Thirdly, I think that human beings are (again for want of a better term) machines. That is, a human being is effectively a very complex, but perfectly natural (in the sense that is governed by physical laws that apply to all other things in the same way) mechanism that interacts with the environment about it. This isn't a revolutionary belief, but quite a standard one that dates back at least a couple of centuries. It's also worth noting that imagining a human as a giant clockwork watch is not particularly useful metaphorically speaking. Humans aren't just static machines that always work the same way: humans are constantly changing physical processes. Your 'self', and mine, however it is defined, is in a constant state of flux. Just as a side note, I think the clear and immediate effects that alcohol (and to a greater extent psychotropic drugs) have on one's personality are strong evidence that those things you consider to be 'you' are really just the normal operating conditions of a very complicated mechanism. Those operating conditions can be deliberately changed by external stimuli.

The most complicated part of the human machine is obviously the brain. From an aesthetic viewpoint, I think the human brain is easily amongst the most fascinating and beautiful natural phenomena one can ever have the pleasure of even attempting to comprehend. If I'm reducing the things in my immediate environment to components of a mechanistic worldview, then I suppose I have to describe the 'people' I 'know' as just incredible configurations I can interact with in a moderately consistent, predictable manner.

Anyway, you get the general idea about my beliefs, and also, about my taste. So now, on to how I feel about spirituality and religion.

I think the way people talk about their spiritual experiences is very interesting. Since I don't believe in God, I don't believe that people actually talk to Him or in any way commune with Him, either. I think, somewhat cynically, that the fact that people so often connect their spirituality with 'nature' (whatever that means) and a free, uncluttered environment, or with moments of extreme emotional tension, for good or bad, is evidence that what people call 'spirituality' is just having strong emotions and suddenly noticing that you have them.

Just like most of you, I've experienced moments of almost euphoric personal satisfaction whilst wandering through beautiful forests in contemplation of the wonder of the universe. I've had emotions of love and anger so overpowering it would be easy to explain them as interventions by some higher power. But the key word in that sentence is 'explain'. People make up stories about what causes them to feel the way they do, to give themselves a basis on which to understand the world around them. They aren't likely to make up stories along the lines of 'the combination of fresh air, exertion, sunlight and contemplation of something intellectually stimulating resulted in an increase of my serotonin levels' (note my unscientific lack of comprehension of neurochemistry by the way). This is because, at first sight, they just don't help much. So instead they come up with something roughly along the lines of 'God entered my heart, as he does at all times when I am virtuous and at peace with the world'.

When people start believing each other's artistically concocted stories about how the world works, and using them to acquire a sense of personal safety, to justify all manner of arbitrary personal feelings and base drives, and to get a better grip on the distribution of property and leisure time in their society, that's when you get religion. As you may be able to sense from this introductory sentence, I'm not overwhelmingly positive when it comes to religion. I see religion as a way of explaining away the reality one observes, of stopping oneself from conducting a proper process of inquiry into one's interactions with other people, and of deluding oneself about one's personal worth. There are big differences between different religions, of course, but one thing they have in common is a reliance on completely unprovable assertions about the nature of reality that actively encourage people not to examine the world around them. This is referred to as 'having faith'. I think faith sucks. I'm quite happy for people to axiomatise things about their existence in order to proceed in a constructive manner. But I vehemently dislike the practice of adding to these axioms an extraneous, hierarchical teleology with lots of contradictory ramifications, and then clinging to it to the point of death and murder.

Religion insults and denies the natural wonder of the world around us by explaining it as a creation of God (an explanation which throughout the ages has stood against proper investigation of that world). Religion causes the perpetuation of injustice by duping some people into an acceptance of their straitened personal circumstances, and offering others a vindication of the oppression that it gratifies them to continue. Religion makes a mockery of, and devalues almost utterly, one's personal decision to live according to certain moral precepts by linking this decision to a crude system of punishment/reward, enlightenment/ignorance, fortune/misfortune. By all means, say 'I shall not kill'. But make this decision your own. To my mind, accepting religion is somewhat akin to tying a blindfold around one's head and pleading 'Hold me!' to an unresponsive world.

In conclusion, I'd just like to say that the nature of belief is obviously quite complex and some people who read this will likely point out that in my impassioned ideological ranting I've no doubt indulged in some of the sloppy thought processes I'm so eager to criticise. If you feel this way, take a moment to mentally weed out those parts and search for the core of what I'm trying to communicate. Other readers may well be quite offended by the anti-religious tone of the last few paragraphs. I'm truly sorry for this. Also, I don't think of you any less because you don't agree with my views. I saw this post just as a way of getting across my own point of view. I tend to polemicise when I do this, which tends in turn to create a view train wrecks of logic, emotion, and hyperbole.



Review: Hulk

I took very low expectations to Hulk, which I saw with Leighton at Innaloo on Thursday night. After seeing a string of unimpressive action blockbusters (Daredevil, Matrix Reloaded and the acceptable but still ultimately poor X-Men 2), I felt that it was perfectly reasonable to fear that Ang Lee, with all respect to his undoubted directorial ability, would be unable to save a comic-book adaptation from the pitfalls that plague the genre.

I'm an Ang Lee fan. Of the three or four of his films that I'd seen prior to Hulk, the only one that had offended me was the tepid Ice Storm, with its lousy plot and uninteresting characters in search of permafrosted profundity. Whereas, on the other hand, I was a complete sucker for the cinematic beauty and genre-winking understated humour of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. As for Sense and Sensibility, well I'm enough of a man to enjoy the odd happily-ever-after middle-class Austen fantasy now and again.

But could Ang Lee really interest me in a story about a mild-mannered scientist who (in the all-too-easily-explained inexplicable manner of comics) turns into a giant green angry ape when he gets riled? The answer, surprisingly, was yes. Despite the film having been previewed to me in various media as pretentious, overblown crap, I enjoyed it rather a lot.

I was quite happy to indulge the fairytale photography of the Banner backstory, complete with garden gates opening on to bleak deserts, and duelling plush toys, a visually symbolic feast which is later recapitulated with apocalyptic variations and pictures of empty swings in the shifting sands. The film is laced with rather blatant visual references to its character's emotions and psychology (mushroom clouds, closed doors, verdant gardens etc.) but these, along with the 'innovative' scene cuts (constant comic-panel-esque shot cuts, fadeouts and dragalongs), are to be enjoyed as cheesy, reverential trappings of the genre movie, not pedantically reviled.

I haven't seen Chopper (have a rented copy sitting on my coffee table right now, actually) but I've heard Eric Bana was rather good in it. He's far from brilliant in Hulk but does manage to exude likeability in a way that a lot of American actors of the Affleck mould simply can't. He just doesn't look like an arrogant prick, so when the unbelievably sleazy Josh Lucas character wheels and deals his way in, we're quite pleased to see him get his head beaten in by an empowered nerdy guy. Nick Nolte plays Banner's maniac dad as a grizzled trash-collecting perv genius, and some grey-haired yank with a stick up his bum plays the military man who's out to crush his mad scientist dreams forever. Even if Jennifer Connelly just switches into Beautiful Mind mode and mainly just sits there saying mildly assertive things while exposing her ever-so-charmingly bucked teeth, at least she isn't the abysmal Jennifer Garner - at least Connelly can act. So the acting in this movie isn't bad at all. It's a lot better than the competition.

What about the all-important action eye-candy? A leading complaint amongst reviews of this film that I've seen is that it takes too long to get into the action. Well, frankly, I thought all of its aforementioned contemporaries got into the action too fast, too frequently, and in too cluttered a way to hold one's attention. The fight scenes in Hulk, by contrast, are relatively few in number (I think there's only about three or four) and are charmingly goofy rather than trying to win you with 'beautifully choreographed' (read: implausible and overlong) action. I got quite a kick out of seeing the big green guy (who was well-animated in CGI that simply shouldn't be copping the amount of criticism that it is) pick up a twenty foot wide metal door that must have weighed about fifteen fictitious tonnes and throw it like a frisbee through a couple of solid concrete walls. The same goes for all the leaping about and tank-tossing. Much more entertaining than being asked to believe a blind guy in a red leather suit can do flips off the front of speeding motorcycles.

So, Hulk is not a masterpiece, but is strongly plotted for a comic book adaptation (it even waves the wand quite well with its scientific rationalisation for all the crap in it), has interesting characters (I haven't given a decent mention to Nolte and Elliot in the duel of the bad old men) and fun action scenes. It is good. It does drop off a bit towards the end though, in a completely unexplained and incongruous finale that was apparently inserted after studio focus groups weren't happy with the original. But we can imagine that the original Ang Lee - James Schamus monster-movie conception would have been perfect, and put down all the problems to the Hollywood studio machine.


OK, so I've finally got around to:

Magic Number12
JobMost Hated Person - Ever
PersonalityRainy Day
SexualIf I Have To
Likely To WinA Place On The Bench (For The Reserves)
Me - In A WordSubtle
Brought to you by MemeJack


Magic Number13
TemperamentAn Oft-Exploding Volcano
SexualIf I Have To
Likely To WinA Nobel Prize
Me - In A WordBeautiful
Brought to you by MemeJack

I like both of them, though I'm finding it hard to reconcile my two temperaments ('unflappable' and 'an oft-exploding volcano'). And why is my colour red? How disappointing. Unfortunately, other people's are so massively off the mark I can't give the thing much credence because I'd quite like to think that 'subtle' and 'beautiful' summed me up in a couple of words. Also, it's disappointing to see the meaning of the word 'meme' reduced to 'an internet quiz'. Why must people always go tromping on delicate concepts with their vulgar vocabulary requirements?