Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Your best may not be any good but it's always good enough.


If you do not subscribe to that, we are probably too far apart in our thinking ever to be friends. It just seems fundamental to me in how we should look at each other. When my children bring home their school reports, I am proudest of the marks they get for effort than I ever am of the marks they get for achievement. (The latter is in any case dependent on the former.)

Although of course no one is distinguished from another by just one characteristic, people can often be put in polar camps. Here is an instance: you are either prone to forgive or you are not. I suppose it comes down to whether you believe people should be judged by their outcomes or by their intentions.

It is a small step from believing that you should credit a good heart to believing that a good heart should prevail. Nor is it far to go to believe that good hearts must predominate because we do not strive to be bad.

And quickly we can realise that our sins are born mostly out of confusion about what our aims should be.


Did you see that it was axiomatic that you should believe a good heart should prevail?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A short step

I'd really like to be able to say that things are good. I mean, really. I don't mean I want to be able to pretend, or to be able to look on the bright side, because I could easily do either and it would just be meaningless. Above all else, I write a blog for my own sanity, so what good would lying do? But I'm not someone who enjoys being miserable, however it appears. I like to be happy. I'm easily contented yet contentment never seems within my grasp for long. And really, it has seemed to be close enough recently that it feels even worse that it's such a short step from there to desperation, which is where I am at now. (Luckily, the converse is probably just as true.)

Whenever something has seemed good, it has drifted away or turned to shit. Take work. I had an interview for a subbing role that I would have been really good in. I wasn't all that positive about the interview (haven't actually been to an interview for years) but I emailed the guy after a fortnight or so and he's like, oh no, we haven't decided yet, you're in the mix, will let you know very soon. So after three more weeks, I emailed to find out what was going on. He didn't even bother replying.

You know, I don't have a massive opinion of myself. I know I have flaws that sometimes are really hard to surmount or undermine me badly. But it's hard to believe that I'm just not even worth letting know I'm not good enough for a job. Not even good enough to reply to an email.

Last year, I had quite a lot of work from my people in Singapore, and that was keeping me afloat. Ever since Techniworks reneged on their agreement with me, giving the work they promised me (and underpaid me for because they promised it) to family members (and having the temerity to tell me when appointing the son of the founders that they had finally found someone good for the role), it's been really tough, and the Asian work kept me in the game, just about. But it dried up and now the woman I deal with doesn't even answer my emails. I don't know what I did wrong. I even asked her, what did I do wrong that our relationship has gone bad? She didn't reply to that either.

So that doesn't feel good. I've gone from being mostly employed and getting by to someone not even worth talking to. If you know me, you'll know that one of the best ways truly to upset me is not to communicate with me. Refusing to talk to me will make me sour on you more effectively than just about anything else you do. I think it is because there is part of me that refuses to believe I am not worthwhile, and being left without the oxygen of communication makes me feel worthless. I wonder sometimes whether people forget that I've spent more than seven years working from home, essentially alone day after day. For a sociable monkey, it has been very nearly unbearable.

So I also thought I was building something good with B. We were talking about moving in together and I was quite excited about it although I've been cautious about becoming emotionally committed because the last mad bitch I allowed myself to care about canned me essentially for not being a biblethumper, which given how kindly I look upon the ridiculous beliefs of that crowd was very harsh. I understand, I suppose, how you can mislead yourself into thinking that it's so central to your life that you can't compromise it, although of course for those of us just slightly more rational, it's obvious that other things are much more important. I mean, I didn't hate on her for her wilful ignorance about science and philosophy, and in many ways it's much worse for me to be with someone who is not just uninterested in how things are but gets upset at the very thought that you might enquire. (I can obviously stand to be with someone who is uninterested in life because I married one but it's not a recommendation to me.) But I was getting fond of B and although there are issues that need to be negotiated (which I'm not getting into here but they do exist, and they're not on the whole about me, not that there's nothing about me), I thought it might go somewhere.

So the other day I said if I could change anything about her, I'd change that she wasn't into music like I am. This is in the context of talking about things that are amiss with Brisbane, a place where I meet very few people who have anything at all with me. So I was kind of saying, wouldn't it be cool if you were also into music. She was mortally offended, or so she says, which is ridiculous. She clearly isn't into music the way I am. I seek out new music and enjoy making discoveries. I play the new stuff to anyone who will listen. She doesn't do any of that. The difference is, she'll say "I really like X" and I'll say "I really want you to like X". It's a huge difference.

So she said some things that were in a whole different realm to that, and I haven't been willing or able to spend time with her since. What is difficult is not that she grossly insulted me (and I mean grossly) in a way that simply isn't consonant with how things have been or anything anyone has ever said about me before (and you know, I'm the kind of person people do have things to say about, not to mention that I've had a failed marriage, where you tend to hear the worst about yourself and worse even than that, you get to hear whatever the other person can invent too), but that when we talked about it, she just could not grasp that what I am supposed to have said was meh (you could take offence but it's a real stretch, and when you consider the context, you have really to work hard to make it even slightly offensive) but what she said makes it hard to have a relationship with her. See, I could just say, yeah I'm sorry, I know you love music but you're not into it the way I am, that's all I meant, no big deal, because it isn't really a big deal -- it just would be an added extra but obv. it isn't even close to a dealbreaker: no woman I've ever gone out with has been into music -- but there's no way for her to walk back what she said.

There's a big difference between being clumsy and hurting someone, or not realising what you are saying can be hurtful (and I'm always willing to forgive people for this because I'm not the best at understanding how what I say comes across) and purposely saying something you think is hurtful. Why would you ever do that when you are supposed to love someone? So she says, well you've insulted me some, and I guess if you're really fucking touchy, you could believe that, but what I haven't ever done is try to put the knife in.

So that's fucked.

Well, there's always poker, right? Hold the phone while I laugh hysterically. Actually, what little poker I've played in the past month or two has been very successful but I haven't played much and I am not sure where I will get the motivation and energy to play in future. I need to though. I am now in the second week of waiting to hear about a job for which I did a test that took several hours to do. Will get back to you tomorrow, the woman said. Then the next day, sorry something came up, you'll hear soon. When I emailed during the following week, it was, no it's going to take longer than I thought, but you'll hear.

Yeah, so that's fucked too.

Maybe it will all get unfucked though. I try to be positive. Maybe the woman really does need a week and a half to look over tests and I'll get the job. Maybe I'll meet a woman who actually wants me for me and not for some impossible being that neither I nor any other man can ever be. Maybe I'll win the million-guaranteed tourney next w/e. None of it is impossible. So I know that even if it's a short step from happiness to desperation, it's just as short a step back again. I just have to avoid allowing the desperation to become real despair. BTDT, don't want to wear the tshirt.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hug the rich

You know, I think back to that Jon Stewart thing, you remember, when he was saying that what we needed was more civility in politics. At the time, I thought how very fifth column that was. Yeah yeah, the problem is that we aren't huggy enough of the right wing.

Well no. The problem is not that we aren't nice enough to the Republicans. They want to make us basically into slaves. They want to thieve all the value in the world and give it to the rich people who bought them.

They hate us. They want to keep us as close to impoverishment as they can so that we are forced to do what they want, which is create wealth for them to syphon off.

It's no use saying that the very rich are creating wealth or that without them we would lack jobs. Most of the very rich are investors or run hedge funds.

Investor sounds good, right? We have a picture of the business investor, putting his money into someone's dream and sharing in the success that they have enabled. Well nah. That's not what the very rich do. They buy bonds. They trade stocks. For the bonds they give us money we don't need. Money is just the way to keep score. What counts are resources. The very rich do not give the government resources! They give it useless money. And "give" is not the word because they are repaid all the money plus interest. The bonds they buy are like little drains on our economy. Each one syphons off some of the value that could be used on making our lives better. They rarely invest in bonds issued by companies. They prefer risk-free money.

Well, stocks. That means money goes to a company, right? Obviously not! When Intel issues shares, it makes money. But when those shares are traded, it makes nary a cent. The stocks are on IPO day a means of funding a company, but once bought, they become ways to gamble. Yes, investors gamble on the success of companies, but the companies don't gain from it.

Imagine if we held the companies in our commonwealth. Imagine what we could do with the wealth of the dividends. Am I saying nationalise everything? Yes, I am. Let's do that. Who is hurt by it? Who is hurt by a government that makes investments in private firms in our interests? Who is hurt if we get the dividends and not the rich?

Yeah, only the rich, and fuck them, hey?

And hedge funds. What are they? What do they do?

Well, the name is misleading. Hedging is in fact a useful thing. If you are a farmer, you can hedge the price you get for your crops and make your income secure (you might sell an option on your crop at a certain price that you think is slightly below what you might be able to get for it, but above your worst case, and worth locking in).

Hedge funds do hedge. Just not in a particularly useful way. They are designed to allow speculation on the market in a way that makes money however the market moves. Most are not particularly successful at doing this but some have strategies that work well. They do not have a socially useful purpose. They exist solely to increase holdings of money. Am I saying outlaw investments? No. Am I saying that the government should restrict what types of investment are permitted? Yes.

You want freedom? Fine. Let's have freedom but we'll level the playing field first. How about that? Oh no?

No. No libertarian wants equity. No libertarian wants justice. They want their privilege entrenched. It makes me lol to read the silly tosspots claiming that property rights are fundamental. Yeah right. Your right to own 10 million in shares is exactly equivalent to my right not to be shot dead in the street.

Get this though. You don't have a right to property if you don't improve the land you're on. If you don't farm it or mine it, you can't claim it. Now why would freedom-loving types believe that? Why wouldn't they think that pasturing or nomadism aren't legitimate uses of land?

Well, it's simple to explain. They aren't smart enough to know that some native Americans farmed so they are able to pretend that those brave frontiersmen who made America rich did not steal their property from the natives.