Saturday, February 27, 2010

The compromise solution

A ten-year strategy costing millions of pounds to cut the “shameful” number of teenage pregnancies in Britain has failed to make any serious impact... Among plans to be announced today will be more access to long-acting contraception, such as implants and injections, and phone texts to remind girls to use contraceptives...But critics say far more needs to be done to deter young people from having sex, rather than providing them with ever more free condoms and access to the contraceptive pill.
- Ministers admit failure over cutting ‘shameful’ teenage pregnancies, The Times
They're both wrong. I suggest a third solution: educating children to abstain from sex at all times, while continuing to wear condoms. It's called compromise, people!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Popular folk singings of glorious Russian revolution

Popular folk singings of glorious Russian revolution #224:
Nine hundred and ninety nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine enemies of Glorious Russian Revolution on Wall

Nine hundred and ninety nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine enemies of Glorious Russian Revolution on Wall,
Nine hundred and ninety nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine enemies of Glorious Russian Revolution on Wall,
If one of those nine hundred and ninety nine million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine enemies of Glorious Russian Revolution on Wall should accidentally fall,
And we drop atom bomb on rest of them,
There'll be two enemies of Glorious Russian Revolution on Wall -
(Which really makes you question value of UN peace resolution processes.)
Join in folk singings at next Tuesday Fitzroy event!

Disappoint form

- People who speak a combination of Spanish and Scottish speak Spottish.

- Schizophrenic accountants: they hear invoices in their heads.

- Doing posts in Disappoint Form, it's just like doing them in Point Form, only more depressing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My life, a series of multiple choice questions with one choice each

1. Should Tim have porridge for breakfast?
a) Yes.

2. Should Tim waste an hour doing nothing important on the internet?
a) Yes.

3. Should Tim do the dishes?
a) None of the above.

4. Should Tim wear his grey jumper, or his other grey jumper?
a) b)

5. Should Tim shave?
a) Yes.

6. Will Tim shave?
a) No.

7. Should Tim have a chocolate bar?
a) Yes.

8. What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
a) All of the above.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My life as a corporate whore

// (say kawpuh'rayshuhn)
noun 1. a body, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence irrespective of that of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.
2. a business enterprise, or group of enterprises.
3. (upper case) British the principal officials of a borough, etc.
4. any group of persons united, or regarded as united, in one body.
5. Colloquial the abdomen, especially when large and prominent. [corporate + -ion]
Macquarie Dictionary

I got involved in a discussion the other day with a bunch of people basically saying that corporations were evil. That's not that surprising, of course - people say that corporations are evil all the time. It's pretty much the done thing to say that corporations are evil, and occasionally it's inevitable that I'll bump into those people in the midst of their saying that corporations are evil.

It's just that I can't take it seriously. At all.

It might be the fact that they're wearing shoes made by a corporation, or jumpers made by a corporation, or hats made by a corporation, or t-shirts with anti-corporate logos on them that are made by a corporation that specialises in anti-corporate logos. They might be carrying food that they've bought from a certain corporation, or drinking drinks that they've purchased from another corporation, or travelling from the location of one corporate outlet to the location of another corporate outlet by the means of a car (built by a corporation), bus (ditto), train (ditto, and run by yet another corporation, ditto), or any number of other dittos that take you from various dittos to various other dittos.

It might also be the fact that they probably have no idea what they're talking about. The term 'corporation' is so generic and loose that it could apply not only to the multinational business from which they got the dittos they were wearing, the dittos they were eating, the dittos they were travelling from and travelling to, the dittos they were travelling in, and the dittos they were dittoing in. It may, indeed, be true that the small business they got their shirts or drinks or food or tickets from was itself part of a larger business, and was therefore merely a corporation selling items from other corporations in order to further its own corporate interests. After all, one of the meanings of corporation could be 'group of people', which could include just about anyone and anything. Maybe, though, all these people had a specific economic and ideological definition in mind when they were talking about 'corporations', and I am ignorant as to their actual level of ignorance. (But I suspect they are just as ignorant as to their own level of ignorance, as well. Most people are. In the broadest terms, I am not only utterly ignorant, but ignorant as to my own level of ignorance, also. You can't get much ignoranter than that. In a world crowding over with infinite things, our own finite minds generally do dwindle to a something that is smaller than insignificance.)

It might have been any of these facts, or the fact that the very conversation that they have about horrible corporations invariably occurs in a context that is facilitated by horrible corporations, and that people who dislike corporations do so most regularly and vocally in mass market magazines forwarded by corporations, in globalised movies and DVDs spread around the world by corporations, on international websites owned by corporations, that are hosted by mass-produced computers bought from other corporations. (This particular conversation that I am thinking about occured courtesy of the facebook corporation).

And in the end, I'm not sure how people with such a Manichean worldview - ordinary folks versus the corporation - go about living their lives. It must be really quite scary, keeping one's mind perpetually on the all-pervasive influence of corporations, which are so all pervading and influential as to include anybody and everybody and everybody else also, as well as small business, large business, all manner of medium-size businesses in between, councils, governments, non-government organisations, and whatever else is left over, and a whole bunch of other stuff as well. If you concede that corporations are horrible and evil, what other conclusion could you logically draw to than an all-encompassing, general, and specific paranoia at the world around you? As you buy your corporate clothes and corporate drinks and corporate DVDs denouncing the influence of corporate corporations, and have your existence brutally perpetuated by corporate oxygen that was breathed out by other corporate bodies, you must be continually worrying about how terrifying it is to have corporations savagely provide you goods and services in exchange for small to medium amounts of money, and for them to in turn use that small to medium amount of money that you give over to them to pay their own staff and make a profit. I mean, now that I come to think about that, it really must be awful. That is, if you look at corporations that way.

Me, I can't really bring myself to be bothered about them. In a world with so many problems, I can't see what the problem is with corporations, especially.

I wonder if this is a problem?

UPDATE! - Let me make a small qualification to the above post. Corporations aren't evil, of course. But Evil Corporations are most definitely evil. It goes without saying, really (which is why I've said it.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plot devices that are a little too useful

If you're a child, or a smuggler, and you live in, or have something to do with a large mansion in the English countryside, then you wouldn't think it entirely out of the way to discover, say, a conveniently placed secret passageway behind the fireplace thus allowing you to carry out your heroic or nefarious plans.

But even then, you might think that this sort of thing is getting a bit ridiculous:
They heard him fumbling on the wall, and tapped again, to show him where they were. Suddenly, there came a click, and bright cold light and icy air rushed into their hiding place.
'I always wondered why that great knob was there on the wall,' James said. 'Well laws, miss! To think of your really finding the secret passage!'
Joan Aiken, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase


Every now and then, a small amount of people will go and sit on stage and a variable amount of people will go and sit on chairs and watch the first small amount of people sitting on chairs, talking to one another. This will happen for a period ranging from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, and it will usually be located in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, or somewhere else. The event will often begin with the name of the city in which it is occuring, and conclude with the word 'festival'.

There was a time when I used to love going to events where a small amount of people sat on chairs on stage, and I joined a larger amount of people watching the smaller amount of people sitting on chairs. That time was a Wednesday, I think, and it was at the TINA festival in 2003 or 2004. Then I discovered that the small amount of people sitting on chairs on stage very often had little to say for themselves, and the questions that they were answering were almost as bad. Usually, the answers could have been from one to five words long, but the people on stage often preferred not to answer the questions, but instead go on one hundred to five hundred word rants about something else. Sit a person down and ask them "how do you make money from art?" "Can art change the world?" "Should art make use of modern scientific discoveries?" and they would probably say things like "Get paid for it", "Yes", and "I don't care." Sit that person down in amongst a small group of other people, on a stage, with a larger group of people in front of them, and all of a sudden, they'd say something else entirely. Something probably longer, and definitely more boring.

The word 'festival' implies 'festivity', but there isn't much that is festive about a festival these days*. More like compulsive: it's rare to go to a festival event because you actually want to. More likely, you are going to the festival event because your partner wants to; or a friend wants to; or a friend is interested in a person participating in the event but not the event itself; or a friend is interested in another person who is interested in a person who is participating in the event, and wants the company; or a friend of a friend's friend who you are interested in has got free tickets to an event that doesn't sound particularly interesting; or you want to take your mother or your brother or your sister to an event in order to fill out the time while they are visiting you. Festivals operate more by social obligation than honest desire; more by compulsion more than actual interest.

Occasionally, a festival might even feature a celebrity speaker, and that celebrity speaker might draw large crowds, but the event itself will be wholly underwhelming. It will simply prove that celebrities are neither better or worse than other people at sitting down on chairs amongst small groups of people while larger groups of people look at them.

All in all, the experience of modern festivals makes you long for something more simple and primal. Maybe going and jumping up and down full of a stadium of shouty people while scantily clad shiny men kick symbolic objects through metaphorical phallic poles, for instance. Then again, maybe I'll just invent a festival of my own, where random parts of Melbourne will be required by law to go and sit in specific but unrelated locations in front of a small but disparate collection of people for small amounts of time (all to be determined by a game of 'Eeny, Meeny, Minie, Mo' and the telephone book.) It will be called 'The Melbourne Completely and Utterly Pointless and Nonsensical Statistically Insignificant Festival of Ordinariness.'

Come one, come all! I hear they're signing up one of the Daddos!

*By way of comparison, some fringe festival events are pretty festy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Annoying bottom-faced rat-like mammal on the brink of extinction

Annoying bottom-faced rat-like mammal on the brink of extinction
World struggles to care

An exceedingly annoying species is on the brink of extinction, and no-one really is too concerned about it, according to reports from the World Wide Foundation for Nature (WWFN).

The species, Scrofulous Flatulus Rattus, colloquially known as the Bum-Faced Rat, commonly habituates garbage dumps, slag heaps, and toxic waste piles, where it may be seen scurrying about looking ugly, and spreading various types of diseases.

"God, what a wretched little turd it is," says Professor Amelia Chen, of Blatherskyte University, reluctant expert in the life-cycle of the Bum-Faced Rat.

Studies performed by the WWFN find that approximately 80% of the world know nothing about the plight of the Bum-Faced Rat, and an even higher percentage - 97% - do not care. But it's not good enough, according to Dr Oswald Cavalini, of the WWFN: "We have to make even more people in the world care even less about the Bum-Faced Rat."

Over the following year, the WWFN plan to release a series of pamphlets with titles like Really Cute and Fluffy Creatures that are About to Die, and Examples of Majestic but Sadly Endangered Wildlife That You Should Feel Real Guilty About, in order to highlight the contrast between them and the Bum-Faced Rat.

Sadly, although the Bum-Faced Rat is on the verge of extinction, other horrendous creatures, including the Leprous Vole, the Exceedingly Pustulent Fungus, the Snaggle-Toothed Snag, and the Frankly Hideous Otter, continue to thrive.


UPDATE! - Boy, you people REALLY don't like pink bunnies. But then, you seem to be quite kindly and affectionate towards the leprous vole...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Superfluous advice column

#99876: How to announce an impending gay marriage to your parents

Just tell them that you've become engaged to a bisexual transgendered vegan polygamous monarchist octopus with homicidal tendencies, and work your way back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The more things stay the same, the more things stay the same

Some of my facebook friends have been joining this facebook group called 'Stop Medibank Private being put into private hands.' Which confuses me, because I kind of sort of thought that Medibank Private was in private hands. It's all there in the title, see - 'Medibank Private'. Privatising Medibank Private seems to me to be a process somewhat akin to, say, aquifying water, or gassifying air.

About two years ago, I do vaguely recall a radio discussion on this very possibility, that the (then) Howard Government could privatise Medibank Private. The explanation of the economic structure of the Medibank Private organisation, and its history, was sufficiently arcane, elaborate, and confusing that I started wishing for the explanation to be unexplained again. At the end of the discussion, I was actually sure of much less about the whole issue than I was before. It actually sounded like Medibank Private had been created(?)* private, but now the Howard Government was going to privatise it again? Or something?

Then again, in its own crazy way it made a lot of sense. Maybe by that stage the Libs had run out of things to privatise, so by then they decided to go on and re-privatise the things that were already private. So they could start off with Medibank Private, and carry on reprivatising public transport, Qantas, Telstra... As a corrollary, Labor could run campaigns against private assets being put into private hands, and instead argue for taking public assets out of public hands, and putting them in other public hands.

I was actually planning to do another political post tonight about how the MSM misrepresents Tony Abbott - no, really! it does! - but I couldn't be arsed. Night, all.

*Actually, please insert a (?) after every word in my elaborate non-explanation of the previous elaborate non-explanation.

Just a short post to note that...

I'm currently finishing up Ovid's long, unfinished poem, Fasti. It's about the feast days on the Roman calendar, but I'm struggling to call it anything other than Ovid's Festy.

Next thing you know I'll be talking about Homer's Smelliad...

Monday, February 15, 2010


As I left for somewhere or other from some place or else
With the faint aim of achieving not very much,
I saw a somewhat ambiguous sign
Saying 'Do nothing specific, as such.'

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alcoholics with a poetry problem

I've seen it increasingly in the past few weeks, months, and years. And I have to admit that the problem is, if anything, getting worse. Yes, alcoholics with a poetry problem are seen all over the city, infesting our cafes, bars, and pubs, committing blatant acts of verbalism at tables, on stage, in front of microphones.

Many people in Melbourne will be asking, how has it come to this? How have we let our once-carefree alcoholics turn to these terrible, soul-destroying acts of poeticalness?

I suppose it must have all happened so gradually. An open-mic night here, a night that was supposed to be spent getting wasted on a bucket of ouzo instead turning into a ribald joke-telling session. Before these people knew it, they must have found themselves slurring metaphors and alliteration out in front of an appreciative audience. Sometimes these once-proud alcoholics don't even drink alcohol!

Yes, I know the temptation is always there to read a poem or two, to indulge in a spot of wordplay. But is it worth it, really? The momentary linguistic thrill you get from the pleasing combination of words, the felicitous use of adjectives, the charming and elegant way the poems are structured? Couldn't we be better spending our time drinking booze?

Perhaps it is time for concerted action from the state government: a crackdown from law and order on all practitioners of poetry, higher regulation, limiting the amount of rhymes that can be said in any one venue at any one time - that sort of thing.

I'm toddling off this afternoon to the Dan O'Connell Hotel, and I'm going to steadfastly refuse to indulge in any acts of poetry. Nope. Not one bit... Perhaps you could come, too, and contribute to Melbourne's thriving alcoholic culture. Perhaps I can help to dissuade other alcoholics from indulging in their poetry habit. For just one afternoon. Baby steps, and all that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The spirit of rock

People who went on the train to the ACDC concert at the Docklands: right on! There were so many of you that you actually seem to have knocked out all the power in the North Melbourne Station for a good ten minutes. Rock'n'roll, dudes!

(I will continue to maintain this theory right until, and after, I am told otherwise.)

Etiquette tips

It is absolutely essential to eat greasy takeaway meals at your desk at work, without napkins, and with only a small plastic fork. But only if you've put on a clean white shirt.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Three twits that I might write if I had twitter in reply to stuff that has been written on twitter, but I don't so I won't


Go to a house without a lawn. Then it's only the carpet you have to mow.

What are you talking about?

Teleprompter for President

RIGHT ON— On Sunday the left went bonkers after they discovered that the TelePrompter-less former Governor Sarah Palin wrote notes on the palm of her left hand for her speech to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville... Today Sarah fired back… She wrote “Hi Mom!” on her palm during her campaign stop with Governor Rick Perry of Texas. - Gateway Pundit
Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if it was announced that Barack Obama's teleprompter had been writing messages on its hand for its mother, would it get so much mass media attention? Hmmmn?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Getting up close with nature

Or, a song for the open road

Splutter by,
Splutter on my windscreen;
Your stomach and
Your antennae
Slide in a pulpy greenish sheen,

Past my wipers
And my sill
Past the roaches, mozzies, flies,
Into my engine
Through the grill -
And there at last you lie.

Why did you die,
O butterfly,
Were you brave or crazy?
You could have let
My car pass by
But you went kamikaze,

And then into
My lane you flew;
Your fate, beyond prevention -
Just one more in-
-sect victim of
Vehicular momentum.

Domestic tableau

I have spent this morning bustling around the Baronial mansions putting things up and putting them down in other places, wiping grime off things and then wiping it back on again, and twirling the broom around in an effort to hypnotise the cats. Currently, I am building up quite a nice pile of dust in the living room, which is being supervised by Beatrice. When the pile of dust is suitably piley, and suitably located in one spot instead of all over the house, I will go to fetch the dustpan, whereupon Bea will pounce upon the pile, scattering it all over the house again. This is the order of things.

Interestingly, while I was sweeping stuff away from one of those dicky little corners that form between the bookshelf, the table, and the bench, I found a little unopened jar that had been hiding in a far corner of this far corner. It was saffron. I'm not quite sure how to take this: as a reward for my labours, perhaps? Maybe if I continue bustling around the house in this manner with broom and brush and dustpan, I will keep on finding more and more jars of unopened saffron, and I can think of them as prizes. Then again, I might start feeling guilty for having lost so much saffron.

Next time we lose saffron, however, I think we should let the jars break. It increases the sense of drama, and makes the floor taste so much nicer and more exotic, don't you think? I'll make a note of this and let the Baron know.

Bar humbugs

The Baron and I were out last night drinking with the esteemed colleagues. Drinking with the esteemed colleagues for some hours, in fact. At some point, I distinctly remember rambling on at length, for no particular reason, about spurtles. Not only that, but I didn't even have the decency to swear, or shout, or break a chair over one of my esteemed colleagues heads.

Just what kind of monster am I?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Church updates essential smiting danger ratings

Print this out and sticky tape it to the inside of your Bible for instant access!
Email: timhtrain - at -

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