Saturday, June 25, 2016

No Wonder The Gods Despise Us

In the steam on his shower door, with his index finger, he drew a smiley face. Then he leaned back into the stream of hot water, took in a large mouthful, accurately spat it at the face, obliterated it.

"For a moment there", he thought to himself, "I was like a god, and that face that I drew in steam with my finger, staring at me vacantly, smiling at me inanely, was humanity. No wonder the gods despise us."


Very Short Book Synopsis #4, The Godfather

A lesson on the importance of good manners.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Brautigan Omission

For the first seventeen years of my life Richard Brautigan was alive and living in San Francisco or in Montana. I was at school for twelve of the first seventeen years of my life, and no one told me that Richard Brautigan was alive and living just across the Pacific. It wasn't part of the syllabus. I didn't know. I would have traded twelve years of school to meet Richard Brautigan, but I think they knew that, so they didn't tell me he was alive and practically a neighbour. Instead they told me who was dead and not living just an ocean away. They were like priests, concealing what I needed and teaching me what they needed.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

On Creationism

We know that light from some stars takes more than six thousand years to reach Earth, some stars are millions of lights years away. How could stars emit light before your god created them six thousand years ago? 

If the creation myth, the beginning, is so obviously untrue, why do you expect me to believe any of your other myths?


Political Cynicism

I'd like to present you with an example of why I believe politicians don't serve the people.

Here in Australia we have a universal health system, people pay a percentage of their income to be covered for medical services. The current government was in the process of investigating whether outsourcing some administrative tasks might save some money in the hope that the saved money could be better used in fixing sick people. The opposition claimed this investigation to be the beginning of a slippery slope that would lead to selling the government health system to private enterprise. That this health system is worth nothing to private enterprise did not enter the enter the conversation. The government rapidly denied any decision to outsource any administrative tasks, and any thought of selling the health system.

The result of this opposition scare campaign is that any potential savings from outsourcing some tasks has now been lost, no government for the next two decades will have the courage to even look at it. This may not seem like a big deal. The big deal is that any money saved could have been spent on shortening the waiting list for little old ladies to receive their hip replacements. Little old ladies will suffer pain for longer because some politicians ran a scare campaign, and some other politicians let that scare campaign scare them. 

The tawdry, squalid battle for power, and the truth be damned, leads to less health services for the people. Serving the people is the entire job description for a politician. Instead we have politicians who serve themselves and their own desire for power.

This example is just one from the current Australian federal election campaign. There are plenty more. Such cynicism leads to a cynical electorate who don't expect anything better from politicians. 

It's up to us to pay attention, to expect more from our politicians, to support those with the integrity to refuse to run scare campaigns and those with the courage to resist them. Our cynicism permits more cynical political behaviour. The result is little old ladies waiting longer for their hip replacements.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Very Short Book Synopsis #3, Immortality

From the simple gesture of a goodbye wave Milan Kundera extrapolates that life is essentially meaningless, that modern life is ugly, that love can be twisted, that greatness is confused with celebrity, that banality is in itself evil, and many other ideas that seem completely unrelated to a woman waving goodbye. He writes all this so beautifully that common distractions, like going to the bathroom, will seem unimportant until you've finished reading it.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Very Short Book Synopsis #2, The Prophet

To avoid being lynched by the people he has sponged off for twelve years a conman dazzles them with some enigmatic, tabloid horoscope style drivel. The gullible people, unfamiliar with wisdom, lap it up and send him off with their blessings.