Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Black armbands for Badger, the Blogger

Nothing in my own life is worth blogging about today. I've tasted the horror of losing everything to cancer, and been lucky, so far.

Via Sills Bend, I learn of Badger the Blogger.

Badger is a US graduate student. Her husband was diagnosed with liver cancer.

There has been an online campaign to raise money for their medical bills, because they are under the unspeakably revolting US medical system, so having liver cancer entitles you to bankruptcy. Melbourne's Laura is helping out.

Read Badger's chronicle of the successive worst days of her life. She knows there's more to come.

Today is the worst day of Badger's life. And her son's.

Sometimes it feels trite to console people you don't know, but I think there's something in blogging that means we appreciate everyone who stops and thinks about our pain, and takes the time to leave a message. I know I do, and I've never been where Badger is.

If you are up to it, leave her some love.

Fuck life is a dirty bastard.

UPDATE: So are people who support two-tiered medical apartheid. I've been reading more of Badger's story, about how they'd taken medical insurance but it wouldn't cover a liver transplant, and the government told them to truck off and die, and how she couldn't even get his prescription filled because they were not rich enough to deserve treatment.

The same so-and-sos who support, implement, and defend this vile system go absolutely nuts when it comes to removing the feeding tube from someone who's been a vegetable for years.

So angry.

Happy armaniac returns tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Burnt coffee grounds

It's a depressing time to be a lefty. I find myself reading the op-ed pages, the political news, scanning for nuggets of optimism. I drink too much coffee trying to bounce back up, but still I can't break the addiction. One day I know I'll see the headline, screaming up at me as I walk in the newsagent:





and so on I fantasize.

Toasted my 33rd on Friday and Saturday nights at Bender, Bar 303, Terra Firma and Wesley Anne, bastions of the High Street boho scene. It felt good sitting with friends, talking, drinking, doing nothing-much slowly.

Good friends are better than a bottomless packet of tim tams.

Jammed with the band last night. They are very heavy. They reminded me how out-of-practice I am on guitar. In that they are tight, competent and high-energy this is good. Being mid-late 20s they reminded me of my age, though their sound had a good mix of influences. If it means anything to any of you I say Tool, Mars Volta, Alice in Chains...

It went pretty well. But joining would involve shelving my desire to vox, yet again.

I'll never have a rolls-royce voice, but I love singing, writing lyrics, even my own bastard form of dancing. Losing yourself completely to the sadness, anger, rage, love or optimism of the song in front of a crowd is amazing, it can't be described. Strengths. Dreams. Strengths. Dreams.

Hand me a long stiff drink, please.

They may not want me, that would make it easy. Easy, in my current state-of-mind, is good.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Shorts

Beloved lost her engagement ring while we were jogging. We heard it bounce into a garden, spent an hour foraging with the help of the people who lived there. She cried, and it broke my heart.

Labor has decided to inch further to the right. My Labor membership card has been moved from its position near the loose change to a spot right next to where the scissors are kept. One word about tightening up on refugees and I may take executive action. Anyone for starting a political party, specifically aimed at giving some political representation to members of the hated latte-left (like myself)?

A friend who is a gun bass player, in a very good heavy rock band, asked me to try out as lead guitarist. Although I've been trying to learn to sing, this offer was very good for my battered ego, and I may just give it a look in. They gig, they've got potential, I wanna rock- there's a fit there somewhere.

I learned today that my ex-boss, who wasn't very pleasant, suffered a tear-inducing humiliation after telling everyone she'd picked up an acting executive role that in fact went to someone else.

Oh, and we found the ring. And befriended the nice old couple who lived in the house. Taking them a bottle of Tullamore Dew next time we have a quiet evening. Many tears and regrets averted...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Howard to meet rednecks, homophobes at summit

Why not? They hate us and the society we've built. And they inspire so much terrorism, lest we forget...

Racial intolerance and homophobia leads to terror:
His anger was channelled into virulent rightwing extremism and he finally vented his hatred on black, Asian and gay communities.
Ranting about leftism and political correctness leads to terror.

People with flags on their trucks who love guns become terrorists.

Blaming muslims in a knee-jerk manner can lead you up the wrong tree.

Ask a conservative near you: are you doing enough to discourage extremism in your community? They need to face up to the horror backward-looking views can inspire.

More birthday kisses...

To B xx and G xx, now I'm thinking you two must be twins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shedding dreams like dead skin

This morning I picked up the guitar, and pulled out the lyrics again. For several days I've been working at Just Looking (Stereophonics). It's not getting any easier. I've moved it down from G to D. My voice still shits itself, breaks into falsetto or comes out like Phil Anselmo.

A week ago I got dragged onstage by a mate at a jam night. It didn't feel right, it wasn't a jam night crowd. We played Karma Police, Yesterday and an original. We were messy, but in tune. I leaned into the mike and asked if anyone had a request. A woman who'd been talking the whole time next to the bar stopped and said
"Just don't play any Radiohead; I like them too much."
If there's an uglier mistress than music, I've never laid eyes on her.

When I was at private school, hating everything except music, I started to get serious about guitar. People told me I had no ability. I had nothing else. I worked and worked and one day the notes just started to flow. I was, for a little stretch where I practiced constantly, a very fine guitarist. I'd pick up a guitar at a party and people would stop and stare. In the good way.

I stayed in Darwin. My energy drained as I jammed with musician after musician who didn't like what I liked or share my dreams. I didn't get out of my bogan town.

I was accepted into law school, and classical guitar, and I went into law school.

Music poisoned my law degree, or law poisoned my music. It's so hard to tell sometimes where your dreams are really manifested, as opposed to where you stuff your neuroses- needing fame to prove everyone wrong, needing career to sate the insecurity of your parents.

These things can haunt for lifetimes.

Worse again to lose interest in an instrument and want to sing. I have this analogy I tell people:
singing is like having one guitar all your life. Some people have a Gibson. Some people have a $40 Kmart job with strings an inch off the fretboard and bits that will always buzz no matter how hard you work at it.

There are no doors in this room.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Tantamount to corruption"

Via Nic White, another honest public servant speaks truth and gets shot down in a hail of lies.

Snow report with saucy diversion

You want the saucy diversion first, don't you? Here it is, the tale of a Dutch couple who, er, coupled on the bonnet of a police car. With the incredulous police sitting inside. It says something about the Dutch that they only got in trouble because they refused to leave!

The snow was beautiful, even if it's in the process of melting. It was a long uphill push to the nice bits, by the end of which our lesson had ended. We caught our breath, then took off along the path to a section called Panorama. Here's a shot, some more, and a trail map for the hardcore.

Compared with alpine the skis were hard to control in the downhill stretches, but that kept things exciting. And the other bits, as Zoe suggested, were just like bushwalking. Only faster and better.

The views were heartstoppingly beautiful, and there was about an hour out there in the backcountry where we didn't see another person.

I had one of those amazing days where you don't feel down or angry at all, from 1st coffee to last waking moments snuggled up watching rage, drifting off with a smile on your face.

It's my birthday today. I'm 33. In addition to the skiing, and a fantastic dinner that night in cute alpine Marysville, I'm gettin a wine appreciation course and copies of Dispatches
"...wrote about the Vietnam War for Esquire magazine, gathered his years of notes from his front-line reporting and turned them into what many people consider the best account of the war..."
and the Tyrannicide Brief
"..a life of John Cook, the bravest of barristers, whose bowels were publicly burned as punishment for sending the King to the scaffold."
Sweet. Nice when people get birthday book-buying bang on the mark!

UPDATE: Spoke a wee tad too soon. 'Dispatches' arrived, and had somehow morphed into a travel book called 'Unquiet Vietnam'. Hmmm, well, I guess I can't complain, they tried. And I'm sure it will be an entertaining read.

How can you get those things mixed up though?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pleasures of the mind and flesh

Enjoy this post full of hilarious idiocy; Star Bores 3 translated into Chinese then back into English subtitles.
He big in nothing important in good elephant
could be my favourite.

Armaniac's 33rd birthday comes up in the next few days, and beloved has taken my hints and booked me in for an intro to nordic skiing. There will be cold extremities, sore muscles, but hearty country cooking and glasses of red, possibly followed up by namesake, to ease the pain.

I love these weekends with beloved. Long drives, listening to albums from start to finish. Time to connect.

Nordic skiing looks like harder work and less excitement than boarding and alpine (both of which I'm obsessed by, in strange periodic phases, like Nirvana's Nevermind) but makes sense in a country where the hills are flat and the resorts are crowded with Toorak Tarquins.

And it's the best exercise apparently. And I like wandering around in the bush. And I'm gonna build me some ripped quads like the Norwegian dudes who do this for a living.

Wish me luck. Ladies can leave birthday kisses but please form a queue and no funny business.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

In Cold Blood

Res Ipsa Loquiter: *

(damned lies and their inconvenient counterparts in truth)

Police officers were monitoring the building closely...
...a police officer failed to videotape him leaving because he had been on a toilet break.
He was dressed suspiciously in a big puffer jacket...
....witness accounts and photographs leaked to ITV [show] the man in a light denim jacket walking calmly.
He jumped over the barriers, ran to the train...
...He walked calmly in. [He even picked up a free newspaper according to the TV news last night.] He passed normally through the barriers, went down on the escalators and boarded the train.
Where he was apprehended, held down, and shot 8 times.

Murder. In cold blood. With a dose of abject incompetence thrown in. Covered up by lies, lies and more damned lies.

Is this what they did to the Irish in Belfast? Is this why blacks in Brixton don't trust their friendly bobby?

I was depressed and so very angry after seeing this last night. I drank a Tuborg, too quickly. I patted the cat, breathing slowly. I went to bed early, sought warmth from beloved.

(* Let the facts speak for themselves.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sun shining, no-one making hay

So we've seen points scored by the ACTU campaign against Howard and Costello's class warfare blueprint. Barnaby breaking the coalition lockstep. Low community support for handing the rest of the Telstra family jewels to wealthy investors. A coalition of country and student interests who agree on keeping student control of student amenities.

So how, how, how is Beazley slipping so far under the radar and posting his worst figures ever?

To not elope

A couple of nights ago I heard my beloved saying to someone on the phone that we knew it could get bad, but not this bad.

I never underestimated the depths we could plumb preparing a wedding, never underestimated the capacity of close relatives to drive you up and right over the wall, into a bed of thorns on the other side of sanity.

Hence eloping was very attractive. Still is, though it's probably too late. I had 2 potential plans for a romantic elopement, which I'll share with anyone interested.

One involved a beautiful hotel on Jimbaran Bay in Bali. You get these private villas, Balinese architecture, with their own little plunge pools, on the edge of the cliff looking out across the ocean. We would go into the garden, I would turn and ask her, she would laugh and say yes (I always knew she'd laugh when I proposed, and she did) then I would lead her into the area where the plunge pool is, and it would be covered in flower petals, and there would be a celebrant there dressed in a simple white robe, and there would be a couple of people playing Gamelan instruments, and several kids in traditional outfits dancing along the side of the pool, and the music would stop, and we'd have a brief exchange of vows, then the music would start again and they'd all leave slowly, and when they were gone, we would undress and slide into the pool and be merry and conjugal. There would be Billecart-Salmon beside the pool for refreshment.

The other was simpler. In it we would go for a long weekend to Uluru- beloved has never been. We would go to Kata Juta (Olgas) and walk to the top of the valley of the winds, one of the most spiritual places I've ever been, and there i'd propose, and she'd laugh and say yes, and we'd have a simple ceremony back at the resort followed by champagne and lobsters under the stars.

Are you telling me formality, speeches, relatives ad nauseum is more romantic?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Something significant happened while you were changing the channel

These are dark days for the latte left. Being governed from the Victorian era is bad enough, but there has also been a several-year long overflowing of traditional aussie anti-intellectualism. Public enemy number one- well, perhaps on a par with radical islamic preachers- has been inner city uni educated know-it-all lefties.

Big Bogan Brother, meanwhile, has played a peripheral role confirming the low place intellect holds in the hearts of the masses, with stupid, simple or at best smiley and harmless being the qualities needed to get to the finals. Two years ago a small minded bogan cleaned up. Last year Merlin was hurled out by voters after being exposed as a non-citizen who has an opinion. The crowd also hated his gutsy if over-the-top protest for refugees, which just confirmed that he needed to go home.

This year something different has gone on. A quirky intellectual with a scrawny body has made it to the finals. Along the way he fell in love with one of the bogan girls, she spurned him, then went on a dumboid rant about being disgusted by men who kiss men. She was kicked out.

Even if Lefty Tim loses now, I've picked up a little ember that will warm me until the thaw. Waiting for the thaw is all lefties have at the moment. It's been very cold, very dark.

Could this leftward adjustment on Big Brother be the first sign of change from the heartlands?

Maritime Union of Australia think so:
It has been really heartening to see the Australian public fall in love with Tim, and all the values he stands for.

Aye comrade Tim, nice work.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Nodding while the Important people speak

It isn't surprising Henry Kissinger actually says nothing of any remote value in his opinion piece in the Australian. He's a realist, so intellectually he should be against the Iraq fiasco, but he's also instinctively in bed with the hawks.

What is surprising is the ease with which this alleged war criminal saunters from one high-paying gig as a speaker to another, being treated with deference. I'm sure Bin Laden would have lots of interesting stuff to say, but there must be a point where someone is too unpleasant to be given such respected gigs. No?

On TV, must be cool, must play...

Everything is driven by TV.

I've enjoyed poker since year 9. I must have watched a 007 movie, got all excited, and bought a gambling rule book. For a little while I convinced my nerd herd to switch from Dungeons and Monsters-with-faux-Welsh-names to poker. For cash. At school. Sometimes even in class under the desks.

Big sums changed hands. Once someone got ahead by 50c and there was almost a scrap.

But since then none of my friends have shown any interest. Pantera, Porn, Piss, Poker- eusgem generis* I would have thought! But no...

Until it comes to TV. Even poker comes to TV, and of course in bastardised form. World Championship Poker- absurd, though in fairness it can't be any more boring than Golf or Cricket.

So now 2 of my mates are hooked, and I'm about to spend the weekend in Rutherglen with them and our partners, drinking wine in the day and trying out my best poker face at night. Beloved is a sharp corporate lawyer so I'm hoping we can team up and extract a few cases of wine from the others.

I'm in her good books again. Last night we sat on the couch, sipping Green Tea, picking through the real estate pages of Melbourne Times, pointing out places we'll buy when the market crashes, and the world was in tune.

(* Spelling's probably off- maybe the usage as well!)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mix that gene pool, among other things

Is DNA testing the End of the Affair, times 2 billion?

One in 25 fathers not biological parent, says study.

Oh well, maybe 1 in 3 of those shared his own genes somewhere else. What a fascinating species we are...

Forgetting how you got there

The libs continue to back down on, 'clarify' and otherwise demonstrate their quiet regret over the workplace revolution they planned to impose via the rubber-stamp Senate. How they could have deluded themselves that only the business vote matters is beyond me. They've been winning on the back of the 'upper working class' family suburban vote, and it's that vote they've needlessly put at risk in order to pursue their ideological hatred of unions and the notion of workers' rights. Not that Labor is taking much advantage.

Ah, it feels nice to slip in some domestic poliblogging, it's been a while...

A woman's work is never done (until she consigns it to the 50s)

Another fight, another day in the dogbox. I came back late from seeing a movie with mates, she washed the dishes, she got stroppy. This isn't uncommon, though I've changed my domestic habits drastically since we moved in.

If Janet Albrechtson has a redeeming feature, it's as an advocate for confused men. Like all right-wing rottweilers she sometime says that which needs saying, and while I generally agree with Mark Latham's take on her, when I'm in the dogbox over domestic chores I wish I had a framed copy of one of her articles on the subject to look at.

I can't find a link, sorry. But the argument goes a little like this...

Modern women may well be carrying the bulk of the housework while also pursuing careers. They may well see this as an obstacle to feminism, one perpetuated specifically by the men in their lives who don't pick up a half share of everything. They may take this out on the men in their lives, and become bitter.

They may in some cases be right.

But what they have done is move into a new paradigm, where women and men both pursue careers and individual dreams, and brought an out-of-date notion of household with them.

Cleanliness, tidyness, and household efficiency are all relative. I'm messy compared with my beloved. She's not hyper-neat though, and would soon get up the nose of a hardcore anal retentive. I'm very neat and clean compared to the house full of arts students I lived with in 2003.

When one person is devoted full-time to housework, it is feasible to clean the floors, bathroom, sheets, clothes, once a week, plus cook dinner at home and wash up several times a week. But here's the nub:
one person doing housework and one person working long hours and pursuing an interesting life does not add up to the same amount of time for chores as two people both working long hours and pursuing interesting lives.
Women shouldn't return to domestic slavery, that's awful in my opinion. But they need to learn what the much-derided bachelor has long worked out - that if you have a career and a life, then you find ways to be efficient and don't spend a second more than you have to on household work.

I apologise for generalising and acknowledge there are many exceptions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I've decided to transition....

Sorry for the inconvenience this will cause the handful of you who've linked or put this site in favourites.

I'm going to keep the narrative of the wedding preparation going, but broaden the scope of the site a bit. I thought about the wise counsel of a certain commenter who pointed out that the gift of a printout of this site might be akin to a cat dropping a dead mouse on its owner's bed. Beloved doesn't mind me writing about personal stuff on a blog, but I don't know how a dedicated site that uses terminology stolen from a book about affairs would go down, and we are going through so much testing at the moment I don't need to add to it.

This site will shortly become something idiotic to do with Armagnac. Why? Because it's a magnificent spirit, and when I'm melancholy I often deliberate on spirits (though my budget usually only gets to about Glenfiddich).

I hope you'll stay with me; I'll continue to post about the wedding, just that I'll keep it to the more traumatic stuff that's worth writing about and discussing.

And unlike previous projects I'll avoid letting politics become too dominant: I'm thinking short pithy political observations with links, coupled with longer personal pieces where I enjoy the writing better.

Sorry to be so navel gazing, stay with me...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Circling the rim of a nasty lava pit

I've reached the dark rim of the volcanic invite caldera.

Invites go out in days, not weeks, and the list is almost final. This is the point where hard decisions get made. We've fought several times, and probably will again.

Ingredients for a testy debate about invites:

Someone who likes small lists, and doesn't like large crowds or being the centre of attention.
Someone who likes to invite everyone they've shared a beer with, likes big crowds and is an extrovert.
Someone who's moved constantly and has friends all over the world that they keep some vague form of contact with.
Someone whose friends are mostly drawn from the one large group who tend to attend each other's functions en masse.
Someone who has lots of good friends of the same gender littered across their past.
Someone who gets jealous easily.
Someone who has always vowed that they would not have B-lists, or throw a wedding if they couldn't invite everyone special to them.
Initially we put close to 200 on our list, with the expectation that quite a few wouldn't be able to make it and so we'd end up with an ideal number of about 140-150. We tested the waters and got indications from people.

Now we are down to the 'ideal number', and beloved would prefer to draw a line and send out the invites. But I always hoped to be able to use some cancellations on my side to invite a few more friends.

Beloved obviously hasn't counted the numbers up in this way, but nearly all the rejections are mine, from my overseas family and friends. Only around 1/3 of the invitees are from my side of things, and it upsets me that it has to be such a big deal to invite 3 or 4 more people.

B-listing friends is not me. It is not who I am, at a fundamental level. I'm experiencing high levels of emotional dissonance at the moment, only partly relieved by having bought two outstanding albums which I'm rotating constantly through the stereo.

Yesterday she gave a small patch of ground, and it made me warm. I don't want to call the numbers game, I don't want to pull the list into territory where she'll be uncomfortable. I just want to get through this.

She agreed to me inviting a handful more. In return I've sounded them out, but if they don't respond to their emails within days then I'm moving on, conscience salved.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A silly distraction

Via Boynton, I learn that putting sentences through a thesaurusizer is lots of fun, especially if you do it a couple of times. Here's some wedding vows, thesaurusized:

I rub the lamp thee to be my legal matronage baron as the sparks fly upwards beyond remedy do us still small voice within, in stick in the throat and in denominational, for richer or for working for the privileged duty, and refusal if you force down the throat a point of sex devise regeneration someone and so on or energy on which occasion me up the picket fence or buy a porsche.

A goer?

Children and Denial

Beloved and I are blessed to want the same thing here. 2 to 3 kids would be great, thanks.

There seem to be a lot of couples who wear a level of denial about this issue, and it's sad. I have no agenda; I understand completely why some people don't ever want them, and why others are clucky as. But the thing is, it is such a deal-breaker of an issue, and so many couples push it under the faux-Persian rug.

We have some friends, well, they're more hers than mine after the woman told me she earned more money than me in an attempt to win an argument, but friends nonetheless. He's a great guy, perhaps a bit borderline too-cool and chilled. She's manic, but genuine. They have a great rapport, they're a very good couple in most respects.

But she's deeply maternal, it comes out in so many things she says, while he states baldly that he never wants to have kids. Never. No interest at all.

You can't ignore an issue like this. Unless one of them genuinely changes their mind, they will do one of three things:

bad- go on in denial until it comes to a head in a few years, then break up in a big sad mess;

worse- she'll give in, and resent him deeply for the rest of her life;

maybe good, but likely worst of all- have a kid against his wishes, and he will either suddenly grow to love the child, as she'll be hoping, or resent it and be a bad father or even leave.

Unless one of them genuinely changes their mind.

So they need to talk now, and see whether this can be resolved, explore with each other and individually the extent of their feelings about this.

I think it's toughest for the woman in these situations. Until technology moves a fair bit further forward, a woman who wants kids desperately and who suddenly confronts reality at 35 and breaks up from her life-love is in a terrible place.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

From panic to panic...

Thanks for your feedback, I'll stay with this project and stop fretting for now. There's plenty else for me to tie myself into reefknots over.

This is invitation week. I'm trying to contact everyone who is on the invitation list on my side to see if they can come. Many are overseas, and if they're unlikely to make it then I'm not spending $5 a piece on sending them a lush-looking invite. I'm also hoping to free up some space to invite people I want at the wedding. I always vowed if I ever had a wedding I would invite everyone I'd want at a big party, but it hasn't come out like that.

On the list there are relatives. Relatives I like. Relatives I don't mind. Relatives I quite dislike.

My closest friends are all on, but several live in London, Hong Kong or Bangkok and so most are unlikely to make it. Neither is my little sister. This leaves me with heavy boots, to plagiarise the fantastic book I just finished.

There are friends who I see or hear from infrequently who I've had to put on the maybe-list. I don't like having a so-called B-list, but it's inevitable if you hit a self-imposed ceiling, and it's easy to impose ceilings when you're shelling out on good food and grog all night. They aren't B-list because I don't like them, they're maybe-list because of all the people who have to be invited.

Which means every cancellation can be put to good use. And I'm not overly close to most of my relatives. Yet I must admit feeling a bit, I don't know, miffed that not one member of my mother's family is likely to come over. They're in the UK, so it's individually understandable, as it is with my overseas mates.

But collectively?

The fact that at a wedding full of relatives not one member of that wing of my family will be present is significant given that I'm my mum's only child. I think she'll be sad about it, I think it will drive home her sense of isolation that no doubt she's felt ever since moving across to Papua New Guinea and meeting and marrying an Australian in the 60s. Though I can't blame any of them individually, collectively it's disappointing. Pounds trade pretty favourably for dollars. Cheap airfares are everywhere in blighty. You get that, I guess.

Still, if in the wash I get to invite a couple more real friends, and they know how to enjoy a beer and a laugh, it will turn out ok...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Questions for YOU a week (or so) in...

I've discovered the joys of personal blogging.

Some of you reading this know me as a bit of a blogging neurotic, who has started and stopped a few projects. My beloved certainly does; although she has little interest in blogging I've imposed my blog neurosis conversation on her countless times. You may know the conversation- I know there are quite a few out there who suffer similar blog neuroses.

Problem with blogs is they're so easy to start, and the process of coming up with a blog is so creative, that it is always tempting to start a new one. I started then deleted about 3 before getting into my first proper blog. It was primarily political, but included some personal posts, including the previous brush with mortality alluded to in a post below and the moment I became engaged. They always went down well, and I enjoyed writing them.

That blog was aggressively political and opinionated, and at times I felt very prone writing it, given that I had opted to display my name and suburb. So I shut it down. Then I started a much more formal political and academic blog, to force myself to write in a certain way and to focus on certain issues. Global issues. Then I started writing this.

Ladycracker asked why I started this, was it as a relief from wedding preparation? In part yes, but in part to explore a more engaged, personal writing where I really express myself and don't think about hits and links and getting in on debates that are raging. Where I try to capture more subtle feelings that are crushed by too much politics.

So I'm sharing my blog neurosis with you, dear (small handful of ) readers. Do you like the focus on the particular, the groomzilla theme, or would a broader mix of thoughts be more interesting? Should I stop dividing the personal and political so much, and reflect on both in the one place? Do those who read my political stuff prefer my personal writing anyway? Should I stop staring at my wool-filled (I'm a guy after all!) navel?

Do any of you have blog neuroses you want to share?

UPDATE: Neurosis B is font and layout fretting, which made me wonder- do you find this template readable and accessible, and if not, what are your favourite templates?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sibling dystopia and the passive-aggressive fraud

Been reading about so-called passive-aggressive syndrome. My brother's stay with me was on one hand very enjoyable, but on the other we argued, at a pretty minor level, all the time. It wore me down a bit...

I tend to be vocal and extroverted, and frequently make it clear if I think TV shows, celebrities, politicians or prevailing social assumptions are unmitigated crap. It's the way I am. But I prefer to play the ball over the man, to use a mediocre cliche, in that I have high tolerance levels for different tastes and outlooks among friends and associates.

My brother asserts a highly critical worldview in theory, yet in practice watches all the mainstream TV shows and defends the mainstream line at every opportunity. But on an interpersonal level he is highly critical and argumentative. This repeatedly manifested itself as argument where I would be laying out attacks on the subject matter while he replied with attacks on me personally.

I believe there is a difference between arguing about something external and attacking a person you are communicating with, though the two are often painted as one and the same.

Anyway, this led me to looking up passive-aggressive syndrome. No, it doesn't appear to be either of us- we'd be too direct about anything we didn't like putting up with. What I did note was how this appears to be a particularly questionable example of what is just different, non-mainstream or subversive behaviour being labeled 'abnormal' :
The term "passive-aggressive" was introduced in a 1945 U.S. War Department technical bulletin, describing soldiers who weren't openly insubordinate but shirked duty through procrastination, willful incompetence, and so on. If you've ever served in the military during wartime, though, or for that matter read Catch-22, you realize that what the brass calls a personality disorder a grunt might call a rational strategy to avoid getting killed.
Indeed, it's equally arguable that to follow orders blindly when it puts your life at risk is abnormal, given that survival is the highest instinct. Check out the criteria for diagnosis :
passive resistance to fulfilling social and occupational tasks through procrastination and inefficiency; complaints of being misunderstood, unappreciated, and victimized by others; sullenness, irritability, and argumentativeness in response to expectations; angry and pessimistic attitudes toward a variety of events; unreasonable criticism and scorn toward those in authority; envy and resentment toward those who are more fortunate; self-definition as luckless in life and an inclination to whine and grumble about being jinxed; alternating behavior between hostile assertion of personal autonomy and dependent contrition.
So what's wrong with any of that? They're just grumpy bastards, surely that's no worse than being stupid and acquiescent?