Sunday, March 30, 2008

classic - something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. - Mark Twain

A classic line, that Mark Twain himself quoted from Professor Winchestor whoever that is. Anyway I was surprised in Italy to find outside of the Rome Central Station, good english publications surprisingly hard to find, except of course for classics, which are cheap due to no need for licensing.
So I've been reading them, and as a slight aside I have to say that the modern books that are available make me feel bad about the human race, that people who suddenly find themselves on vacation in need of a good read for their idle hours want to read crime fiction and books whose titles all begin with 'shopaholic' I mean shopoholic? what are you 7?
Anyway the first was Bram Stoker's Dracula, it took me about a week to read, which was the plan because I bought it because it was the thickest and cheapest, my purchase criteria.
And you know what, its really good. Well at least for the first two sections, Jonathon Harker's imprisonment in Castle Dracula and the mysterious death of Lucy Westenra. After that it declines into about 300 pages of Van Helsing and Mina and crew standing around taking hands and kissing them and making vows until action finally picks up again with Dracula's reappearance in the last two or so chapters.
But I have to say there was something about the Victorian Era gentleman that makes an engrossing narrator. Maybe its the naive belief systems that make them particularly subject to the element of surprise.
I also picked up 20,000 leagues under the sea. Which again is good and mysterious for the first 4-5 chapters and then becomes a thinly vield naturalists text book as one labours through page after page of sea animal scientific classifications.
Yes that's right, the vast majority of the adventures of 20,000 leagues under the sea are not covering the grand Mystery of Captain Nemo, but instead are dedicated to a professor looking out a porthole and documenting the fish he sees.
It's also incredibly gay. Sorry Jules Verne but there's no denying it these days. Good for you though.
Then I also read the Island of Dr Moraue which was exploring the horrors of vivisection and again, this one has that compelling Victorian-esque stranded british man in a strange place narrative but one thing HG Wells does well is avoid filler, which Verne and Bram certainly smeared on so thickly that if you'd ordered a ham samwidge, you would get the ham between two inches of cheap margarine spread, and only whitebread rural australians like that shit.
One classic though, and irrefutable genius to finish on a tangent is Andy Kauffman, in my mind, he is the 'pure comedian' out to entertain himself with uncompromising artistic integrity, how he ever became commercially succesful is a miracle.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Someone Say's it Better than I Ever Could

I've garbled the whole dangerous 'National Pride' flavor of China that I have been passing off as 'truisms' stated as achievements, and I think I never really got across what that really means, and I find through independant research this video from the Onion that captures the problem beautifully.

China Celebrates Its Status As World2019s Number One Air Polluter

Done in jest for sure, but profound nonetheless.

People Who Write About Bikes

The Austrian keyboards are tantalisingly close to Qwerty except that they are qwertz, real fucking annoying let me assure you. I return today to cycling as subject, you know when I posted a message on to wish Benno who fell just shy of 27,000km in his cycling journey that I didn't include my own blog url. Largely because of the blog posts he put up and how nice and humanistic they were made me not want to share the insight that I was infact a snide antisocial person.
Then weeks later while trawling through the most entertaining blog I have ever reads'* archives which included a very hilarious bicycling magazine article (unpublished by bicycling) and also lead me to discover fat cyclist another blog which finally shed light on my own moral cowardice.
You know when I was between ages 8-14 I had embarrasment attacks whenever I had the thought that someone I know may actually be a mind reader, and would hope they hadn't been reading my mind when I thought this or that**
Obviously as a blogger this is not a good insecurity to have, and fortunatelly with the second episode of futurama I was cured forever by the scene where Bender's antenna screws up the tv reception and a lady can hear his thoughts on her cellphone, she opens it up and you hear bender's thoughts 'that lady has a huge ass' and bender responds 'those could be anyone's thoughts fatass'
At anyrate thoughts should remain private, and once shared should be nothing to be ashamed of if you have the balls to stand by them.
Anyway, the place where I found a link to fat cyclist was on bikesnob's blog where he was commenting on the ying and yang of things, and indeed they seem to be quite opposite. For one thing Fat Cyclist is open about his identity, encouraging and generally positive, he uses self depreciating humour.
Bikensnob on the otherhand guards his identity, picks on other people, people who can't really defend themselves, is highly judgemental and alltogether negative.
Take for example his latest post as of this writing and just play the first youtube selected video you don=t have to watch it all. Anyway as courageous as it is to sit smugly behind a secret identity and criticise people, I have to play devil's advocate for Bikesnob for a minute namely because fo years I employed the same tactics to make myself feel big, like batman or something.
Anyway, if you watch the aforementioned youtube clip, the question comes to mind 'why do people do this to themselves?' why do people put themselves out there just waiting to be judged in what is so obviously pretentious.
Its a question that runs deep, that has baffled me for years.
Example, why do people in Australia knowing that saying 'ciao' is pretentious still do it, then go see a comedian like Craig Ryan at the comedy festival do his bit 'do italians finish they're conversations by saying "see'ya" and laugh at it? why do people still wear beret's? infact you could pretty much some up the deep questions by saying 'why does almost everyone on earth try to be more european?'
Why do American teenagers still punctuate with the 'Valley Girl' lingo of 'Oh my God!' and 'Like' and 'Eww' and shit, don't they realise how uncute and just plain fucking annoying it is?
I think that while deep down in my heart I wish I was more like fat cyclist and could convince people to take up cycling, and have fans wear my own branded jersey's and enquire into my wellbeing, I think that I veer towards a more contemtuous position for reasons cultural and geographic.
May I elaborate? there is one thing I saw in Melbourne that is superior to all other countries of the world, and that is the anti-dooring technique of putting the bike lane inside of the parking lane hugging the curb, and putting concrete islands between the park and the lane. Admittedly this was only done recently (and they gritted the path too with some kind of permanentesque grit) and as a result a lot of the students getting out of their cars talking on their mobile phones and walking back to their apartments don't expect bikes to be coming at them from the inside and just step into your path alot.
But let me put it like this, I would rather my pretty face crash into a scrawny 50 kg asian dentistry student than into some metal car door. so I think it a win for cyclists and a loss for pedestrians.
But aside from that the most noticeable advantage in Europe of my cycling so far is a type of infrastructure I can't comprehend - attitude.
I have said before, and numerously do I spontaneously jump off my bike on the pavement for fear of copping abuse from a pedestrian, who instead looks at me like I'm insane. Or on the road I slow down to give a much heavier car way only to find them frustratedly waving me on.
And I can ride distances of 100km and not hear a single piece of abuse hurled at me from a car. And I can ride without a helmet and not fear the police ever pulling up and telling me to put my helmet on, like the time a cop did in Brunswick when I was riding a mere 500m to pick up Miki on Sydney Road. (if you don't think picking up a girlfriend on a bicycle is cool you need a lighter girlfriend then I expect you to apologise and tell me how the bike scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the best love scene ever).
Yes it seems here, that the world is not trying to reject cyclists like some kind of virus that has infected an otherwise healthy body.
And it isn't smug either, there are just as many, if not more cars on the ridiculous rodes here, they still usually contain one person only. I see SUVs and shit, but also the ridiculous Smart cars.
In all it seems like rather than Europe being some anti-car, pro-cycling haven, they both just coexist. And I find myself much less adversarial as a result.
Contrast that to I suspect the riding culture in Australia, firstly, the majority of people with road bikes are most likely, elderly executives, that put it in the bock of their Tourag or BMW whatever SUV, drive it down to St Kilda, get it out and then ride it around the bay for a bit before stopping off for a cafe LA. The next most populist group on road bikes are triathletes, and nobody likes them.
After that you have BMX bogans, that look like trouble. And then you have a measly group of commuters and serious cyclers.
If any of these take the road then they immediately recieve a barrage of 'public service announcements' from well meaning automobile drivers that like when I inadvertantly tried to cycle to Florence withouta map and through nothing but my own stupid naivete ended up on the Autostrade and 2 or 3 trucks out of 100 honked to let me know I should get off as soon as possible, Australians assume similarly that you should not be on whatever road or footpath you are on anywhere as it is surely illegal.
Of course bikes aren't vehicles, vehicles use petrol and have four wheels.
So friendly car driving Australians, ironically even the same drivers who are on their way back with expensive road bike loaded in the rear warn you to get on the footpath, or friendly australian pedestrians warn you to get off the footpath onto the road.
And lastly, groups of Chinese elderly tourists meander along 5 abreast on any and all bike paths for reasons I expect have somthing to do with the subtle change of the gravitational pull of southern hemisphere constellations that effect small neaurons in the brain.
In short, there is nowhere you are welcome to ride in Australia, and since the friendly warnings usually take the form of 'off the fucking road/footpath' or occasionally the extra friendly pet or glass bottle hurled at speed, or even once a loogie spat impressively from at least 2 stories up off an apartment balcony to connect with my left wrist.
And this makes me adversarial, and I go off on a tangent that has nothing to do with what otherwise should be isolated traffic incidents that generally involve one or more people being stupid with vehicles involved.
That is to say, if someone parks, or waits in the bike lane, someone cuts me off, someone runs me over and so fourth it is so much more personal than if someone bumps your car with their car.
It suddenly is all about the environment, fitness and obesiety, petroleum costs and of course accusations of some greater conspiracy.
I choose to call this the 'call center phenomena' based on my own experiences of working in a call center.
You see before the introduction of the wonderful do not call list there was a huge employer in Australia of an abundence of cal centers all operating on various different standards of management. Some had really pushy salesreps calling from an autodialer or even photocopied pages of a directory using blackmail and exploiting elderly people to get sales. and some were professional organisations that spent a week training all their staff, monitored their calls and had quality standards and supervisors people could complain to. And then all customers identified all call centers diverse though they were as but a single face on a signle enemy.
So you having never called someone before could get a furious lecture, whistles being blown down the phone and all sorts of shit.
Same phenomena happens with the bike vs car war, a war I now know is wholey unnecessary but likely to continue.
All cyclists see all drivers as one single enemy, and all drivers see all cyclists as one single enemy.
The arguement isn't 'you fucken dickhead you fucken almost killed me' it has become 'you fucken drivers think you can do anything just because you've got momentum on your side, but your children are on our side, and one day when you are old and feeble we cyclists will rise up against you and overthrow you oppressors, we will overcome, we're saving the planet you know and keeping fuel prices down, if anything cars should drop gritty rose petals down for us cyclists to ride on...' blah blah blah.
And I find myself totally sympathetic with cyclists. If you ride a 20k circuit from brunswick to St Kilda, I-m sure you will agree with me too.
The conversion is remarkably fast, and I can't keep my anger from overflowing, whenever I see that familiar sydney road conversation between a office professional off to work standing beside their Mazda and some bogan cyclist lying on their back, their bike a crumpled mess.
But at anyrate, I now have two quality blogs about cycling I can read.

*and believe me I have read +5 including a swarm of blogs started by friends who after initial enthusiasm become board with their own life and stop posting about it, not even dignyfying this realisation by resorting to creatively make shit up like their double life as a vampire nicknamed 'daywalker' by the rest of the homoerotic community. Although deep down I suspect the phenomena is more akin to the similar reason that people who read are also incresingly eccentrics in society, the perception that they currently spend all their time doing important shit.

**most likely something sexual, like Brain from Primus squatting over a mirror while masturbating for example, or something sensitive like wishing Adam Hill's cancer would come back***, or something particularly critical like 'does she know how beneath my standards she is when she is asking me out?'

***obviously though cancer is horrible (fat cyclists partner is undergoing chemo therapy I understand and I would never wish such an affliction on anyone with any serious intent) and it really is insensitive of me, it would only be necessary to fire Adam Hill from Spicks and Specks and replace him with some backoffice beauracrat who could read the questions and not try to be funny in that patented scripted-auto-que-good-news-week-do-they-realise-this-is-how-paul-mcdermott-came-across-as-so-witty way.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fuck Ricardo and his Ricky Ricardo Face

Okay, maybe if I set foot in Balifornia again I will be repelled by some magnetic force or maybe I will have some new form of culture shock as the slow process of migration from brain to taint and taint to brain take place.
Inshort I have inverted. I am surprised to find myself sympathetic with anarchists (wtf?) and anti-globalisation movements, well not the movements really, infact I will definitely not be attending any socialist alternative meetings and continue at politically active functions to look at them and wish I had the balls to laugh out loud at them.
But here now I wish to talk about globalisation. And David Ricardo coiner of the turn of phrase 'comparitive advantage' which basicly says we are always better off letting a free market run its course.
Which I believed. And was educated in at University and was also fortunate enough to not experience firsthand...yet.
But having travelled I proudly can throw this theory out the window, not completely, I mean really it just refers to the same old law of competition or darwinian natural selection.
No I throw it out because of the inherant flaw in all economics - pointlessness.
Take anything, any consumer good in the world and take it to its most advanced, efficient ultimate say for arguements sake a television.
Now I'm not aiming to go all Arthur C Clarke and lay down prior art patents but logically if we made televisions more better than they are now and just continuously improved them they wold get flat, flat to the point of being adhesives that you scrunch up like a hanky and then slap against any surface you want to stare at for entertainment, you could even make them organic so they can be stretched and regrow provided you have some material for them to consume and produce. Or you could dispense with that all together and have them just project from a mobile phone, which logically would eventually combine with all such wireless technology, communication or entertainment, you would set up phones in there logical continuation of current technology to be ultra secure personal assistents a Universal remote for your home, car, work, office, holiday house, banking, and online life.
Or take paint, you could go organic with that as well, introduce chromatids and use your phone to change it to different themes at will customising your household, again perhaps having it organically regrow itself to cope with day to day wear and tear.
Or take something more obviously meaningful, like medicine and further modernise it, so you have a package like a bandade and just stem-cell it up, shark removes a chunk of your calve muscle? no problem just press down a bunch of stemsheets to staunch the bleeding and replace and rejuvinate the missing material. While your PA mobile phone already informs your insurance company and has ordered more stemsheets from australia post.
All the everything making life faster more convenient more advanced, more futuristic. And then what? you go sit and watch TV. Or whatever TVs have become.
Because Economic theory is a funny thing, it is basically a philosophy that in a limited scope works like a science, say on a production line you can apply a bunch of economic theory to achieve real results, greater profitability.
But on the larger scale it is exactly like philosophy although it doesn't ponder a deeper question - what's the point?
Italy kind of highlights this, at times Italy is an infuriatingly inconvenient and inefficient place - example I had to make a police report the other day, because I was stupid, in Australia you wander into any police station, the person at the front desk gets out a notebook takes down the details and then you wander out, a few days later you recieve a reference to the police report and a number to call if you need to add/change anything all stored on a central database.
In Italy, there is no queing technique, you wait about 2 hours before the officer you need to make a statement to emerges and informs you to sit while they go on lunch break, in a manner reminiscent of Major Major Major in Catch-22.
Then after another 25 or so minutes someone else comes and takes my statement, which in fact was a slight modification of an existing one, which I had promised an impatient lady behind me would take 2 minutes.
The italians though found a way to make this take 30 minutes, including a very inefficient system for creating copies which involved what I can only guess went on behind closed doors, some kind of 3km cyclocross circuit.
At anyrate I realised at some point that of the 2hrs of activity I had remaining to achieve that day, I had approximately 8hrs left that these activities would be convenient for. And immediately relaxed.
Perhaps though if jigsaw piece puzzled and wetly forced into place in your mind after being stuffed in your armpit to moisten up - this Bill Hicks outtake might help you:

Not only do I think pot should be legalized; I think it should be mandatory. (mocks driver honking horn in traffic) "Shut up and smoke that, it's the law" "I'm sorry officer, I was taking life seriously for a second. Who's hungry?"

Or perhaps this is more to your liking?
They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do just as well … you just realize that it's not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.

That is to say, these are deep ponderous questions for us all. What is the rush? why bother? where is it all going?
I am not an advocate for marijuana, I am also not an advocate for just accepting the normal reasons to be against it as gospel either, there is a degree of truth that it is only illegal because it left the US with a cotton monopoly and other such things marley enthusiasts bring up in order to try to disguise the fact that they are basically deadbeats.
But here's the clincher, economics is cold and framed narrowly, basically all of them revolve around the same thing - tangibles. And basically all of them will do the same thing as the grand great purpose of it all, produce a big pile of stuff with market value.
Its the intangibles is where it fucks up.
For example - economics looks at wages to tell you in all its great theory how well off you are and there greater efficiency in Ricardo's way of free markets can demonstrate quite scientifically how we are all better off under free trade and more efficient use of resources.
Say you are an artist, and it can take you 80 hours or two weeks to produce for yourself one water colour still life of a bowl of fruit which you can sell for $100. Not very efficient eh? What though if we reshuffled the process a little - you are still an artist, just one of 1000 korean artists sitting in a factory around a conveyer belt, and the still life has been printed off a stencil with numbers indicating the colour codes, now all you need to do instead of painstakingly paint a bowell of fruit is colour in number 43 with your one colour. It's always in the same place and thus you after one hour con confidently complete 26 paintings an hour by colouring in section 43 with your designated colour, and the rest is allowing for changeover time.
Brilliant, so in the same 80 hour period you and lets be honest a couple of hundred employees can produce 2080 paintings, which now albeit only sold for $5 a piece still results in your cut being $104, that's 4% better than what you got the old way.
So clearly your job is much better now as a new efficient type of artist than it was as an old inefficient type of artist.

Ha ha Ricardo, infact the intangibles would say it is all much worse now, and that's what economics and economists fucking choke on constantly, it is what nature and earth choke on too, the big tangible dick of economics.
One aspect is there is no real 'true cost' aspect yet, and this allows for 'externalities' say like CO2 emissions, for a long time noboyd had to consider the waste expense of CO2 because it just went out into the air, gone forever no longer a problem, there was no waste disposal cost for burning fossil fuels because it just produced exhaust.
Another is job pleasentness, the difference between being an artist, and being a korean sweatshop animator.
It could even be being one day a PA that types up letters for your boss, and then suddenly having your job role outsourced for the much more efficient process of having your boss type his emails without vowells and then having some indian support staff go through and add them in at a margin of the cost.
I no longer believe in all this globalisation shit, the first and most resounding evidence for me was that all the 'best' (being wealthiest, healthiest and cleanest) countries in the world were not free marketeers but quite protectionist, namely Japan, America and all of the rich part of Europe.
And furthermore that a lot of what made life good for the citizens of these places where hard fought and won ineffeciencies, such as social welfare, workers rights, minimum wages, medicare, industrial relations, overtime, annual leave, sick leave and so fourth.
And I looked as I always did for something analogous to a cut off entity performing better than a big open playing field.
And I realised it was just chunking, one of the most elementary strategies ever. That is instead of working on the whole starting to just work on a small group and fix it, then moving on.
This is what nations do, like a big mathematical algebraic problem of one sort of the other, usually solving for x can be done in several steps by simplifying, expanding or rewriting chunks of the equation at a time.
The world is not necessarily better off being big and flat. If this means that the chunks that have made progress get it stripped away in order to compete with the advantages of the incomplete systems of the chunks that haven't made progress.
Example, manufacturers in Developed nations have unions, breaktimes and if they die on sight, compensation, they have wages that allow them to subsist in their immediate geographical environ. Workers in undeveloped nations have no rights, if they die it may halt production for a few minutes, and they have wages that allow them to subsist (or even live like a billionair) in their immediate geographical environ.
In competition it may be easy to see how this can go backward for the developed nation much more rapidly than say a densely populated nation can go forward.
Maybe in some instances just a teaspoon in a bucket of milk will produce a nice healthy culture of yoghurt, and other times putting a teaspoon of coffee in an urn of boiling water doesn't get you much more than boiling water.
And that's not all because despite this posts title, David 'Ricky' Ricardo isn't the real enemy here. The answer was provided by Ricardo Semler, a Ricardo who is right, when he observed that some economics dude whose name I don't have on hand, before Henry Ford did a whole exercise in reducing a coal workers job down into as small an activity as possible and divied them up to create mass production and economies of scale and thus would have been really popular possibly in Slavery days when workers weren't considered themselves in anything.
Because it is easy to forget that a worker is pursuing happiness, the supposed purpose of life that to some extent (and covered in detail in Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton) all economic systems tell us that the pursuit of happiness is easiest filled by collecting 'more stuff'.
The corporation had a great quote at least I think it was in 'the corporation' -
the whole system is based on a truth and a lie, the truth is that if you take a person who has no clothes, no food and is standing outside in the cold in the rain and give him clothes, food and shelter, he is going to get much happier very quickly. The lie is that if you give that man twice as much food, clothing and shelter he therefore is twice as happy.'
Beautiful, suscinct and I hope you agree. And that is in summation just about every economic model we have, and it is hard to do better. It isn't hard to see whats wrong, such as having a baby goes against our interests of happiness in economic models because it becomes a competing consumer for limited resources we want for ourselves, and that we would be as individuals much happier if we could live like dracula, incredibly rich in our castle feeding mercilessly off the peasent folk who spit and cross themselves and curse our name. Or like Captain Nemo, alone 20,000 leagues under the sea, shut off from the world but with a considerable fortune.
Well in effect Nemo is probably a bad example because he has indeed decided that for a good portion of his life, exploring the undersea realm is exactly what will make him happy.
But I contend for most people, rather than commanding the most stuff, most of us, being social want to live in a good society. And most of us being intelligent want to spend most of our time engaged in entertaining activity.
And working an 8 hour shift painting section 43 the same colour may be effecient, or working an 8 hour shift putting the vowels into legal memorandums may also be effecient, but damned if they aren't boring.
And considering that there's no particular rush to accumulate 'more stuff' why not pay premium for more beautifully hand crafted paintings, than getting a mass produced poster?
That's where Ricardo, Henry Ford and the Globalisation and Free Market crowds fuck up, because even with the most advanced superintegrated high tech stuff, I'm still going to have a lot of life left to seek entertainment, and don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in systems, but not systems that create desired output x but make worker y miserable in their job, theres better solutions than that.
Give us systems that produce desired output x and make worker y enjoy their job more than before.
And fuck free trade.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Waiting on Primus

On Monday because I needed something cheerful for the first time perhaps since the first week I bought it I listened to Primus' 'Tales from the Punchbowl' in entirety and discovered it to be, truly great.
On tuesday, but alas I get ahead of myself...What I would pay, to be you, you my friend who has never, ever, EVER!! heard 'Frizzle Fry' I would pay I don't know how much it would cost it may even be achievable these days through hipnoses or some kind of laser surgery, but lets say 10k to have wiped from my memory the knowledge of 'Frizzle Fry' just so that like you could do right now! so that I could go out and or down to JB Hi-Fi go and try a few sections to see where the fuck they keep Primus these days buy a nice velvety shrink wrapped copy of the album with the guys head frying in a pan with the purple lettering 'Frizzle Fry' on it, then take it home, switch off the wi-fi broadband. Close all the blinds. Disconnect the phone, take off all my clothing, sit on the couch. Put the CD into the stereo and hear for the first time 'Frizzle Fry'
Some if not most, would simply describe it as 'noise' but maybe you are not yet attuned to what you are hearing. I remember when my brother borrowed a whole stack of Primus CD's it took me a while to develop an ear for it. My friend Brenton clicked earlier but maybe he was just trying to impress me so I would sleep with him.
But alas, Frizzle Fry was one of the last albums I heard but truly one that deserves its own place in the Pantheon of Gods.
You will never hear anything like it again, now or even upon second listening.
And I mean there is a world of difference between 'hear' and 'listen' and that is the difference between 'hearing' some southern hick sing nonsensical stuff over the bunch of a whole lot of noise and 'listening' to music so coordinatedly skillful yet expressed from a worldview so detatched from your everday experience a world where people eat Taco Bell - yes 'listening' to Primus until your brain melts out your FUCKEN EARS.
And then 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese' provides many of Primus' most popular songs but has some of the poorest sound recording/finishing yet much of the lineup when experienced live is pure gold. Then there's 'Pork Soda' which need I say, is an aquired taste, and surprisingly the only Primus Album to go platnum does contain the classic 'My Name is Mud'.
Then came 'Tales from the Punchbowl' which despite being a bit of a filler album is as I said earlier despite being probably Primus' weakest LP is still truly great and provided their best promotional videos which are another way Primus shit on a lot of other bands.
This then marks the end of the Tim Alexander era and Brain comes in as drummer and you get the Brown Album which is great and some may remember the track 'Shake Hands With Beef' this has some of the catchiest tunes primus ever offered like 'Goldenboy' and 'Chastising of the Renegade' and I really like 'Return of Sathington Willoughby'
And then came Anti-pop the pop-est album. Its kind of too polished, its tunes are good and unobjectionable but for some reason whilst they easily get stuck in your head, easily dislodge.
And that was the last heard from Primus (I neglect to mention the Live EP 'Suck on This' which is arguably superior to Frizzle Fry in that many of the songs are the same but Suck on This is Live and has the best versions of the soon to be title track 'Frizzle Fry' and also 'Tommy the Cat' if I could hear this for the first time again I would be very pleased also)
Then Tim came back, and Primus released DVDs, mind blowing DVDs and Live performances and new material and they looked better than ever.
So what if the ship has sailed, I am waiting on Primus to make an old fogey out of me, releasing albums that the kids these days find dorky and one day I can use to indoctrinate my kids as to who 'the best bassist of all time' is similar to my dad and Cream.
So my kids will have heated arguements with their pears who all talk about Flea and have crappy posters or 'holo-posters' in the lockers or whatever they use in the future.
Wikipedia seems to think a new album will be forthcoming this year, but for me I also don't care I just want to put the record straight here, that I like Primus, and probably have been neglecting them on my blog in favor of Faith No More, and whilst FNM did produce 3 5 star albums (in my opinion) and Primus are a bit more hit and miss, their albums always are at the very least educational as to what still remains to be done on the frontier of bass, drums and guitar. A frontier that seems lost to the modern offerings of bands to the next batch of loser teenagers.
Do me a favour listen to Frizzle Fry you won't regret it after a week or so.

Beijing 08 watch: Where are all the Leaders gone?

This will lead inevitably to another unpopular essay by tohm. But reading this age article kind of just starts to get me, well furious. Like really frustrated. I can think of only one thing that provokes this reaction in me and that is when people with sheer bloody mindedness pursue a stupid course of action despite being warned.

this is the article that whilst is a sing that momentum continues also makes me furious about the other two aspects of fury in my life A) Australia if it was a person would be a snivelling little brown-noser that never achieves anything, one of those fish you put in a tank to eat shit and B) so often in democracy the real choice is no choice.

Leaders getting out and tut-tutting a boycott as ineffective and counter productive. And Grant Hackett, captain of the Australian swimming team placed for once in his life in a rare position to make a difference, a real, significant difference, one that might spark public debate, one that might get Australians thinking 'do we want to be the worlds biggest Nauru to China? as Nauru is to us? or do we want to be a modern state?' what does Grant have to say 'a boycott is counterproductive, it hasn't worked in the past' now Grant should know that probably many times in his life he has been in a race and jumped into the pool after the starters pistol, kicked and stroked his arms and in the past it hasn't worked.
And then sometimes it has. You have to get back on that mother fucking horse Grant.
And what is this oft repeated line 'counterproductive' and furthermore if you read the article 'the Olympics is about sport and only sport' and 'its about the athletes' and 'athletes should not be denied the chance to compete' what does it really say?
Well how is this for a tagline 'fuck the tibetans, go for that gold medal son!'
Which is in effect what they are saying, say we established this as a norm, then it should be fine for the world to pour tourist dollars and construction contracts, and send political leaders and every other perk that comes with hosting the olympics to anyone, because its just about sport and the athletes right? so if you had a country that beats children to death for stepping on the shadow and or anything else being offensive to whatever the superior race in that country was it would also be fine? fine for us to send our best and finest their to shake hands with and recieve medals from their officials?
The more I think about it, the more I think that China isn't a winner. I just can't concieve of anyway that China will work out well for anybody. The infrastructure big and impressive as they are building it, wont go anywhere near to satisfying their actual desired state of living exhibit A - beijing freeways, they are 9 lanes in both directions in some instances and still bumper to bumper, with new shiny 9 story glass panelled buildings lining them, removing all possibility of expansion as new rich Chinese citizens add 1400 cars per day to the system.
Then you have the government, whilst not perfect how the government runs is a fairly good microcosm of how the businesses, organisations and individuals will run themselves, as usually governments promote themselves, their operations and standards as the best particularly in a country not as free as China. As such I defy anyone to take a plane to China and get out of it and say honestly 'I sure want these guys running the place!'
Then theres the environment, in the rush for growth, China built damns that wiped out the last of the worlds only fresh water river dolphins. That has cities where you cant easily breath and workers who boil old computer chips with no protection to try and salvage all the metals theirin.
Yes with investment it will get better, but is the time to do this before or after the current regime collapses? I don't know, maybe the investment and olympics is causing its demise while we speak, but on the other hand I get nervous about the idea of the government surviving modernisation and the market power it commands. but I do know I would never want CCTV9 sticking a camera in my face with a voiceover (in english, despite me speaking english) telling the viewer 'tohm took the opportunity to reinforce his support of the one china policy'
So I say fucken boycott them, I mean if we suffer, it should be for letting it get this far, and yet again I hate sitting and watching the French be rational and smart and take the moral highground, WHICH IS SO MOTHERFUCKING OBVIOUS, and us again following good old 'private interests' policies of UK and America.
I mean I'm just tired of so called 'leaders' cowering in the face of anything that might hurt business.
Australia this issue should polarise especially, because the businesses we are talking about are the mining and resources sector, there is heaps of technology and r&d involved in these fields, but it is still dumb compared to say becoming a world power in renewable energies, mobile phones, communications, stem cell manufacture etc. things it would be really cool to drive the economy, instead of uninspired commodities.
Seriously, when I get back I'm going to punch the first politician I see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If you don't want the rotten apples don't go to the barrell look in the trees

I used to tell Misaki what a dangerous person I was, how sometimes I would get on trams without a ticket and just stand in the doorway to hop off* or how I was so bad that sometimes I would go to the supermarket to buy a 600ml coke on a dusty summer night and get a bag, or how sometimes when picking up the phone I would just say 'yello' not giving the caller the comfort of knowing who they had actually reached**.
But recently I have been taking advantage of Italy's liberal cycling laws and after one ride, simply ditched my blue plastic helmet. Well not ditched it, it might be worth money on traid in or I may pass through a country that requires it by law, but after an amazing period of 20minutes without a single driver honking at me and yelling something unintelligible at me simply for riding a bike, an amazing 20 minutes that was followed by an unprecedented mindblowing 4 hours of not a single piece of abuse from italian drivers despite my irregular stopping to take a photo, consult maps or forget which side of the road I was supposed to be on, I realised that Italian driving for all the bad wrap it gets actually takes cycling in stride.
So hence I banished my helmet to the pack rack knowing it obscures my vision and statistically has been shown that I am much safer on the road in countries that don't have mandatory bike helmets.
That said, I love it, I almost dread going home to being constrained to the humility of dorkitude that is having to wear a bike helmet. Something that from the humble origins of the stack hat, never managed to get cool even though it has come a long way.
And so without a helmet I have become even more dangeresque than before, even though it is perfectly legal here. I have also becoming bored of the current combo embarked on growing a demonic trident beard feature for the next country. Who knows when this decent into vile damnation will end.

*I'm underselling myself I actually had this down to a fine art by 2nd year uni, an art that I calculate saved me around $800 in funds that could prop up a strugling public service.

**this greeting unprofessional though it is, is much better than saying 'H*£a MPE tohm speaking' which was my old work greeting and it seems that only brevity could stop the auto pilot on this one.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jesus you just made the list

I do believe that public holidays have a worthy place in society. But as Les Claypool says 'funny things about weekends when your unemployed, they don't mean quite so much, except you get to hang out with your working friends' I must admit I am a greater believer in demand management and annual leave than public holidays, a few sure.
I like Christmass though if I had to pick people to voluntarily hang out with for a day I probably wouldn't pick my extended family.
And since I recieved an obvious piece of Spam promoting a holiday to China as a generic Blog comment no doubt set to pick up the key words 'holiday' and 'China' it reminds me of the stupidity of their Spring Festival, where it is traditional for virtually the entire population to try and relocate in the same weeklong period.
Or like encouraging everyone to go to the toilet at the same time, or anything that encourages queing and waiting as part of a process.
And as such it seems anytime I ever get stuck it is on a weekend where my bank can't help me, because it shuts down, and even excellent companies with 24/7 service all year round that never leave you in the lurch directly, are left in the lurch by my bank.
And thus when my Visa card gets stolen on Easter Sunday morning, I don't get mad at the thief, nor particularly at myself, because its easier to blame Jesus who thanks to coming back from the dead, prolongs my inconvenience by 48 hours.
I mean sure take a holiday, but if there is anything the casualisation of the workforce proves its that there are always people willing to work any day of the year for cash or cash bonuses. There are whole countries now that ca provide essential services that don't believe in Jesus or weekends.
That's all I'm saying, I love those holidays like Boxing day where virtually everything is open, but these holidays like Easter and the most miserable public holiday of all Good Friday, that force all these businesses to close and us to hang out with distant cousins for an awkward 6 hours, for those I blame you Jesus.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Tibetan Liberation Army

None other than the US house speaker said "The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world." and having been to China I have to agree.
Another quote first and one I can't get accuracy over but it was from Al Swearengen regarding George Hurst in Deadwood 'I have no problem with him mining here but why's he got to run the place it don't make no fucking sense' or something.
And China is kind of like that. I have to now return to Pelerosi and take her seriously, because with the Beijing Olympics we are highlighting I think humanities extent of capabilities, we are being collectively as a global society shown up on what a cowering pack of pussies we amounted to be.
Because I have to think, how the fuck did a country like China end up with the Olympics? The peace games, where China shakes its fist at Taiwan and occupies Tibet, where it'll show up and spray a group of villagers with bullets just for appearing organised.
How did this country secure the peace games? money. There was I think a group of rationalists that thought, this will help improve things, we have the leverage now to make them change, because if they don't we'll take their games away.
And now a few countries are talking boycotts, while others have heroically gagged their athletes from saying anything incindiary.
Despite the games long being a political platform for people of good conscious.
Hence there is at the end of the games no 'the winner is...!' moment where they crown one country as superior to all others, because the games where never about that.
And now what will happen, caught in a chinese fingertrap of bad behaviour in Darfur and Tibet we can surely look forward to a bunch of Politicians and IOC spokespeople coming on television sets worldwide and muttering platitudes knowing that as much as China values the Olympic games, its unfortunate that we have this big 'cooperate' stick because we really don't want to use it.
What we'll see is 'But the stadium is already built' and 'don't the athletes deserve a chance' and all that bullshit.
And firmly for once and for all we have proved that the growth fetish, our belief that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of increased consumption is what it is all about.
It says something that democracies are more scared of the loss of economic concerns than the loss of lifestyles that allow a degree of freedom and security.
Because that I think is the horrifying part of it all, China represents that big piece of the pie, not just economic growth and capital gain for a greedy world but to legitimise the notion that all there is to life is breaking down roles into more and more meaningless efficiency to produce more and commodify the whole human race.
there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow though, and that everlasting trump card of 'limited resources' everyone forgets about will I think make that last statement a truism of sorts.
So why didn't the IOC simply say 'if you want the games you need a free press' and let the rest tumble into place? and now it is so close and too late for us seemingly to win the crisis of world conscious, because the economic loss runs so contrary to what should be done now and never allowed to happen in the first place and that is, take the games off China before it blows up in everyone's face.
But then how much money nike will lose, and Australia with its consulting expertise on how to have a great opening ceremony, no Olympics will really hurt Uncle Toby's and Speedo, and will deny the opportunity to thousands of athletes in sports like Archery, Swimming, High-jump, the 1500m, equestrian, shooting and so fourth that nobody normally cares about or watches unless they fall into the 'special-interest' category from there 1-2 days on the world platform that only crops up every 4 years.
Just reschedule it, give it back to my hated Sydney who at least have most of the facilities back intact still, or Athens or Atlanta or Barcelona. Whatever. Have the games be about what they are really about.
Its a prisoners dilemma at the end of the day though, until one true world leader says 'thats it we're boycotting the games' nobody will move, thinking about all those contracts their firms will lose, thinking 'the germans will leap all over billions of dollars in contracts the moment we take a political stance' and so on. I know Rudd will consign himself into the 'different but not that different' category and prove his religious devotion by saying 'the Olympics is one occasion where Australia really does a half decent job of convincing itself it isn't mediocre' when really Australia with its material wealth is in a good position to break the damn wall and boycott, because China is fucked without access to Australian minerals and fossil fuels, same with South America and Africa and the places the US hasn't lapped up already.
The games means so much to the Chinese public that it may really be a perfect way to pull things to a head, if there were a means by which China could lose the olympics and it be abundantly clear it was the CCPs fault, you would see some decent civil unrest I assume.
So I cast my vote, in the poll that doesn't happen, as an Australian member voting 'boycott' and as a human being saying 'pull the plug on Beijing 2008' until they really are ready. And that is when China has its own government, not some club of priveledged cult leaders having their own China.

"You may feel left behind but to me I'm gone so you really are where it is all at, being alive and whatnot so I guess if anyone's left behind it would me, who can't even react to real time audiance sledging." - tohm eulogy by proxy.

There is one benefit to blogging that is so self evident it nearly surprises me it isn't mentioned more - meme-bank. If I were to die some time after uploading this post (which lets face it is going to happen) and you also were to die some time after I upload this entry, I would live on (provided you aren't Harvard) and you, you would fade away forgotten or warped in peoples false impression of you.
And I guess some kind of scientition could also create a complex computer program that calculated the evolution of my memes as they interact with the outside world and produce daily blog updates long after I am gone, here's an example of what the most advanced computers may produce:

'God isn't real, I'm really frustrated about that! you're stupid for believing in him. Why aren't there any bands like Faith No More anymore and I enjoy bike riding' -tohm3000 blogomatic post

But in all seriousness, on a day like Easter where Jesus rose up from the dead and then dissappeared again to not much effect some days later, I mean its not like his rising from the dead produced 'some of his best work' infact the big difference between someone like Jesus and me is that I write stuff down on a blog, there's no need for whole industries of men to wear funny costumes and explain to people what I really meant when I said "there be biscuits in them hills" and whatnot.
Yes my dear bereaved Janice could sit down and read all 481 blog posts and get a fair idea of where I was at in my head.
Ann Frank wishes she had a blog, she probably also wishes the Holocaust never happened or some kind of silent treadmill or something.
Anyway that's all I really have to say, I have documented not just my life but my mind here, for future posterity. I will laugh when they say in the future 'what do we know about 21st century man?' and they will say 'well we have some excellently preserved blog posts that seem to indicate that Faith No More was the best music ever!
and so fourth. And now comforted you could even read my eulogy by proxy at my own funeral. Infact you could in this 'flat world' age pay a bunch of Indian MBA's jackshit to sit up 24 hours and read all my blog posts then fax you a eulogy that is true to 'what tohm would have wanted' so anyway here's to the future while we you and I are both still alive.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Promises Promises

A friend of mine recently gave me some rare feedback on the blog, well not really feedback on the blog but an indication that he/she/it reads it here it is "read some of your blog the other day. sounds like you're turning into super uber cool massively ridiculously fit tohm. good for you."
It's funny because that day I was riding from Padua to Verona where I am currently waylaid until probably the end of the easter vacation that is the 'uber' weekend to piss me off, yes weekends are aweful for a free spirit like me because it crowds up the leisure economy, filling hostels, seats on trains and so fourth.
Anyway where was I, right I hit Vincenza and caught my reflection where in my white cycling Jersey hunched over the flatbar handles I couldn't help but compare myself to Michelin man.
Which in a way is good because in a way I am only just starting to get into the cycling tour and if I eat away all my fat deposits early it means I probably have to start thinking about responsible nutrition and shit before my body depletes my ligaments for much needed energy making me a cripple for life having to beg tourists for exorbitant euros, at least though in Italy I will be far from alone, my only real problem then is where to obtain a crutch or peasant scarf.
Anyway that said whilst my friend may be the only person left still using the moniker 'uber' while my cardio has been good since I first started cycling again years ago, I have made an extensive list of promises of activities I am going to sign up for once settled back in Melbourne these include:

Parkour (which hopefully is already as 'cool' as kung fu is post matrix so I'm not a posuer when I get back)
Orientation (I read in Japanese magazine Tarzan which Im not sure whether it is or isn't a gay publication a short english phrase 'run up, run down, run over, run through' and thought orientering is the hardcoreness of hiking tailoed for my short attention span)
Boxing (Because I have never paid any attention to my upper body)
Completing the next available 'Bay in a Day' which I believe I will be able to laugh off with contempt by the time I get back.
Running the next City to Surf
Completing a Marathon before age 30 (I don't know how long it takes to train for these)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

'Taint nuthin

I have lots of exciting ideas that I won't bother patenting but instead offer them to the creative commons to be picked up and distributed with the freedom and enthusiams they deserve.
The first I had the other day was for a 3mm edged perspex pyramid that you insert in your shoe to cause discomfort. This I thought could have a target market of beginner masochists and was inspired by pondering why I didn't bother to remove a pebble from my shoe for 4 hours in Padua despite having sat down numerous times in the interim and presenting myself with convenient opportunities to do so.
The next was while riding this morning, I drank some mineral water in a bottle slightly too large for Rosante's bottle holder but with feirce determined stubborness I had forced in there, and I remembered back to when Janice would drag me and my siblings to Dandenong springs to drink all the natural mineral water springs there and remembering that they didn't taste that good.
But what bottled water market hadn't been tapped yet? hmm.. bad tasting I thought looking at the label of my bottle and noticed it was called 'Brie Bluono' or something and I thought 'That's It!' Brine! I could sell bottled seawater, people love the beach. As I type this my energized mind is even thinking I could design a nozzle so that as you attempt to drink 'Brine' it also gets injected directly up your nose, just like being creamed in rough surf.
But I think the most viable of my ideas isn't so much a saleable product but a new standard for selling existing ones.
Now someone has already attempted to explain this before but I'm talking a simple convention.


A mileage rating for your taint, see if you ride a bike long, you take a pounding in the taint. What is the taint? you ask...maybe this video will help bring you up to speed:

Now that you are up to speed, what I suggest is that in standard factory testing of any new bike seats produced are sent to very well paid professionals that ride them and determine the number of kilometers it gets before their taint starts saying to them 'okay just sit on a pinecone already and be done with it, I don't want to live anymore'.
For example Rosante's seat gets about 56km taintage with padded bike shorts.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I do hate everybody.

I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.

I've been trying to piece together what it is I enjoy or don't because Italy does conveniently throw this paradox my way.
In India for example, the slide from one of the most endearing cultures to one of the most disgusting (and I'm not talking about hygene) and annoying was so rapid that if you were in an elevator you wouldn't even have time to say 'I love...' before you went squish into a biological stain.
And then Thailand where the 'land of the smile' seems to live up to it as people come up and welcome you in the street, still moneygrubbing but vastly friendlier than any other tourist attraction I've seen. India they all act like the are running some kind of classy joint, where the only place I got really good customer service was in the jewellers in the slums.
Everyone else took pains to ask me for money, remind me to pay them a tip and so fourth or follow me 8 city blocks on foot asking for money, or throw a tantrum that I wanted to walk instead of take a taxi some neglible distance.
And Italy I have to admit is incredibly low on the arsehole front, yes the Euro is bleeding me slowly dry but people are genuinely unresentful.
The kicker is that the euro is so expensive despite such poor economic performance from Italy, I suspect if tourism went there wouldn't be anything left to prop the country up.
Anyway I have come across one tired bitch in my entire customer service experience of Italy and that was at my lodgings in Venice.
And everyone else has been delightful, if anyone tells you Indian customer service is great, they are wrong, it is exhausting, and how is that service?
And then of course there's the tourists.
They change, I think though the rule could be expressed something like this - 'The more tourist attractions a place has, the less enjoyable'
For example, in Verona I met Alessandro, Marco and an American guy called Tom. They were all cool, Marco and Alessandro also riding around on bicycles (I'll come back to that) and Tom who had gotten sick of being a nightshift grocery store manager and just booked a flight to Europe until the money ran out.
And I enjoyed their company.
Then you go back to Genoa, a place where the old city center gets very dark very quickly at night, and despite its beauty I suspect is one of the least popular tourist destinations.
The tourist superhighway I suspect through Italy is Venice to Rome via Florence. So when you get off the highway things get better, though Florence is a better tourist scene than Rome or Venice.
Venice is fat americans, whinging poms and old people with of course Jpack tours. Florence is young people who would pay to see Renaissance art (more on that too later) and then Italian high school kids, old people and so fourth, Rome is tourists and almost no Italians (which is kind of true of Venice aswell) but numerous youth hostels for one stop kids to get trashed in and so fourth.
And it goes back farther, I enjoyed Nagoya, Shizuoka and Takematsu more than Tokyo and Osaka (although Tokyo aside all of Japan is pretty enjoyable when you speak the language) and I suspect more than Kyoto.
Why? I have been trying to figure it out.
The first perplexing question was this, my lowest of lows was my flight to Istanbul that left me in a funk that had me walled up in my hotel for half a day. It was brought on by ridiculous British Accents, why are there so many of them? Britain is so phenomenally geographically small, and the BA flight was the worst thing I ever endured albeit one of my shortest flights. Because I had to listen to people talking loudly 'That is rubbish' in the most ridiculous voices and Bryce confirmed it when he was there and whilst 'you have to see it for yourself' isn't quite the right sentiment because you are better off never seeing it, it is to say British People really are phenomenally ugly.
Being caged in with them had me digging my claws into my armrest and I just couldn't dodge the stupid lady behind me even when it came to luggage collection and customs, she was everywhere.
There I thought, after hours of exposure to the tripe that is British Journalism and looking at the news of bank collapse after bank collapse, 'who gives these people money' before going to my stopover in Heathrow I had thought Britain one of the most progressive countries in the world.
Then flashforward to Venice, where the strip from the train station to my hotel (300m) has me in no less than 40 encounters with Inane American tourists. Fat so I can tell at some point they are going to bitch about the lack of escalators and/or expense of water taxis in Venice at some point over the weekend and I thought 'who gives you people money?'
That is the question. I keep asking with so many tourists how they got so rich, how they can afford this? how the fuck did they get employed and manage to save enough to get here?
I mean it may just be I have the wrong perspective, that these people are instead racking up massive debt on their credit card and will return home to house reposession.
And that would be darwinian but it threw me into the other side of the globalization debate. These people that get on my nerves with their loud, inane, inconsiderate announcements to the world as to how stupid they are are what Tom Friedman refers to as 'the fat' that is such a disadvantage in a flat world.
These are people who rail against dolebludgers, not realising that the extremely exemplarary work of the top 3% of American/Australian/European/Japanese entrepreneurs have for so long left them largely unaccountable for their own actual value contribution.
Yes that's right I'm saying the work of one Steve Jobs probably employs more deadweight in 'real jobs' than his income tax gets siphoned off into welfare, and if he starts choosing to reallocate those wages to someone more competitive, educated and intelligent in India, thats his prerogative. Infact that's ethical.
That I think sums it up, there's a lot of fat in the modern world from behind trade protectionist barriers for so long has left us with a completely artificial concept of entitlement.
A sedistic part of me is game for this recession just to see who survives the darwinian competition.
Except that I rely on people and could get steamrolled by overseas communities. What I'd much rather see is my own community stop whining and start competing.
Not because its necessary but because its fun, its much funner than being some fat spoilt blob that sandwhiches me in queue at the Uffizi gallery and makes unbelievably ignorant comments about renaissance art whilst I'm just quietly trying to enjoy.
And that's who I don't like, but what of the people I do.
First comment is the ratio for every 10 people I meet that I don't like (and that doesn't mean I carve 'die' into their flesh when they are sleeping) I meet roughly 1 that I do like. But it isn't random, its predictable. For example, I wander around Venice for a day and pass hundreds of people I know would struggle to have a meaningful or mutually beneficial conversation.
I crash in a hostel in Verona and meet 4 people at breakfast I'm happy to hang out with for a day.
So I've already said, the further off the tourism superhighway helps. Then bikes are a big giveaway for me, a bike says an incredible lot about people generally though that isn't to say their aren't a fair share of pretentious posers in the bicycle world. But they at least suggets a person knows the basics of economics, has patience, appreciates to some extent mechanics and engineering, enjoys 'atmospheres' more than destinations.
Another indicator, a big indicator is books, if people read it means they as George Clooney puts it in 'Oh Brother Where Art Though' usually have the capacity for 'Abstract thought' and that makes you, my blog reader all right in my books. They are usually higher educated, have some kind of profession of interest that facilitates common ground. They are self financed or pay debit not credit. They usually have a backpack rather than anything you'd call luggage.
These people I like, but if you did the numbers I bet you'd find that:
people who voluntarily ride bicycles as transport are in the minority
people who read books for leisure are in the minority
people who don't have credit cards are in the minority
people happy to live out of a backpack are in the minority

I'm sure if it was a real study of all the starving possesionless people of the world the numbers wouldn't reflect a minority due to the 'I'll read a book if I can eat it afterwards' effect. But at anyrate it all points towards one thing, that on average if I were to meet someone, chances are I wouldn't like them.
Its not all bad though, fortunately there are ways most of us associate close to only with people like ourselves all our lives. The ABS can demonstrate this and terms like 'white bread' allude to this fact.
Real estate prices suggest it too or are proxy's for the other things that contribute to them, such as access to schools vs crime rates and so fourth.
So Jefferson is 100% right, and I hope I can live in this natural aristocracy for a good long time once I'm done travelling.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Cycling Guide to Venice.

Venice will be host city of the 2016 Para-olympics, the municiple government has stated that its rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty make it the perfect location for such a high profile event, despite lacking a stadium the mayor is confident that the games will provide the kind of economic revival the township needs to break its dependance on tourist dollars. 'It will be a huge boost for tourism' stated the mayor, who has already before the bid succeeded been filling in extra canals to make way for the Olympic Village.
That's another strange thing about countries that have man made attractions older than 200 years. Disability access is not on the menu. Whether it's Inuyama castle in Japan, Angkor Wat, or the entire city of Venice beyond the train station doors if you are in a wheelchair you aren't getting any sympathy from history there.
I kind of wonder what happened to old venetian invalids back in the day people who aren't tourists lived there, did you just see their bloated corpses face down in the Canals?
At any rate I noticed mothers with prams negotiating the un-wheel friendly streets of Venice and occasioanally offered a hand when we were going in the same direction. What I didn't see where italians laughing and pointing at the idiots with their prams trying to negotiate the quaint little bridges.
Unlike when I attempted the same (three) bridges between my bicycle and freedom.
But something has come over me in recent days, maybe since meeting Benno no matter how briefly or incidentally, I have just lost all self consciousness of riding a bike where most would never concieve of riding a bike. And surely the least practical place for bikes, possibly the least practical in the entire world, would be Venice. For sure, Venice is even less friendly to cars and I am sure, none have ever made the attempt, but being in the unique position of being just a regular tourist, and a bike tourer, I attempt to train to major destinations and ride where I can.
And so I paused to take a few snaps of Rosante in Venice, thinking, these at least won't have three friends on facebook posting the exact same photos two weeks either side of my visit.
There's no way you can overestimate Venice, the atmosphere is just too unique. It truly is world heritage, if you needed desperately to impress an alien civilization with heritage, you would take them to Venice.
But that said, after wandering the Canals for 8 hours there isn't much to do. Because the moment you step indoors anywhere that isn't a glass or mask shop, you are in any other town in Italy, if not the world.
Same same for its big cathedral, yes it has gold and yes its big.
But one experience few people can boast to share is when you carry your bike up and over three bridges, then ride it across the lagoon on a bike path just for you and peddle all the way to Padua.
So there, bikes have a place everywhere.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making do at Sea

A funny thing happened to me in Milan, I was only there in transit on my journey from wonderful Genova to I suspect tourist hell Venice, and paid my .70 euro tariff to use the bathroom, knowing I was trapped between trains.
Locking the bike up in Milan incedently is a pain. A good reflection of italian organisation is the fact that they provide trains for bikes, and yet the stations have almost no facilities for them, pushing my bike up stairs is the finish line for me, not pulling up and hopping off my bike in front of the station.
Anyway I go to the urinals, there's 4 or so along the wall and a short little Italian man of perhaps late 20s early 30s at the end one so I go to the first one and commence taking a leak.
Next thing I know the guy at the end one is now right next to me in the second one. I glance up to recognise hm briefly then back to business.
I notice him glancing over my shoulder repeatedly and I feel insecure. Namely insecure about the electronic devices I have in my pockets feeling particularly vulnerable that if this guy was to reach in and grab my wallet or even open up my backpack, I'd have my pissing cock between catching him and a clean getaway.
Then I see that old familiar thrust of his hand sliding up and down his shaft.
He's just using my 'golden shower' as a masturbatory aid.
I relax, finish up and walk out of there. After washing my hands I notice looking backwards that the dude has slunk back to the end urinal.
I laughed. Why the fuck did I laugh? first off I guess its a matter of 'what the fuck do I care?' if the dude wants to jack off to the imagery of me pissing then so be it. It's not like my dick is standing tall 'like a strong swimmer that has just been for a swim' as per Mr.Garrison's hit book 'the valley of penises' no instead it was my loose and relaxed small form penis taking a piss. A piss! fucking hell, I laugh because I wonder about this guy, this is the information age, when did he get sick of sitting in his dark apartment infront of his computer watching gay men cornhole eachother and say 'you know this doesn't cut it.' how many times on that quiet sunday afternoon did he shoot his wad onto his chest or face and wipe it off with a designer Italian black sock and say 'these are getting harder each time, I need some new inspiration' and have to head down, pay 70 cents and stand in a combined puddle of Urine and look over the shoulders of the finest Milan Central Station has to offer (which isn't very fine) and instead of seeing erect cocks being sucked on or pounding ass but limped and pissing.
That's why I laughed, come on, that's funny.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Putting Shame on My Game

Last night I settled in to sleep a nice deep sleep in my dorm bed, to be woken (not unusual) by a fellow tennant arriving a couple of hours later. Usually this is at most a half hour ordeal, the worst of them leaving the light on during this time.
This guy set a new record though, giggling hysterically, switching the lights on and off in a manner I can only describe as 'experimental' and banging doors loudly.
The worst though where seemingly bored he decided on impulse to start talking loudly at me in Italian, until I disturbed from my sleep answered 'english' and he said 'where are you from?' and so fourth, after two iterations of question and answer I finally said 'I have to go early tomorrow and need to sleep' then stopped talking. This seemed to work.
At 6.30am he went to the toilet and made sure to slam the doors again 'experimentally' and yelling things in Italian down the coridor presumably to the other dorm rooms.
I didn't stir till much later for fear of more conversation, but when I eventually got up and he entered the room for the 8th time in 10 minutes I said 'g'day' (earlier I neglected to mention he lay down after going to the toilet and said loudly 'I have never been to London, never!' to which I merely kept up my act of sleeping).
I started looking for clues as to why this guy was such a douchebag so impervious to ordinary social convention. The rainbow coloured backpack ala punky brewster said maybe he had some mental incapacity, also the fact he hadn't managed to fit his sheets to mattress or pillow supported this theory. But then the bilingual ability suggested he had at least no problem learning languages. Maybe he was just lonely. I couldn't figure him out.
Now that I admittedly had dubbed it an appropriate time to talk being that we were both awake, I extended the olive branch and said 'so where are you from my friend?' no response. I just continued packing my bags for Venice and eventually he said 'I do not feel like talking now' and that so far is the worst company I've had in hostels.
It is a highly transient experience in hostels, there's people you are in sync with, that arrive when you do and leave the same day, there are people that meander and stay longer that you say bye to one morning or eat lunch with as they follow you around, having seen what is to be seen whilst lacking the language and cashflow to 'immerse' themselves in local culture. Then there's times when you are caught behind, and others are moving on to new and exciting destinations seemingly at the drop of a hat.
And the cycle can happen many times in any one location, you can get stuck between, catch the end of and simultaneously span a revisit from people daytripping out and in again.
But it not a race, I guess though everybody feels something, something different. Sometimes I miss people when they are gone, sometimes I am relieved. Most of the time a hostel is somewhere I can put my bags and forget about them whilst I hit the streets on foot and feel human again.
Italy is not that cycling friendly I must begrudgingly admit, with the mountain ranges and the confused roads. The trains at least accomodate bicycles in a near self defeating convenience, and thus far I calculate that I have saved 72 euros from the bike only approximately 200 more and it becomes a steal.
In the same hostel I encountered this peculiar social inept, I also encountered a Swiss on his way home called Benno, his funny accent made me guess he was from New Zealand originally, he was a cyclist too. The second I had met in Italy, that is an actual tour cyclist with luggage and stuff. His bike was locked up in the same Janitor closet mine was, and it was there before mine so I knew he had faced the same uphill ride to the hostel I just had.
It killed me. For one I was wearing a jacket which cooked me, and didn't relish the prospect of repacking my bags midway as I don't think it was the straw that broke the camels back in this case, I think it was the 9 consecutive uphill roads that did for me.
He though claimed to have ridden the whole way just following the handy signs to the Hostel, that's one thing I'm not used to in Italy, in Australia all roadsigns have the distance left next to them, and very common in intercity destinations too like the airport, turnoff and tourist attractions to have '600m on the left' and so fourth.
I further couldn't believe Benno had done as he claimed when I saw his luggage was what I would approximate as 30kg. I reckon all up mine weighs 12kg at most give or take a few. And I probably in sheer weight had 10 kg on him, except a lot of this is my meaty hillclimbing legs.
He was looking for a way through Switzerland on bike, to which I thought him even crazier than before and he casually remarked that only two roads were open this time of year.
We talked maps and stuff and I knew that his bike riding career cast a long shadow over my 1 week career of touring, where I seemed to be learning everything the hard way, such as the convenience vs inconvenience equations of having a 28" set of wheels for your luggage, the value of maps.
And that was about as much as I could speak to Benno. He checked out while I was shaving or showering yesterday and he was nice enough to leave his card.
Which lead to his website which has a blog and a map of his journey.
and then you have to think, amazing people are everywhere, this quiet, polite and interesting fellow has been riding the world for a year and is so close to home, what he must be feeling now is incredible, and I will probably beat him to Switzerland on account of cheating and grabbing a train from Milan, but I feel something akin to shame, or foolishness at blathering out the challanges of ringroads, uphill rides and carting luggage to this guy, like a fat person complaining about the lack of travelators in an airport to an Ultra Marathon runner.
but nonetheless I feel priveledged, and encouraged. I doubt I'll ever undertake such an epic cycle as him, but I do want to cycle more.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hard On for Revolution

I remember the first and last listening circleor talking circle or whatever it was because it was a distinctivly banal 30 minutes of my life.
I mean I did my bit and sat on a cushion, but I hadn't offered much because this dude kept dragging it back to people not realising we had the power for revolution. Which wasn't surprising he was introduced as a marxist.
I just finished reading Iron Council by China Mieville, I didn't like it as much as the first book of his I read which was 'the scar' not least for which Iron Council seems to be the exact same structure ostensibly as the Scar was, kind of like in the latter days of Nu Metal Korn and Limp Bizkit albums became more or less fill the gap albums.
It had a tremendous sense that he took the scar and said man I just didn't make the point clear enough. So Iron Council came out with the city of ships changed to a perpetual train, and the undercurrent of revolution and expansionis economic policies across the world of Bas-Lag, but then the Socialist narrative is much more overt.
And that much was clear from wikipedia which probably took a bit of shine off the novel before picking it up, because of spoilers I read, I knew the beginning and the destination before reading the detail.
What perplexes me though, is with the words 'socialism' why does the world 'revolution' almost always spring out in the next sentance?
They are two different things that seem to have married and like your best friend and their cool girlfriend now wife, are now both really uncool to hang around.
As unhip and polluted the marxist brand is, Karl Marx did prdict a lot of the fallout of the industrial revolution and his observations are for the most part accurate and run true today.
I also am a believer in a lot of social welfare, such as free education up to secondary (how we adapted to industrialisation) and would push for free and compulsory higher education too. Also scialist healthcare, public transport all that shit.
But the fashions, the smell, the getting your arse beat by cops all these are what have put 'the socialist alternative' and other groups firmly in a place called 'beneath contempt'.
To return to Mieville's world of Bas-Lag and notably the depiction in Iron Council, there are some lengthy debates and such that make it clear (though isn't self evident in the book) that Iron Council's narrative is told from the socialist perspective and ultimately Mieville's perspective, which when you think about it is neither contraversial, outragous or surprising or for that matter even poor authorship and does I must say make for a change.
So in fairnesses the depiction of 'the man' has an admitted deliberate bias to cast them as the bad guys, and it is rare for a fantasy to not have a bad power structure that is not 'pltting the destruction of the world' but instead more the orwellian 'power is the means and the end' sense.
And motifs become everyday economic and shit which is good.
But the real stretch of fantasy is how he instills the sense that Iron Council the perpetual train itself is important, a symbol of defiance where the people triumphed for the first time in taking something from 'the man' which you know for the fantasy world equivalent of London - New Crobuzon doesn't stick for me.
Largely because while their is a wealth and poverty gap, the people of the world can lead a large self deterministic life, and this in itself makes 'the revolution' fantasy.
And they are the biggest leaps or 'dues ex machina' in the novel, for example, the main character Judah Low inspires his followers in seeking out the Iron Council by use of some mystical 'good' quality that lives inside him. Without really explaining it people aren't draw to the inherant logic of his position, but instead to this 'don't worry its good' feeling.
It never really captures why we should sympathise with any of the characters, there is nothing really to win us over to the cause.
There is nothing substantial to suggest why there is a revolution brewing in the midst of the city, apart from recession, the next closest 'evil' the militia engag in is the remaking punitive measure where disobediant citizens are made into freaks that then are engaged as slave labor or left to beg.
That I can understand, but again it is probably more accurate of the overcrowded prison system that spawned the convict colonies in America which in turn led to convicts being sent to Australia.
But its just the meaningless cruelty.
But apart from that its all pretty glossy, the peopledon't like the government, they want to rise up they embrace these self governed communities. I don't think a case is built and am probably thankful for it because Mieville's other great virtue as a fantasy author is the rare ability to complete a narrative in less than 9 books, or that said 1 an outstanding achievement.
He does capture the frustrations inherit in the socialist community, as in the frustration of the members who are all waiting for a revolution that is never coming and particularly the narrative of Ori and his godfather like decent into activist hell as he is betrayed and drawn in further all round.
SO why the socialists, that at least in Australia inspire the general public not to go to protest worthy causes by not wanting to be associated with filthy vagrant nutbags, who are beloved by investigative journalism and talk back radio, but tv particularly because usually the 5 violent individuals are enough to fill a camera shot and call their actions a 'riot' and thus further discredit anyone takig a countrary position to conservative.
So this is the fundamental paradox, why are the socialists on the outskirts of society?
Now if they were the fascists I could understand the desire for revolution, of seizing power because the rational debate would be like this 'we want to contro everyones lives and syphon off resources to prop up the wealth of the totalitarian ruling class so most people wil be worse off.' but fascists throughout history have usually seized power by scapegoating and emphasising their role as providing 'security' and often been gradually voted in as their ideology gained momentum such as the Nazi party.
But why are socialists at the point where they are espousing that socialism needs to be forced on society and then dividing into faction ater faction until a faction such as anarchists-without-adjectives springs up appealing to bring it back to some center again.
Is it a fundamental ego problem, that competing interests as to who casts off theshackles of imperialism and capitalism and globalisation has to be them? or is it another paradox?
Is it tht these movements need a certain amount of liberty to exist in the first place. I mean certainly in the case of the Socialit Alternative, in their status as 'beneath contempt' or perhaps even lower at 'useful to power' given their ability to detract from worthy political causes rather than advance them, can meet and post bills all they want, because in a society where they are free to do so, free to exist, nobody sees much to be gained by pursuing it?
In China sure, except socialism has been hijacked by the oppressor, and the oppressor doesn't even let groups other than the party form, they invented thought crime to council it out.
s it that in a society where there's just enough critical leverage that one is born with the chance of imroving ones lot in life, that they'll take all the other shit rather thn risk the destruction of the violent revolution most socialist nutbags I meet are hellbent on.
In Iron Council, the city is destroyed when the revolution prematurely ejaculates so to speak. And in a way that really impresses me, Mieville as an author manages to capture at once all the frustrations of a lot of the issues and paradoxes above that I have listed, the facions, the fact that he movement more or less cancels itself out, removes is own steem, that the ego to be the ones drives the iron council on its suicidal path.
I still though am unsatisfied with the tenuous threads of sentances and mystical qualities unexplained that make the Iron Council so important symbollicly, and so popular a mythology. I think their Mieville might have assumed some values that I at least just can't share.

Cool Tapes

I once contemplated seriously getting Cool Tapes and an old-school cassette tape tattooed on my back. One thing stopped me, my aversion to tattoos. And had that failed I'm sure the advent of me sprouting backhair prbably would have.
That said whilst exploring the alleyways of Genova I passed a tattoo shop whose designs were original enough for me to say 'you know you'd be actually be pretty cool with one of those'and then were also original enough for me to know I would never get one myself, being impossible to coordinate clothes with afterwards.
Other cool stuff I have discovered or read about is peg-leg designs, not so much their actual designs but the way they mass produce their own clothes in a hands on way.
And of course I've been jacking up Harvard's blog hitcount because I can't be bothered remembering the url for 'Garfield minus garfield' which I nw tune into daily like it has NBA scores.
oh and be sure to check out the second last colour tattoo design.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pondering the Deeper Questions

...of basketball. Right now all I dream about is having a lightweight bike again, man I wish explodinator was here and playing basketball. Houston has a 20 game winning streak! Kobe actually has a winning record that could make him MVP this year! there was a Kobe Bryant blog day, 24 posts in 24 hours and all pure love (athought the pots were sort of cheating by trawling old material).
And then you have Gil's excellent post about the role perception plays in the NBA and the shape of the game.
A lot of what stimulates my strategic thinking and even philosophical approach to life can be found in this beautiful game, moreso than cycling which I engage in often, but there's a sheer mindless pleasure to cycling, an endlessness to roads that make it far more abstract.
basketball is something else, it shifts and changes, its social, it engages the holy trinity of sport that only one other sport in the world does* - speed, strength & finesse. Its tactical, its emotional, it is like gelati, you can put so many different combinations together chances are you never have the same experience twice.
Sure it has its downside too. Soccers greatest asset is that the game last 80 minutes and the balance of power can shift dramatically in any given 30 seconds, though probability wise the good chance you can go to a game and never see anyone score is enough for me to never devote time aquiring a taste for it, only the world cup and itsthinly veiled sanction for racism will bring me to the soccer sidelines again.
And Gilbert Arena's talks about the evolution of the game, I would hope that as a process of evolution natural selection has the bad rules defeated by the good rules and the game becomes better over time.
Certainy cycling is so tarnished it can only inspire an extreme lack of interest. And I don't know if basketball s subject to the natural phenomena of evolution, its abortive attempt at introducing a new ball indicates that at least the ball has reached an evolutionary stable strategy after years that make it environment symbiotically dependant on it.
But the game itself, Gil complains about the lack of enforcers, Phil Jackson in spiritual hoops talks about his inability as coach to discipline the team (being only able to hand out $500 fines to players who earn minimum $7 million per year or something).
And then there were the complaints from Dallas Mavericks that fateful year where Wade trotted to the line anytime dallas tried to defend Dwade in the paint.
Infact usually changes to rules coincide with making the game less legally liable (marketing speak: safer) or allow white guys to still play a useful role (marketing speak: more competitive).
And I'm not sure whether we are watching the game at itsmost evolved, its best.
Certainly protecting players from career ending injuries and lifelongdebilitating pain I find harder to argue against, but then there are also guys that bemoan Jordan changing the game and inspiring a generation of athletic high flyers to come in. The same people applauding Nash for winning MVP and putting the emphasis back on assists, which takes you back to Gil's blog about defining a point gaurd.
In my view the ply maker should do everything to maximise the possibility of scoring on any given possession, so Assists come first on sheer mathematics, but a point guard that can score is better than one that can pass. Same as a center that can grab offensive rebonds and dish out assists and complete low post scoring manouvers. And a center that can shoot free throws is even better.
And then you get players like Barkley that are too short for power forward but still grab all the boards, then will bang in a three from downtown, not doing what their supposed to do, versus a pure powerforward like Shawn Kemp whofinishes allyoops lobbed by Payton from the half line.
I think just on players versatility you could make a case that basketball isn't asgood as it was in the Johnson-Jordan years, but then you have even with all the new rulesguys like Garnett and Nowitzki 'redefining' power forward, you have Vince Carter keeping the swingman tradition alive. You have Nate Robinson trying to play Harlem Globetrotter on point. Different shit is always happening.
The rules should simpl maximise the complexity and fun of the game.
I don't think the game needs direction or evolution. It jut needs players with a quadrangle whose angles are so incomprehensible it defies imagination, that is speed, strength, finesse & creativity. Pistol Pete style plays, like a Morello for the ball who just blows open what you can do with a rubber ball and a hoop like Morello did for guitar in RATM.
But still if you can ind a sport you love, get into it, it will make you that much better a person.

*AFL you soccer pussies

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Do I enjoy life?

I always dug how in the popular Mr. Men series, Mr. Fussy looks like Hitler, infact is more or less Hitler check it out:

And although I don't really recieve criticism via the blog or in any of my correspondance I don't really need to, because I have a greater critic than any reader s likely to prove to be, and one far more interested in myself - me.
And I sense now that in my warriors pilgrimage, my walkabout, my musha shugyo as it were I go from place to place and find fault and criticise and offer no real insight or solution like nothing in the world impresses me like I am Mr. Fussy if any of the Mr. Men, it poses the question of myself 'Am I just one of those miserable whining people?' And I say, I don't feel like one.
And perhaps there in lies the key that I don't really cover, my supreme confidence in myself... More illustrative is perhaps the work of Vagabond that has been highly influential in my life, you start out with Shinmen Takezo, who has deserted the losing Samurai army of the battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi Loyalists breaks through Tokugawa lines and is a hunted fugitive whose dreams of winning glory in war have ended.
Unable to return home due to soldiers waiting for him and never really welcomed by the locals he starts to beat his head against a rock until the wandering monk Takuan Soho puts him on his warriors pilgrimage and gives him the new name 'Musashi Miyamoto' and although I certainly didn't leave a hostile environment beating my head against a rock in Australia, the most illustrative scene is where Musashi reaches Kyoto to challenge the Yoshioka Kempo school that teach swordsmanship to the Ashikaga shogun's (now defunct) however the school is the highest esteemed in the land and Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan and to Musashi 'the world'.
And he walks in and finds their style to be slow and sloppy and thinks to himself 'my god, its so slow, I can take them.' and yes its arrogant, but is it negative? its critical yes, maybe partially naive, but it isn't negative. I find it extremely positive. And in my travels the same goes for a lot of what I see.
Angkor Wat, Cinque Terra are probably the highlights of the man made world, thus far at least, but a lot of what I see is humanity at its most inane, its least exciting.
The meditaranian's composition is the same as any other sea in the world - salt water. People in China dream of winning the lottery to bring them out of their woes just the same as people in Turkey. Girls in Japan go to vodka bars dreaming of meeting a nice, wealthy, domesticated guy with unpushy parents to maybe date and marry just like girls in Australia, England, America and other countries.
Teenagers dress up as emo's and take their sad defiance to public places same in Rome's Piazza del Popolo as they stink up the front of Flinders st Station and QV steps Sydney.
The fact of the matter is this,

On average people are average.

And slightly less than half of us can take comfort in that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Italians Nature's Clowns

Some impressions, I think being in Italy I do appreciate more its role in my mothers make-up that not being genetic but Italy to her is like Japan to me.
But I do definitely think that the Italy my mum sees and the Italy I am seeing are very different things.
Not least because I find Italian fashion almost more heterogenous than Japan. But where Japan is creepy in the group dynamics, Italy is something else...
Anyway for me there are two things you just don't do, and one is wear white shoes with Jeans, just doesn't work, but the Italians they love it, they just can't get enough of it. That and everyone wearing those big designer glasses and the second thing you just don't do and that is tuck a shirt into jeans.
It may just again be the lingering seattle grunge scene haunting me, but man, I gotta say, Italy's fashion scene isn't the crazy convergence of the nexus of universal fashion Chevy Chase had me believing from European Vacation.
If I had to describe my overall impression of Italy, its a third generation of a great family. Following the whole the first generation builds it (Rome) the second makes it famous (Vatican and Renaissance) and the third squanders it (Now) I mean I just kind of see a bunch of ingrates on the one hand growing up amongst this magnificent ancient infrastructure, and on the other hand I feel for the youth of Italy stifled by the achievements of so much history, with so few surfaces inner city that they can graffiti in good conscious.
Yes, Italy is crazy, but I'm not sure if as my mother says it is a 'love of life' and so fourth, I am surprised by Italy, because I don't see so much a 'love of life' as a contempt for competition, a desire to just be locked away in time.
And that said Europes efforts in fighting globalisation are famous. Italy will fine you for buying conterfeit goods here, enough to make it more economical to buy the real deal.
But that said, if you don't want imports coming to compete with you, stop exporting too motherfuckers. That's true antiglobalisation, and one I begrudgingly have to disagree with. I guess the trap for everyone is 'everyone wants economic growth, nobody wants change' and I don't know who said that anymore but it wasn't me.