Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Three Australian Cultural Commandments:

1. Thou shalt not whinge;
2. Thou shalt not try to be better than others


3. Thou shalt not carry on like a flamin' dickhead.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ian Macfadyen pinpoints the essence of Australian culture"

Ian Macfadyen adroitly pinpoints the precise qualities of Australian culture which I have striven intuitively to identify for years. His brilliant distinction is to parse out the American and English qualities of Australia, then take what is left and discern it's precise nature.

"Australian poets are celebrated because, although they are poets, they also like to share a beer with blokes down the pub; novelists and playwrights make much of the fact that they like to go to the footy and we make tribute to intellectuals, who, although they are historians or philosophers, still have a "larrikin" streak. All this is justified as a sort of red-blooded, Socialist anti-elitism with accompanying homilies that we must remember our roots. The real reason is that deep down these Aussie intellectuals are still small boys frightened of being beaten up in the playground.

"This dominant class of Australians might be called the AWCs, or Affluent Working Class. They have what might be called an unelaborated social and intellectual code. The tenets of the group’s culture forbid its members to adopt a more elaborated approach to life. The AWCs are therefore distinguishable from those who pretend to a more elaborated code who are the ISAs or Intellectually and Socially Ambitious Australians. They are people have aspirations to intellect, art, science, sensitivity, communication or anything else connected with introspection or self expression.

"I reiterate that membership of these classes has nothing to do with income, family background or even intellect but simply to the adoption of a set of attitudes. Hence it is as easy to find a AWC in the boardroom or a film festival as it is to find an ISA in a factory.

"The implications for comedy in such a cultural divide are profound. Since the AWC culture precludes displays of intellect it is very difficult to imagine an Australian program based, as is the American show "Frasier", on the fortunes of a middle aged, divorced psychiatrist. Andrew Denton, while having a loyal following amongst people who might be described as tertiary educated, struggles to attract a more general audience. He is a "smartarse" if ever there was one.

"More importantly, along with the standardization of intellect amongst AWCs, comes a standardization of feelings. It is generally accepted that Australian blokes are not allowed to get emotional about very much except for a few activities specially designated and designed for that purpose i.e. sport. It is regarded as quite unmasculine, in fact downright sissy, for men are get emotional about politics, religion, literature, social welfare, the environment, animals, science or relationships.

"This means that an AWC sitcom character could never give vent to the voluble Jewish angst of a George Costanza or Gerry Seinfeld. He couldn’t express the vulnerability of a Garry Shandling, nor would the rapid-fire wordplay, banter, feint and counter-feint of a relationship such as in "Mad About You" ring true in an AWC relationship. Indeed verbalisation itself is not an allowed AWC characteristic, and so the snappy dialogue of the New York genre of sitcom cannot work here.

"Even if Australians were given to expressing frustration, the problem is that in real life AWCs don’t really have that much to complain about. If frustration is the engine of situation comedy, an AWC sitcom is soon going to run out of fuel. Not only does Australia not have the oppression of a class system, or a rapidly changing society Australians are not particularly prone to envy, or horror at what’s happening around them. In fact AWCs have so little to concern them that people have to invent things for them to feel strongly about, such as football games.

"Now, in reality, many Australians confront daily a great range of problems both material and social however the AWC culture tends to forbids complaining about one’s lot."

This is brilliant and substantial analysis, found here ( )

I will leave you with the wonderful closing words:

"The Australian cultural commandments: thou shalt not whinge, thou shalt not try to be better than others and thou shalt not carry on like an idiot, militate against sitcom as we know it. Australians are therefore happy to watch British and American characters keeping up appearances or talking to their neighbours over the back fence about their parenting problems, but these are things which Australians are not allowed to do. Since sitcom is a comic elaboration of the human condition, sitcoms work best with characters from cultures who can and do elaborate on their circumstances. It becomes extremely difficult to create a sitcom about characters who are not allowed to, or cannot, elaborate on their condition; characters who are verbally, emotionally and intellectually minimalist.

It may be that situation comedies only arise in societies which are in transition or decline. In social terms comedy is both a diagnostic and therapeutic process. Comedians are often the first people to point out the problems, while at the same time helping the audience deal with the implications arising from those problems. Barry Humphries was probably the first person to identify the staggering conformity in suburban decor and lifestyle which, now, for us characterises the Fifties and Sixties; that astounding sameness in furnishings, clothes and attitudes of which we were only dimly aware before Edna Everage made it all public.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Whey Protein is Worse Than Sewerage

Little known information on the popular but toxic food supplement, whey protein powder. This information is so valuable that it is worth reproducing in full from the Yahoo Group:

Article of the Week: Medical Myth #7:
Whey Is a Health Food

Since 1978, whey has been touted by food and dairy manufacturers as
the ultimate health food. They exalt whey as a more complete protein
than the perfect egg. The most common measure of protein quality is
the Biological Value (BV). A whole egg is measured at 100 BV. Whey
weighs in at 104 BV. In comparison, the BV of beef is 80, soy is 74,
wheat is 54, and the BV of beans is 49.

Whey contains all of the essential and nonessential amino acids, so
body builders often use its protein concentrate to assist in building
muscles. With all of these claims, you would think that drinking pure
whey would turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger; however, before you
invest in a gallon jug, let's take a look at the origin of whey.

I cannot think of a more appropriate explanation of the process of
making whey than the one given by Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little
House in the Big Woods (pages 187-192):

"Pa went to Grandpa's and to Uncle Henry's to talk about the
cheese-making, and Uncle Henry said he would kill one of his calves.
There would be enough rennet for Aunt Polly and Grandma and Ma. So Pa
went again to Uncle Henry's, and came back with a piece of the little
calf's stomach. It was like a piece of soft, grayish-white leather,
all ridged and rough on one side.

"When the cows were milked at night, Ma set the milk away in pans. In
the morning she skimmed off the cream to make into butter later. Then
when the morning's milk had cooled, she mixed it with the skimmed
milk and set it all on the stove to heat. A bit of the rennet, tied
in a cloth, was soaking in warm water.

"When the milk was heated enough, Ma squeezed every drop of water
from the rennet in the cloth, and then she poured the water into the
milk. She stirred it well and left it in a warm place by the stove.
In a little while it thickened into a smooth, quivery mass. With a
long knife Ma cut this mass into little squares, and let it stand
whilethe curd separated from the why. Then she poured it all into a
cloth and let the thin, yellowish whey drain out.

"When no more whey dripped from the cloth, Ma emptied the curd into a
big pan and salted it, turning and mixing it well. Laura and Mary
were always there, helping all they could. They loved to eat bits of
the curd when Ma was salting it. It squeaked in their teeth.

"Under the cherry tree outside the back door Pa had put up the board
to press the cheese on. He had cut two grooves the length of the
board, and laid the board on blocks, one end a little higher than the
other. Under the lower end stood an empty pail.

"Ma put her wooden cheese hoop on the board, spread a clean, wet
cloth all over the inside of it, and filled it heaping full of the
chunks of salted curd. She covered this with another clean, wet
cloth, and laid on top of it a round board, cut small enough to go
inside the cheese hoop. Then she lifted a heavy rock on top of the
board. All day long the round board settled slowly under the weight
of the rock, and whey pressed out and ran down the grooves of the
board into the pail.

"Next morning, Ma would take out the round, pale yellow cheese, as
large as a milk pan. Then she made more curd, and filled the cheese
hoop again. ... The first day Ma made cheese, Laura tasted the whey.
She tasted it without saying anything to Ma, and when Ma turned
around and saw her face, Ma laughed. That night while she was washing
the supper dishes and Mary and Laura were wiping them, Ma told Pa
that Laura had tasted the whey and didn't like it."

This process has been improved since the 1870s, but Laura's
explanation of cheese making gives a clear indication that pioneers
had no use for whey. It tasted and smelled awful! This simple fact is
just as true today. Harvey and Marilyn Diamond describe it as "a
putrid, yellow-green by-product of cheese production," which is
"vile-smelling" and "vile-tasting" (Diamond, Harvey & Marilyn. Fit
For Life II: Living Health. New York: Warner Books, 1987. 328). It
makes me wonder if Little Miss Muffet ate the curd and left the whey
for the spider.

Before 1960, whey was trucked to hog farms as pig feed. That was an
expensive way to dispose of it, so the dairy industry began to look
for other inexpensive alternatives. Many cheese manufacturers began
to illegally dump whey into streams, landfills, and sewers; however,
federal regulations strictly forbade this practice. Why?

"Whey is 100 to 200 times more stronger a pollutant than residential
sewage, and most municipal sewerage plants cannot treat it
adequately. Disposal in streams is out because whey depletes
waterways of oxygen, thus rendering them incapable of supporting
marine life. Disposal on unused land or gravel pits is often
unsuitable because of seepage into water supplies" (Ibid. 328).

With solutions dwindling for the inexpensive disposal of whey, the
dairy industry finally discovered an innovative resolution. You're
going to love this! Straight from the Los Angeles Times on December
4, 1978, we read, "The solution hit upon by both industry and
government is to apply high technology and sophisticated marketing
techniques and feed the stuff to humans."

It worked before! The meat and dairy industry collaborated to bring
us the poisonous four food groups with their advertising campaigns
and education programs. Why not use the same strategy for whey? This
stuff is too toxic for sewers, but not for the American people!
They'll eat anything! Let's promote it as a health food and put it in
everything from Twinkies to margarine. Hey, let's even put it in baby
food! We can even put it in protein drinks for kids, like Ovaltine.
Check your food labels and you will be surprised what else contains

Whey is a noxious, mucus-forming protein for anyone, but especially
those who are allergic to dairy as I am. Recently, my wife was trying
out new recipes. She and my two daughters are transitioning into a
vegetarian diet, so they love to try meat substitutes. I have no
cravings for meat, so I am not very fond of substitutes. However, my
wife found a soy "chicken" breast substitute that not only tasted
like chicken, but had the same texture as well. She put it in soy
"chicken" potpie and in an Italian "chicken" dish.

I will briefly detail a two-week section of my food diary--sometimes
a very handy thing--so that you can see the benefits of keeping one
for yourself. On January 2, 2001, I ate one serving of her "chicken"
potpie. The next morning, I felt congested and run down. This
prompted me to go on a juice fast for the next six days. (I fast
periodically and took this occasion to detoxify.) I drank only
distilled water and carrot-juice blends from January 3-8. I felt
absolutely wonderful and full of energy during that time.

I ate 100 percent raw food on January 9. The kids loved the potpie so
much; my wife fixed it again on January 10. I only had a small
portion with my salad. The next morning I was congested again with a
sinus headache. I continued to eat 90 to 100 percent raw foods each
day, but I continued to feel worse. On January 12, my wife fixed the
Italian "chicken" dish and I ate a very small portion. Saturday
morning, January 13, I woke up feeling like my head would split open.
I was completely congested, dizzy, and weak.

I went over in my mind what I had eaten every time I had begun to
feel congested and ruled out one food after another. I was beginning
to think I had found another food allergy. Finally, I dug in the
garbage can and found the box for this soy "chicken." The first
ingredient was, of course, soy. The second ingredient was--you
guessed it--whey! I couldn't believe my wife had missed that! She
knew I was allergic to dairy products. I became angry because I had
not checked the ingredients the first time she had fixed the potpie.
I had to relearn a valuable lesson: always know what you are putting
into your body.

Because of my mistake, I spent three days in bed, went through two
boxes of Puffs Plus, and suffered through one of the worst migraines
I had ever had. MSG will also do this to me, so that's what I kept
thinking I must have eaten without knowing it. I suggest that you
also keep a food diary. Record any negative symptoms you experience
and you may eventually find that you have been eating foods that have
been undermining your health for years.

Whether you are allergic to dairy or not, I recommend that you avoid
all dairy products, as well as meat, sugar, refined carbohydrates,
and junk food. The Diamonds aptly put it: "Whether the product is
whey or molasses or brewer's yeast or fluoride or radioactive wastes,
we must not allow big business to use our bodies to solve their toxic
waste problems" (Ibid. 329). May God bless you with the wisdom to
treat your body as His temple.

Kenneth E. Loy, Jr., CN

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Storytelling Versus Bestseller

The top 4 % of writers are the super elite, according to the 80-20 rule.

Simply put: Twenty percent of writers earn eighty percent of the successes. These are the elite writers.

Of those twenty percent, however, four percent earn 60% of the successes. These are the super elite writers, which this entry will deal with today.

To recap: the difference between the 80 percent ordinary writers and the 20 percent elite is that the ordinary writers write novels, whereas the elite writes create stories.

What is the difference between the 16 percent elite and the 4 percent super elite? The answer is obvious and simple:

The sixteen percent create STORIES. The four percent create BEST SELLERS.

The intention of this entry is to explore the difference between a best seller and a story. I will add more later on. But for now I am posting this to draw the crucial difference immediately.

Storytelling Versus Novel Writing

Dean Koontz tells stories.
Jim Crace writes novels.

Storytellers win readers.
Novelists win prizes.

Charles Dickens told stories.
Leo Tolstoy wrote novels*.
* Exceptions are some of ol' Peaceful Leo's short stories, such as which are pure storytelling in a grand manner.

Storytellers get paid.
Novel writers get recognized.

Storytellers get buzz.
Novel writers get trendy.

Storytellers are simple people who want to relate to readers.
Novel writers are complex people who want to -ize (**) to an audience.
** - Theor-ize, moral-ize, recogn-ize, dev-ize, dramat-ize, and so on.

Storytellers envisage, feel, and evoke.
Novelists imagine, hear, and invoke.

Great storytellers are forgotten and their stories last forever.
Great novelists are remembered ("canon-ized") and their stories are forgotten.

Storytellers get fan mail, fan sites, fan fiction.
Novelists get criticism, literary or otherwise.

Storyteller's work is made into movies.
Novelist's work is made into remainder pulp.

So have I made the distinction between story and novel clear enough? Thanks for your feedback and emails.

The 80-20 rule applies here again. I have said that in that elite 20% of writers who earn 80% of the income, there is a super elite subject to the 80-20 law: the four percent. The next entry will concern their work exclusively.

Interview with an ebay master, and my notes on his secrets

I chatted tonight with a guy earning an income from ebay and asked his secrets. It is actually very simple.

Here is what I have learnt:

- There are no secrets except that you must learn and grow as you go along.
- Buy things at the last minute, but decide on the price you're willing to pay beforehand.
- Measure reasonable price ranges by watching other items exactly this yours past sale.
- Ripoff merchants are exposed by feedback, positive negative or neutral.
- Go to garage sales and pick up stuff for a dollar and resell and dozens of time the price.
- Long hard experience is the only way to be able to do that reliably.
- Watch emotions and don't become excited or overspend.
- Specialization and experience are key to sales.
- In general antiques sell for roughly a third of the price they do in antique stores.
- Christmas decorations, especially old types, are valuable.
- Paypal is mostly for international payment; the commonest are direct deposits in sellers' accounts.
- Start small and build up.
- You always regret overspending, and you can only seldom cancel a bid, which is a binding contract.

So tonight I signed up on ebay. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

The master elite of late twentieth century novelists

I've been looking at the number one New York Times bestselling novels for the last century.

I started downloading the gutenberg texts of the early century. Then tiring of that I limited it to the number one novels of the year for the 1920s. Finally, I limited my search to the immediately recognizable last thirty years. And at that stage of my search I made an interesting discovery:

If you were to read five authors only, you would have most of the bestselling New York times novelists of the past thirty years. They are the twenty percent of twenty percent of twenty percent of the elite. The 20-80 rule - the rule that 80 percent of the rewards goes to 20 percent of the competitors - applies three time over to these authors.

So these five are part of the 20% elite of writers who earn an income from their work.

And these five are part of the 4% super elite who earn a decent residual income from their work.

On top of that these five men and women are among the handful of writers in the 1% master elite of the field. Their names are household brands which have the power to earn just by their association with a project.

They are:
1. Stephen King.
2. John Grisham.
3. Danielle Steele.
4. Tom Clancy.
5. Michael Crichton.

It is helpful in understanding why these writers are so pre-eminent by distinguishing between storytelling and writing, and between selling and writing. Because there writers are storytellers and bestsellers first and foremost, the next entry will address these distinctions. I have found these issues are almost never explored by writers in public for some reason.

Friday, November 04, 2005

What Books Are Found on A Multi Millionaires' Bookshelf?

ALL FIVE of Robert Kiyosaki's books.
The Way Forward, by Bill Gates.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace Wattles.

It is remarkable that these everyday and freely available books should be on his shelf in his office. A friend who works for him told me this.

Notes on my first reading of Plato's Republic:


I'm half way through Plato's Republic, and frankly I find it about as nonsensical as any utopia. The speculations may be reasonable taken one at a time but when piled up in a giant vision of the perfect state of politics they become absurd. Plato asks us to - what? Accept? Understand?

I wonder if Socrates is presenting an extreme version of justice in order to simply stimulate enquiry on multiple points?

The best way I can take this dialog is as pure fun...I can't account for its bizarre silliness otherwise. When Socrates suggests tricking a population into a eugenics program I am a little disconcerted. But when he suggests a totalitarian state - then I am positively turned off.

Later still...
THE THREE WAVES: treating women the same as men; eugenics; and putting the state into practice. Here is Socrates on putting the ideal into practice:

"Then what we're looking for is an ideal pattern [paradeigma]. Just as a painter might portray the perfect man, we don't say that he is a poor painter if that man cannot be found. We've been painting a word-picture of an ideal state. Is our portrait any the worse if that state can't be found?"

"I can accept that."

"Now, I happen to think that there is one single change that needs to be made to a State for our ideal to be realised."


"Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those who pursue one to the exclusion of the other are made to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, nor humanity itself I believe. Only then will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day."

So it's possible to read The Republic as a stream of questions: What is justice? What is a just state? What is the source of a just state? (A philosopher king.) Finally this leads us to ask Socrates: Well, what is a philosopher then?

Later again:
The realm of metaphysics is addressed elsewhere in Plato's work. I'm sure this is just a brief representation of his ideas. It is as if Republic is the keystone but, without the other dialogues to support it, it remains just an oddly shaped stone. Here are the highlights for me of his metaphysics:

TAKING WHOLE: The principle of holism is stated as clearly as it ever will be here, right at the start of things: Socrates said: "Really Glaucon!" I said, "Whenever you take a fancy to a pretty boy you call a small nose charming and a big one noble, a dark complexion manly and a fair one divine. You always manage to find beauty in the whole."

METAPHYSICS: Socrates makes the distinction between essence and substance, between how things are and how things seem, which is the root of metaphysic (and indeed of modern science in the forms of quantum theory and evolution wherein appearence and fact are often at odds).

INSPIRATIONAL: Socrates philosopher - transparent his own beloved self - is presented with paradoxical subtlety here by Plato. Because Socrates is talking theoretically he may describe himself fully. But because he is so evidently aligned with the absolute good that a philosopher king embodies his words at this place have the resonant quality of spiritual revelation. They are strikingly profound and universal here.

THE SHIP NAVIGATOR. Here is the root of cybernetics, of helmsmanship, and of the systems theory view of the world. But what Socrates says next is even more sophisticated -

AGAINST THE SOPHISTS. Training in mind tricks of the sophists doesn't corrupt the young, what corrupts the young is public opinion. The conditions a philosopher needs to flourish are "no publicity" and "no politics".

The next question, then, is: What is good?

Socrates answer: the good is like the sun, by which all good may be seen.

THE DWELLERS IN THE CAVE: AHA! the context of this image is within the dialect and analogical thinking inspired by the previous notions. So the remarkable experience of reading this image IN CONTEXT is that one experiences it at the same time as one experiences Socrates' character and Plato's craftsmanship. The complex of imagery is illuminating, striking, resonant, and profound. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how powerful reading this for the first time in context of the entire dialogue is.

EDUCATION AND CURRICULUM: I find myself disappointed by Socrate's curriculum. Perhaps because it doesn't seem to have been implemented in history before. I shall have to learn more about it!

DEMOCRACY, TIMOCRACY, OLIGARCHY, AND TYRANNY: Where does Socrates get these views from? I mean, what is his experience and credentials in expressing these remarkable views on the faults of other systems than his? In other words, where does he get off?

Finally, later...
I don't like the second ending much. The original ending is subtle and precisely placed at the point where the reader is finished best. The arc of illumination climbs to the notion of the philosopher king, then climaxes and relaxes in the first ending, not the second.

The second is like the addition of a bit of pompous philosophizing to back up religion. Which is why I don't like it. It's dull and it drags on .

The first ending is best: "Perhaps," says Socrates "this perfect world already exists in some otherworld of the mind. Maybe it is already now there, so that any man with a heart fit for justice can become one of its citizens."

This is the tone of great dreams and great vision which ends the Republic properly, on a note of lighthearted inspiration as it began.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A review of Einstein's "Relativity"

This book, so careful in its proofs, seems inaccessible due half to the revolutionary nature of the insights and half to the manner it is presented in.

It explains simply enough that gravity is not a force (as Newton had supposed), but merely a set of conditions that vary with your point of view. The key to point of view - as Tim Leary pointed out in his early work on "social phsyics" - is how fast one goes.

It speculates on the paradox that the universe can be finite but also without a practical boundary or physical end-point.

Most grandly, it predicts how motion works in the universe on the largest scales. This is backed up by the red shift of the sun, discrepancies in the orbit of Mercury, and an experiment from earth in 1819 which established his reputation with exact and prophetic matches.

I appreciate how carefully he reaches beyond non-Euclidean geometry. I like the care he takes to back up his claims too. But what I do not like much is the analogy of the man in the box being hauled upward by a rope. This is supposed to illustrate the relative nature of gravity: for the man, gravity exists while he moved up in the box; and for an observer it is a different gravity effected by different conditions. Are you confused yet? I certainly was, and perhaps we can be glad Herr Einstein is not here to explain it with an even less accessible analogy!

Review of Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"

"Can Machines Think?" is the question Turing answers in a unique and modern way in his famous book, which began modern IT. It is comparable to Ray Kurtzweil's "The Age of Spiritual Machines" in our time.

It reads so quaintly! Here is a man accustomed to enunciating his ideas to uncomprehending people, people convinced of their views, and people impressed by terms like "digital computer".

The book has three portions.

First part suggests that an experiment be created to test if machines can think - the famous Turing Test. I sense that Turing is in no doubt of the practical aspect of his work. He is remarkably free of dogma, metaphysic and cant of any kind - in this man there is only CAN DO, and it is a quality I find very attractive in him.

The Turing Test is simply "I can't believe it's not butter!" applied intelligence. One listens to an Artificial Intelligence and exclaims in camp mock-50s astonishment "I can't believe it's not intelligent!"

The second part is basically a sales pitch for a beastie known as a "Digital Computer". I found it dull.

The third part is objections to Artificial Intelligence. These are variously cute, quaint, funny, and confrontingly practical. And it is the final quality I want to discuss.

How practical this Turing guy was! Basically he was saying that if it sounds intelligent and acts intelligent, then it IS intelligent. In the light of such cold confidence any doubts about the source of subjective awareness of the presence of another person fade away and one is left with a somewhat cold and mechanistic view of the human situation.

My sense is that we will have to wait for our first AI philosophers to ponder these questions with us. David Chamler's work on consciousness studies is also highly relevant now, bridging as none other does the gap between metaphysic and neurological and information theory which underlies the field which Turing began. I will read and review David Chalmer's work sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Not in the Iraq new: US torture of an Australian and Al-Quaeda's occuption of Al-Qaim.

Looks like the Terror Hysteria Wheel of Fortune is spinning again. Australia's PM has conveniently announced a real but nameless terror threat at the same time as his anti-terror legislation goes before the Senate. At the same time, allegations that the Adelaide-born David Hicks who trained with Al-Quaeda was sexually abused while in American detention are glossed over by the mainsteam media.

Of course terror suspects are tortured! But how is that moral when it becomes torment and abuse? The West needs to be frank about the need for torture to gain information that may save lives, but torture for its own sake is plain evil.

The Western media continues to present a nice face to things in Iraq. And indeed things are relatively nice it seem. I have spoken to people related to security firms who insist that Iraq is safe but for the Sunni area around Bagdhad, which will remain unsafe in the forseeable future.

But what are we to make of this story in Russia's Pravda newspaper:

Al-Quaida declares the formation of the Islamic Republic of Qaim," says the headline. And the quote: "Last weekend terrorists under the leader of Iraqi cell of al-Quaida, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entered the city [of Al-Qaim]. They declared it the Islamic Republic, hoisting the flag of their organization, which is a sun on the black field.

"Public executions of policemen, local authorities and everyone who is suspected of collaboration with occupation forces began in the city. Militants replaced the existing court with Shariat's law and declared the formation of the Islamic Republic. "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim", the poster at the city entry reads. The majority of the militants are mercenaries from various Moslem countries, although some of them are Iraqis. They have the whole city under their control. They patrol it and build barricades.

"It is interesting to note that the information about the city's occupation appeared in media only two days after it had begun. All this time American troops were preparing for the operation. US Air Force planes bombed two bridges at the Euphrates River near the Syrian border. The main goal of the Americans is to prevent al-Quaida militants from occupying other cities. The operation is carried out in Karbilah that is considered the staging point for militants' intrusion into Iraq. All the efforts are hurled into preventing militants from escaping al-Qaima."

Effing Change

I thought instead of the usual lucid and optimistic articles that I would do something a little more bleak:

My kitchen and lounge and office are a mess! My work is going so slowly, if at all! I feel blue most of the time! ...And that's just this week.

It's Thursday now. I'm not enjoying the week.

You know what I want to do? Gather up my life into a gigantic INBOX and begin sorting it out into nice tidy categories. The biggest category will perhaps be the garbage, because at present I feel cluttered and obscured by thoughts that are another kind of clutter. It is frustrating. It makes me feel blue. It is time for a effing change I think!

I have even been haunted by cluttered dreams. Last night I wandered a fairy mansion with many many rooms - the dream was like the movie "Spirited Away". I asked to go to the toilet and the madame led me out into the wilderness miles and miles with a skipping shadow of a child. We went round a bend and came upon a simple village nestled in the hillside, calm and still in the early dawn. I woke.

I have been in somewhat less than perfect health this week. It is as if my body has decided it is time for a healthier diet and demanded it by expelling toxins from skin, nose and ears. My ear is still completely blocked a week later. My skin feels like rubber. And I have messy and embarassing fits of sneezing several times a day.

The main condition is the increased exercise, of course. My muscles tell me not that I have done good work (although I have) the previous day. Rather - by their stiffness and soreness when I wake - my muscles tell me that they need more water to cleanse themselves faster.

I intend to get some cardboard boxes as inboxes today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Feeling Blue and the BROH Trick

I've been feeling blue the last two days.

The BROH Trick is something I stumbled upon which is an interesting healing trick for depression and dysthymia.

"By all means stay under the duvet, study the familiar imperfections on the ceiling, and watch the thoughts, complete with renewed floods of tears (all part of the BROH). As soon as you realise you can watch them, you can understand that they're not you. They're just long-established patterns. See them as patterns, and hey presto, you've detached your self-image from them. Having detached, you are completely free to ignore them - they literally mean nothing."

Brilliant stuff...bless the writer, Vivien J. H. Mitchell!

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People used to explore the dimensions of reality by taking LSD to make the world look weird.
Now the world is weird and they take Prozac to make it look normal.

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