lies on the internet

On mercenaries

it's a fairly common idea in the cyberpunk school of fiction for employers, particularly of mercenaries but of all corporate security forces really, to provide their employees with things like steroids and combat-specific drugs. There're a lot of rumours coming out of Iraq suggesting that this is already happening. Blackwater, one of the biggest names in what are euphemistically known as "private military contractors", have come under fire (if you'll pardon the pun) for the seemingly over-aggressive and irrational actions of their field security forces.

Now it's not that I'm surprised as such, or even particularly shocked. It was really just a matter of time before something like this came to light. Frankly I'm slightly stunned that a scandal like this hasn't happened sooner.

See, the fun thing about supplying free drugs to your ground forces is that they're addictive and they generally make it impossible to get a job anywhere else. A one hundred percent loyalty rate among your employees is really nothing to be sneezed at. As long as you're smart enough to maintain that ever-present ideal - plausible deniability - then any trouble that your employees get into is theirs and theirs alone.

Alternatively you can follow the Blackwater/Halliburton model and carefully maneuver your political resources into a position where you can basically operate outside the law. Seriously, look it up. They're not held accountable under US law or Iraqi law. these guys can do anything they want and nobody can do anything to them. Oh sure, they're monitored by the US state department (which is interesting in and of itself in a purely nominative way, in that the State dept. is running an overseas operation) but so far there has really been little to no repercussions.

The next step is to implant your employees with what we cyberpunk buffs refer to as "loyalty devices". These clever little things range from the subtle (like small sacs of neurotoxin implanted in your pulmonary artery set to dissolve without the presence of a certain chemical which the company has placed in the coffee) to the blatantly obvious (like a small explosive charge behind the cerebral cortex set off remotely in the event of termination of your contract. All done, of course, in the name of protecting our investment in training, outfitting and cyber-enhancing the employee. Plus, if you take the subtle option and don't tell them, then not only are you able to stop them from working for your competitors, but you also avoid those nasty allegations of coercion and murder.

It'll happen, you mark my words. There'll be a bit of an outcry, a certain amount of hand-wringing, some token lawsuits and sacrificial scapegoats, and then it'll just be business as usual.

Or I could be wrong. Let's hope so.

The Karl Tells You What To Think Variety Hour

You know what needs to bloody well stop? No, of course you don't; if you did, you wouldn't be coming to me each week. That's why I'm here, after all, to say the things that others find too irrelevant or pointless.

Anyway, discussion of me aside - riveting though it is - what needs to stop is this endless limp-wristed wishy-washy acceptance of everybody's views, no matter how stupid, ignorant or ill-advised. "Well, I think" is not a bloody argument. Nobody cares what you think, shagnasty. What do you know?

It seems to be that wherever I turn on the internet I see an argument taking place with uneducated mono-neuronic slope-foreheaded mongoloids commenting on an article about, oh, say, gambling addiction with statements like "Well, I think addiction is a disease and..."

That's great. You think that. Science and I think you should shut the hell up until you can prove it. It's in the same vein as the old "I think crystals have healing powers" or "I think that astrology can be useful in our everyday lives" or "I think that UFOs are real".

The subtext to all of these is "this is my deeply-held belief so you're not allowed to argue or provide counter-evidence, you just have to accept my point of view as valid because otherwise you're oppressing me and being me-ist.1" This... opinion? Assumption? I'm not sure what you'd call it, aside from subtext, and I've said that already. Whatever it is, this didn't come out of nowhere. It stems from the old political correctness craze of the 80s/90s, where we couldn't bloody well fart for fear of offending the rectally challenged or methane-enhanced. There's still the occasional holdover from that global mental pogrom, and this is one. It needs to bloody well stop. Some ideas are just stupid and the people that hold them are wrong, either by choosing to hold those beliefs through all evidence to the contrary or because they don't know any better. The second can be helped, the first shot, in the back of the head, in front of a hole in the ground. China-style.

I've bloody had it. I think it was when I was flipping through a few old Nova magazine articles about "alien abduction" stories that I finally had enough. Of the two I read, one was clearly just bollocks and the other one had massively creepy overtones of repressed memory. It read like someone making up a story to explain how their eight-year-old son got those bruises and pooped blood and keeps crying at night when they know full bloody well what was going on.

Look, it comes down to this. I know it's a terribly unfashionable idea and one I'm going to have great, ill-concealed joy at espousing at university once I start attending later this year, but maybe - just maybe - what we really need now is a little less fucking tolerance. A little more rubbishing of ideas that deserve to be rubbished.

Just a thought.

1: I define "me-ism" as the innate knee-jerk assumption that when someone disagrees with you they must have some prejudice against you or the group of people with whom you agree, as opposed to the possibility that they're not a frothing madman and thus quite justifiably think that you're wrong, you screaming nutter.

Late post, and the reason why.

(Author's note: returning to the subject of license plates, the other day I was overtaken by a car with plates that said "DA MOOCHA". I was momentarily confused until I noticed that it was a cooper Mini. Then I almost crashed from laughing. Also, apologies for the lateness of this piece; a combination of a trip to the country, allergies, writer's block and a malfunctioning router have held this up.)

Before I left for the country, I had about three separate ideas for excellent columns. Unfortunately, I trusted my normally-excellent memory, and now can't think of what any of them were. I think it might be a little egotistical to call this writer's block, given that I am by extension saying that my barely-coherent scribbles merit me the epithet "writer". Nonetheless, I've spent four days now staring at a blank screen with a gradually mounting level of fury at the perfect levels of absolutely nothing that I could think of to write.

As a result, this blessay is a little late and, predictably, it's going to be about having nothing to write.

See, the thing about my writing is that, for the most part, it's barely-edited stream-of-consciousness stuff. I sit down at the computer, stare at the screen for a minute, a topic pops into my head and I bash away at the keyboard for an hour or so and when I'm done, I have a blessay. Occasionally I re-read it, delete half of it and completely change the direction, but for the most part, that's the creative process. I have been told that a somewhat more conventional way of writing would be to actually plan out my blessays; to draw up some ideas, perhaps a flowchart, working out my introduction, arguments and conclusion prior to setting them down in text form. This of course misses the single problem, namely that these rambling blissertations don't, in my mind, actually have a coherent argument - at least, not until I've written them. This is a journey of discovery for me as much as for you, dear reader, as we chart the workings of my brain.

It probably doesn't help that I have LimerickDB open in a browser window behind the open document that I'm trying to create, distracting me with the mirth contained therein. For instance:

There is a young poet called Herman
Whose lim'ricks aren't great, but he's learnin'
But he often offends
'cause he constantly ends
Alle sein Limericks auf Deutsch.

I mentioned to sassamifrass that I was having problems recalling what the great ideas I'd come up with for a blessay were, and that I'd been banging my head against a metaphorical brick wall for hours, leaving quite the metaphorical bruise on my metaphorical head. She suggested I write an entire post about how awesome she is. I considered it, but I think I'll keep that idea on the back burner for now, given that I'm not convinced that there's quite the market for that idea that she thinks there is. Don't get me wrong, she is a lovely young lady and I am very, very fond of her, but those that know her already know this and those that don't know her could probably do without me rubbing it in.

This whole semi-structured creative writing thing that I'm doing puts me in mind of my late teens, when I fancied myself as a bit of a short story writer. I'd written a bunch of short pieces, some of which, I'll grant, had the seed of a good idea; the problem was that my writing was absolute shit. Largely because of my rather terrible habit of starting with an opening sentence, staring at it for a bit, then putting fingers to keyboard and taking them off at what seemed an appropriate moment.

Typically, kegzilla just wandered into our computer room and had a brief chat with me, in the course of which he suggested a topic for a blessay that I can get quite fired-up about, thus bringing the funny. I am however loath to delete this little rambling bliscourse, since I've quite enjoyed writing it - which is, after all, the point.

Well, I think that I have sufficiently exhausted this topic and your patience, so I shall leave it there. Writer's block - ain't it a bitch?

A short notice

Might be a slight delay on this week's blessay, as I am shooting off to the country for the weekend. I have a couple of ideas I'm swilling around in my brain and will hopefully be able to turn one of them into a column at 7am on saturday morning when I'm the only person awake and the dog is sleeping on my shoes.

Fear of the dark.

As some of you know, I'm working in the telecommunications field for a fairly large telco. Part of my job is that I am basically always on call. There are eleven techs in my team and so if anything in the city stops working after hours, one of us has to go and fix it. As a result, usually once a fortnight I am working very late at night or early in the morning, when all right-minded people are abed and the only ones out and about are the usual nighttime misfits - police, garbage men, the homeless, the special kind of 3am drunks you get on a thursday morning, shift workers and the like. So, especially in the Perth CBD, it can be a little eerie; this normally-crowded part of the city, ordinarily full of people and activity, completely empty. Lit only by the sodium glare of the streetlights, leaving everything a washed-out shade of orange, the occasional scrap of rubbish blowing down the street.

23:30 at Wellington street exchange (the central hub for all of WA, basically) is an interesting time. I was in there on Monday night dropping off some test gear on my way home from a late-night fault and was successfully wierded out by, I don't know, something in the feel of the place. A certain je ne sais quoi. There's just something about a heavily-trafficked area that doesn't feel right when it's empty, like you're intruding. Walking through the exchange building and its attached carpark, seeing all the lights off in the high-rise apartment building next door, seeing the ordinarily packed parking lot behind the office building on the other side completely empty except for a newspaper blowing back and forth in the wind. The sound of the chainlink fence behind the dumpsters jingling faintly in the breeze. My footsteps echoing back at me as I walked through the foyer, past the empty security desk, to the after hours stairs. I got a massive fright that night, because as I was walking past a conference room I saw someone watching me from the room out of the corner of my eye. It took me a moment to calm down and realise that it was an advertising poster that someone had stuck to the window, at just the right height to make it look like someone was standing there, watching. I must have walked past that poster a hundred times, but I was just nervous enough at being in this empty, heavy place that it really got to me.

I had a similar sort of feeling the first time I encountered the telephone exchange in Albany. Years ago, before a lot of the miniaturisation of modern technology, the exchange equipment took up much more space than it does now. Rooms full of switching gear, electro-mechanical levers and solenoids clicking back and forth, needing constant maintenance and supervision. Now, equipment that would previously have taken up nine hundred square metres fits into a row of cabinets about twenty metres long and one wide. So there are huge, empty, echoing rooms in most of the old exchanges, with little notes scribbled on the walls from technicians of ages past. Walking into the Albany exchange for the first time back in 2005 I was struck by a feeling of, I suppose, loneliness. Like the building was lonely. Years ago there was about twenty technicians, not to mention dispatchers and support staff, working out of that building; now there's maybe two or three people in there at any given time. Here and there are old personal touches from the former occupants; photos from the seventies, handwritten notes, work instructions in that classic old typewriter font, which somehow added up to give the place a certain melancholy.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job. The chance to go into places where other people don't, to see how it all fits together behind the scenes is totally awesome. Encountering these odd artefacts of the past is just an added bonus, really, like crawling through the cable runs at Pier street exchange, where there's maybe a metre clearance between the floor and ceiling and seeing all the graffiti and notes and little drawings from those who've been there before me. Sometimes it just gets a little off-putting, like when I'm working in one of the larger exchanges in the middle of the night, the equipment clicking and ticking quietly away to itself, the area beyond my small pool of light pitch-black except for the red and green LEDs on the exchange hardware, and I'm sure I just heard something moving around out there where I can't see but I know I'm imagining it, nobody else is here, I'd have heard them before, but just the same I get up and turn all the lights on because it's really creeping me out. That old reptilian-brain fear of the dark really kicks in, sometimes.

I think I need to cut back on the scary movies.

License plates are just as bad.

[Addendum to previous postage: After my blessay about bumper stickers, I was driving up the Tonkin Highway and was overtaken by a car with a sticker saying "My other ride is yo mama". That man gets massive points. I love a yo mama joke.]

Given the fantastic response to my last article (four comments! Woooooooooooooooo!) I thought I would follow up with an investigation into my hatred of another, similar topic - license plates. Let it never be said that I don't pander to my audience. I have largely the same problems with license plates as I do with bumper stickers, but with several... addendums? addenda? Extra bits. Firstly, that unlike the bumper sticker, which costs bugger-all, vanity plates cost upwards of two hundred dollars. Speccy ones can be three or four. That's an awful lot of scratch to be laying out on something so retarded.

I mean, sure, there are some good ones out there; there's someone driving around with the rego "LYSDEXIC" which is wicked. I've seen another that said "NCC-1701" and that's cool, in a nerd kind of way. There are some subtle ones too; the other day I saw "II-688". That seems like nothing, unless you know that the Los Angeles class attack submarine is colloquially referred to as the 688 class, and II indicates a captain's bars. Just saying.

Oh, or the one kegzilla and I saw at the local HJs in Armadale. It was a small hatchback and the license plate said "LAS VEGAS". Pretty dumb, right? Nothing funny about that. Until you notice, below and to the left of the plate, the brand of car.

It was a Holden Viva.

The ones that most shit me, on the other hand, are those really shit plates where the owner of the car has shelled out good money to tell you exactly what kind of car he drives. Case in point would be the BMW Z3 roadster I saw the other day; the plate said, funnily enough, "BMW Z3". Or the sports Falcon I've seen around with "XR8 GT" on the plate.



Here I thought the guy was driving a Holden Barina, turns out it was an XR8 GT. Wow. Good thing he cleared that up by having it written on the license plate since it's NOT FUCKING WRITTEN ON THE BOOT OF THE GOD DAMN CAR NOT TWENTY CENTIMETRES ABOVE THE FUCKING PLATE. Thank you SO much for clearing that up for me. AND that cantering fagpony shelled out hundreds of dollars for that privilege.

The other awful ones are where they try to tell you how awesome their car is. "XR82NV". "AWSUMXR". "BOW DOWN". (I'm not joking about that one, it was on a shitbox old gemini driven by a massive cocksmoker who smelled like death in a hot dog bun and ate like a council woodchipper. I hated that fucker.)

Or the people who declare ownership of their car. "JANS CAR". "MY FIESTA". "MYNARO"... OK, that one's not so bad, since it was a Holden Monaro, and, see, he's replaced the o with a y so it indicates that he, in fact, owns the car. Not you. It's not for you. It's awful nice of those people to indicate that they are the ones to whom the car belongs, not anybody else. It saves on confusion when I'm in a parking lot.

"Hmm, let's see, where is my car. White Lancer, white Lancer. Ah, there's a Commodore over there, I wonder if that's actually my car. Oh, wait, the plate says 'MY SS GT'. Can't be mine, someone else clearly owns it."

That said, on reflection, that is kind of confusing, because if I'm reading out the plate then I'm going to say "my ss gt" and that's implying that I do, in fact, own it. Hmmm.

All that said, for quite a while, before donating my old red rustbucket falcon to FESA I toyed with the idea of getting custom plates for it. Possibly, since I'm the kind of rampant toolbox who names his cars, a set with his name (HK-47, named after an assassin droid from Star Wars). Or I thought I might make a joke on the whole brand-of-my-car plates and get a set that said "911 GT". Turns out that's already been done; I saw an old corolla the other day with plates that said "MASERATI".


Finally, I wish to bring to your attention a worrying trend; that of the gradual encroachment of retarded internet habits to license plates. The insertion of 1337-5P34K is bad enough (JAMI33 L33, I'm looking at you, not to mention M0N4R0), given that not only does it make me more stupid through having simply looked at it but it also means that some other unoriginal cockslave had the idea for a vanity plate with your FUCKING name on it before you. Worse, however, is this trend I've been seeing on plates, mainly those belonging to total ricers. Now and then you'll see people with internet handles, commonly on LJ, that go something like xXhate_you_dadXx. The Xs on each end make it, fuck, I don't know, edgy or some other colossal bullshit. Well, I've seen them on license plates now. "X WEAPON X", stay behind after class.

Wankers, the lot of them. Basically, there are good plates out there, but there are a lot of shit ones. Funnily enough, a lot of the shit ones are duplicated, meaning that the owners have to resort to ever-more-complicated methods of ensuring the plates are unique, whereas the clever plates are usually funny, subtle and singular. I have nothing against vanity plates as a general idea, but c'mon, people. Make them good. Don't waste your money.
party at god's house

Bitches, bogans and bumper stickers.

When did it become acceptable, if not desirable, to be illiterate and unpleasant? I ask this pointless, self-serving and clearly rhetorical question particularly where bumper stickers are concerned. Sure, they've always been a lowest-common-denominator method of finding out the irrelevant and ill-judged opinions of morons that you don't care about, but lately they've just gotten irritating.1 Particularly the "bitch" subgenre.

You know the ones; we've all seen them. Predominantly the province of girls/young women of the 18-25 demographic, but occasionally sported by older women who should know better. Things like "0 to bitch in six seconds" or "51% sweetheart, 49% bitch, DON'T PUSH IT"2 or, quite simply, "Miss Bitchy". In fact, the Miss Bitchy one is an odd little sticker, given that it initially was a joke sticker to be put on Mitsubishis, due to the obvious, if crude, pun. Since the first sighting of that sticker a few years ago I'm now seeing it on Kias, Fords, Toyotas... the list goes on.

The part that baffles me is that you've got these young ladies in their four-cylinder pocket rockets with stickers all over them proclaiming the general unpleasantness of the woman driving. Why would you be that proud of being a bitch? What is it about being unpleasant, self-centred, short-tempered and generally mean? Why do they feel that these characteristics are worth advertising to the outside world?

Maybe I'm not getting something. Was there a memo that everyone got but I missed out on?

Then there are the usual misspellings and moronic statements to contend with. "Drive it like you stole it", for example. This makes no sense whatsoever. If I stole a car, not that I'm admitting to anything, I'd drive it very carefully. I'd stay below the speed limit, obey all the road rules and generally not draw attention to myself. The last thing I'd do would be thrash it through the suburban street out the front of my house at two in the FUCKING morning when I'm trying to FUCKING sleep and do a massive burnout all the length of my FUCKING road.

There's one car in particular I used to see a lot when I was working early mornings in Ardross; a small hatchback, I think an early nineties pulsar, with all the usual crap hanging off it. Crappy aftermarket spoiler on the roof, mag wheels and a big exhaust leaving a soot mark all over the rear bumper. It had half the rear window taken up by the following pronouncement, reproduced here with the syntactical, grammatical and punctuational problems preserved for posterity:


I think there was an extra comma in there as well, somewhere, but I hesitate to try any further combinations, lest I unlock some kind of quantum retard singularity and destroy the planet. There are levels of complete galah in there that even I hesitate to plumb. For starters, that person really needs to be arrested and tried for crimes against the english language. The misplaced apostrophe in "your'e" always makes me faintly sad; it's like they tried, they really tried, but they just don't quite get how it works. It's like the developmentally challenged kid up the back of the class who really does want to do well and really does try but every time he starts getting somewhere he gets confused and poops his pants and all the other kids laugh at him and he goes home and cries and tears the head off the baby rabbit his parents got him hoping that he would calm down and be less of a problem child if he had a small animal to care for and be responsible for and he loves it so much but he just gets so angry and he doesn't know how to control it or what to do and he's been in and out of mental care institutions and psychologists' offices and nobody knows what to do with him and really, he's quite bright, he could do well if he just applied himself, he has these occasional flashes that show that there is a brain behind the podgy droop-lidded exterior but it's just never in control, if only you hadn't smoked all that mary jane in the first trimester, Sharon, then maybe we'd have a star pupil instead of a problem child, oh yeah, well maybe you shouldn't have had that affair with that whore from marketing, then I wouldn't have needed to escape so badly.

There's also the point that this window decal had to be custom made. You can't get pre-made stickers that size and length; this person had to pay somebody to make the sticker to their specifications. I hope for the sake of the chil'un that the person at the sticker shop left the errors in place, not for any kind of customer-is-always-right malarkey, but because it was really funny to them to think of this slope-browed mongoloid driving around in his/her complete shitbox of a pulsar with their massive sticker and godawful taste in music, thinking to herself3 "I am the coolest of all the cool kids."

In conclusion, there are two types of people. Those who like mis-spelt, stupid, pointless bumper stickers, and those who aren't mono-neuronic subintelligent mouthbreathers.

1: or maybe I've just gotten old and irascible. Either way, I'm right. Get off my lawn.

2: In the world of bumper stickers, just like everywhere else, caps lock is cruise control for awesome.

3: I'm pretty certain it's actually a girl that owns that car, from the occasional glimpses of the driver I've gotten as they roar past me at an appreciable fraction of the local speed of light.

Heavy political comment, but not very funny.

(Author's note: I apologise for the lack of jokes in this piece, but the story in question makes me far too angry to think of anything funny. I'm working on something for next week that is hopefully more tongue-in-cheek.)

Last year a story did the rounds about a nine-year-old girl in an Aboriginal community up in Queensland that was raped by nine guys at once. There was a brief public outcry over it; you may have seen the news stories. Not terribly much heard about it on the news feeds since, and I'm saddened, but unsurprised. It seems sometimes to me that this sort of thing is, to use a term I just coined and don't particularly like, tragedy porn. It's like we have some kind of collective addiction to these horrible stories but once the juicy bit is revealed we lose interest.

That's particularly bad when there's more to the story. Case in point with this young girl; I did a little reading, turning to my favourite informant - the ABC. In a lengthy article I found off the main page, there was an interview with the child protection officer assigned to the community in question, who resigned shortly after this assault occurred. He had some rather damning things to say, largely about the self-serving bureaucracy he had to work within.

I won't waste your time by paraphrasing this article, although that is my usual lazy-man style of editorialising. Instead I'll just highlight a couple of key points.

1) That his superior in the department told him to tell the community that he was an Aboriginal, although he clearly isn't.

2) He never actually had any training before being sent out into the field.

3) That this girl, who unsurprisingly had a host of behavioural disorders associated with being abused from an early age, had contracted gonorrhea at age six. SIX.

4) When the local police gave him a written report detailing their concerns about the neglect and abuse of a young boy, he gave it to his superior who tore it up.

5) At another community, this community worker managed to lower the juvenile repeat offender rate to zero, for which he was reprimanded, because that would impact on the departments funding.

The director-general of the Queensland Department for Child Safety has said that this man's allegations are very serious and that he should take them to the Criminal Justice commission. I mention this partly so we can all have a big righteous huff about her dismissing his claims, but also just to make the point that the ABC are still referring to these as allegations. I don't know if what Mr. Green says is true, and to be honest I still have enough faith in humanity to find it hard to believe - but not impossible.

So we have institutionalised abuse within the community and a state government department more interested in securing its own funding than actually caring for the people it's meant to look after. And now that we've dropped our forks in spastic fury and roared at the bad man on the television, it's time for the sports update.
rodney main feature

Baristas are snooty.

(Author's note: In an attempt to improve my skills at short-piece writing, I'm going to try to pop out a short column roughly each week. Any comments or suggestions for improvement are welcome. This applies to all three of you likely to read said blessays.)

I must admit, in my more narcissistic moments1, to having considered the possibility of approaching a media outlet of some minor level in order to let my humble scribblings reach a wider audience. This brings to mind the amusing (well, amusing to me) mental image of a group of what certain elements of society would refer to as the "volvo-driving brie-eating latte-sipping left"2 reading the jumped-up semi-coherent words of a knuckle-dragging tradesman. My imagination has them debating whether I, a tradesman, have true intelligence, or whether I am merely parroting words I have heard my betters from the higher classes use without any true understanding of what they mean. Much like a parrot or a computer, there is an appropriate output but not necessarily any intelligence behind it.

This is of course a delicious helping of hyperbole pie, given that I'm sure that the upper classes don't view my sort of people with that kind of disdain. At least, I hope they don't. That said, the last time I was in the expensive part of Claremont it was a bit... uncomfortable. I'd gone there to pick up my better half from a medical appointment, and we decided to stop at one of the coffee shops in the area. I was still in my work uniform, an outfit that involves a high-vis yellow shirt and the classic blue work pants, and I felt very out of place, surrounded3 as I was by young professionals - sharp toothed, beady eyed little plutocrats-in-training with their eyes on the main chance, fingers on the pulse, on board for the big score and all that sort of thing.

There was... I can only describe it as sniffiness in my direction. Even the wait staff seemed somewhat reluctant to serve me. Nothing obvious or blatant, I wasn't asked to sit up the back of the coffee shop out of sight, but there was just an aura of discomfort at my presence. At least, it felt that way to me. I'm certain I caught a disapproving look or two from other patrons. I might just be oversensitive; this could be all in my head. But I'm fairly sure that it isn't. It’s insulting, too, to realise that people think of you as less good than they are on the sole grounds that you don’t wear a suit to work and do most of your daily job outside. Like that somehow makes them better than me; I, who spend each day making sure they have stable, reliable lines of communication to do their jobs am less vital, less socially acceptable than they are with their expensive suit and mobile phone with its wanky little Bluetooth earpiece and their fucking retarded pointy-toed shoes.

Christ but I hate those shoes.

The weirdest thing is the slight down-the-nose I got from the girl behind the counter. I’m getting this muted death stare, like I’ve walked into her shop covered to the knees in mud, three teeth in my head, tattoos all over me and am openly ogling her breasts while smoking. Which is crap; I was neat, tidy, polite and friendly, as always. 4 It was simply that I was in a tradie’s uniform that I got this upper-middle-class disdain, and that’s completely stupid. For one thing, oooooooh, you’re a barista, you make me a cup of coffee. That is such a skilled line of work, being a part-time coffee maker, I bet that goes a long way to offset daddy and mummy paying for you to go do your degree in women’s studies and English literature. You definitely deserve to think less of me for my two years of hard slog at less than minimum wage to get my qualifications.

Look, I’m not saying that I can’t understand why they took that attitude towards me clomping into their shop in my big black boots, and I’m not saying that they should have all been instantly accepting towards me. 5 All I’m saying is that it was shit and I didn’t like being on the receiving end of collective dislike based on a surface feature one little bit.

Hmmm. Might be a lesson in there, somewhere.

1: In my even more narcissistic moments, I like to imagine that somehow my writing will be read by more than… let me check my friends list here… twenty people. Ahh. That brought me back to earth.

2: That is such a fantastic pejorative. On par with “cheese-eating surrender monkey”.

3: Well, I say surrounded, there were maybe two or three of that type there, the remainder were just bog-standard representatives of the Claremont set.

4: As friendly as always towards other people. I’m only mean to people that know me well enough to know that I don’t mean it.

5: Yes I am.
society is worse

Right then, you ignorant fucks!

Some of you may recall that, when I first started this blag, my entries were searing, frothingly angry dissertations railing against the unfairness of the modern world. As time went on, and I found myself growing older and worked my way into a more comfortable and pleasant job, my background level of white-hot fury gradually subsided.

Until yesterday, when I read about the proposed Islamic school in Camden that's attracting so much attention. Seriously, what the hell? You've got protestors outside the council building, nobody's quite sure why, the council have received some 3500 public submissions in relation to the application of which all but thirteen are opposed to it. Why, you have to ask?

Liberal MP Charlie Lynn, who was at the protest with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile, of all people - and you guys should be able to guess how I feel about that complete nut-job - has been quoted by and the ABC as saying that "This is an attempt by social engineers to inflict culture shock, if you like, on Camden," although I'm not quite clear what he's implying. He then went on to say "This is just being imposed on us with no discussion at all" and then suggested that the proposed location was completely unfit for a school.

All this news-trawling and fact searching is great, but it's not the vitriol you've come to expect, so here it is. What bloody century are we living in here? There are eight Catholic and three other Christian schools in the Camden area and nobody's protesting about them. The Malek Fahd Islamic school in Bankstown's year 12 students came ninth in the state in the HSC results, so it can't be their academic record. I challenge anybody to tell me that if this wasn't a school for terrorists and "raggers"1 then the protest would still be happening.


Fred Nile.

I thought he was dead by now. Wishful thinking, clearly.

The best part, to me, is Charlie Lynn backpedalling on his comments about the apparent "imposition" of the school by saying that the site is wrong since it is "smack on, adjacent to, a flood plain and heritage area." What is it, Charlie? Smack on or next to? And what's this "imposed" business? "Imposed on us without any discussion." That's what a planning application is for, you frothingly retarded right-wing knee-jerk fundie follower2. It's so the council can say to the local residents "Hey, folks, these Mohametan chappies want to build themselves a secular school on some of our vacant land so they can teach each other their sacred rituals of scarf-wearing and blowing things up while also learning to hate all us decent, God-fearing white folk. What do you say to that?"3 That's the bloody point!

And another thing, why are MPs weighing in on a council planning matter? Why is Kevin Rudd getting involved? It's a local council issue!

An unnamed source on the ABC says that he doesn't understand why there's so much unrest about this. He says "If somebody stood up and said, 'Look, pro-Muslims, let's go for the Muslims,' I wouldn't be entirely surprised if something on a smaller basis of like the Cronulla riots erupted." That right there tells you that this isn't about planning, it isn't about location, it isn't about some kind of "social engineering culture shock"4, it's simply about fear of those damn "raggers" (seriously, what?) having somewhere to go to school where they learn a different religion in RE class.

Iqbal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said "If the concern is about the behaviour of Muslims in Australia, then the only way to improve that behaviour is to educate the children in well-controlled environment, mainly under the auspices of various state education departments." Someone tell me what, exactly, is wrong with that? This school is no more a hardcore fundamentalist Madrassa than the Christian school down the road from my house is a Jesus Camp. For a start, they're proposing to allow non-muslim students; for two, they're allowing girls. Can't get much further removed from Sharia than that.

Lastly, the Camden Advertiser's website has a whole bunch of letters from residents in support of the school, so I guess it's possible that this is just the work of a vociferous minority. I'm still angry at them, though. Really not doing a good job of highlighting Australia's multiculturalism and tolerance of others, folks.

Lift your game.

1: I hope with all my heart that the bogan that came out with "if they try this, any ragger walking down the street is gonna be bashed in the arse by thirty aussies" was making some kind of really complicated joke at the expense of those who truly believe that sort of thing, otherwise this is just even more of an embarrassment to all thinking Australians.

2: Look, I've got nothing against Charlie Lynn. His military record is impressive and his political life seems to have nothing blame- or hate-worthy. I'm just not certain that siding with Fred Nile is such a great idea. Seems like generally you can work out which side is correct by checking what one Fred's on and going to the other.


4: For a start, shock treatment of that type as gone into in depth by Naomi Klein in her new book, Shock Doctrine would not give you three month's warning and room for approved submissions. The people are getting a chance to voice their opinions; this is therefore not any kind of true culture shock. Besides, there are already Muslim families living in the area; not many, but some.