1987 was 153 years ago

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Monday, 31 March 2014

Or at least, it felt like it on Saturday night when I subjected my partner and myself to the last 30 minutes of Dirty Dancing.

Goodness me, what a giant field of corn, stretching far beyond what the eye can see!  So cliched!  Truly awful acting deserving three sentences running with exclamation marks!

I tried watching another movie from the 80's the other day too - Local Hero.  Unfortunately, I had to turn it off after five minutes because it was just so heavily cliched and caricatured that it seemed ridiculous, like a soap opera.

I know we watched Dirty Dancing as teenagers, and I know we were aware of the corniness of it.  But still, what a difference 30 years makes.  The intervening decades have seen the field of corn transformed into 11 giant vats of high fructose corn syrup poured over things which were vaguely acceptable back in the 80's.  It has, unfortunately, began to seem quite truly like another time and place.  A more innocent time.

Saying that makes me feel creakily ancient, like I am the door of a building first built in the 1700s.  For all the distance between now and then, the 80's may as well have been located in that century:)

Patrick still looked pretty alright in that black t-shirt, though.



(Apologies to Shawn Econo, the taker of this picture and the spermer of this adorable boy, for proving my point with this picture :)
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Friday, 28 March 2014

It's funny what the future looks like right now.  It's hard to see.  It sits in obscurity.  It is being laughed and jeered at by those sitting in the seats of paradigm power. 

It's little shots of starlight shooting out of dead carcasses.  Pointing to something more beautiful, more free and way more alive than we could have imagined.  So alive that it will scare us.

It is a privilege to watch it be born.

Happy Friday, all.


What Science Can Do and What It Can't

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Erin continues to write interesting posts exploring the intersection of religious faith and science and the frustration that hangs out at that crossroads :)

She refers to adherents of creationism who are upset by the lack of coverage creationism is receiving in the currently-running-but-still-to-be-viewed-by-me Cosmos.  Neil deGrasse Tyson has responded by saying that science will give creationism equal time as long as it goes first from its pulpit.  Nice :)

Erin then goes on to quote some things Ray Comfort, Christian apologist for creationism, has said about science and the bible:

You know, the word ‘science,’ it’s kind of a magical word,” Comfort said. “‘I believe in science.’ It just means knowledge, that’s all it means. There’s different areas of science, different areas of knowledge. When you say the Bible is not a science book, you’re saying it’s not a knowledge book? It tells us how God created the Earth!

... It gives us the basis for all creation, and it passes the scientific method,” he said. “It’s observable – Genesis – and testable. Evolution is not. You can’t observe something 60 million years old, but you can observe what Genesis says.
Now, I don't post this here so we can point at Ray Comfort and laugh and say what an idiot.  I'm tired of Christians being lambasted in the science field.  In fact, I'm tired of everybody being lambasted by everybody else in every field.  Disagree with what seems so obviously ridiculous to you, but do it respectfully.  You might actually teach someone something in the process, that way.

But it definitely betrays an understanding of what science is.  Scientific knowledge is a specialised form of knowledge.  It's a small and rigorous space where many things ~ which may actually be true ~ are not gained admittance because they can't be studied in that way.  Scientific results must be testable and provable.  I think many scientists are understandably frustrated by the seeming lack of understanding of this process.

But I think the reactions of some people, Comfort included, may also be fuelled in some measure by the frustration many people feel in a culture where by dint of the place we find ourselves in history, scientific knowledge is considered the only valid form of knowledge. 

That's an insanely small turning circle with which to conduct yourself in the world.  Only choose to believe as true that which is provable in a scientific context and you could quite possible - ironically, tragically - find yourself living as a fool.

This is a blind spot of ours.  It may seem curious or even tragic to those in the future.  We are constrained, like every other people, by our time and place and brave are those people who break out of it.  Which is what scientists are meant to do but are not always able, but by dint of being of a group which operates according to certain conventions of what is and what isn't, and who are funded by those conventions.

I'm fascinated by the politics of science and by observing how those internal politics are being and will be forced to change in coming years.  The area of science that most stresses its boundaries and its internal belief systems (yes, it has them) is surely that of consciousness.  This is where the changes from discovery are going to come in future years.  I can't wait.  It will smooth out some of those narrow dualistic distinctions we are still struggling within now.

I wonder if many people rail against science not because they aren't fascinated to know how the beautiful world works, what is "out there" and to explore it, but are rather railing against that constraining consensus that scientific knowledge is the ONLY valid and allowable form of knowledge in our western society.   In that sense I'm in agreement with them.  The idea that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge is a profoundly stupid stance to take, but it's an historical backlash that continues against the destructive results of empire Christianism with its imposition and control and ideas of faith being the only valid and allowable form of knowledge.   It's just that we've gone too far the other way.

I look forward to a greater form of balance.  I think that it's going to come via our scientific discoveries of the future. I think we'll begin to have greater balance between acceptance of other forms of knowledge as valid as our western conceptions of matter continue to change - that whether observable or not, it is essentially dead.  We live in a world that is dead to us in a way that would have been bizarre and creepy to people of other ages and cultures.  Perhaps the creepiest thing for them, if they could have crept inside our cultural heads, would be the chilling realisation that it would be so very difficult for us to see that the potential destruction of our world would be birthed from the same thinking that birthed our great understanding and great knowledge.  Our great scientific achievements have stunted us in other ways.  We are Icarus, with the destruction of the earth the rotting core of the fruit of our scientific success. 

This is a hard thing to understand and to take in a culture that does not understand very well the rhythms of life, the yin and the yang, the limits.  I mean, we don't even readily accept death in our culture so what chance do we have!  We shut it away in nursing homes.  We are the perfect people to fail to understand decline and decay and therefore to understand the renewal that comes after the decline and the decay.   We live, and yet we still do not very easily understand how life~death~life works.  But I think we are beginning to.  I see green shoots.

Maybe as this bigger, more beautiful and expansive view of the world comes into focus, people like Ray Comfort will disappear.  We will not need to slice ourselves in two so as to preserve our myths in wholeness.  I look forward to that sort of renewal.

Orange, the Dutch, Toilets and Possums

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

If it was on today, I would be ready to go here without needing to get changed.

See?

Most likely a hideously garish combination of a darker orange top on top of a lighter orange skirt, my outfit is finished off with a pair of cruddy old beige ugg boots.  I just simply cannot get enough of orange today.

Today is the first break I've had for four weeks from taking antifungals.  The latest effort to bugger off the candida.  I don't think I've quite finished with it yet but I am happy for the break because it's been making me grossly irritable, anxious and life-tired. Thank goodness for molybdenum, that's all I can say.

For some reason, feeling little lighter in my being translates into the necessity for much orangeness ... putting me in solidarity with the Dutch.

Orange is a maligned colour.  I love orange.  Today, I am the ambassador for orange.

And now I feel like some poffertjes.  Which I've never had but see the sign for them regularly at the Ferntree Gully Market.  Only I can't have them, because they're wheat, and my body has told me incessantly and regularly that it really does better without wheat, thanks very much, at least in the meantime.

~

I cleaned up the toilet rolls that were piled up next to the toilet the other day.  Yes, I'm a slob.  But it's also very true that when my energy goes downhill I put off the things that are absolutely necessary to do.  Apparently taking the toilet roll out and putting it in the recycle bin in the kitchen is one of those things.

Sixteen rolls.  I'm impressed despite myself.



~

Continuing on with the toilet theme, the possum broke on through to the other side.

It is still occasionally sleeping in the hole in the wall which the cockies so kindly created.

But it's obviously not the most ideal of circumstances.  Too squishy and noisy.  As evidenced by the fact that it has busted its foot through the ensuite wall.

Days go by with nothing poking through, and then you get up in the morning to go to the loo and there it is.



A little bit of nature, brought right into the dunny.

Happy Friday and Saturday, y'alls.

Dreams

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Thursday, 20 March 2014

If anyone is sitting around with a million bucks and you want to give it to me, I'll spend it on this.  It would be a perfect place to host my dream business idea and provide accommodation and an awesome studio space for Anth to boot. 

Feel free to leave your email address in the comments and I'll give you my bank account details.

Kay fanx.

~

That night, I dreamed of a man who was cooking crepes.  I don't know what they were made out of - let's say buckwheat.  On the side of the crepes he had also served up a side of some groats.  Groats are the hull of the grain after it's been milled and they have been on my mind because they're a good thing to eat if you're on a bit of an elimination diet like I am at the moment (candida and other fungalness - no sugar, dairy or wheat.  I am not doing this perfectly but then who does anything perfectly?  The cravings for sugar have largely passed).  The man also made a third component made out of buckwheat, like a sauce or something, which also added back in elements that were taken out in the hulling process.

It felt like a very positive dream - every component of the original grain was back on the plate.  The grain had become bigger than its original as it was now able to be utilised in three different ways that ended up being bigger than the sum of the parts.

I am trying to stuff it into a box from the Universe that is saying that yes, somehow we will be able to buy this property (even though I'm earning like 80 bucks a week tops at the moment).  I haven't quite been able to stuff it into that box, however.  It's like a woman with a bit of extra conditioning trying to shove herself into last season's skirt - bits of skin bulging out the side.

I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised though if it related to my idea.  That baby has legs, methinks.  Now it's just for me to edge forward step by step into the dark and see what can come of it.  It's fun trying, at the very least.

The Two Ends of the Power Cord

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Monday, 17 March 2014

I was one of the estimated 30,000 Melburnians who Marched in March over the weekend from the State Library to Parliament House to register a vote of no confidence in the current government.  I am very proud to have done so. 


It was a messy hodgepodge of people and placards, some of which I was in favour of and others which I wasn't.  That's how it goes, I guess, in a democracy – a loud mix of voices, some contradictory, which can feel uncomfortable and not entirely safe.


This might sound ridiculous in the face of internet trolls, the NSA, city bashings, Kyle Sandilands, reality TV, familial incest, Russia, the US and China sticking out their chests and the Abbott Government, but I really don't believe that humanity has reached anywhere near its highest potential.  We march slowly, slowly forward into unity in diversity, greater compassion and equality, a space where we can all feel safer and freer to express our humanity.  But it's an uncomfortable march – it requires us to not only speak truth to power, but also to own our own shit after a fashion, to own the bits that we don't like about ourselves.


Now, just in case I possibly give the impression of being a preachy Girl Guide with her entire shit together talking about love, rainbows and unity, to dispel that misconception I will share a couple of home truths about myself as well, helpfully highlighted in bold.

Anyway, I never made it to Girl Guides.  I distinctly remember as a 10 year old dancing as a Brownie around a plastic mushroom with my fellow Junjarins and thinking, “What a bloody load of cods this is.”

It's the hardest of hard work to understand your cultural place in history, to see the shadows and blind spots that others in 500 years' time will be able to see very clearly.  But as evidenced on the weekend, there are some spots that come into focus and beam like beacons – unfair distribution of power and wealth which shows up in the way previous governments on both sides have treated refugees, the way those in power are increasingly treating us. 

I like one Bryan Adams song and love another one.


And yet while it's right to march and voice your opinion and empower yourself, it's a victim's stance to believe that all of the power lies in the hands of the powerful.  After all, hard as it is to believe, they are human as well.  I try to put myself in their position and imagine how all of us would appear to them.  The mob has never been pretty and for all of our moves forward into tolerance and diversity we are still just as intolerant and hateful and despising and dualistic in our thinking as we've ever been when it comes to those who we believe are wrong.  If I was a politician, I would be scared of us.  And as much as I would hate to imagine it, I would be swept along in the fear and revolt that formed in me in response to that and, swept along with the revolting political machine would find myself where most politicians find themselves, toeing the line and stifling my idealism and speaking lies and bullshit.

On the train on the way to the march I saw an Anglo guy sitting with an Asian woman and my initial thought until I rejected it was that he had probably spent money to have her sitting next to him with her hand entwined in his hair.


Power is a corrupter, as we all know.  Like money, I imagine there doesn't ever quite seem to be enough of it.  It doesn’t fill up the hole of insecurity like we imagine it might.  It seems that within Maslow's hierarchy of needs, more than enough of both money and power starts to rot and decay us from the inside.

We all know that pretty well, and for most of us it's why we were marching on the weekend.

When I was a teenager I used to call Aboriginal people boongs and not think twice about what I was saying.


I didn’t stay for any of the speeches at the march because quite frankly I was starving and my feet were killing me and my energy had run out.  So perhaps my view is a little more glowing than of those who did stay because I left with lovely action-ey feelings of marching in spotty rain with thousands of people in unity.  I didn't end up listening to individual people with individual views who might have appeared to some to be hijacking the whole event for their own ends.  I don’t know.  I didn’t hear any of that – I was eating a footlong flatbread Seafood Sensation at Subway and dreaming beautiful thoughts of the potential of humanity.

Beautiful ideas about humanity are so much easier to handle than the messy blobs of it that show up in our lives, after all, with their own ideas and how to go about achieving them and the defensiveness that flares up within our selves in response.  Perhaps that's why ideas that seem so wonderful fall to poo when wielded in the hands of people on behalf of other people.


Perhaps that's what will stand out so starkly in 500 years' time – what control freaks we were when we thought we weren't.  Our beautiful ideas always end up falling into the stink of control because those filth out there don't know how to do them properly so we in here need to enforce the parameters with which they do them.  It's not only powerful people who do this stuff.

I sometimes expect people with depression and anxiety to “snap out of it” if I happen to be having a good run of not experiencing those things myself.  I suffer from those demons myself and have been clinically depressed in the past.

I do not think that we are very good at putting our ideas out there into the world and letting them be.  We are micromanagers and control freaks.  We do not trust each other, not one bit.  And sometimes we won't give each other an inch without a fight, either.  We have been so easily divided and conquered by those at the top for so many millennia that we too easily fight amongst ourselves for the spoils they leave us, and whenever our egos are threatened by someone who thinks differently than us. 


Maybe this is partially what keeps us weak and the powerful strong.  Maybe the work of correcting the imbalance rests more with us than we think it does.  Maybe our actions in our own lives to those of us who we consider our enemies is about loving them, as some carpenter dude said once and others have said before and after him.  Maybe our actions there affect the greater whole in ways we can't quite understand in our cause and effect reasoning.  After all, we live in an era when the unified field of consciousness has moved from the realms of fancy into the realms of science as a reality we can stand on.  On more levels than the mushy Hallmark one, we really are one.

I have engaged quite happily when at get-togethers with friends in talking about whoever isn't there even though I hate it when other people gossip about me.

When we truly believe this and know this, we might not need to march.  But if we do, we will not be able to walk past the homeless guy and pretend he's not there while we're doing it.  And we won't ignore the red traffic lights either just because we can, forcing the unfortunate cars finding themselves in the city at that time to bank themselves up and beep.


I once gave someone a blowjob in my car in the street. 

When we marched round the corner from Swanston Street onto Bourke Street, there was a young woman and a homeless guy. 

I vacuum four times a year tops.

The homeless guy sat with a cardboard sign and a couple of bags surrounding him and downcast eyes as we all marched past him.  We really are one.

I walked past the homeless guy myself.


I used to go to school with a guy who was quite obviously not very clever.  I knew this but I was very insecure.  I used to say things in front of my other classmates to make myself look better and to make him look even stupider.  His response was always a goofy smile.  I guess that is its own  punishment.

The young woman was playing Auld Lang Syne on the erdu.  A traditional Scottish poem, played by a Chinese woman, on the streets of Melbourne.  It seemed a fitting, beautiful accompaniment for a walk where people from one of the most multicultural countries on the earth were marching partially against the treatment of those who seek asylum here. 

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, yes, we really are one.

I was surprised that I didn’t feel uncomfortable at the fire ceremony. Later, in a conversation with another Balinese man, Wira, I was able to articulate why. The officiants of the ceremony were not doing it for show. They weren’t selling us a ceremony or showing us a ceremony. They hadn’t turned it into a product or spectacle and thereby subsumed it within our system of categories. Their attitude was more along the lines of, “The fire ceremony is good for everyone, whether Balinese or foreign.” Their own cosmology was primary. They gave it to us in the spirit of a gift.

I said to Wira, “It isn’t only to photograph and say they’ve done it, that Western people go to your ceremonies. There is another reason. You see, in my country most of us no longer understand that rituals hold together the fabric of the world. The worldview we were brought up in says that your ceremonies are just empty gestures attached to superstition. We might value them as cultural objects, but we don’t understand that they are actually a kind of technology that has a powerful effect on the social and material world.

“A few of us do understand, but even if we understand it doesn’t do us much good, because we have forgotten our ceremonies, and we have forgotten how to see the world through they eyes of ceremony. That is why we are here, some of us. We recognize that we have something important to learn here. We come in respect and gratitude for the treasure you have kept safe in this corner of the world.”

... Imagine if ETs showed up in our society and began appearing at serious occasions with cameras. “Wait,” you might protest, “we take photographs at our own rituals (such as weddings) all the time.” But that isn’t the kind of ritual I’m talking about. We misunderstand ritual – real rituals are sequences of actions that we experience as more real, not less real, than other activities. They draw their significance and importance from the world-story behind them. A visit to the doctor’s office is a good example. The ritual waiting period, the outer and inner chamber (waiting room and examination room), the ritual ablution the doctor must perform, the disrobing, the body ordeal, the writing of the sacred writ in an arcane language (of pharmacology), the preparatory ritual overseen by an assistant shaman (the nurse) followed by a visit by a fully initiated one (who has undergone a multi-year initiation and ceremonial addition to his name)… this is one of the true rituals of our culture, though it falls short of being a ceremony. We think it isn’t a ritual; we think it is “real,” and can explain each of its components in terms of a world-story (that includes things like germs, insurance, money, etc.) Imagine the effect it would have if strange and technologically super-advanced humanoids showed up in gaggles and groups, asking to watch blood tests, PET scans, and colonoscopies, and even to experience them themselves in order to have an authentic Earth experience, holographically recording all of it, throwing around huge amounts of money, and meanwhile implying that our medical theories were superstitious nonsense by setting up their own healing clinics and schools advancing a knowledge system that seemed, at least superficially, far more powerful. The result would be a devastating loss of confidence in our own medical rituals and their underlying worldview. It wouldn’t help if some well-meaning ETs said, “Oh, you must preserve these beautiful rituals, even if they are based on mere superstition."
What distinguishes a ceremony from a ritual, in my mind, is the presence of the sacred – the feeling that one is communicating with a vast intelligence beyond one’s self. The rituals that we call medicine, law, finance, and technology lack that dimension; in they case of technology they explicitly deny it. In the absence of the sacred, we treat the world as just a bunch of stuff. Ultimately we treat ourselves that way too. For our healing, sometimes we need to seek the medicine of a place that relates to the world as sacred. We become no longer tourists, but pilgrims.

  Thought-provoking post by Charles Eistenstein

In the Desert

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

There, one perpetually bathes in the conditions for sheer boredom. And yet invisible divinities build up a net of directions, slopes and signs, a secret and living frame. No more uniformity. Everything takes up a definite position. Even one silence is unlike another silence.

... Man is first animated by invisible solicitations.

~ Anthoine de Saint-Exupery, @ Brain Pickings

Pic by Christopher L under a creative commons attribution licence