Sunday, 30 March 2008

Sooo, How Are You? With Those Things That You Do And That Life That You Live And Stuff?

There are few things as likely to throw me completely off balance as someone walking towards me smiling, waving and saying my name.
I hate running into people when I'm not expecting them.
Drives me nuts.

Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and family and assorted associates but I suffer from what I like to call Context Recognition Dyslexia.

If I only ever knew you from Uni I'd better damn well only see you in Uni.
If I know you from work and you suddenly come towards me in a CD store waving, things will not go well.
If we hang out in Melbourne, God forbid you should try to attract my attention in Bendigo.
Not because I am going to be rabidly angry with you for trying to escape your category in my brain but because outside of the scope of that category I will honestly sometimes have no idea who you are for a good five minutes without prompting.
You'll look vaguely familiar, I will know that I know you but I will be entirely unable to remember how or why.

At this point I will usually attempt to probe you for information using detail-lite, generic questions. If one of these questions throws up a nugget of data that my brain can immediately attribute to you, you will suddenly come into focus like a Magic Eye puzzle and I will recognise you. At this point I will get infinitely more chatty.

Case Study
A couple of years ago I was working a coffee job near Flinders Street station in Melbourne, I had just got off my shift and was gleefully on my way to hit the local secondhand book store, when I heard someone calling my name. I looked around and some short-haired girl walking with a bespectacled woman and a gangly boy was madly waving and grinning at me. I tentatively waved back but it wasn't until she got close enough for me to hear her voice that I recognised her. It was my best friend, her mother and her brother. I had known these people for EIGHT YEARS! I could recite her entire life history, sketch a basic life cycle of her many many haircut experiments and tell you stories of such surpassing embarrassment about her that you would probably cringe. I know her and her family only marginally less intimately than my own family and I didn't recognise her because I never see her in the city, at least not without arranging ahead.
Which links in nicely to the time I almost didn't recognise my own cousin standing next to me on the train platform because I never see him at train stations...

I expect it's some form or other of Prosopagnosia, 'the inability to recognise faces', though nothing that severe.
I recognise faces, emotions, remember people - but only for about two years without repeated re-exposure before they are purged from the memory banks, with a few exceptions - but step outside of my context for you, get a haircut, change your weight or even your clothes and you may find me blinking at you in polite bewilderment.

Strangely enough I might have entirely forgotten your face after not having seen you for three years but I will remember every story I ever heard from or about you after very little prompting.
This has lead to conversations such as...
"Who was that?"
"Sarah, you know Sarah,"
*sigh* "She was going out with that fire-breathing guy...
"Oh right, the one who sold ecstasy on the side and burnt off his eyebrows that time... And her sister was pregnant last time we spoke and we were wondering if she was going to name this one something as awful as Moonshine Illuria or whether she'd overcompensate and name it John or Jane. And she always had that gross dribbly nose because she wouldn't admit that she was allergic to cats and kept like twelve of them until the RSPCA came round and had a word..."

It's not all bad though, on occasion people I haven't recognised easily have been dissuaded from reestablishing regular contact and I have later recalled who they were and made sure to thank any passing deities for their timely intervention.
It saves me the trouble of having to tell them to bugger off the old fashioned way.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Liquid Lunch... And Breakfast... And Maybe Dinner...

My friend DumbDumb* has started one of those diets that primarily consists of replacing most of your meals with shakes and salads. As long as the salads don't contain any vegetables that are too brightly coloured or taste good or make you feel full or anything.

From what I can remember the she has given up most vegetables, meat, all forms of carbohydrates and... well everything short of water.
Apparently she has to keep this up for three months until she reaches her optimal shake sculpted form and then she gets to go onto Phase Two where she gets rewarded with the return of some of the evil vegetables and possibly some pasta!

She's one week in and going strong... but being the cynic that I am I'm fully expecting her to sink into a shake-inspired diarrhoea-riddled lethargy or to snap and eat something scandalous like a banana or even some chocolate and will end up curled up in the corner sobbing with guilt.

I don't claim to be an paragon of dietary restraint and virtue but I've never trusted the programs that require you to drastically change your habits for a limited period of time, it's always suggested that any results you achieve will last for a limited period of time too.
Of course Dumb Dumb says that once she has reached Shake Perfection she will take up regular exercise to maintain her new chassis, as is usually the claim, so fingers crossed she will, otherwise all those chalky beverages will have been consumed in vain.

*names have been changed to protect the dumb dumb.

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Anonymous And The Automotive

I keep seeing those cars with the Hannibal Lecter face masks over their grill, you know the ones, they've got a leather cover that just looks like it should have a gimp zip at the front.
I guess they're for keeping bug guts off the nose of your pristine new car, I've never bothered to definitively find out. For all I know behind each and every leather facade is a mounted rocket launcher and one day the Glorious V8 Collective is going to rise up, overthrow parliament (with rockets!) and declare every weekend Grand Prix weekend until we run out of petrol and/or grid girls.

And you know what? I think I'd be OK with that as long as one of the vows made in our glorious new republic is to hunt down and severely punish the self-appointed parking critiquing militia. Those people who have spawned across the developed world en masse. The ones who keep pre-cut stack of photocopied notes in their glovebox to stick under the windscreen wipers of anyone whose parking prowess does not meet their exacting anonymous standards.

There is nothing more refreshing after fighting your way out of a packed supermarket out to the packed parking lot where the positions of the cars in the spaces on either side of you had forced you to park on a slight angle than finding a badly drawn cartoon of Mickey Mouse flipping you the bird and telling you to go f*#k yourself because the original cars have left and one of the drivers who took their place has decided to share with you their opinion on the matter.
These are the kind of people who probably also pop anonymous notes into peoples' letterboxes about how the world would be such a better place for everyone if you could do something about the leaves your tree is dropping onto the footpath and nature strip. Because once you've started writing anonymous notes it is apparently very hard to stop. They probably perfected their craft whilst living in a sharehouse where they would leave notes for you on the fridge, in the fridge, stuck to your bedroom door, pushed under your bedroom door, in the bathroom, in the laundry... well basically everywhere, rather than actually speak to you because well then they might not get to feel that rapturous self-righteous glow and you might ruin the whole thing by disagreeing, pointing out that they're being a wanker and completely breaking the flow of their diatribe.

This is the kind of thing that really would be best addressed by a rocket launcher. Programmed to go off on anybody who touches your windscreen wipers without having entered the deactivation code.
This may take out a few parking inspectors or rave advertisers as well but... well... the Glorious V8 Collective was probably going to get around to them next in any case.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Do Seraphim Have Serotonin?

This one is unfinished but I just got some of the ideas down and figured that posting it was the best way of getting myself to actually round it out at a later date.


Brier rustled his wings restlessly under his coat and sighed.

Things just hadn't been the same since humans had invented radar.
The skies were now reserved for birds and their mechanical brethren.
'He' had been so pleased at the time. Of course 'He' seemed pleased when the funny little things had invented the tube sock.
Brier knew it was disloyal but sometimes he thought to himself that if 'He' had been born it probably would have been with the cord around 'His' neck. 'He' was what 'His' earthly children would probably call 'special'.

A girl and a guy murmured to each other in a doorway, out of the flow of foot traffic, and Brier felt their auras glance past his. The girl had seen more life than the boy but her face didn't show it. Lust, desire, guilt, penance, confusion, need, a tangle engulfed the two and made Brier’s teeth ache until he was far enough away that their flavour started to fade from his mind.
Technically Brier should be bustling about trying to save people from themselves right now, nudging them towards the holy texts and tenets of 'His' favourite toy, the church, but there didn't seem to be as much point these days. If you tried too hard you might find the authorities trying to urge you on your way or put you into a jacket that wrapped all the way around which would probably lead to some fairly unpleasant medical probing when they removed his jacket. There was all that and then there was the thing with the numbers.
Brier lit a cigarette and watched the match burning down as he drew in his first lungful of smoke. The heavenly equivalent of auditors had been reporting an unsettling trend with the soul traffic figures over the last century or so.

"So, what? Numbers are down? Everyone ending up Downstairs are they?"
"Well, no, actually,"
"Oh come on, you've seen the way they've been messing about these days. A whole swag of them have to be Down There by now,"
"That's the thing, there's been a few more turning up Downstairs but far more of them... aren't..."
"So, Purgatory?"
"Hardly any at all,"
"So where the hell are the rest of them!?"
"We're... not sure. Possibly… reincarnation…”
“Are you shitting me? I didn’t think ‘He’ believed in recycling,”
“Who knows what he’s thinking these days. Do you want to be the one who asks him?”
“Shit no!”

‘He’ had never actually been 100% in love with everything in the Bible and as ‘His’ attention had wandered over the millennia it was possible that the holy writs had stopped equalling actual consequences. For all Brier knew people were ending up where they believed they were going to end up which could be anywhere really. Maybe he should get some of the desk jockeys upstairs to start scouting around to see if they could find any spare realms or levels. Or he could just let them continue along in their little self-fellating filing system and back patting club in peace. Heaven forbid they get themselves in a flap and have to do some real work.

Brier crossed the street to avoid a 24-hour jiggle joint and lit up another cigarette. Catholics thought they had it rough with guilt but try being a bloody angel. One time Brier had stepped into one of those places, just wanting anything really, if not a new purpose at least a distraction, and had been struck down by a wave of remorse and self-loathing so intense that they had called some paramedics to carry him outside. He’d gotten himself moving in time to bugger off before they got him into the back of the ambulance. It wasn’t even as though it had been Brier’s own guilt that had hit him, it was like a stupid built in reaction. One of ‘His’ little jokes. Angels couldn’t interact with humans, not like that. They could touch each other but that was only helpful if you were partial to sausage. Another part of ‘His’ great joke was that he hadn’t bothered to make female angels. Had thought that they might distract some of the people ‘He’ was sending them to save or some shit like that.

Sometimes Brier became obsessed with the idea that the world would be a better place if the Bible had never been written, or at least had been written differently, without all the 'additions' and misinterpretations - both deliberate and accidental - that the half-crazed scribes of 'His' word had introduced into the text. At these times Brier had to stop himself rushing into 'His' presence and asking if maybe it was time for the Bible Version 2.0. Because who knew if 'He' would suddenly get excited and decide instead to start everything from scratch - people, the Earth, the universe...
So he kept his mouth shut. And maybe it was because Brier couldn't bear to think of all the creatures of this planet and those of the next and everything in the velvet depths of space being wiped out in a whim... and maybe it was because he thought he might get binned along with them... Either way he wasn't going to be the idiot who started the avalanche, no sir.

The cigarette packet tried to worry Brier about the state of his lungs, he snorted. If angels could get cancer then he'd at least eventually get to see what things were like on the other side of the big gates.
Without looking he knows that a group of just-teenagers behind him are looking at him funny as they all wait for the pedestrian crossing signal to flash.
"Don't do drugs kids," Brier said as the little green man gave the all clear.
"Fuck off Grandpa," the one kid trying to sound tough had his moment ruined by the other kids giggling in shock.

As the crowd surrounded him and all of their thoughts and fears and sins and joy began to flow through Brier's defenceless mind he sighed and opened himself the rest of the way up.
'My good deed for the day', he thought as just a hint of the Divine Grace that 'He' somehow still retained washed through all those around him, moving through touching minds to affect even some who were outside of Brier's personal range.
The boisterously swearing kids behind him fell quiet as they were overcome with an unexplained feeling of well-being and started wondering how they could become better people. Arguments stilled and there was a strange peace.
"Enjoy it while it lasts," Brier muttered under his breath, watching the people stare in wonder at the world as if they'd never seen it before, never known it as a gift or appreciated its beauty. Some of them wept.
Brier kept walking, feeling the echoes of the influence continue to move on ahead of him and was suddenly depressed. "Screw this. I need some more cigarettes,"

Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Children Are The Future... Poor Little Bastards...

Is it just me or has there not really been any planning towards what we're going to do when we run out of fossil fuels?

Everyone keeps saying we're frittering away the resources we have access to and we're heading towards the bottom of the 'tank' but I don't really remember seeing much in the way of big ideas.

Of course this could be because I'm not paying vast quantities of attention - I'm enjoying the denial as much as the next person and am easily distracted by shiny things and bright colours - or because any time anyone seriously talks about wind farming or solar power a part of a lot of us puts up the 'hippie talk' sign and walks away for a beer or wonders exactly how we're supposed to implement any of those sorts of system world-wide. Or even nation wide.

I guess the answer could end up being 'we won't have any choice'.

I figure for starters the price of power and fuel will climb in a steady and severely society screwing manner in the lead up until 'uh ohs' day until only the mega-rich can afford to drive cars, power their houses, travel internationally at any kind of speed and... well, eat.

No power = no mass production of food, no way to move it about easily.
No communication = not knowing where to find the food in the stages when it's still abundant.
We're kind of low on horses and high on people compared to the old days so we probably won't easily rig up horse-drawn carts.
Sure, we could breed the population up again but we probably won't get that far.
We'll probably get hungry and eat them.
And other domesticated animals.
And each other...

Whether or not we do go a bit carnivore happy, we'll have to remember which plants are edible. All of us, not just the people who used to put them all in the shops on our behalf.
This may be a bit difficult when we've burnt all the books for heat during the winter months, at least in the northern hemisphere countries. The southern hemisphere will probably be the only place where libraries survive, not that we'll be able to share the knowledge with our northern brethren without the interwub or telephones. We might still have access to morse code or something but who knows. I'm not a technologically aware person, I don't even know if the wires necessary still exist and they probably don't stretch all the way to Europe or the northern hemisphere. If we still have any electricity at all we can't guarantee it'll be used for such things. I mean who would ensure that it was?
Who is going to be in charge?

Without easy communication and all the lovely confusion and the whole being small number of meals away from anarchy how will the kind of people who would actually implement useful solutions get into a position of power?
How far would the influence of the lucky few stretch?
The scientists and other clever clogs who could offer us solutions that would work with the resources and materials we have left might not be able to get their ideas out into the world.
They might not even try.
The people with the scientific, medical, organisational know-how who do so well and so much good work in the society of today may not have the inclination or the courage to try to do the same in the violent and dangerous 'renovator's dream' society that will follow.
Can you imagine what would happen to a doctor who let his previous profession be known in a society with poor nutrition, more than likely woeful sanitary arrangements and no way of producing more medications or surgical implements?
They would be mobbed for starters and could end up chained in a makeshift clinic to ensure they didn't try to get away.
You'd just claim to be an accountant, wouldn't you.

Let's not even think too hard about what might happen with the various military forces across the world.
Countries who prided themselves on bringing down dictators may end up producing some of the most merciless despots the world has ever known, either through finally having the opportunity or because they claim it's 'for the best' or 'just until the country/continent/world gets back on it's feet'.
The hardest thing some people will have to face is that in a situation like that it may be the most stable option.

Ironically some of the poorest people in the world may end up fairing better than their richer cousins as they still have some knowledge of how to produce or find their own food - out of a necessity that has never left them.

If you do manage to set yourself up with a garden, clean water and easy or occasional access to meat you'd better be prepared to protect yourself from roving packs of less fortunate or less resourceful people.

OK, OK I'm not painting a very rosy picture. You're probably getting a bit depressed.
Look, here...

There we go.
Now you're either completely overcome with a case of the 'awwwwwwwwwwwwww!'s or ranting about people who put clothing items on animals.
Either way the cat has achieved its mission.

Maybe when everything goes to hell in a hand-basket we'll discover a new strength and there will be a resurgence of the human spirit*.
Maybe as our old ways are lost to us the planet will begin to heal and we'll be able to deeply appreciate that as we come to depend quite directly on what we can cultivate ourselves**.
Maybe when we all have to work every day for our survival and comfort and go back to the bare minimum way of living things will improve in some strange ways***.

Of course a lot of us will die in the interim and it'll be especially interesting to see what happens when the containment units around nuclear power facilities switch themselves off but what're you going to do?

Wouldn't hurt to make your weekend reading a little more purposeful is all I'm saying...

Still feeling a bit down?

Look! It's a pug in a onesie!

[Makes a break for it]

*whatever that is
**and remember that things like scurvy are bad and where we can find vitamins when they aren't in pill form
***there certainly won't be the same opportunities to be bored

Animals in people gear courtesy of Cute Overload.