Sunday, October 30, 2005

Go figure

I've just come across an article in the Sydney Morning Herald saying that the US Congress is in the process of cutting $574 million from the food stamp budget, potentially depriving 300,000 people from this basic level of support. I also learned that 12% of households (almost 1 in 8) in the States are currently on the food stamps program - many of them the "working poor" that we'll soon be emulating here in this supposed land of milk and honey.

So I looked up the financial costs of the war on Iraq. $204.37 billion and counting. More than 350 times the amount they're cutting from the food stamps budget. Or, conversely, enough to add almost 106 million more people to the food stamps program. And if it's true that the rich have been given more than their fair share of tax breaks in recent years, then whose money are they using anyway?

I'd really prefer to blog about stupid things that people do. Or the meaninglessness of life. Or even the goosebumpy sacredness of the universe. Hell, I don't care - it's all just material to weave into some kind of shape that might amuse. But like a moth I just cannot seem to turn my face away from the blinding heat of the obvious, the shameful, the elephant in the room. So I'm going to start writing more about these sorts of things. I hope you do too.

Photo courtesy thedak

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

4 God so luvd da world

Now call me old fashioned but is there something fundamentally (ha ha..) wrong with translating the Bible into SMS language? Or is it just me? Until now I've been pretty sanguine about the suggestion that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, measured in my assessment of Piss Christ, bemused by the intelligent design contortionists (sorry - no link - don't want to encourage them...) and moved by The Last Temptation of Christ. I thought I was fairly balanced. Neutral. Open minded. But this?

I can just imagine Bible scholars all over the world stopped mid-air in their endless debates about the subtle and major differences between Greek and Hebrew, the transcendent and the immanent, the cup and the lip.

Is the power of the Bible in the poetry of the language and richness of metaphors, or is it really just the story - the telling of the literal, the gist, the synopsis? Is there a pierced modern day St Pauline surfing the information superhighway, ripe for her SMS to Damascus?

I then started to wonder whether there are any sacred cows that can't be milked for their SMS goodness. Why stop at the Bible? For instance, would Elizabeth Barrett Browning have snagged her man if she'd texted this?
how spunky r u?
jeez - whr do i stRt?
Im rly rly stoked
my fElnz 4 u cud fil da entrtainmNt cNta
or mAbE evN da melburn crickt grnd!
but ur pritE hot in frnt of da TV 2, evN in yr tracky daks
& Im not stuffin u round here or tryin 2 mAk myslf look big
itz jst Im so Xited i cud spit
ur da best thng since da teenaj mutnt ninja turtls & dey wer KEWL
thinkN bout u mAkz my hed spin
fair dinkm if NEthing hapnd 2 me i reckn i'd stil dig u heaps

(thx 2 hankerific 4 da photo)

Friday, October 7, 2005

The nature of things

Sitting in a doctors surgery nursing my black mood, listening to a podcast on bio terrorism, scowling at the wall. Out the window there's a fruit tree bouncing in the breeze, heavy with blossom, scent blaring. Blah. Piss off. Spring, schming.

A little old lady wanders in carefully holding a plant cutting - a delicate orchidy looking thing or something. "Ooh!" the girls at the desk squeal in unison. Some discussion about how someone's aunt took a cutting the other day and how well it's doing. I'm in little Italy - they're always swapping plants'n'things. The excited squeals descend into a sonatina of murmurs and clucks, lulling me into snooze mode. And then all of a sudden I feel really alert (but not alarmed).

Nature is open source.


There's plenty more where those cuttings came from. The more clippings they take, the better it'll grow. Everything we need or will ever need already exists in some form - we live within an unimaginable abundance of elements, raw materials, scripts and stand-alone environments. That old lady is a goddam hacker. The secretaries are pirates. That tree outside is an API in the hands of a good gardener. Even that red-faced squalling baby on the floor is open source, launched a matter of months ago. Some members of that baby's species know how to hack enough code to make another one. But fortunately most people prefer using the original program.

The operating system and all peripherals are totally interoperable. Everything within infinite coo-ee is except for a bunch of materials created by a few generations of intelligent hacks (enough to trigger a mass extinction in some cases, but even nature generates those from time to time). And another bunch of opportunistic bully boys think they can licence and control things like food and medicine just because they've learned how to spell its genetic code and have lodged a form. But hey, that's hardly bothering me now because something really obvious and important is revealing its beauty to me in this otherwise very bland and ordinary day.

Wow, eh? No wonder so many people are sharing things, creating collaboratively, fighting the introduction of arbitrary and repressive laws, contributing to the greater good and so on. It's in our code. It's natural. (It's bloody obvious once you start thinking about it!)

Go, you good thing.

Photo by josef stuefer

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Weapons of face construction

What is it with staff who work in the cosmetic counters of major department stores? I've visited three in the last two days and feel positively terrorised.

[you have been spared a long, LONG description of me eventually buying something - trust me - you have been SPAAAAAAAAAARED - UGH! ]

In the end, feeling like a total disgrace as a woman and ignoring the misgivings of the rational part of my brain ("you spent how much?!?") I pathetically explained that I'm "just not that into cosmetics" to the woman processing my credit card. She stared at me with total shock said "Really?! They're my LIFE!!"

That helped. Until then I honestly had started to believe there was something fundamentally wrong with me that I needed to work on.

Even if you're not buying cosmetics or planning to stop to look at anything, be prepared. The staff strategically place themselves at the intersections of the various islands of glass and panelling so that they can aggressively lunge at unsuspecting customers with bottles of perfume, aftershave and other stuff to slime you with. Don't be taken in by the quasi-nurse uniform starched dresses and nice smiles. They're bloody ruthless.

You have been warned.