What was I up to in October 2000?

These entries via the Web Archive (my old Angelfire site). Some names have been edited to conform with my later practice.

Tuesday, October 31

I have had a computer (first a generously donated 486 from G, now a Gateway) for about one year now, have been online since January, and have had this web-site since late March! Not bad for an aging technophobe 🙂

I am not silly enough to put great faith in hit counters, indeed I am told the really cool thing is not to have them. Still, I enjoy the game, and enjoy my “competition” with Mr Rabbit’s site, which came into being around August, I think. In the past couple of weeks I have “outhit” him, but not by much: the HSC has curbed his trade I suspect.

He still beats me for the month though. So keep coming, people! In September R averaged 25.5 hits a day, in October 18.5. My Diary averaged 16.6 in September, 17.1 in October–lifting since R linked to it, and since I separated October 15 on to this page. My Home Page averaged 15.8 in September, 16.5 in October; Gay Main 6.6 and 6.8. The remarkable one is Multicultural Main, which languished very low for some months: in September it averaged 1.4 (and that may have been me!) but in October 3.9, going as “high” as 6.2 one week in October. It pleases me if people are reading that page.

Exciting, eh! Well, maybe not–but it is nice when people read what you do, and especially when you get feedback–and a big thankyou to Shanghai Bob for his!

Sunday, October 29

Being Sunday, and me being a Christian of sorts, it seems appropriate to write a Divine Meditation. Let me say straight off that among the wisest words on religion, or on religious concepts, are the opening words of the Tao Te Ching:

The tao that can be told
Is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
Is not the eternal Name.

This brings me to quote from today’s meditation in Deng Ming Dao’s 365 Tao, which I have cited before on these pages. Readers of Australian poet Robert Gray will find an echo here of his marvellous poem “Diptych”:

Golden light skims azure bay,
Dense air heavy with laurel.
Windless dusk smears to night,
Sonorous pool in a sheltered grove.

Though this world is turbulent, there are still days and places where we can be afforded some tranquility. When this happens, it is right to rest after tribulations and striving of being in the world and to take advantage of what is offered. Sometimes it will be the peaceful feeling of sunset, when the blazing sun becomes reconciled with the horizon and a sense of acceptance lingers in the air. At other times, it will be the chance encounter with a secret place–perhaps a grove of trees that promises a mysterious comfort.

In such private places, we can often find peace. Such stillness can even be precious, as when we notice the deep voice of a stream which we were always too busy to hear before. Indeed, sometimes we are so worn out by our daily activities that we forget to notice our need for recharging.

Renewal is a profound tonic. With sanctuary and rest, we can prepare to go forth again.

I also read Leviticus this morning–again. It is notorious, of course, for its rule on homosexual activity, but also contains an interesting and detailed depiction of the rituals of Ancient Israel and as such is a valuable historical document, albeit manifestly not written by Moses. (Fundamentalists–don’t bother: I have heard it all before! Try reading Bishop Spong instead, or Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version (Penguin 1992), or Bruce Bawer’s Stealing Jesus, or Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. All of these make more sense than the argument-in-a-circle that is the essence of Fundamentalist views on the Word of God.) As a historical document it has much more credibility than, say, The Book of Mormon, which may tell you something about the 19th century in America but tells you very little else–and yes, I have read it, and hasten to add that individual Latter Day Saints are not prevented by the dubious status of their particular fetish from leading good and exemplary lives.

But there is much that is inspiring in Leviticus: the chapter on justice and equity should be read aloud to politicians and business leaders on a regular basis (Leviticus Chapter 19: 9-18). On the other hand, the old temple must have resembled an abattoir! I particularly love the commandment to execute both the beast and the rooter in the case of bestiality! Only fair! And even in Chapter 19, the definition of “neighbour” is narrow enough to be a worry–something later dealt with in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which must have been as shocking then as, for some, a parable of “The Good Poof” might be today. And I am not being irreligious on that last point: think about it.

Here endeth the Lesson.

9.30 pm A complete change of pace now. The closing ceremony of the Paralympics has just finished, and I must admit to having my heart-strings tugged as the beautiful Judith Durham, in a wheel-chair because she is recovering from a recent operation, sang with the original Seekers “The Carnival is Over”: my mind went back to their “last” performance from the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne–when? 30 years ago?–which I watched with my Mum and Dad, both now gone. A full generation ago. And her voice is as good now as it was then, though to be honest I think the backing was a touch rusty.

Loved it though; I can be hopelessly sentimental, nostalgic…all that!

Sigh!

I could put Ian Smith’s John Howard joke here, but it would break the mood, so I’ll save it for later 🙂

Monday, October 30

New week, almost new month. Spent the day at Bondi in a workshop session on policies/strategies on racism. Quite interesting.

Which brings me to John Howard. “Who is he?” you may ask, if you are in some other country–actually even if you are not. He is the Australian Prime Minister. Here is the joke:

John Howard decided one day to get to know young Australians, so he visited a school. “Now, children,” he patronised, “I have a little quiz. Can you tell me what a tragedy is?” “Oh yes,” said a little girl. “If my best friend was run over by a bus, that would be a tragedy.” “Close, but not right,” replied John. “That would be an accident.”

So a little boy said: “If all the class was in a bus, and it went over a cliff, and they were all killed–that would be a tragedy.” “Oh no,” replied John. “That is close, but that would be a great loss, not a tragedy.”

Then a little girl said: “I know–if you and your wife were on a plane, and some terrorists aimed a missile at it, and hit, and you were killed–that would be a tragedy.” “Right!” said John Howard. “Tell me, how did you work it out?” “Easy–I knew that it would be no accident, and it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss!”

How disrespectful!

Thursday, October 26

Prepare for a shock… After much cajoling, and some threats, I am going to lead you to a picture of Ninglun. You will see (left to right): Master Fu, Mr R, Ninglun (tragic!), Shanghai Bob and Zhaonan– typical Aussies all!

2000

Wednesday, October 25

Atavism in another guise sent me to sleep last night. I sometimes listen to talkback radio as I go to sleep, usually Radio 2GB; Brian Wilshire is no good for this, as he is so annoying, and Andrew Harwood is far too chirpy, more suited to mornings. However there was a suitably soporific fellow on last night; but it was a caller, not the presenter, who prompts this entry. A deep manly Australian voice, maybe my age or a little younger or older, a broadish Australian accent–rather like my brother’s, but there the resemblance ceases. The Man was holding forth on what constitutes A Decent Aussie: “I look for two things–that he looks me straight in the eye, and gives me a firm handshake–none of those poofy handshakes–and I would not want to spend my time with hairdressers or violin players…And I guess I’m a real Aussie…Love my sport…” Hmmm.

My father used sometimes to share such a philosophy with me–I suspect it was his father’s philosophy too, and my father deep down didn’t really believe it either. Trouble is, it is a woefully inadequate way of judging people. First it excludes all those who find being looked directly in the eye offensive–such as Aboriginal Australians and most East Asians. Second it assumes that firm handshakes are sincere and “manly” (excluding women, naturally–mind you nothing “poofy” about that, is there?). Again, hand shaking is a totally cultural matter. It tells you nothing about the character of the shaker; of course it may tell you he is an astute salesman!

I much prefer the advice of my maternal grandfather: “If you see someone praying, watch out for the knife in the hand behind his back.”

All of this brought Henry Lawson to mind, an Australian cultural hero, at least to people of my vintage.

Take his poem “Middleton’s Rouseabout”. My mother was fond of this one, bush girl that she was. Is Lawson’s portrait totally affectionate? Certainly, it seems that the point is the despised Andy gets to be on top over the (poofy?) Middleton. But Lawson’s Andy has been a two-edged inheritance for Australia: the coming nation that “hasn’t any opinions/ hasn’t any ‘idears’.”

OHLX

Henry Lawson

Manifestly, plenty of Australians have ideas, and not all are anti-intellectual. But “Andy” still passes for wisdom for quite a few folk, some of them in government I suspect, and that is sad for Australia. On the other hand, that this country has by and large escaped the dogmatisms of, say, Europe and America (parts thereof) is in some ways not a bad thing, is it?

Sunday, October 22

Very positive vibes, as requested, are hereby sent to R and friends for Monday October 23!

The following I found in an (English) English textbook of all places (S H Burton and J A Humphries, Work Out English GCSE, London, Macmillan, 3 ed 1994). I think it is good:

GOOD INTENTIONS–POOR LISTENING

Here are a number of ‘danger areas’ where, often with the best intentions, errors are made and listening becomes little more than a self-centered activity.

Placating
You want to be pleasant and supportive. You want people to like you and so agree with everything they say. You half-listen, but you’re not really involved.
Comparing
You are always trying to assess who is cleverer, more competent, more emotionally healthy–you or the speaker? This makes it hard to listen.
Identifying
You refer everything that you are told to your own experience. Everything you hear reminds you of something you have thought, done or suffered. There is no time really to hear the other person and to get to know her or him.
Advising
You see yourself as the great problem-solver, ready with help or suggestions. You do not hear more than a few sentences before you begin searching for a solution.
Judging
You prejudge someone as being stupid or neurotic or unqualified, so you do not pay attention to what they are saying. You have already written them off. Judgements should be made only after you have heard and evaluated the speaker’s remarks. [ I might add being unduly influenced, positively or negatively, by accent or voice quality is another source of prejudgement. — Ninglun]
Mind-reading
You may not pay much attention to what people say and, in fact, you often mistrust it. You spend more time trying to work out what the other person is ‘really’ thinking or feeling.
Filtering
You listen to some things and not to others. You pay enough attention only to hear what you want to hear.
Rehearsing
You are rehearsing what you will say next, so you do not have time to listen. Your attention is on the preparation and crafting of your next comment. You continue to look interested, but your mind is at work…elsewhere.
Dreaming
You are half-listening and something the speaker says triggers a chain of private thoughts. Effort is needed to stay tuned in to the conversation. Listening means concentrating and showing commitment to the speaker.
Sparring
You argue and debate with the other person. He or she never feels heard because you are so quick to disagree. You take a strong stand and are very clear about your beliefs and preferences.
Being right
You will go to any lengths to avoid being wrong. You cannot listen to criticism, you cannot stand being corrected and you cannot take suggestions to change. Since you cannot acknowledge that your mistakes are mistakes, you just keep making them.
Derailing
You suddenly change the subject. You get bored with the conversation or you feel uncomfortable with the topic, so you derail it.

Mea culpa of course!

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