What was I really up to in November 2000?

Yesterday I inadvertently posted December 2000, but have left it up. Now this really is from November 16 years ago! Blogging so long!

Wednesday, November 1 2000

November began nicely, despite not sleeping too well last night because I was up too late fiddling with this! One of my favourite people (one of the highlights of my year 2000) came over for lunch, and I cooked some Chinese food rather successfully: I’m getting more proficient. 🙂 Since my friend was about to face an ordeal, he left better able to handle it I hope. I’ll find out later how he went.

He handled it.

And my flatmate came home later on and served up barbecue duck, rice, and lots of vegetables…

Thursday, November 2

A wry quote for myself–and perhaps other Online Diarists:

I should not talk about myself so much if there were anybody else whom I knew so well.
–Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

And another–also Thoreau:

You may rely on it that you have the best of me in my books (website?), and that I am not worth seeing personally.

No special reason for those: they just tickled me, that’s all 🙂

Saturday, November 4

Just back from my Saturday coaching in Chinatown; interestingly the Markets were possibly busier than during the Olympics!

I propose some content changes on the other pages, some of which have changed little in that respect. I have had some thoughts about the nature of this medium, and will articulate them when I can on the Home Page. There were also some substantial items in the weekend newspapers: a review of Armistead Maupin’s new novel The Night Listener in the Weekend Australian raises issues I would like to explore on the Gay Pages; an extract in The Sydney Morning Herald from Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam strikes just the right note for our times, and I hope to explore it on the Home Page; an important essay in The Sydney Morning Herald by Tom Morton on “community” raises issues for the Multicultural Pages, and indeed the Gay Pages. Watch out for this new content over the next few days.

In the process a few old favourites will move: the “NESB Student Stories” will travel to the Multicultural Pages, for example, and I may even say something nice about John Howard on the Home Page! (“What??? How??? You don’t mean “The Moral Vacuum” has done something right, surely?”) 😉

Wednesday, November 8

It’s one of those days when I have felt better—I put it down to an urge to have a frozen meat pie with my veggies last night. Always knew Australian food was dangerous! Fortunately it is my day off anyway.

Comments on the American election will have to wait until it is absolutely clear who has won—unlike yesterday’s Melbourne Cup!

I have been reading a fairly ordinary but diverting (if repetitious) mystery story, J Wallis Martin, A Likeness in Stone. Fairly clumsy structuring of the threads of narrative. Also from the local library and lined up to read are: Brian Masters, The Evil that Men Do, not a feminist work but a perhaps superficial look at notable instances of evil; Lisa Appignanesi, A Good Woman; Russell Banks, Continental Drift . Finally, from the library, is semi-professional reading in the form of Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, A Place in the Sun: re-creating the Australian Way of Life, Harper Collins, 2000. I have heard Mary Kalantzis speak at a TESOL conference, and read quite a bit of her work; it should be highly relevant. I am still browsing The Battle for God, and probably will be for some time. It adds enormously to my knowledge of the religion and politics of the major faiths, and is far from a superficial rehearsal of cliches about fundamentalism. It is historically rich, well researched, and carefully nuanced; fundamentalists would probably not read it, but maybe they should.
A rather admirable figure of 17th century England, John Selden, had this to say:

Scrutamini scripturas. [Let us search the Scriptures.] These two words have undone the world.

There is a lot of truth in that.

7.30 pm So, it is George W Bush. Let’s hope he gets a good team around him. It strikes me, as an outsider, to be a victory for down-home folksiness and money, an odd combination; certainly the Bible Believers will be happier–more “relaxed and comfortable”, to quote an Australian Prime Minister. Foreign policy could prove interesting, and it is certainly no step forward for social policy. Gays, even though there are gay Republicans, could well be weeping; it will be interesting following the comment on Talk City Chat, Planet Out, Gaywired, and other American gay sites. Gays in the military–and of course there are such, just as here–have suffered a big step backwards. Incarceration rates will be worth watching.

Given the significance of the US for all of us, let’s hope Bush rises to the task. He may well.

8.30 pm Well, that may have been premature! I suggest you click on the ABC link for the latest state of the Union!


Thursday, November 9

So–we still don’t know. Contemplate the following in the meantime, which I published earlier this year in my ESL Newsletter at school:

If George W. Bush gets up as President of the U.S.A. we can look forward to some interesting English. Professor Robert J. Fouser of Gakuen University in Japan gives the following examples as perhaps some consolation to Koreans and Japanese trying to learn English; George W is, after all, a native speaker. (SOURCE: The Korea Herald, 1 March 2000.)

 The question we need to ask: Is our children learning?
 There is madmen in the world and there are terror.
 We also know, and you know if you’ve got a relative who wear the uniform, or you got a friend who does so or a neighbour, the morale is low in the United States military today.
 If terriers and barrifs are torn down, the economy will grow. (i.e., “barriers and tariffs”)
 ….a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses (i.e., “missile launches”).

Just visited my mail at Australia.edu, and they informed me of the Planet Project. Check it out, especially from 15 November when you can get to vote on various world issues. If that looks interesting to you, go there.

Saturday, November 11: Remembrance Day

It was good to see a thoughtful review of Nicholas Jose’s lastest novel in The Sydney Morning Herald “Spectrum” magazine this morning. I am still impressed by the mixture of irony and magic in that book, and recommend it highly.

Site news: I hope to upload a few more pictures for the Gallery in the coming week. Also, that “Site Tracker” I have added to the Front Page is rather interesting, as it tells you where your visitors come from; last night there was one from the Netherlands and one from the USA, the rest from Australia.

I have to say that Florida ballot card is the silliest one I’ve ever seen; it is so confusing it should be banned forthwith! A near rival was the Senate paper in the last Australian election. It was nicknamed “the tablecloth” because that is how big it was–about the size of a New York Times! It was very hard to fold, but at least could be filled in by simply checking a box above the mega-list of candidates; you could number them all 1 to 200+ if you wanted; I did, as there were certain people I wanted to put last!


Monday, November 13

Damned damp today–and my arthritis is playing up, making me feel quite ancient. However, I have managed to finish the gallery. All the images are originals now. They are big and look good, but take a while to download. One day I will learn how to reduce them, but I do like the way they look, and they should definitely be viewed full screen.

I bought the latest Quadrant and will have something to say about it soon. Quadrant is obviously on a mission at the moment. Paddy’s spleen about his predecessor, Robert Manne, is showing rather strongly. A strange person, Paddy. He can be entertaining, but seems a victim of his own legend these days. One day we will be able to have rational discussion without journalistic cliches like “the chattering classes”, “political correctness”, or (on the “other side”??) accusations of racism which are not always justified.

Friday, November 17

It has been a good day, then a miserable afternoon, then a nice evening with PK, Ian Smith, James and friends. During the day the highlight was a free-ranging conversation with Master Fu and Feng, 18-year-olds in the “nicest people I know” category mentioned above. The content doesn’t matter–it was a lovely exchange.

Home, and certain problems seem to have returned to square one–and to cap it our washing machine gave up in a cloud of smoke!

Then I sought solace/escape with my friends, and a few beers I have to admit, and yes I do feel better, but apprehensive. Put that aside now. Last night Ian Smith sent me this which has apparently had wide circulation. I think it is very funny.

To the citizens of the United States of America,

In the light of your failure to elect a President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The rt. hon. Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium”. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary”. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”.
2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.
3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard.
4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys.
5. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
6. You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005.
7. You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 97.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. “Merde” is French for “sh*t”.
8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 8th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.
9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
10. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Monday, November 20: in which Ninglun does not solve the world’s problems 😉

If we take a theme that has been emerging here in recent days, prompted by the end of the HSC and the conversations I’ve been having with eighteen-year-olds—being eighteen.

It is an interesting world that eighteen-year-olds have inherited, but a glance at history shows the world I inhabited (but largely ignored thanks to fundamentalist religion) was just as fraught: a month after my 18th birthday Britain applied to join the EEC; the Berlin Wall went up—there was a hit song at the time called “West of the Wall”; the USSR tested a 30 megaton bomb; Eichmann was sentenced to death five months after my birthday; US troops entered Laos; and the day after I turned 19 the first satellite TV link between Europe and the US was made—another hit song was called “Telstar”.

So now I think of globalisation and its impact, of the seeming triumph of a particularly rampant form of capitalism. I am still convinced that the marriage of morality and politics/economics leads straight to some form of democratic socialism; it is greed alone that prevents the rich and powerful from conceding that—and sadly the fact that socialism was brought into bad odour by its bastard child Marxism-Leninism.

How’s that for simplistic nostrums, boys and girls? But I’m a poor old thing who hasn’t been eighteen for a very long time 😉

However, a very strong article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald makes very clear how our neighbour New Zealand has been f**ked over by what passes for political and economic orthodoxy these days—and maybe we are not far behind, though I suspect we are more fortunate in the diversity of our economy and pluralistic state. Yes, sad but true, quite a lot of the f**king was done by alleged “socialists” who became enamoured of market forces and economic rationalism. Anyway, read the article for yourselves—the link will stay valid for a month or two before the Herald archives it.

Tuesday, November 21: World Television Day –did you know that?

Since the most exciting thing lately has been the hunt for a replacement water pump for the washing machine, I thought I’d do a site stats thing. I put that tracker on about two weeks ago, and of course found that quite a few of my visitors are me! However, there are others–26% of them from the USA, 2% Canada, 2% New Zealand, 3% “Other”, then drop-ins from Malaysia, Singapore, Holland and Austria. Where are the Brits??