I never expected to have been blogging (on various platforms) for twenty years, but that’s the case! Almost 21 years in fact, as the prototype “journal” appeared on my Brother Powernote in November 1999, transferring to Talk City in April 2000.
This blog is much newer and was fading somewhat, but this year has seen a revival.
Well it seems this is Post 302! And for that I replay bits of November 2000. Yes, TWENTY years ago!
TIME MACHINE FOLLOWS:
Nicholas’ Jose’s new novel published this month.
Wednesday, November 1
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 🙂
Sunday, November 5: Guy Fawkes Day, Simon H’s and my Uncle Roy’s birthdays.
I am being lazy today and didn’t stir myself to go to Yum Cha, though I will probably go to the mid-month one on November 19. Got a backlog of library books to read, and I also must write/collate/edit my Term 4 propaganda newsletter for the staff at my school: theme this term is racism, so I need to be careful. I shall be naming it “Inclusiveness”.
At the Whole School Anti-Racism Project in-service day last week another staff member, two students and I agreed it may not be a big problem at our very multicultural school, but we also had to admit we did not really know. The previous administration operated a “Don’t talk about the War” approach, with the possible result that certain incidents came in from left field and then blew up, quite dramatically in some instances. It is much better to have an articulated response and set of policies, and the present administration seems very much of that mind too. And yes I do know of quite flagrant examples of racism over the past few years, mostly not at student level. (Would “I’m sick of the f***ing slopes around here” qualify? I suspect it might. There have been occasional more subtle variations on the “We’re being swamped by Asians” theme. ) I hasten to add that a minority is implicated. On the other hand I have had a few complaints about alleged racism that really came down to an individual getting pretty much what he deserved, simply on the grounds of what he had done, not who he was.
Anyone can be racist, of course. You don’t have to be European.
No sermon today–or was there? 😉
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?.
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 monarchial 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.
Sunday, November 19
The mid-month Yum Cha was held this morning at the Emperor’s Garden Restaurant in Chinatown: PK, Ian Smith, Sirdan, English Paul (whose first ever Yum Cha it was) and myself: Mutian and Big Tim were expected but didn’t make it. The food was good, particularly the final custard tarts which we agreed were the best so far. The next Yum Cha will be the first Sunday in December (my God!) at the Silver Spring.
The weather in Sydney has been gloomy, and Surry Hills is still a bit that way too 😉
This Sunday meditation comes again from my trusty 365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, and is actually for November 18 (Southern Hemisphere). It is really for me, but may suit others:
Lines on the face, tattoos of aging
Life is proved upon the body
Like needle-jabs from a blind machine.
The older one gets, the more one is conscious of aging. We can barely remember childhood innocence and exuberance. We are surprised by the youthful vitality and unmarked face when we see earlier photos of ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we reluctantly acknowledge the aging mask. It seems that there is no escaping the marks of life.
Every experience that we have, everything that we do and think is registered upon us as surely as the steady embroidery of a tattoo artist. But to a large degree, the pattern and picture that will emerge is up to us?There is no reason to go through life thoughtlessly, to let accident shape us. That is like allowing yourself to be tattooed by a blind man.
Whether we emerge beautiful or ugly is our sole responsibility.
It is, of course, not the beauty of the body to which Dao refers.