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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Sunday, 30 November 2003
I'll have what she's having
Congratulations to all the intrepid souls who participated in NaNoWriMo - an exercise in writing a fifty thousand word novel in a month - and completed the task. (I don't want to think about what I did or didn't do in November: onward and upward.)

I have a friend's website that I'm trying to get a hosting resolution for now (and the haggling I've been doing at work trying to get a new scanner could help here). I'm tinkering about with my own website though I mainly add links as that is the easiest path to results and, for some daft part of my brain, the most fun.

Not that I'm not pondering over nested tables and stylesheets and CGI script. I'm currently reading Absolute Beginner's Guide To Programming and my particular absorption of the material won't be a threat to my programming friend at IBM but it does help me understand what I'm doing in a way that some of the manuals, that go into detail immediately, do not.

It's quite possible that this latest library book is a ruse on the stubborn part of my brain that doesn't want to get down to it, to stall for time. But I am mainly reading it at those times when I can't be spinning webpages anyway. And it is helping.

I have scaled back on my library borrowing as I used to take out heaps of books at once and have a fragmentary reading experience whereas now the only items I borrow in number are the CDs.

I don't have any sinister plan to rob artists of their copyright. I take out CDs for the same reason I borrow books - because I'm curious as to the content but not necessarily interested in adding this or that piece to my collection. I like a lot of what Midnight Oil did and so of course I wanted to have a listen to The Real Thing disc even though I'd more likely buy 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
And it is handy to listen fully to what an artist produces to see whether you like them. In this way I've decided george and Something For Kate are boring and The Eels are not.

Posted by berko_wills at 11:26 PM EADT
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Saturday, 29 November 2003
But what does it taste like?
I did try to post an entry before I left but the link was down. And I've been away for three days on a retreat; most excellent. It was a series of presentations for university admin staff, an opportunity to network, and a welcome break away.

At one point a presenter said they objected to the term 'non-academic staff'; being defined as not being something else. But this can have its uses>I am a:

non-sports fan I watch Wimbledon sometimes, I laugh at Roy and H.G. sometimes. I'm bemused by the Footy Show and The Fat and even Live'n'Sweaty (despite Andrew Denton being the host). I'd never 'sit and watch the game'. I'm not tempted much by pay TV as I'd never watch the sports channel. And if you want to defeat me in Trivial Pursuit stump me at the end with sports questions.

non-motoring enthusiast I go to two main spots in the newsagent: rock rags and comic books. I've been known to have a browse through writing magazines and current affairs journals. But the racks of car mags do nothing for me. I like the look of old cars but I know I wouldn't be prepared to spend my weekends chasing parts for the Zephyr or the Oldsmobile

non smoker swallowed nicotine poison when I was two (thought it was cordial) and have little tolerance for it

non-handyman I was only handy on the farm because I was physically strong and could put up with going round and round in circles (a major part of farming). But fixing things has never been my forte.

non member of anything. I have joined all kinds of organisations. But I don't stay. PK list is the exception that proves the rule.

non-entrepreneur the one I rail against since I could imagine myself happy pursuing some idiosyncratic goal and profiting from it into the bargain. But it doesn't come naturally.

non conservative for the most part.

nonchalant

nonsensical

non partisan this partly stems from my debating days when I could argue equally well for either side and partly from being Libran.

Posted by berko_wills at 2:51 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 29 November 2003 4:39 AM EADT
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Thursday, 20 November 2003
Drink it Freddy!
We would have little hope understanding the language of the future as so much of what we write and speak is predicated on new technology and the adoption of jargon that is deliberately non-inclusive.

Consider what a time traveller from a hundred years ago - even forty years ago - would have made of expressions like 'click your mouse', 'depends on how much ram you've got' or 'do a web search'. Perhaps they would be reassured that we still had a strong connection to animals (a different thing to animism. Thank the all pervading spirit for edit function).

"Prithee fair maiden" features low on the list of chat up lines (I don't know this for a fact but it's a fairly safe bet). Who knows how it would have been received when freshly minted. Language, especially the flowery and overblown kind, can become gauche; grating on our nerves, it wears out its welcome.
And "Gadzooks!" has probably passed being used for comic relief; a sure sign of being archaic.

I don't think, even now, that experts can agree on which words we should fight to preserve, which vulgarisms we should struggle to avoid. Do we permit the portmanteu, accept the acronym, approve the abbreviation? Do we have a choice? We can always bide our time and hope that, say, wicked will return to its wicked ways or that sick will spike a temp

Citizen 2040 won't necessarily have a richer vocabulary. The lingua franca will shrink and grow, meanings will become clearer at times and more muddied at others. Idiomatic expressions will give the denizens of newly created borders the same kind of problems in translation as in the past.

Posted by berko_wills at 1:47 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 22 November 2003 5:25 AM EADT
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Tuesday, 18 November 2003
Beba-o preto
Deixe-nos beber a natureza verdadeiramente internacional do Internet e do mundo Correia fotorreceptora larga Deixar nos para levantar nossos vidros elevados a ligar as linguas que nos n?o compreendemos e costumes nos n?o podemos compreender. Beba, beba, meus amigos!



Posted by berko_wills at 12:09 AM EADT
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Sunday, 16 November 2003
One more for the road
Too tasty to resist: a bloody marvellous article on David Bowie and the occult.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:25 AM EADT
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Knocking them back
Just like an argument on religion, this topic seems not to let go. But I did think I should mention that there was a time, not so long ago, when you were defined as either a card carrying Christian or in opposition to this; as an atheist or agnostic. With fledgling multiculturalism in the early seventies, we now have a plethora of nonChristian faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Bahai, Islam, Judaism...
There's probably even a few Zoroastrians, who are interesting for the many similarities between Zarathusthra and the Christian 'Son of Man'.

Satanists, of course, as with atheists and agnostics, are largely defined in relation to belief in Christ. (We don't think of atheists as 'not believing in Vishnu' after all.)But then Ceremonial Magic and study of the Kaballah are also closely aligned, even if their practices would dismay the average churchgoer.

You didn't think I'd miss an opportunity to post a link to witchcraft did you? Because that is again on the ascendancy. Though jostling with the more costly and trendy New Age.

Having religiously documented all the things I can think of that might see you bowing down, lighting candles, chomping devotionally, or otherwise sitting crosslegged and contemplating the ineffable, I'm done.

Posted by berko_wills at 2:47 AM EADT
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Saturday, 15 November 2003
Invalid port
It's refreshing when something is given a lowkey title (such as the drink that this entry is named for) Look around and everything from the dishwashing liquid to the fine crystal is marked somewhere as being brighter smarter better altogether.
The other thing that is great about Invalid Port is that it is (I think) officially named to rhyme with palid but, as a favoured drink for the down at heel, is usually rhymed with


bugger, not even the rhyming dictionary would come to my rescue for this one, choosing the easy option of salad.. the word I want here is roughly rhymed with 'cinder bid'. Or it's a synonym for a word rhyming with 'tipple'
Anyway you get my drift. Either usage connotes doing it rough; the very opposite of chablis, I should think.

While we're on the subject, no the title of this blog does not point in any way to my own drinking prowess, which is dwarfed by three quarters of the population of this fair nation. I'm not saying I'm a two pot screamer or a buttoned up wowser but I only drink socially for the most part. And since my social life is also somewhat parsimonious, this means I'm not a big support to the liquour industry.

A couple of more quick points about religion before we move on: I have personal experience of the Church of England, having boarded at one of their boy's hostels in high school and trudging off to church with all the other lads every Sunday. But my own background is with one of the multitude of prodestant churches called rather plainly, the Church of Christ. Now most of my family on my mother's side were all members of this church and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that there wasn't a lot of choice around the Mukinbudin District. I doubt you would have found a Lutheran or Assembly of God within coo-ee of the place.

My parents wore their religion lightly but we did say grace before meals and I used to go to Sunday School in Bonnie Rock once a fortnight. I believed in God when I was ten, I can remember. And investigating different faiths was something of a hobby for years, although I know they say you're meant to take it more seriously than that.
I'm even still officially a Jack Mormon, I guess, as I signed up with them when I was seventeen or so and living with my grandparents.

It took me some years of spiritual fartarsing round before I gravitated to witchiness and I wear that at least as lightly as my parents did Christendom.

Posted by berko_wills at 10:58 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2003 9:14 PM EADT
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Monday, 10 November 2003
Dutch host
This was the original intended title for this blog but the politically correct folk at Tripod wouldn't permit it. I suppose it does have racist connotations: it's a term that stems from a period when the British were battling the Dutch and refers to someone who invites people to a dinner or party but is drunk before they arrive!
(I'm just relying on Tripod not looking this closely or they'll censor this as well)

Anyways sharp-eyed followers of this column; which presumably is all five of you, will have noticed some omissions from the last post. Yes we have a veritable cornucopia of ecumenically nomenclatured acts. In addition to those named, there is the sixties group Kevin Bible and The Book, eighties group the New Christs and current pop combo Superjesus. On the other side of the fence is/are the Hellmen


Posted by berko_wills at 1:44 PM EADT
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Sunday, 9 November 2003
Consecrated whine
And you thought I'd run out of titles. No chance. I've got a million of them (okay at the rate I post I might still run out)

Anyone looking at the Australian music scene could get the impression that either we're a devout society or we obsess over our religious colonial beginnings. Consider the names of some of our preeminent bands: The Church, The Saints, The Angels, The Choirboys, The Godmen, God, Man Bites God (okay, well that might be stretching it!)

I like to think it has something to do with our cheeky irreverence. Certainly none of these bands have a song catalogue that will turn up any time in a Christian Youth Camp to replace "Morning Has Broken" or "Rock My Soul In The Bosom of Abraham"

Our census statistics still suggest that most of us are nominally Anglican though it's long been held as an article of faith (heh) that there are many bodies buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery for no other reason than that they didn't have a declared belief.

Posted by berko_wills at 12:07 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 9 November 2003 12:19 PM EADT
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Thursday, 6 November 2003
Old soak
[Originally posted on The Grassy Knoll]

As for the ramifications of the Patriot Act; I still think that the US cannot see the forest for the trees. McCarthy was out persecuting people and trying to shut them up or shut them down because they were (allegedly) in cahoots with an organisation whose greatest sin was the way they smashed dissent and denied individual freedom. Had the American people at an essential level understood the grim irony of this position it might have given them pause.

But most of the fervent patriotism I see coming from there is still of the moronic yeee-hhaaaa flag-waving kind with no real thought whatsoever. 'My country right or wrong' must be one of the most insidious notions ever concocted because if an adminstration takes the helm that does NOT have the average joe's interests at heart, they'll still go on merrily shafting themselves and handing ove their rights for some mythical 'greater good'. This is no better, in any sense, than the same brainwashing in mainland China, in the former Soviet Union, or in any other nation where 'the State' takes on an autocratic life of its own and rules the people instead of serving them.

Our Anzac Club - a group for retired servicemen and women - has the motto They Only Deserve Freedom Who Are Prepared To Defend It. I'd want clarification because that sounds stupid from where I'm sitting. I would want to know how long I have to surrender my freedom (until the threat is passed?) before I have a right to regain it and thereby give it meaning. If I never have freedom, and there is nothing in the system I serve that will look like giving me freedom then I am defending a lie; a pretend freedom. And what value does my future freedom have if I have lost my independant will or been permanently scarred by the experience of first defending it?

If I have to defend my freedom but some shirker indirectly benefits from it then am I to be given cold comfort by sneering at them that THEY don't deserve it?

So if the old diggers are going to have such a contentious statement on their wall then they need to hire a patient and skilled mason or scribe to etch all the subclauses and codicils that should emanate. And that would just look messy. Better to get a decent slogan to begin with.

Besides it is a weak statement because if we apprehend what freedom really entails then we have an automatic right to it. The fact that there may be hostile forces ready and willing to take that away from us (including those on our 'own side') does not take away from our right to it. An analogy would be insisting that in order for a business to run, it should have all the necessary security features, alarms etc whereas no the merchant has the RIGHT to have his gold trinkets on a trestle in a crowded marketplace. His right here is not, and should not, be impinged by the inevitability of some scum stealing it. Of course he would be foolish to leave it so unguarded but that is an entirely different proposition to saying that he has no right to be a merchant in the first place.

The thing about the Patriot Act is that it doesn't guarantee its citizens freedom; it does the opposite. So it should be opposed for being against the American Constitution, its founding fathers and all it purports to stand for. This rather spins past some vague thing called an 'opinion' and has ultimately fuck all to do with partisan politics.

We had an Australia Card proposal by a social democrat government, which would have seen every individual's details stored at one central chip. It was so vehemently opposed that the plan was abandoned, as it should have been. American needs to treat the Patriot Act the same way.


Posted by berko_wills at 1:50 PM EADT
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