Happy Women’s – and woe men’s – Day!

At least in some parts of the world, there are some signs of progress to celebrate on this March 8, International Women’s Day.

Including greatly improving education for girls in many parts of the globe; increasing participation of women in positions of political power in some places, and growing awareness and anger, if not much action, against income disparities between males and females and against domestic and and various other forms of violence and vileness suffered by women.

Such progress seems to me especially evident in such enlightened locations as Iceland, Finland and the the other countries collectively comprising Scandinavia, and also New Zealand.

But in most other allegedly ‘civilised’ countries, patriarchal prejudices and practices persist in prevailing to a woeful extent despite decades of activism by the forces of feminism and pious promises by the powers-that-be to fix the problem(s).

In my own motherland of Australia, for example, the first and thus far only female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was subjected to a campaign of such vicious personal abuse by then leader of the Liberal-National Coalition, Tony Abbott, that she was inspired to make her justly famous 2021 parliamentary speech that began with the words “I will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man”, and proceeded to put Abbott and his ilk in their places.

These primitive pricks popped back up, however, and the Liberal-Nationals today, 10 years later, are still promising and lamentably failing to deliver female parity with males in the ranks of their MPs and cabinet ministers. And, to add insult to injury, most of the few females it does permit and promote are such bitches as to be as backward as their conservative male colleagues.

All of them having colluded with current Prime Minister Scott Morrison in attempts to minimise damage to the government arising from the rape of a female staffer by a male co-worker in a ministerial office, and other atrocities against women working in Parliament House, as well as the alleged historical rape of a girl by, of all people, a then young man who had since risen to the position of the nation’s Attorney-General.

Now admittedly the very much former Attorney-General, he was finally forced to resign only after a protracted campaign to protect him and his reputation, and a still-prevailing refusal to reveal the source(s) of a million-dollar fund to cover his huge legal costs.

Small wonder, then, that Australian of the Year for 2021 and former child sexual-assault victim, Grace Tame, and the complainant in the case of the alleged Parliament-House rape, Brittany Higgins, are now spearheading an all-out assault against male privilege and female inequality in virtually every sphere from the political to the private.

A campaign that’s rendered all the more powerful by its possible influence on the female vote in the federal election that’s due to be held just weeks from now.

And backed-up by the facts that the already-disgraceful rates of domestic violence in Australia increased significantly during the Covid-forced lockdowns over the past two years, and that an average of one woman dies at the hands of her current or ex-partner every week of every year.

In this is on top of persistent and apparently incurable injustices against women in every conceivable sphere from paid employment through superannuation retirement savings to dire disparities in unpaid housework and child-rearing and rates of homelessness, especially in middle-age.

Most troubling for me personally, however, is that, having long satisfied myself that I was a feminist or sensitive new-age guy (SNAG) at heart, I was comprehensively disabused of this notion by a course of Gender Studies that I took a few years ago at Sydney University.

In fact I discovered to my horror that I was still in many ways unwittingly but nonetheless woefully part of women’s patriarchy problem, and likely incurably so due to the taint of my psyche by the male hormone, testosterone.

A stark reality that gives me and fellow males a regrettable tendency to testosteroam. And that is further attested to at almost every turn, as, for example, when it automatically acts like tits-n-assterone every time I spy attractive adult females in the flesh or even on Facebook, thus hexing my desire to cease and desist in my inborn tendency to regard my sister humans as sex-objects.

Hence my eagerness, or rather crying need, to do whatever I can, from celebrating rather than regretting the increasing testosterosion of old age, to keeping on striving mightily to convince myself and fellow males to think, feel and act in the spirit of International Women’s Day, every day of this and any future year I might possibly have to look forward to

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Fake off, faith fraudsters.

No offence to friends and others who are sincere in what I see as their seriously misguided beliefs that one or other of the 4,000+ contemporary religions is true, as long as they don’t bother me and my family and friends with their fantasies.

But I’m damned if I’ll tolerate being misled and misruled by pretending to piously pray to their alleged gods for the purpose of preying on me, my family, friends and other fellow citizens.

As, most notably in my personal experience, fake Muslims do so mendaciously, malevolently and even murderously on the people of Malaysia, for the purpose of stealing everything from their human rights, their nation’s riches and their nation’s reputation.

And also, though more recently, as fake ‘Christians’ billing themselves as ‘born again’, the ‘religious right’ and sundry other flagrant falsehoods in the U.S., and so-called ‘Pentecostals’ have been attempting to do in my native Australia.

As if other, more traditional so-called ‘Christian’ sects hadn’t already done enough damage to the nation by selectively putting-aside their ‘sacred’ principles in order to commit whatever evil they could possibly wish for, from the dispossession and otherwise dire treatment of the Australian continent’s indigenous people to the bugging of the cabinet room of poor, struggling East Timor/Timor Leste to try and grab more than their fair share of Timor-Sea oil deposits.

Plus, to add insult to injury, the year-long and still continuing persecution/prosecution of the not only the whistleblower in the Timor scandal, but his lawyer into the bargain.

And also, of course, they’ve tried to justify Australia’s joining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as virtually Christian crusades, then in highly un-Christian fashion, left most of the local people they hired to aid them in these at ill-advised if not outright illegal ventures both figuratively and in too many cases literally, for dead.

In short, so-called ‘Christianity’ as claimed by governments in Australia, as in the US and virtually everywhere else in the ‘Christian’ world, has been so subverted and perverted by the powers-that-be and their supporters as to be non-existent save as a cover for covetousness, callousness and outright criminality.

In this regard, so-called ‘Pentecostal’ Christianity is particularly oxymoronic, as it provides the Aussie morons who embrace it, whose number include the current prime minister and many of his cabinet members, party members and supporters, with a self-serving ‘wealth theology’ that’s the polar opposite of Christ-like compassion for the poor and disadvantaged; preaches a doctrine of predestination is totally at odds with the original concept of salvation through good works; and some other beliefs, like faith-healing and speaking in tongues, that are by any reasonable standards Christinane if not plain Christinsane.

How long it will be before this regime regresses from being as Pentecostly as it already has proven for Australians who are neither above-averagely prosperous or outright potentates as well as to the public purse in political pork-barrelling, to outright Penticostealing, as Islam has long been a pretext for on the part of Malaysia’s fake-Muslim governments, is anybody’s guess.

As is how much more Pentecatastrophic it can prove for Australia’s international reputation after already having disgraced the nation globally with its policies of Pentecostormenting refugees and asylum-seekers, and its appallingly pig-headed Penticostalling on action against climate change.

All I can hope right now is that enough of us Australians who remain genuinely Christian in the cultural and ethical sense of this much-abused word, as I and so many of my fellows agnostics and athiests do, combine to elect a new government that’s mercifully free of the curse of Pentecostalism and/or any other fake ‘religious’ sects, be they fraudulently ‘Christian’ or otherwise.

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“Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

These words of defiance that doomed the defenders of Ukraine’s Snake Island to death by the guns of their aggressors the other day deserve to be echoed down the ages by humankind, and backed-up by our deeds against war whores everywhere.

Most topically, of course, to Vladimir Putin, who’s prepared to prostitute himself and his presidential power in pursuit of even greater power for himself and even more plunder for his Kremlin or rather Krimelin cronies and his fellow kleptocrats under the guise of the alleged glory of Mother Russia, by waging war on the people of Ukraine.

Putin, you can go fuck yourself too, for supporting and equipping the separatist ‘rebels’ who committed the atrocity of shooting-down flight MH17, and subsequently protecting them from prosecution.

Vladimir Putin, go fuck yourself also for helping Bashir al-Assad screw the vast majority of the Syrian people the for mere purpose of clinging to power over them and their country.

And you, Donald Trump and every Trump strumpet, especially Fox News, can go fuck yourself for sucking-up to Vladimir Putin for the sake of sustaining your psychotic megalomanic and narcissistic delusions as you continue to shaft the U.S. constitution.

Similarly, UK PM Boris Johnson and every Tory MP and voter, go fuck yourselves for so long welcoming the dirty money of all the filthy-rich Russian oligarchs you’ve self-servingly permitted to

infest the UK, until now, with the invasion of Ukraine, they’ve become political liabilities.

And as for the pathologically lying current Prime Minister of Australia and every last one of his similarly mendacious ministers, members and media mouthpieces, go fuck yourself for your laughable efforts to try and whip-up voters’ fears of war with China, while persecuting refugees from various former wars by falsely labeling them as ‘illegal’ asylum-seekers and holding many of them in detention for years, in order to pander to enough cretinous voters to win you the coming election.

Fuck yourself too, for your ceaseless war on the Australia’s needy and otherwise disadvantaged while ceaselessly pimping for the prosperous and outright greedy, including the fossil-fuels magnates, and for your total failure to try and meaningfully combat climate change and the nation’s environmental degradation.

Plus an extra, special “fuck yourself” to Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who, with the professional support of armies of presstitutes posing as journalists, supports such right-wing regimes as Morrison’s in Australia, Johnson’s in the UK and the Trump-loving Republicans in the US.

Of course there are literally countless others around the world in crying need of being told and if possible forced to go fuck themselves, but I haven’t enough space here, or sufficient time to research them all, to do the task justice.

So I’ll have to confine myself to just a few that are top of mind at this moment and content myself by saying, for example, Myanmar Army go fuck yourself for your continuing coup against the legitimately elected rulers of your country’s citizens; Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia go fuck yourself for continuing to wage ‘holy’ war against the Shia of Yemen; and, to each and every allegedly pious Muslim politician in Malaysia’s Umno and PAS parties, go fuck yourself for robbing your citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, of everything from their human and constitutional rights to billions and billions of their hard-earned ringgit.

And in conclusion, I can’t resist adding a hearty “go fuck yourself” to any reader of this who considers that the language I’ve been using, or rather quoting from the words of the Ukrainian heroes of Snake Island here, more objectionable or outright obscene than all those war-mongers and whore mongers I’ve been directing it against.

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No applause for the manopause.

As quite a few of the women I know well are aged in their late forties or early fifties, many of them are, according to both their personal reports and snatches of their conversations that I can’t help overhearing, going through the menopause.While I, thirty years or so older than them at 79, find myself facing what’s often called the ‘male menopause’ and that I can’t help thinking of as the manopause.

Of course many experts cite the fact that we males by definition don’t and indeed can’t ever menstruate as irrefutable evidence that there’s no such phenomenon as the manopause, period.And I have to admit that these people are right, anatomically and physiologically speaking. But psychologically and sexually I’m manopausing for sure.

But I’m not, thank goodness suffering any of the many moanopausal symptoms that so many menopausal women have to endure, like, as I’m informed by both Google and articles I’ve read in women’s magazines aka hag mags, irregular periods, mucosal dryness, hot flushes, chills, night sweats, slowing metabolism with consequent weight gain, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of breast fullness.

However, when it comes to that most notoriously mean side-effect of menopause, eratic mood swings, I’m your man. Though my rages are largely triggered by the same political and other atrocities that I’ve railed at all my life, and otherwise at myself for getting so old as to reach manopause at all. In other words, I’m hopping mad at the fact that my life seems destined to end not in a climax, but in what used to be called the climacteric. Or as poet T.S. Eliot so concisely expressed it, to end “not with a bang, but a whimper”.

Because, to cut to the chase here, the sole sign and symptom of the manopause is that, despite pharmaceutical defences that drug companies like Pfizer have erected against such emergencies, my formerly steely stiffnesses keep getting viagravatingly limper. And I’m all too aware that this manopausal blow to my sexual skills and self-esteem will at my age prove both manoprogressive and manopermanent.Whereas women, as signified by the old-fashioned euphemism for the menopause, the ‘change of life’ or simply ‘the change’, have years if not decades of renewed existences to look forward to.

Sexually speaking, for a start, they are finally liberated from the problems and pains of PMS and menstruation, plus the possibilities of pregnancy and parturition, and thus fancy-free to enjoy their physicality to the full.

Or, alternatively, they can at last abandon and instead embrace some religious sect in what I can’t help thinking of as amenopause. While many other females turn their finer feelings towards the care and collection of felines, or, in other words, opt for menopaws, menoclaws and menopurrs. And so on.

But I and my fellow manopausals have no option but to increasingly switch from phallic pleasuring of our partners in favour of digital and labio-lingual. Thus effectively, as the late Dennis Hopper, director and co-star of the cult classic “Easy Rider” claimed of himself in his final years, turning lesbian.

Which as far as I’m personally concerned is no bad thing. After all, it’s in the very worthy manocause of focusing our erotic efforts far more on giving rather than receiving. And in any case the only other alternative any of us manopausals have is to settle for living out what remains of our lives as terminally sexless manobores.

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Getting the band back together.

Not to give you an inflated impression here. We’re not a band in the Rolling Stones sense, though I happen to be the same age as Keith Richards, and our most senior member, Sue, is way older than any of the surviving Stones.

Nor are we a band musically speaking, though Sue is, or was for many years, an orchestral violinist, Sandie sings in the chorus one of Australia’s premier opera companies, Kate and Santa both learned piano to advanced levels at school.

And Michael can play only the fool. But not even he or my playing of second fiddle to him, can possibly can make our band reunion as riotous as that of, say, the fabulous Blues Brothers.

But it’s lots of fun for me and my close cronies in our Sydney home suburb of Stanmore, to be getting our Stanmorning coffee and conversation group back together after being banned for months from banding together during Sydney’s now-suspended Covid lockdown.

Thank goodness that our favourite cafe, Mrs. Underwood’s, with her intrepid front-of-house staff Manoela and Sean, kept the coffees coming all the way through those dark days. But because our group and other, fellow patrons were legally required to consume them away from the premises and preferably at home alone, we were effectively forced to disband.

And some of our members went to extraordinary lengths to socially distance themselves from the rest of us. With all opera perfomances suspended for the duration, Sandie returned to her home-base in Brisbane, and Kate took herself off to her home town in the bush to both work online on the program promos she creates for a television network, and also to help care for her ailing aged parents.

But now we’re all finally back together in Stanmore, we’ve not only banded together again, but started recruiting some more fellow Stanmorons like Judy, Robyn and Sandra to our group.

And of course you, dear reader, are entirely welcome to join us as a guest or better still jest member, or even, if you prefer, as a groupie, should you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood.

There’s no joining fee, no set of rules to observe, and not even the obligation to drink coffee, though of course you’ll be all the more welcome if, like the rest of us, you’re addicted to caffeine in some form or another, and especially so if you also appreciate the odd hit of nicotine.

Rest assured that you’ll enjoy being a part of our band, just as long as your tastes in drinks, snacks, companionship and conversation are anything but impossibly bland.

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On the road again!

What a pleasure it is to head a post with the title of one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite singers, Willie Nelson. And what a buzz it was to be out on the highways and byways again with my wife and ever-wanderlusting wife after so many months being Covid-confined to just a few km from home!

We’re back at home-base now, but still tripping on the memories of six days and nights freewheeling around country and coastal New South Wales.

First heading north up the M1 to near Newcastle, then over to the New England Highway to Tamworth and finally Manilla, the small and delightfully sleepy town to which my youngest sister has recently escaped from the city.

And, as we travelers discovered, has made short work of the many travails involved in putting-down roots in her new rural environment, both figuratively in making herself at home in her newly-bought house, and literally in transforming its garden.

 In fact we felt so similarly at home hanging-out with her there inspecting her new plants and sitting out on the front porch watching the birds they’re attracting and wallowing in heaping helpings of hospitality that it was tough to tear ourselves away after just two days and three nights.

But that was all the time we could take if we were to make it to the coast for some of the salt-water swimming that my semi-aquatic spouse had her heart set on after far too many months marooned on dry land.

This quest took us on what we fancied would be a fairly easy four-hour drive, but that finished-up frightening the living daylights out of us both with some of the most death-defying hills, bends and steep ascents and descents that we were almost as burnt-out as our brakes were by the time we reached the relative safety of Taree and then our onsite-caravan accommodation at the quaintly-named coastal haven of Old Bar.

Even more quaint, indeed quite strange, was that the toilet and shower facilities where we’d booked were, as we’d been warned on the AirB&B site, unroofed and thus entirely open to the air.

And also, as it happened, to the rain that set in at dusk and persisted all night. But what the hell, dinner at one of the local Thai restaurants was great, and the drumming of the downpour on the roof of our caravan lulled us both into the soundest sleeps we’d had in living memory.

Unfortunately the wet and rather cold weather at Old Bar, and the fact that the beach, while perfectly picturesque, featured both savage-looking surf and no sign of life-savers proved something of a barrier, swimmingwise.  

So we resorted to our next pre-planned stop, Tuncurry, in high hopes that a combination of its climate and the relative calm of its rumoured seawater rock-pool would be more conducive to swimming.

In the event, however, it proved too icy for even such an indefatigable back-stroker and free-styler as my wife is, so as far as swimming was concerned, our road-trip was a bit of a wash-out.

But we consoled ourselves with another of our favourite traveling activities, which is diving into every charity shop we spot, in search of bargain wearables, books and whatever other kinds of bric-a-brac that takes our fancy, which in this case turned out to be a treasure-trove of indoor plants and pots.

With the result that now we’re back there’s so much gardening work for us to do, both indoors and out, that we’ll pretty soon need to hit the road again to recover from the effort. And this time around, I hope we’ll be taking the high road to Ipoh, Malaysia, and a long-awaited reunion with family and friends up that way.

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Spring cleaning and cloning.

Admittedly it’s all a bit late, as its been officially spring down here in Oz for seven weeks or so, but I’ve finally overcome my lockdown lassitude sufficiently as to swing into the seasonal spirit.

Or rather my wife has, and for the sake of marital togetherness and mutual support I’ve swung into line. Or at least started to, by carrying some of the boxes of surplus books she’s been sorting-out from the heaps of them that have been piling-up around the house and transporting them to local street libraries.

I’ve also finally cleared-away the clutter of pens, sunglasses, papers and other such items that I’ve been keeping handy beside my space at the kitchen table.

Of course I’m concerned that I’ll never be able to recall where I’ve put them if and when I ever need them again, but meanwhile I have to admit that their absence helps make things look quite refreshingly spick and span.

Which is more than I can say for the floors of our flat, which are still looking quite shockingly messy where the piles of books and other random stuff used to be before this bout of cleaning broke out, as my daughter and her partner are currently using the vacuum cleaner that we jointly own with them.

Meanwhile, my tirelessly, indeed relentlessly house-proud spouse has been busy re-filling all the recently-cleaned and decluttered rooms with pots of plants that she’s been cloning from cuttings.

And inspiring if not outright pressuring me to do likewise outdoors. In the last couple of weeks, with her expert assistance, I’ve not only pruned countless plants that have outsprung their pots, but also used the off-cuts to clone most of them.

The reason for this being that those that I put out on top of the wall and in the shop next door’s driveway in the hope that they’d survive the winter, as I wrote about in my “Hanging gardens of babble-on” post way back then, have survived and thrived so successfully as to become a minor local attraction.

Thus, so as not to disappoint their admirers, I’m leaving them out on display and planting cutting-generated clones of them, or in other words their offspring, in my previously cold and gloomy but now increasingly sunny courtyard.

Also becoming much sunnier, as evidenced by the fact that I’m finally writing for fun once again, is my outlook on life, thanks largely to the fact that Sydney’s lockdown rules are due to be relaxed this coming Monday.

So I can finally look forward to a break from all this cleaning and cloning and get back to conversing and clowning around with not only my ever-loving, ever-light-hearted wife and a tiny coterie of close cronies, but also with my wider circle of acquaintances at my at my favourite cafe.

And who knows? I might soon even be able to look forward to climbing aboard a flight to Malaysia for a long-awaited reunion with family and old friends in KL and Ipoh, and finally meeting face-to-face with some of my Malaysian Facebook favourites.

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Wedlucky even in wedlockdown.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun, as evidenced for me by the fact that it’s two years since I wrote the following in celebration of my wife’s and my 25th wedding anniversary, but seems like only yesterday. And now, even after a near-death surgical experience and 18 months or so into the Covid pandemic, I can think of no reason to change a word of what I wrote to mark that marital milestone:

25 years of wedluck

The standard concept of wedlock is a bit too cramped, confining or outright claustrophobic for my taste. Especially considering that it commits if not condemns the happy, sappy couple to a lifelong confinement in each others’ company, with no prospect of time off for good behaviour, until death

I should know. I served two terms imprisoned in wedlock before I met my present and I hope final wife, and both ended not in death, but very prematurely indeed, in dearth.

A dearth on my part, mostly, of such vital virtues of a fair if not fabulous husband like patience, forbearance and above all unfailing willingness to bear the heavy husburden of keeping myself husbound to my promised intention to forsake all others.

In short, for my conspicuous and at times despicable lack of such qualities, I was husbinned by both women with whom I successively but unsuccessfully attempted wedlock, and so deservedly so that in hindsight I consider that after the second failed attempt I should have been outright husbanned for the rest of what remained of my life

.Back then, despite treasuring the son born of my first metaphorically abortive attempt at husbandhood, I felt like a total hus-been, and thus vowed to never again be so husblind as to try kidding myself that I could so husbend myself as to behave husblandly enough to hack yet another attempt at the dreaded wedlock.

And of course it was just as I’d thus given up all hope of having a marital rather than a martial relationship with a woman ever again, my wedlock deadlock was broken by a piece of amazing wedluck

.Not that I was aware when I first met my now wife in Hard Rock Cafe, KL, that she’d be my next wedding belle, or even, for that matter, bedding belle, but I sure as hell liked her just swell.The only hitch being that she happened to be my junior by 29 years, and, as I gradually started to gather as our friendship progressed, a potential handful from hell.

Preposterously plain-spoken, feisty to a fault, and apparently wedded to such refreshingly un-little-womanly, not to mention unwifely attitudes as ‘what you see is what you get’, and ‘like it, lump it or get lost’.

In short, I came to realise that she was far more true to herself and far further far-out rebellious against custom and convention than I’d managed to become in more than double her span of years, and thus possibly an even worse candidate for wedlock than I’d twice proven myself to be

.For example, though her own parents were evidently most happily hitched, she perceived matrimony in as dim a light as I’d come to view it: as more like madrimony, with a tendency to soon decline into matrimoany, and eventually even further into martyrmony, for one or more likely both parties.

And also like me, she saw monogamy, with its inevitable, indeed inherent, monotony, as almost certainly destined, indeed doomed to descend from its initial high of honeymoonogamy down through the mutual dullnesses of moanogamy to the depressing depths of disenchantment, disinterest or outright disgust, or monughamy.

But after co-habiting as friends and lovers for a spell, we finally decided to legitimise ourselves as parents for our darling developing darling daughter-to-be, and take a chance not on wedlock, of course, but on what we felt was our amazing wedluck.

Naturally, in the time since she switched from waif to wife, or, if you prefer, sweetheart to spouse, the young woman I first knew has changed somewhat. For example, politically she’s switched from apathetic to apoplectic, and professionally from ad-chick to academic. But such changes have been merely skin- rather than sin-deep, thank goodness, and thus essentially she’s still as spicy as a spouse could be, and as saucy a source as ever of entertaining trouble and strife.

The very phrase ‘trouble and strife’, coincidentally, being both cockney and Australian rhyming slang for the word ‘wife’ .A fact that finally brings me to the point of this piece, which is to say that, at least for me, her other half in this exercise in what some may perceive as weirdlock, married life has been, and shows every sign of continuing to be, as long as we both shall live, and continue to not take but give, a wonderfully happy and often hilarious wedlark.

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After all the atrocities I’ve witnessed in my life, mostly, by good fortune, from a safe distance, I’m amazed that I still find them so appalling and take them so personally.

Or would be if I wasn’t such a devotee of scottish philosopher David Hume and his writings about human sympathy, in the light of which I’m astonished, indeed aghast at the fact that so many of us alleged humans remain dedicated to denying and defying our common humanity.

The latest case in point, of course, being the slaughter of Afghanis and others outside Kabul airport by agents of terrorism so crazed by sectarian errorism as to we willing to kill and maim others to achieve their myth of martyrdom.

But ISIS-K, or whoever the agents of this outrage were, are far from alone in their guilt for this latest Afghanistain on the world’s conscience.

Most obviously, at least to some observers, is that it’s yet another stain on the reputation of a rampaging US, whose inability or even unwillingness to learn lessons from history, even from history as relatively recent as written in Vietnam and Iraq, is enough to Afghanistrain belief.

But even more fundamentally, it’s an Afghanistain on the reputations of religions and their murderously competitive sects, in this case Sunni and Shiite Islam, for preying on both the the incredible credulity of their ‘faithful’ and on the lives and livelihoods of of those they condemn as infidels.

Not to mention an Afghanistain on Islamic theocracies like terrorist-inciting Iran and the governments of Islamic-majority countries ranging all the way from Yemen-sacking Saudi Arabia and self-destructing Syria to the fatally corrupt and incompetent now former US-backed ‘legitimate’ regime in Kabul to the Muslim kleptocracy misruling Malaysia.

Then, not to selectively revile the various versions of Islam, there are all the self-styled ‘Christian’ countries that continually Afghanistain what little remains of the reputation of what they claim to revere as the religion of peace and compassion by ceaselessly waging wars against supporters of The Prophet for the purposes of power-politics and military-industrial profit.

And as Afghanistained as much if not more than any of the ‘Christian’ nations involved in this latest ‘crusade’ is my own country of Australia.

Which not only sent troops to support the US and its many other allies in what has turned out to be a monumental misadventure, but failed to mount timely investigations into alleged war crimes by a small minority of them, but has also apparently done nothing to save Australian citizen Julian Assange from persecution and prosecution for his Wikileaking of information about US war crimes.

These armchair warriors have also quite literally left many of our Afghan-war veterans for dead after their repatriation, to judge from the shocking rates of suicide and other symptoms of PTSD they have suffered.

And they’ve made merely token efforts to help refugees from Afghanistan, leaving those who’ve already arrived here in a temporary-protection-visa limbo or else endless offshore detention, while leaving thousands of Afghani-Australian citizens and local translators, guides, embassy guards and others who’ve worked with and for our troops, in the lurch in the ongoing shambolic withdrawal.

Conveniently forgetting, or possible never knowing in the first place, that Afghanis played such a proud role in pioneering modern Australia through their operation of camel-trains from back in the 1860s to carry freight back and forth between Adelaide and settlements to the north that they they’re fondly memorialised in the name of the present-day Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin rail line, The Ghan.

Small wonder, then, that I and so many of my fellow Australians, especially veterans of this accursed war, are so Afghanashamed of our government’s typically callous lack of Christian compassion for the Afghan refugees that it’s left to the tender mercies of the Taliban and ISIS-K.

And thus more and more of us are hell-bent on taking an Afghanistand against the PM Morrison and his whole lying, vote-buying, minority-bullying, morally bankrupt or in other words monstrously hypocritical majority Pentecostal-Christian government in the fast-approaching Federal election.

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Like watching grass grow.

For most of my life, this has been my favourite simile for near-terminal tedium, as in waiting for the bell to bring down the curtain on seemingly endless schooldays, or longing for agonizingly boring religious sermons, political speeches, business meetings and such to finally finish.

But these days, now that I find myself in both my dotage and the latest Covid lockdown, there are few experiences I find more exciting.

Watching my wife’s indoor pot of pet ‘Live Wire’ grass grow, for example, and being struck with wonder at the way the tiny, translucent flowers on its stems sparkle like droplets of dew in the sun streaming on it through the window.

Or witnessing the way that so-called Mondo Grass (actually grass-like Ophiopogon planiscarpus, for the information of botany buffs) sends up green shoots that turn so dark purple as to look almost black, and impatiently waiting for the spikes of lilac flowers that the tag it came with promises that it sends up in summer before they turn into black berries.

Or, on a much larger scale, scanning the lawn area at the house of my daughter and her partner for the first signs that the buffalo grass we planted there last year could be soon starting to awaken from its winter slumber and getting ready to celebrate the approach of summer.

Of course, as I’m sure many readers are itching to inform me, there are countless other more exciting sights to see and activities to engage in, even at my age and in the grip of lockdown-induced cabin fever.

But unfortunately, the most serious symptom of the cabin fever aka stir-craziness resulting from long-term lockdown is, at least for me personally, a downswing in mood. Complete with all the usual symptoms of depression, including sleeping too much, physical and mental listlessness and, most troubling of all, the dreaded anhedonia.

In other words, a virtually total loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, which in my case include a long list ranging from reading, writing and watching TV and movies to stimulating conversation and sex.

No point weltering in this slough of despondency or gulch of gloom, however, so I’ve been making concerted efforts to rise above it. Striving to raise my own spirits and by extension those of my family and friends by resorting to every trick in the book, from writing however much it’s against my will, through as much social interaction as possible during lockdown, to watching the Olympic Games with my wife.

Who herself is not as irrepressibly gay, in the ‘cheerful’ sense of the word, as usual, despite her heroic efforts to vaccinate herself against catching Covid-lockdown lassitude and poor attitude from me by treating herself to massive doses of online yoga and creative cooking.

But, superwoman as she is, even she can’t work miracles, so I’ve put myself onto as strict an anti-anhedonia program as possible. A self-prescribed course of treatments comprising not only writing and Games-watching, but also having (take-away) coffees with as many close cronies as I can manage to find wandering out on the streets, conversing with my very best friends online, and scrolling through Facebook for posts that I find uplifting in every conceivable sense, from the spiritual (as distinct from the religious, of course) to the sexual.

And when all that doesn’t work, as is all-too-frequently the case, my last resort is, to get back to where I started with this post, sitting around witlessly watching the grass grow, and seeing signs of its seeming to be growing faster by the day as the Sydney winter warms-up towards spring.

All the while, naturally, striving to avoid becoming re-depressed by witnessing the world’s grossness grow on every conceivable front from governments’ failures to control the Covid pandemic to their refusals to act seriously to combat climate change.

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