Vaccination vexation.

Is anybody else out there as sick to death as I am of the mass-debate that’s raging about whether, when and with which of the available vaccines to get anti-Covid shots?

No matter, I’m vexed enough for all of us by all the ever-vocal anti-vaxxers, vaccination vacillators and other varieties of pro- and con-vaccine factions.

As far as I’m concerned personally, the simple aim of vaccination action is to achieve community immunity so we can all get out of lockdown as soon as humanly possible.

But even a great many of us who are crying-out for our jabs are finding it tough to get the job done due to the cretinous if not outright criminal degree of what can appropriately be called laxination on the part of our governments.

Down here in Australia, for example, where anti-flu vaccinations have for years been routinely administered with considerable efficiency and effectiveness, the powers that be seem pretty much on vacation when it comes to anti-Covid vaccination.

Having months ago vowed that he and his federal-government varlets had vaulted Australia to the ‘head of the queue’ when it came to vaccine supply, Prime Minister Morrison has now revised his story in the face of his typical failure to deliver.

And as if his and his regime’s vividly-evident laxination and slackcination, vaccinewise, haven’t been sufficiently vexing, they’ve simultaneously been vehemently denying the need to replace the nation’s highly-suspect hotel-isolation system with proper, purpose-built quarantine facilities.

Thus unnecessarily both endangering the lives of the local population and denying thousands of Australian citizens stuck in catastrophic Covid situations in India and elsewhere around the world their right to repatriation.

But mention of India reminds me that my own and other Australians’ vaccination and related vexations are trivial in comparison with the vast majority of people in less prosperous countries around the world, where the urban and rural poor facing the Covid pandemic are being literally left for dead.

And their praying to whatever gods they worship clearly doesn’t work. Quite the opposite, in fact, as massively-crowded ‘religious’ festivals have themselves caused fresh waves of Covid infections and countless fatalities among both the faithful and their unfortunate infidel contacts.

This appears to be the case in Malaysia, where numbers of infections and fatalities have soared since the relaxation of masking and personal-distancing precautions for the sake of Hari Raya shopping-sprees and celebratory gatherings.

And the same racist and religionist government that chose to close one eye to the all-too-predictable risks of this sectarian permissiveness is proving every bit as lax as Australia’s in getting the population vaccinated.

So that a good many Malaysians are, like the people of the Australian state of Victoria, now languishing in lockdown, and thus have as much if not more cause to be vexinated with their national government’s Covid vaccination and quarantine failures as I am with mine.

And every bit as eager to finally vaccinate their country as I and increasing numbers of Australians are against more of such vacuous, venal and outright vicious misgovernment by giving the incumbents the chop – or, in a word, axinating the bastards – at the earliest electoral opportunity.

I have to confess that I’m not too optimistic about this, however, as Malaysians haven’t yet even managed to Razakcinate their country against kleptocratic former PM Najib and his cronies; and far too many Australians seem unwilling or unable to factcinate themselves against Morrison and his minions’ pathological mendacity.

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Hair-raising happenings.

While the continuing Covid pandemic should be more than enough to provoke me into a pendemic/pundemic of writing or at least typing, I’ve paradoxically been panicked into silence lately by the plethora of other hair-raising events in recent times.

The most mysterious of these in a personal sense has been Facebook’s sending some people an alert that I’ve posted a new piece of writing, when in plain fact I haven’t.

To my surprise few days ago, new comments started coming in about “Thank goodness it’s Freeday”, a trifle that I published way back on May 15, 2020.

Then my wife informed that, as others apparently had, she’d received notice that it had just recently appeared, or rather re-appeared.

“What fresh hell is this,” I asked myself, thus quoting the late, great wit Dorothy Parker, as I am often wont to do. Is there some glitch or ghost in the Facebook machine, I wonder, that’s taken to sending my past back to haunt me?

Or has some hacker or other such jerk-off hi-jacked my site and taken to plaguing me and my readers with what he or she considers to be jolly practical jokes?

Speaking of which, I’m also totally mystified by the small but steady stream of comments and friend requests I’ve long become accustomed to receiving from jokers of both/all genders who somehow manage to look at my Facebook pic and misjudge me to be female.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a typical case of this has occurred on the recent re-post that has me tearing my hair out. Apparently totally misled by the sight of my 1960s-style and thus unfashionably-long blond hair, a muddled but well-meaning gentleman has made the comment: “Hi how are you doing, wow am amazed by your beauty and Breathe taking smile, i really would Love to know you better , you so cool and i can imagine a woman with a beautiful heart of gold in you, Please Kindly send me a message or preferable a friend request lets get to know ourselves better, i hope to hear from you soon..”

Not, as I hasten to assure you, that I mind being mistaken for a miss, ms, mrs or even for a mr/miss/ms/mrs mixture. Bisexuality, as Woody Allen has so truly remarked, doubles your chances of a date on Saturday night.

And also, I might add, makes you highly desirable as a key member of those most delectable of sexual groupings, MMF or FFM threesomes, or even of outright orgies.

But despite the thankfully small minority that so misconstrue my hairdo and general appearance as to convince themselves that I’m female or even, for all I know, shemale, I remain totally heterosexually male.

Incurably so, in fact, as I discovered some years back when extreme poverty inspired me to try a part-time gig as a paid ‘male escort’ or, in other words, as I headed the unpublished and probably unpublishable account I wrote of this experience, ‘geriatric gigolo’.

A female phoned and booked my services for a romp with her and her ‘boyfriend’, but when I showed-up at the appointed time and place I was met by a lone guy who alleged that his female partner had decided to leave him alone with me so he could discover whether, as he suspected, he was gay or bi.

As things turned out, he managed to not only convince both himself and me that he was most certainly either one or the other, but also that I was definitely neither, so utterly did I fail to rise to his most determined challenges.

But enough of sexual confusions, ghost posts and other such concerns, as they’re absolutely trivial, indeed hare-brained compared with all the truly hair-raisingly scary situations facing us all these days.

Most top-of-mind among them, of course, is the ongoing Covid catastrophe in India, Brazil and countless other locations, which should but probably won’t serve as an object lesson to citizens of these and countless other countries to stop repeatedly electing corrupt and incompetent governments.

Like the current one in Australia which, while greatly assisted by this country’s geographic isolation in keeping Covid at bay, has so long neglected the need to invest in purpose-built mass-quarantine facilities that its Border Force, which farcically facilitated a dangerous outbreak of the virus last year by permitting infected passengers to disembark from the cruise ship Ruby Princess. And now it is threatening the thousands of Australian citizens desperate to return home from India and elsewhere with massive fines and/or jail terms if they do so.

There are lots of other decidedly hairy situations to worry our heads about too. Like the murderous military coup against the democratically-elected government for Myanmar, for example.

I can’t help feeling that this is a bit on the karmic side, however, as Prime Minister-elect Aung San Suu Kyi and a great many of her supporters have long been far more badist than Buddhist in their attitudes to their country’s persecution of its population of Rohingya refugees.

I think I’ll call it quits here for now, before I totally depress myself and everybody else. But just a quick note before I go to the effect that even as I’ve been writing this that another old post of mine has made its appearance on Facebook.

And, as it’s clearly identified as a repeat, I have to assume that there’s nothing mysterious, let alone hair-raising, about this at all. Probably just another feature of the FB algorithm, about which I made some hot-headed remarks a month or two ago in a post entitled “Algrrrrithms”, and thus not really worth having another bad-hair day about.

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The hanging gardens of babble-on.

They’re certainly no rival for the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which went to rack and ruin, or, if you prefer, Iraq and ruin, centuries ago.

But on a day like today, when I’m even more than usual feeling the urge to risk writing something unduly personally and maritally revealing, or simply outright risqué, at least my new hanging gardens are a safe topic to babble-on about for a few hundred words.

The inspiration for what for me is a first in my horticultural history came not from a megalomanic or even grandiose desire to emulate one of the wonders of the ancient world, but from the simple fact that here Down-Under it’s the season of autumn, or what North Americans call the fall.

And as far as my house-garden is concerned, the term “fall” has been by far the more appropriate. Because with the gradual seasonal fall of the sun toward the horizon, the amount of light falling on most of my plants has fallen so close to zero that a great many of them had started to show signs of failing.

Clearly they had to be given more access to sunlight if they were to survive, let alone thrive, through autumn and winter. But how?

My daughter and her partner most kindly offered me space for my light-starved potplants in their far sunnier back garden. However, the thought of all the hard-labour involved in transporting them there and then back home again in a few months’ time was simply too much to bear.

And it was then that the truth of the old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” came to the rescue. What about, I thought, placing the most sun-deprived and thus most likely doomed of my potted plants on the wall separating one side of my wife’s and my abode from the adjoining footpath and street?

Warming to what at first struck me as a bright if not brilliant idea, I reasoned that this ugly concrete-block structure is in the sun all day long, whatever the season, and wide enough on top for small-to-medium-sized pots to stand with sufficient stability to be safe..

And the plants in them would hang down most attractively as they grew in the sun, instead of drooping and no doubt eventually dying in the shade where they were. As with every good idea, however, there were possible downsides.

The first that struck me was that, if the wall was/is about six feet tall at its highest point and five feet at its lowest, thus making it possible for me to water plants sitting on it, what was to stop passers-by from purloining them for themselves? Or from the perhaps even worse fate of being pushed off the wall by vandals for the simple, perverse pleasure of destroying them?

But despite such misgivings I persisted with the project, and now, weeks later, I’m very happy that I did. Not so much as a sign of theft or vandalism so far, either attempted or actual.

In the early stages I had mixed feelings on these scores; my gladness that my plants seemed perfectly safe from heist or harm mingled with a sense of sadness that maybe it was because nobody had even noticed that the poor things were there.

But now that most of them have survived and even been revitalised in their new, sunlit spot, and a few have even taken to hanging down a little and even flowering, I’ve observed that they’re starting to attract a few people’s attention, or even admiration.

So for the next few months, all I really have to do is keep them adequately watered while I’m hanging around waiting for spring. And in the meantime, instead of copping-out as here, today, by writing about gardening instead of other unduly controversial or unwisely confessional subjects, I’ll have to come up with some alternative trivial topics to keep harmlessly babbling-on about.

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Space spices-up spousehood.

As I wrote a couple of years ago in “25 years of wedluck”, as a long-time husband I have a horror of becoming a husbland or husburden and thus nothing but a source of woe to my wife, and she enthusiastically shares in this sentiment.

So we liven-up our life together by spending lots of it apart. Even if, as long dictated by Covid and our respective activities, it’s usually within the same flat, or, more appropriately, given that we’re so often in separate spaces, apartment.

After wishing each other a quick “good morning”, we start most days apart; she with a session of yoga in the living room, while I talk a walk to the local café for a chat with one or more of my coffee cronies.

And by the time I stroll home she’s already started working away on her desktop in the living room at her day job, which involves both tutoring university students and marking their academic assignments.

So it’s time to give her the space, peace and quiet she needs for these duties by repairing downstairs to do some gardening, writing or, as I frequently do at the same time, clothes-washing.

Then, most days we even eat lunch apart, especially now that isolation rules have been sufficiently relaxed as to permit my wife to sometimes go to work on campus instead of at home on her lonesome online.

Thus, having been in separate spaces for much of the day, we both have news to impart about what we’ve been up to, before, as we customarily do, repairing to the red couch and relaxing together watching some of our favourite TV shows.

And when these are over, often as not it’s time to say “goodnight” to each other before retiring to our separate bedrooms. A practice that horrifies most people that hear of it, as they consider sleeping apart to be tantamount to a degree of separation little short of divorce.

But for my darling spouse and I it signifies that we can still enjoy the delights of dating, as in “your room or mine?”, when it comes to sexing rather than sleeping together.

And also spares us the wakefulness that we’d otherwise experience due to my increasingly frequent nocturnal trips to the toilet in my old age, and her restlessness due to back and other joint pain.

In other words, sleeping apart vastly helps us to avoid becoming total pains in the neck to each other.

As, of course, and even more so, does holidaying apart, as we happen to be doing this weekend, with my wife taking a well-earned break from the stresses of both her professional and spousal existences by embarking on a four-day road trip out the bush with her friend Nora.

Not to mislead the cunningly lingual among you to imagine that the word ‘bush’ suggests that there’s anything even remotely sexually suspect or other than purely platonic about this, as Nora, as far as I know, is totally and exclusively hetero.

But nothing in human affairs is absolutely perfect, and I’m sure my wife will have a terrific time exploring new places, seeing fresh sights, and generally reveling in a few days of relief from both her workaday routine and the virtually inevitable husbanality of my continual if only occasional company.

For my part, of course, as my ever-loving spouse had been joking for weeks before her departure on her driving adventure, it’s a golden opportunity to throw a four-day party.

But, as you see by the fact that I’m here slaving away at the keyboard as usual, this is by nomeans proving for me to be a “while the cat’s away” situation.

Most obviously because I’m such a has-been husband as to be happily housebound on my own these days, but also because my wife was my vastly preferred partner in crime and grime back when we were both partied to the absolute max, and still is.

In other words, rather than welcoming this brief separation from my spouse as an “out of sight, out of mind” opportunity to let my hair down, as I almost certainly would have in previous lives and with previous wives, I’m seeing it as proof of the old proverb that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Or, to express this a tad more alliteratively, as is my wont, “yonder makes the heart grow fonder.”

In any event, I have to admit that I no longer have any party-animal friends or even acquaintances. With the sole exception of my spouse, of course, for whom I sadly have to wait two more whole days and nights to add spice to my life, and hopefully also to hers, by joining me in celebrating her homecoming.

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These boots were made for…

When I booted-up my laptop in the hope of doing some writing this Sunday morning, I didn’t have a single – or, if you like – sole idea of a topic.

And then it occurred to me that I’ve never ever written a word about my favourite, in fact only, items of footwear. A dozen or so pairs of boots that, unlike the pair made famous by the old Nancy Sinatra song, are most certainly not made for walking.

In fact, if you were to be unkind, you might be tempted to suspect that they’re made for wanking. Because most of my collection are ‘western’ or ‘cowboy’ boots that, given that their Cuban heels are more suitable for horse-riding than getting around on shank’s pony, and, as back when I ran some cattle on a range out west of Sydney I rode a motor-cycle instead of a steed, are really just for show.

Only one pair that I possess is made for working, and they’re low-heeled with treaded-rubber soles and elastic or what are often referred to for some mysterious reason as ‘laughing’ sides.

When I’m flush with funds I usually buy genuine, original Blundstone-brand work-boots, but I must have been a bit low on cash back when I invested in my current pair, as they’re cheap Blundstone imitations called ‘Jackeroo ’that I saved lots of bucks on at K-Mart.

But they’re just as good as the real thing for the comparatively little dirty-work I do these days, which mostly, now that my cow-punching career is long behind me, involves nothing any more arduous or adventurous than gardening.

Most of the other work I currently do is, as you see here, writing. And for as wanky a task as many people with real jobs consider this to be, any of my many pairs of tooled-leather, Cuban-heeled cowboy boots are just perfect.

Ideal for idling-away hours in the saddle or, if you prefer, chair, riding herd on hordes of words, or for strutting my stuff at the local café whenever it’s time for a caffeine break.

The only problem with my wanky boots being which ones to wear on any given day. A task more difficult than it may seem to some, as all of them are my equal favourites for one reason or another.

For example my oldest pair, and my dearest in both the sentimental and original-price sense, are the dark-red stingray-leather ones I bought thirty-odd years ago in Bangkok.

But naturally I’m careful not to put these on too often, for fear of finally wearing them out. The ones I’m wearing today, as I’m sure you can hardly wait to know, are the newest that I possess, a stylish combination of fawn and red suede with subtle blue and yellow fancy stitching.

If only I had the faintest idea of how to send you a picture of them, I’m almost sure you’d admire them as much as I do. But I’m aware that you wouldn’t envy me them if you happen to live up in Asia or wherever else you’re supposed to take your footwear off before you enter the house.

You’d be all too aware, of course, as one of my Malaysian colleagues at a KL ad agency that I worked in years ago apparently wasn’t when he stumped-up a small fortune for a splendid pair of snakeskin cowboy boots, that they’re a terrible temptation to thieves when left out on the doorstep.

And that, like my hapless friend was, you could be reduced to the pitiful state of staring suspiciously at every fellow male’s feet for the next few weeks in a vain attempt to spot the culprit red-footed, so to speak, and try getting your boots back.

Thank goodness, due to my disgusting occidental habit of wearing my boots everywhere except to bed, and storing them safely indoors, I’ve never lost a pair to larceny.

And in any case a great many of them have been quite a steal, dollarwise, as I’ve managed to pick them up second-hand. With the result that my collection of both new and pre-broken-in boots has continued to grow to such an extent that it’s becoming quite a feat to rotate them, as I mentioned above that I do to make them last.

Especially since my darling wife has taken to regularly buying me yet more of them on the net. A thought that reminds me that I just can’t wait for the arrival of the latest pair that’s allegedly on the way.

Because while my favourite items of footwear may be of more use for wanking than walking or even working, it strikes me that they’re also a great metaphor or meme for kicking-out governments like those of Myanmar, Malaysia, Brazil and Australia, to name just a few that walk all over their citizens and thus urgently need to be given the boot.

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“Little prick” postscript.

      This piece is intended to reassure two old (as in the long time rather than advanced age sense) and dear friends who kindly contacted me on Messenger to express their anxieties for me after perusing my previous post, and any other readers who may be similarly concerned for my physical and mental health.

     Yes, I admittedly did turn up for my appointment with destiny in the form of my first AstraZenica shot two days ago. And for all those who suspect me of thus flirting with fate, I’m happy to be able to report no sign whatever so far of anaphylactic shock or any others in a long list of potential after-effects.

     Though of course I can’t be too sanguine yet about my chances of surviving the vaccination, as the rare blood-clotting condition associated with if not caused by the AstraZenica agent reportedly takes between four and ten days to rear its ugly head.

     All that being said, however, I’m aware that most readers of my “Just a little prick” piece will be in suspense, not about my post-jab well-being so much as whether the lady who administered it prepared me for the experience by uttering that magic but menacingly ambiguous phrase.

     And I can now reveal that she didn’t, thus disappointing me and no doubt many of you too. Instead, in the event, the best she could come up with as she prepared to plunge the needle in was the comparatively simple and straightforward caution that I “might feel a slight sting.”

     Which I did, I suppose, though it was far, far slighter than many other stings I have experienced physically from such sources as sunburn and insect bites, or psychologically from painful rejections of my social and/or sexual advances and countless other similarly stinging and otherwise painful pricks to my self-esteem.

     A thought brings me sharply to the point of this piece, which is that my initial dismay at being deprived of more opportunities to try and entertain myself and even perhaps you with word-plays on the word ‘prick’, has been greatly diminished by my subsequent realisation that ‘sting’ can also has serve this punny if not particularly funny purpose,

     Because the entire anti-Covid vaccination campaign in Australia has been a series of stings as in con-jobs on us citizens by the Morrison-led federal government.

     The first sting was Morrison’s attempt to Morriscon us months ago into believing that Australia was at the “front of the queue” for supplies of vaccines. And since then he’s attempted a whole series of other typical Morriscon-jobs on us. First claiming that it was the fault of the European Union that not enough vaccine doses had arrived here, and that the various Australian states had been slow in dispensing those that were available.

     And now he’s desperately trying to Morriscon us into trusting the AstraZeneca vaccine if we’re over 50 years of age, and waiting for the Pfizer or other one if we’re younger, having meanwhile himself received the Pfizer one, and probably also having thus safeguarded his own family.

     The all-too-predictable result of this series of stings is that only a tiny proportion of Australians so far have fronted-up for their jabs, or, if you prefer, little pricks, and the numbers of vaccine vacillators like my aforementioned anxious Facebook friends have absolutely soared.

     As, I presume, have the numbers of the absolutely numb-minded among us, the anti-vaxxers.

     But as far as I’m concerned personally, it’s a case of so far, so good, AstraZenecawise, and I’ll be happy to keep you posted on my progress with further postscripts; always presuming, of course, that I manage in the meantime to avoid my own post-mortem.

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“Just a little prick.”

I just can’t wait for my first dose of an anti-Covid vaccine that’s scheduled for tomorrow morning, because during the long, weary wait for it the suspense has been almost killing me.

As always, for a start, I’m dying to discover whether the medical professional who administers the shot will prepare me for possible pain with what I have found to be the phrase most commonly employed for this purpose, and which I have employed for the headline of this piece.

These words are always well-intended, I know, but far from diminishing any physical discomfort I may experience from the jab, always strike me as so ambiguous as to send me into agonies of self-appraisal.

Not, as I hasten to assure you, because I have any anxiety in the penile dimensions department, having long come to accept that about average seems both adequate to me personally and perfectly acceptable to my partner(s).

But in the psychic rather than the physical sense, the reminder of what a right little prick I’ve all too frequently been, or at least behaved like, in the past, and presumably remain capable of even at my present advanced age and late stage, I find painful in the extreme.

Admittedly the theory of human psychological development that I most admire, the one famously proposed by Erik Erikson, posits that we face inner conflicts in each of eight stages of life, and by successfully resolving these in each stage we can advance to the next.

Thus, or so Erikson’s story goes, we evolve from infancy through childhood, adolescence, adult good-sense and so on until, if we survive long enough, we experience and hopefully resolve the ‘integrity Vs despair’ conflict of senescence.

However, as I can’t help being reminded by the “just a little prick” message, according to Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis, which he brilliantly explained in his best-selling book “Games people play”, we are all forever capable of reverting to earlier psychological life stages, and that we veer wildly between the ‘ego states’ of child, parent or adult even from moment to moment.

Thus each of us can be an ‘adult’ responsibly driving a vehicle at one instant, a ‘child’ reacting with road rage at the next, and a ‘parent’ punishing ourselves for being so easily upset by others’ behaviour after our fit of childish rage is over.

Certainly this is all too evidently and often embarrassingly true of my own behaviour. And I don’t have to examine my entire life’s history to illustrate this. In the space of just this morning, for example, I’ve already switched from my inner ‘child’ who tried to refuse to get out of bed, to my inner ‘parent’ who made me do it anyway, then to my inner ‘adult’ who proceeded to a favourite café for coffee and grown-up conversation with one younger and another older female friend, and then to my inner ‘adolescent’ or even ‘adulterer’ (neither, I think oddly, not mentioned by Eric Berne) at the sight of attractive women on Facebook.

So you can see that I’m perfectly reasonable in hoping that my vaccinator won’t spoil my morning tomorrow by, albeit with the best of intentions, reminding me what a right little prick I’m doomed to be forever being capable of behaving like.

Nor, I fondly hope, will he/she mention the word blood, as that would only cause me a quite unnecessary stab of anxiety about the one-in-a-million chance of experiencing AstraZenica-related clotting.

And would additionally trigger my inner child’s infantile rage at all the bloody clots, from outright Covid-deniers, through anti-vaxxers of all varieties, to the members and ministers of the current Australian Government who’ve once again so vividly revealed that they’re incurably clueless and truthless in their seemingly endless vacillations when it’s come to rolling-out this vaccination program.

Even worse, it would even further enrage me at the fact that that some people, like, for example, Brazil’s president Bolsonaro, who are such supreme bloody clots when it comes to caring for the welfare of their people that they’re absolute bloody blots on the human race.

A thought that serves to console me a little that, as much of a little prick I apparently can’t help being at times, despite Eric Berne’s expert assistance with pin-pointing my ego state at any given moment and, if necessary, changing it for the better, the world is full of far bigger and badder little pricks than I could ever possibly bear to be.

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Horticulture versus warticulture.

     I know, I know. Incurable optimists and proponents of positive thinking will reprove me for not counting my blessings, looking on the bright side, and monkeying around making an effort at seeing, hearing and speaking no evil. But there are times when I just can’t help letting life get me down.

     Like today, for example, when one of my principal refuges from the woes of the world, horticulture, is once again feeling more like warticulture, fraughticulture, or even as my friend PV has suggested in a comment, hurticulture.

Because the bandicoots about which I wrote almost a year ago in posts including ‘Guardin’ the garden’, ‘The garden plot thickens’ and ‘Bandicoots and BNdicoots’, and long ago thought I’d banned from my small plot of land, are back.

     Or maybe they’re not the same band of bandicoots as before, but new bandirecruits that are so busy bandirooting-up my plants once more. But whatever, they’re going to be the banedicoots of my existence until I can bandiboot them out, or, if you prefer, persuade them to exporticulture themselves away someplace else.

     And I’ve got the same problem with the kind of love that’s even dearer to my heart than horticulture, human amourticulture. Because while everything’s as much a Garden of Eden as ever in my consorticulture, daughterculture and moreticulture departments, there are so many serpents in the grass, worms in the apple and other forms of warticulture around in the wider world as to threaten to overwhelm my feelings of adoreticulture with abhorticulture.

     Closest to home for me are the revolting revelations of rape, sexual abuse, whoreticulture and rorticulture that have been breaking over Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra in recent weeks.

     I have to confess that I have mixed feelings on this matter.

On the one hand I’m both sad and mad as in angry about all the allegations of rape and other forms of sexual abuse of women.

And on the other I’m glad that it’s the current Liberal-National Coalition federal government that has been revealed as going so feral, as these scandals could spell the end of its efforts to turn parliament into its partisan parliarment and Canberra into its own Conberra.

Or, when it comes to accepting the scientific and starkly evident reality of climate change, or taking any action whatever to ward it off, Can’tberra.

But, as Prime Minister Morrison/Morriscon/Morriscan’t so self-destructively remarked last week about the recent Women4Justice march on Parliament/Parliarment House in a misguided attempt to appease female voters, at least his regime doesn’t shoot protestors on the streets.

A statement that, however flawticultural it was proved to be in the opinion of feminists, and indeed all of Morrison’s enemists, was at least a change in that it was true, and drew attention to the slaughterculture currently being inflicted on the people of Myanmar by its goreticultural generals.

I’d like to go on a good deal longer about all the other flawticultures and aborticultures that I’m feeling soreticultural about today, like, for example, the perennially Planet-plaguing problem of human greed for power and possessions, or what can appropriately deplored as more, more, moreticulture, and get back to some healing horticulture.

 But after a couple of hours and 500 words or so of hard thoughticulture here at the old keyboard, I’m so tired I need a nap. Or, in other words, a retreat from all the nightmares of wakefulness into the blissful unconsciousness and hopefully sweet dreams of snoreticulture.

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Rain reigns.

Maybe I suffer from water on the brain, as my darling wife is fain to complain, because I really am somewhat insane on the subject of rain.

While recognising that rain can be a bane for those who, like my spouse, hail from Malaysia or some other similarly wet and humid domain, to me it’s hardly ever a pain.

In fact there are few greater pleasures than falling asleep, or even, as I am here and now, trying to stay awake and do some tapping on the keyboard, to what the old Cascades classic calls “the rhythm of the falling rain”.

Or, come to think it, now that I’m musing on music, feeling as delighted as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid did when I’m outdoors and realise that “raindrops are falling my head”.

Because that these song-celebrated “pennies from heaven” are very likely also falling on the gardens, parks, farms and bushlands that all too often in this land Down-Under, are both figuratively and literally dying for a drink.

Or even a life-saving sip. After all, as the old local cliché goes, Australia is the most rain-poor continent on earth after Antarctica, even though sometimes, like today, it pours.

In fact it’s a continent and country of extremes, as expressed in the most celebrated work of one of our most famous poets, Dorothea Mackellar (1895-1968), the first verse of which goes:

I love a sunburned country

A land of sweeping plains,

Of rugged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

This wild oscillation between too little or even no rain and far too much is doubtless what explains, if not in my wife’s view excuses, my obsession with the weather. Or, in other words, with the question of when it will rain, or whether.

As I rather dimly understand it, this significantly depends on whether the so-called Southern Oscillation across the Pacific Ocean is in the grip of El Niño, its heating, drying and bush-firing of Australia phase, or of its opposite, the cooler and rainier La Niña.

The most extreme example of this switch between the two that I recall ever experiencing, was back in 1972, when I and my wife at the time bought a farm near the town of Wellington, about five hours’ drive west of Sydney.

As my beloved now London-based son will surely recall, at the time that we closed the deal and decided to take-up residence at this property, it was looking depressingly like a desert as a result of year after dreary year of what the local old-timers deemed a once-in-a-century drought.

But the very day we moved in it started raining, and didn’t stop until the creek between our homestead and the town was impassably flooded, and the formerly parched soil was so waterlogged that our car, Landcruiser and tractor kept getting bogged.

And just recently we’ve seen a similar switch, from the heat-waves and firestorms of our ‘black’ summer of 2019/20 to the far greener summer and now autumn of 2020/21, during which the customary sun, sand and seaside holidays have been mostly a series of drizzly or showery brollydays, and today, as for the past week, it’s raining, as they say, cats and dogs.

While of course welcoming the rain, I’m always sad to see that so much of it that falls on the city goes down the drain. And even sadder to witness the woe it causes people in the country when too much of a good thing causes rivers to overflow and flood farms and towns.

As is happening right now in a great many districts north of here, and even threatening parts of Sydney itself. With the result that, as fervent a rain-lover as I am and presumably always will be, I wish that at least the heaviest of the downpours would stop.

But I’m afraid this won’t happen until the currently-reigning La Niña finally either rains herself out, or, if you’d rather, reins herself in.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming more and more angry at algorithms that are not nearly as artificially, let alone smartificially intelligent as they and their creators apparently imagine that they are.

A particular example of an algorithm that inspires my angst is the one that Facebook employs in its sadly misguided aim to target me with only the posts and match me only with the people it thinks it’s figured-out that I’d prefer.

Presumably one of the ways in which it attempts to plot my preferences and prejudices is to record the items and individuals I click on.

But, as efficiently and accurately as it performs this, let’s face it, relatively simple arithmetical task, the algorithmic decisions it then proceeds to make on this evidence are alarmingly lacking in rhyme or rhythm.

With the result that, while it aptly interprets the love-hearts I plentifully award to posts of and by attractive females, and acts as a positive galgorithm to give me more, it’s a complete malgorithm in its inability to interpret the ‘ha-ha’s I give to pests promoting UFO sightings, alien conspiracies and other such piffle as meaning that I can’t stand them.

Similarly, it seems saddeningly, maddeningly incapable of making up its mind whether to be the palgorithm, botanicalgorithm, animalgorithm, satiricalgorithm, comicalgorithm, or, in short, the algoodrithm that I personally prefer it to be, instead of an alGodrithm that persistently permits the pious to prey on my patience with posts about praying.

Speaking of preying, however, the Facebook algorithm is in this sense vastly preferable to the one employed by the current feral federal Australian government’s welfare agency, Centrelink.

For years Centrelink pestered and punished its hapless clients with a program dubbed Robodebt, which was based on an algorithm that allegedly identified people suspected of rorting the system and receiving payments larger than they weren’t entitled to, or weren’t entitled to at all, and automatically demanded repayment from them.

The trouble was, however, as it eventually turned out, that the Robodebt algorithm was a total Robodud at distinguishing between the truly-indebted and the genuinely debt-free.

And though the courts finally deemed this scheme illegal, and the government was forced to repay around a billion dollars to its innocent victims, this wasn’t much consolation to those who’d been figuratively hounded to death in the process, or literally driven to suicide.

All of which puts my misgivings about my mistreatment by Facebook’s algorithm seem pretty petty if not totally trivial. A thought that reminds me of how much happier I’d be with it if only it didn’t, in addition to alGodrithmically annoying me with cod religious beliefs and malgorithmically with UFOlogy and other such foolish fantasies, keep trivialgorithmically irritating me with such idiotic inconsequentialities as Harry and Megan’s Oprah interview.

But hey, that’s enough writing for now. Time to get back online and take a look at Facebook, and see whether its algorithm is performing algoodrithmically in my favour or algrrrrithmically against me today.

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