But on the cigacredit side…

In my previous post I now realise I was a trifle too negative in my cigarhetoric about having to cigaredit my cigaraddiction out of my cigawriting life.

Because so many people, cigareaders and non-cigareaders alike, and even those so extreme in their opposition to smoking that to them the very thought of it is outright cigaheretical, proved positively supportive or at least sympathetic in their cigaresponses.

A few, of course, expressed good cigariddance to what they perfectly accurately perceive as a habit that’s as filthy as its potentially fatal, but the majority of commenters proved to be kindness itself in expressing a range of reactions from feelings of total empathy to intentions to fall to their knees in prayer.

But as profoundly cigagrateful as I am for all of these signs of friendship, the one that I find most cigaresonates with me is a caution that signing-on for thoracic surgery at my age could be kind of cigareckless, and that thus I should consider letting sleeping dogs, or in this case lung lesions, lie.

Certainly I’d be lying if I didn’t see this suggestion as the chance of a win-win situation: no further need to dread undergoing a highly cigarisky operation, and thus a great cigarexcuse for cigaresuming smoking and simply hoping for the best, as previously.

On the cigacredit side of my continuing to quit smoking, at least until my complete cigarecovery from the proposed thoracic procedure, is that I find breathing somewhat easier.

Then there’s the far-from-insignificant cigareduction in the cigarexpense of my wife’s continued enjoyment of smoking tobacco whose price continually cigarescalates, even on the black market where I buy it.

Most cigarewarding of all, however, is that, perhaps for the first time in my adult life I’ve sufficient sense of smell to fully appreciate every olfactory delight from the deliciousness of my wife’s cooking to the scent of approaching Spring in the air.

And, just as soon as the bandicoot-repellent stench of Dynamic Lifter fertiliser disperses from the garden, this coming Spring should be especially redolent of the freshness of home-grown vegetables and the fragrances of flowers ranging from sweet peas to mexican-orange-tree blossoms.

Not to mention those two to me most compelling of all natural perfumes, the smell of rain on dry, dusty soil and the glorious aroma of new-mown grass.

And all of this the result of weeks of hard gardening by my wife, my daughter, her boyfriend and yours truly while we’ve been confined at home by COVID-19.

Of course, talk of gardening inevitably reminds me that, as least for a smoker, perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this or any other form of hard manual labour is the taking of regular cigarest-breaks, traditionally known in the Aussie vernacular as “smokos”.

So I’m sure you can well imagine that, during my current short stint as a temporary or even terminal non-smoker, I’ve been finding my smoke-free smokos decidedly frustrating.

But hey, here I go getting all cigaregretful again when I’m supposed to be looking on the cigacredit side of quitting smoking. Which only goes to show, I suppose, that despite the positives I’ve mentioned, I’m thus far by no means committed to quitting.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Because at this very moment, all I can think of is how very much I’m looking forward to finding some plausible cigarexcuse to justify my burning desire to as soon as humanly possible quit quitting.

 

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Cigaretteless and cigawriteless.

As only the pitifully few surviving smokers in my already highly- select audience are capable of appreciating, my forsaking of cigarettes for the past fortnight or so has left me so cigarestless that I can hardly sit still here at the keyboard, let alone cigarwrite anything worth cigareading.

So, as I hasten to assure fellow tobacco fiends and also reassure myself, thank goodness that my physical cigarestlessness, mental cigaretardation and other such cigarwretched symptoms of my cigarettelessness are only temporary.

I’m not so cigaregretful of my 57 years of smoking as to quit or cigaretire from it at this late if not terminal stage. Especially having so relatively recently written such declarations of defiance in the face of the forces of anti-smoking activism like “Butt out, anti-fag nags!” (https://deanjohns.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/butt-out-anti-fag-nags/) and its sequel, “And now, cigarats!”

The fact is, all I’m doing is taking a cigarest from cigarettes for the minimal period of four to six weeks specified by a thoracic surgeon as a condition of his agreement to attempt the ‘minimally-invasive’ removal of a suspicious lung lesion I’ve now had for years.

Having eluded all attempts by medical science to identify it by means of X-rays, CAT and PET scans and even a needle biopsy, this mystery object has, in the absence of any definite identification, been given that diagnosis of last resort, “better out than in”.

And consequently its removal has been scheduled for September 14, but only on condition of my solemnly promising not to take even a single puff of a cigarette in the interim.

Or, in other words, and more appropriately, my my giving a solemn undertaking not to smoke and thus raise the already cigaregrettably high cigarisks of death by anaesthetic or post-operative infection.

In case you’re wondering about the obvious right now, which is why I don’t tell the surgeon a lot of cigarot about quitting for the duration and just keep on smoking regardless, forget it, just as I’ve had to.

Because pre-surgery I’m booked for a 2-hour battery of tests that will surely reveal whether I’ve been cigaratting on my promise to go at least temporarily cigaretteless, and my operation will be rescheduled or even totally cancelled in cigaretaliation for my failure to self-cigaregulate my behaviour.

So, as deeply uncigaready as I feel to cease all my cigaregular activities like cigarwriting, cigareading and sundry other such life-cigariching activities, here I am two weeks or so into my pre-op cigarettelessness, and looking at another four weeks to go.

Whether these will prove as much of a cigarwrite-off as the past two have been, of course I can’t tell for sure. But one thing’s for certain, and that’s that if I survive the cigarextraction of this cigarotten lung lesion, I’ll hardly be able to wait to get back into my old, accustomed, cigarette-smoking rut again.

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Extra-wife strife.

A male member – in both senses of the term, obviously – of my family-in-law in Malaysia, long divorced from his first wife and apparently happily married to his second, has put the cat or rather pussy among the pigeons by announcing his intention wed a new, additional woman.

In other words, he’s planning to graduate from serial monogamy to bigamy, and, given that as a Muslim Malaysian male he’s permitted up to four wives simultaneously, perhaps eventually all the way to polygamy.

As I’m sure you can well imagine, many of his relatives, especially the female ones, are in quite a flap about this. For several reasons, the most obvious of which is their sense of sympathetic sisterhood with his existing spouse, who’s not only young, attractive and presumably still sexually active, but also the mother of his two-year-old son, and thus seemingly in no way deserving of such shabby treatment.

Treatment that’s even more shabby than is customary in such cases, considering that she left her own country and family and also abandoned her former religious faith in favour of Islam for the sake of what she surely must have presumed would be monogamous marriage with this guy.

And even more shocking to her must be the fact that the woman for whom her husband is proposing to half-replace her is not, as is customary in such cases, a newer, sleeker, spicier spouse with superior breeding potential, but a childless divorcee of an age that puts her past her reproductive use-by date.

So why, I and many others keep wondering, is he so hell-bent on playing this polygame? I’m told that the sole explanation he’s been offering anybody who asks is that he doing it out of a similar sense of compassion for his new intended that The Prophet famously showed in wedding the widows of three of his warriors.

But where’s his compassion, some of us can’t help wondering, for his existing wife and the young son she’s given him, but also for the son from his first and now former wife who’s spent most of his decade or so of life being passed around like a waif?

Speaking personally, as an infidel with some knowledge and experience of infidelity, I’m cynical enough to suggest that this alleged compassion for the new wife-to-be must surely contain a considerable component of sexuality, or, in other words, comepassion or cumpassion.

In which case it seems to me that it would be far easier more fun to keep the new woman as a mistress rather than going to all the trouble and strife of taking her as a wife.

Or even more potentially come/cumpassionate for all concerned, not to mention way cheaper than establishing and maintaining two separate households, to all agree on a so-called “polyamorous” arrangement in which the core couple remains married or otherwise committed, while lovers for each or both parties are free to come and go.

Of course I’m all-too-well aware that such suggestions are ridiculous in the circumstances, which happen to be both Muslim and Malaysian, and thus totally biased in favour of male convenience in matrimonial as most other matters.

In theory a husband who finds himself lusting for more variety in his sex-life, or longing to spread his seed more widely, or both, in theory needs the consent of his existing wife (or wives) to marry an extra one.

But in practice, as everybody knows, he can always marry a foreign wife in secret, or just proceed with the marriage regardless of how grudging or ill-gotten the existing wife’s consent may be, as the guy we’re talking about here seems hell-bent on.

Despite the fact that, as he’s bound to learn from bitter experience, he’ll soon be so doubly bored with sharing himself between only two wives that he’ll find himself yearning for yet a third woman he finds extra-worthy of his com/come/cumpassion.

 

 

 

 

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Missing old Uncle Sam.

Having grown-up feeling grateful to the US of A, firstly for saving my own and the rest of the word’s sorry asses from Nazism and Nipponism, then for leading a war-shattered world back to peace and material prosperity and stirring our souls with everything from rock ‘n’ roll to its resolute defence of democracy, I miss its avuncular presence in the world.

Because the Uncle Sam of whom I was formerly so innocently and naively such a total fan has turned out to be such a sham.

My first reality check in this regard, as I recall, were the embarrassing or, if you prefer, embarrUSing anti-Communist witch-hunts whipped-up by that notorious nutter Senator McCarthy back in the 1950s.

And the virtually simultaneous revolt of white bigots, especially in Southern states, against President Eisenhower’s enlightened attempts to racially integrate the nation’s schools and universities.

Then, in the ‘60s, came that mother of all fiascos/fiUScos, the Vietnam War, and all its consequent squandering of lives, countless trillions of taxpayer dollars and, due to its support of an undemocratic, cowardly and corrupt South-Vietnamese regime and its eventual humiliating withdrawal if not defeat, a catastrophic loss of US credibility as a paragon of global power for the good.

While back home disunity ruled, due to the still-hotly-debated assassination of yet another president, followed by strident anti-war and, as usual/USual, more anti-racism protests.

And here and now, today, paradoxically, the self-styled “home of the brave” is afflicted with a leader so craven as to have dodged the military draft by means of the doubtful claim that he suffered “bone spurs”; and the “land of the free” can dubiUSly boast the highest rate of imprisonment of citizens on the planet.

I could go on and on historUSising here about Uncle Sam’s countless shams and scams, but that would give you the mistaken impression that I’m so disenchanted by the US as to be totally disgUSted.

While, on the contrary, I’ll always be thankful for the countless gifts its given me. Firstly, as mentioned above, freedom from the threat of being a subject of imperial Japan’s intended ‘Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere’, and since then virtually countless others.

For example, the first book I recall my father’s reading aloud to me and my siblings, Mark Twain’s great “Huckleberry Finn”; the first rock n rollers, like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis (ElvUS?) Presley and others too numerous to mention; a close-up view of the first Saturn rocket launch and first moon landing; the joy of reading such journalists as Tom Wolfe, David Halberstam and above all the supreme critic of all the failings and faults he deplored in his beloved America, the ‘Sage of Baltimore’, H.L. Mencken.

But, like the great Mencken, if on an altogether more miniature scale, I do have to admit to disappointment that the nation I’ve so long admired for being united in its regard for the enlightened ideas and ideals enshrined in its constitution is actually so riven by idiotic ideologies as to be in many ways its own worst enemy.

There’s nothing fun, for example, but a great deal that’s mental as insane about fundmentalist Christianity. Nor is there much profit in capitalism enabled or encouraged to such extremes of greed as to constitute outright crapitalism. Or freedom of speech when it extends to freedom to screech packs of lies and peddle pernicious neo-conservative propaganda like Fox ‘Fuck the Facts’ News and its ilk are permitted go get away with in support of the same Republican Party that was adorned by the great ‘Honest’ Abe Lincoln, and now so disgraces itself as to support the grUSome Donald Trump.

In the process having so perverted Lincoln’s vision of government as being “of the people, by the people, for the people” to something more like “of the people, by the rich people, forget the poor and otherwise powerless people.”

Especially those people, like Bernie Sanders and his supporters, who are so idealUStic as to call for more economic, social and medical equality for all, as well as protection from the increasingly dire degradation and dangerous warming of their living environment.

Protection too, and even more pressingly, from the coronaviral pandemic, about which, as with every other issue, the monstroUSly mendacioUS present POTUS, Donald Trump, has so persistently and poisonUSly obfUScated that this plague has taken such a world-beating toll of his people that it could justly be termed the coronavirUS.

And yet this hopelUS, uselUS, brainlUS, gormlUS and altogether fatuUS fraud still has the shamelUSness to try provoking conflict if not combat with China in a desperate scam to scare enough witlUS voters into supporting his bid for a second term in office.

 

In short, and in merciful conclusion, I hope I’ve made it clear why, with all his admitted imperfections, I so much miss old Uncle Sam, and so greatly wish there was some prospect of a replacement for him who’d turn out to be worth a goddam.

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Bandicoots and BNdicoots.

A couple of months ago I posted two pieces called ‘Guardin’ the garden’ and ‘The garden plot thickens’ about an invasion of what all the mess and mayhem it was committing suggested was an animal called a bandicoot.

I couldn’t tell for sure, as, according to my wife’s extensive online research, bandicoots are entirely nocturnal and thus extremely difficult, or, as in my case, impossible to catch sight of.

But because this inoffensive-looking little creature looks decidedly bandicute in pictures I’ve seen of it online, and is a protected species to boot, and any case wasn’t causing too much damage, I decided that it was a case of ‘live and let’ live.

And in any event, I figured that it would move on to greener or at least grubbier pastures as I expected it would when it exhausted its supply of grubs, worms and such in my small patch of soil.

But no such luck, I’m afraid, as this bandicoot has shown no sign whatever that it ever intends to bandiscoot.

In fact it not only seems be be settled-in permanently, but also, I strongly suspect, in addition to feeding-off my garden beds, has revealed itself to be a randycoot that’s breeding in them to boot.

In short, my bandicoot problem has become so serious and persistent that it reminds me for all the world of what can justly be perceived as Malaysia’s perennial BNdicoot predicament.

For those unfamiliar with Malaysian politics, I’m referring here to the corrupt and also in many other ways criminal coalition of parties called Barisan Nasional(BN) that’s been in control of the country for all but two of the past sixty-three years.

In the process not only causing as much ruin to the country as my bandicoot(s) have to my courtyard garden, but also breeding so many similarly greedy offspring as to threaten its very destruction.

How or when Malaysia is ever going to get rid of these billionaire BNdiclots is anybody’s guess. But, thanks to my wife’s research and advice from an expert at The Ashfield branch of what I think of as Australia’s hardware-and-garden-supplies heaven, Bunnings Warehouse, I have a plan for banning my bandicoots.

A two-point plan, in fact, that involves leaving the floodlights on every night because they don’t like the glare in their eyes during their nocturnal activities, and simultaneously assaulting them with ammonia.

Not, I hasten to assure you, by poisoning them with this powerful chemical, but by subjecting them to its pungent fumes, which they reputedly hate.

So, having left the garden lights on for the past few nights, I’ve now spread an ammonia-emitting fertiliser called Dynamic Lifter all over the place, and as soon as the rain stops I’ll add rags soaked in cloudy ammonia to my arsenal.

I hope to hell this multi-pronged approach works, because if it doesn’t, but I’ll also be lost for an alternative.

As I’ve already mentioned, bandicoots are both too bandicute and legally protected to bandishoot. And I’m assured that they’re so there’s no point in catching and relocating them elsewhere, as they’re so territorial that they keep coming back.

So I have no idea what I can do if the all-night lights and the lashings of ammonia fail to convince these banes of my existence that they’re forever bannedicooted.

But at least I’ll have plenty of company if this worst-case scenario comes to pass, in the persons of almost 30 million Malaysians who clearly haven’t the faintest idea of how to for once and for all rid themselves and their beloved country of BN bandits.

 

Or, in other words, to stage the ultimate anti-BN bandicoup.

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Mental health, wealth and stealth.

I’ve no idea whether I’m a casualty of the decline in mental health that shrinks have been predicting as a by-product of the Coronaviral pandemic, but my symptoms suggest that I well could be.

According to my wife I’ve been even more absent-minded than ever lately. A fact that normally I wouldn’t consider to be of concern. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it would simply signify that I was preoccupied with writing in my head before committing the results to paper.

But as I haven’t written a word in either thought or deed for well over a week, I’m concerned that my absence of mind could be a symptom of some form of mental Ill-health. Like what psych professionals formerly called ‘free-floating anxiety’ and is currently known as ‘generalised anxiety disorder’.

Though, come to think of it, I’ve nothing to be especially anxious about, save for such trifling chronic concerns as advancing old age and decline towards death, plus of course the possibility that this process could at any moment be vastly accelerated by the dreaded virus.

So if it’s anxiety that’s causing my acute absent-mindedness and abeyance of writerly activity, it must be a side-effect of my concern for others. Like my ‘feeling anxious almost all the time’ Facebook friend, or my son-in-common-law who last week lost his part-time job in hospitality, or my weekday-morning-coffee mate who’s on tenterhooks while she waits to hear whether she’s to be a casualty of the latest round of staff-cuts to the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).

Or else depression at the spectacle of the general decline in mental health and wealth that so many governments around the world have been long engaging-in through greater or lesser degrees of stealth.

By the inane to the point of insane privileging the alleged ‘pillars’ of race, religion and royalty over rational reality, as in the case of Malaysia; of ruthless truthlessness over human intelligence as in the capitalist ‘Communist’ Party’s  so-called ‘People’s’ Republic of China; and of Presidential fake news and flake views over clearly-evident facts as in Trump’s US, Putin’s Russia, Bolsonaro’s Brazil and elsewhere.

While in my native Australia, the currently ruling conservative coalition keeps undermining the mental health of the nation by such a wide variety of stealthy or at least rat-cunning moves ranging from promising and maddeningly failing to deliver desperately-needed financial, material and psychological support to bushfire victims to demanding restitution of alleged overpayments to welfare recipients.

This latter so-called ‘Robodebt’ or in fact more accurately Robberdebt scheme cost the unfortunate victims a total of almost a billion dollars in false indebtedness, and countless deaths by desperation-induced suicide.

And yet a massive class-action resulting from the courts’ finally deeming the scheme illegal has yet to elicit an apology from the guilty government, though it has grudgingly agreed to very gradually repay the funds ill-gotten thereby.

As to the terrible toll this gruesome government has taken of mental wealth as well as health, it has decimated the former pride of the nation, its system of public Technical and Further Education (TAFE) by selling it out in favour of frequently fraudulent private ‘colleges’ and thus left Australia desperately short of emplyable talent in a great many trades.

And only recently the same government has further threatened the mental wealth of the nation with a two-pronged assault on the universities.

The first of these being its exclusion of university staff from the ‘Job-keeper’ income-support scheme that it devised for workers in most other sectors of the coronavirally-devastated economy, and the second being its decision to double the price of university courses in the ‘humantities’, or in other words in those faculties devoted to educating students in critical-thinking, and to slash the costs of what it deemed ‘employment-related’ degrees.

Just as it has spent years steadily dumbing-down the nation’s media and muting criticism of itself by increasingly under-funding Australia’s sole major source of trusthworthy news, intelligent views and genuinely investigative journalism.

In short, this government has taken advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to persist, as always, in its ideological support of material wealth and ethical poverty at the expense of both mental health and intellectual wealth by hook, by crook, and if possible by stealth.

Or, in other words, this rotten regime is as hell-bent as so many others, from the US to Malaysia, on rendering its subject citizens not only every whit as witlessly absent-minded as I’ve been lately, but also, if possible, sufficiently brain-dead as to keep voting them back into government.

 

 

 

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Faceboycott???

As pretty well everybody must be aware by now, some big advertisers like Coca-Cola and Levi’s, to name just two of many, are reducing or entirely eliminating their advertising on Facebook in protest against what they perceive as the portal’s persistent failure to rid itself of various species of hate-speech.

But I can’t say I’m in favour of such censorship, however well-intended it may be, as I’d far prefer to be aware of the haters and who and where they are than have them concealing their idiocies and idiotologies from public view and censorious opposing comment.

Though admittedly I’ve Faceblocked and thus effectively Faceboycotted a good many Facebook fiends posing as friends, and doubtless lots of Facebookers have similarly Faceblocked/boycotted me for various Faceboo-boos they consider that I’ve committed.

And, just as many people evidently eventually feel so Facecrook about the whole thing that they take a Facebreak from it, I’ve often been tempted to likewise.

Like I’ve just done for over a week, as far as posting new stuff is concerned. But this hasn’t been in a spirit of boycott on my part, but simply that I’ve felt like such a boy clot that I couldn’t think of a thing to write.

But that, as I hope at least some of you have noticed, hasn’t stopped me from liking, loving, caring, laughing at, being wowed by or else, in extreme cases, loathing lots of other peoples’ posts.

In fact, one of the chief Faceboons or Facebonuses of Facebooking when I’m too writer’s-blocked for words is that its such a golden opportunity to give face to my fellows who have the fortitude to babble-on regardless like so many Facebrooks.

I tend to give a wide berth to those I perceive as Facekooks, of course, for babbling too much about the Bible or other allegedly holy books, or excessive prating about praying.

And of course to Fakebookers hell-bent on preying on people’s gullibility and generosity, and other Facecrooks like the members, supporters and trolls of corrupt and otherwise criminal governments busy pushing their perniciously false propaganda.

Then, though far less crucially, and only because I’m far more interested in foods as fuel than as fine examples of the culinary arts, I find I have little appetite for appreciating Facecooking.

But on the other hand, though I’m far more into pussies than cats, I pretty well always respond to pretty, cute or funny pictures of people’s felines out of sympathy, respect and affection for their owners’ sincere feelings.

Just as I do when I see posts of dogs and other such pets. But I have to admit that my favourites are the Facebook funnies, closely followed by images of Facegorgeous landscapes, gardens and flowers, or, if you like, Facebotanicals.

And, of course if would be dishonest of me to deny the fact that I’m as helplessly and pethetically partial as any other mere Facebloke to pictures of Facebooties and Faceboobs.

Though Facebonking is entirely Faceblocked, and justifiably so as far as I’m concerned, as this would provoke an even louder screech from most Facelookers and advertisers than hate-speech, and likely  cause Facebook to be Faceboycotted by everybody, forever.

Which would be a pity in light of the fact that plenty of in-your-face erotica is readily available elsewhere, and in any case, as far as I can tell, Facebook-Messenger text isn’t censorship-hexed, and nor are either Audio- or Video-Call.

All-in-all, therefore, I’m not in favour of all the pressure being applied to the proprietors of Facebook to make it more politically-correct. Because the more aware we all are of the political Facehookers, Freakbookers and and outright off-their-Facebookers there are out there, the more effective we Factbookers will be in our efforts to Fightbook them to the finish.

 

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Coronanxiety? Isolanxiety? Malaysianxiety?

When a Facebook friend posted the message “Anxiety, canxiety, I canxiety” the other day, my immediate reflex was to feel that she was not only speaking my kind of slanguage, but also possibly as eager to discuss the pangs of painxiety as I was.

And, thank goodness, so she turned out to be. Not that our chat thus far has by any means totally relieved the anxieties variously afflicting us, but at least it’s provided us a measure of comfort, if only by virtue of the fact that her spirit of self-revelation inspired me to honestly confess that I’m a fellow-agoniser over anxiety.

A fellow-agoniser to the max, in fact, as I’m forever anxious to write, and thus either chronically cranky, or, if you prefer, crankxious, that there are so many wrongs to right as to render me lost for words.

As, for example, during the past week, when possible topics have ranged from my friend’s anxiety, which she ascribes to a lifetime of disapproval by family and ‘friends’ of what they preposterously presume to perceive as her lack of piety, to the case of such extreme coronanxiety experienced by one of my close neighbours that she’s mortally terrified to venture outdoors.

Then there are those even more serious worries, like Bill, who I often encounter on my walk up the street for a coffee, and who has revealed himself over the years as to be so extremely and apparently incurably ignoranxious about people outside his tragically limited sphere of experience that he’s openly and hopelessly prejudiced against gays, lesbians, Chinese ,Aboriginals, environmentalists and, for all I know, many others.

In short, though, presumably to his undying disgust, this neighbourhood in which he and I live is becoming increasingly infested with ‘greenies’ like me, with people of Chinese and otherwise Asian descent like my wife, and virtually countless gays and lesbians of all genders, he remains a classic example of one of the many causes of my growing Australanxiety about the current state and future prospects of my natal nation.

In fact, though he’s never, of course, ventured outside this country, or even, for that matter, far beyond the bounds of the city of Sydney, he seems to me the very model of what makes the vast majority of us so Americanxious about the US: a redneck supporter of appalling populism as practised by Donald Trump and, into the bargain, a typical target of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This latter being a reaction against the apparently ineradicable tendency on the part of virtually the entire human race to downgrade or dread darkness of skin, or, if you like, to engage in what seems to me a malignant species of melanxiety.

Even though so-called ‘whites’ like me paradoxically persist in trying to sunbake ourselves brown, which we weirdly euphemise as ‘tan’, in defiance of our melanomanxiety in the face of the risk we thus run of contracting skin cancer, as indeed I’ve managed to do.

Whether people of darker, richer and thus infinitely more solar-radiation-resistant skin shades who use skin-whiteners in what seem to me misguided attempts to appear pale, or what my Eurasian daughter contemns as ‘beige’, suffer similar medicanxieties I have no idea.

I do know that some suffer medianxieties, however, having read recently that certain female Bollywood stars who sponsor skin-lightening agents recently received scads of adverse publicity for the duplicity, indeed hypocrisy of their simultaneously proclaiming that Black Lives Matter.

At the same time, as I’ve mentioned before, the eminent US-based author, academic, international columnist and global educationist Dr Azly Rahman excited considerable Malaysianxiety, at least in the most xenophobic Malay-supremacy circles, by declaring that All Lives Matter.

But this struck me as a very minor matter indeed in light of the plethora of far more perplexing politicanxieties occupying the minds of Malaysians of all racial and religious persuasions.

Principal among these perplexities being what party or party of parties, if any, is properly considered to currently have the right to be running, or rather robbing and otherwise ruining, the nation.

At first, when my friend openly professed her anxiety, I presumed it was provoked by either this politricky situation, or else by coronaviral and associated concerns like social-isolation and economic loss.

Just as she must surely have assumed that, at my advanced if not venerable age, I’d more likely be afflicted with with worries about my waning powers, as in, say, Viagranxiety or even my dreaded end, as in how-much-longer-can-I-hope-to-survivanxiety.

But, at least thus far into our mutual exchanges, however right or wrong our initial estimates of our respective anxieties and their possible remedies have turned out to be, we seem to have achieved an ameliorative measure of mutual understanding.

Which is simply that misery, like most other emotions, loves company. Or, in other words, as proverbially said of problems of every variety, anxieties shared are anxieties halved.

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In-The-Black Lives Matter More.

As supportive as I am of the Black Lives Matter movement, and even more whole-heartedly so of the All Lives Matter advance on this advocated by Singapore-born, Malaysia-raised, US-based author, academic, international columnist and global educationist Dr Azly Rahman, I can’t help feeling somewhat cynical about current attempts to rise above racism.

Because the only cure I’ve ever seen for this curse, be it occidental white-on-black-and-other-coloured racism or the oriental brown-on-brown variety, or what I can’t help thinking of as riceism, is either wealth or fame or better still a combination of both.

Possibly the most prominent example of the power of fame being that doubtlessly dusky-skinned denizen of the Middle-East, Jesus Christ, who for centuries in most corners of the world has been so meretriciously misrepresented in pictures and graven images as white.

Or, in other words, has been co-opted as a symbol of white almighty, despite, at least according to the New Testament, having both preached and personified such principles as love for one’s neighbours and even enemies, and humane treatment of the poor in both spirit and possessions.

Yet here we are twenty-one centuries later, saddled with allegedly ‘Christian’ religions that are rich, indeed filthy-rich beyond the dreams of avarice, having played key roles in subjugating and even enslaving formerly ‘pagan’ black- and coloured-skinned peoples by means of both The Word and the sword.

And many of whose members today continue to compound these atrocities, as witnessed everywhere from the fundamentalist ‘Christian’ US Deep South to arguably neo-fascist ‘Catholic’ Poland, by striving to perpetrate and perpetuate versions of racism that Christ himself would have utterly abhored.

And would similarly have deplored the so-called Pentacostal ‘faith’ of Australia’s current Prime Minister and many of his supporters and cronies, which so double-crosses ‘true’ Christian doctrine as to not just worship worldly success, but to consider such earthly prosperity to be a predictor of eternal salvation.

In other words, they consider that it’s the colour of people’s money rather than that of their skins or even sins that decides for or not they achieve their fantasies of divine salvation.

Small wonder, then, that these people’s perverted version of Christianity impels them to pander to the greeds of those citizens whose bank balances are already figuratively in the black, or even literally so in the case of oil-producing and coal-mining corporations, over the needs of those with financial, social, educational, vocational and sundry other lacks.

A very large group indeed, which of course includes Australian aboriginal people, or, if you like, blacks. A tiny majority of whom, by sheer talent and tenacity, have managed to achieve great success, mostly in sports, and thus their fame and fortune renders even most racists conveniently colour-blind.

Just as, even more spectacularly, stardom in show-business and sports has enabled a similarly small minority of African- or black Americans to transcended all but the hardest-core racism.

This mechanism also works to some extent in the racist/riceist Asian country with which I’m most familiar, Malaysia, in that the lives of sports- and business-persons of Chinese and Indian descent who somehow contrive to get themselves sufficiently in the black, million- or better still billionairewise, are considered to matter almost as much as those of Malay politicians and other potentates.

Far too many of whom contrive to get themselves into the black, economically if not ethically or morally speaking, by dint of dark deeds, shady deals, black lies and even blue murder, as demonstrated most notoriously by the alleged perpetrator of a world-record plundering of public funds, former Prime Minister Najib Razak, and his fellow members of the undemocratically monoracial Umno Party and its coalition accomplices in virtually uninterrupted misrule of the country.

And now, despite all the black marks on their reputations, and their having been blackballed by the voters in the most recent federal election, and having clearly black-and-white corruption charges against them, they seem to be planning to make a comeback.

Thus ensuring a bleak if not pitch-black future for the vast majority of the their nation’s citizens of every conceivable colour and creed, including their less-prosperous fellow Malays, that they consider beyond the pale.

So that, in Malaysia, as in Australia, the US and just about every other place on Planet Earth it seems to me that we non-racists can protest that Black, Brown and White, or what my daughter considers Beige, Lives Matter, unless we can engineer an economic as well as ethical revolution.

Or, to put this proposition another way, as long as a majority of us persist in prostrating ourselves before, or prostituting ourselves to, economic power, In-the Black Lives will always matter most, whatever the various colours we happen to come in, and however uncaring of the skin-deep differences between us that we may contrive to become.

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Humanity, huminanity, huminsanity.

Having survived for 77 years now as a member of a species that presumes to call itself Homo sapiens,I’m appalled that, even with alleged wisdom of age, so much of my behaviour is sappyens if not outright crappyens.

In other words, despite being equipped with an allegedly rational humind or humintellect, and considerable degree of determination to treat my fellows humanely, I’m all-too-capable of thinking and acting huminanely or even huminsanely.

So that, despite having consulted countless books and pondered virtually endlessly about what it means to be human, I feel I’ve failed dismally, in thought and even more so in deed, to perceive it as anything but hopelessly paradoxical.

All the human virtues, or so it seems to me, are accompanied by the potential for, if not necessarily the practice of, their opposite vices, as so memorably stated by Aristotle well over 2,000 years ago, and recorded for posterity by one of his sons in the ‘Nichomachean Ethics’.

And subsequent history has vastly more than served to illustrate the veracity of the great man’s observation that “man, when perfected, is the best of animals; but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all.”

But which law of the limitless available ones from Athenian to Roman, to Common, or Ecclesiastical or even Shariah Law, and whose idea of justice has always been, and remains, the crucial question. To Aristotle’s teacher, Plato, “justice” meant the necessity of a person’s keeping his or her proper place in the societal pecking-order, which, according to his famous or notorious “Noble Lie” was purported to be inborn.

And Aristotle clearly considered it a matter of fact that “Greeks are superior to non-Greeks; and men are superior to women and slaves.”

To my humind, these notions so morally pernicious and logically preposterous that humankind should by rights have long progressed beyond them by now, and indeed has done so in truly liberal and humanist sectors of our species.

But they still persist as poisonously as ever in what passses for the minds of racists, neo-fascists and neo-conservatives, not to mention the many religionists and other such unregenerate fantasists that compose what you could justly call humunkind.

Hence the crying need for humassive demonstrations against police homicides of black ‘suspects’ as currently in the US, and black rates of incarceration and deaths in custody in Australia.

And possibly even sadder, the tragic relative lack of concerted, large-scale humanitarian action against the persecution of humans of not only black but also of all other hues, everywhere from Africa through Burma, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, South America and, of course, China.

The latter being of particular current interest, as it struggles to wrest Hong Kong from the relatively mild inhumanity of of British post-colonial law into the humonstrous inhuman humaw of the humendaciously-named ‘People’s’ Republic of China, where the only law is the will or whim of the Party.

Which is simultaneously striving mightily to control what it perceives as not-quite-human but rather humongrel ethno-religious groups like the Uighers.

Of course ethnic and other huminorities, ranging from Afro-Americans and Aboriginal Australians to Uighers, are always a favourite target of humaniacs and their humercinaries in the military, police and mass-media propagandists mass-media.

But the vast majority of poor or at least less-prosperous citizens of most countries are also routinely victimized by governments that are unduly biased in favour of their affluent or even the outright filthy-rich voters and cronies.

And now that more and more people have been rendered poorer or outright unemployed by the coronavirus-driven global recession, such ruling-for-the-haves regimes, like those of the US, UK and Australia, are revealing themselves as even more humoneytarian than ever.

With Australia’s conservative coalition even veering so far from humane in its support of the jobless as to deny assistance to some of the most desperate of them, like overseas students needing part-time work to survive, foreigners on working visas, workers in the entertainment industry and the staff of universities.

And the government of the State of Australia in which I live, New South Wales, is striving mightily to deny a small raise in salary for hospital staff and other emergency workers, while having recently raised the half-million-dollar salary of the Police commissioner by over $80,000.

So it seems to me highly likely that those of us who care for human rights and fairness will soon be marching in support of lots more of our insolvent fellow citizens of all colours as well as of our indigenous ones.

Or, if you like to put it this way, in support of the fact that not only black, but also lack lives matter.

And while I’m waiting for these protests to start, in the spirit of the old imperative to “be the change you want to see,” I’m starting right now by humbly apologising to any or all humen or huwomen I’ve hurt by my own personal huminanity or huminsanity, and solemnly assuring them that, whether or not they’re prepared to forgive me, I’m vowed and determined to make amends. Or, if you prefer,humends.

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