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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Decisions, d’uhcisions, diecisions.

One of my dearest friends from back in my days in New Delhi has posted on Facebook that she is “on the threshold of taking an extremely TOUGH Decision. Feels like the FIRST ever exam of not only my life but of my nerves…”

Though she hasn’t designated that nature of her impending decision, I sympathise entirely with the stress and anxiety that the capitalised words in her post signal that she feels about it, and have replied to that effect, adding that I trust that whatever she decides will turn out to be the best for her.

What I decided not to additionally add, and thus risk freaking her out even further, was that in my personal experience it frequently doesn’t matter a damn what any of us decide, or even decide not to decide, as events have a way of taking matters out of our hands.

Or, as the late, great and, as it happens, ill-fated John Lennon loved expressing this thought, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making plans.”

The most vivid current testament to the truth of this being the coronavirus pandemic, which has rendered many if not most of the decisions that so many of us made in advance about what we’d be doing right now, like holidaying or studying overseas, for example, entirely redundant.

There are many people who try and spare themselves this kind of post-decision disappointment by abandoning decision-making altogether in favour of going with the flow, putting their faith in fate or abandoning themselves to divinely-decreed destiny.

But, God willing or not, this “it is written” way of life doesn’t work too well for me, at least on the strictly literary level. Because though I make a decision to write almost every day, but all too often, as for almost the past week, I find myself incapable of deciding what to write about.

And on many days, having definitely decided not only to write, but also on a topic, my writing, due to lack of focus or energy or whatever, what gets written turns out to be wrotten.

As have so many of the decisions I’ve taken in my life, from stupid but trivial d’uh or d’ohcisions, through money-related or doughcisions to many of what I rightly or wrongly perceived at the time to be absolutely life-and-deathcisions, have proven to be.

In fact many of my decisions have proven to be so derisory and even disastrous that, like the protagonist of ‘The Dice Man’, a best-selling book of a decade or two ago, I might as well have saved myself all the angst and agony involved in the process of making them, and simply opted for roll-the-diceisions.

But instead I now see in retrospect that I never knew whether I was deciding with my head, my heart or my hormones, and so I could never discern whether any particular decision was wrong-headed, too half-, hard- or soft-hearted or, double-disastrously, dick-headed.

The last of which, I thank goodness on her behalf, my friend

who is facing her TOUGH decision, be it about something relatively straight-forward like hair-colouring, or if you like, a dyecision, or a far more complex and crucial do-or-diecision is, by virtue of her gender, free from the threat of.

In the final analysis, however, if my own experience is any indication, whatever her eventual decision about whatever it is will take her to a desirable destination.

Which in my life, at least thus far, despite countless dreadful decisions, dispossessions and dissipations along the way, is a state of delight in the family, friends and many other unexpected and even possibly undeserved satisfactions I’ve ended-up with.

And, speaking of ending-up, it’s high time that I rewarded any readers who’ve made the decision to, or else deemed that “it is written” that they stick with me to finish of this piece of writing, be it ever so wretched or even wrotten, by deciding to put a decisive full-stop to the thing.

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Ad and other vices.

When I mentioned to a friend last night that my wife and I are thinking of going back to live in Malaysia for a while if and when coronaviral travel-bans finally end, she responded with scads of advice against our making what she so clearly considers to be such a badly-mistaken move.
And, as she’s a Malaysian herself now living elsewhere, all the reasons she cited for being alienated from her homeland, and thus for advising me and my spouse to stay the hell away from the place too, struck me as perfectly valid in light of many of my experiences during the total of six years I formerly spent living and working there.
Six years during which I became so astonished and appalled at the corruption, incompetence, racism, religionism, criminality and lawlessness of its secretive and deceitful alleged government that I took to attacking the ruling regime in a column generously granted me by country’s then only trustworthy newspaper, Malaysiakini.
So I was somewhat surprised when I reacted with a resounding but silent “adoi” (which happened to be the title of a Malaysia-based marketing-communications magazine I also formerly wrote for) to my friend’s well-intentioned and admittedly sound advice against returning to the scene of so much crime and both figurative and literal or rather litteral grime.
But I quickly realised that I was reacting, not against my friend’s perfectly-valid advice, but against her presuming to so gratuitously give me advice, and unsolicited advice at that, at all.
A reaction that I almost as swiftly realised was monumentally hypocritical on my part, considering that I formerly spent three or four decades of my life in advertising.
Or, in other words, in giving complete strangers entirely unwished-for and therefore presumably largely unwelcome advice on which brands of fast-foods, fizzy drinks and alcoholic beverages to consume, cigarettes to smoke, vehicles to drive, shavers to remove unwanted bulu with, and pretty-well everything else you can think of on which to invest, spend or squander their hard-earned cash.
After so many years of such an arguably ill-advised career as this, you can imagine how absolutely shocked I was when, in the course of later studies to qualify as a psychotherapist, or, to put it less pretentiously, counsellor, I was sternly advised against ever giving advice to future clients.
If this sounds to you like something of an (ad)vicious circle, I don’t blame you. Because it did so to me at first too, until I realised that my eductators’ advice against giving advice made perfect sense, on the grounds that (1) Nobody knows anybody else well enough to accurately advise them on virtually anything, and (2) People are, in any case, for one reason or another incapable of taking or at least faithfully following anybody else’s advice.
Through the years since, though I’ve thus tried to avoid giving advice to anybody, be they counselling clients, family, friends or even casual acquaintances, I have to admit to frequently failing in my resolve, as witnessed by the many pieces I’ve written offering well-intended but often decidedly oddvice to my readers.
But I’ve also manged to win a few at least partial victories, in that I’ve largely learned to restrain myself from giving Dadvice to my son and daughter, or Grand-dadvice to my grand-children, or any kind of advice at all to my friends.
For whom, as the much-admired ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle strongly advised, I should want what is best for them as they perceive the best for themselves to be, not what I probably wrongly imagine from my own point-of-view would be best for them.
As, though with the best will in the world, I felt my friend did last night, as in the course of advising me of all the undeniable negatives of venturing back to Malaysia, she avoided hearing, let alone taking to heart, that my wife and I perceive it, for better or worse, as an exciting adventure.
Possibly or even probably an excruciatingly badventure or sadventure at times too, admittedly, in a variety of unexpected ways, but also very likely a gladventure in spending more quality time with family members who aren’t getting any younger.
And also, of course, with the many old colleagues and brothers-and-sisters-in-arms of all races, religions and no religions who added so much spice to my life despite all the strife in Malaysia way back when, and, not withstanding any amount of advice to the contrary, almost certainly will again.

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Come the coronavirevolution!

Tired of trying to duck the coronavirus by sitting at home like a schmuck hoping my dumb-cluck of a government might chuck me the odd buck, I’ve decided to let my mind run amok about how we can turn this pandemic/paindemic into a stroke of good luck.

Like the far more deadly bubonic plagues of old turned out to be for so many surviving serfs and captive labourers, whose sheer scarcity finally freed them to shuck-off the shackles of their former lord mucks.

Or like the French revolution, whose spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity spread so virally and so far beyond its original borders as to terrify the tyrannical ruling regimes of countless other countries into at least some semblances of progress towards democracy.

Or like the two world wars of the 20th century that freed women to both work and to vote, and inspired the creation of the United Nations and its subsequent declaration of the world’s first-ever Charter of Universal Human Rights.

Thus, as much as this coronaviral pandemic might and does suck, it can also be perceived as a golden opportunity for global revolution, if only we can inspire ourselves, both personally and collectively, to get up enough pluck.

It’s certainly far from impossible. People-power, as exemplifed extremely widely, from the passive revolt of the Mahatma Gandhi-led peasantry of India against British rule, to the overthrow of Marcos in the Philippines, the Golkar regime in Indonesia and a plethora of Russian-puppet governments in Europe, has proven at least somewhat successful.

As indeed has pupil-power, as witnessed in continuing worldwide strikes by schoolchildren led by one of their own, the tiny but mighty teen Greta Thunberg, in promoting public resistance to, if not yet replacement of, governments that are contemptibly, indeed criminally unwilling to recognise the reality of global warming, yet alone to do anything meaningful to mitigate this looming catastrophe.

At least one of the coronavirevelations arising from the pandemic and its resultant partial shut-down of polluting activities is how much more liveable life on Planet Earth can be with the vastly-reduced reductions in emissions of the greenhouse gases that climate scientists and environmentalists been increasingly vociferously advocating for decades.

And an equally coronavital coronavirevelation has been that citizens of countries with climate-change-denying ‘populist’ ruling regimes have either been coronacasualties of the coronavirus in vastly disproportionate numbers, as most vividly evidence by Trump’s US, Putin’s Russia and Bolonaro’s Brazil.

And the poor and socially disadvanaged who’ve so-far avoided becoming casualties have been disproportionately the worst cashualties, as in Australia, whose government not only does nothing to help halt or reverse global warming, but, on the contrary, extends wealthfare to fossil-fuels producers, has utterly refused to pay so much as a cent to help support over a million of the country’s most economically-vulnerable casual and foreign workers, overseas students or employees, either permanent or casual in tertiary-education, the Arts and entertainment.

And the same government has turned a blind eye to the even more coronavirevolting fact that some Australian clothing retail chains are denying or endlessly delaying payment for goods manufactured in countries like Bangladesh, and thus threatening the livelihoods of countless already desperately-poor sweatshop workers.

I could go on and on and on here about the by the coronavicious activities of coronavile companies and conservative allegedly ‘Christian’ ruling parties and coalitions, not to mention their not just coronally but chronically verminous mass-media propagandists like the Murdoch family’s fake-News Corp(se).

But frankly they’re a complete waste of words. Because clearly these individuals’ and institutions’collective vision of a coronavirecovery is a quick coronareturn to business as usual, in favour of their accursed vested interests, no matter what.

And thus the very opposite of the rare possibility that this viral pandemic has paradoxically provided us with, and that we’re all, in our various ways, paying such a very high price for: such sweeping coronavireforms of our pathological economic, environmental, ethical, emotional and mental attitudes to surviving and thriving in peace and harmony with ourselves, our fellows and our Planet as to constitute a sorely-needed and long-overdue coronavirevolution.

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Saving my Thursday/Thorsday story.

Last night I could hardly get a wink of sleep for worrying how I could possibly write today’s final episode in this series of posts about the origins of English names for the days of the week.

Because my intended tale about Thor, the legendary hammer-wielding so-called ‘Thunderer’ and how he’s memorialised in the word ‘Thursday’ had come to seem too tame and tedious for words compared with the terrific thought that a reader had come up with in a comment on yesterday’s “Bee and Hump Day” post.

As you can check back for yourself if you feel like it, the reader in question, a former Malaysian high-flier who now lives a more down-to-earth life with her beloved offspring and felines in Scotland, completely stole my thunder, Thorsdaywise, by brainstorming the far more interesting if admittedly wildly historically-inaccurate term Thirstday.

And the more I considered my possible options for competing with or even co-opting this lightning-flash of inspiration, the more I realised that, out of deep respect for the fair and sometimes fearsome female sex in general, and my friend’s sex-appeal and possibly hex-potential in particular, as well as the fact that she’s a visual artist and I’m just a verbal or verbull-artist, I had no recourse but to give her due credit for it.

But having duly done this, at considerable cost to what mercifully little remains of my ego after almost a lifetime of criticism of my creative efforts by clients, editors and, as in this case, discerning readers, I still feel the urge to try and merge thirst and Thor in some meaningful manner.

By making the point, for example, that Thor and the rest of the gang of Viking gods and goddesses must surely have worked-up absolutely raging thirsts in the process of creating and running the world, and thus must surely have had needed to get well and truly hammered at the end of especially stressful days.

With the result that they almost certainly suffered thundering headaches on all those mornings-after, and that it doubly or even triply stands to reason that the English names of our days of the week are such obvious hang-overs from those of the aquavit-tipplers and topers in ancient Valhalla.

And the connection between the elements of the Thursday/Thorsday/Thirstday trilogy is not just historical, but also extremely relevant in the here and now, as today, even as I sit here writing, at 3:39pm Sydney time on May 21, 2020, Thor is rumbling if not outright thundering overhead, and my own, my daughter’s and millions of other gardens and farms that have been thirsting through a long dry-spell are joyfully soaking-up the resultant showers of rain.

While later this afternoon my daughter, in her professional role of part-time bar manager at the Merton Hotel, Rozelle, will be busy slaking the thirsts of patrons now permitted to drink in public with their pals after an extended spell of drowning their self-isolation sorrows at home.

Meanwhile, just to show that any cold, hard feelings I might have had when it initially struck me that her ‘Thirstday’ concept was so superior to my ‘Thorsday’ one have by now well-and-truly thawed, I must end by sending my friend in Scotland my warmest wishes for gentle Spring showers followed by enough bursts of sunshine to bring out her favourite flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Bee and Hump Day!

What a buzz! In yesterday’s post about Tuesday/Chooseday I used what must be by far the commonest, indeed most clichèed Shakespearean quote, “to be or not to be”, and today turns out to be the International Year of the.….Bee!

And in an even more unbeelievable concidence, yesterday I also deleted a Facebook ‘Friend’ calling herself Li Sa and claiming that she wanted to be my honey, but soon revealing herself as in reality a fiend named Alice, who I suspected of having the malice to be trying to sting me for my money.

As you can well imagine, when the penny dropped that she wasn’t after my body, but my (sadly non-existent) boodle, really gave me the hump.

And I realise now that this was yet another sign from the stars, the Fates or some other fanciful source that something special was in store for me, or even for us all, in the immediately foreseeable future, as today, Wednesday is widely known by five-day-a-week workers as Hump Day.

“Hump” in this context being not, as some hopefuls might wish, a verbal command to – let my try putting this delicately – have one’s carnal way with another, but a noun meaning the peak at the middle of the week after which it’s an easy downhill run until Friday/Freyaday/Friggday and then the weekend.

Of course mention of the fabulous Freya and Frigg brings us to the true origin of the word Wednesday, which was its association with the Old Norse, Viking or perhaps Saxon god alternatively known as Odin or Woden.

Who was, appropriately enough at least today, Wednesday May 20, 2020, believed by his erstwhile worshipers to have been busier than a whole hive of bees way back when, having allegedly not only created the earth and sky from the corpse of a slain giant named Ymir, but then fashioned the first man and woman from ash and alder trees, and, as if all that hadn’t been enough hard work to be going on with, also laid-down the laws of the universe.

But eventually the Christians in the rest of Europe must finally have decided that the Vikings had give them enough grief, what with all the raping and killing, or, if you, prefer, humping and bumping-off they’d been doing, without promoting gods as competitive with theirs as Wodin/Odin and the rest of the gang were. And so they were finally forced to dump them, except, as I’ve been repeating over and over lately, from the names of the days of the week.

This Wednesday really lived up to its many names for me. On any other morning I would have made a bee-line for this laptop as soon as I’d had my wake-up shot of caffeine, but instead I had to hive-off my customary routine to first drive my wife to a medical appointment, then to the supermarket, and finally back home to hump as in carry the bags of groceries up the stairs.

Meanwhile, in our absence, my daughter and her boyfriend had dropped by the house to dump the vacuum cleaner back here so I could finally jump right into some house-cleaning the house.

A matter about which, as I’ve mentioned before, my wife has been such a grump as to wonder for about umpteen When?days in a row.

But all I had the energy or enthusiasm for by the time I’d finished all my other chores today was to slump around like a lump hoping I could possibly clump a few Wednes/Wodens/Odinsday words together without sounding like too much of a chump.

And, as you see, in quantity if not quality, I’ve just about come-up trumps. But as it’s now nearly 9.30pm, and I have yet to edit or post it, I’ll be humped if I can think how I’m going to get enough zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs by tomorrow morning to bee able to treat you to a few thoughts about Thursday.

 

 

 

 

 

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