Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When I was intentionally unkind

I can remember only one occasion when I was intentionally mean to someone--I got very very angry, and then coldly decided to say the meanest thing I could possibly say. I wanted them to feel worse than I felt when they said something very mean to me. The difference was that their unkindness was unintentional. Astonishingly ignorant, but nevertheless unintentional.

I was pretty effective--the person cried all day, or so I heard. I'm glad that now I feel so much safer in the world than I did then, and now I have an internal place-to-stand from which I can notice my reaction and be accepting and fascinated about it.

It's totally fascinating to me that the great majority of other people feeling pain in response to my words and actions has been besides, rather than because of, my intention--that is, that generally I hadn't set out wanting them to feel pain.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is joining?

Joining is like this: I work with 5 beautiful little children who have autism, aged 3 to 7. Some of them have behaviors which we call "isms". For instance, one of my children, N, does an ism where he paces/prances around his room holding a shirt in his hand. He waves the shirt in intricate and fascinating and repetitious patterns back and forth and up and down, and he studies the shirt and the carpet upon which he is pacing/prancing/dancing with enormous concentration and focus. While he's doing all this he vocalizes--usually sounds that we generally can't understand to be words. Sometimes N can ism for 45 minutes without a break. Sometimes for 2 hours. It used to be that he wouldn't look at anyone at all while he was doing that. Now he tends to glance over regularly while he's isming.

His parents used to use a program for helping N. called ABA. That program called for the parents to do their best to stop N from doing the ism--they would interrupt him, physically manipulate him, very insistently demand that he do what they wanted, pay attention to them, etc. etc.

Now his parents use a program called the SonRise program. I am part of the team of volunteers who works with N. When he isms, we join him. We carefully observe his behavior, and try to understand what he is getting out of it--why does he enjoy it so much--by doing it with him--sometimes on the other side of the room, and sometimes closer. We match him step for intricate step, wave of shirt for intricate wave of shirt, vocalism for vocalism. We do this with delight, as he clearly delights in it. We do it with joy and energy, because we are doing our absolute best to say to N "If you are unable to come into our world, then it is our delight and privilege to join you in your world. You rock and we want to be with you."

We are being kind to N, and in so doing, because we love him and love being with him so much--we are also being kind to ourselves. N's parents really rather disliked the ABA program they were using before, but they believed it was the best thing at that time. In finding the SonRise program, they have grown in their ability to be kind to N and kind to themselves. They and N are in the process of growing in their ability to be kind to themselves and others. I find this is a brilliant beautiful amazing delight.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm chainless. I don't have the power now. and my Hoorays list.

My motorcycle is chainless, and has been towed to Pablo's for repair. Woooohoooooot that nothing worse happened when the chain broke! I mean what if I had been desperately needing to accelerate at that moment in order to avoid a collision? Hooray for perfect timing of broken chains! Hooray for (barely (but honestly, who ever needs more than just enough?)) enough money to get it towed and repaired! Hooray that I get to commute on a motorcycle, which makes my day ever day (excepting on days when it's in the shop, in which case I get to make my own day in other ways (I was sorely temptly to purposely misspell "excepting" as "accepting" there)! Hooray that Jack Mason-Goodall is coming to Melbourne in something like less than 3 months! Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More notes on Melbourne: clocks and Mt. Rainier

One thing I've noticed over the last few weeks is that there are rather a lot of big, public, analog clocks in Melbourne--on the tops of towers, outside buildings, etc., and that as far as I can tell None of them ever have anything remotely like the correct time. This seems strange and pointless to me.

Today I was driving home in the beautiful sunshiny spring afternoon, and out of the corner of my eye I caught a whitish something up above the horizon over that way. I immediately looked over fully expecting to see the lovely vaunted vaulted snowladen top of the beautiful Mount Rainier.

When it turned out to be a bit of wispy cloud, my heart jumped into my throat and my nose got all tingly in that way it does when I am about to weep. FSM I miss Seattle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Internal basement and balcony people, and power.

Some time ago, I learned a metaphor for thinking about people who either tear one down or build one up--basement people are people who suck the life right out of one, with various toxic, draining, unkind methods-of-relating--balcony people are people who somehow channel energy, life, joy, hope, encouragement toward one with their amazing kindness, graciousness, excitement.

Today I realized in a new way that actually the reason any of those things work on me is because I have my own internal basement and balcony people, who love to pick up on the things those external basement and balcony people are saying and doing and use that as further evidence that actually they are right, I should listen to them, etc. etc.

Also noted--my internal balcony person is generally (these days) much more powerful than my internal basement person. When I say powerful, I mean something very specific. My internal balcony person is able to listen with love and without judgment. My internal basement person is pretty much composed of judgments--if he tried to listen without judgment, he would discorporate. I find that the ability to listen nonjudgmentally is astonishingly powerful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More things I miss about Seattle:

India Pale Ale on tap everywhere. Little did I know I was drinking especially hoppy pale ale

Also noted recently--someone invited me to an upcoming Christmas Party. The days are getting longer, and much warmer, and we recently sprang ahead with daylight savings time, and ... WTF? It's impossible for Christmas to be approaching.

I continue to be regularly surprised at new things which I have to price and learn that yes, they too are much more expensive than they would have been in Seattle. Recent examples include: hot water heater, washing machine, and helicoil thread repair kit.

However, I can now confidently cross the street with relatively high assurance I know from which direction the cars will be approaching. There's something to be said for this. There's also something to be said for Christmas, which is clearly one of the most depressing days of the entire year, happening on a day when there likely to be lots of sunlight--or at least many hours of daylight. I *shall* learn to love this place. It's happening to me and for me, in spite of myself =). Hooray!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The People and The New People.

Early in our marriage, we were friends with a really lovely couple who among other things did a little couples marriage counseling with us. During that counseling, they taught us one thing which has really stuck with us--something which has been useful multiple times over the past ten years.

As often happens, this couple sort of drifted out of our lives. We've not seen either of them in several years, and although we are still vaguely in touch with them on facebook and such, we don't really know them anymore.

A funny thing happened at some point. One of use, in a conversation, found ourselves temporarily unable to remember their names, and instead referred to them as "The People". The first time this happened, of course, it took some explaining for the other of us to understand to whom we were referring. Strangely, this name stuck, and gradually over the years we stopped using their names altogether when we were referring to them in conversation, instead simply calling them "The People", or when referring to one of them "The Husband of The People" and other variations on this theme.

Tonite The People came up in our conversation, and I realized I could no longer access their names. I have a sense that I could probably find them in my list of facebook friends and thus be reminded, but as it stands, I honestly can't remember their first nor last names. They have permanently become "The People".

Perhaps even more interestingly, since we moved to Australia a new couple has begun to vie for the name "The People". I can, of course, still totally remember *their* names. However "The New People" also works now, in conversation--Megs and I both know about whom we are talking. =)

Your turn--tell us about a bit of private jargon which you use.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First they came for the ...

terrorism suspects.

So my guess is something along these lines: In light of developments (or lack thereof) with Guantanamo Bay, and in light of the fact that Obama is pretty much the least bow-to-the-military-establishment guy we are going to see elected president in the next 20 years and he has done pretty much zilch re: Patriot Act, Extraordinary Powers, etc. etc., the ACLU may as well close it's doors, and basically it's sayonara the U.S. ever again being the world's bastion of civil liberties, freedom, etc. etc (if we ever were). Only 39 months until I'm eligible for Aussie citizenship. Wooooot!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gun Safety

When I went to my father's house in rural Washington state 2 weeks ago, one thing I noticed was that leaned up against the piano was a 22 caliber rifle, and sitting next to it on the piano was a small box with about 30 live rounds in it. I naturally picked up the rifle and checked to see if there were any rounds loaded, opening the bolt action chamber and removing the small clip. Then I naturally pointed it out the window and took sights on the well house out in the paddock. It took me a while to notice this as anything other than completely normal. I remain a product of my upbringing. Perhaps it's not so strange, in the end, that I accidentally shot myself in the hand with a BB gun at the age of 17.

I found myself in a discussion, later in the day, with my amazing lovely dad and my very kewl brother in law, both of whom thought it would be totally fine, in terms of safety were I to bring my 8 year old daughter to the property to visit, to simply place the guns (yes, the perhaps as many as 2 dozen guns in the house) under my dad's bed. In the end they agreed to get them out of the house altogether before she visited, but they still thought my boundary was unnecessarily stiff.

Just as an FYI, even the National Rifle Association, which is more or less the biggest group of civilian gun crazies in the world, recommends that gun owners keep their guns and ammunition physically/mechanically inaccessible to children and other unauthorized persons.

I find it wonderful that here in Australia we as parents don't so much have to inquire, with new friends, about guns in the house before we can bring our children or let them visit. It's just not an issue. In Australia gun owners are legally required to store their guns in a safe, bolted down, and locked, and to store the ammunition in a separate bolted down locked safe. Furthermore, there just aren't anything like as many guns in general circulation as there are in the U.S. Woooohooooot!!!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Benjamin's wants for September

list of wants for september.

1. to find out I'm going with Shelley Hackett to Max Impact in October
2. to walk 50 miles
3. organize a SonRise info night for parents in melbourne
4. to be bigger and more loving than I am now
5. to read "younger next year"
6. to go for a family bicycle ride down the coast
7. to turn toward and fully embrace my fears about money
8. to do at least 4 option process dialogues
9. to write a poem
10. to do 2000 pushups.
11. to go on a yacht ride with my friend John.
12. to find out someone's amazing secret.
13. to compose a new song.

What are your wants for September?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


My children backward engineer language. So ... they have figured out that in Aus, many words that have an "r" sound in them have the "r" sound more or less dropped. Hence for instance here, for the word "here", people say "heeuh" rather than the Seattle pronunciation "heer". The backward engineering sometimes misfires for them, such as, for instance, with the Daleks from Doctor Who, who have now become "Darleks"--because they haven't seen the spelling--they're working from what they hear. How kewl is that?

Monday, August 2, 2010

bits of my time in Tacoma.

I used to live in this little house, for about 1 year, with my mum and my sister, while my dad was away fixing angels of death for the U.S. air force in Turkey. The people in the house just to the left, which you can't really see here, used to have loud drunken parties on weekends, which my mum found quite scary. I went up to the Cub Scout day camp at Wapato park, a few blocks from here, where I learned this song.

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While we lived there, we started attending this church, Bethesda Baptist, where one Sunday I went into a little room with a Sunday School worker and confessed my sins to Jesus and asked him to forgive me and come live inside my heart. 17 Years later, when I was raising funds to spend two years as a missionary on LOGOS II, I called the pastor of this church to ask if I could come tell them about what I was doing--I thought it would be nice for them since I "got saved" at that church. But the pastor at that time was hypercalvinist and a bit sectarian, and he told me on the phone that I certainly wouldn't be allowed to come speak to anyone at the church unless I believed certain very specific things, which of course I didn't believe =).

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Also while there, I attended this school, McCarver Elementary. It was 1984. There was a classroom full of truly ancient personal computers which we went into once a week to do stuff on them. My homeroom teacher read aloud to us. She read "Sounder" and "Pippi Longstocking" and "The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. The whole school got together occasionally to watch a movie in the auditorium. The only one I remember was the animated version of the Hobbit. My awesome cousin Kelly went with me to this school, and we got off at the same school bus stop on the way home, after nearly an hour's ride. She would often have to remind me to get off the bus because I would be so engrossed in a book. After school I'd go home and watch Nickelodeon on TV, and dukes of hazard and Fall Guy and A Team and Greatest American Hero. It was the last year of my whole life that I ever lived in a house which received broadcast television.

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Double Rainbow


and then this

a list of American heroes

Daniel Ellsberg, Joe Darby, Bradley Manning, and if it turns out not to be Manning, the person who turned over the Afghan War Diary to Wikileaks.

People like this make me proud to be an American. I hope that if the opportunity arises, I can emulate their courage.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crown Casino Meblourne--worse blackjack ever?

I poked through Crown Casino Friday evening for a couple hours, and wonders if people in Melbourne are just far less informed than people in ... Vegas, for instance, or even Seattle. I counted 80 people playing blackjack at 6 to 5 tables, H17, dealt from a CSM, double hard 9, 10,11 only, when just downstairs and over that way there were open spots at 3 to 2, H17, double anything, dealt from a shoe with decent pen tables. I would be embarrassed to work as a dealer or floor at the former tables/pits.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

From reading to watching to ....

I really enjoyed this article from Kevin Kelley in Smithsonian magazine about the past and the future of reading. He says:
In books we find a revealed truth; on the screen we assemble our own truth from pieces. On networked screens everything is linked to everything else. The status of a new creation is determined not by the rating given to it by critics but by the degree to which it is linked to the rest of the world.
Just as technology in some ways followed, and in some ways caused, the shift to modernism, so also technology both follows and causes the shift to post-modernism. Fascinating stuff. (H/T Daniel Martin)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts after seven months in Melbourne

We've been in Melbourne for 7 months now. I'm gradually getting a handle on what we gave up, and on what we are gaining.

I'm glad we moved. I believe it was exactly the perfect thing to do. And WOW there are some amazingly beautiful kind gracious fascinating glorious people in Seattle who loved us so very well from geographical closeness, and who still love us from geographical distance--the former a far more intensely delightful experience than the latter, in my opinion.

Yesterday for the first time I can remember I automatically looked right first rather than left first when I was about to walk across a street. Upon realizing what I'd done, I felt a certain sense of joy and loss.

My thoughts about the transition were, and continue to be, that it's a three year process to feel at home again. so we've accomplished one sixth of that, and one sixth of something huge and amazing is in itself huge and amazing.

Today a stranger was putting her metcard into ticketing machine on the tram the wrong way 'round, and getting a little frustrated, and I gently told her how to do it correctly. She then asked me how to get, via the tram system, to the a certain location in the city, and I was able to tell her quite easily. However, at least 2 or 3 times a week I still experience people mentioning suburbs in conversations and having no sense at all of the location--something that rarely happened to me in Seattle.

I LOVE knowing I can get out in the sun pretty much every day even though it's winter. Conversely, I never ever had to use chapstick during Seattle winters.

People I'm thankful for in Melbourne: John and Tami and Phoebe and Tom and Georgia and Avak and Anita and Mark and Melissa and Phil and Shelley and David and Kerry,and Nevilleand Toddy and Louise and Arlette and Javier and Becky and Phil, and Sal and David and Gretta and David Nicholas and Rachel and Seren and Tim and Emma and Ann and Kobe and Thomas and Nicholas and Campbell and Kevin and Kate and Gaby and Nyrie and Will and Aiden.

I've almost adjusted to having a limited quota of data associated with my DSL every month.

I can tell you 4 places to go in Melbourne for really yummy free lunches and dinners. But unlike Seattle, I know of exactly zero good dependable dumpsters in Melbourne.

29 months to go until I can expect to feel fully at home here. and 41 months to go until I can apply for Aussie citizenship.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Denial helps the bystander"

I found this article about the new book from Jessica Stern, terrorism expert and rape victim, totally readable. Jessica says:
Denial helps the bystander. We don't want to know what the boys we send to Iraq have done to others out of terror, or what others have done to them. We would rather not know about terror or be confronted with evil. This is as true about Abu Ghraib as it is about personal assaults and more private crimes, the crimes that occur inside families. But the victim, too, cannot bear to believe. She may bury or disassociate from or disown her pain.

Friday, June 25, 2010

So much for the U.S. Constitution

But of course we already knew that, didn't we?

You can hereby officially cancel out Article 1, section 9, and Amendments 4, 5, 6, and 8.

Only 42 months until I can apply for Aussie citizenship =).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leaving gracefully

is not always possible. And that's okay.

From the age of 9 until the age of 24, I was deeply involved in a very sectarian Christian church--so much so that they supported me and sent me off in 1998 for a 2 year missionary trip with a huge worldwide Christian missions organization called Operation Mobilization.

I geographically returned to that church in early 2001, having married, and having changed enormously in a lot of ways.

A couple months later, my super awesome wife and I left that church--discontinued all association with it. We did not do so super gracefully.

Here's what I have to say about that: There is no scenario better than the one that happened. I'm *stoked* that we left--one of the best decisions in my whole life. I most certainly would not and could not be doing the amazing delightful work I'm doing now if I were still involved with that church. And we left in the best way we possibly could, as the people we were at that time and place.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


From Bears Kaufman:

BE A STUDENT OF OURSELVES: The idea of studying ourselves (not politics, not medicine, not carpentry, not driver education) as a PRIMARY PATH to self-understanding and change (individually and globally). A Five Step Process: Step #1, SELF-AWARNESS. What do I think (believe), what do I feel (emotions), what do I do (behave).

Imagine the universe has a heart-beat and that heart-beat within each of us. Imagine that by really knowing and understanding ourselves, we will also get magnificent insights into the universe (at least, how we operate in the universe and how the universe mirrors us). Imagine that the path of self-understanding is also a pathway not only to our own clarity but to the most spiritual embrace of ourselves. Imagine, just imagine, we came into life fully equipped – consciousness, thoughts (beliefs), choice and humanity. Therefore, we don’t have to go anywhere to jump into the heart of the universe – because we are that heart. Let’s get to know who we are and how we operate. It begins by sincere and serious study of our OWN thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Step # 1. Yeah!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stupidest. Headline. Ever.

US Lowers Expectations for Quick Success in Taliban Stronghold.

'nuff said.

More "Make Believe Defines Reality"!

Wendy Wright, president of the Concerned Women for America, totally cracks me up in this article about a study which showed that the children of lesbian couples are better adjusted than children in the general populace. Wendy said
"You have to be a little suspicious of any study that says children being raised by same-sex couples do better or have superior outcomes to children raised with a mother and father. It just defies common sense and reality."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brooke on the The Gaza Flotilla

In this post, Brooke writes so beautifully, perfectly, clearly, passionately, self-awarely. Thank you Brooke! In part, she writes:

how rather than learning how not to oppress, those who have been oppressed learn how to oppress. it’s a powerful comment and drawing from my experience in the LGBTA community i can see it. i can see the oppression in my own behavior and language. when we are powerless, we want power, and we express that power in the ways we learned. thus it makes sense, to me at least, that israel would act the way it does, and for its spin machine to spin as fast as possible so that it can legitimize its actions. the state of israel, and my own state, needs to be right.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial day weekend in the U.S. is beginning. There shall be buckets and barrels and bushels of praise, glory, etc. heaped on war, war veterans, violence as a means to peace, etc. etc. Meanwhile U.S. vets shall continue to kill and torture people abroad, and shall continue to commit suicide at double the rate of others, and shall continue to struggle for the rest of their lives with combat related PTSD, depression, and a host of other problems. It's our annual culture-wide homage to the (caca de vaca) myth of redemptive violence. Here's to the country that spends 60% of the entire planet's violence budget.


Suppose that the universe is actually set up in such a way that you don't necessarily get the best possible outcome for you.


Suppose that the universe is actually set up in such a way that you necessarily get the best possible outcome for you.

AND suppose that (regardless of the above) you choose to believe that the universe is set up in such a way that you necessarily get the best possible outcome for you. Then:

1. Are there any downsides to such a choice?

2. And if so, what are they?

3. And if not, then ... are you going to make such a choice?

4. And if not, why?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chuck Colson is a dork

I mean that in the nicest possible way. This is hilarious. He should try out stand up comedy.

Words/phrases from this commentary:

  • a savage, covered head to toe in tattoos.
  • the continuing applicability of Old Testament law (especially re: shellfish) (note: parenthetical comment is my own)
  • pagans
  • gentiles
  • raw material on which we simply carve graffiti.
  • Even young women who mark their bodies with flowers or butterflies
  • Tattoos last a lifetime—unless they are painfully removed.
  • the higher and the lower, the superior and the inferior
  • a tattoo or, even worse, a body piercing

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Full of yes

What would it feel like, I wonder, if I were able to arrange my life, thoughts, and words in such a way that if a person were to follow me around 24/7 and record every time I said "yes" or "no", the ratio of "yes"s to "no"s were 100 to 1? I wonder what my current ratio is? My guess is that it's around 5 to 1. How about you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Autism the greatest gift for your [autistic] child?

In response to this question, my awesome friend Avak said today:

"YES ABSOLUTELY, coz he is perfect the way he is and happy the way he is, he IS making his own choices, he is not yelling out to us saying "please help me, i am struggling with autism" and his choices are fine with us, our effort and energy is now spent on showing him that he can make other choices that we typically make...loving & accepting him the way he is, has been the NUMBER 1 FACTOR for Nicholas growing and developing over the last 14 months, especially in the areas of eye contact, interactive attention span, & fleixibility...verbal communication is a working progress too...after having met many, many parents over the last 3 years with children with ASD...the major stumbling block that they all had in relation to their child (including my wife and I) was that they had a tough time accepting, REALLY accepting their child as they are, they are very uncomfortable that their child is not "normal" like all other kids...once you LET GO of that, your child's potential is limitless...;))))"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things I used to believe

A partial list

I am designed by God with a melancholic personality.
Not getting what I wanted makes me unhappy.
I can't get what I want.
It's not okay to be unhappy (Damn these last three are sort of a deadly trifecta).
My misery is both inevitable and my own fault.
Getting angry helps me get what I want.
When people are frightened of or repulsed by me, it's about me.
Masturbating is bad.
There is an objective reality more real than what I believe or don't believe.
I'm not very good at relating to people.
The world is a generally dark place--there is way more bad news than good news.
I should feel guilty if people are starving while I have plenty to eat. etc.
People are inherently bad.
I'm naturally good at spotting the things that are bad in other people and organizations.
If I negatively criticize myself out loud, that will help other people like me.
Other people are disgusted by my body, and that matters.
I can't draw very well.
The best way to not feel a negative emotion is to avoid touching it or looking at it.

Wow. I am so glad I don't believe any of those anymore. Wooohooooot!!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

She will not go behind her father's saying.

Sarah Palin is quoted today as saying "We're all Arizonians now" and "Mr. President, do your job--secure our border!".

I say Frost understood better. In "Mending Wall", he describes Palin perfectly:

He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What I miss in Seattle

Bag End. Thornton Creek. The Floating Meadow. Meadowbrook Community Center. A certain Bar on Lake City Way. Russell.

Chris, Laurel, Eric, Tony, Diana, Jennie, Jay, Mike, Ted, Renee, James B., Kindlings Muse, Seth, Russell.

Jim, Kat, Dad, Tracy, Saeid, Lily, Travis, Heather, Aliya, Sofi, Russell.

Knowing that pretty much anyone I met is going to think George Bush was a ******* of the worst sort. Seattle Weekly. Nathalie. Knowing automatically which way the cars would come from when I crossed the street. Knowing I could be in a foreign country in two hours. Knowing the city council would never actually do anything. Getting to watch Dino Rossi get squashed again =). Russell.

Christmas in winter. Spring in late May. Real Mountains on both sides. Alpine lakes. Shitty rocky "beaches". The generally awesome people selling Real Change for only a buck. Being able to find anything I wanted super cheap locally on craigslist. Chou Chou. Not paying international shipping from Amazon. Russell.

Knowing MHGS was just over there, in case I ever decided to go. A rain forest within a 2 hour drive. A natural hot springs in the snow within an hours drive, plus another one within a 2 hour drive. Knowing there was a town up that way called "Concrete". Knowing there was a horrifying thing over that way called "the gum wall". the waterfront. The terrifying Alaskan Way Viaduct, with the view northbound unbeatable. The Bat Tunnel. Floating Bridges. Russell.

Unlimited Internet downloading and uploading for a reasonable monthly fee. Knowing if anything went slightly or badly wrong there were at least 5 people who could and would come and help me in the next hour. Knowing where the good dumpsters were. Having a car. Knowing how to get out of a speeding ticket. Knowing how to avoid a speeding ticket in the first place. Being able to talk like other people talked. Knowing the local second language. Knowing the librarians. Knowing the University campus, and where the Pastafarians met, and knowing of a reasonably safe, postmodernish church (or two (or three)) that I could attend if I ever wanted too. Knowing where to go to buy something if I wanted to buy it. Having a multilayered full map of the city and surrounding areas instantly at my mental fingertips. Russell.

There. Done it--what I set out to do with this blog post. Having a good old cry, I am. Excellent.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rather be in Seattle?

These two are doing their annual crossover, as Melbuourne temps drop and Seattle temps rise.

All temps are degrees C (as civilized people use).

Forecast for St Kilda Vic this week:

Day, Min, Max

Tue, 9, 14
Wed, 8, 14
Thurs, 9, 15
Fri, 10, 18
Sat, 8, 18

Day, Min, Max

Tue, 8, 17
Wed, 9, 19
Thurs, 10, 20
Fri, 9, 18
Sat, 9, 17

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

My mother is dead. Nearly 2 years ago, some technicians burned her body, and the ashes got put in Salmon Creek near Oriole Campground and in a nasty cold box at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Please indulge me as I choose to link to the eulogy I wrote for her.

One of my internal voices says that for Mother's Day I should be instead writing about Megan. This voice, when questioned about the "should", appeals to principles with which I mostly agree. And yet ...

Call it a sort of closure with regards to the death of my mother.

I feel sad and happy. Awesome.

The Diary of Tristram Shandy

Tristram Shandy, the hero of a novel by Laurence Sterne, writes his autobiography so conscientiously that it takes him one year to lay down the events of one day. If he is mortal he can never terminate; but if he lived forever then no part of his diary would remain unwritten, for to each day of his life a year devoted to that day's description would correspond.

Coming Soon

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fill in the blank

This headline caught my eye today:

Arizona deputy shot by alleged undocumented immigrant

Other variations of the headline in today's news:

  • Arizona Pinal county deputy shot by suspected illegal
  • Arizona Deputy Shot By Alleged Illegal Immigrants
My first thought--what other labels could we put in, in place of "illegal immigrant", "undocumented immigrant" or the more evocative "illegal"

Arizona Pinal county deputy shot by suspected __________

Here's a few:

African American
Native American
rock climber
formula one driver
airline pilot

Gotta watch out for those alleged shrubbers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My story about the BB formerly in my left hand

(Note, if you're reading this on facebook, click on this note to see the whole note, and then click on "view original post", and then you'll be able to see the pictures!)

Many years ago, when I was aged 17 and less thoughtful and aware than I am now, I used to own a BB air pistol. It looked like this

I have always been one who likes it to be pitch dark at nighttime when I'm sleeping. Outside my home in Esperance (now part of Edmonds) Washington, directly outside my bedroom window, there was a street light (In fact, it's this exact street light right here (give it a second to load)). I had a relatively inexpensive blind on my bedroom window, and lots of light seeped in from the street light. One of my greatest desires at that time was to have the street light stop working. Toward this end, I used to occasionally, in the middle of the night, get out my BB gun and shoot BBs at the light. I would hit it, but it didn't really hurt the light that much. It had a very very thick plastic lens.

The BB gun runs on compressed CO2, which comes in a little canister which one places inside the handgrip and then forces into a needle/valve setup at the top by winding on the little screw at the bottom of the handgrip. When one winds it far enough, the needle inside the valve punctures the top of the CO2 canister, allowing the pressurized gas to enter the gun and provide motive power for shooting the BBs. The canisters and BB's look like this:

As you can see, the BB's are about 1/8 inch (3 millimeters) in diameter. They are steel with a copper coating. My gun held approx 17 BBs, which could be fired on semiauto. One CO2 canister was good for 250-300 shots. When it started to run out of CO2, the shots would become weaker and weaker, with the BB's falling well short of their intended target.

It should be noted that A: I had been through a certified gun safety course, and had regularly handled actual firearms with powder based munitions for years at this point and B: The prefrontal cortex does not finish developing until the early to mid 20's.

So on the particular night in question, I noticed that: A. My BB gun appeared to be out of bullets, and B. My BB gun's CO2 canister seemed to be winding down to empty. At this point I hit upon the brilliant idea of figuring out just exactly how empty my CO2 cartridge was by pointing my unloaded BB gun at my left hand and firing, and then judging the emptiness of my CO2 cartridge by the intensity of the air (minus the BB, mind you--just air!) that blew against my hand.

Unfortunately, there was exactly one BB still left in the gun. There was enough CO2 left in the cartridge to propel this BB through the inside wall of my palm, but NOT back out through the top of my hand. My immediate thought at the time was along the lines of "SHOOT (I didn't even think cuss words, back then--really), now I'm going to have to wake up my dad and tell him exactly what a stupid thing I've done, and he's gonna be furious". Funnily, my dad was very matter of fact. I suspect looking back that considering all the shit he saw in Vietnam, it was actually fairly low key and amusing for him.

He drove me to the Emergency Room, where a (in hindsight) fairly incompetent GP did surgery on my hand with local anesthetic. She sliced open my hand and tried for nearly an hour to remove the BB. I asked her why she didn't use a magnet, and she said they didn't have one. Then I asked what's the big deal--can't she just reach in and grab it? She said "nope, it's very complex and delicate in there--I could cause more damage". Finally she asked me what was it made of. Steel, I answered. She asked was I sure. Yes, I answered (I was wrong--it has a copper coating). "Okay," she said, "I'm going to leave it in there."

At this point I should have said "The Hell you are. You're staying here until it's out.". But being young and somewhat less aware and thoughtful than I am now, I acquiesced.

This led to about 3 weeks of physical therapy (Physio in Australia), regaining of full motion in my hand, and basically completely forgetting, most of the time, that I was partially a man of steel.

Fast forward 18 years, to about 8 days ago. My hand starting hurting, and I started losing range of motion. This got worse and worse as each day passed, until finally the pain was unbearable and I could hardly open or close my left hand at all. Finally, on Friday, I found myself being operated on by really nice plastic surgeon named Sofie, who afterwards said the BB was ensconced in a fibrous shell and the surrounding tissue was so inflamed and infected it was like "muck"--her word, not mine. Unfortunately I was basically asleep for the operation, and by the time I woke up they had disposed of the BB in such a way that it couldn't be recovered. Bummer.

So now I'm doing a little physical therapy on my own, have about 60% of the motion back in my left hand, and should be fine.

That's my story about the BB. Lesson learned--never point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot, even if it's just a BB gun. And perhaps also don't let people under 25 handle guns unsupervised. =). I mean there's a reason the car rental companies insist you be 25 before they rent to you, isn't there?

Monday, April 19, 2010

why my week is going to rock

Monday: Megan, E, C, Emma, Eileen, Harald, Ian, Becky, Neville
Tuesday: Megan, E, C, Melissa, Thomas, Kieran, Will, Avak, Anita, Nyrie, Nicholas, Lucy, Kerry, Campbell, Gabrielle,
Wednesday: Megan, E, C, Avak, Anita, Nicholas, Nyrie,
Thursday: Megan, E, C, Melissa, Thomas, Kieran, Will, Avak, Anita, Nyrie, Nicholas, Arlete, Kerry, Campbell, Gabrielle, Neville
Friday: Megan, E, C, Shelley, Kobe, Kate, Luke, Phil,

Also: Russell, Kat, Jim, Dad, John, and ... I could do this all morning. HURRAH!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Where I came from.

These two books both touch on what it means to be hurt during one's experiences with the institutional church. Mansfield's book will get more press and sell more copies, but Ulstein's book is 100% guaranteed (by yours truly) to be more readable and truer in the best sense of the term. Plus you can get a used copy of Ulstein's book delivered from Amazon marketplace for around $5 (in the U.S.--the delivery is going to cost slightly more in other countries).

Plus ... reading Ulstein's book will help you understand where I came from.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rohan Williams remarks re: child abuse by Catholic priests

I wouldn't have apologized. Credibility has *obviously* been lost. Admittedly "all" is one of the very large words. But comparing the pope's and the church's experience of criticism re: sexual-abuse-of-children-by-Catholic-preists to the experience of Jews during the holocaust? Seriously? One can charitably assume the pope's preacher, who said this, was serious. I would love to have a coffee with him and ask some questions--see where he's coming from.

I'm really mystified at the reaction to Williams' remark. It feels very much like a (desperate) attempt to protect those who have protected and enabled the perpetrators. Why are people afraid that the church has lost, or will lose, credibility? What if it's the best possible thing for it to lose credibility?

To me, a relevant question might be something like: Will Williams' remarks have a sum effect of (for instance) leading to more or less abuse of children by Catholic priests? And how does one's answer to this question affect one's reaction to the remarks?

Or another question that interests me: Is the Roman Catholic Church (and/or the institutionalized church as we know it) as an institution worth salvaging (in it's current form)? To me this might be related to the question: Is Applied Behavioral Analysis worth salvaging (as a treatment for autism)?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Irregardless", and "opposite" of "antagonym"

I'm always tempted, when using the word "regardless", to instead use the (non)word "irregardless", as a means of gently poking fun at people who actually do say "irregardless".

This reminds me that "flammable" and "inflammable", strangely enough, both mean exactly the same thing. There should be a word for this category of word pairs--pairs which sound opposite, but are actually identical. A sort of kitty-corner opposite for "antagonym"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forgiveness, or Non-judgment?

from Barry Neil Kaufman (today on his Facebook Page):

" 'WE WOULD NOT HAVE TO FORGIVE PEOPLE IF WE DIDN'T JUDGE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.' When I first said & wrote those words, it was controverial for some. If I seek to understand and love rather than judge, then "forgive" would be odd. In order to forgive, we first have to judge (even though you did something wrong/bad, I embrace you). We could love people and embrace people...anyway."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth hour 2010--today, Saturday march 27

Join more than 1 billion people in turning out your lights for one hour, at 8:30 PM. Watch your whole city go dark! See the web site: Earth hour

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BIG REACTIONS for what I want!

Learned via SonRise and recently re-learned via Jonathan Levy's brilliant book "10 things you can do right now for your child with autism":

Big reactions work out to a reward. Big reactions to negative stuff, and big reactions to positive stuff--they almost always cause a repeat of the behavior. So why were we trained to react BIG negatively to stuff we don't like our kids doing, and only react moderately positively to stuff we do like?

Tonite I heard via channels that one of my lovely girlikins had been pushing other children at school this term. She had mentioned a couple weeks ago that she sometimes pushed people even though she didn't want to--she felt she couldn't help it. I failed to stop and have a talk with her about it then. So tonite I asked "So, lovely little one, remember how you said you had been having trouble with pushing people and not being able to stop? Would you like to have a talk to see if we can help you find a way to stop?"

And she said, with a big delighted grin, "Oh! I've stopped! I tried and tried really hard and now I don't push people anymore!"

I figured it was time for a BIG reaction. So I made my facial expression BIG, and my voice BIG, and my body movements BIG, and I picked her up and squeezed her and said in my BIG voice "HOORAY!!!!! YOU ARE AMAZING AND AWESOME.". Then I started shaking my body all over, and scrunching up my face. She was looking at me a little wonderingly and curiously. I said "I'M SO PROUD AND PLEASED WITH YOU I'M ABOUT TO BURST BURST BURST WITH AMAZING JOY! HURRAH!!!!!!! I LOVE IT THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO STOP PUSHING PEOPLE. WAY TO GO!!!!"

She loved all this. Here's to BIG reactions to get more of what I want. Thank you, Bears, Samarhia, Tracey, Saeid, Jack, Kim, Kate, Caroline, William, Avak, Anita, Shelley, (WOW THIS LIST COULD GO ON AND ON!) all you super amazing beautiful SonRise people in my life. YOU ROCK ROCK ROCK ROCK ROCK!!!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Love is our resistance

This is my favorite of the 10 songs at the top of Billboards top rock songs right now:


Google's web index seems to be tilted toward Canada over Australia, so that regularly when I'm searching for things in Melbourne, Victoria, I get very high search results located in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I like "wierd" people

Yesterday on the tram, there was a lady in her mid 20's isming a little bit--tapping on the window in a repetitive way, and doing little repetitive vocalisms to herself, but loud enough to hear and sound a little strange. I was watching her and wanting to join her. She got up and looked a bit distressed, and then she said quite loudly, addressing noone in particular "Where is Saint Kilda???" So I looked her in the eye and said "Just stay on this tram--St Kilda is the last stop on this line". She lit up with a huge beautiful smile and looked right back at me and said "Thank you *so* much!" Hooray!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"You may wonder why we find no bones from dinosaurs from this era, and rightly so. But keep in mind that dinosaurs don't actually have bones—the whole dinosaurs had bones thing is all an elaborate hoax planned for His own divine amusement. Real dinosaurs, as any enlightened paleontologist—or bone doctor, as they prefer to be called—will tell you, were able to stand erect by engorging selected muscles with blood, making the once flaccid limb rigid. By alternating which muscles were engorged in the correct sequence, a very effective locomotion and rudimentary skeletal structure was achieved. Perverted readers may recognize that this mechanism is similar to what happens in the male penis. Dinosaurs were, in essence, not much more than a massive collection of penises (penii) under a thick skin. While very few accurate descriptions of these creatures have existed into present times, we can be pleased to learn that awareness of them has propagated generationally in our culture. Most men don't even realize that when they exaggerate the size of their penis—referring to it as "monstrous" or "dinosaurlike"—they are helping to keep alive the hidden truth of the strange and horny beasts
we know as dinosaurs."

~From "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster; A Condensed History of the World"

summary justice, American style

ala Eric Holder.

So much for Mr. Vincent's signature. (yeah, ok, that signature is already pretty much toast anyway.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Learned lately:

There is a big difference between wanting something and being unhappy if I don't have it or get it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I want right now

I want someone or several someones to help pay the US$3500 that it's costing to send Megan to this conference in the United States in May.

Friday, March 12, 2010

In the Beginning

In the Beginning was the Word,
And the Word was "Arrrgh!"

-Piraticus 13:7

(from the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Copyright 2006 Bobby Henderson. All rights reserved. etc. etc.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

un-angry injection--Would you take it? why or why not?

A thought experiment from Raun Kaufman.

Close your eyes, and imagine for a few moments that a substance has been invented which comes as an injection, and prevents you ever getting angry for the rest of your life. The shot is totally safe, it's free, and you only need to get it once, and you will simply be incapable of feeling anger for the rest of your life.

Would you take it?

Why or why not?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


6 year old C. walked into the kitchen last night without a stitch of clothing, preceded by her big voiced announcement "NOW PRESENTING .... JUNGLE GIRL!!!!!!"

Afterwards she explained in a smaller voice "Jungle people are naked."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

From whence? and where? and who?

From where do the weapons come--the ones which kill all the people who die due to the use of weapons?

How many people, among the ~180,000 who die each day, are killed by weapons of warfare?

Who gets the money spent on these weapons? And who spends it?

Who builds the weapons? And where are they built? And how much does the building of them prop up or contribute to the local economy, in those places? And do they/we realize this, or have answers to any of these questions?

Monday, March 1, 2010

prayers/good thoughts/etc. requested

My father is going under general anesthesia ~12 hours from now (1:30 PM GMT Monday) for total right shoulder replacement. He has a standing do not resuscitate order, and various other health problems, all of which together makes me slightly apprehensive. Please send prayers/good thoughts/etc. his way, if you are willing to. His name is Ben. Thank you =)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Five Finger Rule

From C's Year One (1st Grade) class--for dealing with other people doing something you don't like.

2.Walk Away
3."Stop it, I don't like it"
5.Tell the teacher.

Benjamin's Corollary to the Five Finger Rule: Become (almost (but not quite) obnoxiously) curious about and fascinated by the other's behavior.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Black people" as "species"?

An anti-abortion billboard campaign in Georgia has put up billboards announcing "Black children are an endangered species." to draw attention to the fact that "black" women are far more likely to have abortions than "white" women.

I put the terms in quotes because I'm not quite sure what they mean, in this context.

I wish I could ask someone who believes this what they mean.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How to get small and big

Today in the playroom with super amazing K. I had this conversation:

K: We can get very small and get into the truck (looking over at small truck on floor of playroom).

Benjamin: How shall we get very small?

K: We can look at the stars to get small.

Benjamin: Wow! what a great idea! That's an amazing way to get small!

K: And then we can go back to our normal sizes.

Benjamin: And how shall we get back to our normal sizes?

K: We can play with our friend to get back to our normal sizes!

Benjamin: Wow! I *love* it that you told me we can get back to our normal sizes by playing with our friend! And what friend shall we play with?

K: I'll play with you--you're my friend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There are reasons

why Charles Taylor and his son get prison and financial ruin for overseeing a regime steeped in torture, while W., Cheney, and Rove go on living "free" and wealthy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Humanitarian" "Aid"

(and, I suppose, "defense"--you know, the kind that costs US$1 Trillion per year)

This reminds me of something that happened to Megan and I in Liberia. Under the rule of Charles Taylor and friends.

H/T Martin

iPad vs. Kindle DX

I realized today (while speaking with my super brilliant friend Russell) that when you compare iPad to Kindle DX, well ....

Steve Jobs is a freakin' genius. One wonders what a chart would look like of the going price for used kindles on ebay since before the iPad was announced until after it starts shipping.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Make Believe Defines Our Reality, Religious/Mystical Experiences, and a Question

I have a question. Are you one of the 49% mentioned below? If so, why?

6% of Americans believe the Apollo moon landings were faked (Newport, 1999).
20% of Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth (Dean, 2005).
23% of self identified republicans believe their state should secede from the union.
24% of self identified republicans believe Obama "wants the terrorists to win" (Daily Kos, 2010).
24% of Americans believe in reincarnation.
25% of Americans believe in Astrology (Pew, 2009).
37% of Americans believe the sun will burn out at some point in the future.
40% of Americans believe in lucky numbers (Lightman & Miller, 1989).
44% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form sometime within the last 10,000 years (Gallup, 2008).
49% of Americans say they have had a religious or mystical experience defined as "a moment of sudden religious insight or awakening" (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2009).
100% of Benjamin Wheeler Ady IIIs believe that their Megan is madly in love with them (Ady, 2010).

Ady, B. W. (2010). Our make believe defines our reality, religious/mystical
experiences, and a question. Upside Down Under. Retrieved from
Daily Kos. (2010). Daily kos/research 2000 poll. Daily Kos. Retrieved from
Dean, C. (2005, August 30). Scientific savvy? In U.S., not much. The New York
Times. Retrieved from
Gallup. (2008). Origin of Human Life. Gallup. Retrieved from
Lightman, A. P., & Miller, J. D. (1989). Contemporary cosmological beliefs.
Social Studies of Science, 19(1), 127-136. Retrieved from
Newport, F. (1999). Landing a man on the moon: The public's view. Gallup
News Service. Retrieved from
Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life. (2009). Eastern, new age beliefs
widespread: Many Americans mix multiple faiths. Retreived from

Trusting our intuition

More evidence that we can benefit from trusting ourselves. In an upcoming interview, Jenny Sanford reveals that her husband insisted on removing the word "faithful" from their wedding vows, and that she chose to not listen to her own doubts regarding this.

Here's to listening to ourselves.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Coco, Googolplex and G64

Today Coco and I went for a walk. Coco is 5 about to turn 6. At one point, we ended up in front of the locked front gate of our friend Jimmy's house. Coco wanted to ring and go in for a play date. I didn't. Coco decided to use an argument settling technique which her parents had learned (and thereafter rather warped) from marriage counselors Les and Leslie Parrott. She asked "Dad, how much out of 10 do you want to *not* ring and ask for a playdate?" I answered

B: "10 (this is one of the two typical answers to this question in our household), and how much out of 10 do you want to ring and have a playdate?"

C: "Googolplex" (this is in the vein of the other typical answer in our household)

B: "Coco, do you realize that even most adults don't know what a googolplex is?"

B: (to a middle age couple walking by) "Excuse me, do you know what a googolplex is?"

Strangers: "No--what is it?"

B: "It's a very large number"

Strangers: (with look which seems to communicate "You are one wierd cookie") "Ok, thank you for that."

B: "Coco, did you know that there's a number even bigger than googolplex?"

C: "No, you said that was the biggest number."

B: "Oh, did I? Well I learned a bigger one. It's called G64"

C: "Oh, OK, I want G64 out of 10 to ring and have a playdate"

Rabbit Proof Vest

Please note the last definition in the this google search for "define: pathetic"

Smallish "Hooray!"--doomsday clock shifts


Saturday, January 30, 2010

22nd most generous.

"I do not accept second place for the United States of America."

-Obama, in his recent state of the Union address

Well, Mr. President--how does 22nd place strike you? 22nd most generous.

(Australia really isn't doing that hot on this list either, at number 15.)

See also the Committment to Development Index, on which the U.S. ranks 17th in a list of 22 rich nations.

Or, for those who would argue--show me an objective measurement which puts the U.S. in first or second place as most generous. And keep in mind the story of the poor widow's offering.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What if

What if generals, commanders in chief, bomber pilots, ammunitions corporation CEO's, gunship assembly line workers et. al. were simply required each and all to experience firsthand the sight and smell of the blood of those to whose violent deaths they contribute?

What if soldiers were first required to achieve intermediate competency in the language of anyone they were likely to shoot at?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All wars are religious

I remember learning this in a conversation I got into on the way home from University on the city bus with a fellow who was doing his doctorate in history, 2 years ago.

The figure for the U.S. in this table is wrong. It's closer to 7%, which puts the U.S. in the top 7. Everyone else in the top 7 are Muslim countries or Israel, which was stolen from Muslim countries by Jews supported by Christians.


By the way, don't get the wrong idea. the U.S. may be only 7th in military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, but we still spend well more than the rest of the world *combined* on "defense"/military expenditures. The reason we're seventh is that we have by far the largest GDP. This makes a certain sense--if you're the richest, and 2 billion people are living in extreme poverty, then of course you're going to have to build an increasingly expensive military fence to keep them out and maintain such an imbalance. In the same way keeping your house 40 degrees cooler or hotter than the outside temperature is a lot more expensive than than having it the same temperature, and also a lot more expensive than having it 10 or 20 degrees cooler or hotter than the outside temperature. As the difference in temperature increases, between inside and outside, it becomes increasingly expensive to maintain.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Retrograde orbit

Learned today--retrograde orbit--used to describe a planet which rotates in the opposite direction as the rotation of it's star.

Also learned, in trying to figure out what that means--stars rotate about their axes! And thus the sun, Sol, rotates about its axis (I was tempted to add an incorrect apostrophe in "its" there, just to annoy other nitpickers like me.) Morever, it's rotation is differential, which means it rotates at different speeds at the equator and the poles--a rotation every 27 days at the equator, and a rotation every 31 days at the poles. Given the circumference of the sun at the equator, this means that anyone standing on the equator is not only moving enormously faster than someone standing near the pole--they are moving *even more* enormously faster. Kewl. What is the speed of someone standing on the equator of the sun relative to the sun's axis?

If a dude stands at the pole, and another dude stands at the equator, so that they are on the same longitude, then given the differential rotation, what is the period between which they first are on the same longitude and they again are on the same longitude? Hmmmmmm.

Feel tiny yet?

How does the goldilocks zone of VY Canis Majoris compare to the Goldilocks zone of Sol, in AU?
I bet it's *way* further out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good on Amazon.

As part of a lawsuit settlement, Amazon.com sent the following to me today. I like the way the company has handled the whole thing.

Dear Kindle User,

We’re sending this note to remind you about proper attachment and use of your Kindle cover and about Amazon’s Kindle warranty. You can view instructions and illustrations here:

To install the Kindle, open the cover and lay it on a flat surface. Then insert the bottom attachment hook on the cover into the bottom slot on the left edge of the Kindle. Rotate the Kindle to insert the top attachment hook. Then slide the switch down slightly to lock the cover attachment hooks in place.

Be sure to place the Kindle flat on the cover during installation. Do not tip the Kindle at an angle during installation, as that may cause the cover attachment hooks to bend.

When using your Kindle with the cover, be careful to open the front cover only. If you open the back cover and pull the cover away from the Kindle, that may cause the attachment hooks to bend and could result in cracking or other damage to the Kindle.

How kewl is that--a simple little instruction about how to prevent damage to your kindle? Kind of like telling a new car owner to change the oil regularly and drive gently and sensibly. Now I know. Nice work Amazon. Here's to the justice system working well for sensible people.

Your Kindle is covered by a One-Year Limited Warranty you can view here: http://www.amazon.com/kindlewarranty

If the attachment hooks on your cover have become bent, or your Kindle has developed cracking or other damage near the location where the hooks connect to the Kindle, please contact Kindle Support by phone or email regarding warranty replacement.

You can reach us via phone or e-mail through our website by clicking the Contact Us button on our help pages at http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport or directly by calling one of these numbers:
Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851, Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927.

For more information, please see the Warranty Service section of the Kindle Return Policies Help page:

The Kindle Team

Please note: this e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.

Think I'll move to .... (Wait for it)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I was in prison ...

View Larger Map

Is Jesus saying that those whose visit the folks in these get in, and the folks who don't don't? Nah. Couldn't be that simple. Must be something more complex and easier than that.

Apparently it's a lot easier to find one to visit in the U.S. than in Australia. (Hey check it out--the U.S. has it's very own private color on that map. I wonder if "defense" spending is correlated with incarceration rate? I hypothesize that it is.)

If I were in prison, I'd want people to visit. Lots of people. I'd want to know they were coming back regularly. But I've never once visited anyone in prison. You?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pathetic Irony

I found the combination of the story and the ads currently on this page striking.

Civilian casualties soar in Afghanistan

According to this United Nations Report, 2009 was the worst year since the U.S. invasion and occupation in terms of number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

I know what let's do. Let's spend an extra US$33 Billion to send an extra 30,000 guns and FSM-knows-how-much extra ammuntion into the country. That'll fix it for sure. And there will be the added bonus of lots of extra income for this guy, the CEO of ATK

ATK, the world's largest maker of ammunitions for "small" arms, says in its 2009 annual report to stockholders:

Fiscal year 2009 was another strong year for ATK. Sales were up 10 percent to $4.6 billion—our 6th consecutive year of double-digit sales growth. Absent a non-cash, non-deductible charge, earnings per share (EPS) increased 23 percent to $7.75—the third straight year of EPS growth in excess of 15 percent. And importantly, we generated strong cash flow to invest back into our business, drive our growth, and strengthen the value of our company for our shareholders. By all accounts, these are outstanding results. For 2010, we are again forecasting higher revenue and EPS.


Nathaniel's writing in this post resonated with me. My sense is that by "Out of" here he means "Having gotten away from", or even "Having escaped"

Out of this life-long struggle to be right is emerging a powerful new way to love: accepting another right where they are, whether or not I want to follow their ideas or way of life.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and Afghanistan

Obama wants to send US$100 Million to help out with the disaster in Haiti, population ~10 Million.
He wants an additional US$33 billion to "help out" with the disaster in Afghanistan, population ~12 Million.

Deaths via earthquake in Haiti ~50,000
Deaths via Operating "Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan ~30,000

Here's what $100 million and $33 billion look like written out:


People who will get even more filthy rich from aid efforts to Haiti--no one that I'm aware of.
People who will get even more filthy rich from war efforts in Afghanistan: well--there's a long list, but for instance: Kenneth Dahlberg, CEO.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Division by zero

has the sneaking suspicion that the ratio of the number of my friends on facebook to the number of actual friends who live within 100 kilometers of me may be undefined in normal algebra.

That's if one defines "actual friend" as someone who's not a family relation AND whom I am likely to call up any evening of the week to arrange a beer date with.

This is a make-believe about which I feel unhappy. Perhaps I'll discard it for a happier-making one. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I'll take Jack's advice and just fully feel it in the now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thoughts on Cameron's "Avatar"

(warning: spoilers)

I've seen Avatar twice, both times in 3-D. I enjoyed it as a story--I thought it did its storytelling pretty well, moved along, and kept one engaged. The first time I saw it, my general response was "Well, nice to see the little guy win in the movies, since that hardly ever happens in the real world (to wit: native Americans, native Australians etc. etc. etc.)"

The second time I saw it, I went straight from the movie to Sunday dinner with not one but TWO Australian Anglican priests (NOT Episcopalian, but honest-to-God Anglicans). The younger of the two said, in response to a question about his opinion of the movie, that it was "the same old American tale rehashed yet again" and that "Hollywood has a limited number of narratives". He went on to say the Americans are just retelling their own story of the little guys standing up against the overwhelmingly superior military power and somehow (miraculously) winning out against all odds--the whole Revolutionary War/War for Independence.

This fascinated me and I found myself mentally casting the movie in a new light. I realized that while on the surface it seems to be very clearly castigating W. (with his whole Bush doctrine/preemptive strike against the people who are (arguably justifiably) pissed off at us) and the whole American military/industrial complex (to wit: the U.S. represents 5% of the world's population but spends 55% of the world's budget for guns/bombs/miltary aircraft et. al.), underneath the movie is really just perpetuating the myth of redemptive violence which leads (more or less directly) to the *existence* of the military/industrial complex, 100,000 extant nuclear warheads, etc. etc. etc.

Which is to say that it would have been way kewler and way more heartfelt, somehow, if Cameron had done something more interesting like have all the natives lie down in front of the bulldozers with their babies (see: Rachel Corrie) or all show up at the physical location of the humans factory/compound and simply wait to be let in, totally unarmed, until they starved or were helped, after their home tree had been destroyed. Something more Ghandi/MLK Jr.esque.

Instead what we have is Sully convincing himself of the idea that he is no longer one of the humans--to the extent that he calls them aliens at the end of the movie--in the same way that Americans have more-or-less convinced ourselves that we are no longer one of the Brits/leaders of the most-powerful-and-thus-necessarily-increasingly-Machiavellian empire. Thus *we*, unlike those evil humans/Brits/what-have-you, can now exercise violence for the good, rather than for something far-less-than-the-good (which is what "they" were using it for).

I'm not convinced. In the real world, the Native Americans commit fewer atrocities than the Americans of European descent not because they have a better religion and thus can exercise violence more benignly, but rather because they simply got their butts royally kicked. In the real world, the Na'vi, having gotten a taste for butt-kicking, would have done exactly what we Americans have done--emulated, more-or-less, the worldview (oh dear FSM, I've used that word) of the seemingly more powerful culture whose butt they just kicked, and built bigger starships to go take over earth and export their morally superior Na'vi ways to the humans, with only the very best of intentions. This would have led to humans being 'accidentally' tortured to death in prisons on earth by a few "bad Na'vi apples". etc. etc.

There's my 2 cents.

Still, for the kewl 3-D thing and the pure swashbuckling adventure, and even just to climb on the increasingly large bandwagon, I'd recommend going to see it in the theatre, in 3-D--preferably in IMAX 3-D. Go on--you can afford the $15-$20. I mean if you're reading this, you're probably not one of the 2 billion people living on $2/day or less.

Learned today: "Dob in"

Another Australianism which means "to turn someone in to the authorities"

Also learned: 43 degrees Celsius is equal to 110 degrees fahrenheit, and feels like a furnace, and one should stay inside where (hopefully) it's cooler.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Learned: "Cool change"

An australianism.

A rant re: Gran Prix in Albert Park

Not only is there going to be obnoxiously loud, greenhouse gas superproducing, grass/park destroying gran prix racing in the park next to our place in march this year, but it's sponsored by Bridgestone, which has been linked with the use of child labor in Liberia rubber farms.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Go (Aussie female) figure

This story today about a U.S. Marine Captain who wrote a letter to the editor of the Northern Territory News in Darwin, Australia, complaining that the local girls were wearing clothing that was too skimpy.

It reminds me of my lovely wife being told by the women at a church in the U.S. that her skirt was too short. My lovely mother in law, who had purchased the skirt in question for my wife, responded to the story with "Well, they're just jealous, sweetie".

Here's to whole-body envy disguised as cultural imperialism. =)

Dumpstering, and Megsie as Eve

Dumpster of Eden from Mary Janisch on Vimeo.

You kick ass, beautiful one.