venerdì, gennaio 20, 2012

So much for principles

I blame you,, you arse. Without warning, the cunts ceased to offer free shipping to Australia for orders over 25 pounds, while I had things for my upcoming terrorism course sitting in my shopping basket. Cunts. Cunts. So then I decided to stop being a noob and to check on Griffith's library resources, which I hadn't had to use yet, only having been in language courses. And found that as a student there I could borrow whatever I wanted, for free. Digitally. Well, there you are. It's done. I'm going to the dark side. Fast. Now. Holy shit, this is awesome. I went from feeling this morning like Amazon being a cunt had cut into the quality of my Antipodean life to feeling like - holy shit - the cost of a university education is gonna plummet.

In a sense it makes me sad because I have a feeling the university life I loved on campus, that helped make me into a person I like and introduced me to so many people who are still good friends, but in another sense, suddenly maybe more people can afford to go to university who can't afford to leave their podunk towns to go to a university town and use their library. I don't know. There's no free lunch, right? I think more people being able to get a university education is probably the greatest good, but if the university lifestyle is lost that'll be a blow to society too.

Anyways, back to drowning in consumer choice. Everybody and his brother is making e-readers now. The question is which to buy, and do I be a wanker and buy an overpriced iPad even though the screens are shiny? Fuck. I don't know.

mercoledì, gennaio 18, 2012

Nearing bursting point

Safe to say I'm close to my apogee of misanthropy today. You know the idea that there's some sort of conflict between the sexes? I dispute that; I'd say instead that the world is just full of fucking ill-natured morons, either innies or outies, who can't manage to ignore how other people are ill-natured morons when they have a sexual or parental relationship with them and who can't appreciate that they, themselves, are also ill-natured morons to an equal or greater degree.

Peace reigns supreme in the Dread Pirate household, BTW, or nearly supreme. This is all second-hand shit that comes with living in a small town - yet another manifestation of a time when an ill-natured moron (like me) cannot successfully ignore other people being ill-natured morons (like everybody else) because we all live in a small town. I'm really close to saying fuck this shit. I miss cities. I think the very best thing in the world would be to be really rich and living in a city, so you could afford a garden but also make bi-weekly trips to a proper hammam and eat good Chinese food, and then have a cottage for when you're feeling the need to be windswept and Romantic. But will I ever be rich? Will I, fuck. My target at this point is just not to owe the bank any money, which means having very little money, but a fucking paid-for house in a small fucking town that is grinding. My. Gears. Fuck.

Luckily I'm going to have a little break next week, when we have a break for the Lunar New Year, and I go visit Romola in New Zealand. Even though on the face of it New Zealand doesn't seem like an appropriate place to go for a break from an isolated small town, it'll work because I'm heading to Christchurch. Admittedly a lot of Christchurch has fallen down recently but Romola has reported that there is still a lot of European pastry and other bits of delicious food, and we'll go camping and hiking and kayaking, and I can confide in her utterly. Oh, what a stroke of luck for me that she's moved to this benighted pit of soulless, mouth-breathing Anglophonia.

Anyways, I'm off for a run - hopefully that'll help.

lunedì, gennaio 16, 2012

Essays and exams and English, oh my

Good news and bad news this week. The good news is that I get to do a course about international terrorism next semester toward my Asian studies certificate, but the bad news is that means I can't get the pain of my subsidized Chinese classes over until the end of August. It's not offered next semester. That's okay. I feel like I can use that time to consolidate a lot of what I've learned so far - we've been rushing through - especially if I spend that month in Shanghai my boss said I could have.

Frankly I'm stoked to actually be doing an arts course in English again. I haven't done that since 2001 - back when terrorists were still lovable rogues played by Brad Pitt. And I'm obviously interested in the subject matter. The courses I did in France, even though the degree had a decidedly military bent, didn't focus hard on asymmetric warfare. They did a bit, but since most of the professors were from the military, and the French history of dealing with insurgent groups isn't, ah, pleasant, what we covered was limited. After the coursework there I know how to invade Russia, though. If the French learned from their mistakes, that is.

Next semester is going to be super-busy so I'm reading ahead. Well, actually I'm just reading ahead because I can borrow the F-word's copy of Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism. And actually I'm not reading ahead, because I don't have the reading list yet. I'm just reading it because I want to. He indulges in quite a lot of preaching to the choir, but Hobsbawm has a way of framing events differently, and this book is less unreadable than most.

domenica, gennaio 15, 2012


I read Frankenstein on Saturday. I didn't think I was enjoying it and then suddenly seven hours had passed and it was over. Truth be told I'm still not sure how I feel about the book. It's hard for me to tell if it was written by a young girl with a real soft spot for weak, useless, cowardly men - totally possible - or if it was written by a literary genius with keen and subtle eye for human, especially male frailty. I'm leaning toward the second. She was Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter, after all.

The thing that weighs me 100% toward the second now is the framing device. Frankenstein dies a total douchebag. Just a few pages after all his fine words about limitations and not doing things that get everybody killed, he delivers a big rousing dying speech to the ship's crew about how they should all man up and get killed. And the narrator, who's a douchebag-in-embryo, thinks it's lovely, even though some of the crew have already died, and the narrotor thinks that probably the crewmembers who were still alive'd be convinced by it.

And then bam! Next section and they've turned the boat around to go home. Frankenstein is full of shit, everybody knows it except our unreliable narrator - an unreliable narrator framing Frankenstein, the second unreliable narrator. And then the monster comes for his swansong, and that's that. Monster gets the last word, indeed the last value judgement: Framing Unreliable Narrator's all in shock as the book closes, and doesn't have a word left to say.

Okay, I guess I quite like it. But I've had to think about it.