Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Shielded Against Diseases

I stared at the drill bit coming closer and closer to my forehead.  It was difficult to tell whether it was the drill itself or the visible tremor in the hands of the heavily tattooed maniac holding it that was more disturbing.

"Guys, I'm really not sure about this."

"Oh for god's sake," snapped my tech support, "do you want a hepatitis vaccination or not?"

"Are you certain this is going to work?"

"Define certain."

I waved away the "surgeon" and fumbled with the restraints.

"Why was it necessary to strap me down?"

"Sometimes there's a little bit of thrashing around,  the occasional violent convulsion, quite frequently the patient runs out of the room screaming before the procedure is complete, or in fact started."

"Do any of you actually have a medical degree?"

"No but we've operated on a lot of doctors who do.  We've rarely had complaints."

I thought of asking "why not" but decided against it.

"Look, if you don't like getting vaccinations why do you insist on travelling to countries that need them?  And this is only for hepatitis.  Just wait until we get on to the rabies shots."

"There's no need for that," I assured them.  "I'm not going to be patting any monkeys and besides I happen to know that Thailand leads the world in the treatment of rabies."

Oddly my tech support looked a little affronted.

"It may surprise you to know that we have had incredible success with our new rabies treatment," they huffed.


"Clinical trials showed a 100% success rate.  Every political prisoner we injected contracted rabies."

"You conduct medical experiments on political prisoners?"

"Would you prefer it if we conducted them on people we liked?"

"Human rights are still a work in progress in Belarus aren't they?"

"I'll have you know that we currently have the fewest political prisoners in our country's history."

"That's good news, is the government becoming more liberal?"

"No, mostly its the rabies.  Do you need a tetanus booster while we're here?"

"All fine on that front," I assured them.  "My last tetanus shot still has a long time to run."

"That's probably just as well," they replied.  "Stanislaus is an excellent surgeon but sometimes he does forget to disinfect the drill between uses."

"Tell me why am I doing this instead of just going to a doctor?"

"Because we're ten dollars cheaper and have the names of the hottest ladyboy hookers in Bangkok."

I turned to Stanislaus, "Is this likely to hurt?" I asked.

"Oh hell, yes," he replied cheerfully.

"Better tighten the restraints then."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Well That's Over For Another Three Years

Well my homeland went to the polls last weekend and now the dust has finally settled it would appear that incumbent prime minister Scott Morrison has pulled off the greatest escape trick since Houdini.  All of the polling indicated that the Coalition were going to be crushed and instead they have been returned to power with an increased majority, which is to say they actually have a majority.

Various supporters of the losing side have been raving about how ignorant, racist, xenophobic, climate denying, fascistic and generally despicable the Australian population is and how short sighted they were in failing to realise the glittering magnificence that had been offered to them.  If nothing else its an interesting insight into what happens when a group of self obsessed narcissists finally learn the opinion of people outside their immediate social circle.  The leadership of the Labor party itself has been somewhat more circumspect.  There will, after all, be another election in three years and the leadership at least realises that you can't refer to the electorate as verminous scum until after you've removed their ability to select their own leaders.  Instead they went down the path of admitting that they hadn't explained their policies clearly enough.

Explaining policies clearly is an issue that bedevils both parties.  There are two major problems with clearly explaining your policies.  In order to clearly explain them you would first have to understand them.  Secondly if you did explain your policies clearly and in detail the likelihood is that people wouldn't vote for them.  It doesn't matter what the policy is there are always losers and unfortunate side effects and there are generally enough people on the wrong end of the policy to make getting elected on it problematic.

So the Labor party has done the only thing it can, replace its leader and (at least by implication) foist all of the responsibility for the preceding disaster onto his shoulders.  Never mind that it was the same party that gave him the job in the first place.

Over on the other side of politics Scott Morisson has a different problem.  Firstly there is a certain amount of triumphalism at the unexpected win.  That's understandable but should be kept in perspective.  The government has a majority of two.  One car accident will put them back into minority government.  The second problem may be of more long term concern.  As noted everybody thought the Coalition was going to lose this one.  As a result a large number of talented rats abandoned the apparently sinking ship in the lead up to the election.  This leaves Morrison in the unenviable position of appointing a new front bench out of people who honestly thought that working for a crushed and eviscerated opposition party was the best job offer they were likely to get.

Still the Morisson government can claim it has a mandate.  The only problem is that nobody really seems to know what the mandate is for.  Morisson essentially campaigned on tax cuts (Liberal Party 101 but a safe bet) and not being Labor.  He'll probably get the tax cuts through and I think we can all agree that he isn't Labor.  Apart from that its a little difficult to see not just what he'll do but why he went to all the effort of winning government in the first place.  What ever it is I guess he'll claim he has a mandate for it.  At least as long as all of his MPs drive safely.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Leichhardt is a suburb of Sydney traditionally associated with the Italian community.  Italian restaurants, shops and cultural spaces dominate Norton Street, traditionally the main thoroughfare through the suburb.  At least I presume they do, that's what wikipedia says anyway.  Hopping off the light rail at Marion you don't actually see any of this.  Winding its way, as it does, through the backs of suburbs means that it's rare that you actually get off it anywhere immediately accessible to an urban centre.  What you get instead is Marion Street which, if you follow it long enough, will indeed connect with Norton Street and, apparently, all things Italian except the Colosseum.

At least it will if you turn left after getting off the light rail.  If you turn right you wind up in Haberfield and may God have mercy on your soul.  Immediately available from the light rail station are various houses, a sports ground and a car dealership (German cars not Italian ones).  Oh yes, and the Hawthorne Canal.  The Hawthorne Canal got a bit of a shout out in the previous light rail blog entry and it has gone from strength to strength.  Up at Lewisham West it looked like a sewer someone had forgotten to cover over.  At Taverners Hill there was enough water to prompt the presence of the occasional confused looking ibis but here at Marion it really does look like a proper canal, albeit a rather shallow one.  It's easy to see why; puncturing the stone sides are a series of entrance pipes which deliver, let's be generous and call it water to the main canal and provide a generous channel of liquid for the eye's entertainment.

It isn't really a canal in the context of a man made waterway.  It was actually a perfectly natural creek that flowed northward until it collided with the Parramatta River (and in a somewhat altered form, it still does).  European settlement leapt eagerly on this source of fresh water and it wasn't long before the thing was a stinking open sewer.  In response to this the authorities lined the creek with stone and artificial banks giving it a distinctly canal-like appearance and a new name to boot.  Why exactly lining a creek with stone was supposed to have a positive impact on all the people pissing, shitting, puking and dying in it I'm not entirely sure.

In a small park near the station there is a sign giving the history of the creek/canal and making the somewhat censorious comment that stone lining a water way had a terrible effect on biodiversity and of course such an atrocity could never occur in these enlightened times.  The diversity might have taken a serious hit but there is at least some bio still hanging around in the form of the trees lining the banks, birds nesting (or possibly just hanging out) in the bushes and, in defiance of all probability within the canal itself.  I was standing on a bridge looking at the "water" when a series of bubbles broke the surface.  Peering closer I was rewarded with the sight of an entire shoal of little fish swimming vigorously downstream, apparently blissfully unaware of the impact the stone had had on their biodiversity.  Nearby was an official looking sign that had pictures of a fish, a swimmer and a dog all with diagonal red lines through them.  Presumably fishing, swimming and dogging were all prohibited at this part of the canal.

I'm not quite sure why it was thought that Marion was a good place for a light rail station.  Again I suspect that the builders simply slotted in the stations wherever they had the space but plenty of people got off at the station along with myself and they can't all have been writing blog entries.  The one thing I have never seen is a light rail train that was empty.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Obligation Fulfilled

I revelled in the darkness, an all encompassing shroud.  At the very edge of my awareness things I couldn't name twisted and writhed in a tortured parody of movement.  There was pain there, unimaginable pain and worse; misery and endless despair.  But the darkness cocooned me from the anguish, leaching away the torment and blending it with emptiness until it became the darkness itself.  Perhaps I writhed and screamed myself, if I did the darkness sheltered me from that as well.

A voice pierced my consciousness and with it a shaft of pure, blinding light that tore into me, stripping away my shield, leaving me naked and helpless.  I screamed, as much in horror as pain and the voice ancient and immeasurably cruel dug pitilessly into my mind.

"It's sunlight you twat, now get out of bed!"

Of all the ghastly multidimensional beings I could have sold my soul to I had to choose the one who thought it was an alarm clock.  Still my master had spoken and I scrambled out of bed to make my morning obeisance, touching myself in the sacred places and offering myself to him.

"Would you please stop playing with yourself.  That is not a sight I need to see before breakfast, or any other time for that matter."

I dashed my head to the floor,

"Oh grim and terrible lord, how may I serve you?"

"Stop grovelling and tell me why you haven't written a blog entry lately."

Frantically I babbled excuses; my correspondents were lazy and unreliable, my tech support was being investigated by the UN for crimes against humanity, my day job had been very stressful and the final season of Game of Thrones was on Foxtel.  I shouldn't have mentioned that last one.  My master hadn't watched Game of Thrones since they killed off Ramsey Bolton.

"Basically you couldn't be bothered," there was more than a hint of accusation in that grim tone.

Well, when you're caught you're caught.  I shrugged and stared at the ceiling.

"As always lord your insight is without peer."

"Shut up and write a damn blog entry.  We're halfway through May and you've done nothing."

"As you command it lord," I gabbled.  "I shall write a blog entry to entertain you in the grey wastes of eternity.  There will be drama, there will be heartbreak, trial and ecstasy."

"You're just going to slap together a few paragraphs of overblown rubbish based on this conversation aren't you?"

I stared at the ceiling again until he gave the metaphysical equivalent of a shrug.

"Oh for pity's sake just get on with it will you."

I rose to do my master's bidding when he spoke once more.

"I don't suppose I could persuade you to take your soul back could I?  I'll throw in someone else's to sweeten the pot if you like."