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A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.
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Sunday, 29 May 2005
Yes, The Git is back, though since his life remains as busy as ever, it's likely to be an intermittent return. "What's been happening?" those of you suffering withdrawal symptoms type at me. First, SWMBO's casual local job finished in February last year and until mid-May, she remained jobless. Note the word: jobless -- not unemployed. She made great progress in developing the decorative garden.
Second, The Git had bitten off far more than he can comfortably chew. Yes, he knows that it's a mistake to attempt to swallow anything bigger than your head... The Git withdrew from his two favourite courses in order to concentrate on Symbolic Logic and the Philosophy of Biology, and attempt to finish the cottage renovation. He failed Introductory Symbolic Logic, received a Distinction in Philosophy of Biology and failed utterly to finish the cottage. His excuse for the latter is that SWMBO found a job working for the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation. Shortly afterward, she suggested/ordered [delete whichever is inapplicable] The Git to come and help. He is now the Verification Officer (Officer for Truth? but not necessarily Justice) and second in command. Early on, he requested a 25% pay rise and has since been given a further 30% pay rise and permanency; that is, four weeks of paid annual holidays, paid public holidays and sick leave.
Although The Git had successfully withdrawn from two classes previously, his withdrawal from History and Heritage, and Chance Coincidence and Chaos in first semester was not accepted by UTas Administration. Perhaps they lost the form. They don't give receipts, so The Git cannot prove that he withdrew. The Faculty put The Git on probation! [Probation, n. A trial period during which an offender has time to redeem himself or herself]. Since The Git has noticed that no record is kept of lecture attendance and he is mainly at the university for personal development, thought he might withdraw from this year's classes, but attend them anyway. In the event, he took a year's Leave of Absence.
The Gitling left home. Possibly he's learning some wisdom, too. A few weeks afterward, he announced: "I've decided it's a mistake to try to grow up too quickly". The Git replied: "Me too!" The room the Gitling occupied is just the right size for The Git and SWMBO, their computers, books and such. The Gitling returned home, having discovered that his housemates were not all that careful about paying such things as the rent, telephone bill, electricity...
Given The Git's execrable experience of waiting 24 weeks for his Sony monitor to be repaired, The Gitling decided to purchase a 19" ViewSonic with Trinitron tube. Very nice, but alas, the display became severely distorted after a couple of weeks. ViewSonic's service was somewhat better than Sony, but still far from stellar. Some weeks before The Gitling made his purchase, The Git emailed them to ascertain who the local service agents were since their website keeps that a secret. It's still a secret, even though The Gitling has also emailed them to tell them that his monitor became unusable in less than a month. He didn't hear back either. It took a phone call to determine who the local service agent is and they are much better than Sony's local agent. Unfortunately, it took nearly two months for the monitor to be replaced. The Git's next monitor will not be a ViewSonic, or a Sony!
The Git celebrated the move into The Gitling's room by purchasing a new computer. It's a 2.8 GHz P4 in an ASUS P5P800 MoBo with 1 GB of Geil RAM. The video card is an ATI Radeon 9200 based device made by Abit. The 74GB hard disk is a 10k rpm Western Digital Raptor and there's a Pioneer DVD rewriter for removable storage. Usually, The Git would have purchased an A-Open case, but on this occasion he chose an Antec SOHO server case. Very nice it is, too. Lots of room, easy to open swinging side panel, easy to work inside, removable drive cages... Although the supplied Antec fans are reasonably quiet, the noise from the Intel CPU fan is far from acceptable. Replacing the case fans with Vantec Stealth fans has in a sense made matters worse. The sound of the Intel fan is all that can be heard. It alone is louder than the eight other fans in the computer room combined. The Git has ordered a Coolermaster Hyper48, though sadly it will take at least a month to arrive.
The new machine was to be an Apple iBook, but two attempts to purchase one failed: "Come back in X weeks when we have some stock". Crap! The new Mac Mini appears to be more available, but that came out a few weeks after purchasing the P4.
Right now The Git's chewing up disk space by recording lots of vinyl for transfer onto CD. Initially, he tried to use an XPSound as an adapter between the phono and computer, but The Git's phono cartridge is an Audio Technica moving coil. While moving coil cartridges offer a number of advantages over moving magnet: lower stylus tip mass, lower record and stylus wear, the output was 20 dB too low for the XPSound. The Git had a custom ultra low noise 20dB gain amplifier that used to live in the old Stereo amp, but got lost before he installed it inside the new(ish) Rotel receiver. One alternative to purchasing another step-up amp, or transformer, was to purchase a new phono cartridge of the moving magnet variety. There's been lots of progress in their design over the twenty years since The Git replaced his Grace F8 with the Audio Technica and the lower end are remarkably inexpensive. However, The Git found a Pro-Ject Phono Box that understands both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. The redundant XPSound will go to my favourite brother-in-law as a gift.
One of the first discs The Git transcribed was The Johnny Rocco Album featuring Leo de Castro. A friend had purchased an almost mint copy of this early 70s vinyl recording and brought it to me for transfer to CD. Needless to say, I was more than happy to do this in return for a copy for myself. Before calling The Git a pirate, be aware that the record hasn't been available for purchase for nearly thirty years. It was released in Amerika, but the promoter never paid the artists a red cent for that. When he gets around to paying Leo, Matchfist and the other guys, The Git will get around to paying for his copy of the record!
The Git continues to be amazed by Americans amazement because nobody else in the world seems to like them any more. Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with what Americans are doing to the rest of the world!
The Git was listening to Eye Spy, a Radio National feature:
"seeking to penetrate the culture of the Intelligence world, with frank and fearless contributions from three former insiders -- Andrew Wilkie (ex ONA), Ray McGovern (27 years with the CIA) and David Callan, who after seven years with ASIO decided the truth really was out there, and resigned to become an actor and stand-up comedian".
The CIA spook, Ray McGovern mentioned a fact that pricked up The Git's ears. Apparently, international terrorist attacks account for a mere 340, or so deaths per annum. The Git was more than mildly surprised. The US government is spending billions of its taxpayers dollars to kill thousands of Iraqis in its so-called "War on Terror" when the odds on being killed by a terrorist make winning a huge lottery look favourable.
A total of 3,547 people were killed in international terrorist attacks in 2001, "the highest annual death toll from terrorism ever recorded," according to the U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report.
Of the total fatalities, 90 percent occurred in the September 11th attacks on the United States, the "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2001" report said. By comparison, in 2000, 409 people died in international terrorist attacks.
The full report is available on the US State Department's Internet website.
The United States Government (The National War College) describes terrorism as the "use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of a country for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom". That sounds pretty close to what the Americans are doing to the Iraqis, rather than the reverse. There is no evidence The Git knows of that the Iraqi government passed a law to sanction invasion by the US! The American Revolution itself was the use of force to intimidate the British government. The American Revolutionaries were, according to the National War College definition, terrorists.
We need to differentiate between domestic and international terrorism. Domestic terrorism, the common sort, involves a disagreement about legitimacy of government. For example, various Palestinian organisations are frequently characterised by the US, Australian and other governments as "terrorist" organisations. The purpose of the Palestinian organisations is to resist the foreign occupation force of Israelis who "in violation of the criminal laws of" Palestine invaded and seized the property of its legitimate owners. The Israelis could hardly have done this without the funding and support so liberally provided by the US government. Or the prior British invasion.
Mad King George continues to irritate anybody more intelligent than a fence post. His recent pronouncements include the ludicrous statement that, after winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis by shooting and on occasion torturing them, he is benevolently returning their "full sovereignty". Sovereignty used to mean "full control", but the Americans won't be allowing the new "sovereign" government in Iraq to make their own laws. The U.S. military commander retains control of the country. The draft resolution(s) to the UN makes that abundantly clear. In his election campaign, George described both Afghanistan and Iraq as "democracies". Gosh! And The Git thought that in democracies you got to vote for your leaders. Neither country had had an election since being invaded by the US-led coalition forces. Maybe George had a vision about the future of democracy (US-style).
And while we are on the topic of elections, Mad King George and his partners in crime ordered Australians to vote for Wicked Prince John in the recent federal election, or suffer the demise of the longstanding relationship between the two countries. Voting for the Labor opposition was a threat to America. Apparently, the idea that in a democracy, you get to vote for the party of your choice is something that Mad King George, Colin Powell etc etc no longer will tolerate.
Australia complied, leading one to suspect that the population of sheep in Australia is greater by several million than the usual estimates.
Oh yes, the excuse for this need to influence an Australian election was that the Labor Party wanted to bring some (not all) Australian troops home for Christmas. They were not numerous, a few hundred at most, and their role appeared to be such things as air-traffic control. Apparently, their absence would "completely demoralise the Iraqis". Presumably, the American method of moralising them, torture, death and lies is less effective than anticipated.
And while we are on the topic of Australia/America relations, The Git is bemused by the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. Under the agreement, Australian sugar producers are still not allowed to sell any sugar whatsoever to the US. Cattle graziers will be allowed to sell one extra beast per annum to the US -- sixteen years after the agreement becomes law. American pharmaceutical companies will be allowed to object to Australians' access to cheap, generic drugs rather than expensive, recent drugs that frankly don't have any particular benefits other than increasing US drug company profits. Australian mass media currently is dominated by foreign media -- what we watch is 95% foreign and only 5% local content. US media companies object to the "lack of free competition" since the 5% local content is protected by subsidy. It occurs to The Git that he could write a Free Trade Agreement on a single A4 page, rather than the several thousand pages that the US/Australia "Free Trade" Agreement took!
And what fucking right have Americans got to object to our 5% local media content. Some of us prefer World Series Cricket that includes Australians, Englishmen, West Indians, Pakistanis, South Africans, New Zealanders, Indians and Sri Lankans to World Series Baseball that excludes teams from everywhere except America. America is not the World.
When it was recently announced that evidence to be presented at David Hicks' trial that was obtained under torture, the Australian government quickly leapt to America's defence. "It's quite normal for evidence obtained by torture to presented at US military trials" explained Philip Ruddock. (Anybody else noticed his name rhymes with bollock?) The Git predicts that Hicks will be found guilty, that it won't matter what the hell he did, or didn't do, but...
"The prisoner will be taken hence to a place of execution and abused by the neck until he is dead"
Don Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words
And while we are on the topic of Don Watson, The Git was also much amused by the following, also from Weasel Words:
A form of collateral damage in which people on your side are the collateral. According to The American War Library, 39% of US casualties in Vietnam and 49% in the first Gulf War were caused by friendly fire.
Relatives of friendly fire victims may find it difficult to achieve closure.
Much of the above will be taken as anti-American; not to mention un-Australian according to our Prime Miniature, Wicked Prince John. So what is it that makes an anti-American? Well, it helps to be born another nationality, though The Git knows quite a few anti-American Americans. Favouring the democratic process is anti-American. Those of us that voted for the Australian Labor Party in our last general election were doing so in defiance of the orders of George W Bush, Colin Powell and various other members of the American government. We were to suffer the consequences had the Australian Labor Party gained power. Favouring the due process of law: the right to a speedy and fair trial, the Geneva Conventions of War is anti-American. Noticing the inversion of meaning in political statements is anti-American: "As we establish order and justice in Iraq..." [GW Bush], "90% of the casualties in Iraq are Americans" [John Kerry], "The commitment I made not to introduce a GST was not a core promise, but a non-core promise." [John Howard]
Yes, many of us are coming to loathe Americans, not merely dislike them. Every day, my email Inbox is stuffed with messages from Americans saying such things as:
Your dick's too small
You need Viagra
Watch virgin teen sluts get fucked in the ass
Make money without doing any work
Get a university degree without doing any study
etc, etc, etc...
There are at least a couple of hundred messages a day, even though 80% of this crap is apparently filtered out. Don't bother emailing me with whiny excuses that it's "only a few Americans" doing this and you are just as annoyed by spam as non-Americans. Spammers are protected by US law. US law allows spam if the phrase: "If you wish to opt-out of future e-mail notifications from Specialty Answering Service Group or its affiliates, please follow the removal link below" (or similar) is included. How fucking stupid is that? US law is enacted by Americans; not by Europeans; not by Antipodeans; not by Asians. Clearly, the US legislature wants the rest of the planet to be bombarded by American culture: obsession with penis-size, drugs, university degrees that require the intellect of a fence-post etc.
While deleting these extraneous emails takes only a few minutes a day, they are minutes that The Git could have used for some useful purpose. The difference between a murderer and a spammer is one of degree; a murderer wastes the remainder of a life, a spammer wastes part of my life. All of my life is precious to me; it is not unlimited.
A few hundred years ago, Americans were so upset over a tax to pay for military defence from the Red Indians and French, they had a revolution. One wonders what the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would make of all this!
Hey, ho... Mrs Git thinks this is all a bit rude. And so it is. The Git promises to stop being rude if Americans stop being rude to him ;-)
[Having got all of that off his chest, The Git will not likely return to the topic for some time]
Coming up over the next few months:
Thoughts for the week:
Please don't lie to me, unless you're absolutely sure I'll never find out the truth.
"War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."
Leonard Cohen -- I'm Your Man
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