Category Archives: ISSUES – The Daily Transient.

I Miss The Zombie Years

I Miss The Zombie Years

The #zombieyears are over. Gone forever. That feeling inside you, try not to be alarmed. The system is being rebooted, switching everyone over. From here on in it’s an act, everything. It’s all acting…but it’s real acting, and what you are feeling inside is alarm as you adjust to this new reality.

Fox News has already called it: The United States of America (and in turn, the world) is in a simulation.

The game is on: 40 years ago the world had a video game called PONG: two rectangles and a dot.

A decade into the 21st Century the world had photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people world-wide playing simultaneously…and it kept getting better.

A Trump presidency represents a new frontier because reality has morphed into reality TV, merged with virtual reality to give the world a brand new experience: augmented reality. Donald Trump is now the master of this game, the leader of the free world and the game is now indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable.

Soon, we shall pine for the #zombieyears, those sleepy years before the Trump presidency (when people cared no more than absolutely necessary). I feel nostalgic for those days already. Who would have thought that while the world cradled its mobile devices like amulets and slept, a criminal would slip into power. The only thing missing now is Batman.

All the players – you, me, them, everybody – we are all in danger; the actions of the game can not be undone. There is no reset button; option to reset has passed. It’s real people. No higher stakes anywhere. FREE WORLD The Game begins January 20 2017.

#Imissthezombieyears #zombieyears #zombie


Interview With Two Really Mod Hippies

Interview Joe Flower & Harmony Breeze

San Francisco based hippie-duo Joe Flower & Harmony Breeze first made waves in Australia with a cover of Bruce Watson’s Save The Hippie. Now, on the heels of their summer festival tour with The Trippy Hippy Band, they’re set to mark the psychedelic world yet again. While readying their weed contacts in Nimbin (which is currently under siege from a Byron Bay SWAT team) Joe & Harmony were pleased to sit and fidget with us for several minutes: “Almost straight, can yah dig it?” The following exchange is a sobering meditation on the priorities of a relationship amidst a hectic touring schedule backdrop.


1.When and why did you start playing?

JOE: I started playing air guitar at 11, but didn’t graduate to a real guitar until I was 22, so 1991. I started playing a real guitar coz some asshole stole my record player.

HARMONY: My folks owned a record store on Sunset Blvd which had a small instrument section. Whiling away the hours my favorite instrument became a toy piano, that incidentally was used by Seals & Croft on their 1972 hit “Summer Breeze” – like, how far out is that?

2. Which instruments do you play?

JOE: 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar and ukulele. ( I did play double bass for a spell until I moved into an 8th floor apartment without an elevator.)

HARMONY: I play cosmic voice flute and also dig getting percussive with toe cymbals and tambourine. Recently I’ve been experimenting with an electric kazoo thru a Wah Wah pedal (wait til yah hear our version of Vodoo Child, like, wow!)

3.What was the first tune(s) you learned?

JOE: Bloodsucker by Deep Purple and a Grateful Dead version of the Elvis standard Ol’Shep.

HARMONY: Smoke on the Water (on toy piano), and theme from Exodus (on kazoo).

4. Is your family musical?

JOE: My folks weren’t players but they sure had a cosmic need for music in their lives. My mother was at Newport in 65 when Dylan went electric (and she cheered) and she met my father at Monterey Pop Festival in 67.

HARMONY: Like I said, my folks ran a record store in the 70s and most of the Laurel Canyon cats used to hang out there. I think Jackson Browne still owes them money, but I can’t really be sure coz I haven’t spoken to my folks since 1980 when they voted for Ronald Reagan.

5.Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

JOE: The Ravi Shankar who said, “Music is not for sale” and then went onto make a squilluon dollars from his music.

HARMONY: Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, right? Gloria Steinem too…she’s not a musician, I just admire her.

6.Which famous musicians have you learned from and what have you learnt?

JOE: Okay, like, Willie Nelson taught me how to make the best hash cookies ever, like, I saw more ceilings than Leonardo da Vinci, and Joan Baez who showed me how to whip up a cheese omelette.

HARMONY: My Laurel Canyon neighbor Frank Zappa showed me the best places to stash your shit when your being busted by the fuzz….

7.Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?

JOE & HARMONY: See question 6.
The Trippy Hippy Band
 8.Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.

JOE & HARMONY: See question 2.

9.What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

JOE: My fondest musical memory was when Jerry Garcia said to me, “Dude can you hold my coffee?” I did. He blew his nose then said, “Thanks man.” I don’t have any musical memories from my house coz I grew up in an orphanage where live music was banned, and most musical memories from my town involve weed so I can’t remember most of them.

HARMONY: I’m hungry.

10. Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?

JOE: My favourite musicians are ones with good weed, groups too for that matter, like, they have groupies too, right. And CDs, like, no man, vinyl, right? But when that asshole stole my record player he took my records too, man!!

HARMONY: Any band that made the San Francisco scene in the mid 60s, like Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish, Quick Silver Messenger Service.

11.How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

JOE: Well, I just edit it out later…

HARMONY: I distract the audience by breaking into interpretive dance.

12.Do you get nervous before a performance?

JOE: Only if I’ve forgotten my guitar.

HARMONY: Only if I’ve forgotten my kazoo. And my weed.

13.What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

JOE: I’d say just wait until you’re no longer a beginner coz the nerves wear off by then.

HARMONY: Keep away from the brown acid before going on stage, man.

14.Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?

JOE: Are you kidding me?

HARMONY: Yeah, I attend sessions, and a good one is when I have to be carried out.

15.How often and for how long do you practice?

JOE: Are we still talking about music?

HARMONY: I like to align my Chakras with a daily practise of downward facing dogs and happy babies.

16. How do you balance your music with other obligations mate, children, job?

JOE: Music is my job, my mate and my children, can yah dig it?

HARMONY: Joe is my mate, see above.


The Fox & The Wolf & Other Grimm Fairytales


“You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace” – Bob Dylan.

The Silver Fox has overcome The Shit-House Rat. And there is much rejoicing. But beware! Before you go patting the head of the Member for Wentworth, let us not ever forget where the wily old fox has been: His dirty paw prints are all over Australia’s high-speed broadband. Massive teeth marks left in Labor’s 1000/400mbps fibre-to-the-home NBN model in favour of the foxes National SLOWband. Least we forget how the fox wagged his tail when master Abbott scratched his ear and said, “We are absolutely confident 25 megs is going to be enough — more than enough — for the average household.” The fox barked his approval. He barely whimpered when his initial costings apparently overlooked $29 billion worth of blowout, for a scheme that might be realised in 2024.

Once upon a time the fox pretended to be Minister for Environment and Water, licking his chops at the controversial Bell Bay Pulp Mill back in 2007. Later, the fox dug up $10 million which he gave to a Russian/Swiss “rain-making” firm whose most elegant scientific justification was: “There is no evidence to show that this technology does not work.” The fox beamed pride as the case was presented and explained by a Russian researcher, who spoke Russian to local experts using a Power Point presentation entirely in Russian. The “rain-making” firm was part owned by Rupert Murdoch’s nephew, a Wentworth resident who is a regular and significant contributor to the foxes fundraising group the Wentworth Forum. This all took place right before a very expensive election campaign – weird!

The Silver Fox has proudly and “wholeheartedly” backed the introduction of a $7 GP co-payment; likewise with the dismantling of green energy research and infrastructure; ditto for the deregulation and privatisation of Australian Universities, and the six month waiting period for those with the temerity, certainly the misfortune, to seek federal assistance.

The fox has a taste for less-than-ideal remedies to problems that possibly do not exist. Wily old fox recently described Australia’s current asylum seeker policy as necessary “cruel measures” to stop people smugglers. Knowing this taints his foxy image as a compassionate Coalition ally of thought, once evoked in his genuinely moving eulogy of Robert Hughes.

Rich fox! Never been hungry a day in his privileged life fox. From his fox hole at Sydney Grammar prep to Sydney Grammar High, and then a nice little cozy lair studying Law at Sydney University and Oxford. Can’t blame the fox for being born into wealth, but he does have a problem relating to the average Australian living day to day. One indicator – the fox opposes the luxury car and alcohol tax on the grounds that it might drive up inflation. Yes…rich get richer fox…the richest, in fact, until Clive Palmer landed splat in Canberra with $133 million in his wallet. Tally-ho! A hunting we will go.

But in spite of all this, for some reason of turpitude, the fox is particularly popular among Labor and Green voters as preferred leader of the Liberal Party. That’s all right, isn’t it? Of course, but one should not mistake a preference for his leadership as a general fondness for his politics.

That’s the same fuzzy-headedness that landed Australia in hot-water last federal election, “Anything’s gotta be better than this current bloke, right?”

Have Australian voters learned so little from the 28th Prime Minister that they honestly believe now fox 29 is in charge, all the amoral, inequitable, socially irresponsible policies of the Coalition will now be rendered A-okay? What difference will the fox’s art-savvy charisma make to your working week? How will the fox’s privately administered smiles help feed your family? Next time you find yourself marvelling at the fox’s unique selling points, his personal branding, his charming penchant for poetry and some genuinely laudable positions on social policy, please remind yourself the fox is just another, very rich, white man – not a palatable hero for the less-ardent left.

Consider this final point – the 29th Prime Minister of Australia is the best thing to happen to the public image of the Coalition in decades. Why Australia is not deeply concerned about this is to say the least, troubling.

Marriage Equality Australian Style


On 24 June 1978 at 10 pm 500 people gathered on Oxford Street NSW calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in employment and housing, an end to police harassment and the repeal of all anti-homosexual laws. Although the organisers had obtained permission, this was revoked, and the march was broken up by police – 53 of the marchers arrested. 

Sydney Morning Herald published the names of those arrested in full, leading to many people being outed to their friends and places of employment, and many of those arrested lost their jobs: least we forget, homosexuality was a crime in New South Wales until 1984.

It would be comforting to view the no conscience vote on marriage equality “news” only thru the narrow and clouded lens of history where – from the safe distance of time – we could abstractly admire the courageous activism displayed by the 1978 protesters, who helped raise the stakes and push the equality issue forward into daylight.

Except that the past has been refused passage. Permission has been revoked. Australia peaks now thru the wrong end of the telescope; and what seems distant and tiny is, in fact, gaining upon us; is waiting ahead on our road that is still dark and largely uncharted. 

What happened to marriage equality today is what will always happen when everyday Australians elect leaders who can’t and/or won’t recognise themselves in others. Until they can, black and white photographs from 1978 giving way to endless and vividly moving colour reels from the 2015 marriage equality rallies, animating all manner of love, is what will pass for progress.


 Gun crimes happen so frequently in America that a formulated template saves crucial time in a busy 24/7 news cycle –


[INSERT adjective & noun] gunman shoots dead [INSERT body count] at [INSERT location] police say.

LEAD IN: [Repeat Headline, reword].


Describing the shooting as a [INSERT “outraged quote” preferably from local police chief] and said the suspect is [INSERT description of gunman] who is [INSERT status of gunman e.g. still at large, in custody, dead etc].

[INSERT a 2nd quote from local police chief or other elaborating on the crime scene] he said.

[INSERT a 3rd quote from local police chief or other that mentions the victims and/or body count].

[INSERT a 4th quote from local police chief or other further elaborating on the crime scene]. 

[INSERT a 5th quote from local police chief or other further elaborating on the crime scene]. 

[INSERT a 6th quote from local police chief or other that summarises the crime with an adjective and noun].

The shooting happened [INSERT time] at the [INSERT location].

[INSERT an anecdote about the area the crime was committed using a historical fact to round it out].

Local network [INSERT network prefix] News earlier said police were also investigating [INSERT additional information e.g. the possibility of a 2nd gunman or a bomb etc].

[INSERT descriptive one sentence quote from a political figure e.g. mayor, local member that summarises the enormity of the crime, the location, and an adjective and a noun for the gunman] – [INSERT person’s name and title] said.

[INSERT a 2nd political figure e.g. a Premier or Governor of the State quote is excellent] said in a statement: [INSERT quote, maximum 2 sentences].

[INSERT crime area] is known locally as [INSERT trivia] due to its [INSERT reason #1] and [INSERT reason #2] that [INSERT startling or heart wrenching titbit that ties it all together into the local area].


NOTE: Include at least 3 photographs containing police, people praying, people crying, and/or distraught child alone and/or with pet and/or toy.


The Peace Tapes – an interview with Joe and Harmony

Joe Flower & Harmony Breeze are two 60s aficionados who sing the songs that transformed life in the West as we knew it. That iconic music has become their personal soundtrack as they pursue peace and love, advocating that old universal remedy to a modern world polarised between an “effete corps of impudent snobs” (as Spiro Agnew so memorably put it) and the silent majority of staunchly patriotic and pro-war working class folks living in “middle America.” As the counter memory that Joe & Harmony makes clear, the concept of peace and love is extremely common within the working class — much more common, in fact, than within the middle and upper classes — even though working class people do not always express themselves in the language of class politics. While challenging and correcting popular conceptions of what war can achieve, Joe & Harmony also offer numerous insights into what makes for successful and peaceful community organising, the interplay of class cultures within social movements, and the possibilities of a United Nations of Peace in our own time.

Joe & Harmony were gracious enough to sit down with me for an interview about these ideas and their implications for world politics today. This is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation:

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JG: You’ve both been performing popular music from America’s mid-60s peace & love era for a number of years now, haven’t you?

JOE: That’s right. Harmony and me first performed our Trippy Hippy 60s show on vacation in the Australian Blue Mountains a while back, and then it toured America, West coast to East in 2014.

JG: In particular, you identify with the U.S. hippie movement as it began with Bob Dylan. The folk revival in Greenwich Village?

JOE: I do, but I think Harmony was “neo-country rock” first, and then later, hippy.

HARMONY: Yeah, neo-country rock was around between The Byrds and The Eagles in the early 70s. I was going to school during much of the country rock movement, and after that I sang harmonies in a Gram Parsons tribute band and also part-time in a Weavers cover group. I met Joe at a peace rally in San Francisco and our musical influences were like two halves of a bridge that had been growing towards one another for years.

JOE: That music is now the soundtrack of our Trippy Hippy 60s show and our personal soundtrack as we journey towards peace.

JG: Now, the Peace & Love ingredient of The Trippy Hippy 60s Show is what separates you I think from the 60s cabaret acts I’ve seen over the years. I was wondering if we might talk at length about what you have both become aware of in your pursuit of peace and if you could tell me a little bit about what war and peace means to Joe & Harmony?


JG: Great. Well, let’s start with an obvious one: peace and love, can you know one without the other?

JOE: Total peace? Total love? I don’t think so. When you embrace love, totally, peace is the result, right? If you’re at peace – and I don’t mean dead, right, I mean, open to truth and seeing old ways in a new way, right? You can’t do that unless you’ve already embraced love.

JG: Is peace and love the upshot of war?

HARMONY: Let me start by saying…everything war is, peace and love is not – can you get behind that? War starts when people get scared, people start forgetting how they’re related to the people they’re warring against. They start trying to force an outcome, right? And forcing something to be a certain way, well, that’s just unnatural, man. War is unnatural – and peace and love is not the upshot, no.

JG: History appears to provide many examples of where war has eventually resulted in peace.

JOE: Well that’s just perception, man.

HARMONY: The end of war does not bring peace – let’s get that right – it just brings about the end of war. The war machine’s been duping people into believing that winning a war brings peace – but it’s crap, man.

JG: So achieving peace thru war is an oxymoron?

HARMONY: Exactly! Peace will never come thru war because war is a total contradiction of peace, and peace is a total contradiction of war. “War and Peace” is just the title of a book, man. One can’t exist with the other; war won’t make peace and peace won’t make war. They’re two opposites that won’t ever get it together.

JG: The world has seen many examples of what war looks like – what does peace look like?

JOE: Well, firstly, being peaceful is not about not waging war.


JOE: It’s tricky to describe, man, because it’s not a place, dig? I mean, sure, you can have a peaceful setting, right, but a peaceful setting can be wiped-out by nature or more often than not destroyed by humans. So peace is really a quality within a person, in the way they live and how they treat others within the setting they’re at, right? So if peace looks like anything it looks like a bunch of people living peacefully, embracing and extending peace by being peaceful and by deliberately pursuing peaceful ways of existence. So if you ain’t got “A Peaceful Easy Feeling” then, man, you’re not at peace.

HARMONY: And that goes whether there’s a war being fought someplace or not.

JOE: Yeah, right! – Or whether you like The Eagles or not.


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JG: Many would site common sense examples of where civilisation thought war was necessary in our past to bring about peace. Can you understand some people can’t comprehend how the world could have survived without engaging in war to either protect ourselves or gain something we valued or believed we needed?

JOE: Well, World War 2, man, Hitler, I mean, that happened because he deliberately went far, far out of his way to not see that there is always a peaceful solution.

HARMONY: That war…all wars start from the same point, man, where one side or both go too far to go right back to from where they started. And where they start is at the point where people stop being peaceful with one another. So, you know, time Pearl Harbour rolls around, in they come and blow things to smithereens, which is way, way beyond the time to start waving a peace sign yelling, Hey! Let’s pursue peace coz it will result in peace…

JOE: Your ass will be fried chicken, man.

HARMONY: It will at that stage, man, coz it’s too late, and by then all you can do is fight to stay alive. Sometimes you have to fight a war when you don’t really want to. It’s like, fight or die. And if miraculously you survive the dumb war you have another chance to pursue love, and hopefully come to an understanding that war will never result in peace and will only result in more war, more pain and more suffering.

JG: So how do you stop a war?

JOE: The only successful way to stop a war is to not start one, right?


JOE: I know that sounds kinda glib, but see, peace is not the act of not fighting or not demanding vengeance. Peace comes when people like you and me do away with the anger and fear that brought about what they felt was the need for war or vengeance in the first place.

HARMONY: War won’t stop anger and fear, man, it just means the anger and fear of the stronger army will later or sooner overpower the anger and fear of the lesser army.

JOE: See, there is no winning, there is just the idea that, okay, great, and the enemy is dead so we’ve gained control…but control is not victory. Control is oppression, and on a war footing oppression is maintained thru fear, dig? – Peace will never-ever exist in a place where people are living with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

JG: In 2001, America experienced an act of war against them and the response was to wage further war and to seek vengeance. Is the world a better place today because of the “war on terror”?

JOE: Oh, man, I mean, was the world a better place before or after the Americans made deals with Bin Laden in Afghanistan? Was Afghanistan better before or after the Russians invaded? Vietnam, better before or after the war? How about Korea?

HARMONY: Or the American Civil War – oh, but it ended slavery. Really?! Try telling that to black Americans living South before 1965.

JOE: Not only is the world today not a better place, but it’s now even more hot-blooded than before 9/11 happened. Like Harmony said, war just creates more war and more fear. The only way to “win” thru war is to totally annihilate your enemy, just wipe them out! But it won’t bring peace, just the end of that particular war.

HARMONY: America’s post 9/11 goal is all about “winning the war on terror” which has nothing to do with “bringing about peace.” Peace will never happen because of “the war on terror,” because peace is not part of the goal…peace won’t ever be the consequence of that war.

JG: So, what were America’s options after 9/11? What else could America have done to bring about peace….just fold up and ignore what happened? Was America supposed to simply turn the other cheek and say “Please, hit me again”?

HARMONY: Well…that’s the attitude, man. Right there: that’s the attitude that creates more war. See, I don’t know if post 9/11 peace will ever happen. It’s all gone way too far right for this hippie, yah know? I mean, it started from the wrong place on the wrong foot and the powers that be just keep making it worse.

JG: Is it hopeless?

HARMONY: No, man, no. It’s grim, but where there’s life there’s hope. No one should give up on the idea of a United Nations of Peace. That would be a total bummer, man. Peace is not about apathy; it’s about getting your head and heart straight, about peaceful actions and effects, and not about giving up on peace.

JOE: Can we just embrace the idea of The United Nations meeting to discuss love? I mean, peace would be the result. Then healing could really begin.

HARMONY: In any situation and within any occasion…

JOE: Right! Peace doesn’t look to find blame and it doesn’t care who started the hassle, right? Peace looks beyond all judgement, and the UN could simply decide to apply healing to all sides of the apparent crisis so that the issue can be seen truthfully and then fully resolved to where everyone does win, peacefully.

HARMONY: When any form of attack happens, the world can choose to accept the attack and then attack back, or we can choose to see the attack as an unanswered cry for help which should tell us that big healing is required for this situation.

JOE: Can you imagine after 9/11, instead of embracing thoughts of vengeance and war, George.W.Bush had focused on providing healing to the situation that allowed the attack to happen in the first place.

JG: And what might that healing have looked like?

JOE: Well, think about what the world might look like today if George had said something like…America’s dealings in the past have provoked you to fear us so greatly that you felt you had no choice other than to hit us and try and provoke us into an all out world war. Neither of us have done the better thing, here. We are both responsible for a bloody, fucked-up mess where colossal healing is needed so that peace can be given a chance.

HARMONY: How groovy to dig George.W.Bush standing with Pete Seeger and singing “All we are saying, is Give Peace A Chance…” instead of popping on his pith helmet and demanding you are with us or with them! – Which was no choice at all, man, because on either side the only choice was war, war, and more war! How about George or Bin Laden saying… – no, wait! Hang on, forget about both of them, it’s all history, man. It’s been written. This is all just imaginary. It’s fantasy, man. How about getting real? Getting now! How about President Obama, or the next stooge they stick in the White House, saying to ISIS, you can side with war or you can side with peace? There is nothing in between, man, because you can only embrace the dark or the light, one or the other, but never both. Do you welcome peace or do you welcome war? Which side are you on?

JG: You’ve already stated that peace is not about inaction, not about inactivity. So, let’s play devil’s advocate and assume IS would reject this gesture and continue to chose war. What then?

HARMONY: Okay, so the President addresses the United Nations and offers, as a first step towards healing and peace, to change what motivates America, which would also change the way America relates to the world. Imagine the President saying, We have decided to relinquish our self-appointed mantle as the world’s police and to stop meddling in the relationships between other nations and we will stop doing so immediately. From now on, I am the President of Peaceful America; we will defend our country, but The United Nations can be the collective that manages world policing.

JOE: I guess the exception would be countries currently under attack that need military defensive aid, the UN could handle that. Otherwise, all U.S. troops are coming home.

HARMONY: Right, the U.S. will only use its military defensively from now on.

JOE: Right! I mean, America’s dealings to date have included deliberate ignorance of areas of the world that are truly in need, but had no natural resources they wanted to exploit, right? Can you imagine the U.S. President saying to IS, saying to the UN, from now on we’ll provide financial, technical and educational support to the starving nations and struggling people throughout the world and help stimulate new growth and true hope thru peace?

JG: Devil’s advocate again, no, no I can’t imagine that.

JOE: Well, of course…not with the current heart, which is always on red alert. The President would have to work in a reciprocal way with all nations to help best distribute the resources of the world as equally as possible amongst all nations so that the seeds of war are not sown in the first place…

HARMONY: All countries in the UN would have to lead by example and show all that matters now is feeding, housing and educating our brothers and sisters of the world to live in peace.

JG: It sounds utopian, like Dostoyevsky’s “Dream Of A Ridiculous Man.”

HARMONY: Well, I’d prefer John Lennon’s “Imagine” – but okay. Dostoyevsky’s “Man” may have been ridiculous, right, but if you’re saying I’m ridiculous, I’m faced with a choice, right? I could say “Screw you, asshole!” – an act of aggression, of war. Or, I could choose not to turn away from peace: All is forgiven because we have all contributed to this state of the world, so there is no blame to cast and no guilty party to destroy.

JOE: Right on, Harmony – America, so-called leaders of the “Free World” should be the ones to not behave foolishly and warlike. America should tell IS “We are not at war!” So, please stop any future attacks and let’s sit down and truly heal the rift that has allowed this situation to fail so miserably. America extends the olive branch to you, and whether you believe it or not or initially accept it or not, you will come to see it within us as we radically change how we treat all nations and all people of the world.

JG: Do you think Israel is ready to offer that to Palestine?

HARMONY: I think the heart of Israel is ready. The sleeping giant has been dreaming of war for a while, man, but really…Israel’s heart is a heart of peace.

JOE: Yeah, pursuing peace instead of war is humanities most important option and Israel should try a little harder to show it knows that.

JG: Do you think America is ready to wage peace?

HARMONY: America’s been ready since the 60s, man. “Tune in, turn on, drop out” – but that got bastardised by an administration that used its might to inflict a misguided concept of world order on its own people and the people of other nations. Their greatest thought then was the Vietnam war, man, catastrophes, economic collapse, poverty, starvation, disease…that is what they helped bring about, and what they always supported. Then you had Flower Power which had the sway to bring about what the love generation’s greatest thought was – a desire for all people and nations to pursue peace, along with a genuine wish to work fairly with everyone in the world…that is what they tried to bring about…and always supported.

JG: How do we get back to that garden?

JOE: We’re already in the garden, man; we’ve been there since Woodstock. We just have to respect it.

HARMONY: And do what the children of the revolution did, they pursued peace and love. It’s not a secret recipe of eleven different herbs and spices, right? The formula will never change: pursue love and peace will follow – and peace will remove the need for war. It will simply vanish. The result of peace is the absolute dismissal that war is even the slightest part of an answer: war and peace cannot exist at the same time and will only ever annihilate each other – that’s what ended the 60s.

JG: Can Christianity live in peace with the state of Islam?

JOE: And vice versa?

JG: Yes.

JOE: Both have to be a part of ridding this earth of war. Instead of seeing war as inevitable, prophesied or even divinely necessary, both have to choose instead to see peace as the only solution and be open for what peace will bring. To look away from all other ideas and options and choose peace, it’s that simple. Be open to love. Be open to peace. Be willing to see and make the future of this world peaceful. Be part of the reason that it spreads quickly…be the model of achieving peace thru peace.

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Let’s Just Blame Tony – it’s easier that way.


What, then, begins to emerge as the truth when as a nation we wonder what is Tony Abbott teaching us? What are we learning about ourselves? That the typical Aussie is pretty fair dinkum? About keeping thy nose out of other people’s business, yes. About not being terribly sleep deprived by the facts of history, yes. Australians will cruelly, thoughtlessly, and irresponsibly turn a blind eye, sometimes in ways that will cause permanent damage to their land and the way of life they claim to love, often because they don’t give a shit. Another lesson is that when responsible Australians will not deal with difficult issues, irresponsible one’s wait in the wings. When Kevin Rudd, rightly counted as one of the great polarising figures in the history of Australian politics, affirmed that he should never have turned his back on Julia Gillard, he opened the door to Abbott. (Australian voters kept the door open by welcoming the LNP’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind tactics on issues such as refugees, climate change and the economy – “don’t know don’t care just fix it.”) Could the Abbott era have been avoided? It can be argued that he might simply have found another swamp to play in; it is difficult to imagine he could have found one so damaging to Australian public life.

For militant Australians, the ironies of the evolving historiography of the Abbott era are extraordinary, among them that when the LNP began tabling cuts to pensioners, long-term unemployed, DSP recipients, health services and indigenous people, they were targeting the very groups that had voted them into office. Thus, at least in part, we owe public indifference of the truth of the definitive fact of the LNP’s reign to history repeating. This provides its own lesson, namely that the judgments of voters in a democratic system are made not on the basis of the best interests of its country, but on the electorate feeling cynical and powerless. Outside of the ballot box they have given up. In the Australian context, the balance between learning from history, on the one hand, and on the other applying that wisdom to military, diplomatic, and even social welfare programs, will never be easily or perfectly made so long as the average Australian isn’t savvy enough to vote below the line.

“What difference would that make?”

Attempting to dilute that listless attitude with education while pointing out that your typical Aussie often doesn’t give a shit, especially with patriotic pride set to swell to dizzying heights as the 100 year Anzac Day celebrations loom, and so on, is guaranteed to produce both failure and even further cynicism, the latter being by far the more dangerous commodity.

So let’s just blame Tony – it’s easier that way.

Is it?


A Generational Change Will Occur


For too long, the terrorism of the Middle East has been used to argue the innocence of global data surveillance.

Looking for terrorists: good.

Spying on me: bad.

But why bad for me; me who has nothing to hide?

The people with “nothing to hide” must wonder why that archive of personal data is being collected at all; why are the millions of details of our everyday personal lives being processed; what is the government, what is the system learning from all that mundane data? The people with “nothing to hide” agree, governments are learning how we the people live in the 21st Century (all thanks to digital profiling). All this “learning” does make people wonder, as the profile of our civilisation is built and expands and changes over time, what conclusions are being drawn from the study of that expanding profile? And to what degree will that information be used to manipulate civilisation? – that is, massage it along a certain corridor or path?

The truth, in the end, is more complex and even more interesting than me who has nothing to hide can imagine: the gradual erosion of democracy and the subtle division of colleagues and traitors is merely the beginning. In the fullness of time, people with “nothing to hide” will find themselves controlled by either colleagues or traitors, and at that time every person will be accused of being either one or the other. By then, governments will have privatised everything and own nothing – nothing except the people who feed them, the colleagues who perpetuate the myth of why we need a government, and the traitors who oppose that old-fashioned system of rule.

Postmodernists may snub the very idea of truth, but this author finds its pursuit and even its imperfect image have value beyond the nihilism so prevalent across social media. Let us not lose faith that a generational change will occur, and at that hour may we all recognise the people who pushed for that change towards truth with tenacity, integrity, and courage.

As the 24 hour news cycle evokes still-painful memories with fresh controversies imbedded in basic moral issues, may we always see truth and human loyalty prominent among those many stories. In the end, it will be truth that will liberate us from the smog that rose up after the twin towers collapsed, the dust of which has covered our democratic processes for so much of this century.


KRM Update – 5 Memorable Quotes From The Abbott Government

Tony Abbott Talking Shit

The 28th Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott.

Julie BishopTalking Shit

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop.

George Brandis Talking Shit

Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts, George Brandis QC.

Joe Hockey Talking Shit

Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Scott-Morrison Talking Shit

Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison.


KRM Update – Nauru Not So Bad After All…

12_Carlos_CazalisAfter more than four years of describing his time at Nauru Detention Centre as an “everlasting fire,” and “a place of torment for the damned,” Burmese and Sri Lankan refugees finally admitted yesterday that their time on the tiny Micronesian island was, in fact, “all right.”
“In spite of all the hunger strikes and all the letters to Amnesty,” Burmese Permanent Protection Visa holder Aung San said, “Nauru was not so bad. Mostly it was quite pleasant. Most refugees just get a little emotional, that’s all.”

Following Aung San’s announcement, asylum seeking refugees awaiting processing in detention centres across Australia acknowledged the positives of their particular predicament.

“The riots in February are the best part so far,” said Amila Debnath, 27, who has been on Manus Island for 11 months. “But it’s all good. A lot of time you look the guard in the eye and instead of killing each other, you swap food recipes and tell funny stories. We show them our secret dens, and they invite us over to their food hall to share some imported Australian beer and to smoke cigarettes.”

Debnath said he also started smoking marijuana on Manus, a habit he still enjoys to this day.

“There is nothing in the world quite like it,” he said. “Not even a visa.”

Musayev Marma is a Sri Lankan refugee who has been at Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre for twenty months said, “I’m so glad the facilities here are nothing like they portray in movies like Afghan Stories or In This World. That would be really bad. Coming To America and a little bit of Peter Seller’s The Party is more true to our experience.”

Added Marma: “You see, everybody talks about the overcrowding and the rape allegations. But no one ever talks about the Freddo Frogs and games of Twister.”

Acting as spokesperson for his group, Aung San also admitted that, contrary to what The Refugee Council of Australia’s claim, the asylum seeker circumstances are not something beyond the average Australian’s comprehension.

“For quite a time now we are telling people, if you are not a refugee then you would not understand us,” San said. “But this is simply not true. Anyone could easily look at the television and get a very good idea of what it is like for us. There are many many shows with many detailed descriptions and bright coloured pictures. You certainly don’t need to actually go to Nauru to get a feel for it.”

Padma Ambu, an asylum seeker from Nepal formally detained in the now closed Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, remembers many good times.

“A lot of times, in between fighting, we would have the barbeque of great seafood and just laze around and drink for many hours,” Padma said. “Then we’d usually flirt with the Baxter guards and take them to our room and have sex with them. And they would often be our very good friends.”

Padma is now raising two beautiful children in Port Augusta South Australia thanks to her exciting refugee sexual adventures.

Ali Rasulov, who while waiting for his asylum claim to be heard had his eye gouged out by a guard during a riot at the now defunct Port Hedland Detention Centre, said that although he has had numerous recurring nightmares over the past 10 years, they have been largely unrelated to his stint as a refugee.

“There’s a really bad one where I’m back in the Port Hedland, and I’m swimming in the Olympic pool, but I realise I’m not wearing any trunks because I forgot to bring my gym bag,” Rasulov said. “My goodness, it seemed so real, it was terrifying.”



KRM Update – Mathias Cormann Denies He is the Voice of Rainier Wolfcastle

Mathias and RainierMathias Cormann, the Minister for Finance in the Abbott Government, strongly denies allegations that recently appeared on internet website Reddit claiming he has been moonlighting as the voice of Simpson’s character Rainier Luftwaffe Wolfcastle. Speaking from Austria, where he is holidaying with family, Cormann told The Sun Herald, “This whole Wolfcastle gossip is someone’s girlie fun-stuff.”

On ABC’s “Lateline,” Shadow Minister for Finance Tony Burke, described Cormann as “a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” The show’s host, Emma Alberici, interjected, “You think he owns a Ferrari F40?” Tony Burke replied that he believed it was neither “coincidence” nor “a gee-whiz luck event that he was recently observed driving around Austria in a Hummer H1.”

Cormann continued to deny the allegations outright, stressing “clearly and unambiguously I am not the voice behind Wolfcastle or the reprehensible McBain character.” He added, “This clearly false rumour won’t stick. Because Australian people are smarter than the average Commie-Nazi.”

If he were the voice behind Wolfcastle, Cormann asked, “Why do I think “Run! Get to the chopper!” is not funny?” And he denied, when asked how he slept at night, that he had ever responded with, “On top of a pile of money surrounded by many beautiful women.”

In the nine months since Cormann first assumed office as Minister for Finance, there have been discreet whispers about his experimentation with body-building and his love of German Bratwurst. The Sun Herald reported this week “a senior officer with the Federal Police said on Sunday that it was still their conclusion that Mr. Cormann was not leading a double life.” Despite accusations, Labour has not publicly revealed any evidence that he is working in any capacity with The Simpson’s creator Matt Groening. This issue is key to shaping the public’s perceptions of Cormann and indeed the Abbott Government in the wake of the 2014 Federal Budget. Tony Burke on “Lateline,” went on to allege that “I’ve personally heard him humming “The Bratwurst Song” in the Upper House. And several back-benchers on my side of The House heard him remark to Clive Palmer at the coffee cart “Quit stalling, fatty!” ”

On ABC’s “Q & A,” Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen made similar allegations, saying, “One night in March this year, Senator Cormann was at a local Canberra hotel with Christopher Pyne and was heard to jibe The Minister for Education by saying, and I quote: “Ja, that is some outfit, Pyne-e-e. It makes you look like a homosexual” – I mean, this is disturbing stuff.”

Asked today to elaborate on his reasons for suggesting that Mathias Cormann was in-fact the voice of Rainier Wolfcastle, Chris Bowen, thru a press aide, declined to comment.

Some observers, looking at the substantiation that Cormann was seen lunching with Matt Groening at Fox Studios in New York have pointed to a report in popular culture magazine, Rolling Stone, that before leaving America last Christmas Cormann stayed at Groening’s house in Malibu City. Cormann’s legal adviser, Lionel Hutz, a lawyer with “I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm” denied that report, however, saying, “It’s the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film “The Never Ending Story” ” – (Rolling Stone stands by its story.)

“It’s not just the allegations about me being the voice of Rainier Wolfcastle that mystify me,” Cormann told The Sun Herald. “It’s that people really think I had a starring role in several gay pornography films while chewing on a “Power Sauce Bar.” ” Cormann expressed concern at the range of allegations that have been made against him in the media without intelligence officials providing some kind of factual basis: “I was never a key player in the Hollywood Prostitution scandal, and most certainly never carried George Brandis in an oversized Snugli for babies. I have no idea who Rob Schneider is and I’ve never seen the movie My Baby is an Ugly Man.” ”

Cormann went on, “I mean, I am more socially liberal than a majority of Ministers in our Cabinet around issues of the stem cell research, but I have never supported anyone named Sideshow Bob, and had no idea he was running for Mayor. Really, if I could meet some of these rumour-mongers I would shoot their face…and shoot their face again.”

In the end, Cormann reiterated that “These allegations are false. If mine bratwurst has a second name that’s S-C-H-N-A-C-K-E-N-P-F-E-F-F-E-R-H-A-U-S-E-N, it is nobody’s business but my own.”

KRM Update – Budget 2014: Drinkers React

Dougie Bishop on the BUDGET 2014An inebriated man from Footscray made a fascinating point about the 2014 Federal Budget a few nights ago, astutely commenting on the Abbott Government’s strangely misguided priorities. Dougie Bishop, a 37-year-old fork-lift driver, made the remark around 10:50pm at The Reverence Hotel, where he had spent the night stuffing himself with cheap tacos and drinking himself into a blind stupor.

Shortly before pissing himself, Dougie Bishop shrewdly hypothesised about the puzzling priorities of the 2014 Federal Budget. He has since been elevated to the position of senior-most provincial adviser to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“This government, they can find money to fight wars and search for missing planes, but they’re making people pay just to have a thermometer stuck up their bum,” Bishop sharply noted to a handful of patrons as he downed a triple shot of Bundy OP Rum. “They don’t know their fucking armpit from their elbow.”

He then added, “It’s bull-shit, mate, you ‘ear me?” before pissing his pants and stumbling home.

Bishop’s perceptive political remark immediately impressed punters at The Reverence Hotel.

“What Dougie said was spot on,” said Warren Murphy, 33, who was also maggotted. “He was saying like how we spend more money on the the war effort and stuff that’s got nothing to do with us than we are on free health-care for pensioners and stuff. And he was dead right: The whole budget’s screwed-up.”

Sharon Ward, who stood alongside Dougie Bishop at the time waving a bottle of Strong-Bow cider around, also agreed with the Footscray man’s appraisal.

“I can’t remember exactly how he put it now; I wish I could because it was bloody amazing,” she said. “He just cut thru all of the shit right to the heart of the problem…sensational mate, eh?”

Ward broke her nose and 3 ribs later that evening when she was struck by a car while trying to hail a taxi on Napier Street.

When asked to expand on his judgment of the proposed spending cuts outlined in the 2014 Federal Budget, Bishop replied, “I was talkin’ to this good-looking-sort for a while last night and I was pretty sure I was gonna get me end in,” he said. “But then I just threw me guts up right in front of her…but then she said she was a dyke anyway, so…you know.”

News of Dougie Bishop’s politically charged outburst quickly reached Canberra.

“Only a few days ago, I was one of the ministers in favour of cutting welfare benefits while rubber-stamping the purchase of 58 US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft,” Minister for Employment Eric Abetz said. “But it is now clear that, as Mr. Bishop put it, We don’t know our armpit from our elbow.”

The Australian was also enthused by Dougie Bishop’s hard hitting remarks, dedicating a full page to the central comments of the twice-divorced alcoholic fork-lift driver and father of six who has a history of driving offenses and domestic violence.

“Solutions to major societal problems do not always come from within the Canberrian brain-trust,” editor-in-Chief Chris Mitchell noted. “Often, they come from ignorant, fluro-shirted Australians who fling their uninformed, one-dimensional solutions to multifaceted, 21st Century problems at anyone bothered to listen.”

In addition to his editorial in the pages of The Australian, Bishop has been invited by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to participate in next month’s round table discussion on Brisbane’s ongoing bikie problem as well as strategies for supercharging the local economy.

New South Wales Premier, Mike Baird, has also expressed interest in consulting Bishop on a number of grave concerns in the wake of recent ICAC investigations.

“It would appear that Mr. Bishop has a nose for decoding the difference between good choice and a choice that is simply rank,” Baird said. “Therefore, I intend to initiate discussions with him in the foreseeable future, definitely.”

This is not the first time Dougie Bishop has boldly questioned the priorities of an Australian Government. In April 2013, after consuming 24 cans of Melbourne Bitter on the tailgate of his Hilux ute, he mumbled to himself, “This fucking Carbon Tax, mate…politicians just sitting around all day dreaming up new ways of sucking another dollar out of yah.”

The remark is said to have been the turning point which culminated in the Liberal Party being swept to power at the Australian 2013 Federal Election.


KRM Update – Manus Island Slackers!

Manus1Nine months after deciding his life was just too hard and engaging a people smuggler to secure him passage on a fishing boat bound for Australia, Adeeb Kohistani, a gutless slacker from Afghanistan, was continuing to hide from reality at Manus Island regional processing facility.

According to former G4S staff, the 31-year-old refugee, a member of the Shia Hazara people from the central highland region of Hazarajat in Afghanistan, apparently did-a-runner from his home last June following a violent raid by the Taliban Army, and now prefers to live in an army tent in the middle of Manus Island than face up to the challenges in his life and deal with them like any normal Australian would.

PNG Police Officer Russty Nicholson said of the pathetic runaway, “When things got hard Kohistani could have defended his village and died with his pride intact, but at the first sign of trouble he just took off to a different country instead.” Officer Nicholson explained this as a common reaction amongst boat people: the moment a large, well-armed military regiment raids their village and slaughters their family, they turn about and run.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison specifically mentioned Adeeb Kohistani’s case at a press conference outside Villawood detention Centre Thursday. “People like Mr. Kohistani need to understand that Australia is not the place to come and bury your head in the sand just because life has dealt you a rough-hand. I think I can safely speak for all Australians when I say that we are a tolerant nation who believe in a fair go and when a problem crops up, we fix it. You fix it and move on with your life. Because that’s what Australians do.”

Talk-back radio phone lines rang hot after Mr. Morrison’s press conference with the majority of callers agreeing that ignoring all your problems— such as ethnic cleansing and homelessness—and hoping it will all go away is a total cop-out.

“Look at me,” said Mr. Jasper Whyte a caller from Penrith NSW, “I never got my Housing Commission flat by taking the easy way out. It was bloody hard work.”

Another caller described Adeeb Kohistani as “a loser, simple as that!” right after talkback radio host Alan Jones confirmed that Kohistani had ran like a headless chook the night of the massacre before crawling out the back of his hut and cowering in the nearby scrub, where, Jones speculated, the weak-willed man decided to just completely shut out the sight of his settlement being destroyed and the bodies of his loved ones being thrown into a pit rather than tackling the problem head-on. The spineless bastard reportedly ran-off with his tail between his legs to the people smugglers the following day, and is now, by all accounts, content to just give up and pity himself at the taxpayer’s expense.

In a news poll, 91% agreed that Kohistani should not be using the massacre of his family as an excuse to just chuck in the towel. The poll’s comment section was shut-down after contributors overloaded the system with unanimous calls for taxpayer handouts to cease and for Kohistani to snap out of his depression and “get his shit together.”

Mr. Morrison acknowledged that both G4S and his own border protection point man, Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, had warned Kohistani and all illegal arrivals that they needed to realise everyone faces challenges in their lives, and that they can’t just expect Australians to throw open their arms and take care of everything for them. “During an operational procedure,” said Mr. Campbell, “which I can’t directly discuss, but I can disclose that during that procedure one Australian naval officer lost his iPhone. Over the side and into the drink it went. It wasn’t backed up to the cloud so the officer lost everything. But he didn’t start crying about it, and he certainly didn’t run off to Indonesia expecting them to make it all better for him. No, he took it on the chin and first opportunity he got he was on eBay buying himself a new iPhone which he immediately backed up to the cloud so this sort of problem wouldn’t reoccur.”

Greens Immigration spokeswoman (and general bleeding-heart) Sarah Hanson-Young visited Adeeb Kohistani on Manus but failed to address the queue jumper’s propensity for running away from his difficulties. Instead, Ms. Young spent most of her time criticising the Federal Government’s offer to repatriate Adeeb Kohistani back to Afghanistan at taxpayer expense. The Greens Senator rejected calls for the gutless refugee to grow up and act like a responsible adult for once in his life. She said the piss-weak excuse for a man resolutely refuses to go back to his own country and that he enjoyed her full support.

“Adeeb Kohistani is just barely starting to feel safe here,” said Sarah Hanson-Young. “Returning to his home in Hazarajat is something he can’t even imagine at the moment.” Ms. Young cited dozens of Kohistani’s weak excuses for why he can’t tackle his problems and actually do something about them like any normal Australian would. “So many of his friends and relatives were murdered right in front of him during the raid, and it could have just as easily been him. He told me that he still hears their screams in his dreams every night.”

Scott Morrison countered by saying Adeeb Kohistani wouldn’t be having nightmares if he had initially confronted his attackers head on, although he stressed this did not justify what happened to Mr Kohistani’s relatives and other victims.


MH370 – Judgment Is A Negative Frequency

There is currently a contentious debate concerning whether people’s fascination with the MH370 story are symptoms of a mental disorder, if mental disorders are a consequence of the MH370 story, or if people with mental disorders are especially susceptible to or even looking for the type of experience induced by the MH370 story.

Apophenia is the assertion fuelling said debate, a state-of-mind that presupposes all MH370 fanatics (especially at this stage of the tragedy) are obsessed by the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena surrounding this mystery. This tendency is closely linked to psychosis and in turn creativity, to the point where apophenia and creativity are seen as two sides of the same coin.

It is true, someone prone to apophenia might suspect he or she is being watched or spoken about, might feel the object of eavesdropping or the sense of being followed by strangers. But sometimes two wrongs do make a right, and simply because a person is apophenic doesn’t mean their suspicions are wrong.

By contrast, a synchronicity is when two seemingly random events occur at the same time, creating the sensation that there is a direct connection between the two events. If you think synchronicity sounds a lot like apophenia, you’re not far wrong. Perception is perhaps the key to the difference. For example, Doctor Carl Jung was sitting in his consultation room one day analysing a patient’s dream. This dream was about an Egyptian scarab beetle. Presently, the two were distracted by a light rapping at the window. When Dr. Jung went to investigate he found on the sill an Egyptian scarab beetle. In Switzerland! It was absolutely uncanny. Dr. Jung intuitively understood that there was something very powerful about the lining up of these two events, the telling of the dream about a scarab and the bizarre appearance of a scarab thousands of miles from where it ought to have been.

A doctor who erred on the side of logic would have used said logic to dismiss any perception of a connection, while Dr. Jung remained open to and fascinated by the opportunity to look more deeply into one’s own existence.

And so, dear reader, as we dig evermore deeply into the disappearance of flight MH370, I encourage you to think of apophenia as Darth Vadar and Obi-Wan Kenobi as synchronicity, both over-looking the same remarkable force but from two very different points of reference.


Social Media & Solitary Confinement.


THE LEARNER (TL): Now in his early 50s, TL had dedicated 30 years of life to studying American folk music, contributing his own words and low strung acoustic guitar music to a tradition steeped in lessons. Life is for learning lessons. A dedicated student could translate a song’s meaning to a way of life, choices, consequence, a clue to what a chance meeting might mean. A way for a person to live and not only live, but to flourish, to survive and retell the truth and the lies learnt to the best of one’s ability so others may learn. TL sang such songs for a living, sang them in all sorts of places, just about anywhere where a voice could make itself heard. TL was good at it; not the best and not the worst: talented enough to glean more good than bad and just enough peace and harmony to be philosophical about any short-comings. According to the standards of us and them, TL was a success.

THE SCENE: A sunny week-end Quayside of Sydney Harbour, the promenade from Harbour Bridge to the Opera House where on such a sunny day a good busker can make a respectable three figure income for a few fun hours of work. On this particular day, TL had arrived early and secured a prime spot adjacent to The Museum of Contemporary Art. “Wow,” said TL, looking around, happy for another chance to sing and be heard and grateful for a ways and a means to get by.

THE LESSON: It was 2:30pm and TL had been playing for three hours. The crowds were friendly. Income was a little slow but people had bought a few CDs so it was still a good day. A small crowd of a dozen or so people were gathered around listening to TL’s rendition of a Lightning Hopkins tune called “Aeroplane Blues.” It lasted around four minutes. It was a convincing performance met with a light applause and some generous donations. As the appreciation subsided, somewhere away in the crowd a female was heard to giggle and exclaim “Oh!” in a squeal of amusement. It wasn’t a loud squeal, but loud enough to make a few people turn around to see where the sound was coming from. Next came a few random fits of male laughter before people began reaching for their cameras to capture not where the sound was coming from but the sight which had caused the girl’s reaction. It was Cook, the old laughing Sambo of First Fleet Park who was so gentle and kind that seagulls would perch on his hat. Today, to encourage such behaviour, Cook had placed a few crumbs of bread on the hat’s brim, and within a matter of seconds he was engulfed by forty or fifty squawking seagulls, perching and flapping around his body much to the snap happy amusement of all in the immediate vicinity. TL watched, despite having seen this spectacle a dozen times or more. The snap happy crowd turned their backs and began happily capturing this amusing content on their devices, content that would, no doubt, be given away free to Google, Facebook and Twitter under the guise of “Posting.”

What did THE LEARNER learn from this? – “Thirty years dedicated to learning the guitar so I can impress upon people some valuable lessons of life, and people are far more impressed with a seagull on a man’s head. What am I supposed to make of that?” Immediately TL began to play The Ells song “I Like Birds,” a perfect accompaniment to Cook’s shenanigans and a move that was worthy of a few dollars. “Good,” said TL, “I’m already famous…just gimme the money.”

CONCLUSION: It’s important to remember any feeling of insult may have corrupted the learning – that is, compromised the truth behind the lesson. The quality of the answer depended on the attitude of TL the person – philosophical: don’t take it personal.

Simple – what TL was dealing with was less a personal attack and more about responding to the collective mental attitude of the public. An attitude that in recent years had been massively sculpted by the black-smith of the Internet, the code-owners who in one sense had forged an idea that life is one long episode of “Funniest Home Videos” to which a user may contribute several episodes. In another way, the code owners had dragged and dropped ye olde journo’s code onto their subject’s hard drive: what’s happening now is news, news is information, information is power, and to be in control of how that news is disseminated is to have the keys to the kingdom.

But every kingdom needs its subjects, its lords and ladies, its gentry and peasants. The kingdom needed its subject’s contributions. But no one wants to pay more tax; and the kingdom would not consider buying content from the public. So the code owners made working for the kingdom fun; so much fun that millions joined them for free and gave their valuable content to them willingly. The coffers of the kingdom filled with advertising dollars and in return each “user” received notoriety and a possible degree of fame.

This quest to control the keys began when Yahoo first asked a user for their personal details; deconstruction of privacy began when Amazon asked: “Do you want us to keep your credit card details on record? This will help speed up the process next time you shop.” Google introduced corporate ownership of privacy, and Facebook showed us the effects such ownership can have upon the mind of Western democracy.

Now, social media is like talk-back radio; it’s nothing without the audience. An audience wants to be entertained and entertainment comes at a price.  So the kingdom keeps costs down by making “the public” content work for them. Before one can say “…advertising dollars” the kingdom’s driving “public opinion,” the tyranny of which can be amplified immeasurably via digital technology.

Is it enslavement? Hardly – social media and its effects upon Westernised society has not produced a “dystopia” because there is always a “fuck this shit I’m out of here” button. No subject is deliberately coerced; last time I checked, taking a picture of a man with a seagull on his head and uploading it to social media doesn’t actually feel like you’re working for the man. It actually feels like fun.

“You know, uploading a video of some busker singing the blues is okay, but I don’t know if it’ll impress my friends too much. I mean, this guy’s all right but he ain’t Steve Vai, you know? But a man with a flock of seagulls on his head, I mean, my friends will piss themselves laughing.”

…and in return the subject received notoriety and a possible degree of fame.

The kingdom is savvy. It’s shown all its loyal subjects that while a secret is potent, disclosing a secret can be just as potent, even intoxicating and on some lucky occasions, even rewarding.

Picture a face with a lovey-dovey gaze and a love poem is never far away. Think of a vacant or hostile stare and quickly it’s a nightmare at a visceral level. The parent on a bus instructing their child “Don’t stare” or the menacing duffus at McDonalds wanting to know “What’re you looking at?” is at the core of a sweeping array of privacy laws. Unfortunately, the digital age has flipped the gentle admonishment of “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself” on its head. People who make spectacles of themselves are famous. Even if it’s for 15 minutes, they are somebody. So any nobody can be blindly led up the garden path by the kingdom’s bad intentions as well as the good ones. The nature of looking and being looked at can pivot in favour of one or the other – “like [CLICK] that!” It’s all the same to the kingdom. Some incidents are funny, some are appalling, and some are both at the same time. It’s all content and so the kingdom never loses.

Everything human beings do in public is in part a performance; publication on social media is now a part of that performance. However, at least at this point in digital evolution, no one really wants to stand before an audience stark naked delivering a speech; the majority of people still prefer to be the up-loaders rather than the uploaded. But that might change. We live in a time now when being “in public” already means we are “on” all of the time.

Maybe everyone – us and them – maybe we’re all being led up the garden path.

Is that a prison up ahead? Wait, no. There are no walls, just the twenty four seven glow of artificial light making everything transparent. A perfect environment for capturing everything that moves.

TL gasped. “…my god…we’re all in solitary confinement.”

Here endeth the lesson.

Barry O’Farrell & Gladys Berejiklian In Htrae

Hi, my name’s Barry. Barry O’Farrell. I was born in Melbourne, but I get incredibly defensive when people bring that up. My jaw locks up even thinking about it. Usually I’ll deflect such questioning by reminding people that I was educated in Darwin. It’s a bit of a selling point for me, something about street-cred, but I don’t want to go into that right now. Why I see Melbourne as such a negative, I don’t want to go into that either. To avoid it, I usually remind people that former Premier of Queensland Peter Beattie was born in Sydney. Generally it makes people ask, “What the fuck has Peter Beattie got to do with anything?” Fair point, but it’s not something I want to go into right now.

Most of you will remember me as the Premier of New South Wales, and I was until this morning when I woke up in a parallel universe. Bizarro world! Htrae, which is earth spelled backwards (it’s not impossible to explain but I don’t want to go into it right now. Take Greg Hunt’s advise and look it up on Wikipedia).  Htrae is ruled by the Bizarro Code which among other things states “Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” At first, I didn’t think it would be a problem; our State Government has subscribed to that ideal since we were elected. Just look at the public transport system. But then I realised I was married to Gladys Berejiklian, our Minister for transport, and suddenly I wished I was back in Melbourne.

Gladys informed me over a breakfast of instant noodles, bread and water that we were going to see Scott Morrison who was playing guitar at a Refugee Action Coalition Rally in Lawson. “That’s The Blue Mountains,” I said.

“Correct,” said Gladys, passing me the hot sauce, “and travelling by train from Sydney to Lawson in the Blue Mountains usually takes about 90 minutes. But one week-end out of six the line is closed for important track work and buses replace trains. Today is such a day so we have to allow four hours.”

“Four hours!” I exclaimed, spraying noodles and hot sauce in all directions. “Can’t we take the car?”

Gladys shook her head. “We don’t own a car, Barry. You’re a pensioner. So am I. We can’t afford one.” She glanced at her Reject Shop wrist watch. “It’s quarter to eight. There’s a train to Central in twenty minutes. Let’s go.”

We left our crumbling $180 a week hovel of a bed sit and walked five minutes to Marrickville Station. Apparently the housing prices in Sydney are some of the highest in the world. Not only because of location location location, but because population growth is outpacing development. “Bloody incompetent State Government,” I sneered as we boarded the train to Central. Gladys smiled…and I remembered when she had teeth.  When I married her years ago we both had teeth. Never needed a dentist. When we finally did, we couldn’t afford one. We were trying to save. We both dreamed of owning our own home in East Sydney, before we learned that  only two-income households can even consider buying a house anywhere within an hour of the CBD. So we rented the  bed-sit in Marrickville because of the scarcity of real apartments. We’ve been there ever since. At least that’s what Gladys keeps telling me. I was the Premier of New South Wales until I woke up this morning, remember. “Are we really paying $180 a week for that shit hole?” I asked.

Gladys patted my arm and nodded. “We are looking around for something else, Barry, but rental vacancies are below 1% in some areas, and we are competing against 20 to 50 people to rent.” She reminded me that we still have each other and we shared a little joke about our Landlord, a diabolical bastard who’ll do anything to dodge repairs while raising our rent at the drop of his Akubra hat.

The train to Central was ten years old and ten minutes late. We had to rub up against a lot of sweaty commuters, but we got there. “We should be thankful,” said Gladys. “There are vast swathes of the metro area that are not adequately covered, thanks to our incompetent State Government.”

“Weren’t you supposed to take care of that?” I quizzed.

Gladys rolled her eyes. “This is Htrae, Barry. I’m a pensioner. But RailCorp is still some kind of hybrid business orchestrated by our greedy State Government, and despite being subject of an ICAC corruption enquiry and a series of cosmetic changes it’s still appalling.”

We threaded through Central Station to Eddy Avenue where the buses would pick us up and take us to Penrith. Then we could get on a train that would take us to Lawson. There were people everywhere, on the streets, on the platform, in traffic.  Eddy Avenue was a bloody ant colony.

Three State Transit workers were at the bus stop. Two women and one man. They were all sitting in their State Transit worker seats wearing their State Transit worker fluoro-vests. The first woman was young and looked a little glazed over like she had just woken up. The second woman was short and frumpy and had a face that would have been at home in the laundry of a maximum security prison. The man, about 50, sporting a moustache and cheap wrap-around sunglasses, was cradling his head in his left hand and appeared to be drifting in and out of slumber. A few tourists from Germany, France and America took turns in politely asking them when the next bus would be. It seemed to be an enormous effort for the State Transit workers to draw breath enough to answer the simple enquiry. I guess the double time pay they were getting for sitting on their fat asses for eight hours wasn’t enough to inspire them to any dizzying heights of basic customer service or even common decency. “Half hour,” the man mumbled, receding back into his torpor.

The bus arrived. It was driven by a florid looking Christopher Pyne who seemed in a particularly bitchy mood (I guess for some people things are the same in any world, Bizarro or otherwise).  We clambered aboard with everyone else, relieved at some semblance of progress and took up a seat behind the driver.  I looked around. Everyone had their antisocial hat on. Nobody wanted to make our acquaintance. All the passengers travelling alone seemed uncompassionate, rude and/or snobby, just like Christopher Pyne. Gladys and I fell into sync and began listening to our iPod and averting eye contact. Christopher turned on the radio. It was Lou Reed “Walk On The Wild Side.” Christopher began to sing along. He giggled at the line about “…giving head….” steered the bus out onto the abominable roads, cursing at the retarded motorists and successfully ensconcing us in the traffic congestion.

The stop and start trip to Penrith took 90 minutes. Apart from one push bike rider sliding down the road after falling off his bike and a couple of motorists overtaking him while he was sliding, it was an uneventful trip.  The only time I spoke to Gladys was to point out everyone’s obsession with wealth and glamour. “That’s the seventeenth BMW X5 I’ve counted; and I’ve lost count of the Porsches Cayenne’s and Hummers.”

“Did you see the motor cycle rider in the Versace suit, designer sunglasses and pointy shoes?” asked Gladys.

Two girls sitting opposite wearing tiny dresses and 6-inch heels looked up from their iPhones and said, “Where?”

“Yeah,” chimed Christopher Pyne through pursed lips, “where?”

Go to the Races at Randwick and see what I mean, I thought.

At Penrith we waited on the platform for another ten year old train to arrive. It came in twenty minutes. Gladys and I sat in the quiet carriage listening to the people ranting about prison life, parole,  the cost of living and lack of sufficient methadone.

“$15 just to get on the train from the clinic!” – “$15 to park for an hour outside my doctor’s office” –  “Paid $5 for a beer in Lithgow” – “Ten bucks for a Bundy and coke” – “Had to blow my dealer for me last fix” – “Shoulda got yah daughter to do it for yah, ahahahahahhaaa….” –

Gladys and I were glad we’d sat in the Quiet Carriage.

The festival at Lawson was well under way when we arrived. Gladys checked her Reject Shop watch. “Four hours exactly. Not bad for Sydney.”

“First class by Madagascar standards,” I quipped.

Everyone at the festival seemed to be highly strung. Stressed about exams, or work, their mortgage… who knows? Quite a few migrants at the festival, too. Sydney is a major entry point for migrants into Australia, and though I have nothing against migration per se (I am from Melbourne), volumes of ill-mannered migrants inhabit the city. These are people who refuse to integrate and move only amongst their own insular groups. And right here in Lawson, the typical bystander couldn’t even speak English! Conversing loudly in foreign tongues in public is not appealing. I wondered if things were like this when I was Premier. I couldn’t remember…maybe I should have taken more notice.

After all that, we didn’t get to see Scott Morrison play guitar. He’d been arrested by immigration. Shipped off to Nauru, apparently. No one was really sure. SHHHHHHH! they said through a raised index finger, “Operational procedures. It’s a secret.”

Phone Tapping In A Minor Key.

If you tap the phone of The Prime Minister of England the PM consults the opinion polls to see how he should react.

If you tap the phone of The President of France millions of people support the action and demand to know what The President said. Meanwhile the President of France writes poems because of his sadness.

If you tap the phone of The Emperor of Japan, The Emperor bows and says “Yes, we invent this technology.”

If you tap the phone of The Chancellor of Germany the police come and say “Germany has never done this so don’t tap The Chancellor’s phone.”

If you tap the phone of The Prime Minister of Sweden, the people vote to see if they accept the tapping of The Prime Minister’s phone. If the answer is yes, the tapping continues. If the answer is no, the Prime Minister shakes your hand.

If you tap the phone of The President of Romania, The President starts playing gypsy music and dances with you.

If you tap the phone of The President of Turkey, The President takes his gun and shoots you, then either goes to jail for 8 years or escapes to Greece where he is welcomed as a political refugee.

If you tap the phone of The President of Greece, The President takes his gun and shoots you, then either goes to jail for 8 years or escapes to Turkey where he is welcomed as a political refugee.

If you tap the phone of The President of China, you vanish.

If you tap the phone of The President of Italy the Mafia makes you a handsome offer for the tapes.

If you tap the phone of The President of Russia, The President kisses your mouth. If he likes it, he kisses you again. If he doesn’t like it you are jailed for conspiracy to over throw the government, and later found guilty of hooliganism.

If you tap the phone of The President of Arabia…there is no President, you become foolish. But if you tap the phone of The King, the King cuts off your ears.

If you tap The Australian Prime Minister’s phone he says, “This is not the time to be talking about this issue.”

If you tap the President of The United States phone The President says: “Yes, we know.”