Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An amusing memory

When I was teaching sociology at the University of NSW many moons ago, I was located in the Morven Brown building, which formed one side of a grassy quadrangle in front of the library.

And the students' union would from time to time arrange pop music concerts on the library steps so people could sit on the grass of the quadrangle and enjoy the music concerned.  The music would be a lunchtime concert scheduled from 1 to 2 pm.

There were however some occasions when I was scheduled to take a tutorial at 2pm in the Morven Brown building.  And there were also some occasions when the musicians got so enthused with their music that they carried on beyond 2pm

Rock music was however not the background I wanted for my tutorials so when such enthusiasm occurred, I used to take a stroll over to the library, trace  the power cord to the band's amplifiers and then pull the plug out at the wall.  So the music suddenly went from amplified to acoustic.

The band members always looked sheepish when that occurred and  promptly wrapped up.  They probably thought it was some sort of official censure but it was in fact my sole deed.  Why should I waste time going through some bureaucratic process when direct action would do?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A traditional Sunday Lunch

Paul & Susan very kindly put on a roast pork lunch for me today.

The pork was well-cooked and there was even some crackling.  Plus gravy, plus fresh apple sauce etc.  And with rhubarb crumble to follow, who could ask for more?

Paul and I talked a little about family matters but not much.  I think Paul has had enough of that lately.

Over dessert I offered  something of a history lesson about England -- which Paul is of course much interested in.  I talked about how they used to entertain themselves in English country houses in the 19th century before the advent of computers and TV etc.  Susan knew something of that because she had read Jane Austen novels etc.

Matthew was a constant generator of noise and movement and even little Elise had a shout or two for a while.  But my history lesson survived all that.

A very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

When one is invited to a dinner or some other social occasion, it is of course customary to bring along something by way of appreciation -- flowers, a bottle of wine or something for desert etc.

In  19th century country houses, the pattern was however slightly different.  One might bring along the latest novel from Mr Disraeli or some other favoured author and would be ready to do some sort of entertainment for the house,  some sort of an entertaining performance, a new game etc.

So whilst discussing such things I also exemplified them.  History lessons are not everyone's cup of tea but  Paul and Susan were very interested in my topic so I was rather 19th century in my way of expressing my appreciation of the occasion.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

St Valentine

How did an obscure Catholic saint get such a following?  It's a bit like the Japanese celebrating Christmas I guess:  It's fun, not saintly.

I participated.  When Anne arrived at my place yesterday evening she got:  Roses, card, chocolates, a dinner and a present.  It was a present I knew she would like:  A lava lamp.  I have one and she often admires it. They were fashionable in the '70s but seem to be coming back.  Just two or three years ago I could not buy one but they have popped up in a couple of shops lately.

We dined at a very good Chinese restaurant not far from my place -- the New Sing Sing. Both the food and service is always good there. We had dim sims and chicken satay skewers as starters. I had BBQ roast duck as the main course and Anne had salt and pepper fish. I have long been of the view that only the Chinese know how to do duck. And they did! I ordered Fourex Gold for a drink and greatly enjoyed it. They serve their beer very cold there and it was a hot night.

And when we got home we had clootie dumpling with cold custard for dessert and a cup of tea to wash it down.  So we turned to both China and Scotland for our food.

And Anne made porridge for my breakfast this morning  -- which is always appreciated.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Woolworths frustrations

About 50% of all Australians shop at Woolworths.  And don't knock it.  I have shares in them.

But one of the big problems is that as soon as you find something you like there, they discontinue stocking it.  Some of us get quite paranoid about that.

Anyway, I have been spoilt in the cracker biscuit dept by some crackers Von brought over for me from NZ  -- Griffin's Meal Mate crackers.  When Von brings some over they last only days.

So I thought that there has got to be something similar in Woolworths.  And, rather crazily, I found that one of their home-brand cracker offerings was pretty good.  So as soon as I tried them, I went out and stocked up on another packet.  They were called "sea salt" crackers.

And you can guess the rest.  When I went in there today, no "sea salt" crackers were to be found.  They did however have some garlic crackers and I bought those.  And they are quite good too.  If only I had some of that NZ green tomato chutney to have on them ....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

More dosas

Every day is a good day for dosas so I shouted Paul and Susan dosas for lunch today.  Matthew even has his own dosa now and got right through an egg dosa.  The Dosas we get from "Riverwalk Tandoori" (which is nowhere near a river) are certainly inspiring, even though they are completely vegetarian.  We arrived at the restaurant at 11:30, at the same time that the owner did.  So we were served promptly.

We repaired to my sitting room for tea and afters with the afters consisting of some good choc-chip cookies provided by me and some fresh strawberries provided by Susan.  Every bit of both went down.

Paul brought along his Oxford Book of English Verse and I read and explained a few poems out of it  -- mostly patriotic poems which both Paul and I like.  We read "Mariners of England" and "He fell among Thieves" but also Shelley's "To a Skylark" and Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale".  They all required a bit of explanation to people who know only the language of today.

Paul at one stage asked me what Jenny and I had been talking about at our "Ronald Reagan" dinner and I replied that we had just been talking about what family members had been doing lately.  With a big smile, Susan greeted that news with "Aha!  GOSSIP"!  I think she had a win there.

Gossip however (defined as talking about people you know) is as far as I can tell universal where people relax together or have time on their hands.  Today we had our usual discussions about politics.  I mentioned to  Paul that Ken had once asked me how I classified him politically. I replied that I categorized him as a "recovering Leftist".  From what I can gather Ken has done the usual political journey from Left to Right that most people do over their lifetime

We also had a discussion about my recent blog posts on feminism. We talked about what it means to be “sexist”. For example when I refer to a woman adopting traditional female roles as being “the perfect wife”,  I am from a feminist viewpoint revealing myself as an awful bigot and am disrespecting the woman concerned. Feminists think that all women should have "careers".

Towards the end of our get-together, I introduced Paul and Susan to Bushell's coffee and chicory essence.  It is almost forgotten now but in some parts of the world it WAS coffee for many decades.  I introduced it to them as a sort of history lesson.  I still drink it myself  -- as my father did.

Matthew was at his noisy best running around my house.  It is amazing the amount of noise a small boy can create.  He had a great time anyway.  Elise was her usual silent and serious self.

Paul wanted me to announce that he had recently been from his place to Ipswich and back in his electric car without needing to stop for recharging.   It is a cute little car.

Lumen Fidei

"Lumen Fidei" (light of faith) is the first encyclical of Pope Francis, though Francis admits that it was mostly written by Benedict, his predecessor.  And in my usual eccentric way I used part of my secular Sabbath to read it.

There is no doubt we encounter the mind of a real scholar in it. He actually mentions the name of God (YHWH) as given in the Hebrew Bible -- which is bordering on the eccentric in both the Christian and Jewish traditions.  It would appear however to be what YHWH himself wanted according to Psalms 83:18 ("That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth" KJV) and other OT passages. That the commandment to respect YHWH's name is taken to require suppression of it is incredibly perverse and would certainly make YHWH throw up his hands if he had any hands.

And Benedict's attempt to reconcile a Septuagint rendering of Isaiah with the Masoretic version is surely heroic, given the obvious divergence.  But the fact that he refers to the Septuagint at all is impressive.  There is a view that the Septuagint  -- or at least part of it -- is based on a text older than the Masoretic version and may hence be closer to the original.

But despite such flashes of unusual scholarship, the encyclical as a whole is quite unoriginal.  Perhaps an encyclical has to be that way.  The encyclical is a very thorough survey of past and present enthusiasm about faith and that is about it.  But that may enthuse others more than it does this hard-hearted old atheist.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ronald Wilson Reagan RIP

6th Feb. is President Reagan's birthday and I usually like to acknowledge it in some way.  Jenny and I had some family matters to discuss so I persuaded Jenny to cook us a dinner on 6th so it would be a celebration as well as a discussion.

I got to Jenny's place at 7pm and Jenny had a family favourite ready:  Egg-rolled pork. Plus Kim Chee plus Japanese ginger.  So it was a Korean dinner with all the trimmings.  Japanese ginger is exceptional.

We discussed how all the "kids" had gone and reviewed recent family events.  It was basically a knowledge-sharing exercise.  Jenny knew some things and I knew others. So now we both know more things.

So it was a very pleasant evening and an exceptional dinner.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

In memoriam

As army men tend to do, I have kept in touch with someone from my old army unit.  In my case it is our former sergeant major, a fellow classical music devotee.

He rang me today with some sad news.  Two former members have died recently:  Doug Tucker and John French  -- former Captain and former Staff Sergeant.  So this is my little  memorial to them.  I have vivid memories of both of them and it is hard to accept that they no longer exist.

Now that I am 70 I get that rather often.  People whom I remember as lively and fun people are just dead.  My imagination can not really cope with it.

One consolation today was that I heard there is one very senior member of our corps who is still going.  He must be in his 90s these days.  There are still some things that I want to ask him so it is very good of him to survive for so long!

I have put online all the academic journal articles I had published in the 70s and 80s -- and in consequence I do at times get people writing to me about them.  They obviously expect that I still exist and am as compos mentis as I was when I wrote the articles concerned.  Fortunately I am.  But what if I was dead  -- as many of my contemporaries are?  What would they do then?  I have no idea.

Feminists will always be a disgruntled minority of harpies huddled in a corner moaning to one-another

Most women will acknowledge some feminist sympathies  -- equal pay for equal work etc.  But I am not talking about those women.  I am talking about the feminists you encounter at universities and writing in the papers.  They are often quite good at changing official policies (generally set by men) but their influence on the behaviour of other women is minimal.

The big and unsurmountable problem for feminists is that young women are intensely interested in young men.  They are more interested in young men than young men are interested in them.  As a result, young women tend to PANDER to young men.  There!  I've said it.  The word that sends feminists molten.  A women pandering to a man deserves the lowest depths of hell and damnation from a feminist perspective.

I am moved to those thoughts by something I saw this morning as I was having a cup of tea with Anne at the seaside (Wynnum).  It was a classical example of the pandering I just mentioned.

What was happening was that two young men  -- perhaps around age 20 -- were fishing (the tide was in) without much success.  But fishing they were and they stuck at it despite catching only the occasional tiddler.  And they had a girl with them, a rather aspirational girl of about 18, about 5'5" tall with fair skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.  And she was in great shape wearing tight short denim shorts.

So what was she doing?  She was just there for the company.  She did have her own fishing rod and cast it in a few times but mostly she just pottered around or sat in a nearby shelter watching.  She was there because the men were there and for no other reason.  They paid their fishing much more attention than they paid her but she was nonetheless in great good humor, full of smiles.  She  was happy just to be there with the men.

And that is how it goes in the teenage years.  And as the years progress it gets even worse from a feminist perspective.  Young  women enter into intimate relationships with men -- not even requiring a wedding ring first these days.  But a wedding is still the vision for most women.

So feminists are up against human nature just as much as other  Leftists before them.  Leftists once thought that they could mould  a "new Soviet man" but were thwarted by human nature.  They simply drove Soviet man to drink.   A new feminist man is just as remote.  Feminized men tend in fact to be rather despised by most women.  Most women like men to be men.  Look at all the women who "wait" for husbands and boyfriends in the armed forces who are "away" on deployment.  Such a relationship looks a very bad deal from a certain point of view.  But men in the forces tend to be real men -- and women will put up with a lot to have such a man.  Where it matters, feminism is an abject failure.