Thursday, November 25, 2004

Honour without pride, pride without honour?

So, I've taken up a job. It's doing sales work with a company whose management structure greatly resembles a pyramid. And after but one day, I have a problem. I hate it. I thought my soul was being consumed before, but this is worse. Back at uni, one of the contibuting factors was I felt bad becuase I knew what I should be doing, and I wasn't doing this. I had certain obligations, and I wasn't meeting them. While I didn't seem to be able to fix this, I knew it was wrong. With this new job, I hate what I'm doing. When your mantra becomes "Along, not across"* things are not good.

And so I have a dilemma. I've given my word that I will give this company my best, until something better comes along. If I cop out, I break my word. I may be happier, but then I have lost honour. If I stick with it, I keep my word, but I lose some self respect.

So, it would seem that it comes down to which to I value more, honour or self respect. But it's not that easy. If I quit, break my word and lose honour, then how can I respect myself. And if I keep my honour in a way that causes me to become something I don't like, what good is honour.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if I was getting some good money for it. Today, after a 12 hour workday, more if you include the commute, I got a whole $38. Five years ago when I was working at KFC I got better money than that. And I got more time off. That just about pays for my new tie, public transport, lunch and the booze I bought to try and help me spend the evening in something besides misery.

I think that last point is a telling point. Never before have I sought refuge in the bottle. Not even when I felt the greatest pain I think I ever have. I didn't eat for almost five days, but I didn't seek escape. But that was pain. This is if not self-loathing, something akin to it.

I took time off from uni because I was unhappy with where I was. Dole bludging, while not stimulating or challenging, didn't turn me into something I don't like. This does. And I want out.

And so I have the question, which do I value more, honour or pride? And can I have one without the other?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A post about a post that's yet to be

The reason I started this blog was to give me a place to vent. Somewhere where I could commit my thoughts to something a bit less volatile than my own mind. As a part of this some of this would be dealing with my past. While this hasn't happened quite as I planned, it's getting there.

One of the posts was to be about my one attempt at romance. I knew going into it that it would be tough. So far I've written about two paragraphs, and that was more than a month ago. Now, normally I'm not all that communicative, but this is a bit extreme.

One part of the delay is that I have a metaphorical deal with pain. I avoid the things that cause it, and it leaves me alone. I know, pretty much everyone does this, but an explicit statement thereof makes things more significant. At least to my point of view. So, when I start to think about the topic, it pushes the limits of this deal.

Then there's the fact that it's a private matter. I've only ever told one member of my family about this, and that was limited to the fact that there was a girl I'm interested in. I don't think there's a single person who knows both sides of the situation. I know I don't.

Why does this sort of thing have to be so tricky? It's a pretty fundamental type of thing. One could almost go so far as to say that it's the basis for human culture. Am I talking about romance or communication?

I'm going to give the post another go later this evening. Perhaps I should have a few drinks beforehand. People say alcohol makes you freer with your words, but I've never found that to be the case. Mainly I get tired, and laugh too much at things.

Friday, November 19, 2004

By god can I be arrogant

I'm an athiest/agnostic. I don't really think that there's some great big god out there watching over us. I have an explanation for this, which follows these lines.

Assume god exists in some form.
Work out what the world would be like if the assumed god did exist.
Compared hypothetical world with actual world.
The real world is not quite like that is it?
Therefore the assumed god does not exist.

Now this is a seemingly simple proof by contradiction, but only recently did I spot something within it that threatens its validity. The problem is that you have to define god. Now, assuming a god did exist, isn't it just a little bit presumptive for me to dictate what form he would take. And so, now I have to add a bit more finesse to the argument.

A simple addition would be to repeat the process for all possible assumed gods. One problem with this though is that it still doesn't rule out all gods. Any god who created the universe so that today it appears the way it is and has then done nothing to affect the portion of the universe we can observe so far will pass the test. But is a god that merely flipped a switch and then gone onto other things really that impressive. Ok, they made a universe and all, but the sentiment there is more a factory working making a watch, not a craftsman putting together a work of art. And is there really any point in worshipping a god who just made a place to live in and then left it alone for whoever to walk in and occupy it. It's not like your going to be rewarded for it.

A christian god should still be ruled out though. It's not like he's been active all that recently. And if he made everything, and is all loving and all caring, why is there evil in the world? And don't cop out by saying that all the evil is due to Satan. Just where do you think Satan came from? Wyoming? No, I believe Satan, and his cohorts, were formerly angels, weren't they? And guess who created all the angels? Why I think it was the one called I am, the big god man himself. So was something whispering in his ear as he made the angels? Are we to have evil beings instead of turtles going all the way down?

I think this boils down to what you want out of a god. Me, I want a god with the following properties: wisdom, power, knowledge, kindness, consistency, flexibility, not necessarily in that order. The way the christian god fails for me is that one can live what many would say is a perfect christian life, raise your kids well, be kind to others, help out those in need, etc, etc, but, if you make the one tiny mistake of not believing in god, well your just out of luck. Apparently the all-knowing, all-loving, all-forgiving god can't let that one slide. And that, kind people, is bullshit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

It's christmas where?

So we're through November, and christmas stuff is everywhere. I think the first sighting of christmas paraphenalia was in late October. I feel this is a bit too much.

I'm not sure why the stores do this. They know that people are going to buy christmas presents. Well at least all the christians, practising or otherwise. I can understand a sort of getting into the spirit, but two whole months? Prolonged exposure just desensitizes you to it. I get nowhere near as excited about christmas nowadays compared to when I was a little kid. Part of that is growing up, but seeing christmas decorations for two months beforehand, you just get tired of it.

Personally, I'm not going to do anything christmas related until December. No shopping for presents, putting up decorations, etc, etc. No buying of christmas stocking chocolates either.

Of course, this means that in 3 or 4 weeks tv is going to be inundated with christmas specials, all of which have been shown oh too many times. This is fine for the kids, but can we keep normal programming for the rest of us?

Monday, November 15, 2004

The story of a story

About a year ago I started to write a story. I didn't get far. The story was planned to sort of be a bit of a debate about whether or not monarchy in its various forms is good or bad for a society. Thinking back, a lot of my thinking seemed to reflect some of the republic debate here in Australia. The basic outline of the story was as follows

Big tough guy deposes a cruel tyrant. He then proclaims that for 1000 generations his heirs will rule. Over the next 1000 generations the small country (a bit like something from a Conan story) grows into an interstellar empire (not to big, 20-30 star systems) and the ruling family go from being absolute rulers to almost figureheads, a bit like the Queen of England, but with more power in setting the general policies of the government. The problem comes when the 1000th generation dies and a controversy arises as to whether his son is allowed to become ruler.

The general idea was that the story would consist of a number of sort of debates about how the existence of a hereditary ruling family has shaped the culture, and if it has had a positive or negative effect. Various people have different opinions based on their position, experience and outlook. Some of the alternatives looked at include a directly elected head of state in some form or another, the return of rule to the tyrant’s descendants, and maintenance of the status quo.

Part of the problem in writing this is that I'm not too good at dialogue, and as most of it would be discussions between the heir and other people, this is a bit of a problem. The other thing is that I'm still not sure what I want the final resolution to be.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I wish I had more money

The other day I was browsing a book store and was quite happy when I got to the new releases in the sci fi section. There were three books, all of which on simply seeing, I knew I would read and most likely quite enjoy.

First up was The Art of Discworld. This book feature many wonderful illustration by Paul Kidby of the Discworld and it's many inhabitants. I actually went through the whole thing in the bookstore. All of the pictures are really impressive. The other thing that really impressed me was how much the pictures matched my idea of the characters. This is not always the case. The worst example I can think of is the illustrated guide to the wheel of time. I went through most of that looking at the illustrations and thinking that those aren't the people their meant to be.

The second was The Algebraist by Iain M Banks. Banks is an excellent author who has created a unique world with his Culture novels. While The Algebraist isn't set within the Culture universe, I still expect it to be a good read.

Finally there was the Runes of the Earth. The first book in the last chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Anyone who recognises the name Thomas Covenant shouldn't have any question as to why I want to read this one. The Thomas Covenant novels are a masterpiece. Though dark, they offer insight into belief, reality, sacrifice, service, loyalty, hope, redemption and more aspects of humanity.

So, I've put holds on two books at the local library, and have some good reading ahead.

Job Interviews

Yesterday I had an interview for a job. The job was a telemarketing position. However it was selling to businesses, not interupting people during dinner, so I wouldn't have had to forsake my whole soul. Just a small bit of it. It did mean having to wear a monkey suit, ie good shirt and tie. First worrying thing: it took about 5 minutes for me to do up the top button around my neck. First good thing: I tied my tie first time.

So I go in and talk to the lady from the recruiting agency. She seemed much more keen on selling the job to me than making sure I could do the job. She also gave me a bunch of banking forms and employment stuff to fill in which struck me as slightly optimistic. After a 10-15 minute chat with her, she sent me over to the actual company to have an interview with their guy.

The guy at the company seemed a bit sceptical as to why I wanted to be a telemarketer. Apparently it's not the first choice career of people with degrees in physics and maths and good IT skills. I explained that I wanted to do something different to what I ahd been doing before, and that I had tried for other jobs that are more skilled, but was hampered by a lack of experience, which could partly be rectified by doing some sort of work involving regular contact with people. Motivation and the ability to deal with rejection were factors also brought up.

In the end I didn't get the job. The two spots available went to other people with experience. Ah well. I only really applied because it was something I could do and Centerlink make me apply for 10 jobs a fortnight.

Now the thing that really confused me was the lady from the recruiting agency's reaction to part of my CV. The thing that really impressed her was my career objective. Now, when I was updating my CV, I refered to How to be a Man. This is a well written and honest reference guide to many of the things that are useful to know in regular life. Now, when it comes to putting in a career objective for a resume, aside from saying to keep it short and simple, the authors say "This is the section of your CV which would be called 'fiction' if you were being honest'. Keeping this in mind then, my career objective read

"To become the best telemarker that I can, and to rise through the ranks to team leader and eventually into management".

Now if you saw something like that in a CV, having no other knowledge of the person, just how sincere do you think a statement like that would be? It's just as well that I haven't applied for any other jobs through the agency, or they'd have noticed I want to become the best data entry operator, collections agent, help desk operator and others that I can be. And so I wonder about people who are impressed by this sort of thing. I mean, I have a first class honors degree in physics. I'm half way through a PhD. Surely there is something in what I've previously done that is slightly more impressive than one very insincere sentence intended to curry favor.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Keeping in Touch

Very rarely do I make an effort to continue a friendship once regular contact ceases. One part of this is laziness, another is that I don't really bond well with people, and so I don't have that much invested in most friendships. Finally most of my friends have been at some type of school like setting, so the main commonality is being in the same place at the same time doing pretty much the same thing.

The last time I saw a friend from high school was about a month ago, briefly at subway late on a Friday night. Another friend lives nearby and I occaisonaly see him at the train station. My best friend from high school I haven't seen for a couple of years. The majority I haven't seen since the last day of school.

Something similar is now happening with my friends from undergrad. Most of the people I went through undergrad with have moved onto new places, new universities, new departments, new jobs. A few have hung around, but not many.

So now it seems that if I'm to have more than a few friends I make regular contact with, I'll have to make some more. This I don't do well. Compound that with my recent hermit like behaviour, I seem to becoming even more misanthropic. This does not bode well.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Career Goals

Today, as part of trying to prove that I deserve to get money from the government for being unemployed I had to go to a company who is supposed to help me get a job. There I had to fill out a form that is essentially a resume, and listen to them prattle on a bit. So far their efforts seem to be signing me up to a jobsearch website run by the government. Yay, taxpayers money well spent.

The guy who processed me through there was quite unimpressed with one of my responses on the form. Under career ambitions I wrote
Find a job that doesn't suck away at my soul.
So perhaps it's not the most positively framed career ambition. But it's honest. I think it's a lot better than their example which was along the lines of "to gain experience in the field of administration". What is that about? That's not an ambition. It's a natural consequence of doing administration work. My ambition is to find something to do that doesn't make me feel like I'm trapped into doing something I don't want to do.

Let's try and rephrase that in a slightly more positive mindset
I want to find a job that enagages and stimulates me and encourages me to achieve my potential.
Wow. Now I hate myself. I look like a word wanker who prostitutes language to make it mean things it doesn't. Sure with a theusaurus it might look like it means the same, but it takes two very different mindsets to come up with. It's probably not good that I can do both.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Just how fucked up is America?

Well, The US presidential election is here again, and this time round the bruh-ha-ha will be in Ohio. But in reading some of the coverage on various sites, I've encountered something I find deeply offensive. It's a practise that seems to have no purpose but to try and ensure that those likely to vote for the opponent can't vote.

Apparently in some states the parties are allowed to have challengers at election sites. The role of these challengers seems to be to convince those running the election sites that certain people are ineligable to vote. Just what the fuck is going on with that? Having grown up in a country with mandatory voting I'm offended by this. I feel that it is morally wrong to have people standing by with the intention of claiming that people aren't entitled to vote.

The people doing this aren't neutral, uninvolved parties. If there were some restrictions on who could vote, such as people with volkswagons couldn't vote, and this were enforced by neutral parties, I could perhaps accept this. But the people doing this are members of the two big parties, and just what are they meant to be doing anyway? Do they tell the people running the polling booth that someone who looks like that already voted somewhere else today? How can they honestly expect to make a reasonable claim that someone shouldn't vote.

And that's another thing about American elections. They're not run by neutral parties. They're run by the parties, depending on whose in charge in each state. And that's why you get shit like what happened in Florida last time going on where the person in charge of announcing the official result was the person who ran Bush's campaign in Florida. Surely I don't have to point out that in no sane, rational society that should be acceptable.

Now, I acknowledge that no system of electing a government is going to be perfect, the more I see crazy stuff like this, the more I like the way the Australian system works. Firstly, elections are held on a Saturday, so everyone should be able to get to a polling booth to vote, which is just as well, cause we get fined if we don't. None of this "don't blame me, I didn't vote" bullshit, you had your say and if more people disagree than agree with you, well that's democracy for you. And then theres the ballots. A nice column of boxes, with the candidates neatly aligned so that one can easily and without doubt tell which box is for which candidate. You number the boxes one through to the number of candidates, with the one going to your prefered candidate. No computers, no punchcards, no hanging chads, just paper and pencil. And we manage to get most of the counting done by midnight the day of the election. Counting is done by scrutineers, who while being designated by the parties, everyone on a ballot can appoint a scrutineer, and it's a lot harder to get up to shenanigans with ballots when the enemy is sitting next to you watching. I may not agree with who got voted in, but the system seems better than most.

And now it appears that Howard with his majority in the senate may be planning to mess it up, just so he can keep going. Fuck he's a retard. Just what the fuck does it take to have an electorate turn against you. Last election he rustled up a scare campaign based on outright lies. Snce then he's gotten us involved in a war the most of us didn't support, agreed to a free trade agreement that mainly consists of Australia bending over to be fucked by America, lies to the people on many occasions, and then has the gall to run a campaign based on trust.

At the moment, the fate of the American presidency lies in Ohio, which currently is too close to call. The BBC puts Bush ahead by 150000 votes, as does CNN. FOX has decided that that is enough to give it to old George, but I think I'm going to go with the foreigners with this one. All we can do now is wait.

Well this went on a bit more than I thought it would. I really just wanted to express outrage at the concept of challengers at the polling booths. By god, just who do they think they are? If someone stopped me outside the polling booth and tried to tell me I couldn't vote, just cause they didn't like the look of me, there would be shit to pay. I'd probably have an assault charge against me, but I'd have voted by the time the cops arrived. Even after all this ranting, I want to find someone to bitchslap. Home of democracy, land of the free. What a fucking joke.

Monday, November 01, 2004

An exercise in creative motivation

For most of my life, I've had a bit of a pot belly. Nothing too excessive, but still a little bit more than is optimal. It was there when I was a small kid. During high school it disappeared due to a slightly lower food intake and mandatory exercise while at boarding school, and the rest of my body also growing taller and wider, while the gut remained the same and so it no longer stood out. In hindsight, at the end of high school I was the fittest I've ever been.

Then came university. No one telling me what to do with my time, the freedom to do whatever I want including consuming large quantities of junk food and not to exercise. And so over the first year of uni the gut returned, and has hung around for the next 5 years until now.

Recently one of my friends confronted me about this, and has encouraged me to do something about this. So far my efforts have been to go jogging once a week for 15 to 20 minutes. Not much, but it's a start. I'm also trying to eat slightly better, but apart from my departure from the cult of pepsi several months ago and joining the church of OJ, not much has happened.

The main thing that seems to be limiting my exercise seems to be a lack of discipline. Given the choice of browsing wikipedia some more or going jogging, I'll browse wikipedia. There was a character in one of Terry Pratchett's novels who had refined laziness to such a state that he remained fit as by doing so it was much easier for him to move around and do stuff. This sort of attitude I'd like to develop, but I can't seem to make the long term positive effects outweigh the short term negative of having to go jogging.

This afternoon I did go jogging. Normally my friend comes over on a Monday and we go jogging together. He had to work today though, so that didn't happen. It had seemed as though I was all set to skip this week, but then providence gave me a reprieve. I needed some stuff from the shops down the road. And so I jogged to the shops. If all I need to exercise is an ulterior motive, then perhaps I should engineer some more. This may be a case of the ends justifying the means.