Monday, July 17, 2006

My birthday celebrations

Unlike a lot of bloggers, I don't write routinely about my personal life but occasionally I do break out and I thought that a birthday is a reasonable occasion to do so. So here comes a very rambling account of my 63rd birthday celebrations on the weekend just past.

The first birthday-related activity was when Jill -- one of the lovely ladies in my now rather distant past -- gave Anne and me a very fine lunch at her place. I drove my recently-acquired 1963 Humber Super Snipe to the lunch and Jill loved it. She did herself live in England in the 60s and at that time drove both a Hillman and a Bentley so she has a soft spot for old English cars.

I kept the Humber out of the garage when we got back from Jill's in order for Anne and me to take it out out that night as well. That night, we drove in it down to Wynnum, which is a seaside area of Brisbane. We had fish and chips on the esplanade, overlooking Moreton Bay, which was very pleasant, despite a rather cold wind. I know a place at Wynnum that does good fish and chips -- which any Englishman or Australian will tell you is important knowledge to have about where you live.

On Sunday morning, my ex-wife Jenny gave Anne and me brunch, with many good things to eat. My son Joe and his Thai girlfriend also attended. It was only a small occasion as the big family gathering was that night.

On Sunday night I hosted a dinner at a local Indian restaurant for "family" -- with "family" being rather loosely defined. There were 18 of us. The family concerned is unusually cohesive by Anglo-Saxon standards and gets together with considerable frequency for various occasions -- particularly birthdays, "visitors from England" etc., so it was certainly my turn to host something. We have a family "Christmas in July" coming up very soon -- an idea which makes sense only to English people living in Australia who have this odd notion that Christmas should happen in midwinter.

An Australian Christmas is of course in midsummer. My earliest memories of Christmas include seeing heatwaves rise like worms off hot bitumen roads -- in the tropics where I was brought up. That must be pretty incomprehensible to most of my readers, I am sure. It is sort of amazing that people could adapt to such extreme heat but the tropical-adapted population from which I come think nothing of it. We are definitely "white niggers" -- white people who are as at ease in the tropics as any black man -- though we get a lot more skin-cancer than black men do.

Anyway, as usual, the Indian food was good and we all enjoyed the occasion. In good traditional Australian/British style, the men mostly talked to the men and the women to the women but Anne is a great communicator so she talked to the men a fair bit as well. I am a rather silent type in person so I am always happy to have a lady in my life to do the talking. The late Hans Eysenck was the same. He wrote so much that he was at one time the world's most cited living psychologist but on social occasions it was his wife Sybil who did most of the talking.

So despite what may seem like some oddities, I greatly enjoyed my two days of birthday celebrations. I even managed to fit in more blogging than I thought I would. You can't keep a keen blogger down!



You can find here the words of the latest Bob Dylan song: "Neighborhood Bully". It is about Israel and sums up neatly the huge and irrational bias against Israel in the large part of the world that cannot cope with reality.

There is an article here about the worldwide base of support for the Bombay train bombers.

Why is this loony not talking to the terrorists?: "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Western powers were "keeping mum" over mounting bloodshed in the Middle East, warning that they would "pay the bill" by facing more terrorist attacks, Anatolia news agency reported. "Bombs are exploding, innocent people are being killed, infrastructures are being destroyed... The powerful continue to crush the weak, but unfortunately those who hold the power in the world are keeping mum," Mr Erdogan said in the northeastern city of Artvin. "Those who back global peace (only) with words will sooner or later pay the bill by facing global terrorism... This is what is provoking terrorism," he was quoted as saying. Mr Erdogan complained that violence in the Middle East was also damaging the United States' efforts to enhance democracy and human rights in the region, hinting that Ankara might reconsider its role in such initiatives."

Goodlatte: Bad Bet : "Bob Goodlatte says online gambling is illegal, and he wants to ban it. He sees no contradiction between these two positions. The Virginia Republican is co-author of a bill approved yesterday by the House of Representatives that threatens operators of online casinos and betting parlors with a five-year prison sentence. The legislation, which the Senate has not considered yet, also requires banks and credit card companies to block payments to such sites. Goodlatte says "it is time to shine a bright light on these illegal sites and bring a quick end to illegal gambling on the Internet." Yet he concedes that "under current federal law, it is unclear whether using the Internet to operate a gambling business is illegal." Confused? You're not the only one. The online gambling ban, which dictates what adults may do with their own money on their own computers in their own homes, is part of what Republicans proudly call their "American Values Agenda." Evidently those values do not include privacy, freedom of choice, individual responsibility, or free markets."

Noam Chomsky: America's village idiot: "Some of Chomsky's most important claims cannot reasonably be considered scientific achievements at all. In this article I discuss the nature of scientific inquiry. I want to show that the standards of achievement for serious scientists such as the physicist Albert Einstein are far higher than those of MIT's professor of linguistics, Noam Chomsky. In fact, I hope to take it a step further and show that Chomsky's most important claims cannot reasonably be considered scientific achievements at all. Furthermore, what some of Chomsky's admirers claim to be legitimate achievements are in fact instances of intellectual "con artistry;" what is claimed as profound insight is nothing more than academic fraud."

There is an amazing quiz here that asks you to look at pictures of 10 different men. Each is either a serial killer or an inventor of a computer programming language. It is amazingly hard to tell which is which. I got only 7 out of 10 right.

There is a very good "Yiddisher Momma" joke just up on Wicked Thoughts



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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