March 31, 2018

Horse 2390 - Fragments VII: The Magnificent Seven Samurai

C02 - I Love Crows

I think that I'm quite fortunate to be able to walk through a park in the morning to get to the train station on my way to work. I love the fact that the sky is a complex canvas writ large, upon which colours are splashed, clouds are haphazardly strewn and tumble about, and that birds play around in it because they are beholden to no-one.

In my morning survey of the morning sky, I find that we have quite a number of different bird species, even just in suburbia. The mynahs are little punks who attack in groups because they're too cowardly and small to go it alone, cockatoos are like the cool kids who are wrapped up in their own little world but want to very loudly let you know how wonderful they are, galahs are the local council of birds who stand around in their suited jackets as they argue among themselves, and magpies are a bunch of greasers who would carry a switchblade if they could because they can and will make you bleed at the smallest of opportunities. There's also the ibis, which when silhouetted against the sky looks majestic and graceful but on the ground is humble to have earned its moniker of the "bin chicken".
There are also rainbow lorikeets who just like teenagers in a shopping mall are an explosion of colour and bad manners, various owls who have managed to convince the world that they are wise when in actual fact they are common thugs and thieves, and kookaburras which are like dodgy tradespeople who think that everything is hilarious while they steal anything that's not nailed down.

My favourite of all though, are crows. l love crows.

The crows that we get in our part of the world are definitely black but they give off a very subtle dazzle of blue. Crows make no nonsense of the fact that they know what they are, and what they are is efficient death machines. It's hardly surprising that crows are the poster bird for goths because although crows also don't "get" you, they also don't hide that they don't care about you either.


C97 - Copying Stuff Down

While at church on Sunday and deep in the mire of the cross reference Biblympics (which includes speed finding things, the modern penta-phalanaxathon which is putting five fingers in various places, and memory archery), I came across a passage in Deuteronomy 17, which has to do with the appointment of a king.
The list of things that the law proscribes in Deuteronomy includes an instruction that the new king should copy out their own copy of the law. The curious thing is that if you look at the appointment of Saul, David, Solomon and onwards, it is never mentioned once that any of them ever complied with the law and copied out their own copy. While this might sound trivial, it is worth considering that in the Old Testament, the stories of the kings is generally one of mayhem and destruction; and finally ends with the nation of Israel snapping in half, the northern kingdom disappearing entirely and the southern kingdom going into exile and never being properly restored.

This post isn't a discussion about the ins and outs of obeying the Torah because quite frankly it's massive and I don't have the years of experience in Hebrew law to make any discussion worthwhile, but it is an observation about bothering to read a document.

The whole point of copying out the Torah as far as I can tell, is to give the new king a very slow overview of the law which as the head of the nation, it was his job to administer. Say what you will about the validity of sanity of vesting the power of government in the single person of the Crown, it does make a lot of sense that they should start out with a grounding in the law.

In Australia, we have had many politicians fall foul of a relatively forgotten section within the Constitution; namely Section 44 that happens to default someone for eligibility if they retain a legal allegiance to another country. Again, say what you like about the sanity of having such a section contained within the Constitution but the fact remains that that is the rule and people should be aware of it before they were embark upon a career in the house on the hill in Canberra.
Also when you consider that it's been there since 1901 and that you can buy your own copy of the Constitution for $5 in the bookstore near the front entrance of the building, it really isn't all that difficult or arduous for prospective candidates to have done that barest of minimums and read through the rule set for the job that they want to embark upon.
As an accountant, at very least I need to be aware of my way around the Income Tax Assessment Acts of 1936 and 1997, the GST Act 2000 and the Corporations Act 2000. There is a neat summary book called the Master Tax Guide which comes out yearly and by about the end of July, I will have read all of it from cover to cover. I still can't honestly tell you what the various tax brackets are from one year to year and to remember them all would be maddening but I know where to find them.

I think it would be also incredibly useful for the resident in chief of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to be forced to copy out their own copy of the US Constitution because as far as I can tell, with the exception of Obama who was a lawyer before he got the job in the Senate, most Presidents don't really have all that good a grasp on the document which defines their position and I doubt whether to current one has even read the thing.


I99 - Invasion Of Personal Space

It is 08:27am and after waiting half an hour for a bus, after not getting on the previous bus because it was full and then outrunning it to the next stop only to discover that it was still full, I got onto the next M30 bus from the city to Mosman. After running around like a mad thing and then standing around in the cold, I was not exactly in the most patient of moods. It probably explains my annoyance at the bus load of people on the bus who arrived who managed to occupy the front of the bus but left the back of the bus empty.
My annoyance was compounded when I was abruptly asked the question "What the **** do you want?" when I had the sheer tenacity to look past everyone at the back of the bus and at several rows of empty seats as though they were the promised land. Instantaneously I knew that I would have to negotiate with nine people to get to the back of the bus but all I could do was apologise for my existence and continue to stand in the red "No Standing" section of the bus and hope and pray that it didn't have to stop in a hurry and I'd unwittingly become the hero of the unpopular book "Andrew's Adventures Through The Windshield Glass".

I am prepared to forgive acts of public rudeness because they generally don't come from a place of malice. No doubt this person was also just as exasperated as I was at having to wait half an hour for a bus when they should be arriving with a ten minute frequency.
I don't want to present myself as some hero of a strange narrative because I'm sure that as self contained ego driven meatbags who are only capable of seeing the world from our own perspective, that experience is common to all. Quite the contrary, I will confess that although I have a tongue in my head which generally refrains from uttering the words that society has deemed to be the worst, I'm still sure that I would have been just as guilty of callousness at the invasion of my personal space as well.


P38 - Australian Mutual Paternalism

It's like telling me to keep on chasing after a rainbow because I'll never know what I might find on the journey. That's fine to tell poets and artists in the process of creating something which might not necessarily be empirical but to tell me that sort of thing while I bleed myself dry to lubricate the wheels of industry is nothing but paternalistic claptrap.

If for argument's sake we assume that the rate of return on invested capital is 5%, then someone with a pot of $1.5m will 'earn' more than median wage earning worker who has to break their back while doing so, while they could literally spend the whole year sitting around eating bon-bon-bon-bons all day and every day. Except for that brief illusory period between 1945 and 1975, owning stuff and collecting the reward for owning stuff has always been a road to faster riches and unless someone who is born into wealth and is stupidly profligate, then the status quo will naturally reassert itself.
A company like AMP which once was a Mutual Provident Society but moved into the commercial realm of owning the pile of capital a very long time ago, by virtue of its own desire to go chasing after the great pile of swirling money, rather than the intended job of providing cheap, mutual, provident, insurance. It's not like their unique in this either because St George is just as guilty at not being a building society any more and Mercantile Mutual decided to hurl itself into an even bigger swirling pile of money by sacrificing itself on the altar of international conglomerate ING.

All of these paternalistic things are fine I suppose but the underlying problem of why people cannot afford to buy a house is actually a little more myriad in explanation than merely blaming the victim here. The two biggest reasons why people cannot afford to buy a house is that firstly, wages have been falling in real terms since about the third quarter of 1979; this is in tandem that as wages are falling, capital still needs to flow somewhere and since we've basically decided that manufacturing and making stuff isn't worth the effort any more, that capital has flooded into housing. That pushes the demand curve for housing to the right and the market finds a new equilibrium position Simple basic market theory tells that.

The worst thing is that AMP are complicit in moving the giant pile of money into housing, just like every other to financial institution, so their paternalistic yelling just sounds hollow. This article is mining that great mound of sentiment of accusing the poor of being poor because they don't work hard enough, despite the fact that someone who has a sufficiently big enough pile of money can earn more without having to do any work of their own. Usually married to that sentiment is that the poor are poor because they've made bad choices, in spite of the fact that the actual choices of what to spend their money on (which they did real work for) are mostly limited by those apparently "bad choices" to pay the bills when they fall due. Keeping the lights on, the gas on, the water on, and keeping the rent collectors at bay, are apparently "bad choices" because in the eyes of those doing the yelling, they would rather blame people who don't earn very much money of not working hard enough rather than addressing the issue that they themselves turned down the tap of wages to a trickle but vastly inflated the costs of housing by pumping ever more capital into it.


S13 - Spicy Food

The truth of the matter is that I love spicy food. How hot is hot enough? I want it to be so hot that I've fallen over, am lying on the floor in the fetal position, blood pouring out of every orifice, with all of those orifices like a burning ring of fire. Warning, Hot? Really? Is there the threat of hospitalisation that comes with the product?


S58 - Smelly People On The Train

How do you describe such a smell? It is kind of like if you built a fifteen palette tower to a significant height, somehow managed to acquire several tons of pot pourri, dowsed the whole lot in vanilla oil and two stroke additive, and then set fire to the whole lot. It is simultaneously acrid and glorious at the same time. That someone should voluntarily choose to dowse their own person with the perfume is mind blowing. There is good reason why we don't use room freshener as a personal deodorant and that reason is that we don't want to inflict upon ourselves the curse of leaking from our sinuses, an unending torrent.
However this person has thrown sanity to the four winds and done it anyway. I don't know whether to be confused, impressed, or just feel sorry that this person doesn't seem to understand this social moray. I do know that from a distance of three feet away, every single part of my ENT plumbing is trying to mount an armed rebellion and it feels as though war has already been declared inside my sinuses... and there's the smell of deep fried lasagne coming from the other side of the aisle, which is also confusing and audacious as a concept.

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