Furious Eye

Because I Said So: Australian College, Libel and Legal Action.

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Thankfully I was raised by parents who not only had the intelligence, but the respect, to reason with their children, to explain why I was, in fact, going to go to bed right now, or that I’d be using a broom from now on as a direct result of being unable to keep my willy out of the vacuum cleaner, or that eating more of that chocolate was going to make me hyperactive, then overly tired, then unable to conduct myself in an appropriate fashion, which would probably lead to a spanking, but you know, if I wanted to risk it, the choice was mine.

Now, I have since had enough experience with educational institutions to know that the administrative bureaucracies therein rarely fall outside of the lower end of average on the bell curves of reasonableness and competence, and I’m well acquainted enough with a variety of workplace environments to know that senior positions in just about any institution, in any industry, are frequently filled by people who have absolutely no business doing anything more involved than manning a fucking checkout in some two-bit, backwater supermarket in the arse end of Yepoon. Still, despite the piss-poor standard of most upper-middle management, it is a rare occasion that one comes across a “professional”, particularly one dealing with other adults, whose delusions of adequacy countenance the use of that pillar of explamplary parenting: “Because I said so, that’s why.”

From: Gethin Lynes [mailto:gethinlynes@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, 7 June 2013 1:37 PM
To: ######@australiancollege.edu.au
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hi ######,

Just wondering if it’s possible to be sent a digital copy of the course material for the National Editor Course.

Want to keep it as reference material, and will soon be moving overseas, so carting all the printed copies that I received prior to the college’s switch to digital is just not really an option.

Can you organise this, or can you refer me to whoever can assist?

Thanks much,

Gethin.

From: ###### ####### [mailto:######@australiancollege.edu.au]
Sent: Friday, 7 June 2013 2:35 PM
To: gethinlynes@gmail.com
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hello Gethin,

I have discussed this with the CEO and unfortunately we would not be able to provide a digital copy.

Perhaps you could scan your hard copies.

Kindest regards, ######

From: Gethin Lynes [mailto:gethinlynes@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, 7 June 2013 5:08 PM
To: ######@australiancollege.edu.au
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hi ######,

Perhaps you could explain the reason for this.

According to the college’s website, “all course materials are now provided as soft copies”, so clearly they are available as digital copies.

Since I am a paying student, is there some reason I should not be treated the same as other students?

I have paid no small sum of money for this course, and providing copies of my material that I can effectively continue to use does not seem unreasonable, especially given that “soft copies” are now the norm.

Regards,

Gethin.

From: ###### ####### [mailto:######@australiancollege.edu.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 12 June 2013 8:23 AM
To: gethinlynes@gmail.com
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hello Gethin,

When you enrolled in the course you were provided hard copy course materials.

As of the 1/7/12 we no longer offered any new enrolment any other version except soft copy course materials.

There is the option to buy the hard copy materials during the enrolment period, if there is a preference for hard copy resources to assist with course learning.

As a paying student you were provided all course resources available at the time of your enrolment and have now completed your course.

If you require soft copy of the course materials, you will have to scan your hard copy course materials.

Kind regards, ######

From: Gethin Lynes [mailto:gethinlynes@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, 17 June 2013 2:50 PM
To: ######@australiancollege.edu.au
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hi ######,

This is an extremely disappointing response to my request, and one that I do not believe reflects very well on Australian College at all.

Frankly, I’m quite stunned, and at a loss as to why you would take that position. It has left me with a very bad taste, after what has otherwise been a very positive experience of the College. It’s almost as if you are being deliberately obtuse or going out of your way to be unnecessarily obstructive.

Your latest repsonse neither explains anything, nor gives any reason for your position.

I agree that I was, in fact, provided my course materials when I enrolled with the resources that were available at the time. The fact that I have “completed my course” is irrelevant in as far as making a reasonable request as a fee paying student goes. And, in fact, considering I have yet to receive my final assessment feedback, not to mention my diploma, I would venture that I am still very much an ongoing customer.

Regardless of this, however, what I am asking for seems straightforward and reasonable, and would save me considerable time and unnecessary expenditure on scanning. At the end of the day, the result would be the same – i.e. I would have a digital copy. (All current students have a digital copy already, so presumably it is not a copyright issue?)

If your (unexplained) reason has to do with the expense of sending me that material in soft copy, I would be happy to contribute a modest amount to cover that cost.

As things stand, you have an extremely unhappy customer, who has a strong inclination to engage in negative feedback via Social Media, and whatever other avenues are available to me. I would much prefer to end my relationship with the college on a positive note.

Could you please reconsider your position.

Gethin.

From: ###### ####### [mailto:######@australiancollege.edu.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 18 June 2013 1:41 PM
To: gethinlynes@gmail.com
Subject: National Editor Course material.

Hello Gethin,

At the time of your enrolment you were issued and received the course material, you had paid for.

You have now completed your course and our obligations have been met.

You have your course materials to scan for your private use. They cannot be re-issued by the College.

Gethin your threats are unwarranted and unjust. You have not received the answer you wanted and have decided to resort to threatening and bullying tactics.

We have forwarded your written “threat” to slander Australian College via social media to our legal team to commence the appropriate legal action.

Your comment of “preferring to end the relationship with the College on a positive note” is clearly false and misleading.

Please note any further correspondence from you will be forwarded straight to our legal team and in relation to this request, no further responses will be provided from myself.

###### #######

From: Gethin Lynes [mailto:gethinlynes@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, 21 June 2013 1:02 PM
To: ######@australiancollege.edu.au
Subject: National Editor Course material.

######,

At the risk of sounding repetitive, this is a very disappointing response. Not only is it unnecessarily aggressive, it is thoroughly unreasonable.

There was never any question of the College being under any “obligations”, as you put it, merely a quite reasonable request from myself for material that is being issued to other students as a matter of course.

I may have been mistaken in my understanding that until I have received my final results, and diploma, I am still a student of the College, but rather than relate this in a reasonable fashion, or give any explanation whatsoever for the College’s refusal to issue the soft copies of course material, you simply state the obvious: “you were issued and received your course material”.

Furthermore, you make the clearly false and misleading claim that these course materials “cannot be re-issued by the College”, when in fact, the College is merely unwilling to reissue them.

As far as your accusation of me making “threats” to the College goes, my indication that I feel inclined to express a negative response to my experience of the College was not intended as a threat, but as an illustration of exactly how unimpressed by the overall conduct of the College I am.

Not only do I find your current position regarding course materials to be unreasonable, but I have had criticisms of the course content the entire way through – criticisms I had intended making, not in any public way, but constructively and privately to the College administration. Not only is some of the course material grossly out dated – referring to sales trends, and technology advancements that were applicable in 2009, for example, but are now completely irrelevant to a changing publishing environment – but there are numerous instances of editorial mistakes in the course material. Ironic given the nature of the course in question. Of course, such mistakes will no doubt be shrugged off, and explained by the clever inclusion in the course material of the little anecdote about “Muphry’s Law”. Additionally, the habit of having almost every module marked by a different tutor, and providing no cohesive system of feedback, with an ongoing tutor who gets to know a particular student’s strengths and weaknesses and can therefore help address them, is very far from being an exceptional educational experience.

At any rate, your accusations of “slander” are completely unwarranted, being that:

a)      Slander is only slander if it’s untrue; and

b)      I am well within my rights to express an opinion, to whomever I choose, about my experience of dealing with the College; and

c)       I think you’ll find that it’s not slander, in print it’s libel. Perhaps you meant “defamation”.

There are, in fact, other reasons why the College would not have recourse to take legal action for slander, but I’m sure your legal team can apprise you of those.

Your claim that I did not get the answer I wanted, and decided to resort to threats and bullying tactics, is both disgracefully unprofessional, and rather ironic, considering you followed this up with your own bullying tactics and “threatened” me with legal action.

You could have quite easily replied by saying “Gethin, we can’t reconsider our position because…”, and while it would not have been the result I wanted, it would have given me the response I asked for.

I am under no illusions as to the College deciding hereafter to reconsider its position, and as you have explicitly stated, I shall not expect a response from yourself.

However, I will expect, and eagerly await, a response from your legal team, and the commencement of this “appropriate legal action”.

Regards,

Gethin.

Australian College “Leaders in Distance, Online Learning”.

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N.W.O.

Monkeys

Monkey No. 2 is getting desperate now. His guffawing is going on longer and longer, jarring in the disinterested silence. Eventually his forced laughter trails off, swallowed by the jungle of the Bureaucratic Primate Sanctuary. Pale beneath the sickly glow of the flourescent strip lights, Monkey No. 2 looks around in confusion, peering between the great boles of the towering 24-inch monitors and the vine-like tangles of USB cables. Consternation is writ large across his dull, simian countenance. Something isn’t right, and Monkey No. 2 is earnestly trying to puzzle it out. After a few moments, no revelation forthcoming, he taps obtusely at his keyboard.

Monkey No. 1 knows what’s coming next, and he stays well-hidden behind the blinking intellect vacuum of his computer screen. In the mould of monkeys everywhere, and lacking the essential insight into the tactical failure of his attempt to start a conversation, Monkey No. 2 is simply going to try harder. He is, Monkey No. 1 reflects, about as subtle as steel trap.

Monkey No. 1 knows full well he could make things simpler, could mollify Monkey No. 2’s sense of being isolated in the uncomfortable confines of his own skull, but Monkey No. 1 isn’t going to give him the fucking satisfaction.

It wouldn’t be difficult. A little counterfeit empathy, the grunt of a laugh, laden with falsified amusement, and Monkey No. 2 would feel all warm and fuzzy, like he was part of a larger whole, and would go back to being quiet for ten minutes. But there is no larger whole, only a collection of Monkey’s connected by nothing more than their bent backs, hunched over beneath the weight of the artificial lighting and their inescapable ennui. Their spines have become so rounded they can nearly blow themselves, which thinks Monkey No. 1, would at least relieve the tedium of Monkey No. 2’s repeated attempts to garner some interest in whatever banality he’s just dredged up from the depths of the interwebs. If he laughs long and loud enough, seems to go the thinking, eventually Monkey No. 1 will ask what’s so funny. In the logic of the terminally uninteresting though – akin to never realising that it’s himself and not another monkey he’s seeing in the mirror – Monkey No. 2 will never work out that Monkey No. 1 asks the question for the sole purpose of shutting him the fuck up.

Monkey No. 1 understands. He is not completely without sympathy. Even the paradisiacal intellectual territory of the essentially stupid, alluringly populated as it is with lolcatz and icanhascheesburgers and offensively judgemental pictures of the denizens of Walmart, gets a little lonely when the other monkeys have no interest in sharing it. But while he feels vaguely sorry for Monkey No. 2, Monkey No. 1’s tolerance for things that just aren’t funny is far outweighed by his well-cultivated tendency to not give a shit.

And so, in the nick of time, just before the bitter reward for not responding to the first painfully entreating laugh comes, Monkey No. 1 puts in his earphones. He is concerned enough about his worsening tinnitus that he doesn’t turn the volume up quite enough to drown out the next round of hee-hawing, but Monkey No. 2 is unaware of this, leaving Monkey No. 1 with a perfectly reasonable excuse to ignore him, which he does, staring fixedly at his monitor.

In the absence of any nibbles at his proffered bait, Monkey No. 2 falls silent once more. After a moment, and the click of a mouse button, he gets up to pace about the room.

Thinking himself perhaps cleverer than he is, Monkey No. 1 takes satisfaction in his victory, and accompanied by the dulcet tones of Ministry’s N.W.O., he makes his first mistake and opens his emails. Finding therein a hyper-link from Monkey No. 2, Monkey No. 1 makes his second, and much more dire, blunder: he clicks the link.

A shadow falls across his desk. Monkey No. 1 looks over his shoulder to where, in a display of tactical genius far beyond what Monkey No. 1 would have credited him with, stands Monkey No. 2, a desperate and fatuous grin slapped all over his face.

P!NK: dry humps and the fruit bowl.

At the risk of further ridicule – the jewel in the crown of which was the phenomenally witty assertion that I have come out of the closet, as though gay is still (or ever fucking was) an insult – I’m going to bring this up again: the P!NK concert… or perhaps “show” is more appropriate.

I’ll admit to a certain grudging respect, which is the last position I expected to be occupying.

I can’t remember the last time I was on the guest list for anything – potentially because I’ve never been on a fucking guest list – and I certainly can’t remember the last time I saw one of my oldest mates standing above the crowd and rocking an entire fucking stadium – probably for the same reason.

The plan was simple: watch The Kin strut their stuff:

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And then fuck off before the inevitable horror of the main event began, accompanied by the frantic screaming of a stadium full of salivating pop-monkeys. But I’m nothing if not an artist of self-punishment. And so, with the expectation of a kind of appalled fascination, I stayed beyond the opening act…

Part of me feels slightly sullied, like some poor naïve girl, tricked into going back to the hotel room of a charming AFL player, only to find half a dozen more already there, and now, a couple of days later I still can’t get the taste of cock out of my mouth. But for all the tonguing of record label, corporate p!nk bits, the whole thing wasn’t without it’s reciprocal pleasures. Mind you, it was a bit like your first dry hump at the school dance, that gets you all dribbling into your panties, but leaves you to go home in such a pent up state of dissatisfaction that you start eyeing up everything from the fruit bowl to the vacuum cleaner for something to get yourself off with.

Musically it was actually quite interesting. By which I mean, shit. Unlike any number of pop-whores before her, I’ll concede, the woman can actually sing, and by fuck can she dance, and do back flips and all kinds of highly erotic, gymnastic gyrations. The fact remains, however, that that one song she did, that went from pretty much the start of the show to the end, broken only by a bland piano ballad and a couple of insipid acoustic numbers, was monumentally mediocre. The Chris Isaak cover was pretty good though.

But let’s face it, it was never about the music was it? It was about the spectacle, and like the audience of the midnight opening of Man of Steel, sitting there with their undies on over their jeans and dreaming dreams of living something other than the vapid, meaningless existence that constitutes their reality, P!NK’s audience are transported to a choreographed, callipygous wonderland – one that was apparently designed in the 80s – where the adoring women, their faces uplifted to the sweaty spectacle on the stage, get to imagine themselves grinding away in those perfectly proportioned bodies, and the men, in their own fashion, imagine themselves grinding away in those same perfect bodies.

It’s precisely the formula used by the gods of big budget, soulless cinema – yes, Zack Snyder, I’m fucking looking at you. It’s all flashing lights and finely shaped arse cheeks, washboard abs and a soundtrack that does all your fucking thinking for you.

But fuck it, you know, who needs to think when it looks that good?

Wipe Your Bum.

What’s that, you ask?

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That, my little nipple ticklers, is an absolutely immaculate, 18yr old Talisker, dancing on the corpse of my final assessment. Ok, ok, so it’s not precisely immaculate, and yes, that is an ice cube floating in it. But before you come in here with your distillate elitism, let me ask you this: do I flay you for royally fucking up a perfectly good cup of coffee by putting milk in it, and sugar, and dumping a great choking cloud of chocolate dust over the top of it? No. So shut the fuck up.

I took the day off work today. I have done something twingey to my back. No, not from all those fucking weights I’ve been lugging off the floor like you’d think. From doing yoga. Yoga? The shit that is supposed to stretch the fuck out of all those twingey bits and turn you into a fucking flesh-coloured Gumby.

It was a good excuse though. I’m feeling a little emotionally drained the last couple of days. Well, emotionally bludgeoned more like, but you know, that’s a story for another venue. I’m not one to air dirty laundry in public. Not my own anyway. Someone else’s though, that’s another matter. Got no qualms about lifting up some other fucker’s filthy dacks and proclaiming in my quietest little shout: Hey, mate, have you looked at the state of your fucking undies lately? Look at this. Didn’t your mum teach you to wipe your bum?

Speaking of which, that reminds me of this time when I was a kid. I was at this friend’s place, somewhere in the years before I got seriously into lighting shit on fire, and sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to throw smoke bombs through the windows of any poor fucker that just happened to live within a two kilometre radius. You know, there were those years where you just had this urge to fuck shit up. They mostly sat between the slightly younger years, where you were content to sit silently and play computer games for fourteen hours straight and the slightly older years, where you were content to sit silently and play computer games for fourteen hours straight.

Anyway, this was before that time, and we were probably just sitting there kicking the shit out of footbag on California Games or something. Those were the days: all Commodore 64’s, tape drives, and plenty of time to run down the shops for a pie and a bag of lollies, and then have a quick swim, while you waited for the game to load. The days before short attention spans… because fucked if you weren’t going to play that game until you broke it, ’cause it just took 40 fucking minutes to load.

Anyway, there we were, doing something of the kind, and this guy’s brother – I don’t know which one, they were twins, and I could never tell the fuckers apart – off in the back off the house, evidently from the toilet, suddenly yells out “Mum, can you come and wipe my bum?”

What the fuck do you say to that? What do you even think? I mean, this kid was like ten fucking years old. I don’t think my mum had wiped my arse for me since about the time I learned to stand up on my own, let alone more than half the way to fucking University.

Jesus. That’s akin to still suckling your son to sleep when the little bastard’s on the verge of going to school. That’s some seriously messed up shit right there.

Anyway. Diploma. Done. Finished. Never have to fucking edit a thing again.

No doubt it’s a familiar feeling to anyone who has engaged in any kind of prolonged education by choice. School doesn’t count. You got no choice in that. But why on earth anyone chooses to do this to themselves is currently beyond me. You spend all this time studying something fascinating, compelling, maybe even liable to get you a fucking good job – or at least a better job than the one you got now, where you spend all day playing the ape in a room full of monkeys, and the fuckers keep looking in the mirror and cracking the shits at that other monkey who keeps looking right back at them all defiant and shit. And then you get to the end of it. You slave over your last essays, or analyses, or corrections, and the last thing you ever want to even think about doing, is this same thing, ever again. And fuck making a career out of this shit.

But the good news is, you don’t have to. No, instead, now you can come home from work at the end of every day, and instead of facing a long evening of trawling through someone else’s shit, looking for where they fucked it up, or dealing with the guilt of not doing that, well, now you get to deal with the guilt of that neglected, unloved and half-started novel that keeps looking at you, all doe-eyed and pouty from the corner of the desk every time you venture into the study.

Of course, you could always just shut the door and have another whisky.

And by the way, this one, it’s as immaculate as Mary was before she did the dog with Joe.

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…isms I

Reaction…

I admit to a state of mild embarassment. Not, as you might imagine, for making hasty, poorly thought out polictical statements that not only lack a certain eloquence, but potentially a solid foundation in fact. Nor, as someone of milder temperament might, do I feel much in the way of shame for telling some guy to go fuck himself. He deserved it, and probably plenty more besides.

No, the chagrin comes from once more allowing myself to get all riled up by the comments of some two-bit, right-wing, Farcebook academic, lauding himself as the foremost authority on… well… pretty much everything he can wrap his lips around.

I’m no stranger to interjecting myself into someone else’s social media conversation and pointing out the flaws in their reasoning, or even on occasion delivering (not especially) thinly veiled insults regarding someone’s (differing) belief systems or apparent lack of intelligence. I’ll make fun of public figures, post photos of some twat in a pair of “skinny” dress pants, and rant about the spiralling state of degradation our chance of survival as a species is in.

It’s quite the sad state of affairs, then, that when someone else jumps in and points the same fingers at me, I display deeply reactionary tendencies, tell him to fuck off, and immediately defriend him. All the sadder given that, ironically, being a reactionary is generally associated with some of the great thinkers of the wrong side of politics. 

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That’s me.

And yes, I know, I should say the other side of politics, not the wrong side. But, frankly, that’s bullshit… unless of course, you’re just really threatened by your imminent subjugation by the 23% of the world who is Muslim, all of whom want to kill the infidel – which is you, and even if they don’t kill you, they will infect your brain and control your thoughts and destroy your entire way of life – in which case you should really stop wasting time online and start stocking up on wagons.

The fact remains, I am far better off without having my feed sullied with the constant Islamaphobic, anglocentric bullshit, spouted by the afore mentioned Professor Polemical. Unfortunately, for all that, it seems my belief in my own cognitive abilities might be sorely misplaced. After countless occasions of (usually inadvertantly) starting fights, delivering insults and generally making an arse out of myself on any number of social media sites, you’d have thought that I’d have learned to reserve my propensity for saying stupid shit for the pub, where at least I have some fiery distillate to blame for my lack of reason and/or tact.

But no, despite having every opportunity to sit back and think, to sleep on it and to formulate an eloquently delivered rebuttal to whatever nonsense I’m being slapped with, I keep displying my intelligence by jumping straight in there and shouting FUCK OFF!

You Are Not Your Fucking Kakhis!

I knew I shouldn’t have done it, trend setters, but sometimes I’m just so caught up in the immediacy of an act, I can’t see what’s best for me… or what’s clearly not. Like that last dram of whisky in the wee hours (that slides down the throat like molten honey, but come the crack of noon is searing its way back up the same pipe) wearing a short sleeved shirt to the office seems at first to be quite the relief from the ungodly heat of the Westralian summer, but reveals itself in hind sight as an early indicator of an impending illness, less regurgitant than the whisky’s aftermath, but no less sickening.

Now, it’s been suggested that wearing said shirt says nothing about my standing as a pube1, being as it is around these parts a climatically appropriate garment. There have also, on a side note, been some spurious insinuations regarding said garment and my status as a sandgroper2; a status I categorically deny possessing. Indeed I feel compelled to oppose the former claim also, for posterity’s sake, of course, and not because I’m a contrary bastard (quiet, wife, not a word out of you). At any rate, it be with no pleasure whatsoever that I come to the realisation that a long, slow descent had begun, into an what could only be diagnosed as an advanced state of Public Service, certain to end the untimely death of the soul.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I was bound to end up throwing around the word coon, as seems to be rather part of the vernacular landscape hereabouts3, but I have found myself victim to terrible visions, premonitions of a future filled with a greying, serial-killer moustache and the quiet, constant grinding of teeth; a slow degradation of dreams and aspirations; the setting of low personal standards and the consistent failure to achieve them; the steady unbalancing of attitudes toward life, until the whingeing that comes out of my mouth so outweighs the laughter, it resembles the fat kid at the park who jumps on the other end of the seesaw and won’t let you down until his mother calls him for dinner, and then the desire to stuff his sweating, jowly face with whatever deep-fried slop the old lady is dishing up outstrips his malicious enjoyment at seeing you suffer.

There will be brief moments of laughter, passing glimpses of what life could be like, all full of inspiration and challenge and whatnot, like when the fat little bastard, desperate to fill the yawning void in his soul, leaps from the seesaw and runs for his dinner, and for an instant you no longer feel like your stuck in the air, dangling over a terrible fall, but are actually falling, and the adrenaline kicks in, and you feel alive… and then you hit the ground, and your knee slams into your chin and you’re suddenly choking on a mouthful of blood, and serve you fucking right for attempting to enjoy anything about your miserable existence. 

As luck would have it though, seeing oneself in the mirror, clad in the uniform of parochial office workers everywhere, is like catching an operable tumour before it turns malignant. There’s a moment of panic, the dread of a protracted, agonising death, followed by the orgasmic flood of deliverance, the knees suddenly weak with the spilling of all that seed of relief. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the surgical removal of this lackluster approach to life happens to coincide with the blissful turning of the seasons, with the comfortable donning of such finery as a waistcoat, the immediate signifyer of my separation from the rampant mediocrity of pubic office life. The cessation of sweatiness is great, and nice clothes are, well, nice, but neither do a happy monkey make.

Recovery from serious illness can be problematic. There’s all that maintaining a positive attitude bit, and making sure your convalescence comes with a view of trees, and soothing music and all that. And in an effort to engender that very kind of mental space, as well as keeping all those short-sleeved shirts firmly away from my dress-pants and other inspired moves like applying for new jobs and turning all my masturbatory time wasting into constructive exercises such as… er… exercise, I have made the (probably ill-advised) move of ceasing to be such a bibulant. At first glance this probably seems like quite the intelligent way to go about it. Unfortunately, however, along with sobriety comes a proportional increase in one’s mental acuity… a fucking dangerous proposition when surrounded by small-minded bigotry and the sort of meaningless chatter that makes the squawking of a few hens seem like a discussion of quantam mechanics…  It’s enough to leave one in a state of crisis.

What have I done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done? Have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late, that nothing remains but the cry of my hate?image

It’s enough to drive a person to the drink.

And here we are back at the whisky again. It’s a vicious cycle, and vicious cycles, as anyone who’s been living with the same person for any great length of time will understand, are none too easy to break. In fact, one begins to wonder if there’s really any point in trying. Inebriation befuddles, numbs, and yet frays the edges, making for a rather volatile existence, not much good to anyone in the long run. Whisky’s a wonderful friend but a dire companion. Abstemiousness, on the other hand, brings clarity, every detail in sharp relief; it breeds an irascible dissatisfaction.

This is probably a good thing… eventually. In the words of Tyler Durden, “You are not your fucking kakhis!”… um, rather, “Let me never be content.” Let me ever strive for something more fulfilling.

No mean feat, not once you’ve discovered the pleasurable enormity of an 18yr old Talisker, and neither when you’re as impatient a bastard as I am. But as my newfound clarity of mind keeps telling me, you can’t fit an iceberg into your whisky glass. You can, however, have at it with a pick, and the chips you gouge from it’s surface are a great fit… and eventually, without even realising it, you’ll find you’ve chipped your way down to the brilliant blue core of the thing, the reward for all those years of hard work, and positivity and shit.

Mind you, the rest of me keeps replying that “the core of an iceberg doesn’t look so brilliant and blue once it’s exposed, it’s just kind of dirty grey like the everything you’ve stood on in your quest to get to it, and once you do get it, you’ll be dissatisfied, and just have to keep striving for something else… so shut the fuck up… and pass the whisky.”

1 – pube /pjub/ noun 2. Colloquial  a public servant.

2 – sandgroper /sændgroʊpə/ noun 1. Colloquial someone who was born in Western Australia, or who has come to regard it as his or her home.

3 – Note: I refer to use of the word “coon”, not “Coon”, the latter being a brand of Australian cheese – in itself a bit fucking dodgy, assuming the veracity of the story that it is so called due to it originally coming wrapped in black wax. Even if that’s a bullshit story, such branding is tantamount to calling a block of brown-tinged beer cheese “Darky”. It’s just fucking stupid. Or it would be anywhere other than the sort of place that supports the kind of casual racism that ensures the continued popularity of both the capitalised and lower-case versions of the word. At any rate, if the WA Public Service is an indicator of general attitudes (and in my experience, it’s probably not far off the mark) then approximately 25% of the state are in favour of the continued vernacular denigration of Australia’s indigenous population.

Come Again?

There must have been something organic left hidden in the car, some mouldering piece of fruit or half-eaten sandwich beneath the seat, because the air as I climb in is like the underside of the blankets after an all-night summer session at the Cricketers Arms, hot and flatulent.

With the door hanging open in an attempt to decontaminate, I turn the key, desperate also to relieve myself of a serious case of swamp-ass by cranking the A/C as high as it will go. The engine coughs… and dies, a dry, death-bed rattle.

In that moment of power, the radio flares for a second and goes quiet. The ensuing silence is filled with disquiet, an uneasiness spawned by a ripe, sweaty bum crack, by the briefest of broadcasts, by a voice familiar and slightly sinister.

I am put in mind of Maggie Thatcher, a mental image of some indistinct, rusted iron monument looming menacingly over the past. I turn the engine over again, and as it splutters to life, so too the radio, and the voice. I am immediately both relieved and further disturbed.

This is no Thatcher, no faceless, cold creature, no steel voice broadcast from street corners, espousing the virtues of the common good for the select few. No, this is no voice of influence, no lasting testament to severity and lack of compromise. This is Amanda Vanstone, sinister, yes, but in the way of the small-minded, avaricious perjurers who dominate our current political landscape.

And while she ain’t no Thatcher – even her own sense of self importance is no match for the lasting influence of the Iron Lady – she is a voice that belongs in the past.

To be honest I haven’t really thought about Amanda Vanstone since her instrumental days of fucking up the funding of the country’s education system (and other equally laudable activities). There is some small part in the back of my mind, though, that rather hoped that she had long since met a timely end. No such luck. Apparently she’s managed to convince the august overseers of Radio National that she deserves a regular slot. I am dismayed. Almost as dismayed as I am that anyone ever thought she was worthy of election to the senate, let alone of being given a seat on anyone’s Front Bench.

Counterpoint. What a pinnacle of journalistic integrity and objectivity. Speaking of which, I had absolutely no idea who her interviewee Gary Johns was, but having listened to the segment, I am not remotely surprised to have subsequently discovered he’s a regular columnist for that other peak of national journalism, The Australian.

Aside from his frequent opinions, unfortunately given credence by inclusion in afore mentioned newspaper, Johns has apparently been involved in both editing and contributing to a book called Really Dangerous Ideas.

Amanda Vanstone (AV): “It’s a great book because it’s the sort of book that someone who’s very busy can easily use because the essays are … short.”

Fucking winning endorsement that one.

AV: “Take a gold star for the book for starters.”

That’s more like it. Now, if I could only get Amanda to give me a gold star for this blog…

AV: “Now, let’s deal with your contribution, number nine, Abolish the Human Rights Commission.”

Gary Johns (GJ): “Yes, that’s a tad dangerous isn’t it?”

AV: “Well some people might think it is. But why don’t I let you tell us why you think we should do that?”

GJ: “Well I think that all of the hard work, looking after people’s human rights, has been done…”

Bricktop: “In the Quiet Words of the Virgin Mary, Come Again?”

GJ: “…And it was done people like you and, to a lesser extent, me…”

Hang on, Hang on. Just a fucking second here Gary Johns. Let’s for a moment ignore your extensive contribution to human rights, after all, no one has any fucking idea who you are. But Amanda “The Pacific solution has been an outstanding success” Vanstone? What fucking universe do you live in?

GJ: “…that is politicians and ordinary citizens who’re active in seeking equal rights for…” Let’s tick some boxes now Gary: “…women, immigrants, gays…” And everyone else comes under: “…and so on and so forth.

GJ: “Then, the H.R.C. comes along at the end, when it’s all over if you like, and it’s really just a bit of what I call ‘Triumphal Decoration’ at the end.”

GJ: “…there are significant acts of parliament, discrimination acts, which were all put in place in the 80s, and life has moved on…”

Phew! Legislation enacted **dusts off hands**, problem solved.

GJ: “…and those acts can be used to effect through the courts.”

GJ: “Well Graham is the Federal Disabilities Discrimination Commissioner, and a very decent person…” And I’m sure he’s very grateful and relieved to know you think so Gary. “…and took a private action against NSW Railcorp because when he was standing on the station he couldn’t hear the announcements for the trains, and a blind person needs to be able to hear that, I understand that…”

You do? Well, I’m satisfied. As long as you understand a blind man needs to be able to hear shit, we’re all good. Fuck the H.R.C., waste of space.

GJ: “…but he took the action before a Federal Magistrate as a private person and had a win. So he didn’t need to be a Discrimination Commissioner, we don’t need a Discrimination Commission … and others can take such private action.”

Tell that to this guy:

Or, you know, maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe all the hard work you’re talking about has been done since 2005… 2005 was in the 80’s right?

AV: “That begs the question, why do we have the Human Rights Commission if people can in fact, the laws are there, the processes are there for people to achieve these things in their own right?”

Assuming of course, everyone has the money (and the time) to spend untold months traversing the judicial system.

GJ: “Yes there are… and there are plenty of NGOs… that would support such action in a court.”

Which must be a huge relief for, I don’t know, young French women on Melbourne buses?

AV: “You make the point that the H.R.C. is like a lot of bureaucracies, that is they engage in ‘mission creep’ … adding commissioners all the time, finding something else to be upset about.”

GJ: “I don’t know why there’s a Race Commissioner, and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner. Presumably one would have done.”

Maybe because there’s a difference between this:

And this:

The Aboriginal Memes page is not hate speech, according to Facebook.

And they need to be dealt with differently, with different understanding of the different problems, and the different cultures, and, anyway, it takes more than one guy to change the attitudes of an entire country. Attitudes that, evidenced by you two clowns, clearly fucking need changing.

Not that things are looking like they’re actually going to change any time soon, what with Tony “Budgerigar’s Nightmare” Abbott (who’s set to start running the fucking place come September) and his mission to repeal laws prohibiting statements that offend people on racial or ethnic grounds.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for telling people to harden the fuck up, and take their testicles out of their handbags, but you know, there’s a time, and place, and a way to do it… which generally doesn’t involve removing hard-won legislative protections.

GJ: “But what annoys me most is that the Commission lobbies. It lobbies Government for resources…” And now we get to the crux of it. “…look they cost us thirty two million dollars a year … but, you know, we have a Government that’s world ranked in terms of waste, so thirty two million, hey…”

Bill Hicks: “Quit putting a godamm dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!”

GJ: “…but, if you have a look at the staff of the Commission, they proudly boast that women comprise 73% of the staff of the Commission. Now, that suggests to me that these are true believers, not analysts…”

What?

AV: “They’d be a bit upset, I think, if the 73% was male.”

Um…

GJ: “They would indeed, so I think there’s some pushing and plugging going on there. But let’s go back to the real world, not the Discrimination Commission.”

Excuse me while I find where the fuck I dropped my jaw… Found it! It was back when in the realm of reason…

GJ: “Now, since WW2, women have entered the workforce in larger numbers, and that will continue. And one of the reasons for this is quite simple: women produce children over a smaller percentage of their life now. They are living longer. Now… in fact, I’ve got a little figure here: time devoted to raising and caring for children could be as little as ten percent of a woman’s life. So it doesn’t consume her whole life. A woman is out there looking for other things to do. That alone drives women to demand equal rights in the workplace and elsewhere. And that’s been going on for 30, 40, 50 years, in a serious way. I don’t think we need a Sex Discrimination Commissioner to tell us that.”

Now… in fact, I’ve got a little figure here: “the largest gap in personal wealth between men and women [in Australia] is within the finance and insurance sector ($330,600 versus $88,500) where many women work. By contrast, there exists only a small differential in the construction industry ($63,500 versus $62,700) where few women work. In other industries where many women work, there are large wealth gaps: for example, in health and community services ($174,000 versus $68,000) and retail trade ($84,000 versus $34,000).”1

AV: “Well I can’t think of any people who regard themselves as part of a women’s movement, who think that their being and their thinking processes and their energy towards that, comes from the existence of a H.R.C..”

Methinks we could safely end that statement at “women’s movement”.

GJ: “The Commissioners could hang up their spectacles tomorrow, and the world would get on in a less discriminatory way.”

Indeed:

AV: “You’ve raised some interesting figures about Aboriginal Australians…”

GJ: “…The key to Aboriginal success is integration … where an Aboriginal person, if you like, lives in a viable labour market … and where they mix and match, go to school, are well trained, they get work just about, not quite as much, just about the same as anyone else. Which blows away the whole myth that Aborigines are so different, and culturally distinct, blah blah blah blah. They may well be, but if they go to school, stick at it, get a job, get married [to a non-Aboriginal person2], they pay their taxes.”

Shit. I seem to have lost my jaw again…

AV: “What you’re basically saying, is, if we look at the underlying, real causes of change, we won’t find it’s the H.R.C. at all, and what we’ll see them doing is engaging in after the fact proselytising.”

GJ: “Absolutely. Nicely summed up. They remind us of the victories that have been won. By migrants, by women, by aborigines… We’ve gone thorugh, we Australians, have gone through an enormous cultural change since WW2. We just don’t need Discrimination Commissioners to tell us that.”

Colour me fucking stupid, but I was under the impression that we still have a bloody long way to go… and that we absolutely need to be reminded about that.

AV: “We don’t need someone to remind us about it every day.”

Yes. Yes we do.

GJ: “We got to be a big liberal democracy through who we are, and a Discrimination Commission reminds us, perhaps, of who we were … They’re oudated, and like any good bureaucracy, they make work, they keep themselves busy, and they try and dream up ever more remote ways in which they can keep themselves relevant.”

AV: “I have to say it doesn’t really seem such a dangerous idea to me, it seems a damn good idea.”

As is the discussion of the Prime Minister’s wardrobe, not to mention her marital status… and draping ourselves in red, white and blue Anglo iconography every 26th of January… and working for a guy who uses the word coon (and he ain’t fucken talking about cheese)… and “so on and so forth”… all damn good ideas.

There’s dangerous ideas, Gary Johns, and there’s dangerous ideas. The former, (such as Isreal Is An Apartheid StateAll Australians Are RacistAnzac Day: Best We ForgetThe End Of Growth, or Let Banks Fail3) are perhaps worth discussing, the latter (such as Abolish the Human Rights Commission, or Let’s Give Gary Johns and Amanda Vanstone a Public Platform From Which to Air Their Ignorant, Small-Minded Bigotry) are not.

1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap_in_Australia

2 – Gary Johns, Counterpoint, Monday 15th April, 2013.

3 – http://webarchive.sydneyoperahouse.com/fodi/

No Thank You Turkish…

So, here’s a little tidbit, entitled as above, that I came across when cleaning out some of my digital crap this morning. It was from sometime in January 2011, or at least I can only surmise by my apparent recent arrival in Bumblefuck.

In my current mood I should be sitting here drinking hot, bitter tea, thick and black to boot. But instead, I’m having what the Scotland St Massif would refer to as a wet one. In fact, it’s a very wet one, with double the usual ration of sugar that I have of late become accustomed to, and don’t be shy with the milk either. It is hot though, and along with the lack of breeze in the house, and the ire with which I am viewing the world, it doesn’t make for the most comfortable experience of a balmy summer evening in Perth.

This was supposed to be a discussion, alright, a fucking monologue (as usual) about the Armed Forces – or if you prefer the Defence Forces, which you shouldn’t by the way, because let’s face it, they do fuck all defending anymore… ok, well, if they’re a nice, internationally sanctioned, religiously & ideologically acceptable body of troops, well, then they do fuck all defending unless someone happens to fight back a bit more than anticipated – and more the fool them. If, on the other hand it happens to be a body of freedom fighters – sorry, sorry, terrorists, and they don’t fight for their freedom, they fight against ours… um… well, as I was saying, this ain’t about the Armed Forces. More on that next time… unless I get distracted… again.

Instead, I’d like to have a word about furniture, and the location and relocation thereof. See I’m sitting here, drinking my tea, adding to the sweat – I know right, what am I thinking? – that has been pretty much ever present all day… or in fact, for that last eighteen days. Yes, in fact, since I moved to Westralia.

You know, pursuant to my previous commentary on the West Australian State of Perspiration, I might have been altogether wrong about the abandonment of clothing. See, if you lose the shirt then yes, you do get slightly greater benefits from the breeze etc, but what I am discovering is that you actually end up feeling worse. If you sweat this much inside a shirt, the shirt absorbs it. Stinks like fuck by the end of the day, but that’s about the end of it – well, apart from the massive increase to the frequency of the laundry cycle. If, on the other hand, you spend the day sweating away in glorious semi-nudity, the sweat dries on you in those brief moments (and they are brief) it has a chance to, like when you duck into the sickeningly large carbon footprint of the air-conditioned Coles – which, by the way, they are not too happy with you doing without a shirt on. And subsequently next time you sweat, you’re not only sweating through the gummy layer of your earlier perspiration, you are adding to said layer…

Anyway, digressions and all that. Back to the furniture.

Furniture? Well, I’m stumped. I have absolutely no fucking idea what I was on about… though judging by the title, and the ensuing comment regarding the fact I shouldn’t have been drinking my tea with sugar in it, I can only surmise I was leading up to something to do with the fact that:

BrickTopSweetEnough1

And next time, back to our (ir)regular programming…

…aaand we’re back.

“Nah, it’s beyond improvement…”

Thus continues a lengthening history of disparaging commentary about the country of my birth. It’s perhaps a little unfair. If the continuation of the above quoted dialogue is anything to go by, “the whole world envies our ‘paradise’ in the southern ocean”. And it is, I suppose, a bit of a paradise, or at least bits of it are. Certainly that’s the idea everyone gets when you arrive in Edinburgh, standing out like David Hasselhoff, a bronzed god of the beach, amid a forest of translucent, pale-blue skin. The impression, of course, isn’t hurt any by your arrival heralding the start of several days of the first sunshine they’ve seen in months.

And everyone is envious. In fact I’m envious. But where they’re desperate for some of our ‘paradise’, I can’t get enough of the cold, crisp air, the cozy warmth of indoors, the feeling of being comfortable wearing jeans, for the first time since… well I can’t fucking remember when. And naturally, let’s not forget the beer, too dark and smoky and full of hoppy goodness to be stomached in paradise.

Joker IPA2

None of this is, of course, much surprising, not merely because I incessantly repeat myself, but because we’re a generally dissatisfied species really, obsessed with the greenness of everyone else’s fucking grass, and victimised by rampant nostalgia. It’s a cruel irony, that having spent years living in Scotland, and subjecting everyone around me to endless diatribes about the lack of summer sun, about longing for a swim in the ocean, about the entrenched class system: a gradually building monologue, culminating in a litany of praise for the antipodean paradise from whence I came, that my eventual return to the homeland winds up with me living in the country’s fucking nanny state, a wasteland of conservatism, authoritarian propaganda and greed, fuelled, like so many other narrow-minded places in the world, by a climate too bloody hot to be fit for human occupation.

The place is the literal and climatic polar opposite of Scotland, and I find myself spending my days here subjecting those around me to endless diatribes about the brutal summer sun, about the lack of a decent winter, the archaic racialist attitudes… you know where this is headed…

I am, I have come to realise, obsessed with place, with environments, and with my place in them. What I have also come to realise, is that I’m no longer so sure I have a place. My body has grown intolerant of the heat I used to revel in, and my heart no longer knows where the fuck it is.

I am so far removed these days from “home”, from the family emplacement in Sydney, that it has become like New Jersey, the home of the in-laws, a place I don’t live but visit, a place I go on holiday, where I no longer understand life, where I don’t belong. Part of it is the lengthy separation to be sure, which breeds that nostalgia I was talking about.
The thing about nostalgia though, is that reality never measures up; it can’t possibly measure up, because memories aren’t to be trusted, the truth in our heads is a fucking lie. It’s like the longing for a past lover, for the glow of their crooked-toothed smile, for those lazy afternoons lying around making love. Only, once you’ve gone and fucked them again, you remember that the conversation is about as enticing as a day-old bowl of porridge, that they never shut up, not for two seconds, so you can get an “I have to go now” in edgeways, and now your fucking trapped aren’t you?

Similarly the desire to go home after years of living away, only to find that not only had you forgotten the things that you didn’t like to begin with, but that the place has changed for the worse while you’ve been gone, that some of your friends no longer give a fuck, or think of you as “some guy I haven’t seen in years, who leaves inane comments on my Facebook posts”, and the place has been overrun by fucking hipsters. Hipsters everywhere, and the only place in your local you’re cool enough for is the three stools in the corner where you sit with the other guys who remember the place like it used to be. And the bogans. Where they always here? Is this another trick of your unreliable recollections? Were there always so many little rednecks running around called called Dustee and Shontell and La-a (read Ladasha by the way).

And it’s your own fault, because you refused to take heed of the fact that the constant babbling inanities is why they were a past lover to begin with; and a month before you went home you went to a Powderfinger gig full of shirtless dickheads draped in Australian flags who hadn’t quite cottoned on to the fact that they didn’t need to establish their Arsetralianness because no one else in their right mind would go to a bloody Powderfinger gig… but you went home anyway. And it wasn’t quite so good as you thought it was going to be.

So this current bout of longing to get the fuck out of here, to go back to Edinburgh, should be taken with a grain of salt, should be well considered, and long thought out. Certainly the separation from The East Coast Massif, who despite being less a part of life these days, by virtue of geographical detachment, are still a part of life, somewhere – has a lot to do with the yearning to go. No doubt if I still resided in Sydney, I’d have slotted back into the rhythms of life there, and re-learnt all the back ways, the paths one takes to keep the fuck away from guys with moustaches riding fixies, or the scary women with mullets scraping the speed bumps in their lowered, metallic green Holden utes. And maybe the continued development of life with the people there would have returned the place to a feeling of relevance. As it stands, the only relevance Sydney has are the loved ones I wish I got to see more… but they could be here and that would be fine…

Who the fuck am I kidding? Here?

They could be in Edinburgh, and that would be… actually, that would be pretty much about as good as it gets.

I thought this was all about place. But maybe it’s actually about the people. And perhaps the maelstrom of fun and love that is the Edinburgh family are more relevant these days. By virtue of temporal proximity to the person I am become? By virtue of the fact that none of them are actually from Edinburgh?

2013-02-27 21.19.03

I don’t know, that’s about all my puny brain can make of the whole scenario. I’ll get back you to once I’ve sobered up… and found a new job… and finished that fucking novel…

“Hang on, which novel?”

“Precisely.”

Fuck smiley glad-hands with hidden agendas.

Seated comfortably in my bunker of pint glasses, paella, and the aroma of hops, I give little thought to my compatriots beyond the task at hand: winning the Tuesday night quiz. In the long tradition of combatants during battle, I’m concerned about the enemy, and shooting them down, not about the possibility of friendly fire—which, by the way, isn’t.

As many years ago—when I was taken completely unawares by a paintball, point blank in the back by a member of my own squad—I am caught by surprise when, during a momentary lull in the general hostilities, a casual shot comes across the table from within the huddle of the Allies.

I instinctively hunker down behind the metaphorical sandbags to examine the wound … or, at least, examine if there is a wound. I sip my beer, one eyebrow arched wryly, and try to determine if I should be leaping across the table to step on the perpetrator’s neck and to hell with the Allies. He blinks at me benignly. Perhaps I overreact. I have a history of doing so after all. In fact, my defensiveness is so well developed, I could have personally held back the Siege of Leningrad.

But then comes the crack of another shot. Taking me unawares from the side, as I stare across the table. The missile finds its mark.

The whole sequence, in real time, runs thus:

“So, Gethin, I’m friends with you on Facebook.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re quite the negative poster.”

Arched eyebrow.

“My advice,” from the flank, “when he’s angry at the world, is to ignore him. I do.”

This is the funny—as in slightly fucking pathetic—thing about being naturally a defensive little bastard. For any normal, well-adjusted shaven ape, this exchange would be met with nothing more than amusement and perhaps a quick-witted rejoinder. Not me. Now, I’d be lying if I described myself as quick-witted. Witted, yes, but not quick. Thus I write, where I can crawl my agonising way to something vaguely amusing, and otherwise try to keep my mouth shut—something I often fail to achieve … but not this time.

Being quite the talent at telling someone to go fuck themselves, coupled with a generally unsuccessful air of reticence, while satisfying, is not particularly conducive to the ongoing structural integrity of bridges. So I managed to shut the fuck up, for a change. But there’s nowhere like a dugout, when you’re trying to be quiet and not get sniped, to get one’s think on. Which I did. For a couple of days in fact. Maybe even longer.

The whole exchange, or rather my reaction to it I realised, comes down to not wanting to come across as an angry, negative fuck, but also not wanting to keep my mouth shut and let things go that fucking well ought to be mentioned, discussed, debated, even just shouted about. And there’s a lot of those things about. The world’s in an increasingly fucked up state, and it’s fundamentally the result of wilfully ignorant, greedy and inconsiderate people…

Look, the point was not to get into having a rant here, but rather, to examine the legitimacy, indeed the necessity of rants in general.

It’s easy to look at Farcebook posts and Twatter feeds and think jeez, what an angry fucker. And perhaps you wouldn’t be wrong. But there’s a noticeable gulf between being pissed off at rampant ignorance, inequality, and bigotry, at political, economic and media structures that are rife with underhanded dealing and outright lies, and being a generally angry, negative human being.

Cynicism and acrimony are not the same thing.

Having said that, there’s a point to be made that my online existence is possibly bereft of niceties, like kittens, and rainbows, and kittens on fucking rainbows, and statements about how blessed is this life and all that…

image

On the other hand, there’s enormous numbers of people on this planet whose lives are not blessed, and there’s plenty of people’s whose live are, and who don’t give a flying fuck… about how easy they have it, or how easy everyone else doesn’t have it. And that needs to be fucking spoken about.

And, yes, as with the kittens, there’s a point to be made about making greater use of my time and talents(?), and being a little more focused, and a lot more thoughtful, and infinitely more creative with my mouthing off.

You might also point out that I could be out in the world making a difference, to which I can only say:

1)       I am Australian, and therefore genetically predisposed to apathy. And,

2)       I am a writer, it’s how I interact with the world. (And if my wife is to be believed—and she usually is—It’s better this way). Also, I’m not a bloody journo, so you’re not going to see well referenced, analytical indictments of this guy, or that woman, or this issue, or that fucking problem.

You’ll get a bunch of lines—hopefully amusing, and maybe thought-provoking—and enough respect for your intelligence to assume you’ll read between them.

“Don’t just call me pessimist, try and read between the lines. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t welcome any change.”      

                                                                                                                                                                                           — Rev. M. James Keenan.
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