A new metal texture Offensive to Augustus Rodin’s eyes Forced him to Prematurely age Balzac - the sculpture In a urine treatment His assistants gave.
Not all metal Is so willfully altered. Greyfriars Bobby Has stood in Edinburgh since 1873 The pride of dog lovers. Aged in place Tourists rubbed his bronze nose raw. As a sign of our times a surgical mask Preserves his nostrils Intentionally.
No such care was needed On our gifted stainless steel Carving dish. It’s shot surface Is etched this way By fifty thousand Knife strokes, Out worn Over convivial Sunday roasts.
Vulnerability In general use Other surfaces show. Circling my rotund waist A leather crocodile belt Shines brighter Each year I use it Like the arms of my lounge chair. Together their patina Was earned Embracing me.
I was born in a coastal city yet fish was not a big part of our diet. The number of times we children ate fish was limited. The fish we ate at home was fillets of smoked cod. When mum prepared it she cooked it in a white sauce with some onion. Another common name for this sauce is Mornay Sauce. To the French it is know as Béchamel sauce. Not that the milky substance Mum cooked was anything like a rich Béchamel common to French cooking.
In her case I imagine it’s role was to act as a filler. For, as history tells us, it’s original common name was Glue sauce. Served as it was the sauce disguised the salty fish we were dished. Cooked this way the smoked fillets were boneless and tender. When it came to fish our preference was to eat fillets because served that way bones were eliminated. On a rare, very rare occasion, we ate fish from a Fish and Chip shop.
Fish and chips were the most popular takeaway meals one could buy in the 1950’s. Nearly every town, or hamlet, had a local Fish and Chip shop. The fish was nearly always fried Flake served with a handful of potato chips (three pence worth of chips.) When the family ate this way we possibly had sixpence worth. (Potatoes were most commonly cheap. It was only in times when farmers failed to grow a decent crop the shopkeeper more carefully budgeted the chip amount).
When cooked, the Chipper, would pour the fried food on a single piece of white butcher’s paper and wrap the lot in a bundle of used newspaper. (The newspaper was used as an insulator to keep the meal hot until it was consumed). As soon as we got outside we would tear a hole in one end of the paper and pull the chips from the gaping hole and eat the meal using our fingers aa eating utensils. (When old enough to have money of my own I would sometimes sell a bundle of old newspapers to the shops for a few pennies).
It is surprising in 2020 to note how little we valued the riches of the sea years ago. For instance, as kids walking around the rocks of Lady Bay we had no appreciation the migrant families that picked wild mussels and oysters from the rocks later enjoyed a free gourmet meal. Worse, by the time we appreciated what they had feasted upon it was a banned activity. (Only once have I enjoyed the pleasure of harvesting wild oysters from the sea. This was at an Army Reserves camp in Tasmania around 1970).
In Victoria the Fisheries Department stocked local streams and lakes with trout. In season, and with some childhood luck, we ate Rainbow salmon trout sometimes and lots of wild eels. The eels were easily caught but most difficult to manage when landed. Their writhing slippery skin allowed for a dangerous moment or two before they were bagged. For the boy fisher, who tried to kill and extract the fish hook in the half light of dusk on the grassy edge of a local creek the battle was dangerous. The eel would wrap its body around an arm or leg, and with a hook protruding from its mouth it was also capable of a nasty bite. The fish caught this way was eaten as a trophy but otherwise unappreciated because each had unfamiliar bones that required caution when eating them.
Unusually at our Education Department run hostel, “Hawthorne”, at our final meal before graduation in 1961, we were served what the Army would call a Mess Formal Dinner. The meal started with soup, followed by a course of Crayfish (Australian Rock Lobster.) Our main dish was fillet steak. I have no recollection of what came next. The point is back in 1961 Crayfish was plentiful. It wasn’t cheap but it was plentiful and considered enough of a delicacy to form part of of our final college meal. (Within a few short years crayfish disappeared from Australian tables. The fishing fleets along the southern coast disappeared with them.) (To buy Australian Rock Lobster , in 2020, one competes with the rest of the world and pays what is asked)).
It was not until I became a regular Friday night diner at the Nicholson dinner table, did I regularly eat bony fish. Marie’s choice was Barracouta. This was served as fried steaks with mashed potatoes. The Barracouta (now renamed Australian Snoek) is a tasty fish. Unlike the delicate bones of trout the fish has darning needle thick long bones. Hundreds of them. (It too has almost disappeared from fish mongers. Either it was over fished, or with global warming has moved to colder climes).
All along the south western coast of Victoria it was possible to find a fleet of the wooden Couta boats. Many of these places had no natural harbour, or poor berthing places, (Lorne, Port Campbell, Peterborough, for protection the boats were hauled out of the water at shift’s end and rested high and dry on the pier.)
Over the years I have had my taste palette trained to enjoy the fruit of the sea. An example is octopus. As a school boy a text we read was A Pattern of Islands by A. Grimble. This book tells in great detail how the indigenous people of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands (Kiribati) caught and ate the fish. Grimble an Englishman was appalled how people could eat it. After a couple of trips to Greece I now ask how could they not?
Today many local people attempt to catch fish as their forefathers did and they fail. They fail to catch their local fish because they have been over fished, or the condition of the water has changed and the fish have moved away.
It is a curse of international fishing that schools have been over fished. (Sometime the fishing lines are hundreds of kilometres long. The goal of these fishers might be one variety, yet all varieties of fish are caught. The unwanted fish are released as by-catch corpses thus wasting every other species.)
The ecological problems are many. The oceans are full of indigestible plastics. Fish farms feed confined fish fish meal that requires antibiotics to kill harmful pathogens. Species have been lost and fish is considered the property of every body at the expense anyone living in water indigenous to them. My final word is if we are to continue to enjoy fish as a food we must only take what we can eat – today.
Shepherd across the river You’re hardly having a good time Sing baïlèro lèrô
Shepherd, the meadows are in bloom You should watch your flock on this side Sing baïlèro lèrô
Shepherd, the water divides us And I can’t cross it Sing baïlèro lèrô
I could write an essay on how wonderful it is creatives took the time to capture the folk songs sung in native dialects, or languages, now dead. Canteloube lived for most of his life in France d’auvergne area and in recording these tunes he preserves something lost in the homogenisation of language across the globe.
Many nations understand, almost too late old languages deserve to be preserved. Thank goodness some will survive a little longer.
The garden stake snapped off at the ground the instant the lawn mower grabbed hold of a loose thread of twine hanging from it. The stake had not long been in the ground yet the break was clean across the grain of the hardwood at its base. There it lay motionless beside the silent lawn mower as I contemplated my lack of caution in the moments before.
I had seen the dangling thread and reasoned I was close, but not near enough for it to be caught in the spinning blades. I reasoned as I had on other careless moments. The silence following the noisy break became a loud reminder I was wrong.
Despite the rude break and the instantaneous yank from Mother Earth a worm clung to the rotten timber, and so did a few grains of damp soil. The square sides of the light timber post were flat upon the freshly cut grass waiting for my next move. The worm writhed it’s body toward the shady side resting on the ground.
The bacteria responsible for most of the damage to the wood remained unseen – by design. That is the role of microbes and fungi. They grow unseen in damp soil and silently fulfil their roles as decomposers. They have other important roles In the garden including as soil improvers.
Fungi is slower to rot and invade wood but careful inspection showed the giveaway signs of fungi mycelium, or the white tread like structures of the invading yeast. These microbes had begun their role as soil improvers long before I tore the timber out of the ground.
From my over enthusiastic movement I had created a couple of jobs. My first job was to unwind the twine from around the blades of the lawn mower. I did this with some difficulty yet I was able to remove the treads of rope without resorting to cutting it away. My next job was to replace the broken stake with another to contain the raspberries to their patch. That done I continued to mow the lawn more carefully than I started giving myself time to marvel at the power of these secret friends of the gardener.
either responsible person tallies – due to their evident discoveries
Perhaps the duo who sing in La Boheme
excite you and become your star performers of all time
Perchance your model is a great sage?
Many find, the godlike religious leader becomes such a one.
Builder, artist, rule-maker, and adjudicator
leave legacies we marvel about – something we have done for centuries.
Sing out their names in praise
for most of them exposed something desirable to our kind.
Many who live in pages thus are likely bound to disappoint
we who place them on pedestals, and later discover their ordinary proclivities.
The world is large and – our heroes many –
in delicious irony, remember you are the subject of your biography.
“As members of the human species, we all have at least three separate lives to live. Each of us lives a life in the public arena, however small that world might be, and a private life in our home, with our family and intimate friends. Then there is our secret life – a hidden life, a spiritual life in our world of imagination, of desires and dreams, of spirits, angels and ghosts. This is a world many of us hesitate to explore – a life we are reluctant to share with anybody, even our closest friend and partner. It is a life of shadows.”
Chris Geraghty writing in the essay “Father Greg Walsh paid a heavy price.” Published online in Pearls and Irritations 9 September 2020
Dr Chris Geraghty is a former priest of the archdiocese of Sydney, a retired judge of the District Court of NSW, and the author of a recent publication, Virgins and Jezebels – the Origins of Christian Misogyny.
Obediently We stay indoors Outside rain polishes McAdam - black marble
A virus Keeps us apart Yet these eternal days Will pass
The night Struggles off in grey slothfulness Mourning our horror Of living in lockdown
Too lazy to rise The wind slumbers on Meanwhile upstairs Rainfall drums upon the ceiling
The cow turns her back To this weather No reason to slow her industry Today
Opportunely We have hope Born in apprehension Rain advises
Lost work Uncertain futures Our grim prospect Until
A vaccine To curb the blight Infecting the world Progresses
The shower Reminds us Even as lights blaze in daylight Abundance follows
Our flight instinct is to give into fear
From our intellect is the enabler that gives us the courage of hope. Opportunity is the companion of hope and it is up to us to employ both. The challenge is to fight on gallantly. Be brave! Always be brave.
I have left to chance today’s writing. From a pack of playing cards my plan is to write a paragraph on this theme until and do so until I choose an Ace, at which time I will stop. So you can follow I will give each paragraph the name of the chosen card. Here goes.
Amazon promotes the customers with the best review count. The number of reviews an Amazon account seller shows is not a matter of chance. Amazon measures the products sold agains the number of independent buyers choosing the product. If, as a seller, you sell 100 items you cannot get 200 reviews to boost your chances of selling more because Amazon applies a metric to stop that. But, though the auspices of a wireless show, I heard it is possible to game their system. I think it is so great I will tell you what I heard. Suppose you are selling face masks. Each buyer can send in a review. If you sell 10 to one buyer Amazon allows only one review. However, if you decide to give away products, as a marketing expense, and you give 100 masks to 100 random people Amazon will allow your account to receive 100 reviews and you will move up their list of preferred sellers.
If you haven’t guessed I am writing this essay to highlight data collection. Data is a product big business will aggregate and sell to its advantage. That is why Facebook has successfully ruined the financial model of print media. Print media only survived on “the rivers of gold” of classified advertisements they attracted while ever print succeeded. Facebook, and others, broke that model because when you chose to look at one of their advertisements they use that information to show you a host of other things you might like to complement your first choice. The seller advertises with Facebook because instead of your interest being random, it is specifically addressed to you. Facebook was able to prove the success of its data mining and ruin the businesses unable to compete with its standard.
Would you spend $2 billion and expect an improvement? Our State of Victoria did and it got no benefit. I know this only because of reading about it. Our State has been mute. We were told if our electric meters were changed from being read manually each month by a person, a Meter Reader – a person Employed to walk from house to house and record our electricity usage we would have greater control over our electricity bills. Electricity would be cheaper. In reality the electricity companies now bill us without the cost of paying humans to collect the information. Our bills have gone up because they can accurately measure when we switch on appliances and charge us More because all our neighbours want electricity at the same time we want it.
It is written into legislation companies cannot use information that identifies the individual. In reality that should be a comfort to us but is it? Power companies know when we are out and if we are home they have a very good idea of the appliances we are using and the number of people in the home. We are assured Vector the company that provided our smart meters is audited by the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) and it is audited especially for misuse of the data (so that is alright then). Would this be a good time to tell you Vector is a subsidiary of Amazon? No? I guessed not.
I would like to make it clear I don’t have a specific beef with Amazon but I read I should. As far as I am aware I have not bought anything from Amazon or that other giant, Google. I don’t own a Google Home. I don’t even use Google. (I prefer DuckDuckGo). Oh hang! This is on WordPress- a Google company. I do have a smart TV and this enables me to use Netflix. I am an Apple user but my camera, microphone, and Siri are switched off. I think these are the only appliances I have connected to the internet of things (IOT). The advice is to use a VPN and do all you can to hang on to your privacy in 2020 to save becoming victim to a botnet. Whatever that is.
“The energy industry is really going through this digital transformation,” said Nick Walton, Amazon Web Service’s managing director for commercial sector in New Zealand.”
Amazon? Yes Amazon they who own Vector (that will not share personal data) is collating information from its subsidiary for good (not mine – their) use. Should I be alarmed? According to French philosopher Bernard Stiegler (who died 05/08/2020) we should have know to be alarmed for a long time. This man who lost himself to a higher levels of understanding while exercising, swimming along in water, had been telling us for years capitalism has reached an awful level of soullessness.
“We are not in the third capitalism; we are in a crisis of capitalism, a very bad one, which necessitates the invention of a new capitalism. I don’t believe that there has always been a “cognitive capitalism”.
In this new capitalism the worker has become a unit to be exploited. Amazon certainly demonstrates the worst of this.
(How long have I got before this gamble implodes). Philosophers have warned us about the dangers of this digital age yet we plough on as if there was nothing to worry about. The pandemic has barely begun and the loudest voices are the voices of big business. They want us all to go back to work. Some will die. Perhaps many will die, but without producing things to be consumed – the economy will die, according to those with the loudest voice. I think the economy is dead to us anyway. We are no better off than the peasants of the 17th century. Big business is no better than the robber barons of old. We are mere pawns, units of production, to it (business must be an it – it has no soul, or as Stiegler wrote, no spirit). So much for 6 hearts. I hope for better things.
Jack of Spades.
The French economist Thomas Piketty notes it is false to cling to hope that billionaires create jobs. Even by the most casual of tests there is no evidence they do. The triple down economy neoconservatives promote is false. Yet in 2020 our government is planning to stimulate the economy by giving tax concessions to big business and tax cuts to tax payers. The Prime Minister earns somewhere under $600,000. He will trouser a bonus tax cut of over $11,000. The average worker earns under $60,000 and he, who must spend his cash to survive, will get about $690.
Thomas Piketty says billionaires must be taxed out of existence yet it is our government’s plan to relieve them of the little they contribute to society.
How do you tax billionaires out of existence. I am not a tax lawyer but before they disappear there is a lot of money to be made by those who are. I have read about people who pay their tax accountant $2m to avoid paying any tax, (I do not log as a reference everything I read so I cannot verify my statements any better than, “some bloke said”. However I believe them to be true, just as I believe it to be true we are on the verge of a new paradigm between the worker and the employer. I hope I am right. I hope this new understanding is achieved without bloodshed. (As in a revolution, or a horrible death toll from the pandemic). If this does not come about I anticipate we will see a new class of self employed business people who are unwilling to be exploited by labour hire companies. We will need a new model of government too especially if we are to rid the world of billionaires. None, I see, has the stomach, or the ideology, to make such a move.
Ace of Hearts. Fin.
This paragraph was written after the event. For clarity I have written elsewhere billionaires and monopoly companies have destroyed the balance of capital across the globe. I reckon we should resort to the policies that led to the breakup of monopolies after WW11. Japanese monopolies were forcibly broken apart. Now it is time governments, across the globe, should do the same. Taxing billionaires out of existence may not work but sharemarkets must have the ability to force companies to limit the controlling ownership to businesses therefore limiting the size of an individual’s ownership in any company to, say 5%.
What do you think?
If you have a mind to check my analysis I refer you to read