UNEMPLOYED AGAIN

Why?

Get this: because the business I was working at didn’t pay the “labour hire” (what am I, a stand up paddle board?) company I still technically work for.

My brother put it best, that I was the only one who lost out in that situation. True. The business can just hire other staff directly or through another labour hire company. And the LHC surely has other clients whose payments can cover its bottom line, and/or it could sue the above mentioned business for the unpaid bill.

Which leaves me, poor little worker, forced to go on the ever more futile job hunt when an interview, much less a secure, full-time job, isn’t guaranteed no matter how many applications I make.

I’m sick of this bullshit. I’m going to start volunteering with Orange Sky again (mainly because I know it looks good to potential employers and Centrelink (but also because it’s a productive, positive use of my time)).

Apart from that, the only things I can remember actually enjoying are drinking and smoking, and spending time with my ex. She would apparently prefer to pretend I never existed, and I’m not smoking because my ironically control-addicted mother will only allow me a $50 per week reduction in rent if I stop, and I’m not drinking because I don’t enjoy it much without cigarettes.

So effectively, I have nothing. Nothing that gives me pleasure, that is.

I just lie awake late into the night, missing pretty reasonable, conservative, limited things I’d like to do that are denied me simply because I don’t have a job.

And I think to myself: “I really am sick of it. I really am sick of being, to rich people and big corporations, nothing but something to make them and their beneficiaries more wealthy.”

Isn’t it time for a better system? I’m going to die one day. Why do I have to spend most of my adult life in the meantime wishing the day would come sooner rather than later?

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This is a largely unrelated photo of me after I head-butted a sand-bank while surfing. More relevantly, it’s somewhat symbolic of how I feel every day under the capitalist system – whether I’m working or not.

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Enjoy the View

Most people seem to think of views in terms of being very high and looking out across a lot of land and whatever might be on it or not.

This is the view from my local sports club. (A sports club is where families or people in retirement or verging on it socialise and drink and eat.)

I like looking at this view for the opposite reason than usual – being very low and enjoying things more as I look higher.

At the bottom of the frame is grandstanding and advertising placed not accidentally in front of it.

Then the sports field. Then more branding.

Then you get to the stuff I’m more interested in, such as trees and mountains in the distance and the sky filled with drifting cloud.

Looking at the advertising and the sport field (whether there’s a game on or not) is about as interesting in terms of the view as the floor would be of the vantage point from which I was enjoying a high view of surrounding land.

There’s just so much more going on to me once my eyes reach the trees and higher. It’s funny how no matter what we humans create nature is always capable of being more interesting – especially when the two are juxtaposed.

I hope you enjoy the view us much as I do. It’s not a great photo. But I’m sure you understand what I mean about my sentiments, even if you might not agree with them.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – my take

(Spoilers throughout, and especially toward the end.)

It is above all else a film about conflict. Explicitly, that between the British and the French in the days of sails and cannon and muskets on the high seas of the so-called at the time “far side of the world” (around the south-east and west coasts of South America). More subtly, quieter conflicts rage between science and religion and warfare and nationalism and pride and superstition – the latter of which would these days more exclusively be lumped in with religion, but back then also took on a life of its own at least in the context of, and in this context, seafaring. It is a film epic. But it is also a narrow examination of deeply human characteristics. Down to the expertly and/or innately furrowed brow or knowing look.

I first watched it years ago, two or three times. And at the time nor now could I claim to be an expert on period-specific warfare or naturalism or religion or the simple complexity of the human experience, despite the fact that of course I have been a human for more than three decades. Not to mention the gorgeous music accompanying the film I estimate, rather than research, to be of the baroque. And specifically, at least mostly, originally by Bach. But an expert would not approach the film like I have with every viewing: awe and admiration. They would approach it at best critically, if not necessarily in all respects approvingly. Certainly, it is critically, if not expertly well-reviewed. But it did not perform dramatically well at the box office.

I put this down to the simple, clearly evident premise of the film: a quite obscure, geographically located contest between the British and French, punctuated as perfectly as possible by scientific sojourns around the at the time as yet barely documented world treasure that is the Galapagos. It won a couple of Oscars, from memory, hampered by the concurrent presence of one, perhaps the first, of the Lord of the Rings trilogy films. (In fact on the LOTR actors, Dominique Monaghan, if I’m not mistaken, was on board the British MAC ship (busy boy).) It’s easy for me to assume its understated success went over the heads of too many of the movie-going public for it to instead have been an overwhelming success.

But this is an incorrect assumption, as assumptions always are. In fact it’s not even close, as most assumptions probably are. The film featured as its lead an Australian (and perhaps New Zealand (sometimes it’s hard to recall birthplaces of such people from memory (and I’m endeavouring to conduct this homage purely from recollection))) and also somewhat US popular, thanks to Gladiator, actor: Russell Crowe. And it dealt with a cat-and-mouse game between a British and superior French ship along the east and then west of South America. This would never have played well with such fervent nationalists as are probably the majority of the movie-going US public. It’s a simple, yet in my opinion accurate account for the film’s undeservedly yet unavoidably understated success.

Yet, if we look beyond such commercial concerns (which apparently according to Wikipedia hampered the production of a second film), MAC is a singularly, epically good film. And the reason is, as I stated earlier, its focus on conflict. War is something that has been done literally and innumerably to death and will continue to as war evolves, unfortunately mostly depending on the propaganda purposes of the country (or company?) most concerned with the message to be sent. They’re welcome to it. But what this film does well is it goes far beyond pedestrian notions of nationalism or patriotism or zealotry, and examines the conflict inherent in the human condition and the civilisation it has been striving to progress for some 10 millennia, albeit mostly from a male perspective (if you discount native Brazilian women and toasts to “wives and sweethearts; may they never meet”).

This is where MAC becomes infinitely more interesting than who’s firing or swinging a sword at whom. It is a film about a swirling morass of conflict not unlike the swirling seawater to the stern of the principal ship – which also serves as the somewhat central character. As far as I can recollect MAC is set within the enlightenment era, in which science is slowly displacing religious and otherwise superstition. A character in the film is identified as a Jonah – basically a bad luck charm – and he throws himself overboard holding a cannonball, to his death. And coincidentally winds and rains delivering passage and life, respectively, begin again just in time to avert mutiny shortly after his sacrifice (urged by pressure from the Biblically superstitious crew). The captain, Crowe, wisely rejects posthumously acknowledging him as a Jonah and instead eulogises him as, to be succinct, quite the able seaman lost to circumstantial tragedy. It’s a pivotal moment, in which the dead character is almost resurrected like a secular Christ as a reminder that superstition is at best unhelpful and at worst catastrophic.

The catastrophe of losing one man, let alone many, aboard a warship so far from home port is also neatly punctuated by this incident. Each loss of every man is mourned not just due their humanity or popularity, but to their former purpose aboard the ship. The men – some old, some very young, others in-between – all depend on each other to fulfil their roles whether important or menial. And every loss is a loss indeed; a hamper not just to their dominance over the enemy, but the very chances of survival for every surviving crew member. So even though there is interpersonal conflict on the ship, this is the least of it. Because the survival of the entire crew, and every individual man, is so dependent on the very survival of individual men. The ship, arguably the main character under Crowe’s captainship, becomes a metaphor for human civilisation struggling against its internal membership and external forces – characterised by the French, the weather, and religious interpretation.

The film’s ultimate message is that conflict produces righteous victors. But also that other righteous would – and possibly should – be victors might be sacrificed along the way. The good doctor is a victor. He is shot while seeking to observe an obscure species of bird by a marine attempting to hunt the same bird, in a wonderfully dramatic clash of science versus instinct. And by virtue of this he successfully operates on himself (another metaphor so profound as to be almost too blunt to be a metaphor) on the very island (Galapagos) he was previously denied inspection of due to the hunt for the French. And then! During the very research he was previously denied by said hunt, he observes the nationalistic enemy and must return to the warship empty-handed of most of his specimens barring observations. Curiosity enlightens; conflict destroys.

So with much subterfuge and camouflage (incidentally that the captain observes via a stick insect gathered from the island) the British ship of course conquers its enemy. The dead are given to the waters they served so precariously above. The victors’ history, as with all victors’ histories, is the one portrayed by the film. But a British victory is of course one the modern western world is not hungry for. Perhaps during the late 1800s, this film would have proven both popular and successful as propaganda to the British Empire – if film such as this yet existed. Regardless of the breadth of its audience, it is of course an enlightening film. Science triumphs over superstition and conflict – even as it aids the latter. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World above all else teaches me that with every conflict, personal or worldwide, individual humans and humanity at large grow. Every conflict renders following conflicts less necessary and/or likely and/or destructive. Humans are still battling themselves and each other. But progressively we are fighting less, and cooperating more. The Earth is a ship, and the billions of us will sink, swim, or sail, perhaps one day actoss the universe, together.

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#latecapitalism ups the ante

Just answered my landline phone. I know, I shouldn’t. But I was curious. Straight away it’s weird. I say hello, and there’s background scrambling as if his phone was lying on his desk because he didn’t actually believe anyone was going to be stupid enough to answer.

So anyway, I say hello, and then there was a delay, so I followed up with “how are you?” And then I get a response: “Hello sir how are you?” Good, I reply then again ask him how he is because he didn’t answer me the first time. He says good and thanks for your concern.

I’ll sum up the rest of the conversation. He says someone’s trying to take over my Internet connection. I say that’s not good and is there anything I can do about it. He says go to your router and tell me is there a light flashing or not. I look at it, groan a little at the slight exertion of bending down to get close to see the router. Then I hang up.

It sounds absurd. And I might be wrong. But I’m pretty sure this guy was calling me to tell me someone was trying to gain control of my Internet connection literally so he (or whomever he represents) could try to gain control over it. Why, I’m not really interested in. Where to from here is the question uppermost on my mind, in the wake of the conversation.

If the sharp edge of capitalism has gotten to the point in which it almost blatantly has to be a problem in order to solve the exact problem it is, where else is there to go?

I don’t know. But I suspect it will be very interesting.

Perception 

Don’t let others’ define your truth

Normally I’m loathe to tell people what to

Do

But this is vital

You will never completely understand 

Yourself 

(So stop trying.)

But the idea that

Anyone else 

Can understand you better than yourself 

Is farcical 

But don’t be dismissive 

There is truth to what they say

From their perspective 

However 

Only ever at most

Blend it

With your perception 

Or at least listen

Think 

And sometimes reject 

It’s not that they don’t empathise with you

It’s just that

They don’t know

Neither do you

But you know better

I guarantee it

It’s up to you to

Consider it

Otherwise I would be trying to corrupt your truth with my

Perception 

Which I will uncompromisingly always 

Be loathe to do.

Final (hopefully) Unemployment Reflection

The title says it all (again, hopefully) – I don’t plan on being completely unemployed again. I’m technically under-employed at the moment. Or, I would be, if I wasn’t living with my mum and paying less rent than I otherwise would even for only a room. The three or four hundred dollars I’m earning a week would be barely enough to survive on if I was paying 150 to 250 dollars per week just for a roof over my head and four small walls within to contain my bed. There is a way to gain a low income classification by my federal government to allow me to gain subsidised housing. I would like to do that, but only when I gain full-time work – which if I do at my current workplace still won’t have me earning more than the limit for what’s called the National Rental Affordability Scheme. But I digress.

My immediately previous period of unemployment lasted only a couple of months, after a couple of month stint working at my extended family’s free-range chicken farm (until they got some egg packing machines that rendered me redundant (this was always planned)). I didn’t really expect to be working already. This was concerning, as though I had savings I’d planned a surf trip to Indonesia with a mate for April this year, and I was not convinced my money would last. So I don’t have that to worry about anymore, barring any unforeseen massive hits to my bank account. I have three days’ work per week, now. So the trip should comfortably go ahead as planned. And I should/might be able to gain more hours at my current workplace. Or I’ll just get myself another part-time job. Then I’ll move out of mum’s place again, and get on with life in the sense of being less dependent on a parent.

I’m quite confident I’ll never be long or medium-term unemployed again. This is because I think I’ve figured out the game. And it is just a game. It might not be a game I enjoy, but I have no choice but to play it (as alluded to in a previous blog post). Like I said, I didn’t expect to gain work so soon, as the last time I was unemployed it lasted a good year or two-ish. This time, I did two things different. 1) I took a friend’s advice to remove my education and white collar work experience from my resume. (I’d struggled with this only on the basis that I wanted to keep my original resume. I resolved this by using my first and surname on one, and first, middle and surname on the other.) 2) I started volunteering with a group, Orange Sky, which washes clothes for the homeless – usually in conjunction with a group which feeds them. I applied for a job in industrial laundry, told them on my resume and over the phone that I was volunteering with OS. After that, I was probably a shoo in. So I know in future in order to gain a job I have to manipulate my resume, and volunteer/intern in whatever job I want to get.

You’re probably wondering why I wanted a job in industrial laundry. I didn’t. I don’t want a job at all. As far as I’m concerned (and again this is touched on in the same former post) automation has proceeded to the point in which people should increasingly no longer have to work if they don’t want to. And it will only accelerate. Some people love work. It justifies their existence. Not me. I see work as a compulsory means to an end – survival. Universal basic income (UBI) is a concept in which everyone in a society is paid a basic income they can survive – even purchase various luxuries – on. After which they can earn more money by working, if they so wish. Again, I don’t. Or at least wouldn’t in a full-time sense if UBI existed. Which it doesn’t, yet. So I’m playing the game. And I don’t mean to win (you can’t win, because you’ll one day die; also earning more money generally increases your expenses, anyway). I mean to survive. That’s fine. I’m happy to survive until a better world worked more and more and eventually totally by machines emerges. In the meantime, I’d be happy to be homeless if I could do it without compromising my health and some creature comforts.

But if I want to have a place to call home, with a bed and a kitchen and bathroom and all that good stuff, currently, I have to work (unemployment “benefits” in Australia are at the quite simply criminal nadir of about $250 per week (haven’t been increased in decades, far’s I know)). Also fine. I will work. I’ve figured out how to. You’ve just got to manipulate and outsmart the people seeking employees. Lie, even. Considering the heinous evils that capitalism has committed against this planet’s sentient beings, including humans, I have zero qualms about white lying for survival within the dystopian system (where I can get away with it). I’m willing to play the game and pretend to, if not actually enjoy it. I enjoy living life. Knowing that a better future might be on the horizon, in which humans, again, might, emancipate themselves by finally letting technology take over. Even if I might be too old to enjoy it much by the time it happens. 2045, from what I know. I’ll be in my 60s. What a drag. Though if the technology is advanced enough I might be able to achieve immortality (for at least my mind). Not sure that’s something I even want, but I’ll cross that bridge if it appears across the river dividing humanity from eternity, in my lifetime.

For a blog post about unemployment I haven’t mentioned it much. It was ok, this hopefully last time. I drank less and all but stopped smoking. Of course I’m back into both, now, with zeal. Work! It’ll kill ya 😉

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An Eternal Pillar

My grandfather died four months ago. It’s his birthday today. He was my second grandfather. As mentioned below, I never knew my first. As small in stature as he was larger than life, he enjoyed a cold (what he called) “light” XXXX Gold beer, a chuckle, and to seek and impart wisdom. Goodbye granddad. Thanks for the memories:

(My eulogy.)

Grandma lost her first husband, and Cheryl and mum lost their dad when they were very young. My brother, cousins and I never knew Colin Richmond. I’m sure he was a wonderful man. But we all had my grandad, Jack, for longer than many people have their husbands, fathers or grandfathers. Poetic justice is sometimes positive.

Those years and generations above us provide the foundations beneath us. Sometimes those foundations might be taken from us earlier than we’d like. Other times, they stand seemingly immortal to reassure and reinforce us for generous amounts of time. Inevitably, they wash away into the vast unknown of eternity and leave us increasingly to our own devices. And hopefully to become foundational influences in others’ lives.

This is a part of life. A part of growing up, and older. In which those who came before us leave us with lessons we can use to enrich our and others’ lives. Jack Snellback surely has done this. He taught us the value of a calm demeanour. A wickedly insightful and incisive sense of humour. And a sincere empathy for and interest in those around him. To mention but a few of his virtues.

Rest in peace grandad. I love you. For the man you were. And the example you set for us all.

We May Have Doomed Ourselves

Sitting around, waiting for work to start. This is modern life for me now. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my so-called “down” time. I’ll eat a pleasant meal. Have some drinks. Talk to people who endeavour to understand, empathise with me. (Not sure why so many of them don’t.) But of course I’ve realised recently that really down time is about nothing other than me spending the money I’ve earned, in the context of the dystopian tug-of-war system we’ve all found ourselves in. So it’s hard to enjoy it on every level.

Then there’s work. The other end of the rope. (We’re the rope.) It’s ok. I mean my current job is ok, without going into too much detail. It’s simple. There’s a good atmosphere there. It’s hot as fuck but as long as you stay hydrated it’s fine. It’s the cameras that get me. They’re all throughout the building. So the owners and their agents can monitor us toiling away to build their pyramids via their nightmare rectangles, at their old pyramid at which they’re sipping champagne and drinking babies’ blood or whatever stupid shit the bourgeois get up to these days.

It’s absurd. Ridiculous. It’s a nightmare. And I’m trapped in it. But I’m calm because I know it. I don’t know if my colleagues know it. They’re mostly Maori, by-the-way. There’s nothing wrong with that on its own, of course. But it does deepen my sense of Orwellianism, when I realise that in this particular case some white people who half the time just manage their business by camera have a bunch of dark people propping up their privilege. I mean, phew. They’re probably not calm. They’re probably “grateful” to have a job. It’s literally a shame.

I don’t see any way out of it. I could invest in the stock market. Except I see that system as just a part of the broader shit system that keeps fat rich people hoarding more fat and riches, while everyday there’s less finite wealth for poorer people – even though all things considered things have improved across the board for most, thanks to science, compared to history. So while remaining conscious that there’s no such thing as morality, I am in this context morally reluctant to help a business, that helps entrench poverty, help me. If you understand what I mean. The stock market. Pfffft. It’s nothing but a capitalist video game.

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Capitalism’s biggest flaw is that you have some (not much) choice about what job you do, but no choice to not work – unless you want to live in poverty. (Conveniently, it’s exactly like how most religion blackmails people into believing or expecting punishment after death.) It makes the aforementioned cameras ironic. The whole problem with the current labour “market” (another typically de-humanising term) is that machines are taking over jobs – changing the system from the inside out – yet the system is not changing. Instead you end up with people doing bullshit jobs like public relations or working at job providers – places that basically just babysit and discipline the unemployed, for large profits workers mostly fund through their taxes.

I’m doing a lot of laughing these days, because the absurdity has finally dawned on me. Even though I feel like I could just as easily cry. And that’s the thing, really. I have no choice but to do a job where even if my managers weren’t literally machines they’d be some other cynical thing, in my experience. (As an aside, I once had a manager literally get upset at me because I stuffed up my work in a particular way that interfered with his addiction to loaning company property out to people whose arses he wished to live in. Fucking madness. Or idiocy. Still not sure.) Shit. I could go on.

Why are we doing this to each other? Have we truly become so obsessed with material wealth that we are willing to tolerate – even benefit from – other humans being treated worse than some slaves might have been? The future is coming. The machines are coming. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to phase each other into slavery and have the last slave (the last human left free to slave master the rest of us) hand the keys to a robot who is now our master? Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s a fucking disgusting system we’re living in, and allowing to become worse. And if something’s not done about it we’ll all one day either be crying, laughing, or dead. Very surprisingly soon for some people. And I wouldn’t expect the machines to shed an electric tear.

An Unsolicited Response to Christian Porter’s National Press Club Address

On his Facebook page, which was swiftly deleted, and from which I was blocked – predictably:

First time I’ve ever seen a man fellate himself, his colleagues and his (socio-) economically fascist obsession for an hour.

But I will grudgingly take you seriously with the following retorts (reality checks):

It’s not taxation without representation for a future generation to foot any or all of the tax bill that a previous generation may have been at all responsible for accruing. You’re an elected representative now, and you represent the people who voted you in or not, now. By your logic we could argue that your esteemed colleague Matt Canavan’s obsession with fossil fuels, and particularly those proposed to be mined by a certain foreign company he’s alarmingly cosy with, is also taxation without representation of future generations who are going to have to try and live in the environment he did his best to destroy. Which is of course absurd.

The reason we work and always have since civilisation started about 10 millenia ago is to provide those in arbitrary, inherited positions above us with wealth that puts them ever further above us – whom they despise. You know this. Theoretically, it’s your job to help close the gaps effectively created by this persistent yet doomed system. But no, because you insist and persist in peddling the lie that work is, in the grand scheme of things, about anything other than the reason I’ve listed above.

Imagine my horror but not surprise at hearing the supposed social services minister spruiking corporate tax cuts as a solution to welfare dependency, as if said corporations wouldn’t just sink exactly the sum of said cuts into existing tax loopholes, upper management salaries, shareholder dividends, bribery of politicians, and maybe, grudgingly, probably not, actual tax contributions. But hey, I’m numb (to) if not incognisant of such Orwellianism these days, so moving on. . . .

Your constant indulgences in criticism of your opposition on a platform in which they have no right of reply is as tiresome to me as it is cowardly on your part.

Response to first question: “So perhaps if I answer that this way.”  Is the truth not good enough for you – in response to a question which wondered at which point in reducing the welfare budget you start “hacking at bone” and would you consider raising Newstart and other payments?  No, course not.  Must glaze eyes over for a few seconds and come up with something more palatable, albeit false and misleading.

Again, you’re not the minister for big biz.  You’re the minister for social services.  If you’re going to talk about tax cuts, which really is not your responsibility at all, you should be talking about tax cuts for working single mothers, families, students and even, barely, small business owners.

“Labor voted against it,” he says with orgasmic relish.  See, this feeds into my view that what we don’t actually have is a two, much less multi-party system in this country.  We have one party – the Coalition-Labor Party – that swaps power every few years.

Trust you to refer to the NDIS as a market – in other words a vehicle with which already rich people can invest in stuff that gains them more riches.  Unless I wasn’t paying attention, not one mention of the supposed point of the scheme: to care for and provide opportunity for the disabled.

I’ve heard enough.  I’ve had enough.  You’re a psychopath.  I wish you every possible version of bad luck in your endeavour to destroy the middle class and create nothing but a small group of insanely rich people you serve like Mr Smithers from The Simpsons, and a teeming horde of successfully subjugated dirt poor billions.

 

The (artist once formerly known as) Prince is dead.

During my childhood Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U was a favourite of mine.  At least until I discovered she was bald.  Hey, I was a kid.  And us men, we’re all at least a little superficial.  It probably wasn’t an issue of attraction, anyway.  Guess I just thought women should have hair.  But I digress.  Other than the fact that it’s obviously a wonderful song, I hadn’t since known exactly why I liked it – incidentally completely until a significant long-term relationship of mine recently ended.  But that’s another story.

Then Prince died.  Hadn’t known much about him at all.  Didn’t have a particular interest in his (self-performed) music.  Thought he was a bit of a freak.  Like a less mainstream Michael Jackson.  Still kind of think that.  But I was driving to work one day and heard over the radio that he’d died.  And I cried.  It caught me by surprise, that is, until I discovered that Nothing Compares 2 U was written by him.  It’s like I knew subconsciously that one of my favourite songs from childhood (the other one is Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger) was written by this all but unknown man and my inner-child – and me – wept for his passing.

It was a great weekend, nonetheless.  I’d just won a pretty cool portable Bluetooth speaker made out of an old suitcase, from a beer company that will remain unnamed due to their apparent implicit support for religious groups.  And the Double J digital radio service played Prince all weekend.  So I enthusiastically funnelled him through the speaker for two days.  Now I like most if not all of his songs.  He did record a version of Nothing Compares 2 U according to Spotify, but apparently Sinead’s version came before and cast a large shadow over it, to say the least.

Goodbye, Prince.  You’re missed.  But you did what you needed to.  I’m sure an ocean of purple tears was shed for you.