Thesis Proposal

They are strange creatures. I have studied them for some time, and still find their behaviour inexplicable. Despite almost constantly killing each other in various Skirmishes, battles and wars, anywhere, and at any time, around their planet, they rarely eat each other, even after mating. They don’t even eat their own young, although they can catch them easily.

Their genetic code differs greatly from ours. I have been unable to learn anything from those I have eaten. Thus I must learn from studying their behaviour, a task that seems dauntingly difficult.

They have no claws or ovipositors, but have developed an astonishing array of synthetic weapons with which to attack each other.   So far I have not determined the criteria on which they base their decision to attack, nor on their choice of weapon, which ranges from sharpened objects of various types and hand held projectile throwers, to extremely large mobile devices, having cooperative crews of many individuals and capable of throwing  projectiles and explosive devices over a great distance.

This interesting social construct of cooperative communities is a most alien concept, difficult to grasp. It consists of numbers of individuals, from small groups to large area-wide populations, and of any gender working together to construct habitats and also to craft these various devices with which to attack each other. In some areas, these attacks are ritual in nature, and death rarely results. In other areas whole communities attack and slaughter other communities, with devices designed to make holes in vital organs, or to disintegrate them entirely.

How they learn the skills required without eating each other I have yet to discover.

How individuals decide to cooperate with some, yet attack and destroy other groups, I have been unable to determine. It may involve territoriality. There appears to be some form of genetically coded ritual involved. They may not be able to consciously choose, despite the appearance of rational behaviour on occasion.

A difficult ritual to understand, from my perspective, takes place on designated pathways where individuals or small cooperative groups enter various forms of mobile device and ritually pass each other at high speed, apparently seeking suitable prey. These pathways cover most of the land mass where terrain permits and cross territorial boundaries.

At seemingly random intervals, somewhere along these paths one device will crash into another, or into some feature of the environment. This may result in injury or death of some or all participants. For some reason, survivors rarely attempt to finish off and eat any others still alive. In fact they cooperate to ensure any injured or damaged individuals are taken away to places where they can be repaired.

It is this custom of repairing themselves that I find the most inexplicable of all. After doing their best to kill and maim each other, they then go to great lengths to to repair damaged individual survivors, rather than eat them. Without that, how do they learn from each other?

How the individuals who carry out the repairs are able to restrain themselves from eating those damaged ones needs to be studied further. Perhaps they use some form of inhibitor to suppress the natural cannibal instinct. They may be a separate sub-species genetically primed to repair rather than attack. If their genes have somehow combined with those of the general population, it may explain the strange dichotomy of behaviour planetwide. How it helps with the continuation of the species will take considerable further study. I may be witnessing some new evolution of the Survival Directive.

I shall not return to mate and be eaten until I have incorporated a satisfactory explanation of the above phenomena into my matrix.

Questionnaire


How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.


For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.


What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.


In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.


State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

Wendell Berry

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The Power of Words.

I well understand the power of words. I understand their power to hurt and to soothe.

I know the not-so-subtle difference In meaning and context, for example between Women Being Raped, and Men Raping Women.

Ive been trained in forensic interview techniques. I’ve been lied to, insulted and cursed by the best, in several languages. When this happens, I do almost the same thing I do if I have somehow got myself into a life-threatening or dangerous situation. (I do that now and then. It is part of my nature to see how far I can go).

When I’m insulted, I become calm and analytical. I try to figure out if I am in the wrong, if I deserve the criticism, or whether it is a defence/offence mechanism.

So I was taken aback recently when, after posting an old photo of myself on my bike at Katanning airfield, one of my friends made the comment “Yobbo”.

It seems reasonable enough, one would think. I could be mistaken for a yob.

The comment was surely intended in the humorous vein of friendly joshing we all indulge in. I am sure of it.

So.

I don’t know why I’m so insulted by that comment. Maybe the word is psychologically loaded in my subconscious. Call me a larrikin or a yahoo and I’d probably smile and agree. But yobbo hits a raw nerve somehow. Is there something in my youth or childhood to explain this feeling?

I can’t recall. I have thought about it for a day and still my first instinct is to say “go fuck yourself” or delete the comment. Why? I’m 67 years old, I’ve been successful in at least some of my fields of endeavour, I’ve worked in 7 countries, speak three languages, can say basic phrases or at least “thank you”, “may I have”, and “where is … ?” in another 10. I understand the power of words. Where does this one gain its power over my subconscious?

This is most interesting. It’s like listening to a song that makes you cry, even though it is not the sort you might think would do that. There’s a trigger I don’t recall. Fascinating.

So be aware. “Yobbo”, for some reason I cannot explain is a grave insult to me. As bad as, or even worse than, “climate change denier” , “antivaxxer”, or “creationist”.

Yes. There are songs that make me cry.

A Modest Proposal

At University, so very long ago, we learned about the PTC taste test. We all took test papers home and charted our families’ ability or inability to taste the bitter chemical, which is apparently not found in nature, though the story circulating at the time was that it was derived from horse piss.

PTC stands for phenylthiocarbamide. Also known as phenylthiourea, the chemical structure of PTC resembles toxic alkaloids found in some poisonous plants. The ability to taste it would be an evolutionary advantage. Roughly 25% of the population cannot taste it.

Informally, amongst ourselves, we also discovered there was a small proportion of people who actually liked the taste. Most of us didn’t. I was reminded of this many years later when my younger daughter developed pica, and was prescribed a nasty tasting iron solution to be dispensed only a drop at a time due to its toxicity. I was expecting to have trouble getting her to take it. To me, it tasted Nasty. Very Nasty. On the contrary, she begged for more.

What I am leading up to, is that people are Different. And Different is not necessarily Wrong.

There is a huge difference between liking pineapple on pizza or being gay, and being a paedophilic cannibalistic serial killer. The line is crossed, to my mind, only when someone is harmed.

The problem is that too many people draw the line in ridiculously arbitrary ways. Religion and other erroneous beliefs, such as those held by believers of feng shui and by antivaxxers are only of importance when someone is harmed as a result of those beliefs.

Increasingly, the failure to accept ANY difference of opinion or of lifestyle is becoming a serious problem in society. The line is becoming so blurred that it is now my opinion that it should be firmly placed by law, at the place it should be; where beliefs and practices cause harm to others. Intolerance of racism, paedophilia and homicidal behaviour must be encouraged. Intolerance of sexual identity, the telling of Irish jokes, or belittling those with a fondness for pineapple on pizza should be considered as hate speech and acted upon accordingly.

Isolation

Living out here and doing what I do can mean that if I don’t visit the clinic or the store, or drop by the school or the community office, there may be days on end when any conversations with someone over fifteen are no more than a passing greeting, friendly enquiry into their current state of health, or a probably false response to a reciprocal enquiry regarding my own. Even if I do drop by those places, that may still be the extent of our chats some days.

I used to have one regular visitor; one of the community elders, who would call round for a cup of tea and a chat.  He would use my phone quite frequently to speak to his family.  Then we would talk about the youngsters in the community, the history of the area, the animals and plants of cultural and culinary significance and such things.

We shared recipes and I sometimes shared some of my fried rice, curry, casserole or baking.  He is the only one so far, apart from my old mate Des, to reciprocate in kind.  He brought me a cut of meat now and then; of bullock, kangaroo or goat, or some bones for the dog.

After we became more comfortable with each other he shared some of his family history and his take on the genocidal social experiment that was the Stolen Generation.  I had already heard a lot about that from  Des who was himself forcibly taken from his family and mistreated in a mission until his teens.  The stories still fill me with horror.  Even worse are the tales of the massacres of whole families that took place out here not so far from where I am now.  These are not century old atrocities either.  I am talking about as recently as the 1950s and 60s.  Within living memory.

We are the same age, to the very month. He is just a few days younger than I yet he looks twenty yeras older.   Our life experiences could not have been more different.  We found we had quite a bit in common when we turned to the old organ recital.  We shared the various conditions and ailments affecting and afflicting our aging bodies, and discussed the medications we had been prescribed for them.

He has moved to Perth now, to be closer to the hospital for treatment.  No one visits me at home any more unless it is to borrow the tyre pump or a spanner, request a jump start for a vehicle with a dead battery, or just to humbug me.   “Humbug” is a term describing the action of “borrowing” something you know will never be returned.  Tobacco, drink, money, food …

So being solitary and alone is not at all about being isolated from other people by distance, but more about having no one to converse with.

Which is why I am very lucky to have the voices.

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Lore

It is Lore time.  Or Law time as some will have it.  The time when aboriginal boys become men.  The time for initiation rites.  I was away last year at this time, on leave, then trapped in Halls Creek by the weather.  This year I plan to be trapped here.

There are a lot of new faces in the community, all male.  The women and girls are making themselves scarce.  They are packing up and heading to visit relatives in Halls Creek, or in Warmun or Kununurra, centres where no Lore is practised.  Those remaining stay mostly at home.  There do not seem to be many children about either.

We gardia keep to ourselves and don’t stray near the men’s areas.

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John 8:32

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Starting the year with this resolution, formulated for me by Annie Reneau.

A belief, opinion, or viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration. Period. Refusing to entertain them doesn’t make a person intolerant, it makes them reasonable and intelligent. Tolerating lies is ridiculous and illogical. And if your opinion is based on lies, it is invalid and it should be called out as such.

A viewpoint based on verifiably false claims is not worth my consideration.  Period.”
Especially when that opinion causes or permits harm to others.
With so many opportunities to learn the facts, crosscheck and verify them from independent and expert sources, it takes a particular combination of stupid and cognitive dissonance to continue believing bullshit.
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Even an atheist can quote the book.
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