Monday, 29 December 2008

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Teaching the Syllabus

I picked up a used copy of Sometimes Gladness by Bruce Dawe at a garage sale over the weekend and have been rediscovering some favourite poems.

This one struck me very differently today than when I first read it, so I thought I'd share.

Teaching the Syllabus

Teaching lions to leap through flaming hoops
Teaching baby elephants to waltz
Teaching dogs on bikes to loop-the-loop
Teaching chimps to undo nuts and bolts.

Teaching doves to pick out painted numbers
Teaching hawks to sing
Teaching bears the latest Latin rhumbas
Seals, the Highland fling

Teaching those with wings to walk up mountains
Teaching those with feet of lead to fly
Tossing coins in intermittent fountains
Calling in the plumber when they're dry

And lastly - when it seems that each performer
Has learnt the lot - to teach them one thing more,
The thing that in the process they've forgotten:
Dogs, to bark again; lions, to roar...

Bruce Dawe

Friday, 4 July 2008

Joss Whedon on Religion

I’ve been meaning to transcribe this for some time, so now that I have I thought I’d post it here for others.


On the Australian DVD for Serenity there is a Q&A session with Joss Whedon recorded in Sydney after a showing of Serenity.

One of the audience members asked:

I’m a big fan, but on the down side I’m also a Christian so I’ve always wanted to ask you, what have you got against me?


Joss replied:

Laugh … this is a very important distinction, it’s not Christianity it’s just you, um, um, I don’t actually have anything against anybody unless their belief precludes everybody else’s.

I am an atheist and an absurditist and have been for many many years. I’ve actually taken a huge amount of flack for that. People who have faith tend to think that people who don’t [have faith], don’t have a belief system and they don’t care if they make fun of them. Its actually very difficult, atheists are, as a group, not really recognized by the American public and as people to be taken seriously. This does not mean that I rail against religion however the meaning of life and the meaning of what we do with our lives is something that’s extremely important to me. I have included characters from many different religions, particularly in this show but also in the other shows as well, because I’m interested in the concept. I think faith is an extraordinary thing, I’d like to have some, but I don’t and that just how that works. So Mal generally speaking in that would be my voice but I don’t think you can discount Book and what he has to say. I think he is an extraordinary compassionate and wise and descent man or wise and decent corpse.


(Speaking to himself) So when did you loose the audience? Well that’s a funny story.


You know there is one other thing I would mention which is from Angel, actually one of the few times that actually I really got to say exactly what I think about the world was in the second season of Angel episode 16. When he had gone all dark, cause he does that and was getting better and he basically decided… the world is meaningless, nothing matters and he said, you know, well then this is my statement “nothing matters, so the only thing that matters is what we do.” Which is what I believe, I believe the only reality is how we treat each other. The morality come from the absence of any grander scheme not from the presence of any grander scheme but then the next thing that somebody says to him is well you know “You burst into my apartment, without being invited which a vampire can’t do, which is like a little miracle” and I just sort of let that hang. I said the thing I believe in most, then I contradicted it right away because ultimately it’s the confluence or the conflict of those ideas that’s actually really interesting.

So the answer [to the original question] is:

Nothing unless you’ve got something against me.


But I hate Buddhists.


Just hate em, no, no


this post is mostly a follow up to this post.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

'Calling it' with Frank, Alan and Chris.

Three baseball umpires were having a beer at Tony’s Bar after a long day at the local ballpark. The first umpire was an older guy named Frank, he had been an umpire since he was a young man in the 1940s. The next umpire was named Alan, he was a bit younger. He had met Frank in the 1960s and despite their age difference they had a common love of the game. It was Frank who had got Alan his first job as an umpire. The third umpire was a young guy in his late 20s named Chris. Chris had stared umpiring last year. He had met Frank and Alan through the game and although they did not have much else in common he still liked coming to Tony’s bar on Saturday night to argue about the finer points of the game.

It was a quite night so when Tony the barman was delivering them a round of drinks he stopped to join in their conversation. The conversation had drifted to an obscure rule about a little known way a player can get ‘out’.

Tony had never been all that knowledgeable about baseball, so he had to ask how many ways there are to get a player out and how it did not get confusing for the umpire.

Frank was first to reply.
“Well, there are five main ways: strikeouts, ground outs, forceouts, flyouts and tag outs and I just call them as they are.” Said Frank.

“I agree with the first part but not the second” said Alan “There definitely is five main ways to get out: strikeout, ground out, forceout, flyout and tag out, however I call them as I see them.

Chris was smiling it was clear he disagreed.

“For sure, the five most common ways to get out are strikeouts, ground outs, forceouts, flyouts and tag outs.” Said Chris “ but guys as I see it, until I call them they aren’t.”

I heard a version of this told to a multi-generational church congregation years ago but could not find it so I wrote my own version.