The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Nah Bro, I’m a New Zealander eh

In these troubling times, with US citizens being told to prepare for the possibility of chemical and biological warfare with the aid of a roll of duct tape, a plastic shower curtain and a bar of soap, and Australians being told to prepare for terrorist attack with the aid of a fridge magnet, I thought it would be refreshing to take a glance across the Tasman at what our neighbours are saying.

Well, in a statement on 11 February, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke’s remarks included:
- “We do not support unilateral action against Iraq."
- New Zealand was seeking to uphold the principles of multilateralism, the international rule of law and the authority of the United Nations Security Council.
- If armed intervention was sanctioned by the Security Council, New Zealand would consider offering humanitarian, medical or logistical support, probably after the conflict had ended.

How cool is that? Apparently Iraq is just really not much of an issue for New Zealanders, apart from wondering what a bunch of other mad bastards are planning to do to each other.

I’m totally a fan of New Zealand right now. Not only does New Zealand have a female Prime Minister, a female Governor General, and a female Chief Justice, they also have the world’s first transsexual MP (The Hon. Georgina Beyer, a Maori ex-sex worker voted in by a largely white, rural electorate) and a Rastafarian MP. They care about the environment. They are nice to refugees. They make good wine. They got really, really excited about The Lord of the Rings.

This is a country where last year the Prime Minister said she was far too busy going to a meeting of left-leaning government leaders to be arsed to go back home just because the Queen was visiting, and that anyway it was patently ridiculous that England’s Queen was New Zealand’s Head of State. It was left to The Hon. Georgina to go meet the Queen at the airport instead.

New Zealand is a truly beautiful country (as you can see from my photo link), the people are really friendly (provided you are not arguing about rugby or cricket), unemployment is at 4.9%, and the NZ$ is currently worth A$0.93. The automatic right of residency that Australians have in New Zealand is starting to look really good right now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Old enough to be your daughter

I’ve been thinking about my age a bit lately. Not so much because of my birthday the other day, but more because of an incident the other day when a radio journalist said, no offence, but would it be OK if she interviewed my boss instead. This irritated my current supervisor far more than it personally offended me. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it by now. I was amused by the fact that it was a phone interview – if she was actually in a position to see that I am 5ft tall, freckled and in my mid-twenties, she would really have been disturbed. Anyway, having been in this job for four years now, I tend to forget the fact that I am relatively young, but once in a while something happens which reminds me.

When I first started in this job I was the youngest person in my office by 15 years. Admittedly it is a small office, so that’s probably not statistically significant. I should also note that the fact that I am relatively young has nothing to do with any prodigious talent on my part, and more to do with the fact that, unlike many of my friends, I only did one degree, and didn’t take a year or two off to travel. I am often in meetings or workshops where the average age of participants is roughly 15-20 years older than me, and where many people are quite a bit older than that. I am used to a look of faint amusement on people’s faces as they contemplate my age relative to that of their children.

Most of the time this is not a problem, as once people stop thinking about it and let me get on with the job, they also seem to be able to forget how old I am. Or am not, as the case may be. Some people still have some credibility issues though. Yes, I am quite short. Yes, I have freckles, and dimples. Yes, I am younger than your children. No, I don’t give a shit. Deal with it.

Anyway, I have definitive proof that, whatever some people think, I am getting old. Not because of my birthday, not because of the occasional grey hair, not because my boss told this journalist that conducting interviews was my job and they could deal with it or piss off. No, I am provably old because of the effort it took to get out of bed this morning and go to work, having been convinced last night that staying up late and getting drunk with my currently unemployed housemate was a good idea. I REALLY feel old this morning.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Because I said so

The other day I was having an argument with a friend of mine. By argument, I mean a spirited, loudly defended, but always entirely friendly debate, as opposed to an ‘I hate you, I hate you’ sort of an argument. The actual subject of the argument is unimportant, one of many disagreements we have had over the years, mostly in order to pass the time. And wind each other up. What is important is the fact that, once again, I lost.

Not that he convinced me that he was right and I was wrong, but in the sense that, according to the rules of rational debate, he was way ahead on points. The panel of invisible judges ruled against me.

The problem I always come up against is the fact that he is so much more logical than I am. It is not that I am entirely without logic, or incapable of understanding it. I just don’t happen to think that it is the only valid method of approaching a particular subject. At least not one that concerns people. People contain far too many tangled social and personal histories, knotted neural pathways, and fluctuating waves of chemicals (both natural and artificial) to react entirely logically. You can accept the perfect logic and reason of a situation in one corner of your head, while every other fibre of your being is simultaneously screaming out to start throwing things. Or at least I can. [Hmmm, this may be the core of the problem. This is certainly not disproving our latest argument.]

In a society in which science and reason are the core of the dominant paradigm, it is not too difficult to defeat an emotive or intuitive argument with a logical one, but it is very difficult to defeat a logical argument with emotion or intuition. Because it begins to sound alarmingly like the sort of debate small children have with their parents, which degenerate into ‘because I said so’ or ‘because it just is.’ Or worse, the sort of argument which falls back on ‘because God says so’ or ‘because mercury is in the ascendant this month.’ I would like there to be a valid form of debate that acknowledges the often illogical and impulse driven nature of most human beings. Maybe it is only because, just once, I would like to win. I realise that this is probably buying into some dodgy, overly polarised, artificially competitive, unenlightened worldview. I don’t care. Because if there is one thing he does better than carry out a logical debate, it is gloat. Damn that’s annoying.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

In the beginning . . .

When I was two or three years old my aunt gave me a stuffed toy cow. I named it, with the creative flair of a toddler, Moo Cow. Apparently I was quite obsessed with Moo Cow, and took it everywhere. Those who went to my 21st birthday party will be aware that Moo Cow survives to this day, currently in quiet retirement in a cupboard in my parents’ garage. My obsession with Moo Cow led my older brother to give me the nickname Moo, and as a family nickname it has stuck ever since. [I might say at this point that having tried most of my life to restrict the usage of ‘Moo’ to my immediate family, it seems a bit silly to post it on the Internet. On the other hand, ‘I had a cute childhood nickname’ is hardly going to rate as the most sensitive piece of personal information every revealed online. But I digress.] As a pre-teen I once asked my brother why he had named me Moo. He responded, with the charm of an older brother, something along the lines of “Well, because you’re a cow. And you’re always mooing on about something.” Setting aside the character assassination, he may have had a point. Because some twenty-four years after Moo Cow first entered my life, I have succumbed to the temptation to blog. Why? Because now I have a place where I can moo on about whatever the hell I like. You are welcome to come visit and chew the cud.