The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

What a Wonderful World

So the war has finally started, and I have the urge to purchase a bottle of malt whiskey and a nice soft blanket, and spend some time curled up in a ball.

Leaving the more intelligent analysis of the situation to Doug and Beth, and on the principle that in times of trouble, opportunities to laugh should be seized with both hands, I bring you the news that America decided to attack Iraq because Bush was scared Saddam would figure out how to utilise technology from a crashed alien spaceship.

It seems that a UFO crashed in Iraq in 1998. Since then top American secret agents have been worried that Iraq will reverse engineer the alien technology to build their own spaceships and weapons. But apparently not very many of them have been worried since you need MK Ultra clearance to be told about alien technology, and not even the President has that. George Bush junior only knows because his daddy used to be head of the CIA. Nonetheless UFO watcher ‘Bre’ in Wellington knows all about it.

Hell, it’s almost as convincing an argument as any other I have heard for war.

And as if the world was not already a frightening enough place, it seems that Pauline Hanson chose the first day of war to start recording an album.

For her first step into the world of music stardom, she chose to cover the classic What a Wonderful World. I have heard this song performed with beautiful depth of emotion by two great artists – Louis Armstrong, and Rowlf, the piano-playing dog from The Muppets. Why couldn’t she choose something else? Redneck Wonderland, for example.

In a move of almost unimaginable cruelty, Hanson urged voters to keep her in politics rather than pursuing a full-time singing career. What kind of a sick choice is that? Vote for me or I’ll keep singing. The Australian reports that Hanson ‘missed the start, was hopelessly out of tune and didn’t get within cooee of the high notes’. It was, in her words, ‘worse than when I gave my immigration policy speech’.

I was trying to decide whether the woman would do more damage in politics or music. At first I thought politics was the clear winner, but then I wasn’t so sure. After all she wasn’t in any danger of running the country, instead she was spreading hatred and misery throughout the land. And the problem is she could do the same thing by singing. Ultimately though, I still think she is more dangerous in politics. She gets more publicity that way. And while she may get media coverage of the fact that she is singing, by the sounds of it not many outlets will be rushing out to play the recording itself.

We live in hope.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

I had lunch today at a major shopping mall near my office. Outside the entrance was a round-cheeked, white-haired old man who was attracting the attention of passers-by. He looked like someone who gets called Poppa by his grandkids. The sort of old boy who plays 'got your nose' with young children, and likes nothing better than when his wife Betty hands him a cuppa and a freshly baked scone. If you had to guess what he was doing outside a shopping mall, you would think it was selling Legacy badges, or collecting for the Salvation Army. Actually what he was doing was waving a hand-painted sign reading 'America: Greatest Terrorist Threat', and handing out pamphlets for an anti-war demonstration.

Go Poppa!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Things that make you go ???

This Saturday I am finally getting around to having my hair cut. Once upon a time I had hair past my waist, now it clears my collar, or at least it does when I haven’t left it too long since my last haircut. Having short hair is convenient in most ways, except that when you need a haircut it is really obvious. So I experienced real trauma when I rang up to make an appointment, only to be told that my usual hairdresser no longer works weekends. How selfish is that! I need stability in my life. I need someone who doesn’t feel compelled to put twelve different products in my hair and pressure me to buy them all. I need someone who provides decent coffee and biscuits. Conversely, the trust you build with your hairdresser means there is always that guilt when you try going somewhere different – I’m sorry, I felt vulnerable, I had split ends, she didn’t mean anything, honestly! So now my relationship with my hairdresser is over, I think I feel ready to move on, meet someone new, someone who will understand the needs of my hair. Hopefully this will be one type of relationship I actually manage successfully.

Because I felt the need to be educated this morning, I decided to check out the New Scientist website, something I haven’t done for a while. There is a great section where you can write in niggling little scientific questions like Why is snot green? and Could a blind chameleon still change colour?

Did you know that the reason you rub your eyes when you are sleepy is that it stimulates the vagus nerve, which slows your heartbeat. Apparently this technique is also used in martial arts, massage, hypnotism, and disabling violent prisoners or patients. Interesting theory as a martial arts technique, but I think if I ever get into a fight I would just poke them in the eye instead.

And the What The? for the day is the news that a documentary has named David Beckham as Britain's most famous black man. Apparently Britain doesn’t have any black superstars, in a Michael Jordan kind of a way, they have Beckham instead.

Obvious, really, when you think about it.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Read my T-shirt

T-shirts have always been a popular canvas on which to express political opinion. Some messages, like I love Kylie Minogue come and go. Others, like Peace or Make Love Not War stay around forever. It probably says something sad that we still need to be chanting and waving (or wearing) this sort of thing.

Slogan T-shirts as political expression seem to be big news at the moment. There was the lawyer in the US arrested by shopping mall security guards after refusing to remove an anti-war shirt he bought at the mall. Charges were eventually dropped. An American teenager was asked to cover up his Who Would Jesus Bomb shirt while his school principal determined whether or not the boy’s free speech was infringing anyone else’s rights. Another high school kid was sent home for his Bush: International Terrorist shirt. (The thing that amused me about that story was that school administrators justified this by referring to a Supreme Court ruling on free speech. The student, obviously a credit to his school, pointed out they were quoting the dissenting opinion, and that the majority ruling actually supported his right of free speech.) And in Australia, visitors to Parliament House were asked to leave due to a ban on wearing political slogans in the building. (Thanks Doug, the hive-mind strikes again).

These days, political T-shirts are not just hand-written or home screen-printed personal expressions. Often they are produced in bulk and make a lot of profit. Unfortunately, when political statement becomes a fashion accessory it can lose its meaning and become a logo, rather like wearing something emblazoned with ‘Calvin Klein’. I’d wager that a significant percentage of people wearing Che Guevara T-shirts couldn’t tell you what he fought for. Poor bastard is even selling Magnums now. (Actually they taste pretty good. I like them better than the Candy Warhol, but something tells me that Warhol would probably be more amused at the idea of selling ice-cream than Che).

On which theme, The Age ran a story on the weekend about ‘Monty’, an Australian designer selling ‘edgy’ topical Ts for anything up to $160 a pop. Monty’s upcoming show for Melbourne fashion week is about religious oppression. The problem, Monty opines, is “the lack of integration of male and female energy within a being”. Monty, who is “really into healing”, will be conveying this message to the world via the medium of a ‘rap opera’. And a montage of Queen songs. And fashion, naturally. Still, you have to admire the clarity of thought involved in, apparently, being able to screen print ALL your philosophies onto T-shirts. You would think they wouldn’t fit.

The Age's writer asked what difference a slogan T-shirt actually makes, but to me that’s not the point. No one thinks that wearing a No HoWARd T-shirt will actually change anyone’s mind about Iraq. But a political T-shirt is a way to make a personal public stand, a small cry of protest. And then sometimes millions of people around the world make the same cry.