You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

And so we’re all set to celebrate sixty years of ‘independence’ – however you want to parse the word or ‘semanticize’ it. Two basic definitions are: ‘freedom from dependence or control by another person, organization or state’, and ‘the date or time when a state achieves its political independence’, which, I guess would be the one applicable to what we’re on about here. So great! We’ve been ‘independent’ going on sixty years and I guess we’ve had our share of freedom from political dependence on another state or other states – or have we?

Can any country be truly independent of other states or countries, especially in this day and age when the ‘global village’ is becoming more and more pronounced? Conventional treaties or agreements exist between all states / countries, which create inter-dependence between the parties to the agreements, and although ‘political independence’ may exist at whatever degree and where ever it does in prevailing circumstances, what does it take to be truly ‘politically independent’?

Does it mean that just because elections are held to decide which political organization will run the affairs of the country and which individual will be the head of state, that the country is ‘independent’? The more we think about it, the less meaningful the word ‘independent’ becomes in the context of a country being so.

Just a thought that occurred – what do you think? Java, as usual, goes off on a tangent about it:

Shheeet maan, dere’s no such animal in da nachural world – all organisums be interdependent wit dere environment, odder systems, an sheet like dat. A whole lotta dat symbiosis sheet goin down, hear? All dis odder crap be a whole lotta toro-pupu made to get dose emoshuns goin in dat ‘patriotic’ direcshun – an we be seein where dat be leadin to huh? Independence? Sheet man, like I be sayin – no such animal.

Emily Brontesaurus went to town with her hand in her crotched purse
She smiled at the postman hoping for something in return
But no dice – no letter today no lascivious leer that might have been suggestive
No matter
She passed the grocers down the cobbled path she meandered
Straight on through the stone arch and up the winding steps
To seek solace at the feet of the dowdy madame from Hades
That’s right
Emily was in search of satisfaction but she knew it came at a price
Just like the wisdom she bought from the old crone with the snaggle tooth
And the piety she sold her soul for so she could kneel in the first pew
What’s that?
No it wasn’t in the abbey – it was the coven and she made thirteen
Lucky for some she thought as she took the final step and stood
At the entrance to the petrified rainforest where it rained no more
Just myst
And forms of trees frozen in time no space between the beats – no rhythm
To set the pace in the shadowy spectral haze that faded into who knows where
She stood did Emily Brontesaurus slipped her hand out of that warm comfort
Zone three
Eleanor Rigby was there and Long Tall Sally – and Sally with the red dress on Bowie in drag doing Queen Bitch made her stringy hair stand up as she swayed to the absent rhythm
Inside her head she watched the scenes unfold like a movie in those Grind house dumps
She remembered
Childhood in the countryside all green and soft gentle breezes warm comfort inside
The home was where the heat was so when she couldn’t stand the heat she made her move
And here she was on the threshold of whatever it was that urged her scrawny ass on
To what?
Emily Brontesaurus turned back from the brink and went down those winding steps
Through the stone arch up the cobbled path she passed the grocers and smiled at the grocer
Still no dice, no handout, no lascivious leer that might have been suggestive
Another time

Java’s tripping. What can I say?

I believe it was John Lennon that came up with that play on the word ‘right’ when he published ‘In My Own Write’, a collection of nonsense verse, short stories and other lovely bits and pieces – if you enjoy such stuff, that is. Both Java and yours truly, being the die-hard Lennon freaks we are, just adore his writing, so if this sounds a bit weird, you have a hint on why. Java’s been trying his hand at parodying some of Lennon’s material and also using it as inspiration for his own creations in that genre and I managed to get a peek in – while he wasn’t looking, of course, as he is rather reticent about exposing his attempts. Here’s a couple I managed to pilfer and, in the absence of any ideas for a new post, thought I would put this up before he finds out and the shit hits the fan.

Good Dog Vermin

Bark, growl, he goes, a busy boyo,
Percy’s faithful pal.
Grrrrr, snap, bite the buggers,
Chase them round the bend,
Vice boy, goo dog,
Wag de tail and beg
Clever Vermin, jump for jollies
Because who knows what will become of you when Percy’s gone?

I wondered lonely as a clod

I wondered lonely as a clod,
Wispy, white and fat,
The wind did blow a hurricane,
And that, my friend, was that.

And when I rained upon the ground
The sun came out
And dried me out,
That’s why I can’t be found

A pachygerm in my soup

There was a pachygerm in my soup last night, looking a bit like Oliphant in a swigging puddle. The waiter, when sequestered to identifigure the creach only remarked that it seemingly did the breast stroke, but in slo mo. No mo magic mushy soups from dis joint Ed, I said to me trusty canine as we sprang away from El Diablo and floated up and about dodging silver bullets pinging this way and that as the clan wit da plan made it hard to head homeward.

I guess that should do it for now – and apologies for wasting your time – if we did, that is.

Now that the Galle Literary Festival is over and done with for this time, we have a plethora of posts on the subject, which makes for interesting reading – particularly for such folk like Java and yours truly, who didn’t make the event for one reason or another. Checking out some of the bloggers commenting on the Festival, it seems like the event eliciting the most attention was the one about whether bloggers should be taken seriously – and for good reason of course, as all of us are in that boat. Could it also be assumed that most of us do want to be ‘taken seriously’ – whether we post on ‘serious’ topics or do some ‘off the wall stream of consciousness’ shit?

We posted a couple of pieces on Should bloggers be taken seriously? , and And what about the panels – should they be taken seriously?, well before the Festival got underway, and it seems to us that a lot of the observations and comments resulting from the blogs referred to what the observers considered to be the inadequacy of the panel. At least that’s how Java and I interpreted what we saw on kottu.

David Blacker’s Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #1 Bloggers Take Themselves Way Too Seriously had some extremely incisive observations, among which I thought his statement, “Blogs are to me everything that the blog session at the Galle Lit wasn’t. Stilted, boring, one-sided, and in the end, a waste of time, is not how I would describe the Sri Lankan blogosphere”, said a mouthful. And his suggestion of convening the event in an atmosphere more conducive to being loose and relaxed and ‘letting it all hang out’ – as a lot of us do in our blogging, certainly merits consideration next time around. As Java pointed out:

Sheet maan, wit all dat drinkin, smokin and sheet, even I would’ve hauled ass dere to get down wit dem fellow-bloggers an shoot da sheet.

David’s observation on the makeup of the panel is also pertinent and begs the question we asked in that earlier post And what about the panels – should they be taken seriously? . Apparently this one could not – be taken seriously – that is, according to David and some of the other commenters as well.

Rajpal Abeynaike
’s piece in   Lakbima News was a pretty scathing attack on the entire proceedings, which RD’s Can We Be Taken Seriously? – Part 27 put down to what he considered to be a serious case of sour grapes due to the farcical goings on sometime ago when Abeynaike was caught pilfering posts off kottu and publishing them in Lakbima.

Indi’s post on the subject covered a whole lotta shit and ended up with the analogy (I think) that writing something like he did felt like ‘taking a satisfying dump’ and perhaps that was why ‘blogs are not serious at all’. Get it? We didn’t either!!

There’s a whole load more on the particular panel and subject that needs no further comment, but from the results of the bloggers’ views, it does appear that the event itself had much to be desired in terms of content, venue and participants. And so hopefully, next time around these defects will be rectified and we could look forward to a comfy bar (smoking allowed), a good representation of kottu bloggers (and others too, of course), a panel that perhaps may be ‘voted’ in by the bloggers themselves and reasonable time allowed for cleaning up any of that shit that may hit the fan.

Are we to be taken seriously? I guess in the end (as we postulated in that earlier post) it would depend on the reader.

I keep getting these mails to do with cricket ever since I posted A test of more than cricket a few weeks ago. This one is meant to be a joke, so I do hope you enjoy it, although fans of the Punter may not be quite as amused as the rest of us.

Here goes:

God, known to be a major cricket fan, arranges a meeting with three of the top captains over the years of team Australia and when they finally assemble in front of The Almighty, God asks Donald Bradman:

“What do you believe?”

Donald thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says:”I believe in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in giving. I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my fans.”

God can’t help but see the essential goodness of Bradman, and offers him a seat to his left.

Then God turns to Allan Border and says:”What do you believe?”

Allan says: “I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose, I’ve always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and off the playing fields.”

God is greatly moved by Allan’s sincere eloquence, and he offers him a seat to his right.

Finally, God turns to Ricky Ponting: “And you, Ricky, what do you believe?”

Ricky replies: “I believe you’re in my seat.”

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Some people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Strange that a song from a folk-rock band of the 1960s should be so appropriate for Sri Lanka in the twenty-first century, but there it is – word for word (except for one small change where I took the liberty of adding the word ‘some’ in place of ‘young’ in order for it to be most applicable to our situation). Originally written in 1966 by Steven Stills in response to what he witnessed when the LAPD’s actions against demonstrators in Los Angeles, the song went on to be probably the biggest hit for the folk-rock group Buffalo Springfield in their short-lived career.

Buffalo Springfield
, a group that had some heavyweights in the field of folk-rock, consisted of Steven Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin, who combined to make some memorable music. And although the band was relatively short-lived, it sure helped launch the individual careers of the members.

Steven Stills went on to be a major force when he joined up with David Crosby (formerly of The Byrds) and Graham Nash (formerly of The Hollies), and later added Neil Young to the lineup, making Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – a very popular group of the late 60s and seventies. The band was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Neil Young went on to be a very successful solo artiste and made some memorable music.

Jim Messina and Richie Furay went on to form Poco and later Messina teamed up with Kenny Loggins to form Loggins and Messina.

Dewey Martin tried to keep the name of the band going when he formed The New Buffalo Springfield, but a lawsuit with regard to the use of the name stopped that effort after a short while and he then formed the group Medicine Ball, which didn’t do too much.

Bruce Palmer, after a jam inspired solo album, faded into obscurity and passed away in 2004.

A great band whilst they lasted, Buffalo Springfield was one of those heavyweight groups of the sixties that made memorable music and created a platform for some of the superstars of the era.

For What It’s Worth , the words of the song remain oh so applicable to the present situation in Sri Lanka.

Hey man, what’s that sound? Everybody just look around….

She didn’t care for the attitude – not to mention the games he was obviously neck deep in – and so, after trying to work things out for a while, she just told him to fuck off. It wasn’t even a romantic entanglement – she didn’t think he would be capable of working that bit out for himself – it had more to do with cooperative coexistence – a kind of symbiotic relationship, if you will, that suddenly went haywire.

Shit happens, her friends told her, particularly when dealing with purveyors of the stuff with not much else to do with their time. The recent rains and accompanying gloom did nothing to nudge out that slightest bit of apprehension that niggled in a remote corner of her mind, as she couldn’t stop herself wondering if she had done the right thing. Fuck it, she thought to herself, she didn’t really need all the crap that went with the deal, and could manage very well without any of the attendant bullshit. Mind made up, she banished further contemplation on the subject – and hoped that mind would pay heed.

And it did – for a whole day and a half! And then the mail arrived. It was a long, rambling ‘explanation’, at least that was what he called it. She thought it was another load of crap and pressed ‘delete’. That was at work. When she got back to her pad later that evening, she had a message on her answering machine – a cryptic couplet, that she said was badly composed and quite meaningless to her. The voice was unrecognizable and the accent imprecise and so she wondered if it was meant for someone else and a wrong number had been the cause of the mystery. But if it wasn’t, she wondered, who, of the friends and others that had access to her phone, would waste time messing around like this. Some dude with a penchant for romance and with a strange way of expressing himself? Other possibilities raced through her head until she decided to erase all traces of the message – from her machine, as well as from her head.

She turned on the TV and pressed the mute button so that she couldn’t catch the sound of the old movie that was playing – Humphrey Bogart on a rust-bucket stuck in a river in the middle of some tropical rain forest was making a play for someone that looked like Katherine Hepburn. So she turned on some Bach, a Christmas gift that she had meant to listen to, but hadn’t. She set about tidying up the mess from last night’s wining and dining with friends, shoved part of a pie in the microwave for later and headed for the shower. The steaming jets of water helped to relax and get her back to par – she could hear the phone ring in the bedroom, and let it ring.

She felt great.

Someone who read my post on ‘A test of more than cricket’ sent me this extract from somewhere – no doubt devised with tongue firmly in cheek – that has to do with the Oz view of cricket. Although, having said that, it appears that the Aussie press were harshly critical of Ponting and Co. and of their attitude towards the game and their gamesmanship in general. Anyway, here’s the extract, reproduced as received (except for a couple of typos that were corrected) :

Some of the revised ICC rules for International Cricket in Australia:

(1) Ricky Ponting – (THE TRULY GENUINE CRICKETER OF THE CRICKET ERA AND WHOSE INTEGRITY SHOULD NOT BE DOUBTED) should be considered as the FOURTH UMPIRE. As per the new rules, FOURTH UMPIRE ON-FIELD umpires can seek the assistance of RICKY PONTING even if he is not on the field. This rule is to be made, so that every team should understand the importance of the FOURTH UMPIRE

(2) While AUSTRALIAN TEAM is bowling, If the ball flies anywhere close to the AUSTRALIAN FIELDER (WITHIN 5 meter distance), the batsman is to be considered OUT irrelevant of whether the catch was taken cleanly or grassed. Any decision for further clarification should be sought from the FOURTH UMPIRE. This is made to ensure that the cricket is played with SPORTIVE SPIRIT by all the teams

(3) While BATTING, AUSTRALIAN players will wait for the ON-FIELD UMPIRE decisions only (even if the catch goes to the FIFTH SLIP as the ball might not have touched the bat). Each AUSTRALIAN batsman has to be out FOUR TIMES (minimum) before he can return to the pavilion. In case of THE CRICKETER WITH INTEGRITY, this can be higher

(4) UMPIRES should consider a huge bonus if an AUSTRALIAN player scores a century. Any wrong decisions can be ignored as they will be paid huge bonus and will receive the backing of the AUSTRALIAN team and board

(5) All AUSTRALIAN players are eligible to keep commenting about all players on the field and the OPPONENT TEAM should never comment as they will be spoiling the spirit of the AUSTRALIAN team. Any comments made in any other language are to be considered as RACISM only

(6) MATCH REFEREE decisions will be taken purely on the AUSTRALIAN TEAM MATCH REFEREES are to be given huge bonus if this rule is implemented

(7) NO VISITING TEAM should plan to win in AUSTRALIA. This is to ensure that the sportive spirit of CRICKET is maintained

(8 ) THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: If any bowler gets RICKY PONTING – “THE UNDISPUTED CRICKETER WITH INTEGRITY IN THE GAME OF CRICKET” more than twice in a series, he will be banned for the REST OF THE SERIES. This is to ensure that the best batsman/Captain will be played to break records and create history in the game of CRICKET.

These rules will clarify better to all the teams VISITING AUSTRALIA. Decisions are final and will over ride any decisions taken by any other umpires. Advices only. Player views from the other team’s decisions will not be considered for hearing.

How’s that?

What a test! And not just for the cricketers – the ICC and BCCI are in it up to their necks. The second test between India and Australia ended in bitterness and confusion as allegations of racial abuse were exchanged – first by Andrew Symonds alleging that Harbajan Singh called him a monkey, and later by Anil Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni against Brad Hogg – exactly what the ‘offensive remark’ was I’m not sure.

The first thing that struck both Java and me was how calling someone a monkey could possibly be considered ‘racial’ abuse. For surely monkeys are not generally associated with any particular ethnicity? The second thing was how Mike Proctor could possibly slap a ban on Harbajan Singh for three test matches when no one else heard any abuse. The umpires heard nothing and none of the other players have admitted hearing anything even remotely close to what Symonds alleged. And as this boils down to one man’s word against another’s, how could Proctor make any decision at all? On what grounds? Crazy? Crazy!

The incident then started snowballing into what threatened to be a political incident with India taking umbrage against the decision to ban Singh and also demanding that Steve Buckner be withdrawn from officiating in the third test match due to his horrendous umpiring in the second test. The ICC quickly backed down and re-instated Singh for the next match pending a further inquiry and also withdrew Buckner, whose days are, if not over, certainly numbered. So the next match will go on as scheduled at Perth and the proceedings will make for excellent viewing, what with the simmering righteous indignation on both sides adding no end to the drama of the game itself.

But back to the ‘sledging’ – Australia has pretty much been at the forefront of this sort of gamesmanship – what Steve Waugh famously referred to ‘mental disintegration’. Over the years complaints from individual players have been made, followed by investigations and results and we have all seen some of the cry-babies – old Harbajan not least among them. We think sledging is cool – it adds to the fireworks on occasion and is often pretty rich in humor. There was the incident reported about when Glen McGrath asked Eddo Brandes, pace bowler for Zimbabwe, how come he was so fat. Brandes, apparently without batting the proverbial eye, retorted instantly that it was because every time he fucked her, he would get a biscuit from McGrath’s wife! McGrath was also involved with a West Indian (it may have been Sarwan) who mentioned his wife at a very bad time (she was being treated for cancer) and McGrath threatened to ‘rip his throat out’. There’s more – Kumar Sangakkara let Pollock have it for all to hear and see, and Russell Arnold was never shy to take the sledging back to where it came from. The point is that ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’, but since ethnicity and religion are pretty sensitive topics among most, sledging should not include abuse in these areas.

The question of why Australia behaved like a cry-baby is a bit difficult to comprehend. The big macho champion of sledging, complaining about being called a monkey???!!! What a bunch of ninnies! Much as I admire the brand of cricket they play and their brilliance with bat, ball and strategies, I must say I am disappointed.

Mike Procter? The less said about him – and Steve Buckner – the better! And the ICC? Time for them to take a long, hard look at a whole lot of aspects regarding the game – not least of them, the umpiring!

A good question for the incompatibles contemplating direction – and it could apply on so many levels. Let’s take, for instance, the state of the nation, where the main players among the ‘incompatibles’ would be the Government, the Opposition, and the Tigers – and all the respective individuals that support these protagonists.

The direction the government is heading is towards the total annihilation of the Tigers – or so we are told. And, we are told, that this would effectively end the war and provide an environment conducive to a ‘solution to the ethnic problem’. The Opposition, on the other hand, wants to take the path of ceasing hostilities and finding the ‘solution’ through dialogue and consensus. The Tigers, it would appear, need hostilities to maintain their control over their territory and to prolong the instability in order for them to continue wielding power over the Tamils in the North – as was indicated by their alleged boycott of the electoral process and the ensuing hostilities before the government retaliated in kind. And is this really all that different to what the Government has in mind, as surely there is no other reason (other than the war and defeating the Tigers) for it to be supported by those that do want to keep it in power? Virtually all areas of governance, as far as the Ministries and their Ministers are concerned are, to all intents and purposes, dysfunctional or malfunctioning. The coffers are empty and the rampant corruption, much of it uninvestigated, goes on unabated. Justice in the country, an endangered species for so long, is now on the verge of extinction, as the recent ‘Merv at Rupavahini’ fiasco clearly indicates. Fear can be infectious and abuse of power is part of the ‘..and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ syndrome. So what other reason could there be for supporting an administration that has no more to show for itself than the military option?

Is this gradual breakdown of the economy and of the ‘social contract’ worth the war? Will there be any ‘winners’ when the dust settles? If Prabhakaran is not killed, what would he lose should a ‘solution’ be found? India wants his head, so if peace prevails it would stand to reason that international justice must be served. There are war crimes to be considered as well – although these crimes are by no means one-sided – so it won’t be just the Tigers that would be held accountable should the international wheels of justice keep on turning. The implications are myriad – and not least among them being the money that is being earned from the commercial aspects of prolonging the conflict.

There’s more of the same, and it doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure out whats so rotten in the state. But what do ordinary folk like us do about it?

So the question, ‘Quo Vadis?’persists – in the ancient terminology – ‘whither goest thou?’