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It’s another one of those gloomy mornings at Flowerbook – even the dogs are reluctant to venture out for the morning walkabout. The temperature’s a cool 17C and the visitors are still curled up under duvets and blankets – perfect weather for sleeping in. Some cool jazz vocals emanate from RIFF on WorldSpace (sounds like Al Jarreau doing ‘Take Five’) and the steaming cup of coffee just hits the spot.
The Dancer’s family (thirteen in all, with a couple more still to turn up) have made it up for the annual get-together during the New Year holidays and the place will soon be buzzing with different activities. Baby Avalok and Little Mira need constant attention – Avi in particular (all eighteen months of him), with his penchant for the dogs that manifests in him trying to kiss them and grab any part of them that is within his reach. Fortunately Buzzy, Bruiser and Rocky are amazingly tolerant, even though they are not used to the trip. Sally, however, gives Avi a wide berth and stays out of his reach. The rest of us take turns to keep our eyes on the children, in-between chatting, strolling around the garden and farm and playing ‘Gestures’ and ‘Taboo’, with promises of a major game of ‘Scrabble’ coming up later today.
Hesh, Umi and Thaji have done this trip from the time they were Mira’s and Avi’s ages, as they would usually accompany The Dancer and me to Flowerbook in their early days and also later, during all their school vacations, so have a particular affinity with the place. The only bummer for them are the leeches that appear when the ground gets soggy, although they know in which areas they shouldn’t tarry long enough to attract the suckers.
Looks like the sun is making a valiant effort to pierce the cloud cover, so hopefully it won’t be gloomy for too much longer. The birds are busy scoffing guavas and mulberries off the trees that are just outside the window that faces me as I do this, and RIFF’s got Weather Report doing Birdland – a tune that’s high on Java’s list of all-time favourites, so perhaps the rest of the day will be brighter – although the family will ensure that the brightness within will persist, no matter the state of the weather.
And so it goes.
Ooops – almost forgot – HAPPY NEW YEAR y’all!
What a show of loyalty and affection towards RD from many of the bloggers on kottu erupted over the past few days, which just goes to show how a community of folk who don’t even know each other personally (apart from their blogging relationships formed over time) can, and do unify against what is considered to be injustice and/or the need to put down noxious entities bent on bullying and threatening a member of the community. Of course RD is kinda special in that he has charmed his way into the hearts of a lot of us bloggers with his whimsical posts, or “pimped up diary”, as David Blacker good-naturedly described his blog. And what’s more, in spite of the fact that he was born and is domiciled in London (exact location of his office has been considerately provided by a Mr. Bawa – all the way from Shanghai), he has the ties that bind him semi-securely to Sri Lanka and has, during his many visits, met-up with and befriended many of us folk. Needless to say (especially to those who have got to know him) he comes across in real-life very much as he does in his blog. In other words, there is no pretence or bullshit and what you see is what you would get when reading his posts. Fortunately he kept his farts in check and never once rushed out to take a shit whilst I was with him, so I don’t know about that part of his make-up, but all-in-all he is a lovely guy, in spite of the rouge and touch of lip-gloss – or maybe because of it!
Anyway, what spurred this post on was that Java wondered if the reaction on the part of us bloggers to the abuse of RD’s privacy would have been as vehement if any other blogger was unfortunate enough to be put through a similar experience by an equally obnoxious entity. We figured that this show of unity, if it manifested regardless of the popularity of the blogger in question, is a powerful force in keeping certain standards and qualities with regard to the ethics and morality in our little blogosphere.
We have, for sure, seen quite a few confrontations between individuals on kottu where name–calling, outright lies and innuendo have been directed and have been responded to. On some occasions other bloggers have entered the fray, either to add perspective or to criticize the antagonist for improper behaviour. However, never have we seen a consensual show of force on the part of so many bloggers. And we feel this is a very healthy sign and bodes well for our little community. Let the differences in views and opinions persist, and there will always be the folk who will react to sentiments with descriptions that may not be complimentary (like ‘jackass, or ‘booruwa’ in the vernacular) but that is no reason for threats and abuse of privacy. And this episode starring The Drummer and The Bawa has surely shown us all a thing or two about ourselves.
Good for us.
The ongoing episode started by Nibras Bawa’s post and RD’s response on his blog has certainly created a bit of a stir on kottu. And the overwhelming view of many of the denizens of our local blogosphere appears to be that NB is a creep of the highest order. The intensity of his response to RD, complete with the exposure of some of RD’s personal details and the blatant threats to RD and some of the other commenters made nearly all of us reading do a double-take. And all because one commenter called him “Neanderthal Booruwa” (‘Booruwa’ means ‘Donkey’ – for those not conversant with the Sinhala language) and another had called him ‘Jackass’ in a comment to another post. Unbelievable!
To me, NB’s ‘exposure’ of some of RD’s personal details didn’t reflect anything other than the exposure of NB’s own personality and psychological makeup. And for sure, the way I look at it, it says a whole lot more about NB than it does about RD. Eye of the Cyclone wrote a telling post on the subject as did The End and these views just added to the plethora of comments generated by RD’s post that seems to indicate a consensus among nearly all the bloggers who responded that NB was way out of line and had overstepped the basics of decency and blog-etiquette – not to mention being open to legal action.
We all realize that cyberspace allows all sorts of individuals to indulge in purging their insecurities – very often at the expense of others who they may, for whatever reason, take a dislike to, or even be attracted to. Stalking, very often results from these insecurities, which could be irritating or, at the other extreme, be scary. As indicated earlier, there are legal implications to this sort of behaviour – for instance, with regard to the Public Disclosure of Private Facts, “…a person suing for public disclosure of private facts is required to prove that another person (1) gave publicity (2) to a private fact (3) that is not of legitimate concern to the public, where (4) such disclosure is highly offensive to a reasonable person…”, so in the event RD wants to go that route, he does have a valid case (by US law).
So in the end (or is it in the interim?) it looks like NB’s attempt at the ‘exposure’ of RD, which by his own admission he thought was highly ingenious and resourceful, and his threats to any other blogger who dared to fuck with him, resulted in nothing more than ‘exposing’ himself to those of us who followed the exchanges. So now what? Judging from NB’s views and thoughts that he expresses on his various blogs, it is most unlikely that he will back down and let bygones be bygones – or will his considerable ego urge him to compulsively go after anyone else who ‘dares’ to fuck with him? One never can tell with individuals with that kind of mental-makeup.
I made a comment on NB’s post to RD, but so far it hasn’t been published. It referred to an earlier post that reflected his interest in Buddhism and his questioning of the Buddha’s logic(!) I don’t remember the exact words, but it went something like this:
“Man, if you are so interested in attaining the liberation referred to by the Buddha, you have a long way to go just to reach that eightfold path”.
The term has been knocked around a whole lot – over eons, I guess. We ‘ve heard the lament before from the disillusioned, as well as certainty from folk living in some mysterious fantasy-world of their own who swear that they are either capable of it, or that they are the beneficiaries of it. Java admits that for a brief time even he thought that our adorable dogs belonged to just about the only species around that were blessed with the trait, but floating off on that stream provided by the spectacular Early Misty a couple of days back made him re-assess.
As a starting point, we would consider ‘unconditional love’ to be that kind of ‘love’ (for surely there are degrees of ‘love’) that is not dependent on anything that the object of the feeling does or feels towards the one that’s doing the ‘loving’. In more simplistic terms, there would be no room for jealousy, anger, envy or any of the emotions that sour a relationship. So is this possible?
Folk speak of, and have written volumes on ‘love’ that know no boundaries and persist through all manner of circumstances, but if one is to look objectively, could one find any instance of a ‘love’ that is not sullied by negative emotions? The ‘unconditional’ aspect would imply that whatever action the object of the love indulges in, there would be no wavering in the intensity of the ‘love’.
We don’t want to get into the nebulous religious flotsam that talks about the mythical ‘all encompassing’ love God has for ‘his children’.
Java flashed on the fact that even our dogs, devoted though they are to us, are solely governed by the fact that we provide the food, shelter and affection that determines the extent of their ‘love’. And if we were to stop providing these elements that sustain their devotion and someone else takes over these functions, their ‘love’ for us would erode and be directed to the new provider. It’s a basic trait of ‘natural selection’, where the dogs would need to adapt to survive – the primal instinct. So, he figured, rather ruefully, that even our dogs were not capable of ‘unconditional’ love.
I, on the other hand, figure I would keep loving the dogs ‘no matter what’, which set Java to start lighting up another doob and thinking more about it.
So is there such a thing as ‘unconditional love’? Or isn’t there?
What do you think about it?
Most of us have surely pondered on some of the absurdities of the English language, so when The Yakker sent Java this little gem, we thought we should share it with those of you who may not have seen it before. It’s a trip!
Asylum for the Verbally Insane
By Kwee Lain
We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly,
Boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,
Grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all
But one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
And in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop,
How come Mother’s not Mop?
Right! Or, if mother’s a Mom, father should be a Pom, right?