Monday, March 3, 2014

A short history of Myth :: Karen Armstrong

A short history of Myth :: Karen Armstrong

This book caused me to reflect. For me the understanding of myth occurred just a few years ago. The difference of reading something for truth as opposed to a literal meaning. As theologian Marcus Borg writes, to believe in rather than believe that. It hit home while watching The life of PI, two different stories yet both parallel and with the same ending. Which one was real? Which one was true? PI asks the officials which story they prefer at the end of the movie. They choose the story with the animals (Which is way more dramatic). Pi thanks them and says "And so it goes with God."

These type of insights are why I do not give up on fiction. They speak to me.

It is no wonder on reflecting on the Armstrong's book that at least within my past denomination The Vineyard, prophesy, visions have a place in the Church. They have a myth like quality. They take a brake from the literalness, the inerrancy of scripture. It is the remodelling of truths in a different way, parallel to the bible message.

It seems to me stories of myth, are to few in our culture, we are dying in many ways because of it.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Newsroom Season One


I was looking forward to the Newsroom, due to Aaron Sorkin and his past work on the West Wing.

It got off to a cracking start the first episode and fizzled after that. There was the snappy dialogue which I enjoyed with Sorkin and that was it.

Character development was poor and the romances got in the way of the main ideas of episodes. The news stories based on historical events aged the show, I can say this with certainty having watched the first season a few years of first screening.

The episode that revealed it to me was the "we got Bin Laden" episode. That episode revealed how patriotism can run a whole show. As a non US citizen while I think that Bin Laden was guilty, the whole storming the compound the killing him reeked of revenge, not justice. Justice occurs after a trial. Much like the Nuremberg trials when the leaders of Nazi Germany where stood to account. Bin Laden never got his day in court though I'm sure he could have been captured alive. It seemed the show got hooked on that moment, a feel good feeling for Americans, while for me it left me wondering.

Also the whole obsession with the Tea party... Very much an American phenomena, and very boring....I'm sure ther could have been more global issues to chew over.

The reviews for the second series seem better so it may not be the end for me...


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stasiland:: Anna Funder


For the 19 years or so that I lived through the Cold War, the main belligerent was the Soviet Union. East Germany was pretty much ignored for me except for the "Wall" the dividing symbol between East and West. This book is the Soviet state, East German's story.

I've read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, life in the Gulags, living repressed. In some ways the stories are the same, but it is also about making sense of these individual stories in East Germany after the "Wall" has come down.

It is also about the officers, the Stasi police, their lament over the good old days now gone with the fall of the "Wall", and others who seem to have genuine remorse.

It is good for while reading the book to be reminded of how lucky I am. That I can have a different political opinion and not be the "Enemy" of your country.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

1914: the year the world ended. Paul Ham


This is the second book of Paul Ham's that I've read. What I find with Ham is that he always seems to bring a twist or correct a preconception that I may have had on a subject.

In 1914 my preconception was changed regarding the start of the war. My impression after reading the book was the war was always going to happen. Ham emphasis was that the causes where greater than just the Baulkins conflict and the assassination of King Ferdanand. The Baulkins were just the trigger. Europe it's aristocracy and military where heading in a war direction for years prior to the outbreak of war.

I was expecting the book to be more about he war, instead I think Ham got lost in its causes and the build up to war. Well over half the book, I was expecting a chapter at he start. In that respect I think the title 1914 was slightly misleading.

I think 1914 will age as a book. There were a few comparisons to modern events, which in 50 years time non historians will wonder at these references.

It was a good book. It brought me back to poerty that I loved, Sassoon and Wilfred Owens. And Bengimin Brittens War Requim. It also brought me back to a time when I first started nursing 20 years ago. The last of those World War One veterans and their memory's were about to be extinguished forever. I was lucky to have listened to their experiences. Of what it was like been recruited in Bendigo and then sent off to a far away land and it's horrors. A lot different today with the backpackers experience.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Madame Flavor


This is a bit of a warning for all gardeners out there. We usually after infusing our tea dispose the tea bag in the garden where I presume they rot down and I never see them again.

We enjoyed Madame Flavour's organic mints and lavender flowers but floating around the garden are the little plastic 'infuser pods'. Who knows when these 'biogradable natural fibre infuser pods' will break down. They have defied hot composting and I'm not having any more in my garden. Who knows what the natural fibre is, but I'll take the normal tea bag thanks.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Rudd Rebellion, The campaign to save Labor, Bruce Hawker


This is the second campaign political book I've read; they can be insightful. A few thoughts::

I don't think much will come from the Rudd/Gillard period, time will tell. Though a reform of Rudd's, which I'm certain will start to take off is the dilution of Union power and branch members having a direct roll in electing their leader, Hawker described it as becoming similar to the US presidential elections.

The loss of the election can be traced back to the knifing of Rudd. The disunity never really settled after this.

Union power within the labor party stinks. I couldn't get over that Paul Howel, Union boss was still ringing up Rudds team with who he thought should get preselection. I'm positive that coming up through the union ranks is not a great endorsement for representing your electorate.

I think Labor had better policies than the Coalition, did they have the unity and talent to implement them. No. This I believe is how Austalians voted how they did. I'm not sure any of Abbott's policies got him into power, rather bad labor government.

Murdoch's publication hampered the campaign. I didn't need to read the book to see this. In the end people will find other sources of news which reports on policy not just opinion. People will find alternative sources of news which is now easier than ever to do. I think Newscorp will be more neutral next election for the sake of there readership.

I enjoyed the insights and frenetic pace of the campaign 4/5


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Yuba Mundo Lux vs Bakfiet

I've ridden and owned both bikes now so I thought that I'd put up my thought.


This is a fully imported bike from the Netherlands. We literally traded a Hyundai Exell for it. All up it cost us $4000, with the aim to ride everywhere locally. I can say for four years this is what we did. The bike had everything. Electric power assist with a 180 kW motor. Power assist meant you had to peddle for the motor to kick in. Eg no throttle. It also had a rain hood which protected the kids in rain. There were a few times when we where even caught in thunder storms which the kids found very exciting. All up the bike was beautifully made. Everything had its place and purpose. One thing I like was the internal hub. A Shamano 8 speed. What was great was no derailer trouble. Changing gears while stationary, which was great when stopped in traffic and you faced an incline.

Riding was somthing you had to get used to. It had a wide turning circle. The other thing was this bike liked weight. Two kid and groceries the Bakfiest handled purfectly. It was when there was nothing in the tray at the front the bike would bounce around.

The children loved the bike. You could put them in the tray watch them and not worry. The could just do there thing be it reading a book, playing with dolls or get absorbed with the ride.

It was heavy, the electrics helped. The way I would describe it was that with the power assist on it felt like I was putting the equivellant effort as a road bike.


Yuba Mundo Lux


This is type of bike called a long tail. The children sit on the back, and panniers on the back if you have extras like groceries.

For what we paid for I think we should have got more. We looked at the demo and it looked fine, it wasn't till you have the bike for a while you notice the difference. The mud guards, are actually a flimsy plastic which looks like aluminium. The Bakfiest had, marathon schwable tyre these where bullet proof. It looks like the Yubas are quite cheap in comparison. The guards for the wheels to protect little peoples fingers also seem flimsy.

Riding is also interesting, with no weight the bike handles well, it reminds me of a mountain bike. Yet the more weight you put on the less stable it seems. The front starts to bounce around and while loading up you really need to be straddling the bike to keep things stable.

I did like the way the bike is modular and can grow with what you need to do, such as an attachment to tow bikes, or surf board etc. I also went with a Nivinci internal hub, similar in ratio to the Shimano.

If I was to do things again I would have just brought a yuba mondo frame and added everything myself, I think you would find you could build a much better bike. Better components for the same price.

In some ways I regret selling the Bakfiet, yet the kids seem happier getting onto the Yuba. So my objective of still riding everywhere is completed.