The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

The hardest words to say

No, it’s not “I was wrong”, or “I’m sorry”, or “You have something in your teeth” (which I do actually struggle with, by the way). It’s not even “I’m sorry I was wrong about you having something in your teeth”. The hardest words for me to say to you, are also the words that I find hardest to say to myself.

Before we go on, though, a warning. I rarely write about anything serious, and even when I do, I can’t help but make light of things. This is, however, a serious post, and has the potential to make some of you feel awkward. It may even be triggering. For that, I am sorry, and can only say that if the thought of me being serious is a little too weird for you, now might be a good time to stop reading.

And if you’re one of those people, that’s OK, I promise.
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For the rest of you, the hardest words for me to say are these.

I have depression. And also no, I’m not joking.

I won’t go into any great detail about the whys and wherefores. I’ve had it once before, and managed to come through (mostly) unscathed. But the last year or so has been a little hard, and over the last six weeks things have finally seemed to catch up to me. At first I told myself I was just having an off day. I’ve had off days before (who hasn’t?). Then, yeah nah, it’s been a bit of a tough week, eh. I’m just tired, I reckon, and a bit stressed at work. I need some sleep. I’ll feel better tomorrow. I can get through this. I wish I was a Windows Phone, so everyone will leave me alone, and any minute now I’ll randomly reboot and everything will be OK again. But before you know it, it’s six weeks later and you’re starting to realise that, if not outright lying to yourself, you’re at least making some pretty flimsy excuses. A black dog ate my homework, as it were. And then, one day, even you can’t believe the excuses you’re peddling, and you start to worry that maybe you’re not as strong as you think you are. For me, that point was about two weeks ago, when I lost my last, treasured place of refuge. Sleep was no longer the inevitable end of a long day, but a blessing, something to look forward to, the one place I could hide from the multitude of pressures and disquieting thoughts. But after getting six hours of sleep in three days, I could run from the truth no longer. Much like Churchill himself, his black dog can be a relentless little bugger, and he’d finally chased me down.

And so, as of about 10 days ago, I am getting the help I need, and am extremely fortunate to have a good support network. The last three days, however, have been particularly hard, and if I’m not leaning against my lounge room wall crying uncontrollably, you can find me lying in bed, hoping against all hope to find a reason to get up. So, for some reason, I’ve decided to write about it.

Unfortunately, like many things associated with depression, this presents somewhat of a contradictory challenge. Because this is simultaneously the best and the worst time for me to be writing about it.

It’s the best time, in that it’s the only time you can truly describe it. When I have previously described my first encounter with depression to friends, I tended to say things like “Yeah it wasn’t fun. But, you know, it didn’t last very long” – which is kind of like Churchill cursing a visit from the aforementioned dog, but later admitting that, hey, at least it wasn’t a cat. I don’t think this is a feature unique to depression. Time heals all wounds, it would seem, and even if it doesn’t heal, it certainly dulls the memory. Those four hours that you spent literally staring at a wall seem almost funny many years later. Staring at a wall for four hours…? Outrageous! So I think it’s important to write about it now, before the meds (hopefully) kick in.

But it’s also the worst time to write about it. Writing it down makes it real. It compels you to think about everything that’s wrong, until you realise that you’re actually not sure what’s wrong, which of course makes you feel even worse. Not only that, but writing requires a plan. Structure. A mind with ordered thoughts. And right now I feel like I have none of those things. Sure, you might read this and think, “Well your thoughts seem fine to me, that Windows Phone reference was awesome”, and I would actually like for you think that. But that’s not the truth. You haven’t seen me rewrite that previous sentence six times, and still doubt if it makes sense. You’re not here to see me stare blankly at the screen for ten minutes. You’re not aware of the tears welling even as I type this, a fact rendered all the more difficult because I am in a public bar and the Backstreet Boys’ “Bye Bye Bye” is playing on the sound system. Your assessment is based only on the thoughts making it to the keyboard, and not the million others that are all fighting each other for my very limited attention. And I’m sure that none of you know the shame of finding yourself wishing you were a Windows Phone.

None of which is your fault, of course, because it turns out that not only does no one else have a Windows Phone, but pretending to be OK can be surprisingly easy. Which is one of the reasons why telling people you’re depressed is so hard, because you know it’s almost certainly going to come as a shock. I don’t really know what people tend to think of me, but I know enough about myself to know that I probably come across as a bit of a clown, always ready with a (most likely shït) joke. I probably look like I don’t take life too seriously. I post stupid shït on Facebook. I can take the pïss out of myself. I find it easy to go out and have a good time with my family, friends and colleagues. So I fully understand that a lot of the people who know me, and who are bothering to read this, will be a little surprised by my admission.

Believe me, though, no one is more surprised than myself.

Life really isn’t that bad. Hell, life is pretty damned good. I was lucky enough to be born into a beautiful, loving family, in one of the safest, most prosperous nations on Earth. I have a shït load of awesome friends, some of whom may even like me. I have a good job at a really great, friendly, inclusive workplace. I am in otherwise good health. On any given day, I am free to indulge in a wide range of interests and hobbies, like playing sport for an absolutely amazing club, taking sometimes OK photos, or writing this cräppy blog, all of which give me great joy, even if I don’t really think I’m that good at any of them. I have never owned a pair of suede loafers, nor have I ever tied a Ralph Lauren jumper around my neck, which is awesome, right? And, best of all, I have an absolutely beautiful, kind, and thoughtful four-year-old boy, who I love so much that it aches.

And that my friends, is, for me anyway, the worst thing about it. It goes without saying that no one wants to feel like this. But even worse than the feeling itself, is knowing that you don’t have a right to it.

And yet here I am.

Here I am in a place where the simplest tasks suddenly become Sisyphean, if Sisyphus could be bothered to get out of bed in the first place. A place where concentration is in short supply, but the demand for it seems to be endless. A place where, instead of running to all those interests and hobbies that bring you such joy, you have to drag yourself to kicking and screaming, only to find that the joy isn’t there anyway. A place where you have to make yourself leave the house and see your friends, because you’re worried they’ll think less of you for not going, and because you’re desperate for any respite, no matter how temporary. A place where you feel disconnected, detached, alone, unloved and useless. A place where you tell yourself that none of that is true, but you don’t have the energy to make yourself believe it. A place where you have to force yourself to eat, but also feel guilty about having a problem that others would love to be able to solve so easily. A place where you feel like life is something you’re watching happen around you, rather than something you’re living. And, worst of all, a place where seeing your beloved son requires a monumental effort, of which you are sometimes just not capable.

And you hate yourself for it.
_____

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure.

I know it’s not a cry for help. And I’m not looking for sympathy. I don’t need or expect anyone to rush to my aid, or start sending me schnitzels and whiskey. I don’t even want anyone to know that I’m depressed. In fact, I’m actually terrified of people finding out. Telling a trusted friend that you had it is one thing. Telling everyone you know that you have it is something else entirely. I’m scared that people will think I’m weak. That I don’t deserve to feel this way. People will look at me differently, or they’ll look at me the same, and I don’t know which would be worse. I don’t want anyone to treat me differently, or constantly ask if I’m OK, lest I burst into tears at an awkward moment. Like, oh I don’t know, at the urinals at work.

But maybe it’s important that people know. Maybe by hiding it I’m doing a disservice to all the other people who battle it alone, and in silence. Maybe I need to give myself permission to feel this way. Maybe I want to reach out to anyone else who feels the same, and give them permission, too. Maybe I want my son to read this one day, so he knows that there is no shame in being sad, he doesn’t have to pretend to be otherwise, and most importantly, that no matter how bad things seem, everything will be OK in the end. Or maybe I just ran out of things to write about.

That’s the thing about depression. It can be hard to get your thoughts in order, and decide how you feel, or why.

I know one thing, though. I will be able to tell you. One day. When I am well again.

And by dog, black or otherwise, I will be.

The real problem with “gender theory”

Remember when life was simple? When men were men, and women were women, and men loved women, and women loved men, but only after marriage, and then after marriage men were still men, and women were still women, but the women cooked and had sex with the man whenever he wanted? Ahh, those were the days… everyone just lived their lives according to the way I wanted. There were no gays, just straight-as-an-arrow legends like Rock Hudson, Peter Allen, and the dad from the Brady Bunch. And if anyone was gay, they had the decency to live miserably by internalising it so I wouldn’t get upset. It was a different time. People were thoughtful back then – because I made them think about me.

But my, how times change. Now everyone thinks they can be true to themselves. Oh, you’re a man, attracted to men? Sure, go ahead, do the bum sex! Never mind that it makes me feel icky. Or perhaps you’re a woman, who likes the boobies? Well muff-dive right in, the waters fine! Don’t even think about the fact that I don’t want to see lesbians on the street because I only like to watch fake lesbians on the internet in the comfort of my basement. It’s selfish, that’s what it is. Everyone thinks they can just be with the person they love. But what about what I love? I love people to conform to my ideals. Why can’t you just love who I want you to love? Why don’t I get a say? Doesn’t my view count anymore?
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And that, my friends, pretty much sums up every conservative’s objections to LGBTI rights. Since the dawn of humanity, apparently, something about gays and lesbians has made people uncomfortable, and you have all had to fight tooth and nail to gain what few rights you now enjoy. We have, of course, made some progress – but it’s clear that, as a society, we still have a long way to go.

The latest (public) battle in the LGBTI war, of course, is trans* rights. And while you and I know that each of the letters in the LGBTI acronym represents a distinct and diverse sub-set of queer-folk, to conservatives you’re all the same. To them, you’re all just people who refuse to accept their version of your reality.

The latest blow is the apparent banning of the teaching of “gender theory” in NSW schools. As ACL’s NSW State Director, Mark Makowiecki, said:

Parents will now no longer have to worry if their children are being taught harmful gender theory at school after the NSW Government today banned it.

The NSW government, you see, has apparently conducted a review of the teaching of “gender theory” in NSW schools. The review “was tasked with evaluating the scientific merit of the research underpinning the materials in question, [and] appears to have made a negative determination in relation to the validity of the research.”

Well, well, well. Interesting. Apparently the science is not as settled as the intellectual elites on the Left believe.

That will of course come as a shock to the scientists who actually study such things, but, happily, for the purpose of making people like Mark Makowiecki look like jerks, the scientific research doesn’t actually matter.

Yes, you heard right. I could sit here and list hundreds of studies and articles, and I could quote all kinds of social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, in support of “gender theory”. But I don’t need to. Because people like Mark Makowiecki are quite happy to defeat their own argument without any science at all.

You heard what he said. “Parents will now no longer have to worry if their children are being taught harmful gender theory.” It’s harmful, apparently. But what makes it harmful? Why, people like Mark Makowiecki, of course. Isn’t that neat? People like Mark Makowiecki not only get to claim that “gender theory” is harmful, they also get to create the conditions that make it so. People like Mark Makowiecki get to demonise gender diverse and trans* folk to the point where 41% of them attempt suicide, but – it’s a miracle! – they also have the luxury of claiming that it’s harmful to be trans* or gender diverse. And then claim it’s science.

And that, my friends, is the real problem with “gender theory”. People like Mark Makowiecki will always be around to pull out one of the few studies that goes against the established scientific view, so he can place “gender theory” in inverted commas. But this is one issue in which I’m OK to say that the science doesn’t even matter.

You know what does matter? People.

You see, regardless of what the science says, people don’t tend to randomly choose lifestyles that bring about a lifetime of misery and collective scorn. But that’s what people like Mark Makowiecki apparently believe. “Gender theory” has to be a myth, right? People are just choosing to be like that for the fun of it, aren’t they? It’s trendy, or a fad, or a mental illness. And if we teach “gender theory” to our children then they’ll want to be like that too. Because people love living a life of internal conflict, public shame and discrimination. Right?

Funnily enough, no, they don’t.

What people want is to be themselves, and to live out their lives in a way that will ensure the best chance for their own happiness. What they don’t want is for people like Mark Makowiecki to deny their own reality, dictate who they should be, and place inverted commas around a “gender theory” which they know to be true.

Because everyone has the right to be who they are.

Even if “people” like Mark Makowiecki are too callous to admit it.

The Safe Schools Program Part 2, or, these are not the numbers you’re looking for

One of the earliest problems I encountered during my actuarial degree was being surrounded by nerds. Oh, and also, the Birthday Problem.

There are a few different ways to formulate the problem, but at the time, it was presented to us as:

If you’re at a party, how many people need to be there for there to be a 50% chance that two guests will have the same birthday?

The first answer that might spring to mind is that, since there are 365 days in a year (well, most years), you would need about half that many people to have a 50% chance of two people having the same birthday – so, around 182 people. That is wrong. By a lot.

The correct answer is actually 23. That’s right, you only need 23 people at a party to have a 50% chance that two of the guests have the same birthday. I won’t go through the calculation, because this post is boring enough already, but it basically comes down to combinatorics. Each time someone arrives at the party, there is a chance that they have the same birthday as someone already there. Thus, the second person who arrives has lots of alcohol to choose from, but also has only one other person to compare birthdays to. By the time the 10th person arrives, however, all the good alcohol is gone, and there are nine people who could have the same birthday. In short, the higher the number of people already there, the greater the chance that the next person who arrives won’t find a drink, but will find a matching birthday.

Keep this in mind for later.

Another interesting fact is that any party where this birthday-checking thing happens has a zero percent chance of being fun. I assume I don’t need to explain that one… suffice to say we all learned a valuable lesson at our first end of exams party.
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In my last post, we learned that over-stating the proportion of LGBTIQ people can make some people a little upset. The official Safe Schools Introductory Guide tells us that:

  • 10% of students are same-sex attracted;
  • 4% of students are gender diverse or trans; and
  • 1.7% of students are intersex.

Some people really hate that 10% figure. Like renowned statistical phenomenon Bill Meuhlenberg, who tells us that “the ten per cent figure has always been a big lie” and “homosexual activists have confirmed [it] to be a case of deliberate deception”. But why does it matter? Well, as Bill points out:

If the homosexual lobby is willing to use faulty statistics to support its cause, just how reliable is it in other areas?

Bill doesn’t provide an answer, but Murray Campbell has similar concerns about the proportion of intersex people. Apparently, “gauging accurate numbers for sexuality and gender is near impossible”. Even so, Safe Schools claims the proportion is around 1 in 60, while “the American Psychological Association suggests the figure to be about 1 in 1,500”. Ouch. Murray suggests that this is like “a political party taking 10 polls, publishing the one that is favourable and deleting the 9 which are less supportive”. The cynic in me says that a better analogy would be that it’s like ignoring countless free polls showing that 70% of Australians support marriage equality and asking to hold another poll that will give the same result but cost $160m and then ignoring that poll too. But the cynic in me also seems to be trying to derail my own post, so I’m going to ignore him.

In any event, Murray informs us that:

This kind of misrepresentation of facts and science straight away raises questions about the legitimacy of [the] program.

Indeed.

Keep this in mind for later, too.
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And by later I mean now.

Apparently, much like never seeing your parents having sex, getting the proportion right is not only near impossible, but also impossibly important. Because if those LGBTIQ people can’t even tell us how many of them there are, how can we trust them enough to believe anything they tell us? They could tell us that we need to, oh I don’t know, run an anti-LGBTIQ bullying program in schools, and we might end up spending millions of dollars saving fewer people from suicide than we thought we could. Let’s be honest, no one wants that.

But if we can’t trust the LGBTIQ community to give us the true state of affairs, who can we trust? Who can we turn to, to assess the legitimacy of the Safe Schools program? Happily, Bill and Murray, but definitely not Bill Murray, show us the way – if we can’t trust the people who don’t give us the true statistics, all we need to do is trust the people who do. You know, like the people who told Murray the proportion of intersex people.

The American Psychological Association.

Let’s ask them about the legitimacy of the Safe Schools program.

Tim: “Tell me, APA, do LGBTIQ people get bullied?”
APA: “Well, Tim, I’m glad you asked. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people encounter extensive prejudice, discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation.”
Tim: “Trans people have it pretty easy though eh? Just look at Caitlin. She was in a magazine!”
APA: “No Tim, many transgender people are the targets of hate crimes. They are also the victims of subtle discrimination—which includes everything from glances or glares of disapproval or discomfort to invasive questions about their body parts.”
Tim: “So what you’re telling me is that LGBTIQ people are just a bit precious?”
APA: “No, Tim. The widespread prejudice, discrimination, and violence to which LGBTIQ people are often subjected are significant mental health concerns. Sexual prejudice, sexual orientation discrimination and antigay violence are major sources of stress. Although social support is crucial in coping with stress, antigay attitudes and discrimination may make it difficult for LGBTIQ people to find such support.”
Tim: “Yeah OK, but it’s all a mental disorder anyway, isn’t it?”
APA: “No, LGBTIQ orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.”
Tim: “All right, fine! But they make shït parents, and shouldn’t be allowed to have a family.”
APA: “Studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of LGBTIQ parents and children of heterosexual parents.”

Damn you, APA, damn you to hell. I can still use your statistics on LGBTIQ incidence, though… right? Please?
___

Turning to the proportions themselves, there are obviously a wide range of studies that show a wide range of values. Conveniently, people like Bill and Murray, but definitely not Bill Murray, only ever manage to stumble across the studies that confirm the view they already hold. Surprise, surprise, they also like to use measures that distort the picture to suit their needs. Statistics like “only 1% of people achieved orgasm with a member of the same sex in the last year”, or “only 0.002% of people named Sarah have müff-dived with someone named Nancy”.

I can do that, too. Manipulate statistics to suit my agenda I mean, not müff-dive with Nancy. For example, a quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that:

  • A 2011 survey of 7,725 Italians found that only 77% of people identified as heterosexual;
  • A similar study in Britain in 2009 found that 9% of people identified as non-heterosexual.
  • In an update to this study in 2015, only 72% of all adults identified as totally heterosexual.

Who to believe?

In terms of the Safe Schools program itself, however, there is one aspect of the debate on which people like Bill and Murray (and probably Bill Murray) are suspiciously silent. All the studies they quote attempt to determine the proportion of LGBTIQ people in society as a whole. A society in which the vast majority of people were raised to believe that being anything other than a gender-normative heterosexual was a very, very bad idea. A society in which people might be a little reluctant to admit their sexuality and gender identity to themselves, much less to a stranger conducting a telephone survey. A society in which each generation is a little more liberal than the last. And, returning to the 2015 study above, a society in which 72% of all adults identify as totally heterosexual, but when you look at the 18-24 age bracket, only 46% do.

Which is why Safe Schools based their 10% figure on a survey of Australian secondary students by La Trobe University.

All this leads us to two very obvious, and very important, observations:

  1. More and more young people are identifying as LGBTIQ; and
  2. There are still a shïtload of people out there who are going to hate them for it.

___

The best part of all this talk of proportions is that it doesn’t even matter. I love it when that happens.

Because even if we accept the figures provided by people like Bill and Murray (but definitely not Bill Murray), it in no way invalidates the Safe Schools program.

If society is a party, and we are the guests, and instead of comparing birthdays, we compare our various levels of male- and femaleness, and hetero- and homosexuality, and acceptance and bigotry, there is an extraordinarily high probability that someone who is just trying to be themselves will encounter someone who wants to make them feel shït about it. And if that happens often enough, there is a very good chance that the person who is just trying to be themselves won’t want to be themselves anymore, and will think suicide is a good way to make that happen.

And it doesn’t matter if the proportion is 1 in 10, or 1 in 365. Given the number of people at the party, there’s a very good chance it will happen eventually.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a risk that’s just not worth taking.

So You Want To Be A Starving Artist…

artist

Last week, I met a good friend for a couple of beers. We talked, we laughed, we declared undying friendship to various groups of complete strangers and, all things considered, I think a good night was had by all. The following morning I did the usual two litres of water, three rashers of bacon and eighteen metric tonnes of remorse. I also did a check on my bank balance.

I discovered that the night had cost me a grand total of $58. At first glance, it would seem that I got off very lightly indeed. And I did, really, but there’s no changing the fact that this sum of money represents 89% of my fortnightly food budget. Couple this with the fact that my rent is roughly 75% of my income and that most of the rest of my cash goes to Sydney’s hideously expensive and frequently eccentric public transport network, and I think we might begin to appreciate the reality of being a starving artist in one of the most costly cities in the world.

You might ask how I can expect to earn a decent income when, as a novelist and hack reporter, I must spend most of my day either contemplating my navel or arguing about the impact of new formalism on post-modern thought in smoky bohemian cafes. My answer to this would begin with a long stream of profanity. I would then point out that I work an average of between 70 and 80 hours per week. My time is divided between pretending to be a journalist on a US news aggregation site, plugging away at the sisyphean task of writing a novel and working on various creative projects that have absolutely no chance of earning a single cent at any time within the next six months. In order to be able to eat and sleep in a location that has walls and a ceiling, I spend time on top of this workload tutoring HSC kids in English literature. I average four hours sleep a night, and generally not all in one go.

So kids, before you decide to really chase your dreams, you should be aware that this mainly involves constant labour, a Mee Goreng diet and turning down social invitations. And it’s not just the poverty. Creative work comes with many potential rewards, but the only guaranteed returns are criticism and abuse. In some industries, jobs which involve dealing with constant abuse are remunerated on an astronomical scale. In the creative field, you literally get your kicks for free. Sometimes it’s because people don’t understand your work. Other times it’s because you’re too far ahead of your time, or too highbrow, or too unconventional. But mostly (read ‘always’) it’s because creating on a full time basis means that a portion of your work is always going to be embarrassingly crap. And it’s those times that the criticism hurts the most.

Of course, having decided to do what I’m doing, I have absolutely no right to complain about it. One thing that I have over a lot of other people is near absolute job satisfaction. I will never again have to look in the mirror and see a person who has sold all the years of his adult life for a mortgage and the ability to eat overpriced brunches in streetside cafes. This provides a kind of smug satisfaction that cannot be bought.

Thing is, though – my poverty is a considered choice. I don’t really have to be poor – I could go and do something else, but I’ve met many people who can’t. People who are poor not because of their vocation, but in spite of their best efforts. Men and women who are stuck in labouring, service or process jobs that eat up all their time and pay only infinitesimally more than the dole. People who are attempting to raise children on incomes similar to my own. People who have to save up for four weeks in order to buy a ninety dollar pair of shoes and who are expected, by bootstrap trickle-down economists, to somehow improve their situations in life by working even harder than they already do.

It’s this more than anything that makes it worthwhile. A world in which the working poor exist is a world that needs changing. And I don’t care what they say in all those hippie internet memes: there’s really only a few ways to change the world, and one of them is through the creative arts. As long as there are people out there who are as poor as me, and don’t want to be, I have absolutely no problem with living on plain flour and promises. I’ll take a pure mission in life over a salary package any day of the week and twice on Sundays. In fact, I already have.

GBAV – Genesis 9

In which we learn that it’s apparently OK to have sex with your family, but don’t ever, ever accidentally see your dad naked.

Gn 9:1-3And God blessed Noah and his sons, and he said to them “Go and re-populate the earth. And because I killed everyone, that means you have to have sex with your family. Sorry about that. But on the plus side, all the animals will now be terrified of you, probably because you just killed a lot of them in that tasty, tasty BBQ from Chapter 8. So you can kill and eat anything that lives and moves about, except your family of course, because you have to have sex with them. Sorry about that.

Gn 9:4-5“Actually, now that I’m thinking about this a bit more, best not to eat anything that still has blood in it.

Gn 9:6-7“Also, whoever sheds human blood, then by humans shall their blood be shed. I think this is a good, unambiguous rule, and I can’t see any loopholes – periods. But anyway, go and have sex with your family. Sorry about that.

Gn 9:8-11“And I will make you a deal. Never again will I kill everyone in a worldwide flood. But I reserve the right to kill most of you with a flood, or kill all of you by some other means, like making Donald Trump president.

Gn 9:12-17And lo, I will use rainbows as a symbol of my promise. Every time I see a rainbow, I will remember not to kill you all with a worldwide flood, because I will probably forget otherwise. And every time you see a rainbow, you will remember that I love you so much that I won’t kill you all with a worldwide flood. Again.”

Gn 9:18-19The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth (Ham was a shifty bugger). And after a bit of adultery and incest, they populated the whole earth.

Gn 9:20-22Noah needed some beer goggles for incest, however, so as soon as he got off the ark he went and planted some pinot noir. And then he got blind drunk, and passed out naked in his tent, which makes Noah the most awesome 600-year-old in history. And then Ham the shifty bugger walked in to Noah’s tent, and saw his father naked, which can’t be a good experience for anyone (no offence, Dad). So he did what most of us would have done, and ran outside to tell everyone.

Gn 9:23-24But Shem and Ham weren’t really interested in seeing their father naked, so they walked into his tent backwards and covered his naughty bits. And then Noah woke up in a really bad mood, probably because he had a raging hangover, and he realised he had to have sex with his family, but mostly because Ham had seen his naughty bits.

Gn 9:25-27“Screw you, Ham!” he said “You will be a slave to your brothers! And I will make Japheth fat, and he can live in Shem’s tent!”. And Shem said “But Japheth has his own tent”. And Noah told him to be quiet.

Gn 9:28And Noah spent the next 350 years getting drunk and passing out naked and cursing anyone who accidentally saw his naughty bits. And then he died. Probably because he had liver failure, and skin cancer on his naughty bits.

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<< Genesis 8 | Genesis 10 >>

GBAV – Genesis 8

In which all the flood water goes away, and Noah realises he now has to have sex with his family.

Gn 8:1And God found that waiting for everything on earth to drown was a little boring, so he went and did something else for while. But then he remembered Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark, and he thought he should probably help them out a bit. So he released his divine wind, and lo, his divine wind blew all the water away, and also warmed everything up a bit.

Gn 8:2-4And it stopped raining, and the water started disappearing, but we’re not sure where it went. And after 150 days, in the seventh month, God’s divine wind blew away enough water for the ark to come to rest on Mt Ararat. And if you don’t believe this story, you can find the remains of the ark there, I promise.

Gn 8:5-7And in the tenth month, the tops of the mountains were seen, except for Mt Ararat of course, which, as I just said, had been seen three months previously. And lo, the ark was pretty smelly by this stage, because Noah had only built one window (seriously). So he opened the one window he had made, and just for shïts and giggles he decided to send 14% of the earth’s entire population of ravens out the window. And that one raven didn’t really have anywhere to land, so it just flew around in circles for a while.

Gn 8:8-9And lo, Noah needed to know when the water had all gone, so he could leave the smelly ark, and even though he was on top of a mountain with great views, and was on speaking terms with the all-powerful creator of the universe, he thought the best way to find out was to send 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out the window. But the dove couldn’t find anything to land on, so she returned to the ark muttering something that sounded suspiciously like “Why can’t you send a frikken pigeon”.

Gn 8:12But seven days later Noah still couldn’t be bothered using his eyes or asking God about the water situation, so he sent 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out again to see if the water had all gone, and this time she returned with an olive leaf, which made Noah happy, because he knew the water had all gone, but also sad, because he would have preferred a mango. So after seven days Noah sent 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out to find a mango, but the dove didn’t come back, probably because she was busy eating mangoes.

Gn 8:13And lo, in Noah’s 601st year, he opened up the ark and looked around, and he saw the earth was dry, and he realised that was a much better way to find out if the water had all gone, instead of risking 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves.

Gn 8:14-17And a month later the earth was still dry, and God said “You and your family and all the animals can leave the ark now.” And Noah realised that waiting for God to tell him when to leave was a much better way to find out if the water had all gone, instead of risking 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves. And then God said “Lo, incest is a bit gross, but have at it with your family for a while, just to get your numbers up”. And verily, this made Noah’s son Ham much happier than it should have, for he was a shifty bugger.

Gn 8:18-19And so Noah and his family and all the animals left the ark. And they looked around and realised that the top of a remote mountain was a silly place for an ark to stop when it’s carrying the only living things on the planet, and Noah wished that God had stopped it next to his old house instead, but on the plus side he was glad he wasn’t an emperor penguin.

Gn 8:20And Noah decided to give thanks to God, so he built an altar, and sacrificed one of every bird and one of every clean beast. And, if you think about it, killing and burning 14% of the earth’s entire population of birds and 14% of the earth’s entire population of clean beasts is the perfect way to thank someone who just made you build a ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo so he could kill everything on the planet except you and your family and all the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes such that now you have to get some incest going with your family.

Gn 8:21-22And God smelled Noah’s huge BBQ, and the smell was so good he thought to himself, “You know what, I will never again use a worldwide flood to kill everything on the planet except whales and fish and seagulls and herpes. I’ll stick to localised tsunamis that only kill a few million, and pandemics that only kill a third of the world’s population. Not because it’s a shït thing to do, mind you, but because humans can’t help being ärseholes, which is kind of my fault, when you think about it, because I made them.”
_____

<< Genesis 7 | Genesis 9 >>

GBAV – Genesis 7

In which God makes it rain, but not in a strip club kind of way.

Gn 7:1And the Lord said to Noah, “Bring yourself and your family into your ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo, because you are a really nice guy, and I want to kill everyone on the planet in the most convoluted way possible.

Gn 7:2-3Then grab yourself seven of every clean beast, and two of every unclean beast, and seven of every bird, and put them in your ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo.” And Noah said, “I wish you’d told me that earlier, because in the last chapter you said to just grab two of everything, but now I have to collect an extra five of every clean beast on the planet, and I don’t have enough room, you muppet. Also, do we really need seven of every bird? It’s hard enough catching two.” And God said, “Stop being a whinger.” And Noah asked, “How do I know which beast is clean and which is unclean?” And God said, “I’ll tell you in Leviticus.” And Noah said, “Will the rules be hard to follow?” And God said, “No it will be really easy, and not at all ambiguous, and I will declare all your favourite foods clean.” And this made Noah happy, for he really loved bacon and lobster.

Gn 7:4And the Lord said, “Next week, I will make it rain like Lil’ Wayne, and I will kill every living thing that I have made. Except you and your family and the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes.”

Gn 7:5And so Noah went all over planet collecting seven of everything clean and two of everything unclean and seven of every bird to put in his ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo so that God could destroy every living thing that he had created except for Noah and his family and the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes.

Gn 7:6And Noah was 600 years old when it started raining. Gn 7:7And Noah and his family boarded the ark. Gn 7:8-9And then all the clean and unclean animals and birds boarded the ark, except now there only seemed to be two of everything. Gn 7:10And seven days later it started raining.

Gn 7:11-12And Noah was (still) 600 years old when it started raining. Gn 7:13And Noah and his family boarded the ark (again). Gn 7:14-15And then all the clean and unclean animals and birds boarded the ark (again), except now there (still) seemed to be two of everything.

Gn 7:16And then God shut the door of the ark, because he hadn’t contributed at all so far, and, verily, it was the least he could do.

Gn 7:17And then it started raining (again), and the earth started flooding. Gn 7:18And the waters prevailed, and the earth continued flooding. Gn 7:19And the waters prevailed again, and the earth continued flooding. Gn 7:20And the waters prevailed some more, and the earth continued flooding until the water rose 6.8m above Mt Everest, because God wanted to kill everyone, and Ishmael Cohen was reeeeally tall, and a pretty good climber.

Gn 7:21-22And then everything on the earth died, except for Noah and his family and the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes. Gn 7:23And then everything on the earth died (again), except for Noah and his family and the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes.

Gn 7:24And the waters prevailed again, for the last time, I promise.

GBAV – Genesis 6 Part 2

In which Noah was just asked to build a ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo so God could kill everything on the planet except for Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes. Understandably, he had some questions.

“Understandably, I have some questions,” said Noah.

“Fire away,” said God.

“Why don’t you just kill everyone by clicking your fingers?”

“Oh if I do it this way it will be heaps more believable.”

“Hmmm,” said Noah. “Do you realise this will take about 200 years? Can you give me an engineering degree? And can you teach me carpentry? And shipbuilding? And navigation? And fluid dynamics? Can you make me a chainsaw? And a crane? And a logging truck? And a timber mill? And a circular saw? And some safety goggles?

“Do I really have to collect two of everything? Emperor penguins are cool I guess, but Antarctica is ages away. And what about kangaroos, and fire ants, and king cobras, and benobos? Do I have to collect all 1,000 species of bat? Do I have to collect animals that won’t be killed by the flood, like salt-water crocodiles and seagulls? How do you expect me to catch not one but two lions? How do I build a water-filled enclosure for the hippos? How will the giraffes get through the front door? Where on earth, literally, will I get all the food to feed these things? How am I supposed to feed the anteaters if I only have two ants to work with? What will I do with all the animal shït? Can I get a plastic container for the termites?

“How are you going to stop all the water from flowing over the edge of the earth? How will you kill all the other people who have boats? What will happen to the polar ice caps? What if we hit an iceberg? How will I maintain a safe weight distribution as we use up all the food? Can you make me some boat shoes? And a shuffle board set? Do we all have to say aye-aye? And what if someone doesn’t say aye-aye back? Does there have to be an aye-aye for an aye-aye? Can you lift the ban on masturbation? Can we have some toilet paper? Will you be providing linen?

“What happens when all the water recedes? What are the cows going to eat given all the grass will be dead? And what are we going to eat, given there will only be two cows, and you killed all the vegetables? What if the lions eat the zebras? Will I have to bury all the dead people? How will you restore the ocean’s salinity? How will the kangaroos get back to Australia?”

“Enough, Noah!” yelled God. “I get it! It’s a stupid idea. But we’re doing it anyway.”

“Well, in that case,” said Noah, “Can I also get some tweezers? Splinters are gonna be a bïtch.”
_____

<< Genesis 6 Part 1

Bless me reader, for I have sinned…

..it’s been two years since my last GBAV post.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, a few years ago I decided to re-write the Bible. Book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, I would create the Good Bad Asinine Version (GBAV), just for you. However, being lazy, and having a short attention span – OMG that dog has a puffy tail! – and the Bible being as tediously repetitive as it is contradictory, I only made it as far as Genesis 6.

My fellow blogger Chris, however, is not lazy, has an annoyingly long attention span, and has been bugging me to get my ärse in gear for quite some time. So that’s what I’m going to do. Until I get distracted, of course, in which case Chris will probably just take over. Which, let’s face it, would be better for us all anyway.

In case you missed it, here is the story so far:

  1. Genesis 1, in which god makes everything, in the most boring way he could imagine.
  2. Genesis 2, in which god makes almost everything all over again but in a different order, and pretty much invents sexism.
  3. Genesis 3, in which Adam is embarrassed to be naked, even though he has the biggest penis in the world, and Eve fücks it all up for the rest of us.
  4. Genesis 4, in which humankind quickly gets over their fear of being naked, and decides to give incest and fratricide a try.
  5. Genesis 5, in which God makes his first spreadsheet.
  6. Genesis 6 Part 1, in which God shows that he can be a colossal prick, by deciding to kill everyone and everything on the planet. Except Noah and his family and the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes.

Genesis 6 Part 2 will follow shortly.

Enjoy!

This Time, It Was About A Monk, A Hacker And A Ferret

Last Friday night I had a transformative experience. I watched Sydney play Collingwood and suddenly discovered that AFL is not only a complex and rewarding spectator sport, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a big crowd with my pants on. As controversial as this realisation might be, it’s not what this post is about. The point is that after the post game drinks, it’s impossible to get back to your own bed, even alone, any earlier than 0100 hrs. Factor in the nightcap, the person who you’d promised a bed for the night and forgotten all about and an insomniac flatmate, and a 0530 wakeup becomes feasible only if the idea of sleep is surrendered altogether.

Thus it was that I found myself contemplating the task of writing a book in 12 hours with a bunch of very nice people and absolutely no sleep. We pulled up outside a menacing looking compound in Warriewood, which I believe to be a remote valley somewhere near Afghanistan, and contemplated the enormous task ahead of us by complaining about the cold and, in my case, chainsmoking in preparation for 12 hours in a non-smoking site.

The compound, which looked remarkably like the love child of a maximum security prison and a US military warehouse, belonged to one of our employers, who kindly donated office space and bandwidth and whose staff gave us a significant portion of our sponsorship.

The 2015 WABIAD Team

The 2015 WABIAD Team

At 0800 precisely (give or take a few minutes) we opened the document outlining our parameters and discovered that our novel had to be about a jailbreak and must involve two human characters (a ‘monk’ and a ‘computer nerd’) and a ferret. One of the settings had to be a ‘skateboard playground’, which we decided probably referred to a skatepark rather than a facility built for the amusement of wheeled timber conveyances. There was also a list of keywords which had to be included in the text and which I promptly forgot existed. Zena Shapter, our award winning leader and extremely stressed person for the day has a fuller and more factual description, being what we like to call a ‘serious writer’.

And so it kicked off. Our illustrators, Mijmark and Liz Michell settled down to work, visualising and actualising the appearance of the weird collection of misfits that we had included in our ongoing work both by compulsion and inclination. The authors tapped away with extreme efficiency, except for me, who blurted out 2000 words of hate-filled crap before storming around the room looking for stuff to punch as nicotine withdrawal began to set in. By the end of the day, we had written an edgy, high-tech tale of intrigue involving terrorists, hackers and military drones loaded with explosives and, weirdly, none of these ideas can be directly attributed to me. The book we came up with is called “Rider and the Hummingbird” and we’re all immensely proud of it.

A big thank you goes out to the Northern Beaches Writers’ Group, for being awesome, and especially to all our sponsors, without whom all of this would have been completely pointless. If you’d like to join the cadre of secret superheroes who helped to make this happen, you can help us raise money for the Kid’s Cancer Project at this link:

https://www.writeabookinaday.com/findteams1.php?school=607

Sponsorship closes at the end of the month.

Here is the blurb for our book, shamelessly stolen from Zena Shapter’s blog as I can’t find my copy.

“Fourteen-year-old Lan is a computer genius… and a prisoner. After poking around in exactly the wrong websites, Lan’s interest in drones has landed him in the High Country Youth Correctional Facility.

Not a good start.

Lan is resigned to his fate until he discovers that the mysterious hacktivist who framed him is part of a plot to kill thousands of people, including his mum and dad. With the help of Monk and his ferret, Lan breaks out of jail, and races to prevent a disaster that could change the face of Australia forever.”