31 August 2014

Open Job Application (Absolute Honesty, You'll Reject Me)!

I hereby apply to the ether for a job that will help me get out of bed. I'd like to combine my need and (peerless, savage) ability to advocate for, or work on behalf of, non-privileged people of any kind with my desire to work with fun co-workers and (if possible) have the rare but requisite space for daydreaming paths to achieve higher-order goals within my vocation.

I've had twelve jobs, one in which I was considered incompetent, one in which high management and customers thought highly of me but middle management and co-workers thought lowly of me, one in which I was considered a gifted trouble-maker, and the other nine in which I was respected and valued by all stakeholders.


McDonald's Restaurants

CutCo - Sales

Warehouse Storeperson

Waiter, Intercontinental Hotel, Tokyo

Junior Clerk, barristers' chambers, St James Hall

Legal Editor, Lexis-Nexis

Sex Worker

Community Legal Centre Paralegal / Volunteer Supervisor

Retail - Men's suits, Gowings

Bushland Regenerator

Broadcast Monitor / Media Digesting, iSentia

Cinema Worker, Dendy


Higher School Certificate (NSW): 99+ TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) (1996)

Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) (University of Sydney) (2002)

1/3 Bachelor of Science (discontinued) (University of Sydney)

1/2 Juris Doctor (in progress) (University of Sydney)


Faculty of Law, University of Sydney: Equity and Merit Scholarship (1997)

Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney: Equity and Merit Scholarship (1997)


Semi-fluent in Japanese

Class A Drivers' Licence

Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate

Responsible Conduct of Gambling Certificate


Community Legal Centre

Tenants' Union of NSW (Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service)

Irrelevant Gushes of Writing During Exam Stress

I write vastly more stuff when I'm in the middle of exams. Ideas that have nothing to do with whatever I'm cramming spew into my head (the 'idea rate'.) And I'm more inclined to pick up a pen and record the ideas than let them float away (the 'compulsion level'.)

I know it has something to do with ADD and how Ritalin makes you read and absorb information more quickly but not grasp its depth and implication (let alone anything derived through lateral thinking).

Music Fashiondabblers, True Music Lovers, Age, Solid Gold, Smooth FM People

I'm 35 years old. Most of my friends have started listening to classic hits -type stations (solid gold, smooth FM, what-have-you). It feels like abandonment. And I'm not being hyperbolic. I want my funky family back :( 

Inability to listen to things released beyond age 25, unless widely critically acclaimed by conservative media like The Rolling Stone, and/or closely fitting genre-moulds that existed before that time without too much stretching of imagination = saddening.

My thought train on this subject went like this:

I went to a café where they played, in sequence, the following:

1. A Beatles track I've never heard (an experience of extreme rarity; I listened, thought 'paint by numbers' and thought of John Lennon's five hour Canadian radio-hosting gig where he upbraided George Harrison for being too lazy to change a chord or two when plagiarising whatever became 'My Sweet Lord', a tactic he and Paul McCartney were smart enough to employ).

2. A late blues (early 1960s?) track by someone famous. Remastered.

[Both tracks felt lazy, in a professional way, not a complimentary way.]

3. A Jurassic 5 track. Sweet, smooth production underpinning absolutely forgettable raps.

4. A Portuguese version of David Bowie's 'Starman'.

5. A track from Portishead's second album.

So I demolished my food and escaped from wankdom, physically cringing.

It made me think of the (possibly urban-mythical) story about Aphex Twin turning up to a gig in Sydney, realising that only middle-class culture-nazi hipster wannabe white kids had afforded to buy tickets to what the rest of the population were not yet acquainted with, getting pissed, and deciding to play back-to-back Top 40 hits (unremixed, need I say).

It also made me lament that the war between people who feel music and people who are music fashiondabblers has left a lot of good music in the cold. For example, a lot of anti-fashion music lovers would have eschewed Massive Attack because fashiondabblers hugged them before the said fashiondabblers got suit jobs. Now one of the greatest acts of all time is almost friendless. I was actually thinking that when the Jurassic 5 track came on (great production, crap raps), then thought, 'who did great production and decent raps? Massive!') and then the Portishead track clinched the thought process.

Jessica Irvine, Fairfax, NewsCorp and The Drum (ABC)

I saw someone named Jessica Irvine on an edition of The Drum recently and was perplexed as to both why she was given said platform in the light of her ensuing murmured banalities and a muffled bell going off in the recesses of my brain. A search of my blog revealed why. No wonder she's now at NewsCorp. I'm so sick of privileged people being given posts above that which their intellect can handle. If we continue to run Australia as if it were England we will end up with a parallel of intellectual prowess. That is, punching below our weight.

Funerals and Hypocrisy

Most funerals are exercises in self-serving hypocrisy. Who do you think you're benefiting, the dead or yourself? Thought so.

If you couldn't be bothered communicating anything more than clicking a 'like' button on a friend's whatever-photo in the past five years, why bother now? It reminds me of when I first had disgust for an ex who used the library to cry about her own life in the school library which was shut off for the day after an unknown member-of-Year 12-gang-member died in a car accident.

There's no such thing as 'too busy'. At the least, people who've had a peak experience should know this. There is only choice, aversion and exhaustion.

World GDP Per Capita; Living Above Your Means; Oppression and Normativity

The current world GDP per capita is US$12,400. (See PPP and Substinence and Productivity/GDP Comparisons Over Time).

So you're making more than that? And you're disbursing it with abandon? Life can be fun, can't it?!

Just do not live above your means. That's a sin.

However: do you think you earned the right to be born in a rich country? Or to be born to parents who bequeathed you with DNA resulting in higher-IQ, more marketable intelligence? Good for you!

Or do you think your soul somehow racked up reincarnation points somewhere?

Far be it from me to throw accusations of presumptuousness, wilful blindness, or self-imposed 'busy-ness'.

Just do not tell people on less than $12 400 to live within their means. If only for your own self interest; as Greer says, there will one day be a reckoning. And people might not be kind in the process thereof.

Live on, greedtoads!

Will ‘Still Ballin’ Tupac-Style Always Be Possible in the Face of Yet Unimagined Pain? – Love to Bigboy

We only partially had a mutual respect for the fact that we were both ‘still ballin’. Bigboy had enough insight to put it as the first track on the only mixtape he made for me. I just loved the beats, 2pac’s intonations and random lines like ‘forgive me if I smoke’. I had a vague notion that it was about holding strong both realistically and apparently in the face of supposed defeat. That notion is no longer vague.

I once said to him that I admired his bravery. He snapped, thinking that I was referring to another act in his life that people thought to be brave. The said action wasn’t brave; it was the act of someone who had lost everything. Repercussions are meaningless to those who have nothing left to lose. I was referring to his bravery in the face of major depression and his own situation which made it hard for him to perform necessary subjection to this unknowable, irresistible force. Which is the first step to healing. And despite his 1960s and earlier-born –faceted lack of perception of the earliness and gravity with which young people now engage with existentialism, he had a feeling I knew what I knew. About, separately, himself and myself. I can’t remember whether he made the mixtape before or after my clarification of my opinion about bravery.

We don’t know each other anymore. But I know we’re both still ballin. There is no other way.

The sadness so apparent in Tupac’s first verse is possible to process as an adult. But when you think of the unintendedly ironic portentousness of Tupac’s words, even when you’ve fully dealt with the near prospect of things like homelessness and death, as a human you do not have any idea of what new/unpredictable forms of agony may lie in the future. The world is crazy. It will always invent new, unimagined forms of pain. The only thing I know is that we have to be constantly creative in re-imagining Enlightenment, and ways of still ballin. Till the day we die.

Juris Doctor at Sydney University Law School

I've done Combined Law at Sydney University and have been privy to the unfurling of the first three years of the same university's Juris Doctor program. And read this article, which mostly discusses the intensive mode of teaching in JDs. Here are my thoughts about the LLB as compared with the JD.
Maree Sainsbury's article - based largely on a survey of 20 students at the University of Canberra - seems, in my opinion, to be predicated on certain assumptions and structured overall so as to prevent it from coming to the conclusion that the JD is inferior to the LLB. Her proposition that "market demands and educational values are not opposing forces " is not a "view" that is "reached" via her article, but rather a pre-existing political opinion that permeates the entire piece. Though she acknowledges the role of the Government in forcing university "cost-cutting" she merely counterpoints it to the Government's "ironically" (?) more insistent demands for regulation and reporting. Then she goes on to offhandedly refer to postgraduate law students as an "attractive and growing market", speak of JD "selling points", claim that students are becoming more "end-result" oriented and concerned with timetabling than with features of the JD that are, in my opinion, markers of high-quality education - and that the triumph of timetable concerns actually somehow raise the quality of education delivered.

Perhaps things are different at the University of Canberra. But at the University of Sydney I can categorically assert that the quality of learning in the JD is significantly inferior to that of the LLB. Contrary to Sainsbury's claims, the intensive mode of teaching does not allow time for deep reflection and analysis. You simply cannot have any worthwhile appreciation of the philosophical, logical, political and societal issues swirling around, say, Contract Law after a mere four weeks of rote black-letter cramming. And it is mostly rote learning; one very senior lecturer repeatedly tells her students that the best approach to study is mere memorisation ("there are some things you just have to know"). Philosophical/social concerns are generally dealt with perfunctorily in most subjects. The quality of the candidature appears lower, whose membership appears baffled by fundamental concepts regarding the way the common law works and interacts with legislation when they are not falling asleep over their lap-tops during four-hour long lectures in rooms crammed with over 50 students. The Faculty does appear to be deploying higher-octane academics as lecturers, however.

Overall, students seem less interested in the intellectual niceties of how the law works because they have less time to appreciate the usually intricate forensic twists of reasoning displayed by talented judges, much less even get a feel for how various prominent judges write. Students just want their McEducation. And some ka-ching, yo!

25 May 2014

Liberal Islam, Violence in Absolutist Belief Systems, Jesus, Experientialism, My Muslim Neighbour's Violence Towards Prostitutes

My next-door neighbour is a self-declared liberal Muslim who prays to Mecca five times a day. He expresses, without daunt (an action I appreciate) his implicit opinion that you ar going to hell because you don't follow the (I believe, great) experientalist philosopher Muhammad as the ultimate experientialist philosopher (a contradiction in terms). An arbitrary belief if ever there was.

Some (calculated) time after my opining that - subject to proof to the contrary - my first DMT experience felt like, and for me was, I believe, a genuine experiential episode of 'becoming one with god' (with lost awareness of the possibility of any entity named 'Manicboy'; ie total ego death), and thinking that I wouldn't make the connection between his own religion, his own geographically-incurred antagonism towards Hinduism and Buddhism (he's a scion of one of the most powerful families in Pakistan's history) and my description, he 'mentioned' the following. A strict tenet of Islam is Muslims don't make the 'mistake' of Christianity that a human can be equated with / be a part of god. (Cf the Holy Trinity; Jesus' reported self-claims of being both the son of god and/or god; subsequent philosophers' interpretations that Jesus implied that all humans are simultaneously god and egos in line with religious teachings he may have been exposed to during any speculated journey to the Sub-Continent he made in his 'lost years'.) That is, the rational position that Muhammad was 'just' a human, but also a higher human prophet than any other.

Much uncomfortable equivocation / miscomprehension ensued when I asked for his opinion about Sufi psychedelic experience, Japanese Buddhist sensory-deprivation psychedelic experience, and Muhammad's own sensory-deprivatory experiential retreats to the mountain, each of which produced a 'revelation' in turn founding a discrete chapter of the Koran each.

At least he smokes cigarettes, has tried pot (with paranoid results), uppers, alcohol and hires prostitutes like last night (but not the latter during Ramadan). And at least when I asked about any neutral or otherwise scholars synthesising Sunni and Shiite Islam (a goat ate some of the banana leaves bearing the second-hand accounts of Muhammad's teachings, hence massive theological, political and social divides resulting in wars, mass deaths, etc), he 'admitted' scholarly work from the Shiite side he opposes is of better quality.

But thinking you are absolutely right, especially without experiential validation, and moreover, especially while hiding your implicitly-held absolute condemnation of others' paths avoiding evil and eternal soul-death behind a linguistically talented, purportedly tolerant, multi-lingual, multi-cultured, multi-disciplined, culturally and socially sophisticated veneer absolutely freaks me out. People can hide anything behind a news-reader persona.

He despises conservative Islam. He's a business student so ignores teachings on Islamic banking. He says that the idea of women covering themselves with hijabs or burqas is wrong because Muhammad was a feminist and the text from which these ideas derive are taken out of context. In his opinion 'averting eyes' means treating women equally.

Yet a week ago a prostitute he hired over screamed out 'I just wanna go home'. Then there was muffled noise and silence. I should have called the police but was muddled by being woken up. Last night's prostitute encounter sounded like another male was involved. The woman squealed / screamed on less than ten thrusts. It didn't sound vaginal.

Obviously socio-cultural issues bear; although I've never actually or constructively been raped, I found South Asian clients the most disrespectful of all when I was a sex worker. But I'm not feeling fond of Islam right now.

Kant and Dementia

From memory and opinion (can't be bothered googling) Kant is the only philosopher in history to make a genuine game-change as both an employed academic and as an elderly person. He laboured on to-be-forgotten mediocre works till his flashs of insight in his 50s-60s.

(Take heart, working academics!)

His is the greatest-ever and probably never-to-be-surpassed (besides my own of course) work on synthesising/reconciling empiricism and rationalism.

One of the marks of his writing in The Critique of Pure Reason is an alternating, almost-shy then 'f*** you' exploration of the bounds of his own intellectual grasp of the dualism. One moment self-conscious, the next 'my career is almost over so f*** it if I doubt myself and reveal it'.

I think the reason was an early form of dementia. You know how suppressing certain parts of your intelligence results in startling flourishes from other parts of your intelligence? Yeh, that.

(Take heart, old people!)
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