Corruption galore

Corruption seems to be a very human attribute, evident all over the globe. Yet, is it not strange that the majority of people I have met are not in the least interested in taking advantage of their position to acquire wealth or possessions? Against that, those who are corrupt include (everywhere) very rich or very powerful people enjoying a high lifestyle. If that does not indicate extraordinary greed, what does?

The latest corrupt behaviour in Australia I have read about involves some unlawful arrivals claiming asylum because they are gay, that is, homosexual. Migration agents are reportedly involved; how so? Are pro bono lawyers involved too? Media reports are somewhat opaque about such matters. It is, however, interesting to read about the preparations made by some asylum seekers to convince decision makers that they are practising homosexuals.

Since these applicants are already in Australia, but are not allowed to work for a living, who feeds and houses them? Australian charities? Do members of their tribal community provide material support? Do their supporters among the host-nation population who are not tribally-linked provide necessary sustenance?

How did these applicants get into the country? Unlawfully? Or, by not being honest when applying for a visitor-visa?

Corruption in Australia is petty compared to the grand larceny reportedly to be found in many countries. Yet, would it not be sensible to attempt to close the holes now available through faulty policies or lax administration? The financial cost to the nation now must be ridiculously high.

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 2)

The Who

“So, the tribe had ineluctably glided from an intended chatty confabulation straight through to the formulation of an action plan, bypassing that conference stage when all those present, or factions thereof, would have been consulted. House’s unilateral conclusion and decision now faced the tribe with a requirement to define a plan of implementation; that is, to focus on how now that the what had been set out as the desired outcome. If House had only been able to watch the news on TV, he would have noted the parallel path followed relatively recently at an international forum by that infamous trio, the Council of the Chilling.

Led by a leader for whom time is a fast flow of funds well lubricated with petrocarbons, this Council sought to impose regime changes and a form of democracy based on individualism upon tribalism-based theocratic or military-controlled governments, wherever they were to be found. Like the right-to-lifers genuflecting before the throne of a theocratic ruler way over the seas, who are prepared to kill humans who do not agree with them on matters relating to the netherlands of the female members of humanity in order to save what they choose, arbitrarily, to define as human life, the members of this Council of the Chilling were quite willing to kill (and maim) women and children, but only collaterally of course, in the name of Western capitalistic democracy. House’s decision making had an international precedent.

Not knowing that mice might mimic mankind, the tribe waited, quivering in a silence well larded with both uncertainty and anticipation. House’s authority was thereby multiplied a thousand-fold. With a wink toward Angelina (his wife number two), he spoke again. Knowing that brevity beats bombast and obfuscating oratory, he said simply: “We know what we need to do. But, we will not waste any time discussing how we will do this. The question for us now, to be dealt with in real-time, is who will do it.” In adopting this approach, House had another international precedent, although he was not aware of it (at least in his conscious mind). The Council of the Chilling had taken a similar path in attempting to put tribal governance to a cryogenic death; it knew what it wanted to do, but without working out how this would be achieved in a durable manner, it had decided who would do it.

In the silence that had reentered the scene, neither Mona the moaner (House’s number one wife) nor Porthos (who once thought that he had a clear and undeniable thought to offer) nor anyone else had anything to say. Their thoughts and feelings had all been forcefully exploded only recently in that frenzy of self-expression. Instead, they were busily thinking about life and death – death without warning and a certain predictability about it, a martyr’s death (although they had never heard about Islam), and whether there was possibly a pleasurable life after death.

However, like any good leader, House realized that stressful peregrinations through mental minefields needed a break. In humankind, this might involve a Bex (a headache powder of yesteryear), a cup of tea (a drink still in fashion), and a good lie-down (most fashionable with unionized workers in industrial nations of the Western kind). Mouseland offered a similar process of rejuvenation. He would recommend that. However, like every clever and manipulative political leader in mankind, he realized that a holding pattern of non-action had to be embarked upon immediately. This would be akin to a Royal Commission, whose report he would subsequently reject (as is done in many a democratic parliament) if it did not concur with his own views.

With this template in mind, he closed this extra-ordinary meeting of the tribe with these words resounding in the ears of his tribe: “I will arrange for a Committee of Wise Mice to inquire and report on our long-standing problem. Those of you who are of a practical nature will, of course, speak before this Committee. The question before all of us is simply: ‘Who will bell the cat?’”

 

Thus ended the parable recounted by little Virginia who had somehow learned to understand the language of mice and cats.

Since life, as experienced, can (and will) be viewed in different (and possibly contradictory) ways, the perspectives, complexities, and concerns of the major participants in this saga pertaining to mice and mortality are indubitably worthy of note.

 

Maxwell, I am

I am, I really am, I bloody well am, Maxwell – not Max, certainly not Mangy Max. It is bad enough to have a glorious name like mine reduced to something meaningless like Max, or modified thereafter to Maxie-baby by little Virginia. But the shame of it all to be now referred to as Mangy Max (by House) or MM (by Whicky). And this is in spite of my glorious black shiny coat, the result of my daily diet of a scrofulous mouse. These mice are so slow-witted as not to notice my right paw in its descent upon their hind quarters.

It was House the Mouse who first used that most disparaging appellation Mangy Max. He had spat out that derogatory nickname in an inflammatory intent to create a curse – somewhat in the manner of Montezuma’s Curse – when complaining about my behavior towards his tribe. His complaint had strangely been to Whicky, my neighbor and friend. Whicky, a long-haired Persian (cat, of course), whose historical ancestry is as glorious as mine, shares his abode with House and his mob.

Purely as an aside, why does he do that? Perhaps the eyesight of the Persians had been dimmed during the Dark Ages in Central Asia and the Middle East. This was the time when there was war in the heavens. Dragons then ruled (for a while) that part of the Cosmos in which Earth rushed unperturbed on its regular rounds while Earthlings trembled in fear or trudged through the deserts for decades in semi-darkness. Their gods (which included cats of course) and their farming animals also suffered from this blindness. Well, that might explain Whicky’s seeming stupidity. As a further aside, you will, I am sure, pardon my attempted alliteration as I have so little joy since my family jewels and then my competence to propagate my line of ancient gods were dedicated to the compost heap. I know where they were deposited because Whicky told me so. How did Whicky know? Because his principal slave Virginia (but who actually and foolishly thinks that Whicky is her pet) told him so.

Returning to human folly like the humans I had adopted and trained, Virginia and her family thought – oh dear, how shallow these humans are – that they were the ones who had adopted us as their pets. Mind you, it is a kindly intended description. The connotation of possessing a pet powerfully led to these humans being propelled into a state of smug satisfaction. Pardon the alliteration again, but they are so satisfyingly soothing in the light of that space in my netherlands. I am almost light-headed, indeed slight-headed as well, so to speak.

This unsuspected role reversal allows us gods of Egypt and Persia (and no doubt other places as well) to so dominate our humans. We can climb up curtains (something our Siamese brethren are wont to do), scratch and tear fabric-covered furniture (all of us enjoy that, even when there are trees with appropriate bark in our back yards), or disdainfully look askance and refuse to react when called, picked up, handled fondly, or otherwise shown affection. By these attitudes and actions, we indicate with such sweet subtlety that we, the descendants of the gods, cannot be ruled. Mealtimes are, however, a different kettle of fish (a heavenly thought). Even humans show respect for the cook, don’t they? I mean, a stomach which rumbles forever is so un-majestic!

My innate majesty requires me to regain my proper name and public respect. What is it about these antipodean relics of a eugenically-cleansed species of humans that they need to reject or at least to confuse those necessary gender, tribal, or other ancestral boundaries? For example, someone known as Ali is not a turbaned Turk, but a girl with the birth name Alison. Her modern-day surname of Mead has been truncated from Meadowcroft. I wonder why she chooses to discard the evidence of her tribal, cultural, and geographical heritage. She really should learn from us cat-gods as we surrealistically survey the scene surrounding us with sly satisfaction.”

 

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 1)

This last piece of bicultural fiction in my book “Pithy Perspectives” has entranced readers. I offer it in segments, because of its length, but also to allow ‘Wordpress’ readers to digest the events presented. The New South Wales President of the Federation of Australian Writers was quite entranced by this parable.

The Plan

House spoke. He had the right to speak first because he was the Elder of the tribe. Speaking first has traditionally been understood in all manner of societies to indicate unobtrusively, implicitly, and without further sign or signal the authority necessary to lead. Yet, it was also understood that age or seniority did not necessarily deliver that authority. However, House’s tribe had agreed in that democratic way that had been lost since the demise of the Athenians (who, one might remember, had resided in that location which, nearly 1,500 years later, had become part of a new nation called Greece), that House was entitled to speak first.

So, House the mouse spoke first. But, as soon as he started to articulate his scrambled thoughts, for rapidly advancing age does tend to scramble – as with an egg in a frying pan being man-handled (so to speak) – thoughts, both formed and preformed, Mona (his number one wife) began to moan. Her moaning did not, however, discomfit the tribe because Mona always knew what House was going to say – so she claimed.

Was she clairvoyant? On the contrary, she had lived with House long enough to anticipate not only his words but also his thoughts. Ah, so she thought! She really should have consulted his sainted mother, now in the land of the angels, and thereby able to guide her. For House was not a common house mouse (that is how he received his pseudonym) or even a garden mouse. He was indeed an intellectual mouse who, when the moon was in conjunction with Pluto (not the neighbor’s dog), could not only see into the future but also anticipate trouble. That might explain why he had not been eaten by Whicky, the Persian cat who shared the house with him.

Whicky, so named by little Virginia who, at age eighteen months, had displayed the normal age-related inability to say certain sounds, was a very relaxed beast. He must have been since he seemed unable to see or even sense the presence of House when they were only a meter apart in the kitchen. But Whicky was not the problem. It was Mangy Maxwell (MM), Whicky’s best friend, who lived next door, who posed an existence-threatening problem. Existence is, of course, as Whicky had already intuited, an ephemeral matter. Well, not so much matter as energy perhaps. For, as the ancient Hindus have taught, not only is matter interchangeable with energy, all existence is only Maya; that is, neither real (but not in a Platonic sense) nor unreal and that both real and unreal are merely transitory emanations from that ocean of consciousness from which all objects with form and name arise.

To counter MM, the mice in House’s environs had tried travelling en masse. Yet, after each foraging trip through the paddocks adjoining House’s domain, there would be one less member. They believed that cunning MM had somehow managed to side-swipe into his maws one of their lot.

House had finally decided to have a confabulation. He, in his Whicky-derived wisdom – because it was Whicky’s demeanor which had allowed House to grow old and thereby wise – knew what the solution was. But, before he could speak, Mona had risen with all the authority of ancient wives to speak for him. Big mistake! Wife number two, Angelina, much younger and not as bound by habituation, was not about to let Mona upstage House. So she broke into the moaning that had just begun to flow like water over-flowing a bathtub and insisted – ever so courteously and in that acceptable voice of gentility which is far more persuasive than any other kind of oral delivery – that House should have his leadership say.

Gratefully, House stood up (on his hind legs of course) and spoke. He spoke with that authority which can only come from leadership – whether imposed or earned. He uttered these words of profound wisdom: “We need to bell that cat!”

 

The Problem

Thus, in the beginning were the words. The words were: “We need to bell that cat!”

Then came the void – the void of ocean-deep silence. And what silence! Was there such a silence after God had said to her entourage, “I am, there I create”?

The silence convinced House that he had not dropped a clanger. His suggested solution for the tribe was sound. That terrible silence surrounded the mice and suspended all potential sounds in much the same way as a sea mist seeps onto its foreshore, engulfing, as it were, all other matter whether alive or dead, animate or inanimate, conscious or unconscious. The silence which had suddenly flooded the consciousness of the mice was not as heavy as that winter fog that can press down upon one with its weight of moisture about to be deposited without discrimination upon freedom-filled flesh or feathers. It was also not like the summer mist that filters the dawning light to produce an enlightening glow which yet renders insubstantial all that it subsumes.

Instead, in that deep void of silence, all the brains brought to the confabulation of mice suddenly went berserk. Never had these brains been so stimulated. Never had the normal chatter of trivia which so occupies the lives of mice (and mankind) been silenced by the enormity of this plan of concerted action. And thus and thereby, all the brains went into hyper-drive. If channeled into some kind of propulsive mechanism, collectively they could have found themselves in one of the inter-galactic “worm-holes” alleged by certain speculative cosmologists to link any one universe with another.

But then what would mice know about the Cosmos? On the other hand, how are we humans to know whether intergalactic or interstellar travelers (viz. anthropologists, members of the food supply industry, or armament merchants) have not already insinuated themselves into each and every life-form on Earth? If this has already happened, it would only be an extension of the now well-known path of neo-colonialism. This process of entrapment of the resources and minds of “others” (that is, those who are not “us”) is currently being propagated with a prodigious proficiency by the lust of the last of the white-skinned colonizers. As ever, similarly pigment-deficient accumulators of the assets of others had, over a few recent centuries, not accepted that all humans are but projections from the one and only Creator of the universe and that the urge to control resources that transitorily belong to “others” is truly futile. After all, one cannot even take one’s material body into the ether on Judgment Day. It must be admitted, however, that mice normally do not bother themselves with matters which preoccupy the minds of socially sensitive souls of the human kind, intergalactic and interstellar observer-participants of mice (and mankind) possibly (and probably) excluded.

After an extended silence of the void created by many minds in gear, one mouse started to speak. In his excitement at having suddenly produced a clear and undeniable thought, he forgot to ask for permission to speak from the chairman, his tribal leader. House therefore would not accept his right to stand up (on his hind legs of course) and to speak. As soon as the others saw Porthos (the mouse who thought that he had a clear and undeniable thought) stand up, they erupted. Vesuvius, that great volcano of ancient lore, would have been envious. Fortunately, unlike that eruption that had destroyed Pompeii, the eruption at the confabulation of mice was only oral. An observer of this aural reverberation might be forgiven for remembering, with some amusement, that famous childhood aphorism: “I tought I tought I saw a puddy tat”. For any vision of the pussycat MM, whether real, imagined, or illusory, would certainly have caused a comparable decampment.

The dam was now broken. All those mouse brains in gear, silently churning all manner of clear ideas and fragmentary thoughts as well as visions and feelings not quite ready to be transformed mentally into unspoken words now switched from processing to projection. All that mental grinding, not unlike the grinding of the tectonic plates below the surface of Earth, led to the uplifting into potentially vocal sounds, again not unlike the uplifting of ground-up magma within a volcano, and finally to that mighty explosion of sound. Vesuvius would indeed have been envious.

In the process, poor Porthos was drowned out, but only aurally. Even if the sounds were all near-subliminal squeaks, the uproar was truly deafening. But House cleverly allowed them all to jump up and down and have their say. This they all did simultaneously. He realized that all that brain-power had to be released. He therefore waited patiently for that strange phenomenon demonstrated by large vocal groups: when all the froth and fury of self-expression had been exhausted, there would be a silence – the silence of uncertainty. The unspoken question would then be: “Where do we go from here?” Or, more pithily (as that great Chinese sage Lin Yu Tang might have said to his porcine pet): “What now, old sow?’

 

 

Voids need to be filled

A void is nothing more than an empty space. It can be found in almost any place. Strangely, it does not remain empty for long, except perhaps in the human brain. Those who are gifted by nature or their genes with voids in their brains can wander through life muttering ‘I do not understand’ whenever unexpectedly new information surprises the neural patterns already established in their brains. According to the latest findings in neuroscience, the human brain then has to be trained to over-ride previous conditioning. Since nature does not seem to tolerate voids for long, all is well.

Thus it was in a little village hall filled to near-emptiness by a mixed cohort of expatriates from the exotic land of Hongo-bongo that certain voids manifested themselves. There was a void in their personal lives in a foreign clime which they sought to fill in concert with others of like mind. Collectively, they also saw a void in democratic processes in the governance of their former homes. For instance, the head of an international oil company was the unelected Deputy President of the nation, ‘advising’ (in the manner of traditional colonialism) the President on all matters relating to the creation, and deflection into private pockets, of national wealth.

After hours of bitter argument over many months, the void of inaction, reflecting inflexible contradictory viewpoints, prevailed. While the void in their personal lives was being partly filled with repeatedly recycled arguments, the void in governance back home remained undiminished. But, … … were there forces or influences at work there which are yet unsighted, in the manner of invisible dark matter (or energy), now believed to be filling the void being left behind by the increasingly rapid withdrawal of galaxies observed through the Hubble Telescope?

The hitherto inconclusive debate in the hall was surprisingly chaired quite effectively by a lightly coloured minister of one of the many Christian churches operating in Hongo-bongo. These were vying, not for power, but for control of human souls, irrespective of pigmentation or politics. He was known as the Reverend, but cheerfully addressed as Rev. He stood for peaceful protest.

This stance was, however, rejected by the others as totally unrealistic; he was not dealing with money lenders, but money takers, they said. In spite of his personal popularity, he was rejected as an effective campaigner by the black people in the group. That was because he was also not one of them; that is, he was not pure black. His father had taken a foreign wife, a white one to boot, contrary to cultural injunctions. Yet, the group needed a powerful leader. Indeed, he was built like the Anakites of Biblical history.

The accepted leader of the ‘proper’ blacks was Cyril Mpopo. As his property had been expropriated by the oil company and his farm buildings burnt down to reach the black gold below, he had sought and obtained refugee status in Europe. His supporters were also expatriates, and for similar reasons. All that they now wanted was a return of their property and citizenship rights.

Their aim resonated with the third sub-group, few in number, but all white in colour. Their leader was Leinrich. For security reasons, he would not identify his family name; not as yet. He and his compatriots also wanted the return of their properties, although these had been confiscated by a democratically elected black government, and returned to their rightful black owners. There was thus no sympathy at all from the black expatriates for the plight of this sub-group; but they had ample available funds.

Leinrich’s role as a former member of the Hongo-bongo Camel Corps was not forgotten by the black members. His job had been to keep any free blacks away from white farms. The Corps was similar to the mounted forces maintained by other authorities in colonial Africa to keep the blacks in their place. While Leinrich and his pals were aggressively racist, blaming all coloured people for losing their perch, they hoped to ride back into their former comfort zone as allies of the dispossessed blacks.

As far as the Hongo-bongonese were concerned, however, Leinrich and his ilk could continue to whistle for the cheese in the moon to fall onto their laps. But their money was needed.

There was thus a significant void in the confabulations of this disparate group, who were yet joined in a search for justice. They just could not agree how this would be achieved. Since voids do not remain unfilled for long, this mismatched group was at risk of some form of dark energy (akin to the dark energy in the universe) entering their space. Indeed, this is exactly what happened.

One evening, into the meeting walked an unknown elderly white man. His skin had clearly been severely tanned and wrinkled by a hot African sun for decades. When he reached the now silent group in the near-empty hall, he was seen to press a button on his jacket. The explosion filled the political and personal void with human debris.

Did this incident indicate that nature prefers to have voids filled reasonably soon? Does it also say something about the plans of mice and men?

(The above is pure fiction. All the names, both of place and human, have been imagined, and do not relate to anything or anyone identifiable.)

Nothing fishy – a silent communication

All that she wanted was a quiet weekend by the sea. The cheap weekender at the isolated beach was ideal for this purpose. Late evening on the day of her arrival, when the sun was setting, she ambled out to the beach. She was as nude of clothing as the sky, sea and sand were nude of life forms. So she thought, as she marveled at the sight of the ever-changing sky.

God is kind to us Earthlings, she thought. As our home rotates on its axis in its travels round the sun, I am allowed to experience the beauty of the setting sun through all my senses, particularly my eyes, skin and soul. I am also allowed to believe that that beautiful ball is sinking slowly below the surface of my home only for its nightly rest. It will surface on the other side the next morning to continue its work.

Her joy was, however, spoilt abruptly at the sight of a large figure garbed in what appeared to be an overcoat. He was leaning back on a huge rock, seemingly enjoying the glorious spectacle before him. Being a generous person, she was pleased that another person was also able to savour the moment. However, she was not adequately clothed for social intercourse. Yet, being young and therefore superbly confident that gravity had not got the better of any of her parts, she decided to move a little closer to the figure. She was intrigued.

The figure seemed to be standing in a pool of water periodically enhanced by the sloshing waves. That is not an unusual sight at the sea’s edge. But the proportions of the figure were somehow not correct. The head was not as big as one might expect, and there was no visible neck. As she moved with some trepidation towards the figure, it seemed to slip feet first into the water. By the time she got a little closer, the figure had disappeared below the gentle waves. Believing that the person had drowned, she panicked. She did not own a mobile phone, and she was a fair distance from the nearest human habitation.

Since she was a competent swimmer, she ran into the shallows intending to save the person from drowning. Then, she stopped. A converse thought had intervened. Would she be interfering with a bid for suicide? What right did she have to disrupt someone else’s legitimate wish? No, she was no one’s guardian, she decided. Why spoil her temporary escape from that vicious segment of society that was her place of employment? She thus quickly turned her mind away from a temporary turmoil to the cocoon of contemplation.

Suddenly, a voice broke into her thoughts. She did not actually hear it. The thought reached her mind as she contemplated the sea where the person had disappeared. The voice, if it was a voice, said very clearly, “You are a good person, to think about saving my life. However, I am not committing suicide. Like your sun which needs a rest from its labours over you and yours, I need to go below the surface at the end of a tiring day. My rest, however, is in life-rejuvenating water.” Then, there was no voice. The semantic silence was without and within.

(These are the opening paragraphs of a piece of fiction titled ‘Nothing fishy at the seaside’ in ‘Pithy Perspectives: A smorgasbord of short, short stories.’ It is my only book of fiction. Available at Amazon Kindle @ $US 2.99.

It has been reviewed most favourably. The collection has been described as ranging from wacky to weird to frightening to uplifting.)