I’m rich

I often say that I’m rich. I actually mean it, not just that i have lots of friends or anything.
On my bike this morning i was thinking about ways of defining that, and i thought about “the rich get richer…”
It’s a good measure. If you’re a person who gets a letter every year or two telling you that your house is worth more even though you haven’t even fixed the broken things, your superannuation has grown even though you never think about it, your investments are bigger even though they’re totally-ethical no-gambling-machines… then you’re rich.

I’m rich.

The nanny state

In my country where i come from, you don’t get paid to give blood, and you don’t have to pay for a blood transfusion.
The police get you in trouble if you’re not wearing a seatbelt, but the doctors fix you up when you have a crash.
You’re not allowed to smoke in pubs, but chemotherapy is free.

I think there’s a balance there. But I think the balance would work better if insurance companies (ie people trying to make a few dollars in between the problem and the cure) would get out of the way.

National Protest Day

I live in Australia. We all have to vote here. It’s us and Belgium I think, where everybody has to show up on voting day or get in trouble.
I think it works great, but I don’t think we should rest on our laurels. I want to take it a step further. Annual Protest day. A day where everybody must, by law, show up to a designated protesting place and protest something.

Things I noticed, Europe 2014

Any day on tour with swimming is a good day.  I had two swims (though there were also great opportunities in Ostrava and Wismar):

  • With Erik, in the Øresund, the strait between Copenhagen and Sweden.  Quite a lot like Fremantle.  It was one of the best tour swims ever, exactly what i needed that morning.  But i lost the photos in a hard drive crash.
  • With Birta and Michael, in the pool at the power station in Wuppertal.  A lovely outdoor pool with a waterslide for kids (and me) heated by the power station boilers.

Any day on tour with a Castle (that’s Hrad in Czech) is a good day.  Mic and Robbie didn’t actually play in any castles, but we saw dozens of them out the car/train window and visited a few:

  • The Prague castle, which is really a conglomorate of churches and palaces and monestaries.  We began our journey by searching for an ATM, which took us eventually on a long long walk through the lesser town, up the hill with the orchard, through the forest, along the ridge, past the monastery, and finally out through the front gates of the castle for a glass of wine at the vineyard.  Cathy and I each had a bar or restaurant we were desperate to go to… another day.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewlorien/14789810352/in/set-72157646003875946
  • Hrad Střekov, the best-looking of all the castles along the Labe/Elbe.  Wagner began the Tannhäuser here, and I was reading An Equal Music, so everything fit.  Of course we arrive after the opening time, but there was a wedding on so the gates and the bar were open and there were beautiful people peering down at us from the balconies.
  • The 15th century Neurathen Castle, over the 19th century Bastei bridge near Dresden – it’s amazing that such a solid and beautiful bridge can take you across such precarious heights to such a old old ruin.  cathy didn’t pay her EU2 to visit the actual ruins because she doesn’t like high heights.  And the heights were pretty high.


Credit cards are not accepted. Hardly anywhere. Not the petrol station, not the expensive clothes shop, not really anywhere. I wonder whether it’s always been like this, whether Australia has become credit dependant and I haven’t noticed, or whether the GFC has made everybody stop taking credit from banks.


Rob Rayner from The Beez says that all the mean German stereotypes (they’re annoying travellers, Germany has lots of rules, Germans are really strict about everything, some economy thing which I forget …) are no longer true about Germans, but they are true of Americans.


I wish you good hat” – a benediction from a lady at a busking festival. I want to try to use it in more situations.


Random Swedish fact : Mr Celsius originally set 0° as boiling and 100° as freezing. After a couple of years one of his colleagues persuaded him to have it the other way around.


A proper Australian accent is really hard to understand. We don’t pronounce our Rs, we say D instead of T, and we cut off the end of lots of words.


After spending three or more days each in Berlin, Dresden, Copenhagen, Prague, Wuppertal, Ostrava, Wismar, our easy two best meals were both surprises : Sankt Pauli in Dresden, which we just stopped by for a while drink on a sunny afternoon and discovered that it’s a bit famous ; and San Leo in Wuppertal, where we had a lucky second – sitting booking because our friends said “should we go to the little Italian place after we pick you up from the train”. Both unassuming and fantastic.


Random joke about Poles : when Russians come to Germany to steal a car they have to steal two, because they’re driving home through Poland.


Actual travelling time, Berlin to sydney, on the fastest possible route:
Carrying things to the car in lausitzer platz -> handing in the hire car keys: 2hrs
Checking in and waiting at tegel: 2hrs
Berlin -> Abu Dhabi : 6hrs
waiting at Abu Dhabi (for a very slow transfer desk and two very slow security scans) : 4.5 hrs
Abu Dhabi -> Sydney : 14hrs
Getting through customs and driving to lewisham via breakfast (thanks Allison!) : 3hrs
Total travelling time : 31.5 hrs


The virgin in-flight entertainment has one album by Silver Chair and two by Silverchair… And one Geoffrey Gurrimul Yunupingu album under G, and a Gurrimul Yunupingu album under Y. They’re both Australian !
Etihad had the best film selection, air Berlin had the best television, and virgin had the best music. Gonna buy Beck’s Morning Phase and Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas.

Musicians : Don’t tell me to quit my job

At a festival recently a musician said (from stage) something about all the tired people working their lives away at jobs that they hate.
Now i’ve used that rhetoric before, and i understand that within their own community artists need to justify their own decision to do what they love at great cost.
But for the first time, it stung me. I thought “but i don’t hate my job”.  And i realised that the room was full of people who have chosen long careers, become experts at what they do, well-paid and respected, and some of them as passionate about their desk jobs as any musician is about their music (we were in Canberra, in case you’re wondering).
Dear musicians : tell yourselves that it was worth quitting your job. Sing songs about it. But don’t disrespect your audience by telling them they are wasting their lives.

Oliver Sacks on rhythm

Rhythm turns listeners into participants, makes listening active and motoric, and synchronises the brains and minds (and, since emotion is always intertwined with music, the “hearts”) of all who participate. It is very difficult to remain detached, to resist being drawn into the rhythm of chanting or dancing.

[Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks ch.20]


This year (2-13) WordPress turns ten. That means it’s ten years since Howie and Tom tried to convince me to dump my flat html website for a blog. And finally I’ve done it. See, I listen to you fellas.

It’s because of the social thing.

wordpress logo

CKP on the USA

No, i know nothing.   Never been to US of A.  Know almost no-one.  Not sure what to expect beyond what i believe from Hunter S. and West Wing and a hundred thousand hours of american movies.

why people are more advanced than dogs

<– back to the parable of the car in the field
or another dog metaphor

an idea came to me the other day. two ideas i’ve liked for years, which have finally come together as they always should have.

one is that thing about the cows in the field, and how the field can be defined by the fence that holds them in, or the well that keeps them from straying, the other is something i’ve thought for a long time about dogs – that they must think our toilets are very holy places. dogs spend a lot of their free time pissing out the borders of their territory, but we build special shrines, small and completely enclosed, in the centre of our houses, which the inhabitants of the house regularly mark with their scent.

now, finally, it has occurred to me that this is proof that our religion is more advanced than dogs’.

if only that was true.

–> move on to burning down the cathedral
or a random thing about animals

by andrew 6 July 2002

the mongrel of the church

<– back to the parable of the car in the field

Alternative worship groups are the mongrel dog of the established church. It’s a nice looking animal, and it promises to grow up into something good, but if it starts to look a bit dangerous, or someone thinks it might hurt the kids, they’ll have no hesitation in shooting it.

–> even harsher, andrew’s parable of a local church
–> or, an arrangement the emerging churches might want to employ

Greg Egan on the future of advertising

Lack purpose and direction?  Axon has the answer!  Now, you can buy the goals you need!  Family life. . .  career success. . .  material wealth. . .  sexual fulfillment. . .  artistic expression. . .  spiritual enlightenment.  For more than twenty years, Axon has been helping you to attain life’s riches.  Now we can help you to want them.

[Quarantine by Greg Egan p. 61]

the infinitely thin pen

Coordinates are infinitely thin and lie between the pixels of the output device. Operations that draw the outline of a figure operate by traversing an infinitely thin path between pixels with a pixel-sized pen that hangs down and to the right of the anchor point on the path.



And Judas asked,
“who do you think has received more: the charity which received from the poor woman who gave all she had, or the charity which received from the rich man who gave a small but regular tithe?”