Archive for July, 2006

What I did on my holidays….

Sweden kicks massive, hippopotamus-sized ass, as I must say did my sojourn there for 8 fabulous days. I’m not sure I could describe my holiday without going on for approximately 10 pages, so I will attempt to summarise with some brief accounts of what I learned, in loosely chronological order. With the additional comment that sadly, I did not see an elk, but happily, I purchased a swedish childrens book about poo. 

The following things were discovered:

  • It is unwise to lose track of where a fire poi is, even if it has gone out, and even, and I stress this, if one’s trousers are on fire at the time. Even poi that are not lit are still very very hot, and forgetting about one just because you are trying to extinguish some dramatic looking trouser flames is a recipe for sustaining some relatively painful burn marks. Which, granted, you will probably not notice until much later. Also, it is not that difficult to put out aforementioned fire and still retain at least one lit poi for the continuation of spinning, as long as you do not panic.
  • Balloon animals often explode without warning.
  • Sometimes I forget how much I like certain people.
  • White water rafting is an exceptionally fun thing to do, and it is not that hard to stay in the boat, despite the fact that you are perched on the side and held in by just a strip of rubber around your foot. It is important not to wear clothes under the wetsuit, because although they keep you very warm they do not keep you dry. It is also crucial to bear in mind that no-one around you can row properly either, but everyone has a large wooden club to hand.
  • Two people cannot simultaneously drive a 1950s Chevvy pickup.
  • If it does not get dark, you do not get tired properly. Umea had about 4 hours of semi-dark per night while I was there, a recipe for complete madness and continuous partying, drinking, singing, dancing etc.
  • Cheesy pop music is incredibly popular in sweden
  • Reindeer meat is quite tasty.
  • It is a perfectly normal thing in Umea to cycle to the pub, drink, and cycle home. So normal that no-one bothered to tell me about this until we actually stepped outside and I was pointed at a bicycle. I love learning curves of 30 seconds or less.
  • Swedish people are crazy.
  • Because drinking is expensive, swedes often go to each others houses to drink instead of niteclubs. So it is entirely acceptable to invite complete strangers to your home for an “afterparty”, and also perfectly fine for everyone to fall asleep everywhere.
  • I always manage to meet the one person in the pub who likes comic books and Marilyn Manson :)
  • Swimming in lakes is much more fun than swimming in the sea, and swimming at night is much more fun than swimming during the day, even if the water is bloody freezing.
  • There is a swedish word “fart”, and it roughly transates to “going from a small narrow road onto a wide, spacious one”. This amused me. As did frequent signs saying “infart” and “utfart”.
  • It is fucking brilliant to be Irish, everyone loves you.
  • Swedish spoken with an irish accent is (apparently) sexy. (Warning: may not be true)

In summary, with the eternal exception of interrailing for a month, this was the best holiday ever. Special thanks go out to several people: my very good friend the swedish chick here in London; the long-haired good-for-nothing hippy who remains one of the best friends I have ever had; and the swedish boy who wants to be irish and is far far too nice in general. Usually.

Gift Economy my left butt-cheek

Is anyone familiar with the concept of a gift economy? Well I am. At least, I am now. I went to a talk on various aspects of Burning Man (read: hippie) culture. The worst one by far was the “gift economy” talk which may have been the biggest load of crap I have ever heard in my life. Unfortunately, the speaker was useless. Had she been any less than terrible I would have felt entirely fine about arguing with her, but as things stood any debate between us would have resembled a rabbit being run over by an articulated lorry.

I’ll cover the concepts that were expressed very briefly, and then rant about them at length. First off they claimed that capitalism “believed in scarcity”, the logic of this being that this is why they save, or “hoard” posessions. Gift economists, or worthless hippies as I generally prefer to call them, “believe in plenty”, and therefore share everything.

What the fuck?

Believing in plenty kinda sounds like the act of believing there is more than enough for everyone actually makes some sort of difference to reality. Like somehow, giving away whats yours will magically create more to go around. Except of course for the essential flaw here, because nothing is yours. You have no right to anything, the only things you will have are gifted to you by someone else, someone who has no reason to give you anything except your need of it.

The more capable you are of surviving, the less you will be given, the more you contribute, the less you will receive and the more you must give away, all the time, to those who do less, but need more. Nothing can be earned, everyone is a beggar. The act of giving becomes meaningless, nothing is given but for the sake of need. Nothing is posessed, because that would be hoarding.

Capitalism is based on getting what you earn, on trading value for value. No, its not perfect as a system. But its by far the best concept anyone has come up with. but it means if you want something, and you work hard enough, have enough skills or talents, you can get it. In a gift economy, the only things you can possess are what no-one else needs or wants. What a disgusting waste of human ability and achievement.

Not that such an impractical and ridiculous idea could ever be put into practise anyway. Humans are fools, not suicidal imbeciles. I will never believe humanity is crap enough to really attempt that. I just wish they would stop calling it a utopian fucking ideal. Because if thats an ideal evolved society, then I’ll take back my banana, crawl into a tree, and scratch myself for the rest of my life. It will be more worthwhile.

Gin and Cats

A very good friend of mine holds this as the eventual end for all of us too selfish or crazy to be in relationships with other human beings. To grow old, and die alone, accompanied by gin and cats. As pathetic deaths go, I like the poetic quality of the idea. Though upon hearing me describe this as my future the other night, another friend suggesting snakes and tequila as an exciting and challenging alternative, so I may take that one on board instead.

What is so terrible about being alone? What is it that we are all so afraid of? I don’t care if I die alone or surrounded by a cast of thousands, I’ll still be fucking dying and I can’t imagine I’ll be happy about it. Frankly, I would rather die alone than spend my life with someone who wasn’t good enough. Someone once told me you shouldn’t marry someone you can live with, you should marry someone you can’t live without. There is no-one on earth that I cannot live without, and I doubt there ever will be.

Now who can explain to me exactly why this should worry me?

Smoke and Mirrors

“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”

“Love is an expression and assertion of self-esteem, a response to one’s own values in the person of another. One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns, and derives from love.”

Ayn Rand

    I make no excuses for the way I am about to write something, if anyone is disappointed by the lack of vitriol, or sarcasm, then they can direct complaints to my ass, which will no doubt reply eventually. Perhaps not in a very articulate fashion.

    London is so beautiful. It is dirty, it is a huge industrial monster, and for all that it is the most amazing, stunningly wonderful place I have ever been on this earth. I would rather look at the London skyline than the grand canyon at this moment, and though I may someday change my mind, right now I feel better every day that I live here, I love it more.

    I love my life. I can’t remember how or why I ever allowed myself to be unhappy. And I won’t let it happen again. I discovered recently that I do not believe in misery. No-one makes me unhappy but me, and I’m done with that. And thats pretty much it. I’m going home.