A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 21 May 2001

Words! I am a writer, yet I am deeply suspicious of words. Two fundamentalist Christians assist me with my work on The House of Steel. In order to converse sensibly with them, I have read somewhat of the fundamentalist Christians' beliefs -- there's a plethora on the Internet. Despite being based on the Bible, there appears little common ground among the various sects, each of which claims to have access to the only true interpretation of The Truth. So I can choose among a variety of mutually contradictory beliefs -- racist or not, greedy or not, the stars that illuminate the night sky are in a firmament or not... 

What they have in common appears to be a belief that after this life, there will be a better one if you believe their particular interpretation of the Bible. And it seems inordinately important to these people that Hindus and Buddhists and Moslems and Catholics and Jews and Presbyterians and Methodists and everyone else is condemned to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.

A Sufi Story

There was once a great saint and God decided to grant the saint whatever he wished. The saint thought deeply and then asked to see hell. God manifests a door and the sage opens it to see a table laden with the finest foods and drinks. Around the table, the diners are attempting to eat the food with forks three feet long, wailing and cursing God because they cannot bring the food close enough to their mouths to eat it.

After closing the door, God asks the saint if he has any other wish. The saint thinks deeply and eventually asks to see heaven. God opens the same door to reveal the same table laden with the same fine foods and drinks. The diners are wielding the same three foot long forks and are feeding each other, praising the name of the Lord.

Words can illuminate, or blind us to what is here and now.

Thought for the day:

Words are not as satisfactory as we should like them to be, but, like our neighbours, we have got to live with them and must make the best and not the worst of them.

Samuel Butler


Tuesday 22 May 2001

Following on from yesterday's post:

The word religion and the word rely both come from the same Latin word, religare, meaning to bind or tie, which is similar to joining two oxen together with a yoke, which comes from the same Sanskrit word as yoga, which means, union, which is related to communion...

So, imagine a window washer, on a tall skyscraper, who ties a safety rope to himself, relies on it, has faith in it. His goal is not the rope (religion) itself but the cleansing of the windows.


Thought for the day:

Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know -- and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know -- even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction -- than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.

Isaac Asimov


Wednesday 23 May 2001

Sorry folks -- busy!

Thought for the day:

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. Nor all your piety, nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.

Omar Khayam


Thursday 24 May 2001

Readers of the other DayNoters will have noticed my silence regarding Kaycee Nicole, but the bitterness of some at discovery of the deception brought the following Taoist story to mind:

This is a story from ancient China. A man had only one horse. He left the barn door open one night and the horse escaped, so the man told his neighbour that he was very unhappy over the loss of his horse.

The neighbour replied, "Be neither sad nor happy, for we cannot judge the ultimate consequences of an event."

The very next day, the horse returned to the barn leading with him many wild horses he had befriended in the wilderness. The farmer was now delighted with his windfall wealth and went to his neighbour saying, "How happy I am now to be wealthy in horses."

Once again the neighbour advised, "Be neither happy nor sad, for we cannot foresee the ultimate consequences of any event."

The following day, the farmer's son chose the most beautiful wild horse to tame, but his leg was crushed when the horse threw him, so again the farmer was sad and spoke to his neighbour, who again said, "Be neither happy nor sad, for we cannot know the final outcome of such events."

The day after, the king and his army came seeking young men to recruit to fight in a war in which most would surely die. But seeing the farmer's son with his crushed leg they said, "He is useless to us! Let us depart!"

So, once again the farmer rejoiced and told the neighbour of his joy, that Fate had spared his son from certain death. And once again the neighbour replied, "Be neither happy nor sad at any event, for we cannot know its ultimate consequences in this world of causality."


Does it matter if the real thoughts you had and real emotions you felt were the result of fiction? Can you with certainty predict the consequences of the deception?

Thought for the day:

The people of the world having once been deceived, suspect deceit in truth itself.



Friday 25 May 2001

Good grief! Friday already? All the windows and all but one of the external doors are fitted to The House of Steel. A big update with pictures over the weekend, God willing. Much shopping for plumbing stuff tomorrow, bath and shower being particularly important. The chequebook for our overdraft account arrived Wednesday and as I started to write out the final cheque for the windows, Marguerite stopped me. Apparently Warren Toe-rag Tozer phoned her to say we have a third set of documents to sign before the account is activated! If the account wasn't yet active, why did they send the chequebook? Or an enclosure saying it wasn't to be used until we have signed the third document? Why wasn't said document included with the chequebook? Far from the money being available in two weeks, it's now over four weeks.

Thought for the day:

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

Benjamin Franklin


Saturday 26 May 2001

Well, it's off to Hobart (City of Love according to Attila the Stockbroker) to buy a shower and bath for The House of Steel, and have some pictures of the house developed. Also, we are making our final decisions on lighting. Lights 'n' Lamps, just along the street from my favourite second-hand record store have given us a sensible plan that needs just a little fine tuning. I'll be posting some pictures tomorrow.


From Mat Lemmings:

"If the account wasn't yet active, why did they send the chequebook?"

Because banks, the world over, are manned by bureaucratic pillocks who don't know whether it's raining or Tuesday and because of that indecisiveness will lend you an Umbrella during summer, and demand it back in winter.

Still, at least one only has to replace the first character to get to a far more appropriate description...


Heh, heh...

Thought for the day:

To err is human. To moo, Bovine. 

The Oracle


Sunday 27 May 2001

Yesterday's shopping trip was most successful. I managed to persuade She Who Must Be Obeyed that a bath 100 mm longer than standard would enable me to lie down in it and have the hot water over my knees. Luxury! We paid a deposit on that and the shower. Now all we need is the bank overdraft so we can have them and the already paid for toilets delivered.

The discussion about lighting with Eddie at Lights 'n' Lamps was most enlightening. He had prepared a plan much better than the previous shop had done. We made considerable modifications to his draft as our mutual understanding improved. He's a real enthusiast! Amusingly, he was a law clerk at Huonville years ago before Marguerite's employers, Baker, Tierney and Wilson opened there for business. Tasmania's a small world.

Before leaving town, we visited Kevin at The Victoria Tavern, mainly to order some coffee. Kevin just purchased a house in West Hobart. Sadly, his flat (apartment for you Merkins) caught fire shortly before the move destroying most of his and his lady's possessions. He said that despite this, the first thing they did upon moving into the house was to light a fire in the open fireplace. And he invited us to the housewarming.

As we were driving out of Hobart via the road we used to live on back in 1981, we were passing the excellent butcher shop we used to frequent. So we pulled a U turn and walked in to find Chris Green's smiling face still there after all those years. He told us he has sold the butchery and just works there part-time now and is much happier, though considerably poorer (in the monetary sense) for it.

In the evening we went to the folk music club for the first time. Usually, we are too tired. The music was wonderful and I had a great chat to my friend Doug Wynter, an owner-builder we have known for many years. He has built many houses, though he says the house he is now living in is the last he will build. I invited him to visit The House of Steel, though I am sure he will disapprove. He is very much into avoiding most modern building products and techniques.

More pictures of The House of Steel are up here.

The book discussion group Marguerite runs is reading Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent, so I suspect I will attend the next meeting. Usually, I don't get around to reading the book, but in this case I have already read it. And I'm enjoying reading it again:

Maybe now I would see chain-gangs toiling in the sun and a prisoner in heavy irons legging it across fields and sloshing through creeks while pursued by bloodhounds, and lynch mobs roaming the streets and crosses burning on lawns. The prospect enlivened me, but I had to calm down because a state trooper pulled up alongside me at a traffic light and began looking me over with that sort of casual disdain you often get when you give a dangerously stupid person a gun and a squad car. He was sweaty and overweight and sat low in his seat. I assume he was descended from the apes like all the rest of us, but clearly in his case it had been a fairly gentle slope.


Funny thing! I just checked the local weather forecasts and discovered that Wednesday's low temperature was a record! -4.8C at Launceston airport. Locally, we didn't have a hard frost, but it was a bit chilly. When the locals complain about the cold, I just close my eyes and think of England. I note that Russia is having its coldest winter for 50 years. That's Global Warming for you.


A final thought on the Kaycee Nicole issue. I think many of us want to think about the spiritual aspects of our lives and enjoy being able to do so. The problem is, when we seek such at the accepted fountain of spirituality in the west, it's at church. Instead of enlightening stories, we get lectured at for our sins. And harangued for our money. Not much fun at all. So when we find someone witty, amusing and spiritual, we go weak at the knees.

Here's one of my favourite stories. A bit challenging for some, but then that's what it's all about, really.

Thought for the day:

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.

Abraham Lincoln

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001