Dodge This

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guest Writer Short Story: A SHORT SHUFFLE

Ruby Tuesday wears doc martins and tells everyone
She just follows her nose.
Its no secret: that
Her boots are bigger than her feet.

Susie Q never wears sparkly leopard print shirts or
Colours her nails darker shades than their existing one.
She wears:
white eyelet cotton cardigans
but her feet fit her boots.

On nights when it rains and the roads smell hot Tuesday goes out.
She wants. She needs. She hurts.
The world is tame so she is wild.
A wildly tame nose follower.

Susie Q skips and whistles. She knows she’s going to get whatever she wants. Because she knows what she wants.
Adults smile at her. Soft proud smiles. Warm-woollen-winter-sock smiles. Smiles that say:
“you’re doing it right, kid”
And she smiles back because she’s a go-getter.
And she will go get.

Ruby Tuesday empties out her pockets and finds 50 quid. And some dusty fluff. The same that collects in Susie Q’s warm-winter-woolly sock drawer. Ruby kicks out the window pane. The shatter makes the hounds start barking. She wants to wake the house. Remind them to worry about her. Because she’s on the brink. She’s wild. Her shirt drags behind her and she draws on the walls with chalk as she walks down the pavement streets. Into the Gotham tall city high rised jungle.

New York is my domain its madness makes you sane.

Susie Q wakes up! Fresh faced and ready for anything. Today opportunities will fly her way. She tip toes out the door.
A fresh toed ballerina.
She can’t be late. Today is her day.
No cynicism.
No analysis.
Pure life enjoyment. She notices a chalk stain down the wall as she trots along the pavement. Deep into the urban jungle.

(a) One second two planes. One second two towers.
One second one breath. One second one centre
One second 3000 lives. One second 3000 lives less.
One second of rubble. One second and everything changed.

(b) no-one was prepared.

Red-doc-martins and warm-winter-socks
both stop.
Everyone stops. and empties. and gulps. and shakes.
and re-takes.
Sirens cut the silence. Pierce through the comfortable stereotypes a ball point pen was busy shaping. Through the Insane Domain
and try and make things
sane again.

During the rhyming commotion no one stepped out far enough to see all the countries in the world slide a little further apart.
Life sized chess pieces in the world tournament.
It takes a calamity to tear countries apart, and it takes a calamity to bring a country’s people together.
No one stepped in close enough to see that in that one second two girls, became one girl.

One fresh-toed warm winter sock in a dangerously large doc martin.

The alteration was almost effortless. Just like fluffing a pillow.

Because diamonds are made out of the exact same atoms as soot they’re just arranged differently. So everyone keeps shuffling.


Short Story: PLOT 79

The sign said van Rynevelder. A hard, uncompromising Afrikaans name. It was painted in white letters on a disintegrating black board that slouched roadward on old tarred poles. Underneath the name was stencilled “Plot 79”. From the dirt road a track led through a gateless entrance and down through thorn trees to the homestead. The veld was a flat brown and the thorn trees were covered in dust. God knows when the rains would come. Only 30 kilometres north of Pretoria and the Bushveld was complete, the same dry veld that had gutted the lives of the Boers a hundred years before, luring them north and away from the British. The Boers had parcelled up the land into huge tracts, one for each family, and sweated out their lives in hard labour, burying their dead in lonely graves that now rested peacefully beside abandoned farmhouses. Since those days the land had been sub-divided so many times, especially here close to Pretoria, that the plots could not support a family. People retired here, Afrikaners who left Pretoria and came back to the land.

John swung his bakkie through the gates and onto the property. He hoped they were at home. The farmstead was close by the road. A house probably built in the 1950’s, with no special character. A red tin roof, peeling walls and dirty torn curtains visible through narrow windows. It was surrounded by a wire fence, at least seven feet high, with a sturdy gate. Inside were two Dobermans. John stopped the bakkie outside the gate and climbed out. He looked at the Dobermans, who were standing back near the house watching him. He hated this part. But he knew they probably would not attack a white man. As he approached the gate an elderly white woman appeared from around the side of the house, peering at him, with one hand waving downwards at the silent dogs.

Goeimore Mevrou, mag ek ’n oomblikkei inkom?”
Kom maar”, she said
He walked as confidently as he could across the packed earth, eying the dogs.
Goeimore Mevrou.”
“Goeimore Meneer.”
“My naam is John Tunstall”.
Ja, Ja, kom maar in Meneer, ek roep my man”.
She ushered him to a garden table around which were four chairs. Wobbly and made of rusting wire, the kind of furniture seen around the swimming pools of white South Africa.
Ek roep vir my man”, she repeated, and disappeared inside the house.

An open stoep ran the length of the house. It faced a dust-packed courtyard with washing hung out to dry on wire stretched between two wooden poles. The servant’s quarters were beyond the washing, and behind John, on the other side of the courtyard, was a garage. Litter lay about the yard and the stoep of the house was dirty and cluttered. The house, glancing in through the open door, was dark. A few scrabbly chickens kicked the earth below the clothesline.

Mrs Van Rynevelder reappeared. “Hy kom nou”, she said. She wore a dirty off-white dress and her old face was haggard. One lens of her spectacles was shattered. She smiled at John and sat down. Mr Van Rynevelder emerged from the house. Tall but stooped, also a haggard face, at least seventy. He shuffled forward and shook John’s hand. Khaki shirt with baggy old trousers of indeterminate colour. They sat down, the two old people looking at John expectantly.

He was a geologist? Oh yes, did he know Dr de Klerk? They spoke in Afrikaans with a thick accent that John remembered from the train drivers on the West Rand where he had grown up.
“Dr de Klerk was my boss at Water Affairs, well, eintlik was hy die groot baas. I worked at Water Affairs for 35 years man, I started there in 1950”.
Dit was nou die direkteur, ne Willie?” said his wife, “die oubaas, hy het Stellenbosch toe gegaan?”
Ja vrou, dis hy”.
They smiled at John “are you from Water Affairs?”
No, John was not, they nodded silently as he explained his problem, an old mine. No, Mr van Rynevelder did not know of any old mine hereabouts, though the meneer was welcome to walk around the plot, but there was no old mine, that’s for sure. But Meneer du Toit, now Meneer du Toit was an educated man who had grown up in these parts, Meneer du Toit would be able to help him.

And then there was the question of the road. They peered at his map. “Waar is ons nou, laat ons kyk, dit moet nou die huis wees, hierso. Man this map is old, the road has changed, Ja vrou, onthou jy die ou pad het nie so naarby die huis gekom nie, heirdie kaart is uit”. They gazed at the map, tracing out the old road with shaking fingers. A young black woman had appeared behind them and was taking in the washing. Barefoot, but otherwise dressed somewhat better than Mrs van Rynevelder. Mrs van Rynevelder had got up and was peering past the garage across the veld to the dry river, where had the old road gone? She shaded her eyes with her hand and seemed sturdy from behind. The Dobermans had collapsed in their long-legged way in the shade of the stoep.

Mr van Rynevelder got up and went into the house to phone Meneer du Toit. Mrs van Rynevelder smiled at John, “Wil jy nie n biekie koffie drink meneer?”
Nie dankie mevrou
John could hear the old man inside
“…Ek sal hom na jou toe stuur…”

He was to go and see Meneer du Toit, who would definitely be able to help.
Baie dankie Meneer, baie dankie Mevrou”, as usual John felt overwhelmed by their friendliness. They saw him to the gate, “Nie dis a plesier meneer, ek hoop jy gaan hom kry, Meneer du Toit sal weet”.

John climbed slowly into his bakkie and drove up the track to the dirt road. As he swung onto the road he looked back and could just see the farmhouse through the trees. He felt a part of the future, and of everything that was coming to destroy the world that the van Rynevelders had built. And he felt that that was right. But he could not judge them, how could he do that?

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Its interesting how ‘royal’ the American presidency is. I guess this is because of the constitutional arrangement under which the President represents the nation in a way that the political bosses of few other western democracies do. Other countries have a politician temporarily in charge, but the “Head of State” is someone else – a figurehead President or a figurehead king or queen. That figurehead is the embodiment of the nation, above politics (but unfortunately not above scandal, at least in the UK). The US has no such arrangement – the President is everything.

The other big reason is that the president is popularly elected. He is not chosen by a few members of the party elite. The President personally runs for the office, in direct elections at both the primary and general level. Finally, I guess, the fact that the position is the head of the most powerful country in the world, adds the last frission of excitement to and about the individual.

Hence the extraordinary popular influence wielded by the President. The famous “I hate broccoli” comment by the first Bush, for example, which led to a near-collapse of the broccoli industry in the US. One simply cannot imagine anyone giving a damn whether or not the prime ministers of most other democracies liked broccoli. Or know the names of their pets. Hence also the extraordinary focus on the First Lady and the First Family in general. Their likes and dislikes, their fashion sense, etc etc. One also sees it in the popular mythologizing of the office of the president in general – take a look at the most recent National Treasure movie as an example.

It is also apparent in the extraordinary focus on the “character” of the person running for President. And of course this is a tough one, because its so subjective, open to attack and innuendo, and available always to the side willing to play the dirtiest game.

And that is why I think there is something ‘royal’ about American Presidents. Its an elective royalty. They are treated more like Kings, during their period in office, than like mere politicians, an ironic outcome for an election process that is far more directly and popularly democratic than any other high office in the world.

The question of just how much power an American President has is also interesting. Clearly he has a lot. Certainly in foreign policy, and as head of the military. In domestic affairs though there are all those famous checks and balances. Unless the President controls both Houses of Congress, and that is rare, he is really quite limited in what he can do. Big reforms are pretty well impossible. Even when he does control both houses, he still has to negotiate with the individual senators and congressman of his own party. There is no party whip to bring them into line. The prime minister of a parliamentary government, with a solid majority in parliament, has vastly more power, and can carry out the kind of substantial national agenda that an American President can only dream of.

In addition, of course, is the fact that most of the legislation that actually affects people’s daily lives in the US takes place at state level. And much of the US constitution is devoted to limiting the power of the federal government over the states.

The Media

Its has been interesting to watch the media turn on Obama after he lost Ohio and Texas. Before that they were crowning him (and before that they were crowning Clinton). Now its all Clinton again, and President Clinton’s remark about his wife having to win both big states now seems like another example of his extraordinary political skill. Never mind the fact that Clinton actually seems to have lost Texas, once the caucus results are taken into account. That is irrelevant, no-one cares because no-one knows. The big impact was the initial apparent win, and later corrections don’t change anything.

So now Obama can do nothing right, and Clinton is being talked about as the most likely nominee. Again, the fact that she actually has fewer delegates seems irrelevant.

These wild mood swings of the press drive home to me why the campaign’s spin doctors are so important, and why the campaigns find it so important to control the media agenda. The media (or the story) is like an unstable juggernaut, hurtling off at any moment in the direction of its most recent shove. Success in American politics is all about controlling that juggernaut. There is plenty of thoughtful and careful reporting, but it is overwhelmed by the breathless and non-stop nature of the TV coverage.

Clever of Clinton to be throwing out all these broad hints of a combined ticket with Obama. Somehow no-one imagines that she would take the VP spot. He is the younger, less experienced person, he has a future, very likely, as President, he would be formidable in 8 years time, with 8 years as VP to address the most telling argument against him, she could be too old in 8 years, etc etc. So I guess she calculates that most people would see the “dream ticket” as rationally and logically being headed by herself, not the other way round. She also knows that the Democratic Party won’t want to lose the new voters created by the enthusiasm for Obama. And she knows very well that she probably can’t win without getting the super-delegates to negate the result of the elected delegates, if not probably the popular vote.

Democracy is an extraordinary and powerful system. I would personally have voted for John Howard in the Australian election, but now that the Rudd government has taken office, I can see that a new team was indeed needed. The voters got it right. And look at the strength of the candidates that the American system has thrown up. Both Obama and Clinton would do a great job, and on the Republican side, McCain is clearly an acceptable alternative, a decent person of proven worth. But I must say that the system threw up a lemon with Bush junior. It was that second election win that really stunned the world. To elect him the first time was forgivable (and he lost the popular vote anyway). But a second time, after the Iraq war, that was unpardonable.

One positive so far is that the deep end of the cultural wars seems to be largely absent from the campaigns. McCain is not a social conservative, I don’t think. Maybe all that will still come. Even Huckabee, I think, while obviously he would hold all those opinions, appeared to be running mostly as an economic populist, rather than as a social conservative.

Broadly, as regards economics, I am what they call in the USA, a conservative. Capitalism produces wealth. But. Lots of people miss out, and so you need a regulated capitalism. In this modern world I think that is un-arguable. Its all about the degree of regulation. And when it comes to the current US election, as regards capitalism, the only question is the degree of regulation – contrary to what the wilder so-called right wing TV networks will tell you.

Despite being an economic conservative, I am generally on the side of the Democrats in US elections (not that that makes any difference). This is mainly because I am absolutely repulsed by the religious fundamentalist and socially conservative side of the Republican Party. Good economic policy is one thing, theocracy is quite another. And given that the economic left wing of American politics is still somewhat to the right of the right wing in most other democracies, I don’t see great dangers for capitalism in the Democratic Party. If anything, to avoid the ghastly but probably unlikely possibility of the US becoming like Brazil, probably needs the intervention of the Democrats every now and again to make sure the whole system is not just too weighted in favour of the rich.

Bias on TV

I have not seen enough American TV to be too dogmatic here. But certainly both CNN and MSNBC appear to be reasonably balanced, though there is a show on the latter that is an outright left wing opinion piece. Fox, while claiming to be balanced, can’t really be serious about that, because it is very strongly right wing. There is no particular show on Fox that is right wing, the whole station is just strongly and blatantly right wing. I would not have a problem with that if they weren’t claiming at the same time to be “fair and balanced”. I saw a portion of one show which the presenter claimed was the “Spin-free Zone”. Quite funny really, because it spun so hard I got dizzy watching it.


Friday, June 15, 2007

What Happened that Night in Toronto

A waiter emerged ashen-faced from the swing doors to the kitchen. “The cook”, he said, “the cook!”.
I looked up from my book and hesitated. As an infrequent visitor to Toronto, I was not sure of the etiquette in this situation. The waiter’s white uniform was splashed in blood, but I figured he could have been on the meat-cutting side. I noticed he held a knife, a big butcher’s knife, so clearly he was on the meat-cutting side and nothing unusual was going on. Then my eyes drifted across to the couple at the next table, who were staring at the waiter with open mouths, their forks half way up (his actually, hers was stabbing down).

Perhaps they were also visitors, but either way they certainly considered the situation to be unusual, perhaps even abnormal.

“What about the cook, my good man?” I asked, feeling that someone had to take the initiative.
“He’s gone and sliced up Freddy, that’s what”. The waiter stared across at me as if I should have known that.
“I see”, I said, “and who is the cook?”
“I’m the cook”, he said, and I noticed that this was true, as he was wearing one of those absurd chef’s hats. Certainly he was a cook, whether he was the cook I could not tell.

At this point a large man in a black suit walked rapidly past me and hit the cook in the stomach, quite hard. I watched carefully as he dragged the man back through the swing doors into the kitchen. He re-emerged in a minute and walked up to my table. I sat down so as to minimize the available stomach area, but he seemed more concerned with the state of my meal. When I had assured him that all was well, that in fact the steak had been superb, he smiled in relief, as if that had been his chief concern, and started to move away.

“Ahem”, I said, “could you tell me who Freddy is, or was?”
He stopped and looked back rather crossly. “Freddy was a pig, a real pig”, he said, “but that’s all done now, the main thing is that you enjoyed your steak”.

This seemed reasonable, but something still nagged at me. The couple at the next table were frantically waving for their bill, and I noticed that a good many of the other customers had departed. Could this be some sort of a slaughter house, where Canadians could experience the frission of murder with their meal, but felt it politic to leave very quickly after the main event?

The large man in the black suit was walking slowly across to the till, where the last few diners were rapidly paying up. I still wanted a coffee, and indeed had been hoping for some cheese and a glass of port, so felt disinclined to leave just then. However Freddy’s fate was pertinent, very pertinent. I decided to push my luck just a little bit, and take a peek behind those swing doors.

I could not see Freddy, when I peeked in after tiptoeing across from my table. I could see the cook, on the ground and feeling around for his chef’s hat. There seemed to be an enormous amount of blood around, splashed here and there on the floors and walls, but possibly that was normal in Canadian kitchens. I heard a step behind me and turned round. The large man in the black suit sighed and hit me in the stomach, quite hard.

My memory blurs a little at that point. I do remember feeling glad that I had not had the coffee, cheese and port after all, as those ingredients added to the steak in my stomach would have had far-reaching consequences. As it was I felt decidedly queasy when I pulled myself back together. It was ages since anyone had hit me in the stomach. In fact I could not remember when last that had happened. One gets so soft in middle age.

I was sitting on a wooden bench in a freezer room. It was festooned with frozen carcasses, and it occurred to me that one of them might be Freddy, and indeed that one of them could well be me, soon. This disturbing thought was tracking through my brain when the door opened, letting in the sound of a spirited party underway in the next room. My old friend the large man in the black suit entered.

He walked over and sat down heavily on the bench next to me. “Nothing but parties in this goddam place”, he said, “mind if I smoke?”
“Not at all”, I murmured.
“Every day, day after day, you’d think they would all grow up.” He sighed again. “Not that I mind really, enjoy a good party from time to time, but not everyone can keep it up like they do. Take Ringwalt, for example, a bit like you he is, always wanting to know about Freddy. Stuff Freddy, he’s a real pig.”
“Was”, I corrected.
“Is, was and will be forever”, he snapped.

I did not want to antagonize the man, who was clearly mad. I did though feel that a drink and some convivial company would be just right at this point.
“Why don’t you introduce me to the host?”, I asked, “let’s go have a drink, and forget your woes for a while”.
“Alright, alright”, he said, “just let me finish my smoke, they don’t mind”, waving at the hanging carcasses.

The party was cheerfully warm after the freezer next door. No sign of carcasses or blood, though it did turn out that the host’s name was Freddy. “You got sliced today?” I asked, making small talk after being introduced.
“Get sliced everyday, very good for the heart they say. Have a drink”. Freddy had an unobjectionably but unquestionably porcine appearance. He filled the room with a sort of vast cheerfulness that clearly annoyed the large man in the black suit, who muttered excuses and moved away as soon as he had introduced me.

“I like to get really focused, you know”, said Freddy, “getting sliced helps, it sort of puts in place the priorities, sort of lets you know what’s real, you know what I mean?”.
“Certainly”, I said, “what’s real, that’s important”.
“Have another drink”, he said. The room was swaying to a bouncy number by Bob Dylan, and contained an eclectic collection of partying men and woman, all, I noticed, with slightly porcine features. I began to wonder whether I should look in the mirror.

Freddy drifted off and I found myself talking to a beautiful redhead with only the slightest hint of a snout.
“Delia, darling”, she said, “and you must be some joe.”
“Not everyone’s cup of tea”, I said, “but yes, approximately right, just wandered in for the party.”
“Ha”, she said, “wandered in or beaten in through the swing doors, no doubt.” I admitted this. She winked, “so are all the best”. There was a pause. “So Freddy owns the restaurant does he?”, I asked.
“Oh that’s amusing” she said, “Freddy just uses it to get sliced. Anyway, have you been sliced? Can’t say I recommend it, but I’m old fashioned like that.”

I took this piece of intelligence with me as I moved across to the bar for a re-fill. The cook, now wearing clean clothes, was standing next to the drinks, clutching a hand-held rocket launcher and looking exhausted.

“Tummy OK?” I enquired, as I poured a scotch. He scowled at me, “That’s not funny”, he said, “slicing, punching, cooking, and all this for $15 an hour, now they want blasting, and they’re gonna get it”.
I felt a little concerned at this, as a rocket propelled grenade would be enough to break up the party, and I was just beginning to enjoy myself.
“Why don’t you have a drink”, I invited him, “put down the blasting device just for the moment and consider the extraordinary fact of being alive at this time and place”.
He looked at me in much the same way as one would look at a dog turd, then turned round, lifted his rocket launcher, and fired into the crowd. The back blast just missed me, thank God, but a lot of damage was done to the bar, and most of the bottles were broken.

Luckily the missile missed most of the crowd, finding only Freddy, who disappeared in an ecstatic puff of smoke.

The party was clearly over. I knocked back the remains of my drink and wondered how to thank my host, now that he had been blasted. Everyone was milling around and the party had that confused bustle that happens when the fun is over but no-one quite knows when to leave. My own concern was how to leave, as I was not at all sure how I had got there. I decided to accost the large man in the black suit.
“I want my meal taken care of”, I demanded, “I don’t want to have to pay for it, because it was interrupted, and instead of coffee, cheese and port, I had a punch in the stomach and three free whiskeys”.
He looked at me nervously, “now don’t take it like that” he said, “we try to ensure complete satisfaction, and if everything was not completely satisfactory then certainly the meal is on the house, but you will have to pay for your passage back”.
“Send me the bill”, I snapped, feeling suddenly in charge, and barged through the swing doors to tell a startled roomful of diners that Freddy had been blasted, and that the cook did it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Battle of Manon Darr

I opened my eyes the instant my feet hit the ground and surveyed the scene. As far as drops go I’d say it’s roughly the worst I’d ever seen.

At my reckoning at least half of the units had fallen to the hail of fire we’d received on the way down. My entire unit had fallen, save our captain who was alive, but only support by the large steel beam from our pod that was sticking through him. It would not be long before he’d be with the Emperor. Squatting just outside the cover we’d landed in were the bulk of the Dark Eldar army, I could even see the massive cannons that had done so much damage to our force. But I could see the success of their ambush could not last; my brothers were rising up from the carnage, far more than I could have hoped for, even the ancient dreadnought was rising up out of its tangled wreckage and focusing its massive firepower on the Dark squads in front of him.

I turned my eyes from the carnage in time to see the light fade from my captain’s eyes and a squad of the vile creatures who had killed him sprint toward me over the rocks. I felt the blood lust of vengeance rise up in me and, grabbing the captain’s glowing frost blade, charged head first at my enemies, shredding two with my bolter fire before they even realised I was coming.

My foes fell back at the ferocity of my charge, apparently they haven’t heard of the damage a lone and corned wolf can do. Exploiting their shock, I grabbed the initiative and dived into combat, decapitating the closest elder and blasting the chest of the next to pieces with my bolter. The squad of ten was down now to six and their panic was increasing, clearly escape was on their minds. But the last thing I’d do is let enemies of the emperor run free, so when they turned on their heels and ran, I was ready and skewered two with my frost blade. The final four were out of the range of my sword but met their doom at the hand of my bolter, which made short work of the pitiful armour.

I turned back to the battlefield, which was looking considerably better than the last time I checked. Some of the youthful blood claws had charged in and were making short work of the forward units and I could see the surviving grey hunters and long fangs had set up a steady barrage of fire that was tearing the enemy to pieces. But our numbers are too few and the outcome is far from certain. Excellent, I look forward finding the beast that can kill me, and teaching him to fear the Emperors wrath. I go to make my contribution to this battle.

As I began the march toward the enemy lines, my bolter blazing and my enemies falling, I muttered a prayer; to the Emperor, to Russ, and to Fenris.

Many of the guardsmen I have met have told me tails of these Dark Eldar quivering with fear at the very telling of the story. But the guards are weak and hopeless when without their tanks, so I expected a certain level of exaggeration in their tales. But I did not expect such a great embellishment on the Guards part. These Eldar that I faced were cowards, fleeing from the charge and fire power of just one man, and dieing in their terror, perishing at the holy rounds of my most sacred bolter.

But I see that it is not just from me they flee. Some alien, darker and taller than the rest is coming toward me, the creatures around him flying as quick from him as they are from me. Not an easy win I think. I wonder what he will do, hopefully something interesting, these puny aliens are hopeless for a good fight.

He dances! In a twisting and vile way the creature is beginning to dance, disgusting, but not pointless I see. In time to his dance, four disgusting creatures rise from the ground. The creatures are strange and distorted, containing far too many claws and teeth than should be possible. With luck these four may even scratch my armour.

Now it is my turn to dance, but mine is a dance of sword, gun, and death. When I stop either I shall fall or none of those who oppose me shall live. Into combat I dived, tearing at the creatures as the sprung toward me, ducking their claws and slashing and blasting at everything I could. The first monster died fast, a frost blade in the gut and a bolter round in the head. The second put up more of a fight, slicing a huge rent through my shoulder guard, but losing a head and several arms in the process. The next two charged at me together, tearing great gashes in my armour none of which reached the flesh, thank Russ. I could soon see that we would fight to a standstill if we continued to fight sword and claw. To shorten a long and tiresome fight somewhat I punched a frag grenade down the throat of one and, leaving him to die as the bomb shredded his insides, turned my full attention on the only remaining demon, who soon fell to the bite of my blade.

But my dance was anything but over, and the demon’s master still stood, seething with anger and frozen with shock. Once again disappointed with the weaknesses this army were displaying a lunged forward and punched the oh so fearful alien’s face, sending him flying. It was clear I had angered him enough to get a reasonable response out of him and so prepared for his charge. From his hands extended long and glowing claws, and he took an extremely feline stance before darting forward.

His speed was far greater than anything I had anticipated and I only just managed to avoid him, his claws tearing through my bolter. The cat like way in which he fights is both shocking and deadly in its speed, but though he may be a cat, there is no way he can defeat a wolf. I drew first blood, slicing across his chest and all but destroying the pitiful armour he was wearing. But the next wound is mine. His claws stabbed deep into my armour and ripping up my organs. It seems that my grave too shall be upon this field of death.

Annoyed that I could not last long enough to enjoy the slaughter of the rest of these creatures, I determined to at least destroy this thing that had injured me so. I lunged forward in a slow attack that the alien easily blocked, or would have if he had judged the strength of the attack correctly. My sword sheared through both his blades and down through his head to his heart, the victory was mine.

As my eyes faded I saw that the Dark Eldar were in full flight, it seems that the one I killed was their lord. Pathetic. I could see a group some way away holding their ground and charged determining that they should pay dearly for their bravery.

I muttered to myself the death rights as I charged, knowing my death was inevitable:
“For the glory of the Emperor I Die…”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

anarchy, communist style

During a recent lesson in History, I was taught, in brief, about the workings of the communist state. Prior to this lesson I had little but the most vague ideas of what communism is, and so what I found out came a somewhat of a shock. Bear with me on this rant as I have not got all the facts, and so the argument may be somewhat distorted.

The most shocking idea that I came across was that there was a hope that the leadership needed to bring about the system was expected to fade into nothingness and the people would organise themselves unelected out good will for the society. When I heard this idea I could not help but laugh. The idea while very idealistic and hopeful has no possible practical use in this world. If you look at the wonderful examples that history has provided us with, there has never, anywhere, been a leaderless society. From chieftains to kings, from presidents to dictators, even the church with both a spiritual ruler, the pope, and an all-powerful ruler, God. To imagine a system without a head is essentially picturing a reformed version of anarchy (no rule). If you picture the behaviour of nearly every person in history the chief goal, directly or abstractly, has been to obtain power, and hold it. No leader anywhere has given up without a fight (unless threatened with death, which even then doesn’t always work). People strive to succeed in order to better their personal situation, or their family’s situation, not in order to better a large community of people completely unknown to them who aren’t necessarily doing their part.

To further back up my point let’s look at the actual attempts at communism (or Marxism) that have been made. Firstly in Russia Communism was set in place chiefly through the work of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky. Lenin was the original ruler but he died early and was succeeded by Stalin. Stalin the proceeded to lead the country under an iron fist till his death a few decades later. He was followed by successive leaders, but never the absence of a leader, never the ideal equal society. Following in Russia’s example China became a communist country. Under the leadership of Chairman Mao communism rose and remained in place for a very long time. Once again we can see that there is a leader, not a state of ideal equality.

I could extend my argument much further but it would end up getting repetitive and tiresome, so I’ll leave you with this. Communism, while perhaps being the ideal system, cannot work with the people of this earth, nor, probably, with any that shall follow us.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When A Crocodile Eats The Sun

The book ‘When a Crocodile Eats The Sun’ by Peter Godwin is a fascinating study of a man and his family in a country of complete and utter chaos, Zimbabwe. The Story follows the end of Mr. Godwin’s Fathers life, from a near fatal heart attack to his death. In parallel to his father’s gradual decent in health we see the country of Zimbabwe fall to peaces under the mad reign of an insane tyrant. As someone with no former knowledge of Zimbabwe, present of past, it made a fascinating read.

Peter Godwin is well known reporter and the author of another popular book. With this background in writing he is able to write accurately and minutely about what was happening around him. Though he lived in America for most of the story he still manages to capture the chaos and anguish of Zimbabwe and make the reader understand what the country is like. Peter Godwin’s writing is neat and clear, allowing the book to be easy to read and very entertaining.

For me personally the book gave me a greater understanding of the world, especially on current events, in a format that was gripping and exciting. I recommend ‘When A Crocodile Eats The Sun’ as a must read. For people with an interest in Zimbabwe or simply a wish to read a good book it should be at the top of the list.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Digital Poetry

In todays great world of tech
nature becomes an insignificant speck
the greates scenes in existance
have met with some resistance
when people see skies
the think 'lets digitalise'
instead of enjoying the sun upon a hill
they sit within counterstrike and plot their next kill
but within the world in the screen
not all is pristeen
the bug still thrives
in a different kind of flies
and when their world crashes down
they begin to wonder with a frown
where the sockets where is the power
what coding created the eiffel tower
eventually some begin to see
that a screen is no match for reality