benicek: (sunset)
If you are on Dream Width I have started duplicating this blog there. Just look for benicek. 
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Twitter

2/5/09 09:45
benicek: (Default)
I'm experimenting with Twitter. Are any of my readers using it? If so, please add me. My Twitter name is, predictably, benicek.
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benicek: (Default)
I've been having a heated email religious debate with a Swedish Lutheran priest. At one point I referred to God as 'imaginary' which, understandably, she found alienating. I later sent her these thoughts, describing some of my arguments with the indomitable [livejournal.com profile] thudpucker  :

Thinking about my 'imaginary' remark earlier. Doesn't religious debate always run into this problem, that there comes a point at which one is forced to abandon being polite in order to be honest? I mean, at some point I have to describe gods as 'imaginary' because that is my honest belief, but in doing so I have to use a term which could also imply mental illness or an infantile grasp of reality. Of course I use it knowing full well that it is loaded and hope that the sting will be absorbed harmlessly. Likewise, I know that if I have an honest conversation with a fundamentalist they're at some point going to have to tell me that I'm damned to hell, along with my whole family. It stings a bit, but what option do they have if I want their honest viewpoint? None really.

There is a libertarian American that I debate with quite a lot on my and his livejournal sites. I find most of his political views verge on some sort of anarchist, militarist fascism. I actually HATE his political views. But we agreed a while back not to take any of this personally, and that essentially we both believe in general human well-being, just by totally different means. He is better at controlling his emotions than me. Once he told me to stop arguing about state health care because I was getting too angry. We're still friends though. I like him. I even posted a bottle of beer to him once. Tolerance requires effort but it is possible and fruitful, don't you think? :)

benicek: (Default)


Magda is a clever young Romanian woman I've been conversing with on the internet for years. She and her friends recently embarked on a quest, armed only with backpacks and small tents and without credit cards, to travel from their home town in the east of Romania to the northernmost tip of western Europe, Nordkapp in the far north of Norway. As close to the North Pole as they could get, basically (and back again), relying only on public transport, the kindness of passing motorists and their feet. She has just written up this experience, in English and lavishly illustrated with photos, on this blog.

I'm a little bit envious I must admit. Travelling the length of Norway is something I've always wanted to do. I almost went there on a student exchange in 2007, but then the baby came along and spoiled everything. It also makes me nostalgic for my own slightly anxious interrailing trip around Europe as a naive teenager in 1993. Trying to see Europe without spending money and largely clueless about what I was seeing. Magda and her friends luckily live in the internet era and had done some background research. She seems to have had a good crew with her too, whereas I had my oddball (pot, kettle, black, I know) school friend Peter. Peter was not unpleasant, but he wouldn't go into any historic building willingly, which was a bit tedious in places like Florence. I'm amazed at how clean and tidy Magda and co. appear to have remained, despite camping in fields, sleeping on buses and walking for tens of kilometres along empty highways with their backs (at night). Probably they just possess an innate stylishness which I don't. Funny to read of the whole backpacking experience from the perspective of young women, having to fend off the often comedic attempts of various males to befriend them. Romanians seem to look after their own too, at least abroad. They bumped into a fellow-countryman in the street in Bergen and he immediately took them all out for beers. Being British wouldn't be half as advantageous.

My favourite part is when they finally reach the tip of Nordkapp (above) and find a little cairn with a shrine-like box on top of it, a sort of geocache, containing a visitors book. The blog shows them each signing it solemnly. I can't help noticing that a previous visitor has left a Czech numberplate sticker inside the box. Damn, those Czechs get everywhere.

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Change

2/9/08 08:07
benicek: (Default)
I know a number of single women in their 30s and 40s. Some with children, some without. I hope they will forgive me for this, but I can't help noticing that they've all started to sound like Barack Obama. They're dissatisfied and it's time for change. Yes, change. Everything's got to change. It can't go on like this. Change is what is needed. Some sort of unspecified change. And when that's changed, another change. Details to be worked out shortly. Watch this space, because change IS coming. Oh yes. Not sure what it is yet, but it will.

My cousin once stated his theory that "every woman over 30 and still single is a nutter, without exception." He must have found an exception because I learn from his blog that he is marrying her, but it's an interesting theory nevertheless.

Come to think of it, some of the older single men I know do have milder forms of the Obama disease too. They stay content for longer periods, but 'change' lurks at the backs of their minds. They'll make a nest for a while but then it all goes stale or sour. There's always that ideal career or lifestyle at the end of the rainbow. I was like this.

Married people with children don't seem to get Obama syndrome. Change is thrust upon us by our kids or (worse) each other, unsought. External change, like moving house or job is stressful and expensive and avoided if possible. There are too many people too accommodate (literally). Even holidays are a trial. We desire reliable routine. Food that the baby won't reject. Unbroken periods of sleep. Hobbies and interests that don't terminally conflict. If we achieve any of these we're quite pleased with ourselves.
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Tinky

13/7/06 17:17
benicek: (Default)
I am addicted to the new livejournal of an ancient Australian classmate of mine [livejournal.com profile] tinkytyler. I haven't seen him in the flesh since 1986 and I had not heard his voice either until he unexpectedly called my on Skype the other day from Guangdong, China, where he has just started teaching English. I tracked him down via the wonder of the internet a couple of years ago.

The private British school in Hong Kong we both attended was, well, a pretty damned exciting and privileged melting pot to grow up in (just to eliminate any confusion here, I am a white English and [livejournal.com profile] tinkytyler is white Australian). Possibly not as useful as it could have been; a more concerted attempt to teach us Cantonese would have been useful, but we were being groomed for universities in the UK and USA not, odd as this may sound, life in the city or continent we actually inhabited.

Anyway I remember [livejournal.com profile] tinkytyler as the 15 year old class golden boy (no joke). A great wit; articulate and well read to a level I reached only in my twenties; intimidating when the ocassion demanded it. He was popular with the teachers for his brains, popular with us because he was a benevolent natural leader, so far removed in behaviour from those aggressive bullshitters who THOUGHT they were natural leaders. I was shy and socially awkward and, damn it, I confess I did idolise him a bit.

I think I've embarrassed him enough now.

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