Monday, March 12, 2018

What is a nation

In modern times, every human being is part of a nation. Well, nearly everyone, some nations have been eradicated, and have created 'stateless' people like Palestinians, Rohingya and many, many more. Although migration still happens a lot, most people 'belong' to a nation by virtue of birth.

Nations have been the attempt to unite a variety of tribes as a larger military unit. Unless you would call tribes nation as well. The indigenous people talk about more than 600 nations which existed on this continent before the First Fleet arrived. While I live on Wurundjeri land, it's said to be a part of the Kulin Nation, spanning across south-east Victoria.

Just like Europe has a variety of languages, Australia had lots of them. Language unites a nation or tribe, while at same time dividing them. Unless a tribe is really isolated, speaking more than one language seems the norm. If common language and culture signifies the existence of a 'nation', Australia truly hosted an abundance of them.

Today, 230 years after the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, only the nation "Australia" with an interesting variation of British English as uniting language exists on this large continent. Just like when fascist groups were on the rise in Germany in the late 1980s, and I wondered what "being German" means, I ask myself now what "being Australian" means.

According to the citizenship test, knowing cricket legends is essential. Which seems very arbitrary. Like the idea to teach "Australian values" in school. Unfortunately, that means it'll take about five to ten years before anyone being properly schooled in Australian values can represent them in the work force, management and politics.

Until then, the same greedy, corrupt, self-interested, narcissistic bunch of people "in power" continue to ruin this continent for everyone. Currently, the "Australian values" as being exemplified by the so-called leaders, look like this: Rort the system for your pleasure, ignore human rights, lie as needed, evade taxes by off-shore investments, blame someone else.

Usually, national values transfer by assimilation. Parents need to explain in some way why this is a holiday, and Santa doesn't bring presents. "Listen, kid, Lan Hancock got lucky in finding some good places to mine. He promoted genocide to protect his mines from respecting some of the oldest stone paintings on this planet. This made some of us filthy rich. The rest has the Herald Sun to know what to get angry about. Eat your lamb and watch us getting pissed."

Okay, I'm a bit cynical here. As a traveller, I met many humans from different origins. Our cultural inheritance comes as baggage we can't really get rid of. As long as we don't mistake it as integral part of our identity, there's no harm to it. We do get educated to defend it as fierce as our own characteristics though.

A nation represents a meme, with "nationhood" as memeplex. The enemy within, government, directs the attention to the enemy it claims to fight. The boundless plains of Australia, unlike Europe, know no internal borders. Hence anyone unwanted turned into an enemy. Until the 1960s, indigenous Australians were legally part of fauna.

So the "official" Australian values evolved from "We're not Abos!" to "We're not Wogs!" to "We're not Muslims" to "We're not Africans!". Honkey dory, who would have thought. Would someone, please, think about the Lamington?

Australia has the richest history on the entire planet. Oral tradition starts here. If people tell stories, then it began here. The law of the land is much more forgiving than the maritime law infecting this continent. But if you don't care for the land, don't expect the land to care for you. Money can't buy you love.

Unsurprisingly, the national narrative neglects the indigenous perspective. History starts with Cook "discovering" a continent with the longest continuous culture on this planet. The natives withered away, never bothered being disowned and killed. The colonial perks of raping, enslaving and killing indigenous people lives on in a strong culture of domestic violence. One nation, under the Queen, still lives the colonial dream, a nightmare for most of us.

The co-existence of many nations brought conflict with it. The options of conquest and genocide haven't been used. The different cultures still shared a common understanding. The modern concept of nation imposes an artificial common meme on its members. On the search for cultural identity, people accept national stereotypes as part of their identity.

The customs of the tribe describe its culture. For nations, it's the combination of food and booze preferences, combined with the favourite sport. The way we enjoy life plays an essential role in creating the national illusion. It's the carrot for the national herd, and "they" threaten to take it away from "all of us". It distracts from the stick, coming as fines, fees, permits, taxes and rules to make life difficult.

Nations scam its users just life insurance does. You're just meant to pay for the benefit of others.

Saturday, January 06, 2018


After I joined the ".. .." team,
it felt like a surreal dream.
Working for the solution,
maintaining human evolution.

But in the general absence of care,
rampant denial of responsibility
despite apparent acts of stupidity,
it all turned into a silly nightmare.

Pointing out the hypocrisy
in the obvious discrepancy
between noble words and foolish action
turned out be an unwanted distraction.

So I can only put my trust into the land,
as another of my stories comes to an end.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Natural growth

I spend some time today pruning back pea vines, burying potato plants with homemade compost, and giving plants I want to have a bit more space to expand into. There's still some dirt under my fingernails, as I don't wear gloves, not sure how much I'm affected by leaves of a datura plant rubbing my sweaty skin.

Officially, autumn has begun here. Yet Melbourne has its own seasons, frost not happening and causing trouble. While the days are getting shorter, and nights cold enough for a good night's sleep, no rain means only the strongest plants survive without care.

Geraniums and Vietnamese Mint seem most thirsty, happy to give the tomatoes some special treatment. I slowly get a hang of the variety of ways plants grow, which parts we use, how to train them, how to prune them. I hardly ever used compost from our plastic compost bins, instead harvested the bottom layer of our green manure box for dark, worm crawling soil.

My houso build some trellis for our tomatoes in the back yard, the front yard ones got some height from one of my sculptures, and then used the neighbouring rosemary as support. The first time I harvested tomatoes from the back yard I had ample supply for weeks (low demand still), but the vigorous way of its growth demands good guidance for plenty of harvest.

The patterns of growth vary. The shrubs, pineapple sage, rosemary, yarrow, grow strong once established. I had dozens of parsleys plants, competing and going to seed prematurely. The mustard grew too dense and attracted fungus. The mint captured some edges, competing with the succulents. I cut them back in favour of the mint.

The succulents show an amazing resilience. The gifted pallet planter box/ bench combination didn't really work for any herbs, the succulents are thriving. Some of weedy ones even flower, and would provide a simple low maintenance green cover for neglected patches of soil. Anyone can propagate succulents, especially those tending to grow fast.

The creepy-crawler kind of plants pose a different problem. We have an amazing green cover for our front fence made of some peas. Plants using support by the environment instead of growing a strong support don't always treat their mates nicely. Ivy conquers slow and steady. Peas seem unstoppable in strangling whichever plant their tentacles reach.

'My' side of the fence looks a bit bare after I cut back the peas, yet the smaller brugmansia plant showed an abundance of pink flowers after being disentangled. Fighting back survivalists like grasses, vines and prickly plants like raspberry takes some effort, but without 'natural selection' by human hand evolution goes in different directions.

I feel inspired by the idea of permaculture. Using compatible diversity to create low-maintenance, high yield patches. Honestly, I feel like lightyears away. I still feel like I learned an awful lot within two years of tending a tiny patch, maybe about 4 square metres.

Leafy greens totally outpaced my knowledge how to keep them healthy, productive and not seeding prematurely. While I missed out on parsley, swiss chard and mustard, at least compared to my ambitious expectations, I learned a valuable lesson how less is more. Mustard and parsley produce a prolific amount of seeds, which I spread deliberately and generously. Overcrowding happened, plants went into seeding mood, others went as food for fungi.

Some parts of the patch seem to be thriving enough to stay for good. Comfrey and mint seem hard to get rid of, but might need some water to establish for good. Rosemary seems indestructible once established, even with little to none additional watering. Yarrow and peppino thrive on warmth and watering, although yarrow seems happily to wait a while to grow strong once it has good view to the sun.

I introduced the most persistent weed myself: a native raspberry. It's root system has captured a decent spot in the patch. I'm well aware that whenever I pull its obvious growth above the surface its roots live on. It would be tempting to train it along one of my sculptures, but it takes plenty of attention to keep it where it should be.

Potatoes blow my mind. Last year, the yield wasn't too good (maybe the best plant was harvested by neighbours). So I found out that burying the plant in soil should produce more tubers. I planted some gone off potatoes from the pantry, as deep as possible. Once the green parts grew out, I buried them in soil, mulch and/or compost.

They share the planter box with some hot chillies. So far, only four out of eight of them survived in there, at least two of them flowering. They are not really companion plants, so I have to wait and see whether I'll get some chilli and some potatoes. If I pile more soil on the potatoes, it will bury the chillies, one plant is already half submerged.

Some of the soil came from the green manure compost, started about two years ago. About 5 to 10 cm of rich, black compost, thriving with worms has collected at the very bottom of the box used for it. Every now and then I use a shovel to break down the dried plant matter a bit more to ease decomposition.

I didn't fertilise the patch much. Besides maybe 2 litres of worm juice, and the same amount of carp fertiliser, only the comfrey leaves contributed to keep the soil rich. Plus a few mouse corpses. And random things like tea, hibiscus flowers, coffee sludge and other foods. In other words, I have no idea why the plants continue thriving.

It's hard to tell how much work this patch needs to stay healthy and somehow productive. Pruning tomatoes kept me busy in the last weeks, and during the long hot summer watering was essential. It feels mostly relaxing, and the details I encounter reward me lots. The variety of shades of green, the elegant scarlet pineapple sage flowers and the passion flower vine trained around the wooden arch provide me with simple entertainment and peace of mind in times of stress.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Solar food dryer

Gardening has become my new hobby since I found a nice place to reside in. My housemate loves gardening, too, and organises our backyard a bit more systematically than I do with my own patch in front of a warehouse.

Last year we had more tomatoes than we could eat, and the herbs from the front yard might be harvested much more if I had a decent option to dry them. When I saw clips for building solar dryer, I got hooked on the idea, as it utilises some clever principles, and needs to energy input.

A solar dryer consists of a well insulated heating element, a drying compartment and a chimney as air outlet. The heating element consists of stacks of connected cans, painted black and fitted into a small box with a glass or perspex pane. The suns heats the cans, which hopefully start air convection inside, the heated air rises, holes in the bottom allow cold air to be sucked in. The heating element connects to the top of the drying compartment.

If there's material to dry, the warm air sucks the moisture out of it, gets heavier and sinks to the bottom. The outlet on the bottom connects to a chimney on the back, where the temperature differential should allow it to rise again, permitting constant airflow through the drying section.

I found some window panes today, potentially the most expensive part when bought instead of reused. In a household which loves a drink or to, empty cans will naturally accumulate, which means all I need to find/source is some timber and some MDF maybe.

My first draft for the can stack is pretty simple, I removed the bottoms of the cans, made little winglets with a tin snip on the top, used duct tape to keep it together and spray painted the lot in black. I can fit 6, maybe even 7 of those stacks behind the pane, and luckily the height fits 6 can on top of each other nicely.

At the moment, the first stack bakes in the noon sun. I want to test whether duct tape suffices a tight, durable seal. Besides heat, there will be no physical stresses once the heating element is put together.
However, if the tape comes loose after a while, it would mean disassembling a box potentially tightly sealed with silicone to fix it.

While the first stack is constructed a bit sloppy, the air gains about 10-12ª celsius while passing through it. No idea whether this will increase or decrease when I have 6 or 7 of them in parallel, or how much this depends on the outside temperature.

I'm a bit torn whether I want to have a go at the downward draft design, which might need the chimney part going quite far up to pull the moist air out. Which means I have to continue building this thing to figure out whether adding moisture to air will facilitate the airflow. Doh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Happy days

A new week started. I forgot/forgave the confrontations of last week, cured the hangover from a nice party and the frustration about being snubbed by the last tram by lazing out. Inspired by listening about Whole Body Intelligence I promised myself to manifest an abundant week.

Keizo the cat woke me up around 6am. He hasn't spend many nights in my room, so I let him in and went back to sleep. Unlike many other days, I felt energised and happy to get up and find out what surprises the day holds. I focussed my intention on compassion, honesty and openness.

Despite the lousy weather, I went on a walk to check out a bizarre piece of street art for myself. (In case you wonder, it's a dildo and bottle of tomato sauce hanging over a power line in the manner of a pair of shoes).

On my way back home, I found out that some paid work is waiting for me. Despite the slow business, the working week starts usually at least half a day later than in most places trying to make money. If my boss wouldn't complain so much about financial problems, I wouldn't mind a slow start. I just don't think that neglecting business works to increase sales.

The kitchen had deteriorated into a mess, and despite not really liking cleaning it, my surprising happiness helped to offer doing it. After all, I probably would get paid, and it makes the work space more inviting. After an event this weekend, main priority was to get the prepping area back into a state which allows us to sell our goods.

I must have done this dozens of times, creating order out of chaos, transforming an obstacle course into open work spaces where it's easy and safe to move around. It wouldn't be rocket science to keep the place in working order, but after events it looks often like a bomb exploded and spread everything randomly around.

It took a while to get it back into shape, but I also noticed my boss being in one of his angry moods. 90s rock music often acts as reliable indicator for potential conflict. Dismayed by the unnecessary chaos, which subverts our idea of sustainability and being part of the solution, my balance on a high declined slowly.

Many clashes happened between me and my mate acting as boss, so I can easily analyse some of the skewed perceptions which allow for easy escalation. Like a well set mouse trap, he is triggered easily. One main trigger is miscommunication, mainly my inability to read his thoughts. Anger goes together with impatience, creating quite a vicious circle. If I don't react straight away, anger escalation happens. 

As an empath, I try to avoid hanging around people emanating anger or hate. In a state of openness, my chemistry synchronises with the people around me. This makes hanging out with supportive, loving and caring people extremely pleasurable. It's much less fun when people lose their shit and direct it towards me.

I carried lots of anger with me, until I started working more on myself and noticed many undesirable pattern in me. My body remembers enough angry confrontations to provide me with some default reactions. I learned to walk away from confrontation, but I can run with my rage as well. Whenever I do, I notice quite acute how toxic anger is. Depending on the intensity of conflict, it can easily take some hours or up to a good night's sleep to breath this detrimental cocktail out of my system.

So when I couldn't keep up with a change of my bosses mind, which happened in less than 15 minutes and wasn't communicated, I got shouted at and returned it in the same coin. I still feel the chemicals going together with anger reverberating in me. Being aware that empathy primed me to reactivate old, bad habits could have prevented escalation. 

What started as an unusual nice day turned into another day wasted in useless fights with my boss. At the moment, I can't just walk away from the job, unless I find a way to successfully promote my own business. I'm just more determined to listen more to my body not to lose my grounding the next time with a similar constellation. 

While my intention to convert the game of life into a fun game didn't manifest today, I will continue this process for at a week, before I file it as 'learning experience'. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

Prison of abstraction

Buckminster Fuller once stated: "I seem to be a verb". Indeed, human existence seems more like a process than anything static. Reducing anyone to a label doesn't do justice to the many aspects of actions, expressions and interactions happening on a daily basis. While extremely popular in our attention deficient time, I consider it an extremely bad habit.

One class of labels linked to this detrimental habit describe races. So far, talking about races contributed a lot to division, hatred and interspecies violence. From a biological point of view only one human race exists. While genetics indicate certain heritages, our common genetic similarity doesn't allow meaningful statements about 'race'.

Something banal and rather unimportant, the colour of skin, is traditionally used to distinguish races, but just like phrenology, it looks like a pretty useless attempt in understanding human diversity. On a social level, however, arbitrarily defining races has proven to maintain systems of domination and oppression easily.

Since a determined group of pink-skinned people started conquering the world new shades of skin colour emerged. Nevertheless, there's still many millions of pink humans around. No other group of non pink skinned people was so successful in destroying other ethnicities, and to assume positions of power around the globe. The sun never set in the former British Empire, not too long ago we had a largely 'white' planet.

In Australia, the disdain for the non-pink skinned part of the human species went so far to define the indigenous population as part of the native flora and fauna. During most parts of the 20th century the 'White Australia' policy took care that non pink skinned wouldn't come here, and crimes against the original population were dealt with as property damage, if it all.

So basically Australia could serve as perfect example for a 'white' culture, as she had the longest exposure to a systematic approach to maintain 'whiteness'. As I grew up in Europe, I have a bias towards cultural snobism, and often smiled at the idea of fledgling nations like US or Australia of having an original culture at all.

We always soak up the culture we grow up in, a natural survival mechanism for any social being. Rules, values and norms of our culture seem natural, those of other cultures often bizarre, absurd and threatening. Media and travel allow for easier exposure to different cultural standards than our own, but usually don't offer insights useful for someone migrating into a different culture as adults.

I spend my formative years of cultural programming in a german culture. We have quite a history of 'whiteness' and racial discrimination, and this idea became again popular in my early 20s. Neonazis defined themselves by hating everyone not adapting to their idea of 'german culture', and spend a lot of time inventing stories about groups of people they most likely had little to no personal experience with.

The main quarrel neonazis had with foreigners was their lack of adapting/assimilating to being german. Yet they couldn't really explain what this 'being german' entails. If their behaviour indicated what they expected to assimilate to, I didn't want to have any of it. Germany itself has quite a variety of distinct cultural regions itself, diverging to a degree of speaking so different dialects of the same language that communication could be cumbersome.

Nazis usually claim that their national culture represents 'white' culture, no matter whether they are British, Ukrainian, German or Australian. Only tiny remnants of indigenous Europe have survived the imperial and colonial ambitions of the past. While parts of it may have become part of the national culture which replaced indigenous culture, European cultures seem imposed opposed to mutually evolved.

The same applies actually for 'black cultures' or 'asian cultures'. In Australia, the more than 500 cultures which existed prior to the British invasion, share some bits while differing drastically in others. Luckily, a live and let live attitude seems a commonality among most cultures, which allows for a constructive exchange of useful ideas across abstract cultural borders, and prevent them from violently enforcing their way of life unto others.

Every living thing changes, on an individual as well as on a collective level. 'Cultural stability' exists only as concept, the speed and amount of change determine how obvious this process becomes. People oblivious to the essential fact of life in this universe tend to take the short-cut in defining their own culture mainly as 'not them', instead of finding a positive definition.

Yet especially the cultures of pink skinned people encompass the meme of being 'better' more than others, the British Empire, Nazi Germany and the US empire serve as relatively recent examples. The global reach of these imperial ambition might have easily infected other cultures. Interspecies violence happens rarely on this planet, the human race certainly excels in it.

The genocide of the original people of Australia, for example, affected not one culture, but hundreds. The utter lack of empathy and respect for human life becomes apparent by the simple fact that the 'white' culture as perpetrators didn't even bother much to distinguish between the many cultures being destroyed.

Of course, with the intention to take over the land of others, enslave, rape or kill them comes no obligation to take exact records of your victims or their culture. It sounds less horrifying if one people was subjected to genocide, if it's hundreds the evil spirit of the invasion becomes blatantly apparent. The same applies for the take over of the North American continent, which in nationalistic view of history created the myth of preemptive warfare.

In a way, while many different people in the North America or Australia were subjected to genocide, it wasn't a genocide towards "native Americans" or "Aborigines". What happened in the Americas, in Africa, large parts of Asia and Australia was a multigenocide. English people happily summarised a variety of divergent culture into an umbrella term like "Aboriginal" to disguise their mass killings of many, many cultures.

Empires want to dominate - that's what the Romans did, what the Ottomans, what the English did and currently the Americans do. Empires violently unite formerly different culture under the imperial umbrella, and lose count of the cultures eradicated and assimilated. It doesn't matter how many culture existed on a territory, once the empire claims it, it dictates its history.

While it's easy for an empire to incite the local population to do their bidding to commit genocide by hijacking mass media to spread their poisonous ideas, it's hard if not impossible to find a successful grass root movement wanting to kill their neighbours and former friends. The majority of people I know have never killed anyone, out of thousands of people I met there's probably less than a handful which actually took another human's life. It's just not in our nature to be an in-species killer. How many people do you personally know which took another human's life?

So it takes someone/something to unite a specific culture behind the idea to get rid of a specific group of people (like the Israeli government promoting the Palestinian genocide), and to kill them. The good old times, when empires could declare entire continents like America, Africa and Australia free for the taking are over by now.

The 30 or so European nations have already quenched most semblance of the hundreds of cultures which existed on the European continent a millennium or two ago. The 'white cultures' in Australia or in the North America have never been indigenous. There's neither a singular 'white culture' existing right now (although Disney worked hard to create this illusion), nor any 'non-white' empire with the might to take on all the countries pink-skinned people have taken command of.

While the idea of 'white genocide' isn't the biggest bullshit I ever witnessed, it's pretty close to the Flat Earth meme. It just makes only little sense if you want to connect observable facts in a coherent manner. There's no unified 'white culture' around on this planet, there's no empire militarily empire capable of taking on all pale-skinned people living, especially in their European homelands.

In the meantime, I'd rather take side with Chechnyans, Kurdish, Palestinian, Papuan people, with indigenous people in North America, Australia, Africa and Asia currently endangered of being wiped out. There are some 'white' cultures endangered, Roma, Sinti and Sami represent some ancient 'white' cultures on the brink of genocide in their homelands.

I appreciate cultural diversity, especially as I haven't encountered any culture yet which insisted in harming me for visiting it. Even those identifying with other cultural backgrounds than my own have treated me respectfully (besides maybe those wearing uniforms belonging to the British/US empire, and the small of amount of dickheads existing among the human race). I totally accept that some people with different cultural background and skin colour might put me in the box of 'white male', yet I totally fail to identify as potential victim of 'white genocide'.

Despite the fact that our genetic heritage unites us as human race, I'm more than happy to discuss the meme of 'white genocide' with anyone who considers this rant as much bullshit as I consider this meme. I consider myself human in first place, feel free to convince me that my skin colour is more important.