WHERE’S THE FUN GONE? – Communal Anhedonia?

Have you noticed that people around you appear to be really trying to have fun rather than randomly enjoying themselves in un-constructed ways? A festival here, a show there, a pub gig, a long weekend, a reason to go out, a planned holiday. But its all so constructed and contrived, like the smile on that TV host later reported as having died suddenly of a self inflicted injury.

If what’s on TV is any indication of how so many spend their time (or so we’re told) these sources of TV amusement rely on us seeking vicarious pleasure in someone else’s pain. Programs exposing sloppy home videos to make us laugh at unfortunate people being injured through their own stupidity, ubiquitous reality shows of stressed out chefs ‘tearing up’ instead of ‘plating up’ and DIY junkies flogging themselves like dead horses to win the chance to have their mortgage paid out. Then there’s the slips and embarrassments of the famous. Not that they don’t amuse me sometimes but where has the raw fun gone?

We know communities can suffer en mass the same psychological ups and downs as individuals and that the well-being of communities are severely effected by trauma, violence and those additional often ignored emotional harms perpetrated both from within and without those communities. America is desperately trying to stop the latest ‘down’ caused by their extended invasion of Iraq. Not enough to have annihilated the country over the last 23 years (yes 1991 Gulf War Bush 1) they now have to deal with Jihadist Sunni lunatics rampaging across their newly ‘democratised’ state. If they believe In the completely believable conspiracy theory about their own government setting them and the Sunni Jihadists up they would be even more inclined to be feeling traumatised.

When emotional pain is not caused by the obvious as in war, famine or environmental catastrophe, its much more difficult to recognise, but its no less there. Perhaps we also don’t recognise it when we are a part of a suffering community feeling despair alongside our neighbours. I suppose you’ve picked up the increased media concern and concurrent raised public concern around the numbers of people suffering with depression. The distinction between the medical definition and the understanding of the general population is often chasms apart and we are being educated about what constitutes being sad and what’s a medicatable diagnosis.

Then there’s…….Anhedonia – a distinct lack of pleasure in what are or have been typically enjoyable things to do or share. Anhedonia can be an element of depression. It is also I believe a socially absorbable phenomena, it can be ‘caught’ just as hysteria can be. Anhedonia often gets overlooked amongst more readily acknowledged elements of depression like low self esteem, isolation, irritated mood, or low energy, but can play a huge role in maintaining these other elements because it becomes nearly impossible to find things to do to alleviate those feelings of depression. Leo Tolstoy is believed to have suffered from it, (and probably passed it on through his writing of War and Peace!) and I would like to suggest, on a broader community level anhedonia is increasingly being ‘shared’ by the poor.

The challenge for everyone in being constantly bombarded with the ‘amazing’, the ‘phenomenal’, the ‘awesome’, and dare I say the ‘iconic’ is not to be completely underwhelmed by everything and not to become anhedonic. Things are so often less like their advertised selves and more like a complete con. This challenge is more complete for people with zero ‘disposable income’.

I remember when being asked to complete a form on my financial expenditure there was a section set aside for ‘entertainment’. This might have meant movies, videos, music venues, the costs of holidays or the purchase of a football ticket. None of these things are available to anyone on ‘benefits’ especially if their rent, utilities, transport, food bills and increasing debts are paid. Reason? Zero excess.

So with zero excess ‘entertainment’ means finding amusement in the little things, the crazy guy on the bus, the dog that barks strangely every day when you walk passed his gate to get to that job interview, the time you answer your friends phone with a stupid voice when their granny with dementia calls. With zero excess, reliance on being ‘entertained’ as the working class are has been forcibly removed.

The other thing that has changed is the capacity to measure your experiences against the ones you cant afford. Descriptors have become so far removed from the reality of our experience everything we do becomes mediocre in comparison. Words like awesome used to mean awesome now they just really mean ‘that’s great’, whereas words like ‘great’ just mean ‘sure I’ve seen or heard that one before’. This next example came across my desktop this morning… “Entrepreneur Natalie Archer has a policy of doing three “extraordinary” things each day. For the founder of $8 million strategic advisory firm Bendelta, this might mean watching the sunrise on a morning jog down Bondi Beach or having a meaningful chat with one of her staff……… “If you want an extraordinary life, you have to do extraordinary things.”

If that ‘entrepreneur’ thinks either of those things are ‘extraordinary’ she must have been particularly boring before deciding to change her ways. So having a case of anhedonia could well be causing me to have lost interest in her dull little existence. Or maybe I just don’t carry youths exuberance about such dull shit being described as ‘extraordinary’. Then again perhaps her belief that she is telling anyone anything other than she is rich because she does the extraordinary and only the mundane are poor!

More annoying than believing a jog in Bondi as the sunrise is ‘extraordinary’ (which it probably is if you have to get a bus from Punchbowl to do it,) is that talking to your employees is something out of the ordinary! Perhaps it is! Perhaps I am wrong and this is the real reason people are feeling depressed they have no connections to their work or their colleagues or their boss, or indeed they have none of the above. I think the person who wrote that drivel and the millionaire strategic adviser they wrote about are both very underwhelming and have had more than enough of my time and are distracting me and my community of the great unwashed unemployed from our anhedonia.

I will leave you with a quote from Tolstoy about those who do not appear to suffer from anhedonia and who live off the work of others:

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.

Headings, shorts and comments -The downfall of real communication?

Hizb ut-Tahrir member’s speech at Festival of Dangerous Ideas is pulled by Sydney Opera House amid flood of online protest

………A Sydney-based Muslim speaker whose planned lecture on “honour” killings was cancelled by the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night in the wake of public outcry does not believe the barbaric murders of women are justified, organisers say.

The St James Ethics Centre arranged the lecture called “Honour killings are morally justified” for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August. It was to be delivered by the public face of Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, Uthman Badar, but quickly provoked a flood of angry comments on Twitter and the Opera House Facebook page.

The executive director of the centre, Simon Longstaff AO, said people had not read beyond the title of the lecture, which was intended to be a discussion about how honour is used as a justification for a range of acts, including going to war and murder.

“Uthman’s view is that no form of vigilante killing is justified,” Longstaff said.

“So while honour killings are not what he believes in, he does believe there is a context in which this does happen and where those people believe they are justified.

“We wanted to begin having a conversation about these killings, which should never happen and yet the fact is, there are societies that allow it to. We wanted to examine how that is the case.”…………………………………


Facebook and twitter responses are nothing if not predictable. Their message is usually brief by virtue of the medium and public interest is fickle remaining only as long as the tweeting respondents commitment to the issue.

If we don’t talk about things like this our ignorance will continue to exceed our awareness. We are not the font of all knowledge. None of us knows everything, but we would all be guilty of comment from anassumed superior position of ethics or cultural supremacy. The belief in the ‘civilised’ nature our education and our history is the highest error.

Someone responded on facebook saying that entertaining the discussion at all was “like entertaining discussing murdering children!” as if there is some highbrow moral position about not talking about killing people. Humans kill other humans daily, children, women and men. This happens either directly through murder and war or indirectly through funding murder and war or eating more than our share.

Discussion that exposes us to tribal and cultural rationales we are unaware of, or beliefs that concern themselves with killing to retain family  honour should not be stopped by the Opera House fear of stupid tweets.

Uthman believes “hysteria has done its job” and that it has.

What if we pay you to go back where you came from?

Remember in 2002 when the Howard government offered detainees in our state of the art detention facilities $2000 to go back to Iran and Afghanistan?

Always short of ideas and policies of his own, Abbott has revitalised the concept, considered inflation and taken the offer to up to five times the 2002 amount (not a bad increase in just 12 years). Now we hear http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-offers-iraqi-asylum-seekers-6k-to-return-home-20140624-3aqsh.html  the Abbott government is offering Iraqi and Syrian asylum seekers up to $10,000 to return to the warzones they fled.

In 2002……

“Woomera’s Afghan detainees signed a pact to reject a repatriation deal between the Howard government and the Karzai administration in Kabul. Under the agreement, refugees who fled Afghanistan’s war, repression and poverty are now threatened with forcible return. The Howard government, which is determined to exclude nearly all Afghani refugees, has declared that it will deport those who do not accept an offer of $A2,000 and a flight to Afghanistan.

Returning Afghans would be at risk of their lives in a country where US-led military forces continue to bomb and kill civilians in the name of the “global war on terrorism.” Basic infrastructure has been devastated and ethnic conflict and persecution continues. Canberra’s hypocrisy is exposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s warning to Australian citizens not to visit Afghanistan because of the extreme dangers posed by the country’s ongoing conflicts.” https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2002/07/refu-j10.html

Yet the Age informs us that “just last week Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced $5 million in assistance to support Iraqis fleeing the country.” No information was made available about what that money was intended to do.

Obviously it wasn’t to help them pay smugglers so they had some chance of avoiding a probable more than 10 years stint in a refugee camp awaiting the improbable assistance of UNHCR

So what advice would the Department of Foreign affairs give to anyone thinking of travelling to Syria?

Advice             Issue date              Region                Alert Level

Syria 13/05/2014 Middle East Do not travel

and for good measure, here’s the current DFAT warning for Iraq

Iraq 24/06/2014 Middle East Do not travel


We have a saying that explains the dilemma this ‘offer’ puts the refugees in… “Caught between the Devil and the deep Blue Sea”

In Arabic the saying goes something like… “The choice between death and ……..lose everything and die” ….seems more apt as the deep blue sea got them here in the first place.

Consciousness or Oblivion?

The web based news outlet ‘Truth-out’ has recently reported on the call from Chilean Australians for extradition back to Chile of former DINA agent Adriana Rivas, who has been living in Australia for “36 years, despite knowledge of her participation in the crimes committed at the Chilean torture and extermination centre known as Cuartel Simon Bolivar – the place where no one got out alive..”

The article raises issues I have raised in this blog about sanitising and reinventing history to suit political propaganda interests. The article jolted my memory of Pinochet’s 1995 TV quote “The only way to solve problems is olvido (oblivion). If day after day we are always returning to the same point, we will continue fighting. Forget it, do not talk more about the issue, then you will forget and I will forget.”

This “forgeting” suited the Pinochet dictatorship by allowing them to continue to present themselves as saviours of Chile from Allende’s Marxist hell. Those who lived the struggle and were so close they could smell the dictator’s weapons of treachery and death like so many of the Chilean people who chose NOT to forget the torture, murder and disappearances remember them in terms of the struggle for justice. http://truth-out.org/news/item/24401-chilean-australians-clamor-for-the-extradition-to-chile-of-former-dina-agent-adriana-rivas

It is said that the victors write history.

This is now being challenged and our capacity for understanding can be matched by the plethora of information available to us but we have to choose this more difficult way. There is opportunity to choose conscious reflection over Pinochet’s ‘oblivion’ and government aided ‘forgetting’ to secure the survival of social truths in history. We are being challenged by very powerful propaganda machinery and can choose to dig deeper, to ignore or to question and challenge the information we are fed.

This does not mean ‘unfriending’ people who think differently or sticking with those who think like we do. It doesn’t mean blindly accepting the pap we are served. It means talking to the wise, the elders, those who were there, those who have something to offer, listening to our children and our grandparents and listening across cultures and time.

Communities that are fair, alive and creative are those that are conscious and aware, not insular communities that actively pursue ‘forgetting’ or deliberately ignore complex problems and ‘the bad stuff’ on their way to oblivion.

Muerte al olvidola verdad abraza la Conciencia (Death to Oblivion- Truth Embraces Consciousness)



Israel: We’re the moderates, We’re the Victims, We show restraint


|Published June 20, 2014

The kidnapping and the Israeli military operation – in numbers

Since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers from a hitchhiking stop in the West Bank on June 12, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces has been operating all over the Palestinian territories, in Areas A, B and C. The following list attempts to provide some basic statistics on the toll it has been exacting. While Israeli media is portraying the operation as highly restrained, these numbers show the deep effect it has on the Palestinian population as of June 20, 2014. *Some numbers provided are estimates due to the difficulty in confirming exact numbers.

Number of kidnapped Israeli teenagers: 3

Number of days since operation began: 7

Number of Palestinians arrested: 388

Of them, number associated with Hamas: 240

Of them, the number released in 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange: 55

Number of indictments filed against them thus far: 0

Number of Palestinians killed: 2

Number of Palestinians wounded: Dozens

In critical condition: 1

Number of Israeli soldiers wounded: 1

Number of troops deployed to Hebron: At least 2,000

Number of residents of the city of Hebron under total lockdown:  200,000

Number of Israelis living in Hebron: 800

Number of houses raided throughout West Bank: Thousands

Number of locations/institutions raided: 1,150

Number of rockets fired from Gaza: 16

Number of Israelis wounded: 0

Structures damaged: 1

Number of Israeli air strikes on Gaza: At least 15

Number of Palestinians wounded: At least 7

Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Palestinian Prisoners Club, Haaretz, Walla, Ma’an News Agency, Associated Press, New York Times, International Middle East Media Center

Also see; http://972mag.com/when-israeli-soldiers-provoke-and-react-palestinians-die/92419/


This movie is brilliant.

It manages to paint the pains of occupation and the complexities of human relationships in a setting hardly anyone can really imagine. Occupied Palestine.

The lives of the young characters who can see a life and a future despite their imposed prisons are portrayed in all their facets- friendships, young love, trust, jealousy, betrayal, courage, fear, loss, it is a story worthy of Shakespeare.

The Director,  Hany Abu Assad should be proud of this achievement.

If you get a chance GO SEE!

You will be enthralled, it has everything.

The lead, Omar is played by Adam Bakri he is fabulous and truly enigmatic. The movie has it all, his Juliet, Nadia (Leem Lubany), the apartheid West Bank Wall (played by itself except for shots of Omar scrambling over the top as Israel permitted the Palestinian filmmakers to shoot the wall, but not the top -a fake wall had to be built for those scenes) the Israeli agent Rami (Waleed Zuaiter) – an all Palestinian cast and crew. The talent is there.

Zuaiter and Abu-Assad want to create a Palestinian studio system—recruit and train actors, directors, writers—and finance more features.  Zuaiter and his brothers recently formed Z Bros, a production company to fund Palestinian cinema, he believes ‘Palestinian stories must engage non-Palestinians. The theme has to be more important than the background.’ This film IS engaging and the background compelling.

GO SEE………………………………..



V8's   F18  Tank and V8 Driver

What do the above photo’s have in common with these below?

15        220px-Prince_Mohammed_bin_Naif_bin_Abdulaziz_2013-01-16_(2)        Al-NousRats

Answer at end of  post


Yesterday I went to the V8 Supercars race in Darwin…………….

I know I don’t have to justify my actions to anyone but myself so this is how I did that –

  1. It was free.
  2. I was happy to experience the ‘show’.
  3. I can get a mild thrill from the roar of the engines and the smell of high octane.
  4. I am still intrigued by people and the shit that goes down in the name of entertainment.

It was windy, it was dusty it was fun to be doing something different –

People everywhere sported newly purchased ‘merchandise’, mostly t-shirts with corporate logo’s and flags.

Food and drink were, as expected extortionately priced but hey……we get that. There seemed to be more overweight people in one place than I had seen for a while and they all wanted to stand in front of us with the excuse of holding a camera with a large lens.

The media play throughout was enlightening, an attractive young female presenter played on the age old ‘I’m just a gorgeous dumb chick with no understanding about cars’ trick and won first prize for when she asked a male driver…. “There’s a girl driving isn’t there? How do you think the girl driver will go driving in this ….there is one driving I hear?”

The woman driving was I believe Danica Patrick and worse has been said about her this year in her chosen sport …..And Richard Petty did not back away from his controversial comment a few days earlier that Patrick would only win a Sprint Cup race “if everybody else stayed home”.
Petty said his remark had not been sexist but that “if her name had been Danny nobody would have said anything”.
“I’m not sexist. I love women,” Petty said.
“I believe in not being particularly political correct. To be political correct I’d have to lie to myself, and I’m not going to do it… What I said is what I said, and that is what I believe.” http://www.motoring.com.au/news/motorsport-a-clearer-picture-on-v8-supercar-tv-future-41721

……(and if it wasn’t Danica it says more that I could not find out who it was after a good time searching). But what do I say when my gender is being trashed by its own? Sexism is very alive.

Next of course we have the fly-over, the boys and bigger toys – The F18. It is incredible. It is no doubt clever to manoeuvre in that way and we all know the enticement associated with ‘top gun’ – Power and sex again go together the noise is deafening the story of the refuelling mid-air fascinating and the amount of fuel for today’s event $ ?

Then I remember my relatives……..refugees…………bombed out of their homes, the sound of that plane overhead must be the sound of death for so many. Meanwhile in Australia we laugh, we are in awe, we are so far away from this pain and yet we forget we are the US best friend? Holding hands with NATO in Benghaz, prepared to go back to Iraq and the there’s Afghanistan.

Then I remember the tanks in the entry area, why were they there?  No idea.

The commentator had a brief interlude with one of the army guys, back from Afghanistan………something about girls get down there and being like Cher across the tank gun, the innuendo’s about size of the large shells parked beside the tank, their capability and what fun it must be on practice runs in outback NT…………….I am getting more ill by the minute.

Next year………….. drones?

We can laugh about how they can take people out without even getting out of your chair, that will be hilarious. We can have them pepper spray drunk aboriginals who get aggressive when in town. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/20/pepper-spray-drone-offered-south-african-mines-strike-control

Perhaps I am droll, no fun and a downer for others who just want to enjoy without feeling responsibility, and who just want to ignore the awful shit about our complicity in wars far from home and in deaths of towel-heads in foreign lands. Who don’t see themselves as tacit supporters and silent collaborators of corporate greed and stealth across the nations of the Middle East.

We all play with their oil and their proximity to ports and pipelines, we love the big engines. We blame the people we bomb and kill for their Islamic difference their support for dictators, their ‘civil’ wars, we call them on their attitudes to women and ignorance of democratic ways. We value our freedom…………………….to be sexist, (in our own way), extravagant (with knowledge our resources are limited), vote (for people who will all back the corporates over us), open our doors to the US (military and spy networks) and all without question or reflection…….

Don’t we?


Oh yes, the Answer:

So what do the photos  have in common?

They are all less than two steps from  war.