Thursday, December 29, 2011

Daydreamers rockin' lab-coats

In keeping with the character of this blog, it is once again time for me to pretend to have enough wisdom to dabble in philosophy.

Today we take a swipe at the current crop of leading scientists. Judging by recent newspapers, today's scientists are occupied with various multi-billion-dollar research activities. Everybody associates research with progress, but any right-thinking person would be disheartened at the research being undertaken by these expensively-educated lab-coat wearing geeks.

I hereby apply my liberty of expression to declare their research projects "Vain Imaginations." They all fail to consider our core question for the day: WHAT IS LIFE? Read on and consider my meaning.

Vain Imagination #1: The search in Outer Space for habitable planets

Humans, well, we know ourselves. We have this our planet Earth. Say we discovered another planet out there that was actually habitable (we haven't), and we could somehow relocate masses of humans to inhabit it (we can't). What ludicrous thinking informs us that we will manage Planet New any better than we can manage Planet Earth? Keeping in mind pollution, overpopulation, wars, etc; why would anyone think exporting death is any way to begin life afresh on a new planet? Our convenient consumerist lifestyle does not promote life, not with all its waste and inefficiency. We pillage from nature more than we give back to it, as evidenced in the global decline of forest cover, spread of global warming, ever-sprawling concrete jungle, petroleum fumes choking our cities, capitalism toasting greedily to profit.

What is life? Poisoning another planet will only expose how much we don't know about it.

Vain Imagination #2: The Hadron Collider - trying to recreate 'Big Bang Conditions'
First of all, what Big Bang?

Secondly, the details of this venture raises even more questions. One of the Hadron Collider's chief objectives is to find evidence of one of six basic sub-atomic building blocks which make up the entire universe. The question logically follows: how did they know to name a sub-atomic particle whose existence they had no concrete evidence of? Jumped the gun, did they?

Alright, I admit having no expertise in microscopic things. But if Hadron Collider succeeds in discovering the particle, we've always had it amidst us all along and were no worse in our ignorance; if it backfires, there's probably no market for used Hadron Colliders except for the scrap yard. What a waste.

WHAT IS LIFE? We won't find that out by colliding subatomic particles at light speed. (Is that what scientists attend instead of demolition derby?)

Vain Imagination #3: Attempts to fuse Robotics with Biology

Most notoriously, certain scientists extracted the neurons of rats and arrayed them into a "biological brain" of some sort. As though that weren't nutty enough, they go and connect this so-called brain to a robot via Bluetooth. Now they sit around with their clipboards ready to record what it will do.

At this stage, all sorts of hard questions present themselves in the form of moral and logical pitfalls.

First, is this robot a rat?

Despite appearances to the contrary, robots are dead things - in early primary school we were taught to make distinction between living and non-living things. Rat neurons on the other hand are living cells. What 'communications' would they have with each other VIA BLUETOOTH? Humor me as I propose that a sane living rat, with all it faculties intact, would not know what to do with a robot if it saw one. Robots generally do not feature in rat dwellings.

Consider the little matter of identity. Is there any chance that surgically excised neurons of various rats, combined into some sort of brain, would eventually identify that they constitute a record-breaking first robot with a biological brain? Already they say it is displaying multiple personalities. HA.

And since when did automatons need biological brains of their own?

And isn't it more likely that rat neurons find live rats to be their preferred working conditions?

How does the robot decode and respond to the specialized syntax of rat instincts? Or were the 'instinctual parts of the brain' left out of this one?

And how do the scientists differentiate dead neurons soaking in a nutrient bath with live ones?

Here is an artificially constructed brain, nourished on life support, for purposes of running a robot for tests, otherwise dead. The concept is a rare sort of horrible. (Spare me if I'm confused. I dropped Biology in Form Two.)

WHAT IS LIFE? Whatever it is, one suspects it has no compromise with death.


If I may say so myself, I find these research projects useless. If you ask me, they are headed exactly nowhere. And they burn major holes in our collective human race pockets. The billions of dollars poured into these projects could have been far better used, for far more humane purposes, with far greater impact. I should have added 'Vain Imagination #4: nuclear weapons' to that list above, but hippies, activists and tree-huggers have made noise and cried about nukes since Hiroshima/Nagasaki - and no one who can do anything significant about it has listened.

What is life? Life, which we experience without fully understanding, comes exclusively from the Most High GOD, the Creator of heaven and earth. By His power all things exist, and by His love and mercy are all things sustained. He alone gives life. No amount of human research can ever replicate or overrule His work.

Close the labs and go home. Life is a miracle.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The end of a thing

After half a night of sleep, I went off early in the morning in search of The Ex. I wanted to avoid finding her at her home on her own turf. To this end I chose my foolproof method, a favorite of late - waylaying her by suddenly dropping into view from atop a tree as she passed near it.

It was a long wait. I had a long time to reconsider my intent, and nearly went back to bed. Trees accept no liability for damages sustained by sleepy climbers who begin to doze in branches. But I stayed on the branch, watching birds to pass time.

At last, The Ex walked into view, resplendent in a simple outfit (and leso), setting my heart racing. Eagerly I leaped to the ground. I startled her by so appearing. This, added to the fact that we were not on talking terms, naturally meant that her salutations were frosty.

"Get a job or something!" she spat.

"I've wronged you many times," I gushed, like one reciting a poem he could forget halfway through, "Trust me, I'm very sorry. Please forgive me."

The subsequent look of shock on The Ex indicated that my apology was entirely unforeseen. She thought about it for a while and finally stuttered, "Me too... I'm sorry."

And then her gaze became quizzical as the full meaning of those words sank. The same wonder had struck me dumb when I first began to see how straightforward everything became after an admission of guilt.

There. That was the best way out of our impasse; the end of the thing.

Of course I wanted to believe that the silence and sustained eye-to-eye that followed was more meaningful than a mutual sigh of relief, but I couldn't afford such confusion so early in the morning. I was lucky enough to have my "many wrongs" written off without scrutiny or analysis. Don't push it, said my instinct. So, while this our tactical rapprochement was still freshly baked, I briskly turned homeward to catch the rest of my sleep.

It was all over. Unless perhaps Jennifer would go and betray our secret, and then the outrage thereof might follow me into romantic retirement. But this prospect wasn't too nightmarish in the light of a free clean break from the past, an all-purpose get-out-of-jail-free card for all "bad things," whatever they were, known and unknown. Conversely, I was affording The Ex as much in the spirit of "live and let live" - no questions asked, no mention of Brian, no obligation to make up with me.

The whole fiasco made one thing abundantly clear (dear readers you've all heard this one before): I was too green for a relationship. Hell, I still lived under my mum's roof, while others were moving into their own houses and warming them. Scandalous!

Nevertheless, while that snag remains unresolved, single lifestyle dogma, bachelor-power creed and survivalist literature will have to occupy my time until the outlook improves. In the meantime, soccer and swimming will suffice. Plus a thick skin.

Luckily, new reggae is released every day. It helps make life a celebration, if you hear me correctly.

Moody rock will be the end of us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mirror Effect

Anger propels rash reaction. Hot blood deters judgment. Truly, one who lets fury lead him or her is not prudent. And now if only such shining insights would come BEFORE the deed is already done.

"Housewarming" with Jennifer was a dizzying escapade. Its spontaneity was the biggest thrill factor. She's quite attractive besides being one charged-up live wire.

Later, she fell asleep, but I for some reason I couldn't. So I held her and stared into darkness, idly feeling how her heartbeat and mine went in and out of sync. Oddly fascinating.

While Jennifer slept soundly, I had a lot of time to review my situation.

It slowly dawned on me clear as day that my fling with Jennifer was not justified by my anger at The Ex, nor even by how much fun it was. Two wrongs don't make a right. All excitement faded rapidly at that point.

I must have sighed or whispered curses when the truth sank.

"You're awake!" exclaimed Jennifer suddenly. "What's on your mind?"
"Not much. Same old drama."
She calculated it like a mercenary. "Look, she's screwing Bryophyta; you're screwing someone else. Whichever way you argue it we're having more fun than them. Quietly-quietly." Laughter.
"Right." Flatly.

Silence. I began to return to thoughts.

"Okay, I can't see you in darkness, but guilt is not a good look on you."
"Guilt? This is just the face I was born with." I was lying.
"Right." Sarcasm.

She fell asleep again. My unhappy thoughts returned.

Much later, she woke up with "You're still awake! Are you uncomfortable?"
"I'm alright."
"No, something's bothering you."
"Okay, listen. You like rock but I subsist exclusively on reggae, so us can't work."
"Ha! Us is just a secret. Enemies with benefits, remember?" 
Oblique speech gave way to zealous action. It worked a dream. Once satiated, she fell asleep and left me to my contemplations.

I realized in the subsequent silence that as far as The Ex was concerned, I had no right to play victim any more. If she was guilty of anything, now I was guilty of something similar too. Merely that my latest offence was unknown to her didn't make me any better. I had reasoned that because her evil deed was very bad, my lesser evil was better. As if the ranking mattered.

And what about Jennifer? A comparably faulty moral relativity guided her."We're having more fun than them. Quietly-quietly," she had said, perhaps in jest.

Probably the only person who wasn't deluded in all our midst was the much maligned Bryophyta. He was purely in it for the getting it would bring him, simple. There were no complicated justifications for him, no convoluted revenge, nothing on his end to prove. Otherwise, we were all mad, all the rest of us. It was a painful realization.

I left before Jennifer next awoke. It was a tricky business, departing from her arms with the least possible turbulence, but it was doable. Or more likely, she simply let me go.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Late Night Texting

That The Ex was dating my old enemy Bryophyta seemed to already have become old news to everyone but myself. News that I had discovered that The Ex was dating my long time enemy was the part that was bound to cause a stir among our mutual circle of friends.

The rumor mill I'm a relevant part of generally comes alive at night, usually when I'm gazing into darkness from the comfort of my bed, wondering for sleep. But this particular night, when the grapevine's floodgates burst, I was the only guest at the "housewarming party" of Jennifer's newly rented house. She had only recently moved into her own place. There was no party in any conventional sense. My host was in my arms, I in hers.

Along came a text to me, and others. Oldfangled group-text preliminary information prefaced it.
This outburst shed rare light on events of the day. It seemed our friends had been giving The Ex hell over her choice of Bryophyta over me. I was willing enough to respect her wishes and not reply, even though my feelings towards The Ex were still raw, and nasty wisecracks were within easy formulation. But she had directed her rage at others besides myself. The avalanche of irreverent retorts via group-texts did not delay.

David: "Earth to Antony... earth to Antony, do you read..."
Jennifer: "Sm1 deal wd dat plz tony?!"
She was right next to me, so I poked her side. She laughed. The resulting full-scale poke-war-game carried us to and fro across her bed till we fell off it - but I digress.
Sister of The Ex: "Feelings Catchment Control Commission in session tomorrow at 11 at Carol's"
Brother of the Ex: "Dude ain't nothing changed you still owe me a drink."
Myk: "Peace and love in the universe. One love. Hint."
Carol: "FCCC roll call will b took! But Sum1 call Face Police the no. shld b 9-9-anto-9... "
I laughed until it was ridiculous. Jennifer thought I made too much mirth of it, but I needed to laugh. It's some kind of medicine. Then I thought it was time to wrap up the festivities.
Me: "Funny :) Seriously :) To all my FANS xoxo I'm sleeping lol PS get out of her face"
As Jennifer laughed at that, her belly firmed. (I was rubbing it, so I noticed.) My heart warmed at this turn of events. If all was lost with The Ex, it was lost rather nicely, I thought, turning to Jennifer to share the good vibe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It came from Outer Space

Jennifer, the best friend of the Ex, did not like me. She never even bothered to hide it. On my part, I had long ago analyzed our curt exchanges and discovered that we both put on poker-faces before we looked at let alone said anything to one another. That was our highest mutual courtesy.

We met at the swimming pool. She was in swimsuit, with a towel around her waist. I pulled on my frozen expression and prepared for a cold and very short conversation.

But she was strangely more socially inclined this day. "Are you crazy? Killing yourself for [The Ex]?"
Apparently, she had seen me swimming with a mindset far beyond fitness. She settled down next to me on the concrete, said "Don't take it too hard, she'll come around."

"She can keep Bryophyta if she wants," I said dismissively. "It's an insult!"

Jennifer listened patiently while I ranted and vented. How attentive she was! Or perhaps I had become quite a sight and steam was pouring out my ears at high pressure as emphatic condemnations exploded from my mouth and my hands wagged gestures all over the poolside. A vein also emerges at one side of my forehead while under duress.

I rarely hit the roof in the presence of perceived enemies. This was new. Perhaps I secretly wanted Jennifer to go and gossip to that best friend of hers about the strength of my feeling towards the new developments.

"Now you know how betrayal feels," said Jennifer when I finished.

The silence that followed was oddly comfortable, considering that this was Jennifer, and our interests hardly ever overlapped.

"You've got to teach me how to do butterfly," said Jennifer, after the mood had mellowed somewhat. "Without the madness."

"Right." Now that I allowed myself to smile at her it didn't seem so bad. "You've got to warm up first."

Jennifer immediately dived into the pool and swam to and fro, a powerful front crawl. I was using the time to recover my strength. And observing her lithe movements. And the way her booty cut the surface. It wouldn't be too hard to teach her butterfly. Might even be fun.

The lesson took almost an hour. Perhaps my teaching style was unconventional, but after a shallow introduction to technique, focus shifted irretrievably to rhythm and glide. "Coordinate! Breathe!" I called out repeatedly. When it became too theoretical I demonstrated practically. Eventually, Jennifer was able to cover two lengths of non-stop butterfly stroke. For a first time student, I thought it was splendid and said so. She congratulated herself by whooping and shaking her clenched fists above her head. Her excitement was infectious.

Time froze. There was a ticklish transitory lull as we stood in the shallow end, our chests rising and falling with heavy hyperventilation. A meaningful anticipation hung in the atmosphere. My vision was filled with shapely, full-bodied Jennifer in a wet swim-suit, breathing heavily.

The idea came from outer space. My hands found her waist. "Can you keep a secret?"

Without removing my hands from their comfortable perch, her hands rose to my shoulders, she leaned forward and said in my ear, "Depends what the secret is."

Hypothesis: our still-racing hearts had already given us a head-start of sorts. (Certain scientists say the same hormone - whatsitsname - is released during exercise that is released during an orgasm.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Self-Destructive Tendencies

Talking to Sister of the Ex confirmed that The Ex had chosen my enemy Brian over me. The feeling I felt cannot be called an emotion (it is overqualified to fit that lowly designation.) I couldn't decide what particularly dominated in the following spectrum of emotions: angry, beaten, betrayed, cheated, denied, disappointed, entitled, outsmarted, rejected, suspicious, underrated, wasted. In short, very bad.

Usually, when something vexes my spirit, I too vex my body with sustained cardiovascular horse-work. The way that works, I get so tired that I have to suspend fretting in favor of surviving.

Swimming usually does it well enough - if I do it hard enough. After a long hard run to the pool (not exactly easy running distance), finding that it was empty of mindless, screaming, splashing, floater-besieged directionless kids was great.

I lost count of the number of laps I did - aware only of "chasing my heartbeat" - trying to make it explode with too much cardio. Unfortunately, mental flashback images of Brian and The Ex smiling together only worked to enrage said heart. I would probably never have stopped, because I was getting ever more worked up and going harder with each successive lap. After a significant while, my breathing became very strenuous. Yet the stockpile of heavy emotions I was attempting to burn like fuel had hardly diminished; it solidified front and center of my brain.

Suddenly, everything below my pelvis all the way to my soles clenched into a most rigid sequence of concurrent muscle pulls. I screamed bubbles, nearly drowned, made it to the side of the pool, hauled myself out and struggled to reorient myself. I don't know how long I lay on the concrete poolside panting for my life and mentally railing at myself for chickening out before completing the mission - I could still feel the emotional whipping I had been trying to swim out of my system.

I started groaning. Loudly.

Someone came, stood over my spread-eagled form such that her shadow interfered with my basking, and said "Are you CRAZY?"

I opened my eyes to the highly unwelcome sight of Jennifer, aka Best Friend of The Ex, also the ex of my best friend. Somehow, at the sight of her, I grew ten times more tired. She was here to gloat or else she never talked to me. She hated me. I was indifferent towards her.

"Nice to see you too," I lied, indifferently.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reality Check

Once again I climbed high into a tall leafy tree one sunny midmorning. This time I had mini-books in tow. Nobody even suspected that I was up there, which ensured my peace of mind and total freedom to look unnoticed at others passing by. If that sounds spooky, it happens all the time in the age of CCTV surveillance, so relax.

While I was up there, all kinds of human beings passed by on their way to all kinds of pursuits, and I began to feel like a bit of a relative bum, having climbed a tree on a weekday. Blame it on unemployment. At least I was reading.

And then the most unlikely couple joined the stream of actively engaged breadwinners on their way to more worthwhile pursuits. The Ex was walking besides a dude from our hood named Brian. Now that was odd by itself, but it became macabre in my sight when I factored in Brian's arm possessively girding the waist of The Ex. Obscenity piled upon outrage when I considered that The Ex was my ex and Brian was my enemy and here they were cavorting before my very eyes with flirtatious smiles on their faces.

Granted, they hadn't spotted me.

It took a feat of balance to stay on the tree, and a mighty trick of patience to avoid a melodramatic "gotcha moment", as I watched the couple walk down the lane. Once they were out of my sight, I literally dropped off the tree and ran (yes, ran) to consult the one person who could probably have explained everything. Luckily, Sister of the Ex, my insider in the lair of The Ex, was at their home.

"BRYOPHYTA!? Of all people!" I was breathing fire.
"I've been wondering how to break it to you."
"How long have you been wondering?"
"About a week. I knew you'd take it badly. But at first I thought it was a prank." She was nearly apologetic.
"It's got to be a prank. How could she go for that guy?" I nearly exploded.
"I don't know. People change."
"People?! Him, or her, or both of them?!"
Sister of The Ex shrugged. "Ask her. She only said 'people change'."
"Bollocks! She's only doing it to get at me."

I left their house as suddenly as I came.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

She de tek me for fool

It was late evening. Having decided to be direct and to tackle issues head-on, I called The Ex, who I wanted back. So I said I liked her somewhat strongly and if she liked me back, then we could find a way. (Blame it on my indoctrinating myself in the dogma of bachelor lifestyle.)

She said "I'll get back to you on that one."


Such chase-prolonging tactics happened to be familiar to both of us. We had spent the greater part of our first two years playing them in an alternating "Tag" format. Now you chase, now you evade. If cornered, neither confirm nor deny anything at all. Eventually there was some confusion in turns, and we both chased after each other. Looking back, it had been a big drain on time and energy, besides being a tax on the emotions. Just the thought of another round of cops and robbers, with me starting as the cop, was enough to kill morale.

However, I wasn't going to spend time waiting to be "got back to on that one." I know her well.

Shortly after I'd given up on strategizing battlefield romance formations, and dozed off, Sister of The Ex texted me.

"I shouldn't be telling you this - but those James Bond/Rambo methods of yours will not do it!!! Romeo up."

Privileged information! I replied: "I can't believe you two are gossiping about me :) Outrageous :) So now I sing ballads?"

Sister of The Ex: "Use your imagination! I don't know what she means!!!"

I laughed. Maybe it was my sudden appearance from a tree. Rambo methods indeed.

And now I had a spy too. OR a double agent.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amnesiac vs Interloper

The Ex, by her mere presence, automatically vetoed any pretensions to single-hood that I may have been entertaining. I couldn't even remember deciding to want her back. It had already happened. Besides my missing her vaguely, her mysterious allure had already swallowed me whole as soon as I spotted her from atop a tree. The fact that the Ex seemed comfortable in my presence was a strong boost. Now for the actual reunion.

"Now what's this about I burnt a book?" asked The Ex, eyes wide.

She had to be feigning amnesia. I couldn't believe she was going to make me go through the whole sad story all again. Fortunately, the evidence was nearby. I left, rummaged through my stuff and returned with a half-burnt, half-colored pencil-drawn comic book and handed it to her. Surely she would 'remember' a thing she colored, burnt in spite and returned to owner.

"You kept it?" A hint of nostalgia had entered her tone. She flipped through its pages.

"Call it a souvenir."

Together we flipped through the half-pages, seeing her coloring of my drawing. It was beautiful - if I may say so myself - right up to the charred edges of the burnt pages.

"You made me burn it, you and Anita" she said, matter-of-factly. "This was your fault."

"Rumors," I deflected, strategically. Names of third parties militated against the peace talks' success. But this was also new information to me; at last I could identify some kind of motive for her retrogressive arson. The day she delivered the burnt book she had been too venomously 'sweet' about it to confess jealousy. Revenge was served cold.

A brief silence passed. Then: "How've you been? They tell me you're having a blast."

I wondered what Angela (who calls The Ex "Our Wife") had been telling her. "A boy manages the best he can," I murmured. "Your sources exaggerate the case."

The Ex laughed. "Clarify."

"It's been a real struggle," I claimed, "It's like, subconsciously, I've been looking for another you all this time." It was out! I sighed with relief once I'd signaled intent.

"You don't get to say that," came the reply. "Three years ago, maybe. But I knew this day would come; I told you you'd look for me."

It took me a min to come back down to earth.

"A gal manages the best she can." The Ex giggled, "Luckily I manage pretty well." The way she said it, there were a million ways to interpret that, and none of them gladdening. Then she very carefully rolled up our half-burnt comic book and walked away with it.

I was strangely ambivalent towards whether or not she wanted to finish what she had started by burning the remaining half of our comic. Maybe my primary strategy for winning back the affections of The Ex shouldn't have been to analyze our break-up inside-out.

I had to rethink the whole reunion strategy. Finding out if she was single would constitute prudent preliminary preparation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hit List: Middle East

History repeats itself.

In the days of Cold War, Saddam Hussein (Iraq) used to be an ally of the West in their battle against Iran. The founders of Al Qaeda and Taliban used to be allies of the West as they struggled against communism in Afghanistan. Support from the west to their allies included weapons and training and turning a blind eye to inhumane tactics and dogmatic zeal. The end was supposed to justify the means. They won.

After the Cold War, erstwhile friends of the West were bombed to high noon - for being terrorists.

The War on Terror has become the post Cold War world’s biggest preoccupation. Consider the “Arab Spring,” a series of revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Its ties to the War on Terror seem indirect, but the two events intertwine somewhere down the line.

Following a NATO-backed revolt, Libya’s Gaddafi is dead, and his son is soon likely to be executed at the hands of the new regime under Islamic Sharia law. The Islamist character of this regime has not hindered the West from making strategic oil deals. But the Islamists best remember that the West knows no permanent allies; only permanent interests.

Elsewhere in Egypt, it’s back to Tahrir Square as the Egyptian masses revolt to remove a military council from power, having successfully harried Hosni out of office. Word is, the long-banned Islamic Brotherhood is poised to make a resurgence, amassing popular support on the ground, unofficially already a political force to be reckoned with.

Libya and Egypt best remember: the West may support “Islamist” administrations today, but it will never forgive them for “terrorism” or associations thereof. Friends today battle to the death tomorrow, winner takes all. Iran knows this, so Iran dispels with pretenses to “friendship,” and refuses to toe empire’s line. It remains to be` seen how far that strategy will take Ahmedinejad.

History repeats itself.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Neoliberal Cannibals

Because fanaticism is not capable of self-recognition, the principles of delusion and convenience which run the world remain invisible. Oly rose-tinted self referential mirrors obscure the fact that greed propels capitalism. Everyone is naturally inclined to think they are the star of their own show. That show might be a reality TV - horror crossbreed.

The neolieral value-set has permeated all sectors of commerce and industry. While the words "freedom" and "democracy" dominate in policy statements, the Invisible Hand is expected to yield visible improvements, with trickle-down effects to boot. "Nationalize" is a taboo word, "Privatize" is a buzzword. Sustainability does not feature until its time to "trade" carbon emissions.

Many verses in the Bible warn against false gods which neither hear or respond to prayers, yet whose worship demands human sacrifices, bloodletting, prostitution and other degrading variations of soul-selling. Money fits the description chillingly.

If madmen run the planet, it is because money made man mad. If madmen do not run the planet, it is because money runs the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The "tyrant" had his take too

"Recollections of My Life", written by Col. Muammar Gaddafi, April 8, 2011, excerpts:

Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country, to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called "capitalism," but all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer, so, there is no alternative for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following his path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters to work here with us ... I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it. ... In the West, some have called me "mad", "crazy". They know the truth but continue to lie, they know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stakeholders AGM

I have a confession to make. I like climbing trees.

Cool breezes sweep the highest branches, so the shade there is cooler than indoors. And the view from inside the tree is a refreshing change too. There could be a real estate boom in tree-houses if this fact were more widely known. And a real passionate environmental movement. Unfortunately it looks weird to climb trees. Worse, because only snipers behave like this in today's Western movies, tree-climbing is highly suspect behavior, more so in the era of Al Shabaab.

But one day, the branch I was standing on was solid, the grass many feet below was lush, and the shade was cool. After a while spent surveying the landscape, my sights happened upon The Ex and locked on her when she strolled absentmindedly into my field of view.

I was surprised to see her, and vaguely happy.

According to her trajectory, she would be passing near my tree. She hadn't seen me ensconced in foliage, so I briefly considered letting her just walk past on her way to her private undertakings. She was preoccupied enough to pass without incident.

Besides, I was dressed in my full tree-climbing gear, which also doubles as the get-up for totally bumming alone at home all day. But since I wanted to talk to her, I let myself down from my perch and suddenly dropped upright into her presence from not-too-far. She froze affright.

"Hi," I said as I rose slowly from a crouching stance. There was no hug, no handshake, no contact.

"You!" she said as she used up her last traces of shock, "You still climb trees?" The way she said it meant I was behind schedule. 

My explanation? I claimed to have been stalking her for a long time. "You look great. Still swimming?"

She didn't reply that one. Even when we had been together in the past, we were marginally dysfunctional. Our friends thought it was "cute". We didn't.

 "You know, we only meet once a year, and right now could be it." I was drawing my line in the sand. A boy will chase a girl to the end of the world - if he feels the chase is mutually enjoyed. Call it fishing for the occasional positive signal.

The Ex laughed brightly. She thought I was joking, or making things up.

But she humored me. "Alright. But no trees."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Wartime Peace

Survivors remember two thousand and seven,
entering hell having departed for heaven,
paying for assuming they were living among brethren,
dying for believing it's enough to be Kenyan.

Bubbles bulge in real estate
Importers fret over exchange rate
Inflation wreaks its faceless havoc
Satellites in the sky peep and eavesdrop
Pump prices peak nevermore to plunge
terrorists lurk beneath every hedge
Police in the streets patrol and apprehend
darkness dominates broadcast frequencies.
Judges try at home and abroad
Voters converge to voice concerns
Leaders 'consolidate' tribal blocs
Opinion polls aggregate the gist
Victims tire of polythene tents
Survivors remember two thousand and seven.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Everyone’s Star Wars

Conscience is like a cash crop. Watered, it grows. Its fruits are refreshing. Neglected, it withers and dies.

Unfortunately, neglect of conscience is easier than acquiring the humility it takes to maintain conscience. Whenever I am not listening to conscience, then Ego takes center stage.

Now Ego is a bad manager. You know, the boss who takes all the credit, and issues all the orders and generally works very unilaterally, the archetypal despot. “All that is worth doing had better center on me,” says Ego. “The universe does my bidding.” This mindset banishes rational and moral sanity into exile, and government ceases.

Ego is a bad lover. Whereas love is that which seeks to give rather than take away, Ego is a selfish-minded beast out to satiate lust – with the least amount of commitment possible. “No strings attached” is one of Ego’s wildly popular inventions. But there is a reason why when she start playing games he better put that woman first. Why? It’s very rational: if the beef deteriorates into an egoistic tug-of-war, the abundance of casualties will be unbearable even if I win. Ego, the ruthless warlord, cares nothing for me, his mercenary.

Ego is a bad advisor. “You alone are right. You must win,” says Ego, “No one else deserves to!” Thus am I conscripted into my own army, fighting in the war of me against the world, commandeered by Ego. Meanwhile the true war, the great controversy between good and evil, is lost from sight. Civil war seems to have erupted in my sector. For what cause? “Me?”

Ego is easy to obey, being both seductive and gratifying. Conscience is hard to listen to, its brilliant truth is also harsh and piercing. Natural man is easily pleased to pamper ego, even at the danger of destruction, and half-willing to kill conscience, and thus put an end to her hazard warnings, misgivings and inhibitions.

A war wages on every day in every living man’s life: Ego and Conscience campaign for our ballot. Good and Evil are always set before us, choice required on the spot. Ego dangles the carrot and flashes a bribe, while conscience stretches the finger of blame and points to the load of responsibility. In sum, these elections and referenda determine our fate.

{Prov. 5:22} His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

“Good over evil; Life over death”: Let this be your party slogan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth and Fiction

Philosophy can pass for nerdy talk in the age of Big Bang Theory. Philosophers are naturally a slick lot, using hard words to get away with exceedingly annoying levels of abstraction. They will work your wits into a knot with lofty normative edicts . Experiment: pick up any philosophy book and see if page one tickles your fancy.

If your intellectual mettle can withstand and understand the thick tomes philosophers like to publish, you are an academic trooper! The world brands thinkers like you with scholarly titles and distinctions - and thus gets you out of the way. A firebrand once co-opted into the hands of the powers that be is called 'just a torch now'. Ask one PLO Lumumba. In fact, if knowledge was applied indiscriminately (not exploited primarily for profit), the world would be much nicer. But inconvenient information is hid from view until the status quo lets slip otherwise or dictates the correct angle to view it from. But I digress.

The word Philosophy is Greek for "love of knowledge". In order to test this claim among its purported adherents, I took upon my shoulders the task of summarizing, simplifying and testing some noted philosophers' works. It all crumbled to hot air beneath some indelicate interpretation by yours truly.

The Crux of Darwin's Theory of Evolution (for Dummies):

"Your gramps was a worm.
Your dad an ape, your uncle a gorilla,
You're still not finished evolving
So your kids will be more human than you are
likewise their kids after them
So sit back and relax."

I think not. Where there is no knowledge, there is no love of knowledge. Darwin would have flunked my philosophy test. Zero percent. And a warning memo about his GPA.

On to the next philosopher, one Karl Marx, for this quote he would have gotten a patent for were he not preaching communism: "Religion is the opium of the masses."

Opium is illegal today in most jurisdictions. But if once upon a time someone could identify whole populations high on opium, who dare say that person was not their chief spokesman? Not me. It takes one to know one. Marx knew nothing of true heart religion. Besides, what he really was saying is "I need a bigger nastier high called politics. Politics is the crystal meth of the elites. I'm one of the elites too by the way, comrades. I'm a philosopher dammit!" 

Let him stand in the corner with his negative zero percent grade.

Alright now I'm pushing it.

In sum, there's only one complete true and comprehensive philosophy, in plain and accessible language: the Word of God. Check it out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liberal Gratification with Madame Anglais

The English language came to our dark lands riding upon the warships of colonial powers. Or you could say it arrived within the same suspiciously gift-wrapped package as other foreign and erstwhile unheard of 'pestilences' like smallpox and rinderpest (three cheers for the dawn of civilization!) Or you could credit missionaries with finding time to teach it to "natives" - at least when they were not demonstrating to befuddled onlookers the coital position later to be named in their honor. Whichever way, the thing is damn foreign.

I for one strongly believe that this hard fact excuses natives, and all generations of their descendants, who domesticate their English to fit their situation. Slang really is very necessary when first world talk enters third world reality. Don't mind that certain properly mentally colonized persons can't stand mongrel dialects being suffered to mate with pure-bred Queen's English, birthing bastardizations of speech which roll uncomfortably and ungrammatically off the tongue, and, to add insult to injury, colliding harmoniouslessly against them blessed eardrums - only to register nothing in the brain. Total havoc.

In my dictionary, which nobody has pretended to show any willingness to publish yet (surprise of surprises!), foolaroundability is one's natural propensity to forget one's place. For example, this venture of mine, a native proposing to fellow non-English speakers (passed TOEFL? No?) to do with English what they pretty damn well like, demonstrates my excellent grasp of foolaroundability, if I may say so myself. So employ me. Seriously.

Intelligerence: being warlike intelligently. Not, you know, like that native blogger lambasting TOEFL for the fun of it.

Joyancy: when you're so happy you're floating above it all. Seriously, how can "joy" just remain joy when we have "happiness" for happy? They say necessity is the mother of invention. You know, maybe because I'm a native, English avails scant joyancy when I consider all its rules.

If English was a lady, she'd be loose, and a multiracial herd would ever run after her exclaiming 'mama!' even as she hurried off to her next new tryst. Join the bandwagon soon, at least before I threaten to sue some publisher or other, following which my "Highly Flexible English Dictionary for Native Non-English Speakers" hits the shelves and shortly thereafter becomes required reading in all nursery schools and workplaces. Thus shall I make my fortune.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Long time no see straight

Gone are the days when ladies were required to comport themselves with poise while fending off approaches from fervent suitors who bothered to fake a dignified bearing. The 21st century's gat them chasin' that paper - both the ladies and their suitors.

So I had just found a three-year old apology addressed to me. I could have called The Ex: “Hey, remember that drawing book of mine you burnt, way back in 2008? I didn’t know you were sorry but now I know so it’s alright I forgive you.” But I foresaw all the ways that approach could backfire on me.

“Let me go beg her for you now,” offered Angela in a mock Naija accent, when I went to her room many floors above mine to accidentally describe the details of the fix I was in. “After all, she’s our wife.”
A happy couple splitting the work

She seemed to relish the prospect too. I was in luck, considering that I had set my hopes only as low as some good advice (like "Argh, it's been three years, forget about it!") I was all too happy to let Angela make the call. She had been my "lawyer" once in the past, and had done a good job. I think.

As Angela chattered on phone with “Our Ex”, GalPal emerged from nowhere - alright, from an inner room. (Impulsive catching of the breath.) On seeing me, glared daggers. I said hi: "How was rehab? Long time no see straight?" Rolling her eyes, she traipsed over for a spineless handshake. “You know what your problem is?” she said to me as she took a seat, “You’re too nice.” She sneered. "And too slow. Such a turn-off." If I thought my ego was taking damage, she wasn't finished yet. The bombshell: "Do you sometimes obsess about me, Antony? coz I saw your blog."

Angela laughed, betraying that she was no longer on phone. "He has a blog?"

I would have denied that the two had anything to do with my blog, which I didn't even have, but GalPal tore my would-be defense to shreds even before I got to it. "Yeah, in his blog I'm GalPal and you're Angela." She HAD read the blog. Why did I assume it would never be found?!

So I told GalPal rather obliquely that, in my blog, it wasn't her that I obsessed over, it was me.

"But I kinda get it," said GalPal, dismissively, "You like me; but you don't trust me, right? Too bad I don't give a eff!" (Accompanying hand signal.)

I patiently reminded her that she had already given a eff. "One night last semester."

That shut GalPal up, but at great cost. Before she could dream up a retort (tongue-tied by the awesome quickness of my wit as she was), Angela fixed us knowing looks after overhearing the foregoing, smiling like she had swallowed the cat that had been let out of the bag.


Having lost that particular verbal bout, GalPal turned her back on me and got real personal with Angela. Topics of discussion were carefully crafted to exclude me. It became as though I wasn't even there. I think it takes rare skill and a very cold heart to make someone feel like they are not where they actually physically are.
Absent? Present?

And time crawled. My own business with The Ex having been suspended, I couldn't help overhearing whatever else happened to be on the agenda. And they couldn't discuss weaves and high fashion forever. Eventually, GalPal got round to doing what she really came to do, which was apologizing to Angela for stealing her ex-boyfriend (anyone remember QezH?) from her. Strange apology to be making. By all appearances she was being sincere. Still, I nearly choked on a big lump of Incapacity To Believe Her Guts.

According to rules no one has written anywhere but everyone knows, (best) friends do not inherit the exes of (best) friends under any circumstances. It shouldn't matter that the said (best) friends are male or female; bitterness bites nevertheless. Guys just know how to stifle their choking gall better and can thus fake friendship as though it's all cool, when it's really uncool in our heart of hearts and we're waiting with wicked patience for the perfect chance to strike back with cold devastating revenge. Ladies will rub friends forever immediately and/or kill someone same time because that someone is their worst enemy who used to be their best friend. Betrayal brings out our worst inner beast.

Angela said exactly nothing at the end of GalPal's hazard venture. Just stared, blinking regularly. I considered leaving them to their privacy but hey, ringside seat, gimme a break. Besides, they might need a referee anytime now. And it only got more intense because suddenly GalPal cried real tears. And then Angela started crying also, but before she could forgive GalPal, she first unleashed upon her person what Kenyan journalists like to call "a string of epithets." GalPal nodded sheepishly through it all. When all bad feeling had thus been successfully exorcized, the two friends cried some more in each others' embrace.

Even though I said "Hm! Women," my eyes were a bit moist and I was happy for them so I clapped to advocate my happiness about their renewed alliance.
...if only there had been a vuvuzela nearby!

To those two BFF's, I had always been the witness of major events, or sometimes a disposable band-aid, and even a long-term crutch for their testy episodes. They are more like sisters if you ask me. Somehow I held a stake of a sort in their continued alliance.

While they were still hugging, I seized the opportunity to extricate myself from the emotional tangle, crept out while they sobbed, fled from embarrassing questions about the motivations behind my blog and never saw them again to this day.

As I walked down the stairs, I determined that I would talk to The Ex by my own initiative. Apparently, cautious, indirect people are a turn-off for ladies of this generation. They want us to BRING IT ON. Ask GalPal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Yellow Book

I keep journals. It all started innocently enough, when the sudden shock of going to boarding school while yet a senior primary ignoramus (pun intended) sent me on an adventure into myself. Today there's a wide variety of my old, filled-up journals, editions of which are scattered in the many places I've called home since senior primary, including this here blog.

One day I sat at a corner I like to call The Office and started sorting out things to burn later. You can bet that when you finish university, no one will have any use for your written and drawn in class notebooks nor your abortive schemes for world domination. So I was going to burn them. In the course of sorting the chaff from the wheat I came across The Yellow Book. It is a very old journal, which I started writing before I joined university.

The best thing about going through old journals is the opportunity to look back in awe or utter shock depending on how well thought out or shallow your views were back then. Then you can say "I know better now" or "I'm growing backwards mentally." In many ways, new realizations arise from looking at old things with new eyes. Most importantly, back when I wrote, I had absolutely no idea what would become of me afterwards.

As I sat at the Office, The Yellow Book exposed a lot of my naïveté and inexperience of back in the day. Plus a whole ton of idealism which, alas, I seem to have lost. Innocence is priceless I say. If impractical youths were given mikes they could do standup comedy without breaking a sweat. My ears were getting hot as I read the commitments I and a certain girl had made to each other, implicit though they were. Many pages on, I had started nicknaming her The Ex, believing I would only ever have one ex in my whole life. And if things went well, she wouldn't be an ex for very long. The Yellow Book made it very obvious that I really liked that girl. It was written by a younger me, who hadn't learnt to erect walls of pride and exclusion.

Before long the stupid book started working on my tender nerves, such that I forgot that I had taken a principled stance against love in more recent times. (That stance is elaborated here.) Suddenly, I caught myself exclaiming "What happened to you!"

Man up! exclaimed the alter ego, and I determined to burn the damn book, along with the unflattering marked exam scripts and brain-deadening class notes, but only as soon as I finished reading it. So I flipped through it some more.

Suddenly, a card I had never seen before fell out of The Yellow Book. The handwriting on it belonged to The Ex. She was apologizing, in unequivocal terms, for burning my drawing book. That was the main offense for which we had broken up.

The note could only have been three years old plus, and I was finding it for the first time! I was also bothered that she'd apparently read The Yellow Book (she signed off on the apology as "The Ex," complete with stinging quotation marks.) If she had read The Yellow Book in its entirety, and decided, on the back of information thus gleaned, to write me an apology, then I had real cause for some sort of embarrassment, even if the reaction was overdue by three years. 

major crisis scenario

Three years is a long time not to know that an apology even exists for something that you've been carrying the torch for. It would be polite to acknowledge receipt of it. I temporarily allowed myself to forget that nostalgia has been the undoing of many a youth. I couldn't help thinking, what if I had discovered the note on time? What could have been? The real question was: what if upon joining university I had not turned my back on the Yellow Book?

We'll never know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ODM and PNU shall pass away but FIDA will never collapse

I never thought the day would come when I would say this. Hear me out.

With great sadness do I declare that chauvinism is ingrained in the minds of men. Go to any male sports team's changing room at man-talk time and you'll get the picture. Go to any bar and listen. Put your ear to the ground soon after any woman declares her desire to vie for the top seat in the country. Expected findings: the only difference between individual men is the amount of training we have undergone in order to act and speak as though the "fairer gender" is equal to the "stronger gender".

For some of us, the training is as rigorous as sexual harassment lawsuits and restraining orders can get. Most of the rest of us simply avoid rocking the boat and get by agreeably. And therein lies the fatal trap: though we act enlightened, and know the science of the gentleman at a theoretical level, useful perhaps for conjuring up tricks on Valentine's Day, we do not otherwise believe it as completely as we should!

The usual gimmicks involving pulling seats and opening doors are not in themselves enough to fashion a liberated gentleman. Yet every mainstream relationship guru with a breath to breathe on the thing will harp on about the necessity of flowers too and then heave off about whispered sweet nothings being the key to her heart. But, alas, it isn't that simple.

To illustrate, if man was not half-expected to be a philistine chauvinist from the outset by default, the current frequency of "gender violence" would be a scandal of crisis proportions. NGOs wouldn't need to "spread awareness" about what is otherwise obviously unacceptable barbarism. And it wouldn't be quite so funny (as it seems to be today) if the occasional man was thoroughly beaten up by his wife or girlfriend, and sat on for good measure, because, in a truly fair world, one might as well beat the other instead, right? But chauvinism goes much deeper than the dry duality of beating or not beating the partner to ICU, nor even treating or not treating the mate to expensive bribes. Instead, it's a whole attitude, a mindset, even a fixation.

You know how, in the thin-walled apartments of nowadays, you sometimes overhear the neighbor "consulting widely" with his wife or girlfriend? That guy's never once dreamed of beating her, and probably never will.

See how widely he consults!
Humor me as I delve into the nitty-gritty. Sex, which is the central basis for gender in the first place, is a very powerful physiological and psychological experience. It even tends to emphasize and distort many accompanying emotions. And it strengthens the bond, even if that bond is "purely physical". Thus, for example, every break-up between sexually-active lovers is always heartrendingly hard, even if the stated couple eagerly wanted to murder one another (B_WTB has more on that here). Unfortunately, at the same time, the current format of the sex act is rigidly rigged to inflate the thoughtless man's ego with notions of dominance, and exponentially grow them, until they expel from his mind anything contrary. Sensationalist mass media and its first cousin, the porn industry, don't help prevailing impressions either. Once a man associates sex with dominance, his girl has a real obstacle to overcome in chauvinism. And men won't suddenly stop having sex to better appreciate the fairer sex; or what are they fairer for?

Sorry, that came out wrong.

Because of this major crack in our thinking, this refusal to acknowledge our chauvinism that stares us in the face, there shall ever be a hapless man, feeling victimized, thinking he did nothing wrong, looking lugubrious, standing in the defendant's box at civil court. And you can put your money on it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Excitable Mind of Mine

Library. A casual observer would think I was studying, but in libraries, casual observers are few and far between. I was reviewing and writing in my journal.

All the mucky, true, uncomfortable, weird, personal, embarrassing and emotional stuff I’m scared to think too much about; all of it makes it into my journals. Keeping a journal is hard work. And only rarely rewarding. Because, more often, when one reviews what one wrote in the past, one feels like a doubly dense dude. But I always say one thing: “no one still is what they used to be when they were young and foolish - unless they still are.”

In actual fact, I don’t always say that thing.

Some of my close friends and at least two exes have complained that I read too much into things. It seems my own journals contain the evidence to back their claims. This is exactly what I do not need to hear: that they have been right all along.

Here is an excerpt of something I discovered in a particularly dog-eared journal. I wrote this after watching news one lonely night a few years ago.

“Now the gentle-hearted General Service Unit has drained its last reserves of patience and forbearance with riotous university students! If TV reports (that was Citizen TV, was it?) are to be believed, then the force has embarked on something very much akin to full paramilitary training. On TV screens tonight were to be seen rows of camouflage-donning GSU combatants; crouched surreptitiously in lush jungle terrain, only rising to their feet to execute sudden fatal martial arts attacks at imaginary students - moves copied straight from the Textbook of Advanced Shaolin Tai Chi, and they were only training! Close by, a brand new machine- gun look-alike (complete with tripod and shining belts of bullets) stood amidst an assortment of other deadly-looking weapons of a related class, all on display for the camera. Nobody, not even the visibly shaken journalist, commented on whether the machine gun was compatible with rubber bullets. Nor was mention made how much tai chi/kung fu the average university student can withstand (or reasonably deflect) before dying ignominiously from flying through the air off the end of a well-swung jagged-edged military-issue boot. Comrades! Think twice before you strike.”
Artist's impression of the author's impression of the last UoN strike victim's fate

What was with all the paranoia? And who said that the GSU had been exclusively commissioned to control University of Nairobi strikes anyway? Some GSU personnel were probably just happy to show off a little, bust a move for the cameras, and here I was, overreacting. Unfortunately, the nearby pharmacist wasn’t dispensing chill pills.

No sooner had I finished lamenting the apparent coming fate of my academic equals than I also remembered to mourn the global financial crisis that began in 2008, and which does not seem to have officially ended yet. (Just don’t ask CNN.)

“Everyone had a mortgage and six credit cards. As soon as someone credible raised their voice to say ‘Wait; how long can this go on?’ the whole party crashed to an end. Suddenly the government had to bail out the panicked publishers of credit cards (who simultaneously happened to be remortgaging people’s houses). Very soon, if things go well and the bailout works, then everyone can go back to real estate development and accumulation of credit cards. Recovery.”

Too critical; I myself did not even own a single credit card at the time. But I am not new to internal contradictions in moments of high panic.

I ought to pay hefty fines for misusing the library. Luckily, all my journals look like dull old notebooks full of dull notes; full from cover to cover in a uniformly urgent handwriting. Perhaps the numerous inside-joke cartoon sketches in the margins might betray the truth. One sketch shows a broken down Volkswagen Beetle (the 1940s model) parked behind State House.

There are earthshaking scandals in my old journals, trial-worthy confessions, heartbreaks reenacted, events reconstructed, victories rejoiced over, irrelevant drawings galore; and so I ought to destroy those potentially damaging books forever. But every journal writer/blogger/columnist develops an unhealthy love for their own wrongheaded writings and narrowly conceptualized opinions. That is why Journal Extracts Part II might be published here sooner or later. Or not.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Last Laugh Need Not be a Literal Laugh

I like those Chinese movies where the star fights kung fu for a "righteous" cause. Fueled by nothing but holy zeal and a sense of having been wronged, an angry Oriental chap kills the lights out of armies of crooked men using not much more than his bare albeit awesome hands and feet. Does he absolutely thrash them or what! And then in the end he finishes their suspiciously mustachioed wicked boss. Without much fuss, the hero walks back to his humble obscure village to meditate as usual. Credits roll. Awesome.


Rumors that GalPal had been to rehab prematurely changed my opinion of her. I even changed the name of her phone entry from Delilah to GalPal. But this was a hasty action. I should have waited to meet her and chat first.

The eventual meeting was a big coincidental flop which occurred as I was en route to a solo lunch. To start with, GalPal was in the company of QezH, and clinging steadfastly to his arm. Now I am the last person to judge a book by the cover of the next book, but QezH was in a formal suit. In those days I hated formal suits, preferring instead the trusty old t-shirt and jeans couture.

And now GalPal starts fronting like she don't know me, never met me, can't be bothered to start now. Her dreamy gaze permanently fixates upon some theoretical point in mid air, effectively making her an absentee at the scene, and thus allowing QezH and I to battle it out talk small. My whole life, I never had anything against QezH personally, even though I occasionally felt it would be a righteous deed if someone would beat him soundly. You know, duty, like jihad. But I can't afford to be the guy who beats all of Angela's exes.

QezH, looking stiff and formal, even upto the haircut, puts on a highly annoying ingratiating smile and begins to patronize me. He has a condescending attitude about him. His guts are big today; asks me what happened to Angela, are we still together? He must know full-well that Angela and I were never like that, but he's never been one to pass up a chance at a low blow.

Artist's impression of the happy reunion

My eyes snap to GalPal as I wonder where this line of questioning has originated from. But she is too busily engrossed in her daydreams by this time that she can't be expected to have heard a word. I could ask her how it feels to take over her best friend's boyfriend. I should. But no.

"We're still friends," I tell QezH, vaguely. "I'll say hi." I walk away.

As we part, the atmosphere rings with QezH's laughter. It galls and scrapes jarringly against my nerves. The way he laughs, someone needs to beat him up soon or he'll hurt himself. But I restrain myself.

What was up with QezH and I, you wonder? It's a guy thing. No one's going to spell it out this clearly again: if QezH and I had been boxing, he'd landed me a knockout uppercut and earned the grand prize of a GalPal.

Sore losers are bad enough, but a sore winner only multiplies world misery. If only people were more like those Chinese fighter-monks who win and shut up.