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Simon's granddad.

Posted October 9, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

This comment appeared in Mr Havock's guest post about Fury. It seemed a shame to let it languish there. I'll let Simon take up the story:

I wonder what my grandfather would say. He was in the 2/1 Australian tank artillery regiment. Fought the rear guard action in Greece and got captured for his efforts. Escaped and several months later working his way through Greece with the underground finally rejoined his unit. He wrote a fair bit and there are some pretty choice sections in all of it. Hard to pick what would be best for the topic! Let me know if you want a read of the whole thing and i can send it on (about 39 Word pages worth)

A section of his diary:

"Although well dug in, so much so that only a direct hit would shift them, they were very obvious to his recce plane, the Henchel Storch, which looked like our Lysander.This meant one thing, unless we moved our guns and changed our fire plan, our guns would be methodically shelled out and not a tank would appear within thin arcs of fire.


All that day an enemy artillery unit put concentrations on my guns and Hubs. They were accurate and had the Hun only known he could have pushed his tanks in and the fire put down would have flattened our gunners. It was neutralization at its best or worst whichever way you looked ar it.
We decided that night to move to alternate positions. By much hard work and a few casualties we got three guns back into alternate positions. One we had to leave to cover the minefield but of course moved it to another position.


The BC (Nim) decided we would need a roadblock and told me that evening that he would arrange it. I was after materials for a dummy gun. With Jim Aldridge my orderly & confidant we visited the Veve railway station to get such material as was needed. Imagine our surprise to find that the stationmaster was still in occupation and fiercely resisted our efforts to pinch his downpipe. We squared him off with a signal pad receipt (how often was that done?) and departed.


Jim and I were busily erecting the dummy gun positions in our two abandoned positions. As far as I could see the dummies were good, and to help, the snow started to come down again.
We had almost gained the main road when we heard a tank moving along the branch road towards Veve Town. We knew we had no armour handy so the first thing we thought was that the Hun tank had got in behind and where there was one there would probably be a number more. The place was quiet and we ran like steam to where we had dumped our gear, among which was our tank surprise. It comprised of about a dozen sticks of gelignite with a short fuse. We headed off to the noise and waited by the road in a ditch.

The area had gone deadly quiet but the rumbling and clanking of the tank continued. Closer it came and Jim was about to light the fuse when I stopped him. Now it was almost on top of us it somehow didn’t sound like a tank although it was pitch black and we couldn’t identify it. Almost on top of us it stopped!! We risked a look and then a door clanged, a light blazed out and there was the biggest steamroller I had ever seen. Driven by ‘Woy Woy’ Downing, it had been sent along to be wrecked on the road for our roadblock. It had scared six months growth out of the whole sector. We cursed old Woy Woy so he started off again and twenty yards further on hit a mine, which as far as we knew was not laid by any of our people and so was blamed on the Hun patrol. The roller survived but the yolk broke and the old roller sat down fair in the road the next best job to an immovable block you could see.


All next day the Hun arty concentrated on the pass and the dummy guns. Our own guns were giving him as good and our patrols of Hurricane fighters Beaufort bombers kept his aircraft away."

9 Responses to ‘Simon's granddad. ’

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted October 9, 2014
There are some great tales out there and well written too. Thanks Simon and JB for putting this up for us.

Cheers, Dave.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted October 9, 2014
I took Therbs suggestion to heart and created a wordpress account. I split it up a bit to make it easier to read and get back to if needed (long read). To start you'll need to scoot to the bottom of course. Even has some pictures!



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Rob mumbles...

Posted October 9, 2014

When I read things like that I always feel I have done very little of any note with my life. Moaning about video games on my blog, or my obsession with trying to be fulfilled at work doesn't compare with fighting nazis or changing the world as part of a larger machine. Always makes me want to quote Tyler Durden ' our great depression is our lives'

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted October 9, 2014
It seems like such a huge event (and it was) but i continually remind myself that it lasted for 6 years (if you were in it for the full length). Then you had the rest of your life to get on with - it is defining but if you think back on the first 6 years after turning 18 you think "hell, such a small part of my life"

My other grandfather on my dads side actually fought in both of the world wars (and survived) but injured in both. Joined the first one when just sixteen. I don't have much history from him because dad is a pom and my grandad died long before i was born. In fact my dad remembers the second world war - he was born 1936. He remembers having to get in the cage under the kitchen table when an air raid was sounded.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted October 9, 2014
Simon, checked out the blog. Great stuff. Makes me think both the Australian War Memorial and National Archives would love copies of the diary.

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JG puts forth...

Posted October 9, 2014
This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing it, Simon. Also very well written. Primary historical sources like this are so important. I hope the AWM and NAA gets to keep a copy of it (or the original). First-hand material like this is a national treasure: part of our nation's history.

Talk about resourceful men - ie using a downpipe. Much respect for all that our diggers and all forces have done - past and present.

JG

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pi mumbles...

Posted October 9, 2014
Great stuff Simon. Thanks for sharing.

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Bernie puts forth...

Posted October 9, 2014
Thanks for posting the entire thing Simon, and I'm going to add my voice to the chorus asking you to send a copy to the AWM, this type of first hand account needs to be preserved and shared especially as there are so few who served in the world wars left, they truly were the greatest generation.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted October 9, 2014
I think my mum has forwarded this plus some other personal effects along to the AWM. Not sure what became of them though. They also handed in a german luger to the police! But like they said there was nothing they could do with it.

There were also some war trophies from the Japanese side. A wallet with what looked like ashes and a pay sheet as well as an officers japanese sword. They took them all in to the Japanese consulate a few years back asking if they wanted them and they only took the wallet with the personal effects. The sword went to the local RSL. The Japanese consulate got back to them saying they had found some relatives and asked if they could contact - Mum declined considering the nature of how they arrived in our hands.

One more story about my grandfather - this was back in the nineties. He lived in sydney in a suburb called Meadowbank. Backed onto a park like area and some old tennis courts and was right next to the big park on the parramatta river. They had chickens and they were going missing. So one night pop staked out the coop and sure enough a fox was nabbing them. He used his old .308 and took it out (he was a crack shot on top of everything). He collected the corpse for the trophy tail, stowed the gun away and went back out with the other neighbours who came outside to investigate the loud noise. When asked "did you hear that noise?" he replied with "yeah i thought i heard something just thought it was my ears" . . . . . . everyone knew he was hard of hearing from his time in the anti tank.

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'Mick Harvey ' Extract from Talking Smack: Honest Conversations about Drugs, by Andrew McMillen

Posted August 22, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Amphetamine is best known as a drug of alertness: snort or shoot a line of speed and you’ll be awake far longer than the body can usually tolerate. The avoidance of sleep is one of its major benefits, especially for creative people who feel compelled to spend their time on this earth productively, rather than being laid out in bed for one-third of every day. But the drug can be used medicinally in this sense, too, especially if you’re in a band where others are burning the proverbial candle for days on end. As Mick Harvey found, using amphetamine was sometimes the only way to keep up with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the band that he co-founded and managed.

In the mid-eighties, while based in Berlin, the guitarist would look around the studio and realise that his bandmates were invariably loaded on one substance or another. He’d partake in half a line of speed and stay up for two days. ‘I don’t know why they would keep going back and taking another line every two hours,’ he says. ‘There was no need whatsoever!’ Sometimes, the group would spill into a bar at seven in the morning and rage on. All of this was fun to Harvey, then in his mid-twenties, who thoroughly enjoyed being part of a band perceived then – and now – as one of Australia’s edgiest rock groups. Speed was incredibly useful on those occasions, but its medicinal purposes only stretched so far. ‘I certainly never had a desire to continue to take it every day, or to deliberately go and find some and party,’ he says. ‘I just didn’t really do that.’


Those six words evoke the popular characterisation of Mick Harvey as a quintessential ‘straight man’. He just didn’t really do drugs, we’ve been led to believe, even though he was a founding member of two bands known for consumption: the Bad Seeds and its preceding incarnation, The Birthday Party. Regardless of the truth of Harvey’s own intake, the perception of excess that surrounded these outfits wasn’t exactly bad for business, either.


‘To some degree, there were aspects of what was happening that was feeding into the creative work, in an odd way; not always in a good way,’ he says of the latter band’s output around 1980. ‘And [feeding] into the whole mindset and attitude of the thing, which was the public image around it. We were being kind of rebellious, kind of “on the edge”. When the balance was right, it would actually work in our favour. I could see that. There were some nights where the degree to which certain members of the band were “out of it”, but we were still able to play really well, would create a very, very unusual vibe, a very dangerous kind of atmosphere. It was really exciting; they were just amazing shows. But you couldn’t harness it in any way at all. It was completely random. It wasn’t like I thought, “Oh, if everyone would just clean up, the band would be better.” It actually wouldn’t have been.’


Cocktails of heroin, alcohol and speed were flowing through the veins of several musicians, adding to the unpredictable nature of each Birthday Party show. ‘I wasn’t part of that,’ says Harvey. ‘Just as well. I mean, if everyone in the band had been doing it, it would’ve been …’ He pauses. ‘At least there were a couple of anchors there.’ With Harvey on guitar and a dependable percussionist locked onto the beat, the others could freewheel and improvise wherever the mood or mix took them. ‘There was a wild side to what could be going on that was pretty amazing sometimes,’ says Harvey. ‘And I could see that, so I wasn’t anti what was going on, particularly.’
On stage, intoxication could be an asset. This was rarely the case in any other situation, though, particularly when Harvey became manager through necessity – ‘there was no one else there to do it’, he notes – and began learning on the job, as it were. The pressure would build within him until, at a crucial point, he’d have a meltdown and blow his lid at those who surrounded him. ‘Things would be happening that were getting absolutely preposterous,’ he wryly notes. The stoned band members would look up in shock, slurring to each other, ‘Oh, what’s the matter with Mick?’
‘I’d just lose it, and nobody would understand,’ he tells me. ‘They’d just think I had a really terrible temper. It was like, Christ!’ He sighs in frustration at the memories. ‘God! The stuff I’d been putting up with; it was almost unbelievable. I mean, I used to have quite a bad temper sometimes. But they had no notion of what I’d been putting up with.’


Sitting there, hour by hour, some of the band members wouldn’t be thinking about their behaviour of the past few days that might have been problematic for a manager whose job it was to corral them into action to meet studio deadlines, board flights and buses, make it to the sound check. ‘After they all “cleaned up” – and Nick hates that term, so I’ll continue to use it,’ he smirks, ‘some of them would go through the twelve steps [rehab program], and sometimes they’d come and apologise to me about stuff they’d done.’ Harvey would inevitably respond by muttering a dismissive whatever under his breath. What was he meant to say to that? He wasn’t sure.
‘Usually, they’d get to that phase, and then just start abusing me about how I’d [reacted], which was really charming,’ he says. ‘I’d have to explain, “Look, I know that I lose my temper with you occasionally, but what you don’t understand is that it was over a long period of time. That was the way I handled it, by not getting angry, just coping with it for a week at a time, and then cracking. I know it wasn’t the best way to handle it, but it’s the only way I could do it.”’


There is a pause in conversation while we both consider those words. Suddenly, Harvey bursts out laughing for the first time. ‘I don’t know what they made of that!’ he exclaims. ‘I’ve got no idea. They just remember these incidents where I’d be angry at them, yelling at them about something, and they’d see no correlation.’ He laughs again. ‘It’s just unbelievable.’


Mick Harvey owns a studio in a nondescript laneway in North Melbourne. As I arrive at the gate, I happen to meet with a passing mailman, who can see that I’m heading into the property. He cheerfully hands me a few letters, which I take in to Harvey. ‘You’ve got mail!’ are among the first words I say to him. This entrance throws him, I think; we don’t properly shake hands and say hello for a couple of minutes, instead making small-talk. This icy reception is in line with my expectations, for reasons I can’t really place: I had supposed that Harvey might be a difficult interview subject, and these first few minutes set that tone, as we both hover awkwardly in the kitchen-cum-living room.


But, soon enough, the fifty-four-year-old with striking white hair and piercing blue eyes reveals his true nature. Warm and friendly to a fault, he shows me into the adjoining rehearsal room, which is stacked with an impressive array of instruments and amplifiers. A drum kit is set up at the far end, beneath a striking, enormous artwork by Italian painter Michelangelo Russo. Harvey had been puzzling over a computer prior to my arrival: his twelve-year-old son uses a machine in the music room to play video games. He’s in the midst of downloading a zombie shooter called Left 4 Dead 2 using Steam, a software platform with more than its fair share of quirks. I never thought I’d be sharing Steam grievances with Harvey within minutes of our meeting, but that’s exactly what happens.


During our interview at a kitchen table beneath a set of fascinating pinhole photographs, Harvey makes clear that it’s not as though decades spent in a social milieu rooted in heavy drug use is a barrel of laughs, not even close. ‘It had some really negative effects on me,’ he says. ‘It’s not like I was unscarred by it.’ He recalls an ABC Radio interview on the Conversation Hour in the mid-2000s where he was asked how he managed to stay sober while everyone else was high. ‘That’s a popular history – that I was “straight as a die” while everybody was [not],’ Harvey tells me. ‘I didn’t even say, “Well, actually, sometimes I might have been taking something too, or drinking heavily” – which is true, eventually. I just said, “Oh, you’re assuming that when you’re around people using like that, you don’t get damaged or affected by it.”’


To Harvey’s surprise and dismay, the Conversation Hour host began laughing and said something inane: ‘Oh yes, rock and roll!’ or words to that effect. ‘He just completely missed the point of what I’d said. I was sitting there going, “What’s the matter with this guy?” He just wanted to wade into the “sex and drugs and rock and roll” circus, and thought it was really funny.’


Like a punchline, I offer. ‘Yeah,’ Harvey replies. ‘I was trying to make a really serious statement about how the people who aren’t using drugs get very adversely affected by being around it, because I was the “straight guy”’ – he uses air quotes here – ‘across the journey, and was having to deal with that. Everyone says, “I don’t know how you coped all those years.” And I used to go, “Oh, yeah, I don’t really, either.” And eventually I realised that I hadn’t coped, that it affected me really badly. The eighties affected me really badly, being around that for a long time. It took me quite a while to get realigned, to get back out of that.’


He finds it difficult to pinpoint exactly how he was damaged over that period of prolonged exposure to self-abuse by the people around him. ‘It was just that association, I suppose,’ he says quietly. ‘They have those groups for co-dependents and people like that. I don’t think I was a co-dependent; I think I was only really there because of the band. I wasn’t along for the journey just because I wanted to help people on drugs, or be around [them] because I actually liked being around them, or something. I didn’t, at all. I suppose it just damaged my soul more than anything, really, just having to cope with that for years and years. It really took me a while to back out of that and patch myself up.’ He pauses. ‘And to feel okay about it.’


Within The Birthday Party, and later within the Bad Seeds, Harvey was not only manager but also bandmate and – importantly – friend to those men. I ask whether it was difficult to separate those roles at times. ‘Yeah, it was,’ he replies. ‘They were all intermingled, I suppose. The Birthday Party broke up; the Bad Seeds started in late ’83, and I started another band [a third incarnation of Sydney rock group Crime & the City Solution]. So I was in two bands then, through to the end of the decade. Both were filled with people with drug or drinking problems. And living in Berlin in 1986, it was pretty out of control. All-night bars; speed sent over from Stasi laboratories to corrupt the youth of West Berlin; people with heroin problems … It was pretty wild.’


And fun, too. Let’s not overlook that. If it wasn’t enjoyable, why would he have stuck around? ‘It was a fantastic social milieu there,’ Harvey says, smiling. ‘A lot of great friends; a lot of creative activity going on. It was really exciting. But there was this backdrop of a whole lot of weird stuff; people with drug problems; people being really out of it, a lot of the time. That was just the territory I lived through in the eighties. And it did affect me, over time, adversely.’


We won’t detail certain musicians’ numerous attempts at ‘cleaning up’; those are their stories to tell, and theirs alone. All Harvey can do is reflect on how he dealt with those matters at the time, and how they now appear in the rear-view mirror. ‘As much as they may have been sitting there thinking I was judging them quietly, not saying anything,’ Harvey says of his former bandmates, ‘I was not judgemental with people who were using drugs. I was judgemental of some of the behaviour after a while, when it was just completely useless.’


And it’s not as though Harvey was a teetotaller who steadfastly refused the experiences that those around him were attracted to. He tried heroin. ‘I didn’t really like it!’ he says with a laugh, after deliberating on the question for a few moments. ‘It made you feel a bit sick and delusional about how great everything was, while doing absolutely nothing. It just seemed extremely indulgent to me.’


Up the nose it went, never directly into the vein. ‘I’ve kind of got “hyperdermaphobia”,’ he says. ‘I’m hopeless with needles; I can’t go anywhere near ’em.’ These days, he’s more able to cope with injections, as his high cholesterol requires regular blood tests. But he could never watch his friends shoot up. ‘It becomes part of this mythology of the drug-taking; this fetishistic thing, with the needles and stuff,’ he says. ‘I find it gross, actually. It’s really grotesque.’


By the time the Bad Seeds were in a London studio recording The Boatman’s Call in 1996, Harvey was fed up. The judgement was starting to creep in; the drug abuse had gone on too long. It was beyond a joke; instead, a sad fact of life and an impediment to creativity. Having recently lost his father to a heart attack, aged sixty-nine, Harvey was in a delicate state. The sight of some of his peers being stoned every morning had worn thin. A kind of catatonic world-weariness set in. ‘I just didn’t need to be there, wasting my time,’ he says. ‘I just sat in the TV room until I was asked to come in and work on a mix. I wouldn’t go anywhere with them until I was actually asked to come in, ’cause I just couldn’t cope with it. I don’t know if that’s being judgemental, actually. I was just not coping with it. I just didn’t need to be around it anymore.’


The problem was not so much the consumption but the fact that the lines between the band members and their personal lives had long since become blurred. As a result, it was quite hard to separate the two. ‘If loads of your friends are in these situations, you’re talking to half of them about their drug problems, and trying to help them as best you can – which usually [involves] hours and hours of conversations that lead nowhere,’ Harvey says. ‘It’s very, very draining.’ Combine that fact with the common issues that surround drug addiction – money problems, dishonesty – and Harvey found himself saddened by the erratic behaviour of those around him. ‘It’s a really hard thing to deal with over a long period of time. It upsets you.’


He and his wife, Katy Beale, were together already in Berlin, and have remained strong since. But that union was not without its challenges. ‘I think it affected our relationship indirectly, because we were around these people that we had relationships with, which impacted back on [us],’ Harvey says. ‘Then I’d be off on tour half the time. It really created enormous instability inside our relationship. When I finally came out of all of that, it was like …’ He pauses, sighs, then says, ‘I just wanted everyone to get better. It was then another decade of struggle with people sort of getting better, and then relapsing, and getting better …’

‘Draining’ doesn’t seem close to the right word for it. ‘I had to find my own stability, and my own course [as to] where I was going, despite anything else. It took a while to realign all of that,’ he says. At the heart of this process was the realisation that the actions of others were out of Harvey’s control. Little by little, he was able to disassociate from their behaviour. Luckily, he says, almost every person in his life affected by drugs was someone whom he’d known prior to those substances intervening in their friendship.


This is important: if you only ever know someone as a drug user, it certainly colours your perception of them. Harvey knew what these people were like deep down; he could discern that their drug use had added another layer of complexity to their relationship. Whether those layers were positive or negative, he found the inner strength to weather those storms. ‘I’m just glad that it’s really not around now,’ he says. ‘I still know people who’ve got their issues – some people still have heavy drinking problems – but a lot of the drug problems in my age group, people have moved on from it, for the most part.’


Harvey himself moved on from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in January 2009, ending a thirty-six-year-long collaboration with the band’s frontman. ‘They’ve had to deal with it or they’ve died,’ he says. ‘It’s one or the other.’


I mention Rowland S. Howard in this context: the distinctive guitarist who joined The Birthday Party in 1978 later formed These Immortal Souls and became an accomplished – if chronically underappreciated – singer and songwriter in his own right. Howard died in December 2009 at the age of fifty from liver cancer, a complication associated with hepatitis C, which was likely contracted from sharing needles earlier in his life. Ultimately, his liver gave up. Since the two had worked closely together for decades, most recently on Howard’s final album, 2009’s Pop Crimes, I ask Harvey whether he views his early demise as a waste, knowing how talented he was.

‘It’s difficult,’ he replies quietly. ‘I’m oddly kind of Buddhist in some ways. I just tried to treat it in terms of, “It’s what’s happening.” We would have rehearsed here with him a few times’ – he gestures at the adjacent music room – ‘around the time of Pop Crimes, when we were doing shows. J. P. [Shilo, who played bass and violin in the final incarnation of the band] would see Rowland deteriorating. He’d go, “It’s really sad,” and I’d be like, “Oh.” I mean, it was sad, but I couldn’t sit there and look at it that way. It felt like that would be me indulging. I just felt like – well, he’s got what he’s got, and he’s still trying to do what he can with his abilities, and he might get better. Just accept what’s there, and try and work with it, you know?


‘He just had a physical condition in the end, where there were toxins in his system and his liver wasn’t dealing with it. Every morning, he was almost getting a bit delirious with it. I couldn’t do anything about it. And then he couldn’t really play anymore. That was a real shame, and I felt really sorry for Rowland that he couldn’t exploit the level of interest there was in his new work, because he’d really been in the …’ He pauses, and sighs. ‘He’d spent a long time being not really “in favour”. He wasn’t out of favour, but there wasn’t a great level of interest in what he was doing for quite a while there.


‘When Pop Crimes was in production, there was this huge new groundswell of interest. There were about fifteen years where there wasn’t a lot of it. Rowland sensed that very acutely. It was a struggle for him to get people interested in what he was doing – which I know about from different projects that I’ve been involved in. When you don’t get the buzz behind it, it doesn’t really have a lot to do with how good the music is; it’s just whether there’s a willingness to listen. I’ve seen it too many times. But for Rowland, it was very frustrating for him, and then there was finally this groundswell of interest, and he wasn’t able to take advantage of it – or finally get his “just desserts”, or something,’ he says with a mournful chuckle.


For as long as anyone could remember, Howard – forever rake-thin, with spiked hair and dressed in a smart suit – would perform on stage with a lit cigarette dangling from his lips as he eked out evocative notes on his Fender Jaguar. Harvey, too, was a lifelong smoker but gave up at the age of forty, some thirteen years prior to our conversation. ‘I’m a nicotine person,’ he says, even now. ‘It’s a really cool drug, actually.’ He laughs as if he’s just revealed an embarrassing secret. ‘People would think, “Oh, what’s it do anyway? They’re just smoking and it’s not doing anything.”’
I admit that I’m one of those people: I’ve always viewed smoking as a dumb, pointless habit.
‘It takes the edge off your emotions, which is really nice for a lot of people who are a bit edgy and prone to being emotional,’ Harvey explains. ‘It makes it all a bit easier to get through those difficult bits and pieces in the day. And that’s why people, when they get aggravated or upset by something, they’ll reach for a smoke, ’cause it just takes the edge off your emotions. I really liked that. In fact, for years I’d just be like, “Blow it over here; it’s the only cigarette I’m going to get!” I didn’t mind passive smoking at all!’ He laughs. ‘I wasn’t one of those reformed, anti-smoking fascists.


‘Any mind-altering drug has a different effect: making you happy, or slowing you down, or picking you up. They’re all mind-altering substances, and so is nicotine. So it seems like people are just puffing away on this weird weed that smells, but they’re getting a dose of this stuff that’s helping them cope with their emotions.’ Was it hard to quit? I ask. ‘Yeah, it is,’ he replies. ‘People say, “Oh, harder than heroin!” I don’t know about that – literally. The thing with smoking is that it’s just so readily available, and so easy to go back to, so you really have to be vigilant and just decide, “Nah, I just can’t have one.” It’s a little bit easier to have one than to go and score heroin, if you know what I mean. So maybe that’s where the difference lies. But I can’t imagine that it’s actually a harder addiction to shake than heroin. It’s certainly not as extreme a set of sensations that you’re dealing with.’


Despite the wide-ranging conversation we’ve had over the last hour and a half, Mick Harvey ultimately takes the position that illicit drugs aren’t necessarily the problem: instead, it comes down to the way in which people choose to use them. ‘All drugs can have grave associated problems,’ he says. ‘First, they’ve been banned, and then they’ve been demonised.’ Any change on this topic at a governmental level will require a spine, so to speak, and an ability to backtrack on the negative messages that Australians have been sold for decades. ‘There’s not the political will to do that – or even the awareness, perhaps. And, if there was [an] awareness, then how would they go about doing it? How are they going to change their tune to the public? It’s a big job, to re-educate and re-inform.


‘Because I’ve been so surrounded by [illicit drug use], I’ve seen a lot of the problems that come with it. But I’ve also seen a lot of people, as well, who’ve used in different ways and not had problems. So the point about banning it across the board is that then you remove that freedom of choice of those people, too. I mean, why does alcohol remain available when other things aren’t? It’s not a great drug, at all; [there are] quite an awful lot of negative associations with alcohol abuse, particularly health-wise. It’s a shame that Western societies have closed it off so much and made it such a ridiculously complex and bitter issue, because it didn’t have to be handled that way. But it has been, and now that’s the way it is.’

6 Responses to ‘'Mick Harvey ' Extract from Talking Smack: Honest Conversations about Drugs, by Andrew McMillen ’

DrYobbo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 22, 2014
Great read. Great interview above too.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted August 22, 2014
A great interview with Mick giving interesting insights, even from early on he managed to put his music first.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted August 22, 2014
Very good.

This is back in the day for me, but one of the things that gives you perspective when living the drug taking life is finding yourself in a group of non-drug affected people.

With a similarly affected coterie, you feel normal, even good and clear-minded, but then suddenly entering into a group of 'straight' people, you suddenly realise you are none of those things.

Rock musos can live a life where that perspective is often not happening to them.



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Therbs reckons...

Posted August 25, 2014
Very good, intelligent interview. McMillen was able to draw a lot out of Harvey without it being cloying or patronising.

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Tim Gluckman would have you know...

Posted September 7, 2014
Some interesting insights into drugs & music. BTW there is no evidence for claim made that the former E German secret police STASI produced amphetamine to corrupt W Berlin youth. Can you produce evidence any evidence to support that. And the STASI have been accused ofg many things by experts re spying on ppl .
What is true that Communist Eastern Europe till 1989 made 0 or almost 0 arrests for drugs eg in Poland. Now it is many thousand per yr. Hm a country where 0 arrests for drugs....doesn't sound bad huh?!

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted September 7, 2014
well Tim there is the ship with North Korean Drugs they 'intercepted' of the Northeren Beaches os Sydeny dksjgjhgjhi8iiiii?
As the graffitti in Newtown said back in the Eighties-
"Support Your Local Cops"
"Buy Heroin"

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Orcs in New York. Hooper 3 extract

Posted July 10, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Since I'm spending all my time inside these books, you might as well get a little look-in as well. I chose these couple of a pars because they're written from the point of view of Lord Guyuk ur Grymm, one of my fave monsters. It struck me as I was editing them just how knowledge of the Horde culture and lore they assume. But then, this is from Book 3.

To give just enough context to understand what's happening, Guyuk is leading a raid into Manhattan. I've clipped a few details here and there to avoid spoilers.

(Image from The Land of Shadow)

There was a short interlude of violence, and all resistance collapsed.

Little pride was to be had in the victory, Guyuk told himself as he used the edge of his great round shield to carve one of the last fleeing humans in two. The shield’s iron edge was chamfered to a quarter claw thickness. Keen enough to slice through boiled wulfin hide armour when wielded by a strong arm, well trained to the task. Used in such a fashion upon the unprotected bodies of the calflings, it was a spectacularly gruesome kill. Bloodwine and sweetmeats fairly exploded from the fragile bag of thin skin, painting the Lord Commander in hot gore.

Not a killing to sing about, or record in the Scrolls, but it did afford an opportunity to practice one’s self denial. His head reeled with hunger, and long tendrils of acidic drool swung from his fangs. Not one morsel did he take from the quarry, though. Nor any of his Guard. They encircled their prey, crushed all resistance with swift resolve, then stayed their claws and blades.

The Cohort had emerged many leagues from the centre of the metropolis where the human Champion and his thrall were heavily engaged. Still, the incredible scale of this settlement was of an order to daunt even the strongest mind.

Was it so great that even a Regiment might not fully invest it? Guyuk pondered this as a form of meditation to still his rumbling stomachs. He spat a stream of digestive phlegm to the unnaturally level ground. From where he stood, the whole of the sky shield-wise to the moon seemed filled with the towers of humanity. Projects, the Threshrend called them, and the word seemed freighted with a dark significance.

These man-made ranges were indeed the project of a malign and terrible power. Even as he looked upon them he saw the small flashes of light and fire which he knew to be the talebearers of the human’s ranged weaponry; the guns of the calflings, such as he had just encountered. There was no sense of massed and coordinated fire, but the occasional streak of magick light – of the cursed ‘tracer’ rounds – indicated that the attention of the armsmen was focussed on the war bands which even now rampaged through these Projects a league’s distance moonwise.

“Secure the prisoners,” he ordered. “Do not damage them.”

25 Responses to ‘Orcs in New York. Hooper 3 extract’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 10, 2014
I do love me a thoughtful monster.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted July 11, 2014
Who is really the monster here Paul? Aren't you judging this thoughtful and honourable creature by your own homocentric standards? Did they ask to be deluged with seawater from a hole in the ceiling?

Hath not an Orc eyes? Hath not an Orc claws, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the
same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same
diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same fire and ice, as a Human is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not rip your throat out? If you poison us, do we not laugh? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in
the rest, we will resemble you in that.

Who is the monster Paul? It's you isn't it?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 11, 2014
You don't know my life.

Respond to this thread

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted July 10, 2014
They're probably just heading to the Bowery to de gentrify it. These orcs hated the idea of all the flophouse residents being turfed out in favour of up market residential towers and eateries. In essence they're implementing their own version of retrospective Green Bans. Good luck to them I say.

Dave W reckons...

Posted July 10, 2014

I thought it was all about the meatpackers' area, these days, for the hipsters.

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BrianC puts forth...

Posted July 10, 2014
So i've been away when does book one release?

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tqft ducks in to say...

Posted July 10, 2014
I am tempted to make an offer about an early release copy.

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted July 10, 2014
Given the firepower and casualty rates prevalent in Chicago on most weekends, bring the orcs! First run-ins with the Disciples or Vice Lords and there'll be a giant orc meat fest on the lakefront.

Looking forward to the series. Should be fun!

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted July 11, 2014
I suspect, without offering spoilers from my unique position, that there will be a lot of Blue on Blue casualties.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted July 10, 2014
Orcs it just had to be Orcs didn't it, large strong and organised. Bloody Kobolds or Mongrelmen who couldn't fold a napkin with instructions (on another napkin obviously) and throw a copper piece amongst 'em to turn 'em to infighting. Bloody Orcs time to finish this 'ere lightning and head out and start swingin' the blade.

It's time for Bloody Orcs indeed.

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Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 11, 2014
As long as Ashnak doesn't show up...

Surtac mumbles...

Posted July 11, 2014


I'm hoping he does. ;)

Anthony puts forth...

Posted July 11, 2014
He and his war- band are too busy attending to their new contract with the nameless necromancer to look after security on Manus Island. They don't have time for frivolities these days.

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Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted July 11, 2014

Like no restaurant I've been to.

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted July 11, 2014
" Bloodwine and sweetmeats fairly exploded from the fragile bag of thin skin, painting the Lord Commander in hot gore."

This may be a first. A book about human-eating monsters written by a restaurant reviewer.
Because I am a bit worried. That sentence made me feel hungry.

Dave W mutters...

Posted July 11, 2014
D'oh. Responded to wrong comment. Must be the lack of breakfast. Anyone know where I can get some blood pudding?

Lulu puts forth...

Posted July 11, 2014
Is that the same as black pudding?

Dave W mumbles...

Posted July 11, 2014

It sure is. *smacks lips*

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted July 11, 2014
I was thinking more of a steak and kidney pie washed down by a nice West Australian cabernet sauvignon. Bloody hell! I'm trying to stay on light rations.
Damn you Guyuk and your Orc gastronome cohort!

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted July 11, 2014

Well yeah, now I'm keen for steak and kidney pie. This morning I was keen for blood pudding, because it was breakfast time. Obviously.

Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted July 11, 2014
Now I want a "full English" (or Scottish, or Irish). Eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, etc etc. If I have that now, I won't need to eat until Tuesday.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted July 12, 2014
Don't forget the beans, mushrooms and grilled tomato. And a cuppa. Oh dear, how I miss it.

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Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted July 11, 2014
Scary JB.
I had a real sense of Deja Vu too yesterday when I read it.
I was at the same place last year and read one of your posts there.
*Cue X Files Music*

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PT 2. How to think about exercise

Posted June 15, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Part 2.

The Soldier’s Equipment

What kind of self is intensified in sprinting and other exercises? The stories of the Iliad and Odyssey suggest one obvious but exclusive answer: the soldier.

The Greeks were a warlike civilization, and running was obviously worthwhile because it made for fitter warriors. The hoplitodromos competitors sprinted in helmets and greaves, carrying shields, because that that is how they ran on the battlefield. Plato, in his dialogue Laws, sketched an ideal city in which citizens competed in full armour for prizes. He wanted soldiers, not professional sportsmen, striving for spectacle. ‘Body agility – quickness of hand as well as of foot – is a first-rate point in the soldier’s equipment,’ he wrote. ‘Fleetness of foot has its use in flight and pursuit.’

[illustration: Greeks sprinting in armour - caption: Hoplitodromos Louvre MN704, Side B from an Attic black-figure Panathenaic amphora, 323–322 BC. From Benghazi (Cyrenaica, now in Libya). Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen)

Obviously the same point can be made for lifting weights, athletics, gymnastics, and so on: they make us tougher, so our pride is basically martial.

But I am not a soldier – not even a policeman or bouncer. Neither are most of today’s sprinters, doing laps in public parks, without the threat of rampaging Persians. Runner Cathy Freeman lives in a quiet Melbourne suburb and ‘shuffles’, she says, three times a week – hardly the Peloponnesian War. Power-lifter Clint Greagen might be built like the proverbial outhouse, but his days are spent folding linen (between reps) and preparing dinner.

Put simply, there is more to pride than this stereotypically masculine ideal of battlefield or back-alley toughness. The Greeks suggest a more profound, and also more democratic, idea: pride can suggest a more responsible character.

Racing Feet and Striving Hands

In the Iliad, the soldiers did not simply sprint for battle. They also ran to commemorate Patroclus’ memory. He was a famed sprinter, and the running races recalled his physical and moral virtues. As the crowds cheered ‘shining long-enduring Odysseus’, they recalled Patroclus. This was more than a sporting eulogy for the slain. It was a reminder for the living: glory in your muscles and lungs while you can.

Likewise in Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus was, by this stage, middle-aged, weary and grumpy. Shipwrecked on Phaeacia, he was feasted by the king, but privately wept for his wife, son and island, Ithaca. To cheer him up, King Alcinous did exactly what Achilles did after Patroclus’ death: he held games. To taunt Odysseus into the contest, Prince Laodamas said: ‘What glory attends a man, while he’s alive, than what he wins with his racing feet and striving hands?’ The wording makes it clear: tough luck, mate, but there is no point moping. Get off your bum and enjoy your muscles while you have them.

Odysseus replied angrily, but was soon sucked into competition. He won the discus in a single throw, and then insulted the youths:

Not match that, you young pups, and straightaway I’ll hurl another just as far, I swear, or even further! All the rest of you, anyone with spine and spirit, Step right up and try me – you’ve incensed me so –

at boxing, wrestling, racing; nothing daunts me.

Note the combination of intense pride and regained confidence. Like all of the Greek heroes, Odysseus is proud of his muscularity and speed. The youths goad him into competition, and this works: he loses his sullen tears, and walks proudly again. Put in Hume’s language, by regaining pleasure in his body, Odysseus enhances his idea of himself. This is because the relations of ideas and passions move both ways. Joy can bring with it an existential responsibility: this is my body, my life, and I will not be beaten by age or acrimony.

Odysseus’ pride is echoed in the words of Pindar, a fifth-century bc Greek poet. No stranger to running races or pride, Pindar was paid by games victors to celebrate their conquests. In 498 bc, he wrote a song for Hippokleas, winner of the double sprint in the Pythian games. ‘The gods may feel no sorrow, but a man should be accounted happy and worthy of song,’ he said of Hippokleas, ‘if boldness and power have gained him the greatest prize for the might of hand and foot.’

This emphasis on mortality highlights our human responsibility. For the Greeks, the gods had eternity to enjoy caprice and play. They did not get ill or old. We humans have a short span of life, and an even shorter span of prime fitness. ‘If a man attains his wish let him cling to it and not let it go for something far off,’ Pindar wrote for Hippokleas the sprinter. ‘There is no telling what will be a year from now.’ Enjoy your triumph, says Pindar, because life is brief and brutal. He cautions competitors against hubris: transgressing the sacred laws of men and gods. He damns avarice and cruelty. But for Pindar, physical pride is not only pleasurable, but also virtuous. It is rightful pleasure in activity instead of passivity – in stubborn exertion, which makes the most of precarious flesh.

Be the Rock

This message from the Greeks is simple but profound, and transcends their civilization. There is, as Hume argued with devastating precision, no happy afterlife, no cosmic plan for the redemption of immortal souls. We are bodies, and we will suffer and die – all of us, without exception. In this, the pagan outlook is surprisingly modern. But this grim disclosure can also be a source of pleasure. It is precisely because intense muscular effort is so fragile and ephemeral that it is bliss. When Odysseus met him in the Underworld, Achilles famously said he would prefer to be a servant to a poor man than a dead king of kings. To live, however lowly and briefly, is a chance to strive.

So pride in exercise is more than a firmer idea of ourselves, of the ‘I’ we imagine we are. It is also a sense of the worth of this achievement: that, with limited days and vitality, we still bother to hone ourselves by striving physically. Given all the possible ways to sit idle, and to justify this, we have dedicated ourselves to some act of uncomfortable toil.

This is why, as Pindar suggested and Hume argued, pride is also a kind of virtue. In the pride of sprinting, power-lifting or pedalling, we rightly celebrate ourselves for our committed exertion; for the willingness to move as hard and fast as we possibly can, instead of watching others do so on television. We are, in short, exerting ourselves when we might equally not.

This takes not only fitness, but also a keen sense of responsibility: recognition that we might die tomorrow having never touched the edges of our own abilities. This is less about ‘seizing the day’, and other positive-thinking slogans, and more about more firmly grasping ourselves: as fragile, precarious things, with a small portion of vitality. We cannot wait for God or gods to give us our souls – the self is something we must continually, often consciously, create. In this, exercise is a recollection of the burden of existence, which gives us pleasure as we lift it.

The French philosopher Albert Camus, famous for his love of soccer, once argued that Sisyphus, rolling the boulder up the hill for eternity, was happy. It was his rock – that is, his duty, his task, and no one else’s. The pride of exercise offers this same strained happiness, only we are the rock.

6 Responses to ‘PT 2. How to think about exercise’

Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted June 15, 2014
JB,
Damon's a good writer.
I've told him so.
But the last sentence?
Shouldn't 'we' be in " "?

Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 15, 2014
Sweet fn Jesus do I feel lonely here!

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JG puts forth...

Posted June 15, 2014
'The pride of exercise offers this same strained happiness, only we are the rock.'

So true. Exercising is a battle, a struggle at times, but it's also a source of happiness, pride, and self achievement. I'd rather try than not.

I ran 32km on the Gold Coast today. The three-week tapering period leading up to my first marathon now starts. Hallelujah!

JG

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted June 16, 2014

I'm not the rock.

Dwayne Johnson is the Rock, everyone know that.

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JG has opinions thus...

Posted June 27, 2014

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JG mutters...

Posted June 27, 2014
Hmm. That's strange... my comment (above) didn't paste. Here it is again:
Love the book my daughter gave me for my birthday recently: 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' by renowned Japanese novelist and passionate marathon runner, Murakami. It's a memoir centred around long-distance running.
JG

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Extract from Damon Young's How To Think About Exercise

Posted June 8, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

Damon is one of the few philophers I know who engages with the general public in a way that doesn't make them reach for a hand gun. (OK, he is actually the only philosopher I actually know, but the point still stands).

This week and next I'm going to run some extracts from his new book, How To Think About Exercise.

PRIDE

Sprinting is one of the world’s most popular sports and has been since the ancient Greeks dashed around stadiums (sometimes in full armour). And the Greeks were unashamedly proud of their victories – often to the point of boastfulness.

This pride remains a vital part of committed exercise. It is not simply conceit or arrogance, but a pleasure in our own existence. In this, it is also a sign of existential responsibility: a drive to define ourselves more ardently before youth and life leave us.

Part 1.

Freedom and Nausea

It is an ordinary spring afternoon: fickle blue skies and copious pollen. I am at the foot of an ordinary suburban hill, next to red-brick retirees’ apartments with massed pelargoniums. Most of my neighbours are watching television, or in their offices, perhaps grabbing a takeaway coffee for the drive home.

My day, so far, has been equally ordinary. Transcribing edits for this book, I looked like a stock photo in a news story on modern sedentary ailments: typing at the laptop, my bum sinking ever lower into the faded bridge chair. At one point, it felt as if my lower back and the chair had become one: a grand union of the kind praised by mystics and rightly condemned by physiotherapists. Business as usual for a thirty-something professional.

But I am about to do something unusual: hill sprints. Despite my congested sinuses and the obvious fact of gravity, I will run up this hill, as fast as I can. I will then jog back down to the foot. Having pulled up my torn, sagging compression tights, I will then do it all again: fourteen times.

The sprints are, quite frankly, a buzz. After the day’s intellectual labour, they suggest freedom: the impression of reaching out and up, past myself, to the hill’s apex. Each burst feels like potential energy realized: not just calories converted into work, but all my morning’s restlessness transformed into a single unchecked, uncomplicated movement.

In Born to Run, Australian Olympian sprinter Cathy Freeman describes this as being ‘happy and free’ – even after ten laps of an old sawdust track, the young Freeman was ‘safe and strong, like [she] was the only person in the world.’ And running has no monopoly on this. Champion cyclist Cadel Evans, in Close to Flying, writes of ‘riding for the love of it’. ‘You float . . . drift . . . sweep,’ he says, like flying. Again: a feeling of being liberated from ordinary concerns, of being above the usual guff.

Much of adult life requires a quantum of caution or care – the need to censor words, restrain aggressive urges. My hill sprints are the antithesis of this: they have a purity to them – a simple, single- minded dedication, which refuses second-guessing and delicacy.

The point is not that running is an easy craft. On the contrary, it requires serious concentration on technique: footfall, stride, balance, rhythm. The point is that, as with cycling downhill or pushing weights, once I have committed to the exertion, it has an emancipating simplicity to it. This is me, unimpeded by the chair’s mahogany arms and my own moderating anxiety.

As the sets add up, I slow down. I push myself to run as fast as possible, but my ‘possible’ is more sluggish and breathy. Sprinting has become running has become jogging. By the fifteenth sprint, my body is numb from impact on the concrete, and my heart has a drum ’n’ bass cadence to it. The feeling of liberty has vanished, and what remains is plodding, slightly desperate stubbornness, and then retching disorientation.

I do not feel free. I feel sick.

But alongside my drained nausea is pleasure. It begins once the exercise is done, and continues well after the queasiness and fatigue have gone.

It is similar to the satisfaction I feel when running on an inclined treadmill, sprinting pell-mell on a stationary bike, or, with trembling quadriceps, combining kettle-bell squats with upright rows.

Importantly, this need not be enjoyed in spring sunshine. Australian writer and amateur power-lifter Clint Greagen writes about the ‘raw animal-type thrill’ he gets from evening workouts in his garage. Seeing the stacked bar bent over his back gives Greagen a buzz. ‘It’s very primal and a great change from the thinking part of myself,’ he writes, ‘which I’m stuck with the majority of every day.’

I enjoy this pleasure now, as I describe my puffing ascent: it is pride.

Pleasure in Oneself

What exactly is pride? To get to the bottom of this pleasure, we have to take a detour around Christian ideas. Pride was almost a four-letter word in the Christian West. ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world,’ says 1 John 2: 15–16. ‘If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.’

There is an otherworldliness in this, which denies pleasure in general, and pleasure in oneself in particular. The more we get pleasure from ourselves, the less we attend to the Lord. In doing so, we make ourselves the source of beauty and joy, rather than the Godhead. This is why, for the Church fathers and theologians, pride was one of the chief sins: a love of oneself that turned away from God.

To avoid this, the Church recommended humility instead of pride – seeing ourselves as somewhat ugly. If we are born broken, then we need fixing: we will seek pleasure in God’s grace instead of our own ‘lust of the eyes’. No hill sprints for John the Evangelist.

A better source of wisdom on pride is the philosopher David Hume. He was not a sprinter or power-lifter. As his portrait suggests, he was not an avid exerciser at all – more a sedentary gourmand. But the great Enlightenment thinker gave a very helpful definition of pride, which avoids the Christian distaste for bodily gratification. It also fits with the ancient Greek pleasure in physical exertion, which we will turn to a little later.

Hume’s definition of pride is a deceptively simple one: pleasure in oneself.

In his landmark A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume pointed out that pride actually has two parts: the cause of the pleasure, and the object we attribute it to. The cause is something like muscular legs, for example, or a heart that beats steadily and strongly. I get pleasure from these, because they suggest power, speed, robustness. These, in turn, promise more pleasure: of safety from threats, cardiovascular health, desirability to my wife, and so on. (In other words, we can also find pleasure in the promise of pleasure.) So pleasure is not random. It is based on what we value.

But how does this pleasure become pride in ourselves? This is why Hume introduced the idea of the object. With pride, the object is myself. I can never actually see or touch this ‘self’, but I do have an idea of it. And this idea is related to other ideas: ‘my’ legs, ‘my’ heart, for example. So the pleasure is passed along psychologically: from legs and heart to ‘me’.

Hume noted that this pleasure is natural, but not everyone will feel pride in the same things. This gets back to value. We appreciate value by ‘constitution . . . custom, or by caprice,’ writes Hume. For example, we might agree that a leg is muscular, but not find this beautiful. It all hangs on the ties between ideas: muscular legs might make me feel more manly and desirable, or awkward, brutish and repugnant. Next to my sedentary friend’s soft calves, my legs encourage pride; next to my weightlifting friend’s striated quadriceps, they inspire humility.

And what is ‘cute’ to a spectator might be useless for an athlete. American Olympian Carmelita Jeter sees her naked body as beautiful: but for its strength and agility, not its petite prettiness. ‘I’m not here to look cute,’ she told ESPN. ‘I’m out here to be powerful, be aggressive.’ In short, there are no simple rules of pleasure.

This is why pride is often considered a virtue: because it shows that we value the right things. What is ‘right’ will change with age, geography, era – and profession, as Jeter’s example suggests. But civilisation works because we are taught as children not just to think about what’s important, but also to like it; to find it pleasant or fulfilling.

Put simply, pride is sanctioned pleasure in something worthwhile, which we associate with ourselves.

The Joy of a Firmer . . . ‘I’

But what is valuable in exertion? For this, we can return to the ancient Greeks, who generally had no religious hang-ups about bodily beauty and strength. They were also happy to boast about their muscles and swiftness – pride was a virtue, not a sin. If we cannot all have their climate, we can still learn from their seemingly arrogant attitude: they reveal the existential value of pride.

At the Olympic games, held in Olympia every four years, the most prestigious contest was the pentathlon. Pentathletes vied in five events: long jump, discus, javelin, wrestling and the stadium sprint, which was about 220 yards. As with today’s hundred-metre sprint, the sprint was the most prestigious competition. And it was not the only footrace. The Greeks also competed in a double sprint, a longer run of three miles, and another race in military armour, called the hoplitodromos.

Like today’s Olympians, the ancient Olympic track stars received no prize money, but some were given pensions, free food (for life), parades, portraits in sculpture and over-the-top adulation. (‘This is indeed a very wrong custom,’ complained the sixth-century bc philosopher Xenophanes, ‘nor is it right to prefer strength to excellent wisdom.’)

As this suggests, the Greeks were not ashamed to praise and be praised, particularly when it came to running. Achilles, in Homer’s eighth-century bc poem the Iliad, is regularly called ‘swift runner’. His friend Patroclus was ‘the fastest on his feet’. The Iliad also contains a description of a dramatic running race, which demonstrates how comfortable the Greeks were with physical competitiveness. After Patroclus’ death, Achilles held funeral games to celebrate the dead soldier’s memory and lift morale. In a contest resembling the pentathlon, Odysseus sprinted against fellow soldiers Ajax and Antilochus. Odysseus, known for his lies and tricks, was given extra speed by the goddess Athena, who also tripped Ajax, his chief rival. Ajax fell into a pile of fresh cow dung. Did the spectators condemn the foul play? ‘They all roared with laughter at his expense,’ wrote Homer. Odysseus was then given the prize by Achilles: a silver bowl, said by Achilles to be the best in all Greece.

This pagan braggadocio, however off-putting, is instructive. It reveals the source of pleasure: not just victory or fairness, but the basic fact of dogged exertion, displayed bodily. What mattered to the Homeric heroes were displays of physical excellence. Even if the sprinters had a divine coach slipping them supernatural steroids mid-race, the victors were celebrated. Why? Because they gave the onlookers pleasure. And the victors, in this, felt their own pride enhanced. As Hume noted, part of our pleasure in ourselves is gained in sympathy with others: we feel their pleasure in our success, alongside our own. This, in turn, firms up the idea we have of our own character: something more vivid, lively, intense. No doubt Odysseus smiled guilelessly as the Greeks cheered his prize, and heckled his crap-covered rival; it all increased his impression of himself.

Competition can hone this pleasure – not by giving us someone to beat, but by offering us a comparison: our self against others’. In this, exercise provides the physical proof of someone else’s striving, and goads us to match or surpass it. The goal is not simply to win, but to impress upon the world the stamp of our own existence; to walk away with a heightened feeling of our own enterprise, as Odysseus did in his race with Ajax.

So exercise is not merely a way to tone muscles or increase the heart’s efficiency – although it does both. It also offers a firmer idea of oneself: of the ‘self’ associated with bodily effort. We cannot see ourselves, this ‘I’ we imagine at our core. It is, as Hume noted, something of an illusion. But we can infer it with more solidity, as we watch ourselves step, pedal or lift – as we see the flesh hardening and stretching beyond its limits. Put simply, pride is the joy we feel at a more intense existential impression: a more vibrant, finely drawn self-portrait.

8 Responses to ‘Extract from Damon Young's How To Think About Exercise’

Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted June 8, 2014
JB,
The only reason Damon runs so much is so he can avoid debate!
I'll start training Damon.
I will catch up to you!

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 8, 2014
Philosophy, by its nature, is exercise for the mind.

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Jacques Stahl would have you know...

Posted June 10, 2014
I think, therefore I ran

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted June 10, 2014
Thanks for the excerpt, JB. Very interesting. I enjoyed the historical and philosophical theories behind it. A well-researched book and well written.

Hope you are back to running following your knee injuries, John. You mentioned your running injuries here last year.

I also like the sound of philosopher and runner Dr George Sheehan's book, The Essential Sheehan. I read an excerpt from it in the January 2014 issue (marathon special) of Runner's World.

I run three times a week, sometimes four. My longest weekend run to date was 35km last Sunday. I'm training for a marathon.

I'm not a fast runner, nor particularly powerful (have only been running and training for 14 months), but running gives me pleasure, even though it's tough at times.

I reap physical benefits from running like having a resting heart rate of 48bpm, being stronger and lighter (16kgs lighter than I was a year ago), being more toned, and having a 'body health age' of 32 as against my (almost) 51 years. A body age apart from the inevitable face wrinkles of ageing that is.

Sure, I could be more toned, stronger, faster, and a couple of kilos lighter (would like to be 52kg, as opposed to my current 57kg), but I'm way healthier than I was in April last year.

The mental benefits of running, along with the physical rewards, also make the hard work worthwhile. I am more focused, calm, and confident than before I started running. I'm off all medication and haven't needed to see a doctor in almost a year. And God knows I am more determined now.

The sheer exertion required to train for a marathon has made me mentally tougher. Running is character building. It's a double-edged sword combining pleasure and pain/setbacks. The pleasure is in the journey.

It's less than four weeks until I run my first marathon--all 42.2km of it. I'm aiming for a time between 4:45 and 4:50 at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon on 6 July. It will be one of my greatest achievements, along with bringing up my daughter, and my university qualifications.

I encourage anyone who can to take up running. It's well worth the time, effort, injuries, and setbacks. Meh. All par for the course.

Joanna G

Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted June 10, 2014
Congratulations Joanna G,
The last time I ran for 20+ minutes was 1981.
I am impressed and hopeful from what you write above.
If I have half the will power you have i'll be ok.

JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 10, 2014
Thanks, Dino. :)
Anything is possible. I hadn't run since I was a teenager before taking it up again last year. Couldn't run a kilometre without being exhausted last April, even though I had and still, walk heaps.
If I can run a marathon, anyone can. It's all about determination, persistence, and hard work. Never give up.
JG

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2014
Impressive effort, JG. Respect.

JG asserts...

Posted June 13, 2014
Thank you, JB.
JG

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Respond to 'Extract from Damon Young's How To Think About Exercise'

Super Hornet vs a Dragon

Posted May 30, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

I'm buried deep in the editing of Dave Hooper 2 (The Last Temptation of Dave) and the writing of Dave Hooper 3 (unamed, so far) at the moment.

I need a little pick-me-up to stay at it, so thought I'd release a teaser into the wild.

The scene below comes from book 2. Dave and his Scooby Gang are flying across the US to a showdown with... well... I can't tell you. Spoilers.

But all you need to know is that by book 2 there are dragons in the air, causing a shut down of all non military aviation.

(I dips me lid to Orin for the very appropriate image below).

Extract. The Last Temptation of Dave.

"What is it?" asked Boylan, finally becoming animated as he synced back to reality. "Is it dragons, Dave is that what it is? Because I'm not ready for dragons. I prepared myself for giant pig demons and carnivorous monster dogs. Not dragons. Not on a plane. I can't do dragons on a plane, Dave."

"I think it's dragons," Dave confirmed. "Look."

And soon almost everyone was pressed up against the windows on that side of the plane, either shielding their eyes from the sun and staring out of the window next to their seat, or moving seats to do so. Everyone except Emmeline, who remained asleep, and Compton who had followed the instructions to strap himself in and was now craning around, looking very unhappy with his travelling companions.

It took a few seconds to find the aircraft against the background of the mountain range.

"Over there, near those lakes," said Igor, and Dave had them. Two bright geometric shapes, metallic flashes picked out in the morning sun, moving impossibly fast and straight amidst the visual clutter and chaos of forest and rock.

The Super Hornet, an arrowhead of the Gods, left the Warthog behind. Dave tracked its flight path for a moment then extended ahead a few miles, squinting with the effort to pick out whatever they were chasing. It didn't take very long; a plume of bright orange fire lit up the tree line well ahead of the fighter.

dar Drakon.

From this distance the torrents of beast-fire looked a trifling thing, like a barbecue flaring up in someone's backyard. And yet he knew that the arc of super-heated bile could reach out the length of a city block and was hot enough to crack rocks and melt sand into glass. Trees would be exploding down there, their sap flash boiling to vapor, detonating like a string of bombs dropped on the side of the mountain.

The Boeing turned in its holding position and they lost sight of the creature. Everyone hurried to the other side of the plane.

"Oh come on now," shouted Compton, still firmly strapped in, but nobody was paying attention. Even Joy had found herself a spot to view the battle from down near her station at the rear of the plane. Dave ended up crouched next to Heath who didn't need any superpowers to find the creature again, or the two human aircraft screaming towards it.

"At 10 o'clock," he said, pointing into the middle distance, where Dave saw the flying tank they called the Warthog and, by extending its flight path, the Super Hornet. It seemed that the very moment he locked eyes on the jet fighter, twin puffs of smoke appeared under her wings, as two small points of light appeared to detach themselves and speed away.

“AMRAAMs?" said Dave.

He’d read that in a Tom Clancy book.

Heath didn't turn away from the window and neither did Dave, but he sensed the officer nodding. "Heat seekers," he said. "Air-to-air. Pilot must've got tone. We'll see soon enough."

It did not take long. To Dave's untutored eyes, as quick as the jet was traveling, the missiles seemed to move away at two or three times its speed. He followed the burn trail all the way down to the slowly circling figure of the dragon. It must've been miles away, but he was certain he could see the great leathery wings as they flapped slowly carrying the monster across the forest canopy. It was possible, he thought, that he could even make out the great tail, although he had no hope of picking out details like the giant spikes at the end, with which a dragon could impale up to two or three Hunn warriors with one vicious swipe. He wondered how much detail the others could make out, but none of them were complaining.

“Praise God and pass the ammunition,” said Zach, just before twin explosions bloomed silently around the Dragon. Dave flinched, expecting to hear its death shriek, but of course he never would. It was miles away and they were safely sheltered within the insulating steel and glass tube of the Boeing. When the fire died away there was nothing to see. It was gone, but the A-10 pressed on anyway, and after a moment Dave saw long, fluorescent strands of light reach out from the tip of the plane to rake at the mountainside where, he presumed, the Dragon had fallen. The pilot poured on the heat for at least ten seconds, and fired rockets that followed the line of tracer fire into the burning forest.

"Nothing left of that sucker but loose meat," said Igor, standing up and returning to his seat. And indeed there seemed to be little left to see. The two aircraft were returning, and Dave lost sight of them as the Boeing came around to resume its original heading.

73 Responses to ‘Super Hornet vs a Dragon’

Adam_Denny puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
Really good (two thumbs up.) In the real world, a Warthog or Super Hornet would have anything biological for breakfast, but that's the thing about magic - you get to make it up as you go along.

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LennyMack has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
Genuinely hilarious (Praise God and pass the ammunition) and that's definitely going on the buy list.

I am deep into my own editing and that gave me the pick up I needed too (thanks).

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool JB,
But no EMF/P from a Dragon?
Those fuckers could take out a city with a small fart.

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Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
What I mean is there are biological systems reliant in EM for survival.
A large system would have a 'large EM' capability.

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
The real question JB is when do we get to read the books?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
March, April, May 2015.

MickH mutters...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool!
Thanks!

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
just paper or electrons as well?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
As well. With extra 'lectrons for some spin off ebook goodness

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
One a month for three months in a row? Cool! Has anyone ever done that before?

insomniac mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
Green Day did three albums in 4 months. Does that count?

insomniac puts forth...

Posted June 2, 2014
Count!

w from brisbane reckons...

Posted June 2, 2014
You could say that it is the serial monthly publication of a single large work, in which case, it is closer to how things used to be done.
Actually, I think the whole thing is just a stunt to show up George R R Martin. Poor George, why does everyone pick on him?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 3, 2014
Because he is fat. Fat people get picked on incessantly.

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Am ready to spend on these. Waiting.

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Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
I don't can't tell the splodey things apart, either. Looking forward to this too.

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
I wonder what Dragon steak tastes like?

yankeedog asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
Chicken, of course.

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Chaz asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014

Mick: smokin!!

JB: there was a front cover of Dragon Magazine form the late 80's (I think ) showing the inside of a Hornet cockpit as the pilot was about to engage a dragon

<img name="CiECYzm7tLKESM:" class="rg_i" style="width: 142px; height: 184px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: -2px; margin-left: -1px;" src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtlzd8xLwbgy-c5KWdwigosok_WzZ4PS5BNhOfRzC_jIT6HkE3" data-src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtlzd8xLwbgy-c5KWdwigosok_WzZ4PS5BNhOfRzC_jIT6HkE3" data-sz="f">


Dave W puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014

Dragon...Magazine...


There's a sub-culture that I never knew existed.


;-)

Blarkon reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
I linked to the original Dragon mag pic as well as this when discussing it with JB. It was from Dragon #143 (Mar 1989)

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Legless reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Point of order.

Now we've always been told dragons are reptiles. And reptiles are cold blooded. So how the hell is the sidewinders locking on to it? Admittedly - they could be locking on to the flames generated - but those flames would be in front of the dragon. The greatest heat source would be where the dragon isn't.

Think about this for a minute JB. It could make for an interesting plot twist.

You have a fucking *HUGE* flying dragon. And a multi-million dollar high-tech jet loaded with sidewinders. The pilot can see the dragon but the plane can't! It's sidewinders are blind. Radar guided munitions are useless against it as a dragon would have fuck-all of a radar signature. So you're left with mark-1 eyeball and cannons.

I think it would be kind of cool to have the jets all but defenseless against dragons as the weaponry can't see the bloody thing.

Mind you - the A-10 with it's 30mm cannon would turn it into dogmeat. You could also swap the sidewinders to be Mavericks in optically-guided mode and they would hit the fucker. But sidewinders? No.

Cheers

MickH reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Not sure about the RADAR signature Legless. Something that big would have one.

Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
Fa18s have a 20mm Vulcan on board too. Just sayin!

Legless is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Yeah - I was wrong about that. Be interesting to to see how a radar guided missile would cope with a dragon though. It might have a hissy fit of the target is too big. Or it might just bore in to the center of the signature

But sidewinders are heat guided so they may still be borked...

Legless reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Just thought that a Hellfire laser-guided missile might be a good bet as well. Illuminate the sucker and let rip. Who couldn't love a missile called "Hellfire"?

Murphy puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cold blooded or not, they breathe fire.

I'm not a big fantasy guy myself but most of the expository material on internal organs for dragons and the like usually have some sort of mechanism for sparking the flame plus organs which are responsible for generating the fuel. Further, with lighter than air gases, those could be used not only for the fire but also to assist with flight.

Thus, cold blooded or not, I suspect the dragon has a significant heat signature.

Other dragons are often purported to be covered in metallic scales, perhaps as a way to protect against other dragons.

Finally, Early Warning Radar during the Cold War used to detect flights of birds, prompting a freakout at NORAD more than once. If it can detect flights of birds, then I suspect it can detect a dragon the size of a 747.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted May 31, 2014
Historically not all reptiles have been poikilothermic. Comparisons of the distribution of blood vessels in the bones of dinosaurs and living animals show that the dinos more closely resembled the homeothermic mammals. Predator:prey ratios support this as does the modern view that birds are indeed the descendants of dinos, if not simply actual living therapods. Birds must be warm-blooded or homeothermic in order to generate sufficient energy to fly.

It could thus be argued that dragons are more likely to be at least partly feathered - wings, body and tail - and partly scaled - head and neck. This would give them better aerodynamic properties, help retain body heat and frankly look absolutely spectacular. I don't believe anyone has ever used feathered dragons in fiction?

Now since the largest known flying creature (off the top of my head at 2 in the morning) was Quetzalcoatlus (sp?) which was about the size of a small Cessna, a dragon would need some pretty fierce metabolism to generate enough energy. Their internal temperature might thus be very much higher than a mammal's and easily provide a target for infrared heat seekers. The feathers on the other hand,might not show up too well on radar but i guess birds do. And it's goodnight from me.

NBlob asserts...

Posted May 31, 2014
Ahh, the benefits of a misspent Holocene.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014

Given that there has to be some kind of reaction - probably a catalytic one involving stomach gases - in the mouth of the dragon in order to produce flame and the flame is that intense I would expect there to be a lot of residual heat in the head region for some time after it's flamed.

That would probably give enough heat for a lock-on. It would also depend on the sensitivity of the seeking mechanism. Reptilian in the draconic sense doesn't necessarily mean cold blooded. Traditionally they like cold remote mountain tops and the like. That implies some kind of internal heating mechanism.

Legles is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Fair points Anthony.

But I still think it would be kind of cool to have the first encounter of a Hornet and a dragon where the jet is loaded for bear and suddenly has an "Oh shit!!" moment when the pilot realises that he can't lock on to something the size of a football field...


Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
Superheated farts. Next question?

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Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
Hooray!! Some splodey stuff for a bit of change from bashing Abbot and his evil pig demon minions. Although I am sure BWS will be able to poetically reflect his hatred of the Rabbit and Rabble. I thought the A10s were retired but I defer to the googling fingers of you all.

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Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
PS. Please take my money now.

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
I'll be saving the nickels and dimes. Looks great!

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Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
No matter, F18s have a 20mm Vulcan on board for just such an emergency

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014

In FP there was an article about taking out Godzilla with a MOAB.

Dragons to manoeuvrable for that but mavericks or SLAM's would give them a worry and of course a GAU-8 would ruin their day IMHO


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Legless is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
I'm spending waaay too much time on this but it looks like I'm wrong about the sidewinders as well. This topic has been discussed in depth before by other authors:

http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/07/Poundingitintotheground.shtml

So because the dragon has to flap like crazy just to keep itself airborne it's going to be generating huge amounts of heat so it will have a significant heat signature.

Now I'm off to do some real work and stop thinking about how to take out mythical flying beasts with modern weaponry.


John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
ROFL.

Legless swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Yeah. I'm well aware of the irony. I waste productive work time to discuss how to take down a dragon and you're paid to think of ways to take down a dragon.

Bastard.

Want to swap jobs?

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Adam_Denny reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
If you were playing it straight, it would be interesting how the gatling guns on the Super Hornets, and especially the Thunderbolt, would impact on a creature large enough, that comparatively they could be considered anti-personnel weapons. High velocity, they would cause massive shock trauma to the dragon. Only then, what if especially the 30mm depleted uranium shells fragmented, and lodged in the dragon's wounds. Even if it survived, wounds that were irradiated like that wouldn't heal.

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool. Good to see that Boylan's in there. Guess you'd be pleased about that, professor/PNB?
JG


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
That depends on whether John makes me tall and gives me hair.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Mmm. Not so much. But you're prominent occipital crest gets a cameo.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Then I am quite pleased. My occipital crest has always been a "babe magnet" and, in the days when I was "on the market" - so to speak - the pickup line "hey, beautiful, wanna feel my head?" was wildly successful some of the time.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted May 31, 2014
Where "Some" = more than or equal to 0

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted May 31, 2014
It worked once or twice, but only with women into that Neanderthal role playing fetish that was fashionable back in the mid 1980's. Boy, am I glad that didn't catch on.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
Once they've done capping the dragon, let the F18 and A10 loose on herds of hobbits. Cap the fkn lot of the fkn smug little pyney fuckers.

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Anthony reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014

You'd appreciate Mary Gentle's novel "Grunts!". Orcs who acquire a cache of 1960's Marine Corps weaponry along with a geas which slowly turns them into a Marine style force (but still Orcs) and a couple of particularly repellent little hobbits and forces of good who make the current government look nice.. Lots of violence and mayhem and dead hobbits and elves all over the place; also very funny.


Classic line "Pass me another elf, Sergeant. This one's split".

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
Now that is something I'd love. Hobbits getting their come uppance.

Sudragon would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
We're all a bit worried about Pink Squad

Surtac mutters...

Posted June 2, 2014


Thanks for that Anthony. I just grabbed an e-copy from the Big River - less than USD5. :)

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
That was great. All I can say is shut up and take my money

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Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014

Can you have a look at what got Warren Ryan and David Morrow suspended from the ABC please? I can't believe this country anymore. Morrow got suspended last year for making an innocuous joke, that we make among ourselves, black and white together, here all the time, which related to how hard it is to spot a blackfella when the lights go out unless they smile. Now, fair enough, I can understand how people that haven't lived among blackfellas may think that a blackfella would find this offensive. Not the ones I know. In fact they've got some pretty good jokes about whitefellas themselves.

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
Best way to fight Dragons would be Macross Valkyries (Robotech Veratech Fighters).

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Justin mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
sign me up!!!! but I hope it has dragons beating up on the airplanes as well.....

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virag0 ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
Who gets to clean up the carcass? I mean 800 tonnes
of dragon meat is going to go off pretty quickly.
That job doesn't make it in the book, I'd bet ;)

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 31, 2014
It will now.

Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 31, 2014

Giant ants to help with the clean up?

I really really want to read this series. How about a case of Red Bull and a bucket load of amphetamines? We could all contribute to a 12 month home delivery coffee service?

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Chicom Mick would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
JB,

Thanks for the read. Solid extract. My favourite bit - "He'd read that in a Tom Clancy book". Classic reference.

I really must get me a copy….. after I get Protocol, of course.
I'll let you get back to it.

Regards

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
COLD FKN STEEL!....BRING THE RAIN...GUNNA GET SOME...FROM FKN ORBIT!.

NOTHIngs as satisfying as filleting a dragon with an oversized Gerber!

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Dan is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014

I have only one thing to say..

write faster!

Can I get you a coffee? Will that help?

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andrewmagoo19 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 31, 2014

Legless - valid point re the Sidewinder needing a heat source to home in on, but later marques can also follow a laser dot generated by a targeting pod, or a point designated by the pilot in his helmet display.



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Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted May 31, 2014

“Praise God and pass the ammunition,”
I think the term is Praise the Lord, ... and pass the ammunition.

Second why not go for the use of 70mm/2.75" Hydra or 5" Zuni rockets? Specs are on wiki, and there are multiple types of warhead to choose from. You would have 7 hydra's or 4 Zuni's per loadpoint, instead of 1 AAM.

Murphy puts forth...

Posted June 3, 2014
John McCain could probably answer the zuni question but since he isn't here, I will.

The Navy pretty much stopped using zuni rockets on their aircraft, USMC helicopters not withstanding, after some nasty carrier deck fires in Vietnam. I believe an incident on the Forrestal, where a radio frequency triggered an accidental zuni launch, was enough to have them pulled.

I don't see using a helicopter to go up against a dragon at jetliner altitude. As for the A-10s, they'd probably stick to the gatling.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted June 1, 2014
I thought your use of both spellings, travelling/traveling, was very deft and subtle. You know a society is under stress when even spelling convention consistency is beginning to fracture.

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted June 2, 2014


A nice tidbit of story there John. Thanks muchly.

I'm waiting patiently for these with shekels at the ready.

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Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted June 2, 2014
Dave cracked open a bleary eye and winced at the ripe smell of armpits. If he didn't shower soon he'd be killing Orcs or Demons or whatever the hell the things were just by getting upwind of them. He was just deciding that he hated helicopters, military bureaucrats and several other things, in no particular order, when right on cue came a
standard issue rapping. "Annoying fucking door-rapping, civilians for the shitting of", he thought. "Piss off!"

"Sorry Mr Hooper" said a smug voice, "you're wanted right now in the Colonel's office."

"Fuck the Colonel, I'm having a shower."

"I'm a sergeant Mr Hooper, that would be against regulations. And he said right now."

"So shoot me" Dave mumbled, opening the door and slouching off to the ablutions area for a fifteen minute scalding shower. When he emerged the sergeant hadn't drawn his pistol but his grin implied Hooper's troubles weren't over. "This way Sir", making it sound as if it was spelled c-u-r. Past the office door marked Colonel Weeks was a subdued looking colonel, a three star general and two civilians who looked as if their sympathies should be with the Demons.

"Sit down Mr Hooper. We're here to help you with the dragon problem" said the younger and slightly less oily civilian.

"Great. Would you like a Barrett or an axe?"

"Mr Hooper", said the older one "You know since they started the night raids on our airfields we've lost our advantage in the air. They took heavy losses but they're hard to kill and with their natural night vision being better than our best NVGs, we're barely able to hold our key positions." Young oily chipped in with "And that means the dragons are back to attacking in daylight and almost impossible to bring down!"

Hooper scrubbed at his eyes with palms of his hands and wished he'd brought the axe. "Thank you Captain Obvious, and how is that supposed to help?"

The civilians looked at each other almost with embarrassment. "It turns out that there are, um, unconventional forces available who are willing to help us with the dragons. At least in an advisory capacity. They've had past experience with them and like them even less than they like us. Two, ah, experts have been flown from England to liase with us. On dragon killing."

Dave was at least mildly curious, if nothing else because the three-star looked as if he didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Fine, wheel them in and let's hear it."

The older one nodded. "Show them in Dr Smith". Smith returned with what Dave took to be two children in tow, before he saw their faces. And their feet. Their unnaturally large and hairy feet.

He leaned back and groaned "Oh you are shitting me. You cannot seriously mean we've got fucking Hobbits now?"

A slight pressure over his groin made him look back down. The smaller of the two was standing two metres closer than he had been a second before and holding a viciously barbed black knife lightly against Dave's balls. The knife looked sword sized on the little bastard and like some fantasy piece of shit from a newsagent, but it also looked very, very sharp. "My name" he said in a kind of comedy-Irish accent "is Therbadoc, son of Egfroth. But you can call me Therbs."

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted June 2, 2014

Fancy that, being taken down as a fkn hobbit by GB. The impertinence and sheer audacity!. Funny as fuck but.

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andyf is gonna tell you...

Posted November 21, 2014

there may be a problem. how far would cannon ammo actually make it into flesh before running out of steam/ exploding ?

the 30mm ap- I can see that going a couple of metres in, leaving a decent sized hole. the 20mm flavour, maybe not very far at all. the stuff that explodes will surely be triggered by the scales, it would sting, but not do much, be like being paintballed - at 6000 rounds per min, <owww!>

I would think the best toys would be rockets / radar missiles,

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 21, 2014
These are the sort of discussions I'm very much looking forward to having after Xmas.

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Respond to 'Super Hornet vs a Dragon'