Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Checked my phone nine times on the bus.
Still no reply. Unsurprised.
You don't ask someone out by text message,
which is why I did.
How could a palm of screen link us heart to heart?
How could I declare my true affections in one hundred and sixty characters?
Perhaps if I knew Mandarin.

I will never know enough.
I know the process well enough to sabotage, watchmaker
No one is to blame. No one is at fault.
All my romantic failures are accidents. First a rear, and then the ending.
I don't know how to drive.

There are living people on the bus and I try to fall in love.
Nothing. Once a day is my limit.
If I stay on the bus it might keep going. I don't have to get off.
We can race towards the dawn, bus driver. You might be tomorrow's
lucky winner.
Your uniform, your cropped hair, your professional demeanour.
If it is you
I promise I won't let on.
Just don't let me off until the dawn.

The bus driver does not hesitate. Sticks to schedule.
Hauling reality a little closer to plan.
No love in this bus. I touch the corner of my eye.

Check my phone again.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


The worst prayers come in the shower.

Do you love the idea of a wife more than me,
Son of dust,
Says the Lord?

My heart is all in reach
I cannot grasp the smallest.

Monday, June 24, 2013


So the United States charged Edward Snowden with a few things, including espionage. He's probably guilty of communicating classified material to an unauthorised person - that's materially shown by the information be leaked to the Guardian. Espionage, however, is a crime of intent. It's hard to argue that he reasonably expected the information would be used against the United States when he was giving it to a reporter.

But whatever. I'm an Australian.

I sat down and thought for a bit about surveillance in Australia. And I really have no reason to think the federal police, or ASIO or whomever, is doing the same thing here. I also have no reason not to think that they are doing the same thing.

The Australian government has, since September 11 2001, stuck with the USA. It makes sense to maintain a military alliance which has been central to our security since the beginning of World War Two. What bothers me is that the Australian government has also been remarkably craven when it comes to being part of the broader "war on terror" - extraordinary rendition (a term which is the definition of Orwellian - it means kidnapping and torture), broader and broader powers for police and national intelligence agencies, and the chorus of fear-mongering used to justify all these things.

So when I imagine Australia being (secretly) asked to spy on certain Australian citizens without warrants or any real evidentiary basis and then give the results to the FBI or NSA or DHS or any of the alphabet of terror, the request is met with "Sure, here you go!"

An election has been called for later this year. Why aren't our federal politicians being asked about this? Is this done in Australia? Would you allow it? What limits would you place on it? Instead we get another round of speculation about internal Labour Party politics and ugly barracking about our ass-backwards racist fearful pointless policies intended to stop refugees from coming to our shores.

I don't like the idea of government employees being allowed to spy on me without a judge allowing it. I don't. I'm more scared of it than being blown up by a pressure cooker bomb. The spying thing is a betrayal. The bomb is a crime, and it doesn't deserve my fear.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Problem of Suffering...

...runs like this: God is omnipotent (can do anything) and omniscient (knows everything). He is also perfectly good. But there is suffering in the world. Either God cannot do anything about this suffering (not omnipotent and/or omniscient) or he chooses not to, in which case he is not perfectly good.

In summary, for suffering to exist in the world God must either be powerless over it, or be a real big jerk.

This question of whether suffering is compatible with belief in God (I mean the God of Abraham and Paul, the great unchangeable I AM) perplexes and discourages many Christians. It is often a stumbling block for those seeking God. And it has been a powerful argument for atheism for thousands of years.

I am a Christian, so I will approach the problem from a Christian point of view. I will be making certain assumptions that I feel no need to defend. I do not have to defend all of my faith every time I defend part of my faith.

What's the problem? 
The problem of suffering is even bigger than you think. Every terrible thing that happens on this planet happens, in one sense, because God does not prevent it. Every death. Every rape. Every mugging, mutilation, assault, arson, war crime, and act of littering happens because he does not prevent it. I believe he does not cause these things to happen, he does not actively will them, but nonetheless he certainly allows them to happen.

But let me restate the question of "what is the problem?" in a slightly different way. How do you identify this problem? When you say that the world should not be this way, should not contain suffering, against what are you comparing it? No human has ever experienced a world without suffering. Yet suffering is not only not hardwired into our expectations of the world, we actually expect or hope for a world without suffering.

This could be called imagination. I call it an awareness of what we are supposed to be and have. What we all silently expect is a perfect world. Most people try to create it for themselves while knowing it is impossible, but that is their desire: a perfect world. I believe perfection is not just a concept.

Perfection exists, and its name is God.

Perfection exists, and the state of humanity experiencing perfection is called perfect relationship with God. Heaven. The new creation.

So the problem, phrased differently, is: why am I not in heaven already?

Why not straight to heaven? 
If God is so good and loves us so much, why didn't he create the world and put us all straight into heaven?

Well, he sort of did that.

God created humanity and put them in a garden. He told them to take care of the garden. He visited regularly. The only negative instruction he gave them was don't eat from that tree there, because if you do you will die. Humanity was created to obey God and reflect his glory, to see and revel in his total amazing perfection. Adam and Eve (yes, both of them) chose to disobey God's instructions and make their own rules. They wanted to run their own lives.

God doesn't kill them. He could have wiped away the world and started again. Instead, he boots them out of the garden and they have to work for a living. But he promises them that one day Eve's descendants will triumph over the serpent - that is, the creature that tempted them into disobeying God.

What does all this have to do with you? Well, if you were put in Adam or Eve's place you would make the same decision. That's what makes you a human - all humans are disobedient now. You can't overcome what you are. Ever since the first two humans disobeyed God we have all been unable to obey God. We are all sinners.

It is this sin which messed the world up. God created the world as good, harmonious, fruitful. Human sin made it chaotic, painful, riddled with suffering.

It is humanity that is responsible for suffering. I don't mean that you yourself directly cause your own suffering, but the choices of Adam and Eve - the same choices you yourself would make - have broken the world. We choose to disobey God every day. Can we really get pissed at him when we suffer as a result of past disobedience?

Can't God fix it? 

Yes he can. He's omnipotent.

But consider this. Your sin is mixed up with the suffering in the world. Your sinful desires don't cause the suffering, but they come from the same source: the original sin of humanity. God can sweep in and take away the suffering. In fact, he is going to.

But when he does he will deal with the problem at the source. He will judge sin, and everything that is not perfect will be swept away by his anger. This includes people. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever done one thing that would not make God proud of you as his child? Then you're going to be swept away by his wrath as well.

God has provided a way out of this problem. He sent his son Jesus to pay for everyone's sins. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is shielded from wrath because God sees Jesus' perfection instead of human sin (Jesus being God, and therefore perfect).

The only reason God holds back the end to suffering, the re-creation of the world, the terrible flood of his righteous and judging anger, is so that as many people as possible will be saved by trusting in Jesus. Suffering will end. Judgement will come. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Electronic Economics

I was given a $30 gift card for JB Hi-Fi for my birthday, and since I now have a computer that might be able to run Starcraft 2 and was pretty sure I'd seen the game at JB for $34, off I went to purchase it. Maybe that $34 pricetag was only there for the Christmas sales, or maybe I only imagined it. Either way - I wasn't getting SC2 from JB without forking over sixty bucks. Sorry, $59.95. 

Now that is fine. Sometimes prices are oddly high or low at stores for reasons I can't guess at. But by this point I had been imagining finally getting this game and playing online games with my friend Big Josh. I hopped on to the Blizzard website to buy SC2 digitally. 

$39.99. I assume that is US dollars, so probably a little less in AUD at the moment. Wait, no, after logging in with my account I see it is $49.95 AUD.

Leaving aside the fact that from the splash screen Blizzard actually requires you to enter a account to see the price (click buy from this screen) this is a ridiculous price. First of all, this is a game that came out three years ago. Computer games usually experience a fairly swift fall in prices after the first 6-12 months. For example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out in 2011 and is $25 online through Steam (without taking sales into account). I'm sure it was around sixty dollars on release. This might seem like a steep drop-off but big-budget games aren't so different to big-budget movies: first the expensive release price for those want to have it now (at the movies). Then the lower price for those not prepared to pay so much, or only vaguely interested in the experience (buying or renting DVDs; also streaming video or Pirate Bay). 

But there is another reason why this price is ridiculous: it is only ten dollars less than the in-store price. This seems like a funny thing to say. It is very convenient to buy a game over the Internet; why should the publisher knock down the price for such a superior delivery method? 

In fact digital purchase is vastly less convenient than a physical disc. You have to download all the files for install rather than having them to hand, you have to re-download them if you get a new computer or have to re-format, and you cannot do any of this if the publisher's servers are down or you lack Internet access. That might be fine now, but in three years that publisher may not even exist. Companies merge, split, dissolve or are dissolved all the time. And who will be supporting the publisher's guarantee of access to the data you paid for? Probably no one. 

Not to mention that a digital copy is not "yours" in any physical sense. You can't sell it secondhand, or give it to a friend, or trade it in for something new. Digital purchase is a purchase of access to data and services, not of any clearly defined "thing". This is why it is cheaper for the publisher. They do have to pay for server space and so on, but this is much less than burning and shipping DVDs (packaging, quality control, security, so on and so forth). 

We also have to look at the competition. Blizzard's big enough to distribute its own games, but many companies aren't. In the world of digital distribution of games, there is Steam and Origin (we don't talk about Microsoft's efforts). I haven't really used Origin but I do use Steam. What is my experience of Steam? Games often cost the same on Steam as physically, but because of the frequent sales this is a fiction. Because of Steam, my attempt to buy SC2 was my first attempt to physically buy a computer game in years. Games are cheap and Steam's cloud backs up my progress in case of a hard drive failure. Yes, the same fears about access to what I paid for continue to exist. But the marketplace is cheap, slick and  most importantly Valve have been in the business for a while and to a degree have earned my trust. 

The final reason $50 is an outrageous price? This year Heart of the Swarm, the next standalone expansion pack (don't ask) for Starcraft 2, will come out. Multiplayer is the main reason I wanted to buy this game and Heart of the Swarm will have a separate multiplayer ladder (no crossover with basic SC2 players). Most dedicated SC2 players will upgrade. Essentially, base SC2 will be obsolete. And yet the price is still $50. 

I've put thirty-nine very enjoyable hours into Mark of the Ninja. I bought it on sale on Steam for five bucks. 

What kind of world are you living in, Blizzard?