You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

43. Alive by Piers Paul Read (1974) 318 p.

(spanish accent) no thanks to the plane, many of us are still... ALIVE!

Everybody is vaguely aware of the story of the Andes plane crash: the rugby team that went down in the mountains and resulted in the survivors being forced to eat the flesh of the dead. That’s all most people know about it – that one grisly detail. Granted, it’s an important part, but after reading this book I can say that it’s only one part among many.

Forty-five people were on Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, a plane chartered by the alumni rugby team of Montevideo’s Stella Maris College to attend a match in Santiago, Chile. Aside from the team members themselves, there were also friends and family onboard who had taken the opportunity to support the team and visit Chile. As it was flying through the Andes, a combination of bad conditions and pilot error caused it to clip the side of the mountain. One wing was torn off, flew backwards and sheared the entire tail section off the plane. Then the other wing came off. A crippled tube of a plane sailed through the air before sliding down a mountainside and coming to a halt in a snow-filled valley. Thirty-one of the plane’s forty-five passengers and crew were still alive. Only sixteen of them would leave the mountain alive.

They had crashed in a snowy desert. In one survivor’s words, there was nothing around them but “aluminium, plastic, ice and rock.” They had abundant water in the form of melted snow, but no food. Within weeks, they were forced to resort to eating the bodies of the dead passengers to stay alive. But this feature of their ordeal, which has been so reiterated and emphasised, poked fun at by everything from the Simpsons to Newstopia, is only one part of a much larger odyssey of survival. I will admit that I was originally attracted to this story because I’m a Lost fanatic. I’m absolutely fascinated by the concept of being on a plane, an ordinary person on an everday flight, and suddenly being plunged into a survival situation which pushes you to your physical and mental limits. As far as I can tell, this is the only situation in history where a plane has crashed and a number of survivors have been left isolated for an extended period of time. The crash occurred on October 13, 1972, and the boys were not rescued until December 23.

The bulk of this book concerns not the horrific act of cannibalism, but the myriad of other trials they faced to stay alive in such an inhospitable environment: an avalanche which killed eight of them and left the fuselage buried for three days, an expedition to locate the plane’s tail section, a frustrating two weeks spent trying to repair the radio, and their last-ditch effort to survive which sent two of their fittest, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, on a westward trek towards Chile to alert the outside world that they were still alive. It is a fitting reward to the courage, perseverance and resourcefulness of these young men – all but one of whom were in their teens or early twenties – that they were not rescued by a search team, but rather achieved deliverance through their own gutsy determination and will to survive.

Having said all that, I found this book compelling because of the real-life events it described, not because of any particular skill on Read’s part. While he certainly went to great lengths to track down enough information to weave a detailed account of the events, his position as an outsider naturally makes them feel somewhat distant and impersonal. Someone interested in the crash might be better off reading Nando Parrado’s personal account, Miracle In The Andes. Regardless, this is a story that is carried on the strength (and it’s a great strength indeed) of its real-life events, and I have no major issue with Read’s method of telling the story. Michael Chabon and Dan Brown could write books about this event, which would be at opposite ends of the artistic spectrum, and both versions would be equally engaging. No matter how it is told, this is an ageless tale of heroism, courage and adaptability. It’s just a shame that it’s so often remembered as a lurid story about the taboo of cannibalism.

He warned them that what they had done might come as a shock to the outside world.
“But will people understand?” the boys asked him.
“Of course,” he reassured them. “When the full facts are known, everyone will understand that you did what had to be done.”

Books: 43/50
Pages: 13, 028

Age status: 20

A pretty huge step, arguably even more than 17 to 18.  I’m fucking twenty.

Didn’t do much with it – biggest event of the day was probably going to the post office to apply for a passport for the Japan trip, which cost $208. Score.

Rach got me a new phone which is pretty cool. My old one was a 2004 model that I’ve had for far too long. The new one lets me do all kinds of crazy 2008-era things like take photos, and surf the Internet on a screen the size of my big toenail, and set the Metal Gear Solid codec sound effect as my ringtone (irredeemable nerd).

Anyway gonna go to bed now to lie staring at the ceiling contemplating my mortality. Happy birthday to anyone else born on the 21st, like Dizzy Gillespie and Alfred Nobel and all those other people who are dead!

It’s 1:00 AM and I’m staring down the barrel of another all-nighter, with a presentation on postmodern literature to give at 4:00 PM. I’d be lying if I said that starting this any earlier would have improved the quality of it, which is good, because I’m not going to.

My opinion on the academic charlatanry I’m forced to indulge in on a monthly basis still stands, but I have to admit that I kind of enjoy this, and will miss it when it’s gone. There’s a certain pride to be had in receiving a pass mark for handing in a load of pseudo-intellectual garbage. An honour in beating the system. It’s a bluffing game, and one that I’ve learned to play quite well.

So far, anyway. If I crash and burn during this presentation and break down into tears in front of the class I suppose I’ll take that back.

42. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951) 192 p.

good old bland penguin covers

The Catcher In The Rye is a classic novel about being a young man, so it seemed appropriate to read it in the last few weeks of my teenage years. I certainly didn’t time it so that would be the case! No sir.

Sixteen-year old Holden Caulfield, hailing from a wealthy American family, is kicked out of his fancy prep school just before Christmas and spends a few days wandering around New York City before going home to face the music. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. At times he seems like a really nice guy; at other times, a jerk. He’s certainly a cynical bastard, with a lot of contempt for humanity, but I couldn’t help but like him nonetheless.

My sister Phoebe was named after Holden’s sister, a fairly important character in the book, so I suppose that makes me Holden. I had this discussion with Chris, who hasn’t read it:

Mitch: The main character’s kind of a dick. He passes judgement on absolutely everyone he meets.
Chris: So do you.
Mitch: Yeah, but he constantly shares it with you.
Chris: So do you.

Holden is the entire point of the book, and your opinion of him as a character is your opinion of the book in its entirety. And I thought he was okay. Usually likeable, occasionally annoying, always interesting. You can tell that he’s got the wrong opinion on a lot of things, but they’re always amusing to hear anyway. Given the above exchange I suppose this is my opinion of myself as well.

I’ve heard that apparently a lot of people love this book when they’re young and can identify with the protagonist, and then read it again fifteen or twenty years later and think “Wow, what a asshole.” I’m sort of hovering between those two viewpoints myself and wondering whether 19 was entirely the wrong age to read this.

Books: 42/50
Pages: 12, 710

For any End Times readers who check this place more often than they do End Times itself (which wouldn’t be too surprising, given the imbalance), I’ve started updating again, and will try to do so more frequently in the future.

11:55 – The leadup discussion on SBS supports my belief that 95% of Australians (and, perhaps, foreigners in general) want Obama to win.

11:59 – There are a lot of Republicans who want Palin on top of the ticket? Really? Who are these people, and who feeds and clothes them?

12:00 – Oh, so this is a “town hall” meeting. Why?

12:07 – What is it with McCain/Palin and “countries that don’t like us very much”? Did they just discover this a few days ago, or something?

12:08 – I don’t see how a “town hall” format where the senators have to walk around is going to favour McCain. He walks like he has rigor mortis.

12:09 – “Who would your treasurer be?” “Not you, Tom.” What the fuck?

12:10 – Those high chairs were a stupid idea. Obama looks like a child and McCain looks like a propped-up corpse that can’t bend.

12:17 – I love it how McCain always refers to those nameless, faceless bad guys in Washington; all the cronies and lobbyists and the “old crowd” who better expect change, because he’s a maverick!

12:18 – “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?” Obama freezes like a rabbit in headlights, but recovers fairly well.

12:24 – So McCain is happy to “reach across the aisle” and “sit down at the table” with the Democrats, but not with the Spanish? That seems odd.

12:25 – Brokaw getting increasingly more irritated by the candidates’ refusal to stick to the timeline is pretty amusing.

12:28 – Larger deficits than the federal government, oh Brokaw, you witty fellow.

12:29 – First Internet question from a “child of the depression” – I didn’t know 70-year olds used the Internet – asks when Americans will have to make sacrifices. McCain goes off on some bizarre idea about slashing government programs, except the vital ones like “defence” and “veteran’s affairs.” (I’m sure the US can do without “education” and “health.”) Obama starts off with 9/11 and criticises Bush’s command to go out and spend, which was nicely done, though the urge to join the Peace Corps was ambitious.

12:35 – McCain says Obama wants to raise taxes as though it’s on par with murdering sick babies.

12:36 – Senator Obama’s secret “that you don’t know,” drumroll, is that his tax cuts will damage small business or something. SHOCK HORROR

12:37 – Ahaha, Brokaw says he has another question from “The Internet,” with an emphasis on it as though this is 1995.

12:39 – “Nailing Jello to the wall,” “Straight-Talk Express losing a wheel…” both candidates need to stop trying to make jokes.

12:41 – McCain declares that he’ll answer the question, laughs freakishly, and advances on Brokaw like a crippled zombie. He criticises Obama’s frequent voting in support of tax raises, comparing their records. I know this is a basic division between Republicans and Democrats, and the American people are equally divided on it, but GODDAMMIT WE NEED TAX MONEY TO PAY FOR STUFF

12:44 – McCain makes the laughable assertion that nuclear power is “safe” and “clean.” He seems to be trying to whip up a lot of nationalist sentiment, going on about how awesome America is, which might have worked if it weren’t for Brokaw glaring at each member of the audience, daring them to even try making a stir.

12:46 – Obama talks about alternative energy sources, geothermal and solar and wind and such. This is the intelligent answer, and the one that the Western world will have to go with in the end anyway, but I’m not sure how it will play with Americans.

12:49 – ….Did McCain just refer to Obama as “that one?”

12:55 – McCain makes a crack about “hair transplants.” I TOLD YOU TO STOP MAKING JOKES.

12:56 – McCain says healthcare is a responsibility, Obama says it is a right, talking about people going bankrupt over their medical bills, which is “fundamentally wrong.” This is clearly true, and we all know that the entire world looks at America’s healthcare system with disgust, but it seems risky for Obama to say that to the people who apparently want it that way.

1:00 – my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends

1:02 – McCain is repeating the old “Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand” line that proved unpopular last debate. He’s also still not looking Obama in the eye when he criticises him, which will be a lot easier to get away with in the town hall format, but is still imprudent.

1:06 – Obama finishes up a talk with “that’s what I will do when I’m President.” Is that presumptuous? Or do presidential candidates always talk like that? McCain brings back the old line about troops in Iraq and how any negative word against them equals defeat, blah blah blah.

1:09 – “Should the United States respect Pakistani sovereignity… or should we ignore their borders and pursue our enemies as we did in Cambodia?” Yes, Cambodia turned out so well. Obama turns this into an issue of being disctracted by Iraq, says that the Afghan-Paki border is the front line in the war on terrorism. “We will kill bin Laden, we will crush Al-Qaeda.”

1:11 – McCain says Teddy Roosevelt is his hero mere minutes after saying Reagan is his hero. Make up your mind. He makes the case for co-operation with Pakistan rather than force. This is an unusual role reversal.

1:13 – In a follow-up, Obama clarifies that if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden than the US should, and brings up McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” thing. This is heating up!

1:15 – Obama brings up Pakistan’s dictatorship status and claims that’s why public opinion turned against the US there. McCain claims to know how to get bin Laden, but won’t tell us. That’s nice of him.

1:19 – Onto Russia now. McCain rightfully chides its recent behaviour, then repeats his tired old line about looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing three letters: K, G and B. You know, I look into Palin’s eyes and see three letters: G, W and B.

1:23 – Brokaw brings up a stupid quote from the nightmarishly black and white years of the Reagan administration and asks them if they think Russia is an “evil empire.” Both candidates criticise the question and avoid giving a direct yes or no, as they should.

1:25 – A guy asks a question about defending Israel, and McCain practically humps his leg because he was a serviceman. This troop worship has got to stop.

1:30 – Question about what Obama doesn’t know and how he will learn it. Obama just barely manages to steer it away from the inexperience angle, by going off on a story about the American dream.

1:34 – And McCain responds in kind with another feelgood talk about how people always pull together, or something.

1:35 – Brokaw brings it to a close, ordering McCain to get out of the way of his teleprompter. Holy fuck, is that McCain’s wife? She’s like 30! Another note on wives – McCain’s is wearing a blue dress and Obama’s is wearing a red dress.  Handshakes, waving, touching.

So to sum up, it was – SURPRISE SURPRISE – a fairly restrained debate with no knockout blows or gaffes on either side! Both candidates avoided questions and spun their own agendas, as usual, but Obama probably came out on top simply due to his body language and appeal. McCain said and did a few odd things which were very unappealing. On the whole, this was nowhere near as one-sided as the VP debate, and also nowhere near as interesting.

Postscript: I missed this while it was on, but have since been made aware of this clear evidence that McCain has nothing but contempt for Obama. What a fuckhead.

I know I always argue against paranoid internet conspiracists who think the US is only a few constitutional amendments away from a totalitarian police state, but this was just too good to resist:

Dr. Lawrence Britt* outlines the 14 characteristics of fascism:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

REPUBLICANS R F*CKIN NAZIS MANNNNN!!1

Not quite that bad, obviously, but disturbing patterns emerge.

*Who will probably turn out to be some whacko who thinks 9/11 was an inside job.

41. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006) 342 p.

recommended by SIMON PEGG HIMSELF

As I mentioned a little while ago, I have an understandable aversion to zombie fiction of any kind these days, in the same way that a man living in a glorious palace of chocolate might long for a piece of celery. It’s also partly due to the fact that so much zombie fiction is stale and repetitive, featuring plucky survivors holed up in a farmhouse with no idea of what’s going on in the outside world.

World War Z, by renowned zombie expert Max Brooks (author of 2004’s Zombie Survival Guide), takes a completely different stab at things. It’s a comprehensive “oral history” examining the global effects of a mass zombie pandemic, interviewing subjects from all over the world who were involved in different areas of the conflict. There’s everyone from a Brazilian black market surgeon who sees one of the first cases, to an American schoolgirl who flees into the Canadian north with her family, to a greedy pharmaceutical executive who exploits the panic to create a lucrative placebo.

The entire book is comprised of fictional post-war interviews, and the beauty of this approach is that it allows both a global examination, and the single-person survival narrative that the genre is founded on. We see inside the head of everyone from the Vice-President of the United States to a wretched feral child who was forced to grow up in the wild. Many of these form quite fascinating stand-alone stories, notably the US Air Force pilot who survives a plane crash and must make her way to an evacuation point through the Lousiana swamps, aided by a voice on her radio that may jsut be her imagination; and the Chinese submarine commander who deserts with his crew and sets off on a journey through the Waterworld-esque oceans, bartering with refugee ships, examining zombie-infested coastlines and trying to stay ahead of hunter-killer subs from the Chinese navy.

Like the best zombie fiction, this book is a parable. Just as Dawn of the Dead criticises American commercialism and consumption, World War Z attacks bureaucratic incompetence, human greed and the insular, self-absorbed nature of the American people. Brooks strays away from mentioning any specific people or events, in order to keep the book timeless; for example, the Iraq War is referred to as “the last brushfire war.” One of the most interesting things I found here was his prediction that we won’t lose in Iraq, but that it will be perceived as a loss, because it has taken so much time and money and lives – that it wasn’t a knock-out blow like Americans want and expect.

There are a few criticisms, as always. While Brooks paints the characters quite well, they occasionally seem to be the wrong character: for example, the slick, corrupt pharmaceutical executive who escaped to a stronghold in Antarctica after making billions on a false miracle cure spoke like a Brooklyn street punk. Some of the characters (especially non-Americans) are quite often stereotypes, such as the befuddled English fop who loves his queen, the California diver who thinks whales are awesome, or the double whammy for the Japanese: an otaku geek with no social skills and a wise, honourable sensei steeped in tradition and skilled with the blade. Despite being far more globally aware than I’d expect from an American author, the book is still quite US-centric, and I was a little disappointed that Australia didn’t get much of a look-in. There is a single Australian character, for the record, whose narrative is the last one you’d expect: as commander of the International Space Station. He’s as intelligent, articulated and wise as you’d expect such a man to be, though Brooks couldn’t resist throwing in at the end: “Not bad for the son of an Andamooka opal miner.” Sigh.

On the whole, however, this is still a great book. It’s well-crafted enough to appeal to those who wouldn’t normally read fiction of this type, with the benefit of a few allegorical moral messages in there as well. It’s breaths of fresh air like this that the genre desperarely needs.

Books: 41/50
Pages: 12, 518

World War Z at The Book Depository

40. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969) 215 p.

i can't think of a caption for this bloody boring cover

Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.

He’s in World War II in the snow, frightened and alone and behind enemy lines. He’s a child in the chlorine stink of the pool at the YMCA. He’s an ageing optometrist, staring out the window of his office at a suburban shopping mall carpark. He flails back and forth from birth to death, waking up in different stages of his life, and he has no idea why.

Vonnegut based this book on his own experiences as a prisoner of war in Germany. He was one of only a very small handful of people who survived the firebombing of Dresden, one of the greatest war crimes in history. While Billy may be exploring space and time, the book revolves around his days in the war – which, as with any veteran, are simultaneously the best and worst times of his life, the saddest and the most exciting, the most interesting and the most horrific. The rest of his life is one long, mundane slide into tedium.

This is an anti-war book. As Vonnegut points out, it’s similar to an anti-glacier book. But it doesn’t matter if it’s utterly useless. It has to be written.

There is no glory or glamour in war, despite the fantasies of Billy’s comrades. It is messy and brutal and violent and stupid. The Germans are not evil – they bid goodnight to their prisoners, hunt them down with a tracking dog named Princess, and are bemused by how vicious and cruel some of the Americans are to each other.

Vonnegut has a simple style of writing, but every word has a melancholy depth to it. It’s a sadder book than the Sirens of Titan, but still filled with that fundamental moral statement on the human condition: not sad, not happy, not hopeful or pessimistic or disapproving, but just accepting. We are what we are, and we can’t change it. So it goes.

Books: 40/50
Pages: 12, 176

We just got reconnected to the Internet, switching service from the decrepit, wheezy Westnet to slick, fast national telecom company Telstra. It’s a noticeable improvement. We were supposed to get recconected on Thursday, but the dude showed up at the wrong time so it was rescheduled for today, which was why I had to spend eight hours last night using Chris’ computer to do some research for assignments that were due today while the grey fingers of dawn slowly crept above the horizon. It’s now 2.00 PM and I’m going on 27 hours without sleep. Hurrah!

So let’s recap some things that happened during my absence.

I just watched the Biden/Palin debate on ABC, and it was somewhat disappointing. Judging from her TV interviews I was expecting a catastrophic but entertaining trainwreck, but Palin actually kept it together fairly well. She didn’t actually give any coherent or sensible answers, of course, but she stuck to the aw-shucks small-town hockey-mom persona that is her main strength and came through without any major fumbles, apart from fucking up McKiernan’s name.

Quick aside: why on Earth do Americans find the idea of an average Joe president appealing? Why do they have this concept that well-educated, intelligent professionals are “elitists” who can’t be trusted? You have no business being President. You don’t know how to be President. And that’s why we don’t want anyone like you to be President. If you are in doubt of this, examine the last eight years. The last thing America and the world needs right now is another redneck yokel seizing the reins of the world’s most powerful warhorse, equipped as it is with nuclear firebreath and a vast army of the Midwest’s underprivileged teenagers.

Anyway, Palin’s stance throughout the debate can mostly be summed up as “Doggone it say it ain’t so joe folksy rural charm aw gee willikers mainstream liberal media MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK MAVERICK.”

Biden did a great job. “Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere” was an ice cold burn, calling out her bullshit on McCain being a maverick was great, and the bit where he choked up was fucking magnificent. If he’d actually failed to hold it back, and cried a little, he would have looked weak. But he didn’t. He kept his composure and it was brilliant.

Moving on from the farcical notion that Sarah Palin is fit to govern Alaska, let alone the United States, let’s discuss my personal life some more. The reason I have been so busy this September, failing to update End Times even once, is that I had prac. Fucking prac.

2008 is my final year of university, and I signed up to a work experience unit that would see me placed in a workplace related to professional writing for six weeks, two days per week. I then proceeded to be completely lazy about finding a place to work and ended up in one of the least desirable places: a local government office. I’m not going to say which one. I doubt they’re much different anyway.

Have you seen the movie Fight Club? You know the dead, exhausted look that Edward Norton has in his eyes whenever he’s in office scenes?

i no longer remember joy

That was exactly how I felt for the duration of my 96 hours in that sterile labyrinth of cubicle walls, computer monitors and coffee mugs. By the end of my first week I had decided that I would rather slam my dick in a car door than ever work in an office of any kind ever again. God himself could not deisgn an environment more supremely devoted to crushing every molecule of the human soul.

And rush hour! Fucking rush hour. Why on Earth have we designed our cities so that we all live in these distant suburbs and spend an hour sitting in a river of cars every morning, and an hour going back up the same river every evening? It’s the most monumentally inefficient system imaginable. How do people do that five fucking days a week?

Furthermore, the work I was doing I had zero passion for. It was all media releases and funding applications for trivial community charity organisations. Which is great, sure, but I don’t care. Every now and then one of my co-workers (who were all very nice people) would say, “So, how are you finding local government? It can be pretty interesting,” and I would reply, “Um – yes! Yes, very interesting indeed. I have no urge whatsoever to locate a firearm and spray my brains across the keyboard.”

It was certainly a useful experience, though, in the same way that a vaccination is a useful experience. I am now more confident than ever that I do not want to do what I have spent the last three years being educated to do.

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