Mikel Ocean Azure



Thinking on the run and chewing the practical fat with fellow travellers.

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Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 24, 2011 at 9:28 PM Comments comments (1)

The end of your last year at school provides a striking example of damaging false thinking.  The false idea is the one that says your entire future depends on what university you get into. 

What a load of bollocks.

The false idea is even more stupid than that first formulation.  Working back from which uni you get into the all or nothing lie appears when students are choosing the subjects they will study years before their last year.  Students are told that they need to pick "the right" subjects in their early teens so they can get into the right streams and get the right marks and get into the right university and get the right career and that if they get it wrong some massive life tragedy will ensue.

What a load of rancid bollocks.

When it comes to education paths and career paths there are multiple routes to the same destinations.  Assuming that most fourteen year olds can actually know where they want to be in twenty years time still does not mean any decision they make at fourteen will absolutely rule out any destination they ultimately want to reach.

You can get accepted to a "lesser" university, go, excell and use that excellence to shoe horn your way into "better" universities.  You can excell at the "lesser" university and enter the career stream you desire and THEN use your excellence to move toward the ultimate career goal you started with.  You can skip university initially,  get straight into the work area you want to be in and then use your work experience to gain admission to the university of your choice.  Multiple paths.  It's not all or nothing. 

I've illustrated it with the student education path but the general principle is the same,  in most things in life there are multiple paths to get us there.  Not everything, but most things.

The all or nothing lie puts false pressure on people at decision points.  The lie makes us think the decision we are making is between utopia and misery.  That false perspective makes each decision a burden when it need not be so.  It also creates a false expectation in us, that THIS decision is the one that will ensure our life long happiness.  When this decision does not ensure our happiness we feel life has cheated us.  Life has not cheated us,  we have a false idea and false expectations.  

There surely are a few decisions we could make that DO have a truly monumental impact on everything that comes after that decision AND which are irreversible decisions.  But those quality of decisions are rare. 

Most of our decisions are not all or nothing. 

Most of our decisions can be unmade or remade with subsequent choices.

Life is complex and there are multiple paths to the same destinations.

If you are a parent, please don't burden your children with the all or nothing lie.

If you are an adult then you are now parent to yourself, don't burden yourself with the all or nothing lie.

In our lives, in the search for fulfillment and happiness

We have more chances than we think.



We Love Stories.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 21, 2011 at 4:52 AM Comments comments (0)

Why do we love stories?

Pretty much that's all I've got, the question.

Maybe you think you don't love stories.


Do you love even one movie?

Do you regular WANT to watch even one tv show?

Is there even one song you love and will always love?


Then you love stories, just like the rest of the human race.

But why do we love stories?

What I can tell you, as a long time story lover and story teller is this:

Stories have power.

Stories have joy.

Stories have life.

Stories carry me to some other place.

Stories touch me in hidden places.

I don't protect myself from fiction the same way I protect myself from reality.

Fiction can share truth with me when I'm still denying it in reality.

That much I know.

I think there is plenty more to know about stories.

I also think that you can tell good ones without understanding why they are good

Or how they work.

Something else I know.

You are a story teller even if you don't see it.

We tell stories to ourselves all the time.

We process our reality by RE-telling it to ourselves.

Think about that for a while,  it could change your life, or at least, make it richer.



Sudden Change

Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 16, 2011 at 9:11 PM Comments comments (0)

Most of us have our lives set up to support a simple fiction.  Pretty much the entire Western capitalist system is setup to support the same simple fiction.  Regardless of the news entertainment industry's relentless attempt to challenge the fiction we somehow manage to watch all the tragedy and disaster without grasping it's lesson. 

My life can change in one moment.

The fiction we cling to is that things will go along nicely just as they are and we need not consider the matter any further than that.  We do not want to think about the fact that our lives can change without reference to our intent or our plans. 

Now the news entertainment industry (Have to add the *entertainment* adjective, even in my thirty five years of paying attention to the news I recognise the dramatic shift from substance to sensation, from journalist to public relations dupe, from an ethical subculture to a corporate clone culture.) serves up a soap opera of dramatic disasters and terrible traumas and warps the perspective on it all.  More outrage at one crook who robs an old lady of her hand bag on the street than at thousands of millionaire crooks robbing millions of people of their life savings.  Think about it, consider what you've seen on the screen and you will see that matters of very different scales are reported in inappropriately similar tones.  Now consider who that might serve.

Anyway, that wasn't my point, so back to it.

So I was saying that we are surrounded by evidence that our life can change in the twinkling of an eye.  Most of us steadfastly turn away from ruminating on that reality, perhaps because most of us are more pessimistic than optimistic, we don't want to think about the possiblity of our life changing for the worst just around the corner.  There is as much reason to be optimistic, I'd argue, some other time, there is actually MORE reason to be optimistic.

Life can change for the better in the twinkling of an eye.  It can change for the better without our initiating it.  Good things simply come to us.  You might as well call them gifts as anything else.

In the last week I have experienced this and it's a pretty invigorating ride.

I have met a remarkable woman.  Now the story is not quite so compact as that.  She introduced herself to me and gave me her contact details but it was many weeks before the matter proceeded any further.  I stuffed up the first meeting without knowing I had, came away from it thinking this was a breathtakingly delightful and rich individual who I really wanted to get to know better but left her with an impression of me that was quite unhelpful.

I got a second chance when we bumped into each other again and I will admit I was in a small panic to make sure I grabbed that opportunity to say hi and what happened next is that moment, the one where your whole life shifts track.  She gave me a second chance and accepted my invitation to have a good long chat.  She had reason not to talk to me again but in that space where a decision is made, she decided for me, something entirely outside my control but with immense potential to transform my life in countless positive ways.

It is my intuition and my hope that in thirty years time this blog will be the first of many I write inspired by the impact and influence of this woman on my life.  There is good reason to hope in that direction but you can't always tell from the first paragraph if a story is going to be a long one or a short one. 

Even if our story is not a long one the impact of meeting some people even briefly can be life changing.  It depends on the quality of the person and how their qualities intersect with the open and unresolved themes in your own journey.  This woman is definitely one of those quality of individuals for me.  Her fusion of character, personality, history and hopes resonates intensely with my stuff.  Not the harsh discord of damaged patterns crashing into each other, the natural and delightful harmonies of two lives close enough to be complementary and different enough to create together a third new thing of beauty and joy.  Just knowing, first hand, that such a person exists, shifts a private but unfullfilled hope to a realistically fufillable goal.  If it can be real once, it can be real twice.  If She is not *The One* meeting her affirms to me that women like her are real and they are attainable. 

Either way,  that second conversation transforms my life.  That moment she decided to chat to me the second time is the turning point, everything after that is different.

You just don't know what's about to happen.

Our lives don't roll along unchanging but we do our best to interpret it that way because it makes us feel safe and comfortable.

It might feel safe and comfortable but I suspect it's really only a half living, we are missing a great deal of what's going on, not engaging it, not enjoying it, not growing with it, not making the most of what's offered.  For sure I'm guilty of that but I think maybe less so from now on.

Peace to us all.


Humanity Is My Religion.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on January 7, 2011 at 9:11 AM Comments comments (0)



I don't consider religions to be bad but I do think the absolutizing of any one of them is a bad thing.

I think a concern for humanity is the thing to relativize all religions. Not comparing one religion to another, but measuring any religious stance in terms of it's effect in enhancing coroporate and individual human existence.



Now all religions are going to say they enhance more than the others, or enhance the most important aspects of human existence better than any other.






That's no more sophisticated a position than the sporting team supporter who always supports her team regardless of their results and can always find a way to be positive regardless of the reality of her teams performance or history. Just because that attitude is displayed in the context of a religion does not make it any more credible, perhaps less so.



The place I stand now is that I measure my own religious beliefs and conduct by it's relevance to making human life better. Not some pie in the sky when I die idea of human life, but THIS life, the one I can see and feel.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in Eternity and I believe there is much more to a human being than merely the material existence. I find (An admittedly ambigious.) comfort in the idea of a spiritual community that I can share in after my body drops it's bundle completely.






I think any code for living that allows the unseen to warp and weight it's balance of priorities against that which can be seen and clearly weighed in the lives of the living is just irrational and inexcusable.



Simply, if your and my religious beliefs and practices enhance the health, justice, equality, joy and richness of humanity and humans, all of us, then I'm cool with it. If not, then I'm not.

And yes, I realise that my use of the concept "seen and unseen" begs a whole bunch of clarifying questions, for the time being I'll clarify that there are at least  two kinds of "unseen", that which is unseen but available to human exploration and reflection because it's inside us in ways we share and can reflect on together as part of our shared experience and the "unseen" that is postulated to be outside us and available only by access to special revelations, faith and that kind of thing.

I'm cool with the internal and shared "unseen" of human experience as part of the measuring of what's good and not so good.

Happy New Year.








Honesty and Christmas.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on December 25, 2010 at 7:13 AM Comments comments (1)





I am a BIG movie fan. I mean, multiply the girth of the universe by the number of hamburgers eaten by the average Aussie bogun in any given year and even THAT number won't be big enough to let you grasp how BIG a movie buff I am.



I think movies are THE modern cultural stream.

If you want to write a PhD thesis on modern society and culture, write it about Movies.



Do you want to know what modern cultural expression has the same interpretive power in our generation as we attribute to the great Masters of classical painting? MOVIES!



OK, that's my one exclamation mark in ten thousand words. (Hemmingway's standard.)



Movies, despite the venality of so many .that get to our screens, are THE modern narrative expression of meaning and values and self reflection. That's what I think.



They incorporate story telling, visual power and (In those rare few with any good quality scriptwriters supported by intelligent directors and intelligent producers.) the soul scouring blade of well used words.



Sadly, the potential of the majority of movies are undermined by the power of the “bean counters”, the profit margin obsessives and the egos of the actors involved.



Here is a piece of movie world reality. Every major movie actor is insured for millions of dollars on each movie. The insurance company will not allow THE star to be at risk. If THE star takes an injury then the whole movie takes a dive or costs massive amounts more to make. Therefore, the insurance companies make sure that the star of a movie never takes risks.



Now, if you watch all the “extras”and “features” of some movies, you are given the distinct impression that the movie star DOES take risks. I remember one movie, it's quite impossible for me to remember exactly which movie that might be, in which the additional features were edited to make it look like the male lead, a real tomcat, actually DID one of the big stunts in the movie. That particular (In my view shallow and clearly insecure.) actor even gave the impression he HAD done the stunt. How embarrasing is that? A ful grown male PRETENDING he took a risk he didn't take? Like a twelve year old lying to impress a girl.



Meanwhile an actual stuntman took the actual risk and made the liar actor look good.



Now you might think that on Christmas day I had something more substantial and “deep” to write about.



Is there anything more substantial than honesty?



I love movies.



I admire the talents of actors and directors and screenwriters and producers and directors of photography and gaffers and all the gifted talents who work together to create the modern narrative miracle of the movie genre.



Any sane person knows that the actors don't take risks. We, the movie viewers, don't need to believe the actor is in danger for us to enjoy the movie and to be carried alone by the narrative.

Apparently some actors are so underdeveloped as human beings THEY still need us to believe they take risks they don't actually take.



I still remember, “You had me at.....”

No risk was involved in that truth, no danger imagined or stunt person involved. A grown up actor would understand they did not need to lie to convince us that they GAVE us something in their art.



In art, in movies, as in life, the truth always has more power than the lie.



Let us each be naked and honest.



Let us not pretend we are more than we are.



Let us not pretend we are less then we are.



Christmas is a time full of bullshit.

This year I met a guy who wanted toknow why people made such a fuss about being nice and honest and giving at the end of the year, why not all year round? Fair question.



So I leave you with this question...




















Not Really Friends.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on November 7, 2010 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (2)

In the taxi I was driving on Saturday night I had one short (Thankfully.) trip with four customers.  Four twenty something young women who were already far enough into their cups as to be somewhat careless of normal social constraints of communication. 

It was a very noisy trip because at any point at least two of the four were speaking and all of them on the same topic:  who was best friends with who and who had said what nice or nasty thing about who and the details of the most recent friendship failure between them and if it was a failure and who was to blame for it and ....................  .

One of the women was particularly outspoken, correcting everyone in pretty much everything they said and finishing it off by insulting me as she got out of the taxi. (No idea what that was about unless it was because I wouldn't turn off the meter and give them a free ride!)  Basically these four argued non stop.  They did not agree about anything.  They were annoyed with each other.  They were aggressive with each other.  They were using friendship words but all the non verbals and the communication patterns were of combat and competition, win/loose. 

It got me thinking about friendship again.  A thought I've had before is that many people have friends who are not really friends.   Perhaps we get them because they just happen to be the guys we were socially required to hang out with at school and that developed a pattern which just endured on, humans being generally resistant to change and thus willing to endure all kinds of dissatisfactions to avoid change.   Perhaps we get them from a similar process in a work place,  they happen to be the people in our office who we consequently go out with from time to time and even without a real friendship connection a pattern develops and gets stuck.

Now my analysis requires a definition of friendship.  Here's one of the top of my head.

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection, mutual respect and having a mutually shared level of personal intimacy between parties.  Plenty of other ways it could be defined but that will do for now.

By my on-the-run definition a relationship without respect is not a friendship.  If someone does not respect you, even if you try to respect them, it's not a friendship, it's some other kind of relationship.  If you like someone but don't respect them, that's not a friendship either.  If someone shares deeply with you but you don't share at a similar level, that's not a friendship, it's not mutual intimacy. 

Friendship is mutually rewarding, mutually enriching and empowering.  For sure,  over the long haul  a friendship can legitimately have seasons of being out of balance, less mutual in some aspect, but an actual friendship will regain balance because that is what both parties honestly want in that relationship.  Any relationship that is permenantly or dominantly out of balance is not a friendship, it's something else.

Using my four combative customers as an example.  I think they were enmeshed but not friends.  If that one trip was an accurate slice of their reailty (A big assumption I know, but for the sake of illustration I'll stick with it.) then they did not respect each other, they had no affection for each other and their whole dynamic was to keep each other at arms length, not in an intimate closeness. 

People mistake shared history for friendship but as soon as I remind you of how divorcing couples can argue over details from twenty years in the past and do it with hatred and malice, you grasp my point - lots of shared experiences and lots of detailed knowledge about the other person is NOT friendship.  These four women clearly knew each other very well but they did not share any agreements about what that shared knowledge meant or how to interpret it.  Nothing mutual was going on except a veiled mutual antipathy. :)

I"ve thought about this a lot over the last ten years because I've got few friends.  Mostly as a result of my own patterns, learned at home.   I do things, and I don't really know what they are, that keep me isolated, even though I Iove real friendship and I think it is the foundation stone of a worthwhile human existence.  I'm working at finding ways to live congruently with my value, not live the patterns learned at home.  It is not easy to stop doing something when you don't know what that something actually IS. 

Life is astonishingly short.

I suggest it's best to spend it with people you actually LIKE and who genuinely LIKE you. 

They are the people you can healthfully give the most to and who can healthfully give you the most also.

Having said all that, I speak as an introvert, one who looses energy when I am with people, even people I love or like.  I am an introvert, one who replinishes energy by being on my own.  My perspective on friendship is probably strongly influenced by my introversion.

If you are an extrovert, one who gets energy from being with people and who looses energy when you are on your own,  your definitions of friendship will probably be quite different from mine.

Peace All.


Classic Gourmet Pizza

Posted by Cobaltsoul on November 4, 2010 at 1:24 PM Comments comments (2)

I've seen this kind of advertisement a few times but the latest one is a pizza restaurant in the city with a big sign out the front declaring, "Classic Gourmet Pizza".  A different version I saw was "Traditional Gourmet Pizzas" and in the US I once saw (Not kidding here.) "Original Traditional Pizzas". 

I'm pretty sure that "gourmet" pizzas are a recent innovation so there is no way any gourmet pizza recipe is old enough to qualify as a "classic".

I'm pretty sure the same thing applies to a "traditional" gourmet pizza, it can't be traditional if it's a recent innovation.

As for a traditional recipe also being original, well, maybe that would be possible in Italy, if the restaurant in question can prove it's been making it's own, original, pizza recipe for the last one hundred years, long enough to also be a tradition.

Such lazy use of language is common these days and most of us seem not to notice.

Oh, here's one more in a slightly different groove.

A reporter reporting live from the Melbourne Cup (A horse race.) said, "Here at the race course fascinators are the head gear of choice as are brightly coloured floral print dresses."  MMMM, if the ladies are wearing their dresses on their heads I imagine some of the jockey's probably got a bit distracted as they raced past all those naked fillies on the way to the finishing line.

The pizza thing is just an example of how language is used evocatively or connotatively.  The words  "traditional", "gourmet" and "classic" all have good connotations when it comes to pizza, so why not just jam them all into one description, even if it makes no actual sense. 

To my way of thinking if the people in that shop can't write a sensible description of their own product do I really want to eat it?  What other simple tasks are they incapable of completing safely? 

Did you know that not all languages have a past, present and future tense?

In some languages there is only the present tense.  Everything that can be spoken about can only be spoken of as happening in the present.  Imagine the mind map that produces in the people who speak that language.  That which we organise as past, present and future all become "now" and the person sees them self as living in a continuous, eternal, present moment.  Things we think of as having happened in mythological times are for these people things that are happening "now". 

Language constructs reality.

Sloppy use of language constructs, in YOUR head, a sloppy reality.

It once was the case that journalists saw themselves as the guardians of good grammar and accurate language but those days are long gone.  The exact opposite is true today.  The media constantly uses language with deliberate malice and deception.

A news reporter says or writes that ..."The Prime Minister denied there would be any funding cuts for schools."   if you go and research you discover that no-one else was talking about funding for schools until the PM mentioned it and what the PM actually said was, "While I am PM we will maintain the current level of spending on schools, or increase if it funds become available."

You might not have noticed that one little word, "denied", but your subconscious didn't miss it.

If the PM is "denying" something then someone must have accused her of something, therefore the statement about school funding is part of an argument and maybe the PM is lying and maybe funding for schools will be cut and ...............

One little word totally warps the reality.

If you actually listen, really listen, to news broadcasts on the radio, you will discover many, many of those little warping words scattered thru what pretends to be merely "reporting the news". 

You may think my examples are small and don't matter.

The effect of the misuse of language is cumulative. 

One spilling mistake is not a big problem, you still understood my intent.

Huwiver eetz mosh herdar two unnashtan me if the spelling errors accumulate.

The more laziness and inaccuracy is accepted in the way we use language, the less we actually can communicate to each other.  Understanding shrinks as language is misused.

Disciplined and balanced language skills produce a disciplined and balanced set of mental tools.

In a world getting increasingly complex and nuanced, we need, and our kids need, the best set of mental tools it's possible to have.

If you cannot speak clearly and precisely you cannot think clearly and precisely.

So enjoy your classic pizza but don't be fooled into thinking it's also a gourmet experience.  They probably hope that if you are dumb enough to believe you are buying a "classic gourmet" pizza you are also probably dumb enough to pay too much for it.



More Stoopid Software

Posted by Cobaltsoul on October 24, 2010 at 7:33 AM Comments comments (0)

A large company that will remain nameless, that makes a lot of the software most of us use, has gone and done the stoopid again.

This nameless company, could be any company, has a Messenger progam, used by hundreds of millions of people. 

Many of those people are in the second and third world, with still underdeveloped and sometimes dodgy internet infrastructure.

But big software company does not think about that.  Oh no.

They recently upgraded their Messenger software and they changed something.

Formerly you could use your webcam two ways.  You could use it just to share a live image of yourself to your friends while you typed the text of your conversation.  Or you could use it, and a microphone, to start a video call and see and speak as if face to face.  Now the video call uses up way more bandwidth than the webcam image.  

On limited bandwidth lines you could get a perfectly good webcam image, but NOT a good video image, using the identical equipment.

That made webcam only a very attractive tool for people living in those countries with dialup bandwidth internet access for most people or seriously over stretched infrastructure even if it was wider bandwidth.

The big software company, and some of the alternative Messenger softwares have done the same,  got rid of webcam only.   You know cannot choose to just see each other but see each other clearly,  now you only get to do a video call and if it keeps dropping out or looks more like a melted mess than an image of a human face, too bad, no choices, no options.

So, if you live in the infrastructured challenged parts of the world, according to the Messenger companies, you don't matter, your software using experience does not matter.

You can't call yourself a global company if you don't have the brains to THINK GLOBALLY.

Stoopid is just SO annoying.

PS, yes, I know how to spell stupid, I was making a little play with words there.

What ARE They Thinking?

Posted by Cobaltsoul on October 19, 2010 at 9:08 AM Comments comments (4)

I've been on a few internet dating sites over the last ten years, without long term success, but that's another post.  This post is about something I find entirely inexplicable except for sheer laziness. 

Here you are, a bloke joining a dating site.  Your goal is to attract the attention of women as your first step toward actually meeting at least one nice woman.  All the sites tell you that profiles with photos get massively more visits than profiles with no photo.

Now that fact is not hard to understand.  In the flesh and blood dating world the visual meeting is the first thing that happens.  You see someone and you like what you see, or at least, don't dislike it and then they build on that visual neutrality with good personality or whatever.  You see them at the pub or the club, you seem them at a party or a bbq, you see them at work, at your friends house, at university, whatever.  But SEEING is the first thing that happens.  Fair enough that most of us when internet dating also want to SEE a person before deciding to introduce ourselves.

So, this guy has been told that putting some photos on his profile would be a good idea.  So what does he do?  He finds his best photos, the ones he looks sharp in, the ones he looks dignified or respectably casual in.  The one's with his best smile.  Yeah?  No! 

This is what stuns me,  the photos men put on their profiles, as if they are actually doing their best to scare women away.  Photos where the guy is scowling or unshaven or holding a beer can on his beer belly or all three factors at once.  Photos of him with his arm around another woman, her cut out, but her arms still plainly visible, so I have not been single long enough to have even one photo of myself without my ex in it.  Photos of guys who's profiles says they are 60 and who's photos are bw and clearly 40 years old.  Photos of guys that were clearly taken on the webcam without thought, planning or care.  At least when the women share webcam photos they make an effort, usually, to try different poses,  put on nice clothes, something that says,  "it matters how I look." 

All these guys posting these lazy, stupid, negative images of themselves...  what ARE they thinking?

It's Humanity, You Lazy Schmuks.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on October 4, 2010 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

There was a time when we paid no attention to the way we used language to include and exclude people.  In some places language is still used that way. 

In the West, many people sneer at the idea of being "pc".  Such people are likely too stupid to understand the power of language and why it's important, if they are stupid they are probably also too stupid to recognise that in resisting egalitarian language they are helping to maintain the barriers that keep them as one of the weakened, excluded, marginalised.  If they are not stupid then their reason for sneering at pc language is likely because they have a vested interest in keeping others weak.  Consciously or unconsciously they recognise their own power and position needs the warping of language to help maintain it. 

Here is one example that is really pissing me off.

It's Humanity, not Mankind.

There is no reason at all to use the outdated term "mankind" when referring to the whole human race.  There is a legitimate linguistic reason why "man" was used in English to refer to the whole human race.  Several hundred years ago it did mean the whole race and there were two other terms specifiying 'man' and 'woman'.  Language changes, what was fair is no longer justifiable.  In modern English 'man' is equivalent to 'male' and there is an inevitable connotation, when we say 'mankind' of meaning 'males'. 

Any time someone says something like "Only Jill Average can save mankind" they can just as easily, and far more accurately say, "Only Jill Average can save humanity." 


"Mankind is putting the whole planet at risk" (Hmmm,  given the preponderance of males in leadership of business and government the world over, this statement is gender accurate on the face of it.)  can just as easily be written, "Humanity is putting the whole planet at risk."

The simplest way to explain why 'mankind' is a bad term to go on using is this:  the term mankind now implies that male is the basic pattern for being a person.  Nonsense.  As long as there have been humans we have been female and male together.   The basic pattern for being a person is just that, being a person.  The term humanity embraces us all without connotations, unconscious defects or meaning ambiguities.

Humanity means the whole human race. 

We are no longer mankind.  We are humanity.

Take a look, see how often the term 'mankind' is used when it can't be replaced simply with Humanity

Humanity always fits.