Monday, April 28, 2008

The misuse of the media

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The sad reality is that every media is subject to manipulation, misuse or mismanagement. A corporate with the intended to service a certain goal can be maligned to serve the interests of one (or a group) of shareholders or employees. A web site which is intended to provide information can be used to misinform or malign another person. That is what we are seeing with respect to Brian Gorrell. Brian has his problems, but in the minds of DJ Montano and his partners in his shared delusion we are seeing an attempt to malign the truth to preserve the fraud - not just an attempt to misinform, but to hide their own vulnerabilities, as well as the weaknesses embedded in the Filipino culture. Every culture has its weaknesses, just as every culture has its strengths. There are qualities amidst the Filipino people which I dont see anywhere else - both on the side of good and bad. The problem is too many of the bad have too much power. And the rest find it hopeless or otherwise just sit on the sense because they are making money.
In the following links you will read about the maligned mind of 'Lulu'. The story starts with my comments on Brian and BJ on my blog, and the Philippines is general. People might not like generalised statements, but the reality is that human knowledge (logic) is based on generalising and differentiating. Its how we understand the world. So please brace yourself as you come to terms with a dubious Christian soul called 'Lola'....Lola, Looola, oh oh, Lola, oh, oh, oh, Looola. He He. See This post.
Andrew Sheldon

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Team Brian vs DJ

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The Philippines is under seige. You might be wondering whether Brian Gorrell is a con artist after recent revelations i have seen on the internet. I am starting to read a lot of scandalous stuff on Briab of late. There are several reasons why I am suspicious:
1. It took a long time for the accusations to come out
2. No one is actually stepping forward in the public eye to state the facts

Several observations I have:
1. DJ Montano has a vested interest in undermining the credability of Brian. Apart from the fact that he is destroying the life of DJ, he is also undermining the credability of his family. They are being pushed into a corner with no where to go. Its not like they are rich enough to go to another place, and who wants a 'coke head' for a migrant.
2. The Philippines is full of people with a distorted sense of reality
3. The Philippines is full of cheap labour. People who would write alot of shit for the sake of a few busks, so DJ has a few people he could employ.
4. The Philippines is full of cheats. As much as I dont like disparaging 'collectives' or countries, if the shoe fits, then wear it. Does that mean all Filipinos are cheats? No. Does it mean there is likely to be one in the family? Most likely. And its likely that 80% of the family will distance themself from a cheat, but 20% will defend him, and there reputation, just to retain their deluded sense of importance. Of course cheats need victims, as do parasites that live on other family members. The Philippines 'culture' is supportive of this regime. I went to a party last night. I was not obliged to take any wine or beer. Of course someone has to provide. I guess someone socialite is the best bet. Someone who wants to display their success, or their parents. Of course no one talks in such terms, they are not honest enough too, but that is the crux of the social interactions. Those that dislike the Philippines culture leave the country. Thats why there is a disparity between those Filipinos who live outside the country and those maligned souls that live within. The church is an institutional sham for distributing political power and money to those that prop up the system.
5. Are Filipinos among the most scandalous people in the world. Actually I think so. I think they are among them, 'collectively speaking', up there with the Russians, Arabs and Chinese. Its not genetic of course, its generally speaking cultural. But what is culture? If you want to be specific - its values.

So why do I suggest Filipinos are so bad? Well Filipinos are very affable people, very easy going, so very easy for some people to take into their confidence. It is afterall how they live their lives, 'in each others pockets'. That's how they live their lives. Thats why most want to get out of the country. Well aside from the money, well-paying jobs abroad. They offer trust (sometimes because they have nothing to lose, sometimes so they can make you feel guilty), but they mgiht expect it in return. Be careful. Westerners are not so accustomed to pushing for trust, you earn it in time, so you might be coerced into giving it because they are such naturals at winning our confidence. The crucial difference is then, do they use that trust to screw you or not. I think having the opportunity is one thing. Then they have to justify it. I find a great some Filipinos have a highly distorted sense of reality. I think this comes from the maligned values from being conquered as a nation, the hypocrisy of the religious instititions, the '2nd-hander' social values which defines people by how much money they have, who they know. I think in the business sector fewer people earn such credit (money & power) that way, through rout. I think they are more shrude in their dealings with people, but they still use graft to great effect.

On that note, I look at my knowledge of Filipinos. Well most of them are poor, so I dare say most of them are not going to come to my attention, for good or bad. It is actually very rare that I have any sought of relationship with them. Alot of them smile like I'm someone's desert, like I'm someone's ticket out of the country. I'm told they have a special respect for foreigners, but no. I think its more like relish. So I get the sense that they feel they have been dealt a bad hand by being born 'Filipino' and they relish the opportunity I present. If not as a boyfriend, then as a sponsor for a visa, a free 2nd hand computer, advise on immigration, a little generosity. Some are more tactful than others. Some are very patient. My landlord asked me for my computer only after being a tenant for a year. Only met her a few times.
So what are Filipinos recognised for? Well this is not fair. If I was to ask what Australia is famous for it would be kangaroos, beaches, etc. So maybe that means little. There are people from both country working hard and doing great things. Well I know after last night that not all Filipinos are great singers, and seldom with an original song, at least not in English. Some Filipino won the boxing lately. But then it turns awry. I know a Filipino home nurse managed to screw a billionaire magnate's family out of money in Australia. More pathetic was the ostantaceous way in which she conducted herself on TV. I know that a Filipino Michael DeGuzman was implicated for fraud in the Canadian Bre-Ex scandal worth billions to some. There is all the prostitutes in the Philippines, all the young girls that are dating guys 30-50 years older than them. Why? I guess money is more important. The Philippines is not alone. It happens in Thailand as well. Then just in the news yesterday, there is the news that a Philippines health insurance defrauded the US military out of $US100 million. Well I guess we should not be surprised that it was the US government lost the money, the way they throw it around. See the story US military health scandal. To be fair US military were implicated as well. I wonder if they were enabled by the culture. Travelling around Asia I find a great many Westerners of dubious ethic. No doubt they entered Asia with a bad ethic, just it was enabled by the local culture. But look how the problem fested under US government sanction.

Living in the Philippines there are other reasons why I think Brian and his backers are on the right (truth) team. I observe living in the Philippines a few cultural reasons why people are more inclined to cheat, defraud, etc. There is a weak sense of reality, and there is a tolerance of deceit. Afterall this country has the worst ranking for corruption in Asia. Corruption here is a joke, and its seldom ever reported. If it is, no one is likely to investigate it. An keen invesigator will likely be paid off. Lastly I think the country's religious convictions are to blame. If its moral to give, its practical to take. This country would have to have the worst sense of entitlement. What is yours, is to be shared.
Andrew Sheldon

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Source of Filipino problems

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Philippines Daily Inquirer journalist Gemma Dimaculangan, in a call to all Filipinos, exclaims in print “We can do much more for our country” (23rd Apr08, page A14). This is nothing more than an empty appeal to nationalist pride, which is the typical nonsense from public dignitaries. Filipinos need something more concrete. They need accountability and they need public figures to set the example. If you want effective leadership from your political leaders, first you need measures that ensure compliance. Western governments had lawlessness on the ‘wild west’, and there is two qualities that eradicated it:

1. Enforcement

2. Accountability

Once the enforcers outnumber the transgressors, the number of transgressors falls. It is no longer practical to be a criminal. Today corrupt officials act with impunity because senior officials laugh it off as ‘Filipino culture’. So how do you end corruption? Well it starts at the top, not at the bottom.

1. Journalists gather to establish a position of unity that says ‘No to corruption’. Journalists establish a union or membership, with the rule being they agree not to engage in corruption. If they engage in corruption they lose their membership. The peak body needs to secure the agreement of media groups. Members need to tell corrupt officials they cannot be bought, that they cannot be blackmailed, they cannot be threatened.

2. The journalist peak body needs to have an amnesty where journalists who in the past have been paid to write certain articles will not be punished for prior transgressions. They should be able to confidentially divulge their acts to the peak body.

3. The peak body and media groups need to train journalists to become better critical thinkers, to know how to identify a story, to pursue the facts. The reason that corrupt officials act with impunity is that they are not accountable. Journalists are the only people with the capacity to ‘name & shame’ officials, and as a consequence prompt the government to increase enforcement.

4. Harsher penalties are likely to follow since the government will not want to convey any sympathy with corrupt officials.

5. Journalists need to maintain their vigilance in ensuring the government does not just respond with rhetoric, but responds with meaningful action. They need to ensure corrupt officials are dealt with in accordance with 'due process'.

The Philippines is not corrupt because of corruption as this article states. This country is in ‘bad shape’ because the people with the power to end corruption don’t take the necessary steps. The corruption was there from the start. Its always been like that. Its always been practical to buy loyalty. The solution to the problem starts with journalists. The Philippines needs journalists who engage in investigative called 'intellectuals'.

You can't expect lesser people to turn down opportunities for graft if the opportunities are taken by others. These people get rich by robbing the poor, middle class and rich. Really they make no distinction. Everyone pays a huge opportunity cost. The poor have no education to avoid it, even if they dont have much to lose. The aspirational middle class are greedy for more money, so they are inclined to be held back the most. For the rich its a significant cost of doing business.

But Gemma is on the right track. She needs I think to incite disgust among her fellow journalists, to organise them under a pact, as opposed to making empty statements about how bad things are. We know the general state of things. She is one in a position to take action in the right forum. This is a start, but its a false start. There are corruption cases that we never get to the bottom of. There needs to be a campaign of disclosure. The media should create a 'hotline' for members of the public to call when there is a politician sniffing cocaine, or a one paying bribes. A lot of these deals are done behind closed doors. Fine. It takes two to make a deal. Sometimes they are rejected. Let the facts remain on the record. There will be attempts to discredit people. But actually thats harder to do than you think. Bad people have a track record. Cynics will say that they just have not been caught. But more often than not they start small and scale up their indiscretions.

For teachers to enlist students in empty rhetoric because the democratic process really gives them no power. What good is a choice if you have 'no choice'. Why is multiple competitors good in the private sector, but not desirable for government?

Andrew Sheldon

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Political rhetoric - who does it serve

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In the 1960s John F. Kennedy made the now famous quote "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country". I saw in a newspaper in the Philippines an appeal to the same thinking. I guess some Filipinos think following in the footsteps of the USA would be a pretty good step since its the world superpower.
But I reflect on these words and dont think anyone really understands the implications of them. Firstly I dont think this quote implies you should serve or be loyal to your country. I think it was intended to suggest that you should not wait for your country to step up and serve you, that people should take responsibility for their lives.
But if I was to read this quote literally, it suggests that our relationship to our country is one of sacrifice, and that sacrifice is in our favour ('what your country can do for you') or the country's ('ask what you can do for your country'). Since 'our country' is really other citizens, its really compelling us to serve others instead of them serving us. Since they are similarly compelled to serve us, it strikes me as socialism. But no one draws that conclusion about this famous quote. More importantly no one does it - so why do we accept this rhetoric. Well maybe because its voluntary, and we perhaps the only difference that can be made of ethics of Christianity (which is popular in the Philippines and USA) is that Christianity is voluntary, whereas communism is coerced. Some people think ideally that capitalists should renounce their wealth. Most collectivists just think it should be taken 'for the good of society' - whatever that is.
But is altruism really the noble ideal that everyone thinks it is? I care to differ. I think it establishes a culture of entitlement where people assume the role of perpetrator or victim. Its not a basis for respect for between people. So is there any basis for giving. I think so, but not as an act of virtue, rather as an act of pride. I think you give to people only after you have brought joy to your own life. I think you give to people from a surplus to those whom you think worthy, which means people who are serving themselves. I think to do anything else is a betrayal of what is good or right about the world. On a psychological level people that do it are engaging in manipulation. And they do it. Politicians, employers, parents - they all do it. Behaviour well modelled in society, supported by ethical concepts reinforced far back before the 1960s....more like 1960BC.
Andrew Sheldon

Whats wrong with Philippine politics

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The simple answer is a great deal if you judge by the figures on economic growth. You could be forgiven for thinking the economy is shugging away quite nicely, but one has to note that its supported by 4 issues which are not of its own making:
1. Strong commodity prices
2. Remittances from Filipinos abroad - which should actually be seen as a negative because these are family members who sympathise with the plight of their family members, or its Filipinos who were forced abroad by a lack of opportunities or adequate pay. No other comparable country has such a large proportion of their population abroad.
3. Strong money supply growth - I dont know if this is because of government printing money. It might be repatriated funds going into local property to be enjoyed by future retirees and local family members.
4. The call centre industry - Americans saw the opportunity, but now Filipino companies are finally developing the market.

Well thats the economy. It has lagged others - the question can be answered on multiple levels.

Competitive advantage
This country is not open to competition. In fact its rather closed. There are alot of industries where foreigners are just not invited. I think there are political obstructions to this at a very high level. Foreigners cannot own an educational institution. You might wonder why? Certainly foreigners have at least a 'growth story' to teach Filipinos.
I think there are alot of Filipinos in positions of power who do not want to surrender their cozy position, like the Catholic Church keeping control of the education system. But in most areas I dare say its just the process that undermines change. So what is wrong with the system.

Democracy does not work
Democracy only works is so far as it offers stability, but it does not guarantee rational outcomes. Only a properly structured political system can deliver rational outcomes. In Philippine politics there is utterly no sense of reality. By that I mean you never see the truth emerge. Everything is done behind closed doors. No one is held accountable for what they say or do. These people at the top of the pyramid are supposed to be role models, but read the newspaper, and you would have to conclude that its a joke. But this is democracy.

The ethics of the Philippines
The democratic institutions in the Philippines were borrowed from the USA. They work better in the USA to be sure, but then that is a relative standard. Things could be better in the USA when you consider their crime rates, monetary largesse, debt levels, government policy, etc. But we can argue that our politics is a product of people's understanding of how the game is played. The system stays in play because Filipinos dont see the big picture. The Philippines is a poor country, and they have an underfunded education system. Teachers are not well trained, but parents are even worse. I have never seen a more self-indulgent citizenry in my life. They eat rubbish with no regard for theit health, they spend money like there is no tomorrow, they live off their relatives abroad, and have a matching HUGE sense of entitlement upon anyone with money, whether its a rich uncle, foreigners or relatives abroad.
They lack the ability to think well. They have limited capacity to conceptually think, though that is to be expected in a poor country, even among the educated elitists, whom you would expect to be self-important, arrogant and defensive about the lack of accomplishments of their country in the modern era. I was in Baguio City a few months ago reading how the Philippines bought in cheap labour 50 years ago to build the highway there. What? Is that a misprint? Nope. It was not so long ago that the Philippines was behind Japan. What a change for the worse. So if we dont expect Filipinos too be smart, what should we expect? Well how about working?
This culture is not geared towards education to be sure. In fact its hard to find a province which embraces education as a political priority. Quezon Province strikes me as one of the better ones since it has 12-14 libraries from memory. How are kids supposed to develop in such a lawless land. Anything goes here. I know why Filipinos are so deaf, why they so easily turn off, its because they grow up in such noisy chaos. How could anyone think with that? I moved out of an apartment for less than the people in slums would be putting up with. This strikes me as a leadership problem. Filipinos have been used to servitude.

Historical legacy
I think the Philippines has to come to terms with its history. I think the Philippines value system went down the toilet under the Spanish occupation, and that fact was never acknowledged. It doesn't require alms from Spain, but the issue needs to be acknowledged because this is a nation of victims. It extends beyond the 'comfort women' in Korea, Malaysia, China (also Philippines), etc whom were exploited by the Japanese. This goes further back, but its impact is far more pervasive on the culture because it was 150-odd years...not a few years. That has scared the country, and the impact of the Americans and Japanese did not help, not to mention the Catholic church, business, in fact any authority that has managed this society.
Andrew Sheldon

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sharing power

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People think governments want to stay in power. But they dont - they will happily share it. I think the major political parties know that they would both be loosers if they engaged in political cat fights among themselves. They would be opening themselves up to 'third' parties. In Australia there is no serious contender as a 3rd party. The Democrats were always on a path of self-destruction or irrelevance. One Nation posed a threat to the Liberal-National alliance, but the Minister Tony Abbot managed to have her put in prison for things that happen in the major parties every term. Public abuse of expenses. She lost credibility, sadly Abbot did not. I've never seen anything so malicious in my life. Dont think we need that type of cunning in politics. Which gets to the crux of the modern political system.
The major parties have an understanding, just as national governments have an understanding. They dont enter into the political fray of other countries. Thats considered 'bad politics'. The difference of course is that you expect an opposition party to ''keep the bastards honest". But thats not the case anymore. That type of accountability only undermined both of the leading parties. So now they have 'rules of engagement'. They are gentlemen of course, so there are certain things you dont talk about. Some things are probably quite appropriate, eg. You dont get into the lives of politicians wives or children.
But there are rules which are designed to keep both parties in control of politics. Those rules are there to help them share the cake, since they want you to think its a 'fair competition'. Just as you dont see politicians dont compete in parliament over their remuneration. Instead the debate is held over Xmas session when everyone is happy. Such matters are agreed outside parliament.
The intent is to entrench the 2 major parties so the voters have the pretense of a choice, but actually we all know that a duopoly is far from a free market in ideas. Its actually just a recipe for collusion. Its not a basis for informed debate, its a basis for backoffice deals. The existence of a parliament is starting to make less sense than ever. The rhetoric and pretense aside, parliaments exist for the sake not of giving you representation, but rather to give politicians jobs and a travel allowance.
They just want to have the opportunity to 'be' in power, the sustainability of that position is less important. They don't play for keeps, they just want to be at the table to ensure they 'get their cut'. The Conservatives and Labor/Democrats are not enemies - they are allies intent on sharing the same prize. The system is designed so that they win by virtue of having held office. Think about it:
1. Power
2. Corporate directorships
3. Lifetime pension

Yeh it might be boring to you, but its appealing to these 'safety-conscious' people. You think it takes courage to be a politician? Why do they refuse to hold an independent judgement, let alone express one? They have the perfect mind to get out of problems - a good memory, but not the capacity to solve problems - a critical mind. The people that run the country are more likely to be in the backoffice, but paradoxically they too have been corrupted by the process. They are also safe people. The soul of a bureaucrat is not what leads a country for the same reason - they are anti-intellectual - anti conceptual.
Andrew Sheldon

Monday, April 14, 2008

Democratic facade highlighted by the Philippines

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By last posting on the Philippines highlights the fallacy that democracy is a credible political system. Typically anyone airing criticisms of democracy would be labelled as a fascist or communist, but my learned friends no nothing of such concepts if they dont understand their philosophical foundation, which they dont.
By getting back to concrete reality, because some of you will be getting bored. We have a concrete example of 'vested interests' in the Philippines, families related or associated with some of the wealthiest families in the country, who are able to influence the course of justice, who are able to malign the pursuit of truth, who are able to wrecklessly steal money without regard for the interests of others.
Now I here you say 'Thats not the democracy that you signed on to!!' But isn't it? Sure the Philippines is a more blazen version of West democracy, but its the same institutions. I know I've seen some pretty dodgy examples of 'due process' in Australia. Is it any better in the USA, Britain or Canada? I think not. I am speaking of:
1. Rhetoric of regulation: There is barely any regulation of corrupt business in Australia. I have seen the media pursue more cases of wrongdoing than the regulators, and that ignores the fact that the media gives their case load to the regulators. Do we really want the media regulating corruption and crime. What we see instead is the empty symbolism. The high profile case of Rene Rivkin. Some powerful people must have hated him because they really made an example out of him. I wonder is it because he didnt give any political party campaign contributions? Was he an embarrassment to someone?
2. Political vested interest: I have seen governments misuse their political powers to perform certain illegal acts like sky on people, use defence personnel for non-defence purposes.
3. Political opportunism: I have seen a government minister have a political opponent placed in prison for a minor matter that would have been laughed off if one of his cabinet colleagues had done it.

But getting back to the Philippines because that is where things are so bad that any deceit educated person knows this fragile democracy needs help - and its not from democracy. So what does the Philippines need? What does any country need? I would suggest a country is only as good as the people who participate in it, but that responsibility does not fall equally on all people, and in the Philippines it falls on a smaller percentage of people than it would in other countries. Yes we demand a certain level of ethical conduct from voters that they will vote out bad people, but it goes even deeper than that. What I see evident is an absence of reality about this sordid affair in the Philippines, and given the support of the Philippines people, mostly expatriates, I think there is a good chance that the Philippines could be the birthplace of something more special than democracy - its a meritocracy. Critics would argue that the Philippines is already a meritocracy in as much as the countries is controlled by a political and business elite. But lets not forget that some of these business leaders were just good in business, some received government favours. Some likely just acted with little regard for government, and maybe that is a good thing. Ultimately power is vested in the politicians who are voted by the people. So where is the prospect of 'good governance' when the uneducated are determining public policy. Little surprise they have a propensity to vote for 'underdogs' who quickly align themselves with the elites. So how do you find people with integrity? Well integrity is a derivative of honesty, which presupposes a respect for reality. Where are you going to find much allegiance to that in democracies which 'might makes right', where the number of people you know or how much money you have determines the 'right'
Well in the Philippines, there is a group of Filipinos who are supporting Brian Gorrell because he has brought back a sense of reality to the Philippines. He is important because he is not just describing an isolated incident of corruption or wrongdoing, he is exposing a culture of deceit. And what is even more telling is the extent to which the media is implicated by creating a facade which was intended to appear objective. Its very clear that this is a major political storm because no one is willing to touch it. This guy is up to 5mil hits on his blog and he deserves them.
The world has yet to appreciate the implications of this blog because it highlights the extent to which a blogger can have such power. What if a blogger could capture the same power in future? Might he be able to bring down a government. Don't think government is looking into blog censorship for your interests. If they walk over your 'rights of free speech' to prevent cases of libel, it is to protect them.
The sad part of Brian Gorrel's blog is that whilst he seems certain to get his money back given the level of support for his crusade by Filipinos, the issues which he raise and why they occurred are likely to die. Fortunately he has enough 'dirt' on this family to keep this issue hot for a while yet. I am captivated by the importance of this issue and how governments around the world will respond.
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Philippines pandamonium

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This blog is raising a storm worldwide, but particularly in Australia, the Philippines, the USA and HK. Its having repercussions on so many levels - Manila 'high' society is under the spotlight, and then there is the power of the internet to smear or expose.
This blog reveals the inner secrets of Manila's richest people in a 'tell all' by a gay Australian man who had a Filipino boyfriend who stole $70,000 from him, according to the blog. The guy is Brian Gorrell, and his ex-BF is 'DJ'. This guy is getting 50,000 hits a day as a result of the detailed research he offers. TV stations even interviewed him.

The interesting aspect of this blog is that the author is really implicating himself. One has to respect him for standing up to the guy whom he accuses of stealing $70,000, but is he really standing on firm ground. Would he reflect on them just as badly if he was not screwed over by one/all of them? Is he not just snubbing them because they snubbed him by tacitly supporting his former BF. That strikes me as a typical 'human' trait by today's standards. People seldom stand up for truth. They defy objective reality in an instant to retain the confidence of other people. These people have just less sense of reality because they are buffered by their money, just as school kids are buffered by the safety of their institution, the military and academics are protected by lifelong tenure/pension, and welfare recipients sometimes offered unconditional payments.

I think if this guy was really the saint people are professing to be, then he would not be living among them. He would not have gained their confidence. Anyone who rejects these people or is rejected by them, knows the division of values involved. Those alienated by 'high society' are the real saints because they have preserved their intellectual freedom or independence. Is this guy a saint because he implicated them? Is he a changed man because he is now critical of this 'high society' he embraced just months ago. I think not. Is his rejection of these people over a very concrete $70K a sign of his intellectual conversion. Nope. I think its just vengence. Brian Gorrell is the same guy he was several months ago - just he knows the poisonous chalice he holds.

Brian was a victim of the same values which he holds. He was just too innocent to know. How else would be gain their trust. These are perceptive people - they know when an outsider has breached the walls. I know because I was never able to permeate the walls, as much as I tried as a youth. In time I realised that I could not be that way, that I had to preserve my intellectual independence and integrity, and hope that would lead me to 'my type of people'.

Brian has strayed from home, but I dare say he will find his way back to something that looks remarkably like the home he left, just a more familiar one in Australia.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?