Monday, December 24, 2007


You know those Christmas crackers that contain a paper hat, a joke and a novelty? I pulled a couple with a friend this morning...

Me: (wearing the hat and looking at slip of paper) Wait... this isn't a joke.

Friend: It isn't?

Me: No. It's a perceptive quote from some psychiatrist about anger warping the soul. Where's my damn joke?

Friend: My Christmas crackers do not contain lame puns. They are high-class Christmas crackers, for people who appreciate the gravity of life.

Me: Great. So we're having a Very Ayn Rand Christmas now, are we?
Friend: Yes. Christmas will be what it is.

Me: Although if they were going to do it properly, this cracker should have contained a small mirror that allows you to look at yourself and partake in unflinching critical self-analysis. You know, instead of this little plastic monkey. And instead of a joke, there should just a slip of paper offering a piece of irrefutable truth; "That paper hat makes you look like an idiot".

As Ayn herself would have said, I hope all you have a merry Christmas (except that hope is an illusion and merriment distracts one from self-actualisation). And a realistic New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Yay! Vintage Russian Christmas Cards!

A publicity still from 'Dr Strangelove Versus Santa Claus', Glorious People's Film Collective, 1968.

Tired of his outdated flying carpet, Santa sees the future...

... but unfortunately it's an Aeroflot flight, and as such it falls out of the sky twenty minutes after takeoff.

Sadly, Jinglepixie didn't think to ask what had happened to Experimental Rockets 1 through 16.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer didn't think he could be replaced. But he was wrong. Dead wrong.

Soviet elves parachute into Washington DC in the first horrific stage of Operation Forced Festivity.

Only the luckiest children wake on Christmas morning to find a mining cart, a steel foundry and a hydroelectric power station under the tree.

Drag racing Russian satellites was a blast until the infamous Hubble Crash of 1999.

*bzzt*, giant pink space genitals, you are cleared for landing, over...

And so on.


Last night I was loading up the sounds on my new computer, and in so doing I heard the old 'I Dream of Jeannie' theme in its entirety.

Like a lot of incidental screen music from the mid 60s, it deserves a second listen. Go ahead; you know you want to.

I can’t help but think that if you slowed the tempo just a fraction and added a bit more latin swagger in the horn section, it’d be quite a groovy, sexy little number. And there’s a subtle descending riff on the bass guitar that gives the tune a lot of texture.

Give it a chance and it could transcend its less than noble roots.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


For a few weeks I tried to get my busted old computer fixed, but after wasting a bunch of money with no results, and being the sort of person who is easily attracted to shiny new things, I said "To hell with this!" and bought a new computer.

Unlike last time, when I bought the cheapest machine I could find that wasn't actually steam-powered, this time I spent a little bit extra and got a unit that should last for a few years. Behold the mighty Core 2 Duo E6750, with a 2.66Ghz Intel processor, 2Gb RAM, a 160Gb HDD and a video card which should be able to cope with even the most demanding games. Plus it lights up blue when you turn it on!

It's so nice to have a new computer. All the USB ports work! There are no weird viral glitches in the web browser! And most importantly, it plays the MST3K DVDs that my living room DVD player refuses to recognise!

On the downside, I've been forced to spend the last two nights reloading all my software and generally wrestling it into compliance with my wishes. I had to change the screen resolution, register it with Microsoft (and receive my free Mark of the Beast), load up the software for the printer and the camera, install the version of the Office Suite which came with my old computer (and again register it with The Dark Lord Gates), configure a new internet connection, download my preferred email viewer and persuade it and my ISP to get along, transfer my old documents and photos from my old hard drives... sigh. None of the tasks were particularly difficult, but they were tedious and time consuming. So then I loaded up Starcraft, and revelled in once again having the ability to splatter little cartoon soldiers from an isometric perspective.

As I told a friend, it was like shooting pure heroin into a vein after nearly a month of cold turkeydom.

Naturally, the biggest obstacle to my computing happiness came from the Apple Corporation. I found a disc with an old version of iTunes on it, which loaded up easily enough, but transfering nearly four and a half thousand songs from my old hard drive proved impossible. Apple doesn't like people fiddling with iTunes - it prefers them to use it, in the prescribed ways, preferably while gushing about the eye candy on the interface.

iTunes: Here, let me configure all of your music. You just sit back and admire the sleekness of our design.

Me: Thanks, but I want to...

iTunes: No, you just leave everything to me.

Me: But I don't want...

iTunes: Look, see how the border of the screen looks like brushed stainless steel! See? Pretty!

I looked at the Apple website to see how they suggested rescuing music from a broken computer. Their suggestion was to burn my music onto CDs and physically transfer them across to the new computer. Which is basically a subtle Apple way of saying "screw you, loser".

Eventually I gave up on a straight transfer and just copied the files from the iPod itself to the new iTunes. Even this was only achieved by luck - in the piles of paper scattered around my home office, I found a printout of some instructions for doing this that I'd found on an internet site a year or two ago. Of course when I looked up the URL to get a little bit of text that the printer had accidentally cut off, I found that the entire site had been erased and replaced with Standard Apple Marketing Gush #4.

Now I know how those guys in Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies feel when they come home and realise that their loved ones have been turned into pod people. Unlike the litigation-happy shysters at Microsoft, Apple just seems to absorb dissenters into the collective and then blank them.


Top 10 Obscure, Pointless Facts From My iPod

10. As of this moment, I have four thousand, four hundred and forty four tracks on my iPod.

9. I have songs entitled Disco King (Spencer Tracey) and Disco Queen (Hot Chocolate). The lesser nobility are not granted the right to boogie on down, it seems.

8. Apparently Nobody Loves Me (Portishead) and Nobody Loves You (Garbage).

7. Nothing Changes (Makron) but Nothing Stays The Same (Elastica).

6. There are 94 tracks which share a title with another, completely unrelated song. The oddest one is ‘Blue Monday’, which is both the seminal New Order track and an obscure jazz number from the 1950s.

5. Three unrelated tracks share the title ‘Vanishing Point’, and strangely enough they’re all by electronica outfits (Kinobe, Apollo 440 and New Order).

4. There are four songs called ‘Alright’ (The Cardigans, Supergrass, Jamiroquai and Spiderbait).

3. Only two groups are short-sighted enough to give their album the same title. Both The Bees and The Clouds decided to release a CD called ‘Octopus’. It must have something to do with being airborne.

2. Both of the songs called ‘America’ are by Australian performers (Alex Lloyd and Spiderbait). The single song called ‘Australia’ is by an American group (The Shins)

1. Stupidest song title would have to be ‘.’ (Paul Colman Trio), closely followed by ‘!’ (Regurgitator).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


When I became a Christian, nobody told me I'd be implying support for this.

I knew I should have gone with those nice Baha'i people.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I was browsing in the video store for something to watch on Saturday, and once I'd noticed the 2006 production 'Android Apocalypse', I knew I had to rent it. I suspect that there's an entire stream of video marketing focused on the so-called 'Blandwagon and Similar Kitsch-Loving Losers' demographic. Once I had it in my hot little hands, I invited fellow B&SK-LLs JC and DS over to watch it.

It's the future, some time after catastrophic environmental collapse has trapped humanity in a handful of domed cities. Civilisation is maintained by sending mining drones and human-like androids out into the wasteland to dig wells, mine minerals, and seek anyone who might provide the population with acting lessons.

Warning: No Half-Way Decent Actors Beyond This Point

The movie opens with a little boy lost in the wasteland, being hunted by a handful of mining drones with a computer virus that has reset their operational parameters to "evil". Just in the nick of time he is rescued by an android who is to become one of the movies heroes, despite the fact that he is so uncharismatic that he actually leaches colour out of any set he enters. He delivers the boy back to his mother (in what looks like an early 80s shopping mall... of the Future!) but is met with hostility and a general lack of gratitude.

Meanwhile working class hero Jute (yes, as in burlap) loses his sand shovelling job to an android. He goes to his local dive bar to drown his sorrows, but instead gets in a fist fight with a stranger who turns out to be another android. Androids aren't supposed to be capable of hitting people, but this one seems to be making a pretty good go of it.

The cops arrive and break up the fight, but as is traditional it is soon resumed out in the carpark (next to what looks like a 70s muscle car... of the Future!). Jute manages to kill the android, which is some sort of crime in this city, and he slinks off home before anyone sees him. Or so he thinks.

At home we discover two things. One, Jute is married. Two, apparently IKEA survived the apocalypse. Jute and Mrs Jute snuggle in bed for a while, discussing this whole job loss/android killing scenario, when the cops burst in and arrest Jute. However he doesn't go quietly, and during the scuffle Mrs Jute manages to accidentally push an android cop through a wooden partition and down an elevator shaft, so she too is arrested.

One suspects that if this society could build either more durable androids or stronger wooden partitions, the crime rate would drop significantly.

Jute is sentenced to a prison term in place called Terminus, "terminus" apparently being a latin word for "derelict cement factory". For the trip across the wasteland to Terminus, he is shackled to the same android who saved the little boy in the opening scenes. The prison transport vehicle (some sort of 1960s Bedford truck... of the Future!) is attacked by rogue mining drones, and everyone is killed except for Jute and his android guard. They escape because the android has discovered the secret weakness of the giant armour-plated flying mining drones - they're more flammable than a tissue soaked in kerosene. Honestly, flicking a lit match at one of these things would cause it to explode. The android uses a variety of unlikely methods to set fire to stuff, and the drones are duly destroyed.

Having exhausted the entire budget on exploding giant armour-plated flying mining drone CGI, the movie now gets down to what will constitute 90% of its running time: scene after scene of Jute and the android stumbling around an abandoned quarry in Saskatchewan, overcoming their differences, relinquishing their prejudices, and becoming the unlikeliest of friends.

Unfortunately, unlike IKEA, the art of coherent dialogue doesn't seem to have survived the apocalypse. As the two of them wander about blurting non sequiturs at each other, the director apparently decided that only way to imply that they're growing closer is to have a lot of silent, meaningful glances between them. Given that these two seem to have absolutely nothing in common but athletic virility and gazing into each other's eyes, one gets the uncomfortable feeling that we're veering into 'Brokeback Apocalypse' territory.

A man could get lost in those eyes, and never want to find his way out...

It doesn't help that actor Joseph Lawrence took playing an android to mean that he had to adopt a slightly femme vocal tone and look passive a lot.

All this could be salvaged, in so many ways, if the producers had thought to include some examples of that most vital of bad sci-fi character sets - hot trashy women. The producers of 'Space Mutiny' and 'Laser Mission' knew the value of hot trashy women. Hell, even 'Bronx Executioner' had a hot trashy vixen to spice up the plot's innumerable lapses in sense. However, 'Android Apocalypse' only has Mrs Jute, who while attractive enough is neither hot nor trashy, and a female tracker android who is about as sexy as Margaret Cho.

But we're stuck with Jute and the android, now being chased by the authorities in their matching 4x4s (2006 model Jeep Wranglers... of the Future!). Eventually they're caught and dragged off to Terminus, where Jute is put to work in the Inflammable Dirt mines and the android is interogated by the villain.

Have I mentioned there was a villain? No? Well, there was. He was the chief scientist who designed both the mining drones and the androids, and having cybernetically replaced most of his own body he is ready to lead the robots in the Android Apocalypse promised in the title. In so doing, he falls into the trap of machines-take-over-the-world theorists everywhere in failing to answer the obvious question: why would the androids want to take over? What do humans have that they want? The needs of humans (food, water, shelter) and the needs of androids (electricity, presumably) are almost entirely unrelated. It'd be far more logical for the androids to simply ignore the humans and bog off into the wasteland to do whatever it is they want to do with their liberty.

But logic has little to do with bad sci-fi, so we've just got to accept that the androids want to take over the world. Fortunately Jute and his android buddy manage to fight their way out of their respective prisons, blow up pretty much everything, rescue Mrs Jute, and emerge into the brave new world of the final scene:

Mrs Jute: (indicating the android) So who's this?

JC: (as Jute) Oh, this is just a brawny, good-looking man in a tight white T-shirt I've been shackled to for the past few days.

Jute: He's my... friend.


Roll credits, and hope that no one is entertaining any thoughts of a sequel.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Put away your stocking stuffers, Santa. I've discovered my perfect Christmas gift combination - booze and art deco.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


"Why don't you give your spirit of adventure a chance - try the 1968 rulebreaker" suggests this advertisement for the Renault 10.

Presumably one's "spirit of adventure" wasn't interested in acceleration or speed, given that its tiny 1100cc engine gave it the raging torque of a runaway shopping trolley. Perhaps one's spirit of adventure was supposed to be sated by the 1968 Renault's thrilling lack of safety equipment - it offered the same whiplash protection as the average barstool, had fewer crumple zones than Uluru, and boasted a narrow metal steering wheel that would cut through a driver like a hot couteau through brie at the first fender bender.

A better slogan might have been; "The 1968 Renault - because every ride could be your last!"


Colleague: Here's the menu for the office Christmas party. I've worked it out so that we can cater for gluten-free and vegetarians, but I'm not sure we can accomodate any vegans. Do you think that's going to be a problem?

Me: Vegans? Bah! Vegans can bite my arse for all I care. Actually, no, wait, I guess they can't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Monday, December 10, 2007


Yet another of those wonderful 1968 Life magazine advertisements.

I like to think that the marketing meeting at which this advertisement was designed went something like this:

Okay, we need to create an image for Peter Stuyvesants, something young, hip and happening. I'm thinking jet-setting playboy. I'm thinking luggage tags on a Trans World Airline bag. I'm thinking travel to exotic cities.

What sort of exotic cities?

Well, let's throw about some ideas. How about Rome?

Ah, The Eternal City! Perfect! The Trevi Fountain, Audrey Hepburn on a Vespa, La Dolce Vita... that's great! But we need two cities to create the sense of travel. Where else can match Rome for that sense of romance and fashion?

New York?



Hong Kong?

I've got it! Toronto!

Of course! Toronto! City of the Royal Ontario Museum, Cabbagetown and the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Yes, and it's in Canada! Nothing says exotic glamour like Canada!

Well, that's that finished. Time for a celebratory five-martini lunch!



Another slice of grooviness from Life in 1968.

I have a mental picture the girl on the left wearing her dress to a typical 1968 hippie party, and some guy who'd just dropped some acid screaming, "That dress... it's... it's LOOKING AT ME! AAAIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!"

Friday, December 07, 2007


Well, it's my three year blogiversary today. As is traditional on anniversaries, it's time to reflect on the way things have progressed over the past year.

Possibly the most interesting feedback I've received occurred less than a week ago. I was talking to an acquaintance at a party, and we had the following exchange:

Her: I've enjoyed reading your blog when I get the chance.

Me: (Sweet merciful crap! You read my blog? How did you even know about it? Who else reads it that I don't know about? What stupid things have I said recently? I'm not ready to confront this! GAAAAAAAH!) Oh, thanks.

Her: I must say you're a lot different in the flesh than you are on the blog.

Me: I am?

Her: Yes. Just sitting here right how you seem very happy and relaxed.

Me: (chokes on champagne)

So there you have it - apparently I'm coming across as an angry, tightly-wound maniac. Of course in many ways I am an angry, tightly-wound maniac, but more often I'm a happy, relaxed person. It's just that angry, tightly-wound mania is usually far more interesting to read than "Whatever, dude, it's all good". Sean Penn would not have a career if this were not the case.

Thus I have chosen to celebrate the most recent Blandwagial year with a little list I like to call...

Blandwagon - A Year in Bile

Over the last twelve months I've indulged in over-the-top rants about the Apple corporation, shoddily-built exercise equipment, my new mobile phone, bad drivers, 50 Things To Do Before You Die lists, streetlamps that try to kill me, laundries, Englishmen, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Chorus of Women, people who dress their children as Satan, bad interior design and, of course, Facebook.

I also said some nice things, but frankly I can't remember what they were.

Fortunately, according to The Get On The Blandwagon! Modern Blogiversary Gifts List, the appropriate gift this year is 'sugar'. And when you think about it, sugar will solve all of my problems. Either I'll be too buzzed to care about life's little travesties, too fat and pimply for anyone else to care what I think, or too dead from diabetic shock. Whatever, dude, it's all good.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Evolution (Part 2)

martini and rossi

Funny how you don't see the words "irrestistably gay" used in liquor advertisements any more.

Evolution (Part 1)

chevy impala 68

Funny how you don't see the word "drunk" used in car advertisements any more.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Even though I no longer subscribe to The Monthly, I still receive spam informative emails from the publishers trying to woo me back. In these emails the latest edition is summarised in all its overwritten, underthought glory.

Fortunately this has allowed me to discover two important things. Firstly, I don't want to subscribe to The Monthly. Secondly, The Monthly is so crammed with dunderheadedness that it can be mocked with nothing more than the tiny excerpts provided. I am lucky to have such a boon.

One of the benefits of reading the email rather than the articles, beyond the obvious ones, is that one is introduced to the commentary of Monthly editor Sally Warcraft... sorry that should be "Warhaft". Actually no, it should be "Warcraft", but I can't be held responsible for the shortsightedness of Sally's ancestors in missing out on a really cool surname.

In "Toots's Kismet", Robyn Davidson explores the behaviour of animals, reflecting on the time she spent in the Himalayas with Toots, an injured whistling thrush that she shared her home, and her life, with. Do animals and humans, she wonders, influence each other?

I dunno. Why don't we ask anyone who's ever owned a dog, eaten a steak or killed a mosquito?

What exactly does sharing one's life with a whistling thrush entail, anyway, other than sounding like being cursed with a bizarre venereal disease? Did she negotiate household chores with the bird? Did she seek its opinion on major purchases? Did it offer practical advice on how to deal with deep personal issues rooted in an unhappy childhood?

Elsewhere Sally goes from the social to the political:

In "Dropping the Ball", Mungo MacCallum critiques political commentators' tendency to adopt the language, and the attendant notions (points, free kicks and knockout blows), of sport. Sport and politics, in fact, have become so intertwined that the electorate is presented with merely an elongated political game, an interminable contest devoid of vision and grand ideas.

WorkChoices wasn't a vision, Sally? The GST wasn't a grand idea? Or when you write of visions and grand ideas, do you just mean visions and grand ideas that you and Mungo agree with?

If that's the case, then I too decry the lack of vision and grand ideas in politics, such as the vision of providing free MST3K downloads to struggling bloggers, and the grand idea of hiring homeless people to run through The Monthly's offices hitting random staff members about the head with cricket bats.

Of course the inanity does not begin and end with Sally Warcraft Warhaft Duke-Nukem. Gay Bilson gets down and foodie:

Food is so beholden to commerce, so lacking in independence from the idea of marketing, as opposed to the original definition of 'market', that our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy.

Er, could you repeat that last bit please, Gay?

...our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy.

I had fruit salad for breakfast. Apparently not only do I have a personal relationship with the salad (I would have thought it was rather impersonal myself), but that relationship is illegitimate. I feel so dirty.

Were I Supreme Overlord of the World, I would demand that Gay write out "our personal relationship with what we eat seems to have no legitimacy" on a blackboard until she could explain precisely what it meant or until her head collapsed like a failed souffle, whichever came first.

It's probably a good thing for her that my personal relationship with absolute power lacks legitimacy.

Meanwhile occasional contributor Don Watson is always good for a laugh, albeit of the sour, disgusted kind.

"I saw a kookaburra dive from a fence post on one side of the road to the verge of the other; in pursuit of what I don't know, because in the instant that it dived, a man on a motorbike roared round the corner and the bird's head struck the front wheel. The collision killed the kookaburra: it bounced back across the road and lay there on its back, quite still. What Australian does not love kookaburras? To be truthful, in that moment I would have been no more dismayed if it had been the motorcyclist on his back and the kookaburra flying on down the road."

So there you go - the gut reaction of Don Watson is that the life of a kookaburra and the life of a man are roughly analogous. Go on, Don, admit it: that line about "in that moment" is just a feint, especially if the motorcyclist was one of those working class people whom you celebrate in the abstract but despise in the flesh.

On the other hand, if Don had somehow foreknown that the motorcyclist was Gore Vidal or Naomi Klein, one suspects whole flocks of kookaburras could have gone under the wheels without comment.

The Monthly is now available at newsstands for only $7.95. Of course in some countries the same can be said for syphillitic prostitutes. In both cases just because it's for sale doesn't mean you should buy it.


As requested, here's the cover of the vintage Life magazine I bought on the weekend:


The main news articles are wonderfully representative of their day - the Paris student riots, Biafra, the Vietnam War - but it's the lesser items that are more subtly evocative. The cover story on "international cuisine in your own kitchen" offers a rather delightful insight into the culinary expectations of Australia forty years ago. Apparently in 1968 "international cuisine" meant pepper steak and chocolate cheesecake. Well ooh la la, Mr Fancy French Gourmet; next you'll be telling us to drink that "wine" stuff and not boil the brussel sprouts for two hours.

The advertisements are similarly hilarious - cars with the aerodynamics of shipping containers, cigarettes, and cameras used for taking pictures of doe-eyed girls with big hair and minidresses. I'll scan some and post them when I get a chance, if only to remind us how lucky we are to live in age of digital cameras, ciabatta and seat belts.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I think an unnamed cartoon monkey put it best when he wrote; "It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times".

Friday afternoon saw me in a foul mood. It started when I was reading some local blogs during my coffee break, culled from blogspot's list of blogs tagged "Perth". I think I was experiencing what Katra calls "freudenschade" - misery at the joy of others. After I finished reading a random selection I was more depressed than I've been in months. Here's an abbreviated reenactment:

It's our third anniversary today, and honey, I just want you to know that not a day goes by without me thanking God for such a beautiful, funny, sexy...


I am the luckiest person in the world...


As soon as we get back from trekking in Nepal we're going to get to work expanding the business. It's going to be amazing to see the...


I can't believe the way you really "get" me...


Here are some photos from Kate's wild party (that's HalfDog with me at the turntables)...


The new album's nearly finished...


...the best fun ever...

CLICK much in love...


...really couldn't be happier...


...thrilled to have experienced...

CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK *Sound of mouse being hurled against wall*

I'd also been struggling with a Word document that had been cobbled together from the corpses of half a dozen other Word documents, and it was resisting all my efforts to get it to format correctly. I was gritting my teeth and hissing damnation at the screen as the computer decided that, when I ordered it to paste a few lines of text into a paragraph, what I really wanted was for the following paragraph to be reformatted into 4 point Helvetica Bold with margins extending somewhere out into the carpark.

Battling peak hour traffic on the way home did nothing to alleviate my mood, even with the roof down and the wind in my hair. In fact it got worse, as the pleasant summer sky suddenly turned black and sent a heavy squall of rain across my exact position. The rain lasted precisely the amount of time it took for me to pull off the freeway and raise the roof... and then it turned back into a a pleasant summery day, leaving me to stew in a hot humid car with saturated upholstery. The half hour after a got home was accompanied by a soundtrack of slammed doors, random swearing, and whatever inaudible sound blood pressure makes as it rises into the danger zone.

Something needed to be done. So on Saturday I devoted myself to the three most effective forms of therapy:

1) Cafe Therapy

I started my Saturday with a couple of flat whites and some fruit toast at Food For Me, which I stretched out over an hour and a half while I read the newspaper and some design magazines. As a bonus I arrived just in time to snag the last free table; freudenschade was replaced with schadenfreude as one annoyingly beautiful yuppie power couple after another came in, only to be turned away disappointed. Ha!

2) Retail Therapy

I did a Grand Tour of Shopping, looping around from my home through the western suburbs, down to North Fremantle, up through Applecross and back to home. Technically I was supposed to be buying a birthday present for a friend, but instead I bought myself a glazed ceramic tray, a 1920s Art Deco covered dish, some plastic toys and a copy of Life magazine from 1968 with Barbarella on the cover. Hubba hubba.

My friend eventually got some very expensive soap from her favourite very expensive store.

3) Party Therapy

I went to a cocktail party in the evening, hosted by a couple who have the two greatest attributes of successful partygivers. One, they understand that a good party requires money, time and effort in large doses. Two, they're not the kind of people to suffer fools gladly - heaven knows how I've managed to sneak under their radar all these years - so the party was exclusively crowded with interesting people. I drank nought but champagne, ate nothing but exotically prepared seafood, and talked to no one but the charming and the accomplished.

So by Sunday my mood had returned to a state of equilibrium. The trick now is to keep it that way.