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Monthly Archives: December 2008

Blanche Vavra was a frugal, private woman.

Her friends say she never spent a penny on anything but the absolute bare necessities. She had no children, was never married and lived a quiet life.

But eight months after her death, at the age of 90, with her generosity Vavra has affected the lives of thousands of people she never even met.


It’s a strange story and supposedly a simple one. She worked hard in life and was able to do something good in death.It’s such an oversimplification. A life boiled down to its essentials. A narrative only an actuary would believe to be a true account of a person’s life.

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"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

Dune by Frank Herbert

Red-Walking-LightI recall this quotation every time I wait at a traffic light.

Hong Kong people have this odd habit of standing at a traffic light until it gives permission to cross the road.

The road may be empty, there may not be a vehicle in sight; it matters not. They will stand and wait.

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I’ve been playing around with this for two days, and I needed to find a reason to post it on my blog. Then I realised it was my blog, and I could post whatever I wanted.“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just, do things.

The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how, pathetic, their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say, ah, come here, when I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know that I’m telling the truth.

It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and uh, look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your plan and I turned it on itself.

Look what I did, to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hm? You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair.”

Even after all this time, this is the monologue in The Dark Knight that’s etched into my memory. I can close my eyes, and hear Heath Ledger’s voice, hear that rhythmic pronunciation and odd elocution that marked such a brilliant performance.

You know why? Because I’m a schemer. I heard that dialogue, and identified with it instantly. Sure the Joker’s talking to Dent. But he’s talking about me. Well about people like me. The whole “I got a plan; I’m in control; Life is gonna follow the path I tell it to follow” attitude. For a while, life even plays along.

Life doesn’t give a damn. Life is more like the Joker’s description of it than anyone’s willing to admit. There is chaos, there is chance, there is luck. There is being born in the right month, and growing up in the right neighbourhood and there is being smart and there is being hardworking. There’s the illusion that what we do matters.

The recognition that I’m a schemer is liberating. It frees me up to accept that the way I see the world, the way I want the world to be, doesn’t have to be identical with the way the world is. I’m thankful for all the coincidence, the fate, the chaos, that has given me so much, and created so much good in my life. I shrug of the bad in life as fate, chaos and chance. I can plan, contingency plan, contingency – contingency plan, and yet not worry about what will happen, and to be unconcerned when the plans disappear in a puff of smoke.

Have I become a fan of chaos and anarchy? Not yet. I like order. But I can’t shake the notion that the more comfortable I become with chaos, the more I enjoy its presence, and the more I want its presence. Things aren’t as interesting when they go according to plan.