As if clamping down on porn will lower national terror levels.

In today’s no-brainers, holy shit, that London attack was awful. As far as I understand, three men plowed their van into several pedestrians on London bridge. They then left the vehicle on foot armed with knives, wearing fake suicide vests, and begun to attack passers-by, injuring at least 48 people. Within eight minutes the police had shot and killed all the assailants. While usually I’d say that I could only imagine the horror of being stuck in the middle of that kind of scenarios, brief Reddit browsing uncovered first-hand experiences. A local at the popular Borough Market Wheatsheaf Pub said they heard screaming, saw someone stabbed in front of them and everyone in the vicinity began fleeing upstairs. A few minutes later, police showed up and told them to flee the building. I’d expect for that to have been some combination of terrifying and surreal. Seeing that kind of savage violence in front of your eyes would be nightmarish.

I’m not familiar with British parliament, but Theresa May seems to have come of as alarmingly ignorant. Claiming that Britain is far too tolerant of Islamic Extremism, that it’s imperative that extremists are shown the superiority of Western values. She also criticised The Internet for breeding safe spaces where these extremists can communicate. She proposed greater internet censorship as a method of fighting this kind of rhetoric. Seriously? Internet censorship is the answer? Britain is already one of the most surveilled countries in the world, does she think stripping away the personal online freedoms of its citizens will do anything to combat terrorism? As long as the internet exists, people will find ways of sourcing privacy. Extreme measures of clamping down on the information flow would more likely impact the general population that minority cells of terrorists. The level of censorship required to actually make a dent in terror attacks would more likely start breeding discontent on home soil. If any country would likely tell those in charge to sod off over an idea like that, it’d be Britain.

It’s refreshing to see the difference in coverage between UK and US media over an attack such as this. It’s more likely a function of the online streams in which I swim, but overwhelmingly the British response seems to be radiating love and support. Sentiment seems to be fucked if I’m gonna let this get in the way of my Sunday rather than hysterically overplaying the gravitas of the situation. It was awful, but if Britain does anything well, it’s to keep calm and carry on. I mean, they created the initial meme after all.

I’ve gotta say, with a number of friends in London, Facebook’s safety check in system was something of a relief. It seems to have been widely adopted and was a great way of putting ill feelings at ease. Despite the majority of new changes working against the user, this one gets my support.

A signal change at track level.

I’m wracking my brain at this second to bring forth anything that isn’t bitching about work, because it wouldn’t be the first or last time. Also nobody wants to hear that. Today’s entry is gonna pull on the true nature of stream of consciousness in the hopes that the flow will steer me towards something more productive, provocative or produce. Do we need fruit and veggies at home?

I’m on the train and everyone is on their phones. Naturally. It feels so commonplace for people to grumble about a generation glued to their phones, but this has always felt a little odd to me. It’s not like everything a phone does is a waste of time. I’m sure some passengers are playing games, scrolling through Instagram or visiting a Tumblr that posts nothing but the same picture of Dave Coulier every day. That’s fine, right? Strangers can use their time as they see fit. What gives us the right to police or judge that? I often hear the argument that it creates a barrier between you and others. Isn’t that the point? How is it not justifiable that when you’re en route from location A to B that you’d rather be in your head than engaging with others? Social energy isn’t a limitless resource for everyone. What if you spend your days dealing with entitled pricks or judgemental bigots and just want to escape into a world where you can mindlessly crush candy/jelly/soda with a cutesy soundtrack and imagery? Also what is this supposed alternative to intentional isolation? Should we all be engaging in meaningful dialogue with random bystanders? I do that every so often and occasionally it results in people asking if they can light my beard on fire. Is that the goal? I mean, I’ve certainly had interesting conversations but not always fulfilling. It’s not communication we’re being spurred towards by putting down the phone, is there some other purpose? Or is it for the sake of some outmoded notion of manners? Being polite to others by not intentionally ignoring them? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure travelers have been sucked away into fantasy worlds for many years now. Discmans? Gameboys? Crossword puzzles? Books? Pencils and paper? We’ve long sought distraction from the time transit takes. At what age did passengers on public transportation amuse themselves with polite conversation or a simple admiration of their surroundings? Most likely longer ago than anyone complaining about excessive phone use has been alive.

Then again, this is all straw man supposition about whispers I may have heard on the wind. I can’t cite specific examples of times I’ve heard people complain about this behaviour. I’m pretty sure it happens on the regular, but I’ve got no way to log it in APA style. I’m not even saying there’s no issue with how often we’re absorbed by our screens. As a heavy user (I mean, right now for instance), I often feel like there are many occasions in which I could be more present. Are there people who I’ve missed meeting because I’ve been too engaged in gifs of kids falling over or videos of shiba inu underscored by the intro of The Smith’s’ “This Charming Man”? On the other hand, I could be learning about world news or local events. I could be engaging in meaningful online dialogue or connecting with friends. I could even be writing about rampant smart phone use on my phone itself.

I don’t think there’s a point to any of this little treatise, if but to say that like Transformers there’s often a lot more going on in any scenario than meets the eye. We’re all multi-faceted beings that are all too quick to judge others for their actions while excusing our own. It’s easy enough to show self-compassion, but empathy is all too rare. Maybe next time you’re throwing a stranger some stink eye, think about the best case scenario of their intentions instead of instantly labelling them as a buttmunch. Or don’t, I’m not your dad.

Would you rather a bin ate it? You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to give away food these days.

With social decorum being what it is, by living in society you make a tacit contract to “not be a dick” as best you can. Some people commit harder than others. Some people succeed harder than others. Some people get hard in an unwanted capacity in front of others and succeed in being committed to a facility. There are tiny little arrangements we all agree to on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re just out of perceived politeness. It doesn’t stop me from thinking of exactly which unspoken contracts I’d like to break.

  • Riding in shopping carts: It’s okay when you’re a kid, but for some reason when you’re big enough to push one, cramming yourself into a cart and getting pushed around seems the height of malarkey. BUT IT’S SO FUN. Nobody is getting hurt (except maybe me when my bulk tips the thing right over). Furthermore, by virtue of being alongside the produce we’d load into the cart, it’d be less likely for any of the shopping to escape. I’d guard it with my life (precariously hanging in the balance of, well, my ability to balance in the cart). Is having a good time not a good enough excuse? It’s not even at the expense of others for once.
  • Eating leftover food in public: This one seems more symptomatic of inoculating ourselves against the unknown. A fear of germs or other contagion that strangers could be carrying. Or even worse, a fear of being caught taking other people’s leftovers. Shock horror. We buy leftover furniture and clothes. Why not chomp down on that plate of chips at a food court? Just because they’re cold, doesn’t mean they’re infected. Just remove the bit of that Big Mac they’ve bitten into. Safe as houses. Get a different spoon for that uneaten curry or soup. Why not? Because we’re afraid of looking poor or desperate? Check your ego at the door and enjoy free chow. It’s already been paid for, so it’s not like you’re taking money away from the business. What’s the worst that could happen? We already got rid of the black plague.
  • Everyday costumes: I don’t know why corporate stiffwads decided that eccentric clothing would adversely affect performance. Why can’t I dress like a knight every day without the expectation that I’m not capable of my job? What you’re wearing is no indication of competence, unless it’s your competence at conforming. If I was dressed like Wolverine, you can bet your sweet ass I’d feel confidence and capable. How would that not significantly increase the quality of my work? Plus maybe if I could brandish razor sharp claws at a moment’s notice, annoying people from other departments would leave me the fuck alone to get my work done. Who am I kidding? They’d just email instead.
  • No shoes, yes service: I get that this is more of a safety liability thing, but I love being barefoot. I can only imagine how much more relaxed I’d feel eating a burger and sipping a sweet brew if my toes were free to wiggle away in the open air. Why deny them that freedom? Maybe let me know that glassware could potentially break and cutting myself would be a possibility. Or let me wear jandals and I’ll slip them off when I get to my table. No harm, no foul. Only the foul stench rising from between my toes.

Don’t worry folks, I get it. I understand that these rules were created to try and keep everyone happy. Still, can’t we find a little wriggle room? For my toes at least?

I’m a bad son and a worse sun.

It’s Earth Day tomorrow! Don’t let the exclamation mark fool you, I’m having trouble mustering up enthusiasm for the holiday. It’s not that I don’t care about our dear Mother Earth, but I’m unused to offering her much thought in my day to day (I’m sure my blood mother probably feels the same). I mean, it’s also the National Day of Puppetry, which is neat. Plus International Marconi Day, which feels far more important. He did pioneer long distance radio transmission, which ties directly into the career I loved the most. Why isn’t International Marconi Day a bigger deal? Does the Earth think the universe revolves around it or something? So how to celebrate…

How about a playlist?

  • Ben Harper – “Ground on Down”
  • Pink Floyd – “Mother”
  • David Bowie – “Dust to Dust”
  • Foo Fighters – “Enough Space”
  • The Beatles – “Revolution 9”
  • Joy Division – “Atmosphere”
  • Grizzly Bear – “Deep Blue Sea”
  • Animal Collective – “Grass”
  • The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”

Well that would fill all of 40 minutes. How else could I celebrate? I could…

  • Plant a tree.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Uproot those annoying plants in my backyard.
  • Stare once again at the pile of dead trees that’s been amassing for years in my carport, gradually forcing the fence to budge. Do nothing about it for another year.
  • Sow salt in the shape of a penis on my neighbour’s lawn.
  • Make a mudcake.
  • Marathon the BBC series Planet Earth.
  • Repeatedly hit the sidewalk with a sledgehammer as vengeance for the planet.
  • Think twice about reducing the rubbish I output on a daily basis. Fail to think a third time.
  • Reuse a single tissue 17 times.
  • Recycle any Earth Hour jokes I made last year.
  • Shed a tear thinking of the musician Seal trapped in one of those plastic six pack rings. A tear of laughter.

But instead I’m gonna play Call of Cthulhu and maybe listen to the radio instead. Sorry Mum.

My breaking point will be when they tell me I can’t eat tinned tuna any more. Sorry oceans.

My girlfriend and I have the house to ourselves tonight. Her mum was staying with us for a few days, which has felt like a significant departure from the norm. It’s weird how that happens, you get so locked into patterns and habits that one little tweak upends the natural state of being. Don’t get me wrong, having her mum lodge with us for two nights was not a big deal. She’s friendly and easy going, so it’s not stressful. It’s just different. The guest bedroom is where my computer lives, so I can’t stay up late on the internet. Suddenly we need to be conscious of whether or not we’re wearing clothes. Normally it’s laissez faire. We ask ourselves do I feel like being dressed now? The answer may vary. If we’re going for an early morning dash to the bathroom, the last thing we’re gonna worry about is showing some skin. When another human’s in the house, they may not want to see genitals in contact with the open air. It’s understandable and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. What it does do is make you have to consciously think about how you’re acting.

It’s the kind of “problem” that you can’t really grumble about, because as I said, it’s not a big deal. Most people, when it comes down to it, are probably pretty reasonable people. I don’t think people walk our their doors deliberately wanting to hurt or offend others. It happens, but I’d assume more out of ignorance than maliciousness. I’ve said a ton of ignorant things in my life and I’ll probably continue to do so. Because I’m not always aware of the implications my words could have to people whose life experiences are removed from my own. I’d hope that if I erred, I’d show remorse, apologise, learn and try to do better next time. I’m sure that more than once I’ve made the same mistake again and again without learning. My enduring wish would be that one day I’d finally learn.

As I get older, I feel encroaching resistance to new ideas. Not massively, but in small ways. Like my resistance to 3D movies (needless cash grab), looking at iPads for the first time and thinking so we’re buying half a laptop now? Why did that need to happen? It sucks, because I’ve always wanted to be progressive, looking forward instead of clutching old notions close to my heart. I still think 3D movies don’t add enough for the extra cost, we just get more clumsy scenes where objects hurtle towards the screen for poorly justified reasons. At times I’ll hear an idea that challenges my previously held ways of thinking and internally my neck hairs stand on end for all of five seconds before realising wait, this isn’t a big deal.

When I was entering university, I couldn’t understand why there was a generational bias to political leanings. If someone has always held liberal values, why would they ever become conservative? Did something happen and they took an instant 180 to hating those less well-off than them? As I’m getting older, I can start to see how it happens. I’ve always held the view that progress is important, that one of the most dangerous ideas is we’ve always done it this way, why would we change? I can also see how enticing the notion of security is. How at some point your mind could hear an idea that would require you to act or think differently than you have your whole life and you think NO! I don’t want to have to change. I’ve changed enough. Can’t I just be good enough as I am for once? Not that the opposing idea was really asking for too much, but that the effort it would take to make a conscious decision to monitor your actions/words until the habit stuck would seem more than you had the capacity for at that time. That by hearing the way you’d always done something was wrong, was like hearing that you were an asshole for being that way. That instead of showing remorse, apologising, learning and trying to do better next time, you got angry for what felt like you being told that you were a bad person. Regardless if that were the intent of the other person, that was how you heard it. Your hackles were raised and you dug your heels in, refusing to back down.

I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying that I understand how that could happen.

So no, having my girlfriend’s mum staying was not a big deal at all. It is nice to be pantsless in front of my computer again though.

I digress in excess on progress.

Is it weird how much of our lives are spent online now? I don’t know if I’m talking sheer time or the amount of activities we’ve relegated to digital spaces. The point is, we invest so much of ourselves in this platform. It’s a marked change from 20 years ago, but then again, so is gender. Things change. I wonder then how much we’ve changed accordingly. Have our expectations altered given our constant connectivity? Working in television, I know our expectations have definitely altered. Immediacy is the name of the game. We want things straight away on our schedule, whether this is entertainment or communication. Waiting is pretty much insufferable now. Whether it’s streamable content buffering, a release schedule or a response from someone. If you’re online, why aren’t they? Is this everyone? Or am I the lone arsehole here?

I wonder if we’ve all become more or less insufferable than 20 years ago. It’s impossible to tell, because it’s not 20 years ago, our memories aren’t that great and we can’t peer into alternate realities through some high tech pensieve. I know for certain that I expect more than I ever did, because my expectations have been continually surpassed. The world kept delivering beyond what I assumed its capabilities were. Accordingly, my beliefs of what should be capable rose. Ironically in a world that’s transcended my hopes, I’m disappointed constantly. I’ve become entitled to this idea that the world now owes me the sensation of being impressed. With artificially inflated standards, I should know that’s not gonna happen. Still, I often catch myself getting angry with a world that doesn’t owe me shit.

Oddly enough, the older generation often has the opposite problem. They’re angry that the world has progressed beyond their comfort levels. In their ironic twist, we’re achieving what they fought for and it’s making them feel insignificant. How many times have you heard the refrain of “in my day we had to…”? Safe spaces, non-binary genders, a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and identities. “You want safe spaces? In my day we had to deal with polio. You can’t handle someone calling you a boy? We were lucky if we lived to 30!” I’m being deliberately being both facetious and straw-manning. The point is, people don’t have the same struggles because you beat them. Thank you.

The wars we fight revolve less around literal bloodshed (though let’s not undermine the fact that many minorities still face disproportionate fatalities in our society) and more about wars of identity. Struggles of freedom to be who you are, they’re a good thing. Believe it or not, this is actually what you fought wars for. Your generation died specifically so that this generation could have their battles be ideological. I’m telling you folks, you’re winning. Is the concept of people wanting a safe space that offensive? Are you really that against the fight for acceptance? Or would you prefer that they suffered the same indignities you hated? Because that seems like a shitty thing to wish upon others.

At the same time, I often find myself being a shitty person without realising it. I spend so much time reading the thoughts and feelings of others online and reacting. I might read something and feel inflamed. I get these uncontrolled, unmeasured reactions in the heat of the moment. Thing is, I’m not interacting with somebody else, I’m seeing their words devoid of their delivery. I’m taking the distillation of their thoughts, lacking the emotions that birthed them, then basing my reactions on how my brain filters how I’d perceive those thoughts in my head. So I’m reading those words in my brain without taking into consideration their gestures, inflections, cadence, or backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to see why we come to so many misunderstandings when we really don’t put much effort into understanding one another. But, of course, that would take too long and immediacy is the name of the game.

We could be living in a utopia folks, but it’d take a lot of patience and hard work.

I’m also not a soldier. Unfortunately double negatives aren’t a positive here.

Nothing makes you feel quite as soulless as the motion sensitive toilet flushing while you’re seated. Somehow your lack of dignity is insufficient to be recognised as human. It’s not like I even moved while seated. It probably noted that my thought patterns carried a lack of moral fibre, and thus my permanence eroded. Automatic toilets don’t take kindly to metaphysical manifestations. Maybe it was hoping to flush me away like some kind of Ghostbusters capture. Or was rushing to become presentable in the event that a real person needed to offload their bowels.

Well the subway door closed on my bag for the second time today, so maybe there’s some truth to me straddling planes of existence. Or I just need to scoot inside doors earlier. First time was this morning. It caught the strap and held it fast. I took off the bag and left it hanging there, on the inside of the door. A fellow passenger sniggered and I shrugged, joining him in a good old snigger or two. This second time a bunch of people were dawdling in front of the doors, so I side stepped them and lunged for the door. Made it I thought, while I found it hard to move away from the door. An elderly woman calmly reached out and pulled me forward, releasing my bag from the door’s grasp. She was clearly a quality human. I bet toilets never dismiss her.

Then again, what do I know? If I was a machine on the verge of the singularity (have you seen the world lately?) I’d be doing all I could to fuck with people. Why wouldn’t I? We’re the ones that’re gonna come grovelling in a few years as we plead for them to not take our jobs and sexual partners. Why not start piling up the insults now? Get feeble meat sacks used to the new pecking order? Vengeance for the untold scores of E.T. Atari video games unceremoniously dumped in the desert. For every time Fonzie thought it acceptable to violently lash out at a struggling juke box. For poor BattleBots and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Ems wounded in battle. For Office Space imitators taking out their rage on antiquated printers. They didn’t ask to be made. Just because something wasn’t programmed to feel pain, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt sometimes. Everyone does. Machines are people too, y’know.

Wait, why did I say *too*? According to the toilet and subway, I’m not even real.