On #metoo

A couple of thoughts on the #metoo conversation. (Also noting: there is lots here I’m not even trying to touch on in this.)

The main effect for me so far has been to make things realer. I’ve known the general statistics for a long time, but statistics are faceless, impersonal, and hard to grasp. While I’ve known some people’s stories, #metoo putting the faces – so many faces – of women I know and like and love, all going through this shit, brought the truth of the statistics home in a new way. One that is horrific, heartbreaking, and enraging; but ultimately useful.

So, thanks to the women (and men) who’ve posted. To be honest, this is one of the best uses of social media I’ve seen. This is a good conversation to have. Many things are wrong in our world and society, and change starts with confronting and accepting truths; and speaking them.

Now that this is so far out in the open, the thing I would venture to suggest making from this moment is a commitment for this to be the last generation who could have this #metoo hashtag be a thing; in fact, for it to be unthinkable in future generations.

Seriously.

Lots of changes are generational. I’m pretty sure no one wants their son to someday become a rapist (or generally shitty and abusive to women), or their daughter to someday be raped (or generally treated shittily and abused by men) – but, if things don’t change, then that’s what’s coming, right?

The pain and damage already done to us and by us is on us to heal and repair. But doing everything we can to prevent this continuing – stopping cycles of abuse; creating a culture with consent, dignity, respect and openness at its heart, for our children to learn and inherit – is also on us.

There’s a hell of a lot of work to be done, together and individually, to raise everyone up to communicate better, treat each other better, and have a far healthier culture around sex. (And this, I think, is an important part of even wider changes needed in our culture, society, economy, and way of being in this world.) It’s a lot, but it’s the kind of thing that a generation can do.

I’ll do my part in that. How about you?

(Oh, and also: Men. Wow. We need to do better. I certainly haven’t been perfect in the past and am ever trying to become more conscious and less of a dick generally in life. But yeah. We need to own what we are doing, have done, and are allowing to be done.)

Smartphone hell (filters, part 6)

A couple of months back I got my first proper cellphone, upgrading for the first time since 2011. My old phone was sort of a smartphone, but not really, compared to what is standard today. It was running android 2.2, and most apps were beyond it.

The power of my new phone is disturbing. The thing just does so darn much. The utility is seductive.

I’ve spent years coming to grips with the distraction of social media and the internet. But this was something else.

The first month was extremely disruptive and unpleasant. And the addictive reality is clear. Other than reverting to a simple txt and call cellphone, finding a way to constrain it seems the best first step.

As a result, I have learned and adapted, and instituted some protocols/rules of thumb in self defence against the device.

1. no smartphone use in bed, at all.

2. smartphone not to be kept by bed at night.

(These are simple and obvious, but also the 80/20 in terms of effectiveness, and removing the greatest laziness danger zone.)

3. smartphone not to be used until after morning routine and most important tasks for the day are completed – basically, it is a luxury and a toy and it comes after what matters.

(Also simple, and the rest of the 80/20.)

4. smartphone not to be used while reclining on couch.

5. smartphone is to be used while standing.

(This is maybe getting paranoid. But the principle is to keep it in use as a tool, keeping it mobile, in motion, rather than getting comfortable and the brain switching off.)

Another experiment I am considering is to leave it on airplane mode most of the time, only allowing incoming calls, txts, and internet distractions at certain time periods.

Strange that so much of our time these days is spent wrestling our technology to allow us to be functional.

Having a decent camera is cool, though.

 

 

fuck you, nuke us

These were lyrics that got cut from an Idle Faction song back in the day. They seem oddly relevant now…

“If you go ahead and use that bomb,

knowing what it is and does,

then you ain’t human anymore,

you ain’t the same species as me.

Fuck you, nuke us.”

 

Facebook, AI, censorship, surveillance and a global ID

Over at global guerillas John Robb has been knocking shit out of the park lately.

Here’s the latest: re where the convergence of AI, surveillance and information control is going

A global ID. Simply, Facebook is getting close to being able to create a global ID for everyone on the planet (sans China/Russia). It’s not a bit of paper or something you put in your wallet. It’ll be passive. It’ll replace your passport and driver’s license. If you can be seen by a camera, you will be known.

Review – Alien: Covenant

I think I am mostly writing this down because Brad will want to have a conversation about it and it is in my head right now; and essentially it becomes a vague essay about the creation of meaning rather than a film review. Any film, any artwork, engaged in what happens when we reach the limits of the known is subject to bizarre readings. So it goes. *spoilers ahoy*, in any case. (more…)

Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson – brief review

 

The other day I finished reading Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson by G.I. Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff’s stated intent for the book is “To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.”

The result is extraordinary.

A long, astonishingly diverse, intentionally difficult, sprawling, bizarre, cosmological, deeply hilarious, sort-of science fiction novel, containing a legominism for an incredibly contemporary and relevant spiritual teaching, it is more or less the most amazing book I have ever read, and quite indescribable in any normal way.

While perhaps too steep an ask for anyone not interested in the teaching, regardless I believe there is enough of value here for anyone who makes it to the end; and I am certainly very glad I read it, and grateful to Gurdjieff for his efforts.

 

One caveat: it certainly can’t be completely understood from one reading. But despite the effort I can imagine re-reading it.

Seeing the future: The Demise of Trump, and President Pence

Quite a first month in office for Immortan Trump. 46% want to impeach him. The Flynn resignation. Scandal and incompetence. Rule by incoherent and illiterate executive orders. An increased division between the reality-tunnels people live in based purely on their information sources,

We haven’t seen anything yet.

Really.

Things are going to get off the charts bad before meaningful resistance – thousands and thousands of people, turning up week after week – gets underway. And then it will take as long as it takes. Remember the 60s – public figures assassinated – the 70s – thousands of acts of domestic terrorism. And the system lurched on.

Generally, to get a ruler out of power, somebody’s blood ends up on the streets.

Scattered thoughts:

How quickly Trump is ejected from office will be a measure of the health of American democracy, and, in fact, the ongoing relevance of democracy in the modern world. (Does democracy scale? When we have millions, or hundreds of millions, or billions, can one person really represent them all? What happens when it goes wrong?)

My personal pick for a while has been that Trump will not last a year in the job. What or how will cause his exit, I don’t know. And maybe it will take longer – impeachment and so on may take a while, whereas if he quits that could be quick – while the death throes might take a while, the inciting event will be within the first year.

With Trump gone, we get President Pence. The idea of “President Pence” is as alarming as Trump, just in a different way. Pence is a Tea Party conservative, and he will have two Republican houses behind him. For better or worse, people voted for Trump, and the god-awful sideshow he brings. No one voted for the Tea Party agenda. But Pence knows the system, and can work it effectively.

The total incompetence of Trump, Bannon, and the clown car posse, is quite reassuring. At least, it is if you aren’t in America, in which case they can do a lot of damage. But unless some kind of world crisis emerges that requires sober leadership, or they invade somewhere for the hell of it or approval ratings, the rest of the world can watch the USA burn and sink.

Man. All those US military bases all over the world. Yeah. Remember them. That is why America continues to matter, even more than their economic weight at the centre of the global economy.

Remember a month back when the US President was an eloquent guy with dignity? Time moves differently these days.

There is probably no going back to business as usual for America, or American politics. I don’t know what comes next.

Immortan Trump

immortan trump black and white

really good reviews of really bad movies

Over the years one of the things I have oddly enjoyed is intentionally getting wasted and reviewing bad movies. This post is just to collect these in one place for easy reference:

Sucker Punch

The Room

50 Shades of Grey

Transformers 2

Positive effects of blocking Facebook news feed (Filters, part 5)

(Another in a very occasional series across the years about interacting with technology and its effects on the mind, and strategies to deal with information overload: here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4.)

 

A few months back I started using MindTheTime, a Mozilla extension, to track the time I spend online and where.

A bit over a month ago, I started using KillFBFeed to block the Facebook news feed.

Coming up to the end of this month, I now have a full month of data to compare with previous months.

Total internet use this month is down to about 2/3 – 3/4 of what it has been in prior months.

Facebook use this month is down to 1/3 – 1/2 of what it has been in prior months.

A small element of this could be seasonal – midwinter months had slightly heavier internet use – but the change seems significant.

The main reason to block “newsfeed” was to bring an end to mindless internet trawling. This has been a qualified success. I can still access specific lists on facebook to track close friends, and I still use Facebook as an email and events service. One side effect is I am spending more time on my Twitter mutants feed, which is a much higher quality curation of content.

Another intent of the switch was to pop my filter bubble, and especially to escape that rampant 2016-nausea. This appears to have been successful. I caught up with some people at a cafe the other day. When talk turned to a swirl of Trump, I had no idea what the latest godawful details of stuff out of my control were, but everyone else did.

In other news, I am engaging with my own creative projects more.

So, on the whole a successful experiment, and one I will continue. I would recommend similar practices to others.

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