December 28, 2016
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.
December 19, 2016
[Will contain spoilers for Rogue One and Star Wars in general. Deal with it.]’
So Rogue One has happened. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it, on reflection, is purely meta. While it was the eighth film made in the franchise, it is logically the first to watch. (At least per my personal canon, a version of machete order, which we will explore below.)
But because Rogue One was the eighth made, it didn’t have anything to set up about the world. So it doesn’t. It assumes the viewer knows what the Force is, what Jedi are, and contains any number of knowing winks for fans. Which makes it kind of fascinating to consider as the first film in the sequence, as if you knew nothing of the world. This is an accidental effect, but makes the film far more interesting.
(I admit I haven’t watched A New Hope since Rogue One, so this is all just musings.)
From this perspective Rogue One becomes a kind of film that Hollywood doesn’t make. One lacking in over exposition of everything for dummies. One letting questions remain unanswered. One which invests in creating depth and then throws it away. A preamble rather than a complete entity. Storytelling that is taking its time.
My personal version of machete order (moose order? moose canon!) is as follows:
Star Wars (A New Hope, episode IV, original theatrical edit)
Empire Strikes Back (episode V, original theatrical edit)
The Phantom Edit (a condensed version of Episodes I, II, and III, into one film, which, while not perfect, is far more watchable than the original versions, manages to omit most of the awfulness, and which I am happy to accept as canon)
Return of the Jedi (episode VI)
The Force Awakens (episode VII)
So this is basically Machete Order (which is worth reading through if you are nerd enough to be reading this and if you haven’t already) with the phantom edit subbed in, and adding the films from the last year as bookends.
Now: consider Rogue One as the starting point for the entire story.
The Force is hinted at, a religion that has power and meaning for some characters, but is never explained. Jedi are mentioned in passing, and their appearance is foreshadowed, but we don’t know what they are. Vader’s final scene in Rogue is a brutal pre-introduction to his entrance in A New Hope. Vader, based on the glimpses from Rogue alone, is a mysterious and monstrous figure.
We are flung into A New Hope with meaningful stakes. Lots of people died to get us this far. The tenuous tangential opening storytelling of A New Hope as we follow the droids becomes an extension of the roundabout introduction of Rogue One. It seems like it is all about these Death Star plans, and the struggle against the Empire, but, really, this is the beginning of Luke Skywalker’s arc, and the story of the Force and the Jedi. (As I have noted before, the prequels failed mostly because they abandoned Luke’s arc – The Force Awakens succeeds essentially because it continues it.) Luke is unaware of all that has gone before, as are all the major players other than Leia.
Everything changes when Obi-Wan starts teaching Luke about the Force. The story takes on a new dimension. It is no longer just the story of a rebellion against the Empire, but a true tale of good vs evil, with far higher stakes.
Hmm. That’s as far as my thinking goes right now.
So, seen in this accidental light, I think Rogue One becomes kinda cool. I guess I’ll find out someday when I watch them all in Moose Canon order. 😉
November 14, 2016
Well. President-elect Trump. So that happened.
Let’s take a deep breath and begin. This is going to be bad. Okay? Unpredictable, interesting, and even, on occasion, good, in the way that a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day. Enough has already been said about Trump’s character. He is not a good, well-balanced, well rounded person. Civilisation has standards. If civilisation means anything, it means having standards, and Trump does not meet those. He should not be President. He is going to be.
So what does it mean? What do we need to remember to understand this situation?
1. Let’s get this out of the way. With the election of Trump, America has effectively abdicated its role as leader of the free world. We cannot look to the USA for leadership because they clearly cannot sort out their internal situation and politics. They cannot run themselves; ergo they can’t run the world.
We have been looking in a de facto way to the USA to provide leadership for years. We can no longer expect leadership from America. We’ve got to grow up and sort things out for ourselves.
Perhaps a bitter pill, but the sooner swallowed, the better.
America has been an empire in decline for a long time and this election just seals it. Their internal problems are now so great they cannot lead the world. They can’t be trusted to. It’s a moral thing. If you can’t sort out your own shit why would we let you try and sort ours?
2. Trump is not to blame for the current state of the world.
There is so much that is messed up in our society and way of life. Trump did not cause these things, though he is a mighty symptom and emblem of them.
We (anyone likely to be reading this) are complicit in the way the world is today; and we did not get here overnight. For far too long we have remained idle and comfortable while other people suffered.
3. The Republican Party is more dangerous than Trump.
Tea Party Republicans are the real danger. If Trump hadn’t got the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz would have. He would be a far scarier President. Any other Republican with both houses behind him would be scarier than Trump.
Trump is a wild card. A dude who doesn’t know what he is doing. He started out running a protest vote campaign in the primaries that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, and his ego wouldn’t let him quit. He does not want to do the job of being President (eg offering Kasich the Vice Presidency and being in charge of all domestic and foreign policy), or possibly even understand what it entails.
An enormous amount is going to turn on who Trump appoints to advise him, and how well he can be controlled and managed. So far the signs aren’t good.
4. Trump does not have the Republican Party behind him.
This is huge. During the election race, a huge proportion of the Republican establishment turned their backs on Trump. He won’t forget that.
Crucial to remember is that Trump hijacked the Republican Party – a party itself riven between its extremist tea party rump and its old guard. Trump’s agenda is not their agenda. This is going to be one of the most fascinating things to watch play out. In a strange way, Trump and the Republicans become the brake on each other’s excesses.
What this means is that no one is going to get what they want.
5. The President has less power than you think.
Obama said this in an interview late in his second term. The President can make people listen but unless he can get them to agree and cooperate, they have their own power bases, and don’t have to do what he says. Trump is not going to bring people together. He is not a politician or negotiator. He is a billionaire autocrat who makes decisions the consequences from which he is insulated.
6. Trump forces change. Change is always double edged.
Trump forces change. Either he will shake things up radically and get his way, or he will be unable to, in which case the presidency is revealed as irrelevant and powerless, and the powers that be that control the world are shown to be not democratic, which itself demands a revolution from precisely those who supported Trump’s message. (I can actually imagine Trump stepping down in under a year, throwing his toys at not getting his way, calling the whole system corrupt.)
Every action prompts an equal reaction. The fact of Trump forces the left in America to slap itself hard and start engaging with reality in a new way. The fact of Trump forces the rest of the world’s leaders to start leading on the pressing issues of the day, be they wars, climate, or the changing economy.
The fact of President-elect Trump demands a reaction from every sane and responsible human being alive. For we all have power. We just need to own it, reclaim it, and start using it wisely, each and every day. We can and need to do better. And we are many.
Welcome to interesting times. Are you ready to play?
October 10, 2016
The other night I participated in the 14 Hours Homeless challenge, aimed at raising awareness about homelessness and money for the agencies who work directly with the homeless who pull together to make the event happen. We got to visit a couple of them and see what they do, and hear stories of the difference they make. (Strongest one: the dental work DCM do, sometimes relieving pain that has been ongoing for years. Yikes.)
Then we spent the night outside on cardboard trying to get some sleep.
- homelessness can be ended. Solutions exist. The vision from the agencies at the coalface is of ending homelessness. This is an awesome vision but it will require the government to step in.
- the strategy is simple and three pronged: stop people becoming homeless in the first place; respond quickly with supports when they do; prevent them from falling back.
- being homeless can feel like being invisible. The simple act of acknowledging homeless people, and talking to them, makes a huge difference. If you are left wondering what to do when you walk by, be human first.
Personal reflections: man, you don’t get a good night’s sleep sleeping rough. I found the noise more disruptive than the physical discomfort. I was pretty much a zombie after. Doing this for any length of time would be hella rough going. And even though it was a mild night with little wind, when the wind got up around 2am, I sure noticed.
I also figure the circumstances that got you to being on the street – having nowhere to go, no one who would put you up, and no money – would do me in more than the physical side of things. Most of the stories we heard were from people who never expected to end up homeless.
Today saw the release of the results of the Cross Party Homelessness Inquiry, set up when the government refused requests for a select committee into homelessness. Their recommendations are simple and stark: adopt international best practices the government is so far refusing to, namely put homeless people into housing first, then add in the supports. Build more affordable housing. Intervene in the housing speculation market. Create a nationwide strategy on homelessness.
The word from the agencies I encountered at 14HH was that this is doable. Ending homelessness in Wellington by 2020 is their goal. They can’t do it alone, however. We need the government to step up, or elect one that will. Hearteningly the Maori Party have announced they would split with National over this issue.
This is a live ball, but political pressure from the population is now what is required to get movement from the government. Let them know this issue matters. That it is not okay for Kiwis to be living on the streets and the government to do nothing. That’s not how we roll or who we are. We’re a damn lucky country, and we don’t want to become like some other countries where poverty and homelessness are endemic and entrenched.
October 4, 2016
I think it is important, in a social media cycle completely dominated by Trump hysteria, to remember to vote in our local elections, which, admittedly, cannot possibly be as entertaining or alarming as this year’s US election, yet have more impact on our day to day lives (to the extent that our lives are not solely consisted of posting and reading things on social media).
To that end, I offer this wondrous piece of advertising:
In this campaign there are many different ads following this format. I only saw this one once, and am glad I got the photo.
In a world where our defacto world leader America is contemplating electing either a deranged incompetent laughingstock or an efficient woman that will faithfully serve the existing heinous and dysfunctional order, it is nice to realise we live in a capital city within a country that openly acknowledges “Hey, at one end of one of our primary tourist attractions we have this cool tree with a great view that you can climb up in and get high on top of” in the advertising it uses to reach out to local voters.
So vote, yeah?
September 16, 2016
Thanks to the internet and morbid curiousity I have just calculated that I have so far produced ~ 6000kg of excrement in my life.
Imagine 1000 people who weigh 60kg sort of lumped together into a giant flesh pile.
Now imagine it is poop, not people.
This is my legacy, to date.
September 2, 2016
This will be of interest to the three people who see it.
So I renewed the domain for a year. I was paranoid it would screw something up on my other site, as their WordPress installs are linked. (At least I am no longer hosted on GoDaddy. Fuck those guys.)
Maybe there will be more posting.
August 24, 2016
just going through draft posts and backing them up. so far like another 20 pages of stuff I’d forgotten. stubs, notes, entire essays. a weird flashback of the almost. sometimes I forget just how much process has gone on. not just with the blog, but with writing, learning, thinking, growing.
(oh, and the end of the month is goodbye.)
August 15, 2016
I am probably going to let this website subside. Over a decade of various musings, and many stages, but I’m not really using it any more. If there is any content you want to nab for posterity, or revisit something or other, get on it. The site will probably vanish at the end of the month.
Thanks for reading and commenting across the years.
I figure anyone who is still reading is probably a pretty interesting person. 🙂