Hug a Nerd. Save Society.

‘Ooh, a Stan Grant piece. I wonder what the comments are like?’

We’ve all been there. We’ve all watched some interesting Youtube video or read a particularly thought-provoking article, and thought, ‘I wonder what other people think of this – oh, there’s a comment section, let’s see what peopl- oh God, oh dear God, what is wrong with everyone?’ We’ve all read comments that make us wonder how anyone with any semblance of an education could possibly be so stupid, and make us lose a little more faith in humanity. Many of us have trained ourselves not to read online comments because of how sad it makes us. Yeah, it gets pretty bad.

For many, especially those who participate in online communities, the natural line of thought following this is that society is doomed. And at first, it’s hard to argue with them – why are there so many examples of ‘Whether or not homosexuality is a disorder is a question I have a right to ask’ or the classic ‘muslims arent a rase so im not rasist u retart learn some fkn english’? I have literally seen a thread made by a person who was sexually assaulted (physically, for all you ‘hooting is not a crime lol xd’ people out there) where someone made a joke at her expense, was reprimanded, and people were demanding an apology from the reprimanders. And their comments are frequently the most upvoted, they have the most support from fellow posters, their detractors are told unflattering descriptions of their mothers, etc. Saying these people are a ‘bit’ worrying sounds about as accurate as saying our offshore processing policies are a ‘bit’ immoral. So why are we hugging nerds? Let me explain.

See, what you need to realise is that online comments are not perfect reflections of the general population. This should be obvious but perhaps we need reminding. Everyone knows someone who isn’t techno-savvy and could barely open an email, let alone comment on a Youtube video, but they’re not common in this day and age and I’m not going to concentrate on them. See, there’s a middle ground between the techno-phobe and the techno-savvy – that is to say, the normal people. The reality of this hit me when I noticed my roommate, who’s a big user of Youtube, didn’t have an account on it and therefore never left comments. It got me thinking. And it led to a rather interesting question.

What sort of people actually comment on the internet?

To answer this question, let’s think about why someone would join a forum.

  1. They must be passionate. But not just passionate about one topic. For them to be bothered to comment prolifically, they must have a set opinion on everything. This implies a belief that the world, and its issues, are simple, which in turn implies that the commenter is either young, or fairly closed-minded.
  2. They must be internet-savvy. As we discussed, not just able to use a computer, but to be familiar, to feel at home, online. They must spend hours a day on the computer to be familiar with everything, and to feel confident typing things that are almost without exception quite insensitive. Which leads us to the next point.
  3. They must be confident, not just in their computer skills, but in their views. They must feel at least a little entitled to an opinion, to say the things they say. I hate to bring out the PC-hater’s dream strawman, but yes, they are probably men. And again, young. Not many people manage to hold on to their confidence after spending any significant amount of time outside of high school.

Now, let’s think – in our society, where do we find young closed-minded males spending hours a day on a computer, and who are stupidly ‘passionate’ about everything? Some of you might know what I’m getting at here. I’ll give you a hint … remember GamerGate?

This revelation hit me quite hard, since I’m a male gamer that does indeed spend a significant amount of time on internet forums thinking and occasionally telling people how wrong they are. I guess that means you’ll have to take this blog with a grain of salt. But the more I look at internet comments, whether it be articles, Youtube, even large Facebook groups, the more this explanation makes sense. Every now and then, you can see a gaming reference or in-joke, and it gets an absurd number of upvotes. It’s gamers. All the goddamn comments are made and upvoted by gamers.

So it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief, right? They’re just gamers, not a majority by any stretch, so who cares, right? No. For one thing, far more people play games than you might expect. Esports looks on track to overtake regular sports as the most watched spectator sport. But there’s a bigger problem. I, and now you, might know about this demographic, but no one else seems to have cottoned on yet. Online comments are starting to be taken seriously. More and more outsiders, with spectacles and a copy of The Guardian, are looking at the internet and saying, ‘you know, they’re just expressing an opinion; it’s no different to a debate at the pub’. Good on them for keeping an open mind, but, no, this is a worry. What if one of these people is a politician? They’re going to think these sorts of arguments are normal. Gamers’ voices are drowning out the normals.

So what do we do? We could go to these sites and start commenting, but it’s not a long term solution. We need to get to the heart of the problem – gamers themselves. What makes a person become a gamer? What makes them spend hours a day at a computer, replacing human interaction with (more) acne, losing touch with the real world in the process? I’ll tell you what. It’s because they have nothing better to do. They’ve forgotten how much fun a social life, meeting people, and all the other things associated with normals, can be. So we need to remind them what they’ve been missing out on. Meet them. Talk to them.

Give them a hug.

-Z

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For Those In the Know

You’re having a conversation. Someone says something which you know is factually incorrect. What do you do?

long necked turtle

Eastern Long-Necked Turtle. image taken from flickr.com

A couple of days ago, for instance, I was taking a walk with a few people, taking in the health benefits of sunburn and sweat collection. We chanced upon some long-necked turtles in an artificial, desperately-trying-to-look-natural lake and, naturally, started discussing them. One of our group identified them as terrapins. For those who didn’t know, I live in Australia, which would make this quite an extraordinary find. Doing my duty as a Biology graduate, I pointed out their long necks, the fact that they were larger, the fact that they were swimming more slowly, and, of course, the fact that we were a little far away from their home by mere tens of thousands of kilometres.

terrapin

Terrapin. image taken from ct.gov

“No, I’m pretty sure they’re terrapins.”

What does one do at this point? I’ll tell you what I did. As a trained non-jerk, I sat there silently, as I had taught myself to do many years before, listening to him talk knowledgeably about terrapins, how they sat at the bottom of the lake with their mouths open waiting for fish, whilst I slowly imploded. Physicists are currently perplexed as to how black holes, like the one I’ve become, can have the sentient thought required to write blogs. I, however, am still wondering how someone can manage to incorporate three different species of turtle into one painfully stupid explanation. As an animal lover, my dad’s explanation later that this guy had most likely never seen turtles outside the dinner table and probably thought they were all the same did not help.

alligator snapping turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle. image taken from wikipedia.org

Non-biology-inclined readers will probably be wondering at this point why I care so much. I will admit, perhaps this time I was a little biased; that same person had, only hours before, said my dad’s house reeked of cat piss, quite matter-of-factly, in those words. But there is a wider point to all of this. Everyone’s had that conversation where someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about, through dumb luck, obtained the mic. My dad, for instance, has many similar experiences in conversations about power tools. “Mate, you paid too much for that drill, I got mine for X, and all it cost me was that lithium battery…” happens quite often, to which he apparently walks off, laughs, and cries, all in one action. My mum (a Chinese historian), upon my question as to whether Chinese wives not taking their husbands’ surnames indicated less societal sexism, unleashed a tirade about my naivety so vehement I try not to ask her about Chinese history at all now.

This sort of thing is especially noticeable in a political conversation. For instance, I think that Reclaim Australia is factually a bunch of racists cunningly disguised as slightly less racist racists, so if someone talks about them with so much as a tone of sympathy, I treat them with the same derision as I did Mr Alligator-Snapping-Long-Necked Terrapin. For me, and I suspect far more others than the vocal few realise, these conversations end with my sitting there silently, pretending to be defeated so as to kill the conversation as quickly as possible, all the while becoming an even denser black hole.

Groan-man-statue.fw_

What can you do but sit there and bear it? image taken from johnparkerlive.com

So, people say stupid things. What do we do about it? Well, most of you will probably tell me to suck it up, and who knows, you’re probably right. But it’s not being on the receiving end of mind-numbingly incorrect statements that worries me (well, I guess it worries me a little). What if I end up being the guy giving those statements? What if I thought I was discussing Neoliberalism when I was actually talking about bunny rabbits? Everyone would, like me, be too awkward to say anything, and I’d never know I’d made an ass of myself. Hell, I’ve probably already been Turtle Man without realising. Clearly, societal change is needed. I need people to start calling out my stupidity, and to do the same to others, or else Turtle Men will continue to plague conversation and the resulting implosion-generated black holes will destroy our planet. This is big, people!

But, you know, you do it, not me. I don’t want to be a jerk or anything.

Happy new year guys.

-Z

‘Get a Sense of Perspective’

Deep down, in the fiery pits of hell, Satan stirred from his slumber. His most trusted acolyte, Alan Jones, quickly took his place to the right of the dark prince’s throne (in keeping with his world-view, which is more right-wing than Satan’s).

“What is your bidding, my lord?”
“We have done good work to further the suffering of humanity, but we must go further! The wretched human race is still progressing, albeit at a stunted rate.”
“But how are we to further slow their ascension? We have already opposed contraception so they’ll run out of food within fifty years-”
“-not enough!”
“-and convinced the populace that bombing other countries is fine but taking their resulting refugees is not-”
“-refugees? Who cares about them?”
“-and we’ve even started those protests around abortion clinics!”
Satan paused. “Yeah … I think that was a bit too evil, you know? I mean, some of those women were raped into pregnancy … let’s not do that again, eh?”
Jones rolled his eyes. “Then what are we to do, my lord?”

Satan pondered the question. He had been toying with an idea for a while.

“We must further oppress women. If half their species isn’t making any meaningful contribution, their progress will be even more halted.”
“But how are we to further oppress women? Our agent Mark Latham has already called any woman with aspirations a child-hater, among other things. I don’t know what you want us to do.”
“Let’s think back here. Why were Latham’s comments not taken seriously?”
“Because he’s an idiot?”
“Well, yes but no.”
“He’s a loudmouth?”
“Yes but no.”
“He’s washed up?”
“Yes but no.”
“He’s completely irrelevant? He has no class? He’s trying to tell everyone what a happy time he’s having being kicked into obscurity? His comments are rebutted by anyone with a brain-”
“There! His comments are rebutted. The reason why our anti-women efforts are never quite taken seriously is because if there is any debate about it, they always end up figuring out the evilness of our efforts. The problem is, in those debates, anyone with a brain always supports gender equality.”

Jones was intrigued. He could tell Satan was going somewhere with this.

“What if we gave less intelligent people a way to win those debates?”
“But, my lord, you’re asking anti-feminists to speak intelligently, which is too much to ask of the-”
“No, we don’t have to go that far. We can go the other way – say something so incredibly dumb that the debate stops right there.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Why don’t we plant the idea in those people’s minds,” here Satan paused for dramatic effect, “to have a sense of perspective?”
“Sir? Isn’t their perspective the fact that oppressing women is stupid?”
“Well, why don’t we change their focus? Say something like, ‘well in Africa they have genital mutilation, you’re talking about first world problems you ungrateful bitch’ or something?”

Jones was disappointed. He expected something better.

“Why would they compare their situation to a place completely irrelevant to them? I know anti-feminists are dumb but they’re not that dumb.

perspective 1

screen taken from theguardian.com/au

We’re basically saying that a woman’s genitals need to be mutilated before they can start calling out sexism; everyone’s going to see through it.”

perspective-2

screen taken from youtube.com

“I dunno, I think they’re pretty dumb.”
“I have my reservations, my lord.”
“Alright Alan, let’s make a bet. Plant the idea in your radio show, and if it doesn’t catch on, I’ll buy you a drink.”
“Okay, my lord, I’ll take you up on that bet.” Jones was not above taking a free drink.

Jones went back to the surface world. Satan cursed himself – he just put forward a bet with zero chance of winning. His idea was stupid – no one would fall for it. He had the last laugh, though; he didn’t specify what drink he would buy.

-Z

What Would Jesus Text With?

Sometimes in life, one must ponder the big questions. Some are forever unanswerable, like whether or not the fridge light goes off when you close the door, or why anyone drinks Coronas (which are freaking disgusting; why does a beer that needs a slice of lemon to be potable exist), or how Abbott got elected – you know, the unfathomable mysteries. But there are some questions we can answer, or at least make an educated guess towards, and as a Science major, I feel it is my duty to tackle them. And so it is with today’s topic. What would bible peeps buy if they were alive today? Follow me, dear reader, on a journey of discovery.

First, let’s get Jesus out of the way. I figure he’d have a first-generation iPhone with one of those cases that make them indestructible. See, it’d have to be cheap, because he didn’t seem to have a lot of money, but then why not get one of those twenty dollar brick phones? Well, he spent a lot of time walking around preaching about loving thy neighbour and stuff, and he’d have needed navigation on his phone, especially now that landmarks in that part of the world keep getting blown up by the locals and those pesky Americans. And it’d be awkward if Jesus started overturning tables and yelling at merchants before realising he was actually at a peace talk in Baghdad. It would also need to have a camera, to take photos of all that fish and bread he made. I can see it now: “Nobody touch anything till I get a photo of it all and put it online!”. Well at least that’s what my uncle did. The indestructible case is a must-have too; the Romans were after him, so I imagine he would have had a few narrow escapes.

What about Joseph? I reckon he’d have the same brick phone he bought ten years ago at a sale for ten-year-old phones. He strikes me as the sort of person who’s completely absorbed in his carpentry and nothing else. I mean, you’d have to be pretty distracted if your wife told you that she was a pregnant virgin and not follow that up, right? I think he would have invested his techno-money instead in power tools. I can see it now; he’s got an entire set of DeWalt laser guiders and power saws hanging in his garage, although they’re virtually inaccessible due to the wood scraps strewn across the ground. He was probably building new shelving he didn’t need when Mary gave him the news and didn’t hear a thing over his new jig saw. Or if he did, he was probably excited at the prospect of building a cot.

And Mary? She’s probably got a Macbook Air in order to play Farmville (which, incidentally, is what the Macbook Air is both outstandingly, and only, good at) with all ten of her Facebook friends. Every now and again though, she would pause the game in order to keep up her policy of commenting on every damn photo her son’s tagged in about how proud she is of him and how Fido just had puppies. ‘You turned water into wine? I’m so proud of you xx’, or, ‘we had that order to murder everyone under the age of two – you would’ve been too young to remember this love….’ The good thing is, when she has a problem with her computer – which people of her demographic inevitably will, constantly – Jesus can at least explain that he doesn’t know Macs. As for the phone? I’d say an iPhone 6; it has a pretty screen with great Farmville viewing angles, friendly-looking icons, links to her computer, etc. I would imagine, though, that she wouldn’t have gone for the child phone-trackers, since Jesus was, you know, literally God, so he was probably fine on his own.

What about some other biblical figures? I reckon Judas would’ve had a Blackberry; politicians seem to love them, Judas was a backstabber – you know, standard link there. The three wise men probably didn’t have very good phones if they resorted to following a star through the night so I figure they’re probably those ‘wise’ men who make pseudo-deep comments about how technology is bad in some new obscure way whilst everyone else tries to change the topic. Peter would’ve gotten exactly the same phone Jesus had, probably at three times the price, being the creepy friend that follows him everywhere. Pontius Pilate would have owned the latest generation Samsung Galaxy, and we all know how much Galaxy users hate iPhone users; I have no difficulty seeing him nail poor old Jesus to a cross, crucifying him for the heinous crime of not knowing emails load 0.3% faster on a Galaxy.

And Mary Magdelene? Any smartphone, so long as it had Tinder.

-Z

Cold blooded Aussie Politics

Malcolm Turnbull’s secession of Tony Abbott’s Prime-Ministership mid-term speaks very poorly of Australian parliamentarians. Indeed it appears damning of the very nature of modern Australian Parliament. A willingness to cement a culture of self-serving transience in political action has been displayed by the success of this latest challenge. Though some political commentators believe Turnbull’s induction heralds a return to stable governments through popular and competent leadership, this belief seems reliant on the promises made by those supporting this new trend of transient action. If there is no better mechanism for securing stable and quality government other than the empty promises, from those who profit from the opposite, then Australia should consider review of our political framework.

Since the republican push by Paul Keating to deflect the public’s gaze, or even since Frazer’s use of monarchical safeguards to remove an active prime minister, the proportion and influence of snide, career politicians appears to have increased. Though slow, the public view that parliament is lacking leadership and competence has gained momentum. As the Rudd-Gillard transition occurred it was met more with surprise than alarm. The kinds of personalities were unique and the nature of the internal instability novel. That it could become a commonplace tool of political gamers in parliament was only to become evident later. Now we are seeing the true birth of this new paradigm in political game-playing. Malcolm’s challenge and its success have made it clear that the majority of Australian political figures and parties are now comprised of Lizard People.

These Lizard folk are called SKAAAZI in the international language used amongst the league of Venutian cloud-nations. From Venus they have gradually emigrated to earth, and are now in control of Australia’s government. They have slowly infiltrated our parliaments, systematically, from left to right. One by one, taking over the minds of various personalities in political circles and the media until they are the only ones left and no one notices their unusual cultural differences.

The Lizz-spill is not so much the start of the invasion as the start of the end of Australia’s human civilisation. Both the Labosoar and Lizzeral parties are completely Lizzard run. Don’t believe me. Just look at Abbott; the way he moves his tongue is uncannily similar to that of a Komodo Dragon; it is clearly olfactory in purpose. Shorten, another example, stares down TV cameras with an unblinking glare obviously reminiscent of that of the chameleon. All winter Tony Abbott has ambled around in a most peculiar fashion; why, because he is struggling more than most to contort his scaled body inside his human host’s skin, a lack of sun to bask in and his tail clearly impedes his gait. His reptilian joints connecting his four legs to his body  were not designed for the kind of bi-pedal activity he has been forced to conduct.

The Lizzards have only one desire. Get enough food before winter. And they don’t care in the slightest what happens to us over those months. The invasion force has lost enough sleep trying to keep us calm and ignorant. Soon they will be at our plentiful supply of small marsupials and rodents. The rabbit and mouse and locust plagues of rural history will return to feed their slow digestion. These SKAAAZI will wait for the natural death of our civilisation as it is seamlessly melded with their own. They will bring a new horror of synapsid ethnic cleansing with them. Their foreign policies clearly reflect this. The Liberals’ turn-back policies are aimed at cutting off the continent from the rest of the world. No one will see the genocide, it will be contained and make work easy for the lizard death teams. And the Labosoars are worse! They have shown more or less disregard for border control. Disguised as humanitarian philanthropy this contempt for control makes clear their global domination ambitions. They are always thinking “These people can come in whatever way, number and place they want….they will all die in the same agony.” The sinister reality is that these Lizzard folk are cold blooded killers.

Should we care whether our country is run by a bunch of geko monsters or not? You tell me, dear reader. The evidence is out there. Don’t make a fool of yourself trying to deny it. Ignorance is no bliss when it comes to the SKAAAZI. Whether the media, government or even corporate figure-heads contain their governor general of TERRASOAR SUZZULLIUS, as they have named this continent and its lizard colony, is unknown. Whatever the answer it is clear that REPTILE MURDERDARK (SKAAAZI name) is among their most fearsome and terrifying. His sway on the media has been used to influence the balance of power for some time. With luck he will be the catalyst for the SKAAAZI to die out fighting amongst themselves. However, it is through fighting that they seem to gain some of their mystic powers. Australia is surely doomed.

-W

If You Are The Fan

The prepositions are capitalised. Even the title annoys me.

Now, I hate to be one of those people who say “I’m as open minded as the next person…”, but I’m as open minded as the next person, and I can’t for the life of me see the appeal of this show. 非诚勿扰? More like 非常无脑, right? Of course, the ‘each to their own’ (with the extension ‘and bogans watch crap’) argument would usually end the discussion here. But If You Are The One has gone beyond having mere fans ‘liking’ the show. More and more, I’m actually seeing perfectly intelligent people who are proud of watching it. Something’s going on here.

Its popularity is staggering. And it's the same freakin' show every time. image taken from sbs.com.au

Its popularity is staggering. And it’s the same freakin’ show every time.
image taken from sbs.com.au

For the uninitiated, If You Are The One is a Chinese dating show with what appears to be a much bigger Western following than I realised. As a sidenote, Australia is at least partly responsible for this perplexity; our very own SBS was the first major network to broadcast it to an English audience. The basic premise of the show is that a guy walks onto a podium and talks about how he doesn’t value intelligence or aspirations in his future partner (this is only a slight exaggeration of the truth) to 20-something women, then the women ask him if he’s got personality, then after a few rounds of talking, if one of the women still like him, they go to Hawaii.

... image taken from If You Are The One season 5 episode 52


image taken from If You Are The One season 5 episode 52

Or something. See, I wasn’t paying attention that one time I watched it, because, as my synopsis suggests, I thought it was stupid. And you should too. It’s a dating show. It exhibits and even promotes everything wrong with gender roles by handpicking conservatives as contestants. Hell, the show logo’s male silhouette wears a suit whilst the female silhouette is naked! And yet the countless terrible things about If You Are The One are ignored by its Western fanbase. “Oh lighten up”, they tell me. Some of them actually rush home to watch the next episode on time. I mean, good for the SBS, at least they’re getting viewers for once, but … what?

Of course, we should note that dating shows tend to attract large audiences. The Farmer Wants a Wife comes to mind. Maybe If You Are The One is simply capturing the A Current Affair demographic (which is my polite way of describing bogans). But, no, this isn’t the case. Most fans I’ve met are university students. And though, of course, that’s no qualifier for intelligence, most university students at least keep up pretenses. Have you met any self-respecting student who’ve rushed home to watch The Farmer Wants a Wife? No, because if anyone found out, they’d be laughed out of the coffee club. And I certainly haven’t heard anyone say ‘lighten up’ when someone mentions the stupidity of that show.

So what’s going on? Why are there people who not only like If You Are The One, but proudly proclaim that they need to get home before it goes on? Well, as always, I’ve developed a theory. And you might not like it, but god damn it, these ‘fans’ make me angry.

Are we any better than Homer watching Bumblebee Man? image taken from holylandofhoops.com

Are we any better than Homer watching Bumblebee Man?
image taken from holylandofhoops.com

Think carefully. What are you thinking when you flick to The Farmer Wants a Wife (but before you change the channel)? You think it’s stupid and not worth your time, and wonder why anyone would watch it. Now, and this is the important bit, imagine if a hypothetical friend from China is watching with you (assuming they aren’t bogan-esque). Imagine what they’re thinking. Maybe I’m stretching a bit here, but I’d imagine something along the lines of ‘lol, this is so stupid, you guys actually watch it?’ They might even enjoy watching it, and tell themselves that laughing at dumb Australians makes them more culturally aware, when it’s incredibly obvious to us that there’s so much more to Australian society than The Farmer Wants a Wife, especially when we know they go out of their way to cast weirdos.

Starting to get the picture?

-Z

Is it a cultural thing?

Since arriving in the UK, my abnormally insensitive mind has begun to pick up on things about the place that most people probably already knew. The most striking of these things is that theft is an important part of British culture, and the more grandiose the better. Prior to coming here I was well aware of the history of the British Empire and how the place I’m from was mercilessly used for British self interest, wrested from the hands of its original inhabitants. I was aware this was also true of many, many countries, all over the world. I was calmly well educated as to how this was based on an immoral culture of theft on the part of the British.

But I thought top hats and tea (apparently also stolen from afar) were far too quaint to belong to a bad culture, so I brushed my education aside. “All this evidence and logic doesn’t really mean anything.” I convinced myself. “Britain is still a medieval fantasy land where everyone will love me and all my dreams will come true.”

But then I watched the news on one of the first nights I spent in the UK. There was a story on a dramatic bank heist. This heist involved happy-go-lucky crims abseiling down elevator shafts and drilling giant holes into secure vaults, evading sleepy security guards and making their getaway with untaxed millions. The crims took the shady contents of secret cabinets, in this bigger-crim swindling escapade. The news crews were all over this. They couldn’t get enough.

I thought that was it. The heist gang would surely be hightailing it through the Italian Alps by now, singing their successes on a bus. However they made a critical mistake; the complication in the media’s action film, if you will. They missed CCTV cameras in the elevators which they used to cart the gold out of the bank in, disguised as bin men. What the media then did with this footage was the point at which I started to suspect that this was all a bit odd. The news gave the crims nicknames.

They didn’t name them to suggest who they were or give identifiers for the purposes of clear exposition. No. Instead the clearly super-excited BBC newsreader gave them names seemingly inspired by the Italian Job. For example there was “The Gent,” so named, and in gleeful tones, because the news crews believed him to have shiny shoes, evidenced by the grainy-as-a-beach CCTV footage. I realised they were jumping at every excuse to masturbate over this, admittedly pretty boss, crime.

Maybe this over-excitement runs deeper though. Maybe its why there’s pennies here; more opportunities to short-change people. Little thefts, British simple pleasures. Maybe it’s why they hate being in the EU; “what is this ‘Sharing’ you speak of?” they might wonder. You only have to look at a brief synopsis of the Falkland Islands conflict to realise that Britain likes to make a big deal over, even re-theft of, stolen goods. However, by “runs deeper” I meant sex, maybe, yeah why not.

Has all that British reserve, sexual oppression and keeping-face to convince everyone that civility breeds superiority made simple crimes like theft as exciting as a threesome on a private jet? I would wager yes, because I’m writing this article and you can’t stop me. There are, I’m sure, many that would argue “yeah, love of crime is just human nature and it’s in all of us and we’re all unique and beautiful all over the world but we’re all actually the same.” But it’s clearly Britain that has a culture which uses human nature to affect its culture in order to disguise its basic human nature so as to trample other cultures in order to satisfy its collective basic human nature. Or, said with greater complexity, “They act all full of themselves, but they just want your stuff.”

Now that I’ve pleased all the anti-empire commie readers I’m going to have a cup of tea.

-W

Keeping an Open Mind Sucks

My parents had two related, but different, philosophies on how to raise me. My father always wanted me to develop world-views on my own, and never pressured me on anything. My mother, whilst supporting the idea of open-mindedness, also explicitly told me that nonsense is nonsense, so that Andrew Bolt, the Liberal Party, and any remotely critical views of the Chinese government were not worth discussing. Overall, I think my dad won out, because my teenager-parent-hating-years were spent with my mum, so I’ve kept a fairly open and malleable mind to most situations.

One thing this open-mindedness led to is my gullibility. Sadly, I’m always the one who falls for the ‘did you know they took gullible out of the dictionary’ jokes. But another annoying thing is that my political views are swayed as easily as a blade of grass in the wind or an SUV whilst turning. I’d like to say that this only happens when an opposing viewpoint is valid, but there seems to be a relatively valid viewpoint every damn time.

The first time I read about the gender pay gap, for instance, I was outraged, and brought statistics about gender pay inequalities and the misogyny of corporate fat-cat-white-male CEOs to far more conversations than was necessary (yeah, I was ‘that guy’). But one day, someone hit me with a blinder: CEOs are just trying to save money whenever there’s an excuse; they’re not truly sexist, or else they wouldn’t be hiring women at all. Equipped with this new perspective, I went to conversations telling people to stop being so naive and that CEOs are just trying to save money. Someone then shot back with ‘it doesn’t matter if they think women are actually worse workers, they’re paying less because of gender and as such they’re sexist’. Again, my views turned, and I went to conversations with a renewed sense of outrage at sexism, only to be shut down again when someone mentioned that the pay gap is mostly due to maternity leave. Now, I just stay away from the issue, and non-feminists think I’m a feminist whilst feminists think I’m a dinosaur.

Another good example is the issue of euthanasia. Now, no one really opposes euthanasia, do they? Not anyone that I’ve met at least. But on an episode of Q&A (the watching of which totally makes me a seasoned political commentator), Paul Kelly mentioned an issue: if euthanasia was an option available, older people who are not in any terminal illness but see themselves being a financial burden on their children may feel pressured to take this option, with, or importantly, without suggestion from their children.

You know what? Paul “Howard’s-Innocent-in-Children-Overboard” Kelly makes an annoyingly good point. Now I don’t know what to think about euthanasia. And this pretty much sums up my views on most political issues. See, I’ve discovered that, in reality, there are three, not two, points of view – the popular one, which is right, the unpopular one, which is also right, and mine, which is always wrong. The only way I can seem smart in political conversations is to say the opposing viewpoint and mention that ‘it’s not necessarily 100% true, but X-viewpoint is an interesting way of thinking about it’. Basically, I’m a wanker in those conversations.

Well, either all of what I’ve written is true or I just don’t have any debating skills. Sometimes I wish I turned out more like mum.

-Z

Eurovision is a lot like The Hunger Games crossed with a soap opera.

from google and such

from google and such

Ever watched Eurovision? I watched some on TV. Well, Australia was in this year for the quarter-quell. We’re pretty much the equivalent of District Thirteen. There are a whole lot of crazy people in space clothes on TV. They’re all smiling like they have a gun to their heads, and are spitting glitter while they tell the world the scores. Those scores seem to have more to do with some kind of overarching political agenda than the actual competition. You know, just like televising elaborate to-the-death cage-fights involving children would.

It’s the glittery aesthetic combined with the intense political passive aggression that makes it seem so much like the Hunger Games I think. In the books, America has disintegrated through some apocalyptic future war. What’s left are several different regions with different economic contributions to a dictatorial capital city. Every year the city holds a competition between all the members of the conquered nation to see whose kids are best at killing each other. It’s a humiliation, accepted by the participants in the name of keeping-face for unity. Like Eurovision.

Eurovision is the ultimate humiliation for broken nations, forced to send their children to go dancing on a trampoline to techno-folk music so they can be judged by the rest of the world. The judges themselves are people with Botox smiles and glitter coming out their tear ducts as they blink “PLEASE KILL ME” in Morse code. Exactly the same as in the Hunger Games. Additionally, weird shoulder pads from 1960s sci-fi films and beehive hairdos all make an appearance in both Europe and the fictional post apocalypse. I could feel the humiliation coming out of the TV, but wait, there’s more.

I think his chin rest is the trigger for the bombs they rigged to his family’s home, don’t you? from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1183403/Eurovision-judge-forced-quit-caviar-lunch-contestant.html

It’s been publicised that “anti-booing technology” has been devised since last year’s Eurovision. Supposedly in response to excessive booing at the Russian contestants. Not because of their act, but because the crowd thought up no better way of acting out against Russia’s politics than by booing at a song contest. This will clearly stop Putin’s homophobia in its tracks, they thought. Apparently, the Putin administration agreed, and out comes this unapplause censoring machine. Of course the technology is designed only to protect Russia’s image instead of its poor entrants. They’ve been taught all too harshly that they were merely an effigy of their country’s politics. Anti-booing technology is also a little too reminiscent of the media control and propaganda all through the Hunger Games. The contestants just had to smile and bear it, or else their families would GET IT! Well, probably not, but that’s a good point to start on mentioning the differences I see between the Hunger Games and the whole of Europe.

This is how Russian contestants are picked for sure. Image stolen/I’m not that cool, its a link from; http://whatculture.com/film/10-reasons-the-hunger-games-isnt-a-rip-off-of-battle-royale.php

The Hunger Games sported a tense system of oppressive trade and governance amongst several districts which involved intense passive aggression. In Europe however the districts are called ‘countries’. I better put in some more differences than that, make myself sound intelligent. For instance: in the Hunger Games there was one capitol with total control of the different districts’ trade and governance. Alternatively, Europe has a handful of big players and a bunch of little kids caught up in the group. The little countries are like the kids who end up wagging school because they’re too afraid to speak out against the big kids’ plans and so end up trying to hide their tears as they break the rules under duress. Those big kids however are all about as big and influential as each other, so they have weird dominance stand offs where they yell “oi, throw the first punch dickhead” and put their arms out like they’re Spartacus. No monopoly of power means more passive aggression between powers; this means the strained smiles are much more snarky in Eurovision than in the Hunger Games.

On top of that the European countries want to look good for the rest of the world. “Don’t fuck with our gang” is a phrase I expect is carved in Latin, in an office somewhere in Brussels. The European Union is pretty much a bunch of nations that hate each other but want to look like a big happy family. They’re the couple who really should get divorced but stay together “for the kids”, except the kids are adults who want to leave. They’re really there for each other’s bank accounts. So their lives involve a lot of private investigator contracts and lengthy secret meetings with divorce settlement lawyers. Because they’re also so deep in each other’s pockets in Europe, they have to maintain their fake smiles permanently with fish hooks. America sometimes comes over for a really awkward barbeque, and tries to leave as soon as it can.

I’m sure that my shallow, lay-mans understanding of the economic and political complexities of Europe and the European union are correct. Just look at my clever association between young adult fiction and a song contest. I’m clearly right about this. I am glad you’ve read up to this point and can fully absorb the important message conveyed by this article. Europe is silly and I am clever and sophisticated for using un-evidenced criticism of it for the purposes of humour, and getting blog views. Of course, Eurovision is more likely just a chance for Europe to take the piss out of themselves and have a good time; that’s why they have trampolines in their acts. Have a great day!

-W

I Like Bad Music and Movies

There are some things you just don’t admit to in person. That time I let loose a real silent-but-deadly when I, alas, wrongly assumed the group would keep walking, comes to mind. But behind the anonymity of the internet, I’m free to release my thoughts and opinions, no matter how stupid, upon the unsuspecting reader. So here’s another shocker. I’m genuinely, unironically, looking forward to the upcoming Jurassic World movie.

You see, the Dumb-Hollywood-Action-Movies that every person with even the slightest sense of pride professes to hate are, for me at least, quite fun to watch. I liked watching Matrix-man drive a speeding bus over a bridge-ramp, or Bruce Willis jumping down an elevator shaft, or Tony Abbott doing iron-man challenges (which isn’t Hollywood, or a movie, but satisfies the other criteria just fine). And it’s not because they’re all fun to laugh at -not entirely at least-; it’s because they’re made to be exciting, to keep you on the edge of your seat, to make you want to see how it ends in a huge explosion of action, hopefully in a literal sense. You can talk to me about how flawlessly Kenneth Branagh explored the themes in Hamlet till the cows come home but the fact is, when I watched Hamlet I fell asleep and when I watched Rambo my eyes were like saucers. When I’m watching entertainment, I want to be entertained. Explosions and violence entertain me. There, I said it.

And it’s the same story with music. My views can be quite comprehensively summed up in a conversation with a friend on the subject:

Him [noticing Call Me Maybe in my playlist]: “Why do you have so many bad songs?”
Me: “Well, I dunno, it’s really catchy!”
“A song being catchy doesn’t mean it’s good.”
“…?”

Curse you, music judgementalists! Screen from Archer (FX)

Curse you, music judgementalists!
Screen from Archer (FX)

Now, why is that? Why does a song need to be deep to be good? All I’m doing is listening to a tune whilst doing boring work, and frankly, I can only decipher the lyrics about 10% of the time anyway. I like Call Me Maybe every bit as much as I like Riptide; as far as I’m concerned, they both have catchy tunes, therefore I like them. If I could, I’d have filled my playlist with generic pop. Sadly, the awkward ‘are you serious’ looks became a too much for me, so I’ve retreated from brainless contemporary pop to brainless early 2000’s pop, using ‘nostalgia’ and ‘retro’ as an excuse. Sigh.

And so we come to the Jurassic Park franchise, and Jurassic World. The first Jurassic Park was one of those few action movies that people could be proud of liking; it had an interesting idea behind a fairly solid plot, and dinosaurs were a novel catalyst for action scenes. Now, I’ll admit the two movies that followed didn’t have many ideas or much plot, but, like I said, all I really wanted to see were action scenes, and they did just fine in that department. I mean, people are fighting FREAKING DINOSAURS, what’s there to hate? For the next movie, I hear there’s going to be genetically engineered super-dinosaurs. Of course it’s stupid, but wow, does that sound exciting or what!

-Z