Livin’ in the good old days

 

It seems that a lot of people including myself feel great nostalgia for the good old days which we were too young to have any genuine appreciation for. This can be for something as simple as old timey nineties music I was barely old enough to remember. Alternatively it can be as large as feeling nostalgia for whole ways of life, and I’m sure we’ve all felt this, for say, being a swashbuckling pirate in the age of sail.

Obviously this is obvious, everyone on the face of the planet except anti-torrent legislators want to be a pirate in some way. However, its strange to think that we long for this backward, pestilent, hard life of crime and pain. Still, those romantic notions of exploring the unknown, free from the rule of international law, always win through. The challenge can add to the reward. Humans just can’t be comfortable being comfortable, it seems.

“Sure I was a sex object without basic human freedoms, I wouldn’t go back” says grandma, “but it was ever so quaint, ooh you don’t get cheese dixie dances like you used to…”

The good old days are full of these paradoxical compromises. We strive for a better world so we can be a bit bored and disappointed with it. For instance, we lament the disparity of wealth in the world and yet the image of the eighties corporate playboy washing down the coke snuffed down off a woman’s belly with a glug of grange straight from the bottle is somehow glamorous. It’s all a game I guess, and it’s only fun if someone’s losing, otherwise no one can be winning.

Alcohol was never as fun as it seems it was in the Prohibition era. The crime and danger adds to the thrill. Farming was never as fun as cowboys made it out to be, and that was mainly due to the likelihood of getting shot or lynched for no good reason. Sex in the sixties…well I guess STD risk is the exception to these things, not too nostalgic for the aids epidemics in the eighties, but the drugs were new. I like disco….

All this nostalgia for something we only know from what others tell us about it. It can make us look at the boring old world around us today. Sure we have phones, but they get boring pretty quick. It’s a computer in my hand, yay, time to watch cat vids with it. Drones are cool, but you need a license. Bloody safety. Everything is tarnished with process and bureaucracy. Freedom isn’t real, we aren’t trusted to not kill ourselves, for good reason, but it still sucks. I guess that’s why Americans are so desperate to cling to their gun laws. It’s a personal freedom that they need purely because it doesn’t make safety sense to keep it. It’s a choice they make as adults. They can feel the rules are still their’s for the making.

Despite housing affordability crises, more and more tariffs on booze and cigs and spending more of your life looking at a screen indoors, there is something to look forward to.

Good news, the future will be worse! 🙂 yay, that’s right, all the amazing technology will be drab, all the rules will be stifling, and it will still seem as busy and problem-riddled as ever.

Aren’t you lucky you live now. You’ll be old then, you won’t have to deal with that shit. No, you can just sit around and complain about how you used to be able to drive the car yourself with controls instead of telling it where to go, it was much more fun. And you will be able to rely on the modern medical technology to extend the time you have to tell all the kids how you were so much better than them at their age. Because no matter how shit it is now, it can get worse. So little things like riding a push bike without needing a road license and a rego slip might be the coolest thought in the world to those upstart little future kids.

“I built a billy cart and burnt dinosaur-juice just to cut grass with whirling knifes when I was young” you can tell them. Sparklers and candles, will be tales of the elicit and dangerous activities kids used to be allowed to do. That’s right. We used to take all our nicotine by burning it! Fancy that!!! They won’t believe you. “I remember when they started being electronicalised” you’ll groan. “They were great big things, had to be to hold the battery.”

Getting old is only any good because the world around you is shittier than before. So if you start lamenting the way the world is going, remember that’s a good thing and live up the good old days.

-W

 

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Maybe it’s Us…

Remember that episode of Top Gear where they go to America and paint messages on their cars designed to cause as much offense as possible? For the uninitiated, the show’s three presenters were given a challenge (forget the obviously scripted nature of the show for a moment): write messages on each other’s cars which would make the locals damage them as much as possible. The messages proved to be too successful – after being set upon by rednecks who apparently took issue with one of the cars’ messages in support of homosexuality, a local radio station had broadcast their cars’ registration plates as a target for attack, and the crew had to wipe the messages off their cars and get out of Alabama as quickly as possible. It’s one of the most well-known scenes in Top Gear history. I thought it was hilarious.

But what the first person said in the initial confrontation was quite interesting:

person [redneck]: “Now are y’all gay looking to see how long it takes to get beat’ up in a hick town?”

This is the sort of line we’d love to ignore – something that indicates more awareness than we’d prefer her to have. Indeed, I ignored it the first time I saw the scene – I was too busy laughing with vindictive glee at the homophobes who were now getting humiliated on international television. But what she said was, I think, very telling as to the true reason for her anger. Because I don’t think she was angry about support for gays (well … not entirely at least). I think she was angry about the fact that a bunch of people who obviously thought they were better than the locals came and assumed she would be homophobic, and that she was very obviously being made fun of. In short, she was being treated as a ‘hick’. And in that context, of course she’d be angry. Wouldn’t you be angry if people spoke to you with pre-conceived notions of how you behave and think – that is, if you were being stereotyped?

Which is why I don’t understand why everyone who opposes Trump, and I do mean pretty much every single one of us, seems to think there’s nothing wrong with belittling Trump supporters, and then have the face to wonder aloud about how he manages to get so much support.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I do not support Trump. I, like many left-leaning people around the world (I believe the right refers to us collectively as ‘lib-tards’), support Sanders, and truly believe he can make a massive positive impact on many of the issues facing America today. And if I were forced to choose between Clinton and Trump, I would choose Clinton in less time than it takes men’s rights activists to feel sorry for themselves when watching the Ghostbusters remake (which takes a unit of time so small it can only exist in a theoretical sense). In short, Trump is, in my opinion at least, bad.

But I can’t help but hesitate when I see yet another article talking about how stupid and ignorant Trump voters are. “I just don’t understand, surely people are better than this” say the smug moderates who continue typing very obviously false attempts at exasperation and benefits of doubt in an effort to look more balanced than they really are. Well, you know what? Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re too busy typing out our ‘I’m not that right-wing’ insecurities to realise we’re the ones pushing Trump voters away. Doubtless, if Trump does win the presidency, these same people will gleefully type pretend-lamentations of how people are stupid and that society is doomed and that dictatorships are needed, or something. I doubt even blind cave-dwelling salamanders, cut off from the outside world millions of years ago, could be more isolated from reality than these netizens.

At the moment, Trump looks set to lead the Republicans to an abysmal loss. But if we continue treating anyone with a hint of anti-Clinton views as uneducated proletarians not worth listening to, this might change. Hey, at least the smuggers will feel more energised than ever before, right?

-Z

Forget ‘The Political Compass’ – Just Take a Drive

It’s a long-known fact that everyone’s political views, no matter how different, are, in their own eyes, exactly in the centre, or ‘centre-left’ if they’re far-right. But, of course, in reality, this cannot be true for everyone – my friends hated my controversial decision to grow a mullet, so I’d say they’re more conservative than me, for instance. So how does one objectively measure how liberal or conservative a person is, if we’re not to trust their own judgement? Some might point to online tests, most notably The Political Compass, but these tests, whilst giving you a detailed picture of your standing in relation to the rest of the world and the major political parties of your country, take up to fifteen minutes, and will add up to five cents to your power bill. My newly-devised method, meanwhile, gives you a guess that may occasionally be accurate in a mere half-hour, and will cost you nothing provided you’re good at scabbing lifts off people.

You see, a person’s attitude to driving is, actually, quite relevant to their political stance. Let me explain. A forever unbroken rule of driving is that everyone faster than you is too fast, and everyone slower than you is too slow, regardless of your actual speed. However, different people respond to higher/lower speeds differently, and here is where I make my judgement. If one were to see a minivan with tyres thinner than our taxes for Qantas driving at below the speed limit and didn’t mind, I would contend that they are probably liberal-minded, as it shows they’ve kept an open mind to the possibility that different drivers and cars may have different speeds at which they are comfortable. If, however, a driver doing 80km/h in a 100 zone gives a car zooming past at 93 an indignant stare pretending to be dismissive (well that’s what he did to me), I would contend that he is absolutely not open-minded, as he refused to consider looking at the road though anyone else’s point of view.

By the way, he drove a light green Commodore Calais, probably VY model, on the Hume Freeway, near Watsonia in Melbourne, about a month ago. You’re damn right I’m bitter.

This method of political diagnosis has strong implications. For instance, we can now predict the transport policies of either party if they are to become government (since we still have no idea who it’s going to be). If Turnbull comes into power, we can be sure that speeding fines will be increased. I can see him complaining about the slow car already: “This guy’s doing a bad job, his speed isn’t showing any growth….” If, on the other hand, Shorten gets in … things will probably stay about where they are now, actually, because all he’d say upon seeing a slower car is ‘Medicare’, having lost the remainder of his vocabulary during the election campaign. If the Greens got into power though, we’d expect the only proper system of roads, the autobahn, except that they’re against using petrol. It’s a horrible catch-22 for them. So basically, things are going to be bad for drivers in Australia. Sorry fellas.

Oh, and I won’t hide it – woe is the person in front of me who dares to drive anything more than 2km/h below the speed limit. Especially if they’re driving Commodores.

-Z

“Well at Least I’m Better Than Americans”

“Well I just think we should have, you know, some control over our borders.”
“There’s barely any people if you compare asylum seekers to normal immigrants, the economic cost would be completely eclipsed if we started taxing Qantas, or any of the other big companies that pay zero income tax, their qualifications aren’t worth much here plus most of them aren’t allowed to work anyway so losing jobs to them isn’t really a worry, and they’d be housed if we stopped counting houses as investments for negative gearing laws so don’t even try to start about putting them ahead of homeless people.”

I’ve got him. He can’t get around the fact that there’s no reason to support offshore processing. He’s doomed, like a factual piece of information at The Daily Telegraph. Victory is near.

“Haha, at least we’re not in America! They’re gonna elect a guy who’s gonna build a fence to stop Mexicans and “make them pay for it” haha! Bernie Sanders is the only guy who knows what’s up and he’s gonna lose!”

trump

Time to make excuses great again. image taken from businessinsider.com

Everyone has a laugh. All is well again.

What the hell just happened?

Time and again I meet people who use the ‘at least I’m better than Americans’ line to get themselves out of trouble, or just to feel better about themselves. I thought it was just a university student thing, like feeling ‘nostalgia’ for Catdog, or thinking our opinions matter, but it’s not. Fully grown, fully intelligent people still use this line. And other people agree with it. Everyone agrees with it. Hell, American tourists, worried about not fitting in here, agree with it. Forget global warming, forget nuclear de-armament, this line will be the thing that unites the peoples of this planet and bring about world peace. And, frankly, it makes no fucking sense.

refugees

We, the nation keeping refugees in indefinite detention, in order to evade international law, with bipartisan support, are laughing at Trump’s wall. Okay. image taken from looppng.com

Let’s go with this example. Let’s compare illegal immigrants in America with our offshore processing policy. Ignoring the fact that illegal immigrants aren’t refugees, which already invalidates his argument, the number of illegal immigrants in America dwarfs any statistic related to boat people in Australia. According to reasonably reliable estimates, there are as many as 11 million illegal immigrants in America, 8 million of whom are employed, in a nation with 22 million unemployed people. Even if we scale this down by a factor of 15 for Australia’s population, we still end up with ~730,000 people. We in Australia do not and have never had anything even remotely approaching this number of asylum seekers. And in America, it’s actually considered controversial if illegal immigrants are deported, whereas we don’t bat an eye when a student who’s overstayed their visa here gets the same treatment. We are, quite objectively, far worse in this area.

But does that matter? Do people actually care what the facts are when it comes to America? I don’t think they do. No one seems to know or care that America spends proportionally more on medicine than Australia, or that their news programs are required to hire with diversity in mind (have you seen Australian news that isn’t SBS – it’s like looking at a freaking salt lake), or that they recently made gay marriage legal, or any of the (many) other things which suggest that, actually, America is quite a progressive society. We even have the bare-faced cheek to talk about oppression of black people there, when we have the Stolen Generation, a ten-year difference in life expectancy for Indigenous Australians, sub-40% home ownership rates, 1300% higher homelessness rates, and a broad public perception that they complain too much, leading to very little action to solve the issue. None of this matters. They base their view of America on news outlets which I can only assume have their entire foreign crew based in the dodgiest town of Texas, cultivating some sort of hick story so far removed from the rest of the nation it shouldn’t even qualify as a caricature. And they’ve been doing this for years now, conservatives and liberals alike. It’s become a part of our culture, like Vegemite or pretending to watch and/or care about soccer. I don’t think I’m exaggerating here when I say it’s become politically correct to hate America.

bad living conditions

‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ image taken from pub209healthcultureandsociety.wikispaces.com

Now, hopefully, you’ll see that this is bad. Hating a nation is getting woefully close to xenophobia. But it gets worse. You see, people have started justifying their terribly callous views to themselves by using this phrase. Want cuts to Medicare? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Want to support offshore processing? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Want to stop paying unemployed Indigenous Australians Newstart, the only thing keeping them (barely) alive, unless they move to a town where no one’s going to hire them anyway? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Love the tax cut that gives $80,000-$87,000-a-year families, far above the average income, more money, whilst introducing work for the dole at $4 an hour? ‘Well. Well.’ By using this extreme-right non-existent nation as an excuse, we’ve been slowly sucked towards the right, telling ourselves that as long as it’s better than ‘America’, it’s okay.

What I’m really saying is that we should all move to America. They’re, ironically, the only ones unaffected by this nonsense, and it’s actually a pretty cool place too.

-Z

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

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