Last night, I got up off the couch in order to clean my teeth. Five minutes later I had completely forgotten about cleaning my teeth and found myself washing the dishes.
My Muslim neighbour acquired a very noisy rooster not long ago. It not only crowed at dawn but throughout the day and night also.
Last weekend, I realised I hadn’t heard it crowing in a while and worked out that it probably disappeared on Eid al-Adha. I think the poor bird might have ended up as a sacrifice.
(post originally from October)
What’s with shop assistants these days?
One guy helped me for no more than two minutes in an otherwise empty store and then proceeded to get extremely snippy when I chose not to buy the most expensive product.
It’s no wonder I prefer shopping online.
Meeting up with people from okcupid is always fun. For some reason, when making the arrangements for meeting up, I’m always tempted to say something like:
"I’ll be wearing a red carnation in my left lapel and carrying a newspaper in my right hand. I’ll come up to your table and ask you for a light. You will say:
'I love springtime in Adelaide.'
I will respond with:
'but autumn is better.'
If for any reason, I suspect that I’m being tailed by the KGB, I will carry the newspaper in my left hand. You should not acknowledge my presence under any circumstances and leave at the first opportunity if this is the case.”
Perhaps I’ve read too many Cold War-era spy novels.
Today on Facebook I finally snapped. Again.
To explain, in Australia we have been experiencing what feels like a never-ending Federal election campaign for most of the year. Over this year, my feed on Facebook has been deluged with petty, inaccurate, hate-filled and hysterical political propaganda (all of which originates from one side of politics). Not only was the sheer volume of this propaganda incredibly annoying, but the insults and name-calling made coming online a very negative and unenjoyable experience. I managed to not react to any of it (and even hid the updates of a number of the most severe offenders) but finally snapped when a large amount of insulting posts were made in the week of the election. In response, I posted an article titled “Why I’m not an idiot for having a different political opinion”. (Yep, posting an article that mounts what should be a fairly mild and reasonable argument is my definition of snapping.)
The election was finally held a few weeks ago and the Conservative Party (confusingly called the Liberal Party) won. Given that the election was over, I thought we finally might have a respite from political rubbish on Facebook. However, this wasn’t a particularly popular result with many people on social media and this disappointment seems to have unleashed another torrent of propaganda, bile and abuse.
After seeing the same piece of propaganda (complaining that the Liberals had not appointed a dedicated Science Minister) for the fourth time today, I snapped. Now, it’s my view that political debates on the internet are a waste of time and I wanted to hold my tongue, but I used to work in this very portfolio, so it was hard for me to see such misinformation spread without correction. So I posted a short rebuttal which corrected the facts (ie, that under this new government, Science is a portfolio responsibility of the Industry Minister — which was also the case under the previous government). While some reasonable people acknowledged the mistake, others used the opportunity to launch into tirades about the Prime Minister (perhaps thinking that I was a Liberal supporter and that would upset me) rather than address the point.
These experiences have left me with a number of questions.
Firstly, why do all the political posts on my feed on Facebook (and Twitter for that matter) come from a far Left perspective? Maybe the Left have taken up social media more rapidly than other political groups? However, I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of people on my friends list who vote Conservative (especially given the result a few weeks ago). Then why don’t they feel the need to continually post political material? As I’ve argued before, the answer may be that these days Left-wing causes seem to be a fashion statement and thus their followers like to publicly broadcast their piety and commitment to the cause.
Where is all this political propaganda originating from? It’s odd that the same “latest outrage” is spread from multiple sources on the same day, giving the impression of some sort of central coordination (although I agree it’s doubtful this coordination occurs in practice). Moreover, each piece of propaganda usually contains the same factual errors. Either the people who are creating these memes are all woefully misinformed or they are wilfully misleading people in order to stir up the most outrage amongst their supporter base. (As an aside, this seems related to an interesting observation that the Left has been recently applying Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ in political debate in this country.)
Overall, what’s the impact of this propaganda on social media? In my view, it has made Facebook a far less interesting and a much more negative experience. Statuses used to be creative, witty and (sometimes) thought-provoking. However, lately I login and see the same hate-filled political rant shared by ten people (and it’s always the same people) followed by 15 people sharing the latest cat picture from George Takei. It’s perhaps no surprise that far fewer people are using Facebook these days.
Given that what happens in politics is far beyond our control, I can understand why people get upset when their party isn’t in the ascendency or when they realise a large proportion of the population does not share their opinions. As a libertarian, I don’t identify with any of the political parties in this country and I disagree with the vast majority of their policies. It’s extremely rare for me to even run across another libertarian. However, why rant about it on Facebook? Sharing nasty political insults or a link to an article from your favourite opinion columnist is not activism. The best solution is to find an outlet for your frustration: volunteer for a charity, donate some of your income to worthy causes or, god forbid, join a political party if you feel that strongly about it.
In my second year of highschool, my home-room class was filled with many of the popular kids. I knew I didn’t really belong but it never really bothered me and they were pretty accepting anyway.
Just before the winter holiday, one of guys came up to me and exclaimed “you’re going to get an exciting letter in the mail over the holiday!”. It took some digging to work out what he meant by this cryptic remark.
One of the girls in our class fitted the cheerleader stereotype in that she was tall, thin, tanned, had long blonde hair and wanted to save the whales. Of course, she was considered rather desirable by all of the popular guys. Apparently she had let slip to some of these boys that she had a crush on someone in our year. Convinced that they each were the chosen one, they had all hassled and pleaded with her to divulge the identity of her crush.
Hoping to stop their badgering, she initially said that she would write a letter to the object of her affections over the holiday break. However, when they continued to pester her, she told them that I would be the lucky recipient of the letter.
This seemed pretty odd to me. As I said, I didn’t really fit in with the cool kids since I was happier to read books than watch Neighbours and discuss and dissect it with my classmates the next day. Moreover I had never thought about her romantically before. Indeed, throughout most of those years of highschool I was preoccupied by the cute, willowy girl with copper-coloured short hair, pale skin and a freckled nose from another class (we eventually were boyfriend and girlfriend on and off for most of the next three years — but that’s another story). However, the more I thought about Miss Cheerleader, the more the thought of being her boyfriend became an appealing prospect to my naive 14 year old mind.
So, leading up to that holiday break, my mind went over what this letter might contain. My always-active imagination went over every possible word and phrase that she might use to express her undying love for me (and of course this imaginary letter grew more profound and eloquent with each re-imagining).
Over the holidays, I religiously walked to the letterbox each day to see if her letter had arrived. As each day passed, I felt a little more uneasy that it hadn’t appeared. Was there a problem with the post? Letters don’t just go missing, right? Maybe she didn’t have my address? (I double-checked the phonebook to make sure that our address was listed correctly. It was.) After two weeks of anticipation and mounting fear that something had gone wrong had passed, the letter had not arrived and we were all due back at school. “Finally”, I thought, “at least I might get some answers.”
As it turned out, Miss Cheerleader had written and sent that letter. However I wasn’t the intended recipient. Instead, she had expressed her romantic desires to someone else. He was one of the cool kids: athletic, well-built, tanned and good at both cricket and football. Apparently I was a diversion to get the boys off her back so she could get on with her letter-writing in peace.
Naturally I was pretty crushed by this. I didn’t particularly feel like talking about it and no-one seemed willing to commiserate either. In fact, most of the parties involved (those who told me of the rumour and Miss Cheerleader herself) didn’t even acknowledge to me that it had happened. The only consolation was the fact they broke up a few weeks later (my snide theory at the time was that Mr Football had quickly exhausted his conversational abilities and she grown tired of him).
Many years later, I recounted this incident to a close friend who said that it was a really cruel thing for Miss Cheerleader to do. Strangely, I hadn’t even thought about it in that light before and I had never been angry at her at all. Perhaps part of me wanted to think that it was all some kind of mistake or that the letter had been misdirected?
I was talking with an old friend and flatmate on skype earlier tonight. She has been living in London for many years now and we haven’t caught up in ages. She was having lunch at another old friend’s place (I think I have more friends in London these days than in Australia) and they decided to text me to see if I wanted to talk.
Anyway, she asked about what I was doing for work these days, so I told her I was working in my parents’ business for a few hours a day. Her response was “and what do you do for the rest of the time?”
Seriously, what a stupid question to ask someone with a long term chronic illness (even one that is improving albeit slowly). I wanted to say “wtf do you think I’m doing?” but, taken aback, all I could say was “recuperating”.
People shit me.
Two weeks ago, I was talking a relative about medical research. I mentioned that research into the biomedical causes of CFS (and subsequently possible treatment) gets virtually no public funding. Her response was “well, it’s not as urgent because people aren’t dying from CFS”.
Unfortunately the fact that CFS can kill you (sufferers die on average in their sixties from heart or organ failure) is not publicised or widely known. Alison Hunter died at the age of 19 in 1996, wrote this article titled Forget M.E. Not:
It never fails to make me cry.
Today my parents said a woman who had had CFS was being interviewed on the radio and asked me to listen in. Within a minute, the woman mentioned that she had indulged in “illness behaviour” and that when she had stopped this behaviour, she was much better.
The concept of “illness behaviour” is so damn offensive to people with CFS. It is an explanation for CFS that lacks common sense and decency and is used to justify despicable, unprofessional and ultimately harmful behaviour and attitudes towards people with a legitimate illness.
I was incredibly offended by this and lost my temper and stormed off. No doubt my parents thought I was upset with them. How can I explain any of this to people who don’t have CFS?
An old highschool girlfriend asked me to see Iron Man 3 with her last month. Not long into the movie, she laughed. Until that moment, I’d completely forgotten the sound of her laugh (she has a cute and distinctive giggle) but it sounded unchanged from over 20 years ago.
Hearing her laugh through the movie took me back to being 17 again. Back then, I had few adult responsibilities, no worries about the future, no health concerns and we both simply enjoyed sharing the company of another happy, optimistic, young person.