Omega and Alpha

Wow, I haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

So, this is 2020 thoughts, coronavirus, covid-19, quarantine musings. Because when you have a lot of time to do very little except spend it with yourself, you get to know yourself better and better.

I have, creatively (and perhaps emotionally, in some respects) an Alpha and an Omega. (I do not believe that this is true of everyone – I do not believe, for that matter, that I’ll still necessarily find this metaphor a useful one a week from now. But right here, right now, it works for me.)

The Alpha is the 1990 movie Pump Up The Volume, possessor of the greatest opening line of all time:

Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?

The Omega is the 1994 novel Only Forward, possessor of the greatest closing line of all time:

Everyone deserves a happy ending. Even me.

There is, obviously, more to both of these works than that, but these are the standout moments. They’re (respectively) the opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the closing cacophony of a A Day in the Life.

I’ve recently dug back into both works for the first time in a while, and found new things (and refound old things) and learned things about myself. Art is a mirror, but it shows different things from different angles. (And, to continue the metaphor, one of the figures generating that angle is time, or if you prefer, experience.) There’s so many things in each of them that resonate with me.

But taken together, they tell me this: I have forgotten myself. I am not sure that I can again find myself, but I am sure that I can build anew,and that, for now at least, that will do.

And the most way I want to do that is creatively. Is through building things in the world. Is through positive action. So. Projects.

Right now, there’s PROJECT JEAMLAND, which is coming together like, heh, a Jeam. As in it’s going better and faster than I could possibly have hoped. JEAMLAND is reasonably finite, which is nice, and I hope to have it all finished in a reasonably short amount of time. And after spending the last three days doing little else, planning to take a break from it tomorrow.

There’s PROJECT PERIANDER, which has taken a hit from the lockdown, but continues to move forward, just more slowly. (Probably just as well – there’s some aspects of it I’ve underthought so far.) PERIANDER divides neatly into phases, and there will likely be a lacuna of sorts between phase one and phase two, and not one dictated by me. Basically, there’s everything that can be done before reaching the starting line, but the starter’s gun is the end of lockdown.

There’s PROJECT GALEN, which is never-ending, but still, is chugging along in a way that makes me happy.

There’s the marathon projects, the ones in which, so long as I take a few steps forward each week, I’m okay with right now. (Not to say they might not leap up at some point, but not until I’ve cleared my plate of these other projects at least.)

There’s the research projects, where I’m basically still just occasionally filing notes into a folder, and are likely to stay that way until a critical mass gets reached. That said, these are projects for which I do anticipate that happening at some point, and even have a bit of a road map forward, just not one I’m hurrying to follow right now. For example, PROJECT PIPER, which I am currently putting together ideas for, but not actively working on until I’ve cleared JEAMLAND and PERIANDER from my schedule.

And finally, there’s the someday-maybe projects, which may or may not also be research projects, except that they’re not necessarily ever going to cross the threshold into being full on projects. Some of them are inchoate in the extreme, some of them are waiting for the stars to come right (which may never happen). Some of them are idle fancies that it amuses me to tinker with every so often. But you never know when one might suddenly take off.

Anyway, I’m tired of keeping quiet about all these things. I’m tired of being worried that I’ll look like a fool if I talk too much about them. I’d rather aim high and miss than throw away my shot.

So, from now, on this is going to be a weekly update, posted each Wesnesday. I’ll update you on my work and my week, and I’ll be a little less cagey about things as I go along – I might even explain what the project names mean if I’m feeling particularly expansive 🙂

See you next Wednesday.

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At His Trophy

Recently, Scott Morrison has been showing off his new office decor in all its colonialist glory. The man does love his Captain Cook memorabilia. Conspicuously missing from it was a piece that previously had pride of place. It was proudly displaying when he first took over as Prime Minister, but somehow, it seems to have gotten lost.

It’s this, of course:

This cheap piece of tat that he seemed inordinately proud of. But taking a closer look at it, certain things about this trophy reflect on the man himself. For instance:

He Bought It Himself
Otherwise, why else would it be written in first person?

He Either Bought It As Cheaply As Possible, or He Got Ripped Off
With all due respect to whoever actually made the trophy, it looks like the work experience kid knocked it out while everyone else was at lunch. How else to explain the text justification? I like to think that Scotty paid through the nose for it, because the trophy maker saw him coming, but then I realise that in all probability, Scott didn’t pay a cent for this: the taxpayer did.

He Takes Credit For The Work Of Others
Quick question: how do boats get stopped? Does it take (a) the coordination of hundreds, if not thousands, of naval personnel, intelligence agents, public servants, and police? Or (b) one narcissist in Canberra giving an order to his ministry? If you answered (a), congratulations, you see reality more clearly than Scott Morrison.

There’s No Proof It’s Accurate
Due to former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to discuss what he called “on water matters”, there is no way to prove that current Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim, as made on this trophy, is accurate. As with his assurances that he did, indeed, stop the boats (at least until it was politically convenient for them to start up again), we have to take his word for it.

And finally:

Based On All The Points I’ve Listed Above, This Is – At Best – A Participation Trophy
You know, the kind of thing that the parents of millenials insisted that their children be given, apparently so that later on, they could criticise those children for accepting them.

Our Prime Minister. How good is he?

“Something has gone horribly wrong…”

It’s just gone four in the morning as I type this, and in my home state of Victoria, there’s still ten seats left to call in the election – which doesn’t really matter because even if they won all ten of those seats (and that seems unlikely), the Coalition would still be another ten seats short of winning the election.

If you’re a member of the Liberal or National Parties, or a voter for either of them, it’s hard to disagree with the assessment of now-former Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto, that “something has gone horribly wrong” for the party. Because it truly has. This is one of the worst defeats that the Coalition has ever suffered in Victoria. Hell, it’s one of the worst defeats any party has suffered since Victoria became a state in 1901.

And yet…
Continue reading ““Something has gone horribly wrong…””

Coming up in 2018!

Just a brief sketch of my plans for the year:

First and foremost, and most obviously, I’ve just launched my first ever podcast, Set This House In Order (click on the green and gold square on the right for more details). One week in, and feeling pretty good so far.

I’m also in the process of remodelling my other website, The Centre Cannot Hold, and making it less of a blog, more of a traditional site. It’s slow going (there’s more than 3000 posts and pages to sort through), but it is coming along. (Click on the blue jigsaw piece design on the right to go there.)

Work continues on my other other site, Reading Orders, because the real difficulty with creating reading orders for pop culture is that people don’t stop making it. (Click on the purple square to the right to go there.)

My next big project is going to be another podcast, called Look Back In Wonder, in which I plan to interview people about their favourite David Bowie songs. If that’s something you’d be interested in, drop me a line – I’m happy to interview just about anyone for this.

There will probably be some other projects along the way, but that’s definitely enough to keep me going for now 🙂

Why a “No” vote isn’t even a “No” vote

I understand that you might want to vote No in Australia’s rapidly-approaching postal survey about whether or not we should stop treating our gay and lesbian fellows as second-class citizens. I disagree with you, but it’s your right to do it. I won’t stop you.

I will, however, point out that your No vote isn’t really a No vote.

It won’t settle this issue once and for all, and if you believe it will, you’ve read too much propaganda about the namby-pamby Lefties. If the result of this vote in No, it won’t change a thing for the Left. We won’t stop fighting until we win this fight, and a decade after we’ve won, even you will wonder what all the fuss was about. The fuss you made – but I digress.

This survey is not really a question of if. It’s a question of when.

Your No vote is, at most, a Not Yet vote. That’s all.

That’s as much as you can hope to achieve by voting No.

Not an end to homosexuality, not a guarantee of the primacy of the Christian churches, not an end to the ever-growing societal acceptance of homosexuality – simply a delay in the recognition that we are all human and all deserve the same rights. Just a delay.

The ALP is already on record as saying that they will legislate for Marriage Equality in the first hundred days after they’re elected, and you know that the Greens will vote with them on this, so it will sail through both houses – which means that, at most, it’s about two years away (unless the LNP starts to perform markedly better than they have since winning office in 2013, and really, what are the chances of that?).

You can delay it, but you can’t stop it. And really, what does the additional delay gain you? Seriously. I want to know. What measurable, concrete benefit do you derive from it? Because I can’t think of anything, and I’ve tried. I’ve also read a lot of the No side’s arguments, and it’s pretty obvious that no one much on that side can list any either.

So vote Yes. Vote to bring the future into the present. Vote to recognise and celebrate our common humanity:

Vote Yes

Why is your crap in “My Documents”?

I’ve just been trying to get my documents folder organised. I have a bad habit of just dumping things in there – little snippets of txt files, longer doc files, even the odd spreadsheet or presentation – at the topmost level and not giving them another thought. Which is fine and dandy, until the volume of stuff gets too high to easily find things.

So I start creating directories to put things in, and before long, there’s a hierarchical tree structure that makes some sort of sense, at least to me.

But there’s also a bunch of random crap also sitting there, in smug little directories of its own, jostling for position and serving as an unnecessary distraction. You know the kind of things I mean. The folder labelled “Custom Office Templates” that Windows puts there, despite the fact that the standard templates are stored with the Office apps that use them. The “Saved Games” folders that Steam and GOG and apparently every game designer thinks are better placed in the Documents folder than stored under their applications – which also tends to mean that they don’t get deleted if you uninstall the game, just to really rub it in.

Coders, programmers, console cowboys, keyboard jockeys, whatever the hell you’re calling yourselves this week, I would like to make a request of you. I want you, before you set a default saving location, to ask yourself one simple question:

Is the file I intend to have saved here actually any sort of Document?

Because if not, it doesn’t belong in the My Documents folder. It’s really not that hard.

And don’t weasel – you know what a document is in this context, and if you’re honest, you find this just as annoying as the rest of us. Although perhaps not quite as annoying as this guy or this other guy do.

Hell, at this point, it’s such a rare thing to do that you could probably advertise it as a selling point of whatever it is you’re selling. At very least, it’d be a feature, not the bug we currently have.

My First Podcast: “Look Back In Wonder”

This is actually kinda funny. After noodling around with what I wanted to do podcast-wise, and even announcing here a while back that I had three different podcasts in mind, it turns out that the first cab off the rank is going to be a different one entirely. This is it:

Look Back in Wonder is a song by song journey through the back catalogue of David Bowie. In each episode, I’ll interview someone about the Bowie song that means the most to them. The people I interview will come from all walks of life, united by our common love of Bowie.

So I need your help for this. If you have a story you want to share about a Bowie song and what it means to you, get in touch. Email me here to let me know what song you’d like to talk about. If we can at all make the scheduling work, I’d be happy to talk to you. (I live in Melbourne, Australia, so if you do too, we can probably do this in person. If not, well there’s always Skype and such.)

What’s coming up

I have a variety of plans, and the point of this site is to tell you about them, so maybe it’s time I did that. I have a variety of balls that I’m currently juggling, and here’s a list of them:

Websites

Aside from this site, I have two others – The Centre Cannot Hold and Reading Orders (plus a third one that’s getting near a launch) – aside from this one. Both of these are getting worked on and having new material added to them at least once a week.

Podcasts

I’m in the process of setting up a bunch of podcasts, with two taking primacy at the moment. (There are two others, but one is research heavy and the other is vastly more ambitious, and thus, they’ll be along later.) More news on that as we get closer to launching.

Apps

I’m currently in the process of building my first app, and once that’s completed, I have ideas for more of them. Again, more news on these as it comes to hand.

Writing

I am working on some writing projects with various people at the moment, but all of these are longer term projects at the moment – although I’ll probably push one of them closer to launch when I finish the app, and then go on alternating between them as I go forward. And yes, more news as launches draw closer.

That’s my 2017 as it stands at the moment, although it’s possible that some or all of these projects will be delayed by contract work, because I often need to prioritise short term income over long term income. But these jobs are almost always short term in nature, and I’ll always be returning to the projects listed here.

Stay Angry

One to ponder, on this Day of Australia and Invasion and Survival (and Rum Rebellion Anniversary):

Have you ever been on the phone to some poor call centre drone, trying to get someone to hear your complaint, only to have them tell you to calm down? Or even hang up on you, if you should – heaven forbid! – dare to swear in the course of expressing your feelings?

Sucked, didn’t it?

It’s a neat little trick, the way that we’ve all been convinced that whatever point we’re making is instantly delegitimised if we should commit the simple human error of being angry while we make it. (Unless we’re a member of the current federal government, apparently. They seem to be able to spew hateful bile without any consideration.)

Never mind that there’s nothing like being told to calm down to get anyone’s hackles up. Never mind that it’s not like the people actually responsible are even going to hear our complaints – one of the major reasons why call centres are so popular with companies and government agencies is that they insulate those in power from our complaints. From our anger.

Hell, complain too often, and you’re just a crank who can be ignored entirely, all your anger delegitimised because what reason is there to complain?

(While we’re talking about it: be nice to the people in the call centres, because their only sin is wanting a job. Don’t take out your anger on them unless it is truly deserved by them. Instead, try asking for their help with making your complaint, because you’ll be surprised at how many of them are ready, willing and able to help you stick it to their bosses – and know how to aim your complaints better than you do.)

So the next time you hear someone making a fuss about something that seems like a non issue to you, don’t tell them to be quiet, or nice, or polite about it. Remember all those times someone told you that, and how it made you feel.

All those people out there who are telling you to wait, to be calm, that the time is not yet ripe…

…they are either your masters or the sheep who serve them.

Everyone who says that gay people in Australia need to wait just a little bit longer to be able to marry; that racism would end of only indigenous Australians should stop making such a fuss about it; that Australia’s women should wait until men are ready to let them be equal…

…to blazes with their calm downs.

Apologise for your word choices if you must, apologise if you manner frightens people, sure.

But never apologise for an anger against injustice. Never.