Personal Jesus

Here we are, at the start of a new week: already, there is a feeling of cautious optimism. There is a list of stuff I’d like to do before bedtime. That’s it. No stressing or forcing. Before arriving here there was some progress on written projects, a plan for today’s scheduled work and how I knock off the last two pieces of backlog. Arguto gets some love today. However, that’s not what I’m here for. Today, I want to talk about guilt.

Every so often you’ll see someone who’s catapulted to prominence have a hater go digging back though their tweets to find summat to smear them with. With over 200k’s worth of stuff to my name, that’s gonna be a fun ask when the time comes… but yeah, there’s probably a lot of regrettable stuff buried in all of this. In fact, should it ever come down to that situation, that might be the moment to start again. If you want to know after that, go look in the Library of Congress. They’ll have it all saved regardless.

Then I look at this, the story of a woman who has made her name attacking people and things she does not like in public, and increasingly finding that those actions damage her own existence, to the point where she’s now personally in financial trouble. I’m not sure if the fact her kids are protected from her shortcomings is really a redeeming action, and I certainly don’t possess Jack Monroe’s generosity of spirit. This is the perfect example of ‘actions have consequences’ and the warning anyone in the public eye should be using to think twice before ANYTHING stupid gets tweeted in anger.

So, does anybody really learn from Social media? It is hard to believe that’s the case when certain individuals continue to tweet hate-filled diatribes. Those who go to the other extreme and want only love and compassion might also find themselves in a bit of hot water if they’re not 100% watertight on the persona. That’s the thing with an abundance of data: at some point, somebody will test the waters. Spotify is the latest online giant being questioned by the media but honestly, wherever your data is shared, this is now a very real possibility.

There’s an answer, of course, to all of this. Just be yourself, and be honest. If yourself is decent, mostly fair and tries to be kind as often as possible? Really, not an issue. If you’re a racist xenophobe, well that could still be mostly okay because there’s 40% of the UK right up there with you. At least you won’t feel alone, but there MIGHT come a moment where you end up being challenged on those beliefs, and you never know. That could cost you a job too.

Some days, personal shortcomings are the least of your problems.

Your Cheating Heart

The national side progressed easily into the last sixteen of the World Cup last night, but they didn’t do it properly. There were no magnificent scenes of victory. Nobody punched the air, except the Belgiums. A newspaper this morning calls this a ‘basic misreading of hypotheticals’ like that phrase means anything to begin with. A manager, for the first time ever, looked at the game after the one they’d be playing and made decisions based on a long-term outlook. Football fans can’t look past the next game, we all know that. If you’re not living in the moment, you’re dead inside.

There is a fundamental problem here that needs to be addressed.

I had a conversation with my daughter on the way to school this morning about how the fine art of thinking about shit is being lost. In the clamour to be noticed in a World that increasingly values the cheap gag or the funny meme above actual facts and logic, a valuable resource is being squandered. My opinion on last night’s game is valid, but as I am not Gareth Southgate how the fuck do I know what his plan is? I have no right to question his tactical decision making now, I don’t get paid to be England manager, yet millions of fans like me feel they somehow now have a voice, because Social media gives them a stage. We stop thinking, and start ranting, and then everything goes Pete Tong.

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Some would argue it is just easier to get other people to think for you. That’s why we have websites like comparethemeerkat.com, who use SCIENCE to tell you that you can save money and feel awesome (no hang on, that’s the other lot). Except, if all you do is compare figures and don’t look at the ethical backgrounds of companies, is this saving worth the effort? So what if I can recoup £1000 a year? There are far better financial decisions to be made than this that most people don’t want to think about because they won’t consider their own unique circumstances. Having a website tell you to save is all well and good, listening to an ‘expert’ pontificate on what’s best is great… but what if that advice is potentially more harmful than good…?

I didn’t know the possible consequences of a Keto diet when I began it, until my gallbladder finally gave up the ghost and I was forced into surgery to remove it. When I watch people expound on my Social media of the benefits of fat bombs, there’s still a chill that runs through me. My body could have given up at any point, but had I taken better steps to read through possible consequences, a lot of fear and heartache might yet have been avoided. When someone else tells you X has changed their life, just blindly copying them may have its own consequences to shoulder. Thinking through options remains a better bet than simply chopping and changing when someone else tells you ‘this is a good idea.’

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As less people think and just do whatever the fuck they want, the danger of disaster becomes all the more apparent. Handing over decision making to automation will not give us an easier life if our ability to think independently and critically is compromised. Giving people platforms to pronounce opinion has always been fraught with potential disaster, but if these people simply spew hate and anger from LEFT AND RIGHT, nobody wins. Sure, you can get angry, but if you let your hatred colour and pollute everything? There will be consequences.

It is then that we all need someone to cut through the bullshit and say the things we’re all too scared to speak aloud.

Lots of you people genuinely frighten me. If you don’t think Piers Morgan’s a twat, it’s also highly unlikely we’ll have much to say of any value to each other.

The exit is that way —>

If Not for You

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I would struggle, in my group of friends, to find anybody who considers that the current President of the United States is either a) a good man or b) good at his job. This is not a blog post about what is, however. This appeared from the ‘alternate history’ part of my brain a while back, and I feel bears repeating to a wider audience. Even if you live in the world where the Orange Twat can do no wrong, it is undoubtedly the case that his arrival in the White House has caused other things to take place, a lot of them inherently positive long term.

The question I want to ask therefore is this: would the following have happened if the Democrats had won in the US, or is it Trump’s arrival that has caused their exposure to be unavoidable?

    1. Would #MeToo have come to pass in a Clinton Administration? 

      I’ve given this a considerable amount of thought in the last couple of weeks, and it is a tricky subject to balance internally. In the UK, it was a year after the death of Jimmy Saville in 2011, when an ITV documentary exposed his predatory sexual behaviour, before this previously taboo subject became all that the media was interested in for some time. The number of known US offenders that remained untouched by prosecution at that time remained significant. There was insufficient momentum to carry the movement forward, and not enough popular support to overturn the distractive power of money and influence.

      When Rose McGowan took Tarana Burke’s hashtag and changed the entire landscape of US acting, she did so as a direct response to one man who, it transpires, had condemned many women’s careers. That man, yet again, is not an exception in the landscape of entertainment, far from it. However, culture values and ideals in the US were, before October 2017, shielding him from prosecution. It is the same outlook that Trump himself extolled in the famous ‘grab her by the pussy’ video that (presumably) was leaked before the 2016 election in an attempt to derail his path to the White House.

      I have to wonder whether these accusations would have seen the light of day if sexist and misogynist behaviour had not become so critically and commercially unpalatable as is now undoubtedly the case. Would a movie like Wonder Woman have succeeded so strongly were women not looking for strong, powerful role models to inspire not only themselves but the next generation of women? Was the time simply right, or did the placement of a man who advocates treating women as objects shine a light on the inherently unacceptable practice?

    2. Would Climate Change be so significant were not for Trump denying its existence? 

      This issue is less black and white in my mind, but all the more significant. Climate change is not going away but by the Republicans’ decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord… well, it’s like the American’s have effectively wiped their hands of their part in condemning the rest of the World to a slow, painful death. I suspect that had the Democrats come into power it would be less of a story, however, and that’s probably a bigger issue.

      Trying to pretend that something does not exist is a sure fire way of making you look stupid. It doesn’t just make the President seem like a twat, that then reflects badly on the entire country when the rest of the World is aware there’s a problem, except the elderly bloke in charge isn’t listening. It is particularly galling when the organisations set up to help monitor and preserve what’s left of the World that’s not been royally fucked are effectively stripped of power and, in some cases, rendered obsolete.Climate change doesn’t go away unless EVERYBODY pulls their weight. I don’t think Trump gets the blame here, but he’s certainly not helping.

    3. Would North and South Korea be talking to each other were it not for the President’s actions? 

      This is my favourite piece of Alternate History, playing out right here. There’s Russia over there declaring it has nuclear missiles that it could target anywhere in the World but there’s more concern in the Far East over what North Korea might be about to throw into the mix as an emergent Nuclear power. Considering how close they are to the Chinese? Yeah, there’s substance to that concern.

      Trump’s actions, especially via Social media, could easily be seen as a reason why the two countries have decided to start talking to each other again and not to the West. After all that détente at the Winter Olympics, and the charm offensive the North waged (and largely won) with the South, popular opinion on the ground is going to matter a lot more than the rhetoric of Washington. The question remains: would it have happened were it not for a man with a Twitter app on the other side of the World dictating policy in 280 character bursts?

      Personally, I think in this case Trump’s actions caused the consequences we’re seeing play out. Whether that’s true, and what the larger consequences will be regardless, are probably the most concerning aspect for me in this whole thought exercise.


    As someone who spends a lot of time considering ‘what if’ in fictional circumstances, playing the game in the Real World is often a quite frightening reminder of how close we sail to complete destruction as a race. These problems aren’t going to go away, and regardless of who remains in power it is up to us to try and find practical solutions that begin in our everyday lives, and in the ways we interact with others.

    What needs to happen is more thought and not less.

Ariel

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Whilst on holiday, we had breakfast in the ‘family pub/restaurant’ next to our budget hotel. The deal was very simple: £X for each person, pick a table, then effectively all you can eat until mealtime was over. This concept is brilliant for large families, and clearly relies on at least some people paying for breakfast via their hotel stay and not taking it. However, this restaurant also allowed anyone not at the Hotel to eat as they wished, and that meant on Monday that there was total and utter chaos for the entire time we were there. An awful lot of people ‘played’ this system, as I watched from our spot next to the food.

I spied one young girl, from the large family who’d walked in and taken over two tables, manage to get four separate serving staff to provide her with the same combination of packet breakfasts and juice boxes, which were all then squirrelled away with efficiency. To the two who were generous and provided double I am impressed, because under those circumstances there is no obligation to offer anything extra at all. From the napkins full of patisserie to the mum telling everyone that they won’t eat again until dinner, everybody had a reason for making the most of what was on offer.

It gave considerable pause for thought.

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Nobody should go without a decent meal, ever. Feeding everyone is a contentious topic in this Western country of ours, and it shouldn’t be, but the fact remains that both adults and kids current go hungry in the UK thanks to the belief that money matters more than humanity. It’s why I’ve felt chastened since Monday, that I can’t change the world, and that I shudder at what other people left uneaten on plates, that portion control is something only a few seem to grasp or adhere to. It has made me determined to think harder about the actual problems the World faces going forward and not bury my head in the sand. Food is a basic right, and yet many people simply don’t consider it as anything other than a consumable.

How this plays out for me is simple: less waste, more thought on choices, less impulse buying. The local supermarket runs a Food bank scheme which I’m going to make sure I contribute to every month. No, I’m hardly going to change the world with my actions but if everybody stopped and thought about the food on their plate, things might. It is tough to change yourself, but this is as important as helping other people or considering positive action to help improve the World around you. It is no different than picking up rubbish or looking out for neighbours.

We should stop assuming that everything is somebody else’s problem and not ours.

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There is a lot to think about going forward, and a belief that if I am truly going to reinvent myself, learning to write better is only part of that equation. It is as much about becoming a more useful member of society than any measure of personal attainment.

The future should not be me, but us.

Hope for the Future

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I didn’t get my mentorship. It wasn’t a surprise. In good news, they sent the e-mail nice and early, so I didn’t have to stress about it all day. Not that I would have, of course, because I already know how this is going to pan out.


What mattered more this morning was bettering my own standard.

I woke up at 7am with a mission.

I’d written an essay for today’s Internet of Words site that, frankly, I was less than enamoured with, far too similar in tone and outlook to the one produced a week before. I realise now that what works best in my four week format is a general essay on the book, and then a more detailed assessment of a portion of the subject matter, but seen through a wider lens. I have tried since the weekend to get a handle on what that view would encapsulate, and yesterday morning it came to me: time travel. So this morning I’ve taken a day’s worth of notes and a week’s worth of general research and produced something new pretty much from scratch. I’ve yet to do my re-read but honestly, I already know it is 1000% better than what I started with.

Today therefore is a resounding success, because I didn’t just stick with what was good. I created something better.


don'fuckthisupdaniel

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Talking of creating something better… Bond 25 had better not be Diamonds are Forever or Die Another Day.

PLEASE DON’T FUCK THIS UP, SQUIRE.


Last night, the Real World crashed the party on Social media, and today lots of people will be REALLY cross. Be nice, and accommodate discussion. If your mental health won’t support remaining in public places, leaving’s perfectly fine. There’s plenty of us left to give the alt right, extremists and anyone else with stupidity running through their veins a run for their money. A smart person might even consider capitalising on current events.

I think I’d pay good money to see that happen.

Little Things

Okay, lot to tear through today, let’s get to it.

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Thing #1. You people over there trying to pretend that the World isn’t going to shit, and that if you just ignore all this trauma it’ll just go away. Don’t you DARE start lecturing me. You tried that once before, remember, and look what happened then. I don’t need people trying to be ineffective and woolly right now. What is craved more than anything else is positive, affirmative action. Also, don’t be the person who tries to start a fight about something you know full well will set fire to me or my timeline. Have some fucking compassion, why don’t you. However, to the friend today who declared they were deleting Twitter because they couldn’t cope? You go right ahead. I absolutely do not blame you one iota for just walking away. In fact, I can see more people doing the same.

I’m sorry if I’ve driven people away too, and I know this has happened in places, but I can’t just stand by and say nothing or pretend this isn’t happening. I have to react to it. People need to deal with Extreme Twattery in their own way. This is my way.

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Thing #2. If you wanna make me feel better? You don’t tell me to shut up. You most DEFINITELY have no right to inform me of facts that I know are patently untrue. What I need right now are friends that are there for me, and don’t fuck off as soon as things get a bit difficult. Who gave you the right to start imposing YOUR rules on this shit show and that I should be following them because it will make things better? The only way this gets better is when I see someone else in Number 10 and the Americans find someone with a fucking spine to impeach the Orange Twat, because THEN you will take out the real troublemakers. Hey, you keep telling me what a horrible alternative Pence is as President but trust me, next to Bannon he’s a fucking saint.

Right now, I have enough shit to wade through without you adding any more. Maybe next time you dump all your issues on me and I tell you I’m not getting involved, you’ll actually listen.

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Thing #3. My weight hasn’t changed since last week. I’ve been working non-stop. There are no let ups and no cake days and in fact no bad shit AT ALL. Honestly, I even went up by 0.1 of a kilo :( There may have been tears, but it wasn’t because of my lack of progress, because if I took pictures now of myself without clothes I wouldn’t recognise myself. My arms are like, COMPLETELY different. Massively huge. My waist is becoming more defined with each session. I can run faster and further, for longer. I feel more energised after every gym trip, and the cold that my son tried to pass onto me has pretty much bounced right off my body. The sadness is that what I want I can’t get. However, when I weigh it up against everything I have?

It is time to finally forget the weight goal. Once and for all, it does not matter. What I have now is a better, stronger me. That matters far more than a statistic, and that’s what will matter most going forward.

One Week

God, what happened?

There was always the potential of a train wreck, but I doubt ANYBODY thought a week ago they’d wake up this morning to pictures of Lawyers waiting for flights so they could offer their services to US citizens who overnight had become the enemy. No-one anticipated Canada would welcome Asylum seekers with US passports. Most of us never considered the possibility that less than ten days after the Orange Twat came to power, there’d be a petition on the UK Government website wanting to ban him *for a second time* from the UK because a state visit would be an embarrassment for the Queen.

This petition will top half a million signatures by teatime at the current rate of uptake. However, some people have no idea there’s a problem. Many, many people do not see the issues at play here: not because they’re ignorant or stupid, or indeed because they don’t care. Half the planet lives in ignorance of all of this, and most don’t do so by choice. They are more concerned with a meal and a roof over their heads. Internet for them is a luxury that is largely irrelevant if you’re unlikely to live to see the end of the day. We are, like it or not, an entitled bunch of whiny, self absorbed wankers.

This afternoon I had a discussion with someone who told me, in all seriousness, I should advocate the banning of the BBC. On any other day this would have been an interesting discussion to have, but I hate to break it to those people not paying attention that there are more important things to try and get stopped, banned, revoked and removed than an institution that does a phenomenal amount of good amongst legitimate claims of bias and self interest. Yeah, no massive corporation is perfect, this is hardly news. However when you realise that in many countries without our level of opulence the BBC is often the only uncensored or ‘independent’ reporting some people get, and even if you think it’s biased, marxist crap it’s still news. Not everything is a conspiracy when you’re unable to read or write, or don’t have a home that’s your own. Still, people peddle their own agendas without a grasp of the wider world. What we need is MORE objectivity, new reporting mediums, more feedback and not to ban or remove ANYONE who’s trying to educate or inform. We even need the enemy to keep feeding us their crap, so that eventually it can be swept aside in a tide of revolution.

I’ve seen inspiration in a lot of places this week. Good people, doing their jobs. My legal friends have gone silent on Twitter and I hope this means they too are out there at an airport somewhere, pro-bono-ing for all they are worth. Someone asked how you help people in the US right now and all we have effectively is ourselves to offer as raw materials. That means this week I listen to anyone who needs it. I can be a sympathetic ear, or offer words of comfort. I can write blog posts to show that even in the face of overriding terror and disbelief for many, there is always hope if you don’t shut out all of the possibilities. That means you read the stories but you don’t take them as truth until they are proved. You learn to do research. You check people’s Twitter profiles for who they are and and then question why they are saying what they do. You don’t shut out the BBC because they’re marxist, or Fox because they’re fascist, because there is the potential for BOTH to teach you something. You learn to adapt, your skin hardens, and you never forget how fucking lucky you are to have the Internet to begin with.

These are dark days for many people. However, if we all stick together and help each other, we will get through this, and it will be okay. 2016 will be remembered as a brilliant year, the time when all we did was celebrate the lives of good people who left us, and had fun with stupidity that was presented because we didn’t have a fascist madman or genuine threats to world peace to defeat. Nobody expected what happened, and maybe that’s our bigger lesson to learn. Now we’re all in this pit?

Time to start planning our escape.