The Colosseum

One of the reasons why our holiday this year is in Europe was because of me. Italy’s always held a special allure, and with European travel (potentially) becoming a bit of a minefield starting next year (cheers Brexit) it seemed like a good idea to push for this trip before that happened. The fact Rome became a Bond location in SPECTRE is an added bonus (*cough* Florence and Lake Como on the way back *cough*) but this belittles a very important part of my real reasoning for being here. I’m a massive history nut, and the home of the Roman Empire’s been on the To Do list since I first learnt what a Gladiator was, and we’re not talking about the spandex clad athletes on ITV who used to battle with giant cotton buds.

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Our farmhouse is on the end of the Metro line which deposits tourists literally outside the front door: this was Nero’s grand plan, to transform the existing structure on the site to a massive stadium. Begun in AD 69, it became the Empire’s centre for entertainment and spectacle and, most importantly, one of the most famous examples of religious persecution in History. For a city that remains deeply Christian, this serves as the permanent reminder of how intolerance must take place for acceptance to flourish. I’ve never been religious but the multiple significances at play continue to fuel interesting and challenging moral dilemma.

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It is also a RIDICULOUSLY photogenic landmark, which has detail and depth that I suspect most tourists don’t even consider. The regulation in brickwork is frankly staggering, and the skill in construction means that it has survived several major earthquakes (and attempts to recycle its structure) to surprising effect. I will be poring over the books I’ve bought in the next few weeks, and the pictures taken are more than likely to end up in a collage in my working space at home. The place is a testament not only to the people who built the structure, but those who perished within it for their beliefs. This was entertainment, pure and simple, and there are still parallels we can draw from within the walls that mirror our own modern existence.

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There are those who will maintain that history is only useful if it provides the means to make good the mistakes that took place, but monuments like this are the exception to that rule. Here is a structure that mirrors the continuation of religious persecution for entertainment: these guys stuck believers in with lions, we vilify opposition via a global arena. When all is said and done, very little has changed in 2000 years. This monument however has survived attempts to destroy it, reminding us that sometimes, it isn’t about the memories of a place, but the place itself which defines an experience.

Once we’d done here, it was time for a change of clothes and then off to the institution that grew from their humble beginnings as cat-food to utterly dominate the same city that once considered them as heretics…

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Last night’s dream was good enough for the Twitters:

It also marks the first time I’ve been able to keep the dream running in my mind whilst aware and at least semi conscious and return to it for a conclusion. I take this as a really good sign that the brainmeats are functioning at optimum capacity, and although I may have trouble stringing sentences together without at least three cups of tea, the subconscious is sorted.

ON WITH THE DAY.

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 —>

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On Saturday, it became apparent that one of my vanity e-mail addresses had stopped working. There may have been some quite important email that has vanished, but I will never really know the cost, and it is far too late to worry. What this prompted was a long, hard look at what happens to my email and what is merited as ‘important’. It transpires I have ten e-mail addresses, gathered across the years. At no point have I ever deleted a message on at least three of them.

The rest of the day was spent sorting out the chaos that lack of activity had produced.

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In the end, 25,000 messages were trashed. This includes mails sent when my first ever Gmail account was created, back in 2005. The vast bulk of rubbish was acknowledgements from sites such as Twitter, or online forum which I belonged to, that simply never got dealt with at the time. It took a couple of hours, but the effort was more than worthwhile, and it allowed me to see exactly what account was getting what trash mail. The long-term benefit is that the actual volume of mail into my Mac (which collects from all the Gmail accounts and the vanity domain addresses) has been reduced by over 80%. Using the GDPR fiasco to unsubscribe from multiple newsletters and online gumph that’s no longer needed, it’s like the last thirteen years of bollocks into my Inbox never existed.

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Needless to say, it’s a little embarrassing that it took my own stupidity to kick-start the action, but now that’s done, there is no going back. The sense of satisfaction and general organisation cannot be adequately overstated, either.

Like so many things, this should have been done years ago.

We Used To Be Friends

Yesterday, half a conversation arrived on my Timeline. It happens a lot less than was once the case, but with the overlap that (inevitably) occurs in a large group of like-minded individuals, there is an inevitability that eventually, someone who’s blocked me appears. I know the reason for most of them and continue to be impressed at the level of loyalty certain people create with their friends’ groups. I’m not sure I’d ever want anyone to close ranks like that for me if I’m honest. However, I think maybe I ought to start blocking back the people who’ve removed me from their lives.

Interestingly I discovered yesterday you can’t find who’s blocked you using the API. Twitter won’t allow that information to be discovered, despite what some online tools might suggest. Therefore it’s a process of waiting until someone pops up in my Timeline who has imported a particular person’s block list and then returning the favour. Yeah, it’s petty and largely depressing, but what can you do when people treat this medium not as a platform for change but the lunch room in High School.

It was also incidents like this that kept me from moving my life forward for a while, that obsession with feeling confident with myself that eventually had me annotating other people’s emails as if to justify actions were correct. I’ve  not stopped making mistakes since that point, it isn’t as if I’m not able to improve on how my life works after criticism. The prioritisation has altered, and (as should be the case) my focus has shifted to things that can be fixed, and people who will listen. If it is obvious that’s not the case, there are better things to do with my time.

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When I wrote down this topic yesterday I also added a line of secondary thought: if you write this, someone will assume you’re talking about them. This happened the last time I did a post like this, and it (for a while) dissuaded me from making such observations. The people who blocked me stopped caring about my words a long time ago, but I am still thinking about them. I remember the positive conversations we had, and then (undoubtedly) I said something which I can 100% guarantee wasn’t meant as an insult or abuse. It wasn’t posted in an attempt to offend them. However, that was what happened, and then it was Game Over.

I’m the one who needs to learn the lesson. Stop caring about people you’ve never met. Stop feeling you have an affinity with strangers because everybody on the Internet is evil and out to destroy your life. EXCEPT I DON’T WANT TO. I want to believe people can be decent and caring, and understand me. I want to experience the pain of loss and regret because that is how it feels to be alive. I absolutely do NOT want to spend my time with those who live in a sanitised, manufactured reality with no actual relevance to anywhere else. If that makes me unpopular and contentious, SO MUCH THE BETTER.

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If you block me from here on in, I don’t want you reading my stuff either, in any form, so I’ll be happy to return the favour. The truth is, of course, that you don’t have me blocked on that other account and I could still read those Tweets regardless, but I get how stalking works and no, you’re safe. The only surefire way you stop people consuming content is to go private, but that inevitably destroys the social part of the media anyway. The lesson everybody has to take from this is that if you want to play with the big boys, everything’s a potential argument, and you just take your chances regardless.

The online relationships never end, even though you’d sometimes wish they would.

Everybody Hurts

There was that moment, a few years ago, when I got into a fight with someone on my feed about the way I conduct my business. On reflection, I probably wrote about it at the time, and if you were that obsessive about it could go back and find details. That was the first time I heard myself referred to as passive aggressive. I’d say it’s a quite prominent character fault, which is normally kept under control. The Internet however has a way of making me want to be like this, because it is full of people who don’t think but assume that the World revolves around them, which most clearly doesn’t.

Today however it is the scales and my legs making me all ‘come at me, bro.’ I don’t have an issue with the weight situation, on reflection. I know how to make it all stop and go backwards, just have to find the self-control to make that happen. Similarly, my legs went to failure yesterday (again) and yet I get how much stronger the lower half of my body now is. All the various areas of balance that need to be first attained and then maintained can be frankly quite nauseating, especially if you end up having to do several of them at once. Social media becomes a hindrance, after a while, if you’re forced to deal with stupid without a filter.

Someone I greatly respect posted something yesterday that really was quite offensive, in a certain light. It was obviously a joke, which I get, but I did sit and do the WTF Face that now seems to accompany an awful lot of my online existence. It is the same face that stops whenever a guy gets upset at a woman reacting to something that has been normal  behaviour for decades, but only now is becoming socially unacceptable. ‘But what about our feelings?’ they cry, not really grasping that by everybody suppressing the true realities of existence, the whole World ends up getting fucked over eventually.

Then there’s the person on my Twitter feed that very rarely (if at all) converses with me who regards Social media as a diary: whenever something happens to destabilise their existence, they then use their feed in search of love and reassurance. I’d never really considered the safety blanket uses that Facebook and Twitter have, and will VERY RARELY do so myself. However, as that happened this week there’s reason to pause for thought and ask myself the question. If people really matter to you enough to complain about only when they don’t talk to you, who is really at fault? Who is hurting here, the person not getting the attention they crave, or the person who’s happy there’s no conversation at all?

If the answer to all of these issues is truly dialogue, then stating your intentions must start being the norm. So what if you think I’m being pushy and arrogant when I do that. If that’s the case, we’re not friends to begin with. Respect (surely) must dictate that to understand how someone else feels, you listen first. After that, if you don’t like what you heard there’s the choice to politely object or offer a counter argument, or simply fuck off. This is not rocket science, so why is it that I know I can’t unfollow certain people because of the emotional fallout that would result? Am I being too kind, or not hard enough…?

Passive aggressive behaviour is, let’s be honest, the least of my worries.

I use my daily writing as means to sort all this shit out, but this never avoids the drama. Whatever happens, people will pick certain hills to die on and if that happens to be your desire to impose rules, you gotta take the flack when it hits. The trick, I think, is to make it all a learning experience, and grasp it is a fool who believes that their life when involved on the Internet will ever be drama free if they wish to live as they please.

All you can do is think, post, and hope you did a decent job.

Sunrise

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Stuff has changed. You’ve not seen all of it yet, but trust me when I say to you that it has. The depth of that shift will slowly begin to show.

Let’s begin.


There’s been much excitement in this house over Christmas thanks to Netflix, and the Amazon Fire stick we’ve had for a year and hardly ever used. I have a fair amount of Netflix content I wanna work through (and I will) but for now, you need to have the Amazon service enabled to truly appreciate the horror I am about to share. Well, that’s not strictly fair, because… well, you’ll see.

Welcome, one and all, to Kitten TV.

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If you are familiar with the movie Scrooged, you’ll know there’s a point where rodents appear in Bill Murray’s seasonal adaptation of Dickens’ TV adaptation in attempt to get dogs and cats to engage. Well, this series of six shows does the about face, using kittens as a means to hook a generation of people (presumably) addicted to cute kitten videos and GIFs via the Internets. The concept’s ridiculously simple: build a set with a perspex fourth wall, drop a load of kittens into it, comedy ensues. There’s a Minecraft set, and an entire episode dedicated to cats in hats. I kid you not.

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Back in the 1990’s, in the early years of satellite TV in the UK, there was a TV channel up in the 300’s that showed nothing but a roaring fire overnight. There was another channel that just showed beaches and boardwalks. This is no different, in effect, to the years when TV didn’t happen 24/7 and there’d be Public Information films to fill the gaps. Back when BBC2 tested colour movies, I can remember watching slices of history that are now so jaded and bizarre they feel like a dream, or part of the past that simply never existed. Fortunately, the Internet’s beginning to fill in these gaps, and the movies of my past can still be a part of the present.

Having found a list of the BBC2 colour test movies, I’ll be spending the next month sharing with you guys (via the @internetofWords Twitter feed) the joy of a world I was shown on screen during my formative years. Like my 12 year old daughter will undoubtedly remember the happy evening she spent watching kittens get bored and roam Godzilla-like across cheap cardboard sets, these memories are an essential part of the process of learning and understanding. Yes, kittens are relevant.

TV does not just have to be about the depressing things in life.