Ignominious rescue

So… my grocery shop trip by bicycle (see previous post) was largely a disaster and I had to be rescued by my wife. But I did learn a couple of things. Mostly I now know why why people don’t transport goods in this manner.

Turns out the heavy crate changes your center of gravity completely. Now that I think about it, of course it would.

I had to cross a busy main road on my way back. Its has two lanes in each direction, seperated in the middle by a raised center island. While I bunny-hopped the island easily on my way there. Trying to do it with a crate filled with groceries on the way back, turned out to be my undoing.

I remember thinking that the one point of failure on my contraption might be the cable tie I had used to secure the crate to my seat and that maybe I should take a spare cable tie along… you know, just in case. I immediately forgot about my concern. (as one does) That cable tie turned out to be kinda vital. With the weight of my groceries combined with my attempt to mount the curb, the load on the cable tie was too much and it snapped. This lowered the already heavy crate onto my back tire.

Mid bunny-hop, suddenly my back tire seized, causing me to… well… I think I did quite well under the circumstances. If I had been cleated in I think I would face planted into the tar. I managed, somehow to recover, jump off and grab the bike before it completely tipped over. Amazingly I only spilled a couple of lemons and one of my plantains into the road and not a single egg broke despite my reactionary acrobatics and scrapping a fair amount of skin off my knee and shin.

My bike was now however, completely immobile. Flip… Was not not the word I used.

About a hundred meters down the road is a gas station with a coffee shop. I dragged my bike there and ordered a coffee. Then sat down and phoned my wife.

‘Please come and rescue me’.

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When she eventually stopped chortling, she came and rescued me.

IMG_8723.jpgWaiting for the recovery vehicle… at least I had coffee.

Once we’d transferred the crate into the car, to the sound of my daughter chiming in from the carseat ‘Rescuing daddy, rescuing daddy’, I was able to ride the bike home.

Mortifying. Turns out I’m really bad at this downsizing, eco-friendly thing…

 

After that we visited my parents. My dad has spent the last couple of days constructing a cart. I think he felt sorry for us because he saw us pulling my daughter around the garden in a cardboard box.

We decided (because we are responsible parents and because of my earlier shenanigans) that we should test it out on the Basset Hound first. To make it sure it was… eh… safe.

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And although he didn’t… exactly volunteer… I think he quite enjoyed himself.

The girl child however, even after seeing the proof of concept and noting that the basset hound had survived unscathed, was not particularly interested in being pulled around by a noisy lawn-mower. Can’t say I blame her.

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Much more content to swing.

The Frankenstein Faith.

I think, like most people, I have this ideal sense of self that I would one day like to achieve. That way I can use some high end nouns to bulk out my twitter bio and not feel like an imposter. I like to espouse the ideology that should get me to this exemplar state of being, but really, my life is largely mired in hypocrisy and procrastination.

I am not very original, so I like to borrow and steal from the -isms of others. I don’t ever adopt any of these wholesale, they are not me and I am not them. I don’t think you should ever brand yourself as someones disciple, if you can, you should always be your own brand, even if it’s just a patchwork coat of mismatched dogma.

For example while not a Mustachian, I really like Mr. Money Mustache or Peter Adeney if you prefer. I also really like Bea Johnson. Who is to zero wasters what MMM is to Financial independence and early retirement aficionados. I also love Chris Kresser whose books have inspired me to really consider my food and what it is that I’m eating before I stuff it into my mouth.

Through the larceny of other peoples tenets I have created this Frankenstein faith for myself. But, like with any religion, talking the talk is easy. Walking it, is much harder. Unless your belief system is pizza, Red-bull and Playstation. (which seems to be my default setting)

One my new found core-tenets is this idea of paleo-esque eating (Chris Kresser) and for a while now our family has (mostly) given up on the large retail supermarket chains. We now buy seasonal fruit and vegetables and buy everything wholesale. We buy our milk from a dairy outlet that lets you fill up your own bottles and our meat comes from an old school butcher who stands behind the counter and knows exactly the provenance of the meat he’s selling.

Tacked onto this is trying to minimize our waste (Bea Johnson). We compost almost everything. We try to buy stuff without packaging and take our own bags when we go shopping. I even use a bamboo toothbrush now.

I know, it has this whole greenie beanie neo-hipster vibe. And I hate the way it sounds when I type it all out. But let’s be honest, all belief systems are stupid. In the end it’s about living in away that makes you less anxious and more in sync with your operating system.

I drive pretty much everywhere. I’ll occasionally walk to our local to get coffee which is about three hundred meters from our house. But otherwise its motor vehicular transport for Joey. Compare this to when I was a kid and rode absolutely everywhere on my bicycle. Those were good times. (Enter Peter Adeney)

In any event I’ve decided, if I can, I’m going to try and cycle more. So earlier today I went to the bike shop to see what they could offer me in terms of a rig that I could carry my groceries in. I couldn’t really find anything that was suitable for my needs. And what was available, was really expensive.

So when I got home I disappeared into the workshop with my bike for about an hour and jury-rigged a type of load carrying system out of a length of twelve diameter 304 stainless steel round bar and a plastic crate. A couple of 3/4” hose clamps secured the structure to the back of my bike. I’ve made it so I can easily mount and dismount the crate with minimum effort.

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Tada!

My wife arched her eyebrow skeptically when I proudly rolled out my new creation. ‘You’re going to transport our milk and eggs in that?’ ‘Sure, why not’, I replied. ‘Why don’t you rather get a little wicker basket on the front like Jessica Fletcher’. I glowered at her. Although that did take the wind out of my sails a bit.

Being good Friday the Fruit and vegetable wholesaler is closed today. But tomorrow morning I am going to try and make my first bicycle shopping run. It’s about a 6km round trip along the stream near my house. Hopefully my contraption will be able to take the weight…. it should.

(famous last words)

 

Tokaido

I love Tokaido. Its probably one of my favorite games of all time. Which is weird for me because, generally speaking, I am a hate filled MF’er who has zero qualms about nuking your home-world and leaving your meeple lying dead in a ditch somewhere while I load your resources into my sketchy van. (all done while executing the Morris dance of victory)

But I’ve fallen in love with the zen like merriness of Tokaido…

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The point of the game is to have a truly EPIC journey/holiday while you travel along the Tōkaidō road which (in a time before bullet trains) connected Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo). Much like our modern day equivalent the point of the game is to have a ‘better’ holiday than your peers (and then gloat about it on social media*)

*I think one-upmanship is one of the oldest human traits.

The premise is super simple, first you choose a period character…

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They all have a slightly different tactical advantage. For example, the monk gains an extra point every time he donates money at a roadside temple. (charity after all equals dopamine and dopamine equals victory)

There are various ways to get ‘experience’ points on your journey. For example, painting landscapes and bathing with monkeys in hot springs. And…

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buying souvenirs.

Being a gourmand and eating lots of food…

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also helps.

If you discount the Robot Restaurant and my morbid fascination with Pachinko I’ve basically just described my own trip to Japan. (Temples. Hello Kitty Fridge magnets and lots of amazing food)

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Beardy Joey taking selfies at the Imperial Palace.

I know, to say this is to espouse heresy on such a massive scale so as to risk stoning by polyhedrons. BUT… the IOS version of this game is also really, really good. In fact I’ll go so far to say its better than the board game original. Sure its not quite as social. But it makes up for it with nifty animations.

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And you can play it by yourself. Something of which I am quite a fan.

In my opinion its a flawless port to an electronic medium and I really can’t fault it in any way.

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Its fun, cheerful and unlikely to make you rage-quit and potentially Frisbee your iPad air across the room and into a wall. (LeHavre and Galaxy Trucker have both made me want to do this)

In fact other masturbation, Tokaido is (probably) the most fun you can have with yourself. I know, how many reviews pair meeples and beating the one eyed monster (or playing with the little man in the boat)? Probably not that many.

Unlike bashing the bishop, Tokaido is less likely to end in eternal damnation. And generally speaking it makes a lot less mess. Both solid wins imo.

Sunless Sea

I have a complicated love/hate relationship with Sunless Sea. I love the story, but I hate the way it makes me feel bad at games.

I am for the most part a completionist. Ie. I like to finish games. Watching the credits roll rewards me with a tiny hit of dopamine and for a while I feel like I’m not wasting my life. Herein lies the rub. I’ve been playing Sunless sea on and off… for… about two years… and I’m only… probably… about halfway through the game now.

The way this game works is that your captains are largely meant to die. They’re meant to pass their legacy on to a progeny or first mate. That way you incrementally improve with every captain. This is all very counter intuitive for me.

My current captain has seriously defied the odds and has lived… much longer than she should have. Which makes me very protective of her. Unfortunately she’s also completely mad (like a longer suffering Call of Cthulhu investigator), I can no longer go anywhere where I might be exposed to sunlight and I continually hanker after some delicious man flesh.

‘oh look, the Chapel of Lights, should we stop for a quick bite?’

Oooh mystery* stew, my favorite.

*its actually not so mysterious. Thirteen went ashore. Only eleven came back.

Most games emphasize style over substance. Sunless Sea is substance over style. For a long time I played this game wrong. My proclivity tends towards building trade routes and trying to max out my character and equipment while loosely following the main quest. While you can (try) play this game this way… it’s not particularly fun or particularly fulfilling and requires A LOT of grinding. Ergh.

This game also has a weird challenge rating. Initially combat is terrifying and you (need to) flee from everything. But once you’ve shipped a few casks of Mushroom wine and scraped a few coins together you can upgrade your ship to something with slightly better armor than wire mesh and overhaul your deck gun to something other than a rubber band accelerator. This combined with getting a sense for jamming your control-lever from all ahead full into reverse soon means even the scariest zee-beasties become largely an inconvenience. I would have preferred a smoother progression in difficulty.

A lifeberg. A lot like an iceberg, except less sedentary and more… angry. Phew! Phew!

The money dynamic is also… different/annoying. You basically hover just above destitute for most of the game. (maybe that’s just me though) I guess wondering where your next meal or gallon of gasoline is going to come from adds to the tension. The loopholes that existed in the past, like shipping Darkdrop coffee beans to the surface and importing sunlight back down below (in mirrorcatch boxes) have largely been nerfed. The coffee shop eventually burns down and warm glow of the sun makes you mad. (Or madder)

So why would I continue to play this game? Well… the storyline is truly epic. And the narrative is amazing. I know, playing a game for story value… how novel. Be warned this game actually involves a fair amount of reading. And not easy reading at that. (the weirdness takes some getting used to)

To me at least this games resembles a mashup of Star Control 2 (one of my all time favourite games)

And a noir steampunk version of those choose your own adventure books of yore (basically my entire childhood)

Which why I am loathed to just give it up. I really want to finish this game.

I know this means retiring my current captain to her zee-side mansion. Where she will spend the remainder of her days staring off into the darkness while absent mindedly spreading red honey on her toast.

But this feels like such an ignominious end, considering how far we’ve come together. Maybe I should watch the ending(s) on YouTube and be done with it?

Roundup.

I fell asleep in front of the television watching Ricky Gervais on my laptop. (My daughter has secreted away the Apple Tv remote) I vaguely remember some Caitlyn Jenner jokes… and then nothing… I woke up about twenty minutes later, discombobulated, Humanity still in full swing. Closing my laptop I rampaged off to bed with the stealth like poise of a baby rhinoceros, navigating by iPhone light (so I wouldn’t fall over an errant German Shepherd sprawled out in the passage like some sort of dinner for one-esque rug). After that I tried (unsuccessfully) to unfurl the blanket that my wife had (with advanced mathematics) somehow established herself in. (you know, so I could get a tiny corner of warmth) After ten minutes (okay, maybe more like thirty seconds) of furtive probing I gave up and the did married couples version of when someone tries to pull the tablecloth out from under all the crockery.

After a slew of cuss words that would make a B-Block inmate blush and the hijinks of  navigating through the domestic version of the Tough Mudder… I wasn’t sleepy anymore. And so here I am, back where I started. Albeit in my pajamas now. With my teeth brushed and sparkling clean.

We have an excess of office furniture at work at the moment. It’s not really serving a purpose, other than taking up space, so I decided to appropriate a filing… shelf, cupboard thingy. I had the minions drag it down the stairs and then delivered it to my house this afternoon. (flagrant abuse of managerial powers entrusted unto me… by… well… me)

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Tada! The girl progeny has a new bookshelf (from which to dispense and distribute her books to every conceivable corner of the house). Some of these books she inherited from me and are not currently age appropriate (HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Chuck Palahniuk*) But I figure she’ll grow into them eventually

*I’m kidding. There’s no Chuck Palahniuk in there.

Did I mention it was the progenies birthday party this weekend? I can’t remember. After a quick brainstorm we decided that the thought of having a gazillion people in our house, with a plethora of snotty, little people in tow, rummaging through our vinyl collection and poking at my lego (and that’s just the adults) filled us with dread and loathing… Plus we’d have to lock the dogs away, and since that’s not really something we would even consider, we decided to have her party at the park instead.

My wife made a Peppa Pig cake…

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… and much fun and merriment was had by all. Except the girl child, who absolutely hated all the attention and tried to remove herself from any and all social activity. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

IMG_8636.JPG She also refused to take off her hat. And spent the morning looking mostly pensive. Although sometimes she would mix it up with a bit of a scowl. (REALLY awesome photos) I’m sure the talk will be of my strangely mute child who has clearly fallen off the development ladder.

Speaking of which, we had our first teacher-parent meeting at the Kindergarten she attends this week. They made us sit on the little wooden stools in the classroom, while her teacher and the principal took opposing tiny chairs. I must be honest, I felt a little uncomfortable… like I was in trouble…. old habits die hard I guess. Or maybe its a guilty conscious. Either way I did my best not to squirm. Or flee.

Turns out she’s the best in her class. Even in the long, illustrious history of the school they have rarely seen such raw magical ability (is what I imagined they were saying) It’s all very impressive for a mudblood (her mother’s a muggle). We smile politely. ‘Do we have any questions?’ ‘Not really’, we both mumble.

In other news I ordered books today. And then clicked same day delivery. (this is how I roll… sometimes) Two hours later I had received…

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…I know. It’s a university textbook. On potentially the driest subject imaginable. I go through weird phases. I’ve already devoured two chapters and so far I’m really intrigued.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to reveal my strange proclivity. In any event, twenty  minutes of killing stuff on playstation and then bedtime for Joey. Sweet dreams. Joey out.

Far Cry 5

I was up at 3am. I’ve been waking up at stupid times and been struggling to go back to sleep. I say stupid times but my alarm goes off at 03:59 anyway. I pulled my iPad off my side table with intention of reading, but then remembered… Today is Far Cry 5 day.

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I armed myself with fuzzy slippers (not pictured) and Old Glory socks (as one does) and trundled off to go and kill some white supremacists with a compound bow (that was my first mistake).

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No real spoilers.

Turns out they’re not white supremacists. I haven’t really been following any of the hype about Far Cry 5. I wanted to go in virginal, unbiased and untainted. ‘Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that a black guy?’ Turns out I’m conflating white supremacy and christian fundamentalism. Sorry! (My bad) Turns out they might not even be Christian Fundamentalists. I think its implied, but never… Oh, the official line is Doomsday cult. (they’re pretty inclusive) Well there you go. I take it all back.

In any event it was very satisfying shooting a broad-head into the cranium of some guy standing in a forestry watch tower. Turns out, he was NOT a baddie. The game admonished me with a warning and the words ‘DO NOT KILL CIVILIANS’ flashed across my screen. Oops. (Good start there Joey)

In my defense all these hick white folk look the same to me.

Anyways. I haven’t gotten very far yet. I’ve played through the intro and cleared the island. While I quite liked the intro, it does require you suspend your disbelief. Clearly these guys haven’t watched WACO (or even read the Wikipedia entry). Also, apparently EVERYONE in Montana still has an old school answering machine. Which I find quite cute.

Check out my incredibly boring avatar.

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I just couldn’t bring myself to pick out a mullet, camouflage cargo pants and a wife beater. And while I realize in FPS you never see yourself… I just can’t. I have standards. Pretty low standards, but standards nonetheless.

Also my aim is shocking. I haven’t played a FPS in a while. You know that trope that says people hone their firearm skills playing violent video games… actually I’m not sure where I’m going with this because my aim in real life is also pretty bad. Except in real life I manage to bounce hot shells off inanimate objects which then lodge themselves in unexpected places (like into the tiny gap between my fat head and my shooting glasses). Problems a gamer doesn’t have.

In all honesty I’m generally not into games like this. In fact this is the first game in the Far Cry series I’ve played. If I’m going to play a ‘shooter’ I prefer something like, Ghost Recon (which I really liked), first person isn’t really my thing. But there’s been a serious dearth of decent titles lately for the PS4. I’m really looking forward to Red Dead. But that’s still ages away… but until then I need something to tide me over. Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

Road not taken

I like tend to gravitate towards pretty, whimsical games in my in my old age (with a strategic element). Games you can play wedged into your economy class seat between the window and the human Kaiju that is spilling over into your personal space.

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It’s at times like these that you need to get your mind out of its claustrophobic surroundings and into some mind-bendingly difficult puzzle solving (it also helps to distract you from the vibrating bulkhead and the strange change in engine pitch)

Enter…

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Don’t let its cutesy facade fool you. This is a fiendishly difficult game, whose challenge rating goes from mild to cripplingly difficult in less time than it takes to get to cruising altitude.

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The game is based loosely on Robert Frosts poem of the same name. You play a ranger whose job it is to find missing children (who get lost in a blizzard) Weirdly this happens every year… for fourteen years. You would think they would have had a town meeting about this by now!

339B1B7D-F080-4509-BAAE-3B4C308866FD.jpegAdditionally these bumpkins settled their town in a swirling ever changing labyrinth of puzzle terrain and angry spirits. Which makes your life that much more difficult.

Its not ‘Monkey Island’ left field (use the monkey to turn off  the waterfall) but the interactions between certain types of terrain isn’t necessarily logical, so your first couple of games are spent experimenting with what does what.

Things you figure out like…

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…smashing three flame spirits together equals an ax, are logged in your diary for easy reference.

It’s a little tough in the beginning to remember what does what, so I found myself having to consult my journal quite often. I also have a mind like sieve which doesn’t help.

Damn you, Baba Yaga! (I’ve been battling this nemesis since Quest for glory I)

‘Hut of brown, now sit down’. (Can’t remember my wife’s cellphone number, but I can remember how to make a cabin on chicken legs descend to ground level)

Road not taken is very pretty. If I have one criticism is that it is really, really difficult. If you are easily frustrated or just want a game you can mindlessly grind through this game is not for you. I also find it’s not the easiest game to come back to after a long absence because you have to relearn all the various interactions again. Still, I do find myself coming back and in a world of ‘done, done on to the next one’ (Foo fighters), that’s got to count for something.

Strange Fruit (Comic book)

A black Superman crashes to earth in a small Mississippi town in 1927. This is one of the most beautifully drawn comics I have ever read… and you should definitely check it out given the opportunity. Part of me wants to leave it at that…

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The other part of me wants to pick at scabs. Even though I know that never ends well.

As far as I can tell some people took some serious umbridge with this comic book. But let me break it down Barney style to make sure I’ve got this down right. You are really angry because an artist created content you didn’t agree with? (Well okay then)

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This is one of the comments from the damning WWAC review. (There are loads. But they are all pretty similar)

This is an excellent tear-down of this comic, and I certainly agree it should never have existed. It is, frankly, arrogant and offensive for a white person to pretend to be capable of telling the story of racism, especially by trying to include the perspective of black people experiencing it. The execution of it, from this review, sounds completely clumsy, too, with an awful hook for the story

You know who else didn’t like certain content and decided it should have never existed? The German student union circa 1933. (spoiler alert it didn’t end very well for the content). Also the last line leads me to believe you haven’t actually read the comic. Ha ha.

Sure, run down and critique the plot, the writing, the font, the artwork (if that’s your thing). But don’t embrace censorship and piss on the creators right to create any story they damn well please. I am big proponent of the first amendment and even if I had hated this comic I would defend the authors right to create it against every single one of you.

I really believe that Jones and Waid had nothing but good intentions when they wrote this comic. And yet there are those of you who are very quick to jump up onto a soap box ready to condemn and point out the perceived failings in others.

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I’m trying to think of another comic that got people so bent out of shape. I’m drawing a blank. For some reason I think about Magneto – Testament. I don’t remember Greg Pak getting uphill (nor should he have) because he is half Korean and therefore how could he objectively write a story about Auschwitz and the holocaust.

Read this comic. Think about how it makes you feel. You don’t have to like it or agree with it. But to say it should have never existed is a very slippery slope. Combating intolerance with your own intolerance is not the way forward. When did we start going so backwards on this?

I saw this on twitter the other day.

An annual reminder to everyone making stuff: For every random jerk trashing you online, there are thousands of people that quietly love you.

JG Jones and Mark Waid. I love you guys. Just wanted to let you know.

Things girls can’t do…

Perhaps, he thought, I should qualify this whole diatribe with some sort of statement of personal bias, lest I inadvertently offended people. Offense is inevitable, I understand that. Especially since I’m the male of the species and therefore the dominant and authoritative voice on the subject matter of gender. God blessed me with some mighty fine (and lets be honest about this, totally above average) junk. And since God is a dude (fist bump) and created me first (in his image) I feel this gives me some sort of divine expertise on the subject matter at hand.

I’m weary of opening with satire. Satire means you might not get dinner. Or risk having a spanner* tossed in your general (girls can’t throw) direction.

*if you’re dating a girl from the southern suburbs. Initially I was going to write ‘broken bottle’, but I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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Despite what I might claim, I am actually still quite prejudiced. I find it disturbingly instinctual and somehow, deeply embedded in the gray squishy stuff inside my cranium. I find myself constantly having to auto-correct my more basic and primordial instincts (that are underlined in red). Outwardly of course I’d like to believe I can function as a seemingly egalitarian paragon, which is how I’d like to behave and be perceived. But it worries me that I constantly need to be battling the sociopath within my own mind.

Let me illustrate my bias with an example.

I was sitting on a plane recently waiting for the boarding procedure to wrap up when the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. You know the usual blurb welcoming you on board, expected flight time etc. Only the pilot was a female. While this shouldn’t have mattered, my reptilian brain immediately took note of this development. ‘Jesus we are so fucked’. The hamster in my mind likes his pilots to be male. And preferably white. Any deviation from this perceived skill set causes him to fall off his wheel and briefly run around his enclosure, wringing his hands and upending his water bowl.

A nano-second later the auto-correct feature kicked in with its soothing logic. After all there is nothing that would suggest one gender (or race) is somehow superior to another at operating an aircraft. I truly believe this.

Still, somewhere in the dark, cavernous interior of my brain, some stray neuron fired that shouldn’t’ have. I suppose one could argue that its some sort of perceived loyalty to my ‘tribe’. And that its that loyalty ascribing some spurious sense of superiority to my own kind.

I suppose that is possible…. I still don’t like it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about equality lately since I have now procreated and produced a girl-child. Before this, in all honesty, I only ever really thought of equality in very broad and dismissive terms.

This is likely because ignorance is bliss. When you are a white heterosexual male (generally speaking) you don’t care. You really don’t. I mean how can you… and why would you? You have no concept of being discriminated against, it’s something that’s NEVER EVER happened to you. It has certainly has never happened to me. Well not that I’ve noticed. And if someone has tried, my brain and ego would immediately override it as ‘Clearly this person is some kind of idiot’ and I would never think about it again. How can I can empathize with something that I have no experience with? I mean I can make some assumptions and maybe hypothesize what it must be like… at best all I’m really doing is upsetting people with my cutesy academic approach and at worst I am just being dishonest. Humans are selfish creatures and when you perceive yourself to be the apex predator what reason do you have to change your behavior?

I generally consider myself a moderate (although really isn’t that just another tribe or label) and I imagine Feminism occupies some point left of me. For a long time I thought Feminism was just a form of extremism. And therefore worthy of derision that comes with fringe politics. It seemed to me they had drifted so far off towards the horizon you could hardly even see them anymore. There they seemed to have pilot fished themselves onto whatever (vegan) creature existed there and now seemed content to fight battles other than the bout they were created for. But then I started wondering what I would do, under the circumstances…. and how angry I would get if this was me.

The answer is probably very angry. And angry people gravitate toward other angry people.

But how does one rage against something that the other side doesn’t think is really ‘a thing’? And if I do acknowledge that it is a thing, it doesn’t really affect me anyway, so support from me is clearly going to be limited, the status quo totally benefits me. It requires some serious altruism to get my ass off the sofa and try help find a solution to… well… if you guys want to call it a problem then okay…

I don’t have any really good ideas about this. For the most part I’m just talking out loud. I do feel that didactic conversation is better that aggressive debate where one side intractably screams down the other and everyone eventually just resorts to playground bullying and name calling.

To be fair, it’s not really something I have thought about much (until recently). I mean I’ve always agreed with the concept that men and woman should be treated equally. As an aside, I don’t think men and women are equal. (We have different qualities and I think those qualities are impossible to weight and rank)  But treated equally, sure I could get behind that.

I was with my daughter on the playground other day. I was sitting there watching her crawl around and explore one of these big installation pieces. This other slightly older girl had climbed up onto the second tier of the jungle gym. Sitting there, I surmised she wasn’t in any real danger and she seemed quite capable. Only her father swooped in from the other side of the playground and scooped her off the jungle gym. As he took her down he chided her, ‘You need to be careful honey, that’s dangerous’.

Would he have done the same to his boy child? I don’t know. We allow boys to engage in slightly riskier activities while girls are restricted because they might get hurt. Boys falling and scraping all the skin off their knees is a right of passage. For girls it’s an undesirable trait that needs to be discouraged.

For all tense and purposes that dad had good intentions. He didn’t want his daughter getting hurt. But this episode opened a whole can of murk inside my mind.

We treat boys and girls different right from the get go. How do we expect to create this Utopian society when our social norms are so deeply ingrained in us? Is an egalitarian society just a pipe dream?

I heard this great analogy recently about hypocrisy and speeding. Broadly speaking we appreciate that a speed limit in a suburban environment is a good idea and that setting a speed limit is a societal preference that makes things safer for all of us. Yet at some point, we all break the speed limit and we believe that this hard rule should sometimes be bent just for us. It should definitely NOT be bent for that other person though… they are clearly a selfish maniac. ‘Fuck you, buddy, fuck you!!’.

When it comes to equality are not just all hypocrites? We talk a good talk. But when it comes down to living these concepts as hard unyielding rules, we struggle. Maybe I should just speak for myself. It seems a bit unfair to paint everyone with this brush. After all I might just be the exception and everyone else is more like the twelve peers of Charlemagne.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just wanted to ramble. I do think that maybe small incremental steps in the right direction is perhaps a better form of attack. You know, slowly boiling the frog as opposed to forcing him into the hot water. With our immediate gratification mindset maybe we’ve forgotten that these things take time. Potentially longer than our meager lifespans will allow. Is the best we can do to build a solid foundation for the next generation to improve on?  Is that potentially our lot in life?

Maybe we should start with all just being a tad more honest with ourselves. I think that could help.

 

Kill the programmers. Save the world.

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment – Warren Bennis

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In anticipation of this event I already have the dog. My wife came with a Basset hound (not a real dog) and while Warren Bennis wasn’t breed specific, I can only deduce from his lack of a caveat, that he never owned a basset hound. Responsibility is not really their forté. In fact I often find myself both befuddled and amused that such a creature exists. Afterall canis familiaris comes from genetically engineering a sub-species of wolf. It casts serious doubt on… well… the French for starters.

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Our world is in a constant state of flux. Which I’m largely appreciative of, since for the most part, I am quite partial to a bit of impermanence. It keeps things interesting. And for as long as anyone can remember, futurists, carnival psychics, weathermen and more recently economists have tried to forecast tomorrow.

When I was a toddler I fell out of the wash basket I was using as coracle and smashed my head into the galvanized post of the clothes line. The result was a nifty scar (not unlike Harry Potter). The blunt force trauma however to my third eye (and surrounds) was less endearing and unfortunately debilitating. It meant I was never able access my chakra’s and my ability to predict the future has, as a result, been severely impaired. (Basically zero) Although you could argue that this makes me just like everyone else. Apparently its this amazing commonality that we all share. Regardless of race, gender, political ideology or fiber intake, one of those great egalitarian forces at play.

I can however still make some assumptions about the future and then hypothesize. Which is not unlike mental masturbation. You can practice it on your own and it’s relatively fun.. but really the payoff is short lived and its mortifying if you’re ever caught with your pants down. We still do it though. Some of us daily and routinely. Hypothesize I mean. We suppose things. And then take steps to combat something that hasn’t happened yet. And potentially may never happen.

The opposite of this is mindfulness (I think). Or at least living in the moment. It’s something I’ve been trying to cultivate recently. But it’s really hard. Especially since the future seems quite exciting and potentially somewhat comforting to us. Somewhere out there in the future there is a version of us that is, hopefully, better than what we are now. Although why this should be of solace to us is a little worrisome. Doesn’t that mean that the current version of us is less than optimal? Or even defective somehow? Why do I plan on being better at some future yet undetermined date? What’s wrong with me right now? (besides the obvious I mean)

In any event, while you’re sitting in your little corporate cubicle farm, ready to minimize your Facebook window at a moments notice, you are failing to grasp the grim reality of your situation.

Right now, somewhere, some vitamin D deprived, bespectacled programming fuck is writing code meant to replace you in your job. He doesn’t hate you. (well… he might) This is just the way of things…. and the sooner you realize you are basically an inefficient, time-wasting meat sack with a heartbeat the better off you’ll be.

This machine is guaranteed to be waaaaaay better at your job than you. No more coming in late,  no more smoke breaks. No more sniffing glue or blow off the toilet seat during lunch. No more browsing Pornhub or tweaking your manufactured Instagram life during office hours. In fact, lets be honest, if you weren’t around the company would probably save A LOT of money. And the work would actually get done! Why wouldn’t they want to replace you with a machine? I suppose if you were really good looking they might keep you around. But ugly people are fucked. Efficiency all the way.

Lately I’ve been endearing myself to the other parents in the toddler birthday scene. ‘Hopefully you’re not planning on steering your son or daughter to take up medicine?’ I mention offhandedly. This makes the other adults clustered in the defensive bulwark shift uncomfortably and avoid eye contact. They sense Jo is about to launch into a soliloquy but none of them want to be the one to set him off on his tirade.

‘It’s like wanting your child to become an alchemist. You’re being an irresponsible parent’, I continue, ‘in the future all surgery will be done by robots. Insanely more accurate than your inefficient son or daughter with their shaky hands and opioid addiction problems’. ‘Medicine as we know it will no longer exist. We will still need plumbers though. And probably electricians. Infinitely better career choices in my opinion’.

Going forward I think we have two survival choices. (There may be more, but at the moment my binary brain can only think of two) You can turn yourself into a highly specialized freelancer or you can become an entrepreneur. Neither of these can (as far as I can tell) be easily or cheaply replicated by a machine. And there should (theoretically) always be a demand for both.

Or you can make so much money now that you won’t have to worry about the future. That is the third option.

I’m making the assumption that the machines don’t rise up and kill us all first. After all how many programmers do you think there are right now, sitting in their y-fronts drinking Red bull and mucking about with AI. One of them is sure to get it right one these days. Fuck the terrorists. We should be rounding up the programmers!

If we act now we can…

  1. Stop the technological advance and save millions of jobs.
  2. Stop the unemployed starving masses rising up and murdering the all the 2%ers.
  3. Preserve the status quo. (it seems pretty okay at the moment imo)
  4. and… Potentially save humanity

Now we just have to debate whether humanity is worth saving…

 

Actually… now that I think about it, forget I said anything.