Apart from HIV and COVID, it’s great to be positive. In fact, it’ll probably change your life; you may even live longer. There are commonalities with the books I read, linking global threads through time. From the Japanese island of Okinawa boasting the world’s highest life-expectancy, to American Indian Tribes and monks in Asia, from Roman Emperors to United Nation’s global statistics and research in the UK and US. Lifetimes of knowledge. I’ll be knocking on the door of 120 years old for sure! Maybe.
Nurturing friendships and family, eating light, getting enough rest (ear plugs and an eye-mask help immensely) and doing regular, moderate exercise are all part of the good health equation. Eating vegetables and fruits, cutting down meat consumption, avoiding smoking and watching your weight (watching it increase counts, right?) are widely known. Not drinking too much is the common addendum, knowing that ‘don’t drink’ would incite riots. But there are two other points which I love: stress and reason.
To quote the calming Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to long-life and happiness, ‘people that live the longest . . . face challenges with a positive outlook and are able to manage their emotions . . .a stoic attitude – serenity in the face of a setback – can also help keep you young, as it lowers anxiety and stress levels’. I try meditating every morning, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but it does make me feel peaceful, before then stretching to gently waking up the body. The phone isn’t looked at for the first 45 minutes or so of the day. In fact, am trying to cut down ‘phone-time’ to about two hours a day. Not accessing social media platforms and starting sentences with, ‘and another fu**ing thing whilst I’m here . . .’ also helps.
Nietzsche said, ‘he who has a why to live for, can bear with almost any how’. Sorry ladies and non-binaries, it’s all about he! But it’s the reason for being; the reason for your being. Viktor Frankl claimed the meaning for life was searching for your meaning for your life, with the kicker being that it doesn’t have to cover your entire life. Your meaning can change. Jay Shetty’s marvellous Think like a Monk had me constantly writing notes. They key points: meditate to calm, release the negativity and stress from your life; be grateful; treat everyone with honour, kindness and respect; serve. Regardless of outlook, these seem pretty good mantras to live by. Jay outlines finding your dharma, a concept across Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism: it is your reason for being, and a reason to serve. This can be found by answering three questions a) are you passionate about it? b) are you an expert in it? c) is it useful to others? Providing service is the direct path to a meaningful life. I’m in Frankl’s team here, still searching. Writing, travelling, reading, photography, technology and helping others seem part of it. Clearly my dharma being the ‘writing-travelling-photography-technology-helping’ niche business. WTPTH, a mantra to live by.
And in talking of honour, kindness, respect and service, this week crowns the last few days of Trump’s presidency, with vans collecting his shit as I type. It’s the only time where moving vans have moved everybody. Very emotional. Arf.
2021 will be great! Know why? Hot-cross buns in January. Sure, the COVID numbers are humungous, a rampant second strain because we needed an encore, storming of the Capitol by ANTIFA cleverly disguised as slack-jawed buck-toothed white rioters, Presidents banned from social media for being an arse-hat (four years that took, four years!) . . . but we’re one step closer to seeing hot-cross bad boys being released all year around to help my ever-more rotund belly. Swings and roundabouts, ladies and gentlemen, swings and roundabouts. Albeit reinforced swings.
With every bite of hot-cross goodness, happiness has been on my mind (you can thank Richard Layard’s Happiness). I write this brewing a pot of tea, following a run and imbibing a plant-based protein shake. I’ve earnt that hot-cross bun, goddamit! Viktor Frankl described happiness as having purpose, and that life was about finding your purpose. Bertrand Russell thought focus on self (problems, fears and failures) causes unhappiness, and that a generous outward spirit is what counted. Jeremy Bentham lectured of the predominance of pleasure over pain, and the greater good to make society happier. Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic, wrote it came from a calmness within, a mastery of self. Epicurus focused less on the external world, but trying to be happier than not: after all, only an idiot is happy all the time. More recently, William H. McRaven, the four-start US Navy Admiral believes it’s impacting your community for the better, however large that community stands. Disappointingly, bakeries and an intravenous drip to a bag of lollies seem to somewhat remiss in all these aspects. Incidentally, sugar and crack-cocaine trigger the same parts of the brain, fascinating, huh? Thanks Norman Doidge.
Happiness is tough. It’s an intangible, non-measurable, varying from person to person, as unquenchable as love. Giving yourself to something larger than yourself is probably the reason we have children, making other lives better, unless it’s a public place or a plane. But if you are surrounded by people improving other’s lives, you’ll form relationships focused on making everyone better. Quoting the Spirit Level, a rising tide lifts all boats. Or drowns Fiji, one of them.
I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions - if you feel that strongly on something, you’ll do it already. For me, it’s a continuation: drinking in literature, paradoxically knowing less the more I learn; treating my body with the respect it deserves <glumly puts down hot-cross bun, farrrkin hell!>; reducing meat intake to improve the environment; take more photos, especially of spiders as they scare me; help others if I am able; be less critical of myself and others, regardless of beliefs. Yup, Trumpians and Brexiteers, that means you too. Tottenham supporters can still fu** off though. Strong winds have bought us to this point, it’ll take courage to turn this boat around. Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul. Be compassionate, be tolerant, show love. Eat hot-cross buns, in moderation, apparently.
Remember when we would declare New Year’s resolutions with conviction? I’m giving up smoking! I shall drink less! I shall murder less people! I don’t think we’ve ever approached a new year with such trepidation, desperately hoping 2020 won’t be repeated. Maybe I'll eat less cheese? I don't know, I don't want to over-commit. And yet . . . there has been plenty of positives. I didn’t think I’d be seeing out the year riding my motorbike into the beautiful countryside, reading about cocaine smuggling in Marching Powder, and about Neuroplasticity - remarkable tales of how the brain can heal itself - but it’s been a funny old year. I’ve escaped through books, and at last, escaped physically too.
Again, I’m taking advantage of my friend’s good nature to spend time on their property, going for walks whilst avoiding the fearsome Australian sunshine. Night walks in a place famous for having 21 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world – should be fine, right? Talking of statistics, out of interest I thought I’d drag out some of my own for 2020: I’ve spent almost a hundred days in the gym or working out, with remarkably little effect which is quite an achievement in itself; I’ve consumed 53 books; I’ve written 28 blog posts; posted 12 motorbike articles; had a motorcycle write-up published; walked 4.56 million steps (3,553 km); and taken zero days off sick. I’ve finally fixed long-standing shoulder and wrist injuries, and I’m consuming far more fruit and vegetables than ever before, giving meat the elbow several days a week. And lastly, I’ve entered numerous photo competitions – won zero, before you ask! All seem extremely selfish pursuits but perhaps a year of me-me-meeee hasn’t been a bad thing, for me at least. I have also helped prop up entire tea-plantations. Cups of cha consumed for the year? About 14 billion.
What will next year hold? Zombies, probably. I’ve registered with a couple of charities so will see if I can get involved in more philanthropic work. Despite the many challenges of 2020, I remain extremely grateful for everything - my friends, family, health and work. Whatever trials lay ahead, most of which I cannot control, I shall try to make the best of it. And I hope you will too.
Much love for 2021, I wish you and yours health, wealth and happiness. And many cups of tea. And hopefully no zombies.
. . . at least there is good news in the music charts! If you haven’t listened to Boris Johnson is a Fu**ng C**t, it’s . . . emotional. Even the band are called The K**nts, so I’m not sure how radio or television are even reporting it. It can’t exactly be ignored – it’s at number eight! Just when you give up on a country . . .
Needless to say, it’s been one of those ‘one in a hundred’ years: it’s December, and last January seemed like a hundred years ago. I’ve spent a few days in the country on my motorbike, staying at a friend’s place, very much feeling the serenity. It’s odd that after five months of solitude living in Melbourne during COVID, the first thing I did was be solitary again, just somewhere else. I've included some photos below.
Trying to take positives from the year, being flat-ridden let me progress through an exceptional amount of literature. One book a week, I think. My index finger is worn to the nub! Most of the books centre around improvement and mental health, which this year seems particularly prevalent. Retaining even a few things from each book helps me weather the storms a little better. To paraphrase Marcus Aurelius, your soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts. I love that.
If I could pick just a single book this year, I’d pick Philosophy For Life by Jules Evans. I’ve always been inspired by Kipling’s ‘if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’ and Henley’s Invictus ‘I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul’, but actually getting there is a different matter, which ignited my interest in philosophy. Drawing on the collective thoughts of thousands of years, getting advice from the finest brains to ever grace the earth, is truly wonderful. This author distils classic philosophy into a single understandable tome, cycling through the basics and introducing people from all walks of life that found certain philosophical aspects helpful to them at different times. This from Marcus Aurelius again:
“Vex not thy spirit at the course of things; they heed not thy vexation. How ludicrous and outlandish is astonishment at anything that may happen in life." The only thing we can control is our own beliefs; the robber of your free will doesn't exist. I take great solace from this, and hope you can too during a tough winter for many. Alternatively, you can eat twenty mince pies, knock back a quart of whisky and get into a punch-on with a snowman, that might work too.
With many people enjoying a slightly different than usual festive period, it may be tough without family this year, or bloody delightful, depending on your point/pint of view. Either way, I wish you and yours a very safe, warm and happy Christmas. I shall be spending the day with friends, but will endeavour to have my annual swim regardless of temperature. It looks cloudy and cold outside, but hopefully a smattering of heating is running through the outdoor pool. One year the heating was completely off, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen snowballs inside my shorts. Jingle balls, indeed.
Much love for Christmas,
With couples going hell-for-leather in lockdown - spending time in the best way possible, I feel - I have half a dozen friends that are pregnant. The others could just be fat, mostly the chaps. The COVID baby-boom is upon us, which has startled me into thinking what it would be like if I was lucky enough to have children. Let’s be clear here, I have no clue what I’m talking about. But if I’m ever lucky enough to have kids, it’ll be fun to remember how bombastically naïve I was.
Since my Dad brought me up whilst my mum went to work, I think I’d echo his sentiment that any bed-time when the kids were still alive, and having the same number of limbs they started out the day with, is a win. That’s the benchmark of success, right there. Any future Reed will be inundated with books from an early age – kids like Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Spinoza’s Ethics, right? I don’t watch television much, but can see it as vital crutch when I want to zap them with zombie juice. Or zap myself. I would like them to learn a language or play an instrument, but the latter must be the quietest instrument known to man. A dog whistle or air-guitar seem like solid investments.
Although I think every parent wants their children to be the best footballer or athlete there has ever been, I already know that doesn’t matter. Like my parents did for me, I will try to encourage Reeds 1 through 5 to take up languages or a self-defence class to help them with confidence, self-discipline and resilience. Some of the calmest people I’ve ever met were also the deadliest. A muay-thai boxer springs to mind, and that silent contract killer I met in Malaysia (true story).
Pocket-money has to be earned. When a teenager asking my parents what their last slave died of, a cannon shot came back ‘don’t need slaves, that’s why we had kids!’ This now seems most reasonable. I already know Reedondo/a will be good at some subjects and bad at others, and that none of it really matters. From my own experience, I’d hope they go to university, but only if they find a subject they love. Otherwise, take your time. Perhaps easier than detailing all the things I’d like to do would be listing the things I wouldn’t want to do . . . namely this:
I heard from a friend recently that he always wanted to be a tattoo artist. A talented drawer when younger, he was disruptive at school, and therefore was told what subjects he was allowed to take in a meeting with a Principal. The school Principal effectively decided his fate at fifteen years old. Astonished, I asked him what his mother had said to all this, to which he replied, ‘it was my mum that set up the meeting with the principle in the first place.’ My friend was told – told! – that a tattoo artist was beyond him, and that he should set his sights a little lower. He dropped out of school entirely a few months later.
I’ve since addressed my goals for Reeds 1-5. As long as they’re alive, and I never tell my kids to set their dreams a bit lower, that’ll be good. Any advice from actual parents would be most welcome.
You may take our lives, but you’ll never take . . . oh, you’ve taken that too? OK, will just sit quietly. As Melbournians slowly climb out of hibernated lockdown bleary eyed after a score of zero-case days, talk of gyms and state borders re-opening are exciting many a Victorian. I was going to say Australian, but the Northern Territory barely blinked. Corona? Yeaaaah, I used to date her! Just keep reading, NT, we got plans for you.
A few cool things from the last fortnight: the Science Vs podcast on laboratory grown meat, saving cute piggies and curious cowses; the Letters of Note audiobook on despatches penned throughout history by those pierced by Cupid’s arrow - Emilie Blachère to her deceased photographer boyfriend, Rémi Ochlik, will have you in tears; holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s excellent Yes To Life; Ben Fogle’s wonderful Inspire; and lastly I’ve picked up a book I’ve been looking forward to for ages, Tim Flannery’s The Weathermakers, about human impact on the climate. This caused me to save the world, as you do. I imagine some kind of award ceremony is in order. However, before I get carried away (Beyonce can pin the medal to my chest, I’ve decided), allow me to explain.
Currently our snow caps are melting at an astonishing rate, which is a shame for almost everything living. It’s not just that there will be no polar bears and snow, but less whiteness. As anyone that has ever bought a dark car will tell you, it’s a mistake you only make once: it gets bastard hot. White reflects the suns’ rays back out of the atmosphere. The less cool spots and white you have, the hotter the planet will get.
Unless you’re a Mogwai or me with my milk white skin, light is awesome. The sunlight that reaches the ground is around 4% ultraviolet, 43% visible light, and 53% infrared. Solar panels mostly convert visible light into electrical energy, but they also can make use of almost half the infrared energy. Can we make solar panels white, reflecting most of the visible spectrum whilst also absorbing infra-red rays for power? In short, yes. The Swiss have already designed some, planning to make entire buildings out of it. In Australia, this could be like striking a deep underground well of liquid vegemite.
The Aussies are already planning a $20bn, 120 square kilometre, be-seen-from-space solar farm to power Singapore. Covering an area larger than the city of Manchester, England, it’ll be the biggest solar project in the world. If we increased the size dramatically and use white solar panels, we could reflect more heat, cause cooler air, perhaps even bring rain to central Australia. Alternatively, we could cripple El Niño/La Niña, making it snow in the Amazon. One of them: I don’t have all the answers, stop pestering me . . . jeeezzzzz!!
Here’s the rub. The Arctic sea ice is roughly 5.28 million square kilometres, which sounds big. Or at least until you think about the Antarctic, which is 14 million square kilometres. Australia, a little smaller than Europe, only covers 7.6 million square kilometres, so to be of any use we’d have to cover perhaps a million square kilometres to start with. Or about three quarters of the entire of the Northern Territory. When do we start?
Other less popular planet/humanity saving ideas: everyone be vegetarian four days a week; ban procreation; everyone eat someone else, preferably on the non-veggie days. I mean, you could even create a list. Why not eat a few, right? Can start with the NT, make some space.
Remember when Brexit was the shittest thing in the news? They were good days. Amidst a rampaging European second-wave pandemic, a continuing first wave in the US, we have a divisive, all-encompassing US election. The most powerful country in the world has elected a new leader, and the President-elect is a different animal to his predecessor. Contrary to thoughts from both camps, the other team aren’t monsters. Arseholes? Well, sure, but not monsters. To my knowledge, no one has eaten a baby with relish. Maybe with chips or mayo. But divisions in politics go back to your core values, so I thought I’d share mine.
I can’t sex it up, but tax is important. It pays for roads, doctors, carers, police, clean streets, museums, libraries, art, pristine parks with fountains, lakes and flowers. Tax supports those out of work or retirees on their pension. Tax pays (not enough) for teachers, the educators of your children - the literal future of the human race. With tax, governments can spend money on all these things. And if they don’t, we can kill them. What’s that? Oh. We can “vote them out of office”. When companies or even Presidents tax-dodge, that impacts everyone. They are robbing you.
The environment. There are certain scientists I trust - Brian Cox, David Attenborough, Neil deGrass Tyson, The Germans – that believe climate change is real. I’ve seen bleached, dead coral, and plastic in our oceans. Neither is good. Being partial to oxygen, cutting down lots of trees, the perfect machine to produce oxygen, doesn’t sound a good idea. Even fossil-fuel fans admit the black stuff is finite. Embracing green energy will create a lot of jobs; it needs maintenance. We don’t have anything to lose by adopting renewable energy. If, somehow, it’s all a sham, our oil, gas and coal will still be there. It doesn’t disappear if we don’t use it.
I like the idea of some omnipotent power that looks after us, who wouldn’t? But religion has no place in politics or decision making. If you want to believe in a divine cookie-delivery fairy (now we’re talking!), go right ahead, but religious rights don’t beat human rights. Logic and reason seem to be good cornerstones to found a society on. As do cookies and biscuits, all shapes and sizes. It’s important not to discriminate . . .
. . . equality is important. The gender split worldwide is roughly 50%. This means that women should have an equal share of jobs. Of the 220 countries in the world, there are about 20 female leaders. The same can be said for cultural diversity. If 20% of society – across all age demographics – were avid Rammstein fans, I would expect that if I pulled ten people together, two of them would at least not have to google who the fu** they were. When we say Black Lives Matter, what we’re talking about is equality. In 2018, black Americans represented 33% of the sentenced prison population, that’s nearly triple their 12% share of the U.S. adult population. There is something fundamentally wrong. Being black or ginger or very tall or blue-eyed doesn’t make you more prone to commit crime. More equal societies do better, simple.
Your list may be different. Different strokes for different folks, life’s rich tapestry etc I would advise against stuffing your face with as much pangolin and bat soup as you can muster as a value per say, as who knows what would happen. But that’s just me.
Hooooraay!! I got a haircut!! Oh, how wonderful life is, post a 110-day lockdown! And a big breakfast in a café in the morning sunshine, what a life! At least I’ll look dapper and wear a satiated smile when Trump is elected again in a few days’ time. Urghhh!! Sure, he’s despicable, but . . . could end that sentence there, really. Would Biden bring a refreshing change? Maybe bland will be nice. Whoever wins, the world isn’t crying out for more old white heterosexual religious men to lead countries. More Ardern, Merkel and Finland’s Sanna Marin please, the latter a progressive, raised by same-sex parents, and the youngest sitting Prime Minister in the world. Conversely the UK has Boris, with his ‘the time to act is now!’ lockdown measures, bizarrely being enacted in a few days’ time, about two months too late. Coincidence that the lockdown is happening on the historical day celebrated for attempting to blow-up the House of Lords? I think not. Guy Fawkes, not all bad.
Talking of leading ladies we wished there were more of, this week I’ve been listening to Hunch, an excellent book by Bernadette Jiwa on observation and idea creation, which reminded me of being out in the US earlier this year . . . Keeeerriiist! That trip seems like a million years ago. 2020 eh? Halloween hasn’t unearthed the Zombie Apocalypse yet, but just wait. Anyway, when Stateside a friend told me of their amazing idea, but they couldn’t reveal details as I would steal it, a common misconception (not me stealing ideas, but of not sharing them). Ideas are lovely, but execution is the thing. Unless you’re the British Prime Minister, anyone can have an idea. In fact, it’s a common theme amongst start-ups that there are no new ideas. It’s your take on it that’s the differentiator. Facebook didn’t create social networking. Apple didn’t create mobiles or touchscreens. To drive home the point (arf), how many car brands can you name? I can think of ten without leaving Japanese shores.
Over the years I’ve heard some fantastic ideas. A friend suggested investing in Bitcoin eighteen months before it hit mainstream. Unfortunately, his English, explaining it as ‘Bidcoin’, meant that neither of us now own our islands. Or flats. Or even cars. Another friend suggested selling collected ingredients for a meal over ten years ago, I even remember where I was when he told me. Simple idea, sure, but meal-packs are now a billion-dollar industry. After visiting Russia where anyone could flag down a car and negotiate a lift, I wanted to see this elsewhere, solving problems of an over-rated, expensive taxi services. The shared mobility industry is . . . well, Uber alone was worth about $82 billion in 2019. By 2030, according to BusinessInsider, the global Robotaxi fleet market will be worth at least US$2 trillion annually. As above, almost anyone can have an idea.
If you have ideas, share them, get as much feedback and points of view as you possibly can. If you think it’s still worth doing, carry out the one piece of advice I give people: have courage, take some risks. Actually, two pieces of advice – work your as off, too. Don’t listen to the inner voice that shouts you down at every corner or the people that provide nothing but negativity. The biggest detractors are often ourselves. You don’t have to be Steve Jobs (thankfully) but see an idea through. ‘I wish I would have . . .’ is a shit place to be. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but pontificate about it and you’ll never know.
I’d highly recommend Hunch, and Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, oh and I’ve just started the emotional Letters of Note on Love read by Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Miriam Margolyes and countless others. Despite listening to them for free on BorrowBox, I’ve subsequently bought all. Insightful and life-affirming, and when do you ever not need that? On the other side of the world, the second-wave is hitting, amidst a divisive, bitter American election and a long winter ahead. If you can’t escape lockdown, maybe your mind can, maybe it will need it for, I don’t know, the next four years. I don’t think you can properly count yourself screwed though until Gal Gadot sings a song at you, so there’s always a bright side.
Eight weeks until Christmas. Fuuuuucccccc%%%%%! Well at least I can see where the months have gone, with scattered clothes littering the apartment like a crime scene. Bed-Couch-Table. Repeat. With gyms closed and restrictions on exercise outdoors, the nation has pulled together, unanimously, to laugh at Melbourne. The mighty southern city, the only one suffering lockdown in Australia, has itself bonded in unity. We’re a steadfast, supportive team. That is, until the last few weeks when another suburb has another outbreak, delaying freedom again. Then it’s curses, hexes and foul-mouthed tirades all the way! <Am looking at you Northern Suburbs, you bunch of arsehats!>
For the first few weeks I was determined to continue my gym work. I then got injured – a sore right wrist, can you believe. You can complete the rest of that anecdote yourself. I then did nothing for two months. Well, I say nothing, I got fatter and developed lactose sensitivity. Ahh 2020, the gift that keeps on giving! Getting into it again, I’ve been out running. Ohhh the lamentations. I thought I was doing all right, the legs starting to find their stride, upping the pace. I felt I was really motoring! For about fifty metres. Then someone with a tiny gait barely breaking a sweat passed me, and I realised I’m an old man with grey hair, wheezing like I’d swallowed a broken accordion.
After spending months alone, seeing ladies and their Lycra clad bottoms has become shockingly attractive. Clearly their standards have lowered and defences tumbled, as occasionally, just sometimes, I get the eye. This never happens when I’m running - of course, I mean, I’m a fuc*ing fat cave goblin!!! - only when walking. I’m the first to admit there are a vast preponderance of other possibilities, like an astounding number of women with glass eyes. But it’s bizarre. At the moment, if ladies do have the misfortune to stare in my general direction, they would see overgrown hair, sunglasses and a mask. Generally, I’m wearing earphones, so that’s my good-looking, model-worthy ears out of the equation too. Which leaves my forehead. I didn’t think I had a particularly attractive forehead and yet clearly - clearly! - I’m wrong. I’ve effectively become better looking by covering 90% of my face. This is a minor revelation. If anything, I feel my face has been letting me down, performing a disservice to my forehead for years!
In my spare time when not writing the second book and gasping pathetically, I’ve taken up a Digital Photography course from Harvard. Some fantastic facts: yellow can be made from red and green, which is madness but true despite what they teach you about primary colours at school; all colours are made up of infinite additions/subtractions of red, green and blue, and when we look at a colour 90% of its brightness is actually green and red, which is handy as 98% of cones in our eyes are directed at red and green wavelengths; and lastly the reason why you never like photos of yourself is that you’re used to seeing your reverse image in the mirror. What everyone else sees is you normally. So, the theory is, if you take a photo of yourself and flip the image, this is how you really look. Amusingly, whilst you may prefer that image, the people that know you won’t. I have tried it, and it’s still not getting any more favourable. Maybe it needs more flips? 301? No. 302? Nope . . . it’s a workout in itself.
Facebook and Twitter, much-maligned platforms, are stuck. Stuck making millions, but stuck. The former I use to pretend I’m a good person, like everyone else, by remembering birthdays, but also, to post this blog and interact with Motorcycle and Landcruiser forums. I am not part of the Twitterati. It’s about as appealing as Chinese Opera, backed by a choir of mewing cats, whilst being punched in the happy-sacks repeatedly by a band of midgets mistaking my equipment for a piñata. Fascinatingly, both platforms have become the go-to for actual, real-life news, for millions of people. With more unfiltered opinions than ever, the channels have become culpable for spreading mis-information. This is . . . odd. They’ve inadvertently become the arbiter of facts.
Meanwhile, the people creating the bullshit seem to escape blame entirely. It’s not simply an education question, either. There have always been kooks and weirdos, and they are basically anyone that doesn’t share your enlightened, educated opinion. We talk of welcoming diversity, as long as everyone thinks the same as you. Otherwise we shout them down, decrying that these louts probably don’t even know the difference between a macaron and macaroon, the fu**ing morons!
We all have our own reality. For example, I refuse to accept it’s cold unless it’s snowing. For many of the lovely people in Australia, anything below twenty degrees warrants woollens. Then there is propaganda designed to spread fear or incite a reaction. Churchill openly lied about how well the Allies were doing to play-down any hysteria. Hitler was going to eat you. Russians were going to sterilise Americans (not all bad, then). Oh, and all religious texts. Should banners exist over every, ‘and the Lord said . . .’??
Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, is a marvellous place. You can totter along any weekend, listening to someone fart their opinions to the masses. Usually I’m going to hell in one religion or another, but that’s tolerance for you. Yet if I don’t like what they preach, I move on. So do others. The same applies to media. I don’t watch television. I have one, technically, leftover from a housemate, but it’s from the age before digital. It gathers dust excellently. Most platforms and media outlets, unless independently wealthy or the BBC, exist from sponsorship, who are in turn depending on advertising to the masses. If you switch off, so do they.
Perhaps it’s a case of using your own judgement to work out the bullshit from facts, or alternative facts. Social media can be a force for good too, as this wonderful story attests. There are no lies here, no underhanded tactics, no effort to sway voters: an elderly couple struggling to provide for themselves. The reaction has been superb. And talking of people struggling with life, I’ve started Kerouac’s excellent On The Road. It’s amusing to see all the references to William Burroughs of Junky fame. Even to Kerouac, he’s a drug-addled step beyond.
Having already drunk my tea and read a little as per my Sunday morning tradition, I’ve just finished Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood, the results of clinical studies into how we form habits. It’s more than just self-control . . . apparently, I wasn’t really listening, was doing something else (hardy har). According to the book, the more self-control you have the more successful you will be in life: school grades will be better; you’ll eat healthier and more likely to be less obese; you’ll manage your money better; and have less arguments in relationships. But if you do anything regularly enough, it becomes a habit, whether good or bad for you. Like checking your phone one hundred times a day for the latest social media posts.
Have a lovely week! x
Writing and writing...