Wednesday, 23 November 2016

We Choose to go to the Moon

While reading this article in the Guardian, I was struck by the truth of Monbiot's words about a lack of leadership in our politics, worldwide. We need our own JFK, a person to lead us in a vision for a new world, a new way of doing things, someone to say 'we choose to go to the moon' but with regards to climate change, which is ultimately about the survival of our species.

New ideas are sorely needed, more money for research (bear in mind that of the G7 countries the UK invests the least in R&D of any stripe, and that President-elect Trump is talking about slashing funding to NASA), but more than anything we need a vision and someone to articulate it.

We need someone to choose to go to the moon...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Weird Ales Volume 2


Just a quick note that Weird Ales volume 2 is now available via Amazon.

I don't have a story in this volume... but I did edit it. (Blows own trumpet).

It's full of dark tales, all of which are pub related and all of which are good reads. I won't promise that your hair will stand on end (as I have a feeling that pub prices will do that soon enough).

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Daily Cat 2

The tummy is a trap....

Seriously - it's cute and all, but try to touch it and he'll show you how sharp those claws are.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Daily Cat

As the world seems to be going to Hell (which may not be any change) I thought I'd post a picture of Himself.

Social Media

So, what I intended to blog about today was social media, but the Trump victory sort of sidelined me. What I wanted to talk about is why I've taken a break from social media, apart from this blog, and why I'm thinking about keeping that way.

And here we are, a week later... (yes I'm that efficient, lol).

To begin with, a small confession, when I do use Facebook, I find that I use it all the time and its hard to keep away from the site. I'm one of those users who keeps checking their feed, posts loads of stuff and often use it as a sort of 'dump my emotions' when I'm feeling low. I also use it as a lab, to discuss issues that are bugging me, whether that's something to do with the real world or just a writing problem. I find it hard to detach from the site, in a way that I don't with Twitter or Google Plus (though I do sort of prefer G+ because it's much more laid back). 

Perhaps it's because of this that I also find it stressful, Facebook pokes my anxiety, often very hard. It makes my feelings of isolation increase too, not just because of the algorithms that means that you only see certain stories, which have already been connected to feelings of depression in studies. I also find it alienating to see a feed that's full of loads of stuff I simply don't care about (Game of Thrones, Star Wars and so on) or memes that are just, from my perspective, moronic. It doesn't help that the things I am passionate about frequently slide off into the darkness, if I post about them. It shouldn't matter but it makes me feel as if my likes and dislikes are somehow less valid than what the mainstream is pushing. It feels as if all the brilliant book series, or anime shows that really pop my socks off are terrible and at times as if I'm wrong for liking them. It's stupid and I know that, but at times it just feels as if I'm staring at a wall of things I don't care about, with people who are more interested in what's cool than what's interesting. It feels as if what we have managed to create in social media is less a place for discussion and communication and more a playground where things are cool and cliques hang around together, all agreeing with each other.

It feels hard to get a good philosophical debate online these days, everyone is so entrenched and its sad that Facebook is actually encouraging that but creating data bubbles. I'm concerned that this is one of the things creating a distorted sense of our world, along with the fake news stories that get passed around. There are also issues around communicating online, where our reliance on body language and facial expression as well as tone of voice, are wrenched away, leaving only words. Is it any wonder we take things out of context?

I'm not sure how we fix this, only that we must. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Quick Heads Up

I found this online and thought it underlined the political situation quite well. Have a read and tell me what you think.

The Problem with Media

Recently the Guardian launched a subscription model for its website. At the same time, the Independent has ceased to print copies, and the Times is apparently on the skids owing to lack of sales. The Telegraph seems to be transforming itself into a bizarre tabloid, Private Eye famously talks about the paper's obsession with 'fruity girls' and notes how it's transformed into a mouthpiece for its owners' views on all matters from the bizarre to the sublime.

At the same time the tabloid press in the UK seems to be going through a boom period, as the Guardian asks readers for support, the Daily Mail struts in its influence, confident of sales and advertising revenue. One imagines that even the recently announcement by Lego's recent announcement that they would not continue advertising with them, is scarcely going to raise a panic at the Mail's offices. Similarly the Sun and Express are still riding high in circulation, as the broadsheet newspapers appear to be heading down the plughole.

As a habitual reader of the comments under articles (it's a bad habit, I'm trying to stop - at times I feel like I need an intervention), I've also seen repeated references to the MSM, the Mainstream Media, usually by people who are darkly referring to bias or something that's not being reported. The implication is that there's some sort of conspiracy to keep information out of the public eyes, presumably the sort of story that would prove beyond a doubt that EU Commissioners eat babies for breakfast or that Climate Change is a huge conspiracy by aliens to supplant human life (anything not to have to actually change how we live). In an age where gods and demons are largely discredited, the parts of our brains that look for patterns find them, for the wrong reasons. We seek order and a conspiracy scratches that itch. I am unconvinced that going to sites that are openly biased, and who have nothing to reign them in or provide even a smidgeon of a code of ethics is a beneficial thing, especially in a society that has virtually enslaved itself to the internet and would likely fall apart without it.

The problem is that the 'net creates bubbles and echo chambers. John Oliver touches on this in this video.

Going back to my Climate Change is caused by aliens, I could just lift the entire plot of John Wyndam's The Kraken Wakes and present it as true. It wouldn't be, but I could claim that it is (and sadly if it was, I bet we'd be a lot more interested as a species).

We seem to have lost track of 'facts', we seem to be in a 'post fact' period, which I find terrifying because it means, for example, that huge things (like for instance that Britain created the concentration camp) get brushed under the carpet - because it doesn't fit with the resurgent British nationalism that's washing our past whiter than white. We're trading ignorance for knowledge, and scarily, we don't actually know that we're doing it. I'm not immune to it, especially on matters concerning science but I admit that and I try to better. A lot of other people just pick up the information they see on social media and assume its' true, there's no fact checking or attempts to work out if its true, they take it all on face value.

We have to stop this - we go on and on about how smart we are, so why aren't we using that intelligence?