“Why should we not form a picture of the ideal life, built out of abundant information, non-hierarchical work and the dissociation of work from wages?”
“Why should we not form a picture of the ideal life, built out of abundant information, non-hierarchical work and the dissociation of work from wages?”
Productivity in the form of writing and receptivity in the form of reading are difficult prospects while enduring a 48 hour hangover since your 29th birthday. Especially for an intermittently and currently not employed writer, motivation can be hard to come by under such circumstances. Yet I did decide to check out my WordPress reader on this most unholy of windy and surf-less Sunday afternoons, and discovered courtesy of All Hail The Monkey King that I’d been nominated for the Liebster Award.
A quick Google discovered that the Lieber Award had something to do with schizophrenia research. Then I realised I’d spelled it wrong, re-Googled, and from reading the first blog (formerly Lorraine Reguly’s Life (now Wording Well)) about it found that the “Liebster award was created to recognize (sic) and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere”. According to my nominator the Monkey King, the rules of the award are as follows:
So, I thought, what the hell? Q&A from His Banana Belching Highness to yours truly:
MK: One day, you wake up and discover everything that existed before was a dream. You’re Lex Luthor (Superman villain). You are a billionaire. You’re a white, rascist Xenophobe. You’re President of the USA. And you have a super suit. My question. What is the first thing you do?
WJ: Pick up the phone, call Bashar al-Assad, tell him he’s a wanker, then fly over to Syria (assuming the “super suit” grants me such powers) and slap it into him in case he was dismissive.
MK: You have a monkey and it is your best friend for most of your life. But the monkey beats up your partner (who you’ve had a serious relationship for two years), and hospitalises him/her. The monkey has never been violent before, and seems apologetic. The partner says he/she is too scared to go near the monkey anymore. Do you get rid of the monkey? Or the partner? What else might you do?
WJ: I’d get rid of both, naturally after she has gotten out of hospital. No partner of mine could have her arse handed to her by a monkey, and I’d tolerate no violence in any monkey of mine.
MK: Would you ever sleep with your boss? (Feel free to say that’s not your business, that does answer the question).
WJ: Theoretically, yes. I have had enough trouble being hired, let alone getting into bed with female bosses. That said, there are a lot more of them out there these days, and the world is a better place for it. Sex or no.
MK: You discover you can travel in time and space, but only three times. Where would you go?
WJ: Back to before I answered this question with a boring reply.
MK: Favourite TV series?
WJ: Californication. Hank Moody’s a legend. Or a prick. Probably both.
MK: You wake up, and realise the life you knew was a lie. You suddenly recognise the people around you, and the circumstances you are in are familiar. You are at the beginning of the first episode of your favourite TV series. What do you do or what would you do differently?
WJ: I, Hank, wouldn’t have screwed the girl, Mia, seducing me by complimenting me on my book, as I’d know she’s 16. Though I believe it’s perfectly legal to sleep with a 16-year-old in Australia. Either way, come her 18th birthday I’d be all over that.
MK: Turn your Ipod/Spotify/music player on shuffle. What song is playing now?
WJ: Instead I scrolled down Windows Media Player with my eyes closed, then double-clicked. Turns out it was Novelty, by Joy Division, from their Substance album.
MK: Would you rather be a Terminator robot, or a Predator (From the Predator movies).
WJ: Predator. But this time I’d successfully take down Arnie. At least with my self-destruct mode. It would detonate faster this time. What’s the point of giving the enemy so much time to escape (beside a coherent plot)?
MK: You’re a Pokemon. What are you? And would you be friendly with humans?
WJ: Drinkadink. I’ve always got a beer handy for my struggling with alcoholism human master. My most devastating move is alcohol poisoning.
MK: Least popular blog post you’ve ever published?
WJ: Might turn out to be this one.
His Smelly Lice-infestedness only bothered nominating six other blogs, so I’ll nominate five in no particular order:
Questions for them:
1. What do you think are the positive and negative consequences of such a saturated media landscape?
2. Do you think taste in pop culture is declining (think Bieber and Cyrus), or has there always been questionable elements to pop culture?
3. Human-induced climate change: fact or fiction?
4. If you could be a piece of household furniture?
5. What do you enjoy doing when, if ever, you’re hungover?
6. Is content or technical proficiency more important to writing these days, and in the online environment?
7. Where would you like to visit that you never have?
8. Reality TV?
9. If you had the chance to settle on another planet, would you?
10. Do you think the advent of power-steering has probably reduced road rage?
Now, what do I win?
The Simpsons Movie is the reason I’m writing this blog post. Other than that fact it will actually have barely anything to do with The Simpsons, sorry. It’s just that I was going to watch the movie on television, then realised it’s a pretty poor film and Matt Groening should have been tarred and feathered for engineering or allowing to be engineered such a tragic symbol of the television series’ decline. Is that harsh? I guess being tarred and feathered might hurt. It would probably have to be hot or pretty bloody warm tar for it to liquefy. In that case, he should have been punished somehow. Anyway, There’s Something About Mary is on right after it and I really want to watch that; which gives me plenty of time to write this post. Or I’ll finish it later. I’m not being paid for this.
On topic: during November 2011 I started blogging. I was working full time at the, erm, time, but am not really patting myself on the back for maintaining a successful and productive blog while also working as a journalist. That’s because, at the time and still now, really, the blog was neither successful nor particularly productive. Since then I’ve posted 71 times, including this one, about all sorts of things. There have been ups and downs and rounds and rounds and trouble with the law and romance and surfing and a lot more. And that’s just the content and not the reactions to it. I’ve enjoyed it. I am a little inclined to think I in the process of blogging might have offended and alienated myself further from many people and elements of society; but chances are anyone I did offend never liked me in the first place or made out of context, prejudiced or downright biased analyses about me and what I wrote. In that assumed case, no big loss really. Thing is, the first blog post I ever created was about eReaders and eBooks and such: https://wordjourneyer.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/scrolling-the-page/ And, as my blog has over that almost two years attracted exactly 1498 views at the time of typing this sentence, I feel like writing a follow up to that original post as a way of marking the milestone. Maybe it’s time I sought advertising payments for it. Then again, maybe not (yet).
The really apt and kind of belated factor behind writing another post on the topic of eReading is the fact that, since writing the original post, I have bought an eReader. Quite soon afterward, actually. I’m not going to bother fastidiously addressing the things I wrote about eReading in the original post. Instead, I prefer to just write its follow up in exactly the same manner as I did it: from the heart. What? That’s genuine. I love reading. Books were my best friends during and before primary school, and they still bless me with more intellectual stimulation than some people I’m forced to speak to, or perhaps read about. How ironic. Where was I? Oh, yes: eReading. I have one now. An eReader. I’m not even sure what brand it is. Kebo, or Bobo, or something. There’s no brand on it and I threw out the box it came in (and probably the manual too). A former colleague of mine wrote a news/feature (as in one newsy story and one featurey story, on the same page) story about eReading in the newspaper we both once wrote for. She’s also, not terribly coincidentally, the first person who ever commented on my blog. Used to have (a WordPress.com) one herself. Not anymore. She works hard and has a boyfriend and is probably busy with the interesting social life a publishing company publicist would have. Point is: I don’t think I took eBooks seriously until I skimmed over her article. So as a birthday present that year mum gave me $100 and I bought one over ebay. It was exciting. Like waiting for a traditional book bought over ebay but amplified beyond count by the fact that, eventually, an eReader has the potential to contain many thousands of eBooks.
Back to the colleague’s stories about eReading. I can’t remember the specifics, but she went into considerable detail (as her job required) about different types of eReaders and their different functions (actually, I’m sure the articles didn’t just owe their detail to the fact it was her job; she was and is a passionate consumer of books). I mention detail because, as I got a small chance to discuss with her, she seemed to take things just as seriously when it came time to buy herself an eReader. A Kindle, I’m pretty sure. It is the most popular one as far as I know. Pretty ignorant about why, though, I’ll admit. I took a different yet characteristic approach to the abovementioned her and simply bought the (or close to the) cheapest one. And it’s fine, really. Great, even. I must admit I’ve only read one book on it (The War of the Worlds – awesome! Tom Cruise should be tarred and feathered for the modern film adaptation too, by the way. And for a bunch of other reasons) and made a start on James Joyce’s Ulysses. The latter was probably the reason why I have been reading traditional books since. Ulysses is a difficult read if you had not heard. But of course I certainly haven’t thrown it in the bin and it now has between 10 and 20 books on it. Plus I haven’t spent a cent in the process. Let me explain: I’d heard a while back that most classic novels’ copyrights had expired due to their authors being dead for more than . . . I believe it’s 70 years, if I remember my media law correctly. Boom: free eBooks. I didn’t know exactly where to download them, however, so I think I just Facebook questioned my friends en masse and was suggested a few different sites by a few different people. The best one in my opinion is: http://archive.org/details/texts Would be great to hear of any others. Pretty keen to download Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for free and read it again. It was a borrowed read the first time. Though HS Thompson’s only been dead for about 10 years. Oh well. There are some problems due mainly to my inexperience with the technology and the fact it’s still in its infancy. For example I bought a book through Amazon, which is the creator of the Kindle, but it could only be put on and read from a Kindle. I think the only way I could read a bought eBook on my eReader would be if it was downloadable as a Word or Notepad file. I’ll worry about that later.
Other than that it’s a pretty simple and low maintenance device. If only nature made women the way Asia made technology, right (hetero) men? Actually, that wouldn’t be much good to anyone. Ahem. Moving on. There’s an attractive but utilitarian little eBookshelf on the eReader’s desktop that houses eight eBooks (the rest are in a folder). Its desktop also has a calendar, but you can’t save events or set reminders in it or anything. You can also put photos, music and videos on it, though I’m not sure about its data storage capacity. Plus it features WiFi connectivity. That’s pretty much it. I certainly got what I paid for, and that’s without an intention to put photos, music or movies on it or connect it to WiFi. Unfortunately it’s already almost a little bit redundant because my smart phone (one of which I didn’t yet have when I bought the eReader) has a screen that’s almost as big. But I’d still prefer to read an eBook on the eReader over my phone, and I have no real intention, inclination or need to buy a tablet anytime soon. Unlike so much other technology with a deliberately built in expiration of only a couple of years these days, it may just be something that I own and increasingly treasure for years to come. Unless, as is probable in such a situation, I drop it in the bath. Borrowed that unlikely feared tragedy from my colleague. Just like traditional books, and despite the fact that I’ve barely used it, it already has a small place in my heart. That I and other book lovers are around to enjoy the greatest revolution in publishing since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press is a pure source of joy and wonder. With the advent and proliferation of electronic writing of so many types these days, it sure can be a little overwhelming when figuring out what to spend one’s time reading. The amount of eReading choice on its own is not necessarily revolutionary in its implications but is without a doubt revolutionary in its potential. As someone who enjoys writing whether for enjoyment, payment or both, the one question I’ll surely be asking myself for the rest of my life is: where do I fit in to this increasingly grand picture? Two things are certain: I could write a better modern Simpsons episode than the bunch of blind, drunken monkeys typing on smart phones who currently do; and Tom Cruise will act in the adaptation of my (eventual) novel over my dead and non-zombified body. I’ve missed the start (otherwise infamously known as the “zipper incident”) of There’s Something About Mary. Bugger.
It’s been a while since I posted a status update on Facebook. Probably mostly because my current unemployed life of reading, watching TV, playing video games, walking, surfing and doing not much else is not often worthy of comment. Oh, yes, I have applied for more than 50 jobs and have not received so much as an interview in return. But I’m not looking for pity; I simply consider that a fact worthy of comment.
It’s also the nature of internet social media that’s rendered me silent on Facebook recently. A nature that has caused introversion in me for the same reasons the real world often does: its immensity and complexity. The realisation that the volume and character of my particular voice must be insignificant when set beside the cumulative voices of the rest of the online world. Or at least my friends list. It’s a view occasionally reinforced by statuses of mine which are completely ignored by more than 100 people I’ve decided, in some context or another, are my friends. It’s ironic that among such ignored posts, links to blog posts such as this have been the most commonly ignored. Sure, many people have little time to read more than a few sentences these days. But again: assuming some of the people exposed to the material have been, are or would always claim to be friends of mine, it is disheartening that indifference is so often adopted.
It’s also an energy thing. The numerous – but thankfully not necessarily grand in scale – failures I’ve suffered during my life in pursuit of various objectives have taught me that my energy, along with my time, is precious. That although failure is valuable for learning it is also taxing and can draw energy from other pursuits presently doomed to failure that might otherwise have been successful. Basically what I mean is that not only is online social networking not necessarily productive, even from points of view such as entertainment, but its pursuit as a pastime can sap energy from other worthwhile or even vital activities (ironic that the auto-type on my phone tried to write “viral” instead of “vital”, there). That idea might not be particularly new, but when one is given enough time to consider its implications (by, for example, disabling one’s Facebook account for a couple of months), the resulting realisations are frightening.
And, finally, it’s a privacy thing (another irony, considering some of the personal things I’ve aired on this blog). Social media is a wonderful way of accessing all sorts of interesting facts of various degrees of dubiousness about people we know. One of the problems is, and this might be only me, if someone is interested in something I find either irrelevant or reprehensible, I’m much less forgiving online. I’ve removed at least four people from my friends list for ‘liking’ that Tom Waterhouse suckhole. But in person I’m unlikely to be so critically dismissive of the same person. And this isn’t necessarily balanced out in terms of severity by my favourable opinion of someone who shares an interest of mine. Although the online, as opposed to real world, medium does arguably allow for a deeper conversational exploration of two peoples’ mutual interests. At least if they both feel more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than otherwise. So I guess from that point of view I can understand that perhaps some of my statuses/blogs are offensive or not easy to relate to, and that is why they’re ignored. Understanding doesn’t lessen the disappointment, though. And the other problem is about delivery. Even though I, and many others, try to make my posts humorous, thought-provoking or at least well written (for all I know some people might interpret writing competence as a form of pomposity), there’s probably a lot of people on my friends list who simply don’t care. And simply don’t care to such a degree that my post’s presence on their news feed causes an angry reaction in them. Something’s got to explain so much complete disregard. I simply don’t like the idea of making people angry. And not because it causes me fear, but because I try to have a positive (albeit maybe sometimes jarring) influence on people.
Well, there you go: four reasons. That’ll do. It’s 3am and I’ve indulged in an often suppressed urge to write at an inappropriate time. I suppose, all things being equal, it’s a better indulgence than cigarettes or alcohol. Especially on a Tuesday night. For all you workers out there: thanks for the dole money. Hopefully you’re consoled by the fact that it’s going back in to the economy anyway, even if you’re not consoled by the fact that it helps me to live at least a subsistence existence.
PS If you are on my Facebook friends list and you’ve bothered to read this whole thing, please comment on or at least ‘like’ it. I mean, even if we or one of us wouldn’t technically consider each other ‘friends’, chances are you’re on my list because I at least value to some degree what’s in your brain. So why the bloody hell not share it (what’s in your brain; I’m not trying to force you to share this post (but go ahead if you want))?
“HELLO. The person you were trying to call is unavailable. Please leave a short, 10 second message, and it will be sent as a text message.”
Stress related brain, head and most of upper-torso explosion.
Many have been there. If you haven’t, congratulations. But you obviously didn’t have mobile phone reception or a, cough, landline with you while you were living under a rock. At least you do have internet in order to sympathise with the rest of the long-suffering us. Well, probably not that long. Maybe a decade.
Anyway: Voice-to-Text is an irritating service which, as its name mostly explains, involves speaking for 10 seconds a message which is hopefully, but by no means certainly, accurately converted to a text message and sent to the person you called. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this piece of technology that I’d liken – because it’s one of those things that should be un-invented – to napalm or Justin Bieber:
1. Rumour goes (and don’t quote me, because I’m normal and have regular voicemail) that, for example, say someone recites “Hey baby, you were great last night and I’m looking forward to giving you a spanking this weekend” to a Voice-to-Text answering service. Apparently, as far as the service is concerned, the message could end up reading as “Hey baby, your mum was great last night and she’s looking forward to giving me a spanking this weekend”. Or like this: “Hlr blby, u wirz rgtea lst nikt nnd ‘mi lurking frwad 2 gavgld yrdkdd sping thers wblend.” Confusion can quite easily reign supreme;
2. When you call someone it’s generally because you want to say something at such length, detail and possibly importance that a text message, or Goddamn 10 second Voice-to-Text message, is insufficient. And at the very least, under the circumstances, you really need to be answered by voicemail. I mean, we’re dealing with communication here; a vital human tool that pre-dates bloody agriculture;
3. Use of the service threatens domestic, professional and possibly political nightmares if you use your phone to call your wife, mother, kids and/or boss, for the above listed reasons. It could end up being a Sliding Doors moment, to regrettably but aptly use a cliché. You know, that awful (well maybe some people like it) movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, in which she catches a train in one part of the two-part plot, and misses it in the other, causing an alternate and not necessarily pleasant set of events. Basically, Voice-to-Text has the potential to cause relationship breakdowns, civil unrest and the complete destruction of the universe. Think I’m being hysterical? Hey, imagine if someone had phoned Archduke Franz Ferdinand just before he stepped out the door to go for a car-ride with his wife on the fateful morning of June 28, 1914. If he’d had Voice-to-Text, it could have been the very reason why he was assassinated.
This is a verbatim message I recently spoke to my brother’s Voice-to-Text service, quoting Chief Clancy Wiggum from The Simpsons: “This is Papa Bear. Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a . . . car of some sort, heading in the direction of, uh, you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless. Repeat: hatless.”
This is what appeared as a text message on his phone: “This is Papa Bear. Put an APP for a male suspect throwing up the car or some sort being the direction of you know that place is so chilly. Suspect is helpless. Repeat.” For closure and possibly a small giggle, Homer, apparently overhearing the porky policeman’s monologue, goes on to say “I can’t wait until they throw his hatless butt in jail”. God only knows exactly what Voice-to-Text would make of that.
Amazingly, there seems to be no complaints specifically about this service on that ultimate place of airing one’s dirty laundry: the internet. Though there’s plenty of whingeing about word processing voice recognition software. Perhaps I am a purveyor of melodrama. Maybe I have made a novel out of a text message or a rant out of a muttered curse. In that unlikely case, in order to make one last attempt at illustrating my point, please comment if you disagree. But, the condition is you may use only 10 words in your comment. GOODBYE.