Politicians, Coalitions, Pineapple and Pizza

Well here we are at the end of another election in which another western democracy has largely, once again, made itself look like a widower dancing at his own wife’s funeral. It’s undignified, largely arrhythmical, and depending on whether or not they’ve had a hip replacement, painful to watch. Nobody benefits from being forced to observe such a spectacle of misplaced eccentricity, much in the same way that nobody seems to have really benefited from last week’s general election. (I couldn’t find any videos of old men dancing at funerals, but I did find this, which to me at least appears equally as undignified.)

For the United Kingdom the general election was an unqualified disaster. In the wake of a Brexit vote that split the country 52%/48%, the country needed direction, to be led by a leader with a cast iron mandate. The strong and stable leadership that Theresa May Image result for strong and stable memerepeatedly promised when she called the snap election with a 24 point lead in the polls, ended with her party losing the majority necessary to form a government. This now leaves May, a leader of the Tory party who has never even won a leadership contest, with a barely tenable mandate with which to represent the British people at the Brexit negotiations. The Brexit negotiations being the single most important event to happen in Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall.

In the space of just under 12 months Conservative leadership has called a referendum and an election that has resulted in the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union and ending up with a hung parliament, quite a staggering achievement given that 12 months ago David Cameron was the Prime Minister with a majority of 12, of a country that was still a part of the World’s largest economic bloc. When you consider that the British parliamentary system is stacked in favour of the party which has formed a government, they can call the election whenever they want, they can change the boundaries of constituencies, it becomes really hard to imagine that the Conservatives didn’t engineer their own downfall intentionally. If they didn’t, then they’ve clearly lost touch with the electorate.

Despite not having the number of seats necessary to form a majority government, Theresa May will form a coalition that will enable her to theoretically have a majority. So who’s she inviting on board her political version of the Titanic? The DUP of course, you know the DUP? In British politics there’s the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Green Party, Scottish Nationalist Party, Sinn Féin, Plaid Cymru, and then you’ve got the DUP. The Democratic Unionist Party, they will be the ones invited to form a government with Theresa May. The DUP with their 8 members of parliament will, in theory anyway, hold the power of veto over everything the Tory government try to do. But who are the DUP? Well, they’re the political wing of protestant paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, In other words they’re the yin to the IRA’s yang. They’re the pro United Kingdom terrorist group of Northern Ireland. Jeremy Corbyn was lambasted for having held talks with Sinn Fein during his political career, then only weeks later Theresa May will shamelessly form a government with the political wing of a known terrorist group. Of course if you watch the news no reporter dares to use the word terrorist, because when they appear to be on your side they go by the name of paramilitary. I’m sorry but whatever you chose to call them, it’s still…

But even if we’re able to ignore their paramilitary past, the DUP are fanatically pro choice, something I imagine, that would have not thrilled quite a number of people that decided to vote Conservative just last week. The idea alone of the Conservatives forming a coalition is counter intuitive, the ultimate political oxymoron. It’s a little like expecting a pride of lions to ask you to pull up a chair and share their freshly killed wildebeest with you. I’m afraid to say that the DUP will end up as the DUPed in the event that they form a coalition with the Conservatives. They will inevitably be wowed by the possibility of going into Downing Street. Of being shown the button, with which they’d want to unleash a nuclear strike on the Catholic population of Belfast. But, in reality they’ll be nothing more than a class of 11 year olds on a field trip to a bank. They’ll get to see the tellers count some money, they might even be shown a pie chart, but that’s as close as they’ll ever realistically come to influencing any long term fiscal strategy of the bank. And no politician ever wants to share their power. A politician needs power in the same way a diabetic needs insulin. Interestingly Theresa May is a diabetic, so she craves both. This leads me to wonder which one she could live without the longest, her slipping into a diabetic coma would certainly go a long way towards explaining some of her interviews in the lead up to the election.

Both the referendum and the general election have managed to drive a wedge down the middle of British society. I’m 40 years old, and I’m not sure I can recall the nation being this divided. With divisiveness being a theme which appears to be undermining so many western democracies, I was interested to learn that Sam Panopoulos passed away last week. Panopoulos was the leader of the Democratic Ulster Unionists for… No he actually had a far more positive impact than that; Panopoulos claimed to be the man who first conceived the idea of putting pineapple onto a pizza.

Like Brexit, Theresa May, and Donald Trump, putting pineapple on top of a pizza is a contentious matter, an acquired tase. And just like Brexit, Theresa May, and Donald Trump, the opinion you have regarding whether it’s reasonable to put pineapple on a

Image result for nazi pizza
Catering to a niche market, Josef Koch bakes pizzas and offers free delivery to customers on the right side of town. The far right side of town.

pizza can be used to determine the opinions that you probably hold about a swathe of other social issues. Just how if you support Trump people will assume that you’re against immigration, for the second amendment, and against commonsense. People that support using pineapple as a pizza topping are seen as progressive liberals who support immigration, gay marriage and universal healthcare. Compare this to the pizza that was most popular during Hitler’s Third Reich where olives and salami came to symbolise, strength, supremacy, and purity of the Aryan race.

 

Panopoulos’ Hawaiian pizza became political just before he died, when last year the president of Iceland said he would ban pineapple as a topping on pizzas if he could. At the time this created quite a stir amongst the press as they dreamed of a Neroesque president ruling over a remote volcanic island, issuing decrees about pizza toppings while making their pet dog commander of the Navy. Unfortunately for the media the evil Bond villain they desired never manifested, instead he was just expressing his opinion about pineapple being added to pizza, during a question and answer session with a group of high school children. President Gudni Th. Johannesson went on to state that it would be an abuse of his power to ban pineapple from being a pizza topping. This didn’t prevent the media from running with the following ridiculous headlines:

 

Iceland leader reveals desire to outlaw Hawaiian

pizza http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2017/02/iceland-leader-reveals-desire-to-outlaw-hawaiian-pizza.html

If he had his way, Iceland’s President would ban pineapple pizza

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/21/europe/iceland-president-pineapple-pizza-ban-trnd/index.html

Iceland’s President wants Hawaiian pizza ban

http://www.skynews.com.au/culture/offbeat/2017/02/22/iceland-s-president-wants-hawaiian-pizza-ban.html

 

To round things off some funny clips from the British general election. They’ll leave you wondering why we all get so worked up about having the right to vote when you have to choose people like this.

An opportunistic reporter, bored with having to listen to Boris Johnson’s wool gathering and navel gazing, takes the initiative and stabs the foreign secretary in the face with his microphone:

 

After enjoying an election result that few predicted, Jeremy Corbyn congratulates one of hie colleagues by slapping them on the breast:

This one’s from Australia, remember when I mentioned that some suspect that our education systems are being dumbed down:

 

 

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The Irony, Paradox and Contradiction of Milo Yiannopoulos

milo
Milo’s act is nothing new, part circus freak show combined with unemployed pantomime drag act. For his followers though he appears “cutting edge” and “risqué”.

So he’s back. The self proclaimed provocateur, troll queen, out of work pantomime drag act, Milo Yiannopoulos is back. Much like a turd that refuses to go quietly around the u-bend, Yiannopoulos resurfaced last week on NBC, announcing that he will undertake a new tour hell bent on attacking the sensitivities of the over sensitive.

We haven’t seen Milo since his resignation from Breitbart following widespread condemnation of his comments on the gay age of consent, even though this reaction came a year after he initially made the comments. Yes, the comments he made could be construed as inappropriate, but doesn’t the fact that the outrage took a year to be expressed call into question the degree of sincerity and authenticity behind the sentiment?

Now that the dust has settled, and if we’re all honest about it, what really happened was some of the people who find Yianopoulos to be an odious twit,  of which there is no shortage, became aware of some distasteful comments he made on a podcast called the Drunken Peasants. These people saw the opportunity to twist Yiannopoulos’ comments around into arguing that he sympathised with paedophilia. The fact that the outrage occurred over a year after he made the comments can be, perhaps cynically, attributed to Yianopoulos’ increasing fame and the impending release of his new book. Don’t get me wrong, I found Milo’s comments on child abuse to be crass and flippant, but let’s be honest, Yiannopoulos would fellate his own grandfather if he knew it would get him a minutes worth of media exposure.

I know that ­­­whenever anyone starts a sentence by saying, “I’m not homophobic, but…”, they tend to go on to say something extremely homophobic. So let’s see what happens when I give it a whirl. I’m not homophobic, but I get really annoyed when someone uses their sexuality as gimmick to support their argument, and that is precisely what Yiannopoulos does. Like some sort of failed pantomime drag act, Yiannopoulos openly admits to using an outrageously camp style to deliver his message. For people that have lived a sheltered life, this mincing polemicist appears to be avant-garde, the enigmatic paradox of a conservative homosexual is enough to fascinate people and keep them entertained. Add to this his supposed Catholic faith and Yiannopoulos provides us with an act, or character of contradictions, capable of causing considerable cognitive dissonance.

But when I look at this character objectively, I realise that he’s nothing more than a manufactured iconoclast,a giant zeitgeisty contradiction. He talks about basing arguments on facts while espousing a belief in an unprovable supernatural deity. He’s openly homosexual yet claims to be Catholic, despite the fact that homosexuality isn’t accepted by the Catholic church. But Yiannopoulos’ religious experience doesn’t end with him being a Catholic, rather it goes on to include that he was abused by a Catholic priest while he was a minor. This is a perpetual chain of contradictions, contradictions that have been contrived in order to generate interest.

I do find Mr. Yiannopoulos entertaining, in the same way that in the past I have found other drag acts to be. But Yiannopoulos confuses his audience, which doesn’t seem to be an especially difficult thing to do, as they fail to discern between the bawdy, drag entertainment that is paired with an essentially hateful rhetoric. In essence it would be like having Ronald McDonald present a plan for the reintroduction of slavery, it looks fun but hides a sinister message. Milo Yiannopoulos has created a  comical character to deliver a divisive message that people find intriguing. But, he’s a character filled with contradictions, and theses contradictions extend to his message.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole Milo phenomena is how a gay Brit has become a champion for American rights? I mean the irony alone of a British person, whether gay or not, upholding the rights that a country granted themselves after becoming independent of Britain, should make Milo’s platform an impossibility. What’s next, a German lesbian Nazi giving speeches in Tel Aviv on the dangers of antisemitism? Or, what about an executive of a petrochemical company lecturing groups of native Americans on protecting the environment? It just seems to go against the grain, that a Brit is motivated to protect the liberties of a country that got its liberty from the country he is a citizen of.

Sometimes I start to suspect that Milo Yiannopoulos’ concern for the First Amendment might actually be disingenuous, and that he’s just stumbled upon a cause that feeds his insatiable appetite for infamy, and rewards him for expressing the same tired, old opinions ad nauseum, leaving him sounding like a satnav system going round a roundabout. Feminism, Islam, immigration,  freedom of speech, feminism, Islam, immigration, freedom of speech, and on, and on…There’s an election in his own country, doesn’t he feel compelled to weigh in with his polemic discourse, or is he only interested in America because that’s where his circus act, freak show makes the most money? It’s certainly a puzzle. I haven’t seen his desire for standing up for the freedom of speech for the people in say Zimbabwe,  as a former member of the British Commonwealth it would actually make more sense, with the one exception, it wouldn’t make Milo anywhere near as much money.

It’s also interesting to note that Yiannopoulos’ passion for our right to the freedom of speech fails to extend to his own website, which censors all comments before they appear on it. You see the freedom of speech only works for Milo and his supporters when it suits them. Is this hypocritical?

Milo – Why Today’s Troll is just Tomorrow’s Social Justice Warrior

Hasn’t anybody else realised the contradiction inherent in the whole Milo argument? Milo has identified so called Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) as having been the catalyst behind the problems that have developed as a result of unenforced immigration practices, extreme feminism, political correctness,  and a failure to require Islam to adopt western values. And up to a point he’s absolutely right. Where I take issue with Yiannopoulos is with his identifying Social Justice Warriors as being the problem, and I take issue for two reasons.

Firstly, the people who riot, get angry, and generally act irrationally at the slightest provocation, on issues that don’t directly affect them aren’t SJW’s, they’re simply idiots. And as such idiots are everywhere, like Steve Miller once said, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. Idiocy permeates across the entirety of the political spectrum. Branding idiots as SJW’s is giving idiocy more credit than it deserves. These people are what they are, idiots. To me at least it appears ironic that today we’re calling idiots, Social Justice Warriors, it sounds like a politically correct way of just referring to idiocy.

Secondly, let’s look at a definition of Social Justice Warrior and compare that to what Milo Yiannopoulos himself does:

A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=social%20justice%20warrior

  • The first sentence of the definition:

“…an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.”

Milo fulfils this criteria thus:

Milo’s whole argument is centred around our right to the freedom of expression. Given that this is the protected by first amendment it isn’t unreasonable to infer that the freedom of speech is considered the most fundamental of our inalienable rights. Therefore, isn’t anyone who believes there is a need to campaign for it, to some degree campaigning for social justice, and QED must themselves be a Social Justice Warrior?

  • The second sentence of the definition states:

A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of.

The fact that there is a British man arguing for American constitutional rights, would appear to me to be incongruous and therefore disingenuous. What’s next, a campaign against pig farming subsidies in Latvia?

  • The third sentence of the definition of a Social Justice Warrior reads:

They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return.

Ben Shapiro is the brainchild of the majority of Yiannopouolos’ opinions. Both were former employees at Breitbart, essentially their only difference is the proclivity one of them has for thinking that wearing a dress strengthens their message.

  • The final sentence of the defeinition states:

They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

As a contrarian, a polemicist, an iconoclast and self professed troll, Yiannopoulos, like any good entertainer, plays to the expectations of his audience. To his credit Yiannopoulos has full awareness of what has garnered him so much interest, and he continues to feed it. This is largely why we’ve never seen any change in his act nor his message. Yiannopoulos sounds controversial, but in essence all he is saying is exactly what is audience hopes he will, a message that challenges the establishment and political correctness. A message that Milo Yiannopoulos appears willing to continue to repeat for as long as there are people willing to listen to him and give him their money.

Milo Yiannopoulos is little more than a carefully created character, part circus freak, part drag act. He’s made politics accessible to a generation that were raised by games consoles as opposed to parents. Yiannopoulos’ greatest appeal is that he makes his audience feel that they are more intelligent by feeding them with arguements that challenge the status quo. But at the end of the day it’s nothing more than an act, if P. T. Barnum were alive today Milo Yiannopoulos would be placed centre stage, because both of them believe in the following Barnum saying:

quote-there-s-a-sucker-born-every-minute-p-t-barnum-303184

Post Script

Only hours after I posted this article, Milo Yiannopoulos released tasteless and crass comments in the wake of the terrorist attack st the Manchester Arena. Yiannopoulos that suggested that Ariana Grande sympathises with Islamic extremism. For a man who apparently bases his reasoning on facts, we should ll be asking what proof he has for this outrageous suggestion.

Much of the hatred towards Grande stems from comments she made in a doughnut shop over 2 years ago. I find it ironic, hypocritical even, that conservatives can’t forget this while they have told us all to stop talking about a president and his pussy grabbing comments. I’m starting to suspect that this up surge of conservatism led by Mr. Yiannopoulos is just a hypocritical as the loony liberals who preceded them.

The Information, Communication, Technology Paradox or Why the Internet is for Idiots

I’ve written a blog now for maybe a couple of years.

Much of what I choose to write about is irreverent, and never meant to be taken seriously.

This week I was going to continue with my rants on the apparent rise of fascism across Europe and the United States. Then the British Prime Minister, Theresa (I haven’t got a mandate) May – a woman who has only won the right to represent her constituency of 74,000 people, but has found herself leading the 64 million people of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland through the countries most delicate period of time since the end of World War II – announces a “snap” election.

I was going to write about this, this “snap” election. Something that a piece of legislation passed in 2011 called “The Fixed Terms Parliament Act” was supposed to have brought an end to. But no, the woman with no mandate to even lead the U.K in the first place was now defecating over the final shreds of our democratic dignity. I was incensed, and this was to be my theme.

But, it was then I had an epiphany. It was as if the sky was torn asunder and a heavenly light, shone down on me. And the almighty asked me a question “what right do you have to spread your ill informed, personal opinions using technology that can reach almost anyone on the planet,  I mean who the fuck do you think you are, some kind of god or something?”

In less biblical terms what happened was, I lost my internet connection for 12 hours and was hit by the realization that I was free from its limitless bullshit. The seemingly infinite and boundless “reckonings” of half brained people passing on their opinions of the things that they rarely half understand.

What Happens When Advanced Technology for Communication is Supported by Stone Age Reasoning?

An apocalyptic explosion of bullshit. When mankind’s understandable passion to protect their unalienable right to the freedom of expression, is combined with the kind of rapid improvements in the technology of communication that we have seen over the past 20 years, this facilitates, an apocalyptic explosion of  bullshit. Or, what I’m choosing to call the information, communication, technology paradox.

As our capability to communicate has risen to the levels of what only a generation ago the authors of science fiction could only have dreamt about, the information that the masses have to communicate using this technology, is founded upon the same logical principles of thought as those people who lived during the dark ages. And I don’t wish to come across as being rude, but the majority of us have about the same degree of scientific understanding as a person that lived in the dark ages. Yes many of us know the term DNA, I’d even be brave enough to suggest that over half of us can spell DNA, but few of us actually understand it. The gulf between knowledge and understanding has never been greater, as is our lack of awareness of this gulf. I’ll prove through the use of  theoretical anecdote.

Imagine you are transported in space and time to Mainz, Germany and the year 1439. You are standing in a room with Johannes Guttenberg and his workers, who over a great deal of time, have painstakingly developed the concept of, movable type. They have empowered themselves to reproduce the written word at a speed, and in volumes, that were hitherto unthinkable. This was a time when the only book that existed was essentially the Bible, and its reproduction was overseen by being copied out, by hand, by very dull, antisocial men, living in monasteries. But, here was Guttenberg, with the power to spread new ideas, and there’s you standing there, nearly 600 years from the future stood next to him. Aside from adopting the mantle of some type of Nostradamus figure using your knowledge of future events, what knowledge would you encourage Guttenberg to disseminate? Could you contribute to stopping the spread of diseases like the plague? Could you introduce them to, and provide them with electricity? Could you improve on the abacus that was still being used, or Blaise Pascal’s adding machine that wouldn’t be invented for another 150 years? You could describe television and radio, but how many of you could describe the design and engineering necessary in order to make one? You could describe what a far simpler device like a calculator looks like and does, but again few of us could make one. You could describe an electric torch, but again, how many of us understand it well enough to actually tell someone how to make one? In all eventuality few of us would be able to engineer a simple toothbrush that resembles anything similar to what a toothbrush looks like today.

My point is simple; while we are  surrounded today, by what is a wealth of technology that allows us to do things that a person 600 years ago would be more likely to assume came from another planet, than resulting from the processes of rigorous scientific reasoning and refined techniques of engineering, that allowed the development of such technology. While this technology has been made for the use of almost anybody with opposable thumbs, it doesn’t acvtually make us any smarter. We can all use a television, a smartphone, a computer and a calculator, but I would hazard a guess that less than 1% of us have anything more than a very rudimentary understanding of how any of this technology actually works. Just because we have calculators to help us do sums faster doesn’t necessarily make all of us better mathematicians than the man using the abacus. For some of us the calculator is a tool that we learn to master and that allows us to do very advanced mathematical calculations. Calculations that are used in architecture and engineering, these are examples of when a tool like a calculator or a computer can further our understanding, but it is only a very small minority of people that actually utilize modern technology as a means to develop more advanced technology. For the vast majority of us technology is synonymous with communication, and what we communicate are ideas that are scarcely more evolved or complex than were entertained by the minds of the average inhabitant during the dark ages.

Quantum physicist Richard Feynman, considered by most as only second to Albert Einstein, and considered by a few as superior, tells us the difference between knowing the names things and understanding the nature of things. Go on you can do it, it’s only 2 minutes long, and it involves moving pictures and sounds.

The year of the invention of the Guttenberg press,  is probably the invention that draws the most parallels to the internet. In my earlier, theoretical anecdote, I tried to argue the point that very few of us actually understand much that we could have persuaded it was worthwhile for Guttenberg to consider printing. Indeed much of the printing done by Guttenberg’s presses was just to reproduce more and more copies of the Bible. It must be said however that it Guttenberg’s printing press facilitated the Bible to be translated out of Latin, thus replacing it as the Lingua Franca, and enabled the development of the vernacular of the European Languages we know today. And here we see a parallel, hasn’t the Internet done a similar thing for language with its use of emoticons, emojis, netlingo and chat acronyms.

YY4U? LMFAO, ne-wayz this is BBB, LAGNAF instead.

You might wish to refer to the attached:

http://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php

The Internet can’t Create Knowledge, Communication Leads to the Decay of Knowledge

The internet can’t create information, it can’t create knowledge. Two scientists sharing ideas and data do use the Internet to create new findings and formulate new hypotheses, but this constitutes such an infinitesimally small amount of the actual communication that takes place over the Internet; the majority is half brained idiots treating us to “what they reckon”.

In essence the Internet is being predominantly used as a machine that enables us to play the classic children’s  party game “Chinese Whispers”, on a global level. Does this mean the game should no longer be called Chinese whispers? Or, does it covertly tell us about the Chinese aim for global domination? Why not write to me and tell me what you reckon?

The internet draws us all together so closely, it’s probable that it reduces Milgram’s hypothesis of the 7 degrees of separation down to 4 or 5. In today’s game of Chinese whispers, when the child passes on the half understood, garbled reckoning they received from their friend, who they themselves only half understood the message that they received, a process that we could trace back ad nauseum, but I’m sure you get the point. Inevitably the further down the line you are of this convoluted, twisted chain, of what people reckon means that you’re the recipient of a piece of information, that’s of about as much use as an electric cucumber toothbrush.

But the problem gets compounded further. This misinformation is no longer timidly whispered into the ear of the person next in line. If it’s true, that in space nobody hears you scream, on the internet nobody hears you whisper, instead half understood, distorted reckonings are relayed from one friend/acquaintance to another, constantly being molded to fit the reckonings of the new disseminator, and spread around the globe at nigh on the speed of light, or at the very least to their 5,000 or so Facebook friends. You can’t play Chinese whispers on the internet. On the internet nobody hears your whispers, on the internet there are no whispers, just whirlpools and maelstroms of misinformation and a digital universe comprised nearly 100% pure, bullshit reckonings.

I used to believe that the internet marked the democratization of information. Today I’m left feeling like I must have been somewhat of a naive twat. How completely ignorant I was to have worn the rose tinted spectacles through which I  first viewed the technological marvel of the Internet. you see there’s nothing wrong with the Internet itself. As a tool it retains the enormous potential to educate and inform almost every single person on the planet. So how can I claim there is a paradox and that it is actually contributing to the dumbing down of the majority of us?

Simple, any tool is only as good as the person that operates it, and the majority of mankind are just utter ass hats, that believe, just because we can use hi-tech equipment that we ourselves must be more advanced. Well here’s a clip of monkeys using an iPad, there’s a load more on YouTube, this is by no means a one off:

What should have become quite apparent from this short video is that whilst monkeys are an intelligent primate, the fact that they can use an iPad should confirm that using this advanced technology doesn’t require a highly developed mind. Indeed, the technology of today is designed to be as intuitive to use as possible, hence we see a monkey using it.

There may be no greater evidence that supports the intuitive ease with which we can use this most advanced technology than the fact that a method of schooling called Waldorf Schools, is the education of choice for the children of employees in the Silicon Valley. What makes Waldorf education unique, is that it deprives its students the use of all forms of technology, no tablets, mobile phones, computers or calculators are allowed. They claim “it’s out with technology and in with imagination”. As mantras go I found this to be quite underwhelming, unimaginative, and well, frankly shit. But, there can be no greater endorsement of this anti technological form of education, than the fact that it’s highly endorsed by those who are at the cutting edge of developing such technology.

The very nature of a paradox tends to make them a bitter pill to swallow. Paradoxes tend to have a habit of promising us one thing while in actual fact leaving us with something totally unexpected, and usually unpleasant. The information, communication, technology paradox might just be the paradox that will go onto destroy the hubris of mankind. This is a significant statement that deserves to be thoroughly explained, but if I CBB G2G & FAP @ JAV pron.

To me the damage that the Internet is doing to the knowledge and understanding of the average person is ineffable, so I’ll leave you with my favourite ever video on YouTube, 4 dwarfs racing a camel, which to some extent proves my point better than I ever could:

Some quotes from history that might have foreshadowed our slough of despond:

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” Thomas Jefferson

“I know one thing; that I know nothing” – Sometimes referred to as the Socratic paradox

The sources of my reckonings:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed-term_Parliaments_Act_2011

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-general-election-fixed-term-parliaments-act-a7688426.html

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/dec/02/schools-that-ban-tablets-traditional-education-silicon-valley-london

http://www.businessinsider.com/waldorf-silicon-valley-school-shuns-technology-2017-3

http://www.gradesaver.com/amusing-ourselves-to-death/study-guide/summary-chapters-3-5

The “Game of Life” – Greed, Nazis, Mathematicians, Homophobia, Ryan Leaf and Christmas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was young I loved to play board games, as the youngest child, they presented me with an almost level playing field upon which I could best my parents or older brother. Monopoly and Cluedo were the staple family favourites although my father lacked the patience required for Monopoly.

I remember once while on holiday in Devon, the whole family had been locked inside a caravan not much bigger than a coffin, as for two weeks rain had blown horizontally across the moors and drummed its random, frantic, staccato rhythms against the caravan’s plastic windows. I loved that holiday, no other holiday had ever presented the family with such an opportunity to spend time together playing games. But, upon reflection I feel a great amount of sympathy for my father. A working man doesn’t get much holiday, and to be given no choice but to spend it in such claustrophobic conditions at the hands of Britain’s most inclement weather conditions started to shred his nerves. Subsequently we never holidayed in Britain again.

Reaganomics
Of course back in those days presidents couldn’t rely on powerpoint and instead would have to stay up late coloring in graphs by hand.

For what must have been two or three days we played nothing but 20 questions with such rapidity, frequency, intensity and ferocity, that what was once nothing more than an innocent parlor game had become more like an interrogation at Auschwitz. Playing 20 questions came to an end once we had all become so telepathically sensitive to one another’s ways of thinking that people were often making correct guesses after only two or three questions had been asked. To prevent the further development of the hive mind under the pressure of cabin fever conditions, we moved on to Monopoly.

It’s hard to recall, but we were somewhere into our third or fourth day of an epic Monopoly marathon, when suddenly my father created an economic chaos, with what appeared to me to be the touch impulsive decision to sell Bond street, Regent Street and Oxford Street all for 1 pound each. Now admittedly as a nine year old boy I had never visited any of these locations and therefore suspected that my father’s worldly knowledge formed the foundation of his decision. Maybe he had insider knowledge that a freeway was to be built through this area of London or perhaps it was being considered for a landfill site. Whatever his reasons were, I quickly learned that Monopoly is not really a game that rewards philanthropy as my father was quickly eliminated, leaving him free to stretch his legs and pace the entire length (6 feet) of the caravan, and to have some quiet time alone watching the raindrops zigzag their way down the plastic windows. I can’t remember who it was that ultimately benefited by picking up such prime London real estate for 3 pounds, but I am pretty sure that they went on to win the game, but that’s not what mattered. I blame this incident for sowing the seeds of my doubt towards  capitalism and consumerism. After all This was in the midst of the opulent 80’s, a time that saw the zenith of the capitalist dream, Dallas and Dynasty were being viewed by millions, and Gordon Geko’s mantra “greed was good,”greed-521 succinctly encapsulated the meaning of a decade. As a child growing up in the in this society I had until that point regarded the accumulation of wealth as a fun and worthwhile, even noble cause. I was little more than a naive,brainwashed lovechild from the loins of Reaganomics, the belief that there would be such an abundance of wealth being generated by the rich the they would literally run out of places to put it, and therefore it would overflow and “trickle down” to the plebs like me. But through my father’s adoption of the Kerouacian approach to economics, which considers money as “ruining the sanctity of the moment”, had opened my eyes and I started to appreciate that maybe there was more to life than going around in circles, accumulating wealth in some contrived sense of competition where really there is no one to compete against. Instead you can opt out, go on the road, or in my fathers case up the other end of the caravan. Selling up, opting out and going to sit by himself, was my father’s symbolic act of resistance against the the capitalist dogma of the 80’s materialist economic machine. If he was going to be forced to into incarceration on a wet windswept moor, he would be damned if he was going to spend his time playing games that simulated his working life.

Due to my father’s lack of patience and his ability to create an economic crisis any Wall Street trader would have been proud of, one Christmas we bought the Game of Life. Now the Game of Life is a lot like Monopoly insofar as it judges the success of a person’s life purely through the accumulation of wealth, but it is targeted for an audience with a shorter attention span. Perhaps its most significant difference to Monopoly is that the Game of Life has a definite end point to it, you reach the end of the board and enter a retirement home. It must have been decided that this presented my brother and I the opportunity to learn fiscal responsibilities whilst giving my father the reassurance and hope that the banality would last no more than a couple of hours, after which he would be free to go and lie under a car and get oil all over himself.

It all sounded to good to be true, a simulated journey through life. A classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the character of capitalism. It represented a salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in western society. But as is really the case the Game of Life is the product of a demented imagination. The Game of Life is what every family would have been made to play on a Saturday night if the Nazi’s had won the war. It represents the sixth Reich and what they would have perceived as entertainment.

Let us take a look at the board. At first glance the board takes on the appearance of having been Stock Photo of Life Game (3)designed by some insecure colour blind, fascist, amidst the throes of a hideously, depraved acid trip. It is easily possible for even the most slow witted person to determine , that the “Game of Life” really bears little resemblance to life but is more of a spiritual representation of post-apocalyptic world in which the inhabitants had long ago lost their wills to live. But, enough of these nebulous generalities and find some cold hard facts, look the beast squarely in the eye and gain an understanding as to how this absurd game was conceived.

The game was devised by John Horton Conway, who to the best of my knowledge is neither a Satanist nor a Nazi, and has never indulged in LSD. But, what John has done though is to build himself quite an impressive ivory tower, having gained his undergraduate and PhD from Cambridge, he is presently Professor in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University.

250px-John_H_Conway_2005_(cropped)
John Horton Conway, mathematical genius; probably. Creator of twisted disturbing games; most definitely.
Gospers_glider_gun
This is an example of a cellular automaton as used in Conway’s Game of Life. What it is exactly is hard to tell, but then again so is the “game of Life”. particularly ironic is that I find watching this more entertaining than playing the game. If this is your thing you might like this http://www.emergentuniverse.org/#/life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In technical Game Theory jargon (maybe the only area of advanced mathematics of any interest(see John Nash, “A Beautiful Mind”) the game is an example of “cellular automaton”, which apparently is represented by the curios little animation above. It all sounds rather impressive but leaves me wondering, why all my memories of playing the game are so crap? To answer this question I needed to revisit my childhood and with little effort I was soon playing online.

http://www.gamehouse.com/download-games/the-game-of-life#prettyPhoto

GOLcar
As the protagonist of several significant traffic accidents, it would be hypocritical of me to start lecturing about the importance of road safety, but even to me this appears a little reckless.

The first piece of imagery that caused me some level of cognitive dissonance, more so than  reducing myself to a pale blue plastic peg , indeed the peg  probably has greater social skills, was that then I had to choose the colour of my car upon which I would sit. Throughout the experience this was a feature I never got beyond, I just couldn’t understand its meaning or purpose. In all probability the game of life would be a short one if we were to observe such a reckless approach to vehicular safety.

143267-gameoflife_original
Dog turd or volcano, it’s a way of representing the passage of time that Hawking has failed to mention. Anyhow the philosophy of ‘free will’ is replaced by a fate dispensing spinner.

The method by which you progress through life, the instrument used for simulating the passing of tim, is a psychedelic spinner placed either in a volcano, or an exceptionally large dog turd. Either way adds to the games anarchic, semiotic nature, that the player has at least subconsciously been aware of from the moment of taking the lid off the box.

ryanleaf
The 1998 NFL draft, Indianapolis have the first pick and are in need of a quarterback. It just so happens that the top 2 players in the draft that year are quarterbacks, Ryan Leaf and some guy called Peyton Manning. As they say the rest is history……..

I proceeded the game against one computer character “Bernard”. Within no time Bernard had become a sports personality earning $60,000, at what frequency is not specified. It would be hard to imagine any sports personality earning as little as $60,000 per year, perhaps with the exception maybe of erstwhile San Diego quarterback Ryan Leaf who probably spent nearly as much time in prison as he did in the NFL and achieved a higher quarterback rating there as well.

With in no time and requiring no discernible effort to be put into studying, I became a lawyer earning $100,000 per???? Although saddled with student debt I felt confident I would beat the jock.  Bernard proceeded down raod the when all of a sudden, without even leaving the car, he got married, no dating, no engagement, he just got married, to the best of my knowledge Bernard had never even met the girl. This rash approach to the sanctity of marriage seemed a touch flippant. I was uncomfortable that at the same point along the path everyone gets married, was there a divorce cul-de-sac further down the road? I was starting to feel my anxiety taking a hold of me, as such important lifestyle decisions were being arbitrarily decided by a spinner and the boards commands. In essence I had sacrificed my right to free will, my life was out of my hands. And perhaps most offensively to the homosexual community it was automatically assumed that Bernard was heterosexual.

Within no time Bernard, the sports personality, had amassed a  in excess $250,000 without having set foot outside of his car. I could only assume he was some kind of professional sports car  driver, even though having your wife sat on top of the car with you at the time was certainly something I had never heard of in the history of motorsports. Compounding this conundrum was the fact that on his next turn Bernard’s wife had twins, whom they quickly sat on top of the car and carried on their way. How these children were conceived is puzzling given the very asexual nature of the pegs, leading me to assume Bernard had abducted them. Meanwhile I had to show for myself was a wife and a log cabin.

For some reason I decided to take the opportunity to go back to college and retrained as an accountant, I was now earning 40% less than I was before as a Lawyer, surely casting into doubt any genuine accountancy skills. The next lifestyle choice came with the options “Take the Family Path” or “Continue with the Game of Life”. I thought this was pretty harsh, inferring in someway that the Game of Life ends once having a family. I decided to take the family route but sadly had no children, for no reason. It appears that infertility hides insidiously within the construct of cellular automaton games.

Bernard and his army of children, to rub salt into the wound had also adopted a pet, and were driving off into the sunset. My wife and I however, appeared bitter and twisted by our inability to have children, we drove on in silence, communication dropped to the level of dumb beasts, seething in resentment for one another.

The next fork in the road offered the stark choices to take “The Risky Path of Life” or “The Safe Path of Life”. When playing a game like this what kind of anally retentive person picks the safe path? I had no idea what the risks were involved but I hoped they would fill the void of my childless marriage. I had visions of having to cram heroin up my ass and cross international borders, or robbing banks. What actually transpired was I could gamble but it even limited the amount. So I gambled as much and as hard as I could, seeing the gap of relative wealth get ever wider with Bernard, who I must say with 4 children and a pet didn’t seem to be living the kind of lifestyle I would usually associate with a sports star.

My wife and I rolled into the retirement home while Bernard was still out on the highways and byways of life, making more money, having more fun. By the time  he arrived at the retirement home, (to which he had brought all his children, something I thught to be a little odd) my wife had electrocuted herself while drying her hair in the shower. Although soundly beaten by Bernard, I did finish the game with just short of a million dollars, which would appear to me an over inflated amount to be considered as a failure.

It truely is a rubbish game for the reason that no matter how reckless you are, you cannot be Ryan Leaf. No matter how much you try, you can’t break the law, develop a drug habit, run a ponzi scheme, or even sleep with your opponent’s wife. There are no crippling illnesses or injuries, even though you spend your whole life riding on top of a car. In that respect the Game of Life is similar to education, in that no matter how recklessly one pursues it, no one ever really fails, some people just succeed more.  And that flies in the face of everything Darwin stood for, survival of the fittest has now become a celebration of the mediocre.deathspiral42 This all fits into my views on the dumbing down of our societies, which I’ll leave for another day.

From my own personal perspective I found it liberating as the board didn’t contain
the “death spiral” upon which I spend much of my time. A realistic version of the Game of Life would have this, along with the “divorce cul-de-sac” and god forbid, the ultimate bummer, “The Ryan Leaf” card.

 

Gonzo symbol
too strange to live, too rare to die.