Saturday, July 30, 2016


Travelling is an ordeal in which we as human beings need to pull together in order to urvive said ordeal with minimal trauma, and for the most part, we as human beings are quite good at recognizing in eachother our common humanity and dignity.

If you don't take proper security measures you have to stay in a lot of hostel dorms before you get robbed, even though your bags can be ripe for rifling through for months. You'd have to go to a lot of public events, more than most lifetimes before being effected by a terrorist attack (even with the recent upswing in Europe).

Which is to say humans are more often truly unlucky than they are vulnerable. Most people have no trouble being considerate.

And there are cultures where the line is drawn on a side I can't stand on, the Japanese for example, are anti listening to music on public transport through headphones. Fuck that, you like to nap on trains and demand NO background noise? I'm going to be a 'foreign barbarian' in these circumstances because I can't dignify the demands of a workaholic culture that demands office workers and students get their sleep on commutes.

Last week I took a train to Milan, they had cancelled the regional train meaning the intercity was packed with people (like me) with no reserved seats. It's a bit of a pain, but basically when someone comes with a ticket for the seat I'm occupying I jump up, because they've paid a premium for this train and that seat. Really I was fortunate to get to sit for half the journey.

But I wound up standing next to a mother and child in the aisle for about an hour.

The mother being italian made a seat for her 10 year old out of their luggage.

The kid was actually pretty cute for a 10 year old. Playing a nintendo ds that he couldn't keep himself from commentating and occasionally busting into the old spiderman theme song.

Here's the thing, his mum constantly told him off, or more accurately that it was 'enough' noise wise. Eventually when he couldn't bring himself to comply, she took the DS away from him and the kid to his credit did not bust into a tantrum like a true infant.

Flash forward to yesterday, and I was bussing it from Milan to Zurich, a lower class of transport with low low prices to match. A 4 hour trip blew out into a 7 hour one and nobody was outraged because that is what we had paid for afterall.

I got myself a window seat by virtue of some garbage human being leaving their garbage on the seat such that the 80% of passengers that boarded before me, passed over it. Alas the bus was full, which meant much as I hopedand prayed that the seat next to me was to remain empty, it was not going to be the case.

And of course, near last to board the bus were the butterballs. A trio of relatives who were approaching a stature of true roundness, short such that their girth made them more circular than fat. A mother and two sons whom I guesstimate were around 12 and 14 years old.

Despite a carb on carb diet with a side of carbs and a gelati chaser, it was actually super rare to see fat people or kids in Genoa, not so in Melbourne, where I'm told being overweight as a kid is now so common it is no longer grounds to be picked on. But given the last three months there was some novelty in seing a real life German exchange student Uter, and he was full of chocolate.

So first quandry is that in this life it is actually possible to wind up in a physical condition where one cannot help but encroach on the personal space of others and who is more at fault? The kid stuffed with wurstel or the draftsman that decided how wide seats need to be in this day and age?

Personally I don't feel, or want to live in a world where such a bus ride is something a person is expected to train for, to be match fit for. The moment this kids soft rolls settled into the chair and pushed me towards my window views of the Swiss mountains, valleys and lakes was the moment I recognized that this was such a time where we recognize our common humanity, economic pressures and that 'this too shall pass'.

I was unlucky. So were two other window seat holders that scored the other family members. But that's it. The butterballs are unlucky every single time.

Australian law is very clear, you can't discriminate based on anything people can't change, or can't change easily. Meaning not only is the colour or creed of a person a discrimination no-no, but being fat is too because you can't have a barber trim that off between now and next friday. Tattoos and piercings are another matter because these are generally self-inflicted in a much more deliberate and instantaneous way than weight gain usually is.

I know this, thus I wasn't all 'fucking fatty' so much as 'poor kid' but this reaction caused me some perplexedness.

For example, if it is true that childhood obesity has been normalised, does this kid actually suffer the adverse effects of being a fat kid, or is he now, just a happy little kid? I actually don't know if having to sit on the sidelines at school aths day is that big a deal anymore? If videogames have elbowed actual sport and play out of the picture, this kid could be a jock in todays videogame currency because he pwns noobs on smash bros.

Which in turn, I'm not for the way the little darwinian beasts known as 'children' handle enforcing societal norms by bullying the non-normal kids like fat kids, but at the same time, I'm not exactly okay with this kid being under the impression that he is just 'fine'.

Picking on the fat kid is a method children have been trying for centuries and the results in both weight loss and mental health are to say the least unimpressive. I guess the ideal would be if a kid could acknowledge they are overweight with the same cold emotion I acknowledge I am physically incapable of playing in the NBA, or getting older not younger. These realizations can motivate actions without having me burst into uncontrollable tears.

But Uter was unable to cope with boredom, or low blood sugar levels. And while I'm sure both were costly unpleasant states for him, the cost was imposed on me also.

I witnessed for my first time, what happens to a kid-these-days when deprived of internet connectivity. This kid quite literally did not know what to do. It couldn't occur to him to put his tablet away, so he dicked around furiously with trying to drag icons around on the screen, and trying to make a movie from the tablets photo album (not as creative as it sounds). At no point in the 7 hours did he conclude that his ipad was not going to happen. I know at his age, I barely had any tolerance for long road trips, our family got bookish (until we got car sick) but a tablet depending on wifi would be the equivalent of me packing a coloring book and discovering I had no color pencils, crayons etc. It would ruin my seven hour road trip, for sure. It's just far less likely to happen than being blindsided by no wi-fi access. Furthermore, the old analogue methods of distraction and entertainment are being forgotten, thus a kid is far less likely to be prepared for a long haul.

Simultaneously, atsome point in childhood I learned how to space out, how to entertain myself with introspection and imagination. One saving grace was Uter didn't try to sleep on my shoulder, for all his obliviousness to my personal space.

I notice a slight implication that I hold Uter responsible for not bringing a coloring book or anything not dependent on battery life and connectivity to pass time by. Which turns to Uter's mama. All I have is inference mind you, observations of behavior.

I feel Uter was the most annoying person to sit next to on the bus, but truth be told, his mum was the first to annoy me and the impression was formed before I ever saw them. I heard her first and knew instantly that here were those exceptional people who didn't recognize our common humanity and instead pursued their own relief oblivious to the sacrifices imposed on others.

I saw Uter's butt cleavage because his mother insisted he help adjust her seat. I saw her kids during a 7 hour trip eat half a large pizza each, bread rolls and salami, gummi bears, 1.25l of coke, some pastries stuffed with hotdogs and then during a pitstop break they loaded up on fanta and lollipops.

This was the ostensible provisions for a 4 hour bus trip, not presumably for the 7 I at least did not foresee. It is hard to extend to mama the benefit of the doubt, that this exceptionally poor diet was circumstantial to travelling, a treat, so to speak. My intuition was that this family was maintaining a functional life in the grips of a severe and psychologically hereditary addiction.

As in, this wasn't a 'treat' or cheat day, nothing, particularly not the fanta purchase indicated any particular concern about nutrition, or the adverse effects of a refined sugar no fiber diet.

And I don't eat healthy myself. At all, I just flatter myself that should I be responsible for children, and greater society, I would be quite hypocritical as to what I feed them as compared to what I feel fit for my own consumption.

To some extent I can credit rising living costs, two income household driven time poverty and social isolation as contributing factors, but nothing bar addiction for me explains the phenomena of parents feeding junk food to their kids through holes in a fence once Jamie Oliver takes over their school.

And speaking of British people, David Mitchell did a radio show on manners earlier this year that featured the role of primary education in socialising children, from completely ego centric to aware of others.

At what age do we stop cutting kids slack for being unaware of others? Toddlers can behave in ways that would get my beautiful face broken and we find it adorable and endearing. But at 10-12 years old we are heading into the quagmire of 'the slap' territory. My question is honest because I forget what I was like at 12 years old. Far more prone to blunders in selfish behavior  (and nobody ever gets cured completely of inconsiderate behavior) but at least intellectually aware of manners and politeness, aware even that strangers were to be respected, perhaps more so then than feared.

Given Uter's mother encouraged him to try and get off the bus before everyone else ie. Push to the front of the aisle, I have nothing to draw upon in defence of her having any sense of manners, or others.

Even adjusted for cultural differences, the butterball family appeared to be the people that make travel a dread worthy ordeal, of which the social contract foists harm-minimizing as the only viable course of action. It isn't a prisoner's dilemma game theory wise, and the rest of the passengers to humanities credit new that meeting inconsiderate behavior with more inconsiderate behaviour is how nobody survives a 7 hourr bus trip.

I just notice Milan train mum's ability to both cut her kid sufficient slack for being a kid while demonstrating if anything, too much consideration for her fellow passengers.

I titled this post butterballs, because I feel it no coincidence that we have three representing family members in rolly poly shape, just asit is no coincidence they were taking the cheapest scummiest form of transport with me, and no coincidence they were less considerate than the train going society. It's a causal web that chases itself around, but when it comes to human decency 7 hours later upon arrival at Zurich there were 6 armed police officers to greet me at the bottom of the steps, and greet me they didn't as I moved to fish out my passport, ignoring me completely and allowing me to open up the bus and grab my (or any bag I fancied with zero scrutiny) as they picked out a nice polite Arabic man to scrutinize his visa and submit to a pat down. Where I could only remark 'oh they are racially profiling'

I'm only going to second guess the work of European Union boarder control work in the current climate but go no further. But if Isis are producing model bus travellers perhaps they should be patting down Uter.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


They say a gentleman doesn't kiss and tell, and so I won't.

Attempting only to divulge information about me, condoms are a reliable, affordable form of birth control and protection from the spread of sexually transmitted infections, as well as having side effects like prolonging the duration of intercoarse. Ribbed and studded condoms can provide all of the above and act as a sexual aide to boot.

Other novelties, who gives a shit.

I'm pro condoms, but I still find them awkward in places. Most obviously one has to  disrupt foreplay at some point to put them on, more stressful (which is to say, not very stressful) is the presumptive act of carrying them around. I have some fear in the back of my mind that should I reveal to my new old lady that I turned up packing rubbers her amorousness may run away from us.

However carrying condoms is less about overconfidence and more about underconfidence that a majority of women will not only be responsible for their own birth control and sexual health but mine too. I would say the ladies should keep their own stash on hand as insurance against stupidity of the moment, but if you're in a relationship with a man he should bear the financial burden of keeping his and your stash stocked. (I hear vaginas are much more expensive than dicks to maintain)

It's refreshing to see the main strip of my adoptive home town sporting condom vending machines, they are actually both visable and plentiful in a country that sports more cathedrals than condom vending machines and plays host to the Vatican. I'm not sure  (because I don't care) whether the current pope is down with condoms, but I like seeing that pragmatism will win out over superstition.

Equally have I been surprised in the secular/agnostic homeland of mine that the condom party seems to have dropped off.

It is one of those things that made me feel out of touch, feel like I was a sexual partner of a bygone era, like I'd been out of the game since one stared at the ceiling and thought of England.

But even women my own age have dumbfounded me with an expressed preference for sex without condoms. People who should, like me be able to remember aids scare campaigns that played during episodes of degrassi junior high, where the character of Dwayne Myers was hiv-positive.

Yes, I was subjected to a scare campaign at an impressionable age, and I accept that my own mother's 'talks' about girls who would want to get pregnant by me did not leave me unscathed.

But rest assured my fondness for condoms is a rational one, following the simple rule of risk taking: you don't risk something important to gain something unimportant. In this case your and their sexual health (and psychological health) and the health and feasibility of potential offspring, your future finances etc in order to gain the incremental pleasure of membrane on membrane action.

Fuck that shit, and if you are into bare back action, or even okay with it, that's fucken stupid. (A judgement I generally refrain from voicing during liasons, I simply insist on the condom)

I don't know to which social factor to attribute a phenomena I percieve but can't substantiate. Given I don't have sex with men, I cannot personally testify as to the general attitude of my gender and how much it contributes to womens willingness to have unprotected sex.

My first inclination is to blame a generational decay in memory. 'The kids these days' have seen the outbreak of sars and swine flu, two epidemiological non-events. Someone barely younger than me can't remember a grim reaper bowling down naked men and women on prime time tv. They are more likely to recall it from modestly successful film 'pride' than childhood.

But this doesn't hold up in the face of partners my own age. Which makes me turn to the greatest shaper  of sexual trends and sexual politics the world over: porn. It is rare to see porn performers using condoms, it may be over two years since I had a porn habit, but I cannot recall any era where condoms did feature in porno scenes.

And just as porn inflates the expectations of what acts men and women will consent to in actual intercourse (yeilding some positive liberation from sexual mores and inhibitions and I fear more negatives particularly for women who may not particularly fancy anal penetration followed by sucking the dick that was inside their colon, but you don't want Johnny-Pokemon-Go-star to say you are bad at sex to all your fb friends.)

Anyway, perhaps porn makes it look like we all are capable of managing the spread of sti's without condoms. This for me though is the most perplexing part, I've been told the measures non-condom users take to indulge their preference for bareback and I fail to see how it can possibly be worth it.

Even with rigorous testing, testing is not a preventative measure, until you test positive, then it simply prevents you from transmitting to someone else, provided you have the sudden change of heart to start being responsible.

Then I've heard second hand accounts of an over-reliance on 'plan B' I regard myself as lazy and a procrastinator (I'm procrastinating right now) but this is beyond my expertise, plus as a male, I don't get a fucking say in plan B just plan A.

Anyway use fucking condoms you fucken morons.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


There are many times one is justified even worthy of veneration when called to point out 'we're arguing semantics here' because generally semantics aren't what we actually care about. (So much as our ego) but semantics and the etymology of words can be a great source of insight. (Particularly into foreign culttures)

Now is one of those times when I'm seeking that insight, because to describe my state in the colloquial currency would be 'in love' a state I quite enjoy.

But to me the words suggest a misleading description of the state, one that is possibly not likely to mislead anyone given how universal the experience is, but nevertheless here I go.

In love seems to describe that we have walked 'in' to a new environment, a chamber, a room. Our internal state interacts with an external phenomena of love. My experience is quite the oposite, love invades my internal state changing ultimately how I interact with my environment, it colors my perception of reality.

Furthermore being salient and unashamed of this state I enjoy being invaded, I enjoy going, 'oh here it comes!' When a wave washes through me. I enjoy it, but I'm not 'In' love, there's stimulus yes, but that stimulus isn't responsible for how I feel, nothing is doing it to me. I am doing this to everything around me.

Stalkers need to learn this distinction.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

I don't relate to feminism

Thanks to the tablet I write this on's penchant for refreshing every time you go back to a tab in browser or switch between applications I was given the opportunity to rethink the title of this post, originally 'why I don't relate to feminism' a hard case to plead and had me feel the slight sense of foreboding that what I was going to write would be irresponsible. But pruned of the why it suddenly became a 'of course I don't relate to feminism, I'm a white cisgendered hetero normative male who was a former prefect at a private school in a non-diverse regional city, one of the most privileged members of the most privileged class, I don't really relate to being oppressed period.

But I do have a morbid fascination with feminism, and often serious feminist articles about serious issues posted by serious feminist friends amount to clickbait to me. I go read them to experience a small exhilarating horror at how much I (potentially) will dislike the content. (Like addictive behavior it isn't the 'having' but the 'getting'.

And to be sure I'll attempt to disclaim at this point. This post is a complaint, and while I'll no doubt through sheer laziness do a poor job of 'being specific' I am determined to follow rule number two of complaining and doggedly 'own my point of view' and point firmly that I'm talking about myself and myself only as an audience member, not on behalf of all men or 'real men' or any shit category I may belong to. My complaints are a statement of personal preference that I doubt can be expanded to people who share my myers-briggs INTP designation as much as anyone that shares my Libra star sign. Though if my complaints constitute arguments that wind up getting appropriated and repeated by loser MRAs to justify any 'male rights' etc I'll take responsibility for putting them out there but I'll never not think 'male rights' aren't up there as the most worthless things to devote energy to, speaking to the cost benefit analysis of the 'struggle'.

Which in turn, is disclaimer number 2, I devote little to no energy arguing against male rights activists (aforementioned MRAs) because I find them 'beneath contempt' in my behavioral practice though I think of them more as sad, sometimes tragic. I'm generally not in their line of fire so don't have any defensive pressure to engage either. I'll devote energy to complaining about feminist practices though because I want them to win, and step to. I'm in the audience because I want the team to succeed, though like a fan in the basketball stands for all my ideas/complaints I am not qualified to coach.

And this complaint is more or less already undone, I feel in my bones that at some point I read a quote by some civil rights leader the gist of which was 'you can't let the oppressor define the rules of acceptible resistance, that's crazy' I feel like Malcolm X is most likely to have said something to that effect, alas I can't find the actual quote and starting to wonder if I imagined it. But I feel the argument/sentiment has to be respected, oppressors need to recognise that they are only going to deem acceptable ways of resistance they don't feel threatened by and the oppressed need to recognise that oppressors are always going to try this tactic, and so here I go, read on if your morbid curiosity urges you to:

In a simplified binary world my preference is to practitioners and not academics. I've been instilled with a disrespect of academia at an early age, believing without needing a reason, that PhD's were quite useless. Now that I've grown, I have rationales to back my orientation, but my orientation hasn't changed. I've been walked through abridged versions of the history of women's rights movement once, possibly twice but the detail's haven't stuck. I'm left with the impression though, that feminism has a long standing seat in the couch of academia. 'Prominent' feminists are often academics, writing theses an impression reinforced when I read the Wikipedia article on rape culture in an attempt to disambiguafy what that actually is.

I know I'm not the first nor the last to notice that 'feminism' struggles with being an undefined term. I don't identify as feminist though if you define feminism as 'not shitting on women' ie not wanting to intentionally harm women and the simple act of committing not to doing so, then the shoe fits me. If your definition of feminism demands more, like a willingness to make personal sacrifices to stand up for the rights of women, I feel I've been tested with that glass slipper a few times in my life and I am honestly, feminists ugly step sister.

Furthermore, the most common definition I hear of the undefined term is a belief in equality between men and women. (Sometimes 'the sexes' and almost never 'genders') this definition featured on the light hearted ABC series 'Judith Lucy is all woman' and if that's the definition, I'm honestly not a feminist either, since I don't believe in equality so much as equal opportunity. (And equal opportunity may require affirmative action, which I'm all for, but don't personally believe that equality necessarily follows equal opportunity).

So I feel the least misleading and  therefore most honest personal identifier I can adopt is 'not-a-feminist' and thus far it has been my experience that it costs me nothing to do so. Like all my experiences with Johari window exercises. Symmetrically speaking though, I observe that it costs men nothing to identify as feminist too, and as such I have little respect for those that do, I have met one that I intuitively felt would actually pay the price of holding that identity at the expense of their own privelege and I respected him. Later the friend that introduced me to him revealed to me he was trans, which leads me to assume he lead his formative years without male privelege possibly explaining my intuitively extended credibility. Credibility I do not extend myself, based on experience.

I sense I've digressed but the digression has some relevance, it being how complicated undefined terms can be in creating an engaging conversation or even engaging an audience. For example, I've been told third hand that there are people that define all heterosexual sex as rape, something about 'women are oppressed by men' being the definition, Stephen Frye's unfortunate appearance on the Rubin Report (strategically a mansplaining disaster/minefield of a show no matter the intrinsic merit of any content) reported that there exist definitions of rape that include uttering the word itself, though I've never seen this definition exercised in internet land. But I have come across 'all porn is rape' firsthand and conversely there is Dick Dawkins tweet about a spectrum of rape and that there must be acceptable rape on that spectrum some where.

Dawkins probably identifies as a feminist himself, and feminism is to me sufficiently undefined that I believe he could believe it, while simultaneously fitting other definitions of misogyny, though probably not his own.

Part of my morbid curiosity with reading feminist articles like they are clickbait designed for me, comes from the carcrash/trainwreck that is the semantic civil war going on waged over these undefined terms resulting in purity tests and feminist critiques of feminist critiques.

But mostly what I'd complain about is the 'academic tone' most of the writing has. By academic tone, what I'm referring to is the degree of certainty, the 'here's all the answers, I have them and you need to listen' subtext I feel when reading these articles, often driven by sighting studies, reports and prominent academics. Which is not to say that it is the citations and practice of which I object to, its the presentation of the writers subjective reality as objective reality. Almost all perspectives are through a prism, and perspective taking is really hard, the most common hubris I find is when an author confuses projecting for empathy.

For example, the sexism of wolf whistling, has been explained to me as mens assumption that they control public spaces, hence they also assume the role of appraiser when they feel entitled to 'compliment' a woman on her appearance.

It's true, it blue my mind, and practice of projecting that women think about controlling communal spaces. I've been vaguely aware of this battle for control since I was in highschool and trying to predict the deferral rules as to who gets out of the way when students pass eachother walking home on the footpath (facial hair can trump size). It was news to me that women aren't attuned to this contest and don't play.

In an attempt to clarify what I object to tonally speaking though, is that when it was explained to me that 'men think they control public spaces' it was explained in exactly those words, which are wrong. Assuming control of some public space is for the most part no more an exercise in conscious thought than trying to get your shower's temperature just right. In fact I'm pretty sure the conscious brain isn't fast enough to handle the task, possibly why the kids formally diagnosed with aspergers get bullied so readily, lacking the social intuitons to navigate this contest.

Thus telling someone what they are thinking (deliberate oppression) when they witness their own thoughts as 'that wall looks good to lean against' to me just invites men to throw up a wall, because feminist descriptions of oppression almost never describe the lived experience of oppressing in so far as those kinds I can relate to. Admittedly the task of figuring out what thoughts drive behavior is to me impossible, but rarely do I see the concession, let alone explicit acknowledgement that the thoughts described are or are possibly not conscious ones.

Leaving a tone that I experience as descriptions of thought phenomena I know not to exist. This experience serves to explain to me why I come across educated thoughtful young men that feel inclined to share with me refutations of phenomena like mansplaining or manspreading.

Here selected with confirmation bias is a specific example of an article that possesses the academic tone I love to hate. Chosen simply because it was the first I found, and for no other reason. Though I feel I've read many articles in this exact tone, and I'm sure there are more, I would also not assert that this represents feminist writing definitively or generally, nor is the form exclusive to feminists, just that this is the domain I tend to collide with this written behavior most often.

The article 'has all the answers' I'm willing to accept that the history of male oppression of women has resulted in a felt need by feminist writers to try and present ironclad cases backed by research and citations so as to block the male part of the audience from poo-pooing what's presented much as all debaters try to preempt rebuttals of their opposition.

I discovered though, that what academics rigorously set about determining they know through years of primary, secondary research and literature reviews tends to produce poor descriptions of reality in the soft sciences.

Which made comedian Bill Burr a discovery, watch his Conan appearances on Caitlin Jenner or stand up bits about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods, or Rhianna and Chris Brown and you see a tone that I feel is more engaging and entertaining. The opposite of the academic tone.

Bill Burr suspects he is wrong, demonstrates humility regularly and quite articulately describes his struggles to hear the feminist message. I'm not quite sure how to describe his tactics, just state my own preference for listening to a dumb guy trying to figure out the answers while suspecting he is wrong than to a smart guy who is confident he has all the answers and here's what I need to know.

Hayek observed in 'the fatal conceit' that intelligent people tend to overvalue intelligence. A suscinct explanation of why I find all progressives annoying, but I suspect it can translate to academics overvaluing academia and subsequently/mathematically undervaluing practice. Yogi Berra said 'in theory, theory works in practice. In practice it doesn't.'

The rationale I believe that I do not conversely overvalue practice and undervalue theory is that I go to the martial artists for practitioner bedrock, the practices where if your theories are wrong you die and don't get to theorize.

Yes, to move from describing my complaint and owning my point of view to stating MY preferred solution, it would be that somebody write with me in mind as an audience member, somebody who likes ambiguity rather than answers and doesn't respect academia. I would be engaged if the discussions appeared to me as stepping to me rather than watching someone drown in their own hubris. Basically I want my feminism written in this tone. Aka written like a winner.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Can Conformity be overcome?

I have a confession, while overseas I've allowed many personal disciplines to slip, including but not limited to not reading my facebook news feed. And for one particular reason:

Car-crash appeal.

Aka morbid curiosity. It began with the hashtag brexit incident. For those few that have randomly stumbled across this post. I come from Melbourne, Australia as does the vast majority of my social network and overwhelming majority of what fb algorithms allow me to see in my newsfeed.

I must also confess I don't actually know the pigeonholes, but my morbid fascination was around how such a large contingent of remote and uninformed people relative to an issue felt the need to opine on it. Obviously major world news brings with it a wealth of mildly amusing memes, and if it's a 'slow-life day'* sure share a joke.

But the amount of people opining and attempting perhaps to inform me about the brexit honestly baffles me and makes me a little sad. Flash forward not a fortnight and I woke up to the close of polls on election day, a process I'm sufficiently removed from that I've really enjoyed not having to hear anything about the election at all. The early election is a holiday bonus to me. And please don't worry about educating me on our nations preferential voting system and campaign contribution for first preference votes and all of that, I know it, and I am still glad to be spared the inconvenience of voting, in much the same way as buying cheap shoes in a foreign country is a perk above the sunk cost of spending hundreds of dollars on a flight.

What I ravenously picked over my newsfeed for was that which would satiate my appetite for conformity. And I found it in the democrasausage. The overwhelming coverage given to its presence or lack of at a polling station was the common thread to my newsfeed.

Now I'm often described as a cynic or at the very least cynical, whether I accept the charge or not, I get pegged with it and functionally it means that my opinions and observations can be immediately dismissed because everyone knows cynics are bad and that Oscar Wilde quote.

But for the record I'm aware that democrasausage is just a bit of good fun, an accessible way to celebrate Australian irreverence during the solemn duty of voting. At worst celebrating a sausage in bread, and how united everyone is in doing so is a slippery slope argument for Australian Nationalism. I don't think the progressives though are going to slip down that slope though. They'll be back on the streets of Fitzroy looking for 'authentic' Kim Chi before the votes are tallied.

What fascinates me is the inability of technology to transform our lives. We should be, thanks to social media living in an unprecedented age of self awareness, and perhaps we are. What sparks my curiousity is that we behave as if we don't.

Fb changes are most often unwelcome to fb users, and full disclosure, my battle to not install fb messenger is still ongoing, and I'm still hashtag winning. One change I did welcome though was the little box in the upper right hand corner of browser based fb that told me what was trending.

It was a handy salient guide on what not to post about. If the number one trending topic is the x factor finale then that box told me it was covered, for the first time in history (as far as I know) I had something that informed me what topics my opinion was most devalued on. Imagine if you will, planning a holiday overseas and seeing a table of currency exchange rates. Like a true economist lets assume you are indifferent to which country you holiday in, you can see plainly that your money is worth 10 times as much in China as it is in the UK (even post Brexit vote).

The foreign currency market is actually a shitty analogy because it is far more complicated than what 'trending' tells us. Trending tells us how many voices are talking about the same shit, I'm asserting of course that despite all the marketing material out there, social media is not where conversation takes place. Trending tells us what people are shouting, not conversing about. It tells us simply on what topics our opinion is worth dick all.

I don't feel like I was ever particularly prone to posting topical world news related status updates, but admittedly I'm not going to go validate that feeling by trawling through my data. What I'll simply say is that I appreciate the reminder 'trending' gives me to keep statuses personal or fantastical.

I've sited many times the fantastic art/social anthropological project of exactitudes
The Amsterdam based photography project exploring the phenomenon of why people in expressing themselves wind up dressing exactly the same.

This is what I see in the newsfeed, and the interesting paradox offered by the trending/self-awareness age we live in. So I'm a contrarian, my behavior is pretty predictable, whatever people on aggregate find most interesting I find least interesting.

Attention being focused though, as a practice it's easy to determine what is most interesting to the aggregate, but the inverse doesn't really work, there's a multitude of thing people aren't interested in at all. Just like there's millions/billions of people who shae the title of 'world's poorest person' vs the one title holder of 'world's richest person'

What though if there was conformity around contrarian thinking. If you reading this were persuaded to follow my practice of never posting about anything that was 'trending' and this idea went viral?

Well nothing could ever be 'trending' if everyone was anti-trend. Which historically has been a trend before with the rebellious hippies (who all dressed the same) and the punk rockers (who all dress the same) and returning to the springtime of my youth - grunge (who all dressed like lesbians still do) which is to say that being anti-conformist generally results in conformity.

Alternatively though, if everyone actually just kept their status updates and tweets personal, local and possibly non-topical, the trending threshold could be theoretically set real low - like 3-5 people discussing the same thing could be the trendingest topic in the world (presumably all the guests at a dinner party)

But if I can wax cynical, that low threshold is probably only ever going to be a theoretical one. My suspicion is that we are actually on average, not very self aware.

When we watch a Jon Oliver or Seth Myers clip on youtube explaining the Brexit to us, feel a swell of emotions and log onto social media to share that emotion, we don't seem to catch ourselves and laugh saying 'oh gee whiz, I'm acting like a 12th century village peasant running to the town square/tavern whatever to repeat the news I just heard out on a country road, and not like a person living in the 21st century who watches entertainment content not even intended for me as an audience from half a world away through means available to 98% of people I can personally reach in a medium that applies algorithms to ensure that not only I but everyone connected to me tend to see content that already agrees with their opinion. What a quaint waste of my time.' 

It doesn't happen and it probably won't. I will remain fascinated by conformity in the light of self-awareness though because there is no answer and I can't relate to those who derive some small pleasure or comfort to conforming.

I'm sure also there is an exactitudes set for me, my tribe of people who have somehow wound up all dressing the same despite no coordination whatsoever. I'm sure this post has been written and posted by people other than me over recent weeks and years also.

I'd just rather spend an hour writing this than 30 seconds posting a link about the brexit or how my vote is never wasted in the Australian Federal election.

And I'm going to eat whatever the hell I want today. My vote's going towards hamburgers.

*a day where nothing of particular interest happened in your daily actual or mental life.