Tag Archives: Opinions

k-punk on X-Men

In ‘Father, can’t you see I’m burning?’ The death drive in X-Men: The Last Stand, [k-punk](k-punk.abstractdynamics.org) exposes himself as, not only one of the few people of the planet who enjoyed [X-Men 3](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0376994/) but also (correctly in my view) spots a shift from the realistic psychodrama of the previous two to the subtlety of myth.

His fabulous essay spots (with [some help](http://www.cinestatic.com/different_maps/2006/06/x-men-3-last-stand.asp)) Phoenix and Jean as an obvious Shadow-pair, Charles and Magneto as Apollonian and Dionysian Fathers who both fail, the Queer nature of so much of what goes on with the tremendously powerful teenagers (Angel’s bathroom scene!!!) and has lots to say about Wolverine and Jean.

I’m embarrassed that I’d jumped straight to a very populist “it’s not very good because it had too much action and effects and not enough human psychology” reading of the film. People who know my taste in film rely on me to do better than that.

Anyway, if you’ve yet to see X-Men 3, remember as you watch it: it’s not real, it’s [Real](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoj_Zizek#The_Real)!

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Lanier on Meta-Intelligence

To quote [Bruce Sterling](http://blog.wired.com/sterling/index.blog?entry_id=1494783), “When Lanier cares enough to write it, you oughta care enough to read it”.

Jaron Lanier has [a decent contrarian essay](http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge183.html) up on [Edge](http://www.edge.org) about the stupidity of crowds, the decontextualising mess of [Wikipedia](http://www.wikipedia.org) and naivety of [Google](http://www.google.com). Despite the fact that I have been spotted publicly raving about Wikipedia on a number of occasions, I like what he’s saying a lot. In some sense, summed up in this pithy quote from somewhere near the middle:

>The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we’re devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.

Hear, hear.

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Organic groceries and the supermarket system

I’ve been experimenting with [online](http://theorganicgrocer.com.au/eshop/) [organic](http://www.organics4u.com.au/shoponline/home.php) [grocers](http://www.organicfood.com.au/Content_Common/pr-Mixed-Boxes_Classic-Box-Fruit-and-Veg.seo) the last few weeks and I’ve been really surprised by how fresh the fruits and vegetables have been. Whenever I’ve tried shopping for organics at one of the larger supermarkets the organic stuff has always been fairly drab-looking.

It occurs to me that the length of the supply chains involved in the modern supermarket might be the problem. While a lot of vegetables seem to get fumigated, force-ripened and gamma-irradiated, organic vegetables aren’t treated in any of these ways. The consequence is that while a factory-farmed apple might still look shiny and well three months after picking, an organic apple may well look horrid after only a couple of weeks.

It seems to me that supermarkets rely on the long shelf-life of non-organically-farmed vegetables because it can take weeks before the product even gets to the “shelf” from the farm. The online grocers, by contrast, can collate the week’s orders, buy the vegetables at a farmer’s market (within a week of harvest) and get them to the customer 2-3 days later.

Just-In-Time production… short supply chains… three cheers for the Internet! It gets me delicious, fresh organic fruit every week.

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Getting Away With It

Years ago, I listened to a radio interview with some of the guys who created the professional surfing circuit. One interview in particular stuck with me. I have no idea what the guy’s name was, but he said something along the lines of:

>The thing is, we all understood that we’d managed something pretty remarkable getting people to pay us to do what we loved doing. We all knew that in some sense we were getting away with it. I think sometimes that today’s pros take themselves a bit too seriously.

It’s stuck with me, because whenever I meet an artist or a musician or a programmer who loves what they do but carries around this sense of gravitas… that what they do is Important… I can’t help thinking that they need to remember, that anyone who has the immense privilege of making a living doing what they love needs to remember…

You’re getting away with it.

Which is fabulous and more power to you. But instead of writing books and web pages chiding other people about the need to “Get Real” or looking down your nose at people who have gotten themselves stuck doing something less rewarding, try having some humility and compassion, count your blessings and share the love rather than your judgements.

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Weird Things About Airtunes

Airtunes is Apple’s technology that lets you stream music from iTunes to an Airport Express, which in turn connects to your stereo. Net effect: I press play on my Powerbook, music comes out of my stereo downstairs. It’s dead cool.

But… some obvious things that seem easy-ish to do, yet aren’t there.

* Why does no-one sell a snap-on adapter for the iPod that lets you stream from the iPod to the Airport? (they do, it’s called a Powerbook). Probably because Apple hasn’t really published details of how Airtunes works, I guess.
* Why can’t my iTunes be an Airtunes receiver as well as a transmitter? I could switch it into passive mode, connect some nice laptop speakers and let other people stream music via my Powerbook. Sure, I can “pull” music using iTunes sharing, but why not let other people “push” as well?

The problem with so much Apple stuff is that the designs are so integrated, you keep seeing holes to plug.

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When I was a kid, my mum used to school me in the belief that the only person you had control or agency over was yourself. Other people’s heads were their own affair and there was really nothing you could do to affect them. Thus when someone did something that really annoyed you, all you could do was get used to it or get out, really.
I hasten to add that she’s never really believed this herself or at least she doesn’t practise it. Nevertheless, it’s what I took from what she was saying to me as a kid, whether or not she meant it.
I pretty much bought this line until I went to University and started actually living with other adults. That and doing “group dynamics” in my computer subjects taught me that there was both a point to and reasonable methods for negotiating with other people about their behaviour.
Since then I’ve kind of oscillated between these two poles – between accepting the behaviour of others and adapting the behaviour of others through negotiation. When you look at it that way, we’re back to the whole magick religion thing again…
Anyhoo sometimes you get object lessons in the validity of both poles. One is when you meet people who seem to hold some other belief: that you’re some kind of fictional character in their heads whose behaviour can be understood merely by their own introspection rather than by talking to you or getting to know you (Remember Mr Apple?).
I had one of these this weekend. I met this guy on gaydar called Mike (no – you’re not getting his nick – I’m not that mean). I sent him a message, he replied, we swapped numbers, to-ed and fro-ed a bit trying to find a time to catch up. In the end we agreed to meet at a cafe in Newtown.
I sat at the cafe for half an hour until I started to get weirded out and sent him a text message from my phone asking where he was. He replied: “I don’t play games with people who are occupied. Have a nice day.”
I was completely flummoxed. Had he seen me walking up the street with my housemate? Had he inferred that we were partners? What on earth did “occupied” mean?
Turns out I was unable to clarify this because the guy refused to answer any further messages, either by text or voice. Apparently had no interest at all in finding out any more about me after he’d observed whatever he’d observed and concluded whatever he’d concluded. This of course drove me nuts for the rest of the day.
The other quality that completely stymies any negotiation is a complete lack of introspection. I’ve met a few guys recently who are totally unable to give any account of their feelings or their motivations. Not all the time of course, just whenever anything much is at stake. As soon as I question why they do a certain thing… they go completely mute… unable to offer the slightest hint. I’m back in childhood territory: take it or run.
I’m starting to realise that my social group back in Brisbane had some very unusual qualities: mostly thoughtful, often quite introspective, very well-educated people that I met through studying or doing theatre. Stuff we just took for granted, about political opinions, about talking about yourself and how you feel and think, about all sorts of things turn out to be quite rare and unusual things out here in the wider world.
Returning briefly to what I’ve come to call my Monstrous UnDate: this is not the first time my housemate or my gym buddy have been mistaken for boyfriends. I’m almost tempted to start a “Guys Who Aren’t My Boyfriends” gallery, just to throw them off the scent.
The thing that occurs to me is that both guys are Asian and I’m an Anglo – could it be that people think that the only reason we’d be walking around together is if we’re dating? Urgh – what a hideously racist notion…

Brisbane Observations

I spent Easter weekend in Brisbane. It’s terribly unfashionable to admit to having fun in your hometown, but I did. So There.

Things I like about Brisbane:

It’s relaxed within a day of getting off the plane I’ve lost all the stress in my shoulders – which is un-shiftable in Sydney.

It’s pretty lots of river bends and small hills mean that you’re constantly coming upon little vistas with trees and some water. My company’s office balcony looks over a bend in the river and at dusk you’ve got about 200 degrees of fantastic sunset over leafy hills. Oh, that’s right: clouds! I love clouds.

Lots of my oldest friends The whole week I get handed from friend to friend all focussed on sharing what we’ve been up to and being together. That’s a change 🙂

Things I don’t like about Brisbane:

The gay scene It’s tiny, the music is almost all crap (except for my significant ex Keith’s nights which are fantastic). The drag shows are twice as long as I’m prepared to bear. Having said that, the numbers are mostly from the early 70s, so at least it seems like they’re rehearsing a cultural tradition. Just about all mime-drag shits me to tears, but I’d rather listen to a good Monroe number than the latest crap from J.Lo…

Brisbane: nine hats… and the crow flies backwards