Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Evolution of an opinion.

don't deserve to be robbed

A convtroversial picture to get a conversation started.

I know I’ve been away for a bit. It’s because of the picture above. I created this because it was something I was genuinely interested in knowing the answer to: why is this image different from the “Still don’t deserve to be raped” images going around the Internet and social media? My contention: I never want to blame the victim for things that happen. The reason why bad things happen to people is because there are bad people out there who don’t care about human rights. However, knowing that there are evil people in the world who do the wrong thing even with all of our laws and protections in place, isn’t it a good idea to make yourself less of a target?

That was my opinion. So I created this picture. I posted it privately on Facebook, only to my friends. And I invited conversation. I wanted to go through the conversation and post a summary of what was said. But I honestly think that the conversation shows the explanations and crossing of lines better than my summary ever could. So I’m posting the whole thing, names changed to protect the opinionated. And no, I don’t believe the picture above is a good picture to put out there. But as one of the conversationers says: the more conversation out there, the better. Just don’t use it as an excuse.

The conversation:

Male1: I wouldn’t recommend posting it. It won’t change anyone’s mind, because it is such a sensitive issue that people feel strongly about.
This particular example only applies to some people and those victims don’t need to be reminded of dumb decisions made at the time, and it discounts that, short of wearing a bubble, women are at risk anywhere.

Damian Perry The number of times it comes up, and I think “There are so many screwed up evil people in the world, with such screwed up senses of morality, that this argument is less valid than you would expect”.

Damian Perry But yes, I’ve been very hesitant in even putting the picture together

Female1 The picture sort of implies that being a girl wearing “sexy” clothes, or even just walking somewhere alone is a stupid thing to do. The guy in the picture looks like an idiot, who would do that, really? It implies that the parallel message of “still doesn’t deserve it” (with women and rape) is a message of the women doing something dumb and that being the result.

Damian Perry Yeah, and that’s why I’m trying to feel through the situation here rather than in public with people who will, hopefully, forgive me for saying something ridiculous.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves to be robbed. However, there are bad, evil people in the world. If someone walked down an alley with bad people around and (to be less ridiculous) was fiddling with his iPhone, we might say “you idiot”.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves the bad stuff that happens, but bad stuff happens, in these cases because of the bad people. Knowing that there are bad people, is it worth taking the precautions to avoid the bad situation?

Female1 I think the point of the rape issue is that even with precautions many women are still in danger. It’s not always the ones who are flaunting themselves, they could be fully dressed, and conservatively, but still be just as at risk.

Damian Perry Ah. Have I been misreading these pictures then? I thought it was “even if I’m dressed sexy (or naked) I don’t deserve to be raped.”

Female2 This is not the blog I was looking for but it’s close. The difference is is that whilst most men don’t feel entitled to someone else’s money / shiny thing, they are increasingly feeling entitled to a woman’s body Everyday Feminism link When even the ‘sane’ men start questioning misogyny in our society it’s pretty frightening to women. I have no answers, I’m just trying to tell you it’s not the same.

Female2 Ok. Think of it like this. You rob me – I am immediately the victim regardless of circumstances and you are the evil person.
You rape me – I am immediately judged on my clothes, where I was, did I fight back etc etc and you may be misunderstood, you may have not understood no. Etc.

Female3 You’ve got two issues within the spectrum of the rape culture thing, I think – the straight up idea of women being assaulted in lurky places, and the “dressed in tooth floss does not equal rape me” factor. And as someone whose had enough street harassment to varying degrees to want to retire from society forever, I actually find this parallel offensive for the same reasons Female1 has mentioned. Feminism and issue aside – don’t you dare post this because the shadowing on that face and money needs some serious revision.;)

Damian Perry I wanted to create a painted version of the guy to take away any copyright issues of stealing faces and bodies from Google and Photoshopping them, but in the end it was taking too much time for something I wouldn’t be allowed to post anyway, so I just gave up and posted it as is. Sorry Female3!

Female3 That’s what I wanted to hear, Damo. I can deal if its a mock up. I’ve been doing print ready files all day today and feel ready to set adobe on fire.

Female2 It might be more on the money to have a big, macho looking dude telling some cops that he was robbed and them saying – but what were you wearing? Women of the jury?

Female3 I like that idea better. there’s just something about putting a comically dumb man’s face on the issue that sits badly with me..

Damian Perry I’ll repost with the original guy’s face but it didn’t seem to fit

still don't deserve to be robbed seriousFemale4 I am unsure of the message you are trying to imply. Particularly with your comment of taking precautions. The point of the rape pictures is that often in sentencing, and general attitudes of the community it’s the victims responsibility to not have gotten so drunk or not have behaved so provocatively. It is about changing community attitudes that shift the blame from the victim and educate men that consent must always be sought.
To be honest, if I saw that as a blog post I would find it offensive as it implies that women and girls should be taking responsibility through their choices. It is as you said a very sensitive issue.

Damian:

Damian Perry From that article: “The clothes we wear do send messages to the world – if they didn’t we would all be content to wear the same thing. Learning how to decode and respond to the messages being transmitted by a woman wearing a low-cut top is a skill many struggle to ever master.

Again, this is not to argue that a scantily clad woman deserves anything she does not want, and that includes lewd comments and judgment. But women are definitely aware of the attention a nice bum in hot pants will attract, and are generally careful of the context in which they don them. Nightclub: yes. Workplace: no.”

Damian Perry And yes, posting this as a blog could give some people an excuse to use it against women, so I’ll leave it alone. All of the “still don’t deserve…” pictures are trying to reclaim some of the rights that women have lost.

Damian Perry Another point from another source, is that women need to take risks so that they can feel empowered. They need to be able to wear what makes them feel good, even if it does sexualise them, and walk home alone, even if it does put them in danger.

Damian Perry So yes, the picture does say that women should be taking some responsibility through their choices. Not because women are to blame for the things that happen to them. But because there are some evil bastards out there who don’t care that they hurt women.

Damian Perry But I’ve been convinced that posting it would do more harm than good, because we need to live in a world where women will take risks and feel safe and empowered, rather than living in a world where everyone wears loose sweaters and won’t walk anywhere alone, feeling unsafe in their own world.

Damian Perry I like to believe that most men are good, if slightly ignorant. These are the men who can be educated. But not all of them can.

Damian Perry “In the social utopia we all know will never eventuate, of course women ought to be able to do as the chant says: ”Wear what we want when we want.” But in the real world we live in, that is a dangerous motto to live by.”

Damian Perry “Sexual assault counsellors often post leaflets in the toilet cubicles of Melbourne’s busiest nightclubs giving tips to women on how to stay safe : appoint a friend to watch out for your group, make sure your phone is charged, always have a cab fare etc. This is practical advice that does not spark a movement suggesting the counsellors are blaming victims of sexual assault. But in cautioning women against placing themselves in the sort of situations that can make them more vulnerable to rape, are they not saying the same thing as Mr Sanguinetti?”

Damian Perry This is what I’m trying to say. Not to be offensive, just honestly wondering.

Female5 Interestingly… I was on holiday with a gf whose image (choice of jewellery, dressing up in the day time, her choice of window shopping) gave the impression that she has lots of money. Actually she has expensive taste and appears to be a bit “precious”. To me, she looked as though you could easily take advantage of her. On the very crowded train my choice is to appear organised, knowing which stop to get off, looking alert and confident. .. and she loudly says “where are we? What stop are we getting off?” While fixing her lipstick.

She’s MY friend and I made judgements based on her behaviour and appearance that she was vulnerable (“pick me” in a evil persons language)… I feel bad for even thinking it… I’m used to changing my exterior when I Feel vulnerable… and this includes living on a “rape timetable” as one male friend called it. He said: I couldn’t imagine having to live on a rape timetable, be home before dark, don’t walk- take a cab etc. .. I don’t even think about it as a man.

And therein lies another layer to a delicate issue.

I love the point above re: clothing and image communicating… :)

For me: I choose to reduce risk of harm. I will change my image, appearance and energetic vibe to camouflage or hide. I will change my behaviour including timing of outings to ensure my behaviour does not say “pick me” in evil language. .. although of course, I shouldn’t have to. Xo

Female3 I can’t comment on this anymore. Damo I am pleased you wanted to discuss this but I think you’d do well to leave it, as you said.
Female5 has a valid point about images and appearances, but that argument makes me tired. A vast majority of rapists are people you know, statistically friends, family etc, and sexual assault perps have been found to care less about skanky clothes and more about vulnerability (I.e drunkenness, Female5′s friend having no idea where she was, being alone). I’d source that but I’ve just woken up and have forgotten where it’s from. I got sexually assaulted on a tram because I had my hands full, carrying stuff home from university. I dress like a mountain potato. If you want to discuss it, maybe approach the issue from the concept that women don’t owe men anything, and vice versa. Safer to do, easier to talk about.

And I agree about the original image – he’s kind of leery, but I can’t say how.

Male2 It’s a discussion we can never have, because all it takes is for someone to say “so it’s the woman’s fault she was raped?” and the rational argument about taking responsibility is over. I’m sure Godwin has some law about it

Male2 Maybe you could make a meta-poster with a picture of yourself creating the original poster. I’m sure there is a great caption you could put on it but can’t think of one right now

Male3 There are so many nuances of the argument that this picture does not address that it becomes a bit pointless. For example, if you had 100 men like this, would one of them be giving all his money to anyone that walked past, and maybe 10% have gone to the alley(nightclub) with the express purpose of finding someone to give their money to, and would the guys in the alley have spent their formative years watching other guys give their money away for free on the internet, would a couple of the guys have gotten so drunk that they gave all their money to someone that they didn’t really mean to and wake up wishing they could get it all back? Is the alley in fact the right place for this scene? Don’t just as many crimes occur in lounge rooms, bed rooms, etc.

Male3 I should also mention that we are not constantly bombarded by popular and social media with content that reinforces the idea that our money belongs to the world, it should be a certain size and shape, and you should post pictures of it online on an hourly basis for the enjoyment of others.

Damian Perry Well, I’m glad that I posted it, just to get so many varied and interesting reactions. But, yes, we do constantly get bombarded with popular and social media content telling us to give our money away, and we do take thousands of pictures of our money (or what we spent it on) to post on Facebook.

Damian Perry And I KNOW that there have been nights where I’ve gotten drunk, woken up the next morning to find that I’ve given my money away and desperately wishing that I hadn’t done it.

Male3 And I guess therein is also part of the problem with the analogy. You may place a different value on your ‘money’ to someone else and the emotional attachment you have to your ‘money’ may be different. It doesn’t give anyone the right to take your ‘money’ but if enough people place little value on it then it creates societal expectations. Add in booze, drugs, mental illness and just plain bad people and you would do well to put your money away and perhaps use something else to make friends. Friends who will still love you when your ‘money’ isn’t as young as it used to be :o)

Female2 When I was at uni my psychology professor said that he once asked his male students to line up at one blackboard and female students to line up at another and write what they do every day to make them feel safe. They could not repeat what another student had written. That was the only rule. The sexes were split fairly evenly. The guys eventually filled up maybe a third of their blackboard. Mostly it was locked their door, make sure that they didn’t leave ovens on etc.
The women filled their blackboard and some of the white board and while it had some of the same stuff as the guys it also had things like don’t make eye contact after dark, don’t walk home alone when the sun goes down, don’t give the taxi driver our real address, etc. He said that women are brought up with a siege mentality, that we were taught how to survive the attack as well as to minimize its happening. He couldn’t then during the exercise, and while telling us about it, begin to imagine what living in constant fear all the while knowing that whatever happened it would always be viewed as our fault. He said that until men decided as a group that this was unacceptable and that no female regardless, was to be thought of as a product to be owned, and until females believed that they meant it the status quo wouldn’t change.

Damian Perry There’s the statement that explains all of the pictures. Finally I get it. Now: would taking all of this conversation, drawing it into a cohesive whole, leaving off attributions (unless you want them) make a good post that would justify an exploration of the picture? If you say no I won’t bother, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who had this picture in their head.

Male3 Do you follow Collective Shout Damo? They bring up some interesting material including the recent Wicked Campers controversy. This is an interested read along the same lines as Female2′s post:

If we reject you

Female2 I don’t mind Damo. The more discussion there is about this subject the better I think. You can’t change someone mind with silence.

Male3 My real problem is this “men must decide as a group it’s unacceptable”. We have. It’s against the law. It’s prosecuted when it’s reported. I don’t know a single man who would condone this behaviour and if I did I’d slap him. To paint all men as complicit in every occurrence of sexual assault is as ridiculous as painting all men as accessories to every murder, robbery, car jacking etc.

Female2 But that’s your group and who you know. I would always presume that people that I hang out with, the people they hang out with would think mostly like me. But do you immediately think predator arsehole when you read about a woman laying charges against a football player or do you think – what was she wearing?

Damian Perry I think that I and my friends are pretty good. I also know some of the conversations we have in guy nights, just as a joke, that prove the exact opposite. I’ve tried to pick up girls in bars and nightclubs (when I was single) which is, according to one of the articles above, a no-no. Men as a group might be outwardly ok with it being unacceptable, but the point is that we all still have our inner apes.

Male3 I try not to judge without knowing the facts. That’s a job for the courts.

Female6 In regards to those we call ‘famous’ getting charged with a crime and society asking who’s really to blame. It’s hard not to question motives when some ‘victims’ wait for so many years. As for people flaunting money, power, fast cars, boobs! Yes you have the right to but it will always draw attention and not necessarily from the right people. I do believe most people are good but there are still dirtbags out there that choose to go against social norms

Female2 See. The way you wrote victims just upsets me. Think of the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you. Make sure that there was a shit load of guilt and self-shame associated with it to make it really work. Then think about how long it would take to tell someone about it. Now think if the person who did all that to you was known to others as good person. How long do you think it would take you to come forward now? Just because you think you are a strong enough person now doesn’t mean they are in the same place. I know a person who wet herself in 5th grade in from of the class. I can bet you she doesn’t talk about that at all.

Female6 ‘Victim’, a word I chose to incorporate a vast group of people. I am a victim of several crimes and I own that word. Being a victim clarifies that I am in no way to blame for what others chose to do to me. I have never felt shame or guilt over any of it and have always come forward. I’ve worked with girls about that age in the same situation, it doesn’t have to be like that and schools aim to teach children to be more accepting these days. Hell, we use to get belittled for blowing our noses in primary school!

Female6 Female2: what are your thought on the siege mentality that your psych professor demonstrated? I would love to live without it and feel safe enough to go to gigs on my own but there have to be some up sides right? It means we should kickarse at risk assessment!
I guess it can explain helicopter parenting. I’ve heard it blamed on Gen X growing up with Stranger Danger that we are terrified of letting our children do anything. Hence why so few kids walk to school or play outside or any activity that a parent can’t hover over.

Female6 Ok, I’ve think this is what I should’ve said all along.
I am glad to live here, I can wear what I want, when I want and stand up for myself when I do it without fear of persecution. Most people will still come to a woman’s aid if she needs it.

Male3 We were at Fed Square on Sunday with our kids then read later about an attempted child stealing. Nothing wrong with reasonable helicoptering! I think part of the ‘blame game’ is also a way of risk assessing. Is there something that person did that, done differently, would have reduced the risk of becoming the victim of the crime. When we establish that we establish the risk to ourselves and also establish how we can protect ourselves and our family from becoming victims.

Female2 I think it’s like anything. Too much is bad. Focusing totally on nothing but your safety means that you will miss out on a lot of awesome stuff, not focusing at least a little means ‘bad’ things can and will probably occur.
What we forget is that towns used to live under siege for many, many years sometimes and the people would get used to the sounds of warfare and just get on.
Heightened awareness is not a bad thing.
To me what has changed about stranger awareness is that WE are more aware of the dangers. 50 years ago no one thought a thing about letting your kids run mad, the dangers were still there but we didn’t talk about or acknowledge them. Now we have pulled the bogeyman out of the closet we are not sure how to deal with it.

Damian Perry Holy crap this became a very in depth discussion.

Male2 It’s certainly a lot better than some other discussions i’ve ever seen on the subject! A rational discussion on a sensitive subject is a rare and wonderous thing.

Male2 Some parallels between the MH17 shootdown here… lots of comments like “how dare you blame Malaysian Air! The people who shot it down are at fault, not the pilot who flew a plane where shootdowns were known to occur”

Male3: http://www.news.com.au/…/story-fnki1jcy-1226995419163

 

Conclusion

Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. There’s no other way around it. Men will never really understand how women feel, but through discussions and actually listening to what is being said, we can start to get an idea.

That’s out and about now. I can get back to some slightly lighter topics.

Parents and Social Media

This post comes out of a conversation I had on Twitter. I made the comment that parents need to have Social media accounts so that they can have a meaningful dialogue with their children. The quote I stole from the presenter I was listening to was “You wouldn’t take your kid swimming if you couldn’t swim.”
I thought it would be just one more tweet in the Twittersphere – ignored and moving on. But it gained a bit of attention, and started a lively discussion.
I’m going to paste the conversation here, because Twitter is a hard place to have a good conversation. Feel free to weigh in. I’m also going to post it, and then edit it when I get to a proper computer, so that I can add in some pictures and links to yesterday’s presentation from the AP at Kilbreda.

Here goes, in some vague order but with no guarantees:
Dan: what! Thats not true surely…I cant swim but take my kids to swimming lessons …
Fiona: But are you the one teaching them to swim? :)
Dan: no of course not …. but will get in the water with them… I am an esafety advisor btw for ceop and afp

Emma: No you dont. Dont need to be a swimmer to teach swimming. Dont need a SN account to understand SN
Emma: dont agree you need SN account to protect kids. You need to supervise your kids’ account #havetheirpassword
Fiona: Spying on them? No thanks.
Emma: it’s called parenting.
Emma: How else would you recommend parents see what their kids are doing online?
Dan: hiya, not sure what you mean ..how do they see?
Emma: suggested having passwords was “spying” on kids. Wondered how she suggests knowing what kids are doing
Fiona: just developing an open, honest relationship with them
Emma: That is definitely important, but also not enough. Abuse is not always because they did something wrong. More often because someone else did. Keeping tabs on their account aids watching other people. dealt with so many abused kids whose parents thought they had good open honest relationship

Dan: not all teachets on twitter or social net… thats also an issue
Emma: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: I agree.

Dan: I put a free site together http://t.co/yUtnJLB96Y and its got a parenting section
Dan: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: having done loads of presos to parents in uk and aus ..same issues everywhere for them.
Emma: Yep. Usually the knowledge gap between the two and a fear or lack of motivation by parents to close it

Dan: I agree but parenting is complex… lots of analogies. . Analogies are mostly stupid. Need to focus on the issues.
Dan: fr example do you need to be a football player to coach football
Damian: you need to have played football to coach it ^properly^… Surely
Emma: No, you need to understand the sport I have seen coaches who have clearly never kicked a ball in their life

Emma: I have never used snapchat or Instagram, but am well versed in problems therein and what parents can do.
Dan: absolutely I use most but but not all of them


Ok, that’s the conversation so far. Excuse spelling and grammar errors. I’ve just copied and pasted directly from the Twitter feed.

There is a lot more in this, but not during keynotes. I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

Two final tweets from me:
I can’t talk to my students about Scrillex. I haven’t listened to it. Likewise I need some experience with SM to have a dialogue.

Parents who make decisions about their child’s SM use w/out experience can make judgements based in fear rather than knowledge. #DLTV2014

Cosplay Hate

This all started with a conversation on Facebook:

Names Feegled out to protect the innocent.

Names Feegled out to protect the innocent.

The conversation started at around 10pm and my brain wasn’t up to the challenge of mounting a suitable defense. So I left it. Away on holidays in the Grampians, I finally got the strength together to write this. I know I’m not holding a popular position (or at least, not one that people are happy to state out loud), but I do believe I’m write. So here goes.

A couple of years ago, I took the family to Supanova. They hadn’t been to a convention before. I was catching up with my Discworld convention committee.

We marveled at the costumes. My favourites were a pair of Doctor Whos (Four and Seven), a wookie in a hockey jersey, some steampunk Ghostbusters and a lovely pair of Poison Ivys. And that was only a smattering.

supanova

When we stopped for lunch, I started people watching in earnest.

And now I’m going to join in on an Internet controversy with the statement I made to my wife on that day:

People need to wear costumes based on their body type.

Wait! Don’t run off! There are caveats. There are reasons. There are exemptions. There are excuses. But yeah, I’m coming down on the Dark Side (with cookies).

When you are dedicated to worlds other than this one, and show your dedication by letting your imagination run wild and your inner child free, the mainstream is going to stop and, not getting it, judge. So we find ourselves making excuses:

“I get so little time to relax. This is a way for me to be myself.”

“Getting into costume is a way to further immerse myself in a world I love. It’s almost like getting into the book.”

We don’t need to make excuses. Most of the people I know have no fear of what the “real world” things of us.

And even that’s ok. It’s fine. To paraphrase: Wear what you wanna wear, be what you wanna be yeah-eh-eh.

“I love Buffy, so I’m going to the con dressed as Buffy.” So what if he is a 200kg body builder with more hair on his body than Sarah Michelle Gellar has on her head?

And I swear, I Truly believe that statement, no matter how much flak I’m going to get over this post. If he wants to wear a Buffy cheerleader skirt and carry a stake, that’s fine.

As long as he knows that he is a 200kg, hairy-backed body builder; that dressing as Buffy is a patently ridiculous act and that he’s making a statement, or simply having fun with the character, fine. Joss has done worse to Buffy himself. Be Buffy. I salute you. I will laugh alongside you and be happy. But if I’m laughing at you, you’re wearing the wrong costume.

me as supermanI wouldn’t dress as superman. Or rather, I would dress as Superman, but I would be a Superman who has really let himself go. I’d have vindaloo stains on my S and a doughnut in one hand with little Kryptonite sprinkles.

And that would be OK.

If, on the other hand, I decided to be Superman, and dressed as Superman, in the tights and stretchy suit, because I LOVE Superman and want to show the world my love for Superman -

- Then I have failed. You don’t honour Superman by being a poor imitation of Superman. You can honour Superman by parodying him, by being playful with a beloved character. But I don’t believe you can love Superman by being him when you’re clearly not him.

Rant. Rave. Get it over with. Now read on. I’m giddy with the power of free speech. I feel like Andrew Bolt. Without the racism.

There is a movement on various Social Networks to call out cosplayers who dress inappropriately and make fun of them. They search for photos of cosplayers that they judge to be ridiculous and post the photos so that people can laugh at them.

This is reprehensible. These people should be dressed as My Little Ponies and dropped off at a biker bar.

I don’t believe that anyone should be attacked for their body shape, age, gender or colour. And I’m not going to attack anyone. I celebrate and truly enjoy diversity in cosplay. There is an infinite universe that can be realized through our imaginations. The key word here is

IMAGINATION

I’m blessed in that all of my cosplaying companions have overactive imaginations. I’ve never seen anyone I know dress in anything less than a marvelous outfit. And these costumes range from a certain combination of regular clothing to an orangutan suit and beyond. Money isn’t a factor. Size or shape isn’t an issue. The success or failure of a costume comes from the amount of imagination and dedication that goes into a project (and many many energy drinks the night before).

The people who don’t have any imagination shouldn’t be ridiculed either. And I’m sure they don’t want my pity. Or to know that I’m aiming my pity at them. And, to be honest, I’m probably not pitying them. So that’s OK.

But they need friends who, before they choose a costume, can suggest:

“Hey, I’m pretty sure we can paint you up like a Binar. That would suit you perfectly.” Or “You’d make a brilliant Doctor. Let’s get you a sonic screwdriver.” Or “If I stick a shiny H on your head, you could be a Hologram on Red Dwarf.”

This is my point. Not “You can’t be Superman” (although I’m pretty much saying that, in the case of Superman) but that, with a little imagination, anyone can create a costume that suits them, is clever, worthy of praise and raises the bar of cosplay.

When did cosplay become a word? Dressing up. Fancy dress. Anyway.

  • Be a wookie in a hockey jersey.
  • Be a steampunk Ghostbuster
  • Be the Doctor.

But maybe rethink the Robin Hood outfit.

Damian as Robin Hood

I don’t always follow my own advice.

The Conspiracy Train

lunatic fringeA woman came up to me on the platform while I was waiting for a train into the city. I was reading Mr Mercedes by Stephen King and she started asking questions about it. She seemed a bit needy for conversation but not raving. We went from books to the media and how popular culture messes with our brains.

“You know,” she said, “I thought Fargo was a real story. That’s how manipulative the media is.” I really should have paid more attention to that statement. “And the music,” she continues. “You know, I took my husband to see the Thomas Crowne Affair, when we first met. The music in that movie manipulated me. I think I fell in love with my husband because the music in the film made me.” The marriage, she says, was a terrible idea.

I absolutely agreed with her contention that music in popular culture was manipulative. After all, I’m a Media teacher. I was putting together a verbal thesis in my head to hold court, when the train arrived and we headed into the same carriage (I couldn’t think of a reason not to).

On the train, she showed me News in Two Minutes, a YouTube daily presenting important news stories in two minutes. I had been deciding whether to move to a different carriage with some flimsy excuse (there’s a blog in itself) until she mentioned this. At this point, I figured it was interesting enough to check it out. I thought I might be able to use it on my radio show when the news program crashed (which it does on a very regular basis).

The big story was an outbreak of Ebola in Africa and she was worried because refugees from Africa were seen in Italy with blood coming out of their eyes. They were taken to hospital, released into the public and later the hospital was locked down.

While she talked, I googled. Here’s a link to the Ebola scare on the WHO website. I wasn’t really reading what I found, but I was finding it all quite compelling. I hadn’t quite put everything together yet, although I was looking at the pictures accompanying the news and wondering whether the sources had been verified.

Anyway, apparently the outbreak has been blacked out of the media “because of the World Cup”. I nodded sagely, although I have no idea why this would be the case. “Nothing has been printed in the papers. Obama has denied everything.”

I was shocked. Ebola! An outbreak! I added to my collection of bookmarked sites so that I could check it out later (which is now). She noticed me bookmarking and googling and luckily didn’t find it rude of me.

“You have to check out HAARP,” she said, pointing to the phone. “I was talking to my friend overseas for ages and in the morning they had painted a chemtrail cross over my house to mark me for later.”

Ah, I thought, and was instantly less worried about the Ebola outbreak. My conspiratorial fellow traveller had predicted an earthquake in Lilydale the day before it happened. She didn’t explain how that fitted into the conspiracy network, but I think it’s to do with HAARP.

I was relieved when she left the train three stops later. Sooner or later she would have realised that I didn’t share the crazy and then Bob knows what would have happened.

But now I have a stack of new conspiracy resources to look at. Let’s take a look at some of the sites I scribbled down as she chatted to me.

HAARP

chemtrailI thought I’d already mentioned this in Finding Damo, but I couldn’t find it. Project HAARP = High-frequency Active Auroral Research. It allows the government (yeah, as if it’s really run by the government) to control the weather. It is a technology that allows the user to control people’s minds. It could very well destroy the ozone layer. And it can radiate people to death.

Here is the chemtrail thing. Apparently there is a trend to seed clouds with heavy particulates. Which would make sense if you were about to zap them with ELF waves. So every time you see an unusual cloud, you’re probably looking at a HAARP transmission.

Alex Jones

alex jonesIf you want some good hearty conspiracy for breakfast, Alex Jones is your man. He’s a radio presenter in the States, and he has his finger on the pulse of everything conspiracy. He has a podcast, which is well worth checking out. INFOWARS! The latest episode starts with the upcoming revolution coming July 4th. “Will it be a peaceful or a violent revolution?” Only you can tell. Listen now!

More info from Forbes, where I got the accompanying picture.

Club of Rome and the Georgia Guidestones

I lumped these two in together, because apparently they both deal with population limitation. Let’s have a look.

The_Club_of_RomeFrom the website: “The aims of the Club of Rome are: to identify the most crucial problems which will determine the future of humanity through integrated and forward-looking analysis; to evaluate alternative scenarios for the future and to assess risks, choices and opportunities; to develop and propose practical solutions to the challenges identified; to communicate the new insights and knowledge derived from this analysis to decision-makers in the public and private sectors and also to the general public and to stimulate public debate and effective action to improve the prospects for the future.”

From their website and most reputable websites, they seem like a think tank, a theoretical group coming up with ideas to make the globe sustainable. It is only when you scratch beneath the surface (i.e. check out the conspiracy websites) that you find the sinister underpinnings to their organisation.

According to excerpts from the Modern History Project, one of the stated goals of the Club of Rome is to radically reduce Earth’s population, by strategic wars, manufactured diseases, famines in third world countries and genocide. The US branch of the Club of Rome was apparently responsible for the last three wars, and the MHP attribute the AIDS epidemic to the Club of Rome as well. NATO is basically run by the Club of Rome, as is the United Nations, according to these sites. I tell you, if any of these conspiracies are actually true, we are in some serious trouble.

In a similar vein are the Georgia Guidestones.

Guidesontes1The Guidestones are a series of granite monoliths in Georgia, US. They list 10 precepts in 12 languages. On the capstone, in different languages, reads the phrase: “Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason”. They appear to be designed as a post-apocalyptic guide to rebuilding society. They work as a guide and also as a modern day Rosetta Stone. They were funded by a secret society and anonymously, so as not to take away from the message. There is no indication that anything sinister was meant by the raising of the stones, but a series of conspiracy theories surround the precepts, especially the one that reads: “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”

If the guidestones are actually meant to be for a post-apocalyptic society, then this precept isn’t such a big deal. It becomes an issue when current groups try to figure out how to get the planet’s population from 6 billion down to 500 million. What happens when someone figures out the answer and acts upon it?

A scary world

There are a lot of nutters out there. Mostly Harmless, as the HitchHiker’s Guide states, but all it takes is one evil genius looking at the wrong website and we’re in a pile of poo. Keep an ear to the ground, people. Look for the signs. Wear the tinfoil hat to protect yourself from mind-control and hope against hope that with all these conspiracies, we don’t end up adding alien civilisations into the mix.

May Challenge on WEBook

May Challenge on WEBook

I try to get involved in the WEBook challenge every month. Last month I was runner up. This month I’m going for the iPad :)

Let’s Kill Hitler

rory punches hitlerEvery time someone brings up time travel, someone mentions killing Hitler.

“If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you?”

It’s either kill him as a baby or kill him as an adult. As a baby he hasn’t done anything wrong yet. Plus, killing babies is less than savoury for most people (whereas killing adults seems to be totally fine). As an adult, he may have already done too much damage to stop by just removing him from the equation.

EDIT: After being linked this by three different people on three different social networks, I thought I’d better add this in:

To properly answer the question, you first need a Year 9 Humanities class brief history of Adolf. Here are some excerpts from one of my students from last  year:

“Adolf Hitler was born from Klara Polzl and Alois Hitler on the 20th of April, 1889 in a small town in Austria named Braunau, and is most commonly known for being Germany’s leader during World War 2. Hitler was the fourth child Klara had given birth to, as the three before had died. Hitler had a younger sister named Paula. “

“Alois was a strict senior customs official who took beatings upon his wife and even his son. After Hitler read that the brave man gives no sign of being in pain, Hitler told his mother: “father hit me thirty-two times… and I did not cry”. Klara, Adolf’s mother, was a very kind woman who only wanted Adolf to succeed and do well in life, as she did not want to lose another child.”

“While Hitler disliked most of his teachers, he had one which he paid respect to, which was Leopold Potsch, his history teacher. Potsch, being a German Nationalist, taught Hitler and his pupils about Germany’s victory over France. Hitler was inspired by Potsch in the long run to be a Nationalist.”

“Throughout his life, he had consistent bad grades with the exception of his skill in art. When his entry to an art school was declined, he was shattered, and lived in Vienna pretending to be an art student trying to make his mother proud. While he lived in Vienna, he mostly walked parks, observed buildings, and visited libraries. In the summer of 1909, Hitler lived on the streets.”

Caught up? Good. By 1925 it was pretty much too late. He’d written Mein Kampf, been to prison and had a following of people that would probably have continued with the reich even if Hitler was out of the picture.

So any killing of Hitler needs to be done before then, probably around 1909 when he was living on the streets.

Right?

Bloodthirsty bastards! Why do we have to kill Hitler? Why bloody our own souls? Here’s an alternative that doesn’t come up very often: Be nice to Hitler.

Let me present you with a scenario: Someone is coming back to kill you from the future. In about five years’ time you will do something that will cause the death of billions of people. With the invention of time travel, all of this death can be avoided simply by killing you. Are you ok with that? Or would you like to see someone try an alternative option first?

SARAH CONNOR HITLERWow. Hitler is sort of like Sarah Connor.

Anyway.

Hitler hated his teachers. He was bored at school. He was excluded from art college, he was beaten by his father. He was lazy but intelligent. He only had one testicle.

I can’t do anything about the last one, but as a time traveller, especially if we can travel about willy-nilly to do what we want, we could negate a number of bad influences in his life, making him, if not a good person, at least one who is politically ambivalent, not disposed to prejudices towards certain races and safe out of the way in an artist’s colony somewhere.

Here’s the plan:

  • Ditching Alois – the father, were you not paying attention? – by causing a bar fight between him and a burly psychopath in a pub somewhere. The man drank a lot. He also looked after bees. Strange.
  • Work at his high school, being a mentor to the young Hitler and giving him challenging books about being nice to people. Let’s get this Potsch teacher fired as well.
  • Bribe someone at the arts school to get him accepted. A Hitler making a living at art is not a Hitler trying to take over the country.
  • Finally, get someone to hire him, somewhere well out of Berlin.
  • Oh, and every time he tries to grow a moustache, shave it in his sleep.

Voila! No more evil dictator.

If I wanted to go further, I’d be talking to the leaders of France and England and suggesting that if they don’t want a second world war, they should go a bit easier on the country they just defeated. If they hadn’t been so heavy-handed in their sanctions, German Nationalism wouldn’t have received so much support from the general populous.

Of course, maybe people have been trying this for decades. Changing time and each time getting someone worse, until last time, when the time traveller stopped the evil dictator Gordon Champott, who had destroyed most of the civilised world from his seat in England, and when he got back, found that Hitler had risen to power in his stead.

And maybe a world war at this point in time, before the rise of nuclear weapons, was better for the planet as a whole.

But seriously, if someone gives you a time machine, just think about your actions before you go and murder someone, just to see what happens.

I would be incredibly irresponsible in this.

I would be incredibly irresponsible in this.

Small Talk

weatherEvery morning I greet the crossing guard with a wave and some sort of comment on the weather.

“Nice weather to be out in the fine morning sunshine!” or

“You’re earning your pay this morning!” or

“You’re still here? Thought you’d have blown away the way that wind’s going!”

And yes, Pippa, I put the exclamation marks in on purpose.

Small talk. In this situation, it’s perfectly ok. I don’t want to engage her further than that, because then I’d be the idiot standing in the middle of the road while the school traffic is passing through. A comment that lets me acknowledge that I appreciate the job she is doing for us, without getting into a conversation that causes road rage.

I was listening to Tell ‘Em Steve Dave – a podcast by some of the guys on Comic Book Men, and –

kevin smithOK. The Comic Book Men is a TV show – I don’t think we get it in Australia – set in the Secret Stash. The Secret Stash is associated with Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith did Mallrats, Clerks, Chasing Amy…

Caught up yet? Then there’s your homework.

I was listening to this podcast and (insert research here)

Some people hate small talk. And fair enough, if people are just going to look up at the sky and nod thoughtfully before going off on a diatribe about the weather. But small talk doesn’t have to be boring, it just has to be small. What we need is a list of topics that can be knocked off in about a minute without a huge amount of prior knowledge, that make you seem slightly more accessible to strangers and that won’t cause people to actively avoid you in the future.

growthSome topics just should never be brought up at all:

“Hey, did I miss something? When did they allow women to vote?”

“That Pope guy, he’s something else isn’t he?”

“You really have to see this growth that came up on my lower back!”

“I just got a new cat. I have a photo album here on my phone with 250 pictures. Wanna see?”

Others are perfectly acceptable, if taken in the right context, but are still considered borderline. These are the ones that I tend to use when starting a conversation because you are much more likely to achieve an interesting conversation:

smurf“Hey, if you had to be a smurf, which smurf would you be?” (I’ve used this on dates. It doesn’t work)

“You have a minute. Plan the perfect murder.” (This is worse if you keep saying “Nope, that didn’t work” whenever they suggest something)

“What does it have in its pocketsess?” (I say borderline, because this could work really well with certain literary types – or just anyone who watches movies now. *sigh*)

There are also some conversation starters that might seem innocent enough but are so full of potential mayhem that you should probably leave them off the list until you know someone better:

“Where’d you get that bruise?” (no, not really)

“Tell me about your family.”

“Such-and-such is an idiot aren’t they?” (Such-and-such will always be related to whoever you’re talking to)

But in general, there are a few topics you can bring up in public that will knock off a minute or two in a long elevator ride, at a bus stop or in the hairdresser’s chair. Try one of these:

“So, where’d that plane end up?” (or anything that is based on a headline from the most popular tabloid newspaper that week)

“Have you seen the size of that line? What’s going on?”

“Hey, sports are great, aren’t they?” (or something more specific if you know anything about sports)

“Been here long?”

“Did you know the moon landing was faked?” (actually, maybe that’s just me)

And of course, the old standby:

“How’s that weather?”

He said, She said…

Last night I was exploring first person POV, the unreliable narrator and differing perspectives on the same situation with a student I tutor. To illustrate the situation I presented the following YouTube clip:

I then asked her to write the piece from the boy’s perspective in first person, followed by the girl’s perspective. While she wrote, I did the same. It was an interesting exercise. Here ‘tis.

She

My stomach turned over as I saw him. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation. It was either the nerves. Or the baby.

Oh yeah, I’m pregnant.

How would he react? In these situations, I tend to get defensive. My back was up as we met and I’m sure I was sulking as I matched his step.

Finally, he stopped and confronted me.

He looked tired. Tired and annoyed.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

Already he’d annoyed me. He knew, but he wouldn’t be the one to say it.

“What do you want me to say?” I asked. His expression was part of the reason I was glad the baby wasn’t his. God, how could I have been with him?

“Well,” he said, his voice flat, “clearly you’re acting like this for some reason -”

Like this? Like my life had been thrown into turmoil? Like my future had just become that of the single mother?

“- so what’s up?” he asked. He was pretending to be Caring Guy. I was having none of it.

“I don’t know.”

“Come on, what’s wrong?”

You really want to know? I thought. “I’m pregnant.”

His surprise was genuine. Hell, maybe he hadn’t known, after all.

“Really?”

“Yeah.” And then he said the words I’d been dreading:

“Is it mine?”

I didn’t want to have this conversation. I didn’t want him to be a part of my life. My baby’s life.

“I dunno, maybe.”

“Maybe?” Oops. No guy wants to hear that. But, looking at his stupid face, I figured I was better off without him. I sighed.

“Probably not.”

The look of pure relief on his face said it all.

“Thank God!” he said, and he almost sprinted from the room. I left in the opposite direction.

Good riddance.

He

She was bugging me. She’d been moody for days. When she called me and said we needed to talk, I gigured that the inevitable break up talk was imminent. And frankly, that was fine by me.

But now that we were together, she wasn’t saying anything. I decided to make the first move.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“What do you want me to say?”

I hate you? I’m sick of this? It’s over?

“Well clearly you’re acting like this for some reason, so what’s up?”

“I don’t know.” This was harder than I thought. She was withdrawn. Maybe it wasn’t the breakup conversation. I looked at her more closely.

“Come on, what’s wrong?”

“I’m pregnant.”

Whoa. That was not one of the possible options.

“Really?” No, not really, I’m just fooling. What a stupid question. I saw contempt in her eyes.

“Yeah.” Ok, next stupid question. I was on a roll.

“Is it mine?” I mean, really, who wants to know the answer to that, one way or another? I didn’t love her, didn’t even like her much. I definitely didn’t want to have a kid with her. But although I was pretty sure she’d been cheating on me, I had no desire to know for sure.

“I dunno, maybe.” My stomach lurched. Maybe was a confirmation of the cheating. I’d almost have preferred a “How could you ask that?” blowup, not this sulky quiet. My heart grew cold.

“Maybe?”

“Probably not.”

I was furious. I was ecstatic. I mourned the loss of my brief, ten-second child. I celebrated my freedom.

“Thank God,” I snapped.

And then I sped out of the room so she wouldn’t see the tears.

On a lighter note:

This YouTube clip was obviously part of an exercise for a film school or something. These two did a pretty good job. But I found another one which you might find amusing, although they would fail the sound check:

Hair

“You look nice today,” my wife said a couple of days ago. She looked at me. “I think it’s the beard.”

bearded damo

How’s this look?

In other news, Madonna posted a photo on Instagram that briefly broke the Internet:

Madonna's armpit

Women everywhere jumped to Madonna’s defence. Anyone who made a negative comment was instantly branded as being sexist.

“A woman’s body is her own. She can do anything with it that she likes, you sexist beast!”

This is true. But having a preference isn’t sexist.

My wife likes me in a beard. She prefers me with a beard. She thinks I look better with a beard. Other girlfriends have hated the beard. The beard must go. They would never date anyone with facial hair. Or chest hair. Or back hair. And no, I’m not posting photos of that.

Not to mention this look:

bald damo

serial killer?

I was having a very positive online dating experience with a girl. We’d emailed back and forth for a few weeks and were ready to meet up for the first time. And a couple of days beforehand I did Shave for a Cure.

She almost had a heart attack when she met me. She was very attracted by the hair that I had. Less attracted by the weird bald creature that turned up to our first meeting.

It is completely ok to have a preference for the hairy or hairless look. If you choose to have leg hair or underarm hair, wear it proudly. But people will judge you. If  you grow a beard or shave your head, that’s fine. But people will judge you.

You can’t call someone sexist for having a preference. If you call them out on their preference and they tell you “Oh, they look like a man” or “it makes them look less feminine” or “women need to keep themselves nice for us men” then you may slap them with something heavy.

I alternate between bearded and shaven for various reasons. Movember is one. Winter is another. I’ll shave my beard again soon for the production I’m doing up in Emerald. Sometimes I shave or grow a beard for a costume. Sometimes I just want a change. But I’ll admit that I have a beard more often than not now, because my wife likes it.

Elf-Promotion (the dwarves have all the fun)

Saturday 5th April is now Dwarves in Space Day. But it’s not just dwarves going into space. There is a wizard. There are a number of barbarians. There is an orc. Even the king of Trimador is coming along for the ride. And a goodly number of elves.

And this is an issue for a race that is so attuned to nature. Nobody thinks about the huge sacrifice they make when they join the crew of the Eagle in search of Quiddity.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Come along to the signing of my new book: Dwarves in Space.

Where? Notions Unlimited, Shop 9, Chelsea Beach Arcade, 426 Nepean Hwy, Chelsea, VIC. 3196

When? 5.30 – 7.00pm, April 5, 2014.

What else?

Author Damian Perry will be in-store at Notions Unlimited Bookshop, to launch and sign copies of his debut humorous SF novel, DWARVES IN SPACE.

Information on the Notions Unlimited Blog and on my Facebook Page (like it while you’re there) and Google+ event (ditto).

I hope you’ll join us for drinks and nibbles. Bring a friend or six. Bring total strangers. I’ll sign books and answer questions.

signing on 5 april

Still not convinced? Here’s what people are saying about the book:

Amazon reader:

“When I started “Dwarves in Space” I wasn’t sure what I would be getting, but I have to say that all too quickly I was snagged by the witty writing, the memorable characters, the adventurous tone and the entertaining plot.”

A review from Danny - a fellow Discworld fan:

“Damian Perry has managed to not only cross the genre divide by poking fun at the tropes and cliches, but has also paid respect to them as well – and it’s all held together by an engaging and exciting story.”

 

I look forward to seeing you all there.

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