Projections and Fireclowns

“Pondering on the state of the multiverse… I’m a wanderer on a path of my choosing, albeit full of twists, forks and turns. I like to consider my fate my own but in reality, I’m forced to recognize that if I’m where I am today, doing what I think I should be doing, going where I think I should be going it’s because someone or something pointed me in this direction…”

Back in the 16th century, an eminent English cleric wrote a poem about islands and bells, he wrote about a bit more than that but I’m cherry-picking. The reality is though, with all our technology we are struggling today to transform an abstract 16th century idea into reality. Whether we like it or not we are all parts of a bigger entity, I’ll skip the bit in the English cleric’s poem reference to Europe as it might be misinterpreted.

Fast forward to 1942 and the apparition of the first of an amazing literary trilogy. The trilogy’s premise and its Ariadne thread was that using history, sociology, and mathematical statistics it is possible to anticipate the rise and fall of a society, predict the course of a very large population and, bearing in mind the galactic dimensions of the task, consider measures and countermeasures that would, with a degree of mathematical accuracy, guarantee the resilience of said society.

Onto 2019. One part of what seemed visionary in 1624 and science fiction in 1942 has at least come to pass: we are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. In spite of the rebuke of a certain kind of globalization, the fact is, what happens on the other side of the planet impacts people in Rust Belt, USA. As long as Society is dominated by short-term politics and quick gain interests imagining any form of long-term vision for Society, and by extension Mankind, will be impossible, and the future(s) formulated by some astounding and visionary minds will remain as it was in 1624: Abstract science fiction.
Perhaps some brilliant mind, in the pursuit of their intellectual Holy Grail, is giving some thought to the question and in doing so has cracked the engima of what nurtures those mule/rogue elements that appear throughout history and disrupt apparently stable cultures. They might also be mulling over the root causes of social backlashes that fireclowns seem to flair and thrive on (and no, there is no elephant in this room) and if they are, now would be a good time to share their vision*.

* As entertaining as Nostradamus’ works were, I wouldn’t say he anticipated with any serious encyclopedic exactitude or mathematical precision any of the events that have happened since 1566.

From Trantor to the Middle Kingdom

In a world debating whether our future will be more Star Wars than Star Trek-like, but looking more and more like Blade Runner, a science fiction saga about academics plotting futures based on history is by today’s standards naive. Reading about one country’s plan to apply a social monitoring system is on the other hand, the future today. Plotting a roadmap for a population based on its social behaviour and using demographics, credit rating, consumerism, social media activity AND real-world civicism (aka Urban Pride … no, not that Pride) seems Orwellian but with a population of 1.4 billion and growing China puts the interests of the collectivity over individual interest. When China constructed the Three Gorges Dam, it weighed the collective pros and individual cons and went ahead. When China constructed a 254 square kilometre solar park in the middle of the Gobi desert, which although visible from space, isn’t quite in someone’s backyard either, they gave themselves the means so if they intend implementing a working Social Credit System, they won’t be coy about it.

Social monitoring for data mining purposes is already in place in a number of so-called Liberal countries, and a profitable service industry it is too. What distinguishes China’s Social Credit System from other countries’ social surveillance systems is the sheer scale of the project. Although not completed, given the resolve of its architects it will work, solving in the process a number of “ancillary” issues such as the pollution created by 300+ million vehicles on China’s roads, a problem that makes similar issues in the UK or Paris look pale in comparison.

Whatever your opinion of a culture with a history of leaders for life, indifferent to the concerns of the individual and a vision that now goes beyond a five-year plan, China’s intention to engineer and I mean engineer, a long-term plan for their society is, whatever the outcome, the closest I think we’ll get to any realworld equivalence of the Society Isaac Asimov wrote about.

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Posted in Everyday life, Society | Tagged , , , ,

Air Travel: Chasing Elusive Miles… and Smiles

On a recent flight back from the States I half-heartedly listened to the Delta captain as we approached Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, half-heartedly because like most frequent flyers I’d heard it before and was busy stuffing things into my backpack.

As usual, the captain thanked the elite status, the first class, the business class, the gold card frequent flyers etc. This time though, I heard him thank one unnamed loyalty programme member in particular who apparently had accumulated so many flying miles it reminded me of George Clooney in “Up in the Air”.

The speech was, of course, the standard sales speech destined for those in economy class listening and longing for access to airline lounges, accelerated boarding, upgrades, more leg space, extra drinks, better food etc. and after eight hours wedged in a cramped main cabin seat, I for one was listening, even if it was half-heartedly.

On the Run

Economy class is a melting pot of travellers. There are the explorer level frequent flyers, like me, who never seem to make it to the next level; there are business travellers, professionals from cost-conscious tech companies, i.e. me again. There are the people who want the prestige of flying a brand at the cheapest price possible and there are the folks who just want to get from A to B.

Whatever the reason, whatever the constraints, people like me will continue flying and no matter how much lawmakers talk of banning short-haul domestic flights, as is currently being debated in France (link in French), airlines will continue exploiting the demand and offering affordable air travel until such time as market trends, or legislation, force them to rethink their strategy or go out of business.

♪Have Your Passport and Baggages Ready♪

Airport authorities, operators and airlines probably are dedicating the necessary time and effort managing today’s problems while planning for the future, e.g. by adding more planes during peak periods; building runways and terminals, (Heathrow); whole new airports (Istanbul), or connecting intra-city airports serving as mega-hubs such as London or Moscow.

So with all this AI assisted efficiency why are flights invariably late or delayed? Most delays are minor, generally 10 or 15 minutes, occasionally by 30 or 45, sometimes… even 90 minutes, which if you’re in transit is panic guaranteed. I even had a flight cancelled in 2003 because of a Tornado in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Delays are disruptions you take into account when booking a flight, e.g. avoid 60-minute layovers because you never know. The disruptions you can’t anticipate though, and the ones that require all the phlegm and forgiving of a Swami, are the flights that just don’t turn up, no replacement, no word of explanation, no apology, nothing. This happened to me on a B.A. flight to London in February 2018. It was the one trip I had to honour and needed to get London on time for and the plane was three hours late.

B.A., with their market dominance and quasi-monopoly of flights to the UK – and no, Ryanair is not an option – had one job to do: Get that one plane to London on time so I could fulfil a family obligation and BA failed. Frustrating as it was for me, it was nothing more than an operational glitch with one of the hundreds of planes they had flying that day. Consequently, and because business is business, I now only fly B.A. to the UK if there is no alternative or on company-paid trips.

The debate though is whether delays, of human origin, happen because a) there are so many planes flying flight controllers can’t keep up, b) planes are taking longer to reach destinations because they’re flying slower than 40 years ago, or c) planes are bumping into one another manoeuvring at gates because airlines rush to get their planes back in the air and making money.

Speak to Me

But if there’s one thing that could lure a delay weary economy class traveller like me into paying more it’s more leg room. Believe me, I’ve been tempted, and still am, to pay extra to fit my 1m86 frame into a ~20-inch wide seat with ~7 inches extra legroom premium economy sized seat. In fact, that, plus access to airline lounges, was the real reason for chasing elusive miles and smiles.

But now it seems I might not have to anymore. Airlines, like KLM, are realizing that while elite products are attractive, the bulk of the profit may come from selling add-ons and extras to travellers like me who consider travel time part of a journey and are willing to pay to make the journey that little bit more enjoyable. Yup, I think I’ll add some lounge time to the our next flight. Indulgence? Oh yes, summer vacation starts with the flight so why not indulge yourself.

[Edited]

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The Creeping Institutionalization of a Kink

It’s rant time!… There’s an irritating kink institutionalizing itself in everyday exchanges on Social Media today: the F-bomb. If only it stopped with a puerile tweet, but it doesn’t. This banalizing use of the f-word in Social Media is creeping beyond the confines of Twitter, FB etc. (we’ll skip Reddit and 4Chan) and into everyday offline exchanges from people you’d think more articulate. What people don’t seem to understand is that for maximum, devastating effect the f-bomb should remain a deletive, not an adverb, not an adjective, or even a “thank you” because the milkman left a red top instead of a Gold top on the doorstep this morning… I got my eye on you, melon farmer!

But don’t get me wrong. I love a good “turn the air blue” tirade. No, seriously, there’s nothing better to clear the air and lower the blood pressure than haranguing a driver (m/f/x) for being a dork. In fact, I love flinging the odd expletive deletivenom d’oiseau” (literally “Bird name”, in reality, some foul-mouthed profanity) at some jerk (m/f/x) who abruptly changes three lanes in front of me at the traffic lights before turning off without indicating.

You see. Shouting French profanities out the car window is a hangover from long years driving around places like Marseille. It serves a purpose and is part of the culture. On the other hand, punctuating an anodyne conversation about whether Soya drink is milk with invective is pointless. It’s also mind-numbingly lazy, slovenly and sign of advanced cognitive dissonance. I mean what’s with effing and blinding simply because someone disagrees with you? “hey! I like Almond drink. You? WTF. You like Oat drink? Seriously? Well, screw you, Hey… guy here likes Oatly Oat Drink!

Again, I’ve nothing against tossing the occasional cuss word but not to the point that it obscures perfectly coherent reasoning from otherwise intellectually, cognitively rational individuals, goddamnit.

For example, several years ago someone took me to task for qualifying some irrelevant act as “Machiavellian”. His reasoning was that yes, while Niccolò Machiavelli is admittedly widely renowned for his work “The Prince”, he was also a diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist and senior official in the Florentine Republic (recognized as the father of modern political science, freeing politics from theology…) and as such references to his works should be used intelligently… So, you see, here was a person who helped me understand the importance of intellectual nimbleness himself resorting to banal invective to finish off an email. It was lazy and I told him so.

Conspiracy Take Down

Talking of intellectual nimbleness, or the lack of. Another phenomenon flourishing on Social Media is the amplification of whatever the latest flavour of the month conspiracy theory happens to be. Take the Notre Dame theory for example. Just watch how, between fake right-wing info’ sites and botched AI, this particular conspiracy theory is setting Social Media on fire and people are slurping it up.

There was a time when I enjoyed reading a juicy conspiracy theory, you know, Ancient Aliens, Area 51, the missing 09/11 Pentagon plane , that sort of thing, but that was fifteen or so years ago when you had to go to a specialized website forum to follow the thread. Now people don’t bother, they just check out a sub-thread in Reddit.

Reminds me of an episode from Elementary (The Red Team [1.13]). Watson queries Holmes’ studying of conspiracy theories. Holmes’ comeback to Watson’s question (“I thought there was no such thing as conspiracy theories?”) sums it up perfectly: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Watson.” Says it all, really doesn’t it?.

And just to finish nailing the lid on manipulating hobgoblins, a media outlet recently published an article relaying the theory that the dreams you can’t remember might never have occurred. I mean who bothers trying to recall dreams, and to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick film: “… house cleaning. Well. You clean up the dirt, there’ll be some more tomorrow” so why go to all the trouble?

Someone I know has a clear opinion on the matter, and rightly so. Why not question what others consider to be a done deal? And even if you see things differently take a step back to see why that person is challenging what many consider to be an irreversible fait accompli, especially when doing so may improve your life as well.

Whether you consider dreams an esoterical experience, a simple succession of images or the brain defragmenting its hard drive (or a hierarchical storage management system restructuring the data) is incidental. It’s all about being in charge and being able to question, and change, the generally accepted order of things and if you don’t agree well, it’s a free world but let me finish off by hijacking the words of the sagacious John McClane: “Thanks for the advice.”

Posted in Social Media, Society | Tagged , ,

The Nomad Syndrome

The nomad syndrome strikes again! After six years of a “gemütlich” if predictable life in Germany, wife, cats, the fish in their tank and I decided to pack our bags, fold our yurt and head north to greener pastures in pursuit of an objective.

You would have thought that any family with a plan would have done better to stay put and pursue their objectives in familiar and stable surroundings, especially as after six years in Germany a citizen of a member state of the European Union could apply for permanent residence and why not German citizenship. It was there for the asking, but no.

You could also be forgiven for thinking that with Brexit looming any convinced and proven British europhile would or should jump at the economic and social stability permanent German residence would offer, but no.

What made us want to throw caution to this wind, give up the stability and security of life in Germany and go somewhere else? What could possibly make this Brit pass up on the prospect of permanent German residence and why not German citizenship? The answer is simple: An urge for a different lifestyle in a different environment with different values and of course, better financial well-being, in short, something other than Germany was offering…
Plus, at the end of the day, obtaining German citizenship wasn’t something my spouse and I were willing to consider, in itself or as part of our plans, a point that ultimately weighed on our decision to move to Holland.

Holland, He Wrote

After what’s euphemistically called a change of circumstance, and a chat with the wife, I responded to and accepted an opportunity in Amsterdam*. This meant moving there, and although the material advantages sealed the deal, yet another international house move was still a daunting prospect.
*Actually, I’d been offered two new interesting missions, one in Germany and one in Holland. The German mission was continuity, the Dutch mission was change and as I was in the unique position of having a choice I savoured the moment before throwing caution to the wind and choosing not Love over Gold but change over continuity.

So opening my trusty, dog-eared Microsoft XL format relocation/house moving project planning sheet we set about planning a plan within a plan. I ran through the list of tasks and timelines for moving from France to Germany and then around Germany, Cologne to Munich, Munich to Frankfurt, and adapted it accordingly. We cancelled subscriptions, found a flat, packed boxes, booked the movers and generally let everybody know who needed to know we were moving, immediately triggering a host of “Win back” robocalls from internet and mobile operators.

That was last November. It’s April now and approximately two months after moving house we’re busy taking in a new culture, learning a new language, discovering strange new taxes and tasting a different style of cooking and guess what? I’ll take an Indonesian Bami Goreng over toasted sandwiches any day.

Yes, I’m glad we came to Holland, really I am. The original idea was to start our project in Germany. On paper it looked good, seemed holistic enough, we thought, but we had the impression something was missing.

So after getting our little ducks in a row we decided that Holland might be better suited for kick-starting our project. And you know what? I’m glad we did because two months after and we’d already collected some valuable information concerning our long-term project we would have missed had we stayed in Germany.

The End? Not Quite Yet!

Relocating is tiresome, very tiresome and the only easy part of this particular house move was the day I said yes to the job mission. Recurrent relocation only makes sense if it’s part of a bigger plan. That said, it’s often the most abstract of things that can make or break a relocation, like finally being able to rebuild the sofa after thinking you’d lost some accessory or other. Personally, what made this relocation a success was my wife’s squeal of pleasure as I carried her across the threshold of our new home. Would I do anything different next time? (oh, yes. There’ll be a next time) Yep! I’ll book a mover and let them do everything. It’ll cost more but I made a promise to my wife.

So why go to all that trouble? Why wave goodbye to continuity in Germany for something completely different? At first glance, coming to Holland may look a bit like going “… to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head”, so be it, but believe me, there’s design behind the apparent folly.

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Laying the Past to Rest

‘Despair and die’ the spirits tell Richard III before the Battle of Bosworth… ‘Live and flourish’ say the same spirits to the sleeping Earl of Richmond.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of going [back] to France with my significantly better half, to Lake Annecy to be exact, the time of a weekend for a wedding and not just any but my son’s.

Given the family and its history, it was a supernova waiting to happen. There were so many ghosts of deeds past, and persons very much alive waiting for me that in the days leading up to the visit long-buried memories were surfacing that should have stayed where they belonged, in the deepest and darkest black holes of the Past.

As I lay in bed, awake between sleep cycles, staring into the darkness I wondered how as the Bridegroom’s father I was going to deliver a speech and what could I possibly say without finding myself ensnared in the said black hole.

For those who didn’t know or haven’t seen “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, traditionally the parents are supposed to deliver a post-ceremony/dinner speech, to wish the bridal pair well and reminisce on when they used to bounce the new married couple on their respective knees, change nappies, take them to school etc., you know the usual kids growing up stuff. As the Bridegroom’s father I spent the nights leading up to the wedding imagining scenarios to see whether I successfully could finish the speech without some antagonist jumping up and pouring invective all over me… The only thing missing, as I lay there in the dark, was some Shakespearean spirit hovering over me demanding retribution for, or urging me to right, perceived wrongs. In retrospect, the spirits were there, they just weren’t Shakespearean.

Fortunately for me, and for my sanity, a level-headed, coffee-fueled discussion with my beloved set the record straight. Priorities were discussed and the past versus the future debated until, the fruit of serious introspection, it dawned upon me that the only person who could do anything about it, and the only person who could lay the past to rest, was me. It was time to transgress a golden rule of mine, that of never looking back and do some soul searching because to paraphrase something someone themselves erroneously paraphrasedThe secret of change is not to fight the past but to focus on building the future”.

As it transpired it was the right thing to do. While a certain tension was perceptible the antagonists tacitly understood that the day belonged to the bridal pair, who, incidentally, had shrewdly done everything possible to minimize the risks and happy smiling antagonists, seated apart – far apart, having understood they were there for a unique and common cause, enjoyed the ceremony and listened approvingly to speeches by the Bride’s family … That day, the knives remained sheathed but know this Iago, for such villainy twenty five years is yesterday.

Peach Jam and Giants

The other reason for going to France was, well, because it’s France. We didn’t regret moving away, to Germany, an astute move in many ways but we missed the little things, things you take for granted until you don’t have them any more. For us, we used to pick some of these little things up at the local, XL-sized supermarket, aka Hypermarket, aka Grande Surface, we used to visit in France*, the cheeses, the meats, the syrops, the special mix of coffee (Arabica & Robusta) we liked amongst other things…
(*Very large surface so-called “Hypermarkets”, such as Carrefour, Auchan & Géant Casino, can also be found in other countries, e.g. Spain and Italy, but strangely enough not in Germany.)

…So recalling the deliciously chunky peach jam and the freshly made aromatic coffee we used to have for breakfast, and with two of the three items on our bucket list for the weekend already ticked off, we searched the car’s GPS for and found, our preferred “Grande Surface” from way back when.

With a couple of hours to go before the wedding ceremony, my wife and I walked into the Géant Casino hypermarket and headed for the Jams and Breakfast section. What we actually came out with was a different matter but then you don’t go into such places and expect to come out with what was actually on the shopping list.

Why bore you with the details? We had a yearning for this jam and that coffee as we remembered them. Arriving back home from France we realized that while the jam was nice it was no longer an essential part of our life today. These were elements of a life we had taken major steps to change. Having moved on we could now, without remorse, put such yearnings, and memories, back where they came from and forget about them.

What revisiting the past the time of a weekend did, and this might sound cynical, was to illustrate that if people or objects no longer play a role in one’s life it’s for a reason. It’s thinking about those who are with you today that is important. Your focus must be on creating a better future and you can’t do that with one foot still in the past.

[Edited]

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Alternative Facts About Kids These Days (…or any day for that matter)

(Social Media, before Insta-book)

According to an article in the Guardian, young adult fantasy films were all the rage a few years ago but that times had changed and teenagers no longer had a taste for such things. What? Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange will always be my #1 favourite “Y.A.” fantasy film.

The article was of course referring to Harry Potter & Co. and yes, times have changed but teenagers today are the same as when The Who sang “The Kids are alright” in 1968, The Offspring sang The Kids Aren’t Alright in 1998, and they’re the same as those streaming Aggretsuko in 2018.

They all have the same problems, the same battles, the same dreams. They have the same life challenges like eating disorders, bullying – mobbing*, studies, exclusion, depression, money, parents… parenthood, it’s just they’re going about it differently, using today’s tools.

* Mobbing? Let’s see… Aged eleven, I got sent to a secondary school in London, with my posh private primary school accent and shiny shoes I was meat. One day in class the Alpha lad got the other boys to walk past my desk and hit me over the head. I waited until it was the Alpha lad’s turn, stood up and swung a punch. I knew I was in for a beating, the others knew I was in for a beating but apparently, it was some sort of test. They weren’t expecting a posh kid to fight back and I became one of the lads after that.

The second and last time I remember standing up to a mobbing was when I was 14 or so. I worked in a grocery store near home after school, filling shelves and delivering small orders to nearby clients. One day, leaving the shop through the back door I suddenly found myself surrounded by several boys who worked next door. Outnumbered but very pissed off, I ran home, just up the road, picked up an empty glass milk bottle and ran back down to the shop. Two things then happened: 1) my brother saw me and took the bottle away from me (said I had to settle things without the bottle) and 2) a big kid who worked in another shop stepped out and told the kids to leave me alone or else. Surprised that a kid like me knew how to look after himself and had a karateka friend the lads left me alone after that… just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving.

Dispelling Myths and Legends

Wanting to show that things weren’t any easier today The Guardian, them again, published an article about how being single today in the UK was tough. The journalist wrote and I paraphrase, “…ordinarily, we like to scare the hell out of our youth by claiming that Sex is bad, don’t do drugs and Rock’n’roll died with Amy Winehouse – here’s Ed Sheeran!*…”
*Really? Ed Sheeran? And who’s “We”? Millennials? Adults? Journalists? … Millennial Adult Journalists? Personally, the only people I want to scare off are those who try imposing alternative facts or disrupting personal boundaries.

OK, so the journalist was making a point but take a minute to think how teenagers, Gen Zers, read that message? I know how I read it. a) It forgets that reverse psychology is water off a duck’s back to a teenager, b) It perpetuates, not bridges the “Us & Them” chasm-like divide between teenagers and adults and most importantly, c) it ignores the fact that most teenagers don’t give a *Hoot* what Main Stream Media in general or the Guardian, in particular, have to say.
(For the record, Rock’n’Roll didn’t die with Amy Winehouse, it died with Elvis, everyone over 40 knows that.)

But here’s the thing. Events in the US are showing that teenagers are stepping up and speaking out against the failings of a system driven by short-term corporate, political and journalistic gain. They always have done but now, instead of writing their anger on walls, virtual or IRL, they are taking it to senators and representatives and are being listened to. It’s a shame it took a mass shooting in a school to be heard. It also dispels the myth that wisdom comes with age and that the media, established or otherwise, channels unbiased, agenda-free information.

Speaking of myths, and legends. Personally, music was always and still is my special universe, a secret garden filled with demons & wizards, eagles, echoes, silver machines and stairways to heaven. That said, and according to this one particular article, it seems I’m reaching the age where because a fair number of my teenage Rock idols are, for various reasons passing away (Chris Squire, Lemmy, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leonard Cohen, Gregg Allman… to name but them) my secret garden is slowly but surely, even inexorably disappearing into some black hole leaving me mourning my own mortality (seems I also have to throw away those pictures my son drew for me at school). Thankfully we live in an age where 60 is the new 40. Yes, my LPs are all beat up now but on the other hand, my digital library is very healthy and rather heteroclite, thank you.

Fight the Power

But why peddle the myth that Classic Rock is dead or will die out with its heroes? As long as the inspiration is there and the technology allows, Classic Rock will, like most other types of music, live on beyond the current crop of stars, musicians or paladins.

As Amy Whitehouse proved, Rock isn’t the reserve of 60+-year-old, male, white “Baby Boomers” or pseudo-intellectuals. It also proves the same problems exist today that got kids listening to Janis Joplin in the 60s, Lou Reed and Nico in the 70s, the Dead Kennedys in the 80s, the Nine Inch Nails in the 90s and Coldplay in the 00s.
Conclusion. Nobody is interested in the whole white male, pseudo-intelligentsia Rockism versus Popism thing. No really, who cares? Certainly not the kids. They have more important things to worry about, like being the adult in the room on more serious debates.

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Zeitgeist

Checking the news on Twitter one morning, skipping over the latest op-ed from a named author about the March Hare and his Washingtonian rabbit hole, I got side-tracked into reading an article from The New York Review of Books. Essentially all about passports and freedom of movement I was about to close the web page when I noticed that the article was using the film “Casablanca” as a backdrop.

““Casablanca is more than seventy-five years old. If released today, it would surely be criticized for its moralizing American nationalism, as well as for celebrating French colonial rule without featuring a single Moroccan protagonist”
The New Passport-Poor
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian”

The film itself was in turn contextualized, the real antagonists being French Colonialism, Fascism, and American nationalism, not Rick or Ugarte or Signor Ferrari. What’s more, the article, in my mind, rightly confirmed that the morals and moeurs of an epoch should be seen through the eyes of that epoch.

I’m convinced that “Casablanca”, like “Gone with the Wind” or “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, reflected the Zeitgeist of their times, as have a multitude of works before or since that might look so out of place today. That said, I was intrigued to read on Twitter that JK Rowling could never have showcased Dumbledore’s homosexuality when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published otherwise the books would never have got published and that was just twenty years ago.

(It never occurred to me that Dumbledore’s homosexuality was relevant or even intrinsic to the story as JK Rowling wrote it but diversity is part of today’s Zeitgeist, and rightly so. It’s also commercially profitable, not so rightly so… I just hope there’s no remake or solo sequels of The Hobbit just to bring out the diversity of specific characters to make them more appealing to certain market segments today.)

Illusions

Not content with being side-tracked once already that morning, another article caught my attention. Like the first, this second article reflected on how today’s society, with today’s standards, is looking at past cultural moeurs differently.

If the previous article referenced Casablanca this article was using the Wild West for context referencing not just any cowboy but John Wayne himself! If it had been Star Wars, Star Trek or LoTR and if you are of a certain age and education you might not have reacted but I heard you there: Wait, what, John Wayne? The gatekeeper of American culture, with films such as Arizona, The Cowboys, The Alamo and The Green Berets? Holy Moley. Is nothing sacred?

Apparently not. Everything needs looking at with today’s values. Gone are the days when cowboy films were just that. Yes, John Wayne films conveyed a certain message to foreign audiences but then so did Blazing Saddles or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (read the quotes for both films, I’ll wait…) not to mention M*A*S*H*.

Sound Bites and Memes

In one episode of the OK-ish TV series CSI: Cyber, while researching a Person of Interest, the character Brody Nelson commented on how he couldn’t find anything online concerning his fellow Gen Z/colleague/nemesis, Black-cum-White Hat colleague, Raven Ramirez. Raven Ramirez responded, approximately, “You won’t because I don’t post, I observe” which in this day and age is pretty unusual, given that the major preoccupation on Social Media these days seems to be that selfie, that meme or that mic’ dropping one-line burner that gets everyone wanting to be your friend.

No estoy en Facebook

Call it fatigue or saturation but, with the exception of my favourite Professional SoMe platform and for reasons talked about in a previous blog, chasing after social media glory has lost it’s attraction. Cultivating a few choice contacts and drawing from a few select and objective sources of information, pretty much whatever the pro or the contra, is way more engaging and inductive than being force fed a selection of “Best Of” sound-bite politics with their threads of expletive loaded whataboutism comments and comebacks with attendant Willy Wonka or Pepe memes.

Free Willy

Following the introduction of the EU’s GDPR late May (2017) the EU’s Legislative Committee had, June 20 (2017), voted on the EU Copyright Directive, and will vote the directive into law in July this year. This measure will effectively redefine online copyright protection in the EU and by extension the way we currently use the internet, content, streaming, and even memes.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops because in spite of coming into being for a good reason, the protection of copyrighted intellectual property, the challenge is going to be respecting and monitoring it’s application.

It’s going to be interesting to see who will or who is big enough to take on analyzing the wealth of content circulating on the internet and enforcing copyright adherence. One thing is for sure, the copyright trolls are going to have a field day.

Lastly, it’s going to be interesting to see how potential conflicts with the GDPR will be dealt with. There’s no doubt that companies in a position to analyze all the content, e.g. Google, will have the infrastructure to do so and avoid any conflict with GDPR but what about all the other platforms and sites that until now have exploited the doctrine of “Fair Use”, e.g. for genuinely non-commercial purposes?

What’s sure is that leveraging news reporting is going to be closely monitored as will most certainly using copyright images, parodying, criticism and commentary, with or without memes and ultimately that might not be a bad thing. It might make content creators, carriers and consumers a little more attentive/ circumspect about what’s going online.

Posted in Everyday life, Social Media, Society