181: Tile

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Jorge Tsipos, Adam Direen and Tom Heath take another adventure into the absurd with another weekly episode of the Unnatural Selection Podcast. Every seven (or so, the details are extreemely sketchy) days the Unnatural Selection boys take it upon them selves to churn up a warm slew of news and current affairs goodness and they pour it into a blender for a solid fourty-five minutes and then re-gurgitate the comedy, info-tainment goodness into your warm, keen ears for your brain-joyment.

On today's episode we discuss:

- Australia actually repeals its carbon tax

- Israel launches ground forces into Gaza and everything's going to go great for everyone

- Malaysian Arlines flight MH17 shot out of the sky is today's visual signifyer (everything's not awesome)

- Manuel Noriega (the murdering dictator) is suing activision for defamation of character... But actually.

- Stupid Republicans are stupid

- Gates to hell open in Siberia

- Warren Buffet gives $2.1 billion to the Gates foundation, securing his place as most awesome dude ever.

- A tokoyo artist has been arrested for distributing a 3D printable version of her vagina. Japan is weird. 

- A journalist publishes his twitter password and everyone loses their freaking minds

- Uber X has been stopped in Melbourne and it's all bullshit

- Comcast might be the worst company in the world

And those are all the things we've discussed, with absolutely no exceptions whatsoever. 

Go to the Unnatural Selection website and click on things.

@JorgeTsipos @Tom_Heath1 @UnnaturalShow

The Most Important Thing Left Out of the Budget Discussion

There's been a lot of hoop-lah and ballyhoo and other old-timey words that indicate a ruckus over the most recent budget announced by the Liberal government. It's mostly warrented and as far as I'm concerned I think most of those conservative hypocrites can fuck themselves all to death - but there is one thing that bothers me more than anything. Aside from all the cuts to hospitals and the cuts to essentially everything that is a thing, what really grinds my gears is the assault that's being mounted on the education system.

And before I get stuck in, stop focusing on Tony Abbott's 'not-bad-looking-daugher' getting a scholarship. It's frankly none of our business. I could give a fuck. Anyone who's well connected can do that. Of all the sins this government has committed that's not even close to the most grave.

 Not bad.

Not bad.

The thing that does bother me about this education debate is that education is being framed in a far too reductive way; simply in turns of 'Return on Investment' (or ROI). Far too often I've heard Christopher Pyne talking about how the 60% of Australian Battler's are funding the education costs of someone going to uni and that's not fair. Here's a newsflash: that's what government is for.

I may not like the School Chaplaincy Program (and just to be clear, I don't, it's dumb) but my tax dollars, in part, go to fund it anyway. That's the point of living in a democracy. That's the social contract to which we have all agreed. I sacrifice a part of my salary every week and in turn I have roads and hospitals and schools and stuff that are important for running a damn society. I may not agree how every single dollar is spent ($24bn on new jets we don't need, for example) but that's the agreement I've made. 

 I know you want me...

I know you want me...

It's not right (or frankly fair) for me to turn around and say 'Hey, I don't have a vagina, so why are my tax dollars going to pap smears or breast scans?' Why? I don't personally have this issue, so why should I help in that specific regard? Because it's a society, you twat. You have something that costs money that nobody else has. If you walk to work there is still part of your pay check that is going to roads. If you are a woman, you are in part, paying for some old guy to get his prostate removed. That's what being a society is. We ALL contribute and we do our best to look after EVERYONE. Allegedly. 

It's not good enough to say, 'Oh well, I got my education, fuck youse.' That's not good enough. Education, in particular, is something that benefits everyone. Literally. If you go to university you are statistically likely to earn 8% more for the rest of your life for every year you spend in tertiary education. That extra money that you earn, guess what, gets taxed and you more than pay for your education over the course of your life. Literally everyone wins. 

 http://degreesearch.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/bright_outlook_infographic2.gif

http://degreesearch.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/bright_outlook_infographic2.gif

Now forget all that. It's true, but it's very reductive. The fact is, having a highly educated society is just good. It's good to have. When did we forget this? Getting further education (any education) means you are generally a more open, thoughtful and considerate person than you otherwise would have been. Education makes you more employable and with a highly educated society we are more likely to elect good politicians and make quality decisions. Education is the primary imperative of any society that wants to be a world leader in anything. Everyone should have the option to get further education if they want it.

If you want to encourage people to build businesses and tech startups and every other single job of the future, you need one thing: smart people that have specialised skills. Skills that they likely got from Universities that they could afford. By locking a single person out of this system we could be dooming the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg from ever starting in the first place. Just because he started poor.

 Where'd I go? Oh right, Harvard. Cause I could afford it.

Where'd I go? Oh right, Harvard. Cause I could afford it.

Sure, you can put all your University fees on a government loan (at up to 6% interest now - which is double what I get from my 'high-interest savings account') but if the cost of your degree from a prestigious University ends up doubling or tripling, you might think twice about getting it in the first place. Say you drop-out or you never earn enough money to begin paying it back. Mazeltov! You now have tens of thousands of dollars (maybe over a hundred thousand dollars) worth of debt, climbing at a potential rate twice that of inflation and wage increases. Good luck ever trying to get a home loan with that red mark against your name. No, seriously, good luck.

All this does is lock people into cycles of poverty. If all you can ever do is afford a second rate degree that nobody takes seriously, you will always remain second rate. You will never be able to compete with someone who paid $200,000 for a degree from the new 'Ivy League' that will form in Australia. Also, they may not go ahead an get that Art's Degree that they really want, but realistically provides fewer job opportunities. Yay for flushing culture down the drain!

 There's some stuff about farms, but the rest is relevant. 

There's some stuff about farms, but the rest is relevant. 

I foolishly believe that if someone is willing to learn and work hard, they should be afforded the same opportunity to get a degree that some rich kid can. Christopher Pyne says this deregulation of fees will encourage 'competition' because as we all know the most prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale always have to compete to get people to enter their doors. It's so hard! WHY CAN'T WE GET ANY STUDENTS?? He reckons it'll drive prices down. We'll see.

So, in summery, the most important thing that's been left out of the budget discussion is this: Education has so many more, wide-reaching benefits to all of society than just the ROI. Can someone please start talking about them?

To see the product of Jorge's Sandstone University education, follow him on twitter @JorgeTsipos and listen to the incredibly intelligent podcast Unnatural Selection.

Why 'Balance' is Bias In the News

I know I have a go at journalists a lot on this thing - and this entry will be no different. But I did want to take a second to reflect on how much I do really admire some journalists. Particularly those on Slate and Salon and other publications of that nature. There are really very many people out there that do the real work on reporting on real issues in the public interest. Things that are not always fun to hear and will never get a lot of clickthroughs (unless the world sprouts a conscience for a moment and there's a trending hashtag) but they write them anyway. Because for the people that are listening, it is important. No matter how much you might say to the contrary, all the information you get (at some point or another) probably came from a journalist - and that is worth acknowledging. Some journalists write and present thoughtful, well researched content that is important for people to know. Some.

Now, in particular I want to address some of the not-so-good journalists out there with his comment: stop presenting unbalanced issues as balanced. The typical model for a news network - to avoid any personal responsibility for controversy - is to get one person for the topic and one person against. As though it were an Oxford Style Debate in order to get to the bottom of a complex and layered issue. The fact is that some issues are not complex and layered and the scientific consensus is in. Some things do not require debate because they are settled.

For example, global warming debates have been going on for literally decades now. Always on a news network there's a famous scientist and some shit-head climate change skeptic that basically finds new and fabulous ways of saying 'The science isn't in yet' over and over and over. The onus seems to be on the scientist to 'convince' the professional skeptic of the truth - something that would certainly be a conflict of interest for the professional talk-show skeptic. Then after watching this charade for precisely enough time to go to commercial again, the host sits back and says 'Well, thanks for coming in fellas. I guess we'll never solve it. We'll be right back after the break.' Everyone goes their separate ways and nothing is solved.

For the viewer, they're left with the impression that those two points of view are somehow equal - because they are presented as such. The untrained eye of the viewer reads that both the for and against positions are evenly matched - when the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Literally 97% of climate change papers that take a view on the topic, agree that man made climate change is real. There is a consensus - there is no debate left.

When 77% of Americans believe in angels (real-life fucking angels with wings and shit) and half of Americans aren't sure about this medicine thing, there are probably more pressing things the public needs to be educated on, but my (and Jon Oliver's) response to this is: who gives a shit?

John Oliver hosts a mathematically representative climate change debate, with the help of special guest Bill Nye the Science Guy, of course.

Like Neil Degrasse Tyson says "They brilliant thing about science is it exists whether you believe in it or not." Who cares whether these people agree or not? Apparently a quarter of people are still skeptical about man-made climate change. As if their opinion makes a difference. Some people believe that there are lizards running the government - are we going to wait to convince them there aren't before we have elections? No, we get on with it. Things are at stake.

More doctors have issues believing in cancer than scientists who deny climate change so it's time the news sacked up and stopped presenting issues as 'balanced' when they're complete bullshit. You job is to be a presenter of the facts, do some research, find the facts and stand behind them. Don't make Bill Nye do all the heavy lifting for you so you can retain some plausible deniability. You're a journalist, do journalism.

If we wait for 100% consensus from the public before we act we'll be waiting for an awful long time. You'll never get 100% consensus on anything - some people are stupid and they have stupid opinions. Not 100% of people are going to do the research. Not 100% of people are rational, sane, logical, thoughtful people. Some people are fuckwits and will always be fuckwits that have fuckwit opinions. Some people thought Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton and Niki Minaj could all act and cast them in a fucking movie. Some people are just wrong about things. If you have a poll 'Are good things good?' you will still not get a 100% consensus on that. Move on. The only debate left about climate change is: what should we do about it?

Do not present things that are not equal, equally. Do not hide between the idea of 'balance' because all it is encouraging is bias. Get it together journalism.

To follow all of Jorge's incredibly rational and balanced commentary, follow him on twitter @JorgeTsipos and listen to his very objective podcast Unnatural Selection with your ears.

 

Why Most News You See Isn't Actually News

I would argue that news is something which falls under the classic notion of a 19th century-mustacioed-man-working-at-a-paper-of-record-kind-of-thing. What does news have to be? It is objective. It is, by definition, new. It is something that is important and part of the public interest. The geo-political struggle in Ukraine and Syria, that's a story. A rich, old, white man said something racist  in his house, that's not a story. Some billionaires got into a punch on, that is not news. It's fun. It's entertaining. It's stupid. It is many things. But it is not news.

Journalists have twitter accounts. This was a good idea for about 30 seconds. People thought "Oh, that's great, I can follow my favorite journalist". And then they tweeted. And kept tweeting. And kept tweeting after that. In a bid to capture clickthroughs and likes and retweets and shares journalists and reputable news sites began to tweet. Great. All the stuff you need, right when you need it, right? Wrong. 

 It's... it's still made of coffee, right?

It's... it's still made of coffee, right?

All it means is that 'journalists' or 'content aggregators' as I like to call them, simply have to bow down before the alter of content creation and the large bull-god effigy that is the hungry mouth of the internet and keep updating. Even if there's no news. Just keep updating. Keep shoveling shit into the bottomless pit. Keep promoting 'engagement' at whatever the cost - because god help us if we're ever bored for a minute. What's that? Kim Kardashian's ass? Don't mind if I do...

This is what I call the CNN effect. The 24 hour news cycle. The constant need for content - the newest, freshest content, regardless of what the content contains. As though in some sort of Orwellian twist the word means exactly the opposite of what it suggests. As most expertly evidenced by CNN and their myriad of reporters on street corners bring you the latest news on nothing in particular. Or their 'reporting' of the Malaysia Airlines incident which they handled with both charm and tact...

The internet is also to blame. Just generally. I don't hate the internet, I love it. But it has kind of dismantled traditional media models. In the days of newspapers there was an economic model that still allowed for integrity. Sure, you might not be the number one paper, but you knew you were doing gods work for queen and country and damn it all to hell if anyone should say otherwise. Being the second most rich and powerful man is still alright.

But now news papers aren't turning a profit, and even if they were, the emphasis now is not - nor can it really be, unless independently funded - about deep, penetrating journalism. The economic model just isn't there. Nobody expects people to do this stuff for free. In their own time. It's not logical. If you can't make a living being a journalist or a photographer, you will be something else. Simple as that. It's not evil. It's not a conspiracy from the government to keep us stupid (though I'm sure they're positively gleeful at the prospect) but it's just a matter of incentives. The incentives to do good, quality journalism aren't there.

Most importantly it isn't what people want. Sure, it's what they need but people oh so rarely ever have what they need over what they want. That's why there's an obesity epidemic and Katy Perry continually tops the charts over classical music and kale and goji berry salads. What gets eyes (and importantly advertisers) are clickthroughs. Engagement. Social. Yadda yadda yadda.

So naturally, if you're someone wanting to make a buck (and I don't blame you if you do) what are you thinking? Give the public what they want. In spades. Cat videos and pictures of food and Kardashians, because as much as we all like to say we care about Vladimir Putin restarting the Cold War; what we really (secretly) want to see is some tits. And get a rageboner at them. 

If you're competing for eyes, you are going to be more sensational. You're going to have eye catching info-graphics and headlines. Headlines which are so sensational that they may not actually have anything to do with what the content of the article/video is. It's just about re-framing mediocre content in order to capitalize on that click through. It doesn't matter if 'after 40 seconds you will have an epiphany' or not. It's too late. They've already won. They got that clickthrough and the few cents it bought them and fuck you for caring. Have you ever finished a 3 minute clip from 'Ellen' and thought 'Wait. Why did I watch that, again?' This is why.

Because there is a whole bunch of stuff that we think is news that isn't news. If it's on Facebook, it's probably not news. If it doesn't come from a reputable website, it's probably not news. If it's claiming something that couldn't possibly be true, it's almost definitely not news. And if it claims to solve a problem for you for 'one low, low price' I can almost guarantee that's not news. By appealing to your curiosity and your constant thirst for 'newness' they end up building empires of 'information' on sand.

But there is a way to combat this. Rob them of the eyes they so richly crave and they become nothing. If everyone stops looking at Charlie Sheen and Justin Bieber they simply cease to exist. Refuse to engage with anything about them. On Facebook, in life. When you take away the eyes you take away the power - because they only have anything because we as a society chose to give it to them. Stop clicking on Buzzfeed and Upworthy and Gawker and instead click on Slate and Salon and MotherJones. Verify something someone has said - google it! We live in an age where we have the entire sum of human endeavor aggregated at our fingertips at a moments notice, there's no excuse for being stupid. 

So the next time something tells you it's news, ask yourself 'Is it?'

For things that are definitely not the news, follow @JorgeTsipos on twitter and listen to his podcast Unnatural Selection. Or don't. Maybe read a book instead.

7 Ways Facebook Encourages Bad Behaviour

Facebook is a great thing. And like all great things, it's truly horrible. I enjoy posting silliness just as much as the next guy, but Facebook has a habit of encouraging what in real-life society would considered a faux-pas, at best, and sometimes gross narcissism at its worst. Facebook gives a megaphone to every single person with a computer and an internet connection. There's a reason, I think, that in past times only a few voices were heard and that may have something to do with the fact that only a few were worth hearing. People love attention, they love being 'social' as marketers have insisted we call it. Upon some further examination a lot of these behaviours don't appear very social at all. They take some of the facets of social interaction, but leave out the important costs and requirements.

1. Validation For Nothing

In a conversation with a human person in real life, for example, you can't prattle on about yourself for hours without asking anything about the other person. Well, you can, but there are very few people who will stand for that. You may not get a second date. On Facebook (Or Twitter, or Pintrest or whatever is in vogue right now - I know saying 'In Vogue' is not in vogue, by the way) there is no such restriction. You can post all the gym pics you like. You can talk about your diet or whatever dumb political or religious views you have and as a result you get likes, because most of your dumb friends are just like you. Facebook (and Google and whole bunch of other companies) are becoming increasingly good at predicting what it is you want to see and showing you exactly that - and nothing else.

It's easy to encourage this kind of bad behaviour because there is no negative feedback to these people - there's no one with the balls to say to someone's face 'hey buddy, tone it down a bit.' They might get de-friended! All you get are the people that enjoy this one particular thing and if you're broadcasting yourself to several hundred people at a time, there are bound to be people that agree with whatever inane bullshit you're saying. You can post almost anything  and some idiot will agree with it. Shit, Hitler had a girlfriend.

2. Image Crafting

By posting whatever it is you think that people want to hear or see from you, you are deliberately crafting a particular image of yourself. This, in itself, isn't a horribly bad thing - but when you consider the long term implications of this you realise it encourages some bad behaviour. You're only going to post the very best of the things that happen to you. Nobody, bar some comedians, are going to be putting negative images and perspectives about themselves into the world. This has a more cumulative and diffused effect than the previous post point as it mainly affects other people.

People see everyone around them is doing planks whilst eating organic kale and quinoa salad with their gorgeous partner at the coolest music festival in town and they think 'jeez my life is shit, I'm going to go eat four pizzas'. Sure, you might be having an amazing time everywhere you go, but wouldn't be a tad more honest (and realistic) to throw in something about your day that isn't amazing? Something that doesn't bore people or infuriate them? Maybe just sharing an article, or something interesting or funny. What people unwittingly do when they image craft is that they're creating a culture of perfection. They're using Facebook as a way of performing their identity. 

The sad part is as soon as someone puts something real on Facebook (something that isn't a list of cats arseholes or whatever) they get slammed down. They're bringing down the mood - as though life should be one big party all the time. As though the unsubscribe button wasn't a thing. Which it is. I've checked. Thoroughly. Image crafting is bad for the crafter as well as the person being marketed to.

3. Narcissism

Kind of a related point to needless image crafting - but aren't we sort of breeding a whole bunch of little narcissists with Facebook and Instagram? At what point did we all decide that taking pictures of ourselves making duck faces and putting it on the internet for anyone to see was an acceptable pastime? Could you imagine someone from the 1900's getting pictures of themselves done and blown up onto billboards so people could... like them? It all seems so odd. I know I must read like an old man, I just don't understand why that's relevant. What is the point of that? Doesn't it just breed a culture of people who are obsessed with themselves and how much everyone loves them? Measuring your self worth in terms of social engagement probably isn't the healthiest way to build a sense of self. I imagine.

It seems like a scene from Dante's inferno - everyone too busy broadcasting themselves to listen to anyone else for a second. 

4. Fake Relationship Maintenence  

Relationships that should've died long ago are being preserved by the magic that is Facebook. Time was you could abjectly forget someone and not have to be subjected to their lunacy on a regular basis. You only have to see those people that you actually see. But now everyone has 500 friends they actually feel like they have 500 friends! Everyone becomes the same. There are no circles of friends, no priorities. Everyone has this mill of rotating acquaintance relationships which we're all forced to treat equally.

There's no room for actual conversation because I'm already caught up on all the small-talk. I know you graduated your science degree because I saw it. I saw you have a new girlfriend and you met her at Uni and she's a waitress. I know you started a new job. There's no small talk left. Oh well, I'm sure the Facebook algorithm will show me something that happens in your life once it deems it of appropriate importance. 

5. Another Way To Crash Your Car

Apparently 21% of us use social media whilst driving - as though podcasts, music, a freeway and a family member's life in your hands as you drive a two tonne piece of rolling metal down the street wasn't enough stimulus for your dumb ass.

6. Relative Anonymity Never Made People Better 

That's... that's pretty much it. People are horrible.

7. Cry for Help

'Man that was horrible. Never doing that again.' Something which begs people to get involved. I get it, people need sympathy and occasionally, to know that people love them. It's fine. Just do it in private. Not everything has to be a big show. You're having a hard day? That sucks, lets talk about it over a coffee. What real consolation are you going to get from someone saying 'Hope ur okay babes xoxox'. Really, I'm asking. It seems like people are using social media as an emotional crutch, and sustained usage of any crutch leads to stunted development.

I want to finish this off by saying I enjoy Facebook. It's delivered a lot of great things into my life. Things I definitely would not have had if all I had was a rotary phone and my dick in my hands. I guess what I'm saying is; I'm afraid. This is unlike any era in human history preceding us and for once we have no map with which to guide ourselves. We were largely alone. It's scary, and I guess I just want people to transcend their instincts and use this remarkable gift of technology for better, not worse. I believe they can.

I hope I'm right. 

To get my own meaningless narcissism direct to your device follow me on twitter @JorgeTsipos and listen to my free, weekly podcast Unnatural Selection.

Why Game of Thrones Is Ruining The Internet

I love Game of Thrones. It's the best. It's got everything a young man wants in a TV show: A great story, lots of characters, political intrigue, boobs and the continual removal of people's heads. A spectacular thing. However, my love of this show has risen to a level where I actually care about the characters and the outcome - which places me at a significant risk.

Once you care about the characters and the story it's kind of hard to not let yourself be disappointed. Not by the show (always) but just by other people. We have an instantaneous culture now. Everyone gets everything immediately and then they share it immediately. You watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones and a big important thing happens and you think 'wow, all my friends are probably all amazed by it as well' and you take to social media and hashtag the shit outta that bitch. 

See, the problem is I don't care. I like to watch my show entirely independent of what YOU think of it. If I wanted your opinion I'd ask for it, and I certainly wouldn't do that, ON THE DAY IT CAME OUT! I wouldn't just ASSUME that everyone had seen it on OPENING NIGHT and then just start running my fucking mouth about it. I am a fucking classy gentleman after all. 

Back in the day where we had conversations and stuff, you actually had to be in the room with people. You actually had to see their faces and gauge responses based on body language. The polite thing to do would be to say 'Has everyone seen X?' if not everyone had, they could excuse themselves if they didn't want the thing spoiled. But now everyone just ejaculates whatever word-vomit they want into the ether and just expects everyone else to deal with it. It now becomes my problem if I don't want to see your shitty, dumb opinion about the latest episode of whatever. And the problem is you can't unread something

And you're not tricking anyone by being all cryptic and clever and shit. A veiled reference is still a reference and now you're collectively putting this thing in my head and I can't stop it. It ruined the last episode for me. I saw the big reveal coming - I can't believe Sansa was killed by that giraffe! Twice!

It's gotten to the stage that I know to not look at any social media on Monday nights in order to avoid GoT spoilers - which is especially hard for me because I am a #QandA hashtag fiend. It's ruinin' ma internets! And not that it's some big sacrifice for me to put my fucking phone down once in a while (#firstworldproblems and all that) I'd just like people to exercise the proper etiquette in regards to these matters. You can talk about New Girl all you like - I don't give two shits about that. But keep the Game of Thrones and True Detective spoilers to yourself for at least a week - if you could possibly manage it. I know you can't believe it - we all can't. Just let us find out at our own pace.

And to all those people who say read the book - fuck you. Have you seen those things? They're like 700 pages! I read, I just read other stuff that hasn't been show-ified yet. That's the point isn't it? So people like me who haven't read the books can get into it? Otherwise why bother making it into a series at all? Just read the book, it's always going to be better. Hard-ons.

Wow, I've just re-read that and it seems like I'm super pissed about all this. Just try not to spoil things on the internet for me if you could. Kthanksbai.

Follow @JorgeTsipos on twitter to see Jorge ruin all your favourite shows and listen to his free weekly podcast Unnatural Selection to have him ruin everything else for you too.

If This Then That

Automation is generally considered a good thing. The more you can automate something the more you have time for more pressing matters. If you can outsource something, and the cost of doing so is less than what it would cost you to do it (be that time or money) then the logical thing to do is to outsource that thing, right?

That being said, we increasingly have longer and longer work weeks. We pull more shifts for less money for more days. Though 'productivity' (an abigious metric if ever there was one) continues to rise and rise the amount of time we spend with our families goes down and down, along with our pay. Inequality and automation in a terrifying marriage. 

 http://thecurrentmoment.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/productivity-inequality-poverty/

http://thecurrentmoment.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/productivity-inequality-poverty/

 

Yet unemployment in some sectors has never been higher. We live in a post-industrial, post-manufacturing and soon-to be post-service world. Every time you walk through the automated check out you cost someone their job. And no, you can't stop that, but maybe you can slow it down a tad - because the people at the top don't suffer from automation, it's the people right at the bottom. 

I discovered an app recently called 'If This Then That' which is all about programming your phone to do ever more detailed customizable functions of your daily life. It can do almost anything. For example IF I take a selfie, THEN email it to my mum. Or whatever. It has a plethora of time-saving and life brightening applications and I got really stoked. Think of all the time this will save me at work! Every time I upload a photo to the work Instagram it now immediately uploads to the work Facebook and the work twitter. Brilliant!

And then I thought  'geez, I hope they don't invent a program that can do social media, or I'm out of a job.' And there's the central dilemma of the progression of technology and the life of the worker: the things that make our life easier now will take our livelyhood away one day. 

Sure, you could employ everyone to build a road. Have one dude mixing cement, another flattening the road, another redirecting traffic, another measuring stuff. 100% employment. Instead of ATM's have a dude with a bag of money. Instead of Amazon, go down to your local bookstore. You see what I'm getting at here. 

 Amazon killed my father - and raped my mother!

Amazon killed my father - and raped my mother!

But if you follow that logic there is no progress.  We're back in the dark ages using our donkey to grind corn. Or whatever. Where would civilization be without the cement mixer or the 'stop' sign? So as the inevitable goose step of progress marches on I must have faith that new industries will be created to replace the old ones. Right? No one ever thought 'apps' would be a thing - now it's a multibillion dollar industry with thousands of jobs. 

The irony is I love automation, I think it's great. It saves me time. It's convenient. It makes my life better. But how long before I too become a victim of that, just like everyone else and become one of three things: a computer maintanence person, a software programmer or a content creator? Part of the big, giant machine entertaining itself through to oblivion.  How long until I become like one of those obese figures from Wall-e that just sits on his fat ass all day, entertaining himself? 

 Guys, I was thinking we could go out... Guys? Guys..?

Guys, I was thinking we could go out... Guys? Guys..?

If this (automation) then that (the world ends). Something to think about. Or not. I don't know.

Follow @JorgeTsipos on twitter to get his automated humour and listen to his free weekly podcast Unnatural Selection.

 

 

Why I'm Sick of Hearing About Mass Shootings

After the shooting at Fort Hood this week I find myself strangely disengaged from the gun control debate raging in America. Granted, I'm an Australian citizen with no real stake in the matter - but I do visit NYC every year or so and so I feel I have a right to speak on the matter. 

I used to be engaged. I used to care when Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would make excellent points about common-sense gun control regulation and I would always be disappointed when those proposed measured failed in congress. Every time after another mass shooting I would be heartbroken that the world's leading superpower would have overwhelming public support for a measure and yet a few wealthy special interest groups and a whole lot of self-preservation would make elected representatives vote against it. Democracy failing, yet again, to work in America.

 Fuck yeah, indeed

Fuck yeah, indeed

But now I don't care anymore. I've simply grown hard and callous against this sort of news because I just can't deal with it. I personally can't feel the tragedy of all these deaths and have empathy for them. I have limited sympathy for a country that refuses to address their own problems. For a country that recognises that something is wrong, can do something to change it and elects not to do so. It's going to sound harsh, but how many mass shootings have to occur at once before the conservative nut-jobs will pry their cold, unfeeling hands from their killing machines? 

Here in Australia the number was one. One mass shooting in Port Arthur and the conservative party enacted sweeping gun control in the course of a few months. Australia, unlike America it seems, was willing to learn its lesson from one second with it's hand on the stove - unlike the Americans who seem content to continually press their faces to it and then wonder why their head hurts.

 I can hold it on longer!

I can hold it on longer!

Americans love citing the 2nd Amendment of the constitution as if that's somehow relevant. An ancient document can never - and will never - account for all the complexities of future life. Be it the bible or the constitution, they didn't plan for the internet, drones, submachine guns, armour piercing rounds or flappy bird. It is a piece of paper, you and your government decides the values that you hold -  the opinions of a whole bunch of archaic, male, dead slave owners from the 1700's should not have a fucking say in it. End of story. Would we still be applying leeches if it was in the constitution? Jesus.

The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, right? You'd think they would've been in abundance in Fort Hood, the military base. Ultimately it was suicide that brought this guy down - not police, not automatic weapons and certainly not the constitution. He was surrounded by military personal with guns and that didn't stop him. That's the last time I want to hear the 'well if everyone had guns...' argument. But it won't be. I guarantee it.

 At least Hank from Breaking Bad is on the case. Should have results within 6 seasons or so.

At least Hank from Breaking Bad is on the case. Should have results within 6 seasons or so.

After an incident like this there are always calls from Republicans to overhaul the mental health system but they're always cutting funding and services for that system. We want a better mental healthcare system, so what should we do? Vote 46 times to repeal the affordable care act so those people can actually get mental healthcare? Good idea. 

For now I'll just be grateful that I live in Australia, and hope that on one of my visits to America I don't become another sacrificial lamb for the 18th Century piece of paper that so many unfortunate people have lost their lives for.

For more lefty pansy views follow @JorgeTsipos on twitter and listen to his podcast Unnatural Selection which is about news and things, which is a lot more lighthearted than this.

Why #CancelColbert is Entirely Ass-Backwards

Nope. That's Dumb. 

That should be all I have to say about this, but due to the overwhelming stupidity orbiting this news I have to go more in depth, because internet.

So, there's been a not inconsiderable amount of internet hate directed at Stephen Colbert and his character on The Colbert Report. On Wedensday the 26th of March the program consisted of Stephen's usual satirical antics. Some stuff about golf and entitled rich, white people doing stupid ignorant things and an informative interview with a documentary filmmaker. That was all. I didn't see anything that I would've considered out the the realm of the usual standards of the show.

Well, the internet happened. Not in reaction to the actual show, but of a tweet that some intern at Comedy Central was running. It was this:

You know he's a comedian, right? That's what he does. Even if it wasn't out of context (which it is) it would still be understandable because of how he has positioned his character. His character is an insensitive, right-wing bigot. If he offends you that's kind of the point. This is literally the entire point of satire.

The tweet was taken verbatim from a larger bit - making fun of the Redskins owner Dan Syner refusing to change the name of the team due to it's racial overtones and instead pulling a rather heavy-handed PR stunt by setting up a 'foundation' for 'Original Americans'. Colbert was satirising that.

The joke was that it's just as inappropriate saying 'Redskin' as it was to saying 'Ching-Chong Ding-Dong'. They are both stupid and offensive terms. Hence, funny. You really think that when Colbert says 'To Orientials or Whatever' he's not deliberately taking the piss? He's the one on your side. He agrees that it's offensive!

But Suey Park took upon herself to rectify the situation. If there's someone wrong on the internet after all, it's your job to correct them.

The thing that annoys me most is that it just seems like a cynical attention grab. If you'd watched the entire show I don't think you could hold Ms Park's opinion. Either that or she knew that her comments would get some traction and she could ride that wave to something more than a freelance writing gig. Who amongst us hasn't said something we don't really believe in order to capitalise on a trending hashtag, cast the first stone. That's the bible, son. She has under 20k follows as of this morning, and I know that's not because of her rapier wit....

 Couldn't the same be said about your interaction with Colbert?

Couldn't the same be said about your interaction with Colbert?

After everything Colbert has said and done in order to defend minority rights for the last nine years, you'd think he'd have earned enough cultural capitol to have made one miss-step (if that really is what you're calling it) without getting shat upon. This is when the left cannibalises it's own hero figures for not being left enough. I hate it, it makes us look bad. Colbert's a racist, Dan Savage is transphobic, Joss Wheedon is a sexist. All these things do is serve the conservative agenda. Colbert is not America's greatest threat to Asian-American relations. Pick your targets better. Bill O'Reilly says some real shit, I can tell you now.

The thing I'm scared about is that someone will actually listen to this horsecrap. That some empty suit high up at Viacom will see all the negative traction that this is getting a pull the plug on one of my favourite shows. It's an outside possibility, but it is a risk. It is, after all a business, and the adage 'Any publicity is good publicity' probably doesn't stand true when #cancelyourshow is the hashtag.

It seems a shame to me that we live in such an immediate culture that something like this happens and the first response people come up with is 'I want that head on a platter.' I remember I got my lefty outrage all worked up over tweet by the Australian treasurer. I tweeted about it and instagrammed it and shit and then after 10mins I realised it was a fake account. The lesson I learned was that you have to view things with a critical eye. Do some research, don't just take one out of context comment and build an entire universe around it. Take things in the totality in which they were intended. Give the benefit of the doubt and don't write off someone's life work because you had some fee-fees about what they said. 

And remember...

Follow @JorgeTsipos on Twitter and get offended at his senseless nothings. Also listen to his free weekly podcast Unnatural Selection in order to be outraged in audio form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Abbott Has Priorities, They're Just Not Yours

Our darling Supreme Leader Tony Abbott has seen fit this week to re-instate the Knighthoods and Dame-hoods(?) The motion was not legislated, it was not mentioned to the Liberal Caucus, some minister's of Tony Abbott's cabinet weren't even aware of the motion until they were being questioned about it by journalists and all this prompted me to wonder, what does Tony Abbott's checklist look like? Does he use Evernote, or maybe a mind-map situation? I'm extremely curious. I'm imagining a white cloud up where his brain should be with a toy monkey crashing cymbals together. Just me?

I didn't particularly feel a pressing need to restore this archaic, medieval relic of class distinction, but apparently this issue has been playing on our foremost minister's mind so he gave the Queen a call and set it up. Without consulting anyone else. Secure in the knowledge that, of course, everyone would be on board with this. I have a slight problem with this; the decision was made without any consultation or vote, kind of subverting, you know, democracy and whatnot. But that's fine, if everyone agrees with you, which they don't. Why not have a bit more class distinction every now and then? Remind yourself that you're better than the plebs.

I just don't see the necessity. First of all, we already had the Order of Australia, which was, up until the other day, the highest order in the land. Bestowed on "Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service". It's a little bit shit to turn around and say, 'Hey buddy, I know you worked hard for than and shit, but now we have knighthoods and stuff so get fucked.' Do they get a free upgrade? You should really grandfather them in, that's just good marketing.

Speaking of grandfathers, aren't we all a bit old for this shit? Why do we feel the need to discriminate achievements based on gender? I don't want to be that writer from Jezebel that criticizes someone for not being feminist enough, but I kind of figured we were past the ''boys get blue and girls get pink'' mentality. Lets give these bitches some Tonka trucks and watch them go to town. If guys can be knights, then women can too. Or something.

I'm not going to go as far as my lefty companions on Facebook and start making Game of Thrones jokes about 'knights' and whatnot - but isn't this all a bit ridiculous? We're Australians and we don't need British approval. We're a nation of former convicts, why do the older generation have such an inexplicable affinity for a country that turfed them out in the first place? It looks needy guys - Brittan changed her relationship status to ''single'' over 200 years ago now and you're still clinging to ''it's complicated'' - move the fuck on already. It's sad.

I don't know if this is the media's fault in focusing on petty points of fact in order to keep up with the demand of the 24hour news cycle, or it really is a case of legislative snow-blindness but I really do think there's something awry with Abbott's legislative agenda. I always read in the articles about this that the Liberal party are fulfilling an election promise. Really? All the election promises I heard were "Stop the Boats" "End the Carbon-Tax" and "Kevin Rudd's a ninny." Perhaps people might have voted more overwhelmingly for them if they knew that they actually had other policies. Actually, scratch that, probably not.

Jorge Tsipos is one third of the hilarious weekly podcast Unnatural Selection. You can follow him @JorgeTsipos on twitter. If that's your thing. Or not. Or whatever.

Should I Take Antidepressants?

Nobody thinks depression is a good idea - but it exists regardless. Theories for its development range from an effective way to keep close family members near the home during a time of grief and thus away from the danger that killed the respective dead person in the first place to a simple chemical imbalance. God's hilarious mistake. It's easy (and fun!) to conjure up whatever evolutionary-biology fantasy three-way you want to to explain it, the simple fact is it's here and here to stay, the why isn't so important.

In the history of the human race never has there been more prosperity than there is today. We in the Western World (whatever that's supposed to mean) are graced with record low infant mortality rates, longer lives, better medical care, higher literacy rates, better social mobility (etc etc etc) than ever before. By almost every metric, life is better now than any period in human history. So why are so many people so fucking sad?

I'd like to refer you to Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs, so I will. Here it is.

 Here is the thing I said!

Here is the thing I said!

The the general thrust is that only once your basic needs are met can you worry about higher functioning, complex emotional thoughts like existentialism and purpose. You don't really have the luxury of worrying about WHY you exist when you're running, naked through the jungle from the thing that's trying to stop you from existing. It's lower down on the list of priorities. I'd be rather inclined to agree with this assessment if it didn't make it seem like people who don't have a job can't be worried about self esteem too. Or anything else that's on the list. Things just aren't as dramatic as all that nowadays - there's no sabre tooth tiger coming to get you anymore. I hope. The two ideas aren't mutually exclusive and to conflate them is actually a disservice. 

Perhaps it is because of this Hierarchy of Needs, perhaps not. Let's say it is. That would correlate to what people seem to understand - the modern human is more depressed and yet more fortuitous than ever before. It's because we've had things so easy (relatively speaking) that we're so depressed. Like Tyler Durden once said "We are the middle children of history."

I'm an artist (sort of) and so I like to look at everything through that kind of lens. I hear people say a lot that they definitely are depressed (almost bragging about it) but they then go on to say that they wouldn't want to take medication because it would brainwash them, or perhaps if they were happy they wouldn't be able to function as the kind of artist they are. This is a fallacy. Medication, in the physiological 'medicine-goes-on-the-sore-part' thinking is a way of treating something that's broken. If you're brain is broken (and I'm not saying it is) it may be worth trying medication. The simple fact is that if you don't like it, or feel the long, wet hand of Big Pharma creeping up your pants you can always stop. You can always go back to being the same old miserable bastard you always were. You are in charge of the thing, and thus, can put what you want into your own body.

I'm not a doctor, and I would never presume to give medical advice, but my general position on medication is this: If a doctor you trust and who knows you (and your medical history) prescribes antidepressants, it's probably worth a try. I've been on Lexapro (An SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) for just over a year now and it has helped me dramatically - it should be noted alongside cognitive-behavioural therapy, constant exercise and diet and a raft of other measures all geared to my betterment as a human. I'm wonderful, is what I'm saying. 

People (my past self amongst them) say stupid things like they don't want to take antidepressants because it'll change who they are. Yeah, that's the whole point. Maybe if you're miserable the whole time it's probably best to be someone else. Someone who isn't a reclusive wanker. Someone who can be happy and productive and actually has the motivation to make art, rather than just theorise about it. 

So the answer to the original question 'Should I take antidepressants?' is this: Maybe you should try anti-depressants. If your doctor thinks. If you like. For a bit. There should be no stigma in admitting you need a little hand every now and then and getting it. You might just find, like I did, that there's a whole bunch of people that you already know that are already on the same thing. It's all well and good to try and white-knuckle your way through it but I imagine you'll stress yourself (and your loved ones) out just a little bit less, if you try and get some help - be that counselling, meds or maybe just keeping a journal. It's all about what works for you. Cherry-pick the best bits and keep battling.

 

Jorge Tsipos also is part of a weekly comedy podcast called Unnatural Selection, which is nothing like this article! Follow Jorge on twitter!

Feminist Porn

I've become aware of a phenomenon known as 'feminist porn' and with the Belle Knox thing fresh in my mind it made me consider a few things about the nature of 'adult entertainment' and I thought I'd share some of those points with you right now.

I'm in two minds about porn. I recognise its utility and yet I'm frightened by its pervasiveness. I enjoy its fruits and yet there's a healthy dose of shame that goes along with that. Unfortunately, like most things that are things, it's a little more grey than black and white. Of course.

Porn is necessary. That's the fact of it. It's inevitable. From the time that man could capture image he has chosen (almost overwhelmingly) to capture the female form. Porn is available more now than it ever has been before and every single person in the western world has a porn production studio, transmitter and (most importantly) receiver right in their front pockets. It is a reality. There will never not be porn from this point onward. That is a fact we'd do better to just accept. 

 Rodin liked himself a bit of ass (The Kiss, 1882-87)

Rodin liked himself a bit of ass (The Kiss, 1882-87)

Porn is useful. Not just from a sexual gratification and satisfaction purposes but from a female health and safety perspective. It's been well understood for a while that countries with access to pornography and legal sex workers experience far lower incidents of sexual violence and rape. The fact is, if you can twist one out in your apartment rather than trawling the streets for sex, you're probably going to. Some of the time, at least. I think that's a persuasive enough argument for its continued existence. 

Porn does misshape the way young men perceive and interact with women. I remember as a young boy watching porn almost as an instructional manual. I didn't grasp exactly what it was, or how it worked, but all of a sudden I understood how a penis went into a vagina and I knew it made my pants feel all fuzzy-good-feel-nice. I took what I was watching as fact, rather than a fantasy and I think schools would do well to have some instruction in this area. If you see a woman getting choked out enough you might just think that sort of thing is okay to do to a girl the first time you have sex with her.

 'I didn't know that went in there!'

'I didn't know that went in there!'

And sometimes it is okay. And now this is where it gets tricky. Because you don't want to go down the road of shaming people for their sexual fetishes and preferences (if they have express consent) - but I do think too much of this kind of influence can defiantly be detrimental to the development of a young mind. If you have a particular rough sex preference or masochistic desires, that's okay. There's someone out there for you, I guarantee it. There's several. And if you're really lucky you can get them to meet each other. But the way porn is presented it makes it seem like this is the majority, and that's misleading. It can make men see women as simple sex objects rather than humans with thoughts and feelings and empathy - that's always going to have negative consequences.

I don't want to come across as some sort of bleeding-heart conservative. Some idiot that wants to hark back to some sort imaginary, fantasy past that has never existed anywhere in order to ensure the second coming of Jesus Christ or anything. That's not me. That's why I think 'feminist porn' or 'female friendly' (as perhaps a less loaded term) is such a good idea. I think it's the happy medium between the corrosive influence of hardcore cock-gagging-absurd-silicone-tits-degrading stuff that you normally see on the internet and the absurd unreality of abstinence teachings. 

 Just how God made me, fellas.

Just how God made me, fellas.

'Female friendly' porn is usually very well shot, the woman get to chose their own partners and they don't look like barbies. They're natural, beautiful women having sex and enjoying it. You won't believe how shocked I was when I saw that for the first time. It's sad how shocked I was. I'd been watching porn for several years at this point and I realised that I'd seen a woman orgasm in a porno for the first time only then. The thing that I like about these 'female friendly' pornos is that the pleasure of the woman is actually considered. It's not just some phalli-centric misogynistic frat boy bullshit. It's not cock-sucking and then straight to anal. It's tender. It's loving. It looks like what sex is for a lot of people. 

I understand, people want fantasy. They want a blonde with impractical tits blowing them in a maid outfit on the moon, or whatever. It's not real. I get that. But I think people need to take a step back a have a think every now and then - is this the kind of thing that I want to be perpetuating and encouraging? I think that more female friendly porn that respects women is probably a step in the right direction. I'd personally like it to transcend the moniker and just become the norm - but as we all know, we always get just what we ask for and the internet these days seems to hate women pretty hard.

Listen to the Unnatural Selection Podcast and follow Jorge Tsipos on twitter!

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Okay, guys, it's my first day but does anyone else think that this Malaysia Airlines situation is more than just a little bit fucked? I understand, a plane goes missing, it's scary. We've all taken flights. That could've been you, etc, etc. But I honestly think the constant Sherlock-Holmes-esque 24 hours coverage is actually not helping anyone. 

Believe it or not, the families that have been forced to endure this unexpected tragedy are not actually being helped along the grieving process with around-the-clock speculation. That doesn't help them. Having interminable idiots on TV spouting all sorts of nonsense couldn't possibly be helping them. It doesn't help find the plane faster - it's not like it actually contributes anything in any discernible way.

 The Onion, amazing as ever.

The Onion, amazing as ever.

There's an argument for the public interest - it is a grabbing, mysterious story after all. And that would be a valid argument... for the first and final report. But I think the age of 24 hour cable networks combined with the blogosphere and the twitter and the facebook have created so many mind-mouths to feed consistent 'content' to that this story has become an MC Escher style never-ending feedback loop that just feeds on itself and grows bigger and bigger and more mosterous and monstrous by the hour.

In my opinion, there isn't shit to report until there's shit to report. Let me know when you've found it and lets put this thing to bed. I don't want to hear about potential rubble or radar blips or theories. News organisations should only feel free to publish shit when something is actually backed up by facts. Otherwise they are welcome to start blogs that I can ignore.

Check out the Unnatural Selection Podcast - it's free, weekly and hilarious!