A Letter to Future Generations: Chapter 3

I’ve been very bad at actually posting these when I said I would. Boredom is so overwhelming sometimes that it eliminates anything else I meant to do. And sometimes you just get busy.

Last week (or was it the week before? Who knows!) the President of the USA essentially admitted to being a puppet of the Russian government. So, you know, that’s special. A television satirist got Republicans and supporters of the NRA to back a (fake) proposal for giving guns to kindergarteners and teaching them how to shoot.

I don’t honestly know how Americans aren’t rioting in the streets, trying to burn their country down – a la Arab Spring – to build it up from the bottom. Or at least, gathering in groups to throw rocks at the White House. A friend told me it was because they’d lose their health insurance by not showing up to work and honestly…fuck, yeah, probably.

Sorry, these are supposed to be more newsy, but honestly, I don’t know what to say. America basically had its leader replaced with a shill and everyone seems…fine with it? Like, the populace isn’t really (although his base doesn’t believe it all, or care), but the members of the Republican Party (GOP) seem undeterred by this admission, and are just going to keep on keeping on.

I read a piece in the New York Times from someone who was reflecting on how they were bringing their child into a doomed world. How their kids’ lives will be worse than theirs, and there’s so little we can do about it because we just…didn’t act fast enough. Future folk, I hope your lives are okay. I’m sorry, in earnest. I tried. I really did.

When I went into this week’s piece I was feeling quite desolate about it all, and this week I feel a little more optimistic because science really is coming up with some important and impressive strides towards making sure we don’t all just…die. So, that’s good.

BUT, of course, there’s also the fact that the people of the UK are stockpiling food because they’re afraid of what happens after Brexit. And Saudi Arabia is mad at Canada for daring to call them out about imprisoning social justice activists. And yesterday, on the one year anniversary of the death of Heather Heyer – the activist who was murdered by car in the Charlottesville protests last year – the Nazis (literal, actual Nazis) who held last year’s rally once again marched. In smaller numbers, because apparently no one trusts the organizer (haha, that’s funny!) and they were met with over a thousand counter-protestors, so that’s good.

Literal Nazis. In 2018. And people are saying some of them might be DECENT. Wearing a NAZI FLAG in Australia and the USA is somehow, in some ways, considered patriotic? It’s…it’s fucked.

A plus.

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Letter to Future Generations: Chapter 2

Hi Future Folk,

I wanted to try and write these every Sunday, with the intent of wrapping up the feelings about the real main stories going on today, but I got sick and was down for a few days, so I hope you’ll forgive this coming out on a Wednesday. And if you don’t, well, I’m probably dead by the time you read this, so what do I care?

America is still keeping kids in cages. In fact, a toddle – one year old, I think – was forced to sit in court while a judge was forced to preside over the case. Embarrassing for him, he said. The kid just…cried the whole time. The government is also charging these immigrants/refugees/whatever they’re being called for the DNA tests necessary to reunite them with their kids, and also potentially for their flights outta there. So, there’s that. The States is also giving the government the power to strip naturalized citizens of their citizenship and deport them. A win for fascism, I guess.

Australia is still keeping its refugees locked in overseas cages. Living in the city is wildly unaffordable for your average person. Pay has remained the same for at least 20 years, and yet rent and other expenses have increased exponentially. Older Australians and foreign investors often own more than one house or apartment, renting them out expensively or letting them stand empty to artificially inflate the prices they can get for their rentals.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have reached a peace accord, which is actually some really good news. And 12 Thai children and their coach were rescued from certain death in a cave. Good news!

Britain, meanwhile, is descending in some kind of madness because all the doofuses in charge of Brexit have either quit or are useless. Theresa May is probably doomed.

This letter feels very flippant and I’m sorry about that, it’s just that sometimes you can only ingest so much before it…numbs you, I guess. But I actually do care a lot about this it’s just…what am I supposed to do?

Mahalo.

A Letter to Future Generations: Chapter 1

Dear Future Folk,

Hi. My name is Jordan and I’m almost 30 years old. I’m not anyone famous or important. I’m just someone who wants to be a writer, or an actor, or maybe a musician. I also care a lot about the terrible things that are happening now – 2018 – and feel it’s important to let you know that not everyone just…went along with it.

I know – from experience – that it’s easy to look back on a people or country or whathaveyou and just want to shake them by the shoulders and shout, “What were you thinking? Why did nobody stop this?” And, now that I feel like I’m living through a time like that, I don’t think there’s any kind of easy answer.

I’m Jewish, by the way, so when I talk about looking back, I’m looking back to World War 2 and Germany and the Nazis and the Holocaust and thinking, “Why did no one care?”

And it’s easy to say, “Well, it was a different time, people didn’t necessarily know what was going on. And besides, the secret police!”

And, sure, maybe all that applies. But at the same time, it’s more than that. In the United States right now, a former reality TV star is president, and he’s ripping children from the arms of their parents and putting them into camps. People are angry about it at least, which is good, saying, “This is not America!” even though America did this a bunch of times.

The President then signed an order saying the kids could stay with their parents, as long as he could detain the whole family indefinitely in prison. Of course, that’ll get voted down, which means he can keep stealing the kids and prosecuting the parents for being “illegal immigrants”.

Meanwhile, he got the idea from us here in Australia, where we take boatloads of refugees/asylum seekers/illegal immigrants and throw them into horrible prisons in a different country and, essentially, throw away the key. In fact, we were condemned by the United Nations for crimes against humanity for the way we treat them. And our Home Affairs minister just asked us to “abandon compassion” for these refugees, because that would allow people smugglers to win.

This is all done in the name of “border security” which, of course, is nonsense. We here in Australia – and those in the USA – just want to maintain the whiteness of our countries. More brown people, especially if their Muslim = bad. White people, especially if their Christian = just fine and dandy.

And, no, there aren’t protests in the streets every day. Most people have tuned it out – and that includes me. I write articles for an online newspaper every now and then, and I get mad in person when it gets brought up in conversation, and I vote the right way, but overall that’s it. I don’t go out there and stomp any head. I don’t march on the capital.

And you know why?

Because people just want to get on with their lives. They want to enjoy life. And we’re lazy. We’re so lazy. It’s so hard to organize standing up for something when you have work and weekend plans and dreams. And that sounds selfish, but there is fucking is. That’s who we are.

And that doesn’t make us bad people. It just makes us people. If there was a protest on the weekend, or of an evening, yeah I’d do. But I’m not going to organize it. I can’t just not show up to work, or not work at all, I have an apartment to afford, and I need to eat. That’s the thing about all this: it’s all well and good to say, “Well I would have stood up!” But let’s see how big your talk is when you’re in my situation.

It all happens gradually, and the government makes it all legal – which, no, is not the same thing as moral – and after a while of eating it all up in the news day after day after day, you just become numb to it. You’re unable to muster the same rage. Because rage is exhausting, and so is life.

Don’t think ill of us. There’s lots of us trying really hard, doing more than I am. And I believe we’ll win – we’ll throw the bums out and shame them into living in caves – but the streets aren’t rioting all the time because, honestly, we just…don’t operate that way. Humans never have, and probably never will.

Until next time, shalom.

Gaming night out: Don’t Worry, being a NERD is cool

Ok, I already know what you’re going to tell me. You went outside, and the graphics were bad. I feel you. And I also know how incredible it was to get the rarest of drops in World of Warcraft last weekend after fifteen straight hours of Mountain Dew and determination, especially when no one else in the guild even got close.

Then again, you also know deep down that NO ONE ELSE CARES, unless they’re other gamers. Alliance or Horde means NOTHING out there, in the so called real world. Yet, sometimes, we must go there, apart from getting more snacks and drinks.

And that’s because no one else except your squad want to hear about Fortnite. I know you’re thinking it’s hard to put its greatness into words, but that’s not the only reason.

The best way to successfully maintain your gaming hours with minimum interference is to convince other people that you DO care about other activities. You’re a sociable kind of person. You just like playing games sometimes.

And while we’re talking about social, unless you want to get married on Second Life still, (please say you don’t), you’re just not going to get the girl, or the guy, sitting in your comfy recliner in front of a huge monitor, smashing Doritos, split screen, ten of you on Steam answering the Call of Duty… Sounds perfect? Want to top it off with a Star Trek marathon?

That’s not what she will think. If you’ve already got a partner, there’s only so much love can cover when you’re in that recliner. My friend, you’re going to have to go out and show the world that you’re a regular kind of person. You like going out and doing things.  I had to do it last week. And I’m here to tell you it was OK. There was food and alcohol and an arcade, and it was inside, so that softened the blow. I’m not saying anyone should be skateboarding at Bondi.

But what I thought was going to just be an exercise in not gaming was actually, um, fun. And it happened at a venue with a bowling alley. Yes, you read that correctly. It wasn’t just bowling though.

My brother’s girlfriend decided to force him away from his PS4 for his birthday and held it at a bowling alley place called KingPin. She promised there’d be food, so I figured I’d give it an hour and then get back to the important things in life.

When I got there, it was totally different to what I thought. Yes, it is a bowling alley, but it’s got flashing lights and there’s music. And yes, I bowled. And it was fun, and I beat my brother 2 out of 3, so that alone was worth leaving the house.

Seriously though, the best part was the food. While the girls drank cocktails, we had some good beers, which always goes a long way to breaking the ice. There were burgers and a potato bar where you can load your own toppings. And nachos, if you can’t be without the corn chips. I stuck to the potatoes with chilli and beer. They were really, really good.

Interestingly, once we’d eaten, everyone was in a better mood and we ended up playing laser tag there. I got to shoot my brother IN THE FACE. That was a win. Some of his mates went to karaoke, and by the end, we finished up just chatting and catching up. It was really good.

And there’s an arcade. You can compete in Daytona games or show your mega-claw skills, (I have none) but it was good to see some screens. They had a bunch of other games as well, and I wanted my whole guild there to see what everyone thought.

I’m thinking I may even do it again. Australia is known as the 4th cheapest country in the world when it comes to spending on dates and relationships, BUT I noticed there’s a lot of deals where you get bowling/laser tag combos, so you can pretty much look like you’re flash and outgoing and do things, without spending too much. You can’t spend ALL your money on games, can you? Don’t answer that.

It’s the kind of place you could take a partner, or someone you would like to be your partner, just as a cute date. The variety of activities means you can’t get it wrong. Movies are just another screen, and don’t actually prove you can DO anything or have any ‘interests’.

No one says no to bowling and then there’s all the wine and dine impressive part, which is just that. They’d have to be impressed.

For now, there’s aliens that need shooting in Halo. Next week, though, I might just call up my brother for a rematch and a burger and let my mum play Crash Bandicoot for a few hours while I’m gone. Then everyone’s happy and after I knock down some pins, I’ll go knock down some more houses. Cos Fortnite.

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No New Monsters

I was thinking about movie monsters the other day. The thought train probably started when I was looking up the first reference to the story of the Monkey’s Paw. For those unfamiliar, the idea is that a mummified monkey’s paw offers a certain number of wishes, but the results end up twisted and horrible. The number of wishes often depends on the telling, but the twist is always the same.

It’s so commonplace in our popular culture that it’s become a joke online recently about how things have turned out in the world.

I was certain the monkey paw story was some ancient parable about being careful what you wish for, and maybe it is, but the earliest reference to is the 1902 short story by W. W. Jacobs. And I thought that was so crazy. It’s just over 100 years old, but the idea of the monkey’s paw is so prevalent that it just is the thing that ruins your wishes. More than genies. More than demons or devils.

It then occurred to me, as often happens when you get on a thought train, that there haven’t really been any new monsters created in a really long time. Like, we do a lot of different stuff with the same old monsters, which is great, but there’s really about five categories: aliens, undead, giant animals, robots and science experiment. To a lesser extend magic objects and manifestations occur here, but those are less monsters and more catalysts; things like The Babadook for example.

The undead covers zombies, vampires, skeletons, mummies, etc. Science experiments covers things like Frankenstein-esque corpse-stitching to make new life, cyborgs – which are also, kind of, robots – and, I think, mutants belong here, too, as the mutants are often as a result of something mankind has done.

I just keep thinking of the first person to write a story about robots, or cyborgs, or aliens, and how terrifying it must have been. Night of the Living Dead was the first film to ever have cannibal zombies, and that was in 1968. Before that, zombies were always at the control of a necromancer or were at least raised by magic. Cannibal zombies are now the go-to.

I don’t know what a “new” monster would look like; it hasn’t been invented yet. A lot of the monsters we already have are based on old folklore and stories, we just have interpreted them in a variety of ways over the centuries. And I’m not saying I’m capable of just inventing some new horrifying monster, but I just find it noteworthy that we haven’t really seen anything especially new in a while.

Mahalo.

Lifebroker; Navigating Insurance in the Gig Economy

Freelancing is a huge part of my life, as I know it is with a great many others in my social circle; and seemingly the most popular way to earn a few extra dollars. If you work in television production, food delivery, IT or writing, this is especially true, although the “gig economy” affects a great many other sectors. I can only speak from experience.

 You’re never sure where your next paycheck is going to come from. As soon as you send in your invoice and get paid, it seems like it’s all gone out to pay bills. It worries me that, if I ever got sick or injured or had my laptop stolen, I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills at all. While the ‘gig economy’ is popular at the moment, with Uber and Deliveroo dominating our social media feeds, it pays to understand how we can both enjoy the flexibility of the gig economy but also ensure we see the benefits of traditional employment.

 That’s why insurance is so important. If anything should happen to you, or your property, insurance can be there to cushion the fall. If you remembered to make your payments on time.

 I know a lot of my friends, who work gigs as well, don’t have insurance because they think they don’t need it. The biggest barrier for many navigating the gig economy is what we are actually entitled to, and what we are not. For example, a freelancer generally has to work at minimum 20 hours a week before they can be eligible for income protection insurance. I have always worked more than this, and never realized I fell into this category. Finding the right insurance, though, can be a nightmare. Navigating the landscape can seem like something impossible to do.

 That’s where Lifebroker comes in.

 Whether you’re looking for life insurance, income protection, business expenses, total and permanent disability cover, or trauma cover, they can help you compare a wide variety of options.

They have 8 of Australia’s leading insurers you can choose from including TAL, MLC, and AMP. Depending on what you need, and how much you can afford, they can point you in the right direction. They even have great life insurance calculator, as well as an income protection calculator, to help you figure out how much cover you may need. It’s easy to use, and you can compare policies in detail, or simply by price. Compare income protection policies, and see what’s available out there.

 If, after all that, you’re still not sure what to do, you can call them on 13 54 33 to speak to an insurance specialist. Or, of course, you can email them using their online form.

 Sure, I love the flexibility and excitement of the gig economy. I love not knowing where I may end up working next week; but I don’t love not knowing how I will pay my rent should I unfortunately get ill or injured and cannot work. Fortunately, the ease of Lifebroker’s digital platform allowed me to understand what is available to me and most importantly, and easy want to access it. As someone who loves having options, I am glad that companies like Lifebroker provide options to those of us navigating the gig economy.

 Lifebroker only provides general advice, which means they haven’t considered your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement to understand if the product is right for your financial situation or needs.

We need to Be Better

I wrote something similar to this last year after reading Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl, but with the #MeToo hashtag making the rounds, I feel it’s important to talk about it again. All these women around me, more every day, who have suffered. It’s heartbreaking.

I saw a post, from where I can’t remember, talking about how #MeToo places the onus on victims/survivors to display the scale of the problem, forcing them to “out” themselves to affect the social change necessary to stop sexual assault and harassment from being such an epidemic. I can see it from both sides.

On the one hand, seeing just how many women in your life have suffered at the hands of men like and unlike you will certainly show the scale of the issue, which may then cause you to stand up where before you may not have realized the intensity of the issue. On the other hand, it shouldn’t take innumerable women sharing their stories for you to act in a positive way towards women, or help them or speak out when you see them being mistreated.

Other posts I read – some from women, some from men – turned it back around on the men, bystanders or offenders. It stated that men should be posting #MeToo, accompanied by the times they did nothing when a man was making a woman uncomfortable, or when they did something to make a woman uncomfortable.

And that’s hard. And it should be hard. Just because you seek forgiveness, doesn’t mean it will be given. The important part is being self-aware and trying to become a better person. I’ve already seen a couple of men in my feeds do this.

#MeToo

There were times when I pursued a woman despite her insistence of being uninterested. Pop culture teaches young men that “no doesn’t really mean no, you just have to be persistent”. This is wrong. No means no. We are regaled with tales of men “wearing women down” until they said yes, or other such manipulations. This isn’t okay. We can’t keep teaching men this.

There were times when I said nothing when I knew a friend of mine was being harassed. I was a teenager and my friend’s boyfriend was being cruel to her and I did nothing, because I was scared of him. I counseled another one to leave her boyfriend because he was becoming violent, but again he was older and bigger than me, and I was scared. I never confronted him or her other friends to help her.

I’ve spoken about a woman as if she were an object, once right in front of that girl. Young and stupid and drunk is no excuse. I knew better. I should have been better, but I wasn’t.

When I was a teenager, I used manipulative tactics to try and get a girl to be with me, and then was angry when she refused. I felt I was “owed” something. I didn’t really realize what I had done until years later when I reflected on it, learned more, tried to be better. Doesn’t change what was done.

Growing and becoming a better person involved re-examining uncomfortable truths about who you are, who you were, and who you want to be. It sucks. It hurts. And the people you hurt may never hear how sorry you are, and even if they do, they may never forgive you. That’s okay. You just have to work at being a better person, every day, all the time.

This was hard as hell to write and my guts are roiling and I want to cry, but it’s important that we, as men, own up to our shit. We have to call our friends out on it, too, because if we don’t, we are complicit. We have to help ourselves, and each other, #BeBetter.