The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘people

Come as You Are, or you think you should be

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When I told several Sydney-based friends I would be living in Newtown when I arrived in the New South Wales capital, they gave verbatim responses about how I would find it.
 
“Newtown’s pretty out there,” one told me as I packed up my life in south-west Queensland.
“It’s different but I think you’re gonna fit right in.”
 
I wasn’t sure how to take the comment at the time, but ever since my maiden stroll down King Street almost three weeks ago, it now makes sense: Newtown is a place you really can come as you are.
 
In 1992, I was an angst-ridden, overachieving 11-year-old. Like thousands of others, I honestly believed a subdued Kurt Cobain was singing about my life when he slurred the lyrics of “Come as You Are”. At the time, I thought it was my personalised theme song. I was wrong. The song is a musical tribute to the inner-west suburb in which I currently reside.
 
At a cursory glance, Newtown strikes you as a place where downtrodden creative types come to escape the judging stare of the real world. In the past week alone, I’ve spoken to two unemployed journalists, a musician preparing to busk her way to dinner and a dishevelled, 50-something writer who has been working on a manuscript since 2002. Everyone here has a story, from the well-dressed corporate type frantically hailing a bus, to the barefoot bohemian couple who seem to be celebrating a 46-year Summer of Love as they walk their Labrador.

image

In Newtown, even graffiti is attempting to discover itself.

It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress or how oddly you behave here – the grand Lady Newtown has seen it all before on her bustling main thoroughfares and narrow, terrace-lined backstreets. She won’t judge you and, because of her unique allure, neither will the people who call her ample, culture-filled bosom home. If you don’t believe me, just ask the bearded, tutu-wearing guy who was sobbing hysterically on King Street last Saturday.
 
Even the non-human aspect of Newtown is a multifarious mix of calm and chaos. As I write this from the relative silence of my courtyard, it’s hard to believe the lights, sounds and manic pace of Enmore Road are only 200 metres from here. Only the constant, near-deafening whine of descending planes overhead reminds me I’m sharing a city with almost five million people.
 
To me, it’s Newtown’s ability to offer both solitude and a strange sense of community and belonging that makes it so appealing. You can walk along the street wearing flippers and a tin-foil hat if you want to, safe in the knowledge you’ll retain relative anonymity.
 
Despite offering an eclectic range of cafes, restaurants and stores, as well as a vibrant lifestyle that is probably unmatched anywhere else in Sydney, the real lure of this historic suburb is that it provides a venue for people from every corner of the globe to listen to Cobain sing their personal theme song.
 
Within the invisible, council-determined boundaries of Newtown, you can be anyone you want to be, even if you aren’t sure who that is.
 
Just don’t try to be anyone you know you aren’t. If you do, the eccentric, welcoming old dame will eat you alive.

A simple, scientific look at #socialmedia and the rise of the sheeple

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This will be the shortest, most mind-numbingly boring post you will ever see on this blog but it doesn’t matter, because the point of it isn’t to entertain.

The point of it is to test a theory that social media is turning many of us into sheep who will like or follow something just because they are told to, or because “everybody else is doing it”.

As much as the part of me that loves Nineteen Eighty-Four, intellectual debate and music on vinyl doesn’t want to believe it’s true, the rational part of me has seen enough evidence to suggest sheeple are about to take over the world.

If we’ve progressed to the point as an electronic-based society where we do things just because we are told to, we really are screwed.

Here’s how we’re going to test my sheeple theory:

1. I’m going to provide the links to both The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page and my Twitter account below.
2. Then I’m going to tell you I’m fucking awesome and possibly the smartest – and funniest – human being on the planet, and that all the popular kids are following my musings.
3. At this stage, I’m going to tell you to follow me because, if you don’t, the universe will ostracise you as you disappear into a black hole of social media oblivion.
4. This is the point where the sheeple will pick up their smartphones or iPad and click the follow button simply because I said to, without giving a moment’s thought as to why they are doing so. It’s also the point where the anti-sheeples* will consider whether they want to follow a vodka-swilling lunatic or flee terrified from cyberspace.
5. Step five is where the anti-sheeples who decided to follow me will do so, even if it’s just to make them feel a little more normal about their own eccentricities. But, in order to prove my theory, I want the anti-sheeples to also leave a brief comment on this post as to why they followed me, so I can compare the number of new sheeple v anti-sheeple followers.

* Author’s note: If this isn’t real thing, it soon will be.

In all honesty, I’m expecting to gain more followers than I am comments, because it doesn’t take any time or independent thought to be a sheeple. If that turns out to be the cases, the anti-sheeples should kiss their loved ones goodbye and head directly to their Judgment Day shelters to wait out the reign of monosyllabic stupidity. If my calculations are correct, it should only last about 147 years.

If you have an aversion to 140-character bursts of communication and refuse to become a Twitter whore, you can always like The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page.

Either way, please don’t be a sheeple.

Written by disseminatedthought

September 26, 2012 at 12:19

Ridic-tionary dilemmas: why laughter and vagina glitter prove society is screwed

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I’m sorry, but I’m not lolz-ing.

The Oxford University Press announced the latest inclusions to Oxford Dictionaries Online this week, some of which defy logic.

I used to enjoy perusing the quarterly updates of “current English” but now, the three-monthly read leaves me with a numbness in my special place and a strong desire to stick my head into an oven.

How the hell does formally acknowledging nonsensical words – or in the case of “mwahahaha”, a stupidity-inducing sound – as part of our lexicon make us a more evolved society?

If anything, recognising words like “douche” and “photobomb” demonstrates humanity is now officially catering to the lowest common denominator.

It’s almost as if we’ve waved the white flag and submitted to an army of faceless, iPod-toting, monosyllabic overlords who communicate with grunts , fist bumps and group hugs.

In a nutshell, it’s fucking ridic.

There was a time when people would consult a dictionary to become smarter. Source: flcenterlitarts.wordpress.com

If an alien race was to attack the earth tomorrow – which would be a pretty douchey thing to do – the first laser-wielding ET wannabes to hear us communicate could be forgiven for assuming the zombies had already eaten our brains.

When I discussed the list of latest inclusions with a friend, they played the “our language is dynamic and ever-evolving” card.

Until they reached the word on the list that pays homage to genitals that resemble rhinestone-emblazoned disco jackets.

Ladies and gentlemen, could you please stand and put your hands together for “vajazzle”.

Mankind has not only conquered space, it has also made room in Oxford Dictionaries Online for a verb that means to “adorn the pubic area (of a woman) with crystals, glitter, or other decoration”.

I feel like I’ve woken up after sleeping for 20 years to find out Kim Kardashian is the president of the world.

Despite my friend being more than 1000 kilometres away and on the end of a scratchy mobile phone connection, I could pinpoint the exact moment when their eyes locked onto the word that describes genital crystals.

If you ever want to pull out a lay-down misere on somebody’s argument about how the current evolution of our language is a good thing, show them an Oxford University Press reference to pussy glitter.

While the vodka-loving boozehound in me approves of “dirty martini” getting recognition, the inclusion of “vote” – as in a specific reference to reality television – saddens me and reinforces my belief that humanity has pushed boldly past the point of being astronomically fucked.

It can’t be long now until Skynet becomes self-aware and the living dead commence their attack.

The moment you see “ROFLMAO” in a dictionary is the very instant you should descend into your Judgement Day bunker and wait for the language-destroying hoi polloi to succumb to our zombie masters.

For all those Twitter users who have a yearning to become one of my tweeps, clicking the button below will unleash the 140-character lunacy.

Five passengers to avoid in the sky: The idiot’s guide to in-flight sanity

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As I was booking a flight to Brisbane a few weeks ago, I started reminiscing about the hundreds of interesting unique batshit crazy individuals I’ve met during my travels over the years. Some of them have been disturbing, while others were intriguing and almost amusing in depraved way. Lamentably, the majority made life at 35,000 feet unbearable for everyone within nine rows.

In hindsight, these ‘travel terrors’ should have been easy to spot. They fell into five very distinct categories that anyone who has ever spent more than 17 minutes on an airplane could easily identify. Actually, life would be a lot simpler for travellers across the globe if airport security slapped bright identification stickers on the heads of these dipshits before they headed towards the boarding gate.

I sincerely hope this piece helps you pinpoint the people you should avoid at all costs in your travels.

Especially before you sit down beside them in seat 26B for a nine-hour flight.

Just because you’re about to be twelve kilometres above the ground doesn’t mean you won’t be surrounded by painful idiots. Source: biztravelguru.com

1. The Talker

This motor-mouthed traveller won’t shut up. Ever.

From the moment they stand behind you in the queue to board and comment about how slow the process is, to the heartbreaking instant you realise they’ve been allocated the seat beside you for the flight to Perth, this painful flyer won’t stop once to draw breath.

Even when it’s 10:48pm and you are pretending to sleep with the erroneous hope they’ll shut the hell up.

If you encounter a seasoned talker, they will monitor everything to look at in order to start pointless conversations. A glance at the in-flight entertainment guide will undoubtedly start a conversation about “young musicians these days” or why they believe a particular unknown movie didn’t deserve the four stars an unknown critic gave it.

I remember sitting beside a talker we’ll call Barry on a Qantas flight to Sydney about two years ago. Barry watched me flip through the complimentary magazine as the aircraft taxied to the runway. The moment I felt the front wheel lift off the tarmac, Barry launched into a spiel about how he flew every week and had read the magazine I had in my hand “at least a dozen times” that month. After he’d ensured I was painfully aware he was a flying veteran, he offered suggestions about which articles he thought I’d like.  That was the point I handed him the magazine and asked if he’d like to read it – in silence – for the remainder of the flight.

Ah, fun and games before reaching cruising altitude.

Tip to avoid them: Pretend to be asleep. If that doesn’t work, swallow a handful of Valium before take-off and enjoy a peaceful coma nap free from constant interruption.

2. The Screaming Child

This pint-sized traveller is more often than not accompanied by the Oblivious Parent or Ignorant Guardian and are angelic until they don’t get their own way. As soon as they hear the word no, they become possessed, shrieking miniature banshees.

The Screaming Child is easy to spot: they are small, loud and annoying.

Tip to avoid them: I’m told business class is generally free of manic munchkins, but upgrading on every flight you take is a costly solution. While frowned upon by society, the cheapest answer is to coat any Valium you have left over after going head-to-head with the Talker in sugar and tell the bellowing little one it’s a lolly. 

Author’s note: Yes, I’m probably going to hell for this tip, but at least I’ll be making the trip in blissful silence.

3. The Aviation Expert 

There is nothing this flyer doesn’t know about aircraft and avionics. While they have a basic grasp of advanced meteorology, their apparent speciality is what makes the big metal bird itself tick.

Want to know how the landing gears work? They will have the answer. Are you curious about the average cruising speed of a Boeing 737-800? The Aviation Expert has the facts and figures, and will take into account the headwind your aircraft is currently flying into when answering.

No one is certain whether this unique individual actually knows what they are talking about: they just use a hell of a lot of long, technical-sounding words and phrases. The fact the Aviation Expert answers an eleven-word question about flaps with an eight-minute diatribe puts most people off testing how knowledgeable this painful passenger actually is. One thing’s for sure: having one or two Aviation Experts on a flight does wonders for alcohol sales. 

Tip to avoid them: Tell this know-it-all you heard something making a disturbing rattling noise in the toilet. Once they go in to investigate, lock them in there for the duration of the flight with assistance from the relieved cabin crew.

Do you know what every button and switch in this cockpit does? If you ask the Aviation Expert, they do. Source: airbus.com

4. The Over-Packer

The fourth type of traveller to avoid has no concept of baggage limits. If an airlines allows passengers to have cabin bag that weighs no more than seven kilograms, you can bet your last dollar the Over-Packer will have one that tips the scales at ten or eleven kilos.

Dimensions are also not the forte of this notorious flyer. Allowed hand luggage no bigger than 48 centimetres x 34 centimetres x 23 centimetres on your flight? The Over-Packer will try to convince cabin crew their bag – which is the same size as a bar fridge – is “much smaller than it looks”.

If you board after this moron, expect to spend five minutes in the aisle with 73 other fuming passengers while the arrogant one with the capacity issues attempts to wedge their cabin bag, two laptop bags and handbag into the overhead locker.

“Yes, sir, I’m pretty sure they won’t all fit in the overhead locker.” Source: zaysmallman.blogspot.com

My most memorable encounter with an Over-Packer was on a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Townsville.

After taking my seat in 13A nice and early, I watched my fellow passengers move awkwardly down the aisle until a woman juggling what seemed like a hundred bags stopped at my row. Putting several of the bags on the vacant seats beside me so she could stuff them one by one into the overhead bin, I watched in amazement as she packed the biggest cabin bag I’ve ever seen, an oversized handbag, what I assume was a camera bag and enough shopping bags to start her own boutique into the previously vacant space above my head. Not surprisingly, the 18 or 19 passengers waiting behind her were less amazed than I was.

Tip to avoid them: Unfortunately, avoiding this person is nigh on impossible. The best you can hope for is that their taxi gets stuck in traffic and they don’t get to the airport until you are twelve kilometres above the ground and eating your in-flight meal. If they do manage to get on the airplane, there’s always the chance they will drop one of their five bags on their head as they try to stuff them into the overhead bins

5. The Drinker

For our last pest, the airplane is nothing more than an oddly-shaped bar that operates across time zones at 35,000 feet.

There’s a fair chance they will have spent two hours before the flight at the bar getting a buzz on, and their hand will whip upwards to summon a cabin crew member as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off.

The airline drinks trolley: enough to make the Drinker put their tray table up and their seat in the upright position. Source: airliners.net

On a flight from Brisbane to Hobart in 2006, I encountered the Queen of the Drinkers. About an hour into the flight, I watched as a cabin crew member confiscated an empty bottle of Scotch from the paralytic passenger. A 700mL bottle. It’s amazing what a big handbag can hide. 20 minutes later, the same – although now furious – Virgin Australia employee grabbed another, albeit full, bottle of single malt out of the passenger’s drunken mitts while loudly advising that she wouldn’t be getting it back when we landed.

While I love a good single malt, it never struck me to carry two bottles of it on a relatively short flight in case I got thirsty.

Tip to avoid them: Like the Over-Packer, the Drinker is difficult to avoid once you are in the air. If they have been drinking for long enough, there’s a good chance they’ll pass out fall asleep after they scoll their second miniature bottle of red wine. If that doesn’t happen, my best advice is to concede defeat and drink with them until their drunken antics become tolerable.

Apologies, excuses and the verbal finger

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It’s funny how a seemingly innocuous action – or in some cases, actions – can compel one to do something they hadn’t planned on doing.

For me, the aforementioned actions were those of the rude, irritating woman who tried to cut in front of about seven people at the supermarket this afternoon.

I hadn’t planned on writing anything on my day off, but the behaviour of the woman – let’s call her the Bitch with the Handbasket – made me question at what stage people stopped apologising altogether.

When did ludicrous excuses replace sincere apologies as a response to fucking up?

I watched the Bitch with the Handbasket creep into my peripheral vision while I was waiting to be served in the express lane. I saw her eyeball the queue and stood stunned as she nonchalantly pushed in front of me and acted as though she’d been there the entire time.

After subtlety suggesting to her that she needed to move to the back of the line, I couldn’t believe her retort: “Huh? Oh, I didn’t see you there. Is there a line?”

What the hell? What part of my handbasket-carrying, six-foot-five frame didn’t you see? Did you fail to notice the half a dozen shoppers behind me who are now scowling at you?

As I asked myself what her problem was, it dawned on me that her excuses and ignorance were representative of the attitudes of many: we’ve become a society that accepts reasons why in lieu of apologies.

People seem to have forgotten how to apologise. In the rare instances where an apology is offered, it’s seldom genuine. Somehow, offering a feeble, disingenuous explanation has been deemed socially acceptable.

It’s got to stop.

In addition to the Bitch with the Handbasket, I’ve recently witnessed first-hand another example of society’s proclivity to throw out a thinly-veiled vindication instead of an apology.

Without going into specifics, the players in question were out of line and exercised poor judgement. Whether or not a private apology has been offered to the women involved is a matter for them. All I can comment on intelligently is that publicly, the only responses from the individuals at the centre of the allegations have been excuses. Lots of excuses. A few of them have even suggested that it’s me who needs to apologise for writing the story.

How hard is it to admit that you have erred?

I’ll admit it when I screw up. When I do make a mistake, it’s usually a big one. Like when I referred to the wrong team as last season’s premiers in a recent grand final preview. Oops. I could have made excuses, but what would have been the point? I made a mistake; it was as simple as that. The newspaper ran a correction and the earth continued to turn on its axis.

An excuse is not an apology. An apology conveys regret, remorse or sorrow, while an excuse tends to indicate the person blabbering it isn’t genuinely contrite. To me, an excuse is the verbal equivalent of giving someone the finger after you’ve wronged them.

If you’ve done something you regret, show some intestinal fortitude and admit you were wrong. If you aren’t remorseful for your actions you shouldn’t feel compelled to apologise, but please don’t offer up some idiotic excuse for doing whatever it was that you did. The best excuse in the world will never trump a simple, sincere acknowledgement that you screwed up.

Source: wba.theoffside.com

I’m not going to apologise for this post because even though you’re sorry for reading it, I don’t regret writing it. As for excuses, where would you like me to start?

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If you spend way too much time supporting Mark Zuckerberg’s lifestyle, check out and like The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page.

In other relevant blogging news, I’ve entered The Dissemination of Thought in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition which is run by Sydney Writers’ Centre.

I will provide more information about the competition over the next few days, but voting for the People’s Choice Award opens this Friday at 5:00pm. If you like this blog as much as I think hope pray you do, please visit the competition website and cast a vote for The Dissemination of Thought.

If you’re a Twit, you can track the progress of the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition by searching with the #bestblogs2012 hashtag, or you can follow Sydney Writers’ Centre (@SydneyWriters) for updates.  To follow yours truly on Twitter, click the button below.

4 more (painful) trends in Facebook friends

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My balcony is a great place to ponder the universe, especially when the thought process is aided by a Cohiba Robusto and a fantastic Scotch. If nothing else, smoking a $50 cigar and sipping 21-year-old single malt while trying to determine whether Turkish bread, tomatoes and Vegemite constitute a meal provides a unique perspective about how bipolar and ridiculous life can be at times.

This is the point at which the pondering stopped...

As I sat there, watching the river and thumbing aimlessly through pointless and predictably boring Facebook status updates on my BlackBerry, it occurred to me that it may be time to examine a few types of Facebook friends that weren’t covered in my original diatribe. Yes, it’s ground we have previously walked across, but people need to be able to identify these individuals to ensure their own safety, as well as that of their loved ones. Think of this as an angry, nonsensical public service announcement.

1. The Whinger

As the name suggests, this Facebook friend finds a problem with everything, and usually isn’t sure how they can go on living. If they aren’t sad about being alone, they’ll be complaining about their job or vociferating about how pitiful their life is.

While monitoring this friend’s status updates will push you to the brink of insanity, it will also make you feel pretty damned good about your own state of affairs. My advice? Unfriend them, unless of course they are related to you, in which case you are fucked.

About to read a status update from The Whinger? You're going to need these. Source: mdsdrugdetox.com

2. The Update About Everything-er

Everyone has at least one of these amongst their legion of Facebook friends. They see no problem with updating their status 117 times in the space of 24 hours, in order to keep you up to speed with what they’re doing at every moment of the day. There will be the update that they are having slightly burnt toast for breakfast, followed 30 minutes later by a notification that they have had a successful bowel movement to start the day. They will provide at least two updates on their way to work, one of which will focus on the odd, smelly gentlemen sitting across from them on the bus. Upon arriving at the office, they will regale the world with tales of their first caffeine hit of the day.

Don’t laugh, The Update About Everything-er is probably posting this right now. Source: thecowshow.com

If you are incredibly unlucky, one of your Facebook friends may evolve into a mix of The Whinger and The Update About Everything-er, a mythical hybrid of evil, the only escape from which involves enlisting in the French Foreign Legion.

3. The Lover

There is nothing romantic about this Facebook friend: they love everything, and they’re not afraid to scream it from the rooftops of social networking. They love ice cream. They love sunshine. Confusingly, they also “heart” rainy days. They are wildly enamoured with documentary they just watched, and they want the world to know it.

Unfortunately, The Lover has a penchant for referring to themselves in the third person, and they can easily be identified by consecutive status updates that say: “[insert name] loves [insert random loveable thing]”. Scientists are not sure why this creature feels compelled to use third-person narrative, but they all agree that it’s as annoying as hell.

4. The Jukebox

This friend makes it their duty to tell everyone what they should be listening to by uploading the YouTube links to 38 songs each day. There’s always a theme, depending on their mood; sometimes you will be subjected to Foo Fighters Friday, while Saturday mornings will undoubtedly see them offering you a selection of their favourite drinking songs from 1987-1995. In the event of them parting ways with their significant other, prepare yourself for a Bonnie Tyler, Mariah Carey and country music onslaught.

Source: wp7connect.com

Author’s note: remember The Dissemination of thought Facebook page. It’s lonely there without you.

Black, white and the flashing red light‏

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When you’re a view stats junkie, all you focus on is your next hit. That feeling of euphoria that comes about by seeing someone comment on a post. That rush that can only be achieved by releasing site views and search terms into your bloodstream. For me, the quest for a fix involves pawing at my BlackBerry every eighteen seconds, day and night, yearning to see the flashing red light that indicates someone has liked, subscribed or felt compelled to comment. I know constantly looking for the light or feeling for the vibration (I do occasionally remember to put my phone on silent) isn’t healthy, but it’s what I do as a stats-addicted blogging strumpet.

Just to clarify, this is NOT the type of flashing red light I’m talking about. Source: stopthetraffik.wordpress.com

In this obsessive state, tunnel vision takes over; there is no middle ground: you are either black in your constant quest for hit after sweet electronic hit, or you are white: throwing your BlackBerry and laptop into the river before curling up fully clothed under a shower, attempting to go cold turkey from the compulsion to check your blog statistics every six minutes.

Irrespective of whether you are black or white, this battle against blogging makes you lose sight of things: time; ensuring that you have more than an orange and soy sauce in your fridge ; what point you were trying to make with the confusing colour metaphors; and, most importantly, the grey area.

The grey area is the demilitarized zone of opinions and personal beliefs. It’s a part that’s usually forgotten about when we judge, argue or write someone else’s opinion off as wrong. While it’s easy and self-serving – albeit incredibly naïve – to assert that our opinion or belief is the right one, it’s critical that we recognise there’s a lot we don’t know and can’t see from black or white. As we’ve discussed, coming from either corner tends to see us have blinkers fitted; this inadvertent narrowing of our perspective results in an inability to see more than about ten feet in front of our specifically colour-coded noses. Isn’t it about time that we accept that between the absolutes of right and wrong, there’s a lovely shade of grey? I hear they have wildflowers growing there. And pancakes.

While I’m adverse to making resolutions of any sort – especially on New Year’s Eve – I think we should all resolve to try and spend more time in the grey area from 2012 onwards, especially before judging others and condemning them for thinking black instead of white, or vice versa. Just remember: mixing black and white produces grey; therefore, the grey area is the location from which to listen, learn and debate. Colours don’t lie.

See, I told you there’s a grey area between black and white. Source: ianfitter.com