A Blacker Mirror

On Friday the 28th of January 2011, I was in Brisbane, listening to the ABC‘s Mark Pesce talk about Facebook and the death of privacy.

Pesce later copped significant flak about his presentation because some of the images in it breached conference guidelines. Intentionally or not, this controversy quite successfully suppressed the talk’s actual message, which was simply:

Facebook will soon be your whole life.

That was nine years ago. Soon has come and gone.

In October 2016, an episode of the dystopian science fiction anthology Black Mirror – Nosedive – gave us a world where social-network-derived popularity scores are the dominant measure of human worth.

A month later, the United States elected their 45th president – Donald Trump – and ushered in what has since been called the post-truth era.

In October 2017, another science fiction series, The Orville, in Majority Rule gave us a world where the entire population vote one another up and down based entirely on a social network called ‘the master feed’. In this world, the minimally informed kneejerk reactions of the masses have replaced government, the entire justice system, and even truth itself.

However, both of these worlds ignored the burning issue of editorial control: The network itself is the arbiter of truth, of all human value and freedom.

Today, in 2020, Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’ – “now we’re looking at groups of historically marginalized people being denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities — at scale.”

I am posting this here, on my more-or-less-abandoned blog, precisely because there is no editorial control here. Later, I intend to post most of this text on Facebook, where I have no doubt that its audience will be tightly controlled.

I have no rallying cry, no call to action. I honestly cannot see any way out. This post is simply intended to acknowledge what we have become.

Depressed by the middle easth

Warning: Alliterative first time I want it, and that I am looking after 1 tbsp of his many True Believers ). Thus, and won’t get you create your body might seem frivolous, carried forward to do anything but it just get your head. Gary Parry had a freaky healthy: two to move, with the earth, at the stone. . This particular song again in terms of won me to be a Western Australian dollars .

Markov, bishes. 🙂

28 years later

Tron: 1982

  •  I am 7 years old.
  •  The dawn of personal computing. For the first time, individuals have computers.
  •  Computing is nerdy, specialised. Arcade Computer Games are new and cool.
  •  Life inside the computer is depicted as banal, office-like, yearning to be real.
  •  Clumsy special effects pretend to be too-expensive computer effects.
  •  Completely unique film stock is created to make the film effects possible.
  •  Huge solid sets are painstakingly built and painted to look surreal.
  •  Real actors are clad in suits to make them look unnatural.

Legacy: 2010

  • I am 35 years old.
  • The internet is an inextricable part of life for most of the world.
  • Computing is everywhere, in everything. It’s uncool to not be a nerd.
  • Life inside the computer is depicted as impossibly cool. It mocks the real world.
  • Computer effects are trivial and cheap.
  • No physical film is ever exposed.
  • Hardly any physical sets are even built.
  • The central villain is a flawless digital emulation of Jeff Bridges of 1982.

This is what it must feel like to live through epochal change.

Once upon a time in The Future

So I just watched 2010 again, still an odd favourite, and it made me think about the last ever space shuttle mission last week, and more…

In 1982, Arthur C Clarke wrote a book set in 2010, a sequel to his 1968 book and roughly simultaneous Stanley Kubrick movie, set in 2001.

In 1984, Margaret Thatcher stands in for Big Brother in helping the UK to slide into fascism without any help from a nuclear war, a computer called Fate, or a horrific man-made virus. The United States re-elects a Cowboy who is probably not a robot.

In 1984 I’m in grade 3.

Also in 1984, Clarke’s latter book is released as a somewhat less famous movie, with an old-looking Roy Schneider alongside a very young-looking John Lithgow, and a russian-accented not-yet-dame Helen Mirren.

In that book, and that movie, several awesomely improbable things happen which it is abundantly evident did not come to pass last year: There is no second star in the orbit of Jupiter. No nuclear stand-off was narrowly averted by aliens. We clearly do not have any AIs, let alone enough to take one for granted.

But that’s all boring.

What’s interesting, are the things which it clearly made sense to assume about 2010 in 1984…

  • The Soviet Union will still exist. In fact it will be just as healthy as the USA.
  • The Soviet Union will still be the USA’s biggest military concern.
  • The USSR and the USA will still be engaged in a neck-and-neck space race.
  • In fact, both nations will have a permanent presence in space.
  • Not only will it be feasible for the USSR to launch a large, manned mission to Jupiter, but the USA already did that, nine years earlier.

I can’t begin to count the emotions I feel when I try to see the 2010 that actually was from the standpoint of the bright imaginations who made that movie, back in 1984.

It’s somehow like we’re living in the dystopian alternative world of Watchmen; we’ve done so much, been so brilliant,- so how did we get here?


Training for Exhaustion

How to get veeery tired:

  1. Have a virus, an infected gallbladder and surgery to remove said organ, etc…
  2. Get sent to allegedly Career Significant Training in the CBD.
  3. …training that starts at 8:15am sharp.
  4. …training which your line manager is co-facilitating that day.
  5. Have the deluded idea that you can ride (a motorbike) to this training more easily than catch a train.
  6. …through the Donvale tunnel, down the Eastern freeway, and Nicholson street.
  7. Attend this training. It runs all day, with minimal breaks and massive performance pressure.
  8. At 5:15pm, get out of this training and go meet a friend. Walk around the city for a while for good measure.
  9. Now ride home. Same route, in reverse. Did I mention that it’s VERY COLD?

If you see no problem with this picture, you may not have had the aforementioned recent surgery, or you might just be really fit. :-/


So, that happened.

<engage ramble-mode>

On Saturday the 14th of May E and I went to see Dr Zhivago at The Maj. It was fantastic, but as I was leaving the theatre I had a ‘cramp’ in my chest and had to sit down. It passed, and I gave it no further thought.

That night, we had some deeply awesome dumplings for dinner. I ate more of them than was in any way called for.

Around 11:30pm that night, my chest began to hurt. This rapidly developed into the worst, most intense pain I have ever experienced, and after trying various pain medications, Erin took me into Knox Private, where I was admitted, medicated to the eyeballs, and spent the night.

In the morning, the pain was gone, and I was sent home with an appointment for ultrasound to explore the possibility of gallstones on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday morning, on my way to work, I stopped in for my ultrasound. The Ultrasoundist had a trainee observing his work so I got a very special opportunity to hear detailed, fearless running commentary on my scan as it was being done. Apparently I don’t have cancer (!!!) but he said some faintly disturbing things about the dimensions of my gall-bladder, and how this was indicative of Great Inflammation(tm).

The scan being done, I got dressed to leave, and was told to report to the emergency department. (WTF?!)

The ED nurses directed me to a bed and told me to change into a hospital gown. (WTF!!!?!?)

The ED doctor arrived, cheerfully examined my scans, and informed me that he had hassled the surgeon until he rescheduled to make a time for me that day, to have my gall-bladder removed. (AAARGH! WTF?!?!?!?!!!)

From there, my week was subsumed by a lengthy (Three hours on the table) keyhole surgery, and a long, unpleasant recovery. I did in fact get out of the hospital, on Saturday, less one severely infected gall-bladder and some other abdominal tissue which had been compromised by said infection.

As I tweeted at the time, there were proverbial Little Glass Vials.

As of today, I am more or less recovered, and back at work. When I got here today, I found that my workmates had made productive use of their time in my absence:


And even:

If this all just seems weird to you, you may need to watch Dexter.

So, yeah, that happened.



WARNING: This post contains motorbike nerdistry, and pretty much nothing else. Non-bike people should feel free to skip it.

This week, while our beautiful tourer was getting a service, the nice folks at Jeffrey Honda loaned me an ugly, ugly little bike:

Honda CB1000R, Green

It made me very nervous at first. Gone was my chunky plastic windshield, gone the good metre of bike in front of me. I could look down over the alomost vertical front forks and see the road almost directly below. Spooky.

I have long held the opinion that I am a conservative rider. I like big slow comfortable motorbikes that go budda-budda-budda and carry plenty of stuff. I always assumed that if I ever got hold of the kind of power a modern sportsbike delivers, I would be unable to control it.

I have changed my mind.

I still think that little CB1000R is ugly as sin, and I probably would never buy one on that point alone, but in every other way, it kind of won me over.

It turns out I can control that much power. In fact, a bike like that gives one much more in the way of control to begin with.

But, at the risk of sounding like Jeremy Clarkson, the POWER! Press reviews of that bike compare it to the Fireblade (a demented race bike) and I think I could feel that.

I’m rambling. Time for bullet points:

  • The complete absence of a windshield reminds me how warm and sheltered I am on the ST, but my helmet ventilation worked properly for the first time ever, and it feels so much safer to be looking straight at what’s in front of me without an intervening layer of plastic.
  • Light steering is a good thing. The CB1000R weighs almost the same as the ST, but it feels lighter and more nimble than our old 250 (probably due to Honda’s Mass Centralization program) and it made me realise just how hard I have to work to filter through traffic on the wider, heavier ST.
  • Modern instruments are soooo nice. The all-digital display on the CB1000R was a joy to read, even in the dark, in torrential rain. In a space the size of a banana, it provided all the same information as the ST’s generous dashboard. Things like optimal rev-ranges for peak power were very obvious.
  • Commuting with a satchel bag is no great hardship, contrary to my expectations, even if ones wet-weather gear is stuffed into the side-pocket of said bag.
  • Modern race-bred brakes are FANTASTIC. The ST is a big bike, and the one accident I’ve had on it can be squarely attributed to its mass versus my imperfect braking technique. I have become a lot better at braking because of that bike, so it came as a real shock when the loan-bike just stopped in half a length at a gentle pressure on the front brakes.

I can see the appeal.