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Topics - Demolition Squid

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Apple Talk / Were Pogs a Thing?
« on: July 29, 2015, 03:36:51 pm »
Hey guys. The pogs craze kind of passed me by when I was young. I'm in a weird position where I can see the effect of pogs and the reaction to pogs but not the pogs themselves. The McDonald's, the Krokodil, the odd Happy Days rerun. Its not like I can livestream pogs, so what was it like for the people who lived through it? Do you still have the battle scars? What are your memories of pogs?

What does it mean?!

Aneristic Illusions / Stories That Restore Faith in Humanity
« on: July 08, 2015, 03:36:33 pm »
This seems much needed at the moment, in these bleak, terrible times.

Catrambone was determined to start rescuing people in 2014 and had set a hectic repair schedule. “It cost a crazy amount of money,” said Cauchi. The boat was bought and repaired, for a total of $5.2m, by the Tangiers Group (and still sits on the company’s books) but would be operated by a foundation Catrambone named Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Moas). He hired Martin Xuereb as director in February 2014, after cold calling to invite him for coffee. “I am not in the habit of meeting for coffee with someone I don’t know,” Xuereb, now 47, told me, but he and Catrambone ended up talking for five hours. “I wasn’t expecting him to be so young. What hits you straight away is his vision, his perseverance and his determination.” No volunteers had done anything similar since 1979, when a group of Germans chartered a freighter named Cap Anamur to rescue migrants fleeing Vietnam. An attempt by the same group to rescue 37 people off Italy in 2003 ended with crew members put on trial for facilitating illegal entry into the country; they were found not guilty, and the migrants were deported.


The first call came through after four days, on 30 August. The Moas team quickly found itself involved in the simultaneous rescue of two migrant boats, including a wooden fishing vessel with 350 people – many of them families from Syria – that was slowly sinking. By the end of the rescue, water was flooding onto the main deck of the fishing boat, and many of the migrants were in the sea. So many small children were rescued that the Phoenix almost ran out of baby formula. “That was a shock for most of the crew,” Catrambone recalled. “We were a bit overwhelmed with the thought that this was really happening. These children and mothers were at the hands of the sea, at the hands of death.”

The Phoenix rescued 1,462 people in 10 weeks and helped a further 1,500 onto Italian navy vessels. (There were also lulls when the crew fished for bluefin tuna.) The Phoenix operates in international waters that start just 12 nautical miles from the shores of Libya – now one of the world’s most violent places, where two separate governments have only tenuous control over their territories. An American consultant hired to advise on security fretted that the ship’s unarmed crew was too close to Libyan waters, but Catrambone decided he was overreacting – after long periods working in Iraq and Afghanistan (and a narrow brush with death during a missile strike in Israel), Catrambone felt he knew how to calibrate risk; the success of his own business, he says, is based in part on the tendency of others to exaggerate danger. “We are not afraid to go where others are [afraid],” he told me. “We don’t need a military convoy to take us.”

Yes, this is a man who is a millionaire - who has profited from warzones, even. But he's invested millions of his own money and much of his own time into saving the lives of the desperate and unfortunate because ...

Quote from: Christopher Catrambone
“If you are against saving lives at sea then you are a bigot and you don’t even belong in our community. If you allow your neighbour to die in your backyard, then you are responsible for that death.”

And that's heartening, isn't it?

Or Kill Me / The Profit Motive
« on: July 07, 2015, 08:47:45 am »
The Cold War is often characterized as a struggle between two great ideas: Communism and Capitalism. The accepted narrative is that Capitalism - with its love of freedom, apple pie and Mom - was inevitably going to triumph, and now we live in the best of all possible worlds.

Isn't that depressing? That THIS is the best we can muster?

The triumph of Capitalism has definitely been reaffirmed time and time again over the past thirty years or so. The Left has become a withered husk, horrified at the thought of being labelled 'Socialist'. The Right has become eager to become ever more extreme, so long as 'extreme' means slashing all barriers to the accumulation of wealth.

Societies are defined by what they stand for. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the credit was given to those hard-working industrial capitalists whose Free Market Spirit crushed the Reds and their authoritarian regime. In the aftermath of that, it became downright irresponsible to stop these paragons of virtue from doing whatever they wanted with their hard-won capital.

The main virtue in our world isn't freedom; it is profit.

In some parts of the world, profit is pursued under democracies. In other parts of the world, dictatorships. If you're on the international stage, though, you're really on the international marketplace. We've allowed them to convince us that, in the post-war world, politics is really economics. We've even allowed them to get away with the claim that this is somehow indicative of human nature; that greed is what motivates us all.

Do you believe that? Really?

Most people know that money isn't everything; that the accumulation of wealth isn't a good enough reason to live your life. Most people know that the value of a life has nothing at all to do with how much stuff that person managed to get hold of.

Profit is what drives us to feel helpless in the face of environmental catastrophes (it isn't 'realistic' to expect companies to become environmentally friendly; think of their profit margins!) and it is profit that sees us stand silent in the face of brutal dictatorships and religious extremism (seriously - Saudi Arabia has far more to do with the spread of islamic fundamentalism than any of the countries we've bombed since 9/11).

Our drive for profit is selling the human race down the river.

Shouldn't we pick a better reason to live?

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Religion and Your Body.
« on: May 12, 2015, 08:39:09 am »
I just read this interview] with Mona Eltahawy about her new book. Full disclosure - I haven't read the book, but there were some interesting quotes in there which got me thinking. The one which stood out was:

Are all religions misogynistic?
Absolutely, to some degree. All religions, if you shrink them down, are all about controlling women’s sexuality… They’re obsessed with my vagina. I tell them: stay outside my vagina unless I want you in there.

I don't think this goes far enough.

Whilst it is true that many religions (all? Not sure I'm willing to make that claim because there's probably some which don't - Wicca maybe?) place more restrictions on women than men - especially Islam which is where she's largely coming from - religious dogma exists to tell people how to live their lives. That is literally the point of the exercise, and sexuality is a part of that, so both women and men are told how they should act to be a good (whatever).

It feels like this is a fundamental part of looking to someone else to tell you how to live your life. If you're looking to religion for rules and guidance, do you really have the right to get offended when they start telling you things you don't want to hear?

It just felt particularly odd to me to make the claim that religion is fundamentally misogynistic when, by that logic, it'd in fact be more misanthropic. I'm sure that the implementation of islamic dogma in countries like Saudi Arabia - which she highlights as being part of what formed this opinion - absolutely is misogynistic, but it isn't exactly a picnic for many men, either.

Doesn't it just boil down to the principle that it is fine to make a case for how you 'should' live morally, but the moment it starts to be enforced and inflicted on the unwilling - especially with regards to your body and sexuality - that's when it becomes a problem?

Literate Chaotic / Screenwriting Course
« on: April 23, 2015, 09:28:10 pm »
I'm currently taking a screenwriting course on alternate Saturdays. This week will mark the 4th session - and when we're finally supposed to have the tools we need to start developing a script rather than working on the preliminary stuff.

Another guy on the course is also unable to make it this week and he's asked me to type up my notes. I figure I'll spend sunday typing up all of my notes so I have an electronic record too. Would anyone here be interested in them if I cross-posted? If not I'll only bother to make this week's useful to someone else, but if so I might as well go along and do it all at once!

Aneristic Illusions / Celebrities in Politics
« on: March 02, 2015, 01:07:43 pm »
Martin Sheen has come out with a few big hitters lately. After a blistering documentary about the Chartist movement which hit back against modern politicians he has stepped up and delivered an attack on both the right and left wing in a speech at a St. David's Day March:

“No one says they want to get rid of the NHS, everyone praises it ... But for decades now there has been a systematic undermining of it [the NHS’s] core values. This is beyond party politics. The Labour government arguably did as much damage to the NHS, as any Tory or coalition led one. In today’s political climate, where politicians are careful, tentative, scared of saying what they feel for fear ... all political parties drift into a morass of bland neutrality and the real values we suspect are kept behind closed doors. Is it any wonder that people feel there is little to choose between?

Do we want to be a society that is exploitative, that sees people as commodities, as numbers, and mere instruments of profit? Or do we want to be a society where each person is recognised, where all are equal in worth and value – where that value is not purely a monetary one?”

With this and Russell Brand - who, although I dislike for a lot of reasons, has also been throwing his weight around in the political sphere... it seems like celebrities are becoming more commonplace in political discourse, speaking directly about the system rather than their traditional role - shining a light on particular issues or becoming politicians aligned with one of the major parties directly themselves.

I suspect that this is because celebrities are - despite all appearances - people too, and they are in a unique position to capture media attention with a single coherent message where other organized attempts to do so (looking at you, Occupy) have utterly failed to do so. As dissatisfaction grows, and the traditional opposition fail to articulate an alternative narrative, the media looks elsewhere for one - and celebrities are a friendly, familiar face who also have the benefit of already knowing the ropes when it comes to press coverage.

This just seemed interesting to me. I really can't stand Russell Brand personally, but it seems like this isn't going away any time soon. I suppose it makes sense - the media demands that politicians play the part of actors to a greater degree than ever before (with soundbites, photo ops, and staged debates) - it shouldn't be too surprising that the professionals step up when they feel the urge.

Techmology and Scientism / Future Historians
« on: February 13, 2015, 02:19:51 pm »
So this story is pretty interesting.

Basically the vice president of google has said that, as programs to read files become obsolete, future historians will no longer be able to access documents we are storing electronically.

I lived with a historian at university and this seems fantastically naive to me. If the records still exist digitally somewhere, I imagine that future historians would learn to code new programs to access the old information rather than just let it sit there. People have rediscovered dead languages to interpret old records and such, so why wouldn't they go to similar lengths to access this information?

Especially since people are already thinking about this, I'm not sure the concern is worthwhile... but it is funny to think that in two or three hundred year's time we could have absolutely no idea how we got to where we are because the world seems to go 'stone tablets > paper records > ??? ??? ??? > Apple iBrain'.  :lulz:

Apple Talk / Dear Dok. Howl
« on: February 08, 2015, 10:26:08 pm »
Please forgive the haste of this note, only it is becoming quite difficult to keep the paper dry, I am sure you understand.

It finally happened you see. In the end, it was surprisingly gentle - in the way these things so often are. There was no great explosion, there was no time to panic - in one instant we were wandering around, going about the Business of the Day, and then, after a quiet bloop, we were underwater.

I think it actually took some people a few hours to notice that they had drowned. The clever ones worked quickly to evolve gills (the really clever ones already had them, naturally). Oh, there was some fuss at first of course - some people just aren't very good at adapting, you know? But once the water gets in, one way or another, it all calms down.

Now, the sun is a very long way away, and it doesn't seem worth the hassle to try and get back up to the surface - and anyway, if we did, then we'd just have to remember how lungs work, and that's a recipe for screaming if I ever heard one.

No, better that we stay down here. It is quiet without all that air getting in the way. It was cold at first, but the funny thing is, the longer it goes on, the warmer it feels. The sharks down here at least have the decency to look like sharks, and if you stumble across the odd unexploded mine... well, you know me. I've always enjoyed that kind of thing.

Now, if I could only talk the silly bastards out of trying to make tea with seawater, we'd all be fine. Well, I guess there's no such thing as paradise.


Mr. D. Squid.

P.S - I don't want to be 'that guy' but I have enclosed a snap of the neighbourhood. I think you'll agree it is a great improvement!

(If undelivered, please return to Mr. D. Squid, 14 Big Ben Reef, New Atlantis, UO8 B12)

Literate Chaotic / Drabble!
« on: February 01, 2015, 10:34:11 am »
Something I've come across in the Elite: Dangerous community which is pretty fun as a writing exercise is the Drabble. 100 word stories (not including title).

So... here's my first attempt at one. Because Elite: Dangerous has a massive amount of different governments and factional alliances but ... the impact they have on your gameplay is literally just 'they sometimes ban different goods and might have more security'. I thought it might be a fun thing to have a thread for (although... obviously, I don't expect Discordian drabbles to stick to the space theme  :p)

The Great Bureaucracy

The Demolition Squid had been a great ship, but a lifetime of military service took its toll. Then they’d stripped out as much space as possible for cargo. Now, it was more like an old frying pan. Beaten, blackened and chipped.

The Commander drummed their fingers, waiting for the scans to complete. Today, it was communists. Tomorrow, capitalists. The day after, monarchists. Give humanity infinite space, and they’d divide it up and start bickering about who was best.

But the docking procedure was always the same. The universe was run by traffic wardens.

“No contraband found. Hail Comrade!”

“Hail Comrade.”

Aneristic Illusions / Oh Dearism.
« on: January 02, 2015, 10:48:37 pm »
This is a really interesting clip from Charlie Brooker's 2014 Wipe. Adam Curtis has discussed the idea before, but this hypothesizes that the reaction most people have to the media ('oh dear' because they feel it is something they can do nothing about) is now being deliberately invoked by politicians and media elites as a form of control.

What particularly stood out was this quote about the war in Ukraine, from one of Putin's advisors.

The underlying aim, Serkov says, is not to win the war, but to use the conflict to create a constant state of destabilized perception in order to manage and control.

By continually throwing contradictory information into the mainstream, and flooding us with a stream of information with little context (or deliberately misleading context) we are kept in a state of uncertainty where we do not have the tools necessary to form a coherent alternative to the decisions that are being made on our behalf. They - the politicians and decision makers - deliberately want to make people throw up their hands and say 'oh dear' because merely recognizing that a thing is bad does not threaten them. Especially when they are ostensibly agreeing with you that the situation is bad and they would like to change it, whilst simultaneously working to perpetuate it.

This kind of thinking seems like it'd be quite familiar to Discordians - and it plays into some of the behaviours we talk about with people taking the opinions of their 'group' and seeing it as an attack on their identities when those opinions and assumptions are attacked. It is more sinister than we often ascribe to - I don't know about anyone else, but I assumed that the politicians were as much a victim of confirmation bias as anyone else, and tended to just be blind to the inherent contradictions in what they were saying.

But the quotes from the Russian advisor seem like a convincing argument that this isn't the case.

It also feels like I've been falling for this myself. Looking back over the year - longer, really - the news has just been a constant stream of horrible situations with the end result generally being a sense of powerlessness.

The question is, knowing this, what do you do about it? It is almost the opposite of 1984's Ministry of Truth. Where the Ministry of Truth wanted to reinvent the past and make people believe in their version of events, this strategy relies on nobody knowing the present and casting doubt on the past so that the status quo can just continue. If you can't pin down what's happening, you can't respond to it. There's been massive anger and outcry over all sorts of issues over the past few years - MP's expenses, child abuse, banker's bonuses, the financial crisis and the Occupy movement - but this anger has failed to result in any actual changes or serious action (aside from some arrested celebrities) and eventually the news cycle just moves on with no resolution.

It seems like a strong and independent press to confront politicians when they lie and mislead, and hold them to account, should be the answer. In practice, any more voices will just add to the cacophony, because having many conflicting messages is itself part of the strategy. This problem is likely exacerbated in the UK by the fact the BBC has taken impartiality to mean 'give equal voice to the two most polarized individuals we can find on any issue'.

Step 1 is probably 'refuse to accept that things can't get better'. I'm just not sure how to translate 'media is probably being manipulated in order to provide confusion' into useful actions.

Apple Talk / ITT: New Years Revelations
« on: December 31, 2014, 10:05:58 pm »
So far:

Noobs = Ninja Boobs.

More as the evening develops

Apple Talk / Breaking: Madonna Admits Illuminati Influences!
« on: December 22, 2014, 10:19:10 am »
Quote from: Madonna
“There’s a lot of talk in pop music right now about people saying, ‘Oh, this person’s a member of the Illuminati,’ or they’re Illuminati, or you’re Illuminati, and people’s idea that there’s a group of entertainers or very wealthy people, they’re referred to as the Illuminati, and they work behind the scenes and they control things and they’re very powerful, and there’s possibly a reference to something dark, or black magic, or something like that. And I have to say I laugh at all of those things.

“I think there are some people who don’t mind being referred to as that, but I know who the real Illuminati are, and where that word came from. The root of the word is “illuminate”, and that means “The enlightened ones”, and it came from the Age of Enlightenment, when a lot of arts and creativity flourished, from Shakespeare to Isaac Newton, to Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo: the philosophers, artists, scientists were all engaged in a kind of high level of consciousness through their work, and they were enlightening and inspiring people around the world. And those are the true Illuminati.".


Techmology and Scientism / Dumb Environmental Science Questions
« on: December 17, 2014, 10:04:44 am »
I'm fairly sure that the answers to these questions are... obvious, but an hour or so of inept googling last night has left me none the wiser so I thought I'd throw them out there.

1) Ice Caps = Ocean Level Rising: On an old episode of Mock the Week, Dara O'Brien made the claim that ocean levels won't rise as the ice caps melt for the same reason that a melting ice cube won't raise the level of a glass of water. Archimedes principle says that there should be no effect. Now, I'm guessing that the reason this isn't true is because the oceans do not flow underneath the ice caps as such (so the mass of the ice caps is not currently influencing the oceans one way or another) but... I don't know. Is that right?

2) If the problem with global warming is that more energy is being released than before, does it matter how that energy is generated? My dad was talking about his concern that bringing in energy from space - although a potential alternative to fossil fuels - would still be disrupting the Earth's 'closed system'. I tried to explain that the earth isn't actually a closed system at all (which I am pretty sure is true?) But the fundamental problem seems to be that energy that was locked up in oil, rocks and so on is now being used, with various by-products inevitably including heat. Even if we switch to wind, solar, nuclear and similar forms of alternative energy... surely we'll still be producing more heat than there was previously, and that will still raise the temperature (and lead to the problems we're seeing?)

I'm sure there'll be more some time but... these are the two that come to mind right now.

Literate Chaotic / Script Feedback
« on: December 15, 2014, 10:08:48 am »
So, the main project I've completed this year was a spec script and series pitch for a drama called the Entropy Resident in the System (which I think is a phrase that was coined here ages back). Its got a lot of discordian themes and I was (am?) pretty proud of it.

Unfortunately, the BBC rejected it without feedback (not entirely unexpected - they get a lot of scripts). It is currently entered into the Channel 4 competition - but as we're fast approaching the deadline for feedback there (20th) and I still haven't heard anything from them, I'm not too hopeful.

I'm probably going to enrol in a scriptwriting course next year, because most of the feedback I've been able to get hasn't been terribly helpful (mostly its just been 'yeah this is good' - but whilst I appreciate that, it doesn't help me improve as a writer). I was wondering if anyone here might like to have a look with a view towards areas of improvement?

If you are interested, shoot me a PM with an email address and I'll send it over.

Or Kill Me / Negativity
« on: December 12, 2014, 11:09:57 pm »
Do you ever get the feeling that other people view the world as though it were a photo negative?

'We don't provide enough for our poor or disabled, but THOSE PEOPLE let them starve to death in the gutter'
'We don't try to find common ground with our neighbours, but THOSE PEOPLE are actively attacking theirs'
'We aren't really offering you any choice, but THOSE PEOPLE don't get to vote at all.'
'We have sexism, racism, homophobia, but THOSE PEOPLE legislate to enshrine those things!'
'We commit torture, but THOSE PEOPLE bury their victims alive by the thousand.'

But you can't build a positive image out of negatives.

Telling people what you aren't says very little about what you are. The subtext is the most telling thing; it could be worse, so shut up. Idealism has become a dirty word, because who can afford to be idealistic in a world with so much horror?

People fall short of ideals, yes. That doesn't mean they aren't worth having, or that they should be ignored because it is hard to live up to them. The correct response to falling short of those ideals is not to shrug your shoulders and say 'well we tried but oh well', it is to strive to overcome those failings. Really work at it, not just say you will and then carry on exactly as before.

If the future is going to be better than the present, by definition, you have to believe that the present isn't as good as things are going to get. And that is, overwhelmingly, the sense I get sometimes. In fact, most people I talk to believe things are going to get worse.

Then, things DO get worse.

And nobody does much of anything.

Why would they?

That kind of negativity fits very nicely with their worldview.

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