I’m sat here eating my toast with jam and butter and thinking about the nature of competition. What got me thinking about this was reading about old Zuck getting blasted again on Twitter. He was taking flak for doing something good. Facebook and Google have decided that they will take down any content that attempts to reveal the name of Trump’s whistleblower.

@sivavaid blasted back:

And @slpng giants chimed in with:

Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. It made me think, why doesn’t Zuck just take his marbles and go home? The guy has enough money to say, “I don’t need this shit,” and hop on a plane and disappear to the jungles or mountains somewhere and walk away from the madness. I don’t think there’s a law that says he has to do it in a responsible. The man could just leave it all behind.

Why put up with the agro?

Because he wants to accumulate power and influence and win the game. Think of the power Zuckerberg has. You could say he has more power than most of the world’s governments. You’ve read the headlines, they all want a piece of him, to bring him down a few notches because right now he has more power than any president or king. He may not have armies, but he has money and he has people. With the number of people on Facebook (1.5 billion active users), if Facebook was a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world. By comparison, the U.S. only has 327.2 million people (as 2018).

With Zuck’s data, he can manipulate what people see, what they believe, how they should vote etc. No wonder governments are afraid of Zuck and want to take him down.

When I think about Zuckerberg and he’s accomplished so far, How does a guy like that rise to the top?

He’s smart. He knows how to play the game, and he plays it for keeps!

My light bulb moment was this: all life is competition. We compete for everything – food, and shelter, and sex. Even families compete with each internally, they compete for attention, for who gets to watch what.

Even if you belong to a community and work in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, you still lose if you don’t know how play the game with your community. The politics of it all means people will still be competing for attention, for influence, for leadership and power within the organisation, regardless of the size. Even the holiest of the holy compete for people’s souls, for their dollars, for their minds!

In any organisation there will be jockeying for position and influence, however benign the group may seem.

Competition. Competition. Competition. It’s the foundation of all life – people, plants, and animals competing for resources be it land or food or survival (as in who’s going to eat whom).

Knowing that competition is a fundamental force in the universe.

And the game is rigged in favour of the house. Money itself is the greatest con job ever. We literally kill ourselves competing against each other to collect what amounts to nothing but paper.

If you want to eat, have some clothes on your back, and have a place to sleep that’s warm, then you can’t opt-out. You have to work for this paper if you want to survive.

Now the ones amongst who really get this, who know that this is all just a game, have freedom. They play the game hard, collect up all the paper and buy big houses, and fancy cars and live in mansions.

And like Zuckerberg, they keep playing the game until the end.

How do you play the game?

I’m in the airport departure lounge in Zurich. I ended up here, not by desire, but by fate, bad luck, or just the pure randomness of the universe. The billboard in front of me asks: what do you want the world to look like? Maybe Fate has led me here to confront this question.

I want the world to be a better place, of course, but beyond that, I’m not really sure. Maybe what i want is what Neo lays down to the Machine world at the end of the Matrix:

“I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”

If i bring it down a level and ask, “what do I want in the little localised world of Clay?” The answer to that is even more elusive. What do I want my world to look like? Books, learning, and being able to go on quests for knowledge (without the interference of “real” life) are all I’d really require beyond the basics.

The beginning, middle, and end of all the questing I do is in aid of THE quest, which is the development and knowledge of one’s true self. Do you really know who you are beyond all the programming and socialisation and mental slavery that has been imposed on you since before you even left your mother’s womb? Some of this imprinting is essential to survival?

Imagine:

…that you are a monkey, and you’re running along a path past a rock and unexpectedly meet face to face another animal. Now before you know whether to attack it, or to flee it, or to ignore it, you must make a series of decisions. Is it monkey or non monkey? If monkey, is it pro-monkey or anti-monkey? If monkey, is it male or female? If female, is it interested? If male, is it adult or juvenile? If adult, is it of my group or some other? You have about one-fifth of a second to make all these decisions or you could be attacked.

You see how deep the programming really goes. And the only way to be free of it is to reprogram your Self free from the influence of the programming already in place. What do you really know beyond what you’ve been told, taught, or read in a book (other people’s thoughts) somewhere? How do you know what you know?

You need to reboot your brain, get a factory fresh install.

The world is about to descend into madness again. Black Friday is just around the corner or so I’ve been told twice today by different sources. There are even hints of a Black Friday before the Back Friday. Watch them descend upon the shops like a pack of rabid dogs. The ultimate display of how we’ve been programmed as citizens of the consumer society.

I love to travel, but it’s also good to be home. I’m a little ragged around the edges from the trip, nothing beer and pizza (it is Friday after all) won’t cure. And the buzzer is just about to go off.

Before I get into today’s post, let me just say, blogging saved my life tonight. I’d just finished eating a very foul tasting burger courtesy of the Urban Grill in the Madrid airport. I had time to kill so I figured I’d knock out day 4 of #BlogPals19. I unzipped my backpack and reached for my iPad and it was there. Mild panic. I checked the other pockets. Nothing. I thought, maybe I’m just tired after 3 days of full on training delivery. I checked again. Nothing. I emptied my bag. Nothing.

Now full on panic set in.

Let me back up. About 30 minutes prior to this scene unraveling before me, I’d gone through security. They made me put my iPad and MacBook in separate trays. And then they made me go back through scanners because the lady didn’t like the contents of my bag. I had to empty the whole bag. I carry a lot of tech with me. I mean a lot. I filled 3 trays in addition to the 2 my iPad and MacBook were in.

I get through security and repack my bag.

My panic gives way to despair as I resign myself to the fact that there’s no way my iPad is still at security.

My thoughts turn black. Did they set me up at security? Deliberately separating me from my gear so they can nick my iPad?

The story ends well though. The security supervisor had my iPad safy stored waiting for the idiot who left his iPad to return.

I have only moments before I board my flight to Zurich. So here’s what I really wanted to post today – a flash fiction story.

They tell me pain can be interesting. But it has never been to my liking. She had a habit of shooting up with razor blades, said she liked the strange rush of fear how it melted the pain into a dirty kind of pleasure. I can’t tell if she is addicted to pain or simplly just a weirdo. For some reason she was popular with the younger girls in the office, probably because of her exotic choice of hair colour.

Even now I can feel her drawing power from me. Pay no attention to me, I tend to whine at the slightest discomfort following my primitive impulses. I’ve got to take the power back. Rage Against the Machine told me that. She’s fondling her breasts now.

Listen to me talk to the world. I want you to think I’m oppressed. Can you follow what I mean? She wants pain. I want pleasure. There’s a discrepancy in the power dynamics of this relationship. Control. Loss of control. Control. Loss of control. Lose control. Never had control. No control. Accept my grief.

Are you crying for your mama? I can console you! Come, little darling, come to your good mama. I’ll sing you a lullaby. Everybody knows romantic love doesn’t concern love at all.

Large dark shapes move in and out of the corner of my eyes. They’ve been exposed to the outside world, had fear planted in them. I want to say that I’m scared, but there’s no time for that. I have to perform without bloodshed.

I’d sleep with you any day.

I’m too nervous to respond. I’ve lost her. I don’t stop, but move more slowly. now i’m unconscious, a machine, resting against her shoulder.

She leaves me there etherised upon the mattress.

During my 30-day blogging challenge, I want to use a variety of mediums to story tell. Here’s a short video of my journey to Madrid yesterday. All the footage was shot on the GoPro Hero 7 and edited on an iPad Pro using the KineMaster app.

Video editing on a tablet or phone has come a long way. The pro apps like KineMaster and LumaFusion pack a lot of power, and unless you’re shooting a feature film, a full-blown documentary, or if you need something particularly fancy, you don’t need a desktop or laptop to make a good video.

I like KineMaster because it’s pretty intuitive and has an extensive Fx library (on the subscription plan). LumaFusion is more powerful but has a steeper learning curve. If you don’t like subscription models, you can buy LumaFusion outright.

If you’re a mobile warrior like me, this is great news. No more bulky equipment to lug around.

I’ve taken to using the GoPro Hero 7 as my main vlogging camera. I like it because it’s small, waterproof, and rugged. I can throw it in my bag or shove it in my pocket. I can capture video in 4K. And when I’m ready to edit, I can connect my iPhone to the camera using the GoPro’s built-in Wifi. The only thing I’m not sure about is the sound. Sometimes the recorded sound sounds clear, other times it’s a bit muffled. While I can play around with the audio in post-production, I’d prefer not to have to add another step in my workflow for a simple vlogging video.

There is a 3rd party case that you can buy that allows you to mount an external mount to the GoPro. But for me, it starts to lose the thing I like most about the camera, which is how compact it is. I don’t really want to pfaff around with cases and mics, plus it becomes more conspicuous.

1
Why stand on a silent platform? Zach de la Rocha yells out on Township Rebellion.

And I agree. This is the greatest time in history to get your voice heard around the world in whatever medium suits your fancy. Do you want to write? Start a blog. Do you want to make films or have your own TV show? Start a YouTube Channel. Do you like radio? Start a podcast! Do you want to be a photographer, a fitness model, artist, illustrator? Start an Instagram account. Do you Want to be a musician? Start a Soundcloud account. There is no limit on your means of self-expression.

I wrote my first blog post on the 8th of February 2004. There was a real sense of community then, in the blogging world, mainly because it was new and people were still trying to figure out blogging’s potential. It was more personal then too. But once someone figured out they could make money from blogging, the game started to change. And once people got more comfortable with e-commerce (giving they’re credit card detail over the internet) the game changed for good.

Then social media came along and like TV killed the radio, social media killed personal blogging.

Commercial blogging still managed to thrive. The likes of Huffington Post, Tech Crunch, The Dredge Report, Gawker (now defunct) and others like them, kept blogging alive, albeit with a different cultural flavour. The days of the solo blogger (alone in his or her room) bleeding their heart and soul out into the Internet were gone. The CopyBlogger crowd moved in with the promise that if you niched well and nailed your SEO, then you could quit your day job and be a full-time blogger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If you wanted to blog for the love of blogging, you took your game over to social media ‘cause that’s where the eyeballs are. And that’s fine too. But why not write from your own blog and syndicate out, which is what the IndieWeb Movement is partially about. There’s also the fight against having your data harvested and sold to any bidder and then fed back to you via algorithms designed to make you buy more goods and services that (in a Fight Club sort of way) you probably don’t need.

If you have a blog that is sat gathering dust because you fell for the rhetoric that blogging is dead or because you thought (in reference to social media) if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and left for the promise-land of ‘likes’ and ‘hearts’ and ‘rewteets’, then dust it off, and join the IndieWeb Movement. Your blog deserves it!

Side note: Most blogs, these days, look the same -clean, neat, colour coordinated. Remember when they used to look like this?

2
Travel reminds me that people are pretty much all the same regardless of where you go or what country you’re in. Everywhere we’re trying to survive and that breaks down to 3 things – feeding, fucking, and fighting. Everything else is just a sideshow or a way to kill time between the 3 F’s.

These are the kinds of thoughts I have at 3:30 in the morning.

3
My journey to Madrid was not a direct one. For some reason, nothing was flying out of the UK and going directly to Madrid. My only options were to fly to Frankfurt or fly to Brussels and then onto Madrid. I have a soft spot in my heart for Germans. I lived in the country for 3 years. I grew fond of the people and the place and the culture. Plus I love pretzels like the Germans love pretzels. And since I had an hour layover in Frankfurt I thought I’d seize the opportunity to grab a couple of them:

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So it’s day one of #blogpals19 and because I’m not one for always choosing the easy route, I didn’t hesitate to jump into this challenge knowing that my first 4 days of the challenge were going to be a challenge because I’m away from my home base on a business trip!

But that doesn’t matter. It’s a great opportunity to practice my mobile blogging chops. I’m using my iPhone 8+ to type this out as I taxi down the runway on LH 1112 to Madrid. I love having a small computer in my hand capable of being a one-stop media creation shop. I can write. I can record and edit audio. I can shoot and edit video. I can take pictures and edit them. I can broadcast live video and live radio. In short, I have the means of total media production in the palm of my hand. I know I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard already, but man this stuff excites the hell out of me. I get fired up every time I think about the power we carry around in our pockets!

5
We’ve done a pretty good job of domesticating humans. Law and order are prevalent in most of the civilised world. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Frankfurt or Madrid people, on the whole, behave the same – we greet each other, respect each other’s space and property. We stand up and sit down when we’re told. We stand in line. We pay for goods and services. We get up, go to work, watch a little TV, watch the news, complain about politics. We eat. We sleep. And we get up and do it all again the next day, until we eventually die.

We are well trained domesticated primates.

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The only thing that separates us from the beasts is our imagination and wild ass capacity for creativity. So don’t be a robot. Create stuff. Express yourself in you’re own unique way.

The world doesn’t need another automaton.

It needs YOU – in all your beauty and glory.

Go make something!

Slow start, but then again, Sundays were made for slow starts. If I tap into biblical mythology, even God took a break on Sunday. I guess, the trouble with us these days is we’ve been conned into the 24/7 mentality where we’re encouraged to cram as much “productivity” into a day as we can. Gorden Geko taught us that lunch is for wimps. And in this new world, rest is for chumps and suckers! Of course, I don’t believe that! But it is the sub-text of our lives.

Tomorrow is the start of #BlogPals2019 which is a 30-day blogging challenge I’m doing with some friends. I’ve been making my triumphant return to blogging and wanted a little motivation to help keep me in the habit of posting regularly. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so 30 days should be plenty to get us into the habit of posting on our blogs daily. This is where I think documenting and self-expression and advocating for things you care about comes into play. It makes blogging easier and more fun. On top of that, each new post becomes a continuation of your personal narrative. People get to know YOU through your blog.

And that’s as it should be.

It’s time to take back the web from those who just want to feed our data into an algorithm so they can sell us more stuff or tell us what to think or do. Even tell us how to vote for!

You have to throw that yoke off, be a free-thinker.

A new hope…

Join us!

October flew by like a kite caught in a hurricane. I didn’t realise it was November. The dark days should have been a clue. That and the sudden drop in temperature as winter starts to creep in. I didn’t really clock that it was November already until I started seeing posts for #NaPodPoMo show up in my Twitter feed. But hey, ho, there you go. New month, new ideas to chase and adventures to have as I continue my quest for new experiences.

Earlier in the month, I got into a Twitter chat with @alexrobinson. She carries a work phone and a personal phone and I commented that who I am and what I do are so mashed together that I couldn’t separate my life between work and personal. Most people probably see that as a bad thing. For me, it’s the goal:

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor, and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”

October has seen my return to blogging, but I’ll write more about that later during our 30 Day blogging challenge that starts on Monday.

To sign off this post, I’ll leave you with my October Playlist:

6 of my fav:

1) Red Hot Chili Peppers – Soul to Squeeze

2) Temple of the Dog – Say Hello 2 Heaven

3) Meat Puppets – Backwater

4) Cracker – Low

5) Bakar – Hell N Back

6) Audioslave – Doesn’t Remind Me

 

Peace good people,
Clay

Who’s obsessed with pinball? I used to be back in the day. I picked up the habit up from my Aunt Valerie who was super obsessed with the game. She used to drag me along to the corner shop and play for hours (or at least seemed like hours for a little kid who wanted to be outside playing with his friends). I remember one time while she was playing, she had me hold her paperbag full of cream-filled cookies. I remember there were a mix of flavours – strawberry, vanilla, lemon…lemon was my favourite. I got so bored waiting (and hungry I guess) I licked all the cream out of the cookies and put them back together, and then put them back in the bag. I didn’t think she’d notice. Later, when she went to eat her cookies, she most certainly did notice and I took a clobbering for it! I decided being a cookie monster wasn’t worth the pain.

I learned to play pinball instead.

Here’s a piece from Quartz on the history and state of play of pinball machines now in an age obsessed with video games.

Did you know…

Although pinball seems downright wholesome these days, it was considered anything but when it debuted in the 1930s. At best, having a pinball machine or two in your establishment might earn the owner a bit of a seedy reputation. And at worst, it would land the owner in jail, complete with a hefty fine.

I might do what my Internet friend Albert Z did and buy an old pinball machine.

“Pinball is in between the industrial revolution and the information age. Pinball is a warm entertainment. It’s electronic, but it’s still wood and metal. It’s still about using the heel of your hand to knock a big, giant machine so that Martians can die. Video games aren’t about physical interaction; they’re about information interaction.”

Pat Blashill, writer and “professional pinball obsessive”

I felt compelled to stay up late watching 80s videos. So many teenage memories flooded through my half-baked brain. Not such a great idea when you’re on the backside of 50 wondering where all the time went. Watching these videos reminded me of time when all I wanted to do was rule the world. Back then, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I knew how everything worked. I had it all figured out.

Of course now I’m not so sure anymore.

I picked up a copy of Hadley Freeman’s book, Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn from Movies and More. I wanted to see what lessons I should have learned, which now elude me.

Last night, I turned to Beverly Hills Cop for some answers. Really I just wanted some light entertainment and BHC is easily my favourite Eddie Murphy movie. But there were lessons:

  • Don’t always play by the rules
  • Rules were made to be broken
  • Use you intution
  • Heart over head
  • And sometimes, the ends do justify the means!

Today, one of my normal walks turned into a little mini-adventure on account of the floods produced by all this rain we’ve had over the past few days.

It started off innocent enough:

Then it heated up a little:

And finally it came to this:

All in a good Sunday.

I have the crew together who are doing a 30 Day blogging challenge with me that starts on 4 November. The folks include:

Cathy – my long-time blogging buddy

Zoltan – Mr bassplayer extrodinaire

Aimee – my collaboration partner in crime

Dave – my Twitter buddy

Raine – a fellow trainer who goes waaaaay back to our MLHSBC days!

So we have some blogging newbies, some veterans, and some inbetweeners. I’m looking forward to the challenge!