An Ode to Short Trips and Throw Pillows

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Welcome to the set, it’s yours. Paint it, frame it, set fire within it, practise your scales, paint your nails, and scream the lyrics to Billie Jean. Things will break, and you’ll make mistakes, but it doesn’t matter this is your set. Yours to shape, reconfigure and create. A place where your ideas will take a million forms. Your mind rest here, for thousands of hours and millions of minutes, while your bones ache from failed yoga attempts.

Welcome to my room. It’s had a colourful past that’s for certain, but there’s only so much you can do within four walls. This is a feeling that even new throw pillows can’t solve. A few weeks ago I had to flee. 700KMs, no less. To a nebulous of music, smoke and tragic beer. Here, a miraculous recovery was had, where my invisible sims bar turned green after being red for so long.

Small parts of you get lost when trapped in four walls, surrounded by the same faces. While new is not always better, it is definitely necessary.

Critics Divided (Ed Sheeran): There’s Always Rain For The Parade

To the alt-gang, nobody loves an underdog more than me. But that doesn’t make the mainstream the enemy. Believe me, I know what it’s like to hear that new voice crash through the sound waves, pounding the speakers with the rhythm that with will be locked in your head for life. For me that happened when I heard the song The A Team.

At that point in time it didn’t have 213,287,392 views. In fact it was around the 100,000 mark. The song delicately recounted the story of a woman selling her body in exchange for cocaine. Soon after, Small Bump came to the fore, telling a friend’s account of what it is like to experience a miscarriage. Whilst these were the richest in content, the sonic layering of Give Me Love and Grade 8 are in my eyes still yet to be beaten. That was Ed’s first album.

We’ve now hit the third, and the verdict in: The boy is good, if not the best. He became the first artist to have every single track from an album enter the Top 20, he broke Spotify with more than 218M streams in four days, and scored the biggest one-week vinyl album sale in more than 20 years. Despite the acclaim, I do admit that this isn’t my favourite Ed Sheeran album. But! You have to give credit where it is due.

Today, Pitchfork was retweeted one too many times with caption ‘Ed Sheeran’s new album is awful’. Taking her fangs to the jugular, the writer labelled the album soulless and lacking in introspection. But unfortunately, Divide wasn’t the only thing under fire. She attacked Sheeran’s brand as a humble, innocent act, and instead crowned him generic and feeble in his pursuit of love. Before finally delivering the sucker punch, whittling down his entire body of work down to Bublé-esque wedding tunes (aka. basic bitch music).

After a year of peddling upbeat music reviews for zonked out teens with droning twangs, who for some bizarre reason are highly regarded in niche pockets, I find these reviews a little hard to take. Undermining artists for what appears to due to their success makes little to no sense. Absolutely, there are artists that are undeserving of the title. But choose your targets wisely, and with reason. Not because of spite and clickbait.

P.S. Dare you to play this at your wedding.

How To Get Eyes On The Reef

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“We are going to lose about 90% of reefs globally, that’s just the science.”

There’s no place like the ocean; to me it is home. The reprieve of stepping onto the sand and disconnecting from the nightmares of land-locked cities will never lose it’s touch. In fact, being without it makes me nervous. It’s a place that lends perspective – like looking up the stars. Compared to the vastness of the sea and the sky, our problems don’t really matter.

But the truth is, we are now at war whether we like it, or not. We are battling the clock, the climate change deniers and the glacial realisation that we really messed up. Sacrifices are going to have to be made, while we fight tooth and nail for the coral reefs that count. Cue the 50 Reefs initiative.

The 50 Reefs chief scientist and the director of UQ’s Global Institute, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg will over the course of the year determine which coral reefs have the greatest chance of surviving climate change.

“These reefs will play a key role in re-seeding the reefs of tomorrow as ocean conditions stabilise,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

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To execute the initiative there will be three branches – scientific research, conservation and communication. As someone with a grade 10 knowledge of science, there’s little I can do for the first two, but everyone can spread the word. However there is a real stigma that surrounds environment protection. Those who defend it are met with skepticism, and are forced to claw their way into rooms that others can just walk into. They’re not hippies chanting a hypothetical catastrophe. The evidence is there, and their fight has always been getting the facts heard.

One aim of the 50 Reef plan is to make it onto the 6 o’clock news. So how does this small pack of scientists plan to replace Trump on the front page? While facts such as “we could lose all reefs by 2050” are compelling, they wear thin over time. When we first hear it our reaction is often one of panic, but by the fifth we’ve come to terms with it.

A key element of their communication campaign should be what I call the Pangolin approach. Instead of focussing on the ominous, overarching facts, environment protectors should readjust their macro lens. It’s time to zoom in on the animals and make it personal, because that’s what people notice.

If you don’t believe me, watch below.

As film maker Jack Harries, cofounder of JacksGap highlighted “Pangolins are the most traded mammal on earth, but you may not have even heard of them”.

The reality is, whilst we know the reefs are at risk it’s difficult to comprehend the magnitude of its extinction. It goes beyond the white coral skeleton that will decompose with time, it’s also about the ecosystems that will be buried along with it. Fish, turtles, and species we have not even know of yet, will vanish. Not only that, but it also risks a significant food source and livelihood for over half a billion people.

“To see the relationship between animal and carer in a single frame was very relevant for people to actually care”.

The relationship between the reef and the human populations it supports is crucial and seemingly unrealised. Therefore, by adopting case studies that focus on the specific animal species and the people who survive off the reef, the public will soon realise what I said at the beginning – the ocean is vast and vital.

I understand that whilst conservation efforts are made for individual species every day, such as the Australian Koala Foundation, the reef case studies would work as puzzle pieces to develop a well-rounded picture of what we have to lose.

Journalism Is Broken And Somehow Become A High School Popularity Contest

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 “When there’s no information, or much worse wrong information, it can lead to calamitous decisions and clobber any attempts at vigorous debate. That’s why I produce the news”. 

Welcome to the circus that has become “the news”.

There are many words used to describe journalists – political mouthpieces and gatekeepers being just a handful. Many entering the profession break in with the ambitious dream to deliver the hard hitting facts about the calamitous events that face the world. Little did they know that they would be covering Kim Kardashian’s emoji launch, and Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.

The tabloid press has been integral to the 2016 credibility crash of the news. Tabloid media assumed control decades ago, becoming more digestible forms of information. It allowed our sinister love of controversy to rise to the top, with misinformation at the heart of it. This type of information inflamed the masses with sensationalistic language that tended to divert from the former impartial rhetoric of the press. Gossip columns, astrology, celebrity interviews and scandal all became the focus, and a framing tool for PR’s. As a result, the facts that mattered got lost in the swill of voices.

Now, given the rise of crowdsourcing journalism, individuals have taken it upon themselves to assume the role of broadcasters as part of their shameless staunch to fame. Cue Tomi Lahren, a blonde embodiment of my worst nightmare.

Young Tomi possesses zero journalist qualifications, but she openly admits that. “I report on feeling, I report on emotion, I report on controversy. I’ve never once tried to mask myself as a journalist”. But she’s tapped into the tabloid trend, which is “whether you love [her] or hate [her], you’re still watching”. It’s sort of like a car chase; whilst you know it will end in flames, it’s impossible to look away. As Tomi so aptly states “controversy sells”.

In the high school popularity ladder opinion ranks a lot more highly than facts. We fall for clickbait and for falsities, because the news has become a competitive economy. Whoever delivers the catchiest headline, or the most Perez Hilton-like story, wins in the polls that day, irrespective of truth or validity.

I guess corporatists would argue that it’s “just good business”. Fake Facebook news reports have become their very own micro-economy in the Balkans, with teens producing eye-grabbing, emotional-toying and factually false stories that have generated hundreds of thousands of shares and likes. All the while their bank accounts soar. Several of the creators told Buzzfeed News is that they found “the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters”. Ah, I rest my case.

All that said, there are glimmers of hope. The BBC has just confirmed that the first three episodes of Planet Earth II have attracted more viewers in the 16 to 34 age bracket than The X Factor on ITV. Facts > Fame.

I wish to close this rather long Ramblings instalment with a segment from my favourite show the Newsroom. This is the journey that must be taken by the media.

“Reclaiming journalism as an honourable profession. A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect and a return to what’s important. The death of bitchiness, the death of gossip and voyeurism. Speaking truth to stupid, no demographic sweet spot, a place where we all come together.”

America You Fucked Up, But Remember The Power Is Still Yours

Trump is President, that can’t be helped. So what happens now? It’s actually quite simple.

First, close the chasm that Trump created. Many have said that America has never been more divided, a trait that I think we can credit to the new President elect. To sew his seeds of power, Trump capitalised on fear and the key issues that would trigger an all out opinion war. And guess what! He prevailed. But now he now wants to be the saviour that brings America back together, “united”.

The reaction to this comment has been an understandable outrage, with the hashtag #NotMyPresident overpowering twitter. Peaceful and violent protests broke out in New York, Portland, Chicago, Washington DC, L.A., Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Richmond and even Dallas! Trump divided them and he will come to realise that he was the cause of what will become his own political nightmare.

The only way America is going to heal is to remember that one another is hurting. Trump was elected because of the pain felt in middle America, and now women, immigrants and the LGBTQIA community are hurting for fear that their country will also turn their back on them. Recognise your pain, recognise the unnecessary hate and collaborate to design a future that works for both sides.

Second is get INFORMED. This has been said time and again, but it’s more important than ever. With the amount of falsehoods promoted by the Trump administration, it’s easy to see where many got it wrong. He was considered the voice of transparency, while Hillary was the supposed liar. But you have many operating under false assumptions. One Trump supporter said to Waleed Aly at a Trump rally that he was pro-life as he wished to protect babies from being decapitated at birth. No – that’s not typical abortion protocol.  Use the information at your finger tips to form an educated opinion, and rally for the cause you support. But know your oppositions standpoint, and attempt to understand it from their point of view.

Third is speak up. Stop fighting one another, but remain passionate about what you believe in. Don’t let this man divide you any further. Be smarter, be compassionate, and rein him in when he goes too far. That’s how you’re going to survive the next four years.

Epilogue Do I blame America? Absolutely. But, not the Trump voters. Nearly half the population didn’t even turn up on election day. It is them that we really have to blame here. Everyone else was just exercising their democratic rights and voting for the candidate they supported. If you’re mad, and didn’t vote – this is on you, you’re complicit to his victory. But, moving on!

How To Respond To Hate Of Any Kind – Airbnb Style

“I don’t hate you.. I just don’t like that you exist” – Gena Showalter

Everyone knows someone. You know the type. They’re the person who spreads venomous language through the veins of society, pushing their agenda onto anyone.  They speak over the top of you, drowning any chance for you to fight back. They’re the belligerents, the bigots and the haters. The ones whose opinions rise to the top of the hierarchy like oil in water.

Recently the Australian Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite was crushed by Labor for fears that it would incite hate speech from the vocal minorities. Airbnb is also enforcing a ‘Community Commitment’, banning anyone from the site who cannot commit to treating everyone with respect, without judgement or bias, “regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age”.

This is how you cope with those vicious individuals – ignore them and wherever possible, eradicate them from your life. There’s no point in engaging in long, serious discussions, attempting to reason with tactless people. They’re married to their beliefs. Concentrate your energy on something worthwhile, because eventually it will drown out the pointlessness of belligerents.

But, sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes it’s someone you’ve grown up with and can’t avoid. And sometimes that person seeks you out, steering their focus directly onto your own belief system.

I knew from very early on that this was someone I would never get along with. Their immaturity was staggering given their age, and their disrespect for others was beyond shocking. But childhood gave me short term immunity. For years I just watched, rather than falling subject to this individuals (excuse my french), bull shit.

But time prevailed, and my belief system developed. One, which differed to that of the person in question. I started to respond to them, and was met with their signature condescension. Eventually, this process became a tradition, and in their eyes a game. Any and every chance they got, they would pick the same fight.

Last week was no different. On Thursday at 5:19 PM I received an image of an anorexic woman sitting on the ground, surrounded by garbage that she had torn out of the bin. The text read “Available to start straight away – medical reception nurse. Good at sorting all torn up medical records”.

Admittedly I replied, I was too furious to think clearly. But I shouldn’t have because the text that followed was worse. They went on to detail how their friend “wanted to put her in the bin but the seven police and ambulance workers who were unjustifiably in attendance probably would not have liked that”.

After several people talked me down, I ended up not hitting send on my reply. Progress Report: Blissful silence ever since. You’re probably wondering at this point what the fight is about, but all I will say is its about ethnicity. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, it is etiquette to not assault people with yours.

Remember, hating is easy to do, and so is responding to it. The hard part is restraint. In life you have to pick your battles, and be able to spot a lost cause when you see one. The world is becoming a nastier place, so take Airbnb’s advice and don’t make room for people like that.

2016 In Review- The Worst Year in the 21st Century?

After two consecutive disappointing seasons of the Bachelorette and the Bachelor I’m just about done with 2016. This has been an absolute nightmare. Don’t you worry, I’m going to prove my case.

For starters, the fallen legends.

David Bowie. A hero in every right.

Alan Rickman. How dare you take our Snape away.

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Prince. Crying purple tears.

Harper Lee. To kill our souls even more.

Gene Wilder. Took us beyond our imagination.

Muhammad Ali. Delivered one last punch.

Second up, Politics.

Brexit. Proving that British bigotry is still alive and well.

Trump becomes the Republican Nominee. Start building your bomb shelter now.

Pauline Hanson takes the Australian Senate. The red-headed mongrel is back.

Turkey Coup. Turkey’s armed forces attempted to bring down President Tayyip Erdogan.

*Disclaimer. I could be here all day, so these are my top 4.

Three, Terror.

ISIS forces attack Deir ez-Zor, Syria. Killing between 130-300 Syrian army members as well as women and children.

ISIS executes 300 activists, police and military personnel in Mosul, Iraq. Rot in hell you unholy scum.

Brussels Bombing. 32 killed, 340 injured.

Seventy-two people, including 29 children, killed in a suicide bombing at the largest public park in Lahore, Pakistan. Seriously?

Orlando Shooting. 50 shot dead in a gay nightclub. In a year of full of hate, this was the last thing we needed.

Trio of suicide bombs at Istanbul Airport. 45 killed, 200 injured. 

US Police kill 193 African Americans. Black lives matter.

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Bastille Day Attack, Nice. 77 people killed after a truck drives through a crowd.

That’s up to July, but I don’t have the strength to continue.

A Few Other Highlights

Zika Virus Goes International. It was a guest star at the Olympics. The pool was green with envy.

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North Korea develops a nuclear warhead. Greaaaaaaaaaat.

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Georgia Love Picks Lee Over Matty. Love is dead and I’m done.

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Admittedly, the last one isn’t even a spec on the disastrous record of this year. But, much like my attachment to Drake and Rihanna, and Calvin Harris and Taylor – they were the shreds keeping my hope alive. Honestly, this year has truly been feral and it’s not even close to being over! 2017 couldn’t get here soon enough.

The Intersection of Politics and Music

This unlikely pairing has had an ongoing fling for centuries, with music often reflecting the lifestyle of its flamboyant partner, politics. So when in 2016 have the two had a rendezvous?

First cab off the rank is the Black Eyed Peas with their remake of their 2003 anthem Where Is The Love. The track itself is an ode to this absolute disaster of a year, commemorating the collapse of global affairs, whilst targeting gun violence.  The video features images from the Syrian war, the migrant crisis (including three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the beach) and Black Lives Matter protests. The most distressing part of the video is the appearances from Sandra Sterling, the aunt of Alton who was killed by police earlier this year, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando who was controversially shot, and David O’Brown, the Dallas Police Chief.

Beyoncé’s Formation has also been dubbed a public declaration of her support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whilst there are no explicit ties to the organisation, powerful images within the video tell the whole story. The video shows a child dancing in front of a police riot and a wall spray painted with the words “stop shooting us”. Beyoncé also sinks a New Orleans police car.

Axis Of Awesome’s Jordan has recently come out publicly as transgender and gives some insight into her experience in their cover of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Since Caitlin Jenner came onto the scene, transgender has become a topical subject on the media agenda. Finally a dialogue was brought to the fore and promoted a new strain of acceptance. This has been vital for lobbyist groups promoting puberty blockers, and to protecting the rights of transgender parents.

Macklemore’s Kevin highlights a lesser known epidemic in America, drug addiction. The rapper tells the tale of a young musician who lost his life under the influence of prescription medication. Many are focussed on gun violence, but in 2014 47,000 people were killed by overdoses – more than were killed by guns, or in traffic accidents. In a year where the news cycle has been dominated by trivial Trump quotes, songs like these are an important reminder that important political issues can be sidelined. Irrespective of a crises gravity.

The last and possibly the largest connection between politics and music in 2016 is Beyoncé’s  entire album, ‘Lemonade’, which was released conveniently in the same year as the US election. The concept album describes the inner torment of a jilted wife, whose husband has had sexual extra curricular activities. After working through the stages of depression and anger, the protagonist finds herself at the point of forgiveness, willing to uphold her wedding vows despite her partners indiscretions. Sound familiar? Oh yes, Hillary and Lewinsky a.k.a. Bey and Becky. One of the biggest stains on Clinton’s campaign was her decision to stay with Bill. People have perceived her as weak because of it. However, Beyoncé is a trendsetter, with many seeing her as one of the most powerful women in the world. If Bey stayed with Jay, then maybe people will stop judging Hillary for her choices.