Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Grief Harvest

The Grief Harvest

It's odd how influences converge. I recall a page from Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles" that refers to characters "slowly assembling the maps of Hell to guide the rest of us safely through the dark". I recall a Tumblr post about a variety of battles faced by those beaten down in their lives, and their welcome into Valhalla. The latter also came with many disparaging comments about how it apparently wasn't in line with the mythology, entirely missing the point of the story, and ignoring it's poignancy.

I was brought close to tears by the story, amplified by a song I was listening to at the time, "You Were Cool" by The Mountain Goats

It's good to be young, but let's not kid ourselves
It's better to pass on through those years and come out the other side
With our hearts still beating
Having stared down demons
And come back breathing

A comic came to me, and the tears flowed. Here it is below.





Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Pollyanna's Web

Much has been made in recent years of the onward march of technology, and a concept frequently pushed is that social media tramples on our happiness as it surges forward to make money from our personal data.

I understand that it is difficult to navigate this, and I feel that we are frequently unfairly judged for things that are not our fault.

Unfortunately for us, Cambridge Analytica don't give a fuck if you're smiling, they just want to correctly identify your prejudices to nail you firmly to your own convictions and crucify you next to the criminals you've told everyone you'll be voting for via the medium of a quiz on your pet's favorite brand of dog food as dictated by your star sign.

See? It's far too easy to sneer. You might well be wondering who the hell I think I am, talking to you like this, but we are on the same side.

Because it's all too easy to believe it, isn't it? To buy into this wholesale misery bullshit that they ram down our throats in the hope of turning us into the most profitable sadness foie gras. You risk forgetting that social media is a tool. And so is John Lydon, so I'll sidestep the "anger is a gift," schtick, as cathartic expressions of anger are generally considered to do more harm than good.

Thing is, WhatsApp and Facebook can be useful tools for checking in on friends while maintaining a respectful distance when they are going through a hard time. I found out months after the fact that sharing football jokes and memes with my uncle via WhatsApp had helped him carry on when his wife left him. Of course, I'm not so naïve as to suggest that was the entirety of it. A loving, supportive family rallied round and helped, just we did so in different ways.

I attended a music festival this year where my group of friends created a WhatsApp group for those of us with anxiety issues, offering support if anyone needed a break or a chat. Not the perfect solution, but very useful, and something that would have been difficult to achieve as little as ten years ago.

So don't just rely on the snide naysayers. You can make someone's day, and it is much easier than you think. Try it. Be kind to yourself.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The Calculus of Hunger

I recently wrote an article about cheap meals, and the misrepresentation of costs.

A similar issue is that of portion control. Thanks to the likes of the exceedingly smug Jamie Oliver, we have additional taxes on sugary foods. Similar campaigns have led to markings on food packaging to indicate levels of fat, sugar, etc.

This is good, to some degree, as it helps us to make informed choices about what we eat, and helps us to improve our diets. However, I dare say that those reaching for the bags of crisps or bars of chocolate, are well aware that they are not the healthy option. We're all rather sick of being patronised, thank you very much.

Also, the dirty tricks arise again.

A large bag of crisps will have the nutritional information based on a portion, generally a fraction of the size of the bag. Of course this is not just the case with crisps and snacks, but I use them as a convenient example. Perhaps I just have a problem in that I see the bag as one portion, rather than the arbitrary 25 grams or whatever has been deemed appropriate for me by whichever nutritionist we've decided is correct on any given week.

I do appreciate what people are trying to do, but frequently it is all too heavy handed. These nutritional stats are tweaked to give an impression that what you're eating is healthier than it really is. I understand. Nestlé need to make money, and behaving ethically just really won't cut it. Bellies need to be filled with whatever excrement companies wish to pump out, and we're all hungry. Just do yourself a favour and keep a calculator in the kitchen, right?