Calling-out Cancel Culture

So how did cancel culture manage to get such a big foot in the door?

Also know as “call-out culture” cancel culture is the current Big Thing for those always on the look-out for something to get stuck into, whether they fully understand who, what, or why they are calling it out or not, because in most cases they haven’t really checked for authenticity, yet will blindly compound it by “cancelling” him, her or whatever anyway, and then it turns into a thing and the rest follow suit. Very unfair.

But initially cancel culture was only about catching out an individual, or an organisation, doing something confirmed legally or morally wrong and then publicly exposing them for their actions. Especially if the person/organisation was still doing it. The idea was to inform others, who could then choose to boycott that person or organisation if they so wished. But like with anything along these lines, social movements tend to attract all kinds, which is how we have ended up with a new wave of cancel culture hell bent on exposing someone, anyone really, on anything the movement can dredge up, no matter how far back they have to trawl to find something. Assuming they do. Find something, that is.

It is a breeding ground for toxicity, a hate culture hellbent on ruining free speech, reputations and livelihoods, while hiding behind a facade of holier-than-thou moral righteousness, and on social media it is mob mentality at its worst. Especially on Twitter, where anyone can be called-out and cancelled over just about anything. It only takes one person to get the ball rolling and before the day is done, a horde will be kicking it along because their followers will have mindlessly jumped onto it. The “offending” party may only have had an original thought, an opinion that differed and then expressed it, but more often than not, that is all it takes.

Those into cancel culture are very easily offended. Even when they cannot define why they’re offended, other than that everyone else in their group is offended. But they have become a shouty and annoying subset of our society who have taken it upon themselves to call-out every single wrong thing, no matter how minor or how long ago, committed by anyone and everyone, at any time in their life, and turned it into a major offence against the world and humanity. They jump to  conclusions, post rants on social media that take it out of proportion and context, and then vehemently call whoever they have targeted out, cancelling the person/business over whatever the perceived “breach” of their woke moral high ground was. Targets are often celebrities or other public figures who have offered an opinion that doesn’t gel with the mob. But sometimes it’s just an ordinary individual. Whatever, the mob gets offended and once that happens, it’s open slather. The cancel culture crews will find a way into the minutiae of that person’s life and use anything they find, no matter how insignificant, to ruin them.

Which is where the threat to free speech and the right to have and voice an opinion is being wrought. And I’m not talking about the genuinely rude and offensive here. I am talking about an individual’s right to express a different take on things (which excludes those into cancel culture because they don’t have opinions, only unsubstantiated rants). None of us think alike on everything, nor are we all perfect. No one is, and many of us will have said or done something in the past that came across in the wrong way. Even the best of us. But does that give someone the right to dig it up and put it out there to discredit someone, ruin their career or even their life? No it doesn’t. Like I said, I am not talking about genuinely morally wrong or criminal speech or behaviour, I’m talking about the everyday things and the faux pas and the nonsense we were all guilty of in out teens, when we all thought we knew everything. What gives the cancel culture movement the right to go looking for something and then use it out of context to destroy someone? But that’s what cancel culture has become and people are almost afraid to open their mouths these days, let alone post a comment somewhere, and that is wrong.

I think it’s time to cease playing into this type of extreme cancel culture. We don’t have to follow the trend and we shouldn’t if we don’t have a shred of evidence to back a “cancel” up. A difference of opinion is not enough to warrant a torrent of abuse or a “cancelled” status from a bloodthirsty mob. Save the drama for something we know is really wrong and cancel the rest.

I’m calling it out.


Cashing-in on Green. Again.

You know, it’s just incredible what some marketing types can come up with to coerce people into paying more for something when they don’t need to. Sure, they usually get caught sooner or later, but that doesn’t stop the next marketing guru from making claims about their product that just aren’t true.

Like the painkiller brand  that claimed it’s product went “directly to the source of pain” which was a load of croc. No “green” claims here, but eventually people woke up to the fact that painkillers, all painkillers, numb the pain receptors in the brain and that’s what stops whatever is hurting from doing so; if it went “directly to the source of the pain” it would do absolutely nothing. When they were eventually called to account, the CEO blamed the consumer for falling for it, saying they should have known better. I think he thought that was a good enough excuse for lying. Over-the-counter pain medications all contain pretty much the same ingredients in the same levels, yet there are still painkillers on the shelves claiming to be for “specific” types of pain. They cost more than the general range, despite the fact they contain the same key ingredients and all target those same pain receptors in the brain.

But anyway, this post is about products claiming to be environmentally-friendly that probably aren’t. Some years back, one of the electricity companies began advertising their new “green” electricity. They did a nice advertisement for television, waxed lyrical about “reducing our carbon footprint”, developed a cute logo for their new green electricity and a lot of people fell for it, despite the fact that their “green” power from alternative energy sources was going to cost them even more than the high rates they were currently paying for the standard stuff.

So I decided to look into why that was…which eventually lead me to something startling. Turned out that at the time those ads were airing, the company did not have sufficient alternative infrastructure in place to guarantee those customers paying a higher rate for “green” power were getting what they were paying for. During off-peak times a percentage of their electricity did come from alternative sources, but not all of it, and during peak times the percentage was close to zero.  The company knew this yet they still advertised their higher-priced “green” electricity and people fell for it. And then they paid for it.

And that’s the problem with “green”. Environment equals money. Terms like “green” and “environmentally friendly” are money spinners for the businesses that use them and while some may have a genuine product that is what it says it is, others do not, but that doesn’t stop them from slapping a “green” label on it and hiking the price. Fortunately, many of them are caught and exposed for the frauds they are.

What got me onto this topic though, is a new paint being advertised that claims to “absorb carbon” as it dries, thus turning your room, or your whole house, “…into a tree!” It has cutesy artwork of a happy baby with it’s chubby little arms up, and a fan or leaves arching, foliage-like, above its little smiling face. Forgive me my scepticism, but I think I’m seeing the “green” electricity thing all over again.

Admittedly, I haven’t looked into the mechanics of how this miraculous product manages to absorb carbon but when you consider that most paints are water-based these days and are touch-dry in 30 minutes, I have to wonder just how much carbon it can soak up from the entire planet’s atmosphere in such a short time? Assuming, that is, that it does and I have some real doubts about that. Also, if it’s an interior paint job, how does it manage to absorb carbon from the air…that’s outside? But it all sounds so wonderful and environmentally responsible and the baby looks so cute with those little leaves artfully arranged above it!

But before it’s exposed as a counterfeit claim, which I suspect it will be, the manufacturer is going to make a killing on sales because people are going to rush this paint without stopping to analyse the claims it is making. It’s “green”, it’s saving the planet and their house will make “…like a tree”!

No it won’t.


When Going Cashless Gets Creepy…

Cashless transactions have been a thing for a long time now. It began with the introduction of credit cards and rolled from there, but cash is still available for those who prefer to use it instead of plastic for everyday transactions. People, on the whole, like cash.

The current pandemic though has seen a surge in cashless transactions for even the most basic shopping and many businesses are either encouraging it, or just plain demanding it, along with shoppers opting for cashless because they don’t want to handle actual physical money in case it’s contaminated and they catch the virus from touching it.

Okay, I get that, but that’s where the hand sanitiser comes into it; handle money, cleanse hands. It works.

But if you were someone with a lot of money, a patent on something that will make you heaps more, and an agenda for turning the world’s population on to cryptocurrency, you’d take advantage of the current desire to pay for everything electronically and quietly feed the fear about dealing with, or handling, cold hard cash. And if your patent involves the use of cryptocurrency to your definite advantage, well, you’d promote it for all it was worth, even if it’s not really worth anything except in an online transaction where the other party also uses it. But there’s not a lot of cryptocurrency transactions going on right now, so you would have to devise a way to make virtual currency every bit as desirable as actual currency and that would be a biggie.

Unless you found the world in a situation where cash, as a potential virus carrier, is becoming less popular with the masses. Enter COVID-19.

Back on 20 June 2019, Microsoft Technology Licensing filed an application (Patent Number 060606) for a system called Cryptocurrency System Using Body Active Data, which describes a system where a device can verify whether “the body activity data satisfies one or more conditions set by a cryptocurrency system” and once verified, the user is awarded cryptocurrency for completing “blocks” of verified tasks and transactions which are then added to a blockchain. On 26 March 2020, the Patent (Publication Number US20200097951) for the above was published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

So what exactly is a “Cryptocurrency System Using Body Active Data”? Well, it monitors brainwaves, body heat, heartbeat and other personal biometric data emitted from the user whenever the user performs tasks provided by an information service provider, such as viewing advertising or using specific Internet services. Whatever it is they’re doing, the data from the transaction is then placed on the blockchain, which is the verification that the task was completed. By tracking the users’ brainwaves and other body responses, Microsoft hopes to use the data generated in a blockchain system which would then allow for the creation of currency as validated in a cryptocurrency system.

Anyway, in order to access validation data, the human user would require a censor, which is either attached to, or implanted in their body. Microsoft envisages users being rewarded for allowing their body to be monitored in this way by paying them in cryptocurrency for performing specific tasks; a process known as “mining”.

Huh? Is this set to be the next step in creating a whole new workforce and paid employment system? A new global currency system? To be honest, I really hope not, because everything that everyone does will be recorded, from cryptos to voting records to medical data and so on. I do not want my whole life on record in a public blockchain. And I like real money, thank you very much! And my financials and biometric data, private.

But what, exactly, is a blockchain? Blockchain technology was the brainchild of either an individual, or possibly a group, named Satoshi Nakamoto, and is a kind of “diary” or spreadsheet containing information about various transactions which is spread over many computers, at the same time, each of which have a copy of the blockchain. All information on the blockchain is publicly available as it is a decentralised, transparent, immutable system and the information is stored on many computers around the globe. No one controls it. It was originally devised for digital currency, Bitcoin, but it has evolved into something much bigger, as the tech community has discovered other potential uses for it. Basically, as I said, it is a time-stamped series of immutable records of data managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. It’s supposed to be very safe, as users are not “identified” publicly on the blockchain, but let’s face it, any hacker worth their salt could play serious silly buggers with it if they really wanted to. Anyway, one of its uses is it can store and transfer money and can replace all the current processes and business models that rely on charging fees for transactions. Transactions on the blockchain are free and many things can be fitted with blockchain code. It cuts out the middleman. Blockchain would change the way the financial world operates and has the potential to eliminate almost every financial institution, unless they made some big changes to their operations, like eliminating fees and commissions from their business model. That sounds great, yes? Well, not really. You know what they say; if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

I don’t know about you, but I am seeing something here that I don’t think I like. Sure, it hasn’t been implemented yet but like most things with a (possible) hidden agenda, should this technology become widely available, it will begin with being an “option” for those who want to use it, make their biometric data available and accumulate cryptocurrency for some future use. And then one day it may no longer be optional. It has the potential to be the way of the not too distant future and if cryptocurrency is set to become the new global currency, none of us may have a choice if we want to earn a living. This may be the only money we can use. But it’s what we would have to agree to and what we’d have to grant access to, in order to earn, that I don’t like.

I don’t like it at all.


Designer? No. Crossbred.

Since when have crossbred puppies cost four figures?

Well, probably since some savvy breeder ended up with an accidental litter of crossbreeds, saw how cute they were, and opted to make a killing, financially, via a cutesy name and some clever marketing to make it look like a deliberate creation of a whole new breed.

Except they’re not. Nor are they “designer”. They are a cross between two completely different breeds and while the purebred puppies are entitled to their price tag, within reason, the crossbreds are really not.

That’s not to say they are not entitled to a loving home and a happy life. Of course they are. That should be the life of every animal, but to call these little crosses Cavoodles and Moodles and Labradoodles (just to name three) attach an exorbitant price tag, and con people into thinking they have just paid a small fortune for something unique, is plainly and simply a rip-off.

I’m not blaming the puppies here. Most of these crosses are really cute. It’s the “designer” dog breeders who are big-time snout-in-the-trough who give me the you-know-whats, turning out crossbred puppies in extraordinary numbers and charging over the top prices for them. If anything is going to encourage backyard puppy farms popping up all over the place, it would have to be the “designer” breeders. Especially if they can get away with selling the puppies off at thousands of dollars a pup.

And why am I having this conversation? Because of the recent reports of “designer” puppies being suddenly in high demand by people cooped up at home, as a result of the pandemic, suddenly deciding they want a companion. A dog would be nice. Preferably a French Bulldog (the current trendy breed) or one of those crossbred designer puppies. Either will look good in social media posts and will be a cute distraction from the four walls.

I just hope they realise they are responsible for that puppy’s health and wellbeing for the length of its life. Pet ownership is a long term commitment, not a short term distraction to keep its owner entertained for a few months while in lockdown.

Anyway, French Bulldogs can go from anywhere between $6000 to $15,000 each. A Moodle (Maltese x Poodle) is $6000 plus, ditto a Cavoodle (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Poodle). Thing is, if a Moodle was advertised for sale for what it really is, a Maltese/Poodle cross, that price tag would get laughed out of town because people would rightly conclude that a crossbred puppy, no matter how cute, was not worth six grand! But if it’s called a Moodle, a Designer Puppy… I know, right? Some people have far more money than sense. And probably shouldn’t be allowed to own a dog.

Once upon a time though, it was whichever purebred dog was the current status symbol that fetched a ridiculous price and unfortunately, many got dumped in pounds and shelters when they went out of fashion, to make room for the next hot breed puppy. But now it’s Designer (mix-breed) puppies that are all the rage.

But if people are really genuine about taking on a canine companion, why not visit one of the animal shelters that have many, many puppies and adult dogs just crying out for a forever home. They could have their pick of the number of purebred and crossbred (okay, maybe not the current “designer”) dogs, and there are some truly beautiful animals there who would love to be someone’s lifetime companion. And they are also a lot more affordable than the little fashion accessories mentioned above. There is nothing wrong with shelter dogs, other than they have been surrendered for whatever reason; their owner had to move away, or died, or had to move from a house to a flat. Or just lost interest in caring for a pet. And it’s sad. But equally sad are the “designer” puppies, whose status as a fashion accessory can drop as quickly as it began, when the next new “designer” cross replaces them.

Some people don’t deserve to have a pet.


The New Dawn is Nigh

Welcome to the end.

No, no, not the end of the World, silly (what were you thinking?) I’m talking about the end of the current astrological age, which began waaaay back in 68 BC or thereabouts, when the World entered the Age of Pisces.

Whether you believe in them or not, astrological ages are very real and occur due to a real motion of the Earth, known as the precession of the equinoxes, which move westward along the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. It’s the measurement of the Ages and pays close attention to the Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions. Ancient peoples had a very clear understanding of this and back in the day, when astrology was held in high regard as the “measure of God’s will”, pre-Christian peoples and the early Christians followed the movement of the planets, especially those of Jupiter and Saturn (as they were the most visible) as the planets were understood by all to represent “God’s Clock”. Which God depended on the beliefs at the time, but cycles of precession were duly noted because of the importance of their influence upon the Earth.

Okay then, a cycle of precession lasts 25,800 years and there are twelve constellations of the Zodiac. Approximately, every 2,150 years, the Sun’s position at the time of the March (venal) Equinox (0 degrees Aries) moves in front of a new Zodiac constellation. The Age of Aquarius will begin when the March Equinox moves out of the constellation of Pisces and into the constellation of Aquarius. The main herald though is the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction which will take place in the constellation of Aquarius at the time of the Summer Solstice (southern hemisphere) in December 2020 when the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction takes place at 0 degrees Aquarius; a new starting point.

“So what difference does that make?” I can hear some of you asking. Okay, if you have any knowledge of astrology you will understand that each sign has its own characteristics. These will be present, to varying degrees, in the physical and psychological makeup of people born under those signs. Activity with the planets affect us all, but in what way will depend on an individual’s chart and in what house in their chart the specific celestial event happens. “As above, so below”.

But this also applies to our planet as a whole. The Age of Pisces has been predominantly about money, power and control. It has also been about religious control and for centuries, various religious groups and leaders have put their own slant on their teachings and actions to control kings, queens, whole countries and their populations. They played politics. They became very rich. They and their followers used “Fear of God” very effectively to get what they wanted, and “acting under God’s Will” to  justify the persecution of those of different creeds, of wars, genocide and the land grabs that would inevitably follow. It is still happening today and this pretty much sums up the gist of the Age of Pisces. Sure, there have been positives, like many  of the technological advances in medicine and industry that have improved the lives of many over the generations, but again, the potential to use these advances to generate money for a small handful of individuals, harness power for same and grant them a level of control which they should not have, is again, typical of the Age we have been living in.

Which is why we should be seriously looking forward to, and celebrating, the move into the Age of Aquarius. The hippies of the 1960s and early 70s had it more or less right, even if they were six decades premature. The Aquarian Age is predicted to be a golden age of peace and tranquility. One of love, brotherhood, freedom, integrity, harmony and equality. It is also predicted to be far more environmentally friendly on a world scale, but in a more balanced and progressive way, as opposed to some of the misinformation that has been foisted on us via wealthy mouthpieces fuelled by self interest. The Nanny State, political correctness and a swathe of political minority groups may also take a dive, as balance is re-established, and common sense becomes the New Black.

But the best thing about the move into the Aquarian Age? It will be the way of the World for next 2,150 years.

Meanwhile, we are still dealing with the death-throws of the Age of Pisces and it looks to be going out with a bang. Natural disasters, a global virus, financial crashes and a couple of nations deliberately stirring the pot, which could lead to a war, a biggie that will affect us all to varying degrees, depending on where it happens, and I’m predicting Asia because China is really pushing the envelope in a number of specific directions. Hence the next six months could be really tough for the entire planet.

Fingers crossed we make it to December.


Self sufficiency is the New Black

When I was a little kid, self sufficiency, in various degrees was pretty normal. Depending on the size of the backyard, people kept a few chooks for eggs (and occasionally for the table), had vegetable gardens, a few fruit trees scattered amongst the flower beds and a square of lawn for the kids to play on. But most homes in suburban Australia were on quarter-acre blocks then, so it wasn’t difficult to divide the yard into specific-use spaces.

It kind of fell by the wayside when local councils began meddling too much in what people did in their own backyards and while the veggie gardens and the fruit trees could more of less stay, chooks were out.

But the advent of swimming pools, decks, upgraded barbecue areas, outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, and trendy sculptured split-level outdoor living-spaces edged out the veggie garden over time. Supermarkets already had a foot in the door and produce started arriving in greater volumes from overseas and even the fruit trees vanished, except for those where the residents dug their heels in and kept at least one plum, apricot or mulberry tree. Either way, the kind of self sufficiency I grew up with was almost gone by the time I reached adulthood, which I always viewed as a loss. More people were opting to live in units too and balconies (if they had one) were for a table and a couple of chairs in the corner and perhaps a few pot plants of colourful flowers. Rarely a vegetable though.

Home renovation shows however, saw a resurgence in the humble vegetable garden, as it became de rigour to have one, and even the unit dwellers got in on the act with some of the flowers vanishing to make way for pot-grown tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and even the odd potted fruit tree. Green walls appeared in kitchens and before you could say “hey, lets take this further!” community gardens started sprouting up all over the suburbs. Councils, after a few mutterings, decided not to interfere too much with community gardens, even the ones that appeared on verges along community streets, so long as they were kept neat and a whole generation of new suburban gardeners thought they had come up with something that hadn’t been done before. Well okay, it hadn’t been done before along suburban footpaths, so I’ll give them that. But suddenly, food gardens were no longer viewed as the domain of grandparents, hippy communities and tree huggers in general. A lot of urban dwellers rediscovered the joys of growing their own.

And then came coronavirus, and with it came the panic shoppers all believing we were about to run out of food and toilet paper and after shopping their way through the shelves for non-perishables, they began hitting the fresh produce aisles. Then the nurseries for every vegetable seedling they could find. Extremely annoying, but the thing is, it has woken people up to the importance of being self sufficient. Really self sufficient, as in, being able to grow enough food to keep the family fed when a catastrophe hits.

Hence growing your own, along with “buying Australian” becoming the New Black. It appears that people have taken to the concept like ducks to water and this is not a bad thing. Anyone can grow a selection of their favourite fruits and/or vegetables. They can grow their own herbs. You don’t need a big backyard to do it in either, as they will grow just as well in a pot as they will in a garden and if you really want to go Next Level, you can opt for heirloom varieties. Suppliers of heirloom seeds and fruit trees can be found online and some nurseries even stock heirloom seedlings now. Check the credentials, but basically heirloom means the seeds, and fruit trees, are from varieties dating back over fifty years or so, before food plants were genetically manipulated to crop faster and mature more quickly to meet the growing demands of commercial markets. In a home garden situation, heirloom is a much better option anyway, as they have a longer cropping period, but just choosing them over later “re-designed”  stock helps to re-establish these lovely old strains that used to be staples in Australian backyards.

It’s not hard to do, it can be a fun family activity and a really practical one because you will be doing something that will go a long way to granting you a more secure future, food-wise. It might even save your life one day.

Maybe sooner than you think.




Oh brother. Not again!

Some networks never learn, do they?

One of the television networks here has revived that tired old chestnut, Big Brother, and I am finding myself asking why? I remember the first season and even watched a couple of the episodes, but got tired of it pretty quickly because I couldn’t really see the entertainment in watching a houseful of people lolling around doing not very much. Season Two was more of the same…and then it started to sink.

What I think continued to attract people to sign up for it though, was the sudden shot at instant fame, after a couple of the contestants from the first two seasons ended up falling into lucrative media careers or slots on the popular soap operas. In rushed the hopeful wannabes and it all went downhill from there. I think it was Season Three or Four were where the narcissists started to appear, along with the sleazy types, and before we could say, oh no, not another season of this tripe, it was wiped.

Viewers were tuning out, rating were seriously dropping and the networks that had aired it sensibly decided not to air it again. Good for them! And the insta-fame wannabes moved on to such drivel as Married at First Sight, The Bachelor and it’s trashy spin-offs, and anything else that go their names and faces out there. You’ve probably guessed by now that reality television is not a favourite of mine.

But anyway, one of the networks has decided to revive Big Brother once again, but seriously, I think they’re flogging a dead horse. After the sleaziest of seasons (I forget which one) where viewers actually complained about the overtly trashy sexual behaviour of some of the contestants, it was cleaned up. The next one though was so sanitised that even the most diehard fans of the show stopped watching because they were bored! So what does that tell you? There doesn’t appear to be a middle ground with this show; it’s either too explicitly trashy or it’s too bland, with no in between. People don’t want to see smut, but on the other hand they do?

And that’s the problem with Big Brother. Put a couple of dozen people of mixed sexes, who don’t know each other from a bar of soap, in a house with a large share bathroom, in dormitory style sleeping quarters where strangers will share  beds and then give them little else to do, they will soon find their own ways to amuse themselves, and more often than not they will do so at the expense of each other. There will be pettiness, there will be jealousy, there will be bitchiness and eventually there will be downright nastiness.

Okay. so that is sort of the name of the game. Break down all the normal social structures they are used to and air the fallout nationally and this is supposed to be entertaining? Some may still think so, but the number of viewers tuning out of the last couple of seasons should have been the red flag for the makers of this season and the network that opted to show it this time around. Perhaps shouldn’t have because I think it’s going to flop.

But guaranteed every one of those housemates signed themselves up with an agent, to manage their new online social media “careers” as soon as they heard they were Big Brother bound, because that’s what they all do now. Reality TV has become a launchpad for fame-hungry unknowns hoping to become a name and a face off the back of their (often embarrassing) “big break” in reality TV. It has absolutely nothing to do with talent and they won’t automatically become household names (well okay, maybe briefly) no matter how badly they behave in front of the cameras.  But they will try.

I won’t bother watching this latest effort to revive Big Brother, despite the promo promising something different this time around (it won’t be) because I’m not into utterly self-focused people behaving badly. I have a feeling not many others will be either. It had its fifteen minutes years ago.

It’s over.