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Life

Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest was held this evening in Rotterdam. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the annual competition that launched ABBA into the stratosphere in the 1970s, and was the subject of the wonderful movie starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell last year.

While I wasn’t surprised at the outcome of the competition itself, I was surprised at the reaction to the outcome by a number of people I know.

Before getting around to that, it’s worth noting that in my mind the Eurovision Song Contest has some significant problems.

Because of the number of countries now involved, “Semi Finals” are held – meaning many of the more original bands are filtered out by juries of “professionals” that select the finalists. Unfortunately those juries tend to vote politically – meaning that neighbouring countries vote for each other.

Thankfully half of the vote in the finals is made up by a public vote – which often redresses the balance – but it’s too late for the bands that have already been removed from the competition by the afore mentioned biased juries.

There’s a damning phrase about committees (called juries in this case) – “designed by committee” often means the end result is a watered down mess that nobody actually wanted, but they are willing to live with if it means they don’t have to do anything more.

Getting back to the actual subject of this post, I headed to Facebook and Twitter after the competition finished, and started reading people’s reactions. I was stunned.

“The winner was terrible – nowhere near as good as (insert winner from 30 years ago)”

“Everyone in Europe hates us – what do you expect?”

“Most of the music was terrible – nothing I would ever listen to!”

“Did you see what half of them were wearing? I would be embarrassed!”

I could go on – for quite some time.

I suppose I’m just surprised (and not surprised at all) about the blinkered, insular view that seems to be so prevalent throughout a wide cross-section of people here.

So many people seem to think that their opinions are shared by the majority, because they are shared by the small circle of people that re-inforce their often bigoted, prejudiced, narrow minded, racist, sexist, or outdated opinions on music, fashion, style, culture, and everything in-between.

The social networks have a part to play in this of course – I’ve written about this before – about the algorithmic timeline surrounding people with concordant views. It’s dangerous. Unless we are challenged, we do not learn or grow. Plato wrote about it sixteen hundred years go in his “Allegory of the Cave”. It seems many people still haven’t learned.

How do I turn this around?

Perhaps with the admission that our entry into the competition was really, really awful – and that I loved many of the more spirited, individual acts that performed throughout this year’s show.

I just wish there were a few more people with open minds, and open hearts taking notice of the direction the world is headed, who might make a quiet stand against it with me.

Categories
Life

Loud Thoughts on a Quiet Weekend

It’s been very quiet indeed around here for the last few days. After a scare mid-week where my youngest daughter had to do a COVID test, we have stayed holed up in the house for almost the entire time. I walked to the supermarket last night to get groceries, but other than that we have gone nowhere and done nothing.

I’m beginning to understand what Stir Crazy really means.

Of course the huge distraction this week has been history unfolding in America – and I’ve been trying to do my usual fence sitting act – to read and watch a variety of news sources. It’s so hard – trying to have any empathy at all for those I know that think of themselves as republican. Their ideals and values pretty much go against everything I know – and yet I try not to say anything untoward.

While reading an interview yesterday expressing disbelief that so many people believe the stream of lies, falsehoods, and fraud coming from so many in positions of power, I couldn’t help thinking about all the religious people I know, and thinking how two faced everybody is. How is believing in election fraud any different than believing in a magical creator figure in the sky that gets credit for anything good, and is escaped from the argument for anything bad?

People believe what they want to believe, and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

The world is just tremendously broken. Perhaps we’re fortunate that it doesn’t go spectacularly wrong more often.

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Life

Through Caverns Measureless to Man

The internet came of age when I was an impressionable teen. An infinite rabbit hole, filled with ideas, knowledge, thoughts, idiocy, adventure, and everything in-between. Idealism and optimism convinced us that we might find our tribe somewhere deep in the labyrinth, and forge an escape from the world around us.

I still view the internet in rose tinted glasses.

The beginning of a blog post always seems like an opportunity – an empty page, with limitless possibilities. Words that might agree with somebody somewhere, and build an unlikely connection.

The serendipitous discovery of new writers while on expeditions deep in the catacombs of the internet conjures images of Victorian explorers lowering rowing boats from sailing ships to undiscovered countries.

Call me a fool. I will agree with you.

I choose to see a world full of possibility, friendship, and kindness. I choose to ignore the legions of trolls, soap-box politicians, keyboard warriors, and cancel culture mouthpieces that blight the internet I once knew.

The internet is bigger than any one of us. It will still be here when we are gone. We are assembling a treasure trove for future generations of thoughts, ideas, stories, music, and art. It would be a tremendous shame not to take advantage of it.

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Life

Friday

Yes, I’m still here. No, I haven’t shut the blog down (yet). If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that I’ll always return. Eventually. I’m wondering if this “every other day” (or less) plan is better, because I end up with things to write about, rather than just dumping the events of the day into the keyboard – and yes, I know many people thing the random miscellany is the best stuff, but I have this idiotic machine ticking away in my head, that thinks of things from time to time, and if I record the mundane, the crazy stuff doesn’t get it’s chance in the sun.

I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with “people” at the moment. Few people seem to have much perspective any more – it’s all about them, their concerns, their opinions, and their soapbox ranting. There is no grey area in a debate any more – you are either with the shouty people, or you are the enemy.

As an example, J K Rowling posted a fairly innocuous tweet last week about women losing their voice in the world. She termed them “people who menstruate”, and nobody seemed to get it – she got shouted down by a rapidly moving mob who invented their own message from her words and busily organised pitchforks and a bonfire. Her objection to the Spartacus situation many people find themselves in immediately played itself out – drowning out her voice just as she highlighted was happening to others.

Very few seem to want to see a bigger or wider picture, because it’s easier to tear people down, rubbish their views, and walk away. In this supposedly “woke” world where there are so many opportunities to educate ourselves, there seems to be a LOT of wilful ignorance going on.

Anyway – enough of that.

It’s been a quiet week. We have had builders in at home. Our house now has shiny new windows and doors – and we have no money. Well… we obviously have enough for food and bills, but that’s about it.

I’m still running. I’ll be out first thing tomorrow – probably on my own – running around town. I may well go for the full 5K distance – I’m fed up with repeatedly back-tracking the “Couch to 5K” plan to suit the children. My eldest can’t run this week because she has shin splints, and my youngest is suffering from “can’t get out of bed-itus”.

In other news, our ginger cat – the last of three brothers – has been unwell. He spent most of this week in hospital, and has returned home tonight. Fingers crossed he will be ok, but of course now we have the ridiculous job of making him take tablets several times a day. Have you ever tried to get a cat to swallow a tablet? Yeah… you kind of need chain-mail armour.