The Leaving Of Twitterpool

So here I am, then. Sneaking back in to do a blog post. With my tail between legs.

After that debacle in the US in November, I pretty much left Facebook and Twitter and stopped reading the news. The world is sinking into bubbling shit and knowing exactly the volume, depth and consistency of that shit makes me feel only depressed and hopeless. Also, the less I see of that fat orange mouthy fucker with the hair, the better.

But I realised a thing — blogging is now old-school. It’s practically vintage. The kids are all up in their Snapchats and their Instantgrams, but blogging is hard-core, with text measured in pounds and feet and not characters. Something requiring effort. Like a thing your old grandad would sit in an armchair and reminisce about.

Being (almost entirely) social media free is also great. You sleep better. You are less worried. You don’t know who just died. And when you meet friends in the pub, you actually have something to tell them that they haven’t already read in minutely commented detail. Just like it was in the past.

passionBut the social media itch remains. So you know what I did instead? I started, to my eternal shame, to use Linkedin as a social media site. I know. Yes, I know. I scroll through that sleazy little feed, nodding at people’s new jobs and titles and what motivational videos they recommend. And I feel so dirty. Plus, people even there are going on about fucking Trump. There is no escape.

Due to my shameful presence on Linkedin, and my having clocked six years at the same company, I’m a tiny bit keen to get myself a new job. So I’ve been looking at lots of job ads. And apart from being over-wordy and packed with awful English, there is a thing I’ve noticed. Passion.

When did having “passion” for a thing become required to get a job with said thing? Why is it no longer seen as okay to just turn up for the money? In the old days, were people looking for carpenters with a passion for chisels? Or plumbers who were team players? Or cooks who burned for, um, not burning things? I don’t think I’ve seen a game developer job ad where passion doesn’t appear in the first two sentences.

meeting

My good lady has the theory that the whole passion thing emerged from the middle class. Once people of all social classes had to go to work, it became nice to pretend that fancier people did it mostly because it excited them. The thing about paying the bills was secondary. Only riff-raff worked just for the money. But we work because it sets out hearts and minds on fire, and not because of the paycheck and free buns.

Maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe it’s just the way you advertise jobs these days (although I’m fairly sure that ads for more mundane or unskilled jobs aren’t all about the passion). I don’t have passion for my work. I enjoy it. I happily do it. But they’re getting my hours, and not my soul. Should I happen to have one.

And that’s it. End of post. Now, you may notice I’ve turned off the comments. That’s because I don’t want any. Comments have done enough damage in the world already and nobody ever came away from a comment exchange feeling any better.

So if you have something to add, send me a mail. Or a telegram. Or a nice big cake. Or just take me to the pub and berate/hug me in person.

/ paddy

The Price Of Awesome

I just watched a guy jump out of a tiny box at 40km altitude and plummet to Earth to break some kind of record or other. And it was awesome, as are all attempts at pushing human limits and bringing some sense of wonder into this grey and generally shitty world.

And meanwhile, on Facebook, whingers are whinging. In the comments to a status update made by Wil Wheaton, one lady said the following:

RandomIdiot: all of this money…could have been spent here on earth to help the homeless, feed children, house and cloth those in domestic violence……this makes absolutely NO sense to spend all of this money for something like this. ..to what end??????money! money for red bull. makes me sick.

These people piss me the fuck off. These “feed the children” whingers who always pop up when stuff happens they don’t understand or agree with. You know what’s good about this particular event? Maybe a few kids somewhere will see it and think: “wow, that’s awesome, but what did all those big words they used really mean?”

Then maybe these kids will get an education and do something awesome for mankind one day. And not just rabbit on about how we should all be feeding the hungry, while then not doing it themselves.

And even if that doesn’t happen, this is still AWESOME. Just like the LHC, the Mars Curiosity rover, or sending people to the moon. It expands out minds. It makes us proud. It shows us what we as a species can do when we really try.

There are a great many things that money is wasted on in this world. Stupid TV shows. Homeopathy. Religion. Shoes. Fucking magic crystals. Not to mention bailing out banks when they gamble with your money and lose it (which lately cost the US something in the very general region of 700 billion dollars).

Note: I think we should be feeding the hungry. But we can do this and other things too.

Now the person who wrote that comment talks a lot about magic crystals on her Facebook page. She also mentions “our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies”. So money going to Red Bull is bad, but money spent on magic that doesn’t work, and can actually harm people, is good? Lady, you’re a fucking joke. Now go away.

Give us our sense of wonder. Give us the moon and the stars and a world that fascinates and intrigues. Give us all those things that open our eyes and make us share something as humans. And shove your fucking crystals, your magic beans, and your tarot cards in whatever hole most appeals to you.

/ paddy

Orange Ladies And Beardy Boys

I came back to work last week and two things were immediately apparent.

First, all the orange ladies on the subway. This is a yearly phenomenon – the Swedes returning from their summer-houses, showing off their newly scorched skin. You notice it most on older ladies. Their skin is practically orange, wrinkled and leathery and disturbing. Some of them are so lined they look like fucking Yoda, but, you know, more orange.

While I understand that the Swedes grab whatever sun is going, I fail to see why they would want to damage their skin like this. They lounge around in the parks and beaches, in blazing sunshine and without sunblock, and then wonder why they get skin cancer. Deeply wrinkled, sun-blasted skin isn’t attractive, or healthy, and doesn’t even show status, as summer houses are seen almost as a human right over here.

So why do they do it? Beats me. But if you want to see one, now is the time.

Then there’s the beards. I’m now in the minority at work regarding facial hair. Most men in my office are bearded. It especially noticeable among men in the 25 to 32 age range. Two thirds of them now have beards. It’s like a bloody seventies folk concert.

This thing with huge beards on younger men has taken off to a ridiculous degree in Sweden. It was very noticeable when I went to Herräng dance camp for a week, and saw young men from lots of countries. They were all much less beardy than the young Swedes. It brought home again what a terribly conformist place Sweden can be.

Why is it like this? Because beards on young men is trendy, and Swedes go for trends in the same way that sharks go for icebergs made of spam. They claim to cherish their individuality, which they then express by striving to look exactly the same.

Not the same as each other, mind you. Just the same as whatever subculture they’ve decided they belong to. Be it punks, hipsters, slackers, whatever. You can be unique here as long as you are unique in a very clearly defined way.

Now I’m a big fan of facial hair, but this is all just a bit sad. If you like beards, then have one, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. Just stop shaving, and presto.

I give it a couple of years. Once the football players start shaving, young Swedish men will shed their facial hair. Beards, after all, can be removed. But I can’t say the same for the swarms of young women with colorful and messy tattoos sleeves on their arms and shoulders. They might have a tad more trouble getting over this particular trend. And let’s see how those things look when they’re pushing 60.

As for the idiots with the discs in their earlobes … well, let’s not even go there.

/ paddy

The Royal We

This week saw the Queen (of the United Kingdom and the blah blah) visit Ireland for the first time in living memory. Or my memory, at least. It all went splendidly. The old girl made a big effort to heal old wounds and even spouted a few words of Irish (known in the newspapers as ‘Gaelic’). She even sat through bloody Riverdance with a straight face. Nice one the Queen. We are not amused, but we are most certainly pleased.

This Segways me nicely (at a slow rolling pace) onto my actual topic, the use of “we” by people in relationships. You know what I mean. You ask a workmate “so what are you doing at the weekend?” And the answer will begin with “Well, we are…”

Hold it there, big boy. I didn’t ask what you plural are doing, I asked what YOU are doing. As in, you yourself. Why do I have to get an answer that includes a person I might not even know? It’s like you asked me what my plans were and I decide to inform you about the weekend plans of a nine-year old boy in Perth.

And tell me this. At what point in a relationship do a great many people stop seeing themselves as individuals? Does it creep up on them, or is it a conscious decision? Is it around the same time they get a shared email address? And start going to the gym in pairs? And start sending out Christmas cards with a photo of them both grinning like morons? Maybe somebody can explain.

I could also go into the practice of using photos of your offspring as your Facebook profile pic, and of informing the world on an hourly basis how much porridge little Glen threw on the floor this morning. I won’t though, because then you’ll all think I’m a baby-hater and a grumpy old bastard. Whereas I’m not. Babies are lovely. Asleep.

Now where’s those fuckin’ slippers and me best pipe.

/ paddy

Debt

I am a very unusual creature in that I have no debts at all. No study loan, no apartment loan, no car loan, no credit cards. And for this I need to be punished. Allow me to explain.

In Sweden if you have a mortgage you get tax relief on the interest payments. It’s around 30% if I’m not mistaken. This can be a reduction in the region of 1500 Euros per year for the average person. However if, like me, you rent your apartment then you get a tax relief of zero.

So, as a buyer, you own the place you live in PLUS you are subsidised by the taxpayer so that you can afford a better place than you otherwise could. You are effectively being rewarded for being in huge debt.

I heard that in the 80s in Sweden the relief rate was much higher than 30%. The banks then would happily give mortgages that exceeded the value of your property and properties with mortgages attached were sought after, as a way to reduce your tax.

I must admit that I don’t understand this at all. Surely I should be getting a bonus for paying my way and not borrowing huge chunks of money? It’s almost as if the state wants me to borrow money. Which, of course, they don’t. Mmm, yeah.

Does this system exists in other countries, that the tax payer subsidises borrowing? Come on readers, tell me, as I have no idea. It’s all too adult for me. The more I find out about the world, the less I get it all.

Oh well, at least I get to gloat when the interest rates go up as then I am richer compared to most other people. And when I pop my clogs I might actually have money to give the family members I leave behind, instead of the huge debt that most of my contemporaries will be leaving after them. Debt, and real ugly houses.

/ paddy (still in the black)

Japan Pearl Harbour Earthquake Fuckwits

It’s pretty hard to miss the news coming in from Japan. If a crushing earthquake wasn’t enough, the country was ploughed by tsunami and now faces nuclear fallout from its aging reactors. Thousands are dead, more are missing and millions are homeless. Watching the news for just five minutes is pretty heart-wrenching.

You would think the world would show its sympathy for Japan in the same way that most of us showed sympathy for the events of September 11 2001. Unfortunately this wasn’t entirely the case as shown by this image doing the rounds over the last day or two. I’ll link to the fucking thing, but I won’t give it any column inches. It’s basically a collection of retarded moronic red-neck comments made by idiot Americans on Facebook. Have a look, if you must, but hold your breath.

These brilliant samples of humanity are pointing out how the Japanese deserve this horrendous situation because of Pearl Harbour. They bombed us, yeah, de sure did, so fuck ’em. Well pass the shotgun ma there’s a squirrel on my knee and my dick is the sick of an acorn, ha-yuck.

These people. These fucking people. There’s not much to say really, is there? It’s just mind-melting that useless pieces of crap like this can live and breath and share the same planet as the rest of us. Even if their little comments were accurate, it would be a very nasty thing to say right now when the Japanese are suffering like this. However there is very little that can be considered true in their Pearl Harbour comment. Let’s just throw a few facts out there, shall we.

A good many people died at Pearly Harbour. Mostly soldiers though. Soldiers in a war. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki civilians were targeted (which I believe is called terrorism) and vastly more were killed. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the atomic attacks were not actually necessary to stop the war at all and were only done to show the world what the American atomic weapons could do, and also to crush Japan quickly so the USA wouldn’t have to share it with the Russians as they did with Germany. “Saving American lives” wasn’t really a consideration. It was about power and posturing, and as for dead civilians… fuck ’em.

Then of course Pearl Harbour wasn’t really part of the US at all, but annexed by them, which means basically stolen, in 1893. Do our fantastically thick Facebookers know this? No, of course they don’t. By all means, prove me wrong people, please do.

Finally, of course, being Americans, I would guess that the majority of these fine people would describe themselves as Christians. And not at all understand why that’s ironic. Because, as I’ve mentioned, they are as fucking thick as a shit slushy.

I’ve checked a few people on this image, and they do indeed have real Facebook accounts. This is possibly the most scary thing of all, that this is actually for real. If anybody wants to harass them and send them naughty words, you have my blessing. They deserve nothing less, the rancid malevolent little turds.

Ignore those morons, Japan. They don’t represent us. We promise.

/ paddy

No Goths No Glory

Last night I paid a visit (in fine company) to Vampire Lounge in Stockholm. The reason was to get our hands on some of their fine ice-cream cocktails. And to admire the trying-slightly-too-hard interior. As we sat there a thought occurred to us. “This would be a fine bar for goths,” we mused. Looking round we realised that there was not a single person there who wasn’t dead normal.

It occurred to me then that I hadn’t seen an actual goth for ages. So what the hell happened? Did they go extinct in the wild? Did they all move to Berlin? Or did they all, in protest at Andrew Eldritch not stopping while he was ahead, get jobs in banks and bury their long leather coats in shame?

Crusties, indie kids and synthers are still around. The goth’s furrier and cosier cousins the Gothic Lolitas still show up from time to time in their frilly umbrellas and teeny tiny little hats. But good old-fashioned goths just aren’t seen any more. It’s like they were ethnically cleansed, and removed from reality.

As sub-cultures go, I’ve always liked the goths. They look damn fine in their corsets and top hats, and definitely seem to represent the more cerebral side of rock. Also I knew a lot of goths in Dublin in the 90s and they were all very nice people. Unlike some of the rockers who’d nick your pint as soon as look at you.

So what happened to the goths? Is this a Swedish thing, or are they still seen in other cities? Has anybody seen one lately? Have they gone to a much cooler place that the rest of us just don’t know about?

In order to straighten this out I proclaim this goth-spotting week. Keep your eyes open people, and report all sightings to me. And if we can’t find any, perhaps a captive breeding program must be established. And for this I wholeheartedly offer my services.

/ paddy noir