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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  2. <feed xmlns="" xml:base="">
  4. <id></id>
  5. <title>Wintermute :: bits</title>
  6. <updated>2015-03-22T13:12:31+10:00</updated>
  7. <author>
  8.  <name>Peter M Howard</name>
  9.  <email>[email protected]</email>
  10. </author>
  11. <generator>home brewed by wintermute; powered by django</generator>
  12. <subtitle>Peter Howard is Wintermute, mythologist</subtitle>
  13. <icon>/favicon.ico</icon>
  14. <link rel="alternate" href="/bits/" />
  15. <link rel="self" href="/bits.atom" />
  17. <entry>
  18.    <id>,2015-03-22:361</id>
  19.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  20.    <title>They cannot go back</title>
  21.    <published>2015-03-22T13:04:48+10:00</published>
  22.    <updated>2015-03-22T13:04:48+10:00</updated>
  23.    <summary>
  24.    In which a dreamer wakes, a world emerging
  25.    </summary>
  26.    <content type="xhtml">
  27.        <div xmlns="">
  29. <p>Wrote this this morning. It comes, I think, from the opening of the second act of the new novel. Sam, Kate, and Luke are our protagonists; Kate has been in a coma for the whole of the first act, and when she wakes, things change.</p>
  30. <blockquote class="script">
  31. <p>Kate opens her eyes. Sam is there, talking to another woman she doesn&#8217;t know. She can&#8217;t make out the words, but something at the back of her mind tears at her. She wants to speak up, but can&#8217;t find the words. She wants to yell. Scream. Nothing.</p>
  32. <p>Nothing. Black—</p>
  33. <p>Kate wakes, opens her eyes. Sees— herself, looking back up at her. She&#8217;s floating above her body, looking around the room. Luke is there, dozing in the corner. Sam is outside the door, arguing with someone she can&#8217;t see. She tries to open her mouth. No sound comes out. She falls, crashes back into her body. Black—</p>
  34. <p>Kate wakes, but it&#8217;s dark. Is she in the hospital room, or in that other place? Her eyes adjust, take in the moonlight. The moon isn&#8217;t as bright as in the other place, she must be <em>here</em>. As her mind catches up with her body, feeling slowly returns. The bed under her is still. The room is empty. She can&#8217;t tell what time it is, but it&#8217;s quiet out.</p>
  35. <p>She remembers she had to tell Kate and Luke something. Warn them. She doesn&#8217;t know what it is, but she&#8217;s sure it&#8217;s urgent. She has to tell them now! She has to get! up!</p>
  36. <p>She pulls her legs up, has to use her arms for balance. Props herself up on a pillow. Pauses for breath, her arms shaking from the smallest exertion. Deep breath and spins herself off the bed, legs hanging over the edge, and falls into a crouch.</p>
  37. <p>Everything hurts, muscles tired, but she has to get out. Has to warn Kate and Luke. They can&#8217;t try again, it&#8217;s a trap.</p>
  38. <p>She pulls herself up standing, stumbles towards the door, and crashes into it. She&#8217;s suddenly aware of the sound, a high-pitched whine coming from somewhere behind her, echoed somewhere down the hall, and there&#8217;s a nurse on the other side of the door, pushing gently against her, trying to get in, bundling her back to the bed.</p>
  39. <p>&#8220;They can&#8217;t go back!&#8221; she&#8217;s crying, over and over, but the nurse isn&#8217;t listening, or doesn&#8217;t care. &#8220;It&#8217;s not safe there!&#8221;, as she falls back into a sleep, slips into the darkness.</p>
  40. </blockquote>
  42.        </div>
  43.    </content>
  44.    <category scheme="" term="writing" />
  47.    <category scheme="" term="Dreaming" />
  49.    <category scheme="" term="Immortals" />
  52. </entry>
  54. <entry>
  55.    <id>,2014-04-06:360</id>
  56.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  57.    <title>Captain America: The Winter Soldier</title>
  58.    <published>2014-04-06T15:01:12+10:00</published>
  59.    <updated>2014-04-06T15:01:12+10:00</updated>
  60.    <summary>
  61.    The best of the Marvel movies yet
  62.    </summary>
  63.    <content type="xhtml">
  64.        <div xmlns="">
  66. <p>We’ll know for sure when we see how it flows through to Agents of SHIELD, but it looks like CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is the first of the Marvel movies to really change the status quo in their shared universe.</p>
  67. <p>And that’s a big step up, and a big part of what makes this the best of any of the Marvel movies yet. The first round of movies focussed just on introducing their characters, and did so with flair but very simple storylines; AVENGERS went big, but for all the destruction wrought, like most comics stories there was little sense of its impact on the world. Now that we’re in the second round of movies, the creators seem more comfortable telling stronger stories, and referencing more of the world without having to explain all the details. And Agents of SHIELD has been slowly exploring the rest of the world beyond the superheroes, and expanding on the SHIELD mythos.</p>
  68. <p>But WINTER SOLDIER really upturned a lot of the simple mythos that had been established in the movies. Its twists are unsurprising to anyone familiar with the tangled back-and-forth of the comics world, but I was still surprised to see them writ large, and with such pointed satire. The movie’s full of comments on the world’s intelligence apparatus, on the rise of the surveillance state, and the removal of freedoms that brings.</p>
  69. <p>Plus it’s just a fun movie. It plays with the tropes of spy thrillers and of superhero action. It makes Cap a character actually worth caring about. And it elevates Black Widow to so much more than eye candy; Scarlett Johansson’s performance is a <em>tour de force</em>, her character finally rounding out beyond the hints of a mysterious past, becoming a spy-action-hero that stands up to the powered heroes and villains around her, and is often the smartest and always the wittiest in the room. And it introduces the Falcon, a hero who’s inherently pretty lame, and could just be a token black dude, but is filled out and full of heart. It’s a movie that’s about much more than just Cap, and in that is a peak example of what the Marvel world is capable of.</p>
  70. <p>WINTER SOLDIER is full of teases for more of what’s happening in the rest of that world, some explicit and others less so. There’s the necessary credits scene to introduce the next AVENGERS. But I really hope we get to see more of Black Widow, and the cute closeup on her purple high-top sneakers, clearly matching Hawkeye’s, has me (probably over-) optimistic we get to see Natasha and Clint team up soon.</p>
  72.        </div>
  73.    </content>
  74.    <category scheme="" term="movies" />
  76. </entry>
  78. <entry>
  79.    <id>,2014-02-24:359</id>
  80.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  81.    <title>Ten Years</title>
  82.    <published>2014-02-24T19:14:46+10:00</published>
  83.    <updated>2014-02-24T19:14:46+10:00</updated>
  84.    <summary>
  85.    Quietly reached ten years of this website, just ten days ago. My first couple of posts showed up on Valentine’s ... [...]
  86.    </summary>
  87.    <content type="xhtml">
  88.        <div xmlns="">
  90. <p>Quietly reached ten years of this website, just ten days ago. My first couple of posts showed up on Valentine’s Day 2004: <a href="/bits/2004-02/broken-hearts/">the first</a> a link to a <em>Morning News</em> piece; <a href="/bits/2004-02/free-spirit/">the second</a> a link to an illustrator’s personal blog. Both sites are still there, but neither link works, the archives disappeared or restructured, the pieces that drew my attention now lost to time.</p>
  91. <p>I no longer read either site, and nor has my little space on the internet followed the pattern set by those first two posts: before we re-badged self-publishing ‘blogging’, I was inspired by the community of writers sharing links and ideas. I wanted to be a part of that. But I’ve since discovered that it’s the reading and the writing I really love. I can’t maintain the discipline or the ritual of ‘link-blogging’, or the regularity required to develop any sort of following. But I’ve loved having my own little space to practice my writing, and to publish, even for no-one.</p>
  92. <p>Curious, I went looking at my archives — I know my writing has come and gone here.</p>
  93. <p><img alt="Ten years of posts and words" src="/media/bits/ten-years.png" width="100%" /></p>
  94. <p>The orange line graphs the number of posts each month of the last ten years; the purple graphs the number of words. There are nearly three years worth of ‘months’ in which I posted nothing at all.</p>
  95. <p>But still, a couple of interesting patterns. The big burst early on, having spent 2005 on exchange in France. The lonely burst in the first half of 2009 — predominantly my post <a href="/bits/2009-05/on-chatter/">On Chatter</a> — a long-form piece that’s dated but still topical, and which somewhat appropriately talks to the virtues of short-form, which was to subsequently take over a lot of my writing. Since around the same time I’ve written a lot on Twitter instead of here. But then late 2010 / early 2011, and I’m back in France — writing <a href="/bits/2012-02/unseen-city/">the novel</a>, and keeping a <a href="/bits/2011-01/">travel log</a> while the words insist on flowing.</p>
  96. <p>In the time since, this site has lain fallow again. A lot has changed, but then, the topics I’m interested in are still familiar, and when I take the time I enjoy the writing. So I’d say (not for the first time, nor the last!), expect to see more writing around here.</p>
  97. <p>(Aside: in only my <a href="/bits/2004-02/semantic-web-fetish/">fourth post</a>, I quoted from a comment against an interview with Paul Ford: “your fetish with the Semantic WEb is just an excuse not to organise your thoughts hierarchicly, as God intended”&#8230; This has in particular been front-of-mind again, as I delve into content strategy on a few different fronts, and discover again that nothing is ever really new!)</p>
  99.        </div>
  100.    </content>
  101.    <category scheme="" term="personal" />
  103. </entry>
  105. <entry>
  106.    <id>,2014-01-27:358</id>
  107.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  108.    <title>My Sydney Festival 2014</title>
  109.    <published>2014-01-27T21:18:03+10:00</published>
  110.    <updated>2014-01-27T21:18:03+10:00</updated>
  111.    <summary>
  112.    This Is My City In Summer
  113.    </summary>
  114.    <content type="xhtml">
  115.        <div xmlns="">
  117. <p>I always love that the Sydney Festival has such a wide variety of arts and events — means there’s always something new, and lets me discover some dance and music and theatre all at once. But this year it felt like the offering was even broader. It may have just been coincidence, but it feels like my deepest, richest, experience yet.</p>
  118. <h3>Parramatta Opening Party</h3>
  119. <p>I started off my Festival out in Parramatta. I always like heading out to the heart of the west (perhaps knowing I’m returning soon), and there’s a strong community feel to the opening party. Last year’s didn’t feel as strong, partly just let down by the rain. But this year the weather came out, and the scale was just a little smaller — for the better, as it meant all the action took place within a couple of blocks.</p>
  120. <p>I wandered down the river first to visit the Rubber Duck who’d hung out in Darling Harbour last year. He looked quite at home in the idyllic river-and-willows setting.</p>
  121. <p>Then in the centre of Parramatta, caught <strong>Ben Caplan &#38; The Casual Smokers</strong>. A raucous folk quartet — Ben Caplan is mad, and energetic, and with a gravelly throaty voice; he’s supported by Jaron Freeman-Fox on electric violin, who I’ve since discovered makes some great new music (with bits of world/fusion thrown in).</p>
  122. <p><strong>Boxwars</strong> was another impressively weird display for such an ‘official’ event. It featured a whole array of people dressed in cardboard armour and wielding cardboard weapons, or steering massive cardboard war machines. They marched down Church St to wild music and fire crackers, before setting up in the park for an all-out battle.</p>
  123. <p>But my opening night finished early; I had to get up early for&#8230;</p>
  124. <h3>The Calling</h3>
  125. <p>The main reason I’d gone out to Parramatta. The Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) ran a mini-bus tour at the crack of dawn, repeated across the first couple of weekends of the festival.</p>
  126. <p>The tour was an exploration of some of the expressions of faith in the local region. Intensely personal (and idiosyncratic, we were reminded repeatedly, as though to disclaim it), it wasn’t trying to explain or even compare the different faiths, but it was powerful in its closeness. Only twenty or so people went along on the bus tour, to four different stops, each selected by a different producer from the ICE team. At each site, we were spoken to by leaders of the relevant faith community, and while they can’t help but proselytise, it was primarily to hear about their particular practices and communities.</p>
  127. <p>First stop was the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque, where the imam also made a private call to prayer. Then a Lebanese breakfast, and on to St Mark&#8217;s (High) Anglican in Granville, with an <em>a cappela</em> gospel song by a Samoan-Australian tenor. Next to the Sydney Murugan Temple, and a Hindu devotional dance. And finally to a Tibetan Buddhist centre where we also meditated for ten minutes.</p>
  128. <p>The blend of architecture and art and various forms of music or dance, all with at least partly recognisable ritual, made for a deeply spiritual experience. The commonalities in ritual were remarkable, as of course the personal meaning that each speaker wanted to impart — overwhelmingly a sense of self-discovery and -improvement enabled by their faith or practice.</p>
  129. <p>At first I wondered at some comments: at times they seemed a bit too defensive; each had some particular misconception they were eager to disabuse us of. And they were seemingly minor things — the call to prayer isn’t sung, they insist; the Hindu divinities are just avatars of the one God. But I remembered some of the same qualifications we make of Catholic belief, like the insistence that we don’t actually worship Mary. There are all these practices and beliefs built up from centuries of tradition, with layers of nuance, and contemporary interpretations and understanding that give context to ancient (and in many cases, barbaric) pronouncements.</p>
  130. <p>So it got me thinking about my own rituals and beliefs too, of their context, and of the meaning they impart. But more than that, these shared rituals are about community, and about a shared journey. There’s a great power in this shared experience (my own preference for hermitude even dampened on learning that mainstream Islam is very <em>anti</em> withdrawal from the world, a reminder of the import of engaging with one’s society).</p>
  131. <h3>Am I</h3>
  132. <p>Closing out the first weekend of the Festival, I went to the Sydney Opera House for Shaun Parker Company’s <strong>Am I</strong>. Perhaps I’d been primed for its themes, but it was a remarkable dance work.</p>
  133. <p>The dance itself was fairly simplistic — all understated, a handful of dancers together at any one time. But when they did come together it was about unity and shared experience (again). The lead dancer narrated, or provided commentary at least, rarely actually dancing herself. The music was performed live, raised above the main stage such that we rarely even saw the performers. That, combined with a rear panel of LED lights, in constant animation, gave it a beautiful otherworldly feel, set against a starkly modernist design.</p>
  134. <p>The dance and music shifted between primal sounds and movement through to contemporary hip-hop inspired breaks and beats. And the show’s commentary sought to tell the experience of humanity, or the experience of the Self amidst humanity.</p>
  135. <p>I’m not sure I could say whether it succeeded in its objective, whatever it was trying to actually say. But in my own experience I found it powerfully moving.</p>
  136. <h3>About An Hour: Gudirr Gudirr, Forklift</h3>
  137. <p>For the middle weekend I made it to Carriageworks for two of their ‘About An Hour’ performances. And fell in love with the venue. I’d been out to Carriageworks for a few things before, but while I was there this time I really got a sense of the venue as a diverse contemporary arts centre. It’s helped along by a frankly insane installation called Chance — a massive set of reels and scaffolding invoking a newspaper printing production, with black-and-white headshots of new-borns, flanked by LED counters of worldwide births and deaths. A ridiculous work of art, but at a scale that it just has to be admired.</p>
  138. <p><strong>Gudirr Gudirr</strong> was a solo work from Dalisa Pigram, of the Carriageworks resident Marrugeku. Pigram is from an indigenous community in Broome, and in Gudirr Gudirr blended dance and projected images and spoken word to speak of the experience of her community. Some of it was confronting: a community disappearing, horrible suicide rates; some of it was uplifting in its humanity, or simply forced me to reconsider my conceptions. We tend to learn about indigenous history as a prelude to white invasion and settlement, with this crazy idea that Australia’s indigenous population was some amorphous mass, completely isolated from the rest of the world. But Pigram speaks of coming from a background that includes Malaysian and Filipino and the region’s Aboriginal nations. So eye-opening, and just a great form of personal storytelling.</p>
  139. <p><strong>Forklift</strong> was a dance piece from KAGE, and had a simple premise: three girls and a forklift. The women climb and writhe about while driving the forklift around the stage, to a variety of music and lighting, at one point changing into glowing neon costumes and performing in near darkness. It was crazy, hilariously sexy, with a driving beat and near constant danger, with acrobatics from a great height or just perilously close to too much moving metal. Not a lot of substance, but all combined it was gripping, too magically easy to get caught up in from start to finish.</p>
  140. <h3>Black Diggers</h3>
  141. <p>Closed the second weekend back at the Opera House. Black Diggers was a theatre piece about the experience of indigenous servicemen in World War I, and their return to the country after the war’s end. It consisted mostly of a series of vignettes — many characters we’d return to many times throughout the play, but it jumped around to different theatres of war and between different groups of soldiers.</p>
  142. <p>At first this was too confusing — the piece is performed entirely by an indigenous cast, so I was thrown on realising that some of them were playing white characters. But once I got past that lazy identification, it was straightforward enough to figure out who was who just from the play’s context.</p>
  143. <p>Although primarily about the indigenous experience, it was a really good piece about war more generally — about the experience of soldiers, of people caught up in fighting for their nation, without really knowing what it was they were fighting for. With that extra indigenous perspective, it became a powerful statement about land and country; I choked up at one moment when one soldier died, a younger boy realising that his spirit would wander, restless, unable to find his way home.</p>
  144. <p>The play really got difficult in its final part, with the soldiers returning from war. “The day I got off the boat they painted the colour back on me,” one veteran observed. During the war, they’d talked up the change they expected to return home to, the acceptance they’d receive. Their disappointment after the war was a punch to the gut. At one point, a veteran gave a speech talking about the progress his people had made, and it was extra hard knowing how little progress has been made in the hundred years since the war.</p>
  145. <h3>Othello: The Remix</h3>
  146. <p>Had my expectations pegged high for this one, perhaps too much. If there’s going to be one dud amidst a series of this size, this is the one. Sitting outside the theatre before it started, I could here The Roots and Common being played to warm up the room, and I took that as a good sign. But as the theatre filled up and we got closer to the start, the rap got whiter and poppier — Eminem, Beastie Boys. On hearing the latter I remembered how much I dislike their style.</p>
  147. <p>And then the cast came on stage and started rapping like the Beastie Boys. It didn’t get better.</p>
  148. <p>It was fun enough, and funny. At times the raps were really clever, weaving various pop and hip hop references with Shakespeare. But as it dragged on they got more and more awkward, just trying to squeeze together the story and the rhymes.</p>
  149. <p>But more than that, it made obvious just how creepy the actual story of Othello is. Sure, Iago as a manipulator is the Loki-esque bad guy, but Othello as someone who would actually kill for his dubious ‘honour’ is pretty messed up.</p>
  150. <h3>The Serpent’s Table</h3>
  151. <p>An incredible experience for my final weekend. Back at Carriageworks, this one featured a series of five short pieces, all around the themes of food and family, all told by Asian Australians, tinged with different mixes of immigrant experience.</p>
  152. <p>This was a beautifully intimate work of theatre. The big warehouse space of a Carriageworks bay was darkened and divided up into smaller spaces with big hanging veils, doubling as projection screens. In each small space, one performer spoke directly to the audience of twenty-something.</p>
  153. <p>Each had a unique experience and storytelling style, unified just thematically, and this added to the strength of the performance: always a new style, a different food. We started with Pauline Nguyen, preparing a soup, “of reconciliation”, while speaking of her refugee experience and her father’s violence. Then Anna Yen, supported by an acrobatic performance, discovering the dark history that came before her father’s yum cha restaurant. Both were incredibly emotional, the bitter smells and flavour of the soup lingering. To lighten things up, Jennifer Wong gave a very funny monologue about growing up in the suburbs, ashamed of her family’s food, while we munched on dumplings. Then Darren Yap, who also co-directed the piece, telling his story as a series of vignettes, diving in and out of his family history, his mother always there with her chicken and mushroom, until she was there no longer; to close he served us the chicken and mushroom he’d reinvented. And finally Indira Naidoo, speaking of growing up in different countries around the world, of taking flavours with her, of an ever-changing collection of scents and spices that come to signify home; we closed with a fragrant chicken curry, and sampled honey collected at the Wayside Chapel.</p>
  154. <p>It was, quite literally, the most sensual work of theatre I could imagine — sights and sounds and touch and taste and scents all combining over an hour and a half, a journey through lives and stories and flavours. Totally not the sort of theatre that could ordinarily be sustained, but so glad I was able to experience it as part of the Festival!</p>
  155. <h3>Sinkane</h3>
  156. <p>Closed the Festival with a trip to the Spiegeltent, visiting the ‘Festival Village’ in Hyde Park only on its final day. The Village itself was a bit of a let-down, and perhaps it being Australia Day, the Spiegeltent was pretty empty, but Sinkane were excellent.</p>
  157. <p>I had no real clue what I was getting myself into, and I couldn’t guess just looking at the band either — the lead on guitar, keys, and vocals, backed by another guitar and bass and a drummer. And they rocked out something fierce, but it wasn’t ordinary rock-n-roll. A curious blend of disco and alt-rock and trippy world/fusion and blues. They opened and closed especially strong — driving beats and guitar lines, but still so mellow, with songs content to just <em>bang</em>, for many minutes. The meandering in-between could’ve become tedious, but that mellow blues feel just rolled right through, with songs exploring different genres and sounds and singing styles, and always with a distinct <em>voice</em>.</p>
  158. <p>Have since found a couple of old Sinkane LPs, and am eagerly awaiting more music — apparently much of what we heard was them trying out new things, which is a good sign.</p>
  159. <p>And that’s what I love about the Festival — that even on a night that barely pulls a crowd I can still find something completely unexpectedly awesome.</p>
  161.        </div>
  162.    </content>
  163.    <category scheme="" term="personal" />
  165. </entry>
  167. <entry>
  168.    <id>,2014-01-25:356</id>
  169.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  170.    <title>2014 Gates Annual Letter: Myths About Foreign Aid</title>
  171.    <published>2014-01-25T09:03:44+10:00</published>
  172.    <updated>2014-01-25T09:03:44+10:00</updated>
  173.    <summary>
  174.    Brilliant essay from Bill &#38; Melinda Gates, on myths about poverty and foreign aid: 3 Myths That Block Progress For ... [...]
  175.    </summary>
  176.    <content type="xhtml">
  177.        <div xmlns="">
  179. <p>Brilliant essay from Bill &#38; Melinda Gates, on myths about poverty and foreign aid: <a href="">3 Myths That Block Progress For The Poor</a></p>
  180. <p>It’s inspirational even, just seeing what progress has and is being made. Lots of good stuff on the impact of aid. But for me the real clincher was <a href="">Melinda Gates on population and birth control</a> (direct link):</p>
  181. <blockquote>
  182. <p>Anxiety about the size of the world population has a dangerous tendency to override concern for the human beings who make up that population.</p>
  183. </blockquote>
  184. <iframe width="480" height="270" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  186. <blockquote>
  187. <p>Saving lives doesn’t lead to overpopulation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world. We will build a better future for everyone by giving people the freedom and the power to build a better future for themselves and their families.</p>
  188. </blockquote>
  190.        </div>
  191.    </content>
  192.    <category scheme="" term="links" />
  194. </entry>
  196. <entry>
  197.    <id>,2014-01-11:355</id>
  198.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  199.    <title>30 and Excited About</title>
  200.    <published>2014-01-11T13:50:10+10:00</published>
  201.    <updated>2014-01-11T13:50:10+10:00</updated>
  202.    <summary>
  203.    In which getting old is opportunity
  204.    </summary>
  205.    <content type="xhtml">
  206.        <div xmlns="">
  208. <p>Contrasting the down note of Wednesday’s <a href="/bits/2014-01/30-and-tired-of">#getoffmylawn post</a>, these are the things currently taking my interest:</p>
  209. <ul>
  210. <li>the internet as my music library</li>
  211. <li>binge-watching TV, old and new</li>
  212. <li>diversity and real characterisation</li>
  213. <li>Sydney Festival!</li>
  214. <li>whimsy in public art</li>
  215. <li>web startups based on more than just coding</li>
  216. <li>Sydney’s coffee scene simply exploding</li>
  217. <li>compact SLR and smartphone photography</li>
  218. <li>the next wave of fitness trackers and smart hardware</li>
  219. <li>major upcoming redevelopments locally</li>
  220. </ul>
  222.        </div>
  223.    </content>
  224.    <category scheme="" term="personal" />
  226. </entry>
  228. <entry>
  229.    <id>,2014-01-08:354</id>
  230.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  231.    <title>30 and Tired Of</title>
  232.    <published>2014-01-08T19:58:31+10:00</published>
  233.    <updated>2014-01-08T19:58:31+10:00</updated>
  234.    <summary>
  235.    In which I’m getting old
  236.    </summary>
  237.    <content type="xhtml">
  238.        <div xmlns="">
  240. <ul>
  241. <li>all the pop culture I love</li>
  242. <li>shitty representations of women</li>
  243. <li>tell-not-show storytelling</li>
  244. <li>faith not backed by reason</li>
  245. <li>work without meaning</li>
  246. <li>&#38; the rest of society’s myths</li>
  247. <li>the web we lost</li>
  248. <li>the magic of big data, of enterprise, or of the ‘user’</li>
  249. <li>scarcity-based business models</li>
  250. <li>post-scarcity business models</li>
  251. </ul>
  252. <p>#getoffmylawn</p>
  254.        </div>
  255.    </content>
  256.    <category scheme="" term="personal" />
  258. </entry>
  260. <entry>
  261.    <id>,2013-12-26:353</id>
  262.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  263.    <title>Four Cities</title>
  264.    <published>2013-12-26T21:48:33+10:00</published>
  265.    <updated>2013-12-26T21:48:33+10:00</updated>
  266.    <summary>
  267.    In which I photograph Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney Harbour
  268.    </summary>
  269.    <content type="xhtml">
  270.        <div xmlns="">
  272. <p><img src="/media/filmstrips/P9290038.jpg" alt="The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands" /></p>
  273. <p>Finally got around to processing holiday pics — a bunch of beautiful and interesting things, discovering a couple of new cities, and rediscovering a couple more:</p>
  274. <ul>
  275. <li><a href="/photos/album/45/">Singapore</a> — an amazing <a href="/bits/2013-10/jungle-city/">Jungle City</a>, all about the coexistence of the island jungle, the changing climate, and precarious engineering</li>
  276. <li><a href="/photos/album/46/">Shanghai</a> — fell in love with the city; it&#8217;s a beautiful mix of styles, and a remarkably <em>liveable</em> city, with great civic spirit</li>
  277. <li><a href="/photos/album/47/">Hong Kong</a> — amazed by how much the city has changed even in only a couple of years</li>
  278. <li><a href="/photos/album/48/">Sydney Harbour</a> — went out on the harbour a week after getting back and rediscovered its beauty</li>
  279. </ul>
  280. <p><img src="/media/filmstrips/P9290026.jpg" alt="Supertrees from across the water" /></p>
  281.        </div>
  282.    </content>
  283.    <category scheme="" term="photography" />
  285. </entry>
  287. <entry>
  288.    <id>,2013-10-04:352</id>
  289.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  290.    <title>Jungle City</title>
  291.    <published>2013-10-04T23:44:21+10:00</published>
  292.    <updated>2013-10-04T23:44:21+10:00</updated>
  293.    <summary>
  294.    In which the City reveals Herself to me, with a beautiful and terrifying vision
  295.    </summary>
  296.    <content type="xhtml">
  297.        <div xmlns="">
  299. <p>I don’t know if it’s the heat, or the light, or just something different or magical about the island, but my experience here has started to blur. The air in front of my eyes shimmers, as though a veil between reality and something else.</p>
  301. <p>As I’m sitting down now, I’m struggling to piece together exactly what happened. Safely back in my hotel it seems impossible. But I’m writing this down to capture it before it slips away.</p>
  303. <p>I started early this morning, heading up to Orchard Rd to check out the shopping strip. I saw a few nice things, but nothing special, and block after block of the same brands in every mall got depressing. It seemed soulless, and even a stop for drinks-with-a-view wasn’t enough to lift my spirits.</p>
  305. <p>Returning to the city centre at the end of Orchard Rd I was drawn to green. I detoured through the first park I came to. Istana Park is lovely, but only the size of a city block. So I cut south another couple of blocks and into Fort Canning Park.</p>
  307. <p>Parts of the park have been tamed. There’s a fenced reservoir at the peak, and clearly defined walkways all around the hill. Some of it is built, at the site of the old British fort. But there are layers of resettlement hinted at, even a recent archaeological dig finding abandoned buildings from centuries ago. And much of it is still green and wild. It was these parts that drew me in. Though the jungle meant more humidity, it offered a relief from the capitalist ordeal I’d just been through.</p>
  309. <p>I wandered off the marked walkway, slightly down the hill, following only a cool breeze and the beckoning green.</p>
  311. <p>I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. My head was fuzzy, my eyes playing tricks in the light. I wouldn’t normally have wandered far off track, but it felt somehow right, like a path was being opened up for me. I ducked under the trees, through the scrub, and came upon a small clearing. Vines covered the ground, but the trees above parted to let the light in. As I entered the clearing, the sound of the world outside dropped finally away. My breathing slowed in relief.</p>
  313. <p>And there, on the edge of the clearing, what I’d first taken for vines climbing up a tree, began to stir. There was a rustling of leaves, a whisper on the wind, and from the shadows I heard my name.</p>
  315. <p>She leaned forward, the branches tugging behind her.</p>
  317. <p>She was beautiful and terrifying. My heart paused, caught, as if in love or fear.</p>
  319. <p>Her features were unplaceable, shifting even. Her nose was small, her eyes slit narrowly — she leaned into the sun and I saw her cheeks and nose were smattered with freckles. Her mouth was thin — she opened it to speak and revealed full lips, her teeth prominent, and sharp, the canines unusually pointed. Her skin was the colour of the earth, the sun, the trees, the sky. Her hair appeared cropped short, but as she pulled on the vines behind her I saw they were woven into — no, growing from her hair.</p>
  321. <p>She wore nothing, but it was impossible to tell where she ended and the jungle began. She had enough form I could see she was a woman, but her breasts were like clustered leaves, her arms reaching back became the vines. From the waist down she was intertwined with the tree trunk she sat against. She looked uncomfortable — as though wanting to stand but restrained — pulling herself forward was slow and painful.</p>
  323. <p>I walked to her, crouched to the ground near her feet, suddenly dizzy. When she opened her mouth to speak I heard only the sounds of the jungle, and the wind, but again I heard my name. I looked up at her face, tried to read her lips.</p>
  325. <p>And suddenly, her voice was in my head. Well, not so much her voice as just her <em>being</em>. I felt exposed — it was a far too intimate form of communication. But as our conversation developed a rhythm it became comfortable.</p>
  327. <p>I can’t even try to recount some of what she told me — it was beyond the limits of communication mediated by language. But I learnt a lot — and for that, she learnt a lot about me, even that I was barely aware of myself.</p>
  329. <p>She was an avatar, of a sort — a manifestation of the spirit of the city, and the island. She’d existed, in one form or another, for as long as people had gathered on this island. Originally, they’d been nomadic, fishermen. Their settlements and their presence were both temporary. So she’d been likewise fleeting, a spirit barely taking form, disappearing like a jungle mist when they would leave.</p>
  331. <p>Over the centuries, different peoples had come and settled the island. Some would build, stay for a time. This hill became sacred, and her form developed. But new settlements never lasted, giving way to rot and decay, to the equatorial climate and movements in the earth. Again and again, people would settle. And again and again, the jungle would win.</p>
  333. <p>As she revealed to me her history, I saw it written on her body. Her shifting features, those of the peoples who’d made this their home. The jungle at her edges, threatening to take her completely. It seemed as if the jungle need only win a couple more cycles to own her completely, and this island would no longer be habitable.</p>
  335. <p>There was promise yet, for this island city spirit. There would always be growth and decay, but things were stabilising. The government are evidently taking seriously the idea that they must be a green city — they have to find a way to co-exist, in balance with the jungle.</p>
  337. <p>But the amount of energy it must take to maintain this city, to keep it cool and dry when the jungle wants to be warm and wet?!</p>
  339. <p>She would have none of my protest. Where I thought maybe the island <em>should</em> be abandoned, she considered it an example of the kind of living we all should be striving for. The sun and the ocean give energy to both the jungle and the city — more than enough to sustain our habitat. And the relatively consistent equatorial climate in some ways makes more sense than the extremes of latitude.</p>
  341. <p>Her fear, then, came not from the local city but from those she’d become networked to. Our increased connectivity was seemingly extending to her kind as well. Though restrained here, she could hear the voices and the cries of her kind around the world — voices, she told me, she’d always heard, but never before so clearly. She couldn’t yet communicate with the others, but knowing her sisters could hear her, and her them, was a profound shift.</p>
  343. <p>But on the cusp of this newfound kinship, we threaten to let the jungle — the wilds — win everywhere. Without some balance in the energy we take and pump back into our environment, our lifestyle isn’t sustainable. Our cities were a great leap forward — they let us gather together, distribute responsibilities, expand our cultural rituals — and this is all reflected in the spirits of our cities. But the Earth has its own ways of correcting for change, and the corrections of the wild show no concern for our cities.</p>
  345. <p>This and more She revealed to me — futures as beautiful and terrifying as Her Self. I look back now and can’t be certain I ever actually saw Her — the truth of that is too much to consider. But my head is now heavy with the knowledge of what we have to do to survive, and that’s not a truth I can deny.</p>
  346.        </div>
  347.    </content>
  348.    <category scheme="" term="writing" />
  351.    <category scheme="" term="The City" />
  354. </entry>
  356. <entry>
  357.    <id>,2013-07-15:351</id>
  358.    <link rel="alternate" href="" />
  359.    <title>Take Care, x3</title>
  360.    <published>2013-07-15T18:31:14+10:00</published>
  361.    <updated>2013-07-15T18:31:14+10:00</updated>
  362.    <summary>
  363.    All three, beautiful in their own way. I’d been looping either the Drake or the Florence versions repeatedly, then realised ... [...]
  364.    </summary>
  365.    <content type="xhtml">
  366.        <div xmlns="">
  368. <p>All three, beautiful in their own way. I’d been looping either the Drake or the Florence versions repeatedly, then realised I had the Gil Scott Heron as well, and had gotten hooked on it a couple of years ago. Love how each builds on those that came before.</p>
  370. <h3>Gil Scott Heron</h3>
  372. <iframe width="480" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  374. <h3>Drake ft Rihanna</h3>
  376. <iframe width="480" height="270" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  378. <h3>Florence + The Machine</h3>
  380. <iframe width="480" height="270" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  382.        </div>
  383.    </content>
  384.    <category scheme="" term="music" />
  386. </entry>
  388. </feed>
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