Baby Steps

It’s taken a while.

I had to identify a new hosting company, then, since I was switching that, I switched registrar too. And with technical problems, taking a few weeks to go off to do a short-term job contract, and dreaming up a new life direction, I’ve had a busy couple of months.

Now though, at the end of May, I am here, and settling into my new blog, with new hosting, and new email. For the first time since god knows when, the dermottbanana.com domain has legit email! This may be the cause of more excitement in me than I think is justified. Ah well….

I’m not sure why the images in past posts aren’t working. They worked when I tested the whole import/export thing a couple of weeks ago. We’ll see how that all pans out.

Podcast Junkie

covervilleIt started with Brian Ibbott’s Coverville. Eccles had listened to it, and been telling me for a while I should check it out. Yeah, yeah, I will. One day. Then, it must have been around mid-2007, I got hooked. A two or three times weekly show where Brian from Denver plays the best and latest cover versions he’s found. And often, he’ll dedicate a show to an artist who might be having a birthday or something, and play covers of their songs, or them covering other people’s. I can remember taking a trip down the coast about Easter 2008, and listening the whole way to episodes featuring Johnny Cash, Elvis and New Order – none of whom I’d been a fan of before then. But I loved those episodes and still revisit them.

fidlerThen I moved onto other podcasts – archives of actual radio shows. The ABC was a great source for these, and over the years, the one that really stood out has always been Richard Fidler’s Conversations.

More recently, I’ve been neck-deep in Kevin Stroud’s History of the English Language, I was a late arrival to NPR’s Serial, and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Along the way, I’ve been hooked on Troy Goodfellow’s Three Moves Ahead and Tony Cox’s Binge Thinking History as well.

This is where the Proto-Indo-European language began, approx 6000BC. From it evolved most current European languages, as well as Sanskrit and some Indian and Central Asian languages
This is where the Proto-Indo-European language began, approx 6000BC. From it evolved most current European languages, as well as Sanskrit and some Indian and Central Asian languages

Across 75 episodes (so far!), Kevin Stroud has tracked the history of English, from its origins as the ‘Proto-Indo-European’ language, spoken on the steppes around what is now Ukraine/southern Russia about 3500BC. The migrations, both of the peoples and their languages, both westward into the German forests and down toward Greece and Anatolia. Picking up an alphabet from the Phoenicians. Trade and settlement around the Mediterranean. Passing it all onto the Romans (via the Etruscans). Then into Romance languages, Germanic invasions, and the later evolutions in Britain. It’s an epic story, and full of those sorts of epiphanies where you hit yourself and cry “why did I never realise that?” I’ve a habit of listening on the train, the Shitkansen, and when Stroud teaches me something new, I feel like telling someone. But the evolution of our language would probably fall flat with much of the Shitkansen’s usual clientele.

mongolsWhere I’ve ended up on this journey though is Dan Carlin.
Most podcasts are like TV shows in terms of length. Half an hour. Forty minutes. An hour maybe. Carlin’s history podcasts are hours. Even if they were movies, they’d be Peter Jackson-esque epics with hobbits and lots of CGI animation. His series on the Mongols is five episodes. All up, over eight hours! They don’t feel like it though. Even though I read history at university, I knew little about the Mongols. The story Carlin tells was riveting, and told me pretty much everything I could imagine wanting to know of their story. Actually, if Jackson ever did want to make an epic about them, I’d be a fan. I’m pretty sure noone but Jackson could do it though.
I’m working my way through Carlin’s six-part ‘Blueprint for Armageddon’ – the story of the Great War. It’s right up there as a kind of gold-standard of podcasts. Even though I know he sometimes puts storytelling ahead of academic integrity.

In closing, if anyone’s reading this and hasn’t heard it, go listen to Coverville’s episode from 2005, recorded soon after Paul Hester’s death. It was always a favourite.

Television…. The Drug of a Nation

hitlerjugend

*sigh*

I’d like to link that image above to a YouTube video. But I can’t find the HTML to do it.

Ah well.

While farting about, I began to wonder what ever happened to this drummer boy? He looks like he’s in his young teens, and it’s at the 1935 Nuremberg rally (part of Triumph of the Will). That’d mean he would have been eligible for military service for much of the war. Poor kid. He probably ended up buried in snow in Stalingrad, or burning in a Panzer in Libya.

A Shitkansen Too Far

After about ten days house-sitting, and cat-sitting, I’m home. This has become a bit of a tradition in the last few years – I look after Ec’s place so he can spend Christmas with his family interstate. It gives me much time to think. And, because of the solitude, usually gives me plenty of time to go bonkers. I didn’t this time though. I felt it at times, but it didn’t overtake me.

central-oscar1

Tonight though, I made the mistake of catching the Shitkansen back on a public holiday. I missed the 2015 Shitkansen by seconds – I walked around the corner to platform 9, the doors were closed, and I said to the guard “Can I get on?” just as it started to move, and he shook his head. Next train? 90 minutes wait. Result: home about half past midnight. Ergh! An all-stops, and an Oscar class – they are fucking horrible trains.

Misogynist Abuse in Real Time

Yesterday, The Newcastle Herald ran a story about a fight in a Belmont North petrol station.

A friend of a friend, Steve, re-posted this article to his Facebook feed along with a few comments about his low opinion of the alleged culprit, Callan.

Okay. Nothing unusual there.

What caught my attention was when Steve also posted a screenshot of Callan’s Facebook feed where he complained about not being able to find somewhere to live. Steve’s comment with the screenshot said “He blames his living arrangement”.

I replied to the comment with “This screenshot is from May. He assaulted someone in December. How do you make the link?” He didn’t respond, of course. When their oddly-constructed logic is challenged, they never do. It made me notice the thread though, and what happened next surprised me.

Another person in the discussion – Elizabeth – replied to Steve, critical of his assessment of what happened. I didn’t agree with Elizabeth’s assessment (that Callan was justified as it was self-defence) but that’s not really the point. What Steve did next though I thought was unacceptable.

He checked Elizabeth’s profile, determined who her employer was, and threatened her employment, based on her disagreeing with him. He then unloaded, across several comments, a scathing attack on her. These included comments that she deserved to be raped at gunpoint while her attackers’ friends stomped her head into cement.

I replied to one of his attacks on her pointing out that someone disagreeing with him was not justification for the hatred he unloaded. And then found myself blocked from his discussion, and when I reloaded it, all his comments to Elizabeth which I’d said were threatening were deleted. He then turned his vitriol on me, and within a few minutes, I received a message from Facebook informing me my account was suspended, pending investigation into anti-social behaviour.

I’ve no concerns on that front, and expect my account will be restored shortly.

Seeing how this bloke reacted to someone agreeing with him – abuse and graphic threats of violence – was an education. I’ve never seen it before, and like most of us I guess, have dismissed the treatment of some (Clementine Ford, Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn etc) as maybe hostility they’d bought on themselves.

This morning though, it’s morphed into something else – the question – do I tell Steve & my mutual friends what he’s like?

Hanging On? Or Letting Go?

It’s been an interesting few weeks.

The dominant issue has been with work: I was made redundant, and so even though I’m effectively being paid until around Christmas, I need to find a new gig.
Which brings to the surface whether to stay in Newcastle or not?

I want to stay here, there’s no doubt I am happier here, and I belong here. Getting a job would be easier though if I went to Sydney.

The other aspect is that the nature of the work I do means there’ll be very little hiring going on over the summer – small to medium businesses are the main employers, and they are in the wrong mindset to increase staff over Christmas and January. Most likely, things will improve in February/March. But should I stay here over the summer, with little prospect for any result? Especially when I can live cheaper elsewhere.

Do I want to relocate for the short term though? Finding a good place here in Newcastle took me a while – about 18 months. If I leave, I may have to go through something similar when I return. Do I want that?

It is, therefore, a bit of a balanced question, and one which I flip from one side to the other with painful regularity. We’ll see how it pans out.

History of English

I’m watching a debate between some of my friends online, about the correct spelling of words that vary between American and English. And watching something like that takes on a new perspective because of a podcast I’ve been listening to.

About a month back, I discovered Kevin Stroud’s History of the English Language Podcast.

Stroud is a lawyer in North Carolina. And when I first read where he was from, I thought “An American? Doing a history of the English language? This will be a travesty!” But no. His pronunciation of some words – wheel as will, Corinth Co-rINTH leap out as examples – is a bit questionable. But he pronounces Old English texts properly, and his academic treatment of the subject matter is wonderful. I’m about 15 episodes in, about up to where the Greeks adopt the alphabet (taken from the Phoenicians apparently) with at least another fifty-something episodes to catch up. But it’s wonderful so far.

This is where the Proto-Indo-European language began, approx 6000BC. From it evolved most current European languages, as well as Sanskrit and some Indian and Central Asian languages
This is where the Proto-Indo-European language began, approx 6000BC. From it evolved most current European languages, as well as Sanskrit and some Indian and Central Asian languages (Photo via Kevin Stroud’s podcast website)

PS. And in every case, bar one, American spelling is wrong. The exception is ‘aluminum’.