Online or the Bread Line

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I have a friend. His name his Mark. Mark does not have a Facebook account. Nor does he have a Twitter, a Google+ or even a LinkedIn Profile. Mark is currently unemployed. A tragedy in itself, this has been the case for the past year. Completely employable and incredibly talented with a Masters Degree in Art, I have often wondered about the root of Marks’ perpetual availability. He is not unmotivated. He is socially adept, exceedingly popular and graced with superior creative capabilities. By all accounts, my friend would be a coup for any potential employer.

So what’s the problem?

It lies, I have decided, in Marks’ stubborn attitude with regards to his online presence. This artistic mastermind infallibly and rather naively believes that claiming a space to call his own on the world wide we will serve only to his detriment in the long run. Despite opposition from myself and other social media campaigners in our circle that creating an online portfolio of his work could do wonders for his situation, Mark remains static on his point, countering our every argument with the insistence that “exposing” oneself online will inevitably come back to haunt in the future. While I do not disagree that there is a certain etiquette to how one should act and interact online, I am a firm believer in moving with the times and, in 2013, that means progress is partly comprised by the use of a savvy online presence.

We live in a modern society, heavily influenced, nay, ruled by the internet. We shop online. We pay our bills online. We book our travel online. We read the news, check the weather, we learn, we interact, all courtesy of the web. So illogical, it seems to me, to shy away from it as a means to develop ourselves professionally.

A recent study by CareerBuilder.com showed that 37% of employers will use social media sites to screen potential employees before hiring. To my friend Mark this is a legitimate reason to remain absent from a google search. To others, a golden opportunity to showcase who you are and what you can do.

An up-to-date and professional LinkedIn profile, in addition to acting as your “anytime” resumé, proves that you care; about what you do, about how you are perceived and about being taken seriously in your career. It provides you with the ability to advertise your skills in the most appropriate manner and to make those all important connections with other professionals with whom you may not otherwise come into contact with.

Likewise, I am a fan of Twitter as a platform for presenting oneself. Less formal than LinkedIn, Twitter allows users to convey what they are about without being overly invasive or in depth; ergo, a useful and time effective method for employers to get a grasp of who you are and why they should work with you.

The same study conducted by CareerBuilder.com also revealed that a third of employers have found content on social media that has subsequently caused them to dismiss potential
employees. The off putting content ranged from incriminating photographs depicting alcohol or drug use and provocative images to individuals displaying poor communication skills or extreme behaviour.

The moral? While it can be tempting to post those pictures of your fun night out on the tiles for your friends to see, it’s important to remember who else may be silently taking you in. Often, your online profile will be the first impression others get of you. Why not present your very best self? Be proud of your work, use social media as your exhibit. Network, interact and participate and, ultimately, your savvy presence could lead to significant opportunity.

 

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Youtube: Getting It Right

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I am on the train when I get the word. Miley Cyrus has released her new video. Naked and
swinging from a wrecking ball apparently. I am immediately overcome by an inclination to whip out my trusty smart phone and watch it. As much as I could give or take the increasingly scandalous offerings of Billy Ray’s younger daughter, this is current. Miley Cyrus is trending off the wall lately and I want to be involved in the conversation.

Yet I refrain. The opinion of a cellphone sales rep a few months prior resonates through my brain.
“It should be good for day to day use,” he had told me when I enquired about my data
requirements. “It’s sites like Youtube that are the killer.”
And so I reluctantly curb by pop culture appetite and resolve to scrutinize the video when I get home and back to the land of the WiFi. I just can’t spare the data for Youtube sessions on the train.

Sound familiar? Probably. Whether you’re standing in line at the movies, waiting on a bus or just hanging around while your other half tries to pick out a pair of shoes, Youtube is your own personal and seemingly endless library of entertaining and/or informative video content, just waiting to help you pass the time. Alas unless you’ve got your modem in your bag, it’s going to have to be 3G or bust.

That is, my friends, until now.

On September 17th, Youtube announced, via it’s Creator Blog, that it’s introducing a new feature for it’s mobile app.

Starting in November users will be able to store videos from the site on to their devices for later viewing when there is no internet connectivity. That means you can pick your videos while you have an internet connection and have at them at your leisure long after your connection is gone.Pretty nifty eh?

Here’s a quote from the brief and relatively vague blog post:
“This upcoming feature will allow people to add videos to their device to watch for a short period when an Internet connection is unavailable. So your fans’ ability to enjoy your videos no longer has to be interrupted by something as commonplace as a morning commute.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “Why is this relevant? Didn’t Youtube announce this last year?” Well, close but not quite. In June 2012 the site came out with the ability to precache videos for later viewing. The gist being that while, yes, your videos would be preloaded from your device, you still had to be online to actually watch them.

What makes the latest announcement so relevant, in addition to being incredibly innovative and just downright handy, is that it is a huge step for Youtube whose terms of service currently prohibit downloading of content. Not since its inception in 2005 has the company allowed users to do so, thus rendering this a pioneering move for the media giant.

Proving that being the dominant force in online video sharing is no excuse to rest on one’s
laurels, the update is the next step in a succession of recent developments by Google-owned
Youtube for it‘s mobile app in an effective attempt to keep up with the smart phone society we live in. In addition to last year’s preached video feature, in August of this year, the site unveiled a sleek new navigation tool that allows users to watch a minimized video while continuing to browse the site, enabling an easier flow of content and increased usage.

Unfortunately though, the most recent update of the app comes with a catch. You didn’t think Youtube would let us download all the content we want just like that did you? According to reputable tecch blog, AllThingsD.com, via an email sent from Youtube, content downloaded to the “on device” section of the app will only be available to watch offline for a period of 48 hours, after which time, users must reconnect to the internet in order to refresh the selection.

There is no indication yet as to whether the site has secured rights to allow music videos to be downloaded, however temporary, but it’s definitely not something I would assume to be the case. Youtube has promised more details in the run up to the update next month.

Still though. Overall, it sounds pretty generous to me. And with mobile viewing comprising over 25% of Youtube’s global watch time, there is little wonder why the company is taking every step to remain relevant and socially up-to-date in this fast-paced electronic generation. It’s exciting and simply begs the question, “what next?”.

5 Incredible Moments From The Breaking Bad Finale

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How did Vince Gilligan and his team of geniuses do it? How is it that the Breaking Bad finale was so dramatic and so muted at the same time? Dramatic because, well shit, look what happened. Muted because, now that we think about it, we expected it all along. It’s over. It couldn’t be more definitive.

So I won’t go into it. I don’t need to. Suffice to say:

Here’s 5 of my personal best moments from the Breaking Bad finale.

5. Schwartz’s House

How ominous was Walt in the first moments in Gretchen and Elliott’s house?! Meandering calmly around while they unsuspectingly chit-chatted in the kitchen. When he closed the door, I presumed that Gretchen and Elliott would certainly never see Charlie Rose again. It’s a testament to how far Breaking Bad has taken Walter that he doesn’t ever have to say or do anything anymore to instil fear. Just his presence and his silence is enough to make us, and whoever he happens to be looming over, quiver in our boots.

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Dare I say that the best part of this scene was not the surprise of Walt’s reason for being there, but Badger and Skinny Pete putting in a final appearance as his “assassins”. It was a) a welcome sprinkling of comedy, b) nice to say goodbye to them too, and c) a good way for Walt to make sure his family gets the money whilst not letting the Schwartz’s off the hook for belittling his role in Grey Matter Technologies.

4. “Five minutes”

Wait… What? Five minutes? Who is she talking to? OH CHRIST, WALT’S ALREADY THERE!

I was glad to see Walt return to see Skyler. Like him, I was troubled by his last phone call with her. I didn’t want them to end like that. Skyler, now a chain-smoker, seemed very hardened. Or perhaps just accepting, defeated, out of fight. She wasn’t afraid of Walt. She knew he wasn’t staying. After breaking down upon the realisation that he was giving her closure on Hank, she let him say goodbye to Holly. And suddenly she looked soft again, like she was looking at her husband, Walter White and not at Heisenberg, the callous drug lord saying goodbye one final time. The look on her face spoke ten gazillion words. Among them, “I hate you”, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “I understand”, and “goodbye”.

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3. Did he just poison her?

Walt’s deceit of Lydia and Todd in the quaint little café was obvious. At least it was obvious to everyone but Todd and Lydia who hilariously assumed they’d outwitted him. We, on the other hand, assumed that was just manipulating his way into the Nazi stronghold to unleash hell. And, while we weren’t wrong, the moment Lydia poured her beloved Stevia into the tea and we realised that she’d just become one of Heisenberg’s final victims, was all kinds of brilliant.

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2. The Big Finale

We saw Walt assembling his contraption in the desert a few scenes previously. He hummed peacefully to himself as the M60 instruction manual flapped in the wind and he used the car key to activate the oscillating thingy. We had a fair idea of who the effort was being made for. We just didn’t fully understand his method.

I can just barely comprehend the feeling of triumph that swelled over me when Walt hit the button and the rounds started tearing through the nazi club house. It was spectacular and felt like it went on forever. It continued long after everyone was down. Walt was clearly taking no chances. It would have been foolish, even for Heisenberg, to think that he could have taken on Jack and his merry band of white supremacists without the aid of a remote activated, oscillating M60 machine gun.

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Most beautiful? He saved Jesse.

According to Vince Gilligan in an ‘Inside the Episode’ clip, “right up to the cusp of that moment, he was going to kill Jesse.” Walt was genuinely pretty irked when he realised that Jesse was still alive and making the blue meth. He went to the Nazi compound intending to kill everybody. Then they brought Jesse in, shackled, small and broken, too dead to even react to Walt’s presence. And we saw Walt see Jesse; his partner, his student, his friend, the one who bought him that watch that he left on the payphone outside the diner, now a shadow of himself, someone’s property. There was no redemption in killing Jesse. Even though part of me thought that, like a sick dog, it would have been kinder to just put him out of his misery, it was emotionally unburdening to see Walt do good and set him free.

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1. Walt’s Death

It was always going to happen really, wasn’t it?

After R.J Mitte (Walt Jr./Flynn) said in an interview that the ending was “inevitable”, I thought that maybe the cancer would get Walt after all. Even going into ‘Felina’, as he coughed in the car, I wondered if he would just collapse at any moment.

But Walter White stayed with us to the very end. It would have been uncouth for him to die of cancer. He’s Heisenberg and he calls the shots. And so it was with his death. Struck in the gut by a bullet of his own orchestration whilst saving his partner, they exchanged that look that there are actually no words to describe but we all still implicitly understood, Jesse took his freedom and Walter went to die, on his own terms, in the one place where he had always been at peace; in the lab.

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And he really did look at peace didn’t he? Looking at the meth equipment as the police rushed to the scene, he looked serene and nostalgic. He seemed proud. He seemed contentedly resigned to this ending. His time had come and his ducks were in a row. His family would get the money. His meth empire was no more at the hands of Lydia and the Nazis. And Jesse Pinkman had taken his own life back (“Then do it yourself.”). There were no more ends to tie. There was no other way to say goodbye to Walter. He was ready to die and we were ready to watch.

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It was so gruesome and so beautiful. It was so sad but such a relief. It left us feeling empty and liberated at the same time. And it was, as Vince Gilligan had promised us all along, conclusive.

Somehow ‘Felina’ managed to be both everything and nothing I expected it to be. As sad as it is to say goodbye to the best thing to happen to television thus far in my lifetime, the ending was horrendously satisfying. I feel released. It’s over and I have no more questions.

Except whether or not Saul is managing that Cinnabon in Omaha.

A couple of other good moments:

Jesse’s wood-working dream

It was in Season 3 when Jesse told the story at his NA meeting about how he made the wooden box in high school.
“I built it out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood . It was fitted with pegas, no screws. I sanded it for days, until it was as smooth as glass. Then I rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark. It even smelled good. It was perfect.”

The group leader had told him that it wasn’t too late, that he could take adult woodworking classes at the university. Jesse then admitted that he hadn’t given the box to his mom like he told them but had traded it for an ounce of weed. That scene showed us what Jesse could have been, or might have been, if he could have, or would have made better choices. And this scene in ‘Felina’ did the same. It reminded us that Jesse could have been a different person. He cared once. He had passion for something. Alas, we were jolted from the hazy woodworking fantasy back to the reality of Jesse’s lessons unlearned, to his prison meth lab, where his decisions had put him.

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I just thought it was a poignant scene; pretty and affecting.
Marie still caring about Skyler

Poor Marie.

Remember in season one when she was just Skyler’s crazy, kleptomaniac, compulsive liar sister? Yeah, just barely, right?

Marie has been there for Skyler through everything. She was there for Walt’s cancer. She stood by her through the gambling lie. She was even somewhat sympathetic for her sister when the truth came out, offering her a bone at the carwash when she thought Hank was booking Walt.

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And now we saw her again, reaching out to Skyler, warning her that Walt was back in town and pleading with her to “be on the lookout, okay?”. As far as Marie was concerned, Walt killed Hank. Skyler knew what Walt was and what he was capable of. Marie could have been forgiven for never speaking to her sister again. She could have been forgiven for wanting her sister to burn for her part in all the devastation. But she didn’t. She was the one doing all the forgiving. She still cared. She was still kind and soft, looking out for her family.

Poor Marie.

 

Sorry Skyler…

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About two years ago, all excited and enthusiastic about the discovery of this amazing TV show, I wanted to write a piece about Skyler White from Breaking Bad. Played by Anna Gunn (Emmy Award-winning Anna Gunn, that is), Skyler has always been a source of fascination for me. In those first couple of seasons, back when we were still naïve, before we knew what lay ahead, before everything went so mind-bendingly wrong, Skyler was just Walt’s irritating, meddlesome wife. She was the character we all loved to hate. We were, after all, very much team Walt. We found ourselves gullibly corrupted by his intent. We rooted for him. His reasons were good, after all. He was just a poor cancer-stricken chemistry teacher, awaiting his impending death and desperate to leave something behind for his family. And so we got behind him, okayed ourselves with his actions. He had to kill Krazy 8 that time. It was eat or be eaten, right?

Meanwhile, Skyler was there, consistently sticking her oar in and generally irritating the crap out of everyone. She was so full of questions, comments and accusations. “What’s going on?”, “Where have you been?”, “Who’s this Jesse Pinkman?”. She was so confrontational and we didn’t have the patience for it. We were trying to run a successful meth business. All for her benefit. And she wouldn’t ever just leave her long-suffering and loving husband alone.

How blind we were. They say hindsight is 20/20 and now, in the aftermath of Breaking Bad’s penultimate episode, hindsight is drenched with remorse. While Walt hides away in his New Hampshire shack, receiving his back-alley chemotherapy from “Max Cherry, Cherry Bail Bonds“, Skyler is left to face the music for his sins. How can we loathe her now? Look what Walt has done to her. How cowardly of him to run away. How selfish. How demonstrative of the monster he has become.

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We feel foolish now for not predicting all this. It was never going to work out. We were never going to get a fairytale ending with Breaking Bad. We should have known that Krazy 8’s death was the start of the mudslide that would swoop us up and carry us from blithe support of our beloved Heisenberg to utter horror at this callous and frightening drug lord.

Skyler was always the moral centre of Breaking Bad. In seasons one and two, when we hated her the most, it’s now blindingly obvious that she might as well have been wearing a halo. She was a middle-aged, pregnant woman whose husband was stricken with lung cancer and secretly cooking methamphetamine. She was just as worried for her family as Walt. He shut her out, he grew distant, he wasn’t even there when Holly was born. And still, for five seasons, we’ve watched her stand by her husband in the most graceful manner. We’ve watched her consistently, in her own famous words, “protect this family from the man who protects this family.” We’ve watched her instill logic into some of the show’s most ominous situations. And most of all, we’ve seen her desperately ache to be free from it all. “I can’t remember the last time I was happy,” she told Walt in ‘Buried’. And she meant it. Skyler never asked for any of this. She was never okay with it. She was just too loyal to walk away.

I never wrote anything about Skyler two years ago. Anything I would have composed would have been nothing more than a scathing release of annoyance on my part anyway. I would have regretted it. I didn’t know what was to come.

The promo just released for ‘Felina’ opens with a flash-back to Walt in his classroom, telling his students that “chemistry is the study of transformation.” That man seems now to be just a vague memory. Walter’s transformation from lame teacher to terrifying criminal is almost unfathomable. It’s difficult, even, to try and pinpoint where we lost him. When did we start to lose faith in his “reasons”? We were behind him after Jane’s death. We were behind him still after Gale Boetticher’s death. We were behind him after he bombed the nursing home. We even found some crazy logic in his poisoning of Brock with the Lily of the Valley.

It has only been recently that we have truly started to see the light about Walt’s character. We didn’t like it when he killed Mike. We didn’t like it when he told Hank to “tread lightly”. Or when he made the incriminating tape for Hank and Marie.

The final nails in the coffin of Walt’s supposed decent character have hit hard and heavy in the last number of episodes, most notably his giving the go-ahead for Jack to murder Jesse. It was then we realized irrevocably that our old friend Walter, who just wanted ensure his family’s security after his death, had actually died long ago and in his place now stood a cold, calculating and merciless criminal, who could so calmly and ruthlessly surrender his “family”, his partner and the only true friend he ever had to his certain death. Despite his attempt to beg Jack for Hank’s life at the desert stand-off, we were finished rooting for Walt. He had taken us for a ride and now, like Jesse and Skyler and everybody else that’s ever stood in his path, we had run out of empathy for his cause.

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Sunday night’s penultimate episode, ‘Granite Slate’, was almost an hour long and, following the stress of last week’s episode, felt somewhat anticlimactic. That’s with the exception of the harrowing scenes involving poor Jesse. Not that that a lull in the action is a bad thing. We needed this break from the distress and the stomach-churning moments to compose ourselves and prepare for the carnage that is sure to come in next week’s finale.

The theories on how it’s all going to go down on Sunday night are abundant, wide-ranging and all purely speculative. No one really knows what’s going to happen. It all seems to come back to the opening scene of ‘Blood Money’ when, in a flash-forward, we saw Walt arriving at his house in Albuquerque, now dilapidated, fenced-off and vandalised. He opened the trunk of his car, revealing a very serious looking gun. He then broke into the house, went into the bedroom and retrieved a vial of ricin from behind a socket. And so, we deduce two things: 1) that he abandoned his ‘Dr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’ DVDs and, 2) Heisenberg’s got a plan.

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So who is the ricin for? Who will face the barrel of that gun? The very fact that Walt has returned to Albuquerque at all implies that he is ready to end things. Ed, Saul’s extractor guy, told him in no uncertain terms, “if you leave this place, you WILL get caught.” Walt is the subject of a police manhunt. There is no slipping in and out. If he’s back, he’s back with intentions. Beyond that, we can only theorize.

I’d love to see Walt save Jesse. Who wouldn’t? Walt said himself that he considers Jesse “family” (said while he was arranging Jack’s hit on him) and we’ve always rooted for their relationship. Alas, I’m not optimistic for that outcome. In fact, I’m not optimistic for Jesse at all anymore. Regardless of the fact that I don’t believe he will ever forgive Walt, I don’t believe that he will ever recover himself. Jesse is a broken man, a shadow of the comical kid with the “Yo! Yo! Yo!” answering machine. He has always struggled with the morality of his crimes and now, with the revelation of Walt’s presence when Jane died and the cold-blooded shooting of Andrea by Todd, it’s not illogical to assume that the Jesse we once knew is gone forever.

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My personal hypothesis is still in progress. I can’t make a call on Jesse’s fate. But I’ve decided that, while we know that Walt must have his last stand, so too must Skyler. She has been supportive, rational, careful, soft and strong. She has kept Walt afloat in many ways with her sound mind and intelligence. But that makes her his accomplice, and, despite Walt’s spineless and cruel phone call where he attempted to exonerate her in the eyes of the police, Skyler’s going to have to face consequences. I’m thinking something along the lines of her and Walt coming together and deciding that, ultimately, the best thing for their family now, is to be without them, ensued by a possible suicide pact and Marie getting what she’s desperately craved from the start – the children.

About the season finale, show creator, Vince Gilligan, had this to say, “Rightly or wrongly there will be a conclusive ending. Our story from the beginning has been designed to be close-ended. It’s very much designed to have a beginning, a middle, an end and then to exist no more.”
Gilligan has previously spoken about his belief in justice and the prevalence of good over evil. Whatever that means for Walter, for Skyler, for Jesse, for Walt Jr. and Holly and for poor, innocent and widowed Marie, we’ll know soon enough.

It’s time for a battle-weary Walter White to put on his pyjamas and climb into the bed he has been making for himself for the past five years.

Are you ready?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drugs and Politics: Is Honesty Really The Best Policy?

In May of this year, it came to light that a video was being shopped around the media purporting to show Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, smoking crack cocaine. Filmed by his “dealer” and consequentially exposed by Gawker.com, the video allegedly shows mayor Ford smoking from a large glass pipe while laughing and mocking his political peers. The nation reeled in shock at the allegation and Ford, predictably enough, strenuously denied the incident ever took place.

Since “crack-gate” 2013, a number of other high profile political figures have come forward with admissions of forays into substance use, not least, Liberal MP, Justin Trudeau who confessed to using marijuana on a number of occasions, including once while he was an acting MP.

Trudeau’s full-disclosure attitude on the issue has divided opinion among the public with some commending his honesty while others call into question the level of trust the admission has truly garnered.

Is Justin Trudeau really a political pioneer, paving a path of candour in a profession widely known for selective discretion, and setting us up for a more candid government? Or is this merely an example of a political figure covering his metaphorical behind in the wake of the very public embarrassment of his Toronto based peer? Would the admission have been made had Ford not been exposed? Alas, it is a rhetorical question and not one we should ever expect to have answered, but it is thought provoking nonetheless.

There’s no arguing that here in Canada, the people and government set a fine example for the case of liberalization and modernity in an age too frequently suppressed by primitive standards, but the admission of illegal substance use, however socially acceptable it may be considered, particularly by those in whom we place utmost trust with the most important
aspects of our lives, is a blow to the ethical integrity of the government as a whole.

The bottom line of the debate is that, opponent or advocate, marijuana for recreational use is illegal. Justin Trudeau has, therefore, admitted to committing a crime and while such an activity might be considered relatively insignificant for John or Jane Doe, it is not unreasonable to expect more from those we put in office.

Also, there lies an almost amusing irony in the admission of unethical behaviour being commended as one of the most ethical moves by a political figure in recent years.

Irony, Thy Name Is… Me?

I am your archetypal daydreamer. I mostly wander around with my head in the clouds carelessly minding my own bidness until something provokes enough thought that I feel like I have to come down for a minute to say something about it. Well recently I read an article that roused me from my mental hibernation. It was called ‘The Voice of The People’. It was in Sundays’ ‘Life’ magazine with the Independent and was written by a guy called Declan Lynch.

The subheading read: “There’s a reason why everyone doesn’t have a voice and a reason why bloggers are just bloggers.”

Now, usually I’m not one to get all antsy over something between the two covers of a magazine that comes free with the Sunday paper but this particular scribe implicated me. He implicated and he criticized me and any other person out there who has the audacity to flaunt freedom of expression in the form of… A blog!

The article wasn’t directly about blogging really. It was about how we have become a nation of uncertain nitwits who call for a referendum at the first hint of a political decision needing to be made. That’s all fair enough but Declan pointed the finger. A bold enough move when you’re pointing it at the majority.

Basically, Mr. Lynch griped sarcastically for a few hundred words about how blogging has become so popular in recent years and how it’s killing “real journalism”. He reckons that because anyone can write a blog, the integrity of the journalistic vocation is, essentially, being shit on by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a laptop and a basic ability to type/form an opinion.

The first conclusion to spring to my mind upon reading the piece was that there was no way in hell that the writer was below the age of 40. You know that TV show that used to be on BBC called ‘Grumpy Old Men’ where people like Bob Geldof , Jeremy Clarkson, Rory McGrath and the like just sat there and grumbled about things that they didn’t understand? That’s what it put me in mind of. It was like listening to an old man giving out about how it’s far from blogging he was raised and things, of course, were better when he was a buck. And BINGO, further research tells me that Declan Lynch was born in 1961.

In Ireland, we’re terrified of change. Kind of the point of Mr. Lynch’s story in the first place. So it’s hypocritical enough to see the article pan out as the words of a middle-aged man who appears petrified that his job might be at risk to some, in his own mocking words, “desperado” with a blog.

The thing is, in one respect, I can appreciate where he’s coming from. I can see why he feels that his professional toes are being stepped on by the simplicity and freedom that the 21st century and the internet culture provide. There is, no question, an abundance of personal blogs out there covering just about every topic you can think of and laymen with too much time on their hands are behind a vast majority of them.

In another respect, however, I feel that Mr. Lynch is an intolerant old stick-in-the-mud who has a dislike for modernism and the fact that it is now possible for everyone to have a voice regardless of whether they’re endorsed by a publication or not.

I have a degree in Journalism from Dublin City University. I spent three years earning it. About a year and a half into my studies I came to the realisation that, while I loved to write, I had very little interest in resigning myself to a life limited by word counts, deadlines, uninteresting subject matter and the brutality of editors. The reality of the profession was revealed to be a million miles from the idealistic reason I got into it in the first place. Where I wanted journalism to be a craft; something you could be creative with, an outlet for originality and flair, I was thumped in the face with a reality of ruthlessness, confinement and censorship. I finished my studies, graduated with the rest of my class and, while most of my peers ventured off into the cut-throat world of professional journalism, I ventured into the unexpected but wholly more gratifying terrain of childcare, where I today remain.

Point being? That not everyone who writes a blog is an uneducated imbecile who doesn’t deserve a voice, as Mr. Lynch not so discreetly implies. I take exception to the notion that just because a person chooses to write on their own terms it makes them less of a writer than someone who gets paid to roll out mundane “inverted pyramid” style news articles for a broadsheet paper. While a payroll journalist gets the freedom to write about whatever the editor decides, the blogger utilises initiative and crafts something. The blogger has the creative independence that the paid reporter can only hope to someday earn professionally and the blogger can, if he plays his cards right, generate as much attention for their work as any byline can for theirs.

The fact is that, as much as old school “I used to have to walk a mile in the snow just to get clean drinking water” grouches like Mr. Lynch are loathe to tolerate it, the internet is the future of communication. Matter fact, it’s not even the future. It’s the present. This month, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that, after 244 years in print, it would now only be available online. I mean, I love books (I refuse to ever have a Kindle, for example) but if that’s not one of the final nails in the coffin of the printed word, I don’t know what is. Also, here’s a link to an article listing all the major news stories that were broken on twitter (by the layman) before anywhere else: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/10-news-stories-that-broke-on-twitter-first-719532

In his tirade, Mr. Lynch alleges that “being good is not the point anymore.” Well, I respectfully disagree with that principle. Being “good” remains an essential component in any piece of journalism whether it comes in the form of an article, a column, a blog or even a tweet. Regardless of the encompassing accessibility of blogging to anyone with a notion to be heard in some way, good writers remain; There are people out there who are perceptive, creative, witty, outspoken and ingenious. They write, undiscovered and unappreciated. But doing it for one common reason: A love of writing.

And what’s wrong with that Declan Lynch?

Take This Pink Ribbon Off My Eyes

Feminism.

I know, I know… My mind is exactly where yours is right now, picturing some ugly bird with a mole on her chin, in an unflattering outfit, holding a match to her bra, bitching about Playboy whilst simultaneously painting a picture of her breasts in a liberating expression of femininity.

Look, I am going to discuss feminism up in here. But… I don’t like that sanctimonious aul’ hag any more than you do. She’s extreme and impractical, either ignorant to or disregarding of the fact that she needs that bra to stop her boobies heading south for a chat with her bellybutton.

Aussie Feminist, Germaine Greer said this about bras: “Bras are a ludicrous invention, but if you make bralessness a rule, you’re just subjecting yourself to yet another repression. For some, the bra remains a symbol of restrictions imposed by society on women.”
Ludicrous?!How about this, Germaine, assuming you’re not quite a 32A, bin the bra and then go for a jog on the treadmill. Ludicrous still? Or proven essential? Personally, I like to wear a bra most days. Not only that but I’ll take all the support they can offer me. Full-cup? Yessir. wide bone? That’s the ticket! Three clasps at the back? Sold!

But anyways, I’ve digressed. Feminism is an issue that makes most modern women recoil in horror and embark on a passionate denial campaign. That’s thanks to the stereotypical notions of feminists as cranky, man-hating, hippies striving to be artists, poets, scholars and feckin’ electricians.

sexism

I am not a feminist. I think women have come too far to still be playing victims. Modern feminism is little more than a justification for women to fight for something that is already ours, something that was given to us by women like Emily Davison, the suffragette who was killed in 1913 when she threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in a display of martyrdom for women’s rights, of which we had few.

But we no longer have few. The suffragettes of the 20th century were the real feminists. The cause was real and the goal was immense. They changed the world. In the 1960s second-wave feminism exploded. The contraceptive pill was approved and a whole bunch of new issues arose. The hippies were ON IT! They tackled sexism and workplace discrimination. Big things, you guys. Big things. The women of yesteryear made it easy for us. They fought the fight so we could reap the benefits.

Suffragette, Emily Davison, throws herself in front of the King's horse at the Epsom Derby, 1913

Suffragette, Emily Davison, throws herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, 1913

So why are we still not happy?

We are currently in the centre of what is known as “third-wave feminism”. Now, under-informed and unenthusiastic about the movement, I can only speak from personal opinion. And my personal opinion is that these modern feminists would want to take a step back and realise that women have never been so free. Neither have we ever been so powerful. 2012 is not the time to be crying about how difficult it is to be female.

Small yarn: My 20-year-old brother has been driving for five years. He passed his driving test first time. He drives a small but incredibly loud little Fiesta. And he is plagued by the guards. The kid is insured. He’s taxed. The car is NCT’d. He has a full-licence. He is, in all regards, completely within the law. Yet he is stopped by the Siochana frequently. His discs are checked. He is questioned. Sometimes searched. I, on the other hand, am 24-years old. I have been driving my little navy Yaris for two years. Like my brother, I am reliably law-abiding. Unlike my brother, I am left alone by the Guards. Rightly so. But the double standard, far as I’m concerned, seems to be gender focused. In the eyes of the Irish cop, a young dude like my brother has to be up to no good. Catching him on the roads provokes a full interrogation. I’ve been stopped on the roads once… Once… In two years. The guard made a bit of small talk, looked at my licence and sent me on my merry way. I’m a girl. Why would they bother interrogating me? It’s the lads they’re after.
Is not that sexism? Methinks so.

The fact is that we live in a time rife with strong women. Hillary Clinton. She came so close to being president that time. It’s gonna happen someday soon yo! A woman will be president of the United States. Lori Reynolds made headlines last year when she assumed the role of Commander of the USMC training headquarters at Parris Island. Julia Gillard became Prime Minister of Australia in 2010. More familiar faces like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Angelina Jolie. Women. Being. BOSS! The music industry too is dominated by women. Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Nicki Minaj and, my personal list-topper, Beyonce Knowles.

See, Beyonce’s got it right. Successful, beautiful, talented and savvy. She’s the biggest star in the world right now. She knows what she’s doing. Her priorities are set and all her ducks are in a row. She sang ‘Independent Women’ with Destiny’s Child and she meant it. Jay-Z has 99 problems but his bitch ain’t one. Beyonce shows us that you can have great strength and still be feminine. She voids the feministic idea that women should reject societal ideals; things like make-up, high-heels and embracing sexuality. Beyonce wears heels, she shows some skin and she runs the world (ish).

Powerful Women: Clockwise L-R: First Lady Michelle Obama, President of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi, First US female navy carrier-based fighter pilot Kara Hultgreen, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Oprah Winfrey, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Editor-In-Chief of the New York Times Jill Abramson and (Centre) Beyonce Knowles.

Powerful Women: Clockwise L-R: First Lady Michelle Obama, President of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi, First US female navy carrier-based fighter pilot Kara Hultgreen, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Oprah Winfrey, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Editor-In-Chief of the New York Times Jill Abramson and (Centre) Beyonce Knowles.

We don’t need angry old dolls bitching about porn and maternity leave, born into the wrong generation and tardy to the party by about forty years. Women, in the 21st century, well, we’re alright. I’m a firm believer that if one plays the victim, one will be the victim. If feminists could just quit the moaning and look around they’d see that they’re fighting a battle that has already been won. The audience has celebrated and moved on and they are left behind, full of resentment because they seem to now feel that women deserve superior rights to men.

I don’t believe that radical expression and lingering on issues past is doing anything for women. But I do believe in independence, in confidence and in doing and being anything you want, regardless of gender.

In Pink’s song, ‘Stupid Girls’, she comments on the abundant examples of unmotivated, under-achieving, conformist girls whose life goals include having bigger boobs and marrying into money. These chicks are everywhere. They wanna be WAGS, they love fancy handbags and they play dumb to make men feel more intelligent. They spend their childhood wanting to be vets and then, somewhere along the way, a lack of inspiration and/or proper guidance they come to believe that one’s goal in life should be marriage, money and children. The ambition of being a vet gets replaced with one of just wanting a husband who makes a decent wage. The sound of their dreams gets drowned out by the deafening tick of their biological clock. These girls do just about as much for women as the modern feminists do, reiterating clichés of women, setting us back and standing as utterly useless role models for the confused generation behind us.

Have you ever read any of the women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire? I think they’re behind this conflict between being a Courtney Stodden or a Tracy Emin. It was actually an article in Cosmopolitan that inspired this article/rant/nonsense. It was written by a dude who was giving out about men having to pay for everything on dates. Is he right or is he wrong? I’ve no idea really. But it made me think. In the same issue of Cosmo there was an article about how in order to succeed, women need to be pushier, like men. Few pages ahead, there’s an article listing the three things that men look for in a girl (1. you don’t flip out if you lose your phone. 2. you can sense if something’s wrong with him. 3. you tell funny, interesting stories about your day). Few pages ahead there’s an interview with Olympic athlete, Jessica Ennis. An article on how to firm up your body. Then an article called (and I’m dead serious with this) ‘What His Penis Wishes You Knew.’ Then an inspiring interview with “An Alpha Female”. It’s just all so inconsistent. Of course, it’s all silly fluff really, but there are women who read that stuff and think, “yeah, I wanna know what his penis wishes I knew!” We all know idiots like that.

cosmo-fit-article

But look, I’m not saying that I’m any kind of brilliant, independent, gung-ho maverick woman. I bought that magazine. And I read it cover to cover.

A few months back, I wrote a piece about my second year in college when I lived with four guys. It was awesome. I loved it. I loved them. We had a blast. When the year was up and third year rolled around, I was in an apartment with four other girls. It was not cool. They did not like me. I did not like them. We did not have a blast. When all was said and done I concluded that men have it right with their approach. They just don’t give a crap. A spade is a spade. They don’t feel hard done by as men. And they don’t care if we feel hard done by as women.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, why can’t we just be let be. I like being a girl. I like having long nails. I like styling my hair. I like high-heels. But I also like Discovery Channel documentaries. I like roaming the countryside with my dogs. I like video games. I believe in romance too but it’s not my be all and end all. I think if you take care of yourself, indulge your interests, chase your dreams and be the best you can be, the rest will come.

Life is what you make of it. It’s not about oppression. It’s not about discrimination. And it’s certainly not about gender. It’s time to forget feminism altogether, let sleeping dogs lie and seize the opportunities that lie in front of us. If he doesn’t hold the door open for you, it’s just because he’s a prick, that’s all. And you’re a prick too if you don’t hold it open for him. That’s gender equality.