Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog


General and PoliticalSaturday, December 12th, 2020, (8:02 am)

Hello blog. It’s been a while since I was last here; four years to be precise. I’ll be honest with you, after Brexit and Trump happened I needed some space. My liberal leanings were challenged, and with so much rage and vitriol around, I didn’t see the point of being one more voice shouting into the toxic void known as the internet. Four years later, my toxic shock is over.

Trump beheading liberty

Nobody reads blogs anymore. Facebook dealt a body blow to online journaling and the rest of social media swept it away in a tsunami of bite-sized bullshit anyone could read and share in seconds.

Our collective attention span was reduced to the length of a tweet. People stopped reading the news and instead read only the headlines. We shared for ‘likes’ and loved the affirmation those hearts and thumbs-up gave us.

When Edward Snowden told us we were being spied on, and Cambridge Analytica was revealed to be manipulating all of us, the world didn’t rise up and demand accountability. Instead, we raised little more than a collective eyebrow, then went back to thumbing through memes and Instagram posts from ‘influencers’ who exist in color-saturated worlds we browse with a hint of envy and maybe a side order of disdain.

So when Donald Trump became the President-elect in 2016, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Just months earlier, amid a storm of misinformation, lies, and manipulation, the United Kingdom had ripped itself away from its nearest neighbors in an isolationist divorce they called ‘Brexit.’

President PussygrabberThe term ‘Brexit’ shortened the complexity of the choice voters had and gave it a clickable brand. You were either for or against ‘Brexit’ and it didn’t need to be any more complicated than that. People defined in their own minds what that word meant, irrespective of what the truth was.

Across the Atlantic, Americans had ‘MAGA’ and their red hat revolution that liberals thought could never happen. A ‘pussy-grabbing’ reality TV President was an absurd notion, impossible they thought.

Even Trump didn’t believe he would win, shouting from his campaign pulpit about how the election was rigged and victory would surely be stolen from him by an establishment of unrelatable elites, journalists, and experts.

The sweet joy of ‘owning the libs’ and the idea of building a wall to keep everyone you hate from crossing your path was a delicious idea that ignited citizens who had long felt like nobody in power was listening to them.

Complicated conversations were reduced to a word or a slogan that you could declare or decry then quickly thumb to the next meme or morsel of fast news served in the palm of your hand.

It seemed to me that nobody was listening anymore. Everyone had an opinion, and many were shouting it while others slung bar brawl punches that landed like a messy end to a good night out.

We awoke the next day with digital hangovers, our heads pounding while outside normality was ablaze. Networks created to connect us had done the opposite. Truth and the opportunity to pause for thought had been drowned in an epic flood of fear and fury.

So on that cold November morning in 2016, what was I to write that hadn’t already been written? What point was there to write anything when everything had been reduced to slogans and portamentos?

TsunamiI felt lost and deflated. How had it got to the point where we knew more about what the people around us hated than what they loved?

As 2016 came to an end I wrote the final post on my 366 Pictures blog. It was a glorious summer day in Melbourne, Australia, far from the Brexiteers and the red hat revolutionaries. I didn’t think it would be four years until I would publish another word.

I thought of writing, even if it were just something to say I’m still here, still loving life and seeing the world. But nobody reads blogs anymore. If you’ve made it this far then we’re probably friends, and if we’re not we probably should be.

Blogging as a form of communication is dead, and that’s why I haven’t written anything for four years. If you and I are friends then we’ve been in touch, haven’t we? And if not, then let’s fix that.

Let’s fix that because in this world of instant communication, communication itself is broken.

So maybe rather than watching another documentary telling us that, or posting something on social media lambasting this truth, we can take back a little control by reaching out to one another to start talking and maybe, more importantly, start listening.

As for my long-forgotten blog, dated and derelict as it is, perhaps I’ll return to writing here. Not because anyone is reading, but because writing itself takes time.

To sit and craft one sentence after another requires thought, meditation in a way. We consume so much, maybe taking the time to create something as simple as a sentence can slow our rush to judgment?

I’ll write like the child who waves at passing airplanes knowing that the passengers won’t see them. They don’t need to see. I’m not waving for them, I’m waving for me.

Illustrations by Edel Rodriguez and Lennart Gäbel

PoliticalTuesday, November 8th, 2016, (12:00 pm)

Tomorrow could be a big day for Canada. If Führer Donald Trump wins the Presidency in tomorrow’s US election untold numbers of U.S. citizens will have to make good on their promises to pack up and move north of the border. Fortunately for them, Justin Trudeau has not announced any plans to build a wall on the southern border of his country… and make the Americans pay for it.

Americans willing to become immigrants

The final episode of the long running reality TV show called the U.S. Presidential Election will play out tomorrow across the United States and the world. Most of us non-Americans are hoping that it will be the end of the absurdity that the U.S. has inflicted upon us, but in truth I suspect it might merely be a transition into a new season of ridiculousness.

My hope is that the Reality TV twerp, Donald Trump, will not emerge the victor, and that once beaten, he will graciously step aside and allow the only marginally less acrid character of Hilary Clinton to begin her term as the next President of the United States of America.

Trump supporters will, of course, cry foul. They’ve been trained to rattle on about voter fraud and election rigging, and facts to the contrary will only strengthen their resolve about the so-called ‘liberal media’ being part of a grand scheme.

I’ll agree with Trump on one point; The political system is a mess. But he’s not part of the solution. In fact, he’s actually a product of the problem. Trump was born into wealth and as such he is part of an elite section of society that enjoy the spoils of a growing state of inequality that is beginning to look reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France.

In his 2014 TED talk, billionaire Nick Hanauer warns his fellow plutocrats that “the pitchforks are coming.” Though there seems little evidence that anyone of them are paying attention.

Efforts to “Make America Great Again” will require more than just a tag-line and a ring master who can whip-up a crowd like a travelling faith healer. But then again, “Hope and Change” haven’t exactly worked wonders either.

The word we hear a lot these days is “broken,” and after months of unavoidable political mud-wrestling thrust upon us, few would disagree that the system is indeed dysfunctional to say the least. The pity is that despite the rallies, the promises and the slogans, tomorrow won’t fix anything.

Make America Great Again. Again?

Don’t forget to check out where I am blogging every single day through 2016. Check out a new picture and story each day, sign-up to get the pictures and stories delivered by email, and see them on facebook too!

PoliticalSaturday, June 25th, 2016, (8:05 pm)

I’m no longer a European! After the “Brexit” referendum, Great Britain has somehow managed to make itself into more of an island and less “Great” than ever… if you ask me.

Some old duffer with a UKIP banner

I haven’t blogged on here because I am blogging every day this year over at 366 Pictures. However, I wanted to return here just to express my shock and disappointment that the UK has decided, by a small majority, to divorce itself from Europe.

The vote seems to have been carried by the “grey-heads” and people who seem to rattle on endlessly about immigration for reasons that I have yet to understand.

It wasn’t all down to the oldies though. One of my friends said that he was “delighted” with the result of the referendum because he wants to see an end to the “uncontrolled exodus from Eastern Europe” to the shores of Britain. Ironically though in the past he lived in another European country for a while, and he says he wants to do so again. I wonder, would he classify himself as an “immigrant” in that case or an “ex-pat?”

While I am sure that many people have sound reasons for wanting to exit the EU, I can’t help but think that many of those who voted in favor of the divorce, did so out of thinly-veiled racism.

How did immigration become such a talking point in this referendum when it seems that the issue isn’t actually one that any clear position has been stated by any of the powers that be? And what do those who want to see an end to the “tidal wave of immigrants” think is going to happen? Do they think that people from EU countries who are living in the UK will be summarily rounded up and sent back to Europe?

I am very concerned that the word immigration now seems to be an incendiary word capable of bringing out the ugly side of so many people who disguise hateful racist fears under a flag of national pride.

U.S. Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, has endorsed the exit vote in what I think is a chilling preview of what might be to come in the coming election in the United States. Trump unashamedly whips up fear and racism with comments that it seems only excite his supporters. His tactic of using controversial claims and outright falsehoods has put him in a head to head fight for the White House, with facts playing second fiddle to fiction.

The so-called “Brexit” (and I REALLY hate that term) referendum seemed rife with the same problems. Facts and figures were set aside for fear-mongering and misinformation served with a familiar dose of racism dressed up as “national pride.”

EU passport. Not anymore!So now I am no longer a European, despite what my passport says on the cover. I’m not sure what effect this will have on my life, though as someone who lives overseas, I can tell you that today I am not happy with the British Pounds I have in the my UK bank and now worth significantly less as I spend them. Other effects will take longer to see and experience, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Time will tell if it was a mistake or not.

I tend to think that this referendum was won by selling a soup of fear and misinformation to the public and getting them to vote on a single issue, rather than truly understanding the wider question. Maybe that’s just the game of modern politics, in which case, I think our friends across the Atlantic might want to ready themselves for President Trump!

I’m blogging over at 366 Pictures this year – though I am really behind with that right now. I will catch up though, so please check it out, even if you voted for Brexit, I’ll still love you over there :-)

PoliticalFriday, May 7th, 2010, (7:10 pm)

Britain’s general election is now over and apparently we’re heading for a hung parliament.

British Election Result.

Now I’m all for change, but really I’m disappointed that the media couldn’t just stick with the issues and not drag everything into the gutter as usual. I mean what do I care if the parliament is “hung” or not!

PoliticalTuesday, April 27th, 2010, (7:28 pm)

We have a general election here in the UK in just over a week I’m not really very excited about it. In fact I am not really very interested in it at all! So I wonder, am I too comfortable, too lazy, or is modern British politics just plain boring?

I honestly have no idea who to vote for on May 6th. I don’t like any of the parties because I simply don’t trust suit wearing, smugly smiling, hand shaking, baby holding, campaign stomping politicians. Underneath their party colors they’re all much the same if you ask me.

By the very nature politicians play political games. They look after themselves first, the people who keep them in power second, then somewhere after all of their other interests and activities they might look out for the interests of the people.

The recent parliamentary expenses scandals were of no real surprise. I wasn’t shocked to find out that political figures do questionable things and take advantage of their privileged positions.

In all honesty I almost don’t blame the politicians for taking advantage of the expenses system in the way they did. I can’t criticize them that harshly because I suspect that if I were in the same position as they were I might very well have been guilty of similar questionable application of the rules. Maybe that doesn’t reflect well on me, but I’m not perfect and I don’t expect politicians to be perfect either.

I suppose that’s the thing really. I’ve lost faith in political figures because I don’t really relate to their political personas. I’m tired of the carefully crafted statements and the overly wordy noise pollution they give off when saying nothing at all. They just don’t seem that real. They’re just part of a big ugly machine called government that moves slowly and often in the wrong direction.

Maybe I should be paying closer attention. Maybe I should have watched the three party leaders in their recent television debates. But frankly, I have better things to spend my time on than listening to three boring men argue with one another over stuff that will make very little real difference.

If I’ve got that wrong, please tell me. I’m serious, if you think there is something important I should know then I really would appreciate your insight. Because from where I am sitting I think we’re basically a wealthy country gripped by the same problems all wealthy countries have. Our liberty is being encroached upon by an increasingly intrusive security state that is happy most people mistake consumerism for freedom.

I’ve got my ‘hot button’ issues that I feel strongly about, but none of the ‘big three’ political parties are particularly talking about them because evidently they’re not considered that ‘hot’ to the rest of the country.

So help me out; is this really a boring election where we’re all just going to vote the current lot out with more conviction than we vote another lot in? Help me please, the election is just days away and in the absence of a ‘none of the above’ option I don’t know what box to cross on voting day.

PoliticalFriday, October 9th, 2009, (5:01 pm)

President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Apparently the Nobel Committee awarded the US President the honor because of “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.” Not that it really matters, but surely it’s a little premature to be giving President Obama a Nobel Peace Prize?

Britain's barbecue summer.

If you ask me I think that there is another story behind this decision. I think perhaps the judges all got together and had a wild night of strippers and booze then through the heavy haze of a hangover they just came up with the first name of someone ‘important’ that they could think of.

I don’t know about you, but the reason for the award sounds like something of an excuse, not dissimilar to those I used to offer my school teachers when they asked me where my mysteriously absent homework was. “Oh yeah, well you see, I was on my way to school and there was this old lady that had lost her white stick so I rolled up my English homework and gave that to her to use as a white stick.”

I like the President, really I do, but shouldn’t we at least wait for him to produce a little peace in the world before we give him a prize for doing so?

I suspect that Mr Obama himself is probably wishing that the judges had chosen someone else from their list of 205 nominees. The award will undoubtedly lead to a media focus on what the President has actually achieved (or not achieved) so far in his first term.

Such is the state of the modern political machine that any President would struggle to bring about rapid change. This truth is especially harsh for President Obama who used ‘change’ as a key feature of his election campaign.

Could it be that the prize has come from the global sense of relief that President Cheney Bush is no longer the “leader of the free world” (by the way, I absolutely detest that overblown phrase)? Such was the international distaste for that man that I can understand why a committee of international types might want to give the new President a prize, if for no other reason than for having the balls to step into the mess left by eight long years of President Bush.

If that was the case though, could we not have come up with a new award? Something like the ‘International Balls of Steel award’, which could itself lead to a very interesting trophy and acceptance ceremony. Surely such an award would then give us reason to create a similar accolade for the ‘Worlds Biggest Dick‘ whereupon a committee decide who has been the biggest dick of the year. At least awards like these would be a little more entertaining and not feel like saccharine political bullshit.

Perhaps we should just merge the Nobel Peace Prize with the MTV video music awards. At least that way Republicans like Joe Wilson could clamber onto the stage, Kanye West style, and ruin the ‘Barack Stars’ acceptance speech with an awkward ode to a some bemused white Senator sitting in the audience trying not to look mortified.

Maybe I shouldn’t make light of this. The Nobel Peace Prize isn’t supposed to be a prop of showbiz bling. Previous winners have included Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But at the time of writing this several polls showed that most people feel that President Obama doesn’t deserve the prize, yet.

So, what do you think? Was there someone more deserving of the prize? Does this even matter? Who would you give the award to if you were on the Nobel Committee?

The Wizard of Oslo
SNL lampoons President Obama (Video)
In Defense of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize
The Obameter: Tracking Obama’s Campaign Promises
Thank God that’s over

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