“Я люблю русский народ. Вот почему я должен сказать вам правду. Пожалуйста, смотрите и делитесь.”Arnold Schwarzenegger
The video is below but it is being cropped because of the shape.
“Я люблю русский народ. Вот почему я должен сказать вам правду. Пожалуйста, смотрите и делитесь.”Arnold Schwarzenegger
The video is below but it is being cropped because of the shape.
14 March 2022
Via max seddon on Twitter:
A woman burst onto Russia’s main live evening newscast today with a sign that says: “Stop the war Don’t believe propaganda They’re lying to you” And chanting: “Stop the war! No to war!”
The anti-war protester who crashed the news broadcast is Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, says @pchikov, whose legal defense foundation is going to defend her against charges of “discrediting the Russian armed forces.” She’s already at the police station.
Ovsyannikova also appears to have recorded a video beforehand in which she blames Putin for the war and apologizes for her work on Russian state TV news.
"What's happening in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor. The responsibility for this aggression lies with one man: Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian, my mother is Russian, and they were never enemies. This necklace [shows] Russia must stop this fratricidal war."
"Unfortunately, for the last few years I've been working for Channel One. I've been doing Kremlin propaganda and I'm very ashamed of it – that I let people lie from TV screens and allowed the Russian people to be zombified."
"We didn't say anything in 2014 when it only just began. We didn't protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We just silently watched this inhuman regime. Now the whole world has turned away from us, and ten generations of our descendants won't wash off this fratricidal war."
Max Seddon adds:
To give you an idea of how sweeping the wartime censorship laws are in Russia: Novaya Gazeta, Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov’s paper, published a picture of Ovsyannikova’s protest that looks like this
I wanted to write a short preamble because I think about this topic a lot, and this is more than just a confirmation bias retweet. Dan Olson’s video (below) is two hours long and covers the topic in detail.
At the Formula 1 season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, emblazoned across the giant footbridge, was an ad for Crypto.com. Not having heard of it, I took a look at the website where I was greeted by Matt Damon talking to camera, and the message: “Fortune favours the brave”.
Sponsoring the Grand Prix and getting Matt Damon is expensive advertising. Crypto wants fresh blood! Those already in, and those running the exchanges are set to make a lot of money.
I don’t have a side in the crypto culture war. Except: I currently don’t have any investment in it*. Time will tell whether that’s a mistake. I’m fairly sure the only people who are vocally pro-crypto are those already invested. And this obviously undermines the usefulness of their opinions.
(*Full disclosure: I previously owned a modest amount of Bitcoin and I was lucky enough to sell it at a profit. I was curious about how it works. I made about £400 on a couple of grand investment.)
I tend to be naturally sceptical about things until I’m convinced otherwise. Despite having worked in tech for 24 years (I launched my first website for a client in 1998) I haven’t been convinced by the benefits of crypto apart from the obvious one: That evidently many people have successfully bought coins or tokens low and either sold them high, or still hold them at a higher value than when they bought them. So yes there is of course money to be made.
But because every transaction is both a buy and a sell the opposite is also true: An equal amount of money has also either been lost or is being held at a lower value than when those coins or tokens were bought. A lot of people are currently in Bitcoin negative equity (1 BTC = $35,000 today, down from $67,500 on 8 November).
Only if its value kept going up forever could everyone win.
Depending on who you listen to Bitcoin is either going to replace the US Dollar, or it will go to zero. It’s hard to get any objectivity on it, and of course you can’t predict the future. Value is a complicated subject and largely a matter of consensus or sentiment.
I’m conscious that the Twitter algorithm has me in a crypto-skeptic bubble but many of the arguments presented in it are well reasoned. In an attempt to balance things out I follow and have read or listened to a number of crypto advocates: Changpeng, Vitalik, Michael Saylor, Jack Dorsey, Chris Dixon and Anthony Pompliano as well as a couple of NFT guys (although I had to mute one, he was too tedious). Bored apes are everywhere and now we have hexagonal profile pictures too. I enjoyed Lex Fridman’s interview with Pomp. But obviously he is inherently very biased.
Oh and – guys – the whole laser eyes thing is not exactly helping it not feel like a cult.
The technology is certainly interesting but I’m not convinced that it is necessary or beneficial to society. Yes, even taking into account the fiat inflation problem. If you’re a card-carrying libertarian you probably don’t give a shit about societal benefits so long as something can make you personally richer. In which case by all means do your thing.
Friends who are crypto investors will likely roll their eyes at this post (not another hater!) But I believe privately they’re thinking “shut up dude” because I’m talking down their investment. I understand that – I have investments in tech stocks and I tend not to enjoy negative posts about those either.
Anyway I did previously attempt a blog post about all of it but there are too many aspects that each start to unfurl into complicated arguments that require well researched evidence and for which there will be counterexamples and frankly despite being in tech I’m not an expert on any of it so I decided there is no point, other than that I like to occasionally blog to iron out unresolved things that have been going around in my head.
Then this morning I saw this video created by @FoldableHuman and it really is very in-depth and starts from the beginning in 2008. I felt it was well worth sharing in more than just a tweet, hence this post.
Enjoy – or be pissed off by it – as per your conditioning!
I can’t predict the future and am open to the possibility that I might turn out to be wrong about everything!
If you always feel amazing, all day every day then there is nothing for you here. For everyone else – if you’re anything like me then you have good and bad days, and sometimes good and bad weeks. In my case these things come around in cycles. By ‘bad days’ I’m talking about what is probably a form of mild depression – that thing that nobody wants to talk about but nearly everyone gets. I’m pretty sure in my case it’s nothing serious because it never lasts that long, and it's probably pretty normal but it is very disruptive.
To be clear: If you do have persistent and / or debilitating depression then I’m absolutely not an expert and you should seek professional medical help. I know nothing much about it and would hate for you to think I’m trivialising a serious illness.
No, I’m just talking about getting stuck in a rut. For me being stuck in a rut presents itself in some of the following ways:
I am having none of these problems at the moment but I was a bit like that back in early March. And looking back over the past few years I’ve dropped in and out of good habits every two months or so. Keeping up with running (which I am into) sometimes feels like trying to keep a ball rolling uphill. As soon as you lose momentum you can fall a long way back down.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with that “Right, this is it. Today is the day.” epiphany moment where one day you wake up full of determination to sort your life out. Maybe you go and buy a yoga mat and new clothes to work out in, or a new bike, or join a gym. Famously (in normal years) gyms are busiest in January after the excesses of the Christmas break.
For me running kick-starts some sort of chain reaction that leads to most of the above bad habits becoming dialled down or even stopped completely. So in February one determined morning I decided to start doing a daily run.
The problem with this approach – I have come to realise – is that these sorts of optimistic plans are generally made when you are fired up and feeling positive and determined. But you cannot count on waking up with that same drive day, so it is almost bound to fail.
I managed to run for nine consecutive days before some small thing conspired to get in the way on day 10 and I didn't make it out. I don’t even remember what it was, maybe I just felt too weak to put on my running gear and get out the door. Or the weather was terrible. Or childcare commitments made it impractical on that particular day. So I missed a day but that broke the cycle and I stopped. And felt bad about it. I had failed.
I was very busy in March and quite stressed out by work and it quickly started to feel like I just didn’t have time to get back to running. I would tell myself that I would get back to it ‘once I had this big chunk of work out of the way’. But then it got to a week, then two weeks, and then pretty much the end of the month. And with each additional day that went by the very thought of going running became a more distant abstract idea. I put weight on. And the pressure to get back to doing it mounted the longer that I didn’t do it, which in turn made it become this Really Important Thing that I should be doing but wasn't doing – and so my not doing it became something else to feel stressed about.
That big glass of red wine with dinner dissolved that stress away, and I found myself back in the bullet list territory.
But now I believe I have found a hack that works. It was inspired by the running / cycling app Strava. They have various challenges that you can sign up to for free. At the end of March The 1% Better Challenge appeared. The basic idea is to do at least 15 minutes of some form of exercise every day. Strava is primarily for runners and cyclists but you can track any sort of activity on there, sync it after the event from another app or just record it manually.
The kicker for me was that 15 minutes is just 1% of a day. To claim I couldn't spare just 1% of the day to move around a bit would have been nonsense. Even when I’m “too busy”, after my morning alarm goes off at 7am I will sometimes lie in bed for 30 minutes scrolling through social media (which, yes, is a bad habit).
Trying to commit to a daily run was biting off more than I could chew. But now, worst case scenario, I can just log a walk into town and back, which at least keeps the streak going. If it feels too much to do something intense there is always a fallback option that’s easy. I do some home HIIT workouts, we have a rowing machine and I do yoga some days. In April I only ran about twice a week, but on the other days I did something at home or at least went out for a walk. So far in May I am running more like three times a week. I’ve started to get more visible muscle definition, I'm sleeping better and drinking a lot less, and am able to focus all day at work.
For me, making sure I religiously do one thing a day ensures that it never becomes a mental mountain to climb. The longer I leave something the more my brain builds it up into that Big Important Thing. And the more important it is the less I feel ready to start it for fear of not being ready.
Do what works for you but if you’re struggling to keep the momentum going I can highly recommend lowering the bar and just taking a short walk every day if that's all you feel up to. And importantly: Track it or log it in whatever way works for you and keep that unbroken record going. By doing this I have found that when I do feel strong I can then easily notch it up and do a decent run or bike ride without it feeling like a big deal, or like I ever stopped. Today was Day 50 and to mark the milestone this morning I ran my first ever half marathon. Tomorrow I absolutely plan on doing 20 minutes or so of something very easy.
Photo: Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure is great for home workouts
I had my first dose of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at 1pm yesterday. I found the whole experience impressive and surprisingly moving. After months of mistakes (both by the U.K. government and W.H.O.) bad timing and false economies it feels like we are finally getting our act together and hopefully sorting this thing out. Everything ran smoothly, from the SMS notification, to booking my appointment on the web, to actually turning up a few days later. Driving into the facility friendly volunteers helpfully ushered me to where I needed to go, checked details and ran through safety. The nurse who administered it was lovely and explained everything clearly including various side effects and the likelihood of them. The whole thing took less than ten minutes, with only a couple of people ahead of me in the queue.
I felt absolutely fine until around 22:30 last night when I started to experience symptoms. I could feel my body reacting to it, exactly like it’s designed to do. I got a mild fever, shivers, aches and pains and felt a slight swelling of the lymph nodes in my neck (these days I get that even with just a mild cold). The immune system is an amazing thing. I was torn between finding it fascinating and at the same time of course unpleasant.
I’ve had a broken night's sleep due to the fever and eventually took some paracetamol washed down with a pint of water at 5am. I’m feeling almost back to normal now at 10:30 with just a mild headache.
I know that not everyone gets these reactions and presumably in those who don’t the immune response builds more gradually. But for me it was reassuring to actually feel that something was happening.
For months it has felt like people who don’t know what they’re talking about have had far too much of a platform from which to rant incoherently about Covid. Some seem to have all but lost their grip on reality. I am absolutely not a fan of the government and of course we should be suspicious of corruption both in governments and multinationals and should scrutinise them. But the idea that there's some kind of conspiracy behind all of this just fails to stack up. It’s a naive fantasy. There is no coherent motive and the various theories swirling around in many cases cancel each other out.
I think in part what drives this is that some people feel the need for someone to blame for everything. They don't like to feel not in control. And they don’t feel comfortable accepting that reality is complicated and nuanced.
Yes of course lockdowns are awful and deeply damaging (and – honestly – we ALL hate it) but by far the most likely explanation is that these things just happen. I am not denying here the increase of virus transfer to humans caused by our unhealthy relationship with the natural world. But nobody wants this. It benefits no-one. And of all governments surely a Conservative government hates to shut down businesses the most. There is no believable motive here beyond a few PPE manufacturers and some contracts being awarded questionably. Maybe one might imagine some short-selling hedge fund benefitting, but that’s far fetched Bond villain stuff. The damage both to the economy and to our collective mental health is enormous. That’s the whole point and why we need to bring it to an end, right? We all want it over with, let’s at least agree on that.
The anti-mask/lockdown brigade frustratingly don’t seem to grasp the simple maths of exponential growth. The fact that the England at one point had the worst outbreak in Europe was due to the fact that we instigated lockdown too late and too loosely. But when we did finally shut things down the numbers eventually came down significantly (and dramatically more so since we started vaccinating). It’s precisely because of these harsh mitigating measures that the outbreak wasn't much worse than it turned out to be. But then the whingers use the resulting relatively small number of deaths (~128,000) as an argument that we shouldn't have lockdowns and mask wearing.
Would they be happier to pop on a mask in Waitrose if the deaths had hit 1.28million? When it’s already too late?
It is like complaining about the budget spent on building a safety fence on account of there having been no deaths from people plummeting to their death since it was constructed.
I wonder if it is just a small but vocal minority. Social media algorithms give voice to people with no academic credentials in the subject they are talking about, but they can do a lot of damage.
Dickhead Michael Gove famously asserted, “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts”. Well no, Mr Gove. I want to hear much more from experts and less from taxi driver politicians and individuals like Lawrence Fox. It is thanks to experts that we are going to science the shit out of this Covid problem.
Professor Sarah Gilbert at Oxford was awarded the RSA Albert Medal for her work on the Oxford vaccine but in a just world she and her team would be hailed as heroes outside of academia too. I wonder if enough people fully appreciate how complicated the genetic engineering of viruses is. It’s basically the Science of the Gods, but still we call them ‘boffins’ and treat them with mistrust. I find it utterly insulting that we treat experts in this way. Experts who gave us the modern world.
So this was running through my head while I was getting vaccinated and is why I found the whole thing moving: Brilliant people coming together and solving a massive and difficult problem. Humans really can be amazing and it is perhaps evidence that I spend too much time on Twitter – which too often boosts the wrong voices – that I lose sight of this fact.
Mute the morons and when you take that first sip of a pint inside a once again safe and cosy pub perhaps subtly raise your glass to the experts who made it possible.
Photo: The Jenner Institute Laboratories, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus Research Building © Make Architects
Back on 13 March I saw a tweet from my friend Hana that read:
So strange, most of the men I follow on Twitter are talking about rugby, startups, algorithms, basically anything else but what most of the women are talking about. It’s really jarring.Hana Sutch on Twitter
Later that day the vigil for Sarah Everard, who was murdered, allegedly by Wayne Couzens, was held at Clapham Common. Hana’s comment was of course made in the midst of the conversation about not only the murder but how practically all women feel (or have at some time felt) unsafe, or been harassed (or of course worse) by men.
So why were we talking about rugby, startups and algorithms?
I don’t know if I’d recently tweeted about any of those things specifically but of course that’s not the point – I don’t think I had commented on the trending topic of men’s treatment of women. I had actually started writing a blog post but I got stuck and wasn’t sure if it was appropriate or needed or helpful (I tend to have several half written blog posts on here that I start on a whim then think better of). I wouldn’t have tried again and written this had I not seen Hana’s tweet.
Here are some reasons I can think of that explain why I had not said anything:
That all said while this was going on I watched and read it all with great sadness. This column from Marina Hyde, about being harassed on the street recently was particularly depressing – precisely because it is not very surprising. I imagine these things are happening to a woman or girl somewhere all day every day.
Fortunately these things almost never lead to murder. The man who killed Sarah is presumably a psychopath or otherwise deranged. Nobody was saying “all men are murderers”. The point was about women’s safety and the fact it is men that make women feel unsafe all the time.
Yes of course men also make other men feel unsafe too – but surely not anywhere near as often or as much. And I’m sure you could dig out some isolated examples of awful women being awful too. But primarily and statistically speaking it’s men being dicks here. And by statistically I mean practically always.
I believe a woman should be free to walk anywhere she wants wearing whatever (or not) she wants and not expect to have anyone harass her. And the blame should be 100% on the perpetrator of the crime if one does happen. There should be no “Well she shouldn’t have...” response. It should be safe to dress how you want, and it would be if society wasn’t broken.
Women are repeatedly expected to change their behaviour and reduce personal risk but that shifts the responsibility away from men who are the cause of the problem.
What the recent outpouring of sentiment and anecdotes from women made me realise is how sad it is that society just sort of shrugs its shoulders and says “that’s just how it is” over this. Really we’re not very civilised if we think it’s fine to accept it. And it’s not just about walking the street, it goes on in workplaces, pubs and clubs too.
A lot about maleness – and the expectations of you when you are born male – is pretty broken or at least in dire need of reinvention. In many circles you’re expected to be a certain way – tending towards this alpha male type persona. Sensitivity is seen as ‘gay’ (Why is that even a bad thing? What are they actually saying by that?) We’re ‘supposed’ to be thick-skinned and sort of Jeremy Clarkson-like. Waheeyy lads. Join in or you’re one of the weirdos. The nerds (oh but then some of the nerds evolved into incels... ughhh we’re fucked...)
I’m not claiming to be whiter than white or to have never objectified a women or never looked at porn or anything. As a heterosexual guy women are attractive to look at, it’s hardwired. But you can of course look and appreciate without crossing a line: staring, harassing or more. We should be respectful.
Why would you expect a stranger you wolf-whistled at to be attracted to you? And then get angry with her for not wanting to talk to you. Do you have no self control, like an animal? And don’t get me started on unsolicited dick pics. I suppose it’s the modern version of flashing. Has one ever lead to any kind of continued relationship? I doubt it.
But now I’m making it about me (or implicitly not-me) again.
Having seen her tweet I had a brief chat with Hana, and I have since discussed it with my wife Rachael. I’ve been helped to understand that women generally would appreciate it if more men spoke up about this, and that it might help in some way. So that’s why I started this post.
Lots of us guys also feel that a lot of of male culture is toxic and though our inaction we are complicit in allowing it to continue. So here I am calling it out. We can do better, surely!
Also I think the more difficult aspect of this is that it can appear rewarding to be like one of those Dapper Laughs type characters. Of course you can be a confident and successful man without being a predator but far too often the charmers turn out to be nasty pieces of work behind closed doors (How could anyone be horrible to FKA Twigs? [Yes I know the court case is ongoing... but honestly??]) Psychology demonstrates that is an allure to aggressive men. As a teenager they do appear to “get more girls” to use a colloquialism that is itself part of the problem.
The long road to fixing it surely has to start with parenting and role models. The wolf whistling types are not being brought up properly, right? It is clearly seen as acceptable and funny in very large circles. The problem is not limited to Sun-reading builder types*. Rachael has to deal with misogyny on a regular basis.
I don’t have the answers because quite honestly I am more comfortable talking about algorithms, but there are my thoughts on it all for what it’s worth.
(*Sorry, nice builders)
Photo: © Thomson Reuters A woman brings flowers to a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in London, Britain, March 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Ankle now seems mostly fixed so back on the running since last time and clawing back some semblance of shape. My weight is heading back down grudgingly. I can’t do anything about looking older, or male pattern balding, but at least I can try to keep in good condition otherwise. Partly vanity, yes, but also something to do other than sitting at home sliding into the abyss.
The new album from Autechre, SIGN, came out a few days ago. Ever since Incunabula their “thing” has been to substitute your more typical Roland drum machine type sounds with pitch shifted / modulated replacements, or hits made from unrecognisable sampled sounds. But over subsequent albums they really pushed the abstraction boat out into uncharted waters making a lot of their stuff inaccessible to a lot of people. Myself included for a long time.
Over the last two years I’ve worked my way through all of their albums. What’s striking is that their music often does have a deep and melodic undercurrent but it can be found hiding behind – or within – the mechanised devices that present themselves on the surface; almost as though the melody itself is too self-conscious to come out into the sunlight in the manner of a more traditional synth line.
What keeps me going back is most of their albums contain at least one track that gives me that deeply pleasant dopamine-linked effect known colloquially as “the chills” but in the case of Autechre, and Autechre alone, it’s both my arms and legs, all over my neck and down my back and also sustained sometimes for minutes at a time. It feels like I’m becoming totally immersed in their soundscapes, which are remarkably three dimensional. Most other music feels quite flat in comparison, a mere stereo field.
And yes it’s sound design porn but I LOVE it.
Standout tracks from the five-disc release elseq (2016) are pendulu hv moda, and freulaeux. Even thinking about freulaeux is giving me goosebumps. 2018’s NTS Sessions (1-4) ends with the 58 minute all end and I currently listen to that about three times a week. It’s partly therapeutic, admittedly. Something about it speaks to my mental condition.
If in elseq and ‘NTS’ they developed new tools and what could be described as ‘systems’ (it’s all bespoke software written in MaxMSP) then it feels like with SIGN a lot of that work has been brought together in the form of a more traditional (by AE standards) album. It’s certainly calmer and more obviously melodic, something that feels quite profound during our current and difficult juncture.
Tayyab Amin writing in The Guardian said its “dystopian soundworld is now in a crowded market” and gave it only 3/5. While sci-fi themes have obviously dominated electronic music since forever this seems both a lazy and a false equivalence. Their work is abstract to the extent that it lives in its own genre – it’s never trying to be like anything else. I don’t know of any other music in the same “market” but I’d love to hear more of it if there is any out there.
Take care, try to keep it together, and don’t pay any attention to Ian Brown.
© 2022 Ade Rowbotham Ltd