Tunnel Vision…

Week whatever it is, they are all starting to blur into one, we’ve been stuck in the same place day after day with the same people and are starting to lose our minds as a collective. If this is what it is like to be buried in a fallout shelter while the world around you decays and dies, then we hope we go in the first few moments of whatever apocalyptic event forces us to finally look at how much we fucked up the planet and couldn’t play nicely with each other. That being said this week’s A Mind of Its Own belongs in post-apocalyptic earth along with the people that contribute to it and the pain it brings to so many people around the world. No, we aren’t talking about COVID-19 for a change, we are talking about the lack of trying, lack of compassion, lack of caring, lack of compromise and a lack of respect for anyone other than yourself. Read on as we delve into a topic we’ve wanted to cover for quite some time now.

With everything in the palm of our hands these days we have multiple excuses and reasons to brush off people or things we are supposed to do, we’ve become incessantly selfish in our actions and how we treat others. As a society we are lazy and have little concern for others and that often shows through when we are put in situations that are tough. The saying you “think you really know someone”, comes to mind as we wander deeper into a world we now know quite well. There are often two sides to it and two stories and whilst one side will find pain and anguish, without being on the other side we can only have a guess at their thoughts and feelings.

They say “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. It’s so, so true ladies and gentlemen, our generation is a bunch of quitters. When things get hard we tend to just give up. Now that might sound harsh and a little insulting to those who have faced adversity or hard times and have actually battled through it, but for the majority of people it’s easier to just quit and run. To give up rather than fight and battle their way through the pain, hurt and torment. Picture a hill that you are making your way up, steep as all hell, you are halfway up and things start to go wrong. Your legs burn with each step and your mind screams at you to stop, could things get any worse? Maybe you have a blow out in the shoe department or your feet are blistered, bleeding and rubbed raw or maybe your muscles are starting to fatigue and cramping is beginning to set in. You have two options from here…

The first option is to kick yourself in the arse and slog the rest of the way up that mountain, mind over matter baby, if you set your mind to it you’ll get there; or you go with option two, the easier option and just quit, after all it’ is as easy as that… We are finding that more and more a lot of people when faced with a decision to work hard, whether it be physical or mental, or to quit they are choosing the latter and throwing the towel to the canvas and walking away. Yeah, they might have lasted a round or two but they just couldn’t find the drive to see it out to the 10th. We can guarantee that nine times out of ten their decision won’t affect them and they’ll go on with life as though nothing has happened, no ripples in their pond. But when that tenth time comes around it haunts you until your end of days. People will often tell you that they never want to live with regrets, “Live life to the fullest, no regrets” and it is actually quite easy to walk away from things, to go and seek instant gratification somewhere else rather than putting in the hard work with what you currently have. Putting in a few extra days here or there or working a little harder at something that just isn’t going right at this current moment.

While many people will say that marriage is an antiquated past time that binds two people together for eternity or at least the rest of their lives on this green earth. What we’ll say is that you don’t have to marry someone to prove your love for them. You should marry them because you want to be married and spend the rest of your life with that person. You should also know whether or not that is what you actually want before you go wasting time and money on a wedding. Far too many people get caught up in the romance of a wedding, whether it be the idea of standing in front of your friends and family to profess your love for one another or the celebration that comes with it, perhaps there are other things like children or finances that keep you caught up in the idea of a wedding and spending the rest of your life with someone.

So when you fast forward 6 to 12 months down the track and things get a little hard and you hit a couple of bumps in the road, you are faced with yet another choice. A choice that will not only have an impact on that person you made those promises to, those promises you made in front of your friends and family, it will also have an impact on you.. The choice is to fight or flee, to stay or to go, but the choice will be yours and yours alone. Why are so many people going through or having gone through this? Why as humans do we walk away and not fight for what we have in our lives? Why do we seek instant gratification when we have people in our lives who love and care about us?. It comes down to the fact that we are the only species who is greedy, self centred and egotistical. We are able to only think solely of ourselves and not about how our actions and decisions will affect those around us.

Gone are the days of sticking it out, “till death do us part and for better or worse” are just some lines that are uttered on the day of your wedding. Words are just that, words and actions will forever speak louder than words. Past generations worked through it, granted a lot of couples actually hated each other but there was something romantic about sticking to the promises and commitment made to each other on that day. They stayed for the children, sometimes for their faith but most of it was for integrity and knowing they made a commitment to that particular person for a reason. It was the holding on to those reasons and working on that commitment for generations that saw your grandparents stick it out. They knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, they knew that it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine and that they would be there to support each other through the darkest of days and that they needed to make love work. Making love work is just that, its work, it needs to be given the same commitment, time and priority as the job that pays the bills.

Speaking with those that have gone before us it became obviously clear that there are patches in every relationship whether you are married or not. The first one seems to come at the end of year one. In marriage this is apparently the toughest year you will face. The next patch seems to be around the 5 year mark and then there are no doubt others to follow, however these are the two that everyone we spoke to outlined as having the potential to make or break your relationship. Throwing children into the mix is also another hurdle that has the ability to snap it all in half, we men need to remember that priorities shift in the first year of having a child. That’s a mother’s time to bond and ensure your child has what it needs to survive and flourish. It doesn’t mean they love you less or care for you less, it is just a shift in priorities until said child is able to fend for themselves, this is particularly evident in the first 12 months. Our advice is to get a friend and by friend we mean a dog or one of those other pets that people seem to have, what are they called? Cats?

What all that also means is that you need to put in a little more effort than you might be used to when things change. It’s all about being able to adapt and relationships and marriage are all about compromise and adapting when things become a little hard or unsteady. They say chivalry is dead and maybe it is, maybe technology has ruined our ability to romance, to be a perfectly imperfect gentleman or maybe as we previously said we have just become lazy now that we literally have everything at our fingertips. Instant gratification is only one like or virtual thumbs up away. Choice and the ability to choose from a variety of people is stopping so many from settling down. What’s next? The effect and can I do better is always at the front of the mind for so many on dating apps and often in relationships. It is the fear of missing out, looked at from the wrong perspective, rather than concentrating on what’s right in front of them they focus on the unknown. As many an athlete has said, “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off the goal”.

We have goals for our fitness, careers and life in general but a lot of us forget to set goals and continue setting goals in our relationships. We become complacent and think that just because everything is currently going well, that we don’t need to put in any work. We don’t need to let our significant other know that they are loved. We don’t need to continue to try each and every day. There are literally thousands of examples where complacency has ruined opportunities to succeed. To love and be loved and to continue to build on the foundations you made when you set out on the journey together, to strive to support your partner and be on their team and ensure they are on yours. Complacency sabotages this. It’s not until it’s gone that you realise what you had. You can try to replace that feeling with one night stands and little flings but at the end of the day when you are laying in your cold bed, alone and wondering where it all went wrong, you’ll be able to trace it back to that one relationship you took for granted, that one boy or girl who you thought would always be there for you no matter what.

That time you should have done everything in your power to make it work. That time you should have stayed and listened rather than getting defensive and walking away. Or the time you went looking for someone to place blame on when all you needed to do was look in the mirror. The ability to fight for what we have is in each and everyone one of us. Love is a choice, even when it’s hard. It’s a choice some people make daily, for others it’s easier to walk away and make excuses or blame their partner for the demise of their relationship or marriage. It’s a very narcissistic trait to place blame with others when the decision is yours and yours alone, to walk away and give up, and those questions you have they can all be answered if you take a look inside yourself. It all comes down to choices and whether we are able to fight, compromise, communicate and adapt to those we wish to spend our lives with. After All it’s a Privilege, yes privilege with a capital P, to go through life with a partner.

Upon returning to the Nation’s Capital late last year we came across a lot of friends who were going through rough patches or at the end of those rough patches. Seeing the forest through the trees was a little hard for them when sitting in the bottom of a well filled with hopes and despair. Their worlds were being shattered, their hopes and dreams crushed and in some cases their families being torn apart. It ripped open healing wounds knowing what they were going through and what they were going to face but we ourselves had a choice to make. We could help them navigate through the pain, anger, regret and remorse or we could walk away and leave them to sort through it all on their own. What it came down to, was the fact that we had the experience and could help them through a time that wouldn’t be easy and it has also helped us in our journey.

Whether it’s not having to deal with pain, accepting responsibility or having to have that hard conversation it seems that in today’s society it is easier to engage our flight side rather than the fight side. Walking away rather than working through the bumps in the road seems to be the common practice. Not every marriage and relationship is going to work out. It’s that plain and simple but every now and then there is the one that comes along that’s worth the fight, the pain and persistence. So once again you are left with the choice to step up and take on the challenge of being present, continually working on and improving your relationship each and every day, or closing the door and walking off into the unknown.

At the end of the day you need to find respect for yourself and for those you invite to share your life with. Whether that is a short period of your life or long term, respect is something that will help you through tough times. If things aren’t going well communication is always key, we may not like what we are hearing at the time but over time a respect will grow for the courage it takes to speak your truth. The key to all of this is to not throw in the towel at the first signs of trouble. At least attempt to work through the issues and problems before you decide to walk away. Life isn’t always going to be easy ladies and gentlemen, there will be ups and downs but if you have someone beside you supporting you through it, it makes it a hell of a lot easier.

To quote the toughest, baddest and best fighting force on the planet “For all those who’ve been down range, to us and those like us, damn few” not everyone will go through the heartache, pain, trauma and mental bruising that comes from someone walking away on you. You’ll go through a period in which you’ll blame yourself, question yourself and no doubt wish you were someone else but remember there is nothing wrong with you, you wanted to fight it out, to sacrifice, to adapt and overcome. There is nothing you could have said or done to ensure that person stayed or fought for you. Some relationships will work, some won’t but they all take effort from both parties. Don’t walk away if you know you might one day regret it.

This piece is for the friends and family who stuck it out and tried to make it work no matter what. They have commitment, dedication and most of all respect for those they’ve shared their lives with. Some of them were able to make it work, others were not but they all tried to make it work, they didn’t walk at the first sign of trouble. To them we take our hat off, to those who just walk away we hope you find what you are looking for and don’t continue to repeat the pattern of walking away when things get tough. For now, we’ll wish you all a fond farewell until the next one, which will be a little more regular now that we have everything in hand. Thanks for your patience, family, friends and fans. Hasta la vista amigos…

I Slept With Somone In Fallout Boy…

Firstly no one has slept with anyone from Fallout Boy here at A Mind of Its Own that we are aware of, yeah we might joke around that we identify as a helicopter or glow stick from time to time but the writers here are very much heterosexual and more often than not a lads, lad. Sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble but as they say the truth shall set you free. After what’s been a big couple of weeks at our other jobs, you know, the one that pays for us to be able to continue this side project with passion and gusto we’ve finally managed to spend some time behind the keyboard pumping out some blogs that actually interest us. Safe to say politics bores the absolute crap out of us!. Give us controversy and madness, we are all for it and apparently so are our readers who seem to have similar minds like ours that spend a fair bit of time in the gutter.

A Mind of Its Own has always been an outlet, a way in which we can be open and honest about things that we often struggle with in day to day life. It’s given a voice to mental health issues particularly anxiety and depression, it’s also allowed the writers to be reflective and often take lessons out of what has been written or what they themselves are writing. We are truthful in what we write and will always give both sides of the coin as we toss it in the air and throw caution to the wind. Over time though we have learnt that people often don’t really want the truth when it comes down to it. As the famous line voiced by Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men goes “You can’t handle the truth”. Human’s often struggle to hear what is often true or to often speak the truth for that matter and why? Well there are various reasons in which you will soon learn as you read on.

Be honest with yourself for a minute, we’ve all done it at some point throughout our lives, heck some people even make careers out of it (Politicians, conman etc). Lying is something that we do as human beings, we are the only species capable of deceiving each other with what is often something so simple and so small and more importantly, not needed at all. But we’ve all done it, whether you’ve lied to your boss to get time off work or your parents about going to a party or most importantly yourself about why you lie, everyone has lied it’s part of what makes us human. Honesty may be the best policy, but scheming and dishonesty are part of what makes us human. Throughout history there are 100’s if not 1000’s of examples of people who have lied about who they are, what they do, what happened, how it happened, why it happened etc.

So for some home truths to start with, we decided to write this week’s A Mind of Its Own on Lying, as well to be honest it all just fell into place with things that were going on around us. The boss-man had been lying to himself about why he was feeling the way he did, he’d been lying to everyone that would ask him if he was OK, but most of all he’d mislead and he’d not been honest with someone that he cares about. That’s the thing about lying, dishonesty and keeping things to yourself, we all do it for various reasons, whether it be to present a false image in order to hide our inadequacies or to protect the feelings of others or in some cases just as a poor excuse when confronted with something we were supposed to do.

Not all lies are harmful, In fact sometimes lying is the best approach for protecting privacy, ourselves and others from malice. Some deception such as boasting and lies in the name of tact and politeness can be classified as less than serious. But bald-faced lies (whether they involve leaving out the truth or putting in something false), are harmful, as the corrode trust and intimacy, which lets be honest once again, in a lot of peoples eyes this is the glue of society that keeps us all together.

Lying, as it turns out, is something that most people are very adept at. Most people lie with ease, some in big ways and some small. We lie to strangers, we lie to coworkers, friends and to our loved ones and family. Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental as our need to trust others. Ironic that this then makes us terrible at detecting lies. Being deceitful is woven into our very fabric, so much so that it would be truthful to say that to lie is human. One of the strangest, yet truthful sentences you will read on A Mind of Its Own. The commonality of lying was first documented over two decades ago by Bella DePaulo a social psychologist at the University of California in a study in which they asked 147 adults to jot down for a week every instance they tried to mislead someone. This research showed that on average subjects lied one to two times a day without even realising it.

It’s been speculated that lying as a behavior arose not long after the emergence of language. The ability to manipulate others without having to use physical force would have likely conferred an advantage in the competition for resources, a mate and could be akin to the evolution of deceptive strategies in the animal kingdom such as camouflage. Sissela Bok an ethicist at Harvard University was quoted saying “It’s much easier to lie in order to get somebody’s money or wealth than hit them over the head or rob a bank”. Here’s where it all gets interesting and as you all know we love a topic when there is a heap of research involved. As lying became more and more recognised as a deeply ingrained human trait, social science researchers began working to illuminate the nature and roots of the behavior.

How and when do we learn to lie? What are the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of dishonesty? Where do most people draw the line? The research is beginning to suggest that we’re prone to believing some lies even when they are unambiguously contradicted by clear evidence. This suggests that our proclivity for deceiving others and our vulnerability to being deceived are especially consequential in the age of social media. Our ability as a society to separate truth from lies is under unprecedented threat. Just like learning to walk and talk, lying is something of a developmental milestone. Parents may find it troubling that little Tommy or Tessa has begun to lie. It is more they see it as a loss of innocence in their child. However the emergence of this behavior in toddlers is a reassuring sign that their cognitive growth is on track according to Psychologist Kang Lee of the University of Toronto who has conducted several studies on the psychology of lying in children.

Sadly for all those parents out there the research also suggests that we only get better at lying with age. In fact the Studies Doctor Lee and his colleagues conducted with children around lying suggested that the older the child the better the deception or lie became. Why, you ask? Well remember that little thing called empathy? The increase in the sophistication of the lie comes with the development of a child’s ability to put him or herself in someone else’s shoes. Known as Theory of Mind, this is the facility we acquire for understanding the beliefs, intentions and knowledge of others. A fundamental of lying is the brain’s executive function, the required abilities required for planning, attention and self control.

In studies conducted by Dan Ariely at Duke University, they paid subjects a dollar amount for each math question they got right, the participants were told to shred their sheets before reporting their answers. Little did they know their answer sheets didn’t actually get shredded. What fascinated Ariely the most was not that people lie but rather why they didn’t lie a lot more. Even when the value was increased for each right answer most people didn’t increase their level of cheating. Something stops us from lying all the way, the reason Ariely believes is that we want to see ourselves as honest, because to some degree we have internalised honesty as a value taught to us by society. Which is why unless you are a sociopath most of us place limits on how much we are willing to lie. Ariely and others in the field have shown that this is determined by social norms arrived at through unspoken consensus, a little like taking home a few pencils from the office supply cabinet it OK as long as the bosses don’t find out but your colleagues are ok.

There appears to be no agreement among psychologists and psychiatrists about the relationship between mental health and lying. However there are certain disorders that exhibit specific lying behaviors. Individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder tend to tell manipulative lies, while narcissists may tell falsehoods to boost their image. The Sociopathic disorders tend to have the strongest link and as pointed out exhibit specific lying behaviors. Unless you are a pathological liar, which could be an underlying indicator of a mental health issue as there is motivation behind the lie in the first place, however more research needs to be conducted.

Over the last two decades researchers have studied the brain in order to see if there was anything unique about the brains of individuals who lie more than others. Using three different controls groups broken down into repeated liars, those who met the criteria for antisocial personality disorder but not frequent liars and those who were neither antisocial or had a lying habit. The research showed that the liars had at least 20 percent more neural fibers by volume in their prefrontal cortices thus suggesting that habitual liars have greater connectivity within their brains.That then poses the question as to whether this predisposes them to lying because they can think up lies more readily or is it the result of repeated lying?

Another joint study conducted by Psychologists Nobuhito Abe of Kyoto University and Joshua Greene of Harvard University scanned the brains of subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging machines (fMRI) found that those acting dishonestly showed greater activation in the nucleus accumbens (a structure in the basal fore-brain) that plays a key role in reward processing. As it turns out the more excited your reward system gets the more likely you are to cheat. Or in other words, greed may increase one’s predisposition to lying. Tali Sharot a neuroscientist at the University of London found that the amygdala’s response to lies got weaker with each lie, even as the lies got bigger.

Tim Levine, a psychologist from the University of Alabama outlines in his ‘truth default theory’ that much of the knowledge we use to navigate the world comes from what others have told us. We implicitly trust others in when it comes to human communication and without that trust we would be paralysed as individuals and cease to have social relationships. He even went on to explain there is little harm caused when we occasionally get duped. We are hardwired to be trusting which makes us intrinsically gullible we’ll use Frank Abagnale Jr, a security consultant whose cons as a young man went on to inspire the 2002 movie Catch me if You Can. He explains that scams work because people believe what they want to believe and aren’t searching for a lie.

It’s called the Liar’s Advantage according to Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts. “People are not expecting lies, people are not reaching for lies and a lot of the time, people want to hear what they are hearing. According to Feildman we put up little resistance to the deceptions that please us and comfort us whether it be false praise or the promise of impossibly high investment returns. Researchers have also shown that we are especially prone to accepting lies that affirm our worldviews. Alternative facts have thrived on the internet and social media because of this vulnerability in humans. Debunking false truths or fake news does not demolish their power because we assess the evidence presented to us through a framework of preexisting beliefs and prejudices.

A recent study out of the University of Western Australia by doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology, Briony Swire-Thompson documents the ineffectiveness of evidence-based information in refuting incorrect beliefs. Studying our closest friend across the seas (The Americans) they gave them two statements to choose from. The statements both false saw that people chose with bias, for example one of the statements was about Trump in which Trump supporters immediately believed it. When presented with the evidence that it was incorrect they readjusted their view but only for a short period of time. Within a week they were back to believing the original statement. Other studies have shown that evidence undermining lies may in fact strengthen belief if them. So you run the risk of watching them grow and become hulks in front of you if you try to counteract their inaccuracies.

When it comes to lying it looks like the deck is stacked against us people, yeah we can attempt to justify them by telling ourselves it was just a ‘white lie’ or a little ‘fib’ to ease our guilt or cross our fingers behind our backs as if it somehow suspends the rules and we can judge ourselves on the right side of communicative fair play, but at the end of the day we lie because of behavioral conditioning as well as cognitive evolutionary biology. Lying can bail us out of awkward situations, spare the feelings of others. Preserve or strengthen alliances, Enhance social standing, keep us out of trouble and even save our lives. Lying is unfortunately tied into our self esteem, it’s all down to the shifting sands of the self and trying to look good both to ourselves and others.

Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while it is said that women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better. Extroverts lie more than introverts according to research. Lying tends to be short term focused, when we decide to deceive someone whether to save our self image or self worth we aren’t thinking long term but if the person finds out it can have long term consequences. We need to become more aware of the extent in which we tend to lie and focus on the fact that honesty yields more genuine relationships and trust.

So if we look at what we now know about lying, we are faced with yet another seemingly adult decision in our lives, to admit we are liars or to just continue through life justifying that everyone lies and evolutionary? The problem with lying and science has now backed this up is that, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more likely you are to do it again. “We are our own judges about our own honesty” It is both behavioral and evolutionary, we do do it for various reasons both good and bad, everyone has lied at least once if not more in their lives and we as humans have become very adept at it. To lie or not to lie that is the question but like all things in life it’s a decision that only you can make in that moment but remember the truth always finds a way to the surface.

So until the next blog all we can do is apologise to those we may have wronged, lied to and deceived throughout our lives from our hearts to yours we are sincerely sorry. Weird apologising to people at the end of blog about lying but as we said we like to reflect on our writing at the end and take something from it. From this blog we took a lot that we didn’t expect to. We don’t condone lying but we now understand a little better why people do it and from the looks of things most people don’t lie to be malicious, in fact most lies told are to protect others. The truth however shall set you free as they say and so with that in mind we say honesty is the best policy and be true to yourself, love yourself. Until next time take it easy…

Heels Over Head…

In an attempt to get some normalcy back into this here blog we are attempting to do the double and if we are lucky potentially the triple this week, we know our adoring fans have missed having something to read each week and our mental health has missed having the writing escape each week that allows us to research each and every topic we write about. That includes bin chickens and bush turkeys folks, two of Australia’s best birds and almost becoming more iconic than the galah or the cockatoo. Unlike most of the blogs we write though, this week’s doesn’t have a lot of science and or research behind it but has more gone with a gut feel, views and those old arseholes, opinions. So without further adieu we’ll crack on into another addition of A Mind of Its Own.

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about online dating and the ins and outs, the pitfalls and the disappointment it can often bring or how it just makes a lot of people feel rather shallow and self conscious. Just like a lot of social media these days. In a follow up to that piece we decided to look at something that has always baffled us, something that just seems to be the norm, something that society has yet to really challenge and those that have, would no doubt have been labelled or even worse put down and ridiculed for their views and opinions. But it does tie in with not only dating but most facets of life, particularly where things have been spelled out for centuries. Maybe not so much in black and white but in that shale grey colour that interior designers tend to love so much these days.

No matter where you look there are rules that govern our lives, some of them are written and passed through parliament becoming a law or legislation, others are more suggestions or have become the social normal throughout the centuries, they aren’t written down but more passed on as things that just are and should be done. It’s these so called social normalities or “unwritten rules” that we want to take a look at and try to get an understanding of the how, what, where and why behind them. How did they become something that everyone did, what happened for that to even become an unwritten rule? Where did it happen? And why did it happen? That’s a lot happening in one sentence. We’ll focus on dating as that’s where most of these unwritten rules seem to exist but we’ll throw in some other examples as we go that just pop up in everyday life.

This all came about as we discussed dating with people after the posting of “I’ll Be Your Man”. Through sharing their personal experiences and leaning on the Boss man here for his unedited thoughts on the world of online dating we were able to get an understanding that there are perceived certain rules in which men and women need to abide by in the dating world. We say rules but some people will say guidelines, either way they are there and they often govern how people interact with each other in the dating world. An example of this is the first date and how long you should wait before you contact someone after. Is it 24 or 48 hours and why should you have to wait to wait at all, to tell someone you had a good time with them and would like to see them again? Because someone made it a social normality that a lot of people have followed throughout the years?

Correct that’s exactly why, someone with an opinion and soapbox to spruke it from suggested that it could be perceived as needy or too keen if you interact too soon after meeting someone in which you may want to pursue something more than just a friendship with. Overtime it just became dating advice and slowly an unwritten rule that you gave it time before contacting them and making a second date. If you didn’t contact them it was understood you weren’t at all interested and that has now taken on the term ‘ghosting’. So we know ghosting isn’t a new thing that men and women do, someone just put a label on it and gave the millennials something to grasp on tightly to while they rock themselves to sleep in the corner because Ted or Tamara just disappeared without an explanation. Our Human need for closure and want to understand everything that comes into play there.

Forgetting all the rules for a minute and standing on the edge of the philosophical lake with the rule book in hand ready to fling it to the depths of the water. What if you did meet someone who you wanted to break all the rules for?. What if that person ticked a lot of your boxes? You know the rules we are talking about, the unwritten ones, ladies and gents, we don’t condone the breaking of statutory rules that govern society to keep us safe unless they are archaic and need to be torn down like a derelict building poisoning the skyline. There is a freedom discussed and whispered in circles that men and women talk about. Freedom that allows us to make decisions and not be governed by unwritten rules. That allows you as an individual to throw the social normalities into the lake and never have to worry about them ever again.

The rules that say you shouldn’t talk about certain topics when you getting to know someone, the rules that say if your marriage falls apart you shouldn’t date until you are divorced, the rule that says sex before marriage is a sin. The rules that say you should follow those rules and not jump in feet first. But ladies and gentleman you wouldn’t go and buy a cow from the market without trying the milk before taking it home would you? It’s the exact same with sex and a lot of things in life. That’s probably not one of the best analogies we’ve ever used but you get the point. Life is full of unwritten rules in which we’ve allowed ourselves to be governed by because they have become the societal norm over centuries. If evolution has taught us anything it’s that we should be breaking the mold and bucking the trend is good for us. It took a world war for women to be allowed to vote and work in traditionally male dominated roles. Yes it’s still going on today but we are evolving (ever so slowly).

In a world full of rules there is something liberating about not following them, something internally inspiring about following your heart, head and gut. Some might even say there is something enlightening about going your own way and doing your own thing when it comes to breaking the social normalities. If we aren’t challenging things what are we doing? Are we just becoming more sheep in the proverbial flock ready to follow around a Shepard? Surely not, as intelligent beings we have the ability to choose, to make decisions and to stick to our convictions and values. As the kids say you do you. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t follow all the unwritten rules as some of them are just part of being a decent human, what we are saying is that you have the ability to pick and choose. When it comes to dating as people that like to wear our hearts on our sleeves all we can say is follow your heart.

There is the age old story of the Hare and the Tortoise to take into account though, you know the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ but there are also the internal factors and feelings that you can’t often be explained and or ignored. Yeah take things slow but the one thing that will always be a saving grace is communicating. And lessons learnt tell us that communicating everything as well as setting expectations early is paramount. Even if it is ugly, bad or makes you feel a little ashamed and less of a person. Don’t show up just because you feel that it’s expected, the path to authenticity is paved with good intentions that often find us in pitfalls doing what we feel we should rather than being truly authentic with people we care about. That’s not just dating that’s through all facets of life.

So what are some of those other unwritten rules that we should follow? We’ll there are the little subtle ones like keeping left on an escalator or chewing with your mouth closed, because no one really wants to hear or see you chewing. Or not being on your phone whilst being served at a checkout and making people wait in the line behind you to finish your call or always letting people out of a door before you enter, particularly lifts, buses and trains. There are some weird ones that are more for personal comfort more than anything else like leave one urinal in between you and the next person where possible. There are also the consideration rules like giving up your seat on the bus or train to the elderly or a pregnant woman. Or replacing the toilet paper if you are at the end of the roll. It’s courteous and just a decent thing to do, it’s all part of taking that empathetic path.

Maybe that’s just the answer, maybe the whole solution to unwritten rules, that are societal norms is to just be empathetic in your approach to life, put yourself in the other people’s shoes and think about how it would make you feel before acting. Flick the rule book out the window and just approach life with an empathetic attitude. When dating if you want to call someone after the first date place some empathy in your thought process and sometimes you just need to take a blind leap of faith and know that no matter what the outcome you are going to be OK. Everything we do in life has a lesson there for us. A teaching in which we learn a little about ourselves and the world around us and if you aren’t learning or are opposed to learning you might need to check yourself on the way out the door. And do everyone a favour don’t let it hit you in the arse on the way out.

Some would argue that more and more we are breaking those unwritten rules as society becomes more self involved and selfish on an individual level. In some regards this is true and we’ve argued before that the youth of today lack respect. But in all fairness it’s not just the youth we all get caught up in our own little worlds and with social media and everything in the palm of our hands it’s easy to overlook little things and other people. In the eyes of this here blog it is just that, a lack of respect for those who have been there before them, to wear in the path through the jungle that can often be this world. Lack of respect does not necessarily mean challenging the rules or even breaking them, it’s a naivety in which our youth have that they are entitled to everything. Technology is partly to blame and society can take the rest of the fall as we’ve allowed them too much freedom and with freedom comes choice. Too many choices results in a lack of commitment hence the vicious cycle that is often online dating.

What have we learnt? Other than hindsight is a beautiful thing that we can learn from? Well, as always, communication is key, be open, be honest and most of all be authentic. If that’s not you as a person then don’t try and be someone you are not. Life is too short to wear a mask to the majority and show the real you only to those in your inner circle. In terms of the rules to quote Josh Brolin’s character Matt Gravers in Sicario “Fuck it All”, rules are there to guide us but some of them need to be challenged and often broken or rewritten. We are big proponents of following your mind, body and soul. Yeah we might sound a little hippy saying that but intuition is something we should all take a little more notice of and follow. If it fucks you, learn from it but most of the time it’ll steer you on the right path and put you where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing at that point in time.

Just because the rule isn’t written down doesn’t mean it’s not a rule, there are many of them and to reiterate what we previously said some of them are just polite and some of them just help to make us decent human beings. Some of them are old fashioned and need to be torn down like the Berlin wall, some need to be challenged like America, would a despotic dictator and some of them we can just keep as they make sense. Like all things in life everything is interpretive and can be taken and interpreted differently by everyone. Maybe take that empathetic approach as we suggested or just continue to accept them as the social normal. Whatever you decide all we can urge is that you follow what you want, there are enough sheep in the world already without adding more to the flock.

Until next week we’ll leave you with some wisdom and words for the wise. If you find yourself in a situation that socially dictates you follow some archaic rule whispered centuries ago think about it before you follow it. If it doesn’t sit with your values then don’t follow it, plain and simple. Unless it’s an actual law then follow it, unless you feel you look good in an orange jumpsuit. Then go for it we say, but don’t start complaining when your new cellmate Trent starts spooning you without consent. From the team we wish you all a happy corporate card day or valentines day for those that like to celebrate it. We like to celebrate love every day here at a mind of its own, not just on days we are told to by large corporations looking to fill their pockets. So until the next one all the best cobbers…

Nocturnal Creatures…

We wondered how and if we were going to be able to top a preppers guide to the Apocalypse in which we graced your screens with a couple of weeks ago and the boffins in the idea factory have managed to do just that. They’ve come up with an idea for a blog that will have you sitting up and paying attention for months to come. Well at least till the event starts then your rapt attention may start to wane. As we enter into the second month of the year it’s we’ve seen plenty of changes to the environment and the landscapes around us. We’ve seen people go and people come from the world but we’ve continued writing and will continue to pump out the blogs one by one until we fall over in decades to come. But let’s be real with technology we could be posting things from the grave, now that’s a scary thought and we’ve shared plenty of them with you. Heck we talked about the apocalypse last post and a week later people were getting a virus from Mexico’s favourite beer.

So as we do every week the great people here at A Mind Of Its Own have put together yet another great time waster for you to read on the train home or whilst on the toilet at work killing some time out of your super busy day. Wherever you read us from doesn’t matter as long as it’s not whilst driving or operating heavy machinery and more importantly that you enjoy reading it. But you must because you keep coming back each week to see what zany ideas the boffins have come up with in the basement for us to write about. That being said we’ll crack on and get into this week’s piece, as always feel free to leave a comment in the comments section. Yes even if it’s mean, we love criticism but don’t be surprised if we call into question your IQ.

It’s a big year for athletes around the world, another year, the final year, in the Olympic cycle (every 4 years for those that didn’t pay attention in primary school) where they get the opportunity to take home a gold, silver or bronze and if they don’t take home one of those they’ve always got the memories of representing their nation on the world stage. As always you know we’ll be there to give you the in’s and outs, the news and just like the Commonwealth Games a review of sports and who to watch out for in Tokyo. There was something that caught our eye even before the first athletes had marched into the stadium for the opening ceremony which we believe will be on Saturday the 25th of July for those wondering at home when the games were (24th of July to the 9th of August). It was something that gave us a good chuckle but also got us thinking once again about practicality. Before we knew it our minds had made their way to the proverbial gutter.

Having spent time around athletes particularly those who have participated at the elite level and in a couple of cases walked away with a gold medal or two, it was interesting to get an insight into the shenanigans that come along after the pressures of competing on the big stage are over. What happens when you put athletes of the opposite sex in a little village and pile on years of pressure to compete on the world stage in one event. Well lets just say when it’s all said and done they like to let their hair down a little, some more than others. In some cases a lot, that four year cycle of non-stop training, living, eating and breathing their sport needs to be vented, after all as much we might idolise them and put them on a pedestal from time to time they are only human.

So whilst flicking through the Socials, as most people have become accustomed to on a daily basis, the other day we came across a piece on Tokyo 2020 more specifically it was focused on how environmental the games were going to be in particular the recyclable beds being installed in the athlete village. It did get us thinking about some of the stories and statistics we had read over the years about other Olympics, you know the one that happens after the actual Olympics. While everyone will be going for gold the spirit behind this year’s games is Green with the environment being front of mind for the organisers. Speaking of those going for gold, they will be sorely disappointed to find out that should they win their event they’ll be wearing a recycled phone around their necks. Fingers crossed for the latest smartphone medal winners. We did say the games were going Green. Further to the recycled phones as medals, the athletes beds are made out of cardboard, yeah that’s right the bases of the beds our elite athletes are sleeping on are made out of recycled cardboard.

We couldn’t be happier that the games are going Green, the more environmentally friendly we are in all aspects of life, the better in the eyes of this here blog. Cardboard bed frames however come into question as we are putting the sporting hopes and dreams of a nation, to rest on them each night they spend in the athlete village. Rest assured ladies and gentlemen the good folks at Airweave, the company that are producing the 18,000 beds of the athletes village have tested and then tested them again. Furthermore they can hold up to 200kg and have been certified sex proof. So unless athletes are planning an orgy of sorts the beds will comfortably hold 2 to 3 people or maybe up to 4 gymnasts they seem to not weigh a lot. Either way athletes can still go for gold between the sheets. But there are no prizes for coming first.

Come the end of the games the beds will be turned into paper products and the mattress yes even the mattresses are going to be recycled into plastic products. The fact that they come in three separate pieces so the athletes can adjust how firm or un-firm they want their sleep. It might not be such a bad thing after the unspeakable things some of the beds throughout Olympic games history have had to endure. So perhaps being Eco friendly is also a good way to destroy any long lasting memories for some of the athletes who don’t want a reminder of their post event celebrations with Ivan the weightlifter or Anna the Scottish boxer.

When the events are done and the athletes can finally relax, the question on everyone’s mind now that we’ve established you can have have sex on a cardboard bed and the homeless community will tell you that you most definitely can have sex on a piece of cardboard. That question is how many athletes end up having to go to the doctor when they get home because they’ve picked something up from someone in the village. And if it wasn’t the question on your mind it should have been! The Olympic games are renowned for the sex romps that go on after the events. If you look at the statistics of condoms handed out at RIO there were 450,000 that’s a whooping average of 42 per athlete. We don’t know about you but that’s a lot sex in a short period of time. Either that or they are using them to start the next world water war. Then again that wouldn’t be very green of our athletes would it wasting all that water and condoms. It seems like each Olympics the stakes are raised in the opportunity to catch a sexually transmitted infection, either that or athletes have control issues once the events are done.

If you look at the trend year on year the amount of condoms handed out at the games has gone up and up. Just last year at the Pyongyang Winter Olympics the usage of Tinder went up 350% during the games resulting in 110,000 condoms being handed out, which still isn’t the highest amount in the history of the Olympics but ranks up there in terms of Winter Olympics to date. We know the Japanese don’t do things half arsed and when it comes to protecting yourself in the bedroom they’ve come up with a few high tech options that include traditional Japanese artwork because every man likes to look at a condom before sticking it on the old fella and admiring the artwork now emblazoning his penis. The number of condoms to be handed out is still to be decided but the likelihood is they’ll lean towards a similar number as the London Olympics. Around 150,000 for those that like to play with facts and figures.

What are these high tech options you’re asking? They aren’t actually that high tech in fact they were pretty boring, perhaps pleasurable, but rather boring compared to where our minds went. Thoughts of talking, robot condoms that give you tips on how to spice it up or release heat or cooling or at least something cool filled our minds. Nope this is as high tech as they get, the ultra-thin 0.01mm condom. In addition to its barely there construction, these Japanese condoms are made of polyurethane, a material suitable for people allergic to latex that is standard in the construction of many condoms. OK so they are good for people allergic to latex but being thin doesn’t make them hi-tec it just makes it feel more like skin on skin. The one thing we do know is there will be plenty of athletes to ask post Tokyo 2020.

We’ll save our review of the games for later in the year but there are 33 different sports both individual and team based across 339 events (50 Disciplines) from roughly 206 countries. Is it just us or is that a lot of male and females congregating in the one area for a couple of weeks while emotions, hormones and everything else is running high? Yeah it’s no wonder they want a release after all the years of blood, sweat and tears to be in a position to represent their country on the world stage. After all they are human like the rest of us, despite the fact place them up on that pedestal. So yeah things could and probably will get a little freaky after the games for some athletes at least they will have 40 something condoms and yes they are handing out female condoms as well to protect themselves with. Some of them will even have pretty Japanese art on them according to the games organisers.

In summary Tokyo sounds like fun if you’re into sleeping on cardboard bed frames your mattress is also able to be recycled, your medal if you win one isn’t actually a medal but rather a phone that’s been recycled and you want to risk getting the Coronavirus. Well there will no doubt be a few athletes suffering from beer inflicted ailments after they finish competing but the risk of contracting the Coronavirus is slim to none unless they decide to take a quick trip to Wuhan in China and kiss a few people. So it’s safe to say that the athletes will be well protected in Tokyo just potentially a little uncomfortable as they become nocturnal creatures between the sheets.

For now we’ll leave you thinking about the beds, the dingers and pending pinnacle of sport that will grace our screens in the middle of the year. We’ll be rooting for the green and gold just not in the same way some of the athletes will be in the village. There’ll be plenty of updates and no doubt some reviews of the stars to watch. Until then there’ll be a couple of blogs about this and that as we done. Enjoy your week amigos!

Bigger Than My Brain…

As we stared out the 3rd floor window of the nondescript office building in which we conduct our day to day job we couldn’t help but think of a post apocalyptic world. As smoke from what will go down in history as one of Australia’s biggest crisis blankets the skies and the news reels continue to show devastation, loss and tragedy across the nation. Our minds wondered to what would happen and where would we go if the world was to descend into chaos. After all there are plenty of maniacs in power who would love nothing more than to leave there stamp on history that have come close to kicking off the world’s next and what would likely be the final world war. Or the fact that we have pretty much poisoned the planet beyond repair in some places.

Perhaps it was waking up at 9am on a Sunday morning thinking it was earlier than it actually was due to the sun being blotted out by the thick smoke or perhaps it was not seeing blue sky for weeks on end that got us to start thinking about our mortality and what we’d do if there was an event that forced us to literally pack up and run. Then we began to think about what we would need and what we would take with us in such an event was to happen. Unlike all the crazy Yanks, Australians aren’t so big on prepping, we are sure there are the crazy, rich likely cashed up bogans who have no doubt built a fallout shelter or have a bug out plan in place but in general should an apocalyptic event unfold itself, most Australians would not have a clue about what they would do.

There are plenty of apocalyptic events that could have people heading for the hills cause lets face it, if there ever is to be an apocalypse the last place you want to be is in a major population center. Particularly if World War Three is to breakout, major population centers would be targeted right after major military installations. Sadly we have researched all this but on the flip side the best place to move to would be New Zealand. Well that’s our thoughts and we think as we unpack this week’s A Mind of Its Own everyone might start to agree with us for a change. So without any further segways and side notes lets get on with this weeks blog and put together a plan for surviving the apocalypse.

Firstly we need to understand what if anything could these apocalyptic events be and what would they consist of, who would they initially effect and what would the ramifications be if any? In order to answer those questions we’ve asked our chief investigator Google to do a little research and begin combing through articles and research papers. We like to keep everything we write about as close to the truth as possible after all why let the truth get in the way of a good story. But in all seriousness if the science is available to back up our blog we’ll always take it. So to start with we’ll look at the very unlikely but potential threat of a Zombie apocalypse.

We were hoping to find some good news that a Zombie apocalypse was something that could never happen but thanks to science we are now armed with the possibility that it could become very, very true. Reading one particular article it unpacked the 5 most likely causes behind a zombie apocalypse and to be Frank for a minute (We had to ask him if it was ok) they scared the absolute crap out of us. Like change your jocks scary. The first of the freaky 5 to cause a Zombie Apocalypse is Brain Parasites according to Google they turn victims into mindless, zombie like slaves. One in particular Toxoplasmosa Gondii is terrifying and to make matters worse half the human population of the earth is already infected with it. The likelihood of it turning us all into zombies though would a little human intervention and a perhaps a megalomaniac with a highly evolved version of the parasite that had been weaponised.

Then you have neurotoxins whilst not rating highly on the likelihood scale there have been cases documented in Haiti where the word Zombie comes from of Alkaloid toxins being used to control people and make mind numbed zombie like workers who harvested sugarcane. We then turn to a rage virus type scenario something like a super mad cow disease where people turn into mindless killing machine and don’t forget that we are only one brain chemical (Serotonin) away from that happening. We already have a human version of mad cow disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and again it would only take some mad scientists to play around with it in a lab to make it a weapon. Moving on to Neurogenesis or basic stem cell research, yeah we spoke about animal/human hybrids a couple of blogs ago but what about regrowing dead brain tissue? You wanted the undead well science is finally delivering, it is now possible to re-grow the brains of comatose head trauma patients until they wake up and can walk around again, throw in the new ability to keep dead bodies in a suspended state of animation and we are starting to sound like a science fiction novel but its all true. Whilst the cortex may die the stem remains so you will be able to function but not actually have any thoughts, feelings or emotions.

Finally we have nanobots yes nanobots, tiny little microscopic, self-replicating robots that can invisibly build or destroy anything. Studies have shown with a decade we’ll have nanobots that can setup and replace neural pathways in your brain. That’s right ladies and gents little mini self replicating robots will be able to rewire your thoughts. So the likelihood of the robot uprising now takes form in the shape of a zombie apocalypse. Think about it, the nanobots are programmed to self replicate but once the host dies so do they. So to preserve themselves they’d need a new host, therefore the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a healthy victim so they can steam in and set up camp. And just like that it’s eat, sleep, bite, repeat and the robot zombie uprising is a real thing.

So what are the other possible apocalyptic events that could have us scurrying like rats leaving a sinking ship? The most likely yet unlikely event is a robot uprising, according to Artificial Intelligence researchers the likelihood of us having a robot overlord is quite slim but if it did happen our robot overseers could combat some of the other threats. The most likely apocalyptic event in which we’d need to bunker down somewhere and then scavenge till the end of days would be a global pandemic or nuclear war and with Trump in power and happy to divert attention away from his pending impeachment trial the later is the most likely to happen as he rattles sabers and assassinated people from the skies above. If it’s not Trump shooting missiles at foreign dignitaries to spark off a war it’ll be climate change deniers that are our undoing as we kill the earth.

If you are wondering if it’ll be something from space that does us in, the chances of an asteroid taking us out is one in 10,000. We are more likely to be wiped out by volcanoes and they are the most underrated threat on the matrix we’ve developed. The sleeping giants that could erupt around the world and blackout the sun while blanketing the earth in ash. There is also the possibility of aliens invading in which we would recommend you hide down the deepest darkest hole you can find and don’t come out for at least a decade. Perhaps Hollywood had been quite prophetic in some of their alien invasion movies over the past century. There is always over population and or of the next big freeze, heck there have even been suggestions that we could be attacked by something below us lurking in the depths of the oceans or below the earth’s surface. There are several other possibilities but these were just the ones that actually made sense or had a likelihood of possibly ever happening.

Chances are that if the world was coming to an end any semblance of order would quickly dissolve into chaos. People would riot and looters would roam the streets. From there things would begin to look a little like the Tom Clancy video game franchise The Division. Whilst we’d like to think people might actually behave in a manner which is respectful and considerate that just doesn’t seem likely and if history is any indication of human behavior in times of chaos we definitely become a bunch of words that mum only allows us to use in the paddock. In times of chaos we change our morals values to benefit ourselves over others so it’s no wonder that people loot stores and gangs lord themselves over others in times of crisis. The end of the world would be one such crisis.

The more research we did, the more we realised that unless you’ve gone to a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) course which are generally reserved for military personnel with a role designation that could see them behind enemy lines, or have studied prepping and began to put in place the resources and tools required to survive most of us are very much under prepared for any of the likely apocalyptic scenarios that we could be faced with over the next couple of decades. Even the basics evade most people, how many people are trained in self defense or hand to hand combat, not to be confused with hand to gland combat which would only take a quick google search for most people to become experts in that one. Getting back on topic how or would you be able to defend yourself if you were required to? There are several books that outline the basics of survival and having read several of them when researching for our pet project we can highly recommend the following if you are interested in staying safe and surviving.

Safe by former 22 SAS Trooper Chris Ryan is a good read and then there is the Violent Nomad series ‘100 Deadly Skills’ by Former Navy Seal Clint Emerson, that outlines survival tips and techniques for all scenarios and environments. There is also the SAS Survival books written by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman also a former SAS Trooper. There are several other survival books that have good information but we’ve found the above books fonts of knowledge as well as having good example pictures and providing a B.L.U.F or Bottom Line Up Front, in other words there is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text to facilitate rapid decision making rather than placing it at the end of the text.

So we now know what we can start to prepare, how we are going to survive them. In order to do that we need to prepare for all likely scenarios. A little like the scouts we’ll always be prepared or at least that’s what we think the scouts motto is. What would you put in your end of the world kit? Well we think we’d start with a vehicle or two and our vehicle of choice if money was no option to survive the end of the world would either be a suped up, all the mods & cons Toyota Prado armored up to protect us from either the infected zombies or the less fortunate trying to steal our prized wheels or a Land Rover Defender and yes it would have a machine gun turret. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if it’s the end of the world we want to be protected. Worst case we’d break into a defence base and steal a Bushmaster or a tank, we’d then find the armory and go nuts like a kid in the candy store taking all the toys we wanted and needed.

We’ve put together a list of things that are required for initial survival. First thing you’ll need is a bug out bag these suddenly chic survival satchels, also known as go bags, are typically lightweight military-grade backpacks stocked with provisions for at least 72 hours. Gray wolf Survival recommends a chain-saw blade stashed in an Altoids tin to harvest firewood. Feminine hygiene products are also recommended as something you should have in your Go Bag, even for men, to soak up blood from wounds. One of those things that you should have is currency. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make news, many people are quietly packing their bug-out bags with rolls of pre-1965 American dimes, quarters or half-dollars, which are 90 percent silver and available from coin dealers and precious-metals websites (silver is currently about 17 US dollars an ounce).

Imagine a true economic apocalypse, one that makes the German hyperinflation of the 1920s, with its wheelbarrows of near-worthless paper currency, look like a hiccup. To prepare for the worst worst-case scenario, some doomsday preppers prefer to stock up on daily staples like tampons, vegetable seeds and cigarettes (that timeless prison medium of exchange) to silver or gold as an alternative-currency. Liquor, particularly in easy-to-swap airline bottles would likely prove a hot commodity, since it not only deadens the pain of surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also provides useful off-label functions as a disinfectant or an ingredient in herbal remedy tinctures. In the event of apocalypse, bring condoms explained one prepper site. This may sound like a slogan from a sex safety campaign but condoms being featherweight, ultracompact and durable (nonlubricated, please) can be used as a makeshift canteen to store water, a fire starter or as elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game.

Should law and order on the streets break down after, say, a massive hurricane or nuclear-reactor meltdown, that condom slingshot might come in handy. But where guns are illegal or highly regulated what are defenseless, law-abiding citizens to do? “100 Deadly Skills,” by Clint Emerson is filled with improvised alternative weapons, like a collapsible umbrella lined with wrenches, Sure, you could master jiu-jitsu but if it’s really on, hand-to-hand self-defense will only take you so far. To balance legality with lethality in a bug-out bag, you have to go simpler hammers, hatchets, heavy tools. That roll of old silver quarters might come in handy, too.

In the event of a breakdown of the food supply that leaves the shelves of Woolworths and Coles bare, you will still have to eat. Many survivalists are placing their hopes of sustenance in rabbit, a high-protein, low-fat meat that is also being embraced as “the new chicken” by sustainable food types. By livestock standards, rabbits are relatively clean and quiet. They can survive on table-scrap vegetables or even grass, and as a bonus, yield valuable fur for improvised winter clothing. And boy do they breed. A doe can produce up to 50 kits a year, yielding 250 pounds of meat, according to researchers.

To master archery and broadsword combat or how to manufacture fabric, bread, ceramic cookware and wood furniture by hand, or to perfect the preindustrial arts of iron craft and tanning of leathers should Armageddon arrive say, in the form of a limited nuclear exchange, global pandemic or cyber mega-attack these hobbies could mean your survival. In other words, chivalry may not be dead after all. You just don’t want to be running around in a suit of chain-mail Armour chances are you’ll be a little slow.

So what we’ve worked out is that, if the world is coming to an end anytime soon your average Joe is not going to be prepared enough to survive for any lengthy duration. In case of a nuclear holocaust the safest place is New Zealand due to it’s lack of major military targets and it’s Australia’s forgotten ugly (yet beautiful, scenery wise) cousin therefore people often overlook they are also an ally of the great Satan. Plus most of New Zealand has moved to the Gold Coast. Everyone needs a go bag with at least 72 hours worth of provisions and tools you’ll need to survive. Having a plan is always a good idea and various iterations of that plan, make it even better. If you can get some self defence training it’s always a good idea even if an apocalyptic event isn’t coming. Ensure you have something to trade or a form of currency and lastly a little faith that it never comes down to you having to survive.

As we wrap up the conclusion is that it’ll only take a couple of deranged scientists and a world leader with an inferiority complex to make the Zombie apocalypse happen. Volcanoes are the most likely apocalyptic event, we’ve researched this way too much and now we are thinking we need to start planning for the worst while we hope for the best. It gets you thinking though and well life is too short for regrets or to be pondering crap like this, live in the moment and make memories that’s what we plan on doing. And just because you identify as a helicopter does not mean you can fly in times of crisis. Until next week we wish well and hope that we haven’t scared the absolute crap out of you. Sometimes it’s good to know that there are freaky things and not all science fiction books and films are made up…

I’ll Be Your Man…

Another week and we have to report the fires are still burning, the air quality in Canberra is still worse than Beijing. But we aren’t complaining things could be a lot worse and we could be burning along with the rest of the country. With New Year’s having been and gone many of us would have set resolutions aligning with our hopes, dreams and goals all in the aim of bettering ourselves as we enter into a new year and a new decade. Whether it was dropping a few kilos or learning to speak Spanish, whatever your resolution what people should really be resolving to is to stick to the goals they set for themselves. Break them down into smaller achievable targets that are realistic rather than going for the big bang approach which has been proven to rarely work. With that said it’s time we moved on to this weeks blog and a topic we are sure a lot of people around the world are interested in hearing about.

Dating is often a hard and soul crushing experience, particularly in the age of the internet, outrage porn, self help books, blogs and podcasts, post industrial, post feminist world. There are no longer clearly defined roles of in today’s society. That goes for both men and women, it also goes for those who don’t identify as either but rather as a helicopter or something else entirely. So when it comes to dating what are the roles, what are the responsibilities and more importantly what are the rules? We live by the rule of consent here at A Mind of Its Own, but we aren’t talking about sexual consent that is a given and defined by the line, No, Means NO! We are talking about consent to allow yourself to be comfortable and be yourself with people you want to date. As a good friend put being authentic is the best thing we can do to attract like minded and like value people.

What is often not outlined in the dating game, and let’s be honest it is often a game, because we can not and do not allow ourselves to be ourselves, is that unless you are happy with yourself and who you are as a person, you aren’t going to attract the people you want to be with. You can read as many blogs, books and listen to podcasts on dating advice but the crux of dating is that you need to be comfortable with who you are and what you want in life. Plain and simple put yourself first and yes it’s ok to be selfish and be who you want to be, not who you feel you should be for others. Whether you are male, female, a helicopter or identify as something else entirely you need to be happy with yourself and as we said earlier the happier you are with yourself the more likely you are to attract the people you want.

At the age of 33 the Boss man had everything going for him, he was happily married, he had a great job (Still has that job but not sure about how great it is), he was planning for the future including a little family of his own. He was in a good place mentally, physically he was looking OK (May have got a little Fappy, for those playing along at home that’s Fat Happy) but could have gone to the gym a little more. Come his 34th birthday though everything had changed, life as he had known it ceased to exist. The last thing he thought he’d be doing was dating again. In a sense he was starting again, for a man that wants a family he was at rock bottom, starting all over again scared the absolute shit out of him. He questioned everything, his hopes, dreams and ambitions. Would he have a family of his own?, Would he ever find that someone special again?. There was a lot of self doubt and a lot of destructive behavior that he thought he had left behind in his early 20’s. Over time he would realise he was being a massive douche and well that’s how we ended up with this blog.

What a shallow and wonderful world dating in the 21st century has become, it’s an adventure all on it’s own. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Happn and not to mention the specific hook up apps that are available. You name it and there is a dating site or application for it. But what’s it really like to date in today’s modern age of screen time and instant gratification. Well hopefully we can answer all the questions and more as we dive head first into the world of dating, we won’t be taking any self help books with us or cheesy pick up lines but we will be giving you a first hand account of what it’s like out there in the big wide world of dating. We won’t pull any punches or lay down and just take (Pun intended) we’ll give it to you straight. Rejection and all, it’s all part of dating and there is no point holding back anything as it would take away from the real experience.

Firstly it was worked out quite quickly that you need certain things to create a dating profile regardless of whether you are an attractive person or not, we’ll get to why being attractive gives you a leg up shortly. Firstly gym selfies seem to be a must, if you are male a topless flexing pic is always a good idea and if you are female a sports bra and some weights if you don’t do the gym then a beach selfie with your assets on display seems to be the go, helicopters we’ll assume shining rotor blades and if you identify as something else then take from one of the first two examples. Other things you will need is a photo of you drinking, a mandatory boozy photo seems to feature quite heavily just to show people you are fun, a photo with a dog is a must and if you don’t have one borrow one, we have two here that are available for hire throughout the year. They just need a little scratch here and there behind the ear and are very food motivated. Apparently a sense of humour is required and you will also need to have a primary school reading level to make sense of some of the bios you come across but more often than not, people do not list a lot about themselves it’s all part of the supposed mystery or they just post a shitload of emojis that make no sense whatsoever.

As we progress further into the blog we’ll list some of the acronyms we’ve had to work out or have deciphered for us by the boys and girls over at the National Office of Intelligence. We’ll also give you some tips whether they are helpful or not is a different thing but they do say those that can’t do teach. Dating what’s its purpose? Solely to find a mate, another half, someone to spend our time with, someone to share our hopes and dreams with. It’s a scary prospective whether you are just setting out on your journey or have been there and done that before but failed to get the t-shirt. When we spoke to the bossman the last time he dated Tinder and all the other apps weren’t around or were just coming in and solely used for hookups. He was part of the old school where you had to go and make a connection with someone face to face. You didn’t get to text back and forth for ages before you actually meet the person. As we developed a severe case of Tinderitis from swiping we began to uncover some things about the dating world in a town like Canberra. Firstly, it’s small and we say small we mean small, one of those places where everyone knows someone and there a less than 6 degrees of separation. Secondly it becomes easy to develop a reputation if all you are doing is sleeping around.

It’s also no surprise that you will come across people you know, but more importantly you will stumble upon people you’ve always found attractive or had fanciful flights of ending up with. Imagine joining up to online dating and having one of the first people you come across be your wife who’s just left you. It happened to the bossman and is probably why he went through such a hate phase of the fairer sex. Here’s the thing about dating in the 21st century, you will feel shallow at some point throughout your dating experience. But let’s be honest, if you don’t you may be somewhat narcissistic and could do with a trip or two to the psych. Looks are the initial attraction, we’ll always admit that, you are going to swipe on people that appeal to you from the list of things that you find physically attractive when you are looking for your for your ideal mate.

It’s biology, plain and simple, we all have that list of things that attracts us to people from a physical perspective. From there once you’ve swiped or liked someone, it’s a guessing game as to whether they will tick any of the other boxes on our ideal mate wish list. What one person finds physically appealing another may not, we are all different and are attracted to different things. Physical attraction is the initial attraction but with most people who aren’t just looking for the old “Netflix and chill” there are then the other attributes that are important. Intelligence, values, morals etc all play a part in what makes us select the people we do to be apart of our lives.

At some point you are going to feel rejection, you are going to wonder why after swiping your thumb or index finger down to the bone why you aren’t getting matches or why people aren’t writing back. You will wonder whether it’s you or something you have written, you’ll question yourself over and over again as you go around in the little dance circle that is internet/online dating. Firstly you need to work out why you are actually there, are you after a temporary fix, some gratification to know you are still attractive and still able to attract someone, are you actually looking for someone to share your life with or are you just there to get your rocks off and establish no emotional connections whatsoever. It’s all about intentions. No matter whether it’s dating, friendships, work, whatever it is your intentions will set the tone of what happens. You might hide your intentions behind an act but at the end of the day your true intentions will shine through.

We spoke about self-help dating books briefly in the blog and whilst there is a raft of them they will all give you different advice. Some will tell you to ignore women and play hard to get, others will give you a raft of pick lines and there are the ones that tell you to just be yourself and be vulnerable and try not to come across as needy. Ok so we’ve only read one book like that and it was Models by Mark Mansen. Yes the same guy that wrote The Subtle Art and Everything is F*cked wrote a book on dating long before both of those. In fact that’s how he got his start providing dating advice to men. Reading through his book it’s all about intention, honesty and being vulnerable and we break it down even further it’s about being yourself, the true person you are not the mask wearing that so many people throw on through their neediness and insecurities. While being honest is often hurtful people will thank you for it in the long run. If you are looking for a dating book, we do recommend you Models, the principles displayed in this book are applicable to all aspects of your life, not just dating.

When we asked the Boss-man what dating was like he summed it up in one word, Crap, dating makes you feel crappy if you haven’t worked on yourself and understand your values and what you want from life. The boss-man understood this but had not worked on himself enough to ensure he was ready for what was to come, for the rejection. In a sense he was needy, he was seeking validation and approval because he’d been hurt and didn’t have a good relationship with himself. Upon meeting a girl who ticked some or all of the boxes he would become over invested and despite the fact that he didn’t realise it he was being needy. The girl or girls he was invested in would often find this a turn off and split and run for the hills. Because they were less invested than he was, his over investment became a massive turn off.

Sitting with the Boss-man while he sipped a whisky and swiped away on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Happn we began to question how serious some people were about finding a significant other. Yes we know there are those that are on there for the sole purpose of instant gratification who are also slightly narcissistic, but then there are those people who have insecurities within themselves that don’t even post a picture of themselves. That’s the thing about the world of online dating you end up with people from all walks of life looking for all types of things. From ONS which is a One Night Stand, to people in open marriages, couples looking for a threesome, the Netflix and chill crowd, it’s a minefield to navigate and when people don’t put at least one picture of themselves, it’s like a lucky dip at the school fete. As it has so often been said you’re values determine your behavior when it comes to dating. That’s the entire point YOUR values determine your behavior not what you think others want, your values will ensure you do what is best for you when it comes to dating.

One thing people struggle with is the ability to be open and honest, to just be themselves and just say what they want particularly when it comes to sex. Women in particular feel they’ll be judged for wanting just sex and nothing more, they worry they’ll develop a reputation and it’s understandable given that for centuries, we (Men) have made them feel that way and in some cases made them sexually repressed. Online dating has allowed women to explore their sexuality and feel a little more comfortable while they do so but until we as a society can make them feel truly safe they’ll continue to be a little less honest about what they want for fear of being labelled a slut or worse, particularly in a small town like Canberra. Throw all that into online dating and you start to get a good idea of why it is such a minefield. It’s not just women who do it though men are the masters of doing it, it all comes back to intentions and sooner or later your true intentions will come to light.

There are no rules to online dating, so once you’ve matched with someone there is nothing left to do but start a conversation. There are many opinions on how you should start a conversation and what you should and shouldn’t say but at the end of the day it’s not what you say or how you say it but again the intention behind it. Just be open and honest and be yourself is the best advice we can offer you. You need to know what you are, and aren’t OK with and set those expectations for the start. If you aren’t into games then you need to be up front and let it be known you won’t tolerate games. According to several magazines, books, podcasts from relationship and dating experts women will actually find this more attractive. They say those that can’t do teach? Maybe that’s why we write a blog each week? Who knows but for now we’ll just continue to write about things that make people feel a little awkward.

What works for one person might not work for another, put yourself in comfortable environments, if you really want to get to know them don’t go into a crowded bar or pub where conversation is difficult the first time you meet them. Go for coffee or a walk, do something that allows you to have a conversation and really get to know them, that’ll tell you if you want to go on a second date or not unless all you really want is sex then do whatever has been working for you but again be open and honest about your intentions rather than playing the game and ghosting. Look we’ve all done it for whatever reason but we can guarantee you’ll feel much better about yourself just being honest with people about what it is exactly that you want. It’s partly why women often ask the question when you first starting talking to them “What exactly are you looking for from this?”. Time is precious so treat people with respect, don’t waste their time particularly if you wouldn’t like your time being wasted. That little empathy you’d want people to show you, you should be showing others it’s all part of being a decent human.

One question that comes up is when should you get off dating apps if you meet someone you like? Again it all comes down to intentions, you need to let that person know you are keen to see where it goes and that you are only interested in dating them so you can see where things go. From there, remove yourself from the online dating scene. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up right back on the dating apps and websites and hey we are all going to face rejection at some point in our life, some of us more than others but if you meet someone you want to get to know better and see where it goes remove yourself from online dating and be open about it. That’s our advice but you don’t need to follow it or listen to it for that matter, as the kids say you, do you! Again it’s all about your intentions.

So to sum it up online dating isn’t for everyone, it is often soul crushing and makes you feel shallower than the babies end of the local paddle pool and is more often than not fraught with twists, turns and upside down roundabouts you weren’t expecting. That’s not to say that you can’t meet people or that special someone through online dating, everyone has their own experience and will get something different out of it compared to friends or people you know who have or are currently dating. All we can say is that the more open, honest and yourself you are, the more likely you will attract the same qualities and values in a person. Your intentions and your values will define what and who you attract in the dating game. It’s like all things in life if your intentions are true and noble, you are open and honest with people and show some vulnerability you will attract the same.

Again we aren’t dating experts and probably shouldn’t be out here giving advice but we have been there, done that had the wedding band. Whilst the first time didn’t work out hopefully the second will and if not then third time lucky as they say. But until then we’ll follow our own advice and speak our truth, be a little vulnerable and be clear on our intentions. That’s all we can do and along the way, you lucky readers may get the odd hilarious dating story but we are in no rush to be in a relationship and at the end of the day we know the universe has a plan for us just like it does for you.

Until next week we hope you’ve all had a great start to 2020 and the new decade. It’s been tough for some of our fellow Australians who have lost people or houses in the bush fires and as we’ve done with the last couple of posts we urge you all to lean in anyway you can to help out in the community. For those of you dating and looking to find that special someone we hope 2020 is your year and if it’s not don’t give up there is someone out there for everyone. As always our advice is just that advice and we are by no means qualified to give dating advice other than the fact we are currently in the same situation as so many Australians, single and ready to mingle. So until next week we’ll sign off once again…

We Don’t Go In There…

A big shout out to the man affectionately known to his close friends as Bezos Junior, BJs or the Library Monitor for his suggestion for this weeks blog, ok well it wasn’t really a suggestion it was an article he forwarded to one of the team that sparked this weeks deep dive into the mysteries of the land down under and blew into a global scandal that was bigger the latest Kardashian Cheating affair. Speaking of mysteries does anyone know where to find decent ribs in the nation’s capital? There doesn’t seem to be a cinders chance in snow of finding some good ribs. Burgers yes, ribs, no and the cave men that write this blog need meat pronto. Anyway before we start dribbling too much rubbish we’ll get into this weeks A Mind Of Its Own…

The Moon Landing, Elvis, Area 51, JFK, Flat Earth, the CIA and even Australia, yes Australia the proud land in which A Mind of Its Own was born and raised is a geographic conspiracy theory and yet here we sit in the nation’s capital typing out the latest installment for you in a country that supposedly doesn’t exist according to theorists around the globe. Does that mean we aren’t alive and are an artificial intelligence gathering and growing datasets day by day or are we alive and we are all just plugged into the matrix? Did we swallow the blue pill or the red pill? So many questions and so many answers, most of which could be and are no doubt wrong but hey who are we to say what’s right and wrong, what’s real and what’s not? It’s a conundrum in itself ladies and gentleman.

Conspiracy theories, cover ups, scandals, myths and legends have existed for centuries, the rise of the internet (probably some conspiracy itself) however has led to the expansion of these ideas and the freedom for people with half a brain or no brain to post whatever they like, whenever they like. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. The internet however has given everyone with access, a soapbox on which to stand, allowing them to voice their thoughts and ideas to the world. It’s also allowed us to question the sanity of world leaders, self diagnose diseases and communicate with people we’ve never met before. As we read an article sent to us by the aforementioned Knox school for the rich kids Library Monitor, it got us thinking about all the crackpot ideas people had come up with over the years and why. The cover ups and scandals, the conspiracies, the myths and legends.

Where would one start? Well for the team we thought it was best to start in our own backyard and do a little digging to see what skeletons could be uncovered. What better place to start than the nation’s capital right, if there were any bodies buried, the answers would surely be here. After all, the people that are covering up things work here and flock here like seagulls to a chip when parliament is sitting. From the city with the giant penis (owl) statue, the lake that has it’s own fountain, the place made famous by its rules that contradict the rest of the nation, we bring you, weed, porn, fireworks and prostitution scandals. Wait someone has just pointed out that’s a typical week in parliament. We bring you Australia’s greatest hidden truths aka the Australian Conspiracy and cover up files. This is clearly the first edition and will need further additions to live up to that title. It’s a little like the Tim talks podcasts that never got off the ground.

In this edition of A Mind of Its Own we are going into the bowels of Parliament House to lift the lid on one of Australia’s greatest mysteries. As it turns out we weren’t really involved at all but it was an interesting topic to research. From our own version of Area 51 to the Bass Strait triangle, the occult design of Canberra, the city we currently live in and the disappearance of a beloved prime minister we aren’t short of a conspiracy or two. Nor are we short of a cover up or scandal as we said earlier, it’s a typical week in parliament when someone is being ousted for using taxpayer dollars to fund a holiday or watch poor young woman twirl around a pole. But there was one cover up that resonated and started getting us thinking. We’ll start with that. The Sandline Affair, what was it and how were we involved as a nation? Read on friends and you’ll soon be delighted with what could be the plot for a multimillion dollar action film starring a lot of white african actors of people like us doing really bad accents.

Sitting just north of mainland Australia is the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea, many Australian’s know it well due to the Kokoda Track campaign fought in World War two against the Japanese. But for over a decade the island nation fought a civil war between the government and the traditional land owners of Bougainville Island. Like most wars it was fought over land and resources. In this case it was more the resources and destruction of land, when a massive copper deposit was found in the 1960’s. Enter Australian mining giant Rio Tinto or Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) as they were known back then who established a mine on the island. At the time of its establishment the Panguna open cut mine was the largest in the world. CRA registered various traditional landowners but excluded women despite the fact they are seen as traditional custodians of the land in the matrilineal system. That was error number one right there and one that wouldn’t stand in today’s society. It wasn’t until 1972 that production started under the management of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). The PNG government at that point in time was a 20% shareholder. Starting to get a picture of where this is headed? Yeah you might be right…

The PNG Independence constitution at the time stated that land ownership was to just below the surface meaning that mineral rights belonged to the state. You can see where the traditional land owners might start to take issue with this given that at the time the mining operations provided 45% of Papua New Guinea’s national export revenue. The Bouganvillians had a very different concept of land seeing it as their lifeblood in political, emotional and social terms. Enter resentment, with substantial payouts going to certain landowner groups and not others you can see why it raised its ugly head. Now there are some of you saying to yourselves, when are they going to get to the good bit? Where’s the action promised earlier in the blog? Hold your horses it’s coming and Australia well we have a bit of a dark part to play in this true story.

With resentment often comes anger and when you aren’t being paid the royalties you were promised and your rivers are being polluted by the tailings for the mine and a belief that the land would never be returned to its natural state it’s only natural that you would become resentful. Heck we’ve been resentful over far less trivial things this year and the only thing that was polluted was our pride. By the late 80’s tensions had spilled over and one disgruntled landowner had had enough. Francis Ona who would later become one of the leaders of Bougainville Republican Army or BRA for short, led sabotage attacks on the mine and by 1989 his band of rebels had forced the mine into shutdown. It was the beginning of what would be a long and bloody civil war. From 1989 to 1998 atrocities were committed in the conflict known by the locals as the “Crisis” there has been no truth telling process or transitional justice. You want the numbers during the civil war it was estimated that over 20,000 people lost their lives. Various accounts of the conflict include reports of massacres, extra judicial killings, torture, mass rapes and disappearances just to name a few.

In mid 1994 Sir Julius Chan became the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, we are still questioning how the man who resorted to military intervention ever became knighted is beyond our understanding, maybe he just liked being called Sir. He started off with the right intentions and tried to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means however he failed to bring the Bougainville leaders Francis Ona, Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui to the table for peace talks. Enter the Private Military Companies (PMC), by early 1996 the peace talks had faltered, the ceasefire was no longer in effect and Australia was hosting meetings between the PNG government and PMC companies, namely Plaza 107 limited (Which would later incorporate Sandline International), part of the well known Executive Outcomes network. Also present in the meeting were representatives from Branch Energy. Now depending who you believe they are a subsidiary of Plaza 107 Limited. As the picture started to build and the more we dug we realised that as a nation we could have stepped in a lot sooner than we did to help create peace for our neighbours to the north. Instead we let them use sunny Cairns to host meetings between their new Private Military Contractor mates and heads of defence.

Over the next year there would be several more meetings between the now newly minted private military company, Sandline International under the direction of Tim Spicer, Prime Minister Chan and the PNG Defence minister. Yeah Cairns played host to several of them and the city that Juan Anotonio Samaranch so famously called out all those years ago to host the 2000 Olympic games also hosted a meeting or two. By Early January 2007 a proposal had been tabled and contracts changed hands. The proposal would detail how to end the entire conflict and reopen the mine but there would be one small hiccup that would rock the proverbial boat and put a stop to use of Mercenaries alongside Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel. There were plans to use Russian attack helicopters supplied by Sandline International to straffe the island and destroy the Bougainville (BRA) leadership. Ok destroy is an understatement they wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth. But the plan outlined the death of men, women and children, anyone within rebel held parts of the island would be wiped out.

Sandline International under the contract signed by the Papua New Guinea Government, would provide Special Forces Training, and basically an army of highly trained soldiers as well as equipment, tactics and planning to aid the PNGDF to retake Bougainville, the contract would include the following: 42 Mercenaries (including 2 doctors) (Mainly British, South African and Australian) all former special forces soldiers subcontracted from Executive Outcomes, 2 Mi-17 Transport Helicopters, 2 Mi-24 Attack Helicopters, 100 AK-47 Assault rifles, 20 Makarov Pistols, 10 Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers plus 1000 rockets, 10 PKM Machine guns with 125,000 rounds, 800 grenades, mortar rounds, clips, ammunition for rifles totaling 750,000 rounds, crews and maintenance for the helicopters, uniforms including boots and webbing, night vision goggles and various other piece of military equipment all for the low price tag of US $36,000,000 back in 1997 or todays price tag of $57,590,803.74 (For those of you doing the conversion rates at home that’s $83,690,955.99 AUD).

Half of the fee was to be paid upfront and the other half on completion of their assignment (Rid Bougainville of it’s rebellious leadership and reopen the mine), this is of course after Sandline International had already been paid $250,000 US to outline in detail Project Contravene and what it would involve to Prime Minister Chan and his Deputy months earlier before the contract was signed. The outline contained very little to no analysis of what was actually happening on the ground and rather focussed on assumptions of interference from foreign interests (Australia and New Zealand) to keep the PNG economy from flourishing by refusing to offer aid and supporting the Bougainville Republican Army (BRA) by letting them have an office in an Australian City, again the city is Sydney (Said in a spanish accent, thanks Juan). The same country who was hosting meetings between a Private Military Company and the PNG Government. Yeah that was some good sales pitch by Sandline International playing on all the things that were of concern to the current government leading into an election.

The Sandline mercenaries were tasked to “get the criminals,” by which the mercenaries assumed the rebel leaders on Bougainville. Sandline’s plan was to use helicopters to support and ferry an operational force of contract soldiers to do battle where they would defeat the BRA and force a negotiated settlement. In addition to armed force, the tactics used by the Sandline involved manipulating the media and using psychological warfare on the people of central and south Bougainville. This instigated fear in Bougainville and PNG as a whole. The Sandline deal met opposition from Port Moresby Governor Bill Skate, who described it as “a crazy plan” because it reflected a failure on the part of the PNG government to address the crisis and issues of landowner grievance and environmental damage.

By February 1997 Sandline Mercenaries were landing in PNG in preparation while Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer (You all remember him right?) lands at the same airport during the unloading of the Antonov aircraft carrying weapons but doesn’t question the military buildup until he is told of the use of Mercenaries to aid in retaking Bougainville. Prime Minister “Caterpillar Brows” Howard gives Chen a call only to be told that Australia needs butt out and mind it’s own business. Ok so by now you are asking yourselves what was Australia’s involvement in all of this and was there any mystery at all? Or are the team just digging through the rubbish (Segway here) for a blog piece? Well our involvement was limited right up until the time the Weekend Australian published a cover story by Mary-Louise O’Callaghan on the engagement of mercenaries to ‘blast’ Bougainville rebel leadership and the presence of some Sandline personnel in PNG (Wewak to be specific).

Sparkling international support and debate along with the leaking of several documents led to 10 days of civil unrest around PNG that almost resulted in an all out civil war. Between the rioting in the capital and the calls for Chen and his government to resign, the Sandline Mercenaries were rounded up and put on a plane under the surveillance and security of PNGDF personnel and sent home, all except for Tim Spicer who was arrested and would provide evidence in a Royal Commission over the use of Sandline and the signing of contracts by the National Emergency Council (NEC). Australia’s involvement comes in March of 2007 where we as a nation agree at the request of the PNG Government for an aircraft carrying weapons supplied under the Sandline contract to land and for the weapons to be stored by the Australian Defence Force.

Remember those Attack helicopters? Yeah they sat at RAAF Tindal just deteriorating for 20 years before the Department of Defence ordered them to be disposed of. Loaded up in a couple of shipping containers they were shipped off to the Darwin tip and buried in the hazardous waste section in the hopes of never being seen again. At the time that Australia took custody of the helicopters and weapons there was an ongoing dispute between Sandline International and the PNG Government. The dispute lasted for over a decade and left us (Australia) with little choice but to hold onto the helicopters? Here’s where the mystery kicks in!

What happened to the 100 assault rifles, 20 makarov pistols, RPGs and all the ammunition that was on the plane along with the helicopters that had been forced to land in the top end when Australia took custody of the weaponry. We know the final chapter of the Russian made helicopters now continuing to rot in a Darwin dump due to the use of asbestos in their construct but what happened to all the weapons? Where did they end up? We know the PNG defense forces doesn’t use AK-47s and they certainly don’t use PKMs so where did the long laundry list of equipment sent over specifically for the Mercenary force disappear to? We know if made it to Australia in the back of a large Antonov cargo plane. From their it’s a mystery and one that we feel we’ll continue to dig into over the next couple of weeks. A few news stories hinted at the possible use of Russian military rifles in gang wars and crimes throughout the nation. Could these be the Sandline weapons?

The entire duration of the “Crisis” was filled with one scandal after another, the Sandline Affair itself was layer upon layer of scandal between the government of PNG and Sandline. The way the contract was approved, the way they were paid and the use of the contractors are scandals in themeselves. The fact that after all this time former Prime Minister Chen is still backing his play to use a government funded PMC to resolve the conflict is a scandal. The man clearly not once thought of the landowners and their frustrations. The mine had kicked this all off and the government had done the wrong thing whether it be through greed or through some stupid government policy. The situation was something that could have been handled so much better had man not followed his usual instincts.

With enough controversy surrounding the company and links to Executive Outcomes, Sandline International would fold overtime but not before being linked to a couple more international scandals. The people of Bougainville head to the poles this month to vote on their independence as part of an agreement that was made more than 20 years ago during the peace process to end the bloody 10 years conflict on Bougainville. The Sandline Affair marked a period of uncertainty and instability in the history of PNG with the government wanting to use military action instead of hearing and actioning the issues from the landowners on Bougainville. We’ll provide you an update on the vote and any issues that may arise causing yet another crisis with Australia’s closest northern neighbour.

From the team here we wish you a happy weekend and look forward to reading through the suggestions for next week’s blog. Thank you once again to the man we know as the Library Monitor for this week’s blog idea and the endless sleepless nights of research that we actually enjoyed. We could have written so much more on The Sandline Affair, it was truly an international scandal that could have resulted in an all out civil war across PNG. Thankfully a journalist and PNGDF general decided to blow the whistle. Pressure from the international community was enough to force a change in government and bring about a peaceful resolution, there were still over 10 years of fighting and 20,000 people lost their lives and we have missing weapons that were at last count in our custody…

So until next week we bid you a fond farewell and look forward to gracing your screens with more mind numbing blogs on things that tend to come out of nowhere at us. If you are interested in hearing more or going into more depth around the Sandline Affair please contact us and we’ll provide you with useful links and documentation providing a more indepth look at PNG and the history of the Bougainville crisis, Sandline Affair and Project Contravene. Adios amigos…

Fuck Authority…

Apologies to our beloved fans and friends, we’ve been incommunicado for a couple of weeks now and you have all been very patient while you’ve waited for you next installment of A Mind of Its Own. Well we have some good news and we guess some bad news. The good news is you’ll no longer have to hear about the gorgeous weather of Queensland and Northern NSW or our team outings to the beach. And the bad news we are now in the thick of it, we are in the Nation’s Capital where it all happens and we’ll be able to keep you updated with all things legislation, legal and political as well as our usual anything goes twist on the topics that no one wants to talk about but everyone wants to hear about.

It’s not often we go on a rant but when people start attempting to jam values down our throats you can be sure it gets our goats. They say anger should be tamed and is the rawest of emotions well when you start to talk to the team at A Mind of Its Own about values and what you want to see from them. It certainly makes for an interesting conversation as well as an interesting blog that we put together outlining all the contradictions against the values that are being set out in which we should follow. For those that personally know anyone who has put time an effort into writing for this blog, you know that we have our own set of values, our own code that we live by. As a coach that we didn’t really get along with once said to us “You are only as good as your word”.

What made us start to write this was a little injustice, a little anger and a little in the fact that we feel we have and are good at what we do whether it is writing this blog or our day to day job that pays the bills and keeps the lights on here. You can tell us what to do, you can micromanage us but at the same time we work best when we are left to get along with whatever it is we are doing. Values to us are going to be different for each and everyone, they are a personal choice and they are compass on the path to morality in our eyes. A guiding light if you will, what you value, who you value and how you value those those things in your eyes reflects on you as a person. So it’s safe to say when we see someone talk about values only to steer clear of following any of them or completely ignoring them in the face of greed and corruption we tend to become a little irate.

Companies do it all the time, they’ll create corporate values employees are to follow as part of their contracts and yet the higher up that corporate ladder you climb the less likely you are to actually follow any of them. Call it corruption, call it greed, call it whatever you want but let’s be honest most of us aren’t great a wielding the power that comes with being a corporate bigwig working for multimillion dollar company. As you can imagine there are some passionate and potentially ego driven thoughts on this as we watch all these companies with a corporate responsibility to make the world a little better for those less fortunate. However most people running these companies tend to have some narcissistic traits that allow them to only think of themselves and the bonuses that will come their way. Do they then take these values into their personal lives?

One could only assume that would be the case, however the psychology behind it all it quite interesting to say the least. We can only assume and we all know assumptions tend to make and ass out of you and me as they say. So how do you go about working out what is important to you in terms of what you value in life. In a way this all ties back to the choices that you will be faced with throughout your life. What we fail to realise is that a lot of the choices we make will be underpinned our core values. These values tell us what kind of people we are, or want to be and provide us with guidelines or imperatives for our actions. We are somewhat governed by our values as they influence our decisions. But how do we choose our values and align them to to our lives, and all that we do?. Well let’s attempt to answer that for you, as well as outlining how big corporates shit all over their own values all day, every day in the quest of dollars.

Firstly what is a value? Well there is the dictionary definition but we are much happier with the definition given by Barb Markway and Celia Ampel in the ‘Self Confidence Workbook’. “Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity,”. A lot of our values are handed down to us from our parents, our teachers, if you are religious than we guess religious leaders and finally from our societal environments we live in. Over time you will have somewhat rebelled and turned your back against those values or changed your mind on having some of them at your core as you’ve learnt about yourself and the world around you in which you are continuing to grow. Most people will decide on 6 to 8 core values which will steer them through life. They may change some of these throughout time as they reassess life but for the most part they will remain the same.

If you are unsure about your list of values or would like to clarify them, the first thing you need to do is create a list of values and for your sake make it wide ranging. The broader the list the better or you can just go on the internet and hit Google up for a list of values in order to help work out what your core values are. Dr Russ Harris has kindly provided such free lists on his website. From here you can pick your 6 to 8 values and hey by all means change them if you change your mind, it’s a good activity to do every now and then. Words on your list could be as following as an example, Financial Security; Compassion; Health/Fitness; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Dependability; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Gratitude; Love; Connection/Relationships; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Self-Preservation; Security; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Calm; Freedom.

There are several other ways of working out what your core values are and labelling them, another way is to look at people you admire or love the most and why they are so important to you. By doing this you think of the values they embody most. You could also see a career counselor or life coach seeing as our values are a defining factor in our career choices. There is also online inventories and looking at yourself and learning, we also have the good and bad in life to look at that will help us with deciding on our core values. Most of you will already know what you value the most. It’s often just the reminder or prompting we need to remember them and solidify them in our minds. What we don’t remember though is we’ll often have values conflicting at any given time throughout our lives. At any given moment our values can be called into question, many of us often pay lip service to values or lose sight of our values as new and exciting things come into our lives.

Sometimes you’ll have to defend your values against difficult people, such as psychopaths, extreme narcissists, and master manipulators, who seem to be guided by negative values. With such people, it can be a challenge to stick to the positive values in your life. But that’s what will ultimately define your own set of values when you are faced with challenges that require you to block out all the outside noise and negativity to make your own choices in which people will want you to follow their behaviour and actions. It’s all part of not being the sheep and part of the flock and standing as a lone wolf on the periphery of the field watching and waiting to act. But when we look at organisations who define their values, they tend to want sheep, no wolves allowed because apparently being a good corporate citizen means you can’t and shouldn’t have an opinion or act on your own. You can think it, just don’t show it as it will no doubt shine a light on the values that are never upheld.

Take corporate company, we’ll call them Corporation A, they decided they needed 7 core values in which all they wanted their staff to abide by and demonstrate. There is just one small problem which you will soon see as we outline the values. Now there is no rule to how many values you should or shouldn’t have. Each of us will find our core values and priorities them based on what we want and or need in our lives at any given time. In a way we have our core values followed by our subsidiary values that will interchange when we require. Well that’s our take on it anyway now back to corporation A.

According to the company website “Values are the behaviours we want to see” sits above there Seven (7) core values. The seven values in no particular order along with their little spiel about each of the values are as follows:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success.
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers.

Written like this they seem fairly reasonable and like values most good corporate citizens would want to get behind and support but when put into place would most corporations actually live up to and follow their own core values. Maybe from the outside looking in, they are and when speaking to clients it will look like the values are followed and supported but that is often far from the truth. Big corporates are in the business of making money. As such they will say and do whatever they can to win your business. They will paint you a picture of a wholesome, supportive, inclusive organisation that has equality at the forefront of everything they do for you and your company. The sad truth though, behind that mask is a different beast who’s greed doesn’t align with their values at all. The values above start to look a little like this:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other. People will tell you that Trust is earnt and not given which we completely agree with however we do feel tenure and revenue generation should be taken into account when trusting your staff to do their jobs autonomously and with empowerment. Communicating openly with your staff at all levels is a sign of trust, empowering your staff is a sign of trust and doing what you say is a sign of trust. All things that are often overlooked by big corporate.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers. Respect like trust is earnt and the harder you work, the more you give, the more you should be respected in an organisation. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Respect in Multi-million dollar corporation often hangs on the price tag of your suit or the amount of money you make for the company in question. The more you make the more you are respected until you aren’t because you choose to speak up or think outside the corporate box.Your ideas may not gel with the big wigs and their thoughts about the bottom line.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace. In order for things to be simple it requires respect, trust and communicating with staff and clients, when we don’t do this, things tend to become rather convoluted and far from simplistic. People lose focus, nothing is ever clear and the workplace becomes an environment in which people do not thrive.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success. This is often overlooked by big corporations as they see value in doing what is going to make them the most money, not what is in the clients best interests. As long as they are making us money and decent margin there will be little collaborating and personalisation until it comes time to negotiate an extension to the contract..
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers. Owning your results would mean being empowered and you might have started to see a pattern here? All your values whether they are in the workplace or personal are interlinked. Organisations need to be trusting of their staff to empower them and allow them to become accountable.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself. While this should be the crux of delivery to all clients across all industries the all mighty dollar tends to drive whether or not a company is passionate about the delivery and purpose of said delivery to a client.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers. Linked to all of the above and the fact that we are continually learn throughout our lives it saddens us when organisations are only willing to invest in their staff and empower them as long as they can see the dollar signs flying back at them in the short term. We are all responsible for our own learning however working for a multimillion dollar corporation they should be putting in place learning and development plans for all of their staff no matter what level they are within the organisation. As they say you have to spend money to make money.

Unfortunately it’s not just Corporation A who have values and seem to only follow them when they are trying to sell themselves. There are those people who will continually pay lip service to their own values as they feel that they are what society wants them to value and show in their lives. It’s those people who often tend to also fit somewhere on the narcissistic scale and always have an excuse or someone to blame as to why they are the way they are. But enough about people and companies disregarding their values. You are the Captain of your ship and master of your soul so it is on you to decide what’s right for you in terms of your goals, values and morals. They’ll influence each other but at the end of the day you are responsible for you and you make the decisions that set you on the path you are now headed down. The next step is the right step, value yourself and chase those dreams.

Well that will just about do it for another week and our return to regular broadcasting. We are back and now settled amongst the politicians, fireworks, porn and now weed. Canberra the place where all things illegal become legal at some point after all the biggest hypocrites always tend to be the people running a country. Don’t forget if there is a topic you’d love to see us cover you can leave a comment of contact us via the contact page. We’ll make it special and give you a shout out for doing so and it’ll be given that Mind of Its Own attention and detail. So for another week we bid you a fond farewell and good tidings, speaking of Christmas is fast approaching and the multi million dollar consumer industry is already pumping out the hype and decorations. Adios Amigos…