Things We Lost In the Fire…

After last weeks foray into self-help books and people not being able to be themselves or needing to wear a mask to the world. We thought we’d dive a little deeper into the study of evolutionary anthropology and look at one of only a handful of men who have a number named after him. Once we’ve done all that we’ll attempt to make light of why we struggle when presented with so much choice and why our choices often lead to what is more commonly known as the ‘fear of missing out’ or as the kids tend to say these days FOMO. So as we kick of another week of A Mind of Its Own we welcome old friends and new friends alike to yet another addition of Australia’s favourite blog. The country just doesn’t know it yet…

Being a topic that has piqued our interest us for quite some time now we thought it was only prudent that we lend our hand to spreading the message that is the study of evolutionary anthropology and psychology. It’s only fitting that we start with the man that introduced us to some of the studies that captured our imagination. It was Mark Manson who pointed out Professor Robin Dunbar and his now famous number in a talk he gave about his most recent self help book ‘Everything is F#cked’ that he gave at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The team attended as part of our exploration into the self help world and it’s so called gurus. (See previous blog for more context around the topic). So who is Robin Dunbar?, What is the Dunbar number and how did he come up with it? All will be revealed below along with some of our own observations, calculations and salutations.

Robin Ian McDonald Dunbar, born 28th of June 1947, for those that are into Astrology he’s a cancer, yep a crab. The man hails from our motherland, yes England and we wonder whether he’s ever thrown out the convict title when referring to all of us in the land down under. An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist by trade he specialises in primate behaviour. However when asked what his research is all about Professor Dunbar usually responds with the following. He’s written multiple books on psychology, evolution, anthropology as well as scientific and research journals. Been interviewed on several occasions regarding the Dunbar number as well as had several people try to disprove his theory only to come back to the magic number around 150.

“My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights on how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these”.

So how did he come up with the Dunbar number and what is it? There is a complex answer and a simple answer to what is the Dunbar number and if you read on well explain how Professor Dunbar came up with it. But First things first. The Dunbar number, what is it? It is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation. There is some personal history and not just names and faces. That’s the simple answer, the more complex answer goes a little something like this. The way our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we form part of the primate family. Within that family there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit within a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within it but there is a natural grouping that averages around 150. The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.)

From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.

Firstly, it’s a little confusing as there is no specific number actually assigned as the ‘Dunbar number’, as previously stated above however 150 is a common number which is associated and the answer as to why will become more apparent as we explain how Professor Dunbar came across his numbering during a study. As to how the study came about well thanks to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Yes primates, whilst working on why primates spend so much time grooming each other he wanted to test a hypothesis that says primates have big brains and the reason why is because they live in a complex social world. Grooming being social, he hypothesised that all these things should be able to be mapped together. He started plotting brain size, group size and grooming time against one another in which he came out with a nice set of relationships.

According to the good professor, he had a light bulb moment rather early one morning around 3am where he wondered what would happen if he plugged humans into the study. After doing so he got a number of 150 connections, on first glance it looked implausibly small given that most people now live in cities. It turns out the number was the typical size of hunter gatherer societies. It was also the average size of a village in the Domesday Book (A manuscript record of the “Great Survey” conducted in much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by order of King William The Conqueror).

The number turns out to be much the same when you have better data available. An example of this is parish registers in the 18th century. County by county the average village size was once again 150, except for Kent which was 100. Professor Dunbar has no idea why it is smaller but hypothesized that perhaps there was a higher density of people with bigger brains in Kent throughout the 18th century. Unfortunately the records available can not prove or disprove this theory. A quick google search though did tell us that the population in England exploded throughout the 18th century which is contrary to the Dunbar number and the parish records that state the average size of the village was 100 people.

The professor further hypothesized that the number most likely dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 250,000 years ago and by going back in time and estimating brain size we can see community sizes on the decline. Through evolutionary strategy we evolved and adapted as a social species. Most animal species aren’t as intensely social as humans, apes and monkeys. They tend to pair up and mate for life unlike primates, who whilst they tend to mate monogamously it’s not always for life or the same partner. We guess the lesson behind that is there is something computationally demanding about maintaining close relationships over a very long period of time as we all know.

Ok so when we started out on this little exploration into the Dunbar Number we were under the assumption that it was a number based on connections you could have in your life, which is correct but we being the A Mind of Its Own team thought it was a little simpler than it has turned out to be. Like most topics we tackle it’s just raising more and more questions but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create the picture. So before we wrap it up for another week, we’ll answer two more burning questions and for once try to tie it all together in a nice neat bow for you, rather than leaving it ambiguous and unfinished as we’ve so often done.

The first of the final two questions is can we grow the Dunbar Number? Again there is a simple answer and complicated answer. In modern times we are caught in a somewhat of a bind as community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer type societies, when people weren’t living on top of one another. Days gone by your 150 would be scattered over a wide area but everyone shared the same 150. It made for a dense interconnected community that policed itself. You didn’t need lawyers and policemen. If you stepped out of line you more than likely had granny to answer to. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

The problem we face is the sheer density of people, it stretches our networks rather than keeping them compact. Most people will have friends scattered around the world who don’t know one another. This in turn means we no longer have interwoven networks, therefore leading to less well integrated societies. So the question now becomes how do we recreate that old sense of community. That’s a social engineers problem that needs to be worked around. The alternative is that we evolve bigger brains, they’d have to be much bigger and that would take a long time.

The second of our final two questions actually started out our interest in all this and we have written about technology and whether it has killed off social interaction on several occasions in the past. What role does the internet and social media play in the Dunbar Number? Like an onion there are multiple layers to this question. Can you have meaningful relationships online with the old number of 150? Well the answer is yes according to Professor Dunbar. Using the example of Twitter, we can find out what you had for breakfast from a mere tweet. Can we really get to know one another better though? Digital developments have helped us to keep in touch when in the past a relationship might have died through distance of various other circumstances, however due to our biology in the end we actually have to get together to make a relationship work.

As humans we still rely heavily on touch and as hard as the crazy science guys have tried we still have worked out how to do virtual touch, perhaps when we cracked that big nut it may lead to a true Dunbar Number? The last and final piece to our puzzle is where does choice come into all of this? Living in an interconnected world we have an abundance of choice at our fingertips. We have everything we could possibly need at the palm of our hands. Every aspect of our lives can be managed from a device and for every aspect there are multiple choices. If we look at social media and the amount of connections people have on average, most people would say they have more than the average Dunbar Number. Most of the A Mind of its Own team certainly have more than 150 followers or are following 150 people whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Ask yourself this question though, out of all those people who you follow or are following, how many of those people do you truly trust and feel an obligation towards to maintain your friendship. We can guarantee you that number won’t match the number you follow or thought. You may be able to arrange them into the various patterns of Dunbar Numbers but there will be some that float in between groups. So here’s our take on the whole Dunbar Number, the internet why the world is so ridiculously F#cked at present. Whilst many people will blame social media it was the internet that ruined the world. We (Humanbeings) thought that by providing each other with as much information as possible at our fingertips the truth would float to the top. That’s not the case our brains aren’t developed or evolved enough, if you will to compute that amount of data and work out whats fact from fiction.

The internet has provided us with freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what’s truth and what is a lie. The fact our thinking brain and feeling brain can’t make an educated decision due to the amount of data available has led us down the garden path in more ways than one. Unsubstantiated facts have have become the truth for many around the world as their feeling brains take over and that fact whilst not having any truth or in most cases science behind it, it now becomes their truth and the knock on effect is that each time they relay that fact if becomes more and more the truth they believe. Give someone too many choices whether it be selecting one festival to attend out of all them across a year, you are guaranteed that person will have some from of regret or FOMO.

In societal aspects this can be related to dating and the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony. The fact that divorce is on the rise, polygamy and polyamory are now both acceptable in society leads one to believe we now have too much choice when it comes to finding a mate. In a society of swiping left and right, we no longer base our connections on more than just looks and are we truly getting to know people? An example of this are the boys and girls who are seeing multiple people at once as they can’t decide on just one person through fear of missing out that someone better might come along. Again we have too much choice and aren’t making the strong connections we would have made back in the day before we lived in an interconnected world. In relation to Dunbars numbers a lot of these people would start in the acquaintance group and depending on whether a relationship developed or not they could move up or out of the larger number.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace.

So as we gift wrap this latest blog for you we can sum it up by saying, the internet killed the world and gave rise to anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and a lot of the internet’s other whack jobs. It’s responsible for providing a platform or soapbox to every man and its dog to play their violin and whinge their woe is me story. Or spew their hateful rhetoric across the internet. Whilst we are more interconnected than ever, we are not as interwoven as we have been throughout history and therefore our Dunbar Numbers stay relatively the same. Social media and internet dating sites and applications have given us too much choice and therefore we are not happy with the choices we are making. People no longer try to work things out due to this and sexually transmitted infections, apparently people didn’t like catching a disease are on the rise in 1st world countries. So all in all as Mark Manson put it, “Everything is Fucked” until next week do some thinking and work out who your 5 are. We know ours.

“Words are slippery, a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day”.

Boys On The Docks…

Welcome back, we are halfway through the year and on track to deliver you another exciting piece of writing. We think we’ve finally found the answer to why those Mexicans south of the border are officially the worst. Aside from being the home of great coffee, Australian Football and Australia’s underbelly of crime. So slowly you are starting to get a picture of why Victorians are the worst Australians. We say that in jest having lived there for a short period of time however and it would go against all our morales to tar everyone who lives down there with the same brush but we just can’t escape the evidence mounting up against the southern state of Australia.

You know by now the team here like to read and we like to be as up to date on recent events as possible. We are big fans of free press and appreciate a good investigative journalist article. Hence why when we were doing a quick social media scan an article on Vice caught our interest. The guys over at Vice have been doing some of the most hard hitting, insightful and explosive journalism for years now. They are the guys that will bring you the pieces that people don’t want to know about but will read and left wanting more at the end. So getting back to our mexican friends with a little help from the lovely folks at the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). We were quite interested in a couple of reports written by the commission regarding waste water. You heard right wastewater and we bet you didn’t know they were testing your toilet water for drugs.

Might make you think twice about what you are putting in your body as well as what goes down your toilet. But then again if you are putting things into your body that aren’t really meant to go in their then you are obviously not too worried about what’s coming out of you and going into the sewers beneath our cities. So let’s backtrack as the sampling of sewer water has us intrigued and we wonder how long it’s been going on right under our noses or in this case our arses. And just FYI they are only testing the water not your poo. Why don’t we start from the beginning because after all every story needs a beginning, middle and end. We have the end, that’s the toilet water that contains all your drug infested urine and feces but where did it all begin? And no we aren’t talking about the jungles of Colombia or Peru, or a caravan in some trailer park with a pill press or myth lab in it.

We are talking about the waste water testing scheme. Starting in 2017 the scheme tests wastewater. The studies and results are shared and sponsored by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Now in it’s 7th iteration the reports ran twice a year provide ACIC with a wide range of information regarding the drugs and alcohol being consumed and used throughout Australia. The program provides statistically valid datasets of drug use and distribution patterns across a large number of sites in capital cities and regional Australia, which are being used to build a comprehensive and increasingly detailed picture of national drug consumption. That last sentence was directly lifted from the ACIC CEO’s forward in the report. The aim of the reports and the data obtained is for ACIC to explore how they can use the data in the long run to combat the war on drugs.

What statistics are pertinent to the average everyday joe blow aussie you ask? Well considering the report covers over 54% of the nation, roughly some 12.6 million Australians, wastewater has been sampled. Spare a thought for the poor men and women who had to stick a vial in the shit infested wastewater to get a sample. That’s a job I don’t think we would want but someone has to do it. The statistics will surprise you, well we think they will surprise you, we were certainly surprised by some of the statistics. Surprised but not shocked because let’s be honest the war on drugs is somewhat of a failing. Governments try to fight the cartels and syndicates across the globe but at the end of the day money speaks to those in power and corruption riddles every government from the lowest levels right through to the top.

Here in Australia whilst we are somewhat lucky to be so isolated from the rest of the world, we also have our friends in the five eyes community to help us fight the war on drugs. From our customs and border protection teams to our navy patrolling the waters in which we are surrounded right through the police working at the street level working to stop the spread of drugs. We guess the teams at ACIC are also involved now with their shit water samples and universities who test said samples to see what Australians are shoving into their bodies on a daily basis.

There are 25 countries involved in sharing data from the wastewater and well guess what ladies and gentleman our fine land ranks quite high on the list despite our isolation from the main continents. When it comes to beating everyone we may as well be last because like Ricky Bobby said, “If you’re not first, you are last” and well ladies and gentlemen we only come in 2nd behind the US for combined use of stimulants behind the United States and well they are on the doorstep of Mexico who we all know love some feed and cocaine so they should be first. So what’s our excuse oh and if you wanted to know our number most used stimulant of choice around the country after alcohol and tobacco which we all know are both legal is Methylamphetamine.

After Meth its cocaine followed by MDMA so really that isolation isn’t helping us but keep in mind we are number out of the 25 participating nations, most of which are European and Canada. So if you included South America and Asia we may not rank as highly but we still take a lot of drugs whether that started out as band aid solution for people and morphed into a full blown addiction or you got caught up in the wrong crowd. Or you just do them recreationally when you are out and about or to relax from time to time, the long and short of it not is that your toilet water is now being tested and given the scientific advancements of the last 5 years it won’t be long till they can track it right to your toilet and the arse that drug residue came from.

Looking at the states it safe to say that our friends in NSW, Sydney in particular are paid too much as they seem to be doing the most Cocaine, while South Australia took out the Methylamphetamine award,Tasmania does the most MDMA, Northern Territory does the most MDA, the dirty mexicans aka Victoria has the highest consumption of Heroin, Tasmania make the list for a second time with the highest consumption of Oxycodone. The banana benders and South Australians share a love of Fentanyl. Northern Territory gets a second hit with it’s people consuming 5-7 cigarettes on average a day and if you are looking for who consumes the most booze stay in the top end because those mother fuckers love a drink in both their capital city and regional areas. Sorry for swearing kids, out bad.

We aren’t done yet, the South Aussies love the Mephedrone better known as Bath salts, drone, M-CAT, White Magic and meow, meow. We had to google its a synthetic amphetamine. New South Wales and Queensland share a love of synthetic psychoactives in Methylone recording the highest averages. And once again the South Australians love a bong or joint or two recording yet another high in the intake of Cannabis. Safe to say that Australia is a country that likes to sample a variety of legal and illegal drugs. Our cities tend to do the majority of them but the regional areas aren’t too far behind.

What can we take away from this little insight into Australia’s drug intake? South Australians love drugs, Sydneysiders do a lot of blow and Queenslanders love prescription drugs and well the Northern territory loves cigarettes and drink. The two really go hand in hand and big tobacco would be loving life should the industry not be in a steady decline already due to killing hundreds of millions over the centuries just as alcohol has. The only difference is they are both now regulated and heavily taxed in most countries but particularly ours. One thing the report doesn’t go into detail about is how law enforcement and the government are going to combat the war on drugs with their new data and information.

We did get some sweet acronyms out of the report though and a new love for the people that come up with these acronyms. Like SCORE which is short for the Sewage Core Group Europe, the group of countries that wade through their peoples wastewater to come up with the results for the continent. Which are then shared with the other participating countries who also share their shit and piss results contaminated with drugs. The next report from the ACIC is due out in the 3rd quarter of the and we are hoping that it’s just as fascinating the last seven reports have been. Will there be an increase or a decline across the states in drug intake will South Australia still be a hotspot on the map for drugs and alcohol?

We’ll have to wait and see and no doubt we’ll keep you in the loop and our friends over at Vice will no doubt have something to say about it all. We are always interested in seeing what our fellow Australians are doing along with the rest of the world when it comes to all things illegal. We’ll watch on with baited breath as we wait for the results and research the next steps to the war on drugs. It’s been one of the more interesting topics we’ve looked into over the years since we started A Mind of Its Own and we are appreciative of the fact that the ladies and gentleman over at Vice brought the ACIC report to our attention. We hope they continue to enlighten us and provide the intelligence needed to combat the war on drugs.

Below is the link to the ACIC wastewater report as promised by us:

https://www.acic.gov.au/publications/intelligence-products/national-wastewater-drug-monitoring-program-report

If you are enjoying the blog please leave us a comment or hit us up on social media, we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and yes we don’t mind shameless plug every now and then plus besides you our fine fans, how are we supposed to spread the word and grow the following for A Mind of Its Own and bring you more and more pieces that fill the void in your week and allow you to escape. Yes we know its not the same for everyone and that we each have our reasons for reading this fine blog but we know that for most of you it’s a little bit of a time waster and we enjoy writing it for you.

As we close on what has been yet another piece of time wasting, toilet reading material we’ll leave you to think about the ACIC report on your toilet water and the drugs. Until next week we’ll leave you with a riddle, what black and white and read all over? Yeah you know it, you know the answer and it’s a great place to start if you want to understand what’s going on in the world. There are plenty of things we are always unaware of until we read a paper or watch TV, most of the time the details are polished over. The world around us is full of education and answers you just have to open your eyes, ears and most of all your mind. So without further deliberation we wish you a warm week and you’ll no doubt hear from us again shortly.

Halcyon…

The Webster dictionary gives us several options as the meaning of the word Halcyon, but we’ll just go with Tranquil, Calm, Peaceful. All things that when you switch on the news seem to things within a pipedream. While there may be pockets of beauty that people would describe as tranquil we live in a world that is far from Halcyon. Most people would say there lives are quite peaceful but what about those that don’t know or ever feel they’ll have inner peace? What about those that suffer from mental health issue will they ever find their own Halcyon or at least a little peace of it that will allow them to have a day or days away from fighting the battle that rages day in day out with there own minds.

When we first started this blog and it’s aptly titled self we never envisioned that we’d actually write several pieces that were personal and a slight insight into the minds behind the publication. Reading back through pieces we can see why people would think that we are mad, or at least a little angry with the world. The world we’ve created for ourselves in a bigger world where all we can do is try our best and be who we are. Not who people want us to be, or believe we should be. Our editor-in-chief has spoken several times about his battle with Anxiety and Depression. About the ups and downs, the highs the lows and the times he’s had to crawl out of that pit and put himself back together like a giant lego set. He’s not alone in going through this there are millions of people around the globe suffering but this isn’t something we haven’t told you before.

What does all this have to do with the word Halcyon besides everything of course. Think of Halcyon as a place in your mind. Now take that image and ravage it with the worst mother nature has to offer. All that chaos and destruction of the tranquil, calm, peaceful place is now replaced with uncertainty and fear. The more information we absorb the further into pit we fall. The black surrounding you like a blanket enveloping your skin and swallowing you up, stretching tighter and tighter around you until you can’t breath. Yeah that’s why this week we’ve gone with Halcyon to point out that you can go from a peaceful existence to a world of chaos within seconds and find yourself at the lowest of lows, you find yourself at Rock Bottom.

So what happens when you hit rock bottom and have to build yourself up again brick by brick. Do you have people you could rely on if this was to happen to you? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what if? In today’s new age society we have plenty of life coaches that will tell you that you can’t think about the what if’s or have regrets because they’ll hold you back from obtaining growing, achieving and obtaining those future goals. But what if all those people are wrong and it’s not a bad thing to have what ifs and plan for the them. There is no reason you can’t have a future in which you protect yourself against a little pain and angst. Prior planning or preparation, prevents pisspoor preformances. The five P’s used by so many successful people around the world. That’s why people with Anxiety will often fall in a heap if something happens they hadn’t planned for or wasn’t part of their plan. They like to have routine and more importantly a sense of control.

Back to Rock bottom we aren’t talking about trying to prepare yourself for the worst but more so having some safety nets to fall into when the rug is ripped out from under you and your falling through the that floor towards the pit of despair. Because let’s be honest at some point in life we are all thrown a curveball or two that come out of absolutely nowhere and there is nothing we can do about it except stand there and swing. Swing with all we’ve got in the hopes of connecting and knocking it out of the park. There are those people that can bend and not break but for most of us that is not the case. Most of us break when thrown that curveball or proverbial rug is pulled out from under us. As we drift down through the blackness waiting for our bodies to slam into the bottom of the pit that for some people becomes bottomless, swallowing them whole, we are allowed more and more time to think. Time to reflect and this is where the what ifs come into play. By the time you reach the bottom your focus has turned to how in the hell are you going to dig yourself out.

Last time we check shovels and rope didn’t come at the bottom of a bottle but many a person turns to the bottle, while some people need heavier building equipment and find themselves nose deep in Columbia’s finest or Afghanistan’s brown being sunk into any vein they can find. The effects of drugs and alcohol on people’s inhibitions have long been documented throughout history. Hell the CIA and Army used LSD on soldiers during experiments and it was said to open their minds and mouths to things many had blocked out or forgotten. So it’s no wonder that a little dutch courage can have the tightest lipped people talking about their deepest darkest secrets and fears. Give them something a little stronger and they’ll tell you their unedited story word for word to the point your ears start bleeding. Every little nitty, gritty detail will come out, including things you didn’t need to know.

What does this have to do with the pit of despair and climbing your way back out or building yourself back up again. Well we are glad you asked because like always we have little insight and some advice we can provide. Like a shaken up bottle of soft drink it’s not going to spill over until you crack that lid open. Well to a lot of people wallowing at rock bottom in their pit of despair, drugs and alcohol are like those gimmicks people buy of those ridiculous TV advertisements to help them open tight lids on jars. They can often just have a placebo effect, in other cases they can actually work and crack the lid on all those thoughts and feelings that have been pent up well before but also during they time fell through the floor into the pit. Like Mount Etna erupting or that bottle of soft drink you’ve spent the last half an hour shaking. That pressure release can often feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. As everything spews forth onto the ground around you or the people around you.

Too often though that need to be able to talk and get things out, before it spirals out of control, leads a lot of people become dependant on the bottle, bag or whatever crutch they are leaning on to help them through the dark times. But once we’ve pulled ourselves from the pit and put ourselves into some serviable order it will only hold us back from putting the final pieces of our puzzle back into place to create a new or continue our way forward in life. Whilst everyone will tell you that everything is going to be ok on your way down and then on the way back up their is a period where you gaze up from the blackness and wonder if it truly will be ok. That’s before you stub your toes on those bricks and either start to build yourself back up, decide to solidify your foundation or just build a little hut to wallow in all your self pity like a human hermit crab.

Whatever you chose to do know that rock bottom is a place that we can all come back from, the bottom of that pit allows us a solid base to build upon time and time again until we become that person we truly are or the best version of ourselves. You can learn a lot about yourself, about the true you in the dark recesses of that pit. You can learn about the person you want to be, ought to be and truly are. Out of despair, sadness and pain heroes are often born and as we’ve learnt from history, if you just believe in yourself you are your own hero. We have the unique ability to be able to rebuild ourselves time and time again in any shape and form we chose that best suits our needs.

Lean on those around you, do what you need to do but remember no matter how black the pit there is always a light at the end that we can climb towards either on our own of with the help of friends and family. Look after your mind, body and soul, you’ll need them in the weeks and months to come, they’ll be your greatest asset in the rebuilding and climbing phases you will go through. Times will be tough there is no deny that but you got this far so hang in there a little while longer and you’ll make your way out of the pit, hand over hand, foot by foot, inch by inch. You can find strength you never knew you had in the strangest of places. To quote Ayn Rand, for those of you who don’t know who she was, she was ahead of her time and a brilliant author. Pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged it’s a great read and a classic.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

At Rock Bottom we have nowhere else to go, we have no other options but to either give up and as Ayn said let our our fire go out or to spark and ensure our hero doesn’t perish. As we close yet another albeit brief chapter of A Mind of Its Own we are reminded that life will throw you the unexpected, no matter how much you plan or prepare for it things will happen, they will creep up on you and they will hurt you. How you bounce back from it though is in your hands, you hold the power, not that black pit you find yourself in. Until next week, when you find yourself at rock bottom there is always options and always people you can lean on to help you climb. Adios Amigos!

Wicked Sensitive Crew…

It’s 2019 so one would think that people have the ability to overcome and adapt to the world around them, a world where people can be themselves without the fear of being judged or oppressed for their views and beliefs. That they would be free to ride the train in peace whilst reading a book. To not have to sit and listen to someone from another country preach anti-abortion and christian religious beliefs at them and a carriage full of people they don’t know. In an ideal world that would certainly be the case but in the world we live in where anything and everything goes, it seems to be the “norm” that anything that is deemed to be outside of the “norm” is strange and or just weird. Just like the guy on the Sydney train who, yes is entitled to his views and opinions should know there is a time and a place and that time and place is not on an evening train after everyone has had a hard day at work and just wants to wind down before getting home to their loved ones or pets.

Having spent plenty of time on trains across the country we and understand the need and want to just have a peaceful ride to your final destination. Why do you think so many people have headphone in and stare at their phones or tablets from the moment they get on the train to the moment they step off onto the platform. People like to use the time to decompress, the last thing they want is a raving American pushing religious beliefs and telling everyone he loves them. It’s bad enough we have a muppet in the white house let alone a religious nut on a train. If we were on the train we wouldn’t have been as nice as the man who eventually spoke up and asked him politely enough to shut up. As human beings we need to be more sensitive to others particularly in confined spaces. They say a comedian needs to be able to read the room with certain jokes, well the same goes for those who wish to get a point across as we said there is a time and place you just need to know when that time and place is.

Which leads us into this weeks blog, something that we looked at a lot over the week that has just flown by something that all our friends, family and followers out there with mental health issues might understand, something that is slowly changing and softening over time. In days gone by a man was defined by his masculinity, he was worshipped for his womanising ways and controlled the world through manly ways. But as Beyoncé said “Who runs the world? Girls” and any man worth his salt would know that. So why is it that men who are sensitive are seen as soft or less manly? If you are in touch with your feelings you are often on the end of some nasty name calling or ribbing from your mates at school or friends and family members? In a world where we are all striving for equality why is it that some women want all the same things as men and yet they still look for what they define as ‘A real Man’. They still have ‘man’s jobs’ or as we’ve come to know they as ‘Just the jobs they don’t want to do’.

So why as males are we become more sensitive, in an era where hipsters, trendsters and the LGBTQI communities are finally getting a voice. Why is it that the typical, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke become a softy? They say we are in the age of the Sensitive New Age Guy or as the ladies in CLEO, Girlfriend and other glossy magazines designed to create another generation of insecure, body image issued women refer to them as SNAGs. And yes that is a generalisation on our behalf we are well aware that it is not the intention of these magazines to portray a perceived image of what the ideal woman should look like. Perhaps that is just us being overly sensitive but there can’t be much of an argument against the fact that young ladies and women look at the covers of these magazines and subconsciously think that’s what I should look like or why don’t i look like that? Again we digress, and it’s time to get back on track to discuss the growing sense of sensitivity among young males.

When you think of masculine men we often think of the film stars of old that portrayed some of the most masculine characters you will ever see. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson to name a few. Just pick a male film star from the 80’s and early 90’s, the characters were all tough, masculine men who took charge and could easily fit that typecast of ‘A Real Man’ that we have been culturally accepting of for generations. Perhaps there is some fault in media that continues to push what a real man should be like. Men shouldn’t be sensitive, they shouldn’t cry, they shouldn’t have feelings and they certainly shouldn’t be worrying about how everyone else is feeling and whether or not they are ok. That is and has been male culture for centuries, since we walked out of the caves and began walking proud and tall we’ve always shown a tough, masculine, non-sensitive side to the world.

It’s a little like wearing a mask that is only taken off in the confines of your own house when no one else is watching. So again we ask what is it that is making men, particularly young men and perhaps more the millennial than generation Y morph into actual human beings with thoughts and feelings. We say that with a little skepticism as some of them are quite rude little bastards who have no manners or respect which is one thing we’d change if we could. Always respect your elders! They’ve been there, done that and a lot of the times got the t-shirt just to prove it. Those that have found some sensitivity and are in some ways redefining masculinity as well as showing future generations that its ok to be sensitive are striving forward with confidence, their heads held high and we might have a few ideas why. The A Mind of Its Own team compiled a few thoughts and reasons why we feel a generational shift is allowing men to become more sensitive with some resistance from an unexpected party.

Ok so is it more sensitive or are males just feeling it’s becoming more and more ok to just be themselves? Are we becoming more accepting of our inner self, of out thoughts, of our feelings. Of all the articles we read there was pattern beginning to map itself out before us. The shift wasn’t just in our minds as sensitive middle aged men writing a blog in between trying to finish a novel that’s been in the works for several years now. It wasn’t that people with mental health issues are more sensitive. It’s a generational thing that points to the fact that yes the world is slowly but surely changing but there is always going to be resistance. Women according to studies are looking for that softer man as they take charge of their lives and families in the 21st century feeling more empowered. We read several articles and blogs before stumbling across an article in Forbes magazine by Jules Schroeder that outlined the 7 following reasons she felt men are opening up to being more sensitive whilst redefining masculinity.

1. They Value Self Awareness. While traditional masculinity says “don’t feel,” modern masculinity says “dare to feel.” Millennial men are committed to knowing themselves on a deep and personal level—even if what they find is difficult to confront or conflicting. Rather than hide from or deny who you are, become curious about who you are and have the courage to represent yourself authentically.

2. They Are Non-Conformist. The rigid gender roles for men and women are becoming more loosely defined as millennial challenge the status quo. According to one international study titled “The Decline of the Manly Man,” the percentage of men who are staying home to care for children is rising today while women are slowly surpassing men in academic performance and closing the income gap. The evolved man isn’t swayed by gender roles or what society deems “manly.” He doesn’t need to be validated externally by conforming. He acts according to his own volition, and he isn’t threatened by women rising, either.

3. They Don’t Want To Compete With One Another. Instead of trying to gain empty status, the evolved man knows his worth lies within. He is secure within himself to the extent that he doesn’t need to put others down in order to feel better about himself.

4. They Value Authenticity. Men have no need to pretend they’re someone they’re not, because they’re not ashamed of who they really are. You can cultivate authenticity in your life by ensuring your outer self is aligned with your inner self. One Boulder, CO-based movement, called the Authentic Man Program, is dedicated to empowering men in their authenticity so that rewarding interactions are made possible.

5. The Want To Be Vulnerable. Outdated masculinity says men shouldn’t show any sign of weakness. But modern masculinity embraces vulnerability as an expression of courage.

6. They Act According To Their Values. A man follows through on his values. He values his own sense of self above others’ sense of who he is so he honors his commitment to himself first and foremost.

7. They Are Motivated To Grow. Evolved men don’t just stop at “evolved.” They are continuously looking for new ways to grow and develop themselves. You can be proactive about your own development by attending education-based events. You will be better able to see your own blind spots in the context of relationships, so considering joining a men’s group or starting your own.

One disturbing fact that came out of researching this piece was the amount of mental and often physical abuse that is brought against men and women. While the values and role definitions in relationships and culture are shifting so too are the figures when it comes to abuse. While men tend to react more physically, the alarming numbers of women lashing out at their partners has been steadily climbing in the last 5 years around the globe. Men are still 50% less likely to report abuse with most citing that it would be seen as weak to do so. Those that did report it stated that it started out as verbal abuse escalating over time, taking a turn and becoming physical. Police were also less likely to believe a male than female when it came to reports of physical abuse with some officers reportedly laughing it off and telling the complainant to just go home and sort it out.

It would seem even as we shift towards equality, slowly, like the hare and the tortoise and men start to become softer, more sensitive and as some females put it more feminine we as humans still feel the need to repress one another. Whether it be through cutting each other down verbally or physically lashing out we are still in the mindset that one sex needs to dominate the other, rather than finding that balance. Perhaps in our generation that is not possible while we still have cultural aspects ingrained in us from the past. But the millennial, perhaps they have an opportunity to lead us into the 22nd century changed where we are all truly equal and it’s ok to be sensitive. Sensitive towards yourself and sensitive towards others and a true picture of what a human being should really be. After all there are no rules that say you can’t be tough, strong, masculine and yet still sensitive, kind and caring. There is nothing to say you can’t have all of those great qualities.

While we feel that people who suffer from mental health issues are a little more sensitive than most people we believe this to be the case for one simple reason. They are more in touch with their emotions. Whether they are able to cope and deal with those emotions is a different question altogether but the fact that they feel on a different level to most people often allows them to understand emotions, feelings and thoughts a lot better once the tools are in place that allow them to filter and sift through them logically. When we set out to write this weeks blog the question we had in mind was why are we so sensitive or from the writers prospective why am I so sensitive? That wasn’t the question that we should have been asking. The real question is why are we always made to feel it’s a bad thing to be sensitive? Or in touch with our feelings? Why is it deemed feminine if we are empathetic, kind, caring and nurturing? Yes generally all female characteristics but nevertheless all traits that can also be shown by men.

Over time we may see a change and these qualities will be accepted in men but for now both men and women will have to continue in their set gender stereotypes that have been cast in stone for centuries. Because let’s be honest for just a second if we may, it’s not just men who judge other men for being sensitive, women are often just as judgemental as their male counterparts when it comes to the sensitivity of men. Still to this day, Friday 12th of April in 2019 it is seen as very unmanly to be in touch with your emotions and have a little bit of softness about you. How many times have you heard the words “You need to grow a pair”, come from the mouth of a woman or “You’re being rather emotional for a bloke”. Far too often as humans we tend to speak before we think, instead of letting our minds filter and process what we are about to say. For some people this may be a difficult process in itself as they feel justified in their position. For others though it is just purely about getting their point across whether they are right or wrong. We tend to refer to these people as the Last Word Brigade.

In another eye opener for the year we’ve learnt that it’s the kids once again leading the way rather than the adults who should know better having spent more time on the earth and experienced more in their lives. Perhaps we should just hand over the keys to the city now and like the lost boys in Peter Pan let the kids govern themselves. They seem to be doing a lot better job than we certainly are when it comes to being in touch with ourselves and the world around us. They say the children are the future and from the looks of things they weren’t wrong. While the kids continue to get it right and grow, we adults will continue to maintain the status quo only to bitch and moan about things rather than making an effort to change them. From the Wicked Sensitive Crew… here at a A Mind of It’s Own we bid you another fond farewell for the week and we look forward to seeing you all the same time next week for yet another install of the blog that keeps on keeping on. Until then Sayonara, yep Japanese this week just to mix it up from the usual European goodbyes.

Nine In The Afternoon…

Welcome back to another week, you know that means another blog as we continue to roll out the hits this year. Which mind you seems to be flying by like a seagull hunting stray chips down on the beach as you enjoy some good old fish and chips for lunch. Last week we geeked it up hardcore and played some video games while we wrote in order to pump out a piece about the potential downfall of civilisation as we know it through the release of a super virus created to control population growth. For those of you who are joining us for the first time welcome to a mind of its own, the blog that truly does take on its name and literally takes on a mind of its own each and every week. Not even the team that put together these well choreographed pieces of literary genius know how it’s going to turn out each week. That’s the fun thing about it, anything can happen and at the end of the day you still know it’s going to be good! Expected the unexpected!

So what tale of woe or rainbow of happiness are we bringing you this week, well to answer that you need to read on! See what we did there, marketing one oh one we baited the hook, dangled the carrot and now we just need to reel you in for the rest of the blog.But what to write? It’s hard coming up with good content week in week out and ensuring our readers are happy with what’s been put out into the ether better known as the internet. You know it’s funny, kids growing up these days have the internet and mobile devices readily available but back in our day and we honestly never thought we’d be saying that so soon in life we didn’t have any of this. Internet was dial-up and we can still hear that iconic sound of it dialing up and waiting for a connection. The first phone we had was a Nokia brick, most likely a 5110 before we got a cool upgrade to the 3310 and the also iconic game of snake… Remember snake what a great game that was, you literally grew and had to avoid your own body to get the apple or something. All your phone did was call and text, oh and play snake but that was it! Ah to a simpler time! These days kids have got their Facebook, instagram, twitter, foursquare, Bebo, MySpace, zoom and whatever bloody else social media on top of games and streaming services all in the palms of their sticky little hands.

Remember when you had to actually pick up the phone, the home phone? Does anyone have those these days other than the octogenarian we call grandparents? Remember board games like Risk, Monopoly, The Game of Life, Snakes and Ladders, Mousetrap, Scrabble and Squatter? Oh squatter was an Australian board game where you battled it out to become the next sheep farming magnate. We’ve were damn good too, couldn’t farm to save our lives but could board game farm like a baron. Fork we loved board games and cards, whatever happened to card games other than sitting back at the casino watching your hard-earned money go down the proverbial drain as you try to get blackjack or 21 whatever its called. Technology has changed literally every piece of our lives. There is an app these days that tells you the optimum times for your body to do a number two and it’ll even set you a reminder to go and void your bowel. There are sleep timers and water intake timers, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there were timers for your timers. What would we do without it?

We’d probably go back to playing cards, board games, being outside and using our imaginations a lot more than sitting in front of a screen and dreaming of a brighter future. We might actually talk to one another instead of texting or instant messaging from across the room. Heck dating would go from swiping right to the good old days of courting. Wouldn’t that be a shock to today’s Tinder generation all looking for love or a one night stand within and application. They’d actually have to walk up to someone and say hello only to risk getting cooties or worse yet an actual face to face rejection. Technology ladies and gentleman is helping us to breed, lazy, like-minded, weak individuals who have no manners and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter. The verdict is still out as to whether they are actually smarter given they have information literally in the palm of their hands. That doesn’t stop them from being soft, hell we no longer create winners and losers we create tryers. Good job kids everyone gets a participation award and it’s not just the kids we hand them out to people who complete a marathon and fun run regardless of whether they come first on a world record time or 5 hours later as everyone is packing up to go home and thinking they are done handing out the silly participation awards.

So we guess this week’s blog will just be a jumble of things going on in the world that we can have a rant about. Perhaps it could be a weekly part of the blog… Rants off Fridays? What do you reckon? We could include something from our fans each week they want us to rant about. We just won’t rant about Anti-Vaxxing, Crystals, Herbal Tea and Oils as we’d have a lot of enemies from Byron Bay all the way to Tweed City. Might not be a bad thing now that we think about, it could give the team something to write about and respond to each week. The crazy cracks from Byron Backpackers proudly brought to you by A Mind of Its Own. Maybe we should go into marketing and jingles while we are at it? “Do you want your children to be just like Australian musician Ben Lee and Catch my disease? Well ladies and gents have we got the solution for you! Don’t vaccinate!!! It’s that simple! That includes your pets because we’ve all seen and autistic dog or two around the traps and no one wants an autistic dog”

And the budget what’s up with that? Little to no money put aside for discovering that the earth is flat or the environment in general? When will the politicians learn there is no Planet B! We have one earth and that’s it, we need to look after it for the generations to come so they have something to look at. Not just barren landscape filled with concrete jungles and no wildlife. Speaking of politicians we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t at the moment and heading into an election it’s not a great place to be. It’s like an episode of Noddy and Big ears with Scomo and Shorto running around being schoolyard bullies trading blows in an attempt to win the class presidency, neither of them has the people’s best wishes at heart. It’s just a big popularity contest to them at present and the little sheep that are the rest of Australian parliament are just bahing along behind them spending taxpayer dollars on supposed business jaunts until someone calls them out in an attempt to cover the fact they aren’t even a citizen of the country. We’ve seen kindergarten children organise the playground better than our so-called adults on the hill could organise a luncheon down at the press club.

In some ways this blog is aptly titled there are never enough hours in the day lately making a lack of work/life balance it’s no wonder the world is resorting to dating on the internet and monogamy is a dying art along with chivalry and just being a decent human being. But it does sometimes feel like nine in the afternoon. Which leads us to our next point, Forking Brunei and there backwards thinking, we wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled up the old dial-up internet, armed their soldiers with muskets, swords and cannons, banned the mobile phone and installed a gramophone in every household. We live in the 21st century for crying out loud. Stop oppressing the LGBT plus whatever the other letter are, community! (Sorry you guys need to make it easier there are way too many letters to remember) Macklemore said it best in his 2013 hit ‘Same Love’, “Our culture founded from oppression, Yeah we don’t have acceptance for’em”. Culture it’s so ingrained in us that we still feel, we need to follow the directions of books written centuries ago. The bible, the Koran we have a theory here at a mind of it’s own that we’ll go into after we are done with the Sultan of Brunei who apparently is such a staunch muslim that he needs to implement a strict sharia law that could involve the stoning to death of people involved in sex, that’s another thing sex, is sex people, whether you are gay, straight, black, blue, brown, purple, or whatever! Sex is sex!

Several celebrities have spoken out and even gone to the point of boycotting several hotels in the states that are owned by the Brunei royal family. Why does religion not just those that follow christ but also, muslim and several other religions paraphrase a book written centuries ago when man oppressed woman on a level that is still seen in some third world countries and strict religious regions. The bible has several references to homosexuality between gods disciples so why do we feel the need to condemn, judge, oppress and punish those who find the love with the same-sex. Same love people, love is love and in the 21st century the LGBT plus other letters community (Again sorry guys, girls and non-binary friends we’ll get it right one day) has gone through a lot of hurt and pain to get to where they are today. Still not a perfect situation but more acceptance than there was and yet so many of the community still be oppressed, repressed, suppressed. It’s not good enough and Brunei is just taking it all back to the dark days of burning witches at the stake, hunting vampires and living in the dark. Welcome to the real world, people are gay, get over it and move on! We should all be free to choose who we, what we do and who we do.

Now on religion in a topic in which we are sure to cope some outrage porn and no doubt abuse but come one we can’t be the first people to think what we are about to discuss. It’s no secret that the team are a bunch of geeks who love all things video games, comics, graphic novels and the weird wonderful world of collectables we what if Stan Lee and the guys who kicked off Marvel, DC, Valiant all the originals in the comic world weren’t the first to tell stories and tales of people with extraordinary powers, super strength, super sight, the ability to glide on a carpet of ice, extraordinary healing powers. In fact if you look at the bible one could make comparisons to several modern-day superheroes. That being said were religious books such as the bible and Koran the comic books of their time? Filled with tall tales of coming back from the death, fighting of giants, parting or seas. It has us wondering whether or not the bible is more comic book than religious reference book to live life by.

You don’t see us running around in red slicing and dicing people who do wrong thinking we need to be more like Deadpool because we read comics but that doesn’t stop religious nuts telling us we are going to burn in hell for our blasphemy, lack of faith and love and support of the gay community. Even the devil could be a comic book character with his fire, brimstone and horns in fact one comic book artist went as far as turning the sun of satan into a hero in the widely successful Hellboy series. So maybe the team are on to something! Maybe whoever wrote the bible and the Koran, was probably the same person which would turn out to be quite hilarious and a waste of a lives in the past as we fought wars over religion, land and wealth. Perhaps they were just the storytellers of their time after all comics are just stories with pictures not to be confused with picture books but often they do crossover these days as comic artist will write and draw for the junior crew.

Like the name of the blog this week we really have taken on a mind of our own from, reminiscing about the good old days when technology in the household was a minimum, kids had motivation to become exceptional and played outside whenever they could. Through to the bible and Koran being comic books of their day before someone decided organised religion was a good thing. In between we took a stab at the Sultan of Brunei and his ancient laws which gave us a Segway into the religious comic book spiel but we were appalled and a little shocked that in today’s society death for being gay would be introduced and not a quick death either a stone age stoning. Again it’s an interpretation of an ancient text that has been paraphrased and there are those that read way too far into the texts hence why we now have what is termed as radical Islam or muslim extremists who like all things are spoiling it for the faithful who wish to go about their lives in peace living among those who don’t believe in Allah. In some regards there is no such things as freedom of choice as someone will always find fault and or a problem with your choice or decision.

When we started at 3pm this afternoon the cursor blinked at us as a reminder that we haven’t put pen to paper for the week and entered the hearts and minds of the faithful fans. So you’ve ended up with the dribble above. Like an inebriated, wall less army we’ve spewed forth the verbal diarrhea that was on our minds and for once just written without little to no plan of that the hell we were going to talk about. And this it what you got a little rant here and there but no specific topic or theme, we guess that religion took center stage as it seems to seems to be dominating headlines week in week out. From dodgy cardinals to harsh sharia laws they can’t seem to win a trick with the hand they dealt for themselves. So we’ve learnt two things this week. Firstly we can write without having a topic in mind and or researched and secondly that we aren’t massive fans of organised religion it reminds us a little of a cult and the science just isn’t there for us for a lot of what is written to have happened or to be true. But as we say every week and like our anti-vax friends each to their own.

Until next week friends, family, fair weather fans and heavily tattoo prison inmates who have decided to fly the flag for us in the hope we’ll lend an ear to the plight that is prison. No i wouldn’t want a bed, toilet and three square meals a day. Come on guys you’ve got it better than the homeless on the streets. That being said we wish you a fond farewell and hope you have a great week, remember these sage words. Only invest what you are prepared to lose. That goes for everything in life! Be good to your mother and we’ll grace your screens once again next week Ciao! Yep Italian this week folks!

This Celluloid Dream…

Where is the line? A question often asked and yet never answered. Personally most people know where and when to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. But when it comes to matters that have potentially political ramifications we often have no idea where to draw that said line and say we’ve gone way too far. Recent international events have people up in arms over all sorts of issues that may or may not really have any impact of effect upon their lives. We’ve spoken about victimhood chic in a previous blog but it’s in times of tragedy, loss and of pure evil that we see it come out more and more. Fingers are pointed and everyone has someone or something to blame for the event or issue. With the evolution of the internet we have given a platform or soapbox for everyone with access to a computer or smartphone.

Despite all of that we’ve somewhat had a change of heart, well more a change in topic that we are way more interested in. Well maybe not so much interested but more peaked our interest in the premise behind it. We’ve never been forwards and going backwards here at a Mind of Its Own. We are a bunch of geeks, we love sports, we love comics, we love video games and we love books. After all knowledge is power and who is to say that a comic or graphic novel can’t provide you with information? There is something to be said for fiction that is based around a premise that potentially could become real at some point in time. One of the biggest things about providing something to the masses whether it be a book, video game or other source of media is its ability to appeal and the more likely that it could become real the more it tends to sell.

By now you’re once again asking where the hell we are going with this weeks blog. How outside the box is it going to be and what crazy theme if any will the bunch of clowns hiding behind their keyboards like chairborne commando ready to take Normandy give us? Well we are glad you asked because yeah there is some cray, cray as the kids say in this week’s edition of the nation’s number one outside the box, thinking blog. We aren’t just saying that for shits and giggles. As we dive down this weeks rabbit hole it had us asking some serious questions about what we’d do if the following events ever became reality. In some ways it pays to be a poor writer. Read on to see what we mean by that as this weeks piece come to life thanks to the brains in the office of craze, the wonder writers at a mind of its own blog. Coming soon to internet compatible device near you. (Yep shameless plug!)

As we stated before the team here are a little on the geeky side, we find beauty and creativity in things like comics and video games that some people would look at and go that’s a little childish. To each their own we say. The premise of this weeks blog comes from the story sitting behind a video game franchise. Despite the beautiful open world game that allows the player to explore the city they are in while completing missions. Behind the beautiful graphics and three-dimensional rendering there is a story that would have a massive impact on the world’s population if it were ever to come true. Ladies and Gentlemen we are talking about Tom Clancy’s the Division. Yes for those asking it is the guy that writes books. He’s had a few books adapted into video games and a few games that will adapted into books and movies.

To get to the crux of the story we first need to look at the condition of the world as it currently is. If we were to swear we could sum it up in one word but as it is every week this is a family friendly blog. Where to start is a good question, some people believe that we are overpopulating the world. We aren’t saying they are wrong or right but as our population grows so too does the demand for resources. Put simply our prediction is that future wars will be fought over fresh water and food sources rather than oil, land or religion. In calculation models prepared by the United Nations we are predicted to grow from 7.71 Billion people in 2019 to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and further increasing to 11.2 billion by the end of the century. Some of you are probably sitting there thinking that’s not a lot of people however you need to think outside the box for a second and what that increase could potentially mean.

In order to ensure their survival certain countries could take population control into their own hands. We’ve seen version of it in China through their one child policy or the holocaust during world war two as Hitler tried to exterminate the Jewish as part of his new world order in which the Aryan race was the only pure blood line. Population control has always been a concern for the worlds governing bodies and yes it sounds like a super villain from a Bond film is going to step into the limelight and ensure population numbers are controlled through some heinous crime but in reality that’s pretty much all it would take, one person or a group of people taking matters into their own hands to cause a worldwide problem that we may not recover from. There are no doubt those out there that will say we ruined the earth so we deserve whatever we get however our children and our children’s children did not have anything to do with crimes we’ve committed against the earth.

Let’s start with the story behind the hit game series Tom Clancy’s The Division and you’ll start to get a feel for where we are going with this weeks blog. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day on the American calendar and fastly spreading around the world as a day of sales where shops can clear out old stock before Christmas. The one thing all countries have in common is money and when it comes to sales there is always plenty of it around. If you wanted to control population what better way to do so than spread a virus amongst money to be circulated in the worlds largest day of sales. This is the premise that the Division is based on. A professor creates a smallpox like super virus that not only incubates faster but also spreads and takes effect quicker. The super virus is created with six separate pathogens: Dengue, Ebola, H1N1, Hantavirus, Marburg and Swine Flu.

As with all viruses it rapidly mutates making it highly difficult for conventional drugs or antibodies to identify and exterminate the virus. It also makes it extremely difficult for virologists to create a proper vaccine against the disease. Through distributing the virus via infected bills during Black Friday sales it ensure a rapid spread of the highly infectious disease. Initial symptoms of the virus display as new strain of flu that is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Given the premise of the game is for you to help a virologist find samples of the virus while fighting off factions of criminals, military, law enforcement and military contractors who have turned outlaws and are trying to wrestle control of the city from you and the other members of a joint task force you start to see the knock on effects of population control. Two words…

Civil unrest… They say the first rule of treating a virus is containment. Anyone that shows signs of the virus goes into isolation or quarantine as it’s better known when referring to infectious diseases. In the case of our man-made super virus what better way to contain it than section off part of the city and shove all the sick, dying and symptomatic people in there to fight it out over the little supplies dropped in each week. We’ll build some walls perhaps we’ll use Trump’s Mexican wall contractors. Outside that wall we’ll have guarded checkpoints manned by healthy or immune military or law enforcement. No one gets out and really who in their right mind would want to go in? Oh us as we hunt for clues on how to stop the virus and fight all the factions trying to take over the city that’s who’s stupid enough to go into the contamination zone or Dark Zone as it’s referred to in the game.

It’s at this point we start to realise that it wouldn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination for us to actually see this type of thing in the real world. Poisoned water supplies, food, air-conditioned offices, money. Basically anything touched by another human being could be a potential place for some crackpot scientist or world leader who seeks to cement their place at the top of the new world order to contaminate with a virus and watch it spread. Heck the TV show the Last Ship is pretty much based around a virus that decimates the world’s population and trying to not only survive but find a cure. There have been plenty of examples throughout history where biological agents or warfare have been used by armies. It might be a little stretch to say by an individual hell-bent on world domination but then again we’ve had some rather disgusting people throughout history who thought they could create a better world or were that dilussional that they thought they knew what was best and should rule all humanity. See what absolute power does kids, it goes to people’s heads, that’s why we have checks and balances on our governments. No one wants to live under a dictator. For all that’s wrong with democracy it’s doing a lot of things right.

The fact that the United States Government has simulated and war game this type of outbreak is a little scary to say the least. The code name giving to the mock bio-terror attack was also a little on the bleak side. In June of 2001 the United States carried out a mock attack of weaponized smallpox code-named Operation Dark Winter. While the operation was designed to create preventative measures against such an attack it also outlined just how inadequate the national services response would be to such an attack. With a localised attack on one city the mock attack showed just how quickly events could spiral out of control. Concerns of such an attack would spark pandemonium in the communities and in all likelihood spread quickly through continental United States rapidly. The sheer logistics required to contain a virus had the team somewhat mesmerised thinking about all the things you’d need to do. The transportation industry would grind to a halt, travel industry, well as we think about it most of the industries would stop while medical and law enforcement attempt to get containment protocols in place.

Here in Australia I don’t think we would even be prepared to contemplate such an attack or outbreak let alone contain it and start the search for a cure. If there is a government contingency for such an attack or outbreak unlike our American friends it’s not broadcast to all and sundry. All hell would break loose we’d have the Cronulla riots times ten. Imagine all the Southern Cross tattoos that would come out then. Heck you’d see more bogans than usual looting the local chemist. We are an isolated country yes but we are also allies with the world’s most hated country and we aren’t doing ourselves any favours by letting Jim Henson’s creations govern our great land. The fact that we’ve sat and not only thought about it but contemplated what would or could happen in the event of a virus, man-made or otherwise is a little concerning. It shows we are in a great time of uncertainty in the world.

It also has the team thinking that great Minds being the Division might be onto something and we as Australians should be training up a batch of sleeper Agents to be activated in times of emergency to bring peace and order to our great nation because let’s be honest without order there is chaos and chaos uncontrolled is just pure mayhem waiting for someone to come along and organise it. So why not have a group of dedicated individuals both men and women with the skills to rebuild a nation hidden away for when you need them. Or for when our neighbours to the north finally decide to invade after they bought up most of our land and primary industry. A little like a resistance against the anarchy and chaos that would no doubt ensue after a virus wiped out half the population. Heck our hospitals are already bad enough can you even imagine the trouble and outbreak would cause for the Australian Health system. Safe to say the last thing we are prepared for is a major viral outbreak man-made or not.

As you can see ladies and gentlemen whilst the premise of the video game might be fictional it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see the real world application for the use of a man-made virus to control the world’s population or take over another country through biological warfare. There is a big fear the next war will be nuclear but in our eyes it’s the things you don’t see that you really should be watching out for. With Man’s incessant need to mettle, manipulate and tinker with everything in an attempt to make it better or perfect we have created some absolutely horrific viruses or weaponised strains of viruses that occur naturally in nature. We are in a sense our own worst enemies. Only humans have the ability to create death and destruction in a vial all in an attempt to get the upper hand over each other. Safe to say we are somewhat always attempting to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth through our own attempts to discover, to learn, to be better, you could say we found a way to tie in our opening paragraph. Where is the line and where do we draw said line when it comes to trying to play god.

While we pray to the heavens or in our case a thunder-cloud as the rain engulfs the house we are currently writing from as we don’t believe in God or religion. Again each to their own, we certainly hope that this all stays fiction and no one tries to control the world by releasing a deadly pathogen. We are certainly thinking all those crazy preppers around the world might be onto something. Perhaps we should build a mind of its own shelter, an inner sanctum in which we can continue to spread the word on all things no one else wants to. But in saying that the internet might be down. Maybe investing in an old print machine might be an idea. We could make paper out of hemp this time instead of cutting down trees.

Who would have thought a guy running around in a flannelette shirt, pants and some hiking boots

Until next week we’re going to wander off into the waste land that has become Washington D.C and attempt to restore some order to the good ole US of A and cure a virus. Hopefully we won’t have to fight a super Oompa Loompa who’s looking to build walls around things and makes saying China sound more like Vagina. Although in saying that his Space Force isn’t ready so it is a fight that we might win beside our fellow agents at the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simple The Division. Adios amigos and stay tuned we’ll continue releasing a new edition each and every Friday just in time for your weekend incase you get bored, sick or stuck on public transport.

Caveman’s Land…

With a growing amount of anger, fingers race across the keyboard in an effort to not only shed light on this weeks blog but also to outline the injustice that often goes on in a world where the undefendable are taken advantage of. It’s hard for a team to sit there and start this week’s blog with all the bullshit that is going on in the world. Sorry for swearing kids, really sorry but the world is going to hell in a handbag. And where did that saying even come from. Why does hell reside in a handbag? Does it have a orange oompa loompa that is its president? Perhaps he’s riding horseback with his former russian counterpart. Yeah ok this week’s topic has got under the teams skin and we are a little worked up to say the least. Why as humans do we feel the need to interfere with the natural order of the world? If it’s not trying to engineer the human genome we are trying to assert our dominance over the world? Well ladies and gentlemen this week we’ll see what we can do about answering some of those questions or at least giving you a no holds barred opinion of the scum that we share the planet with.

Whether you believe that god created the earth and all that is within it, or like us you believe in science and the Big Bang Theory. We live on a beautiful planet that is full of wonder and enchantment. Sharing the earth with creatures great and small, who have adapted and evolved to the changing environments as we humans continue to destroy the natural beauty around us. Why do we do it you ask? Well that would be the draw of the almighty dollar, greed has fueled man’s ambitions since the dawn of civilisation. With money comes power and with power comes, well comes a lot of arsehats who think that they are the most important people to walk this earth. They will stop at nothing to keep their power and their money. Often they can be linked to sociopath or narcissistic behaviours and very much have a me, me type of atittude when it comes to other people and their feelings.

Given that money makes the world go round, a lot of people tend to just throw money at their problems or the problems of the world. The problem with doing that however is that there is always the leeches of society who see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and make a quick buck. With greed fueling the economy and our markets both the free market and the black market it’s no coincidence that destruction of our planet and its inhabitants go hand in hand with people making money and often millions upon millions of dollars from suffering. From dodgy land grabs to digging up the earth, right through to war and the sale of arms, greed fuels the men and women who we often view as disgusting and irresponsible. This week we are taking a look at a topic that often brings tears followed by anger and outrage when you see images of the suffering and death caused by the money grabbing scum of the earth.

This week we start our adventure in the one place on earth that everyone immediately thinks of when they hear about this topic the one place outside of a zoo where you can still see a lot, but not many of these majestic animals roaming free. Also the one place that sees it’s fair share of death and destruction on a daily basis. Not only do we see the innocent slaughter and destruction of wildlife habitats in the search for gold, oil and other rare earth elements. But also the murder and capture of animals for their skin, bone, oils and other body parts as part of the illegal black market sale and trade of rare and exotic animals. Across the globe atrocities against animals occur on a daily basis as greed and quest for money drives poachers to capture or kill animals. It’s a billion dollar industry that will only continue to grow as the average salary goes up allowing people who have never had access to Animal products before a glimpse of the market. In Africa the sale and exportation of Ivory ranks as one of the biggest threats to both the Elephant and Rhinoceros. In order to remove their tusks or horn poachers will either kill them outright or hack them off leaving the animals to suffer and die from the injuries inflicted during the removal process.

It’s not only the slaughter of innocent animals for their ivory to be made into some desk ornament or object on a wall for a wanker who needs pretty things so he or she can feel validated in their office or den. But the removal of animals from their natural habitats for sale on the black market to collectors that pushes each species prayed on by poachers closer and closer to the edge of extinction. From Gorillas to species of Birds and reptiles they end up in peoples backyards around the globe left in conditions that are often below humanitarian standards and almost torturous to the poor animals who were once free and able to soar or roam across the landscape. Adding to all this is the ever increasing growth of the human population and the destruction of habitats allowing for building of communities and cities often with very little thought or concern for the native species whose areas we have invaded and destroyed since the dawn of time, once again forcing them to either adapt, evolve or perish.

For centuries eastern medicine has used certain animal organs including Tiger Penis as part of their recipes to aile the sick and dying. Apparently Tiger Penis is just an aphrodisiac and was once thought to give virility and endurance. We’re pretty sure eating a penis isn’t going to give you virility and help you conceive. Just be be sure we asked the gay community who confirmed you will not boost your ability to get pregnant. Just like a bears gallbladder and the bile created by said gallbladder that is made into herbal remedies will not help with liver or gallbladder problems. China and Southeast Asia is home to many of the illegal sales and trades of Animals, Animal products and Ivory. For centuries they have used animal parts to ward off spirits or take on the attributes of the animals fresh they are indesting. The ownership of furs, ivory and other skins or horns is seen as a status symbol.

What we tend to find is that these people who like to show their wealth and affluence have no care in the world if an animal becomes extinct, in fact the more endangered a species becomes the higher the price and the more they need to have it. These narcissistic, often psychotic and certainly degranged people only care about themselves and having power and money. They will do anything to get what they want and care very little for authority and the rules. The same can be said for the men at the top off the business organisational structures, the more money that comes across there desks, the more demand and the more they want more of it. The calls go out to their networks and the hunters go to work across the globe. They go to work hunting down Elephants, Rhinoceros, Bears, Gorillas, Monkeys, Pangolin, Tigers, Snakes, Other reptiles and birds. Some they kill others they capture. The carcusas of those they harvested organs or appendages from are found fly blow and often encircled by scavengers.

Those that they don’t kill like bears or tigers are often transported to farms in China where parts are extracted or removed piece by piece. Until such a point the animals bodies give in and they go to a better place. A place away from the pain and torment. For those animals that are sold to private zoo’s or collectors, they are lucky enough to escape the torture and pain and often death. Whilst they are still removed from their natural habitats and this often causes trauma, anxiety and depression they are still alive. This means when authorities do get their acts together they can attempt to reintegrate them into their natural environment. Man’s punchance for greed makes us do disgusting things to other humans and the animals that walk this earth.

We often purely blame the hunters who yes we are agree should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law but even conservation groups aren’t helping to stem the tide. With all the infighting and political agendas as well as petty jealousy and personal ambitions of members often there ends up being very little done to project the animals who are being preyed upon. Whilst illegal poaching has now become a mainstream issue for governments around the globe they to face the same issues as the conservation groups and once again we see the animals continue to suffer and preyed upon by hunters feeding a market demand. In Africa wildlife reserves have employed Rangers who have the power and authority to arrest poachers caught on the their grounds. Often this is the first step in severing the chain but without tougher laws around the globe directed at all levels of the pyramid poaching will continue. Anti-poaching laws often only focus on the collection and distribution of animals and animal associated products and whilst it is illegal to own ivory in certain countries being caught with it is often no more than a slap on the wrist or fine. A fine to a lot of these people is chump change, nothing more than a minor annoyance.

What we need is governments to band together and ensure that poaching laws are enforced and the harshest of punishments are handed out. Taking a life any life whether human or not should warrant jail time. Both the poacher themselves along with their bosses or partners and the purchasers should all have the book thrown at them. When this starts to happen perhaps we’ll start to see some changes and we’ll be able to keep some of our animals off the endangered species list or from extinction. The sad thing is that unless we do something in the near and we mean the very near future it may already be too late for some of those majestic creatures. We certainly won’t be sitting idly by watching in the hopes that someone does something. While we can’t physically pick up the team and move them around the world or pick up a weapon and work against the poachers we can certainly add our voice and work with those by providing financial support to those who are actually doing something. Those that don’t want to sit by and wait for committees, governments, organisations to wade through their own political messes.

Around the globe the Rangers combating poachers are often sadly outgunned both literally and figuratively. There weapons are archaic, the people they are working against often have technology helping them to avoid detection and have the backing of multi-million dollar criminal organisations. The poor rangers are often sporting AK-47s that have seen better days and use old tracking methods to follow poachers. A lot of the time it is too late and they are already on their way to deliver their trophies to ensure they have a payday coming their way. With technology and funding the Rangers and volunteers that make the anti-poaching task forces around the globe will be on a an even playing field with those out to do harm and capture animals all with intention for making a dollar. Animals can’t defend themselves against man and our weapons. We have to stand up for them and have to stand up for a future in which we can see these great and unique beasts in the wild.

Everyday whether it be in the news or social media we see the death and destruction caused by men and women seeking fortune and fame at the expense of defenseless animals. It makes us sick and sad when we see these graphic images of animals dead or dying all in the name of money and man’s need to feel power. The team at a mind of its own have certainly had enough, we’ve read enough news papers, watched enough documentaries and read enough books to know that man is responsible for all the death and destruction going on in the world. We also have a responsibility to future generations to ensure they are able to see all the animals in the kingdom in the wild not at a zoo or museum. It’s time for us to stop living like cavemen and start looking to the future before it really is too late. All creatures great and small deserve to live in peace.

Until next week folks dob in a poacher, dob in a dealer and dob in that wanky knob who has bear heads, elephant tusks and tiger skins draped in his den. It’s not the 1890’s and anyone wearing a pith helmet deserves to be punched in the junk. Poaching whether you are the hunter, seller or buyer will never be ok. We are on the path to extinction and only we can divert the course. You hold the power to ensure a better future for your children and your children’s children. Last thing you want is to be showing your kids a stuffed elephant in a museum in 15 years time knowing we could have done something to prevent the needless slaughter of a beautiful species. We often try to give both sides of the story but this is one topic we will never waiver on, we like knowing that some of the bigger beasts are roaming the jungles and savannas of the world. Be good to yourself and look after what you can, until next week! Peace out!!!