Dear Science…

Ahhh ok we thought we had seen it all, but no ladies and gentlemen the things of science fiction movies are becoming more and more real. We’ve got lasers, clones, electric cars, spaceships and several other things that have become reality from our favourite sci-fi shows and books. But what could get our goat so much that it would make this weeks blog? Read on if you dare but don’t be surprised if you start to question a few things afterwards like we are. We’ve always tried to deliver the hard hitting news with facts and figures as well as a little humor but there are just some things that even we can’t spin and this has seriously got to be one of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to another week of A Mind of Its Own. Throughout history we’ve had some innovative breakthroughs that have allowed society to grow, have allowed us to prosper, have brought us into the 21st century. They’ve allowed us to explore, to question, to wonder. Human ingenuity has allowed us to invent, create, inspire and to even destroy. We’ve climbed to the top of the evolutionary food chain and tried to claw our way even further. But there is one nationality that has pushed the boundaries, time and time again both socially, scientifically, culturally. They’ve aligned themselves on the wrong side of history from time to time again but they have always figured quite heavily in the academic and technology industries.

As some of you know a lot of the team that write this here blog work for a Japanese company and have done so for quite some time now. So it’s no surprise to us when the Japanese come up in Science and Technology news. We’ve seen a lot of the products released from Japan and a lot of it is cutting edge. They are building the technology and products of tomorrow. Some of our favourite brands come from the island nation. Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Yamaha, Sony, Toshiba, Nintendo, Seiko, Casio, Fujifilm, Olympus and Canon just to name a few. All of these brands at one time or another are releasing products that are new, innovative and at the bleeding edge. It’s what the Japanese do, they sink Millions upon millions of dollars into research and development (R&D).

So when we read that the Japanese Government had approved the first Human-Animal hybrid research to be conducted we were a little taken back. Our minds immediately went on a journey of all the human/animal hybrids we could come up with. From Minotaur to mermaids to rat boys the possibilities are endless. We even went as far to wonder whether we could finally see Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s vision of ManBearPig finally realized. Whilst our thoughts were somewhat adolescent in creating fanciful hybrids the application and ethics in hybrids is somewhat a little troubling should the ability and technology fall into the wrong hands, and when its the country who came up with Godzilla doing the research questions begin to be asked.

Have we got your attention yet? Fingers flew over the keyboard and hit up google in order to explore, research and find out more behind the intentions of the research teams involved in creating the first “approved” human-animal hybrid. Notice how we said first approved? Yeah there have no doubt been several illegal experiments conducted over the years by mad scientists in secret laboratories around the world. How else do you come up with biological weapons. Plus the Yanky doodles have been doing a similar experiment to the Japanese for years they just stop at some imaginary ethical line apparently.

Yeah, yeah, yeah there is a basement in Area 51 with all sorts of Hybrids running around maiming each other. So once we’d settled down from fanciful thoughts about exotic human-animal hybrids and actually read an article or two we began to see the benefits of this type of research. Whilst the ethics behind it all and the application of creating human-hybrid animals is a little scary the research is designed to get human cells to grow inside an animal which according to all the articles and journals we read isn’t an easy thing to do. So what is it all in Layman’s terms you ask and why? Good bloody questions because we needed to and wanted to know the answers ourselves. What’s got the scientific community in a flap about these experiments and the extent of them, well let’s enter a scientific journey together in order to find out the who, what, where and why.

Stem Cell research has been controversial since the early studies in 1981 where scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. This early study led to the development in 1998 of the method in which to derive human stem cells and grow cells in laboratories. Fast forward 21 years and Japan has granted approval for Stem cell biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi to legally conduct trials to not only transplant hybrid embryos into surrogate animals, but also to bring them to term. In previous experiments conducted around the world they had never bought any research to full term. By this they had never allowed the stem cells to fully grow within the animal they had been transported into and “come to term”..

The lead stem cell researcher at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University, Nakauchi has gone from country to country, chasing the dream of one day growing customized human organs in animals like sheep or pigs. With more than 116,000 patients on the transplant waiting list in the United States alone, Nakauchi hopes his idea can transform lives.The ultimate goal is still a long way off, but the next step in his research has at last been given the green light by ministry officials in Japan. As the first researcher to receive government approval since the 2014 ban, Nakauchi plans on taking things slowly so that public understanding and trust can catch up. Trust that he doesn’t create potential monster hybrids that will take over the world. The possibility of ManBearpig is a real thing by the looks of it.

“We don’t expect to create human organs immediately, but this allows us to advance our research based upon the know-how we have gained up to this point,” Nakauchi was quoted saying. So what is the experiment exactly you ask? The experiments will start by injecting human induced pluripotent stem cells (master cells according to Google) into rat and mice embryos, all of which have been genetically manipulated so that they cannot make pancreases. The goal is for the rodent embryo to use human cells to build itself a pancreas. For two years, the team plans on watching these rodents develop and grow. They will carefully monitor their organs and brains in the process. Only then will the researchers ask for approval to do the same with pigs.

While human-animal embryos have been created in the past – such as pig-human embryos and sheep-human embryos – they’ve never been allowed to develop to term before. One of the biggest fears with this type of research centers on exactly where these human stem cells actually go in an animal, and what type of cells they could develop into, once they are injected. While Nakauchi and his team are trying to target this treatment to just the pancreas, if they detect more than 30 percent of the rodent brains are human, they will suspend the experiment. This is part of the government’s conditions to prevent a “humanised” animal from ever coming into existence.

Nakauchi, however, doesn’t think this is going to happen. Last year, he and his colleagues at Stanford successfully made the first human-sheep embryo, and although it was destroyed after just 28 days, the hybrid contained no organs and very few human cells – only about one in 10,000 or less. So there are some caveats on the research and what can be done but the fear from the public and scientific community is still real. The goal of the research is to create viable human organs that can be transplanted. Taking a crystal ball and looking into the future should this research actually pan out would we see the production of organ farms with sheep and pigs running around growing human organs inside of them for transplant recipients? The possibilities are endless and while the experiment is exciting from that aspect, what are the ethical issues behind it all?

It’s a good thing we aren’t scientists there are way too many words to digest and we’ve been hitting Google a lot to understand this whole animal-human hybrid scenario. What do you get when you have a single organism derived from two sets of DNA? A Chimera apparently, and the first thing that came to mind was Mission Impossible 2 where Tom Cruise is running around fucking shit up in Syndey trying to find and destroy a deadly virus called “Chimera” that is created from two different viruses and is self replicating. Then there is the Chimera from Greek mythology that’s part lion, part goat and has a snake as a tail. A true hybrid. In this case it’s closer to the second one and hopefully something that we won’t be seeing anytime soon. However the more we researched, the more we realised that Chimeras can occur naturally in humans. What the Fork? Was our first response as well but when a twin absorbs its twin it naturally creates a Chimera.

So when we inject stem cells into embryos and let them grow, we are in a sense creating Chimeras and that’s not natural according to everything we have read on the internet and if it’s on the internet it has to be true, right?.The main ethical issues are the risks of consciousness and of human features in the chimeric animal due to a high contribution of human cells to the brain, in the first case, or for instance to limbs, in the second. Another critical point of concern is the production of human gametes (organisms reproductive cells), yeah we had to Google what it was ourselves, by such chimeric animals. Can you imagine a rat, pig or sheep that had human sperm or eggs? That would be forking weird but is a major concern within the scientific community when it comes to genetics and stem cell research. From what we can tell there are three main ethical issues with the production of human-animal chimeras.

Human-like external features

It can be argued that the injection of human genes and cells into animal embryos could have an effect on the physical aspect of the animal. In layman’s terms as a researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) put to us, on its appearance. The creation of human/animal chimeras can make the boundary between human beings and other living beings penetrable, inducing questions about human identity. These concerns are more obvious when it comes to a chimera whose physical attributes would let its chimeric quality start to appear. E.G a rat with human arms or organs. It is not only about the creature’s appearance, but also about its specific attributes, such as language.

Human gamete production

The Humanization of animals bearing human organs could result in the production of human gametes. Yep animals with human sperm that could mate with animals that aren’t genetically modified or hybrids. Human embryos could be created using such gametes. The worst-case scenario would be that a pig producing human sperm could accidentally mate with a sow or vice versa. Manbearpig is a real possibility. However, the possibility that the interaction between gametes of different species would result in a hybrid embryo is almost nonexistent, because the inter-species reproductive barrier is very strong. For instance, the injection of human sperm into a hamster egg (the “hamster test”, used to test the quality of human sperm cells) does not give rise to embryos capable of development. Even cross-breeding attempts between human and anthropoid apes failed when tested in the first part of the twentieth century. Keep in mind science has come a long way since then ladies and gents. In addition, this fear can easily be dissipated: sterilization of pigs bearing human organs would be sufficient to prevent their reproduction.

Alternatives to human organs in animals

In the absence of medical alternatives it is essential to justify the development of human organs in animals. However, the issue of organ shortage for the treatment of life-threatening conditions by organ transplantation could be solved by other means in the future. For instance, pig organs could be used. To prevent organ rejection, researchers are investigating the possibility of deleting the main pig genes responsible for organ rejection and breeding pigs in which all porcine endogenous retroviruses are inactivated. The importance of monitoring these developments is massive, because they might represent valid and more acceptable alternatives to the generation of inter-species chimeras.

So we’ll sit back and watch with bated breath as the Japanese create Human/Animal hybrids or Chimeras as they are better known throughout the scientific community and hope the creators of South Park weren’t predicting the future when they came up with their Manbearpig character. There are upsides and downsides for this type of experimentation but does one outweigh the other? In certain people’s eyes that is no doubt the case. With all things in life though knowledge is power, the more you educate yourself around this the more you will understand and be able to make a sound call on where you stand when it comes to Human/Animal hybrid experimentation.

It’s been a tough couple of months for Australia as we burn, homes have been lost, animals, people and much of our beautiful country is still on fire. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those affected during this time of what we will call a crisis. The statistics alone lead us and many Australian’s to call for a better strategy for handling fire season that encompasses all of Australia not just state by state. Screw a surplus our current government are forecasting, get the women and men on the ground the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs properly and more importantly safely. We’ve provided links below to donate to those affected by the fires including our native animals.

So to a not so Happy New Year we welcome you all to a new decade, who knows whats install for each and every one of us but from the team here at A Mind Of Its Own wishes each and every one of you a cracker of a year even if we are off to a shaky start. Until next week when we launch our year in review we bid you a fond farewell and hope that that Japanese don’t make a Godzilla or Manbearpig. The world is already in enough chaos thanks to a little orange oompa loompa. Adios amigos…

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/bushfire-crisis-how-can-i-donate-and-help/11839842

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/31/how-you-can-help-bushfire-victims

Four Feet in the Forest…

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the office not a creature was stirring, not even old Al, The cheques were mailed by reception with care, In hopes that a few of us wouldn’t return in the new year, The dogs were nestled and chewing a bone, while visions of chickens danced in their domes. And Maxo on Spotify and I in my hat, we just settled down for a couple weeks nap, when out in the car park there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our desks to see what was the matter.

Away to the window like kids on the bus, tore open the blinds and threw up the latch, the smoke from the fires, stung at the eyes. When what to our wonder should appear but a bloody fat guy, it was the same bloody dick that had nicked the car and told us not to bother, he didn’t have insurance not even AMMI to call. We knew in that moment it was the same prick who bloody ruined christmas when we were just six. More rabid than foxes we were in a rage and he whistled, and shouted and called us filthy names.

“Now, Dickhead! Now, Dropkick! Now Prick and Wanker! On, Cockhead, On CuiN The NT! On, Douchebag! On, Bastard! It’s not a bloody Porsche! Or even a Nissan! Now go away, Go away Go the F#ck away all! As far as I’m concerned it’s a stupid car and when I meet and obstacle we crash through and fly. So up to the houseos and pissheads of course with a sleigh full of sex toys and the fat prick of course. And then in a twinkle he jumped on our roof, dancing and flashing his little man Proof. Poor little Mitsi our car of 2 years down on the bonnet he came with a bound.

Dressed like a pauper, fur head to foot, his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and chicken poop. A bundle of bottles clunked on his back, he looked like a dealer who smoked too much crack. His eyes all bloodshot, his dimples all scarred! His cheeks were all hollow his nose was all marred! His cranky little mouth was turned into a scowl and the beard on his chin all crusty with spew. The half smoked ciggy held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled him like seagulls at the beach. A broad sunken face and little beer belly, his breath wrecked of whiskey when he started yelling. And we laughed despite ourselves when he started to share.

A creepy wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave us anxiety and a lot of dread, he spoke a few words but nothing made sense and he filled all the spaces and called us all jerks before tapping his nose and picking a winner, he gave us a nod and sat to eat his dinner. He munched on some beans, cold fresh from the can and washed it old down with a warm bottle of Hahn. And then just like nothing he marched on his way with a little whistle but we heard him exclaim , ere he walked out of sight.

Happy Christmas to all, make sure you have boozy night! Merry Christmas from all our drunk bogan friends across the land. A Christmas classic just copped some of the A Mind of Its Own Brand…

Welcome to the A Mind of Its Own, Christmas survival Spectacular!!! Now normally we aren’t that big on Christmas it’s generally a time of year when we like to crawl into our hobbit hole for a couple of weeks to take some time off and recharge the batteries but there is something in the air this year, well something aside from smoke that’s choking the east coast. Ladies and Gentleman, having kids around at Christmas is great and this year there are plenty of them to share in the excitement with. Children make Christmas and stop us from over indulging on the eggnog or Christmas sherry as well as helping us to run off mum’s Christmas ham. We literally had to stop writing for several minutes in order to stop making everything rhyme but now that we are back we’ll get into the festive spirit and give you the ultimate, go to guide for surviving the Christmas and New Year period in Australia this 2019.

In reality what we are giving you is nothing but common sense. In saying that a lot of us need to be told what’s good for us or what we should be doing from time to time. So as our Christmas present to you all we decided to put together the following tips to help you through the festive period and ensure you all there with us in the new year reading our little blog. We’d make you read it anyway whether you liked it or not. Plus what other blog do you get to learn about racing vibrators, bumper stickers, bin chickens, masturbation, the Dunbar number and self help books. We are only weeks away from doing our annual year in review and this year has been a big one for the team at A Mind of Its Own. So getting back on track…

First things first, before we get started, Air Conditioning is a must across this wide brown land you’ll need that cool breeze to keep you refreshed over the period otherwise you’ll start looking like, a dried up squashed toad on the side of the road in Queensland. Secondly a source of water to lounge around in is always a good thing to have available. Whether it be the dam, neighbors pool or the dogs clam shell. If you have to borrow the dogs shell pool it can be quite uncomfortable especially when man’s best friend tries to get in with you and your tinnies to cool down a little. Thirdly drink only cans, they float better than bottles and stay cooler longer. They are also easier to recycle than bottles. We think, some research may need to be conducted into whether that is or isn’t the actual case.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of surviving Christmas and new years. As many of you will know and have experienced, the festive season can often be a little difficult to navigate for those who suffer anxiety and depression. There are expectations both internally and externally that need to be navigated throughout the period but hopefully with our little survivor pack below those of us that often struggle a little, will be able to manage and cope a bit better. Remember there is nothing wrong in putting your hand up and saying you aren’t OK and this time of year is often a little harder on people for a lot of reasons.

  1. You can choose your Friends, but you can’t choose your Family…

We all know Christmas is a time for family and catching up with friends but there are times when it can all become a little too much. The best way to navigate this is to be open and honest, while you set expectations with everyone and often yourself. Whilst that is often easier said than done there are little ways you can you can manage those thoughts and feelings as they come creeping up on you. Set the expectation early that you may need to disappear or take some time out for yourself whether it be 5,10,15, 20 or more minutes. Take yourself out of the environment and get some fresh air into the lungs. It might be hard to open up to friends and family, but they will appreciate it if you do and it could avoid a lot of the “what’s wrong?” questions. Christmas can often be a time of conflict between families as priorities and preferences can often upset people when they feel like you aren’t giving them the time they need. Unfortunately this is always going to happen but just remember to put you and your family first. Those that are upset will get over it, eventually. Communication is key as always.

  1. Money, Money, Monneeeyyyy…

Finances this time of year can often be a little strained but here’s a red hot tip and again it flows on from point 1. Just be open and honest, you don’t need to go out for drinks or dinner to catch up with people. There are plenty of things you can do without breaking your bank. You can go for a walk, buy a bottle of wine and hangout instead of going to the pub, have a coffee. The choices are literally limitless and can be minimal or cost effective. As for presents well there is always a secret Santa, where you buy one present of a certain value for someone in the family. Whilst it is a time of giving if you can’t afford to give, don’t! Stay within your limits. Again just be open and honest and in most cases people will actually respect you for it, as they may be thinking the exact same thing. Make sure you budget and stick to your budget, try to forecast a surplus, that little savings nest egg will come in handy later in the month or potentially in the new year.

  1. I’m an Exerciser…

With this time of year being one of the busiest and everyone rushing to get things done and closed out before they go on leave, we often stretch ourselves a little thin. Burning the candle at both ends while often involving a lot of fun and seeing friends and family it can become detrimental to your health. Both mentally and physically. If you have a regular routine make the time to stick to it, as close to it as possible. We know it’s often hard when you have family and friends around at this time of year however you need to make time for yourself. The time for you to do the things you enjoy is always good for your mental health and for those around you over the busy period. Things like yoga, gym, meditation and the like are always good and you need to keep doing them if they are a regular occurrence in your life. Worst case get out for a walk or run but if you are generally an active person make sure you stay active. Just because things become a little busier doesn’t mean you should cut out the things that make you happy and keep you sane.

  1. Social Media Bleedia…

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media could have a direct impact on how good you feel this festive season, yes we know we live in a connected world but let’s be honest, generally people only post the good times in there lives. There are studies that point to the fact that looking at other peoples lives via “The Socials” we often get the feeling of missing out and in some cases start to question our own lives. Yes FOMO is a real thing ladies and gentlemen. The holidays, the gender reveals, the babies, family times, the body image and catch ups with good friends. It can and often does have an impact on people’s mental health looking at all of the images and posts of people who seem to be happy and have no issues in their lives. They do but as humans we can now hide behind the mask of social media. From time to time we can often get paid to have our every movement and soft core porn grace the screens and devices of people around the world. It’s yet another thing in our lives that allows us to not have to deal with our own issues.

  1. The Thirst…

Whilst we all love a couple of tinnies or glasses of vino over the festive period we are advocates of everything in moderation. No matter what your choice of poison, drink responsibly. That includes mum’s glazed ham that smells so delicious out in the kitchen. Or the kilo of prawns sitting in the fridge waiting for you to peel. Eat with your belly not with your eyes, over indulgence throughout the festive period whether it be food or alcohol can often lead to heightening of our mental health issues and just poor health in general. Everything in moderation as they say and just because it’s there in front of you doesn’t mean you have to have it. As you all know, alcohol is a depressant and when you are already feeling a little under the weather due to the time of year, adding fuel to the fire isn’t always the best idea, particularly when you have to deal with everything. So whilst we aren’t saying don’t have a good time we are saying maybe have a couple less this year and see if it helps improve things.

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

They say to focus on the positives but when your brain is playing tricks on you and spinning at a million miles an hour trying to process and question everything it’s often hard to do. You hear of people talking about gratitude and ensuring you know what you are grateful for in your life. It’s especially important during the festive period to try and focus on the good in your life. The people you want to spend time with, the people you want to waste your time on. As you know time is precious and we should be spending it on the people we want to waste our time and energy on along with doing the things that make us happy. Again if there is something you want to do, make sure you do it, or communicate that you want to do it. Throughout the period the more you talk the more you will achieve and the more you will be at peace within yourself.

So the moral of our survival edition is basically this or the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) during this festive period, communication will solve a lot of your issues and as selfish as it sounds you need to look after you first and foremost. That’s the crux of it ladies and gentlemen. By doing this you could actually be helping those around you and you’ll find you’ll enjoy the period a lot more. You’ll be less anxious, less stressed and will be able to combat those mental health issues that tend to flare for a lot of people this time of year. Whilst we all have to compromise from time to time the more we talk about it the easier things are on everyone. Lastly a reminder that it’s OK to ask for help or to say that you are not OK. It’s generally at this time of year that people need help or are struggling a little and that conversation and asking them if they are OK can go a long, long way.

And so we leave you for another week and this time we can wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us for the year, we still have a year in review to write for you and there is always a Christmas party story or something political that could no doubt rear its head within the next couple of weeks. After all we are waiting got Trumpasaurus Rex to be impeached. But for now it’s a good night or day depending where you are and as we said a Merry Christmas to you all! Felice Navidad…

Work On Me…

“From Birth to death, everything in between is a memory and will later become your history” – T.M Cullen

With Movember in full flight and the upper lip getting a little itchy, while I sport the worst attempt at a moustache for charity since Caitlyn Jenner went the full snip (Too soon?). I only thought it fitting you all heard from the man behind the blog. The month of Movember is a timely reminder of mental health and health issues for men in general with Movember being the foundation in which research is launched into a myriad of growing health concerns. For me it’s a double edged sword, a month in which I am proud to raise money for something that is close to my heart and also a reminder of a former life that helped to push me in this direction but also threatened to break me all over again. A life full of memories both good and bad, a life that I am thankful I got to experience but also one that taught me a lot of lessons about life and about myself.

Known as Daily Write Cullen to the readers or the Bossman to those who contribute to the literary genius that is A Mind of Its Own. I thought it only fitting being almost 2 years down the track that we, more specifically I, tell you the real story about how and why this blog came to be. The inception of what has become a weekly fluff piece or time waster for some people has become a life saver for me in some regards. It’s given me something to focus both my time and energy on week in, week out. It’s an outlet when I am not working on my book, keeping fit by hitting the gym or playing sports. Whilst many will call that a distraction I would say that it’s a healthy distraction that allows my creative side to flourish and gives our fans and friends something to laugh at each week.

What you are about to read is a story that a lot of people will be familiar with, a story that is probably no different to anyone else’s who suffers from anxiety or depression. It’s a story that helped to create this blog and furthermore the rekindling of the love for the written word. I’ve never been good at talking or writing about myself and when you throw my anxiety and depression into the mix it’s even harder to document and talk about. It’s something that over time I have become more and more comfortable with and accepting of. It’s been a part of my journey and a part of my growth to who I am today.

So to start I need to paint you a picture. Looking back at my youth and growing up there were never any traumatic events or occasion that would trigger anxiety or depression for that matter that I can recollect. Even speaking with my parents now about it all and asking questions there is still nothing that we, as a family can put it down to. I was a happy child who despite having parents who divorced when I was very young and having a stepfather who was often a giant arsehat, had an upbringing in which my mother and father strived to give me everything I needed to be successful in life. Like all kids I fought with my brother and sister but over the years have come to realise just how much they mean to me to the point I have their first initial tattooed over my heart.

I grew up with parents who despite being apart, both wanted the best for me and wanted to see me succeed in whatever it was that I chose to do in life. They supported me and bent over backwards to ensure I could go away on sporting trips to represent my state and had everything I needed while doing that. They supported my hopes and dreams and mum was always driving me to training, games and trials. Academically they could have pushed me a little more but at the end of the day I got their in my own way and perhaps that was the lesson they were trying to teach me. Whilst you can help someone as much as you like at the end of the day if they aren’t willing to do it for themselves they’ll never truly do it.

Along with my grandparents they instilled in me great morals and values. In essence they’ve helped to mould the man I am today. There have been others along the way from coaches to friends and family as well as heroes and idols. They all played a part in shaping who I am, but ultimately I was and I am responsible for the person who I’ve become. I don’t blame anyone or anything for my journey and how things have now turned out, after all everything happens for a reason and I would not be who I am today without the lessons life has taught me. The older I get the more I can look back at moments in life and recognise those life lessons and specific events in which they happened. I also have a lot of hindsight moments after the fact but that’s part of being human.

So what does all this have to do with A Mind of Its Own well the answers lie below. When we look at a piece of art, we all see it differently, we interpret the artists intentions and message differently. I guess that’s what it’s like living inside my head as thoughts and feelings whirl around doing back flips, forward flips and somersaults or perhaps that’s what it’s like for everyone living with anxiety and depression in general but I can only speak for myself. While many people are organised and methodical with their thoughts and feelings, my mind is more like a Jackson Pollock painting with paint flying everywhere across the canvas. That’s probably how the first draft of this blog will look before it’s tidied up, spell checked and proofread. A scattergun approach of thoughts on a page to be deciphered and reordered to make some semblance of sense. But that’s the thing with life right?, sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense, no matter how many questions you answer.

I guess I’ve always known there was always something there, a demon lurking within, that was destructive and angry always threatening to pull me down into the dark pit of despair. From a young age there were signs and indications that I can look back at now and identify for what they truly were. From Anxiety attacks when I was younger and forced to do things I didn’t want to, some I now see as silly (The kindergarten Zucchini in Bikini attack comes to mind, a good story for another day) to the day after day of crippling depression that I would cover over as exhaustion or over doing it from training too much.

The funny thing is that there has always been a sport to mask it whether it be cricket, hockey or footy, in fact looking at it now sport or keeping active whilst being great for my mental health just helped to cover up what was really going on inside me. I would feel great from working out and getting a release of endorphins for a day or two but would come crashing down if my routine was thrown out of whack or things became out of my control. I would focus on burying myself in work, assignments and the latest video game in order to not have to admit to myself or deal with the fact that there was something that I was struggling with. That there is something that I will always struggle with.

Our parents and their parents and their parents, parents never spoke about their feelings or thoughts. It was just something you never talked about, there was and still is a stigma around mental health.It was almost like if you did talk you were crazy or losing your mind and on the off chance you found the courage to talk about your inner demons, there was a good chance you were shunned or called some not so nice names, before they threatened to lock you up in the mental asylum and throw away the key. Being male you were probably told to grow a pair and man the F*ck up. It was never ok to talk about your thoughts and feelings. Whenever I hear the saying “Children should be seen, not heard” it always reminds me of the stigma associated with mental health issues and that it’s still seen in certain circles as being not ok to talk about.

The older I got the easier i thought it would be to ignore the pain, thoughts and feelings that often dominated my mind, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I would analyse everything and question myself and those around me. Have you ever been alone in a crowded room? Well I have, well at least that’s how I often felt and sometimes still feel. I could be surrounded by friends and family and yet still feel completely and utterly alone and that no one understood me. One would think that would be a clear indication that there was something wrong but being a somewhat wannabe tough guy, I would for many more years continue to ignore that there was something wrong and that i was not ok. I was of the elk that it was weak to speak and men didn’t cry despite the nights I’d shamefully hide my crying in the shower. It wouldn’t last long I would meet my match and someone that would push me to my limits until I would become physically sick and finally break.

To date I’ve truly loved two women, what does this have to do with anxiety and depression you ask? Both have managed to bring me to my knees and both times I tried to be someone I am not. I tried to hide what was going on within me and I changed into someone I thought I needed to be not who I truly am. Compared side by side both these women are actually quite similar in a lot of regards. Which had me questioning whether I have a type and whether that type is someone who is not a good match for my mental health but that is a question for another time and place. The one good thing to come from one of those relationships was this here Blog and the fact that I finally found a reason to get the help I needed. It would set me on a path of recognition and respect for myself and the battle that I’ll continue to face throughout my life. It wouldn’t be an easy journey but it certainly was, and is a necessary journey and one that will continue to answer a lot of questions about myself and where I want to go with my life.

Ultimately it would take me sitting by the toilet, tears streaming down my face, throwing up for no apparent reason whilst thinking my chest was going to squeeze the life out of me or my heart was going to explode out of said squeezed chest while my mind whirled with thoughts of what ifs and worst case scenarios before I finally realised I needed help. In hindsight it should have been sitting in the shower crying that did it but no it was becoming so anxious that I was physically ill that did it for me. The next challenge was speaking up and asking for help, which isn’t so hard in theory but something that I struggled with for a long time and with practice have gotten better with over time. I am thankful to the man who helped me through it all and put me in touch with one of Australia’s leading psychologists, he has become a true friend and someone that I can lean on. If I am honest the reason I first sought help wasn’t for me but more for the woman in my life at the time, yeah part of it was my want to be in a good place with my mental health to ensure we had a future together.

Whilst the marriage didn’t last the coping mechanisms and process to help combat the highs and lows will always remain. I would take the first steps to ensure I was on the path to a better, healthier relationship with my mental health. It wasn’t the easiest of journeys I’ll be honest about that. I would wage several skirmishes within myself before I finally accepted what was happening and what needed to be done. When the suggestion to go on medication was tabled I was strongly against it at first. The fear that it would numb me to the point I’d lose my creativity, just created more and more anxiety. What would my friends and family think? Would I be less of a man? Why did I need to do this? All the questions that ran through my head and which I would over analyse for days and days until speaking with the shrink who calmly outlined the benefits and gave me some assurances that I would still be me.

Welcome to my world Sertraline, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Yeah what the Fork is an SSRI? I asked that question when I first heard, thankfully good old trusty Google was there to inform me. Along with the leaflets and information packs handed to me by both the doctor and chemist. SSRIs treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain nerve cells (neurons). SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons. This makes more serotonin available to improve transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs are called selective because they mainly affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters. So I was now on drugs to help me out for a period of time to be determined by the psychologist, my doctor and I. The good thing was I was still feeling like me and I had time to think rather than reacting straight away to things happening around me. I wasn’t experiencing side effects, my creativity was there, my sex drive and even my emotions.

A plan was beginning to form as to how we would tackle my mental health and whilst I was still feeling a little emasculated being on antidepressants and having to talk to a psychologist on a regular occurrence. I was slowly developing techniques and strategies to combat the day to day effects of anxiety and depression. I would also find myself doing plenty of things I never thought I would like meditation and yoga for example. From cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT), Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy I would try them all. I would take little bits and pieces from the sessions and build my own tactics and techniques for dealing with things. I would also find out what worked for me whether it was a release or coping mechanism if you will.

I would still have days where I would fall back into the pit attempting to claw my way out, but they would be few and far between. Over the months following my official diagnosis of general anxiety disorder or GAD as it’s known and depression I would rediscover my love of writing. At the suggestion of the psychologist as a way to deal with recognise and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings at the exact moment. I began to write things down What started out as a journal or diary of thoughts and feelings that were noted and then left on the page never to be thought about again until they were or are discovered in a box months or years later would bloom into something that has now become a piece of pride to me. As I sat one afternoon watching tv and flicking through the unrealistic lives of a lot people on social media, my ex wife said to suggested to me a blog would be a great way to get everything out and could potentially help others going through the same daily struggles. I was going to write a blog, I was going to write for others and not just myself. There was just one slight problem that I would need to overcome.

Whilst the idea of a blog was exciting and gave me something to focus on and pour all that unharnessed and often wasted energy into. I still had my anxiety and depression to deal with. As I wrote piece after piece they sat there waiting to be posted and this is where my anxiety would kick itself into overdrive. I would start to overthink and over analyse what people might think of the blog, of the topics and most of all of me. As I battled with myself whether to post or not to post, it eventually came to the point where ‘Dutch Courage’ or drunk Tim as he is better known pulled the trigger and hit the big post button.On the 13th of March 2018 the first post hit the website much to the disgust of my anxiety. I read that post as I typed this one out and laughed at the poor grammar, spelling mistakes and the fact that my life has changed so much since that day.

In what would become a voice for the people, an educator to the masses and a soapbox for the downtrodden. A Mind of Its Own was born out of a want and need to write. It would go through a couple of iterations before it became what it is today and over time a writing style would develop that is fun, factual and engaging. Well at least I feel it is all of those things. As we’ve said before no topic is safe from the Mind of Its Own twist and the more taboo the topic, the more likely we’ll write about it. The research that goes into each piece is a constant reminder of the research that I did when I was trying to understand and build a picture of what was wrong with me. As it turns out there is nothing wrong with me and writing A Mind of Its Own each week has helped me to see that I am ok, I will be ok and if I’m not ok that, that’s ok too. Living with an anxiety and depression is a common occurrence we just don’t talk about it enough.

I still get a little anxious putting things out there for the world to read and judge me upon but for me that is part of the healing process. The moments of pure vulnerability before I hit the post button each week remind me that I’m alive and that no matter what the world throws at me I’ll get through it. But in all honesty I could never have done any of this on my own.There have been a few people who pushed me along the way and to them I am thankful. There are my friends and family who read every post including the ones I warn them not to and show their love and support constantly and then there are the fans. Without them this blog doesn’t have a purpose. It is for you that these are written. Some of the topics have been suggested and some we’ve just winged from the start but every single one is for the people.

What started out as an outlet for me, has grown into a giant manchild of a blog that will continue to tackle the things that you don’t want to talk about but are quite happy to read about as you take your afternoon toilet break as a way to escape from your job for just a few minutes. It’s also got me thinking that a career in writing could be on the cards after all women love a struggling writer don’t they? Or is that just in the movies? Either way I’ll continue to put out the content week in, week out as it helps with my mental health and if people want to read it all the more better. And if they don’t they are missing out. Where else can you get some slapstick humour, digs at celebrities and actual facts all in one place? I literally spent the last ten minutes wracking my brain for an answer. I couldn’t find one maybe the Onion?

And so ladies and gentleman that is the origin of A Mind of Its Own, it started out as an outlet and soon grew legs and some courage to stand up and take its place alongside the fashion blogs, travel blogs, beauty blogs and the boring blogs that live in the dark corners of the interweb to be a blog that can literally take on a mind of its own and isn’t afraid to stand up and say it’s not ok. That’s the story folks, I needed another outlet that I enjoyed to help with my depression and anxiety and this here blog became just that. We’ve covered a wealth of topics and as previously stated will continue to cover any topic that sticks its head above the parapet.

So from all of the team here this Movember pull out your wallet and donate to someone doing Movember. It’s one less coffee, beer, wine or spirit this week and a great cause. The funds raised go to research into various men’s health issues (Cancer, mental health, suicide prevention) as well as support programs. and Hey it’s a great reason not to shave and raise some money. There’s a link below to my page or you can hit up someone else’s but please, please donate today. Until next week ensure you check in and ask someone if they are ok? Do it for me or someone else you know who’s battling. A single conversation can change someone’s life. Adios Amigos and until next time, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and if you have any suggestions for blogs you’d like to see written hit us up in the comments section.

https://mobro.co/CullenTim?mc=1

You’ve Got The Touch…

Who would have thought that a sentence containing the following four words would lead to this week’s blog – “Is that a euphemism?” and the man you can thank for the distasteful topic is none other than the man affectionately known to his mates as Captain Google, because yes Google tells him everything and also runs his family for him. We often hear him responding to his wife with “Ok Google”. Yeah technology has taken over his life and well we are surprised he didn’t have to Google a topic for this week. It’s an interesting one that will fill our search engine with images we can never unsee. We also hope our parents aren’t reading this weeks blog. Mum and Dad if you are reading stop now please for your sake… Yeah ok disclaimer time…

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the disclaimer, that’s right the disclaimer, this Australian meat pie institution known as parental discretion will cleanse any sense of innuendo or sarcasm from this blog that might actually make you think and will also insult your intelligence at the same time. So protect your family. This blog contains explicit depictions of things which are real. These things are commonly known as life. SO if it sounds sarcastic, don’t take it seriously. If it sounds dangerous, Do not try it at home or at all. And if it offends you, just don’t read it. With the disclaimer now lodged we’ll get started with this weeks A Mind of Its Own and get you all thinking and conversing around the water cooler. Oh and seriously if you are easily offended or not squeamish when it comes to taboo topics stop reading now…

We’ve all done it or at least tried it once and anyone that tells you they haven’t or don’t do it needs a good punch in the junk to get things started. We don’t condone violence but we also don’t appreciate lying about something that is completely natural and yet is still frowned upon and seen in some eyes as immoral. Yes we are talking about masturbating, about flicking the bean or hand to gland combat, call it what you want there are a lot of names for it, some of which had us in stitches for several hours as we tapped out this topic. A topic which is still seen as taboo across many cultures and religions. But why? We live in a world where we literally have everything in the palm of our hands, yeah pun intended there but you know how much we love to reference the internet and mobile devices. Well it (the internet) has given us all the information and porn we need to understand masturbation and all that it entails as well as getting the arousal levels to skyrocket.

Solo sex, Self Partnering (Emma Watson this is what self partnering is champion, rubbing yourself raw, not dating yourself however you do that you weirdo) or whatever you like to call it, is a topic that is rarely discussed in a group settings. We get though its awkward and usually something you do with the lights off in the darkest of rooms so no one can see. But how many times have you been out to dinner with friends or at a BBQ sitting around talking and gone through every single topic including sex, it’s positions and other weird stuff? Chances are you’ve been involved in one of these conversations and if you haven’t been it’ll happen at some point in your life, you aren’t really missing out. It’s only recently that we’ve sat back and thought why don’t people discuss masturbation? They are happy to discuss sexual positions and ensuring their sex life isn’t plain old vanilla but you never hear about their self love or solo sex. Is it embarrassing to discuss with your friends that you touch yourself or is it still seen as wrong to be touching yourself in order to gains some sexual release? We know that doing it in public is an actual criminal act if you are caught and we don’t condone it ladies and gentlemen, save that shit for at home.

Perhaps religion is somewhat to blame for the worlds views on masturbation? Throughout time religious groups have condemned masturbation. Why you ask? Well, aside from it being an affront to god almighty who in our eyes is a bit of a voyeur sitting up there watching all of us get our rocks off. It is seen as a lack of self control and the gateway to promiscuity. Cause touching yourself is an automatic button to go and shag anything with two legs and a heartbeat (facepalm). Some religious doctrine goes as far as stating that masturbation constitutes a moral disorder. Looks like we are going to hell and taking a lot of wankers with us. So while masturbation for both men and women might be frowned upon by religion it exists and if god or gods didn’t want us to masturbate they wouldn’t have invented it right? He, she or they wouldn’t have provided us with sexual organs that make us feel good when stimulated. We get that we use them to procreate however they could have made it feel like nothing or worse be painful but instead they made it pleasurable and desirable to want to touch yourself and others.

Self pleasure has been frowned upon by society though for just as long as religious views. It has long been a school of thought that your partner was to provide you all the pleasure that is often derived from masturbating. In the 1950’s research conducted by Alfred Kinsey found that 92 percent of males reported choking the chicken while roughly 62 percent of women admitted to strumming the clitar. “It is common to meet women who do not masturbate but a rarity to meet a male who doesn’t” claims sex therapist Matty Silver. Apparently this is easy to explain through the introduction of puberty. When males hit 12 or 13 we start getting erections (like masturbating we found so much slang for an erection or getting wood) Imagine if your last name was Wood and you called your sons Max or Jack Wood the amount of boner jokes those kids would cop is unquantifiable. Females however do not get boners and before magazines like Dolly and Cosmopolitans a lot of young girls may never have heard the words masturbation or orgasm. So apparently it’s not easy for women to learn to masturbate and have orgasms. It also becomes harder when they believe that it is the job of their partner.

While there are plenty of people out there that believe there is no need for masturbation whether you are in a relationship or flying solo. Without self stimulation how do you discover your body and become aware of what you like? The more you know about yourself and your body the easier it is to communicate those wants and desires to your partner allowing for more pleasurable, enjoyable experiences together. It’s probably the one time we feel safe talking about masturbation when we are getting someone else to stimulate us but why does it have to be that way. Like sex it is a natural thing, we won’t say beautiful but in some people’s eyes it may be. The team here however do not see it as a beautiful thing but more a necessary and pleasurable thing that is good for people. Yep we are condoning masturbation, in the privacy of your own homes though people!

On top of the pleasure, there are actual benefits to the body which have been highlighted throughout history. Look at Hysteria as an example, it was often treated by sending women to the doctors who would get them off as cure to hysteria. It also led to the invention of the vibrator to relieve doctors whose fingers were frequently cramping from treating female patients with Hysteria. Afterwards it would become a popular household appliance to help women get off on their own. Although taboo it would still happen. Apparently Victorian era women weren’t supposed to be able to feel sexual desire, so hysteria became a disease completely removed from sex. If a woman desired her clitoris to be stimulated, she was clearly sick with hysteria or so the theory went. The cure of course was to stimulate the clitoris until she no longer wanted to be stimulated.

There is some good news it turns out although our recommendations popping up on Google have taken an interesting and scary turn after researching masturbation, there are health benefits to making the bald man cry or doing the three knuckle shuffle if you are female. Benefits include but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual Arousal and orgasm… Apparently they produce Oxytocin.
  2. Oxytocin is the body’s most potent, natural pain modifier, not just for labor and delivery, but also for many types of chronic pain. Get touching we say!
  3. If it releases Oxytocin that means masturbating is good for reducing headaches, muscle aches, pains and insomnia.
  4. It relaxes and relieves tension. Had a stressful day at work whack one out.
  5. It may help fight off depression. During sex and masturbation endorphins are released which can improve your mood.
  6. If you are on your own and your tinder game isn’t strong it gives you the sexual release you need.
  7. Ahh apparently it can improve your immune system and contribute to your overall health. There will be more research conducted into this we promise.
  8. Research has shown men that flog the log regularly, we call them wankers are at less risk of developing prostate cancer (But still get checked fellas!)
  9. Instead of having to take a pill to stop your fella from going early, masturbation helps in combating premature ejaculation. Through training yourself to last longer solo, you’ll last longer with your partner supposedly.
  10. For the ladies, masturbation allows you to explore your body better, you’ll end up knowing exactly what you like when you are have sex with a partner. This will benefit you both.
  11. Sex and masturbation increase the flow of testosterone in the body, which helps in the transportation of the hormone DHEA, which is important for the immune system. The extra testosterone also strengthens bones and muscles.

Ok we’ll leave it at 11 key points just to be weirdos, but that’s just highlighting some of the health benefits. It has got us looking at the office policy for self pleasure. Could it be considered as part of ‘Self Care’? We are kidding, its highly inappropriate but it did get you all thinking about it for a couple of seconds didn’t it. With Google throwing up more and more suggestions for us we did come across a couple of articles about items that can help you out with your masturbation. From smart cock rings that claim to track the exercise of your man bits as well as detect chlamydia and syphilis to kGoal smart kegeling to strengthen a woman’s pelvic floor there’s a smart device for all your masturbatory needs. They are all mobile app enabled with a multitude of settings that’ll help you explore your sexual bits like never before.

For those who live in smart homes there are even devices that connect to your Google, Alexa and various other smart home devices. “Ok Google, whack me off” may just start to become a phrase uttered around homes across the globe. There are even hands free devices for men now, women have had them for awhile but now men can bring new meaning to “Look Ma, no hands” as they cop up to 180 strokes per minute from there dishwasher safe pocket vagina. It was only a matter of time before the sex industry came a knocking on the door of Silicon Valley to help them out with the latest and greatest. From robots to vibrators there isn’t a toy that can’t be tech integrated. Even the old spanking paddle has got an upgrade and some built in sensors to measure pain levels and responses based on your voice to ensure you get the right amount of force each every time for your basic S&M needs.

It’s safe to say that this week’s blog has been interesting, we’ve covered off a topic that is still taboo to talk about in social circles, depending on your friendship group. We’ve learnt that masturbating is actually good for you and that you can now basically get any sex toy in a waterproof, usb chargeable, smart device enabled model. Whether you touch yourself or not it’s not a topic that should be shamed, masturbation is completely natural and ok we’ll say it can be a beautiful thing as you explore your body and get to know yourself and what works for you. The gods will always be perves but it’s not a gateway to promiscuity or hell it’s about knowing yourself and what gets you off. Maybe if more people were open and honest about what works for them, there would be less infidelity and less divorce but at the end of the day it comes down to communicating what you want, when you want and sometimes how you want. There is nothing wrong with being a wanker ladies and gents hahahaha

So without further adieu we’ll bid you a fond farewell for another week on what has been yet another first here at A Mind of Its Own. We hope we haven’t offended too many people. After all is just masturbation. And I touch myself is a great song. We are sorry though to any parents reading this and having to deal with crusty socks or towels just remember you do it or did it and everything is washable. If it’s not washable, burn it or bury it deep within the earth. Let’s change the conversation and rid the world of another stigma, it’s ok to masturbate and it’s ok to talk about it. Just so you are all aware someone is already on the bandwagon and May is masturbation month with the 28th of May being international Masturbation day. Well that will just about do it from the sickos here at A Mind of Its Own. Go forth and be healthy, self love is often the best love. Go on now go and rub one out…

We Don’t Go In There…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck Authority…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growing On Me…

To adult or not to adult that is the question, whether it is immature to live in your youth and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hangovers or take arms against a sea of problems. And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep, no more and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that is heir to a hangover. It is a consummation devoutly to wish it away. To die, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream. There’s the rub, for in that sleep of hangover what dreams may come. When we have shuffled off to our jobs, it must give us pause, there’s the respect that makes calamity of such a long life. There’s something to be said for trying to relive your youth while you walk the earth in an older man’s body.

Yeah ok we may have just bastardised some of Shakespeare’s best work but heck who hasn’t had a crack at modernising that man’s greatest works into something that the youth of today can relate to or even understand. Then again with all their technology and instant gratification, freedom of choice and want it right now society they live in. No wonder they lack maturity and the ability to be part of society from time to time. Hence why we need to make the choice to adult or not to adult these days and it is just that a choice. In today’s society you can be anyone you want,anything you want and do pretty much anything you want, freedom of choice is at an all time high along with divorce, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and sexually transmitted infections.

Last week we spoke of hopes and dreams and this week we thought we’d follow up with growing up and being an adult. It might have something to do with all the sore heads and hangovers experienced by the writers here at A Mind of Its Own over the past couple of weeks ok the past month. In what has seemed like celebration after celebration the minds have grown weary and the body a little sore as they are poisoned with the flavours of the world. A journey around the world through alcohol but without the flights and hotels, the sights and sounds but with all the hangover experiences that often come from being in a city and sampling the local delights. But what is it all for? To numb the pain or quieten the mind? We all have our reasons and often a time throughout our lives we fall into the people we were not the people we have become.

And so we decided that this here blog you are now reading needed to be written in order for us all to give pause and question our actions and behaviours. Particularly those of the past couple of months as we attempt to drink our weight in beer, wine, whiskey, vodka and well anything containing alcohol someone joked that there was licking of wet wipes, we can promise you there wasn’t. There was cause for some celebration but a lot of it was an excuse to reclaim some of our youth as we tried to keep up with the younger blokes and prove to ourselves that we aren’t past it or ready for nights at home with a cup of tea instead of a pint of beer. As they say, It’s all for the character and the arrogant afterglow. What your parents handed down to you to handle. Make sure you carry torches when their putting out your candles, predictions can be unkind but unwind them still. Don’t erase the part of you that’s responsible for your will.

So as we sit here looking over what the last couple of months have brought us in terms of personal and professional development or lack there of. The lessons learnt and the lessons that needed to be learnt one thing has become more and more apparent. We are people that need to adult not just because as we type this out we realise that we are getting older and older every minute but more so because we want to follow our hopes and dreams. One thing we have learnt is that they certainly don’t come at the bottom of a bottle like trinket in a box of cereal. Reliving your youth every weekend certainly won’t help you reach those dreams, particularly if you are spending some of your weekend hungover and feeling sorry for yourself or hugging the royal dalton.

We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t let your hair down and have a good time every now and again but like all things, it’s something that should be done in moderation not just for your body but for your mind as well. Alcohol is a depressant expect for tequila apparently. Not everyone will agree with this approach and that’s ok because it depends on what you want out of life. The saying “Live your best life” is something that will resonate with everyone. It’s just whether we choose to adult and live that best life following those hopes and dreams. For some people this will mean making changes to their lives for the better. For others it will just mean continuing on doing what they have always done day in day out since they made the decision to grow up and act their age. And then we have the people that just decide to go the other way and hold onto their youth refusing to grow up.

We have never been ones to lecture or instruct, in fact we have always attempted to be the ones to start a conversation and get our readers thinking. The whole idea behind a mind of its own was to get people to think about things and start talking about them. Start talking about the things that no one wants to talk about or that have a stigma around them. We’ve written about mental health issues and will continue to shed some light, as well as start the conversation around them and the stigma that comes with them. The more we talk about these things the more common knowledge and accepting it becomes within the populace. And so as part of our decision to adult we will post a blog each week and continue to shed light for the people of the world. It’s not our duty or purpose it’s our want to write along with our ability to write that allows us to do so.

What does choosing to adult look like you ask? Well it’s different for each and everyone of us. For the writers here it’s drinking a little less, looking after our bodies, exercising a little more and frequently, eating healthier, along with being open and honest. Following our truth and allowing us to become more and more open with ourselves and those around us. Finding that vulnerability that we haven’t had or wanted to have in our lives. Knowing that it’s ok to not be ok from time to time and most of all striving towards all the things we want in our lives. It means not questioning everything that happens in life and accepting the person we are, flaws and all because the more you try to change that person, the more you lose who you truly are in this world. And in a world as superficial as the one we currently live in where social media only shows us the good in people’s lives it’s pretty easy to lose the true you in all of that.

Being an adult or adulting doesn’t mean you have to become boring and have no fun at all but it does mean that you need to start prioritising what’s truly important to you in this world and the next. You begin to see life in a different manner and begin to put others before you. You sacrifice the little things in order to get the big things or the things that are most required for you and those that you love. Most of us begin to make good decisions and prepare for the future we put money away for a rainy day, we pay our bills, we make time for those we want to spend our time with. It means doing the things you often don’t want to do, like the days when you just want to lounge around in bed and know that you have to get up and go to work whether you like it or not. It’s all part of being an adult. With age comes responsibility to yourself and to others, it’s just the way it is. You can choose to adult or you can choose to continue to act like a child and never grow up like Peter Pan in Never never land.

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again and we’ll probably said it until we are blue in the face, everything in life comes down to a choice. You hold all the power and you get to make the initial choice that puts you on the path. Without action the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that, intentions said by the man Jordan Belfort himself. So you can choose to sit around and talk about things all day, every day or you can be a person of action who actually wants to get on with things and be an adult. Be you and follow your hopes and dreams. If you want to write, write, you want to dance, dance. If you want to practice law or medicine, do it. But the point is to do something and stop being people that talk about things. Actions speak louder than words as they say ladies and gentleman. It’s time to adult and time to stand up if that’s what you want to do. You can party every now and then but for now it’s time to write the next chapter in your book of life.

Equally if you want to be the centre of attention and the person everyone knows will be up for some fun go ahead no one is going to stop you but don’t be surprised when people question you about growing up or being someone you are not. Whilst it might upset you perhaps people know you and see you for who you truly are. Something that you’ll learn as you mature and decide to adult full time and not just part time as you make your way to work. Or when you hangout with friends and family who have all made the step in the direction to adult or at least attempt to do so. You’ll question things and you’ll want answers to questions that you may never get but guess what? That’s life sunshine not everything is going to happen the way you want it to. You’ll have good times and bad that’s just the way it is welcome to the world of growing up and being an adult now either shit or get off the pot!

So what’s the point of all this, well the point is that at some point in life we all have to grow up but it’s up to us when we choose to do so and much we choose to do so. Life is what we make it and growing up is a choice we choose to make at some point throughout life. It just comes along at different times for all of us. Some of us realise on a night out that we have grown up and are ready to wind it back. The young drunken kids stumbling past us are a constant reminded that we are too old for this shit. The 4 day hangovers are just another reminder but what it really is reminds us that we are ready to truly settle down is the want to be better people. Not that any of us would change the lives we’ve had. They’ve made us the people we are and allowed us to do the things we have including write this blog week in week out.

The writers of this blog are attempting to grow up, attempting to adult and looking to reach for their hopes and dreams. It starts with this blog and finishes with the book the bossman is currently writing along the way we’ll hopefully see a family and catch up with old and new friends. In the meantime we’ll pump out a conversation starter each week and get the people talking about all the things that they don’t want to talk about. Who knows next week we might even talk about the cost of tampons or sanitary pads that’ll get our male readers attention and our females readers wondering whether we’ve lost the plot finally and started to really kick the pot on the topics of the world.

Given that we are attempting to adult and be better people, we’ll stop wasting your time for the week and sign off with some rambling golden advice. Be good to yourself, be good to your friends, be good to your family and heck be good to strangers while we are at it. What’s the saying treat others how you want to be treated. It’s what a good adulting person would do right, well it’s what we’d do and it helps us lead into the next installment of A Mind of Its Own where we’ll attempt to talk about values without ranting or angry but we can’t make any promises. Adios Amigos…

Hand In My Pocket…

WARNING!!! If you thought last weeks post was offensive you probably shouldn’t read past this disclaimer in fact you might just want to put down your device walk to the television and turn on a kids television show. Some people will get offended this week and as always, that’s not our intention but we live in a world where everyone is easily offended. We are sure someone took offense to our talk about accidental fingering of our bum last week. Reader’s discretion is advised…

Before your minds all start wandering and head straight for the proverbial gutter, the title like all of them has no reference to the content of this blog. No this isn’t a post about pocket pool and one’s ability to rub themselves raw through the inside of their pocket for some sexual gratification. No this post, well this post could turn out to be quite offensive to some people as we pointed out in our disclaimer. It’s not intended to be that way but unfortunately we are a precious society who easily get upset or enraged at things that have nothing to do with us or seem to affect us. Why you ask? Because we can’t control the one thing only humans have that all other species lack… Ego. We’ve spoken about it before here at A Mind of Its Own, dubbed ‘Outrage Porn’ we are ready to incite some and hope people will read the post before passing judgement or making a decision that we are beating up the people this post is all about. As always we’ll try to be fair and give a voice to both sides of the coin but we will write it in our slap stick, take the piss comedic way because that’s what we do.

This is a post we’ve been working up to for awhile and one that we wanted to ensure we had all the facts and figures for first before we put it together. It’s been meticulously researched and we’ve spent a lot of time in the bull pen editing and ensuring we don’t piss of too many of our friends from the opposite sex. For some reason this isn’t a topic that men should be writing about or weighing into as we are the core root of the problem or so some would have you to believe. Ok so the sordid topic that is generally frowned upon when written by a man or anyone identifying as masculine is none other than ‘the rise and fall of feminism’. Yeah after the #MeToo movement it’s not something that people want to trifle with in an attempt to get out some pulitzer prize winning piece for the wider community to read. But it is something that has started to make even the most staunchest of feminists question. Have we gone too far? And where would one start an article about Feminism particularly being a privileged middle-aged, white male?

Well that was easy we started with articles written by women, for women on feminism. Not blogs or message boards but actual published articles. All written by paid female writers who never once in their articles whinged about being paid less than their male counterparts or spoke of the injustices bestowed upon women. They were factual and to the point, they related the issues back to the real world and spoke of the ever changing face of the feminist movement. The way empowerment has changed and strayed from it’s true definition and most importantly how the collective has now moved to the singular. It just goes to show how selfish we are as humans, when we need to make things all about ourselves rather than what is best for the majority. Reading article after article along with research papers and scholarly articles all based around feminism and written by women, we started to get an understanding on how the movement has changed. And from an outsider’s perspective it hasn’t changed for the better nor is it empowering women. That’s strike one for us but read on and you’ll see why we’ve taken this stance.

Whilst we agree and are all for fair and equal pay across the board whether you are male, female or identify as something else altogether. If you are doing the same job there should be fair and equal pay. There should also be fair and equal job opportunities, our take on that is the right person for the right job regardless of gender, race, etc. Women’s reproductive rights is something that should not come into question, they (women) should be free to make the choice about bringing life into the world. Equality should be something that is just done, not something that should have to be fought for. Woman should also never feel threatened, objectified, inferior in any environment. Rape, assault and abuse are never ok ever, never. After all isn’t that what the feminist movement was about? Ensuring that females around the world were treated fair and equally? It would seem as there is always is, that there are two systems of thought to feminism, the friendly feminists who just want what is right and fair and then there are the extremists who have found hate and anger at the world in particular at men for our poor treatment and often suppression of them.

Firstly what is #MeToo a movement that even the founder of the phrase feels lost it way a little. Originally coined in 2006 Tarana Burke used the phrase to raise awareness against pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. Now established as a foundation (MeToo), Burke has been quoted as having misgivings about the movement that went viral in the summer of 2017 giving women a voice against sexual assault and abuse. The only problem here was that Burke never intended it to just be for women. It was for people from all walks of life whether you are, male, female, transgender or identified as something else altogether. People from all walks of life are abused, raped and assaulted daily around the globe. “This is a movement about the one in four girls and one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,” Ms Burke said.

Where did it all change, it all changed when Burke teamed up with actress Alyssa Milano and it became a movement with more and more high profile women speaking out against sexual abuse and assault on social media using the hashtag #MeToo. But the movement then took on a mind of its own, not like us however but a militant often malicious mind that attacked and targeted even women who didn’t agree with or spoke out about their concerns and worries that the movement would carry with it for women and men going forward once the initial outrage and shaming was done and the dust cleared. These women weren’t necessarily against giving a voice to what should now be basic human rights they were concerned or worried that the movement would bring about some issues in which people were wrongly accused or women weren’t looked at for jobs. In a sense they were concerned that we weren’t fixing the actual problem we were shifting the power from one party to another. Whilst there are those (women) that will say it’s our time, it’s not really in line with the whole equality thing we are all striving for is it? Strike two against the team writing this in the eyes of those who will no doubt be enraged on our take of the whole feminist movement that behind that was a pivotal moment in history.

What that moment failed to do however was continue to unite women around the globe and we as look as several examples of when woman turned on fellow woman because they didn’t like their opinion or didn’t take the time to fully read and grasp what they were actually trying to convey, you can see why several high profile woman are thinking the feminist movement has lost its way particularly with the millenials who want it all now and have this chip on their shoulders like the world owes them something. In a nutshell they feel privileged and deserving of everything whether they have worked for it or not and no that is not just female millenials it is males as well. However when you throw in a cause or an injustice into the mix they are quite passionate and often militant in getting their opinion across. You’ll see from later examples where a lack of understanding and sometimes simple inability to read and or relate leads to abusing other women who are merely trying to point out that there are certain considerations that need to be made and more importantly thought about when embarking down an unknown road.

To sum up how we (humans) got to this point before we embark down the road where woman decided to pit herself against fellow woman. When people feel a system is failing them in this case the judicial system. They’ll seek an alternative path in the case of the #Metoo movement women felt that the judicial system had failed them and in order to provide a voice against the wrongs happening to them all across the world they turned to the internet. #Metoo was tweeted, posted, and marched around the globe. Women had a voice and were able to speak out against the injustices, the sexual assaults, harassment, abuse, rape and abuse of power that men, yes men have done to women. None of it is ok and no woman should have to put up with any of it ever, it’s not ok. Here’s where this post will divide the readers and some people may find it offensive. Whilst we are all for people being able to tell their stories and have a voice one has to question whether this has empowered women or just handed the power to their oppressors by making them publicly tell their stories. Whilst naming and shaming is a great way to get your message across and there are plenty of arseholes in the world who needed to be taken down have we actually managed to change anything?

Several feminist and well known feminists who have been accused in the past of climbing to fame on top of mountain of men’s decapitated heads or being a dominatrix on the subjugation of men. Who supported the #Metoo movement and feminism have found themselves turned upon by the women they have supported and worked hard to give a voice to over the years. Why were they turned upon? The only answer we can think of for that is because of Ego, because of our inability to control ego and the ideology that has grown behind the movement and ideology that now states if you aren’t with us you’re against us. We have seen it throughout history and continue to see it today particularly with religion and extremists. It’s the extremists who make a movement or religion dangerous and it only takes one bad apple to spoil the rest. Look at Islam, now the most misunderstood religion in the world due to people paraphrasing a book written over twenty four hundred years ago. The same thing could happen to feminism and the #Metoo movement it only takes a couple of extremists for things to drastically change.

Award winning Canadian author Margaret Atwood, the creative mind behind The Handmaid’s Tale books, now a hit TV series available on Hulu in the US and Stan here in Australia is among several women who has received backlash for raising concerns about bypassing the legal system. If the current system is seen as ineffectual for handling matters, what will replace it and who will become the power brokers? Atwood then went on to make a comment that could possibly leave the fairer sex devided. “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.” Referred to and attacked by many who stated she was and quote “A bad feminist” after she signed an open letter calling for due process of a professor who had been accused of sexual misconduct.

The problem with all of this is that Atwood was then accused of declaring war on younger, less powerful women. Like she was using her station in life to help get men off charges of sexual misconduct and rape when all she was asking for was due process. She was not the only woman to receive backlash for asking for a ‘fairness’ or equality when it came to judgements of people who had been accused. Accusations are just that and presumption of guilt should not be leveled until all the facts are available for all to see enabling us to make a sound judgment. Otherwise and as Atwood pointed out citing further backlash we may as well go back to the days of the Salem Witch Hunt where accusations were guilty verdicts as soon as they were levelled. Not once Atwood said she is against what #MeToo stands for or represents her issue is with the skirting of a judicial system and the ruining of people’s lives without proof. Gone are the days of innocent until proven guilty.

Looking into the psychology of why women would attack other women we can only head back towards Ego, the only self serving part of every human. Most women will tell you that they have survived at least one mean girl in their past: a girl who dismissed, put down, or even socially tormented them. What does the research say? It probably goes without saying that the research is complex, particularly because it is challenging (or impossible?) to measure a critical, negative, or hostile attitudes given the self-serving bias that makes people want to see themselves as good and upstanding. Yet women continue to earn less money today than men and occupy fewer positions in politics and at the heads of Fortune 500 companies. Independent of what the research shows, it’s understandable on a common-sense level if women feel that they must work hard to secure whatever social power they can, and this may sometimes take the form of exclusionary practices with other women.

The more we read the more things became a little clearer to us. As men we have a responsibility to help make the change whether it be at home or in the workplace just as much as women do. But in order to create equality things need to be equal and women need to start with their fellow woman. For every article that spoke about #MeToo there were two or three outlining the flaws in the women that have merely asked people to stop and think for a moment. They’ve not asked for the movement to be stopped they’ve just asked that wrongs be right through the proper channels, not through through the court of popular opinion where the masses, educated and uneducated alike decide the fate of a fellow human being before they have a chance to state their case or evidence be presented against them. No one is saying that women shouldn’t be given an opportunity for the wrongs against them to be righted or for justice to served. What is being said is that vigilante justice should remain in comic books and the law should hold those accountable whether it be a company or individual they should be made to pay for their deeds.

Instead women now attack women who don’t agree with them and men hide in the shadows for fear of being labelled. Freedom of speech is dying on both the left and the right, we live in a world where you are always on the lookout to ensure you are politically correct and not offensive to anyone. Both women and men are ensuring they tread the line to ensure they aren’t insensitive or crossing some imaginary line that people once knew where too far was. Now the line has gotten underfoot and we trip over it daily, men tend to do it a lot more than women as we struggle to share the power at home, the workplace on the sporting field and everywhere else in life. Equality has a long way to go and we are far from being close to where we need to be as a society but maybe just maybe one day we’ll get there. Maybe one day in a future generation everything will be equal but for that to happen we need to learn to control our egos.

It doesn’t matter if you are male, female or identify as something else altogether ego will be the downfall and the single point of failure when it comes to equality. Why? Because whether its man or woman we are always trying to one up each other and seize control, power does strange things to people and makes the sanest of people mad once they have it. Our egos drive us to always compete, to be the best, to be number one and most of all cloud our judgement when it comes to others. Ego like personality is different to each and everyone of us. They are often another side to our personality and a side that is often not the best of us when it comes to needing to be one top. To take out that number one spot!

What does it have to do with #MeToo and women, Ego is the reason we feel our opinion is the only opinion and is always right, ego is what drives us to right the wrongs, ego is what pushes us to value ourselves above others. Ego in a sense has a lot to answer for but is it responsible for holding us up as we seek out and work towards a truly equal world? Time will tell but for now the message we’ll continue to deliver is men are just as responsible as women for driving the change. We don’t need to feel threatened or emasculated at home, in the workplace or anywhere else we just need to ensure that we are helping to push things in the right direction for everyone as we all have a part to play.

So if you are a woman and you don’t like another woman’s opinion or she doesn’t like your opinion don’t sweat it. We are all entitled to our opinions. You don’t need to throw around accusations on social media or the public realm just let it go. We know it’s easier said than done but in order for the world to find equality we need for the female race to see each other as equals no matter what you wear, look like or how you live your life. We are a race who needs strives to be on top of the pile but we often destroy each other to get there. When we can learn to curb and control our egos we will be in a better place to move forward and truly become equals in this world. We aren’t saying ego is solely to blame but it does have a lot to answer for an example of this and a major part of the #MeToo campaign was women speaking out against men who had abused, raped and used their positions of power to get what they wanted.

Ego and a sense of entitlement drove those men to do those things, the feeling they deserved and had worked hard driven by their egos let them think they could do whatever they liked. Sadly their egos overshadowed the part of their brains that make logical decisions if they were even able to make logical, empathetic decisions in the first place. Some people are just truly evil, narcissistic arseholes who need to be hung and quartered at the first opportunity. Powerful men who are rich are often narcissists who have massive, inflated egos and opinions of themselves. They are also often the same men who feel women are objects and can be treated with little to no respect. They are merely sexual objects for their amusement and pleasure. Without #Metoo these men would still be getting away with these things and the workplace, home and every other place would not feel safe for many women.

We’ll wrap it up for another week and allow you all to digest this week’s blog while we sort through the emails from people who are enraged at our take on what’s going on in the world. Technology has a lot to answer for in all of this, it’s keyboard warriors lining up behind the keys of a messageboard to spread hate and rhetoric against one another rather than spruiking unity, peace and one love. Equality will come when we are all truly equal and treat one another with respect and compassion that all humans deserve and have a right to. Well all except those who seek to do others harm. So going forward be good to one another and do your part. Until next week we wish you yet another good week and you’ll see another post soon. Ok, Peace out…

You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave…

Whilst there are those of us who look at dreams from a spiritual perspective the team here tend to look at them from the Psychological aspect. We thought since everyone dreams, despite the fact that over 80% of people don’t remember dreaming or more than 5% of their dreams, that we throw on a nightcap and sleeping gown to explore the dream state and look at the psychology behind them. If we have time we might get some spiritual mumbo jumbo for everyone to have a look at, you know to give you both sides of the proverbial coin. Clearly we’ve landed on the psychological side of the coin having watched it spin through the air for several years. Yes there are still things that science can’t explain but for most things there is a logical explanation available.

For the rest though there is always the whack job conspiracy theorist to help brighten up our days. Forward to dreamland we march. We would have liked to do an immersion study into Dreams however someone had to stay awake in order to write this blog for you. A screen full of Zzzz’s whilst looking quite interesting isn’t a very good read, last time we checked. So where does one start a dream blog and what is the appropriate response when someone asks you to interpret their dreams? Hopefully we’ll be able to answer that for you and more in the coming paragraphs. And if not well at least we’ve managed to somewhat entertain you for a couple of minutes with or unique blend of silly fact driven dribble.

Well firstly they say you learn something new everyday and if you haven’t for the day we’ll share with you what we just learnt. The study of dreams, more importantly the scientific study of dreams has its own name. Yep it’s got a scientific term, Oneirology (pronounced On-ear-ology, well at least that’s what the lady on youtube sounded like) which, yeah means the scientific study of dreams. So if you didn’t already know that you now do and potentially learnt something new for the day. Don’t say we’ve never taught you anything here at A Mind of Its Own. After all, sharing is caring as they say and we are all about educating our readers and promoting discussion of our topics. What is knowledge they say? That’s right its power!

According to reputable online forum Psychology Today, the most important scientific findings about dreams can be summarized into 9 key points. They could have made it an even number it would of looked a little tidier. Before we go into those though maybe we should answer the main question burning in our little brains. What is a dream? Well according to the not so reputable website where a lot of university students go to get their information these days. Wikipedia. A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. Why we dream is a little harder to explain and is not yet fully understood from a scientific standpoint. But it hasn’t stopped the shrinks around the globe coming up with theories around dreams and we’ll cover some of these off a little later.

The catalyst for the blog was a conversation with one of our close friends who has had some weird dreams and well the team being who they are the research light bulb sparked and we thought we’d try and help everyone understand why they dream and how dreams happen, why we dream what we dream. So the team will embark on a journey through the synapses to understand the how, what, where and why of it all. After all the whole premise of this here blog to answer questions and create conversation isn’t? Or are we just writing for the fun of it and people have slowly started to join in and read the rubbish that gets post each week while they are sitting on the can voiding their bowels?

A little graphic from the writers but we are trying to paint a picture here and speaking of pictures did you know that not everyone dreams in colour? Studies have found that people who predominantly grew up watching black and white TV tend to dream in black white, what colours they do see are said to represent feelings. Those who grew up in the 21st century tend to dream in colour and rarely have black and white dreams or colours that represent feelings. Speaking of thoughts and feelings it is believed and scientists are working on proving it that you dream when your thoughts and memories are being reorganised. You also tend to express your hidden desires when you dream. Your mental schema is also modified when you dream. Most dreams we witness things happening through visual or auditory perception.

And yeah someone asked the question Do Blind people dream? Silly of course they do, their dreams are more auditory than visual and they images they “see” have been described as a blur or non-existant or even created from their memories that have been built with touch and sound. It made us wonder whether someone could input images into a blind person minds and they would then know what a lot of things look like and be able to experience and see colours for the first time. Science has no doubt had a few things in the pipeline for years, heck he CIA used to experiment with mind altering drugs in the 70’s. It’s not a far leap to think they may have started experiments to make the blind see and experience in their dreams.

For those of you who wish to understand the meaning of your dreams well that’s dependant on what you link your dream images to and how you wish to interpret them altogether. There is no science behind how to interpret your dreams it is purely up to the individual to work out their own dreams. The surprising fact that has been scientifically proven is that the average person spends around six whole years of their lives dreaming, on average that’s two hours per night. Early studies led to the belief that we only dream during the earliest phases of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. However, more recent studies have shown that we dream through all the various sleep phases. When it comes to remembering our dreams though that’s where the lightest REM phase comes into play. According to scientists anyway and we tend to trust those guys given they do these studies for a living.

The anatomy of the sleep cycle is actually quite interesting and helps to explain why we remember dreams during the various phases of REM and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). Over the course of the night the body goes through the five stages of sleep 4-6 times spending an average of 90 minutes in each stage. As we spend so much of our lives sleeping it’s no wonder that we dream and dream often. It’s our dreams that can inspire others or lead us to individual greatness. They say dream big, or to go big or go home and well we have to agree with them. Whilst dreams are often our subconscious coming through and pulling with it the things we want and need in our lives.

Ok now that we know sleep is broken down into 5 phases or four phases depending on which school of thought you come from, we now know we dream throughout those 5 or 4 phases. We can now take a deeper look into the breakdown and psychology of our dreams. Yes we’ll try to answer the questions for you as to whether your dreams are a presentation of the future, past of present, our just our hopes and dreams playing out in the dreamstate? Hopefully we can answer that for you in the next couple of paragraphs before you fall asleep and start dreaming about the day we write a blog that keeps you awake and doesn’t bore you to sleep. We are kidding we know you can’t stop once you pick up our blog each week.

Ok so we thought the best way to do this would be to pick out some facts that have been scientifically proven, queue the anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and conspiracy theorists to argue the point just because they can and they will. They are a little like a mosquito flying around your room when you are trying to sleep. Ok, we kid, we kid they are ok and they are entitled to their opinions, even if they go against science. So some of this we have covered already above and some of it is new to us but we thought we’d give you some of the psychological effects and reasons behind our dreams. We picked thirteen to be annoying and because the boss keeps telling us that everything has to be an even number and it’s annoying us.

1. In Our Dreams, We Only See Faces That We Know

When you first hear this fact, you might think it surely doesn’t sound right… But in our dreams, the faces we see are faces that we know! Experts insist that our brains cannot invent new faces to feature in our dreams. This means that any face we see in our dreams is one we’ve seen before. This doesn’t mean that you personally know that person. Since most of us encounter “extras” in our dreams, this information may come as a surprise.

However, consider that we constantly encounter faces that we don’t necessarily log as important. So, a newsreader on a TV segment and a stranger on your commute to work can feature in your later dreams, and we may not recognise them as people we’ve already seen.

Most of the major players in our dreams are likely to be people we know quite well, or at least used to know. In some cases, our brains can also present a strange hybrid of people we know and those we don’t. For example, you might believe you’re interacting with an old friend in a dream, and their personality may fit perfectly. However, when you wake up you, might suddenly notice that they were “played” by a person with a different face, sometimes someone you’ve only encountered in passing.

2. Not Everybody Dreams In Colour

Surprisingly, not everyone dreams in color. In fact, a full 12% of sighted people will dream in black and white. Studies which were conducted from 1915 to the 1950’s supported that a majority of dreams had been in black and white. However, after the 1960’s the numbers did shift over to color. Further, the number of people who dream in black and white is dropping as the years’ pass. Research suggests that this could be linked to the fact that this was around the time that TV switched from black and white to color, so there may be a correlation.

3. Your Mind Is More Active During a Dream Than When You’re Awake

Most of us associate the idea of sleep with a slowing down of the mind and body. This makes sense, given that being asleep is all about resting, recharging and getting ready for a new day. Plus, a good sleep is profoundly relaxing and refreshing, giving you the impression you’re your brain has been working more slowly. However, don’t assume that your mind is less active during dreams. In fact, it’s more active then than it is when you’re awake! You can see this in the concrete data provided by sleep studies that track electrical activity in the brain. The above fact may not make sense to you at first glance, but it has a lot to do with the variety and significance of waking life. This appears to be because your brain is busy learning from what you did over the preceding hours, processing problems that remain, and making sense of everything you’ve seen and felt during the day. Some research hints that the brain is even more active during sleep when you’ve had a novel experience in the last 24 hours, or when you’ve been through a major change of some sort, whether positive or negative.

4. Animals Dream Too

Have you ever noticed that when your pet is asleep, they sometimes make noises, or twitch their paws as though they are running? This is because animals also dream. Studies have been conducted which showed that when animals are in the REM stage of sleep, they all show the same brain waves as we do when we are dreaming. The studies have included chimps, dolphins, dogs, and cats. It’s fair to speculate that most mammals (at the very least) dream, just like we do. This means that they can also be unsettled by their experiences of dreams. So, keep an eye on your pet after sleep to make sure they aren’t feeling out of sorts after a nightmare. We can all relate to that feeling of discomfort and disorientation after a dream!

5. Blind People Can Also Dream

It’s not only people who can see that can dream. Blind people can also dream. Those who had become blind after birth can still see in their dreams, however, those who have been born blind cannot see in their dreams. Those who cannot see in their dreams, still experience dreams in a different way: through smell, sound, touch and other senses.

6. Dreams Speak Through Our Subconscious

Now, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered “What do dreams mean when you dream about someone specific?”. As mentioned at the outset, there’s still a prominent school of thought according to which dreaming of someone or something can tell you something useful about how you feel, and about what you want from life. So, what does it mean when you dream of someone repeatedly? Psychological facts about dreams of someone suggest that it can indicate a range of things. In some cases, you repeatedly dream about someone because you care a lot about them and have some kind of unresolved issues with them. This could be a romantic interest, or it could be about losing touch with an old friend. It could just as easily indicate an ongoing conflict under the surface of your dynamic with a family member.

7. Dreams Are Often Forgotten

Everyone has dreams when they sleep, it’s just that a lot of us don’t remember them when we wake up. It is simply not easy to hold onto the bulk of the content of your dreams. Up to 60% of people do not remember their dreams at all, especially after the first 5 minutes of waking up. In addition, for the average person, 90% of the details from dreams have vanished within a mere ten minutes. This means you can really only remember a fraction of your dreams. The exception to this is if something ways you during the rapid eye movement stage of your dreams (i.e. REM sleep). When this happens, you’re typically more capable of recalling dream information. The downside is that you will also feel startled, and will miss out on one of the most important, healing parts of the sleep process. Of course, dreams are also more likely to stick with you if they repeat or have emotional resonance. However, if you have a general interest in remembering dreams, try keeping a notepad by your bed and noting down an outline as soon as you wake. This means you can regularly come back to your dreams and see if you notice overlapping themes or can figure out any potential messages from your subconscious mind.

8. Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is where you have a temporary inability to move or speak. This can occur either when you are waking up or when you are falling asleep. Most people will experience sleep paralysis once or twice in their life, whilst others can experience it more regularly.

Sleep paralysis does not feel like you are in a dream, it feels real. Some people have said that during their experience, they feel a sensation that someone or something is in the room with them. Sleep Paralysis normally lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.

9. Some Dreams Could Be Premonitions

There have been some cases where people have claimed to have dreamt things that turned out to actually happen later. Some say it is coincidence, while others say they can see the future and experience premonitions. The cases recorded include: Abraham Lincoln dreaming of his assassination, many victims of the 9/11 had dreams warning them, and there have also been 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic, to name a few.

10. You Can Act Out Your Dreams When Sleepwalking (And Worse!)

Sleepwalking is known as an extreme form of REM sleep disorder. For some, sleepwalking can be mild and for others, more serious. Some cases could be where you walk around your room or talk to others, whilst sleeping. However, there have been cases where people have left their homes, or drawn gorgeous paintings that they cannot paint when they are awake.

11. Dreams Recharge Your Creativity

You may have thought that apart from any subconscious messages they contain, dreams must be quite useless. That’s not so much the case. They can actually improve your performance in seemingly unrelated areas of your everyday life. According to research reported by the American Psychological Society on the psychology of dreams, they work wonders for your creative faculties in particular. If you’re an artist, you might have already spotted this, but the type of creativity we’re talking about here also applies to things like creative problem-solving. Apparently, this is because the process of dreaming is a lot like using your imagination to be creative. When your brain analyses and tackles problems during your sleep, it’s activity parallels that witnessed when you’re being creative in waking life. This means that no matter what your preferred artistic mode of expression might be, you’re likely to be better at it after a night of vivid dreaming. And, as a bonus, you may find direct inspiration in your dreams. For example, if you dream about a fantastical scenario, go through a challenging experience or revisit a moving aspect of your past, this can help you “tune into” the types of intense emotions that boost creative output.

12. Men And Women Dream Differently

When women dream there are normally an almost equal amount of both men and women that are involved in their dreams. However, for men, around 70% of the people in their dreams are other men. As well as this, men have been known to have more aggressive dreams than women too. Women also tend to have slightly longer dreams.

13. 50% Of Dreams Are Negative

Research has found that most dreams include negative emotions. 50% of all dreams are normally negative. In a study that was conducted, the common emotions that people experienced during their dreams were sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety.

So we aren’t too sure as to whether we answered any questions or all questions or just wasted a lot of our time and your time this week as we dreamed away 5 pages of what would no doubt be some of the most boring material we have come up with to date. The adventure into dreamland wasn’t as exciting as we had hoped it was even a little mind numbing and boring to us which is probably why it took so long to write and edit. That and we’ve actually been busy at the job that pays the bills so we thought rather than getting sacked and sitting around coffee shops all day writing books and blogs we should make some actual money and stop eating two minute noodles. Ok to be the struggling writer when you have nothing to actually do but it’s not ok when you have a job that pays you quite well.

Anyway that’s enough from us for another week, we’ll leave you in peace and wish you a fond farewell until the next piece of literary genius hits your inbox and dances across your screen like a burlesque dancer at a show on a friday night in northern siberia. Like always we’ll love you and leave you, thanks for being the ever faithful fans and supporting us like you have from day one on this amazing journey into the blogosphere. Yeah we just dropped blogosphere after saying we never would. And on that note we’ve been A Mind of Its Own and it’s been our pleasure have a good day or night wherever you may be.

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’ 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 we’ll 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”.