Broke and Hungry…

Everyone can write, well almost everyone, there are those that unfortunately are left behind by society and struggle to string a sentence together through no fault of their own initially. However as they grow older they do have a choice to do something about it. It is never too late to learn, to teach, to guide, to share but it is a choice as to whether or not you want to better yourself. This blog is often a way for us to better ourselves as we research topics to ensure we are providing you with not just an opinion piece but something factual and inspiring. Over time our style of writing has evolved to the point we’ve even noticed it as we read through some of the past pieces that have graced your screens. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fundamentals and the purpose of A Mind of Its Own…

This week’s blog idea came to us via the south coast, as many of you know much of Australia has been devastated by bushfires in recent months and yet the spirit and sense of community is so strong and apparent in these areas it would melt the coldest of hearts. Despite the destruction and devastation people are getting on with life and it hasn’t dampened their imaginations or want to learn or share with others. So to our good friend known as the Hammer thank you for your ongoing support and inspirational ideas for this weeks blog. As much as we enjoyed the conversation about starting a bush dildo racing league we feel the thought and controversy behind the suggestions offered up will have the pundits running to the local Bunnings or hippy shop.

Again this is another topic that we’ve had to research as our knowledge was limited despite the fact that we use it on a daily basis. With all things that we (Human’s) don’t understand there is an inherent fear, a fear of the unknown, just look at vaccinations and the reaction from those that don’t understand or want to understand the science behind them. As humans we tend to react before we understand all the facts or have done any research into things. So we thought before everyone overreacts we’d do some research and read a few papers on the effects of this week’s topic on your health. But in order to do that we first need to give you an understanding of what it is that we are writing about and thanks to the Hammer how this all came about. So let’s crack in and get started, welcome to another week down the rabbit hole Alice…

What is 5G and why does it scare people so much? Wireless networks have been around for decades now and if you believe the Americans they developed the technology for WiFi or wireless and yet there is strong evidence that it was a “Failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle” by our very own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the CSIRO as they are better known that uncovered the keys to developing WiFi and subsequent wireless mobile networks. 5G literally stands for fifth generation, 5G surprisingly like its name is the fifth iteration of the global digital cellular wireless networks. Since the introduction of 1G and GSM there have been great advancements in technology, speed and ability of the cellular networks.

5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the telephone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a pool of frequencies that are reused in other cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless back haul connection. As in other cell networks, a mobile device crossing from one cell to another is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the new cell.

OK so we now know that 5G is the thing that will allow our phones to communicate, send messages, watch YouTube, stream videos, video chat and all the rest. The major benefits of 5G though are the speeds at which we can connect and if all the reports coming out are correct the network will be faster than your home internet connection. By faster we mean a hell of a lot faster reportedly at almost up to 10 to 20 Gbps fast. That’s up from the 10 Mbps the current 4G network roles out. Goodbye NBN and hello 5G and a larger data plan. We may just see a lot of Aussies doing this and “hot spotting” from their mobile devices. It would make sense wouldn’t it given that our internet is slower than some third world countries. Yeah the NBN was a great outdated Idea by the time it was rolled out, oh wait there are still parts of the country waiting for the NBN to be switched on.

From a technology standpoint having fast, speedy, reliable networks to connect your mobile devices to is amazing. However there are pundits out there that believe the health effects from 5G are much more significant compared to the generations of cellular digital networks that came before it. Firstly we aren’t saying they are wrong, there is still a lot of research to be done on the effects of high energy radiation on the human body. Yes we hear you and yes we just used the word radiation. Before we all get our undies in a twist let’s look at the actual science behind and not just focus on the articles being pumped out by reputable news sites such as Facebook and alternative health websites. The latter are the same sites that tell us vaccination is killing children and bad for us, so they are rating quite low on the list of things to read here at A Mind of Its Own.

Whilst sighting studies and research from reputable places such as the world health organisation (WHO) those studies do say that there is still a lot of research to be done to prove the effects 5G has on the body. Some of the articles go on to explain the following effects without having the science or research behind them to actually back it up. They are more opinion pieces, that have gathered stories or taken from other articles without fully understanding what they are putting out into the ether that is the internet. The new 5G network generates radio frequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer, cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging, disrupt cell metabolism and potentially lead to other diseases throughout the generation of stress proteins.

These claims are quite scary on their own and until the science is there to back them up quite unsubstantiated. They create panic and fear among communities rather than generating conversation and understanding. Again like all things in life we fear the unknown, the unexplainable and most importantly what we don’t understand. At a Mind of Its Own we aim to give you both sides of the proverbial coin and educate rather than cause panic and misunderstanding among the masses. So let’s take a deeper look into the science behind 5G networks and what the potential health risks are compared to earlier generations of digital cellular networks.

Like 5G its concerns are only the latest iteration of headlines and unclaimed, unfounded sentiment on the world wide web by people who often don’t have degrees let alone doctorates. The main concern is electromagnetic radiation that includes everything from WiFi to smart meters. At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radio frequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to the light produced from your monitor or light the sun. RFR clearly isn’t as inherently dangerous as some of the sites and blogs make it out to be, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances they could potentially become dangerous.

Science and the guys that do it Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. We aren’t in the sciences so we’ll need to go to Wikipedia to find out what non-ionizing and ionizing. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.

Dr. Steve Novella (Sounds like a made up name, we assure you it is not), an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine website, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons, they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most of the concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect,” he said in a recent report. Or, in the less refined but more visceral words of author C. Stuart Hardwick, “radiation isn’t magic death cooties.”

Of course as is always the case, just because there’s no known mechanism for non-ionizing radiation to have a biological effect, that doesn’t’ mean it’s safe or that no effect exists. But in order to find out those effects, researchers will need to continue conducting studies into the effects. One recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. This widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, found that high exposure to 3G RFR led to some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The study was a good objective lesson in how hard it is to do scientific research of this type. The science points out, the number of tumors detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects). Moreover, the level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats.

“Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.” Ongoing studies aside, 5G is coming, and as mentioned, there are concerns about this new technology. A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.” Says Dr. Novella, What they’re really saying is dose is going to be higher?. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask. But skeptics caution you shouldn’t confuse asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and a frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “Within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.” But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature. The FCC—responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use in the United States weighed in as well. Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC was quoted saying the following, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The FCC defers to the FDA for actual health risk assessments, which takes a direct, but low-key approach to addressing the risks: “The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

In 2011, the World Health Organization classified RF Radiation as a Group 2B agent, which defined it as possibly carcinogenic to humans. In saying that you have to look at all the other things they classify as a possible carcinogen. They have been put in the same class as things like caffeine. It’s like saying everything causes cancer. Part of the problem with the WHO declaration is that it’s focused on hazard, not risk, a subtle distinction often lost on us non-scientists, not unlike the rigorous distinction between “precision” and “accuracy.” (Precision refers to how tightly clustered your data is; accuracy refers to how close that data is to the real value. You might have a dozen mis-calibrated thermometers that all tell you the wrong temperature with a very high degree of precision.) When the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, it’s asserting hazard without regard for real-world risk. Dr Novella went on to explain, “A loaded pistol is a hazard because theoretically, it can cause damage. But if you lock it in a safe, the risk is negligible.”

Scientists will continue to test new network technology as it evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. As the NTP study showed, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress with quantifiable data. For now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us that there’s no reason to be alarmed. After all, there are many technologies we use every day with a substantially higher measurable risk. With 5G the hazard is low but not zero and the actual risk appears to be zero.

As we’ve pointed out there are risks but they are low, very low risk and there is still not enough evidence, support or research to point to a definitive yes or no. So for now ladies and gents we recommend that you not read anything on Facebook or any sites suggested through the book. If you do be sure to at least do your own research before you make up your mind on whether or radio frequency radiation is good or bad. On that note we’ll leave you to it for yet another week while we go and research next weeks blog so we can get to work on the writing for you fine people. Adios amigos until next week have a frothie or two for us. A Mind of it’s own team out (insert Mic drop).

Bigger Than My Brain…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll Be Your Man…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes Of The Sidewalk…

What a year 2019 was, there was certainly some highlights and low lights and in our annual review we plan to cover them all. It’s what we do here at A Mind Of Its Own. As the decade came to a close, a new chapter was opened and the history books were finalised once again with the who, the what, the where and the why of the last 10 years. The team at A Mind of Its Own were there for a lot of it but as it’s our annual review we’ll focus on 2019 and the year that created a lot of change within our country and personally within our lives. It was a year that saw some sadness, some growth and some strange and unusual things, so without further adieu we’ll let the team take it away from here.

Like all good publications we’ll cover the things that made the headlines in 2019 across Australia, yeah we are going to stick to our homeland and spread some of the craziness that made us stop and think over the past year. There was a lot of questioning done throughout the year and not a lot of answers were forthcoming. So to kick us off we’ll look at events and commentary from each month of the year that had heads turning and people palming their own faces.

January

  • 3 January – One man is killed and another is injured following a double stabbing at the Asia-Pacific headquarters of the Church of Scientology in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood, and they still deny they are a cult?
  • 5 January – A far-right political rally held in Melbourne, marked by scuffles with police and counter-protesters, is attended by Independent Senator Fraser Anning, who admits to using tax-payer funded travel to attend the event. Afterwards he got the Australian version of the swastika tattooed on his back for the next rally so he fit in with the rest of the far right bogans.
  • 7 January – A mass fish die-off occurs on the Lower Darling River at Menindee Lakes. Up to 1 million fish, including endangered species, ultimately die in what is described as possibly the largest fish die-off in Australian history. Where’s Greta when we need her to give the government a serve about killing our rivers?
  • 24 January – Professor Tanya Monro is appointed Australia’s next Chief Defence Scientist, the first woman in the position. The female Sheldon Cooper with a personality she’s a smart cookie who has some inspired ideas.
  • 29 January – The South Australian Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission report is released. The commission, which commenced in 2018, was critical of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the Commonwealth Murray Darling Basin Authority. *Note to the government! Stop selling our water to overseas interests!

February

  • Four people are killed and over a thousand people remain evacuated from homes in Townsville as flooding peaks in the city, following a metre of rainfall in the first week of the month. Among the dead were two men on February 4, and two young boys on February 25, all from drowning. – No comment needed 😦
  • 4 February – The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry final report is tabled in Parliament. The report makes 76 recommendations. Well we all know banks are in the business of making money and that’s just what they did. Not just one of the banks but all of them.
  • 12 February – The Liberal-National Coalition government becomes the first Australian federal government to lose a vote on its own legislation in 78 years, after a defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives. Hmm we’ve touched base on politics a few times throughout the year and well it’s just been disappointing.
  • 13 February – Nineteen homes are destroyed by bushfires in the New England and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales. Was this a sign of things to come later in the year? We certainly think so!
  • 26 February – Following the lifting of a suppression order, it is revealed that Cardinal George Pell had been convicted in December 2018 of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996. All we can say is about time! The church has been hiding it’s secrets and disgusting people for way too long!

March

  • 13 March – Cardinal George Pell is sentenced to six years in prison following his conviction over the sexual abuse of two choirboys. Yeah boy! But six years isn’t long enough he should be locked up and the key thrown away! Where do we stand on the death penalty?
  • 23 March –
    • The Liberal-National Coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian wins the 2019 New South Wales state election and returns to office with a reduced majority. Didn’t stop her from wasting money on a new stadium that wasn’t needed.
    • Tropical Cyclone Trevor makes landfall in the Northern Territory. Who comes up with the names for Cyclones? And how do we get that job?

April

  • 11 April – Actor Geoffrey Rush is awarded $850,000 in damages after winning a defamation case against The Daily Telegraph. What’s the saying mum? Oh that’s right if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

May

  • 18 May – 2019 Australian federal election: Scott Morrison’s Liberal/National Coalition Government is narrowly re-elected, defeating the Labor Party led by Bill Shorten. Scotty from marketing got his job and is now leading the Nation, opinion is divided whether he is doing a good job or not.
  • 30 May – Anthony Albanese is elected unopposed as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, replacing Bill Shorten. Richard Marles is elected deputy unopposed, succeeding Tanya Plibersek. Politics is boring enough through in Albanese and it just makes us want to stab our eyes out with teaspoons.

June

  • 4 June – At least four men are killed and a woman was injured after a 45-year-old gunman allegedly goes on a shooting spree in the city centre of Darwin, Northern Territory. When things like this happen it makes us sad but at the same time we are thankful our gun laws are as tough as they are.
  • 4–5 June – The Australian Federal Police raid the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst and the headquarters of the ABC over national security and special forces stories. Not sure what they found or whether Annika had anything that was of interest but the allegations levelled at some of our national heroes were quite interesting.
  • 24 June – Parts of the Darwin CBD are evacuated after the city is impacted by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake originating in Indonesia. Another precursor that the planet is furious with us for killing it.

July

  • 1 July – David Hurley is sworn in as the 27th Governor-General of Australia. Onya Davey boy!
  • 8–27 July – A biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise Talisman Saber 2019 is held. What an exercise it was, tanks, ships, planes and troops stormed the beaches of Australia in what can only be explained as a joint readiness exercise. Perhaps they knew Trump would attempt to start a war to stay in office.

August

  • 13 August – 2019 Sydney stabbing attack. Senseless violence on the streets once again.
  • 16 August – Pro-Hong Kong protesters clash with pro-China supporters in Melbourne, while police are forced to intervene during similar confrontations in Sydney and Adelaide, following the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.
  • 21 August – The Victorian Court of Appeal dismisses George Pell’s appeal to overturn his conviction for child sex offences. Yeah they did, rot in jail George you scum.
  • 29 August – An attempt to deport Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingham (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades) was thwarted by a last minute injunction, forcing the plane carrying the couple and their children out of Australia to land in Darwin.

September

  • 9 September – Homes and buildings, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge, are destroyed by a bushfire in Queensland’s Scenic Rim region.

October

  • 26 October – Climbing Uluru is banned by authority of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park board. About bloody time!
  • 31 October – The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report is published and tabled in Parliament.

November

  • 8 November – Three people were killed and 150 homes are destroyed by a large number of bushfires burning across New South Wales and South East Queensland. Little did Scotty from marketing know that they would just get worse and the entire country would be on fire.
  • 11 November – A week-long State of Emergency is declared in New South Wales and the Australian Defence Force is put on alert amid mounting bushfire warnings.

December

  • 30-31 December – Eight people were killed, hundreds of homes are destroyed and the Royal Australian Navy is mobilised to assist evacuation efforts following bushfires on the New South Wales South Coast and in Victoria’s East Gippsland.

Sport

We saw the return of Smith and Warner to Australian Cricket, as well as the birth of the man affectionately known as “Loose Bus Change” Marnus Labuschagne which immediately instilled faith in all Aussies that we might actually win a test or two this summer. After dispatching Pakistan and now tearing through the Kiwis it looks like we are back on track to continue our domination of the test arena. Meanwhile Rugby suffered a setback when it lost test winger and religious faithful Israel Folau after a tweet went viral condemning most of us to hell. To make matters worse we struggled on the big stage and failed to make the semifinals at the World Cup hosted in Japan.

Our tennis brats continued to make headlines for doing just that being brats. Some of our Olympic swimmers failed drug tests, Richmond won the AFL Grand Final and all barbers opened up for Dusty cuts. In League the the boys from the Eastern Suburbs took the win over the Raiders in the who cares cup. Some horse won the Melbourne Cup after thousands of people got shitfaced and missed the race while some of our bleeding hearts protested the races altogether. Some of the lesser known sports dominated with the Green and Gold fairing well on the world stage. Our Men’s hockey team took out the inaugural FIH Pro League over Belgium while our women went down in an extra time shootout to the Dutch to take silver. As Ricky Bobby said “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.

The netballers lost the world cup to the mother country in a tight fought contest over in the UK, Motorsport well as you are aware it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball so we’ll just say some blokes drove cars or bikes around a track for hours on end. Our soccer players did what they do best diving around the ground in agony after breaking a nail. The athletics department did what they always do and ran, jumped and threw things trying to beat the juiced up Americans and really quick Jamaicans. Our equestrians jumped and trotted around on horses setting the arenas alight with their displays of pure horsemanship. Australia’s water sports people had a good year ensuring they stayed afloat for another year. The golfers holed out and well we must of done alright in every other sport we competed in we are Australians after all.

Other News

Worldly Swedish 17 year old Greta Thunberg rises to fame after telling the world we are killing it and not having seen anywhere outside of Sweden. Whilst her point is very valid and we appreciate her voice in the world there are people actually doing things to make a difference to climate change who are completely ignored. But that’s a story for another day. The reefs are dying around the world so we’re right with Greta on her message of climate change. President Oomph Loom-pa finally got impeached and 2020 will hopefully see him found guilty and thrown in jail, that’s if someone doesn’t claim the $80 million dollar bounty on his head thrown out by Iran recently. The US had even more mass shootings than any previous year recorded. Trump made the news for just being Trump, the UK finally entered Brexit and Boris Johnson got a new taupe. China caused a ruckus in the South China sea once again, Japan made human/animal hybrids. The Russians meddled in everyone’s affairs, the Stans continued fighting among themselves, Africa was once again pillaged for it’s natural resources and Europe well their economy faulted and terrorism ran rife once again.

In a nutshell 2019 was a year that a lot of are happy to see the back of, there was a lot of heartbreak, some good times and plenty of wow and what the fork moments. It was a year in which we learnt, researched and wrote some of our best pieces. The discovery of our own style of writing mixed in with a humorous approach locked in a formula that works for us and allows us to tackle the tough topics that people often find taboo. Strangely enough a lot of them are sexual in nature or relate to things that we’ve been brainwashed not to talk about for generation to generation. And so for the team at A Mind of Its Own we are looking forward to what the next 10 years bring and the evolution of ourselves as writers and a brand.

So until next week where we’ve decided to tackle an age old question that has plagued many a man and women for at least the last decade. Wish you all a fond farewell, again we’d like to send a massive shout out to the women and men on the front lines fighting to keep us all safe from the fires. You guys are truly the Heroes of the Sidewalks! Without our volunteers and the Rural Fire Service things could be a lot worse than they already are and things are pretty bad. To everyone who has donated or given up their time to help those in need we take out hats off to you. Again if you feel you need to help in some way we’ve provided links below for you to donate to one of the wonderful charities helping out those most affected… Thank you to each and everyone of you!

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

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

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…

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…

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”.

Love The Way You Lie…

We all have a past that’s the thing we need to understand, we need to work through and sometimes more than not we need to move past. That’s the thing about the past though it’s in the past, it has already happened and unless you’ve found a way to bend time and travel through it into the past there is not a goddamn thing we can do about it. What we can do though, is live in the gift that is now and make it so great that we have a grasp on what will become of the future, what we can do is make the most of the now as it will greatly impact what the future holds for us. As many a great philosopher and scholar has written we are able to mould the future to an image that most suits us, most suits our purpose.

With all the self help books and gurus in the world you would think by now that someone would have written a survival guide for getting through the day to day. We all experience things throughout our lives. Pain, death, loss, trauma, you name it and you will no doubt experience it at some point in your life. You’ll try to fix what you think is wrong with you or wrong with your life through various different means. You might try to fix it through reading the latest self help book about boosting your confidence or being a better person. Or opening up to pain, opening up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, a new you as all the guru’s books and bloggers will tell you and make you believe. Funny how a little bit of marketing can make you pick up a book, read a magazine and more importantly make you want to improve yourself.

Here at A Mind of Its Own we are all for the betterment of oneself and we encourage learning but does that need to come at the cost of who we truly are? Do we need to change who we are? Do we need to become someone different, someone we really aren’t or is it more a case that we don’t like who we truly are as a person and therefore are always searching to become a better person, a different person, a person that is as far away from our true self. A mask if you will to the public, a front that is put on to hide the real you, the one that stares back at you in the mirror that you lie about because the truth might just hurt you a little too much to accept. Where are the self help books that talk about that, that talk about how it’s ok being yourself and not needing to change.

Scouring the internet we searched and searched for a voice of truth, a voice that would say it’s ok but what we found were that people even the writers of these self help books don’t want to be themselves they found an excuse to believe in their own spin, their own hyperbole. Don’t get us wrong we’ve read our fair share around the office and the closest we’ve got to actually accepting some of the self help is Mark Manson. His style of writing and spin on the self help industry is somewhat refreshing in the fact he basically tells you not to give a fuck subtely. In his most recent book he tells us everything is fucked so in terms of telling it like it is he the closest we’ve come to someone telling us that its ok to be who you are and that things won’t change but here’s some tips and techniques on how to get around it all.

With social media and blog post everyone has become an expert on giving out advice about what and how people should live their lives. Every second person will give you their opinion on what you should do if your life falls into a heap, which books to read, which podcasts to listen to youtube videos that helped them get through a tough time in their lives. They tell you what you should eat, how much exercise you should do, how you should look after your mental health and the lack of educational degrees they have. Oh wait they won’t tell us about that as that would result in less followers and we couldn’t have that. Add to this we have the ramblers.

The social media ramblers who lives are posted across the internet and feel the need to document their entire life as well as telling you what you should be doing to be your best self and get yourself into that frame of mind to become that person you really want to be. These are the people that tend to flip and flop from one cause to another. They go through life bouncing from one place to another with little understanding of who they are and what they truly want. But they have a place in the self help guru guidance arena. Again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one and the internet has allowed everyone to voice theirs.

So when someone writes the perfect self help book which is to tell everyone that it is more than ok to be yourself and that you are going to have good days and bad days, it’s called life. And life ladies and gentleman is always going to test you to make sure you know you are alive and that you will not be able to float through it, you will have to fight and sometimes you’ll have to get bloody both physically and mentally. You’ll want to give in from time to time but you’ll push through and you’ll actually learn a few truths about yourself that you hadn’t expected to learn or even knew about yourself. Had life not happened and you were forced to take a path and not know what could have happened would have learnt these lessons and things about yourself? Chances are highly unlikely.

After writing most of this blog we sent the team on a mission of exploration to watch the self help guru himself Mark Manson give a talk around his books and the inspiration and research that goes into writing a book for others. If this was a newspaper we may of had to write a retraction and eat our words. After reading his books and diving further into the research behind them it’s quite quickly apparent that the man has a good handle on the fact that life is F*#ked. It’s what you make of it right? We’ll yes and no, a lot of it has to do with psychology and the way we react to things that happen. A lot of it has to do with how we were raised, some of it is even genetic but what it all boils down to is the fact that as human beings we aren’t necessarily mentally equipped for the 21st century and all it has to offer.

We’ll talk about it a little more in next week’s blog but a lot of it has to freedom of choice and living standards alongside the fact that we now live in an interconnected world. All of this creates a social anxiety in which we aren’t often prepared for or know how to deal with on a day to day basis. We only see people on their perfect holidays, with their model girlfriends, having babies, buying a house or car and living out the lives in front of everyone else.

So we asked some hard questions of the team in an attempt to understand why we lie to ourselves and those around us, particularly when we’ve gone through something life changing. Something painful, soul crushing, soul destroying that changes us to be something we aren’t, someone we aren’t and wear a mask to the world. A lot of us choose to run, to hide and further mask our pain and discomfort with the world but for what benefit? A few minutes, hours or days of relief from the pain? Whatever it may be we all choose the path in which we walk and how we choose to react to a situation or event in our lives. Who’s to say it’s right or wrong other than you, we all decide what’s right for us in that moment but if we are going away from who we truly are at some point we’ll call ourselves out on it.

Or we’ll fall too far to save ourselves and become confused with what is reality and what is a lie. We’ll no longer wear the mask but the mask will wear us. We will have become that person we were trying so desperately to be instead of the person that we are because we are either scared of ourselves or so insecure in our own skin that we feel we need to be someone else altogether. By now we are just rambling but the point is this, throughout our lives we will all do it at some point, whether to impress people or make ourselves feel better. The key is to not get lost or entrenched so deep in the lie that it starts to become your reality and something that is far from the truth.

Just so you are aware this is not a self-help blog or the beginnings of a best seller this is and always will be A Mind of Its Own, a blog that will tell you all about the things people don’t want to tell you. We’ll write about the hard stuff, the political stuff, the down right dirty stuff and yeah from time to time we’ll provide you with some advice. Whether you choose to take it on board is up to you. The things we write and the opinions expressed throughout these posts are ours and ours alone. We will always try to be fair and give a voice to both sides of the story in order to let you make your own mind up. That’s part of the reasoning why we started A Mind of Its Own, we wanted to give a voice to the people who don’t have one and the topics that people would prefer are swept under the rug and not discussed.

We are a little public service announcement that no one really wants but everyone really needs. Our readers come from all walks of life and all have their own stories to tell. So when it comes to self-help and wanting to better your life. Leave it to the psychologists and people who have been to university to take advice from when it comes to bettering yourself. As for diet and exercise advice we also recommend you take it from someone trained not the local instagram lady who looks good in active wear who stole her program from her trainer and is now selling it for likes on the world wide web. We might often be a cynical bunch over here but we say a lot in jest we just feel strongly that things should be left to the professionals when it comes to matters of mental health and health in general.

So we’ll leave you for yet another week and remind you that next week’s blog will flow on from this weeks as we dive a little deeper into the psychology behind freedom of choice and how modern life gives us way too much choice that we just can’t cope with due to our brains not being able to process all the information we provide it. But that’s a story for next week’s a mind of it’s own. For now we’ll leave you with some lyrics from Passenger and wish you all a great weekend. Look after yourselves and take it easy hombres. From all of us here we wish you all the best in your weekend endeavours and make sure that if you decide to misbehave make sure you do it well. Ok peace out…

“When I was a kid the things I did were hidden under the grid, Young and naive I never believed that love could be so well hid, With regret I’m willing to bet and say the older you get, It gets harder to forgive and harder to forget, It gets under your shirt like a dagger at work,The first cut is the deepest but the rest still flipping hurt,You build your heart of plastic,Get cynical and sarcastic And end up in the corner on your own. Cause I’d love to feel love but I can’t stand the rejection, I hide behind my jokes as a form of protection, I thought I was close but under further inspection, It seems I’ve been running in the wrong direction”. – Passenger – The Wrong Direction.