Blog Archive

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Weight of Things Removed Final Update

The Weight of Things Removed | Novel | Milo

It's been an interesting experience on Blogspot, however, I've finally migrated my novel to a new home; you'll be able to find it courtesy of WordPress. Overall I think it works better for both longer text posts and for serializing a novel, and visually I think it looks cleaner and more polished.

Most importantly, and this probably means more to me than anyone else reading this, no more hyperlinks! Honestly hyperlinks were the bane of my existence every time I had to upload a new segment, and coupled with splitting each chapter into two parts, it became a needlessly long-winded and dull experience.

If you have been reading my novel so far thank you for your time and please continue the journey with me on WordPress; I promise it's a very easy commute.

Au revoir Blogspot, it is time for us to part ways.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Milo and Moose Show Episode 18: Artifical Intelligence

Podcast | Episode Description 

In this episode of The Milo and Moose Show, Milo and Moose are joined by their good friend Dan to discuss artificial intelligence and related technology.

They begin by discussing "the singularity", or the point at which artificial intelligence exponentially surpasses human intelligence, before Dan shares an impromptu review of Independence Day. After this they discuss how we might hope to both identify and define AI, before looking at how AI might be both understood and misunderstood through the lens of evolution.

They finish with an obligatory discussion about the ultimate tech dream of being able to download knowledge, as well as musing on the impact technology could have on capitalism.

It's a big episode, one of the biggest they have done to date, which is fitting as this will be the last episode for a while. Keep tabs on their Soundcloud, Twitter and blog for future updates on their eventual return.

Milo, Moose and Dan out.

P.S. There was a lot of unexpected background noise and interference in this episode, so apologies in advance. 

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Finding an Answer

Finding an Answer | Thoughts | Moose

So I have spent the last few months, although its more been like a year, really struggling to find what my place is in life, what my role is.

I even wrote a long piece about being creative, and finding a place – more specifically your own role in life rather than being the person that other people want you to be. I still will probably post that at some point, but my mind has really come to this point here.

Just over one year ago, I broke up with a long term girlfriend. For those two years I devoted myself completely to her, and ultimately that          turned me into a very closed individual, scared of meeting new people, scared of pushing my own boundaries, and was the basis for the reason why we broke up. I offered nothing new to her, but more significantly, nothing new to myself. It affected my creativity and my growth as a person, and, as a man who was 22 at the time, it was a very destructive way to live life.

The past year or so has been a struggle to find out who I am inside when I lost the only thing that meant anything to me. I have had to reinvent Charles. However, I would always find myself procrastinating, not following through with my dreams (because I like to jump at ideas that I have, and following that for a short amount of time before jumping straight to the next tangent). I found that I would plan inefficiently, and a big reason for this is that I did not really understand what I wanted from life.

(Before I go on here is a short tangent for you to read…) It’s difficult to know what you want from life in a society today that expects you to be something, expects you to fill a role. We are stuck in a period of time where you can ‘be’ anything you want to, but you are not anything until you are successful. On top of that, there are countless different things that you can be, and it’s hard to focus on just one – no wonder the cases of ADHD are growing.

I truly took and step back and reflected: 
  • Where am I now? 
  • What do I want to be? 
  • Where do I want to be in 10 years? 
  • How do I want to live my life?

These are all questions that I asked myself (the above that I mentioned is not an extensive list) that I thought would really help me define my path in the future. And it did, though not in the way I thought it would.

Where am I now? This question was a difficult thing to ask in the sense that you cannot know all of your poor habits, but more than that, it is difficult to reflect on yourself and recognise all that bad aspects of who you are. I am very closed off, and find it very difficult to open myself up to people. I have low confidence that makes me question everything I do. I slouch. I am not happy, borderline depressed at times. I do not challenge myself enough, and often back down when it gets tough.

What do I want to be? Where do I want to be in 10 years? These were the toughest questions, because to look forward that far in your life needs to take into account a number of different factors. You have to ask yourself what you enjoy, and you also need to look at other people as role models for your behaviour, which ultimately means that you will copy some of their traits. And when I really thought about it, I couldn’t come up with an answer; well apart from the usual shit like ‘more assertive’, ‘fit’, ‘funny’, etc. Although I did want to change the world and be a voice. With all the books I have read (‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus, ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac, ‘The Topic of Cancer’ by Henry Miller) and the philosophies that I have been exposed to, I have come to the conclusion that I should just live life and not worry about the future. Tomorrow might now come, and we are only guaranteed today, this moment that we are sharing (fully aware that I am glossing over this, but it’s unimportant how I reached that viewpoint). So I asked myself the next question…

How do I want to live my life? I thought about the above philosophy. I thought about what life means to me. I thought about what fun is. And after a lot of time thinking (though always coming up with a similar answer), I came to this conclusion:

I want to live an adventure.

I want to go and a try a ton of different and new things. I started writing out a bucket list of all the things that I want to do, from driving across America (maybe an idea given to me by the aforementioned ‘On the Road’), seeing the sights of Vietnam, live in a hostel, learning to salsa.

And then I had a thought: “that’s not an adventure”. That is planned. Sure, there are things that I want to try, things I want to do, but why am I thinking so much about it. Why not live just go live it? Why not just book tickets to America and go travel (obviously I have to save the money up first). Life does not have a plan for you, for me, for anyone. We will be born, we will live, and we will die – and that is the only thing that we can be sure of in life. Who knows how we will die, or when that point will come. In fact, it could even be argued that life is all about preparing yourself for death, but I’m not going to go there right now…

I will read books and articles that help me learn. I will watch movies that make me think. I will do things that make me laugh. I will talk to as many people as I possibly can to learn from them.

And although none of this will be able to give me a definite answer to the meaning of life, I will have some fucking fun living it. Why am I trying to find an answer in a life that does not have one itself?

One thing is for sure, I do not want to be one of those people that falls into a role in life, in work, and doesn’t enjoy it. I do not want to be that man that works every day in their lives following the same old painful routine, waiting for the weekend to come, and for the day to end.

I’m going to live an adventure.

And I’m going to share it with you – all the troubles I encounter, the old routines that I fall back on, and hopefully, all the fun that I have on the way.

Here’s a lovely thing I read, that I think we should all consider: Eric Idle’s Eulogy about George Harrison. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Weight of Things Removed Update

The Weight of Things Removed | Novel | Milo

It's been a while since I've posted a new installment of my novel, however, it's not because I've stopped writing. I've noticed that my last few entries have had a number of spelling and grammatical errors, as well as having a few narrative issues that might need to be rewritten. 

I want to put on the brakes, so that I can check the engine.

So whilst I'm still working on it offline, it'll be a little while yet before I start to post additional chapters. 

I've also stopped posting because I've been considering alternative ways of presenting the novel online, whether that's on this blog or on Medium or another purpose built blog. So expect The Weight of Things Removed to be migrating to a new home in the near future. Ideally I want to use a website that makes it easier to display the novel without the need for numerous hyperlinks, also I've noticed that the font and text size of each passage can vary a fair bit and I want the presentation to be more consistent.

So TL;DR I am still writing and will start posting again in the near future, albeit on a different website. 

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Milo and Moose Show Episode 17: Conspiracy Theories

Podcast | Episode Description
Operation Northwood in the (virtual) flesh
In this episode of The Milo and Moose Show, Milo and Moose discuss conspiracy theories from the plausible to the outright absurd.

They chat about some of the stranger and more terrifying conspiracies from the Cold War (Operation Northwards deserves an episode all to itself), as well as whether 9/11 was an inside job or not among other popular theories floating around the web.

They also take a cursory look at conspiracies as a whole, and discuss why people believe in them.

Do you have any conspiracies you would like to share? Or are there any glaring conspiracy theories we have missed? Do you know the secret to Hollywood immortality? Let us know! 

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Milo and Moose Show Episode 17 Preview

Podcast | Preview | Teaser

In recent times Moose and I haven't spoken as much before recording as we used to, so our previews will start to vary in style. They'll be more like 'teasers' as they'll reveal our trains of thought rather than directly setting up the next episode. So the stuff mentioned below might not come up in our next episode, but it should still help to give you a feel for my thought process. Milo out.
Click here for a bigger version

Everybody loves a good conspiracy theory and you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who doesn't harbor some sort of irrational suspicion about the world around them. Whether it's that a secret society predetermines politics, that fossil fuel companies are secretly obstructing cold fusion research or that Barack Obama is a lizard-man we all have our beliefs
Please don't watch this video, I'm only linking it so I can use the pic
There are so many to list, from the variety of 9/11 theories suspecting that it was an inside job, to the various theories about who really killed JFK, every major event is open to many interpretations. The thing I find most fascinating about them is that many of the one's that appear the most insane, are often only poorly articulated versions of genuinely plausible ones. For instance this talk by Larry Lessig suggests that the most powerful nation on earth is dominated by an invisible group of obscenely wealthy people, and many students, extremists and social outcasts feel the same way.

Same fears, same opinions but different presentations, and that's what I find most fascinating about conspiracies theories. You can always find a way to make them plausible, and I'd be lying if I claimed that I never seriously considered that Tupac might still be alive.
This website says its a hoax, don't tell me what to believe internet!
Saying that I like to imagine that Illuminati does in fact exist and are overseen by a still living Tupac, and they get their kicks by sneaking occult imagery into hip-hop videos.

The best things about conspiracy theories is that they are very hard to prove wrong, and very easy to believe in. I defy you to watch one illuminati video or 9/11 cover up documentary without, even for a second, feeling a sensation that can only be described as: weed-induced wonder. Oh and while this has been very American-centric, it's simply because your seekers of truth tend to be "louder" than ours. I'm looking at you Princess "it was an assassination" Diana theorists.... 

Our next episode is due to hit our RSS feed on Sunday 12th June

P.P.S. A note to the illuminati: please don't hurt us. Think of this episode as our way of helping you to continue hiding in plain sight.

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Homeless League

Ideas and Opinions | Milo

This is a short essay about the strangest stereotype in fiction, that being the fact that homeless people are all apparently extremely well connected and have secret talents and powers, and why it should be avoided by creators

I hate to break it to you but the homeless have been conning you this whole time, you see despite their ill-fitting clothes, poor hygiene and general lack of housing they are actually the ears and eyes of the city. In fact you could argue that the homeless and their “Homeless Leagues” runs the city.

This is, of course, absolute bullshit, but it’s an oddly persistent stereotype I’ve seen cropping up again and again, from video games such as the Elder Scrolls series and the Yakuza series, to Korean dramas like ‘Last’, schlocky action movies like ‘The Quest’ and many novels in the Charles Dickens tradition. Ultimately the homeless are represented as either belonging to some sort of network of other homeless people, having any number of secret or underappreciated skills, or simply living a life not too dissimilar from slightly abstemious working class people. For instance, in Oblivion and Skyrim (two games in the Elder Scrolls series) information gathering often starts with speaking to the homeless, as it does in many other fantasy games and novels. In ‘Last’ it is revealed that there is a hierarchy of criminals built from the homeless up, with a $30 million cache belonging to the man at the top. In both ‘The Quest’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ you have a motley crew of ragamuffins and street urchins led by a dangerous and charismatic leader (albeit in the former that leader is the hero, and in the latter the villain).  
I believe that this stereotype exists for two reasons: (1) because of a narrative need (2) because of a lack of exposure and awareness about homelessness.

The first reason is easy to tackle because it is the same reason why many spousal characters are dull and why many children’s TV show heroes are either orphans or on a journey. When you create a story you have a persistent need to explain away real life whilst simultaneously borrowing from it; let me clarify this with a few examples. If I’m reading a book with a 28 years old protagonist I’m going to be constantly thinking about his romantic life until it has been explained, because in real life emotional, sexual and financial needs make relationships an increasing necessity as you get older. So whether it’s important to the story or not, we need to know what recourse this man has if he is either lonely, horny or broke. In this same way if we want to believe that our 11 years old hero is really on a mission to save the world, we need a quick and easy reason to explain why her mother hasn’t yet called the police when she is missing for months at a time. To return to our focus, then, another problem that occurs in all genres of art is that of information gathering i.e. how does our protagonist know what they know, when we need them to know it? The homeless present an easy solution to this dilemma especially in the fantasy genre where a precedent has already been set, moreover they have no responsibilities that would inhibit their ability to appear and disappear as the needs of the narrative changes. Furthermore, in a story where you need your protagonist to “go underground”, the homeless are a fantastic option to contextualize this part of the story. This also helps to explain why they frequently have “networks” and secret talents, because you need somebody to give your hero the means to return to their struggle. In real life when most people go underground they become homeless, and who wants to read about homeless people? Am I right?   

That last sentence leads us onto the second reason for this stereotype and that is a lack of awareness about the homeless on behalf of the creator and their audience. Many people still look upon the homeless as ultimately being a nuisance who have brought trouble on themselves. They are alcoholics, drug addicts and criminals who are just as likely to rob you as spend your “donation” on plastic bottle booze. The reality is far bleaker, as across the world the homeless are more likely to be victims of crime than they are to be the perpetrators. I think that some successful people have a habit of believing that you are the sole engineer of your own success, and so if you are unsuccessful it is your fault for failing. The problem with this assumption, however, is most obvious when it comes to financial success. Wealth is only one indicator of success and one that hinges as much on your upbringing as it does on any specific skills you may or may not have. To illustrate my point let’s look at the many artists whose paintings sell for millions but whom died penniless and broken. What about the countless number of legendary boxers who were incredibly accomplished sportsman but often found themselves bankrupt? On the flip side let’s look at Donald Trump a man whose business successes are few and whose “successes” have more to do with his last name and hair than they do with his fiscal acumen. The point being that you cannot readily assume that the homeless are the sole architects of their poverty, as you are not the sole architect of your successes.

People in general seem to be unsettled by the hardship of strangers, it’s perhaps then no wonder that I can name more overseas relief charities than domestic ones. People oversees aren’t strangers they are less than that, they’re characters much like the homeless people in our games and films. People on our streets though are the worst kind of strangers, they are people who could become acquaintances and then dependents. We don’t, however, feel this same uneasiness around teachers, doctors or accountants; we don’t feel this uneasiness around strangers who give, only strangers who ask. Hardship is contagious, it doesn’t keep to one person it spreads whether that be through guilt, charity or mutual hardship. So in response to this we ignore the hardship completely and attempt to pretend like it doesn’t even exist. In the 21st Century, however, this is an impossible task because we are all too informed to feign ignorance.

This is especially true of creators because we actually have a need to understand our world in order to create plausible fictions and worthwhile aesthetic treatments. We cannot pretend as though “The Homeless League” is an acceptable stereotype to propagate, because it is so opposed to reality as to make it immersion breaking. This isn’t an attempt to say that you have to politicize your work or address social ills, whether you are sympathetic to homeless people or not, but that you have to realise that you cannot oversimplify their plight. To do so is little more than intellectual laziness and displays a lack of pride in one’s work. Work harder to create new fictions based on this world, do not instead borrow from older fictions in order to save yourself a bit of effort.   

Afterward: After writing this it occurred to me that saying nothing to directly benefit the homeless would be a severe oversight. Check out Passage for information on how you can help out at a homeless kitchen, or Shelter who are probably the biggest charity for the homeless in England.