Game of Moans

It’s the final season, and it’ll all end in Spring 2019! There are dragon-like figures, ice-cold monsters and very few good guys left alive. But just like Game of Thrones, Brexit is likely to spawn some spin-offs, and will never truly end.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two and a half years since the 2016 Referendum, and that we’re only three and a half months from the finish line.

I think the average person in the UK probably just wants the whole thing to be over, so that the news cycle can move onto the next terrible thing that’ll end us all. But in the wake of a deal rejection and a vote of no confidence (result: some confidence), it’s starting to feel like this won’t end in March.

The current situation that the UK government faces is well summarised in the following tweet, which should be located just below these words.

Option C is the currently the most likely outcome.

During the initial vote over Brexit I paid close attention to the details and information associated with the decision. I tried my best to sift through the BS from the campaigns and kept coming back to the conclusion that even though the EU isn’t perfect, this idea that we should work together as a species is a step in the right direction.

As the months go by, and especially after all the reveals of the misinformation and anti-democratic strategies from the leave campaign, I find it harder to follow Brexit without slipping into some sort of depressive coma.

These days I need to decant Brexit information in the form of topical satire and comedic podcasts, just to stay lucid.

The irony is that most satirists put more effort into their research on the topic than half of UK news outlets, and they don’t shy away from an overt opinion either.

I’ll take an open and honest comic, who tells us that their words are opinions and presents data alongside a satirical analysis, over institutions like the Daily Mail — Who may as well print “LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, YOU FOREIGN ARSEHOLES” on their front page every morning.

A good friend of mine has made the news a little easier to digest, however. What’s Happening With Brexit? is a website that’s updated daily, at midnight.

It takes the top stories on Brexit from six UK newspapers and displays the data collected in an interactive graph. On the graph you can see what the country is talking about in regards to Brexit, by highlighting the frequency of the words and phrases used throughout the articles.

I’ve found it extremely useful as a tool for following the bigger stories, as I know the big-hitting topics for the day, to then go and read about in more detail.

For example, if a right-leaning paper has DANGER OF NO DEAL in their headline, but nobody else is running the story, then I know it’s probably propaganda.

Of course, that’s a terrible example because there is a very real danger of a no deal Brexit, especially after Theresa May’s short and not so sweet visit to Brussels.

Theresa May, if you’re wondering, is probably the Cersei Lannister of our Game of Moans. She doesn’t have the same ambition, but she’s the one seated in a position of power due to her undying grip to an idea that she doesn’t really believe in anyway.

Boris Johnson is obviously Littlefinger, and most Brexitiers are various White Walkers. David Cameron was Robert Baratheon and most EU officials are members of the Bank of Bravos. Jeremy Corbyn is that old guy in the tree, not really doing much of anything.

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Jeremy Corbyn pictured at his home in Islington

The other thing I like about What’s Happening With Brexit? is the way the data is displayed. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time watching the buzzwords rise and fall over the months.

It has also been interesting to see how much the right-leaning and left-leaning news outlets discuss different topics.

Some terms and people, such as the PM or “deal” are mentioned equally between both sides. Outlets who side with remaining in the EU are more likely to highlight the turmoil and errors of Brexit (aka, all of it). Whereas on a slow Brexit-news day, outlets who want to leave will spam the headlines with reasons why Brexit must happen now and how we should just leave no matter what.

I’m bias because I know the website creator, and know that he’s dedicated to analysing the slew of information that comes from the Brexit news cycle, in order to present it in an easily digestible way. But, despite that knowledge, I still think you should check out What’s Happening With Brexit?

Comparing Brexit to Game of Thrones is really making me realise that we have no heroes in this story. I mean, the EU are sort-of the good guys, but even they’re not without fault.

There’s no strong political party that’s acting as the voice for the hundreds of thousands of British people who marched on the streets of London back in October. Labour are remaining quiet, presumably so as not to upset those who want Brexit to happen who may also vote Labour in the next General Election.

They probably shouldn’t be doing that, because it’s another example of playing a game of politics that doesn’t really exist anymore. Trying to play the long game of power is what makes things like Donald Trump and Brexit happen in the first place.

The populist, “bad guys” are shouting louder and louder as the deadline looms. The polar opposite of that is a strong-willed voice of reason, and the people (the remainers) have that en-masse. As seen in the marches back in the autumn.

There’s just no figure to represent them, no Stark kid from the frozen north who’ll be the voice of truth in the face of an encroaching disenfranchised, chaotic evil.

Of course, it’s not that simple, and life isn’t one big HBO episodic drama. I just can’t help but feel that someone should be playing a game that has the interests of the “48%” in mind, and that if they did they’d stand a good chance to win the throne as well.


Today is Friday, December 14th and submitting a podcast to iTunes felt good.

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Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

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The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

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I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

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People or Political Pawns?

At what point does a person stop becoming a person? That’s a dark sentence right there — One that could lead in a number of directions. I’ll keep you hanging for one more sentence though, just for dramatic effect.

I’m thinking about this in regards to the migrants who have been trying to cross the US/Mexico border in recent days. The women and children who have had tear gas thrown at them by border security because they were “very dangerous”.

So I wonder, as far as some are concerned, when do people stop being people?

I understand that border security and immigration is a tough subject, and not one that can be answered swiftly in a blog — No matter what some far-right websites claim.

Despite what the majority of the media would have you think, immigration isn’t a simple black and white issue. Some people want to lock a country down entirely, others want controlled immigration, some want open gates, and others want somewhere in between all of these.

Some people are okay with the use of violence, some are okay with the use of tear gas on children, and others are not.

What the Trump administration has going on at the border right now is a flex, and all on the tax-payers dime. For decades the Democrats have been (rightly) accused of vanity spending in order to prove a point, and well, old Donald has taken a page right out of their blue book.

The events that are taking place at the US/Mexico border right now are happening because of the following chain of events:

  1. Donald Trump flippantly says he will build a wall
  2. Followers begin chanting it as a mantra
  3. Trump makes it policy during his campaign
  4. Trump says Mexico will pay for wall
  5. Trump becomes president (eyes collectively roll)
  6. Mexico say they will not pay for wall
  7. Trump demands wall be made
  8. Republican congress says they will have to tax Americans to build wall
  9. Advisors say that higher taxes won’t get him re-elected
  10. Trump in a pickle
  11. Makes anti-immigrant display with money available
  12. Defends the tear gassing of children

Twelve easy steps that explain why children were blinded and thought they were going to die. Of course, they’re innocents who’ve been running through Mexico from violent gangs, so unfortunately an attack by the US probably wasn’t their first brush with violence.

What we’re seeing at the border right now is “the wall”, or the closest we’ll ever get to it anyway.

He’ll never build a giant wall, and it certainly won’t begin construction before people go to the polls in 2020, and yet he’ll win a second term because God has apparently decided to skip this season of “Earth”, in his great binge-watch of all known existence.

Putting some barbed wire and some extra soldiers at the border is the closest he can get to showing a display of power that’s tough on immigrants, without taxing the poor even higher, and it’ll be enough for many of his followers.

Many will forget that he was supposed to build a wall in the first place, and when they go to vote in 2020, they’ll remember images of women and children being tear-gassed and they’ll smile and vote for their orange king.

teargaschildren

Wait…what?

See, that’s why I ask, and wonder — When does a person stop becoming a person?

As I stated, immigration is complex, and not everyone who wants a hard-line on movement wants violence to be used against the people trying to enter the country illegally.

If we tar everyone with the same brush then the whole world burns. And that goes all ways.

But there’s a huge portion of Trump supporters who do lust for the violence, and given that Trump himself defended the use of tear gas just this morning, I’d say that he personally salivates over the idea that he’s currently causing a visceral chaos thousands of miles away, all because he can’t fulfil a campaign promise.

As always, the people who stand by Trump, even though they don’t want violence to be used against immigrants, are going to have to ask themselves a few questions — How long do I stand by this man? What does he have to do to lose my support? How far is too far, and are these people, people?

We’re all the same, at our core. Before you throw on the pressures, expectations and self-made constructs of whichever society we come from, we’re all just fleshy sacks of meat who’re trying to stay alive.

We’re intelligent animals who want the best for ourselves and the people we care about, and if any one of us were born into some of the horrors that are prevalent in less fortunate countries, well, we’d all be running for that border.

It’s a political power play in a vicious game, but one that uses real humans as the pawns. People aren’t pieces in a game, they’re individuals whose right to life should be respected.

What’s my solution then? Because I’m writing as though the current way isn’t the answer and so I better have a solution.

Well, I guess I’ve never understood why we don’t send immigration case workers to the border to process people fairly. If someone is denied, then it can be explained what it is they need to do to be accepted, and if someone is accepted then they’re in America legally and so what’s the issue?

People are more likely to respond to love than hate — I think I have to believe that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this yesterday:

If you’re wondering why she’s getting so much attention lately it’s because the left-leaning youth of America finally have a leader who is saying the things we’ve been thinking. Oh, and also because she’s a woman who wears clothes — At least that’s why Fox News-Entertainment have been paying attention to her.

Trump and other right-wing leaders conjure up images of exclusively male migrants who are forcing their way across the border. The reality of the situation is they’re families who’re seeking asylum from dangerous homes.

They come to make a legal case, but are met with a barrage of barbed wire and tear gas. All because old Donald doesn’t have the stones to tax his base in order to build a giant wall.

Which, in turn, is all because his father never said he loved him.


Today is Tuesday, November 27th and misinformation scares the hell out of me.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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