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I Am a Genius

Posted 26 February 2019, 7.54 am by Alexander

Itís time I came to terms with something youíve probably known for a while. I am a genius.

Every single idea Iíve ever had has been brilliant, revolutionary and genre defining. If you disagree then youíre probably not smart enough to understand.

Everything Iíve ever produced has been of the utmost objective quality, there can be no denying this. Any negative reviews Iíve had have been in error. Any ambivalence towards my creative output is due to a lack of imagination in the viewer.

If Iíve ever said anything to offend you, then you were probably just being too sensitive and I was likely being ironic anyway. You need to lighten up.

Where a decision Iíve made seemed questionable, you have to understand that Iím amazing at seeing the bigger picture, and you are not. Donít worry, it will all become clear in the end.

And if you disagree with any of the above, then youíre just a hater and Iím going to ignore you.

Why I Stopped Watching the News

Posted 3 February 2019, 4.38 pm by Alexander

Of all the changes Iíve made to my lifestyle in recent years as part of my endless quest for happiness, none have been more effective than this: I stopped watching, reading and taking an interest in the news.

There are a number of reasons for this, and each speaks to a different benefit from cutting it out of my life:

Firstly, there is rarely any good news. A vast majority of news is bad. I am worried enough about everything as it is, thanks. Good things happen every second all over the world, but the news wonít tell you about them, because:

Secondly, itís profoundly manipulative. The ĎMainstream Mediaí is specifically incentivised to keep the populace of the world angry and in fear. Angry at itself, in fear of itself. Be that terrorists, people of a different class, religion, or social strata. Conflict brings a (completely human and understandable) need for more information in an attempt to feel safer. Who provides the information? The media. Clicks are clicked, newspapers are bought, businesses stay in business.

Thirdly, itís disempowering. While I have empathy for the victims of Ugandan genocide and wish with all my heart I could do something to stop it, itís pure hubris to think me tutting and shaking my head makes any difference whatsoever. The news gives you the impression that being informed is the same as being empowered, when in fact the opposite is true. The global news cycle distracts you from the problems outside your door, the ones you can actually affect Ė but whatís the point in picking up litter in your street while dogs are being eaten in Korea?

Fourthly, itís divisive and insulating at the same time. The news perpetuates the concept of us being ďMr Potato HeadsĒ created from a curated selection of prescribed narratives. We choose these narratives from a thin strip of beliefs weíre already comfortable with. I used to avoid right-wing media and only get my information from liberal and left-leaning sources, because this was more palatable to me. But what wasnít I being told? There is no such thing as an unbiased news source, and if youíre just choosing one bias over another, you might as well make up your own reality.

Am I saying ignorance is bliss? Certainly not. But in the same way itís my responsibility to police what food I eat and be aware of the consequences of those decisions, so it is with my intake of information. For my own sanity, and to ensure my own personal impact on the world is one of focus and net benefit, I must be my own mental gatekeeper.

Try it yourself Ė ignore the news for a few weeks and see if youíre more content, see if you get more done, and see if the world goes to hell in a handcart because you donít know what Donald Trump tweeted yesterday.

Why I Stopped Meditating

Posted 16 January 2019, 7.54 am by Alexander

On my never ending quest to not be a miserable headcase, Iíve tried many things. Due to my Ďcan-doí attitude and general stubbornness, when I try something I go all out for the taste.

So, I took up mindfulness meditation.

I got an app (Calm), and goddamnit I meditated the shit out of it. Every single morning I would sit for 10 minutes, breathe deeply, try to let thoughts come and go.

Rewind two years Ė I tried meditation with an app called Headspace, which was also very good but perhaps I wasnít in the right frame of mind because sitting there concentrating on my breathing just gave me panic attacks.

But now? Hoo boy, I had this thing nailed.

711 meditation sessions.
A total of 124 hours and 30 minutes sat meditating.
Longest unbroken streak? 358 days.

But at the end of it, was I any Calmer? Was I any happier? Was I any less distracted, anxious and fearful of real life? Was the skinny dog tethered in the rain that lives in my head howling any quieter? No.

Why did I stop meditating? Because I got it wrong. I took meditating as something you have to do as part of your daily routine, part of your checklist of ĎIím doing the right thingsí, the natural anticipation being that checking these boxes results in an outcome youíre intending. Life, largely, doesnít work that way.

In making meditation a required daily activity, I robbed it of its meaning. I emailed Calm support and their very prompt and kind response was along the lines of ďwhy not try not being a dickhead and boasting about your meditation stats like itís fantasy football, and just use meditation as a tool when you need it?Ē.

So I stopped meditating every morning, and I donít feel any the worse for it, in fact I likely feel slightly better because I donít feel like Iím failing to get the benefits of meditation.

And Iíve saved £30/year in app subscriptions.

Why wouldn't you even try?

Posted 5 January 2019, 4.51 pm by Alexander

When I was a kid, at primary school, we used to play Rounders quite a bit during our PE lesson. For those of you not aware, Rounders is a bit like baseball but shitter.

In my class there were a group of girls who used to be made to play the game, who obviously did not want to.

They would stand there when it was their time to bat, holding the stumpy wooden stick limply by their side, then when the ball was thrown (underarm, of course - we weren't barbarians) instead of swinging the bat, they would take a listless half-step forward, drop the bat and saunter to first base. It may not surprise you to learn that not one of them ever came close to hitting the ball, even by accident.

I remember very clearly, even at that young age, being both mystified and annoyed by this behaviour. I couldn't understand how you could stand in front of a slow moving ball, with a bat in your hand, and not even swing at it.

Why wouldn't you even try? No matter how little you want to win, why wouldn't you move your arm?

Now, I'm not trying to shame these particular individuals, because I'm sure they had their reasons - or maybe they didn't need a reason and maybe it's none of my damn business and the fact this has stayed with me this long says a lot more about me than them.

But in life ever since, I've met people who won't swing the bat.

These are not people who get things done.

I guess that's the funny thing about your own personal value system, anything outside of it is incomprehensible sometimes. Now, for all I know, these girls could have grown up to be heads of industry, and if so I wonder what happened to make them realise the value of trying, even when you don't see an immediate benefit.

All I know is, when it was my turn, I swung that bat as hard as I could.

This land is my land, this land is your land, or is it?

Posted 1 January 2019, 11.54 pm by Grapey v2

This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land. Or is it?
Thoughts on nationalism and identity in an increasingly divided time.

Iíve been thinking about the national flag recently, and about what it means to people. I would presume that in most countries, there are a large amount of people who feel very nationalistic and patriotic, and those feelings include sentiment toward and about the national flag.

Here in the U.S., people definitely have very strong feelings about it. Well, some people.
I know the flag is a representation of ideals and some of what our country stands for, however at the end of the day, no matter what you do to that piece of cloth or what you say about it, our nation will still stand for the same things. Burning or otherwise destroying a flag doesn't destroy a country or the people, in the same way that burning a Quran or a Bible doesnít hurt the religion or physically harm the people who practice those religions. So why are people so crazy about the flag and how itís treated?

Some of my neighbors put flags out on national holidays. My father puts a flag out on national holidays. I'm not a person who would ever do that, be it fourth of July or any other holiday. It isn't that I don't like my country. It isn't that I don't appreciate the efforts of our women and men who have served in the military in situations that contribute to the safety of Americans. I just don't know what the point is.

If I hated my country, I could technically leave it and live somewhere else, so it would seem that, if I'm here, I like my country, just like other people like the country, and why do we need to fly flags to show that? For some people, it seems to be a badge of honor, a symbol of pride. ďI love my country and Iím not afraid to show it to one and all,Ē or, ďI must love my country more than you and be more patriotic than you since Iím displaying the flag of my country.Ē

I saw a short video recently, starring a wrestler/movie actor, talking about patriotism, and about what type of person is considered to be the average representative of this country. And I knew right away where the video was going to go. It assumes, and probably rightly, that the majority of people trying to picture the average American picture a white male. However, 51% of the people in the US are women. The video went on to list the statistics of several different minorities. According to one survey, America is 73.6% white, 12.6% black, and a much lower percentage of Asian, Native American, or other races. One of the things I loved about this video was its point that we are all American; every color, every religion, every sexual orientation. All of us. And that to be a real patriot, we need to recognize all of these people. We are not only American if we are white, Catholic, heterosexual, or work full time.

These sentiments align closely with my desire for writing and what I want to do with my writing, which is to bring people together to show them their commonalities instead of their differences. To help people communicate. To help people get past skin color or country of birth or religious practice. How great would it be if people used the differences of others as a way to learn about, appreciate, and celebrate other cultures instead of a way to keep people who were different to them or seemed ďotherĒ at a distance?

As much as I like my country, I easily recognize some of its faults as well. No country is perfect. There are currently 195 countries in this world. Not a single one of them is perfect. The US not being perfect doesn't mean I want to leave or that I should be booted out, labeled a dissident or non-conformist. However, I see the failures, and from what I can tell, they are getting worse, not better.

There is calamity upon calamity with our current administration. The amount of atrocities being committed by this government is so constant that weíre becoming numb to them. Itís simply unbelievable. As patriotic as everyone claims to be, they seem to be yelling it so loud as to have drowned out the cries of the earth, the very earth that we need to survive, that we are so patriotic about, and it is very much to our own detriment.

The piece of earth where I live is really the same as the earth anywhere else on this planet, just at a different location. Dirt, although it can have slightly different ingredients depending on where it is, is dirt. There might be a different culture, a different language, different foods depending on what piece of dirt youíre living on, but there are things that will be the same as well.

What will be the same are our needs, our desires. We all want, among other things, love, inclusiveness, family, comfort, fresh water and enough food, warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. The freedom to educate ourselves and provide for ourselves and families. Safety from the harm of oppressors, be they individuals, corporations, or governments.

Why can't we see that a flag or a border does nothing to help us with these needs? The more people entrench themselves in their nationalism and patriotism, the more they keep us from coming together, from cooperation, from sharing, from understanding, from loving and accepting one another. Keeping to these ideals and the us vs. them mentality keeps us from helping one another achieve a good standard of living for all, instead of just for a lucky privileged few.

What would happen if every country in the world got rid of their flag? What if they were outlawed? What if we slowly started erasing all the borders? Could we have one large multi-faceted organization with good oversight that helped run the world so to speak, without the need for presidents and kings? What would a world like that look like? Imagine if everyone had enough food, clean water, employment, and felt safe? Thatís what I call freedom. Thatís a land I would be proud to live in.


Welcome back

Posted 30 December 2018, 9.29 pm by Alexander

AKPCEP is back.

A little history lesson - back in 2001, the heyday of E/N websites (ask your grandad) AKPCEP was born. Check the web archives for its many facelifts and ugly redesigns. Over the years it got popular, then less so, then in 2009 I closed the doors and so it stayed until today.

So why is it back?

This is not a nostalgia trip. AKPCEP is back as a response to my own (and I feel, other peopleís) frustrations with what replaced it. Social media such as facebook, twitter etc is depersonalising, corrupt and manipulative. AKPCEP was borne of a love of discourse, of confrontation, and of exploration of ideas. A ragtag bunch of internet miscreants waking each other up to new possibilities.

Can it be so again? Most likely not. The original members are scattered to the four winds, and it remains to be seen if the denizens of the internet 10 years on are even interested in talking to people about things, rather than themselves.

Nonetheless, I built this place, Iím proud of it, and Iím proud of our members past, present and (hopefully) future.

So, welcome back. Sign up for an account in the forums (The Grinding Shed) and say hello. Then come back here to the front page, click ĎSubmit Articleí at the top left and hit us with your best shot.

Happy grinding.

It Could Always Be Worse

Posted 22 November 2009, 5.38 am by The_Roach

I just had a minor fender bender at the local convenience store. I was pulling in and angling for a plainly open parking space when I see to my right a guy who looks to be somewhere in his late teens or early twenties. He's standing in front of a car, some beige four-door sedan, and all of a sudden hops up on the hood and clings as the car drives out from it's position near the pump and out of my view. "Hooligans," I chuckled.

Looking to my left, I see an F-150 pulling out of a nearby space. But she's doing it backwards. As in, pulling out towards where traffic would be coming in to park. Pulling out towards me. She braked for a split-second and I thought she had noticed me before resuming her course. I couldn't accelerate. I was too close to the curb by now that I was afraid a rash action would put me on the curb, possibly into the storefront or -- worse -- a person. So, I laid on the horn. Just a bit too late.

Sucks, right?

The woman who hit me lives in the northern part of the state. She's down here to handle her sister's funeral (which is pretty shitty already). The reason she was in the parking lot tonight was to help her son (a local) recover his stolen HTC Imagio phone. They sent the stolen phone a text message offering $50 for it's safe return and received a response demanding $100 instead. It was agreed that they would meet at what wound up being the scene of my accident for the exchange.

Their plan was to have the cops meet them there, so they could have the guys who stole the phone arrested. The police required the woman and her son to be on the scene before they would dispatch an officer. So the son, recently returned from Iraq, talked to the guys and then tried to stop them from leaving before the police can arrive. To accomplish this, he stood in front of their beige, four-door sedan.

And so... the End is Near

Posted 19 November 2009, 3.14 pm by Alexander

Nine years. It's a long time for anything really - a dog, a pie, a relationship, but even more so when you're talking about the web. If I was the kind of guy who did research, I'd put together a list of famous websites that AKPCEP.com predates, but I'm not. I imagine it's quite a few.

In those nine years, the web hasn't really changed. The people on the net have changed, maybe the demographic has changed slightly away from the geek and towards your mom and pop, but I think it's been a few major game-changers that have shifted people away from the traditional "online community" as we used to know it.

With the advent of Facebook, people are now more interested in hanging out online with people they already know offline. MySpace is where you can find new music, and post pictures of your high-contrast cleavage if you feel inclined. Twitter has shown that the fast-food mentality can also apply to web pages, and a few newsworthy instances of mob mentality have given it some kind of legitimacy. Compare Twitter with the Chat Board on the right hand side of AKPCEP.com and the only difference is that the chat board lets you post more than 140 characters. Oh and it doesn't have millions of users.

Mainly though, I think people have just become less inclined to talk with people about things, and more talking at people about themselves. Status updates, tweets, blog postings tend to be by and large self-aggrandising, narcissistic affairs. There's no real dialogue beyond "LOL" after that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of luddite, I heartily accept and welcome the net's maturing into a platform where everyone has a voice, not just the select few who've learned Perl or PHP and can make a website. It's just a shame that 99.9% of people using that voice have nothing to say.

On top of that, life gets in the way. AKPCEP.com's trusted and loyal membership has been dwindling slowly since it's heyday as people grow up, get married, have kids or indeed find something more interesting to do, and more power to them.

Add to this my own inherent laziness and it's not hard to see why AKPCEP.com's days were always numbered. I had this fantasy that I would build it, and they would come, and I could be a silent onlooker reading hundreds of quality posts every day. It turns out it doesn't really work like that and the absentee landlord isn't much of a recommendation for a site that's supposed to be built on interactivity.

The site still gets plenty of traffic, but very little actual contribution. If it was an online shop, the conversion rate would be a fraction of a percent, and it would be taken out back and shot.

So why shut down? The site doesn't cost me anything to run, as it's just sat on my VPS using a minimal amount of resources. The question should be - why keep it up? It just serves to remind me of the good times when the place was rammed with enough people to keep it ticking over nicely, people made friends and enemies, people created stuff and shared it. Now it's just a lonely, empty shell. A bit like a supermarket in a zombie movie. It's quite depressing.

I don't know when I'm going to pull the plug, sometime fairly soon I think. I'd like to thank everyone who's used the site over the years, from the people who've racked up thousands of posts, to those who only posted once. I think this site has left a legacy - one of the things I'm most proud of is that we've had at least one marriage and at least one baby from people meeting here. That makes me proud, and I think also an uncle.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Alexander

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Doggybag/baggy_dog is an artist living and working in Barga, Italy. Click here to read about this piece in his own words.


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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

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