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Sunday, January 1, 2023

If Google Were Teal

How many Internet searches do you do in a typical day? During a busy session of teaching English online, I can rack up 100 queries, related to topics which my students have raised. One week I clocked in a whopping 360 searches, with terms ranging from "kiszona kapusta" to "Doctor Who time loops". They were all conducted on a single search engine (can you guess which one?)

We give an awful lot of personal data away just for the privilege of using their platforms. Don't get me wrong, I love Google -- they are generous with content creators. As a basic consumer the benefits are rather scant, however. Bing will reward you with points for choosing their machine, but they must be redeemed by shopping at the Microsoft Store. If you want to be paid in cold hard cash (well, in cryptocash at least!), Presearch is the only program out there. You can earn 0.1PRE per search, with a cap of 25 searches per day.

As of December 2022, that was worth US$0.81.

Of course, it is chump change but does add up, and it is better than earning nothing at all. More importantly, your PRE gives you voting and ownership rights and the ability to build a search engine that is for the people, by the people. A Teal organization, to be precise... (For more on the Presearch search engine and Ethereum token, click here.) 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Money Talks, Bullshit Walks

Money is the signifier that annihilates every signification. It is the first commodity to escape use value, and become a sign. Everything gets measured in money, even Bitcoin (which is the latest step in its evolution). The medium is now the message. Or, in cruder terms: "Money talks, bullshit walks."

Once upon a time, according to Jean Baudrillard, money had a referent, the gold standard. That ended in 1971, and since then money has become purely speculative, ballooning into the stratosphere. Bitcoin is the first attempt to retether money to the actual economy, drag it back to earth, giving it concrete value.

The rise of Bitcoin will (as Lyn Alden explains) release the American dollar from the clutches of Triffin's Dilemma. It will enable the greatest debt jubilee of all time. And that jubilee is just about to start...  (For more on the coming debt deflation and reinflation of money, click here.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Escape the Central Coast (in Six Baby Steps)

If the Lake Haven epoch was ruled by the car, and my fragmented Gosford ages built upon the bus, the coming Woy Woy microlife will focus on ferries. During the two months that I hope to spend there, acclimatizing for the hop across the Hawkesbury, I must:

1 -- Cruise to Saratoga or Davistown on Central Coast Ferries (if I am too anxious for whatever reason, I can try to bail out at the first available wharf!)

2 -- Catch another catamaran to Empire Bay, the last stop on this service some 30 minutes from Woy Woy. I could then hike back to my hotel via Daleys Point and St Huberts Island, with their multimillion dollar views. 

3.-- Catch a Fantasea ferry from Ettalong to Wagstaffe Wharf, en route to Palm Beach, and explore the nearby national park.

4.-- Take the same ferry once more, this time directly to Palm Beach, before returning to Woy Woy. This will be a one-hour round trip over deep water, and my first landfall on Sydney territory in nine years.

5.-- Return to Palm Beach, and then get the bus to Newport, some 10km south, where there is a hotel that I can (barely) afford.
6 -- Stay at said Newport hotel one night, to see if I can handle it..


The Saratoga docking at the Central Wharf in Davistown, on Cockle Channel (Australia, 2022)

Each cruise will be a baby step in the escape from the Central Coast, and the migration to Sydney's Northern Beaches. I have a lot of mucking about in boats to do!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Rebellious Qi

I have read that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, panic attacks are blamed upon rebellious Qi, an uprising of that fundamental lifeforce also called "Chi" (or 氣) . This theory resonates with me as several occasions before my first attack, I suffered freak spells of dizziness and unsteadiness on my feet. One evening I was walking towards the Monolith in Shinjuku (新宿) when a sudden whoosh! of energy surged from my legs to my crown. A week or so later I had my first (official) attack, at the aforementioned tower. Whenever I moved my arm or turned my head, a powerful force would shudder through my body, with a reverberating din similar to the bionic sound effects in The Six Million Dollar Man. Time had slowed down, it felt, and every event was full of dread significance. As the attack progressed, I was startled to notice luminous sparks spraying up from the bottom of my visual field, like manic laser beams fired in an old arcade game... (For more on Qi rebellions and the herbs that can remedy them, click here,)


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Gossy Good Times

Gosford grabs you as a city on the go. All around town, construction work is carrying on. There is a wealth of heritage sandstone to be sure, and a history dating back to the convict era. Nonetheless, Gosford's eyes are framed forwards, towards a glorious future.

Looking south from Gosford Station (Australia, 2021)

It is true that many buildings have fallen to the wrecking ball, including the Public School where I was stationed in the very late 1970s. Many, however, still remain. Henry Kendall Cottage was cobbled together with convict labour between 1836 and 1840 in present day West Gosford, and is now a museum open to the public. At Frederick Point you can find the graves of the pioneers hidden among the million dollar properties... (For more on Gosford and its dynamic destiny, click here.)

Thursday, March 18, 2021

On the Blink (My First Night at Hotel Gosford)

Deadset in the middle of Gosford (corner of Mann and Erina Streets) rises this historic hotel, erected in 1926. The internal elevator is just as an ancient, and is said to be a museum piece. I was somewhat skeptical on my first night here on Wednesday since the hotel is a cheapie with shared bathrooms. My concerns congealed when I realized, after checking in, that there was no remote controller for my TV. It was a steamy day, and my shirt clung to my back like a cheap shower curtain. I rummaged through all the drawers, peered under the bed, even teetered on a chair to examine the top of the clothes rack. It was a trifle dusty, but there was no controller to be found there. This could be a problem.

Table and chair for lessons and a fridge, but the TV didn't seem to work (Australia, 2021)
I rode the rickety lift two floors down to reception, where I reported my predicament. A great deal hung in the balance: this was my recon mission, and if the Hotel Gosford failed this first test, I would have to upgrade into something more expensive for the coming longstay. Thankfully, the lady at reception provided me another device, which she assured me would do the trick. I took the stairs back to my chambers, traversing some office space on the first floor. Something about the lift gave me a dodgy vibe, and I didn't completely trust it.

Rickety old lift at Hotel Gosford (Australia, 2021)
Returning to my room, I aimed the remote squarely at the TV, squeezed the on button. The set refused to respond, but just hung there, impassively.  Damn it, I thought.  I am not normally a complainer, but this was important. Something had to be done.

The second cheapest hotel in Gosford (the Ibis) cost at least $100 a night, or $3600 per month, I could survive without television for one night, of course, but how about the longstay (or the even longer stays which loomed beyond?) If the TV didn't work this time, what else might not work in the future? This was a dry run of the Escape from Oz which is due to begin in just a matter of months. It was a critical battle, one worth fighting for.

I was on my way downstairs again when I met a member of housekeeping on her rounds. I briefly informed her of my predicament, and she kindly accompanied me to my guestroom. After fingering the remote controller for a while, shuffling around the batteries, shooting from different angles, she surmised that the TV was on the blink. (That might, possibly, be why the remote was removed in the first place!) She promised to move me to another room, and new keys were delivered to me promptly. Five minutes later I had been transferred to a nearby wing, facing the Imperial Centre (behind the yellowed blind).


My new room, with remote controller and Indian snacks, at Hotel Gosford (Australia, 2021)
I performed a rapid once-over, just for the record. Air conditioner, check. Idiot box, working, and receiving both Newcastle and Sydney channels. Chair and table, comfortable enough. I didn't need them tonight, but I would once I started teaching here. Bar fridge, plugged in and chilled. Hopefully it was cold enough to freeze beer, but that was yet to be determined. 

Catching a little telly before bed (Australia, 2021)
Checklist compiled, I went out, because I had better things to do than sit in my guestroom watching TV! I ate some cheese tteokbokki and kimchi at the local Korean restaurant, then downed a couple of Asahi Dry pints at the Bon Pavilion. Later that night, just before retiring to bed, I caught on the news that there was a big storm coming in. Luckily for me, I had Alfie's raincoat to protect me on my trip home tomorrow.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Ded Moroz, and the Defecating Log: Christmas Around the World


One of the fascinating things about travelling and visiting new countries is learning about the colourful and unique festivals that exist out there. Now while I don't travel as much as I used to, I am able to explore the world vicariously, through my job on iTalki, and my online wanderings. It has become clear to me that Christmas is a global event, celebrated on every continent. The way it is celebrated differs starkly, however, depending on the locality. Not every country has a Santa Claus, and Santa doesn't always ride in a sleigh. In Spain the Three Wise Men deliver presents to children, which kind of makes sense, since they gifted gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus in the Bible. In Holland they have a Santa but he lives in Spain and sails to and from the Dutch homeland by boat. Go figure. Russian children send letters to Ded Moroz, a bearded old man who resides in Vologda near the North Pole, and whose name means "Father Frost". He walks with a long magic staff and sometimes rides a troika.

The Christmas Shitter (El Caganer), and El Tio (Australia, 2019)

I believe there is a relationship between Christmas and New Year's Day in that they offer a glimmer of hope in the midst of winter. They both arrive just after the winter solstice, the most desperate time of all, but they promise that the light/sun/Son will return. It might be faint and distant, but the light is there and can be seen, twinkling through the hoary boles. The rebirth has begun... (To read my full account of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, click here.)
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