Saturday, October 30, 2010

Generally, I’m not much of a troll-fan. The practice of trolling is usually characterised by overt bigotry and intolerance and those things don’t really appeal to me. These people who sadistically derive pleasure from making hateful comments to purposely offend others, actually belong under fumey, grimy bridges. Instead they tend to live in normal, middle-class, privileged suburbia with plentiful internet access, and are prevalent on everything from news-sites to blogs to Facebook to tumblrs. They are best avoided by simply not scrolling through comment pages and by avoiding

However, there is an emerging species of trolls that I actually like.

I couldn’t write a post about trolling without adding that photo. I’m sorry. But in addition to rainbow-sprouting dolls, there is another variety of trolls of which I am particularly fond. They are articulate, witty and imaginative. They use internet-vandalism to leave perceptive and pertinent comments on topical issues. How? Welcome to the world of ‘letterbombing’; the work of  New York prankster Jeff Greenspan and two colleagues who have gained notoriety in the past few weeks for some high-profile trolling.

Letterbombing involves a team of pranksters changing their Facebook profile picture to a letter and then collectively leaving comments on a page to vertically spell out a message. So a group of thirteen friends could join forces, each representing a letter, and spell out ‘H-A-P-P-Y-B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y’ on a friend’s wall. How funny! How creative! You’ll have the most original impersonal birthday message on friend-from-distant-past’s wall! But Greenspan and his team have put the technique to much greater use.

L-O-L. Referencing the upcoming (or now, just-been) Reclaim Sanity/Keep Fear Alive Rally, on the Head of INsanity’s wall, Greenspan demonstrated how effective and subversive trolling can be. Sadly for Palin, this was not picked up for about an hour, meaning there was plenty of time for screen-snaps and media attention on what looked like a message from Palin supporters. Shame Sarah.

The trolls also went to work here. Less subversive, even funnier.

A shame all that wit would have been wasted on them Bieber fans.  

Booing and Cooing

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When I see ridiculously cute dogs, I turn into a mushy, joyful blob making high-pitched cooing noises. I start talking in Ws. “This wittle woggie! Ohhhhh he wants to go walkies with DI. WuwuwuWU!”. And so forth. There are many variations, many made up words and yo-yo-like inflections. No doubt it is very irritating.

When I first saw this, I think I reached new levels of screechy-ness. I was cooing at an almost inaudible pitch. So I decided to wait a little while before posting. Otherwise this would’ve become a stream of words in caps lock, incoherently strung together. It still may turn into that.

This is Boo.


This is Bo taking puppylic transport.

This is Bo trying to Kill the Squeak.


This. Is. Over. Whelm. Ing

Pass or Sporcle.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I was warned about this site. I was told that by opening the link, I risked wasting days of study, losing hours of sleep and dropping entire letter-grades in courses. These grave warnings were expressed with sad, wise eyes, suggesting first-hand experience. I should have listened. Instead I saw it like any other temptation dangled on a string in front of me: a challenge. Of course I am capable of restraining myself and knowing when to stop, close the browser window and resume study! I can stay on-task and be productive when I actually want to! I just chose not to. Yup.

Sporcle is the ultimate site for the geek looking for distraction. It is brimming with pointless yet addictive quizzes on everything from European geography to Disney song lyrics. If this were a sporcle quiz, you’d have to make as many phrases as possible in four minutes using the acronym SPORCLE. Study Procrastination Online Resource Camoflauged (as) Learning Exercises. Splendidly Pointless Organised Rigorous Competition (to) Languish Education. Should Place On Restricted Content List (for)Ever. Now Cannot Stop Writing Acrostic Phrases.

How bad is my Sporcle addiction? Next week I am attending an event called ‘Sporclepalooza’, where three friends and myself will competitively sporcle for the title of Sporcler Supreme. And like any good(?) addict, I’m clearly set on bringing you all down with me. Go on, just one quiz can’t hurt. 

We did bad.


Are the ‘naughties’ (WHY did that have to be the label that stuck?) coming to an end? Or did that happen at the end of last year? I feel like this was contentious. Either way, here is a sweet clip that maybe our children’s Social Studies teacher will use to summarise the decade. Accompanied by one of my ‘naughties’ anthems: ‘Meet Me in The Basement’.

As the wise ‘TheMASjoker’ has commented: ‘Humannties ... suckks’.

Thoughts on colonialism (but really just two sweet blog discoveries)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Currently the Commonwealth Games are being held in New Delhi. I had already written this blog post when an American friend, having listened to BBC a little too much in recent weeks, asked me about these strange, pseudo-Olympic, Games;

Is it me or are they weird? Isn't it a weird thing to do? "Hey, Britain used to rule all of you, very brutally, and you only play these sports in the first place because of said brutal rule, so why don't you try to assert your independence now and compete against each other to see who has made it farthest in recovering from colonization?"

While I am not going to open the 'To Republic or not to Republic' can of vexatious worms, this is a pretty apt (and awesome) take on my view of the Games. And it tied in well with what I had already written (pre-laptop death, hence delayed posting), on what the Games means to me: the occasional lofty click on an article featuring a vaguely familiar athlete, reflecting on how bizarre the whole blast-from-a-colonial-past event actually is, but also, a quiet time at work.

For the odd reader who doesn’t know what I do/who I am, I work part-time at a media intelligence company where we basically monitor what’s being said in the Australian media. And because of the Games, what’s being said is ‘not much’. Instead the shows I monitor are streaming live coverage of swimming, high-jump and a few not-quite-Olympic-quality-but-good-enough-for-the-Commonwealth-Games sports. While New Zealanders seem to be quite indifferent to the whole affair, Australia is embracing the Games. It’s probably got something to do with the 60-odd gold medals they won in the first week. Anyway, regardless of why Australians are so excited about an event that is rooted in an imperialistic past, it has meant that for ten hours last week I got paid to sit and find fodder for this blog.

So my two new favourite blogs, thanks to my kind employer and this outdated mass sporting event:

HiLoBrow slightly bewilders me. I’m not sure I entirely ‘get it’ but that’s the whole point; there’s nothing to ‘get’. I think. I keep trying to summarise the tone in a nice, tidy description, but it’s impossible. Again, this is the point, I think. Basically, put aside an hour and spend some time roaming around this brilliant site. It has the best slogan for life, if I ever heard one: ‘Middlebrow is not the solution’. Indeed.

Cake Wrecks is much easier to describe, but of a similar level of awesomeness. Cakes that are wrecks! I’m laughing already. It’s meant to be a blog on ‘when professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong’, but it contains some absolute gems from amateurs as well. This brutally honest depiction of winter is my personal favourite. I like to imagine a cake-decorator snapping one day when asked for yet another ‘seasonal cake’ in mid-December and coming up with this. Awkward staff Christmas party, right there.

Actually, this post could act as an allegory on internet trawling. You start off contemplating colonialism and issues that call into question the entire constitutional framework of your country, and end up looking at photos of hilariously tragic cakes.


Friday, October 8, 2010


I once had this idea for a blog where I would write about the people who have truly influenced my life. The best friends, the ex-boyfriends, the random strangers I’ve encountered and who would have no idea I as much as exist, the familial relationships that have shaped me for better or worse, and so on. Basically, I would create little profiles for each and spill my heart as to how each of these people affected my life. Probably accompanied by a moody, artificially-aged photo to convey the sense of exaggerated nostalgia. Anyway, it’s not the most practical idea, as I live in a hyper-connected country of only four million people and I’m likely to run into most of these people on Cuba Street when walking home on a Saturday night clutching a bag of Burger King (an unfortunate encounter I had last week). Also, it seems a little narcissistic to blog on what has shaped MEMEME, or to expect that anyone would be remotely interested. Probably more suited to a diary or journal exercise. Anyway, this is my round-a-bout way of explaining that two of my favourite people have recently started writing blogs. And this is an opportunity to explain how wonderful and talented these two people are, even if not in the original format of The Great Imagined Blog. 

            Sadly for me, both of these people live in another hemisphere. The Northern one, that is (this is not a post about how I tragically lost two of my best friends to the blogsphere). Anyway, Scarlett and Amy now live in Japan and Sweden respectively. It should be pointed out that Amy actually has always been in the Northern Hemisphere and that the time we lived in the same hemisphere was when I too lived in the far north, so I have not ‘lost’ her.  But, technicalities aside, they both now live in countries in which they are not citizens and have taken to writing blogs about their experiences.

If this was a blog about the way Scarlett has impacted my life, I would probably talk about how she has introduced me to the joys of firey red hair, wonderful cheese and cracker combinations, an ever-open and fantastic wardrobe and book shelf, and, most importantly, a friendship built on trust, humour and five-years of wonderful memories. But this is about Scarlett's blog, so enough slightly self-absorbed reminiscing. Scarlett moved to Japan as part of the JET program at the beginning of August, having completed her double-degree in Law and English Literature. Scarlett is one of the smartest people I have ever met. She has a way with words that I can only envy. She also loves to read more than anyone I know. When I last talked to her on Skype, she tried to express how much she was missing easy access to English books by sheepishly holding up the textbooks she had stolen from the school where she teaches English. One was a Junior-Journal-style illustrated guide to soccer. Once, I walked in on Scarlett multi-tasking, by reading a book and blow-drying her hair. It looked so awkward. Anyway, she really loves words. Yet, despite this intellectual prowess, she somehow has no concept of geography. None at all. To return to talk of hemispheres, she did not know Japan was in the Northern until practically departure date. She continues to be amazed at her proximity to Russia. It's not some farce; she really cannot comprehend space and land and distance. So when it was decided she was to write a blog while in Japan, no questions asked, the first name that popped to my head was 'So This Is Where Japan Is'. And so it was born. All of her writing is beautiful, smart and incredibly witty, but this is my favourite post so far.

Amy is also an incredibly beautiful writer (both in that her writing is beautiful and she is a babe who writes). Our friendship is quite different to that of Scarlett and I. While I have known Scarlett since the first day of first year, I only got to know and live with Amy for a short time. I first met Amy in a class at Uppsala University on Post-Colonial Literature. My first impression was not good. Amy, through no fault of her own, freakishly reminded me of an ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. Maybe because in my warped mind the two 'ex's cancelled each other out and this equated to something horrible, or maybe because I am innately irrational and pathetic, but in any case it had me disliking this girl. Luckily, this childish aversion eased, and Amy became one of my dearest exchange-friends. Many ciders and cigarettes were shared while discussing life, books, music and our greatest shared love -- Sweden.

            Amy moved back to Boston in June, while I moved on to Stockholm. Amy returned for Christmas 2009 and left just before I returned to New Zealand in early January. So besotted with Sweden, Amy recently returned yet again. However, this time it’s for a two-year Masters course at Uppsala University and with a not-so-secret plan to never leave. Take that, Migrationsverket. So serious her plans to stay, she’s started a blog about being an outsider living in Sweden. Ex-pats thrive on deconstructing the ‘Swedish mystique’; the innate quirks of Swedes that include (but by no means are limited to) flopping dishcloths over the kitchen faucet (sorry to every person I have subsequently lived with – I can’t stop now), a love of cheese on hard crackers the size of a wheels, mass-watching of 1970s Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas Eve, strange celebrations that include Fettisdagen (literally ‘Fat Tuesday’ where everyone gorges on semlor buns) and Kanelbullens dag (like the former, but with cinnamon buns), and on and on. Basically, Amy will never be short of material. 

What struck me about these two blogs, other than a standard of writing that puts the majority of New Zealand journalism to shame, is the number of similarities between Sweden and Japan. While there are plenty of glaring differences, deriving primarily from the fact that Japan is an ultra-conservative country of 127 million while Sweden is a sparsely-populated social libertarian’s heaven; the hyper-polite, bike-riding, recycling, shoe-removing, diligent Japanese reminds me of the Swedes. Maybe the similarities don’t go far beyond this and it’s just that Western ex-pats in Western countries are inevitably drawn to the trivial quirks, in the absence of massive disparities in wealth, living conditions, gender-equality (and on and on), and it so happens that, like any two Western countries, Japan and Sweden simply shares some similarities. When I’ve visited Scarlett in Japan and had some time to over-analyse it, I’ll let you know.

'So this is where Japan is', and 'Flytande; An American in Sweden' Also, I enjoyed the irony of blogging about Japan/a Scandinavian country in the context of 'trawling'. Sorry to any misled whale activists that have ended up here.

Ditching laptops and boyfriends in favour of the City Library

Monday, October 4, 2010

Exam time is looming. The smell of stress and smuggled hot food from Railway New World Metro is starting to permeate the air. All going to plan, this will be my final set of university end-of-year exams. That doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘my last ever exam period’, but it is still exciting to think that this time next year, I will be done with the mediocre institution that is Victoria University. In an extreme case of counting my chickens before they’ve hatched, I’m feeling a little sentimental and reflective about my last five years at law school. It is strange to think back to the Di stressfully applying for Halls of Residence and reminiscing is a similar way about the previous five years of high school. Would 17-year-old Di have expected that the last half-decade would play out the way it has? What advice would she have sought to get her through the coming, inevitably topsy-turvy, years?

In a recent article in the New York Times, ‘Ditch Your Laptop and Your Boyfriend’, five college students were asked to give their advice on how to get the most out of the university experience. The catchy headline was not really very representative of the actual advice in the article, as the majority was more of the variety you would expect from parents and teachers; become involved in your university community, open your mind to new ideas and people, and have some interesting experiences along the way. But I feel if I could give one gem of advice to a new first-year student in 2011 it would be to indeed ditch your laptop and your boyfriend.

Fresh from the disciplined environment of high school, new students have always struggled with time-management, independent research and staying on task without a teacher berating them to do so. Actually, not even just new students. I struggle with this constantly. And all the more so in the last year, given the increased presence of the internet in my life (see: this blog).  Christine Smallwood, a PH.D student at Columbia, suggests that students enjoy ‘internet-free’ time and turn off their mobile devices each day for a while. She advocates for occasionally disconnecting from the world and returning to more traditional classroom situations where not everyone is hidden behind a screen. She, quite rightly, points out that taking notes on a laptop is not actually in your best interest, no matter how you try to justify it in terms of more legible, coherent notes. Instead, ditch your laptop and you’ll enjoy a far richer, more stimulating education and life experience. 

Last week, I unwittingly trialled this advice. With an essay deadline looming, I spent a day at the Wellington City Library, determined to get some work done. There are a lot of wonderful things about the City Library. It’s reliably clean and warm/a comfortable temperature. The library café is a wonderful blast from the past. Their melting moments are indeed melt-in-your-mouth moments of joy. But the most attractive attribute is actually what it lacks. The internet. You, seemingly wonderful in your ability to connect me to the world and all of the knowledge contained within, have become the biggest challenge to my productivity. At the university library, I estimate that about 75% (random figure, more just indicating the majority) of internet usage is spent on Facebook alone. When I’m at work, there is a little voice in the back of my head that reminds I am being paid to work, not to social network. But not at university. There, any distraction from what is now a tired pursuit, is a welcome distraction. Walking into the library computer labs has become what it must be like to walk into a National Party conference; a sea of blue and white. So, long story not-so-short, I went to the City Library where the internet is only available if you pay something ridiculous like $3 for half-an-hour and I got more work done in a day than in the entire week prior. Maybe entire fortnight prior, given that last week was a particularly unproductive week.

So maybe the advice shouldn’t be to ditch your laptop. Alone, laptops are actually quite boring. I don’t even think mine has Solitaire or Mice on it. Maybe it should be, First-year of 2011, ditch constant internet connectivity. Do you really need your laptop in class to take notes? Will you be able to resist popping open a tab to check the latest news story or what photos you’ve been tagged in from the night before at the Big Kumara? Or when you are writing that assignment, do you really need to be on the internet at the same time? Can’t the odd need-to-wiki be held-off for a few hours? If you are like me and pathetically lack the necessary self-control to resist the temptation of the internet, come hang out at the City Library. I'll be there, with my melting moment trying to pass this set of exams and moving onto the next five-year-block of my life.  

(Also, I totally agree with the ‘ditch your boyfriend’ advice from Rebecca Elliot. How many high-school relationships lingered on into the start of university, only to inevitably end three months later? Tragic. However, if your boyfriend/girlfriend is conducive to study and happy to hang out at the City Library, you can keep them. )


This was the first book to be loaned in Wellington. Look how happy they are to have ditched their laptop. 

Sun Day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunday morning bliss:

-       Drinking freshly made coffee. This is key to any kind of happiness. Like, falls into the core-necessities-of-life-department. Lately I've been buying Screaming Turtle coffee. To start with, it was just because it was a New World Bonus Buy, but I've become a loyal fan. I like their dark, strong 'Scream' blend. I like their quirky blend names, promising that extreme caffeine hit that my inner-coffee-addict self craves. And I like the cute little turtle. Always a sucker for animals on packaging. 

-       Having just finished reading a brilliant book (Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited). A friend recommended it, on the basis that I adored Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty. Now want to reread both books.

       Stretching out in bed in my new Stockholm Netball Club tee-shirt, courtesy of my wonderful friend, and the designer, Sarah. I will get a snap in mine (maybe not worn in bed though) to photoshop into this beautiful picture with mina älsklingar. 

Listening to a sun-inspired playlist. How do I upload an iTunes playlist someone? How?  Song highlights include this and this and this and this

-     Aforementioned bed is bathed in sunlight. Although I do not in fact live in a glorious woodland, my room was too messy to take a photo for blog documentation purposes, so this will have to suffice for the purpose of evidencing the sun-streaming effect. 

-       Having stumbled across a blog dedicated entirely to Alexander Skårsgard. Sitting here oogling over this  series showing Skårsgard in (ridiculously beautiful) variations of the same pose.

        .... and knowing that this set-up will continue late into the afternoon.