Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog
GeneralWednesday, January 20th, 2021, (4:45 pm)

He has left the White House for the last time. His trumpsterfire of a Presidency is over, so what now?

Donny Danger

The King of chaos may have been dethroned, but I wonder if he’ll somehow become more disruptive on the sidelines without people around him trying to slow down his tsunami of madness.

I want him to disappear and his tiresome blatherings to become utterly irrelevant. I like to think of him muttering angrily under his breath as he wanders alone into obscurity. But then I also think that he should be held to account for the mayhem he fomented.

Whatever happens, I’m glad that the man who was trusted with the nuclear codes, but in the end couldn’t be trusted with a social media account, has left the seat of power upon which there’s now a stain that even history won’t be able to clean.

GeneralThursday, December 24th, 2020, (4:00 pm)

As Santa embarks on another trans-global excursion to every dwelling on the planet, details are emerging that the lovable bearded old man may have been ‘patient zero’ in the COVID19 pandemic.

North Pole Informant Elf

As the world continues to struggle with the pandemic, an Elf from the North Pole has broken the Elf code of silence to blow the whistle on a health emergency that swept through Santa’s little helpers in late 2019.

Speaking under the assurance of anonymity the Elf raised the possibility that Mr. Claus might have been ‘patient zero’ of COVID19, or at least the biggest single ‘super-spreader’ of the deadly virus. According to the unnamed Elf, working conditions in the North Pole have become increasingly difficult over the last few years due to the effects of climate change. Reduced Elf numbers and production capacity has forced Santa Claus to outsource more and more work to China.

Wrong bats ordered from ChinaIn late 2019 after the Doosan Bears won the Korean Baseball Series in a tense final against the Kiwoom Heroes, the North Pole saw early Christmas list projections which suggested baseball bats would be a popular item for the 2019 Christmas.

Such items can be sourced from China at relatively low costs so a North Pole Christmas executive placed an order with a Chinese supplier for several thousand bats.

Unfortunately due to a clerical oversight the word ‘baseball’ was omitted from the order and as a result, the North Pole took delivery of several thousand live bats in early November 2019.

The North Pole is an inhospitable place for bats so the local department of Elf and Safety issued a directive for the bats to be housed in the same enclosures as Santa’s reindeer until they could be returned to the Chinese supplier.

Virologists studying COVID19 have speculated that the virus originated in bats and may have crossed over into humans at ‘wet markets’ in China. However, shortly after the bats were delivered to the North Pole the unnamed Elf informant reports that several Elves working in the reindeer stables fell sick with a mystery illness.

Sick ElfThe timing of the illness hit the North Pole at peak production time when output demands are at their highest. The North Pole’s own Department of Elf & Safety is now under scrutiny after they appeared to have ignored the rapid increase in the number of sick Elves, many of whom continued to work.

It’s unclear if Santa himself was made aware of the illness but it’s well known that absence from work in the peak production season is frowned upon by Mr. Claus who has, in the past, faced allegations of putting workers under ‘sweatshop’ conditions in the run-up to Christmas.

Given Mr. Claus’s close proximity to Elf workers at the Christmas headquarters, virologists suggest there would have been a very high chance Santa contracted the virus himself. However, given the secretive nature of Christmas operations, it’s not currently known if he showed symptoms or was treated for any illness before or after the holiday season.

Throughout 2019 China has faced criticism for its part in the COVID19 pandemic, not least from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who used the term ‘Kung Flu’ and ‘China Virus’ to describe COVID19. He blamed the Pandemic on China while assuring Americans it would disappear “like a miracle” in April of this year.

What did Santa know, and when?That focus will now surely switch to everyone’s favorite bearded old man who traveled to every country in the world last Christmas, handling gifts, eating mince pies and cookies, and drinking glasses of milk left for him at thousands of fireplaces.

Attempts to reach Santa for comment have failed so far and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is already tracking his movement across the globe. If Santa was patient zero of the COVID19 outbreak then his lovable image will be tested in the coming weeks.

With at least two vaccines for COVID19 now available perhaps Mr. Claus may want to work with governments to restore his reputation by putting some of that logistical expertise to good use. Certainly, nobody else has such a wealth of global delivery experience, making Santa Claus ideally positioned to at least advise on the delivery of the vaccines, even if it means delivering to individuals previously on the ‘naughty list.’

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Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all stay safe and well.

General and PoliticalSaturday, December 12th, 2020, (8:02 am)

Hello blog. It’s been a while since I was last here; four years to be precise. I’ll be honest with you, after Brexit and Trump happened I needed some space. My liberal leanings were challenged, and with so much rage and vitriol around, I didn’t see the point of being one more voice shouting into the toxic void known as the internet. Four years later, my toxic shock is over.

Trump beheading liberty

Nobody reads blogs anymore. Facebook dealt a body blow to online journaling and the rest of social media swept it away in a tsunami of bite-sized bullshit anyone could read and share in seconds.

Our collective attention span was reduced to the length of a tweet. People stopped reading the news and instead read only the headlines. We shared for ‘likes’ and loved the affirmation those hearts and thumbs-up gave us.

When Edward Snowden told us we were being spied on, and Cambridge Analytica was revealed to be manipulating all of us, the world didn’t rise up and demand accountability. Instead, we raised little more than a collective eyebrow, then went back to thumbing through memes and Instagram posts from ‘influencers’ who exist in color-saturated worlds we browse with a hint of envy and maybe a side order of disdain.

So when Donald Trump became the President-elect in 2016, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Just months earlier, amid a storm of misinformation, lies, and manipulation, the United Kingdom had ripped itself away from its nearest neighbors in an isolationist divorce they called ‘Brexit.’

President PussygrabberThe term ‘Brexit’ shortened the complexity of the choice voters had and gave it a clickable brand. You were either for or against ‘Brexit’ and it didn’t need to be any more complicated than that. People defined in their own minds what that word meant, irrespective of what the truth was.

Across the Atlantic, Americans had ‘MAGA’ and their red hat revolution that liberals thought could never happen. A ‘pussy-grabbing’ reality TV President was an absurd notion, impossible they thought.

Even Trump didn’t believe he would win, shouting from his campaign pulpit about how the election was rigged and victory would surely be stolen from him by an establishment of unrelatable elites, journalists, and experts.

The sweet joy of ‘owning the libs’ and the idea of building a wall to keep everyone you hate from crossing your path was a delicious idea that ignited citizens who had long felt like nobody in power was listening to them.

Complicated conversations were reduced to a word or a slogan that you could declare or decry then quickly thumb to the next meme or morsel of fast news served in the palm of your hand.

It seemed to me that nobody was listening anymore. Everyone had an opinion, and many were shouting it while others slung bar brawl punches that landed like a messy end to a good night out.

We awoke the next day with digital hangovers, our heads pounding while outside normality was ablaze. Networks created to connect us had done the opposite. Truth and the opportunity to pause for thought had been drowned in an epic flood of fear and fury.

So on that cold November morning in 2016, what was I to write that hadn’t already been written? What point was there to write anything when everything had been reduced to slogans and portamentos?

TsunamiI felt lost and deflated. How had it got to the point where we knew more about what the people around us hated than what they loved?

As 2016 came to an end I wrote the final post on my 366 Pictures blog. It was a glorious summer day in Melbourne, Australia, far from the Brexiteers and the red hat revolutionaries. I didn’t think it would be four years until I would publish another word.

I thought of writing, even if it were just something to say I’m still here, still loving life and seeing the world. But nobody reads blogs anymore. If you’ve made it this far then we’re probably friends, and if we’re not we probably should be.

Blogging as a form of communication is dead, and that’s why I haven’t written anything for four years. If you and I are friends then we’ve been in touch, haven’t we? And if not, then let’s fix that.

Let’s fix that because in this world of instant communication, communication itself is broken.

So maybe rather than watching another documentary telling us that, or posting something on social media lambasting this truth, we can take back a little control by reaching out to one another to start talking and maybe, more importantly, start listening.

As for my long-forgotten blog, dated and derelict as it is, perhaps I’ll return to writing here. Not because anyone is reading, but because writing itself takes time.

To sit and craft one sentence after another requires thought, meditation in a way. We consume so much, maybe taking the time to create something as simple as a sentence can slow our rush to judgment?

I’ll write like the child who waves at passing airplanes knowing that the passengers won’t see them. They don’t need to see. I’m not waving for them, I’m waving for me.

Illustrations by Edel Rodriguez and Lennart Gäbel

PoliticalTuesday, November 8th, 2016, (12:00 pm)

Tomorrow could be a big day for Canada. If Führer Donald Trump wins the Presidency in tomorrow’s US election untold numbers of U.S. citizens will have to make good on their promises to pack up and move north of the border. Fortunately for them, Justin Trudeau has not announced any plans to build a wall on the southern border of his country… and make the Americans pay for it.

Americans willing to become immigrants

The final episode of the long running reality TV show called the U.S. Presidential Election will play out tomorrow across the United States and the world. Most of us non-Americans are hoping that it will be the end of the absurdity that the U.S. has inflicted upon us, but in truth I suspect it might merely be a transition into a new season of ridiculousness.

My hope is that the Reality TV twerp, Donald Trump, will not emerge the victor, and that once beaten, he will graciously step aside and allow the only marginally less acrid character of Hilary Clinton to begin her term as the next President of the United States of America.

Trump supporters will, of course, cry foul. They’ve been trained to rattle on about voter fraud and election rigging, and facts to the contrary will only strengthen their resolve about the so-called ‘liberal media’ being part of a grand scheme.

I’ll agree with Trump on one point; The political system is a mess. But he’s not part of the solution. In fact, he’s actually a product of the problem. Trump was born into wealth and as such he is part of an elite section of society that enjoy the spoils of a growing state of inequality that is beginning to look reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France.

In his 2014 TED talk, billionaire Nick Hanauer warns his fellow plutocrats that “the pitchforks are coming.” Though there seems little evidence that anyone of them are paying attention.

Efforts to “Make America Great Again” will require more than just a tag-line and a ring master who can whip-up a crowd like a travelling faith healer. But then again, “Hope and Change” haven’t exactly worked wonders either.

The word we hear a lot these days is “broken,” and after months of unavoidable political mud-wrestling thrust upon us, few would disagree that the system is indeed dysfunctional to say the least. The pity is that despite the rallies, the promises and the slogans, tomorrow won’t fix anything.

Make America Great Again. Again?

Don’t forget to check out 366pictures.com where I am blogging every single day through 2016. Check out a new picture and story each day, sign-up to get the pictures and stories delivered by email, and see them on facebook too!

PoliticalSaturday, June 25th, 2016, (8:05 pm)

I’m no longer a European! After the “Brexit” referendum, Great Britain has somehow managed to make itself into more of an island and less “Great” than ever… if you ask me.

Some old duffer with a UKIP banner

I haven’t blogged on here because I am blogging every day this year over at 366 Pictures. However, I wanted to return here just to express my shock and disappointment that the UK has decided, by a small majority, to divorce itself from Europe.

The vote seems to have been carried by the “grey-heads” and people who seem to rattle on endlessly about immigration for reasons that I have yet to understand.

It wasn’t all down to the oldies though. One of my friends said that he was “delighted” with the result of the referendum because he wants to see an end to the “uncontrolled exodus from Eastern Europe” to the shores of Britain. Ironically though in the past he lived in another European country for a while, and he says he wants to do so again. I wonder, would he classify himself as an “immigrant” in that case or an “ex-pat?”

While I am sure that many people have sound reasons for wanting to exit the EU, I can’t help but think that many of those who voted in favor of the divorce, did so out of thinly-veiled racism.

How did immigration become such a talking point in this referendum when it seems that the issue isn’t actually one that any clear position has been stated by any of the powers that be? And what do those who want to see an end to the “tidal wave of immigrants” think is going to happen? Do they think that people from EU countries who are living in the UK will be summarily rounded up and sent back to Europe?

I am very concerned that the word immigration now seems to be an incendiary word capable of bringing out the ugly side of so many people who disguise hateful racist fears under a flag of national pride.

U.S. Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, has endorsed the exit vote in what I think is a chilling preview of what might be to come in the coming election in the United States. Trump unashamedly whips up fear and racism with comments that it seems only excite his supporters. His tactic of using controversial claims and outright falsehoods has put him in a head to head fight for the White House, with facts playing second fiddle to fiction.

The so-called “Brexit” (and I REALLY hate that term) referendum seemed rife with the same problems. Facts and figures were set aside for fear-mongering and misinformation served with a familiar dose of racism dressed up as “national pride.”

EU passport. Not anymore!So now I am no longer a European, despite what my passport says on the cover. I’m not sure what effect this will have on my life, though as someone who lives overseas, I can tell you that today I am not happy with the British Pounds I have in the my UK bank and now worth significantly less as I spend them. Other effects will take longer to see and experience, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Time will tell if it was a mistake or not.

I tend to think that this referendum was won by selling a soup of fear and misinformation to the public and getting them to vote on a single issue, rather than truly understanding the wider question. Maybe that’s just the game of modern politics, in which case, I think our friends across the Atlantic might want to ready themselves for President Trump!

I’m blogging over at 366 Pictures this year – though I am really behind with that right now. I will catch up though, so please check it out, even if you voted for Brexit, I’ll still love you over there :-)

Photography and TravelThursday, December 31st, 2015, (9:20 am)

Back in 2012 I embarked on what I thought was a minor photography project of publishing one picture taken that day. 366 Pictures turned out to be anything but a minor project, and perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve decided to do it again next year, which of course starts tomorrow!

366 Pictures 2016

This is a very last minute decision, and hopefully one that I won’t regret! At times doing 366 pictures was exhausting. My travel itinerary that year was grueling. I travelled to 20 countries around the world, with the hardest stretch being 10 countries in 100 days, spending ten days in each country.

Along the way I had a few disasters, the worst of which was losing my passport in Japan, or so I thought. I actually found it in a hidden pocket in my luggage at the end of the project as I packed my case in New Zealand to return to Australia. (Seriously, I really did look hard for it! Losing it changed the entire itinerary!) But all of those minor catastrophes were eclipsed by the experience of really being engaged with every single day of that year.

So, I’ve decided to do it again! Just as in 2012, I have no real idea of what the itinerary is. It’s going to follow a rough plan, but where I’ll go, and what I’ll do, that’s unknown.

I’m going to hurriedly try and review the current site over the next few days, and I’ll probably archive it to make way for the new material. Like I say, this is all very last minute so give me a few days to get up to speed on this.

I really hope you’ll come along for the ride. I’ll do my best to try and have a little more social media interaction on the site too. Head over to 366pictures.com and start following me there.

I will also be launching the first season of 5 Minutes of Somewhere in 2016 too. Probably February, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

I hope 2016 will be another amazing year, and I hope it will also be amazing for you too.

Happy New Year everyone!

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