HEAR YE, HEAR YE

Drawing by John Tenniel

Announcing the upcoming serialization of Kicking Dogs on this very site.

The name is Jack Shackaway, and I’m a kind of freelance journalist. You meet some interesting people when you’re a hack writer living in Bangkok.
For example, the other day I was enjoying a few drinks with a pair of dubious characters name of Tommy Two-Toes and Wrong-Way Willie Wong. Actually, it was more than a few drinks, and these gentlemen were more than just Read more

Rocks and hard places

In an earlier post I promised to expand on a recent incident where I pulled the pin on a conversational grenade. Yeah, and then I dropped that word ‘niggardly’ right into the middle of a chat.

I’ll begin by saying that to label a certain world leader a corrupt and ignorant buffoon is merely to call a spade a spade. Or so some might claim. 

But am I indeed allowed to do that these days? Can I call a spade … Read more

Despatch from beneath my bed

The signs are everywhere. West-Coast fires, climate change, habitat and wildlife destruction. The pandemic and threat of others to come. Trump’s reign, the global rise of right-wing nationalism and fascism together with widespread human displacement and migration. Social media, AI and their effects on individuals, societies and cultures. A local social and political volcano on the bubble. The price of durian. Justin Bieber outbreaks in coffee shops everywhere …  

Are we indeed living in the End Times, or is it just too early in the morning and I didn’t … Read more

“The great contemporary terror is anonymity”

The current Leader of the Free World probably fears anonymity more than most.  So he expresses his ‘look at me, I’m a spoiled brat having a tantrum’ shtick in a manner perhaps proportionate to that terror. 

Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Chris Hedges, in his book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), quotes the critic William Deresiewitz:

The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of Read more

Me: A Rabble

In this time of lockdown, cabin fever is my Muse

Yo. Who’s in the mood for something confessional from a writer locked down with plenty of time on his hands but too much distraction? And too little self-discipline to shoot his friggin’ internet router. 

Cri de coeur

Is my own life following a plot, or has it always been merely notes toward a motley assortment of lives I no longer have time to live? 

Hamstrung by distraction

There. That’s me, … Read more

Tilt! Tilt! Tilt! … Game over

In the old days science-fiction writers didn’t have to write so fast. But now reality has taken to outrunning the imagination. By the time you finish a draft, all you’ve got is something that reads like history. 

In Leary’s terms, it’s like our whole world is on tilt. The following rap comes to us from the late 2050s.

Climate change, the Trumpster & Co., pandemics, surveillance and social control, a cultural malaise that’s a metaphysical equivalent to HIV/AIDS, and more!
Read more

101 ways social isolation can be good for you

#1: Recover the pleasure of sinking into a long novel. 

learn to out-focus a goldfish 

Recover an attention span longer than that of a goldfish – your average digitally connected human has the lesser attention span – the way evolution intended. Be less a victim of the myriad modern distractions that grab our minds and then scatter them across what currently pass for our realities. 

compose the script of your own existence

Reclaiming your attention span means also reclaiming a … Read more

The Great Cull

Looking back from some time in the future, assuming there’s still anyone to look back, will we interpret COVID-19 in part as a cull?  

If so, then exactly what was culled? Did the pandemic take mostly the old and weak, leaving the rest of the herd to carry on? Maybe it also culled the stupid and irresponsible to some extent, though those conditions may have been more a matter of nurture than genetic nature. (I’ll leave it to readers to … Read more

Where do we go from here?

In what follows, I propose a speculative chronology of developments over the coming months as we try to maintain our social distancing. The items and the order in which they appear are off the top of my head. 

From this website.

I welcome suggested revisions or additions. This post could evolve together with actual developments out there in the real world.

  • people begin looking notably dishevelled, unkept, a consequence of having spouses cut their hair or else having to do
Read more

Trade your freedoms for security? Social-cultural triage

medical triage

‘Triage,’ a common dilemma, is more and more presenting a terrible moral choice in this time of pandemic COVID-19. When medical facilities and staff are utterly overwhelmed, medical staff must decide, on the basis of various criteria, who lives and who dies. 

social-cultural triage

Perhaps that expression can be usefully applied to another dilemma, one that is characteristic of a modern world increasingly shaped by digital technology in service to the politics of fear. Here’s an example of … Read more