Thursday, 30 January 2014

"Whale slaughter in Denmark" - how a lie can get halfway round the world before the truth has its boots on

The Faroe Islands' relationship
to Denmark in  the amazing
Scandinavia And The
World comic. Funny
and educational!
http://satwcomic.com/
the-faroes
Okay so I'm writing about the Denmark whaling post that's going round. It's a week since I saw it being shared all over Facebook, and this girl has already written a post about it, but she missed some important points - mainly that this story has been around for a very long time.

So here's my analysis on the web page, the story, and a little digging I've done too.

The page is called "Please keep this going around the world" on Chinese social website QQ.com*, containing photos of horrific slaughter of dolphins, or whales, or something, in the Faroe Islands, which is kind of Denmark but not really.

The photos, as you can see here, are mostly poor quality and some have (differing) text watermarks on them. The page says the "dolphins" are being killed purely as a rite of passage.

Emotive picture #1, dead
whales lined up in blood
The text is in both English and Simplified Chinese, which checks out with Google Translate (i.e. it does say roughly the same things in Chinese). This is relevant to the story re-appearing, which I'll come back to.

The main points are easy to work through, and Megan Stamper has already covered them in her Tumblr post:
  • "Calderon dolphins" are actually Pilot whales
  • They are not endangered and the slaughter is considered sustainable by the International Union for Converservation of Nature
  • The islands's law prevents unnecessary suffering of animals and death is achieved by cutting the spinal cord, occurring in "about 30 seconds or less"
  • The whales are not killed meaninglessly, with the meat being distributed to the local community
  • The Faroe Islands are a self-governing group of islands within the Danish Realm, not actually Denmark
Emotive picture #2, big scarlet spill
of blood in the sea
Personally I find it hard to believe it isn't "unnecessary suffering", and I doubt this custom is "necessary" as a source of food**, rather than about emotional issues on cultural heritage.

But as Stamper rightly points out, it's not very different from factory farming which provides huge amounts of meat in a very cruel way.

Online outrage at least 5 years old

Emotive pic #3, young people
hacking at whales with not-quite-
surgical equipment
That's all fine. But what Stamper and the millions sharing this post seemed to miss, is that it's been around since at least 2008 - starting out as a protest email, like so many posts of dubious origin which snowball into the internet.

Snopes collected the story in Nov 2009, while Hoax Slayer had it submitted in Nov 2008. Both show it originated as a campaign email with a vague target and few instructions, i.e. to force Denmark (as "owner" of the Faroes) to prevent the slaughter.

So why is the story back? Well, as with "New Trend In Portland", the post has all the right ingredients - shocking photos, a sense of outrage, re-posted in a unique way - making it seem new. Again, I'll come to this point later.

Emotive pic #4, gathered people on
shore and living/dying whales
Also, this was shared on a Chinese website with both Chinese and English language - allowing maximum social coverage across both those parts of the web. It's entirely possible this is the first time it's made it to a Chinese non-English-speaking audience.

Those photo watermarks

The watermarks are clever, because if the story goes viral with your name on it, that's a lot of brand recognition.***

Emotive pic #5, right up close
The first photo has "ABC media" and the QQ/WeChat logo, matched with a link to ABC above the picture (Javascript, seems broken).

But most of the others are "lail-alsahara.com", which isn't a website (any more?), but redirects to abunawaf.com, which is some kind of nonsense viral-sharing website in Arabic.

Writing "lail-alsahara.com" into Google brings up the automatic suggestion "lail-alsahara.com dolphin killing", which suggests people are searching this term a lot right now, for a website and post doesn't seem to exist.

Ironically, searching for it does bring up this inserbia.infro article from 2013 and this PSmagazine.com article from 2008, taken from a Zonology.Blogspot.com post which also doesn't exist any more.

The article seems new, and that's important

Emotive pic #6, dead whales
with guts cut open
When people blindly click "share" on these posts on social media, they may not think it's a new event - it's pretty clear the whaling has been going on for a long time - but the reason to click share is that the article is new, that it is a custom which has been newly discovered, which has not been talked about before.

Of course most people sharing haven't seen the original email, and you might say hey, it's new to that person. But firstly, the spread relies upon people not looking it up; a 5-second web search would reveal this story has been around for years.

And here's the acid test: if it really mattered to people, they wouldn't just stop with sharing this post - which is exactly the last thing that most people (most, see postscript) will do on this "horrific" subject.

The camera never lies, but the meme does mutate

Non-watermarked 2005 photo from the
Wikipedia article on whale meat.
This is not from the email/shared post, and
you're unlikely to see it shared around.
Unlike many shock posts like "New Trend In Portland" which people share without thinking, the subject here is actually true - the Faroe Islands do actually hunt pilot whales, and they make a lot of mess doing it.

But what's interesting is the way these stories exist for a long time, spreading in fits and starts**** and mutating over time. And they often develop in a way that maximises their chance to be shared (like viruses) at the expense of the truth (like traditional tabloid journalism).

Did the person who posted this on QQ.com cynically adapt an existing story, to get page clicks and views? Or did they simply re-post, in a new way, something they believed without checking? It doesn't matter. The story, the idea, the meme, develops a life and a career all of its own.

So there it is. By the way, the title quote is from Mark Twain, although I got it from Terry Pratchett, and you should definitely read and share both of them.

Postscript - Twitter, the tipping point, and evolution

I was about to click "publish", and did a quick search on Twitter to find some decent hashtags for sharing this, my own blog post. What I saw is that people are sharing this story every hour, promoting petitions and campaign sites like this and this and here and here, naturally alongside individual images and Facebook/Tumblr posts etc.

This rapid sharing is very probably a direct result of the Chinese page being shared on social media very recently. Why else would the Change.org petition, which is 3 years old or more, only have reached 15,000 signatures 5 days ago, on 25th Jan 2014?

So who knows what's next. Maybe these campaigns will hit mainstream media. Which would be funny, since mainstream media has already been talking about about this for years. And no-one on social media thought about mentioning it.

 * English-language equivalent is WeChat.com

** Slightly ironically, the Faroe Islands' Chief Medical Officer said in 2008 that the mercury level in the whales is too high for human consumption. And whales breaking into thermometers and drinking them is whole different issue.

*** In similar cynical fashion, I've uploaded those pics here myself, with file names of "faroewhaleslaughter1.jpg", which means search results will pick up this blog post and bring traffic here. Neat huh? That's how they work.

**** Much like the navy ship vs. lighthouse story/joke

Monday, 27 January 2014

Australia Day or Invasion Day? Just change the day, and the flag too

Yesterday was Australia Day, also known as "Invasion Day" and "Survival Day". Here's a basic FAQ - from an outsider's perspective - on why it's controversial and why it should be moved.

What is Australia Day?

It's Australia's national day, celebrated on 26th January, marking the date the British sailed into Sydney Cove in 1788 and claimed New South Wales for Britain.

What happens on Australia Day?

Parades, fireworks, civic awards, festivals, barbecues, and LOTS of flags.

Young people dress up in Australian flags, novelty hats and glasses, temporary tattoos and thongs (flip flops), and often get drunk on the streets. A minority of racists use it as an excuse to incite hatred and violence.

What's "Invasion Day"? Or "Survival Day"?

Obviously, Indigenous Australians don't feel great about the day the British arrived and started systematically destroying them and their culture. "Invasion" and "Survival" describe the Aboriginal experience of Australia's colonisation.

But it could be a good day to celebrate, the meeting of Europeans & Aborigines?

Any reason to celebrate the meeting of white explorers and brown indigenous peoples has been squandered by 200 years of genocide and oppression. Kind of a shame really.

Wasn't colonialism was a long time ago?

It wasn't very long in the past for Australia, with Aborigines only becoming citizens between 1949 and 1965. The effects of aggressive violent colonialism on Indigenous Australians - worse health, employment, education, standards of living, even a sheer lack of people (3% of population) - are still obvious to see today.

Didn't the government say sorry?

It was great to see the Australian government finally apologise for the wrongs of colonialism, but it was largely symbolic. You can't fix 200 years of colonialism overnight.

[Edit: Rudd's apology was actually only for the government's involvement in the Stolen Generations. Indigenous Australians are still waiting for anything symbolic or practical regarding the theft and horror of colonialism.]

But every country needs a national day.

Yes, agreed. I'm no fan of nationalism or flag-waving, but most people like their country, and most people enjoy having a national day, where everyone in that country gets to celebrate.

Australia should have a national day, for all Australians - whether European, Aboriginal, or immigrant.

For many, it is about multicultural, modern Australia...

Despite Australia Day's trashy reputation of alcohol, flags and violence, for many people it is truly about celebrating the good things of this bold country: opportunity, prosperity and diversity.

And despite the ongoing witch-hunt against boat people, most Aussies are happy to count the varied immigrants who choose to make Australia home - and who choose to be Australian - as fellow Australians and an asset to the country.

...even if the parades are a bit creepy...

Like all parades, the Australia Day parade in Melbourne central seemed a little desperate: an insecure, flag-drenched attempt to remind everyone how multicultural Australia is, it's okay, it's okay, we're all Australians.
The parade was led by the
Armed Forces, naturally. Um...

But it was nice to see almost every ethnic group from Victoria's past and present was represented, including associations for the Danish, Vietnamese, Macedonians, Filipinos, even the Karen people from Thailand/Burma. Almost every ethnic group ... except Indigenous Australians.

It's hardly surprising though. If you were Aboriginal, would you be part of a parade on this day?

So, move the day

There really is one reason Australia Day cannot be that uniting day for all Australians, and that's because of the date. 26th January represents the first day the British arrived in Australia and took it.

Even if Australia gets over its issues with immigrants, racism and boat people, it's hard to see Indigenous Australians ever accepting 26th January as a way to celebrate being Australian.

Which day to move it to? Well, as the Rap News video above suggests: there are alternative dates, but any day would be less offensive than the current day.

And why not change the flag as well

Sam Neill, famous Australian.
The current Australian flag sums up the situation perfectly: a history of British colonialism, with no mention or appreciation of the societies and cultures who were here long before Europeans arrived.

Changing the Australian flag has been a topic for a while. The 1997 sci-fi film Event Horizon, set in the year 2047, included a credible future Australian flag: the Aboriginal flag replacing the British Union flag in the corner.

http://museumvictoria.com.au/about/
mv-blog/nov-2013/flags-for-melbourne/
But flying above the Melbourne museum right now is an even better one: John Warwicker's design for the Flags for Melbourne art project.

It's not just a beautiful artistic design. This is a genuinely worthy flag for Australia.

Changing Australia Day to a different day, and making this the Australian Flag, would do miracles for Australia's reputation, racial relations and future.


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Australia's bad beer, and cold flats in Portugal: Does YOUR country have Seasonal Self-Denial?

Melbourne has bad beer.
I'll explain this outrageous statement in a moment, but first, Portugal.

A hot country, everywhere, all the time

Portugal in November, bright but chilly.
Also pictured: me, age 24
My first couchsurfing experience was in Lisbon in November 2007. I stayed with a lovely Brazilian girl who drove me around and showed me awesome places I would never have found by myself in a foreign city.

But it was November, and while the days were sunny, the nights were cold, even indoors in her flat.

"Why aren't there any radiators? Do you have any heaters?" I asked innocently. I hadn't yet found out that central heating is actually pretty rare around the world.

"Of course not," she said, very straightforwardly. "Portugal is a hot country!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Seasonal Self-Denial.

New Zealand, where fresh air is important, all year round

Rich houses in New Zealand are more likely to have underfloor heating than insulation or double-glazing; poor houses are usually made badly, from bad materials, are riddled with holes and damp, and have louvre windows. In fact lots of houses in New Zealand have louvre windows.

Louvre (jalousie) windows were usually built in the bathroom/toilet of a New Zealand building, on the basis that noxious poo smells are more dangerous to human health than cold air which brings damp and mould into your house. This means they are excellent for getting young children started on respiratory diseases which should have been eradicated dozens of years ago.

This might not really matter if New Zealand was a hot, dry, inland country... so it's a shame then, that all the NZ architects forgot that it's an island nation, where the fresh air is full of moisture, and where it actually gets cold in winter. Surprise!

If this is the state of beer in Melbourne, then...

Let's be clear. I'd rather have beer in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia. Melbourne: Australia's big, cultural, creative city! If the beer's going to be good anywhere, it's here. And yet...

At a nice restaurant on Saturday, I asked the waiter (nicely) how come the menu had 9 beers - 9 fancy bottled craft beers - and none of them were dark. Golden ales, lagers, pale ales*, even Weiss beer, but nothing dark or even brown.

"Oh, well, we did have some," he said happily, "back when it was colder. But it's summer now, so it's hot."

Let that sink in. If you don't get what's funny, here's some relevant facts:
  • Melbourne has a famous reputation for terrible, unpredictable weather (because most Australians have never been to Wellington).
  • Famous New Zealander Neil Finn from famous Australian band Crowded House wrote a famous song about how bad Melbourne weather is, called "Four Seasons In One Day". It's not a joke or a love song, it's a real thing.
  • In the previous 24 hours, Friday to Saturday, the temperature had dropped 25 degrees - from 44 at the end of Melbourne's record-long 40+ heatwave, straight down to a cool 19.
Rare breed: a dark Australian beer.
White Rabbit's owners, famous brewery
Little Creatures, brew 6 beers...
none of them dark.
But this nice man, who knew lots about good food and drink, was just repeating what every Australian knows. This is a hot country. We drink light beer because it's hot. Everywhere, all year round.

The thing is, it would make perfect sense to make tasty dark beers like porter and stout more available in Australia, and definitely Melbourne, and not just hide them secretly in specialist bars like the St. Kilda Taphouse. This is especially true of NZ and Australian dark beer, which (unlike dark British ales) are cold, crisp and very refreshing in all seasons.

And of course, let's not forget air conditioning. Bangkok has at least one Belgian beer bar. Even Laos makes a dark beer!

Try and see past the whinging pom

I know what you're thinking. Yes, I've been spoiled by the ale culture of Britain and the recent craft beer explosion in Wellington and New Zealand. Yes, I've only been here for 4 weeks. Yes, I should adjust and enjoy the new things in a new country instead of comparing it to other places.

But temperature and weather are relative, and how we act is affected by the stories we tell ourselves.

In Thailand in November, you see tourists wearing shorts because it's hot and locals wearing jeans because it's cold - in the same room together. The locals aren't just Thais either, they're ex-pats too. They live there. After 38 degrees in May, 25 is nice and chilly for anyone.

So I put it to you, Melbourne and Australians, to have more confidence in dark beer, and to you, Portuguese, to have more faith in heating. And to you, New Zealand, to have more faith in windows that actually keep the air out. Because everywhere gets cold outside sometimes.

Incidentally, I just moved into my first house here in Australia, and look what I found in the toilet. Brilliant.

At least it wasn't a spider

* Dear god so many pale ales in the world right now. It's been the Sauvignon Blanc of craft beers for several years already - everyone is making it, and the quality is dropping. Craft breweries are too afraid to make anything else, and punters only see wall-to-wall pale ales. End the madness. Let something else be trendy.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

"New trend in Portland": A made-up story for ad clicks, Facebook likes, or maybe just the lolz

I'm cautiously excited to write this, catching a potential internet sensation (not quite a meme) at the start.

Here is a picture called "New trend in Portland" telling you to "share if you think this is nuts". It appeared on my Facebook feed this morning after a friend shared it from a page called Power 104.3, who posted it on 11th Jan 2014. It's been shared 62,205 times at the time I'm writing this.

But there's surprisingly little else on the internet for it. Surprising for a "trend", right?

Here is a video by star999radio on Youtube, called "The New Trend In Portland". It features a presenter filming reactions of his office colleagues as he shows them the picture above. This was apparently shared "1 day ago" (very specific, Youtube). On the video page it has 1,597 views, but the search results show just 131 views, which suggests this is being viewed rapidly at the moment. If you search "new trend in portland", it is the only video on the subject. (Update: The video page now shows 1,708 views since I started writing this post.)

However. Here is one of the original images which "new trend OMG" takes from. It was shared in this discussion on Snopes (awesome hoax/myth busting website) back in February 2010, and also in this discussion on website BritishSnoring.co.uk. So the image itself isn't new.

But, the more tell-tale signs are nothing to do with the images. They are the words "Portland" and "new trend".

Portland is well-known for its alternative cultures and lifestyles, having more in common with (glorious Australian city) Melbourne than with the rest of the States. These stereotypes are so established, US comedians Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen lovingly mock them in the sketch show Portlandia.

So, Portland is an easy target for ridiculing things you don't like, don't understand, find "gross", or think are slightly hippy.

"New trend in X" is designed to both scare and excite people. A new trend? Where? What if it comes to my town? Is this what the cool kids are doing these days? OMG so disgusting! *clicks share*

Combining the two, gives you the perfect mix of 1) gross-out and 2) mocking stereotypes of people you don't like (hipsters, metallers, the young and the weird) to send it round the internet and back.

The truth is, there is no evidence to suggest this is a new trend rather than 2 individuals, or that they even live in Portland.

Both the video above and this website (14th Jan) label it the "front porch" piercing. But I wonder if that's something to do with the earliest mention I can find on this discussion site (16th November 2013) in a board coincidentally titled "The Front Porch" - a board designed for random chat, and coincidentally the most popular discussion board, and the first one you see on the website's home page.

It's worth noting the piercings shown are clear glass/perspex stretchers, not an open hole, which many people think (see comments on Power 104.3's post such as "how do they eat??!1") thanks to poor quality JPGs.

This is all assuming the photos are genuine, and haven't been photoshopped somehow, or they're not just awesome badges to wear under your bottom lip.

Edit: a friend has just pointed out that labret stretchings are common - see these image search results - but usually with coloured plugs. Therefore these images might easily just be people swapping their plug for a ring, just for the camera, or for laughs.

You might think that I'm just helping this (potential) internet sensation by writing a blog post about it. Maybe, maybe not. People who've read this are less likely to click share, knowing that it's not a trend and it's not in Portland.

And naturally, one reason I wrote this was an opportunity to get some blog views. If it gets big and people are searching for it, maybe they'll come here to my crappy little blog, right?

The internet is a big ol' place and so fast-moving that even if this does get seen by everyone and their mum, no-one will remember it next week anyway.

Or maybe they will? Because the real irony is this: if it wasn't a trend already, it will be after this.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Melbourne heatwave, and moaning about moaning about weather

I hear this so often, I put it on a T-shirt.
http://www.redbubble.com/people/jezkemp/
works/8566822-its-not-usually-like-this-weather
This week's coming heatwave (35, 39, 40, 41 degrees etc.) will mark a new phase in the Jez Kemp weather moaning/weather moaners-moaning saga.

In Wellington I moaned about the weather, then I hardened up and moaned about anyone daring to moan about the weather, which is almost the same thing really.

In May last year I made a big deal about Looking Like A Local and wore trousers in 38 degrees. Then in November I made a big deal about travellers thinking 28 degrees was hot, while all the Thais were wearing jeans*. It's still like weather moaning, but in reverse, or meta, or something.

So this week: Will I be moaning about the heat,
the sweat, and how it's impossible to sleep at night?

Or will I be moaning about the locals moaning about the weather? People who've been through this dozens of times before, but will swear blind that "it's not normally like this"?

Local rag The Age has already used the phrase "the Xest X since X", which is like weather-moaning foreplay, regardless of the country or season**. People are now authorised to moan about the weather, because it's the Xest X since X, even if 40 degrees feels very much the same as 35.

Maybe it'll make me nostalgic for Wellington weather. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh the lolz.


* I stand by my conclusions that "hot" and "cold" are entirely relative, when in the same room you have tourists wearing shorts because it's hot, and locals/ex-pats wearing jeans because it's cold.

** See the Polar Blast Of New Zealand August 2011, when Wellingtonians climbed over each other to take photos of snow from their office windows like Africans who'd never seen the stuff. Wellington is 4hrs drive from the skifields of Mount Ruapehu.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

I made a music video! The Library Suits "Cantor's Infinity"

"Cantor's Infinity" by the amazing The Library Suits. Watch in stunning 480px quality!

My favourite bit is Matt's thumbs up at the start
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ4qvJ-vYd4

I filmed this at The Bull pub in Colchester, Essex, England on my rather shitty camera. You'll notice they're super tight - all playing and singing the parts live exactly to the recorded version - all I had to do was speed it up a little.

"Cantor's Infinity" is from the AMAZING album "Destroy Discover" which you can download for free here on Soundcloud, or get it from Bandcamp and donate them some money for it!

http://www.facebook.com/thelibrarysuits

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Summer Christmas without family: Weird, sad, awesome, fun, but not wrong

Me, Oriental Beach, Wellington  Christmas Day 2013.
I've spent 6 Christmases in New Zealand, but 2013 was the first I've spent away from family.

I've been lucky enough to have Kiwi family outside Auckland, and had a great 5 years in Christmas up north with them.

But this time, partly by circumstance, partly out of choice, I spent it with friends and travellers I hadn't met.

Christmas in summer - normal for half the planet

The more time I've spent in New Zealand, the more normal everything feels. So when British/US/European people jokingly say "Christmas in summer, that's so wrong", I feel a bit stunned and don't know what to say.

It's certainly not wrong if you live in any of these countries in the Southern Hemisphere:
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • South Africa
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Bolivia
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Tanzania
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Madagascar
  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • and so on. There's probably some Christians and westerners in Indonesia too. Diplomats, ex-pats, right?
People in these countries grow up with December, and therefore Christmas, in summer.

What is really weird is things like fake snow in Australia and New Zealand, as if they still haven't cut the apron strings from Mother England and the Northern Hemisphere. But that's by the by.

So what happens at a summer Christmas? From what I know about New Zealand, family is still the main theme - extended families and relatives will gather and share presents and eat food. Nom nom nom.

The main differences are being able to go outside (which means less TV), have a barbecue, maybe play some cricket (provided it doesn't rain!), and so on. Sometimes people will go to the park and have a picnic at the shared barbecues, maybe some people go to the beach.

And it's great!

The fact is, just because you're not used to something, doesn't mean it's "wrong", especially if you haven't actually tried it.

Christmas without family - sad but fun, it all depends

Spending Christmas with family is some kind of unwritten law in the UK. It's almost a religious thing, far more than whatever baby may or may not have been born in a barn 2000ish years ago.

But, for most people who are living or travelling away from home, you are forced to spend it without family.

While this can be a sad reminder of the distance, even with video calling and other modern technology, it also forces you to choose how you want to spend your day and who you want to spend it with.

Wellington being very international, there are dozens of barbecues and social meetups for travellers who are technically Christmas "orphans". This year was my first one, and it went something liked this:
  • Morning video call with UK family (their Christmas Eve)
  • Decorate and set up house and garden (deck chairs, barbecue, awnings for shade)
  • Meet & chat to arriving visitors
  • Drink some beers and eat barbecue food. Avoid getting sunburnt. (Wellington came through!)
  • Clean up at end of the afternoon, shoo everyone out, basic tidy up
  • Head down to the beach to catch last of the sun
  • Brief swim in the sea (it's not cold, it's "fresh"), followed by more drinking, ice creams and silliness on the beach
  • Head up to a friend's for party, drinking and silly dancing
This is by no means a "normal" Christmas, and even other young ish travellers will have different versions of what I've just described. But this is how I spent my Christmas Day 2013 and I had a really great day.

Christmas is a great opportunity to spend time with family, especially if you don't get to see them very often. But I would recommend trying one with friends just once, as a different experience.

Also it's worth bearing in mind the different ways different cultures celebrate Christmas too. Europeans and Latin Americans, for instance, celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Many countries celebrate Christmas on Epiphany (the end of the 12 days of Christmas) which is either 6th or 19th January depending on which calendar was being followed (Gregorian or Julian).

And finally, let's not forget the people who really don't care about Christmas. The Indian people in the dairy (shop) where we bought ice creams. The people we saw jogging on the waterfront. NZ is largely very relaxed about Christmas, and this extends to Christmas Day too.

Christmas is marked and celebrated in hundreds and thousands of different ways across the world, which is fitting for an event with dubious historical origins and which has been altered and (mis)appropriated over the centuries.

Anyone for Saturnalia this year?




Friday, 3 January 2014

Hello Melbourne - The intoxicating promise of a new city

Happy new year kids, and greetings from Melbourne! This city is located on New Zealand's West Island, also known as "Australia" for the purposes of immigration and dangerous wildlife.

Thanks to Australians getting only 1 day off for New Year (unlike true Kiwis, who get 2), my Day 1 in Melbourne was the first day of a spanking new year. And it's summer!

You see, I've gone and done it again. I've disappointed my family and friends and moved to a new country. Partly because me and the UK aren't ready to settle down yet - we still need to see other people - but same as 2008, largely for the sheer blind hell of it.

The difference this time is Melbourne is a big city. It's far bigger than Wellington. It's even bigger than Bristol where I went to university. And walking up and down sun-drenched streets listening to old-school Tsar and smiling at all the cool/interesting/sexy/weird people, I can taste the intoxicating promise of the big city again.

So many bars to hit.
So many coffees to drink.
So many beautiful people to meet/kiss/fuck/be awesome friends with.
So many stages to rock out on.
So much culture and events and life.

The temptation is to believe you can own it, that you can learn it and encompass it and make it your bitch and say "I'm king-queen-master of this city, I know everything there is to know".

That is a lie. It's too big to eat. It changes too fast to be described.

But that doesn't stop me being hungry.

Here's to a new city to rip into, and a new year, and whateverthefuck comes with it.

Jx