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Final of the Circle

Tonight is the live TV final of the Circle. I will be watching.

The Circle was an attempt to have a new type of reality show on the TV. Whereas previous shows have attempted to see what would happen when strangers met each other and are thrown together, on an island (castaways, bear grylls the island), in a house (real world, big brother, wife swap), they have recently focused on the expert bringing there expertise in a time limited fashion (business or self improvement shows), or finding love for the participants (the undateables, love island, first dates, married at first sight).

In the Circle the contestants live in a block of flats, isolated from each other and outside life, contestants are only able to chat and form relationships over a social media network called the circle (think a Facebook style social media facility). The drama comes from, one having the show as straight popularity contest among the contestants themselves, evaluating each other from their interactions on The Circle network, and two, enabling people to be who ever they want to be on the social media network. So we have a male who is pretending to be a female, we have a gay man pretending to be straight, we had a young female pretending to be an elderly gentlemen.

I like the element of identity creation that social network allows, and think that this element is one of the strong cards of the programme. As viewers we can see what is happening, who “real” and who is pretending to be someone else, even as viewers we can see what the “real truth” is. This is also one of the largest weaknesses of the programme, the premise that you can be who you want online. Can any person be real on a TV programme, how much are you showing yourself, and especially when you are in a edited TV programme which employs a full time editor.

I am also aware of how much I differentiate between the different social media networks. FB and Twitter usage and how I think of the relationships. I can only imagine whom usage of social media would change if I used Instagram or Snapchat. The TV programme only gives the contestants access to one type of social network, I wonder how the specific design and features of the Cicrle social network are affecting what we see.

He twist on the final is that everyone votes for popularity, then will meet on TV live before finding out who has won the £50,000 prize. In many ways this isn’t on. I would prefer if they left people without face to face meeting. I also think the introduction of a £25,000 viewers prize is also a bit annoying.

Even so I have found it addictive viewing. And I liked it. So I will be watching tonight on the live final.

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We need a New Redemption Song.

$_57I have been thinking about the crash in Glasgow yesterday. also previously, I have been thinking and working on something for easter saturday, a day traditionally of no liturgy, a day of no hope, a day dominated by the absence of light. How can the people who live in the now and not yet of faith, engage with the absence of hope? of feelings of distinct and constant blackness. I am not sure I have any sort of answer, but I have heard a song in a new way. It is a christmas songs but gets near to some of the feelings I think are appropriate, anyway it’s here.

A New Redemption Song – Over the Rhine, from the album Snow Angels. (you can hear this song by clicking on my jam to the top right of the screen.)

Lord we need a new redemption song
Lord we’ve tried
It just seems to come out wrong
Won’t you help us please
Help us just to sing along
A new redemption song

Lord we need
A new redemption day
All our worries
Keep getting in the way

Won’t you help us please
Help us find the words to pray
To bring redemption day

She’s a kick ass female soldier. Ok, can you put her in a bikini? – Feminism fail for computer games.

The new trailer for the Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain is out. #nice. the trailer features some new and old characters and is in Japanese. I was stunned, you should watch it.

I was stunned. The new female character “Quiet” jumps out a plane without a parachute. That wasn’t shocking. The way she disappears and reappears. That wasn’t shocking. The way she they men with the gun treat her and her seeming calm in the situation. That wasn’t shocking. the beautifully rendered graphics. That wasn’t shocking. The translation of the last spoken line as “But not yet, she won’t die now. Because when she does, I’ll be the one that kills her.” That wasn’t shocking.

The fact that one the biggest computer games to be released in 2015 has as it main female character a lady wearing a bikini and ripped low denier tights. Thats shocking. The character, (named quiet, backstory revealed she cannot speak), in  the gameplay videos can do everything the male characters can, except all the male characters are given body armour and sneak suits, whereas Quiet is bikini clad, oh and its one of those bikinis which ties at the front. To be positive, at least it has a female character as a main protagonist. the one of the biggest selling games in history, Grand Theft Auto (2013), introduced 3 lead characters, none of which were woman.

The problem is that within game players a casual revolution has taken place. The typical game player is not a teenage boy in a bedroom shooting people in the face, or stealing cars. It is a female aged 25-44 who’s playing candy crush or something similar on their phone. (And before you say you don’t 69% of the entire UK poplution has played a computer game within the last 6 months. Check the research here.)

Why are AAA games with multimillion dollar development budgets continuing to show woman as a sexualualised fantasy object. Why is femanisim not engaged in the world of games. the answer is two fold.

First reason is economic. The research points to woman downloading free games, teenage boys are willing shell out £50 upfront for a game, (perhaps that should read the parents of teenage boys…).  Grand Theft Auto can publish with no female leads, while generating sales of almost $2billion Yet this is a false arguement. If the majority of the game playing public (woman – 25-40) were to by a computer game, the income generated from that game would significantly out earn a game aimed at a smaller part of the market. For example, Look at the sales figures for the wii (family and arguably focused on woman) as opposed to sales of PS3 and xbox 360, (arguably focused on more serious games, teenage boys & 30 something males), over the same time period. (Clue, Wii easily outperforms the other two by about 30million units.)

The second reason is the games industry is sexist. It doesn’t value women. (Lara Croft is a case for another time). Due to liberal use of the Smurfette principle. games will never change this as long as the status quo exists. The situation where Males primarily design the majorityy of computer games. Research  with young people, has found that games designed by girls, were prefered by girls, and were perceived as being more gender neutral that games designed by boys.

So why haven’t girls designed games, because the industry tech industry is not particularly welcoming of  female developers?  I am not a game developer so I cannot say. The UK Government has appointed Lottie Dexter, Head of the Year of Code Campaign a campaign to encourage teacher to teach 5 year olds one hour of coding every week for one year. Unfortunately in this BBC Newsnight interview, she admits, she cannot code, and struggles to explain well what coding is.

That is shocking. It feeds a view of women as uniformed about tech as an area. Jen from the TV show, “The IT crowd” is the caricature which needs assassinated as it creates a nasty atmosphere for females who work within tech. 

On the receiving end are female games journalist and academics who say “This is wrong. Why are things this way?” In Particular Anita Sarkeesian, host and creator of the Feminist Frequency youtube series. In this series Anita, analyses computer games from a feminist perspective. titles such as “Damsel in Distress” “Ms.Male Character” or “Woman as Background Decoration” are intelligent, cogent, persuasive and witty feminist engagements which provoke reflection about computer games treatment of women.

For this Sarkeesian has been threatened both verbally and physically, her family have been threatened, and an appearance she made a conference resulted in bomb threats been made against her. That is shocking.

So what can be done.

First consider how the world looks through this Feminist perspective. As a white, male, from Scotland, I don’t see much racism/sexism or other isms. yet watching the videos asked me to consider how I understand and evaluate my relationship with women (as a gender), illuminating where have I been a contributor directly or indirectly to this sexism which pervades a large part of culture. As such my attitudes have changed. Now I find it shocking that they have a character who wears a bikini and ripped tights as her outfit in a game. As such I probably won’t buy that game.

Second, vote with your wallet. If you don’t like sexism don’t buy games with it in it. And write to the game designer/publisher and tell them why your not buying the game. explain to your children why this game is an issue for you.

third, Play games. As Anita points out in every one of her videos
“it is entirely possible to be critical of some aspects of a piece of media, while still finding other parts valuable or enjoyable.”

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#IndyRef Songs 8 – Simple Song by The Shins

(This is a small blog series using songs to ask questions about the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. Not intended as anything beyond lighthearted.)

Song 8 – Simple Song by The Shins


What’s the song about?
Its a love song, about the confidence which love brings to people. The chorus seems to speak of someone choosing to do something different, and the problem of going it alone inherently making the going-it-aloner tough and hard to deal with the difficulties of doing something on their own.

What questions are similar around the referendum?
Does a vote for independence, automatically make us act tough, like a stone, as the lyric says. “Loves such a delicate thing which we do, which i never knew.”

What conclusions can we draw about the independence referendum vote?
well how much of the creative, beautifulness of the artistic Yes movement will be “toughened” by the realities of independence. does the vision of a shared love where you can fear your fears and have them banished exist?

sorry not very light hearted this one. more later.


thinking about #indyref press and money

Heres two of the best articles I have read on things so far, both from the Financial Times. I found both articles interesting and challenging to my way of thinking.

The Death of the Political Interview by Ian Katz, who’s the editor of newsnight. He diagnoses why politics for people like myself, Interested but not in any party, are turned off and cynical about politics. Every time I here the words “Independence”, “Referendum” and “Debate” this is what I expect. Thankfully he signposts some suggested solutions that seem almost obvious. That would be a change that would be very welcome.
The Death of the Political Interview by Ian Katz, on

Scotland’s currency future: what economists think.
The FT ask 5 leading economists, including 2 from the University of Glasgow to consider the 4 main currency options for am independent Scotland form a purely economics point of view. (in brief some sort of monetary union gets some 10’s, but the winner across all five results is the formation of a new currency wonder about this, I think there maybe political agendas at play. but there is a ring of truth around some of the comments here.
Scotland’s Currency future: What economists think. on

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Clearspace cinema programme for this week coming.

This work I am working with Greyfriars church Lanark on their holiday club, Zefi’s Zoo. We have 125 children over the week, I am mostly dealing with the primary 6&7’s.

In the afternoons we convert the church into a family cinema. Each afternoon we will be showing a free movie. The movie is for everyone in the community, and not just those who are at the club in the morning. Bring your whole family! Doors open at 2:15pm for a 2:30pm start each day.

The movies planned for this week are:

Monday 7th – Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2
Tuesday 8th – Furry Vengeance
Wednesday 9th – The Lion King
Thursday 10th – Smurfs 2
Friday 11th – Frozen

If you are free over the week and fancy watching a film on a big screen with 100 other people drop in.



#advent2012 blog 13 – Buy a Unique Christmas present, help out @solasfestival (fixed)

With Christmas round the corner, it can be hard to work out what to buy the person in your life who has most things they want. The lovely peeps at Solas festival‘s online auction may just have a couple of things which you find are just right here –
click here for Solas Festival Online Auction. At the last Solas Festival auction i bought something unique and it turned out rather well…

Last easter time I was struggling with what to by my wife for her birthday, afterall what do you buy the lady who agreed to marry me?
(insert your own joke about sympathy cards or flowers.) Solas Festival , possibly the best small festival in scotland, decided to have a fundraising auction around the same time. After an epic bidding war, I managed to win one of the offered lots in the auction.

I bought my wife an original fiddle composition. An origianl piece of music for her.

The process of bidding was easy enough, ebay is deliberately easy to bid on, and after I won I arranged for the Composer (Ron) and my wife to have a phone conversation. (You know the sort of conversation, Hi i am a musician and i need to write a song for you, Surprise!). He asked for her favourite bands, what type of feel the tune should have. After that information had been gathered, we waited with anticipation.

One day a large envelope can through the post. It had a beautiful piece of hand written music, and a CD of what the tune, entitled “a Tune for Helen”. We are very pleased and think it is bang on brief, an original fiddle composition, reflecting my wifes influences and likes musically. and you can listen to it now.

As presents go, I think this one was a bit of a corker. Considering it wa a private comission of an artist, it was not expensive. All the money also went to help support a small but beautiful arts festival, (which is a winning situation for everyone). So what are you waiting for, who knows what you will find – click here for Solas Festival Online Auction.

day 13s moment of christmas music zen
VeggieTales: Oh Santa – Silly Song

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#advent2012 blog 12 – beams of light

todays (wednesday the 12th day of ) advent reading is this

Psalms 119:105-106
By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn backfrom living by your righteous order.

I was wodering what helps me throw a beam of light on my path. Yeah, the bible, but are there other things, what are they I wonder? so here are some random things.

– lstening to Music
– Reading the Guardian and the Financial Times one after another. (I fell like i have balacned out the extremes of both…)
– Playing with my children.
– Cycling.
– Wasing the dishes by hand.

their may be more but i am unsure what they are currently.

what are yours?

Day 12s moment of Christmas Music Zen
Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas

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#advent2012 blog 10 – generousity, truetwit and twitter

Twitter is a micro blogging site. I use it, (@sch3lp). it is simple and can be highly entertaining, although on one notable occasion I got into trouble through using twitter. Is it is an open forum. I am named on the site and take responsability for my views. If you don’t like what i say, or I overstep the mark, I can be easily identified and we can have that discussion. One of its redeeming features was demonstrated in the notable occasion above, i was able to publically apologise, when the option to apologise personally had been denied.

Twitter is technically it is simple. You search for someone you know, or know of, and you click the follow button on their profile. You follow people and they might follow you back. You have to ask to follow someone, they do not have to approve you. Unless they choose to make their profile private. At any time you can block someone from following them should you wish.

I like this way of working, you make the effort to follow someone, As the person being followed, you don’t need to approve your followers. You just know they are following you because you are saying something interesting, or they want to hear what you say. This is a good system. It is open, generous, giving validation and inquiring, encouraging people to be social. This has been questioned as I have started recieving messages, requests from a service called “trutwit” to “validate i am a real person” and not a spam twitter account.

I am uncomfortable about this for a number of reasons.

To have as your first response, when someone clicks to follow you, “well are you a real person” seems slightly rude. It is closed and seems ungenerous.
(you can follow me only after you prove you are a real person.)
The TruTwit website is seperate to twitter. I am uncomfortable with having to validate i am a real person with twitter and then with someone else before you let me follow you.
(you can follow me only after my doctor has said your a real person. But you have to go to his practice down the street.)
I don’t see the point of the service. If a spambot follows your account, you never have to interact with it, You do not need to follow back its spam. I am a youthworker, I try and ensure I am not followed by inappropriate spam for under 18’s. I choose to block the spambots.
The only point of this service if is you fail the turing test, or if you are not willing to engage with the social side of this social media tool.
(you can follow me only after my doctor has said your a real person. But you have to go to his practice down the street. OH, but don’t expect me to make the effort to look at you. I dont want followers to get in my way/take my time/ etc.)

Once you get over a certain number of followers it gets hard to keep a grip on who’s following you. (I don’t have this problem so I am imagining.) Using a service like trutwit says to me as a follower, you don’t care about me, you are not willing to take the time to look at me to the extent you cannot make work out if i am a real person. It smells of complacency, a lack of generousity of welcome & a missing spirit of inquiry.

I find that disappointing. If you ask for a trutwit validation, I am not sure I want to follow you.

Days 10s moment of Christmas music zen.
SHAKIN’ STEVENS – Merry Christmas Everyone

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