Published on March 26 2012

Afraid I'm short on time with this post, with my fingers and brain's attention drawn to academia. Luckily I had this idea for a post locked away like fine cutlery at a Mexican Carwash.


I felt my original post on Game of Thrones didn't quite hit. Not the intellectual subject matter or the sociological findings, those were classically brilliant. But my joke to grab you the reader's attention I think didn't quite resonate. By that I'm referring to:


Winter is Coming


GOT Colder-copy-1


Though some seem to have really taken to it, I find the marketing tagline attatched to HBO's hit fantasy series to be a bit underwhelming. It sounds epic in one regard, but so mundane in another. Oh, it's going to be Winter again, same as last year...I've never understood how weather is constantly a new thing to us, let alone good subject for promotion. I think this somes up my feelings for such an unoriginal marketing line...



In mocking it I had loads of other takes on the line, but in the end went with the most simple. So, for your amusement, here's how else you can express this most wondrous of phrases:
























Feel free to come up with some of your own and post them in the comments.


Remember to wrap up warm now you...

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Written by The Urban Shepherd

Published on #Entertainment

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Published on March 23 2012


Though pleased with the warm reception to my particularly verbose first post, I was a little taken back by an instance of trolldom that accompanied it.


A mate on facebook got the frapes, and his frapist commented on my blog post with the usual 'same bro' rhetoric. I've had this done to me before, yet I always confuse it for genuine interest, as a troll would hope. Notice that it always happens when someone commits honest effort into something creative or sincere, and that's my main problem with trolls.


Just yesterday, when Team Four Star released their long overdue new episode 28, my compy was having trouble playing it, so I looked around YouTube to see if some desperate person had already mirrored it. However the desperation was on another level; all I could find were fake videos, normally with a still image and nonsensical background music.


I remember when people first started making these for Little Kuriboh's videos, but this was the first time I just sat down and watched one. Whilst I can't say real effort goes into them, I'm struck at the sheer wasted amount of time just to grab a few thousand YouTube hits.


Call me mad bro but I for one am sick of the acceptance and toleration we give these people who aren't just incapable of contributing, but contribute negativity.


And rather than write a shitty letter to an even worse news paper, I thought I'd blog it. Bitches.


I'm no stranger to trolls: I lived with one. Last year was a constant onslaught of shit jokes and insults, pre-packaged to avoid actual impact. And it's not just that, as a stand up, I abhor canned humour, and if you're reading this mate I bear no ill will (after all most of the time the joke was on you), but the troll seems to know little else but what he does, and I'm just trying to figure out why.




I'd love a psychologist to examine a troll, to get behind the reliance on outdated references and catchphrases said at such verbatim that you wonder if he has a pull string at the back. Or the front. :)


There's no doubt some serious shit going on in the back-story for some trolls. Take Shock of God, an internet religious nut who posted some logically incoherent question to all non-believers, then, instead of responding rationally, posted their videos context-free so he could claim some shallow victory over them. As he censors comments and produces the same drivel constantly, his YouTube hits hardly ever rise above 10, what was he trying to accomplish? Was he deep down insecure about his faith, and felt drawing miniscule attention and rage helped soothe the wound?


It's likely a de-individuation thing. There's the infamous Penny Arcade cartoon explaining the mathematics of the troll, and I think they're right on the money. You have a total sense of anonymity, coupled with a large community who not only share your facelessness, but who also brand themselves with it, and  you have your website as your dominant authority figure.


Maybe it's a cult thing. Maybe if I went into my old house mate's room and looked at his bare ass (would probably have to explain myself first...) I'd find the troll/cool face tattooed on one cheek. Suddenly I'd find myself surrounded by robed figures, who, for uncovering their thousand year order, would now decide my fate, which could potentially be worse than death.


I hate to pull the classic 'I don't hate you I pity you' card, but I could pull it out of Penn Jilette's ass. When an entire sect defines themselves as copypasta chefs, or keeps a golden folder full of faces to suit the mood, I can only use the word tool. Hell, add and subtract some letters and you're not far off.


I'm gonna play reverse psychologist and bait trolls who read this to respond with 'problem?' or 'you mad bro?'. Do so, and accept your lack of originality as the internet's rent boy. Don't, and prove that you're an actual human being.





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Written by The Urban Shepherd

Published on #Sociology

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Published on March 20 2012



Keeping things light, my first post will touch the subtle farce that is normailty within modernity, and how societal changes are a thing of the past, and future.


I wish I could say that this subject was inspired by my lecture on 'Identity in Media Ethics' given by Dr. Sophia Wood, who cited the works of sociologists Zyugmant Bauman, Jean-Francois Bayart and Peter Beilharz in her view that as humanity has floated further down the stream of liquid modernity since the Nazis used propaganda to fuel 'allosemitism', the media has been ever so diligent in alerting us to the current 'other' in our society, whether it be Muslims after 9/11 and 7/7 or British white trash after the England riots. But it wasn't.


I wish I could say that it was brought about by the story of Amina al-Filali, the Moroccan girl who committed suicide after a Tigerian judge forced her to marry her rapist...that the unwelcoming of one's sexual assaulter as a forced husband is not only a practice of rural times, it's one sanctioned by the bible, a passage loved by many of the New Atheists. But it wasn't.


It actually came from watching the first season of Game of Thrones.


I love the acclaimed HBO fantasy drama. I love it not for its superb acting, stellar writing, unique marketing and incredible direction (though the colourful adjectives suggest that I do), but for how many conflicts stem from disparate cultures and dynasties being forced to mingle and tolerate each other's customs, rather than just the basic need to place one's ass on the Iron Throne.


Despite it's overplayed tagline as 'the grown up Lord of The Rings' (I prefer 'Tolkein with boobs'), the original books by George R. R. Martin took their setting straight out of Norse history. A step forward and a step back, then and in GoT, women are either sold, betrothed or treated like whores. Or they were just whores, with a very lucrative industry behind them too.


The rampant criticism of the series' overt (and frankly unsexy) sex scenes intrigues me, but how the characters themselves develop this kind of culture shock towards each other does so even more. I'll avoid spoilers as much as possible, though I will say Dany Targaryen's plight of not only being forced to marry her Dothrakian rapist but actually falling in love with him leaves uncomfortable comparisons with the Morrocan case that I nor you want to make. 


GOT Dany


It really does really highlight the futility of our modern day identity politics and socio-economic plights though. Before watching GoT, I wondered whether, being an I-pad owner to be, I was going to be considered cool or elitist. Now I'm deciding if in the seven kingdoms being a bastard or dwarf is part of a hipster fad.


I think the reason GoT has struck such a chord with me and the rest of its audience is because we as a country, ney, a western world, are terrified of multiculturalism. And by that I don't mean foreign food making us thank Mcdonalds for being a global name, I mean in the evolution of civilization, of our culture versus those long gone.


So obsessed are we with the broken parts of our society, the abnormal and the obscene, that we lose sight of just how everything has changed in the last few thousand years, and how its likely to change even more. The icky parts of the houses of GoT, i.e. incest, arranged marriages and breast feeding ten year olds don't exactly go down like good ale in the series itself, but the level of tolerance they are given has made them the most talked about aspects.


What I see is a loss of perspective. It's astounding how difficuilt it is to grasp just how used we are to the world and customs we grow up in. How can we, in our age of brands, convinience and ease, even fathom a man executed minutes after his sentence is laid down? Do we forget that men not only used to die in front of crowds of thousands, they did so for entertainment?


I'll be the first to thank secular morality for raising the value of human life, and I only use these examples to pry at all those who criticize ideologies they know nothing of, whether it be David Cameron and his tired and nonsensical 'Broken Britain' rhetoric, or the EDL masking their racism by ascribing an identity of lost nationalism. My gear to grind is that whilst we can judge certain customs and behaviours in GoT as right or wrong through modern day ethical practices, the uncomfortable feeling we get watching a boy uncomfortably watching a man beheaded stems only from the niggling question of whether this can be considered 'normal'.


We as humans are constantly divided into sub-categories, based on our ethnicity, behaviour and beliefs. Whilst I uphold the free liberties and rights of all human beings, and would cite them as a just cause for change, I don't agree with singling out those we classify in what anthropologists have reffered to as a 're-invention of difference'.


Things weren't always the way they are, and they won't always be. Deal with it.

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Written by The Urban Shepherd

Published on #Sociology

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