Aerial Landscapes

Went for a ride to get a couple of shots out over Brighton. Had to go for ages to get far enough away from the road. I don’t love these but I suck at landscapes.

Demographic Representation in Media

Tabitha playing with the LEGO Research Institute set she’s finally old enough to build!

Preamble: I’ve had variations on a tweet in draft for about a year, but I haven’t pulled the trigger because I can’t be bothered with the inevitable outcome of it. I’m so tired of butthurt, snowflake conservatives and their entitlement complex when it comes to oppressing people that I don’t even bother expressing these things I feel now.

Anita Sarkeesian may not be credited with starting a movement but she certainly lit a fire under one, on a personal level for me, but also media as a whole. I know this because, before her videos, I didn’t consider that other people would feel under-represented by films, games, books, whatever because - as a straight, white male - I do pretty well as far as representation goes.

Since her videos, I’ve grown increasingly weary of homogeneity in books, TV, games, movies. The timing has been perfect for me. Around the time her videos were coming out, Tabitha was being born, or thinking about it at least.

I’ll be honest (because no-one’s reading), but when I first saw Anita’s videos, my reaction was “Does this matter? It’s just games”. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that it does matter, but not everyone has reached the same conclusion as me. Fortunately, I’m able to experience a pure version of this sort of thing on a reasonably regular basis and I’m here, armed with anecdotal evidence (the best kind of evidence), to tell you, non-believer, that it does matter.

I know that it matters because I’ve seen my daughter rummage through a huge box of LEGO, searching for the lady minifigs. I’ve seen her get excited about strong women in films (thank you, Disney, for Moana). And I’ve seen her play games that perpetuate the princess/damsel trope and break my heart a little.

By-the-by, I try to get involved in these games to make them about the princess saving herself or something a little more constructive. I don’t know where these games came from, but they’re here.

My point is that whilst Tabitha is starting to be affected by the world outside what we show her, she still has a strong instinct to seek role models with whom she can identify. Obviously, people can identify with anyone, but I’ve seen that she is very likely to identify with a character that represents her in some way. Whether it’s the paper bag princess outsmarting a dragon and rescuing a useless, loathsome prince, or Moana braving the sea to undo the damage done by man, or Mabel being herself and wearing a crazy jumper and winding her brother up: representation appeals to people, almost by definition. It’s possible that if you reject the need for variety in representation in media, that you do so because that homogeneity serves you, and it could be beneficial for many people if you thought a little more broadly.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, and a female Doctor Who could be the first sign of the apocalypse and we’re all doomed. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Beijing Phone Spam

This is actually a reasonable diary of how Beijing went. How fortunate.

More Beijing Wandering

One thing that strikes me about Beijing is that people will just stop for a nap pretty much anywhere. A habit I hope to take back to England.

We cycled to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. I haven't done a lot of cycling since I got here - it's very different to England. You have to be constantly aware of everything that's going on around you. Pedestrians and cars come from anywhere. If you need to turn left, the safest thing to do is use pedestrian crossings. It's essentially the opposite of England in most cases - cars wait for cyclists and pedestrians instead of trying to plough through them. I feel a lot safer when using the road here, but crossings here do mildly resemble chaos. Somehow it all works well.

These kids were so cute in their matching dresses. I showed a couple of people this picture, and the response was a shrug and "Beijing". Apparently this place is a constant overload of cuteness.

The Great Wall of China

When you go on a hike in an unfamiliar place, you should follow the instructions of the people leading said hike. Today I did a brutally difficult (for me) Beijing Hikers 6km over The Great Wall of China at Huanghuacheng, which was made more difficult by the fact that I was woefully unprepared. I brought the wrong shoes, shorts instead of trousers, I forgot to wear long sleeves, and I only brought one bottle of water. For a 4 hour hike. So, now my ankles hurt and my arms and legs are scratched to hell.

Straight out of the gate, it was obvious that this was going to be a rough hike. I was already winded by the time we reached the base of the wall, and things didn't get easier from there. I've played games that feature the wall, and seen it in films, but images do nothing to convey just how steep and difficult it is to pass through. Nevertheless, allow me to show you a few images where I attempt to convey just how steep the wall can be:

These images are probably going to be samey, but I've tried to reduce that as much as possible. The views from the towers on the wall are spectacular, and I could make excuses to post all of them (27) but I haven't.

I mean look at these climbs.

I'm not 100% happy with this photo - the branches behind this guy are more in focus than he is, but I love his big smile so in it goes!

I knew that lunch was going to be included in the price of the hike, but I didn't realise it was going to be this incredible spread. This is probably obvious to everyone else, but Chinese food is way better in China than it is in England. That's right; I'm that guy now.

Some of the wall is - no overstatement - terrifying. I walk a lot, but I'm not really a hiker. There were incredibly narrow sections, and way more areas where you could have quite easily fallen to your death than I'm used to. I normally experience between 0 and 1 areas where I could fall to my death.