Origin Stories

Published June 18, 2017, 6:13 p.m.

You see this street?

It’s in London. It used to be called Globe Lane. And it’s a very significant street to my family. Because it was on this street, in 1838, that my great great great great grandfather murdered someone.

Yes, old Robert Emmett. Murderer. We don’t know where he was born exactly (he was an orphan, you see) but we know precisely when and where he took his first life. Well, actually, I suppose we can never be sure it was his first. But it was the first one we know of.

You can read the transcript from his trial online here, but if you want a more modern interpretation with less testimonies from carpenters and chimney sweeps, read on!

On the 5th October, 1833, ancestor Emmett and his friends were on Globe Lane. Another group of older kids walked past, and Ronald proclaimed, loud enough for them to hear, “He is a gone off!” Now, “gone off” must have been the height of offensive insults back in 1833, because one of the older boys turned around, marched right up to Emmett, and punched him in the head. Emmett fell to the ground, and the older boy kicked him in the thigh “with violence”.

If you thought “gone off” was offensive check this out: Emmett then calls the older boy a “twopenny halfpenny thief.” I like that. It sounds like something from a Dickens novel. Incidentally, Dickens was writing around the time this happened. My ancestor could’ve been reading Dickens novels as they were being released!

“I somehow doubt this guy was reading Dickens,” said my girlfriend, a little condescendingly.

But anyway, satisfied with the beating he had given Emmett, the “gone off” boy returns to his friends. That’s when my ancestor shouts out, “If you come back here, I’ll stab you.” Which, I don’t know, seems like kind of a bold claim for someone who just had the shit kicked out of him. Those sorts of threats are normally reserved for the winner. That’s like saying to a bouncer, after he’s thrown you out and beaten you to a bloody pulp, “If I ever see you in front of this nightclub again, you’ll regret it.”

But this older boy turned back around, and got ready to thump Emmett back into his place. And that’s when Emmett stabbed him. Right in the heart. You see, I come from a long line of honorable people. When we make a vow, we stick by it. Men of our words.

And so, at the age of 15, he was tried for murder, which at that time carried a death penalty. But luckily (and I’m not making this up) the head chimney sweep gave him a good character reference. Instead he was sentenced to 14 years in Australia. Pretty good deal to me.

My brother is currently living in England and was tasked with tracking the street down. He also wanted to know what the victim’s name was, in case he ran into any of his descendents and felt honour bound to carry on the feud.

“He probably hasn’t got any,” stated my Grandma. “That family line was probably wiped out.”

My Medium is Timetables

Published June 4, 2017, 7:54 p.m.

The machines are coming to take all our jobs. Customer Phone Support? Doomed. Artificial Intelligence has evolved to a point where machines can nearly give us the same level of shitty service as humans. Experts predict that in just a few years they will be able to provide an even shittier service, completely making human support roles redundant.

Taxi drivers? Doomed. Experts predict self driving cars will replace them within the next 20 years. Burger flippers? Experts predict that in the next 15 years machines will be able to get your order just as wrong as humans can, but at a far cheaper price.

Not even the experts who predict how long it will take for machines to replace humans are safe, with experts predicting that in the next 8 years machines will be able to make more accurate predictions on when they will replace humans.

The one sector that seems to be safe (for now) is the creative sector. Machines are terrible artists. Have you seen that Microsoft Print Test Page peice? Rubbish.

It’s interesting that, in Melbourne at least, train drivers have yet to be replaced by machines. Their job isn’t very complicated. As far as I can tell it consists of 4 things.
Moving forward.
Opening doors.
Leaving the platform just as you run onto it, dashing that false sense of hope you had built up that you wouldn’t have to wait 15 minutes for the next one.

A machine could do these tasks, easily. My friend was supposed to get off at Camberwell station once, but couldn’t because the driver didn’t stop. He was supposed to stop there, but he didn’t. “Machine’s would not make this mistake,” he said.

As for me, I don’t think it was a mistake. I think this train driver knew that his profession was in danger, and was trying to futureproof it from machines by inserting some creativity. He didn’t forget to stop at the station, he was expressing himself artistically as he sailed right on past the station.

A machine might be able to perform most tasks better than humans can, but unlike us they will never be able to make a statement when they fuck things up.

Here's A Tip

Published April 8, 2016, 8:33 p.m.

My brother and I had finished eating a delicious meal when the bill arrived.

“Are we going to leave a tip?” He asked.

I scoffed. “This isn’t America, we don’t need to do that here.”

“Yeah, but the service was pretty good,” he countered.

“She asked us what we wanted, and then brought it to us. That’s not ‘good’ service, that’s the bare minimum. Anything less and we would still be hungry. Unless we need to start rewarding people for not spitting in our faces or being casually racist.”

“I don’t know, I feel bad not tipping,” he said.

“We’re not tipping. And you shouldn’t feel bad,” I replied as I added my cash and closed the leather bound booklet thing that bills come in these days. “It’s not necessary.”

So we left. We descended a couple of flights of stairs to street level, and walked a good 400 meters, when we could hear frantic running footsteps behind us. Then someone darted in front of us. It was the waitress from the restaurant!

“Excuse me,” she said, holding something up to my brother. “You forgot your hat.”

“Oh, thanks,” he said, stunned at this admittedly exceptional display of service. He retrieved his hat, knowing full well he had left nothing to help ease whatever financial burdens she might be experiencing, and with that she headed back to the restaurant.

I looked at him. “Now you should feel bad about yourself.”

The Time x Minutes Ago Was


Q. A friend messages you, saying, "We're having a BBQ, come round. Bring whatever." Based on the language of the message, would you expect the sausages to be provided?