Family (4)

Your family are your first peer group.

Which is odd, as there's no such thing as a peer in a family. Everyone is defined by their place in a complex, broiling power structure, and by what they do to change or maintain that place. For someone to be your peer, you must regard each other as equals.

It's almost impossible to be friends with a family member, except by both trusting each other enough to maintain a truce. You have friends at school, and in after-school associations. You have friends at work, on internet forums, and in sporting societies. At home you have folks.

Church fellowships are more like families than clubs - but that's not surprising, as authority (not belief) is the foundation stone of religion. Which is why you can be a member of a church without even knowing it's doctrines, and if you're a dominant member, you can make the doctrines.

Political parties also are, to slightly misquote Marx, "Bands of hostile brothers". In my experience, university departments are the same, with enough nepotism, sycophancy, jealousy and back-stabbing to match any royal court.

If you want to know whether your association is a peer group or a family, look at who gets into sexual relationships with who, then why and how the relationships end.

So, if and when you grow up and leave your progenitors and siblings, you have a choice. Find a substitute family, or find something better than a family.

"Movies are so rarely great art that if we can't appreciate great trash, we've no reason to go."

- Pauline Kael

"Myth is what never was but always is."

- Joseph Campbell

"No society has been able to abolish human sadness."

- Eugene Ionesco

"Excellence makes people nervous."

- Shana Alexander

"Fundamentalists don't like the bible they've got."

- Clark Pinnock

"A little respect will take you a long way."

- Hugh Heffner

"A philosopher is a physician of the soul."

- Epicuras

"In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined."

- Thomas Szasz

"People who think in herds behave in herds."

- Christopher Hitchens

"The answers you seek will never be found at home."

- Jimmy Sommerville

Family (3)

TV + PC = PC
In the first half of the 20th century, families clustered around the radio. They bonded and spent their quality time sharing in weekly dramas, news and DJ banter.

In the second half, they did it around the TV.

Now, we've each got our own computers. We've also got netflix and tivo, which relagate TV broadcasts to a poor substitute.

With the exception of Dr Who premieres, I can't remember the last time I watched more than a few minutes of TV as it was being broadcast, or with someone else in the room.

For these premieres, I make weekly visits to a friend and we munch through nibbles watching Peter Capaldi's latest adventure...followed by whatever's on the friend's tivo box. Yes, the friend is gay too and we have zero sexual interest in each other and thus he's what gets called "family".

Tonight, I'm upstairs on my laptop, bingeing through episodes of a radio comedy series. My media player is set to playback at double tempo by default, so I can get through twice as much.

Yes, there's a work ethic for pleasure too.

My parents are downstairs. Father spends his retirement ploughing through every espionage serial we can find, plugged in through the headphones that are my early christmas present for him. In the next chair, in front of a different computer screen and through her own headphones, mother is watching 3 or 4 science documentaries in a row.

We sometimes eat together, and the conversation is usually about computers or what we've been watching on them.

"I think I went mad then."

- HP Lovecraft

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

- George Bernard Shaw

"Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem."

- John Galsworthy

"Some things have to be believed in order to be seen."

- Richard Seymour

"There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept."

- Ansel Adams

"Pop music today is something people hear while doing something or going somewhere more interesting."

- Mark Simpson

"You never see a sign saying 'Please don't spit on the ceiling'"

- David Scholer

"Contempt breeds arrogance."

- Ray Jasper

"Efficiency is intelligent laziness."

- David Dunham

"Where equality is undisputed, so also is subordination."

- George Bernard Shaw