Saturday, April 14, 2018

Using a corkscrew to eject the sim from my phone 2

Despite them being incredibly pleasurable, you'd have to be a wack-job to purchase a head massage. The social situation is too bizarre. Paying a random to stroke your skull; you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.

Over the course of my life I've committed numerous vapes, I've also punched out my fair share of durries. In this sense, I am speaking from a place of knowledge and authority when I say that vaping is better than durrying in every way. Every way. Cheaper, healthier, you can rip them indoors at house parties, visually appealing, pleasant scent, smoke billows everywhere, annoying futuristic aesthetic.

This is Sugar's the new durries final blog post. 

I was in a bit of a hurry on my way to work Monday, and I pulled my phone out of my pocket loosely, dropping it hard on the pavement. The screen wouldn't turn on. It was done. I wasn't overly disappointed to be fair - the screen was already cracked, it was slowing up and I have my work phone to contact people with. I'll sort out a new headset this weekend.

I worked Monday and taxied to the airport at about 4pm to board the 5:30 flight to Perth. I landed in Perth after a 4 hour trip at 6:30pm local time.

I had a ridiculous schedule on my hands, I was staying in rural WA, 2 hours south of Perth in a town called Bunbury (?). I asked the lady at the airport car rental place whether she knew where Bunbury was, she stared at me blankly and said yes. I asked her if the car had a GPS, she told me it had.

By the time I had the key to my flash as Holden off the Budget car rental people it was getting dark; it was 7:30pm Perth time now and I had to make my way out of the city. Thankfully Australia is 30% richer than New Zealand and consequently has an unbelievable infrastructure network, it was motorways straight out of town.

Following an uneventful stop for fast food, I rolled into "Bunbury" circa 10pm, 1am Melbourne time; it'd been a long day. I was surprised to find that despite never having heard of it personally, Bunburry was sizeable; not dissimilar in scale to Palmerston North. It made me reflect on my encounter with the lady that I rented the car off - asking if she knew where Bunbury was. It's the equivalent of landing late in the day in Auckland in a dishevelled state and asking the staff if they've ever heard of Hamilton.

I'm nothing if not durable, but I was shattered by the time I'd talked my way into the hotel carpark and tracked my room down. I had a shower and set my alarm clock for 6:30, I had an early start. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I'm shocked awake by an alarm. Man it's loud. I pick up my phone - nope that's not buzzing. It does confirm that it's 3am though! My mind's a blur. Where's that noise coming from?

My sense of sound tracks it to my overnight bag. It's the phone that I'd written off as dead 23 hours earlier! The screen's still dead, but it's alarm is miraculously alive! How do I stop it?

I push the home button. The noise vanishes. I fall asleep peacefully once more.

The 3:03 alarm hits!

I'd dropped the bloody phone next to my bed, so finding it wasn't the struggle it had been three minutes earlier, but I was beginning to worry that I was merely snoozing the alarm rather than stopping it.

Sure enough, 3:06 arrives and the phone's alight once more. It's so loud. I have to put an end to this snooze cycle. I realise that it's 6am Melbourne time, and that this was simply my daily alarm - my former phone's remaining feature. What was I going to do?

I rationalised that I'd already mentally depreciated the phone to nil, so why not completely destroy it? There appeared no other way to stop this chaos - but how?

I walked over to the kitchenette and began walloping it with a large sturdy kitchen knife and then doused it with the tap... Surely?

Nope. 3:09. I push the home button again.

I'm red in the face and have 3 minutes until the next explosion.

I walk into the bathroom, find a plug and begin running the sink. It can't plausibly withstand a full submersion.

I clasp the phone in my palm and hold the headset beneath the water for a good minute. I feel like I'm drowning kittens. It was an intelligent entity that I'd spent the past year relying on and protecting - I was now wilfully asphyxiating it. It was hard to bring myself to do, but I'd done it. Please God...

3:12!

Unbelievable! I thought I was durable - my phone was harder to kill than Rob Hewitt.

Then a thought washed over me like the swell off Mana Island; take the sim out! Deprogram the Samsung. Trawling through the kitchenette once more, I realised that my time in Australia had come full circle.

For the second time in six months, I was topless in a strange multi-unit dwelling unsuccessfully attempting to eject the sim from my phone with a corkscrew. It's a motherfucking sequel.

With my phone finally subdued, I walk back to my suitcase, extract my vaporiser and wander out onto the creepy hotel balcony. There is no point in attempting another sleep. I'd woken half a hotel and now I was smoking robot durries at 3am. At least I hadn't bought a head massage. The flavour that I'm slowly ingesting is called Pudding. It's as stodgy as it sounds. 

As I released vaporised pudding steam into the atmosphere orally,  I thought about the sequel. I realised that durries were verging on obsolete. Vaping is completely dope and it's netflixing the shit out of Marlboro's blockbuster. Not only had my tales of pain, violence and struggle come to an organic conclusion,  the blog's title no longer makes sense in today's world. Did it ever make sense?  It's time for a hiatus. 

Thanks for reading Sugar's the new durries, I'm really proud of it. We started and finished from the bottom now we're here. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Married at First Sight is decadent and depraved

With episodic television and film largely distributed by on demand streaming services, live television is increasingly reliant on sports, news, and importantly, reality TV in it's quest to remain viable. As a Reality TV pundit, this has been a lucky break personally, providing me with significant inspiration over the years.

I must note that I have been impressed by the Reality TV offering Australia has served up since my arrival here. She wasn't Art "Kakariki" Green, but Sophie Monk was an admirable Bachelorette, and the I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here commercials featuring a petrified Shane Warne in a tub of spiders were as good as they sound.

There is one show in particular however that is blowing it's competitors out of the park in the key fields of; wildly implausible premise, and scope for bombastic character development, and that's Married at First Sight. MAFS.


This is a country that didn't allow LGBTQSMFSBDLXJ Marriage until a few months ago for fear that it would undermine the wildly hyped concept of Traditional Marriage. To then turn around and run a popular show on a national network in which many participants are openly engaging in a full blown wedding ceremony with a complete random in a bid to enhance their social media profile strikes me as slightly hypocritical.

This is the concept of the show. Three relationship psychologists purport to "scientifically" match people based on personality type. Those people then marry blindly in front of their respective friends and families, promising then and there to be "partners in crime" in their self-authored vows.

For me, the pompous relationship psychologists are the most unbearable aspect of the show. Of the 33 couples that they've brought together since 2014, only 3 criminal partnerships remain. Since 2014, 3. The show has either;
  1. Hired the worst relationship psychologists on earth;
  2. The field of study is an astrology-style fake profession, or;
  3. The psychologists are a facade - a flimsy justification to enable the show to occur because you can't just lottery marry headcases for ratings without enraging conservatives.
There is some truth in all of these scenarios, however the most plausible is clearly the third and final. If I was as unbelievably bad at my job as these psychologists are statistically, I would not proffer completely obvious advice to clients in a pious tone so as to pretend I knew what I was talking about. The proof is in the pudding. Scott Aitchison has a better record than these guys and he's not even trying.

"It's really important that these couples enjoy each others company"

They have proper weddings; elaborate dresses, bridesmaids, massive cakes, weird relatives, shit speeches, everything. Then they get a honeymoon.

The honeymoons are to whatever tourist destination wants to product place their wares to millions of lower middle class Australians. There's eleven couples doing this, which is a lot of product to place, and some of the couples get sweet holidays out of it; Singapore, Queenstown, Samoa. Having said that, my favourite character - Troy - went to Broome in deep Western Australia, and had to pretend to be happy about it because you can't humiliate a town full of pill-head miners.

By the time they're home, a large proportion of the relationships are breaking down because the two people married realise that they don't really like each other. The cruelty of this scenario is compounded by being contractually obliged to attend a large dinner party with all of the other couples (22 people) where the topic of conversation can only be the one thing they all have in common; their wack job relationships.

Plied with alcohol, the couples begin opening up about their struggles, flirting, fighting, all the while being watched on Orwellian screens by the relationship psychologists, who commentate the party for millions of Aussies.

"It's important for the couples to express respect for their partner in verbal conversation"

The characters are also subjected to a weekly commitment ceremony where the alleged psychologists probe the couples for fractures in their relationships before forcing them to independently decide whether to divorce or remain married in a traumatic game theory style experiment. All of the other couples are in the room watching the fiasco unfold. It's not just the contestants tears, it's the reaction of their peers, that they're milking for ratings. This is emotional pornography at its most crass.

The first time the show aired, there were three couples, all of whom were subjected to significant (at least notionally) pre-relationship screening. The alleged psychologists animatedly discussed the potential partnerships, purporting to care about them. The three couples lived together for weeks, and were subject to only one wedding and a final commitment ceremony. Stylistically, it appeared closer to a documentary series exploring the topic of unlucky singles searching for personal happiness through requited love.

Now that the producers have wedged the door open, sliding the concept past the marriage purists, they've managed to slowly, incrementally, ramp up the insanity to the point that it has turned into an unabashed, full-blown reality TV spectacular. They're belittling the institution of marriage in the same way that the Chinese Communist Party is assuming political control of Hong Kong and Taiwan -  in slow motion so that nobody notices.

We have a fulsome lass on there with 260,000 instagram followers (and no obvious profession other than attempting to be famous) humiliating this tradie lad that just wants a middy. There's botox and silicon everywhere. Troy brushes his teeth like this;


It's horrific / compelling viewing.

We can't be that far from I'm a Celebrity Get Me Married at First Sight. Shane Warne stands at the altar preparing to blind marry Rebecca Cartwright, with Tubby Taylor and his son Jackson Warne in his grooms party.

Rebecca Cartwright emerges from the limo slowly, looking apprehensive yet fabulous. Shane Warne high fives his son. Tubby Taylor's in stitches.

The camera pans to a seated Lleyton Hewitt. He has steam coming out his ears. His children appear puzzled.

We cut again to the relationship psychologists; "it's important that Shane's first impression on Rebecca Cartwright's family is a positive one, as Rebecca's mother is a strong influence in her life".


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Coffee and TV

I like coffee in the same way I like wine. I appreciate its properties as a drug, but I’m completely ambivalent to its taste. As such, I drink a lot of powdery instant coffee, it’s what I’m about. I’m against this recent trend towards homemade artisanal coffee, where every motherfucker has an elaborate coffee maker in their pantry. It’s socially awkward. You roll into someone’s pad and they offer you a coffee. Sure, you say - as much to be polite as anything.

Next thing you know, they’re hand grinding coffee beans with a pestle and mortar, firing up a large unwieldly electronic contraption, and spilling milk all over the place. It takes them 20 minutes to make you a coffee. When they finally present their 200ml’s of liquid to you; you’re socially obliged to spend the next 5 minutes admiring the quality of their homemade coffee. If they’re on the average New Zealand salary, they’ve blown about $15 worth of their time making it, closer to $20 if you include the ingredients and depreciation on the electronic contraptions they’ve used. That’s two Maccas combos.

I don’t even know anything about coffee, so it’s impossible to convey how much I’m pretending to enjoy it. You know when someone asks you whether you like a piece of art, and you don’t know enough about art broadly to conjure up a plausible response. It tastes different, but not better or worse than Nescafe. What other field of person to person hospitality is the host expected to manufacture a product for you from the base ingredients? You head round to someone’s place for a barbeque; they’re out the back, dripping in blood, slaughtering cows.

You just want to have a normal yarn and you’re wracking your brain for an apt description of coffee quality. You only had half an hour and now you need to take off in 5 minutes, so you just thank them for the coffee and leave.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Blue Sky Thinking

Since being onboarded, I’ve been cognisant of my capacity for blue sky thinking. Am I a thought leader? Can I action my learnings? Will I be able to leverage synergies at this juncture? And going forward, can we emerge from our respective silos, circle back, and collaborate in a bid for that low hanging fruit. Run those work ons up the flagpole.

I’m writing this gobbledegook in a cafe in which the staff are openly ambivalent to my custom. It’s that trendy. I am personally unfit for my surroundings; my chunky mid-2000s Toshiba laptop and conventionally shaped earlobes are out of step with the remainder of the cafe set. I actually really enjoy the reverse psychology style of customer service that the staff are employing though. It’s a good change up from the more conventional - weirdly enthusiastic general banter - methodology employed by most salesmen. 

I've always lived by the maxim that the only things that you can be certain of in this world are; death, taxes, and if you go live on facebook, you’re a douchebag. I’m now starting to think there’s another truism to add to this list. 

If you use the word banter in general conversation, you have shit banter.  

I’ve become a really big fan of the Chow brothers in recent weeks, John and Michael. The children of immigrants, they have developed a clear but detached understanding of the New Zealand psyche, and have used this to become hugely wealthy. 

The Chow’s train of logic is completely transparent. Humans generally make ridiculous spending decisions when pissed. New Zealanders specifically have a noted penchant for long uninterrupted piss marathons. Let’s manipulate this inefficiency for financial gain. 

Humans eat greasy protein heavy stodge at 3am when they’re steamed. Sell it to them. Men become insatiably horny and lose the ability to be nuanced in their pursuit of sexual gratification. Pay hot chicks to take their clothes off and parade for them.

It’s a very straightforward approach, and you have to admire their bravery and chutzpah in pursuing it so relentlessly.

In recent times, they have bought the failing Stonewood Homes, thereby diversifying their portfolio away from unbelievably pissed heterosexual men, and towards New Zealand’s nigh on ridiculous over-exposure to residential property investment. You thought it was easy to fleece these people when they’re drunk? Check out what they’ll pay for a house sober!

Banter.

I’ve now been sitting in this cafe for a good hour. I’m sure the staff are talking about me behind my back. Old normal ears Toshiba no mates won’t leave. Before I do, a note on the election – they may hold the balance of power, but that was a surprisingly bad performance from NZ First. With mindless nationalistic populism on the rise globally, a month ago people were suggesting NZ First would ride this to 15% and two electorates. They’ve finished under 8% with no electorates. I’m quite proud that our scrappy little country hasn’t fallen for that nonsense. That’s something to drink to.




Shout out to the Tobacco lobbyists. They've had a bad year with the ousting of Todd "Little Tobacco" Barclay*, but Chris "the" Bishop's win in Hutt South was hard earned and well deserved.


* In an incident eerily reminiscent of my altercation with Duncan Garner, I've actually been involved in a late night verbal stoush with Little Tobacco on the streets of Queenstown. Amidst the melee, he told me that he earned more than me, which I thought was an interesting insight into his personal values.



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Using a corkscrew to eject the sim from my phone

I have recently moved to Melbourne to explore my passion for structuring project finance transactions. It's an exciting yet admin heavy period. With this in mind, I will soon be closing a proverbial chapter on my life and disbanding the writing team for Sugar's the new durries. I wish them all well. A farewell blog will be published in coming weeks. This earth shattering announcement has not been one that my team and I have made lightly, but it is essential in maintaining the structural integrity of my low / no rent writing career.

When I change countries, I undertake a hiatus and then rebrand. And what.

So I'm holed up on the 14th floor of this transient quasi-hotel apartment complex in central Melbourne. I'm here with work for a month. I have one key. It's a ticking clock situation where I'm on the street if I don't find accommodation in the next 3 weeks, so that particular search is consuming a fair portion of my mental energy at present. Context.

Anyway, I was out all morning around Richmond viewing weird little apartments that I might want to reside in. While there, I had a bit of time, so I walked into a barber shop and came away with a fresh 2/3 fade that Justin Bieber would be proud of. 

I was a tad weary upon returning home, but I only had a few hours until the All Blacks match kicked off so I began doing chores. Washing and cleaning and other mundane acts that I hope to outsource to robots or Filipinos in the reasonably near future. That's a hostile sentence.

I had to throw out all of the non-recyclable rubbish that I'd accrued being a Westerner for three or four days or whatever. Thankfully the rubbish zone is directly across the hall from my room. It's these sort of conveniences that I love about living in apartments, you barely have to do rubbish, you just lob your excess matter down a chute. Make it someone else's problem.

In the act of lobbing my filth down a hole, I heard my apartment door slam shut behind me. My heart sank. I reached for my pocket. Pocket knife, no keys. I reached for the door and began jiggling the handle. I'd locked myself out.

Throughout my half-arsed cleaning rampage, I had been partially dressed - topless. I was rocking; black business socks, khaki slacks no belt, topless, fresh lid, my face. I had a pocket knife on me in case I needed to open a bottle of wine in the 80s. 

It was 4pm Saturday in the serviced apartment scene and it was busy. People literally saw this occur. The panic on my face must have been palpable. I instantly knew that this was bad. There was no point in prolonging my misery though, I had to get to the reception. I was going to have to explain myself sooner or later.

And surely the Eastern European that manned the office had a spare key?

On queue the lift opened with 5 people of varying ages and races looking at me. Adopting a blank stare, I joined them in the enclosed box as though nothing was amiss. People were getting on and off at various floors, each time I was being met with double takes. The sloppy rig / business socks combo was blowing minds.

Of course the reception man had no key. He did find my predicament humorous though. As an Eastern European, he also had a mate sitting in his office with him, chatting. This incident had clearly brightened up their day significantly. They brought me inside. No steroid free 30 year old man should ever be topless in the foyer of a serviced apartment.

The only advice the Euros could proffer was to call a locksmith. It would cost me 200 bucks at least they said and given the time, they were hopeful but not certain he was available. I was thinking the worst. Locked out all night? And tomorrow was Sunday. Was there anybody in the Melbourne locksmith community that worked Sunday?

I couldn't get in touch with the owners of the Air BnB as their number was on the key.

As I write this, I am still very thankful that the locksmith answered his phone. He would be with me in 45 minutes. The Eastern Europeans sent me back up to the 14th floor to sit outside my door, exploring the pocket knife and my existential dread.

Occasionally someone would scuttle past cautiously, unable to piece together the logic for my behaviour. If I was skinnier and my haircut wasn't fresh to death, the glass barbecue would be the only plausible explanation. It's already been established that no steroid free 30 year old  man should ever be topless in the foyer of a serviced apartment, but nor should he be sitting on the floor of a shared corridor of a serviced apartment. 

It's a less prominent but much scarier state of affairs for the unfortunate individuals that come across the topless man. Being one on one in a narrow room with a stranger that's eschewing all social norms is fucking frightening. Let's not beat around the bush here, people were running from me.

It was also the first media free hour I'd undertaken since 1996 which was weird.

Man the locksmith was a long time coming...

The reason I had this Swiss army knife in my pocket was because I was attempting to use the corkscrew to eject the sim from my phone. You're having a laugh if you think I still possess that slender metallic key thing.

I had expected the locksmith to use some principles of metal craftsmanship to spring open my door. That wasn't the case. All he did was pull out the biggest key ring I've ever seen, with thousands, probably tens of thousands, of keys attached. It appeared comical and I would have laughed openly had my personal circumstances been slightly different. Is that honestly what a locksmith is though? Somebody that owns the key to every lock? If so, it's not a skill. He spent 5 minutes in the corridor trawling through keys until he found the right one. He told me he was busting for a piss and asked if he could use my toilet once inside.

Sure, I told him. It's just in there

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Contradiction Edition

Sugar's the new durries editorial staff have received word that convicted felon and presumed cocaine addict Tony Veitch has been unable to attend work at Radio Sport in recent days due to a broken nose, which he attributes to tripping over a flatmate's suitcase.

I'm not making this up - Tony Veitch purports to have a flatmate. 

Shit's getting New Zealand-weird at the moment actually. We're either the best or worst developed country in the world depending on which stat you read. We have a monster suicide rate, spiralling inequality, and surely nobody's ever polluted a natural wilderness as quickly and relentlessly as we have done over the past 150 years. On the other hand, we're the most liveable, least corrupt, friendliest and relatively 100% purest nation on the planet. I doublethink both of these narratives are correct to an extent.

Around the margins, Donald Trump is slowing the inexorable trend towards the unification of mankind, and is clearly too stupid for the day-to-day requirements of his job, but he's a great raconteur. He's never seen a skinny person drinking Diet Coke. I'd hang out with any and all of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton any time, anywhere. 

Rest in Peace to Prodigy of Mobb Deep fame. The official Queensbridge murderer, dead at 42. It's a wild claim to make without evidence, but his lifestyle must be partially responsible for this. If you were a successful rapper in the 90s, you're about a 60% chance of making it past 50. The record's nuts; Nate Dogg, Eazy-E died of AIDS, ODB ODed, Left-Eye Lopez, Big Pun. It's what happens when you live an incredibly gregarious lifestyle for 20 years straight. I mean, Lil Wayne's survived a stroke! He's like 37. These rappers are coming down with more comedy illnesses than Montgomery Burns' softball team. Shave those sideburns Mattingly.

Weezy's essentially the reason I vape; not dying's preferable to dying in my opinion. Vaping's the new durries.

New Zealand should think about not having a flag or anthem. Our national anthem's a humiliator, and while our flag is quaint, it's also peculiar and dated. It would be freeing to just drop the propaganda. It serves no objective purpose. When other nation-states ask us where our abstract graphic design is; we could tell them that country's are simply transitory legal structures adhered to only by humans, and that perpetuating a phoney sense of loyalty towards a patch of land through basic symbolism is beneath us.

Global diplomacy weird-outs.

I'm looking forward to the All Blacks vs the British & Irish Lions game Saturday, and like the balance of the All Black side named. Come on New Zealand.

Good or bad, I'll be following Veitchy's take on Sunday.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

A one in ten thousand shot at Powerball!

I am a lifelong professional wrestling fan (the fake shit). I mention this as it's appropriate to state any potential biases or influences that may impact this analysis / tirade. 

A couple of seasons ago I went down to the Viaduct to watch a Hurricanes game, I was really looking forward to the match actually. I was eager, and walking into the bar I was instantly surprised by the number of people in the venue, it was rammed. It was a weird demographic as well; heavily male (even for a pub on the viaduct the ratio was shocking), many of them big boppers (both jacked and sloppy), many of them rocking Monster Energy flat peak hats. It looked like a convention for people that have pictures of cars as their facebook profile photo. 

Dudes were wearing Dirty Dog sunglasses (indoors at night-time), and this one guy had a Stringer on. It was hyper confusing.

As soon as I looked up at the TV that these goobers were glued to, the scene began to make more sense. Two blood-splattered shirtless guys in undies were rolling around a mat together. An MMA fight was occurring. The lads in the bar were absolutely loving it too, cheering for one guy over the other and shit. Yelling at the screen.

I walked up to the barman and told him that the Canes were about to start and that he should flick off the gay torture porn. It was time to watch the world's straightest sport, rugby. The barman pointed at the goobers as if to imply I was severely outnumbered, and that was that. I got MMAed out of a bar and had to go next door to watch the game. It was pretty annoying.

I suppose the reason for relaying that tale is to provide some then and now context. It's not just gumbies any more, I've actually started to come across normal people that profess to like MMA. It's growing, and it's making me wonder whether MMA's obvious popularity is particularly healthy. 

Holistically, I'm not entirely sure that we should be paying underprivileged people to fight for our entertainment. There's something about it that doesn't sit right with me. Have you seen it?

People get pinned on the ground and punched full force in the face relentlessly until they give up. The poor bastards are heavily disincentivised (both financially and culturally) against giving up, so they cop complete hidings. There's blood everywhere, it is objectively savage. It's to sport what pornography is to romance, immediately exciting but completely hollow. Unless they are very lucky, these fighters will be mentally impaired in 20 years. Having such limited financial opportunities that you were compelled to do that would be the worst.

Nobody with options passionately gravitates towards a career in MMA. I'm not sure whether to go to Business School or an MMA Training dojo; is a conversation that's never happened. 

On a side note, Mixed Martial Arts is such a pretentious name for this blood bath - an exercise in branding that lends it a veneer of respectability, as though it's an ancient and learned rhythmic activity. I prefer to use the more accurate term, Two Cunts Fighting, or TCF.

The compensation structure of TCF is completely bonkers. The vast bulk of these guys are break-even at best, occasionally getting fucking pummelled for pretty much nothing. That's the bottom of the pyramid. The mid-tier represents about 50 people who are doing okay on a per fight basis, i.e. making large sums of money about 3 or 4 times a year, but servicing big overheads and (one might suspect) living flamboyant lifestyles. According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement, so I'd be very surprised if this tier of TCF guys make better financial choices.

The top of the pyramid is about 5 people deep, and they are killing it. They've essentially won Powerball - Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey - and they're not afraid of advertising it. Those 5 people would have to go full Mike Tyson to blow their fortunes, but realistically, they are the only fighters that are going to come out of this with anything to show for their unenviable struggle other than memories (however rapidly deteriorating). 

The downside of TCF is routinely getting beaten up for other people's pleasure. The upside is a 1 in 10,000 shot at Powerball. 

I assume that the topless men in three quarter shorts that are reading this will defend MMA by appealing to personal freedom. After all, these fighters aren't slaves. 

Unlike three quarter shorts, this argument certainly deserves respect, but it's not check mate either unless you also support the legalisation of heroin. We regularly choose to limit our personal freedoms in favour of wider societal benefits; it's a line, and the law is simply the process of drawing that line. 

I genuinely think that we should question what side of the line bribing poor people lottery-style to brutally assault each other for our entertainment should sit; irregardless of how funny Conor McGregor is.