13.04.2018 – Friday evening

I can’t decide whether it’s Falkor (the Luck Dragon from The NeverEnding Story) or a Basset Hound caught in mid-gallop, heading for the cookie jar.

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“Never give up; and good luck will find you.” – Falkor

I blew the dust off my DSLR earlier. Quite literally. The last pictures on there were from my wife’s baby shower. (My daughter just turned two) I don’t know much about cameras and, rather embarrassingly, I have never even swapped out the lens it came with. There is another lens in the bag… but I don’t know what it does. Wide angle maybe? Is that even a thing? After engaging with the stratocumulus mimicry above my domicile I meandered in a circuitous fashion around my garden.

I took a picture of some daisies….

Adjusting myself for what I thought might be a better ‘shot’, I put too much pressure on my twisted ankle and toppled over, furrowing myself rather unceremoniously into the flower bed.

I lay there for a while (as one does) before deciding that the best course of action would be to make this sad sort of mewling sound. Eventually staring down the double barrels of starvation and hypothermia and with no spouse or canis familiaris in sight I picked myself up and hobbled back towards the house. (ostensibly to make myself a sandwich)

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I don’t know much about light… (Other than it comes in waves and is measured in lumens) but I’ve decided that I really like the color yellow. Who knew.

13.04.2018 – Friday

I’ve decided (recently) that I hate running. I realize hate is quite an intense verb and that I used to run almost every single day.  In terms of time efficiency, it’s a really good workout, but… I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed running, not really. I suppose I could frame my statement with various excuses; I don’t have the right build, gait, mindset or that distance running is counter evolutionary to our bipedal form, but I think the reality is that I’m just more inclined towards sloth (the vice not the marsupial) and therefore just resistant to the whole concept of forward inertia coupled with the aggressive locomotion of my lower extremities. Besides, running is bad for you.

‘Why do you run Joey? Because it feels so good when I stop’.

I usually wake up (stupid) early, usually somewhere around four am. Theoretically this time between booting up and breakfast is meant to be spent in zen like contemplation, girding my loins for the day ahead. More often than not I loose myself in some mindless (fake) news event or some YouTube rabbit hole instead.

This morning I decided to take the German Shepherd for a walk. The Basset Hound was still snugly furled up in his pillow fort and it would have proved… challenging to extract him from within its confines without considerable effort.

In any event I appreciate the way that the world feels at four thirty am. I like the Noir effect and how the only people that are awake are those indentured beings delivering bread and newspapers (I’m guessing this won’t be a ‘thing’ forever). Although this morning I did meet another idiot walking his dog. (weird)

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The ubiquitous selfie. (I’m the one on the left)

My sojourn takes me up past a film studio, through a park and then I loop past a cemetery on my way back. Just under three miles. Only about five meters from my house on the return leg I tripped on the unkempt verge of my neighbors pavement and twisted my ankle. I’ve been hobbling around today ever since. The irony.

So maybe its just walking upright that seems to be problematic for me? I feel the weight of my ancestors and my kin (all the way back to homo-erectus) as they collectively share a look of concern and then face-palm.

‘Damn Joey, been walking long?’  

At thirty nine and two months I’d like to underscore that I am a slow learner. Recently my wife has been trying to teach me some more ‘occult’ like accounting practices (specifically deferred tax). If ever there was a concept that has wrinkled the gray spongy stuff!

I feel I may have reached my ‘trick limit’ and that new tricks are now beyond me. Maybe I’m aiming too high though. Instead of deferred tax I should maybe just concentrate on the basics. You know, like putting the toilet seat down and eating with my mouth closed.

That seems like a lot to remember though.

 

 

 

Weekend round up

I worked all weekend. Which let me tell you is not how I imagined the entrepreneur dream working out for me. At the moment it just seems to be one cluster-fuck after another. An endless cycle of work-related sodomy. (without the dinner or jewelry that is sometimes involved with this sort of enterprise*)

*at least… so I’ve been told.

I’m feeling super sorry for myself… and while I promised myself today would NOT be an uberEats day… its turned into an UberEats day.

I did get a chance to catch up on Casey Neistat last night. I quite like the new format. And I like the fact that Casey now has a side kick.

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I mean if you’re going to go with a sidekick a dopey (atypical*) South African is probably the way to go. I’m only 50% embarrassed.

*I can’t decide if he’s representative or not. I’ve decided to give ‘us’ the benefit of the doubt and go for atypical. (although now I’m immediately filled with doubt)

After Casey I watched Fog of War.

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I know. Mixing Fog of War with Casey Neistat is like chasing your Pinot Noir with caramel vodka. (for some reason this makes me think of a friend that drank ethanol out of a science lab beaker… and lived… she should have been Casey Neistat’s sidekick)

I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a movie with a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It really is that good and totally worth every lofty percentage point. I must be honest my Cuban Missile Crisis knowledge is probably below average. I mean I had a vague sort of sense of it and I assumed nuclear annihilation was a possibility. But I had no idea how close we (humans) came to obliterating the entire world. Wow. Even Robert McNamara says, ‘yeah we got lucky’.

That doesn’t fill me with massive confidence about the species. OMG.

Because I was (basically) an absentee parent this weekend I had to tag in the German Shepherd to do fill in for me.

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She’s quite maternal though. So I think it worked out okay.

The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

I often find myself raging (somewhat pointlessly) against titles like this. I feel it should have been titled ’33 strategies of War’. Prefixing the title with ‘The’ adds an element of finality and egotism into the mix that I don’t like. There are only thirty three strategies. And they’re all in this book. Which is clearly a misnomer.

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I know. I’m nitpicking. It might because I’m currently experiencing an un-caffeinated state of being. Also my backspace is occasionally sticking, which is super annoying because I use my backspace almost as much as my spacebar. It’s not sperm. In case you’re wondering. More likely from overuse and general wear and tear. My MacBook Air is getting on in years.

I both really like and really dislike Robert Greene. Let me qualify that antithetical statement. I think his books are amazing. (except for the titles and the boring cover theme that runs through his books) All his books are phenomenally well researched and written. In fact I’m struggling to think of another author that rivals his meticulousness and scale. The amount of reading he must do is staggering. (I’m a little jealous) This book is packed with historical examples of the concepts outlined in each chapter and the volume of quotes and anecdotes is truly mind boggling. I eventually stopped underlining stuff because… well… basically I’d have to underline the entire book. It’s that sort of tome.

HOWEVER…

I also dislike Robert Greene because of the way me makes me feel about the world. I realize this isn’t really his fault. Ha ha. But his personal ideology is heavily imprinted in his content. I am not an optimist by any stretch of the imagination. But Jesus H Christ, Robert Greene just strips the whimsy out of life.

It’s taken me almost forever to get through War for this reason. I found if I didn’t limit myself to bite-size chunks I’d start feeling very…  (whats’ the word I’m looking) bleak about the world. That might not be everyone’s reaction. Some might just see it as an interesting treatise on certain ‘type’ of operating system. I found War starting to influence my interactions with people, insofar as I started viewing every single interchange in very stark game theory-esque terms with a winner and a loser.

About half way through War I bought the audio version of the book. (which is a 27 hour 29 minute leviathan) I thought narration might soften the impact for me, but it actually made it worse. It’s very good production though and I highly recommend it. (The only ‘longer’ audiobook I have is Strategy, A history by Lawrence Freedman weighing in at 32 hours, 4 minutes)

I love strategy. But I’ve realised that I like it as a thought exercise. Something academic meant to be mulled over will I sip my Rooibos. Something I might haul out, dust off and bandy about in a boardgame. But beyond that, actually living with strategic intent, is a bit beyond me. I don’t have the presence of mind. Or indeed the discipline to live like this.

I think this means that my life will largely be unsuccessful. You know, like how some kids aren’t good at sports…

Oh well.

Why I started supporting Sam Harris

I am not an adherent of anyone, so I’m loathed to even admit this, but I started supporting Sam Harris with a monthly contribution of $10 today. So… basically three tall Lattes. Which feels somewhat cheap of me, now that I type it out. Hopefully he’ll put them to good use. Nothing like a quick caffeinated beverage before putting evil to the sword… or sending out a sardonic tweet.

I like Sam. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says… and I am obviously discounting the (large) percentage of things that he does say that I don’t necessarily understand. (I am quite stupid).

I do think Sam is a good person and I think he approaches everything he does with the best of intentions. Although I often feel like I’m watching a masochist go about his day. I think you have to be slightly that way inclined to be willing to wade through all that vitriol and malice day after day. Perusing the comments on an innocuous SamHarrisOrg tweet (about the weather) is more akin to staring into the abyss.

‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche

I am constantly amazed that Sam hasn’t become this weird, reclusive misanthrope living in a cabin somewhere in Montana. This is likely because I think Sam Harris is in actual fact a Samurai. Albeit a cerebral Samurai who lays the smack down with his words. But a samurai nonetheless.

91611-004-C997AF25I do wish I could tell Sam to stop climbing down under bridges and battling the residents who dwell there though.

In Jujitsu (practiced originally by Samurai) of which Sam is an enthusiast (as am I) there is generally a clear cut winner and a loser in a bout between combatants. Someone taps out. You shake hands and either go again or call it a day.

Combat on twitter doesn’t work that way. And I don’t think Sam, with his bushido ethic and profound sense of honor can thrive in a place like this.

Your life just becomes an endless loop of having to step out onto main street with a six shooter (or daitō) to battle it out with some inane bumbler (reclined on his sofa with his macbook perched on his y-fronts) who was nothing better to do with his time than think of way to slander and misrepresent you. What a fucked up way to spend the time that has been alloted to you.

Maybe that’s easy for me to say, in any event I wish you more Zen Sam, I really do.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu.

I think primarily Sam makes me want to be a better person. That’s not something I say lightly. Listening to Sam has made me think about things I would never have considered before. He has introduced me to a plethora of new ideas and he has challenged me to consider why I believe the things that I do.

You have had a profound effect on my life, and for that Sam I am very grateful. (I think the above is true even if you don’t like Sam. Be grateful that you have found a worthy adversary, a Moriarty to your Holmes, but still conduct yourself in an upright manner)

Mostly I have decided to support Sam Harris because I want my ideology to survive and hopefully thrive. And for that to happen there needs to be soldiers fighting in the trenches on the front line. Hopefully my $10 can help (just a little) to make that happen. I need Sam to continue to fight the good fight, to be Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘man the arena’, to keep swinging for the fences.

I think (basically) I just want to say ‘good luck’ Sam. I hope you make it. And thanks again.

Winnie

Despite what you may have heard Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and I have never played bridge together. That is to say, I didn’t know her at all. Not even a little bit. Given this fact, I have, over the years, had to rely on the media to inform me about what sort of person she was, which is all sound bites and clips (taken out of context) and articles laced heavily with opinion and moralizing. I am obviously quite reticent to form an opinion about someone I have never met…

The first tweet I read about the demise of Winnie (having only recently returned to twitter) was ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’. Which I think is somewhat disingenuous of the author. I can’t remember off hand if the song refers to the Wicked Witch of the East or West…. BUT as far as I know Winnie Madikizela-Mandela never practiced magic. Nor was she killed by a falling house (was she?). I also think its safe to say she never kept any Munchkins in bondage or associated with any flying monkeys. So really, to quote the Wizard of Oz is to misrepresent the person.

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But maybe they are instead referencing the children’s book that I occasionally read to my daughter before bedtime.

Again I think this seems like a pretty tenuous connection. (in my opinion) But you know, people attempting wit occasionally do strange things. (I know I have)

On the flip side of the coin, there is the kooky almost fanatical hero worship that’s arisen that dips its toe into the same murky pond as people who love Che Guevara (Oh… you did NOT just go there*).

*yeah, unfortunately I did.

It might also just be me or is Winnie WAAAAAAAAAY more popular in death than she was in life? I really had no idea she has such a massive fan base. But then again I live on quite an isolated little planet (with a pinkish hue, where the circus music is stuck on repeat) I hope I’m popular when I die. Although maybe less divisive.

I do think you have to be a little more circumspect when we elevate any human being to the pedestal of paragon of the people. I mean that’s quite a lofty space to occupy, not just anyone should get that honor. After all if we just open the gates it cheapens the accolade.

I’m not suggesting where Winnie should fall on the ladder of human achievement. I am hardly qualified. Perhaps this is something that should be decided by, in the very least, a committee (where tea time includes those little tuna mayonnaise sandwiches with the crusts cut off). I jest, obviously. I do think that anyone that celebrates someone else’s demise needs to spelunk the inside of their brain for a bit and commit themselves to (at least) an hour of  introspection (assuming they find anything in there).

In the same way I feel people who can just varnish over any inconvenient truth and are hash-tagging as a form of identity politics need to have very careful look at the narrative that they are committing themselves to?

If you decide that putting a rubber tire over someones head and setting it alight is fair play and that collateral damage and necessary evils are justified in the pursuit of a greater good, that’s fine with me. But realize that there are people who are going to disagree with you. This does not make them any less worthy of respect, dignity or common courtesy.

In all honesty I don’t really know where I stand on breaking eggs to bake a cake. I hope I don’t ever have be put in a position where I have to decide on whether someone lives or dies. If I were disenfranchised and angry it is very likely I would have conceived of something very similar. Or worse even. (I found Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning absolutely terrifying)

I do however believe people change, and that the Winnie that was, is not the Winnie that… eh… was. Double past tense. What version of Winnie do you heap praise on and what version of Winnie gets the scorn. Or is it a law of averages? Positives and negatives added together equals… something… with pie.

Of course being carefully neutral is boring. If I were pressed to write an epitaph for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela what would it be?

Here lies Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Homo Sapiens. (so far I think we can agree) After that I’m not so sure. (Maybe I’ll think of something clever later)

When in doubt I like to fall back on Jordan B. Petersons 6th rule for life.

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. My house is definitely not in order. So really who am I to criticize? I do think that maybe as a rule we shouldn’t elevate anyone to sainthood. Or hold anyone up as an exemplar.

Maybe we should just concentrate on the living.

The alternative to retirement

The problem with life is that it’s unsatisfactorily vague in terms of duration. You could die in utero (not the Nirvana album) or you could hang on by your grimy fingernails, clawing at the linoleum until the ripe old age of a hundred and eleventy. That’s quite a range. Sure, we could bell curve it…. but really statistics are for other people, we’re all planning on being the exception.

(Annoyingly) none of us know how long we’ve got left… exactly. It would make planning this whole ‘life experience’ thing such a more manageable process. I would like to posit a solution. Instead of retiring at sixty five, I think we should instead all just… kill ourselves.

comicwannaseesomething1.pngI know, this idea may seem a little fringe, at first, but allow me a brief moment to convince you of its merit.

Sixty five is a pretty good innings. And things from that point onwards are just hankering to go downhill anyway…. By this stage you’ve racked up a metric fuck tonne of carcinogens, all of whom are getting rowdy in your soft tissue and are just itching for the opportunity to go all Fukushima. You’ve got dementia waiting in the wings. It was supposed to be waiting for you in the passage… but you know. And that grinding noise in your knee…. that’s the anatomical equivalent of waking up at 3am because you thought you heard breaking glass. (unlikely to be a good thing)

How would your life change if you knew that on your sixty fifth birthday you had to take a self inflicted dirt nap? Chances are you wouldn’t be wasting your life in some job that you hate. You sure as hell wouldn’t be saving for retirement…

As soon as we put a deadline (pun only loosely intended) into play we suddenly become A LOT more motivated to get busy living. We appreciate that we don’t have much time left and get busy doing all those things we’ve always wanted to do. (theoretically)

Let’s take things a bit further though. By killing yourself at sixty five you’re actually being incredibly altruistic. Some might even argue this is the ultimate form of altruism. (and lets be honest, likely to be the only truly charitable thing you will ever do for humanity) After all, old people are pretty insufferable. Driving slowly, and wobbling unsteadily from left to right through the supermarket aisle. Always telling you about how things were better, back in the day.

Think about it! We could single handedly end Bingo nights, lawn bowls and retirement villages. Health insurance would become affordable and universal. Its those old fucks with their blackened lungs and cirrhotic livers that are the ones making it expensive for the rest of us.

If you’ve only got until sixty five are you really going to work up until your last day? Hell no. Youth unemployment solved, thank you very much. Also the world is going to become a lot more egalitarian. With that sixty fifth birthday as your cut off date, you’re going to make damn sure you spend every last penny. No more inter-generational wealth. Plus with all those old people kicking off we can finally churn some of those properties closer to work. I think we can all appreciate less time spent commuting. (assuming anyone will actually want to bother with a mortgage anymore)

Obviously all those people hovering around or nearing D-Day will be somewhat reticent to get on the cart… so to speak. I think we need to engage with our elderly and convince them that this is, in fact, the right thing to do.

Sure we’ll miss your musty smell and your long winded stories. But (always) look on the bright side (of death), you died with your boots on. As opposed to alone in some sterile palliative care facility. That’s gotta count for something right? And think of all the good your cold dead corpse will do.

Seriously. Move along. You’re holding back the species.

Ready Player One (Movie)

You know in season one of Californication, (the only season they should have made) when Hank Moody has had his guts ripped out because his beloved book has been turned into an abhorrent abortion of a movie? I wonder if Ernest Cline feels that way about the Ready Player One movie? Only he can’t say anything because he’s contractually obligated to just take it up the rectum. (there’s no time for lubricant*)

*I’m channeling a lot of David Duchovny here.

In Californication, in an act of revenge, Hank has sex with the director’s wife. I don’t think that’s going to work out for Ernest Cline though… especially when the director that murdered your book is Steven Spielberg.

To be completely fair I’ve hated pretty much every movie ever made since 2003, so really, that I despise this iteration of a book I love should be of no surprise to me.

Only I really love this book! And perhaps more specifically I REALLY love the Audiobook read by Wil Wheaton. (Reviewed here) They’re both great, so it upsets me when you get a thick slice of Kobe beef and can’t think of anything better to do with it other than turn it into mince meat.

Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One improves immensely on the book. – The Verge.

‘With all due respect… What the fuck… are you talking about?’ – John Malkovich, Burn after reading.

Seriously. Have I slipped into an alternate dimension or something? Did they watch the same movie as me? I know to criticize the almighty Steven Spielberg is to question the divine… but he butchered this one. And then dragged it off into a cornfield and left it to die.

Okay. Calm down Joey, pour yourself a drink. Preferably a double. There must have been something in this movie that you liked?

I liked Art3mis. Well I liked her avatar. In a leery (impossible proportions) Jessica Rabbit kinda way.

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And I liked…

…yeah that’s all I got.

I guess what’s upsetting me the most is that this movie is making me violate my don’t be mean about other people’s stuff policy. I mean so much so that I have to come home and write an angry blog post about it. Not even The Last Jedi got me this worked up. And that was a pretty foamy apoplexy…

Ha ha.

Maybe all this highlights is that I’ve become a crotchety old man. Which isn’t really all that bad. For as long as I can remember (well since 2003) all I’ve ever really aspired to was to end up like Robert Duvall’s character in Second Hand Lions.

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Maybe I’m just well on my way…

Ignominious rescue

So… my grocery shop trip by bicycle (see previous post) was largely a disaster and I had to be rescued by my wife. But I did learn a couple of things. Mostly I now know why why people don’t transport goods in this manner.

Turns out the heavy crate changes your center of gravity completely. Now that I think about it, of course it would.

I had to cross a busy main road on my way back. Its has two lanes in each direction, seperated in the middle by a raised center island. While I bunny-hopped the island easily on my way there. Trying to do it with a crate filled with groceries on the way back, turned out to be my undoing.

I remember thinking that the one point of failure on my contraption might be the cable tie I had used to secure the crate to my seat and that maybe I should take a spare cable tie along… you know, just in case. I immediately forgot about my concern. (as one does) That cable tie turned out to be kinda vital. With the weight of my groceries combined with my attempt to mount the curb, the load on the cable tie was too much and it snapped. This lowered the already heavy crate onto my back tire.

Mid bunny-hop, suddenly my back tire seized, causing me to… well… I think I did quite well under the circumstances. If I had been cleated in I think I would face planted into the tar. I managed, somehow to recover, jump off and grab the bike before it completely tipped over. Amazingly I only spilled a couple of lemons and one of my plantains into the road and not a single egg broke despite my reactionary acrobatics and scrapping a fair amount of skin off my knee and shin.

My bike was now however, completely immobile. Flip… Was not not the word I used.

About a hundred meters down the road is a gas station with a coffee shop. I dragged my bike there and ordered a coffee. Then sat down and phoned my wife.

‘Please come and rescue me’.

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When she eventually stopped chortling, she came and rescued me.

IMG_8723.jpgWaiting for the recovery vehicle… at least I had coffee.

Once we’d transferred the crate into the car, to the sound of my daughter chiming in from the carseat ‘Rescuing daddy, rescuing daddy’, I was able to ride the bike home.

Mortifying. Turns out I’m really bad at this downsizing, eco-friendly thing…

 

After that we visited my parents. My dad has spent the last couple of days constructing a cart. I think he felt sorry for us because he saw us pulling my daughter around the garden in a cardboard box.

We decided (because we are responsible parents and because of my earlier shenanigans) that we should test it out on the Basset Hound first. To make it sure it was… eh… safe.

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And although he didn’t… exactly volunteer… I think he quite enjoyed himself.

The girl child however, even after seeing the proof of concept and noting that the basset hound had survived unscathed, was not particularly interested in being pulled around by a noisy lawn-mower. Can’t say I blame her.

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Much more content to swing.