Monday, 29 May 2017

Performance Advice is No Use To Regular People

I read an excellent book about sleeping recently. Turns out that if you want a really good night's sleep, made round your body rhythms, you should sleep on your own. You can canoodle all you like before dozing off, but when it comes to sleep, the performance-minded sleeper sleeps alone. People whose partners snore will doubtless agree.

An end to this nonsense, I say. I have said before that physical sobriety is only for drunks and emotional sobriety is only for emotional fuck-ups. Both of which are me. In the same way, dieting is for people who can't stop eating the wrong food and putting on weight; exercise is for people who will otherwise spend all day on the couch; and managed sleep is for insomniacs. There are all sorts of people who benefit from exercise, managed sleeping and eating, a consistent programme of cultural and intellectual self-improvement, but all of them are either athletes, creative workers, or dysfunctionals. And the comorbidity between "dysfunctional" and "athlete or creative worker" is much higher than advertised.

Ordinary people - and if you bristled slightly at that phrase, you are one - should not adopt ideas intended for athletes, drunks, and violin students entering the BBC Young Musician competition. Ordinary people should not aim for consistent exercise, diets and exercise regimes, career development and self-management. Nor should they aim for a meaning, purpose, goal or story for their lives. They should not aim for balance, calm, and proportion in their emotions. Those things are for neurotic, driven, obsessed, unstable people who need to manage themselves, either because they will fly apart or because they are aiming for a distant target.

Ordinary people who can afford to eat just a little too much should be overweight; ordinary people should have no understanding of science and engineering, and even less of economics and the human soul. They should have as much knowledge and skill as it takes to do their job, and no more, certainly not enough to make it more difficult for the next person. They should not choke up at the end of Mahler's Second, the music of J S Bach should sound like busy fiddling, and their first and last reaction to a Basquiat should be that their children paint like that. Rohmer movies should feel like paint drying, and sushi should be cold rice and fish. Ordinary people should get hangovers, eat curry on a Saturday night, cereal for breakfast, and have chips with their rice. They should watch sports rather than take part; lie on the beach rather than climb mountains; and go to theme parks rather than art galleries. They should have arguments, rows, affairs, messy divorces, illegitimate children, complicated families, and unemployed older children.

Why?

Because the managed life of the athlete, top ten percent knowledge worker, or professional, is unimaginably bland. It starts with an education requiring years of deferred gratification, punctuated by moments of binging sensuality. It carries on through more years of deferred gratification, constructive habit-building, and the deliberate management of the self. In order to achieve at that level, such people do not think about winning or losing, nor savour the taste of victory nor feel the sting of defeat. That applies to lawyers, negotiators, and mathematicians as well as athletes. The last scientists to experience a hit of exhilaration at their discovery were likely Crick and Watson.

At the top levels, the concern is with analysis, method, practice, rehearsal, fine-tuning, acquiring one more useful technique. Amateurs train to prepare for the competition, professionals compete to identify training needs. For professionals, winning is not about better or best, but about money. The motive for participation for the top-end performer is not the rewards of success, but the participation in the process. Doing, not achieving, is the goal: the achievements come as a by-product. As does whatever sponsorship and award money is available. Sounds like fun? It doesn’t even sound like work. It sounds like some weird third mode of being that cuts one off from the very things that ordinary people think are the rewards of such efforts.

State control, otherwise known as emotional management, is essential. An ordinary person feels an emotion and lives it. That emotion may pass or linger, it may become a trace element in their base emotional state. They may fight the emotion to deny its existence, or, perhaps with that immortal phrase "I can't believe...", deny that they are responsible for managing the effects of the emotion. A high-performer treats emotions like weather: emotions are things that happen to them like winds, showers or hot weather. Feel it, acknowledge it, take action and move on. When it rains, find shelter. If someone steals their car, they call the insurance company. If their children are hurt, well, then play injured, like everyone else does.

The constant self-management required, much greater now than it was even fifty years ago, is easier, if not even only possible in the first place, if one simply never does anything remotely at variance from mainstream or regulatory expectations, and so if one creates a life and state of mind that does not provide chances to do something the regulators, official or unofficial, might censure. Everyone one meets and everything one does is vetted as a potential PR-disaster, as potential distraction, and only then for potential benefits. Top performers of any kind may tell you and the Press how important their families are to them, but don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do. Training first, diet, sleep and learning second, everything else a long third. And their families know it.

Their families accept it because there’s a gold medal in the sock draw. Ordinary people don’t have gold medals, and their families will not and should not accept it.

Enough I say. The idea that ordinary people can benefit from elite training advice benefits authors, publishers and maybe people who sell the gear they recommend. Not ordinary people.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Longford River Between Hanworth Air Park and the A316




The Longford River runs through a culvert across most of my local Air Park, and re-appears near the road bridge (top photograph). On a whim a few Sundays ago, I crossed the road, found there was a path on the other side, and followed it. It's not bad, given that there's an industrial estate on one side (the warehouse) and a council estate on the other (second from last photo). When the weather is as glorious as it was that day, it's an okay walk, but it must be grim when it's grey. The last photograph is the A316 looking towards Twickenham. I have lived in the area for *cough* years, and I think that Sunday was the first I'd ever stood on that bridge.

You can read all about the Longford River here.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bank of China


My Talk-Talk broadband service went to pieces when it rained Wednesday and Thursday. It's not too stable if it gets cold either. Do you think that might be because the copper into my house has not been changed since I moved in thirty years ago? And it was old then. Insulation goes, moisture or water gets into connections at the pole... all sorts of things. And Talk-Talk wonder why I won't upgrade and watch TV over their service. Which is copper all the way from the local exchange.

And of course the weather was awful. I took the week off.

God hates me.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Air Park in Spring


You wouldn't know it has council flats on one side, a municipal baths and the A312 on another, a light industrial estate on the third and some flats and my little estate on the fourth. It's not Royal, like Bushy or Richmond Parks, but it is about a hundred yards from my front door. It's been a good Spring.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Red Pill Reddit and The Invisible Committee

I see that the Red Pill reddit intends to change direction
Our sexual strategy focus has been important at freeing minds from our anti-male culture, saving lives and teaching men to game, lift, and get laid. But we have completely ignored the rest of the hierarchy of needs. Men who have conquered their own demons learn the basics of TRP, and get spit out on the other side. They are still missing the essential components to a fully realized male identity. Men cannot exist as islands. It is camaraderie that we require. It is a tribe that strengthens us, that enables us to pursue the rest of our efforts and missions. Starting families, creating systems, selling products, creating artwork, exploring the galaxy. These are the men history will remember as great. And the way we’ve prescribed the red pill, these men will never be us. Pride, honor, and a sense of duty were the driving forces of the modern man. He contributed to society because that was what was expected of him. In return, government and community supported his marriage and family, and a balance was found.
The answer?
The future is going to be built by those who embrace and build power. The new man is a tribesman who builds his strength by joining with his brothers. It is a network of men who establish a fortified ground on which to build their lives, men who defend that stability from the chaos around them. It is men who know their own interests are best served by the success of the group.
Or to put it another way…
We’re setting out from a point of extreme isolation, of extreme weakness. An insurrectional process must be built from the ground up. Nothing appears less likely than an insurrection, but nothing is more necessary. FIND EACH OTHER. Attach yourself to what you feel to be true. Begin there.
Here’s the Red Pill
The answer to this is to band together. Small geographically centralized groups of friends and family cooperating together in the way they used to. There is no point in trying to change the larger culture to accept us. That is how women handle their problems. Instead we will build ourselves up so that we are not dependent on the good graces of this culture. We will form our own cultures and steady ourselves against the slow descent into a fully feminized world.
and the Invisible Committee
Form communes. Communes come into being when people find each other, get on with each other, and decide on a common path. The commune is perhaps what gets decided at the very moment when we would normally part ways. It’s the joy of an encounter that survives its expected end. It’s what makes us say “we,” and makes that an event. What’s strange isn’t that people who are attuned to each other form communes, but that they remain separated. Why shouldn’t communes proliferate everywhere? In every factory, every street, every village, every school. At long last, the reign of the base committees! Communes that accept being what they are, where they are. And if possible, a multiplicity of communes that will displace the institutions of society: family, school, union, sports club, etc. Communes that aren’t afraid, beyond their specifically political activities, to organize themselves for the material and moral survival of each of their members and of all those around them who remain adrift. Communes that would not define themselves – as collectives tend to do – by what’s inside and what’s outside them, but by the density of the ties at their core. Not by their membership, but by the spirit that animates them.
Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose.

The Invisible Committee felt they were surrounded by a dysfunctional economy, propped up by a Police State and an increasingly arbitrary managerial and administrative class. Their solution was to band together, throw spanners into the works, cheat the welfare system and pirate some gas and electric where they could. The Red Pill guys feel they are surrounded by an economy that exploits and despises men, pushes female-centred consumerism and a vapid hedonistic pop-culture. The solution is for "like-minded men" to form groups to resist the forces of the Feminine Imperative.

Both analyses can be right, and are. Both policies can be wrong, and are. This is so often the way. Both analyses assume there was once, and preferably recently, a Golden Age. Here's the Red Pill:
Pride, honor, and a sense of duty were the driving forces of the modern man. He contributed to society because that was what was expected of him. In return, government and community supported his marriage and family, and a balance was found.
Not sure what universe that world was in, but it wasn't this one. If an older male relative tells you that’s how it was, don't ask them the time, because they will lie about that as well.

The Invisible Committee can look back on the immediate post-WW2 period, from about 1950 to 1970. Stable employment, moderate inflation, strong trade unions, governments that owned most of the major utilities, half the world shut up behind and Iron Curtain, controls on personal credit, a large public housing stock, final-salary pensions for the lucky, and no runaway consumerism.

Take a look at some photographs of everyday life in 1963. Let me know if that's how you want to live. No thanks. I was there. Wouldn’t go back.

Mainstream pop-culture has almost always been pretty vacant. Managers and administrators have almost always been barely-competent, arbitrary and inclined to take it out on the workforce. Almost all women have almost always shit-tested, screwed around, complained and moaned. Almost all men have almost always followed sports and let themselves be turned into servants for their wives and children. There are exceptions, and some things improve while others get worse. The theme remains the same, it's the details that change.

The question is not what extra-ordinary people can do, but what ordinary people - me, the Red Pill guys, The Invisible Committee - who don't have charisma, abundant energy, quick intelligence, shrewdness, or any of the other things that separate a future President or Prime Minister from a regular hump. What do ordinary people do?

If we run across an exceptional person going in the direction we want to go, we find some way of getting behind them. Funding will do: there have never been so many ways to do so.

We withdraw our support for anything in the mainstream we don't like. Turn off the damn TV. Stop listening to chart broadcast or streaming radio. Stay away from the big chain retailers, especially if they espouse social justice causes.

Except for medicine, we don't work in the Public sector. If you are, get into the Private sector. Large companies do a metric tonne of virtue-signalling: it doesn't mean they are ridden with SJW's. It means they know the difference between real life and PR. It's the small companies which can't afford to maintain a parallel PR universe, so if they are PC, they are PC for real. Mostly though, small companies can’t afford that nonsense.

WE VOTE! Bush / Gore went down to a few hanging chads. Brexit was a small majority. So was the Presidency of Austria. If you don't vote, you can't complain about the result.

Of course none of this will make the slightest difference to the world around us. The mainstream is too large. There are too many ordinary people. Stop worrying about them. They are doing just fine. They love complaining about their partner, kids, manager, their football team and the price of fish. They love what we see as pointless drama and invented disputes. It’s the very stuff of life to them. Leave them alone.

We focus on making our own lives more pleasant and liveable.

I understand the need for other people. The camaraderie, or “like-minded people”, as it used to be called. The self-improvement / self-respect route is narrow and usually walked alone. Beware, though, of phrases like "fully realized male identity”. That’s a Trojan Horse of a phrase, inside which an unscrupulous guru can smuggle marriage, children, unrecognised self-sacrfice and a whole pallet-load of yo’ grandfather Blue Pill nonsense. Never argue over words. Argue about policies and facts. I don’t care if some guru thinks I’m not a “fully realised man”. I will continue to commend the single life to those men who look at the deep rewards of intimate relationships and wonder why the frack anyone would do that to themselves.

It’s sad that detailed and insightful analysis of the current situation is rarely paired with policies that pack a punch. The reason is that the concerns of the Red Pill, or the Invisible Committee, are minority in the extreme, defined exactly in their opposition to the mainstream. Deep down, the mainstream doesn’t change, it simply adopts the fashions and fads of the time. Sometimes it benefits by doing so, and sometimes, like now, it does not. We can change our own lives, but we can’t change the mainstream. We’re the wrong people. Only Gorbachov could declare perestroika, just as only Nixon could go to China.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Leaving Out The Gin Bottles


Steps of the Caffe Nero across from my gym, early one Saturday morning. I swear I did not pose this. I leave milk bottles out, but clearly the denizens of Soho get a wider range of products delivered by their milkman.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Punjabi National Bank


Another City photograph from last summer. Since the Punjab is a region of India, how can it be the Punjab National Bank? Anyway. I have distractions at the moment, so posting is erratic.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

April 2017 Review

Maintenance month.

I watched a number of car maintenance and driving channels in April, and prompted by Scotty Kilmer telling us that he changed his oil every 6,000 miles and that anyone who didn’t was storing up troubles, I checked the service frequency on the Punto. Uh-huh. I was around 37,500 miles and should be having services every 12,000 miles. So I booked it in a local Fiat dealer and got a full service, with oil changes and other good stuff. This requires driving there at 06:30, leaving the car on the street, taking the slow train to work, and then taking the slow train back, and driving home in the evening. It makes a change, and if you look along the track at the station you could be in the country. My regular station is much less domestic and friendly.

The garage found a bunch of other things - leaking gearbox seal, worn rear shock bushes, a hole in the exhaust and thin front break pads - that I drive away, thought about, called them and said YES to. I’m passing on the new set of tyres for a few more months. I can’t tell you how many pounds lighter I am for all that.

The back porch acquired a vivid green sheen, which I killed with mosskiller. I tackled cleaning the path to my front door, which has been looking grungier as the years have gone by. This is not rocket science: wet the path, pour on diluted cleaner from a watering can with sprinkler head, scrub in with stiff bristle broom, count to a hundred, water again and scrub clean. However, it’s a lot more effort on muscles I don’t use in the gym. Lower back. Gardening is hell on the lower back.

My brown garden waste bin from Hounslow Council arrived within days of me applying for it at the start of the month - I was expecting it in mid-May - and I spent the first two shots getting rid of lawn cuttings and other stuff from months ago. This week they are taking away some plant trimmings and more grass cuttings. I’m far more motivated to do an hour’s hard labour with shears and trimmers when I can dump it all in the bin and not have to drive to the Tip. This is as big a result as buying your own washing machine and never going to the launderette ever again.

Talking of launderettes, I read a book about sleeping, and it prompted me to try cleaning my duvet and pillows. These are always washed, even if you take them to a Dry Cleaner. I took one of my duvet+pillow sets to the local launderette for a service wash, and while they got the duvet right, I had to air out wone of the pillows and dry out the other one with heaters and radiators. Not going back again, but the idea is a good one. Except, it isn’t cheap. Unless you have expensive Siberian goose-down pillows, it may be cheaper simply to replace them. In cost terms, two washes = one new feather duvet.

And yes, I did the thing with the mattress and a vacuum cleaner - I have a Dyson V6 with an animal-hair brush head - and it didn’t pick up a darn thing. But then I use a mattress cover. I washed the newer one and replaced the worn one, requiring a trip into John Lewis in Kingston, something I usually try to avoid as much as possible.

And as described elsewhere, I got my little Asus back working well again. Curse Windows Update.

So that was all the exciting stuff.

Sis and I just squeezed in a supper, at Native in Neal’s Yard. The food was good, but the atmosphere was a little too casual. Quite where they found carrots that small I have no idea. I had a trip to Gulu Gulu after the gym on Payday Friday. Oh yes. I know how to live it up!

No movies. None. I finished off Angel S4.

I read Nick Littlehale’s Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, and I thought it had a lot of good ideas. I have definitely switched over to thinking of sleep in 90-minute (ish) cycles. Also David Ley’s The Myth of Sex Addiction, Alex Reinhart’s Statistics Done Wrong, Juan Pablo Villalobos’ I’ll Sell You A Dog, and Thomas Oliveri’s anthology Geek Art, and I finally finished Michael Rush’s textbook on Video Art.

Maintenance. Does anybody really budget for it?

But I like getting maintenance done. And I don’t mind paying for it. Which doesn’t mean I rush about finding stuff to do, but I don’t grudge it when I have to do it. It’s a form of looking after myself. It lets me know I’m not letting everything slide.

And over Easter, I ate my way through a Tre Marie Columba from Lina Stores.