Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Dream I Once Had Part 3

Anyway the title of this post is a dream I once had part trios! ix and twix were a long time ago in a tip of a hat to my old school readers (me).

Okay so the context was sketchy but it was one of those rare vivid dreams, and I don't believe dreams predict the future but they can tell us something about ourselves if we ponderise them a bit.

Here's basicaly what happened.

Somebody I don't remember gave me a tray that was full of chemicals and told me to take it down to the lab or something to 'inoculate the test subjects' which I understood to be some kind of vegetable matter beings or something.
And I was walking from this clandestine room where I recieved the chemicals and vague instructions and I was picking up vibes and mutters that what I was doing wasn't something unanimously approved of.
So anyway I'm hearing things like 'don't know what the inoculation will achieve' and 'hasn't been tested' and stuff.
Suddenly some old scientist lady is imploring me not to do it, that it isn't necessary whatever it is I'm heading off to do.
Then some young beautiful assistant is all like 'tohm don't do it!' and I know I'm in love with this person, but the thing is I don't actually know what it is I'm doing, this is a vague sketchy dream afterall.
So like I'm back in kindergarten I stand there and start panicing. In the meantime the beautiful lab girl is all like 'tohm in three days those things will open up their wings and be flying, they will have a life of their own!' from which I presume the expected side effects of the inoculation might be death or something.
Still I don't know what the fuck to do. Then I think of a way (not brilliant) out of the dilemma I think (don't say) 'I won't do it if I can keep you' to the girl. Luckily I have enough tact to instead cry out (I hope I didn't actually cry out) 'what is the right thing to do?'
And she says 'chuck it' or 'throw it away' or something. And I do that because I trust this person.
Then there's general rejoicing around me so I think I've done the right thing and I just sidle up to this girl and ask 'Can I keep you?' and she says 'yes' and I'm actually thinking how clever it was of me to change the extortionary demand 'I'll do it if I can keep you' to doing it and asking 'can I keep you?' anyway I take her hand and we run, and we are like running up stairs or something and I confess 'we'll have to stay at your place because I live in a shitheap' so some part of me was still conscious that I live in a garage. Anyway we never get to anyone's place I just wake up. as per usual.

So what insight did this give me? What greater truth was revealed to me via dreamvision? Well I think it provoked through it's strange wording of the fundamental question (not incidentally "What is the right thing to do?") provoked a NLP type questioning of my assumptions that lead to a greater understand of what LOVE is.

I remember Claire bitching to me about how the english language was inadequate for expressing all the different types of love. And a good example is that the statement 'Claire and I love eachother' is true, even though we'll never date again because it's also true to say that 'Claire and I don't love eachother' there's a lot I'd do for Claire but marriage, or even dating isn't one, or two of them. As I'm sure she would indeed agree they were two things she wouldn't do for me.

Kind of like I hear the inuit have 43 words for Ice or something but no words for 'hello' it's partially orwellian. And with this in mind what does that kind of 'love' actually mean. The love perhaps that I am if not actually looking actively for at least on the lookout for?

Back to that fundamental question 'Can I keep you?' I think this is not the meaning of love. Contextually when I think about it, my dreamself sensed that after defecting on my orders I was not welcome to stick around for two long and would presumably have to go somewhere. So I believe in that context the question was more 'will you come with me?' and not just in the basest sense of the word 'come'
because obviously love can't encapsulate such a one way question. It's both question and answer.

Love hopefully all realise is a two way street. It takes two to start a relationship, a special kind of relationship even though it only takes one to end it. So I think love is the question and answer sequence:

Q: 'Will you come with me?'
A: 'Yes'

This though still suggests a subjugated will in the picture. Real world context might look like:

Q: 'Will you come with me to London where I am planning to study Geography at one of them Universities even though your dream is to open a health clinic in the Northern Territory?'
A: 'Yes, I'll give up my dreams for you.'

That's not my definition of Love either, so really to truly two way street it it's the Q & A sequence.

Q: 'Will you come with me?'
A & Q: 'Yes. but will you come with me?'
A: 'Yes, I'll also come with you.'

Which is really starting to sound like porno worthy dialogue, and is quite cumbersome. But if we look at it in a clinical vector type way it means.

'You are welcome to travel towards my dreams with me.' from any individual offering.

And maths would explain this easier than words would, because take any vector and you can resolve it using trig into it's components. So if you are thinking X,Y axis and the first partners dreams lie ultimately in the direction of X, and the other partners dreams lie in the direction of Y then whatever the opposite of resolving vectors is means you'd come up with a new direction together.

A beautiful new vector in the direction that borrows components of each dream. Those that did specialist maths with me in year 12 might actually appreciate this, for the others sorry for losing you.

So maybe I can conclude it with these two thoughts,

1. We are all travelling somewhere in one dimension or other, even standing still you are travelling in the 4th Dimension at least and these directions need to be resolved in any relationship.

2. There can be nothing more precious and personal to us in life than our dreams which hopefully we all try to move towards. Even if, and perhaps because, we lack the knowledge on how we actually get there there is no gesture more loving than inviting someone to help you in this most personal search. And because we don't know how to reach our dreams, or whether we will even want them still by the end of our journey then perhaps it does less harm than we think to compromise it by sharing the search of someone else's dream. Most probably this process of indeed loving someone will take you somewhere compromised yes, but a place you never would have found on your own, and you may just like that place.

Surely that is what I mean when I say that kind of 'love' it's welcoming someone not just into your home, into your pants, into your hearts, but into your dreams.

The Message

Let's kick off the year with a message of hope and change we can believe in. Sure we've seen a black president in our lifetimes but I'm not Rev. Jesse Jackson and that doesn't bring tears to my eyes. But what would should it occur in my lifetime would be to hear something from out there a message that simply says

"You are not alone"

And in the case of that message it could take almost any form. Anything at all would be enough. I'm talking about SETI. Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

There is a tender out to build the worlds most powerful radio reciever array and it comes down to South Africa and Australia as the only two countries with sufficient desert space with sufficiently low rainfall per year that is sufficiently remote from any other radio interference.

And other astronomers are trying to identify extra solar planets similar to ours in being in the 'goldilocks zone' with similar atmospheric make up to point this thing at.

I find the prospect amazing that we could draw a line in the sky and say over there that planet supported life too.

I don't know how old the radio transmissions would be, but to me that doesn't matter it may be that we determine there is life on a planet 10,000 years after they developed radio transmission technology.

I don't know, I don't care.

It's what the message would say. For one thing it would destroy the anthropomorphic view of the universe. Like an only child going to daycare for the first time and realising that there's other children out there, just as special.

It would reduce our existence to something infinitely more miraculous than being created by a personal god. It would reduce us to mere random spontaneous chance. Life being a very special development, intelligence being another. One of the rarest and most beautiful phenomena in the world.

It would call into question state boundaries and their importance in a universe that suddenly has confirmed population 2.

Why the fuck is it so important to kill eachother over dirt based on scripture when the universe saw fit to make another pale blue dot out in the sky.

Life would simultaneously become more or less precious. When we discovered that other intelligence exists it means that intelligent life got more than one chance to succeed. And it means success is not a manifest destiny of ours, survival is not assured. We may as a species have to actually work for it, to collaborate and calculate and do, to actually do what is necessary for survival.

And maybe most naively, once intelligent life is found and perhaps found again and again and again we may then turn the search into the next step, to reunite that our great great grandchildren might one day cross that line in the sky and hold someone someday and not just hear but feel and touch and smell and see with their own senses that we are not alone.

And the vatican is also engaged in this search, pondering whether ETI needs to be baptised or not. Good to know someone's tackling the important questions. Douchebags.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday Riders

School holidays are long since here and this means I have to put up with Sunday bike riders everyday of the week now. And whilst I enjoy seeing families actually out on the commons spending time with eachother, kids playing and all that shit the novelty quickly wears off when I need to get past.
So in a rare departure from bitching about arsehole drivers I thought I'd take this chance to spit upon my fellow fucking birotarypeds.

In the past week I have encountered:

1. Riding three abreast on the yarra trail. The yarra trail is lumpy bumpy and frequented by cyclists in all directions. Riding two abreast in most parts could be considered pretty disrespectful. Three abreast, egalitarian though it may be in the offenders particular social circle ensuring all had a good time (or perhaps that neither guy had a chance to hit on the girl) turned out to be hugely impractical when I rang my bell. For me ringing my bell is the last resort. I prefer to pass someone and say 'passing' in a monotone non-threatening voice as I do it.
Anyway, this resolved into one of the riders having to sprint ahead and one having to hit the brakes to drop back. Just then a roadie shot through in the opposite direction, and then I made my move. I couldn't be too angry because through pure good fortune I had dinged them at the exact moment they needed the stupidity of riding three abreast to be demonstrated in order to avoid a disastrous collision with a roadie riding at 30 klicks.

2. Is more of a question I have been encountering as often as the stimulus? Why can't children and women on those old bikes with baskets on them ride fucking straight, as in on a straight line, a hypothetical line that yes, doesn't really exist but you shouldn't have to jackknife about quite dangerously in traffic to prevent passing and edge people into the gutter and so fourth with each successive peddle stroke.
I mean seriously, I would willingly submit to some kind of 'cyclists license' of victoria if it meant it consisted of the one and only rule of you have to learn how to ride fucking straight in a straight fucking line moving forward without constant deviation from the line to an amplitude of half a fucking meter.

3. Slow cyclists running red lights, only to inevitably be taken by me. Here in a rare concession I will concede to fixed gear riders that when they run red lights sometimes against what would be my better judgement they at least go fucking fast the rest of the time. I can concieve that an impatient person who feels justified in riding a bike designed for the velodrome through city streets might also feel justified riding red lights.
Not so with an offender from cat 2 above. She had many of the fucking plastic floral accompanyments on her bike that also indicate somebody fucking stupid to me. I buried her along swanston street in my middle gear, then as is frustratingly the case with swanston street found myself stuck at the red light at the foot of RMIT. Expecting her to just slow down behind me when she caught up the 200 m (this is not frustrating in itself, I usually trundle up behind amatuer rodies that regulalry bury me in the stop start, stop start riding style of major CBD roads) but instead she bowled right past me zigzaging directly through the red light. She was a bitch to pass too. I waited about 20 more seconds and the lights changed to green, then having caught her promptly at the next lights parked politely behind her. She even ran the next red to get a jump start on the rest of the cyclists now piling up behind her. I fucking gunned by to pass her and rode with a furious poison in my veins trying to get away.
Why the fuck, do you run lights and get headstarts when you are then just going to plod along like you are in the Champaigne region of france and are cycling one of them long rolls home after a hard day of protesting against the fascist reforms of your liberal government?

Cyclists dick me off when they act like senior drivers or pedestrians. It's dangerous out there. Here are the simple rules to stay alive and keep other cyclists alive -

1. Be predictable - of course with a St Kilda bike store called 'the freedom machine' this would seemingly destroy all the fun of cycling. Running red lights, riding between car lanes, executing strange and exhilerating turns at odd points in traffic. Riding against traffic in local neighbourhoods etc.
But being predictable as a cyclist isn't necessarily the same as meticulously obeying all the road rules. Basically if you are beginning as a road commuter it consists of this - stick to the left most of whatever lane you have to occupy, usually it means riding just out of the gutter on the asphalt. Then for FUCK's sake ride straight. Thats all you have to do. When you gain competence (if you have a 30kg step through frame with chunky plastic pedals and a basket you are already overconfident) you can start turning corners and indicating.

2. In the rain, be very, very predictable. The rain can really fuck you off as a cyclist. I mean sometimes it just is so persistent in getting in that one side of your eyeball the entire 40 minute commute that you can be on the verge of killing somebody. Sitting at the lights and looking at the droplets turning to ice on your forearm hair is really painful. Hence the temptation to pull out all the stops on your cycling 6th sense and run lights, take shortcuts etc galore.
This is the easy way to get killed. The only time I've been cleaned up by a car in 3 years of cycling was on the day the Yarra banks burst where instead of using a pedestrian crossing to cross the hume highway to work, I hid in the shelter of a truck and as such the sequence was slower and a car launched into me at a negligable 10kph.
This was because I had done something unpredictable in order to stay slightly less drenched than I would have been and indeed was already. I arrived at work with a buckled wheel looking much the drowned rat. visability and traction are poor in the rain so be extra predictable even to the point of obeying all the road rules.

And that's it. That's how to stay alive and not piss anyone off on the road. Be predictable, and in the rain be even more predictable. If you want to have a conversation pick another sport, or at least be conscious of people that ride just to get from A to B.

The Emperors New Clothes

Genius is a title bestowed lightly on just about everyone. Thanks to numerous criteria its never been easier to be a genius. For example, if you make a comic book adaptation that is just about inferior in every way to the texts it was based upon but it makes a lot of money you are a genius. Also if you create 3 annoying characters appearing on tv week after week depicting them to the annoyance of many and flesh out an inconsequential plot line to provide the minimum progress necessary to lift you above catch phrase comedy you are also a genius.
And if you create a truly unique and original show out of a simple premis that doesn't make much money and is given absurdly obscure scheduling you are also a genius.

But my friend described a movie quite brilliantly when they said it was a bit of the 'emperor's new clothes' I can't remember what it was, maybe/probably mulholland drive that is completely impenatrable unless you look up interviews where Lynch describes the themes and archetypes and subtext you being not in possession of the 6th sense where quite justified in not extracting from the content of the film presented to you.
And 'emperor's new clothes' like the allegory fairytale possible the first exposure any child gets to the concept of try-hards and posuers (I wonder if there is an eastern equivalent?) means that people pretend to get what the fuck was going on in order to appear intelligent and not stupid.
I best like Morley's categorisation of films like 2001 and Mulholland Drive as 'not a film, it's a bunch of scenes' and one film that tickles the boundary is Donny Darko.
Today I wasted 3 hours of my life watching Southland Tales. I never thought I would ever see a movie worse than 'Dream One' an obscure Swedish film my dad rented on VHS to entertain us stupid kids at a dinner party. And to give you some perspective on how bad and obscure this film was I couldn't find reference to it on THE INTERNET.
This could be it, but I'm pretty sure it involved a giant beach ball?
Anyway, the problem with tickling is that whilst tickling a clitiros may seem like a good idea, it's a bit sensitive when it comes to direct stimulation and can only take so much. Donny Darko may have lucked out as a masterpiece by having strong enough performances from the cast and the nonsensical plot being close enough to a closed loop as to allow one to walk away satisfied, maybe a little confused as to what you had just consumed but a full stomach non-the-less. I enjoyed when the lights came up in the cinema the full force of the emperors new clothes effect when other audience members would spin around and try and demonstrate the 'don't you get it what happened was...' and then as they laid out their versions of what had happened they noticed that what they thought they had figured out was not sufficiently supported or particularly relevant.
Anyway at least Donny Darko succeeded in making several people at least feel something, brought some respect to whatsherface, put Patrick Swazye back out there and launched Jake Gyllenhaal's career.

Southland tales does none of this. Its shit, last year around this post christmas time I watched Hannibal Rising, and was amazed that such a bad film could ever get made, and such obvious mistakes be made in this day and age yet here I am a full year later looking at the burning carcass of Southland Tales etched into my retinas and thinking 'what the fuck? again?' and let's put this straight in 2007/2008 Southland tales grossed $365,000ish dollars. With a budget of $15 or $17 MILLION dollars it suggests that its boxoffice takings likely wouldn't have paid for the film stock.

I watched it knowing nothing, so it opens up and I think, okay, I'm watching a film like Spellbound/mad hot ballroom or something a documentary set in the southern states of America. Then a nuclear bomb goes off and I think, okay cool I can always watch an apocalyptic movie in the vain of Children of Men/The Road/The Myst etc shot in the style of Jericho.
Then I start thinking I'm playing Command and Conquer again as an interface opens up and fills me in on the hypothetical consequences of a nuclear attack in Texas, it is a prologue reminiscent of one of the worst post production decisions in history which is that of David Lynch's 'Dune' (which I'm told will be remade) in that it is poorly done, convoluted and contains far too much information that by the time we land in the film and are introduced to the narrator we are confused and it never get's easier.

Too many ideas. And that's ultimately the shit sandwhich you are left with a Sci-fi/Headfuck/Comedy/Mokumentary/Allegory. There are characters they easily could have just cut out of the movie, I thought for a moment the movie had some merits and would prove surprisingly interesting, like a 360 degree attack on all the douchebags that had profited from the war on terror, the douchebag politicians that suspended civil liberties and the douchebag social alternative groups that claimed the problems of the day somehow legitimised their long discredited alternative - the bogus dilemma of our times 'capitalism or socialism' is the new damned if you do, damned if you don't that probably serves to prop up capitalism.

Anyway if the film had been about that it would have been arguably worth the money even if it didn't make any at least as a text to study or a message to get across it could be justified.
In the end, it just didn't go anywhere, didn't make any sense, had impressive visual effects in some scant parts, plenty of non-sensical sequences, plenty of allusions to significance of bits that turned out to have no significance, dragged the fine work of Jane's addiction down with it, inexplicable inclusion of midgets, a pointless story, shifting premisis, poor characters, poor dialogue and shit in a zip lock bag.

Actually shit in a zip locked bag would have made Southland Tales better, the movie unfortunately does not contain shit in a zip locked bag.
It's just a fucking piece of shit that deserves to be buried up margeret thatchers cunt with her.

I think though here is a lesson about economics, investment and finance in general. It is Warren Buffett's sage advice to 'not invest in things you don't understand' a policy that saw him pass on Microsoft. Doesn't matter to Buffett he's still the world's richest man most of the time.
But if you were a producer and you saw that Donny Darko made a lot of money, so you saw the film, you would probably then sit back and say 'okay if I'm truly honest with myself I don't understand why this made a lot of money' and you would not have given a couple of million to the guy who promptly would turn it into $20,000 for you.
This was easy to understand with Donny Darko, and should have resulted in Southland Tales not ever being made. For Hanibal Rising I would concede that it may have been harder. But maybe you would look at the success of Silence of the Lambs, and the oscars it took home, and then the ten years interviening it and Red Dragon and the oscars it didn't take home and look at the box office returns and say 'okay it was a long awaited sequal, generated a lot of buzz, got a good crowd turnout who found it inferior to the original' you can understand why it made money but then realised that wasn't sustainable in the long run. So when you released Hannibal you could have said 'okay, obviously there were less intervening years so there was less buzz about the franchise returning, fans didn't like it as much as the original still, but the loyal fans obliging put out their money' understanding how it did make money should have said 'quit while you are ahead' and not 'force the author to write an origin piece by threatening to give his precious intellectual property you've licensed to some hack in order to line your own pockets' resulting in a cliched, dull and uninspired catch of buzzwords and bullfuck where you surrender the one man carrying the franchise being Anthony Hopkins.

Anyway the moral of the story is that on average people are average and genius should not be used lightly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Island of Yoshi

About two weeks ago, I pulled up to one of my favored bike lock up post things and locked up my bike. Not remarkable in itself.
But I saw a guy that was dressed well enough to be Japanese, yet dark in complexion enough to be south east asian. He was pottering back and fourth making those unmistakable, 'I'm a confused Japanese man' neck jerks. They really are that distinct when you've seen it. Body language isn't always universal.
Anyway as I peeled off my gloves I walked closer and spied katakana on his travel guide. Now any fucking tool can have katakana on their shirt these days, but if its on the cover of a book they are either yet another uncreative graphic designer or a genuine Japanese person.
So I said 'Suimasen' then again louder to actually get the guys attention. Which happened, I asked him if he was from Japan which was a redundant question really and as he was saying 'hai' I just rattled on with 'where are you looking for' he showed me an address in Sydney, which was actually my error, I retook a look and noticed it was a chain of mobile phone shops and there was one in little bourke st.
A valuable insight, 'lt.' does not mean much to foreigners, and as Iconic as lt. bourke, lt. collins and of course flinders lane are it really is a problem that must happen often.
Nevertheless the guy was standing on lt. collins and swanston st so he was past the mark anyway.
I took him to the store and the address he was looking for and made some small talk.
Then because of that omnipresent book title that rings in my ears 'Never eat alone' which I'm not sure I can accept, sometimes I like to eat alone so I can catch up on reading, or just take a break from people I see the whole rest of the day.
Anyway I invited him to lunch.
The inevitable dilemma of anyone who invites a tourist to lunch in Australia, and particularly in the Melbourne CBD is what the fuck do you feed them? On the cheap side there is Chinese food, and Japanese people think lamb smells like sheep, or some other incomprehensible objection, so with the kebab gone you've wiped out the whole other cheap eat alternative.
So we had chinese. We talked, mostly me in Japanese and then I gave him my number figuring that a guy trusting enough to have lunch with me on my turf was bound to get in trouble sooner or later. Just like in Europe when I used to ask hobo's to hold my money belt while I unlocked my bike in the early days.
Then the next day I got another lunch invite and took him to Degraves st, then to kanga kanga magazine store where I was lucky enough to remember vaguely where it was from the one time Harvard took me there.
Then I showed him where he could buy manga in english if he wanted to practice.

Then silence for about a week, then another lunch invite. This resulted in my Japanese multiplying into both Yoshi from Kobe famous for its beef and the namesake of Kobe Bean Bryant of NBA fame and Koji from Saitama, apparantly not famous for anything though I know I've heard of it a fair few times before.
It also resulted in a more comprehensive tour of Melbourne, where I thought I'd fast track what had taken me about 5 years to discover all the places you can buy Japanese merchandise into one afternoon.
Then I waved goodbye and dissapeared.

The next invite was to a party and the number of Japanese people jumped from 2 to 8. This means that within 3 weeks I have actually broken into a Japanese social circle comparably at IH it took 1.5 years or so to get into the Nippon Club as a Juniour member on a trial membership basis, so that's pretty amazing.
It's also pretty dissapointing that within 3 weeks Yoshi could have so many new Japanese friends in Melbourne, at least his first new friend was Australian by virtue of getting lost.

But its great, and Joe's advice for needy tohm finally became fruitful after 2 years, when he said spring is a great time to help people because there's always tourists toting maps in the city. Also one of the girls at the party was wearing bigpants, I haven't seen a girl in bigpants since Chantelle was in first year, so it had some nostalgia.
I also joked about originally intending to lead Yoshi to a dark alley and stab him to death and take his wallet. The Japanese have no sense of humour. They all sort of stood around shocked and appalled until I explained that this was a joke.

check out my socks

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Obama Challange

Obama is better educated than me, no doubt has more friends on facebook, earns more money than me, is blacker than I am and crucially come February will have been President of the United States of America longer than I have.
He has two autobiographies published before he took office and has a bunch of kids. So what I'm saying here is that

this post isn't about me. It's about President Elect Barack Obama. Now throughout the lengthy primary and presidential campaigns I constantly heard about Obama's eloquence, yet never did I witness Obama being eloquent.
Well spoken, yes. Inspirational? Not really, at best he said things like Kevin Rudd, that were catching up to the tail end of progressive thinkers, that are neither remarkable nor rare.
I heard, faciously that the statement 'Obama is very eloquent' made by notables such as Hilary was actually thinly veiled racism with the unspoken end to that thought being '...for a black man'
Which is funny in the wrong way, particularly if there was any community more responsible for propelling the use of english to new heights, its the hip-hop producing artists of the late 80's and early 90's.
But there may be more truth to the statement 'Obama is eloquent, for a politician' because let's face it, success in politics has become the 'say nothing do nothing' formula.

When I switched onto the first presidential debate of McCain v Obama, I patiently sat for 45 minutes waiting for a fight to break out. It never did. If there was ever a piece of history not worth recording, it is that debate.
What a complete waste of time.
So maybe the answer is simply that Obama is eloquent, like My Chemical Romance is hard rock these days. Unimpressive to me, who is unimpressive to the masses, therefore impressive. Which isn't to say that I'm special, I think there are other people out there like me who feel nothing but disdain for the collapse of both hip-hop and alternative rock just as often as we've been burned by would be reformers that ended up being ringpieces like Kevin Rudd.

SO I thought I'd go check out wikiquote, that repository of eloquence, before I cast my vote on the Obama's speaking prowess, particularly since I saw a book that professes to teach me 'how to speak like Obama' something I personally wont buy because Obama doesn't drop the f or c bomb as often as I would even when it has no gramattical substance.
Anyway, I read through 2/3rds of the wikiquote entry before I thought, no. Not in the league of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, George Orwell, Eleanore Roosevelt, Arundhati Roy, Goerge Orwell, Mark Twain, Ulysses Grant etc. But then I thought, that's not fair, comparing him to people who lived through extraodinary times, and have retrospectively been bestowed greatness upon them. Particularly litarary figures who are not as accountable to a scrutinising public as Politicians on major party tickets are.

Except from the past come all benchmarks, example - In basketball Micheal Jordan is still the stick by which all greatness in basketball is measured, Phil Jackson for coaching, Shaq for big physical centers, Kareem for scoring dominance, Bill Russell for grabbing boards, Larry Bird for clutch shooting, Magic Johnson for passing game. Etc. Every rookie going through the league gets a following in proportion to their greatness measured against such yardsticks as Jordan and Johnson.

So take a rookie season in sport like Kevin Durant's 07-08 season and you'd say durant was a great player, Rookie of the Year in fact. Just like you might say Obama is head and shoulders in eloquence above the rest of the presidential contenders of the 08 election. But is that the standard that democracy and our leadership candidates are measured by?
Well let's look to basketball as always for the answer again, this years Rookie of the Year race is between OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Micheal Beasley and about two more all boasting better stats than Durant's rookie season. Derrick Rose declared on being drafted by Chicago that he didn't just want to be ROY. He was gunning for MVP. That is he wanted not just to be best of the inexperienced freshmen, but best of all the pros. Something that no doubt would have required a better rookie year than Magic, than Jordan, than Kareem, than Shaq.
That's what Obama should be gunning for, that's what they all should be gunning for being the best of all time, not just the best man/woman for the job.

My dad says that on election night Gough Whitlam was already making reform decisions, pulling troops out of Vietnam. And that that's the measure for reform. I see Obama being careful and pragmatic. Kevin Rudd is pragmatic. Politically pragmatic and actual pragmatic are also too very different jobs.
Remember that it is apparantly pragmatic to favor jobs in unsustainable resource and energy sector jobs over sustaining a habital biosphere on planet earth.

Anyway there is a fair comparison of Obama's eloquence - Ron Paul. Universally reviled presidential candidate. Also features on Wikiquote, let's make a comparison I call the 'Obama' challange. If Obama wins maybe I will permit myself an 'Audatios hope' that he may genuinly represent reform. But my default setting is unfortunately change I don't believe will ever happen.
Can you pick what is said by Obama and what is said by Ron Paul?

1. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

2. Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.

3. Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. The true antidote to racism is liberty.

4. No person, in any culture, likes to be bullied. No person likes living in fear because his or her ideas are different. Nobody likes being poor or hungry, and nobody likes to live under an economic system in which the fruits of his or her labor go perpetually unrewarded.

5. At times, American foreign policy has been farsighted, simultaneously serving our national interests, our ideals, and the interests of other nations. At other times American policies have been misguided, based on false assumptions that ignore the legitimate aspirations of other peoples, undermine our own credibility, and make for a more dangerous world.

6. The most important element of a free society, where individual rights are held in the highest esteem, is the rejection of the initiation of violence. All initiation of force is a violation of someone else's rights, whether initiated by an individual or the state, for the benefit of an individual or group of individuals, even if it's supposed to be for the benefit of another individual or group of individuals. Legitimate use of violence can only be that which is required in self-defense.

7. Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. ... Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.

8. You got these $10,000-a-plate dinners and Golden Circles Clubs. I think when the average voter looks at that, they rightly feel they're locked out of the process. They can't attend a $10,000 breakfast and they know that those who can are going to get the kind of access they can't imagine.

9. The constant refrain that bringing our troops home would demonstrate a lack of support for them must be one of the most amazing distortions ever foisted on the American public.

10. We have a lot of goodness in this country. And we should promote it, but never through the barrel of a gun. We should do it by setting good standards, motivating people and have them want to emulate us. But you can't enforce our goodness, like the neocons preach, with an armed force. It doesn't work.

Okay here's the answers, 1. BO 2. RP 3. RP 4. BO 5. BO 6. RP 7. RP 8. BO 9. RP 10. RP

SO there you go, seems that the Ron Paul was unfortunately born a republican and as such cannot ever be president.

The moral of the story is, that don't let yourself think you've elected Chuck D when infact you've elected Kevin Rudd. That's racist.

The moral for me, if somebody like obama can be described as a 'rockstar' and Gilbert Arena's get's his campaign slogan tattoed on his fingers then maybe I can get invited to Paolo's housewarming party even though he forbid me from attending because I'm too 'over 30' (I'm 25)

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Thankyou metal, thankyou fear factory, faith no more, sepultura, soul fly, deftones, sevendust, system of a down, rage against the machine and yes even korn. Thankyou black sabath, ac/dc. deep purple and the beatles for 'helter skelter'. Thanks Nirvana for your heavier shit, Pearl Jam for 'Animal', Sound Garden, Rollins Band, Metallica, Barbarion and especially thankyou Tool.
Thanks metal for being there always, more than any other, any time, any place for me. For moving me.

For making me feel.

For making music with a nutsack in it. For the anger, the hurt, the hope, the redemption, the euphoria, the energy, the drive, the ambition, the fury, the love, the quiet times, the happiness. You metal are all this and more.

Thankyou for the knowledge that there is not a day in my life I cannot come home to you metal.

Thanks to Joe, my councillor for having heard it all before. For having the know how to tell me I was not special, to just take it and run with it and discover who I am.

I still am, and I'm so glad you set me on this path. You didn't care in any non-professional sense and you said it would be okay. And I can't thank you enough for saying that.

I don't know if I would have died without your help but it felt like it at the time. A few years later I'd actually request to be killed in an Indian hospital, and that was a pretty dissapointing self discovery, that I'd give up in the face of mere paralysing pain.

But nevertheless, you got me sleeping agian, got me working, focused and my life became better than it ever was before. It was truly above and beyond. And thankyou.

Thanks to Claire, for making the call. I know you weren't trying to do me any favors, but it was the right decision in perhaps the wrong circumstances.

You woke me from a deep, deep sleep and even though it took a while to find out where I was, the waking world

is beautiful.

Thanks Takehiko Inoue, as nerdy as it is to admit, as a manga artist you're probably one of the most influential artists in my life.

Slam Dunk taught me about true love, real love, a love that's inexpressable, a love of the game. And you expressed it.

In Vagabond you introduced me to Miyamoto Musashi, the most incredible man to have ever lived. You captured the Japan I long for, the unspoilt society, the love of nature, the thinking Japan with nothing to prove.

You painted the land, and you chose the right words. You've taught me what it is to truly experience and appreciate something. Twice over. You taught me love.

These are just some overdue thankyous, incase I die before I get a chance to share them.

This is for you, whoever you are. Try and enjoy it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Good Day

The bells woke me up around 7 in the morning. The room I had in Venice was stocked with furniture that all locked with those old brass keys. It reminded me of my Nana's house. Being woken by the church bells in Venice is surreal. Like falling through a wormhole and ending up in the renaissance.
I got up and packed all my bags, showered so I could hit the streets. I was going to buy a necklace for my next girlfriend. I was also determined to actually get lost in Venice, because apparantly it is inevitable. I had found that all roads seemed to lead to exactly where I wanted to go.
I was looking for the local carb + mozzarella dish that was eaten on the streets and eventually found a pizza place. What I couldn't find again was the store where I had bought my necklace. I ended up virtually canvasing the entirety of Venice. Passing the same streets 3 times trying to remember where that mystical little shop was. I was contemplating reluctantly buying a poor substitute for my next girlfriend, or taking it as a sign from on high that I wasn't going to have a next girlfriend.
But this was Italy, where work hours did not follow any convention. And on my seventh pass of a particular street there the store was, I bought the necklace and as if fearing the store would disappear again with the tide, grabbed one of the dudes business cards to convince myself it wasn't some mirage.
Then to stall the awkwardness of having a bike in Venice, the least practical city for cycling in the world, I grabbed a gelati and figured out I'd only have to climb 4 bridges minimum to get my bike onto what I hoped was a road.
Then I went back to my room 4 let and changed into my cycling gear, loaded up my bicycle. Returned my keys to the landlady who was perhaps the only unhappy person I ever met in italy then I simply shut the world out and concentrated on lugging my bike in and out of Venice proper.
I am pretty used to getting stared at for doing stuff that's actually really boring, like wearing knee high socks, and Venice is mostly tourists so its not like I actually respected anyone that was judging me. nevertheless I wanted it over with quickly.
When I finally got to the bus depot 30 minutes later it was 2pm in the afternoon and I had precious little daylight to get to Padua with. Suddenly from amongst a crowd of Italian students a girl emerged and made an 'awww' noise when she saw me pushing my bicycle across what must have been a bunch of bridges. And it made my day. I laughed at myself. Then I got on my bike and rode out onto this:
It exists therefore I'm not crazy to take a bike to Venice
And that was a good day.

Yesterday, I overcame my recent fear of exercise and got out on the bike and rode down to brighton. Then I headed back to town and really needed to eat something. So I went to KFC because these exercise fueled hungers are rare excuses to eat really poorly (albeit having the money to buy bad food is a pretty good and pretty frequent excuse).
But the guy behind the counter was just so enthusiastic, he reminded me of the girl in Coco's in Takematsu when I was having a shitty time. He was so thorough that I was moved and just didn't stop smiling. It was what I imagined people thought they experienced in Thailand with customer service.
Then I got on my bike to visit Zaman. He watches 'Deal or No Deal' every day wondering why I'm not on the show winning free money. It was a great show because the contestant won absolutely nothing in the end.
He just got out of hospital having his leg fixed which was funny. I was able to give him advise on how to scratch his itches beneath the plaster. Then he told me his family got accepted to come to Australia and immediately stuck his hand out to shake mine. And it will be one of those million dollar handshakes you only get so many of in your lifetime. It is great to be on the periphery of this amazing man's life.
I mean people talk about how hard their parents worked to provide for them growing up, and in most cases that's bullshit. I mean my dad worked 'hard' in a western sense, went to uni, got a good job, paid for private tuition of all his offspring.
Zaman on the other hand dealt with religious persecution in Afghanistan, fled to Pakistan with his family, got shipped to Jordan, Iran, Dubai, back to Pakistan and so fourth until he said good bye to his family 6 years ago, got on a people smuggling boat, went to Australia, got shipped by thearmy in Nauru. Lived in a tent on Nauru for 6 months, got admitted to Australia, issued a TPV, told to wait 5 years. Battled with depression and suicide, got a shit paying job, recovered sent money home to his family. Got happier. Studied English with a shitty volunteer tutor (me), got his visa after waiting 5 years to be acknowledged as a refugee, waited another year till now when he finally has clearance to bring his family out. And all that went into one handshake and a smile at me and I'm sure anyone else he has met. The struggle was over and I found out yesterday. That's a good day.

For some reason Miki's decision to stay over must have been spur of the moment. And now she was asking to borrow some clothes. Recognizing a rare opportunity to play dress ups with this porcelain doll of a girl, I immediately picked out a set of impractical clothing. A plain white shirt, my Orlando Magic Shaq 32 jersey (it hugged my curves and was obviously a junior size so it fit her pretty well) some baggy basketball shorts, a headband and my white with pink star knee high socks.
She obliged for more incomprehensable reasons, but was dissapointed to discover that as an early riser I had taken the time to place all her makeup out of reach.
It was then up to me to persuade her to go for a walk. My green plastic Seijoh high-school slippers that had earnt me much derision over the years were described by her as 'perfect' to wear.
She was chicken shit about going out in public dressed as Shaq, which i found adorably ironic. Fortunately Liam backed me up by talking about how 'awesomely cool' she looked.
She relented and we went to the bakery remarking that she 'better not meet anyone I know' which she did, almost immediately when we arrived at the bakery. Her Japanese friend gave her shit by greeting her 'hey, yo yo!' in all her homeboy gear.
She got over her embarassment quickly though and went back to being the usual enthusiastic misaki we all know and love.
We bought muffins and some drinks. It was like 40 degrees that day, and we went to sit in Princes Park. There were no ducks to behold because the pond had dried up to its concrete banks.
We hung out for a while and then took a walk home via Royal Park. Where Misaki both panicked at seeing the corpse of a dead bird "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" and was one of those highly amusing overreactions, and then proceeded to almost faint from heat exhastion. I eventually had to buy bottled water and wet my hat in its entirety before forcebly slapping it on her head and she finally relented that covering her jet black hair with a hat sure did cool her down a lot.
Then we went home and she sat in front of the fan for most of the day. We ventured out and bought something for dinner. Probably chicken. It was a sunday. It was possibly my favorite day so far.

Why Practical Doesn't cut it.

John left this comment, and I was just going to post a comment reply but then quickly realised it was going to be as lengthy as a blog post anyway and was interesting to do. Anyway he posted this in my "Rules for Cool" (what an ironic title) =

You should try living in Timor... You can always tell the new arrivals, their colours are brighter, they try a little harder to be fashionable, they wear shoes that they don't want to get scuffed up on the uneven pavement or that don't protect them from the mud/dust that is constantly throughout Dili's streets. After a few months, everything becomes much grubbier, much more low key and much more practical.

In fact, that's a key point. Cool is practical. I'll happily spend $30 on a t-shirt if it's comfortable and fits me well. I can literally count on my fingers the number of comfortable t-shirts that fit me really well that I have owned in my life and only 1 of them has been a Savers t-shirt (thank you Salmon for All).

When you live in a world surrounded by cheap Chinese products that break after 2 uses you start to equate price with quality. I couldn't give a shit about brand names, in fact, as much as possible I want to pay for quality over brand name. Unfortunately, because I'm not willing to spend too much time shopping, unless they spend money on marketing I'm never going to hear about them...

That all said, as much as I like to be practical, I still love The Sartorialist.

Paying for quality, I agree with in principal. Don't get me wrong, these are rules for being cool, not practicality. I don't for one second endorse 'being cool' and wearing a chesty bond singlet ripped old jeans and $2 thongs to work if you are a fireman, even on a low fire danger day in the middle of june, there's always nutcases wanting to burn down their house with their family inside so they can be together for ever.
If practicality fits in it's in Rule number 3. Which is self referenced. I ride a bicycle everywhere. So whilst it's acceptable for me to say wear armwarmers and cycle shirts and those little caps with almost no brim it isn't for my holden driving friends.
What's acceptable for my holden driving friends is shirts that say 'fat chicks shoot em don't root em' because that is practical for explaining to the officer that you hit the cyclist cause your a fuckwit without having to open your mouth.
It isn't practical though for me to wear my ill fitting cut-off big pants with low hanging crotch seems on my bicycle as they tear through. And I'm pretty sure they are neither cool nor flattering. I just like big pants cut off into shorts. SO I break the rules from time to time. They are more practical than pants which get caught in the chain though.

But practicality isn't enough! I'm sure thai-fishermans pants are practical in their proper context, they became fashionable though and billabong and rip curl released expensive versions. Thongs are practical for the beach, that doesn't make $20 haviana's cool. That's why rule number 1 is 'cool is cheap' if you buy a cheap chinese manufactured shirt that falls apart after two uses, it wasn't cheap. Just calculate your budget for clothing if you have to a $2 shirt every two days. That's $1 per day or $365 for shirts for a year, so yeah it is way cheaper to just buy a $30 shirt. It's also way cheaper to buy a second hand $30 shirt for $4. So that's why I say cheap is cool, and I hate/love to punch below the belt, but John is a 7-1 monster that maybe has to get shirts tailored for him to ever fit well and maybe would have to wear my big pants to achieve regular pants, so you aren't really a statistically valid sample John where as I am joe average.

Secondly, it is not inconcievable that after Australian tourists dub Thailand too expensive and too 'touristy' they may migrate to Timor Leste to transmogriphy it into a new Thailand/Bali. And that's where it also isn't inconcievable that Aussie bogans wanting to bring a piece of the magic of Timor home with them will inevitably take those practical local considerations home and the next thing you know we will have slappers walking around Hawthorn in Rip-curl branded Timor Leste mud resistant clothing as their parents chow down on timorese coffee and lament at how touristy timor has become.
And then in comes the margin, if people followed my rules for cool we would erect what is called a barrier for entry and rule number 1 would work like this.

Take two identical terry towling hats, one branded by a company that wants to mass market it and the other from an op shop. the op shop hat costs $2, therefore it can be considered in the realm of cool. The other hat, whilst possessing identical practical and stylistic characteristics is $20 and therefore cannot be cool.
That's how its supposed to work. Anything pricey is simply not cool. Fuck it that's how it does work. As soon as something cool is mass marketed by a company that mass markets it because there is margin in it for them it probably isn't cool.
Cool hunters never hang up their hats. They didn't look at Insane Clown Posse's cameo exhibition match on WWF and hang up their hats thinking they had taken an underground Nu Metal band to the mainstream and cool hunger would be sated for a while. Because the instant they did the obscure fans that used to think Insane Clown Posse was cool decided that they had 'sold out' and switched their attention instead to artists they thought were cool like A Simple Plan.
But this vicious cycle of opinion leader meets cool hunter, cool hunter takes opinion leaders' opinions, opinion seeker meets cool hunter, cool hunter sells opinion leaders' opinions to opinion seeker, opinion leaders meet opinion seeker, opinion leader incredibly fucked off at how opinion seeker 'doesn't get it' forms new opinions, opinion leader meets cool hunter... that cycle can be broken if the cool hunter were to ask 'and what if Insane Clown Posse were to charge $120 for their merchandise would you still buy it?' people said 'what are you a moron, that would violate cool rule #1, by definition it wouldn't be cool so why would I buy it. I'd just probably wait until I saw it dumped in some op-shop somewhere and buy it for $4'

Lastly the Sartorialist, I don't know, for scathing criticisms of current trends bikesnob NYC does it for me. Taking photos of street fashion is A) a rip of of fruits magazine, the most ripped off cool hunting mag in the world and B) precisely what cool hunting is, seeking out people bold enough to formulate their own self referenced (RUle #3) style and showing it to unimaginative people all over the world as a reference point for them to pretend to be interesting. I own fruits magazine compendiums so I must include myself in this but I've never met an interesting designer that takes inspiration from harajuku. It's been fucking done people, in harajuku.

Maybe this is a simpler fashion rule: If somebody has taken a photo of it already it is no longer creative. (pronounced PERIOD)

But yo, John is a wise man, check out his blog, he updates it Bi-annualy but the posts are always worth reading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rules for Cool

Everybody it seems is a designer now. The advent of T-bar and other 'custom shirt' businesses has meant now everybody can obtain that unique look. Maybe we are at an apex of affluency.
I'm sure I will always hate fashion trends amongst teenagers, I hated them when I was a teenager and they were the bogus dilemma of surf brands or goth. And 99% of balifornians chose surf brands.
I hated emo, I hated skatepunk, and I hate this 'hipster' style that's emerged. The only trend I ever really liked was grunge, and with major recession around the corner maybe it will make a comeback.
Give a teenager money and I will show you a loser. Take their money away and they become winners. I guess their rebelliousness is justified in economic downturns, their elders have clearly fucked everything up. And since it's a cycle their elders are probably engaged in the process of fucking things up in the good times too.

But enough, I think I have come up with my own subjective rules for how to be cool and not piss me off. Because if everyone's cool, then cool it certainly isn't. It's that endless income stream for coolhunters, find what's cool, sell it to the massmarket, it isn't cool anymore, find what's cool. The more efficient marketing efforts get, the more you have to change style, meaning the more money comes out of your pocket on regretable fashion choices.

Of course some people have the power to simply say what is cool and be taken seriously. Am I one of those people? Probably not. But I have come up with some rules for cool that will at least thwart marketing companies intentions.

RULE 1: Cool is cheap.

I don't know how to adjust for inflation, but if you can get an item of clothing or accessory for about the same price as lunch out you are laughing. Ballarat op shops seemed to waver around the $2-3 mark. Savers in Brunswick was about the $5-6 mark.
The reason I feel cool has to be cheap is because if its expensive then there is adequate margin in there for a company to pursue growth, and growth means market penetration, and that means mass marketing.
I'm not just talking second hand here, there's certain staples of fashion, classics if you will that are also cheap. Aviator sunglasses for $10 or less suit everybody. Chesty bond singlets provide a blank canvas to emphasise your shorts. $2 thongs from target/kmart/lowes complement your foot hair. And of course DIY haircuts.

RULE 2: Cool has been done before.

This might be really going against the grain, but there should be nothing cutting edge about coolness. If so you get sucked into the current trap of 'limited edition' artist designed Air Force 1 sneakers. See the Airforce 1 sneaker is a pretty retro shoe of itself. Just like in the 80's A Spiderman comic was a pretty fun read in and of itself. It was the limted edition foil collector covers that lured in the morons, and it's the limited edition designer shoe that lures the morons now.
You don't want anything you wear to be a collector piece. JUst like these days you don't want to waste water washing your car. I'll allude to the classics again - chuck taylors, non-endorsed licensed-design Vans are also good, aviators, old band shirts that were cool (but try to avoid the 80's all together), old moth eaten mambo shirts from your Balifornian days, Aviators, Aviators, Aviators.
And of course the big one, the second hand goods. Second hand clothing seems to be still predominantly populated by 80's stuff. But one thing I like to do is walk in nd just buy some inconspicuous slacks and cut them into shorts. If second hand goes a long way to being cool then marketing companies are bound to be confounded because how can they second hand new overpriced goods for mass consumption? I mean sure there was the pre-slashed jeans in the 80's that companies tried to sell but that was plainly apparantly stupid. If you need a company to slash your jeans for you you need a company to stamp moron in red ink on the back of your hand.
Otherwise, you can relax, your peers who require catalogues, models and general reference from society to be comfortable about what they wear will never impose on your second handedness.

RULE 3: Cool is Self-referential

I never wore skate shoes because I never skated. My dad bought me a pair of black Vans once that I wore on two occasions when I managed to thoroughly drench my own shoes. They were like wearing really boxy pillows strapped around my feet. They were of course designed with the utility of skating in mind. Hence the overlarge toe caps to ensure you never ground through the canvas and ripped out a toe nail, the bulky rubber soles to absorb the impact of hitting concrete all the time and so on and so fourth.
If you happen to skate, skate shoes are unquestionably awesome. If you play basketball, basketball apparal is a winner. If you cycle, even the dreaded fixed gear those cycling caps are acceptable. If you are an artist, wearing t-shirts imprinted with your own designs (and if you are really confident, tattoos) is totally cool. If you like helping your struggling artist friends by buying their crappy t-shirts that's cool too. If you are into fashion, then just wear a diamond studded ball gown.
Wear things that are you, not everyone else and certainly not who you want to be. Ben Stiller's comment in Starsky and Hutch "Just be yourself, that's what's really cool" is actually the crux of all rules for cool. If you can't skate, don't want to skate and are afraid of skating, don't wear skate gear.
If you can't surf, don't like swallowing gallons of sea water and sand, and only hit the beach during 'beach weather' don't wear surfgear.
If you are a loser that cries about life and doesn't do anything to better it, by all means dress up like an emo.
If you don't play basketball, can't name a player's jersey outside of Jordan's 23 and are afraid of not getting picked for a team, don't wear basketball gear.
Then there's the ones that should be really obvious, like if you aren't a thai fisherman don't wear thai fisherman's pants. If you aren't a greek fisherman, don't wear greek fisherman's hats.
The ambiguous ones are army cams, obviously the rule should be 'if you aren't in the army, don't wear army cams' however Aussie Disposals should be one of those stores up in the rule number 1. It is fucking cheap comparatively speaking. And classic.
I guess the big hitch though with self referential, the ultimate test is if you are ever putting on clothes and you actually worry what other people will think, or whether other people will be wearing it, or even worry that a bouncer won't let you in you have failed rule 3.
Self referential doesn't just mean clothes should say something about you. It means your attitude is such that clothes can say something about you, other than 'I just want to fit in'. You must control the choice of what you wear, the clothes conform to your standards. A good way to observe the opposite is to read the meandering descriptions of what people are wearing in American Psycho.
"Price is wearing a suit by Armani, Shirts by Hugo Boss and a Croata company tie." that's all the description you get of Tim Price, and of course it changes every time the character changes clothes. You get the impression however that these descriptions are meant to mean something, but in the end they don't, they can't, they won't.
The logical error of so much fashion faux pars is that people believe that clothes can affirm the consequent "he wears an Armani suit, therefore he is a successful guy" or "she is wearing interesting clothes, therefore she is an interesting person" neither need be true, okay an Armani suit is expensive, but who's to say the person isn't a screwball given their suit by a wealthy relative for a wedding.
Yes you can read a lot into people by their clothes, but it isn't a system that can't be gamed, and people are trying to game it all the time.
The most common one being the second example of affirming the consequent above, trying to appear interesting. If you want to be interesting think. And think more than just thinking about clothes that would be interesting. Yoko Ono is interesting, your average fan of 'My Chemical Romance' or 'Muse' is not. The antecedant is the defining factor in what clothes you should wear. That is dress like who you are, not who you want to be. At the very least if you want to be a basketball star, this will get you focused on playing basketball instead of just buying the clothes.

And those are my rules for cool. They are just mine, I made them up. But I try to live by them. Am I cool? Who the fuck are you to tell me if I'm cool or not?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Focus On Asia, I Mean Really Focus: A Guide for White People

The double edged sword of racism, on the one hand I'm sure the views I'm about to express will belittle the many peoples of Asia who don't read my blog by suggesting their aspirations to affluence have been largely shaped through superficial observation of the west and developed nations and are thus inherantly flawed. On the other hand the people who should be really offended are white people, who don't think about things in general and are just plain stupid in the condescending view they often adopt.

Anyway disclaimers aside let me begin, walking around the CBD the mix is roughly 50% International Uni-Students predominantly from Asian nationalities and 50% everybody else. It's the sort of site that once beheld by my grandmother would prompt the unnecessary need for her to incorectly and inflamatorily remark 'Asian's are taking over Australia'.

Australia is Asia. Europeans are the only people to formally overtake it in the form of invasion. Until some Asian nation has us declared legally part of the fauna, there's no need to get bitter.

Alas when I behold this site I think "Man, if these girls actually just wore price tags attached to their clothes it would still seem okay to me." it was a funny thought to have and I made note of it. It was later it came to make sense, and that was that these women of the CBD looked like walking store mannequins. They were literally following the fashion literature so precisely that what was tricking my brain out was this: My brain is so used to associating these images with brand + price descriptions eg. 'katie wears GJ top $45, pants by Poopoo $175 and slippers from Nordick $70' that upon seeing these people walking around actually dressed in such coordinated fashion that my mind of its own will starts looking for the price tags.

This fortuitously was just another data point on my 'things about white people I am learning too late' study that started in Japan.
In Japan you might be walking along a path in a Kyoto temple admiring the cherry blossoms or autumn maple leaves like you are supposed to you dumb fuck and you stumble on a step and catch yourself on an exquisite bamboo railing.
The moment you touch the railing though your brain sends you an impulse that says 'woah, something isn't right here!' and you look again and notice the bamboo railing has infact been made out of concrete.

Fucking concrete! This isn't the only 'crazy' Japanese thing you'll come across. You my white friend might also grin and shake your head at the catastrophic overpass conglomeration down town. The 14 old dudes and ladies that escort you like a heavyweight champ around unnecessary roadworks. Potato on a pizza! Don't these quaint Japanese know it's supposed to be pineapple?

This experience though it is an experience and one often had by the western tourist is all too common. But there's a trick that I can say with certainty works in Japan, and I'm fairly certain works in China too. What you've got to do when guffawing into your hoodie sleeve on the Tokyo Metro at the business men reading cartoon pornography is imagine that the Japanese are "people".

Suddenly the craziness melts away and a lot of this stuff actually can be comprehended not as "crazy" but infact as "insidious". Except for the Potato pizza, that is just plain crazy, carbs on carbs. But making everything out of concrete is not because the 'quaint backwards monkey' you are used to viewing the progenators of the worlds second largest economy and equal cultural crown jewell to Italy as have a particular affinity and love of concrete. It's because their government is completely powerless against a beauracracy that siphons off public savings into overpriced kickback contracts to their mates to make excess amounts of concrete.
The pornography on the trains is a huge social problem that often reflects a very unhappy marriage behind it. The 14 roadworks safety escort committee members are infact hidden unemployment in a crippled struggling economy.

You see if you just imagine that these asians are people with the same feelings, hopes and desires as 'real people' as you might put it you start to see the problems for what they are. If you saw your best friends dad reading hard-core sadomasachistic pornography on the train home you'd probably just be outraged and disgusted and never want to eat dinner there again.
If you saw your grandmother waving people past a crack in the pavement with a baton you'd think the government was really pushing the envelope this time and probably storm town hall.

This is how to view Asian (and all cultures) equally, if you were in the Netherlands and just imagined those old dudes riding the length of the country (small country though it is) on a sunny Sunday as your dad you'd probably be really impressed. And if you imagined all the alternative energy sources in place over there as in place over here you'd probably be amazed to be living in some Utopia that could never be realised.

So too, you can head to China now. Now instead of remarking on how great it is the 'quaint backwards monkey people' can now eat McDonalds, Drink Coffee at Starbucks, Drive German Cars to the traffic jam and wear Nike shoes, you can instead remark on what horrible deceptive consolation prizes these are for people deprived of clean drinking water, representative government, rule of law, sanitation, public transport, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, right to fair trial, parkland, freedom from slavery, labour unions, collective bargaining, accessible higher education, scientific method determined medicine, universal health care, freedom of movement, private lives, road safety and of course stand up comedians.

It saddens me that the same old argument that because people can buy expensive things from well known brands they are better off than someone who can drink water from a tap without being hospitalized (or left to be picked apart by dogs in the street).
Largely, commentators who go and say how much better it is now that Asian's can get into credit card debt on consumer durables is to the old days under Mao aren't helping. They need to say 'things are superficially better, the Chinese now have retail therepy whereas before they had no treatment at all.'

Now I think you're ready white people to try this technique I call "Asian's are human beings too" out. Head to the CBD and walk around concentrating intensely on imagining that Asian people are people just like you.

What I realised is that unsurprisingly the dress sense and consumption behaviours by universal standards indicate a lack of maturity that is sad rather than enviable. 21 year old girls dressing up in stilletto heels and plastered in cosmetics whilst wearing some psuedo weave poncho over elaborate stockings and a large dangly necklace and diamond earings to walk around the CBD isn't elegant. It's exactly what you'd expect a 12 year old girl unleashed in 40 year old mummy's closet to pick out.

Guys dressing up like homeboys that are 22 is actually what was cool when between ages 12-16. Then if you were cool you just stopped trying, and thus stopped buying. Kung Fu Hustle, Kung Fu Dunk, Shaolin Soccer? These are the movies of morons. The Disneyesque 'High School Musical' equivalents of the orient. If you imagined watching them yourselfs you'd probably be dissapointed that the movies where a lot of colourful sparkle whilst tackling almost no issues or themes and resulted in being a complete conformist waste of time.

That said it's not all bad. Take Yuseke for example. When he turned up to basketball and I pictured him as a 'person' it turned out that he was far far cooler than anybody I've ever met. He had Iverson and Skip to My Loo basketball jerseys that were falling apart, outdoing my own pathetic Hakeem and Shaq circa Orlando Magic singlets (old school yes, worn in no).

So that's my tip white people for living in a globalised society. You have to imagine everyone now as people on equal footing. The ovarian lottery that says a human life has different value dependant on which state boundaries you are in is antiquated. Japanese women are as entitled to non-abusive respectful, romantic and loving relationships as any other women on earth. Chinese people are just as entitled to all the social reforms that build a robust society as all the developed nations trying to push 'capitalist' anti-human reforms now.

The sad thing some of you might reflect, is that it seems so painfully obvious that Asian's are people. That people are in fact people, and governed by the same powerful emotions and instincts the world over. You might think me condescending in saying that such a practice of 'seeing' is necessary, a thought exercise to elevate foreing people in the white persons process of evaluation? Well sadly my experience is that our 'education' in history, flag bashing national holidays and so fourth have lead us to believe that national boundaries are somehow genetic. And this has been going on for some time.

To take this one out here's George Orwell:

But is it really necessary, in 1947, to teach children to use expressions like "native" and "Chinaman"?

Form Conversation With New Girlfriends

ME: Yeah I was talking to (x) yesterday and...

NG: Who's (x)?

ME: (x) we used to date a while back. Hope you don't mind me talking to them.

NG: No, communicate by all means. Why did you break up with them?

ME: Oh no, I got dumped. I always get dumped.

NG: And you still talk to them?

ME: Yeah, I've gotten good at getting dumped. You'll appreciate it one day.

NG: Well... I hope not.

ME: Sure you're not planning on it now, but really the excitement wears off. But you'll appreciate the occasional interlude.

NG: Oh...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Self Employment is Interesting

I have to say, whilst not being easy I like being self-employed a lot. And not for the usual reasons - set your own hours, work at home, be your own boss.
It just makes a lot of sense. It's a very distortion free way of doing business. For example, it becomes aparant very quickly when you are spending time on something of no value. Every single decision you make is a data point to learn about your business because your business is your actions.
Literally, what time I get up in the morning is now a business decision. As a result I try to get up early every morning, I haven't lapsed into the sleep till 2pm model of just plain unemployment.
I make heaps of mistakes constantly, but I learn constantly as well. Like when I get bogged down in something because its urgent, not because its important. I learn more about customer relations, value adding, planning, budgeting etc in three months than i did in 3 years at Honda.
Yes, financially thus far it's not that lucrative. I live in a tent in a garage and won't be moving up to the west side any time soon.
But at the same time, the finances are honest too. You literally own the piece of work you are going to do, that work literally has a value, you do it and then at the end of the day its done.

Thus far my recommendations are:
1. Keep your living costs down so you can assume more risk.
2. Always go for the contract you want not the one you are given.
3. Try for things you are sure will be of value for the customer, not things you are sure you can do.
4. Chase failure in order to chase success.
5. Get feedback. Get mother fucking feedback on everything you do.
6. Know thyself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things that fuck me off right now

Prams. They come out of the woodwork during christmass shopping season, and its one of those times when I sympathise with dividing society into family friendly and normal people. Prams used to be little aluminium bars and a canvas thing for pushing your kids around in. Now they have wheels the size of my head, take up three square city blocks each and contain what I don't know... cans and cans of pedophile repellant.
I know the arguements, like you need it for nappies and sanitation. But clearly the double decker monstrosities can now pack so many 'necessities' you are really preparing to be ambushed in the middle of the desert by counterinsurgencies.
Prams fuck me off because stuff that was annoying before like people stopping to talk to eachother at the entry to an escalator for example becomes 3 times more annoying. And it doesn't help that pram design has turned into such a self indulgent statement. Here is how I would design a pram.

You only get one spare nappy because the days of lounging around in a cafe for 8 hours are behind you. This is a device for mobility so you at least as a parant are not a house bound slave. It only has two wheels and a little stand thing so you can prop it up while you fish out your wallet or something. The two wheels mean it can ideally be held upright so that as a unit you have only a slightly enlarged footprint than normal like having a backpack or whatever. It also means you aren't dependant on help every time you hit a staircase or try to get on a tram to go to the zoo. You just hoik the whole thing up and down because it isn't carrying your baby heart monitoring device, emergency iv fluid or baby defibrilator. It also doesn't have space for your counter terrorist gas masks or ground-to-air portable rocket launcher.

I guess it stems from a long seeded theory as to why prams bother me so much. I believe in moral universality. That is treat other people how you would treat yourself. In my current circumstances if a ship was sinking and there wasn't enough room in a lifeboat, I'd probably regret and be haunted for the rest of my days if I pulled a young man out of the boat and smashed his face into a wet, red pulpy mess of teeth, bone and grissle in order to clear room for myself. Instinctively its pretty bad to be so self centered and elevate myself in importance above my fellow man. No doubt it would be a dilemma for all unless...

Unless you were a parent, when your a parent it's okay to be selfish and greedy on behalf of your child. Society in general condems people for seeking every advantage fair or unfair for themselves but condones it if seeking it for a child. A mother apparantly is at perfect rights to grind up someones face into a sickening soup in order to look out for their child. But everybody is somebodies child and I think just because yours is dependant doesn't mean you have the right to go about like a self righteous arsehole.

And right now there's nothing more self righteous than the latest development in monstrosity prams. Our whole civilization thus far has managed to survive without them. Why are they so fucking big? And why do people believe they are entitled to the same mobility and lifestyles as they were before they were responsible for another human being.

It just makes me

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muffins for Harvard

You know of all the great stuff at 'Hortsman's Wager' has to be one of the simplest and best.

My company plods along, like a sluggish Armada building up momentum that will cause awe-inspiring devestation to the way business is done or be a humiliating defeat much like the Spanish Armada of fame.

Anyway Jim Collins, Drucker and Manager-tools all agree that hiring is the single most important decision most companies make. My experience seconds this motion and I'm sure the future will carry it. But Horstman's wager is the standard 2 x 2 matrix that gives you true positives, true negatives, false positives and false negatives.

In testing terms you really want to worry about the "false" part they are the errors. a false positive in hiring means you accidently hired someone you didn't mean to. Usually because your job descriptions, interview questions, resume review skills and knowledge of the job requirements or performance standards all suck. That's not true, usually it's because the hiring manager doesn't realise they should care so much about hiring.

A false negative is pretty sad, it means you said no to someone you really do want. Somebody great who either botched their interview or you botched it for them.

But in hiring the manager-tools boys are pretty clear cut - the result of a false positive is so devestating you should assume the risk of generating false negatives in order to avoid them at all costs. It is better to hire nobody than to hire somebody bad.

If in doubt, no matter how spurious, say no.

Now as a thought exercise of late (and even later than that) I think about everyone I come into contact with as to whether I would hire them or not.

My list isn't a matrix though. It has three categories - definitely, maybe and definitely not.

It's been really interesting, as in surprising to me who I put where. As in how everyone I know that I think is a genius or nigh-on-genius can fall evenhandedly between 'definitely' and 'definitely not'.

The real tragedy though is when I think about it, 'maybe' as a category must inevitably become under Drucker, Collins and manager-tools will concur - the equivelent decision wise of 'definitely not'.

These are people who with a little help and guidance, an investment of time in other words would become truly valuable assets to any organisation (providing say if they are qualified carpenters any organisation refers to ones that employ carpenters and not say a high tech firm). But inevitably it's hard to justify spending the time and effort with 'maybes' when 'definitely's' exist.

You may think I'm harsh and arrogant, and let me tell you a definitely I would 'swoon' over. I would get down on hands and knees and beg them to help me out. I would change their grandmother's... well no I wouldn't because I can quickly see myself losing all my own time to acts of depravity intended to woo great people to my cause. But I'd come close is the point. People on the definitely list humble me.

Maybe is the only sad category. Definitely not you can take either way - definitely not because that person is a fucken moron that I wish I'd never even spoken to, AND definitely not that person is a genius that would be much better off working for themselves I can't do anything of value for them.

Anyway Harvard, if you're reading this If I had a company that had sufficient liquidity to actually pay you a wage I would 'definately' be over there swooning right now.

The rest of my list shall remain anonymous. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that shit.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fancy 2 wagers?

Wager 1: China Will become an economic basket case.

This is essentially predicting that China is an economic bubble. It's not based on extensive research I just went to Beijing in Feb and had a look around. Read a few press articles and am familiar with Japan.

Basically I'm betting against China because for a multitude of problems that fit in to the 'choose to ignore' category by many business pundits and economic commentators.

The first is the fact they effectively have leveraged the whole economy. Peter Schiff talks about how China has enough domestic demand to consume their own output and then some. But instead they loaned money to American consumers to consume their output for them, at the same time undermining the US manufacturing base that was chiefly responsible for servicing the debt. That means in order to amplify their profits (by getting more ravenous customers) China lent money instead of just building demand locally. The equivalent of McDonald's avoiding their own lean customers with money in order to attract big fat customers with ravenous appetites and crucially - no money.

The second is the fact that garbage in = garbage out. China has a long standing culture of graft that has been met with a recent economic boom. Accounting practices are dodge, corruption at the government level is rife. China doesn't have reliable economic statistic collecting methods, they don't even have a reliable population count. Their ability to collect taxes, audit companies and so fourth leaves the path open to huge financial black holes within the economy that will eventually I'm sure bury a dozen major institutions or so.

The third is that China is using the unsuccessful Japan strategy of suppressing exchange rates and keeping exports competitive by letting foreign reserves accumulate. Many an American might be heard remarking 'China owns our ass' but perhaps these same Americans might be surprised to learn that Japan still does as well. Once you hit the trillion USD in reserves mark you are in trouble. You can't cash in on the reserves without inflationary pressures turning the USD into a Peso. It means having the 'government facilitated' economic growth plan ends up shooting yourself in the head. By coordinating a mass of organizations that should function independently and thus never cooperate to suppress exchange rates (like Australia doesn't) then you can't keep on an explosive growth spurt because the money markets start compensating to slow you down.

The fourth is that China isn't Japan. China is yet to produce a Sony, Toyota, Honda, Nintendo or Pokemon. It hasn't done anything innovative. It is just a beast of scale playing catch up. It's not impressive. I've said before its exactly the scene from Simpson's Stone cutter episode where Homer asks Lenny and Karl if they are jealous of his fancy new chair - the response is 'Well No Homer, we have exactly the same chair'. It's also covered in Growth fetish, the phenomena where the developed world gets jealous of double digit growth figures as if our government is doing something wrong. Go to Beijing, it's a horrible place, you can't drink water from the tap. You might vomit if you think about what you are stepping in and there's absolutely no rights. The legal system is somewhat of a bogus dilemma - you either go through the proper channels where you are always wrong, or you take to the streets in a massive riot to put pressure on some landlord or business person hoping the government is scared enough to pay you hush money. At any rate, Thomas Friedman in his book assures me that China is now exceeding America in the number of patents its registering but I'm yet to see some consumer device that everyone loves come out of China this side of the opium wars.

The fifth is that the world just isn't big enough. If the Chinese want 'first world' lifestyles they need 6, yes 6, that's right 6, planet earths. We have only one. Thus at some point I'm more or less gaurunteed that China will hit the wall, which is kind of like winning by default because everybody else on earth will too.

The sixth is that economic prosperity doesn't trump human rights. People argue, and when I say people I'm referring to the CCP that says 'we are doing a good job, people are getting rich' which is a terrible argument as Chomsky points out. It was the exact same argument that was used to defend slavery, saying the treatment of 'blacks' was better in the south because they were business assets. But as Abe Lincoln says 'We know, Southern men declare that their slaves are better off than hired laborers amongst us. How little they know, whereof they speak! There is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us...Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope.'

Wager 2: Australia has a housing Bubble.

Wayne swan and other economic commentators urge Australia not to talk ourselves into a recession. The housing bubble I am 100% certain exists for the following reasons, based on research I've been doing for a while now.

Reason 1 - Australia has an identical real estate scenario to pre-crash US and UK markets. That is huge private debt, unaffordable housing combined with purported shortages and population growth. In a few months with significant job losses undertaken Australia's property prices will reach the critical mass neaded for their implosion. Cut your losses while you still can.

Reason 2 - Confirmation bias. Last year property prices were increasing and the reason given was population growth. This year property prices have declined yet the population has still been growing. The industry forecasts price rises all the time and for the same reasons. It is safe to ignore demographic arguements. Furthermore, these projections of population growth are easily accepted and not scrutinised. That is people accept them because it agrees already with what they want to believe. Nobody goes okay - with all this population growth what kind of growth is it? Is it highly skilled billionaires that will want to buy my property for more than I paid for it with pocket change? Or is it semi-skilled migrants coming in to do shitty jobs that Australians don't want, or refugees with really poor employment prospects that really won't be able to afford a house at more than I paid for it.

Reason 3 - Speculating makes plain damn sense. It just makes sense that if you can buy a property that somebody else needs you'd be able to extort a higher price for them. So why not just buy 10 properties. And the more properties you buy the less recourse any consumers have, they will have to buy the property off you eventually. And if the government tries to release land for new affordable housing, you should just buy that up as well to keep your strangle hold tight.

Reason 4 - people are stupid. Money, the simplest and most fundamental of economic concepts is difficult to fully comprehend. Most of the players in the housing market (in terms of frequency not size of investments) don't understand property, specifically they wouldn't be able to explain confidently to you - leverage, business cycles, gearing, negative gearing, risk - profit, liquidity, divisability, rental yeild, cost of sales, capital gains tax, council rating, land and improvements etc. They will know that they are supposed to like negative gearing as property investors even though its actually a guarunteed loss of limited benefits to few people in certain income brackets, and that you make your money from capital appreciation whilst not understanding why price should be based on rental yeild.

Reason 5 - Smart economists predict it. Keynes pointed out that in the long run we are all dead. The former Governor of RBA though was saying 'people have been predicting this for ten years, so nobody really predicts it' and in a way this is true. If economists were able to say 'the crash will definitely happen on January 23rd' then the proficy would self fulfill as everyone desperately tried to offload their properties on Jan 22nd. Albeit this means the crash would happen a day early due to the existence of the prophecy and people believing them. So when everyone talks about economists predicting things, and then having real estate investors and dodgy financial advisors deride them as predicting them all the time here is why - an economist/investor like Steve Keen, Peter Schiff, Robert Schiller etc. looked at property prices, then looked at rents. The property prices were far higher than the rental yeild would return a decent return on investment. This could have been 1 year ago or ten years ago. The fact was, during the boom people were buying houses off people at prices that were irrational for an investment, they were speculating. There was no reason to buy yesterday and the same lack of a reason is present everyday for ten years. The economists that predict busts are merely saying that it should already have happened, they can't explain why it hasn't already though so they don't really know when the market will wake up and crash. Similarly if we sedated a man and put him behind the wheel of a lamborghini, taped his hands to the steering weel and glued the accelerator down we might predict that it was likely to crash somewhere along the street. But we don't know whether he will crash in 10 meters, 20 meters or 100. But the more time goes on the more certain it becomes.

Anyway those are my two wagers. I think the housing glut in Australia would be in the neighbourhood of 10%. I have found it to be 7% which I think is deflated either way that's enough houses to spark an irrational panick. As for China the CCP's best bet is to change it's tune to the old 'with us or against them' so that if the Economy goes up it's the CCP's fault but if it goes down it's America, do that and China might hold together for another 5-10 years.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I check more than my email and facebook combined

It's not for inactivity. Actually relatively speaking it is. There is no way either can compete for activity with NBA as it is a sport that averages probably 5 games a day.

It's great though, I love the basketball season when its on. I would never ever go watch an NBL game mind you. I can still remember the days of childhood where inadvertantly buying NBL merchandise (usually the parents mistake) left you feeling real stupid.

Anyway, the rookie season is exciting this year. Unlike last year where it was a one horse race. Furthermore whereas the past few years the Eastern Conference was dismal but had a lot of my favorite players in it, this year it's reversed, Lakers are the new Celtics, the Celtics are the new lakers, Wade is the new old Kobe and Kobe is the new... Dirk Nowitzki? Which is probably all gibberish to you.

One thing that sucks though is that Lebron James is dominating the Race to MVP. For the exact inverse reasons that Kobe was cheated of MVP. Albeit I guess James is both winning and carrying his team unlike when Kobe carried his team and lost. But James whilst not having a star studded line up has a star sprinkled line up at least. This is no Smush Parker, Kwame Brown shite parade.

There is a question out there though on what makes an MVP? Most Valuable Player. And that's investment terminology. It would be interesting to see a MPP - Most Profitable Player award go to the best return on investment. Objectively the Most Valuable Player should just go to the highest paid player each year in AFL this means Kouta would have won it back to back to back in 3 of his worst seasons ever.

It would also mean Kobe would have one it the past 6 years running. Lebron the perennial runner up. But I don't think and wouldn't bank on a sitution where the best player in the league is not considered the most valuable because the team hold back on using him.

Sure it could lead to diminished form, but I have to say the idea of a Lakers team that has Kobe up their sleave 'just in case' it looks like losing is something to be feared far more than a Lakers team of past years where they lead with Kobe and benched him rarely.

This team arguably doesn't need Phil Jackson's triangle offence with Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as the base line players. Anyone would probably be tempted to just lob the ball up towards the goal for a probable 3-1 chance one of your pals would score on the tip in.

Then MVP isn't just complicated by team depth, there's the 'intangibles' meaning stuf f that isn't measured. The best case of this right now is probably Chauncey Billups. Mr. Big Shot is a clutch player and plays a slow half-court style game. As such he breaks any run-and-gun tempos in favor of set plays. So his stats aren't impressive because his style is all about slowing down the game. Winning 90-80 instead of 134-131. His scoring is low, blocks low, steals low and assists low (mind you without any of those stats taking him out of the top 10 in the league but there's no stat line for 'controlling the game' the statisticians don't have a 'possession' or 'seconds per possession' stat like the disposals in AFL where the maxim of 'he holds the ball controls the game' is widely acknowledged.

Then there's the Tim Duncans, whom are boring and I think rules should be designed to discourage future Duncan style play. That said Bill Russell wisely pointed out that Duncan is great at 'playing without the ball' these intangibles aren't captured either. The screens and box outs etc that can be big contributors to the outcome but not to your lines as a player. Same same for great passes that aren't assists. Frankly though I don't really know how you'd categorize something as a great pass that isn't an assist. Because the cuasation is hard to follow.

Anyway if this post was all gibberish to you, at least take away that success is hard to define, as is excellence and genius. There's only ever a vague sense that we know what we are seeing, and what we are seeing is someone successful at being an excellent genius. But you can apply it to the flaws in any performance indicators of any job role on the planet. They don't need to be perfect, they just need to be close.