Sunday, May 31, 2009

Team of Champion

There is no objective way to actually determine MVP. Perhaps it would have been better if the NBA had adopted a Brownlow style referee voting system instead of the end of season vote. The NBA has a weekly blog entitled 'Race to the MVP' which utilises a top 10 style list that remains more or less static for the second half of the season. Nicholas Nassim Taleb points out that food and movie critiques tend to be mutually referential, that is they influence eachothers opinion, in other words success compounds and so does failure in the views of critiques. And whilst said blog author doesn't get a vote, their opinion I would say definitely persuades a lot of the voting media personalities to cast the same vote.

My dad pointed out long ago, that the Brownlow voting shifted to only voting for players on winning teams, because they were building a tradition of voting for the star player who racked up a heap of disposals because they were surrounded by dud players. The NBA acts similarly, MVP usually just goes to the star player of the winningest team.

This season though, Lebron probably was the best mix of both. He was the star player on the winningest team, and he plays with a team of relative duds. So it was a fairly earned MVP. Now that MVP is bitter consolation against what was supposed to be the season where Lebron dethroned Kobe.

I'm looking forward to the finals series because I just don't know how the Laker's can win, but I suspect they just might in 7 given the home court advantage. Right now though there's Lebron's bitter bitter end to talk about.

Lebron's Bitter Bitter End:

As the Orlando home crowd chanted 'MVP! MVP!' mockingly whilst Dwight Howard shot the last few sets of free throws, Lebron no doubt could comprehend his own fate that night. And looking at the Cavs' faces as they sat on the bench for their final time out 14 points down with 42 seconds to go, it was not deliciously cruel for a Schatenfeuder like me, it was just plain cruel and devastating and bitter. Except that like last season when the Celtics went 3-1 up on the Lakers, I knew it would be far more bitter to take that away from the Celtics than for the Lakers to accept defeat.

So at the final time as tells it:

LeBron James walked off the court, head down, brushing off a few pieces of confetti. He ignored the few taunts by Magic fans and took one last look at the crowd without muttering a word.

Not to anyone.

A scintillating series by the NBA's MVP was washed away by his not-so-supporting cast, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated Saturday night with a 103-90 loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

James dressed quickly in the locker room, put on headphones and went to the team bus without talking to reporters.

And while some make a big deal out of Lebron not shaking Dwight's hand or congratulating the Magic after the game (arguably the crowd's fault) what I saw was a man whose illusions had been shattered.

Even though I'm the Lebron 'hater', I actually think it's cruel the way the man is treated.

How I'd Coach Lebron

Watching Orlando beat the cavs, I realised that in the finals it is still the big man's game. Orlando have about 6 viable 3-point shoooters, no stars like Reggie Miller or Ray Allen that you can almost count on sinking contested 3's. But with 5 you can usually always get one of them with an open 3 on any offensive possession. Particularly when you have Dwight Howard in the paint able to overpower any defender(s) and necessitating a double team.
Lebron is admired because physically he is big enough to play center, yet quick enough to play guard. Like the NBA's Kouta, except hopefully for Bron's sake it doesn't mirror Kouta's career (except Lebron would probably like at least one premiership).

The thing is though, that Lebron doesn't play center. And in the series didn't play defence (despite being runner up defensive player of the year) on anyone important. So I'm thinking, as coach, I don't give a shit about selling Lebron's shoes. I don't care if he doesn't do the big spectacular run-and-gun plays, I'm playing him at the 4 or at the 5. That is as a Center/Power Forward. It's all about the low post play, footwork, rebounds, blocks.

Now before someone can point out the blindingly obvious, I'd play him there precisely because his offensive effectiveness would be reduced. But I would do this for the first 20 games of the regular season for the express purpose of killing the hyperbolic expectations on the player.

Mike Brown, Lebron's coach had a simalesque strategy in benching Lebron often for the entire 4th quarter, the idea being that Lebron build trust in his team mates. It's reminiscent of Phil Jackson's 3rd Quarter tactic which was to go 4 deep into the bench and just leave one of the starting line-up on the court, like Scottie Pippen in the Bulls' days or Lamar Odom currently. The crucial difference being that Mike Brown really only succeeded in limiting his stars playing time, rather than building up the bench. What is impressive about Phil Jackson's teams is that they roll 10 deep. That means their starting line-up can get into foul trouble and it not be a crippling blow for them. They also can take different shapes. They can go Bynum for a traditional zone, Odom for the uber-triangle, Vujakic for death by 3-pointers.

Phil can also just change teams completely for when the team can get it's shit together. He did this with the Bulls and can do this with the Lakers. Phil Jackson does build teams of champions.

So yeah, I would have Bron at the 4 & 5 playing defence, defence, defence. Picking up garbage points and doing the little things. Thus allowing the rest of the team to develop as a viable offensive team.

Then when you want to play to Lebron's strengths, after dropping a few games in the first 20 you switch him back to the playing the 2/3 positions where he is now. Build your campaign from a handicap, after shedding the cruel expectations that you are going to deliver the NBA into a second Jordan era. Let Lebron be Lebron. The only other thing I'd do, is I'd play Lebron off the bench in the regular season. Unheard of yes, but if you want to build trust in your team, have them build the initial lead, not bench Lebron in the 4th quarter (effectively eradicating him as a clutch player) while he learns to trust his teammates not to wipe out the lead he built, but instead trust them to positively build the lead in the first place.

If I was the NBA

I would back off and let Lebron be Lebron. Jordan fucking made the NBA worldwide, he did it in a way that needed very little promotion, his play just grabbed attention, that fed off itself and grew until he was the worldwide phenomena. I'm pretty sure that with Lebron it has worked in reverse, the NBA is behind Lebrond, pushing him up and out into attention, they prop up the attention hoping it will take off. This season has probably been the most successful, but that's because Lebron started doing it on his own, not because of upped investment and media puffery.
Risk = Profit, the NBA, Nike and Cavs management don't want to risk Lebron being a flop, so they puff him up, Nike particularly injects money left right and center. I'm pretty sure that if I got into the Nike Ledger's I'd find that Kobe's shoes were far far more profitable than Lebron's, if for no other reason than that they don't seem to expend as much money on them.
I would also not be surprised if Air Jordan's were still far far more profitable than both of them put together.
The point being that trying to make Lebron into something he isn't yet, and to try and pave the way in gold for him, just creates an impossible standard for Lebron to live up to, a golden path simply lacks traction. There's no opportunity for Lebron to surpass expectation, even though he does incredible things.

If I were Lebron

I would got to the New York Knicks. I would slow the fuck down, New York has arguably been a suffering market as well, they have heaps of money sure being the most valuable franchise in the NBA, but that tells me as Lebron 2 things. The crowds are turning out even though they haven't had a championship since '73 and thus probably won't need the Cavs humiliating PA system to compensate for the really shitty Cleveland supporters. 2ndly they have the kind of money to do the trades to build the team you need around you.

What you as Lebron need, is your Scottie Pippen, your Pau Gasol. Sure if you do it 'on-your-own' then you probably would be the greatest of all time, except hopefully Lebron has realised that the odds of that happening are severely stacked against him. Why was the bow-out to the Magics regarded as surprising at all? the Magic had handed them 6 defeats in the regular season, furthermore the Lakers had swept the Cavs in the regular season. Surely nobody really considered the Cavs the front runner for the title?

You would stay in the relatively week Eastern Conference by going to the Knicks, at the moment really there is you, the Celtics and Magic that are the Easts contenders. Chicago and Heat are coming up behind, Memphis Grizzlies will also be perenial contenders in two seasons.

In the west you have Mavericks, Pheonix, Houston, San Antonio, Denver, Utah, New Orleans and the Lakers to give you grief. I think this year was an anomoly for the west, due in large to Clippers, GSW being total basketcases and Pheonix suffering from post D'Antoni dominance. In the east Detroit are a basket-case, Washington are a basket case, and Atlanta just aren't there yet.

Yes Cleveland will implode in your wake, but that's not why you wanted to play basketball, to make Cleveland a viable franchise. You played to win rings, and that isn't going to happen while you are taking the lions share of a small market like Cleveland's salary leavings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Human Feebleness Classic

Symmetry is attractive. Asymmetry is not. Here is the basic assymtry in thinking that is human beings at their worst:

1) We like to take credit for doing good.
2) We don't like to take credit for doing bad.

As Noam Chomsky points out numerous times, the classic government model is 'public risks and privatised profits'

And it explains... pretty much everything. like:

Why people invested in properties and maxed out mortgages when they thought they would be getting rich off the capital appreciation, yet now want the government to bail them out of their deflating bubble assets.

Why shareholders want the government to bail out their finance institutions, yet don't wont those institutions nationalised.

Why soon to be retirees were happy to let the pension dwindle when they thought superannuation would sustain a jetsetting retirement lifestyle yet when the super funds took a big dive now balk at the retirement age and pension cut-offs being lifted.

Why we are ostensibly committed to fighting climate change, yet don't want to disadvantage the industries generating the problem.

I would simply point out, that if anything is idealistic or naively greedy, it is that whenever you do right everyone pats you on the back, and when you do wrong everyone looks the other way.

Jim Collins identified in 'Good to Great' a trait he labelled 'the window and the mirror' amongst the leaders of the best companies of the past century. That is, they did the exact opposite of human feebleness classic, they aportioned blame only to themselves when things went wrong, and when things went well they skeptically attributed it to the efforts of others or at worst, just plain dumb luck.

Anyway, to go a long way in making the world a better place, you have to know this behaviour pattern and stomp on it any time it rears its feeble head.

Dear Harvard,

Don't [stay in Malaysia].

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Oh yeah, pretend your name is 'Sophia'.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

But We're Apes...

I'm trying to finish 'The Female Eunuch' as what often happens when I read is I get excited until I've read most of the content and amazingly my attention always dwindles at the conclusion. Guess I'm a journey not destination type guy.

Anyway I was trying to finish it and gave up in my favorite park yesterday and lay back and looked up and I saw: life.

Specifically I saw a tree branch hanging over me and all the leaves hanging off of it. I remembered the session at RYLA I had on 'deep-ecology' which was the theory that we can't live off of nature until we can comprehend our relationship with it, which pretty much means meditating surrounded by nature.
The first time I did it, I was struck by how in the middle of scrubland, as far away from civilization as most of us can get these days, there was far more living activity going on than in the heart of the CBD.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway this is why a leaf is of interest to you. It occured to me that the hardest chanciest part of a leaf's existence is jokying for position, specifically a position in sunlight. Then it sprouts, it absorbs the light and grows until eventually it drops off.
Of course a leaf is not sentient, indeed a tree isn't really sentient, I think it uses that mathematical constant 'e' or something to actually decide where leaves will crop up in an evolutionary process that maximises leaf exposure to sunlight. So the hardest part of a leaf's existence is pretty much out of its hands to begin with.

Alas, this is how most people lead their lives. The hardest thing they really do, is swim up the philopean tubes in the number 1 position. For many it's the only race a person wins in their lives. So yes in a way we are all winners. But once that position is obtained, we just passively live a life of growing, until we drop off.

The structure, the tree that supports our existence is the economy, it is that rational framework that informs our decision making. We are yet to come up with one as beautiful and simple as the golden ratio based 'e' but basically you are born. Then the 'nuclear' script is you pay off a house for the entirety of your working life, and then you die. Relatively recently ie. the next generation coming up for retirement, it expanded to paying off your own home, an investment property or two and you travelled through tuscany in your retirement. Although it is a quantum leap in expenses, it isn't a quantum leap in ideology.

So really whilst leaves may represent no more sentience than hair in it's function of sprucing up a tree a bit, I feel it is an apt metaphore for the average human life. And furthermore, I feel more emotion at the loss of the hair around my temples than any tree ever did when it sheds leaves to survive the winter, reclaiming the nutrients that rot into the soil.

And that's pretty much how the economy was designed to treat people. You retired at 50 and checked out at 60, it could handle the dead weight of an old person collecting a pension and leading an otherwise non-productive lifestyle, as they would leave most of their assets being the house and land to any survivors, or it would be auctioned off and the proceeds going to whomever a judge sees fit to give them. People were leaves of a decidiuous tree. People still are those leaves. Because the economy is happy to sacrifice not just the little leaves out on its limbs, if the rot sets in, that is what it will do. It will wipe out everything those people have to show for their lives completely without emotion.

And I thought of my dog, a much higher, more complicated lifeform than leaves on a tree. It has a liver and kidneys and all that shit. My dog's life long struggle is not jockeying for a position in the sun, it moves around the yard effortlessly and 'lays doggo' where the opportunity for sunlight is.

And more curious than that, we are no more dogs than we are leaves (okay, technically we are more dogs than we are leaves, we are invertebrae, mammals and have much more common ancestors than fucking leaves have with us). We are apes, we are intelligent beings with opposable thumbs that can move around, manipulate crude tools, sophisticated tools, manipulate atoms, why the fuck can't we handle our crappy economy?

Bron Bias

Well first up, I think with past blogging it's pretty clear that my own bias is as a 'LeBron' hater. But if you had been following the playoffs, as I have, then yesterday ou would be hard pressed not to sympathise with my stance.

Basically what happened was that Orlando almost won game 2 in Cleveland of the Magic vs Cavs series. This would have been dramatic and upsetting by itself for a team with a 39-2 win-loss record at home in the regular season. Except that two days earlier Magic had beaten them at home in game 1. After wiping out a 16 point halftime deficit. Cavs' coach Mike Brown won 'coach of the year' and Lebron took home the MVP trophy. The Cavs had the leagues best regular season record. But I digress, what happened was that in the final seconds of Game 2 the Cavs were down by a point facing humiliation at the hands of Orlando. They got the ball into Lebron's hands for a buzzer-beater (basically getting off a shot before the 'final siren' as we would call it in AFL, although in AFL you only have to mark it before the final siren and be within range of goal). And he got it in.

My Issue with Lebron:

My issue is not strictly with Lebron, the only thing I have against Lebron personally is that he adore's Jay-Z and wears another man's number on his jersey. I've never heard the Jay-Z song that is supposed to make me respect him, I'm assuming it's not the hook up with Lincoln park, and wearing Jordan's number is perhaps the worst decision Lebron ever made.
But really my issue is with Nike, Slam magazine, Cleveland and the NBA, and I've reiterated it time and time again. Basically these four big spenders have spent between them perhaps 100 million promoting Lebron as the biggest thing in basketball. The times they are a changing wrote Bob Dylan, and yes it's certainly changed since back in the day when a player became a celebrity after actually achieving something.

Jordan at least had the class to win the Slam Dunk contest to highlight his air-jordans. He also wore damn good shoes, something Lebron is yet to manage. By all accounts I hear Lebron is a nice guy. I probably wouldn't describe Jordan as a nice guy, from what I've heard about him. Civil enough, but I would have said 'fierce, fierce competitor' before 'nice'.

But yeah the 'media' current is with Lebron, SLAM ran a story on the 'Lebron vs. Kobe' debate, to me it is hands down Kobe Bryant, the achievements are stacked up with him, 3 championship rings, 1 MVP, a bunch of scoring titles, 5 All Star MVPs (the Grammys of MVP awards) 1 Gold Medal, A Slam Dunk winner, 3 time NBA photo of the year...

And well, I know already that Lebron's Game 2 buzzer beater will probably now be the NBA photo of the year. Alas...

Here is what under normal media scrutiny the buzzer beater would be reported as - 'Lebron sinks last second shot to save team from incredible embarassment'. It was not a good thing, not even a great thing, it was game 2, not 'championship point', buzzer beaters happen all the time. Like the numerous buzzer beaters Ray Allen sank AGAIN & AGAIN in the Celtics vs Chicago series. That I found more impressive than a team with the best track record saving itself from going 0-2 at home.
I think logic would interpret it not as a great play, but for a team that was up by 23 points at Q1 time, a major embarassment that it even came to that.

It is though instead being interpreted as some fucking 'nail in the coffin' for Orlando, which is looking at the very real prospect of now taking a 3-1 lead in the series, and have rested home court advantage away from the cavs. NBA fans are being invited to rate 'the shot' amongst the best clutch plays of all time. I would rate it near the bottom.
It is being compared to Jordan's 'last shot' (at Chicago) were he sank a buzzer beater against Utah to steal the 6th championship. Even if you look at the two ( has a dedicated gallery) you will notice that Jordan's last shot has an electrified crowd on their toes watching in barely contained excitement, Lebron's shot if you look at the crowd is the lacklustre Cleveland crowd, that need a recorded loop 'Defence' to even make noise for them. Lebron has not lit up Cleveland like Vegas, Cleveland is a shithole:

I would not blame Lebron if he drops this series from moving to the New York Knicks, where a crowd might actually make some fucking noise for him when the opposition is hammering them with 3's. It's the first time I've seen the Cavs play at home when they have had a lead wittled away by a visitor, not when they had their arses handed to them by the Lakers while Kobe was sick. Lebron SHOULD go to the Knicks.

The NBA, Cavs, Nike & SLAM should just shut the fuck up and let the man play. The most intelligent contributor to the 'Lebron vs Kobe' debate in the ever diminishing in quality publication known as Slam, was one that to paraphrase said: 'Kobe's gone to the gym and perfected his game like no-other, if size didn't matter I would say he is the best, but size does matter and so Lebron is the future.' Even I would conceed that Lebron is the best in the same sense as 'you are only as good as the last game you played' sense, but if that was taken as literally, then it would be Kobe who played a much better game 3 in Denver, than Lebron did at home.

But yes, just let Lebron be Lebron, stop trying to make him something that he isn't yet. Yes he may only be weeks away from starting down that road. But it's still risky, because Lebron is no more Shaq than he is Jordan, and Mo Williams is not Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade to his Shaq, nor Scottie Pippen to his Jordan. Not by a long shot.

To those who know AFL, this is the biggest craw-sticker for me, remember when Gary Ablett Jnr aka 'Gary Ablett' first started playing AFL. Geelong wanted him to the be the next Gary 'God' Ablett, luckily the rest of the league (the vast majority) knew better. Eventually all the wishful overhype from Geelong supporters calmed the fuck down and Gary was allowed to just be Gary. He shaved his head and in four years was shitting all over the pathetic Port Adelaide in history's most one-sided and boring Grand Final ever, truly the best and most entertaining part of the match started when the final siren went. Now imagine, if that wishful thinking wasn't just amongst the crazy backward hicks that populate Geelong, but simply every single NBA commentator, Nike Billboard and Basketball magazine cover.

They hope that Lebron is some superstar like Jordan, or perhaps even Lance Armstrong, but he won't be until he is. So stop acting like he is already. He swept the Detroit Pistons, the worst team in the East, then the Atlanta Hawks who were slightly better than the Heat. Meanwhile back in the wild west, Lakers dropped one to the Utah Jazz a team coming down with one of the up and coming point guards of the league, then went on to play Houston, a team whose crowd actually makes noise and has in Ron Artest and Shane Battier arguably the two best stoppers in the League who rightfully pushed them to 7 games. Denver will probably push them close to 7 too. The point being that the Lakers are doing it tough, they are crawling through fire to get to the Finals whereas so far Lebron and the Cavs have been having tea and biscuits against some of the weakest teams the playoffs have offered.

Ironically, I'm pretty sure the Lakers would rather face the Cavs in the Finals than Denver right now, or Orlando in the Finals. They have been the tough fucking competitors.

So yes, as before Lebron = Overrated. And I don't think you can argue that. Another good contribution to Slam's 'Kobe vs Lebron' debate said: 'Kobe, because Kobe is hated, people don't want him to succeed, and he rode through all that and is still top of the game, Lebron, everybody loves Lebron he has it easy' again I'm paraphrashing but yes, Kobe goes and he is little and succeeds on his own. I wouldn't say that Lebron doesn't have haters, but certainly he seems to recieve adoration by acclamation from the media in the limelight.

'The World Will Witness...' was the big build up to Lebron's Olympic campaign and what did we see? Kobe destroy teams and go sit down on a bench, and the resurgance of Dwayne Wade. Nothing much from Lebron, the coach wouldn't tolerate any 'pimp my shoe' shit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


To my considerable advantage, I was born left handed. Sure they never had hockey sticks for me, but this spared me from what is otherwise a 'once in four years' attention getting sport, and only fleetingly at that.

But being left handed means one important thing: you learn from a very early age that you are not normal. Trying to be normal resulted in my signing my name 'mot' all the time because I was simply inverting the writing instruction I was recieving to left hand mode. It was only later I was told to write 'left-to-right' but just use my left hand to do it.

A right handed kid though, doesn't hit this obstacle at all, they just coast straight through the writing lesson and are far more susceptible to the delusion that they are normal.

Being left handed is not like being black, because if you are black in Kenya, you are normal. The left-handed diaspora doesn't even have a controversial state to fund from their New York apartments. Left handers are 1 in 10 people no matter where you go on earth (except for some reason the creative departments of advertising agencies).

Left handers will always be a minority. So the notion of 'normal' just cant stick to a left hander. Furthermore there is no point really trying to be normal. In this modern day and age I am sure as soon as laptops get light enough, the private primary schools will introduce them, or Julia Gillard will provide them to public primary schools as a smokescreen to disguise the fact that crappy education has more to do with crappy teachers than lack of technology.

Since handwriting was the number one reason to go righty if you are a lefty, this is a thing of the past. And Asian writing systems (namely Chinese and Japanese) go top-to-bottom, working right to left so fuck that.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Genus Nerdus

With all the hoo-hah around the Star Trek reboot, what better time to think about nerds, with the question: What qualities does a nerd make?
I've been thinking about this for a while. Nicholas Nassim Taleb in 'The Black Swan' has a personal definition of nerds, being 'people who are incapable of thinking outside the box' which I think is certainly a workable definition, but I think it goes deeper than that.

1. Nerds are not very imaginative.

What's that? But aren't nerds those people who draw Ligers, and go to renaissance fares and sci-fi conventions and love all that crap? Yes, they love all that crap, but the important word is crap. Why do nerds love stuff of nieche appeal? and particularly why do they go for low quality products too, like Stargate SG1, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, 300 (the movie, and arguably the graphic novel) and so fourth...?
Of course quality is a matter of opinion, but behavior is observable, it can be seen and documented.
And for me one of the defining behavioral traits of the nerd is that they are fans of shit, dogmatic, proscriptive fans, they fall in love with shit that to others is just good. Sometimes they are described as 'hardcore' they will 'hate' on other fans of competing products.
Case in point, at De La Soul's concert I was embarassed to be associated with some white fans quizzing eachother on De La Soul trivia to see who had the right to stand in front of the other, ie who was the biggest fan.
BSNYC/RPTMS once described belief in 'miracles' as an indicator of stupidity, such that a really stupid person would go through life observing what to them appeared to be a long succession of miracles, such as the miracle of elevators, escalators, sliding doors, the automobile, the cell phone, smoothies etc.
So too, a feel the first qualifier for nerdom is the lack of imagination that means they don't scrutinize/criticize any of the products, services or subcultures they enjoy because they simply lack the imaginative capacity to form the necessary ideas.

Thus you take the two biggest nerd magnets of last year 'The Dark Knight' and 'Watchmen' (and here I craftily extract myself from nerdom, because I was not impressed by the first and didn't even bother to go see the second). Nerdy observable behaviour was the outrage that 'TDK' didn't get 'Best Picture' consideration at the Oscars, demonstrating an inability to imagine A) that people could exist that didn't think it was the greatest film ever made "it made heaps of money!" B) that a story revolving around action and unrealistic psychological archetype characters might be considered not even in the same league as films that do actually explore the human condition such as 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Revolutionary Road' and shit. C) Maybe the Oscar itself isn't as important and even necessarily true validation of what the 'best picture' of the year was.

And Watchmen, oh god, apparantly when the legal dispute was up in the air as to whether Fox would let Watchmen be screened or not (because the film rights where effectively filched from fox by WB or whoever made it) internet fangroups tried to arrange a boycott of the current Fox release 'Wolverine' demonstrating an inability to imagine: A) That people who would fork out money to see Watchmen might not even bother to go see Wolverine anyway. B) That 'Watchmen' needed to be made into a film, since the fans were excited because they'd obviously already read it anyway and at best could only hope for a faithful adaptation. C) That if Losers win, that may not necessarily mean they are no longer losers.

So I hope I've made the point. The lack of imagination naturally makes nerds fans of things that otherwise normal people wouldn't get into because they can imagine a higher standard for which the work does not favourably compare too.
And this I feel distinguishes nerds from the a-typical fan. For example, I am a fan of Primus, I lack the imagination to concieve how I could play bass guitar like Les, and even if I could whether I could actually compose the same music. Les does something for me that I can't do for myself. This might explain why many men are fans of blowjobs. But I'm not a fan of say Stargate SG1, because I'm sure if you gave me the same budget I could make a better written, better acted and better executed TV show (albeit it may not make as much money).

2. Nerds are not very intelligent.

To me this seems apparant, but it might be taken as a departure from the stereotypical 'brainiac','science-geek' or 'computer-nerd' image. Afterall the consolation of being a nerd is supposedly that you get the superior intellect that compensates you with unnearned future millions that allows you to buy yourself a prom-queen bride, right?
Practical experience tells me this is wrong on two accounts, one most millionaires in this world I believe possess in IQ terms only average intelligence and many below average. Secondly growing up in our meritocratic education system, my experience was that the high-achievers academically seldom crossed over to those ostracised as nerds. The academic performers at my school were by and large also the jocks. Many played musical instruments or were active in the arts as baby-boomers trained from birth to expect everything for themselves wanted the all-around-genuises in their own kids.
Nerds liked computers, mathematics, physics, chemistry and other geeky subjects but they weren't necessarily geniuses at them. It was more because these subjects are very logical and literal, there's no subjectivity, and unless you are a world leader in the above fields (which education based on normal distributions doesn't encourage) almost no imagination.
If anything, if I concede that nerds can be intelligent, I would be using such a narrowly defined band of intelligence that in practice they would appear dumb. I would say an 'Idiot Savant' though is cooler than a Nerd, because at least a savant has perfect pitch, extreme analytical abilities or whatever and more importantly an excuse to be inept at sports.
But again I feel this hinges on my criterion 1, the keystone if you will of the nerd genus' evolution. Nerds were drawn to subjects that may have got them 'labelled' as geniuses because they couldn't imagine that sports might yeild much intellectual development, or learning a foreign language or whatever. Or that social skills might call upon much higher brain function intervention to yeild better results.

3. Nerds are socially inept.

I believe I put in my 'rules for cool' that self-referential or opinion leadership was cool. This could be argued as the dark side of the same coin. Many people would say 'duh' when I say that the third characteristic is social ineptitude and I'd wager many would put it first.
But I believe the dividing line between self-referential cool people and nerds is that self referential people are aware that other people have opinions, and choose to assert their own in favour. A nerd simply reflexively disregards other opinions because they don't even realize they are there.
They have if you will a low social intelligence. This I feel is the true tragedy of nerds. I'm aware one could make a case that I'm saying a nerd is just someone with aspergers syndrome, however I'm trying to argue a nurture not nature argument (although I guess low general intelligence, lack of imagination and low social intelligence are probably going to be genetic traits, but also nerds often come from nerd families whom survive Darwinism presumably because they meet at sci-fi cons and christian camps and what not.)
Hence nerds wear bright white cross-trainers with jeans, bum-bags (or fanny packs), they don't buy their own clothes unless it is a tshirt advertising they are a fan of some tv or game show, they argue passionately about star-trek in public (or apparantly even De La Soul), they get dropped off by their nerd parents at a high-school paddock party, they don't bother to put their tracksuit pants on the right way in primary school once they realise they put them on back to front. And so fourth and so on.
They are not so much self-referential as just plain oblivious. One could argue that there is a beautiful innocence to this ignorance, and that Films like 'About a Boy' are kind of vindictive in suggesting kids are better off learning to 'dissappear into the masses' than stand out as a nerdy individual.

4. Conclusion.

The title 'Genus Nerdus' suggests nerd-hood is more genetic than memetic. I'd argue that attractiveness is certainly going to be a product of your genes, and its hard for an attractive person to be a nerd when women/men pay him a lot of attention, but its not impossible, furthermore its certainly not impossible for someone ugly to be cool. It's certainly possible for someone to be neither.
I would side with Drucker though who says 'effectiveness can be learned' certainly the social ineptitude is a manifestation of ineffectiveness, social skills can be taught, as proof I would submit my own brother who has aspergers - which I would call in his case 'involuntary arseholism' that through his own ability to learn is now 'selectively charming' namely he did telemarketing for a year or so which he had the advantage of genetically not being disposed to give a shit what people thought anyway whilst learning to interact with a constant barrage of new people. He also simply practiced talking to women on friday and saturday nights by going to pubs and clubs with work-mates. I find this a really positive story and whilst he isn't the best and most socially conscious person, he can hold down relationships for about as long as most normal people whilst having an advantage in any situation that requires straight talking and literal analysis.
If someone with aspergers can learn how to chat up women (which I am yet to get around to doing) a nerd must have a half decent chance. It is understandably an uncomfortable subject to broach though. It is unpleasant to point out to someone that you don't like them as you are. It is in essence a more benign form of the 'deoderant conversation' where people are afraid to tell their colleague 'hey man you stink'.
In both cases though, I would be surprised if the reaction wasn't embarassment, followed by an alarming amount of relief for all parties when the person rectifies the embarassment through changed behaviour. Either wearing new deoderant or subbing out their cross trainers for some black dunlop volleys.
It's also a touchy subject in suggesting that if social adeptness can be learned, then perhaps we should proactively teach it. It has the potential to ruffle parents feathers if misinterpreted as 'we turn nerds into jocks' much the same as teaching people to think critically has been misinterpreted as 'turning christians into athiests' (possibly these two activities share large overlap).
I feel no affection for nerds great enough to suggest that they should be forced to endure the bullying, ridicule and social isolation that is too often part and parcel just to preserve a subculture. Just like I don't feel enough attachment to 'organic' food to want peasants to continue living subsistence life styles and the occasional famine by blocking 'GM'.
But education is narrowly focused on one hemisphere of the brain, and it kind of makes sense why this one survives and doesn't tolerate the other. But I'd like to see teachers at least representing alternative social memes for the sake of these kids. Its much healthier than outright rebellion, and parents in my opinion are frankly granted far too much autonomy over the shaping of their childrens character, treated if you will as extensions of their selves not their own persons.
I deny the right of parents to enforce any shared beliefs with their children. I concede it might occur naturally, for natural reasons. But it should never prevent anyone from making up their own minds differently down the track.

Then 2, low intelligence. It is genetic, and nothing much can be done. Except you can be hard done by low intelligence if people reinforce the idea that you are smart because they patronizingly/condescendingly believe you 'gotta have something'. The notion that nerds are smart is providing them with a security blanket to cling to rather than address critical weaknesses, and also comfort for us that people can be born dealt a hand that rates a '7 high' in poker ie. they have no real consolation.
Except in poker as in life, if you are dealt a dud hand, yes its disadvantageous, but you can learn to bluff effectively, or more courageously acknowledge you were dealt a shitty hand and ask for 5 new cards (unless you are playing texas hold'em, which is currently in vogue).
As I hope life has established, intelligence is not the sole criterion of success, nor is looks, nor is charisma, if there is anything it is persistence. And you can fucking work on any of these so long as it is acknowledged and you have the will to intervene.

The keystone then, is the one that is critical to address. A lack of imagination I would equate to a lack of creativity, many artists make a living without being creative at all, but nerds even lack that one creative idea they can endlessly reiterate. Creativity certainly can be taught, (but isn't, again logically because people with creative dispositions have a low incedence of being fans of disciplines and structure) Edward De Bono being a good example.
Ironically one of the least imaginatively taught skills in my education was critical thinking. This is because our education is still based entirely around assesment and the bell curve, you can't really test kids abilities to have different opinions from everyone else because this makes assesment really difficult.
Thus I learnt to pull apart essays by reading really cliched interpretations of symbolism and recurring themes, and was never given the essay question 'How would you improve falling down?'
But that essentially is all creativity, imagination and critical thinking consists of. All you really have to do is ask questions that prompt critical and creative thought. As a marketing lecture once illustrated for me, much of the creative process is in the single question 'why?'

Come to think of it, it would be interesting to ask nerds 'why?' as a simple challenge to ideas such as 'World of Warcraft is the best game ever' and 'Watchmen is the best comic ever' and 'Heath Ledger's Joker was the best ever' and so fourth. Because if my theory is correct answers would more or less boil down to 'it blew me away' which to me can be boiled (like ginseng) down to 'I was impressed because I can't imagine anything as good as that' whereas a non-nerd would probably provide academic reasons for it eg. 'World of Warcraft has emphasised simple gameplay over graphical polish, psychologically addictive repetition, well timed reward systems... etc' or 'Watchmen is a deconstructionalist narrative on comics itself, it enriches all comic reading experience and provoked myself to think why I even like reading comics, to which instantly all other comic form narratives and several literary efforts immeadiatly began to pale in comparison' or 'Heath Ledger kept the actual character of the Joker ambiguous whilst still being energizing and entertaining on screen, it was a captivating enigma'. I guess in the day and age of web-forums if you give a nerd time they will go and steal one of these actual opinions, but to me they need to be taught to form actual opinions on their own using critical thought. I wouldn't suggest its bad to actually like something, but liking something because its big and flashy and wow and not much else is a social liability when you make a lot of noise about it.

There is a cure, people.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People

Somebody said, maybe D.H. Lawrence according to google, 'I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself' and thus robbed me of this quote I had devised myself for when I was a famous old wise man - 'Does the three legged dog stop wagging its tail?'
Indeed the ability to comprehend our own fate seems to be what sets us apart from 'the animals' but as evolutionists (aka scientists) will remind us, we are afterall hairless apes.
And our ability to comprehend our own fate does not yield much. Again I must return to Germaine Greer, for poigniant and succinctitudeness:

The disenchanted vision of these children has revealed the function of the patriarchal family unit in our capitalist society. It immobilizes the worker, keeps him vulnerable so he can be tantalized with security.

If we are so fucking great at comprehending our own fate, how do so many of us fall into this trap? I'm kind of continuosly amazed at how many people treat getting a house (and mortgage) as if it is some biological lifecycle phase and not a lifestyle decision. Yet more don't even treat it as an investment. It is a continuation of a script perhaps even more logical to them than going from high-school to tertiary.(in practice there's probably an inverse relationship between how logical someone finds going on to tertiary studies and how logical someone thinks buying a house is).

It would be much easier to know what to do in this time of global financial turmoil (itself an exageration, most people ever born never even experience having pocket change, so I fail to see how a financial crisis can be 'global' or say more 'global' than the current world food shortage)... anyway it would be easier to know what to do if the options were actually attractive in any way shape or form.

Lets face it, work just plain sucks. The good organisations for vision, often abuse the goodwill of their employees. The most caring nurturing organisations, are the ones that want devout serfs to be bound by mortgage and family to advancing their relatively meaningless cause.

All unanimously call us to 'face reality' whilst pointing at themselves, when reality is in fact in the opposite direction. Reality is tracking prey and killing it, feasting on its flesh before it spoils, laying about conserving energy, wiping yourself with a leaf, warding off competitors, seeking dry shelter and living off the land. Which no matter how many thin veneers of civilization you slap down, is what we have never managed to cease doing.

Animals don't commit suicide (the famous lemming incident was actually staged, one of the crew members herded them off a cliff using a big piece of chipboard). They starve to death when they over-breed, sure, they gnaw their own leg off to escape from a snare, lick their wounds, they move to higher ground, they migrate, when they are in danger they fight or flee. They don't attempt to fight reality and thus enable themselves to do nothing.

Only domesticated animals get fat, get diabetes, get poisoned by their environment. most invertebrates have been around as long as humans have, few have killed themselves off, most are due to human intervention. The 'learning' or 'reason' gene seems to trump the rest of evolution, but crocodiles have survived an ice age thus far, and sharks have not seen fit to actually evolve for millions of years.

The title of this post comes from Primus' EP, but I think it is good advice. People should remember they are animals first and people second.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


5 things I hate about mens fashion right now:

1. The ironic moustache. Moustache's shouldn't be ironic. I mean what the fuck is ironic about it? That you want to attract women, yet ironically a moustache is unattractive to women? Just grow a proper moustache, an RAF moustache they are dashing or a 70's Pro-sports Moustache they are fucking man's moustache.

2. The 'femdora' I couldn't help but notice on 'Australian Master Chef' last night an alarming amount of contestants wearing hats, indoors presumably at night. So too at the de la soul concert I could not believe the number of guys in these hats at night, indoors at a fucking concert where people aren't looking at you but trying to look over you. I call it the femdora because it seemed the only people rocking these hats 2-3 years ago were female: Alicia Keys, one of the pussy cat dolls and 13 year old girls from the outer suburbs. It isn't say a proper fucking cowboy hat (also feminised) a bowler hat, a baseball hat even the masculine yet touted by metrosexual trucker hat. It is a girls hat now sported by pretentious coffee drinking jazz enthusiasts that are too young to actually get enthusiastic about jazz. They used to wear the beret, but it seems the femdora hasn't crossed into the same strata of pretentious unacceptability as the beret yet. I also suspect most wearers of the femdora are trying to conceal receding hairlines and thinning crown patches. Just go the clippers.

3. Stove pipe jeans, anthropology told me that women were naturally attuned to liking muscular men, because in the cave days that meant you had a strong alpha male protector whom would also pass on the genes he had successfully used to survive thus far onto a girls own progeny meaning her half of the genetic contribution had greater chances of survival. But with stove pipes I'm not entirely sure whether it is the jeans or the physique that seems feminised, but I am sure I hate the jeans. And fuck it I'm tired of silently tolerating it. Do these guys shave their leg hair to prevent the friction removal service from wearing lycra like denim? or do they just slip on a pair of stockings underneath. And why the fuck do skaters wear them? I know, because they are cool, but why the fuck are they cool? Hey baby check out my underdeveloped leg muscles and sickly chicken like posture? Big pants allowed skaters a degree of freedom for pulling off ollies, grinds and whatever else. Sure if they were really big the crotch would restrict your stride length, but I noticed my skater friend hadn't followed the trend and was still wearing big pants for utilitarian reasons. But to me a guy in baggy jeans just unequivocally looks both manlier and cooler than a douchebag in stovepipes. It's Davey Jones from 'the Monkees' look. Even the beatles stopped wearing stove pipes, presumably because they were tired of being a pack of pussies.

4. Hair Sculpting, Russell Brand has little to no talent. Tim Minchin is just another annoying 'musical comedian' benefiting from the fact that whilst a pure standup has to be really clever, insightful and witty to make the audience laugh, a song has to just have a silly chorus to be deemed 'hilarious' and 'brilliant' the funniest musical comedian I have seen is Dimitri Martin, because he played a guitar/xylophone/keyboard whilst doing a normal standup routine. Anyway, the third member of the triumvirate of Farrah Fawcett/Nashville hair sculpting is that guy from the Mighty Boosh. Bane of my existence all three of these comedians are shite, yet all three almost perpetually get recommended to me as 'something I like' but it seems these comedians also have incredible sex appeal, because I am seeing guys in increasing numbers sculpting their hair up into a big nashville ball. They could be housewives in Tennessee. I love Dolly Parton too but I don't want to dress up like her. Admittedly this one can't catch on as fast as other fashion trends because you have to grow your hair out first, a risky proposition because by the time a year has passed and you have the length, Russell Brand may be out of fashion as well.

5. fixed gears, of which there's an entire blog pretty much dedicated to how pretentious they are. I don't need to say anything else except that it goes some way to explaining 3. I imagine jeans trends spread faster than the mode of transport they were adopted for.