quinta-feira, abril 19, 2018

Hippocrates 2.0 or On How to Put People into Boxes:"The Right—and Wrong—Stuff - How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade" by Caster Cast


Presumably there are four types of persons in the world. To wit:

Those who believe there are four types;
Those who believe there are fewer than four types;
Those who believe there are more than four types;
Those who think the whole idea is cobblers;
Those who don't care (like me).

* Note for pedants.
The list has five elements. This is known as a "joke". I have left you some grammar errors as well to give you something useless to do.

** Note for mathematicians.
We could usefully consider the fifth element as a description of the null set in this context. Feel free to discuss whether the presence of a null set invalidates the claim that dividing a set into four subsets covers all parts of the original set.

Seriously. Really. Strikes me as unlikely that we fit into five professional "categories": Captain Fantastic, the Solo Flyer, Version 1.0, the One-Trick Pony, and the Whirling Dervish (I like the names though). Is there here something really new? Nah, Cast nicked the idea off Hippocrates. This has been around since ancient times when the four types were choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. Speaking for myself I was never one to believe we could be pigeonholed. Aye right, “there is no one-size-fits-all solution" - but four (or five according to Cast) sizes? Yep, that just about covers the entire human population.

I was tempted to buy the book, but the "Solo-Flyer' part of my personality convinced me that I already knew what Cast was trying to tell me. In addition, the "Captain Fantastic' part of my personality made me ask why someone would be an authority on fitting people into categories? The 'Whirling Dervish' part of my personality doesn't understand how a book could make my life any happier anyway, while the 'One-Trick-Pony' part of me says that the cash would be better spent on alcohol. I finally decided to to compromise and read the Audio version of the book instead...

Until we can study the physical science of the brain more effectively, making 'laws' of this kind of thing is really just guesswork and not even guesswork in the sense that philosophical principles are developed by logic but just literally guessing. It has been my observation from having worked in at least 10 different places (Consultant, Project Manager, 2nd line Manager, IT Ops Officer, Operational Manager, and Service Manager) that the most compliant workers are usually the most miserable.

You see, there are two things that tend to screw the compliant:

A) There are assholes everywhere (not that many, but usually one or two), and it's usually the compliant that they prey upon;
B) Plenty of people in this world make assertive and assured statements on things they know little (sometimes nothing) about and the compliant types will follow their advice just as readily as anybody else's, often with horrible results.

I say this because I've seen more than once the more compliant people be repeatedly bullied by assholes and/or sent down the wrong path by those whose low self-confidence doesn't allow them to publicly admit that they do not know something well. Sadly I lack the personal equilibrium to endure incompetence, especially from top management.

Whatever happened to "Be yourself" or "Create your own principles"?

It is possible that we adopt different tendencies in different contexts and the truly worked out person knows which tendency to use in any one context. Ever since the Greeks recommended 'Know yourself' that has been an important aspect of well- being but to be told in advance that you must be one tendency or another is very limiting. This seems a personal approach not based on any scientific analysis of personalities. Remember the days when we were either extrovert or introvert and no other options seem relevant. This seems the same. Personality is too rich and individual to fit into categories.

Were I to interview a number of 'gurus' who had written books on how to take stress out of your life and I'd probably found them all incredibly stressed in their actual lives!

This is the reason I never cared much for self-help books. Should we all aspire to be compliant workers and bright-eyed leaders? Nope. I've been on both sides of the barricade (consultant and later on as a 2nd line manager of a SAP Business Unit). If only Van Gogh had been a bit more upbeat he might have been a better team member and wouldn't have wasted his time on all those depressing paintings. Why do publishers peddle this vapid tripe aimed at refashioning a more productive liberal-democratic-professional 'you'?

My own contribution for a future managerial self-help book entitled "The Five Tendencies". What sort of people would buy "The Five Tendencies" you ask? My suggestion:

- those who will purchase the printed version of The Five Tendencies;
- those who will purchase the digital version of The Five Tendencies;
- those who will purchase the digital audio version of The Five Tendencies;
- those who will read The Five Tendencies without purchasing it,
- those who don't give a flying fart about The Five Tendencies.

The author will surely perceive the first three only as the happy ones.

All the self-help books I have read are full of unattributed anecdotes, followed by pseudo psychological nonsense. Any real advice would usually fill a few paragraphs, and is often the same thing dressed up in different ways. Get more exercise, challenge yourself, declutter your life, put yourself first!" There!

NB: 3 stars for the funny category names and professional reminiscences. I liked them. Colourful, aren't they?

terça-feira, abril 17, 2018

Walking Ahead into the Darkness: "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin

“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”

InThe Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Thank you, Ursula k. Le Guin, for encouraging me to celebrate my peculiarities. The short story about 'Omelas' is as insightful a demolition of utilitarianism I've ever read. Well, I didn't mean refutation, I meant demolish the underlying rationale. If we're all OK with someone perfectly innocent being lumped with all misery so we can be happy, then it's for the greater good, no? If we're not happy with that trade, and I doubt any society that isn't made of psychos would be, then for the utilitarianism is obviously undesirable as second order moral justification.

Utilitarianism is supposed to be a way to be good, by maximizing happiness. But if maximizing happiness above all else leads to evil, then it's a bit of a non-starter. If you bring in rules and regulations to stop leading to an Omelas type scenario, then these are meta rules that aren't justified by utilitarianism, and so you're leaning on something else, or shorter, you've stopped justifying your acts by utilitarianism and at best it's become are process within the framework. In real life, we can't know what maximizes happiness, and so it's all a bit philosopher’s armchair. The story cuts through that, and lets us know what it might mean to maximize happiness and what it might cost. I see a pretty obvious answer if you value treating people fairly, and that's eschewing maximizing happiness.
Anyway, enough of my half-remembered ideas on philosophy...

The Kantian will say it is never acceptable to treat anyone merely as a means to the ends of others -- which the society of Omelas does. But consider: Save for one wretched child, Omelas is the absolute best society one could imagine. (If you don't like my sketch of this utopia, says Le Guin in the story, tweak it to match your ideal of perfection.) In practice, every society has many individuals living wretched lives. Omelas has more real happiness and less misery than we will ever achieve this side of paradise. To free the child or to walk away would accomplish what -- give one a feeling of personal virtue perhaps, but at what cost to others?

At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. They place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Bottom-lineI think the last paragraph of "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" one of the most perfectly judged, achingly evocative things ever. It speaks to so many of us.

sábado, abril 14, 2018

Brontosaurus Shit: "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share."

In “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt

"’a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to take the context as well, so far as need requires. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less deliberate than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and independent with more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the 'bullshit artist'"

In “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt

The current state-of-affairs (I won't name any more names) is not b... s... It is elephant shit! Or is it chicken shit? I know! It's Brontosaurus shit! Let's start by dropping the euphemisms. Not bullshit, not alternative facts, nor post-truth - but lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies. That's all we know how to do. The difference is important between a liar and a bullshitter. All politicians for instance, bend or interpret their own version of the truth but it is possible for us to take a view on their reasoning and motives. Bullshitters like Trump, Farage, and Socrates (a former Portuguese Prime-Minister) literally couldn't care less and will say absolutely anything to anyone to get what they want and pivot 180 º in an instant. Whatever it is you wish to measure, intelligence or other key parameters, half the population is below average. Yes, I know the difference between mean and median. Many are simply not capable of the intellectual rigor required to analyze carefully the output of our former Prime-Minister Socrates. Like Trump, they are at the mercy of the last thing they heard that appealed to their prejudices or their emotions. It used to be, in the US, in Portugal, that party higher-ups would limit the choices faced in general elections to two candidates who were not too far from the middle ideologically, and not terribly incompetent, in general. That system has broken down, and wealthy individuals who buy themselves a place in the spotlight can overcome party leadership and wrest the nomination away from party regulars. I read a story a day or two ago pitting Donald Trump against The Rock in a presidential preference poll. I better retire to a desert island then, because the phenomenon I accurately describe above, is not going anywhere. At least not unless and until the population wakes up. Which is unlikely, as long as all they do is watch TV all night.

I don't know what the fix is, but if it doesn't come soon, Trump and Socrates could be the tip of the iceberg. Mass and social media are competing with each other to feed the monster. I am not optimistic.

Most of the problem is short attention spans and poor education. People can't be bothered doing the laborious reading to find out the facts. Part of it is the fall in the quality of journalism. When did you last read an in-depth article in a journal on the one thousand-year history of relations between Ukraine and Russia? Or a comparison of those relations to those between Scotland and England, for instance? When did you see an analysis of the vital importance of Sevastopol in Russian history? Without that kind of detailed historical background no intelligent judgments can be made about current events. Nobody apparently has time for it, not even journalists who are paid to do it. A tiny handful of academics are privy to the facts, most other people are wallowing in ignorance. The other major problem is the need to simplify in order to get your argument across within very limited space. This means making a selection of facts, and leaving other facts out. Almost all arguments are between two people adducing different sets of facts to support their case. The facts may all be correct. But there are in a sense two "alternative sets of facts." Each person is emphasizing the facts that support their case. Nobody is lying. They are merely leaving things out. They are not giving the whole picture. This degradation of the level of journalism and political argument is simply the consequence of the world we live in: no time, no appetite for reading in depth, too much distraction, and who cares? Nobody can be bothered reading a ten-page refutation of a politician's stupid argument: so why not just insult him instead? It's quicker. It gets more hits and likes. More people understand it. It gives instant satisfaction. That's the age we live in. Heinlein used to say: “What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? […] Get the facts!” In this day and age, the question is not how to get the facts, but to get the “right” facts…

Bottom-Line: I am going to try to give up bullshit now. But first I must quit bullshitting.

NB: I think there is only one solution to this problem: make sure a sufficient number of the population receive an education in enlightenment values. Including such novel things as:

- Absolute truth exists;
- Striving for the truth has intrinsic (and perhaps ultimate) moral virtue;
- Lying & deception is bad;
- Discourse & debate is how to resolve problems;

And I'd add for good measure:

- Life doesn't revolve around politics, go out and have fun.

That's the only way to do this without falling back to some sort of explicit class system which denies the "little people" from political engagement or visibility in the press. We quite correctly realised a wee while ago that such an authoritarian measure is unacceptable. Post-modernism has a lot to answer for.

sexta-feira, abril 13, 2018

We're Trillions of Light-Years from Home: "Lost in Space" (2018) by Netflix

"We're trillions of light-years from home!"

In "Lost in Space" (2018 version)

I've just watched the first episode, but neither this first take nor some misguided people will persuade me that there’ll be much to engage an adult. It looks to me like they passed the show through the usual J.J. Abram Makeover Machine, particularly the robot, who resembles a character from an anime inspired PS4 game. If too many of the scenes are similarly generated in the series, with a constantly floating from point to point camera and the cast digitally comped in to say a few breathy lines whenever we zoom through a window, then I’ll keep getting that feeling I get with many a Netflix original SF creation - that I need to keep my controller to hand for when these overly long and confusing cut scenes end and the Benfica vs. Porto football game starts next Sunday. Yeah, I’ve not got high hopes for it, but it’s not like the original campy nonsense was highly regarded as gritty SF as well. I think the camp/kitsch aspect is what made the original series so popular. Removing that seems like removing the entire soul of the series. It was (after the black&white first series) completely camp and completely kitsch at the time - that was the whole idea. The monster in one of the episodes was a giant carrot for goodness' sake. The mid-60s (1966 to be precise) is well documented as when the mainstream suddenly cottoned on to the idea of camp (Susan Sontag having been the first to pin down what it was in her "Notes on Camp" a couple of years before). "Batman" led the way and is (along with the increasingly outlandish "Avengers") the best and funniest example, but other shows like "Lost in Space" seized on the sudden popularity of "so bad it's good" as an excuse to not even try to be good when they could attract millions of viewers by being conspicuously terrible.

What about this 2018 foray? All that future technology and they're still lost? Obviously didn't get 'lifetime maps'. Fortunately Zuckerberg knows where they are... This show doesn't look like it's going to contribute anything new - it's just trading on the name of the original while throwing out everything that was unique and great about it. The original was made at roughly the same time as Star Trek and could certainly have looked more convincing / high tech than it did - there was a conscious decision to give it a B-movie aesthetic (with most of the weekly monsters being actors in funny outfits) and the robot may look cheaply made but it was actually beautiful (particularly in the black and white seasons), not something that can be said of the new 'robot'. And the original had a member of the Robinson family who had been a member of the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music for crissake!! I know which of the two shows people will be watching on You Tube or its equivalent in thirty years time (clue: not the re-boot).

Bottom-line: This is not SF!! It's "Neighbours in Space". Do the robots have children together ? Do they survive on minimum wage working as cleaners? Rather a robot than another Tom Cruise clone...I reckon we won't properly explore space until we've really fucked up this planet and then we (as in wealthy people) need to escape in a spaceship leaving a sweet robot to clean up the planet of course who listens to old Louis Armstrong songs and falls in love with another robot. That's my original idea. Nobody better steal it.

Bottom-line II: In the trailer the mother, presumably a scientist, yells, "We're trillions of light-years from home!" WTF?? The entire visible universe has a diameter of roughly 34 billion (with a "b") light-years. If one could, somehow, travel trillions of light-years from Earth one would be in an alternate universe, one in which the laws of physics as we know them would most likely not apply (being outside the smoothing effect of the inflationary period which gave us uniform physics). How can I watch a show which would make such an egregious error? And right after Hawking died! Insult to injury. But someone from the audience reading this post exclaims: "It's okay Manuel; in the next episode it's revealed that the mother in fact suffers from a speech impediment which causes her to substitute a 't' for a 'b' ". The show is set very far in the future. Presumably the set of accepted 'scientific facts' at that time will be at least as widely divergent from the current set of accepted scientific facts as the current set is from the set in existence about 200 years ago. But if you can't agree with this, then fuck it: it's really just a stupid TV programme meant to entertain some people. Don't get too hung up on trainspotter ephemera." Of course this person from the audience said "scientific facts," which is much broader than physics. I used to have a biology textbook from the early 20th century. It was full of interesting "facts" like masturbation being a cause of insanity. One can feel superior reading things like that, but that book made me think about how people hundreds of years from now might read science textbooks from the early 21st century and shake their heads and laugh...Oh well...

Bottom-line III: "Lost in Space 2018" seems a bit shopworn.  If you're a seasoned SF reader, do not watch this crap. I trained for films like these by watching Star Trek for the last 30 years. There isn't a SF film out there that can out-technobabble Trek. In shows like "Lost in Space" it seems like there will always be a 'singularity' or a tachyon field to be face every second episode, but at least everything isn't resolved in a 'climax' with a sonic sodding screwdriver...Oh no, they do it much more realistically by "reversing the polarity of the warp coils" and if that fails chuck "dilithium" crystals at the problem...Why do I keep on watching crap like this??? I know. Because deep down I want to believe these new SF TV Shows are bringing something new to the table...no such luck!

SF = Speculative Fiction.

terça-feira, abril 10, 2018

milSF Without Story: "Ironclads" by Adrian Tchaikovsky

As a seasoned SF reader, I've always disagree strongly with the assessment of milSF as glorification of war; "The Forever War", after all, betrays the political strand of extreme dubiousness about war that also exists in science fiction, a strand demonstrated also in novels such as John Scalzi's “Old Man's War”, but that could equally be seen in “Veteran” by Gavin Smith (which contains a number of other left-wing themes) and the aforementioned New Model Army by Adam Roberts, which is deeply entrenched in liberal, democratised thinking about war, glorifying it to some extent but also attacking it. The fact is this: milSF has a certain concern, and that isn't to show war in its grand scale and all its effects, but to show it from the perspective, normally, of the troops. Dan Abnett's “Gaunt's Ghosts” is a great example of a series that does this - a Warhammer 40k spinoff series, I might add - without glorifying war as a whole, beyond the fact that certain characters believe in the glory of war; to deny that soldiers may think war is glorious is to simplify it in the exact opposite way that you accuse milSF of doing, but is just as problematic and perilous. That's all just scratching the surface, without looking at the glorification of war in fantasy such as Terry Brooks' “Sword of Shannara” and Markus Heitz' “The Dwarves”, either. War and milSF are not the same. War has been a topic for Story since forever but the mil SF tends to have more weapon, tactics, etc., stuff, I guess. But the way that conflict is treated varies a lot and is more complex than it's been given credit for. A few things: the "military fantasy" that viewers get drawn into in “Battlestar Galactica” IS the fact that only the military can save humanity (as microbes were the saving grace in Well's “War of the Worlds.”) Yeah, civilian government, yada, yada - except one that is mightily curtailed by the state of martial law that's imposed, figuratively if not actually (would have made a much better story if they'd offed the civilians for purported collaboration with the Cylons, imposed full conscription and then all died in the end, lol). There are, it seems to me, two basic strains of military science fiction: that represented by works such as “Forever War”, “Starship Troopers”, “Old Man's War”, “Hammers Slammers”, King David's Spaceship, “Dorsai” and even “Bill, the Galactic Hero”, and those represented by things like Honor Harrington and much of the Baen 'fleet': that difference being that the former concentrate on the human effects of war - which is usually presented as something that has been unwilling imposed on the race, while the latter seem to glory in the technocracy of war. That former type of "military science fiction" is what I personally prefer to read. Every time I read a milSF novel I remember what Disch wrote in his book "The Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of": “the vile relationship between commercial SF and the military-industrial complex is well covered therein"; Disch approaches the SF work of (amongst others) Newt Gingrich - a truly depressing experience, enlightened by the anecdote about the American general who demanded, on watching “The Empire Strikes Back”, that his weapon designers build him an army of AT-ATs - only to be told to finish watching the sequence as Luke Skywalker drew attention to their weak spot - string around the legs.

NB: The treatment of warfare in fantasy is also interesting. Martin's “Song of Ice and Fire” shows armies of thousands clashing to satisfying 'honour' and political aims rather than any overwhelming threat to anyone's existence, leaving thousands dead, but Martin doesn't let his characters off the hook in evading responsibility. Even his most ruthless general at one point says, in answer to criticism of an assassination he had ordered, "Why is it better to kill forty thousand men on the battlefield rather than a dozen at dinner?" I sometimes wonder if at least one aspect of the critical response to the fourth novel is that Martin isn't showing the swords clashing and arrows flying any more, but instead is showing the shattered landscape, destroyed villages, abandoned refugees and the other inevitable consequences of war, which is simply not as much 'fun'.

Adrian Tchaikovsky does not bring anything new to milSF. The fact that literary SF (at the book stores) continues to decline in terms of sales and market percentage is a clear indication that almost all has already been invented. So, at the same time people like me cheer the kicking-out of the hoary old conservative white hetero male POV, literary SF on the other hand is gradually becoming a niche academic industry with niche academic marketability. While mainstream SF (in the form of movies, comics, and games) continues to go great guns. Perhaps consumers want to be entertained, more than they want to be sermonized? Perhaps if literary SF molded itself more after “STAR WARS 1977” and stopped being so dreary and dyspeptic, going on and on about social criticism, humanities theory, and contemporary pop-angst navel-gazing, the genre wouldn't be contracting? Bold tales, told boldly. That's the stuff, my friends. 31st century Hornblower swinging into action with a laser blaster and a cutlass, a beautiful damsel (also wielding a laser blaster and cutlass) at his side. All else . . . well, again, not everything written will be to every taste. Just don't be surprised if your dreary dyspeptic social studies sermon (disguised as fiction) doesn't blow the doors off at Barnes & Noble. Any sufficiently elaborate story is a product of its time, society and the politics of its author. Clever (and successful) writers know this; they use imagery, dialogue, character names, situations and subtext to tell bigger stories about human exploration or frailty. The writers who fail are the ones who don't put the effort in to add this depth to their stories and simply allow their own convictions to fall into the text unplanned. And so people with a strong religious conviction (but no discipline or editor) might continually write stories about saviours and sacrifice without realising it, and yet they might miss the religious subtext in, for example, The “Green Mile” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” because they're "just stories."

It's the way these stories relate to daily life that makes them interesting to me. A story without depth is not a story; it’s a plot.

domingo, abril 08, 2018

The Man Flu: "Five to Twelve" by Edmund Cooper

There are undoubtedly many factors that influence the trends revealed by some statistics - social roles, required sustenance levels, lifestyle, physical conflict, sacrifice, etc, as well as the fact that we already know that men have lower life expectancy. Men and women are different, but equal. It's a sad state of affairs when the idea that men die younger is wheeled out with smugness as some kind of victory, complete with a picture of a jubilant old woman (are we supposed to assume that she is specifically laughing about the death of her husband or a close male relative?). I fully and completely acknowledge that women have been, and are being, subjected to terrible treatment due simply to their gender - however I don't think the way to address that issue is to put the boot on the other foot and start kicking the other way instead. (Is the notion that your own husbands, brothers, sons, are going to die statistically younger really something to be triumphalist about? Does that make them weak?) As nice as it may be to get some payback, and I'm not saying that towards a lot of men it isn't deserved, the real problem in our society is that men and women are taught to be opposing sides and are pitted against each other; we are stuck in a conflict of men vs women. It's true that men have traditionally had the upper hand, but (some variants of) feminism seeks only to level the scores, or to give women the upper hand. What really needs to happen is that we end the ridiculous rivalry and work together to make life better for everyone. Let's end the gender pay gap, stop women being treated like objects, end the shaming of women, have women properly represented in our legislature. Let's also address the issue of why most suicides are men, why the majority of homeless people are men, and let's not make it sound like men dying younger is a victory that proves how weak they are, and can be phrased as such in a respected national newspaper. We can do both. Am I being too idealistic? We are socially equal (and that's a good and normal thing), but not biologically equal. We're complementary, that's even better than equal! And that does not imply any judgment of one is better than the other at this or that. I have heard women claim their superiority all my life, while hearing the same from men that we are superior (less so these days, in the climate of political correctness). There is little to indicate that either are right, but each gender seems to cherry pick its 'facts', and believe it fervently. Such are the common failings in every stripe of humanity, with our ability to deceive ourselves. This article is a good example. If women live a little longer than men at the very end of a human life span, who cares? It does not add anything to society or humanity, to be able to cling on a little longer. That is a hopeless metric to be claiming superiority on. This has been known for centuries. It is also true of other mammal species; every farmer, every breeder of dogs knows that infant mortality among males is higher than among females. The normal excess of women over men in human populations shows that the same is true of us. There is probably an evolutionary reason, dating from long before civilisation, for the difference. While men are stronger (and need to be to hunt, work and fight for their community; speaking for myself, I never hunted, I work my butt off every single day, and I only fight when the need arises...) they are essentially disposable. No lasting harm will be done to the gene pool or the tribe if many of them are wasted in action. Women need to survive; without that, in a generation there will be no family, no tribe or no nation. Accordingly, they have a different hormonal balance (less testosterone and physical aggression for one thing); less muscle but more fat reserves.

In a word: men need to be and to do, and women to do and to be as well.  

I remember reading Edmund Cooper's "Five to Twelve", a satire set in the closing years of the 21st Century in which society is controlled by women and men are relegated to servile status. Although comedic, the humour contains serious undertones, especially the division of women into infertile Doms, who govern, and the pitiful Infras, who are little more than baby factories. Written in the late sixties, it is an obvious reaction to the Women's Liberation movement, but I find some of the arguments still resonate today, especially the concept that modern feminism is targeted for the benefit of a certain "class" of women. Of course, it is written by a man, and his sympathies reside mostly with the male protagonist, the Sport Quern, but it is surprisingly empathic towards both the Dom who he is compelled to pleasure, and the Infra who he impregnates so the Dom can have a child. A dystopian future with (some) women "on top"? I can't determine whether it really is anti-feminist or simply a comedic warning of the perils of "wanting it all". I think (given when it was written) it is not anti-feminist as such - but rather uses the inversion to advance women's rights...

NB: Basic genetics lesson. Females have two X chromosomes and males only one. (Note that Y chromosomes barely contain any genes.) This creates the advantage of genetic redundancy. Obviously this means men suffer from more X-chromosome related diseases, like colour blindness. But on a much broader scale, where multiple genes are interacting, it can be expected that two X chromosomes will have other advantages. This means, males by having only one X chromosome, help to strengthen the pool of X chromosomes available to females. This is selection at work. If a male survives birth, becomes strong, healthy and fertile with only one good X chromosome, then it might be worth breeding with him. 

Bottom-line: Men just get on with it. Except for when they have the flu. Exactly WHAT do men 'get on with'? Life. Fucking everything up mainly. The man flu: it's a cold. Women must be stronger because they never seem to get ManFlu either.  It's a condition invented by advertisers to make women think they need to buy Lemsip for their manchild who can't operate a washing machine, cook dinner or change nappies because he's too busy putting his muddy boots on the floor or oily hands on the clean towels.

sexta-feira, abril 06, 2018

Ronaldo's WTF Moment: Overhead Goal - Juventus vs. Real Madrid

(7.8 feet; 4.62 feet)

Can’t believe how high he jumped...As the kids say, it was sick!

There’s been many superlatives to describe Ronaldo’s wonder-goal but the one I coined describes it best..It was a “God-goal” If God scored goals they would be like Ronaldo’s. He jumps about 5 feet in the air and picks out a cross about ten yards out, with his back turned to the goal - And Scores. Outrageous... Obscene... If you put that in a comic book it would be universally rubbished as impossible.... infantile fantasy....But no, this is CR7, the game’s greatest ever player who makes the impossible - reality. He defies description and shames all who came before him (*swoon*)

But it is impossible to like him unless you are a) a Man U fan, b) a Real fan, c) Sporting Fan, d) Portuguese, e) a lover of narcissists or f) hate Messi/Barcelona/Argentina. Anyone see his narcissism-for-the-ages documentary? I was nauseous. And that was his film, he thought it made him look good; g) if you hate the creepy Ronaldo's statue at Madeira airport. Bottom-line: he's so good that it's hard to dislike him despite his narcissism. Yes, he's a pompous so-and-so. Yes, he's an incredibly selfish player. But when he scores goals like that, all is forgiven in my mind. Horrible man, great footballer (*ruffle-his-hair*). You don't have to like him as a person to appreciate and enjoy his talent. The same happens with the some writers. Horrible persons, but wonderful writers (Hamsun, Golding, Ezra Pound, etc.)

NB: It was an insane, wtf moment; remember where you were; goal for the ages. Juve fans’ reaction was sensational and elevated the moment. Ronaldo is a superb goal scorer and possibly the best footballer to score goals ever.

For more wtf moments: