Monday, 13 November 2017
I was not really in his worst of all sinners category - That of the "DABBLER".
The dabbler of course merely dabbles. They take up new sports or try a new level which challenges them a little, persue it for a while, gain some success and then fall off or fail.
EEK! Not me!
Well perhaps other people SEE me like this when they read my CV or get an impression of me.
To me my career has been about putting a lot of painful threshold crossing, then some trial and error in, running on the plateau of experience, and then notching up to achieve things a little higher. However I have been a little generous with myself perhaps?
From the outside I can seem a little unenthusiastic, reluctant, sceptical and maybe lacking confidence. Certainly looking back I lacked a lot of positiveness in front of asshole bosses I had to put up with to get a couple of year's experience under my belt in each of my three or four chosen career routes. There is a pain barrier, because of this dynamic and me being a little too big an ego when it concerns my 42 hours a week base line of work and commuting. I'm here arent I? I'm qaulified, and if you explain the task and your expectations I will do it brilliantly, However it is that little dynamic there eh, that breaks down.
The thing is I have had to work with a lot of this type of employee as people I have had to either cooperate with or manage within project groups, and it is just the nature of, well, most males in particular,. I never learned to suck up and shit down though. Well a little when that type of dull response with a generous squirt of skepticism comes my way. I only get on by in large, with weak bosses, and have only had a couple of good, strong bosses in my entire career spanning now quarter of a century.
I have had a number of bosses, direct and by proxy, who work by the mantra 'anything is possible, as long as someone else is doing it for me' . That is my pet hate of course, being a healthy sceptic and having a good deal of insight now, and knowing a little that folk thought I was wet behind the ears twenty years ago.
In fact my career, and current malaise is really down to having rather bad bosses and either not suffering them long enough, or suffering them too long. So if the job was good and I could shine in it, I should stay longer, while the reverse if the job was shit and the boss was shit, a double negative game outcome, which I just had in my last position and in my consulting contract before that.
Throughout my career, being a boss boss has meant marrying your job, I have only ever done that in stints of up to 18 -24 months, before divorce or the project ending.
Moving on from that little rant, then I just dont really have the service mindedness, or maybe it is that I seem to be a YES man , CAN DO man, WHIPE SHIT OFF YOUR SHOES, OK man at interview, but I am a beligerant bastard who likes making decisions with external bodies, customers or suppliers, wih the final say.
The trouble is then that I am an APPARENT DABBLER because after a big effort I just kind of move on, while from my point of view I have learned, practised, done well on the plateau, and moved on to the next challenge by changing jobs or contracts.
I am not really one of the other two bad guys in Leonards book, the Hacker and the Obsessive. I don't hack my way up anymore, I used to a long time ago and then kind of plateau out and maybe refuse to accept I was in a comfort zone and needed to go forward. I am far from obsessive in character, but do obsess about somethings with a weird emotional attachment to doing a good and complete job. On paper, my CV, to the world outside I am a dabbler.
The cure for me I know has always been doing something steadier for a time. But I have had some exciting private life opportunities and taken my sports where I have wanted to by in large before in life, and remain in an area of learning and wisdom to help others in those sports, while advancing a little slower physically of course, from a middle age spread low point a few years ago.
I can't do steady because I am not very interested in being loyal to a negative situation, while I am too idle and oddly committed to doing a good job, to get out of a bad position. The last two times I extracated myself, it went kind of badly and then left me here, with a CV more holey than swiss cheese, and about as solid infront of an employer's eyes. I just havent got into really good vibes, but then again I havent always made very good vibes in jobs where other people's negativity could have been over come by my positivity.
Coomunication falls out as I have been told on a number of occaisons, because my ego keeps me off the same side, and sometimes kind of stalling around in trying to comprehend how facile a task I have just been asked to do is, Often it is that I just could not see another way of cooperating or working around other people's stubbornness or egos.
Body language has a lot to say, and that 'oh whit a gift to gi us, to see ourselves as others see us' is there in that part of my personality, THe part they know and I dont
Sunday, 12 November 2017
The new fangled electric internet is a wonderful place to make new friends, stay in touch with old, find common interests, see your niece grow up from afar.......and to feel very isolated and ignored by those who used to mean most to you.
It's a common thing and I see it most by tracking some of my new Cyberfriends out there in internet land. We are actually the generation whcih grew up with the proto-cyber world, when green screen rumblings and phone phreaking evolved into Usenet and the news groups, and sending each other micro blogs in e/post. In fact my first encounter with social isolation if you like was via that. I used to send out what today would be called a micro blog, a post, a chat hook - when I first got a personal e-mail account in 1996. I sent maybe two a month out to a very few people who had e-mail and whom I had spent my best formative years in Glasgow's West End in the late 80s with. Then one chap just came out and said it " Stop Sending Me Bollocks, mate".
It gave me a bitter feeling becasue this was in the days prior to any real spam and inbox overload. I felt socially reprimanded, as if I had walked up to a group of mates in a pub and been told to piss off. The chap who said it though was forthright as a type, and had become a busy B2B public relations consultant in the big smoke, Londinium, where e-mail was becoming the new jungle drums of trendier businesses. It did make me question my relationship to him, and basically he held some kind of grudges for reasons I am only guessing at, so that is enough for now. Suffice to say I have only spoken to him once, and he refuses to face-me , FB that is , ignores my two friends-requests over the last decade of otherwise happy face-ing.
It was a forerunner of what happens now. Being 'sent to coventry' is nothing new on the internet. A green screen predecessor of the world wide web, and the first truly networked game was ' MUD ' - multi user dungeon, as in that which went with Dragons as a social fantasy game which was rampant in the 70s and early 80s. In Mud the creators allowed those who completed the crusade to the finish of the game, to become super users and moderators, and they had the power of the Gods over the cyber personas who played there. The could F.O.D. - the finger of death, which would delete a user. Back then they probably had every user's IP address so it was goodbye and good luck from logging in again if you didn't use another computer. People were thrown out for different reasons, but a major area was being abusive and swearing, which both the 'wizards' could see anywhere and other players could see in the interactive 'rooms' or 'plays' under way.
For my generation people use mostly FB, and hence the younger generation under 25 have packed up their social bags with FB such that parents and older colleagues need not see their 'private' lives, which are only to be shared with a large extended network of SnapChatters or prospective play mates on TInder and the other dating apps. So the over 30s are left on FB as the main users as a social communication network, and it will no doubt age and become senile with them. This means though that we are the most exposed to FB's little systematic quirks and the unspoken etiquette.
We are all 'unfollowing' our friends who are most active on FB. Also there is a little etiquette on FB Messenger, the app' which hijacked Microsofts good work. It used to be called 'ignore' but that was a little too aggressive a language, so FB changed it to unfollow, or you could when I last looked get 'important' posts. I started doing it almost immediately I got an account exactly a decade ago in 2007. I also blocked a couple of rude lunatics and one woman who had talked behind my back in the land of pressing the flesh sociality. As soon as we found each other, we blocked each other in fact. We tend otherwise these days to unfollow people who post too much, or whom we dont really know and wouldnt have a pint with basically. However we live in a glass house.
I first noticed it with a relative who is a house mother with a bit too much time on her hands. When FB had that other people's Likes madness when you got a mass of all and sundry your mates liked, she was all to clearly sitting for a good few hours a day facing. Also there were inspirational life quotesd and diverse 'memes' Even though I shouuldnt have, I put her on ignore, feeling guilty, but she was the main participant on my FB newsfeed, as if she was postering her personal mores over the windows of my house and I could no longer see anything else. When her youngest daughter had a birthday, only four people of the many hundreds of 'Friends' she had on FB sent congratulations, and me and other family seemed to only do so later on in the day when we had remembered to catch up on the cards we had sent by snail. I felt sorry for her, but it was of her own design. FB also felt sorry for her type it seems, and adjusted algorythms to present at least kids birthdays and so on, to a wider audience.
I am a middle high user of FB, but my online pattern has changed thoroughly to most posting and expression of political opinion being in like minded groups, and my hobbies being mostly posted and others followed through such groups. I did this from a burning desire to have an interactive relationship with FB. So this was a result of the fact being that my oldest friends had obviously put me on full ignore and werent liking any of my posts. I was kind of late to that etiquette, but just revenged them all by not following them either, and to be frank the frequent post-ers had pretty innane, irritating and often flagrantly boast posts. Holidays, kids doing something funny, cat or dog doing something funnier, someone left litter outside their house, what did everyone think of the terrrible pot holes in the road outside the nursery school?
After a short time of this going on, a kind of truce was called and a new internet protocol for our loosely connected group of 'year of 86ers' was quickly pasted together on FB messenger. Some of the closest friends had probably started it, but anyway I was invited to our 'reprobates and n'eer do well' club, whose main intention was to have a renunion. At said renunion, a truly wonderful time was had, some bitter sweetness too as we were well into middle age. We even had an FB event page which we could post before, during and after pictures to. Middle age upon us, responsibilities etc, some folk were more tired than others and had to retire earlier to respective sprogs or olds in our home town next day, On the night itself, we had a long afternoon of bevvying as we call boozing in the wild west, followed by a dinner at whcih bless him, the oldest of our crew fell asleep at the table. It all went too quickly, and we would have been far better off doing one of those remote cottage things, where of course someone always has a near nervous break down over their mid life crisis and everyone rallies round, and then wonders what the hell to do with them after the initial cuddles and kind words are over. That would have been better, because frankly for most of us 15 years of time was to be caught up on, and for some 29 years had elapsed since we last spoke ie 1986!
That is a bit of an aside, but such a reunion would probably have been cobbled together anyway by telefone and post card without the use of internet. The point was the aftermath. One of us, who had some sob stories and in fact, never really got himself out of a hole of a dead end job he dug himself into in 1990, decided to have quite little to do with us as a mass after that, but because of that very fact I have to say, he is being forced to be individually sociable with his nearest old boys. (We are very geographically spread, no one within 2 hours of our Alma Mater) Anyway he ignores the Messenger cackle by in large. Now I tried to find some interactive entertainment, realising that all these folk have kids and are in the same boat as me, only more tired on Fridays than my youthful spritelyness and shorter worker hours (hee hee) permit me. And I fell flat on my cybersocial face.
There is then an overall FB etiquette of brevity. Those who are most selective, get most likes. In profile they are most often successful and they post nice things about their family and most of all about their exotic holidays or work related projects. Some of the more lifestyle entrepreneurs seem to use FB as a kind of PR campaign to build a personal brand, copying the style of 'celebrity' pages. I think some peoplke though who are successful and sociable dont NEED social media to be ahem any more extravert and involved in society. Modern life and emmigration have made me an FB junky though. This etiquette of being short, to the point, positive and sharing only life's best orgasmic happenings or sweetest kiddie pic's.
The same extends to messenger,. only there you are communicating minutia and meeting for a pint type stuff, or sharing the odd meme. It is abouut short communications, because most people use their phones and most people are too busy to read even one wrapped scentence which breaks a single line on screen. It is a series of abbreviated spasms we communicate in. I have never learned this etiquette, being used to longer converse, in fact being quite 'long winded'.
On FB very many have me on ignore, but FB have a cunning plan. They post other wise unfollowed content onto the newsfeed of friends when the content has important key words, and people have started liking or reacting to the post, and replying with some important triggering key words. I did this, on a life issue of throwing in the towel with my wife and job situation, and after months of feeling isolated I suddenly felt a little too much that I had let myself be caught up in my own gold fish bowl. People even translated the post, which was a kind of cry for help in terms of getting a new job and a place to perhaps ease a trial separation. I started to feel that both FBs algortyhms and half my FB friends list were lurking me and now patronising me. The rub came when people came up to me in the street and talked to me about it, having not reacted on social media, but having read it.
Anyway that was kind of an example of both how to do it on FB when you know you are being ignored, post less often but post more 'important' keywords, and what not to do, be a little too personal expose. In truth I am unfulfilled by my relationship with FB, because it seems I give it a lot of time and I get little of substance back. Hobby wise, politically, on the local historic pages, we are all patting each other on the back and being nicey nice. I have tried some serious cyberpub conversations over politics or sport, in posts or via messenger or even e/mail, but I find the same as I did at Uni - I get in touch with 'liberal believers' or 'conservaitve rationalisers' who are not actually very open minded. I have found that dipole of the internet - there are few floating voters or radical thinkers in these groupings, they are self perpetuating opposites. The left and the right. The established and the new. The etheral crystal tree hugger and trhe v8 chevvy driver. The accomplished sportsman and the novice. The 'published' photographer with the 10 grand gear, and the cheap skate with a super zoom going birding. I could elaborate, there seems to be little space for a communist-free-market-existentialist-dabbler like me.
Building up new cyberpals then to replace or supplement your real friends who have you on ignore, is no subsitute in fact. It is a shallow distraction. If you could of course meet up with them, then fine. THen you could make a bond, have a new 'bromance' with a like minded fellow, or one of those oh-so-knowing middle aged flirts like Wendy Craig and her admirer in 'Butterflies' from the 1970s. However it just isnt happening, we hold each other at an arms length. I even have a local potential good pal, who I find I am afraid to befriend further, and he explained our friendship to a bystander once we did meet up socially at a party, as an FB thing , we Faced together, but I had some issue with being shy and insecure. It was a very weird feeling, as if we know each other and respect each other in cyberland, but I need a distance and time in real life, That the usual social approach and queues have broken down and cannot be made up for once we went so far in our acquaintancship on line.
It is a little different with on line dating, and you guessed it I am soon to embark upon that route, enough 35 plus ladies on the apps now to allow for several hours of left swiping a week I see. A friend of mine uses Tinder and some more local market apps. It is like shopping for mobile telephones. You get all the info, you check out the model is right for you, the economics seem right (cash strapped single mum meets salaried man, has to be said sorry but true) and when you first get it in your hands it is instantly rewarding. A tactile experience where you get to try all the complicated applications you used to have to spend far more time getting to. In other words, you skip a few entree courses at dinner and get down to enjoying a sex life. The trouble here is that you both know enough about each other to be a little dangerous. You have your Tinder chat for a while, and you look up each other's time line. At middle age you know your socio-economic direction and are comfortable within those ambitions and social class. So the handset looses its appeal, you realise it is a used model with a few scratches on the screen from earlier misuse or accident. Some of the apps dont actually work as well as you expected, and some stop working after the phone gets a larger load on its processor.
You realise you have taken short cuts and that it is all too easy to cut short, so being a good consumerist, you sneek back on Tiinder to see just in case that you are still in-the-market. You find each other's profile there, previously deactived during your cyber catalysed whirlwind romance, and you part company with a lets-just-BF. You are back shopping. It all happens again. In becomes a transaction, with recylcling of product as the end point. It is all too easy to change your tariff and get a different model which is sexier or costs you less, or is easier to use, or whose batteries last longer.
This happens because relationships are organic, flesh and blood, and we choose to maybe show a little less of our lives to the other in person, and let the flirting and romance drive it forward. However that said, the alternative for over 30s used to be Spanish evening school of those bloody Salsa classes everyone was going to in the naughties once their divorce papers came through, or their hair line reached a height of crisis. You take a short cut of trust when you cyberdate, you build up in other words a good deal of commonality and comfort in deciding to real world date. You have let yourself walk over an imaginary bridge, thinking you both leave your baggage on each bank. You have passed into an area where you are over familiar, over prepared, over eager, over convinced......Some steps, some exchanges of small signals, have been missed. I was you may not be surprised, early out with internet daing, using the 'wall' on the infamous Cybercafe in Edinburgh, Scotland. I met one particularly unhinged young lady who brought a whole enterage of girls with her, one of which I liked and got a long a lot better with ,but she lived 30 miles away so I dropped that line of attack. I was an unashamed young, upwardly mobilish professionalish person then anyway, and decided cyberdating was a silly place, where you could window shop but not get a personal recommendation nor that little love-at-first-sight we experience all our lives, whether or not we do anything with it or not. I have never internet dated since, but did of course use e/mail for my long distance relationship, which frankly always seemed to be better from her side in e-mail, where she was a kind, giving, loving and youthful person, not the grumpy cow she is in real life , and whom I have parted company with after 14 years.
However it is probably not always the case that Cyberdating is too virtual, and those I know who Tinder like above, over the age of 35, are probably a little bit to non committal. You see cyberdated couples hook up for a while and then unravel, but often the next internet instigated romance leads to a new partnership with someone who is a little more screened for compatibility than the previous drunken sex interviews which were dating in the old world of flesh and blood. Like e/mail when it first really took off in business, it lead to far more face to face meetings and sales reps who suddenly lived in the business lounges and transatlantic economy plus seats. It lead to some price parity where before there were far too many cosey high margin local market deals struck on the golf course. It lead most of all to companies consolidating their supply chains and cutting out middle men. Which is a little parallel to dating on line. You can meet a wider market,. some extra romance with the arrival lounge reunion, and you get to screen who you date a little more than which drinking hole you spilt drinks on the other in, or how they were dressed on that night, or if they were ovulating or so on or so on.
Perhaps the thing is that we drop those social qeues and those pheromones when we indulge in social intercourse on the internet. Even between old friends, like I say. But anyway we have to bend with the wind, we neurotic extraverts and chatterboxes.
Here then finally are my tips
1) Start a fresh on FB. Some people just lock down their profile and start a new one in a name a like, using a the opportunity a new mobile phone number presents. Add a middle name, or a nickname in the middle. Some even delete their accounts and start afresh. An alternative is to message all your pals and leave a public message about a virus, and needing a new profile asap, reinviting all later. Then keep to brevity, important posts only.
2) Use restricted list. This means that some of your FB chums are kept a little in the dark, but not too much, because they see only those posts you choose 'public'. I have an old pal who is a crude and irritatting guy, who I have had to do this with because he is just embarressing and went thorugh phases of trying to bait me. I even had to swtich tagging over to being approced, which is not a bad idea but not good if you want to be a little profiled and on news lines. Restricted then is good for colleagues, new FB aquaintances, old flames, and good freinds who post little and like little, but lurk around. It has to be noted that it also restricts what you see automatically of them, but it is assymetrical. Acquaintances is not quite as good in these terms, but you can choose in the pull down each time to exclude that list.
3) Re-post Memes and links most often only in private interest groups you are with. This will help reduce your burden on long suffering friends while keeping you in the hotline of viral meme spreading amongst the converted in these groups.
4) Avoid commenting on public walls & posts from organisations which are public, unless you have friends on there. Very often you will find a private group with the same interests. From these private groups, befriend people who live near enough to you that you will meet up/ see below, or test them out to see if they can have interesting messenger conversations.
5) Allow for tagging yourself, and use tagging to reach a wider audience. If you have experienced Facebook anonymity, neigh ignomosity, then this is a way to creep back into social intercourse, and if you restrict your public postings to nicey or importanty on your wall, then you will get people flicking you off 'unfollowed' to 'follow' once more. Be light handed with it! once or twice a week with differing friends each time, or during a special event you can do get away with some 'density' but you will also get tagged yourself if you start the ball rolling.
6) Use Messenger carefully to 'catch up' . Say that you dont get much if anything on your newsfeed from them, the reverse being true, and wanted to catch up. Keep the scentences short, and sense if the conversation is a little strained. Usual times you would have phoned a pal in the old days to catch up apply - Friday after 1 pm, sunday night. Then just suggest you follow each other again on FB to keep in touch, make sure we select follow.
7) Get on the phone, get down the pub. There is no excuse for endless cyberchatting and then avoiding each other with 'busy' tonight. Don't use FB messenger or Skype, Facetime esepcailly not as it is default video, without express invitation or a discussion about it and how it may be worth a try instead of all this typing. When you do go out, keep your phone on flight or silent mode until an opportune time for a double selfie and then tag each other. Hah, we have a real social life.
8) Do get involved with more local area on line groups and local dating apps and sites instead of having cyberfriends you will never meet. These groups often have meetings or why not suggest a meet up, find a venue willing to have a pile of people turn up on a saturday late afternoon is best if alcohol is involved, Sunday late morning for outdoors or sporty stuff, Tuesday or Wednesday forr poltical interests etc.
The point on 7 and 8, is that you, like me, need to get out more. You are using social media and have become a junky because it is a quick, easy, ersatz means of feeling a little more connected to people and having your ideas and opinions recognised. Be challengeabkle in those opinions, and not like the polarised internet land. I have had many an interesting conversatioon in the pub about economics, politics, scottish independence where there have been protagonists and opponents, and where me and others play devils advocate a little to help our more stubborn and decided pals to see alternative view points That just does not happen on line, it is too easy to be polarised, preach to the converted or avoid a discussion by cutting it short. I have never had a good down the pub discussion really in postings or via Messenger chat with like minded folk. Just one or two get near, and one seems a little of a false profile for someone who maybe knows more about politics and politicians than they care to be open about.
Also it is very cool to meet up with old friends and have surprising news, or just general chat which has not all been covered by facebook postings. I struggle a little actually with some impetuous pals who want me to just pop on a jet and see them. In fact it sours our internet relationship! But being local is good. Also another thing on that point, is not to befriend your new found mates' friends on line until you actually know them a little. Make sure you people know you are sociable and up for invitations to social things. Do it more off line, and use on line like the phone books we all used to write on in the days of analogue lines with mechanical diallers. FB and other social media are really best for that - and started as that via Friends reunited and the early, viral days of FB when it seemed dozens of people were gathering friends without doing any posting, or putting other people instantly on ignore after they saw three of their Likes, never to be then heard of again. You dont see if others have you on restricted or acquaintance you see.
It would be maybe cool to have a one to five rating for friends and one to five for acquaintances. FB's alogryhms do somethign there in serving you uip content from others, and delivering you to others newsfeed. I would have my whole home town on 5 lowest acquaintance and then invite them all to follow me again, just to then have the correct level of silent 'dialogue' with them, in that FB would cut what they see from me, but at least they would see some content.
I am going to readdress my online habits and bneing sociable off line, which just used to happen, but now it seems it is harder this year than any year before in my life for some reason. I have an inertia too which others no doubt sense. I am going to then use social mediua to kindle sociability.
Saturday, 19 August 2017
In my lifetime the world population has doubled. Ironically it was the same year I was born that John Brunner released 'Stand On Zanzibar' his science fiction novel which has proven in part to be perfectly prophetic. In 1968 the world's people could shoulder to shoulder stand on the Isle of Wight, but he correctly predicted it would double from 3.5 billion then and we would be required to Stand on Zanzibar by 2010.
What are the likelidhoods then that we will see an equal rise to around eleven billion people within the latter part of my lifetime? What will this mean for food security, health and the environment? Can the world fundamentally feed itself and avoid catastrophic consequences caused by pressure on resources?
In biology and ecology they talk about set point for any population of organisms. This is a natural equilibrium point where resources are limiting and a population is sustainable or in other words, declines as it reaches diminishing resources. The typical example given, and much studied, is grass-rabbits-foxes. When the foxes get too proliferate, they eat up their own food resources. When the rabbits become too plentiful they too eat up their food resources. When the grass declines the whole ecosystem collapses. Each though has its own risk for population collapse because it reaches a point when suddenly the resources are for practical purposes of availability, used up.
Farmer propogandists who want more power, susbidy and freedom for agriculture and in particular GMO, state that we need food security and we all must match the demand from Stand on Next Island. However these are largely in the west. Europe the USA and to some extent Russia and the former USSR countries havce reached large scale over production. This is from the post war (and post US dust bowl) policies of rewarding new productivity in meeting regional demands for self sufficiency and also in having secure stores of preserved food in the event of a nuclear war. It is only in the last five years that the EU has turned away from this policy of rewarding glut, and is moving towards a free market for the commodities themselves, while rewarding farmers more for defending the natural and global environment.
Some authors and scientists point to the nonsense that we in the west need to feed the developing world or be caught in a global price and resources war. Firstly food security is still a regional area of policy, it is not purely a global free market for big capitalism to exploit and say 'tough luck' when an imagined future declining western economy can't afford the price of bread. Secondly because of this essentially socialist /social democratic reign of subsidy and over production, we already in the west produce enough calories and protein for the entire world population. We will come back to the trouble of inefficiencies and waste around this but first what happens to that overproduction at a higher level, as it aggregates to silos and national figures ?
Here we get into a rather insidious dark side of 'food aid' for the third world and 'affordable food' outside the west. The US is the largest single exporter of aid in commodities of food stuff to in particular, Africa. Within our lifetimes and post war era, the vast majority of Africa has in fact moved away from subsistance and barter to monetary linked economics. Aid looks good on the headlines, but what it does apart from emptying the near-date reserves in the silos, is dump free food on the market not only the area affected by famine, but with direct and indirect ripple effects beyond. Firstly it displaces the monetary economy outside just the worst effected agricultural areas and refugee camps. It is not that well directed and it is plentiful. Secondly some inevitably ends up stolen and on the black market, sold cheap, because unfortunetly, Africa has many corrupt actors. A ring effect to this is that farmers in those regions of Africa who have a monetary supply chain to the affected areas and their surroundings who are 'flooded' with cheap grain, rise and maize. This all keeps US farmers in subsidy for commodities without there being sizeable destruction of food, which would be a scandal. Instead there is a well established 'do gooder' get out clause. The reality is that Africa can feed itself already it only requires sustainable prices such that farmers can expand those crops which are most needed in areas of famine or under production. Susbidy in the west could be used then as aid money directly to this supply chain, but of course we are back to interferences inthe market and corruption. However in rewarding countries who fight corruption and establish the rule of law and monetary economics, a great favour is done to Africa as a whole. It becomes regional cross border trade and the subsidy is used by buyers who are acting carefully so as not to distort the market price too much. In effect an area of famine represents a decline in demand for African produce in the monetary economy anyway so there is potential for some balancing.
We come back to over production of calories and how the west on a large scale, wastes this. Firstly the largest inefficiency is feeding beef in particular. Cattle used to be grass raised, which is fine in the alluvial and high pastures but these lands became expensive and meat prices went up. As cattle were then ranched and driven over huge areas of poorly vegetated land, this in turn became self limiting during drought or over grazing. So the US turned first to maize (part of the E.Coli 0151 scandal, another story) which is not a natural feedstuff for cows but they grow quickly on its high carbohydrate and reasonable protein content in semi arid areas, like much of Texas. Then the entire western worlds farrmers fell in love with the even higher yielding addition of high protein Soya to the diet of cattle. Soya now is as much as slash and burn catatstophe as Palm Oil but in a far wider scale - from the Rain Forrest of Brasil and other S. American countries, to the 'clearances' of small farmers in central Africa, we have created demand for a cash crop by our love of the burger, mince n' tatties and the satruday night fillet steak.
Secondly we in the west now throw away a huge amount of food at the consumer level, and a smaller amount (which oddly enough attracts all the scandal calling) in the value added supply chain. Some US and EU households are throwing away between a quarter and a third of food they buy or have cooked too much of. On average one estimate is an eight, 12% is simply thrown out after meals or straight from the fridge and larder. This is for two reasons. Our love affair with variety and that food is now a far lesser proportion of our expenditure, and seen as cheap. The USA has a particular issue with large pack sizing, and here we come to another form of deliterious 'waste' of calories. Obesity.
Now I am overweight, I have a reasonably sized beer gut despite being quite active. I represent a sub clinical mass of middle aged folk, while the biggest threat to morbidity and premature mortality in very many western countries is obesity and the related illnesses of heart disease and diabetes. Our excess calories, beyond c.2000 kcal per day for a man like me, go onto our bellies. 'Super sizing' and processed food prioduction are cited as major causes of this epidemic, a western lifestyle pandemic, but in fact we can all afford healthy food if we cut down on the calorie intake and avoid expensive meats if not just becoming vegan. Even two meals a week vegan would help.
In future then we actually have a plus side of obesity in a macabre fashion. Firstly we may as farmers warn, experience rapid price inflation on the basics of food, and in particular on beef as it wastes so many potential calories in the slow and 'farty' growth of cattle. So people will start looking at the food they eat and what it takes out their wallets, and western farmers will see less need for subsidy and in effect also price support if not price fixing. Secondly we see a sharp rise in mortality amongst fifty to seventy year olds over the next decade, coupled to the stagnant birth rate, leading to less domestic demand for foodstuffs as the population declines.
The market increase in price of goods, in particular animal protein, which the rapid rise in population forward will probably entail, means also that farming becomes a more lucrative business in developing countries and standard crops suited to a climatic or soil area of a country, become cash crops on the world market. This means that people will eat less meat in the third world per head, and focus more on affordable plant protein and energy. We reach a chinese diet , where traditionally a small amount of pork of chicken (both more efficient per kilo input of plant stuff for making protein) coupled to nutritious vegetables in a larger amount, then with plain carbohydrate for energy in each evening meal. We then see more people having more vegetarian only days, purely by market mechanism, and 'mock meats' made from vegetable and myco proteins (fungus, Quorn for example).
(Fisheries are now very much in question in terms of sustainability, and the same for aquaculture which has been shown to be very 'dirty' in terms of its supply chain including unsustainable palm oil, third world soya, and fish protein like sand eels which threaten the north sea's econ system. Already in the last two decades we have seen that local substiance fishing and local market economy fishing is being globalised rapidly and then becomes almost immediately unsustainable as over fishing races to the bottom in each poor area, and destroys the fishery and sometimes entire eco systems. We also have the back drop of accelerated global warming which will threaten many fisheries, although may extend the population of some palgiant species greatly. )
We have a quaint view of the third world as being simple, local and subsistant in terms of small farms, fisherman and hunter gathering and this is completely out of date. It is perpetuated because those areas which still indulge in this are photogenic, pure and simple, colourful and quaint and no longer representative of the globalising and monterising factors of all natural and agricultural food supply chains. GMO was sold to us as curing the ills of the third world, while in fact it has created more overproduction and local environmental problems in the west, and locked many third world farmers out of international markets or some crop types because they are too expensive to buy seed for, and too expensive in particular to then manage with the high doses of herbicide and pesticide which the west affords itself. The largest selling GMO crops are engineered with resistance to herbicide so that higher levels can be used. We have a frankenstein monster which is more of economic nature than a biological threat.
We touched on self limitation of rabbits and foxes, and then also on what is happening to human health in the western world with for the first time since 1945, a declining life expetancy on average and a spike of premature death related to obesity, lack of exercise and smoking. In future if we start to see relative rises in food prices and even availability in more areas of the developing world, then this too leads to a self limiting growth in the population as children cannot be fed. We have the risk of famine, where infants are the victims and fertility is also reduced in malnourished women. However it is not just plain biological limitations, there are economic limits in theory.
Doom sayers have long since told us that if the third world was to aspire and achieve the western material standard of living, then the physical world would have to be three times the size it is now. However there is a paradox here in terms of population. In the UK for example, birth rates fell from the cliche'ed 1970s 2.4 kids, to an average brood of 1.6, meaning in effect domestic population decline as we fail to even make up for our own prescence on earth. This is also true of the USA. Both nations have for many years been reliant on immigration to boost their populations and work forces, and both nations have a large proportion of the 'angry white worker' population who have become super sceptical to immigration, as their standard of living has ceased to better itself and declined in many urban areas. Fine when you are getting a mexican gardener or polish builder to do a job at a fraction of the cost of an indigenous firm, on time too, but not when as a mass they supress wages and inflate the cost of housing Such is the rentier nature of economics these days.
Here comes the greatest irony. Immigrants have traditionally come from developing countries with eitther Catholicism or Islam as their religions with their anti contraception conditioning, or from other lands where a large family is the culture. However within two generations the descendents of those 'one of a family of twelve' have normalised to within the average of the national average. In part you can say that they have learned the value of contraception and family planning in a secular society, and turned their back on religious doctrine,. However that is really not the story. It is the emancipation of women and the cost of housing which drive the western birth rate down. The two exacerbate each other actually. Demand for a better material and experiential lifestyle and inflation in the 1960s and 70s lead to the widescale entry of women back into the workforce.This in turn lead to inflation in the property ladder as back then families competed for desirable 'two ups/two downs' in the metropolitan suburbs. Then as women became more emancipated in the 80s with their own independent careers two things happened. Firstly there was more demand for starter flats and single occupant rented accomodation. Secondly the average age of first birth in women jumped from mid twenties to late twenties, and among more educated and affluent middle class women, it went on into their mid thirties.
Also we have then that other great western social phenomena relating to the emancipation of women and the secularisation of society - divorce, and the lesser documented seperation from unofficial partnerships. Common reasons for divorce are conflicts of interest over career and work/family balance, relocation of one partner for work, fertility issues and the now old chestnut, men's poor willingness to do housework. This is then as much a symptom then of economics as it is of any social or biological phenomenom. In turn this is a major effect on the rate of birth because the eventual biological limit is around 44 in women, and many couples experience poor fertility in their 30s on either or both gonadal sides. People are more aware of the price of housing per bedroom too. In effect due to pressure on income and stagnant wages for a large swaithe of salaried workers in administration, customer service and semi technical proffessions, there are less kids planned and more break ups due to poor economic prospects.
Housing is a key in this equation, meaning that western workers are locked into dependency on metropolitan jobs and a dependency on a very high proportion of income going on mortgages, and increasingly, just on renting and perhaps never affording property. Housing is the key thing in terms of the western aspirational model for bringing up a family. It becomes a limiting factor and owning or having access to suitable housing for raising families becomes a goal of both newly educated men and emancipated women in developing countries. Is this a real phenomenon? Well it is an exponential phenomenom in China and some metropoles in Africa. We have an increasing rich poor divide in the west and a move to the rich owning and the average renting. This could see a sharper divide in developing countries in future as they fully moneterise and open their capital real estate markets to global investors.
The western lifestyle for the majority of workers in the US, the UK and Japan as the prime examples, actually means a contraction in average wealth and material possessions, excluding that must have status symbol the car. We also have technology which reduces our expanding consumption. The mobile smart phone for example, has eaten into sales of everything from PC's to watches, cameras and torches (flash lights). The internet means less use of public entertainment like cinemas or pubs - people can be sociable at home and not use petrol and consumer services elsewhere. Whole supply chains have moved on line, electronically. As the older. pre internet generation declines as a proportion of the population (death of a baby boomer) then on line shopping will come to predominate and supply chains of delivery will become far more efficient in matching the rising demand.
The doom sayers are though quite probably still right to some extent as to the rapid growth in the populations of India and Africa in particular, while command economy and party dictatorship China may enforce the one child policy yet again. With a challenge to immigration laid out in the oldest of capitalist economies, we will see inevitable trend of decline in population especially as the baby boomers shuffle off this mortal coil. There are ecological/biological limiting factors where famine is a result, and global warming is a clear threat to this. Some say that many colder areas of the world will become fertile, but the endless tundra is not going to be cultivated within the next generation or two during whose times, the main growth of population will happen. It is then perhaps the very act of economic development and the extention of the western lifestyle and western rentier economics to the developing world which will limit the growth in population as plain supply, demand, income and pricing limits the breeding potential of the human race.
Friday, 2 June 2017
Are our old flames best burnt out ? Or to be perhaps more accurate and grammatically correct, burned out of our emotional memories?
My brightest raging inferno like old flames are all from 20 to 30 years ago now, so they no longer are the scorching emotional ties they once were, more like they are charred earth patches where the rest of life has grown a green and moved on to new, wider pastures.
Being middle aged you do think about the what ifs? All from ex's you maybe could or should have stayed with, through one nighters you maybe could have made pregnant to all those possibilities or taking up that coffee, movie or drink with......or lustful kiss when the flirty friendship maybe should have gone forward.
I live life now with few regrets about that sort of thing. If I ask why it didnt work before with some ex's then it is because either I or they, or both were non committal. It wasnt for a lack of soul mating, you can just make that up when you are newly in love and like to do stuff together and agree a lot. It is falling into this love deeper in a committal way which involves financial investments, moving for jobs, talking about kids and k0jmost of all, planning a wedding as a display to your social sets that this is serious. You mean all this love and together forever shite.
I was non committal for the same reason I think that I am non committal with jobs, THey are never quite good enough for me, When I do get a job which is good enough, too good to be true, then I have found invariably that fate and conspiracy take them away from me! I have no faith in jobs, whiile once my portfolio career was a plus for me, now I am the aged slut at the bar wondering why I shagged and bragged and did not once really see myself anything else than trapped in a work relationship. THe same for women for me.
Old flames, yeah and avoidance at the time back then. I managed to finally track down one , Janice, after the odd perusal of the electric internet and book of digital faces over the years. Her name is quite common especcially in the USA., which I thought were bum steers., But once I connected her job and her love of running marathons, I came up trumps. She dies here hair red, lives in Dallas, and has a lovely daughter. It filled me with joy that she finally found love, and had a family and kept on being a successful long distance runner. Do I friend her?
Now we come to Fargo, where our anchor character, Margie the police officer, gets looked up by an old class mate, and they play out a little embarressing reunion which is inevitably a bad idea for Francis McDermott or her on screen character to get into. One side holds more than just a candle, they have a wax and string supply chain of unrequited love come their middle aged failure to stay in a relationship or even establish one in the first place.
So Janice and Irish Anita, I am very happy for the two of you. One a flirt which would have gone places had I been at all committal, the other a flash in the pan for a year which looked and felt often like it should have gone on forever, but now that I remember it, I too was often in two minds about her,. Both live far from the British Isles and both have kids and seem happily married so I am delighted., Phew also it was not me.
Janice was lovely, and still is. A pretty Scots Irish lass with freckles and a beautiful jaw line with twinkling dark eyes under a gushing mop of tightly curled dark hair. Slim and elegant. And a very, very nice and sincere person. There in lay the issue. I was 26 odd when I met her, and still in my phase of avoiding 'nice girls'. Nice meant settling down and not hurting their feelings with your own ego's desires for jobs, travel, and most of all variety in the pussy department. It would only be the mature and reflective 35 year old me that could have gone there, and it looks like she struck in lucky when she was in her mid thirties too. We had kind of sort of dated a bit, and she was making overtures but I did a stupid ignorant thing one night as a kind of avoidance and just shitting on my own doorstep, by visiting a female pal and turning up not only late for our wood be date, but also with girl in tow. My bad., But also it kind of put a full stop I thought which was beastly, but convenient. I got a post card from Janice on her tour of NZ so I should have maybe kept in touch, but I am also sure she is happier in Dallas.
It was another old flame who taught me I am more socially awkward than I had ever beleived. She just was wrong for me, I was kind of a catch for her, she was frumpy, and I got caught when in fact I maybe could have done with a nice girl to settle down with,. It was 1996 and I was having an inbetween year working part time and doing loads of sailing and stuff. I was going through a kind of isolation thing, where I had not quite fitted into a group of gen'Xers due to my being crap at sports, and I felt a kind of hang over of being an individualist, but feeling very lonely out of my now long behind me university days or constant social stimulation, and instant company on hand. The real world of suits and mortgages had bitten. I was working with older folk who resented my youth and eagerness, and I ended up dumped out at the end of it in 1996. She became a flame I could not avoid, but the experience taught me two things. One I dont like groups and I am very intimidated. Two I am a little more socially inept or had become so by that time.
I blame a kind of passing dullness, a lingering depression and also perhaps cannabis which I was using a lot in 94 I think. It seemed there was a stress and anger which was in me, and a lack of being able to determine my own destiny. However 1997 sorted that all out, and i found myself a happy individual with the most beautriful girlfriend I have ever had. I got a very yuppie job and had a lot of fun not having to be anywhere near a 'crowd' or a 'scene' but rahter with some small circles of friends.
Still today I have a massive stress response to there being a crowd of cackling people who know or seem to know each other. just last week on the dockside, a pile of new people and me feeling left out and neurotic at the side lines. I should leanr from my flames there, back away from the crowd, keep it simple and small. Fuck the crowd.
My flames taught me then that you can make up and in fact there are in ways to going out again, somethign I should have known with my first love Sandra, who dumped me in mysterious circumstances possibly related to her social climbing into med student circles. We met up a month or two after we split up to exchange records *before CDs: and we ended up in a fond embrace kissing each other good bye with smiles and a laugh. She ended up going out with her ex who I met her through the next year. Not marrying material maybe, but I did love her to bits for a year,
Flames are perhaps just those patches of scorched earth today. They have flickered and smouldred and then there is now all that sex stiuff with women with two kids and so on, where all passions are spent.
I have one old flame, a flirt, who holds a defiant FB candle for me and I suppose I for her. She dropped the lines on the plate a few times for me to have an affaire with her, which turned her on a lot while she had a steady man., Jo is a bit of an enigma, we think a like and recognise this in our conscious streams of chatter. She never produced kids and now never will I guess, being into her mid forties. So she is maybe an old flame worth a fling?
Some old flames do get back together and live happily ever after. Your youth remains hard burned into your memory and emotional record book more so than all those years of the humdrum or even of having kids, which is just a bit of a blur often. Your memory is overloaded and harks back to the deeper recollections and simpler emotional connections of youth, So high school sweethearts do often meet up, both divorced, or one the successful business bachelor*ette, and they have those rose tinted memories of youthful unrequited love and liasions, and all the bubble they lived in then, to reflect back on and find some kind of new emotional rock to anchor up to.
Some folk say they have few memories again of childhood and youth, and they are mostly lieing, they have had negativity or were goody two shoes with a boring time back then. For me I remember and relish the recollections of days of school and especially university, more so than some of the awkwardness of young adulthood I went thorugh from which I still have a major hang over today. Folk who dont remember those formative years or even moments, are perhaps covering up for a Flame whicih burnt their fingers back then in the summer days of yore,
Friday, 19 May 2017
The elephant in the living room is why are so many western countries sending their offspring to university to do degrees for whcih there are either virtually no need for the skills and knowledge gleamed , or there is so much competition for jobs and the career ladder that hardly anyone gets to actually have a career where they earn more than they would as a school leaver with the same level of activity and effort.
Govbernments are convinced they need more graduates, while shcool leavers are convinced that studying something they really like will get them good grades and a ticket to something, which they have in no proper, meaningful way have researched the current of potential future job market.
In truth even if you ask many engineering graduates, they are not getting a red carpet and have to compete a lot for quite few opportunities. What there is a shortage of in engineering is a percieved shortage across the board, when in fact on the one hand it is often just very special skills and know how which are in short supply, and those often vary year to year. The reality is employers would like more graduate unemployment in engineering so they can keep wages down and get the most motivated, right fit personality types out of a pick of nerds and head strong youth.
In most all vocational degrees and a good few where there are jobs in academia because of retirals - that demographic time bomb is under way- or turn over as in teaching, then there are jobs for the top folk and also those 'hacks' who do well but also excel in the debating society or on the sportsfield. With so many Universities quite a few employers have actually become worse in choosing OxBridge graduates ahead of the plethora of first class honours graduates from the redbrick and the breezeblock universities. Take many blue chip marketing departments, they dont employ marketing graduates from 'tech' or business schools, they go for english literature and psychology graduates from Oxbridge with debating laurels on their CV.
In my day university had just been extended to about double or triple the number of undergraduates, and the drop out rate went up of course, as did the graduate unemployment rate, not to mention the longer term problem of underemployment and perceived over-qualifiction. I'd say in my day about a third of all students either ended up no better off than their new, school leaver colleagues in the great masses of underemployment, on top of another 10 to 15% who never made it through their degrees. Compared to those who took a trade via apprenticeships or the armed forces, many of my graduate and post graduate more have not faired all that well now I look through linked in.
The thing is that the conservatives either steered the country or aided and abetted the country on its way to becoming a tertiary service economy, with a fixation on owning property and rising house prices,. So people in trades have fed off thirty years now of new building and home improvements, extentsions, loft conversions, rewiring and replumbing. In other technical fields, it is often the on the ground, time served service engineers who get to keep their jobs while all those project managers, team lead, techology managers get down sized because in fact, the company lives off service and not ground breaking infrastructure and innovation.
Graduates who go into business services and banking fair much the same, and many I know are in a kind of self rationalising their middle aged lack of really making it by posting lots of photos of their kids and their reunions, while of course we all have smaller houses and less spending money in hand than our educated, unionised parents had. We are only dispossessed by our own belief that our lives would mirror our parents lives and the post war journey the UK (and US and many other countries) took post war, when a degree was a ticket to a management salary and your head above water well and truly. We became the new working class, pushing around money and presenting ideas that pushed around money while in fact we werent creating a lot of new money what so ever. That is a bitter truth. We were the delayered white collar workers who took over from the blue collar and the lower middle class became the new factory floor workers being passed over for pay rises and upskilling. The working working class, those with skills and trades, and a few in manufacturing, they did rather well out of it all, having well paid careers for decades and keeping my generation out of many opportunities simply by being in their jobs with a decade under the belt and a union on call when the downsizing and mergers came.
Like any socio economic phenomenom, it is all easy to see in retrospect. So blatantly obvious that an over supply of graduates would help fuel business growth with all that data punching, powerpoint pushing, excel graph making energy that was by in large hot air in the 90s and 00s. A few economists 'predicted' the financial crisis of 2008, but they were given for doom sayers and some only had the end of national credit card ratings as a foot note in their futurologist scenario builds. My generation went blindly in and for very many it meant that they do not enjoy the material assets and quality of life work balance their nine to five middle class parents did.
A couple of aquaintances of mine either dropped out of uni, or later in life threw in the towel and became plumbers, which may seem a bit of a well trodden cliche bound not to be a golden goose anymore, but in fact of course you can make decent cash at it, at least 33 k a year in UK spondoolics. Of those who took practical, hands on experience or non university career paths, nearly all are doing better than me and a pile of other acedemics or graduates who have worked in office jobs. Those who made it in accountancy and medcine are of course doing quite nicely, but complain of the long hours expected and the stress of work not really making up for the high salary.
I do have a few pals who were from wellish to do families who had alternative lifestyles and what have you, and they are off the radar now, or when on a re vague about what they are into, and possibly lookign to borrow some cash for a new project.
Even those who were very, very good at their non vocational, academic careers have ended up in more mundane industries - oil if they were technical, and housing if they were in other areas.
The UK stands in real danger of falling into a hole because so much of the recent economic growth has been underpinned in fact by immigration - demand for housing in particular, and labour rates from Poles in particular which enable more projects to be viable in the pyramid of investment monies going into housing constuction and redevelopment. The great ' white' hope is that these folk will evapourate away and wages will go up by a market mechanism, but in the same way as we did not really see that property was a key driver in the economy, a key money rich area to be in, and fell for the allure of University education,. The drivers for that are a rising population and rising metropolitisation, and rising wealth among retirees going rural. The latter is likely to be the only growth area, as a new blue rinse blue voting mass of baby boomers getting ready to put their slippers on and live in a cottage in the sticks. Policy on immigration is going to change a lot of things, but some businesses will not survive the period of malaise and retraining and reattituding if you like- british youth rolling up their sleeves and coming off their YouTube channels to work the land, and on building sites. Wages are going to have to go up a lot to attract them and where time served skills are needed, it is going to be a difficult period. In the back of this the Tories promise that the coutnry will still get all the talent it needs, but that stop gap policy could mean many employers dump apprenticeship schemes and opt for quota immigrant workers, or just flout the law,
Simply put, brexit is too simplistic in this 'immigrants out, jobs for our lads and lasses' and over night payrises which match the gap to property prices. High on the list of tory wishes was to remove the 48 hour working week and the employment agency directive, making working life more like insecure slavery for many hundreds of thousands of young workers in particular. However they have turned tail and offer to preserve workers rights that stand now. Right wing politicians are not to be trusted as we now know, and will have any sound bite they like if it wins today, it is forgotten tommorrow and is a necessity. They are looking at todays floating voter, who will be a different voter in six months time, so what if they are let down, we won!
Britain and to a large extent the USA are locked into another consumer and national credit mountain which may at any time, reveal itself to be weak to the core and implode as in 2008. The miracle of business confidence is being based on rolling back environmental leeshes on oil extraction and offrering more public contracts to the private sector, with a virtual blank cheque once public provision is removed from the equation. Tax cuts have worked in the past, because the upper middle class get to invest in more property and stocks like apple, while everyone else can afford bigger mortgages and consumer credit, three to five times rise for each one point rise in wages remember because loans are on a multiplier in the economy. They end up of course, paying more for the same and the next generation get less for more. The upper middle class and some of the middle middle established earners can then afford to release equity for rental property and screw the younger generation even more out of the housing market. Oh how jolly, but it all goes bang at some stage when people are using credit to pay the rent and pay for food, or when the population stops rising, stops metropolising. Then the whole house of cards can fall, and it can be small things like the subprime idiocy which bring it all down. What next, a credit upset due to brexit? Scottish Yes vote?
Self employed tradesmen seem to be always the ones who do alright, given their own health holds out or they are clever enough to hire people and become managers rather than inevitably wearing themselves out physically. There are stresses in being self employed, but as long as the money stream is there at the top, and you are getting great margins on working hours and materials, then you can do very, very well.
If you have family money to invest, then rather than a uni education why not look at buying a fishing boat after working in that ? Why not a saw mill and joinery shop? Very many graduates today are going to be leaving uni with debts as high as 50k, and then having in many careers like law, an internship year which they have to fund somehow too, probably in a big city with craxy rental prices. Mummy and daddy you see, aha, they bail out their kids by remortgaging and when they can, they leverage their business connections to get paid jobs for their over priviledged offsrping.
Hard work is a thing of the past if you just go off in any old direction via University. Take doctors, for the hours they work in their young career, the years they study, the hours they study to get a specialism or pass out as GPs then by age 35 they would be multi millionaires if they had worked in investment, real estate or as plumbers setting up a business. What do you need to succeed in business these days as an entrepreneur? A Theresa May like self belief and ability to twist and turn to meet sound bite opportunities and keep most customers, investors and idiotic employees on your journey happy most of the time, and fuck over the others.
Monday, 8 May 2017
What is it for men that makes them find a woman to be beautiful?
Famously for those women who revell in obesity, some african and polynesian societies set a large price on rotund women, as being the beautiful ones, most attractive and sought after. However not all men in these societies agree. There is then a degree of cultural stereotyping and social norms to be conformed to. Is the reverse true, were western men brainwashed and normalised to prefer the 'anorexic' look?
Once again we fall into what societal impressions are made in the media and the 'tri-via' of every day banter. On the one hand there are 'leadership' messages trying to normalise that which is not actually normal or healthy. For the fashion industry, it was the unobtainable clothes rail figure which on the one hand makes the job of the designer's seamstresses easier, cylinders being catered for instead of horizontal curvature, and it helps the industry sell a concept that you are never good enough so buy more. On the other hand, the tribal elders know that a fatty will survive a famine better than a skinny-me-links.
The fashion industry could own the print media for decades and perpetuate the impression that these 'twiggy' like women's bodies were the height of beauty in society. Now of course there was another quite different print media than Vogue and that genre, there was the men's 'interest' magazines and later the Lads mags. Curves a plenty and no cup size smaller than C on view. And bottoms started to get bigger.
Social media burst on the scene which was a new platform to rebel against the old print media and give a voice to the hoi palloi, the feminist and the male. And bottoms got bigger. Much biggerr. We went from the kate moss waif look being in all images people consumer in paper days, to the Beyonce Jay-Lo big and beautiful. Waistlines are still a little too wasp like then for the fat-is-a-statement fringe in feminism, and there is a focus on good health and physical training. I noticed this on one of my intermittant returns to my homeland, where the shock of so many obese teenage girls in the late naughties turned within halkf a decade to the surprise of how many well trained young women there were around. Social media creates a new peeer pressure you could say, but also it inspires a viral type of discussion on good health and what is really normal for humanity - that we are physcial creatures forced into sedentary lifestyles by the economics of modern times.
Beauty though is not just a pretty bum. What is facial beauty ? Is there for us in the west a set of characteristics which we in the majority would recoginise or rank as beautiful? How does individual taste vary in this ? Do we maybe rate a pretty face but accept and love a different face as being beautiful to us every day when we live or work with someone?
Computing has brought us the average face algorythm. There is an averagely beautiful face you can find, and it isn't all that beautiful and obviously it depends on where the faces are from in the world and who did the initial choosing before the aggregate face merge was run in the programme. Average faces across nations of ethnicities are more interesting, and in fact you can always find beauty in them. However they too are taken from young adults it seems.
There are some features which many seem to agree on and are represented in the averagely beautiful cyborg face. Relatively large eyes, full lips, a defined jaw line and defined cheek bones for us in the west at least. If we think of this statistically in terms of ranking or some way of saying is your partner or object of affection beautiful, we will probably find that there is a nice statisitical bell curve which may be quite tight when being asked to rank faces or choose the single most beautiful of five images say, or if being asked to rank many or consider their own experiences and actual feelings then we could expect a flatter bell curve. It is socially influenced, with people most likely ranking the feautres of the love of their life or forlorn object of girl next door desire higher.
For me the ultimate beauty is Jenna Coleman, who many might think is a bit cutsey or a soft little brunette. She has features which remind me most of my kind of most beautiful girlfriend in my life, who was also a very compatible type for me I can see in retrospect, us meeting though in a time of personal turmoil for us both. So do we then colour our choices by our own experiences ? Yes of course, a deep emotional trigger is in there, either to be adverse or attrtacted. There is the pretty girl in the night club syndrome. She attracts only the cockiest because the more modest personality types consider her out-of-their-league. Her personality is by in large going to be around the average yet she attracts domineering, daring and crass personality types most. After perhaps rejection or being dumped for another, we men quite likely find some features bite a little and rank them lower in a test, and in real life, avoid perhaps girls with those sets of features.
Perhaps we are conditioned and manipulated by society and the media, but most of all we are conditioned to behaviours by our own experience and some of our own innate senses for attraction to the opposite sex. I know that I had a good sense that I was heterosexual by age 5 and liked the prettier girls then in my class. These as I remember aged 5 to about 12 were blondes. Later into my teens I grew a strong preference for pretty brunettes, and this was later focused towards petite brunettes at Uni and throughout life, with only 2 or three blondes in my history of 25 dating girlfreinds. I have had interest from some blondes and sandy haired but it is brunettes who catch my motivation to act. This is a learnt response. Petite brunettes like me, a tall auburn man quite well built, and it is a kind of mutual thing through life that I show a certain confidence and perhaps a blush too.
So love #3 in my life, is a story. We had that love-at-first sight PING of the pupil dilation and the kind of body language and her shyness was broken by a common friend in hand. It showed that our biological instincts and programming through life had made a match and the social context was conjusive to a potential partnership. I am glad in a way we didnt marry, she was 95% sweet and lovely but 5% vitriolic bitch. Maybe I would have tamed that last shrew percent into something better, but she wanted a rich boy in her cerebral choices which would have been troublesome.
It's no coincidence I write this as the 20th anniversary of meeting the greatest, brightest flash-in-the-pan I ever had back in june 1997. I am seperated and middle aged and find myself on the brink of being in the market again. I met up with my own Jenna Coleman a few times after,and we hit it off of course, I was a bit once bitten of course. On leaving she admitted it was just a bad time and perhaps later (when I had calmed down a bit from a stressful lifestyle) .I certainly don't have the same tastes as my friends, and don't want to go back to my twice bitten period after love #3 and love #4 in the late nineties, whereafter I became an opportunist happy to take what landed at my feet, being a young man in his prime. It wasnt a waste of time, although I think economics could have played a bigger roll now in retrospect either way of getting a professional partner or a good house wife so I could work more.
Our programming by genes and by experience then I beleive counts for more of what we of both sexes find instantly attractive. We seek queues which are obvious and some more subtle in our peri-conscious judgements, but of course we are prejudiced by our social learning experiences and cerebral filters.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
What could have been a major discussion in parliament has been washed away in the mire of brexit and the Scottish indy 1, is the shift in private pension law. Previously pensions were managed via a very controlled move from pension fund over to a pay-out vehicle called an annuity. This suited the industry quite nicely because most of those reaching pension just carried on in ignorance to this and put it down to jargon and small print, allowing their private pension provider to continue control of their amassed small fortune.
However what Cameron, or rather his economic advisors desperate for growth drivers to inject fluidity in the economy, noted was that this money is somewhat not the company's it is the pensioner's fund. There was a cash log-jam in the consumer economy to be unblocked just in time for the wave of baby boomers crashing onto the happy shore of retirement.
It suits Tory individual freedom of choice to move the law to making it very obvious that the pensioner has control of this in effect, lump sum. Now it has to be said that the pensions industry sell a premise which is building a million pound fund in order to give an annual dividend from interest of between two and five percent of the fund's top line value. Of course the pension's company and their fund managers hope to make a heck of a lot more over 10-20 years of payout of interest on that lump of cash, and over the 30 or so years of contributions have made a very tidy margin on everybody's payments collectively. At death the pension fund passes to spouse or next of kin, and is subject to death duties/ inheritance taxation .
You could as a prospective pensioner, elect alternatively to balance annual income by drawing down from the pot as well as the interest, but that really would not suit the whole game the pension fund managers play - they need lareg sums to spread bet and expect above 5% ROI year on year as averaged over 10-20 years. Most people do unfortunetly die within 13 years of retiring, and that age is about to fall on average as the unhealthy baby boomers, who have enjoyed too much of fags, drink and nosh ups, hit the buffers earlier. So given you have a million pounds to offer say a £ 25,000 - 45,000 annual income from the old annuity route, you can see that taking 100,000 p.a. for ten years is attractive - in the context then if you do make it past average age of death at only about 77 y.o., and then letting your PAYE pension pick you up if and when you are in your dotage and need to sell your house anyway to fund nursing home
Now of course the government does nicely out of inheritance tax - eventually- but being able to inject a huge amount of cash which is sloshing around in pension company managed funds, internationally it must be said, then the country will gain by short term growth, as in the credit cycle before of the 80s and 1997-2008 periods, with the VAT reciepts and other tax revenues being high. Suddenly the finest crop of baby boomers born in 1950-1953 will discover that they can manage their own capital, and despite what ever smart alec IFAs say to them, they will want to spend, spend, spend and then rely on the state SERP PAYE pensions so many stayed in or had via state employment, for their really decrepit years, where capital penalises you by forcing up your charges in nursing homes.
Pensioners on average are of course not stupid and balancing capital extraction with interest payouts plus your true life expectancy, or qualiyears as some call it then fuck it, live for today..
..A year or two is positively geological time in politics these days , so a 'quick win' was to be had, injecting billions of otherwise locked up pounds into the consumer economy rather than the global investment banker network.
The essence of people's capitalism and self determinisation or just a credit bubble which will squeeze for example, buy to rent prices upwards? It certainly is a little cynical and possibly anarchic, especially if you are a Norwich Union fund manager (for example).
Sunday, 16 April 2017
Trans identity and rights have been eclipsed by other madness in world events recently, but one old and very petty little debate won't go away. Say hello to Madame George.
Often held up as a trans song, there is in fact no reality in this, just the misinterpration of words. Van Morrisson wrote Madame George as the second part of a probably a highly autobiographical pair of songs , the other being Cypress Avenue , of course mentioned in the opening line again of the latter in the brace of ballads.
The myth of Madame George being an early pro trans song and alluding to a flirt with blurring the borders of sexuality and the artist's own experimention there in, are completely transparent. Firstly in the very name of the 'lady' being George. Secondly in the general poetic narrative suggesting a forbidden, underground flirtation which could never quite be requited. Thirdly the mention of what some claim is ' playing dominoes in drag' when the police raid the place.
Alas these are just misinterpretations. Firstly George is not referring to a first name, it is a well known second name in Ulster, and as both the well heeled middle class avenue and the 'soldier boy' husband suggests, a protestant one at that. Leading from this, the sexual tension and intrigue is more understandably heterosexual and extra marital, as the swingin late sixties afforded women a greater sexual freedom. Lastly ' in drag' is actually ' an' drag' , and not in, with the word meaning a card game played for petty bets at the time.
Van Morrison has spoken little of his specific inspirations for his modern folk master piece ' Astral Weeks' but he has mentioned that he had an affaire ( or several?) with an uptown lady which meant him walking up Cypress avenue in Belfast. ' Marching with the Soldier Boy Behind' seems to allude pretty strongly to a woman in control of her destiny with some contempt for her husband. This has also though, been 'decoded' to mean a gay lover in tow, walking two steps back to avoid attention.
The subject matter is though more clearly upon setting in context of the young openly heterosexual artist's formative years, centred around an affaire or unrequited relationship wirth a femme fatale. She may have been from the Republic due to the references to a police raid on their gambling den, and Van Morrisions seemingly obsessional need to get the train back to Belfast from Dublin. This seems also to refer to the innapropriateness of having a liason with perhaps a lady into her forties, and Van Morrison's dubiouty over the relationship
For me Madame George is then and Ulsterian Mrs. Robinson. She is a chance encounter for the artist. Out of boredom or awareness of her sexual needs, she leads the teenage protege into unchartered adult waters.
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Trumpanomics Round the Corner, or More of the Same-Old-Same-Old?
President Elect Trump's inauguration is just a couple of days away, and he has in his latest interview continued his hard line on ripping up a bad trade deal. The balance of trade with China in particular is staggering. He is really talking about protectionism.
For the last thirty years, protectionism and tightening national border customs control have been very untrendy. In fact they have been consigned to the extremes of politics, with entities like the Italian Communist Party and some of the Neo Fascist organisations being the only ones who support a retreat from internationalism in economic policy.
The thing is that the West can live with a bad trade balance as long as it has a positive investment balance ie companies are listing in the west. Reselling and design in the west, build in the east is highly profitable and efficient in the eyes of investors because it avoids all that nasty risk of having to manufacture yourself and face things like skills shortages, trade unions and wage pressure.
The Liberals Got Shafted By Accepting Neo Liberalism
When Bill Clinton signed the first major free trade deal with China it was in the 1990s when US manufacturing was doing rather well, having modernised and been able to get itself away from the bad days of excessive trade union power. The concept was then that rise paddy land would buy our higher value western consumer goods in return for commodities and the type of low tech, high labour intensive work the west had "grown out of". This has become a complete nightmare of a mirrored situation from anticipated, where China has eaten up all the manufacturing jobs and rendered much of that hidden under-belly of the US to what is called the 'rust belt'. All forms of jobs apart from retail and personal services, and of course public sector, have been going east.
It just doesn't matter to the major brands where their product is made or what politics it is made under. This extends also to the major web sites - the mega cyberbrands - and mobile app's too, which are increasingly being programmed in China and India. Worse that just losing jobs, the west are also losing brand dialogue and suppliers. The growth markets in the east have massive untapped potential- already the affluent middle class in China, India and the Island Belt (SingMalDesia as someone called it) is approaching half the entire population of the USA. Brands look to their tastes and needs first now.
A Strategy for Balance of Trade based on Financial Markets, Premium Goods and Brands, Has Failed
Selling our high value goods to this massive growth market has just not been a job creator. In fact the opposite, because some of these brands have been bought out by eastern investors, including those supported by good old Keynsian cash from national banks. Incredible that we allow a government and credit fuelled group of Tiger economies behave like this while the western worker has to accept that such spending is interference with natural market mechanisms. We forget all too quickly that there are other economic models than the neo liberal one, and that it has taken Trump of all people to drag off those ideological emperor's new clothes from the ruling elite in their Davos coseyness.
The biggest issue for the Democrats and left in the EU countries is that they swallowed the 'new consensus' on more free trade and less borders is always good. In effect there became no fundamental opposing economic policy, rather with the Clinton period and New Labour period, and the Social Democrat period in the EU and scandinavia of the 1990s, it was on who couls spend the tax best and offer the consumer a better deal on their visa card.
Real Living Cost Inflation and Erosion of Wages As Bad as The 1970s?
We are in fact also in a wharped mirror decade which is looking a lot like the 1970s to people who have to balance family budgets. Then we had an energy crisis, and overly powerful unions which lead to high inflation in retail prices and a devaluation of western currencies over the course of seven years or so. Now in fact we have of course real living cost inflation in that housing, commuting and utilities are all costing more, but none of these show on the consumer price index which is the great beaming siren of health in the economy. Only it of course is an outdated index in terms of erosion of spending power and standard of living.
What capital has been able to pull off is a health chart for the patient which shows there is no disease in the west, that we only need to all work harder to get on. Their capital assets and income increase in value based on this rentier economic investment in housing, privatised utilities, transport, health and retail. There is no consumer price increases which worry the currency markets, who are myopic to the balance of trade. IN fact you could say that the anarchic currency trading system is exacerbatic to real inflation for ordinary employees because it values also a high total stock value and private equity flow into the country's housing market. That keeps demand for dollars up.
Neo Liberalism is the Run Away Goods Train of Ideology Which Has Delivered Social Unrest
What the left really did not realise is that Neo Liberal globalisation is a hurtling goods train for the delivery of poorer living standards for a very large proportion of the workforce. It not only exposes workers in manufacturing to the global pressure to compete with the lowest common denominator, or the highest secretly subsidised state. The management philosophy sweeps sideways into the domestic service economy and over into those middle class, high value added jobs which now have wages which are stagnant, and thus become eroded Unemployment and oversupply of graduates is good for the bad bosses out there, because it means they can offer take it or leave it initial conditions, and even reduce wages or increase working hours on an unpaid basis. In several professions in the US now, it is necessary for ordinary workers to do an extended period of wages free internship. This is all just the market, the facts of life, the value you have as a person versus the next man or woman in line.
We used to call this DOLE RULE and we used to something about it via organising our labour. Post war we, the western middle class, strung out our time of imperialism, and protected our imperial markets to a large extent allowing slow growth in bilateral international trade. We rebuilt europe on keynsian principles, and the US white worker at least, never had it so good under the 'virtuous cycle' of the 50s and 60s. Keynsianism. Protectionism. Collective Bargaining via Unions. Free Education. All these bads. Yet our economies grew faster in that peiod than the subsequent three decades, there was a higher spending power and lower basic costs of living relative to wages. In fact inflation during this period is lower than it was in the last three decades.
It all went wrong in the 70s with several key factors, one of which was unrelated: the arabian oil crisis. The other one which was political and local was on the one hand powerful unions and on the other management struggling to raise investment for new technology and plant to increase productivity. We entered a kind of perfect storm of inflationary pressure and decline in those companies which did not modernise production or methods. We saw rising automation too, but it was general difficulties in teh economy coupled to the baby boomers being too proliferate which lead to job losses. In fact unemployment and in particular under employment became a lot worse in the 1980s, but this is a little facile because women entered the work force as full timers en masse and this was also a disruption. A lot of things caused the malaise of the 1970s and set the route to slavery the Neo Liberals pushed us out upon in the 80s.
The net result is the US Rust Belt and growing social unrest in the old west. Scapegoats are easy to find, and the free movement of Labour and blind eye to Mexican labour the Neo Liberal epoch permitted is coming to an abrupt end with Trump's wall and Brexit. We want your markets, but we don't want your people and we won't buy our brands made in your country any more.
In the UK, there is a surprise low productivity to economists, but if they bothered to look away from the Financial "City" and the North Sea, they would see everyone selling insurance and cappucinos to each other, or offering nail manicures, or being marginalised in privatised services into low wages and temporary contracts. We are in a malaise, and the lower third of society are paying highest for it, yet often lack the articulation or understanding for how they were put in this situation of stagnant wages and a hard labour market yet with rising living costs.
Trump knows that the balance of trade is paid for somewhere. It is paid for by the personal credit mountain and government spending. In part of course, the government had to prop up and subisdise the failing financial credit industry, in a similar way to the sick car industry of the 1970s. In other ways, a large part of the economy is driven by imports being sold to people on the public pay roll, and an increasing proportion of American internal industry is paid for by government spending such as Medicare and defence. Because the market for labour is so saturated, employers can get away with marginalising retail and service workers into precarious low hours , taking top up benefits from the state.
The trouble is of course that Trump does not just oppose an Ideological Economic Epoch, he also opposes huge vested interests in the USA and lobbying power in Senate and Congress on both sides of the house. China is a major investor in both the stock exchange and private equity (mostly real estate). The big brands don't want to have to manufacture in the US when they can do it easier and cheaper in China, and get loans there from the state's back door. Retailers are a powerful lobby who dont want inflationary pressures or a threat to their supply of cheap labour. Health companies and defence manufacturers dont want the US public purse to get a 'better deal' as Trump wants. He faces entrenched political channels for all these interest groups, and a stock exchange and currency market which may punish him.
Further to all this picture of Trump being perhaps the Left's new surprise hero or stalking horse to more equitable national economic policy, he has reiterated this week his committment to building infrastructure in the US. This is a keynsian and Federal approach to fixing problems, both of which are abhorrent to Neo Liberalists. It starts to look more like Truman's New Deal than Reaganomics take II.
These ertswhile socialist policies though are not going to be brought in with a punative taxation plan for the upper third and top 2% of society, quite the contrary. Trump looks to balance the books over 5 years via productive activity in the economy dragging the labour maket up, and a better more symmetric trade deal with China. He will cut defence if he can get away with it, and ease the sense of New Cold War growing with Putin. He will cut propping up Israel. Trump's economics seem to be from the radical left mixed with Thatcherism of the purse strings in the handbag. Trump has been a supporter of the democrats before. Who is this man really? A lot of republicans asked the same question during the primaries, but now he has his uber right power base established they do not dare dissent before they see weakness down the line. A republican " house and hill " is quite a rare combination taken in the context of the last half century. It is seen as political opportunity for other reforms and regressions of laws and systems. Also they know now that people do not beleive in the revamped Bushanomics offered by their other presidential candidates.
The Neo Liberal, globalised model is broken for the US working class and has also eroded the standard of living for the middle class. Like Lenninist Marxism in the USSR, the public finally find a mouth piece in the corridors of otherwise entrenched doctrine and ideological worship. Trump is that Gorbachev for Globalist Neo Liberalism.
Simplistic solutions for limiting immigration and negotiating better trade deals behind closed doors seem to favour the worker in the street, but the structure of the national economies are not there to actually make the change. They are still oriented around globalisation and Neo Liberal anti organised labour policy. It will take brute force to shift this old epoch out of the way and it is Trump and Brexit which are either those forces or the stalking horses to a new era. It is going to be different.
If you say that Brexit and Trump have pushed through a log-jam of political correctness, in fact it is far more true in motivation to vote, that they are a move away from Economic Correctness in the Neo Liberal epoch.