Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A call to arms

Are there winners and losers in life? Probably. It's all about interpretation, and provided you realise where you stand then you're likely to know something more about yourself than others will suggest they know about themselves.

It's a little cryptic, that, so I suppose I should explain.

It's more than just an outlook. Anyone can be positive, anyone can be negative. Anyone can be neutral. It is about what you make of your outlook, whether you know to some extent there are flaws in your brilliance or brilliance in your flaws, or neither nor of nothing neither. As my friend said this afternoon, we have as a people decided that the only way to make things better is to tell ourselves they're better and disregard the truth or the reality of the situation. There's positivity, and then there's reckless optimism without any basis.

So this call to arms is more to allow ourselves to assess the truth. Do you know what you want? If so, do you know how you're supposed to get there? More over, do you know where you are now? Perhaps all this is a little irrelevant for those of us who don't concern our lives with the thinking part of acting, but rather the acting part of living. Care and consideration are tomorrow's problems, today can only continue if you bother to make something happen.

Personally I'm very cautious. Not so much that I don't do anything, but enough that I know most of the consequences before embarking on a journey. Or at least I think I do, anyway, and to some extent I guess that's what I always tell myself, perhaps falsely, and therefore perhaps crushing or suppressing any notion of the truth in order to appear happier or more content.

That aside, when we get the constitution voted on and put things in place for baseball this season then we'll be fine. It's a little off-topic now, but we can afford to lose some people to the other team as I'm sure we'll gain more who want in from the ground-floor. There have been discussions before, and there will be some again, about who we will allow to join us and who might go elsewhere, but for the most part I'm hoping that the good ones stay and get some game-time and some fun-time with us, while those who apparently already know what they want go do what they want. We won't judge them for it, but we know that they've made a decision. A consequence will follow. It's how they act with those consequences that makes a difference.

From the meeting the other week it seems clear that we're not the only Club that has issues in this sense, nor are we among a minority. Not enough structure in place means that there's little assistance for helping those who have dreams of greatness aspire towards them. We hope only that as many people get as much enjoyment out of it all as is possible, and whether we're measuring 'enjoyment' with the same, or even the correct, statistic remains to be seen. But seeing is believing, and by this method we'll know whether it is being outwardly happy, inwardly content or having no opinion either way that will determine how we develop as a community.

I'm hoping that enough people say the right thing and jump on board with us. I'm hoping there is enough precedent from another local Club, and one just folded, that inspires people to step back and go for what they really want.

And perhaps it is that moment of stepping back to embrace reality that changes everything.


Friday, 11 December 2009

What inspires debate?

There are many talking points in life, breaking news stories and controversies amongst friends, families, pets and peers. But what sparks conversations into full-blown heated and passionate speeches and heart-felt pleas for agreement or acknowledgement?

1) The most topical issues of the day.

Examples: racism, climate change, social (im)mobility, economics (these are perhaps more contemporary than immortal/eternal, but will likely rage on in debate for many years to come).

Reasons: everyone will have a different view on how to change what is the norm, or at least what is taken as a given in the current political or social climate. However, much of these will have come from influence by the media or influential/talkative people outside the group within which the 'debate' is occurring.

2) Social/societal influences

Examples: sport, art, politics, television, music.

Reasons: Personal interpretation is more influential here - everyone is different, people will find different things more exciting or more entertaining than others, but because these are far more emotive in terms of understanding or reasoning, there does not need to be justification. The wonderful thing about this part of the model is that everyone can have a say and need not be told otherwise by someone who is apparently better informed - opinions are just that, and you cannot tell someone that they're wrong because they don't like something you do, even if you're adamant that you're right.

3) Age-old dilemmas.

Examples: Religion, philosophy, science.

Reasons: People can be richly or poorly informed either way, and while it benefits to have read widely about these sorts of topics, just because you're not completely clued-up on a subject does not mean that your views aren't important. Some might be loathed to accept personal opinions in this area, but again the fact that you've got an opinion does not exclude you from having them or contributing to the debate. However, if you haven't heard the whole story, and let's face it, NO ONE HAS, it might be best to see what other people are saying and picking holes in their argument rather than having one of your own. None of these subjects will ever produce fruitful responses to the point where everything is explained, so debate is the only way to make any social or emotional progress, given that there is very little in terms of pragmatic answers that can be described, explained and justified.

If debate is only about winning, then you are not debating, you are arguing deafly.

If debate is only about chatting, then you are not debating, you're conversing.

If debate is only about making a difference, then you are not debating, you are deciding.

Debate is only there for us to pass the time, but at the same time it is only there so we can try to change whilst preserving our way of life, it is there so we can see a new side to every story without losing focus, it's there so we know less about ourselves but in more ways than we ever knew we could. Debate is rubbish. Debate is brilliant. Debate is nothing and everything.


There are weaknesses to this model - notably a lot of people will only spend time with people who they have known for a long time, have been forced into working/living with for a set amount of time or are of the same beliefs as them, so debates can tend to be one-sided and reserved, thus limiting the progress that can be made - no one really wants to annoy those who they either choose to be close to or cannot escape nonetheless. Are these really debates? Perhaps it is that fear of losing standing in our own friendship groups that means we cannot really say what we're thinking. Perhaps that is why many people are easy-come easy-go in MY life. Perhaps that is why social change or views are age-old, passed on from generation to generation (albeit subtly) as the fear of change can never be truly ignored.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Politically conservative

Notice the small 'c'.

I am not adverse to change, but rather I do not support it as a policy. Development of current strategies might be needed, and indeed alterations to institutional beliefs are likely, but on a whole I think change undermines where we have managed to come from.

Posed with this question less than a week ago, my response was to politicise the origin of mankind; we were not evolved from democracy, nor were we brought about by a CHANGE in policy, but rather a physiological adaptation to our environment hundreds of thousands, potentially millions (if you believe the descention from certain proxies) of years previous to our own.

Essentially, and this is only opinion based on my personal studies, albeit limited, into the evolution of hominids, we acclimatised to our environment the same as animals and plants do now, and the same as physical elements adapt to alterations in the 'mean' inputs. I believe that where we've come from coincides with where we're going to, and in the long run human occupation is just an intellectual means to justify where we are now and where we're going in the future.

I believe that we can do little to alter what we've already done, and what we've already done has little impact on what would naturally have occured. As a Geographer, it is my right to define what might happen in the short-medium term based on what has happened previously, hence my OPINION that there will be little significant change determining the future of the planet.

As long as life exists, I will not scoff. We were coincidence as much as fortune; dumb luck of Darwinism. To demand more than what we've been granted is another example of the selfishness of humanity in the face of biological adversity. We may not have been directly responsible for the extinction of many flora or fauna, but living without guilt is a dangerous road to follow. You become Budhist without really anticipating the alterations in one's outlook on existence.

So here I am, plodding along as another entity of what we've come to accept as 'real life'. While merely a blip in the history of this wondrous and exciting planet, we have carved our paths out of faith and acceptance, determining the fate of mankind by the actions we have now, in the past and in the future. But while we are concerned about ourselves, we should be more determined to encourage life outside of our megafaunal habitation; few will agree, but the key to life is held with the algae and plankton rather than the elephants and whales.

We will never be able to protect everything that's required, but referring back to the original title of this entry, we must at least attempt to preserve things as they are and fight 'change'; it only seeks to undermine what we've managed in this heartbeat of humanity compared to the history of our space-rock.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Flat out and sprawled

I'm not working hard. I'm not playing hard. I'm getting lucky, but I've earned the right to in some respects, and I'm getting berated still, but then karma is a wonderful thing.

Having offered to step up and fill the goalkeeper's boots at University, I produced a display worthy of my self-appointed man-of-the-match award. It wasn't as busy an evening I've had in net before, nor was it as flambouyant, but I didn't concede despite a number of attempts from the opposition, some more impressive than others, and regardless of the fact we only scored one, we still won the game this afternoon.

But the argument has long been beyond mere mortal factors such as the performances we have turned in or the results we have gotten out of it; rather, it's why we bother in the first place.

For me, competition has never been 'competition'. I can thank my parents for bringing me up to believe in the taking part rather than the winning, and although I do like to win, it's still a philosophy I attempt to conform to even now. For example, I have stood in campaigns and campaigned for candidates, I have wanted for something to happen and, regardless of whether it won or lost, took place or was overlooked, it is the fact I cared enough to be a part of it that holds dear to me.

I have tried and failed so many times that counting successes to failures makes no difference. Instead, despite the best efforts of influences from within my upbrining and Society around me, I care little for the relatively minor outcomes that affect my life. People will always think in collective terms, and regardless of whether they feel they're bettered by some factors, the guilt, or relative guilt in terms of a social conscience, will always force them to think the same as the people in their lives they value the most. Usually this means family or friends, but every so often it involves people beyond their social circles.

Every so often, however, they think 'controversially'; OPINION outweighs facts, or at least OPINION outweighs 'greater judgement'.

This entry, and indeed this blog, is not exempt from political, or Political, influences, but for best interests it tries to remain as unbiased as possible. Indeed, much of the 'politics' discussed tends to resolve around the one institution I care the most about, in Queen Mary University's Students' Union administration.

I have made comments in the past, unjustified, to suggest certain elements aren't pulling their weight, and it is perhaps me that needs to question the amount of effort I'm putting in compared to the amount I expect to take out. If the ratio ever exceeds 1:1 (with me being the second entity), then of course I am right to complain, but at best what I am seeing is 1:7, so subsequently my thoughts hold no validity.

Again, this is an attempt to enlighten the population by quantifying suggestions.

So here I am, pouring my thoughts and OPINIONS out to those who'll listen. I cannot sometimes justify my beliefs in any more than a simple sound, a gargled, 'bleugh' or a forced, 'meh'. But I have at least realised that is not my place to question, nor is it my place to blindly follow. As with most things in life, there is a happy medium from which we can begin to understand the forcings happening beyond our control, and from there we can either seek to justify, question for betterment of the masses or accept in order to avoid confrontation.

With my dissertation due in soon, plus other coursework and numerous personal objectives reaching their climax, I am in no position to formulate a strategy to do anything other than the last of those options, so I hope that, despite the limited readership of this particular blog, others in and around my current walks of life will accept something similar.

That is not to say that anytime soon I won't throw in the towel in a heat of passion and rise up against the authorities I voted in, rather for the meantime a peaceful transition towards the next stage of SU evolution, and indeed fiscal, social and perhaps even biological enhancements, would be the best chance to change what is 'wrong' with our lives.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Big words: why the mystery?

Once again, I can only apologise for leaving it so long between posts, but out of nowhere this year I've actually decided to do some work.

Anyway, without meaning to return back to the issue of 'truth' constantly, I think a lot of people really need to get with the programme. Yes, sometimes it isn't what you want to hear, and sometimes the truth hurts, but unfortunately the truth is the one thing that's indisputable in this world. Ironically, of course, the real truth is the only thing that has been completely manufactured by mankind; 'scientific truths' are subject to investigation and cannot be controlled, while the varying levels of truth offered through documentation, archives and evidence, the very things that we ourselves have created in order to control our own lives, is crystal clear.

Even if sometimes there's a lot of jargon associated with it in order to disrupt our ability to find the facts and instead allow for degrees of uncertainty, or what I like to call 'interpretation'. Interpretation relies on a personal, ontological perspective on how something should work, be it a policy designed to enforce a law or rule or be it a philosophical basis for belief in, or against, a religion or popular thought.

While these are, of course, the truth, it is often unclear how the rules should be enforced, what level of enforcement is required and, at times, what is breaking the rules. Take the many translations of religious texts, for example. Because it is impossible to truly understand the intentions without having a) been there when they were being written, and b) knowing fully the language they were originally written in and the various likely mistranslations that could occur, it is no wonder that there is so much confusion, even within those groups that essentially worship the same idols.

If my idols (or ideology) is to enforce the rules of a certain organisation then my interpretation has to be as limited as possible; I want the facts and the figures rather than knowing the wrangling room within which I can operate. I would like a strict set of guidelines to follow and procedures to put in place. This is why I think I would probably operate well in administration - I've been too quick to use big, unnecessary words that sometimes lose the weight of the meaning in their useage in an attempt to avoid appearing either dumb or patronising.

However, it has quickly come to my attention that while people are clever, the population is stupid (to paraphrase Tommy Lee Jones in 'Men In Black'). It is easier to keep everything clear and open by using the small, concise words that allow for no, or limited, interpretation. This is not a scathing attack on the misplaced romanticism of this language I love so much, but rather a call to those who abuse its vaguities in order to remain enigmatic or ambiguous, so as not to have to enforce a policy. I am not calling for Newspeak, but I reckon there's a place for something similar to avoid catastrophes of varying magnitudes in the short-term.

Words such as 'significant' or 'substantial' need to be put in context. We have mathematicians capable of producing insanely complex formulae to work out taxes or inflation, so why can't we put some of their genius to define, numerically and quantitatively, these phrases? For example, 'significant' could be, 'less than 50% but more than 25% of a budget, plus 25% of its previous year's budget', while 'substantial' could be, 'anything higher than 40% of its previous year's budget plus 40% of its current expenditure' or something. While these are only suggestions, which themselves are limited, it immediately begins to reduce the risk of interpretation, or misinterpretation, depending on how you choose to view this particular topic.

I hope this has cleared up my position on big words and their over-use and unnecessary appearances in many documents that define how we live our lives.

(Yes, many of you will probably think that THIS entry is either packed with a few misleading or unnecessary words, or indeed that it was a waste of resources to write it, but no great things were ever done by sitting around thinking. Policies need action, and action defines the man.)


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Don't believe the truth (apparently)

There are two ways to look at the truth: your truth, the one you believe to be completely right without compromise; or the truth that perhaps exists outside of your jursidiction, where you cannot complain about the outcome, let alone the inputs that lead to that position of thinking.

After the abuse I've put up with, I believe (honestly) that I can have a good perception of the way things work in our particular circle. This puts me, in my OPINION, in the first of these two examples.

One sect of the Hockey Club at Queen Mary is fortuntate enough to have my responsible over-looking of their position, notably that I won't call up every offence if it then hinders an advantage. One sect is unfortunate not to have this bonus, based almost purely on the fact that I play for them. In future I will probably not be allowed to play being that I'm too good an umpire.

Regrettably, though, my level of umpiring is no higher than that offered by the girl who half the time sleeps in the room below me.

I don't think I'm a great official, but after agreeing with my opposing forward this evening I've been told that my comments were out of order. In my opinion that leads to censorship of the truth, which is worse than allowing lies to spread. At least in allowing them there is the freedom of speech, such as the BNP appearing on Question Time tomorrow (22nd October), rather than being as much an oppressor as their views would encourage.

In fairness my comments were justified in my OPINION. The amount of times I've been told that I'm wrong supercedes the amount of times I've said any umpire was incorrect in the decisions they've made, so while I apparently have been out of order this evening I would like to remind this one-man jury that I could quite as easily have thrown in my towel regarding umpiring other people's matches to preserve my sense of well-being; in order to not feel overly pressured or under appreciated. Just because she has boobs, and you want to 'get on that', doesn't mean her OPINION, or OBSERVATION, is any more valid than mine.

Subsequently I WILL be officiating the next fixture. Subsequently any 'stick' will result in either a 10-yard fine up the pitch or a card. And that's not because I know the rules any better (in this instance I'd quote that I didn't get as high a score), but simply because I intend to enforce them.

There are far too many examples to cite in upcoming fixtures, regarding specifically the level of officiating, but given that the boy who will fight HER battles sleeps downstairs from me and will subsequently smack me in the mouth for spouting MY truth, I shall 'abstain'. I already have written off any reconcilliation with my racist cousins, so what chance have I got with people who don't even share one, if not 23, chromosones, with me?


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Perspiration to the nation

In the first of what is likely to be a series of drunken Wednesday night blogs, similar to those I published under a slightly different pseudonym while down in Brighton, let me start with a discussion of that most disgusting, yet most natural, of juices, sweat.

No one can physically stop themselves from getting wet and salty, as it's the body's way of cooling itself down. Some people can't produce the right enzymes, some animals weren't even born with the glands capable of producing such liquids, but it is taken as a given that everyone, at some stage in their life, will find the atmosphere too stuffy or the company far too arousing.

Or will be unable to moderate their behaviour to the extent that they prevent themselves from getting excited.

The last couple of days we've made the most of Hockey training, pushing ourselves as far as we were willing to at the start of this campaign, bolstered by a belligerent attitude from our captain (something that in the past has been lacking big-time.)

On winning on Saturday it was only fair that I took my own desires to the pitch to ensure that the new crop, and the returning old heads, would do much the same in order to not only prevent relegation but genuinely contend for the top spot. Regardless of whatever the other teams in our league are capable of, we're more than able to go for promotion this year (in both Club and University leagues), so my Geography work may go on hold to prove this point.

It won't. But at least I care enough now to jeopardise not only my current life by my future career opportunities by believing so strongly in something. That's not what the previous blog managed at all...

Before I start rambling, this is just a brief update to suggest that the Freshers we have inherited this time around are a good bunch from what I can make out, and that provided the Committee don't let power go their heads we could have a good, solid year from which we can build on.

In the meantime, I've got a lot of fieldwork to do and no risk assessment yet signed off to allow me to do this. I also have to call the farms within the next 24 hours to make sure I can come up and do my stuff. I may have to produce a questionnaire in order to finalise my work. I hate human Geography.


Friday, 25 September 2009

The possessiveness of mankind

One week into the tenancy of my year-long contract to spend with my new flatmates, who I have already decided are infinitely better than the ones I spent 8 months with in Brighton, I still cannot stop myself from thinking, 'well that's mine'.

Perhaps it's because that first experience scarred me so much, perhaps it's because inherently I'm just as selfish as anyone else and refuse to openly admit it. Perhaps it's because I fear that if I don't keep telling myself that I'll eventually fall into one of those 'traps' whereby I suddenly think that the world isn't so bad.

And this past week might have me think just as much.

I have come to realise, and this might yet be hasty so bear in mind that I've only been away from the relative weight of family for a week at this stage, that not all people at University are as they seem. Some of them are a lot more genuine than I first thought. Some of them were just difficult to get on with because I was so concerned by making my own feelings heard. Perhaps I was too quick to judge (in the case that I've only known these people a few months, perhaps a couple of years, rather than on and off my entire life).

The ones that have shown themselves to be good are those that I was wary of, but now I have found myself to be exactly like them. I'm canvassing a vote before I've even started campaigning, and they just started a little earlier than me. Whether that makes me an arse or whether that makes me normal I don't know; the world I currently exist within makes me out to be a politician whether I like it or not. Diplomacy tends to be the only way to end an argument that never should have started if we were all a little more open in the first place.

But then that's much like life in general. If we never say what we are thinking, or struggle to portray exactly what we mean, then we're bound to cause upset or unrest when we finally seem to 'explode' into a tirade of apparently unprovoked opinions set at someone's throat. We might not necessarily mean them, although in my case I stand true that everything I've said before I've meant at the time, if not as a permanent belief, but nonetheless we say them and get on with our lives. If we don't vent then we only end up causing serious damage to ourselves, so my selfishness is born out of a desire to make the world a better place in the future. In my opinion. Because in my opinion, of course, the world is a better place with me than without me.

And perhaps that relates back to my earlier point. Washing up pots and pans and clearing out cupboards, albeit briefly, earlier this evening I must have stumbled across what I now apparently see to be a profound metaphor for life: I'm possessive over my things because I'm selfish, and I'm selfish because I'm selfless; I give almost everything I have to other people, and I sometimes feel as though it comes across as though I only want their love rather than what's best for them.

I want to believe that I'm doing it out of compassion, like the Dalai Lama has taught me so far this year, but I reckon it's because at the heart of any situation I find myself in I always turn to what's best for me. It just so happens that it also helps more people than it hurts.

Utilitarianism is hard (not just to spell!) It requires more statistical analysis in every aspect than is always necessary or justified, whilst also causing more suffering than it's worth in most cases. In this most recent case I know that in my heart of hearts I wouldn't change a thing, although in the past that has not always been the case. If it comes back to me in a bad way then so be it, but honesty is the best policy, and if unfortunately your honesty comes at a price then perhaps you should change what you genuinely believe in, or perhaps stop believing in anything. Ideas are all the world has ever been based on, not opinions to be forced upon others.

It is not my place to judge you; I'm no higher being, merely a boy with a blog, a man with too much time on his hands. If you've found my comments to be out of place then perhaps look within before responding. If I'm wrong then I'm wrong. At the end of the world there is no right answer, only the finality of existence, as we know it anyway. Don't let the little things bother you.

Anyway, they're only words. And what did words ever do to you?


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Struggling to be funny

Making people laugh is VERY tricky, especially doing it consistently without feeling like you're resorting to lowest-common-denominator jokes or situations (such as falling over and injuring yourself or saying things loudly in stupid accents or broken speech.)

I'm lucky enough to have a girlfriend (yes, that'll usually be a lucky situation for me given that I am almost impossible to tolerate for more than 10 minutes) who laughs at almost everything, which is grand, but I still want to take that and make everyone else chuckle just the same. It's annoying and sometimes impossible, and given that I am not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed and don't know enough about anything in particular to delve into something so deeply that everything is witty it makes it even more frustrating on my part.

I'm happy to sail around the social world, jumping in with small comments that make me sound at least half-smart, but I would much rather be able to say them and choose not to, knowing that I would be adding them all up and arrive with something incredibly hysterical later on. Timing is everything, in more than just this small aspect of our existences, and I am afraid, friends, that my time is either yet to come or flew by long ago.

Perhaps when I was in Brighton I missed my chance to really go for it. Perhaps the fear of failure was more daunting for me than ever it was before, perhaps I'm genuinely terrified about what people in the world actually think of me. Perhaps I would much rather be the centre of attention than the star attraction, if you catch my drift.

I will, for now at least, try to be the quiet one. I don't really have anything clever to say for the most part anyway so I may as well sit back, think about things and work out the best line to take when questioned or pushed on any issue. Perhaps I might actually be good in diplomacy, again not because I make the right decisions but instead because I don't make any decisions, and I only formalise opinions once my paycheques have stopped coming and I've attained all the titles I hoped to achieve when setting out my stall.

Like everyone else in government, I'll remain quiet and end up a servant of her majesty's highest honour because I kept my charity private and my profile obscure. I towed the line; I was scared to veer off into the employment wilderness, the public metropolis, and come back stronger, more popular, more loved, more admired and more revered. Because in the end, it's not what people think of themselves but actually knowing that they did as little wrong in their life as possible, that the mistakes they made couldn't be avoided, or they knew would bring with them consequences that they could handle, and in the end would move them to more success in the long run.

But then, everyone's selfish when they can't share a gift. And I can't share laughter, so I'm taking it away from everyone else too.


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The new slang

It's been almost three weeks since I was last able to write down a briefing of my life, but having been told that I was a little too candid for my own good my hand was forced into shutting down the previous, infamous (or at least in-obscure) blog. So please brace yourself as I attempt to put down what I hope to achieve with this new title.

1) I will attempt to portray what it's like to live a pretty average life. While almost everyone in the 'blogosphere' (I agree with Charlie Brooker when I sudder at the thought of that term as the correct one for this form of communication) does this, mine is packed full of anger and controversy. However, now that I am living away from home I will at least try to be more thoughtful and considerate when I attack my prey.

2) I will make some generalisations without any references or justification. Essentially this is the same as before, but I feel that in the last four years I've gotten to a place that allows me to appear apparently informed.

That's about it for now, but I have to warn you that you WON'T like what you have to read, you WON'T agree with much of it and you're likely to want to harm me for the fact that I am:

a) pretty Conservative, both in Party and personal politics.
b) a tiny bit racist, although I feel I am able to embrace that as part of my personality (the same way that 'reformed paedophiles' now operate tour buses in London - see Brasseye)
c) lazy and depressed

There's more, but I have perhaps rushed this first entry simply because I cannot stand the idea of leaving it any longer before airing my views. That has been a drawback in the past, but no longer. I hope.


P.S. If anyone does want a full catalogue or perhaps only random months of the previous blog (jonezeeman.blogspot.com) then just get in touch with me here and I'll send them over; I've archived them for later in life when I'm famous enough that someone might read my memoirs.