Don’t look up

Adam McKay directed this new Netflix release which everyone is talking about and I know of him because of ‘The Big Short’.

It was quite refreshing to watch ‘The Big Short’ insofar as it called out the evil self centred bankers for who they were. Greed, corruption and short sightedness that crashed the entire global mark, explained in a way that is digestible for the majority of people who are willing to pay attention.

And it makes sense that the same director would have the courage to take on a film that catches the modern day zeitgeist.

From a critical perspective, the film does feel heavy handed and sometimes disjointed and I can underside why some critics would have a problem with it but the core of the film and it’s intention overrides that. It’s also rather funny and outright bonkers at times.

Modern life can be inane and feel like utter insanity.

One of the biggest issues is ignorance. I may be omitting tact here but ignorance is a huge problem and it’s viscous cycle is caused by the fact that being ignorant means one thinks they are right when they are wrong and cannot see otherwise! The best metaphor I’ve heard to describe this is ‘tail wagging the dog’.

Trump was a symptom of a decline of democracy. The ride towards authoritarianism is a problem and it’s happening now.

People are so polarised. It’s as if you go online and no one on opposing spectrums can agree on anything, not least the basic facts! Leonardo Decaprios rant is a primal scream of rage at humans inability to accept objective principles, never mind the mass media’s obsession with trivialising everything. You speak the truth and then you get marginalised and shut down.

And the news would rather entertain and excite than inform. Virality supersedes reality.

Opinion is easier to sway through the voice of a celebrity than the actual experts working behind the scenes. And money and celebrity status doesn’t equate to their voice necessarily being the right ones to listen to! There are plenty of self proclaimed messiahs out there who think they know better.

It’s a case of belief falling into illusion vs. reason finding truth. Philosophy should be taught in schools more prevalently so people can tell the difference and think about the way they think a bit more.

It’s perfectly fine to say I don’t know and there’s a better voice out there than mine to speak about this.

It should also be acceptable and respectable for people to concede they are wrong.

Instead, we vote in narcissistic lunatics unfit for their roles and bury our heads in national pride whilst they rig the system for their own selfish needs.

If you want to dig further, listen to Gaslit Nation. What Sarah Kendzior and Andre Chalupa cover is uncomfortable and makes your blood boil but it’s necessary to confront the reality.

The main allegory here is climate change. Greta Thunberg gets tonnes of flack for telling the truth whilst leaders promise everything, deliver the bare minimum and now greenwash us.

I’m glad a cultural exposé is out there to be talked about. McKay and his actors and crew took their art form and used it to show what they see.

Amidst the chaos we are in, what do you see?

116 123

This is not an easy thing to write about but needless to say I feel I must.

116 123 is the Samaritans hotline and if you feel like you need to call it, do so.

Several people I know or know of have committed suicide.

Young, talented, brilliant and loved people and every one is tragedy and it is both shocking and hurts like hell to know that this feels like and eventually becomes the only option for some people.

Unless you’ve been there, it’s incomprehensible to imagine that level of suffering.

Whilst some government efforts have started to scale towards providing provisions for mental health, it still feels like there’s a long way to go.

To my understanding, there are 7 needs we have:

Self acceptance

Meaning

Hope

Status

Pride

Love

Forgiveness

And modern society tends to stamp all over these needs. Social media constantly amplifies you’re inadequacies as much as marketing does if not more. Your lack of approval or everyone’s life apparently being better and more successful than yours.

Housing crisis, the slow revolution of industrial to digital and the lack of dignified jobs or financial safety nets. Young people are churned out into the real world after education and expected to get ahead straight away. Not to mention economic inequalities as per my previous post.

Even if people have a support network around them, some of us are susceptible to that line of thinking.

And there is a culture where some people can’t bring themselves to talk about it out of the sheer level of fear or psychological viscous circle they fallen into.

And I don’t know the half of it. I’m lucky to be able to express myself and vulnerabilities rather well and exercise always lifts me. I can keep a blue patch of sky above me and encourage everyone to do the same.

And if one can’t and there’s no one immediately to talk to, don’t be ashamed to call that number.

Life is a beautiful gift, and if you don’t see it right now, there’s every chance you can feel that in future.

Delegitimisation of Greed

Greed became an acceptable thing in the 80s.

Financial greed has become one of the fundamental issues at the heart of so many global problems.

The financial crisis and the housing market, the technological revolution, the climate crisis…all of the complacency and unwillingness to follow through on promises that the world needs can be stemmed to short sighted greed.

The world’s richest CEO’s pursuit vanity projects in outer space whilst the Earth itself suffers from a cancer of the atmosphere, more commonly known as climate change.

As each year goes by, there is a tangible sense of anger and resentment, especially when young smart people are working their asses off to get an education, get ahead, keep their LinkedIn profile up to date only to end up in tens of thousands of debt and still even then struggle to attain a job with dignity that can cover the bills.

‘Parasite’ touched upon the issue with one of its opening lines of dialogue, 500 graduates in Korea applying for a single security job.

People do not need to be billionaires. To argue otherwise isn’t based on meritocracy but entitlement. I’ve no problem with people doing well for themselves and becoming rich but there’s a threshold when those who are already rich start pursuing even more wealth for no more than the hedonic treadmill of status or Forbes lists…that’s where the line has to be drawn.

Check out these stats on Oxfam. https://www.oxfam.org/en/5-shocking-facts-about-extreme-global-inequality-and-how-even-it

It’s totally unacceptable and some people are waking up to this…but not enough!

It’s time to stop idolising egoistic billionaires and call them out for the greed ridden lunatics they are. And for those going down the legitimacy rabbit hole and gross oversimplification of calling this line of thought communism, it’s not! It’s the necessary cause of action required to make things fairer, eradicate poverty, improve lives across the globe and save the planet. Hyper-capitalism is literally killing the planet.

Tax the rich.

Time is elastic

I read a brilliant article today from the Guardian about how our attention has been stolen from us. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jan/02/attention-span-focus-screens-apps-smartphones-social-media

There’s also a brilliant podcast by Seth Godin on our use of time. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/akimbo-a-podcast-from-seth-godin/id1345042626?i=1000539150843

My phone tells me how much screen time I use and when that information is revealed to me, I only realise then whether I’ve spent too much time online or on the phone.

The pandemic has also altered my state of mind when it comes to use of time and quality of attention over time. Especially when I consider how to make the best of my time when I work from home.

And one of my favourite quotes about time is from Proust.

‘The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.’

Time moves slower when we are aware of time. What habits do we have in place? Are they predominantly good ones or bad ones?

No doubt, we have to fill time in leisure and mere habits but the days I spend pursuing passions are more fulfilling.

Some of the passions I have are as follows:

Playing guitar, composing, producing, mixing, arranging, editing, teaching, listening to and learning music.

Collaborating with and inspiring others to get the best out of each other. Engaging in interesting and open discussions.

Running, cycling, swimming and beating personal records, setting and achieving new goals.

Cooking vegetarian food from scratch. Learning new recipes and trying different things.

Reading books, both fictional and non fictional. listening to podcasts that inform, educate and inspire me.

Supporting Liverpool and watching sports, namely football and F1 and getting into the political or tactical details.

Long walks with friends. Time spent with family and friends.

Writing on my website.

Each day is an opportunity to fill up time with your passions. Sometimes passions find you but I find that it’s more likely that you garner a passion when you work for it.

Ultimately, may each day be filled with time and attention spent on that which is worthwhile. There’s significantly more than a lifetime’s worth of worthwhile out there.

Mapping out time

New Year’s Eve is an odd event. It’s a party, it’s a hootananny, it’s hype and anticipation and fireworks and it can be a drunken blur or a suitably peaceful anti-climax.

New Year’s Day is lazy and I like it! There’s a holiday sense to it and it’s usually a peaceful day and that is what it was for me.

And inevitably, there is some sense of reflection involved. The culture drives it when it comes to food and activity for instance. Cue the noon diets and gym memberships in response to the overindulgence of Christmas.

It’s all a bit of an illusion. It’s easy to lose sense of time through the holiday period and the significance of Christmas and New Year’s Day disorientate us. Before long, the weeks of January kick in, work kicks in and we are back into routines.

When it comes to mapping out time, seasons lend themselves to certain things as do holiday periods, but to engage in short, medium or long term possibilities can happen at any time and possibility is available to us all. I like to think we can control those things to some extent as opposed to time dictating it for us. Small choices and steps are available to us now to make things better.

For me personally, 2021 was one of the most creatively diverse years of my life. I made a vast amount of music and collaborated with so many brilliant people and now as we enter 2022, I look forward to sharing my work with you.

I wish everyone peace of mind, success and happiness as we enter the New Year.

DEAR

Drop Everything and Read

It’s an initiative in schools to encourage more reading. Especially in response to falling literacy standards.

Should the same initiative be applied to adults too?

I have no doubt that increased forms of media consumption including of course social as taken up time and attention, arguably away from reading and that is a real shame.

And I truly know that when I commit to a book, especially a good one, the rewards are astronomical and far outweigh any time spent scrolling news feeds.

Books have shaped my views on the world profoundly. I wouldn’t have taken the risks and career decisions going forward were it not for books like the Art of Possibility by Ben and Roz Zander or Linchpin by Seth Godin. I wouldn’t have the same sense of compassion were it not for Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy or Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I wouldn’t have the imagination I do were it not for Lord of the Rings or the pleasure of details in everyday life were it not for Proust.

Having taken time off, I’ve kicked started my reading again and from here on I will aim to do at least twenty minutes of reading a day.

Funnily enough the more I read, the more I want to read and the less time I want to spend online.

The profound rewards of reading are one of life’s great joys and despite the new landscapes that technology has provided, it’s worth reminding ourselves of that every once in a while.

Christmas

Christmas is a strange holiday to me.

It is a wonderfully baffling cornucopia of festive traditions, all of which is initially inspired by the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by billions of people, both religious and secular.

Added to that is all the festive traditions that take place from fairly lights to Christmas trees to exchanging presents. Honestly, it’s all there in my head as fixed traditions but part of me wants to dig deeper and understand where it all exactly came from.

The colourful lighting of Christmas comes at an apt time of the year. Especially in the Northern Hemisphere where days are shorter. The festivity works as a wonderful tonic for the darker days and I love participating in the collective traditions that bring together family and friends in eating too much, drinking too much and participating in intense, high stakes board games.

Whilst Christmas amplifies a sense of togetherness and generosity, it also can amplify pain and loss and especially during Covid, I approach Christmas with an appreciativeness of family and comfort but also a dose of compassion.

I also reflect on the year that has past and whilst I perhaps hesitate to categorise the time too much, it is a good way to look back on what has been achieved and what one may set out to do next.

To everyone who has read and listened to my work this last year, I extend to you my gratitude and may Christmas be everything you need it to be this year, merry, happy, peaceful and/or anything else for that matter.

Season’s Greetings.

Booster

I was fortunate enough to be called up for my booster jab on Saturday morning.

The following night, I had shivers, got to bed, kept as warm as I could and drank about 2 litres through the night.

I’ve also been wiped out for four days, barely left the house but for some short walks, accompanied by books, music, the Witcher and Jon Ronson’s things fell apart radio series.

I had two Pfizer shots in the summer and the booster was the moderna. I am surprised at how much I’ve felt it but that’s because my body is responding and building up immunity to the vaccine. Reports have come out that this combination of doses is really effective against Omicron.

It’s a blessing in disguise in some ways as resting is what I’ve probably needed to do following a busy few months. I’m nearly back at full strength and positive that I’ll feel refreshed.

It’s not pleasant but side affects from the vaccine shouldn’t discourage one from taking it.

There are a few rough weeks ahead as we enter winter and over 100,000 cases were reported in the U.K. today.

Wishing everyone health and peace of mind going forward and my sympathies to everyone who has had their festive plans disrupted.

Avoiding being a troll

Everyone has an opinion.

And many who think they know better, don’t.

And many who claim to be an expert, aren’t.

And social media amplifies all of this and puts it out there as a stark reality of the world we live in where anyone behind the veil of a device can write what they like. It’s not a new problem and has been going on a while now.

It’s always easier to be a critic than a creator. It’s always easier to sit back and judge those who do and most of the time, these people who do write in this kind of way are clearly expressing some form of hurt or fear they are feeling in themselves.

That’s not to excuse the abuse Latifi received for his DNF or that football players get for mistakes. The fact that these people can receive death threats is well beyond the pale and as usual more needs to be done to quash this kind of behaviour.

But for those participating in this kind of behaviour for now. A simple alternative would be to go for a walk, get some air and return to the state of being able to have a perspective on things. Such as sports really being a wonderful irrelevance.

By all means have your opinion, but if one directs it in a purposefully harmful way, that’s not acceptable and does no one anyone any good, least of all oneself.

Better to not contribute to the noise until you have something constructive or insightful to say.

The F1 world title.

Spoiler alert.

There was an expressed desire that the race would be won on the track.

So what we got was a safety car, a decision that cars would not be able to unlap themselves and then some cars could in the last minute, an 11 second advantage essentially wiped out by a crash, and replaced by another advantage in the form of fresh soft tyres against old hard tyres for a one lap show down.

Verstappen wins the championship and Hamilton loses out through no fault of his own and Mercedes protest twice, get rejected and are now appealing.

This is really messy and the victory for Verstappen is unfortunately, rather hollow.

Hamilton and Verstappen both drove and battled amazingly throughout the season. Red bull had the better car at the start but from the half way point, Mercedes tweaked some things, managed to find their A game and clawed their way back.

And as great a driver as Verstappen is, I was less than impressed with his aggressive tactics and standards. It’s the inner bastard that this kind of sport manifests in you and he won’t back out and is always in it for himself.

Hamilton’s experience and approach was much more dignified. He changed tact to avoid collisions and always puts the collective effort first above himself, hence why he always talks about the crowds or the teams first before himself. How he handled the loss with such dignity and grace is to be hugely admired.

But Hamilton didn’t deserve to have his 8th world title clinched away in such fashion by an FIA call that was at best, inconsistent and arbitrary.

For Masi to change his mind last minute puts a real dent in his credibility. Such a discussion with the safety car meant that he ended up dictating the winner. After all the work Hamilton and Mercedes did, there were no good options, including changing tyres due to losing track position.

So the lap cars could unlap themselves to let the battle take place for 1st but what about podium positions and Sainz? Did those positions not count for that kind of consideration in the last lap showdown?

And it makes you wonder how manipulated this situation was. It provided a last minute spectacle but that was that the expense of rules being consistently applied in the sport?

This needs to be questioned going forward.

And I don’t like the stewards constantly being badgered by team principals. Horner will especially use every trick in the book and to him, it’s NEVER his drivers’ fault. The Red flag situation at Saudi Arabia when Verstappen almost caused a collision at the second restart sounded like a negotiation as opposed to an enforced rule. The authority of Masi was always challenged and at times, it appeared he cracked under the pressure.

So many people feel that a world championship battle tonight and even the sport as a whole was tarnished by an arbitrary decision this evening, and they are right!

And whilst Hamilton may not be victorious for this year, he’s still a 7 time champion and captures the essence of a sportsman who is dignified, has an amazing attitude and stands up for justice and causes he believes in.

And it’s not new news that the deserving are victorious in F1, but that’s also the case for many other aspects in life.

Despite that, Hamilton’s maxim is the most fitting response.

‘Still we rise’.