Own Worst Critic

Posted: 08.05.11 in Blogging

A lot of people claim to be their own worst critic, but what does it actually mean? I happen to think I am my own best critic: someone that tells me I’m getting by but capable of so much better.

My self-criticism happens in-house. I’m not gushing with self-loathing as that often happens within. I allow it to manifest itself sometimes, largely in order to quantify and qualify those thoughts with my peers and those interested in how I’m doing. I largely keep it under wraps though. I think that’s good; people don’t really like being heaped with the responsibility of meddling with someone’s enthusiasm, drive and confidence.

This brings me to David Mitchell’s article curiously entitled I couldn’t watch footage of Bin Laden’s death. And as for The Apprenticeā€¦ in The Observer. I’m not entirely certain what the article is about, but it mentions the over-inflated egos of the contestants and the waffle they produce when they are presented with an audience. This is what happens when you give the responsibility of meddling with someone’s enthusiasm, drive and confidence to the wrong people.

Who applies to go on The Apprentice? Are they the most enthusiastic, driven and confident people in business in this country? Nope. They are relatively unsuccessful and are looking for a shortcut. TV exposure with immodest and uncomposed gushing of self-praise surely negates lack of success elsewhere…

If I had been selected as a contestant on The Apprentice, I would be asking the question, “why?”. Producers survive by making “good television”, which now means throwing together seemingly obnoxious, argumentative and auto-elating freaks of human nature to complete frivolous tasks. I certainly wouldn’t necessarily believe that some television executive saw a spark untapped business acumen and exciting new potential within me; nor would I feel that anyone connected with the show had the confidence that I was fully composed and attached.

So where am I aiming for as my place in society? I’m going the for the middle ground: someone that won’t get featured on television, but also someone that doesn’t take the rest of the world down with them.


Technology in Football

Posted: 01.05.11 in Blogging

Michael Owen tweeted yesterday, “Once goal line technology is brought in, how long before it is being used for other decisions like offsides?” Is it a good point? No, I don’t think so. This seems to be a line common amongst those that don’t even trust themselves to be able to stop — let alone trusting an authority charged with the care of the game to have the competence to draw the line.

Let’s get this straight. We have cloned creatures. We can make crop incredibly robust. We can make buildings that can withstand earthquakes. But we don’t have houses that hover in the sky. We don’t have meals that make themselves. We haven’t cloned Bruce Forsyth.

Why not? Aren’t we capable? Sure, we probably are. But the thing is, collectively, we all know instinctively that these are bad ideas. We have drawn the line somewhere, because we can gather the intelligence amongst us to debate sensibly and decide.

This is why, if we introduce goal-line technology (which, by the way, promises immediate feedback rather than referral to a video referee), we won’t be immediately calling for a computer to replace the referee purely because of precedent.

In a Quandary

Posted: 01.05.11 in Blogging

In the United Kingdom a referendum will soon decide whether we change our voting system. Currently we use the common and established “first past the post” system; what is being proposed is the “alternative vote” system, where candidates are ranked according to preference. These ranks come into play if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote from first choices alone.

There is a case for change – I believe that almost purely because we are having this referendum in the first place. I remain unsure how I will vote, however. Much of what is being argued is being lost in the frivolous and the usual infantile inter- and intra-party mud-slinging.

The biggest problem with this referendum, in my view, is that whenever politicians offer us a list of choices on a sheet of paper, we are trained to pick our favoured choice, but this isn’t really what it should be about. This referendum is asking us, “which system is the fairest way of deciding how our MPs are selected?”.

What irks people about first past the post is that an unpopular candidate can win amongst a large number of candidates. For example, in a vote with ten candidates, it is possible to win with just 10% of the popular vote.

The alternative vote selling point is that unpopular candidates don’t get in (in theory). As a selling point, is this relevant? One might suggest that, in the previous UK election, voters may have opted to vote for Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates in order to bury the Conservative candidate’s chances. My accusation is, therefore, that one might choose the alternative vote in a hope that they will be able to eliminate their least favourite candidates – and less because they think alternative vote is fairer.

Everything is, however, muddied by party politics anyway. Things have been said and written about tactical voting to decide which party sits on which side of the House of Commons. It would be naive to suggest that voters allay any thoughts of national issues and party connections when voting for their local MP. The biggest impact occurs at national level and I expect this is how many people vote. Out of interest, the Conservative Party “won” the vote with 36.1%; Labour received 29.0% and the Liberal Democrats got 23.0%.

I wonder how this would have changed if the alternative vote was in place. I also wonder whether this will influence the result in the upcoming referendum.

All the Same, It's Fun

Posted: 28.03.11 in Blogging

I’ve been tired much of this evening. But I’ve spent the past hour listening to music. That’s not terribly unlike me: life and its mysteries seem a little easier to understand and confront when you have a soundtrack.

But there is one thing that’s got to me; that I have not been able to unravel and fathom. How can the hider ever win against the seeker? The reward for hiding particularly well is isolation; and the fact that isolation is the desire makes it a self-perpetuating outcome. Those good at hiding become ever harder to seek, to the point where the seeker gives up. The seeker still wins, for he has ended the game under his control and the hider is nowhere to be seen.

It strikes me that to win, one must be a seeker or just leave the game. But for the hider, removed from the wider picture, will feel like he is winning when in fact he lost a long time ago.

Who the Hell Am I?

Posted: 12.03.11 in Blogging

I walk into work most days. It is pretty convenient, and I get to walk along a brook of sorts. It’s precious “good” thinking time. I have plenty of “bad” thinking time, but the fresh air, purpose and grandiose inflation of power does me an exceptional good. Lately this good thinking time has led me to ponder exactly who I am. It is a bizarre question, don’t kid yourselves!

My overriding conclusion is that I am a hybrid. Or I have identity crises. Or there is some sort of mental meltdown going on. I shall explain the former.

On campus, I have seen a surprising number of Northumberland flag car stickers. I have one as well, and I delight in seeing them. I am proud that I am a Northumbrian (also, a Geordie). But, whenever I am asked where I am from, I have a compulsion to mention Kent, too. Kent is a hugely historic and culturally important place, too. But no car stickers…

I approach life with Buddhist motives (but I could not claim to be a Buddhist), yet I have my moments. I revel in technology and buy luxurious things, but I am just as happy (happier, maybe?) when I remove myself from this inventory.

There are other ways in which I consider myself to be a contradiction of ideals or constructs. I desire to be “normal”, but I also revel in my uniqueness. In so many ways, I still do not really know who I am and this has irked me lately.