I've often described Twitter as a noisy echo chamber. And I stand by that.
There are too many voices on Twitter that it's hard to discover truly meaningful or compelling thoughts. And when you, do it's quite likely that it's either something you've heard before, are in complete agreement with or even (gasp) something you've said already.
Twitter has it's uses which is why now and again other you might get something other than a joke amongst the trending topics. This early part of June it has mostly been the #YessAllWomen campaign which I believe has been inspired by a supposed lack of respect of women from men, violence and rape against women and er... the serious travesty of men not accepting no as no when hitting on women. Yes, that all time stain against humanity which is surely a Nobel Peace prize-in-waiting. If only Paris Hilton can stop taking selfies long enough to unsuccessfully campaign about the men who incorrectly come to the conclusion that because they would do her then that means she would do them.
A campaign highlighting that women deserve respect is definitely well meaning and needs no justification. However the #YesAllWomen campaign started being by dominated by generalised anti-male stuff like this
"I have a boyfriend" is the easiest way to get a man to leave you alone. Because he respects another man more than you. #yesallwomen
— Rylah (@JBRylah) May 25, 2014
and this classic article (by a man no less!)
The #yesallwomen campaign made me worried for my infant daughter's future My daughter is 14 months old. The #yesallwomen campaign made it clear that she will grow up in a world saturated in misogyny and violence
Which makes you wonder why on earth this journalist is even having kids if the world is so messed up? You get the feeling that this guy is going to be first in line for genetic embryo selection in order to avoid getting a girl just as soon as mankind solves the problems around the ethics of that. But maybe not, as men are evidently the problem in his violent view of the world. Like most right thinking men with balls and who are not afraid to put a woman in her place I had my say...
Predictably despite my presence on Twitter being conspicuous only for it's inconspicuousness, the Twitter feminists promptly got wind of it and a very interesting conversation ensued. During which it was asserted that though women understand that it is not all men are threat, however all women feel under threat, all the time. If looked at from another point of view that means any male presence is a threat. In typical Twitter fashion, no one convinced anyone else except we all vented and got retweets from our fellow followers. It's is ironic that no agreement was reached despite the well proven fact that the Twitterati are derived from a certain section of society. You would think it would be easy to preach to the converted, but today I've found out that it isn't.
It's a pity that there's so little building construction going on in the western world. Now that Twitter is the de-facto social barometer it is probably right to think that if builders still engaged in mass wolf-whistling, Presidents and Prime Ministers would be forced into calling press-conferences promising to address this scourge of society following another twitter storm. As far as I can tell, that behaviour never brought society down, disgusting as it may be.
My point is that that a furore on Twitter feels a multitude of times more forceful, usually amplified by Twitter's coverage in the media and the use of Twitter reaction as referable measurement of public outrage. This is despite the majority of the world not being on Twitter and it not being being a representative sample of any geographic population that I'm aware of.
I'm not surprised that Boko Haram and other modern terrorists are not on Twitter despite it's effectiveness in attracting similar minded itchy-fingered keyboard zealots. Apart from Beliebers can any demography deal with the bile of an ill-informed, yet well aimed shit-storm? Enough celebrities have quit Twitter in a huff or been forced into apologising having been baited by a single ignorant troll. Now imagine if you can, an Earth-sized harem of Twitter feminists with no facts, no figures to refer to; armed with cut-and-paste quotes and spurred on by the idea that, if unchecked the inability of men to say no when first told where to stick their inept lyrics, will somehow grow into the violent subjugation of women! And of course, that there is a majority of these people on Twitter. A logical person like me would ask why these feminists are willing to spend time on a platform such as Twitter if it is filled with such like, except it would be pointless because this debate does not let facts get in the way.
If you're a feminist and haven't been offended enough by my snide jokes to read this far I will go on to put it on record that there is indeed a problem of some men not respecting women and doing despicable things to them by taking advantage of men's physical superiority and it is is serious. But it's less & less pervasive as the years go by. The glass is half full not half empty. Any campaign to gain respect needs to engage men positively and not demonise those of us who love women the right way.
It is women's prerogative to campaign how they want. I'm just saying that I know us men and am by no means saying what women should do. However this is a note of advice to women that if we feel something is ridiculous we will only react one way of two ways. With indifference or if we're bothered we'll react with humour. Unless you're journalist with no balls!
When you think there is less shame in killing your daughter than in letting her marry for love, it is clear that you are not man enough to stand up to your society. #Cowards.
Pakistani girl, 18, survives botched 'honor killing' carried out by her own family for marrying the man she loved
I'm a staunch believer that behavioural differences in human beings are most often dictated by culture rather than by genetics. My view firmly includes most racial and gender differences.
So sometime ago I read some comments made by Adam Carolla an American comedian, writer and radio personality who said that men are funnier than women. A shit-storm had promptly started around this topic with all the shit squarely aimed at Carolla....well maybe not squarely... but as well as one can aim a shit when it's hit a fan. In the end Carolla's words were somehow being interpreted as to say that women are not funny; period. No pun intended. The suggestion that Carolla meant that women are incapable of being funny is not something that I observed. Merely that they are just as capable but are less likely to be funny.
Anyway Carolla said something I'd never seriously thought about, but having read it all I could think was 'that of course they are, it's cultural!' I'm not going to bore you with stats to try and prove the fact, but I will instead just appeal to all those who disagree to put away their blinkers and face reality. Women are not as funny as men NOT because they are born that way but because they mostly never have to court men in order to go out with them.
That's right folks, the act of actively trying to woo someone of the opposite sex is one of the hardest things known to men. It is so difficult that I think the phrase 'it's not rocket science' should be replaced by 'it's not courtship'. Lets face it the success rate of rockets being sent to space is probably much better than the 'pull' rate of any man you know. No doubt you may know a genuine local stud or may have had the pleasure of being a wingman to such a guy but one thing is for sure, on an average night a guy on the pull will have more wrecks than the number of times NASA has had failed space missions. In short, the chances of success are indeed harder than rocket science.
The fact that we only remember details of the successes of our courting activities shouldn't take away from the overall difficulty of hooking up with someone. It is natural that people block all memories of failure and therefore think themselves as more successful than they actually are. That's because memory block is in itself a coping mechanism designed to keep spirits high and maximise the chances of future success, despite the sad reality.
One thing is for sure, whatever the intention is when a guy tries to attract someone it all starts with the girl having done a half second check that results in a virtual green or red light. But that in itself is no guarantee that a guy will actually get himself a new girlfriend, because that mental note is normally only based on such superficial things as looks, dress sense, dance ability, muscles or whatever gimmick a guy will have used to initiate contact.
It is after this stage that the ability to engage a woman is crucial. After all, even when meeting someone in a nightclub, quite a number of women are misguided enough to picture a lasting relationship based on face, dress sense, dancing or muscles. Needless to say a man's ability to offer insight into the Greek financial crisis will not engage most women.... not even if that woman is Angela Merkel. As well as an appealing face it is always best for you as a guy to be able to provide a woman some sort of relaxing conversation, mostly to keep them from focusing on your bad points. It is my observation that the success of a relationship is dictated by how long we can keep the other person from dwelling on our individual short comings. No pun intended.
My theory is that even a 40 year old aspiring rapper with an unsuccessful drug dealing sideline can hold down a relationship if they can guarantee a woman plenty of conversation, punctuated by frequent compliments and laughs. Next to sex, no other feeling generates an inner sense of fuzzy warmth, than laughter. Unfortunately to get sex (or a relationship as women call it), one has to have somehow demonstrated an ability to generate said warm fuzzy feeling. Which is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Fortunately for women, most societies have long dictated that they should enjoy spiritual, moral and other intangible benefits which men should not. The ultimate benefit being that women do not have to actively seek out partners. This is an allowance which is afforded to them by various unclear traditions. Therefore, catch 22 or not, it is for us men to;
(a) blindly seek out a woman whose half a second check we passed and not her friend (because that sort of thing is hard to recover from)
(b) maintain her attention at all times,
(c) keep women distracted from whatever deficiencies we may have,
(d) make sure that our women only conduct or act upon as few half a second checks as possible by being all the man she needs.
Yep, it's tough being a man! But it's all a lot easier if you can make a woman laugh.
In practise, the fact that from an early age girls only have to sit back and watch wave after wave of desperate young men try to attract them, means that they are far short of training in being funny. Thus my theory is that the funnier women are more likely to be gay, ugly or impatient about being hit on. Which is just as well because I believe there are many kinds of sexy and that for a not-so-good-looking woman being funny is an equaliser. The blonde joke phenomenom is an illustration of this. Society may not be saying it as such but what it implies is that pretty women don't need to be smart to be attractive. Or funny. Personally I'm one of those guys who believes that personality can be sexy. So yes, I'll admit that once upon a time when I went on dates I felt like wearing a t-shirt saying 'she's not ugly, she's funny!'
As you can tell this article is a non-scientific observation of my version of reality, but one thing that is true is that humour is the result of several cultural factors and that it can be developed later in life as a coping mechanism. It's not a bad thing if women are not as funny as men, in fact it would be very hard for them to be equally funny given that women generally do not have the benefit of years of practise. Being funny is also about recycling jokes from one courtship to another, seeing what works, mostly as a result of being knocked back and trying to vary the jokes one unsuccessful relationship at a time. All of that is hard enough without our friends constantly seeking to highlight any perceived lack of sexual activities in our life. You see, men don't talk about sex to each other, at least not the actual act of doing it. Most sex-talk between guys is around the lack of sex one of our friends may be experiencing. Usually that's as a smokescreen to our own lack of sex. Again this ritual is easier to deal with if one develops a sense humour.
Beyond romantic comedies I have no insight into what women talk about amongst themselves, but I struggle to think that their conversations about sex or any other topics are as laced with humour as ours are. I'm led to believe that sex is serious business to most women. So serious that young men find it hard to get some and that when a young lady finally has something to report, her friends want to know every detail. That said I'd actually suggest that an ability to be tactful is much more useful to women than a sense of humour given how readily they are to mistake jokes as 'snide comments'. Can you imagine being the girlfriend who joked that a low-cut top makes a friend look easy just as she's about to go on a first date? That is borderline 'you're trying to steal my man' territory and were that accusation ever to rear it's head, God help the neutral friend that will try to play down the situation with another joke.
It is for this reason that I envy peacocks. Everyone knows that they are much prettier than the female of the species and why. If God ever created the world again, I really hope he would solve the courtship problem in humans just like he did with peacocks. All it would take for Adam Carolla to defend himself is to whip out his lush multi-coloured tail-feathers and invite any doubting females.....'honey, look at yours then look at mine...' .
I was once in a conversation with an army officer who managed to form a pretty accurate assessment of the type of person that I am (entrepreneurial, full of ideas) without me having actually mentioned what I do.
So he asked me if I would ever work in a corporation, to which I replied that I would and that I had previously done that. Thinking about it later I realised that his question was more about whether or not I have a problem taking orders and if that would stop me working for someone else. That is to say, if you're entrepreneurial are you capable of working for other people?
It's a very interesting question which I thought about last week when Pascal Finette over at The Heretic wrote a post about encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs.
..many of our brightest students all around the world choose instead the perceived "safe" path of employment at Big Corp.
Even as an entrepreneurial person myself I don't think that starting your own business is a necessary requirement to being an entrepreneur. The mindset and method is more important than the title of founder. Google and Tesco both owe a great deal of their early success to two people who did not found the companies. I would class Eric Schmidt and Terry Leahy as great examples of entrepreneurs (or business people).
That is the reason why I answered to my officer friend that "no I do not have a problem taking orders". What I have a problem with is taking orders to advance a cause (or company) that I don't believe in.
Listening to Bob Marley's song 'Stir it up' the other day I was reminded of how the art of making good music and combining it with equally good lyrics with depth and meaning seems to have largely passed this generation by.
'Stir it up' is a beautiful love-song tinged with overt sexual connotations implied by the well-written but simply structured lyrics. The suggestiveness is easy to miss given that the song has a touching melody accompanied by the catchy 'stir it up...., little darling,....stir it up....' refrain. However it's so well put together that unlike a Sean Paul classic, you could imagine it being played to the Queen if she happened to be touring a 'successful' multi-cultural community centre and nobody would bat an eye-lid. Well apart from Prince Philip, who like me has an inflated view of his wit.
In fact it would never have been a surprise if someone asked me what Marley's song meant, which I believe is testament to singer-songwriters of old that had the ability to use deeper language than the music I come across today. The use of similes, idioms and metaphors in music seems to be a lost art. It's possible I'm listening to the wrong music and there are some literary geniuses out there putting out good music but one thing is for sure there aren't many in pop music. (Not withstanding the unfair comparisons of ordinary musicians to Bob Marley, but hey please bare with me, I'm trying to make a point!)
It can be pointed out that the creative vision of artists from the past has been known to be over-exaggerated as George Town University did by starting a degree in Philosophy with Star Trek. However this could be as a result of the current creative dearth in art in general. I only need to refer to the infinite number of cover-songs and movie remakes to conclude that maybe I should test my own theory, that I can accurately guess the ending of 50% of all song lyrics, if you only tell me the first two words.
It's hard to think of too many songs currently on the airwaves which we will in all seriousness ask ourselves what the meaning was in a year or two. Ten years ago the British band Kean had a song about their disappointment with authority following the Iraq war. However the catchy melody of the song would have been equally at home in a Bridget Jones movie just as she once again raised her hopes in yet another Mr Right! I believe that is saying something about the skill of writing a song with a strong message using subtle enough lyrics that the record can be interpreted in various ways. Not pretentiously abstract, but just enough to be able to convey other emotions.
Indeed, if there wasn't video of Bob Marley singing 'Stir it up' you could imagine some expert in 100 years claiming that Marley could not possibly have written his music because it was just too good to be him. Just like those Shakespearean naysayers with PHDs. Hmmm mmm....
For current musicians, it seems that the only time we're likely to question song content is when we're wondering who some veiled or not so veiled reference to another famous person is. Although Beyoncé does have a famously second-guessed song about her ego, but even that does not display any amount of depth when it comes to word-play (apart from the possessive being applied to the ego when it is in fact apparent that she is talking about her male interest's ego as belonging to her). Beyoncé talks about the 'ego' being too big, too strong and not fitting (lord knows where?); pretty much in those words. I'm guessing here, but I'm sure I'm right that at the age of three Beyoncé was capable of writing the exact same lyrics to describe her four year old grubby-handed playground-crush's tantrums. It's a shame, but that seems to be the depth of language in current popular music. No one will be asking Rihanna what she meant on Rude boy; "Come here rude boy, boy, can you get it up?" or Taylor Swift on 'We are never ever getting back together'. No one.
It might have escaped a few people at the time because I didn't blog about it, but animals have only one way to avoid being eaten and that is to somehow convince a human being to give them a name.
Most often, this happens by either being good at licking human faces or by being excellent at running and jumping for the benefit of human entertainment. If an animal does not manage to tick one of those boxes it risks ending up on someone's plate.
The horse-meat scandal was much more of a crisis than people realised because as the 'big brother' in the human/animal relationship we reneged on that unwritten rule. We risked bringing down the motivation for horses to do stuff for us simply because a few horse owners felt they should make more money by selling their horses for meat rather than glue (which would have been acceptable). Can you imagine what would happen if a horse knew that whether or not it was good at jumping it would end up as meat? Or if a cat was not motivated to lick it's owner's face for fear of ending up in a kebab? Well I don't know what would have happened and will leave you to speculate, but it can't have been anything good that's for sure.
Personally I'm glad it all blew over because horses could have ended up being as useless as chicken. We all know that chickens are good for nothing except eating. It's no doubt because they can't lick your face or run and jump for our entertainment (unless you're a sadistic gambler and are into cock-fighting).
Needless to say one year on it's cause for celebration that the natural order of things is still firmly in place. Horse racing is once again in full swing and dogs are still oblivious to the fact that they could have been licking people's faces for nothing. Lick, run, jump, get a name. It's motivation for them and it's companionship and entertainment for us. It's simple but it works. Let's keep it that way.
It's natural to have a problem and think that someone else is responsible for causing it. Whether you're in a relationship that is not going as well as it should or have a child who is not doing well at school. The default reaction for many people is that..."well I didn't cause that".
But a default reaction is just that, a default reaction with no analysis of what's gone wrong and why. And that is my overwhelming feeling about race hate in Britain and indeed throughout the ages. The 'others' are always an easy target when one isn't bothered about analysing what's actually going wrong, whether the issue is high unemployment or high cost of living.
It is also why you often get two opposing logics being used to support hateful thought. In any event I believe that there is always hope to correct such misconceptions, not withstanding that I believe Britain to already be a tolerant society by most measures.
More can and will be achieved and that is why I support Hope Not Hate. Their campaign has looked at the problems around race hate and chosen to fight it, first by educating with facts and more importantly by using democracy and the law. Cheers to them for being in existence for ten years but hopefully such campaigns will be so successful that they eventually won't be necessary.
It's amazing that I've so far managed to ride out the era of the skinny fit trousers without resorting to shopping at Marks & Spencer, BHS and other oldie shops. For the last few years I've had an ongoing search for a nice pair of regular fit trousers and each time I've failed due to the of skinny fit trousers epidemic. Unlike my man Jay-Z, my knots will fit in a pair of skinny fit trousers, however having tried out a pair now and again I can never seriously imagine myself doing anything other than posing around in them. What about all the other stuff I'll need to do, like walking, sitting, driving and God forbid I eat some sadza at a Zimbabwean event?! Don't get me wrong I'm still lucky enough to be able to pull off slim fit trousers but the thought of trousers that constantly feel like a prostate examination is not appealing to me. Plus designers seem to skate closer to the skinny part of the name rather than the fit. You can of course find regular fit trousers in some of the 'fashionable' shops but normally as part of a suit, which I have enough of, but not enough court cases or funerals to wear them at. I would buy regular fit trousers at the aforementioned oldie shops but I'd need to get over my fear of things like, elasticated waist bands, coin pockets, non-stain materials, trouser lining and turn-ups. I know that I may be stuck in the past style-wise but I'm not yet at the stage of putting comfort above fashion. I want both and I know I used to get both four short years ago.
So the last few years I've mainly had to survive on my old trousers but I'm just not sure how long I can hang on before all my regular fit trousers are skinny-fit anyway (hint, hint, love-handles) or just worn through. In the end this might be a losing fight though because I remember that during the pointy shoes era, I eventually got a pair! I don't particularly hate skinny fit trousers but for me they fall into that category of trends that is just not worth following. Unfortunately if a trend sticks around long enough it will eventually take you in whether you like it or not. Case in point button-down cardigans. Nuff said!
I subscribed to the spoof startup blog Vooza the other day and duly received my first email today, which was a sketch about the overuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements in startup-land.
A couple of hours later I was on Facebook and I saw an appeal from a friend for an NDA template. Now being an entrepreneurial guy myself I confess I have previously thought that ideas are everything. So I commented as much and thought the gist of what I wrote was worth re-blogging.
As someone who has signed numerous NDAs and who has also made others sign my own NDAs, I get where he was coming from. No one does original ideas any more and especially not in the Zimbabwean business community with its multitude of hair salon and bar 'tycoons'. However, I have now learnt that ideas are never worth as much as the execution. The person who succeeds in business is always the one who executed the idea well. Therefore, an idea done well is better than any NDA because no one will copy it if they can't do it better than you.