Monday, February 17, 2014

The end of everything (here at least)

This blog was fun, it did ok, and really doesnt deserve its fate, but the day has come.  This is my last post here.  But never fear (assuming you care).  I actually plan on writing more, more words, more topics, more ideas, more crazy, just - well - more.

Im combining worlds and crowds and crossing the streams and mixing the colours etc and bringing everything to one blog.  So if you are interested, if you want, you can see more of my ramblings over at "goin' down swingin"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Whats with these stupid memes about how simple it is to govern?

What is it with political conservatives that they seem to believe that all the big questions facing advanced 21st century economies can be reduced to simplistic homespun models with one or two variables, no assumptions, no ambiguities, no doubts etc.  In the 'real' world of national/state economies/societies there are real issues of competition, monopoly, scarcity, initial disadvantage, initial advantage, competing priorities, diverse views of positive outcomes, the role of debt to finance future growth, the role of society to protect its citizens (and thousands more).  Despite this impossibly complex environment consevatives believe all these intersecting and overlapping problems can be solved by ignoring them and instead applying a few primary school level logical situations.

For example, the task of determining the distribution of tax across people, trusts, companies, etc via direct and indirect means between people that earn essentially nothing and others that earn literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year is reduced to splitting up a beer tab.

Again, the task of figuring out how to best manage an economy of over 20 TRILLION dollars a year, involving half a billion 'players' (people/trusts/companies etc), that manages everything from the distribution of food stamps so that people can eat tomorrow through to conducting studies of what nuclear powered attack submarine will be ordered in 5 years time for delivery in 20 years is reduced to managing a household budget for a year.

Finally, the most recent one I've seen reduces the socio/political theory of 'socialism' which in its purist form requires hundreds of pages to explain and has been implemented in dozens (or even hundreds of different ways) to a single college lecturer refusing to give individual results and instead awarding everyone the class average.

I suspect there are three forces at work.

First is the basic conservative preference for the simple.  Note, I'm not saying conservatives ARE simple, I'm certainly not meaning to imply that they are in any way less intelligent, educated, aware etc than progressives.  However, as George Lakoff and others have often shown via studies, conservatives prefer a simple answer over a complex one, a yes/no over a maybe, a black/white over a bunch of grays.  So when confronted with reams of overlapping and often conflicting factors that cant be treated digitally but rather have to be balanced and nuanced they tend to simply discard them.

Secondly, I've found that for many conservatives the economy/society is personal and moral.  Its no coincidence that the richer people become the more selfish, this has been shown in any number of studies.  What also interesting are the pure numbers involved here, in the US for example the family that owns the WALMART chain (6 people) possess more wealth than the poorest 30% of amercians (100 million people).  When we are talking about the kind of conservatives with the money, time, energy and desire to devote resources to driving a media agenda (via the publishing of this pithy little economic parables for example) we are therefore generally discussing a relatively small group of people, conditioned by their wealth to be inward looking and in an economic/social position where the public and private, economic and moral become one and the same.

Finally, these stories are simply following a successful advertising/advertorial tradition.  Forget all the bullshit theorising, these methods of simplifyingto the point of silliness work as a form of advertising.  And make no mistake, that what these stories floating around the net are, advertising for a conservative point of view on whatever topic they are trying to win on.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Go Tigers

I've been to a winning grand final in 1980 and a losing one in 1982. Since then the tigers havent really even been that close to a premiership.  Now, I don't think we are going to win one this year either but the team Richmond has now, on and off the park,  is the best balanced, most complete team we've had in 30 years. I think finals this year are possible, even likely. That's enough for this Long suffering fan for a while.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My blogging life

Putting aside the strictly personnel there are three 'public' areas of my life. These are:

1. My new found interest in triathlon.

2 Photography.

3. Philosophy, politics and general spouting of opinions.

What do I mean by public? I suppose I mean I write about them and post my ideas, theories and opinions on the net for all to see. Recently, Ive been thinking that my internet life has been very poorly thought out and in consistent.

So right, that's the first thing. Why do I care if my net presence is a mess. After all it's just a hobby isn't it? Well yes, but then again I do make (a little) money from photography and I'd like to boost this a little so a clean up (and more disciplined posting routine ) would be good there. Also, I'm sure my triathlon readers couldn't care less about the other parts of my life that get a run in my 'mindshaft gap' blog so separating those would be good.

So, with that in mind I've decided to do a few things. The first is I'm starting a new blog, goin down swingin.

So that will be three blogs.

PmacImagery. This deals with primarily stills photography and related topics. What related topics I hear you ask. Well this goes in two directions from the photography jumping off point. On one hand, coming from the camera end, I'll be looking at general technology issues, you know, computers, software audio visual kit, that sort of thing. Going in the other direction from photography I'll be discussing ideas around art and the creative side of my existence.

Goin Down Swingin. This is my new blog dedicated to my interest in triathlon. I love watching the DVDs of ironman triathlons, especially Kona, but I'll admit I'm not really interested in the elites. Rather it's the age groupers that reel me in. Even more specifically it's the old blokes in their 60s to 80s that slug it out with nature out there on the iron man course that inspire me. They know that in the end nature will win, that one day the body won't make it, but they are determined to go out fighting all the way. The are going to go down swinging at an opponent that can't be beaten but must be fought. I intend to follow that example, hence the title of the blog.

Mind Shaft Gap. The concluding scenes of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, Dr Strangelove, are a crazy mix of mindless optimism, unending paranoia, good people trying in vain to save the world and the routine being the greatest source of evil. To me this sums up so so much I see both I in myself and the world At large. Thus I've named my general blog where I consider the biggest and littlest topics of the day after perhaps the most insane concept in an insane situation. If you need more on the exact meaning of the 'mine shaft gap' Google it.

But I'm not done there. There is more. In addition to starting a third blog, I'm changing that colour scheme of the blogs, unifying them and creating a single look for my 'brand' .

So what's the colour scheme? Well basically it's three(ish) colours:

Black (or dark grey)
White (or silver)

Why those colours? Well No great story really, first I find them aesthetically pleasing (a fancy way of saying they look cool). Secondly they work well as a web format. Thirdly, I can easily get gear (that I would wear) in these colours.

So that's it, a new blog, some more careful distinctions in how and where I write and a new colour scheme. This isn't the end of the development but hopefully it's a solid beginning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stay tune. Changes coming

I've broken the number one rule of blogging of late. What's that. PUBLISH OR DIE. Well I've been thinking of where this blog, and my internet 'life in general was heading and I've made a few calls. Changes are a'comin.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A big move forward - coaching

A big week for me as a triathlete as my sporting life takes a big step up in seriousness. I've entered a half iron man, big deal I've entered one of those before and withdrawn, but I've also realised that I've hit my limit as a self trained athlete and gone and joined a training squad.

I'm sure there are many people out there with all the discipline required to self coach and the world sometimes seems full of lonely triathletes out there pounding up and down the pool, pavement and track by themselves but I'm not one of them, or more accurately, I now realise that if I continue to be one of them I am effectively limiting my progression quite seriously. Why is that?

1. In general I lack the self discipline to drive myself outside my comfort level for long enough in a training session. I know all about tempo run sessions, hill climbing/sprinting rides, properly structured swim sessions but when its gets hard and I'm on my own history has shown I'll back it off just a little, extend the rest just a little, shorten the set just a little. It would be great if I didnt. Theres probably a whole bunch of things I can do to build my personal will power but then again, how long would that take and does it guarantee success? On the other hand, getting a coach and training as part of a squad also has a long history (with me) of being remarkably successful. When part of a group I naturally work my arse off to keep in touch with the leaders, possibly even leading myself, even when I shouldnt.

2. Swimming. I hate swimming training. I can swim, I used to swim - A LOT! Perhaps everyone has only so many black lines in them and after you've seen your share and you're done? I dont know, but what I am certain of is that I will find every excuse I can to avaoid swimming training. But a coach pretty much demands I swim and gives him visibility of when I dont. Also, having a squad of like minded people with me also takes away some of the loneliness of just being out there by yourself trudging up and down the lanes with the public.

3. Knowledge. The internat and magazines are brilliant and I have learnt an enormous amount from them in getting from couch bound slob to an athlete that can do an olympic distance tri. Again though I feel I'm hitting a limit. I cant see myself run/swim/ride - a magazine will give me a good idea of good technique but it wont tell me how my technique compares to the ideal. I know my running especially is pretty dodgy. I have developed a few mental pointers to keep my form in some sort of control but these are designed to avoid pain, not generate speed or endurance, so while useful they only take me so far.

So far I'm one training session in and already I'm 99% sure that I will commit to training with the squad for as long as I am in Melbourne.

PS. I training session I did was swimming. My first 'session' in that sport in 20 years. It was an easy one designed to transition people back into training after the layoff immediately after the end of the Australian 2011/12 season. 3.1 k's, thats it. It killed me. Half way in and my arms were jelly, my lungs felt full of water, both legs were cramping and I could barely support my body position. Still, I made it and I know I'll get better.

Friday, April 27, 2012

First season down, my plan for the next one

So my plan for 2011/12 didn't quite come off. I had planned to do a short course club event with Tomaree (check), a long course with Tomaree (check), a sprint distance in a "big" tri like the Gatorade series( check) and Olympic distance tri - the Sparke Helmore specifically (check) and a half ironman in cairns (fail).

Looking back this wasn't really a bad run for my first year in the sport.   Now, what next? Well I'm thinking this broad plan.

1. Port Macquarrie 70.3 in Oct 12.

2. Gatorade Series (sprint) in Melbourne for the 12/13 season.

3. Cairns 70.3 in June 13.

4. Busselton IM Dec 13.

The thinking behind this plan is pretty simple.

A. Build more endurance til October with 20 something clear weeks to prep for my first really long event.

B. Work on speed for few months (and really enjoy some - comparatively - hell for leather racing)

C. Get back into serious endurance lead-in to my second the half ironman.

D. After my second half, take a week or so off and then launch into another 20 week program for my first full ironman until I hear those words:


That plan means two and a half years from lazy fat arse to ironman. I think that's a nice, realistic plan. Yeah I could do it faster and the magazines are full of stories of people going from zero to hero in less than a year but really, why risk it.  I'm 45 years old, my knees, ankles, shoulders arent what they once were.  I plan to do these triathlons "well", pressing to meet a meaningless schedule in a race against - well - no one - is a recipe for breaking down and achieving nothing.