36. Alexander Gardner

Alexander Gardner was a man of his time. He wandered the world in the 1800s dealing with Kings and Princes with their own kingdom who were above the law. With health and safety and political correctness he could not have got away with what he did. Like a latter secret service agent he roamed the world doing what he liked when he liked.
He was in gun and sword fights and spent the end of his life suffering with 14 wounds. It was said he was difficult to understand his speech because of a big gash in his throat, a wound collected in one his fights. To eat and drink he had to clamp a pair of forceps to his neck to close the wound.

He was a big bearded man, a warrior, a man of great physical strength. In 1841 he saved the City of Lahore where his comrades had deserted him, and he shot 300 of the enemy. He wrote a book chronicling the Fall of the Sikh Empire.
His Father was Scottish and his mother Spanish and he was born in Wisconsin US. For 13 years he wandered around Central Asia. He was captured in Afghanistan and recruited to command a small army. He married a local and had a son who were both killed.

Gardner wrote a journal: most of it lost. Extracts were published in 1853: the exploits were so incredible that many disbelieved them. He recalled his life recorded by several biographers, and these were published after his death in Soldier and Traveller

His personality is subsumed by his unbelievable exploits.
Pity: what motivated him to do what he did?
A swashbuckling wanderer apart.

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35. Stupid Electorate

Politicians say that the public and electorate are not stupid. They like to tell the stupid electorate this –
as there is a big argument to show that the stupid electorate is stupid. It is to politicians’ advantage that the electorate is stupid or at least misinformed.

The misinformation in politics is to obscure the truth and agenda of decision makers. Sometimes this is necessary. Government cannot be justifying itself with every decision it makes, particularly if decided on sensitive information. But most of the time it is to distract us from the motivations of what is being decided.

With a nation of shop keepers it is easy to sell the idea that we should concentrate more on the size of our bank balance rather than the quality, or more social aspects of how we live in the UK.

Debate is kept within opposing lines so that the nuances and subtleties of what could be informing decision making ideas cannot be heard. Brexit is a good example where voters decided not on Brexit but as a protest vote against immigration, loss of identity, and the global market.

Whether Brexit will be a loss or gain will be so complicated to measure that opinion will be divided not on the facts but on ideology and values. The Left want to stay in the EU to protect workers rights and maintain a liberal elite. The right wants a more unfettered economy to maximise profit, and keep the British Bulldog alive.

To be informed and motivated in this political takes enthusiasm. commitment and energy. It’s difficult.
But if you don’t…..??

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34. Yemen

Nobody wants to talk about Yemen. It’s not in the news. While hurricanes and Syria are centre front.
Yemen is at the back pushed against the wall.
Over two years of conflict has left 10000 dead, 50000 injured, leaving 18 million Yeminis in need of humanitarian assistance. Added to that is a huge Cholera epidemic spreading by the day.

Why do we not care? Why does the press not report on Yemen? The press has always discriminated on news. But it is ultimately trying to sell news to a public who are Western, White, Wealthy in relative terms, and Democratic(?) We are villagers with old lumbering village brains. The next village is too far and too foreign for us to care about. We care about our own village. If the next village has an impact on our village that is something else. Then we care…more.

But otherwise the relationships and dynamics in our own village take all our energy. To live and survive takes a lot of energy which we only have a finite amount of. We have family and friends to take care of. And if we don’t – we have complex enough lives needing constant maintenance. Our attention is elsewhere.

It is not that we don’t care – it’s that we have our own Western lives to deal with. At this time Western life has many distractions close to home to avoid and numb against the dislocation and disconnectedness of wealthy living.
Sex, drugs, alcohol, exercise, academia are a few of the distractions that help us through this world in the 21st Century.

Conversely an awareness of war and strife across the globe nags at us. The West is vulnerable to attack. This creates a living anxiety which permeates through our lives, relationships and decision making. Our brains are used to this: the constant threat of attack is monitored by our inbuilt fight and flight response. It seems we are bent on recreating a primitive world which our ancestors lived in.
Is modernity just a sheen of pretence that we have advanced?

 

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33. Race Abuse

This radio interview (1:33.50) between Yasmin Qureshi Labour MP and Marilyn Hawes Founder of Enough Abuse
is about the recent case of groups of Pakistani men abusing young White women.

The MP condemned abuse across the country, and of people travelling abroad to buy sex. Repeatedly asked about Pakistani men, the MP did not allow the focus to solely rest on the Pakistani aspect of abuse. Her viewpoint was to move it away from the racial aspect, and broaden it out to everyone and everywhere. There is a truth in this.

The Founder accused the MP as a politician of not focusing on Pakistani men, and not addressing the issue. She said it wasn’t about Muslims, but a deep Ethnic stated belief and a wrong belief: that women are there to be exploited. When asked what could be done about it, she talked about changing attitudes and teaching in mosques. The MP interjected that this was wrong. The Founder then talked about culture citing the issue of Female Genital Mutilation being practised by African cultures. Race Abuse? Or Race Abuse?

Again Context is everything. The MP is a Pakistani Born British woman, the Founder is a white British woman and the interviewer a white British man.

70 years ago this week at midnight on 14/15 August 1947, India was partitioned and millions of Indian people were displaced with the creation of the Pakistani state. The Mountbatten Plan laid down the boundaries of the countries: a white British man. Making a ridiculous link? People don’t forget. Why should they? Would the UK have forgotten its borders being redrawn by an Indian Man?

Following on – the Pakistani Born MP is already back footed and defensive. Two British white people symbolising power and repression are attacking her culture. One by asking difficult questions about the racial element of this abuse from her own culture. The other white woman saying her culture has to be re-educated like our own British culture.

The context is played out without the issues being addressed. The arguments comes across circular and inauthentic. The reason is the context is played out reducing the arguments to nothing.
The context is not talked about. The blunt brevity of the media allows for no such thinking.
So the argument in this present political system remain unaddressed.

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32. Trump Says

President Trump doesn’t want to directly condemn White Racists for the violence in Charlottesville. Trump says the violence was from both sides. Trump says he was waiting for the facts of the situation to be determined before commenting. Is he afraid of upsetting one of his voter bases?
There has been a long history of white Americans being intolerant of outsiders. This is an understatement. The history of the US is based on conflict between cultures & races. The American man owning his land and be prepared to fight for his family is a big part of the American psyche.

Paranoia, Conspiracy theory all add to the mix: the White American is under threat, and they have to arm themselves accordingly. We have our own version of this in the Brexit vote. Mainly white people feeling overwhelmed and disenfranchised by other races and cultures.

What Trump says seems to be said without understanding context. There is no connection between his comments and the wider understanding of race and its history. In this mind set the wider context is not seen. A lack of imagination? Concrete thinking versus abstract thinking? Pragmatism? Short term versus long term. Educated versus Less Educated? Practical versus intellectual?
Whatever this is – it is a fault line the world over. Is the difference between these two world views feeling under attack or not?

Is one world view more intrinsically valid than the other? How can both views live side by side in the same world?
Are we learning that these two world views struggle to have power over one another?
And now we are entering an era where the power of the disenfranchised is gaining power over the intellectual?

 

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31. Metamerism

Metamerism is the concept of colour changing under different tones of light. Ever bought something in the shop then bring it home and it doesn’t look the same colour? The light in the shop and at home is not the same. Look at the colour of a car and all the panels are different colours from each other, and from the middle to the edges.

Metamerism is the difference of the reflection curves of two colours which look the same under a given form of lighting (e.g. electric bulb light, daylight). Only colours which display the same remission curves will be perceived as the being the same colour under various light sources.

Industry tries to rid colour of its changeability to produce consistent products. The consumer wants their phone and computer to look the same as the picture and everyone else’s phone and computer.

For example you can darken the colour red by adding a black pigment, but by adding a complimentary colour like green it will make a deeper darker red.

Hella Jongerius sees herself at the vanguard of trying to challenge industry into seeing and using colour differently. Using her Colour Catchers as canvases which capture unique light. Shaped to bring in the light and to show its difference and parts she shows the watcher the depth of each colour.

We all know this in nature: the colour green has so many hues across the sight of the landscape. The artist is expert at showing light and shadow. The way industry and the artist work with colour is so different.
Industry has yet to catch up.

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30. Sports Feelings

Sports Feelings is apparently what we all want to hear. The first thing the commentator asks the athlete after a race is what are your feelings at this moment?

It is ironic and well proven that feelings and sport don’t mix. Particularly difficult feelings. Top sports people are renowned for having cool mental states to cope with the pressure and to keep their performance ultimate. Once the race is won the athlete can release all the held back feelings, they might have had during the race.

We choose sport as a stage for entertainment because it emulates us. Our slow biological brains still work in fight and flight mode. Sport is the build up of tension then a release, a copy of fright, flight and survival. We can take part in this familiar process as athlete or spectator. Athletes even use the fight and flight reaction to improve performance.

Generally (with notable exceptions) sports people don’t have personalities which dwell on difficult feelings – quite like the rest of us. Administrators, Scientists, Medics and Corporate types are well suited to sport. These occupations are best performed with less difficult feelings. Outcome over feeling. A perfectionist streak helps. Sport is also a scientific endeavour, and it is never able to be done perfectly.

We are told that sport (and exercise) is good for us. Of course it is. The release of endorphin is a happy good feelings drug! Another explanation is that endorphins numb and cut us off from our difficult feelings. Happiness is to be numbed out.

And so does the age we live in. One of the outcomes is we have to be happy. The aim is to numb out away from difficult feelings. Eat, consume, bet, internet to numb out. Sport is a brilliant foil for numbing out. It is a big thumbs up of approval for happiness. People seek help for numbing out when the numbed out no longer works. Worn down by the difficulty of life and trauma.

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29. Mansplaining

Another example of mansplaining in the news this week. Possibly on the back of the BBC releasing their top stars’ income. Depending on your point of view this is another example of structural sexism, or women hating men.
mansplaining

Its easy to take situations on face value. One female radio presenter miffed at the higher incomes of men doing the same job. A reaction to the more comic sports presenter who has a more macho sense of humour.

But again context is everything. Mens’ pay is consistently higher than womens’ pay whatever the sector or business. In boardrooms and offices across the country women have subordinate roles to men. Men have a more bullish attitude to confidence over competence. Men bulls**t better which interview panels are more convinced by.
mansplaining

A big part of the male population still believes that women are less than men. But have no idea that they think like this. These men are married to women and have daughters. They can see no sexism in their behaviour but structural sexism like racism is tricky to see or identify. No one necessarily intends it but there is an outcome.

Look at the history of how society had dealt with sexual abuse and grooming of young vulnerable women, or Stephen Lawrence. Sexism is hard to identify but its impact is clear. Another impact is men being paid more then women.
Another topical impact of structural discrimination is Grenfell. Easy to identify the macabre husk of a block of flats. Difficult to tease out the attitudes and beliefs that led to the building being dangerously clad.

Still don’t get it? Some have given up. Reni Eddo-Lodge has by writing a book called “Why I’m not Talking to White People about Race“. Things change so slowly. We only have primitive brains. We cannot change quickly.
But still sexism, discrimination and racism continue.
Mansplaining

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mansplaining

mansplaining

mansplaining



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28. City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts is a film about a group of people documenting what is going on in their Syrian city of Raqqa. This group calls themselves Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered. They have been forced to leave Raqqa, Syria, and then Turkey and now stay in Germany. They are under a constant threat of death.

They have a team of people still living in Raqqa trying to film what ISIS and the SDF are doing in their city. Murder, be headings, and torture are still going on in Raqqa. The battle for Raqqa continues, with fighting and bombing between the Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS.

There is nothing new in the film. It brings to light and brings home the personal impact on a group of men who are trying to fight back with the power of the pen and social media. Footage of ISIS advertising their ideology in market squares is interesting in showing how the group operate on the ground. The personal pain of a homeland and city is understated, with the feelings running low with agonising high points.

The uniqueness is in the 21st Century media age where we can see footage taken at great risk from inside the City of Raqqa from the comfort of our European homes. This could not be happening in any other age, so discreetly and secretly.

But it is a well worn tale of an oppressed people, a rebellion, a vacuum, and more oppression. This tale has repeated itself many many times of the centuries. The other big common denominator is that from the outside nothing can be done to improve the situation. Are we doomed to repeat?

It seems that we are. Our existence is about power and how we deal with and express it. We all want our own power which is healthy for our existence. But sometimes it is taken too far. Countries express an insecurity about who we are and where we belong. We seem unable to express this individually so it comes out in patriotism, and nationalism. Individually we find no help or support in trying to express our feelings of insecurity healthily. So it builds up into a collective feeling which explodes into fighting and war.
City of Ghosts

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27. Incompetent Male Leaders

Incompetent Male Leaders are recruited because it is difficult to differentiate between confidence and incompetence. The only advantage men have over women is that men are able to show charisma and charm which is mistaken for confidence and leadership potential. Men think that they are smarter than women and therefore are perceived to be so.

Freud wrote that a group of leaderless people tend to put all their fears and anxieties onto a person that they choose as leader. These people are generally not fit to lead. They are self-centred and over confident which makes them poor leaders. The point is that we have to be responsible and own our own feelings so that they don’t get transferred or projected onto the leader.

The better leaders are generally more humble and emotionally intelligent. Women are generally more emotionally intelligent than men. So ironically don’t get chosen as leaders.

Brexit can be seen in this way. A group of disenfranchised people unaware of their feelings of vulnerability, weakness, and upset made a decision through impotence and rage. The option that they chose was lead by politicians who were narcissistic and self serving. The group chose the option that ultimately would not serve them. Ironically many perhaps would still not believe this.

It is the same in organisations. Male managers who rise to the top of organisations enable its downfall. Men who bluff their way through the interview, are exactly the type of leaders that the organisation doesn’t need to remain successful. The paradoxical implication is that the same psychological characteristics that enable male managers to rise to the top of the corporate or political ladder are actually responsible for their downfall. In other words, what it takes to get the job is not just different from, but also the reverse of, what it takes to do the job well. As a result, too many incompetent people are promoted to management jobs, and promoted over more competent people.

This is so embedded in our culture that women who want to be leaders are expected to take on these characteristics of self centred male leaders. It seems that most leaders fail because they have been chosen for these characteristics. Has good leadership always been the exception or the norm?
Incompetent Male Leaders

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