I have been trialling something entirely new this week. No, I haven’t given up being an idiot, that’s still there. Being smelly? No, no that’s not it either. I am instead testing the absence of something altogether (Ed – Body Odour? Am I not helping?) My day usually involves waking up, lying idle for a few mins trying to get my brain to focus on the day ahead, and then leaning over to the phone to check the news – and bang, an hour goes by and I haven’t moved. So for the last 6 days, now a week, I’ve resolved not to check the news. Hardly revolutionary, but it’s a small step.
Read All About It!
No Guardian, no BBC, no Washington Post, no NY Times, no Al-Jazeera, no The Age . . . although the latter should be flattered to be mentioned in the same company, it’s my fault for occasionally blustering onto it for local Aussie news really. I used to check these websites several times a day generally – when making tea, walking to work, waking up, going to bed, cleaning teeth – really whenever there is some titillating fancy that garners a moments interest. Trump is 95% of it seemingly, with headlines screaming “Impeachment!!!” always worth a look despite the inevitable disappointment. Sport reports and latest football rumours get an airing, and some obvious click-bait misleading headlines such as “Why I don’t believe in marriage equality” and “The Day I cut my own head off was the best day of the year” i.e. bile so quintessentially dull that I can’t bring myself to digest more than the opening paragraph.
But one week has passed and no news has happened in my household. I have instead spent my hour every morning on topping up my Spanish vocabulary (check out Duo Lingo if you’re keen, it’s excellent) and then reading a book I’m trudging through i.e. time well spent learning things of value, which is essentially the argument – what is the value of news? I mean, there is so much of it, there is news everywhere about everything in the world. There is news being reported all the time, in a thousand languages across the globe and constantly being spruiked to the masses vying for your attention through news desks, newspapers, billboards, advertisements, magazines, radio, podcasts, websites, apps, games, film and music. It's not so much breaking news, it's already broken.
The News of The World
Not just a catchy Queen song. My friends, if I had any, would tell me it’s important to keep up with current affairs, to keep abreast of impact worthy announcements that will affect your everyday life . . .and yet, most of it doesn’t, and people thrust their news on me any chance they get, so why bother checking? It’s like emails – if someone is going to phone you about an email anyway, and in this day and age doesn’t seriously expect you to read the many, many emails you actually get, what’s the point of reading the email? Most of the news, about 99% of it, has no effect on you whatsoever, other than having a talking point to discuss whilst having a cup of tea at the office. Perhaps if it’s really startling you may drop your biscuit in the tea, which is of course quite the news and worth discussing, but other than that your day carries on as normal. If the world is going to end, I imagine there’s not much I can do about it anyway.
This is a trial of course (the non-reading news bit, not the world ending bit), but I have long held the belief that news doesn’t really give you anything, and you’re better off looking for things that you’re genuinely curious about such as how to remove surface rust from vehicles - lemon and a hard scrub, apparently – or how to make the perfect cup of tea, something of unquantifiable value, or even learning the best way to edit out friends you no longer talk to in an otherwise impeccable photo. I don’t know why you’d want to do that of course, perhaps they talked of the news too much.
There is generally very little I get angry about. The dear Seneca would probably cite that anger comes from a challenge of your own perception, and that it’s entirely my fault I am angry in the first instance. Which doesn’t really help. It’s the philosophical equivalent of telling your partner whilst in an absolute fit of pure rage, to perhaps calm down. And mop that unsightly froth from their mouths.
What’s currently attracting my ire, nay disgust, is the Australian Government, in particular the ineffective, manakin-esque Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Useless bastard.
Vote for Equality
The government, in all their industry, has decided to ridicule itself even further by proposing marriage equality is put to a plebiscite by postal vote next month. A colossal waste of tax paying dollars (purported $120 million) which, since it’s a plebiscite not a referendum, Parliament can then ignore if they want to do. What a bunch of fuckwits.
Perhaps this is my fault, due to my perception (thanks, Seneca!). My viewpoint would be that I vote to elect a government to make decisions on my behalf on how the country should be run. We have mandatory voting in Australia (something I do genuinely love – people fought for this democracy, so you’re going to bloody well vote!) in general and local elections, and although my chosen party didn’t get in, I expect that the government will take it upon themselves to make the hard decisions that we elected them for.
What I don’t expect them to do is chicken-out on making a decision, which isn’t even one of any particular largess, and waste $120 million that could be spent almost anywhere else.
Living in Australia
.There are only a few things Australia needs to really work on, as they predominantly are a very lucky country. The climate is warm and varied, meaning we can grow food in abundance and variety with outstanding quality. The Australian Police are famed for their easy-going attitude, the healthcare is generally some of the best in the Western world. The education is good, there is little violence, there are lots of jobs available and the minimum wage is a whopping $19 or so. Melbourne and Sydney are consistently rated as some of the best cities if not THE best cities to live (voted by a panel of experts residing in Melbourne and Sydney, so it's got be impartial!). The air is clean and generally very little pollution or rubbish about anywhere. What I mean is, it’s a very good place to live.
Australian Government Man-Date
The only thing the government really need to do is sort out marriage equality (which they’re screwing up) and the approach on climate change which should be embracing more solar, wind and tidal power instead of fossil fuels. They also have a small race issue, but nothing that can’t be worked out. Otherwise, apart from these three things which may take perhaps a solid 3 weeks of work, go on holiday for the rest of the year - mission accomplished, take a nap ladies and gents! All I ask though is that you do the job you’re paid for and make some decisions that ensures this country is better by passing marriage equality for all. Just like the rest of the world already has. An argument I have heard before is that I shouldn't impose my will on others, which is exactly what opposing this bill would do. Marriage equality doesn't effect myself or my girlfriend, yet makes millions of Australians and visiting tourists happy. It's an easy choice.
The ever-downcast and put-upon Tony Hancock, in trying to benefit the country as a whole, was either going join the Young Conservatives or Give Blood. His legendary riposte to being asked to donate more than just a smear to test, “A pint? . . . why that’s very nearly an armful!”
Giving blood has never been easier, and is vital at replenishing the stocks of our hospitals to ensure that when we need transfusions, there is plenty left to ensure we stay alive. No blood, no life, no us. Fairly simple.
On Saturday I was very pleased and proud to escort my girlfriend (willingly, I might add – and by willingly I mean her, not me) to the Red Cross in Melbourne to hand over the better part of her handbag carrying limb. Naturally as ever I get questioned as to whether I’m also giving blood which, unfortunately, I cannot. At least, not in Australia. This probably tells of Australia’s ultra-conservative views in all things medical, but since I lived in the UK during the late 80’s and early 90’s I may have contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, otherwise known as CJD, or more famously known as Mad Cow Disease. Therefore, my blood, plasma and platelets are spurned in the land down under. I did request from the nurse was there any way to detect if I had CJD, and she said yes, through autopsy. Next time, I might feign ignorance as to what an autopsy is and insist I get one immediately. Surely it's in the Constitution!?
As the good nurse said, much to the chagrin of her mother, she has plenty of mad cows in her family but none that have lived in the UK. There is a great tv advert in Australia about the best biscuit in the world being the one provided after you give blood. Am not sure what it says about not giving blood directly but dragging your spouse along instead, I imagine much less worthy. The advert may run more along the lines of ‘help yourself to a sheepish biscuit you mad bastard’.
It takes about 8 weeks for your body to completely replenish itself, not much really given it’s saving a life. What did you do this weekend?
Hitler was a Great Leader
It's a bit of a gamble that opening heading. I have been listening a lot to inspirational speeches and motivational talks recently, I think they always help to give you a bit of a kick when you’re feeling flat or tired. Now I’m not suggesting that I sit in a dark room and listening to the musings of Der Furher, yet on a recent trip with my Uncle we got to talking about The Great Satan and instantly agreed on one thing: he was a tremendous leader. Now you could say he was a bastard and a murdering psychopath, but he was also a man with a vision, a man that could inspire and motivate the people to his will.
The Reason for War
People can easily place blame at Hitler’s door for the Second World War, but it’s not necessarily the case. The root comes from the First World War, a non-sensical stupid war fought over very little in which millions of people died horribly. Germany was simply agitating for a fight. But the outcomes of that were that the Germans suffered economically which drove a hatred of the established elite, of those with money that were seemingly surviving the great depression. But it wasn’t only Germany that suffered, stock markets around the world had tumbled, America was foundering on the brink through their depression in the 20’s and 30’s, with Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath probably one of my favourite books on the subject.
But what has Hitler got to do with motivation? Because it’s the agitation. The niggling bit inside of you that says you deserve and demand more. It can be aimed at simply making money, needing the power to change yourself or others, proving your doubters (including yourself) wrong, but there is that niggle, that drive, that something in side of you that burns. There is something inside you that says you need to achieve something. But everyone has different goals, and it’s useless saying that “everyone wants to own their own yacht”. Sure, I’ll take one if it’s offered but I get sea-sick like a mother fudger, so anything that bobs up and down on the water would be useless to me. What do you want to achieve?
Passion vs Curiosity
I have been listening to various podcasts recently, The Tim Ferris Show is probably my favourite given he has interfaced with lots of interesting people and puts himself on the line in search of progress. Tim isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find him amusing and engaging. The constant advice people tend to have, especially if you have well-meaning and incredibly lovely parents like I do, is follow your passions. But how do you know what your passions are? Not everyone, in fact very, very few people or young adults know exactly what they want to do. This is why JK Rowling was a researcher and secretary. This is why Einstein was a Patent Clerk. Richard Branson was a Bird Breeder. They may not have known their passions, but they were all curious about something. What are you curious about? You may not know, but dig into it. What do you find interesting enough that you want to know more about? Prepare yourself for this journey to take time, it might even take a year or two of research, but you’ll find something that will set you on fire (Ed - let’s hope it’s not petrol, eh?). If you want to write or become a race car driver, you don’t have to quit your job and go in full-time. Dip your toes. Try it. No one decides to set-up cake stand without at least learning how to make a cake first.
You need to know that whatever path you choose, you are going to get rejected. The first thing any budding entrepreneur will say is “yeah, but those guys weren’t me”. That’s true: they were and are much, much smarter than you. There will always be smarter, prettier, taller, faster, stronger people than you. Don’t scoff, just accept it. Prepare yourself to get rejected. A lot. But you need to have the drive inside of you to push on. How much drive is needed? Apparently, Gone With the Wind was rejected by 38 publishers; Walt Disney was turned down 302 times before finally getting financing for his dream; KFC founder Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe. 1009 times. Two questions on that: first, who the hell keeps count of a 1009?; secondly….1009?!
Getting the Best Advice
We live in an incredible age. The internet, which is basically one large social media hub, has brought the world closer together than ever before. A network of minds, of inter-activity, of accomplishments, of failures, of sharing (and oversharing) and communicating. Oh and it’s stacked with boobs and porn, too. Essentially we live in the Communication Age. Never before has the lives of people we deem successful been documented and analysed, and more importantly, been available. Through various platforms, you can access advice from the Penniless to Billionaires, people that are at the very bottom and the very top of the game. How incredible is that?! Advice from those that lost everything could be very insightful, but not probably as useful than those at the zenith. No one shouts from the top of the ladder, “how do I get down from here?” You can get their advice on the property market, stock market, sports, DIY, history, art, music, anything you can think of. You have the ability to surround yourself with the greatest living minds anywhere on the planet, and mostly for free. Sure, if you want to go more in depth, buy one of their books or audiotapes or in some cases, attend one of their seminars, go for it. That takes investment and time, and I’ll talk about that in another blog post.
So what does it really take?
Every one of the great thought-leaders, writers, innovators, technologists, visionaries, CEOs and financial wizards all have a few things in common. Strong habits. Dedication. Commitment. Some of these guys and girls may have just walked into jobs that their parents bought them, but they will be few and far between. Most have worked their asses off. And then worked again. It is simply grinding. There are two lovely sayings I hear on podcasts and motivational pieces, so I won’t try and pas them off as my own. The first says “when you’re lying flat on your back, if you can look up, then you can get up”. The second is from Richard Branson when he had a recent biking accident that almost killed him, saying that “even when I’ve fallen flat on my face, at least I was moving forward”. The former is interesting, purely in relation to Elon Musk as I was researching this article. I don’t know Elon (pah! I wish I knew Elon!) but he does come across as a socially awkward person lacking in charisma. It comes as no surprise that he was bullied as a child, but so much so that the bullies threw him down a flight of stairs and beat him until he lost consciousness. But what Elon does have is a vision, a why. And his why is progress. Elon makes bold statements which he delivers on, and people follow those that inspire.
Writing and writing...