In no particular order:
3) The works of JRR Tolkien
In no particular order:
3) The works of JRR Tolkien
I’ve blogged recently about politics and my confused and ever changing thoughts thereof. The TL;DR version was that I didn’t really know what I thought. Yesterday, I stumbled across a website I was once familiar with called Politcal Compass.
This is a very cool website which shows you where polticians, parties and you lie in the politcal spectrum. The nice thing, however, about their system is that they split it into four areas rather than the normal two.
We are used to hearing the terms left and right wing. However, it can be hard to place people on this scale. For example, socially I am pretty far left wing and economically I am pretty far right wing.
Political Compass, however, makes nice graphs like this one which showed the politcal positions of the parties at the time of the UK general election in 2010:
You immediately notice a few things. First, most UK parties are on the authoriatarian side of the scale. You also notice that the Tories and Labour are pretty close to eachother. If you think Labour are the radical left, you’re wrong. The only real left option are the Greens.
The cool thing about Politcal Compass is that they let you take a test to place yourself on the scale. It takes 5-10 minutes and is well worth taking. Here is where I place on the scale:
It’s intersting to see. I am basically as far right as the Tory party/UKIP. However, they are both far more authoritarian that I am. The only other party which shares my quadrant is the Lib Dems. So I guess they’re my party.
While we’re here, take a look at the current chart for political parties in the EU:
Amazing how right wing everything is, isn’t it?
Back in 2010, I posted a list of podcasts which I listened to. It’s changed a bit since then. I only still listen to two of them, having stopped with six. So here’s an update of the list as it stands now. Twelve podcasts, totalling around 18.75 hours of audio each week:
2) MacBreak Weekly. The other one from the 2010 list, I’ve been listening to it a long time, and it’s also now the only show on the Twit network which I listen to. Always entertaining with Andy Ihnatko on the panel.
3) You Look Nice Today. This is the podcast featuring Merlin, Scott and Adam talking about anything. It is really very funny, and almost certainly my favourite podcast. Really worth a listen. It’s also the only monthly one, whereas the rest are weekly.
4) No Agenda. I’ve blogged about this one before. It’s essentially a news podcast (or as Adam and John describe it, ‘media assassination’). It’s a little out there, but fits perfectly into my world view. It takes a while to grok it, with all manner of jingles and catchphrases (Hillary Clinton is usually called ‘Lucifer’, for example…), but you’ll be hooked once you do grok it.
5) Back to Work. A 5By5 show with Merlin and Dan based around Merlin’s 43 Folders blog about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work. Put simply, Back to Work changed my life, and you should listen if you do any kind of work.
7) The Ihnatko Almanac. Featuring Andy again and another 5By5 show, it’s just Andy talking about whatever takes his fancy, so it’s great.
9) The Incomparable. Yet another 5By5 show! This is hosted by Jason Snell of Macworld fame and features different guests each week talking about comics, films, TV shows and sci-fi and fantasy books. Really great show.
10) Quit! 5by5 again. In this show, Dan takes calls from listeners and talks to them about their jobs and their work and why it is or isn’t good and why maybe they should quit. It’s only half a dozen shows in, but it’s been amazing so far.
11) The Crossover. This 5By5(!) show features a range of discussion on many topics when hosts from any show on the network are brought together to talk about whatever they like. Also pretty new, but there have been some pretty great discussions. And, more Merlin, so what could be bad?
12) Prime Minister’s Questions audio. Last, and pretty much least, is a audio feed of PMQs, kindly packaged and the bandwidth paid for by the Guardian. Can be pretty good sometimes.
I’m not trying to blow rainbows up your skirt or anything, but in order to become more creative, and I think people who listen to this show probably join us in that ongoing quest to be able to do more interesting things, I’ve got some parameters for what I want to do next but to get into the state of mind where I can do anything more than a mind map on iterating on what I’m already doing, I have to get out of the day to day thinking of sitting here at my desk and wondering what’s going on. That may mean going somewhere.
I really like going somewhere I’ve never been before with just a notebook. I think when people talk about, ‘how do I shake things up and get out of this mode of thinking which has me not being as creative as I like?’, I frequently say that changing where you are, changing your location – like, go sit in a Starbucks, go sit in the woods, go sit on a rock. Go some place with the minimum number of tools and maybe leave your phone at home or shut it all the way down. And not like the fake way on a plane, the real way. Like really. Imagine yourself like a New Yorker cartoon of a desert island. You’re gonna go somewhere with your sad little human body and one thing to write with a one thing to write on. Because that constraint can be very powerful.
You’re taking yourself out of that modality where you have unlimited options to do an unlimited number of things and you do none of them to a place where you’re just gonna go and work on a thing. Maybe you’re gonna write. Maybe you’re gonna draw. You know what, have fun. For an hour and a half, go and do a thing which you can and want to do with some paper and a pencil. I think that is a really useful thing to do and I think most people are scared to do it, because it’s really daunting. Like, ‘whoa, what if it’s hard?’ ‘What if that gets boring?’ ‘What if I don’t have anything to say?’ ‘What if I don’t have any ideas?’ Well, you need to go face that. This is a little bit like meditation. This is a little bit like a lot of things.
If you don’t give yourself that opportunity to unhook from the stuff of your life, you’re never gonna find out what you’re capable of. And if you don’t limit the number of options about how you can execute it until you’re really good at it, you could do a lot worse than going out and sitting on a rock with a pencil. That’s when you’ll find out who you are.
I like this idea and I particularily agree with Merlin that activies like this are when you “find out who your are”. You don’t find what you love by looking at inspirational photos on tumblr or watching YouTube videos. You find that out by doing stuff, even if it seems pointless in the moment. As Merlin once said:
People either make things or they don’t. Inspiration is a poster.
So, don’t wait to get inspired: make things.
Here’s what you need to know: recently I was given an exceptional opportunity. You don’t need to know what it was, because that isn’t what this is about. Despite my better judgement, I turned it down.
I write software. It’s what I do. I can do it and I am, more or less, good at it.
The thing is, I’ve not done it for around six months. I can look back at my git repos now and see that my last commit on any project was April 10th.
Which means I’ve done nothing for six months. That’s because I’ve not cared about the work I was doing. I stopped caring, and I don’t know why.
This opportunity was for something I could and would care deeply about. It’s the first thing I’ve cared about in half a year, and I still said no. That worries me. I’m deeply unhappy now, but I ignore the chances for happiness.
I have a very strong suspicion that I may have made the biggest mistake of my life.
Thing is, I’ve not yet learned how not to be, as Merlin would say, scared shitless.
I had a choice. I could do the scary thing. I could do the thing which would make me uncomfortable. I could do the thing I wanted to do. Or, I could take the easy option and do nothing, and stick the current trajectory.
I know the current trajectory is a poor one and I know the decision was a poor one. But, the thing is, I’m not going to try to reverse that decision which I know to be poor. Because it’s easier to stick to the trajectory.
It’s not good, but it’s easier.
On the current trajectory, when I eventually have to get a real job, it’s going to be working for some company nine-five writing software. Which I don’t want to do. But, it’s still kind of the official plan.
The real plan is to not do that, because I’m not sure that I will be able to do. My genuine vision of where I’ll be in five years is that I’ll be working in a job unrelated completely to computing. Tesco or something. That also isn’t what I want to do.
But it’s still what I will do. Because it is, for now, the trajectory.
I said no for one reason: because I didn’t want to let them down. I don’t know if I would have let them down or not. But, I didn’t want to find out. I couldn’t bear the risk.
In those few hours in which I had to make a decision, I felt physically sick. The idea of letting these guys down was too much. There are a million better developers than me out there, and the idea of them picking me made no sense to me. I would have felt bad for them if I’d agreed, so I couldn’t do it.
Of course, I’ll never know
That will haunt me, won’t it? The not knowing. I’ll never know if I would have let them down. I’ll never know what could have happened.
I know that I am perfectly capable of doing what I would need to do. I’ve taught myself every programming language under the sun in the last eight years, and I can do it.
But, I still manage to convince myself that I’ll let people down. And, that worries me. I can make websites and write software for myself, because there’s nobody to let down but me. At some time in my life, if I want to do anything meaningful, I’ll have to stop thinking like this.
I’m not sure if I will be able to.
Let me sum this up.
I made a decision for poor reasons. I’m not going to change the decision.
Every dream and ambition I’ve ever had, I’ve given up on completely, because I can’t do them. I don’t feel like I can do them, at least. And I’m scared that my best work is behind me. That’s sad. But, it’s easy. I can be unremarkable.
Oscar Wilde said, “to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
I’m deciding to exist.
A LEGO Gandalf yelling “you shall not pass”? This could be a good game.
It’s World Vegan Day today. I’ve noticed that I’ve not blogged for a very long time about any vegan stuff. So, this is that.
I am, by the way, still vegan.
It’s not that I’ve not been as passionate or interested in veganism as in the past, just that I’ve not written a blog post about it in a while. World Vegan Day seemed like a good chance to reiterate my veganism, which I’ve now been for exactly 2 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 5 days.
This post, which I wrote on the first anniversary of becoming vegan, is possibly interesting to read now.
This is all I really have to say about this. I’ll just leave with a few recipes which I have enjoyed recently, most of which are from The PPK:
That’s enough for now.
So, in a month or so Americans will vote for their next president. They’re faced with the incumbent Obama and Romney, America being pretty much a two party system. There are, however, options.
This is Gary Johnson, nominee for the Libertarian Party, explaining his policy very simply:
Let’s not bomb Iran. Let’s get out of Afganistan tomorrow, bring the troops home. Marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right. End the war on drugs. Repeal the patriot act. I never would have signed the NDAA. Balance the federal budget now. Eliminate income tax. Eliminate corporation tax. Abolish the IRS and replace all of that with one federal consumption tax, which I think will create tens of millions of jobs given a zero rate corporation tax environment.
It’s no wonder they don’t let this guy in the debates. You’d have to be out of your mind not to vote for him.