"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them."

- Joseph Heller

"Masturbation is the thinking man's television."

- Christopher Hampton

"Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."

- GK Galbraith

"It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought."

- GK Galbraith

"No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there."

- F Scott Fitzgerald

Ferriss Wheel

If you've ever wondered what Londo Mollari meant by 'cute, in an annoying sort of way', here's the answer.


This is Timothy Ferriss. He's a self help guru. He's written books on how to get rich by doing nothing, how to become a ripped sex god by doing almost nothing, and...um, how to cook. Specifically, how to learn any skill with no effort, but in particular how to learn cookery.

Notice a common theme? If there's one kind of bullshit that always sells, it's the 'no effort required' schtick. Odd how the people who swallow the line that 'all success is from hard work and all hard work leads to success' are the same ones who want to exempt themselves from that rule.

Ferriss' "Four Hour Work Week" method of how to stop being an office drone and start being a millionaire playboy comes down to this:

1) Sensible time management
2) Pay poor people to do you job for you

The former is a matter of things like checking your email once a week instead of every few hours, and making lists of things to do.

The latter has some interesting implications. Like, exactly what kind of tasks can be outsourced, as he suggests, from North America to strangers in India? What kind of things can be done equally well by someone with no training or specialist knowledge who isn't even in the same continent, as by Tim Ferriss?

Answer: The kind of thing that's done by the CEO of a company that does nothing but invest in other companies.

The kind of CEO who spends all his time out of the office running marathons, climbing mountains, living the globetrotting good life, and giving sciencey sounding seminars on getting rich quick, 'superfoods', learning languages without effort, and how easy it is to become like him.

Oh, and also the kind of man who claims to be a world champion kickboxer, but has no record of ever participating in a kickboxing championship. Which does rather cast his claims to marathon running etc. into doubt.

Some con-men work by selling something which doesn't exist. L. Ron Hubbard, Deepak Chopra, psychics and mediums, owners of pyramid schemes, and anyone who wants you to overthrow the government for them.

Others sell you something valid but trivial disguised as something secret and new. Kevin Trudeau, Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna, and anyone who's ever written a diet book.

I reckon Tim Ferriss is of the second kind.

"It seems to be an obligatory opinion of people who believe in mockable and ridiculous things that they will oppose mockery and ridicule."

- Greg Laden

"People will listen when they're ready to listen and not before. Don’t waste time with people who want to argue."

- Daniel Quinn

Hang up

Sorry I've been away. I spent the last fortnight being depressed for no reason, then yesterday it lifted for no reason.

Though actually: Being depressed and having depression - not quite the same thing.

I've had periods of depression my entire life - a week here, three months there. There was one which lasted something approaching three years, stating when I was 21.

But that was the time I was on the 'antidepressant' paroxetine, which as we now know actually makes depression worse. It's still being prescribed, but as Aropax, Paxil, Seroxat or Sereupin. That's the logic of the market.

The difference between having depression and being unhappy is...if you're unhappy you can be angry about it, and maybe motivated to do something about it. If you've got depression there is something very much like sadness about it - and it can go as far as suicidal thoughts, but all motivation to do anything falls flat.

If someone goes through with killing themselves, they probably don't have depression - as I understand it the term.

Some people get paralysed with indecision, but that's quite an emotional state, full of care and worry. With depression it's just difficult to scrape together the will to care - about money, other people, sex, study, or the future.

That all makes it sound rather mystical and cerebral, but there's two common conditions which have the same effect. One is insulin resistence - type 2 diabetes. Which I also have, and have probably had for years. So who knows, maybe I've had a very early onset example for all these years.

The other comes down to the same thing - low blood sugar. The most common temporary form of which is called...a hangover.

So if you want to know what diabetes or depression are like, they're like the morning after, without the night before.

"We are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline."

- Peter F. Drucker

"In view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."

- Bertrand Russell

"The important question is whether a theory is true, not whether envisioning an alternative is too intellectually painful to bear."

- J.D. Trout

"There is too much Tuesday in my salad."

- Johnathan Miller

"It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure."

- Clay Shirky

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

- Margaret Thatcher

"Before you can kill the monster, you have to be prepared to say its name."

- Terry Pratchett

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head."

- Dwight D Eisenhower

"Whenever society screams about some demon or another, it’s probably just caught an especially alarming sight of itself in the mirror."

- Jesse Bering

"If you’re just looking for something to believe in, one belief works just as well as any other. And if you are looking for something to believe in, why not believe in something nice?"

- Deacon Duncan

"A little learning is a slightly less dangerous thing than pig-ignorance."

- Alwyn W Turner

"There's not a single idea in the history of humanity that hasn't at some time been espoused by a scoundrel."

- Alwyn W Turner

Scaramouche Fandango

Slavoj Zizek says there are two kinds of idiot. There's the idiot who doesn't understand that 'How are you?' is a greeting not a question, and the idiot who can't grasp that it's an arbitrary convention that it isn't a question.

The one lacks commonsense, the other has only commonsense. The first doesn't get people, the second doesn't get reality.

Well, I suggest that there are two kind of fools on youtube. The ones who treat disagreement as a personal attack, and the ones who expect them to grow the fuck up.

Which is which in this discussion about the film '30 Minutes or Less'?

zomgomgomgz: "It is customary to use the word less to describe time, money, and distance" Less is correct.

andymc24: Customary does not mean correct. When describing discrete units such as 'bananas' or 'minutes', FEWER should always be used, and widespread improper usage of the language, like how people say 'should of' rather than 'should have' may make something customary, but still not correct. Put simply, the title could either be "30 minutes or fewer" or "30 minutes or less time", but you can't have "less minutes".

kapstuf: "Customary does not mean correct."

Then how else can we define what's correct? Unless you think there's one person somewhere whose speech defines correct usage for the rest of us.

'Less' is used for mass and unit nouns, 'Fewer' only for unit. You might not *like* how people speak their own language, but that speech defines the language. You may as well say the economy's misbehaving because it's not doing what an economist said it would.

andymc24: if your niggle is with the word customar (which is not synonymous with 'correct') then let's change it. My objection is with the underlying point that just because something is widespread does not make it correct. For example, people regularly use the indicative mood instead of the subjunctive mood when describing hypothetical situations, but it is still wrong. "Even if it WAS me that took the cookie"... No, it should be WERE, but people don't care. Anyway. It's fewer.

kapstuf: Your point was already clear, and incoherent. Prescriptivist grammar relies on the alleged authority of a small group of speakers to assert that *their* grammatical dialect defines the one true version of the language.

Please post the source of your authority. Pointing to the work of previous prescriptivists and calling them 'authoritative' is obviously circular reasoning.

BTW, the term 'subjunctive' has four separate meanings, and your use in 2nd conditionals is a marker of social class.

andymc24: Ok you're clearly trolling. I know what prescriptivist means, what I'm saying is that if something is done incorrectly by many people for a period of time it may begin to be generally considered as fine, such as people saying 'If I was you' instead of 'If I were you' (see aforementioned subjunctive mood, maybe you need to look it up). But nonetheless it's lazy and wrong. If everybody started raping each other and rape became legal, would it be any less of an imposition on human rights?

kapstuf: "But nonetheless it's lazy and wrong"

What makes it wrong? That's the central question you can't answer.

"If everybody started raping each other and rape became legal, would it be any less of an imposition on human rights?"

And you accuse *me* of trolling? For the record, you're comparing a usage definition of grammatical correctness with ethical solipsism.

Do I actually have to explain to you the fact/value distinction? Or the difference between nonfoundationalism and irrationalism?

andymc24: and where did i point to the work of previous prescriptivists? and what social class would that be? AND why would that matter? You're clearly one of those idiots who is faaaar too passive aggressive with other youtube users because you're not speaking to them in person, it' weak. We're done here, expect no replies. And it's fewer.

kapstuf: When you're capable of presenting evidence for your received opinion, instead of shouting rude names at those of us who dare to know better than you, you'll be ready to join the grownups.

I won't lie. It feels good to explain to an imbicile just why they're an imbicile. Unfortunately, they're an imbicile, so they can't understand it. But Zizek does suggest a word for someone who lacks the pigheadedness that defines the willfully ignorant: Bicile.

So I suggest the word for the process of joining the minority for who the brain is not a withered vestigal appendage: Bicilation.

"I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific."

- Lily Tomlin

"There is a point when a personal opinion shades off into an error of fact."

- Gene Siskel

"Beliefs: Those things we hold to be true despite evidence to the contrary."

- Joseph O'Connor

"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world."

- Richard Dawkins


The thing about having a good time is...you can't blog about it.

Well, you can, but there's not much to say and it's not very interesting. Yesterday I spent most of the day lying in bed, stroking a snoozing dog, drinking endless cups of tea, vegging out to a Star Trek Animated Series marathon.

The day before it was eating too much pizza with an old friend, dissecting bolshevik politics of 1917. Before that it was a different old friend, chinese food and hegelian epistemology.

I'm waiting for the bureaucracy to clear to start a new job, and in the meantime...downloading porn, experimenting to find the exact number of seconds a microwave needs to make the perfect poached egg, correcting the theology of evangelical morons on youtube....

There are things that need to be done - learn some Python, hoover the bedroom, practice the guitar and...erm...having recorded 3 seasons of The Mentalist, actually get around to watching it.

Maybe tomorrow. I'm on holiday.

"You may not be able to detect the truth every time, but you sure can identify a lie."

- Christopher Hitchens

"Euphemism I would define as the finding of a nice word for a nasty thing."

- Christopher Hitchens

"We are born into a losing struggle."

- Christopher Hitchens

"Life has to be lived forward and reviewed backwards."

- Soren Kierkegaard

"To hope that we can institutionalize brotherhood, love, and altruism is already to have a reliable blueprint for despotism."

- Leszek Kolakowski

"I don't like my art sleasy, and I don't like my slease arty."

- Mark Kermode

"Nothing in the world is easier than writing utopias."

- Leszek Kolakowski