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Sunday, 14 January 2018

UNLOAD Week 2: Jan 8-14 2018



- Chris Hedges

Featuring an interview with Ralph Nader.  
Some highlights:

“There is no democracy … the only democracy left in this country is they don’t haul you to jail for speaking out. What’s left of democracy is a significant due process, habeas corpus, freedom of speech and probable cause, and that’s violated when there’s a terrorist attack and people are rounded up, like Muslim Americans.”

“Can there be a democracy when you don’t have a competitive electoral system?” he asked. “No. Can there be a democracy when people who come in second win the election? No. Can there be a democracy when it’s tougher to get on the ballot than in any other Western country in the world by an order of magnitude? No. Can there be a democracy when money rules? And not just the money that politicians raise, but the third-party money. No.”

Nader said the ruling elites have “lost the fear of the people.” This has given rise to “a multifaceted dictatorial government indentured to the plutocratic class symbolized by Wall Street.”

Corporations, enjoying a new tax code that reduces corporate income taxes to 21 percent while individuals pay up to 37 percent, have been awarded the constitutional rights of individuals while individuals have been stripped of their rights.

“The Constitution is increasingly a dead letter,” Nader said.

“Trump took the press from profanity to obscenity,” Nader said. “He learned some lessons from ‘The Apprentice.’ He realized the media, with a few exceptions, will do anything for ratings and money. What does he do? He goes down the sensuality ladder. He starts talking openly about racism, rapists and sex, grab them wherever you want and get away with it. They [the media] go wild. That destroyed all the opponents in the Republican primary. Knocked them out day after day, as the press went after sensuality. The coarseness, the brutishness. There’s always a novel attack. He kept them catching up with him. One day he goes after [Sen. Marco] Rubio. Another day, he goes after Hillary. Another day, a veteran family.”

“When The New York Times has two pages of tiny print of Trump’s lies, what impact does it have unless there are remedies and mobilizations that use that material to strengthen the opposition to replace him?” Nader asked. “After a while, people just shrug their shoulders and go back to playing video games. The margin for the defeat of the Democrats by the Republicans can be attributed sufficiently to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and all these creeps. They have a massive soliloquy, day after day after day with no rebuttal. And they’ve got the blue-collar worker that way. What kind of a population on the left of center would have allowed that to happen? Using our public airwaves for free.”

“Justice needs money,” he concluded, calling on enlightened elites to spend a billion dollars to fund resistance movements outside the Democratic Party. “The abolition movement needed money. The suffrage movement needed money. They got it from wealthy people. Civil rights movement. The Curry family. The Stern family. The early 1950s, 1960s. Environmental movements got money from rich people. Don’t wait for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is an instrument. On the first round you’ve got to use it and control it. On the third round, when you’re mobilized, you can throw it aside. It’s a hollowed feature that is a part of the duopoly. But it’s there. These parties are very vulnerable. They’re shells that rest on money and television ads that nobody likes. Unrebuttable right-wing talk radio. All these can be circumvented neighborhood by neighborhood, but you’ve got to have money. Labor halls are unoccupied. Veteran halls are unoccupied. Libraries are unoccupied. There are a lot of meeting places around. A lot of empty stores can be rented.”


Whatever our thoughts on Ralph Nader, it is difficult to argue with anything above …


“The goal of good coaching is to substitute visible complexity with invisible simplicity.”
Jean Baptiste Perrin was a French physicist, most famous for confirming what Einstein had already wrote.  

I paraphrased (stole) the above from him.





Awareness-Consciousness Review

“Self-awareness refers to the capacity to become the object of one’s own attention. It occurs when an organism focuses not on the external environment, but on the internal milieu; it becomes a reflective observer, processing self-information. The organism becomes aware that it is awake and actually experiencing specific mental events, emitting behaviors, and possessing unique characteristics.” - Morin

At lower levels of arousal, there is usually very little self-awareness for the elite sprinter - there is nothing to direct the attention to the self.  As levels of arousal increase, however, the greater the possibility that the same athlete will become more aware of what they are experiencing - and the greater the possibility that this heightened sense of arousal will compromise performance.

Each individual athlete will have a specific bandwidth of arousal level (and thus awareness of self) where they will operate the most effectively.  The athletes who have the higher threshold for this heightened level of arousal-awareness, are the ones that tend to perform the best at these states.  



The theoretical background of the delineation between consciousness and awareness was first proposed by Mead in 1934, and further elucidated by Duval and Wicklund in 1972; studies concluding that consciousness is focusing attention outward - towards the environment; while awareness is focusing inward - towards the self.  

(the alignment here with the theoretical superiority of external cues over internal cues is hard to miss, and may be worth investigating further).


“Phenomenal consciousness”  refers to the experience of certain events - an awareness of external stimuli - not of the self.  
As an aside - it is important to remember, however, that an active interaction with, and in, the environment requires an awareness of self to begin with.  

Brown (1976) coined the term ‘sensorimotor awareness’ - a lower level of consciousness that initially requires little self-awareness; however, as levels of arousal-anxiety-complexity inflate, increasing levels of awareness are required (is ‘required’ the correct word here?)

Practically, this information has important considerations for the coach-athlete.  At lower levels of arousal, the athlete will simply respond to the environment, with minimal self-awareness.  As arousal-anxiety increases - increasing levels of attention are required - to the point where the athlete may become aware of their thoughts, processes, experiences, etc. to the point at which it compromises performance.  


Simply - awareness can be directly observed. 
Consciousness cannot.  
Consciousness identifies with thoughts, beliefs and emotions; while awareness does not identify with anything: it simply is.  

Coaching exists here.


Do we really require an athlete to be ‘conscious’ of that which they are doing, or is it ‘awareness’ that we seek?  In an attempt to find congruency with their conscious selves, we communicate our technical objectives, and assist in designing technical solutions to these objectives in the manner that we are most familiar with - verbal technical instruction-correction.  We then get frustrated when the athlete cannot ‘feel’ what we are trying to convey.  But they DO feel something - perhaps just not at the level of ‘consciousness’ that we are most familiar communicating to them. There is almost certainly a deep level of ‘thinking’ going on - but perhaps it is more deeply ingrained - lower-level awareness that is more meaningful to the athlete.  

Our challenge then is to better engage with these levels.


I wrote previously on consciousness and awareness as they relate to skill refinement and acquisition.  I opined that the athlete must have a conscious-cognitive awareness of a technical model if we are expecting to make changes, or tweaks, to that model.  

Further, I wrote about paying attention to the context of any technical change - that we need to understand not only the objective goal of the technical change we are trying to make, but also the athlete’s subjective understanding of the model and the specific change, and how it fits into their individual history and experience; that there is no interpretative understanding of a skill without the influence of the context in which it is applied - including the environment, the coach, and the social group within which it exists. 

I have discussed the context-dependence of performance and competition in terms of states of arousal - that individual athletes will have specific bandwidths of arousal where they will perform the best - and that the more elite the athlete, generally the higher this level is. 

This all exists within a complex - often chaotic - systemic interaction of the sport, the environment, the athlete, and the athlete-coach relationship, which makes predicting adaptation - and thus writing a truly optimized program - extremely challenging.  





RELATED (AND TIMELY) BACKGROUND:

Waking Up podcast
Sam Harris with Anil Seth

There are a few podcast episodes that I save, and re-listen to over and over again.  
This will be one of them.  
It’s awesome, and I encourage everyone to listen to it.  

I generally find the discussion around the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness (the problem of explaining the relationship between physical phenomena, such as brain processes, and experience  - i.e., phenomenal consciousness, or mental states/events - with phenomenal qualities or qualia - Chalmers 1995) quite boring, but the rest of this episode is very good, and has many take-homes for coaches.  

Consciousness

Presence of any type of subjective experience whatsoever. Phenomenal world of subjective experience

Definition evolve along with scientific understanding of a phenomenon

Don’t confuse consciousness with self consciousness 

Nagel - consciousness - the fact that something is like something  ('what it’s like to be a bat')

Discussion of the hard problem 

We share so much if the relavant Meir Anatoly and neuro physiology and share  so many similare behaviors

Assume that all creatur s are conscious unless we have evidence that they are not 

Perception works from top-down or inside-out rather than bottom-up or outside-in
(KANT)

Processive inference of best guessing
Combines prior expectation about how the world is with sensory data to come up with best case as to the cause of the data 

Bayesian brain

Consciousness - controlled hallucination 


I'm going to listen to this podcast again this week, and include more notes next weekend.  As background, I watched Seth's TEDTalk.

Here are my notes on that:

Anil Seth TEDTalk
University of Sussex

Asking the great mystery: How does consciousness happen?

Consciousness for each of us is all there is - without it, there is nothing. 

Animals - do they have consciousness?
How about computers?  Probably remote chance of this
  • You don’t have to be smart to suffer - but you DO have to be alive

Think about CONSCIOUSNESS like we think about LIFE.  

- It's not magic

Properties:
  1. Experiences of the world around us - sights, sounds, smells
  • Brain as a prediction engine
  • Perception is informed guess-work, in which the brain combines sensory signals with its prior expectations of the way the world is, to form its best guess of what caused those signals; we do not passively perceive the world - we actively generate it.  Expectations mean that how we perceive the world depends more on inside-out processes than it doesn’t from outside-in.   If hallucination is uncontrolled perception, then perception is a kind of controlled hallucination, in which the bran’s predictions are being reigned in by sensory information from the world.  When we agree about our hallucinations, we call that reality.  
  1. Conscious self - the specific experience of being: The experience of bing yourself is also a controlled hallucination. Types of consuls self:
    • Bodily self
      • interoception: perception of the internal state of the body.  Experiences of the body from the inside is very different from perceiving what is around us. We don’t perceive our insides as objects - unless something goes wrong.  Its about control and regulation.  
    • Perpsectival self
    • Volitional self
    • Social self

The basic background experience of being a unified self is a fragile construction of the brain - and requires explanation.  


All of our conscious experiences stem from the drive to stay alive.  

We predict ourselves into existence

1. We can mis-perceive ourselves
2. What it means to be me cannot be redacted to or uploaded to a robot or computer
3. Our own inner universe is just one possible way of being conscious - there is a vast space of possible consciousses


“With greater sense of understanding comes a greater sense of wonder - and a greater realization - that we are a part of - not a part from - the rest of nature”

!!!


Anil K. Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and Founding Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. In his work, he seeks to understand the biological basis of consciousness by bringing together research across neuroscience, mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry. Through the Sackler Centre the aim is to translate an understanding of the complex brain networks underpinning consciousness into new clinical approaches to psychiatric and neurological disorders.

More from Seth:


Seth’s blog:



More on the TYPES OF SELF:



TYPES OF SELF:

1. Bodily
2. Perspectival
3. Volitional
4. Narrative
5. Social

In neuroscience and psychology, the experience of ‘being a self’ has long been a central concern. One of the most important lessons, from decades of research, is that there is no single thing that is the self. Rather, the self is better thought of as an integrated network of processes that distinguish self from non-self at many different levels. There is the bodily self – the experience of identifying with and owning a particular body, which at a more fundamental level involves the amorphous experience of being a self-sustaining organism. There is the perspectival self, the experience of perceiving the world from a particular first-person point-of-view. The volitional self involves experiences of intention of agency, of urges to do this-or-that (or, perhaps more importantly, to refrain from doing this-or-that) and of being the cause of things that happen.

At higher levels we encounter narrative and social selves. The narrative self is where the ‘I’ comes in, as the experience of being a continuous and distinctive person over time. This narrative self – the story we tell ourselves about who we are – is built from a rich set of autobiographical memories that are associated with a particular subject. Finally, the social self is that aspect of my self-experience and personal identity that depends on my social milieu, on how others perceive and behave towards me, and on how I perceive myself through their eyes and minds.

In daily life, it can be hard to differentiate these dimensions of selfhood. We move through the world as seemingly unified wholes, our experience of bodily self seamlessly integrated with our memories from the past, and with our experiences of volition and agency. But introspection can be a poor guide. Many experiments and neuropsychological case studies tell a rather different story, one in which the brain actively and continuously generates and coordinates these diverse aspects of self-experience.

When it comes to the ‘I’, memory is the key. Specifically, autobiographical memory: the recollection of personal experiences of people, objects, and places and other episodes from an individual’s life. While there are as many types of memory as there are varieties of self (for example, we have separate memory processes for facts, for the short term and the long term, and for skills that we learn), autobiographical memories are those most closely associated with our sense of personal identity. 

This is well illustrated by some classic medical cases in which, as a result of surgery or disease, the ability to lay down new memories is lost. In 1953 Henry Moliason (also known as the patient HM) had large parts of his medial temporal lobes removed in order to relieve severe epilepsy. From 1957 until his death in 2008, HM was studied closely by the neuropsychologist Brenda Milner, yet he was never able to remember meeting her. In 1985 the accomplished musician Clive Wearing suffered a severe viral brain disease that affected similar parts of his brain. Now 77, he frequently believes he has just awoken from a coma, spending each day in a constant state of re-awakening.

Surprisingly, both HM and Wearing remained able to learn new skills, forming new ‘procedural’ memories, despite never recalling the learning process itself. Wearing could still play the piano, and conduct his choir, though he would immediately forget having done so. The music appears to carry him along from moment to moment, restoring his sense of self in a way his memory no longer can. And his love for his wife Deborah seems undiminished, so that he expresses an enormous sense of joy on seeing her, even though he cannot tell whether their last meeting was years, or seconds, in the past. Love, it seems, persists when much else is gone.

The German philosopher Thomas Metzinger believes that “no such things as selves exist in the world”. Modern neuroscience may be on his side, with memory being only one thread in the rich tapestry of processes shaping our sense of selfhood. At the same time, the world outside the laboratory is still full of people who experience themselves – and each other – as distinct, integrated wholes. How the new science of selfhood will change this everyday lived experience, and society with it, is a story that is yet to be told.



Also - mentioned by Seth on the Sam Harris podcast:

- Steven Goodheart


Sea squirts belong to a remarkable group of undersea animals called tunicates … saclike filter-feeders that live on plankton and organic matter they strain from the water they pump through their bodies.

Although one could hardly tell by looking at their squishy bodies, sea squirts are also part of the phylum of chordates—the group of animals that include fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals!  This is because in their larval stage, sea squirts have many of the anatomical features of vertebrate animals.

… squirts are probably most famous for “eating their brains” … they are hermaphrodites—they have both male and female reproductive organs. They spawn by releasing eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. After about three days, eggs develop into tadpole-like larvae. They wiggle and twitch around, which helps disperse them.

The free-swimming larvae stage lasts only a short time, since the larvae aren’t capable of feeding. Soon, they settle to the bottom and cement themselves headfirst to the spot where they will spend the rest of their lives. They need to start feeding, so an amazing transformation begins.

The sea squirt larvae begin absorbing all the tadpole-like parts that made them chordates. Where the sea squirt larva once had gills, it develops the intake and exist siphons that will help it bring water and food into its body. It absorbs its twitching tail. It absorbs its primitive eye and its spine-like notocord. Finally, it even absorbs the rudimentary little “brain” (cerebral ganglion) that it used to swim about and find its attachment place.

… since the sea squirt no longer needs its brain to help it swim around or to see, this isn’t a great loss to the creature. It needs to use this now superfluous body material to help develop its digestive, reproductive, and circulatory organs.



More on consciousness:



Tim Parks: Riccardo, you have been presenting quite a different theory of consciousness, which suggests that there is nothing “stored” in the brain. No images, no sounds, and, I assume, no words. As you see it, the brain is a powerful enabler that allows experience to happen, but this experience is actually one with the objects we see, hear, smell, and touch, outside our bodies, or again, one with the body itself in those cases where it is the body that is experienced. And we are this experience, not something separate from it. You have explained dreams, hallucinations, and non-verbal thoughts as more complex and delayed forms of perception, always insisting that each experience is identical to something outside the brain, something whose existence is relative to our body. But how can that possibly be the case for language? When I am thinking silently to myself, where can the language possibly be, if not inside my head?

Riccardo Manzotti: Imagine you’re lying in bed planning to furnish a house you’ll soon be moving to in a distant town. What do you do? You start thinking about different items of furniture to figure out if they will go together in the space there. This would normally be explained by saying that you are imagining mental objects—representations in your head—and arranging them together in a mental space, another mental representation, again in your head. But in our previous conversation, we reached the conclusion that there are no “mental” objects—no thoughts, that is—separate from real objects. Simply, there is no need to introduce this new entity, thought, between body and object.

When we say we are thinking, what we are actually doing is rearranging causal relations with past events, objects that we have encountered before, to see what happens when we combine them. We don’t need a mental sofa to put next to a mental armchair. We allow the sofas and armchairs encountered in our past to exert an effect in the present, in various combinations. Like a controlled dream.

Parks: But we were talking about words, Riccardo, not sofas and armchairs! Last time we talked about thinking things directly; this time we’re considering thinking in language, which is surely different.

Manzotti: Not at all. Words are really not so different from sofas and armchairs. They are external objects that do things in the world and, like other objects, they produce effects in our brains and thus eventually, through us, in the world. The only real difference is that, when it comes to what we call thinking, words are an awful lot easier to juggle around and rearrange than bits of furniture.



Strangers to Ourselves
- Timothy D Wilson

“According to the modern perspective, Freud’s view of the unconscious was far too limited. When he said (following Gustav Fechner, an early experimental psychologist) that consciousness is the tip of the mental iceberg, he was short of the mark by quite a bit—it may be more the size of a snowball on top of that iceberg.”



“The mind operates most efficiently by relegating a good deal of high-level, sophisticated thinking to the unconscious, just as a modern jumbo jetliner is able to fly on automatic pilot with little or no input from the human, “conscious” pilot.”




“The conscious mind, like the part of the iceberg above the surface, is a small portion of the whole being. The conscious mind is what we ordinarily think of when we say 'my mind.' It's associated with thinking, analyzing and making judgments and decisions.The conscious mind is actively sorting and filtering its perceptions because only so much information can reside in consciousness at once. Everything else falls back below the water line, into unconsciousness.

Only seven bits of information, plus or minus two can be held consciously at one time. Everything else we are thinking, feeling or perceiving now... along with all our memories remains unconscious, until called into consciousness or until rising spontaneously.

… there's a place in the depths where all of our icebergs come together, a place in the unconscious where we connect with each other.

The psychologist Carl Jung has named this realm the 'Collective Unconscious.' This is the area of mind where all humanity shares experience, and from where we draw on the archetypal energies and symbols that are common to us all. 'Past life' memories are drawn from this level of the unconscious.”

...


MEDIA, LEADERSHIP, AND THE REWIND

Basketball Coach Steve Kerr, on the media:



How about Oprah and Steve Kerr for 2020??
Pop as Secretary of State 
Seriously - if the presidency continues to be nothing more than a popularity contest, this is the only way it will go.  
Kardashian 2024?


Speaking of Pop:


"It became apparent to me that it really was me," Popovich said. "He'd been playing in the league for nine years. I'm not going to turn him into some other player. I could do some things defensively or rebounding-wise. But on offense, I was going to move him everywhere. That was just silly on my part, total over-coaching. So, we took care of it, and he's been fantastic."


Taking responsibility ... if an athlete is underperforming, if is generally up to the coach to figure out why

...


I think having a broad intellectual curiosity is a key to leadership at any level; if you have this, I think you can lead

...

- THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS, nytimes.com


“I am not immune to Oprah’s charms, but President Winfrey is a terrible idea. It also underscores the extent to which Trumpism — the kowtowing to celebrity and ratings, the repudiation of experience and expertise — has infected our civic life. The ideal post-Trump politician will, at the very least, be a deeply serious figure with a strong record of public service behind her. It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act.”

“In a way, the conversation on the left (and the anti-Trump right) around Ms. Winfrey is more troubling than the emotional immaturity and anti-intellectualism pulsing out of the red states that elected Mr. Trump. Those voters have long defined themselves in opposition to the intellectual seriousness Democrats purport to personify.

If liberals no longer pride themselves on being the adults in the room, the bulwark against the whims of the mob, our national descent into chaos will be complete. The Oprah bandwagon betrays the extent to which social causes and identities — and the tribal feelings they inspire — have come to eclipse anything resembling philosophical worldviews. American politics has become just another team sport, and if suiting up a heavy hitter like Ms. Winfrey is what it takes to get the championship ring, so be it.

The idea that the presidency should become just another prize for celebrities — even the ones with whose politics we imagine we agree — is dangerous in the extreme. If the first year of the Trump administration has made anything clear, it’s that experience, knowledge, education and political wisdom matter tremendously. Governing is something else entirely from campaigning. And perhaps, most important, celebrities do not make excellent heads of state. The presidency is not a reality show, or for that matter, a talk show.”

...


You would hope that there will be a correction to our current situation, but I don’t think the pendulum has swung far enough yet.  

For the average American, things are still too good.  We have to be on the brink of total chaos before we will see the correction.  


Andrew Sullivan:

“ … Economic growth is now ubiquitous in the developed world (including even Japan) for the first time in quite a while. In America, we are in a record eighth year of economic growth, bringing peak employment and finally a bump in earnings. Median household income is now the highest in history. The Dow is at 25,000. Medicine has effectively abolished most of the diseases which used to kill us in mass numbers. Illegal border crossings to the U.S. have fallen to record lows. More Americans have health insurance than at any point in history, and Trump has failed to kill Obamacare. Crime rates are at historic lows and keep declining in ways that simply baffle criminologists. Solar energy is finally competitive with fossil fuels. Global conflict continues its long centuries-old decline. ISIS has been destroyed in its own heartland. Anyone with a phone has access to more learning and knowledge than at any point in human history. More people live in democracies today than a dozen years ago. When natural disasters happen, they kill fewer people in a far more populous world. The last decade has seen the biggest decline in global poverty ever. And on and on. All this renders the collapse of the American presidency more tolerable.”

“ … Trump’s very incompetence is also a calming factor. There is no wall, and almost certainly won’t be. There has been no deportation force and, given good news on border crossings, it appears we don’t need one. The president has not defied a court order, and the Mueller investigation into potential treason during the campaign remains active. We have seen no brutal “law and order” police crackdown — in fact, we have proof that we don’t need stop-and-frisk at all, and the number of unarmed African-Americans shot dead by the cops has been halved in two years. The Iran nuclear deal still stands; ditto NAFTA; so too the Paris climate accord — despite the U.S.’s symbolic withdrawal. The shift to renewable energy has not paused. We have not seen new tariffs on trade with China, beyond the limits of previous presidents. Obamacare is more popular than ever. Democrats lead Republicans in the generic congressional polls by double digits. Established media — like the New York Times and the Washington Post — are seeing huge gains in digital subscriptions. A Democrat won in Alabama. Terror attacks have not prompted massive overreaction, as many of us feared. It seems at times as if Trump is both ubiquitous and yet Trumpism is all but absent. If you squinted and judged only the substantive change since last January, Trump’s tangible record is indistinguishable from any other mainstream Republican’s.”


Perhaps the greater issue is Trump - and what he represents - is further ‘legitimizing the language of selfishness’

Trump’s xenophobia and narcissism is still seen as a one-off, when, in reality, the entire society is moving in this direction.  

Walking heads-down, we won’t recognize our destination until it’s too late.

And that is when a democracy breaks down:

James Traub

“Perhaps in a democracy the distinctive feature of decadence is not debauchery but terminal self-absorption— the loss of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning.”

“We cannot blame everything on Donald Trump, much though we might want to. In the decadent stage of the Roman Empire, or of Louis XVI’s France, or the dying days of the Habsburg Empire so brilliantly captured in Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, decadence seeped downward from the rulers to the ruled.
But in a democracy, the process operates reciprocally.”

“A decadent elite licenses degraded behavior, and a debased public chooses its worst leaders. Then our Nero panders to our worst attributes — and we reward him for doing so.”

“Decadence,” in short, describes a cultural, moral, and spiritual disorder — the Donald Trump in us. It is the right, of course, that first introduced the language of civilizational decay to American political discourse. A quarter of a century ago, Patrick Buchanan bellowed at the Republican National Convention that the two parties were fighting “a religious war … for the soul of America.”


“A democratic society becomes decadent when its politics become morally and intellectually corrupt”

“Being a “wealth creator” means never having to say you’re sorry. Enough voters accept this proposition that Donald Trump paid no political price for unapologetic greed.”


Being a politician is a lot like being a coach.  
Some lead.  Others are led.
A true leader - like a true coach - knows when to influence, and when to be influenced.  
When to give advice; and when to seek advice

We must remember that the coach can see what the athlete cannot; but the athlete can feel what the coach cannot.

A good coach will understand that the coach-athlete relationship - and any success that may stem from it - is a PARTNERSHIP.  

And that coaching is as much about educating the athlete, such that they are able to take greater responsibility in their development, as it is Xs, Os, technical tweaks, and peaking.


- David Frum, The Atlantic 


“There’s a key difference between film and reality, though: The Corleone family had the awareness and vigilance to exclude Fredo from power. The American political system did not do so well.”

**LOVED this reference from Frum.  Godfather I and II are my two favorite films ever, and Trump whining about his being smart and stable was total Fredo!  (And 100% Dunning-Kruger - because you just KNOW he believes it)


Belief … continues to be at the forefront of my mind right now … will explore further (and-or review) in coming weeks 


“Brains, bodies, and the environment interact to construct cognitive processes”




Books just started:

  • The Ambulance Drivers - recommended by Ryan Holiday (his monthly newsletter)
  • David Rodigan - My Life in Reggae
  • Matt Ridley - The Rational Optimist
  • Erving Goffman - The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
  • Trevor Noah - Born a Crime

...

I DJ’d for 25 years.  In 1998, I started a radio show in Calgary called Level The Vibes on CJSW 90.9 FM, and hosted it until I moved to London in 2010.  It still runs to this day, hosted by my former DJ partner Tullo.  The impetus for starting the show was to help share Jamaican music - and to educate the masses on the wealth of talent in the country who were not named Bob Marley.  

David Rodigan is a British DJ (selector), who is very well-known and respected in the reggae community throughout the world (even though he is an older white British guy!).  Best known perhaps for his extensive collection of rare dub plates - and more recently through radio shows on British stations, Rodigan has always been someone I have enjoyed listening to, and looked up to when I was younger.


Not sure how this got into my head this week - 

For some reason, I thought Rodigan was the one responsible for “Lick wood means rewind, a gunshot means forward.  You requested it, so weeeeeee rewind”

Turns out I was wrong - it was Joseph Cotton

Found out in this excellent overview of the ‘rewind’:



Laurent Fintoni does a great job of using the rewind as a means to compare Jamaican reggae (and later dancehall), with new urban musical styles coming out of New York and London (dancehall, hip hop, hardcore, jungle, garage, dubstep, etc.).

  • “The U.K. and America had by then long been engaged in a game of transatlantic musical ping pong. From the 1970s onwards, the table they played on increasingly began to resemble a sound system.”

  • “the rewind was a way for dubstep audiences to participate in the moment.”

  • “There’s one more key element in the evolution of rewinds: radio. Or to take it back to Bunny Lee, the people’s radio aka pirate radio. In the late 1980s, pirate radio moved off the boats to high rises in the poorer parts of London, just as sound systems had begun in the ghettos of Kingston.”

  • “In London, pirates were essential to dance music cultures. Raves were the location, pirate radio was the medium, and music was the message. Two distinct elements of sound system culture defined pirate radio in the British capital: the MC and the rewind.”

  • “As jungle became the sound of 1990s London pirate radio, technology allowed the rewind to tag along.”

  • “Calling a radio station seems an odd thing to do,” Belle-Fortune remembers. “But ringing your favourite pirate to bawl for a rewind is so natural. Nothing establishes a sense of community better than regular callers.” Calling up, and later texting, for a rewind would become integral to the pirate radio experience.”


***This connected with me - when you called CJSW back in the day, it was the DJ who picked up the phone in the booth.  So if we dropped a big tune, we would often get multiple calls, demanding a rewind!***


“So after forty years of rewinding tunes, one thing is for sure: the rewind is the most democratic musical practice of modern times: it ensures no one, audience or DJ, is above anyone else. It also has a bad rep for being abused, the tool of coked-up MCs disconnected from the crowd. Sort of like politics today. Like I said, democratic.”


Irrational man - a study in existential philosophy
William Barrett

“History has never allowed man to return to the past in any total sense. And our psychological problems cannot be solved by a regression to a past state in which they had not yet been brought into being. On the other hand, enlightened and progressive thinkers are equally blind when they fail to recognize that every major step forward by mankind entails some loss, the sacrifice of an older security and the creation and heightening of new tensions.” - Barrett


This is part of what draws folks to Trump, and in the U.K., why many supported Brexit. 

A predominance of the older generation - uncomfortable with change - are seduced by MAGA and of a time where their particular circumstances were ‘more comfortable’ - whether this comfort stemmed from melancholic memories of a younger time, or of a time when things were actually ‘great’ is moot. 

The fact is that praying on folks’ discomfort with change - and not accepting the fact, on a societal level, we now live in the best time in history - (Ridley’s Rational Optimist).  

“On what principle is it, that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” - Thomas Babington Macauley - opening words of Ridley’s Rational Optimist

“There are people today who think life was better in the past.  They argue that there was not only a simplicity, tranquility, sociability and spirituality about life in the distant past that has been lost, but a virtue too.  This rose-tinted nostalgia, please note, is generally confined to the wealthy.” - Ridley



The fact is - not only do we not want to go back - but we cannot go back.  Not as a society, and not as individuals:


“Forward Ever, Backward Never”

The title of a well-known Jacob Miller song - “Forward ever; backward never” - is actually a part of a speech by Dr Kwame Nkrumah - Ghana’s first prime minister and president - that was adopted by many Caribbeans, and speaks to the philosophy of living our life forwards.  

LA-based artist Gary Simmons wrote a short blog-post about the phrase, as well as a short commentary on the differences and similarities of our current society with the early 70s. 

“The last eight years have been an incredible period in history. But, unfortunately, with the comfort of a thoughtful, caring president came a certain kind of complacency. President Barack Obama and his administration took office against an extremely difficult landscape: the country was at odds with itself, the economy had major problems, and xenophobia was prevalent. Obama is not just a president: he is an icon of hope and of the potential for good. He took on a country in crisis with grace, eloquence, and equanimity. Now, eight years later, we have become not only accustomed to but also reliant on his perspicacity and calm demeanor, for when Barack spoke, the future was inclusive and hopeful. Despite his positive influence, there are still unresolved issues of difference lurking under the surface. We still have police brutality, racism, and xenophobia. Our recent election cycle gave a microphone to some of the darkest voices we have heard in a long time, voices that speak feelings that have clearly been germinating for many years. People are unnerved. Wounds that never healed have been reopened. The new commander-in-chief must recognize the volatility of these raw wounds and stop blowing hot air onto already scalding coals, for his is a dangerous and divisive voice.” 

- Gary Simmons

Gary Simmons, Everforward, 1992. Collection Walker Art Center

Nkrumah was president of Ghana from 1957 through 1966, before being overthrown, and going into exile.  He was a leader of the Pan-African movement, and was hailed by many as being ahead of this time with his vision for a unified Africa.

..

Grenadians may attach the quote to Maurice Bishop - The leader of the Grenadian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the pro-imperialist administration of Eric Gairy.  Bishop led the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada, until he was shot and killed during a coup in 1983. 

“We hold the truth itself to be revolutionary and we shall stand firm by its side.” - Bishop

“Backwardness in the field of information is a fundamental reason for the fact that the international exchange of information is only a one way process. Basically, a veritable flood of information flows from the major imperialist cities to all corners of the globe, whereas there is a mere trickle in the opposite direction.”

“It is imperative to eliminate psychological warfare and cultural neocolonialism from intercourse between states and peoples.” - Bishop

“The colonial masters recognised very early on that if you get a subject people to think like they, to forget their own history and their own culture, to develop a system of education that is going to have relevance to our outward needs and be almost entirely irrelevant to our internal needs, then they have already won the job of keeping us in perpetual domination and exploitation. Our educational process, therefore, was used mainly as a tool of the ruling elite.” - Bishop



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- Charles Blow

“Trump is man-as-message, man-as-messiah. Trump support isn’t philosophical but theological.

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Trumpism is a religion founded on patriarchy and white supremacy.

It is the belief that even the least qualified man is a better choice than the most qualified woman and a belief that the most vile, anti-intellectual, scandal-plagued simpleton of a white man is sufficient to follow in the presidential footsteps of the best educated, most eloquent, most affable black man.

As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.”

In a way, Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right. He is the embodiment of the unassailability of white power and white privilege.”

“No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.”


- Jesse Singal


Social media-generated outrage “… highlights a disturbing, worsening tendency … in which tribal allegiances are replacing shared empirical understandings of the world. Or maybe “subtribal” is the more precise, fitting term to use here. It’s one thing to say that left and right disagree on simple facts about the world — this sort of informational Balkanization has been going on for a while and long predates Twitter. What social media is doing is slicing the salami thinner and thinner, as it were, making it harder even for people who are otherwise in general ideological agreement to agree on basic facts about news events.


“Not making us dumber as much as incentivizing what we've always been. And very rapidly”. - Doug Kechijian

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yes Chris!


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Sorry for the Trump-dump this week ... I will endeavor to reduce this in the future.  Tough thing to ignore right now