Monday, May 28, 2007

Thought seed


Sometimes I will read a book or an article and I think 'Wow, this is really enlightening, the author's insights so refreshing'. I feel like spreading the word with an evangelical zeal but I hold back. I hold back because I know there is a deception at play. There is a part of me that realises that my enthusiasm stems less from having been bowled over by new insights and more from the fact that I have just read something that already resonates with my existing set of beliefs and views. This knowledge can be very valuable, and that it may have been expressed with an elegance that makes it even more attractive, but I try to remain vigilant to the idea that it may be building on my existing views as opposed to broadening my horizons. It is important to retain an inquiring, challenging mind as we age, and maintaining an independent sense of context can be an important part of this.

Thought seed

When we enter the world of paid work, we tend to seek promotion for reasons of wealth and status, and to secure a good life for ourselves and our families. There is a nobility here but there is also an uncertainty, a nagging question of how much is enough and whether what it is that we are chasing is worth the sacrifice. I have been afforded the time to ask such questions and only now are the answers bubbling to the surface. The part of me that quietly repeated the mantra to 'keep working and earning and all will be well', has been banished, hopefully never to return, and while I am not quite taking a vow of poverty, I no longer feel the urge to put myself under undue stress in order to secure a comfortable existence for my future self. Fortunately, I consider myself a man of simple and inexpensive pleasures (apart from the golf!) and because of this I have been able to take a big step back. I will return to paid work through necessity, but I believe my perspective has changed for the better.

Really asking ourselves what it is that makes us happy can be difficult, but I believe it must be done in order to make informed life decisions. Good luck.

Something fluffy for the long weekend

Unusual relationships between animals:



Golf Shop - The Sports HQ

For enthusiastic golfing beginners looking to buy all sorts of golfing equipment, there can't be a better place to go than The Sports HQ. Some of the stuff on this site is so cheap I thought the whole thing might be a con, but I'm glad to say it isn't. I ordered a golf bag, golf shirt and a lob wedge from them, all for £25, and everything came through in quick time.
These golf bags are now reduced to just £4.99, and you can pick up the golf clubs pictured below for just £29.99 (that includes a 3/4 Wood and the following irons 5-6-7-8-9-PW-SW, a total of eight clubs!). I'd be a bit reluctant to order a set of golf clubs over the net without trying them out before hand, but at this price you could probably flog them on e-bay for a small profit if you didn't like them. The only catch, if it is a catch, is the postage cost. There are a choice of options, with the cheapest at £7.00. However, if you sign up with the Google Checkout payment system (like Paypal) via the SportsHQ site and spend £30 (that's the total, inc postage), you get an extra £10 off. Again, I used this offer and everything was smooth sailing.

Enjoy, and stock up on your golfing gear!


Thursday, May 24, 2007

John Rambo returns

I'm not too sure about this one:

Monday, May 21, 2007

The ultimate RM film - Predator (with film quotes and clips)

(UPDATE : Youtube clips added)

Action films do not age at all well. I remember watching Kickboxer again a few years ago, and while I managed to sit through the entire film, this was more for nostalgia value than anything else. I am proud to report that Predator escapes this trap, standing head and shoulders above most other films in the genre. I was reminded of the sheer brilliance of this film when it aired on tv last week and all I can say is 'Wow'. It blew me away for the xth time. Okay, the effects used to show Predator's heat-vision don't hold up too well against today's special effects, but other than that the film is very well put together, and the dialogue - sparse that it is - is of the highest quality. I'm putting this forward as the ultimate RM film, and perhaps as Arnie's best film in his career. Below are some quotes from the film, some behind the scenes info, and a couple of cool clips from Youtube. Enjoy.

Quotes from the film:

Dutch: Dillon, you son-of-a-bitch (they engage in a mid-air arm wrestle)
Dutch: What's the matter? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?

Dutch: We're a rescue team. Not assassins.

Dutch: [to Dillon] So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us in a meat grinder?

Poncho: You're bleeding, man.
Blain: I ain't got time to bleed.

Blain: You lose it here and you're in a world of hurt.

Dutch: [directing his team into the jungle] We move, five meter spread, no sound.

Dutch: Ruuun ! ... Get to da choppa !

Dutch: What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be someone I could trust.
Dillon: I woke up. Why don't you? You're an asset. An expendable asset. And I used you to get the job done, got it?

Dutch: Come on... Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on. Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!

And the ultimate line:

Dutch: If it bleeds, we can kill it.
One of my goals in life is to watch the collector's edition DVD. It's a 2-disc set and is chock full of extras, including a documentary called "If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator". The Predator DVD has 356 Amazon reviews with an average rating of 4.5/5, putting on par with the likes of Gone With the Wind and Godfather.

Here is some behind the scenes info from the Popcorn Junkies film site:
This is a terrific role for Schwarzenegger, playing a variation on his Matrix role from Commando, only seemingly a bit more realistic. He moves with the efficiency and the confidence of a real commander. He doesn't do a lot of bragging or mouthing off, leaving those types of things to the rest of his team.

The rest of the squad is an all star cast of movie bad asses crafted out of the same mold as The Dirty Dozen, and hasn't been topped for testosterone count since then. What I love is that apparently as soon as the camera quit rolling, these men were constantly trying to top each other, and really this tension comes across on screen as well. Look at the brash Blain (Jessie Ventura), mouthing off to everyone that they should chew tobacco because it will increase their sexual prowess. Off screen, Ventura was competing with Schwarzenegger for who had the largest biceps, losing by three inches. Sonny Landham, who plays Billy, the team's tracker in the film, was so crazy that the insurance company for the film would not even insure the project once they found out he was on board. Only after a bodyguard was hired to protect everyone else from the actor, was Landham allowed to join the project.
Youtube clips from Predator:



And this comedy piece for obsessives:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mars is suitable for vegetarians, muslims or jews

It looks like Mars have reversed their decision to make their top selling chocolates unsuitable for vegetarians (and jews and muslims).

Talk about living on Mars!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pacino and De Niro team up again

This has been a long time coming. Please let it be good.

Here is the story.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mars no longer suitable for vegetarians, muslims or jews


Vegetarians, jews and muslims may be up in arms at Mars' decision to start adding animal ingredients to it's popular chocolate bars.

From Sunny at Pickled Politics:

"Well, I never really liked them anyway. But now I can’t even have Bounty or Snickers!

On May 1, Masterfoods began using animal products in famous chocolate bars such as the Mars Bar, Bounty, Snickers, Twix and Milky Way. The taint also affects Maltesers and Minstrels, which have traces of whey - a product of cheesemaking which itself involves the use of rennet, a chemical from calves’ stomachs. The recipe change also applies to the popular ice cream versions of the confectionery bars.

It means that for the diligent vegetarian, the products are all out of bounds. The move has been strongly condemned by the Vegetarian Society which has urged its members to pressure Masterfoods to think again.

There’s only one word worth saying: bastards. A spokesperson from Masterfoods said:

If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable but a less strict vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate.

A less strict vegetarian? What’s that? Like someone… who eats meat products? Be warned people (or vegetarians specifically)! Don’t buy unless these foolish people change their ways. I already have chocolate problems since I also boycott Nestle, so my choice is now limited only to Cadburys. Life is harsh."

Like Sunny, I haven't eaten Nestle products since I found out about their dodgy antics in the US. Giving up the Kit Kat was extremely hard, but these days I seem to have lost my taste for the English chocolate bar, so this announcement is no great personal loss. Also, I am not about to start harbouring negative thoughts about Masterfoods as a company. Instead I respect their decision. They are not a charity and their concern lies with their bottom line, not whether a small portion of the population feels neglected because they can no longer have a Twix.

PS - I am led to wonder if Mars will stop selling these products to the countries in the Middle East, or if they will continue to supply these countries with the vegetarian options. Judging by this Lebanese (possibly) women's purchase of over 10,000 Mars bars on Edgeware Road, it's a potentially expensive segment of the market to ignore.

Monday, May 14, 2007

RM goes to Hong Kong

It's a land-mark week for the Real Man Fraternity, with Mal - a founding father of the RMF - heading off to conquer Hong Kong. Mal will be gone for a year or two and will be missed by all. On the positive side, we look forward to hearing about your exploits and adventures in the Far East. We also look forward to having a place to stay when we come over to visit !

Now, where to find some temporary RM members for this summer's activities?

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We got together for one last golfing session at the weekend and good times were had by all. By some miracle we were blessed with pretty good weather, especially as it was raining pretty much everywhere else in the UK. The downside is that this golf bug is getting pretty serious: we've all taken to wearing collared shirts. I fear this is just the beginning.

Ratty

Until today, I'd only ever seen one other wild rat before - I was in a park in London, and I caught sight of a filthy, extremely large, grey rat running from the bins.

I had my second rat sighting today but this time it was much closer to home. Looking out of my kitchen window, I saw a brown rat scarpering across our garden. Unlike the London rat, this rodent didn't look like a menacing vermin, but I know it can still cause big problems. Hopefully it was just passing through. If not, one of the three neighbourhood cats may be relied upon to solve the problem.

The Wabi-Sabi philosophy

'nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect'

I was recently introduced to the Japanese philosophy of 'Wabi-Sabi' and found that it resonates strongly with my own perspectives on how man can live harmoniously with the cycle of nature. These quotes on Wabi-Sabi are from are from an article by Leonard Koren:
Get rid of all that is unnecessary. Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered. "Material poverty, spiritual richness" are wabi-sabi bywords. In other words, wabi-sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success — wealth, status, power and luxury — and enjoy the unencumbered life.

Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things.

"Greatness" exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details. Wabi-sabi represents the exact opposite of the Western ideal of great beauty as something monumental, spectacular and enduring. Wabi-sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral: things so subtle and evanescent they are invisible to vulgar eyes.

Things wabi-sabi are unpretentious, unstudied and inevitable looking. They do not blare out "I am important" or demand to be the centre of attention. They are understated and unassuming, yet not without presence or quiet authority. Things wabi-sabi easily coexist with the rest of their environment.

Things wabi-sabi are appreciated only during direct contact and use; they are never locked away in a museum. Things wabi-sabi have no need for the reassurance of status or the validation of market culture. They have no need for documentation of provenance.

Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize. (Things wabi-sabi are emotionally warm, never cold.)
Architect Tadao Ando has also written an excellent article on the philosophy. Note how it differs to western minimalism, which tends to scream 'look at me'.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Armando series continues

From Armando Iannucci's latest column:

Do the wrong thing

One last word on Blair leaving. I've always admired the way he gets praise for saying things which later, in the cold light of day, don't mean much. The headline quote from his farewell speech was 'I did what I thought was right'.

Which sounds great until you realise it's what everyone does on a daily basis anyway, even the Taliban. Nobody does what they do because they think it's the wrong thing to do.

If Huw Edwards started reading the news in Spanish, or a bus driver announced he wasn't going to use the pedals that day, or a ballerina decided to burp instead of dance, and they all said they'd done it because they thought it was the wrong thing to do, then we'd stone them.

Even though stoning people is not right.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Who is Matt Mullenweg anyway?


Who is this dude? His name is Matthew Mullenweg and he is the founder of Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org, the excellent blogging platforms. Okay, so the Real Man Fraternity is hosted at Blogger.com but I have a lot of respect for Wordpress. It is a super flexible platform, with a strong community feel about it, and it is highly rated by those in the know. And is Matt thinking about IPO'ing his company, is he going to sell-out, take the money, and go and live the good life?

Apparently not. In a recent entry on his personal blog, Matt has a bit of a rant about journalists who paint him as the overnight, Web 2.0 wonderboy:

It’s not uncommon to get leading questions trying to hit a point in the above patterns… Yes, WordPress really is four years old. I was 19. No, I didn’t create it alone, if I did you would have never heard of it. Actually, it entered a rather crowded field, not even close to being first. No, not planning to sell it, there isn’t really anything to sell, it’s more of a movement. No, I didn’t make 60 million dollars in 18 months.

What’s worst is I think these stories sell a false promise and hope to people outside of the industry — it attracts the wrong type of entrepreneurs — and inside of the industry it distracts us from what really matters.

... Finally it’s not Web 2.0, or another bandwagon me-too content management system with AJAX, it’s a mature project that has been around and grown up over four years of hard work, and it has many, many more years of hard work ahead of it. I smile these days when I see WordPress referred to as an “overnight success,” if only they knew how long an overnight success takes.

There is a lot of money flying about in the industry these days, so I wouldn't rule out a sale to an insanely high bid (e.g. the Youtube sale), but it's refreshing to see this level of maturity from a young entrepreneur. There is hope.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New pop-art(ish) banner images

For the final touches to the new look blog, I've personalised the title banner with images of the founding fathers of the RMF (there's plenty of white space ... room for new members, perhaps?).

How did I create this cartoon, drawing effect?

There are a few design/artist web-sites that tell you how to make pictures like this, but I found my own method. I threw the images in to Excel and drew over the top of them with the various line tools on offer. Then I simply deleted the photo to reveal the drawing. It's quick and easy, and the results are pretty cool. I knew Excel was good for something!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tim Westwood quotes collection

Tim Westwood on the decks

In December 2005, I listened to a piece of radio gold. It was a conversation between Radio 1 DJs Tim Westwood and Zane Lowe. I transcribed it here, word for word, but here it is again, kicking off the Tim Westwood quotes collection:

Zane Lowe

Tim: ...what do you play at your parties?
Zane: ...it's everything. It's covering all the different genre's that you guy's, you know, expertly deliver, individually and specifically. We're lucky, we get to sneak in to your record boxes every single day and steal only the finest cuts.
Tim: Yeah, I'm with it, I'm with it.
Zane: Then we marinade it, we fry 'em up, we put 'em on a platter, and we all have a big buffet.
Tim: I like your style.
Zane: It's year's of dropping rhymes, Tim. I'm all about the metaphor.
Tim: Exactly, its a smorgasbord, of flavour.
Zane: You're on the smorgasbord man, you are on the smorgasbord.
Tim: Exactly, its selected cheeses, with some biscuits.
Zane: Man, I'm rockin' some mature cheddar right now, I got the finest Feta from France in my back pocket, I'm rockin' a little goats cheese. I mean, I've even got Roquefort, Roquefort in my record box right now.
Tim: Your cheese game is strong.
Zane: My cheese game. It's all about the cheese platter.
Tim: I love how you are getting down in your little buffet of savoury deserts.

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And now for some choice quotes from Tim Westwood (aka 'The Big Dog'):

"That's the way it goes down"

"That's straight blazin"

"It's ya boy, Westwood"

"The king pin of the car game"

"My main man up in the building, it's how we does"

"Go hard or go home!"

"Go hard brother number one (two, three)"

"Walking with the big dogs"

"I'm gonna big him up something crazy"

"The bomb's about to go off, baby"

"I'm looking to elevate my game"

"It's a good look"

"Let's make it happen"

You said it Tim.


For more on Tim Westwood:
Wikipedia
BBC (includes his latest radio show and a Tim Westwood soundboard)

The Real Man Fraternity gets a funky new look

The Real Man Fraternity has undergone a face-lift. The old format served us well since the blog's inception (2005), but it was time for an upgrade.

As well as a new look, there are a couple of new features in the sidebar:

  • A new 'recent comments' column.
  • Subscription options: With a click, you can subscribe to receive RMF blog content via your RSS reader, or you can have it delivered straight to your e-mail inbox (On average, the blog updates with new content one or two times a week).

Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A few golf videos ... watch and learn

Here are some great examples of good form, from the Tiger:


And check out this trick shot master: