All posts tagged Self

  • Mess+Noise album review: Nova Scotia – ‘Nova Scotia’, March 2011

    An album review for Mess+Noise. Excerpt below.

    Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia

    After two EPs and several years spent gigging at every Brisbane venue imaginable, this self-titled album is indie rock quintet Nova Scotia’s first full-length. Released via Lofly Records and mixed by label co-founder Andrew White (Mr. Maps, restream), Nova Scotia is just as demonstrative of the band’s songwriting abilities as their previous discs (2007’s Bear Smashes Photocopier and 2008’s Maritime Disasters), but the sonic differences here are instantly noticeable.

    As great as those EPs were, the recording and production – or lack thereof – left a lot to be desired. Here, the instruments can each be heard clearly in the mix, but they haven’t lost that sense of five dudes jamming in a room, which has always been a big part of Nova Scotia’s charm.

    Two re-recorded tracks from Photocopier (‘Second Sun’ and ‘Everything’s Perfect’) appear early in the piece, and while they sound better than ever, here’s where nostalgia ends. There isn’t a bad idea on Nova Scotia; if anything, the songs get better as the record progresses. Instrumental opener ‘Teeming With Voices’ is seemingly intended as the band’s theme song, and they frequently open their live sets with it too. Three different guitar tones sit atop clattering percussion. More than once, you get the feeling that it’s all about to cave in on itself. This sense of tension pervades most of the tracks here, and crucially, it’s an asset, not a distraction.

    For the full review, visit Mess+Noise, where you can also stream the album’s final track, ‘The World Is Not Enough’. For more Nova Scotia, visit their Myspace.

  • Fear

    You know, my biggest fear is mediocrity.

    Waking up one day and realising that I embody all the traits that I dislike in other people.

    Whether in mind – watching television, not reading, conducting conversations that revolve around inane interpersonal relationship bullshit.

    Or in body – eating crap, binge drinking, not exercising.

    Fear is healthy. Fear is a huge motivator.

    It’d be easy to construct this as some huge deal, a struggle, a rage against mediocrity. But it’s not. Instead, it’s kind of easy.

    One simple question, asked over and over: who do you want to be?

  • Seth Godin On Luck

    If you need motivation today, Seth’s got you covered.

    …effort is directly related to success. Not all the time, but as much as you would expect. Smarter, harder working, better informed and better liked people do better than other people, most of the time.

    For sure. Motivation is key here. Fear of failure is a big stumbling point, but I think that inertia paralysis is bigger. Fear of moving outside of one’s comfort zone.

    …that’s the key to the paradox of effort: While luck may be more appealing than effort, you don’t get to choose luck. Effort, on the other hand, is totally available, all the time.

    I’ve written about luck before. I don’t buy into it. Anything that’s worth having is worth working for, and in many cases – except lottery winners – it is worked for.

    But I’ve slacked off lately. I could throw a dozen half-baked excuses at it immediately – too busy, would rather relax, I’ve got other things I’d rather do – but really, there is no excuse. I’m falling short of the standards I set out for myself earlier in the year. My RSS reader is barely prodded of late. I have a stack of unread books that I haven’t touched in months. I can feel the inertia setting in. Recognised patterns are becoming habits; known personal responsibilities are being shirked.

    And it doesn’t feel good. Cognitive dissonance. I look back on most booze-fuelled nights in the company of good friends with fondness, but dude, what exactly are you trying to achieve here?

    This is a question I’ll continue to ask myself; this entry will serve as a reminder.

  • Affluenza

    Umair‘s article got me thinking.

    We’re not just addicted to cheap oil, as Tom Friedman and Al Gore have eloquently argued. There’s a deeper economic truth at work here.

    We’re addicted to consumption.

    My mind is drawn to a book that I read in 2006 named Affluenza, by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. The authors posit that increasing rates of stress, depression, and obesity directly correlate to the “consumption binge” that many Australians happily indulge in.

    Umair continues:

    It’s not just cheap oil we’re addicted to: it’s cheap everything. And the world we’re entering isn’t really of Peak Oil as it is one of Peak Consumption.

    [Do we] continue to hawk stuff that “satisfies” largely artificial needs? Or does [we] choose to do something authentic, meaningful, and purposive – something that makes us all radically better off than we were before?

    Affluenza is by no means a new concept. Conscious or not, much of the Western world is afflicted. Success measured by financial success and material possessions. This is life as many of us know it. And it’s fucking sad.

    From a business perspective, it’s a matter of considering the short-term gratification against the long-term gain. Umair uses an example:

    Do we need razors with ten blades – or a single blade that never dulls?

    This discussion is centred around strategic mobility. If you’ve built your business on disposable razor blades – if thousands of employees rely on your product to support themselves and, in turn, your business – it’s a huge deal to turn the ship around. To refocus your business objectives. To diversify, collaborate and reinvent. To acknowledge that although you’re satisfying a perceived need in the marketplace, maybe things could be done better.

    This is not an easy conversation to have. Businesses like our figurative disposable razor blade manufacturer – they’re established. Their ship slowly and steadily sails across the economy’s surface, satisfying a perceived need in the marketplace. Hands over eyes. Asleep at the wheel. Sailing blind, and too myopic (or unwilling) to divert the course of their impending – inevitable – wreckage.

    Though I’d like to think that I’m a conscientious consumer, I cringe a little when considering my weekly waste output. Torn packaging. Empty bottles. Spoiled food. Though my expenditure is more often invested in knowledge and self-improvement than petty, depreciating assets, I acknowledge that, again, turning the ship around isn’t easy.

    I just bid on a copy of Affluenza on eBay, and I expect to write about the subject more in the future.

    Isn’t that funny, though? I’m paying someone else for the knowledge that they’ve consumed and deemed unworthy of possession. That knowledge will arrive in recyclable packaging, which I’ll discard. Once I’ve consumed the knowledge, I’ll likely pass it onto a friend.

    And so the cycle continues.

  • Head Down

    There’s a point in your life when you realise exactly what matters to you. It doesn’t have to be a poetic Fight Club moment. It could be a slow-moving process where you get so caught up in your life’s inertia that you stop to take stock, and notice everything that you’ve left behind.

    I’ve lived the latter of the two. I’m not quite running lean, but I’ve been subconsciously drifting in that direction.

    The things and people that don’t matter just fade into the background, into the distance as you keep moving. They’re far behind, now, and still caught up in their incessant bickering about endless trivialities. Caught up in the minutiae of life.

    Glenn‘s eighteenth birthday post made me stop and smile. Such optimism and enthusiasm for what’s ahead.

    I can’t pretend that any of the things that concerned me when I turned eighteen were anywhere near as important as the concepts and possibilities that Glenn is currently juggling. I was writing, sure, but without a purpose or an audience.

    Girls. Drinking. The opinions of my peers. These are the things that concerned me at age eighteen. As much as I wish that I’d been grappling with notions of personal accountability or building self-value – I wasn’t.

    Realising that you’ve got to put your head down and just go for it – that’s an important point to reach.

    Stating that ‘nothing else matters’ is over-simplifying a little, but hell, you’re in control. It’s the difference between crawling, or choosing to stand up and walk.

  • Know

    I don’t know much. But I’m not comfortable with that. Which is why I endeavour to know more every day.

    There’s nothing wrong with not knowing if you’re honest with yourself and others. Not knowing should not cause embarrassment. Not knowing should be reframed as an opportunity to learn a new skill or new information.

    Before this week, I didn’t know Metcalfe’s Law. I didn’t know the capital of Uruguay. I didn’t know about petabytes.

    Not knowing can be difficult. I know. Difficulty becomes problematic when a paralysing fear of new information takes hold and you resign yourself to not knowing. You’re caught within your own self-concept loop.

    Picture a fruit tree. Imagine the fruit as knowledge. There’s ten thousand low hanging fruit that just about anyone can reach. They taste fine. You can easily survive on eating them for the rest of your life. Many do.

    But just out of reach are countless, considerably more fulfilling fruit. With a little extra effort and determination, you can climb the tree and feast on tastier knowledge. This is easier than ever before.

    Knowing can be dangerous. A voracious desire to know can intimidate those who are comfortable with not knowing.

    The Bayesian notion suggests that we should constantly examine our circumstance and direction against new information. I’m reminded of John Boyd’s OODA Loop.

    Observe. Orient. Decide. Act. If you don’t want to know more, enjoy those low-hanging fruit.

  • Learning When To Speak

    You’ve noticed that lately, I’ve been writing once a week, if that.

    I read a variety of sources most days, but it takes something special to inspire me to respond in my own words.

    Often, I feel that I don’t know enough about a subject to comment. This is less a fear of failure than an internal quality control, which I referred to when discussing my music writing.

    Having spent several years wrestling with words, concepts and emotions in a private journal, I’ve started to learn when to speak publicly. But I’m still learning.

    The polar approach is to open my mouth and speak about everything that I come across, like the wide-eyed teenager that I used to be. Everything that comes to mind. That drunk guy who I conversed with late last night while waiting for my train home. The costs and benefits of the brand of washing liquid that I use.

    I don’t, though. I alternate between the mindsets. Open versus closed. I know intuitively which of those strategies is bound for success.

    Umair Haque:

    The converse is: you only have to close when your DNA isn’t quite there yet; when the way you manage things still kind of sucks.

    Maybe that it’s it. The way I manage things – my thoughts, my ideas, my words – still kind of sucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with sucking, as long as sucking is a means to an end.

    Some days I’d like to spend a thousand words analysing a minuscule, inconsequential interaction. Or discuss the way that crowds tend to wait near the top of the stairs at a railway station, while the length of the platform remains largely unused. Some kind of public transport normal distribution comparison.

    Maybe my quality control is set too high. Maybe I should be throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I tried that with my Customer, Serviced posts, which I soon lost interest in.

    That’s the Long Tail theory, right? Instead of publishing a few precious – ‘quality’ – ideas, put it all out there, and I’ll find demand that I hadn’t anticipated.

    We’ll see. Until I better self-manage, I’m inclined to keep my mouth shut.

  • Defining Decisions

    Deciding to be yourself is scary. There’s no one to follow, and well, what if they don’t like me? But if you can make that bet, the act of actually being you is easy. All you have to do is wake up in the morning.

    This afternoon, I watched a tiny spider trying to climb its near-invisible silk. As far as I could tell, its intention was to climb the thread to the top and reach safety. A slight breeze affected those intentions. After battling the draft for a few minutes, the spider lost out. It landed on the ground, far from its desired destination.

    You could fight the breeze your whole life. Or you could position yourself to sidestep it altogether.

    Ryan wrote about defining yourself in the above quote. Glenn wrote in a comment on that entry:

    People are vulnerable to the influences of others for a very specific reason; peer pressure doesn’t just strike randomly.

    My message isn’t to find yourself. Or to closely monitor the crowd you’re a part of. Those are tired, common maxims.

    John commented on one of my entries that social networking sites have provided an unmatched insight into their users’ psyches. Upon registering, you’re immediately presented with myriad opportunities to define yourself. Interests. Location. About you. Education and employment history.

    Of course, there’s a reason why you’re presented with these options. We tend to want to place each other into distinct boxes. It’s how we make sense of the world. The conflicts begin when your definitions become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The inherent problem with defining yourself based on a handful of universal markers – birthplace, location, hobbies, dress style – is that you’re constantly open to misinterpretation. If you define yourself as an engineering student who loves to drink and party, you’re expected to adhere to those definitions at all times. Most people can’t look beyond this fundamental attribution error.

    It’s hard. I loathe defining myself.  That tagline at the top of the page? It’s bullshit. So is the slightly elaborated descriptor here. Defining yourself based on a handful of interests or accomplishments marginalises the million other thoughts you have each day.

    You are what you do. I disagree with that statement in the context of study or employment. You know what I mean. You’re at a party. Someone asks you what you do. What they mean, of course, is what you study. Or where you work. You respond, and a bunch of assumption seeds are planted in their head, before your eyes.

    I’m not trying to pretend that I’m above any of this.

    Play the game. Humour those who try to pigeonhole you. Never understate your inner values.