Monday, January 1, 2018

The Asocial Blog

Philip Pugh's Asocial Blog

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I always thought of myself as a social person, first down the Student Union Bar. 40 years later I have no idea how much a pint of beer costs in a pub. Do they even serve pints these days, or is it half-litres? That’s what I mean by being “asocial”. Being anti-social is deliberate sabotage of other peoples’ lives, like vandalising bus timetables, smashing windows and all that. I’m certainly not that, nor do I wish to be. I simply do not meet people in a traditional social setting. At first, I thought it was me, that I was somehow different and not inherently likeable. Well I do have personality traits that many people find uninteresting or irritating but just name one person who doesn’t, not that I’m using that in any way as an excuse. No, I’ve come to the conclusion that we now live in a very asocial society (is it even a “society” any more?). I’m just an example and not an exception.

Firstly, social life pretty much went out of the window when our daughter was born. No, I do not regret having her, nor do I regret putting her first but, as a result, my wife and I neglected ourselves. Secondly, I live far from my birth family and even further than my in-laws, actually the other side of the Atlantic and the equator. We have friendships here that we value very much and they know we are here for them and vice-versa. Thirdly, it is impossible to meet friends down the pub or visit anyone when you are part-way round the world on a business or, for that matter, packing for one or unpacking from one! But I’m online a lot and I do interact with people through work, so I do have a social comment, even though I am asocial.
 

I've Been Busy May 23rd 2018

 
I haven't posted anything here for ages. It isn't as if there hasn't been anything important going on, like Brexit, Ball Tampering, #MeToo and the like, not to mention some rather strange omissions from the England World Cup squad. I've been busy, too busy. I see there's a book out called "Busy is the New Stupid". Of course, I've been too busty to read it and would also need to justify the cost of buying it, as I'm on a restricted budget. The latter helps me justify the fact that I haven't read it. Do I even NEED to read it? Maybe not, the title says it all.
 
For about 300 or more years, humankind has developed loads of labour-saving devices and automation has meant that machines can increasingly take over tasks that humans can do. So that means we can only work four hours a day. Instead, some professions are working increasingly more hours. We have developed a culture of presenteeism. Come on, be honest, who has not sent the boss an e-mail just before bedtime to create an impression of presenteeism? Of course, the boss can see through it, just as his boss can see through all the e-mails sent from your boss and a few that he/she has forwarded for good measure. In the workplace, being busy or pretending to be is highly important. When it comes to downsizing, offshoring or any other jargonese for reducing the workforce, the employer would not dare dispense with the services of a busy person? Well it sort of makes sense but, no, I have heard of someone who literally had no work to do for 18 months! His boss wanted to retain his expertise, liked him and did not wish to get rid of him. Most important of all, his boss could AFFORD to keep him. There was no financial pressure to reduce costs.
 
Unfortunately, this culture has spilled over into our private lives. By being "indispensible" to our families, we are needed. Also we can easily be "busy" to avoid tackling chore that we would rather avoid. For several weeks, I have been feeling that the world is turning too fast and I can't keep up with it. I have a "to-do" list as long as my arm. Due to my personality, many chores I avoid until I know that I have enough spare time to complete them without interruption. I just hate leaving things half-done. I have an agenda that is important to me and I like to tick all of the boxes before I need to help deal with someone else's. Sounds selfish and single-minded, yes, but many of my agenda items (probably over half) are jobs that others are too tired, don't have the right skillset or are just too busy to do.
 
Are all of the things that keep me busy, urgent or even necessary at all? I don't need to maintain a social media presence to improve my status in the world. I need it to promote my writing. Whatever any writer will tell you about their "art", we all want to receive more money from writing. Well that's it for now. I have an important appointment for my day job. I'm busy.
 

Walk-On Girls

 So yes, it is like two sides of a coin. Feminists claim that parading female beauty (or perhaps, in their eyes, female sexuality) is demeaning to women. The girls feel that they are being denied a source of income. So who is right?
Miss World, F1 girls, you name it, they have all come under fire. Yet, unlike many porn stars, nobody is forcing these girls to take part in these events. Besides, this is neither porn nor bare sexuality. They are being paid and, usually, quite well. If they are being objectified, it is of their own free will.
Now would I mind if I was objectified for my looks? Not a bit, although whatever looks I might have had have long gone. However, that is not really the point. In general, women do not usually objectify men in the same way that men objectify women, so my view is more hypothetical. I fully support the right of women to look at naked men but, honestly, the main “market” for pictures of “sexy” men is the gay community. Would I mind being “objectified” by a gay man? No, not really. Gay men have as much right to objectify men as lesbians have the right to objectify women. Yet, it is undeniable and an inconvenient truth, that men are the main objectifiers, so perhaps the feminists have a point.
As I’ve become older, I have separated the idea of beauty from “sexiness”. Maybe it came as the result of growing up and being dad to a young woman. Is parading female beauty objectifying? I say no but parading female sexiness is. Is it morally wrong? Perhaps but only because men are not objectified to the same extent. There is a fundamental difference between the genders in this way. Yet, is it the willing, paid participants who are being exploited or the (mostly) men as the consumers?
Would I like my daughter to appear on Page 3? Not on your nelly!  But I would defend her right to do so if that was her choice.
 

Stokesgate http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/42533216

 

This is crass lunacy on so many levels. Firstly, there are fights in and outside pubs and nightclubs very weekend in this country. Why does it take more than three months to investigate an alleged fight outside a nightclub? Surely the police and judicial system have got several centuries worth of experience of dealing with these sort of things? I've seen some speculation as to what happened, yet seen nothing to confirm or deny it.
 
I always thought people were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Now, if someone is in the public eye, they are "tried and convicted" by the press and if they are proven innocent, well there is "no smoke without fire" is there? Didn't he hire a great solicitor who could get him off?
 
Then what about the England and Wales Cricket Board? The Aussies must be laughing their heads off at us. Perhaps Ben Stokes was unwise to be outside a nightclub after 2 AM. As far as I know there was no grievous bodily harm and if they ever jailed everyone who ever got involved in a bit of fisticuffs, over half of the adult male population would be in clink. No, I'm not excusing it and I'm not condoning it but a fight outside a nightclub is hardly in the same class as armed robbery, terrorism or causing death by drunk driving. If the judicial system couldn't get their act together and knock the issue on the head BEFORE the start of the Ashes, then why was Ben Stokes not allowed to play? Perhaps he should have been suspended from vice-captain, at least until it was resolved.
 
As it was, this lunacy cost England one of their top players. Few might speculate that we would have saved the Ashes even if he played but even the Aussies would feel that the team that they beat wasn't a full strength one and the victory was somewhat hollow. Has this been in the public interests and the interests of the game of cricket? Not a hope?
 

January 17th Minister for Loneliness

 
 
Government gimmick or a genuine attempt to deal with an increasing problem? Whichever your view, loneliness is real and it won't go away in a hurry.

Aside from the devastation that most of us feel following a bereavement or relationship break-up, there is the feeling that many people do not have much contact with others. Honestly, I think that the problem has always been with us but has become much worse. Unlike the USA, people in the UK have traditionally been reluctant to migrate far from where they grew up. However, people have become more willing to move to better jobs, cleaner air, less traffic, more entertainment, cheaper housing and a million and one other reasons. Cheaper 'phone calls and the internet have helped people keep in touch with friends and family but, quite often, intra-country migrants do not make many new friends after they move. Despite labour-saving devices, people are more busy with longer working hours, longer commutes and the financial necessity of needing two full-time incomes to support a family.

Using myself as an example, I have a small circle of people that I see often. Those of you who remember George Best, will know that he was not only a great footballer but also a great social personality. Yet he once said that he only had six really close friends. If we are close to a small number of people, the loss of one can have a profound impact.
 
I think we have lost our sense of local community over they years but was it ever really there? Perhaps in pockets of the UK but not to the extent it is portrayed on telly. I think most people experience loneliness at some stage in their lives. Is there a cure and will having a minister for it make any difference? The jury is out.
 

January 21st Halesgate like Stokesgate

 
Another daft situation where a cricketer was suspended for non-cricket-related incidents: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/42762619. Would a shop assistant be suspended from their job for being involved in a fight on a night out???
 
 
 

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