Hey! Public Libraries:

Hey! Public Libraries: I don’t know if you’ve realised this, but books are now worthless.
Yeah, sorry to break this to you, I feel that somebody should tell you the truth. Because like the smart-ass know-it-all with the cheating partner, you appear to be the last to know. You’re still stuck in denial, everyone else has been angry, accepted it and moved on. I know there was a time when you were the shit,

See, I remember you when you were
The young new face but you do like to slumber don’t you hon.

Azealia Banks – 212

back when books were worth something and you were exclusive.
In 1964 a hardback novel cost approximately 0.05% of the average weekly wage. Today? 0.0005% that’s a 100 fold decrease. Today I can walk into anyone of a dozen shops in my town and walk out with armfulls of books for free. I can find a shop on my high street who’ll happily give me a box of books without charging me. Imagine what they’d do to you if you were to walk out of a shop with an armfull of books you’d not paid for back in 1964. A few hundreds of years ago, only god knew/knows who could read. At that time, you could be tortured and executed for knowing how to read, for having a book. Imagine trying to walk out of a library then, piled up with books you’d not paid for, assuming you had the keys to the locks and chains.
Yes these illustrations are exaggerations, exaggerated not to prove a point, to orient a general direction. Towards ubiquitousness of information, from scarcity. Information accretes increasingly, like a black hole with unlimited fuel within its’ event horizon. That’s why my illustrations are exaggerated. Like the fabled King Canute, except instead of standing in front of the incoming tide you are trying to stop the only force in the universe defying the second law of thermodynamics. I’m sure you have some romantic notion of history and heritage when you’re say you’re saving books, stop it, shit’s embarrassing. You’re so far behind the curve you actually think you’re ahead of it.
Look at yourself, what does a public library look like? The same as it did in ’64, you doubt me? In 1964 fully two-thirds of the UK’s population used the library on a regular, monthly basis. The most recent studies suggest barely a third of population uses the library annually. Tempus-fucking-fugit folks. Tempus-fucking-fugit, library non.

Winning

Anger is an energy, so Mr Lydon would have us believe and whilst anger and hate are close, the rewards from harvesting anger are great. Love, indifference, anger and hate cycle in a loop where at twelve o’clock hate turns into love, which dilutes into indifference, concentrates into anger, sterilises into hate before it turns into love and we start the whole fucking thing again.

I opened this blog with a reference to a loop for a very specific purpose, to talk about historical military strategy. As historical military strategy isn’t normally a subject I associate closely with, mainly because they’re all fucking hired killers, I have to ease you, and myself into it. If I were to launch straight into a tirade about how Boyd was the most influential hate monger ever, I’d end up like him. If I can point out how the most complete understanding of the human condition, the dynamics of the personal/interpersonal and id/ego, came from this same mind, I may be able to capture your attention whilst it’s receptive.

Boyd56

Colonel John R Boyd (notice only a colonel’s rank) flew the first generation of jet fighter in the Korean war. He never fired his guns and never made a kill. Yet he was America’s, and by extension the world’s, greatest warrior. Have you seen the Tom Cruise film Top Gun? Cruise’s character wants to be Boyd, but Maverick(pphhht)’s not strong enough, is too much of a wimp, so he ends up with the girl. Boyd taught, wrote the book and for all intents and purposes was the US Air Force Weapons School, where Top Guns is. He literally wrote the book for them, their tactics manual, the Energy Maneuverability Theory, A Discourse on Winning and Losing, Destruction and Creation. These are now standard military strategy texts across the globe and at their core is what’s at the core of this blog post. OODA, Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

OODA-Loop2

When Boyd was flying sorties during Korea as a wingman, he observed each engagement with relative detachment. When the other pilots were celebrating their 10 to 1 kill (actually closer to 2:1 but still) ratio over the commie bastards, congratulating themselves on their superiority, Boyd orientated himself differently. He decided that maybe there was another reason for their success. Accepting the enemy had equal advantages, he acted. He grafted both plane’s data and noticed two irregularities, one a chance design flaw, the other a design advance. The American F-86 was equal to or inferior to the communist MiG15’s weapons, acceleration, speed and a host of other attributes. But, the F-86 pilot had significantly better visibility, due to a cockpit with more glass. The American plane also had advanced hydraulic controls allowing quicker transition between maneuvers.

These two observations, oriented as they were by reams of technical data, led Boyd to decide on a course of action that would change his and your life forever. Boyd’s insight into human interaction our Jungian collective unconscious , his OODA loop, begins with his observation about observation whilst observing. His observation was that because of the visibility advantage, the American’s had a better chance of seeing the MiG-15’s before the MiG’s pilot saw them. A better chance of orienting themselves into a position where their decisions would allow the actions necessary to get inside their opponents loop, and with faster OODA cycles, win. From the initial observation the win was inevitable, the compulsion for the MiG’s pilot to make a self-deleterious action almost an absolute. The German word is Zugzwang: a compulsion to move, when any move will worsen a position.

With the loop cycling, events gathered pace. Boyd took to studying seriously this idea, he went to college, read, listened and worked his idea. He also stole a couple of million dollars worth of computer  time for the necessary processing. Yup, stole millions of dollars worth of computer time from the US military, remember I said Colonel Boyd. This was a man who, when court martialed for breaking one of the USAF’s shiny new prototype planes, successfully turned defense into prosecution, demanding to be lauded for saving a lesser pilots life, ” I knew what I was doing when I broke it”. Irascible only hints at the reason Boyd didn’t succeed at the highly politicised Pentagon. Cartoon-like screaming at superior officers through teeth clenched around a burning cigar, leaning so far into his opponent’s personal space he burnt holes in their uniforms.

This is how we win. We get inside our opponents OODA loop by cycling our’s faster. To prove his point Boyd went on to win  every one of his simulated dogfights at the USAFWS against the best….of the best. From a position of disadvantage he’d inexorably and inevitably grind his opponent down and wrench victory, within 10 seconds. His “40 Second Boyd” nickname, tells you almost all you need to know about him.

As a way of winning war, this is impressive. Only Sun Tzu’s “Art of War “ is as essential. Fuck Clausewitz, because. What elevates the OODA Loop is it’s applicability. The theory’s simplicity encouraged it’s adoption outside of the military, business and sports quickly realised it’s potential. Boyd even spoke of his empathy with basketballer Michael Jordan when MJ described the supreme confidence of being in The Zone: “The basket appears to be six feet across.  [How can I miss a basket that large?]  The nine other players on the court seem to be moving in slow motion!”

I first came across the concept as a kid playing a Mirrorsoft combat flight simulator, forgot the game but remembered the advice. Some years later Hugh Laurie’s description in “The Gun Seller” brought it up again and eventually I got to Google OODA. Now I recognise the cycle’s ubiquity, I see loops everywhere. From the peer reviewed scientific method to the set up for a joke’s punchline. The same pattern of observe, orient, decide and act, played out in a myriad settings with dizzying levels of complexity. All drama, all art, all human interaction can be reduced to a series of loops and cycles, if you want to. The mathematics of Bach, Hitchcock’s reveals, or every god-damn soap opera ever.

A Dangerous Act

…….AAaaaaaaand it’s gone.

Our Crowdfunder failed, our glorious attempt to highlight the golden jubilee fell short. Fell short is an understatement, falling short is the political euphemism for a near miss. If something nearly misses something else, it hits it. A near miss is a fucking hit and we were off by %94.4

Only slightly more than one in twenty of the necessary pounds were raised, our message didn’t even reach one in ten of the required minimum number of ears. We needed more than ten times the numbers of tweets, emails, blogs and Facebook posts. We needed to put nearly twenty times the effort and expend nearly twenty times the energy to ensure success.

We are sorry and apologise to all those who believed. Are we still committed to the cause? Absolutely yes. Were we committed enough? Evidently no. However disheartening this is for those who advocated, applauded,  amplified, aided , abetted and actually pledged: it’s worse for us.

“Politics is draining” a friend said. I understood that as a reason I don’t want to politics and don’t want to climb career or social ladders. The post masturbatory spent emptiness is not an aspiration. I find maintaining a turgid demeanour in the face of the politically bukkakked, pointless. I work, I care for my boy, I have chores, I study and yeah I do slack off occasionally, not as much I have in the past, I will lurk in some dismal corners of the internet…..and there were times when I was so lonesome, I took some comfort there.

Well then Library Camp, now what? After the mental equivalent of being kicked in the crotch, we’re lying on our back cycling our legs in an attempt to relocate our nads. As the painful throbbing recedes, we realise that although we didn’t do enough, we did more than anyone else. And not just more, to recognise the golden jubilee of the Public Libraries & Museums Act, than anyone else, infinitely more than anyone else as no one else did anything else. I take some consolation from that, not enough to dull that throbbing pain, some. It’s almost as if, in ignoring the July 31st anniversary, some are saying that because  the Act is behind us, we are right and all will be right. That there is no argument, we need no change, we are perfect. Dangerous indeed, however exaggerated.

We take more consolation from the experience of failing, of getting back up, of learning what not to do next time. Most of all I take consolation from the new friends we’ve met because of the idea. That there are others…..who knows first and foremost the most vital necessity in this life is they know how to throw a PARTY!

 

Tooth and Nail

You can tell a lot about a person by, what Marshall Mcluhan could see as weapons, their teeth and their nails. Are they blunt, pitted and soiled. Or are they honed to a vicious perfection.

Gordon Brown, one of the most important persons in the UK for a considerable length of time, couldn’t not bite his nails. His mam surely clipped him round the ear many a time as a youth and told him to stop biting his nails. Friends, colleagues and no doubt random people on the fucking street told him to stop doing it, but he did it. He knew and understood it was wrong, but he did it. Barak Obama’s teeth are the equivalent of Pullman’s literary Subtle Knife; sharp enough to slit reality and slip through the cut. The junkies nails, the A listers teeth. Damaged and perfect, perfect and damaged.

The addict deliberately employs a variety of methods to blunt their weapons, biting nails and destroying teeth, conveniently dulling their wit. This lack of interest in maintaining the efficacy in our organic armoury is reflected in the appearance obsessed. Hours spent in front of one mirror or another for one reason or another.

One behaviour aggressively defensive, the other selflessly self destructive. I can’t quite bring myself to decide which I prefer.

 

Flappy Cocks

Flappy Cocks, there, that got your attention. If there’s one guaranteed way to get the attention of the majority of the public, it’s to wave a flappy cock about. Generally speaking, helicoptering your way across the stage at a Royal Variety Performance will draw the gaze of Joe Public. Just ask Steve Gough,  The Naked Rambler, barely a minute after being released from jail and he’s re-arrested for his flapping cock. He has had one conviction overturned, the Judge in question realised that arresting him before he actually offended anyone was validating his argument. If no-one paid any attention to our titular anatomical appendage, Steve Gough wouldn’t bother shaking his all up and down your local high street. Instead the majority of the public are unable to deal with his bits in the breeze and he must be put somewhere his hairy sack and flaccid womb broom can be handled by the authorities in a safe and responsible manner.

How strange. I can’t figure it out, one minute we’re offended by folk being forced to wear too many clothes and the next, handcuffing a pair of bouncing balls and a wobbly willy. The University of Michigan produced a startling report,

No burqa required: Muslim world weighs in on women’s dress

Which made the claim that the majority of the public in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt thought that women should not be able to choose their own clothing. It’s painful for me to find that out anyone anywhere should be forced to do anything. No-one should force anyone to do anything other than stop hurting themselves or anybody else. Hurting in the physical sense, not as a legal or moral issue.

It’s almost as if, even at the level of civilisation we’ve attained, we still have some unanswered issues.

What do points make? A disturbing sense of ennui

I try to inject an element of humour into most of my posts, I’m sure it’s a defense mechanism to deal with issues I don’t know I have. I find humour a great leveller. If I can make you laugh I know we’ve made a connection. You understood me enough to grant me a laugh, to let me know that for a moment we connected, I initiated and you responded in the way I want you to. In spite of the psychological subterfuge you carefully wrap around your precious, precious ego, I asked and you gave, you couldn’t control that. I won a point in our ego war, you must grant me that point. If I have more points at the end of the day then I win the war that day.