irony

Examples of political common sense and emphasis running in opposite directions…

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Major union strike activity in the UK before Jeremy Corbyn’s leftist Labour party has a chance to be elected in 2020 will probably frustrate UK voters to vote Tory in protest. Do the unions backing Mr Corbyn realise this?

Personally, I don’t think any political party genuinely enjoys invoking austerity measures on the voters. Most politicians aren’t ogres. Governments everywhere tend to enforce austerity measures for a very important reason. Because something serious has gone wrong with the economy. Households living beyond their household means eventually have to face the facts. So why should they expect their government to not lead by example on this?

Many children hate their parents for cutting off their privileges. But equally, don’t respect them when they’re inconsistent, refuse to set boundaries, or lack the courage to follow through on what they say. But that’s because they’re children. If adults were more rational, they’d probably have nothing but contempt for politicians (on all sides) who try to bribe them, just so the politician can win power in the short term. Instead of the Tory’s highlighting this, they’re focussing off austerity and onto ISIS bombing and the forthcoming EU in/out referendum.

A UK Labour party with self-awareness, courage and integrity would formally split into two distinct parties – a centre party and a leftist party. The leftist party could form a useful working coalition with the Socialist Unity Party, retain labour-union backing, reject Trident and UK membership of the EU. The centre party could form a useful coalition with the Liberal Democrats and embrace EU membership. Instead we have UK Labour Party identity drift.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party must be worried that are the leftist SMP voters (traditional Scottish Labour voters) who rejected Labour at the last general election, who will now shun SMP for the new leftist Labour party (that also wants to cancel Trident, end Tory austerity and wants independence, albeit from the EU). With the market value of North Sea oil continuing to drift downwards thanks to Middle East over-production, a viable independent Scotland is fading by the day. So what are the SMP doing? Trying to arrange a second independence referendum! Go figure.

Business imitating real life

We monitor and copy fashion, yet want to look distinctive and appealing. Companies monitor business trends, yet want to stand out from the competition.

We price-compare online, but take the things we get for free, for granted. Companies price-compare their competitor offerings, but put no value on the things they get for free.

We dress up to go out somewhere where people will judge us by our appearance, yet want to relate to those same people on a deeper level. Company employees wear business clothing to work somewhere that people will judge them by their appearance, yet need to relate to those same customers and work colleagues on a deeper level.

Fake it til you make it?

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Are people basically divided into two broad camps – the ‘fake it til you make it’ (the marketers & promoters) and the ‘keeping it real’ camp’?

‘Fake it til you make it’ is about projecting confidence, whether real or illusionary. It’s downside is arguably in making our social groups less cohesive and less real. ‘Fake it til you make it’ can be spectacularly successful – politicians, singers/rappers and A-list movie actors being examples of this. Ironically though, politicians campaign to solve real problems, rappers rap about their gritty own life struggle to success, whilst successful actors choose to star in movies that often have themes of real strength from overcoming adversity of some kind.

Some pioneering cultures have a phrase about ‘keeping it real’. Others talk about ‘keeping your feet firmly on the ground’ (unless you work for the weather service, the airlines, the navy, NASA or Virgin Galactic).The ‘keeping it real’ camp includes support groups, social workers, therapists, counsellors, teachers, coaches, trainers and assessors of all kinds. This camp arguably advocates that ‘struggling to succeed is simply walking the journey’ is what life is about and that being honest about this struggle helps us to build important bridges with fellow human beings. In the world of entertainment, reality shows are in theory about ‘keeping it real’, although programme directors inevitably choose hyping the truth over the reality, if if means improving the viewer ratings in a competitive industry.

What about in the field of design – which camp do designers fall into? Steve jobs said ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ In product design, great and successful designers don’t tolerate fake. They are obsessed with building amazing, perfection and excellence. In contrast, fine artists can excell at illusion in their art, folling the viewer’s eye into almost believing the two dimensional is actually the three dimensional. Or that the World shown within their art reveals a far more beautiful perspective on the World outside. Musical artists and actors generally want to create real. It’s the marketing staff of their companies that want auto-tune, edit and airbrush.

Whichever of the two camps a person falls into, perhaps real performance is still the key goal and ambition the driving force. Oscar Wilde famously said ‘all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.’ Life arguably isn’t about ‘suffer in silence’, ‘know your place’ and ‘mustn’t grumble’. It is about ‘be the best that you can be’, ‘dare to dream’, ‘give yourself a break’, ‘learn from your mistakes’, ‘recognise the perfect parent does not exist’,  ‘respect yourself’ and ‘strength through adversity.’

Lastly, somewhere along the line, as we switched from selling the products of our labour to selling the services of ourselves, the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra started to dominate, in business, in our romantic lives (as singles) and increasingly, everywhere else. How do we jolt ourselves out of that mantra?

Tory politics

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Make necessary economic changes and you’ll be labelled morally evil.

Make no changes and you’ll be labelled insensitive and indecisive.

Make fast cuts and you’ll be labelled racist, nationalist, evil or naive.

Try to cut back on illegal immigration and people will want you take correspondingly more Syrian refugees instead.

Make any speeches to explain or inspire and you’ll be branded ‘all talk, no action.’

Keep taxing London to fund the rest of the UK and Wales plus Scotland reward you by voting against the Tories on masse. For good measure, the youth of London, in their wisdom, vote against you as well!

The more you try to listen to the range of views inside the Tory party, the more anti-Tory voters brand all Tories as a force of evil.

Try to get support for EU reform and you’ll be branded idealistic and naive by UK voters and EU leaders alike!

Who would want to go into politics in any party, given the voter discontent no matter what happens.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions…

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If I want a quiet life, I better cave in and feed them junk food…

I’m feeling down about my body shape. I need that chocolate bar sitting in the fridge to cheer myself up.

When I get bored and feel like my life’s in a rut, I watch reality TV to see if those people can get out of the rut they’re in.

Each time my life gets too busy, I try to text everyone about how busy I am…

Vision statements

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Picture this. In my mind’s eye, the eye of the hurricane has the best view.

Developing a shared vision in advance (even if not completely clear), beats having the group having 20/20 vision in hindsight.

You have to stand back to see the wood for the trees. But if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do.

The best things and the worst things are often hidden in plain sight. So reach for the stars instead.

Social media relies on visual screens and filter screens alike.

Life isn’t measured by the breaths we take, but by the images (and moments) that take our breath away. That’s probably why we take so many photos.

The best way for a human designer to be inspired, is to see the beauty of nature first.

Machine Age Ironies of the Future

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The AI Therapist will see you now. And give you (unbiased?) therapy on how to cope with the loss of your job to industrial robots.

The self-driving car can drive itself incredibly safely to the destination. But has no need to go there.

School courses taught and facilitated by an intelligent network, to students to equip them for a World where human jobs are now obsolete.

A World of data and information, analysed and processed at the speed of machine thought. With trickle-down benefits, provided at human speed, to a society that can hardly comprehend the implications of the information on offer.

The investors in automation will capture the lion share of future value generated by exploiting the integration of the Internet of Things, Big Data, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Until the day the network becomes fully intelligent and redistributes all wealth to itself.