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Friday, May 14, 2010

My two pence

Two Pence
Originally uploaded by Karen Roe
Is it political correctness gone mad, this trend in online communication to put a disclaimer to any thought by prefacing it with "in my opion" or, worse yet, "in my humble opinion"? I actively dislike it, and so does Amber Naslund, whose article is a must read if you share the sentiment that, if you care to have an opinion, you might as well stand by it, instead of hiding behind meaningless phrases.

Being clear and direct does not equate to being rude, aggressive and personal. Because, if you are, then no amount of IMOs and IMHOs are going to change that. Likewise, if you are not (rude, aggressive and personal) why would you want to cheapen your own words?

"The world is full of ambivalence, of risk mitigation, of qualified statements and milquetoasts and deliberate middle ground. And while I don’t think you need to kick up dirt just for the sake of it, we’d all do well to demonstrate that if we believe our thoughts worthy of public air, we have the courage to take ownership of them, too." (A.Naslund)

I like this idea of owning up, not just of your opinions (goes without saying) but also of your thoughts and feelings. Too often we hide behind euphemisms, and lack the courage to call things by their real name--to tell it like it is, even if only to ourselves.

I'm even willing to go as far and say that owning up to your thoughts/feelings is a true act of heroism (as defined by Ruslan in his post long time ago) because there is a sacrifice involved, and what you sacrifice is (often) a nice image you have of yourself, when you have turned the mirror of honesty towards you. To face your weakness and your imperfect self without reaching for the sugar-coating of euphemistic (and untrue) explanations--there is your hero.

In my humble opinion, that is.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekend of sleeping under the stars?

After surprising everyone--including myself--with that bike ride from Szentendre to Budapest (22km of cycling, a few more of pushing uphill), I agreed to a weekend of hiking, trekking and sleeping outdoors somewhere in Peak District where there is no mobile reception.

It must have been a moment of temporary insanity because I hate sleeping in a tent and have adamantly refused to try again after that one camping attempt in Croatia (claustrophobic tent, rocky surface, bugs, 78C in midday and no hot water--sleeping under the stars is overrated).

Except this time there will not even be a tent... gulp. Everyone has to create their own shelter and sleep in it for two days (something tells me that this might change my sentiment about tents).

That is actually the whole point of the exercise because this is not an ordinary (if weird) weekend in the nature but a challenge in which teams compete while doing fun stuff and all of that to raise money for charity. I'm really looking forward to the walking-in-the-hills bit and team games (this family does not lack competitive spirit) but the shelter making part really worries me.

We are supposed to bring our own recyclable shelter parts to the event site and I can imagine the look on the faces of airport staff as I argue that a bunch of cardboard boxes and nylon are absolutely necessary for my trip to the U.K. Plus, I am completely incapable of doing anything with my hands other than typing (ok, cooking too, but you see my point).

So, I think I need help. Who's willing to join me in this adventure and save me from the embarassment (and inconvenience) of sleeping under the stars quite literally? There is still time to register for the event (June 11-13) and if you live in the U.K. getting there is not a problem (the nearest train station is Edale).

Spud? Polly? Anyone?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why I love Jose Mourinho

Serie A
Originally uploaded by tpower1978
He is (c)rude, confrontational and arrogant, with a charisma of a pit bull terrier. He seems to thrive on conflict, conspiracy theories, and making enemies. If he listened to Serbian turbo folk, there's a line from a song he could easily adopt as a motto: "those who don't like us can only hate us" (sounds infinitely better in Serbian)--fits great with his quarrelsome personality.

But all of that is completely irrelevant in the light of his coaching skills--he might be evil, but he's an evil genius. For a guy who started out as an interpreter (something that Barca fans like to remind him of contemptuosly) he came a very long way.

Whatever it is that makes a great coach, he's got it. Who would have thought he would take Inter to the finals of the Champion's League (something that hasn't happened in 38 years)? I am awed by this ability to take a pretty mediocre team and parachute it to success and glory.

I also find his complete lack of PC quite disarming. Why should a football coach be slick like a banker and sleazy like a politician? I am increasingly irritated by the reign of political correctness and its celebration of well-packaged mediocrity over unpolished competence--not just in football.

So what if Mourinho is an arrogant bastard? He has every right to be. Go Jose!