Bringing you my favourite reads, films and listens for the week. If you have any good books, movies, shows, recipes or podcasts to share, I’m always looking for good new stuff. Let me know of your finds in the comments!
What I’m Reading
The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse – Sam Sheridan
I was really impressed with “The Fighter’s Mind”, so I decided to check out Sheridan’s appearances on various podcasts and discovered that his most recent book, “The Disaster Diaries” deals with the topic of post-apocalyptic survival.
In “Disaster Diaries”, the author subjects himself to a range of training missions in the hopes of becoming a proficient survivalist.
Anyone familiar with the writings of Neil Strauss may have read “Emergency” whereby Neil attempts the same thing. However, where Neil was the ultimate bookish nerd operating way beyond his depth and more out of a sense of journalistic curiosity, Sam realises the inevitable certainty of a long overdue cataclysmic societal changing event. Only the strong and prepared will purposefully shift the odds of survival in their favour.
“When it comes to a survival situation we don’t rise to occasion or the level of threat, but instead sink to the level of our training….there’s no combat fairy that will wave a wand and make you suddenly capable of handling things you’ve never practiced before.”
Training builds the repetitive neural pathways that aids in the automaticity of unconscious action and provides a level of inoculation to the stress.
Sheridan is no stranger to extreme situations or hard training. Already a seasoned traveller in some of the world’s most treacherous locations and a hardened fighter who’s experienced some of the best instruction from a variety of training camps and coaches. The guy is pure alpha and intelligent as hell to boot.
As one of the legion of unprepared, I really enjoyed Sheridan’s varied experiences in this book. This is not a how to guide, but it will give the reader some jump-off points on areas in which they can begin to take action in building up their own mental and physical survival toolkits.
As well as being a fantastic story teller, Sheridan also draws from a range of related survival and psychological literature providing a solid research and experience component to each chapter.
If the most important resource in your survival kit is the people around you, then I would definitely want Sheridan as part of my crew. It’s a great book, check it out.
Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life: Ron Clarke
This book comes off more as a rant piece against former colleagues than the thinly veiled educational management book it purports to be.
Without stating the obvious, Clarke unintentionally takes the reader for a tour ride on the darker side of intra-organizational drama-queen politics. Clarke doesn’t show how to move the bus as much as how to throw people under it. He attacks any number of former colleagues and staff members for the most minor of infractions acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Starting out as a rookie teacher 10 years ago, Ron Clark was a real inspiration. – but since moving from the classroom to being the “CEO” of his own “academy” (not a school mind you), name featured prominently on the letterhead, Clarke seems to have made the transition from inspiring classroom teacher to being one helluva egotistical, whiny, bitchy-bitch hung up on counting widgets and micromanaging human resources via the vehicle of his own ego-driven project.
Since going fully corporate, no one’s as good as old Ron, and his anecdotes ooze with self aggrandizing hubris on every page of this gripe piece.
The premise is simple. An organisation (the bus), is usually comprised of many different types of people. “Runners” are your superstars. “Riders” are the people who do the job, but are mostly coasting along. “Walkers” are the dead weight dragging down the bus. Clarke’s prescription for success centres around throwing as many man hours as humanly possible to build a better school while presumably paying peanuts and rallying the team under the rhetorical rallying cry of “Do It For Da Kids!”
While I acknowledge that it takes dedication and time to being a great teacher, most “normal” people with well rounded lives will find themselves operating at better levels of performance and efficiency if they strike some semblance of balance in their lives. Ron instead labels these kinds of people in his book as “walkers and riders” (aka. “slackers) Rather than developing and supporting these “lesser beings”, they should instead be pressured to leave or turfed out at the first opportunity so that resources can be better channelled to the “runners” – i.e. “Clarke’s Clone-bots”.
Teaching is about self sacrifice – not self crucifixion, no matter what this “Gospel of Ron” might otherwise preach. But Clarke, much like other “uber educators” such as Rafe Esquith, sacrifice every waking hour to teaching and believe that everyone else in the field should do likewise. Unless you have the same manic drive and energy – in their eyes you need to step aside for the next wave of keen recruits ready to serve up their standadised curriculum. Welcome to the McDonaldisation of education, folks.
Teachers are drawn from all walks of life, unique in their personalities and pedagogies – some are the quiet, reserved and on the surface, less energetic (than Ron) type. Not every lesson needs to be a singing, dancing, Broadway production. Connecting with the kids minus the gimmick is difficult in the short run, but just as effective and sustainable in the end, given a level of true passion and solid pedagogy.
In short, I’m no longer a Clarke fan. The guy performs his schtick and does it well. I’ve no doubt he’s touched and inspired the lives of many children he’s come in contact with and is a remarkable teacher. But, his condescending and derogatory remarks towards other staff members in this book is a weak, cheap, bullying move considering the person being attacked has no recourse of reply.
The book represents a model of Educapitalism at its worst. Employees aren’t automatons Ron – and your bus shouldn’t be a running roughshod over the people you deem as undeserving of a seat.
What I’m Watching
A serene Japanese film about a guy selling a popular snack called dorayaki (a pancake based sweet). He hires a 76 year old woman who requests work at his humble store when she promises to teach him her secret recipe for “an” (a sweet red bean paste) and an endearing relationship between the two develops.
A nostalgic watch for me since I lived in Japan for two years and recall that snack fondly. I found the simple story-line enchanting and the understated performances quite beautiful.
WhoTo Invade Next?
Michael Moore’s latest polemic puts paid to the prevailing belief of American exceptionalism by holding a number of its failing social and political systems up to the light of contrast with their more sustainable, (*cough*, socialist) European counterparts.
Interesting enough but typical cornball Moore. I always enjoy Mike’s provocative documentaries despite finding him an overly awkward on-screen presence.
What I’m Listening To
Sigma Nutrition Podcast Number 121
An unlikely topic for a nutrition based podcast and an even more unlikely area of specialisation. This show’s guest, Dr. Graeme Close provides fascinating insight into the world of competitive horse racing and the extreme methods jockeys employ to make the murderous weight cuts for their sport. Their brutal techniques and time spent dieting makes bodybuilding contest prep resemble a picnic in the park.
This is one of Lennon’s best podcasts to date. The guy is a superb interviewer and this is a must-listen to channel if you’re interested in evidence based nutritional science in the field of sports and human performance.
Dan Carlin – Hardcore Histories
if you haven’t heard of Carlin’s history series you probably don’t listen to podcasts, hate history or simply live under a rock. With his hypnotic radio DJ voice, no one imparts the facts and stories of antiquity in the same way quite like Dan. His retellings are simply spellbinding, tremendously “sticky” in a learning sense and demand multiple replays.
Quote of the Week
“In Sean’s mind, all of the best sports science, the longitudinal, twenty-to-thirty-year studies, came out of the USSR. Under totalitarianism, coaches could control all the variables. Athletes were fed the same thing, experimented on in the same way, with the same drugs.
“And then there’s talent recognition: in China, once a kid is picked for their sport, they live in a dormitory and go home twice a year to see their parents.” Sean shook his head in wonderment at how great a system that was.”
The Disaster Diaries: Sam Sheridan
Recipe of the Week
Forget those waste of money, nitric oxide supplements. Nothing gives me better pumps in the gym than this bite sized, secret little weapon. It’s probably the concentration of fats in each ice-cube sized serving, but I also feel a tremendous surge of energy and head-clearing clarity pre-workout when I eat one of these.
I’ve used the recipe direct from the “creator” of Phat Fudge, who now produces and markets her own line of product. Very simple, quick to make and incredibly delicious.
1 cup tahini
1 cup grass fed butter or ghee
1/4 cup cacao
1 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp maca
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cayenne
In a sauce pan, melt butter/ghee and whisk in tahini followed by the honey until it’s all well mixed.
Add the rest of the ingredients in no particular order and continue to whisk until you’re left with a chocolate sauce.
Pour the sauce into the icecube tray.
Freeze for a couple of hours until ready to eat.