quotes ranting

The four drives

I am currently reading The Consolation of Philosophy [] by Boethius. And listening along to the Tolkien Professor’s [] Mythgard Academy podcast [] of their discussion.

In book two of Consolation, there is a discussion of what drives humans:

Some believe the highest good is being rich without want, so they toil to gain an abundance of wealth. Others think the good is winning the best reputation, so they seek the respect of their fellow citizens by obtaining honors. There are those who locate the highest good in the highest power. They want either to be rulers themselves or to ally themselves with those who are. To others the good seems to be the greatest fame, so they rush to spread their glorious name abroad by works of war or peace. But the largest portion measure the fruit of the good by sensual pleasure and joy. They suppose the happiest man abandons himself to pleasure. There are also those who confuse ends and means, like those who desire riches for the sake of power and pleasures, or who seek power for the sake of money or fame.

Boethius, from The Consolation of Philosophy, book 2, prose 2

This reminded me of something that a history teacher once said to me, and my whole class. I’m wondering now if they go the idea from Boethius, they never explained where it came from, and I think we were all too shocked to ask for more details. No doubt this is paraphrasing, as it was decades ago, and maybe it’s been refined over many retellings, but this is the essence of what they said:

Money, power, prestige and sex, are the four drive of the human race. Once basic needs are met, it is the desire to possess these four things that has shaped history.

History teacher who shall remain anonymous

If you have hung out with me for any significant length of time over the last three decades or so you have hear that, over coffee or beer or stronger. It has suck with me, I wonder if anyone else in the class remembers it?

Boethius actually lists five drives: wealth, reputation, power, fame and sensual pleasure, but it’s close enough. Reputation is as much of a function of the others as a goal itself. I wonder if my teacher had ever read Consolation?

Can you boil history down to money, power, prestige and sex? Probably not. But there are a lot of incidents in history, large and small, that are driven by these things. Wars over natural resources often boil down to money. Hunger for power has driven many a king, emperor or chancellor to conquest. Prestige? That’s a bit harder. But sex driving “history” is as old as the Trojan War.

There was actually a corollary to the four drives. It’s probably offensive, and it’s definitely sexist, and I debated even adding it here, since the internet never forgets and people will assume the worst about you. But for most of human history sexism was the default, and while no doubt this is a Reductio ad absurdum, it puts an interesting spin on the whole statement. Anyway, the corollary, added later by another friend is:

If you are a man; money, power and prestige are how you get sex. If you are a woman; sex is how you get money, power and prestige.

I told you it was sexist.

photography ranting

The Queen is dead, long live the King

As close as I’ll ever come to royalty, June 4th, 2002

So much for her immortality. 96 is a good run. 70 years as Queen. More than three generations. In any English speaking place The Queen refers only to her, and will for some time I expect. It will be a hard act to follow. And maybe it’s time to put an end to the whole thing, send the monarchy out while it’s on top.

I took the photo above on June 4, 2002 [], when the UK was celebrating The Queen’s 50th Jubilee. Stumbled on the motorcade a few blocks from the Guildhall. I was literally 6 meters from The Queen. Amazing.



Realse Date
August 27, 1996

ATLiens [] by OutKast is my favorite rap album (although Ill Communication [] could give it a run for it’s money, I love me some Beastie Boys). It came out at the end of summer the year I graduated from high school. I didn’t leave my home town for college like many of my friends and over the next year I spent many hours riding around Charlottesville, mostly with M█ who introduced me to the album. I can still remember how it felt to turn it up with 2000 watts and a couple of 12 inch subwoofers in the trunk… of my 1992 Toyota Camry. White boy in a Camry, not exactly a gansta.

Like most people outside of the deep south ATLiens was my first taste of southern rap. At the time MTV and the radio were filled with East Coast and West Coast gangsters. Previously, M█, who was my biggest influence as far as rap music is concerned, introduced me to both A Tribe Called Quest [] and Pharcyde []; Midnight Marauders [] or Low End Theory [] could make an appearance on this list. But Outkast, and ATLiens, was a different sound, mellow and laid back, more bass heavy and filled with dub and reggie influences that I don’t remember from from other rap of the time (not that I would have recognized those influences then).

I love André 3000 and Big Boi’s flows are awesome, and the southern accent was something new. I think the southern accent, the Atlanta accent, especially Big Boi’s works in a way I can’t describe. While I generally prefer André’s raps, I prefer the sound of Big Boi’s flow. Today I hear echos of it in Killer Mike on Run the Jewels [] tracks.

As far as my favorite tracks on the ablum go, 13th Floor/Growing Old and Elevators (You and Me), Wheelz of Steel and Jazzy Belle all stand out. And You may die, the intro is one of the best ever intro tracks for me.

ATLiens was the first rap album where the beats, independent of the songs made an impression on me. I even have an instrumental version of this album. Jazzy Belle is one my favorite beats ever. And I think owning and listening to the instrumentals was my first experience with what we would call lofi today, and a key influence on my later journey into both DJ Shadows early work and Jazz in general.

Ready to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify:

photography travel

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea, Israel/Palestine, June 2022

I’ve been visiting Tel Aviv for work since 2007 [], and despite the assertion in that first post that my wife would join me, my family has never been. So, in late May when my boss asked me to go again for work I decided to take the family. It was a bit last minute, but we were trying to decide what, if any, travel to do in the June school holidays. After more than two years of not traveling everyone in my family was itching to get out of Singapore. We travel a lot, Singapore is such a small place that you have to show your passport to go more then 20 kilometers in any direction from 0ur house. The last travel we did was in March 2020, we were two days in Bali [] during the spring school holidays when Singapore decided to shut the border so we had to rush back in the madness of early COVID.

Church of the Holy Sepelchre

So everyone was eager to get out and see some things, eat some different food, breath some different air. Israel has amazing beaches so I booked a place on the beach in southern Tel Aviv, not too far north of Jaffa. Expensive at that height of the summer, a side effect of the amazing Mediterranean beaches, and I didn’t even realize we book the week of Pride, so their is also that. I would have been an experience to watch the parade from our balcony, but for the first time ever the parade was not along the boardwalk. Any other year we would have been in an amazing space to watch the parade but this year they moved it due to construction or something. Oh well. We did try to get to the parade but the public transport was crazy and we were late so we eventually gave up.

Anyway, we didn’t go to see those sights. We hit key required first time in the Holy Land sights. We spent a day in Jerusalem, seeing the old city; the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepelchre, shopping in the markets of old Jerusalem. We even made the trip across town to Yad Veshem.

Yad Vashem

I have to say, Yad Veshem was not as interesting experience as I thought it would be. I think the impact of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC was much deeper, as a non-Jew I found it much more moving. Yad Veshem came across as too sterile a history lesson, no the personal story that the Holocaust Museum felt like. Also, they would not let my younger daughter go to the museum, they don’t allow kids under 10 to enter, which I must have missed when I booked the tickets. She was 1 month short of her tenth birthday. They wouldn’t budge, so she and my wife had to sit out while my older daughter and I went through the main exhibit. So, maybe I was just not in the mood, I was a bit pissed, both my daughters have been to Anne Frank House, and I don’t see why this sort of history should be off limits to people of any age when accompanied by a parent. This is history, they may not comprehend it but history, good or bad, is not some Hollywood movie that should be hidden behind age restrictions and ratings.

We did the required dip in the dead sea. Mud bath that bobbing up and down for a while then getting the hell out of the heat. It was 35°C in the shade. We opted not to go to Masada where the forecast high was close to 50°C.

Praying at the Western Wall

So we spent most of the rest of the week swimming in the ocean. My kids have been to the ocean in Bali and in Phuket before but the sand and surf in Israel is on another level, closer to Surfers Paradise in Australia —another place they have been but they were 4 years old and 6 months old so they don’t really remember, (mental note to self time to go back). The beach in Singapore is not worth visiting for swimming, if there were ever great beaches in Singapore they were sacrificed to the gods of commerce in the name of progress long ago. The sand is imported from Indonesia and Malaysia and is corse and dirty due to the flotilla of commercial shipping vessels constantly mored off the coast of Singapore. East Coast park is good for a BBQ or a bike ride but the beach is not something to write home about. A pity, we live less than 2 kilometers from a beach, in the tropics, but… C’est la vie.

All, in all, the kids enjoyed the trip. They enjoyed it so much they said, “lets go every June!”. I’ll have to work on my boss about that one.

One last note, I will get flack about the title and featured image of this post; “Israel/Palestine” will please no one and irritate some. But until there is a mutual peace between the people who call it one and the people who call it the other I’ll stick to calling it both.

You can see the full Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea, Israel and Palestine, June 2022 [] photoset on Flickr.


Dusty in Memphis [Deluxe Edition]

Dusty Springfield
Realse Date
January 18, 1969
Deluxe Edition Reissue Date

The original version of Dusty in Memphis [] was released in 1969, almost a full decade before I was born and more then two decades before I got into music. I guess a normal path to this album would be one of my parents listening to it when I was young, but as far as I know neither of my parents were ever fans. My mother was mainly into Elvis [], and the less rocky stuff and listened to a lot of country music, both classic, for which I have some appreciation, and contemporary (at the time I was growing up) for which I have no appreciation —none at all… Meanwhile my dad was into mostly classical music, lots of Boston Pops [] LPs and the soundtracks, from Star Wars [] to Victory at Sea [].

So how did I find it? Pure serendipity. I stumbled across this “deluxe” reissue [] in a used CD shop in Angel, London. I bought two albums that day that both became favorites (the other was Faithless’ Back to Mine). Between the two of them they are the soundtrack of London in my mind. Not that I didn’t listen to other music but I associate these albums with London, wondering around the city, sitting my my tinny dorm room on Bastwick street.

I don’t know why I bought Dusty in Memphis, I don’t think I even listened to it at the shop, at least I don’t remember listening to it. But I listened to it a lot the rest of my time in London and many, many times since then.

The deluxe version contains the whole original Dusty In Memphis release, that’s 11 songs, plus 14 more. From the beginning I listened to this album start to finish on repeat. Of the original album songs Son of a Preacher Man was the most popular, it charted in the US and UK according to Wikipedia [], though they note the album itself was a commercial failure. It’s been covered several times and I knew it from its use in Pulp Fiction []. It’s a great song. The Windmills of Your Mind and In the Land of Make Believe are my other favorites of the original 11. Windmills is one of my all time favorite songs, period. It’s amazing.

In the deluxe section my favorite songs are What do You do when Love Dies, Willie & Laura Mae Jones, Have A Good Life Baby, and Natchez Trace.

The whole album has a melancholic, bluesy feeling. Great to listen to on a rainy day or alone in the dark. Both things I did a lot in London.

The last thing that must be said about my experience with Dusty in Memphis is it’s association with rabbits. I wrote about it before [], but in short, I was obsessed with Dusty in Memphis and listened to it on endless repeat while reading Watership Down [] when I was in London and now every time I listen to it I can see rabbits in my mind. Anytime I think about Watership Down I can hear these songs. Its a strange association, but there it is.

Want to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify. Note that the full “Deluxe” version is not on Spotify, or at least I can’t find it, but here is a 19 track version: