Friday, September 27, 2013

Alpha vs. Omega: A Couple of British Spies

Hello again! This month on ALPHA VS. OMEGA, we feature a couple of fictional British spies.


James Bond, first of all, must be the WORST secret agent ever -- introducing himself by name to virtually everyone he meets, and what's more, saying it twice.

In keeping with this utter lack of secrecy, he seems to be constantly getting into public gunfights and fistfights and car chases. Also chases ass constantly, which often leads him into traps (and usually leads to the girl getting killed.)

"Secret" is not much a part of THIS agent. Drinks and smokes so much he probably would have died of cancer before the bad guys got him, anyway. Often has to rely on stupid gadgets to get him out of situations he shouldn't have been in in the first place:

In addition to a fondness for pointless and destructive stunts, he is almost always either captured and tortured by the enemy, or forced to leave his job and do things without sanction, usually after some kind of violent bungling.

Married once, but, as usual, proves unable to protect his wife, Tracey:

He does manage to get the job done, usually, albeit at the last minute and usually only with the assistance of other countries' intelligence agents like Felix Leiter, Tiger Tanaka, etc. So we'll give him a few points for trying hard.

Yet somewhat regretfully, as he's basically a tragic figure who deserves our pity, we must declare him:


Our next contestant: GEORGE SMILEY

Colorless and boring British intelligence service bureaucrat on the wrong side of middle age. Often butts heads with his employers, and usually on the verge of retirement. Poor guy even has an unfaithful wife.

But this is the man who gets shit done. A spy's spy. Early in his career, using his cover as a lecturer, he recruited and organized spy networks, and then became a higher-up in British intelligence. Used psychology and cunning and manipulation. You know, like a spy is supposed to do.

After years of maneuvering against his Soviet arch-enemy Karla, does Smiley kill him, or have him killed?

No, the clever bastard eventually forces the guy to defect:

And yes, he does eventually toss the cheating wife out on her ass.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Burnout

So this TED talk about how internet porn burns out the frontal lobes is becoming very well-known, and sending a whole host of young would-be alpha males running screaming from RedTube and such.

Of course I have no doubt it's true; and I'll write someday about my history with and feelings about porn in general.

But what nobody seems to be discussing, in regards to this video, are the larger ramifications: that burnout is a very literal phenomenon, and too much arousal of any kind leads to addiction and then irregularities in seratonin and dopamine and can override our natural reactions.

He mentions video games and gambling as two other things that can cause these changes, and we can assume that, since they involve more intense levels of arousal than say, hiking in the woods or macrame, this happens more quickly than with milder pleasures.

So banging too many random real babes can lead to this burnout, too. Most assuredly.

(I wrote about this previously in two posts: ADDICTED TO FUCKING and THE INEVITABLE RESULTS OF TOO MUCH FORNICATING. Now, I allow: some people will burn out more quickly than others. My amygdala is a fragile thing, prone to depression and moodiness.)

But just consider: you go out and live all your dreams, fuck tons of babes and visit every cool country on Earth. It becomes what you live for, for a while, and you're in fucking heaven.

Is enlightenment going to be your reward?

Nope. Eventually, you get burned out. A fucked -up dead amygdala. Gradual de-sensitization and addiction-related changes in your frontal lobes. "Numbed pleasure response" as he puts it.

Now repeating intense pleasures is one thing; but repeatedly doing those things we don't want to do is presumably the sensation so commonly referred to as "soul-sucking."

So what should a person do?

Well, unsurprisingly, this question has been discussed since the dawn of philosophy. Aristotle didn't have brain scans or much in the way of statistical research on his side, but his answer of the Golden Mean seems to hold up:

One thing that is not really addressed in that TED talk is the role of masturbation in all this. If we masturbate a lot but don't watch porn, will we have the same problems? Or if we watch porn but don't masturbate? I mark this an issue for further study.

Just another happy thought of the day from English Teacher X out here in the desert.

Monday, September 16, 2013

English Teaching: A Sure Route To More English Teaching

As I've stated, I'm fine with the idea of English teaching abroad as an escape from adult responsibilities and a route to self-indulgence and degeneracy; I'm extremely wary of it as some kind of route to self-discovery and fulfillment, and even more wary of it as some kind of route to establishing yourself in business abroad.

Yet, that seems to be a battle-cry that I hear all too often these days; "I'm just going to teach English until I make enough local contacts to start my own business."  

There are a number of problems with that as a plan, and even a number of problems with it as a logical statement.

All right, first of all: your contacts will surely be your students, right? Sure, there will be some rich guys, some young entrepeneurs, young business people, etc. 

Here's what they're thinking, if you start pitching business ideas at them: 

If this guy knows so much about business, why is he teaching English? It means that he's either a half-assed businessman, or a half-assed English teacher.

 It's not going to inspire confidence, either way.

Also, English teaching tends to have very irregular hours -- evening and weekends -- that will very likely stop you from doing the kind of shmoozing and networking and legwork you'd probably need to do to start a business.

But yeah, these guys often will invite you out -- and I've seen dozens of cases of guys who THOUGHT they were on the verge of being offered some great job by a rich guy, or start some awesome business with some bright young students, or whatever. 

You know how many people I've known who ACTUALLY got a good job abroad from teaching English?


He got a job in the human resources department of a big pharma company, on the strength of his good Russian and a wife who worked there. (Basically, he got the kind of soul-sucking office job most people abroad say they're trying to flee from.) 

I know a couple guys who started semi-successful businesses -- based, of course, around English teaching and usually involving them teaching a fair bit of English. And I know a lot of other guys who lost their asses trying to get involved in businesses they knew nothing about, usually involving import /export, but also including (but certainly not limited to) restaurant / bar ownership and "consulting."

I don't particularly have any OTHER advice about what you SHOULD do if you want to start a business abroad, except maybe to contact some well-established local business consultants who've been there a long time and know the way things work. 

Anyway, why do you think it's easier to start a business abroad than in your own country, especially if you've never started one before? In a new country you have no fucking ideas about the culture, how the laws are applied, who to throw in with and who to avoid, etc. You think it's more of a free market out there, or the savages are waiting for you to bring them fire? In China and Russia and Brazil these days, its like the 80s in America or the UK were -- the streets are filled with ambitious MBAs who studied at the best universities, busting their asses while we were blogging about bagging drunk sluts ...

Anyway, though, I haven't met every single English teacher in the world. Maybe only a few hundred over the last twenty years or so. If you have any stories of English teachers who started successful businesses, leave a comment and tell us about it.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Second Whore (Old Journal Entry, Thailand 1995)

Richard Pryor had a joke along the lines of: there are only two pieces of pussy you're ever going to remember, the first and the last. All the rest is just practice.

Nonetheless, here's an old journal entry I found about the SECOND prostitute I ever had sex with. This is kind of a bracing antidote to the gooey romanticism of the story about my first one ...

Of course that's not really her. Camera phones were but a sci-fi dream in those days.

September 16th, 1995

(after a night at Nana Plaza)

At about 4:30am or so we go to a place called Thermae an after-hours dive which T described as the lowest of the low.

To get in, you have to walk around the back and go through a sort of industrial bathroom (filthy, of course) into a windowless underground room, fairly good sized, full of green vinyl couches, with paneled walls, and packed to capacity with desperate whores and drunk farang (foreigners), some of whom were distinctly sinister looking.

Now nobody had pierced faces or leather jackets or dyed funny haircuts or t-shirts with scary slogans. Everyone was dressed pretty conservatively except for one black guy in bicycle pants and short braids. Even the whores were dressed pretty nice for the most part. But the desperation and degeneracy just reeked, man. The whole place.

There were several cops around. "The run the place," T said. "don't worry. We're safe as houses here."

There were several whores nodding off, clearly smacked out. One girl was running around jumping in people's laps, stealing drinks and cigarettes, speed rapping in Thai.

We drank. Thermae 5:30am. junkies, whores, smugglers, gangsters, perverts, and English teachers.

(That video has the Thermae in some of its later iterations, but I don't see the original one there. Still you kind of get the idea. )

We started talking to the nicest-looking whore in Thermae, who had impressive cleavage peeking out from beneath her black jacket. She could speak decent English. She was back visting from Germany, where her English boyfriend had stolen all her money. I commisserated.

At 6:30 am she was getting a bit impatient. I told her I only had 500 bhat ($20) left and I needed some of it for a cab home. She said okay.

The sun was coming up -- technically anyway because it had been raining since about 11:00pm the previous night without stopping, so really the black was just turning grey. She took me to the same cheap hotel that Oh took me to.

I watched an interview with Keanu Reeves on HBO while she did speed in the bathroom. *sniff sniff* It was an okay room but there was no mirror on the ceiling. She told me about her junkie boyfriend who stole all the money they'd made dealing and got arrested in Switzerland.

She gave me a very enthusiastic blowjob, no condom, while an interview with Alicia Silverstone played on the TV; finally she scooped my dick up between her tits and I ejaculate all over both of us.

Afterwards she said, "You don't want to make love to me so you won't catch AIDS."

"Well, I don't want AIDS," I admit.

"I have AIDS."

I blink. "Huh?"

She smiles. "Joking. Don't know. I had test in 1992."

I sigh. High-risk whore and a low-risk sex act, unless she had bleeding gums. The odds are on my side, I think.

Eventually I wandered out into the rain. The whore, naturally, didn't look so great once I'd unwrapped her tight bustier thing, but she was pretty good.

(Looks don't cut much ice at the AIDS hospice, though.)

I was totally lost and since morning 9:00am rush hour traffic was at a standstill, I probably didn't have enough for a cab.

(I'd given the girl 400, which also paid for the room, and had about 60 left.)

I just started walking through the grey cold rain along streets crammed with cars and sidewalks crammed with schoolkids and businesspeople on their way to the real world. I was a filthy and hallow-eyed specter. After about an hour, I found Lumpini Park, and managed to get on a number 15 bus back to the Democracy Monument, and though I kept falling asleep I kept waking back up. I got home about 9:30am.