and he said, times they got to change/but so do we

I’ve always sort of wanted to do a Year’s Roundup Thing, but they come off far too down-pat and generic-wisdom cliched, like one of those obnoxious printed-out Christmas letters that nice families send folded into a card with blurry jpgs of all their happy children and relatives. I already post all the interesting things that happen in my life here, it’s a continuous diary, so a highlight reel would just basically be masturbatory hyperlinked self-reference.

But I saw somewhere on someone’s LJ (I can’t remember whose) a roundup of Stuff I’ve Learned This Year, and the idea tickles me enough to steal it. When I get back to Brum I’d like to do one of these a week, because it’ll be a bit shit if I’m not learning something new every week at uni, won’t it? Which will again leave me without any New Year’s post, but whatever.

I’m pleased that there were a hell of a lot of potentials suddenly crowding my mind, so many that this might have ended up as Fifty Things or A Hundred Things or some other appropriately round number, but I’m lazy and this was a decent arbitrary number to articulate; any more rarefied, and it would have ended up as a massive essay consisting of far too high a proportion of sarky little one-sentence attempts at wit. This is the real thing: the stuff that’s been, if not an epiphany (lovely word, shit concept) something that’s surprised me, or enlightened me, or at least changed my mind.

Without further fluff, Ten Things I Learned In 2010.

1) Che fucked up because he didn’t understand why the Cuban insurgency succeeded. Batista had alienated everyone and everything – the military, civil service, the peasantry – and half the work was done for them. The lessons the Cuban revolutionaries drew were, counter to Mao’s subtle, long-term insurgency doctrine, that charismatic high-profile revolutionaries could act as a sudden focus for discontent and cause a popular revolt capable of overthrowing the establishment. Che tried it in Bolivia, without the long, long stages of building up popular, political and logistical support. It didn’t work, and he got shot in a nameless hut.

2) Women are complicated. Yeah, wow, huge revelation. I’m also complicated, and it’s mostly my fault when I’m unhappy with things. I don’t think I’ve learned any truth of my heart this year, and it doesn’t help that I’m instinctively chasing things I’m not sure I even want. But that whole “confidence gets pretty girls smiling at you” really does work. Be the awkward one, and nobody notices you; pretend to be clever and comfortable and on your own ground, and everyone plays along.

3) I can, on demand, produce writing I honestly think is good, and still think is good a month later. However, because of the totally fragmented and self-destructive way I write, it’s possible I’m never going to be able to finish something novel-scale. It’s been months and months since I started trying to write Blood on the Tracks, and I don’t honestly feel closer to finishing it than I did at the end of the first week, though I’ve gone through (and mostly ditched) more than 50,000 quite good words in the process.

4) Group Research is a wretched abortion.

5) In most things, you get what you pay for, and I haven’t regretted any of my relatively high-end 2010 possessions: good mouse, good GPU, good monitor, good overcoat. And I’m a lot happier if I don’t stress over the price too much, even if I feel an atavistic twitch that’s my Scots/Jewish ancestors spinning in their cheap, cheap coffins. (Exceptions: Sainsbury’s Basics peanuts, smoked bacon and custard creams, and those nice £5 trousers from Primark.)

6) Barrel length doesn’t actually affect accuracy. Muzzle velocity, yes (and thus range), but not accuracy, past enough rifling to put a positive spin on things. Heavy barrels are more accurate due to harmonics: light ones flex more and add unpredictability; these same barrel harmonics are why sniper rifles usually have free-floating barrels and why you shouldn’t rest a gun’s barrel on anything. According to /k/ scum, the PSL is actually more accurate with a shorter barrel; this is not improbable. The reasons short guns can’t hit things are mainly bad sights, which are mainly due to being short.

7) It’s actually quite easy to be perfectly civil and long-term friendly to someone while thinking them a worthless deluded knob-end; the biggest reason I’ve been totally incapable of suffering fools in the past is, I think, that I haven’t really had to. Be advised: if you’re someone I know in real life who a) knows about my blog and b) cares enough to be reading this far in, I’d like to reassure you here and now that you’re a great person and I’m not saying bad shit about you behind your back.

8) I am intelligent and can do most things I set my mind to.

9) Big, expensive, overhyped AAA games are actually pretty good. I got MW2 free with my graphics card, and played it when curiosity overcame the snobbish it’s-popular-ergo-it’s-crap hipster bullshit that had (along with cheapness) kept me from playing any COD game, and I was honestly surprised at how fun an experience it was, simply because everything was so damn pretty and polished and well-made. Not the totally silly excuse plot, of course, or even most of the content, but there really is a lot to be said for high production values. For reference, Metro 2033 is excellent in almost every way.

10) Everyone has feet of clay, but there really is nothing in this world that beats a bro or two beside you.


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