Cops and Robbers

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

I hope you all had a good break over the Easter weekend.

While most of us spent the weekend relaxing / nursing hangovers, others had to work hard. In particular, a group of burglars were working hard smashing through concrete walls; drilling through 18-inch-thick metal doors; and abseiling down lift shafts in order to ransack 70 safety deposit boxes in the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit building.

The papers claim that the burglars got away with up to £200m of jewels – like it was an Ocean’s 11-esque heist…

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but I’ve seen enough episodes of Storage Wars to know that the majority of those boxes were probably stuffed with old towels and Christmas decorations.

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Such a cinematic sounding crime got me thinking about who the robbers might be and what made them turn to their life of crime. However, rather than thinking about the social circumstances which led them to take their criminal path, I started to think more about what they would look like. It was then that I started to worry. If popular culture is to be believed, at least one of these villains was bound to have a moustache – and that’s bad for business. Just take these ruffians and baddies as proof that “the media” discriminates against the Tash by portraying it as the facial hair of choice for all villains:

Ming the Merciless

Ming the Merciless

Danny Trejo - the man who's been type-cast as the must-have baddie in any film involving Mexicans.

Danny Trejo – the man who’s been type-cast as the must-have baddie in any film involving Mexicans.

White Goodman - the evilest man in Dodgeball.

White Goodman – the evilest man in Dodgeball.

Dick Dastardly - with a name like that, he was never likely to race by the rules.

Dick Dastardly – with a name like that, he was never likely to race by the rules.

Thankfully, though, I remembered that the position of the Tash as a symbol of truth and justice has been somewhat saved by two of the greatest crime-fighting minds ever:

Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot

and

Jacques Clouseau

Jacques Clouseau

Thankfully, these righteous men protect the reputation of the Tash and go to show that the moustache is really the most democratic and fair of facial hair: it looks equally good on the robber as it does on the person tasked with putting the robber behind bars.

Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

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If you’re worried about the weather then you picked the wrong place to stay.

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

When we’re young – let’s say between the ages of 15 and 18 – we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. We’re usually then told to take that notion and pursue it for the rest of our lives on the basis that we’re following our dreams by doing so.

I can see the logic of that in some respects. After all, when we’re young we tend not to be encumbered with cynicism or, put another way, a sense of reality. I used to be very interested in the idea of pipe dreams and whether it was naive to pursue them. I ended up spending a few months putting that to the test.

The evidence I found suggested that pipe dreams weren’t pipe dreams at all – they were just aspirations that we hadn’t quite reached yet. I found that we tend to be limited by barriers of our own making rather than impossibility.

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On that basis, I could tell you that if you want something badly enough then you can achieve it. I could go on to say that if you find something impossible then you’re simply not working hard enough.

But that’s not life, is it – it’s not that simple.

I’m not persuaded that the aspirations we have when we’re 15 or 18 become impossible in later life. Maybe we realise that we have developed different aspirations as we get older. We might say that our old aspirations have become impossible as a way of getting ourselves off the hook for not pursuing our childhood dream.

Even that’s too simple though. Sometimes, we do everything possible to achieve what we want and we still don’t manage to get where we want to be. I don’t have any explanation for that other than the truism that life isn’t fair.

It doesn’t seem satisfactory for TF to simply say that life isn’t fair and that sometimes we won’t achieve what we want. This week’s Tash, Friedrich Nietzsche, said:

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

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In the same way that we shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we engage with life, we also shouldn’t let something which has happened hold us back. Our lives do not stop the moment that something unfair happens or when we don’t reach a goal which we set ourselves. Life carries on regardless.

If we spend too much time gazing into an abyss of disappointment or wrestling with the inner monsters which tell us that we have failed, then we risk being overcome by disappointment or a sense of failure. The only answer is to not dwell for too long on perceived failure or disappointment and to press on with whatever comes next.

It’s also worth remembering, in the same way that what we wanted when we were 18 might not be what we want now, that our aspirations will continue to change and there will be another target at which we can aim and gain satisfaction. As we talked about last week, life is full of pivotal moments and we have to pivot with them. We may not always perceive what life throws at us as being “fair” but we can choose how we react and whether we move forward.

The difficulty which so many of us find is in freeing ourselves from our inner monsters and avoiding the gaze of the abyss. I’ll offer a view on that in Part 3.

Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

Back to basics

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

When Tash Friday first started, it was aimed at finding something that everyone could appreciate. That’s a harder task than you might imagine – we don’t all like the same music; we don’t all like the same food; and we certainly don’t all like the same people. However, the Tash was, and is, different – everyone can appreciate a well-worn Tash.

TF’s theory about why everyone appreciates a Tash is that it’s about class. Not social class but the kind of class that cannot be taught; cannot be bought; and cannot be faked. The men (and, occasionally, women) who can really wear the Tash correctly are generally the ones with real class. There are exceptions, of course, and not all of the people who stand in the great pantheon of Tashes wear one all the time. But when they do, their class shines through. As discerning people, Tash Appreciators understand that quality and, as the name suggests, appreciate it.

In the recent past, examples of that class have included these two:

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

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True class, or form, as others might put it, isn’t found in the amount of money you make or the clothes you wear. It’s about being yourself, being at ease in your own skin and making those around you feel at ease in theirs. It’s about bringing the best out of others because they have faith in your ability but doing it in a way which empowers them rather than overshadows them. People with class will not stop learning or giving maximum effort in all of their endeavours. They dare greatly and are gracious in both victory and defeat.

This week, I think I’ve found someone with all of those qualities. He’s dedicated to his profession and is not part of the celebrity “scene”, saying in response to questions relating to his private life: “I chose for a long time not to answer these questions because of the manner in which they were asked, and because I was never talking to someone I trusted, so why should I?” Every film, theatre production and television series in which he appears or produces are improved by his input. If anything, he has improved with age. To finish off the package, he manages to pull off the old receding hair-line look!

This week’s Tash was in Se7en, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, American Beauty and the tremendous Margin Call. He’s been Henry VI, Richard II, Kaiser Soze and (my favourite) Frank Underwood:

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He is probably my favourite actor – Kevin Spacey. He’s also been known to wear a Tash pretty bloomin’ well – there’s nothing this man cannot do:

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Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

Qubits and quiet moments

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

I read two articles this week that blew my mind: one was about quantum computing and the other was about mindfulness.

The quantum computing article described a company called D-Wave that has produced a computer (known as the D-Wave 2) costing $10,000,000. The temperature of interstellar space is 80 times warmer than the temperature at which the D-Wave 2 operates and it looks like this:

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The article describes how it works in detail but here’s the key part:

Regular computers work with information in bits. Each bit can either be at 1 or 0 at any one time… Now imagine a computer that operates under quantum rules… Its bits could be 1, or 0, or 1 or 0 at the same time.

This means that a computer using quantum bits can do far more calculations than one using regular bits. To be exact, the D-Wave 2, which has 512 quantum bits, could perform 2 to the power of 512 operations simultaneously. That’s more operations than there are atoms in the universe, by many orders of magnitude.

We’ve all seen how pervasive technology and computing have become in our lives. Many of us will have access to work emails at all times and it can sometimes feel like there is just too much information to process.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. It’s difficult to describe mindfulness but imagine training and developing your mind in the same way you train to develop your other muscles. Practicing mindfulness helps you to be “present” in a given moment and manage your thoughts.

To show how most of us struggle with that simple sounding task, take 20 seconds and try to clear your mind of all thoughts.

Didn’t work, did it? Thoughts about work or things you need to do will no doubt have popped into your head. You’ll also probably have found that the more you tried to clear your mind, the more those thoughts appeared. Mindfulness is aimed at helping you train your mind to acknowledge thoughts – but not dwell on them – and to allow you to focus on the task in hand.

My point this week is that many of us often feel like there are more operations going on in our head than there are atoms in the universe. That’s the price we pay for living in a connected society. All that being said, I’m comforted by the fact that, while some folk are striving to make technological advancements, others are striving to find methods which might help in alleviating the pressures on our minds.

This week’s Tash apparently – according to those in the know (i.e. not me!) – found quantum mechanics so counterintuitive that he thought the theories relating to it must either be wrong or incomplete. He also said this:

The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.

After trying to wrap my head around qubits and how to best find a quiet moment, I was glad to discover that even Albert Einstein struggled with comprehending the world around him.

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Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

p.s. If you’re interested, there’s a free app called Headspace which is aimed at helping users become more mindful. Part of the app is a ten-day programme called “Take Ten” where users take ten minutes out of their day for ten days in an effort to get a basic understanding of mindfulness. I enjoyed it.

Black Friday

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

Yesterday saw the United States come to a halt as people got together with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Today will see a fair few of those same people heading to malls and department stores to do their Christmas shopping. However, this isn’t any normal day of shopping, today will be the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday:

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I had thought that Black Friday was just an American thing, but judging from the adverts on TV and the subject headings of the emails in my inbox, the hysteria has made its way over here. I saw it in person too – at a shopping centre earlier this week when, even at 9 pm, there were still thousands of people shopping for presents.

I don’t care what people spend their money on – it’s theirs, they earned it, they can spend it however they like. I’m not that interested in snooty arguments about consumerism, either. What struck me was that, in all probability, the people who are shopping on Black Friday or mid-week at shopping centres are not doing it for themselves, they’re surely buying Christmas presents for others.

That got me thinking about why we all go out and spend so much of our hard-earned cash on other people. I don’t think it’s because we’re all slaves to consumerism. I don’t necessarily think it’s because we expect to get something back in return, either. I think we all just like to see the look on the faces of our friends and family when they open a present, which we’ve given to them, and it’s immediately clear that the present was what they wanted. With that in mind, maybe we don’t all need to be shopping at 9pm on a Wednesday, maybe we just need to spend a bit more time thinking about what we should get and whether it’s actually going to be appreciated.
Speaking of appreciation, with this being the day after Thanksgiving, I feel it’s appropriate for TF to give thanks too. Surprisingly enough, TF gives thanks that Tom Selleck decided that this look didn’t suit him:
Tash Friday 29:11:13
But that this one did:
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Have a great weekend folks!
#keepgoing

Wait until the weekend…

Morning Tash Appreciators,

TF isn’t always easy to write, you know. Some weeks the editorial staff have nothing interesting to say and other weeks – usually following a mediocre week – there just isn’t the motivation to get a solid edition done. Those weeks’ editions are generally prefaced with something like: “just a brief TF this week…”.

It seemed like this week’s edition was going to be a short one: I was sitting on a later train than I’d hoped (the one I wanted to get having been cancelled); I was tired; and I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say [*insert joke about never having anything interesting to say*]. Then this man came to my rescue:

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James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem and their anthem “All My Friends” are TF regulars. However, tonight, as I stood on a crowded train in a day-dream, not really listening to what was blaring through my earphones, a blast of synthesisers came forth and I heard Mr Murphy sing, mid-way through the track “Dance Yrself Clean”: “wait until the weekend and we can make our dreams come true.”

And then I remembered – tomorrow is Friday! Things didn’t seem so bad after that. Now, when you’re reading this, it really is Friday, and everyone knows good things happen on Friday.

It is therefore with renewed enthusiasm that I turn to this weeks’ Tashes. I’m delighted to say that I have two superlative offerings from Appreciators.

The first is of a bouncer in a Boston, MA, bar. It was confirmed that, despite it looking too good to be true, this was an authentic Tash. It was also confirmed that, somewhat unusually for our friends across The Pond, Mr Bouncer was also wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day. I believe the correct description of this kind of display – using the “Baastaan” vernacular – is Boston Strong:

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Go Sox.

The other Tash comes from Bristol, the cultural heart of South-West England. Now, I was under the impression that I had a fairly good grasp on TF’s demographic. However, the short message accompanying the photo suggests that TF may have reached non-English speaking countries:
“Here you, ya mad raj! Huv yae seen ma Tash? It’s v-dot-beeeaaauuuut an’ the burds go pure daft fae it!” 
Make of that what you will, but my interpretation is that this chap is pretty delighted with his Tash; as he should be:
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Keep the entries coming folks!

Have a great weekend!

#keepgoing

It’s that stage of proceedings

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

It may not quite be panto season yet, but we seem to have reached the stage of proceedings where we take a slight pause from the action to make some shout-outs. Feel free to whoop loudly if you, or someone you know, is mentioned…

This week, a steady trickle of Movember-related Tashes have been submitted for TF’s consideration. Here are a selection of my favourites:

From the world of professional sport comes a Tash which must surely have been on the go for some time.  This chap is a South African rugby player who has played for the Lions in the Super-14 and, more recently for the Glasgow Warriors. I think this effort may take some beating:

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From across the Pond comes a Tash of a sweeter kind – a sugary effort from the stupendously named Glory Hole Doughnuts in Toronto:

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Last, but not least, comes another offering from Scotland. I am reliably informed that this chap is known for smashing his way up and over various high mountain passes around west central Scotland. I also hear that the shape of his Tash is the result of exhaustive aerodynamic testing – a man must be aerodynamic, after all. Mr Russell Bridges, take a bow, sir:

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Thanks for all the submissions and #keepgoing to those taking part in Movember.

Have a great weekend folks!

#keepgoing