From David Brooks at the NY Times: Lost in the Crowd, talking about Malcolm Gladwell's latest.

Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.

I wonder. I've always bought into the concept of delayed gratification, even if I do occasionally [purchase from Amazon and] download a random album or two on a whim (Krankhaus only a few good tracks; Delores O'Riordan's Are You Listening much better). It's taken me most of my life to figure out that in all arenas, impulses must be strategically resisted and then followed, not simply delayed until masterpieces of idealism are finally created.

I figured this out in part from basketball coaches. When I played [third string], we were always told to concentrate on fundamentals, defense, rebounding, and hustle. "We'll teach you to score," the varsity coach used to tell us as early as junior high.

Turns out that's a lot of baloney, and Brooks is feeding it to us too. What's expected is that *everyone* is teaching themselves to score. You're not supposed to be able to completely resist the impulse to shoot like mad, no matter what the coach tells you. What he was saying is, "You'll teach yourself to score; we'll find places within a [necessarily constrained] offense for you to do so."

If all you can do is hustle, rebound, play D, and be in the right place at the right time, you'll never win a game. At best, you'll tie. And unless you're Robert Brickey (name appropo, no?) or Dennis Rodman or Ben Wallace, you won't have much of a career. You're stuck, instead, as the main training dummy/sparring partner for the first-stringers. (Not that I'm complaining. Scrimmage time is playing time of a sort, and I got a lot more than the guy sitting second string. And I still have the misplaced notion I can stop anybody in the post, whether he's 6'4" and 250 lbs (so beating me by 2" and 35 lbs. And I'm slower. F**k.) or no. It's all about confidence, baby. That's another post.)

Discourse expects impulsive behavior and then does its best to proscribe the same -- in a horribly exaggerated fashion -- with the understanding that the idealistic vision will be unattainable. As my current compositional method (and flawed basketball skills) attest, I never understood that common discourse really wasn't for neurotically literal-minded schomes like me.

(This, by the way, is part of the reason programming is so much fun for idiots like me. Idealistic discourse is, in a digital world, suddenly enabled! With good guidance drafting specs (always a priority for me), you actually can write exactly what's expected of you.)

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