Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Together At Last

A+ For Effort. My brother found this one at his job.
Decent post shortly.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ascension and Inertia

I went to see father Bob some time and in a possible good fortune avoided the trap of "confirmation bias" ie thinking all Catholic priests (indeed Catholocism) is as good as father Bob (or for that matter Father Ted).
Instead on the first attempt I had to sit through a lecture delivered by some other priest who was inarticulate, old and conservative. His inspirational sermon was about how we should all concentrate on heaven every day and know how good it will be, and in knowing this strive to earn our place there.
Now that is not really a synopsis, that was more or less all he said. Inspiring? no. Infact it made me realise what a useful term 'Heaven' is to bandy about. It's impossible as a notion to reject because it is by definition, undefined, similar to concepts of 'perfect' or 'Eutopia' or 'Art' the exact level to which one satisfies our criteria is left for each imaginer to imagine for themselves.
Example - my idea of heaven would probably involve being a member of a crime fighting basketball troop that went around solving complicated strategic problems and realising it through some kind of divine basketball tournament in a futuristic fun park.
My mother's idea of heaven probably involves heaps of 'nice shit' like blue and white china, speghetti marinara, tuscan countryside and Marie Claire magazines.
if through some hilarious mishap we were to go to eachothers eternal paradises we would probably be in for a royal shit time.
Other terms that work like this are 'terrorist' and 'unaustralian/unamerican' actually unaustralian makes me laugh when I hear it.
Suffice to say some times romantic escapism has its place I used to wonder as a little child what if Gravity gave out one day and we just fell into the sky, holding onto the grass desperately.
As I got older the musing possibly became dumber or more sophisticated, like a massive object such as the moon falling to earth and destroying the atmosphere or some shite.
Anyway I saw this video clip and the way they shot the divers made me understand the whole 'taken up' thing, what a wonderful way to avoid the pain of death to experience that trampoline sensation as gravity takes hold of you and your upwards momentum diminishes to zilch and you start accelerating towards the mat. But to just have that situation reversed.
Nowonder martyrdom is such an attractive option, good going religion.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Manufacturing and the circle of life

I wish I had the time, intelligence and concentration to put together a succinct and thourough demolition of the common arguement about keeping Aussie jobs in Australia and not shipping them overseas.
So from the outset I know one thing you have to establish is a world view. ie. stop thinking about just Australia is if the wider world does not exist.
Okay Major arguement #1 in favor of preventing jobs from going overseas - unemployment:

The gist of it is that if you ship jobs overseas in manufacturing people lose there jobs and this is devestating to communities and families as people don't want to be on welfare.
Okay the immediate solution to losing your job is get another job - aha but you are not educated enough to easily transfer your work efforts. Hence hencely arguement number one has the following issues - if you remove low skill jobs you exacerbate structural unemployment (unemployment caused by people having the wrong skills to fill the available roles as in a factory floor worker can't go from that to filling the in demand job vacancy of actuary).
Structural unemployment is really the biggest issue any government faces in their labor pool that is willing participants that lack the skills and abilities to actually sate the demand for labor.
So subsidising manufacturing (production subsidy) is really a form of welfare anyway because we are taking resources from productive sectors of the economy (via tax) and then redistributing it to sectors of the economy that normally couldn't compete price wise in the world market (through the subsidy) its welfare, we are injecting a handout to industries so they don't starve to death. Or you can get fiercely protectionist.
The arguement however falls down because the transition of jobs isn't an issue of employed people losing their jobs to the cosmos but infact employed people losing their jobs to unemployed people.
To simplify the arguement imagine two surgeons - you and some other person. You are a fairly good doctor in every thousand patients you operate on only 2 die the rest come through safely. The other surgeon is better though, in every thousand operations he conducts .418 patients die.
I don't even know if this is a KPI but in a market where there is only so much demand and either of you can easily fill that demand one could assume as good as you are people will prefer the other surgeon. You may have to get another job or move to another location, or specialise in another field.
You couldn't really argue whether that was fair or not because if all else being equal one is better than the other one will assume all the business goes in their direction.
So suppose instead there is one job, screwing screw 24b into hole 24b, and you can do this 27 times an hour at the cost of $18 an hour. Now the time it took to accumulate the expertise of being a surgeon is roughly 10 years at a cost $128,000. The time it takes to become an expert in screwing screw 24b into hole 24b was 12 seconds at a cost of $0.58 (your wages plus your foremans for given time plus opportunity costs of lost productivity on the line and then figure was exagerated to add impact)
So now say that it doesn't really matter who screws screw 24b into hole 24b, almost anyone can pick up the skill for fifty eight cents. Now taking a microscoping viewpoint and saying that every other step of the production line was complicated and not as easy to replace, one could easily if their weren't laws against it lose said job to someone willing to work for $16 an hour, who in turn could easily lose their job to someone willing to work for $14 an hour and so on and so on.
Unions were in fact formed in the days where there were so many people that Employers could bid down wages to 50c and fire you for exhaling through your nose.
I agree, but what isn't usually considered in this arguement is that you have a community that aren't fat cats sitting in ivory towers but people who have spent the best part of 300 years walking behind an ox, standing in mud, losing 75% of their infants and subsisting off less than $1 a day.
These are the people that have banded together negotiated a pay rise
to $1 an hour and are just as capable of placing screw 24b in hole 24b.
This is where the jobs are going, to people who will benefit much much more than you are. Furthermore $18 an hour isn't just money from heaven, money is a portable store of wealth, there are economicc definitions of money, but basically my point revolves around highlighting that money isn't just money, currency has a value determined by what it can buy, Wages like all other expenses/investments represent actual things of value, ie resources. So if you pay someone $18 to do the same thing as someone who will do it for $2 you are in fact wasting a lot of resources.
This arguement is an arguement to preserve for someone the priveledge of wasting resources.
In this crash course of Economics, economics as I understand it from year 11 is based around the premis of 'Relative to our wants, resources are limited' most economic studies are concerned with efficiency, ie employing those resources to best fulfill the wants of people.
Put simply if manufacturing jobs is whats in question who wants it more? someone with nothing who is willing to accept lower wages for the priveledge of work.
Jobs that are low skilled and if you permit me the license - "undesirable" are the ones likely to be shipped overseas to places where people find such jobs "desirable" for one and one reason only - they are much worse off than "we" are here.
If you take the world view we know that our planet is roughly the shape of a basketball and that every bit that sticks up above the blue bits has people crawling all over it, so we know that resources are most definitely finite.
So needlessly throwing away $16 or possibly $17 is irresponsible knowing that resources will eventually run out. The net effect of the "unemployment" arguement means that A) more people worldwide will most likely be employed. B) if these shitty jobs are all these people have you must acknowledge that they are only under threat because somebody else out there has less. C) the world at large is getting short shifted by wasting resources here there and everywhere.

Major arguement #2 - If the jobs go overseas we'll end up dependant on them and they will rule the world.

Assuming "they" = China which is the one having explosive growth. This statement is incorrect on a number of grounds, coming back to again that market mechanism, the jobs are not being transferred because of evil its because they are cheaper. So one could assume before through trade we become slaves to Chinese overlords or whoever else, we could assume that we would sooner accept lower wages than unfair treatment.
So the worst case is entirely avoidable under the same pretext that the jobs are under threat in the first place.
Secondly I find this arguement wrong because it is counterintuitive to trade anyway. The idea of buying and selling goods is to better our lifestyle options, why do we need to earn $18 an hour if all the consumer goods we needed were produced at a fraction of the cost? If this was in any way a significantly damaging shift in the job market it would be offset by the fact that living expenses go down.
My old economics lecturer (fat guy) used to introduce things so he could dismiss them and here's one I would introduce now - wages are not the issue, wages generally reflect living expenses, thus if wages had to decrease you would assume retailers rather than price themselves out of business would lower their prices unless the supply dwindled out of proportion with demand. In other words the economy might shrink a little but living standards may not have to.
The real point is that making the arguement that we will become slaves through market forces is ridiculous because it is the same as suggesting there is something inherantly different between people from Ballarat and people from Bendigo* if gold mining operations where to move between the town.
Infact the reason this didn't all happen a long time ago is because of Mao's economic mismanagement.
Anyone is perfectly entitled to want to work and negotiate wages that will compensate them for their time. To argue any differently is racist and furthermore, if what we are really afraid of is despotic abuse of economic power then we should stop employing such tactics ourselves.

Arguement #3 - it's all some people have.

Easily dismissed, the only reason all they have is under threat is because somebody else has less.
The real issue is when you land a job that is easy, menial and boring. Tragically nobody tried to invest any development training in you and you never learnt any transferrable skills, all you know is how to screw screws - the word for an indistinguishable good is called a commodity, and that is precicely what you have become. Working within strict specifications all your life you stifled your own belief in your ability to be anything more.
Your employer let you down, they never invested any of the proceeds generated by your activity into making you any better or more useful, but you too just sat there too lazy to move.
Thus we enter the two way responsibility of the employer employee relationship. If your employer does not offer you training or even opportunity for development you are obliged to quit and seek new employment.
Similarly employers need to bring people up with their company, and invest in their work force to not leave a bunch of redundant commodities as someone elses problem, or everyone elses problem, accepting subsidies from the government without at the same time moving out of the business is immoral and escalates our commitment to wasteful practices.
A good company will endeavor to make menial jobs redundant and at the same time allow their employees autonomy and creativity to move up the chain and achieve their best.
The few that cannot cope will not be permitted the delusion that their fate will be waiting with a warm seat for their children, and understand the importance of educating their children or allow them to sink in the ever changing market.
Discouraging your child from pursuing their highest potential is nothing less than child abuse.

*The 3 second rule in Ballarat is the 12 second rule in Bendigo, possible explaining the smell.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rock Candy Mountain

I want to wake up, eat Nachos with Guacamole with Misaki, head down to the park, play some ball then sit down with a 7-eleven slurpy to watch a movie and pass out.
Should be simple for a man of my achievements right?
Man it seems impossible right now, being pushed to my tolerance limits by this Summer that started in August (when Spring normally starts) and I'd even do a swap with Morley to wear homeboy gear and eat delicious delicious snow. Do 7-eleven just sell the flavor syrup in Canada and you supply your own snow for snow cones?
I guess I'll never know.
I wouldn't last long in the middle east thats for sure and not just because I could never bring myself to pay "proper" respect to them religions they have over there.
Anyway I heard Equinox has been and passed, and maybe it's just that I'm pushing myself like 'two day old shit' as Fife would say which is to say too hard.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The world is one relentless pursuit of growth, of building more because more is more. Just increase things and everything is solved.
I don't agree with this attitude at all but man, if this is the prevailing human drive why do so many people drag their feet and stick within mindless repetitive circles. I'm not talking about you of course. I'm talking about people who don't think just do.
Who furthermore need to be told what to do. In the mornings now I have to leave early to aim for the train before the train I actually need to catch because it is now reliably not running. Simple messages like 'The 8.19 will not run today' or if they want to get tricky 'the 8.19 has been delayed and is now expected in 20 minutes' does that mean two trains will arrive piled on top of eachother? the delayed 8.19 and the scheduled 8.39?
Noooooooooooooooo. No. And what ticks me off more is that somewhere, someone is paid to manage the trains you know what the compensation payable to people who can "provide evidence they were effected by delays" weekly and monthly ticket holders can recieve 1 x Daily ticket.
If there were ever any serious incentive to run services when scheduled eg. refund tickets you could bet there would be no late trains if the businesses success depended on it.
that's really the start of my list today.
I'm genuinelly angry, which is...rare. I feel...angry.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

but I still love technology

Matt Shirvington hosts 'Beyond Tomorrow' with some other lady, a show modelled on the old 'Beyond 2000' which was highly successful back when I was 6 or 7. A more apt name perhaps for the new version as I suspect some of the new technologies we got a sneak peak at in the late 80's early 90's I suspect were obsolete by the time 2000 came.
Now recall if you were watching the Patriotic coverage of the 2000 olympics in Sydney by channel 7 were when Shirvo dropped out of the 100m sprint heats he talked at length about what a disgrace and dissapointment he was. So strong was his conviction it was quite confronting as he seemed to hold his own expectations so far beyond what was possibly the general publics.
That is to say whilst people may have said 'you never know Matt Shirvington if he can luck out and get through to the finals he may just get lucky and win a medal' whereas Matt seemed to say 'Everyone expects me to win gold'.
Everyone pretty much expects the US to win gold, through Maurice Green or Ato Baldin (Canada I think).
Anyway that was in 2000. Compare Shirvington's spirit to Jordan who threw a ball I'm told at some match from one end of the court to the his basket and it missed. Apparantly some journo asked him 'did you really expect that one to go in?' and MJ responded 'I expect all of them to go in.' I expect some of my shots to go in.
But lately I've been practicing my shooting because for most of the past year I've been using my relative size advantage and position as power forward to collect 'garbage goals' that is other people's genuine attempts on the basket which I've collected on the rebound and put through from a safe distance. Otherwise I used my 'bad habit' which was an underarm two handed shot 'from the hip' which I think is how they refer to it in trick shooting.
I have also been able to pull off the odd skyhook which is a good habit I developed through my inability (or lack of confidence) to cross the court and create scoring opportunities I tend to clumsily back into my defender and then in fair immitation of the skyhook lob it one handed perpendicular to my defender at the basket and unlike Kareem abdul jabar only occasionally get it in.
So currently I've been practicing the conventional 'jump shot' or perhaps just 'shot' would be better as I haven't started jumping yet.
Anyway of all places I learnt the proper method from a manga called 'slam dunk' and the process of shooting is incredibly awkward to me but I figure if I can add conventional shooting to my reputior of awkwardness I may actually become a useful player on the team.
Needless to say what looks good and graceful (the classic jump shot) actually feels incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. The whole process of learning is infact about getting the awkward feel trained into my muscles in what is known as 'muscle memory'.
Had someone explained this to me when I was young I would have stuck at a lot more things I found really uncomfortable and not have ended up with such things as my bizarre pengrip.
But Slam magazine has all sorts of adds in it one of which is an add selling a brace that stops your shooting arm at the perfect angle for release in a diagram labelled -'too little,too much,money!' to demonstrate the product and importance of arm position.
Now I don't own this thing but at any rate I believe questionable 'technological advancements' like this first came in with devices for golf and then later bowling and shit like that.
Matt Shirvington in a press conference post dropping out talked about the hardcore training he was going to undertake including computer mapping of every muscle fiber or something, it tries my memory too much to recall the exact nature but I'm more or less certain it would have involved using computers to design a super precise and targeted training routine to perfect his form.
That is time off the starting blocks, maximise the energy spent in forward momentum and train out the up and down stuff.
Theoretically possible I suppose. But why on earth would we ever go to such effort to train someone's muscles into a running machine instead of just building a running machine?
And everyone knows from rocky 4 that technology driven training doesn't compare to simply running around in a forest.
I mean if you want perfect start using the perfect materials, maybe wheels instead of legs.
I guess Matt had the right idea, it could work (if you then had the time to spend) but time may not have been on his side, possibly hence his emotionally confronting locker wall punching reaction to dropping out of the heats.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I have to say I would be hard pressed to see any situation where suicide was the best solution to someone's personal problems. But I respect that it is a rational permanant solution to in most case a temporary emotional problem.
Where problems aren't temporary (or possibly not of an emotional state nature) I guess I have no problem with someone ending their own life, eg someone terminally ill (the pain won't get better) or someone being tortured as punishment or for interrogation purposes (not emotional) again with little prospect of relief.
Furthermore I believe there are causes worth dying for, like protecting loved ones or one's own integrity over non trivial issues.
Needless to say Suicide be what I am dealing with, except in the exceptionally joyous circumstances that it was a failed attempt(s) and their is a slim chance worth fighting for that it can be turned around.
I have never dealt with this before and suicide has been a remote issue, but my thoughts on this absolutely serious issue (and my close friends rest assured that even on the periphery I will seek help from councillors over my role) it was a rational decision, planned and with reasons as to why the attempts were made and repeated.
I believe there is a strong psychological barrier that requires the absolute opposite of cowardice to push oneself across that edge that runs contrary to the interests of survival.
In short they must have felt bad, really bad.
Furthermore in the past when engagin in seemingly self destructive behaviours they gave out all the clues, the direct complaints about exactly what their position was and those that did listen instead respected the beliefs of the family unit. And their authority over their affairs.
Misaki my beautiful blossum for whom I continue to wonder in amazement at the profound impression she has made on me in such a short time serves as a great emotional consultant for me as I tend to reject emotional perspectives too quickly. I'm really grateful for the complimentary team work.
She's absolutely right, I don't understand what it is to be a mother, to have children, I have repeatedly stated that I cannot concieve of how Janice (my mother)thinks.
How her mind has the capacity to lead a normal life whilst worrying almost constantly about the welfare of her children.
I don't get it, I don't get the emotional bond she has, I don't know when her reasoning is going to be overridden by concern and I don't get when she is going to see through me and turn critical.
What I do get is this proximate friend's mother is not like Janice. Nor is she like other mothers that I also don't understand. I don't understand either but I understand the difference.
Furthermore I don't understand whats going through my head versus what is going through others.
But I can see the causes and effects of what other people are saying.
I don't think suicide or even attempted suicide are shameful and certainly shouldn't be relegated to the shady skeletons in the closet. People shouldn't pretend they were never pushed to this extreme position, it happened and there are reasons for it.
In this case, (my case however proximate) I haven't heard the reasons but I can guess in which direction they would run.
But maybe not I also have encountered people that struggle with depression whom can't obtain the relief I can simply by exercising, talking etc. For these cases medication can be a life saver through improving the quality of life.
But if the family unit has been tainted and set up to systematticaly destroy an individuals esteem medication can be a risky cop out, even a cruel form of torture if the causes, or reasons aren't dealt with only the symptoms.
Like a torture victim being given drugs to suppress the pain of torture without the torture physically stopping.
That's probably what I find most daunting, I feel helpless in this regard. I have assembled through the process of my life a team to support me, really a vast network of beautiful wonderful people such as Bryce, Shona, Misaki, My family (please note by conscious choice if my family weren't supportive they would not be here), my friends from highschool, from IH, surrounding me at work all over the place.
So much so even when I recieve news of this kind I can honestly say to Miho in the office in the morning 'itsumo genki dayo' - 'I'm always good'. A state of being I have worked efficiently and also hard to create.
The saying 'You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family' is one of the most depressing and erroneous statements out there.
It's true you can't pick the family you start out with but you can and should be encouraged to pick the family you end up with.
Love I don't doubt is in abundance but it's not always a positive thing. Suicide is a deep, dark hole, a state of mind it will be hard to climb out of.
Coincidentally I'm reading Jim Collins 'Good to Great' right now, I may not be too sharp on the plain of emotional decisions and frankly have little respect for them (though that doesn't mean they don't exist and won't effect me) but to draw an analogy between good companies capable of digging themselves out of insolvency and great teams capable of bringing someone out of the suicidal mind state - the most important thing is to get the right people involved, not the right vision of how it will be solved. With enough talent alined towards the individual the emotional associations and reasoning can be broken down and dealt with and overcome.
My fear comes from my belief that at the moment the wrong people are on the bus to happyville and that it has no chance of heading in the right direction. I feel particularly unempowered to attempt to get on the bus, and get the wrong people off it or at least sitting in the right seats.
I mentioned 'The God Delusion' made me cry, the offending passage was in regards to Britains late legalisation of Homosexual Practice - I don't have the book with me so I can't quote the guys name but he was a WWII veteran with a legitimate claim at being the father of the computer. His innovations saved countless lives by delivering the highest standard of intelligence to commanding allied forces, enabling decription and transmission of vital information allowing them to prevail over the Nazi's as one of many contributions to allied victory.
After the war he was convicted as a practicing Homosexual, a practice that harmed nobody and was conducted between two consenting adults in the privacy of their homes. The state punishment was a choice between a 2 year prison sentance subject to the brutalities of his fellow inmates due to the nature of his conviction or to have himself injected with hormones that among other things would have caused him to develope breasts.
Instead he chose to inject an apple with cyanide and end his own life. Betrayed by his own country, who were betrayed by their own religious beliefs. I can find no arguement to say that he didn't make the right choice, except arguements from people who frankly the world would be better off without.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Problem With the Youth Today

Definitions: Youth = 12 and under. Problem = cartoons.

I love one piece, I love transformers. I find Naruto most excellent. What I find odd is the absolute dominance Japan has on imagination, you just gotta pick up a copy of 'Fruits' magazine or look at Harvard's japanophile blog to see the strong body of evidence to suggest that the most creative place on earth appears to be Japan.
Yet you can also safely guess some of the most boring management practices are extolled and upheld by Japanese companies.
Anyhoo my girlfriend be Japanese, and I hate being taught 'beautiful japanese' which is to say how someone well educated with good grammer would speak in Japan. Largely because I don't speak using good grammer nor could I ever write an article for The AGe newsletter let alone read one of Helen Raiser's.
Anymahoo what I am interested in learning is how to speak in japanese like I would speak in Japanese. That is with appaling grammer and riddled with non sensical slang.
For examplewhen I started learning Japanese in highschool they didn't ask me 'would you like to learn Osaka Ben or Tokyo ben?' Tokyo ben doesn't really exist it's what we would call 'Japanese' however Osaka ben is a dialect used to mince grammer and convention in Osaka and what is spoken by most Japanese comedians.
Anyway where does one turn to try and improve one's japanese with said objective? Youtube. It's called Kaizoku fan subs where I can learn how to speak in Japanese like the simpleton luffy or Naruto.
But the other thing is the noticable difference between what Japanese kids are learning than what is censored out for the english dubs.
It's kind of like comparing the emotional value of Italian films such as Life is Beautiful and Cinema Nouvo Paradiso to American films such as Steel Magnolias and Stuart Little 2.
My point being Japanese children get to see stories that may involve the reality of death, betrayal, their villians may infact be cruel instead of moustache twirling 1920's villians.
Sure nobody can argue the impact Captain Planet had towards a callous attitude towards environmental cleanup (simply combine five Aristotlean elements to form an uber soldat to magically undo all the damage) but why doesn't someone see the massive impact Bob the Builder had on the market (for a toddler show it was extremely progressive with Bob asking a female out on a date) and equate it with introducing tragic and deep emotional lessons as well as strong role models of iron resolve into our children's viewing.
A loss of innocence I associate more strongly with when a kid wstarts smoking, not when a kid finds out cigarettes exist.
English dubbed cartoons censor out negatives such as blood, smoking, death, alcohol, religion but they also censor out all the values associated with them, and important attitudes of tolerance.
I guess I can't put forward the case well, but maybe occasionally pick up a manga in a bookshop and have a look at how masterfully the stories are told and pitched to a young audiance and cover with real world issues whilst still maintaining the innocence of the world of dreams which is where all children should grow up.

"So what you're saying is you want to see Itchy and Scratchy deal with down to earth real life issues and is teaming with robots that have magic powers."

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Friend 'R'

On average about 9 people a day read this bloggermathing. This blog you may have noticed follows more closely what I'm thinking about than what I'm actually doing. It is an imperfect window into my internal thought process, which goes on all the time but occasionally may describe something I did (playing with bubbles in the park (no bubbles is not the name of a prostitute)) but most often is what I think about something I read, or something someone said to me that reminded me of something I think.
As such I quite often get things wrong, particularly things I am quite ignorant of ie. motherhood, faith, being female in general really, being an NBA star etc. Experiences I haven't had or am unlikely to obtain.
This being said my actions will generally reflect my thought processes or stated opinion roughly at time of print. But in no way am I committed to them.
Ja, I finished the God Delusion yesterday, a 4 day turnaround on a Non-Fiction book has to be a record for me, and I haven't enjoyed a book that much since Ricardo Semler's Maverick or Musashi Miyamoto's Five Rings. It did infact make me cry, which is subject to such an important subject matter that I will post seperately on that later.
But Richard Dawkin's highlights the key advantage to teaching a child how to think as opposed to what to think.
It's highlighted in the logic ultimately used by religious believers (moderate to fanatical) and athiests which ironically changed my mind about the arguement put forward by Basil in common that Athiests can be just as fanatical as religious evangelists "our way is the only way" can be espoused by both parties.
But whilst both are aggressive approaches they are fundamentally different.
Different in that most athiests have not much personal or emotional investment in the Evolution theory, it simply has compelling evidence and as a model has yet to be broken on any grounds.
However an evangelical creationist persists there way is the only way by force of will, and rejects rational arguements or evidence to the contrary by simply not tolerating their resistence.
If you read his book which I realise most people who read this won't not because the 9 or so people that look at this every day or the 40 or so different people that read bits over a month (but never venture to explore old posts) probably don't have time to read Dawkin's, any content of Land Values Research Group Reports or Michael Jordan's auto biography.
If they are in the working world or even studying at a tertiary level my experience of a lot of people don't read what I say based on recommendations, nor at the rate I do recreationally and furthermore would rather read in their own field of influence.
Similarly I am not going to go read all the reference books Richard Dawkins refers to in the God Delusion, because I find Dawkin's book (infact the major attraction is) efficient in covering the subject.
The point is, though my posts reflect my thought processes I am not committed to dogmatically hindering my development by insisting at any stage I have landed on anything more than a workable theory on how to conduct myself.
Simply put, and perhaps self evidently, I think these thoughts with or without an audiance, I am merely disclosing them on my blog for two reasons.
1. People can judge my appeal.
2. I gain exposure to recieving feedback on thoughts I may have that are infact reinventing the wheel or making common mistakes.

An example may be I was a believer in raw capitalism and never thought much at all about land value taxation. Similar to a creationist hearing the Big Bang theory from a trusted source for the first time may have their consciousness raised to a new level so too did Land Values change my entire world perspective.
That's one and the most dramatic such example.

My friend 'R' told me 'asking someone's opinion is one of the greatest compliments you can pay someone' two years ago I was consciously aware that neither me, my siblings or my father ever felt comfortable asking for help.
I have discovered the benifits in that time of asking for help as to how much easier it makes it to achieve my goals.
But from this same school of behaviour I also almost never asked anyone's opinion on anything that wasn't a crippling emotional breakdown (one occasion I benifited from getting help in abundance) never in business and certainly never on this blog.
My thought process likes nice static sources of opinion (books) as opposed to being shaped by my peer group.
There's some reason behind this if my peergroup were creationists I would be a moron. Similarly Ricardo Semler's book represents unconventional wisdom that my peer group would generally run against.
But their are people such as my friend 'R' that are the kind of people not afraid to criticise that I like to surround myself with. Indeed my closest peers (in thought)are the ones that need no invitation to weigh in with their opinion, and we are closest in thought more because of how we think than what we think.
Sometimes we can be diametrically opposed and argue aggressively about stuff. But usually there is give and take, whereas if I argue with someone who doesn't think how I do, I rejects evidence, takes things on face value because its convenient I find their opinion not valuable because usually I can find it in a theologicans book or by watching episodes of 7th heaven.
But 'R' reads my body language and points it out to me, telling me when I am being defensive, when I am uncomfortable and so on. He also picks up on the subtle things I say because I generally speak in an obscure manner.
Aka he forces me to be accountable and direct, he'll also weigh in freely with his opinion and in a short 1 hour session can provide me with a wealth of areas to develope on.
Its good, its also hard to identify what it is you don't know when you are ignorant.
For example to borrow from Richard Dawkins book again on atouchy arguemental topic called abortion:

A mother and a father
one has syphyllis, the other tuberculosis
the mother has had children before
2 were born blind, 3 were born deaf
1 was born with brain damage
the mother falls pregnant and expresses concern
do you abort the feotus?
Congratulations you just killed Beethoven.

Someone who doesn't know what they don't know might accept this at face value.
Infact many PL's stop there whether through conscious will or a lack of scepticism, won't even check the facts.
A sceptic would find out that Beethoven's family history doesn't reflect this by checking wikipedia.
I have heard a similar arguement posed (possibly more convincingly) about Steven Hawking.
I would argue that sure Beethoven's music is good but if it destroys the mothers own capacity to pursue her dreams I'm not sure how many lives Beethoven's music has saved.
Someone more intelligent than me would build there case that if conception has happened we are obliged on the arguement of potential to not terminate the pregnancy then arguably women should be in no other state ever than pregnant, even should ethically submit to being raped because it may result in a talanted musical composer.
I listen to Beethoven's music on one or two occasions but I'm pretty sure it doesn't do much to help rape victims recover from the violation.

But that's a touchy subject, in fact if I support it too vocally there may be some people driven by their conviction that life is sacred to brutally end mine without any sense of irony.
The point being, if you easily back down from arguements when people spout jargon at you the thing to do is go examine what the jargon means, get yourself up to that level, aka learn.
So what if nobody comments on my private thoughts... I guess I just have to conclude that they

1. are embarassed to voice their own thoughts
2. (most likely) don't have time
3. don't understand what I'm thinking about and accept it at face value.

2 is no help to you, particulalry if you have no time to read (and read more than crime fiction or Dan Brown)
1 & 3 is no help to either of us eh?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Marketing is a Weak Force"

Lebron James. I have to weigh in here, and if I was weighed against lebron I would probably find that I weigh much much less than him.
What I want to point out is that simply, I agree with Michael Jordan, players in the NBA today are marketed too aggressively, they are sold to consumers before their game has developed.
I get SLAM magazine every month, Slam effectively scooped Lebron, being the first bball publication to discover the outstanding Highschool player. They talk about him as if he has already got 2 threepeat championship titles under his belt, has one League MVP, Finals MVP and all defensive player in one season as well as racking up 5 MVP titles and having a career average Triple-Double (double figures in any three of the statistical measures of Scoring, Rebounding, Assists, steals and blocks).
None of which he has actually achieved yet.
There's a historical reason though - The Air Jordan is Nike's top selling shoe. Nike effectively lucked out because they got in Early on Michael Jordan (they also lucked out arguably by employing Tinker Hatfield(?) whom designed most of the range and appealed to Jordan) Jordan made so much money for nike (and himself they still release the Jordan brand shoes every year) that the emphasis was placed on getting to the next Jordan at all costs before anyone could sign him.
So instead of signing up a player like Jordan, or Erwing after a couple of seasons and the rookie starts developing into a team leader (converse told Jordan to get in line) they sign them up in Highschool, both Melo and Bron to the nike brand.
Melo is leading scorer in the league this year, Bron is a jack of all trades. He is undeniably good, but he isn't as good as Scottie Pippen, who in turn was not as good as Jordan, statistically speaking.
More to the point neither of them are anywhere near as likely to win a championship as current back to back MVP and favorite for 3 time MVP Steve Nash who has undeniably revolutionised the game. Steve 'Nasty' Nash is anything but Nasty. He is a white boy from Canada, a formidable player in his own right but is built on Assists. So much so he becomes statistically speaking desceptively good.
He doesn't have an average score of 31.2 points per game but he has the league highest assists per game.
He is the team player, not the star and ironically a star because of it. He is just not cool or marketable even though back to back MVP's haven't been seen since Jordan's time. All his teammates have 20 plus points per game. A basketball team typically fields five players if one is Steve Nash then your other 4 gets 20 ppg. If not they hypothetically get 15 ppg (on average) and so indirectly Steve Nash scores a whopping 40ppg (plus his own) is 60 extra points per game. That in NBA terms cuts the rest up.
But I agree, Bron is not very cool compared to the much more Gangsta Melo, Allen Iverson or the natural showmanship of Vince Carter. but Compared to Nasty Bron is the coolest you ever met.
Steve nash being hard to market as a champion, and despite his dominance not sell anywhere near the magazine covers that Bron or Melo do I keep getting forced down my craw the Lebron is huge.
He has good stats yeah, but they aren't outstanding stats that set him apart in any particular field, he hasn't won a title yet (apart from US teams that also contain Melo and Dwade) and was part of the embarrasing bronze Athens Olympic team.
I don't want to see Bron fail, but I'm sick of him getting put up as a messiah so you can sell more shoes and magazines (and cover the risk of signing up an unproven highschool kid) before he has won anything. Let him win MVP, let him win a title, then start praising him.
He get's more mention than Kobe who won 3 titles, scored 81 points in a game last year and narrowly missed MVP to Steve Nash (they both carry teams in a way, Kobe as a substitute and Nash as a platform) and furthermore Bron doesn't strike me as that interesting or compelling.
Which is true and untrue for a lot of basketball stars.
Anyway I guess I'm just frustrated because I wanted to buy the latest edition of Slam (which he is on the cover of) but it sold out in a day I wanted it because it had a Barkly interview.
I titled this Marketing is a weak force because the perception whilst being strong can't change the reality that Bron is not the MVP, and not Jordan, and not even not-not Jordan (he wears 23) no matter how hard they insist.
Only person that will ultimately make Bron MVP is Bron.
Sorry for the Jargon heavy post.
But my bro says 'Sports important because it's not'

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A sense of Abandonment

It is truly rare for me to lose sleep, except of course during an unbearable heatwave or a truly tumultuose event.
Neither of which has happened to me, prior to exams, work presentations anything like that it never intruded on my land of dreams.
But in looking, for far too long for a housemate I suddenly was hit with the devestating revelation that I possibly have to make a new friend and live harmoniously with them.
Which seems crazy as I have no problem playing bball with strangers every week as my preferred way to spend a weekend unless it is with my best girl, listening to elaborate stories that take nigh on forever to unfold which is endearing to me.
I have no problem with making friends with other people's housemates, but bringing a stranger into my life, my personal space suddenly has my hackles going up.
Which is to say the explanation being that every stranger I play bball with has common ground with me, a love of the game.
The only common ground I have with a lot of potential candidates is that they like me need to live somewhere.
But I feel the pressure of picking somebody to live with that I'm not going to have sex with more than someone I will live with that I am (a partner). I guess again because it is a useful guide (sexual attraction) but housemate seems all together a more complex equation.
I don't know what I want.
It may also be that now its hitting me how different my friends, life and environment are from say 1 year ago. More than a birthday the feeling of home went 'poof' and I was a stranger to myself.
Thankfully if I can't sleep its usually for a good reason, the reason being so I can be awake and think and plan and come up with a strategy. I got back to sleep by 5am ready to get up at 6.
Housemate still looking...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This religion is no more ridiculous than yours

sorry but this had me in tears

Book 2 Book

I finished my first hefty book for the year being 'Persian Fire' an unbiased view of the lead up and fallout of the Battle of Thermopylae.
So on wednesday I headed into Borders and I did a very Christian thing ironically, I went in and bought a book about religion, more so I bought a book that already agreed with what I believed and that in itself was a very Christianlike thing to do.
I bought a book called 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins a book that contains the following too true passage:

Of course dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature (whether by evolution or design). Among the more efective immunological devices is a dire warning to avoid even opening a book like this, which is surely a work of Satan

out of context it seems classic Atheist arrogance but by far this is what has frustrated me most thoroughly every time the 'faith' debate rears its ugly head.
That is the persistence of religion to base its continued validity on simply suppressing reality, or at the very least not responding and not acknowledging the most compelling arguements against its position.
Its all together childish this response. When I am argumentatively cornered my favorite tactic is to change my stance and use circular logic so I am immediately on the winning side and yes this infuriates people but at least in its unsportingness I can admit that I am wrong to the most important person - my self.
The fact is there are a list of common arguements as to why religious entities don't exist particularly the most common face off between Christian vs. Atheism it looks something like this:

The Mutual Exclusiveness of other religions (Islam vs Judaism vs Christianity)
A complete abscence of tangible evidence
The world is round
The Big Bang
Jesus trained in India

which I'm starting to get to the obscure end of the spectrum but frankly my point is its all together easy to go out and find evidence that a religion is full of shite. Strong words but it remains something quite a strong experience. Despite all the energies and efforts of thousands of years of developments it takes me roughly 20 minutes in a bookstore, park or shopping centre to find yet another big hole in the Lord Creators sky.
This book finally (it may not be the first) is simply a least of the arguements for and against the existence of a God, laid out in an ordered manner and argued intelligently by someone admittedly more intelligent than me.
Infact if you check out Mr John's latest blog post for the last couple of months you'll find his response to Pascal's wager.
This book covers Pascals wager too but I'm not up to it yet.
What I will say is that John and I are similar in our approach to the subject of morality yet possibly different I don't know, it is to say that I think that I approach the question on similar lines to John.
But let me elaborate on the incident that caused me to cross the line, the straw if you will that broke the camel's back.
I infact wrote about it before but cant be bothered tracking it down.
I was sitting on a bench in Bourke St. I'd just bought a footlong meatball sub. At the time my dear departed ipod was still functioning and I was listening to it. I even had my reflective aviators on, that give my outlook that dead soulless feel.
It was a beautiful day the sun was shining, the trees were still green.
My eyes, ears, mouth and to some extent nose were all occupied.
I can't imagine how I could communicate more that I am not in the mood for communication yet this signal failed to register on an elderly woman who walked up to me.
I forget what exactly she said straight up, probably small talk but she started saying 'How do we know God exists? we look at this tree and of course we know that god exists...' blah blah blah.
So for me that was probably it right there. You interrupt me, harmless to anyone and everyone (except for maybe the kids from the third world they process into meatballs) and you come and make not just a leap in faith but a leap in logic.
What it boils down to is this compelling arguement.

There is a tree therefore God exists
Because God exists we can assume the tree is proof of the absolute nature of his moral code

First up I don't find a tree a devine miracle. it's a tree, it's a self replicating carbon based protein just like me, its simple it doesn't take a god to create and sculpt every tree the natural world is no evidence for a moral law.
At the very least it is as compelling evidence for any creation myth out there whether it's shintoism, Greco/Roman paganism, Hinduism, Jainism, Mormonism, Dream Time, Heaven's Gate Cult. In that because something exists, we can assume someone created it.
Now this was months before the flash in the pan that was Intelligent design, I've seen a couple of documentaries so far on what may represent the dumbest manouvre by any group so powerful for so long ever.
It was an unprovocked attack on science, intelligent design is at best a poor theory, it has almost no scientific support the two major arguements for it irreducible complexity and mathematical probability have both been entirely discredited.

I'm getting ahead of myelf, similar to John's wager I had come to the epiphany that it simply didn't matter if God existed or not, because the moral code lead me to dislike the prospect of membership to any religion, what John calls the Whiney God. So I ruled on the side of Atheism (because of the compelling reasons to do so) but otherwise felt that the existence of organised religion was something I didn't really have to worry about myself.
We could all live in peaceful coexistance.
But what seems to have become suddenly fashionable is not this view, due in large to intelligent designs attack on science. The significance may be lost on people but basically this was an attempt to take a legitimate educational system and teach it something that was not science, as science.
It was an attack on science itself.

Because I was reading about the persian attempt to conquer Greece, a backwater country with a fledgling system called democracy. The Persian Emporer had conquered effectively most of Asia and had virtually unlimited resources. Greece by contrast where peasents farming sheep and fishing in the sea.
With no particular reason but I wish to assert his dominance (grounded in belief) Xerxes tried to invade, grossly overstretched himself, suffered some humiliating defeats and was repelled from Greece.
Hence hencely unprovoked Persia may have been able to leave the greeks cowering in fear, building and consolidating his own empire and Greece would never have found a reason to unite and thus spread democracy and eventually attack the edges of the Persian empire.
I suspect intelligent design may be a similar stupid and unprovoked attack that may have pushed and fragmented atheist community to unite.??

I guess it comes back to Basil though from my brief visit to Common: All communities find methods of conscious and subconscious inclusion and exclusion and athiests are no different from other religions.
I realise an Atheist that says 'my way is the only way' is just as aggressive as an evangelical christian (though athiests are yet to burn 'heritics' in the name of no god) but I will make instead my own wager:

It is more likely for an Athiest to have a clear sense of right and wrong and behave according to their values, than a believer.

That's the way I'll bet from now on.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

For the Love of the Game

Well I'm on a real fitness kick. If I could just lock down a housemate I may actually succeed in my metamorphosis into a Jazzmatic Funk-dunker or something.
I gotta say getting back out to play was possibly one of the greatest experiences for me of the past month.
I put my new shoes on and on 2pm on a sunday in 30 degree heat I was shooting around 7% accuracy which would be bad in a under 12 league. But playing was great despite a concoction of sunscreen and sweat running down my forehead into my eyes.
But it's decided, I'm converting to a power forward.
Time to hit the gyms and beefcake up. So I can punch through walls, grab rebounds like barkly, and throw rocks the size of ox's like George Washington - by the way google washington sound track.
I'm at work so I can't directly link the video feed.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eric Clapton is God

can play.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How to Ruin a Tool Concert

The real tool fan is elusive, indefinable and unquantifiable.
The drive to conform is repulsive, yet to stand out trecherous.
So what do you do, what do you wear?
Black apparantly, few times do I actually stand out walking around the CBD of Melbourne
yet I was surprised to see the Latest Tool Concert demographic had altered considerably.
I've always loves the dysfunctional way Tool fans fit together in a small space,
it's questionable whether they are united more by the band or their disdain for eachother.
Most thankfully, myself included don't want to belong, just want to enjoy the music.
They are tight.
Playing tool pieces is no mean feet, there is simply too much going on.
By the by, Sydney Myer Music bowl is a shitty venue for a rock concert. If you're going to RHCP bring your ipod.
Anyhoo, fashion icon that I am, turns out I was amongst the 20 or so people that didn't wear black to the concert, and furthermore was one of 4 in a vibrant colour.
I was wearing an orange jacket and knee high cow print socks.
Tool fans are basically a bunch of nerds and a bunch of bogans and everyone inbetween, including country meatheads, emo's, and even a mofugly teeny bopper.
Said teeny bopper screamed real loud when she got excited about a song. Real loud as in louder than the songs themselves. Sure you're excited, I'm excited too but what are we excited about? The music surely, and I mean it's not like tool need any encouragement, 30,000 paid $100 or more to come see them.
And you guy who had to raise your hand and point out the rythym to every song, why? why was that necessary? it wasn't dancing and everyone on the hill had to crane their necks and shuffle about to see anything. Nobody dared mosh.
So you just obstructed four or five peoples view, and your sense of rythym wasn't that good.
Furthermore you were one of many a caught lighting up weed and looking around nervously.
It was not a cool gesture, a defiant self confident stance.
In the tool crowd you can't relate to your fellow fan, you don't know whether you are cool or not.
Thankfully some guy distracted us all by climbing up the canopy in the music bowell. It has to be at least 40 meters high.
The police and security couldn't do shit.
That was funny.
He got arrested. I would have thought he'd do a graceless drop amongst the fans then mingle.
Within maybe ten seconds he would have been lost to them. Instead he just crawled right into their hands.
Oh well, next up Clapton.