Friday, February 29, 2008


Tomorrow if all goes well I will have bought a bike, and liberated myself. I will be able to travel whenever I want, so long as those times coincide with when my bike is not stolen.
So far the best airline I have used is Malev Air. Hungaries national airline. Maybe its the same story all over Europe, but Malev air has hardly any people on it, so you get a whole row to yourself. And you can sleep.
A few observations about the evils of airtravel -

1. The culture of carry-on luggage
Airlines allow way too much, and they allow people to bring way too much, and it makes for unpleasant and slow boarding and disembarking. People are too afraid of losing their luggage and want to save time by never checking it. And for some reason you are allowed to bring bags roughly the size of a microwave oven. And in India some people literally try to move house taking just hand luggage, and the lengthy negotiations of what gets packed where takes a long time.

2. Online check in and seat allocation
I am the dream customer. I never get up during a flight to go to the toilet, I don't recline my seat, I prefer the window so I can just sit still, watch the inflight entertainment or read my book.
But somehow airlines think it is great service to allow people to pick the good seats online before the flight. But what are good seats? the good seats are the ones furthest from screaming infants, the good seats aren't behind Asian businessmen that wait a whole 2 seconds before reclining their seat into your teeth.
The best seat in the plane is the one behind me. I would kill to sit behind someone like me, quiet, respectful, stationary all the good qualities. No online seating wont be a plus until it merges with online dating.

3. Stopovers
A cheap alternative to hotels is to sleep in an airport lounge, some airports have reclined sofa like chairs, like heathrow. But others dont. And it seems universally everyone is renovating their airports, perpetually. So the time to fire up an angle grinder is in the middle of the night.
Heathrow had all these signs that said 'make an airport london can be proud of' plastered all over the construction areas. But in heathrow I couldn't even find a shower, and the friendly staff hearded all the in transit passangers into one of the coldest terminals for the night, instead of the heated central area.
And I reminisced back to the capsule hotels of Japan, now that I've seen the famous renaissance atmosphere of Hostels in Europe, I think again that capsules provide everything you need on a small scale. I think more airports should plug more capsule beds into a wall somewhere for overnighters. They are enclosed, and face it, its on the otherside of customs so you are talking about naturally the wealthiest people in the world. If securities a problem leave the pull down flap off and have them open, but at least you don't then have someone wake you up in the middle of the night asking you to move so they can change fluorescent lightbulbs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hug a Therapist

When on a plane to London, I started getting anxious. I think 3 weeks of being more or less alone was getting to me.
And also possibly watching how far I was going from everything familiar to me, in a mass of Indian and British nationals.
I got claustrophobic and told myself 'slow down slow down' and did, I realised watching the little picture of the plane creeping over the middle east wasn't helping so I flicked over to 'Things we lost in the fire' a film that by all rights should have been depressing and not just because it featured Halle Berry in a dramatic role (yeah like storm was better). But because it was the story of a woman who suddenly gets stuck as a single parent raising two young children and her dead spouses best friend is a recovering heroine addict. Making a happy circle of joy.
But its hard to feel sad around Benicio Del Toro and in one moving scene when he is in narcotics anonymous he shares his story of the tragic death of his only friend.
And I thought, man support groups, therapy and just any form of support is great.
Particularly when you are on rock bottom.
One profound revelation I had was meeting a person (albiet briefly) that actually suffered from genuine depression. And I realised, this person isn't like me, in that they can't exercise to make themselves feel better. Have sex to make themselves feel better, they just have a persistent chemical imbalance that makes them feel down no matter what circumstances they are in.
I am simultaneously reminded of an individual I know (thirdhand) who has bipolar disorder, and had described instances of being stuck in a depressed state standing in front of a light switch unable to muster the motivation to switch it on for hours.
And furthermore this person worked in a profession where he was treating people and hearing their ills and abuses all day long, and he became an informal councillor to them.
Knowing his reputation was on the line and that he had problems himself he drove himself over to the next town to get support from a professional.
And this kind of thing is what seperates the wheat from the chaff.
Getting help, if there is one thing my father has taught me, is a huge competitive advantage. Much like apologies are as well. One of those popular counterintuitive advantages revolving around the concept of being weak.
Unless you are part of the Dalai Lama crowd and believe emotions may cause chemicals in the brain rather than chemicals in the brain causing emotions. Emotions are caused by chemicals in the brain, I guess this is the case, because anti-depressents and popular drugs like alcohol are chemicals that can alter your emotional state and mood.
But it is true that conscious processes like thinking about your tramp of a wife can produce chemicals in the brain that alter your mood, such as anger or depression. And councilling and therepy can really help you out of that hole.
I last used a councillour to help me pull myself out of a particularly bad case of grief, to rationally understand what was happening to me, to give me exercises to help me sleep and gradually improve my overall mood.
And now my life is good again, and furthermore I can testify that my particular resistance to that particular form of grief has improved tenfold.
Yes it was an admission of weakness, I got help and I got stronger, so strong now I'm sure I could crush your manly head like it was no more than an overripe avocado. Infact I could probably now crush an avocado stone and all with my fist.
But that aside, organisations like beyond blue do good work, whilst googling for their ads I found the search for beyond blue on youtube came up with a reem of a womans video journals and she can probably tell you better than I ever could, what being depressed is like.
At anyrate, I said when leaving Honda that I realised that my own personal setbacks I had bodly battled through to the otherside probably indicated that these sorts of things were going on in colleagues lives all around us, and that we only see the tip of the iceberg.
My wish there was that people would pursue more stable balanced lives, but I think in general it holds true for everyone, that almost all of us know somebody who is going through taxing times at any given moment.
But that the ones that will emerge stronger from these, are the ones that leverage the efficiency of putting their confidence in a group or an individual that can give them constructive objective advice and also motivate them to pull through and learn from it.
So that said, if you are down, get help. Employers often have employee assistance programs, universities have free councilling, and there is at last resort talking to a GP. If you want to kick an addiction, go for god's sake into a sad gathering where you will get a clap for just making the effort. Better some applause for a really low bar (like being clean 2 days) than no appluase.
I think for me, travelling through aisa particularly, from depressed Japan, to run away train China and India and now to depressed Europe, I have noticed how important self-esteem is on a national level. I think the legacy of British Colonies, isn't just genocide of indigenous peoples, but also that Britans realitivly unenviable cuisine and drab architecture meant that the UK, USA, Australia and Canada are confident that they won't be wiped out by globalisation. Indeed in those cases of the expansion of McDonalds into every country, I don't see one that's local cuisine has suffered, or even really been threatened. Its all these countries that have movements and shake in their boots that if they don't throw up protective barriers their cultures will be whiped out, are the ones that have lost touch of their cultures the most.
Same same with me circa two years ago, I had loads of confidence and no self esteem. For me a big outcome of councilling was laying the foundation of self esteem, and whilst I don't enjoy flattery and compliments, I did have to learn to tell myself I was proud of me. Something I had never done before and something society actively discourages through its masochistic glorification of modesty as a virtue.
Now I'm a regular Mohammed Ali, and I have the weakness of needing councilling to thank for it.
If you know someone who is down, reach out be generous, be genuine, be honost. If they are stuck in a rut, get them councilling yourself.
And lastly if you know a councillour give them a hug. and if you are still to strong to acknowledge councillours and therapists and support groups and social workers do good valid work, give them a high five and see how they feel.

Bury Treasure

Yes I'm serious.
I was watching Michael Douglass' "King of California" and was inspired.

A) Michael Douglas represents that "real" rish, the rich where you are rich enough to pick jobs you want to do not based on their commercial viability or everlasting pursuit of ROI growth.
B) Bury treasure.

With Al Gore and everyone else in a Bush inspired era talk about the shitty legacy left for our grandkids (and let's face facts, us) its high fucken time we thought about leaving an actual good, cool fucken legacy for future generations, and that is bruy treasure somewhere, draw a map and then hide it somewhere really obscure like in a childrens books section in a public library.
Go carve symbols into tree trunks, carve rocks into animal shapes. Bury clues along the way. Bt seriously put down "0 to 100+ properties in a year" and set aside some of your portfolio to buy impressive persian style jewellery, maybe some pieces of 8 and perhaps some bullion. Put it in a chest and fucken bury it.
You may think I'm insane but that's just what I plan to do.

Apologies and Clarifications

Ive been calling Thomas Friedman, Tim Friedman. I finished his book this morning and I have to say it was an interesting read. Namely because I dont really disagree with any of his claims or findings, maybe just his ordering. It was an odd read because he paints a big rosy picture of how wonderful globalization is and then addresses the glaring issues. This means he either normally has a dumb audiance and wanted to leverage maximum shock value by saving almost till last the big questions like "where will Chinas resources come from?" and "what about the fact that all the growth so far in India and China has been under extremely bad governance models?" or "what about the effect of the hindu caste system?" he does address them all indicates awareness and downplays them.
Im not sure if Ill have a response ever but one thing I can say is that globalization doesnt mean americanization but that doesnt mean it isnt homogenisation. I do agree that homogonisation of the best medical and educational practices is a good thing but not of a lot of things like fashion and cuisine.
While interacting with foreign cultures feels diverse it is infact the opposite. Its cashing in on diversity. Diversity I reluctantly admit is built with walls not bridges, not exclusively but sustainably it requires some time for any entity to draw within itself and not look to any external references.
Its that exercise where you split up into groups and then share the ideas at the end.
I dont think connectivity should be a full time thing for any person. Self esteem needs me time to build.

That said National pride does not equal self esteem.

The second apology is to bryce who I slandered and certainly my throwaway marks are careless, bryce does respect me I know this, the important thing though is that he doesnt stick his tongue up my arse and tell me my shit doesnt stink. Thats the disrespect I mean, I mean he's genuine.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Morley Funny

Not sure when I'll be in a cafe again so I may aswell plug Morley and his comedy shows which he can tell you about himself
Morley is a funny guy and boo to you casual readers because his best improv material can only really be experienced by knowing him and lulling him into the sense that he is merely having a conversation not performing.
I hope his stage act contains shit throwing. Because I won't be there.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Next Time you make up an Imaginary Girlfriend Make up one that Hates You

The title of this post is derived from a Lano and Woodley scene where Frank steels Col's imaginary girlfriend. The actual line is - 'Next time you blah blah blah make up one that likes you'.
But in essence I disagree. If you are going to escape in fantasy you may as well make it interesting, full backstories and the like. I myself as afrigid year 7 (a condition that persisted till late year 9) have made up girlfriends. But I made up good ones, maybe taking a leaf from 'the bigger the lie the more people will believe it' school invented by Hitler.
I started off cliche (meeting on a beach holiday) same same as in Napolean Dynamite. But then I embellished, driven on by my fellow bullshit artist Steven to newer dizzier heights as he claimed 'to know her' so I ended up dating a girl called cat with black hair, two different coloured eyes and her best friend was an albino.
That's about all I could recall because the illusion was short lived. One has to drop these imaginary girls in order to persue real ones from time to time.
But anyway, I have been reading up on some authors I like, and a couple of threads seem to fall together.
I have never read 'Closing Time' the sequal to Catch-22 but I will say that Catch-22 should replace the bible, koran, talmad and Mao's little red book as the most instructive novel ever written.
Followed only by George Orwell's 1984 which had I my way would make compulsory in year 7 and year 12, as nothing is more instructive of power.
And both these books are masochistic. They are not stories of hope and survival but despair. And still they remain incredibly entertaining reads. Admittedly Yossarian has that golden aura around him, but he is a prolonged tortured soul, and one could not side that had he the choice he would rather have not suffered any of the events (except for maybe the sex scenes) that he did in being the protagonist.
And Smith in 1984 undergoes a most brutal interrogation, reeducation process that is so horrific and so complete it forever changed the way politics is weighed and measured. It held a mirror up to a pointless greedy dark side of humanity and allowed no escape.
So to call either work escapist, whether John Smith being crushed by the completness of Big Brothers cold domination or the offhand way Joseph Heller springs the despair of the 'we've got your mates' with the soul possible exceptions of Clevinger and Orr, to call these escapist is wrong. They are challenging and instructive.
Now while Catch-22 is a work of redundant circular logic, Orwell's writing has held my awe from the first in how much economy of words he can achieve. Something I seem to be unable to do...ever.
As Blaise Pascal said 'I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time' except he said it in french. But the sentiment is all right. Its harder to say more with less than less with more.
Indeed George Orwell at least left instructions for how to write well -

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
    Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

But this isn't comprehensive enough for what I am getting at, what I enjoy in writing, not just escapism but functional instruction. Orwell's rules don't cover the emotion of writing (and reading)
But then there is Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s rules for writing:
  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
    Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
    Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
    Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
    Start as close to the end as possible.
    Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
    Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
    Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

There you have illusions to economy, and furthermore that sadist aspect. I wouldn't prescribe these rules as a magic bullet, but like getting a jump shot happening in b-ball if everyone used them as training wheels we would get a lot better quickly.
But then that's the thing does all fiction have to be instructive, if you want to talk economy then there's nothing like strippng the fiction all together until you get the mass of atoms known as 'non-fiction'.
And this is good and I would urge people to read non-fiction if it truly even exists. (which I guess it must since opinions are facts) but then take one of the best series of books I've ever read that don't have any clear moral - A Song of Ice and Fire.
These are put simply, masterpieces of story telling, and yes still instructive because the tension is created by exposing characters ignorance when the reader knows better (such as Arya Stark's squandering of her Assasins 'three lives') that can literally have you tearing out your hair in frustration and couples it superbly with exploitaation of the readers ignorance when the characters know better. And he does this through shifting and introducing narratives such that good becomes bad, bad becomes good and your sympathy doesn't know where to go. As opposed to Tolkeins black and white world and Robert Jordan's ultimate evils, A Song of Ice and Fire leaves the waters muddy and absolutely no relief.
And that brings me nicely to Tolkein, I never really liked The Rings, or at least I red it and could count the interesting parts on one hand - gollums wretchedness, the battle scenes, the Nazghul, the balrog.
And the rest frankly put me to sleep. Would I prefer that Tolkein had happened or that he hadn't? happened of course, his real offering was creating a platform where a story could take place şn a complex and self contained universe. But his universe is dull. Sorry true tolkeinite nerds but the real achievement of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings wasn't in how he was true to the story, but how he sexed it up, how he made it actually bareable to sit through. And for that matter The Rings Trilogy features some of the worst acting of all time such that should I rewatch it my initial score is lowered each time.
But I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong with The Rings until recently, largely because my finger has for most of my life been busy elsewhere. I don't give things much thought unless they are thrown in my face.
And yet here it was.
I would like to reference Mark Twain 'It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.' and that is to say if there is one thing Japan teaches you it is that consensus aint worth much.
Getting closer, more unified isnt universally good. Diversity and difference make things interesting, some conflict is good. It is friction afterall that makes sex pleasurable.
And finally China Mieville came along and stepped over the line and insulted Tolkein, or simply said 'get over it'
Say what you will I like Mieville's work or what I have read so far. Maybe there are the kind of Marxist Hard-on undertones that keep most people away from protests and socialist alternative movements, but the massochism is there.
Tolkein reveres the happy ending, as the ultimate responsibility of an Author.
Whereas Mieville's Perdido St Station for its flaws, I think has one of the best unhappiest endings since I saw Seven. In seven the directors commentary talks about the 'wrath' of Brad Pıtt as being necessary to get that feeling that no matter how many bullets he emptied into Kevin Spacey, Spacey won. The storyboards toyd with Morgan Freeman providing some vigilante relief but they stuck to their guns.
Perdido st station simply destroys. It destroys the lives of its characters in a rare move for fantasy which is, they are dragged into a pointless venture, orchestrate their own peril and lose miserably, and thanks to the failings of the characters that make them so human. The one piece of refuge for the reader is taken away, and there is no means by which to resolve it.
Simalarly in the first book I read and the follow up to Perdido St Station, there is the Scar in which we are given a protagonist it is almost impossible to like. We suffer her and watch as she is manipulated and we are misdirected through around 6 or 7 climaxes. An achievement in itself in that it doesn't seem stretched at least not to me. And the Scar ends up being everywhere and in a true absurdist fashion, we never get there either.
Compare that to meandering through middle earth. Cooking breakfast sausages and reading painful chapters such as 'a shortcut to mushrooms' yes if tolkien where to publish tomorrow he would be eaten alive for that piece of shit.
The amazing thing I find is that I ever read beyond a shortcut to mushrooms...because I was not relieved of boredom or nonesense such as Tom Bombadil's cameo for several chapters more.
The Hobbit is much more childlike and at a much more readable pace to be fair. But The Rings Trilogy is like Netscape Navigator - crucial to the development of the whole internet but inferior product now. Hell it's like Explorer 3.0 or Mozilla Firefox 1.0 superceded.
But not just by more user friendly features but by more challanging interfaces.
And so if you really want to explore what writing shouldn't be - read Tolkein and then read the essay Epic Pooh, as Mieville was certainly not the first to level with JRR.
I didn't like Tolkein because frankly it put me to sleep, but these guys say it is irresponsible because it preaches comfort over development, a yearning for a nostalgic past. It pushes babes back into the arms of mothers rather than sending them down the river to fend for themselves. And certaimly a lot of the most devout fans of Tolkiens that I have met have correalated strongly with the people I would deem least likely to survive Hurricane Katrina.
But seriously, if you're going to make up a girlfriend make up one that has turned your home into a prison, whose rampant heroine addiction makes no consumer good safe. Who's intimidating family keep you hostage.
And then when it comes to finding an actual partner, go non-fiction. Avoid tattoos, pick the funny ones, reduce emotional baggage, assess their impact on your esteem, adress financial and family planning realities.
And use condoms.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And what's More

Add this to my previous post.

Today I walked into what I thought would be a kebab shop. Only to find myself in that chestnut, bar where I miraculously rack up a $600 tab scenario. And the thing is I my intuition told me, too late when I walked past the second waiter in the doorway, and whilst not being particularly thrilled or confident about the whole thing having accepted my fate I just sat back and watched the whole sorry facade.
I got out paying only a $100 'protection' fee because I refused to buy myself or anyone else any drinks from the get go. So it ended up being more of a half hearted shakedown in a bar.
I fell in because I thought it was broad daylight, I'd end up in some kebab house. Stupid me.
That aside though I wanted to focus on this one phenomena of when your mind just knows that things don't add up and don't work out.I didn't go and study a whole heep of economic textbooks, talk to Industry leaders and so fourth like Friedman did with 'The World is Flat' and the fact of the matter is, there's nothing I really dispute him on. Except that I don't assume some great wonderful goal at the end of the GNP tunnel like he does, and I don't value hard work.
No mostly I guess I would have to admit to pathetic rationalisation. That is in India, China and to a lesser extent Thailand... I just opened my eyes and didn't dust off the impression that 'something is wrong with this picture'
And then I began a superficial dig to see what could explain my feeling.
And I forgot a few things -

Namely - there are forces I genuıinely believe are good, and they are simply reducable to things that increase these: participation, enjoyment.
But the rest namely outsourcing and offshoring I view as cheating, that is handing developing economic cool spots all the hot stuff without the development and maturity in place. I don't think I covered that well.
But basically what I mean is, something my bass teacher made a proverb for me - the slower you go the faster you learn.
Friedman emphasises fundamentals in maths and science. I would extend that to fundamentals in economics, morality and governance. These are big yawning holes in the Big Emerging Markets, and furthermore recent development has been rewarding the corrupt and inept management precedents set by India and China's governments alike.

And then this is just how I think, in analogies, an appeal to universalism. So here is my bonus chapter...

A good worker is like a good woman

Bill Gates, Friedman and a lot of references talk about how great Indian workers are, they are cheap, enthusiastic and hard working. They in the book all marvel about the advantages of Chinese and Indian workers and scorn the fat lazy knowledge workers of the developed world.
And one can tsk tsk at how uncompetitive or perhaps anti-competitive workers in the west have become.
Unions are bad guys afterall right, extortionist that can't look past their own self interest.
All of that. Now let me talk about women disgustingly.
Japanese women are docile, hygenic, submissive and polite. They do as they are told and keep their feelings to themselves. How lazy our women have become. Why I would be crazy to marry anyone else.
This is the exact same thing. Outsourcing and offshoring may not be bad on paper, but it also threatens hard won necessary humanitarian rights that come from decades of labor movements. Just like every man getting himself a mail order bride for obediance and sexual relief undermines a lot of hard won necessary and humanitarian rights to come out of the womens movement and sexual revolution.
Fare trade not free trade. Best practice is best protection too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

All The Lines are Blurred Now

When one leaves to go travelling, and styles said travels as some kind of warrior pilgrimage one may speculate on how they have changed. I think thanks to haircuts a few wardrobe purchases and the odd tropical disease my appearance may have sufficiently changed, but these surely will change again.
Furthermore it would have been easy say at my highschool reunion to remark how little I had changed like I could easily have asserted as true of my peers.
But the hard changes to notice are the internal ones. The changes of the mind. And the great thing about being a rational reasoning being is that I can change my mind when presented with new evidence or stimulus.
But I feel an essay coming on and it regards mostly this phenomena of 'Globalisation' influenced in one part by my travel experiences and in another part by the book The World Is Flat - now the largest selling non-fiction book in the world, and in part by reading Noam Chomsky.
You see I simply don't know what to believe anymore. As an anti-nationalist, globalisation or its truer form internationalisation should be right up my arsehole. I have long argued that I would not favor an Australian over any other decent human being in distributing opportunities.
As a business man I love business and management, systems and processes, yet find myself now leaning towards anarchism.
As an artist I love diversity and creativity and now find them almost mutually exclusive.
'The World Is Flat' seems to sniff the arsehole of globalization and like what it sees there. I think it occupies that zone of being dangerously well written, like most travellouges on Japan. He does true up the equation in later chapters and addresses a lot of the important issues however these issues if you ask me should have been upfront.
Then there's Noam who I'll quote later on, but he points out a lot of the baggage left over from how 'successful' the west has been and how wonderful a precedent has been set for the Big Emerging Markets to play catch up.
But I'll list my thoughts in subcategories below... get a drink now and go to the toilet if you need to.

Rowan of Rin Defence:

From what I know of statistics and economics the best hope for globalization the best outcome is portrayed in the Emily Rodda book Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal. That is that 'economic success' is caused by certain governance and conduct.
In the story Rowan the protagonist in his third appearance is chosen to select the new Keeper of the Crystal, an important position amongst the aquatic folk who resemble large sea monkeys or something. In the end Rowan picks the strange pensive candidate to assume the mantle of ultimate power amongst the people, realising too late that he is a sabotuer placed by the rebel camp.
Fortunately the Crystals power is such that it fundamentally alters the sabotuer and he acts nobly and righteously thwarting the evil plans of his masters. They discover that the nature of the Crystal means that it doesn't matter who is the keeper afterall.
And hopefully economic growth is like that. And theres plenty to suggest it is so. Affluence is linked to hıgher education which is linked to a reduction in religious fanatacism, more alrtuism and social responsibiltity, stable governance and so fourth.
Because the possibly xenophobic thought that occured to me in China and India just looking at the street is 'man I don't want these dudes running anything' the disregard for infastructure, the environment, community and so fourth made me think if these are going to become the new economic powerhouses then we may aswell just tip all the money and resources we have into the ocean now.
But The World is Flat points out that generally with movement into industrial age and increases in trade and all that everyones standard of living impoves.
And certainly Japan are a case study for this, they are relatively harmless and have yeilded huge improvements of benifit to all in the entertainment, electronic goods and automotive industries in their rapid rise to economic powerhouse.
So hopefully this latest wave of globalisation drags up China, India and the other laggards to a standard of governance that pretty much just resembles our own.
So what I am saying is that whether someone is Indian, Chinese or American wont matter at all, they'll more or less act, look and run exactly the same.
Except, the Japan thing isn't true. Nintendo, Honda, Sony & Toyota and to a lesser extent the now virtually defunct/superflous Mitsubishi (and time will tell with Sony) brought the innovations and the rest just sort of freeloaded. And now Japan is a leaky hulk of capitalism up to its eyeballs in bad debt, consumer debt, national debt and stagnant growth.
And this points to the question of Success. Because worst case is that the CCP remains in control of a new rich China, attacks Japan, Taiwan and so on drastically diminishing the quality of lives of the asian region (through reduced freedoms and incredibly poor TV programming) or India creates a pool where even the best knowledge workers are so abundant the Labor market becomes commodified and all social safety nets drop out in a stupid western bid to stay competitive leaving everywhere as well planned, governed and competitive as India.

The Question of Success:

Of course the thing about catch up is where you are catching up to. Globalization 3.0 or whatever strikes me as a timely distraction. I was dissapointed to see that 'Affluenza' had been ripped off by some british dude, after my initial excitement that Clive Hamilton had gotten his important work published in progressive UK.
But it is the issue facing all the 'successful' nations in the world, that we have become obsessed with the pursuit of more stuff. Our lives are essentially meaningless and to top that up Climate change and Sustainability are becoming big arse issues in the political and social spheres.
That is that capitilism isn't enough and I believe it revolves around how we still measure power and success, even economics and success - GNP. The incredibly flawed system whereby all expenditure is good.
Raise your hand if you live in a country with automotive manufacturing. It probably costs you as a tax paying member of society some portion of your taxes.
The automotive manufacturing industry is a glorified work for the dole scheme, nothing new there. But why do countries lust after it? because nothing gets an economy going like it. Despite pitiful subsidised profits, it magically consumes a lot of resources, which shows up in GNP and so an economy looks stronger. Whereas digging and filling holes (ironically sustainable) wouldn't look as good on GNP hence we donit have such welfare schemes.
But that's the fundamental goal of capitalism - Noam Chomsky on it -

Take the Kyoto Protocol. Destruction of the environment is not only rational; it's exactly what you're taught to do in college. If you take an economics or a political science course, you're taught that humans are supposed to be rational wealth accumulators, each acting as an individual to maximize his own wealth in the market. The market is regarded as democratic because everybody has a vote. Of course, some have more votes than others because your votes depend on the number of dollars you have, but everybody participates and therefore it's called democratic. Well, suppose that we believe what we are taught. It follows that if there are dollars to be made, you destroy the environment. The reason is elementary. The people who are going to be harmed by this are your grandchildren, and they don't have any votes in the market. Their interests are worth zero. Anybody that pays attention to their grandchildren's interests is being irrational, because what you're supposed to do is maximize your own interests, measured by wealth, right now. Nothing else matters. So destroying the environment and militarizing outer space are rational policies, but within a framework of institutional lunacy. If you accept the institutional lunacy, then the policies are rational

and I would never have put it right like that, rational behavior under institutional lunacy, it's like my old win win trump card - athiests should kill all believers. Accepting the institutional lunancy if you believe you are saved, and heaven is much much better than earth, so if you are killed prematurely you go there, and an athiest is damned, but can better his/her own cause because they can reduce the number of believers by ethically sending them to a better place, and so fourth.
Of course the win-win killing believers is lunacy because an athiest doesn't accept that anyone they kill will go to heaven, and thus it isn't an act of compassion.
But back on track, the whole crux of the issue is that in the successful world, people are depressed. People work in jobs they hate, kids use drugs purchased with their parents economic success, the environment is dissapearing, families are disfunctional, work hours increased, farmers shoot themselves over debt, gambling is on the rise, people are over medicated... this is success.
Let me go further with what I noticed in good old Asia...

To be Rich Is Boring:

In Japan if you make it you get the priveledge of putting on an easily recognisable uniform, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren etc. same same, travel to the best part of Beijing you find the exact same outlets, stay in the most expensive hotels anywhere in Asia, and you can shop at the exact same stores in the Lobby of the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, Beijing Hotel, and any street in Tokyo.
Like getting 99.95 in your enter score (or equivalent top marks for any Uni entrance program) your choices are while technically the widest, deceptively narrow - doctor or lawyer, being rich means you end up with only 4 or 5 brands to choose between, even though technically you can afford anything.
So you have the best of this and the best of this and lose all diversity.
This poses another problem to this wonderful rapid development - it is at the crux of development vs globalization. Development is where you go to India and say - okay these people need access to schools, clean water and such and you lend money and send in volunteers and scientists and try to make them happen. And unfortunately the only big success story of development was post WW2 Europe. Which wasn't so much development as redevolopment as the living generation could remember good infrastructure and management.
Globalization is more the reaganite 'trickle down' arguement and as an example of the fuzzy line, this is one of the fuzziest, the arguement goes that once the top businesses start making money through working as outsourcing for IT in India and Labour and new markets for Nike in China then the rest of society will get dragged up. Entreprenuers will start to invest and pull everyone through the globalization hole to salvation. And maybe.
But when I watch TV in China and India and watch the same marketing forces at play targeting consumer goods to the new rich that can afford TV I do this little role play.
Remember the official script says as a young IT professional in India that has made it they think something like 'great now I'm going to use my wages to help my community build a school for the poor children who don't go right now' or 'I'm going to invest in a water purification plant for the slums' yet the TV adds are - like HSBS Bank India's add promoting personal loans by portraying an inept comical father flipping coins to pick between furniture for his wife, a plasma screen for his daughter and some similarly expensive thing for his whining son, the moral - get a loan and satisfy all three.
And in China the Johnny Walker ad portrays a future where everything is dominated by China - outer space, movie director seats and Fortune's 10 richest men all being Chinese men (I wonder how China's richest individual a woman feels about that).
All promoting an incredibly shallow new world of riches awaiting the BEMs if only they'd hurry up.
So the script for the new rich infact reads 'this is great this new money, now I have an income I can go secure a loan and buy myself a plasma screen TV, a BMW, expensive whiskey, good clothes, etc etc.'
And this is one point that caused my lines to go fuzzy, particularly in India.
Tim Friedman the author of 'The World is Flat' in discussing 'The Great Sorting Out' poses some interesting 'sort this out' challenges. Particularly his who's exploiting who Indiana vs India, whereby the state of Indiana saved money and got superior service by selling a big contract to Tata communications in India until protectionists had the contract torn up.
The arguements are that India ain't being exploited if we 'save' the Indians 'left to rot on the docks of Mumbai and Bangalore' with their 'God given talent' firstly I like the use of 'god given' because as far as I am aware there is a hindu caste system that helps from birth sort out talent in India, and a lot of my Hindu (and to a lesser extent Indian buddhist) friends often have remarks 'yeah but they are poor for a reason' as if poverty rather than being an evil to be removed, is part of the current social order, and even with rationalisation in place to polish up the point of view, a belief in a karmic caste system cannot be removed from the roots of this belief.
And expanding it, being anti national cuts both ways - that is we seem to be forgetting in both cases that the IT professionals and China's new rich represent laughably minimal minorities, that are large in sheer scale of population only, the old 'there's a million millionaires in India' saying, which before you say 'hot-diggety' you need the masses of poor and starving and diseased propping up those lucky few pointed out to you. The sheer size of the body of people remaining to be pulled up means that even at 10% growth a year we will long run out of every mineral on earth before they get to the top of their own country as it now stands.
And then there's the kids rotting on the docks of London, there are rich and poor in every society, whether its India or the USA - I read today that 40% of London's kids live in poverty
but the answer to 'who's exploiting who?' goes a little of the path of the 'goal' that western marketing of the Affluenza school is promoting.

NASA Taxi Drivers

I was told in my Year 10 Economics class that after the moon landing and NASA got scaled back a lot of the NASA scientists were so overqualified that they ended up having to drive taxi cabs, as there was no other institution that needed such qualified rocketscientists.
Simarlarly, when I stand on the street just outside my hotel door in Bombay, I wonder 'what the fuck is India doing producing world class IT professionals?' and that is my uncooth answer to Friedman's sort it out challange. The fact that genius IT pros and engineers from Indias 'foresighted' IT institutes are 'rotting on the docks' is just another testimony to Indias incompetence.
The street reveals more abundant work for India's neglected intellectual capital than could ever be imagined. In the form of cival engineering projects, architecture, construction, infrastructure, sanitation, sewege, housing and all the related service industries.
The point is that India is a shithole, that's why so many people want to emigrate still despite the world being flat, and whilst I saw plenty of ads for face creams, plasma screens, mobile phone ringtones etc. I didn't see any promoting clean streets, clean drinking water, good infrastructure, housing developments etc. Namely nobody advertises the commons, in the west they are taken for granted, in the developing world they are ironically forgotten in the race to hypercapitalism.
I would sort it out by arguing that there is in fact plenty of domestic demand that is latent in the developing world.
It just needs development, not for a developed world brain drain of the talent pool most needed to ımprove everyones living standards at home.
So I teeter on this point, maybe the trickle down whilst not being the best way, is the only way to develope countries to use the private sector to get around incompetent management. Or maybe we should shut them off, give them loans and force themselves to clean up first and enter the free market at much higher living standards.

Circumventing Responsibility:

Okay so the Chinese people, even if capitalism and greed doesn't bring out their best side, I freely admit the chances of it destabalising the CCP is worth the gamble.
But India is a democracy last time I checked, thus the people have a say in how the country is run. To let the private sectors of other countries go straight in and cash up and employ (taking advantage of lower labour costs thanks to overpopulation and economic mismanagement) the private sector thus improving their lives is I would argue, validating economic mismanagement. Now everyone seems to be in awe of the opportunıty presented by Indias numerous population and numerous poverty. How competitive they are, how hard working.
Before broadband and fiber optic cables came along and allowed knowledgework to be transported to India, there was already a way that India could improve its living standard, lower the cost of real estate and food, increase wages, with little inflation and increase employment. Same for China.
Have less children. The only foreign corporation necessary might have been Ansell.
Yet now its fantastic because for 4000 job positions India gets 1 million applicants and if you didn't get into University you better own a taxi.
Same same with microsofts knowledge workers in the Beijing research lab.
It's all about the benifits of low demand relative to massive supply. Microsoft can skim the cream of the Phd crop. So can Tata in India.
And furthermore now that knowledge work can be shipped, that means knowledge workers in Australia, America, Europe and Japan have to compete against India and China. Enough to replace our small working populations, whilst through the misfortune of Ovarian lottery can lower their own wages, work 14 hour days and come in on weekends for the prestige of working in a call center or research laboratory.
Friedman starts outlining the new untouchable and 'lifelong employability' including remodelling the education system which I fully endorse.
But again, 14 hour days, working weekends. These aren't great developments in my book. Or even admirable. They are the end of humanity, not a beginning. And here Friedman and I depart. Nothing can more impoverish life than the advantages of economic efficiency and overwork.

Understanding Inflation:

Amartya Sen an Indian national wrote exstensively on how famine isn't just shortage related but also relates to pricing mechanisms. One thing I think almost totally overlooked in all the race to capitalism is inflation. Whilst in Beijing the government was fixing prices and price ceilings in the leadup to spring festival.
But Dawkin's had this to say about birth control relating to the 'advantage' posed from the economic ineptitude of India and China şn the past half century -
... leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods ... express a preference for "natural" methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.

That is that the essential question is at some point as these cultures shift from poverty and agricultural rural communities to more lucrative and glamorous knowledge work and living in 'magnificent' mega cities, and invariably they shift from net exporters of food to net importers - where is that food going to come from.
Will there be an imposed class system, where certain castes and provinces are forced to work the land.
The Chinese I have come across universally have one great unshakable source of nationalism - food. They love how cheap, tasty and wonderful Chinese cuisine is. Jerry actually forgoes all the advantages of living in Australia over China because he is too bored with Melbournes tiny selection of Chinese restaurants.
Personally I unlike Jerry am able to enjoy cuisine that isn't Chinese or fast food, but I suspect most Chinese are imagining being wealthy as all the more wonderful because they don't think prices would go up. That is they would have the same fantastic retail experience of China as tourists on western wages do.
And so the big questions are - when China fulfiils its ambitions of dominating global economies, where will China outsource its manufacturing to? where will India outsource the tedium of bookkeeping to?
I think that noody really is envisioning and end of poverty in all this, but a bottomless fountain of poorer people to be leveraged and more affluenza inflicted consumers of all colours of the rainbows.

What is it all about:

Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore. - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

From Thailand to leaving India high context or as I would call them - status cultures started to annoy me. And in no small part because I just couldn't walk anywhere without being harassed.
One Indian taxi driver lamented to me as I walked past him on my return to my hotel how 'I just walked everywhere' much to his frustration. And then there are all the people trying to be a guide, informal tours and so fourth.
Thailand is a curious place because everybody will tell you how everybody else is ripping you off, without noticing that this casts suspicion on there own wages.
My friend Shon-shon was determined to carry her own pack along the Kakoda trail and we briefly discussed oh so long ago how good it was to give someone a wage and such.
But what value should independance get? I have flip flopped on my previous view that you should give that income to people. I think its totally up to you.
You see If I was a good tourist I would pay 5 people to carry me everywhere and someone else to wipe my arse in Asia. Someone else to talk for me, someone to point for me and someone with eyes to see for me.
It at somepoint gets ridiculous and the line is where you actually value the service or not. If you don't value it you are handing money to a beggar. And there's no other way around it.
You could value having your pack carried or you could not. The choice is what is wonderful. Just like my favorite and most relaxing thing to do in a foreign country is walk the streets and soak up the atmosphere.
But in India and thailand this is an afront.
And then the bluriest line is the supposed Ricardo's law, I was all for comparative advantage and economic efficiencies when I left Australia. Now I care much less.
My friend Claire sent me an article on the '3 hour week' about a guy who had outsourced his life to India, he got them to write all his reports for work, while he travelled and enjoyed his life and collected a wage.
All sounds wonderful until logic is applied. He was in effect an inefficient useless sack of shit. The company could save money by cutting him out of the loop and going straight to India themselves. It merely indicated that knowledge work can go offshore too now.
And I have always believed that what was truly irresponsible wasn't letting manufacturing jobs go offshore from the west (though I oppose sweat shops and exploitation I don't give a shit about comparative wage advantages) but that the developed governments of the world allowed young people and future generations to think there was a future in manufacturing. I always thought that these manufacturing jobs were boring, unstimulating, mindless drone work and we should be glad to have someone take the jobs off our hands because it allowed us to work much sexier jobs.
And now I don't agree with that anymore, not entirely. Because clearly there is something wrong with two people providing the same service for drastically different prices. Because it would force one of them to starve to compete, or the otherone to become a relative billionaire in the slum surrounding them to compete fairly.
What makes manufacturing unpleasent is mass production. Something Ricardo Semler explained better than I can or can remember.
But basically this was a bad innovation, efficient yes but not necessarily good.
Before Henry Ford who popularized mass production was some dude who worked with coal. And he basically broke down every task into its smallest components and then assigned one worker to say shovel coal, another to push the wheelbarrow and so fourth rather than having each worker mix it up. And then Henry Ford took over the automotive world and bang, so manufacturing became a shitty job for all.
Because when you think about it, carpentry is manufacturing. That is one old Jepetto loving taking a piece of wood and turning it into Pinoccio or a beautiful chair, bass guitar and so fourth.
It's just these jobs are so interesting in a tactile way we think of them as art. Any bike, furniture, car or consumer good in its most expensive form is usually labelled the all important 'hand made' and that is manufacturing.
Kurt enjoys dawdling down to the post office, and here is maybe a failing of all economic models, that inefficiency could just be, enjoyable.
Bill Gates and Friedman talk about how fantastic the Indian and Chinese work ethic is. Yes they are excited to be rich, excited to be in startups, excited to have beat off 1000s of competitors. But fuck what is the fucking rush? why do we need people to work 14 hour days and weekends? to support some HG Wellsian race of Eelies, occasionally eaten by the new Morlocks.
Yes products 'improve' our lives. I love my ipod, internet and so fourth. Modern medicine is great. But how fast do I need things to get better? I don't know and frankly don't care.
Maybe If I was head of some corporation and needed the ultra competitiveness to gauruntee what material wealth I had accumulated couldn't be taken away. But then again maybe the Ovarian lottery needs to be reexamined...

The Ovarian Lottery:

Bill Gates in The World is Flat talks about the Ovarian lottery and how wonderful it ıs that now it doesn't matter if you are an average person born in America or a genius born in India. He argues that in the new flat world a genius in Bangalore can make it.
And not so long ago I would have agreed, infact my main contention against American patriotism was 'as if it is better to be trailer trash in the USA than the richest person in any country of the world' but now I disagree.
It is the commons that make us rich. I would gladly be average and have the ability to drink out of a tap in my own home. To not have to pay to enter my local park. To be able to attend a safe clean school, to not step over rubbish and beggars when I walk down the street. To be able to walk down a street unaccosted.
It is far better to enjoy life than to be rich. To be safe from fear, to not be chauffered around everywhere, fenced into your own home, bribe police to beat beggars off your pavement, bribe doctors to give you preference over dying children.
Wealth is best shared, not stockpiled. Only a society can truly be rich.
The Ovarian lottery stands for now, I hope development spreads this kind of wealth, not the 'beyond pointlessness' wealth of Louis Vuitton and co that is being exported at the speed of light by countries that don't need to advertise infrastructure.

Competition is Awful:

My basketball pal Rio once retorted to my remarl that we should play a weaker team in hope of a win that 'you learn more from strong opponents' and I agree. I love competition. My whole life is the pursuit of strong competitors. I fucken don't have time for sycophants and lackeys. I don't like compliments, as opposed to truly heartfelt feedback which truly is food for the soul.
A big reason my best friend is Bryce is that he doesn't treat me with respect, he criticizes and argues, he has to be right and he fantastically makes me lift my game almost every time we talk.
That's competition.
Or is it? After going to 'poor' countries I think competition is awful. Seriously economics is all about free markets and perfect competition as the ideal, breaking monopolies and shit. But seriously once something that is pretty comodified becomes perfect competition such as took-tooks and taxis they are awful, unenjoyable experiences.
Taxi drivers in India pry into my life, what are you doing tomorrow? when is your flight? what have you seen? and so fourth ad nauseum, one long arguement that was hard to keep polite was trying to get my taxi driver to leave, having a moral conscious I didn't want him sitting in the heat waiting 3 or 4 hours for me to be done in the museum and then drive me to the next destination. But he was strongly against me settling the ride in and letting him pick up another fare.
Because there was no gauruntee that he would.
It was more lucrative for him to sit for hours waiting for me so he could get my ride to other destinations followed by more waits and then the ride home.
For me finding another taxi was no problem (except for having yet another driver wanting to squat all my rides and wait outside my hotel like a yard-dog) and I didn't want to open up negotiations on 'waiting time'
Then in Thailand I ended up strongly favoring shops that had signs, and having to ask taxis to turn on their meters. Why? because I valued the serenity of paying a straight price and not having to fucken haggle every step of the way.
This desperate form of competition, where the only way to make a living is to offer ridiculous levels of service and exploit consumer ignorance.
And what makes taxis great in Melbourne? not the service, certainly not the knowledge of the streets (in Mumbai my driver just pulled up and asked a local every 50m or so directions so in that case I would take the melways) but just that there is a going rate.
Prices are fixed. Price fixing.
A nike shoe is roughly the same US$ value everywhere I've been. And that's good. It reduces my life wasted on search time.
India is a lesson in extreme competition and I have to say it is inhumane. It has no upside at all. I am white therefore I have money, and competition for my money is such that everything is a commodity in India. No matter what service you want there is 5 vendors for it and a plethora of middle men all wanting to ingratiate themselves for some grissle.
And the form differentiation has taken (for those not marketing savvy, differentiation is competition based on making your goods unique, market penetration is the traditional form of competition centered around cutting costs and thus offering lower prices) is who can hassle you most relentlessly until you give in and either pay them to stop or buy their good over anothers Identical one.
And so I realised watching game 2 of the 1996 finals between Pheonix Suns and Chicago Bulls, that it isn't competition that is so great, it is substitutes. Substitues are choice and can exert a downward pressure on prices. Competition in its purest form is no choice and puts upward pressure on hassle and desperation.
A little breathing space is nice.
Charles Barkley and Jordan compete, and they are two very very different players.
The Pheonix Suns and the Bulls push eachother because they have different styles of play, different makeup, they are in apure sense, Substitutes both fulfill the need for Basketball entertainment, but in two different ways. You could have one, the other or both.
India poses awful competition where you just have oversupply of the same sack of flower. Think a league where every star player is God of Dominant Boredom - Tim Duncan - the big fundamental.
And that's where I think a different way the competition of basketball differs from the awful strangulation of market competition.
On the court, I am both producer and consumer. I participate in making the game that I also consume.
Competition is lauded as making everything as efficient as possible for the consumer. But I don't see the 3 way as being as pleasurable as a 2 way in this case.
Producers competing for their own benifit is the 2 way, the quest of my life. Producers undercutting eachother for the benifit of a consumer doesn't quite work because the logic of growth says to me, we need to produce more than we consume.
If there where two Ipod's that bıd themselves down for my business to near zero margins. I as the consumer am blindsiding myself to pay for the R&D that invented these new better products.
I would rather buy something I want and hand over a little extra to have them keep up the creativity than consume the same sack of ultracheap flower for the rest of my life.
I like a substitute like a bike over a car because it is a significant choice, a choice that iinvolves more than just price and is as enjoyable as a choice can be.
I like being able to substitute a road bike for a mountain bike. Substitute a red bike for a black one.
I don't want row after row of efficiently cheap bikes in grey aluminium with baskets on the front.
I should say that when people talk about capitalism it's a bit of a joke. There's no such thing. No country, no business class, has ever been willing to subject itself to the free market, free market discipline. Free markets are for others. Like, the Third World is the Third World because they had free markets rammed down their throat. Meanwhile, the enlightened states, England, the United States, others, resorted to massive state intervention to protect private power, and still do. That's right up to the present. I mean, the Reagan administration for example was the most protectionist in post-war American history. Virtually the entire dynamic economy in the United States is based crucially on state initiative and intervention: computers, the internet, telecommunication, automation, pharmaceutical, you just name it. Run through it, and you find massive ripoffs of the public, meaning, a system in which under one guise or another the public pays the costs and takes the risks, and profit is privatized. That's very remote from a free market. Free market is like what India had to suffer for a couple hundred years, and most of the rest of the Third World

Win, Win, Win, Win, Win

The most worrying thing in all of this is that we now live in a world with technology as such that we can inflate an economy in half a generation to compete with the rest of the world. Force rapid social change and empower individuals as never before.
But remember Japan? I have new respect for Japan, Japan didn't offshore, it competed in the good way. But to compete with Japan we made a wrong unnecessary choice, workaholia.
And why because we were afraid of Japan and it's ambitions. And still very few people have turned around and said 'you know for all that hard work Japan produced very little' and that's because it produced a lot, on the surface. A lot of concrete, a lot of housing, a lot of cars, a lot of TVs and a lot of debt.
Seriously read these three books - Affluenza, Dogs and Deamons and Maverick.
But after it all Japan stands at the top of the world and it is a big empty dead end.
Everyone marvels and worships hard work. And yet turns around and pays lip service to 'efficiency' like the fading emperors of every empire.
But Japan was unique in one aspect. Milatary domination was out of the equation.
Not so with China.
But why does anyone need to dominate?
Ted Roosevelt says best - that people should be able to govern themselves. Hence hencely, why the fuck does China need to be in charge of Tibet, Taiwan, Japan or anywhere else.
Afterall they are catching up, what possible value could they bring in the realm of governance.
Apart from the 1984 sense, a foot stamping on a human face - forever.
Indeed development must be freedom.

Getting better at failing - Art

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever - Kurt Vonnegut

It is clear to me that as we get better and better at economic efficiencies. We may like the transformation of manufacturing into mindlessness, eventually not enjoy life at all.
Afterall what good are newer better gizmos and widgets if we don't have time to enjoy it.
On the protectionist front 'The World is Flat' has a letter from a teacher describing how bad the 'Queit Crisis' in America is, that is that the migrant parents of students complained about the lack of homework, how pedestrian the maths textbooks were and overall negligence of his education. By contrast the born and bred American parents (I think heroically) universally complain about how much homework is given, and how they're kids needed time to be kids.
There is a new sweatshop in the world and that is when education gets so much so that you have no life. No life at all.
It isn't wonderful or even admirable that kids in India, China and Russia cram their minds full of mathematics and science.
What is badly needed is I agree 'lifelong employability' and teaching kids how to 'learn how to learn' but also 'how to enjoy life' ethically, practically and so fourth.
And I read something I really liked from an equally long and fascinating essay by China Mieville here - but the quote is
Try again, fail again, fail better. That tension, that process of failing better and better – the very failure, if it’s the best kind of failure – might generate interesting effects that a more ‘successful’ – ie aesthetically integrated – work cannot do

And thats my concluding thought the one that despite having all these lines in my head torn up or turned squiggly grounds myself.

Changing the Rules:

In Gordon Dicksons sci fi novel Tactics of Mistake which I found one of the most instructive books I've read. There is an early scene where the protagonist instigates a game of 'guess which cup has a ball underneath'
The opponent guesses right the first time. The protagonist urges him to guess again, and again and the opponent guesses right each time. The protagonist lifts up the cups to reveal they all have balls underneath them.
The opponent failed because he was lured into guessing again because he believed the trick was infact the opposite.
He changed the rules.
Much like Semler did in Maverick, and I plan to do with my company.
I don't care about being bigger, harder working, faster, cheaper, richer. I care about enjoying life. And it may seem a cop out. But I want a legacy of memes not genes. I want to build a workplace that is enjoyable, innovative and humane.
And the west could do this if it wasn't for the timely distraction of the flat world to make us forget the level of affluence we have achieved is largeşy pointless, that the 'we' in 'we have achieved' represents 2% of the worlds population and the gap in achievement is growing.
No I don't like this game of hopping into monkey suits and trading my life for work, work that isn't my life but a promise of a someday maybe life. Having to compete to stay still and get a chance to just enjoy breathing.
No I would rather fence off a little corner and concentrate on getting the product right before exporting it to poor naive corners all around the globe.
I don't fear failure, I court it, I want to fail and fail again better and better till I come close to reconciling survival with enjoyable experience.

Cool Used to be Just that

In a bookstore in Shinsaibashi Osaka I picked up a photo journal that depicted the early days of rap origins and argued how 'cool used to be a means to survive' there was I seem to remember on the outer ripple of where cool went to die (white Australia) something antique, unpolished and actually cool back in the day when aspirations where envious not manufactured coolness made for the soul purpose of driving aspirations and consumer consumption in todays self referential rap industry.

This clip from the early days I feel captures this mood.

And I don't normally do this but I thought I'd plagiarize this essay emailed to me by my good friend I shall codename Jimmy Pop because I thought it worth it:

the pinnacle of uncool is telling people to 'chill' then 'relax', then 'chillax'. i do it all the time, cuz shit is funy to me! oh yeah and i truly believe the next logical step in the english lexicon is to remove both the letters 'k' and 'x' from the alphabet for the trauma they have undergone in such words as 'kaos' and 'kronik' and 'knife' (the silent (k)iller). It'll be like a child protection program, as in today's environment these letters have not been allowed the kind of respect trust and security needed to become fully developed characters. I'm surprised they can even reach capital status when you combine em with shift on your keyboard. Look at this: K, X, these letters have feelings and making them do that hurt. They're growing up to quick, like a 14 year old bitch who fucks for social validation, 'cuz that's what the grown ups are doing'

And no shit 'x' is the opposite to a 'tick' or a nike swoosh. 'OOOOH x soooo badass!!!' FOR THE SAKE OF F IT IS NOT! 'extreme' should be spelt 'ecstream' that way the letter x wouldn't be tagged on to deodorants and the KFC meal deals i wish i could say i begrudgingly eat.
And this speaks for itself, and to me is more is more offensive than a close inspection of my auntie's sphincter: xXxHARDCORExXx

Maybe some kind of nuclear winter will force us all to readopt cool not as a money maker, but a sheer means of survival.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Tribute to Heroes

Somewhere over Europe, I neither panicked nor got anxious, I simply emotionally imploded for reasons I don't understand. For some reason looking at the flight info display as the little plane crept forward towards London, Heathrow my new least favorite place in the world (but I didnt know that at the time) and for some reason switching over to watch 'Things we lost in the fire' a movie about a woman whos husband gets killed and leaves her with two young children to raise and connects her to his best friend the heroine addict Benicio Del Toro, cheered me up.
And I think I know what's happening, sinical people get a bad wrap as being bad people, but I was told this is only partly true. Often the people most likely to criticise are the ones who care a lot. It's just criticism alone doesn't do much except eventually lead to depression.
I tell you this because here is the fact of the matter.
I miss having a life. Japan I could criticise with righteous indignation without malaise because in Japan I was for the most part livşng. I had friends and connections, language and knowledge.
The rest of asia I was reduced to the contents of my wallet, the realities of glabalisation and whilst I have seen many wonders I have seen things that also frankly disgust me, and humanity can legitimately square off with the hyena as the earths most disgusting animal. There is a body of evidence there.
I am not home-sick. I am life sick.
I miss power, specifically the power to act and do. To do something not just spend money.
Anyway that said I thought to get my mind back to positive I would pay tribute to other people who saw the world and did something about it.

George Washington:

Abe Lincoln:
Watch him dance


And seriously I'll crank into more positivity soon...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

what the fuck is going on with trades this year?

When Pau was traded I was perplexed by memphis but pleased nonetheless.
when Shaq was traded I was shocked, but could see the bigger picture.
but now Kidd.
seriously fucken fuck!
you can't all win the championship.
Talking long term Netz are laughing though.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Exit Asia: Insightful Moments

Today I had my last meal in Mumbai/Bombay if you hark back for the British Rule days. And with it I leave behind Asia. I think I made a pretty good go of it, I've done Japan, China, Southeast Asia and India and have been succesful as far as 'seeing' is concerned. That said there's a lot I don't understand. There's a lot I may need to understand, and there's a lot that I don't need to understand.
But there have been momements. Cathartic moments and I thought I might list them here, I've possibly referenced them before or in my facebook albums before, but i thought I would collect them here, some made me think 'I love this place' some made me think 'I hate this place' but they were poigniant nonetheless:

Coco's Curry Restaurant Takamatsu, Japan - Good Smell, Good Curry (Do I recall correctly Brenton?)

The moment was taking delivery of my potato salad late one night, and the homely waitress after dropping the salad dressing dispenser off on my counter propped her tray under one arm and asked me where I am from, how long I was in takamatsu, how I could speak Japanese so well, and so fourth. Her delight (which I saw mirrored once again in Cambodia) when I complemented her english, and then asking her manager like a 12 yo girl if she could man the register when I had time to pay. The precise moment was seeing this 30 year old fast food worker imploring the shift manager like a daughter to her father and clapping in delight. And I thought then 'I love this place'

Walking Along the Old Moat, Chiang Mai, Bangkok

It was late, I was near a body of brownish water contemplating the deeper reasons for why I wasn't eaten alive by mosquitoes here when I was inevitably done so in Australia no matter what precautions I took. Stumbling up and down the semi existent footpaths of thailand when I looked periodically ahead and glanced a little kid of (I have no idea how big or small kids are at what ages) 3-5 fuck maybe even 12 I don't know running toward me with palm up and Thailand's famous smile smeared across his face in a gesture that said 'give me money white man' and when I shook my head with George Bush preemptiveness, the kid with terrorist like change of tactics hugged me. And in this moment lasting less than half a second before I shook the little darling off, I thought 'I hate this place' a place where a 3-12 year old in the presence of his mother and siblings will hug a foreigner in the street with a smile on their face in the hope of some money. I'm not blaming the thai people, government, globalization, british colonialism or whatever brought this moment to bear, I just hate it. Period.

Lucky, Diner Khar West, Bombay/Mumbai

Poverty, Globalization, Economic Mismanagement, Religious Caste Systems, Anglophiles, Ancient Culture, Custom, Brand Management, Marketing all of these are no laughing matter, and throughout all of Asia I've been hard pressed to laugh at it all even though it is ridiculous. Until two days ago, sitting in the Lucky Diner, waiting for lunch where the waiter refused to let me sit at a two person table even though I am party of one he insisted on an enclosed booth for 4 for me. I was tapping my fingers waiting and glanced to my right where a family of 5 was eating and glanced to my left where a guy was on a date with a lady and they looked well to do and then I saw he had his bluetooth earpiece still in his ear though it was clear he was having a conversation whilst having lunch with his lady friend. And the sheer riduculousness of his status statement, the stupidity and tastelessness of it cracked me up. I had to look away very quickly though I remind myself of Hindu non-violence all the time. I laughed to myself for a little while and it was good and refreshing. just ridiculous.

The Tokyo Bathhouse, Wuhan China.

I walked out of the situation that made me feel more Japanese than anything else I've ever said or done which was seeing the relative social lawlessness of Chinese Society applied to such a Japanese mainstay as a public bath, smoking in the bath, broken and vandalised shower booths, transparant door on the squat toilet (taking public to a whole new level) and dodgy men recieving massages from smoking employees.
I, having simply showered not wanting to risk having a turd poke me in the chest in the bath headed into the changerooms and was intercepted by a maitre de or whatever he was and asked 'do you want someone to massage you?' in panicked english. And I said 'Hell no' and Andy stumbled out hot on my heels more embarassed by the naked in public factor than I was but at this moment I knew I would never comprehend the Chinese take of 'relaxation'

Eating by Myself, the restaurant infront of my Hotel, Beijing

I had ordered some corn soup, and then a main dish and been surprised to find my corn soup the size of a salad bowl, and my main dish about the size of a plate at the Victoria Market 'Night Market' and that is to say small. China is like upside down land for me. But I was happy that in an Unenglish friendly district of China I had managed with moderate success to order my own meal.
I went to pay and got handed a garbled engrish note asking for my phone number in a roundabout way from one of the waitresses who had kept super cool and expressionless with practiced ease. I ignored the note not wanting a stalker on my heels even for a short time before I fled China but this let me know that the Chinese public is genuinely trying.

There's more there's more but these ones stood out with crystal clarity. Which is good. Harvards blog references the book 'On Bullshit' which I saw on a street stall yesterday and thoght it always good to remember that we are always swimming in a sea of bullshit, and its amazing how much of it surrounds us and can form our core opinions. So be careful, be sensible. And think. Fucking if nothing else please just think.

Friday, February 15, 2008


It's about time someone took that tohm down a peg or two, and they did admirably by exploiting my one weakness - not being able to see microscopic viruses with my naked eye.
If I had to place bets I would put it on the restaurant in Bangkok where I ate green curry fried rice whilst they were renovating. One thing you get used to quickly in Asia is construction work. It is going on everywhere everwhen every waking moment. So I just ignored it although Gordon Ramsey would probably called it one of his 'kitchen nightmares' I was assured that I would get the Shits in Asia. I thought nothing of it. I simply tried adjusting my diet to more arse clogging foods like hamburgers with cheese.
I thought nothing of it also because the food was quite hot as in full of chilli which usually passes through me like a bullet train anyway.
But yesterday morning I woke up, having fasted for a day and feeling much better and thought 'if I don't want to dehydrate I should drink something' one sip of water though and something inside me woke up and stabbed me in the bowells, stomach and quite possibly kidneys.
What was humbling was that I quickly overcame my personal dislike of doctors and managed to call reception with numb fingers and mouth out 'Hello, Doctor, Hello, Doctor. Can you put me onto someone who speaks english? yes, Doctor, very sick, hello. Doctor?'
And hung up. Then within seconds a roomservice guy entered my room (I had managed to unlock my door and pull the bolt to before collapsing on my bed and reaching for the phone) and he stood there and smiled whilst I said 'pain' and pointed to several parts of my body.
Here's where I'm racist - I envisioned picking up the phone and saying doctor, ambulance, hospital and other crap as soliciting roughly the same response anywhere in the world. I have after all been reading how flat the world is, how wonderful it is that a startup game company in bangalore can compete in a global market like never before thanks to wireless broadband and cell phones with cameras and triple convergance and so on.
I was lying on my bed with this smiling person looking at me, thinking now I'm going to see how far the world has come. In a moment two or three indians are going to burst in and transfer me to a stretcher, take me to a modern hospital with a doctor that speaks good english and administers all kinds of drugs while liasing with my insurance company and doctors back home.
My condition wasn't that severe I just knew that all this was theoretically quite possible.
But when the guy walked out I realised that I was going to have to walk myself out.
After ten minutes sitting in the lobby - I realised that nobody had called a doctor. So I asked reception to call a doctor and they did with the head waggle that fucks up all my body language in India.
They said 10 minutes. So I tried to sit it out. Until I started having a math problem tick over my head in regards to the pain I felt:
It hurts to sit down, but it hurts to stand up straight, don't put your dirty shoes on the couch.
This left me with one option, I politely raised my hand like a kid in school to stop an arguement between a businessman and the receptionist and said 'excuse me, could somebody please help me to a hospital, right now?'
And so they helped me into a taxi and drove me to a 'hospital' two blocks away. The doctor diagnosed me quickly where the third most devestating blow came to me - it also hurt to lie down eliminating lieing down, standing up and sitting down/up from my options of comfort.
It was then I started to panic and then I wished it was all being filmed - I started saying 'help' over and over again, surprised that I was alone so quickly after being diagnosed. Eventually the doctor and an old lady reason tells me was a nurse came to administer the saline solution I needed appeared. Unfortunately my body was all a panic and had decided that although it wasn't helpful in anyway whatsoever it might be a good time to throw up.
And so I did, two pitiful mouthfuls of spit. And then finally was I laid down and administered treatment in what I would guess was 2 hours after I first placed that phonecall.
The doctor later came in when I was feeling better (which was when I stopped asking to be killed, or at least knocked out with a hammer or something) and helped himself to my wallet and took 1000 ruppees out after questioning me what the dribs and drabs of foreign currency where worth.
Later I was detached from the drip and on a short break driven to the ATM to withdraw more funds for the doctor, before being driven back and resumed on the drip for two more bottles of saline solution.
I was still short though and had to endure a painfully circular conversation with the doctor about how I was out of cash. Being a foreigner in Asia carries the unfortunate responsibility of having suposedly unlimited reserves of cash on you at all times. When you are in a foreign country where you can feed yourself for $3 a day this becomes not reality.
So now I'm in a internet cafe wondering how I will cough up the balance of payment before monday, and also how to enjoy the time I have left in Mumbai with only 900 rupees left to my name. The hotel will let me settle on Monday but aside from that I have some bastard uppercaste Doctor on my back.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Girl from Shizuoka

This morning I woke up under my comfortable tweed blanket in the Red Palms hotel to spend Valentines day in the most romantic city on earth - Bombay.
I've now spent a consequetive three Valentines days alone, last year Miki was getting her visa renewed in Japan, the year before Liam and I dressed up and took out all the single losers we knew for a group date that can be described as 'less than impressive'
Although Liam and I were impressive. I miss Misaki more than I miss the Handsome Gentlemen though. Ah the handsome gentlemen, people who have never been part of a gang of never do wells don't know what they are missing out on.
Anyway though, fair's fair and fun's fun. I haven't been that fair to Misaki or the readers of my blog and I just wanted to clarify here on valentines day, that I too had doubts about her. This is in the interest of Objectivity.

Doubt 1#: Life without Meaning.

It was our third date, a movie date and we had just officially become bf and gf. The only movie I would subject myself to was 'Flags of our fathers' which in hindsight may have been a poor choice for a Japanese girlfriend, but then again fuck them they have to learn.
Anyway we were walking home walking up Spencer st and then turning down Collins st. I stopped at a 7-eleven and bought myself an ice cream because it was fucking hot. And in a sign of progress that would amaze any past liasons, I actually shared food with her. This dates back to a childhood trauma that had come out in the wash of my councilling sessions 6 months earlier. My brother was the trigger, when he commented to me after travelling that his friend had remarked in Prague how controlling he was of his food.
After some ponderation we linked this behaviour (that I too shared) back to Janice. I love Janice she is a wonderful crazy lady masquarading as an ordinary middle class white, but she is one of those bitches who orders a salad at a restaurant and then expects you to share your main, and worse yet, one of those mothers that buys her kids icecreams and doesn't buy one for herself, expecting to eat roughly a third of all her kids icecreams.
She's not evil, just thinks she is crafty. Anyway her way of taking a 'bite' of icecream can only acurately be described as 'making love to it with her mouth' and so from early childhood, my brother and I (and possibly my sister I don't know if Janice got to her or not) lived in fear of people molesting our food.
Anyway I had knowing this trauma by its true colours, overcome it, and learnt to trust again.
Misaki was eating some of my icecream and I noticed her frilly, billowy, red dress was quite nice as it bobbed up and down as she walked around with her cute little but going from side to side.
So I decided to lovingly caress her but, and without missing a beat Misaki finished her bite of the icecream and said 'tohm, what you do?'
And I said I grabbed her arse.
And she said 'well in future please don't do.'
I wish I could have seen my face, but I know what I was thinking, and that was 'this isn't going to be much fun at all.'
And that's my first doubt.

Doubt 2#: Questionable medical knowledge.

This seems to be a recurring theme with girls I date, one of them lay around in constant pain for a year and earned the nickname 'clumpy' thanks to self diagnosis and seeing experts whose profession ends in - 'pathy'.
I am no Pharmacuetical pill popping lobyist nor disbelieve in 'Alternative' medicine, but I do like the empirical method and I wish more crystalopaths would subject their methods to it, and furthermore an alternative is strong as an alternative, to other forms of medicine, I don't fancy alternatives being in reality exclusives.
Anyway, Miki was sometimes endearing with her questionable medical knowledge, like the time she developed a rash on her shoulder, but didn't know how to explain it to me (even though I could see it was a rash) and went to her pocket dictionary and came back to show me the translation - 'herpes' delightful.
But then there where times when she wanted me to sleep on my couch because if my temperature reached 100 it would kill all me sperm. Or insisting that the fan be off in my bedroom because it would 'eat all the oxygen' leaving me pussy whipped and drowning in my own sweat.
And when she came back for her whirlwind farewell tour and came down with the flu. Here was our fundamental difference, when I get the flu, I yell 'woohoo' call in sick, jump on my bike and go down the street. The flu just clogs my nose, makes me feel hot on my head and cold on my back, maybe has a cough and other minor shit. It never interupts a running regime, I quite often would go to work, if it wasn't that between a flu and food poisoining, I don't have many opportuinities to use up my entitlement, and Australia is a fortunate country where colleagues resent you for turning up to work with a contagious virus.
Japan is the opposite, you simply put on a cotton face mask and go to the office to recieve silent acknowledgment of your toughing it out.
Misaki though, became bedridden, only capable of shaking her head, yes or no. Speaking to me through text messages. And getting up in the middle of the night to announce she was dying.
And I couldn't get it. Normally Misaki despite her cute exterior is actually one of the toughest motherfuckers you would ever hope to come across. But she really did interpret the flu as a threat to both her and my life. She told me off for sleeping in my boxers for 'being disrespectful to her sickness' and again insisted on me sleeping on the couch, fearing my future fertility.
And I thought 'Is she gonna turn our kids into pussfags?*'
That was my second doubt.

Doubt 3#: Taste

The Japanese can dress. Infact they are probably the most stylish people in the world and at least 1000 years ahead of the rest of asia in avoiding tastelessness. Garish, Ostentatious, Timewarp and Quaint aren't words that readilly come to mind when talking about Japanese fashion. They may be status conscious with brands but they still meticulously coordinate them. On an individual basis they are quite impressive.
Misaki had fine crazy and elegant clothing, like the off the shoulder polka dot dress she wore when I met her, her double ended long sleeve no sleeve dress. Her silver hightop shoes, pyjamas that offered afternoon tea all over them and so fourth.
But taste is not just limited to fashion and one time at an Australia day party she described her favorite TV programs-
1. Friends
You know what I don't remember but i do remember it was the top 5 programs I would be forced to watch in hell. ANd friends was definitely her number one. Damo gave me a look that moment that said he too was having the exact same doubts I was.

But the point of it all is that apart from me, nobody is perfect, and as far as doubts go, they were all minor things (except for the first one) so in summary I am terribly, terribly alone this valentines day and I miss her a little bit.
Something is upsetting my stomach and I would even endure her medical advice just to hear from her today.
But you know the bitch did dump me, me! Can you believe that? crazy.

*I don't give a shit if my kids are homosexual, so long as they aren't pussies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Second Superpower rears its beautiful head

Rudd got off to a promising start today.

I found it moving. Except for this part "Rudd confirmed that the apology would not entail compensation."

Not that I really believe compensation would 'undo' anything. Also this morning I watched Obama win three electorates and pull ahead of Clinton in delegates for the first time. Furthermore Clinton's delegate lead is based on the pledges of democratic 'super delegates' that may and should jump ship in respect of the popular vote.
I am no expert on what each candidate stands for, but whilst I wouldn't pretend to have 'Obama fever' I do support him. Not for his charismatic speeches or the fact that he is black, but because of how he is a contender.
From day 1 analysts said that Obama's campaign was a question of fundraising, that Hillary could raise the necessary funds 'overnight'.
I was at my most actively unamerican phase while Bill was commander in chief and will probably remain 'un-american' long after the next election.
But I have hope, because Obama is a step closer to a new form of candidate. His funding has been made up from huge public participation, not just lobby groups. I think true to Freakanomics the dollars will start to follow the votes (not the other way round) and greater numbers of first time voters will be motivated to push Obama as far as he can go.
Newsprograms such as 'Your dollars your votes' where one embattled democrat is gunned down by a bunch of republican cronies appear sad rather than threatening now.
I'm not sure what has to fall, but I hope sometime soon the universal benifits of acting ethically will tear down at the very least the conception that the republican conservative style of economic management actually works.
The shame is a looming recession that has been set up by Howard, Blair and Bush's fiscal policies but will probably be attached around the neck of the new generation of world leaders everywhere.
But world leaders truly are everywhere. In my post 'democracy hates democracy' I think I forgot to mention the most compelling evidence for that very arguement, the fact that whilst the US was invading Iraq to fight terrorism, remove a threat to the free world, preemptively prevent the 'smoking gun' bring freedom and democracy to the middle east etc. It criticised Turkey for being 'weak' when the government bowed to the overwhelming will of its public, and refused to lend airforce bases to the US troops.
Such a clear example of the two superpowers is reassuring to all. Perhaps the somewhat dramatic message of 'V for Vendetta' that a government should be afraid of its people is finally coming to pass.
And blogs while not being objective, wikipedia for all its flaws, facebook for its addictive time wasting all contribute to a system much more open and transparent than so called 'democracy' breaking the monopoly on news and rejecting mass media doctrine it may be that the statement 'democracy is the worst form of government bar all the others' is no longer true.
Anyway congratulations and apologies to the indeginous peoples of Australia and all those that have fought for the cause of reconciliation, in solidarity with all people of the world anywhere.

Starting a Company

It is an exciting time to start a company, with questions hovering over everything. Technology making the world flat, networks extending to every continent and islands in the pacific ocean.
And I'm slowly, perhaps dragging my feet, putting together a company. Or at leas the framework of a company. I'm contemplating names, I know I should be getting up to speed with ABNs and how to pay taxes when self employed. How the fuck am I going to rent a room when self employed? especially being a management consultant and the wise old age of 24. If anyone could say 'You're doomed to failure' I'd probably agree. Infact I'm courting failure, in a way. Gotta get it out of the way, learn failure, embrace failure, and pick myself up and dust myself off.
There are myriad resources available to people to set up, learning is quite accelerated if you actively seek to do so. Even if I only have a 7% chance of success its enough to go after.
I think about how I will hit the ground when I come home. The courting of businesses to try and get some names on my portfolia, to test and refine my services, how to set up al the ideas I have for working hours, payment and better yet the organisation.
I asked the question Drucker says all executives need to ask themselves and that is 'What does the organisation require of me?' and I think I may have won a battle already to be not thinking of myself and the organisation as the same entity. If I fail I hope the organisation I plucked from the ether can survive.
But the answer to my question isn't what I'd like to do, and that is recruit a whole bunch of exciting people, start eaching and managing. But I am probably going to have to spend months selling my arse, doorknocking and beggng for work. Which I don't relish but will be liberating, succeed or fail.
I'll keep you posted in how it is all going.