Monday, July 28, 2008

Some days I feel Stupid, Today I don't.

My work has me looking at this highly topical, highly interesting state of the economy.
I flash back to 3 months ago where I was sitting in my sisters apartment finding I had a virtually inexhaustible list of basic economic principles that I had to cover to have a conversation about the economy.
And yet then there's this:

And to think, all this was known, by the industry no less in 2006.
What I find though, is that this presentation is not too technical for a young audience, people could be taught this stuff in High-school.

and yet for some reason we don't.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

FOWP: Update

That's right 'Fear of a White Planet' now has its own abbreviation, ignoring all my marketing training I am embracing the 'free ride trap'. Aurally, FOWP is only one syllable faster than just saying 'Fear of a White Planet' funny huh?
So Today I managed to not blog, and with the time I saved, even though there were many things I felt angry at, I instead channeled my time and energy into productively discovering how hard writing a graphic novel can be. I have been discovering this for a matter of weeks now though. Today I was working on my hideous alien monster.
This involves an enormous amount of study work, downloading pictures to serve as both inspiration and technical instruction, experimenting, then concentrating, then practicing in order to get the technique into my muscle memory until I can draw my hideous alien monster from all angles and in fair proportions too.
Anyway, here for my budding fan base of nerds is an early teaser release:

now if I just had some glue

I also managed to grab a delightful lunch with Harvard "Ivy-League" Wangorovich, and read several chapters of 'Straitjacket society' as research/inspiration for my other writing project.
So all in all, fuck you blog.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Self-Belief Level Low

Today is a day where writing here is kind of a kick in the face. Coming to terms with the fact that writing with virtually no quality controls, no constraints, no aim and no purpose means that it is the only work I am likely to complete.
You see my self belief isn't steady it wavers, and lately I think about how much time I've been wasting unproductively - that is my time not work time, work takes a lot of figuring out because I'm doing stuff I've never done before but I am confident I will pull it off. I'm just amazed at how much personal time I spend being virtually sedentary not progressing towards what I hope to achieve.

You see I actually whilst sitting in a warm house on comfortable couches with good showers, with food and dinner and shit actually wishing I came back at night with a room with a desk, an old school graphic designers/architect's desk with the slope for drawing on and maybe a computer and a camp cot and possibly something to whip me into action.
I feel ironically that I'd be better off living on mee goreng and fucking crackers and shit than being feed a nutritious diet by my folks.
Something fucking spartan, unfortunately with the rental market at the moment this would probably cost me $155 p/w. I can't afford that just yet.
So whilst I still believe I can do all the stuff I want to do, all the stuff listed in my ideas.doc file recorded over 9 months of travelling. I am losing my belief that I will actually do it.
I need a task master, someone to keep me to deadlines and prevent me from losing another 3 months to 'So You Think You Can Dance'.
So I'm going to take a week off blogging, and try something new. Try producing full time (full time left after work) ready, go.

2 Crashes avoided somehow

Is there something inherently wrong with my brain? I actually have the naive belief/assumption that people are actually jealous of my lifestyle. Not the current specifics of living with my parent unable to afford fancy coloured sneakers.
But that I actually ride my bike everywhere. I actually think when its 11 at night on a friday in St Kilda and I say 'I have to ride home now if I want to get back by 1am' my friends think 'man awesome riding home from the beach on a summer's night, that sounds like something great to do.' which I am guessing (but don't naturally assume) they don't.
So when people talking insurance to me drop the casual bomb "You being a cyclist are taking your life in your own hands" I'm surprised anyone actually would think this way. You see when you get on a bike, you don't think riding is dangerous anymore.

You think people in cars are stupid.

I have seen my fair share of arsehole cyclists being plain stupid, but as a bad driver I can say that daily I am confounded by the stupidity common to people who have a license to drive from the state government.
And as much as I don't need reminders of my own mortality, there is value in posting links to this, just that people understand that A) cyclists legally have a right to be on the road and B) there's nothing dangerous inherent in the design of most bicycles, its in the design of cars that danger lies.

So let me tell you about my day, today I worked largely from home, except I went in to town to hopefully attend a vaguely scheduled brainstorming meeting. As I cruised down Studley Park road I came down to the bottom which is annoying for a cyclist because people tend to park there when I'm sure its illegal.
Then I was on track for my first collision which was stupid.
It was stupid because there was a cyclist in front of me, and only about 10m ahead. And he passed a jaywalking pedestrian clearing him by only 30cm or so.
So this pedestrian if he was like me would have gone, 'woh! cyclist forgot about those' which to all extents and purposes he did because he stupidly turned and looked right at me.
I actually love jaywalking, from my travels my quick rule of thumb was - good country jaywalks, bad country doesn't. In China they infact have the opposite of jaywalking, cars jaywalk and pedestrians have to look out.
But I like jaywalkers generally because so long as they aren't a 12 yo smoker from a low socio-economic background they usually work around the traffic instead of trying to have a direct confrontation with them.
This guy looked right at me and stepped right into my path like it was no big deal. A slight shift of my weight cleared him by 2cm or so and it was over just like that. There was a car behind me in the next lane across, so it wasn't like he needed that extra step to create a window of opportunity for himself. He had to wait anyway, it was just plain stupid.
I kind of wish that I had just plowed right into him. I love my bike though, and even though I'm sure the transfer of momentum would have done more for his skeletal structure than mine or my bike, at the end of the day I'm kind of a nice guy who doesn't crash vehicles into another to teach them a lesson.
This crash was stupid in a darwinian sense.

The second crash was stupid in the 'That guy is a fucken moron sense' I was heading back down Johnson st, and had a green light through the pedestrian crossing adjacent to pug mahones, a white mini-van decided to pull out and cross perpendicular to me.
Fortunately I have been riding long enough to be alerted first by knowing that he didn't make eye contact with me and second I could calculate that if I didn't speed up but instead slowed down he would run right over me.
So I sprinted forward and turned around, he was most of the way across the street before he decided to stop stupidly gazing in the opposite direction of oncoming traffic and work his way around to ahead of him (where he was driving) it was here that he noticed not a meter from his face me glaring at him as I swooped past. His facial expression told me he was thinking 'gee I'm an idiot' which is satisfactory but nevertheless I had the adrenalin in my system for about an hour afterwards. It makes you quite restless and distractable, so much so I didn't notice my ipod was stuck on repeat of one song for the further 40minutes of my commute.

The only thing to cap it all off was that while I was jacked up with adrenalin my mother spotted me and honked her car horn at me. A car horn is never welcome or friendly to the ears of a cyclist so while my mother's intentions were good, being honked at from behind only meant she was met with expletives until I noticed her waving into her rear view mirror at me, at which point I added her name to my expletives.

The point is, don't let me discourage you, bike riding is great and days like this are truly rare, I find them amusing whilst also providing a good reason to get angry from time to time it's even better than being angry at inflation.
And besides if you sell your car and get a bike, thats one less car that can potentially almost hit me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maybe I should talk about Consumerism

It occurred to me that I set out to write a post about Consumerism yesterday which ended up being something else, widely irrelevant and contained more youtube embedded clips than, frankly, I would be willing to actually watch if I logged onto someone else's web log. Infact even the scarce youtube posts by Harvard that contain Malay humor that is frankly impenetrable to my mind take a moment of extreme boredom to actually watch.
What is consumerism? I think Clive Hamilton put it nicely with this passage:

For people without wealth in pre-industrial society [western], personal identity was derived from their daily activites, from their occupations. Family names such as SMith, Fletcher, Farmer and Cutler remind us of this. Today this is no longer true: in consumer society people attempt to create an identity not from what they produce but from what they consume...We do not expect that people will take to naming themselves 'John Sports Utility' or 'Barbara Georgian Mansion', yet in consumer society we behave in ways that are only marginally less obtuse.

Wikipedia's open source definition is more succinct - equating personal happiness with the pursuit of material possessions.
But if it were that simple Pfizer would have had it classified as a disorder and have a pill to cure it by now.
There is large bodies of research none of which I'll reference that demonstrate that after basic necessities are met one's happiness (which I assume is the key performance indicator of wellbeing) does not improve. I'm sitting in a room full of stuff right now and I have to admit, the cumulative value of the stuff doesn't add much more than the simple fact I have food & shelter, it does 90% of the work.
In the DVD 'the corporation' this arguement was put as 'a truth and a lie' as the basis of modern society. The truth - if you take someone who is standing outside in the rain and hungry, and give them shelter, warmth and food they will quickly go from being very miserable to very happy.
The lie is: that if that much stuff makes them x happy. and that is denoted as y amount of stuff, then it follows that 2y of stuff = 2x of happy.
That is the foundation of the economic system by which progress is measured.
How does it manifest?
Well you go to work, and you view the daily sales report to which it tracks the YTD (year to date) sales result as a percentage of last years YTD sales result. if it is above 100% you feel good, the company is growing. If it is below you feel bad, the company is clearly dying.
That is what business is all about. Makes sense for a medicine that cures denghy fever, more sales mean more lives are being saved around the world.
It does not make as much sense for say golf putters. More golf putters mean more people are putting little white plastic balls into holes.
I mean it does make sense on the surface that that is good for business, you may even say that more golf means more relaxation for people around the world. To be fair the way it is most often interpreted is that it means more putters from your company means less putters sold by a competitor.
But it doesn't make sense when you carry it to a logical extreme. At some point putter sales will mean that A) everybody is playing golf all the time in the world. or B) someone is building skyscrapers out of golf putters.
You see growth if pursued forever will mean that eventually there will be a natural constraint. People will start consuming things for which there is no use for or even counterproductive. However if you look at businesses that have a plan for getting out of a business when it provides no value to society anymore (which is true even of medicine, if a disease is eradicated people don't keep buying the drug) you will find almost none.
The few you do find will be the best companies in the world. Ones that don't insist that a market be provided for their product.
Like perfume epitomizes marketing, diamonds epitomize consumerism.
Take a guess how old the tradition of diamond engagement rings are? well surely it goes back to medieval times where princes gave princesses diamond rings to cement the union of two royal houses?
you would be wrong:
The diamond engagement ring did not become the standard it is considered today until after an extensive marketing campaign by De Beers in the middle of the 20th century, which came to include one of the most famous advertising slogans of the 20th century: “A Diamond is Forever”.

In the early 20th century, the United States jewellery industry attempted to start a trend of male engagement rings, going so far as to create a supposed "historical precedent" dating back to medieval times. The attempt failed, although the industry applied lessons learned from this venture in its more successful bid to encourage the use of male wedding rings.

These 'traditions' are barely over 50 years old. Do you know how many generations have gotten married in that time? about 6. A 'tradition' that is now 6 generations old.
Furthermore if you read Freakonomics, or watch Blood Diamond, you may be surprised to learn that Diamonds aren't even all that rare. The supply is restricted to keep prices artificially high. The Diamond mines sell their diamonds once a year to traders who can 'take it or leave it' so to speak which is why it costs an idiot couple 3 months salary to get a non-functional piece of metal on a finger.

So these are the kind of forces that have set up an economy that whilst we may be perfectly aware of the fallacy of consumerism's underpinning logic, we all need our income because of the need for food & shelter so really we have to increase sales in order to keep up with inflationary pressures.
Inflation can't be too high though otherwise consumer confidence drops, if consumers don't consume then you are in big trouble, because the vast majority of jobs depend on selling something.
Once luxury items go, and people only consume necessities then imagine roughly the same proportion of jobs as the ratio between necessity purchases and luxury purchases (that in a good year I would put as 1:8 at least) disappearing overnight.
So we must consume to help eachother out. This is where economic terms like 'psychic income' and 'imaginary profits' come from interestingly largely associated now with the property market.
Psychic income interests me the most, it isn't income generated by fortune telling activities but it is strangely related. It is the notion that a purchase is rational so long as the purchaser believes they are getting value out of it.
One part of me agrees, say you buy a sweater hoping it will make you look good. The value you are pursuing is an increase in your attractiveness. The problem is that how attractive you are differs from person to person. In which case for purchase satisfaction maybe your opinion that is if you believe it makes you look better and thus enjoy the benefits of feeling more attractive, then this is psychic income.
Bad psychic income is when you buy a house on an adjustable mortgage rate that turns out to only ever adjust up. You purchased it on the belief that it will always go up in value, you believe you have made a good investment. However you timed your investment to coincide with 'period 1' of when the real estate industry makes the most noise, boom times where you hear stories of houses that were worth $300k 6 years ago suddenly worth $700k now. So you want some of this action and buy a house worth $300k now, then you enter 'period 2' of real estate industry making the most noise and find the house you bought for $300k 1 year ago is worth half that much now but you still have to pay the higher adjustable interest rate because the market collapsed because the reserve bank wanted to cap consumer spending by lifting interest rates. And whilst it is true that the property will once again be worth more than $300k you have to wait another ten years for that to happen. But you feel good because you've invested in Bricks & Mortar, not realizing that your investment would still go up in value if there wasn't a house on the land at all (a house is actually a depreciating asset, it is the land that appreciates). That's bad psychic income.
So time for a quote from Abe Lincoln:

I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.

In which case I am guilty of falsehood all the time. But how this relates to the danger of psychic income is that if a purchase is rational purely because you believe it to be valuable with out any comprehension of whether it is of benefit or not is fundamentally flawed. You aren't making a rational purchase, you are gambling, and the fact that you might buy something that you believe will improve your life and it actually does, doesn't change the fact that your purchase was not based on a reason.
An example, a girl believes that flashy, glittery, long nails will make her more attractive. She goes to a nightclub where she runs into a guy who thinks 'wow how glamorous! this girl can dress, I want to bang her bad.' then she was right her nails paid off (or contributed to this overall image) or she runs into a different guy who thinks 'wow, that's impractical, how are we going to go bowling?' in which case her purchase didn't pay off.
I guess in that scenario it all depends on what type of guy you want to attract. Their are 4 Jungian personality quadrants of which most of us have a dominant preference for one and can be two of the others by choice though we might consider that behavior more 'professional' than 'natural'.
Hence in society [western] you have brand conscious individuals that may be perceived by some (probably 1/4 to 1/2 of the population) as 'having it all' and by the rest as complete tools.
What is funny though is the notion that beyond Jungian personality archetypes that consumerism might become all pervasive, that someone could believe, nay worship at the alter of buying shit for psychic income, evaluating everything on face value and not ever be concerned about reality.
Could such a mind exist? My travels through Asia suggest that someway, somehow the behavior of consumerism may be an inherant part of the culture. Which I find Ironic because generally the Western World (Europe and US) have enjoyed far more affluence than Asian cultures.
Now when I say they, I use it in the sense of 'I have noted specific examples of individuals that affiliate with certain societies behaving in this manner' and not 'they are somehow different from us glorious white people' at anyrate consumerism has been taught by the west to the east, but like some say Japan never invented anything just improved what already existed so to have they (in the first sense) made consumerism something new.
Example one - Andy asked me if I could tell that his dad and associates were the bosses at their factories, it was a social setting and I honestly could not. Andy then said 'their clothing looks cool' or somethng to that effect. To me their clothing looked black, and possibly impracticle for the sub zero temperatures we were enduring. Apparantly I didn't know what to look for, it was the brands of their particular black skivvies and pants and shoes I somehow should have recognised AND associated with them holding high office in a factory. This gave me the impression that the consumerist mindset holds faith that certain articles of clothing are unquestionable testament to ones professional/personal merit.
Example twix - I was cruising around Melbourne CBD looking for a present for Misaki, I seem to have this curse that every time I start dating a girl it is their birthday very soon, obliging me to buy a present even before they have demonstrated a long term commitment to my birthday. (to be fair Miki tried to buy me a birthday present even though she met me the day after my birthday, which if it had been me I would have called unusually perfect timing) but she texted me to ask what I was doing, and I told her I was looking for a present possibly including a racist jibe to boot, I don't know. She then responded 'Plada [prada], Lv, Gucci all these brands are good I don't mind' which she later testified that she was joking. I did not panic and then go buy these expensive brands for her though, I'm not a pussywhipped bitch despite what my father calls me. I bought her some different bits of crap that conveyed personality and she was most heinously pleased with her birthday. This lead me to believe that brands though in Japan may be equated with a measure of someone's love and fidelity. Cash for love.
Example thrix - Madoka responded to my statement that 'Nagoya hasn't really changed' by insisting that Nagoya was much better now because a new skyscraper had been built filled with 'many good brands' then repielled the question seeing how I was dressed and recalling brands seem to have no meaning to this strange foreigner, and madoka is geniunly cool if a little patriarchal she has never been brand obsessed by Japanese standards. This gave me the impression though that in Japan progress is regarded as access to designer brands in the face of every single other economic indicator.

And I could go on about 'skin whitening' products in thailand, poor kids saving up for Nikes in China, Jerry lamenting how 'practical' his girlfriend was (calculating how much money he earned), Damo reevaluating his relationship as he had to wait outside while his girlfriend looked at pricey handbags in Crown (she was from south east asia)

But I believe I have found a specific social phenomena I never thought I'd find, something so consumerist it astounded me: apparently this is Singapore's most popular blog. And I feel I have to draw conclusions about the general state of mind in that country. It is horribly fascinating, note the paid advertorial content and particularly when consumer desires clash in an explosion of iphone vs pedicures.
I mean the absolute horror this inspires me (as I'm sure foreigners listening to Rush Limbaugh feel about the US or the picture that comes to mind when foreign readers stumble across Andrew Bolt) is possibly worthy of a blog post of its own.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Poem about Liam's friends

Really you should check out Liam's blog, its really good and we should encourage Liam whom I'm afraid has been damaged by his longtime nickname of 'surplus Damien' applied by his parents from an early age.
Anyway he has a post of poems about his friends, and since I thought nothings more current than bloggers feeding off the creative energy of bloggers in the blogosphere I'd take inspiration from Liam and write about my experience of Liam's friends and a haiku no less.

At Goodbye Party.
Liam really has some friends
I am surprised.

True story, we who saw Liam every day where he lived (we lived together) never knew he had like a bunch of friends that knew his name and stuff. It was like he had this secret double life where he was masquerading as a loser with no friends for our benefit.


I have a hard time explaining how this:

is quantifiably better than this:

And honestly whilst I would call Black Hole Sun a true classic of *gag* one of the weaker bands of the 90's whilst stuff by My Chemical Romance catchy but without the longevity. Objectively the MCR has 2.7 million views where Soundgarden has 3.6 million but so what SG has had longer for people to watch it, and probably doesn't have 6 posts of the same song.

Nevertheless I hold that certain periods of music are better than others, largely I hold by Jack Black's view that it has something to do with the disparity betwixt when the market changes and the time it takes 'the man' or industry figures out these new changes and commodifies it.
I hold that the human brain hasn't changed much between when I was 16 and 16 year olds now, so I don't blame the youth for the shitty music they like. I think it is just only ever so often a group like Beatles, Elvis, Pink FLoyd, Cream, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, NIN, Primus, Metellica, Faith No More come along and change everything.
HOWEVER! I do believe it is easier to make this case for hip hop.
The evil influences of Hip Hop are well documented by comparison but it was not always this way.
I watched Jar Head last night which set in Gulf War I followed the marines as they proceeded to do nothing the entire war.
It also featured Naughty By Nature's OPP track and I was reminded of this very factor.
Hopefully it is easier to say that this:

is better than today's greatest offering:

and that this:

is better than the face of the 'user generated content' revolution Soulja Boy:
(apparantly you can't embed videos of his work)

Or that even 90's latecomers J5 don't shit all over:

modern best selling artists like Kanye West in terms of message:

Or even maybe looking at industry ejaculum Vanilla Ice:

Is better than when Eminem tries his hardest to be serious:

And that's not even touching giants like Public Enemy, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest. Maybe we can look at the ultimate collaboration of the new millennium vs te 90's and decide truly whether we are happier now with music than we were ten years ago:

Can you keep your head exploding from the awesomeness of the new era.

(also irrelevantly I got lured by this clip on youtubes home page called 'my seeds & your grandchildren' disappointingly I thought it was going to be some horrifyingly serious marriage proposal it turned out to be pretty funny)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Self Discipline

If A + B = everything, then A must = creativity, and B must = discipline.

That is my definition of having it all.

It was not always though, I thought creativity would trump all back when I was 14. There were a few people that contributed to the outcome though, the first was Paul McDermott.
It was Paul McDermott that shattered an illusion I had. Being regarded through most of primary school as funny, and continuing onto high school and having never planned or prepared anything in my life, I was woefully dissillusioned as to what true comedy was. I had assumed that a pro comedian (like I shamefully thought Paul McDermott was at the time) was pulling every witticism off the cuff, all improvised, spawned by his brilliant brain.
But Bryce and I discovered his old discarded script on the abandoned set of Good News Week. We both took it pretty hard, we found out then that not only was Paul McDermott scripted, he had a team of writers telling him what to say. This shattered everything I thought a comedian was, a comedian I had thought doesn't sit and read other peoples jokes.
It was revealed to me by an insider and looking back at it, what children we must have seemed that even brilliant Comics like Roy & HG were scripted and rehersed their timing down to the second.
Later Bryce and I entered Raw Comedy as a comedy duo, to his credit Bryce was wise enough to want to prepare some material, but I thought it would be funnier if we were spontaneous and refused. And stage death was pretty fucking awful that night.
I learnt that you really don't just get up on stage and jokes start coming to you. Come to think of it, just about anything funny I've ever said or possibly written I had thought of long before I said it. For me planning and scripting was actually natural, the talent lay in recognizing the opportunities to say something funny.

The second person was Mr. Parker. As much as I disliked Mr. Parker's lifestyle and value system, when he took over cross country at my highschool and stopped it from being about fun but a serious training program, I started having a lot more fun.
I would never have expected it, but if anyone ever introduced me to self discipline, it was him.
After he showed up and ran a program, and set goals and pushed every participant, I actually noticed my own improvement, and ended up not only attending training, but running on my own time.
I think the essence of that was that in the first instance I enjoyed cross country for a reason in the first place, and having it as a fun informal club really didn't add anything but the frustration of not getting any better at it.
Once structure was introduced I enjoyed it a lot more, because what should have been assumed to be fun was the running itself, not the way the running was managed.
And as I got better at running, I enjoyed it more too.

The third was my art teacher Vicky, whom upon replacing the somewhat unpopular art teacher that preceded her, proceeded to down all our art, bin it and paint over our class murals.
Why? Because it wasn't up to standard. We'd been aiming too low and it wasn't the standard that when displayed on the wall would inspire us to do better.
This was delivered in a terse little speech. I thought we had lost one bitch only to be replaced by a mega bitch. Vicky ended up being one of the best teachers I'd ever had.
Because it was more interesting to do things much better. It was more inspiring to actually look at art history, and the best examples of each movement before doing a piece than just charging into a 'fun' egalitarian project where everyone's work gets displayed.

So it was over the years, someone who detested discipline as a crutch for small minds, and idolised pure versatile spontanious intelligence, learnt that discipline is actually essential.
SO it is with all things.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fear of a White Planet

is the working title of what I plan to work on now, and get published.
Not to be confused with the seminal public enemy album "Fear of a Black Planet" if you actually plan on buying a crappy copy of the zine when it's done, or be environmentally friendly and just download the file for free (though I don't actually know how many prehistoric trees burn to read it on an illuminated screen) but nevertheless want to be surprised either way, don't read on.
If you need more information as to what it is before you can commit to being interested then read on...
...and here we are. Basically, it came from my observation while traveling that generally speaking it was always much better to be colonialist than colonized, that it historically speaking was still better to be discoverer than discovered. And for all the miracle of trade and the benefits its supposed to bring, one generally observes it flows one way.
Furthermore I just want to do something racially charged to ingratiate me to the black community from whom I badly need approval.
I mean I was saying to someone Tommi or Chris the other day, that I actually laughed when I heard one of the Australian cricket team got jeered by Indian crowds and called a 'monkey' and then months later, Japan made the news for some company running an ad campaign that compared Barrack Obama to a monkey.
I laughed because I found it ironic, didn't these countries realise that these were precisely the racist monikers we applied to them back in the day, and now they are turning the exact same discrimination on other minorities.
Which brings me round to the other point, in white communities the fear of crime in South East Asia, South America, Africa, Mainland China and in refugee communities and immigrant communities over the developed western world is significant.
Yet historically speaking, the worst most ruthless and terrifying source of violence has been white people. With the possible exception of only the Mongols and Persian Empire, even then to say that Spartan rule was preferable to Persian is probably a gross undersight.
So I thought, if aliens came and the platform came out and the alien emerged and it was a white guy, I, knowing better, would kill myself at the first opportunity knowing that what was to come would be brutalisation, rape, disease and finally unbalanced economic and diplomatic treaties.
So that is basically it. Think Alien, except the Alien is just a white guy.
I'm only at the storyboarding stage, and when I figure out an image file small enough to chuck up some of my scans I will.

[citation needed]

Today I saw a brilliant piece of culture jamming, that I think is possibly the most brilliant piece of anything I'd ever seen. I was walking into RMIT library in order to have a quiet read and as I headed up the escalator I saw a Sony poster of a big musical note and a tagline: 'hear more' and then someone smart or who knows someone smart had cut out a piece of paper and glued it onto the ad that read "[citation needed]" after the tagline.
And like Buddha sitting under the apple tree when he discovered gravity, the thoughts cascaded in a beautiful kaleidescope of understanding.
I never would have thought it possible that someone could so succinctly put together such a beautifully wrought piece of communication in so few words.
I can't capture as Jane's Addiction put it 'the beauty of this moment, a sensesation not unlike slapping yourself in the face' but I can try, it was several hours ago after all.
But first, I thought, 'Hey, that's right, the add is suggesting you can actually "hear more" by using any sony product and I would assume that that is a completely baseless, arbitrary claim.'
and then I thought 'and yet, just about any product or advertisement can make similar baseless claims'
and then getting emotional I thought 'and yet, if you want to claim something like "the health care system has problems" your expected to put together whole reams of watertight referenced evidence to support your assertion, when really your opinion of the experience in that situation is probably less subjective than your opinion that you can "hear more" with a particular brand of MP3 player/mobile phone/stereo system.'
And furthermore I also thought, 'these assertions cost us money, if they didn't they wouldn't actually advertise, as the whole point of advertising is to make sales'
and then it all sort of came together 'and wikipedia most of the time is just a way to inform yourself, it does very little harm, and probably a lot of good. And yet it demands that people cite their sources, back up the claims they make to ensure neutrality and wikipedia is criticised because it isn't a reliable source of information. It doesn't meet academic standards, yet advertising can go around making claims that you will 'feel the difference' or that 'the watch makes the man' or that 'diamonds are forever' infact someone should plaster [citation needed] all over myers window display where in what I must admit is brilliant marketing, (in fact if I had to choose a product that represents marketing it would be perfume) they have fashion pieces inspired by perfumes, that suggest that Chanel No.5 is some elegant ball gown and Christine Dior is a business suit.'
all this from a tiny bit of paper, in a matter of seconds two.
And further evidence that as soon as you lend your camera to your brother while he's on vacation, things you want to take photos of crop up all over the place.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

While Waiting for the Rain to Let up enough to preserve my brightly colored pants

What a novelty rain like this is, stuff that actually makes noise when it hits a corrugated iron roof. I saw corrugated iron roofing on pyramids in puebla. ironic.
also I remembered the thought I was thinking about which really should be the title of this misleading post, but I've kind of accepted the fact that a blog is where I do my poorest communication and enjoying it now. But it should have been called:

My mother fucken cussing mouth.

Because recently I was informed by a guy that his objection to swearing in the workplace is that when you swear it effects how other people talk (they start swearing) and because its subconscious they don't have a choice in the matter, it impinges on their human rights. Ironic.
I have been violating human rights for many a year now. I also ironically saw a program on 'the mind' which was a follow up to somewhat popular BBC series 'the body' where they demonstrated that people mimic naturally people they like whereas they don't immitate the behaviours of people they don't like.
This explains somewhat how every one of my ex-girlfriends has eventually ended up with a filthy mouth.
Whilst Claire only dropped the occasional 'fuck that' or whatever I am most proud of Misaki a girl who is cute and polite as can be in her native tongue of japanese but when I pushed her out of the way into the shoe storage area when she tried to pay for a meal at zawatami's that only I had eaten at, the mouth on her in english was enough to make me blush 'You mother fucker, why you fucken do that? oh its bullshit, I will pay you fucking bastard...' and so on.
It was hilarious.
Even in work contexts my filthy mouth won out after a first year of Carole telling me off every time I hung up the phone after a stupid call and swore, eventually she relaxed and accepted, to the opposite end of the spectrum towards the end of my tenure when my protoge or however it is spelt, would swear by quietly mouthing out the letters 'this is "B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T"' which eventually resolved in my training program (which comprehensively included high-5s as desirable employee behaviour) as it usually does with the sentance 'fuck you tohm' which is really when I know I've won.
Now that's ironic.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Daddy's Princess

I tried to write about the conditioning imposed upon young girls that whilst presented as an advantage may actually be one of the bigger disadvantages, but I felt I fucked it up (which is okay, my blog gets written in so much because I have appallingly low editorial standards) and never thought about it again.
But I was listening to Mark & Mike of manager tools fame today and Mike made the comment that his daughter was a princess. Now I'm sure the context was that she actually did get to tell him what to do and got special treatment, as opposed to how managers get treated in an organisational context.
This was the insight I needed, when I thought, that's the big disservice of the childhood fantasy modelling.
I will make a sweeping generalisation, but most childhood feudal age fantasies are divided along gender lines into the roles of knights/warriors for boys and princesses for girls.
But the image of the princess is that they get what they want, wear pretty dresses and ride ponies and shit all day and get to boss around a bunch of servants.
Knights presumably battle dragons and eachother and shit.
So straight up, I see again generally speaking the gender roles already have devisive characteristics of princesses defined as attractive because they get stuff given to them and knights are attractively defined because they do interesting stuff.
So if you think about it, boys are being encouraged in this game or characterisation to go off and have adventures and be self relient. Girls are encouraged to aspire to complete reliance.
Then I believe in subtle subconscious things as powerful apply to this impression a bit of historical context. What was a princess in reality?
A princess was a daughter of a royal house, they couldn't inherit stricktly speaking but they could be married off. In this sense cultivating attractive qualities such as beauty, cleanliness, nice flattering clothing and shit is infact the biproduct the fantasy focusses on whilst ignoring the harsh reality that produced it. A princess was for marrying off as political currency to form alliances in a time plagued by war and would eventually become a baby factory. In many cases princesses had to be sold to encourage other nobles to pick them up.
It is an utterly unempowered position. Sure there are notable exceptions to the rule like Queen Elizabeth for one. But that was more because the family or groups of advisors that held sway didn't want to dilute the power at all being more or less on the top of a politically isolated nation.
Hence hencely, you don't do yourself a favor by typecasting yourself as a princess, even for your esteem, because being someone who is told what to do, even if you are told to do quaint, pretty things for the rest of your useful life, will never be as promising as coming from an attitude where you get things for yourself and decide what you do with your life.
In this regard I recall being at a Malay party that Harvard took me to but forbid me from confronting the douche that cuckolded him, justifiably so because I was looking for amusement in a situation that was probably emotional to Harvard a malaysian robot somehow programmed to have feelings. But this party was one of those 'events everyone can enjoy' in that it had no alcohol, lots of food and plastic cups. And some girl had labelled her cup 'princess' where other people feel their names suffice.
SO either princess actually miraculously was a shorter word and thus easier to write than her actual name or she felt some empowerment was derived from casting herself this way.
I never connected name to face, but as a direct comparison, a girl that labels herself a 'bitch' may seem to be self depreciating but I actually think that label can be empowering in the sense that whilst it carries the negative 'unpleasant to deal with' has the positive 'sticks up for herself' whereas what does princess offer?
Nothing I respect certainly 'precious, picky, temperamental, arrogant, delicate, superficial, sheltered, reliant on parents' etc.
So I will not typecast my daughter this way. I will buy her a handgun for her first birthday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising

These days to think of rap music is to think of the brilliant and insightful social commentary offered by stuntin' like my daddy and unfortunately for a lot of Australian whitey mcwhites that grew up moistening to tracks like Powder Finger's 'Living Type' and Jeff Buckley's 'Last Goodbye' this is what one assumes rap has more or less been since MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice hung up their hats.
But there was a thing called 'The Native Tongues Posse' that was actually so talented that by comparison combined whole gangs of gangsta rap have not approached equating to one such solid offering of talent as was available at that time.
And the crown jewel is De La Soul, who unlike FNM have some albums that are not as consistently great as other albums, however they are also unlike FNM in that they are still around today, and seem to be subject to the same market forces that have seen the general decline in hip hop on offer, where polish replaces creativity.
The crown of De La Soul has a jewel though and for me it is '3 feet high and rising' I want badly to cheat on this exercise and include it because it has a bonus disk with extra tracks that puts it in front of other De La Albums and similar to King For A Day it is incredibly hard for me to justify a preference myself for one album over another, in the end, it is the album though that I listen to most, that I feel like listening to most and I can't rationalize why.
So with an album that has either 20 or 27 tracks w/ or w/o the bonus disk, I'm not going to go through track by track and stick to the highlights.
First though one thing that does make this album are the filler tracks themselves, and while I say that a lot of distinct personality comes across in the more substantial tracks, DLS expound a lot of their worldview through the filler tracks which are also amusing. Stuff like 'Skip To My Loop' and 'Brainwashed Sketch' and the gameshow snippets all contribute to making this album highly listenable.
Secondly tracks like 'Can U Keep a Secret','Little Bit of Soap' and 'Take it off' are also the rarefied examples of self depreciating humour that mark DLS as relatively secure compared to the hollow posturing that comes with selling shit to dumb people that is rap music today. I mean a song about 'grills' man, fuck.

Highlight 1: The Magic Number
A superb sample of '3 is the magic number' bent out of shape kicks off the album after the somewhat meaningless intro. Here one is exposed for the first time to the 'kinetic flow' that is also a tribute to the combination of Mace, Dove and Pous that makes the speaker + sound system combination that is so effective. One could label them 'the 3 musketeers of hip hop' but that would be increasingly uncool.

Highlight 2: Change in Speak

Okay so I have to confess, if there was anything I learned from A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul it is how much the DJ actually contributes to making or breaking a hip hop tune, I think I learned it at least. Now one can see on this track a simple little loop for a simple little tune that doesn't get overly busy and complements the ditty rap on top of it. I like it.

Highlight 3: Jenifa Taught Me

Freakanomics revealed that the african american community has a penchant for odd spelling of names, like me, and hence I feel like I can readily identify with them and rest assured we shall overcome. Jenifa ends up being a recurring character, but this is a song about sex, and well the losing of virginity that I think is balanced and fair without the paradoxical worship of 'hot babes' that one disrespects as 'bitches & ho's so frequently frequented upon by rap music. I must say that the position of wife-beater is almost preferable to that angsty emo crap, the moral-musical choice imposed on white males in their teenage years betwixt a douche and a turd sandwich. These guys offer a 'third way' if you will where you simply respect yourself and women. Insightful! I'm not sure though if its captured in this song, which is more of an amusing anecdote. But an anecdote told with an extreme play on the english language.

Highlight 4: Ghetto Thang

At times this is almost my favorite track on the album, again it is set at honestly diminishing the plight of the adults grown out of children raised in the ghetto. Socially conscious rap, it has a great section where Trugoy is saying more or less nothing but 'ghetto thang is ghetto something somethin' if you can say something so smoothely my ears can't actually pick up what is being said I appluad you in this context, because its smooth. But if you say something to me that is merely incomprehensible (a la little john) then man I don't like you very much.

Highlight 5: Eye Know

This is a happy song, and any white analysis would only diminish it.

Highlight 6: Tread Water

A song about survival, featuring disneyesque critters to deliver the important message that we all need to tread water, to survive, to look forward to a time when our troubles go away. This is probably my favorite track on the whole album. I love it, and literally while i was travelling and things got tough mentally to cope with the inane repetitive lifestyle of being a full time consumer (I warn you the natural consequence of globalisation is that travel will become like being trapped in Chadstone shopping centre 24/7) I would put this song on and it would make me feel better.
That's right no need for a photo of my crappy family for me, I have De La Soul for that.

Highlight 7: Potholes In My Lawn

This song is 'def' according to Jeff. It is a nice put together set of samples as Puosdnous laments the act of plagarism, the metaphore I assume is that potholes represent stolen daisy's and DA.I.S.Y stands for DA Inner Sound Yall. Here we glimpse the burden of living to this philosophy, but the track is nice and meaty despite its floronic content.

Highlight 8: Say No Go

This would be hands down my favorite if I was able to count the cut on the special disk, which is just a better production. As per its original release though it wasn't hard hitting enough. That said it still contains so many great lines I am still amused by what I hear recently I picked up the line 'drugs are like pleather: you don't want to wear it' which I find neat and my favorite section of all - 'Now people say what have done for all my years, my tears show how hard i've worked, I've heard that shoving is worse than pushing but I'd rather be a shover than pusher coz a pushers a jerk'
Just brilliant. Seriously this is something a real dork would describe as a 'hip hop tour de force'

Highlight 9: Plug Tunin'

When De La Soul's style of speak first appeared apparantly it created a sensation, like if you woke up one day and the sky was orange instead of blue. The world had changed forever but not in a particularly devastating way (I really would enjoy not getting submissions from people doing their thesis on what a change of pigmentation in the atmosphere would mean for climate change). One such symptom of the phenomena was an appearance of a competition to be able to sing the entire way through plug tunin'. And plug tunin is where one does get a sense that this new style of speak is otherworldy. To describe it is to imaging the aliens from 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' breaking into rap. And you maybe have an impression of what this track is like from that. Perhaps though not enough of you are massively uncool enough to know the reference. Fortunately there's youtube:

Highlight 10: Buddy

This is anative tongue's posse love in. It features Q-tip and the Jungle brothers. I have posted the clip before which whilst it captures the love of that group and the laughter flying in the face of the seriousness of the music industry it represents everything right in hip-hop as equally as 'Stunting like my daddy' doesn't and whilst the buddy filmclip freely admits the filmclip makes no sense, stuntin like my daddy with it's inexplicable caption 'one year later' simply doesn't make any sense.
But whilst the album lacks Latifah's appearance that isn't necessarily why the album recording oozes more class. It just flows better. But both are fun. And Buddy really is the cream of socially conscious hip-hop.

Highlight 11: Me Myself and I

If there was one song you'd use to make the case for how cool this band is, and introduce them it is Me Myself and I. I mean just watch the clip for this one, and tell me they ain't cool.

Highlight 12: D.A.I.S.Y Age

not the strongest, but explanatory, and has nice vocal refrains. It is simply one of the many songs where you get the same thing that has kept you listening thus far - originality.

Bonus Highlight: Double Huey Skit

Just when you thought De La Soul maybe have too much talent, Baby Huey plug 3 the DJ/PA starts rapping on the last track. And it's solid, as well as an injection of solid playfullness. Like throwing dried dog turds at girls.

When all is said and done, more is said than done, said Mark Twain whom I have no doubt would have a rap album if he was still alive today and definitely be a big fan of this band.
Now while 3 feet high and rising may appear to outperform King For A Day in sheer volume of highlights, it isn't a straight up comparison. Whilst it seems that Mike Patton is the major drawcard of FNM it is important to remember that whilst one should never downplay the actual brainpower required to coordinate rap talent with djing talent, it's like comparing one of those light flavorsome thai dishes we all love with a hearty beef stroganov, FNM is a weird band for me now to have escalated above Cream as the best rock band of all time, because they have fucking keyboards for fucks sake.
But that said, side by side I could never pick betwixt these two albums, I find them both to be the epitome's of the two sides of the 90's coin. So go out and buy them, buy ten copies to give to all your friends. There is a universe of joy waiting to be discovered.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Faith No More - King For A Day

I used to have a rule when I was 14 or so, that is if an album had more three good songs on it, it was a decent purchase. Some great albums I had, had 4 songs on them, like Rage Against The Machines self titled debut. Infact in my limited experience didn't think an album could get much better. Then came Faith No More, or more precisely, then I came along to Faith No More that had been around for longer than I was aware and blew my crappy standard completely out of the visible spectrum.
If you are lucky enough to be a FNM fan, then their albums actually do the impossible for any band you usually like. They are all distinct and yet...of a consistent quality to live up to your expectations. 'Album of the Year' may be the only week point as I would describe it as a 4 star album. But in the beginning (beginning of Mike Patton's run with them) there was 'The Real Thing' that from start to finish is pure gems of alternate rock gold, it operates somewhere in the spectrum between whining punk, to thrash rap. And not this rap where a white guy like Eminem gets to be treated by black people with respect, but one that firmly belongs with electric guitar accompaniment from the lips of a white guy with an uber-undercut and would have black guys shaking their heads in shame and embarrassment because instead of merely stealing their cultural offering, they made it their own, for their own audience - ironically the same audience that likes the best rap music and isn't all insecure about who is cool enough to listen to it - people who like music.
Then came 'Angel Dust' which goes way down the disjointed thrash metal, singing through a megaphone combined with flavorings of country ballads. This contains probably FNM's best song 'Midlife Crisis'. Yet again Angel Dust would probably satisfy on a desert island except that it was followed up with the album for which all has been so far in this post, mere preamble. King For A Day.
It is worth it to me to examine track by track and I'll embed the video clips were I can.

1. Get Out

This album doesn't ease in its listeners, it injects the energy from the outset. Short and sweet this song doesn't make much of an impression on me, apart from waking me up and grabbing my attention. If using headphones make sure you adjust the volume before playing this album.

2. Ricochet

Already one of the highlights of the album, it caters to my sick side with lines like 'It's always funny until someone gets hurt and then its just hilarious' and yet can be nostalgic as well commenting maybe of the inscrutable meaning of our lives '...there's no reason, no explanation, so play the violin' this song is like a kid who has had raspberry cordial straight - it is happy and angry. But maybe it is a timely reminder that a song is not made or broken by its lyrics, it is also fucking pleasant on the ear.

3. Evidence

The lounge music that isn't appropriate, this is one of the best aspects of FNM albums in general, you get 5 singers for the price of one, where does one put a lounge track in a hard rock album, apparantly track 3 is soon/late enough, you see your energy level drop again. This track can pass over your head a couple of times before you realise what it is they are singing about, it demonstrates all of our suceptability to just cruise along with something nice sounding without hearing what is said.

4. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

I remember this song from 'Who Cares?: The best of Faith No More' the obligatory album to fulfill a record contract that was a best seller when I was in Year 8 or 9, this was a single that people I knew hadn't heard, and it quite took my circle of friends by storm. Everybody loved this song, it was so angry, and we were teenagers, that said of all the angry music out there, this never took itself seriously, its just one awesome song, highlight numero 2 of the album. This song wastes no time.

5. Star A.D

This song has brass, and while it may not be everyones cupcake, I like it because it is more play for patton's vocals, unsurprisingly it is a song that has no real youtube clip either. you can sweat this one out, or you can enjoy it. I could imagine it being used as a theme for either a hardhitting HBO series featuring david dachovny or some Quentin Tarantino take on Hawaii 5-0.

6. Cuckoo for Caca

I can't even pretend to know what this is about, and I would have listened to it close to 120 times. It is deep and dark and energetic. Imagine a huge gothic cathedral collapsing as the devil crawls out of hell and the cascade of rubble born from flying buttresses hit the gigantic organ keys as the universe implodes, then combine it with non-sensical lyrics and you have Cuckoo for Caca. If that description doesn't do it for you, then I am telling you trust me this is highlight numero 3. 'Take it from our drummer Puff, being good it gets you stuff' nough said.

7. Caralho Voador

The second real lounge track of the album and arguably needed after Cuckoo for Caca. Not quite as good as Evidence, but nevertheless quality. The refrain gets stuck in your head too.

8. Ugly in the Morning

The poor mans 'Cuckoo for Caca' but just to quanitify how good that is I'm calling it highlight numero 4. The lounge tracks are nice but it is this type of music that makes me feel cool to associate with.

9. Digging the Grave

This one captures both the smooth velvety texture of Patton's vocals, delivers the energy and captures the screeching scat artist crazyman vocal styling of Mike Patton. The clip almost bills it as a Metal track. Highlight number 5

10. Take this Bottle

Take this bottle is a sad song, a lament, a ballad. Tragic, hopeful? I don't know, but it is powerful, it tingles my scrotum. And thats what a good ballad should do.
Note this isn't the actual song but an amusing anecdote

11. King For a Day

My life is somewhat a struggle to figure out how I could ever persuade my better half to let me have this play on our wedding day. The title track has many of the properties of digging the grave in terms of showcasing Mike's contrasting styles, its just about ten times better. What's ten times better than a good song? highlight number 6 thats what.

12. What a Day

And then straight of the back of that you might be expecting another slow tempo tune to give you a rest, but no, you get What a day highlight number 7.

13. The Last To Know

This song is a lament, it lets you know the end of the album is coming. sad but again powerful, this one tingles both my scrotums.

14. Just A Man

This song is one of those songs that ends an album so well that if you hadn't realised it by yet you now know you have just listened to a great album.
Just listen to it, then you'll understand.

So if you've stuck with me to this point, then let me just say, if you have 10 maybe max 20 dollars in your pocket, don't spend it on something stupid like food, go out and buy this album, and desert island aside buy all faith no more's album, because your kid isn't going to discover Led Zep, or Iggy and the Stooges like that annoying Juno character. They are going to discover FNM in your antique CD collection one day, and instead of thinking you are the coolest like Juno's kids may be under the false impression of if she didn't give her kids up for adoption and thus spare them this tragedy, your kids will know in thier scrotum that you are the coolest. Hopefully this isn't much of a revelation to them as you won't be pussy whipped (or whatever the gender nuetral term is) by that stage.
This excited me.

I'm excited.

Desert Island with a sound system

If I were to be flying over the pacific, only to have my plane crash in the middle of an ocean and then I washed up on an island and I were to be left with only two cds to listen to until I died or was rescued here is what I think I am ready and comfortable in my life to choose:

1. Faith No More - King For A Day

2. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising

That's the culmination of my life's seeking out and listening to music. I have determined that these two albums are enough to sustain myself mentally and to provoke me to abstain from ending my life. Infact I would go so far as to say, an island life of quiet comtemplation of these two albums could make a pleasent alternative to a lot of far more likely lifestyles I am to lead.
And in the spirit of Quarterly essays, and just general positivity replacing my blogs sole occupation of being a 'playa hater' I intend to write about these two albums at length and why they have made the cut, the bare minimum of music I require to sustain my enjoyment of life.
I can't wait! can you...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Things that were never cool, things that still aren't, and things that never will be.

I was walking past a store today and looked in the door to see a shoe that reminded me of this quote:

In the 70s we saw an energy crisis, a bike boom, and a porn explosion. In the oughts or whatever we're in now we're seeing an energy crisis, a bike boom, and a porn explosion. Except this one seems to involve Williamsburg and quasi-homeless people. Still, though, I think if you found someone who had accidentally been locked in a freezer in some Brooklyn basement in the 70s and thawed him out today he'd have no idea anything had changed. Even his moustache would still be in style. (Though he wouldn't realize it was ironic now.)
from the trusty Bikesnob NYC

This was funny, to me because what I was looking at was a Vans classic sneaker that had as a design motif what I made out to be Slash, guitarist for guns and roses.
I may be showing my age here, but it seems like bodysurfing I managed to start stroking my way into paying attention to popular music perfectly timed to miss both the dissapointment of going to soon and being a Guns'n'Roses/Bon Jovi/Aerosmith fan and not too late to be caught up in Nu metal acts Korn/Limp Bizkit/Orgy.
But what struck me was the revelation that Guns'n'Roses, to me, and I may be a minority of one is still not cool. That is, not enough time has passed to even make them 'ironicly' cool like the abovementioned 70's moustache.
Because think about it, Guns'N'Roses had the design aesthetic of the Indoor Gokart Centre Maintenance Guy's Tattoo seen, or the black velvet paintings of Unicorns. And in sneaker terms, if you are going to lash out $200 on jeans, to combine them with $100 sneakers with Slash's visage glaring up at you is like paying $2 million dollars for a black velvet painting of a Unicorn just so you can hang it next to a Dali Print.
The other fashion that every time I see it that is pissing me off is the bedion type 'towel-head' scarf I see people wearing around. Yes it is cold. But these scarves I am pretty sure are straight out of the fixed gear seen along with snug fitting trousers. Fixed gears annoy me to see them creeping into vogue in Melbourne, so certainly late in their coolness lifestyle, but the scarves infuriate me. Because they just look bad. And as scarves it's like someone stumbled upon the only possible design that could make it look bulkier around your neck than wearing a traditional woolen scarf.
I think this scarf for me, shall be in the annals of fashions that caught on that just never looked good, and despite being in, were never cool.
Among these I would add those ripcurl tracksuit pants, and backwards caps everytime they crop up. The backwards cap thing is odd, because it is a manuever that rarely pays off, a cap can be a good looking cap, and there are some very good looking caps out there, but to put it backwards is like assuming unnecessary risk, I doubt that it will look better backwards than forwards, it instantly highlights the flaws in your purchase decision. If the cap actually touches your collar we know its too big, if we can see too much of your forehead its too big, if your hair sticks out the bit where you adjust the size, we know you bought the wrong kind of cap to be wearing backwards, and if you are wearing a uniform we know you are a jackass.

The remarkable things about these uncool trends though, is that they seem to bypass the usual process. Usually (and this is the principle behind most viral marketing campaigns) people are either opinion leaders, or followers. Most people are followers, I guess its why leaders generally in any field have to mathematically be a minority to the amount of people that follow them. And I should point out that opinion leaders are not necessarily leaders in all contexts, just with fashions, pastimes and trends. They lead the consumption pattern.
What usually happens is a group of friends meet, and they are all wearing jeans, they are all wearing tight fitting jeans. Then friend X turns up who has just replaced his jeans, and on a whim he decided to go for baggy fit jeans.
Instantly his friends rile him.
Now what happens next actually determines the follower/leader status. Most often, the person with balls enough to actually break the mold says something like 'Whatever I like em this way, that's why I bought them' which is true in any situation. Over the next few weeks, gradually the rest of the group in their subconscious attraction to him, also buy new pants in the baggy style and conform to the opinion leader.
If however the guy says 'yeah I know, the store only had this size though, I'm gonna buy another pair' and then goes home and shoots himself for being so humiliated, this person is a genuinly unfortunate/stupid opinion follower.
But the point is that trends are usually developed independantly by people with free wills. Some of them may even be fashion designers confident enough that there's some subculture group that will adopt their designs, it can come anywhere.
There are people employed as cool hunters though to find out what opinion leaders are wearing and then slap a brand on whatever that is and sell it to their somewhat less confident friend.
But some fashions I think, maybe at the heady times just before recession, when people have a false sense of security they foolishly invest in a fashion that hasn't been approved first by opinion leaders, hence every ten years or so, you walk around suddenly perplexed at seeing people wear something without understanding why.
At least that's my theory. Anyway, if you really want to get ahead of the trend, throw that scarf out now, because you KNOW you aren't going to wear it next year, you possibly knew it when you bought it.

Or maybe the thuggee strangler cult is making a comeback?

Oh yeah and if you do want a 80's rock band that IS ironically cool its called Warrick they did like 'She's my Cherry Pie' and shit.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

One Sit Up + One Push Up

Today marks one month to go till I race in the city to surf. City 2 Surf, some marketing shit. The point is that I will have to run 14km in what is almost certain to be direct sunlight up and down hills with a big swarthy, sweating mass of people around me. Funrunners range from the truly beautiful people, to the total dorks who wear little plastic clip things on their shoelaces, have sports watches that they press and go 'beep' when the start gun goes, so they can dispute their times infront of their friends on monday when the time gets published in the newspaper. And it doesn't stop there, these running dorks also wear oakley sunglasses that kind of go with their matching tri-colour nike running shorts and singlets.
Man I don't ever want to be one of them. The only matching out fit I'll be tempted to run in would be a pantomime horse costume, and then only if I was the front part so I could yell encouraging abuse at my arse while attempting to run over as many unnecessary obstacles as possible like gutters, park fences and small children. Face it having read this you'd do it to me, should the situation be reversed.
But alas, yesterday I decided to start training early by building up my upper body strength. I'm just easing into it. So Yesterday I took some time out to get down on the floor and do one pushup and one coresponding sit up.
I am fairly confident having gone from 2km fitness to 20 km fitness in Japan over a similar period of time that with dedication I can run the 14km comfortably, I do have one disadvantage over my running partner Shona though - anticipation. I have run the City to Surf before, twice infact and the first time I did it I got to heartbreak hill and ran over it pretty soundly as other runners collapsed groaaning to the ground, or were driven insane by the tantalizing sound of plastic cups getting smashed underfoot at the drinks stands that is deceptively far from where you first see it. I ran past all this quite happily because I simly didn't know any better. I knew nothing about the geography of Sydney and had no idea how far I had to go beyond the hill so I just kept running and it was no big deal.
The second time I did it though, I remembered, I remembered that I still probably had another 40 minutes of running from the top of the hill. I remembered that there was a drinks stand along the hill somewhere and thus couldn't wait to get there and didn't want to leave.
Hence my training regime has to be so much tougher than dear Shona's, I have to make my mind like steel, I have to toughen up to the point that I am simply oblivious to external realities, I have to go on doing one pushup and one sit up (which if I leave it at that will probably still leave me much stronger than those dork runners, if not as lightweight and fast) but I intend to actually keep adding one a day, that by the time I'm doing the city 2 surf this year I will have done 30 sit ups and 30 push ups...which doesn't sound that impressive. Man I should have thought about this earlier, so I could head for an impressive end target of like 500 sit ups and 500 pushups making me look like the love child of Lennox Lewis and a cheetah. Did you know Lennox Lewis' nickname was 'the Lion' coincidence, apparantly not.
But still this isn't the first time I have adopted such a training regime, the name of the game is to stick with it. Yes this is about discipline says I as I lead I lifestyle almost completely devoid of any discipline whatsoever. Well things are going to change I tell you now.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Insight: $2 Moronity - Economics explained in pictures

I was lucky enough to catch Insight last night. And while I think we can all agree that Jenny Brockie has a rare talent for facilitating that makes Jim Lehrer look like a Fox News anchor in her impartiality and sheer desire to just get all opinions heard, for me the show was one of those shows where I wish I had that special gun that allows you to shoot people on tv.
Specifically, the case of a girl who had to drive 700km-800km per week to attend university. This was put forward as why we 'need' a solution to the petrol crises as she had no viable alternative, she had to drive to her train station and then ride the train for 2 hours each way to get to uni, and she pointed out that this particular semester she had classes from 8 in the morning to 7 at night. She was currently working two jobs to pay for her petrol and that petrol cost her $120-$140 a week to fill up a tank.
Now if you are nodding your head going mmm-hm yes there really is no solution for that, then consider this - if she lived in Ballarat and made this exact claim we would think her an idiot, a simple alternative that is not public transport and not cheaper fuel is to simply move closer to her University. If you are paying $120 per week for petrol then your car is certainly costing you more than that in both depreciation and insurance, registration etc. Maybe even $250 per week. I know there's a rental crises but I'm sure you can still get a room for under $250 per week somewhere much closer to University than that, and probably closer to better job opportunities as well.
Furthermore if you actually sympathise with people who believe their car is a necessity then you perhaps will find my course in the Australian Economy quite interesting.
Let's start with how the Australian Economy works, this is the Australian economy.

Fig 1.0 the Australian Economy

This is the model we have used basically since white settlement turned up, legally defined Aboriginals as Animals and then claimed all the resources here for use in its economic output. But its not that simple, you see because Australia is part of a broader international community, and despite different economies having different structures we all need a bench mark. This benchmark is called Gross National Product or Gross Domestic Product. It is basically a $ value of how productive your economy is. How does this relate to Australian economy - well have a look:

Fig 1.2 The GNP and the Australian Economy

Okay are you following? Well in fig 1.2 we see our 'hole lot of resources' that is the Australian Economy, any given year we dig up/chop down/extract/mine/blow up/burn off/eat so much of our resources and then we sell them to someone for some money. This then shows up as our GNP. For purposes of simplicity I have created two hypothetical years of using our 'hole lot of resources' to generate GNP $'s. In year x we dug up a band of resources and sold them off to countries that needed them, maybe some of them we sold domestically that were then used to produce goods and services or manufactured into export goods. For simplicities sake, generally Australia just digs it up and sells it to whatever bubble economy is in vogue at the time (1980's Japan, 2000's China) until the 'unpredictable' economic bursting of that bubble.
So in year x you might say our economy produced $4 billion worth of goods, the next year year y we produced $6 billion worth of goods. Because year y follows year x and year y is greater than year x this represents economic growth. In this bumper year we achieved infact 50% GNP growth which would have every country in the world jumping up and down demanding to know why their government didn't deliver the same returns.
So now you are basically up to speed with what our governments across the world try to do to show that they are doing a good job, this economic model fits basically all our mining industries particularly relevant for the boom in WA and even represents the Balifornian gold rush in the Victorian Central Highlands, which similar to the WA boom I expect few people will actually 'strike it rich' in the view of history.
So now you understand the Australian economy, how it relates to Coal, Forrestry, Oil, Minerals, etc. So lets step it up and get a little more complicated, lets now observe the role government plays in the economy - 'the government is your friend'.
Basically lumping everything into the same 'hole lot of resources' is good for an overview but doesn't help us understand the complexities of industry.
Lets move to a favorite illustrative tool by economics teachers the two by two matrices.
First our two resources - Brown Coal and Asbestos.
Fig 2.1 two resources

Now each 'hole lot of asbestos' and 'hole lot of brown coal' has a set value on it, that is there is a market price going for every bit of coal or asbestos in that hole. It takes time to dig it out, so each industry is susceptible to market fluctuations over time. Inflation general tells us that prices go up, like petrol. So the oil we dig up today will possibly be worth more if we wait and idg it up tomorrow - this helps explain why OPEC doesn't really give a shit when the leaders of the world demand they increase production.
But do prices always go up? well this is an interesting case study in Fig 2.1, you see back in the 50's or some shit, asbestos was 'white gold' a wonder product, it was fire retardant, an insulator, practically industructable, light wait and a handy sbstitute for bi-carb soda. We couldn't get enough of it. Then one day, people started dying. Not unusual for any given day, except that a bunch of people died of commn symptoms, which was respiratory problems and these people had something else in common - they had all worked with asbestos. Asbestos though useful, seemed to have this nasty property of killing just about anyone who inhaled the stuff.
To oversimplify a bunch of people sat down to figure out whether the cost of making asbestos safe was greater than or equal to the value of selling it. And it wasn't so the value of asbestos as a viable industry fell. Many governments regulated against using it in buildings and many old buildings took on the additional financial burden of having to be stripped of it to be made safe for its employees again.
As such if you had a 'hole lot of asbestos' it basically became a 'hole lot of shit'.
Similarly, Coal is a 'wonder product' that can also be dug out of the ground, it burns fairly hot which is good for boiling water, boiling water is fucking great at generating steam, and steam can be put to work to turn turbines that spin a magnet through a coil and generate electrical current. And electricity is the thing with a million uses. Coal has other qualities as well, like if a ship laden with coal sinks, the coal generally just sinks to the bottom of the ocean and becomes 'wet coal' rather than spreading out on top of the ocean strangling wildlife, spreading toxins and potentially catching on fire and stinking up the atmosphere (although oil is generally intended to catch on fire somewhere, just not usually in the middle of the ocean). So coal can be very valuable.
Until someone points out that when coal is burnt all 'that black shit' that we had been diverting out of the buildings and into the sky, tends to be denser than air, and heats up and retains heat better than regular old air. And when some 'mr.scientist' points out that if continued this will kill not the earth but human civilization if continued, one would resonably forecast that human civilization will want to stop using it.
So one assumes that it is inevitable that like asbestos, coal similarly transforms into a 'hole lot a shit'. But does it? Consider two different countries:
Fig 2.2 Australia and Canada "America's Hat"
I hope my illustration is helpful for those of you who don't know where Canada is, hopefully we all know where the USA is, even if we laugh and scoff at Australians so ignorant they can't point to California 'the worlds 5th largest economy' on a map yet would be ignorantly arrogant enough to laugh at US citizens who can't point to Australia 'the worlds 18th largest economy' on a map.
Basically remember how I said a bunch of maths guys figured out whether the cost of making asbestos safe was outweighed by the revenue from selling it? Well that happened in a bunch of different places, it happened in Australia whom evidently found that the costs of making the industry safe were not worth the returns from our piddling little 'hole lot of asbestos' which I guess in this case could be described as a 'hole little of asbestos' whereas Canadia math guys sat down and were like, 'boy we sure do have a hole LOT of asbestos, it really is a shame we can't sell it' they figured out that the 'cost' of making it 'safe' was worth it just to continue to sell the 'hole FUCKLOADS of asbestos' they had over there. So unlike most of the developed world, the Canadian government invested in making Asbestos safe and tried to keep on selling it to other countries stupid enough to keep on buying (like Japan) where the cost of litigation is virtually non-existent.
So as you can see, changes in value effect different economies differently, one economy that had been relying on digging up and selling more asbestos each year for economic growth was all like 'ouch that hurts, stop it! stop it! stop saying that your ruining everything! I know your lying, I'm not listening...lah lah lah lah lah' and another economy that didn't really rely on digging up more asbestos than another economy was like all 'well that's a shame but really we have to bite the bullet and shut down that industry or we'll go broke just paying compensation.'
So we could hypothesise on this point as to how different countries will react to this thing called 'climate change' as it relates to the value of our 'hole lot of brown coal'.
Australia and Canada both have lots of Uranium, so on the won hand climate change is kind of good for them because Uranium doesn't produce CO2 gasses that cause climate change, so one might expect both countries to jump on the issue.
But Australia does have a 'hole FUCKLOAD of brown coal' and big companies that already make money out of digging it up, and other companies that make money out of burning it. And a consumer market that is all like 'this is cheap' when they get their electricity bill.
Now these companies will be pissed off if their primary assett - the coal they haven't dug up yet - becomes worthless because human civilization selfishly desires not to die but wants to go on living into the future without any consideration for the future sustainability of the coal industry. The government was enjoying the praise it got internationally for its economic growth caused by selling more brown coal to China who don't give a shit about the environment ("hey lady China looks out for nobody but China").
So we might expect to find noise in Australia about 'making coal safe' that is simply not heard in other countries. Australian math dudes may calculate that there is a benifit in a hugely costly endeavor to invest in unproven technology over other viable alternatives in order to keep an industry going, that say Canadia might criticise or other countries for that matter, simply because they don't "depend" on a 'hole FUCKLOAD of noxious poisinous shit' and maybe if we point out that they keep an industry of killer asbestos propped up, they should back off and let us prop up our industry of planet killing coal.
But Canadia has a luxury in asbestos that Australia doesn't have with coal. You see asbestos has a tendancy to kill only people stupid enough to try and make money digging it up, and people stupid enough to buy it for buildings they need fireproofed or insulated. (and fireproofing a building with a substance that is going to kill everyone in the building for a prolonged time is pretty stupid).
But CO2 goes up into the atmosphere and kills EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. It will probably kill those pansy species butterflies first, then start drowning brown people on Pacific Islands second (but lets face it who ever cared about them) and then some south americans who rely on glaciers to get drinkable water but we barely care about them either and then EVERYONE EVERYWHERE.
You see two stupid people - people stupid enough to keep digging it up, and people stupid enough to buy it to burn for electricity, is enough in the case of Brown coal to kill everybody.
Or is it?

Time for lesson three, is there room for doubt about climate change.
Here is a basic drawing of what is called the 'earths atmosphere'
Fig 3.1 the earths atmosphere sort of

It's a big roundish cloud of air that has a certain quantity of air in it.
Then within the earths atmosphere is something pretty unique in our neck of the woods, it has a small arear called the biosphere.
Fig 3.2 atmosphere and biosphere sort of

Now looking at the biosphere its worth mentioning a small part of that biosphere can comprehend its own mortality, represented by the round smiling part in the diagram, the rest of it lives but isn't really conscious of the fact. It sort of relies on the round thing to keep it alive.
Now where do all the resources from lessons 1 + 2 fit in? well they are represented by most of the earth being minerals and material that isn't alive, solid matter and some liquids that we often draw upon for industry.
Fig 3.3 the atmosphere, the biosphere and pretty much all solid matter or "natural resources"
Now to oversimplify, we can use natural resources for industry, the drawback is by porducts and waste. This is the not-useful stuff and out-right dangerous stuff that gets produced when we produce non-dangerous-useful stuff. Now previously we pretty much thought that most of these by products go somewhere benign, out into space and we stop worrying about them, as represented in this diagram:
Fig 3.4 the skeptics view of how CO2 and the atmosphere interact

This view can be described as 'skeptic classic' or simply 'ignorance' as if you think about it we actually release these noxious gases not out of the atmosphere but inside the atmosphere, so what has actually been happening, and what these trouble making bulk of the scientific community keeps suggesting is that the world and industry actually work something more like this:
Fig 3.5 the byproduct goes into the atmosphere which the biosphere needs to keep on living

Now sceptics may argue that my diagram is not proportionally correct, that the number of particulates in the atmosphere is nowhere near as drastic a quantity as in my diagram which indeed would kill the biosphere in a matter of minutes rather than decades as a proper diagram would illustrate. But the principle is the same, you can't keep pumping CO2 into an enclosed space (the atmosphere) and expect the biosphere to keep on living. Yes eventually the gas will clear and the atmosphere will become habitable again, maybe from the slow buildup of bacterium that grows on the rotting corpse of the old biosphere, which in short means that there is hope for life on earth. The problem really is for that round bit of the biosphere up the top which can contemplate its own death, and we assume wants to keep on living, its limbs aswell will probably die too, but unfortunately while they die in a manner that is 'business as usual' for them blissfully unaware that death is a permanent state, conversely the round bit is the one that the scientific community thinks will be most dissapointed when it realises it inadvertantly killed itself, and also consciously failed to save itself.
So if you are still skeptical about climate change, I suggest recreating on a micro scale the basic science of it, by pumping your cars exhaust directly into the chasis of your car, after trapping yourself in there (because let's face it fleeing out into space isn't really a solution for us) if you don't have a car, buy a fish tank. Stick your head in it and burn some paper with the lid on to get a forecast of what happens when we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere.
But what does this have to do with $2 a litre?

The government and you. Suppose you were playing a game, called 'king of the castle' where you accrued certain priveledges and benefits from holding a certain place in the mini 'society' by being on top of say a big rock. The big rock represents 'society' all you have to do to be 'king' as is the object of the game is push people off the rock and retain your position on it.
I can't be bothered drawing a diagram for something so simple, but basically this is a version of the game known as 'king of the castle classic' nothing has really changed in terms of the object of the game, which is to retain power, and the fact that that power accrues benefits usually means you get a king strong in some criterion or other at the top.
At some point someone figured out though that while 'king classic' was enjoyable for the person on the top, everyone enjoyed it more if instead of simply holding the position of king by force, you were elected by the players in the game to be king, and accountable to them. So being king was marginably more enjoyable and it was pretty pleasent for other people too.
Basically the king becomes 'the government' so you could call the new modern version of the game 'the government of the castle' incidently this was a long hard development that came out of some pretty vicious infighting between kings and colonies and western civilization vs eastern world empires and schools of philosophy and lots of work.
It works basically by you the player, having a concept of what is good for you. aka what is in your best interests. And here is the whole flaw of the system - what is in your best interests?
Furthermore another flaw is that the king today is making decisions that will effect what is best for people that play the game tomorrow. So there is to flaws: here they are.
Flaw 1. You have to be not stupid enough to realise what actually ARE your best interests.
Flaw 2. Retention of power only relies on the votes of people playing the game right now, not the beneficieries (or victims) of the decisions the king is making RIGHT NOW. (The future doesn't get to vote)
$2 petrol has a little to do with both these flaws.
Flaw 1 - To understand why the government shouldn't and won't reduce the price of petrol you need to understand these basic concepts of economics that aren't actually complulsory for you to learn in school, the first thing is 'Supply and Demand' and nominally how they relate to price.
Fig 4.1 Supply and Demand curve

Now thankfully our government made mathematics compulsory up until 16, so most of you should be able to understand a basic graph. What it says, and economics basically believes is that at a certain price there will be a corresponding amount of demand. so at $1 people will demand $1 banana to be supplied. At the same price there will be a corresponding desire to supply, so at $1 a supplier will want to supply $1 banana.
This works as a model very well for a banana. Now suppose there is a high price on the market, then think about it, people will demand less banana's and seek other fruits and alternative snacks to spend their money on. Banana suppliers will want to sell as many of their bananas as they can while the price is so high, they will be literally going bananas.
If conversely the price is low then demand will be high, in this case people will be going bananas for bananas. But suppliers don't want to sell bananas at a low price, they have to work harder to supply these bananas that people want and end up earning less money.
The idea is that eventually the market has a bunch of exchanges where the suppliers hold back their bananas if the price is too low and the consumers stop buying bananas when the price goes too high until somewhere demand crosses supply and you achieve market equilibrium.
This works well with our goods we call commodities.
But what of other goods like coal, petrol, and asbestos.
Well asbestos we have established that in australia since we don't have much to sell, asbestos is bad and that governments that sell it are evil, like evil canadians who are hellbent on killing their own stupid customers.
What of the other two then? Well remember Australia's economy? the 'hole lot of resources'
Fig 1.0 revisited

Now what is this 'sustainability' that is cropping up everywhere? well you'll notice a new economic property unique to Australia's general stupidity - 'the bottom' you see if we dig up x amount this year and y amount next year such that y is greater than x, and z the following year is next year that even while GNP proudly proclaims to our governments patting on the back that our economy is growing, we are infact accellerating towards 'the bottom of our hole lotta resources' some people are studying this remarkably obvious fact in things called 'peak oil' one of the voices of reason represented on insight.
So you run out of coal, but since 'the king of the castle' retains power by people thinking that they are doing a good job looking after their best interests you can understand why the general education of the public has a tendancy to obscure these facts, particularly since the general form of education most often consumed by the public once they leave school comes from 'today tonight' and 'a current affair'.
I'm not here to explore the vested interests between media and government that might make their job easier by having a stupid public, but basically the new supply demand curve starts looking like this for coal and oil:
Fig 4.2 the suppy and demand curve for oil and coal

This one may be really complicated and is what people seem to have trouble understanding the most. So I will use CONDSCENDING capital letters. Okay in this case oil and coal are a finite amount we can dig out of a hole. Because the hole has a BOTTOM. This is what finite means, it is the difference between going to Subway and ordering a large drink with FREE REFILLS and ordering a medium drink which you can ONLY FILL UP ONCE.
This means suppliers can supply a maximum amount, or less. Demand though, people are free to demand as much as they please. This means you can go to Subway order a medium drink, drink it AND STILL FEEL THIRSTY EVEN THOUGH THERES NO MORE DRINK.
Now suppliers they own the oil, and they want to sell it, they really do, if demand is low few of them will want to sell it because the price is high. Demand may increase though because a bunch of people want the convenience of cars, and the price reaches equilibrium, this means People want $1 per litre worth of petrol and the suppliers want to sell it for $1 per litre. This is good for the suppliers because they are supplying exactly as much as they can produce. In effect there is EXACTLY ENOUGH OIL to meet the DEMANDS OF ALL CONSUMERS.
But suppose demand increases again? This would normally happen because the price had decreased, and consumers wanted to snap up a bargain. But in the case of oil, it is probably because people want more cars which NEED petrol which is a product from oil. But now the suppliers can't actually supply anymore because they are already supplying what they can, even though the price is increasing, they can only sell the same quantity "x" on the graph as before. Demand theoretically decreases because they can't afford petrol.
Yeah, right. This is what would happen in AFRICA and possibly CHINA and INDIA countries where the majority of the population has had to get by without cars for most of last century, they don't see cars as a necessity, they infact are demanding them chiefly as symbols of status and wealth that they have long associated with the WEST. To see that this is the case go to Bejing or Mumbai where cars are simply not practical at all thanks to shitty infrastructure.
The supply demand curve for Australian oil consumption looks remarkably similar to the supply demand curve for Heroin addict consumption. For simplicities sake I can also remove supply as it is largely irrelevant:
Fig 4.3: Addictive Demand behaviour

This is why I suspect those cursed OPEC nations are laughing at the plight of the Aussie battler, because to them we are SAD JUNKIES going 'man o man you gotta give me the goods man, I got bugs crawling under my skin' All credit to the OPEC nations, they seem to understand that we will buy at WHATEVER PRICE they set and will buy WHATEVER AMOUNT they choose to produce. They seem to comprehend that there 'hole lotta oil' is going to runnout someeday and they need to charge as MUCH AS POSSIBLE to be REPONSIBLE to their people as they invest that money in new economic engines such tourism and sustainable industries such as IT, Education and so fourth.
And here is where Australians should be reassured. Because we have a 'hoel FUCKLOAD of coal' and despite the climate change fiasco, we have the US on side (who also are the only military power that from time time force the OPEC nations to behave (that is behave to the US's benifit, this usually means that instead of OPEC trying to exploit the desperation of oil junkies, the US assumes the reins of exploiting the oil junkies)) and a willing customer in China who's 'king of the castle' is currently promising its population FABULOUS FANTASTICAL RICHES in order to hope that they don't wake up and notice how shit their 'king of the castle' is, realise they are responsible for most of their miserable life, realise that the 'king of the castle' is a minority within its own kingdom of China and do horrible things in retribution. So far this seems to be working, and as we know Coal is fixed in supply, we should be able to exploit China in order to grow up other industries to provide economic income for future australian's right? Wrong.
Our government is a democracy, that pats itself on the back whenever it gets a growth in GNP. Our aim is not to try and make as much money as possible, but to dig up and sell of as much of our natural resources as possible. We take the BULK BUY approach to Coal. That is the more China demands of our fixed asset, the cheaper we are willing to sell it.
If you are too stupid to realise then, that our best interest is to break our dependance on cars and oil and coal, then you would possibly vote for a government that was doing these stupid things, and making stupid promises.
So if by now, you don't understand that when you lobby to have the excise on petrol cut, because of the fixed supply of petrol and our addiction to it, that benifit will dissappear overnight, and the opportunity of the government to invest that in better transport alternatives, which stupid people are currently voting against. You may also think that all the profit from selling coal should be going to building alternative sources of energy, and alternative sources of revenue for the Australian economy so it can move from the 'hole lot of resources economy' to say a technological innovator like Japan was, and certain Scandinavian nations with the best living standards and happiest people in the world are.
But if you are too stupid to realise that, then what? then You think that what is in your best interests is a government that 'creates jobs' by investing in low tech, hole digging industries. You think that a government that 'protects jobs and industries' by subsidising uncompetitive indutries. You are porbably stupid enought o think that if the government stops taxing petrol, then petrol companies will pass the savings onto you the consumer. Maybe some, but they too know you're a junkie and probably wont. Price will continue to rise but at least there may be some benefit from consumer groups stopping bitching and whining about the petrol excise and start to address the problem - first call of action 'introduce a petrol excise to finance alternative transport and energy initiatives'
And what of Flaw 2. the future doesn't get a vote? here is probably a good place to lead in to this flaw neatly from flaw 1. You see we actually have TWO SETS of best interests, our short term interests, and our long term interests. A simple analaogy is sitting on a couch, in our long term interest it is better if at some point we get up and go for a jog, to make sure we are healthy and robust at some point in the future. In our short term interest it is much easier to continue sitting on the couch right now. Of course if we constantly use the short term thinking then at some point in the future, we will be UNABLE TO JOG JUST TO SAVE OURSELVES and die a fat lardass.
So now let's look at Economics, democracy favors short term thinking, if any given government with a 3 year window of opportunity wants to put into effect a plan that pays dividends in 15 years time, they have one may notice very little incentive to do that, because 1) it is rare for a government in Australia to be in power still in 15 years time and 2) they may get voted out in max 3 years time.
So better to see what voters care about right now and address those. Aka short term thinking, people have a tendancy to care about prices of goods, employment, housing, interest rates etc. some of these you can fix with long term plans, but if they fix these things really well in 15 years (through tax reforms, investment in sustainable industry, investment in education) then god forbid, the opposition may be in power then. So better off just to blow money on a bunch of publicity and feel good policy, support the crappy industries you already have rather than pissing off voters by getting rid of them and so fourth.
What's the deal? Well one, is that generally good changes take time, only bad change usually happens quickly. That is that your children may live in best case a world that is exactly the same as we live in now, or one much worse.
I would put my money on much worse though, because we have this nasty addiction on the one hand that are usually progressive in nature, and on the other hand we have an economic model based on accellerating towards the 'bottom of the hole lot a resources'.
Hmm the bottom, rock bottom...
What does that look like, when you run out of the stuff in the hole you depended on selling and can't afford what you need to keep going? Hey! remember brown people?
Fig 5.1 Famine "classic"

Upsetting? yes, well this is the fundamentally most stupid thing about Australians, Australian's do not seem to be that part of the biosphere that can comprehend its own death. This famine thing is what happens to people who are unable to pay or produce things that are valued by people with money. When Australia has no more coal, no more forest, no more rain on farmlands, no more minerals this 'famine' thing is one likely outcome for us. No doubt some of us will be smart enough to get jobs in other countries that value educated people instead of protecting industries that employ people who they don't train to have alternative means of generating income.
Some people already are going right now. You see, famine doesn't just happen to Brown people, it also can happen to white people. And as the Irish prove, white people don't necessarily look after their own.
So think about all this. Role it around in your head as many times as you need to.
Economics and government go hand in hand, and its a big game that if you make the wrong decisions at the wrong time, you can lose and lose bad.
Generally the wrong decision is looking after yourself to the exclusion of all others. We are in this together now. I am lucky, I am educated and ride a bicycle, I have done most of the hard work to survive in a world without petrol or low-skill jobs already, for me I have the luxurious position of being able to point and laugh at your stupidity right up until your stupidity kills us both.
If necessary, and I'm serious I WILL KILL YOU before your stupidity kills US BOTH. Fortunately I'm just waiting for you to come on board for the solutions that allow us BOTH TO SURVIVE.
Most probably, Neitherlands, Denmark, Germany and whatever other countries have started to take this climate change seriously form an aliance and proceed to kill you for being stupid and me for associating with you before your stupidity kills you, me and them.

In summary, learn what you are talking about before you start bitching and moaning about solutions.
Because the funny thing about all games is that reality has a tendancy to win in the end. If you don't believe me, try and keep sneaking free refills at Subway when you haven't paid for it.