Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

10-Apr-2014 Early to rise

Thursday 10 April 2014 Leave a comment

I was up early about 6am, went for a swim, did some chores (mainly washing up from last night), sorting the kids out as Dawn had gone to work early and I wanted to leave the place ship-shape before I left.

In the car I was listening to the 5am miracle podcast (I listen to a lot of different podcasts on a very wide range of subjects –  always wanting to learn and not my waste time). I actually have had a couple of days of going to bed before midnight and getting up at 6am and feel really good for it – and have been very productive. Maybe I should make a conscious effort to try at this “early to bed, early to rise” thing.

Interesting there was an article in the news paper on the same thing this week – Why getting up at 5am will make you happy !

It said:

If an early start has you rolling back under the duvet, forget about sleep deprivation and get out of bed – morning people are happier and more successful than night owls.
Laura Vanderkam, the US author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, says getting up early can hold the key to improving your health, career and personal life.
“Mornings are a great time for getting things done, particularly the personal priorities that life has a way of crowding out,” she says. “There’s some research finding that our supply of willpower is strongest in the morning (diets are broken at night, not at breakfast). Choosing to devote early morning hours to things that are important to us – exercise, strategic thinking, creative work, nurturing relationships – means you devote your most focused hours to these things, before other people’s priorities invade.”
It’s no coincidence that early risers have a reputation for being successful. “It is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people,” says Jennifer Cohen in Forbes. “Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5am; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, wakes at 4.30am just to name a few.”
But what if your natural state is to stay horizontal and hit the snooze button till the last possible moment?
Anyone can become a morning person says Zoë B, a Sydney-based life coach and author of the Simple Life Strategies blog. It’s just a case of redefining yourself. “If we keep telling ourselves that we’re not a morning person then guess what happens? We don’t get up early. This is a habit that we just need to snap out of. Anyone can become a morning person, it’s simply a matter of taking action.”
“People who get up early often report feelings of positivity and achievement that continue throughout the day” she says. “If we begin on a positive note, then this positive mood state is much more likely to continue as the day progresses.”
The evidence is not just anecdotal. Research at the University of Roehampton in Britain highlighted the benefits of getting up early. Dr Jürg Huber told the British Daily Telegraph: “There are morning people and evening people, and morning people tend to be healthier and happier as well as having lower body mass indices”.

Anyway I got to work well before 9am.

I left work really late as Jazmin took Dawn’s car from Sutherland and Dawn needed a lift home approx 9pm, and its a bit dumb me getting home for 20mins then driving out again so I just worked late. I walked to Town Hall inti e for my train and met Dawn on the platform so we could sit next to each other. It mean I didn’t get home until late, about 9.30pm which makes it hard to turn around again for the next day. Lucky the kids are older too and don’t need such close supervision !


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9-Apr-2014 Not sustainable

Wednesday 9 April 2014 Leave a comment

I saw this and thought it good:



4-Apr-2014 Friday night meditative

Friday 4 April 2014 Leave a comment

Previously on Friday nights I had been doing the Bikram Advanced Yoga classes but in recent months I have been too tired and have had enough of getting home after 10.30pm or later. So Friday night has been a night I get home at a fair time, maybe make the kids some dinner read a little. Have a bit of “quiet time”.

I would love to do some thing like Vipassna Mediation where you stay silent for 10 days. I have read quite a few articles about it, the most recent one just today. I would like to challenge myself and that would really be out of my zone!


15-Jan-2014 Gandhi Quote?

Wednesday 15 January 2014 Leave a comment

I saw this quote and liked it. Of course Gandhi probably didn’t even say it, but I have a weak spot for the guy anyway so don’t really care much.

Of course it’s easy to say something but a lot harder to actually do!


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9-Jan-2014 Society & Blame

Thursday 9 January 2014 Leave a comment

I saw this on a random blog somewhere, and it’s like exactly what I believe:

society and us - blaming

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13-Dec-2013 What it all means

Friday 13 December 2013 Leave a comment

I was up at 5.15am and went to Cronulla to swim with Stu & Steve again. Just perfect out swimming – weather was great – warm & sunny, sea was warm and clear. We swam from South Cronulla to North, then re-grouped then swam back the can at South before heading back in. Estimated water temp was 21-22C. Heaps of fit people running, swimming, boot-camping etc. Had a quick breakfast sitting in a cafe on a sunny corner in Cronulla. Everyone there had been doing sport of some kind, nice music playing – just feeling so lucky to be in a great place and be able to have these great experiences.

Whilst there I read this article in the Guardian – Let’s admit it: Britain is now a developing country

Elite economic debate boils down to this: a man in a tie stands at a dispatch box and reads out some numbers for the years ahead, along with a few micro-measures he’ll take to improve those projections. His opposite number scoffs at the forecasts and promises his tweaks would be far superior. For a few hours, perhaps even a couple of days, afterwards, commentators discuss What It All Means. Last Thursday’s autumn statement from George Osborne was merely the latest enactment of this twice-yearly ritual, and I bet you’ve already forgotten it.

Compare his forecasts and fossicking with our fundamental problems. Start with last week’s Pisa educational yardsticks, which show British teenagers trailing their Vietnamese counterparts at science, and behind the Macanese at maths. Or look at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness survey of 148 countries, which ranks British roads below Chile’s, and our ground-transport system worse than that of Barbados.

Whether Blair or Brown or Cameron, successive prime ministers and their chancellors pretend that progress is largely a matter of trims and tweaks – of capping business rates and funding the A14 to Felixstowe. Yet those Treasury supplementary tables and fan charts are no match for the mass of inconvenient facts provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the WEF or simply by going for a wander. Sift through the evidence and a different picture emerges: Britain’s economy is no longer zooming along unchallenged in the fast lane, but an increasingly clapped-out motor regularly overtaken by Asian Tigers such as South Korea and Taiwan.

Gender equality? The WEF ranks us behind Nicaragua and Lesotho. Investment by business? The Economist thinks we are struggling to keep up with Mali.

Let me put it more broadly, Britain is a rich country accruing many of the stereotypical bad habits of a developing country.

… and on it goes! …

Obviously to a large degree, it’s pretty similar in Australia although the mining boom has minimised some of the worst aspects.

However it struck me that I always gravitate to reading the Guardian and now with a digital radio in my car, listening to the BBC World Service. (I know that makes me sound like a middle-aged tragic!). Of course a lot of the music I still listen to is overwhelmingly English however looking around me at this cool little spot in Cronulla, there is just no way I’d want to be living in the UK.

So what does it all mean … I have no idea, just stumbling through life trying to do my best and to keep healthy and happy and keep enjoying it.

11-Dec-2013 Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out

Wednesday 11 December 2013 Leave a comment

I read this in the newspaper today : Buying more stuff is associated with depression, anxiety and broken relationships. It is socially destructive and self-destructive although as usual the comments are a great read too.

I so agree with it.

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.

The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl’s head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled on her vast bed. It’s captioned “shoppy shoppy” and “#goldrush”, but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.

Perhaps I’m projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research seems to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as “a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project“, is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.

There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.

In one study, the researchers tested a group of 18-year-olds, then re-tested them 12 years later. They were asked to rank the importance of different goals – jobs, money and status on one side, and self-acceptance, fellow feeling and belonging on the other. They were then given a standard diagnostic test to identify mental health problems. At the ages of both 18 and 30, materialistic people were more susceptible to disorders. But if in that period they became less materialistic, they became happier.

In another study, the psychologists followed Icelanders weathering their country’s economic collapse. Some people became more focused on materialism, in the hope of regaining lost ground. Others responded by becoming less interested in money and turning their attention to family and community life. The first group reported lower levels of wellbeing, the second group higher levels.

These studies, while suggestive, demonstrate only correlation. But the researchers then put a group of adolescents through a church programme designed to steer children away from spending and towards sharing and saving. The self-esteem of materialistic children on the programme rose significantly, while that of materialistic children in the control group fell. Those who had little interest in materialism before the programme experienced no change in self-esteem.

Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages that cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive and more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join in demanding social activities. The researchers point out that, as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.

third paper, published (paradoxically) in the Journal of Consumer Research, studied 2,500 people for six years. It found a two-way relationship between materialism and loneliness: materialism fosters social isolation; isolation fosters materialism. People who are cut off from others attach themselves to possessions. This attachment in turn crowds out social relationships.

The two varieties of materialism that have this effect – using possessions as a yardstick of success and seeking happiness through acquisition – are the varieties that seem to be on display on Rich Kids of Instagram. It was only after reading this paper that I understood why those photos distressed me: they look like a kind of social self-mutilation.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons an economic model based on perpetual growth continues on its own terms to succeed, though it may leave a trail of unpayable debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. Social atomisation may be the best sales strategy ever devised, and continuous marketing looks like an unbeatable programme for atomisation.

Materialism forces us into comparison with the possessions of others, a race both cruelly illustrated and crudely propelled by that toxic website. There is no end to it. If you have four Rolexes while another has five, you are a Rolex short of contentment. The material pursuit of self-esteem reduces your self-esteem.

I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life, and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.

This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that having more money and more stuff enhances our wellbeing, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness.

12-Nov-2013 Off work

Tuesday 12 November 2013 Leave a comment

Today I didn’t go to work as I was sick. I left work, or rather asked to leave work yesterday lunchtime as I was coughing and spluttering everywhere, so I cam home early and did a bit of work at home. I think it wasn’t so much them being worried about my health but not passing it round the office and see a general decline in output. Gotta keep an eye on the bottom line!

This morning I got up on time for work, but was probably worse than yesterday and to make it worse had a big headache so sent some txt to say I wasn’t going in and jumped back in to bed. I got up about lunchtime but didn’t do much as I was very lethargic. Had a few lemsips.

I did a bit of reading and in the late afternoon went for a walk along 3 of Bundeena’s 4 beaches – Hordern’s, Gunya & Jibbon. That was good but was very slow and just wandering along. It was good to get some clean air though.

One of things I like reading are other people’s blogs – you get raw info and it’s usually fairly short and snappy so you can follow lots of people. One of the best is Seth Godin that I have been following for years now. I read this today and it really struck me as important, and thankfully, I don’t live my life that way !

Thanks to technology, (relative) peace and historic levels of prosperity, we’ve turned our culture into a crystal palace, a gleaming edifice that needs to be perfected and polished more than it is appreciated.

We waste our days whining over slight imperfections (the nuts in first class aren’t warm, the subway isn’t cool enough, the vaccine leaves a bump on our arm for two hours) instead of seeing the modern miracles all around us. That last thing that went horribly wrong, that ruined everything, that led to a spat or tears or reciminations–if you put it on a t-shirt and wore it in public, how would it feel? “My iPhone died in the middle of the 8th inning because my wife didn’t charge it and I couldn’t take a picture of the home run from our box seats!”

Worse, we’re losing our ability to engage with situations that might not have outcomes shiny enough or risk-free enough to belong in the palace. By insulating ourselves from perceived risk, from people and places that might not like us, appreciate us or guarantee us a smooth ride, we spend our day in a prison we’ve built for ourself.

Shiny, but hardly nurturing.

So, we ban things from airplanes not because they are dangerous, but because they frighten us. We avoid writing, or sales calls, or inventing or performing or engaging not because we can’t do it, but because it might not work. We don’t interact with strange ideas, new cuisines or people who share different values because those interactions might make us uncomfortable…

Funny looking tomatoes, people who don’t look like us, interactions where we might not get a yes…

Growth is messy and dangerous. Life is messy and dangerous. When we insist on a guarantee, an ever-increasing standard in everything we measure and a Hollywood ending, we get none of those.

Went to bed early whilst Dawn was at yoga.

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30-Oct-2013 Xmas comes early!

Wednesday 30 October 2013 Leave a comment

All that’s wrong with our society – xmas decorations in Sydney’s QVB on 30th October AND piping “Noel” music. Unfortunately I get off the train each day at Town Hall station and walk through that very building twice a day, and I will now try to avoid the place!

Call my a grumpy old man or not, but surely it’s not Xmas until December and the QVB is not doing this to send tidings of goodwill and peace to all people but to flog more tat (refer – a British colloquial term for cheap and tasteless trinkets).

I posted this to facebook here.


5-Oct-2013 Creating Routines

Saturday 5 October 2013 Leave a comment

The update on my October challenge, (to do some exercise each morning before I go to work (during the week) or before I do anything else (at the weekend). What exercise or how much of it of course doesn’t really matter – it’s really about trying to kickstart the daily habit), is that Tues (first day of October and a day off work) was easy. Weds (at work), I was too tired and didn’t do anything !

Thursday I did get up at 0630am and went for a run (out the door by about 0645) the earliest quite some considerable time, but the run was very short and I was very stiff. Friday was better and I ran to Jibbon beach.

Saturday and Sunday were better, the run was about 50mins and the swim at Jibbon beach was about 10 mins. Jibbon is one of the cleanest waters in Sydney (the annual report of all beaches proves it) and I just love the deep and clean water.

I have loved the last few days and would like to do this ongoing. In fact I would be very happy to do this. IT’s clear I need a routine as per the old days when I used to run with Bruce at 6am each morning in Berowra. We used to smash out 90mins each morning – no wonder I got so fit.

As I am trying to get into the running habit and writing habit, it was great to read this article in the Guardian. It has some great tips and is endlessly fascinating (and just shows the great articles coming from that great media company).

30-Sept-2013 What I’ve learnt

Monday 30 September 2013 2 comments

When I woke up this morning I still felt shite and wondered whether to stay home sick or work from home, but decided to bash on anyway, after taking some hayfever meds. I worked at Kogarah and arrive approx 9.30am but left a bit early although my condition did improve a bit.

I went for a nice swim just before it got dark (approx 6.15pm now) and then a brief run.

I was ready an interesting blog from Sarah Wilson about “Build gaps in your life. pauses. proper pauses” which of course borrowed from an article about Thom Yorke from Radiohead who is an incredibly interesting person in how own right ie even discounting his vast musical talents.

I definitely find myself wanting to hit the pause button to actually take the time to enjoy stuff.

Like Thom I also do feel the pressure of time marching on”.

However when I got out of the sea after my swim this evening, and was towelling myself down, looking at the setting sun I reflected on what I have learnt : After more than 30 years of running, I know a lot about running (much more than many so-called professionals know), but since I have kicked off yoga, kayaking, surf lifesaving, crossfit, ocean swimming, I realise that each of these would require 20-30 years to master and there just isn’t the time! Let alone all the other activities I know absolutely nothing about. It’s so frustrating but resolved to ensure I don’t spend time on stuff I don’t care about.

It comes back to that old phrase I heard from Paul Weller (The Changing Man):

The more I see – the more I know
The more I know – the less I understand

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26-Sept-2013 The Tao of Pooh

Thursday 26 September 2013 Leave a comment


I love this cartoon. It reminds me of the book “The Tao of Pooh” that I read years ago. I don’t have a favourite day of the week, and it says to me that ANY DAY is a great day to do stuff, start stuff and enjoy things. Like live everyday as though it’s your last.

I got the idea for this post from this great article in the Elephant Journal.

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1-Sept-2013 Results of August Challenge

Sunday 1 September 2013 Leave a comment

During August I started doing a challenge – I mentioned it briefly here previously.

I am keeping a tick list for each day on the wall by my desk to track :

  • no packaged breakfast cereal (usually smoothie)
  • no chips (usually my post-yoga salty treat)
  • no chocolate (usually a nibble late at night)
  • no butter or yogurt (sometimes when snacking)
  • no bread or pasta (I used to have too much and felt bloated – prefer to cut down the bulk and go for better nutrient quality)
  • sport/sweat once a day (create a better DAILY habit)

Here are the results:

As you can see it was pretty successful. I specifically chose it to be HARD and so that I might even fail. I think on average I had one slip up a week.

In September I want to continue with another challenge – this time I will try and go 3 ocean swims a week, 3 runs a week, 3 yoga classes a week and 3 times at the gym a week !

26-Aug-2013 Monday Bit-ser

Monday 26 August 2013 Leave a comment

Before work it was the usual grind – get up, breakfast, sort kids, go to work.

After work, I went via Aldi in Engadine to get a new sim card for one of the kids, as Kogan had gone bust or more correctly Kogan’s upstream wholesaled ISPOne had gone bust and Kogan shut up shop.

Kogan = $25 a month (one a one yr plan) for unlimited calls, sms and 6Gb data per month.

Aldi=  $35 a month (one a one yr plan) for unlimited calls, sms and 5Gb data per month.

That’s progress in the lucky country !!

I figured Aldi was about the next best deal, let’s hope it doesn’t have more issues dealing with Telstra.

Then I met Dawn and we did some yoga. It was a packed room and I was squeezed in near the back. I had felt sore on my neck and arms and legs (what an old crock!) so definitely feel better now.

I read this on Fast Company, very good:

The one easy daily habit that makes life more awesome

Life happens whether we are mindful of it or not. So start a journal, remember the moments that you never want to forget, and improve, well, just about everything in the process.



21-Aug-2013 My challenge this month

Wednesday 21 August 2013 1 comment

For breakfast I had an almond milk with a banana and about 5 fresh strawberries blended to like a smoothie. The almond milk was made by soaking 30 raw almonds in a big glass of water for 24hrs. This way when I have it in the morning I can put a new batch on to soak for the next day. You would not believe how frothy and silky a drink it makes and it’s pretty filling too. Some mornings I gave dates and/or an expresso coffee or blueberries or raspberry etc.

This month I have set my myself a personal challenge and it’s not going too bad (I will post my full tracking sheet at the end of the month). I general I am pretty healthy and generally eat a vegan diet but I really want to get more hard core and not eat any processed foods and ensure I don’t pick at aynything I don’t really want, so I am keeping a tick list for each day on the wall by my desk to track :

  • no packaged breakfast cereal (hence the smoothie)
  • no chips (usually my post-yoga salty treat)
  • no chocolate (usually a nibble late at night)
  • no butter or yogurt (sometimes when snacking)
  • no bread or pasta (I used to have too much and felt bloated – prefer to cut down the bulk and go for better nutrient quality)
  • sport/sweat once a day (create a better DAILY habit)

Dawn left at 5am for work so I sorted the kids and then after work (at Kogarah all day today) I got home early-ish to cleanup and supervise etc.

I did manage to go for a short-ish run of 30mins thru the streets approx 8.30pm – it was very dark and very cold approx 7C. Very sore glutes right where they join my bum – this is definitely from the gym.

Jacket potato with our home-made homos and baked beans for tea.

Instead of watching tv we watched a couple of “live more” videos from the UK. They were really great and incredibly inspiring:

Woman who rowed the Atlantic

Debra Searle MBE is a professional adventurer, author, TV presenter and Director of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Debra is arguably best known for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. After her oarsman husband developed an uncontrollable fear of the ocean, Debra, a novice rower, continued alone and rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic. It should have taken them 6 weeks but Debra ended up spending 3 months at sea alone, encountering 30ft waves, sharks, and force 8 squalls in a 23ft plywood boat.

The exposure Debra gained from this one feat has enabled her to spend the past 10 years working as a professional adventurer. She has completed the longest canoe race in the world with Bruce Parry (of Tribe and Amazon fame), sailed around Antarctica, completed the grueling L’Etape du Tour cycle race in the Pyrenees Mountains and raced in the Monte Carlo Rally Historique. One recent adventure gained significant coverage when the now-Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, joined the Dragon Boat crew called The Sisterhood. Debra navigated the Sisterhood to a new Cross-Channel world record and raised £110,000 for charity.

Expect a truly inspiring and motivating experience as you listen to Debra Searle MBE

Guy who cycled around the world in 4 years – AWESOME!!

Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer, author and blogger. He has raced a yacht across the Atlantic, rowed the Channel, canoed 500 miles down the Yukon river, run the Marathon de Sables and is currently training for SOUTH, the first unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
Aged 24, Alastair left home to cycle around the world. His journey covered 46,000 miles and took more than four years to complete. Alastair tells the story of his global odyssey, revealing lessons learned along the way whilst challenging each of us to be bold enough to begin our own adventures.

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7-Jul-2013 bebo (blog early blog often)

Sunday 7 July 2013 Leave a comment

There was an article this week about the guy that originally built and sold the website for $850 million and then bought it back for $1 million. Lucky bugger !

I learnt that bebo stood for “blog early blog often“. I can’t tell you the number of times I have composed a blog in my mind but never written it down. I must try to practise blog early blog often myself more!

This weekend I saw all 3 kids;’ soccer games. Then Dawn went to work Saturday night and left me to coordinate a birthday party sleepover for 8 x 12 year olds and look after the 15 year old and 17 year old. Lucky me ….

The weather the past few weeks has been very cold, wet and dark. So much rain that the sea has been very dirty with run off soil etc. Although I went for a swim yesterday the first time for a couple of weeks. I won’t say it’s been depressing but I have only been inspired to run at the weekends. Getting up for work earlier and getting home later doesn’t help (yoga 2 nights a week then the films for change I have been seeing each week is another night out). Maybe that’s why I feel tired, rushed and uninspired.

I have been drinking a lot of this recently – 1cm concentrated apple juice (ingredients only apple) in a glass then half a squeezed lemon then boiling water. It’s sort of sweet & sour and hot – very nice. It seems you can only by the juice in Coles.


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17-Jun-2013 Train Trips

Monday 17 June 2013 Leave a comment

I travel on the train a lot. Mainly Sutherland to Town Hall, and to/from Kogarah a lot. Here are a couple of things worthy of attention, in my mind at least:

1) These days most people use laptops, tablets, smartphones and/or other devices to occupy themselves. However the vast majority are watching last night’s tv or playing solitaire or other mindless activities.  Do you really need a $600 ipad to do that instead of a $150 ipod touch ? It seems such a  waste. Even skimming work emails is a better use of time or dare I say it, get the Kindle app and read books. I was surprised that there are many “classic” books available at the Kindle Store for free. Amazing.

2) In the old days people used to read newspapers and we could pick up the SMH or Financial Review that was discarded for free. These days that free paper MX has totally killed the market, but its not even written by journalists – its just a bad cut and paste job from entertainment websites. Total trash and not worth reading. All in all a sad state of affairs.


13-Jun-2013 Geeks and Unions

Thursday 13 June 2013 Leave a comment

I found a text file on my pc called “geeks and unions.txt” and I was going to add it to my “jottings and other unordered notes” page. But I see I had already added it. I have no idea where it came from but probably on Slashdot.

The last thing we need is a union. Unions homogenize the workforce. You get x dollars per hour, no matter how good/terrible you are. What we need is performance-based pay, and no sane union would ask for that. Unions are the antithesis of geek demands. Unions demand uniformity in workplace conditions. Geeks demand flexibility. Unions demand standard pay scales. We like to see 15% pay increases. Unions cater to the average worker. Geeks despise mediocrity.

I loved that quote, and still do. I think the only time I was in a union was when I was a student at Uni, and it was mandatory (!) An interesting story in that the government at the time (Thatcher) tried to make the compulsory joining of unions illegal and subsequent forcing people to pay union fees eg the situation we were in at Uni. The Sudent Union officers whose fees are paid by my fees, realised this so organised a demo which myself and my housemates went to. I can’t remember where it was – but somewhere in Southampton in Southern England. It was my first demonstration I went to, but we cleared off when the cops arrived. Can’t remember what happened to the rule/law etc.

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11-May-2013 Good news ! Human Development Report

Saturday 11 May 2013 Leave a comment

I have always been a voracious reader. of all things but in particular the news and in particular world news.

Well today in a very rare occasion indeed, I actually read some good news!

Don’t get me wrong, the world is still a big  ‘ole place with lots of bad stuff occurring daily, but lets celebrate some some improvements.

for all the seemingly bad news around the world, we are actually living in a golden age of global development. Today, millions of people around the world are living longer, healthier, freer, safer and more prosperous lives than ever before in human history – and we have the data to prove it.

Earlier this month, to little fanfare, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released its annual Human Development Report (HDR)and the results are both surprising and encouraging. According to the UNDP, over the past decade not some but, in fact, “all countries” have “accelerated their achievements” in education, health, and income. Not a single country for which data was available scored lower on the UNDP’s human development index than they had 12 years earlier.

According to the HDR, these improvements are disproportionately happening in the global south, “home to the vast majority of the world’s people” – most of whom are on the lower end of the income spectrum. Middle-range countries like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey have seen some of the most rapid advances. But significant progress is also occurring in places like Bangladesh, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.

In fact, according to the HDR, the combined economic output of the developing world’s three largest economies (Brazil, China and India) will, by the end of decade, match that of the Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States. The good news from the UNDP matches reams of existing data on the extraordinary advances in human progress that have been made in the past two decades.

For example, violent conflicts are on the decline and freedom (in the form of electoral democracies) is on the march. Indeed, inter-state war has largely disappeared from the global system; and when conflicts do occur,they tend to be far less violent.

In addition, there were just under 70 electoral democracies at the end of the cold war. Today, there are 117 (pdf).

But as the HDR makes clear, the advance on public health, poverty reduction and social progress are, in some respects, even more impressive.

Thirty years ago, half the people living in the developing world survived on less than $1.25 a day; today, that proportion is about one-sixth – and the average worldwide income is around $10,000, a significant increase from just a decade ago.

That means more and more people around the world are entering the middle class. In fact, according to the HDR, there will by the end of the decade be approximately 3.25 billion members of the middle class, a dramatic leap from the 1.8 billion of just 4 years ago.

More people around the world can read and write; more go to school, more attend college and more women are getting an education than ever before. The latter point is of critical importance because we know that female education is one of the single most important development tools and actually more critical to child survival than either household income or wealth.

Speaking of child survival, child mortality rate continue to decline thanks to expanded access to healthcare, proper sanitation, and vaccinations. In 1970, the global child mortality rate (deaths of children under five per 1,000) was 141; in 2010, it was 57. From 2000 to 2008 alone, mortality rates among children fell by 17%. And when those kids grow up, they are living longer and healthier lives. Since 1970, the average person is living 11 years longer, to the ripe age of 70. Americans are doing even better, living close to 80 years.

These numbers are the result, in part, of extraordinary advances in public health. Aids-related deaths, while still too high, have dramatically declined. Tuberculosis is finally on the decline; so, too, are mortality rates due to malaria, which have dropped by 25% since 2000.

All of this good news hasn’t happened by accident. As the HDR makes clear (pdf), they are the direct result of governmental policies on economic, trade and public investment, including a particular focus on investments in health and education. To the latter point, one of the more telling findings of the report (pdf) is a side-by-side comparison between South Korea and India in regard to education policies. In South Korea, young women are among the best-educated women in the world, which will result in both a healthier and smaller population (since better-educated women tend to have fewer children). In India, a less broad-based commitment to education means the country’s population will continue to grow, curtailing what should be even higher levels of economic growth and productivity.

In addition, countries that have succeeded the best are ones that have focused on tapping into global markets, maintaining robust trade policies and even enhancing internet usage. In short, success is not the result of “cutting taxes for job creators”, or enacting austerity policies, but rather consistent and deliberate government interventions.

More here from the Guardian.

7-May-2013 I like writing!

Tuesday 7 May 2013 Leave a comment

It feels weird to say it, but I quite like writing. I don’t think I am really that good at it, and I am writing this blog for my kids, or grandkids, or myself so it doesn’t even matter if its good writing or not, but I quite enjoy it.

The more I write the more I like it (yep – exactly how it is with running and even yoga, maybe …).

This article has a few good comments and as always is better put than my own efforts

  • Writing helps you reflect on your life and changes you’re making. This is incredibly valuable, as often we do things without realizing why, or what effects these things are having on us.

  • Writing clarifies your thinking. Thoughts and feelings are nebulous happenings in our mind holes, but writing forces us to crystalize those thoughts and put them in a logical order.

  • Writing daily forces you to come up with new ideas regularly, and so that forces you to solve the very important problem of where to get ideas. What’s the answer to that problem? Ideas are everywhere! In the people you talk to, in your life experiments, in things you read online, in new ventures and magazines and films and music and novels. But when you write regularly, your eyes are open to these ideas

When I was in Dhaka I read a magazine called “Kinfolk” and took a photo of this quote which I quite like and it’s sort of relvant to this post:

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