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Jul 2010

More reflections on our broken society

The current Federal Election campaign has cause me much grief. It seems to me that many candidates, particularly the party leaders, are pursuing ad hominem arguments rather than telling us explicitly what their policies will be.

AdHominem = "An argument arising from or appealing to the emotions and not reason or logic; that is attacking an opponent’s motives or character rather than the policy or position they maintain [OED]"

I was impressed when my daughter told us that her 13 year old son, Ross, asked her while they were watching a television broadcast of candidates who were making ad hominem comments about their opponents " Why are they allowed to say such things about of each other".

Unfortunately the press is also largely into the ad hominem stuff with most reports being about largely unsubstantiated comments about the past behaviour of candidates opponents.

My grief stems from a view that our democracy is badly broken. It seems to me that the party the will be elected will have done so by winning the support of people who are more interested in this kind of personal stuff than in the actual policies which will determine the future of the society.

We are lucky to live in an electorate which is currently represented by independent politicians in both State and Federal Parliaments. These two representative have much respect from their constituencies because they take great care to find out what we want and what is causing us grief. They are the most admirable representatives I have every lived under.

Posted: 31/7/10 12:54 PM

It's raining again in Barraba

photo of the rainbow

We have had a few days of sunny weather but today it has rained a lot all day. As the sun was heading for sunset we saw a wonderful double rainbow over the houses opposite.

The rain has held up the building work on the new deck but it has topped up the rain water tank which is good.

Both the lawns and the back paddock are looking very green.

Posted: 28/7/10 4:47 PM

The New Deck out the back of the house is coming on wonderfully

The construction of our new deck outside the Kitchen and up against the wall of the Dining Room and the Library has started and is making good progress.

The floor of the deck is now complete and it is just wonderful to stand on it and reflect on what it will be like when it is finished. We are all looking forward to having somewhere nice to sit out in the fresh air when the weather is OK. Sarah has asked for morning of afternoon tea one day next weekend. That will be OK as long as the varnish on the floorboards has dried completely. We are looking around, particularly in Tamworth, for some suitable outdoor furniture which will make it a good place to have happy hour.

Bruce who is doing the building is doing a marvellous job despite suffering from flu like symptoms and for whom the weather has been pretty awful. I keep exhorting him to look after himself and the weather has this week improved quite a bit with some beautifully sunny days so he is getting on OK.

Posted: 22/7/10 4:13 PM

Review of my views on the GFC

I was pleased to read that the Obama Administration has convinced the Congress to pass a law that will put in place some necessary regulation of the financial industry.

I have always thought that there is generally a benefit arising from regulation as free choice can easily give rise to selfish behaviour which can give rise to harm to others.

My favourite example is the speed limits on public roads. There are many examples in the news today of people who ignore the speed limit and kill themselves and/or others in crashes. As you are probably aware, I believe that the 21st century is characterised by increasing ignoring or regulation and of moral strictures.

The implementation of regulation of the financial industry supports my view that humanity will overcome the problems which plague our society.

Posted: 19/7/10 9:07 AM

My Engineering Experience Failed Me.

This morning Jean found that the hot water was not running at its normal rate and she said that the washing machine was having some effect. I said "that can't be true because the washing machine uses town water and the hot water system uses tank water and these two supplies are not connected"

I went outside to check the hot water heater and found nothing that I could identify as the cause of the problem. Later on the problem disappeared and Jean had her shower without any difficulty.

Later I was reloading the washing machine and noticed that the hot water was selected. I had used hot water yesterday because I was washing some dirty towels. I had failed to reset the machine to cold which would have returned it to town water, I did realise that the problem was caused by this failure to reset the washing machine controls but I couldn't work out why I had not got to this diagnosis in my head even though Jean had prompted this diagnosis. Clearly my minor memory problems (sometimes I forget stuff and remember it a short time later) had caused my engineer brain to fail briefly.

Posted: 17/7/10 8:28 PM

Volunteer Management Training

Today I registered for a Community College training course called "Volunteer Management and Fund Raising Course".

I was attracted by the subject because I have always had a problem with some of the volunteer managers I have had to deal with.

When we were traveling we listened to the radio most days when we were on the road and heard some very interesting stuff. One interesting piece was about managing volunteers and the presenter made the point that lots of volunteer groups were badly managed because their supervisors treated them like employees and didn't understand that volunteers have a choice to leave the job without any reduction in income.

When I started volunteering in Barraba I came across several situations where the bad management of volunteers was evident.

I hope the course I am going to helps to improve the management of volunteers in Barraba. One of the things people here agree on is that the town depends very much on its volunteers so it is important that they are well managed.

I hope that the course will give me some clues on how to recruit volunteers to Towards Transition Barraba because we are not making as much progress as wee need to to achieve a good Energy Descent Action Plan.

Posted: 15/7/10 4:47 PM

Another Example of the 21st Century

I read in the SanFrancisco Chronicle this morning a story about a riot in Oakland.

The story says that the rioters were protesting after a court found a policeman or security guard guilty of manslaughter after he had shot an criminal who was escaping from the scene of his crime on a train, The man accidentally pulled his gun instead of his taser from his holster and shot the man dead. He had admitted that the incident was a mistake on his part and the jury apparently decided that he was guilty.

The rioters were seen to be holding posters which said "Kill all the police" and they caused a huge amount of damage to shops on the area of the riot.

Clearly the morals of the rioters were in line with my 21st Century world view as they thought it OK to commit lots of crimes themselves to protest against the action of a man who had admitted to his mistake and targeted many people who were not involved in the original incident including many shop owners and all the other policemen.

Posted: 11/7/10 9:18 AM

More 21st Century Reflections

I touched on another piece in Slashdot that supports my world view.

"It turns out recording your drugged child pays pretty well. 7-year-old David DeVore became an overnight sensation when his father posted a video of his ramblings after dental surgery. To date that video has made the DeVore family around $150,000. Most of the money came from YouTube, but the family has made $50k from licensing and merchandise. From the article: "The one seemingly minor decision to make the video available all over the Internet set off a whirlwind of changes for the DeVore family. Within just four days, 'David After Dentist' received 3 million views on YouTube and the younger David quickly became an Internet celebrity. His father quit his job in residential real estate (did we mention they live in Florida?), and the family started selling T-shirts featuring cartoon drawings of their son post-dental surgery."

Why am I disturbed by this story. It illustrates the absolutely insane distortion of the $value of stuff. This YouTube story probably took the author about one hour to prepare and publish. The fact that it made him $100,000 results in value of $100,000/manhour. Compare this with what people get paid for mining, manufacturing, or farming work and you get a horrible factor of more than 10,000 time for a hour of a very minor piece of work compared with an hour of real work. It seems to me that modern society values some things very much more than real things and see that as part of the ongoing Global Financial Crisis.

I was horrified to read that the G20 conference has delegated all the work to manage the world economy to the IMF. Given the history of the IMF which participated in the lack of protection against the GFC and is now pushing neo-con economist solutions to the state of the world economy which will probably result in major harm to lots of people in the world who will suffer form incredible unemployment.

For some academic support for my views on these issues refer to Bill Mitchell's blog at bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/.

Posted: 2/7/10 10:26 AM
Revised: 20/7/10 1:39 PM


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