Friday, 31 October 2014

Equality; musings from a different angle.

Greetings Reader!

Today I've been giving some thoughts about equality, not what we should have but how it would work for you if you actually weren't equal. This isn't one of those spiels about putting yourself in the shoes of the less fortunate because I know none of us need to hear more about that than we already have. I mean if one more person approaches me on the street asking me to consider how tigers feel when being poached I might just become a tiger poacher myself.

What I have been considering today is how it feels to be considered above other people. Now our first thoughts probably go straight to people like Oprah, Beyonce, The Queen of England or maybe if you are a little more scientifically minded someone like Steven Hawking (debilitating illnesses aside). The life of someone "better" than others can certainly be glamorous and include delights such as fantastic wealth, the attention and admiration of the masses or if it's your thing the limitless access to sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. But for now let's take a step back and consider the position of a regular person like you or I who might suddenly find themselves elevated above their station. Let's say you won the lottery and you just realised you don't have to eat cat food anymore because you can go out to a fancy restaurant or hell you could pay a chef to come to your house. But after that great meal and perhaps a couple bottles of Don Perignon what's next? How will your friends and family react? Will they treat you any differently?

I'm quite certain for most of us there will be drastic changes in our relationships with friends and family. For starters most people will want to enjoy their new wealth and it's natural to want to do so with those closest to you but those regular plebs can't afford the lavish holidays or affluent lifestyle you will quickly come to love. Your option? Forget them or pay for them. You now have expectations on you that you never had before. You must assist those closest to you financially if you would like to include them in your trips to the private golf club or on a quick jaunt to your private island. But that isn't the only expectation you will find shackling your wings of money. Those around you will probably start to consider you a fallback in case anything bad happens to them: medical bills and other dire financial events. You have suddenly taken on responsibility for them. Some might welcome this responsibility but whether you want it or not it is still there without any acceptance.

This doesn't just apply to financial aspects of life either. If you are born with an abundance of brains you will find constant pressure to perform and excel in certain ways, if you are born fast or strong people will expect you to perform in sports and athletics, if you are born a woman you may find many people expect you to have children or if you are born a man people will expect you to keep your emotions locked inside. Does this seem right to you?

It seems to me before we can reach true equality we need to learn how to stop expecting things from each other.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Some Thoughts About Legislation of Clothing

Hello Reader,

Sorry it's been so long since my last thoughts.

Over the last few days I've been reading many articles and opinions about a certain senator's proposal for control of the burqa in Australia and possible penalties for wearing the burqa in certain places or for parents forcing their children to wear the burqa against their will.

I'm sure we have all heard of the Separation of Church and State but for those of us who need a refresher it's pretty self explanatory. People weren't happy with the idea of certain churches pulling the strings of government when their objectives don't necessarily match the objectives of the nation and it causes unequal representation of members of that church while members of other churches (or no church at all) are left out in the cold.

Now separating government from religion has been a mostly positive thing and greatly encourages religious equality. This principal can be extended to cultural identities as well as religious such as in the case of the burqa. Indeed Australia has long boasted of it's  multi-cultural population and it's acceptance of all people but now it seems we were just fibbing and it was more a case of "we welcome all cultures as long as we like them and are allowed to tweak them to suit us".

It seems to me a lot of people have forgotten that separating the state from your religion or culture is a two-way street. If you don't want religion having a hand in your politics you can't want your politics having its hand in religion. If government introduces legislation dictating what people can and cant wear or how parents may dress their children a dangerous precedent is set.

Even if we consider it in an economic sense it seems a terrible idea. Legislation costs money in having teams of people drafting and amending the bill before it is passed, paying all our hard-working federal representatives to review it and vote on it then the cost of trying to have our police officers enforce this ridiculous premise of determining whether a parent is forcing their child to wear something or not. I certainly don't want to pay for all of that even if there were value in disallowing people from wearing certain things.

Maybe we will find our way back to a true path of multiculturalism and forget about trying to change people to suit us.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Some thoughts About Male Gatherings

Hello Reader,

Lately I've been thinking about male social groups. We all have the guys we get together with for a round at the pub, a round of golf, a few games of laser tag or whatever else your pleasure might happen to be. Some of us also have groups of a more serious nature like alcoholic's anonymous (and all the other anonymous groups), church groups, Men's Shed groups and so on and so forth. Most of the latter tend to have a specific undertone to them like encouraging a particular religion or being court ordered, etc.

I must say though everything I've read and seen about Men's Sheds is very encouraging and I really like what they are doing. However many men aren't the sort to enjoy going to a shed and the associated activities. I know Men's Sheds do more than just building bird-houses and spice racks but at the conceptual level many younger men aren't like those of 40 years ago when more men were expected to work with their hands and know how to build things. These days many of us men, especial in metropolitan areas, prefer more cerebral pursuits.

So what form could a constructive group take to help men come together, have a good time and work through some of the many issues surrounding man's lives these days. I imagine a group, let's tentatively call it "The Gentry", where men can gather and discuss things that have been going on in their lives or that are coming up and how they can best handle them in a classy and rational way. Despite the title it would be informal but the purpose would be to help men be the best men that they can be. We all make mistakes and I can't speak for all men but I know I have carried (and still carry) many of the things I've done wrong for years, even decades. It's hard to let them go and for the most part I've carried them alone. Therapy or psychiatric help can resolve some of them but in my experience these things don't often give you any closure on an issue. A group like this would have been of great help to me and I suspect would be of help to many others.

L James.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Online Piracy Statistics, Is Money Really Being Lost?

I read a lot of articles about piracy of film, television and music.

Most of these articles seem to fall into one of two categories: Either they are presenting the argument of the victimised producers and distributors of material and how much money they are losing or they are focusing on why we, the consumers, shouldn't be pirating.

Good articles of course quote statistics and surveys that have been conducted to show how many people are pirating and how much lost revenue that equates to but this seems an incomplete statistic to me. Yes many people might be pirating but does every single pirate of a film equal one lost ticket or DVD sale? I would like to see some information about how many of those pirates would have purchased the film, album or TV series if there were no other option except to pirate it.

I'm would also predict that certain films are more prone to piracy than others. For example a trashy action film might not be worth the $12-40 you might spend seeing it in the cinema or buying the bluray but may still want to see it. Are these people lost revenue if they never would have paid for it anyway?

The film, TV and music industry all feature groups kicking and screaming about lost money but perhaps they just need to recognise that if people aren't willing to pay for the products you are selling that doesn't make your customers criminals, it's an opportunity to do something better.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

3D Printing In Australia

It seems every day I look in the news and see bleak outlooks on the Australian market. Coal is down, Iron is down, the financial sector is down and even the IMF (International Monetary Fund for those of you who don't follow economics) has announced some rather dire warnings about the future of the Australian economy.

I've read many comments by journalists and the general public about how the Australian manufacturing industry has been left to wither and die due to a lack of support in the wake of the brilliant mining boom that has pushed our economy to dizzying heights. There is some hope though as it seems apparent our reliance on two of our major exports, iron and coal, will be unable to sustain our newly heightened wealth means we must start looking at other ways of paying our bills and keeping our swimming pools filled with gold-plated water. Manufacturing, the transformation of commodities into simple transformed manufactures or (dare Australia dream) of extreme transformed manufactures. Value adding to the things we already have in abundance before we sell them off.

Perhaps fortunately at this time there is a budding interest in a somewhat unknown process called 3D printing. It's advocates (me included) consider it a potential golden age for manufacturing, allowing construction of any object you might want from a plastic fork to a new house. This marvel of engineering and technology has the potential to do for manufacturing today what the moving assembly line did for it in the early 1900s. In fact given that 3D printers remove the labor component of manufacturing almost entirely (aside from a few technicians required to maintain the machines) it may be something Australia wants to consider more closely.

Manufacturing has very noticeably shifted from Australia and other western nations to places like China and India. This isn't because Australian's have anything against manufacturing but because employing a few thousand people to assemble sneakers is a whole lot cheaper in India than it is in Australia because labor is so much cheaper. Many businesses who have attempted to keep their workforces in Australia or the USA have found themselves uncompetitive and have been forced to outsource or fall behind and die.

So for lower populations like Australia what does 3D printing mean for us? It's an opportunity to take advantage of our advanced infrastructure and resources without being hampered by our extremely low population. In most other industries our low population and very high wage costs are a huge challenge for would-be businesses to overcome before they can start seeing black at the end of the day. 3D printing is a convenient and seemingly perfect solution for Australia.

But how can we take advantage of this? The same way any country does when they want to encourage an industry; tax relief to assist new companies with starting up and strengthening so that when it is time for them to give back they are in a position to do so in a meaningful way. It would not cost anyone anything to allow them a few years grace (personally I'd like to see a 5 year tax exemption then a gradual increase in the tax they pay over the following 5 years until they pay full taxes only after the 10th year) to really start a strong 3D printing industry in Australia. The chances of this however are so slim that I don't really believe anything like this will happen. Perhaps someday we will be more open to long term industry planning like this.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Thoughts about Marriage

Hello Reader.

For anyone who is interested I have completed a draft of a paper about marriage and relationships. This is a less formal work than my thoughts about voting and is still in a draft stage so feel free to provide any feedback, questions, comments or concerns you might have.


L J.

A Few More Thoughts


It's been a little while since my last post but I've been working on a couple new papers. These are specifically about the patent system and marriage. I will post them as they become available.