Home > 2005


Harry Potter and the perfect number

Monday, July 25, 2005 0

There is one point in the latest book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the half Blood Prince, that we discover that seven is a very magical and perfect number in the wizarding world. No wonder J.K. Rowling left half of the story out of the latest edition for it to be completed in the final seventh book.

Don't misunderstand me, I enjoyed reading the book; once I waited for my eager 10 year old to complete it first. However I really did feel, more than any of the other books, that this book had two purposes, the greater of which was the setting up of the final chapter in this epic adventure, book number seven.

I look forward to the next installment where the story will hopefully come to a conclusion if not end.

Dipping your toe in the pond of podcasting

Thursday, July 21, 2005 0

The ABC are starting to podcast quite a few of the their programs which I listen to which is just great. At the same time Apple have support for podcasts in the iTunes product. Certainly a way to soak up some of the unused bandwidth on the broadband plan.

I wonder if any of the Churches who put their sermon series online as MP3s are going to add the extra bit of glue to put them up as podcasts. That would mean you don't have to go to the site to see when the new one is up. One day ... one day ....

I will survive

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 0

Well today I got my copy of "The Synod Survival Guide" by Robert Tong at my ACL information night. Now I am all ready for the 1st ordinary session of the 47th Synod of the Sydney Diocese of the Sydney Anglican Church.

Okay so I am not quite ready yet; after all its a while away and I don't know much about the business that will be at hand. However at least do know something about how it works and what happens.

I will post updates and information as I stumble accross anything of interest along the way.

For the love of Money!

Saturday, July 16, 2005 0

An interesting article in the SMH by Ross Gittins on our societies love of money.


It’s all about balance in life, not payments
July 13, 2005

There is a case for change regarding annual leave; the rule should be use it or lose it, writes Ross Gittins.

It’s not hard to look at the news and decide the Americans are in the process of really stuffing up their society. Nor is it hard to conclude that where the Yanks go, we follow. What’s hard is to work out what it is we’re doing that’s making our community increasingly dysfunctional.
I suspect it may be a lot of little things, each of which doesn’t seem too terrible, with the cumulative effect escaping our notice. I think we caught a fleeting glimpse of one of them in last week’s contretemps over giving workers the right to cash in half their annual leave.

Forget the fact that, as the Howard Government and the employers were quick to point out, Labor and the unions had been party to similar deals. That just proves most of us are guilty of putting too much emphasis on work at the expense of leisure and, in consequence, family life. Of failing to achieve a sensible balance in our lives.

Think about paid annual leave. It’s an expense governments have forced on employers, starting with one week in 1941 and reaching four weeks in 1973.

With what justification? It’s obvious. People with full-time jobs need a decent break for rest and (literally) re-creation. Those with intellectually or emotionally demanding jobs need it, but so do people with jobs that are physically demanding. We also need time for extended, relaxed interaction with our children during school holidays.

If the justification for this imposition on employers hasn’t diminished - and I’d say that, with the intensification of work and the quickening pace of life, it’s actually increased - where on earth is the justification for letting people take the money, not the leave?

To say, as some politicians and employer groups do, that it makes the labour market more “flexible” and gives workers greater “choice” is to reveal that your values are out of whack.

What it says is that, as a society, we’re putting ever more emphasis on production and consumption, and ever less on leisure and wellbeing.

Why would employers be happy to see workers taking money rather than leave? To maintain production. Why would workers want to take the money? To spend it on additional consumption - or pay off debts from previous consumption.

Of course, a factor contributing to the temptation is that many workers have accrued large amounts of leave. According to a Newspoll survey commissioned by the Australia Institute in 2002, 57 per cent of full-time workers said they’d taken less than all their leave that year.

Of these, 39 per cent said they were saving their entitlement for a future holiday (don’t believe it), while 42 per cent said they couldn’t get time off work and 11 per cent said they enjoyed work or money more than time off.

I’d say that if any further government intervention is called for, it should be a new condition: use it or lose it.

In theory, the economists’ standard model puts a lot of emphasis on the value of leisure. In practice, it’s always being overlooked, partly because of the economists’, politicians’ and businesspeople’s mania for judging progress solely in terms of the growth in gross domestic product - for putting production and consumption ahead of wellbeing.

Remember how, in the 1970s, people used to foresee enormous reductions in working hours and wonder how on earth we were going to occupy all that leisure time?

What a joke when you consider how much longer and harder so many of us work these days. Whatever happened to that crazy idea?

I’ll tell you. We could have significantly reduced working hours - we had the improvement in the productivity of labour to allow us to afford it - but we chose not to.

I’ve no doubt that many production-obsessed bosses are happy with the way it’s gone: everyone - well, most of us - working longer and harder for real wages that are very much higher than they were 30 years ago.

But equally, I’ve no doubt that, had most workers preferred shorter hours to higher real wages - more buying power - that’s the way it would have gone. We opted for the money, not the leisure.

Why? Because - with a fair bit of help from all the advertising and marketing to which we’re subjected - we’ve acquired an addiction to material goods.

Much of this involves our self-defeating struggle to achieve social status - or at least avoid losing it - through our conspicuous consumption. Psychological research shows that we’re not as rivalrous about the holidays we take as we are about our clothes, cars, homes and children’s schools.

In consequence, we “consume” too little leisure for our own good.

As part of this, we’ve come increasingly to think of leisure as something you buy rather than something you have or do. Partly because we’re so busy and partly because leisure equipment - from boats to the latest electronic doodad - can be used to display our status, leisure has become more capital-intensive and less labour-intensive.

Music-making is something you do with a stereo, a walkman, a CD player or an iPod, it’s not a noise you make yourself with your friends. Sport is something you watch on your home theatre, not something you play.

The latest gear is so expensive that we work - give up leisure - to buy the leisure equipment we don’t have the leisure to enjoy. I noted an economist quoting as a laudable example of increased choice the worker who cashed in his annual leave so he could buy a plasma TV.

Capital-intensive leisure tends to be more solitary - watching TV, playing computer games or surfing the net - whereas labour-intensive leisure tends to involve more interaction with family and friends.

It also tends to be more passive, adding to the community’s growing problems with obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Our politicians, economists and businesspeople have yet to learn that what we need in our lives is not more money, but more balance.

21 today

Saturday, February 12, 2005 0

I am not one for finishing things. It drives my wife a little spare but I think she knows I always have good intentions. I am okay at work, its just around home that it mainly occurs.

Knowing this my mind was drawn to that well worn phrase about habits taking 21 days to form. But I wondered if this was just a myth or something real.

A quick search on the Internet revealed many statements very close to the following.

Research shows that in order for any behavior or action to become automatic or routine, it must be done daily over a period of twenty-one consecutive days.
However for all of the articles, stories and anicodotes which made this claim not a single one gave reference to that Research. I think they are just all making it up! Maybe making this claim is just a habit which people can't break.

That Book

Wednesday, February 09, 2005 0

Yes, it seems that the book of the moment is Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'.

I have not read it yet, I have way to many other books sitting on my stack of books to start reading. However I want to get to it soon as so many people I meet seem to have read it.

The strange thing is the impact this book has on many people. For some its quite a revelation. However this may be a book that has gone the way of Internet information; so check your facts before you believe everything you read. After all the book is found in the fiction section.

It surprises people that when they look up some of the simple elements of the story which you can verify, that there is some poetic license in use, such as the painting of the last supper. In this light, a lot of the other theories that the book puts forward look even more like mere theories rather than fact.

An interesting response to some of the claims about scripture in the book can be found in this article by Chadd Hafer.

Maybe I will get to the book soon and I can have something I can comment on from first hand experience. Until then I will have to leave it up to others.

1 year in the wilderness.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005 0

Well after a year in the wilderness there is another post! Will it be another year before the next one? Will there be a barren landscape for another 12 months. Watch this space.

Powered by Blogger.