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My Legacy

Tidbits of philosophy, humour and life. No set interval. Just depends on when I have something to post and the time to do it.

INDEX OF TOPICS in reverse chronological order of the date posted

My Health and Retirement

Non-Binary, He-She, They-Them

Adsafe - Protecting Children in Our Church

Words of Wisdom about Life

Sexual Assault in Australia - My Viewpoint

Spirituality and God

Over-Servicing

The Devil's Dictionary - Ambrose Bierce

The Six Traps Robbing You of Spare Time

Flying during Covid-19

Diet and Energy Density of Foods

Economics and the Environment

Freedom of Speech

Individual Wealth

About Web Sites and Email Lists

Work Interruptions

Covid-19 Lock-down

Home-made Sanitiser - For Australia

The Banal Futility of User Agreements

Reuse-Recycle-Reduce - The Joke of Recycling

Donald Trump

Perception and Reality

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

The Obestity Fallacy

Who are You?

Collective Intelligence

High Ground

Competition

Life's Journey

Success

Interdependence

ISO 8601 - Getting with the Times (and Dates)

The Indispensible Man

The Importance of Love

Words to Live By - Desiderata

Christmas 2015

Controlling Your Character

The Art of Giving

Gratitude

For the Mathematicians

Statue of David after 3 years in the USA

I Asked and God Gave Me...

from Singapore - My Legacy - My One (Last) Thing

Web Site Updates

Cameras and UFOs

My 60th Birthday

Re-Writing Web Sites

Posted 2021-09-05 My Health and Retirement

MY HEALTH

On Fri 2021-08-06 at about 18:00, I had a cardiac arrest (where the heart actually stops beating). Fortunately two bystanders applied CPR and revived me. 15 minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took me to the ICU at Royal Perth Hospital where I spent the next 8 days. During that time, the hospital phoned my wife 3 times and told her to come in since I was dying from Heart Failure and Kidney Failure. Fortunately, I did not die.

On Sun 2021-08-15 I was transferred to ward 10A where I did not receive any food or water for 3 days. They all thought I was a good as dead.

I have no memory of anything since just before my cardiac arrest up to Mon 2021-08-15 (8 days). On the Mon and Tue I was confused and delusional. When I awoke on the Monday, I was wondering why am I in a morgue?

On Wed 2021-08-19 I was more rational when we discussed my health care plan with the family, friends and doctors. The combined decision was to put me in a hospice to die with minimal suffering. Later that day I realised that the health plan did not include any dialysis for the failed kidneys leaving me no chance of surviving more than a few days.

Thu 2021-08-19 was the key day. We had a second meeting with the family, friends and doctors. During that meeting I became lucid and argued my case to at least try dialysis which the doctors believed would be a waste of time. However, the doctors eventually agreed to it.

On Fri 2021-08-20, I was given kidney dialysis. The results were way better than the doctors expected. Since then I have continued to receive dialysis every second day to clean up my kidneys.

On Thu 2021-09-02 my condition was so improved I was transferred to the Restorative Unit at St John of God Hospital in Mount Lawley for rehabilitation. After 2 weeks continuously in bed, my legs need to be strengthened and re-trained to walk.

The outlook is relatively good but not assured. My path to this point is nothing short of a series of miracles. It has further strengthened my Christian beliefs. It has been the untiring support from my family, Church members and friends that has brought me to this point. I am deeply indebted to them and our Australian health system.

MY RETIREMENT

I had decided to retire on Wed 2021-06-30 but finish of the Bay East Gardens project in Singapore as my last project. However, given my current health, I will now let someone else finish of what will be an incredible project.

So my retirement of Wed 2021-06-30 is final and confirmed.

I have had an incredible career:

I have worked with 30+ Golf Course Architects and literally thousands of project and site personnel. For 28 years I averaged 1 flight a week and about 25% of my time was spent travelling.

Now is the time to spend more time with my wife, Erida (we married in 1992) and 4 children (Michael 27, Michelle 25, Frederik 16 and Felicity 13)!

My thanks to ALL the people I have worked with. You have made my life so good and taught me so much. There are so many people that it would be impractical for me to list individuals so I will not other than my beautiful wife who made it all possible.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

Posted 2021-07-29 Non-Binary, He-She, They-Them

Just read an article on this issue that troubles the first world. Personally I am much more concerned with poverty and wars in our world. However, the article gave me a better insight to this issue.
https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/what-does-it-mean-to-be-non-binary/100293656

Still don't like the invented application of the term non-binary but I understand that sexuality for all is not always obvious, either physically or emotionally.

As the article mentions:
They/them pronouns are often used in everyday conversation when we don't know someone's gender;
for example: "Someone left their hat in this cafe. Can you leave it in the lost and found for them?"

I have been doing that for decades when I do not know the sex of the person.

I will still continue to use he/she if I identify them as such. They project their sexuality and I identify it. I don't need them to tell me it. Same with other aspects of their personality like (for example) intelligence, sexism, racism, ageism...

At times, I believe some of these people are attention-seeking, insecure people.

Posted 2021-07-25 Adsafe - Protecting Children in Our Church

This has become a big topic for me in recent weeks. An important issue that I believe should have been handled better.

See a special page on Adsafe here.

Posted 2021-04-18 Words of Wisdom about Life

I don't know to whom I should attribute the following Words of Wisdom from an old person, but most echo my own sentiments about life.

  1. After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children and my friends, I have now started loving myself.
  2. I have realized that I am not Atlas. The world does not rest on my shoulders.
  3. I have stopped bargaining with vegetable and fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter's school fees.
  4. I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.
  5. I stopped telling the elderly that they've already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.
  6. I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.
  7. I give compliments freely & generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient, but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it down, just say Thank You.
  8. I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.
  9. I walk away from people who don't value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.
  10. I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.
  11. I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It's my emotions that make me human.
  12. I have learned that it's better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas with relationships, I will never be alone.
  13. I have learned to live each day as if it's the last. After all, it might be the last.
  14. I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Posted 2021-04-05 Sexual Assault in Australia - My Viewpoint

This is an important and sensitive issue for both sides of the male/female divide. I say male/female divide since the Government report I am using as a reference uses that divide. There is next to no reference to the LGBT++ community which has this issue as well.

Put simply, 97% of the perpetrators of sexual assault are men and women/girls are about 75% of the victims. While men have a lot to be held accountable for, the solution also involves the women.

The media are financially motivated to drive the controversy and their advertising sales so we need to be careful with our reading.

This has been an on-going issue of discussion in our household as well.

My primary reference is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) web site, an Australian Government organisation. It draws from information compiled by the Australia Bureau of Statistics. I believe it is as impartial a view of the statistics as any available.
The link to the Government PDF report with my highlights is: blog_2021-04-06 Sexual Assault in Australia.pdf
The originating Australian Government web link is:
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/domestic-violence/sexual-assault-in-australia/data

My salient statistics from this Government report are:

  1. In 201819, the majority of sexual assault offenders recorded by police were male (97%) - See highlighted text on Page 1 (2 of 21).
    So much for equality! As men, we (as a group but not all individuals) have a problem and we are the problem for women. Not surprising. It gives substance to the folklore that men have higher sex drives, like to exert power over women, and the rest of that mantra. I am not being dismissive of the mantra; I accept much of the mantra. It is just that it is a long list...
  2. The 2016 PSS estimated that 148,000 women and 57,200 men aged 18 and over were sexually assaulted in the 12 months before a 2012 survey - See highlighted text on Page 3 (4 of 21).
    So, of the 205,200 people sexually assaulted, 72% were women and 28% men. So while men were the overwhelming perpetrators, they are also 28% of the victims. I have not seen that number in any media reports which are so focussed on the women.
  3. In 201819, almost all finalised sexual assault defendants (98%) were males. For both males (39%) and females (43%), being proven guilty was the most common method of finalisation, and being acquitted was the least common (11% and 10%, respectively) - See highlighted text on Page 9 (10 of 21).
  4. The proportion of those proven guilty rose to 57% for males and 58% for females when defendants who were finalised by being transferred were excluded. - See highlighted text on Page 9 (10 of 21).
    So the proportion of those proven guilty for both men and women perpetrators is (for all intents and purposes) the same (57% vs 58%).
  5. The 2016 PSS found that half (50%, or 321,000) of women believed that alcohol or another substance contributed to their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male, with either the respondent, perpetrator or both affected. - See highlighted text on Page 11 (12 of 21).
    What a sad indictment of both the male and females involved! See my comments below.
  6. Rates of sexual assault (for victims 0 to 14 years) were 3.5 times as high for girls as for boys - See highlighted text on Page 12 (13 of 21).
    So even as children, the girls constitute the majority of victims of sexual assault (77%).
  7. The 2016 PSS found that half (50%, or 317,000) of women sought advice or support from 1 or more source after their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male. - See highlighted text on Page 4 (5 of 21).
    Then have a look on the next page and see 1 in 6 sought advice from the police (referring to 1 in 6 of the 50%).
    The deduction is that only 1 in 6 of 50% of women who sought advice sought it from the police. That is only 8% of women who were sexually assaulted by a male reported it to the police.
  8. Data from ABS Recorded Crime - Victims also indicate that, for states and territories where the relationship between victim and offender was recorded (excluding Western Australia), more sexual assaults of people aged 15 and over involved an offender who was known to the victim (77%) than a stranger (23%). Around 1 in 3 (35%) known offenders were classified as a family member, which included spouse or domestic partners, parent, child, sibling, boyfriend/girlfriend and other family members. All other known offenders (65%) were classified as non-family members, which can include other relationships, ex-spouses or domestic partners and ex-boyfriend/girlfriend (based on ABS 2020c) - See highlighted text on Page 8 (9 of 21) and Page 9 (10 of 21).

So now my views...

I acknowledge that 97% of the perpetrators of sexual assault are males (see Point 1 above). I feel that, as a men, we are judged guilty before we are given a trial. While 97% of the perpetrators of sexual assault are men, that does not mean 97% of men are perpetrators!

Another annecdotal fact is that nearly all perpetrators have been abused themselves; a learned behaviour. However, not all abused men go on to be perpetrators. I don't have any hard evidence of this but if you have some, please let me know.

There is a war of the sexes but there is a lot of fraternising with the enemy. It does not need to be a war. It should not be a war. Men and women can live in harmony and for the most part, do.

It is often mentioned that the reported assaults are just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, how do you make up statistics on unreported sexual assaults? Interestingly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics offers a statistical insight to that in this report. Seen note 7 above. So only 8% of sexual assaults on women by a male are reported to police. That sounds really bad but do note 50% of them sought advice from someone. Not great but not so gloomy. I believe that sometimes seeking non-Police help is better than going to the police. Each case is different...

I strongly disagree that Police should believe the (mainly female) rape victim. She (as well at the man) should be listened to. To believe her story is true, then it follows, logically and legally, that the man is guilty. What happened to being innocent until proven guilty? The Police need to listen (to both the woman and the man) without judgement. Judgement should be the role of the courts, not the Police. I know it is more complex than that but innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental right of our legal system.

And what do the courts say? They say a few things as noted in the extracts above. For males, 39% being proven guilty as the most common finalisation in the courts with 11% being acquitted (see Point 3 above). That puts males in a worse light than the wider picture. A little addition: 39% + 11% = 50%. So what happened to the other 50%? That is contained in the orginating ABS data which I have extracted on the first page of the PDF report linked above. 32% are transferred to other court levels and 18% are withdrawn from prosecution. Yes, it take some sifting to get to the truth. So Point 4 above presents a fairer view: The proportion of those proven guilty was 57% for males and 58% for females when defendants who were finalised by being transferred were excluded (see Point 4 above).

And therein lies a disturbing number. 57% of people prosecuted for sexual assault (and remember 97% of them are men) are found guilty. Not counting the accused men who are not brought to trial, this means that 43% of people (97% of them men) prosecuted for sexual assault are not convicted. So that gives a lie to the commentators who say than men should not fear false prosecution.

It reinforces my fear of a false accusation. Men need to protect themselves from false accusations by, not only doing the right thing, but be seen doing the right thing. It is also a good opportunity to model for other men. So what do I do to protect myself? My No. 1 rule I impose on myself is: Except for women or children in my family (who I implicitly trust), I am not alone with a woman or child in a room where there is no independent person to see me doing the right thing. I love the windows in the doors of our church that allow other people can see me doing the right thing. I have seen too many innocent men's lives wrecked by false accusations so I am fearful of that for myself.

The Conviction Rate

As noted in the above statistics (see Point 4 above), the conviction rate for male perpetrators (57%) is essentially the same for female perpetrators (58%). So the courts seem balanced on that issue.

Some women complain that the conviction rate for males should be higher. Why? Are those commentators better judges that the judges/juries that sit and listen to days if not weeks of testimony? The conviction rate cannot be manipulated just because women think it is too low. Law reform is an option but just demanding higher conviction rates is not acceptable.

43% of the people prosecuted for sexual assault (97% of them are males) go through the trauma of the harrowing process of a trial only to be found innocent. Yes, it is harrowing on the man as well at the woman. The man's name has mud all over it in the press while often the failed accuser (normally a woman) is not named. Women do make false allegations but I have never heard of one who has been convicted of it.

Women rape victims are not publicly named though a man accused is publicly named before they even go to trial. My belief is that the man should not be named until found guilty. If he is found innocent, his reputation (by imputation) is in tatters (why would the Police have prosecuted him if they did not think he was guilty?)

Drugs, Alcohol and Other Risk Factors

The impact of alcohol and drugs is a sad indictment of our society (see Point 5). In times gone by, alcohol abuse was more the domain of the male (as was smoking). Today, alcohol and illicit drugs pervade the lives of all, particularly the younger people.

As per Point 5 above, 50% of women believed that alcohol or another substance contributed to their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male, with either the respondent, perpetrator or both affected.

Imagine. There is a woman and a man, either one or both under the influence of alcohol or another drug. It is late at night and there are just the two of them, alone on a country road and they are driving cars toward each other. The law recognises this as a dangerous situation, so dangerous that it makes is illegal to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I fully support that law and I believe most of the population of Australia do.

Imagine. There is a woman and a man, either one or both under the influence of alcohol or another drug. It is late at night and there are just the two of them, alone in a room. Both of them should recognise this as a dangerous situation.

When under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, you have given up control to those around you. When you give up your control, you had better be pretty sure you do that when you have some sober person/people you can trust with you to keep you safe. Of course, the right path for all of us is to abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs; to remain in control of ourselves. That is why I am a teetotaller and do not use illicit drugs. It would not completely stop sexual assault but it would potentially stop 50% (maybe more) of it.

It seems to be that when a woman is drunk, that seems to excuse her from her responsibility to look after herself. However, the same shoe does not fit the other foot. If a man is drunk, he is not excused from the responsibility of his actions (and nor should he be). Again, the outcome would be better if both were sober.

Being inebriated, dressing sexily, flirting/teasing, and going to nightspots are all risk factors for women. It is still totally wrong for a man to use that as an excuse for sexual assault. But the hard reality for women is that they are risk factors that need to be managed. E.g., don't walk alone at night, especially in night-life areas. Be with a person your trust. A woman has the right to walk the streets anywhere a night and feel safe. So do I as a man. However, I have for decades maintained a rule of not being in Northbridge (Perth's nightspot) after midnight. Northbridge has a deserved reputation as the assault capital of Western Australia. I should have a right to walk safely in Northbridge after midnight but, because I know I am an increased risk of assault, I choose not to.

Stranger Danger versus Family versus Aquaintences

So the previous paragraph related to Stranger Danger.. As per Point 8 above (which relates to victims 15 years or older), that would cover only 23% of the cases of sexual assault. In the majority of cases (77%), the perpetrator is known to the victim. 26% (=35% of 77%) of the perpetrators are a family member. It is sad (frightening) to see that so many of those closest to the victims betray the implicit trust relationships that should exist in a family.

To summarise the statistics for sexual assaults on people aged 15 or over:

In a Nutshell..

Point 1 above: 97% of the sexual assault perpetrators were male.
Point 2 above: 72% of the people above the age of 18 who were sexually assaulted were women. 28% are men.
Point 6 above: 77% of children (0-14 years) who were sexual assault victims are girls. 23% are boys

These points are a sad indictment of society and men in particular. It confirms that around 75% of the victims of sexual assault are women/girls and 97% of the perpetrators are men. Women are the main victims of sexual assault, from birth until their death. It is men who have the main responsibility and power to stop it but women also have their role to play.

And in the End, the Love you Take, it Equal to the Love you Make
In the End by the Beatles on their Abbey Road album.

The simple (perhaps simplistic) answer is that we should act out of love to each other. The second greatest commandment of Jeusus (Matthew 22:39 - NIV): Love your neighbor as yourself. As a Christian, I ask myself, am I acting out of my love for this person and if the answer is not yes, then that is a good indication that I should not be doing it. A simple commandment but not so easy to follow.

Posted 2021-04-04 Spirituality and God

Many of you know that I am Christian. So my eyes lit up today when I read the following article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation news web site.

From my Christian point of view, this article gives me many statistics which increase my optimism. From those statistics we can gain critcal information on ways for getting the Christian message to others; we know many of them are open to considering God.

The article is based on a survey of 1,000 Australians on a range of spiritual issues; God, ghosts, miracles, angels, the soul, purpose of life, and life after death (appropriate for this Easter weekend).

For me, there were several intriguing highlights to this article.

And that is in a society that is generally considered secular!

People talk about the decline of Christianity in Australia but I do not see it that way. In past generations, there was a lot of institutional pressure (from communities, schools, and governments) that we be Christian. Nowadays, I believe it is fair to say that those institutional pressures are firmly towards being secular, if not atheist. I like the quote in the article from Les Murray: I think intellectuals are mostly secular or are required to pretend that they are. But broader people are very varied

My belief is that in past generations, many people went to Churches because of social pressures of the day but many were nominal Christians. Nowadays, fewer people go to Churches but they are do so against the social pressures of the current generation. That is, the current population of Church-going Christians are making a proactive choice to attend Church against social pressures. Perhaps I am being optimistic (perhaps judgemental?), but I believe the number of true Christians could be growing.

For the full article, see Do Australians Believe in God or the Supernatural

Posted 2021-02-17 Over-Servicing

Have you every read the instructions that acompany many products that tell you to continually service things. E.g.:

Obviously there is often a need for maintenance but blindly following the manufacturer's recommendations will waste time and/or money. Then again, it takes effort to find out when the manufacturer's are being over-zealous with their servicing requirements.

There are two main reasons that manufacturers will nearly always promote over-servicing:

I first became aware of over-servicing back around 1975 when I visited the Western Australia Government Railways workshops as part of my apprenticeship training. I learnt they tested the oil before changing it. That same lesson was reinforced when I worked at the Ralph Sarich Orbital Engine Company in the 1980s. Of course, such testing for your motor car will be more expensive than just changing it.

In the 1990s, one of my friends in Singapore worked for General Electric who had been on a drive for service/maintenance contracts for years. At that time, 25% of General Electric's income came from servicing. Since then, many companies have jumped on the servicing bandwagon. While it increases revenue, perhaps more importantly is it provides a steady stream of income after the sugar hit of the once-off initial purchase of the product. Hence the move by software companies to push for an on-going annual fee for use of their software rather than allowing the outright purchase. E.g., for me, as a user of Microsoft office, my Office 2013 (8 years old) has more functionality than I need (actually Office 97 did but not the stability). I have saved 8 years of on-going payments to Microsoft.

So what is the right level of servicing? Of course it depends on the situation. Companies are usually better informed and equipped than consumers to determine the right level of servicing for their needs. E.g., the mining industry indulges in over-servicing because from a financial point of view, the money lost in over-servicing is less than that of failures of their mining supply chains.

Consumers, if they are paying attention, should learn over time what is important and what is not important. Of course is you blindly follow the manufacturer's recommendations, you almost certainly will be over-spending.

Fire Alarms: I can accept that these should be replaced after their designated lifetime of 10 years. But who keeps track of that? It is unreasonable to expect consumers to check the alarms monthly. The manufacturers should be required to make them reliable. As the consumer, you should install more than one anyway. Why change the batteries each year? My batteries last 5 years+ and then an alarm sounds to let me know to replace them (as it should). Replacing the batteries each year is a waste of my time, money, and the resources used for batteries.

Motor Cars: I believe the first service at 5,000 to 10,000 km is good to get rid of dirt and grime left over from the manufacturing as well as find other manufacturing defects early. But why change the oil every 10,000 km? An unnecessary waste of oil. It is the manufacturers erring on the side of caution at your expense.

And the age of the car is also important. During my apprenticeship back around 1976, I bought a car for $ 125 (thanks George!). I ran it around for 18 months and only checked the water and oil levels. A service would have cost me 50% of what I paid for the car.

Similarly, my current 2004 Holden Rodeo is worth about $ 4,000. My last service cost me $ 320, say 8% of the value of my car. It was 30,000 km since the last service. So I saved $ 640 by skipping 2 services (or 16% of the value of the car). That is not counting the inconveniences of dropping off / picking up the car, and the lack of availability of the car for a day. Of course my service guy chastised me, saying it should be serviced more regularly. My cynical-self thought he was angry at losing out on the revenue of 2 services.

There are some things I service regularly. E.g., filters. By the nature of what they do, filters are designed to clog up. If not, they are not serving their purpose. My first experience with that was my air conditioning running 24 hours a day in Singapore in the 1990s. Cleaning the filters noticeably reduced my electricity bill and resulted in better cooling.

Posted 2020-12-18 The Devil's Dictionary

This is a book from the late 1800s to 1906 by Ambrose Pierce. It is a collection of witty and irreverent re-definitions of words of the English language. They are often exposing the connotations and innuendo underlying the words we use. Many of the re-definitions show a keen insight into how we use and mis-use words, especially in the context of the times when it was written.

A few examples:

The link to the book: Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

Posted 2020-12-10 The Six Traps Robbing You of Spare Time

Busyness is endemic in our society. It is often worn as a badge of importance though there is an emerging trend to present the appearance of non-busyness - the I am better than you attitude. So you cannot win either way!

I first became aware of busyness when I was 18, just after I started driving at 17. I found myself doing all the things that other people wanted me to do, often because I had a car and could drive. It may be hard to see nowadays, but I was a popular guy. However, I realised that I was keeping other people happy while sacrificing my own. Upon that realisation, I developed a certain obnoxiousness that allowed me to decline invitations and requests for help. Sure I was less popular but I had some of my own space.

Later I learnt Stephen Covey's method of setting priorities (Important and Urgent quadrants). See Priorities. Further down my life's journey, I discovered the Power of One (see The Power of One). This is the concept that, while there may be many things that are important, there is that One Thing that is more important than anything else.

In the article linked below, there are six time traps listed:

For me, my biggest trap is not directly mentioned. Over-committment. The state of frantic busyness that evolves when committments become over-bearing. I think committments are important and I dislike breaking them. But they are not sacrosanct. So at my ripe age, I have found my balance (on most days!).

For more information, refer to the following Sydney Morning Herald article.

The Six Traps Robbing You of Spare Time

Posted 2020-12-07 Flying during Covid-19

For those of you who travel by air during the Covid-19 pandemic, the following article may be of interest to you. The all-important advice is at the end of the article.

Flying During Covid-19

Posted 2020-11-08 Diet and Energy Density of Foods

Except for my very active sporting days (say from 20 to 35 years old), I have had problems controlling my weight within a healthy range.

My weight during my very active sporting days was 92-95 kg (202 to 209 lb). When I moved to an inactive and dining for business lifestyle in Singapore, my weight ballooned to a massive 150 kg (330 lb). I was 142 kg (312 lb) when I had my heart attack in Korea (2013-01-17).

On June 21 this year, I started counting my kJ/kCal with a mobile-phone app. My weight has gone from 136 kg (299 lb) to 118 kg (259 b). kJ/kCal counting has worked before to reduce my weight and is working well this time. For me, it is a lot of hard work setting up all the food and recipes, and logging it. However, given that my life literally depends on me maintaining a healthy weight, it is something I have decided to do for the rest of my life. If that is what it takes to achieve my healthy weight, then so be it!

By eating low-energy density foods, I am able to eat enough so that I do not feel hungry while keeping within my kJ/kCal limits. This is what has worked for me.

I think we all know if we eat the healthy foods, our body will keep a healthier weight. There are many problems with this:

To help myself with the first of these problems, I produced the following chart which I share with you. It shows the number of kJ/kCal per 100 g of several food categories. The lowest energy-density foods are the rabbit foods, the salads (such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, spinach and tomato). Then followed by the low-energy density vegetables (such as asparagus, cauliflower, brocolli, cabbage, green beans, mushrooms). Things are fairly OK up to the legumes/lentils. Then the ultra-high energy density vegetables (avocados) are the first food in the red danger zone.

So what is new about this chart? It shows in a graphical way what most of us already know. Oil has 63 times the kJ/kCal of the Salads. Alternatively, we can eat 63 times more salads (by weight) than oil for the same number of kJ/kCal. So we should be severely restricting the amount of oil, nuts and sweets in our diet. Most of us already knew that, this chart shows it in a picture. Being a vegetarian makes it simpler but not foolproof. The deserts are vegetarian but they are loaded in kJ/kCal.

There were some surprises for me in the chart. I knew bread was high-energy density but did not realise how much so. And even worse for the grains (e.g. rice, oats). Most of our breakfast cereals are grains with added sugar so are also high-energy density. Fish (which is quite variable) and meats are not great but not as bad as I expected them to be.

Of course calorie intake is the single-most important dietary consideration for maintaining a healthy body weight. However, it is not the only consideration to maintaining a healthy body, mind and soul. That is much more complex and ideological. Perhaps, NEWSTART: Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, (fresh) Air and Transcendence (spirituality) works for me.

For more info, see Energy Density of Foods

Posted 2020-10-02 Economics and the Environment

While my economic politics could generally be construed as conservative, right wing, my social politics could generally be construed as progressive, left wing. A conflict? No, merely an apparent conflict driven by our innate need to categorise people. Today Ross Gittens wrote what I believe is the best commentary on economics and the environment that I have read. Why? Because it closely echoes my sentiments.

My Extracted Summary: The[Covid-19] pandemic and our attempts to suppress it have led to a fall of 7 per cent in the size of the economy in the June quarter as measured by the quantity of Australia's production of goods and services (real gross domestic product). This massive contraction in production has involved a fall of more than 400,000 in the number of jobs, almost a million people unemployed and a jump in the rate of underemployment from 9 per cent to 12 per cent. Most of the people affected are young and female. but mostly it involves using a resource that's economic but not environmental: the time of humans. And, of itself, human time doesn't damage the environment.
Concern should be directed to the right target: not economic growth in general, but those aspects of economic growth that do the environmental damage: world population growth, use of fossil fuels, indiscriminate land clearing, irrigation, over-fishing, use of damaging fertilisers and insecticides, and so on.
See the link for the full Sydney Morning Herald article.

I did economics back in my university days (early 1970s) and found myself questioning the tutors on the validity of basic assumptions of Economics 101. This included the assumptions behind the supply and demand curve. I cannot remember if I passed but it was most likely that I failed Economics 101. Of course that was because Economics 101 was wrong, not me! Since my university days, I have viewed Economists with distain. My view of the incorrect basis of their trade has been validated by their repeated failure to properly predict economic outcomes.

In my university days, Economists relied on the fundamentally-flawed supply-demand curve. This involved people behaving robotically; price goes up, demand drops. In more recent years, Economists have become more nuanced in their approach, incorporating the reality of more complex human decision making. Enter the marketing people who can drive up demand while charging higher prices in direct defiance of 1970s Economists.

The delight of this article and Ross Gittins in general is his clear insight of economics and people.

Posted 2020-09-06 Freedom of Speech

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

This is the Voltare-inspired quotation from Evelyn Beatrice Hall that I believe is the centrepiece of the freedom of speech. I strongly support Voltare's view. Unfortunately our freedom of speech is being eroded by governments and courts. Also, informal censorship such as the manipulation of internet search results, restrictions on access, and political correctness.

I don't believe we should censor rascists, terrorists, bigots, anarchists, etc. Let them speak so we know who they are. The news that the courts restrict newspapers reporting is incredible. It is hiding information that the people should not be blocked from, often protecting the Government (read Politicians) and powerful individuals that can afford such legal action (e.g., Elton John).

Yesterday we saw anti-lockdown protesters arrested for violating the state imposed restriction to control the Covid-19 pandemic. It appears that most people support these arrests. But we did not see those arrests when, at the peak of our Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matters rallies were held across Australia. In fact, the West Australian Health Minister, Roger Cook, was encouraging West Australians to attend the Perth Rally.

Obviously our political ruling class are not fans of Voltare.

Posted 2020-05-16 Individual Wealth

This is a perennial topic of discussion between my kids and I. This blogspot was prompted by the purported worth of Jeff Bezos at USD$ 145 billion. The point of discussion is how could his wealth be better spent for the benefit of mankind?

I believe that individual wealth (in and of itself) is not an issue provided the wealthy are not wasteful or extravagant with it. Wealth and Power feed each other but Power is the danger more so than Wealth.

Let us say the markets change and Jeff Bezos' wealth drops from USD$ 145 billon to USD 70 billion. Have half of his warehouses gone? No, they are still standing but may be valued at half of what they were yesterday. He still manages (has control of) the same number of warehouses. His wealth is largely a function of what others judge his wealth to be (via the markets not the newspapers).

In my view, wealthy people are managing that section of the economy. I view them as custodians of that section of the economy rather than outright owners who can do as they like with their property. E.g., extravagantly lavish themselves (conspicuous consumption), burn all the warehouses... If they manage that wealth to the benefit of society, then they are good custodians of wealth. I believe Warren Buffet is an example of that model. The concept of corporate/social responsibility in the management of companies is growing and I think that is a good re-direction for Capitalism. Well-regulated Capitalism with social responsibility offering the best of a market economy which is much more efficient than a planned Government economy (Communism).

Another application of the concept of being a custodian (vs ownership) is in farming. The farmers (many are cash-poor in Australia) are clearly custodians of their land. They cannot do just what they like with their land. There is an obligation for them to maintain it for future generations. The land is a national asset being managed by private ownership.

The alternative to Capitalism is to nationalise the assets; put them in the common people's ownership, the Government (see Tragedy of the Commons). I have a strong ideological objection to that. That is the basis of communism (specifically putting the ownership is the hands of the workers not the people). The last 100+ years have shown the abject failure of that model with Communism having to adopt the Capitalist's market economy to avoid another revolution.

It is fallacious to say that (e.g.) we take 3% of Jeff Bezos's to wealth use it for some "obviously" good cause. I imagine a large portion of his wealth is in assets such as shares, title deeds, property, proprietary information, goodwill, etc. Not money per se. That is, he owns (controls) things much more than money in the bank. So what is the Government going to do? Nationalise his warehouses, sell them and put people out of work?

The dangerous thing such wealth affords Jeff Bezos is power; power over governments, and people. There are many people that say he abuses that power, and that would be more of the concern to me than his wealth.

Posted 2020-04-16 About Web Sites and Email Lists

I maintain about 10 web sites (not my main job) and have some views that run contrary to the mainstream. My focus is different from a professional web site developer who likes to make things complicated, fancy and charge large fees. If I was running a high-end commercial operation, I would use them. However, that is not where I am at.

I am trying to convey free information at a low cost. My time is valuable to me so I like to prioritise it to maximise my value from my time. So I:

What is the Number 1 Complaint about Web Sites?

For my business web site, I did a lot of intensive surveying (some described it more as an interrogation) of my customer base. There was one complaint that rose above all: "I cannot find the information I want."

This was broken down into 3 sub-complaints:

The primary purpose of my web sites is to provide information. Entertainment is not my focus.

Types of Web Pages

Note the difference between a web page (singular) and the web site (which is a collection of web pages).

There are two types of web pages (my classification):

This blogging web page is a Dynamic web page. I really try to minimise the number of dynamic web pages I have.

Mailing Lists

It appears everyone has cluttered email inboxes. I keep on permanent record about 400 emails a month. Each day I receive about 100 emails and about 90% are deleted almost instantly.

But as much as were like to complain about emails, they are an essential part of marketing. Web sites are a necessity. Search engines (especially when you pay them) can get people to your web site. But emails, particularly targeted emails, work more effectively. The concept of you going to the customer is more effective than waiting for the customer to come to you. That is what advertising is all about. Advertising is you taking your message to the customer.

For example, I run a web site for parents at our high school. I have been doing this for 15 years so I know where I get my best response. If I put a note on the web site for helpers, I get zero response. However, if I put out an email to the 2,500 people currently on the list, I may get half a dozen responses. Now, 6 out of 2,500 seem a low hit rate but also I do not need a thousand helpers for an event! So generally the system works. Email marketing is like door-to-door sales; the more doors you knock on, the more sales you make.

Posted 2020-04-14 Work Interruptions

I have worked from home for the past 30+ years. Generally a good thing with the main negative being Work Interruptions.

One of the refrains I say to my family is any interruption will cost me a minimum of 15 minutes. Another is there is no such thing as a 5-minute phone call. Once you have interrupted me, you have taken 15 minutes from me. That is, it will take me 15 minutes to get my mind back on task (typically). I say this not so they never interrupt me, but for them to realise the consequence. It may seem a bit mean but if I was not working from home, they would not have an opportunity to interrupt me so easily. And for me, I need to understand that the 15 minutes could be important for them. A balance needs to be struck to make working from home beneficial for both my work and my family.

It appears I have support about any interruption being a minimum of 15 minutes.

It is often quoted that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. This is from Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine.

See her interview here. Her remarks are highlighted in red on Page 2.
or her paper on the subject here

Posted 2020-04-13 Covid-19 Lock-down

While both the Federal and West Australian State governments have acted well so far, they need to provide some time-frame for the lock-down being eased. I don't see why they are promoting the idea the lock-down will last to the end of this year??? That appears ridiculous to me.

Fortunately (due to the lock-down) we have only had 6 deaths in Western Australia. To put that in perspective, this year we have killed 35 on our roads so far. And about 100 by suicide (75% males). The Covid-19 seems in control. Pretty much that way all over Australia (except perhaps NSW). I do see how it could spin out of control as it has recently in Singapore.

But the pressure is building for some relaxing of the police state we now find ourselves under. I reckon the government is just trying to keep the lock-down going for as long as people will tolerate it. I figure they may have about at one more month unless the number of deaths significantly rises to convince the people otherwise.

At the moment, there are not enough people dying to justify such a lock-down. And ironically, our hospitals in Western Australia that were emptied of all but the necessary patients in anticipation are currently empty. In fact they are standing-down nurses!

But easing back on the lock-down needs to be done cautiously since this disease will take off exponentially given the chance.

Hubert H. Humphrey, Hubert There are not enough jails, not enough policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people.

Posted 2020-04-05 Home-made Hand Sanitiser - For Australia

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hand sanitiser has not been available in the stores for weeks and supplies are not on the horizon. So I decided to make some of my own today. Found the recipe on the WHO (Word Health Organisation) site and adapted it to Australia. Happy with my creation.

BRIEF RECIPE FOR 1 Litre OF HAND SANITISER IN AUSTRALIA (costs about $ 10.00 / L)
(This is based on the original WHO document - see below).

Ingredients:

Ingredient Quantity Quantity Cost (AUD$) Cost (ADD$) Comment
Alcohol 96% 750 mL 600 g $ 7.05 $ 9.40 for 1000 mL Diggers Methylated Spirits from Bunnings
H2O2 (3%) 40 mL 40 g $ 1.60 $ 3.99 for 100 mL  Hydrogen Peroxide from chemist
Glycerol 98% 15 mL 19 g $ 1.19 $ 7.95 for 100 mL From Chemist
Water 195 mL 195 g $ 0.00 Boiled and cooled or Distilled From tap
Totals 1,000 mL 854 g $ 9.84    

Method:

Notes on Methylated Spirits in Australia

Historically, methylated spirts was ethanol (alcohol) with 5% methanol (a toxin) in it to discourage people drinking it instead of alcohol (which is taxed higher). Nowadays in Australia, methylated spirits is a misnomer as it normally does not contain methanol.

Methylated spirits with methanol is mostly an American thing; as is the outrage at the idea of using it in hand sanitiser. In Australia, methylated spirits and denatured ethanol are almost always the same thing. Typically both are ethanol>95%, water, denatonium (aka bittrex, about 10ppm) and maybe MIBK (hexanone, about .25%). These last two are not toxic enough to appear in MSDS sheets.

Diggers methylated spirits is a denatured ethanol (95% ethanol) that does not use methanol. See data sheet in More Details following.

The water content is important for slowing the evaporation rate, allowing time to kill pathogens.

More details

For more information, Hand Sanitser

Posted 2020-02-06 - The Banal Futility of User Agreements

Today I received an email from Paypal with an update to my User Agreement with them. You know the standard:

We're making some changes to our legal agreements that will apply to you. There is no action needed from you today, but if you would like to learn more, you can find details about these changes, when they apply and what you can do if you want to decline the changes on our Policy Updates page. You can also view these changes by visiting PayPal.com, clicking on 'Legal' at the bottom of the page and then selecting 'Policy Updates'.
If you have questions about any of these changes or your account, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

And the presumption is that if you do nothing you have consented to the said Terms and Conditions. Really?

The simple fact of the mater is that I (and I suggest 99% of people) don't read these agreements the vast majority of the time. On this occasion...

A few points about this concept:

So what is the point behind this banal futility? Paypal is going through the motions of keeping their customers informed while their actual intent is to overload me with information so I read none of it. I am guessing that maybe someone (of the millions) does actually read the agreement but I am not even convinced of that.

So is there any protection for the me, the consumer?

My main protection comes from an established English common law principle that if a party proposes a contract term that is particularly onerous or unusual, the term will not be incorporated into the contract unless it has been fairly and reasonably brought to the counterparty's attention.

It is why scrupulous people get you to initial various items in the Contract for you to acknowledge that they brought that particular clause to your attention. So it is most important for you to understand what you are acknowledging in these instances; perhaps more so that your signature at the bottom of the contract. I believe a court would nearly always hold you liable for such initialled clauses that have been highlighted to you and acknowledged by you.

And now my disclaimer. As per the above, I am not a lawyer. So check with your lawyer (what, you don't have one?) who will charge you literally hundreds of dollars for the initial consult. The point of this little blurb (as with most of my notes) is A drop of ink to make you think.

A side story from my life. Back in 1989, I was (supposedly) a Director in a company (glossing over some of the details here) and I had a form put in front of me from a Supplier; a Director's Guarantee of Payment. Nasty little legal document. It said that if the company did not pay the debt, then I would be held personally liable for the debt (joint and several). I spoke with a fellow Director who I had seen blindly sign the document and pointed out this clause. He said, I know but I have signed dozens of these forms. Each one of them could personally send me bankrupt. So what does it matter to me if I sign one more form. He was right for his situation but for me it was the first such form that had been presented to me. I declined to sign the form on the grounds that I had not been formally appointed a Director. Good decision on my part. As it turned out, I was never formally made a Director (another good move), the company went bankrupt and so did the person who signed the form. I had escaped being legally liable (joint and several - be scared when you see that term). That however, did not stop the Supplier harassing me for the resulting bad debt. Their debt collection agent even stooped so low as to make phone calls to my Mum threatening her with legal action for debt recovery. It is what you get when companies put their unpaid invoices in the hands of unscrupulous debt collection agencies.

Posted 2020-01-28 - Reuse-Recycle-Reduce - The Joke of Recycling

Another article confirming my belief that recycling in Australia is a joke: Sydney Morning Herald Recycling Article

My strong belief is that my main contribution to the reuse-recycle-reduce mantra is the reduce what I buy followed by the reuse what I have. And until the government can get its act together on recycling, I will forget it. My main contribution is to think before I buy (Reduce). Of course this against the vested interests of the retailers and Government wanting us running the rat-wheel of spending (consumption) to keep the economy going. On that point I agree with the Greenies. As a society, we need to get off that rat-wheel; to return to the ideology that saving is more virtous than spending.

A government report found that only 9.4% of plastics was recycled and the local plastics recycling sector was smaller than in 2005. See the article linked above.

And we now have huge quantities of recyclable material going to landfill.

Recycling is a nice philosophy but an economic nightmare. It is my long-held contention the whole recycling concept needs recycling itself. The amount of wasted effort of well-meaning citizens should not go on. eg. Washing cans before putting in the recycling bin is a waste of water and my time. And to think it is most likely going to landfill anyway completely puts me off even trying.

This is a prime example of environmental zealots feeding off an altruistic non-thinking population. Methinks there are companies that have been paid handsomely for recycling of materials that are now being re-directed to landfill; and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted 2020-01-22 - Donald Trump

Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, is an enigma of our times. He was elected by the people against the predictions of the Experts and against almost universal derision by the media. I believe his vilification by the media is indicative of how anti-establishment he is. Make no mistake, his rival, Hillary Clinton was a corrupt part of the Establishment. Trump benefited from people voting against Hillary Clinton as much as people voting for him. Hillary Clinton has never been magnanimous enough to accept her part in her downfall. And that post-election hubris (instead of humility) makes me believe the Americans made the better choice with Trump.

From Trump's speech at the World Economic in Davos, Switzerland yesterday:
But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers. I have them, you have them, we all have them and they want to see us do badly but we don't let that happen.
These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty.
In America, we understand what the pessimists refuse to see: that a growing and vibrant market economy focused on the future lifts the human spirit and excites creativity strong enough to overcome any challenge.

While Trump is not the panacea for the USA or the World's problems, the sentiments he expressed here are very close to my politics. I am a great believer in a free market with good government regulation. The Doomsayers have been proved wrong time and time again by history; they have cried wolf too many times to have credibility. On the other side of the politics, I like the type of socialism in Australia where the poorer and less fortunate (eg, disabled, sick, old, unemployed...) are offered government help. I like the concepts of universal low-cost (almost free) education and medical care.

Since elected in 2016, Trump has defied most predictions of the Democrats. Inside six months the economy was be in chaotic meltdown and he would be impeached. The US economy is going from strength to strength under Trump. It took three years for Trump to be impeached in a wholly partisan impeachment because the Democrats had the numbers. Without any bi-partisan support, it lacks legitimacy. If nothing else, Trump has shown future Presidents that there is a different way to acting instead of Business as Usual. The biggest predication to break will be if Trump wins the upcoming Presidential election. I think he has a good chance of that.

Posted 2020-01-21 - Perception and Reality

This was based on a snippet from a Malcolm Turnbull speech: The laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the Law of Australia.

This 8-second snippet portended to show how silly Turnbull but it was actually a witticism. Taking snippets out of context is a common but nearly always misleading tactic. Nonetheless, important amongst our society that suffers ADHD as its norm.

And I quote someone close to me: It's not like someone came up with these laws, they're defined in reality itself.

Hmm! The laws of mathematics (and indeed science) are not defined in reality. We are typically trying to model reality with our theories so we can make useful decisions/predictions. eg. Euclid's method consists in assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms. Do birds fly north and south with a compass? No, man made the compass.

The laws of mathematics (and science) are defined by our perception of reality, not on reality itself. That perception is continually changing and along with it also the perceptions of scientists. Euclid told us the shortest path between two points is a straight line. Einstein told us it isn't so. In 1968, the scientists told me the heating and cooling of the earth was due to heatwaves from the molten lava core of our earth; now they tell us it is our atmosphere. What will they tell us in another 50 years?

I am tired of people holding up scientists as purveyors of the objective truth. One advantage of having lived longer than the youth is that I have seen how science keeps turning on it head over the years. I have seen science corrupted by vested interests (eg Y2K; which company sponsors the research, people not wanting to loose their jobs...). The best protection against this is scepticism; the never-ending questioning. Never-ending since we will never know the complete truth.

Nothing is ever what it seems to be, but everything is exactly what it is. - Buckaroo Banzai

Posted 2019-09-06 - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

Posted 2019-07-03 - The Obesity Fallacy

The most bombastic people on the planet are the Scientists who are not introspective enough to see their own flaws. They view their Scientific Method as infallible; an arrogance they share with the Pope. Both of them base their works on an unprovable set of assumptions (the laws of nature or the bible). By faith alone either way.

Which brings me to my weight problem and Scientists. It is also a problem shared by increasing numbers of the Human Herd as they become more affluent. My weight has been problematic nearly all my life (still is). Of course I am not unique, more likely representative of the western population at large. Despite the enormity of the problem and the billions spent fighting obesity, NO-ONE understands the solution to the problem. Undoubtedly some individuals (very few) overcome the problem but their formula does not work for others. Some would be bombastic enough to make that claim but the proof is in the pudding. If they had, there would be no problem and they would be even richer.

The most bombastic of these people are the Scientists who promote the Calories In / Calories Out fallacy. The maths below clearly demonstrates that this concept is flawed.

aaa

The logic being that I only needed to scrape of 1% of the food off my plate and I would have been OK.

Or to lose that weight over the next 20 years I only need to scrape 2% of the food off my plate.

Both the foregoing statements are clearly preposterous. But that is what the conventional dietician would have you believe.

The missing factor that confounds the above cold-hard mathematical calculations is my (and your) body's efficiency at converting the food into energy which is in turn is used by the body or stored as fat. Also your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns the energy) is mixed into the equation. That is all part of a complex set of balances in the body. And nobody understands those balances sufficiently to provide a solution. eg. When you restrict your diet, the body goes into starvation mode. Very logical but it does not fit the Calories In / Calories Out model.

My firm belief is the answer is in the mind that controls our bodily functions (most likely subconscious) including our food choices and quantities. It is about behaviour modifications, not counting calories. So how can we sway our minds to produce healthy bodies? I am (we are) not there yet :-) I am now looking for that person and not a dietician!

Posted 2019-06-02 - Who are You?

Who Are You Without Your Spiritual Story? - Jeff Foster

Well? Who Are You?

Please, don't talk to me about 'Pure Awareness' or 'Dwelling in the Absolute.'

I want to see how you treat your partner, your kids, your parents, your precious body.

Please, don't lecture me about 'the illusion of the separate self' or how you achieved permanent bliss in just seven days.

I want to feel a genuine warmth radiating from your heart.

I want to hear how well you listen, take in information that doesn't fit your personal philosophy.

I want to see how you deal with people who disagree with you.

Don't tell me how awakened you are, how free you are from ego.

I want to know you beneath the words.

I want to know what you're like when troubles befall you.

If you can fully allow your pain and not pretend to be invulnerable.

If you can feel your anger yet not step into violence.

If you can grant safe passage to your sorrow yet not be its slave.

Who are you?I want to know YOU. Before 'the spiritual one.' Before all the clever words.

If you can feel your shame and not shame others:

If you can fuck up, and admit it.

If you can say 'sorry', and really mean it.

If you can be fully human in your glorious divinity.

Don't talk to me about your spirituality, friend.

I'm really not that interested.

I only want to meet YOU.

Know your precious heart.

Know the beautiful human struggling for the light.

Before 'the spiritual one'.

Before all the clever words.

Posted 2019-05-20 - Collective Intelligence

Just a reflection on the unbelievable outcome of the Australian Federal Election over the weekend. All the newspolls (for the last 3 years) and even the exit poll at the close of the elections predicted a significant Labor Party win. In Trump-like fashion, the counting of votes quickly confirmed there was a marginal win for the Liberal Party (a win is a win). Was this Collective Intelligence at work?

On this occasion, I was fearful of a Labor win but the media had made me resign to accepting that would be the case. But I am absolutely delighted that it was not the case. My adult children were not and I can see their viewpoint too. Labor was not all bad; they had made some shining commitments and certainly were offering a more compassionate and caring society; that I liked.

Their financial management scared me; that and Bill Shorten being a union hack! They accused the Liberals of running a scare campaign. The scariest things in the campaign came out of the mouth of Bill Shorten:

  • Clamping down on family trusts. A BIG issue for me and about 800,000 other trusts that employ about 30% of Australians). The vast majority (over nine in ten) of Australian businesses are small businesses. They account for 33 per cent of Australia's GDP, employ over 40 per cent of Australia's workforce, and pay around 12 per cent of total company tax revenue. - Australian Government Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (2016). And the bulk of those are employed under family trusts.
  • Stealing the tax deducted from franked dividends from retirees. It would be like not returning the excess PAYG Tax that is deducted from Employees' wages. And that is not even delving into the evil of retrospective legislation!
  • An unexplained living wage (nice idea but how?)
  • Limiting a taxpayer to $ 3,000 (say only 10 hours) accountancy expenses against the millions of the ATO - a ridiculously unfair fight.
  • and the list goes on...
  • All attacks on the people who built or are building this country. True, it does not directly impact many Australians but I believe that enough Australians saw the inherrent unfairness of Labour's proposals and rejected them.

    That aside, I really like another aspect of the miscalculation of the polls. I did statistics at university and we covered polling and levels of confidence. Years and years ago I was staggered to read that some of the polls were done with about 1,000 respondents (the sample). With 16,424,248 enrolled to vote at this last election, that is a stupidly small sample. So not hard to see why they can be so wrong. Actually remarkable that they can be so close.

    But the aspect that I really like about the polls is the professional pundits, the Experts being wrong. The number of times in my life I have seen supposed Experts (especially business, ecomomics and environmental) saying stupid things and getting away with it because they are Experts. [Noted that at times I am one of those Experts.] I have seen the most expert judges in our land make stupid High Court decisions. And it gives me great joy to know that these highly intelligent and educated people can make such poor decisions. Great joy for me to know that lesser mortals (such as myself) can at times make a better decision than the elite.

    So don't accept that the experts are right all the time; they may be more fallible than you but they are almost certainly more fallible than the masses; the inherent strength of a democracy!

    Or was it just a conspiracy amount the media to elect a Labor government? Sell the public on the idea that a Labour government was an inevitability so just vote accordingly? Has the Australian media really gone to that level of subterfuge? Surely not.

    ARTICLE FROM SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

    How the bookies know who'll win next Saturday

    By Ross Gittins
    Sydney Morning Herald - 2004-10-04

    If you want to know who's likely to win next Saturday's federal election, don't consult the polls or ask an expert - ask a bookie.

    Of all the ways of predicting election results, the odds bookies quote on election eve are the most accurate. This message is slowly getting through to the public in this campaign, thanks to the proselytising of Dr Andrew Leigh, an economist at the Australian National University.

    It may sound like superstition or just casual observation but there's actually a fair bit of science behind it, as research by economists and psychologists is demonstrating.

    What it's saying is that there's such a thing as "collective intelligence" whereby the average guess of the group is more reliable than the opinion of some great expert.

    Just how this could be so is explained in a fascinating new book by James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, published by Little, Brown.

    But first ... in the 12 years it's been taking bets on the outcome of federal elections, Centrebet's odds - which, of course, are determined more by the weight of punters' bets than by the bookmaker - have been remarkably prescient.

    In the 2001 election, it took bets also on the results in 47 individual marginal electorates. The favourite came home in 43 of them.

    (This, by the way, says the collective wisdom of punters is outstanding but not infallible. In 1993, John Hewson lost the election as a short-priced favourite. Note, too, that the odds will change as the campaign proceeds and it's the final odds that are the most accurate. Even so, the odds don't bounce around as much as opinion polls do). The practical exploitation of the idea that punters' betting carried valuable information was pioneered by academics at the University of Iowa's business school. Their now well-known (but still small) Iowa Electronic Markets are online, real-money futures markets allowing you to make the equivalent of a bet on various future events, including elections.

    The IEM, too, has a most impressive forecasting record, though it erred in predicting that George Dubya would win the popular vote as well as the presidency in 2000. The market outperformed the polls in nine out of 15 cases.

    Surowiecki observes that, when we want to know what the future holds, we all have a tendency to "chase the expert" - we assume that the key is finding that one right person who'll have the answer.

    But there's growing evidence that however well-informed and sophisticated an expert is, his or her advice and predictions should be pooled with those of others to get the most out of him. The larger the group, the more reliable its judgment will be.

    Under the right circumstances, Surowiecki says, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.

    Groups do not need to be dominated by exceptionally intelligent people in order to be smart. Even if most of the people within a group are not especially well-informed or rational, it can still reach a collectively wise decision, he says.

    (You see from this that guesses about who'll win elections are just a minor application of the amazing phenomenon we're exploring).

    In the American version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a contestant who's stumped by a question has three choices: have two of the four multiple-choice answers removed, place a call to a predetermined friend who's very smart, or poll the studio audience, which immediately casts its vote by computer.

    The friendly experts come up with the right answer 65 per cent of the time - which does prove they're smart. But the poll of all the dumbos in the audience gets it right 91 per cent of the time.

    Experiments by psychologists and others show such a result is no fluke. One study asked 200 students to rank items by their weight. It found that the average ranking for the group was 94 per cent accurate, which was better than all but five of the individual guesses.

    A finance professor asked his class to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. The average of their guesses was 871; the right answer was 850. Only one of the 56 students made a better guess. This simple but startling result has been replicated many times.

    That professor was obviously a believer in the economists' efficient markets hypothesis. To them, an efficient financial market is one that's good at capturing all the available information and incorporating it into the market price.

    It's clear financial markets aren't always efficient, as any number of stockmarket crashes demonstrate. Even so, it's clear the hypothesis rests on a powerful truth.

    Surowiecki says it's the mathematical truism that if you ask a large enough group of diverse, independent people to make a prediction or estimate a probability, and then average those estimates, the errors each of them makes in coming up with an answer will cancel themselves out.

    Each person's guess has two components: information and error. Subtract the error and you're left with the information.

    The idea that crowds have a collective wisdom greater than the smartest individuals within them is one we find hard to swallow. We're much more comfortable with the notion of the madness of crowds. What about lynch mobs, rioters and looters?

    It's true crowds can be mad. That's why Surowiecki's claim is that crowds can be wise under the right circumstances.

    Which are? He says four conditions are necessary for crowds to produce wisdom:

    First, diversity of opinion. Each person should have some private information, even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.

    Second, independence. People's opinions should be independent of the opinions of those around them. So people who think alike because they're in the same profession won't do as well as a multi-disciplinary team.

    Third, decentralisation. People should be able to specialise in certain aspects of the problem and also be able to draw on their local knowledge.

    Fourth, aggregation. Some mechanism must exist for turning individual judgments into a collective prediction or decision.

    We believe that true intelligence resides in individuals and thus assume that averaging means dumbing down or compromising. Wrong! The crowd is blind to its own wisdom.

    Footnote: When last I looked, Centrebet was offering to pay $1.45 on a $1 bet that Howard would win but $2.55 if Latham wins. This says punters give Howard a 64 per cent chance of winning. [Howard won that election - JGP 2019-05-20]

    Ross Gittins is the Herald' Economics Editor.

    Posted 2019-04-07 - High Ground

    From the Oxford Dicationary: "To claim that your side of an argument is morally better than your opponents' side; to argue in a way that makes your side seem morally better."

    This is a concept that has served my conscience well in my life. When I fail to take the high ground, I feel in a weak position, that I have not done what could reasonably be expected of me as a good person. The danger in taking the higher ground is that I could be seen as being smug, feeling (morally) superior. That would be negative but (of course) it is not how I look at it.

    By me taking what I view as the higher ground, I believe I am doing better than what my primal instincts would have me do. It is about me being able to look back on a situation and know that I did my best. That I was the one who walked away from a fight that was only about ego; that I can apologise for the hurt I caused even though I believe what I did was the right; that I have been generous to a fault; that I admit my error when others may not.

    So how do I judge if I am doing this to be smug or because it is the right thing to do? If I do it out of love, then it is the right thing to do. Otherwise I know I am just being smug.

    From Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground
    I'm so darn glad he let me try it again
    Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
    I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
    Gonna keep on tryin'
    Till I reach the highest ground
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=QnbdXWvmysg

    Posted 2018-10-09 - Competition

    Competition is a great thing in life. It has inspired great advances in our civilisation and our own person. But there are some dangerous downsides of competition. Competition traditionally conjures up the image of winners and losers. And therein likes the danger.

    I have played a lot of sport and enjoyed the thrill of winning. The biggest thrill was winning against a good team; there was little to celebrate in beating a weak team. I always wanted to play against people who were better than me. My losing to them taught me more than winning against weak opponents. So with the right attitudes, Losers are also Winners.

    The negative part of competition is the I beat you mentality; the I am better than you (which you were until you thought that). There is an unhealthy dominance being expressed with this sentiment. The focus has changed from improving yourself to putting others down to elevate yourself. Being the best you can be does not require you to beat others.

    I have occasionally noticed someone has taken to pointing out my trivial errors or that I could have done something a better way. In one way I appreciate people pointing out those errors since it is often difficult for me to see my own errors; and it good to be aware of alternatives (as the critic should also be aware of alternatives to their ways). But sometimes I am concerned about the motive for such criticism. Is it the dominant alpha male (yes, always been another male) exerting himself? Is it lifting himself by putting down another. Is it done as a criticism (sniping) or out of love (to help)? I have seen this type of negative criticism come from the child to the parent, the student to the teacher, the player to the coach, the employee to the employer... The irony is that nearly all good parents, teachers, coaches and employers want their children, students, players and employees to be better than them; maybe something for you to think about how or why you offer some constructive criticism.

    Posted 2018-06-28 - Life's Journey

    Read a good article by Marcus Padley in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning:
    Pick something, anything, but just not nothing. If you choose nothing you will go nowhere, learn nothing and waste time. You need to start a journey, any journey and quite honestly it doesn't matter whether you get it right or wrong at first step, as long as you start, because any journey will, eventually, lead you to where you want to go.

    Yogi Berra:
    You have to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

    Lao Tsu:
    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    John Lennon:
    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans

    Posted 2018-04-15 - Success

    Many of us aspire to be successful in life. While there are different measures of success, the following is my guide.

    For me, our success is dependent on our Attitude (how we think and act) and Aptitude (the abilities we are gifted at birth).
    Attitude (persistance, integrity, industriousness, humility, love...) wins over Aptitude (intelligence, strength...).
    And the good news is that you can develop your Attitude easier than your Aptitude.
    Attitude and Aptitude - It is what I have looked for in Employees for decades. I am more interested in their ability to learn that what they know. Persistence solves more problems than intelligence. And if you have both, the world is your oyster.

    John Wooden was a very successful US Basketball Coach who was respected for not only his success on the court but also his personal integrity in life.

    Click here for a higher resolution PDF document

    Back on 2012-04-13 I received an email from Swen Nater, a basketballer of note who played under Coach John Wooden at UCLA. Swen, as were many in the basketball fraternity, was heavily influenced by Wooden. Here is his article How to Train Young People to be Successful at Work

    I work at Costco, in the corporate office. I've been here 17 years. I also played sports. I truly believe a sports coach can do much to help young people prepare to function successfully in a corporate office-type environment. By successfully I mean, be productive, be an asset, be likeable, help the company reach its goals, get promoted, and generally be happy. I wrote down twelve things I thought were necessary to be successful here. Then, one by one, I determined if sports could prepare a person in that area. In each case, it could.

    1. Discipline to get the job done right and on time
    2. Working hard
    3. Loving what you do
    4. Discovering how to improve and move up
    5. Being an effective member of a team that is working on something together
    6. Being at work and being on time
    7. Being creative
    8. Being subordinate
    9. Helping improve or change things
    10. Being responsible and dependable
    11. Knowing how to be led
    12. Knowing how to lead

    After I wrote them down, it hit me; John Wooden's Pyramid of Success covers many of these. So, I went back and entered the Pyramid traits (in parenthesis).

    1. Discipline to get the job done right and on time (DEPENDABILITY)
    2. Working hard (INDUSTRIOUSNESS)
    3. Loving what you do (ENTHUSIASM)
    4. Discovering how to improve and move up (AMBITION)
    5. Being an effective member of a team that is working on something together (TEAM SPIRIT, COOPERATION, FRIENDSHIP)
    6. Being at work and being on time (INTEGRITY)
    7. Being creative (RESOURCEFliNESS)
    8. Being subordinate (LOYALTY)
    9. Helping improve or change things (LOYALTY, COOPERATION, ALERTNESS)
    10. Being responsible and dependable (RELIABILITY)
    11. Knowing how to be led (LOYALTY, FAITH)
    12. Knowing how to lead (POISE, CONFIDENCE)

    I was so excited. Yeah! Through youth sports, The Pyramid can prepare someone to be a great worker and a great asset to any company. Cool! So go tell your child, Sign up for a team. Here's a Pyramid of Success. Take it with you and make sure you get all of these things out of it.

    That sounds silly, right? A child can't use the Pyramid of Success to prepare for the workplace; that's the coach's job. And I hear, some coaches have. If you know of someone who was trained in youth sports through the Pyramid, please call me. We want him or her at Costco.

    Thanks.
    Swen Nater

    Quotes on Success

    From 'The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants' by Anne Brashares.
    The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Got that?

    Anaconda, Angela (Kid's cartoon show)
    You can't drill for oil without going through the mud.

    Bach, Richard
    Argue for your limitations and they become yours.

    Churchill, Winston - UK Prime Minister
    A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

    Coolidge, Calvin
    Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

    Dali, Salvador
    Do not fear perfection, you will never achieve

    Edison, Thomas Alva (1847 to 1931)
    Show me a thoroughly satisfied man - and I will show you a failure.

    Einstein, Albert
    I do not consider myself to have any special talent. Curiosity, obsession, and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have led me to my ideas.

    Elbert Hubbard (American Philosopher)
    Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal.

    Epictetus (Philosopher)
    The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.

    Ford, Henry (1863-1947)
    Think you can, think you can't - either way you're right!

    Ford, Henry (1863-1947)
    Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

    Ford, Henry (1863-1947)
    It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.

    Ford, Henry (1863-1947)
    When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

    Frey, Amber
    In the end, it all comes to choices to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

    Gibbon, Edward
    The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.

    Jefferson, Thomas
    I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

    Korda, Michael
    The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you're playing by other people's rules while quietly playing by your own.

    Lombardi, Vince - Football coach
    Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.

    Lombardi, Vince - Football coach
    The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

    Lombardi, Vince - Football coach
    Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.

    Mother Teressa
    God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.

    Pryor, Michael
    Winners put in an extra mile for the extra inch.

    Rudyard Kipling (from Jungle Book)
    For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

    Thoreau, Henry David
    Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

    Turner, Ed
    Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.

    Unknown
    Success is getting up one more time than you fall.

    Unknown
    Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.

    Unknown
    If you want your dreams to come true, you must not oversleep.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

    Wooden, John - Basketball and Life Coach
    Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

    Posted 2018-04-14 - Interdependence

    Australia Sentator Lucy Gichuhi on joining the Liberal Party:
    The enemy of the best is the good. Independence can be very good, however in my view, interdependence is much better.
    I really like her attitude.

    Independence is what makes an individual good but interdependence (mutual reliance) is what makes a team the best.

    Wikipedia article on Interdependence

    Posted 2018-02-19 - ISO 8601 - GETTING WITH THE TIMES (and DATES)

    Aside from my horiffic introduction to computers (manually punched cards) at university (1973-1974), I started working full-time with computers in 1981 and had my own personal computer in 1984. My oldest computer document is from 1987. From my very early days. I have used the date format yymmdd to automatically date-sort my documents on computers (Microsoft had restricted us to 8-character filenames with a 3-character extension). In 1988 in the lead up to the Y2K debacle, ISO obviously caught up with what I (and I figure many computer orientated people) was doing and came up with its own IS 8601. Since 2012, I have been encouraging others to do likewise.

    In Summary,...

    In a Picture - courtesy of Randall Munroe (http://www.xkcd.com/)

    The prime advantages of ISO 8601 are:

    All of us operating internationally know the confusion that arises from representing the date as 12-11-10. The British would interpret this as 12 November 2010, the Americans as 11 December 2010 and the Chinese as 10 November 2012.

    ISO 8601 represents the date as yyyy-mm-dd and the time in a 24-hour format hh:mm:ss.

    In a fairly basic form, 9:12:15 am on 24 September 2012 would be represented as 2012-09-24 09:12:15. Since the ":" is not an permissble character for Windows computers, I use the ISO date format 2012-09-24 09.12.15 in filenames. And you will notice a lot of computer programs are using this logically consistent format (eg. auto-sorting of documents).

    Time Intervals can use the double -- (hypen) or the / (called a slash, forward slash or solidus). e.g. 2009--2010 or 2009/2010. I still typically use the single dash (as most people do) since I have not encountered ambiguity using what everyone else does. Yes, I have often been known just to do things differently for the sake be experiencing something different but not much to be gained by that on this occassion.

    As you may guess, there is more to the standard than outlined above.

    Posted 2017-11-25 - The Indispensible Man

    This poem I heard long ago has helped keep my self-importance in check and be more humble.

    Saxon White Kessinger (1959)

    Sometime when you're feeling important;
    Sometime when your ego's in bloom
    Sometime when you take it for granted
    You're the best qualified in the room,

    Sometime when you feel that your going
    Would leave an unfillable hole,
    Just follow these simple instructions
    And see how they humble your soul;

    Take a bucket and fill it with water,
    Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
    Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
    Is a measure of how you'll be missed.

    You can splash all you wish when you enter,
    You may stir up the water galore,
    But stop and you'll find that in no time
    It looks quite the same as before.

    The moral of this quaint example
    Is do just the best that you can,
    Be proud of yourself but remember,
    There's no indispensable man.

    Posted 2017-10-15 - The Importance of Love

    As most who know the Christian side of my life, I believe the central tenet is very clearly put to us in:

    Matthew 22 (NIV) - The Greatest Commandment
    34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
    35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
    36 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
    37 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
    38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
    39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.
    40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

    These are the words I now aspire to live my life by. And yes I do fail. There is not much love in my words or actions when I am shouting at my wife during an argument. I am human, not an excuse but a recognition of my imperfections.

    But Love is such a vague word, one used in so many ways, so abused, etc. So can I find the definitions in the dictionary? I can, but I find the definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13 is the definitive version. If only I could love like this...
    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
    8 Love never fails...
    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    Posted 2017-10-14 - Words to Live By - Desiderata

    This was written by a Methodist-raised Lawyer, Mark Ehrmann, back in 1927 but was virtually unknown in his lifetime; he died in 1945. I first heard it as a song by Les Crane in 1971. Yep, they played to death what they then thought was a 1652 poem put to song.
    More about it on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderata

    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.

    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann

    Posted 2015-12-25 Christmas 2015

    What a fantastic year 2015 has been for me and I trust likewise for you!

    It is nearly 3 years since my heart attack and in many ways I am now stronger than before that. My weight has dropped from 150 kg (330 kg) to 110 kg (242 lb), significantly improving my power to weight ratio. My strength and endurance is back to what it used to be as demonstrated by my 25 km cycle the other week. But the heart attack still leaves an indelible mark on me. To continue with the very good quality of life I now enjoy means keeping to my commitment of lots of exercise, careful eating and close management of my overall health. I still need to lose at least another 10 kg (22 lb), perhaps 20 kg (44 lb).

    Back in May I turned 60 and spent a couple of weeks having a mid-life crisis (meaning of life sort of stuff). It may sound morbid, but I decided the next important thing in my life is my death (already gone so close). Steve Jobs said Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. And so it has been with me.

    And through it all I am surrounded by my wonderful family. Erida (21?) has completed her enrolled nursing course in addition to being a full time mother and wife. Michael (22) spent 5 months travelling around Australia learning about life and himself. Michelle (19) has had a very ordinary year but (hopefully) is a little wiser. Frederik (11) won the Citizenship award for his grade at primary school. And little Felicity (8) is now so little any more. My Mum (91) is still living with us but continuing to slow down...

    And it continues to amazes me how many good people I have surrounding me; close friends and friends from my community, church and industry. I thank you all for our friendship.

    Mostly 2015 has been quiet year for my work. Except for 10 weeks in Sep, Oct & Nov when I spent 40 nights away in 6 countries, 14 cities and 14 flights. Hectic schedule but I reconnected with many old acquaintances. Again, thank you to all for your hospitality during my travels.

    Most of the last 3 weeks has been spent moving out of my 15-year old office into a new room (at the same address). A excellent opportunity to re-organise my office for my current needs and clean out what I no longer need.

    I am so excited for 2016. There are a few things planned but as usual more will unfold as the year gets underway.
    And may your wishes turn to reality in 2016 but be careful what you wish for.

    I leave you with Michael Josephson's extension of Stephen R Covey's maxim: You are what you are today because of the choices you made yesterday, and the choices you make today will make you what you are tomorrow.

    Posted 2015-12-11 Controlling Your Character

    As John Wooden said: Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are. Today I again saw this old Chreokee tale about how we can develop our character if we so choose.

    One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
    The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: Which wolf wins?

    The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.

    Posted 2015-12-07 The Art of Giving

    Today my son Michael re-taught me an important lesson on the Art of Giving. I asked Michael to help me. He said I don't want to help but I will. After a while, I said that he was not helpling me properly and we had an argument. Michael said But I have been helping you. I have done this and that.... I was angry and told him I did not want his help and he went away.

    Later that day I calmed down and reflected on the day. Michael was right. He had been helping me, sort of. But I identified the source of my anger as being my frustatration at his attitude. He was an unwilling helper. He was giving his time but not his heart. And then I remembered the phrase The Lord loves a cheerful giver that is so often quoted in Churches at the time of offering. So I went to my bible and read:

    2 Corinthians 9:
    (6) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
    (7) Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
    (8) And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
    (9) As it is written: They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.

    Wow! It is not good enough to give but we should do it with a cheerful heart. And that is the art of giving. And our motivation should not be that we will reap generously (the Christian version of Karma). It should be because it is the right thing to do. So give freely, not grudgingly; smiling, not frowning, generously, not miserly.

    And then I reflected on my life. Do I always give freely? No. Too often I grumble when helping my wife Erida with her computer problems I have shown you this before... Sometimes I am doing things for my 91-year old Mother out of duty rather than out of love. So with this re-found awareness I will now try to do better.

    Posted 2015-10-18 Gratitude

    A lady who worked at the post office was approached by a customer who said, I can't write. Would you mind addressing this postcard for me? After addressing it for her and writing a short message, the postal clerk asked, Is there anything else I can do for you, madam?

    The woman thought for a moment and said, Yes, could you add a P.S. at the end saying, Please excuse the sloppy handwriting.

    Posted 2015-09-22 For the Mathematicians

    √(-1) 23 ∑ ∏ and it was delicious.

    Posted 2015-08-18 - Statue of St David after 3 years in the USA

    Had a laugh at this one so thought I would post it here.

    Posted 2015-07-30 I Asked and God Gave Me...

    Today I found this little gem (thanks Jimmy Teo) on how we can look at life...

    Bhuddist saying: To reject suffering is to reject life.

    Posted 2015-07-20 from Singapore - My Legacy - My One (Last) Thing

    I now have a clarity in my life, a sense of purpose, direction. See My One (Last) Thing - My Legacy

    Posted 2015-07-05 Web Site Updates

    Finally started adding some of the content I really want. Also got a video working for the first time on a web site.

    Piece on Priorities added and one on the One Thing

    Posted 2015-05-28 Cameras and UFOs

    Having taken an interest in UFOs in my teens (inspired by my Dad), this cartoon has a significant message.

    This is from the XKCD web site http://xkcd.com/ which has lots of interesting, quirky cartoons.

    Posted 2015-05-27 My 60th Birthday

    HEALTH

    Today I have reached a milestone that I thought I might not have made back on Thu 2013-01-17. That was the day I was rushed to hospital in Seoul, South Korea with a heart attack. Fortunately I survived that in much the same way I have cheated death with two near drownings and a near fatal car accident (I came within 18" of death but escaped unharmed). Plus there will have been other occasions that I may have been close to death without knowing it. "By the grace of God go I". I am here more through good luck that good management.

    But the heart attack had a more profound effect on me. For one, it literally knocked me off me feet. The recovery process had been steady but slow. Then, last 2015-11-20 they admitted me to Royal Perth Hospital for a week of treatment. They drained 20 kg of fluid off me. 10 kg of that was over the first night via a needle stuck in my stomach. Being (almost) instantly 20 kg lighter improved my health dramatically. Since then I have been on a regular gym and exercise program. My progress over the past 6 months has been spectacularly good. A 10 km cycle is relatively easy and I am able to do bush walking.

    GRATITUDE - My Fortunate Life

    While still a flawed character, 60 years has made me a more loving, forgiving and compassionate person. I am filled with gratitude for what I receive in life; both the good and the occasional bad that develops me. Each day of my life I have been blessed with food, shelter clothing and someone who loves me (and vice versa). On top of that I have a wonderful wife & family and a few close friends. I cherish the close relationships that have developed from my work, sport and community. It is truly amazing the opportunities I have had and taken. I have worked in 26 countries and experienced the people and culture of over 30 countries. And now to be back living in idyllic Perth.

    THE FUTURE

    There is still more for me to do. My heart attack a couple of years ago was a setback but also a time of reflection. Ironically it very likely has extended my life. I am now my lightest in 20 years, fitter, more active and in many ways healthier. I am still out cycling and did 15 km the other day. I look to keep working though not the 60 to 70 hour weeks I used to. Maintaining my health is the priority now and then my family.

    When I look at my own life, I only see how fortunate I have been. Unfortunately, it is not the case for so many people and that is the great sadness in life. Too many people do not even have the basics of food, shelter and clothing. So I look to give back more to the world that has given me so much.

    MY BIRTHDAY WISH FOR YOU

    May you have or find the same contentment (or better) with your lives. Love, forgive and be compassionate. May your God be with you and you with God.

    Posted 2015-05-20 Re-Writing Web Sites

    A good portion of the past 2 weeks has been spend in re-writing my web sites (conversion to HTML 5 and general spring cleaning). Heading to changes in my work life and needed to rewrite those sites. Opened a can of worrms and ended up going through all my web sites including revamping this, my personal one.