Note 1: Later
entries to Thor's Unwise Ideas
is now being duplicated on a blog of the same name at http://thorsunwiseideas.byeways.net (however
it will take quite a while to copy all the entries to that site)
Briefer in form, but closely related in tenor to the Unwise Ideas is the collection called Thor's Brief Ideas
on this site, and now a separate blog accumulating the latest ones, called Thor's Short Cuts at http://thorshortcuts.byeways.net/
Thor's Take on Religion can be found as an e-book (about 20,000 words) titled The Agnostic's Survival Manual
. A pdf version is also
online. A third copy (pdf) may be found at my Academia.edu site.
59. Super-Culture And The Ghost In The Machine
essay is a bit mischievous, and apparently politically incorrect enough to have
sparked outrage in the minds of some sensitive souls from the polite dinner
party set. Although it has no claims to academic decency, I have preserved it
online as a stimulant to fancier research, since I think the metaphor the essay
runs on captures some essential truths.
The essay had
its genesis in the startled observations of a fresh expatriate teaching in
foreign surrounds. In this case, it was the PNG University of Technology, Lae, Papua
New Guinea in 1987. I found my untried
liberal conscience struggling to comprehend the sheer incompetence of people
faced with institutions and technology which didn't seem to work. Many of the
locals were bright and friendly enough, but somewhere a spark of insight was
missing. Much later, surveying Australia
with the naked eyes of a returnee, it was all too clear that the paralysis of
imagination was a universal problem.
Vu and Wicked Stories
is just a grumble about living in a world of predictable villainy and
occasional charm. As pretty as snowflakes piling up on a bleak field, I've
accumulated a passable knowledge of world history and international affairs
(especially Asian). Yet snow is snow, while the seven deadly sins don't really
change their cloaks regardless of the weather. No matter where I look and no
matter at what time in history, the same underlying stories play out. Good
ideas/ideals get subverted by the bad guys (in fact, one-time good guys are apt
to be bought out and enlisted in the Evil Empire of the age), wealth funnels to
the few, classes are entrenched, sex is exploited, trust evaporates ... If you
are young enough, you KNOW that this sorry tale was yesterday: NOW the possibilities
are different, right? Why else would we tune into the story again each morning?
The grumpy elder speaks: in truth, NOW the possibilities are worse, but
only because the number of players (world population) is destructively larger
and the tools of oppression chillingly more efficient. The Muse sooths us:
just to keep things ticking over, "Good", whatever that is,
always fights back and the whole cycle of heroism and romance starts over.
Anchluss or ANZAC? - A Solution for Taiwan
What would be
the consequences, to follow a crazy thought experiment, if the Peoples Republic
of China were to formally renounce all claims to sovereignty over Taiwan?
Well, at first there would be a very confused Chinese public in the PRC and a
desperate need for some inspired domestic persuasion out of Beijing. However,
once that contradiction had been finessed (they've had tougher knots to untie),
my guess is that within a short time Taiwan would become China's best friend
and ally. They have so much in common. A free Taiwan choosing between America
and China? No contest. Of course they would choose China. Taiwan has already
shown the world what its enterprise can achieve under conditions of great
handicap. Give its people back their hope and spirit, then Taiwan would be the
best little brother that China could ever wish for. China would win immense
international respect and trust. It truly would be on the fast track in that
new Great Game, the contest for competence.
56. Choose When to Live and When to Die
The more your spirit lives in a culture, the more you get
what you pay for. After all, the culture has evolved, or perhaps been
manufactured, to satisfy people just like you. Blessed are the average amongst
us. Maybe your accepted culture has you salivating over a delicious dinner
photographed on the plastic packet of a snap frozen supermarket meal. You will
microwave the dubious mess inside the packet and suck it up. By the time you
suck it up, your mind is on TV football or a soapy anyway. Such is one kind of
happiness. If your culture is a millenium old and tells you that meat (or
whatever) is unclean, you will smother some overcooked vegetables in curry and
wash them down with a litre of Coca Cola to prove that you are up with the
times. Such is progress.
These notes have not been written for average people in any known
culture. 'Culture' is shorthand for a rough consensus on the grab-bag of
events, habits, attitudes and actions that make up daily living. Once you start
to ask questions about any of this stuff, you are stepping outside of the
consensus. You are no longer average. You are alone in the big bad world, and
there is nothing heroic about it because probably there is no one there to
clap. So these notes are about non-average survival, specifically my own. Take
what looks useful, ignore the rest. ...
55. If a Market is Not a Market
Invisible Hand has been having a rough time of it lately. This is very
interesting. Since the management professional class was invented by James
Burnham in 1941, this priesthood has claimed to interpret the will of The
Invisible Hand for the unwashed masses. However, like most priesthoods, they
soon began to invent a self-serving scripture. A major tool of the invented
economic scripture, as played by the sect of Investment Managers, has been
Invented Magical Markets, operating beneath the veil of Public Markets and
known only to the chosen few. Pretty early in the game of modern capitalism, it
was seen that insider trading (or what I have called an Invented Market) was
toxic to Public Markets. Solemn rules were therefore promulgated against
insider trading. Ha ha. What a forlorn exercise. The enforcers were that very
class of the economic priesthood most likely to benefit from violation of the
rules. The history of economic booms and busts for two hundred years now has
been a tale of new ways to pull off insider trading in hidden Invented Magical
Flower and The Secret Fan
Wendi Deng (邓文迪 ), from China magically
fell into the pan-national world of international business and married the
media billionaire Rupert Murdoch, (who had abandoned Australia for the same
stateless realm of five star hotels), at once we recognized that age old story
of the gold digger and the sugar daddy. Perhaps though our belief in a simple
storyline was, if not wrong, at least incomplete. Origins matter after all.
As a teacher to young women in Zhengzhou,
central China for three years recently, I could sense the conflicting
currents of duty, ambition and the hope for love that tossed them about in
relationships. The mix for each modern girl was individual, and Deng herself is
a product of those choices. It is surely no accident then that Wendi Deng and
another high profile Chinese-American transplant, Florence Sloan, were
co-producers of Snow Flower and the
Secret Fan, a film which deals directly, though often through a veil
of tears, with just these dilemmas.
The film is a fairly free adaptation of Lisa See’s now widely
praised novel of the same name. What follows here are some personal reactions
to the film, plus a few references to the book, which I have not read yet (some
published reviews about the book are pasted at the end of these notes). Snow
Flower and the Secret Fan is a film about relationships between women. It
also highlights the conflict between feminine friendship and how each woman
deals with the men in her life. Partly because of the Chinese historical
context, the dimension of affection between men and women gets little attention
in the film, which makes a jarring contrast with the world many of us like to
think we live in today (even if we are deluded). However, the film’s director,
Wayne Wang, has done a masterful job of bringing to life the relationships
between two pairs of women. The first pair, Snow Flower (Korean actress, Gianna
Jun) and Lily (Li Bing Bing), were both born in 1823 and tied into a lifelong
feminine sworn bond called lau tong (老同),
which may have been more emotional and stronger than the man-woman contract of
marriage in 19th Century Qing China. The second pair are two young
and ambitious women in today’s Shanghai, Sophia and Nina, equally enmeshed in a lifelong but
tempestuous bond of friendship.
53. The South Pacific and Someone’s Restaurant at the End of
Restaurant at the End of the Universe is where we all hope to be on that
expansive Friday evening when the curtain comes down for the last encore. There
they are, that motley collection from history, lounging over their drinks,
singing, weeping, roaring with laughter, for what else can you do when there
are to be no tomorrows? So this, Earth Mother, is why we put up with those
damned foreigners for countless millennia : the privilege of a seat in Luigi’s
Galactic Cafe on a spaceship escaping to oblivion.
the meantime, a few tens of millennia back in Milky Way’s time warp, you and I
still have to scheme for tomorrow. This discussion paper is one Australian’s
unvarnished view of his neighbourhood. If it wounds a tender spot here and
there, call the writer a fool and chalk up a debt against him for drinks at the
last gasp in Luigi’s. But try to find an idea or two in here as well, for if we
stop communicating this vibrant planet will be a dead planet long before the
musicians take a bow.
51. Managers: Getting It Done, Or Your Gift For Mine? - An Echo
from the Philippines
meeting a man who, without asking, gave you gifts of great value. At first you
might be pleased, though a little embarrassed since you had nothing of obvious
value to offer him in return. However, this man had no interest in whatever
humble things you might proffer anyway, but each day insisted on giving you new
gifts. Shortly you would probably begin to resent the fellow, and wonder if you
were merely a vehicle for promoting his glory (yes, there are echoes with
religion in this business too). The sullen students that I meet have had the
gift of education shoved down their throats for most of their short lives. They
are held captive to receive this gift, and are considered ingrates if they
question it at all. The human spirit would be entirely dead if they were not
simmering with revolt...
50. Why Write A PhD?
internal rules in universities rules which define a PhD invariably say that it
must be an original contribution to human knowledge. Ground breaking
dissertations have indeed been written from time to time. In fact though, few
PhDs amount to some grand, original contribution to human knowledge. Many
dissertations do include fresh assemblies of data, which may or may not be useful
to someone. However, the interpretation of the data found within these
documents is rarely original, except in a trivial sense...
49. Cultural Operating Systems
those who wish to keep their "cultural operating systems", like the
Korean or Russian or Thai or French, "pure", closed, proprietary,
without outside influence, I say you are in great danger. Maybe your closed
cultural system was elegant and refined. Maybe it has a glorious past history.
But it ultimately comes from an earlier human civilization of small, savage
tribal groups. Now we humans are many, crowded on a small planet, and
communicating with everyone instantly. We need a different design, and that has
to be an Open System.
48. Somebody Else's Problem
The Peoples Republic
has many faces, and its inhabitants come in every imaginable shade of
character. The seven deadly sins are richly represented, and a healthy bouquet
of virtues can be found as well. There are however some constants in public
life. Whoever the PRC belongs to, it is not Joe Wang and Molly Liu on Jiefang
Lu in any of the 700 cities or countless thousands of villages. It probably
isn’t the old men in Zhongnan Hai either, or even the Black Hands that shadow
every lucrative trade. Perhaps, in the tradition captured so well by Douglas
Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , the place is really owned by
some prissy field mice wheeling a UFO above the Yellow
River plains. In any case, it is totally predictable in every
imaginable situation that in China
nobody traceable is responsible for anything, ever. more
contest for Competence
some people don't break the rules sometimes, then a normal society will cease
to function. Breaking the wrong rules for the wrong reasons is like breaking
legs though. And if everyone breaks the rules, then a society will
disintegrate. A paradox? Yes. See how this cake is baked...
End of Capitalism is Announced
the crookedest brains in Moscow, Beijing and Washington
didn’t want to make a system that worked for you or me. Has anyone
managed to do it? Well, yes, more or less, for brief moments in history.
Virtue, like vice, is a temporary affair with unpredictable outcomes....
Games Under Heaven
the world art mad but thou and I. So it seems. The collective mind of peoples as
nations expressed either through the ballot box or by the voice of the emperor
(L’Etat c’est moi) seems
erratic at best in most locales...
thousand miles of desert,
Ten thousand miles of shimmering heat.
and Overt Values
patterns are often phrased as value statements. Ask someone what it means to be
Chinese and they may offer you a list of virtues (this kind of response is the
same in every culture). The virtues they state for you will be OVERT values —
those actions and beliefs that are publicly approved in the culture. In
practice the real shape of the society also includes behaviour driven by COVERT
values. In fact, for several reasons covert values are usually a far better
predictor of where a society is going than overt values... more
42. Life, Content Management Systems, and the Answer to Everything
time to time I have picked at CMS/blog machines, and wondered how to migrate
the now denigrated "static" html of my sprawling site to the tidy
content of databases. The main attraction has been the incorporation of some
way to give readers a voice, assuming there are any readers left out there. A
few years ago, they used to send a steady stream of e-mails, but now expect
something more instant and public. The voices have fallen silent.... more
dishcloth has landed. It was unfair, but the phrase kept nibbling at my ear,
one of those ear-worms like an advertising jingle. Maybe that was the problem.
I have never met the man, and the TV cut of an election victory speech is not
the best way to get someone at their avuncular best....
40. Managing Downward Spirals - Getting from Here to There
will you be here tomorrow? Seg back twenty years and all the news was of a
planet overrun by recklessly breeding humans. Today in the media of rich
nations, the slightly hysterical whisper is that liberated women are on a baby
strike and we’ll all be doomed to robot care in our old age. This downward
spiral of fertility is an almost sedate affair in the grand scheme of things.
Compare it to the supposed disappearance of dinosaurs after the nuclear winter
from earth's traffic accident with a giant meteor. People though, count for
more than dinosaurs, don't they...
39. North Korea - Pick Your Godfather
friendly neighbourhood supermarket checkout girl greeted me with a joke about
emigrating to Australia.
Geopolitics is not the currency of daily conversation in this small, sleepy
city in central South Korea,
so clearly something was up....
38. The Doctor's Dilemma - Reading versus Active Experience
ago (1967) in a freshman literature class, in response to one of my jabs the
tutor asked sarcastically if I thought I was an educated person. For her that
meant quoting a canon of classic English literature. Even then I thought
that like the rest of us, she was an 'uneducated person'. I was damn sure
she wouldn't have a clue how to start her car with a wet distributor. I remain
irredeemably uneducated in vast areas of human interest ...
37. Some Mysteries of Language Learning
expert is a fool a thousand miles from home. Having successfully failed to
learn about nine languages, I’m a veteran language learning imbecile, always a
thousand miles from success, and an eternally hopeful beginner. I’ve also had
the cheek to teach my native language to hopeful novices for over thirty years,
which sometimes leads them and others to mistake me for a wannabe guru. The
sheer hypocrisy of this dilemma should condemn me to embarrassed silence
forever, yet I persist probing the reasons and remedies for my own language
learning incompetence. After all, my exasperated search is surely shared by
millions of others. The discussion which follows is informal, but makes serious
points. It builds on an original e-mail exchange with a correspondent in 2005.
I Saw Two Foreigners Kissing!
I've got something to tell you; listen up please. Yesterday, I went to Haeundae Beach. And I saw two foreigners kissing
each other right in front of me... It was a real scene ^^ . I was
35. Why Our Schools Are Failing (... are they?)
many ways "mass education" is a contradiction in terms ..
34. Ethnicity and Racism - Stirring the Pot
course, I have some sentimental interest in England,
because that is where my ancestors came from, but I would never consider England to be
my home. Ethnic "Koreans" born in Australia
will have some sentimental interest in Korea,
but they are unlikely to feel that they "belong" in Korea...
- Whose Final Choice?
a student asks my direct opinion, I try to give an honest answer. It is not
always easy. Try this one...
32 A Harvest of Souls - Talking to Those Other Fools
Bushites were able to marry anti-intellectualism to a faith based movement.
Faith corrupts, and absolute faith corrupts absolutely...
Article removed from the Internet
End of War
1945 the atom bombs used by Americans seemed to make any future atomic wars
between states unthinkable (not that the leaders of nation states have ever
stopped thinking about just that). Now any failed state with a chemical
fertilizer factory can probably achieve the same devastation...
29. The American Beacon of Post-Industrial Failure
Darth Vader face of America
also has its analogues on every continent. The especially horrible aspect of
the American Darth Vader though is that it forces its way into the lives of all
the Earth's other peoples, squawking with electronic self-righteousness that it
is the harbinger of freedom...
Case for Favoritism
there are men and women who have obtained their jobs unfairly. They are legion,
and the burden of their incompetence has sunk countless companies and
economies. Yet amongst their number are individuals of great ability, who
lacking beauty, mediocrity or some other qualification of 'meritorious
selection' by average fools, would never have had the chance to exercise their
gifts without the unfair intervention of some wiser sponsor..
to Get The Degree You Want OR Are You A Fake?
you a fake? This was the engaging header on an e-mail which recently arrived in
my mailbox. Well, I admit to a fake tooth, but I think the rest of me is as
real as real can be. Truth to tell, the odds are good that the world in general
doesn't give a damn if I'm plastic, ivory or Martian rock. Still, the writer
had in mind a qualification...
26. So You Wanna' Write a Poem??
watched as he carefully unwrapped his little bundle from a scarlet kerchief, and
spread it out on the dirt floor before our altar. It was given with a good
heart, we could see. But we sighed. That sigh of a god who is sick to death of
gifts of chicken feathers, and milk, and honey. Should we tell him? Damn it all
man, we want GOLD ......
25. Third World Minds
The Third World is a state of mind. It is not a geographical
place. It is not the plumbing in a man's house. The geographical place may be a
stage for Third World living, and the plumbing may be a symptom of Third World limits.
"Third World" itself though, if the
metaphor is to be predictive at all, is a collection of designs for living --
that is, cultures -- which dominate the thinking of particular, critical masses
and the Constituencies of Dissent
is waging war on a certain category of terrorists, notably those posing a
threat to current American interests. That is a credible and normal objective
for a nation state. Further, the United States has also declared
that it will ignore the sovereign rights and interests of all other states and
peoples in pursuing such terrorists. This is neither wise nor defensible...
Paradox of Scholarship: Pissing On Every Lamp Post
is that process of becoming familiar with, ordering, and acknowledging the
thinking of earlier workers in a particular line of inquiry. It can easily
become a lifetime task. The process is obviously valuable. Subduing the
arrogance of an ignorant mind (especially one's own) is very healthy.
Scholarship not only helps to avoid past mistakes and save the waste of
"reinventing the wheel", but can also be a stimulus for new and more
sophisticated ideas about a topic.
the largest body of scholarship always remains inert, not only failing
to stimulate new ideas, but actually forming a bulwark against the intrusion of
22. Gender Puzzle
differences are the great distractor, source of misery, spice and occasional
joy, but to make the most of more important human things, not shared by dogs, cats
and goldfish, you have to settle for some kind of working compromise on gender
relationships. One of the nice things I've found about being fifty-six is that
it is at last occasionally possible to talk to a woman without both sides
secretly (or not so secretly) sizing up the sexual equation...
this moment I looked around the carriage, and a chill went through my body. Of
all those passengers, not a single one showed the slightest signal that one of
their number had collapsed, and might be in mortal danger. The bodies remained
lax, the eyes unfocussed, the woman on the floor invisible to their attention.
It was surreal.
disbelief gave way to outrage, and throwing decorum to the winds, in a loud
voice I demanded in English, "SOMEBODY CALL A DOCTOR". Nobody looked
at me, but an uneasy twitch rippled through the crowd...
20. Star Wars Revisited
ourselves for a while that Star Wars had gone away. We pretended that flower
power was winning. But in our heart of hearts, in our 3 a.m. nightmares, we
knew that no toy of destruction, once conceived of, has ever been left to
Grammar – Suspecting The God Of Cracks Between The Floorboards
flight of a bird is not in wings, but in the shape of the space-time enclosed
by each wing from instant to instant. In other words, flight is a grammar of
relationships. An infinite variety and number of wings may participate in this
grammar of flight relationships, but it is the grammar alone which remains
Is It Rude To Be Rude?
(Korean translation also available)
global social change, the transmigration of millions of people within and
across national boundaries, and the internationalization of employment have all
made the preservation of social harmony both more important and more difficult.
The traditional dependence upon formulaic politeness persists, but the swift
punishment which might have followed violations of form in traditional
societies is no longer sensible. In a dynamic and ever changing world, we wish
each other well, but pause after each handshake to see if the other fellow is
holding an olive branch or a gun behind his back....
Activism: Truth & False Prophets
personal legacy of this Vietnam
consciousness raising in young adulthood was a lifelong skepticism about power
and the would-be powerful. But there were other spin-offs too. One was the
assumption that the causes adopted by the educated youth of the age, that is,
the students, would always be in the vanguard of enlightenment. That is
certainly how students would prefer to see themselves.
accumulated experience and a wider reading of history, has made me increasingly
skeptical of the proposition that students are typically in the vanguard of
anything but their own fashion statements. Sometimes they are on the side of
the angels, but just as often they are dupes...
16. Individualism or the Group?
typical naive set of assumptions about "group oriented" cultures it
that the participants within them are basically altruistic, self-effacing,
self-sacrificing and sociable. A society of such individuals should exhibit the
very best of human civilization working in equitable, democratic communities.
By contrast, those from individualistic cultures should be cold, grasping,
selfish, egotistical and almost incapable of the cooperation demanded by a
civil society. Indeed, a society of individualists, by this stereotype would be
a dog eat dog affair, dedicated to conflict, riven with disloyalty and
betrayal, forever failing to build a stable and humanistic community.
let´s take a plane trip and look at the real world. Better, like me, let´s work
for a while in a fair sampling of both supposed archetypes of culture. What do
we find? We find that the real social content behind those supposedly
individualistic and group-oriented labels is drastically at variance with the
15. Virtue Rewards Confucian Communists(?)
now this business of Rule by Virtue. Virtue's Reward is indeed an ancient and
potent principle. Machiavelli and Confucius would both approve. The problem
confronting all ambitious men and women on grasping power is how to discourage
upcoming competitors. Ruthless opportunism which has been so successful for the
winner must be discounted somehow. Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown,
and never more so than in a community without rules. The Chinese crown nowadays
is definitely made of thorns..
14. Why Grasshoppers Don't Have a Problem
whole populations enter a downward spiral of lethargy, neglect and failure, so
that by the minimal criteria of maintaining a mere animal population they begin
to fall by the wayside. Grasshoppers and, say, fungal viruses, seem to have no
such problem. What do humans need that grasshoppers don't in order to remain
energetic, goal directed and productive? ...
how about your own pain? Could you do without it? You will fight to the death
to keep your comfort zone, yet the edge of pain defines and heightens your
sense of the real. Without it you would live in cotton-wool land, the mere
shadow of a living creature. And here is one of the great paradoxes of life. We
crave, as it were, the knowledge of pain, but shrink from its sensation. At the
point of pain our courage fails us, we flee, or paralysed by fear, we surrender
all autonomy and submit in misery to the conqueror....
Case for Political Impotence
most successful democracies seem to be those in which the office of president
and/or prime minister carry strictly limited authority. These are not jobs for
Great Men, but for corporate managers who can make reasonable decisions in an
orderly manner, cheer the team along a bit, and keep an eye on the main game...
Conundrum of Men & Women
in the backblocks of unreconstructed macho males and pumpkin scone women they
never had a problem. They played the eternal seasons of struts and giggles,
infatuated romance, white weddings, bawling babies, economic drudgery, drink
and abuse, spreading waistlines, kitchen divorce and dad's shed up the
backyard. Was it so different, after all, from some middle-eastern religious
proscription on the genders?
too late to play the game again, we realized our mistake. Regretted that nature
had been politically incorrect and unfair in the apportionment of talent...
as a Subversive Activity
the teacher. A teacher's role is to induce new knowledge into the knowledge
systems of other beings. A desperate task, universally unwelcome to the owners
of those working systems, no matter that they willfully put themselves in harms
way by enrolling for a "course" in this or that. Until the moment of
having to learn new knowledge, it doesn't occur to them that a threat to old
knowledge is being posed. They bite, swallow a mouthful of the new stuff, and
gag. It's foreign matter...
9. Nation States and Other Extremities
state as an instrument of power will always be hostile in its purpose and
ultimately corrupt in its methods. The nation-state, so conceived, has serious
limitations. The state as an instrument of service has always had trouble
maintaining the integrity of its service because its agents have always
succumbed to the methods of power...
acid bath of fear will quickly reduce our average man to average savagery,
whatever the price of his suit. It follows that every situation, organization
or government which subsists by some degree of fear will harbour captive agents
to spread its terror...
- Do They Work?
common experience of every adult is that the stated principles in a culture
frequently fail to match the outcomes that they claim to promote, and indeed
often seem to generate results that either contradict or block the realization
of their intent. Why?...
6. Good Man, Bad Man
conclusion which I am drawn to then, is that, as with most natural phenomena,
the tendencies to "goodness" and "badness" follow a normal
distribution curve in the population. I sense that beneficence is favoured in
the largest number of individuals (maybe an outgrowth of the need to nurture),
but only favoured weakly. That is, most people are easily lead astray either by
misinformation, or by temptations of money, status, sex, ambition etc. However,
their attachment to "evil" is likely to be as weak as their
attachment to "good"...
5. The Art of Disproportion
how does a writer differ from the language makers all around him, the cacophony
of chatterers? By writing a symphony. The disproportions of our conversation
are artless, for where there are patterns they are unconscious, and where there
is significance, it is selfish. The writer is able to create patterns of
disproportion which create newly defined significance. He marshals the trivia
of random occurrence into an enterprise with purpose and direction, just as a
musician marshals noise into music...
4. Making It Easy To Be Good
truth is that when cultural paradigms start to fall apart, a few heroic souls
will hold out against the tide, but most will bend. If we want virtue, then
there must be incentives to virtue. It must be made advantageous and easy for
your average timid soul to act professionally, honestly and humanely in his
of a Salesman
telesales there is a large component of luck. That is, in any bunch of
telephone numbers there are X number of sales waiting to happen, and if you do
something wrong they won't happen. I doubt very much if I ever persuade anyone
who wasn't inclined to buy in the first place. The X number of available sales
varies quite considerably, and unpredictably, from shift to shift...
2. The Poor Man's Fountain of Youth
argues that walking is bad for your legs, or looking bad for your eyes. More
locally, procreation is Nature's basic use for all living things. The general
pattern is, the organism breeds and then dies. Sexual organs which remain
unused, or rarely used, may well send the biological signal that the organism
as a whole has completed it's natural cycle. Wouldn't it be ironic if one quick
wank a day fooled Nature into constant renewal, a perpetual lease in lieu of
immortality. Maybe those gents as rich as Croesus had a point, but were let
down by their wily concubines...
Truth: The Human Mind as an Error-Checking Mechanism
I pay the rent (barely) by working as an evening telesalesperson, flogging a
pen set at an outrageous price and fraudulently in the name of a charity (which
actually receives 6%). This is the world of the salesman, where truth is
contracted to the immediate goal of securing a sale. I hear from the booths all
around me the insouciant lies of a sales contest. They are earnest, genuine,
and wholly promiscuous. Once won, the customer like a fallen woman, loses all
the sales team so different from TAFE managements in so-called educational
institutions? I think not. I have seen and heard them lying shamelessly about
"competency", and "quality", and nonexistent specialist
staff skills in order to secure contracts and tenders. "Yep, we can do
that. ISO9000 certified". They don't see themselves as lying at the time.
The presentations are also earnest, genuine and wholly promiscuous. Once the
tender is won they lose all serious interest in meeting educational
Brief Ideas 1988
number of paragraph-length reflections on life, you, and the universes we seem
to be living in.
The two paths to a quiet life are to
say nothing to anybody about anything, or to say everything that comes into
your head. The second way is easily the most effective. Sooner or later the
absolutely discrete person will be blackmailed or persecuted for something they
didn't say. However, the purveyor of utter candour is regarded with mute horror
by all dignified persons, and given a wide berth. Thus, like much else on this
website, the Aphorisms have done a great deal to guarantee Thor perfect social
Thor's Take on Religion can be found as an e-book (about 20,000
words) titled The Agnostic's Survival Manual
. A pdf version is also
online. A third copy (pdf) may be found at my Academia.edu site.
Notes to myself from the bottom of the world
Part I : Qualities and Values
[dropping an anchor against the tide]
Part 2: The Human Circus
[looking askance at political culture]
2. Social Innovation
(and resistance to...)
odd idea to kick around ]
Bizarre Extras (old)
EDINN: Respinning Intellectuals into the Social Fabric (coffee shop babble ... or sparks for
a new social order?)
Psychological Time & May's Constant
Personal Declaration of Membership in the Human Community
(would you like to sign?)
Signatories to the Personal Declaration of Membership in
the Human Community
(... the pioneers)
Some Political Leftovers
South Korean Language Policy - A Letter to President
Parliamentary Senate Inquiry on the Status of Australian Expatriates
Exit of a Hack Teacher
Technical & Further Education in Australia: Is there a
star to steer by?
Abstract: This paper, first written in 1996,
should be an historical document. However, in 2012 it is a precise and current
description of Technical and Further Education in Australia. The present state
government of Victoria, Australia, for example, is currently de-funding
TAFEs and aborting their mission, even as Australia is “forced” to import
unprecedented numbers of skilled workers from overseas. The paper examines what
is obviously a cyclical problem with technical education in many countries –
its relatively low status leading to periodic cuts in funding, difficulty in
attracting talented career staff, and the cyclical destruction of accumulated skills
through casualisation. This document has been published by the Senate of the
Australian Parliament as part of a report on the status of teachers.
The De-Skilling of 100,000 Skilled Tradesmen