Friday, July 25

Wedding Registry

I know this is a joke, but bear with me.

Jacob age 85, and Rebecca age 79 are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding and on the way go past a drugstore. Jacob suggests that they go in. He addresses the man behind the
counter: "Are you the owner?"

The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jacob: "Do you sell heart medication?"

Pharmacist: "Of course we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob: "How about Viagra?"

Pharmacist: "Of course."

Jacob: "Medicine for memory?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety."

Jacob: "What about vitamins and sleeping pills?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob: "Perfect! We'd like to register here for our wedding gifts."

This raised a chuckle, but then I got reminded of something that I noticed while I was recently in India, and that was the interesting rise in owner occupied homes but with single households. India has the privilege of having the world's largest collection of private homes.

Take the example of my parents. Both worked in the government sector and both had a government provided bungalow to stay in for years and years. The idea is, you keep on plonking some money into your pension fund, and when you retire, you go purchase a flat or house and stay on till you croak. Or purchase a house and rent it out and move into it when you retire. Or if you are working in the private sector, you purchase it and stay in it. And so on and so forth. But the kids are off to other cities and countries like my sister and I. So what that leaves behind is quite a heavy workload, both physical and financial.

The underlying assumption was that the kids will also stay with the parents when they retire and the cost of maintaining such a large house will be spread. Why such a large house and why not move to smaller house? Well, when they made the house, they planned it for a full family. And now they have lived in that house for 30 - 40 years, made a family and they have left, but they have their own friends and circle there. So dont want to move. Plus moving means that they have to step down because the property ladder has moved very sharply. And they cannot go live with their children because their children are not in the same city or country and no networks.

So you end up with a rather solitary existence, with your expenditure increasingly tied to the exigencies of medical care and property maintenance. So when you then look at the joke again, I did not find it funny any more that old couples have to get married to be with somebody and that they have to go ask their friends for medical assistance via a bridal registry.

Sad or what? you end up sipping soup in Covent Garden but no medicines to fix your willy.

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Tuesday, July 22

How do you judge morals?

Now this (hat tip Hamish Marshall here) made me go hmmmm, very interesting formulation of how you judge issues relating to morality?

  • Harm: whether someone is harmed or harm is reduced.
  • Reciprocity: whether something is fair and treats people fairly and justly.
  • In-group: whether something betrays the group.
  • Hierarchy: whether something is respectful of authority and superiors.
  • Purity: whether or not something is disgusting.

Liberal minded people only look at the first two while conservatives look at all five of them. My first impression was, why on earth would you even consider the bottom three when dealing with morals? Surely, they do not apply? But then, on reflection, the other three also make sense.

Professor's Haidt's book is still not out yet, but it made sense. There is no debate about the first two, I would guess, but lets take the next three. The in-group one is quite powerful if a bit alien in today's western societies. This is the group relating from the family to the neighbourhood to the locality to the city to the society to the nation. And morals do apply from the family up to the nation. I mean, you would not do anything that will betray the family, would you? That is based upon a moral judgement.

Then comes the Hierarchy bit. Do we need to be respectful of authority and superiors? Generally yes, there are there for a reason, one can challenge it, but the default position is that that position has to be respected. Otherwise what about parental control over children? or teachers over children? or lecturers over children? or policemen over criminals or a corporate life? or anywhere there is a ranking? There is a place for challenge and being a maverick but all the time? Hmmm, on the balance, I would have said no.

Here's a great and related story that I read today when hierarchy vanishes or is reduced. What will children grow up to if they have no evidence of or respect for their parents, teachers and the like? Would I judge a child who does not respect his parents? Yes, I would. I rebelled against my parents, teachers, society and the like, but to what extent? You did too. But perhaps taking to the extreme is not good either so morals do apply.

Finally, the purity bit. Could be, could well be. Your personal view on morals can be judged on whether or not something is disgusting. Say short skirts, or long hair. Would that be a symptom of degeneracy? Or utilising SMS speak in your emails or essays? (I was horrified to see this language in emails from a pretty senior lady, gobsmacking) I am a purist in that case, but then my editor gets upset with me for my punctuation mistakes which are huge. Morals? surely yes.

So, yes, I am afraid I am sounding like a conservative, no? but there you go. What do you think?

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Sunday, July 20

HOLY CRAP!, GORDO with a Machine Gun!

Take the machine gun away from that blithering incompetent idiot immediately!

Bloody hell.

Gordon Brown, machine gunner

Govt ministers 'couldn't run private companies'

A survey was carried out of the chief executives of UK top 100 companies and this is what they said:

Comparison with the most successful business leaders in the country reveals that the people running public services lack appropriate experience, have near impossible tasks to do and are never in their job for long enough to engage properly with their departments."

Remember what I said? why does public provision have to be done via public sector? Or why government is so bad in this? Not surprising at all.

But well, yes, but that's what democracy is all about, they want average people to run themselves, not technocratic people. CEO's usually get up there based upon merit. Politicians get to the top by skullduggery, pandering to base instincts, being populist and being slightly stupid. If they were very smart, then they are seen as a threat. Witness the reaction whenever a politician shows any sign of using big words, the media dump on him.

So not surprising at all. What do you do? you make it a question of the government deciding what service to provide and at what service levels, while the actual provision is provided to others. But slowly and steadily, government will be chipped away as efficiency and effectiveness will take importance over populism.

Want to wind up a Green? Whisper Lomborg to her

I just love Bjorn Lomborg. If nothing else, just the whisper of his name to any kind of green person is guaranteed to send that person into a foaming apoplectic fit of frustrated anger. Just stand back and dont let the foam drop on you. It is very amusing.

Whether online or while talking, if somebody starts talking global warming and you are bored with this boring old subject, just say that but for the past 10 years, the temperature has not rises, it has actually declined as well. And boom, sit back and watch them go apoplectic again.

Very amusing. Here's the guru in action again.

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Update: 20 July 2008: And here is another example of how the greens are so humour challenged and frankly stupid. You see, this is why I sometimes think that the great and good are having their nuts exchanged with their eyes. The academics sometimes are way too stupid and moronic. Just read the story to see how this kind of scaremongering and stupidity makes them take stupid decision (like bio fuels) and treat us like morons (piss off!)