Hail To The Nihilist

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Abbott on Bosses

“A bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Notwithstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.”

1. I can’t even. 

2. I like how he says “his or her” in the second sentence, as though to correct himself; thinking only male bosses exist. 

3. This claim rests on the basis’ that ‘bosses’ do tend to try and do more good than harm, that ‘bosses’ are capable of knowing that, and that ‘bosses’ tend to be competent. Let’s not forget that to be a boss requires no training, no qualifications, no experience… Anybody can be a boss. Start a business, hire somebody – you’re a boss. I would argue that the reason so many small businesses fail in their first year or two of business isn’t due to externalities – as we are always told – it is due to the inexperience and, sometimes, incompetence of management. 

 

 

Democracy isn’t meant to be neat and orderly

Tonight on Q&A, several members from the Socialist Alternative political party asked questions on higher education and higher education funding of Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne. They interrupted Pyne’s answers, much to his disgust, and seemed agitated by the whole thing. Understandably, too. Pyne’s answers were rehearsed and reeked of disdain. They Education Action Group then upped the ante. They lowered a banner from behind the panel that read, “More Brains | Not Warplanes | Fund Education”, and featured the date and time of an up-coming rally (May 21, UTS, 2:30pm, if you’re wondering) and began to chanting to the tune of their concerns about the governments plans for higher education in Australia.

On cue, social media came alive. There was some praise. Some hate. Some denigration. Your typical, “Get a haircut hippy” type comments. The disagreement and disgust dominated though. Many leftists weren’t happy with what had happened. But you know what, I saw it as an act of creativity and opportunism. If a company or some more agreeable cause had of done something similar there wold have been praise and wonder and ogling. Host of Q&A, Tony Jones, became shirty about the incident and complained about it not being true of democracy. Democracy to him, it would seem, is meant to be neat and tidy and orderly and by the book. No, democracy isn’t what Tony Jones or Christopher Pyne or Joe Blogg says it is. If people have a concern and what it heard, why not protest on a public show such as Q&A? John Howard ended up with a shoe tossed at him at the very same desk some years ago. That’s possibly going too far. A shoe can constitute a weapon. That’s far from a “peaceful protest”. But chanting and holding a banner on national TV? What’s the big deal?

Many are complaining that Socialist Alternative Education Action Group have created a bad name for the group party and socialism. Why? Why do we let it get to that? Because they have gone out there and done something? Fuck that. Sometime we have to be bold to be seen and heard. If we paid more attention to the message they were communicating – their concerns for some pretty sinister reforms – rather than who they are, who they are not, how they did it, why they did it… we might make a bit of protest. I’m guessing a large number of people support the message they were spreading. Get behind them then. Support it. And encourage such interesting, challenging, creative expression. Voting once every four years isn’t what democracy is about.

To What End?

To what end? This is a question I have been asking myself more and more recently. It has allowed me to focus on my priorities and make better decisions. It allows my inner utilitarian to shine. By asking ‘to what end?’ I am asking ‘for what purpose?’ or, plainly, ‘why?’ 

Why do I need that new gadget? Why do I get upset by some things? Why do I say certain things or speak a certain way? To what end? What’s in it for me? How will it affect others? What are the costs? What are the perceived benefits of making one decision over another?

Try asking the question of yourself. Attempt to justify things more readily. Don’t leave it just for big ticket decisions. See if it clarifies the smaller things; the things you take for granted.

Woe is me and human interactions

Something bites at me like nothing else. The idea that I am intentionally out to disparage people. That I am so sanctimonious I will do anything to become the victor. This isn’t correct and isn’t my intention.

It boils down to this. I see no problem asking questions and challenging views. I see no problem correcting myself or others. I thought somebody used a word incorrectly the other night but wasn’t too sure. I verified its meaning. This was seen as an act of trying to prove another wrong for my own gain and glory. No, for me, this was a process of falsification. It was an act of integrity. I may have been wrong as I wasn’t confident enough in myself. I don’t want to go through life sharing untruths. I was verifying the word to ensure I didn’t have the wrong idea. I wasn’t completely right, almost. My friend was completely wrong. Is this cause for celebration? No. But if I were him, I’d be thankful I wouldn’t make the same mistake in the future. Perhaps in a more crucial context. It’s called education.We both learnt something. I cared, the other didn’t. He was still set in the belief that I was out to do ill by him, to show off, to bring him down.

This makes me want to interact less with people. It seems no matter what I say I am seen as doing wrong; being malicious.

Fools

As I walk through the expansive carpark at the “Homemakers Centre” I spot barely a soul. The formula here is quite simple. Park, jump from shop to shop, buy, leave. From outside you can barely see into the stores. Their front windows cloaked in vinyl stickers comprising copy fastidiously written to compel even the most unsuspecting would-be to penetrate those automated doors. What might be held in this beast’s guts? Who knows? Something nice, maybe? Onwards, solider. There are lifestyle pictures emblazoned on any available surface showing the could-be. A lady reclining on a brown leather couch, at-ease smeared on her face with an artificial, photo-shoot-cobbled smile. Families barbequing. Kids fishing. Husbands and wives doing. Rarely being. At the central of all this, a consistent insistence for things to make it all happen. Not any things. Expensive things. Usually made in China or South East Asia. Usually from unsustainably sourced materials from all over the world. Usually by companies that have larger marketing budgets than inclination for social responsibility.

What of the patrons? The fools that park their indebted 2012 model in the listless car park. The fools that look upon the messages and lifestyle pictures as something to be clagged into the scrap book of wants and must-haves. The fools that spend too much and then feel guilty. The fools that care what their stupid friends think. The fools that hate their jobs, drink too much, eat badly and dread the gym. The same fools that will soon regret not being there for the best parts of their children’s lives.

But, they don’t know any better.

In Progress: Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth”

Finally I have started to give Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” a good reading. It seems I am one of the readers she expects not to get her or to vehemently disagree. But hey, I am willing to read it to the end which is better than some people, I am sure, who gave up after the introduction.

I can see why they give up. However, I have faith her whole thesis, only a few more pages in, will open up revealing premised conclusions and fewer factual errors and fallacies and outstanding writing. I realise it is easy and tempting to play the error / fallacy card but never (never) have I seen so many in such a short space–I am currently half way through chapter 1, “Moral Vegetarianism”. One of the most annoyingly silly things I have read so far is in one breath she denounces vegans as anthropomorphising, then in the next she writes of the “wants” of plants and their seed-babies. If it wasn’t for the language the argument might have been a little more compelling. What is she trying to do? Appeal to a simpler audience? If so, set our expectations for that. I was expecting something rigorous and intellectual.

Another failure by Keith is her brief touch on agriculture–which I hope she expands on later in the book. Animals are necessary for grass and soil she argues. It’s natural and good. This is a position held by most interested animal agriculturists. It fails to appreciate what the land looked like in its natural state, though. Land is systematically deforested for agricultural purposes–to grow plants too–and would be better off left, or potentially returned to, its original state.  Does native forest need the contribution of introduced animal species? No. (This isn’t an attempt to rebut the whole agriculture argument, just an opinion. The whole thing will come in later blog posts or my full review of the book.)

It’s the sort of book you have to read with a fat notebook next to you. Which is good. I like my thoughts being conjured as I read. Though, it is as infuriating as it is provokative both in the content and style. Wish me luck.

Game of Thrones and Torrenting

Game of Thrones. To be honest, not my cup of tea–not that I have watched it, but I feel this to be the case. I’m told that if you go and “torrent” an episode, you’re met with thousands of seeders, making it a quick and painless process. Plenty of incentive there. But why is it the production houses encourage this sort of behaviour? 

 By encourage I mean they fail to try and control the inevitable to their end. Innovation would have it that they could use people’s predisposition to torrent as an opportunity. 

 In Australia, apparently GOT is only being aired on Foxtel. This cuts off the majority of Australian’s from enjoying, what seems to be, a show with a cult-like following. People don’t like missing out so what are they to do? Well, without Apple TV, illegally download. That’s what. And even with Apple TV, I’m sure the statistics are going to fall in favour of that which is free and easiest. 

 I’ve a strong interest in content marketing. I believe that by giving away free content you can improve your bottom-line by winning followers and paying customers. It’s an ice breaker. It has worked for me and there is mounting evidence that it works well in general. Then, why don’t the production houses think in these terms? Control the distribution of your content not by trying to stop–by litigation or other–people from consuming it but by encouraging people and capitalising on the opportunities. Their eyeballs. In TV and other mediums, eyeballs are hot currency. By trying to dissuade consumers you’re saying that you don’t care to satisfy a whole heap of consumers in principle. Good luck to you, on that. 

 It reminds me of that gluten free store in QLD just the other week that introduced a $5 “browse” charge to stop time-wasters from entreating her store. The owner was fed up of dispensing information for free to only have the browsers, or ragbags she called them, go elsewhere to buy their things. The fact that this store had so many people passing through its doors is outstanding. It’s up, then, to the owner to convert those browsers into buyers and alienation isn’t going to do that.

 Production houses–or TV networks or whoever–need to stop fighting the unfightable and make the most of the opportunities that are presented to them. 

Letter to my readers

Dear Readers,

 

If you think this blog is anonymous you are mistaken. Sure, my full name, date-of-birth and street address aren’t published on the front page but I don’t consider these details relevant to online transparency. Why do you need to know these things?

Truth is, if you think this blog is anonymous, you’re lazy. Google is your friend, they say. This blog is not anonymous. It traces back to its author in very few steps. If you can’t undertake these steps yourself, that’s not my problem. Stop with the rhetoric. Focus on the argument. 

Cheers, 

HTTN

Use, Treatment

When we speak of animal rights, we speak of treatment before we do use. I think this is wrong.

I think it’s important, first, to establish whether it is appropriate for something to be used in order to be subject to treatment. Then we can determine how it should be treated. For in the alternative, with regard to animals, it is an assumption that it is permissible to use animals. An assumption that is finally being challenged. 

Seth Godin, Philosophy of Marketing & Airports

Seth Godin is a wise man. Not only where marketing is concerned either. He is a philosopher who just happens to specialise in the philosophy of marketing. Here’s one of his latest gems:

Eleven things organizations can learn from airports:

I realized that I don’t dislike flying–I dislike airports. There are so many things we can learn from what they do wrong:

  1. No one is in charge. The airport doesn’t appear to have a CEO, and if it does, you never see her, hear about her or interact with her in any way. When the person at the top doesn’t care, it filters down.
  2. Problems persist because organizations defend their turf instead of embrace the problem. The TSA blames the facilities people, who blame someone else, and around and around. Only when the user’s problem is the driver of behavior (as opposed to maintaining power or the status quo) things change.
  3. The food is aimed squarely at the (disappearing) middle of the market. People who like steamed meat and bags of chips never have a problem finding something to eat at an airport. Apparently, profit-maximizing vendors haven’t realized that we’re all a lot weirder than we used to be.

Read on…