Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Getting things done

Slowly but surely.

You know about the apartment and mattress.

We also now have mobile phones and a lamp for the main bedroom. Plus a sofa-chair-bed thing for Angelo to sleep on. And this week we get delivery of a dining table, chairs, and television. That way we can set up cable and internet at home as well.

Angelo arrived yesterday morning, after on over night flight on which he did not sleep. He took a cab from the airport to our flat. At this point we realised we had to drop off our rental car and pick up another (longer story), so we all drove back to the airport to do that. By 11AM Angelo has seen the airport twice. Once inside the airport, Giuseppe - who was driving - decided changing lanes was getting cumbersome so we just drove straight for a good 20 minutes taking us far away from Hertz.

Once complete we drove through Midtown, stopped at the social security administration, and on to Buckhead for lunch. Then we decided Angelo needed a bed, so we drove back through Midtown to Ikea. Then I remembered why I don't like Ikea. For three hours.
A quick hop to Target, and on to BestBuy. Another hour or so with our other new friend Jared to get a telly, and finally back home.

At which point it was 8PM so we actually stopped at Elbow Room for pizza, stromboli and many beers (to answer the question: Why do you want eateries in walking distance?). Turns out Elbow Room not only has sports on TV, a pool table and dart boards, but also a juke box and a smoking permit. And it was like being in high school again.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

New Apartment - Day 1

Just had our first night in the new apartment.

I am a little amazed at the space. It seems normal, but then I stand in the bathroom, stretch both my arms out and I'm not touching any walls.

We don't have any furniture yet, just a bed, so we are eating off plastic plates and sitting on kitchen counters. The building has a 24 hour business centre, so this is my internet access for now. Oh, I also seem to have lost two towels somewhere, so I air dry.

The location is great, I will get some photos up soon, but we can walk to some cafe's, restaurants, a dry cleaners and even a couple of grocery stores. There's a sushi place across the street called Taka which makes me think of Elena Babbuina. G has scouted the local grocery store in detail and it has passed the test (clearly all done before we signed the lease) and there is also a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's pretty near by. Oh, and the cafe' we stopped that first day, opened by a guy from Surrey? That's on the next block up. All in all well planned.

Social engagements have also begun, meeting Melanie and her native pals for drinks at the W yesterday. It's a 5 minute drive up the road, but it turns out that if you miss the entrance and take a wrong turn you end up on the Interstate and it takes an hour to get there. So I think next time I won't do that. But it was a great evening with a sunset view form the roof top bar.
And tomorrow is Christmas lunch chez Pandersons! With Mama Panderson, Papa Panderson and their four legged critter Rocco. Looking forward to that.

Happy Christmas Eve to all!

Monday, 19 December 2011

America - Food

A quick note about the food on our first 2 days.

Delicious!

And so much of it, but you probably expected that.

We had our first proper Southern dinner yesterday - complete with grilled jumbo shrimp, fried chicken (thinking of you,  Caroline), mash, greens and more. Our dinner the previous night I wrote about, also delicious. And we have had two ginormous and wonderful breakfasts which always included pancakes - always pancakes - and eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage, grits, toast and rather week coffee which Giuseppe has taken to drinking like water. Yes: Saturday in a cafe he ordered an espresso and a cup of coffee. Together.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

America - Day 1

The first 24 hours are done and dusted.

Not a bad start. The relocation is in full swing, we have landed in the land of the free and a certain husband is a legal alien. Hurrah.
As a side note: I know of a number of people who had some fairly depressing experiences with the US Immigration service. I have to take a moment to say this was not our experience. Everyone was friendly, everything was smooth and straightforward and no complaints at all.

So after a pretty much 24 hour day, we got to our hotel in Norcross and crashed.

Day 1
Awake at 6am. Of course. Slow getting up, prepare our itinerary for the day and head out for breakfast. Now, as it was my first breakfast as a US resident I had to get all my favourites. Well, almost all, but my breakfast did include eggs, sausage, bacon pancakes and toast. Grits were on the table, of course.

We spent the day looking at apartments, basically all over Buckhead and MidTown. So far so happy, liking what we see.

Stopping here and there we spoke with people where we could. In one cafe' we came across an owner from Surrey (!) and he and his employees gave us a brilliant 20 minute description of various Atlanta neighbourhoods.

Of course: we had to stop at Rite Aid. No, we really did, we needed cereal and milk for the next day's breakfast.

And dinner in old town Norcross, a Cuban bistro called Mojitos, with delicious food and live music.

Good start.

More later.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Still here, but not for long

Things went crazy after my last post as we plan our relocation to the US. So bear with me a little longer.

Oh and if you know of someone renting an apartment in MidTown Atlanta please let me know.

In honour of this, a conversation with Cleverbot:


I'm moving to the US next week!
What are you doing there?

Expanding my business in the States.
Define expand.


Getting new clients, growing our presence there.


Awesome! I'm going to a concert tomorrow.


What concert?



Guus Meeuwis!
Really? You think that's equal to relocating to another continent?

Let me go!
Oh. Sorry.

Go on, get a biscuit. Hurry up!
... right.

But you are a girl.



And that's when I hung up

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Health Insurance

(not equal to Health Care)

It's not often I quote Ann Coulter, but she does perfectly sum up the problem with US Health Insurance.


It would be as if the government prohibited us from buying cars unless they were Lexus SUVs, fully loaded with every possible option.
Then, when most Americans couldn't afford to buy a car, the Democrats could demand we pass "ObamaCar." Wolf could have asked: "A healthy 30-year-old young man decides, 'I'm not going to spend $100,000 or $200,000 for a car because, you know, I don't need it.' But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay if he needs a car to escape a hurricane, for example? Who pays for that?"
Why are the only two options always a behemoth government program or the guy dies?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A little bit of London Jazz Week

Saturday night at the Royal Opera House - Linbury Theatre. As part of London Jazz Week Jack Savoretti performed, opening for the Lucinda Belle Orchestra. It's a night out I shall remember for a long time to come.

Find out more about Jack Savoretti on his Facebook page. I am not often a fan of the acoustic guitar ballad, but Jack's album Between the Minds was one that forced me to open my horizons. It is song after song of beauty. A couple of examples are Dreamers and Dr. Frankenstein. Oh and also Killing Man [Grooveshark links]. Go listen to more.  His current album is Harder Than Easy and I shall keep things simple by giving you the link to the whole album.

After Jack came the Lucinda Belle Orchestra. This, by the way, is how band music should be. Creative, beautiful, consistency in image and sound, with an entertaining performance.
The set started with the harp, sounding pretty much as I expect a harp to sound. As other instruments entered the foray sounds came together to form an excellent dixie-jazz tune. Along with her harp are a piano, classical bass, clarinet, cello, trombone and more. It was one of those things that got me so excited I can't actually aptly describe it. But I do highly recommend seeing this orchestra live.

For now I leave you with Lucinda Belle's version of Lady Gaga's Telephone. She played this, although a highlight of the night for me was "Rose Marie and Bobby McGee".

Oh and if anybody can find a recording of her version of Smells Like Teen Spirit you must let me know. I have to own this track!


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Talking to Cleverbot

CONVERSATION I

I like Pizza

I like pizza too. 

My favourite is spicy salami. What is your favourite?



Olga and Katy they are my girlfriends.


You put them on pizza?


Actually, you play them.


Where does the pizza come in?


I don't hate him.

Ok now you are getting confused.



Yes I think you are.


Aha, I see what you did there. Very clever.


I see what you're doing here. Well done.



Thank you.


Do you read the Wall Street Journal?


Yes I do, it's a great paper.


It's my favorite! Is it your favorite too?


It's one of my favourites. I also like The Economist.


I like Santana too. But I don't really like ABBA.






CONVERSATION II


Do you think consciousness determines being, or the other way round??


I've never thought about it. Do you?


The former. Think about it now.


I like Carravagio.

Friday, 11 November 2011

What to teach

Giuseppe said yesterday that he wants to teach his [future] children to work hard and play a lot of sports.

What would I want to teach my children?

I want to teach them (paraphrasing Ludwig von Mises) that action is the manifestation of a man's will. That should be enough, I think.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Friday night was confusing

I managed to double book myself yesterday evening, and then both events ended up happening at the same place. Plus people I know kept showing up for both camps.

I don't think I planned it that way but I like to think I did.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

New Month Limericks

The Gebhardts start November with a bang.


Beginning with Pater:

In old monasteries the abbots
Enforced most peculiar habits:
“Each day make your bed,
Each week shave your head,
On the first of each month say ‘White Rabbits.’”

I added my 2 cents:

When I first made American friends
I shared what I thought well-known trends
All my family habits
Like saying "White Rabbits"
And thus many friendships met ends

Annalee continued in style:

Today the new month's begun
Another without any sun
Though sounding quite strange
This bad luck could change
"White Rabbits" the secret of fun.

And the Colorado contingent moved us on to haiku:

White rabbits? Humbug!
I ain't a scared of no ghosts.
(cross fingers and toes.)

Friday, 28 October 2011

My Dale Carnegie Notes

Finally assembled.

Part I

  1. Don't criticise, condemn or complain (my thoughts on this here). 
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation. Premised on the notion that "The greatest urge driving man is the desire to be important." (also more thoughts of mine here). 
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want. It is the only way to get them to do something
Part II - Get people to like you
  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests. 
  6. Make the other person feel important
Part III - How to win people to your way of thinking
  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. If you lose an argument, you lose it. If you win an argument, you lose it
  2. Never say "you are wrong".
  3. If you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately. A double agreement, a Socratic dialogue technique
  6. Let the other person do the talking
  7. Let the other person think the idea is his.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view. A home truth: it is fun getting people to like you. 
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires. Self-pity is, after all, a motivator. 
  10. Appeal to their nobler motives. 
  11. Dramatise your ideas. Same concept of telling a story, give people a main character with which to identify and create some drama. 
  12. Throw down a challenge. Because everybody loves the game
Part IV - How to change people
  1. Begin with honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes first. Why doesn't this one come first?
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
  7. Give the other person a reputation to live up to.
  8. Make the error seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. This seems like a goal more than a principle.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quote of the day


“The challenge of defending free markets and limited government is that you’re telling people there’s no Santa Claus,”

By Daniel Mitchell, senior fellow with the Cato Institute

Read the full article / context here

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Not as dumb as it sounds

If you have not yet subscribed to DumbAgent.com then I have one question for you: what are you waiting for?

Helping manage this site is one of my jobs, and something I enjoy immensely. DumbAgent started as a hobby and quickly grew into something more.
With initial help from various sides - shout out to Jason and Heidi - Ocean and I run the day to day on this site: to DumbAgent.com we bring our shared belief in free markets, rational economics, and human intelligence to make the right choices (or learn from the wrong ones).

Here is a selection of posts I think you will enjoy.

1. Why the Friendship Paradox is not one.

2. Made in the USA (or anywhere else for that metter).

3. Why glasses do not make you smarter.

4. There is enough water for the whole world.

5. What diversity means, and how it will make your life better.

And see here for an introduction to the Dumb Agent Theory - agree or disagree?

And a list of the posts I personally authored.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Let's conform to individualism

Priceless quote on BBC News site today, by David Lloyd:

"Anonymous needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism - V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system"

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Diets are bad

Nobody every listens to me when I talk about dieting, because I'm too skinny so I've never dieted - although you'd think someone would notice why I might know something they don't.

But anyway, as you may know I don't believe in dieting as healthy life choice and when people think they are healthier for cutting out white bread or meat it makes me want to break stuff. So this slideshow made me so happy.

Weight gain or loss is based on calorie intake versus energy burned. The rest is garnish. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Thank you team Gessi


I have an opinion on everything

My husband requested that I change the title of this blog to be the title of this post.

I refused. But wanted to acknowledge his request. So, husband, this one is for you.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Being right doesn't mean you are not wrong

More about the #OWS and #OccupyLSX

The London protesters claim to be taking to the streets to protest "capitalism". And they want to spread the word through Twitter. Using smart phones. As they camp out in their variety of tents purchased from sporting-goods stores.

I am making assumptions, I know. The point however stands: that these are people who use the fruits of capitalism, some may even be business owners themselves. What they are protesting is actually crony capitalism: favouritism, protectionism, collusion and regulatory capture. Again: I realise I am making assumptions, but I am basing this on numerous sound bytes from the various protests.

What does confuse me is the theory that large government would in somehow work in ways different to large corporations. They are best buddies now, and we see what we get for it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Problem With #OWS


I don't disagree with a lot of their gripes. But with too many of the protesters, you get the impression they themselves don't understand their own gripes.

See Katherine Ernst's piece in City Journal:

When life is exponentially easier for you than it was for most of the world throughout most of human history— right up until the mid-twentieth century—boredom creates a vacuum. To be a hero, you have to create your own dragon to slay. ... Mastering the intricacies of credit-default swaps so as to articulate an effective reform of the broken financial system? Way too tough. Better to create a dragon that can only be slain with performance-art zombie metaphors.
...
New York magazine polled “100 protesters who are in it for the long haul.” ... 55 percent didn’t vote in the last election (you might want to try the ballot box first, guys). The real takeaway is this, though: 34 percent are “convinced the U.S. is no better than, say, Al-Qaeda.” In other words, a significant percentage of this tiny-but-loud group of protesters are chasing a dragon.



Monday, 10 October 2011

For the "after"

When I pass away, have my body donated to medical research. I have no interest in sticking around, in a box or a vase, as a weight and obligation to those I leave behind. I don't want people visiting my grave and remembering me... dead. Remember me alive. And I better be smiling. And if you forget my face it doesn't matter. Just remember how I made you feel, if I made you feel good; if I ever made you smile or feel life is a fun place to be. That's what I want to leave behind.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

USA Trip - Play

There was some play as well.

In Washington DC I stayed with family, who positively spoiled me with wonderful food, plentiful wine and generally being available and helpful. My US family are very good about keeping in touch. They have reunions every couple of years, and people tend to have a good grasp on what is going on where. But still: I see them once every few years, over a 2-3 day period with dozens of people present. It was nice to have a few days to just hang out with my aunt, uncle and cousins, and learn a little more about their lives.

My Aunt Sandra even drove me to Mount Vernon, which was a great trip.

In New York I stayed with brother-in-law Angelo, who also spoiled me in a night out on the town, and then high school buddy Veronica. Ok all my hosts were wonderful.

I managed to see a couple of friends, yay Vikki and - of course - Kari-Lynn who one day must reveal her shopping haunts to me. And, an added bonus, lunch with the fascinating Dr. Goose, of Economics Limericks fame (a new friend made via DumbAgent.com)

That's my summary, now I should get some work done.

USA Trip - Work

You will have figured out that I was just in the US for a couple of weeks, business trip. This was related to Linex Systems, my day job, so to speak. 

We are looking to grow our presence in the New World, and mine was a preliminary trip to speak to people on the ground and learn about the local market. 

My schedule was fairly packed, I managed my 18 meetings in 6 days (my original target). In between meetings were quick stops at a Starbucks for a coffee, bite to eat and quick email check. The whole thing was rather tiring, but worth every minute. I won't get in to all the gritty details, but I will say the trip was a success, people were welcoming and forthcoming with information and overall extremely helpful.

I am excited about moving out and working in the United States. 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs

Via The Taylor Institute's Facebook page:

From Walter Mossberg's column today in Wall Street Journal: "He insisted on the highest product quality and on building things to delight and empower actual users...As he liked to say, he lived at the intersection of technology and liberal arts." Steve Jobs was a great innovator and a great leader.



Saturday, 1 October 2011

GOLD!

Always believe in your souuuul
You have the power to know
You're indestructible
Always believe

You are GOLD!

Monday last, the 26th, I was at the Spectrum Ball, for the National Autistic Society. A great association helping a great cause. Which happens to throw great charity balls.

Last year's guest entertainer was Jools Holland. Let me say that again: Jools Holland!

And this year? Tony Hadley.
Let me say that, also, again: Tony Hadley.

Yes: I got to dance to Gold, LIVE! And, as it happens, also Rio. And Suspicious Minds, but sung by, you guessed it, Tony Hadley.

Props to the Savoy: great setting and good food.

Props to my guests for joining in with the silliness- I mean, awesomeness, on the dance floor.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Beer Time

I have 16 meetings lined up for my business trip to the US.

This is not counting a lunch and a couple of get-togethers which I consider to be social. And of course seeing family and old Vassar and TASIS buddies (wait a second: we're not THAT old!).

Looking forward to the trip! I'm tired just thinking about it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday Night Wisdom

At the Drayton Arms

"I ate at a 2-Michelin-star restaurant once. They cheat you, it's tiny plates of food and an 18 euro espresso".

Ah well, now I know.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Smile

That's the second principle for getting people to like you.

"You must have a good time meeting other people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you."

This is based on the theory that your happiness: you mood and your attitude, are entirely up to you. We may not always have control over the things that happen to us, but we and only we decide how we deal with them. (This may sound familiar to those of you who have known me for a while).

Which leads me to something that has always mystified me: have you ever met those people who reserve their worst behaviour for the people closest to them? Be it family or spouses: that's where they direct their bad moods and tiredness. And you're thinking "Why are you talking to your husband/wife like that? You would never talk to a colleague that way. Or a friend, or a stranger in the supermarket. And yet your spouse, you treat like this". That confuses me.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Become genuinely interested in other people.

We are on to Part II in Dale Carnegie's How to Make Friends and Influence People. The part about making the friends.

This is where he explains that you will make friends by being genuinely interested in other people, not trying to make them interested in you.

For some reason this also reminded me of Bill Cosby's commencement speech at Drew University, in 2002, which I had the great honour of hearing - my good friend Veronica was graduating. Best commencement speech I have ever heard by the way.

He told a great story, greatly condensed here, about a philosophy class he attended at university taught by a particularly challenging professor. One day said Prof. tasked the students with answering the question "Is the glass half full or half empty".

After Cosby what at his grandmother's house - a woman with a lot more love than education - and seeing something was weighing on his mind she asked what it was. Feeling sure she couldn't understand he avoided replying at first, and only upon her insistence did he tell her that he was troubled over how to answer the question: Is the glass half full or half empty".

Grandma replied: "Well, it depends if you're drinking or pouring".

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Arouse in the other person an eager want

You guessed it: principle no. 3

You probably wouldn't eat worms. But if you go fishing, you use worms as your bait.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Give honest and sincere appreciation

Principle number II from Dale Carnegie.

He opens this chapter by pointing out that "the greatest urge driving man is the desire to be important" (that may be paraphrased). Without this urge, he says, there would be no human progress, we would be little more than animals. It's a good thinking point.

As I read his examples of people going to extreme lengths to satisfy this urge, to the point of making themselves ill or insane, it reminded me of a Theodore Dalrymple article following the recent Norway massacre. Read the full article here, but some key points are:

A wider cause gives meaning and purpose to your life, and persuades you that your resentment, your anger, is not petty or personal, but something much grander. You do not see that, by the standards of most people, you have suffered little.
...First is resentment; second, self-importance; third, the desire for fame or notoriety; fourth, the search for a transcendent meaning to life, and fifth, a difficulty in forming ordinary human relationships, whether of love or friendship.
It's a bit of a tangent, but one worth making, even briefly.

But going back to Dale Carnegie's book, he tells the story of Charles Schwab, who was paid an unimaginably large salary to run US Steel not - by his own admission - for his understanding of the product of manufacturing process, but for his ability to deal with people. This is the greatest skill you can cultivate, and the one that will drive you further in life than many others.



Thursday, 15 September 2011

What are my work incarnations?

I have several, and have referred to them at various times below. 

To summarise: I work on www.DumbAgent.com, along with Ocean. He writes most of the sites articles, although I occasionally give it a stab (see all my posts here: http://dumbagent.com/author/rebecca/ ), and help run the site and the associated media channels. 

I love the DumbAgent site: it is fun and intelligent and keeps my brain working. To summarise our drive with this site:
To DumbAgent.com we bring our shared belief in free markets, rational economics, and human intelligence to make the right choices (or learn from the wrong ones).

You know this from my twitter handle @rgbrizi, and we also run the @DumbAgent handle. 

My other day job is as a Director with Linex Systems. The product is a hosted platform for a company to manage their current awareness streams (call it news monitoring, business intelligence aggregation, whatever you prefer). And, well, Linex is also a lot of fun. The product is fairly new, it's highly adaptable and brings a lot of value, and my clients are pretty fun people overall. 

Get the full details on my LinkedIn profile

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Workshop: Implementing Knowledge Cafés

From one of my work incarnations:
http://www.linexsystems.com/linex-blog/item/1446-workshop-implementing-knowledge-cafes


David Gurteen yesterday hosted a one day workshop to share how and why Knowledge Cafés are of value in a business environment. I, as you will have guessed, was amongst the attendees.
I have attended a couple of Gurteen’s evening Cafés in the past, and you can read about those here on this blog. The calibre of people who organise and participate in these Cafés are a testament to Gurteen’s reach and influence, and yesterday was no exception. I have heard David’s story behind the Cafés before, but for me it all resonates on one point: “people would suffer through the [business] presentations only looking forward to the conversation afterwards at the pub. So what if we cut straight to the part people actually enjoyed?”.
Yesterday’s event was part presentation and part conversation. In fact as the day went on the lines between the two were effectively blurred. There was a lot of very practical advice about the benefits of conversation for knowledge sharing, as well as problem solving, internal networking and more. Even maximising your use of current awareness - a point of particular interest of course for me.
A practical example of this last point: you aggregate information and build alerts for your team. You work hard to ensure they are receiving high quality information, leaving no stone uncovered in what they need to know, and that this is all highly accessible to the end user. And then what? Are they reading your alerts? And if so how are these improving their professional output?
When a big piece of news comes up - a major shift in legislation, unexpected activity by a competitor or client, etc. - why not organise a conversation café on the subject? You will come away with a deeper understanding not only of the implications, but what you can do about it.
A couple of technical points. A Knowledge Café, as I see it, is not a business meeting. The purpose of a business meeting is a specific decision / action point (I am even of a fan of standing-space-only meeting, it keeps them short and focused). The Café comes a step before this. It is the first step in problem-solving, namely: increasing understanding. Unlike a business meeting, you should not enter a Knowledge Café with a specific outcome in mind.
Another quick point to add is that effective conversation in the workplace will bring both direct and indirect improvements in work processes. There are work-specific Cafés, an environment designed to foster in-depth sharing. And then there is simple banter conversation amongst employees. The more non-business-related sharing you can foster amongst employees, the better will those employees interact back within the business environment.
For managers of knowledge, innovation and professional development who are seeing the limitations of current modes of work, an interactive workshop such as this can open flood gates of new possibilities.
Update:
I add a link to a DumbAgent article about further benefits of extended yourself beyond the obvious circle of contacts. Conversations bring to knowledge sharing, which can only be a good thing.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Learning the basics

I was feeling wild & crazy yesterday and bought a hairbrush.

Then I had to ask the nice lady at the shop how it works.

Just another day...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Don't criticise, condemn or complain

I just started reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Principle no. 1 is: Don't criticise, condemn or complain.

But can I disagree? Not with the principle, I mean in general. Can I set myself apart?
What to do at the repetition if an error? Is there a point at which patience is justifiably lost?

Work scenario: colleague makes a mistake and denies responsibility. How do you know he won't repeat it? Ok I leave him the blame but take responsibility. Change the system. And I guess at some point changing the system means changing the colleague.

In personal life, same, I guess. In these relationships: don't criticise condemn or complain but do converse.

Ok, that's also called "thinking-while-typing".

If you know you have a low self-esteem...

... then you do not have a low self-esteem.

That seems logical to me, does anybody need explaining?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Talking to yourself

We have a new post up at DumbAgent, it's one I really like for reasons beyond the one states on the blog.

Check out How to Find a Job - It's about the advantages of interacting with a wide variety of people: it's about the advantages of diversity. No: I don't mean people who look different from one another, period. I mean people with a diversity of experience and history, cultures and backgrounds, interests and knowledge.

Ocean authored the article and he quotes Malcolm Gladwell who asks, if your friends all "occupy the same world as you do... How much would they know, that you wouldn't know?"

Did you ever get that feeling, when talking to somebody, even a good friend, that you have learnt everything you ever will from him? That's a bad feeling.

I'm also going to take this on a bit of a tangent now.

My Italian friends often tell me that I am so very American. Which would surprise my American friends who are amused by how Italian I am. Let me tell you why this irks me a little: I don't really understand what it even means. Are all Italians/American exactly like you? Not so. So are you only associating with people exactly like you? Perhaps, and if so, they're not all the same by all being Italian/American. Dig deeper. And then break out of that: playing it safe, even in your social life, will exclude a whole lot of fun.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Not only are we Dumb Agents, we’re also related!

That's right: DumbAgent is back!

We put the site on hold for a couple of months as we dealt with a re-design and stripped the site back down the it's principle element: Content.

Not just content: interesting, varied, thought-provoking and over-all top notch content (if I may say so myself).

Mosey on over to the site and definitely sign up to the RSS feed.

The About Us section gives you the background: brother and sister blogging about the wisdom both of crowds and of individuals:
To DumbAgent.com we bring our shared belief in free markets, rational economics, and human intelligence to make the right choices (or learn from the wrong ones).

Sunday, 28 August 2011

"I want to do nothing"

Not me, other people say that. I've never understood it. People wanting to quit their jobs to do "nothing".

When I ask, people will often say "I can spend my time doing what I want to do."
So what do you want to do?
"Travel."
Where?
"Everywhere."
And then?

It's a personal thing of course, but I can't imagine living without producing. I have to learn every day, and apply my new knowledge the next. I have to be building something I can point to.

Sure: reading, travelling, absorbing, it's all part of that process. But it's not an end in itself.

Then of course there are those who just want to sit on a beach all day. Can you imagine that conversation?

So, what did u do today?
"I sat on the beach."
Oh right, same as last week yeah?
"Yeah."
And how is it working out for you?
"Pretty good. There was a beach. And I sat. Good times."

Friday, 26 August 2011

Marital Lost in Translation

So it turns out that to say something is on sale, or in a special deal, most of Italy does not use the term "in azione".

Husband has spent years chortling every time I use this expression. I now find out he had never heard it.

Is it a Ticinese thing? Like Classeur, and Natel?

Of course, he also laughs when I use the word "cencio" for rag, and that IS proper Italian.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Our Country of Children

All the talk on the morning news was about government ideas about powers to shut down social media during our next round of riots. Or, I suppose, whenever they feel it necessary.

I'm going to go ahead and assume this is a "much ado about nothing" situation, even though both television and radio news were talking of little else. Just because I can't imagine this is at all a serious consideration, but rather some press making a big deal out of Cameron's throwaway comments. I hope...?

In any case that fact that anybody in government even considered the option of shutting down social media (or any form of media) during emergencies is a clear sign that these people have little or no understanding of, well, virtually anything. I mean, they might have wonderful stamp collections, or grow magnificent aubergines, but they know little about why and how people communicate.

You don't have to like Twitter to accept that other people DO like it, and use it. For me it worked wonders during the riots breaking news about areas that were starting to look dangerous, what was happening where, and most important of all: in organising the riot clean up.

Or as I would have said when I was in high school: "Duh!"

Or, once again, Westminster looks out of its windows and sees not a nation of citizens, but a playground of children, who must be treated and dealt with accordingly.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Giving artists the exposure they deserve

I bring to you the rhymes of one Bob Gebhardt, find him on twitter, if you dare:

Poor old dictator Qadaffi,
His big family’s now cut in half, he
Can’t find Seif
Or even his wife…
She left with his pet duck named Daffy.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

"you're going to embarrass your mother"

The London Riots (so-called, also known as London shopping free for all) have had me thinking about Bill Cosby's "Pound Cake" speech.

I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if get caught with it you're going to embarrass your mother. Not you're going to get your butt kicked. No. You're going to embarrass your mother. You're going to embarrass your family.


Monday, 8 August 2011

But the book stores are fine?

Lucky escape. The so-called London rioters must have just been on their way to raid the shelves of the nearest Waterstone's when the police stormed in. Don't you think so?


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Like Senior Year, Only Funner

Because too much high art can be a bad thing, I tempered last week's ROH Swan Lake with this week's Savoy Theatre Legally Blonde - the musical.

Which was better?
It's a toss up.

The opening number is called "Oh my God, you guys!" which, let's face it: is funny.

The musical flows very well, with a good script, it's a pick-me-up-with-real-dogs-on-stage-knee-slapping-laugh-out-louder. I mean hey: Legally Blonde, with a Greek chorus? Brilliant.

The winning number - one of the best musical numbers I have seen in a long time: Is he gay or European.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

22 Years Ago

I am officially old enough to remember something that happened that long ago, which was the last time I saw my friend Scramasax77. That's not his real name, his parents didn't hate him.

Heaps of fun having lunch with him today!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Duck Pond and Goose Puddle

So Swan Lake was, I have to admit, striking.

I am not the ballet fan - funny enough - in my house. Giuseppe rather has been wanting to see a ballet at the Royal Opera House for a while now, ever since we happened upon tickets to the Bolshoi in Moscow. It sparked an interest for him. I, on other hand, always said that if I was going to spend money on ROH tickets, it would be for opera (which I love).

But we have been to see a few operas there, and what with leaving London soon (and me having a slightly better understanding of ballet, now that I do it a little), I caved.

And who wouldn't after all: this was opening night of the ballet season, showing Swan Lake performed by the Mariinsky Theatre, who basically re-created Swan Lake as we know it.

The staging was beautiful, that I will say. Odette/Odile was quite sincerely un-imaginable: she looked like dancing perfection. My other favourite was Benno (I think - dressed as a joker?).

All truth be told, though: I would have shaved an hour off the whole thing.

Update:
Everybody to whom I mention Swan Lake has asked if Giuseppe managed to sit through the whole thing. It's interesting to me how people can know us so well, and yet social stereotypes maintain the ruling ground.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Tom Hanks, The Evangelist

I went to mass yesterday, and it turns out that to understand Jesus' message we can either read the New Testament or just watch the film Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.

That might bring comfort to some.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ron Paul Makes Me Smile

I was watching this video of Ron Paul's moments in the 13th June debate, and feeling happy. Why? Several reasons but the main one being: I wasn't listening to a politician. I'm trying to picture Cameron, Miliband, and a flurry of others sounding like him and I just can't. These weren't sound-bites, and nothing was dumbed down. Straight answers, yes or no, and - dare we hope for it - an actual understanding of the economy.

Monday, 18 July 2011

I lied

See I had promised myself a weekend of intense work to decimate my to-do list. But something went wrong.

Although I did spend three hours trying to install Joomla! on to my computer... unsuccessfully... so that was a good waste of time.

Other than that there were pitchers of Pimms, rowing clubs, engagement celebrations, birthdays, new house celebrations, absinthe and all the best scenes from Top Gun. And I'm pretty sure all I had for dinner Friday was ice cream.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

What on earth is going on?

It's 10 to 6 on a Friday evening: our website is down, everybody has disappeared and the only help I'm getting is from the one person who is actually on holiday.

People: Bex aint happy

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Don't dress me up

Two weekends, two fancy dress parties. And I think I failed at both.

First was a birthday party with one, simple instruction: wear red. This was stated, repeated and underlined. Turns out I only have 1 red article of clothing, namely an extra large t-shirt with this on it:

So I wore this and jeans, and showed up to find everyone decked out like it was a yacht festival in Monaco: men in Italian suites, women in stilettos and mini-dresses... and nobody at all wearing red.

Yesterday's party had a Bond Villains theme to it. My original plan had been to wear beige and go as Mr. Bigglesworth. Those who know me can confirm: I kind of look like a shaved cat anyway. But, no beige clothes, and a phone call confirmed I could just wear a cocktail dress and be an anonymous Bond girl.

I went for shocking pink, showed up, and it turns out the instruction just might have been "just wear a BLACK cocktail dress".

Oops.

Again.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Liliana Borgioli Comucci, March 1921 - June 2011


My silence on this blog is due mainly to the somewhat sudden passing of my grandmother, or Nonna Liliana as I knew her. She had been ill but not for long, for which, all in all, I am thankful.

Nonna, non potrai piu' prepararmi la carnina come sai fare solo tu, ma ora mi sarai sempre vicina.

Ti abbraccio forte forte.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Dilemma and Sarah Palin

Yup: two separate things.

Have you ever seen the film The Dilemma? It's awful, but that's beside the point. There's a scene at the end, when the two best friends are fighting and one says to the other, pointing in his face and full of anger:
"It must have been really difficult for you, I can't even imagine, but don't ever keep a secret from me again."
And you realise: that's a very mature and reasonable response, and it just doesn't make for great TV.

Which brings me to Palin: why do you think everyone over here in the old world likes to talk about Palin and those crazy Americans that just might elect her? Because the "crazy Americans" won't elect her but the serious contenders just don't make for great TV. Why focus on a well-reasoned and intelligent Ron Paul when you can focus on Palin and get a laugh out of it.

By the way: look up Ron Paul.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Plié, Relevé, Tendu, Fondue

My very first adult ballet class
Not quite what my mind had pictur'd it as
Black Swan wasn't there
No twirls or jumps in th'air
I guess that's how Hollywood plays with us

Yes, you heard me: I went to a ballet class yesterday. Before going I checked the school's website a dozen times to confirm these classes were for adults; I kept picturing myself turning up into a room of twenty 9 year olds in tutus.

But I was ok, this was an absolute beginner ballet class. And I am that: a beginner, in absolute terms. My motivation is not the desire to become a prima ballerina, nor relive my childhood (ballet in Switzerland with an Uruguayan/English friend, what a childhood). I just need to do more exercise and I don't enjoy yoga or pilates, tennis in London is a nightmare and gymns don't match value for money IMHO.

So I spent an hour and a half plié-ing, relevé-ing, tendu-ing and trying to hold my arm in arabesque without looking like a fascist salute. You don't move around a lot for this sort of thing, but it is still quite a lot of work.

Ballet was followed by dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant in King's Cross. Eating Ethiopian food apparently looks like this.

Some foods taste better when eaten with your hands (ever tried to use a knife and fork on a burger people?)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lessons learned the hard way

In Italian the words "bar" and "Caffe'" are pretty much interchangeable. The place where you go get your espresso in the morning, or your 3pm cappuccino, is called a "bar".

I moved to the US when I was 18, for university and spent a couple of months suggesting to new friends that we go to "a bar" at all hours of the day.

No wonder people took time to get used to me.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I love what I do

A friend recently told me I am the only person she knows who likes her job. Which was a little depressing.

I know a lot of people don't like their jobs, or don't like the daily activity of their jobs, but I was surprised to hear I am so rare. My problem is not enough time to do more jobs.

I work at Linex Systems, as well as DumbAgent.com, and yes I love both of those jobs (and the daily activities each requires). The work is fun, the goal is motivating, the companies are ones with which I am glad to be associated. And for each I can point to my influence and outcome and know this day has taught me something new.

But then, living this way was never really an option selected from several. I mean: it always seemed quite obvious.

Looking back I realise I grew up in a home where my parents didn't complain about work. Or about anything really. In retrospect I realise sometimes things didn't go their way, but their attitude never faltered.

Anyway all this to say that it was always normal for me that you liked your job. And if you don't, you change it. This isn't separate from your own commitment to making it fun, nobody is going to do it for you. But then, I think people just like complaining. Somehow a lot of people seem to think that that is the greatest aspiration in life: to have a life about which you can complain. A lot.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Whatever you do, do it for me

Two young women on the telly, participating in some "home vote" show for something or other, are asked why the public should [spend money to] vote for them.

"Because this is what I have always wanted to do, from a very young age."

"Because I love doing this and I have had a lot of fun."

My money: what's in it for me?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Feminism v. Femininity

Because I could not have put it better myself:

"I can't find feminism -- at least not if feminism includes independence, liberty, and power for women. Instead I find femininity -- the assumption that women are incapable of fending for themselves in the marketplace of epithets or ideas, the belief that women are rendered helpless by misogynist speech and the sexist tantrums of their male peers."

From Sexual Harassment and the Loneliness of the Civil Libertarian Feminist, by Wendy Kaminer.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Dagny Isn't Real...

... but she is still my hero.

Why she is, is summed up well in these words:
They realize that life is about achievement, that happiness is the norm, that suffering is unnatural, and that tragedy is the exception.

From Edward Younkin's piece in Rebirth of Reason.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Back to the cold old world

It's pretty cold in London.

We had an overnight flight so this is jet lag time. But in a nutshell: great trip. I like Atlanta, even learned to pronounce it Etlanna. Charlotte needs more exploring but my first impression is favourable. And Giuseppe attended his first baseball game. What more do you need?

The baseball stadium by the way is like the Hilton of stadium. It's a playground for all ages where you can also watch some sport. They have lifts with a/c and attendants; audience music selection; food everywhere and something scary called a Kiss Cam.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Gender-less Children

There's a thing on telly about families who keep their children's gender a secret so the child can choose his own path.

I confess I like the idea but for completely different reasons: I would know the gender of my child and his/her needs etc. But people around us would not and therefore that would not affect the way they treat my child in early days. I like that.

America I

When I was little I always enjoyed the ice machines in American hotels. I would arrive, drop my bags and got get ice, which I then may or may not use. I just thought it was great that I could get ice whenever I wanted.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lu to the Gano

I haven't been very good at posting since I have been here. Turns out I have been having full days from 8am to past midnight. I'll get some photos up on Flickr later and fill you all in. For now: Grancia.


UPDATE:
Lugano's international community is on the rise, with 11'000 foreigners in the Canton now, and they are building a new opera/symphony house along the lake. Let's just hope it's not hideous and we're on the way to being a real city here.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Rosalind Franklin would disagree

This recent xkcd comic reminds me of a recent conversation.

A couple were telling us how they chose their son's all-boy school. As the school's principal explained: by not having girls in the classrooms, they can dedicate more time to mathematics and science and provide a higher level of learning.

My response was as you read in the title: "Rosalind Franklin would disagree."

This was about a month ago. It still makes my skin crawl.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Alumni Weekend

It was 2 days of alumni events non-stop... for three different schools. In particular two US universities: Franklin College which is in my home-town of Lugano, and Vassar College, my Alma mater.

First of all, the Franklin evening.
A quick word on the college: founded in 1969, it is a liberal arts college with both US and Swiss academic accreditation. It sits on a beautiful hillside over-looking most of Lugano, and boasts one of the world's most loved Italian professors: my mother Ornella Gebhardt.

Friday's event was a social reception with a brief presentation on sustainability projects on campus. I thank Franklin for extending the invitation to me, other than an occasional summer course I did not attend the college myself. The presentation was interesting and I was fully introduced to the great friendliness and diversity of the Franklin student body.

It was a great evening of meeting new people (and seeing a couple of known faces as well), all of whom were friendly, interesting and enthusiastic about their lives. A thoroughly enjoyable night out.

Saturday was the Vassar Sesquicentennial event in London. It was a long but interesting day of talks, presentations and some social time as well.

After a morning coffee we heard opening remarks about Vassar and the Liberal Arts: Then and Now by the woman who was my adviser at the college, Rachel Kitzinger (this woman is one of the main reasons I chose to major in Classical Greek).
I may have to enquire if she will distribute a copy of her speech. She spoke of course about the purpose of a liberal arts education: what the term means and how Vassar evolved throughout the years. She quoted from the Antigone to highlight the complexity of "learning" in higher education. As I am typing from memory I don't have the exact words, but she concluded to the effect of: to each question there are many equally valid answers, all plausible, correct, destructive and irreconcilable.

This was followed by Susan Kuretsky's talk The Transformation of Shadows, about how the tools for teaching history of art have evolved. This incorporated a classroom lecture by Andrew Tallon on the Hagia Sophia using live graphics and 3D modelling.

We broke for a buffet lunch - equally interesting and entertaining as being surrounded by Vassar grads of different eras often is.

The afternoon brought two more lectures and a brief presentation.
We started with Ron Patkus' 40 minute lecture about different version of the front page of Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica over the course of about 150 years. Yes, just this:

It sound so strange and yet it was sincerely interesting. Amazing how much this page can tell you about the author, the publisher, the place and time, and society.
My personal favourite was the edition "for use the by the ladies".

Ellen Silbergeld followed this with a talk on the use of mapping in the field of public health. Again, fascinating points about the use of maps throughout the history of public health, right up to Google as the most successful indicator for predicting flu outbreaks.
I also learned about Darwin's views on women as evolutionarily challenged (I think that's the PC term): "We may also infer from the law of the deviation from averages, that the average mental power in man must be above that of women." (just to choose one quote).


We ended with a brief presentation by the Royal Society's head librarian about the collection he manages.

And here also ends today's post. If I manage to get my hands on Rachel's speech I will link to it here.



Tuesday, 3 May 2011

#OBL

He got his own hashtag, we are all more famous in death than in life I guess.

Anyway, now that it has sunk in a little and I re-read what I wrote yesterday, I have some brief thoughts to add.

First of all I hope it was clear that I feel no sadness or remorse at this man's death, simply not jubilant happiness. The sense of relief that I mentioned, however, has since increased. I think in my immediate reaction I was somewhat dumbstruck and didn't know what to think.

I am still unimpressed by images of people rejoicing, but I in no way equate their actions to those who rejoiced at the attack on the twin towers in 2001.

And that is all. Compliments to the US Intelligence forces, compliments to the Navy Seals, and compliments to all those who have risked and in too many cases given their lives in combat throughout these 10 years.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama with an "S"

Poor Sky News correspondent was talking about Obama talking about Osama and he was having some trouble keeping the names straight.

I heard the news on the radio when I woke up, so came in to the sitting room and turned on the TV. The first images I saw were people at Ground Zero celebrating. Which I confess: made me sad. At Osama's death I feel relief, but not joy.

I'll tell you what would have had me cheering: capture. And a trial. Although I realise that itself could potentially bring bigger problems than his death. I'm not sad that he's dead either. Better dead than alive and operating, no doubt. And I am proud and thankful to those who spent years in his hunt and in this weekend's operations.

Anyway, that's my immediate and sincere response. Let's see how that evolves as the news sinks in.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Life of a Princess

This might make me sound like an old grouch (like you, Ocean!), but I just don't get the life of a prince and princess.

Everybody here is "so proud" of the young prince, his lovely bride, they are discreet and elegant and kind and I don't know what else. And from this day hence nothing they do will have any impact at all other than creating photo ops for the press.

Actually I gather Prince William will continue with the Search&Rescue team he has joined for a few more years. Good. But after that?

The UK Royalty, while a huge part of the local culture, is still only ceremonial. You have a busy schedule on which you get very little if any say at all. You travel around the world meeting foreign dignitaries for lunch. You adhere to a strict protocol of what you can and can not say.
You don't have any decision making power. You are not producing. Your opinions are never expressed.

I get that you live in great comfort, of course, but the perks seem to end there.

Having said all of this: recall that I grew up in Switzerland, where not only is there not a monarchy, there isn't really even a head of state in the sense of a prime minister or president. Switzerland is a rare country where you grow up with no focus at all and ever on a major political figure, we just don't have that.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine

The name Matt Shepard may ring a bell. He was a lovely young man, best known for having been brutally beaten and left to die one night in 1998. He went from being somebody I had met a couple of times, a friend of my brother who always smiled and seemed to take a genuine interest in me and my life, to being a headline; a cause; a terrible, haunting story.

My friend Michele (@michelejosue) is now making a documentary about the young man behind the headlines. In her own words:
I feel it's so important, especially in this day and age, to share with the world the story of our Matt, as not just a symbol, but as a real person who had the love and respect of his family and his many friends
See more about the project Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine on kickstarter. You can donate to the film project, and find the project on Facebook as well.

Monday, 25 April 2011

TWiST

Catching up on old TWiST episodes.

Today is work day. Catching up on some emails (not done yet if you are waiting on me), reading and research, and preparing my weekly agenda (it's a busy week).

If I want to know more about Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC: where can I look? Who could I talk to?

A good Easter Monday to all.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

I'm still here

Just been a manic week. But this is my first post from the Blogger app for Droid. Hurrah.

More tomorrow I presume. Now: colomba.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, 16 April 2011

TurboTax Nightmare

Enter Kafka:

I am trying to file my US taxes using TurboTax. There is a god of paperwork somewhere laughing at me with great joy.

Where to even start?

It demands a telephone number, but will not allow a foreign number to be used.

It demands a social security number for my husband, who is not American and does not have one.

It requires that I upgrade in order to add foreign-earned. Then, when I try to pay for the upgrade, it demands a US billing address. Really people: the clue was in the "foreign-earned income" part.

I have now paid but can not print the documents or complete my filing because it still wants a SSN for my Italian husband.

TurboTax might work great in the US, but if you are filing from abroad it's one nightmare after another. Not to mention a huge waste of time!

I would try HRBlock instead but they promised me a call back I never received.

Ooh there's a wall, excuse me while I bang my head against it.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The End of Shopping

Is part of the subtitle of the book The Great Disruption, by Paul Gilding.

I went to see him present his book at The Hub King's Cross last night: how climate change is the new WWII (his comparison) and how it will disrupt the world as we know it. Fair enough. Notwithstanding the fact that he is on a global tour (plane exhaust anyone?) to present and flog a book (printed on paper, indeed), a few points remain unclear to me.

For one thing: his points about markets appeared confused to me. He said he is a great fan of markets - although each time he used the word he felt the need to explain he doesn't mean the Goldman Sachs, large finance "markets"; is his assumption that his audience does not know what "markets" actually means? In any case he said - and I agree wholeheartedly - that markets will be the solution. People, entrepreneurs, with ideas and energy and a strong belief in their success, will be creating the tools we need to survive in the new world order.

However: he continuously spoke of the need for a "designed economy". This sounded very close to a planned economy, his repeated example was how during WWII people were told what they would produce and how and to what volume. You wanted to make something different? Tough. But people were willing to do that to serve a common good. What he did not make clear was what is that in between he envisions, that is not an unfettered open market, but is not (I presume given the point above) a fully planned economy.
Is he referring to the current model of "capitalist societies" where we have free markets with some regulation to keep checks? Or, as the example he uses, an economy that is directed from above? And if the latter, how does that allow for the entrepreneurial solution he envisions?

An audience member asked if he saw the solution for the future coming out of China or America. He said as of right now: China, hands down. But: America and Americans have a way of doing a lot very quickly when they realise that is the way the world is going, and so he sees them coming up from behind at the last minute and ultimately setting the example.

Do you share my confusion as to his exact point of view?

There is another point about which I would like to know more, and this is not one of disagreement with his argument, rather one of a genuine need for better understanding. Working on the premise that "The earth is full", Gilding said that when things get to their worst, the poorest part of the global population will die and the rest of us, in rich countries, will pull through and come out the other end.
On the other hand: the areas with the world's poor are often the areas most rich in natural resources. China has been buying up huge swathes of land on the African continent for a very good reason, after all. So my question is: is not the poverty and malnourishment in these countries due to mismanagement, rather than a lack of resources? How will this be affected by the envisioned break down of civilisation as we know it? And of course we fall in to the tragedy of the commons area here: is not private ownership of this land for the long term purpose of cultivation a good thing? Is that not the best solution available now?

Overall in his speech I learned quite a lot, if with the remaining question marks. Alas, I confess, I did not buy the book (I am on a Kindle, you see, and live in a paperless world).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

With Friends Like These...

You learn a lot about friends when things change.

Obviously when they change for the worse, we all know how that works. But also when things just change, period.

It is interesting at that point to see who can change with you, follow you into a new situation and who suddenly has nothing to share with you any more. Question: why are we friends? Is it because the factual details of our lives are the same, and once I am no longer "the same", our friendship has nothing left to hang on? Is it because everything I do, you would do as well? So the moment I do something that you would NOT do, you cease to understand? You can not imagine or accept a world where people - friends - do things you would not do?
And if so: is that friendship?

That's an honest question by the way, I'm not being rhetorical. Is it friendship? Is it a valid friendship? Can it have even been a deep friendship until the point of change?