Sunday, July 30, 2017

Drugstores' war on aspirin

My painkiller of choice is aspirin. It's the nearest thing I have to a natural remedy.

Hundreds of years old maybe more and an extract from Willow bark.

It is amazingly cheap I can buy 12 tablets for about a dollar fifty in the supermarket.

That's why it is so hard to find in some places. In the US it is cheap but there is only one SKU - in Singapore The Guardian Pharmacy simply didn't sell aspirin.

There was aspirin mixed with glycine I think for about $9 a dozen cap capsules. And the aspirin was only 100 mg. And in the US that was selling low dose aspirin - tablets with a quarter of the active ingredient - to prevent heart disease at twice the price of regular.

It seems that if you want a painkiller they want you to spend huge amounts of money on ingredients that you don't know or understand. That's the world we live in.

Friday, July 28, 2017

I've done all the dumb things...

My theme song, done cool. I applied to me in 1988 and ever more so as I turn 50. For me it doesn't get too much better than this...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Expensive luxuries: ignoring or disrespecting your customers

It's no big deal. But if I turn out to an ice cream stand that has not customers looking at the person who owns it with my wallet in my hand there's a fair chance that I am looking to buy.

If the person running the stand is casually finishing a conversation with his friend hasn't made eye contact with me and doesn't look like he plans to well I will just walk away.

It seems that the most expensive luxury a business person can have his that luxury of ignoring the customers.

Show this guy was just foregoing a $1 sale. Interesting that it's often young people I see doing this but this guy was 75 years old.

He didn't need my poxy $1.

Oh I much prefer "Boat Quay"

As I get older I come to realise a number of strange behaviour patterns and speech patterns in people.

One of these patterns is when you mentioned something then the other person mentions a fine variation on that that demonstrates that "I too I'm familiar with the intricacies whatever it is you're talking about".

So I was speaking about Singapore once and I mentioned Clarke Quay bit of an interesting place in the evening.

And my conversation partner at the time said "oh yes but I prefer Boat Quay it's that little more grungy and real life".

No harm, no foul. Just interesting.

My experiment: Virtue signalers identify yourselves

I have the perfect conditions for an observation experiment. I am interested in demonstrating what virtue signaling is, how it comes about, and who in my contacts is prone to it.

Virtue signaling is the process of becoming outraged on another's behalf in order to demonstrate one's own set of enlightened values. or:

"Virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group"

We have the perfect experimental stimulus right now. A few days ago respected Kaurna Elder Stephen Goldsmith died. Jamie, faced with the Herculean task of grieving his father began it in the way of his culture. He lit a fire in his backyard to serve as a meeting place for his community. That fire will burn until the grieving process is over - although grieving never really is done. I first saw it in the movie Jindabyne - the movie based on Paul Kelly's haunting song "Everything's turning to white"

But Jamie doesn't live on the foreshore of Port Gawler or the banks of the River Light. Jamie lives in the suburbs of Adelaide and one of his neighbors complained to the council. This happens in the Burbs, and a council has a responsibility to engage. They did. The council officer attended last night and was quickly told the facts of life. The officer left to speak to his supervisor and that was that.

This morning a Marion Councillor was on the radio saying that a permit has been issued, regretting any offense and offering her condolences to Jamie. Well played all.

I like Jamie's point that his religion is the oldest in the country although I note that there are some 600 aboriginal nations. Still, Christianity is a mere pup. And what a shit job, mourning the loss of your dad at 60. I thought I was special losing my mom at 67. Love to you Jamie.

My observation experiment

So the oxygen should have gone out of that story. That did not stop Premier Jay Weatherill from firing a few shots but that was admittedly before the Councillor was on morning radio. As I am spending today mashing buttons on a computer in the name of work I will record the posts of outrage at come across my social media feed.

No doubt I will offend some people. In this case they get the chance to be offended or very real reasons.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Teaching in Singapore is great!

I might not be able to continue to do it for long but it's good while I have it!

Where there's a giver there is always a taker

It's been a busy morning. I am in Singapore on work, but that hasn't stopped a half a dozen acquaintances asking for things from me. At least when it happens in work I get to send an invoice.

Sure these things are all small things and I reduce the total amount of energy that gets spent on getting a job done. But the truth is somebody has an hour of their time saved for me spending ten minutes of my time.

But that is still my 10 minutes. Six of those has lost me an hour. Sure the rest of the world has saved six hours of their time, and I just lost one.

And I found that being a giver is a thankless job. It seems that when you feed the beast it just becomes more hungry, and asks for more.

It's the same with sharing. It seems that the biggest advocates of the whole "let's share everything" are often those who have the least.

Stuff, energy, natural ability, social capital. Perhaps the natural human trait is that when we are deficient in something we find it easier to use somebody else's then build or accumulate it  for ourselves.

And I suspect I am just as guilty of asking a friend to lend a hand when there's really not that much in it for them. I hope I'm mindful of balance - probably not.

South Australia: How did we get here?

When I was a kid and I thought about how hostile forces might overthrow a country I thought that they might do a few things.

Attack from within: the country can fight a known aggressor but when the aggressor infiltrates the government and the social class they are more difficult to fight.

Remove the population's ability to reason: propaganda works that way and so do many other religions and dogmas

Strike at the utilities: Water, Roads, Sanitation Communications, Electricity. Cripple these things and you cripple a country.

So in the wash up of An Inconvenient Truth, surely the forces of darkness have managed to do this with our electricity supply. In South Australia we currently have the most expensive electricity in the world, and some of the least reliable. 

Businesses are leaving the state because it just makes sense, and we have cemented our position as the rustbucket state. My advice to my three children is to get out of South Australia, build a career and come back when it's time to raise kids (or retire).

One of my children had already chosen that for himself, and I have a few young friends who have successfully done just that. Shoutout to Andy and Lolly, who are raising a two month old baby Elliott.

South Australia: How did we get here?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Act now! Chill out...

As I get older I come to realise that there are nonlinear returns to effort. That there is a time to act and act hastily and then there is equally a time to do absolutely nothing - or at least that whatever things you need to do can wait a week or so.

In the garden when it's time to prune a stone fruit, spray soursobs or plant spring seedlings - there is no time like the present, when that present arrives.

It's about the rhythm of life.

I have read stories of soldiers who say that war is either heightened activity or boredom. It seems that a soldier needs to be very good at doing nothing when there is nothing to do.

Certainly in a skydive when one is sitting on the ground or waiting for the plane or on the climb up there is nothing to do. The jump is fun but when one has a malfunction one needs to work very quickly.

And so I find myself this week. When I teach in a university the first few days of a new course kids they really high return for my effort. Students become familiar with the course material and with me and no at it's gonna be alright. Also the week that contains anomalies date is where outstanding student grades all need to be entered to make them available for graduation later in the year.

We have a week where these two things converge in some way. I need to be at my best and I need the people around me to be at their best as well.

And life can return to the lazy pace that it normally has.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Next step: beyond redemption

I recently posted this to Facebook, dressed up as a quote:

"Be careful. If I'm putting a huge amount of energy into you it might just be because I am trying to determine if you are beyond redemption"

I've come to realise that this is my approach to many people and things. Life is so much simpler when I can afford to give up on some things and some people.

But I owe it to those things and people (and to myself) to examine every possible option. In a very practical sense this becomes how I manage a group of, say, 63 students.

In a 12 week course from weeks 1 to 9 I am slavishly dedicated to working with students. I beg them to come and see me for one on one sessions and I deeply engage with their research ideas. Unfortunately for the student who come to me in week 10 (having done nothing at all) I am far less willing to be involved. I'm not as harsh as some lecturers wish they could be when they muse about a snappy comment the night before the exam - "the best reading you can do right now is the Bible".

But with students and in life there is a time for me to cut my losses. After an intense period of trying to make it work, I feel confident that I can drop certain things like a hot potato.

So if I look like I have lost interest in you I can assure you that it wasn't a snap judgement. If you reexamine the period before I went missing, you might work out what I was trying to do.

In the past that has left certain people feeling as though I am just a complete asshole, and from their perspective they are probably right.

And then that feeds my other perspective on life:

"You can't have everybody love you, so in this world you have to choose. I've found it important to have good people saying good things about me and to have bad people saying bad things about me".

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fog in the hills and the nanny state

The nanny state is creeping up on us. Driving through the Adelaide Hills just then and I see that they have variable speed limit signs.

And as the conditions worsened and visibility went down I saw that the speed limit signs had reduced to 40 km per hour.

Now that's all fine but ffs when these days do we expect people to take responsibility for themselves? Sure in a macro sense we reduce accidents and heartache but in an even bigger picture we are reducing the Darwin effect.

If the visibility is bad then ffs slow the f*** down.

Wrapping people in bubblewrap only really creates a protected species of entitled incompetent adults. I see way too much of that already.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Renewed QPMR

I've had the qualified practicing market researcher accreditation for about four years now. I suppose if I'm going to be teaching at and working in it I should have some form of accreditation.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fake extrovert

There's a certain type of personality that just enjoys being around people. All people. If given the choice between sitting alone with a book or being in a room full of strangers they would choose the room full of strangers. It energizes them.

The world belongs to these people. Social groups, management structures, leisure industries and most extended families are a cacophony of voices - each person jostling for centre stage.

I make my living by doing this. I stand in front of 65 masters students - most who need to feel a personal connection to their lecturer. Many times a week I step outside my comfort zone and look a student in the eye, greeting them with stark honesty. Sometimes that honestly sounds like a compliment, most times it is something the person needs to hear but may not want to hear. Deep engagement.

This is not fun for me. It does not come naturally. I am not a people person, but I understand the requirements of the job.

So in my private time I suppose it's fair that I get to make my own choices. I recently said about myself that:

"I know how to take care of the people that matter to me and I also know how not to take care of the people who don't"

In my private life I spend a fair amount of time trying to work out if some people are worth the effort - from my own selfish perspective. Because I'm allowed to do that, and I only have so much energy.

If there's no paycheck involved and I'm being nice to you, I can assure you it's sincere. If I'm looking you in the eye and sound harsh then that is also a form of compliment. Love is not always about kisses and cuddles.

And I'm trying to avoid you then that's probably the best thing for the both of us, too. I beg you.