Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Casualties for 2017

These are the people that I know have walked away from me, thinking "what a complete asshole". They're four very different people from different walks of my life, and they only really have one thing in common. They irritated me at some point.

These people are good, honest people - all with a very good heart and I am not glad they hate me, but you don't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Every one of these fallouts have caused me a sense of personal reproach. I should be better.

At certain times throughout the year I have allowed my mask of affability to slip. Dealing with people takes so much energy for me - people who don't know me wish they were my friend. The people who do know me are painfully aware that nobody should want to be my friend.

People who take the time to really know me - well they have a fierce ally. I thank God for both of them.

So the casualties of 2017 are:

I wish I could be better, and have nobody on this list. But it's been a big year. And as far as the list of people that I consider irredeemable - only two:

As Rudyard Kipling said "being hated don't give in to hate". Well, I hate about half as much as I'm hated, in 2017.

As Jules said at the end of Pulp Fiction:
"[I've only just realised that] I am the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying so hard to be the shepherd."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The only time that seems too short is the time we get to play...

At the moment I am really enjoying working with students of all types as they design research projects, collect data, analyse it and present.

It's an honour. And sitting with them as they take ownership of the research process is great time. In a classroom, in a pub, in the hallway. Always good.

And there's the other stuff. Admin, counselling, following up, travelling.

And the only time that seems too short is the time I get to spend across a table with the students who are truly in charge of their own stuff..

"We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came"

And it reminds me of this song:

"Let the fools speak"

Sometimes the people of Australia impress the hell out of me. I like that there was a resounding vote of yes to marriage equality. The Australian people tend to make good decisions when they are given the choice. So I hate the shutting down of debate that I often see. In a very general sense we should let the fools speak and let the people decide.

Consider Queensland, the state that is sometimes the butt of jokes about being perhaps a little unintelligent. That state just destroyed the One Nation party and relegated Pauline Hanson to a fringe dweller. I think I like Pauline Hanson, however I disagree with most of what she says. But in this great country Pauline Hanson got to say what she wanted. And the Australian people got to say what they thought about that.

I don't think Pauline Hanson is a fool but I believe in the principle of "let the fools speak and let the people decide". I don't think Milo Yiannopoulos is a fool either, yet I am going to watch him speak and all I am going to watch the social dynamics that surround him. I just hope that next Friday night his function won't be shut down by protesters and I lose my money.

Or worse, that I end up on the TV screen being called a Neo-Nazi because I went along to look. Sometimes Australians disappoint me, and you can guarantee that if I'm getting jostled and abused, then I'll be feeling a little disappointed.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

I once did wine research

I'm in Singapore for the second to last time. I think I have some work to do here in January but that will probably finish me up on work gigs to Singapore.

I've been coming here to do work since 2002. I think I'll sort of miss it. I might see if I can find a job here. Or somewhere else remote from Adelaide.

But walking through UE Square does remind me of when I spent a huge amount of time in this wine store doing a wine shelf experiment.

I think I have a few blogs and photos left in the vault. I'll probably roll them out with a sense of nostalgia over the next month or so.

Man that was a long time ago.

From the vault: Good people going evil

Originally 4/9/2010

Boredom, peer group pressure, power imbalances. I have watched (and been) a good person caught up in the group hysteria that crushes some people. It's shocking.

I was recently listening to a podcast about the Stanford prison experiment - 1971 - that documents the descent of good people into doing bad things:

"In 1971, 23 American college students' lives were changed by the now notorious Stanford Prison Experiment. For the eminent psychologist responsible, Philip Zimbardo, the parallels to the atrocities at Abu Ghraib are palpable. In an exclusive Australian interview, he joins Natasha Mitchell, to reflect on the capacity in all of us to commit evil. It's a case of good apples put in bad barrels."


The danger of thinking clearly

This journalist - Paige Taylor - will be pilloried because she has been prepared to think seriously about an issue. A complex tragedy with good and evil behind every door. As I often say "critics give away more about themselves when they criticise".

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It can't all be carrots

In a world where there should be carrots and sticks. Praise for performance and consequences for making dumb mistakes. I was interested to find that some students pulled together a group complaint about me and sent it up the chain of command. They may get their wish and I'll be taken off teaching this course.

That would be unfortunate.

In related news, I just checked (on a second submission) how many of the students just made the same mistake. Out of 15 - only one. A reduction in skwewup rate from 30% down to 7%. The employers and supervisors of the future can thank me later. So can the students, but chances are that I'll be gone.

It can't all be carrots, but sometimes we can make the sticks a cheap lesson.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When is a mango not a mango?

I'm here in Cairns where mangoes grow on trees. Yet they still sell for about $3 each in the supermarket, and growers out on the Tablelands are letting the rot on the ground. So when is a mango not a mango? When it's a part of "the total product".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wrong paradigm: Nobody expects to be evaluated on their results

I recently set a (tiny, 2%) task for some students whereby they got measured on results rather than the effort.
I asked them to trim up a data file and then share it with me through - pretty much - any cloud method they wanted.

I made it very clear that the only thing I wanted to do was click on the link and open it up. I had told them that I could be anywhere and using any account. I might be in Botswana, I might be using a Gmail account or Hotmail or whatever.

A significant number failed. They mistakenly introduced authorities that meant I couldn't read it; they shared rather than providing a shareable link - there were a fair few ways to screw this up.
And only one way to get it right.

When they got right I would just click a hyperlink and download the file.
Imagine the outcry when I failed them purely because they could not get me the file.
  • "But I work so hard on this"
  • "But I need to be able to pass this"
  • "But all you needed to do was contact me so that I could fix it up"
  • "You know what I meant"
  • "I don't understand computers"
  • "Maybe there is a language problem"

It has been interesting to see what happens when you force people to be assessed on results rather than the effort they put in. And the idea that a whole heap of effort might come to absolutely nothing because of one simple mistake - unthinkable!

"Welcome to the party, pal!" Welcome to life.