Monday, September 29, 2008

True feelings

Opinion polls should technically predict election results quite accurately, but for reasons probably deep in human psychology they sometimes don't really get it right. Some bright spark in Iowa decided to create an options market to predict election results and other phenomena. This structure forces the people voicing an opinion to put their money where their mouths are and guess the result. And it is this system that is the most accurate in prediction these days. The market rules again! Naturally there are some obvious drawbacks (i.e. only those with money, access, risk-taking proclivities take part) but results are results. In New Zealand we have our own options market ( for the election and other issues. The tests differ in one just asks which one the respondent supports and the other, which result would you invest in.

Why should asking people what they actually feel not lead to the 'right' result though? Well, there can be wishful thinking; the person might want someone to win but not be inclined to go out and vote; the person could be tepid and go with a party that they have always gone with. Investment requires a bit more circumspection, objective considerations and reality checks (mind over heart). It eliminates those who aren't really that motivated.

This applies in real life too of course. One can profess one way, but whether they invest energy, consideration and action into things should be the prime test. The more accurate test. Actions do speak louder than words.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Now powered by a broadband connection, I've set about starting to live a cyber-life worthy of someone with my inclinations. After some hesitation, I got iTunes again and downloaded a few of those annoying songs that artists leave off all but their main albums then slip onto their greatest hits (which as you've got all their albums, you don't want to buy).

Monday morning always contains the challenge for me of thinking of random speaking topics that I can use in my lessons for the week. Inspired by recent purchases from iTunes and the beleaguered Real Groovy, I raised the topic of following and purchasing music. Some still tuned into the radio; others didn't follow music at all any more; but the greatest number did still follow music and downloaded music for their consumption. Did you pay for it? I inquired. To my surprise not a single person paid for their music downloads ever in their past (I didn't expect that there would be a high number, but I did expect at least a few to have).

Naturally, climbing onto the moral high ground with a tin opener and a can of worms, I delved deeper. You're well-paid auditors; if you aren't paying for music, who would? Why wouldn't you pay for music if you have appreciation for those who produce it?

The responses and defences were quite interesting. The most defiant stated that the number of illegal downloads showed the market itself was faulty. (It would be interesting to see the calculation of whether the market would survive if it allowed free downloads of all artists - he thought so; I did not.) Another raised the point that downloaded music might encourage people to buy the CDs hence it should be legalised (Did he buy CDs subsequent to downloading? Never). One said that many artists allowed music downloads proving it should be OK for all artists to survive doing so (I'd agree that musicians should be able to choose whether to allow such downloads but for the user to trample on this choice or to use those that do as justification is a bit unwise). A fairly common theme was also saying that the musicians tended to waste their money anyway and didn't deserve any more money (interestingly, these views came from proud capitalists from former communist countries).

I tried not to be too judgemental - but it is rather cool to have a controversial topic to discuss. So who does pay for stuff these days? On a Daniel survey of those around, I'm the lone person to pay. How can this business model work?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Outside World

When I first went down to Wellington, I was surprised by the number of nameable public figures I was spotting in airports, on planes and in the city. For the last two months, I haven't noticed any until today when I spotted the now very familiar face of Mike Williams. Maybe my period of introspection has broken and I can now just rest my mind on the outside world again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ah, NOW I get it!
Observing self

I hold a philosophical view that experiencing is the true matter of life (as the main thing to consider). This is probably not too controversial and it has had its benefits. There is no such thing as boredom and there is nothing that can be deemed negative, no matter how bad the experience is. Recent experiences have proved it (as in really tested it) and proven it to me at the same time. Going through, transiting from one phase to another is special. It can be unbearable; It can be interminable; It can be instant and immediate; It can be detached; And it can be pleasant or horrid at the time of its passing as well as in its recollection.

Up until this year, I had a good grasp of my nature - I could anticipate my feelings accurately. Recently though all that past self-knowledge has not only become invalidated in its accuracy, but generally has now been trashed. Little applies to the present. I have had to grasp things anew, in what for a while seemed like another person's mind. So I've taken to observing myself rigorously. Does observation affect the experience of life? That is impossible to know. But the sheer act of observing, of learning from it, enriches it far more than experiencing alone. Simply experiencing is fine, but accepting it as a result, a process and cause naturalises it.

Anxiety seems to be a rather constant companion of late - it has never been so before (although some elements have been there in different forms in the past). It'll be interesting to watch how it changes with time, when it intensifies, when it recedes, whether it disappears and whether it can be treated.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Flutter, iced water and the odd case of the VW

During a tough week two weeks ago, I was struggling to understand the way my emotions flowed far beyond my control. I would pitch into despair without warning. I would be beyond consoling and only distraction could save me. I explained it to friends who didn't seem to have had a similar period.

This last week I've similarly been stricken again by the surge and flow of emotions, but this time positive - I haven't been this electrified in a long time. It has been simply extraordinary.

EXHIBIT A: Unsent clumsy prose
"If it makes you feel awkward that you have made me so happy, just think that you have been a catalyst rather than a source. To use an analogy of Socrates, you’ve been the midwife who has incidentally helped me give birth to a surprising amount of joy. Maybe before there was still the burden weighing down my balloon, but the weights have been released so I could ascend with ease: 自由自在"

While there is no news to tell (I've been refreshed by cold water), I'm in a very interesting place. I feel like I've ascended to a height from where I can see over what came before with some insight. But then again, I can hardly bank on another emotional rollercoaster not happening in the near future.

This winter has brought me: cruel heartbreak, depressive depths, the giddiness of being lovesick and the joys, agonies and flaws of true honesty. Could it possibly be that I'm getting more from this season than any other? Truly to all those who have been a part of this: Thank you. (And Winter isn't over for another week and a bit!)

Monday, September 01, 2008

In Memorial

On Saturday just past, Noel Muller passed away. Despite being handicapped both physically and verbally by a stroke, he was always a strong, engaging and kind individual and I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss things with him. I went to chat with him weekly not out of a sense of obligation or charity, but the desire to spend time with him. I will miss his company.