Saturday, 29 July 2017

Donald Trump’s Ascendancy in 2016

Let's be clear, Trump was no career politician, but despite this and a privileged personal history he quite remarkably, identified and zeroed in upon the discontent in middle America and how to get around the 240-electoral vote “Blue wall” that ran from Wisconsin to North Carolina. Metaphorically speaking, a barrier that has successfully encased a Democrat vote for the past six elections. Let's not forget, we had well over a dozen talented and more experienced candidates within the Republican camp and yet slowly, Trump lay them all to waste. This was no indolent process it was more dynamic. Over a year-long primary race they, and his Democrat rival in Hillary Clinton, could not match Trump’s better instincts about what troubled so many an American voter, the forgotten middle. It matters little that Trump’s modus operandi was ugly and most certainly cynical, it soon harboured its own momentum and, as the November 2016 election drew closer, it seeped into Trump and his camp, as if by osmosis, that they were gaining the upper hand, something that incidentally, mainstream media from their lofty LA, New York and Washington pads, completely missed.

A very rich Manhattan resident, felt the public angst more comprehensively than vanilla media, Hillary Clinton, President Obama, not to mention a talented pool of Republican wannabe’s, and in true populist fashion, he courted them, made them feel good, he won them over, he became President.

Quite nearly all politicians have a streak of anti-elitist tendencies, Donald Trump was by far the superior one, the superior populist. I viewed his campaign as both crude and different but yet wholly effective because he chose to focus, quite brilliantly mind you, on four significant issues of his but more significantly, our epoch. Illegal immigration, employment and trade, an isolationist form of foreign policy and political correctness.

The full post coming soon ... 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

When Human Resources is anything but …

It is sobering when one happens to come across an internal job advertisement for a desired position and, upon applying receives a more than positive reception from his immediate management team but, for reasons too long winded and tedious to run through here, he is overlooked when, on the surface, he was unquestionably qualified.  

Selection criteria addressed near perfectly, he was even told so. Resume content that almost perfectly met experience sought and nothing, not even a look in, omitted in the first round for apparently no logical reason.

Feedback is sought through the correct channels and it comes back giving little solace in the face of humiliation and poor treatment. The thrust of the argument for which he was unsuccessful? “…. we were looking for someone with management experience”, the words struck hard.

Was there not sufficient management experience presented? Everyone thought so.

After some thought, he deliberates on whether to address the apparent decider/s directly, but then, in a fleeting instant he asked himself  some pertinent questions.

Why? To what end? Answers were not easy to come by and that, in and of itself suddenly meant, let it go…

Below is the email he quite nearly sent to HR or, as it's labeled in his organisation, People and Performance ...

Dear Xxxxx…

In relation to the recently advertised position Xxxx for which I was an unsuccessful applicant. 

I have had ample time to reflect upon comments you made to me over the phone after requesting feedback from your office. 

Truth be written, your initial remarks, which summed up your main argument, that the company was looking for, “someone with management experience” though entirely understandable, left me perplexed and logically raised several pertinent questions. 

  1. That my resume was not even read, or otherwise, entirely overlooked prior to my application having been deemed unsuccessful and/or
  2. The company had very specific selection criteria for the position that, intentionally or inadvertently or otherwise expediently, went unmentioned in the job advertisement and/or
  3. That the company, be it your area or, my business unit or perhaps both business units colluding, regarded me a fool of sorts and/or 
  4. That Human Resources locally termed as, “People and Performance” is incompetent in terms of, the talent acquisition function. 
If by chance, it is neither of the four points raised, then the real reason has not been brought to light, which is quite another concern. Of logical course, there is something else worthy of mention, that being that my CV was indeed read, but simply because of your vocal reasoning that, “…. we were looking for someone with management experience” suggests that the company has - in light of CV content - inadvertently referred to me out as a liar. 
Please note, all points raised in this communiqué have nothing to do with the position itself for I have no further interest, it is history. 

My concern rests entirely with the way I feel I have been treated and with your feedback, a response that incidentally, I requested in person, not over the phone – I was doing the job for which I am employed when I took your call, which is contrary to operational policy, accordingly, I was somewhat hamstrung in terms of an effective response.

Now, with hindsight at my disposal I view your reasoning for my failure to secure an interview as, poor at best. A reasoning that has since elicited more than the normal number of discussions amongst work colleagues but more so, my external business networks and, in all instances raised more questions than it answers. I can still hear it, “looking for someone with management experience”?

Honestly, I find this remark astonishing given the written content of the advertisement, my cover letter and the accompanying resume.

Needless to add, my belief in your office, the HR function, P&P whatever, together with “human elements” of the business unit for which I am employed, have been dealt a blow. 

I seek no redress for this communication, my goal merely being to communicate my thoughts on the matter in the hope that you may come to understand that I am no jester.

It was poor form and, it did not go unnoticed*. 

Yours Sincerely,

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The inescapable truth about dying

Is it one’s age, a recently read book, perhaps the passing of someone close, or a health scare. Since we are all on our own unique journey in life, it’s remains idiosyncratic how suddenly, something triggers thoughts associated with humanity and death hence, mortality. For some, such thoughts strike as if an epiphany of sorts as they get past the age of fifty or later, which is, I believe infantile, given that death, in one form or another, has always been around us, not just in the news but in family.

Personally, the thought of dying, while not uppermost in my mind, does present more often of late, this seems natural and probably due to my age. I felt silly when recently, upon thinking about the possibility of living to a ripe old age of 85 it occurred to me that, being nearly 56, I have completed almost 66% of my stint on this mortal plane. How egocentric on my part to even expect that I reach a minimum chosen age, any age past my present one for that matter. Who am I to dictate how old I must or, even hope to be upon dying, save for having an accident.

Mishaps aside, it occurs to me that there are two broad stages to dying or end of life process. The first stage begins the moment we are born, human life is finite even in the absence of disease, 80, 90, 100 years? It’s pure conjecture and depends on a host of lifestyle factors. The second stage represents society’s accepted characterization whereby a person is diagnosed with an illness and, following a period of unsuccessful treatments the term ‘terminal’ suddenly and chillingly enters the vocabulary. This stage may represent days, months or years.

Call me juvenile but it’s both these stages that from time to time, mess with my mind. My late father was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer at age 64 and died around 22 months later. That was in 2005 or 11 years ago, I was 45, fast forward to my current age and it suddenly occurs to me that if I only live to my father’s age I have around 10 years left. In sum, ill health when coupled with the finite nature of life, combine to give rise to my ruminations about impermanence in the context of being around those I love and in turn, love me.

The inevitable truth about dying is that it’s happening right now to you and me in some form or another, it is indolent but nonetheless occurring, and quantifiably so. The latter needs no scientific apparatus to validate, I only need look at old photographs for visual verification, or take note of the more frequent aches and pains that present.

Socrates suggested that death is really “a change or a migration of the soul from one place to another”, Mother Teresa would add, “but going home to God’, both of which are comforting. As the inevitable draws closer, it is becoming wholly apparent that living fully and embracing it all, the highs and lows, the exultations and the blows, is of fundamental importance to a life well lived regardless of time limitations. This may give us more than a clue to what Mark Twain meant when he said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life … A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time”.

As an emotive being, I must confess that it is the aforesaid term, “finite” that every so often unsettles me. We’re all limited, we have a predictable and determinate lifespan in linear years that, in the grand scheme of things, represents no more than a miniscule fraction of time past, present and future. And there lies another juvenile conundrum, who am I to question what is unalterable, what has been set by a power greater than the sum of all of us. I have reservations about my finite existence, really, I moot in silent reflection, how laughable in view of its antonym, which just so happens to be, infinite. If my existence is not finite then it must be infinite, God must be laughing too.

As I considered my closing lines to this piece, I find myself intuitively taking solace in the knowledge that many of us do not deliberate on such foreboding thoughts until it they must, until something happens, until dying is thrust upon them, death and all its connotations not merely strikes close to, but nearly always pierces the heart, but then it’s oh so late.

I must live fully now, in all my present moments, it’s my raison d'etre and perhaps yours, Sapientia et Doctrina.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Food and more in the 1950's

In the 1950's did you know?

In the grand scheme of things it was not that long ago and yet...

Pasta was not eaten in Australia.
Curry was a surname.
A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
All potato crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
Rice was only eaten cooked in milk, as a pudding.
Calamari was called squid and we used it as fish bait.
A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.
Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves. These were never green.
Sugar enjoyed good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold. Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
People who didn’t peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.
Indian restaurants were only found in India.
Cooking outside was called camping.
Seaweed was not a recognised food.
“Kebab” was not even a word, never mind a food.
Prunes were medicinal.
Muesli was readily available; back then it was called cattle feed.
Water came out of the tap. If someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol for it, they would have become a laughing stock!
But the two things that people never, ever had on their kitchen table in the fifties were? Elbows or phones....

Monday, 17 October 2016

Donald Trump and Foreign Policy

I could vote for Donald Trump and I shall consider a future post to validate my reason for this, but whenever I consider the role America plays in the world, I am predisposed to view it through the prism of foreign affairs; such is the importance I place on world and international order. Those familiar with my past though still active blog, American Interests, will recall its central premise:
“ … for all intents and purposes, present “World Order” is stable and predictable in part due to the economic, technological, military and diplomatic superpower that is, The United States. Amongst the masses, it seems largely unacknowledged that it is in the world's greatest interests that the U.S. continues to exact its present worldly economic, political, cultural and military influence, one that extends to leadership in scientific and technological research and the production of innovative technological products. Our democratic way of life, our economies and our national security, are irrevocably tied to a secure world order - an order to which present-day United States, even with its notable imperfections, is at the heart, as the pre-eminent driver of internationalism … America must remain strong.” 
From the same source see also: Like it or not, we still need America

Accordingly, I have concerns about Donald Trump but not for the common rationale associated with misogynist antics – not that I condone the latter.

Trump has made it known that he would re-negotiate the U.S. alliance with Japan, South Korea and NATO – he has not specifically named my homeland Australia, but is on the record that the U.S. has no interest in being in Asia militarily. A Trump victory would see existing U.S. allies have to plan for a withdrawal of security guarantees that have stood the test of modern time and even markets would react adversely at the prospect on protectionism policies. Many Americans, and this group includes Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, would welcome an isolationist America with significantly reduced military and economic engagement but they do not grasp the consequences of their desire.

Going back to Donald Trump, he describes “Opposition to America’s alliance arrangements, opposition to free trade, and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia as his, “three core beliefs’.

We know America cannot solve all the problems of the globe, but Trump completely rejects that his country should be the world’s police officer, indeed Obama has a similar viewpoint but the former goes much further by suggesting that the U.S. does not even need to be involved in enforcing international law and order in its present definition. Trump has also questioned nuclear non-proliferation, mutual self-defence treaties and overseas military bases. Trump’s view cannot be further from Clinton’s who remains committed to the current system who recently said:
“are we going to lead the world with strength and in accordance with our values … I intend to be a leader … both here and around the world, to make decisions that will further peace … stand up to bullies” (Russia), “whether they’re abroad or at home”. 
As for Clinton, those hoping for a continuation of the existing Obama order will be disappointed.

Obama has demonstrated a degree of Trump like isolationism, through lukewarm responses to regional issues which have left a security vacuum, and when that happens the “bad guys” are always there to fill the void. While America stuttered, Putin attacked the Ukraine and has since launched a reckless campaign in Syria, attacked Georgia and annexed Crimea - some 18 months before the outbreak of WW2, Germany on March 12, 1938, annexed Austria and so it went.

While the globe is nowhere near as violent as it was a century ago at the height of WW1, we live in a moment of increasing uncertainty in a time of Obama crafted American self-doubt. Hope for a benign multi polar world is shallow, America can stay in insolation as Trump advocates or rise to the challenge to secure both the international order and security it first created and the world still desperately needs.

As a further adjunct to my argument, we need also consider the foreign policy questions that Trump especially, has failed to address during the campaign.
  • China has been increasingly aggressive over territorial claims in the South China Sea and assuming de facto control of key maritime passageways in the face of international law violation. How are we (America) going to prevent China from dominating the region?
  • What are the priorities for Syria? Ending the civil war, curtailing Russian influence and aggression or fighting Islamic State? Moreover, who are America’s allies in the process – Under Obama this is unknown.
  • The Middle East is a mess; it always was but is getting worse. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, the Syrian humpty dumpty, Israeli Palestinian tensions, how will America address this?
  • On economic matters, America and its population need entitlement programs but how will they tie in with defence and diplomacy? International verses the domestic.
  • Both Clinton but especially Trump has distanced themselves from the Trans Pacific Partnership, which runs contrary to Obama’s hinge to Asia, but what other tools are they advocating?
  • What is the end state of America’s secret war? What secret war you ask? Since 9/11 America has waged an undeclared war mostly via drone strikes and special ops in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and even the Philippines, a war that has killed over 4,000 individuals.
  • How will the U.S. deal with the failed socialist experiment that is Venezuela? No Government money, no food in supermarkets, no medicine in pharmacies…the total collapse of Venezuela is imminent.
  • How will we address the minefield that was Obama’s (even by his own admission) greatest foreign policy failure, Libya? I would add Syria
  • As forces are drawn down in Afghanistan how will the U.S. address the likely return of the Taliban, or the establishment of Al Qaeda or Islamic State safe havens within the nation?
  • Julia Ioffe, a New York Times writer raised a most pertinent question: How do you explain the necessity of American engagement with the world in terms that matter to people who don’t think about foreign policy? We in the bubble of wonkdom take certain things for granted, like why America should care what Vladimir Putin does in Donetsk or Aleppo. But I have yet to hear a compelling, coherent explanation for why anyone in the Rust Belt (or the world at large) should care about the South China Sea. Why is it worth it for Bob and Mary in Des Moines to have some of their tax dollars go into funding Syrian rebels, into funding USAID, or into NATO?
  • Rebuilding internationalism is the central challenge for the next president and it has to be built from the ground up with domestic support from within. In the words of Bruce Jones at Foreign Policy:
“… He or she will have to recover an older argument about America’s role in the world, not an argument based on exceptionalism, but one about global peace the underpinning of an international economy – a role that America need not and should not do alone, but a role that cannot be done without America.”
This and all the above should be but one foreign policy goal and plainly, Trump is not the one to deliver, addressing these issues in silence or not at all will be punishing.

Further Reading and Sources:

(Source: CSIS - Centre for Strategic and International Studies: U.S. Wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen – what are the end states? Working Draft August, 2016 )

(Source: Brookings Institution: Bruce Jones Vice President and Director - Foreign Policy Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Project on International Order and Strategy: America’s role in a turbulent World: )

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald: Peter Hartcher political editor and international editor: United States would be a rogue superpower under Trump: )

(Source: FP: Foreign Policy Magazine: By FP contributers: The .. essential Foreign-Policy Questions Clinton and Trump need to Answer: )

(Source: The Atlantic: Uri Friedman Staff Writer: How Geography explains Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: )

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pale Blue Dot

Voyager 1, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and take one last photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of astronomer and author Carl Sagan.

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of the Earth taken from the Voyager Space Craft in 1990 from 6 billion kilometres away. This iconic image was taken at the request of famous astronomer, Carl Sagan, as the engineers took one last look at their home planet, which appeared as a tiny dot against the vastness of space.

Carl Sagan opened our eyes to the meaning of this image and life on earth: On that dot “every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives.”

Seen from about 6 billion kilometers, Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space. 

Now follow the link in the tweet below, play the video at the site and then reflect on what Sagan says:

Sapientia et Doctrina ... 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Media Storms & rushing to conclusions

The title to this post could have read rushing to deductions, assumptions or inferences.

Consider an issue of local or global concern that consistently populates the headlines, or a news story break that creates a social media storm. Narrative/s take hold and everyone incl. bloggers, citizen journos on Facebook or Twitter alike are commenting on, and reporting in accordance with the prevailing theory of the moment, deductions are drawn consistent with the narrative, alas groupthink follows.
“The commentariat fell into a bubble and were reflecting what each other thought”
Said Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten, after nearly wrestling government from the Liberal Party in the recent election, he went on,
"A narrative caught hold and everyone started reporting it."
A politics example demonstrating how in this case, the prevailing consensus or narrative amongst political journalists shouted of a convincing win for the incumbents, as it turned out they only won by a whisker.

As Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Dom Cobb asks in the film Inception,
"What is the most resilient parasite? “A bacteria, a virus, an intestinal worm?"
None, it is an idea!

Narratives take hold and everyone follows suit and once this happens the prevailing theories are difficult to stamp out.

In relation to its basis and, likely motivations, citizen or guerrilla journos in particular, ought contemplate next time a major news story breaks. Think Orlando shootings or Nice terror attack, indeed it should also be contemplated in relation to any number of social issues e.g. Climate Change, Abortion, Birth Control, Capital Punishment, Equal Pay, Euthanasia, Gun Rights, Racism and Same Sex Marriage to name a few.

A more intelligent response would involve seeking information from a variety of news sources and employing rational reasoned thinking that balances all the known and unknown to arrive at a fluid response until all is known which mostly occurs sometime after the event. I would refer to this as sharp-witted critical thinking!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A Notable Personal Introspection

Considering I was, and have been in varying extents silly, immature, anxious, cruel, reckless and impatient, egotistical, unprofessional, incompetent, irrational and simply bad most often. I refer to the age of 15 - 25 and, to a lesser though still significant extent, between the age of 25 – 35, and again to a lesser but still significant extent, between the age of 35 – 45, and yet again, to a lesser extent from the age of 45 onward .... I am now fantastically successful in my mid fifties.

As I reflect on this, I also realize that at core, I always knew where the “off” button was, I knew when to draw the line, I knew how to maintain the fundamentals right, e.g. marrying the right girl, buying a home, keeping a job, keeping my financials in order etc. I also knew how to maintain appearances and create righteous facades. Nonetheless, this does not diminish the fact that I was, at times very irresponsible, and came too close to outright sabotage and yet, given where I am at this time, being August 2016, in totality I am fantastically successful, in spite of my past foolish idiosyncrasies.

The other realization is that the first paragraph reveals improvement as I grew older, and this is the inspiring feature of my being, better late than never, constant and never-ending improvement to become the man, person, and “individual” I am today.

I am tempted to list the acts that constitute the “foolish idiosyncrasies” to which I refer, however this may not be a worthwhile exercise, more to the point, I feel it would be self-defeating. 

One way to make amends is to continue growing, becoming better and ultimately more successful still...

Friday, 17 June 2016

Audio - Guns, Religion, Islamic Extremism and Orlando Shootings

" ... Can I venture to suggest that it may be more accurate to ascribe the cause of Mateen's actions to extreme homophobia inspired by radical islamism? Gun availability in and of itself, was not the root cause ..."

" ... but aren't all religions hostile to gays?" ... " .... mostly yes, but this reason is superfluous and a lame form of moral equivalence ..."

If you would like the transcript of above audio please email me at:

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Radical to forms of liberal Islam – Is intrinsic change possible in a new country, Australia?

"... it is my belief that we can never discount the possibility that radical Muslims or simply those susceptible to elements of such will remain a threat to our way of life, not merely those from abroad but unfortunately and most alarmingly, the home grown variety ..."

Recent mumblings about the failure of multiculturalism coming out of Europe, in addition to the ongoing spats about race and immigration issues here in Australia, not to mention Islamic threats cultivated within our borders have left me wondering whether our terrorist fears stem from issues associated with integration, pure racism or actual terrorist threats. Let us be honest, we have problems associated with race or otherwise, anti-Muslim sentiments as demonstrated by recent findings that show, 1 in 10 Australians have “very problematic views on diversity and on ethnic difference". In a recent discussion with friends they seemed to justify their concern in terms of possible terror threats posed by those arriving on our shores illegally.

Is this concern valid? This is a question I posed several years ago when writing a short piece whilst at University where the topic was ‘change’. Specifically,  can those illegals who harbour radical elements of their faith change by abandoning such beliefs as they commune within their new society, moving away from considerations of the extreme or moderately fanatical elements of Islamic thought - moving therefore, from radical to forms of liberal Islam.

Upon reading it once again, I got thinking about how it might apply to personal change in relation to religious doctrine and beliefs, not just adaptation but rather, deep seated and cultural transformation among Muslims living for example, in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.

I refer to the tens of thousands of Muslims that form part of our communities and in particular, what proportion of them may harbour radical elements of their faith. Unfortunately, studies reveal that a small but significant segment not only sympathise with their radical colleagues but have a propensity to consider and carry out violent acts against westerners in spite of an entire lifetime living amongst and appearing to outwardly enjoy the benefits of the societies in which they reside. How could this be? I should add that the percentage of Islamists who pose a danger to their communities within for example, Australia would be very, very small, perhaps minuscule, but as we noted with the London bombings and the 9/11 attacks it does not take many to inflict harm on a massive scale.

It poses more questions, does ones external environment and the behavioural modifications and modes of personal conduct associated with such, lead to permanent change. I guess we need to consider the question of change as it relates to the common oxford definition, one that refers to a person 'making or becoming different', because of environmental factors. This obliges me to consider that age-old concept of modernism, in particular, the modernist concept of a 'true (constant) self'.

I am of the opinion that participation within our way of life does indeed involve being changed and changing oneself however, I do not feel that the change is intrinsic, and accordingly, the modernism concept of a 'true self' is compelling.

I do not wish to delve into comprehensive considerations about “concepts of self”, as one could write a thesis in this area alone; it is easier to restrict the discussion to the more discernible elements of Muslims within our social order.

All societies have unique characteristics that provoke different thoughts and subsequent actions amongst it participants. They also all have there own grand and historical elements that present a multifaceted culture both as a whole and within its parts. Even as there are various consistencies and diffusion amongst different groups, disciplines, and sub-cultures, a person (in this case Muslim) may at least, be influenced by a society’s ‘different norms and values’ … ‘patterns of power and authority’ … ‘different standards’ … [and] ‘modes of expression’ (Kolb, David, 1981 p.233). The influence of a society is exacted circuitously upon individuals through the processes and norms of its institutions and this represents but one way that a culture, exacts change (the accepted social order) upon partakers. Whether this influence inhibits or promotes real change toward westernisation, depends on the person’s disposition and worldview (the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world), and we know how much this can vary between different cultures and religions. At another level, the extent of change, obligatory or otherwise, will contrast amongst individuals again depending on their worldview, (which also includes their deep seated beliefs), but also made subjective by their education, specifically the disciplines one may study. Incidentally, education of even the highest standards does not; in itself guarantee to purge ones deep-seated and fundamental beliefs.

Of course one can also mount a plausible contrasting argument on the belief that any modifications of behaviour as a result of environmental factors are in fact indicative of real and lasting change, arguing that humans are ‘fragmented’, ‘fluid’ and ‘constructed’; that ones experiences lend to the construction of self – classic post modernism, (this is in contrast to modernism views expressed and defined with terms such as, 'fixed' and having a 'true', 'unified', and essential self). Uncertainties in relation to which concept of self applies arise when one acknowledges the difference in human modes of conduct, in differing life roles. We may be one self as a mother, sister, or brother, a different self as an employee and different again depending on our roles. The different contexts create a problem, thus we mistakenly confuse behavioural changes and environmentally induced responses with concepts of self, believing that they are more representative of Post Modernism thinking. Here I cannot agree, imagine if you will moving to a strictly Muslim nation, behaviorally you may present differently but can you really expect to discard all that you have been, all that has been indoctrinated into your being through socialisation and guardians over time within your home culture? Will your fundamental worldview shift at all, let alone profoundly?

Like all humans, Muslims aspire to certain universal attributes of character and whilst these may differ amongst them, the majority (like all of us) seek to be content, happy, and good as based around an established worldview (and self) that minimally takes into account race, gender, class, geography and present and past cultures that they, may have experienced. There is a lot to take into account hence, this needs to be considered as part of our attempt to understand the inner beliefs and ruminations of the radical Islamist and the depth of hatred toward anyone whose beliefs run contrary.

The process of being changed and changing as a person lends to the exploration of feelings of, and about life goals and purpose. Thus membership and participation in our, or indeed any society/culture facilitates and contributes to a process whereby, 'the meaning of … personal directions' is explored thus guiding the person toward that which is the essential, already constructed self, so as to move toward, ' … that self which one already is' (Rogers, Carl R. 1967). Therefore, it goes that in spite of all life experiences and the resulting outward change exhibited by Islamists, age-old questions linger. It is as if there is inherent within, a quest to move toward the 'true self'; that self which has always been. As Carl Roger's states, an ‘individual moves toward being, knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is … listening to the deepest recesses of his … being'. As an example, I vividly recall a conversation with a group of young (twenty something) Bosnian Serbs as we discussed news reports about Bosnian Serb soldiers systematically executing as many as 2,000 Muslim prisoners after taking the UN ''safe area'' of Srebrenica. To my disbelief, the young Australian born Serbs completely condoned the actions of their compatriots overseas. Probing for explanations one of them simply said, “I don’t know, I just feel it here,” pointing to the centre of his chest, added another, “It’s in the blood”.

Accordingly, it is my belief that we can never discount the possibility that radical Muslims or simply those susceptible to elements of such will remain a threat to our way of life, not merely those from aboard but unfortunately and most alarmingly, the home grown variety.

We humans have a central 'true self' that remains intact throughout our lives in spite of society’s dominant contemporary and historical permanence, its institutional processes, values, ideology, culture and sub-cultures.

If I am right, even partially so, what is the most constructive way to deal with our local Muslim populations? Wouldn't any attempt to indoctrinate them in terms of western values be an exercise in futility? Is acceptance and tolerance the answer? Perhaps as a way of teaching them the values of mutual respect for all cultures and race.

What do you think?


Rogers, Carl R. 1967, 'To be that self which one truly is': A therapist's view of personal goals', On Becoming a Person: A therapist's view of psychotherapy, Constable, London, pp. 163-182.

Kolb, David A. 1981, 'Learning styles and disciplinary differences' in Chickerine, Arthur W. & Associates, The Modern American College, Jossey Bass, San Francisco, pp. 232 - 235 and 251 - 252.

Copyright ©  2006 - 2016 Otto Marasco

Useful resource: Contemporary Philosophy – Postmodernism and Critical Theory

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tech issues

" ... But those bookmark differences between Edge on PC and Edge on Lumia 950 persist ..."

Heard about sync settings on Windows 10 devices? It is a great feature that allows windows users to keep track of the settings you care about as it sets them for you on all your Windows 10 devices.

You can choose to sync such things as web browser settings, passwords, and color themes etc.

Thus when surfing on my Lumia 950 yesterday (which is packaged with Microsoft Edge), I was surprised to note some differences between my bookmarks on my phone and those for my PC back home. It appears that some changes I recently made on the PC's bookmarks have not synced to my Lumia.

A bookmark I have re-named “Present Interests" on my PC's Favourites Bar within Edge still has the old name on my Lumia. Furthermore on my PC it contains contains no less than 10 bookmarks/favourites however, this same bookmark on my phone contains only 4. I happen to add the additional six favourites some two weeks back - Surely enough time for them to have synchronized with my Lumia 950?

Before I am asked, I have turned sync on, on my PC via Start > Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings AND via Edge More (...) > Settings.

I have also turned on sync my Lumia 950 via Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings AND via the phones Edge browser (…) > Settings > Sync your content.

Finally, on my Lumia I also verified my identity.

Importantly to, I have signed in on all devices using the same MS account (I only have one account anyway).

All my system app on both Lumia and PC are up to date.

I have tried to manually sync Microsoft account on the phone: People > ... > Settings > tap and hold Outlook > sync

What else can one do to make this feature work as it should, does Microsoft OneDrive have anything to do with it?

I am liaising via twitter with the folks at @LumiaHelp who are trying to assist with this.

Update 1:
It seems sync does work for my calendar as I just added a new event on my PC and the new event appeared on my phone calender app within minutes ... But those bookmark differences between Edge on PC and Edge on Lumia 950 persist.
Update 2:
I have just noticed that if I create a reading list on my Lumia it syncs to my PC but conversely, if I create one on my PC it does not sync to my Lumia?
 Update 3:
I thought to turn my sync setting on and off on both PC and Lumia to see if it corrects problem, but no luck. 
Update 4:
The folks at @LumiaHelp (Twitter) have escalated the problem and requested personal contact details, vital Lumia information including IMEI, Phone OS System and Microsoft Edge version details. Hopefully some answers soon... 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Our Ideological Divides II - Personality and Values

This post serves as an extension of my April 5, 2016 post, ideological divides.

These days we can make somewhat precise predictions about people's values in relation to politics through various unconnected factors such as how they dress, where they live, the cars they own, how much orderliness there is in their lives and even, music and book preferences. Given that, our two main parties have well entrenched publically espoused values through their party platforms, they make for good targets for whatever political personality types.

Interestingly, our political parties have shaped their own values that in turn, influence people's lifestyle elements by creating diverging facts resulting in different beliefs about history (stolen generation real or not?), science and notably economics. How you ask? By way of example, the previous Labor government’s school curriculum over- emphasised the themes, Environment, Colonialism, Social history, Anti-modernism, Class and Minority groups and Multiculturalism while under-emphasising, Religion, Western Civilisation, Political History, and Economic growth and Technology. We also have no mention of the three pillars of Western Civilisation, instead replaced by what conservatives would refer to as, the three pillars of political correctness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability. Moreover, on the question of economic growth and technology one would think that the entrepreneurial spirit of the era would warrant a mention in the curriculum, but the word “entrepreneur” appears nowhere. More exactly, when the curriculum refers to wealth it only refers to the distribution of wealth, never the creation of wealth.

Let us now look at the interpretation of economics in terms of beliefs and values as associated with ideology. A centre-right Liberal party supporter or politician would have very different views to an ALP or Greens advocate about some contemporary economic issues of the day. Will abolishing the minimum wage increase unemployment or decrease it? Will it stimulate the economy or depress it? How is it best to deal with economic recessions, via stimulus or austerity? What about tightening the eligibility criteria or completely cutting unemployment benefits (dole), will it propel individuals to find employment or set them up for the scrap heap?

Given the differing personality types and personal values of LNP, ALP and Greens supporters it is nigh impossible to obtain an accurate and impartial answer to questions about ideological righteousness associated with economic policies since all participants are both consciously and unconsciously seeking arguments answers and facts, that are consistent with their personal values. Individuals begin their personal deliberations about what is right or wrong, true or untrue and then seek out supporting evidence that in all cases, is available. Hence, one can always find documented academic (even peer reviewed) documentation and opinion pieces arguing that removing the minimum wage will spur economic activity and increase employment just as one can find same for the opposing argument.

Asking what is truth or who is right becomes almost superfluous but not entirely so, for we should never stop asking, questioning and arguing. Argument is good and when related to consensus in politics, it should always precede it.

As a final point, we should also acknowledge that in terms of politics and ideology, human values, knowledge, convictions and even creeds are relative, elastic and fluid …