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One reason I dislike iPads

One reason I dislike iPads

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Actually let me comment before I get flamed for being ignorant. The real way to add attachments to an email on iPad is to first open the app that opens the file you want to attach, then “share” the file by email. This makes two assumptions:

  1. You have an app that can open this file type
  2. This app knows how to share the file through email

If either of these assumptions is violated, you’re out of luck: you cannot attach that file to your email.

So what if I want to share a non-standard file type, like a password manager database created on my Linux machine, and there are no iPad apps that can open it? Or what if my PDF reader was written by ignorant coders who didn’t include a “share” button?

Too bad, welcome to the non-productive, all-entertainment world of Apple mobile devices!

and while I’m at it, let me share two more things that completely infuriate me: typing in any sort of online text editor is an absolute joke, with jumping cursors and buggy selections galore; and WHY ARE THERE NO DIRECTIONAL ARROWS ON THE VIRTUAL KEYBOARD???

Oh wait I get it…. I’m supposed to buy a Bluetooth keyboard, right?

FAIL, Apple, FAIL!!!

 

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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Life

 

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A way out of the cycle of self-loathing

Whether your self-loathing cycle involves weight loss, parenting, self-restraint, mastering a skill, maintaining healthy relationships, or anything else in life for which you’re fighting for a better outcome, consider this:

To win a war,

you don’t need to win every battle…

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Life

 

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The silliness of worrying about what people think

If you are one of the tens of millions of people who constantly worry about what others think of you, consider the following impeccable logic:

If you believe that everyone around you really is watching and negatively judging your appearance and every move, you must have a very negative opinion of them.

In fact, you are doing the very thing you fear from them: judging them harshly based on limited information: their appearance and outward behaviour.

The reason you do this is that we only have access to our own thoughts and ways of thinking; we must guess everyone else’s, and we do it based on our own thoughts. If we tend to judge everyone harshly, we tend to assume that everyone does the same.

So, the key to being more confident around others is not to worry less or ignore people’s feelings: it is to be less judgmental of them.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Life, Musings

 

I was a stranger, and you took me in

“Hospitality is the welcoming of strangers” (John McKnight & Peter Block, The Abundant Community)

As we strive to build up a Zion community, we must be careful not to become too insular. We must not close our doors to strangers and outsiders, regardless of how self-sufficient and bonded we feel as a family, a neighbourhood or a ward. Doing so would be denying them the opportunity to share their gifts with us, and to benefit from our gifts. 

This applies to people who come to Church and who look unfamiliar to us. As Australians we tend to be mistrusting of strangers, we fear that their intentions may be selfish or downright evil, and that their intrusion into our tightly-knit community may disturb our peace and cause problems. 

We want to wait until we know people really well before we trust them enough to do anything with them that could lead us to know them really well. 

Consequently our relationships with one another tend to be superficial. We don’t develop deep friendships unless we are thrown together by unplanned (and usually unpleasant) circumstances. We feel physically close to each other, but emotionally and spiritually isolated. We don’t feel like we belong. We don’t feel like a community. 

The scriptures, and particularly the New Testament, teach us to welcome strangers in our lives and homes. 

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” 1 Peter 4:9

“Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2

I was a stranger, and you took me in…” Matthew 25:35

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Romans 12:10-16

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.” Leviticus 25: 35-37

Welcoming strangers in our homes requires us to take a risk. But it’s a calculated risk: we value the gifts of the strangers so much that we are willing to take the very unlikely risk that they may cause harm to our family.

Our unwillingness to take the risks associated with welcoming strangers in our home has led to the corruption of the word “hospitality”, which is now mostly a synonym of entertainment in the sense of providing guests with food and drink for a fee. We have outsourced our hospitality to hotel chains. This makes our neighbourhoods and wards less welcoming, and undermines our sense of community.

What is the basis for our mistrust of strangers? Most often it comes from three sources:

  1. the warped view of the world presented to us on television, which suggests that most people cannot be trusted;
  2. our lack of experience with meeting new people and discovering their gifts; and
  3. our prejudices and stereotypes, which blind us to the goodness and gifts in people around us.

As we become increasingly xenophobic (literally “afraid of strangers”), we are

  • less and less inclined to be helpful to others,

  • less likely to make new friends or to establish meaningful relationships with others,

  • more and more justified in our prejudices,

  • increasingly unsafe in our neighbourhoods, as we know few of our neighbours and are unable or unwilling to look out for each other’s well-being

  • more and more prideful, as we assume that the only people worth associating with are those who are like us

Even if all a stranger had to offer was a different view of the worldwhich all people havethat would be reason enough to welcome him into our home, especially in the absence of any evidence that he intends to do us harm.

False assumptions about friendship

Conventional wisdom in Australian society dictates that relationships should be created only between people who share many interests and attributes, such as ethnicity, age, gender, and economic status. This is based on a number of faulty assumptions, such as these:

  • Conflicts of opinion are bad and should be avoided

  • Friendships can be established only upon a foundation of common interests and values

  • Conversations between strangers need to begin with mundane, superficial topics about the things we have in common

Let’s look at each of these in turn, to justify why they are faulty.

First, conflicts of opinion are not only good, but they are necessary for any meaningful relationship to develop. What we mostly fear and avoid is the discomfort of considering the possibility that our current point of view is inaccurate or downright erroneous. This discomfort can lead us to feel threatened, which can trigger reactions of defensiveness or even aggression towards the other person.

That is certainly not a desirable outcome, but it is not the only possible outcome of a conflict of opinion. Instead, we can accept the discomfort, have the humility and courage to explore a new way of thinking or a new belief, and accept that the other person probably feels just as passionate about their views as we do about our own. This approach makes it possible for both parties to be enriched by the other, and establishes a foundation of mutual respect and trust that will make future dialogue even more rich and open.

Secondly, although common interests and values can bring people together and help initiate connections, they are not a sufficient basis on which to form friendships. As interests come and go according to fads and life circumstances, so do these types of friendship: they are transient and shallow. Once our “friend” no longer shares the interest we once thought defined our friendship, I find myself with nothing else to justify our association and I lose interest in our relationship.

True friendship develops as we spend time doing meaningful, satisfying, and productive things with someone. It requires frequent sacrifices of time and effort. Most importantly, it develops as we seek out the gifts in each other, overlooking whatever “problems” may be obvious to us. Within each person that crosses our path lies a universe of experiences, values, memories, skills, hopes, fears and points of view, almost all of which is foreign to us. Singling out a single interest, experience or possession in a person truly devalues that richness, and prevents any depth of friendship from developing.

Thirdly, our ability to initiate a conversation with someone else has arguably declined with each generation since the early 20th century. Chit chat is useful for getting eye contact with someone, and mundane introductions have their place, but nowadays our conversations tend to stay at that shallow level, as if we were afraid that talking about “deep” topics would somehow put us in an embarrassing situation. I argue, as others have done, that deep conversations can begin very early in the process of meeting new people. Indeed, the longer we wait for these conversations to begin, the more likely we are to become comfortable in the shallow water of small talk, and to miss the richness and depth of the other person.

This situation is familiar to me, especially in relation to my brothers. We have grown up having conversations centred primarily around entertainment, and today whenever we are together it is almost impossible to initiate any deep conversations, as we all feel much too uncomfortable doing it. This is why it’s much easier doing so with complete strangers, who then are more likely to become true friends.

Conclusion

Our willingness to welcome strangers in our homes and lives, our hospitality, plays a crucial role in the health of our families and communities. It helps us keep our minds unfettered from the burden of stereotypes. It keeps us humble and open to new experiences and points of view. It introduces frequent new ideas to us, helping us live a richer, more fulfilling life. It helps us stay curious about the unexplored, while learning to value the little we know and can do by sharing it with others who need us at least as much as we need them.

So, when can I come over for dinner?

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Life

 

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Scientifically proven

Men we can trust

Trust us, we wear white lab coats!

More and more nowadays, we hear the words “scientifically proven”, or “clinically proven”, used to justify the sale of such and such toothpaste, vacuum cleaner or miracle cure. You see the big guy in his white lab coat, looking so serious and knowledgeable, the archetype of the guy-you-must-trust. He talks so eloquently about how his patients all rave about this product, and how it will make your life so much better etc. And it really pushes my buttons.

Why?

Because these guys are actors. Everything is fake. The white lab coat is an old but very effective method used for selling all sorts of products and services, from alcohol to tobacco to toothpaste and even exercise equipment.

It represents the authority figure who knows more than we do, saving us the hassle of having to think for ourselves. We see someone (usually a man) dressed in a white lab coat, and we feel safe, in the hands of the expert who will take care of us. This is reinforced by our experiences of hospitals, in which people in uniform really take our lives in their own hands, and we really have to let go and trust them. On TV, however, it’s all fake, and they want us to believe that it’s real.

It bugs me because, even though I know it’s fake, it still influences me and I’m not always aware of it. I know that sometimes I buy something because, some time in the past, I saw an ad that made me think: “this looks OK, I wonder if it works?”.

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What about the claims of being “clinically proven”? This is frequently plastered over hair care products, make-up or other cosmetic products. What does “clinically proven” mean? Well, the advertisers would like us gullible customers to believe that it means “rigorously tested and shown to be so good you can’t live without it”. However, it really means nothing, because you can’t prove anything scientifically or clinically. Besides, if someone makes a claim that something has been tested, but fails to provide references and results from the actual test, it’s probably false advertising.

Customers don’t care though, even if you point this out to them. They don’t ask questions like “Who conducted the research?”, “Who funded the research?”, “Who were the participants in the research, and how were they selected?”, “What measures were taken, and how was it decided that the results warranted the label of ‘clinically proven’?”.

These are questions that actually matter, but the advertising companies don’t want people to know about the scientific method, or how experiments are conducted and science is published and peer-reviewed. They just want to sell their products, no matter how good/bad it is for us. It’s a greedy, dishonest business overall, and it’s a shame because advertising could be very useful and beneficial if it was conducted ethically.

More broadly, I think about the fashion industry, the women’s magazines, pornography, the music, film and game industries and how they all feed into each other to suck the goodness out of our lives in the form of money and time. They shape our thinking, limit our imagination, structure our day-to-day lives and restrict our potential. They’re led by conspiring men and women who will stop at nothing to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else. It’s a war that is destroying our society from within, eroding our morals and tearing at the very fabric of humanity.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Life

 

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False advertising

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Peel Health Campus is a private hospital providing some public and private medical services to people of the Peel region. In recent months it has spent a huge amount of money on PR campaigns such as the one above, plastered all over the Transperth train network starting in October 2012. Local newspapers are full of stories singing praises to this wonderful institution.

But they’re not pulling the wool over my eyes. My wife and I have been right in the middle of two cases of clinical iatrogenesis at Peel Health Campus (PHC), both of which were traumatic, and we know they were the results of fundamental issues in management and funding.

Others have been even closer to the action, and we have heard many horror stories. Recently, the Chief Operating Officer at PHC, Ashton Foley, took the courage to blow the whistle against this hospital, resigning from her position. She has been harassed as an attempt to shut her up, but the resulting enquiry has revealed some shocking information:

Peel Health Campus scandal

We have nothing against the staff of this hospital, although many need to stay more up-to-date with current medical knowledge. It is the management and economic model that are at fault here, and give us reason to mistrust the services provided by PHC.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Life

 

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10 ubiquitous things we could live without

Something is said to be ubiquitous when it is so commonplace that we no longer question its place in our lives, and are shocked when it is missing.

As a person who tends to challenge conventional wisdom and common sense, I like to imagine what life would be like without certain items that most people acquire without second thought. Here are some examples:

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Posted by on August 5, 2012 in Life