Thursday, September 29, 2005

History never repeats

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Guess who said this?

I'm reading a book at the moment written by Prof. Gustave Gilbert who was the prison psychologist during the Nuremberg Trials called "The psychology of Dictatorship". It is his report on the psychology and motivations of the those who were on trial. It is truely an amazing read and I'm only in chapter one!

For example, Gilbert discusses the effect of introducing a democracy after a revolution against a monarchy, dictatorship or any other authoritarian regime that has been firmly in place for a substantial period of time. Whenever this has happen in history it is inevitable that only after a few years later the people want and indeed bring back an authoritarian government. There is a cultural lag as people struggle to adjust to a new system and they find it very difficult to do so. Hence they return to what they know. It takes a generation or two before the society can catch up with the new idea.
Take Russia for example. Putin is elected by the people yet he shows the signs of an authoritarian ruler. He has rolled back democratic reforms. He has clamped down on civil and press liberties and he has ended the direct popular election of regional governors, choosing to appoint them instead. Can you think of a country which was under a dictator and has just had democracy thrust upon it? You don't have to be a genius to work out what is going to happen there in the next few years.
History is there for us to learn from it. What one learns depends on ones motivation. I am sure that there are many who have learnt from the above quote. I just wonder what their motivation is?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Missed it by that much

On friday I received an e-mail which really made my day. Someone has published a paper which contains the same work that I have been doing for my thesis. That hurts. I feel like this happens to me too often. I think of an idea, tell a few people about these ideas, and then I end up reading about them in the paper or some other publications. I am not saying that my ideas are being stolen, just that others come up with the same idea, but I don't publish first.
Many years ago I used to go to to gym where the conversation focused mainly on footy. I used to discuss what I would do if I was a coach or recruiting manager of an AFL club. My plans included using technology to help with decision making. For example, setting up computer programs to test player reactions and which options they would choose. The programs would also teach in this capacity. I would recruit players who may not be "athletes" but have a football brain. You can make someone fitter but you can't transplant a footy brain. Imaging my surprise when I read an article last weekend about Neil Craig, the Crows coach, and these are the things that he is actually doing at the Crows! No wonder they finished on top. (They didn't quite win the premiership, but they were right up there.)
I've had enough. From now on any stupid thought that comes into my head is going to be written down. This may just be the forum for those ramblings.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hello? Is there anybody out there?

It has been a long time since I have written anything. Well, that's not quite true. I've written heaps of crap (what else do I write?) as part of the teaching course that I am doing. I am so over these assignments which include such topics as "Reflections on portfolio as authentic assessment". Only two more left to do and that's it. I need to write about other things. So what follows are random bits that may interest someone.

Facts about Poo
I visited the Werribee Poo Farm not long ago. Did you know:
1. It takes about 8 hours for poo to get from your toiliet to Werribee.
2. There are high and low poo tides as it exits the pipe and you can see the marks.
3. That the highest tide during the year always happens (delayed by 8 hours) at half-time of the AFL Grand Final.
4. That beef you eat may have come from cows grazing at the poo farm.
5. Poo is brown because of the iron in it from dead blood cells.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A quick thought

Don't you think it's funny that all those right wing christian groups in the USA who said that the Boxing Day tsunami was god's wrath on those that don't believe in Jesus, but they have kept silent about hurricane Katrina which has hit some of the most Christian areas in the USA? (See map.)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Gone to the dogs

Something is not right. Yesterday I agreed with an Andrew Bolt article. I checked the date, it wasn't the 1st of April. I think I may have been too dismissive about Armageddon. It must be coming soon. There can be no other explaination.

Anyway, totally unrelated, for the last few years Miss Jade has been wanting to go the the Greyhounds. So two weekends ago I went with her to the Meadows. One word: superb. The night did have have an extra benefit in that it was also the launch of the Stone Age Cameo's tribute to the Hoodoo Guru's 'Stone Age Romeos' album. The music was excellent with the Blackeyed Susans, Even and the Spazzy's belting out Hoodoo Guru covers. We both had a punt on nearly all the races and we both made a profit. Here's the tip. Go out and watch the dog's in the parade area before the race. You can tell which dog wants to win. I went back to the betting ring before one race after deciding on a dog and I checked its odds. It was paying $19 on the tote for a $1 bet. I still placed a few dollars on it and the dog did its job. It ended up paying $23 for the win. But most importantly for Miss Jade was that 440ml cans of Black Douglas and coke were only $4.50. I was reminded of this many times. This deal was so good that in one race she urged on the dogs way after they had finished the race. That was so cute.