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Everything posted by jasonlockwood

  1. Great Coffee and Fine Food Worldwide

    I'd say it is in a number of ways, with the proviso that Australia is intellectually bland and, due to its distance and population, more expensive. With regard to the first item, that is my observation after living here for two years so far, but I do wonder if Aussies would revolt the way Americans are if the country started lurching leftward. Absent an explicit political philosophy, my guess is they wouldn't to the same degree. I would have to defer to our native born Australians here to provide their more educated opinions, though.A couple things I notice that are wonderful here: people strike me as more courteous and friendly. If someone accidentally brushes you or bumps into you, they automatically say 'sorry' or 'excuse me.' Australians are also very hard working, but they enjoy their time off, too. Long holidays are the norm, but I notice that when Australians take time off from work, they plan well in advance to ensure everything is properly covered in their absence. The food and coffee in Australia are several cuts above what one finds in America. Coffee is so highly regarded as an art form that if a barista makes a bad cup of coffee here (and bad is still superior to what's served in America), an Australian has no qualms about returning it. The barista will feel *embarrassed* that he rushed the preparation and will take pains to go slower to make a better coffee. That to me shows how committed to quality Australians are, even in the preparation as something so 'mundane' as coffee. I could go on, but I think everyone gets the idea. I find living here to be generally wonderful, noting the shortcomings and having made peace with the long travel required to go nearly anywhere outside the country - aside from New Zealand.
  2. Les Misérables (2012)

    I haven't looked forward to a movie nearly as much as this one in I don't know how long. It opens on Boxing Day in Australia.
  3. Moving overseas is difficult depending on one's current situation with regard to employment and family. I moved to Australia in June of 2008 on a sponsored visa with the company I was working for at the time. For me it wasn't especially difficult, but I was also single and had been to Australia a few times before moving down. I understand that for many people it is trickier and requires a lot more planning than it did for me. I also had a specialised skill in demand which couldn't be found locally. The question now remains for me: do I keep my American citizenship after I become a naturalised Australian or do I not? I've heard many arguments for and against, but at this point in history, remaining an American may well be a detriment, not an asset. Thoughts, anyone, on this last point?
  4. I generally choose situations where it's people I want to be around, but there are contexts where this isn't possible, such as company events or dinner parties where I don't know everyone. In each case, I look for people with whom I can have some level of meaningful conversation. One thing I immediately turn away from is angry or sneering types. They stick out like a sore thumb, I find, so I look for quick exits whenever they cross my path.
  5. I hadn't visited the Forum in some time and then saw this thread that Bryson started, so I thought I'd respond with my own experiences. I refer to myself sometimes as an introverted extrovert. I love my solitary existence and the mental time I give myself. It's a reason I love writing so much because I enjoy the idea of expressing ideas in a well thought out way, whereas those who must always be the social butterflies never give themselves that mental space. That said I also love getting out and meeting people. My chosen career puts me in front of new people all the time and I have learned the art of good conversation even in fleeting circumstances. The international life I've lead also has meant that I have to make an extra effort to meet people while at the same time observing so I can absorb the new place I'm living in. I think it's possible and valuable to be equal parts introvert and extrovert. Like Bryson, I don't enjoy mindless small talk, so I'm always on the lookout for people with whom I can engage in deeper conversation. My partner and I prefer smaller events where quality discussion is possible, as against noisy parties and nightclubs. I consider dinner parties the ideal way to socialize with others because you invite the people you care about most and you are more likely to have good conversations with them in a controlled environment. Perhaps hosting your own dinner parties, Bryson, would be a way to be social with people you actually enjoy.
  6. I read through some of the comments. The usual suspects get it wrong. What a shocker.
  7. I'm more in line with Brianna with regard to personal debt. The one thing I made sure of before I left the US more than three years ago was that I'd never get myself into any serious long term credit debt ever again. Before leaving I paid down about $25,000 and sold my car. Currently I rarely extend my credit debt beyond a few months. I would say I have become financially cautious, what with the state of economies lately. Australia is in considerably better shape, but even so, I refuse to put myself in a situation where I could be wiped out if I were to lose my job. Like my physical health, I prefer to remain financially lean and mean.
  8. Happy Birthday to Alon Tsin

    Happy birthday from down under, Alon!
  9. HP To Apple: You Win

    When it comes to price and Apple products, I often think of high quality shoes that cost several hundred dollars but outlast the cheaper shoes. I switched to the Mac going on four years ago and my experience has been dramatically positive. I spent over $2,000 on my first MacBook Pro, which was definitely more than a PC laptop would have cost. But the value I got from it was far beyond the PCs I ever owned. The Mac was always stable, the programs always ran well, and I never suffered the slowdowns that were routine when I left PCs running for days. I could leave the Mac on for WEEKS and suffer none of the ill effects. Over the years I've acquired other Macs (and most recently a new Mac Mini) and transformed my entire home to an Apple 'ecosystem' consisting of a Time Capsule (1TB drive and AirPort Extreme combined), an Apple TV connected to my 50" plasma TV, plus the iPad and iPhone. I've noticed a huge increase in my productivity, not just because I like Apple devices, but because I so rarely have to maintain them that I can focus on the tasks most important to me. I understand that many tinkerers get frustrated with Apple products because they're self contained and make modifying the hardware difficult if not impossible. That is exactly the point, though. Apple products appeal to so many people BECAUSE they are easy to use appliances that enable people to get things done. The majority of the buying public is not looking to tinker. If they were, Apple would not have become as successful as they have.
  10. TAS Website - Myths About Ayn Rand

    Great, quote, Bill. I frequently comment to people I know well that what saved me from succumbing to the mob is my globetrotting. For many years I had to learn how other cultures worked and that required independence. So whenever I was back in the US, I found that I cared less and less what other people thought. I actually discovered Ayn Rand while I was teaching in Slovakia many years ago. Expatriates are often the most independent people, I find. They may not all be Objectivists, but overall I find it easier to associate with them, generally speaking.
  11. TAS Website - Myths About Ayn Rand

    That makes some sense. Without the ability to think in principles, AR's detractors are incapable of grasping that philosophic principles aren't just a bunch of concrete facts. It explains why religious conservatives are utterly befuddled by her view of religion.
  12. TAS Website - Myths About Ayn Rand

    So my somewhat rhetorical question is: for all the incorrect opinions about AR out there, why is it more of these people DON'T do their homework? No one is asking them to like Ayn Rand. Basic scholarship isn't that tough.
  13. I'll go one better on this topic: I'm dating a non-Objectivist and it's going swimmingly. I spent a lot of time assessing his character and sussing out what I valued and what could be a source of conflict. Six months into it, what I'm seeing emerge in him - based on his positive response to my blog and the discussions we've had - is a desire to learn more about my views and how I came to accept them. It helps that I ask him lots of questions and I am genuinely interested in what he has to say. He knows that I have a strong intellectual grounding and is constantly curious. I haven't even mentioned Ayn Rand with him yet and I doubt as an Australian he's heard much about her. What I do notice is he values reason above all other things. He loves to figure things out for himself. He also holds a benevolent view of the world around him, which is extremely rare in a 25-year-old these days, much less a man of 45. I do not consider myself a cynic by any means with regard to people I meet. Most aren't Objectivists and most never will be, but just as Betsy has talked about seeking out valuers, I have done the same. It pays dividends. Some people may end up being better friends if one gives them time. Those who are not open to reason aren't worth my time, so instead of fretting over them, I let them go.
  14. This reminds me of Apple's business model that befuddles so many people who work in the computer industry. Some people simply cannot grasp how Apple has succeeded so well - especially in the past decade - even though their products aren't feature laden or up to the bleeding edge specifications. What many people fail to take into account is Steve Jobs has always stated that Apple designs their products with users in mind. It's astounding to see so many people take to the iPad, for example, in ways they never did PCs or even seemingly similar tablet like devices.
  15. This horror does not deserve a title

    I studied to become a French teacher at a university in Quebec in the 1980s. I actually mastered the language and could speak it like a native well before the education element started my last year of university. An interesting thing occurred during my student teaching. All the people in my program were native French speakers and I was one of two students who wasn't. We were all assigned schools and classes where we would do our student teaching for the year. During one session with the organizer of the program, he mentioned a common complaint coming from the schools: the student teachers almost universally had poor spelling and grammar when writing on the chalk board, with one exception: me. It turns out the teacher I was working with noticed that my grammar was not only acceptable, but flawless. He made it a point to report that to the organizer of the program for two reasons: 1) it was a rarity in the student teachers he'd seen over the years and 2) it was surprising that a non-native would have mastered the language to that degree. The above is not meant as a boast, but as illustration that subject matter expertise in the education field is considered exceptional and surprising. This was in the 1980s in Quebec, no less! I shudder to think what it's like these days.
  16. Public Employee Unions

    Considering they JUST voted down collective bargaining in an entirely Allen Drury-esque manner.
  17. Public Employee Unions

    We're still talking about contracts, so it doesn't matter if it's a tangible good (like a computer) or a service (like teaching). The quality of both can be measured in contractual terms. If the teacher doesn't deliver on what he promises, then he can be let go, just as if I don't deliver on my software projects, I can be dismissed. It's the same principle regardless of the field.
  18. Public Employee Unions

    I think the question to ask is: what makes schools any different from other industries? I've worked in the software industry for 15 years with no union at all. I have terms in my contract that I must adhere to as an employee and the employer has terms he must adhere to. There is legal action one can take if one or both of the parties are found to be in breach of contract. It be-hooves both parties to know what they're agreeing to, of course. Contracts are still the best way to ensure the proper level of legal protection for everyone concerned.
  19. State of the States ... and Countries

    I actually don't have to pay taxes in the US as a citizen. Australia and the US have a reciprocity agreement. I do have to FILE in the US, but they don't tax me.
  20. Self-Interest and Political Alliances

    I think we can agree about the nature of the fight and disagree about geography. This is also why we have organizations to which we can donate money who have many more resources at their disposal than any one individual does. In other words, I absolutely think I can live in a place of my choosing outside the US AND contribute meaningfully to the fight. Because Ray was careful to say that he doesn't mean the actual taking up of arms, I am of the firm opinion that I can make good contributions wherever I may reside. Let's also recall the context: I'm not a professional intellectual and I'm not inclined to jump into the fray the way some people and organizations are.
  21. Self-Interest and Political Alliances

    Again, I need help grasping why the intellectual activism I engaged in while still in the US is different from what I do in Australia. I live according to the same values here in a country that is actually freer than America currently. Yes, I understand that America is where Objectivist ideas will likely take hold first, but I still don't get how one must be there to fight effectively.I will freely admit that my goals in life are not primarily intellectual activism and therefore the kind of fighting I do is no different wherever I choose to live. So I have to ask, what kind of people specifically are you referring to? This conversation is fascinating to me, so I don't want to come off sounding dismissive. It's clear you are passionate, Ray, as are we all here, so rather that try to read between the lines, I'd prefer to continue to engage in this debate.
  22. State of the States ... and Countries

    I am American born and a citizen, but for many reasons, I have enjoyed travelling and living abroad over the years. In the case of my younger years, I was either a student or a teacher. I've found my life is far richer for the experiences I've had. In fact, had I not gone to Slovakia to teach in the early 1990s, I might never have been exposed to Ayn Rand the way I was. I originally read The Fountainhead while living there and the day-to-day of living in a mostly socialist country at the time was very educational, to say the least.Even now as a resident of Australia, I engage in the same amount of intellectual activism as I did back in the US. So I don't quite grasp Ray's objections as I don't consider myself someone who cuts and runs because I don't want to fight. I had an opportunity to come live here and I love it. Australia is in some ways freer than America now and it's got a fantastic sense of life. I am by no means wealthy, but I make a very good living in the software field and I live well within my means. I will grant that if I had a family, as Ray does, this would be more difficult to do, but as a single guy with no debts and a company that sponsored me to come to Australia, it was an easier goal to achieve.
  23. State of the States ... and Countries

    I understand what you mean now, but I still would be careful in stating it as a fact that people who move to other parts of the world are doing it because things aren't going their way. I've never met anyone with that view in my many years of travelling the world and living outside the US. Now, it's possible some people I've met are escaping something unpleasant back in the US that they didn't want to deal with, but I never got the sense that any of them were giving up a fight.Do you have concrete examples of people you're referring to?
  24. State of the States ... and Countries

    I'm not sure how to take this last bit, other than to say how could one prove such a thing? I've lived all over the world as a matter of choice having nothing to do with politics, but rather my own sense of adventure at discovering what's out there. Besides that, I don't understand what the objection would be to someone from the US wanting to live outside the country. I'm more than happy to see the leftists leave, but the vast majority of expatriates I've met over the last 25 years have not been dominantly left in their politics.
  25. Our "Educations" Reflect The Power Of Ideas

    My best education was definitely not in school. I find that when someone tries to refute some point or argument I'm making by insisting he studied the topic formally, that's usually an indication to me that person knows very little. I intend to write a blog post on it, in fact. Once again, great piece, Brad!