Monday, September 16, 2013

Dual Citizenship - The process starts today

Time to add some content to this blog, some new and different content because new and different times have arrived. I'm applying for Australian Citizenship and I'm going to document the process here. The application process will mark the beginning of my very first official interactions with the Australian government and honestly I'm not sure what to expect. I'm hopeful that this will be a smooth process and completed in a timely manner because I'm excited about getting to the next step, the impetus for my decision to become an Australian citizen, going down under.

My mother was born in Australia to my Australian grandmother and American grandfather who had been stationed in New Guinea during World War II. After my brother and I had turned 18, my mother told us she had learned that as minors we would have been eligible to apply for dual citizenship. Sadly, however, after we passed the age of 18 and became adults it was too late to apply. Many times over the years I lamented this missed opportunity to officially, publicly, and proudly embrace my Australian heritage. So much so that even now, in my mid-40s, I find that my mind has turned to these thoughts frequently. So one day while sitting at the computer and procrastinating work, I decided to let my fingers do the walking as it were and asked posted a question about the possibility of my achieving citizenship on ( It's hard to convey the sense of elation and possibility that I experienced when a kind Ameristralian redditor directed me to the Australian government's website where I discovered and read the rather nebulous and generic sounding "Form 118."

Apparently the law that had previously prevented me from applying had changed with the Australian Citizenship Act of 2007 and now I, and untold other citizens of so many other countries born to Australian citizens abroad, am free to apply for "Citizenship by Descent." The form has been downloaded, printed, and all spaces filled out by me, not coincidentally using a pen given to my by my Australian cousin as a gift for graduation from grad school in 2009. Red tape is clearly not an American invention. But I understand the care and caution that necessarily underlies my request so I am patient and eager to begin.

Today I begin Step 1 - gathering the necessary documents and having them certified by an authorized person. As a person living outside of Australia, and more than 500 miles from the Australian Consulate in Washington, D.C., I must have my documents certified by a person who is not related to me, has known me for more than five years, and is employed in one of 38 listed professions. I was completely heartbroken and discouraged until I got to number 37 on the list. So now the process can begin and I think I'll start it today with a hair cut. I want to look nice for the "True and original photograph" of myself that I must have certified and attached to Form 118.

More soon!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grammar Nazis

Every day it seems I bear witness to some new de-evolution of our language. But there is a bigger problem than the increasingly poor grammar creeping into common usage and this problem actually promotes poor grammar. Criticizing a person using poor grammar or thinking less of that person for using poor grammar is a bad idea. People make it personal. It doesn't matter from which side you view it, there is always at least a tendency to make the criticism personal or take the criticism personally. This is what must stop. This is what puts the "nazi" in "grammar nazi." There's an adage that is often repeated in management training seminars that would seem appropriate to share here: "focus on the issue, situation, or behavior, not on the person." (That seems especially good advice as we go about the business of interacting with our fellow humans no matter the endeavor.) If our intention in criticizing grammar is to see it improved, then we would be wise to keep our criticisms pure and free from such distractions.

I recall a statistic from glottochronologists stating that a living language such as ours changes about 50% every thousand years. I recognize, accept, and enjoy that our language is alive and evolving. It's been said that "the written word is the mechanism by which we know what we know." We therefore don't come to know new things either as individuals, cultures, nations, or even as a species, without changing the way we speak and write.

The universe tells us that in a closed system there is an innate tendency toward disorder in all processes. The human mind should never be considered a closed system and entropy therefore should not rule in linguistics. Rather than accept the decay of our language, we should be moving toward refinement and perfection in our communications, both written and oral, all the while realizing that perfection in language is unattainable so long as the environment in which it is written and spoken remains in flux.

So while I accept and encourage the evolution of our language by necessity, I can not accept or even tolerate our language changing due to ignorance. Ignorance is our enemy. It's been said that we live too late to explore the world, too early to explore the universe, and therefore our present frontier is the capability and capacity of the mind. So I will continue to speak out against poor grammar rooted in ignorance and I will continue to encourage critique of my own communications for all the reasons I've cited. But I will not make it personal and so long as a critique is delivered in that spirit, I will not take it personally either. I will not be a "nazi" and I will discourage that behavior in others. I will continue my attempts to advance our abilities to communicate, not diminish them, and therefore will never accept poor grammar.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fishing for Truth

It is not that I have an aversion to fishing or even fishermen. What I have is an aversion to inflicting pain and suffering on an animal for pleasure. If tomorrow we awake to the world seen in John Milius' Red Dawn (Wolverines!) and I find myself needing to fish, hunt, or employ any traditional survival skills, I would survive. I think these are valuable skills worth learning, I'm glad I possess them, and I would certainly pass them along to my progeny.

My aversion is to "catch and release" and "trophy fishing" and fishing for "sport." My aversion is to anyone whose smile grows larger in direct proportion to the animals' fight to survive. In my experience that's most fishermen. Sure, there are those who are out there strictly, reverentially, and responsibly taking only what they need to sustain themselves or their family. This I have no problem with.

I grew up in North Carolina where fishing is a significant portion of the local culture. I can remember all the people who, as I once did, went fishing for bluegill using a beetle spinner and 2# test line. It wasn't about finding a fish to eat (not much on a bluegill), it was about the "thrill of the kill." They used 2# test line to make the catch more challenging and to enjoy the feeling of a proportionally bigger fight. The bigger the fight the animal puts up, the more stress the animal endures, the more pleasure is derived from the experience.

What I see as far more commonplace and equally tragic, especially dockside here in FL, is the conflation of catch size (either number or physical size) with self-worth, and quite often, virility. This behavior is so widely entrenched culturally that it is accepted practically without question and anyone daring speak out against it, as I am now, is inevitably labeled a "left-wing, liberal, commie, tree-hugging, socialist, wacko," who is out of touch, and even worse perhaps, "out of the mainstream."

I'm sad to say most seem to disagree that this kind of behavior is disgusting, immoral, perverted, uncivilized, aberrant, and utterly unjustifiable. But in a sense I gladly acknowledge and accept this disagreement. As J. Krishmamurthi has noted, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Five Guys Walk Into A Bar

Five Guys Walk Into A Bar is the best box set I've ever owned I think.

Artist: Faces
Box Set: Five Guys Walk Into A Bar
Date: 2004
Discs: 4 w/ 58 pages of history and liner notes
Produced by: Legendary producer, Glyn Johns
Dist by: WB/Rhino

Who were Faces?
Kenney Jones - drums
Ronnie Lane - bass
Ian McLagan - organ, piano
Rod Stewart - vocals
Ron Wood - guitar

It started in 1969 when the band "Small Faces" broke up due to Steve Marriott leaving to form the band "Humble Pie" with Peter Frampton.

Then two former members of the Jeff Beck Group - Rod Stewart and Ron Wood - joined the remaining Small Faces and Faces was born.

They were only a band from 69 - 75. They all went their separate ways and we know that Rod Stewart went on to be Rod Stewart and of course Ron Wood went on to join The Rolling Stones.

They didn't have a lot of commercial success compared to the other British Invasion bands of the era. But their influence on music is still felt today. Check it out:

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco wrote:
The Faces' importance as punk-prototypes cannot be questioned; they never appeared to take anything too seriously. Cutting all potential pathos with a wink and a healthy shot of rubbing alcohol - pinky raised, no less. Like the ne'er-do-well that can't even keep a straight face while his clothes are being tossed out on the lawn. Always falling apart and having a great time at it. I love 'em and doubt seriously if we could have had a Sex Pistols much less a Replacements without them.

Slash of Guns n Roses wrote:
As far as I recall, there was not one glam, punk, or even heavy metal band in the 80's that wasn't influenced by the Faces' look and/or sound, not to mention their party attitude. The Faces had a unique style of songwriting, great hooks, great melodies, and, of course, Rod Stewart's inimitable vocals. They were Britain's ultimate good time R&R band, notto mention R&R's first hair band! Trust me, we all wanted to be The Faces.

I must say, this was a GREAT birthday present!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It took me until Election Day. But I figured it out. I finally know what George Bush meant when he said, "I'm a uniter, not a divider."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Two Party Trap

Friedrich Hayek said:
"We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis in our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected."

If you find yourself "embracing party politics," that is to say, if you label yourself as one or the other, engage in the us/them democrat/republican rhetoric, or think seriously that in the long term one is more or less injurious to the welfare of our society, you are not only missing the big picture, you are playing right into the game of the true "elite" in this country, those behind the scenes and pulling the real strings. More to the point, you are the problem with America.

Though I detest sports analogies, they can work well (providing people don't want to tangentially debate the analogy) to "dumb down" an issue to the lowest common denominator. So for the sake of only clarity and with no disparagement intended, let me suggest that the two parties need each other just like Seminoles need Gators, just like NC State needs UNC, like Ohio State needs Michigan, etc. If one of these teams disappear, then another "arch-rival" will immediately replace them.

Why? Because most people won't think critically beyond a dichotomy; they won't evaluate multiple alternatives. It's not their fault, they're just wired that way. However, I believe most of us have the ability to exceed these limitations but do not for reasons of either apathy, laziness, or a refusal to move beyond the primal urges of tribalism.

H.L. Mencken said:
"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos."

The choice of republican/democrat is, classically speaking, the horns of a dilemma, a rhetorical device that is analogous to the horns of a charging bull. It is an argument designed to put an opponent into the position of accepting either of two unpleasant choices such that accepting either is a losing proposition.

Learned and enlightened participants will realize, should they be able to rise above the aforementioned tribalism, apathy, and laziness, is that acceptance of either lemma is ultimately to find oneself "impaled" on a horn of the bull. Therefore, the only valid approach, in this case, is to step aside and reject both propositions.

Two horns on the same bull, two sides on the same coin, two alternative ways to embrace the same failed political system. Democrats want you to hate republicans. Republicans want you to hate democrats. It is through this method of codependent antagonism that their mutual survival and our perpetual disenfranchisement are assured.

Robert Higgs wrote:
"After a century of fighting a losing battle against their own governments, the American people have finally accepted that the best course open to them is simply to label their servitude as freedom and to concentrate on enjoying the creature comforts that the government still permits them to possess. They may be slaves, but they are affluent slaves, and that condition is good enough for them."

So while you are "freely" embracing one of the horns of the bull that has been purposely foisted upon you and while you are gladly accepting it as virtuous and lauding it as the solution, the path, and the way, take a look from outside the box as Goethe did.

Goethe wrote:
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."

Now ask yourself - how many different labels do you embrace for yourself? Christian/Jew? Democrat/Republican? Gator/Seminole? Why not climb out of the boxes the world has put you in and discover yourself? Why not get rid of labels and focus on ideas? Why not come up with your own ideas? The world is a discontinuous spectrum of all colors with lots of gray in between. To remain black or white is to miss the big picture. It's time to evolve beyond that kind of thinking.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Humphry Davy gets no respect. Have you ever heard of him? More than 75 years before Thomas Edison filed his patent for an "Improvement in Electric Lights," numerous others, Davy being the first, had conjured photons from flowing electrons. Edison, not to diminish his achievements, simply built a better mousetrap.

We've come along way since Davy connected a battery to a thin platinum strip. More to the point, we've come a long way since Edison made a better vacuum, found a better filament, and envisioned a systemic application rather than an isolated instance of "look what I can do!" Edison's light bulb has been the standard for more than a century. Even though more efficient flourescent lighting is not much younger than incandescent lighting, still, incandescence has been the standard. Until now.

There is a movement building. At the grocery store, at the home improvement store, and especially at your local mega-retailer, we are seeing the new "compact fluorescent bulbs" (CFLs). Environmental blogs and magazines all seem to be pointing at these "new inventions," as the answer to our most common energy concern: how do we lower the cost? Never mind for a moment that evironmentally speaking CFLs are a disaster for the environment, they will lower your electric bill each month. And that's the problem. People equate a savings in their bank account with saving the planet.

You're probably wondering why I call CFLs a "disaster for the environment." Especially when we all know that they last four or five times as long as an incandescent bulb and often deliver the same light for a fraction of the electrical consumption. What is hidden, what is not seen, are the costs to the environment in producing the electronic ballasts and the increased loading of mercury to our landfills, and ultimately, our water supply. And although it may seem a minor consideration, have you looked at the packaging for a standard incandescent compared to the packaging of a CFL? We don't need a complex model to immediately discern the important differences here.

So why are CFL's gaining popularity? They do allow the user to save money on electricty today. And they're here now for a relatively inexpensive price. I just hope they're not the incandescent bulbs of the future. Fluorescent light should have been the standard but they lagged behind Edison's incandescent system by at least a decade. Today, we are seeing the emergence of this new CFL standard and unfortunately, lagging it in time, and in price, is what should be our newly embraced standard for the future:


Light Emitting Diode lighting is almost here. Well, it is here. It's just not as bright as we want it for the money we have to spend. It's not that big a stretch to get a consumer to spend $5 on a light bulb instead of $1 as is the case with CFL vs. incandescent. But it's still an almost impossible leap to get someone to spend $40 on the LED when they could "feel good" about spending that $5 on the CFL.

But it is still cheaper in the long run to go with LED - if only we would embrace it as the standard now! In terms of it's potential envrironmental impact it is vastly superior to CFL. It also consumes much less energy. And it emits much less heat. And it is available in a variety of colors and configurations that will satisfy any application.

It's not my intention here to provide statistics and figures and cite reports. There are endless stats available on the internet quanitfying the efficiencies of each type of bulb. I'll leave that for you should you have an interest in discrediting or crediting my words herein. My intention here is only to say, "let's not make the same mistake again." Let's look to the future and embrace the newest technology. Let's not let CFLs become the standard for the next century when there is a far better choice already available.