are you a good person?

I think I can hear you. “Not again one of these attention-seeking headlines…” you might be thinking. Don’t worry I actually mean it, because I have been asking myself this question slightly more often than usual over the last 4ish months. Only 2 days ago this question popped up again.

Just after a week of news from the US and the BLM movement, Sydney planned a peaceful protest in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I had not, absolutely no intention of going. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. Well, once it did, which led to this blog post.

Forget about the challenges of finding someone to look after the kids or the fact that I think that, just as we (in Australia) managed to keep new corona infections to a minimum, hanging out with 50000 other people in a public place while funerals are still kept to 12 people and a 4sqm rule is imposed on any eatery environment, doesn’t strike me as a particularly clever idea.

“You are a bad person, you don’t care about the BLM movement, if you are quiet you are part of the problem, white people need to speak up…”is what I could read across all social media outlets and there the question popped up again…am I a good person? If so, I should attend the protests and speak up. But I didn’t.

If you have read some of my blog posts you will now that I do believe that climate change is man-made but I have never attended a climate change protest. Not one.

I won’t go into a defence mode here on my views re black people or any other race for that matter. To my conscious mind, I don’t have a single thought in my head that would discriminate against race, religion, colours, age, sex, culture and all other possible ways of treating another human being differently. I know that doesn’t change the fact that many humans around the world face discrimination in many ways and that it should not be like this. I have lived the majority of my life in countries where I was a foreigner but that’s different from the BLM issue.

You will have noticed I said “conscious” mind in the previous paragraph. That’s because we all do have a subconscious mind – the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware. And that little bugger is very much influenced by the way we grew up, our background, the environment we grew up / live in, etc.

Harvard University has been running Project Implicit since 1998 and as part of their research, they developed the IAT – the Implicit Association Test.

The Implicit Association Test makes it possible to penetrate your subconscious mind and measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report. Give it a go you will be surprised by the results. You can do this test on your computer or iPad across all sorts of areas such as race, skin tone, weight, sexuality, gender, age etc.

Once you are done, read the explanations so you don’t feel like a bad person and have a deeper understanding of your subconscious prejudices. If you feel intrigued by this rather interesting topic I recommend you read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” – the power of thinking without thinking.

Coming back to – are you a good person? I leave you with some words from Alain de Botton, my favourite philosopher.

There is really only one question you ever need to direct at someone to work out whether or not they are a good person – and that is, with deliberate simplicity:

Do you think you are a good person?

And to this, there is only one acceptable answer. People who are genuinely good, people who know about kindness, patience, forgiveness, compromise, apology and gentleness always, always answer no.

The price of being genuinely good has to be a constant suspicion that one might be a monster – combined with a fundamental hesitation about labelling anyone else monstrous. A guilty conscience is the bedrock of virtue.

You can find Alain’s recent blog post and more details on this here.

Love to hear your thoughts either in the comments or just reply via email

And I urge you to watch this.

sailing downloads

I have always had quite a few templates, files and other nifty electronic files that I kept handy for sailing trips, boat maintenance and more.

I have now started uploading these documents to my site and added a section “downloads” in support of everyone who might need them. All downloads are free.

You’ll find useful Excel templates that can help you with your sailing boat budget, printables such as Mayday cards, and even free eBooks that will work on your iPad or kindle.

I have only just started and will be adding more files and templates so sign up to my newsletter if you like to receive updates.

great barrier reef bleaching

In my previous post I briefly mentioned the most recent bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

A few people reached out and asked what that actually means. Happy to give you more details on this. Firstly, it’s not good news at all.

Corals are thermally sensitive, meaning that they can only tolerate small temperature ranges. However, climate change is causing abnormally high sea-surface temperatures, which is causing corals to bleach during summer months. The intensity of coral bleaching increases as temperatures become hotter.

Zooxanthellae are tiny, colourful marine algae, which live inside corals, providing them with much of their colour and, most importantly, their primary supply of energy. However, if the surrounding sea temperature becomes too warm, the algae die.

The loss of these zooxanthellae is what is referred to as ‘coral bleaching’.

Why are corals so important other than that they are nice to look at? Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing valuable and vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.

This year, the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest reef system, spanning more than 344,400 square kilometers — suffered its third major bleaching event in the last five years. Previous ones took place in 2016 and 2017, with the 2016 event considered the most severe.

However, this year’s bleaching is proving to be the most extensive. A group of researchers has just updated the latest 5 year projection for the Great Barrier Reef from poor to very poor.

There’s really no time to lose to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian government is not pulling its weight in that regard. Which is quite astonishing in itself as 70% Australia’s GDP is coming from the services sector within which tourism is a large proportion.

Weird, don’t you think?

Let me know in the comments what you think.

politics, economy and humans

Following my last rather aggressive rant I’ll try and tone down in this week’s blog post. That’s not to say I am in any way ok with what’s happening in our national and global political landscape and its response to the biggest crisis since WWII. That’s the human part.

As for a view on some of the political leadership, I’d like to share a short video of George Monbiot with you. He puts similar views into a very clear language in a way that I can’t. George is a writer and independent journalist and lives in the UK. I have read two of his books and in general, think he is a lovely chap.

Moving on.

The economy

Economy. Well, I think we can all agree we were hoping 2020 would be “the year”? The word’s New Year resolutions didn’t even have time to be forgotten when Covid19 started emerging. Forget about that. Not going to happen.

Research suggests the current crisis won’t hit the global economy as hard and long as the GFC in 2008 did. Honestly that remains to be seen. I have a different view, but let’s just focus for a moment on why it apparently is not going to be as “tough”.

Research by some clever people of some of the big economics and financial firms suggest that the GFC was essentially a “balance sheet” recession. “The bursting of an earlier housing bubble punched a hole in household balance sheets, forcing a collective shift towards saving/de-gearing rather than spending.” This exposed vulnerabilities in a highly-leveraged banking system and as counter-party confidence collapsed, the financial system froze up. This all manifested itself in a collapse in demand.

A few slides that give you some insights regarding GDPs, credit defaults and more of the current COVID-19 impact.

COVID-19 affects both supply and demand within the economy. Restrictions on people movements (factories, travel etc) reduce the productive capacity of our economy.

The same research suggests that fiscal responses by the governments – ramping up now and over the course of 2020 – will act in time to buffer the economies from recession. Globally, the paper continues, the firms believe there is ample liquidity in the financial systems to absorb financial market volatility.

Maybe, but let’s not forget that we are not talking about corporates helping societies to get back up on their feet but governments. Governments by their very nature need to “borrow” unplanned budgets from the future. As shitty as this sounds (and is) it is borrowed money from our kids. Why? Because governments have only one income stream: TAX. Borrowing from the future means higher tax as we move forward and given the amount of cash needed to get economies back afloat simple means we all have to chip in. Watch this space because none of this is being discussed at all.

Which brings me to my last point.

Everything is going to be better

I have heard many people say, “this is our lesson, the world will be a better place after this”, “people will wake up and see that we have to change” and so on. As I said in one of my blog posts before. This is what’s going to happen.

NOTHING.

Humans don’t run on information.
Humans don’t make decisions on facts.
Humans don’t spend money based on data.
Humans run on feelings.

Humans want stuff, humans want ownership, control and independence (BTW there is a great book I read that explains more of why this will not make you happy) You can read my previous blog post on this in relation to climate change here.

By the way, did you know that the Great Barrier Reef suffered its third mass bleaching event in five years? News of this study came out two days ago. Humans don’t run on information. Humans run on feelings. That’s why anyone who has never dived there or is not directly impacted by climate change barely lifts an eyelid.

Already during this crisis, corporates are gearing up to catch the early bird, be it investments in high demand products, laying off personnel under the banner of Covid19, shifting investments or signing a memorandum of understanding promising government support for coal-fired power stations as everyone else is busy fighting this health crisis. All the while we humans fight over toilet paper.

Oh, by the way, that’s not to say that no humans will look at a different lifestyle once this is over, but I guess you might guess who 🙂

the lucky generation?

We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war.

So here we are. Only a few months ago I said to my wife that we are the “lucky generation”. We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war. 


My German granddad lost a leg in the second-world war and even though he passed away when I was very young my grandma filled in the blanks for me. I pretty much remember all the stories about the Nazis, the bombings, food shortage and other horrible things.

As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book Homo Deus: “We have developed the means to defeat famine, decease and the effect of war…we are more likely to die from obesity than hunger…war is an exceptional occurrence rather than a given, you are more likely to die from diabetes than war and even the Ebola crisis killed “only” 11000 people.”

But here we are.

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The next few months will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture.


I look at my two boys and am pretty scared. Not panicky scared but really scared. Yes, this crisis will pass and we will survive but we will inhabit a different world. We are no longer the lucky generation. Nor are my kids in the lucky generation.

Who knows how this all will impact them. Mental illness and suicide rates are predicted to go through the roof, some Governments including the Australian and US government scare the shit out of me. 


A five and a thirteen-year-old boy died in the UK of Coronavirus, Germany today has 800 infected kids in the age group 0-4 and 1600 in the age group 5-14. Australia doesn’t show any numbers and I suspect that’s due to the fact that kids are not tested because they don’t show any symptoms.

Of course, these numbers are a tiny drop in the ocean compared to car accidents or the “normal” flu. To be honest, the next person that comes up to me with that braindead explanation I’ll… never mind. Car accidents don’t jump on the plane and go viral in another country. Get a f&%*ing perspective and do some reading on how serious this is.


What is totally beyond me is why in Australia childcare centres and schools are still open? Both are hotbeds of infections at the best of times and even though the kids “show little to no symptoms” they are can very well be infected, carry the infection and pass it on. Like every other human being. Whether they actually die from this (well they seem in the UK?? Hello!!!) is totally irrelevant, they should be in self-isolation as every adult. In our case, the boys have been kept from school for the last 4 weeks starting with the first news from Italy.


Please don’t come to me with the “essential service workers” won’t be able to go to work if they have to look after their kids. There are solutions for this and I can tell based on my litmus test of 7 doctor friends, they have had their kids at home before you even knew about the virus. Of course, doctors and nurses are not the only essential workers. That includes cleaners, postmen, truck drivers, grocery store workers and so on but please, there are super-easy solutions for this such as dedicated childcare workers or centres for essential workers. It is pretty straight forward, more importantly, everyone gets tested (kids and carers) going in/out. There you go.


I am super angry and had to write this down. I currently live in Australia and am extremely unhappy with how the Government is dealing with the crisis. I am a big fan of Bill Gates, not for his achievements with Microsoft but this guy has single-handedly eradicated Polio off the face of this earth, was in involved in helping with the Ebola crisis and even warned about this current crisis 5 years ago (see video below) and he says (with a focus on the US) “if we do it right, we’ll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks, but it has to be the whole country,” on the complete lockdown of the US. The same is true for Australia but I fear the exact opposite is going to happen. We are not in full lockdown at all and given the decreasing numbers of daily increase of new cases we will soon see a softening of the self-isolation rules. I do not believe this is over yet and we have not done enough testing. A second wave as predicted and active in man countries is highly likely. 


The weird thing is, Australia has the unique advantage of space and distance. Our major cities are wide apart making a lockdown and detailed monitoring much much easier than in any other country on this planet. 
And for everyone talking economy here’s my take: we can bring an economy back to life, dead people not so much! And please don’t be so shortsighted. We are part of a global economy even, even if Australia was all hunky-dory tomorrow we have umbilical cords to economies like China, UK and US, plus the rest of world that send tourists to Australia. Australia’s  Service industry comprises over 70% of the GDP. It dominates the economy, which employs over 79% of our labour force! That’s the tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, logistics, education, and finance sectors. Without the other world economies being well again we will have no economy!

Let’s be safe rather that sorry. 

March 2015 – Bill Gates

go, and self isolate!

21.03.2020

I have to write this down. Even if it is just to keep a historical record.

At the time of writing this the SARS COV-2 virus (covid19 or Coronavirus) has infected 1072 Australians and claimed 7 lives.

Source: https://www.covid19data.com.au/

This number has been doubling every 2-3 days for the last two weeks and it’s exponential trajectory towards doubling every day. By that time we are in deep shit. That time is not in 10 months but in 10 days!

With that in mind I do not understand why Australians (never mind the government) are not self isolating?? Yesterday Bondi beach welcomed over 1000 people happily frolicking on the beach, tonight on my walk through the park I passed restaurants full of people.

Why do I have an opinion on this?

Two reasons really. One is primary school maths. 1700 on Monday, 3400 on Wednesday or Thursday, 7-8000 by next weekend, and thats only the tested numbers!! The true number is a multiple of this. Primary school maths. No magic fairy will bring that down. We are 14-20 days behind Italy. Believe in maths not magic.

Second reason. I am no Virologist or epidemiologist – no, but I worked for 18 months as an advisor to the UK pandemic Influenza preparedness Programm. All we did was simulate and develop responses to such an outbreak. I remember some of the outcomes. Even though theses were only Excel models.

Oh, there is a 3rd reason. LOOK at what it is happening in Italy, France, Germany… how dense can you be and think this will go away? It won’t.

If the numbers end up as predicted we WILL RUN OUT OF MEDICAL help! Australia has 2230 ICU beds. That’s Intensive Care Units beds. 874 in NSW. Guess how quickly they are full? Not to mention the exhausted doctors and nurses and all other helpers. Why do you think they are posting photos like this? For fun??

In Italy 627 people died today.

Let’s not become a second Italy. Please stay home. Look after yourself and stay safe.

planet bbq

Time is always moving on, Nothing can stop it. The question is whether we use our time properly or not. We can’t do anything about the past, but what happens in the future depends on what we do now. Dalai Lama

If you, like me, live in Australia you will have noticed that we have a few fires going on here at the moment. Bushfires, not BBQ fires. If you don’t live in Australia you will have come across the global media coverage, unless you live on the moon that is.

Continue reading “planet bbq”

brainblurb – the most useless product

Warning. This is a rant post.

Today is one of those few days where it actually rains in Sydney.

In case you would like to know, Sydney has 236 days a year sunshine. The remainder being days with rain. However, a shower only ever lasts 30-60 minutes.

With that and the general environment in mind I would like to introduce to you the most useless product ever invented. At least in my opinion.

Drum roll.

Here comes the umbrella bagging station usually found at entrances of larger offices, banks or shopping Centers.

If it is raining and you enter the building you are supposed to fold up your umbrella and bag it in one of those long plastic cover condoms.

To avoid water dropping from your wet umbrella onto the precious floor. Yes.

What an utter bullshit. Such a waste of money and resources. Especially following the plastic shopping bag ban you now get a free plastic bag for your umbrella; which you’ll use for 15min and then dispose of 👍

Anyone giving me any of this, “yeah but this is about safety, someone might slip and break their neck because of your water drops…” bullshit, please consider this: you just managed to walk through the rain without falling on your face.

If you ever met my grandma you know how to properly shake an umbrella dry before you enter a building.

Rant over.

PS – don’t use these things.

humans eat plastic

Humans don’t run on information.
Humans don’t make decisions on facts.
Humans don’t spend money based on data.
Humans run on feelings.

It has always been like this and will never change. Never.

Much more intelligent people than me figured this out. Dead and alive. Freud, Bernays, Plotinus, Socrates…

Here is only one example why the above is true.

The majority of the people in first world parts on this planet are aware of the fact that we have too much plastic in our oceans. That in itself is pretty uncool. 

You know the swimming in plastics, poor fish and turtles dying and so on. Then you add the fact that micro-plastics make their way from the ocean (via fish, rain or drink water) into the human food chain and you know that plastic in general is a pretty crap product.

At this very moment the majority of the people mentioned above will be shopping for plastic wrapped products and carry them home in plastic bags.

Humans don’t run on information.
Humans don’t make decisions on facts.
Humans don’t spend money based on data.  

Humans run on feelings.

book: “everything is f*cked…”

Another book I finished this week is Mark Manson’s “Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope“.

This one follows his mega bestseller “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” which I also read.

These type of books sell very well at airports. Colourful cover, right on the POS table next to the cash till. The title obviously does its thing.

This one I like.

Some of his stuff is very well researched, some not so and seems a bit oversimplified. Still I like his writing style.

Mark mixes philosophy, literature, opinion, self-help, inappropriate jokes, and thought experiments through the chapters.

He defines what he calls “The Uncomfortable Truth” and takes you through an explanation of the Thinking Brain vs. the Feeling Brain.

7/10

book: “the happiness paradox”

Just finished Richard Eyre’s “The happiness paradox”.

The book argues that the very things most of us chase — control, ownership and independence — are making us unhappy.

To be happy we need to shift to a happiness paradigm in which these three “joy thieves” are traded for three “joy rescuers.”

Good read, well written, although a bit repetitive, chewing on about same things towards the last third of the book.

Slightly confusing is the flip format, paradox and paradigm parts start on opposite site of the book (cover) and there is no indication where to start.

6/10

the education revolution

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” (Oscar Wilde).

This is the core of Greek learning or paideia. The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person. Continue reading “the education revolution”

and the oscars go to…

Wow, 2018 was a tough year, really tough. I can’t say 2019 started much better and just the simple fact that I am writing this list near end of March shows how much time has already passed.

Such list is usually best written at the beginning of the new year because it covers the previous year but I simply didn’t have enough time.

Continue reading “and the oscars go to…”

future of education is changing

Educational outcomes will become more predictable

The writing is on the wall. Education providers will have to change their approach to how they deliver content and personalise the learning experience. They will most likely be able to deliver much higher results based on such an individual approach to education. Historically, no one could predict the outcome of any educational program but providers start shifting the focus from groups of students to each individual student, conduct ongoing individual content alignment more often and select suitable mentors according to the student’s personal goals. Knowledge and skills obtained in this way will become much more predictable.

Continue reading “future of education is changing”

brainblurb – the fools of alexander

The fools of Alexander is the derogatory name used by scholars to describe anyone who has wasted time searching for buried treasure in Alexandria, Egypt.

It is said that in Alexandria everybody has a theory about Alexander the Great and the location of his coffin of “hammered gold”. In most parts of the world, people buy lottery tickets. In Alexandria, they buy shovels.*

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