Who and what a person is is more than just what they look like and where
they live. It is made up of a collection of things they like and are interested
in and what they think about. The topics below are the things that keep
my attention - the order is not significant as what I am most keen about
changes from day to day and sometimes more frequently.
It would be tragic not to be interested in what you do for a living,
so I suppose I have to be interested in computers. I am an active member
of the Australian
Computer Society and I was a member of the NSW Branch Executive
Committee for several years.
- Writing: A collection of things that
I have written can be found here
- Committees: Sometimes you just have
to get involved as more than just a spectator. I have at various
times been President, Vice President and a general committee member
of Australian Skeptics,
and until the end of 2003 I was a committee member for several years
of both The Western
Sydney Business Connection and the
Society, NSW Branch. I was on the board of
Australia from 2005 to 2007.
- Scepticism: Marvin Gaye sang: "Believe
half of what you read, and none of what you hear". You may believe
in UFOs, psychics, astrology, spoon benders, water dowsers and other
such flim flam. I don't. I believe that the power of rational thought
is diminished by the acceptance of irrational beliefs, so I am one of
those people who likes his facts to be correct.
have seen UFOs and other things which I did not understand, but I have
taken these events as evidence that there were things which I just did
not know, rather than as matters which could only be explained by some
supernatural, paranormal or pseudoscientific means. I am also a liberal
(in the sense that would be understood by Mill and Bentham) in that
I don't care what you believe as long as it harms nobody. Teaching
creationism in schools and feeding children on nutrient-deficient vegetarian
diets are examples of where it can not be said that the practice "harms
nobody". I have been on the committee of
- Health fraud: This goes beyond scepticism
into the area where real harm is done. Put simply, "alternative
medicine" is neither medicine nor an alternative. The Internet
seems riddled with liars and thieves offering guaranteed cures for everything
from hangnails to AIDS, all using "traditional" or "natural"
or "alternative" methods and potions. It would be bad enough
if these vermin just emptied their victims' wallets and gave them
false hopes, but there are people who are actively campaigning to kill
and maim children. The most depressing and offensive site I have ever
seen on the Internet belonged to an organisation which wants to stop
people vaccinating their children.
particular site was the trigger for the creation of
Project.) By the way, when the Chinese swimming team were in Australia
for the 1998 World Championships, the drugs they brought with them were
not the traditional crushed beetles, bird's droppings and herbs,
but plain old made-in-a-factory human growth hormone. Even the most
traditional of people know what works when they really need it. In late
2003 I established the
Against Health Fraud to formalise the fight against quackery. (ACAHF
was closed in 2011 because I had to devote my time to other things.
The fight against pseudomedicine goes on elsewhere.)
- Multi-level marketing:
The newspapers regularly carry stories about thieves who defraud shareholders
or scammers who sell faulty or nonexistent products
but an even greater fraud is committed in lounge rooms across the nation
each night as conmen claim that unlimited wealth can be gained through
pyramid selling schemes. Of course they don't call them "pyramid
schemes" because the law defines such schemes and lawyers have
been paid to make sure these scams don't fit the legal definition.
Someone once told me that anybody could sign up 5 people per month;
if each of those 5 also signed up 5 per month and the thing continued,
in the 10th month 48,828,125 people would be added to my downline. This
is two-and-a-half times the entire population of Australia. When I asked
why the oldest MLM operation in Australia had only 80,000 people in
the pyramid (sorry, network) after 25 years, I was given some claptrap
answer. If it works, it takes 40 weeks to saturate Australia and eight
weeks later the entire population of the USA has to be added. Sure,
people are making money, but they aren't those coming in at the
bottom. You can read more of my opinions on this
by clicking here. I wrote an article for
newspaper poking a bit of fun at the pyramidiots, and the editor
received some savage phone calls in response. Funnily enough, none of
the complainers bothered to ring me directly. Perhaps they didn't
want to talk to a negative loser.
In September 2005 my interest
in the activities of MLM operators was heightened because one of them
dragged me into court because they didn't like criticism.
You can see some details here.
Speech: I have always believed in Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr's concept
of the market of ideas, where the answer to speech is more speech, and
one of the policies that I have had for my
hobby web site
since its inception is that anyone can say anything they like about
me and my only response will be words. One of the greatest positives
about the Internet is that it allows anyone to publish anything and
allows anyone who complains the same right to publish rebuttal. Like
most people I talked the talk and it was all rather academic, until,
as Pastor Niem�ller said, "Then they came for me", and
sued by someone who didn't like what I had to say about
them. This experience made me want to be more actively involved in gaining
and keeping for everyone, not just me, the rights of free expression
that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights supposedly
endows on the citizens of every country, so in November 2005 I nominated
(successfully) for a position on the board of
Australia and served for two years. Like all rights, freedom of
speech can be abused, but freedom of speech is an example of Pascal's
Wager - the cost of choosing suppression and being wrong is far greater
than the cost of choosing freedom and allowing the occasional mistake.
- Motor Sport: Everyone has to have some sport they are interested
in, and mine is motor sport. Over the years I competed in just about
everything you can do in a car except open racing, drag racing and speedway.
My main interest for many years was rallying where I had reasonable
success as both driver and navigator, and I also organised a few events.
Time and money finally caught up with me, but if I win Lotto there will
be something very fast with a roll cage in my garage within a week.
to think that age caught up with me too until I was an official on a
rally about ten years after I had given up regular competition. Three
times during the event I had to traverse a competitive section to get
from one place I had to be to another. On one 32 kilometre section I
was two minutes faster than the fastest competitor and on another (an
eleven kilometre hillclimb in the wet) I equalled the fastest time.
On one section where I didn't get timed I caused a competitor (who claimed
to be a contender for a state rally championship!) to complain to the
organisers that I harassed him by sitting behind him flashing my lights
until he pulled over and then I blew dust at him as I went by. I was
driving a standard automatic Falcon with road tyres and execrable brakes
at the time. While I think that these results probably say more about
the level of competition in the event than they do about my ability,
they show that the skills learned in motor sport don't necessarily fade
away completely after you stop using them every weekend. And did I boast
and rub my performance in the face of the supposed experts who were
slower than me? Of course I did! Especially the "championship contender"
who didn't like my dust. (Here's
something I wrote in 2016 about how handy the skills from motor
sport can be, even long after you stop playing the game.)
current involvement is as a journalist doing media things at
rallies. Stories might even appear here soon.
|Out the back of Taree somewhere,
setting up for a left-hand hairpin turn
||Surfing near Oberon
||Mrs B with the hammer down in
||Mrs B flogging The Snail around
|Click pictures to see