Raising the Dead

20 October, 2007

A long, long time ago in a blogosphere far far away I used to write a blog on whatever interested me. Then I lost interest and took up World of Warcraft. All of this time I have been intending to get back to it but never quite managed it. Then we had our second bub, and so now that I am busier than ever I intend to try to resurrect it again. Hopefully it won’t be short lived, but rather an ongoing if only a weekly posting affair.

Anyhow the blogpost I was always intending to write next was a book review of The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, as it was what I was reading at the time and touches on a number of topics I am interested in. So last week I began re-reading it with an eye to finally discussing it. Hopefully the reading and review will be done in a few days.



20 February, 2007

I’ve moved, and for the most part settled in, so with the exception of a week away coming up soon, I hope to get a bit more active in blogsville.

I’m thinking of reviewing some articles I started and put on hold and maybe putting them out to get me back on the horse.

Sydney rentals

18 January, 2007

There has been a bunch of articles in the SMH recently about how tight the sydney rental market is. This was a little disappointing given that we had just started trying to find a place the day the headline proclaiming a 20% increase appeared in the paper the day before we started seriously looking. As usual this was some “research” by one of the various property industry bodies which regularly come out with rosy predictions about sectors of the property market. Typical lazy journalism runs these articles without any scrutiny, indeed they’ve been predicting rebounds in housing prices the entire time its been going down.

The article had the desired effect, overnight some of the advertised properties increased their asking rent 10%, ringing to enquire about another on the following Saturday I was told that “the asking price has gone up because the owner read the article in the paper saying rents were going up 20%”, again they had jacked it up 10%, for a property that already looked a little pricey. Obviously if the prediction is wrong then the market won’t sustain these rises, but at least in the short term it will probably have the desired effect. I do wonder when this research stops being research and starts being market manipulation. Not all of the newspaper articles fall into this category, the discussion of the effect the changes to super rules are having is legitimate, but what I dislike is the hyped up price increase amounts.

My story has a happy ending. We found two places we like on the first weekend of searching, got offered both and took the one we liked best. Further out from the city now, we’ve gone from Glebe to Strathfield, which means I won’t be walking to work in the CBD anymore, but on the upside we now have about 3 times as much space and a yard for the little fella to crawl and soon run around in, but the upside is we are paying a bit less rent.

Update: Another article today but this time about house prices rather than rent. Two different surveys two different answers. Unsuprisingly the mortgage industry research, says

…a contrasting survey of 958 people by the Mortgage Industry Association of Australia (MIAA) and BankWest showed that Australians were becoming increasingly optimistic that house prices would increase in the next year.

The study showed that 42.9 per cent of respondents expected residential property prices to be higher in the next quarter, despite higher rates

(my emphasis)
where as a more independent poll found

A survey of 1,894 Australians by News.com.au found that 68 per cent of respondents said that higher interest rates would force home sellers to cut prices, while 42 per cent expected house prices to fall in the next quarter.

Long time no post

9 January, 2007

Its been a while since I’ve added anything, but I do intend to add more material here sometime soon. Although, as I will be moving house over the next month, its likely to be light on for a while.

No exactly a hiatus, but more of a quiet period.

Its easy to be a good dad

20 October, 2006

In December last year, my wife gave birth to our first child. I could tell you what a wonderful rewarding experience it is (and it is), but I’m not going to.

Instead I want to talk about the joy of low expectations that society places upon you as a father. I never realised that being a “good dad” was so easy. Pushing a pram up the street I have beaming old ladies tell me how wonderful it is that men are involved with the children, and that their husband would never have been seen pushing a pram. Change a nappy at my grandparents place and I hear about how fantastic it is that I help out.

It’s not just my grandparent’s generation that have this attitude. It is also clear from those in my parents or even my some of my own generation that they regard a father willing to help out with the general child raising chores an exception rather than the rule. I’ve worked with very proud Dads who would always talk of what their multiple children were up to, but admitted to having changed around three nappies in their lives. Its not that they weren’t interested in their children, it was merely that they didn’t help with the less pleasant chores.

Of course I don’t do as much as my wife does with the baby, I work and she doesn’t now. Still when I’m home I try to take a fair share of the child care chores. I don’t consider this exceptional but obviously it is. So all I can say to the generations of lazy bastards out there is, thanks for making it so easy to look like a good dad.

Inherited knowledge

20 October, 2006

Some months ago, during the middle of winter, I was sitting on the floor playing with my then roughly five month year old son when my wife came in from outside and stuck her icy hands on me. Mucking around, I pretended to cry, and the next thing my son bursts into tears, something he rarely does if he’s not hungry. Now as far as I can recall he’d never seen anyone else cry up to this point in his life, and we were mystified how he knew that it was an event to be upset about.

So I was looking at this article in The Economist about how our knowledge of facial expressions is likely inherited not learned, and was surprised to see that Charles Darwin had done something similar.

Darwin also believed babies are born able to recognise the facial expressions of others. His first child had suddenly assumed a melancholy expression in an experiment where the maid pretended to weep, even though the boy had apparently never before witnessed another person crying. This, Darwin thought, suggested that his son could not have learned that crying is linked to sadness and must have somehow inherited the knowledge.


25 September, 2006

I’m back, fully charged up on Boags draught, mutton bird and instant coffee. I hope to continue with the Boags draught and go back to a better form of coffee. The mutton bird will remain a treat when visiting Tassie.

A little bit of sightseeing was had and I spent a bit more time in Hobart which is pretty little city. The boy enjoyed getting his feet wet up at Boat Harbour in the North west in the icy waters of Bass Strait.

I’ll get back to more usual topics soon.