Friday, September 16, 2011

Evaluating Your Own Worth

I hate it. I really do. There's the fact that I've struggled with self-esteem for pretty much my entire life. And the fact that I love hate relationship with money.

If you think of money as a finite resource (which it has to be to have any value), and there's a crapload of people on the planet, and you're well aware that there are loads of poor people on the planet, then you start to wonder what things would look like if you didn't show a bit of greed. What if you were to, instead, chose to take a lower pay packet in the hopes that the wealth might be shared around? What if a lower pay packet meant that someone else might be employed?

And money never seems to take into account morality. This is my big argument against capitalism. Yep, that's right. I'm anti-capitalism. It's an imperfect system. And instead of finding a slightly more perfect (yes, I realise "perfect" is not a scalar term) system, we seem to be obsessed with trying to make this one work - despite knowing that it's really just not great. It doesn't, for example, take morality into account.

Look at American's and their resistance to socialised healthcare. I had a huge debate with someone on Google Plus about this. I had stated quite clearly that I didn't think I'd ever quite understand his position. Rather than provide healthcare to everyone, he claimed that it was better to try and fix the system so that competition drove down prices.

Of course, it's not in any healthcare provider's best interest to ever enter into a price war... So they may add more value, but they will never get any cheaper. A basic need, such as healthcare, in the hands of the result of capitalism.

But then, I want to be comfortable. I want to be able to pay off my tax bill and buy a kick butt computer and be able to eat well and buy beer etc. All of that important stuff. And one day, I'd love to have my own property. A lifestyle block where I'm able to build something obscenely sustainable with a swimming pool and commercial kitchen for when I have (a lot of) guests over.

So nothing is quite as frightening than being asked to "give a figure" in an interview. Essentially asking, "what do you think you're worth?"

So how do you evaluate yourself?

Whenever asked for "a figure" during what's essentially a job interview, I find myself playing the part of a blushing maiden on her wedding night. There are lots of "ahh"s and "umm"s and more blushing than is healthy.

And then, there's the point that a very old (old as in known for a long time rather than old as in age) friend of mine pointed out. That monetary value is essentially how we define our own worth. Our lifestyle is how we're taught to see ourselves. So if we're earning loads, there's an inherent self worth that comes with it. If we can do this without compromising our own values, then that value is worth all the more.

So assuming I was asked this question recently... what do you think is a fair figure?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing Blog Posts

I often have these ideas for blog posts. They sound great! For example, I had this whole idea about my name. It means no one. So while working on the project, you need a someone (this is what lead to the establishment of a hackerspace in Auckland), or no one. i.e. We've got no one to do this task...

But then I came to write it only to find that it all sounded... kind of crap. It just didn't read well. For every post on here that I've done, there are probably 5 or 6 that didn't make it on here. As I'm currently writing, I realise I'm reaching. I'm trying desperately to find something to write about.

I think Baillie has a similar problem. I quite often see partial posts of hers that never happen. I'm privileged that I get to, at the very least, see a stub of a post. "The 'cool' Dad" never happened. "New News, please" looks like a bunch of excuses as to why she hadn't posted for a while though I can't think of a more apt time for that heading.

Boy am I sick of news around the rugby global container for drinking (I'm doing my best to avoid using those words in any combination). And yes... we know 9/11 (why do American's use such a [insert expletive - I'm being lazy and don't want to come up with one myself] date syntax?) happened 10 years ago.

I'm finding myself wanting to be really horribly sarcastic about the international Rugby competition that involves a drinking vessel. Apparently in New Zealand we have both types of sport - Rugby union and rugby league. I know I'm not the only one. I would like to see the message on this t-shirt to perhaps be a little more bold in it's message. i.e. White sans-serif text on a black shirt. There's also the fact that the lead up to the rugby global goblet was a great big outcry about supporter's jerseys - which got more airtime on the news than the London riots or America's "financial woes" - and even more interesting - if you pointed this fact out to people, they'd then spend the next few minutes talking about the jerseys... Point out the fact that they've just spent more time discussing the jerseys and not the big news items and they'd look slightly confused.

So anyway, the message of the post that never quite happened tonight:

We're starting to get asked how to replicate the project. It's great and cool things are happening. How can what can essentially be branded "The Manaiakalani approach" be applied in other places?

Openness - EVERYONE should feel free to talk to anyone else. There's no point in keeping information from people because you want to avoid a toxic environment. I still think we could be doing this a little better. i.e. I'd wish people would stop trying to control my time by not telling me things like problems that they have or meetings they'd like me to attend. But for the most part, I think we do pretty well on this front.

Buy in - The people involved need to be committed to it. This is EVERYONE. The school, the principal, the teachers, the students and parents etc.

But most of all - expect that you're not going to be able to anticipate everything that is needed. Be flexible. Don't be afraid to ask around and get people talking to each other. And if all else fails and you've got no one to fill a space....

Okay - so the post still feels a little flat. For those of you who missed it, yes... it's a stub of a sentence with some comical effect - though not to great effect. Sometimes I think I'm too tiered for my own good.

So... in terms of rambles... This truly is one. I never knew how this post was going to look. I didn't have a destination in mind nor do I think I got there. And if you've gotten this far, you're doing better than I would.

So how do you end a blog post? Like this:

Friday, September 2, 2011

↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A

As an introduction, I'll tell you that you can expect my posts to be kinda geeky, without the overhead; what that means I'm not totally sure. You can expect more semicolons than you will normally encounter: I seem to like these little critters. You can expect long titles with Capitalised Words, or very short ones all in lowercase. You can expect better spelling than the previous posts... no, that's not a criticism (Is it a criticism?)... OK, yeah... it's a criticism. You can expect very obscure puns and very silly neologisms. You can expect a distinct preference for British spellings with a dash of American contractions. You can expect bold and italic instead of (or in conjunction with) ALL CAPS; also, Small Caps when I can. You can expect rhythm (a bit). You can expect programming (a lot). You can expect Frenchisms (sometimes). Happy reading!

To start us with, and by default of better material, here's my cheating rant:

I was thinking... (uh oh) about why cheating is such a problem in high school, where it really doesn't matter at all. High school is easy. I'm not saying that because I'm a nerd and I passed it with easy As (or Es, depending on which system you're in) -- I didn't. I'm a nerd and a computer geek and I got super crappy marks (by nerd standards) at my finals which barely got me enough points to get into Uni.

But that's the point. High school is easy because all you need to do to pass is listen in class and put a little effort in. Actually, you might be able to do less than that, because the teachers are paid better if more students pass their class, so some of the worst (or best) ones will actually give you full marks for very bad work.

In comparison, Uni is hard. Uni is incredibly harder than school because you actually have to learn stuff. You can't just passively sit in class, you've got to go out and read, practice, and do whatever it is you're studying. You've got to have self-discipline to get your assignments in at the correct time, and get to your tests early. There's no one behind you pushing you, and lecturers get paid the same whether or not you pass the course.

Cheating in high school is hard. For one, you have small classes and a teacher who knows you. That means that to cheat (successfully), you need to have someone who can imitate your style while consistently give you better marks than you ever could. It's a hard job. Because it's a hard job, you need to pay for it, or terrorise your local genius into doing it for you. There's also a very large amount of safeguards put into effect by schools and the ministry to avoid cheating in high school. You spend more time learning anti-cheat NCEA protocols than writing the papers. It's incredible.

Cheating in Uni is easy. You're just a number, and as a number, all you really need is a fake student ID to get into any class or test room you want. If you have the knowledge, you can make very easy money by getting paid to take papers for others. There's no safeguards, there's no millions invested in there. And I'm talking about cheating, not copying your essays off the Internet -- that's just plain stupid.

Cheating in high school will get you a qualification that more than 60% of the population get. That qualification might help you get into Uni or get a small job, but that's all it's ever gonna do. You won't put your NCEA pass certificate in a frame up on your office wall. And nobody cares if you cheated in high school, because it's not that important, really.

Cheating in Uni will get you a degree that more than 60% of the original first year entrants fail to get. Having this fake degree will enable you to take on jobs that you cannot do properly because you do not have the actual knowledge. Having this degree might get you paid ten grands a week that you do not deserve. Having this degree might put other people's lives in danger (think surgeon).

Cheating in Uni is easier than cheating in high school yet the stakes are incredibly higher. In my opinion, the first education funding cut we need to make is in the whole high school cheat prevention thing. Cheats in high school will do well at small jobs and fail in the first semester of University. There's no need for anything else.