30 July 2006

Goodbye Human Race

Going back to when i was writing about Euthanasia, I came across this quite interesting group, Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. It seems they are all for us dying out as a species on earth. Although it's not quite as simple as that, as the leader of the movement, Les Knight, admits;

"It's not too likely that the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is going to succeed. I don't think any of us are so naïve as to think that 6.5 billion people are going to say, 'Yeah, let's stop breeding, this is great.' But it's still the right thing to do."

There are a number of very good points made about the ideas of the movement in this article. The group recognises two levels of support:

Volunteers - those who believe in the goal of human extinction.
Supporters - those who believe that the population of the earth should be greatly reduced, but that the human race should not become extinct

Both groups have taken the commitment to have no kids (or no more if they already have kids) to further their goals. I have to say I quite like the idea of the supporters, that the global population should be reduced, although i couldn't guarantee that I won't ever have kids. They also disagree with China's one child policy, as one child is too many (not to mention the coercive methods of the dodgy government, better be careful or my websites going to be banned in China soon).

28 July 2006

Air-con con

Air-con is one thing that I'm not a fan of (pun absolutely not meant). Yes, it may be nice to be able to cool down on that hot summers day, but it's a huge drain on energy. I know that anyone who lives in a 'hot' place will say it's an necessity to be able to live there, but I've only two things to say to them:

What did people who lived there before air-con became available do?
Why live there if you can't stand the heat?

I believe if it's too hot for humans to live in a certain place, then we shouldn't really be making our homes there. Nature might be trying to tell us something; either it's not for you, or global warming is making this happen, do something about it (hint, more air-con isn't the solution).

As regards a huge drain on energy, I think that in places such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore or New York (high density cities), it creates a vicious circle. By pushing the warm air out of buildings to create a cooler interior, you are therefore creating a larger difference between the temperature inside and out, making the air-con work harder, and the outside temperature warmer.
Here, it seems Tokyo has come up with a novel idea to tackle the problem (slightly).

OK, obviously air-con does have it's advantages. I do believe that it increases worker productivity, as i find it easier to get work done in the mornings at the minute rather than afternoon, and no wonder the people of mediteraanean Europe are famous for their 2-4 hour siestas. It would be quite difficult to work in that heat. But we still need to find ways of off-setting the fact that it still isn't good for our environment.

But the one thing that really gets me annoyed is over usage of air-con. A mate in Australia tells me of how he wears shorts and t-shirt to work, but brings a jumper with him as it gets a bit too cold in the office. Much worse though is a friend in Toronto who tells me she actually has to switch on the heater at work as the office is much too cold as the air-con is on. Talk about screwed up. It gives me the feeling the person in control of building conditioning is getting kick-backs from energy companies (he probably turns up the heat too high in the winter so that they have to switch on the air-con).

20 July 2006

The Right To Die

Ok, I want to get stuck into a controversial topic I touched on in my last post, Euthanasia. Quite simply I think it should be made legal everywhere. Obviously there are certain problems with the idea, for example someone could be coerced into it against their real wishes (by some unscrupulous family member after the inheritance a bit sooner). But if a person can be proved to be a decisionally-competent adult, then the process should be rather simple.

As usual a big part of the argument is from the religious right, who believe that only God should choose when someone dies, but how can anyone put that argument forward when it can't even be proved that God really exists. It should be the decision of the individual. And as usual the religious right has too much weight on this issue; 75% of Americans support some form of euthanasia, but still it is something that is rarely seen on a ballot (the one time it did, in 1994 in Oregon, it passed).

My boss has (I mean had) a friend who had to go to Switzerland to euthanise (is it a verb?) himself. That was a bit inconvenient for him, and also for his family to organise getting his body back to bury him. But what it did give him, was a proper chance to say goodbye to everyone.

Euthanasia is certainly an option I'd entertain. If I end up in a situation where the pain is insufferable, and no solution is available (or likely to come onto the market quite quickly), then I would choose it. If the other option is to suffer day after day, knowing that no matter what, it is never going to get better, the choice seems quite easy. I also think if I was in this position it would be a huge strain on my family, and that it would be a weight of their shoulders. I wouldn't want to be a burden on anyone.

Dude, Where's My Pension?

Will there even be such a thing as a state pension when we (by that I mean 20-somethings) retire? Surely if people are worried about all the baby boomer's retiring now, it's only going to get worse in the future, as the birth rates in western countries are dropping like a stone (see here for the only reason that Germans seem to have kids, for example).

Who's going to be paying into the system when I retire, and who's going to be doing all the work? I still don't think machines and robots will have solved all our problems by then. Plus, loads of those 'baby boomers' will still be living, as the average lifespan increases, and they'll be increasingly expensive to look after (alternatively, they could choose a bit of euthanasia to ease the burden). We're going to need loads of immigrants to solve these problems. But the issue of immigration already raised problems of its own, if they're not properly integrated into their new country.

17 July 2006

Old People Aren't Useless

When the idea of a pension was first put into action (in the UK) in 1925, retirement age for men was 65, and women 60. Now, 80 years later, the retirement age for men is 65 and for women, 60 (although that is due to rise to 65 by 2020). General life expectancy since then has increased by about 15 years. Today's 65-year-olds are no longer worn out after a life of manual toil. They are in good health and there are plenty of physically undemanding jobs for them to do.

So why are they retiring? Obviously if i was in the situation where I could retire and live comfortably, I'd take it. But surely the age for retirement should be raised. I know that in the UK it will be
raised to 68 by 2044, but is that enough?

I done a little on-line test to calculate my life expectancy, and it looks like I should live 'til 87, which will give me 19 years to enjoy my retirement (although it could be longer with medical advances).

I think the retirement should be raised to 68 now, and move it gradually up as life expectancy increases. There is so much grey matter out there retiring well before they should. I worked with guy until last year, who retired at 58. He was still pretty fit and what I would consider as asset to his company, but for some reason they where perfectly happy to offer him early retirement.

Maybe it's a German problem, as people here tend to earn relative to their age, and not how useful they are, so companies maybe want to get them off the wage bill. Surely the wage graph of an average employee should be like a smooth curve, with it rising from the start until it peaks at around 50 (see graph), and then gradually declining until they leave the workforce. Here it just rises. I have a plan to go and work somewhere else in the world for the next 2-3 decades, and come back to Germany (or France, but i don't speak the lingo) for my last 10 years to take advantage of this practice (unless I'm loaded that is).

12 July 2006

But It's Football That Suffers

As a quick follow up to the Italian football scandal. The other major problem for me about it is the fact that it is the sport that ultimately suffers. Who could blame any italian football fan if they forfeited their love of the sport after another huge scandal. How would you feel about following something you where deeply passionate about, only to find out that it is all just one big scam.

It's like when a kid finds out that the WWF (WWE now according to a well-informed mate) is actually just a soap opera, much like EastEnders or Dallas.

If you are a Juventus fan, can you really feel proud of your last two Scudetto's (Italian Championships, if they get to keep them that is). And what about all the other fans of the other teams, now wondering if their titles have been won fair and square in the past, only safe in the knowledge that their chairman was able to keep anything under wraps.

And the people who should feel most gutted of all. The fans of teams who have been relegated by relatively slim margins. What if a crocked ref had given a dodgy penalty to one of the teams implicated in the scandal in the last year or two, and that penalty had caused you to drop points in a game, and as a result your team has been relegated. It would put you off football for life.

As for me, it's definitely dampened my appetite for the "beautiful game". Hopefully that'll free some time up for me to get on with something useful in my life. Scandals can have a positive side.

06 July 2006

White Collar Crime, Do No Time

The recent Italien football scandal has once again highlighted the inadequacies of the rule of law to deal with white collar crime. It seems that once again only the plebs are going to be the ones who suffer.

In this case it is the fans of Juventus and the other three clubs involved who will really be punished. While the big knobs at the top have committed the crimes, it seems that all they have to do is resign to be absolved of any wrong-doing, while the fans will have to watch their team play in lower quality leagues. The players should be ok, either they stick it out for a season or two, while still earning a fortune, or they can choose to go to another club.

It's the humble fan who is loyal to his club who is really being punished. The directors need to brought to justice properly, preferably with a nice stretch behind bars to make them realise that they just can't do what they want to achieve success, it has to be earned.

01 July 2006

Once again England crash out of the world cup in a penalty shoot-out against Portugal. Even though I was supporting Portugal, no matter who gets beat in a penalty shoot-out, even if it is England, I still feel some sympathy for them. It has to be the most cruel way, in all sports, to be knocked out of a competition. (England have won only one of six penalty shoot-outs that they have taken part in, Germany have lost only one of the five penalty shoot-outs they've been involved in, maybe the English could learn something from their German counterparts.)

Anyway, a new way has to be introduced to decide drawn games. Shoot-outs are too much of a lottery. I've been thinking about this quite a lot, and the following is my proposal. A goalie and two players from one side, Team A, should come up against three players from the other side, Team B. The 3 players from Team B are given the ball at the centre circle, and the 3 players from A are in the box of the goal they are defending. Team B then have 30 seconds in which to try and score a goal. If the ball is kicked into touch by either side, then the chance is finished. We then play out the same scenario at the other end, but with A attacking B. When one team scores and other team doesn't, then they are declared as winners. The system from shoot-outs, whereby both teams have 5 chances, could be implemented also.

This way the players can be more creative in trying to score goals, instead of simply hitting the ball from 12 yards and hoping. After some experimenting, the system could be altered to include extra attacking players if necessary. With any luck penalty shoot-out would then be a thing of the past.