3 parties in a week, and all for 40

40th Birthday

My parents asked me what I want to do for my birthday late last year. They were thinking I could do a big party in Bristol. But I suggested why not have three of them instead?

Each party/bash representing a section of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (28-40)

40 years of opioninated conversation and living life to the maximum

Of course my parents thought it was too much, but I was certain it was a good idea and I could do it.

Happy to say I was right. I had planned to put in sometime at the theme parks of England (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Blackpool) but due to half-term decided I’d better not because I would end up in queues (Love the European theme parks for this). Plus I decided I could fit everything around work (or work around everything). I won’t lie, I would have been absolutely exhausted if I did!

Manchester party

So it happened and I was blown away by the friends and family who attended but also helped make the whole thing happen. Couldn’t have done it all without them! Thanks to everyone who came, gave their time, cards (I got so many cards I had to shift them around the flat) and even gifts. Also thanks for all the people who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it for different reasons.

Thank you to everyone again! 40 started with a bang, look out for 50 – ha!

On turning 40…

40 years of opinionated conversation and living life to the maximum

Soon I will turn 40. Most people fear or can’t imagine ever getting to 40 but I’m much less worried about that. I kind of feel young and although there are noticeable changes like grey hair in my facial hair, creaky knees and a noticeable lack of excess energy.

Regardless I’m still playing Volleyball regularly and trying a few other things including trying Basketball again (that was hard work!). My eye sight is incredible and off the charts for my age, I have been told.

Its funny how the things you do when you are young persist into older age. For example I can still be found with my diabolo on warm days or during the Manchester firejam. Still riding my skateboard when going short distances and considered getting rollerblades again. Convinced this is the future of transport and feel lucky to learned this when young.

My routine is still organised chaos but…  I like it that way and to be fair an ordinary life doesn’t interest me but its tricky as unconventional life isn’t always easy. Especially with a partner, but we manage by sharing calendars.

The only strange thing for me is being at the BBC for coming up to 15 years! I joined just after my birthday. I still feel quite young even with all the younger people I work with.

The 40th is usually a big one and as usual I decided to do something different for it. I decided to do 3 party’s, each one representing the three different cities/eras of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (29-40)

I had planned to fit theme park trips to Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Blackpool pleasure beach too. But frankly it was too much and with the Easter holidays it meant the parks would likely be packed with kids also trying to get on the rides.

Without a doubt, 40 is going to be fun!

What is it with the school girls and business men of Japan?

I went to the maid cafe

Another touchy subject following my unclear thoughts on Japanese culture.

I once had a Japanese lady who was my flat mate in London. She was lovely and we talked about me going to Japan one day (how ironic now, I’m actually here). We also talked about many things including Japanese men and women. I picked up through anime a lot of very questionable things around the traditional school girls (and when I say school girls, I literally mean under 18s!)

I always felt very uncomfortable about the whole thing, so I asked her whats the deal? Now I don’t really remember but yesterday when I met up with Alexandra who recently moved out here, she also thought it was a bit creepy and weird. But she also told me something which shocked me at first. The legal age of consent is 14 in Japan and 13 in Tokyo!

This deeply troubled me and while walking around Akihabara earlier in the week I was always wondering why there were girls on the streets handing out flyers? So I googled it… found some very interesting bits including tourist trap akihabara.

Maid cafes? They’re the biggest scam in Japan. The most dispirited girls will line the streets in their costumes and when they’re not looking at their phones, they’ll try and get you into one of their cafes that I guarantee you are run by Yakuza. Inside you’ll find drinks and food prices 5x more than what they’re worth and scenes that will make you weep for manhood

So of course I had to check it out to see what it was about (while in Tokyo and all that). I did and all I can really say its cutie overload! The only reason I stayed to the end, was because the guy next to me TAHK0 (pkmn trainer garrett) was a interesting guy. From Wyoming and LA and going on a tour of all the places on the Pokemon map.

In the cafe photos and video recording is banned, so I can’t show you how it looks but I had cocktail and some sausages. I also had my photo taken with a girl who looked like 16… There were things which you had to do like sing with them to activate food and drinks. They danced and generally walked around collecting orders and delivering drinks. I would say it was like Hooters (not that I have been in one) but the girls are fully dressed and being cute all the time. I would say the ages seemed to be about 16-19, but they might be a bit older. There was a western woman there who had the same look I had on my face really.

So once I finally got out of the crazy cute land of the maidcafe, I looked into the age thing again still feeling weird about everything. Wikipedia make me think…

The Japanese Penal Code sets a minimal age of consent of 13. However, all prefectures and districts have (largely similar) “obscenity ordinances” (淫行条例) that forbid “fornication” (淫行) with anyone under 18 years of age, but exempt sex in the context of a sincere romantic relationship (typically determined by parental approval)

Ah so I think the age of consent is low but for teenagers having sex with each other, not so sleazy business men can take advantage of young women!  This confirmed my thoughts and got me thinking… I have always been in favour of clearing up this myth that kids don’t have sex. We all know they do and open sex education is the important thing here. I had jumped to the conclusion that it was too low…

So low compared to where? Look at many of the European countries and you find similar ages: Austria, Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Estonia, Hungary and Italy it is 14; France, Czech, Greece, Denmark it’s 15, many others it’s 16, and Spain is at 13.

I don’t think this excuses the fact some business men see these girls in a highly sexual way but it explains a little more. Still freaks me however.

I went to the maid cafe

The Conceptual Age?

Revenge of the Right Brain

I started reading the wired magazine article titled Revenge of the Right Brain and it all made quite a bit of sense. I'm not so sure about the division of Left and Right brain, its all subjective in my mind but the fact is the examples Daniel gives are pretty crediable. I will quote the Asia example.

Few issues today spark more controversy than outsourcing. Those squadrons of white-collar workers in India, the Philippines, and China are scaring the bejesus out of software jockeys across North America and Europe. According to Forrester Research, 1 in 9 jobs in the US information technology industry will move overseas by 2010. And it's not just tech work. Visit India's office parks and you'll see chartered accountants preparing American tax returns, lawyers researching American lawsuits, and radiologists reading CAT scans for US hospitals.

The reality behind the alarm is this: Outsourcing to Asia is overhyped in the short term, but underhyped in the long term. We're not all going to lose our jobs tomorrow. (The total number of jobs lost to offshoring so far represents less than 1 percent of the US labor force.) But as the cost of communicating with the other side of the globe falls essentially to zero, as India becomes (by 2010) the country with the most English speakers in the world, and as developing nations continue to mint millions of extremely capable knowledge workers, the professional lives of people in the West will change dramatically. If number crunching, chart reading, and code writing can be done for a lot less overseas and delivered to clients instantly via fiber-optic cable, that's where the work will go.

But these gusts of comparative advantage are blowing away only certain kinds of white-collar jobs – those that can be reduced to a set of rules, routines, and instructions. That's why narrow left-brain work such as basic computer coding, accounting, legal research, and financial analysis is migrating across the oceans. But that's also why plenty of opportunities remain for people and companies doing less routine work – programmers who can design entire systems, accountants who serve as life planners, and bankers expert less in the intricacies of Excel than in the art of the deal. Now that foreigners can do left-brain work cheaper, we in the US must do right-brain work better.

Last century, machines proved they could replace human muscle. This century, technologies are proving they can outperform human left brains – they can execute sequential, reductive, computational work better, faster, and more accurately than even those with the highest IQs. (Just ask chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.)

And while reading the article I started thinking about a conversation I had the other day with a Imperial software engineering student and Stefan Magdalinski who wrote http://theyworkforyou.com (which I love and use everyday to see what my MP is up to). Anyhow this student was talking about the fact that he optimised some code to use the smallest amount of memory needed for the application he was building. Stefan kept interupting and pointing out that he was unemployable. The only place where such skills are important is on the SIM card of phones. Everything else has tons of memory, hard drive space and processing power. So why bother? The details are not important anymore as such. I added a section of talk around web2.0, webservices and how open API's allow you to delegate processing to 3rd parties. Why build a TV listings system when you could use someone elses? By the way the event I was actually at Openknowledge forum was great. It also illustrates the fact that we are moving from a information age to a conceptual age. On the Tube home the guys behind Public Whip and Stefan talked about the fact all the information was now available to them and the public its where we go from here. From information to conceptual? Maybe? Back to the article for another quote.

Even computer programmers may feel the pinch. “In the old days,” legendary computer scientist Vernor Vinge has said, “anybody with even routine skills could get a job as a programmer. That isn't true anymore. The routine functions are increasingly being turned over to machines.” The result: As the scut work gets offloaded, engineers will have to master different aptitudes, relying more on creativity than competence.

Any job that can be reduced to a set of rules is at risk. If a $500-a-month accountant in India doesn't swipe your accounting job, TurboTax will. Now that computers can emulate left-hemisphere skills, we'll have to rely ever more on our right hemispheres.

And in the change over – comes people like me. My background is from design not programming but tools like xml, webservices, etc make creating applications for the web a conceptual challenge rather than a programatic one. If I want to add internal search to my site I would just download Lucene and the rest would be just details which I could pay someone else to do or work it out over time with the huge resource of the web at hand. Anyhow Daniel leaves the article with good reminder of the main points.

Want to get ahead today? Forget what your parents told you. Instead, do something foreigners can't do cheaper. Something computers can't do faster. And something that fills one of the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age. In other words, go right, young man and woman, go right.

Ok I spoke to Miles today on IM and actually he makes some very good points about the outlook and underline issues of this article. I had to share it with everyone as it makes you think about the article in a different way.

[17:12:02] miles> I see you're posting that racist left/right brain crap on your blog
[17:12:37] myself> well i dont really believe it myself which i thought I'd made clear, but maybe not. but you know your going to have to explain now
[17:14:29] miles> You seemed ambivalent about the biology (which is just wrong – left/right brain is a biological fact), but offered no comment on the suggestion that asians could only do left-brain logical work, whilst creative work was still the province of the white man. As we see creativity as having higher value than logical work, this is tantamount to a racist statement, it seems to me
[17:15:17] myself> not really thought about it that way, but yes i do see what you mean now
[17:19:00] miles> Seems like the worst kind of racism – like social darwinism. The left/right is to do with the way the brain is organised physically. This has lead to a load of NLP-style babble about how some people are more left or right brained (little proof of this, though some evidence there is a gender split), from this, people have jumped to left or right brained cultures (no evidence of this at all), and it is frequently suggested that asian cultures are left-brained. That's why there's no such thing as Indian, Chinese or Japanese art. Which means I didn't visit the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco, because it can't possibly exist.
[17:22:12] miles> Most of the left/right culture thinking comes from a failure to appreciate economics. I think
[17:22:28] myself> how do you mean?
[17:23:12] miles> It is relatively easy for western companies to sell into developing markets in Asia because western goods are seen as desirable simply because they come from the west – asian consumers like the cachet value of them. On the other hand, outside of niche handicrafts products or henna or what have you, western consumers tend to view asian products with suspicion, except for established brands like Sony or Toyota
[17:24:34] miles> Who would buy an Indra Enterprises MP3 player?
[17:24:42] myself> no one, in the west at least
[17:25:45] miles> When Asian businesses research the western market and produce products that the west wants to buy, they are accused of being un-innovative, because they ape already successful western products (eg Toyata didn't invent the SUV, American car companies did, but Toyota built a better SUV, and now dominate the market)
[17:26:13] myself> now thats very true
[17:27:35] miles> In fact, Asian businesses are not being un-innovative, they are simply doing market research – identifying what sells, and making it better and cheaper. This has nothing to do with innovation, it's to do with business. It's like claiming Chinese instructions on a western-made product for sale in China are not innovative because the Chinese already invented Chinese
[17:28:08] myself> /images/emoticons/happy.gif
[17:29:10] miles> Asian businesses need to take this strategy because they are at a disadvantage in western markets – only as they grow, and increase their capitalisation, and develop their overseas offices will they have the awareness of western markets to be able to set trends.
[17:29:37] miles> So, for example, Sony is now able to be a global trend-setter because of its size and reach
[17:30:01] myself> true
[17:31:03] miles> Indra Enterprises is going to have to follow trends – or hire western product designers – for some time. It might well not choose to do the latter, because of the high cash risk of launching a product in a developed market – the advertising budget needed might be actually more than Indra Enterprises's.

And in short, Miles is right. I need to say I'm never a believer of the classification of humans and personality types. I believe there are enough conridictions to make the whole classification useless. However, there is this underline theme that western markets will be right brain thinkers and the eastern markets are left. And I'm sorry but yes that sounds like racism to me too. I'm sure Daniel isnt a racist (sure Miles thinks the same) but this division is fundimentally wrong.
I remember in the 1800's that it was widely accepted that different people see colours differently. So a bunch of Camridge prof's went to islands near Australia headed by William Rivers to prove that Blacks could see more colours than Europeans which at the time would mean they had the same colour depth as animals, which of course would prove to the racist of the time that there was a difference between Blacks and Whites. So anyhow William Rivers done many colour tests on the natives of the islands and came to the conclusion that actually most people see things in mostly the same way. And then to his credit, he started many movements when he came back to england to tell the world of his findings. Even thought european colour theory at the time was proven wrong.

Is the left brain right brain theorys any different from european colour theory from the 1800's?

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