Tagged: bbc

The Pursuit of Perfection

BBC has beaten me to the punch and ran this article,
Misery: the secret to happiness,
today about seeking perfection.

The key to a happy relationship could be accepting that some miserable times are unavoidable, experts say.

Therapists from California State University, Northridge
and Virginia Tech say accepting these problems is better than striving
for perfection.

I have been thinking about this topic for a while now and I wrote a half finished post during my flight back from Houston last month. So without further ado, here is my scattered thoughts on the topic:

Everywhere I look, people are obsessed with perfection and are spending extraordinary amount of time looking for it in their life. They look for the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife, the perfect car, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect life in essence. But are their effort worth the trouble?

Deep down, most of us know that perfect is very hard if not impossible to obtain. Engineers knew for many years that one can spend 20% of the time getting 80% of what you want, and then spent the rest of the 80% of the time getting the remaining 20%. In some cases, such as the space shuttle or nuclear power station, those extra time are well spent. But for the other less critical area of our lives, do we or more importantly, should we expand those extra time in pursuit of the remaining 20% to get perfection? Shouldn’t we be contented with the 80% of what we already have and spend the other time on getting things in our life that may make a bigger difference?

Take relationship as an example. Many people out there spend a lot of their time and energy in search of their ‘perfect’ partner. Does such person exist? Sure. With over 300 millions people in the US alone, there bounds to be someone who will be a perfect match with someone else just by statistic alone. And we are not talking about just someone finding a person perfect for them. We are talking about two people to be ‘perfect’ for each other!

So how long would it take someone to find the perfect partner? I have no idea, but common sense would dictate that the time it takes to find a ‘suitable’ partner is far shorter than to finding a ‘perfect’ one. Would finding the perfect partner offsets the stress of the search? Keep in mind that most people would fail in their search and resign to settle for a 'lesser' partner.

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Gentlemen – Let’s start your smear campaign!

I am surprised that it lasts as long as it did. So finally the personal attack started on Al Gore. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research accuses Al Gore of hypocrisy over energy usage at his mansion.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh)
per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured
nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

20 times the national average? OH MY GOD!

Hang on though, I believe his 20 rooms mansion is rather large and the national average home is a lot smaller than his. May be not 20 times smaller, but certainly not comparable.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than
twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses
in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s
average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

WOW this is getting worse!

Again, let's take the figures from this paragraph. 22619 X 12 = 271,428, which is comparable to the 221,000 kWh annual usage mentioned before.

This just shows how statistic can be phrased to make you think the figure is worst than it is. And remember, by definition 'Average' implies there are less and more in the whole data set, so picking up on the extremes are like claiming everyone is average. Life doesn't work this way.

The more important omission from their short report are:

  • How many people occupy and use this mansion? How does the energy consumption per person at Al Gore's mansion compares to the 'national average'?
  • How is Al Gore's mansion compares to other similarly sized, private properties?

And the question for all the people out there (critics and proponents): Even if Al Gore is a hypocrite, what have you done or been doing to reduce your carbon emission?

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Derailment

Yet another derailment in the U.K. It seems to happen with semi-regularity. Whatever the cause, this makes convincing the public to take mass transport even more difficult. Of course, the statistic on travelling by car is worse than by rail or by air but safety is never about science or fact. It is all about perception.

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Is it economic to be green?

After the Stern Review was released last week (more analysis here), BBC News message board is asking readers whether they are willing to pay green taxes. After reading a fair amount of the comments (~5 pages worth) I was dismayed that many BBC readers either think the review is just another British government way to tax the population, or climax changes are not scientifically proven, or worse still, admitted defeat because the small nation of Britain can't change the global climate so let's carry on as normal.

For the sceptics, why do they constantly asking for proofs? Does the IPCC reports proof enough? No. Do all the thousands of scientific papers on the subject enough? Apparently not either. I think it is because climate science (just like any science, really) is complex and the answers to any complex questions will inherently complex. But yet, most people are looking for the simple answer to ever more complex questions, in life or in anything.

As for those who don't want to pay the green taxes. They are the very same group of people that make me leave that country without regret. They want the best of both worlds, they want the cake and eat it. They complain about how bad the NHS is but yet don't want to pay the tax increase needed to modernize and reorganize the NHS. They just want their free health care. They complain about the state of the education system but yet do not want to pay tax that would raise teachers salaries or increase number of teachers. And with the green tax, apparently taxing the people who drive SUV/4×4 to deliver their kids to school is not right because their big car is 'essential' to their life.

Does having a conscious play no part in their decision making? Do we need the intervention of the Vatican church (or any religions for that matter) before the majority of the Earth's population will take notice? As much as I dislike religion as an organized movement, if that's what it will take to avert the upcoming climate crisis I am all for it.

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The Truth Hurts – Part II

So An Inconvenient Truth is opening this weekend in U.K. The only thing I'll write about this time is a quote from the BBC Online review:

"In 39 years, I have never written these words in a
movie review, but here they are: you owe it to yourself to see this
film," wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times.


"If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to."

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