Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Science vs God, redux.

Looks like the tiresome debate is still rearing its ugly head in the US. Dawkins has weighed in with a piece. I'm always amazed at the fact that this is still going on. Maybe it's because I live in a secular country, but i thought this battle was won hundreds of years ago. Ho hum.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Inspirational Lectures.

I'm working my way through the 2005 Reith Lectures, which are on the Triumph Of Technology by Lord Broers. It's a good series with some thought provoking ideas in places, and as ever, with good speakers, a healthy amount of history and examples. The lectures were available as an mp3 download for a few days after each one, but now are only available for streaming -- BBC please let me buy this content, preferably on DVD/mpeg/mov (not sure if this was filmed), but I'll also pay for a full set of mp3's (I only got 3 in time).

Listening to these, reminded me of a lecture by James Dyson, for (another BBC show) the Dimbleby lecture. I caught part of it when it was broadcast, and was disappointed to not have taped it or at least seen the whole thing. I looked out the transcript and read the full content. It's a great piece; he's a good speaker; I agree with pretty much all of it. I never did understand how a service economy was sustainable (especially with finite natural resources). It's a parasite on another company, but by definition can only feed on the scraps allowed it.

Both of these should be shown on TV regularly until we, as a nation / economy, start getting some momentum back again. I'm currently not working, but am working on ideas for starting my own firm. I really want to build a company, products etc. It's only partly about making money - I can make enough working for other people; it's largely about going forth under my own steam and proving I can do it. My book-shelves are still expanding these days, but more and more it's not technical or travel books but management and organisational topics that dominate. Now, I'm not looking for a magic bullet in them, but just to learn from various experiences and styles.

I've spoken to loads of friends about starting a firm, and most are very supportive, but also, most wouldn't consider it themselves. They're looking for the notional extra security of working for an existing firm; it's not that I'm any better qualified or experienced. It's partly this culture that we need to change; like, for example, mortgage relief for entrepreneurs -- this would relieve the major financial burden on most people, and allow a great deal more startups to flourish with reduced risk. The relief could be for a fixed period, say, two years to allow the business to get going. Alternatively, double tax relief for pensions for those running companies, thereby giving a safety net to those striking out. Yet another idea would be to pay different levels of income and/or corporation tax if working in a new or small company.

These types of issues were completely ignored in the recent election (as were the environment, pensions, the euro/europe etc). Why? Is it because most politicians are lawyers, not business people? They've done ok in a service industry, therefore it must be good for the country. Dunno, but things still need to change, the doom forcast by Dyson is coming, ready or not. It's fine to give 3rd world debt relief (and I do support that), but we also need to support ourselves so that as the developing economies grow, we can still prosper on the world stage.

Ok, glad I got that over with, I start the post to just link to the Dyson and Reith lectures, and seem to have gotten carried away.. ho hum.

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