The Matter Blog

Two Young New Zealander's Outlook on the World

One World: We need Balance

National Geographic is right – we need balance in the world. We keep going on about how much space we’re taking up, how we’ll run out – when everyone in the world would fit inside California.

There is however, a massive inequality between the amount of resources in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, it’s been an issue we’ve been tackling for a long time. Poverty has been caused and is continued by a lack of action and funding as well as the lack of sustainable solutions. There are many great organisations working to help, but perhaps it will take 7 billion actions to change a world of 7 billion people.

Check this out;

It’s clear, we must find ways to increase the balance.


Tech: Recreational Robotics

The development and advancement of robotic technologies – in this case for the purpose of leisure, are reaching interesting stages. We now have robots who can play musical instruments, respond to human touch, engage in games of soccer, and the good old slicing and dicing madness.

There are many different types of robo-pets that are being developed for leisure and recreational purposes. Quite a notable one, in my opinion, is the Pleo “dinosaur”. While lacking skin and other facial features, it has other factors that make it a very realistic pet. That is, if dinosaurs weren’t extinct. It has real feelings, and is
curious and conveys emotions.

It is particularly interesting because it responds to human’s interactions with it, and it learns over time. Certainly, it can lead the way to other exciting dimensions in creating realistic synthetic robotic pets.

Other types of robotic pets have also been developed, such as cats (including real skin but lacking curiosity). There are tonnes of jocular online videos about various robotic pets – including what happens when a real pet interacts with a robotic one. Interesting stuff.

There are also robots that can play the violin, and robots capable of theatre performances. While robots need extensive objective programming to achieve these feats, it certainly shows where robots for play can be developed in the future.

So – is it good or bad – or perhaps just interesting – that we now have the ability to interact with and treat robotic pets as if they were biological? Is it undermining living thing’s abilities to be pets and be loved?

The thing that’s for sure is that robots being developed for leisure are opening up a new dimension in recreation – but whether it’s right is a question still to be debated.

Pushing the Paradigm: Government

At the moment, we use the MMP system to elect representatives in Parliament. The problem is, they don’t always represent or do what New Zealander’s are wanting. And it can be considered to be a problem in many parts of the world.

So, I decided to come up with a slightly alternative model that really pushes the current paradigm. Personally, I think MMP itself, in terms of electing people to power works alright. Sure, there can be some changes made – but for the most part I find it OK.

In my opinion though, the problem often arises when there are controversial bills passed, or when the public don’t get enough say in key law changes that impact society across the spectrum. Other times, they don’t take action on items of importance that are being campaigned for by New Zealander’s.

As I said, it’s only my opinion based on brief observations. But I still think there is a better way. Why not have a national referendum vote on bills, and projects etc. that either cost above a certain variable threshold or have a high importance to New Zealander’s.

There are currently, of course, referendum abilities in place for some issues (such as MMP), but they should be extended to cover a larger range of issues. The use of billions of dollars to build national highways should be considered just as important for the public to decide on as things like the voting system.

While one could argue that this is more similar to direct democracy systems in place in nations such as Switzerland, it has nevertheless been hailed as a long-term success stories. Voters, the general public, get to be actively involved in decisions that actively impact on them and others in their cities and communities and gives people the power to support or veto law changes.

Another interesting concept I’ve been thinking about is party endorsement – splitting your party vote down into support for particular sector’s policies. It could be a fresh way to elect people into power.

Perhaps I’m just misguided – but surely we all want a government that reflects our wants, and makes decisions on our needs. Certainly innovative thinking can solve the economic problem of supply and demand – even in the context of civic affairs, and create an even better democracy that we’d all be proud of.

Hey, it’s just an idea, but seriously – what is the best way for our government to run in this day and age?

Further Reading: [ Switzerland’s System of Direct Democracy]

Changing World: A Heartbreaking Ignorance

I admit, politics isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. But that shouldn’t stop young people voting – because having a say in where New Zealand goes in terms of government is important. After all, parliament – whoever is in power, makes a lot of decisions that concerns everyone.

The problem is, a lot of young people aren’t voting and putting their voice out their for issues that often directly impact their own communities, or for decisions that decisively impact New Zealand society. According to the Electoral Commission’s latest statistics, over 100000 young people aged 18 to 24 weren’t enrolled to vote.

Personally, I can simultaneously see why this is happening, and how its completely unacceptable. There are several reasons that could be used to explain why many young people don’t vote – while it could also be said that not electing to have a say in how the society you live in is run is completely unacceptable. I’d put it down to a general culture of apathy – but then again, there are several reasons for that being the case – such as low exposure and awareness of what’s actually going on. Then again, I’m not an expert on the matter – but the latest NZ Herald Broadsides article compares two young politicians views, and they all say the same thing;

I remember when I was campaigning in London, hearing from quite a few eligible Kiwi voters that they weren’t planning on having their say because “they didn’t know enough.” They may have been talking about current events, but I have heard the same thing from young voters here. We can, and should, do more to ensure that young people feel totally equipped to use the right and the privilege they have to vote. Our education system is the best place for that to happen and for years Labour has advocated strengthening our civics education; something we still have entrenched in our youth policy.

There’s no denying that we could be doing a lot to improve young people’s engagement in politics, but with little over two weeks till a general election, we have little time to spare. Voting is a right that we can ill afford to have anyone ignore, but with this years election so obviously about the direction the country will take for the next 30 years, my plea goes especially to young people. Please be heard.

Jacinda Ardern, NZH Broadsides

And whatever you think, it’s a sort of sorry ignorance. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, I think anyway.

One World: Intrinsic Culture

Culture is just one of those things that we might think we know a lot about, but isn’t tangible enough that we can actually get a hold of it and gut it like a fish. No, culture is one of those elusive societal elements that form an integral part of the very fabric of society. But, is it important – does it even matter at all? Most of all, why should anyone give a damn?

There really isn’t a simple answer, but if you analyse it – the importance of culture becomes apparent.

This is Google’s definition of culture – although it still doesn’t shed much light on a very complex but vital part of our society. The way I see culture is something that is everywhere, in homes, on the streets, in the bustling city centres of the world’s great cities, in the diverse cultural destinations of Asia and Europe and many more places. It is, at least in my opinion, the way people collectively see the world – and then act. But then again, this is a very concrete definition, which is an unfair match for an abstract noun.

To use an example, you can learn about the culture of say, China, on the web – but to really experience it, get amongst it, you have to go to the real thing- or at least an authentic Chinese restruant or Chinatown for a sample. This is because culture, really, is a living thing. It is the way people behave towards the world, it is the spirit of a community, the opinions of a land.

Culture is an intrinsic part of society because it lives and breathes everywhere – and its important because it enriches global society through many manifestations. Festivals such as Diwali, Chinese New Year and others are people’s cultures enriching other’s, and being shared. Positive cafe culture creates friendly, casual meet-ups between friends, relatives, business partners and acquantences.

Culture is about identity, attitude, enrichment, background and more.

Unfortunately, there’s a negative side too. Say for example there is a drinking culture, or a culture of undermining other’s opinions – that’s not good. The multiplication of the effect by culture’s contagious nature makes it worse – but it can be made better.

Culture is undoubtably an intrinsic part of global society, and fostering the right culture makes the world all the richer. You may not give two hoots – but you’ll have to face the fact it is everywhere like it or not. Then again, what’s your opinion on culture?

Tech: Ten Second App Pitch – Wonderpage

I’ve looked for a great bookmarks homepage many times – and I must say that Wonderpage is probably the best there is. With a wonderful yet functional aesthetic that provides a kingdom for your bookmarks – it’s a great free tool that could become indispensable.


Watching Brief: Rena Update

At the moment, salvage teams are back onboard the vessel but are racing against time before more bad weather starts on Friday, more charges are being laid against the Master and Second Officer, and although no damage has been recorded in the last few days – the situation is still looking dire. More bad weather could cause it to finally break up, and really it’s most likely a case of just mitigating the effects of the aforementioned event. Things could pan out differently – but one thing is for sure, it’s already done quite a bit of damage, and there could be more coming. Let’s hope that should the unthinkable happen, that there won’t be another disaster along the beaches.

One World: 7 Billion Strong

This is the introduction to the One World segment.

The UN has just announced, a few days ago in fact, that the earth is now home to  over 7 billion inhabitants.

This is both a daunting prospect, yet also an incredibly exciting one. It is true that almost half the world live on less than $2.50 a day, and that parts of the world is in economic despair. But there are so many more people to help solve the issues solving our Changing World, and we if we work together – we truly have the resilience and innovation to create a world for better humanity.

Because while some countries are desperately lacking food, others have a comparatively abundant supply. Children and citizens in some countries are uneducated, but with supplies and teachers from other parts of the world, they can learn. Everything is possible in its essence, it’s a case of working together. Perhaps its impractical, or maybe it is too socialistic – but one thing is for sure. We live in the most intellectually stimulating period in world history, we all have the ability to change the world – and we can turn this scary prospect of 7 billion inhabitants into an incredible opportunity.

We can think we can’t do anything. We can say nothing will change. But if you do something, change will happen – and no-one can stop the crusade for the future.

One World. The Changing World. Our World. Stay tuned…

Thoughts & Reflections: Lessons from the Snow

I went to Snowplanet – the indoor snowdome in North Auckland, again yesterday; and obviously it was great fun.

An interesting observation though is how much people manage to co-exist through a maze of accidents, slope mishaps and other miscellany. Perhaps, the more interesting one is actually seeing how people slowly build up their confidence level – and don’t give up when they do something like fall over. It may seem so simple, but it is a vital skill to be able to get up again when something goes wrong, then increasing your challenge level one step at a time.

I myself was slowly working up my altitude, and the higher you go – the more fun it gets for you reach a much higher terminal velocity. If we remember the principle, it can help us in our own lives – and imagine if everyone incorporated the “pearls of wisdom” in their lives?

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