Wednesday, October 18, 2006

High school graduates all stupid.

A large chunk of what I learned in high school is no longer stored in my memory banks 12 years down the track. There were some things of specific interest to me that I retained, but most of the maths equations and chemical formulas have long since gone by the way of the dodo. Even the subjects I enjoyed had limited impact on me. I doubt I could name every internal feature of an animal cell or list the geological eras in chronological order. I can’t tell you the exact dates of Dadaism or quote any poems in full.

I put my inability to recall most of what I learned in school down to the fact that it hasn’t proven particularly useful throughout the course of my life. In fact, I’m sort of finding out that most of the knowledge I really need in life I was never taught at all.

I am currently feeling like a complete dope because I’m facing aspects of life I know nothing about, like buying a house and entering a 30-year mortgage.

I tried researching online a little, but the jargon got me down. Offset this and standard variable that. I ended up signing up to be contacted by a financial adviser for some free, no-obligation information. He called me pretty promptly and explained some terminology to me, but I was just glad he couldn’t see my face and is unlikely to ever meet me, because I feel a tad stupid.

My friends recently bought a house and I asked them “How did you do it?” When you’re a little kiddy it never crosses your mind that something like living in your own house could prove the most mind-warping experience ever. I wish I studied at least one subject in economics at university. I feel like all those people who studied economics have a distinct advantage over me.

I don’t really understand what school is all about. Yes, they teach you the basic of adding, how to use a pencil or hold a paint brush, some fundamentals about the layout of the world and a few other things that make good foundations for life, but all that stuff comes from Primary school. What are they teaching us in High school?

The things I wish I learned that I never did include LOTS to do with investing and smart ways to spend money (to avoid being the guy who won $10 million in the lottery and has blown it all in 8 years on incredibly bad advice), how to win friends and influence people (there’s a book, but it’s sexist, racist and horribly out-dated), ways to live without harming animals and the environment, how to cook (not just pizza, but how to use ingredients creatively), how to publish a book, how to design my own clothes, make patterns and sew, how world events and history has influenced local and global economies (to avoid future investment disasters), etc etc etc.

I’m sorry, Ms Maths Teacher, but I never did find a use for the trigonometric sine function of 3dx on 2dy to the inverse power of negative 9. Why didn’t you just teach me how to buy a house?

Friday, October 06, 2006

80,000 Americans killed

The big tsunami. You know which one. Donations poured in from around the world. India asked the world to stop sending money, they had too much, they could afford their own rebuilding, and yet still the money poured in. Where did it go? To the big tourist areas, those places we’ve been, or at the very least heard of.

A year ago an earthquake struck Kashmir and 80,000 people died. Have a look at that number in words, perhaps it will have more of an impact. EIGHTY THOUSAND. No, even spelt out in capitals it still fails to strike. Why?

Where’s Kashmir?

Kashmir is a disputed part of the Indian / Pakistan border territory lying in the Himalayan mountain range. Apparently an area of great beauty at the best of times, it has become a living hell for the nearly 2 million, TWO MILLION, people left homeless after that savage earthquake destroyed countless lives and homes.

Why care?

Can you even imagine what the impact would be on everyone you knew and life as you knew it if 80,000 people in your state were killed? Can you??

I read about this in recent news articles hidden in the back-pages of the world wide web and I feel sick and sad at once. We, and I use the term inclusive of myself, have forsaken these people, offered them little (if anything) in support or aid and left them to fend for themselves against the most inconceivable of odds.

They are about to face their second winter in makeshift tents. They had little to begin with but their supplies dwindle daily, their tents are leaking and winter in the Himalayas approaches fast. How can these amazing people have survived? I don’t know, you and I would probably curl up into a little ball and perish in a week, but now they’re facing winter and they must be asking themselves “how can we make it?”

I don’t know how much they need. I can’t really fathom 2 million people struggling for survival. I’ve never seen (or even heard) anything like it. It’s such a phenomenal number that it’s hard to accept it’s even real, but it is. This is reality for so many people.

What can I give and who can I give it to?

Please consider donating anything you can to Oxfam, a global charity supported by world governments and aid organisations. Oxfam – Donate now and help thousands of people much less fortunate than yourself.

Did I say 80,000 Americans killed? Wooops, but since you're here, you might as well care!!!

Related: One Year Later, Pakistan's Earthquake Survivors Still Lack Proper Shelter