Friday, March 16, 2012

Sharing updates and links

I’ve had a bunch of things accumulating to do and share, so I’ll slip through it in one go, then back to something more thoughtful.

The photos are from a brief pitch-trip to Guernsey this week, unfortunately foggy and wet, although we did get some good investment interest.

If you are expatriate, the annual HSBC Expat Survey is worth a reading, if only to tally how your experiences align with those of other expats.  They’ve redone the data access so that it’s easier to assess and compare expat life in different locations.

I follow a variety of blogs written by fellow expats, collected into a single public feed summary on NetVibes. The list is not prioritized or ranked, Expats are down the right and center, more general business and news blogs are down the left and center.  If I missed you, I don’t know about you: please let me know?

Similarly, I listen to a lot of podcasts (some more faithfully than others), and have collected them onto another NetVibe.  If you want to load your .mp3 player with some ideas and essays, something here is good to start with.

And I will get my personal feeds organized into a third NetVibe, but it’s a work in progress (why can’t anything be simple with Facebook?).

Several weeks ago, I commented that I never wanted to end up as the old expat sitting alone at the end of the bar, the one who has been around for ages but nobody seems to know who he is or why he’s here.  This archetype showed up in The 6 Characters You’ll Meet at Every Expat Bar: enjoyable, and I know I’ve run into most of them.

A related article, Things I wish I Knew as a New Expat, also rings true.  I would only disagree with number 6: Dual Citizenship is filled with personal and professional hazards, and permenant residency may be much more practical.  And there is a serious move afoot in the Dutch government to restrict dual passport holders as well which bears watching.

Last month, Netherlands television aired 24 Hours: Between Life and Death, a reality show filmed in an A&E department.  It was justifiably criticized and cancelled.   An op-ed in the Volkskrant  suggested three reasons that this might have seemed acceptable:

  1. A general decline in what constitutes acceptable public standards, driven downwards by the pulp press and tolerance for GeenStijl (broadly, public acts that lack style or manners).
  2. The rapid trend towards commercialization of civil society, where public institutions become brands that can be promoted and monetized, and
  3. The widening  gap between professionals and management, the doctors and the directors of the hospital, that  agreement on where the boundaries actually are or should be.

One of the really nice offshoots of learning Dutch is being able to read and understand these local debates.  They do add color to perceptions and conversations.

And, finally, a perceptive comment by Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller about America’s Darwin Problem.  I’ve been debating this with friends on Facebook, as science, health, and economics increasingly get dragged into the culture wars that were previously fought over news and art.  These are quantitative fields, driven by hypothesis, data collection, and peer review, the best was that we have to determine objective truth in a critical debate.  The more that we deny demonstrable facts, the greater the likelihood that we will make wrong choices and fall increasingly behind those that do heed the data.

Yet people increasingly see authority as conspiracy, where doctors, teachers, and scientists deliberately hide the truth.  I don’t know how you counter this in a framework of open debate and experimental demonstration; there’s neither the expertise or the willingness to engage in discussion that creates constructive progress.

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