Tuesday, 3 June 2008

We're all going to hell

I've gotten somewhat obsessed with the old PC game Diablo. Back in 1997 it always creeped me out to play it (I blame the eerie music), and I never got beyond level three. The storyline is fairly simple: a hero comes to a medieval village that has been left practically deserted after an evil took over the local cathedral. The archbishop had become possessed and he kidnapped the prince to appease his master. The townspeople were oblivious to his conversion, and he led them down into the catacombs under the guise of rescuing the prince, but he was leading them to their deaths. In the meantime, the king went mad with grief for his son, and started executing villagers. This story unravels slowly as you speak to the half-dozen remaining villagers, and venture into the dungeons below the cathedral. The graphics are very basic, but it's very dark and you usually cannot see what is in a room until you enter it. Combine that with the atmospheric music and the occasional sound effects of distant screaming and maniacal laughter and it makes for one creepy game.

I've made it past the Cathedral levels (1-4), and gone deeper down in the Catacombs (5-8) and am now on the first level of the Caves (9-12). Just four more levels until I reach hell itself and face Diablo! (13-16).
I've been reading the comments on this news article about rate rises with some interest. On one hand, I feel badly for people who are in danger of losing their homes, people having to choose between food and electricity, people having to slave away at overtime and not spending time with their families, and people who are facing the reality of no longer being able to afford a family. It sucks, there is no denying that. There are a lot of unhappy people out there right now.

On the other hand, these are the people who rode the boom of the last decade. Getting bigger houses and bigger cars, working up credit card debt and going on overseas holidays. Now the tide is turning and they accuse the government and the reserve bank of being discompassionate. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about how macroeconomics work. Is it just me, or do a lot of Australians seem kind of dumb?

"Interest rates dont help
I dont see how lifting interest rates can help inflation. It can help, but its not the answer. They need to look at other ways to combat inflation. High interest rates only hurt the people who can least afford it."

Lifting interest rates is the way to lower inflation. If it doesn't work, that means we are in stagflation and we are all screwed. So I think the RBA have just got to keep rising them and praying it starts to work, because that's the only thing we've got. There is no plan B.

"Rate rises
The RBA needs to look at who is doing all this spending, it certainly isn't us homeowners who are struggling to make ends meet with mortgage payments increasing, petrol prices skyrocketing and general grocery bills getting higher. I say lets look at the younger generation who are still living at home spending up big on mobile phones, ipods and ridiculous amounts of money being spent on downloading music and ringtones. I wish I had money to throw around on ringtones......raising interest rates is not the answer, you need to hit the pockets hard of those who are actually spending the money!"

Those damn recession-inducing ringtones! I knew that $4.99 per message was going to land us all in hot water! As for downloading music: that costs money? That's news to this young person. God bless you, interwebs, with your free exchange of other people's creations.
It is interesting though that so many of the posters don't seem to classify buying homes as spending. People getting a loan of $450K for a 3 bedroom house is not spending for the purpose of fuelling inflation, but some hipster kid spending $5 for a Death Cab for Cutie ringtone is.

"Interest Rates Increase Inflation not decrease it.
This is pure greed not inflation. Do those 'wealthy' reserve bank board members not have enough already. They are greedy people. All they want is MORE. More of YOUR homes, so THEY and their greedy mates get Greedier and Greedier, by canabalising on the vulnerable. The interest rate rises are passed on in the form of HIGHER prices. That is inflationary, not battlers trying to feed their families and aiming for the Great Australian Dream..............oh, these greedy people have now made the dream a nightmare....Id rather rent and spend on all the good things."



I think this person is a little confused about what the RBA actually does.

Natural economic cycles aside, I do think we are all heading for bad times. Fuel is just going to keep going up, and no one seems to be calling for alternative fuels, they are just whinging to the government to take off 4 cents a litre in tax. I read an article some years ago predicting that the energy crisis of the near future would result in small communities centred around railway lines, with agriculture nearby. We would all eat local and seasonal foods, because transporting fruit and vegetables halfway around the world would no longer be feasible. Everything would be locally produced, no more factories in China. Things would cost more, people would own less. All those sprawling suburbs would fall into disrepair. People would raid them for the copper wiring and the rest would be left to crumble.

Seems a little bleak, right?

I don't think it has to be that way. If governments could force the oil companies to release the patents for those efficient electric cars that they buried years ago, we could start changing over. We could have wind farms to provide the electricity and life as we know it may survive. That's not to say we don't need to change. Shipping pears from Argentina is just stupid, and paying China to have children produce cheap trinkets with a by-product of mass pollution should be criminal.

Right now I should be working on my digital portfolio. I have an appointment with my course convenor tomorrow to check that I am on-track with it. What have I done? Zilch. Zippo. Nada.

And yet I am not concerned. I have this terrible over-confidance when it comes to getting things done. I never hand things in late so I just assume that come this weekend everything would have been completed and handed in and I can get on with my post-semester slacking (only slightly different to my mid-semester slacking in that I am procrastinating doing things like laundry and vacuuming my car as opposed to procrastinated essay and reports). I am trying to remind myself that I still have three big things to do this week:

  1. Digital portfolio
  2. Action research proposal
  3. Collect and organise all forms for submission to the practicum office.

So I better get cracking.
Or I could try to get to level 10 on Diablo!

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