Double Bleg: Great Accountant and Dentist needed

Well here we are at the beginning of another year trying to get things in order. And I’ve got two bits of spring cleaning (OK so seasonal metaphors are dominated by northern hemisphere geography – I guess I’m doing summer cleaning).

Having been slack in not having my checkup for a long time, the local dentist discovered about four pieces of ‘work’ I need done. I’m after a dentist who someone thinks is Great, for a second opinion and to do whatever work remains after that second opinion.

Also I’m trying to find a good accountant – as I told you a couple of years ago – and then the tax deadline snuck up on me and I couldn’t do the transfer. So I’m open for suggestions – either below or by email on ngruen at gmail.

Boxing day bleg: how strongly do you feel about the weather?

I know three people who say they’re quite strongly affected by the weather. They dislike rainy, overcast or muggy days and like fine ones that are not too hot or cold. Me? Well I agree, but while I can enjoy a nice day, I have no feeling of a bad day weighing me down.

I’ve just realised that the three people I know who react more strongly than me are female. And I know quite a few men who are relaxed about the weather like I am. So while I’m sure there’s no one-to-one mapping between gender and this strength of reaction to the weather, I wonder on this tiny sample if I’m seeing a more generally applicable pattern. And perhaps there are other things to be learned about the kinds of people whose mood is strongly influenced by the weather.

So, O Troppodillians, spare us a couple of moments of your time and fess up to your own predilections and sensitivities, and those of people you know.

China-US travel bleg


File:Statue of Liberty, NY.jpgI’m heading off overseas with my 15 year old son. Turns out the cheapest way to get to the US, where we’re spending most of our time is via China. And, in case you’re interested and didn’t know of it, Flightfox is a great way to pay people who know what they’re doing to do lots of research for you on the best value flights.

So this is a list of places we’re going. I’m after any tips you may have on where to stay and what to see. Or useful web resources to plan the trip. Or best car hire etc.

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Dear Nokia: a plea for simplicity. Guest post by Mike Pepperday


Dear Nokia,

I hear you have fallen on hard times. I have two product suggestions:

1. Make a mobile that is purely a telephone
2. Make a phone in the shape of a pen

The two could well be combined.

1. Pure phone

There are countless millions of older people who would appreciate a mobile phone but they can’t manage the complications. If they were offered a phone, which was just a phone, they might be interested.

You could promote it as “SMS-FREE!” “CAMERA-FREE!” “INTERNET-FREE!” “MENU-FREE!” “Like phones of old: you talk on it!” You would have to invent a generic name. Purephone? Cleanphone? Straightphone?

It would have no alarms, no recording, no FM radio, no messages, no answering service, no “settings,” no adjustments. Continue reading

Mac Malware Bleg

Malware is slowing down my Mac :(

For a month or so I had a small Bing sponsored magnifying glass appear over all graphics.  Then it went. But now, whenever I’m on a news-site I get a ‘Discovery Bar’ appearing at the bottom of my screen. It only appears in Chrome which I use as my default browser. But it and the Mac generally are slowing down after about two years of use. Anyway, if anyone has some tips on how I can reliably restore my Mac to better working order without a full system rebuild, I’d be grateful. Here’s what I see when I go to the SMH for instance – see the bar at the bottom.

Discover Bar

Our language and how it changes . . . and doesn’t

Our language is changing all the time and is probably changing faster than at any time in its history. We now tweet things and Google them and have LOLs AFAIK.

In any event there are some things our language is stubborn about. It doesn’t like innovation deep in its operating system. We don’t have lots of basic words which we should have. The word ‘whose’ works for a person, but not, strictly speaking for a non-person. So you can say “that person whose property was stolen”. But not really “That company whose property was stolen” – though lots of people do say things like that. If you want a non gender specific pronoun for a person - because you don’t know their gender, you can’t say ‘it’ – or you can but it’s both strange and rude. There are lots and lots of examples, and I know you can’t wait to point to some in comments.

Sometimes when things get political we fix things like this – as we did with “Ms”. But it’s a pity we can’t fix the other stuff. Why can’t we? And what could be done about it? (Actually I know the answer to the second question – not much. But not the first.) So O Troppodillians what dost thou reckon?

Most significant philanthropic grants in Australia

This is an email I received earlier today from Karen Mahlab – and I offered to reproduce it here for the delectation and contribution of Troppodillians everywhere. The winner of the competition will be flown steerage to London for a weekend at Buckingham Palace with the royal carriages at their command.

In partnership with Philanthropy Australia, The Myer Family Office, The Myer Foundation and the Sidney Myer Fund, Pro Bono Australia is seeking nominations for the most significant 50 philanthropic grants in Australia.

Our aim is to increase the profile of Philanthropy in the public eye nationally. We are well below international standards in this area. We already have a couple of hundred nominations registered which is wonderful at this stage.

I’d be most appreciative if you could have a think about whether or not you have a personal favorite for nomination. It can about the impact a grant has had not necessarily its size.

I am sending this to you because of your extensive professional networks and your interest and/or deep involvement in your own areas of specialisation and philanthropy.

See below for more details and please excuse the non personalised email. Also, feel free to pass this on to anyone else in your networks who may have a potential nomination.


Where equity and efficiency thrive together: Can you propose some more examples?

Economists love tradeoffs. Indeed, their basic model of the world breaks down where such tradeoffs don’t occur. Lucky for them since the world really is full of tradeoffs. If you want more carrots, you’ll have to do with fewer of something else. Here they’re substitutes. But, to use an ugly word which first became faddish in the 1980s, where there are synergies between things that you’re after, you’re in a wonderful world.

Economists love arguing that there is a tradeoff between equity (or perhaps equality of income) and efficiency. Of course there are such tradeoffs.  If you tax work at high enough rates, especially of more productive people who are likely to be earning more, if you buy yourself sufficient equity between their own take-home pay and those who are less productive, you may also buy yourself less work from your most productive people – a classic equity/efficiency tradeoff.

But of course the world is full of synergies between efficiency and equity.

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