Category Archives: Sociology

Straya Stuff: The Melbarn-Sydney Rivalry


Breaking news:

The “Melbarn-Sydney Rivalry” only exists in the heads of certain people from Melbarn. Usually, people from Sydney that I meet, like Melbarn a lot.

Commonly heard in Sydney: “I love Melbarn! People there are so friendly. I love the little bars and restaurants. The food is great. The roads seem easier to get around. Wish I could move there one day but I don’t know if I can. I’ll probably miss the beaches.”



“Race, Shame and Self-defence” by Sam Yang

I love Sam Yang‘s blog. He writes very interesting and thoughtful articles. This article discusses the subtle and poorly understood social challenges of being part of a minority group in the colonial mentality of the anglosphere, and perspectives on the racial hierarchy. Well worth a read.

#racerelations #race #racism #colonialism #martialarts
On survival:
“Martial arts work in isolated situations, but when the danger is systemic, then one must hold on to the principles, rather than the physical techniques. When fighting perceptions, there is no solitary “bad guy” to defeat.”
On understanding the perspective of a minority:
“Because if you are at the top of the institutional food chain, you may not sense the same dangers. That is good for you, but you are not the whole of the collective experience.”
On racial biases and stereotyping:
“Often people will relate to us in the only ways they know how, they relate to us based on our race — as if we were the representative of a whole people and not individuals.”
On falsely imagining racial diversity:
“The two common types I have found in the US are, liberal and conservative, and everything must fit into one or the other, no overlap. Everything then becomes mutually exclusive. Racial diversity is often tossed into the liberal bin, so people assume if a city is liberal, it must have racial diversity.”
On false equivalence in “reverse racism”:
“There is a difference between being bullied and institutional oppression. There is common ground but thinking it is exactly the same is a false equivalence.”
On recognising the differences between equality and equity:
“We cannot close that gap if we pretend things are the same. If two people run at the same speed, the person who started out in the lead will stay in the lead. To catch up, the person in the back will have to run twice as hard. Equality is nothing without equity. These are not complicated ideas; we can float these thoughts in our heads. We just may not want to if it does not work out in our favor. A quality of a civilized culture is that of empathy. Survival of the fittest is natural, but it is also primitive. The very existence of medicine is a challenge to the survival of the fittest, yet a civilized society means giving everyone a chance at life. That is what civilization is consistently working towards.”
On dealing with an inescapable reality:
“Race is one of those identifiers that is immutable — people will just know, which makes it the hardest thing to see past.”
On oversimplified racial stereotypes:
“Simplifying a minority group as always “good” or right, is exchanging paternalism with infantilization. It is reducing a group to a stereotype when there is a wholeness to people. Some people are good, some are not, some are right, some are wrong — the same wholeness that exists for the majority group.”

The Problem with the Education System

In response to this TedX talk by Eddy Zhong:


There should not be a clear duality of life choice as defined by these two paths, and I do not believe that it is suggested that a creative path is superior; it is only that the academic path is flawed and inadequate to serve the needs of a human. There are clear benefits to academic education as well. However academic performance is given far too much credit and is a product of an antiquated and inefficient education system which does not necessarily nurture the natural talents of a student. We spend far too much time learning things that have little relevance to our lives or careers.

A purely academic career that views lives and concepts as a collection of purely mechanical and measurable components dangerously separates mankind from the natural and creative world from which he/she biologically originates from. Without appropriate application of academic pursuits to the real world, the optimal leverage of applied knowledge cannot be achieved.

We should encourage students to discover their own strengths, purpose and natural talents through exploration of individual creativity, and integrate targeted and appropriate adoption of technical academic knowledge in a tailored fashion to each individual’s natural inclinations in such a way that we may optimise their abilities. Nurture our nature, not balance the influences of nature vs nurture as opposites, as we well know they are deeply interconnected.

Re: The Mental Health of Doctors

Regarding this article from the Huffington Post:
Being A Doctor Should Not Have To Come With A Health Warning

Years ago, I asked the staff mental health consultant during her lecture at the lunchtime hospital “grand round” meeting whether selection of medical students should take into consideration their existing mental health.

In response, she essentially told me that being mentally ill was part of the profession, like being anxious and having OCD would help you do your job better…

I’d like to say that is certainly not true with the mentally ill health professionals that I’ve met... a large proportion are, and not just the doctors…

How many more suicides do we need to see before we fix the system? Ultimately do we really believe that having a doctor or (other health professional) run around the hospital spending an inordinate amount of their mental energy trying to control their anxiety and depression, potentially also physically undermined by the alcohol and drugs that they are taking to cope, is going to provide the best patient care?

Interestingly, in the news recently is this female doctor from Miami, who abused an Uber driver: ‘I am ashamed,’ doctor says after camera captures her attacking Uber driver


Medical professionals should be selected more carefully for the good of the profession and community; unless of course the dysfunctional process is part of the “medical-industrial complex” process to maintain the destabilization the health of the community for the sake of company profit, perhaps? Which would totally make sense.

I’ve met too many psychopaths, egotists, mentally ill and generally weird people in the medical profession, and wondered, how on Earth can we be entrusting the health of the community to these people?




In the wake of Robin Williams recent suicide, many questions have come to mind regarding the veracity of the current public understanding of what depression and mental illness is about.

I just want to say a few things in regards to my own experience and how I have dealt with it. It isn’t really about the issues themselves, but more about how one might deal with them if they arise.

It’s difficult to understand mental illness if you don’t know the depth and incredible complexity of the human mind… for example, it has only been through many hours, over many years, of psychoanalysis and psychology counselling have I begun to understand the depth and root cause of my own issues, which might manifest, via convoluted mental pathways, into unusual or awkward behaviors and thought patterns. The deeper I probe, the more complex I realise things are, and how justifiable it is to put in as much effort as I do to understand them.

If it’s difficult for me to understand, with quite a high level of personal insight and a fairly high level of education in and exposure to health and psychology, can you imagine how much more difficult it might be with someone who hasn’t had the benefit of that additional perspective?

So, based what I have learned from my own experiences with limiting psychological issues (and really, these principles can apply to life in general) I would suggest the following ideas as things to consider for a healthier mental state:

1) Seek the Right Environment
Be around the right people, influences, and things you want to see and do. I realise, having moved cities and away from communities I was previously involved in and tied to (personally or professionally) that a LOT of my negative views of the world were very strongly influenced by the experiences I had from being surrounded by (for want of a better term) complete assholes. Now that I have made better decisions to whom I associate with, I am much happier, more positive, leading a much more fulfilling existence, and am not depressed.

2) Seek Self-efficacy
People tend to remain in their default, socially engineered state, for better or worse, if they do not actively seek to change their path. Change must first be desired; the first change that needs to happen is to make the change to want to change. There needs to be some level of self recognition or insight in order to effect progress away from a negative mindset. Self education and playing an active role in disciplining your mind and altering your thought patterns, makes a major difference in the likelihood of changing for the better.

3) Seek the Right Assistance
As much as self-efficacy is a golden goose of progress, there are some things that we can achieve much better insight into through broadening our limited perspectives to include the perspectives of others. These are people who will take the time to listen, understand and offer objective opinions without judgement; perhaps leading to an epiphany of personal understanding that you alone could not grasp. For many, you may have family or friends to reach out to; for others, there are government initatives and organisations such as beyondblue, headspace; for those who can afford it, there are health professionals.

4) Seek the Right Path Early in Life
Once again, however, I would emphasise the importance of creating the best possible environments and influences for our vulnerable and impressionable youth. They are the future of the world, and are an empty canvas painted with the brush of whatever paradigm of reality they are presented with. It is our responsibility to help these younger generations become better than we are, rather than perpetuating any questionable habits out of failure to account for and consider the merit (or lack thereof) our own habits.

For the older the mind, the greater the struggle to change, if precedents created in childhood have set us on a journey to destruction.