Monday, May 28, 2012

Featherdale Wildlife Park

When B organised a trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park with her friends I was less than enthused. After all, I've been to many Australian native wildlife parks over the years. Australian wildlife tends to lack the grandeur of megafauna or the antics of primates. I was concerned that Alex would be somewhat disinterested as well, as he shows more fascination with the mechanical over the biological.

The drive out to Featherdale along the M5 and M7 was surprisingly pleasant. It was nice to get out of the urban environment for a while and let the car have a good run.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Almost as soon as you enter the park you are greeted by tame wallabies hopping around your legs. Alex loved feeding them grass filled ice cream cones. Wombats made an appearance and even some of the koalas were awake. One was available for touching. We were in time to feed the pelicans, tossing the raw fish away from the annoying ibis.

Tawny frogmouths (one strokable) and kookaburras sat around near the koala enclosures. There were young farm animals, dingoes, emus, reptiles and a wide variety of native birds. What Alex liked best was the bat enclosure, but mainly because it was a dark tunnel and he could chase other kids around in it.

There was enough to see that we ran out of time, as Alex got tired and needed his afternoon sleep. Quite a nice  way to spend Sunday and he won't lack for things to talk about at preschool this week.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Controlling choice online

I sat through a Sitecore content management system presentation this morning where the representative used every buzzword under the Sun. In it he spruiked the software's Web Engagement Management capabilities, tracking and profiling visitors and serving up personalised content without them having control over the process. As he related how delighted he was that sites like Amazon knew what he liked and used that to tempt him to buy more I joked to colleagues that the definition of a marketing person is someone who doesn't find personalisation creepy. I do.

I guess that I appreciate personalisation of a non-financial service, such as a government website serving up only those documents and forms I need based upon information that I have given them. But I generally reject website applications that try to lead me on a path based upon what the site thinks I like. The problem is that you lose trust in them. What are they trying to hide from you?

If a website serves up different information based upon personalisation, what happens if you want something different? It's like foreign airline websites that only give you flights out of Australia when what you actually want to look up is for their fares domestically or between other countries. It really irritates me.

Not everyone obviously. Apparently regional personalisation worked wonders for EasyJet, filling the equivalent of two extra aircraft a day (or was it every hour?). For me, I would rather have the power of choice. Not them.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Doctors for the [Christian Only] Family?

A group of prominent doctors put in a senate submission opposing same sex marriage on the basis that children do better in heterosexual marriages. You've got to ask yourself if they are speaking from a genuine medical perspective or their own religious beliefs.

The first signature is from a Dr Priscilla Tan who thanks God when writing reports for a medical insurer. The next one, Dr Yoke Mei Neoh, has written for the Christian Sight magazine. Another prominent signature was from the Victorian Deputy Chief Psychiatrist and HREOC member Professor Kuruvilla George. A little searching reveals that he is an ex-Christian missionary. I leave it as an exercise to check the other names on the submission. Yet check out the website for Doctors For The Family and nowhere do they seem to explicitly mention Christianity. But neither do their "supporting arguments" seem based on science.

If they wanted to sign a petition as a private citizen, fine, that's their right. It is very difficult for me to trust a doctor who is prepared to let their non-evidence based beliefs interfere with their work. Who are they working for, the patient, or their god? Whose happiness matters more?

Give me a happy and loving homosexual family any day over a dysfunctional or violent heterosexual one.

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