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About

I’m an electrical engineer with a focus on telecommunications. I’m from New Zealand, currently doing my master’s degree at Stanford, and my travel blog is at czinamerica.wordpress.com. I’ve volunteered in the IEEE and the IET (the world’s two largest technical professional institutions, just taking a break while studying but intend to get back into it later), and I take part in university debating.

Engineering

Telecommunications excites me partly because it’s lots of fun, and partly because I actually do believe that it will change (and has changed) the world, and for the better, both socially and economically. It amazes me how critical telecommunications technologies are in modern society.

My work in engineering institutions is motivated by a belief that membership of a profession is broader than a single job. In saying that, I think the profession struggles to find a foothold on its identity, and the question of what the engineering profession is (as opposed to the discipline) has been on my mind for some time. I also think that the profession is far too silent in the public arena on technical issues that affect everyone.

Politics

I like thinking about political issues, but I don’t claim to have answers to everything. I don’t have any political labels for myself, except perhaps “moderate” which is (I admit) a cop-out label at best. In elections I swing between the two major parties (depending on their policies at the time). (In New Zealand’s political environment, there are two major parties and a number of minor parties.) It changes slightly every time I do it, but on the Political Compass I currently typically score about zero-ish on the economic scale and negative two-ish on the social scale.

In the absence of political labels it’s hard to characterise my stances succinctly, but to make an attempt at very broad-brush statements: I tend to be driven by outcomes rather than moral principles. I don’t subscribe to any particular theories on morality (and have limited but non-zero patience for philosophy), though I reject the notion of absolute morals. I think that matters of fact can and should be distinguished from matters of opinion, though whether something is fact or opinion has no implications on how debatable it is. I tend to favour government intervention in order to create conditions that resemble a “perfect market” as closely as possible, so I trust market mechanisms, but I don’t necessarily think that they come about in an unregulated environment.

Where my views coincide with views commonly expressed in the public sphere, I tend not to blog them—I prefer not to spend time explaining what is already explained by others. Where I do post a blog, I do so hoping that it’s an angle that isn’t normally used by others to approach the issue.

History of blog

I started this blog in July 2005. At the time, it was on Windows Live Spaces (which later migrated all blogs to WordPress), and was called “A blog for a blog’s sake”.

As the name suggested, the blog back then was a commentary on anything that was happening around me that I felt like commenting on at the time, which is why very early posts can seem a bit random. I was a high school student at the time, so issues at school unsurprisingly featured heavily. I was particularly interested in the progress of the NCEA, New Zealand’s new secondary school qualification, which is why there is a whole category on it. As I started to become more opinionated, this blog became a way not just of expressing thoughts on contemporary political issues, but of clarifying them to myself by forcing myself to articulate them as logically as I could.

As I entered university, the number of issues I thought about continued to grow and my spare time (expectedly) diminished. So my posts became rarer, and you might notice large gaps in time in the archives reflecting this. While the blog remains an “anything” blog, it will likely bias towards commentary on political issues for a while longer. That said, my first series of posts after I graduated were about attitudes in engineering institutions.

Needless to say, like most people, many of my views have probably changed over the years. I keep archived posts there for completion, but they might not reflect a view that I hold now.

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