Better off read than dead

Posted in books, personal on January 7th, 2011 by Christopher Owen – 2 Comments

Hello everyone—I hope the new year finds all of my friends well and ready to make this year the most extraordinary ever.

Despite the arbitrary nature of where we decide to mark a date on a calendar and call it the start of the new year, I do tend to take the opportunity to make certain promises to myself. You might call them resolutions, but my resolve can be a little bit more ephemeral than that. Last year I decided that I should read more. Now by no means have I earned the modifier “prolific” in my reading, but last year I did read significantly more than usual. Follow me on Good Reads to keep up with me this year where I will be trying to read even more! As an interesting aside, about three quarters of the books on my reading list were read on a Kindle. I guess that means it works.

My 2010 Reading List

New books

Ayn Rand
George Orwell
The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future
Mark Bauerlein
Surface Detail
Iain M. Banks
Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson
Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Sharia Law
Nonie Darwish
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
Christopher Hitchens
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Steven D. Levitt
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson
The Girl With Who Played With Fire
Stieg Larsson
One Very Big Picture
Sydney Hickman
A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty
Dave Goldberg
Coders At Work
Peter Seibel
Being Geek
Michael Lopp
Roger Montgomery

Audio books

Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Ernest Hemingway
David McCullough


Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion
Dan Simmons


The City & the City (50%)
China MiƩville

A belated thank you

Posted in politics on October 4th, 2010 by Christopher Owen – Be the first to comment

It’s been over a month now since the federal election and I just wanted to post a public thank you to everyone who voted for me and helped me out during the campaign.

Thanks to your support I managed to poll 718 votes, or nearly one percent of the primary vote — a really pleasing result given the deficiency of lead time and tiny amount of campaigning. I can only hope that the secular message catches on, and we can pull even more votes next time, sending a signal that we are concerned with the increasingly emboldened radical religious movements within Australia and abroad, and that we are prepared to vote to keep Australia secular.

On election day I stood at the Pyrmont Community Centre polling booth, giving out how-to-votes. The words of support and acknowledgement that some of you gave to me were a great encouragement and I hope that I’ve helped your voices be heard.

In particular I’d like to thank Jay, Ian, Lyle, and Warren for helping distribute leaflets in the week leading up to the election as well as Erin for donating her time to stand in the firing line at a polling booth for a few hours. Also to Matt R, for the leaflet drops, discussions and helping out at Pyrmont on the day. To those of you who emailed me directly, such as Peter and Karen, your thoughts and well-wishes were very appreciated.

Lastly, but by no means at all least, to my darling partner Mandy, who put so much effort into leaflet dropping, organising the election party, constantly salving a doubtful soul, putting up with the sleepless nights, and everything else that she always does: you’re the best and I couldn’t have done it without you.

On a final note: I’m serving as the Membership Officer for the newly formed NSW branch of the Secular Party. We’re going to be driving for 750 NSW members so that we can be registered as an official political party in this state. If you’re at all interested in joining this important cause, please email me or watch this space.

Secularism works for everyone

Posted in politics on August 18th, 2010 by Christopher Owen – 3 Comments

One of the main objectives of my candidacy for this election is to promote the concept of secularism. I used to think that the word was generally well known and understood, but in the various discussions I’ve had recently it has become apparent that this is not the case. Given how important I think the secular state is for fair and effective governance, I find this lack of awareness alarming.

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Not that I need to tell you how to vote

Posted in politics on August 10th, 2010 by Christopher Owen – Be the first to comment

I’ve fielded many questions about how to vote for me in Sydney or the Secular Party in the Senate.

Here’s the low down for:

Naturally, if you do not find the allocation of preferences on either ticket to your satisfaction, you should modify them to best represent your interests. allows you to fully customise a preference allocation before polling day to make sure your vote counts the way you want it to. Numbering 84 boxes requires some stamina but technologists are certainly doing their democratic bit to help you out!

Authorised by John Goldbaum, 7 Rockwall Crescent, Potts Point NSW 2001.

Surveys: useful or yes definitely

Posted in politics on August 9th, 2010 by Christopher Owen – Be the first to comment

Here’s a brilliantly constructed survey I was sent from FamilyVoice Australia. Apparently you get 10 points for answering “Yes definitely”, 2 points for answering “definitely not”, 1 point for “no comment” and no points for not answering. From the very first question I could tell that this was not going to be a highscore entry for me.

A snippet from the survey

A snippet from the survey

Full PDF version