Friday, March 31, 2006

Name Supression

How do we feel about name suppression?

Name suppression seems to rest on a couple of principles
1) protection of the victim - often detains of the case including the names of people involved might be suppressed in order to prevent further harm that society might do to the victim, for example a young child who was a victim of rape might not want everyone including those at school to know that - this might require the guilty party to also be anonymous.
2) Protection of the accused - the accused might be in a job where they will suffer considerable additional harm if people are aware of the fact that they might be guilty. Suppression could preserve the possibility if they are found not guilty, of them returning to their old life.

One could say both of these assume the public is unreasonable - that is that they will shun people who are not dangerous to them and punish those who probably are not guilty. Are we unreasonable? If you knew an accused murderer would you give him the benefit of the doubt? Or possibly weigh up his likelihood of guilt based on the evidence? Or just assume guilt? Would you have a right to know to be wary?

3) Protect the jury from emotive but not relevant evidence
In this case we might hide from a jury the fact that a murderer was also a child abuser or something similar because a judge deems it to be irrelevant and highly likely to influence the jury.
The problem here is that it has as a basic assumption that the jury is very poor at making decisions. You can’t avoid the jury being exposed to irrelevant information and yet you accept it misleads them. Even to the point where you might hide vaguely relevant information because it is highly prejudicial - and more generally - are previous convictions relevant?

Should we trust the jury to be able to consider relevant information and ignore irrelevant information even when that information is highly emotive and prone to evoke prejudice?

Under what grounds should it automatically be lifted?
no grounds? if another case requires the information?

Greens confused

Frog blog comments
Oil crisis, anyone? Lets hope everyone keeps cool heads over Iran’s nuclear programme and keeps on talking. According to these comments by Iranian general Rahim Safavi of the paramilitary revolutionary guards, any military action against Iran would result in Iran blocking the Straits of Hormuz, a vital gateway for global oil exports. Juan Cole’s website indicates that this could be done by sinking one oil supertanker.

But haven’t they just lost track of the big picture here?
blocking the Straits of Hormuz would just push up oil prices - it would effectively be a very simple and very fair global carbon tax (hopefully not via sinking a ship of course - that would be messy).
An environmentalist should consider an Oil crisis to be when oil is cheep (and thus lots of it get's burnt therefore global warming occurs and peak oil point get's closer etc etc) not when there is a drop in supply a drop in supply would be REALLY GOOD.

Of course I am even more in favour of this because I have advocated supply side targeting of the problem for a long time. the basic point is Iran blocking the Straits of Hormuz and cause a massive rise in the price of oil doing something that is easy and takes almost no time at all. Meanwhile Europe can slash it's consumption and just make oil a little cheaper for china so they can increase their usage.
the former strategy works well at little cost the latter strategy works badly at great cost.

The problem the greens have is that they oppose the US and support underdogs – it is hard to stop and think that the underdogs bluff might be something you want to call.

Court (rape) cases

A poster on CBTP asks why a woman would put up a false alligation of rape.

Well imagine this scenario
1) A woman cheats on her partner (particularly if in an embarassing manner)
2) The partner (or family or whoever) finds evidence
3) Woman wonders how to cover for it - and starts to construct a less embarrassing lie
4) Woman knows the men involved are "dodgy" - in fact they may well be rapists
5) having foundsch a likely and worthy subject woman follows the "they raped me" line woman recieves a lot of sympathy and gains credibility hte more plausible the allegation.
6) slowly over the years a very strong allegation forms and rough edges are ironed out. Connectionsare built with rape suport networks and hte lie becomes very difficult to back out of - considerin hte men are somewhat distasteful they are sen to deserve it anyway.
7) after many years it is intergral to how people view the woman that to deny it would be to alienate herself from everyone that she knows.

Ofcourse alternativly the allegations could be correct.
It seems that there are many false alligations levied at people (I refer generally to false criminal allegations here), and in each case somthing like this is presumably occuring.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Sage has produced some analysis of productivity growth in NZ finding in favor of the right leaning opposition as a superior government in this regard.

A number of people have proposed responses almost all of which are very weak

1) The proposal that productivity is not everything

No one is proposing voting ONLY on sage’s analysis so most people seem to be attacking a straw man. The point is that sage’s analysis IS good evidence and in the absence of a plausible argument against it is the "status quo" in this debate. The argument is a bit like saying you should try to make money because money isn't everything. It may not be everything but it IS something!

2) NZ will never be as 'productive' as the US/Japan etc

That is a pretty defeatist approach. You could say "NZ will never be as rich as Japan with all their yen and their big cars and boats.
Once upon a time counties like Japan were much more like china or Mongolia (even further back) and they fixed their labour productivity problems.

If you are the labor source for the worlds you can expect lower per capita incomes than if you are the capital source for the world (not surprisingly). If your structure is wrong for long term productivity growth then change the structure.

3) It is just too simplistic.

This sort of thing is typical of problems in the real world.
For example global warming. You could argue the temperature in the future is a result of us burning carbon (like "government policy" - controllable) or you could say it is a result of the sun (pretty undeniable but not helpful).

If sage can draw a logical connection to some policies that is sufficient to make the point unless you can prove a stronger counter force.

I proposed some counter forces on sage's blog but besides that I haven’t seen anyone come up with anything that has more weight to it than just self justifying guesses.

A) If Labour raises the amount of people in the workforce this should drop the productivity of the average person (as more almost unemployable people become employed).
This difference will often be pretty significant.
Over time this might cause companies to develop policies to improve this in the long run.
B) I would suggest tension in the market causes productivity growth - that is when there is easy money in a housing market based boom (for example) pressure to make productivity increasing changes is low, so gains are more likely to be made in "harder times".
C) There is the question of "what is the scarce resource" do we need optimal use of labour or optimal use of capital (etc)
In theory making capital easier to obtain should make labour productivity higher (because they can combine more capital with that labour)
Of course it matters how this is distributed across the businesses.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Prediction registry

David brin suggests a prediction registry is urgently needed

I agree - what we need however is concrete steps towards setting one up rather than just discussion.

Maybe you can start with a small set of people - maybe presidential candidates - and take testable statement / theme from each of their speeches in a sort of wikipedia sort of way (so there is a general consensus on what is the statement). Then after a while encourage politicians to speak to the data base "you can quote me on that" or you can "wikipredict" me on that (in which case the statement would of course be exactly as worded).

You have to start out small though in order to be credible - otherwise you get really bad analysis on a large number of people. Besides this only takes a few really dedicated people to at least somewhat work.

I think many people would be interested to work on this - maybe it could be a university project, if that was the case you could fill it with people with goals other than partisanship. Otherwise you have to hope they will just cancel out.

Jamaican's master understatement

A member of the jaimaican team in the common wealth games relay team refers to their strategy of utilizing the world's fastest man

"We just wanted to get it to Asafa. He's a fast runner."

viewers could be excused for thinking the other runners are standing still.

Friday, March 24, 2006



Thursday, March 23, 2006

Harmeet Sooden

Harmeet Sooden is free - hopefully without any bribes bneing paid to any of the hostage takers.
Russell seem to think they did get bribes and the operation was a face saving event (pretending that it was military instead).

I hope not but I guess whenever hostages are taken bribar and so forth are a common means for resolving the issue.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is this how the universe works?

Imagine there are a set of fundamental traits that a particle (or imagine it as a person if you like) can have.
Now imagine a universe with multiple dimensions some of which are very fine and it is easy to pass from one point to another (e.g. space) some of which are not fine and it is as difficult to pass from one category to another (e.g. positive and negative charge).

Now a particle with exactly the same traits as another particle is the same particle as the other particle not just in terms of being identical - they are genuinely the same thing because there is no other way in which they can be different - they occupy the same space in the multi dimensional universe. Meanwhile something with very similar traits is in a sense "overlapping" and thus next to the other particle and able to influence it.

Make sense?

These dimensions require limits to how they can be traversed to be visible to us. Time is protected by entropy and space is protected by the speed of light. Maybe others are protected by other factors like that OR maybe the lack of these things defines why they are not as obvious.

Self determination

An anonymous commentator at NRT notes

the most basic freedom is not that of free thought, or of free belief, or of free speech. It is the right of peoples to self-determination.

The problem I think is that there is a key hidden assumption in this self determination example. It is that the group being describes is the legitimate group to "self determine".

It would seem this is the nation state - or possible the sub-state level at which people generally refer to these things. That is valid as a practical argument (i.e. I can’t stop china from killing its citizens) but it is not valid as an absolute moral argument.

I see two consistent positions
1) Self determination matters at the individual level (in which case it means rights such as freedom of speech)
2) Self determination matters at an international level (in which case determinations by the global community, for example that humans have rights, can and should be enforced).

OK maybe there is a third which applies self determination to itself - it allows someone to contract out of self determination by contracting into a group. But that contradicts itself in how it allows a certain subset to defy the will of individuals and society as a whole. And counties are generally not "opt in" i.e. while from a practical perspective they may be the best tool but from a moral one they are pretty arbitrary - besides with the people who are subject to a death penalty for exercising their views - who would define themselves to belong to a set that will kill them?

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I have in my eye a thing called a sctoma - it is a blind spot that means I cant see a certain spot. You should have one too (although not as obvious as mine) but it is pretty hard to see where it is because your brain tricks you into not noticing it.

But far worse than that is the blind spot that we have in our minds. as with me and other people it is often in different places and it can be large or small, the brain can fill it in with something sensible or with nothing or with somthing ridiculous.

Just think - there is always somthing right infront of your face that you can't see. I'm lucky - I can't see it - but I know where it is.

Philosophy in need of help

I was debating with Richard at Philosophy et cetera And yet again we are pondering a hypothetical.

If this is what happens in philosophy classes nowadays I think they seriously need an injection of scientists into their debates!

1) Everyone starts off in the blissful sphere. But each day, one more person gets permanently transferred across to the agony sphere, where they reside for the rest of eternity.

2) Everyone starts off in the agony sphere. But each day, one more person gets permanently transferred across to the blissful sphere, where they reside for the rest of eternity.

Which scenario is better? The answer, paradoxically, appears to be "both". At any moment in time, there will be infinitely many people in the original sphere, and only a finite number who have been transferred across. So option 1 is better.

However, each particular person will spend only a finite amount of time in the first sphere, whereas they will spend an eternity in their post-transfer home. So option 2 is better.


To avoid question-begging, we must adopt ...[an] objective perspective on the question. For example, imagine you're a benevolent God, faced with the choice of creating one or other of these worlds.

What Richard does is proposes a hypothetical combines this with some assumptions about how maths works and in doing so creates some clear contradictions – the then ponders why there is a contradiction.

1) He specifically denies an (omnipotent) god the power (and only this power) to resolve infinities or see the conclusion of one. For example this god is able to see a time when any single individual has moved sphere but not see a time when most individuals will have moved over to the new sphere. Despite the fact that being outside of time, infinite time would mean nothing to him.
If you are going to do this how can you propose the perspective?

2) which brings us to the second error. Richard assumes (without really explaining why) in this scenario you would know person 1 at time 0 who has to wait for one day and be able to work from here to find person two and day two etc. This sounds logical at first until you think about it
A) you were looking at an example of this what are the odds you would be at the very beginning of time?
There are two perspectives god and individual.
i) If you are god (as Richard suggests) the question is meaningless because you see ALL of the scenario instantly because you are outside time (matter/time are related).

ii) If you are an individual and it is random your odds would be 0 (limx(x0)) the only thing you would be likely to see is an uncountable set of people in both spheres and uncountable periods before or since transfer.
The individual that you would have data on would have a “time to wait” (or n as Richard puts it) which was too big for you to count (bigger than any conceivable real number [go on – I dare you to conceive of a bigger one]) so too would his neighbors – all of them. There would be issues with subjecting any of these numbers to maths except in as far as they are very large.

3) Richard seems to perform some functions on infinity while denying the legitimacy of others.

For example Richard defines a special infinity by saying an infinite number of people all have a finite number of days in each sphere. Essentially performing a reverse “sum of the numbers less than” function on infinity and producing a finite number while talking about infinity being a “direction” and immune to things like multiplication. Why this function would be exempt is strange (or is it just another entirely arbitrary constraint?), but then why does he not then resolve other functions involving infinities? (ones more useful to the solution). Furthermore if these methods of comparison change the problem (as opposed to being cosmetic) one has to wonder what else is missing. Regardless - it breaks down simple assumptions such as the number of people being related to the numbers people are allocated.

Meanwhile he also continues to talk about things like "for all n" in an infinite set. This implies knowledge of what happens all across the infinite range the same infinite range that he seems to refuse to allow to be combined in the usual (1,1,1,1,1…)/(2,2,2,2,2…) = (½,1/2,1/2) ( I.e. lim (y)/lim (x)) or any other mathmatical methodology.

4) While Richard in part treats infinities as unsolvable this isn’t how we deal with infinities in the physical sciences, which is related to the context in which he is applying it. Physicists often face examples of infinity, what they do is utilize strategies such as “renormalization”. Generally they will start to talk about the result that the formulae tends towards as the number/s approach infinity (as in the above point) or look at the real results and extrapolate. These methods are used to solve al sorts of problems and physics would be crippled without it. There are also branches of maths which can deal more directly with infinite set maths, such as hyperreal maths.

5) In a practical sense physics would still take a dim view of Richard’s approach. Richard suggests that there is a start and an infinite end of the timeline / population. Now, Time or space could theoretically be infinite BUT it is also reversible – start and end are not fundamentally different (except for entropy). Therefore if there is first person seeing a future of sphere hopping it is also valid to see a last person looking back on a history of it. They can’t get to each other by traveling along the infinity (like a “person” inside and outside of a black hole) but that doesn’t mean they don’t equally “exist”.

6) Regardless - infinity is an ill defined number. This means you cant think of it just like a number. In that sense any infinity might as well be the same – but you can’t say it IS the same.


Philosophically I am also interested in how this effects Richard’s beliefs. For example if you believe that such a case exists what are the moral rules for individuals? If one is trying to maximize utility one soon realizes that it is unsolvable no matter what you do in fact if infinity plus one = infinity (the stricter definition that Richard uses of insolvability) then there is no moral obligation to do anything.
This would be the case if
1) there is infinite time
2) there exist an infinitely greater being
3) there is infinite space
4) there are infinite alternate universes
5) there is a way of achieving infinite utility and some one does achieve it
And a host of other infinite related things
I expect most people would be inclined to believe in one of those. However people dont usually see it as jsutifying throwing ones hands in the air as a philopophy of life (that would be justified by other things!).

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The maori party

The Maori party has been insanely reasonable lately.
From their statement regarding taking bills to submission level unless they are VERY strongly opposed to them (in order to allow public discussion) to their position on drugs and smoking and so forth If I had known they were going to me like this I might have signed onto the Maori role and voted for them!

how could there be a gay gene?

how could there be a gay gene?
wouldnt evolution have eliminated it?

well there are couple of possibilities

1) there is some benefit to being gay - we understand that in some chimp communities sex between chimps of the same sex is a binding activity - it can be used to improve your social position.

but gay humans are often not bisexual but fairly purely gay. In the past social pressures might have ensured children anyway but in general this suggests bisexuality is the aim. Since having two of a gene is stronger than having one usually - we can say bisexuality is having one gene and having two raises the possibility of you being gay (depending on the situation of course).
the other possibility is it is not bisexuality but instead something more like a "gentle father" gene. So there is selection for men to have the gentle father gene but if they have two of them maybe they are more likely to be gay.

2) This one relates to how mutations work. Now there are 4 "bases" so lets term these ABC and D
Let's say a blue eye gene is ABBCCDAA now this is a chemical and chemicals can be more or less stable maybe ABBCCDAA is very easy to drop the C and change it to a B. Maybe that change produces brown eyes. If this is the case then it will be possible for blue eyed parents to have brown eyed babies. Maybe not very likely - but possible. this is also similar to some genetic disorders which would have strong selection pressures against them but keep on popping up every now and then.

3) Pairs of genes can cross over and swap a little genetic material. Imagine if the X had a gene in it that could cross over to the y (or vice verse). The information could be selected for on the X chromosome for any obscure reason but on the Y chromosome it might cause an effect such as a tendancy towards being gay. The Y chromosome gene pool would slowly have this gene pumped into it and so it would never go away.

In reality it probably involves complex combinations of genes - which obscure the selection proceses anyway - but it is easily posible to have traits that are not ones that promote survival.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Medica trials are good

Clint gets all postal on those people who spread disaster stories about drug trials.

Lately he NZ media had gotten all excited over a failed drug trial in the UK. the bottom line is at some point if you want to have new drugs those drugs have tobe put in a human for the first time. that will be what is called a "trial" someone must be the first person or there will be no drug at all.

So good on those who test these drugs for us and as per the forms you sign (i expect) you can expect some mild side effects and only once in a blue moon anything serious.

Black cocks go down like a charm

For those who dont know - the NZ badminton team are unopfficially known as the black (shuttle) cocks (the "ball" they hit in badminton is a shuttle cock),2106,3606089a15977,00.html#top

So reporting so far I can say

Black Cocks: expect big things
Black cocks pound kenyans 5-0
International media finds black cocks hard to swallow.
Black cocks to face jamaicans
Black cocks exceed expectations

Labour and over spending

Jordan accuses the right of being bitter and twisted over labor’s overspending.

Frankly this is like a murder accusing the victim's family of being bitter and twisted. Labor it would seem stole the election by overspending - and now gets away with it without any punishment.

Jordan brings up a couple of ridiculously self serving arguments

First there is the argument that it didn't make a difference in the election - if you believe that then as I proposed for national when they overspent - the ultimate test is to take it out of next election's budget. If you are not willing to do that you effectively accept that you may well have "stolen the election" this time round.

Second there is the argument that labor made an honest mistake

this is funny because it's so pathetic. Labor’s campaign return was over the limit because the party included, at the demand of authorities, spending it did not believe was attributable spending.

Jordan, there are children in primary schools who would know that the pledge card was a method for winning elections. Labor are not idiots and there is no way they could have missed this (unlike the GST issue national had where they might have been stupid enough). If the incumbent government is allowed to use the resources of the government to fight an election you have fundamentally undermined the fairness of elections and become exactly what you despise "that side of politics which believes it is born to rule New Zealand", yes it is you.

Third the argument that national is more guilty..

National failed to include spending on its behalf that was clearly attributable - all the hard work done by the Exclusive Brethren for the National Party campaign.

This is comical because the brethren HURT the national party. Jordan is watching the other side score an own goal and trying to get a penalty for it. It requires a ridiculous level of stupidity in national for us to conclude that they created the brethren situation and the logical conclusion is that they we vaguely aware (in the same way labor is vaguely aware if I was to tell them I would support them an then put a sign up on my lawn worth $400,000). But reasonable people can see how that might not be included - or if it was could be the source of ridiculousness as individuals tried to destroy other party’s budget by wasting money in their name.

The fact they spent more than the legal limit for broadcasting time during the campaign (due to a "mistake" - yeah, right) means they are already at least as susceptible to being charged as any Labor official would be.

Yes and no. Firstly no matter what the penalty it must be worse for labor because labor’s problem is about 4 times as big and because national has a method for arguing it could have been a misunderstanding (a very stupid mistake but still a mistake). But I am not arguing for national to get off - they overspent, and they are either obliged to fight the advertising company on this or to face the punishment - just that labor’s punishment should be significantly worse.

Fourth the argumnt that they will constructively solve the problem without any of those messy justice or concequences things.

Instead of having a constructive response - about how we might better structure electoral law to give clear guidelines, and avoid any problems next time - it's all whine, whine, moan from the right.

Parties are like companies - much more than with individuals - you need incentives to get them to do anything. If you reward them for cheating they will cheat. That is the solution to make it clear that it is possible to prosecute. Most people didn’t think the law was full of holes they figured there was a spending cap and if rugby league can handle it (and dock points from those that breach it) the NZ government should be able to.

And finally let’s try to muddy the water

The right wants an unconstrained spending regime and no rules at all, so they can try and buy elections.

1) as opposed to the current situation where labour buys elections?
2) Labour seems to be arguing the system is broken – I suggest most NZders think it was ok it is just that politicians are assholes and cheated. We are not asking for no rules we instead want rules to be enforced.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More great cartoons!

More great cartoons!

visit for the rest!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Five biggest lies bush told someone

I thought I'd have a look and see if I agreed with the people who want to teach us what a lie is and what is big

1) The administration repeatedly attested that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction

Depends on what you mean by a WMD but on the whole I think Bush believed Saddam and some selected pieces of intelligence. Sure Saddam ain’t that trustworthy but if he says he has them you start to wonder.

2) downplayed the cost and risk of the proposed invasion and occupation

I think they totally failed to understand it. the strategy was it would seem, in error - you don’t launch a flawed strategy on purpose is again

3) shamelessly evoked the atrocious abuse of power of Hussein and his family while brooking no commitment to rebuild the country after the terrifying "shock and awe" campaign

they did try to rebuild (failure or success is a different question)

TRUTH - (counter claim is a LIE)

4) provided substanceless theory linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks of September 11, thereby cynically manipulating the anger and sorrow of the American citizenry.

TRUE (yeah of course you know what you are doing when you do that, of course they probably thought there was a connection)

where did 5 go? oh well never mind

Is there a gay gene

Yes to some extent - you might as well deny there are genes for intelligence.

besides - you cant have it both ways - I hear so often people arguing against religious people saing "it's a choice" and now all of a sudden we have them arguing with a doctor (maybe religious too I dont know) saying that it is genetic (ie not a choice).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Christian peacemaker killed

Christian peacemaker killed

"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people,"

"I look forward to the day when we will be equally outraged by the oppression of our brothers and sisters that may not look, live, or pray like the west. May we someday be able to identify with any human being that is suffering, and work to aid them with the same passion as we do our fellow white westerners."
The St Anne's Newtown Social Justice Group calls on the captors of peacemakers Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, Norman Kember and Tom Fox to release them. They are innocent and working, as we all are, for a peaceful Iraq. You are all on the same side. Harmeet and others want the release of political prisoners in Iraq also.

Please save Sooden because
he protests against the israelis

Hmm maybe they aren't "insurgents" meybe they are just crazy people with guns..

I hope that the Iraqi resistance will stop targeting their friends and comrades who aid them on their path to freedom beneath the blades of American helicopters.

and yet they do it anyway... what's up with that?

"Founder Keysar Trad, who delivers his message in both English and Arabic, says the kidnappers are holding humanitarian workers who have helped bring the Iraqis' plight to the world's attention.
He says if the captors are true insurgents then they have damaged their cause, because holding friends of Iraq is not acceptable."


Wrap up on Milosevic
Voyager on tim blair's site
No one could live long enough for this trial
Reynold's isn't sure
I'm not sure what I think, but it certainly seems that trials that last until the defendant dies of old age aren't the solution.
Bubble head via M Malkin
I'm wondering if Slobodan Milosevic died of boredom; he's been on trial since 2002. I'm also wondering if the ICC will be investigated for the spate of prisoners dying in their custody like the US would be.
and Ed Morrissey:
In the end, he beat the Hague and the UN in the limited arena left to him. He stalled the trial long enough to die before its completion and made the Hague look like incompetents and fools. Like all sociopaths, he wanted to control as much as possible right to the very end -- and unfortunately, he succeeded.
Miserable doughnuts notes
Slobo departs for his new job as the Devil's footrest.
Steyne notes
Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in his cell in the Hague, which means his "trial" will presumably come to an end, now that Sloboperry Masonevic isn't around to cross-examine prosecution witnesses into the next decade. Instead, we can move on to a decade-long inquiry into his death.

More cartoons



Iranian cartoons

Here is the funniest Iranian cartoon yet

At last someone is realizing these cartons are suppose to be OFFENSIVE!!!
To me however it is funny to see how some iranian's view the holocaust.
Here is a meaningful cartoon

If you destroy everything your victory will be hollow.

hmm were the cartoonists jewish? I dont think so...

Illegal immigrant's rights

Richard @ Philosophy Et cetera looks at illegal immigrants rights the right of countries like the USA to treat illegal immigrants with less "rights" than citizens.

She does lament a Border Patrol policy which "prioritizes successful border control over the lives of migrants" (by channeling crossing attempts into more dangerous terrain where apprehensions are easier). While I'm sympathetic to her conclusions, an argument here would have been nice. It is not enough to make a simplistic appeal to "human rights", because we are not typically obliged to ensure that people can carry out criminal activities safely. (An electric fence prioritizes security over the comfort of would-be trespassers -- but that's the whole point!)

and then going straight to the heart of many left winger's world view

So: is it legitimate for a state to restrict immigration? Most
left-wingers frown upon the Zionist "invasion" of Palestine. If we
respect Arabian sovereignty, how can we not do the same for the United
States when they're faced with an influx of unwelcome Mexican colonists?
Surely the Mexicans have no greater claim to need or asylum than did
early 20th century Jews!

As with Richard I am sympathetic towards the concept of open boarders (if everyone had them) BUT also see the illogicalness of saying that illegal immigrants must be treated equally to citizens or legal immigrants. After all that just means they wish to deny the right to make immigration illegal in which case they really need to come out and say it!

In general I think that open boarders is one of those things that benefit al countries if they exist (more efficient markets etc) but hurt the first countries to do it because (1) thy get all the people no one else will take and (2) if only a few countries do it their systems are almost certainly not harmonized. That is that why free travel works in the USA and a lesser extent in the EU is because their economies are relatively similar in terms of government policy, laws, economics and so forth.

So until that is the case it is quite rational for individual states to have restrictions on immigrating and surely if there are such restrictions they should be able to enforce them within reason.

Slobodan Milosevic is dead

Slobodan Milosevic is dead, apparently of natural causes. unlike some who see this as a defeat for justice

I think that show trials never offer much justice anyway.

Milosevic's death just put the farce out of its misery.

So while some morn the inability of a group of judges being able to pass verdict on whether Milosevic is guilty or not I am happy to see the baton passed on to the historians and to know that I will never again have to see Milosevic on TV making a mockery of those trying to convict him.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nuclear secrets

No right turn
notes that one of hte old labour governments was involved in helping israel get nuclear weapons. Now I expect there is some defense
for example
Documents show that the decision to sell plutonium to Israel in 1966 was blocked by officials in both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, who said: "It is HMG's policy not to do anything which would assist Israel in the production of nuclear weapons." But the deal was forced through by a Jewish civil servant, Michael Michaels, in Tony Benn's Ministry of Technology, which was responsible for trade in nuclear material, according to Newsnight.

but proliferating nuclear material is a VERY serious thing. the person involved should be at risk of facing very serious charges. There was probably no NPT back in those days but surely giving away the nations most important secrets is worthy of some sort of punishment possibly involving a beach and a single bullet.

Guilty parties seem to be Mr Michaels and possibly Donald Cape and a whole set of nameless people.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ongoing wars

Here is my simple analysis

1) Usually conflicts have a resolution. It is unusual but not unheard of for them to last hundreds of years.
2) Conflict is caused by certain key sectors of society having differences so great that they think they can only solve them with "negative strategies" (for example killing people)
3) Resolution usually occurs when one side's expectations meet the other side’s expectations.

So why do conflicts usually end?
Well it is a naturally unstable situation to have two sides killing each other - it is very tiring, costs lots of money and extremists keep dying. Eventually both sides get tired and see that they are making no progress and move on.

Religion makes the situation worse but the vast majority of them have slowly died down also AND where they exist have a intra country effect which is rather similar (but less stable) to what I’m going to look at.

So the next question is how could such a conflict keep going for hundreds of years despite this self limiting nature of conflict?

Well what if there were huge amounts of money being pumped into the region? If the locals who are fighting don’t need to worry about destroying their own homes or their neighbors because they are guaranteed that they will be able to get more money. Also the flow of money means that it won’t accumulate in the hands of locals since corruption far exceeds productive investment in terms of return it will always be a sort of cash flow coming in through the authorities (influenced by those who fight).
This effect of money is also related to moral support where the usually moral support sapping activity of killing random people (usually even the soldiers themselves start to feel sick of it) is propped up by constant attention of people who push those doing the killing to feel self righteous about it. So these foreign expectations placed upon the locals make "militancy" rewarded and compensate for the negative effects.

Should we give half a million to Hamas?

Donating to countries is good because you can gain influence over other countries and make decisions for them like how you want them to teach in their children (e.g secular or Islamic). The more you donate the more you control their government.

There is no point influencing a good country because they are already doing the right sort of things so leverage is increasingly useful the more evil the country is to start off with, or rather in the absence of your money bribing them to obey your will (more opportunity to improve).

This is even less of a problem of course if it is a single leader and more so if it is more systematic reflection of the views of the population. So therefore donating money to a country is the equivalent of declaring it to be inherently evil. Donating lots of money means you think it is REALLY evil.

Good examples of such effective bribary are pre war (GW I) Iraq, Uzbekistan, Cambodia etc. if bad things have happened in these countries - imagine how bad it would have been WITHOUT extra money!

Regimes such as that in Sudan etc are particularly in need of our millions or billions.

Or maybe mindlessly applying that strategy has some flaws...

Friday, March 03, 2006

I am a New Zealander on the Census

Capitalism bad tree pretty has a post regarding this issue noting that Ethnicity and nationality are different.

The problem here is a diferent confusion of terms. In this case race with ethnicity - ethnicity is "culture" (more or less) I could declare my culture is basically independent of any particular race (and I do). So how do I answer? New Zealander is about as good an answer as you get then.

For example if they want to decide whether to build more Asian shops more KFC or more burger joints in my region it is a stupid question - I would be likely to give them totally the wrong answer because I don't identify with my race at all or share more than the nominal New Zealand level of culture with it.

Two questions then spring to mind
1) Why do they need to know my ethnicity?
2) Are people answering based on ethnicity anyway?

(1) Centers on how the statistics are presumably going to be used for things like "there are twice as many Maori now as before - therefore we must 'support/discriminate against' them." I believe my ethnicity should not count at all in this regard.

(2) If you are Maori and European do you say "Maori and European"? Do you just tick the one you identify with? Do you tick the one that makes up most of your genetic material? Are you really measuring ethnicity?

CBTP suggests that she might use pakeha.
I personally find pakeha to be a silly word. It is using a foreign word to name a group - and it isn't entirely clear what that group is (is it white people? does it include Russians? how about Chinese? Iranians?). All that it is is a nod of the head to maori and their ancestors, rather like maori might give a nod of the head to our ancestors if they called themselves by some old name that captain cook might have made up.

Anyway - fundamentally
A) The group should be named by its own word.
B) If we are talking about ethnicity, the group should have a consistent name around the world - i.e. if english people are "white" in America they must be "white" in NZ (if they share the same ethnicity).