Friday, July 27, 2007

Ill will

vfrom capitalism bad tree pretty
I have a new favourite Christmas song. I'm not sure what my old favourite Christmas song was, but there's no way it can be as awesome as Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher from Billy Elliot: The Musical. This is the chorus:

So merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
'Cause it's one day closer to your death

this sort of sentiment and those that support it makes me imagine a bunch of christians at a table saying "lets kill all the sinners and then the world will be a much better place."

my dad always used to say "never wish for anyone's death". It was a athiestic form of "hate the sin and not the sinner".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No terrorism here

a total of zero people have been found in NZ engaging in terrorist activities at least in as far as they would have been charged uner the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Looks like NZ is a pretty safe place. Rich americans - feel free to come here with your dollars.

Monday, July 23, 2007

NZ dollar breaks 81c

90c here we come!
maybe in 1 month?
depending on if the reserve bank is predictable and raises interest rates again.

David Benson-Pope

bottom line he is a liability to labour. helen clark should fire him for that reason alone. Helen - show us that old ruthless leader that we all know and love.
As to what happened - it sounds like a bit of a beat up - the office highlighted somthing that potentially should have been taken into account already, and then it was taken into account and settled amicably...

The Doomsday argument

disclaimer.... I will quote liberally from the wikipedia article

"The Doomsday argument (DA)

is a probabilistic argument that says that supposing the 'humans' alive today are in a random place in the whole 'human' history timeline, chances are we are about halfway thought it."

Now this methodology appears to work ok for a number of variables (like the length of time a Broadway show will run). So it has some validity at its face. It takes the form of

"we could assume that we could be 95% certain that we would be within the last 95% of all the humans ever to be born."

One big question is what variable should we use in place of 'human' - if there is not a clear variable to use there the argument looses its force.

the main options seem to be

1) Life
this changes depending on if life exists elsewhere in the universe - and if it is reasonable to think that it does it gives a very far off doomsday date vastly greater than 8 million.

2) Sentient beings (this is the set of beings able to contemplate the question)
This gives a closer dooms day date than the above but still potentially very distant depending on the probability of aliens. Given the logic we are using it would be reasonable at least to assume every galaxy had at least one sentient being!

3) Humans
this is relevant since we already know we are human and appear to be debating HUMAN extinction. It gives about 95% chance humans become extinct in next 5000 years. However - this depends on the definition of human also if immortality becomes common, and the birth rate drops to zero, dooms day could be pushed to infinity. However what is ‘human extinction? do we include instances of humans becoming Cyborgs?

4) Instants of human existence
This is probably even better than the above since you are 'a human considering this problem at this instant. This may be the best because this is the most clearly defined and well known fact you have. It gives about 95% chance humans die in next 4560 years.

5) Humans who have considered the doomsday argument
this presumably gives a shorter doomsday <4560 yrs
It also creates an interesting debate over if carter (who proposed the idea) should have rejected it by his own logic!

6) Instances of consideration of the doomsday argument

7) Intensity of consciousness (mine)
i.e. you are more likely to be a more conscious person. This implies there are limits on how far we might progress and in a sense is a compliment to our own intelligence (i.e. it is greater odds that we are ‘smart’, or at least more conscious than the mean.

8) Time
I think this is what the original carter theory used lengthens the date of reckoning by ignoring the increase in population. It gives about 95% chance humans die in next 7.8 million years. However I cant see why a unit of time is a valid unit of measure

9) Probability of atomic destruction
this limits the set to post invention of the bomb populations - this is considerably more arbitrary than time.

We can however also question whether ‘we are missing relevant data. For example
if we apply similar logic to extinctions of a dominant species we can say that this happens less often than once in a million years. Therefore, it is argued that Human extinction is unlikely within the next ten millennia.
This uses time (which seems a little less fundamental than ‘humans’) and adds extra knowledge apparently selectively (e.g. the extinction timeframe) which exposes it to being seen as biased.

One valid counter is that in Doomsday Argument is that the expected total human population is actually infinite. We can combine this with a multi universe model and a touch of the anthropological principle and say that we would probably inhabit the world where there is an infinite number of people as long as there is a finite possibility of there being a infinite number of people.

“One objection is that the possibility of you existing at all depends on how many humans will ever exist (N). If this is a high number, then the possibility of you existing is higher than if only a few humans will ever exist.”

Counter to that is to say ‘well obviously the distribution is not entirely flat – it is just a reasonable assumption over normal numbers’. Which is a nice out.

Some argue "if each finite value of total population size is realized in a different future, then learning of our present position from the beginning of the human race does not change our prior belief about which particular total population size we will find ourselves experiencing in one of humanity's many futures (assuming that versions of us live long enough to see versions of Doomsday)."

But surely it does... because in the many worlds argument all options are not equally probable.
Finally there is the argument “this makes an unwarranted assumption: that humanity's extinction is inevitable.”

But I would be inclined to reject that too on entropy grounds.

Basically there are two extremes on a continum - one is to say "i assume only the most basic information - eg that we exist at a certain time and that we have no reasonh to think we are special" and hte other is to take on as much information as posible. the former results in you ignoring a lot of relevant information but the latter exposes ou to a huge amount of bias. the above uses the former logic.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Evolution of religion

presumably at first there was no religion. then some dude proclaimed himself to be a wizard (a superman) and then someone moved to calling themselves a god. This helped them to get women but it also helped their tribe to fight harder and longer and with more confidence and co-ordination.

that didn’t last long (since they died) but others used the better strategy of referring to a "tree god" or "snake god" or "lion god" however they can die - so they got trumped when people started talking about "sun gods" (stronger gods!).
then you create a Hindu type system as tribes come together each not wanting to deny the others religion entirely. that however then slowly reverts back into a single god system when it develops a complex holy book that lays out everything Or into a Buddhism type of religion if the last god gets caught too.

Within that those religions which offer mystical episodes like Baptists and meditation Buddhists replace the more nominal versions when there is enough learned peopel to teach how to enter those states.

At the same time the religions tend to need to retreat from their more ambitious claims as science advances. so the first "gods" claim to have the power to do anything themselves. later versions talk about gods that move in mysterious ways without any specific claims about the future or past or the specific effect of anything.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quick comments

Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill

I am with I/S on this one - it is a victory for stupidity. Healthcare medicine is he wild west. I know of product which if it actually had the ingredients that it says it has would kill you in minutes. It did not of course but the fact that it was actually sold in NZ says something in itself. Others have long term side effects that aren't clear in the advertising.

parliament goes live and satire
I am concerned that parliament will be televised although I will try to watch some. I think that it may promote bad behavior. When did media coverage ever promote good behavior? If it did Paris would be an angel. What it seems to do is lower our expectations of politicians and encourage them to waste time playing to the media and trying to get sound bites.
I also am one of the few people who support the anti satire house rules. This is because the informative content of our media is pretty damn low. I really don’t want to know if a politician picked his nose. And the fact that he is supposed to stay awake through hours of puff questions asking how lovely the government is and being responded to with “yes we are lovely” is really quite ridiculous. Let the poor chaps have a nap. Frankly let them go home and watch the debate on the internet with a nice cup of coco for all the value they add. More fool us if we think that every MP is required to be in the chamber and fully awake for such entertainment.

as to national's position on this Jordan has a good point about it being just politics.

the polls are still showing national well ahead of labor although I expect Key will be a weak finisher. His weakness on .. well policy... already annoys me and may annoy others as one comes closer to the election.

David Farrar keeps banging the failure to deliver on 20 hrs free education wagon. this seems like a bit of a cheap shot if you don’t actually support 20 hrs free education. after all any movement in the direction you want is a good thing right? and anyone who actually supports 20 hrs free education should really hate the guy who opposes it much more than the person who supports it but fails to deliver. I guess if our education system is decent I support it - education being one of the tax investments that tends to pay off in the long run.

the kiwi dollar continues to rise. the issue here seems to be fairly fundamental - its a great idea to borrow overseas and buy nz dollars for the higher interest rates you can get with them. So what to do? well obviously you need to use more tools than just interest rates - again what is funny here is that national complains and the only thing they come up with as a solution is to reduce the rate of government spending increases. that’s a pretty slow and weak little tool they are proposing there.
At least labour has actually proposed some solutions to inflation besides interest rate controls - while national seems to just reject everything.

NZherald and national (OMG) are both in favour of local bodies coming together.. I hope national gets more traction than labour...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

oil and australia

if resurce security is the reason why austrlaia is in iraq then they clearly have no idea what they are doing and should be sacked.

1) they cannot occupy iraq forever - do they think they are making friends there?
2) Anyway, has no one noticed iraq doesnt have all the world's oil its no good making friends with iraq if you've made enemies with everyone else who has oil
3) austrlaia doesnt have big oil companies like haliburton it can put in charge of iraqi oil.
4)generally speaking its cheeper to buy oil on the market than to send an army to a country defeat it and occupy it and then take its oil. Why not just sign an exclusive contract and pay them a billion extra.. that would be much cheeper.

Having said that no right turn notes

"a presumption that a country's natural resources are not theirs to exploit in any way they see fit"

well er its not like the left including NRT are not already sugesting we should put restrictions on how people can use oil. Sure he wouldn't invade a country - but then again we arent talking about invading here - more like "dubious peace keeping".

Monday, July 02, 2007


Noright turn points out that national might cut or means test superanuation payments. He highlights that this as a dangerous Neo-Liberal policy.

the strange thing is that the left seems to forget here is that on average old people are NOT poor. Having non means tested superanuation is like having a bonus for white people - sure there are SOME people it helps but on the whole you are targeting a not particularly needy group out of tax from more needy groups.


Global warming

No right turn complains about Bush's ideas regarding blocking the sun (as opposed to the air conditioner idea which is the main story!)

What the US is doing in this context may be an attempt to push their own interests but the bottom line is that they are right. Kyoto WILL fail in it's current form (it is fundamental to it's nature) and even if it was reformed to work perfectly and result in a rapid decline of carbon emissions to 0 then it would STILL result in global warming, and a certain percentage chance in catastrophic global warming. you would want an ace up your sleeve to deal with that.

Now reflecting sun light sounds expensive and technologically difficult - but I can already think of some ideas that would be hugely less so than kyoto (on a apparent cost basis - of course if both save the planet they have a negitive net present cost). The downside of course is the fairly unpredictable environmental effects of the easiest solutions (e.g. pumping rare chemicals into the air) but that might not be true for others.

The problem is if one side is proposing valid ideas to distract and the other is denying those ideas are valid to maintain focus then both sides seem to think that the public are significantly more stupid than them.