Sunday, November 30, 2008

Al catch'em sends in Pikachu

In a desperate attempt to free up the airport in Bangkok and allow them and their families to be reunited, a group of pokemon collectors threw their best Pokemon Pikachu into the PAD protest.
Meanwhile PAD protesters scattered in fear.

Calls of "thunderbolt attack" could be heard as the daring team sped away in a taxi.

Friday, November 28, 2008

thai take on the election in the USA


LOST. The plot. Last seen somewhere in mid-2005. Please return to once famously easy-going, care-free people of Thailand before it is too late.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thai protests

Word on the street is that PAD is drawing support from the south of Thailand, the Muslim states that want independence (and are willing to do stupid things to achieve it) and busing them in to Bangkok as protesters. In that case no wonder they have lots of knives and guns at their protests. If they are offering some sort of deal to those groups I'm sure the Thai people would like to know. Although it is possible that they are just buying their support like they buy the support of so many of the other protesters.

More on situation in thailand

Thailand's media and foreign news outlets have become key battlegrounds in the country's divisive political conflict.The PAD has repeatedly criticised the foreign media from its stage at Government House — from where proceedings are beamed live to around 10 million viewers of PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul's cable channel ASTV.

The PAD says the foreign media fails to understand Thailand, insists on projecting “Western-style democracy” as the ideal, and has been seduced by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who addressed his “friends in the international media” and pointedly remarked that they were more balanced than the Thai media.

Writing on the New Mandala blog, academic Michael Connors of Australia's La Trobe University said that most overseas commentary had “whitewashed so-called democratic pro-Thaksin forces”. But the foreign media has sent reporters to the north and northeast, where there is more support for Thaksin, while the Bangkok-based Thai media remains almost exclusively focused on the capital, where the PAD has most of its support.

That might have something to do with the fact that the foreign media is not the only target of the PAD.

The daily Kom Chad Luk, which is controlled by the Matichon group, was the only local newspaper — apart from the little-read pro-government Prachatouch — to report Crown Princess Sirindhorn's remark in the United States three weeks ago to the effect that the PAD was fighting not to protect the monarchy as claimed, but for “themselves”.

The PAD responded with a call to boycott the Matichon group, and there was a notable silence from the rest of the Thai print media over this attack on one of their own.

The pro-PAD coverage of events by Thailand's mainstream print media led respected media analyst Supinya Klangnarong to call the current atmosphere one of “fear and uncertainty”.

Also at the FCCT discussion, Supinya noted that it was the foreign media which many Thais had come to rely on for balanced news, while at home “it is very difficult to criticise the PAD, or even the government”. “Under Thaksin, there was fear and self-censorship. Now there is institutionalised censorship on sensitive issues.”

— The Straits Times --

Mortgage defaults in Australia worsen

Mortgage defaults in Australia are worsening and becoming more widespread. According to a new report by ratings agency, Fitch Ratings, Perth is suffering as property prices fall there. The ABC reports the pain is being felt in Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs for the first time.

It's just going to get worse....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thailand vs PAD

the PAD really needs to be put in a room with the door locked and slapped until they see sense.

Now they have taken over the airport, closing the huge pipeline for money to come into the country and thus generally inflicting harm on the country as a whole. Whilst there they appear to have thrown a bomb at themselves (probably some stupid over excited protester) and thus don't want the police to investigate the incident since it would show how stupid some of their supporters are. Meanwhile they cost thousands of thai workers their jobs by disrupting trade at the worst possible time (during hte crisis and coming up to christmas).

The PAD actually want to set up a Fascist state in Thailand, where the brown shirts (which just happen to wear yellow this time) force the democratic government to put in place a government made of appointed members appointed by various interest groups. Ironically it is both not democratic and also highly susceptible to corruption. sure you don't get people buying the votes of poor people with policy and cash (as thaksin did) but that is because you dont need to bribe them, the corrupt people have direct control of the government!

The PAD are becoming les popular and if the government can hold out a litle longer maybe the military will step in on their side and kick the remaining protesters out. But how much damage will they have done in the meantime....

I also have some advise for tourists - dont worry aobut the protests - the protesters wont target foreigners and if you stay away from the protest sites you wil be as safe if not safer than in your home country. it may make traffic really slow so forth, which may be annoying and may cost exta money but safety isn't an issue (as long as you stay away from the guys dressed in yellow, ... no.... it is not a tourist attraction).



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Do Merely Possible People Matter?

Lets say you have a small world with a million people everyone has a small house and there is enough food for everyone.
you have a couple of buttons you can press and you want to know if you are morally obliged to press them

1) the first button immediately creates a million slaves that will make the lives of everyone in the world better but their lives will be miserable.
2) the second button makes half a million people disappear but makes everyone else's life better
3) the third button instantly creates half a million people with average lives at the cost of happiness to the others (they need places to live food etc)

the question is how do you weight the future interests of current people with future people who might or might not exist/continue to exist depending on what buttons you press. I presume most people would choose to press no buttons or press button 3, but neither of those options seems to follow a consistent rule.

I guess Richard would consider pressing button 3 but for an odd reason. Richard argues we DO have reason to bring more good lives into existence, but not for the good of that person but for the good of the world. but that seems silly to me - he is trying to get around allocating value to a non existing person and he does so by adding value to a non existing world? Seems Richard has just confused himself enough to not see the problem remains.

here are a couple even better thought experiments
1) imagine that you have a series of machines that support your brain functions by duplicating them. As time goes by they get more refined until a point where if disc0nected from you they are able to become a independent person. Is it a good thing to create people in this way? does that decision depend on how good a life they would have?
2) imagine a ray gun called the 'never existed ray gun" if you shoot someone with it it doesn't kill them - instead it goes back in time and ensures they never existed. You could thus remove peopel youdont like without 'harming' them in the narrow sense of the word.
3) imagine a gun that if it shoots you changes something small in your past that makes you a fundamentally different person - is it morally bad to use the gun (because it 'kills' real people and replaces them with alternate people.

asking an invalid question again

Here is another example of how philosophers can ask a question that doesn't have any meaning to a scientist
Richard asks What is the ultimate locus of value, or 'end in itself'?
He proposes either
(1) Each particular individual.
(2) The world as a whole.
So in one formulation of this you might ask “do we make people happy in order to make the world a better place or do we make the world a better place in order to make people happy?”
Well to me this sounds like asking does 1+1=2 or does 2=1+1
If your definition if (2) is the sum of all (1) then the question is equivalent to the one above – and makes just as little sense. If that isn't true then we are saying that there is another factor involved like 1+1+x=(2) but there is no sense to saying there is an ultimate locus.

Friday, November 21, 2008

rational but behave irrationally?

Is it possible to be rational but behave irrationally?
Well there are two definitions involved in this sentence- one is the definition of the person and the other is the definition of rational. the latter is quite simple although there is a degree to which one might tolerate irrationality without terming a person "irrational" butthe former surprisingly is a bit more complex.
take for example a person addicted to drugs but doing all the right things to stop. Are they irrational drug takers or are they rationally dealing with a drug problem. Well it depends if you take the "addict" part of their brain to be "them". If you take that as obviously being part of them ask yourself what if your irrationality was caused by a disease in your leg or some drugs you got from your doctor or maybe some family members? What if the root of the problem is a decision you made years ago (for example you would have been a better engineer than a doctor but you studied medicine instead of engineering).
Basically the question of 'who am I" is much more complex than many people (esp the links) give it credit.

Zombie stuff

Richard presents A New Knowledge Argument which apparently strikes him as being really strong...

1. It is a factual question whether you and I experience the same color sensations when looking at an object.
2. This question cannot be settled by any physical information (or scientific inquiry).
3. So there are non-physical facts.

Now there are obviously some questions that cant be settled by physical information, these include things like "what is inside a black hole" or "will the photon go left or right".
In physics we would tend to say, depending on how we want to look at the world "so what? If we can't see the answer that doesn't mean it doesn't exist" or "that shows we are asking the wrong question" (i.e. there is "nothing" in a black hole or the photon goes left in one universe and right in another).

So 3 is a non sequetor and 2 is not something an informed physicalist would deny.

In the comments Michael Vassar raises the issue that
scientific inquiry can ... settle the question of whether Mary and I perceive the same thing when we see red with at least the same level of confidence that it settles the question of whether my perception of "red" today is the same as that of "red" yesterday

But I think there is more to this line of argument. I can propose a bridging law that has no other effect between any two facts or add a factor that has no effect into any process.
e.g. 1+1+god = 2+god
and that is impossible to disprove.

the point is that if we accept (2) for the reasons Richard wants us to do so then we admit that we cant say much useful using this language because we can never make any sort of useful identity statement because we can never exclude the possibility of a bridging law between the two facts.

Richard counters with the question begging argument that this situation is different "because third-personal inquiry isn't even heading in the right direction." Oh come on...

he then seems to summarize much of physicalism with
he only response I can immediately think of is the 'old fact new guise' response, which claims that the phenomenal fact mentioned in #1 is actually identical to some physical fact, albeit in a new (hence unrecognized) guise. But which physical fact is it? I find this claim very mysterious.

but to claim that colour can be represented in a different way that can be tied to other facts in the universe (and thus described in different terms) is basically what physicalism is. - he seems to be saying "I find physicalism mysterious" well... so what?

Meanwhile Richard and Anton are debating physicalism over here

Hmm.... I obviously think about zombies to much...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Selling papers

I wish the media would stop using terms like "the greens LASHED OUT at national's plans" or "labour REFUTED national's claims"

The problem is that the media seems to pick these terms at random and yet they have very different connotations. In fact the later statement is usually untrue. To me refute means you have unambiguously proven incorrect, but generally the media uses it to mean "they presented a counter argument". And in the "lashed out" case the politicians probably just released to the media a letter explaining some issues. Hardly the imagery 'lashed out' presents.

Why not just say - Labour presented its counter arguments or the greens explained their issues with national's plans?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good start

National is of to a god start - as No Right Turn notes: treating us like adults by changing their minds and admitting they are doing that.

Sensible people change their minds when they are wrong, and admit their mistakes. And I'm glad that Key has done so and recognised the very definite strengths of the loose coalition model. It would be nice if more politicians followed his lead, treated us like adults, and told us when they'd changed their minds - and why.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NZ election results in an alternate world

Graeme Edgeler has calculated what Parliament would look like if there was no 5% threshold.

New Zealand National Party - 55 seats
New Zealand Labour Party - 41 seats
The Greens - 8 seats
New Zealand First Party - 5 seats
Māori Party - 5 seats
Act New Zealand - 4 seats
Jim Anderton’s Progressive - 1 seat
United Future New Zealand - 1 seat
The Kiwi Party - 1 seat
The Bill and Ben Party - 1 seat

You need 62 seats to be Government with hte overhang. So...

National 55 + ACT 4 + United Future 1 + Kiwi Party 1 = 61/122

Labour 41 + Greens 8 + NZ First 5 + Progressive 1 + Maori 5 = 60/122

And we are left with Bill from the Bill and Ben party (a joke party started up by two tv comedians). Classy.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Labour looses

Well National/ACT and maybe the Maori party have won the election.

New Zealand is a liberal country and the Labour party had a big advantage. So Big that after one of the worst campaigns ever they still come within a few percentage points of being able to form a government.
So how did they loose?

1) the anti smacking bill
parties need to know that the electorate forgets some things in the voting booth but others it doesn't forget - this is one of the things it doesn't forget. Parents are reminded of this issue every day. Not that it matters - but I don't smack the child in my photo.

2) Strategy of attacking Key
If you have a neutron bomb this can be a good strategy - but they didn't and they should have known it. If you have nothing of substance then al this does is advertise the other leader and help the public get to know that he DOESN'T have any evil secrets. It also resulted in them puting out ads like this. What a irritating add.

This has a secondary problme if allowing national to look like it hasa vision and Labour to look like at best a protest party against National. I note that some people I know just stayed home because they could not find a party to vote for.

3) keeping Winston on side
Now Helen didn't need to sack Winston, she didn't need to do much at all except to not stitch up the privileges committee and not to go out of her way to defend him. That is unless he WAS blackmailing her.
It was going overboard on defending Winston that brought Owen glen back to NZ and actually sunk Winston's boat.

4) the electoral finance act
If you are going to design a law like this it needs to be very well designed. Instead we had hundreds of amendments and it had parts that looked like they were specifically designed to keep a labour party in power.

5) Getting strategy wrong where it mattered
Its hard for labour to throw maori seats or to suggest some people vote for winston - because there would be internal political costs but some slightly less subtle hints / dog whistles could have been put out to get winston over 5% (he only needed another .7%) and to throw another maori seat or two. Or they could have tried the opposite strategy of trying to wipe winston out. This could be via more asertations he doesn't have a show of helping labour much earlier.

6) Kees Keiser
the tape scandal was good for one release - but to drip feed it to the public lets us wise up to the fact that we are being manipulated.

7) Mike Williams
he is the president of the labour party. he is effective in many ways - but no one likes him - so you should hide him under the bed somwhere during a political campaign.

Also picking the good bits from Whoar
they also failed in selling michael cullen as the person to guide us through the upcoming economic shit-storms..
a slightly risky strategy but better than just attacking key.
and in the vein of some of my points
..that ‘bomb’ has been spoken of for months..why the fuck wasn’t it checked out..?
..clark/ their focus on key..also failed to expose the williamsons/smiths/mccullys..

What I don't think is a meaningful reason is the following
Dr Raymond Miller says
Labour lost because experience proved less appealing than the mood for change.
That just begs the question why thee was a mood for change and why the public did not choose experience over it. Simple answer is that Labour seriously annoyed a lot of people. Why they overlooked experience was because the national team doesn't strike the public as a weak team for a financial crisis.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

TV1 Election debate

I would like to say that this debate was vastly better than the debate hosted by John Campbell. Now I really like John but Mark Sainsbury has blown him out of the water with this debate. Mark drew out all sorts of interesting issues here with great questions like whether Helen Clark has ever changed her opinion based on evidence (i.e. a flip-flop) , a hospital pass that I think Helen fumbled.

We got to know the leaders a bit better and they were cornered into positions where they either conspicuously avoided the question or were forced to make tough calls - like when Key was asked if he was able to make tough calls that were unpopular and when he talked about the environment.