Thursday, November 30, 2006

Domestic Violence is Funny

Watch this video. I laughed. Then I imagined they were women in the video.

Men do suffer from domestic violence and laughing at it might not be the best way to stop it happening. The Whole Truth About Domestic Violence Philip W. Cook

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Expert Mistakes

World Chess champion Kramnik just lost a game to checkmate. This never happens to players anywhere near as good as he is. So what happens when experts make mistakes that are this glaring? This is not just a chess issue, these sorts of mistakes are made by programmers, pilots, doctors and other people who can end up killing you.
This article describes how Kramnik probably missed the move because of a phenonomen called chunking. This is where experts in a particular area pick up patterns that reduce the complexity of a situation based on their previous experiences.
"Simon and Chase came to the conclusion that higher-ranked players use a form of chunking, or pattern-matching, that allows them to rapidly encode macro features of the positions."

So next time you hear car crash statistics somewhere after drink and tiredness there should be a section for "things that were so weird the drivers brain ignored it". But you are not going to see police checks for that.

Would you donate your breathing body to science?

Drug development is delayed due to a lack of human test subjects. Before a drug can be tested on people it has to go through over a decade of tests on animals. Even after all these animal tests things can still go wrong. Due to differences in animal and human physiology these animal experiments are not particularly effective but they are the best we currently have.

If I get hit by a bus tomorrow I will likely be put on a ventilator and at some point later they will unplug me and take my organs and put them in various other people in a fairly cannibalistic process. This happens because it is judged that I am no longer alive as a conscious entity and that unable to carry out basic functions, like breathing, for myself I lose the rights that come along with human life.

So if it is ok to harvest coma victims for organs that might save up to a dozen lives why not test drugs on them that could save millions? What is morally different in these two conversations

Doctor: I am afraid David is dead.

A) We would like to put his liver into an alcoholic

B) We would like to test AIDS vaccines on him for the next 6 months

People donate their body to science all the time. I was once at a funeral of someone who had died two years earlier. So why does your body have to be not breathing when you donate it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Multitask Jobs

I had to get a new lock on Saturday. Why do locksmiths and shoe repair go together? What radioactive animal bites you that gives you such seemingly unrelated talents? Why do other professions not have this amazing multitasking? Barber surgeons have been stopped a while ago. I think going in and asking for a short back and sides and an appendectomy would be kinda cool though. Video retailing and skin cancer seem to now be intertwined, any other careers I am missing?

I have a friend who is a safe cracker, yeah how cool a job is that? I once asked him if he could fix my shoes. He could not explain the interconnectedness of the two professions. I think we should make everyone have two jobs

Ice cream men & physicists. I kinda like the idea of a half Mr Whippy van half particle accelerator driving around bringing refreshment and knowledge to mankind.

Crazy homeless person & customer service. May already be happening , but cause or effect?

Celebrity actor & worlds leading authority on everything. Nice going Film Actors Guild.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pluto Goes Postal

Astronomers have launched a sky wide hunt for Pluto after recent observations have found it has not stayed on its designated orbit. Authorities have warned the ex planet Pluto may have become angry about being demoted and could seek revenge on those he blames for his perceived loss of status. The recently fired rock mass has left his Kuiper belt home and is believed to be headed towards earth to seek revenge for his dismissal.

A source known to be formerly close to the disgruntled rock is quoted as saying "He has been freezing about out here for 70 years and then he hears over the news that he has been fired, you can understand his anger".

Astronomers organizations attempted to make their position clear. A spokesman said “We demoted Pluto to a non planet just so we could declare it best place ever and king of the solar system in our new “coolest things in the universe” prize ceremony, no not king of the solar system of the universe that’s right. There is no need for Pluto to attend the ceremony as its fabulous prize has already lifted off and is on its way back to where Pluto’s orbit was. And if that’s not a good place for it we could recommend a nice orbital path near Jupiter”.

In an unrelated statement they did say “Now is an ideal time for us to start manned exploration of the solar system. All of our members undertake to take such a journey immediately. Oh if you see a giant sphere asking for us you have not seen us, ok?”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Save the world, win prizes

So there is a big meteorite heading towards earth. It is the size of the sugar loaf mountain and will hit in 10 years. What do you do?

Marks will be given for the stupidity of the idea.

Already thought of

  1. Ion drive to gently push it
  2. Paint it. Light pushes dark areas more and so changes the course

My entries

  1. A trebuchet like device that throws rocks off
  2. Bacteria that eat the thing
  3. Will it burn if ignited hot enough? “The iron content is more than 91% and the nickel content near 8%. There are also traces of cobalt and phosphorus.”

1. Catapult matter off the meteorite and by Newton’s laws the path of the meteorite will change.

2. Eat it. It is probably made from iron or some such metal. Plenty of bacteria love eating the stuff. They tend to like hot temperatures though. Extremophiles for low temperatures and no oxygen do exist but they tend not work quickly.

Ok so please comment with your idea to save the world

Who would Jesus hang out with?

First off he obviously would not be hanging out with priests and politicians but with the same scrubbers he used to. Prostitutes and lepers were his main buddies. He was also a fan of tax collectors who were despised at the time as any society despises those they need but also hate, I figure road clampers would be the modern equivalent. It is kind of hard to imagine Jesus returned as a vigilante traffic warden though.

The other weird thing is how religious people would react. Dawkins pints out that a fundamentalist scientific atheist cannot exist because if confronted by evidence they have to change there beliefs. Fundamentalist religious people will disregard any evidence that contradicts their belief.

So imagine Jesus arrives back and starts doing all the party tricks that you do not see anymore. Back in the day 100 square kilometers of desert seemed to be wall to wall miracles nowadays you do not even get one amputee healed. Seems to be a similar problem with Bigfoot aliens and ghosts, they are scared of camera phones and that is why no one ever gets pictures of them.

Eventually Jesus either passes the Randi test or does something so miraculous that all the atheists except that he is God.

What do the religious people say?

First the Christians, If Jesus is quite happy with homosexuals and volunteers in an abortion clinic I would bet they will decide this is not really God in spite of any evidence.

How about the Muslims? First paparazzi shots of Jesus eating a pork chop and he will be denounced as a false god and fatwaed.

So Jesus comes back and starts hanging round with all the low life’s he used to. He would probably be better off hanging with atheists on the grounds they are unlikely to take umbrage at him not being holy in the exact way they expect him to be. First chance religious people get they will be down to the hardware store for some lumber and nails. So how about a t-shirt line for atheists who would be unwilling to nail deity's to trees?

Pirate Parties

I have always believed that speaking like a pirate for 15 minutes is the cure for all bad moods. I had even thought of writing a self help book but the geniuses at International Speak Like a Pirate Day came up with a better way to spread the idea.

I have been having second pirate related thoughts recently. How humorous is it to pretend to be a murderer and a rapist? Imagine international speak like a serial killer day.

A friend reminded me of the therapeutic effects of wandering around talking like someone with scurvy.

He also informed me that we are not actually pretending to be pirates just talking nonsense. “This has been accounted for! The fine fellows over at International Speak Like a Pirate Day make it as clear as I could; real pirates suck ass. The pirates we emulate in our modern day are wonderfully neutered by our civilised sensibilities, naught but an excuse to swill grog and have fun.“

Monday, November 20, 2006

American software patents are child's play

Two children Alice and Bob are going to split muffins between them.

They want to be equally happy when all the muffins are divided.

The muffins Alice wants more she takes and Bob takes the ones he wants more.

When they are equally happy they stop.

Otherwise the happier person gives the unhappier person a muffin. This is the muffin they want least in comparison to the other person.

If giving a whole muffin over will make the receiver happier then the giver the giver gives the portion of the muffin that makes them equally happy.

This is software patent 5983205

The Breeders

When did men become just sperm donors?

“The fact is that once Thomas Roche had fertilised the egg, his work was done. Once he had made his contribution to the process, he was surplus to requirements.”

We really should just post it in and get out of the way, invest in turkey baister stocks now.

Researchers have long known how important it is for mothers to talk to their babies.”

They always assumed that the dad just grunted occasionally at children. Really do dads actually play a role in childrens development ?I thought men disobeyed the second law of thermodynamics and were in fact completely impossible for a child to detect once we became fathers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quiz Night
I went to a table quiz Friday. I was greeted when I got there with news so hideous would freeze the piss in your bladder. I had been taken to a Fianna Fail fundraiser....
For the non Irish Fianna Fail are a populist party with no particular political viewpoint. They had heald office in Ireland lke no other party has in a democracy, except perhaps in Mexico.
Anyway the table quize was normal enough except that half the points went to a family fortunes round. In this you have to guess what other people will name in response to a question. So a typical question is "We asked 100 people to name a green vegitable" and you have to name the most popular 5 responses.
I thought this was telling about Fianna Fail because the quiz unlike any other I had ever attended was not about truth and knowledge but about pandering to popularity. Truth was not important but going along with the crowd was.
Also 100 people were not surveyed, that was a lie. Not only was the questioning based on popularity but it was false popularity. Trying to be all things to all men is bad but claiming you are that when you are just making up your own answers is worse.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Phoning Home

In anticryptography Brian McConnell discusses the possibility of communicating with an alien civilisation through computer code. In order to communicate with aliens a small set of programming instructions are first thought to the aliens by means of positive and negative examples. These instructions can then be used to produce output that displays a picture or some other message that conveys a message to the alien viewer. What could the assumptions he makes about programming tell an alien about us?

The use of variables and so the introduction of side effects may indicate to aliens that we do not really care what we leave lying around.

All computations consume energy but computations that do not destroy information use up arbitrarily low amounts of information. By sending non reversible computations we are indicating that we think we are important enough to waste the aliens energy figuring out what we have to say.

The proposed program languages make no mention of distributing the computation. This would seem to indicate a certain selfishness on our behalves. Why would we assume no one would be willing to help perform a computation?

What balance should be struck between speed of computation, shortness of program and simplicity of the program code? The last two are similar in that simple programs tend to be elegant, however many simple programs have long run times. What does our decisions on how to balance these opposing factors say about us?

What we say to aliens for instance why we sent them prime numbers rather then some other numeric sequence is interesting. However how we say something is also important.

Moron Tax

My health insurance cover complimentary medicine . This means that some of my fees goes to pay for "Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of healing), homeopathy, naturopathy". Why should I have to pay for any medical care that is not proven to work?
In paying for health insurance that pays for medicines with no medical effects I am sponsoring irrationality. The root cause of most of the ills of society is our endless ability to bullshit ourselves. One form of bullshitting is using medical treatments that do not work.

Now these therapies are frequently shown to have a beneficial effect in the same way as other placebos do. Just because a large number of people believe they will work and convince themselves they are working does not mean I should have to pay for it however. If it did exorcism should also be available and alien abduction could be prescribed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Out Drank again
There is actually another version of the Columbo drinking game.
Which is vastly superior to mine.
Oddly we came up with fairly similar rules.
Columbos wife plays a vital role in each game. The inherent stalkerness of Columbo.
I think his game wins on social awkwardness, being amazed at technology and such.

I had my car window broken into for the second time in two months this weekend. I was angry and vexed all day then a friend told me how her mum is going for chemo next week. So chagrined I will shut my whining cake hole and try keep things in perspective.

Bastiat and your job

There is a story about how one should not punish a child who breaks a window as this action gives the glazer some money and so keeps the economy going. This is Bastiat’s “Parable of the broken window” The fallacy of this argument is that without replacing the glass I would get to spend that money on something else. This something could actually contribute to the world rather then just replace something that already existed. When a politician says money spent on hurricane r earthquake renewal they are making this mistake.

In the film the man in the white suit Alec Guinness invents a suit that never needs to be cleaned and never wears. This results in no one ever buying clothes again and so unemployment increasing. In reality people would just spend there clothes money on other things and the increased efficiency would benefit people.

How many of us are engaged in window replacement jobs? Jobs in which in an ideal world would not exist in anything like the amount they currently do.

My job in computer security is based on the ignorance, stupidity and criminal greed of others. I am in a sense a window glazer, police are similar, even doctors to a large extend are employed due to our refusal to live healthily.

I am not saying were all ambulance chasers but in a perfect world would your job exist? Non Keynesian economic theory suggests we would have better more productive jobs. Say I would program computers to actually do something useful, something that actually increase the production in society rather then preventing the loss of rights..

Many of us exist in a strange symbiotic relationship with scumbags who go around breaking glass. I think it is important to admit this and to say “In a perfect world this job would not exist and I would be off doing job X. However the world is not perfect and as long as this glass breaker exists someone needs to go around fixing the glass”.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Biscuit Taxonomy Explained

It has been a cause of insomnia for weeks but finally the tree of biscuit taxonomy makes sense again. See the platypus of the biscuit family is the Jaffa cake. It sticks out more then any pink wafer as the black sheep of the family. Why does it claim to be a cake, if it is a cake why is it in the biscuit isle?

Anyway after many sleepless nights the issue has been resolved. It is a tax dodge.

“Yes the VAT man wanted it to be a biscuit. That way it would fall by virtue of its chocolate coat into a category of products liable to VAT at the standard rate, i.e. luxury biscuits. As a cake however it is zero rated for VAT, no matter how luxuriant, much to the VAT man’s continuing annoyance. In fact Wifey and I once had a chat with ex Tory Minister John Knott who brought in VAT when the Conservative Government of the time took Britain into the Common Market. He recalled that the whole VAT introduction went surprisingly well expect for the Jaffa cake which caused all sorts of problems. In 1991 the matter went to a tribunal (number 6344 in case you were wondering) in which the VAT man argued that the Jaffa wasn’t a cake and so should not be exempt from VAT (VATA 1983 Sch 5 Group 1 excepted item 2), trotting out all the old arguments. McVities countered with all of the other old arguments plus a specially prepared 12 inch Jaffa Cake, which focused the tribunal’s attention on the sponge base. The tribunal concluded that, while the product also had characteristics of biscuits or confectionery which was not cake, it had sufficient characteristics of cakes to be a cake for the purposes of zero-rating. (The tribunal also determined that the product was not a biscuit.)”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jail the ham burglar for life

Imagine if McDonalds persuaded us that the ham burglar was an arch terrorist. That we had so spend billions of dollars and jail anyone who got hamburgers not from them. After a while we would wonder why are all our police, prisons and courts being taken up with trying to reduce competition in the fast food industry.

However when doctor prescribes and a pharmacists sell diamorphine, ritalin or any of a truckload of benzodiazepines that keeps granny nice and quiet we buy them a holiday home. If anyone else doles out heroin, speed or downers we jail them.

Szasz put it this way

I don't know if the average person on Main Street realizes that if a 30-year-old man has a pocketful of Ritalin, he can go to jail for years. This is called "speed." And this is what they give as a treatment to schoolchildren when there's absolutely no laboratory or medical evidence that they are sick.”


Irish Hypocrisy

We have all the usual hypocrisies. For example we allow free speech as long as you are not dumb enough to actually try it. However there is a form of hypocrisy that seems to me very Irish. We are willing to stand up for our beliefs as long as we do not have to take any of the consequences of those beliefs

No Nuclear power

We get power from the French and the British grids they do not separate out electrons based on what station produced them

No abortion

We just head over to England. Aer Lingus would probably have gone bankrupt in the 80’s were it not for women travelling to Britain for abortions. The staffs of Aer Lingus get shares for what they have done to make the company successful how come the abortion clinics of Britain do not get some sort of share payment?

We are neutral

Genuinely neutral countries need armies because they have to look after themselves. We have one of the lowest % of GDP spending on armed forces in the world[1]. Switzerland a country of 50% greater population spends four times as much as we do. Qatar spends more then we do on military spending. This is because we expect Britain to come in and save us should we ever be invaded.


Homemade ventilator

There was a Horizon program about flu pandemics on last night. They seem to come along about every 40 years and vary between a very bad flu season and killing 2% of the population.
One of the points made by the program was that ventilators can save lives in flu patients but that there is no excess capacity of ventilators as would be needed for a pandemic.
So could you make up a ventilator? Our lungs tidal volume is about 500ml[1]. We breath 12 times a minute. Air has to be pushed into your lungs but exhalation is passive.

So could you design a homemade ventilator, they seem like just a timed pump and a release valve to me? Other factors such as nursing levels are important but fundamentally without something to breath for them while they fight the illness many flu victims will die.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Naked Calendars

What is with all the naked calendars? There seems to be more naked people in calendars then people[1]. So why not take things one stage further. How about a calendar of internal shots? Each month is someones insides. Anyone had an appendectomy recently? That would make a great January shot.

All we need now is an endoscope. Any volunteers for being on the receiving end? No one is taking that route with me.


Spite and reproduction: should we allow terrorist blogs and dating sites?

I argue here that discussion of terrorist beliefs should be encouraged. I want to show that discussion of fundamentalist and even violent beliefs could actually reduce the incidences of violent acts.

The behaviours of animals fall into 4 categories

  1. Selfish- help me and probably hurts you
  2. Altruistic – hurts me but helps someone else
  3. Cooperative- helps me and helps you
  4. Spiteful- hurts me and hurts you

Spite has only been seen in social insects. All other proposed spiteful behaviours can be explained in terms of delayed advantages to sexual fitness or reduced competition. Social insects such as worker ants engage in spiteful actions. Even though they cannot breed they carry out actions that harm themselves in order to harm others. So for example the red fire ant will kill larval queens that do not share a gene that it has. This example illustrates how spite occurs when a negative relation exists [2]. So harming a competing allele in the gene pool increases the population of the allele the spiter has even if the spiter cannot themselves reproduce.

So how does this affect terrorists? Suicide bombing seems a pretty illogical action. However in cases where your family are rewarded after your death such an action can be seen as altruism. Your loss of ability to reproduce is compensated by increasing your familys reproductive success and thus your genes chances of being passed on.

If your family will not be rewarded for your actions could spite be an explanation? Are suicide bombers killing themselves in order not to spread Islams views but to harm the views those they attack are trying to spread? Instead of alleles here competition is between memes. If I am capable of spreading a meme through argument or preaching it is not in the memes interest to have me kill myself. So in the same way the reproductively fit animals do not engage in spite mimetically reproductive animals should not engage in it either. So for instance no one expects that one armed preacher in the UK to kill himself[3], such people just persuade the young and disaffected to die for a cause.

Even if you do not believe in memes simple reproductive ability seems to play a role in suicide bombing. The promises of virgins in the afterlife is directed advertisement at the sexually unsuccessful in this life. Research has pointed out a correlation between lack of sexual options and increased violence in a society[6] "When single young men congregate, the potential for more organised aggression is likely to increase substantially and this has worrying implications for organised crime and terrorism,".

So if a person is memetically or physically reproductive, if they feel there is some hope there ideals or genes will be spread will spiteful behaviour be eliminated? If the young disaffected have a voice or a girlfriend will this stop suicide bombings? In Bowling for Columbine where Maryln Manson says he would have listened to the columbine shooters[4,5] was he correct? Spite only occurs in non reproductive animals, is the same thing happening in humans?







Sunday, November 05, 2006

Buying Condoms in Ireland

Why is it so difficult?

My local Superquinn supermarket does not sell them. This is because the guys who owns it likes nothing more then barebacking with crack whores. When they ask him to wear one he can just say "sorry I only buy from Superquinn and we do not sell them because..."

I was driving through Ireland recently and had to stop in four shops before I found them. In Swanlinbar the pharmacies did not stock them. If you had mange they had a host of items for you. Even having mastitis seemed more socially acceptable. There was a veritable smorgasbord of items to help with fluke but if you wanted to have a bit of jiggery pokery you were out of luck.

There did not seem to be a lot of people in Swanlinbar which lead me to the belief that lack of condoms was not to prevent contraception. The bizarrely veterinary themed pharmacies lead me to believe that more rural methods of procreation had taken over.

Secret sources have revealed to me that the plain people of rural Ireland have desisted from having sex. Instead an AI man comes round once a year with a turkey baister of Michael Flatley's seamen. This is squeezed from him every morning. There is a vacancy in the position of Flatley wanker that if you wish to apply for just send an email to this address In order to qualify for this job you should be able to get a pig off in under a minute, use of your mouth is allowed.

What super race of fleet footed dancing geniuses will result from such a mass experiment in "The Boys from Brazil" like eugenics?