Monday, December 31, 2012


Form Paul Sheehan at The Sydney Morning Herald:

We cannot slow down and it is at our peril

"The future is accelerating. It is racing towards us faster than ever in our collective lives. How can that be known, you must ask, given that the future hasn't happened yet. It hasn't happened but a long-term pattern of accelerating life-cycles of societies is established.
''This is a deep trend of history,'' writes a futurologist, Michael Lee, in a new book, Knowing Our Future. ''It would be foolish to believe this [deep trend] can be easily reversed … Civilisations have life cycles, too, and their durations are shrinking over time.
''The lifespan of socio-political empires averaged 2000 years for a period of four millennia, but then more than halved with the next 1000 years of history. This sharp decrease in the lifespan of civilisations accelerated yet again in the following 500 years of history, dropping to a little over one-tenth of their average duration in ancient times.''
Lee's study of this deep trend was in part based on the work of Robert Samet, a civil engineer and futurologist who traced the duration of societies over history. In Long-Range Futures Research (2008), he described a striking shrinkage in the longevity of empires and cultures: ''The earliest civilisations between 3500 BC and AD 500 last for an average of 2000 years … In the period from AD 500-1500, the average duration was 500 to 1000 years … since AD 1500 … the average duration has been 200 to 500 years.''
Signs of an accelerating pattern of vulnerability and decline in our own western model of society are offered by the world's most famous economic historian, Professor Niall Ferguson. This year he used the Reith Lectures to chart the elements of decay in the Western civilisation. He gave his lecture series the gloomy and arresting title, The Great Degeneration, just released as a book.
He argues that advanced Western societies are developing sclerosis, manifest in the envelopment of life in bureaucratic and legal red tape. The most advanced economies are also becoming increasingly mendicant societies, evidenced by the unsustainable growth of social welfare spending in the European Union, the United States and, in a longer-term trend, Australia.
Among the telling low-lights offered by The Great Degeneration:
  •   The advanced nations which have created public and private debt larger than their gross domestic products confront a narrow range of options. They must raise the rate of growth above the rate of interest. If they cannot, they must default on a large proportion of public debt. Or wipe out debts via currency depreciation and inflation.
  •   The real rate of structural unemployment is concealed by the mendicant state. In the three years from June 2009 to June 2012, the world's largest economy, the US, created 2.4 million jobs but 3.3 million Americans were awarded disabled worker benefits. ''Unemployment is being concealed - and rendered permanent - in ways all too familiar to Europeans.''
  •   The financial crisis in 2007 had its origins in over-complex regulations not just misguided deregulation.
  • ''All political systems are likely to succumb to sclerosis, mainly because of rent-seeking activities by organised interest groups.''
  • The rule of law is increasingly being superseded and displaced by the rule of lawyers.
If this lecture series could be summed up in a single sentence it is this: when a majority of people vote for a living rather than work for a living, democracy, freedom and living standards are all in a lock-step of decline.
Ferguson is also a noted critic of casino capitalism but even his concerns about the emerging dominance of the vast financial derivatives market pale when compared with the details provided in another book published this year, Dark Pools, by a Wall Street Journal reporter, Scott Patterson.
The accelerating cycles of capitalism's creative disruption have reached a new velocity with the basic form known as stock trading. Sixty years ago, the average stock trade involved buying and holding a stock for four years. By 2000, that average holding period had shrunk to eight months. By 2008, it was two months. By 2011, it was 22 seconds. It would be even less now.
Patterson describes the global financial market as ''a worldwide matrix of dazzlingly complex algorithms, interlinked computer hubs the size of football fields, and high-octane trading robots guided by the latest advances in artificial intelligence''.
''With electronic trading, a placeless, faceless, post-modern cyber-market in which computers communicated at warp speed, that physical sense of the market's flow had vanished … Regular investors, of course, had little idea about the massive transfer of wealth that was taking place.''
The transfer of wealth upwards over the past quarter-century is well documented as a byproduct of global capitalism.
Then there is climate change, an encompassing process of accelerating change and disruption. The ideology of manic economic growth, driven by the false wisdom that technology can conquer problems caused by technology, is clearly having a global impact on the environment caused by the reality that 7 billion people now live on the planet and the average person is consuming far more than ever before in history. That this must significantly affect not just the environment but the global climate invokes the most basic and self-evident commonsense.
The world's scientific community has presented a compelling case that the acceleration of global consumption is in turn accelerating the much deeper natural pattern of climate change.
If you feel like life around you is speeding up, especially the cycle of invention to obsolescence, it's not you, it's everyone and everything."
There are some very interesting things in this opinion article, which is why I post it here complete.
I don't agree with everything here but there are some observations that really are spot-on, for example this one:
" when a majority of people vote for a living rather than work for a living, democracy, freedom and living standards are all in a lock-step of decline."
This is something that  amazes me: people who think they deserve a free ride, who want to do nothing and sit at a desk and collect bags of money for it. This is a moral failure. Society is built on trade and exchange: the trading of services (your labour) for credit exchangeable for goods and other services.

What has happenned? I suspect the main reason for the failure here is that we see others who appear to have done nothing for their wealth and thus people say to themselves "why should I be working if they have more than me yet they don't work at all as hard as me?" . . . . . except it is all a lie.
Money for nothing is worth nothing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bye Gerry

Gerry Anderson, creator of Supermarionation TV shows Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and others, has died at 83.
Thunderbirds had a big impact on me as a youngster: not only were there groovy zooming ships and gadgets, they did it all to SAVE people,  and yet there was still room for explosions, monsters and secret agents.

The only thing that came close since was Team America: World Police which you could say went further  - and it was inspired by Thunderbirds.

Iron Sky

If you haven't heard of it, Iron Sky is the spoof movie made by a group of indie folks from Finland, Germany and Australia. It is a whole lot of fun too. In short, the Nazis have hidden away on the dark side if the moon since 1945, and in 2018, they return to get their vengeance.   . . but don't take my word for it, see it yourself if you like B- movie sci-fi fun.
I bought it for 14 bucks online from itunes  (look carefully, there is a button there) which is still about the same price as a ticket at my local cinema and cheaper than a new movie DVD. 

It is awesome: Nazi flying saucers attacking the earth,  mad american advertising executives, and of course, the spunky Julia Dietze as you can see on the left, who really knows what high heels are for.

(You will have to see the movie now if you want to know what I am referring to!)

Don't forget, this is not made by any of the big movie houses. that fact alone should move you to have a look at it. Oh, and did I mention it's also hilarious? I have no fear or respect for the Nazis, and this movie doesn't either. Then again, it doesn't paint the American government of 2018 or the UN nicely either.
Best fun I have had all year, worth every cent.
Oh yes, I got the soundtrack by Laibach as well. Wunderbar!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

No Mistaking

Never mind why I think I need to say this. I'm saying it here and now.
I do NOT support any illegal activity including drug use.
That goes for me as a normal person and as High priest of The Church Of Nothing too. 
The C.O.N. does NOT advocate any drug use at all.
Even legal drugs are not good for you, the only exception being when a good doctor prescribes them and follows up with proper medical help.

I drink one cup of coffee a day in the morning and I might drink a glass of alcoholic drink on Christmas or a birthday or other special occasion but I am not a drinker. I do NOT smoke. I don't even like aspirin or other pills.
Do not associate me with any of that, I have better things to do with my time. 

If you really want pleasure that is not bad for you or illegal, why not try sex? at least your body is designed for it even if the ultimate purpose is only to make more people, but then we modern folks have ways around that. 
And while I'm at it, don't get caught up in the wacky stuff. Pain is pain, pleasure is pleasure.
 Apart from sex, your body releases endorphins to ease pain because you overdid it when exercising.
In my view the human body is not that different from a machine: if you drive it hard all the time it will wear out faster. That doesn't matter with a car or appliance since you can just get another but with us humans, you only get one body. 

This is all my views, please note. If there is scientific evidence to support or discredit this let me know. I am always open to learn new things. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

A new form of magnetism, plus WHAT?

I was reading this article over at the Reg which talks about a newly confirmed magnetic state, one that is chaotic . . . . . . . . but read on . . . . .

The researchers "believe they’ve observed fractionalised quantum states.

Quantum states are generally assumed to exist only as whole numbers – after all, the basis of quantum physics is that the quantum is the smallest possible change in state that can exist."

I cracked up at this point. I love it when scientists kick a hole in their own sacred canon. It fills me with hope that we might actually solve some of the serious problems we have without dying of collective stupidity.

 Enjoy the silly season folks.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The crappy code problem

In "What Compsci textbooks don't tell you: Real world code sucks", author David Mandl at The Register talks about how badly coded software is everywhere and yet there is little being done about it: relating to his experiences in writing software for financial houses, he cites some scary problems that have caused stock market trouble and made billions "disappear".
The article targets some basic faults with software projects: first, that programmers are just not very good , or worse still make their code unnecessarily complex so that no-one else can understand it, effectively keeping themselves employed since they are the only one who knows how it all works.
Then there is the "eternal patching" problem: badly written wares are patched to fix the fault but then there is little incentive to fix the original code so it keeps getting patched and becomes unweildly.
Well, I can see that this is a modern problem that won't be going away soon.

Sometimes I think that I should just stop upgrading to escape from the new bug problem and the de-featuring problem. I'm talking about iTunes 11 here. For some reason known only to Apple, they have removed features from the previous version and changed things that I certainly didn't need or want changed.
The worst part of all?
iTunes 10 would start when I pressed the play button, but the new version can be delayed by as much as seconds after I press it. WHY? the files are the same, the computer is the same, so why a new delay? I can only call it an anti-feature. I have been warned not to try and go back to the old version too: apparently there is a real danger of losing your library and having to rebuild it.   WTF?
This is definitely the silly season folks.


A long time ago when America was young, they were putting the railroad through the middle of their huge land  - but there was a problem: settlers had already arrived and put homes, farms and even towns in the way of the railroad. Well, the Railroads had an answer: they just went ahead and put the railroad in, regardless, hence the term "railroading".

I think I have been railroaded. What stumps me is why.
I have joined dating agencies twice now and both times someone has attempted to destroy my efforts to find a suitable companion.
This not just empty speculation  iether: I have evidence from friends that it is deliberate.
I have speculated that it maybe it is because I am an atheist and the opponent is religious - or maybe they are just hung up on something they think that I did many years ago. It does not matter though: the result is the same. I did get one real date from the agency but that was it, the rest were so fake some of them did not even bother to make the photo match the profile.

I counted over thirty messages I sent, of which I had seven total contacts via email and apart from the one real person all of the others were either (a) either the other side of the country or (b) overseas despite the original profile saying they were local to me. Three of them were 419's. None of them would talk to me via Skype or  Google Hangout video chat just to prove that they were real people, therefore I can only conclude they were all fakes, with the possible exception of the lady in deepest Russia who does not even have her own PC but uses one at work to email me . . . . . assuming that she is real: there is evidence to suggest that one was fake too.

So, in short, I was being bullshirted all the way. The final episode yesterday was where the person I was supposedly talking to via email claimed that they were signing off the agency and they would be seeing me soon . . . well, I was going to sign off any way after the crap I had been experiencing, but then same person asks me about my experience o the dating site. once I explain, said person then says
"you got  alots  of  women you talk to. GOD bless you. i dont need a man with alots of  women"
Note the terrible spelling and grammar. It has varied over the conversations as if there were more than one person on the line with different grammar and spelling abilities.
 This is definitely a nutter: apparently "her" man cannot be permitted to talk to other women  - by email !!  Well, either that or it was all BS designed to get me off the site , which since it is now done, "she" can provide a BS reason why to disconnect.

What makes me so Bloody Furious is that these crims  can't be found: who are they? why bother pissing me off? I am not important, not even slightly rich or influential.  Hell, pretty much nobody reads this effing blog either!  (All two of you readers out there know that: just look at the stat down the sidebar. )

Well, to you railroader shmitheads: Fuch you very much you lying cheating stealing jerks, burn in hell and die horribly from some painful and incurable disease.You haven't even got the guts to come forward and honestly accuse or argue a point with me while I have been open and honest to everyone so you MUST be crooks. Or nutters, or most likely both.

And you think I'm gonna be going along with your little setup again? after the last few gambits? Fuch you too. Die Nazis, Die horribly.

Well, I'm off for a few drinks with my new girlfriend, then we are going back to her place to celebrate Xmas properly.  Have a fun silly season folks, and take care. And don't trust anyone on the net.

How the world's decisions are made?

Have a look at this article. It's about the World conference on Internet Communications or WCIT.
Written by an American who went there, it is an eye opener about what goes on at those high-flyer conferences we only ever see the outside of. 

What is most interesting about the whole thing is that the whole process of deciding international internet law is being done by committees, sub-commitees and "ad-hoc groups.  It does not end there either: since this is a global meeting, there are people from every government there who all have their own ideas of how the net should operate, what should and should not be permitted and who should pay for it.

Let's just boil this down for a moment: All of the big players or groups want the "game" to be played their way.  Is it any wonder then that there was very little "consensus" reached?
At one point, things get so stalled that the chair simply goes for a show of hands to get something decided, but of course it is ultimately futile: some countries won't sign the new deal. 

Here, in a concentrated form, we have the essential problem of the human world. 
Countries and nations have differing ideas about law, ethics, responsibility and rights. Who is right? depends on who you ask, which viewpoint you take on various matters related to politics and society.
I can't comment on the details since I don't know what they were arguing about but I find the whole story of the event veeerry interesting.

I am betting that this won't go away either: it will be an ongoing issue because people want the perceived freedom of net communications while governments want the right to control populations, supposedly for their own good or "national security".
As I said, I can't judge anything here.

Thanks to Ars Technica for the article.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Safety thanks to cardboard?

I am a fan of cardboard: from my early years I made many things out of it since it was cheap, easy to get and easy to work with: no fancy glues or exotic tools are needed,  I even managed some pretty spectacular results getting it to bend. See below.

Now someone has made a real bicycle helmet using cardboard cells to absorb impacts.

Here is the WIRED page.  Some people can't quite believe that something resembling corrugated cardboard can be a good impact absorber.  On the other hand, how come it is such a puzzle? Much of the world's delivery goods arrive in boxes made of corrugated cardboard , and for good reason.

The stuff the helmet is made from resembles the inside of modern doors: hexagonal cell sheet, an idea also used in aerospace although they make theirs from metal or modern composite.

I am impressed  and pleased by the gent concerned, and to top it all off the Kranium company are offering helmets shaped to your head, (they scan your cranium!)  which would be a  great safety improvement. Not sure I can afford a custom helmet but at least the potential is there. 
Kranium also make a pretty good electric bike too, seen here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Canada cans JSF

I am always interested in military technology, partly because it is impressive stuff to watch (and usually features the leading technology too) and partly because it is such a political and economic battleground. 
Mind you, who needs to fight the enemy if you can suck them into buying  preposterously pricey military machines that are so expensive it could put the nation in the poorhouse?

The JSF (2)  sure looks like that to me anyway: just like the previous wonderplane JSF-1 (which never arrived, please note: our airforce got recycled F-111's instead) we now have JSF-2 and sure enough it is doing exactly the same thing as the previous plan: It certainly looks like Canada has decided to opt out of the plan based on realistic cost projections. Naturally, they will be in trouble with Uncle Sam for that: if too many players opt out, the whole thing will die and billions will need to be "written down". 
None of this affects the quality of the plane itself though folks: I fully expect it to go into service, probably some years and some billions overbudget as these things do . . . . . . . but I still think little countries like ours should not be stumping up zillions for this stuff when it does not even look to me to be suitable for our theoretical needs.
The F-111 was actually useful because when fitted with wing tanks it had enough range to cover a fair slice of this huge mostly empty continent. it had a big airframe that provided  plenty of room for the various local mods that we gave it over the years too.
How will this single seat high speed fighter fit with that? I have grave doubts, and I am just a normal guy, not some planning bigwig.
I sure hope they are a hell of a lot smarter than I am and can figure out what the point of all the billions of cost will give us.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Back Online

Well, I'm stumped. My wireless internet service is now back on, and I still have no idea why it didn't work before.

A brief note about the previous post (In whose interest): I do not under any circumstances support "hackers" or those who attack systems or try to cheat on the net or elsewhere. I posted it to give people a clear idea of the way these people think, and maybe even evoke comment (hah!)

Also, I am now on Google +, and it looks good to me. I never liked Facebook and although I have an ID there something about it just didn't sit right with me.  I'll see how G+ goes but already I am happier with it since I have this and two other blogs there. 
Now I only need to find Google Talk, which according to rumour is/has Video chat.

Oh yeah - I have been seeking a partner online, with somewhat mixed results. Lots of new netfreinds (Hi all! :D) but sill no lovedove. I can't count the number of people who have initially appeared to be local to me , then turned out to be the other side of the world. no offence, but that is fakery and I'm less than impressed by it. Then there is the second step from my point of view: if they meet the basics, and they are not in my home town, I want to video chat with them, and that has been an eye opener: even people who seem genuine suddenly back off . . . almost as if the site is faking me continuously, trying to keep me paying with a string of phonies . . . . . . because they can't really do anything for me. Well, that's the end, no video chat, no more emails. Video chat can't be easily faked (well, not without a lot of prep and some serious computer hardware, and I haven't seen it done yet)
so that remains my big test.