Monday, 18 November 2013

Welcome to Civilization

"Knockout" game is coming to teenagers near you

and if you think the law will help you


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Thai Drivers - worst in the world

Let me start by making something very clear from the start. I love Thai people. I frequently find myself saying to myself “I love this place”. Whether I am riding my motorcycle through throngs of market goers or walking through a market or visiting a famous temple or even driving on major highways through Bangkok, i find myself spontaneously saying under my breath “I love this place”.

That being said let me now deliver the point of this post. Thai drivers are not very good.

Ran into a big truck full of earth and rock? Going to fast?
Neither: LPG system blew up.

Of course that does not mean all Thai drivers. Not infrequently I recognise in a Thai driver all those things that I count highly as attributes of a good driver.

And I'm not asserting that “farangs” are better drivers. No. In Thailand the farangs are frequently as bad or worse than Thai drivers. I recall just recently in Chiang Mai sitting in a big 4WD driven by a farang who did not even see the two girls caught on the center line between fast moving cars begging to be freed from their trap. He simply did not register that they were there. He exhibited the very essence of what I now assert is at the heart of the atrocious driving in Thailand – lack of empathy. Or tunnel vision. Or lack of training. Unaware.

sometimes it's just inexperience and an old car

I read once that the Buddha defined compassion as the act of “seeing” others. Not "looking at them" but not being blind to them. Being blind to others is what all those neuroscience and psychology studies tell us that the rich do. They quite simply do not “see” those who are “lower”. You walk along a street and there is a man with twisted legs and disfigured arms holding a tin while he sings badly. The few cents that you might give him make the all the difference in his day. But many people walk by with hearts so hardened by their frequent acts of “not today” that they no longer even see the beggar. He is just an object on the street like a trash can or lump of concrete to be walked around, to be avoided. We do not see him.

Too fast past a construction site

It came to me just recently that, here in the heart of one of the most Buddhist countries on earth, the majority of people, once behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, had no theory of mind whatsoever.

Black pick-up overtook blind to hit U-turning car.

I've tried to figure out what is behind this apparent truth. For example it crossed my mind that it might be to do with the fact that almost every car in Thailand has reflective tinting which makes it impossible to see anyone in the vehicle. This is mostly to do with keeping out the heat (or so I have been told though I've seen no research to back it up). I've also theorised that because most Thais had mobile phones with games on them before they had cars, maybe they drive like they play phone games. Who knows? The bottom line is that Thais quite simply don't seem to realise that all the other cars on the road have living breathing THINKING humans in them.

My sister in law is a fitness freak so recently we went to watch and photograph her at an aerobics competition. When I was parking the car there were cars forced to wait for another car to exit a parking spot. A Thai woman simply saw those cars as obstacles and tried to drive around them. Just like people avoiding the beggar on the street she simply saw the waiting cars as obstacles. That there might have been a reason for them waiting did not cross her mind. She exhibited no theory of mind.She behaved exactly as if she saw the other cars as not human objects.

On the highways oh my God. They are simply insane. They overtake at the most dangerous places and they seem to lack any understanding of driving physics.

at Ta Sala police station - just the ones out front

We recently drove almost 5,000 kilometers around Thailand – from the Malaysian border to the Golden Triangle and back. We lost track of the accidents we witnessed and of the insane behaviour of drivers. It's bad enough that many of the roads are like the surface of the moon but with the Thai drivers it's like threading your way through a mine field of death traps. They are often the silliest drivers I have ever seen anywhere on planet earth. I have driven all over the world including places that left me gob-smacked as to how insane the drivers were (Italy, Mexico) but Thai drivers are so bad it takes your breath away.

So how to resolve the problem?

I've thought of a nutty campaign of my own where I mass produce a poster that I then plaster on the wall above the men's urinals at the PTT service stations (the most popular places for drivers to fill-up) – something along the lines of “hey man, drive careful dude!”

It's a truly bizarre place – it's the “wild wild west” in ever way except of course that it's the “east”.

A rescue vehicle that careered off the road
lucky occupants could have drowned

I really hope that as they all become more middle class they will develop some road sense.



since writing this piece they do as a whole seem to be improving

the pics above are recent though and all were close to where we live


Boy dies, skull fractured in crashWoman killed at railway crossing train crash,

Indian tourists killed in van crash on elevated road to airport

Saturday, 2 November 2013

ECC CELTA Phuket - test yourself.

I'm typical of the "baby boomer" generation. Apart from that meaning that I'm now old it also means that I experienced quite a few of those boomer generation "groovy things to do".

For example I have done the Goenkaji Vipassanā 10 day sit. That was, as anyone else who has done it will tell you, hell. It was tough. Maybe you don't know much about it but it's easy to explain - you sit absolutely still for long periods of time trying to dominate your body's natural and healthy inclination to move (and keep vital functions like your venous pump working). It's 10 days of torment that you afterwards wear as a crown of accomplishment: "I did the 10 day sit, man!".

I've also got a black belt in karate. If you've done karate you know what that means - if you've never done karate it's something that can't easily be conveyed. I did the Seido black belt grading - that means 40 fights at the end of a gruelling grading that pushes you beyond your limits and then further still. Man if you have a real black belt in karate then I totally respect you - it means that you can focus for a long time, years, and go through excruciating pain, humility and testing. Man, I did a black belt grading!

Yeh, I did a degree in computer science too - and got straight "A"s. That was kinda tough I guess though it's really just a case of slogging your way through it for 3 years and not wasting your time having fun like most of the other students.

There's lots of other trials and achievements that I could tell you about but let's leave the ones above as the "biggest" for now though really none of them compare to all the trials there are just getting by in life - like raising kids, keeping a marriage going, not killing or being killed by your workmates. You know what I mean I'm sure.

So comes my early retirement courtesy of the NSW State Government giving me a redundancy package.

OK, I'm pretty much done with big business and government and computers and everything else that has been my life until now. What shall I do that has any meaning? What can I do that I can look at and say to myself "you are worthy Murray".

I got it!

I'll be a teacher!

I'll teach English in Thailand where I have decided to "retire".

That's got to be honourable right?


Ok, so how do I become an English teacher?

After a bit of research (not enough as it turns out) I decided the CELTA course run by the ECC in Phuket was the right one for me - made sense that I'd do it in Thailand if after all I was going to teach Thai people English. Right?


ECC Phuket accepted me for the course (sheesh, I barely passed English in my HSC) and sent me a bunch of stuff to study (which of course I scanned and told myself "yeh I know all that duh!")

My last day at work then my flight to Phuket. The next day I went to visit the ECC. I met Robin - he was nice, gentle, offered aid with accommodation etc though my wife and I had already sorted all that out.

Two days later the course started.

Forget about anything you have ever thought was tough. Whatever you name I can tell you it was baby stuff compared to the CELTA. The CELTA course is tough - even if you are a natural English teacher with a bent in the CELTA way. It's work, solid work, for 4 weeks.

Frankly, by the end of the second week, I was sure I would either fail or drop out. I'm pretty bright, or was, up there with Mensa types, but bright "aint nuthin" in a CELTA course. You have to learn to teach English the CELTA way and the course tutors are masters of the way.

I stuck it out. I loved it as much as I hated it. There's no way to explain any of it except to say that if you ever contemplate doing the CELTA then the best advice anyone can give you is study English and study hard. Make sure you really know English grammar, function, spelling etc before you go.

The tutors at the Phuket ECC - well I loved them and hated them thoroughly - often both many times a day. They are not going to give you your CELTA certificate for free. They expect you to work for it and they "aint no dummies".

So, it's now a few months since I did the course. What can I say?

Here's my bullet point summary.

  1. Don't approach the CELTA course lightly - it's tough, it's rewarding but it is hard.
  2. Study English language as much as you can before you do the course.
  3. Don't try and mix the course with a rich social life - it wont work.
  4. Be tolerant of the fact that Phuket is not Sydney or New York. Their computers are old, adequate but old.
  5. Respect your tutors.

If you want to do the CELTA then ECC Phuket is as good as anywhere or better because it's in a lovely part of the world where lovely people provide wonderful food and hospitality. The ECC staff are great, professional, dedicated and human.

I'm happy to recommend them.

Yeh! I did the CELTA!


Monday, 7 October 2013

On our way to BKK

Stopped to overnight.

Dinner on the beach

Friday, 4 October 2013

Tiger mozzies eat cat.

You can't see the mozzie.

But this cat battled it.

So i know now.

Tiger mozzies eat cat.

Chian Yai

Quick trip to close an unused bank account.
Beautiful isolated town in Nakon Si Thammarat.
Have great dragon boat races.
But not today.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Shopping at Makro shopping center - Nakhon Si Thammerat

This is Thailand

At the supermarket: Water bugs, grasshoppers, frog meat, crocodile....


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Preparing our garden plot

We're going to have a garden.

Here's Nuk clearing the area....

Breakfast at Pa Rakum

Family is very important to Thai people.

Eating together.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Songkla watchung bulls on TV

After doing a "visa run" to Malasia at a Songkla beach hotel.

The bull fights are very popular here.

A couple of weeks later I got to go to the bull fights

Pretty intense

the betting seems chaotic

the bulls seem to enjoy it

and here - below - the chaos of free betting at the bull fights

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bloody cold!

First time in all the years I've been coming to Pa Rakum (Southern Thailand - the tropics) I've had to sleep with a blanket. It got down to a shivering 25 degrees celsius. That's bloody cold mate.

It's usually over 30. Most days are around 35.

Everyone visiting the shop here is bundled up and complaining of how cold it was last night.

It rained for about 4 hours. The rainy season is starting. Cooling everything down.

Tomorrow I make a visa run to Malasia. That should warm me up. It's just that much closer to the equator.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Replacing Australian Plug with Thai Plug on Australian multi-point power boards

When we relocated to Thailand we shipped most of our electronic appliances. After the headaches of getting it all through customs and paying the duties and sundries maybe it would have been better just to buy everything here. Ho hum, so we learn.

So, here I have all the Australian appliances with their Aussie plugs. We also have a few dozen multi-point power boards. Simple solution - change the plugs on the power boards.

Here's my wiring diagrams for the plugs:

And sockets:

Note: I'm no electrician so proceed wisely


Australian 3-Pin Electrical Mains Plug

The Thailand House Wiring Page

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Tang Ke

Dinner by the water at on of Phuket's best places to eat.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Summer Poems by May and Murray

a couple of quick poems about summer:

the spring was lovely in Sydney
that last spring with my friends

to break and leave Australia
my step-dad still defends

the summer turned to winter
but a winter always hot

we're back and living in Thailand
but that seems to be my lot

here every day is summer
there's never any spring

no autumn leaves will ever fall
no Honeyeaters sing

It is my home i know it
and i love it yes i do

but the summer time in Sydney
well i really love that too

in summertime i think of snow
and ice cream cones too don't you know

and showering waterfalls of ice
in summertime i think that's nice

in fact i think of all things cold
when summer heat has taken hold

but maybe there's a better way
to flee the boiling heat of day

if i could do just what i like
in summertime i'd take a flight

i'd fly to mountains high and free
and down them all i'd board and ski

and in between those chilly runs
i'd nibble chips and burger buns

and sipping chocolate thick and hot
i'd love the summertime a lot

May has recently moved back to Thailand after 5 years in Sydney

Had we been able to get PR we would have stayed

but PR is not so easy for Kiwis

that's life


Monday, 10 June 2013

Edward Snowden - modern day hero

I'd brush it off if it was not for the fact that i know well the mentality of government employees and contractors - we all would like the security of permanent access to a free-flowing and limitless supply of nutritious blood provided by the nipple of taxation. For such security almost all will turn a blind eye to ethical considerations.

Almost all - but not all - Snowden, Assange, and others, for all their own human foibles, at least they try to show us ourselves at our worst.

i got this from here (with this interesting follow up, and this cool vid)

there are other places this story will play out

it's pretty disturbing but i guess that very very few people actually care

as long as they get to drink on Friday and watch the footie and have that BBQ on Sunday

really who cares?


see also

Salon: Revealed: “Boundless Informant,” NSA’s powerful datamining tool,
Business Insider: It Seems A Bit Early To Call Edward Snowden A ‘Hero’,
Salon: If you know nothing about whistle-blowers, don’t cover them,
Salon: Thomas Drake: The NSA will come after him with everything they’ve got,
Salon: Will China give up Snowden?,
Salon: European leaders express outrage, but are they really OK with letting the NSA “do their dirty work”?,
ABC (Aus): PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden sacked from Booz Allen; hiding in unknown location,
Reuters: U.S. tech firms push for government transparency on security,
Business Insider: China To Weigh Snowden’s Fate,
Salon: Encrypt your emails, evade the NSA,
Salon: 10 dumbest reactions to the NSA scandal,
Naked Capitalist: Snowden Shows South China Morning Post Details of NSA Hacking in China,
ABC: Hong Kong protesters rally in support of US spy whistleblower Edward Snowden,
Salon: PRISM part of a much larger government surveillance program,
Market Watch: Are Google, Facebook lying about the spying?,
Salon: Privacy versus security: Does the NSA’s surveillance program work?,
Business Insider: PORTRAIT OF THE LEAKER AS A YOUNG MAN: Edward Snowden Has Always Been A Privacy Fanatic,
Business Insider: Facebook And Microsoft Finally Allowed To Disprove ‘Hyperbolic And False’ Initial Spying Reports,
Salon: PRISM software works just like Facebook ads,
Salon: Is Alex Gibney’s WikiLeaks film “state agitprop”?,
Salon: The dangerous ethics behind Google’s transparency claims,
Market Watch: Why Google, Facebook must nip spy tag,
Reuters: FBI says U.S. will hold Snowden responsible for NSA leaks,
Salon: NSA surveillance didn’t lead to capture of deadly terrorist,
Salon: No one understands what treason is,
Naked Capitalist: What Are You Doing to Protect Yourself From NSA? #SafeData,
Reuters: Web companies begin releasing surveillance information after U.S. deal,
Reuters: Microsoft got more than 6,000 U.S. data requests in second half 2012,
News Observer: Web giants get broader surveillance revelations,
ABC: Facebook, Microsoft reveal surveillance request data after US deal,
Reuters: Facebook got 9,000-10,000 government data requests in second half 2012,
Salon: About half the Senate skipped classified NSA briefing,
Market Watch: Officials: NSA surveillance blocked terror plots,
Salon: Dick Cheney praises NSA surveillance program,
Think Progress: Intelligence Officials Claim That NSA Surveillance Foiled Terrorist Plots In Over 20 Nations,
Economic Policy Institute: Why I Am Not Impressed with the Edward Snowden NSA Leaks, So Far,
Think Progress: Dick Cheney Laughs Off Privacy Concerns Over Government Surveillance,
CCG: One lesson from the NSA scandal: Find out where your cloud provider's data centers are located,
Reuters: Apple got up to 5,000 data requests in six months,
Economic Populist: This Big Business of Big Brother,
News Observer: How Britain spies on friends and rivals alike,
Market Watch: Snowden: Facebook, Google can resist NSA,
Think Progress: How Edward Snowden’s New Leaks Are Distracting From The Conversation He Wanted,
ABC: US whistleblower Edward Snowden says more leaks to come as father pleads with him to stay quiet,
Salon: Five major takeaways from Edward Snowden Q&A, Why the US government Spies on its own Citizens,
Reuters: Yahoo says it had as many as 13,000 data requests,
Market Watch: Facebook seen most vulnerable in spy scandal,
News Observer: Yahoo discloses number of US govt data requests,
Ritholz: The Private-Intelligence Boom, by the Numbers,
Salon: House hearing in celebration of NSA spying,
Market Watch: Google cites 1st Amendment in transparency push,
Salon: NSA spying kills my faith in America,
Wired: The NSA Hearing, by the Numbers,
Wired: NSA Disruption of Stock Exchange Bomb Plot Disputed
Wired: Justice Department Fought to Conceal NSA’s Role in Terror Case From Defense Lawyers
Wired: Google Challenges FISA Gag Orders on Free Speech Grounds
Wired: Brand Damage Through Information Access
Economonitor: What Bothers me About NSA Data Collection: A Reply to Thomas Friedman
Salon: Does Obama know what “transparent” means?
Salon: Why Metadata really is the message
Reuters: Obama defends intelligence tactics in wary Berlin
Salon: Snowden’s real crime: Humiliating the state
Salon: What everybody gets wrong about Orwell
Salon: WikiLeaks helping Snowden seek asylum
Guardian: NSA chief claims 'focused' surveillance disrupted more than 50 terror plots
Washington's Blog: No, NSA Spying Did NOT Prevent a Terror Attack on Wall Street
Empty Wheel: Section 215 Dragnet: Again with the Passive Voice Oversight
FDL Action: Partisans are only Concerned about Government Surveillance When the Other Side is in Charge
Wired: Phew, NSA Is Just Collecting Metadata. (You Should Still Worry)
Salon: The secret history of the Bill of Rights
ABC: Government refuses to be drawn on whether MPs' emails are spied on
Salon: How Snowden empowers China
Wired: 5 Fun Facts From the Latest NSA Leak
Salon: More on NSA spying
Reuters: British spy agency taps cables, shares with NSA: Guardian
Stuff: Kim Dotcom rails against spy agency powers
Physics of Finance: The War on Reality
Opinionator: The Real War on Reality
Scientific American: How Are the NSA and Others Collecting and Using our Data?
Market Watch: NSA leaker Snowden charged with espionage: report
Reuters: British spy agency taps cables, shares with NSA: Guardian
Salon: Reports: Edward Snowden charged with espionage
Stuff: US requests Snowden detained
ABC: US surveillance leaker Edward Snowden charged with espionage
Engadget: EFF looks at rules controlling NSA surveillance, sees big risks for Americans
Engadget: US government files criminal charges against Edward Snowden over PRISM leaks
Bloomberg: Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization
Bloomberg: NSA Surveillance Leaks Startle Privacy Board Back to Life
Investors: OK To Spy On Americans, But Don't Monitor A Mosque
Stuff: US requests Snowden detained
Reuters: German minister seeks answers from UK over spying 'catastrophe'
Business Insider: LEAKER UPDATE: Snowden’s Just Hanging Out In Hong Kong Giving More U.S. Intelligence Secrets To The Chinese
Salon: Edward Snowden “in a safe place” in Hong Kong
ABC: Snowden in 'safe place' as US seeks extradition and new leaks emerge
Salon: Obama’s aversion to leaks channels Reagan
South China Morn Post: EXCLUSIVE: US hacked Pacnet, Asia Pacific fibre-optic network operator, in 2009
Wired: In WikiLeaks Probe, Feds Used a Secret Search Warrant to Get Volunteer’s Gmail
Wired: U.K. Spy Agency Secretly Taps Over 200 Fiber-Optic Cables, Shares Data With the NSA
Wikileaks: Statement by Julian Assange after One Year in Ecuadorian Embassy
ZeroHedge: Meet The Man In Charge Of America's Secret Cyber Army (In Which "Bonesaw" Makes A Mockery Of PRISM)
ABC: China labels US as world's biggest spying 'villain' as Edward Snowden raises new snooping claims
Economic Populist: Do You Think the NSA Whistleblower Should Be Prosecuted?
NY Times: Where Did Our ‘Inalienable Rights’ Go?
Reuters: Hong Kong lets Snowden leave in move bound to infuriate U.S.
ABC: US spy whistleblower Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong, reportedly en route to Moscow
Economic Policy Journal: BREAKING: Snowden on Flight to Moscow
ABC: US spy whistleblower Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong, reportedly en route to Moscow
Stuff: Whistleblower Snowden allowed to leave Hong Kong
Reuters: Hong Kong lets Snowden leave, with Cuba among possible destinations
Salon: Edward Snowden departs Hong Kong on flight to Moscow
Market Watch: Snowden flees Hong Kong, lands in Moscow
Salon: U.S. revokes Snowden’s passport, sources say
Mises: The NSA’s Spying and Why it Matters
Salon: Snowden seeking asylum in Ecuador, says WikiLeaks
Reuters: Fugitive Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador: foreign minister
Stuff: Snowden 'seeks asylum in Ecuador'
ABC: Edward Snowden helped by WikiLeaks to leave Hong Kong and seek asylum in Ecuador
Reuters: U.S. warns countries against Snowden travel
ABC: WikiLeaks helps Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong and seek asylum in Ecuador
Reuters: U.S. warns countries against Snowden travel
Reuters: White House expects Russia to look at all options to expel Snowden back to U.S.
Reuters: Snowden expected to fly to Cuba, U.S. urges his detention
Naked Capitalism: Quo Vadis, Edward Snowden?
Wired: Where in the World Is Edward Snowden?
Wired: Keeping Your Data Private Denies You Access to the Latest Tech

Scientific America: WikiLeaks Defends NSA Whistleblower, Condemns PRISM Digital Surveillance
Salon: Snowden won’t find a beacon of civil rights in Ecuador
Reuters: U.S. presses Russia as mystery over Snowden deepens
Reuters: White House presses Russia to expel Snowden; sharp words for China
Stuff: Dunne pressured over controversial spy bill
Reuters: Behind Snowden's Hong Kong exit: fear and persuasion
Reuters: U.S. warns countries against Snowden travel
Cloud Times: Which Effect Does PRISM Have on the Cloud?
Engadget: Edward Snowden tells South China Morning Post he took Booz Allen job to collect NSA information
Engadget: Australia takes the hint, postpones plans for PRISM-style snooping
ABC: US presses Russia to deliver NSA leaker Edward Snowden, slams China for letting him leave Hong Kong
Wired: NSA Surveillance Leaks Prompt Legislation
Reuters: No sign of Snowden as Aeroflot plane lands in Havana


and more....

welcome to 1984


Sunday, 19 May 2013

rescuing people and causes

i've come to the realization that i've become like many people i used to feel critical of

i don't want to rescue anyone anymore

i really feel like it's such a huge expense of spirit

over and over it is overwhelmed by simpler human needs: avarice, desperation, fear


oh well, maybe my energy will rekindle

i'll find the next in need



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Christchurch Airport and Fairy Down sleeping bag

Seems that Christchurch Airport has either some financial problems or maybe they are freakin out about their insurance

mind you there was a rumor that an MP had reacted to the sight of so many backpacking young people sleeping in the arrival lounge prior to very early morning departures

anyway we were all told we would be kicked out at midnight

check-in to my flight was supposed to start at 3:45am

as soon as i heard it i left and found the best shelter i could find outside

happened to be one of two the "designated smoking areas"

i moved the ash-trays outside, set my pack as a pillow and climbed into my aging Fairy Down minus 15 degree sleeping bag which is little more than a down cocoon hardly big enough for you to cross your arms on your chest

but it actually can be stuffed into a pocket - it's pretty useful

by midnight it had got down to about zero - i don't know how well i might have fared had the temperature dropped another five degrees

but i was comfortable and slept until after 4 - still time enough to check in

i did wake at about 2am

there were two young men from Holland sitting and freezing to death and later i heard from one of the airport staff that some had also tried to escape the cold in outside stairwells

well done Christchurch Airport you dolts

these tourists will forget all the great stuff they experienced in NZ and will instead report the terrible treatment at the airport

me, i'm used to both the cold and to idiotic Kiwi shortsightedness

but those poor tourists really suffered


some refs:

No Sleeping Overnight at Christchurch International Airport

Travellers kicked out of Christchurch Airport overnight

Travellers kicked out of Christchurch Airport overnight

Tourists land to rude Kiwi awakening

Early flyers can kip at airport

Definition of Bureaucracy


"promoted beyond your good points"


"promoted despite your bad points"


"who gives a shit if you own it"


Pick a direction that the powerful really wants to go and prove mathematically that that is the bestest direction


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Jeffrey Sachs on the banking system



we’re predators i must admit
it’s human nature too
to seek a better living for
our wives and children too

but animals we’re not you see
it not just fine detail
we keep the law, control ourselves
and the bankers go to jail


Monday, 29 April 2013

Population pressure and model aircraft

When i was about 9 years old i developed a keen interest in aircraft. I guess i was no different to many boys. I wanted to grow up to be a pilot - i guess that's because growing up to be an astronaut was away in the future.

I would devour anything i could find about aircraft and i could rattle off all the specifications of any aircraft from the earliest days of flight right through to the early 50's.

I loved airplanes.

In those days you could buy model airplanes - Airfix, Revelle and the like. But i was not rich and the models were not cheap.

I needed an income that would allow me the freedom to buy and build whatever i wanted.

My mum and dad were animal freaks - we had every animal you could imagine to be had in Australia in the 60's - Birds of every species, dogs, cats, rats, mice, fish, kangaroos...

One day i was in a pet shop and i saw that they were selling mice and after inquiring about them i decided i would breed mice.

My dad got me a tea chest (a plywood box about half a cubic meter used to transport tea from India - these being the days long before tea-bags etc).

I set it up with a wire door and filled it full of shredded newspaper and food and water

and mice.

Pretty soon i had a lot of mice.

I was getting 20 cents for each mouse from the pet shops in Liverpool (Sydney). That money was enough for me to buy my model aircraft and the paints and glues i needed to construct what ended up being a really cool set of planes.

There was not much work to it - all i had to do was, every day or so, clean out all the filth and replace it with clean shredded newspaper and keep them fed and watered.

Money for nothing.

The thing was that i was breeding piebald and grey mice because those were the ones that the pet shop said they wanted.

One day i turned up at the pet shop with my box of mice and they told me "sorry son but we only want white mice now".

Bummer. That was a really big let-down i can tell you because i had already, as usual  planned exactly which model i was going to buy.

No sale, no money, no model.

I took my mice home and released them back into the tea chest.

Now, you have to understand that my parents were animal nuts - they had a big thing about kindness to animals and the idea of cruelty to animals in any way was abhorrent.

I grew up with that so i had no concept whatsoever of cruelty other than it was something that you just did not do.

I had spent my whole life with dogs and cats sleeping in my bed and animals gathering around me whenever i was in the back yard.

Here was i with a tea-chest full of continuously breeding mice and no way to deal with it.

Now, i can tell you i knew mice pretty well as a 9 year old (or maybe i was ten by then i really can't recall). I knew their behavior because i was looking at them every day. I even named most of them.

So, what happened when i could not remove mice from the tea-chest?

They just kept breeding and breeding and breeding.

And then i began to see things that were really quite disturbing.

Remember - i was like 9 or 10 - i did not really understand "sex" except as i was perceiving it in my mice.

So what did i witness?

Abandonment of baby mice - mothers just leaving them to starve.

Adult mice viciously attacking and devouring or partially devouring baby mice.

Homosexuality - now don't get me wrong - i had seen plenty of male mice attempting to mount other male mice but that had always been infrequent and met with aggression.

Now i was seeing homosexuality in all forms and all responses - as if it had suddenly become normal.

Violence, aberration and death.

That is what i witnessed.

It was many years later that i read studies along similar lines so i had to live with these revelations for a long time before i could come to terms with them.

At the time it freaked me out so much that i talked my dad into helping me take them out to the bush and releasing them into the wild.

Washing my hands of it all.

But i never forgot - ever.

I saw first hand what a population will do when everything is available except one thing.


Since then i have watched so may discussions about aspects of what i saw.

I have come to understand there are different levels of "illness".

One of them i call "sociological illness" - those expressions of behavior you only see when a population is under stress.

These days we can see every one of these aberrations occur, almost daily, in our world - from men raping and murdering 6 year old girls to women abandoning their children to men buggering men and worse.

These were all the things i saw in those mice when i was 10 years old.

How do we deal with these expressions today?

We either look on with abhorrence or we rationalize towards acceptance.

Wherever we fit in the scheme of things is no real escape form the consequences of our predicament - we are not so different to those mice and peer reviewed experiments have shown that what i witnessed as an innocent child are the real deal.

People get caught up in the right or wrong of how people think about how people behave relative to whatever "norm" is currently acceptable

But i know the truth.

Population pressure leads to every possible expression of behavior - acceptable or otherwise

How we accept it will vary with time and where we sit in it.

The real issue should not be "are sexually 'deviant' people bad".

the real issue should be how do we deal with population?


An Internet voting system based on bitcoin

Internet voting systems have both strong support (from vendors and committed users of e-voting systems) and what appears to be equally strong opposition (from the technical community).

There appears to be two aspects to internet voting:

  1. Ensuring that only those authorised to vote are the only people who do vote.
  2. Ensuring that there is no tampering with the votes between point of voting and point of counting.

The first of these will always carry some level of risk and that risk is no different from that with traditional paper based voting systems where the identification of the voter is required. How are we to be absolutely sure that the voter is in fact the voter we have on our list of authorised voters? What is proposed here is that solutions to the problem be allowed to evolve with time and advancing technology. Initially we could start with distribution of a "vote authorisation token" to authorised voters via the postal services. Though this is not perfect it appears to carry fewer risks than what might be achieved currently with electronic distribution. Also, the basis for most voter eligibility is residence. Eligible non-resident voters also have some physical connection that authorises them to vote such as being stationed somewhere or having equity in a property located within the electoral area.

Assuming that the distribution of a "vote authorisation token" is viable the next question then is how might we ensure that a cast vote progresses to the counting process without intervention?

The proposal is that the same principles used by bitcoin can be used to both transmit votes (transactions) and count them (account balances).

We propose that the distribution of "vote authorisation tokens" be nothing other than a bitcoin-like transaction of a vote from an electoral commission to the voter. This exactly parallels the payment of an amount of bitcoin money to a voter. The voter's balance then represents the number of votes he or she is authorised to cast. The voter in casting a vote is in effect making a payment-like transaction from his/her vote "wallet" to the "wallet" designated to  be the wallet of the vote counting point for a candidate - in other words the candidate's "account" held on a publicly visible "wallet".

The handling of the vote "transaction" is then exactly the same as that for monetary transactions in bitcoin. The "miners" would then be those organisations and individuals who have the most interest in the outcome of the election or contest. Major political parties would invest the most to ensure their rivals do not have dominance over transaction validation.

Every voter would be able to trace his or her vote through the transaction history giving full transparency.

The results would be available in real time - even where complex distribution of preferences are utilised. In such cases the false "random" nature of distributions would also be eradicated - leaving one and only one path through the distribution.


see also "what is a bitcoin"

i discover i was not the first person to think of this


Friday, 26 April 2013

gosh, Jeff Buckley - so so beautiful


What is A BitCoin?

What is "A bitcoin"?

Seems to me to be the biggest confusion i run across when trying to explain bitcoin to people.

Sites in plenty explain what "bitcoin" is but that leaves some people still confused.

Some of the confusion comes from thinking there are "coins".

There aren't any really - there are no "coins" in bitcoin.

I explain it like this

"A bitcoin is (at the time of writing) 1/25th the reward paid for confirming the validity of a block of bitcoin transactions"

Not so long ago it was 1/50th the reward.

In the not too distant future it will be 10/1250th the reward. It will get smaller until there are only rewards from transaction fees.

At any point in time there is also an exchange rate such that you could say:

"1 bitcoin is USD$150"

but there are still no bitcoins so to speak.

The decimal point in a bitcoin balance is in a way quite arbitrary. It set a starting point for an exchange rate.

bitcoin - whoever Satoshi Nakamoto is he/she/them and Adam Black should get a Nobel Prize for something absolutely stunning in it's brilliance - but otherwise i'm sure he/she/they are entitled to The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin creator, Visionary and Genius.



Buy with bitcoin? Sure you can!

Donate to us with Bitcoin


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

DropBox - slimy, insidious bastards who own a cool app

So ok i finally gave in and bought a smartphone.

It's not that i gave in really. It's because soon i will have a valid reason to own one - that i will be relocating to another country and i'll not have a job.

It's a South East Asian country and one thing they do have is cellphone coverage.

So anyway a smartphone looks like a sensible investment - GPS, translator, access to my data no matter where i am. Well, that's the theory.

I've been migrating into the cloud for about 3 years. Maybe "migration" isn't the best term - let's think of it more as setting up residence there - i'll pretty much never really trust any of them - so as well as having everything in the cloud i still have multiply backed up originals in 2TB disks located in two countries. If i could mount those safely somewhere it would be even better.

Back to my new smartphone. I detest Apple as a company (even more than i detest Microsoft and way more than i detest google) so i went with a Samsung.

The new Galaxy S4 is about to be released so i figured that S3s would be in that sweet spot of being still very useful but not so expensive - i got one for just over AUD$400.

The only hiccup was that my SIM card was too big but a quick trip to a local chinese phone shop soon trimmed it down to size.

I spent the weekend setting it up and playing with it.

Because i have already established myself in the cloud (google, Microsoft, Amazon, skype, VOIP, yahoo - you name it) and all my contacts, feeds, docs and all my thousands of photos are already on line, i was very quickly up and running with full access to everything i have access to on my desk and lap tops.

You could say that i'm way ahead of most people - in fact i am pretty sure i am (if you allow for the fact that 90% of the crap available as "apps" is games and low-brow "entertainment" and i don't have any of that).

So, pre-installed on my shiny new S3 is DropBox.

I'd tried DropBox on my desktop - sharing between work and home but i was not very impressed - in fact i thought it was rubbish compared to what i have with skydrive and google drive so i'd uninstalled it.

But i thought i'd give it another try on the smartphone. Ah slick - very slick - very well integrated into the phone.

And then i got an email saying i could have 48GB of free storage if i carried out 5 of 7 steps....

Of course no matter how you cut it one of those steps is to rat on a friend by coughing up their email address - a hot lead so to speak.

Of course i just used one of my many email addresses (i literally have an infinite number of them as i made the good investment of a low cost domain presence through goDaddy - as well as all the others - gmail, outlook, yahoo and lots of others all managed through my gmail account)

So now i'm being bombarded by very clever marketing spam from dopbox - both sides.

And get this - that so-called "free"48GB is only free for 24 months.

Talk about an insidious bunch of slimy crooked scum - they lure you into using as much on line space as they can possibly get you to use - and then they'll drop a big rental fee on you - when you're committed.

Well DropBox let me tell you that your business model might work with dumb people who have more money than sense - but anyone with any skill whatsoever (or the right app which will indeed soon appear) - will use the free 2GB as a staging location for their camera managed through their other systems.

I've shared my DropBox with my other more powerful and more generous systems - and now it's just a folder.

DropBox reminds me of Excite - was my absolutely favourite search engine and way better than google at the time but they rushed to monetize it. The rest is history.

If you want to dominate the market you have to have deep pockets and a long term strategy. Only once you have killed off all the real competition should you think about how to make money from things.

DropBox - cool and nicely integrated app owned by a bunch of impatient marketing clowns.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Honesty about dishonesty

Are you honest?


I don't think so

watch and see

ps i found this on


Saturday, 30 March 2013

This will cause a stir

but isn't it pretty practical advise?

Princeton Alumna To Female Princeton Students:

Find A Husband Before Graduation

…For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.


Wyler, Grace. Princeton Alumna To Female Princeton Students: Find A Husband Before Graduation. 2013-03-30. URL: Accessed: 2013-03-30. (Archived by WebCite® at