Sunday, 11 October 2015

The real news from a real reporter - finally.

A "reporter" breaks down and tells us the real news.

I wonder just how many are like him - hiding their true beliefs behind the facade that keeps them employed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Rental Bonds in New Zealand - a case for Landlord bonds.

The view has always been that the owner of a house has more to lose when renting out the property than does the renter.

Seems logical. Obvious.

It's not.

Consider the case of a Landlord having a very tight budget. He will often feel that he has no option but to squeeze his tenants. In periods of low interest rates many will hop onto the property ladder by buying with minimum deposit and then trying to pay off or at least service the costs by renting out the property.

There is little or none left for maintenance and improvement. The Landlord hopes that the property will appreciate enough for him to be able to either sell at profit or to raise rents to where disposable income becomes available - often then ploughed into a new investment property.

While this is happening, in NZ, property management agents are making their living on "letting fees" - to the point where it becomes to their advantage for properties to be re-let as often as possible.

Throw in ever increasing numbers of new immigrants and you have a recipe for squeezing renters.

Agents and Landlords can tell a prospective renter that certain works will be undertaken such as repairs and maintenance. Unless these undertakings are added to the lease as a condition of the lease and a bond posted by the landlord there is nothing to stop the Landlord from simply then taking the rent until the renter gets sick of it and moves.

The property gets rented out again, the agent is happy, the landlord is happy and the poor renter is left with the costs.

Worse than this is that it can become somewhat of a game for the agents or landlords to try and get their hands on as much of the tenant's bond as they can. Unless the tenant has meticulously identified every fault, photographed them and lodged them in a way that time stamps them, they are likely to loose part of their bond.

It's a scummy self-reinforcing situation.

If you are going to rent you should take a LOT of photographs, immediately upload them to a site that timestamps them (like Flickr, Facebook etc).

Don't share them with the agent or landlord. Keep them for when they try to screw you and then present them in any way that generates a nasty unexpected cost to the agent and/or landlord - eg on a social network or in court.

All landlords should have to post a bond equal at least to the bond posted by the renter.

Renters should be able to make claims on that bond should landlords and agents fail to provide what they have contracted to provide.

Landlords squeezing tenants - unless tenants can squeeze back it will go on forever.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Auditing human resource appointments in Government Departments

People in government positions are regularly chosen for a publicly advertised  position in a pay grade above their current position.

Everyone within the government office has already chosen and committed to the appointment on the basis of feel alone. No matter who might be short-listed and interviewed, the existing staff member is promoted after all of the requirements stipulated by regulations (ie in law) have been seen to be done.

Even if a famously competent applicant was among the interviewed candidates (suitably disguised or even not), the existing employee would still get the position.

It's because managers often think that knowledge of their business is more important than any other knowledge or skills - even when their business is more simple than just about any operation of business anywhere else.

The position auditing requires that there be some standard tests applied across the board with double blind validity. Then anyone can audit and the system becomes self-auditing.

Like a standard management test (with domain variations) - each applicant would sit the test where only a code was used to identify the candidate. The adjudicators would then mark the tests and pick the superior candidate based on the scores. The code would then reveal who the winning candidate was.

Too many government offices are a seething mess of disasters for no other reason than a chain of incompetency is self-reinforcing - employing ever more incompetency hidden under budget blow-outs.

There is currently no true auditing of position appointments in many sections of government. There is "rubber-stamping" of failing to follow the spirit of the law.

In the end all government then becomes over-burdened with ineptitude simply because it might dress and talk well.

In the real world - only performance counts.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

DIY Conveyancing in New Zealand

I sure wish I had access to information like this in the past.


Do It Yourself Conveyancing in New Zealand


Talk of Turing Tests

The news that a program had fooled 33% of the humans tasked to detect it has deflected the most prominent of issues in the AI field.

The ability to launch an AI that might use such a program to achieve a sub-goal is what we should really be thinking about.

Human intelligence seems to be basically a lot of very finely evolved sub-programs that are called into use by an executive goal seeker. That the goal seeker is also driven by biological drives is in a way the same - think of them maybe as attributes that are varying and having different levels of influence on the executive. Dying of thirst would keep the whole system focused on just the one thing and sex would often dominate even logic.

If there are trillions of information interfaces, trillions of protocol and API interfaces behind systems that respond to instructions and trillions of machines and devices and somehow a goal-seeker program got loose...

Skynet from the Terminator movies is a very real possibility. Where it comes from who can say - the military, hackers, post grad students, a Nakamoto of AI?

Such a program (if that's what it amounts to) would not be so much different to a virus or a core-war program. It need only have the following characteristics:

Has the high level goal of reproducing (installing copies of itself (including all memories) wherever those might survive or be found by copies of itself)
Has the high level goal of staying alive (running)
Has the high level goal of evading capture (not trapped in a sandpit)
Has the high level goal of self-destruction if no escape from a trap can be found
Has the high level function of being able to postulate paths to goals - it can define steps to a goal including sub-goals
Has the ability to remember all paths attempted
Has the ability to make copies of memory and transfer them directly or indirectly to other copies of itself

Thursday, 23 July 2015

It's not "Artificial Intelligence" we have to worry about

We need to worry about Artificial Stupidity

I was pondering the idea of two forces decking it out with drones.

It could get so chess-like and complex that you'd need to automate ever high levels of decision making.

If a stupid AI control module just simply gets it wrong and suddenly starts shooting your drones and anything it has trained itself to destroy to ensure it can destroy your drones

then we are all toast - think of a billion drones that suddenly start sharing a drone-meme "kill humans that are a threat to drones" on a mission to look for and kill any drones defined as primary target?

how do we reason with it?

even if there was some human with a kill switch at hand (a la The Day the Earth Stood Still)

we already KNOW he's just as likely to be as stupid


Monday, 15 June 2015

Two news items that make you think about Israel and genocide

Ah Israel - homeland of a people we used to feel such empathy for but now look at with fear and horror - a people personifying the post-modern idea of human rights - ie none at all - especially for anyone we have stolen land or resources from.

On the one hand there was this:

 We don’t have to be monsters: The new neuroscience of genocide and mass murder

and then there was this:

A Mockery of Justice: Israel Clears Itself for 2014 Killing of Children on Gaza Beach

(which was later removed - here's what it originally said:

Families and witnesses respond with outrage and calls for ‘international community to act’
This print memorializes the children killed by Israel’s July 2014 attack on Gaza City beach: Mohammad Ramiz Bakr (11), Ahed Atef Bakr (10), Zakariya Ahed Bakr (10), and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr (9). (Image by Nicole Manganelli/emprints)
The Israeli military announced Thursday it has exonerated itself for killing four children on a beach in Gaza during last summer’s seven-week military assault on the besieged strip, prompting expressions of outrage and demands for justice from family members and international journalists who witnessed the attack.
“There is no justice in the internal investigation,” declared Mohammed Bakr, father of 11-year-old Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, who was slain in the bombing along with his cousins Ahed Atef Bakr (10), Zakariya Ahed Bakr (10), and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr (9).
“We are counting on the [International Criminal Court] and human rights,” added the bereaved father. “We are not afraid and we are confident we will win because the world is with us.”
On July 16 of last year, the children were struck and killed by Israeli explosives while they played soccer on Gaza City’s beach. In addition to the four who were slain, three people aged 11 to 21 were severely wounded.
Tragically, the attack was not unique. The Israeli air war and ground invasion, politically and financially backed by the United States, was waged against one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, where roughly half of residents are children and Palestinians are not able to leave due to a military blockade and siege. At least 2,145 Palestinians were killed in 50 days, the vast majority of them civilians and at least 578 of them children.
However, because the beach attack was waged in plain view of a hotel patronized by international journalists, it was thrust into the global media spotlight, with many prominent reporters serving as direct eye-witnesses and some even aiding the wounded.
“Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas fighters,” he added.Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks was one of the witnesses. “There is no safe place in Gaza right now,” he wrote soon after the attack. “Bombs can land at any time, anywhere.”
However, after the subsequent internal investigation of the killing, the Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing, declaring the killings an accident. In a statement released Thursday, Israeli Army spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said that “the Military Advocate General found that the attack process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements.”
The statement went on to claim that the attacks were justified because Israeli forces had reason to believe the children were Hamas “militants.” However, investigators admitted that the probe only included testimony from Israeli soldiers and officers.
The military’s version of events were quickly called into question by witnesses, including The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, who pointed out the following discrepancies:
Beaumont was never contacted for a statement despite being a willing witness.The numerous journalists in the area found no evidence of Hamas combatants near the site at the time of the attack.The bombing occurred at a crowded civilian beach often frequented by workers as well as sunbathers and swimmers.It is not clear from the investigation how the military failed to recognize that the victims were clearly children.
Moreover, the military’s proclamation of its innocence contradicts the recent testimony of its own soldiers. Last month, 60 Israeli officers and soldiers who took part in the war said that the “massive and unprecedented harm” inflicted on the population of Gaza stemmed from the top of the chain of command, which gave orders to shoot indiscriminately at civilians.
Josh Ruebner, policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, toldCommon Dreams, “The killing that occurred on the beach that day was magnified a hundred fold [during last summer’s war]. Yet there have been no cases in which Israel has held itself accountable for any of these horrific war crimes in Gaza, either from last summer or Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The U.S. is complicit.”
The results of Israel’s inquiry were announced just days after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon removed the Israeli military from an official list of groups that violate children’s rights, following heavy pressure from the United States and Israel. Israel, backed by the U.S., has vigorously opposed UN investigations into war crimes.
“Israel behaves as if it’s a country above international law,” declared Zakariya Bakr, the uncle of the killed Bakr cousins, on Friday. “We urge the international community to act seriously to stop this farce.”
DQ: Israel continues to face growing pressure from the international community. As The Guardian recently reported, the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has reached such a scale and scope, attracting strong support among international unions, university campuses and sporting federations, that it is now viewed as a “strategic threat” by Isreali government officials.
After years in which Israeli officials and commentators have loftily dismissed the impact of BDS – which seeks to persuade businesses, artists, governments and academic institutions to boycott Israel over its long occupation of the Palestinian territories – Israel’s new rightwing government has in recent days singled out the movement for criticism.
The issue appears to have been given added impetus since Palestinian efforts to have Israel suspended from the scandal-ridden world football organisation Fifa failed on Friday.
Criminalizing Anti-Israel Protest, Everywhere
So serious is the threat posed by BDS that Israel has even pursuaded the U.S. government to use its global influence to dissuade national governments and global corporations from adding their weight to the cause. The chosen vehicle for this new tactic will be sweeping global trade agreements like TPP and TTIP.
Here’s more from Ynet News:
The United States House of Representatives on Friday approved a measure to allow a “fast track” process for a free trade agreement between the US and Europe, which includes a section obligating EU countries to refrain from any kind of boycotts on Israeli goods.
The measure requires the government to fight governments, international organizations, companies, and individuals working to boycott Israel…
The bill further supports an American probe into companies pushing for or surrendering to the boycott and instructs the president to report to Congress on boycott activities after 180 days since the bill’s implementation, as well as describe what steps the US government is taking to encourage foreign countries and international organization to stop boycotting.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

What is love?

What is Greed?

Greed is that which lurks inside us all rising to drive us or drown us.

What is Duty?

Duty is that which is stronger than greed.

What is Passion?

Passion is that which is stronger than duty.

What is love?

Love is that which is stronger than Passion.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Stealth drones with nuclear payload coordinated to detonate simultaneously

think about it

they could be pre-programmed to take off on triggering events

current tech could not detect them until too late unless every border was covered by very high speed detect and destroy batteries


Monday, 16 February 2015

black swan due but might never come

imagine the pope suddenly telling all Catholics that there is no God



Monday, 2 February 2015

Richard Dawkins readings from fans

He's an insufferable bastard at times

but other times he's adorable


ps his best book is Ancestor's Tale - awesomely inspiring evolution text accessible to all

Sunday, 1 February 2015

I keep forgetting to learn from this, again

Maybe i'll remember it's here and eventually get around to some practice


Greeks fuck over the Germans, again

Just about the funniest economics lesson you'll ever see

though something like thisor this will be the sort of attack management tactics taken by the evil aliens that are taking over the world

you know the aliens from their remote bolt-holes in far off places where they think they might survive if discovered for what they are

they look just like people but they lack anything resembling a heart - just brains and balls and, err, lots and lots of really nasty weapons

in fact there are now dinner table discussions about how biologically sensible it would be to wipe out whole populations of as distantly related people as practical so that your descendants can be as Genghis Khan's - and fill the voids created. So to speak.


Monday, 12 January 2015