29 December 2009

Climate change: Global warming is a real threat

Ivo Vegter recently did a great post on climate change. In this post, he argues that admitting that we don't know enough about climate change is perfectly acceptable - and preferable - to jumping to conclusions either way. Certainly, we are nowhere near a state where we can sign on the dotted line in Copenhagen, carbon capping and taxing all carbon-based lifeforms and their carbon spewing ways when there is no conclusive evidence to suggest a link between carbon dioxide and global warming. I would like to take a different approach here, basing my arguments on the laws of thermodynamics.

The laws of thermodynamics


The laws of thermodynamics describe energy flow in thermodynamic processes. In simple terms, they describe the flow of heat. I was introduced to these laws in chemistry, where we basically used the laws to determine whether reactions are exothermic (release heat) or endothermic (absorb heat). There are four laws of thermodynamics, namely:
  1. Zeroth Law: There is a regression towards thermal equilibrium. This law is necessary to define heat flow and was added after the others, hence the number 0. It is also a bit of a geek joke to start numbering from 0, in case you were wondering.

  2. First Law: Matter and energy are conserved. You cannot create matter or energy, you can only let them change forms. This means the song Making love out of nothing at all by Air Supply is horse shit, and not only because it's lame and it makes me increase entropy by vomiting.

  3. Second Law: Entropy always increases. Entropy means different things in different disciplines. In information science, entropy is a measure of chaos. More entropy means more chaos. In physics, entropy is an indication of available energy. More entropy means less available energy. Ultimately, any work performed tends to release energy, meaning your available energy decreases. This means that Sepultura is right: Chaos A.D.

  4. Third Law: Absolute zero is unattainable. This means that there is no scale ranging from a definite cold point to a definite hot point. You have hotter and colder, but this is relative to the participants in your thermodynamic system. Taking away things that make heat is not a certain way to make your system colder because you have to play the game and you're not the only one playing.


How to remember the laws of thermodynamics


C. P. Snow (that's Charles Percy Snow, not 'see and pee snow', smart ass) devised these rules for the layman (he had other plans for lay women. Plans that involved yellow snow):
  1. You have to play the game. C. P. Snow did not devise this rule, but it was added later with the Zeroth Law.

  2. You cannot win. The more you fight, the more the system fights back. If you quit fighting, you're still fighting.

  3. You cannot break even, except if it gets extremely cold. This means that you can only truly break even when thermal equilibrium is at a final minimum.

  4. It doesn't get that cold. Meaning, it doesn't get cold enough to establish a definite, final thermal equilibrium that will never change again.


How do the laws of thermodynamics dictate climate change?


The earth is viewed as a closed thermodynamic system. This means that the earth is the equivalent of a big greenhouse. Closed thermodynamic systems can exchange energy, but not matter, with its surroundings. The greenhouse gets energy from outside and releases energy to the outside - even though it does trap some of that energy inside. The greenhouse does not however move matter in and out through its glass panes, unless there's a poltergeist at work.

The Zeroth Law says Mother Earth has to play ball


It is important to note that no system can be truly closed. This is where the zeroth law of thermodynamics comes into play (you have to play the game). Your greenhouse will have a sun that heats it. Not only the sun, but also other greenhouses may exchange energy with your greenhouse, and in turn your greenhouse exchanges energy with them. This exchange carries on until thermal equilibrium is reached. This thermal equilibrium is not necessary at a warmer or colder point than from where we started, as no thermodynamic system is truly closed. There are more greenhouses than we could ever count.

The First Law says Mother Earth has to crack a few eggs to bake an omelette


We have to leave carbon footprints. Of course we can argue for or against bigger carbon footprints, but the fact remains that life on this planet needs to happen, and it needs to make carbon dioxide while happening.

The Second Law says Mother Earth is going to get hot - maybe


This is because as soon as we have a colder, smaller footprint, our greenhouse is colder than the one next door. Our greenhouse then sucks the heat from that one, until thermal equilibrium is reached once again. This is inevitable for as long as we have a closed thermodynamic system.

For as long as we live in the hypothetical greenhouse, there is no way of ensuring that our greenhouse will get colder by making the things inside colder. Your fridge does not turn into an oven when you put a cup of smoking hot coffee inside it. Similarly, your oven does not turn into a fridge when you leave a tray of ice cubes inside it while it is on. The only way to ensure this scenario is by moving towards a point of absolute zero. That is, by switching off the oven, by unplugging the refrigerator and leaving them both wide open.

The Third Law says we can't unplug the sun


Switching off the oven and unplugging the refrigerator will not make us cooler, unless of course we were in Knysna or in Cape Town. It will make our carbon footprints smaller, but it's just not cricket. Since there is no absolute zero, we have no way of guaranteeing that we're going to go from warmer to colder by making our carbon footprints smaller.

I'm not saying don't hug the trees


Finally, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not suggesting we should do away with environmentalism. Certainly it is important to be conscientious and to take good care of our environment. It might not make the world a colder place, but it will make the world a more habitable place for ourselves and our fellow toxic carbon dioxide emanating friends. I do not however believe that any amount of paid vacations to Copenhagen or Kyoto for politicians who want to cap and tax carbon emissions on the one hand while saving the most toxic industries on the other hand is a smart way to ensure that people leave smaller carbon footprints. The fuel guzzlers of General Motors, the new hybrid cars in lieu of other alternatives and our own Eskom - dubbed the number one pollutant in the world - who still want to build coal stations in lieu of cleaner, safer, nuclear stations seem to suggest that there are ulterior motives. These motives are not guided by science nor by morality, but by the darker, colder side of human nature.

What is the answer?


Deregulate the energy industries and allow the market - which has long since indicated that it is ready for green fuel - to dictate what kind of cars we drive, the kind of energy we'd like and the kind of footprints we want to leave. If you are unhappy about your fuel guzzler, R & D something better and sell it to your neighbours. If you can manufacture it cleaner, safer and with less bureaucracy, why not? If you can't, you risk losing out to your neighbour who can.

Why global warming is a real threat


Global warming is a very real threat, but not due to environmental reasons. It is a threat to individual liberty. Without the freedom to produce what you'd like and how much of it you'd like to produce, we are at risk of losing economic specialisation. Without specialisation, we are at risk of returning to sustenance farming - if we are lucky. If we are not this lucky, we return to feudalism where we can only grow or produce what we are legally allowed to produce, and how much we are dictated to produce by Big Bother. Whether this results in a bigger or smaller carbon footprint is immaterial, thanks to the laws of thermodynamics and our closed system. We could of course destroy the ozone layer and shake things up a bit, but this might not be too wise (a bit like unplugging the sun, which again is no guarantee).

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible" - Frank Zappa

More regulation means less opportunities to deviate from the norm, which in turn means less progress. Something to consider before we chant for our alpha primates to sign dotted lines on paid vacations in exotic locations.

13 December 2009

The political theory of evolution

This is the theory of evolution as it applies to politicians. Most of us have seen this picture:
evolution

Evolution as it applies to us cubicle dwellers.

Why do politicians always have one hand in the air?


I noticed the other day that politicians always seem to have one hand in the air. This must be something their life coaches or NLP gurus teaches them.

Following this observation, I found a few pictures of politicians and this is the evolution I noticed:

jeremy cronin salute

julius malema salute



Obviously, Jeremy Cronin has to be the least evolved out of the three politicians I chose. This because he is the South African Communist Party deputy secretary general. Anybody who has been involved with communism for that long without having heard of Russia, Cuba and Cambodia's histories and connecting the dots has to be a few leather studs short of a kinky. He also has his arm and his hand the lowest of the three.

Next in line is Julius Malema. You can see he is more evolved because he needs less supportive eye wear and he has the gall to raise his hand higher. This is not making a cabinet, this is about making cabinet, so Julius is in his element. Like a pig in shit.

Finally, we have the politician who dared to raise his hand higher than them all: Adolf Hitler. A good example of why us commoners should stay out of politics entirely and leave it to the blue blood. Not the Blue Bull fans.

My fellow South Africans, I urge you to censor our politicians. We have to ensure that they do not dare to raise their hands this high when they are talking to us. Correlation does not imply causality, but it could imply casualties if we are not careful. Our politicians should not be allowed to raise their hands, unless of course they want to put them over their mouths. For this reason, we should embed the following command in all TelePrompTers: "Raise your hand, but not as high as Hitler did" .

29 November 2009

Drag Me To Hell DVD Review

Drag Me to Hell film poster

Five Lines That Dominate Review


A capitalist pig gringo girl perturbs a gypsy lady (who looks in slightly better shape than Manto “Chaka-laka” Tshabalala-Msimang) by refusing to exacerbate the sub-prime mortgage crisis. That is, she refused to grant people who can't pay their loans extra credit, thereby helping all of us in the long run because our tax money goes to social services (hence people who can't pay won't be out on the street) and the rest of us have to pay no matter what. The gypsy lady does not approve and summons an evil goat-herding Che Guevara communist spirit to haunt the poor capitalist girl. Lots of people get possessed and start convulsing with their eyeballs spinning in their sockets and lots of bodily fluids squirting all over everything plus the kitchen sink. They all still manage to end up looking in better shape than Manto, even while being dragged to Cuba er, I mean hell.

Plot


Elisha Cuthbert
Elisha Cuthbert likes to live on the edge in this day of Islamic radicals and militant PETA plant pathogens who have too much risk of brain atrophy to control their violent outrage. She does not appear in this film. Woe is me.

NFL Cheerleaders
The NFL Cheerleaders do not appear in this film either. Woe is me once more. They are a little too old for Roman Polanski.

I'm terribly sorry, but I seem to have lost the plot.

Tapping the Long Tail Review


Screw this. All you need to know is that Drag Me to Hell lives up to the hype. A few minor gripes include the fact that the white meat scene wasn't graphic enough, the ending relies too much on computer generated imagery and the classic switch is hardly an innovative means to drive a plot.

However, this is Sam Raimi we are talking about. He has the uncanny ability to flog a dead horse back into a zombie steed. This is camp, self-conscious and classy in ways that Zombie Strippers could only dream of being. Tally buckets of blood, brilliant music by Christopher Young (as per usual) and a fresh scream queen and Raimi has nearly redeemed himself of the Spiderman 3 heresy.

Director


Sam Raimi.

Cast


Adriana Barraza.
Alison Lohman.
Justin Long.
Dileep Rao.
Lorna Raver.


Rating


top horror review ratings

22 November 2009

Meteor shower sighted in Gauteng

Last night a few friends and I were having a much deserved party after finishing this year's studies. We were sitting outside on the stoep smoking hubbly and having a few drinks. At approximately 11 pm, the sky lit up, becoming almost as bright as daylight. I turned around, having observed the light as coming from behind me, and saw a bulb on the horizon. The bulb was a bright light, with the rest of the sky glowing in blue and green colours, almost as big as the ass of Jennifer Lopez. Astonishing!

Meteor shower
This is not what it looked like at all. We could not observe any particles, only a very bright glow in the entire sky. This picture is from the BBC article to give you an idea of what it was.

A few girls were at the opposite end of the building. They came running around, asking if we'd seen the UFO. Apparently they also observed a bulb on the horizon, with the exception that the glow had been red and orange instead of our green and blue.

Naturally, we were curious to find out what this UFO is. We knew it couldn't be ESKOM's doing because they don't have that kind of power. Some party-goers suggested that it's time to go to church, but I pointed out that this would raise more questions than it could provide answers. What is the nature of the UFO?


The Leonids Meteor Shower


It appears that we were fortunate enough to witness the Leonids. The Leonids get their name from the constellation Leo, from which their stream of meteors appears to originate at roughly 17 November each year. The Leonids are a result of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Tempel-Tuttle is a comet that passes the earth each 33 years. Tempel-Tuttle last passed the earth in 1998. The Leonids are debris in the trail of the comet. Every time the earth passes through the trail, we get a meteor shower.

We thought it could be the end of the world. Naturally this made the beer taste better and forced me to stop giving the other people a chance at Tekken 6. Yes, the Mash Master showed no mercy.

Further Information About the Tempel-Tuttle Comet


09 November 2009

I Know Who Killed Me DVD Review


A Conclusive Five Line Review


This film stars Lindsay Lohan. Usually, that's the worst feature of a film. However, in the case of this blatant Shock rip-off, that is about the only redeeming feature of this film. Utter shyte - unless you happen to enjoy perving Lindsay Lohan. She looks quite fit here.

Plot


A serial killer is on the loose and you know who it is the first time you see him. The killer captures and kills a popular girl. Or does he?

Review


This film received negative reviews all around. I must say it's not entirely without its entertaining features. Lindsay Lohan delivers quite a convincing performance as a teen brat and later as a teeny bopper who lives a life of wanton abandon. Drugs, strip clubs and underage drinking and underage sex. I wonder how much of this was acting? Very Method. Stanislavski would be proud of Lindsay.

The worst features of this film are:
  • The editing. It's just sloppy. It is true that the use of colour in this film is quite engrossing, although it is not quite cut from the same cloth as Dario Argento's Susperia as some reviewers have claimed.

  • The killer. The guy is a cripple and he gets beaten up by teenage girls. That's not scary. Considering that this film is essentially a serial killer suspense thriller, you can't have a boring boogie man. If you really must have an affirmative action villian, at least do it with style, like they do in Saw.

I'd love to swim against the stream and offer a dissenting opinion, but in this case I'm afraid I really can't. This film sucks. And not in a good way like Lindsay Lohan might. To be honest, I think I'd much prefer to see Lindsay in a homemade sex video ala Paris Hilton than in mainstream films. Except Lindsay can actually act. That's why she gets parole and Paris doesn't.

Lindsay Lohan DUI arrest courtesy of Wikipedia

Lindsay Lohan. Is she really acting when she portrays a drinking drug-binging teenage brat stripper? It looks like she's hiding her tik in her breast pocket, Napoleon style.

Director


Christ Sivertson, the proud owner of quite a few Golden Raspberry Awards thanks to this film.

Cast




Rating


necro files rating skulls dvd review only one this time sorry Lindsay

02 November 2009

Zombie Strippers DVD Review

Conclusion


At last: the moment we have all been waiting for. An opportunity to see porn star Jenna Jameson with her clothes on. To those in the Middle East, it means an opportunity to finally see Jenna Jameson's face without a veil inserted by some censorship bureau of one kind or another.

zombie strippers jenna jameson robert englund dvd review

Plot


A bunch of porn stars decide to break into mainstream films by doing their usual routine of 'don't look at the camera' faces, 'don't break my nails' gun toting and deadpan, wisecrack humour with the notable exception that they are wearing clothes most of the time. Oh, there are zombies that are naturally caused by chemical weapons of the Bush administration. And sometimes they strip.

Review


There are many technical defects in this film that are like named bullets for the cast in the arsenal of any serious film critic. Naturally, Jenna Jameson has quite a few bullets with her name on them. Yet if you can look past the deficiencies and remember that films are supposed to be about entertainment, the self-conscious nature of this film is nearly as effective as the same approach used in Mars Attacks.

The strong electro magnetic pulse used to temporarily disable the zombies looks more like a free download screensaver that calls home to a website that emails you about viagra and making your schlong schlonger. The porn starlets are so familiar with putting on come to bed eyes that they persist with this mannerism, even when zombified. Yet the only true criticism I have for this film is that it does not have enough heavy metal on the soundtrack. This means that, just like a Spice Girls video and real pornography, the music is the worst feature of the fanservice.

Zombie Strippers offers buckets of blood, gratuitous boob shots and zombies in the Romero tradition, namely zombies as a metaphor for the complacency of the public when it comes to political affairs. If you are the type of person who would pick up a film called Zombie Strippers in the first place, there is not much here that will disappoint you. Not even Jenna Jameson quoting Nietzsche while popping bubblegum.

Director


Jay Lee

Cast



Rating


rating skulls

03 October 2009

Mensa New Words Game

Mensa, those erudites of the round table, have invented this word game whereby you invent new words by changing only one letter of existing words. Indeed, the world's brightest people would rather dick around playing word games than aid the rest of us. If the world's best minds think we are hopeless, who am I to argue?

The Mensa New Words Game


  1. Take any word from the dictionary.

  2. Alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter.

  3. Supply a new definition.


An example is the Mensa New Words for 2005. Mensa dictionaries must be filled with crayon marks. Despite being considered beyond help by Mensa, I've been playing this game on a forum for a while and these are some of the best entries:

Some of the best entries


addherent, n:
A person who buys a product because they liked the commercial.

brandwidth, n:
  1. A range in which the brands of your accessories are visible.

  2. The capacity for transferring awareness of the brands of your accessories, often kept artificially high.

devine, adj:
  1. Of or pertaining to software development skills seemingly of divine origin.

  2. Addressed, appropriated, or devoted to a god-like developer.

  3. Superhuman developer.


clairvoydance, n:
  1. The supposed power to see money going out of your account that cannot be perceived by the senses.

  2. Acute intuitive insight or perceptiveness about you going bankrupt.

idolt, n:
A fan of Pop Idols.

nonosecond, n:
The space of time between noting that you have clicked the 'exit' button by accident and the application closing and tossing 45 minutes' wikiwork into the ether.

octopis, n:
The eighth visit to the toilet in less than two hours that advises you that you've had enough beer now and should go home

pedimentary, adj:
  1. Having a knowledge of Sepedi that resembles sediment.

  2. A portmanteau of Sepedi and elementary, suggesting an elementary knowledge of Pedi.

  3. See also: http://www.watkykjy.co.za/2009/10/hey-julius.html


perpluxed, adj:
  1. The look of bewilderment, confusion and tear-filled eyes after one plucks an unwanted hair.

  2. Involved in a de-feathering or hair removal of some kind.

prosthetnics, n:
  1. The digital image editing practice of replacing a member of one ethnic group with another.

  2. See also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8221896.stm

relard, v:
The act of gaining back all the weight you lost as soon as you fall back into your evil ways, post-diet.

retart, n:
Someone who is both slow and loose.

01 October 2009

Metacritique of "The Objectivist Ethics"

The following responds to a critique of "The Objectivist Ethics". Regular readers might have guessed that I am a bit of a Randroid. My numbering corresponds to the numbering of the author. To follow things smoothly, you have to read the critique and my metacritique next to each other.

1. Rand's argument


Objection to i
The fact that Ayn Rand does not offer an argument for 1 does not make it false. This piece does not offer a counter argument. That besides, Ayn Rand bases Objectivism on axioms. Per definition, axioms are not proven but assumed to be true.

Objection to ii
The alternatives need to be there for either schools of value to be satisfied. Absolute good is in contrast with less good options, relative good is in contrast with other worse options. A million US dollars, or South African Rand, has to be compared with something of lesser value (a million Zimbabwean Dollars, for instance) to be considered valuable.

Objection to iii
Non-living things cannot make value judgements as far as we know. This is the point of the fact that they cannot face alternatives: they cannot choose to be living things. We can.

Objection to iv
These two interpretations, oddly enough, seem to reinforce the idea that value has to be of value to someone. Value as a verb implies an agent that values. Value as an absolute implies comparison with less valuable or more valuable things, which begs the question valuable to whom? This again implies an agent that compares.

Objection to v
The implicit premise 7 is derived incorrectly.

Rand's premise: 6. Every living thing acts to maintain its life, for its own sake.
The author's implied premise: 7. There is no other thing that they act to gain or keep for its own sake.

In other words, agent does x because of y. This does not mean that an agent can't do z because of y (or an agent can't do other things merely for their own sake). Rather, Rand's implied premise seems to be that an agent cannot do x because of z (namely an agent cannot act to maintain itself for the sake of someone else), not that there are no other things that agents do for their own sake.

The author focuses on this incorrect premise 7, thus v is a classic strawman argument. It is important to read the entire 6 and to understand that agents act to maintain themselves for their own sake. v claims that this implies innate values, which it does not. As per 2 and 3, Rand claims that agents choose among alternatives according to what they value. Thus, values cannot be innate as instinct. They are a result of volition. Rocks cannot act to satisfy value systems, regardless of the value their kinetic energy might have to us.

Objection to vi
This breaks up 6 and gets lost in semantics. Again, 6 claims agents maintain themselves for themselves. Nothing more.

Objection to vii
This again focuses on the incorrectly derived premise 10. Rand stated that an agent's life is its ultimate value, at the heart of its values. This is why Rand stated that life is valuable for its own sake. It is thus rational to act in order to promote life. The derived premise states that Rand claimed it is rational to act in order to promote one's values. This does not follow from Rand's statements (unless one's values are necessarily in tune with promoting one's life), as Rand claimed that values are volition.

You may choose to have any values whatsoever, and acting to satisfy them is not necessarily tantamount to promoting your life. Rand claimed that it is rational to act to promote your life, therefore you should choose values accordingly. NOT that you should act to promote your values. If this were true and your values were not chosen to promote your life, your values - and not your life - would have the ultimate value.

vii begs the question why is it rational to act to satisfy values, if they do not promote your own life? This, I belief, is the point Rand was trying to make. We should, therefore, act to promote our own lives, and allow others to act to promote their own lives. This is the real meaning of altruism: to allow agents to live for their own sake and not to require other agents to live for your own sake, or to live for the sake of others.

Objection to viii
Another strawman argument. Rand did not claim that living without 100% reason results in instant death. She merely claimed that we as agents should be allowed to use our ultimate survival tool, namely reason. Reason here refers to acting in your own best interest in order to maintain your life, and allowing others the same course of action. This because the assumption is that life has value for agents, for its own sake.

3. General arguments against ethical egoism


This argument does not follow from Objectivist ethics. This argument begs the question who is forcing you to torture 500 people for the benefit of a dime? This scenario implies the absence of volition, which means Objectivist values do not apply.

4. Attacking straw men


Rand never claimed that moral values are arbitrary. Rand claimed that values should be based on that which keeps you alive. This is hardly arbitrary.

By the metaphysical nature of man and of existence, man has to maintain his life by his own effort; the values he needs—such as wealth or knowledge—are not given to him automatically, as a gift of nature, but have to be discovered and achieved by his own thinking and work. - Ayn Rand, Wikiquote.

This contradicts what the author claims about Rand's values. Another strawman argument, based on the incorrectly derived premise 7, which as discussed was not Rand's implied premise but of the author's own invention.

5. Man qua man and fudge words


Rand never claimed that life is a state of not being dead. On the contrary, to claim this is to miss the entire point of egoism. With Man Qua Man, Rand claimed this:

Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life. - Ayn Rand, Wikiquote.

The author again conducts a strawman argument by claiming Rand claims Life Qua Existence (which is the kind of Latin that Monty Python would probably not approve), and neglecting the basic purpose of Objectivist ethics, namely happiness.

Simply being alive is thus not the same as Rand's notions of acting in a rational manner to promote living in happiness.

6. Rand's intuitions


That is why there are no divergent views about mathematical theorems--when Euclid wrote his Elements, no one disagreed with it or presented arguments against it. That's because Euclid had actually proved his theorems.

Mathematics isn' t my field, but as far as I understand there is actually quite a bit of controversy concerning the axioms of mathematics. Particularly Euclid's axioms, which falls apart when gravity becomes too strong, becoming a mere approximation of physical space.

Besides, Euclid' s theorems are proved in exactly the same manner that Ayn Rand proved her Objectivist ethics, namely by defining axioms (self-evident truths) and arguing from them. Euclid never actually proved his axioms either, which is why they are called axioms.

If Euclidean geometry were so uncontroversial, why do we need Non-Euclidean geometry?

When we confront this sort of thing, it is imperative that we remember that Rand gave no argument for ethical egoism. She assumed egoism, discussed other propositions at some length, and then said that she proved it.

Again, not true. Rand proposed certain axioms and argued for egoism from these axioms. In this manner, Rand's theorems are proved just as much as Euclid' s theorems are proved, with the validity depending on the validity of the underlying axioms.

Now, I am not saying this means the concepts are illegitimate, nor does this, by itself, show that her argument is wrong (though the objections I raised in section 2 do).

The author does not claim that Rand was wrong, just that Rand was not right. What exactly does the author claim then? How do the objections raised in section 2 swing this either way?

The author in question focuses on absolute self-interest (more akin to selfishness), and neglects to consider the term 'rational self-interest' as a whole. The author does not actually critique Objectivist Ethics (which argues for rational self-interest) at all, but argues against irrational self-interest at the expense of another agent's rational self-interest. The irony is that altruism presumes it is noteworthy to act in the best interest of others, except if others want to act in their own best interest, as this would be selfish. Thus, under altruism, it is impossible to act in anybody's best interest, as nobody else can know your best interest, and acting in your own best interest is not selfless and thus not altruistic.

24 September 2009

Lip synching exercise

Following hot on the heels of our pixilation project, we received a lip synching exercise and a cel animation exercise. This in addition to our actual term project, which we received too little time for from the outset.

What I wanted to submit



Lip synch test from Garg Unzola on Vimeo.



Turns out blunt honesty isn't that great for marks, so I scrapped that idea.

What I submitted in the end



Lip synching exercise from Garg Unzola on Vimeo.



Unfortunately I suck at exporting Flash files to video so you don't get the full effect of the movieclips at the end. The quality is bad, but you get the idea.

20 September 2009

Hot hot rack

This chick has the hottest rack I have ever seen:



At least, I hope that's a chick.

19 September 2009

Blocking Para Sites

My week hasn't gone particularly well. Firstly, my computer blew up in blue smoke. Then, my replacement computer ended up not being all that compatible with software I need to run for projects. There is also a distinct possibility that I may have swine flu. Some members of the Illiterati tried to mug me three times this week. I say try because there is circumstantial evidence that implicates me in assault and propagating hate speech. The lesson you learn from this is don't fuck with me. In more diplomatic terms, this rule is expressed as do unto others as you would like to be done unto yourself. Same thing, if expressed with more syntactic sugar. I don't like being fucked with, so I do my best not to fuck with other people. You get the idea.

What to do if a website fucks with you


Suggest that you have a particularly shitty ISP. Suggest that this ISP is called isturb. Suggest that isturb decided it's an anurism inducing brainwave idea to hijack your browser and redirect it when you've reached your cap. Suggest that it doesn't help to try and reason with their technical support because they are shaved apes trained to answer: "Eish hauwa I duno maybe you should buy more bandwidth?" to every query they get. The lives of homo habilis must be eventful, going from one angsty, vengeful, ranting nerd to the next, interspersed with the erratic lunch break or two.

Stop spam websites from hijacking your browser


Enough pointless rage for one day. Let's look at an amazingly blunt way to stop any website from hogging your precious bandwidth. The answer lies in your hosts file. More classy nerds than I have figured out bigger and better tricks by now. But seriously, my computer is just a fancy mp3 player, so this is what you and I can do to stop these cretins from fucking with us:

  1. Find your hosts file. This is not as hard as it sounds. Unfortunately, suggest that your ISP is so shitty that it doesn't provide software that runs on Linux. It claims that it supports Linux, but those half-baked jackasses would probably suggest to you to install wine and run an exe. Suggest that you are vendor-locked on Windows, find your hosts file here. Linux nerds will find their hosts file in the /etc/ directory.

  2. Ensure that you have the righs to edit your hosts file. Windows users: this means right clicking on the file, clicking on properties and unticking the box that says Read only. Open the hosts file in notepad or something similar. Linux nerds need no lecture on rights or where to find the hosts file on Linux.

  3. Edit your hosts file. After you identified the source of your peril, simply tell the source of your peril to redirect to your ass so it may kiss your ass. Your ass naturally lives in your home. In PC speak, home is 127.0.0.1. Suggest that the source of your ISP peril is www.isturb.co.za. This means you add the following line to your hosts file:

    127.0.0.1 isturb.co.za

    This line says home is the place where isturb may find your ass to kiss it. By the way, the first line in your hosts file is generally:

    127.0.0.1 localhost

    This wasn't in my hosts file, so I put it there. Seems to work better with this line.

  4. Save and close your hosts file. Don't be a bright spark and save it as a text file. The hosts file should have no extension. It should be hosts. Period.

  5. For the paranoid: Ensure that you don't have the rights to edit your hosts file. After you edited the hosts file, right click on it, select properties and tick the read only box again. This is probably not necessary until it's too late.


From now on, isturb will no longer redirect your browser to their spam infested hades. Nay, nay, from now on, whenever isturb tries to do that, your browser will redirect to some arb place hosted on your local computer. My other computers on the home network sometimes do funky google searches, or they simply give a 404. Bitchin. No more hogging my browser, hypothetical fucktards.

Update


Some websites, like the hypothetical isturb, might use slightly different URLs to try and spam you with their malware. To counter this, you might have to add the different URLs to your hosts file. In theory, you can add all the aliases for a particular IP address next to it in the hosts file, like this:

127.0.0.1 isturb.co.za www.isturb.co.za http://www.isturb.co.za/whatever.html

However, I found that it works better to use all the variants on separate lines in Windows XP, like this:

127.0.0.1 isturb.co.za
127.0.0.1 www.isturb.co.za
127.0.0.1 http://www.isturb.co.za/whatever.html

Note that there should be a space between the IP address and the URL. I use tabs just to make things neater. That seems to do the trick.

09 September 2009

Bile of Man free mp3 download promotion

Bile of Man is a South African death metal band I've had the pleasure of seeing once or twice. I also included them among my best bands on myspace list. They are currently giving away free mp3s as part of a promotion.

Bile of Man logo

You may download the mp3s here:
Bile of Man promo tracks.

To the real geeks, the tracks are also available in ogg format.

Descendant of Desecration


The first aspect of Bile of Man that kicks you in the face is the strong Dying Fetus influence. The second aspect is the foundation of some fine sound. The guitars are still a little raw, but for the most part the production serves to build a wall of sound, with some interesting stereo effects and a few disembowelling bass parts. Oh, and they can keep time, which is something of a novelty for most South African bands.

Wrath of the Stillborn


Descendant of Desecration has a few risky tempo changes, but Wrath of the Stillborn is the better of the two tracks in my opinion. It kicks off with some arsenic blast beats that flow into even more putrid blasts. Then, some awesome diabolus in musica riffs, followed by an orgy of chaotic chromatic riffs that reminds of Cryptopsy before they became Coretopsy. For the grand finale, you get some blasphemous pinch harmonics that would get Zakk Wylde fired from Ozzy Osbourne's band.

03 September 2009

White South African gets asylum in Canada

Brandon Huntley made the news this week because he managed to convince the Canadian authorities that he was being targeted by criminals because of his race. He also opened a can of worms because South Africa is meant to be the land that Nelson Mandela magically fixed with his pixie dust and his car bombs.

Brandon Huntley white South African refugee from racial persecution

Brandon Huntley, the South African refugee from racial persecution.


Brandon Huntley's refugee status


Refugee status is granted to those who meet the following United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees criteria:

A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it

Brandon Huntley's refugee status is thus granted because he feels that:

  • He is being persecuted in his own country due to his membership of a particular ethnic group.

  • The South African government is unwilling or unable to protect him.



We can determine whether the Canadian government made a proper ruling without applying political pressure. It is a simple matter of answering the following questions:
  • Do other members of Brandon Huntley's ethnic group in South Africa agree that they are being persecuted due to their race?

  • Is the South African government unwilling or unable to acknowledge that they feel this way?


The feeling of white South Africans


The majority of white South Africans feel that the government's affirmative action and BEE policies amount to persecution for the sins of Apartheid. This is judging by the main reasons given by those who are leaving the country in drones, namely the high rates of violent crime in South Africa and the government's employment policies.

65 % of the participants in a recent South African newspaper survey answered that they do believe that applying for asylum on the basis of race is justified ("Is applying for foreign citizenship on racial grounds justified?").

It is hard to determine whether these figures have a racial basis, but it is clear that the majority of those who leave the country are unhappy about the South African government's interference with the labour market and that the majority feels South Africans are justified to apply for foreign citizenship on racial grounds.

Clearly, Brandon Huntley is not alone in feeling persecuted in South Africa because of his race. It is thus not a case of determining whether or not some ethnic groups feel that they are being persecuted in South Africa. Rather, it is a matter of determining how the government is dealing with the problem of this feeling of racial persecution in South Africa.

The South African government's response


This is where things get really interesting. Recall that asylum status depends on the feeling of being persecuted and the inability of a government to respond to these feelings.

The South African government responded to the news by labelling the Canadian decision racist. Way to go, South Africa. You just legitimised Brendan Huntley's claim that your government is unable or unwilling to accept that some of your citizens feel persecuted because of their race.

The South African government is now in talks with the Canadian government to review the decision. Way to go, South Africa. You have now also shown the world that your legal system is so entwined with your political system that your politicians can attempt to overturn independent if embarrassing court rulings - even when they are from another country.

Is the refugee status justified?


What we have here now is a South African population that feels applying for asylum based on your race is justified and a government that denies them the opportunity to apply for asylum from foreign governments, going so far as to use diplomatic pressure to seek to overturn independent court rulings regarding asylum. In my opinion, the refugee status has been legitimised not by Brandon Huntley's asylum status, but by the response of our government. I think Minor Threat said it best but Slayer did it best:


Slayer's cover of Guilty of Being White. Taken completely out of context and whatever other lame excuse you may find to try and undermine its message.

Syd Kitchen is right: Africa is after all, not for sissies.

27 August 2009

Pixilation project

This is a pixilation project I did for university. Enjoy!

These boots are made for walking



Pixilation Project from Garg Unzola on Vimeo.



Details


  • Camera: Canon PowerShot A430. Tip: Don't try stop motion with a happy snappy. Use some decent hardware.

  • Images: about 324. Excluding the ones I had to redo because my Canon gave blurry shots, despite the fact that I'd used a timer and wasn't touching the camera.

  • Beer: about 4 l.

  • Music: Peaches En Regalia by Frank Zappa. We are allowed to use copyright content for our projects because they are only for evaluation purposes.

25 July 2009

Help Wanted

Are you charismatic, intelligent and arrogantly over-confident? If so, a dynamic international company might be seeking your services to further its objectives.

SPECTRE secret volcano base
Our secret volcano base. These are the kind of challenges you could expect during your new employment. This microfilm is for your eyes only.

Scientists and industrialists who feel that morality is relative and that the terms megalomaniac and elitist are often abused will enjoy preference for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Candidates will be flown to an exotic island location for selection and training. Candidates must love pets, especially Persian cats, and be immune to British accents. Maniacal laughter is a bonus. You must be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, CEO of SPECTRE. He expects you to die, Mr Bond
Meet the boss: This is our CEO, Mr Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The cat is called Solomon. That's Mr Solomon to you.

Compensation: your share of $1 000 000 $100 000 000, negotiable. SPECTRE is an apolitical organisation. We are concerned with economics, not politics. A basic understanding of capitalism and anarchism would benefit you in your new job.

Contact Us


Number 1
Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion
Post Office Box ****
Secret Volcano Base
****

28 June 2009

Superman vs Alien

Sometimes, it's not so bad when franchises collide:



I still rate Predator would whip Superman. Predator is the sickest alien out there.

Bayesian Analysis: To probably be, or probably not be, depending on something else's probability

That man of science, Urikalish, loves to torment us superstitious, intuitive mortals who adore the Secret and the Law of Attraction with logic. This is his latest riddle:

Urikalish's Riddle


Let’s assume there’s a deadly disease that affects 1 in every 10 people.

Let's say there’s a pretty good test for this disease which is 90% accurate (that means that if a person is sick – the test will say he’s sick in 90% of the cases, and if a person is healthy – the test will say he’s healthy in 90% of the cases).

Now, assuming you took this 90% accurate test, and got a positive result that implies that you are sick - what are the odds that you are really sick?


Bayes's Theorem


The key to solving this riddle is Bayes's Theorem. Don't ask me why. I'm an elitist and I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you. Especially when I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Bayes's Theorem from Wikipedia

  • P(A|B): This is the probability of A, given B. This is what you are looking for. This is the posterior or revised probability that you have the disease, given the fact that you test positive.

  • P(B|A): This is the conditional probability, or the probability of B given A. In other words, the probability that you test positive, given that you have the disease.

  • P(A): This is the prior probability of A, or the prior probability that you have the disease, regardless of whether your test is positive or not.

  • P(B): This is the prior probability of B, or the prior probability that you test positive, whether you have the disease or not.


Smart people can fill in the data directly from Urikalish's riddle into Bayes's Theorem and get a result. Unfortunately, I played more with the glue and crayons than with the abacus and the clay when I was a kid, so I need something simpler.

An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes's Theorem


Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, that boy genius who tells us about his AI (that is, Almost Implemented) research, has the remarkable ability to make some really, really smart stuff seem really, really simple. This is Yudkowsky's explanation of Bayes's Theorem, which still went over my head (must've been toxic glue), so I tried something that is even more simple and more familiar to me, namely decision trees.

Using Decision Trees in Bayesian Analysis


Start at the beginning and make a split for those who have the disease, and those who are healthy. Branching of each node of the tree has to add up to 1, otherwise you're cooking Dutch books. Proceed up the tree, splitting each node into all the possible scenarios, and you'll eventually cover your entire sample space and thus have a visual representation of your full joint distribution.

decision tree Bayesian Analysis

Explanation


The probability of having the disease is equal to the amount of people who have the disease and test positive, divided by the total number of people who test positive.

If you said 90%, you are stating the probability that the test is right. This is a different probability than having the disease. If you said 10%, you are stating the probability that anybody has the disease, regardless of taking the test or not. The probability of having the disease is affected by both the probability that the test is right and the rarity of the disease.

The total number of people who have the disease here is 0,1, which is 10 %, or 10 out of the 100. The total number of people who test positive is 0,1 x 0,9 for those who have the disease (or 9 out of the original 100), and 0,9 x 0,1 of those who do not have the disease (also 9 out of the original 100). This means the total amount of people who test positive in the original population is 18 out of 100.

Finally, your answer 0,5 ie 50%. You get this from the 9 who test positive and do have the disease divided by 18 who test positive in the total population. The decision tree makes it visible who tested positive, so you are less likely to get confused. How likely? I don't know, draw your own damn tree.

How to remove toolbars

Toolbars really annoy the manure out of me. It is simply poor interface design to have some junk from your previous page hover over your next page. Upon navigating to a new page, the user expectancy is to see a new page, not clutter from the old page.

Why toolbars are bad


Jakob Nielsen is the guru of user interface design. He offers some heuristics to guide interface design, which make the peasant user experience much more pleasant. You may cast an eye on that list and see for yourself how many heuristics are ignored because some social networking Mafia wants to spam your browser. Tsk, tsk, social networking sites. David Bowie is very disappointed in you.

How to make toolbars go away


Yet one of the most useful heuristics I've learnt from real-life is that there are two ways to solve a problem: the political way and the technical way. The political way to make toolbars go away is to grovel and beg the social networking Mafia until they make the toolbar disappear. The technical way is just to remove the toolbar.

Removing the toolbar on Facebook


I'm on a few social networking sites. The same basic method seems to work for all of them, but since the whole world and the kitchen sink seem to be on Facebook, I'll only include the procedure to remove the toolbar on that site:


Remove the tool and keep the bar, I always say. Except when I'm saying something else like jam out with your clam out, or get your yah-yah's out or something.

From now on, Facebook's annoying toolbar will no longer haunt your external links. Unfortunately, they still malform the URL sometimes. Bloody useless bunch.

12 June 2009

Herzbot: A prototype music recommender

Herzbot music recommender logo
Herzbot is a music recommender application on Facebook. This is the prototype:

Find Herzbot on Facebook.

The prototype uses a combination of collaborative filtering and a novel way to model social context I thought up to make music recommendations to you.

How does it work?


Herzbot constructs a profile for you and other Herzbot users. These profiles are then compared to give you recommendations from similar profiles. This is how ordinary collaborative filtering recommendations work. Herzbot also asks you for a few elite friends, which is your social context. This makes Herzbot unique. Your profile is constructed as follows:

  • You give Herzbot the name of one of your favourite artists and it gets a list of similar artists that you rate on a scale of 0 to 100%. Herzbot uses the Echo Nest API to get similar bands.

  • Then, you pick your elite friends who you think have more influence on your music taste than your ordinary Facebook contacts. Herzbot then constructs a profile for you. This is the only information Herzbot uses (user names and your band preferences and ratings that you dictate). I'm not browsing your profiles or spying on you or spamming email addresses. I'm not Santa Clause, although I would like to know where all the bad girls live.

  • Finally, when those friends also add the application, you get to see what they like and exactly how much. You also get recommendations straight from their listening profiles (that's the social context modelling part) or ordinary plain vanilla with a bit of flake recommendations (that's the collaborative filtering part, however your elite contacts still count a little bit more than ordinary Facebook users when it comes to making recommendations to you).


Can you listen to free music?


Yes! If you want to explore the recommended bands, you can find them on iLike with a link straight from Herzbot. iLike has quite an extensive database and you don't need to sign up to listen to streaming audio, which is why I chose iLike over Last.fm and the others where you need to join.

You can listen to your recommendations, listen to the top bands your friends like or listen to the entire profile of your elite friends. It is about exploring new music, after all.

Keep in touch


If you are on Facebook and you'd like to try it out, feel free to add it:

Add Herzbot, the socially conscious Facebook music recommender.

UPDATE: The questionnaire is now up and running. If you added Herzbot, please take the questionnaire (that's a survey for the Yanks):

The Herzbot Survey on Survey Monkey.

You are also welcome to join the developer's group and give me feedback:

Join the Herzbot developer's group.

If you add it, please check back daily over the course of the next two weeks. I will add a questionnaire, which I need to make my hairbrain scheme seem more plausible to academia. I would greatly appreciate your feedback! The other reason is that your recommendations will improve as your elite friends join and as more people join Herzbot.

29 May 2009

Best Bands on Myspace

Why the Best Bands on Myspace?


Myspace has long lost its status as a safe haven for emo. Maybe hepatitis culled emo numbers a bit, but the Myspace target marget of late seems to be people in their late twenties who must like rap music, R & B and not so racy comedians. A lot.

myspace myspaz satire logo

The first thing you should do upon joining Myspace is to delete Tom Anderson as your friend. Who the fuck is that guy anyway? I don't want to be friends with someone who looks like he washed his mom's car with his shirt and then put it on as some kind of post modern fashion statement. He looks like he cut his own hair. With a lawn mower.

The second thing you should do on Myspace is to search for metal bands. The bands listed here are mostly unknown, unsigned and willing to give away free mp3s so you can form a good idea of their music. If you disagree with my opinion, I can't help that you have good taste, but feel free to rant about it in the comment section.

The third thing I did was look for busty porn stars and skanky hos, but you don't have to do that. Here are the best bands on Myspace in no particular alphabetical order:

Aesma Daeva


How they describe their sound
Aesma Daeva blends world instruments such as the bawu, a Chinese flute-like instrument, with a symphonic rock backdrop bringing a wealth of musical cultures together.

How I would describe them
I know what you are thinking: who needs another Nightwish? Only Aesma Daeva does not sound like Nightwish at all. They have more in common with Therion, if you kicked out the orchestra and had one decent looking singer with a more natural voice than Nightwish's Tarja. They sound more brooding, like gargoyles coming alive. Plus they gave me free shit for my birthday so I can't exclude them.

Stalk them

Architecture of Aggression


How they describe their sound
The wails from your local priest as his church is burning down around him. Also like your local priest being sodomized.

How I would describe them
I knew priests secretly liked that sort of thing. Copious amounts of tequila and buckets of blood. That's all I remember from last seeing them live.

Stalk them

Bile of Man


How they describe their sound
Reapers Ripping Caverns Through Your Mind.

How I would describe them
Rapists Ripping Caverns Through Your Doberman.

Stalk them

Bukkake Birth


How they describe their sound
Shit. No, really. They say they sound like shit.

How I would describe them
I have no idea what they sound like but with a name like that, it can't be shit.

Stalk them

Heart of Cygnus


How they describe their sound
Heart of Cygnus. Not a very imaginative description.

How I would describe them
Their latest release, Over Mountain, Under Hill, showcases their sound which is based on bands who are mostly over the hill and under the mountain by now. That's a good thing.

Stalk them


K.O.B.U.S


How they describe their sound
South African METAL is upon Thee!

How I would describe them
Lemmy from Motörhead on vocals, Mike Scaccia from Ministry on guitar, Johannes Kerkorrel writing lyrics.

Stalk them

Lesbian


How they describe their sound
Yep, the band's name is Lesbian. Why? Well, equally cool names like Black Sabbath, Venom and Pentagram were already taken. But also, the name Lesbian evokes pure, sexually charged freedom - and that's what rock music is all about.

How I would describe them
Freddy Kreuger teaching at a nursery school. This band is seriously impressive. They sound like Mastodon with less sludge and more intricate guitar. Let's put it this way: I am not a big Mastodon fan, but I can appreciate what they are trying to achieve. Lesbian sounds like they achieve what Mastodon is trying to achieve.

Stalk them

Mind Assault


How they describe their sound
Youtube, Jackson, Boss and Zildjian. Perhaps I am confused.

How I would describe them
A fairly interesting mix of genres that doesn't end up being gay the way Trivium does it. A potjiekos of modern metal, with a mix of Afrikaans songs too.

Stalk them

Neter


How they describe their sound
Atypical Spanish band.

How I would describe them
Initially, the band played a mixture of Swedish death metal and thrash. I really enjoyed that. Now, they are moving more towards an Opeth progressive rock vibe, which to my ears is less impressive although it is more technically demanding. Still a very accomplished band with an interesting sound.

Stalk them

Pegazus


How they describe their sound
Not many believed in what the boys were aiming for except themselves. Many critics would say "Classic metal was dead", and that playing traditional classic metal was a bad move and so out dated.

How I would describe them
Like a battle axe clefting a skull. If you like traditional metal, this is one seriously good band. I'm glad they found me on Myspace.

Stalk them

Pica Fierce


How they describe their sound
Pica Fierce brings you back to the heydays of thrash-metal. Thrash-metal without compromising in its original form - fast, technically, brutal and with no respect for trends.

How I would describe them
Mind blowing. Unfortunately, they seem to have split up.

Stalk them

Sathern


How they describe their sound
Established in late 2006, Sathern finally took form after 3 years of relentless auditioning and various lineup changes that saw the band grow from a one-man project to a fully fledged band, incorporating the energy of fast drums, dual guitars and aggressive bass with the atmosphere of keyboards and a furious vocal attack.


How I would describe them
Imagine the bastard child of Dimmu Borgir and Children of Bodom having sex with your mom. And her liking it.

Stalk them

Xerath


How they describe their sound
Film score metal.

How I would describe them
A very accessible kind of Meshuggah, mixed with atmospheric keyboards. They seem to have impressed the whole world in a very short amount of time. Film score metal is a very accurate description.

Stalk them


You may also stalk me on myspace if you wish. That's as extroverted as I'm willing to get.

24 May 2009

Human by Death review

Last year, I had a Month of Megadeth during May. May is my birthday month so I like to do something special. Something so special that I won't forget it during the inevitable bouts of drinking and debauchery. This year, I'm having a Death Month.

Conclusion


Chuck Schuldiner basically hires Cynic as his backing band and together they craft one of the most skin tearing albums of all time.

Death Human album cover

Review


The album opens with Sean Reinert's incredible drumming fading in. From there, the riffs exchanged between Chuck and Paul Masvidal are tighter than the fix Government Motors (er, General Motors) finds itself in. Widely regarded as Death's finest moment, I prefer Symbolic but Human is certainly just as flawless.

The lyrics are introspective to the point of becoming existential. They deal with euthanasia, masks people wear to project a desired, distorted image to the world and simply with being human. This prompts some questions about what it means to be human. Are we human because we do human things, or are we human because we are born this way? Alan Turing and John Searle are two bright minds who have answered this question in different ways.

The Turing Test


Alan Turing described his Turing test in his paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence.

The Turing test involved three participants: two humans and one computer. One human and one computer are locked in separate rooms. The remaining human poses questions to the inhabitants of each room by typing them into a terminal. The purpose of these questions is to find out which room hosts the human and which the machine. Turing suggests that when the computer can fool the player to think that its room hosts a human, the computer would have passed the Turing test.

The Turing test from Wikipedia

Turing seems to suggest that we are human because we do human things. Thus, if a computer were to do the same human things and can fool us into believing it is human, it would be as good as human. Basically, computers would be human when we say they are human and we can decide when and how they are to become human. Thus, computers would become human because Stone Cold says so.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin. According to Turing, computers become human when Stone Cold says so.

This avoids the issue a little - something that Turing no doubt knew, but he probably avoided the issue in this way for the practical purposes of building imitation humans. Philosopher John Searle is not happy with this arrangement.

Searle's Chinese Room


John Searle presents his Chinese Room argument in his paper Minds, Brains, and Programs. Searle proposes a scenario whereby artificial intelligence has evolved to the point where one such system can be taught fluent Chinese. The system is hosted inside a room and comfortably passes the Turing test by conversing with a human Chinese speaker outside the room.

According to Searle, the machine merely did symbol manipulating according to algorithms. Some proponents of strong AI would reason that the computer passed the Turing test as it understands Chinese. However, Searle turns the experiment around by suggesting that he himself is in a room with all the tools he would need to translate Chinese - dictionaries, pencils, paper, etc. He would be able to translate any Chinese characters which came through the door without understanding a world of Chinese. Searle argues that since he clearly does not understand a word of Chinese, yet can translate Chinese into English with the appropriate algorithms and tools, we have to conclude that the Chinese computer does not necessarily understand Chinese either.

Yet failing the Turing test does not make us less human and more machine. Searle seems to suggest that we aren't human merely because we do human things and no amount of nurture can give machines human nature. Not even when Stone Cold says so.

Track listing


  1. Flattening of Emotions

  2. Suicide Machine

  3. Together as One

  4. Secret Face

  5. Lack of Comprehension

  6. See Through Dreams

  7. Cosmic Sea (Instrumental)

  8. Vacant Planets

Personnel



Rating


20 May 2009

Sound of Perseverance by Death review

Last year, I had a Month of Megadeth during May. May is my birthday month so I like to do something special. Something so special that I won't forget it during the inevitable bouts of drinking and debauchery. This year, I'm having a Death Month.

Conclusion


Unfortunately, due to Chuck Schuldiner's untimely demise, this album is the last Death album. Fortunately, it shows Death still at the height of their game.



Review


There's not much you can do after making a stellar skin tearing, eyeball boiling album like Symbolic. Except perhaps to intensify the skin tearing and eyeball boiling. Even after listening to a few prior Death albums non-stop for a few weeks and familiarising myself with them, this album still took me by surprise. Usually, I'm like a Ninja and not much takes me by surprise. Except surprise itself. Must be my raging caffeine addiction.

Despite all the sandal melting metal, there is also the painfully beautiful melancholy of Voice of the Soul, a guitar instrumental track. Simply ineffable.

Death must be one of the few metal bands from their era where you can hear and appreciate the bass guitar. I blame Metallica for the inaudible bass trend. I also blame them for the gay pride march.

Richard Christy versus Anne Lindfjeld


It has come to my attention that Richard Christy regularly peruses the fine scriptures of Vault of Horror. I've always had my suspicions that Richard is a man who appreciates the finer things in life. This judging by his choice of bands (Iced Earth and Death) and his encyclopaedic knowledge of pornography.

Richard Christy

So the fans of Vault of Horror may be pleasing to the ear, but are they as pleasing to the eye as the fans of The Necro Files?

Anne Lindfjeld

Anne Lindfjeld is a professional model and it's about time that she becomes a Playboy bunny. Just look at those awesome tats! You can find out more about Anne here:


This is what Anne had to say about The Necro Files:

"That's a good blog you've got going there."

In your FACE Vault of Mordor!

Track listing


  1. Scavenger of Human Sorrow

  2. Bite the Pain

  3. Spirit Crusher

  4. Story to Tell

  5. Flesh and the Power It Holds

  6. Voice of the Soul (Instrumental)

  7. To Forgive Is to Suffer

  8. A Moment of Clarity

  9. Painkiller (Judas Priest cover)

Personnel



Rating




And Anne Lindfjeld can get 5 rating skulls:

19 May 2009

Symbolic by Death review

Last year, I had a Month of Megadeth during May. May is my birthday month so I like to do something special. Something so special that I won't forget it during the inevitable bouts of drinking and debauchery. This year, I'm having a Death Month.


Conclusion


This is one of those desert island disks. If a time capsule of our time is ever discovered, I would like for whoever digs it up to find some Death albums in there to create the impression that this is the kind of quality we appreciated in our time. None of that Pop Idol shyte, although they are plastic enough not to be biodegradable so they'd probably outlast any time capsule.



Review


The legendary Chuck Schuldiner and the Atomic Clock Gene Hoglan. As if that's not enough to make with the metal horns, Kelly Conlon plays bass and Bobby Koelble trades some impressive Cockzilla monster cock size riffs with Chuck.

As is typical of Death, the album is as good as the musicians who play with Chuck. If they can keep up with Chuck's pure and simple genius, the album is a killer. They manage to do that here. There's not a single note that sounds out of place on this album. Symbolic reminds me of the cryogenic South African news reader Riaan Cruywagen's hairstyle:

Riaan Cruywagen

As you can clearly see, nothing out of place there. Symbolic also reminds me of Death cigarettes. Not because of the nearly identical name, but because both the band and the cigarette are lethal and brutally honest about it.

Death Cigarettes

Death cigarettes. I don't smoke, but if I did, that would be my brand.

To me, this is a very underrated album - even allmusic gives Symbolic a mediocre rating. Most people prefer Human or The Sound of Perseverance, but to me, Symbolic is as good as Death gets. Except maybe for an eternity spent in Valhalla.

Track listing


  1. Symbolic

  2. Zero Tolerance

  3. Empty Words

  4. Sacred Serenity

  5. 1000 Eyes

  6. Without Judgement

  7. Crystal Mountain

  8. Misanthrope

  9. Perennial Quest

Personnel



Rating


Private property is theft, personal property is fine

That awkward moment when reality meets your ideology. Some anarcho-communist is having a fanny wobble because informal settlers got evicted ...