Showing posts from 2010

Defining race and ethnicity in South Africa

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. You may find the full series here:
Defining race and ethnicity in South Africa.
Defining race and ethnicity in South Africa, part 2.

This is shameless linkbaiting on my side. A recent troughleader post (We are not all Africans, black people are!) asserts that only black people can be truly African. I'll reserve judgement on whether this is true or not, but this post is such an easy target for a sadist like myself so I couldn't resist dishing out a few slaps on the wrist. What can I say? Give me a barrel of fish and a shotgun and I have a fun-filled afternoon.

I'll quote segments from the blog post in bold, and debunk them blow by blow:

A Neanderthal skull. Any species that had dentistry advanced enough to survive death for a couple of hundred thousand years is obviously superior to ours. Then again, our mammaries tend to be non-biodegradable so maybe we show potential.

Historical revisionism is generally a legitimate re-evaluation of existing u…

Tragedy of the Commons: Game Theory for Noobs

The tragedy of the commons refers to a problem encountered when public resources are shared for private gain.
Commons here refers to a collective resource, which in its original context referred to a pasture for sheep.

Blaring it all out
The tragedy of the commons was first described by Hardin. Hardin observed a patch of green pasture surrounded by very barren land in North Africa. He investigated and found that the green pasture was privately owned land, while the surrounding barren nightmare was commonly held land, or commons.

A flock of sheep. Their behaviour is characterised by the donning of ceremonial Che Guevara t-shirts, a fondness for the band System of a Down and selective mind filters which only allow the writings of Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, Jacques Derrida or Slavoj Žižek to leave its sediment inside their hive mind. My name is bleating heart liberal and I approve of this message.

The owner of the green patch in the centre had immediate incentive to protect his own land from de…

Prisoner's Dilemma: Game Theory for Noobs

The Prisoner's Dilemma is a fairly famous scenario in game theory. The dilemma occurs when two alleged criminals are captured by the authorities. Both suspects are handled by some tough customers in their own holding cells, but the police do not have enough evidence to put either of them away for good just yet. In order for either of the suspects to go to jail for a significant time, the other has to deliver testimony. The authorities are stuck between a rock and a hard place, so they come up with a plea bargain.

Should you take the plea bargain?
The plea bargain gives each captured suspect a few options:
Deliver testimony while your partner keeps silent, get out of jail free and leave your partner rotting in jail for a full decade.
Both keep silent. If your partner doesn't spill the beans, this is the best scenario for both of you as the police wouldn't have enough on you to put either of you away for good, but both of you would spend 6 months in prison.
Spill the beans, have …

Game Theory for Noobs

Game theory is not so much about Playstation as it is a science about strategy. The purpose of game theory is to determine the most rational course of action. Rational in this sense means the course of action that results in the highest amount of possible gain, or in the lowest amount of possible loss.

Christina Aguilera. She recently received her own Hollywood star. Not sure why, but it must mean she knows a thing or two about strategy.

John Nash is frequently associated with game theory. His tragic bout of schizophrenia is often abused to ridicule game theorists and to discredit the science of game theory, as is the case in the BBC documentary The Trap. However, John Nash was a fairly latecomer to the field as John von Neumann established the science in collaboration with Oskar Morgenstern with their book, Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour. This book reported a means to quantify the qualitative notions of expected utility, so in a way von Neumann and Morgenstern gave us mathema…

Cake or death?

Apologies to Eddie Izzard. Well, which is it? Cake or death?

Thought experiment in economics from biology

Since discovering Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand and Karl Marx's Das Kapital, I've been interested in economics. In a previous post, I claimed that the big hurdle in South Africa's economic environment is transaction cost. This is due to the dismal results of the state intervention in the economy and the conclusion of Coase's Theorem.

Yet we as humans still have to abide by the laws of the jungle since we are at our roots animals and nothing more. This made me wonder if some known biological phenomena could apply to the economic environment of human beings. Two such phenomena are the paradox of enrichment and the paradox of pesticides.

Socialism, Social democracy, Communism and its aims
The difference between these is of degree and not of ideology. All of these aim for the greatest common good. The methods that they employ are geared towards creating a classless society where decisions are taken from a centralised point in order to benefit the majority. Traditionally, this me…

Why beer should be our currency

I recently wasted 123 minutes of my life by watching Zeitgeist Addendum on Google video. I really wish I could unwatch it, although the fancy light show and zealous editing were rather impressive. It was like watching a sermon, with one logical fallacy after the other causing my eye to twitch nervously. To repent, I listened to lots of Nevermore.

A West African Vodun altar. Voodoo is the process currently used in the fractional reserve banking system to create money.

Problems with the fractional banking system
Zeitgeist Addendum briefly explains the fractional reserve banking system. I'm not familiar with this particular system but a cursory glance at their source shows they neglected to portray what happens in the event of inflation (the Wikipedia page claims that their source is Modern Money Mechanics). I'm not sure how accurate their description is, but they take their description as representative of all monetary systems, and thereby apply their critique of fractional reserve…

Coase Theorem and property rights in South Africa

The Coase theorem is a curious anomaly that most economists seem to ignore or dismiss. From what I've read on economics, the field is mainly divided between the Monetarists and the Keynesian economists.

Monetarists view currency as another product subjected to the laws of supply and demand. They conclude that government intervention in the economy distorts the market price for currency, thereby exasperating economic cycles.

Milton Friedman, the man associated with monetarism. He blinds you with science. And his bald patch.

On the other hand, Keynesian economists view currency as a tool that governments may use to influence supply and demand. Government intervention in the economy is thus justified to address social issues by influencing levels of inflation or unemployment statistics, among other hardships. Yet there are more obscure economic theories out there. One such a theory is Coase's Theorem.

John Maynard Keynes, the biggest economist of the last century. In more ways than…

Media Appeals Tribunal Update

I've received some insightful comments on my Media Tribunal posts. Here's a quick summary of them:

More than one thousand bloody agents have joined the No Media Tribunal campaign.

A summary of the Media Appeals Tribunal debate
The Media Tribunal and the Protection of Information bill are two separate concerns. The Protection of Information Bill is already on the table, while the disgraced Media Tribunal is fast becoming a political liability so it's unlikely to even reach parliament.
Neither of these bills appear to be founded on constitutional values and many experts agree that they will not make it past the Constitutional Court in their current form.
Nevertheless, the ANC claims that there is overwhelming support for the Media Tribunal and thinks that going ahead with this bill is still a great idea. This despite the fact that it's been shelved before due to overwhelming opposition to the bill and the current backlash from the public against the notion.
The media is aware …

This could save your life

Just a thought, use it, don't use it.

The age of consent chart from Wikipedia. Absolutely crucial information for any traveller. Don't forget your towel either.

Latest on the disgraced Media Tribunal

Since my last post, No Media Tribunal, over 500 followers have joined the fray to oppose the Media Tribunal. I didn't realise there were so many irate internet nerds in South Africa.

More than 500 South Africans are against the Media Tribunal. I know, I counted them all.

Prominent people oppose the Media Tribunal
Some of the sane people opposed to the Media Tribunal include Pick n Pay's CEO and the US Ambassador.

People at grassroots level oppose the Media Tribunal
This is ironic because according to Jacob Zuma, the Media Tribunal is designed to protect ordinary people who he thinks are too stupid to know about the ombudsman or who cannot afford court proceedings against the boogy man media.

Well, if us ordinary, grassroots level South Africans are such high flyers that we need a Media Tribunal that censors the press to protect our anonymous reputations then why do we feel this way about the proposed media tribunal?
YES to Media FREEDOM. NO to Hitler's sentiments over the journ…

No Media Tribunal

The ANC seems hell-bent on this censorship trip. Even though they've already decided that the media tribunal will be implemented, apparently more debate is needed surrounding the issue. I say CENSOR that. If it's unconstitutional, it's non-debatable.

If you are a lamer on Twitter, please join my campaign
I started a haphazard No Media Tribunal campaign to try and get lots of irate Internet nerds to oppose the proposed Media Tribunal. If you are one of those nerds, first, get some sun. Please. You need Vitamin D.

This is Dr Joseph Goebbels. No, he does not work for the ANC although you may be forgiven for thinking so. To the Illiterati, this picture is meant to be ironic. As in, a difference between what is meant and what is portrayed. See, just like the ANC, Dr Goebbels was not a fan of free speech. I wonder why?

Secondly, please join my No Media Tribunal twibbon campaign. Now get some sun before sunlight becomes regulated by the Ultra Violet Radiation Tribunal.

Fear and loathi…

Free Mzilikazi wa Afrika

The free Lindsay Lohan post was a bit of a joke. To you, perhaps, but not to me. With Lindsay Lohan behind bars, who is going to flash their tits in public?

However, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a journalist for the Sunday Times, has been jailed because some chop in Mpumalanga did not like his face. I happen not to like his face either but the man has a job to do, namely report on newsworthy events. If our one party state does not like what the media prints about them, perhaps they shouldn't conduct themselves so newsworthy?

Like George Carlin once said, the Germans may have lost the war but fascism won. Seems like the ANC forgot what life was like under Apartheid with the security police watching the media like Hawks.

I hope the Specials haven't retired yet because South Africans who value their personal freedoms still need them to make more remixes. I took the liberty of making a new cover for them:

Free Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan is in rehab
Again. Before entering a rehabilitation centre, Lindsay Lohan was in prison. This is an outrage. When fine, upstanding citizens such as Nelson Mandela spent unjust time in prison, there was an international outcry to have him freed. There is a famous song (apparently, we never really heard it in South Africa back in the day) called Free Nelson Mandela. That's free as in release Nelson Mandela from prison, not free as in you get a free Madiba with your McDonalds happy meal. Sorry.

I took the liberty of creating my own campaign to Free Lindsay Lohan. There can be no justice in the world until Lindsay Lohan walks free!

Dog Soldiers DVD Review

Dog Soldiers: British horror cult classic
The Brits are no stranger to horror. Their classic Hammer films (such as Plague of the Zombies) rate amongst the best creature features in the history of cinema. Dog Soldiers carries on in this proud tradition. A no nonsense, splatter flick that manages to create tension and be entertaining while still sticking to the commandments of horror. No surprises, just stylish cinematography, lucid editing, quirky dialogue, blood, guts and werewolves.

Yes, there is some of that. I think.

I accidentally stumbled upon the term Splat Pack on Wikipedia. This term refers to the new breed of directors who make excessively gory and violent films - as if there were such a thing as an excessively gory film.

What a ridiculous and absolutely unnecessary name for something that's already been labelled splatterporn or torture porn. Besides, the first Saw film can hardly be described as horror porn. Similarly, Neil Marshall's films can hardly be descr…

Artificial Intelligence Anonymous part Deux Ex Machina

This is my attempt at providing a brief introduction to another subject I know nothing about. Much to my dismay, I never took AI. Ignorance hasn't stopped me from blogging on topics before (see my Lojban, income inequality, lottery and capitalist ideology pages) and it surely isn't going to stop me now.
Artificial intelligence anonymous, part one.
Artificial intelligence anonymous, part two.

How do you make artificial intelligence?
To make intelligence is easy. You look at what Homer Simpson does and do the exact opposite. To make a machine realise that being intelligent means being the opposite of stupid all by itself is a different story, however.

Homer Simpson. Artificial? Yes. Intelligent? Well..

There are three main approaches to creating artificial intelligence. These are symbolic, sub-symbolic and statistical.

Symbolic AI is sometimes called Good Old Fashioned AI or GOFAI. This approach is based on the premise that human thinking is largely based on manipulating symbols. All o…

Artificial Intelligence Anonymous

This is my attempt at providing a brief introduction to another subject I know nothing about. Much to my dismay, I never took AI. Ignorance hasn't stopped me from blogging on topics before (see my Lojban, income inequality, lottery and capitalist ideology pages) and it surely isn't going to stop me now.
Artificial intelligence anonymous, part one.
Artificial intelligence anonymous, part two.

What is artificial intelligence?
Pope John McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence for the Dartmouth Conference in 1956. The idea behind AI is that every learning process available to thinking, drinking, smoking and fucking humans can be described so accurately that a machine may also exhibit the same learning behaviour. It is thus artificial because it is a machine doing what humans tend to do (minus the drinking and fucking, although I do wonder where computer viruses come from). Or more precisely, it does what humans are supposed to do, namely learn.

John McCarthy. In the land of ho…

Respect the dead

WARNING: This post is about Death and entirely inappropriate. But you must be used to that by now.

The Chart of the Day death index from Business Insider. It shows the best spot for your final meeting with the Grim Reaper.

Why must we respect the dead?
In most cultures, it is bad luck to speak ill of the dead. When someone dies, everyone has to pretend to be upset, whether you are or not. Even if the person was a complete dud of a human being like Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who caused the suffering and death of many, we must pay respect and pretend that it's a sad event that this person passed away.

The only notable exception to this rule seems to be the Adolf Hitler biography. In that case, it was perfectly acceptable not to be upset but to call the spade a fucking shovel. His biography didn't change when he shoved off.

The dead cannot do anything to you
Unlike in films like the Poltergeist and Drag Me to Hell, the dead cannot do anything to you. They are not going to do unsolicite…

Hacking Lojban

Those familiar with Godel's incompleteness theorems would recall that certain formal systems that are sufficiently complex contain paradoxes. Two particular paradoxes are of concern, namely:

Such systems that are complete are also inconsistent (Godel's first theorem)
Such systems that are consistent cannot be complete as such a system cannot prove its own consistency (Godel's second theorem).

Predicate logic, how pretty delicate thou art
Natural language is not a formal system. Partially due to this reason, ambiguities arise which renders natural language somewhat inadequate for formal expression, but rather appropriate for planting memes in the impressionable. Ask Roman Polanski.

In an attempt to rid ourselves of the ambiguities of language, projects arose to establish language based on the principles of first order logic. That is, these projects aimed at formalising natural language by injecting a set of formal rules into a mixture of natural languages. Two of these projects …