Thursday, May 31, 2007

List of Latin phrases

List of Latin phrases:

This page lists direct English translations of common Latin phrases, such as veni vidi vici and et cetera. Some of the phrases are themselves translations of Greek phrases, as Greek rhetoric and literature reached its peak centuries before that of Ancient Rome.

A cool little page, if only they'rd taught latin at high school! I so would have preferred it to Maori.
And then I might acctually be able to pronounce some of these properly

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Science education requires overcoming childhood understanding

Science education requires overcoming childhood understanding
The authors go into extensive details about two cases: rampant teleology and mind-body dualism. Children tend to believe that every object has a specific purpose or function, which fits in nicely with the teleological view of life espoused by many forms of creationism, such as intelligent design. They also view the mind and brain as operating on different levels and performing distinct functions. Among their examples, the authors note that preschoolers believe that the brain is involved in analytical tasks such as math but plays no role in behavioral activities like pretending to be a kangaroo. They suggest that this produces a tendency to accept various forms of mysticism, such as astrology and psychic powers.

An interesting post that makes a fair bit of sense, might be worth reading the paper at some point.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Speculum Update - Mt Somers

Speculum Conlectio has been updated with some images from the recent tramp. A few more photos are likely to be added by the end of the week, once every one's had a chance to sort through their images.

As usual there is a collection of landscape pictures at my flickr account.

(Image from Jude's collection)


Friday, May 25, 2007

This is just sick!

RPG Blog -- Your guide to role-playing games.: Speedruns and role-playing games: strange bedfellows

There seems to be a strange hobby of people seeing how fast they can complete certain games. Apparently called speedruns, I'd heard of them mentioned before but never actually realised they were doing it with games like Baldurs gate 2.

None the less some have BGII tends to take ~250hours when playing through all the options yet someones managed to clock it in 1h 11min!

Radiation Eating Fungi

Gamma radiation: It's what's for dinner

Rather cool, an interesting example of how life can survive or adapt to just about any conditions.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tech and Civilisation

Another rant this time on technology and civilisation. Noting I'm currently in my 6th year of studying in a field of science I'm likely somewhat biased in what I think about this sort of stuff. Seeing Science to a certain degree exists to further technology.

The first thing is that technology for the most part, as far as we can tell, is the product of civilisation as well as both the means and the ends of civilisation.
Civilisation advances technology and technology in turn advances civilisation, while becoming both the cause and cure of many of the ills of civilisation.

A common idea at the moment seems to be that of "dropping" out of the technological society to some degree or another, to get back to the basics etc.
Hardly a new or original idea, it's been tried numerous times before in varying manners with varying degrees of success, possibly the most successful example I can think of might be the Amish.

Any way I'm wondering about how well people have thought it through and to what extent would they consider dropping out of the technological society?

For example would you consider dropping out to the point where you are completely self sufficient, contributing nothing to society, no taxes etc?
If so do you expect government funded healthcare and a pension?
If so why? Your certainly not helping pay for it if your live in a manner that pays no tax.
What would you be doing to help People/Government/Society?
Or would you drop out to a lesser level? Keep useful tech an dump stuff like TV's, coffee machines, blenders?
Would you remain at your job, or find a new one that was lower tech yet helped people or provided something they needed? Such as becoming an organic farmer or a wandering doctor who wandered from village to village?

Another thing I find worrying about the go low tech idea is that if a large enough mass of people adopted it and started dropping certain none essential tech such as TV's there is likely to be a sort of flow on effect to other areas of technology that people depend on.
Say TV's get a boot, so factories that produce them shut down, and some how we find jobs for all those workers, also save a bit of power so a couple of spare power plants gets shut down.
Now if you get hit by a natural disaster what happens? Say a Dam or two burst (big earthquake, certainly possible) so there is a significant loss of power, with less power stations as a result of the ones shut down earlier every dam has a bigger share of the electricity generated. So what happens to electrical heating, if a power runs short or lighting?
Also natural disaster the government wants to alert people about it, and provide them advice on how to survive, what places to avoid etc. However we've got rid of TV's so radio it has to be. Radio though has a lesser bandwidth, it doesn't display visual info so it will take longer to inform people and warn them of the full extent of the problem. In that time difference how many will die?

The thing is that with our society and civilisation everything is interrelated. Technology is present every where, extending our lives, our activities and the range of habitats we can survive in. And because technology and science are so interrelated cutting back in one area will always have flow on effects to other areas. Effects, that due to the way we use technology to extend humans abilities to survive and live when they would be other wise incapable of doing so, means that reductions in technology will lead to loss of life, either directly or indirectly. As minor issues become major ones.
One series of books I've read makes and interesting suggestion. That being, for what every you do, there will be at least 3 unexpected and potentially unwanted consequences, that you failed to see or consider.
So consider carefully and don't jump off the bandwagon just because you don't like the way it's heading just at the moment.

Also the other thing to note is that humans being generally a competitive species if one group, if not all groups reduce technology to the same level those that don't will soon out compete those that did reduce it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This is not a PORN site

No matter what some people think!

So any way at the moment I can currently post to it but not view it.
Being the 2nd or third time this has happened in the last year or 2 I'm less than amused.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Warning what follows is probably a meaningless rant, containing a large amount of hyperbola, and the pushing of Idea's beyond what I actually think.

One thing that I think is over used and some what bastardised at the current time is the idea of rights.
People, the Media, various groups and Politicians all seem to have something present in the background of there thoughts something they call rights.
Some thing you should have or deserve simply because you exist, or because your a member of a certain country or segment of society or something. For some reason that usually isn't logical or well thought out these people deserve something some "rights".
Be this the right to free speech, Human rights, the right for the disabled to enter public buildings, the right to economic equality, or what ever.
The problem being that they seem to think these rights some how exist out side the normal order of things, that they just are, they're something you have or get not something you work for or do any thing about, the universe or other people just owe you them.

However I really don't see how this works. As far as I can tell the universe owes you exactly squat/zero that your'd actually want to collect (the only thing it may owe you death/entropy, but that's something most don't want to collect).
What I think rights are actually (rather than some debt the universe owes you) is a set of shared ideas/recommendations that are useful for helping human societies function. They seem to be ideas that if ignored are likely to have consequences due to the manner in which human's nature/mind work.

The important thing about these "recommendations" is that of you except them there are certain responsibilities associated with them that must be followed if you desire the right.
ie If you want human rights then it is imperative that you grant them to others. If you fail to then don't go complaining if yours get violated.
As such "rights" of this type can be considered to be the underlying frame work human society is based on. However it is essential to remember that such rights are not some fundamental intrinsic absolute. They only exist as an agreement between you and the rest of your species.

Any way it appears that somewhere along the way to our current society the responsibility aspect of such rights has been forgotten. People see equality as a right and this and that as a right. Maybe as a result of companies believing they have a right to profit with no regard to those who they profit from, or perhaps it's politicians voluntary to take all your responsibilities if you'll only just elect them, or the media going "oww look shiny, you need!" whenever something interesting turns up.
For example equality is not a right if you want equality it's something your going to have to work for.

On a slightly related note I'd thought I'd add a quote from a little TV/Anime series I was watching recently. It's not something I totally agree on but I do have a certain amount of sympathy for the Idea.

"People are not equal, Those who are born fleet of foot, those who are born beautiful, those who's parents, are poor those who have weak bodies.
Birth, growth and talent, All humans are different!
That's right people are born to be different!
That is why people fight and compete with one another!
From there Evolution takes place.
Inequality is not evil, equality it's self is evil!
We fight, compete and continue to evolve"

Finally I guess the point of this post was that rights come with responsibilities, if they don't they're just dreams, illusions of a delusional mind.
So don't expect any rights unless your prepared to work for them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Gaim = Pidgin + 2.0

For those of you who use Gaim as their IM client (for msn/gtalk/aim/icq/yahoo/what ever). You may be interested in knowing that it's changed it's name to Pidgin and that version 2.0 has just been released after a very long time in development. It's a very nice step up from gaim 1.5. It can be downloaded from:
Available as always for Windows and Linux.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

To Treat the Dead

Doctors Change the Way They Think About Death.

Interesting if accurate, and if any thing can be done to utilise this apparent discovery.