Monday, November 23, 2009

What is Sin, Evil...

What is sin, does it exit or is it simply a social construct used to justify punishment of that which defies the social structure?

Is sin evil?
Is sin the lack of foresight living/reacting to the now rather than that which is yet to come?
Is sin self harm? Damaging ones self or others?
Is sin the failure to follow the golden rule?
Is sin freewill, not sticking to the script or the pupet masters desires?

As I'm not entirely sure I believe sin exists these days, I'm certain it's not some sort of metaphysical smut though it seems a lot of people believe that.

I was wondering though if a lot of what is called sin is simply a lack of foresight the inability to see past ones current desires, and doing what satisfies the now rather than the future.

Often I've thought that that which is human or sentience, is acting in ways beyond the now, controlling and channeling our emotions, and reactions. Channeling those immediate evolutionary triggers fight/flee, feed/reproduce in manners that are beneficial over the long term.
In ways that show no short term benefit and fufill no evolutionary need, but instead do or become part of something greater, progress, knowledge, science etc.

If we are to be human we must recognise that we are and will always be animal (evolutionary constructs) as well. And our ability to overcome our genetic/evolutionary programing is what distinguishes us from our fellow animals, sometimes for better but often for worse. And that as an individual it should be our goal to overcome our natures for the better, as much as is possible.

Quick Note

Hmm this is rather dead. A quick note for any one still following this I'll be back down in CHCH for 3 weeks starting around the 18th December. So will hopefully get a chance to catch up with most of you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kiva - Loans to the Third World

Some of you may find this website, Kiva of interest. It's a mico-lending site that works with microenterprise/microfinance groups through out the world to provide loans. Effectively it allows those who are relatively well of to contribute to loans for individuals or groups though out the world who are less well off/in poverty, but still trying to make a living.

In some ways I think this may be an improvement on traditional charities working in the micro-enterprise area. Seeing as the money is provided as a loan, it is expected the individual or group pay it back over a specified time period, effectively holding them accountable and encouraging them to make productive use of the money. Also the micro-finance groups that interact with the clients generally provide training to help support those they've made a loan to.

Finally because you choose which groups/individuals/projects to lend money to you can decease the chance that the money is used in a manner you wouldn't approve of (ie clearing rain forest for crops). The loans are generally contributed to by a number of people, so if the loan is defaulted you've not lost a large amount.

The site appears to work well, I contributed to a couple of loans in May and they've started pay that back now. Once they've paid my loans back I'll re-loan the money to someone else, though I could withdraw it if I needed to. In the mean time I've made a couple more loans.

If people are interested drop a comment here, it could be fun to create a exChch/Heresy group, as the site supports the usual range of web 2.0 social features such as teams, journals, profile pages and all that jazz.

From the website:

We Let You Loan to the Working Poor

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

How it works:

How Kiva Works
Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid
The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to an entrepreneur, and back.

1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

2) Kiva's microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur's chances of success.

3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Science and Communication

Also if you wonder why the media always screws up science even in articles that are apparently written by people who under stand it have a look at these two links:

When I submitted the article, just shy of the 800 words I was asked to write, the editor said that the published piece had to be shortened a little. A few weeks later I checked the publication and found my article reduced to 360 words. I wasn't happy, of course, but every journalist has dealt with this. However, when I began to read the piece I didn't recognize it as anything I had written. I became worried so I did a sentence by sentence comparison. To my complete horror, out of 360 words there was only one sentence in the published piece and 3 or 4 fragments of sentences I had actually written; and the article was published with my name on it!

A tale from the trenches of science journalism


One rotten apple

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Science is a sublimely human activity and a central part of the best of Western culture…and of every culture on earth that aspires to be something more than a collection of dirt-grubbing subsistence breeders, propagating for the sake of propagating. It's what gives us the potential to reach beyond making do, that gives us the leisure and freedom to flower in the arts and explore the diversity of human experience. Even institutionalized religion itself is an incidental byproduct of the first clever dicks who thought to reroute the flow of a river to irrigate fields and led to centralization, urbanization, hierarchies of leadership, accounting, writing, and the whole avalanche of change that followed. It's important.

Unscientific America and those awful atheists - Pharyngula

Excellent statement, it's well worth reading that article!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Well, a Year + a month

Well looks like I've been up here a while now as the title indicates, looking at it I'm not sure if much has changed over the year or nothing much has changed.

Lets see, new stuff

I have a Car
A fair bit of new gear
30ish new books
10 or so new Computer games
A dozen DVDs and a few CDs
A different more interesting Job from when I moved up, but for the Same company and department.
A bigger Salary package.
A few new friends
I cook and bake regularly

Stuff that's still the same:

I still dress the same
Still miss hanging out with the whole Chch and exChch bunch (though more of them are up here now which is nice)
Reading and Computer games are still my primary means of wasting time

Really most of the changes are fairly minor.

Must say it is nice to have a Job that actually requires you to think at last part of the time rather than feeling like your an organic robot. It's also nice to be doiing something that feels like and appears to actually have an impact on the company/department.

On another note here are some photos because as usual I'm bored.

Lichen #2

Rose Hip #1

Monstrous Treasue

Winter Leaves #1



Walkin on Water

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cruel to be kind?

Are humans cruel to be kind? - life - 16 May 2009 - New Scientist

Simply, it seems that niceness needs nastiness. Our sense of fairness and our willingness to inflict damage on one another combine to encourage contributions to the common good and deter people from cheating. Researchers call this altruistic punishment. "But at the end of the day, it's still spite," says economist Benedikt Herrmann of the University of Nottingham, UK. The benefits of this constructive spite might not be immediate, but they are real - in the long run, we all benefit more if we can ensure others in society toe the line.
Our brains are certainly wired to respond positively to this constructive form of spite. Although we might lose out financially, scans show that a region called the striatum, which responds to rewarding experiences, lights up during altruistic punishment (Science, vol 305, p 1254). So, problem solved. Spite is in our own best interests and our brains reward us for it, so we should welcome it, right?

Not quite. The problem is that it's not only doing bad things to bad people that makes us feel good. Recent studies have shown how the striatum responds in the same way to schadenfreude, when we take a morally dubious pleasure in others' misfortunes (Science, vol 323, p 937). Adolescent boys with aggressive conduct disorder show similar brain activity when they watch a video of someone hurting another person (Biological Psychology, vol 80, p 203).

Last year Karla Hoff, an economist at the World Bank who is currently working at Princeton University, and her colleagues reported the results of experiments conducted in villages in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (American Economic Review, vol 98, p 494). In these tests, two players started out with 50 rupees each. The first could choose to give his to the second, in which case the experimenters added a further 100 rupees, giving the second player 200 rupees in total. The second player could decide to keep the money for himself, or share it equally with the first player. A third player then entered the game, who could punish the second player - for each 2 rupees he was willing to spend, the second player was docked 10 rupees.

The results were startling. Even when the second player shared the money fairly, two-thirds of the time the newcomer decided to punish him anyway - a spiteful act with seemingly no altruistic payoff. "We asked one guy why," says Hoff. "He said he thought it was fun."

Hoff found that high-caste players were more likely to punish their fellow gamers spitefully than low-caste players, leading her to suggest that context is everything. It is not that people in Uttar Pradesh are nastier than elsewhere, but rather that the structure of their society makes them acutely conscious of status. The sensitivity of higher castes to their position makes them tend not to support any changes that threaten to level the social hierarchy, such as development projects. But higher castes can also put others down, safe in the knowledge that "untouchables" are unlikely to strike back. "If you're low caste it's dangerous to rise in status," says Hoff. "You'll get beaten up or worse."

Another interesting New Scientist article, I've quoted a decent chunk of the most interesting points as I'm not sure if the article is a public one or pay to view one. Any way it's an interesting look at the mechanisms which by which a certain degree of cooperation is or needs to be inforced to keep every one playing fairly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Interesting - Nocebo

The ultimate cause of the nocebo effect, however, is not neurochemistry but belief. According to Hahn, surgeons are often wary of operating on people who think they will die - because such patients often do. And the mere belief that one is susceptible to a heart attack is itself a risk factor. One study found that women who believed they are particularly prone to heart attack are nearly four times as likely to die from coronary conditions than other women with the same risk factors.

Interesting if some what scary, the link between the Brain and Body and how believe and thoughts affect the body is a rather interesting one. I think I'll have to keep an eye out for more information on this.

Any one else know of or have links to interesting research or posts related to this?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Return of A Lost Smelt

Yikes it's been a while since I last posted here, so time for an update!

Well what have I been doing? Good question it doesn't seem like much.

If you follow my twitter feed some of this you will be aware of, if you don't you should!
Click here and create an account it's not that hard! See click on this: Eonsim@twitter
If your not currently on twitter you may be surprised by the number of people you don't otherwise hear much from floating about there.

Any way onto the update!

On the work front I've signed my third contract or at least the third amendment to my contract which after 10 months as Lab Technician has changed me to a Laboratory Operational Systems Technologist, Subject Matter Expert, Lab Technician. As you may guess from the rather long title the position is effectively a custom one that was created just for me :-). Any way it came with a decent pay rise so I can live with the overly long title (hmm googling it seems to indicate that it's unique to me, how fun). Any way the actual result of this change in title is that I've moved away from doing the bog standard lab work that putting me to sleep and taken up a mix of IT work, specifically working to integrate the scientific and operational side of the laboratory into the the IT systems and making sure both sides understand each other. All fun and games, or at least that's what I tell my self when ever I start looking at my work load and realise that it's kinda doubled, still it least it keeps me busy and keeps me thinking, hated standing around in the lab doing work that effectively left my brain switched off all the time.

In other stuff, have been seeing a fair bit of J&J with them having moved up to the delights of the Tron also see a lot of A&R B as one would expect. Also got to see M&K R for a bit when they stopped over for a weekend on there way up to Auckland.
As an interesting aside the church my self, A&R go to started to run a piece of junk called the truth project, which tries to construct a conservative Christian world view covering aspects such as science, Ethics, philosophy and other interesting matters. Unfortunately it generally consists of the chap going with the standard conservative party line and creating lots of big logic circles with big words, while ignoring and misrepresenting a tonne of stuff. Fortunately after each there is some discussion (thankfully or I'd have done mad by now) needless to say that as a result with A&R, Jim and my self the locals are rapidly getting exposed to a wide range of different scientific and logic/philosophy principles plus plenty of Heresy derived theology, conveniently the senior pastor agrees more often than disagrees, if not always with our conclusions. Which makes for some interesting discussions and probably some rather sore heads for the rest of the group.

Apart from that I've been reading a lot, buying cheap computer games (Go, playing some of them, slowly increasing my music collection (Thrice, Faunts and Project 86 currently), and picking up more books and the odd anime series or movie ("Howl's Moving Castle" Completely AWESOME!, heck even people who dislike anime would probably like it), and increasing my Storage (currently 2.3TB). I've also started to head along to a board games afternoon/night once a month that a friend from work (M&K W who also happen to be friends of M&K R) goes to so that's a fair bit of fun (spent 4hours playing "Munchkin Quest", the munchkin board game, lots of fun!).

I've also made some intial steps in seeing a few more relatives heading down to New Plymouth over Easter. As well as catching up with a couple last weekend when a group of us (A&R B and my self) headed up to Auckland to catch up with CE who was up visiting and AR. A fun way to spend a weekend and a good time had by all as we wandered around the Auckland CBD and stayed the night in a penthouse suite 15mins walk from the water front. It's still abit of a surprise to realise that Auckland and Tauranga are both within a 1.5 hour drive of Hamilton. Unfortunately at least in the case of Auckland is having to navigate around the place, thankfully with AR and RB along at various times someone at least knew where they were going!

Any way that's probably enough for now, if I get bored I may get around to processing a few more photos in which case you may see some stuff from Auckland, and New Plymouth!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009


And so from nothing our universe begins.
In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception.

-- Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Having decided to read a more non-fiction I've started off deciding to finish the above book. It's an awesome book and I'm greatly looking forward to finishing it this time, now that I've got a hardcopy in hand.

I've also decided for now to read/finish off a couple of other non-fiction works, Collapse by Jared Diamond, and The Origin of the Species by Darwin (often referred to as one of the most beautifully written scientific works).

Still I'm looking for other decent scientific or semi-scientific non-fiction so if you have any suggestions please make them!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Faunts - What I've been listening too lately.

And a few of there songs for free download.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Book recommendations?

For a change I'm feeling like reading some Non-fiction. Does any one have any recommendations for some decent stuff?
Things along the lines of "A Short History of Nearly Everything", "Guns, Steel and Germs", or "The Origins of the Species"?

An interesting look at the 21st Century

Charlie's Diary: The 21st century: FAQ

Another interesting post by Charles Stross, giving us a view of his thoughts on some of the stuff that could happen in the 21st Century.

I like his point on the unknowns, they'll be the interesting things to watch out for. The things we never expected the things where we may have seen hints of possibilities but could never imagine the applications that would result.

My guess would be the two fields to watch would be Genetics/Biotech/Biochemistry and communications/internet/connectivity. Rather obvious ones I admit but when our knowledge in the field of biology doubles approximately every 10 years it means theres a lot of potential for interesting stuff to turn up.

I find his point that the human species is becoming a predominately urban one rather interesting. And look forward to seeing what the implications of this are. Hopefully one of them will be a move to something closer to a steady state for population rather than the current high growth state. I'll also be interesting to see how this effects our technology and society.

Space colonization yeah I unfortunately agree with him but I'd love to be proved wrong. Two or three populations are far more resistant than one, and if a self sustaining colony can be set up even if it's a one way trip the effects it's likely to have on technology and society would be impressive.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Addicted to Pixels

Addicted to pixels - digital photography takes over the world - Technology - NZ Herald News
Everything we do is captured on camera - and our memories are being superseded by pixels.

An interesting look at digital photograph, and how it is changing what photography is and how it relates to us.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I attempt to write a manual for understanding my personaility

After an interesting 3 way discussion deriving from Christina's Shout vs Split culture post and how that links into dating etc. And then an interesting discussion on egos and so forth that generated some interesting questions and thoughts.

Any way ended up thinking/discussion a lot about my personality, so here are a few thoughts.

First up thinking about the underling basis or belief in my personality I'd say that for me it is:
  • "I'm nothing, but that won't stop me" (negative and chaotic)
  • While the underlying drive is a "love and desire for knowledge".
  • Mixed with a Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest.

As a result I spend far to much time thinking about things and thinking about thinking. Which means I fall prey to the trap of trying to determine all possible out comes especially for social interactions.
I think I know my self quite well and can model and determine my own actions in advance, but when it comes to trying to work out what others are thinking/feeling. That while I can empathise with there emotions i.e. feel others pain physical or emotional. I have problems working out the cause and am unable to interact with out some knowledge of the cause.
I must know something or I will not act in fear of making it worse. As a result I try to work out what they're thinking but hit a problem that I don't understand or know their underling biases, unlike for my self. Thus I'm forced to start extrapolating which when combined with the underling idea of "I'm nothing" leads to such thoughts heading in negative directions, trying to plan and work out ways of dealing with everything that could go wrong or has gone wrong.

With all the extrapolation needed for this I end up being locked up mentally, frozen and unable to interact. Thankfully and I suspect the only reason I don't get depressed is the rather chaotic ability to mentally go "stuff this" and to stop thinking about it. This doesn't mean I'll act it simply means I will stop worrying about it at least for a while and stop digging my self an ever deeper mental hole which could potentially lead to depression.

As such when I aim to change my self these underling biasis and drives combine, I think I see/understand far too well the many elements that make me up and how they all interact. The result being that I have problems working out what or where I should start making changes. While at the same time there is the knowledge that I have missed something and thus this internal model of how I think, could/is wrong and thus any changes based on it may fail. It doesn't stop me from changing (after all I'm still somewhat chaotic) but it does massively slow me down and makes most changes to be very deliberate actions or spontaneous events with no apparent reason behind them.

I guess that that is the delight and curse of having a personality that finds examining it's self interesting and an intellect that is capable of allowing me to do so, along with a mixed negative and chaotic basis.

As a result I've always been my own worst critic, and that while I can be hurt to a fair degree by others opinions of me. What I think they think of me is usually worse than what they actually think of me, leading me to often be pleasantly surprised, if highly suspicious that they may be faking it.
I guess that also feeds in to those silly love languages, where my prefered one is "Quality time". This may possibly be partly because I enjoy spending time with people being a social animal (as in the scientific use of the term) and also partly becuase the more time I spend with some one, the better I can model them mentally and the more I'll be able to understand them (this increasing my knowledge, my primary drive).
Touch then comes second becuase if it is either deliberate or unconscious, there is likely some meaning behind it in that one way it's a delibrate choice while the other it is being comfortable enough that it is not something to be worried about. Still if I have any suspicion that it is being used for some other reason, a tease or joke I can't stand it.
Then all the others come because to me they're meaning less and it's far to hard to tell if there as any particular reason behind it or if it's a conscious lie or illusion on the others part.

Damn this post has ended up longer than I thought. So there you have it a fragment of a possible manual to understanding a part of my personality, and I won't go into the Darwinian aspects this time.

What I'm curious about is:
  • What are other peoples underling biases and primary drives? Are they like me "I'm nothing but that isn't going to stop me", just "I'm nothing", "I'm cool" or "I'm perfect" or some thing completely different.
  • And what about your primary drives is it "knowledge", "relationships" of one of the many other possibilities.
Please I'd love to hear from you.

After all the more I learn, the better and the more I can stick in my internal models of people :P

Oh and here is a cat picture and a sunset becuase I like these photos

Sphinx - Watcher of Sunsets

Sunset - Out The Car Window

Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Years meme

I see this is floating around, so might as well have a go at it.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

  • Graduated with an MSc
  • Got a full time Job
  • Moved out of home for good
  • Visited another country
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for the next year?
Yes seeing it's one from around 2004 I've stuck with ever since (to make no more NY resolutions).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
An ability to be somewhat more outgoing.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched in your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a job and moving away from home.

9. What was your biggest failure of the year?
Uhm, no idea.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
  • Camera
  • Books!
  • EEE PC
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Uhm no idea.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Probably a whole lot of people I've now forgotten about.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, food, camera, eee pc, books, Games

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Nothing much.

16. What song will always remind of you of 2008?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Neither, happy to have a job, sad I don't get to see a lot of my friends as much any more.

b) fatter or thinner?
Slightly heavier though that probably means I now look underweight rather than like a walking skeleton.

c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spent time with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Spend money.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With family, in Australia.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

22. What was your favourite TV programme?
Hmm probably Code Geass

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
The name of the Wind.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Thrice (Thanks Andrew B!)

26. What did you want and get?
A job.

27. What did you want and not get?
A awesome job, and something more than friendship (admittedly considering the lack of effort I put into that the result is not surprising)

28. What was your favourite film of this year?
Dark Knight

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
Nothing I think, hit 24,

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A bigger pay packet

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Same as always

32. What kept you sane?
Friends and my loner tendencies

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The US election, and New Zealand Election

35. Who did you miss?
The Christchurch bunch (not that your all in Chch these days)

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Hard to say, meet a few people but don't know any one well enough yet to make some one a best.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Work sucks but at least it pays.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Don't listen to enough music for this one.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wedding: Andrew & Ruth

I've stuck a selection of the best wedding photos up at Speculum so go have a look. Also I've stuck more images up at Facebook.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coming Soon: To A Blog Near You

A feature length presentation of one wedding, in the life of a certain couple. With their numerous friends making guest appearances, in this once in a lifetime Drama!

NB: May or may not be released before our New Years special feature.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Akaroa: Photos

A wider range of photos from the trip to Akaroa has now been posted on Speculum:

Still working on the New Years Eve photos and the photos from my trip to Aus, be another weekend before I get them up.

A couple more previews in the mean time though.

Dolphin Show

Looking South to Surfers

Portraits: At Akaroa

I've just stuck the first images, from the trip to Akaroa, on Speculum.

Akaroa Portraits:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Farewell, summer holidays

Well on the way back to Hamilton for work. Was good to see most of you over the Christmas break. I'll stick up an image or two from New Years once I have some free time to go through them properly, though that may take a wee while as I've a lot of Photos from Australia to go through as well. Also I'm likely to pick up a few more images with the up coming wedding. I'll throw up a post here when I get around to updating speculum.
I'll also stick up a few photos from Aus here for those of you interested in such things hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

Any way greetings from wellington (for the whole hour or so I'm here.
Oh and here is a preview image from the trip to Aus:

Christmas Day: Surfers Paradise
Christmas Day

On that note: Eee Pc and 3g for the win!