...Monckton did another good talk, relating to my central points (posted 11-05-14):
Sunday, December 19, 2010
...Monckton did another good talk, relating to my central points (posted 11-05-14):
Monday, December 13, 2010
Letter to Julie-Anne Genter:
The included letter was sent 09-01-12. I thought I would include the idea for interest as it's relevant to this post:
Green Party MP
I had a look through the idea of removing minimum parking requirements, and I agree with it. In my view the only reason why we had them in the first place is probably because we just never (previously) had the tools to meter all (or nearly all) parks, meaning we haven't yet been able operate a rational market model [addition: The same can be said for most roads - we never charged for them because it was just too impractical, except in exceptional situations such as for costly new bridges].
However, it's clear to me that we now have the tools to toll any park or road economically, using the system I suggest.
I wanted to forward this to you because it has become obvious to me that this system, surely, is by far the best way to go about it. And also it would need to be a national initiative for if it were to ever go ahead.
1. Mandate passive RF-chips on all cars in New Zealand, to be fixed onto license plates for when the cars get their WOF. This of course provides an electronic signature for all cars registration.
Passive RF-chips are so cheap in themselves that they can be considered costless.
2. From here, you can install an RF-reader embedded-in or placed on top of the road. The RF-reader would basically be an extremely crude cellphone-type device that records the registration of all cars that pass over it. From here it can send a text via wireless internet to inform a master server of what/when/where a given car went through the gate. The reader can be solar-powered (only a tiny amount of power would be required to run it). It would likewise accumulate data and maybe send a text to a master server with its records, once a day. This is extremely simple and easy to install technology - no wiring required.
3. From here, your server will have all the information it needs to bill a driver for both toll roads and parking. Every driver will have an established account, and people can be sent a bill for their usage, usually as a PDF-file every month, and pay online too.
The administration can be (and naturally would be) almost totally automated.
4. Private sector ownership of car parks and roads will have their revenue paid to them through the Ministry of Transport, from the MoT's master server. Naturally it needs to be based on one national system to be practical.
-No one will want to muck about with multiple bills from multiple servers, and nor do they need to if you get the system right from the beginning and build a single core-system as the base. This is also why it would need to be an initiative developed by central government. It needs to be a national system so all cars can be charged. It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing - all the cars need to be chipped first.
I cannot conceive of a more efficient and practical system for providing user-charges on roads. And to stress there is no fundamental reason for it to be unduly expensive - the supporting technology is inherently cheap.
I do not believe the proposed system exists as of yet (from what I know at least?), but the government could certainly commission its development. There is no question it would work. It's based on nothing more than a crude information exchange using well established technologies. It's all solid-state electronics and therefore inherently reliable and low maintenance.
As I see it, it gives us the foundation to economically rationalise road usage which in turn allows us to do away with minimum parking requirements. Parking can become just another component of the market economic model.
Another thing you can do with this system is install the equivalent of speed camera's, for cheap. It's just a matter of embedding two readers, say 50 meters apart, on any given stretch of road so it can likewise measure vehicle speed as it enters and exists the gates, plus details.
I wonder how this would affect the road toll, having a "speed trap" on maybe every dangerous corner?
The RF-readers can inform us of traffic conditions in real time, and very accurately. This can obviously help with traffic management.
Also, we can have congestion-charging with this system and on a detailed level, using maybe many toll gates because they're so cheap to install, anywhere. People can use the internet to get a detailed perspective on travel/parking costs at any given time of the day, as rates are always displayed online.
Reducing congestion is by far the most significant way we can reduce carbon emissions from road transport. Stop-and-go operation is the great "evil" of transport inefficiency in an urban environment.
Having a detailed time/location record of people's cars, that can be accessed when required, can no doubt help to fight crime.
I hope you found this idea of interest.
Thanks for your attention,
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
This is a great video - reinforcing and demonstrating my point about the feasibility of online learning.
Now this is interesting. Google, being a massive company, has done internal research to actually measure (not assume) the real commercial value of tertiary training, relating to their staff. They came to the conclusion, after studying their own data, that grade point average's don't mean anything because they do not correlate to positive professional performance, except to a small degree for people who are fresh out of college. And the latter is a difference that disappears after about 2 or 3 years.
This is the kind of research that should have been done a long time ago. Education is an enormous cost, and the least we should be expecting is scientific study into its value that normalises for cultural assumptions. Of course we had to wait for the private sector to do the obvious.
What a disgrace that we have spent the last 50 years + heavily subsidising tertiary education (and other) without even trying to seriously determine its real commercial value.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Did you know that most children born (truly) non-traumatically turn out to be ambidextrous? And you thought having a hand dominance was normal! Well, it is normal. But being altered by a problematic birth is normal too, and of course that's probably not the kind of normal you want to be part of, insofar as you can help it.
Read on to learn how you can have the most 'normal' birth possible.
Birth is a highly vulnerable time for a baby. It's a time when imperfections in delivery can (and will) have a severe or even profound long-term impact on the baby, due to traumatic imprinting. [See my Understanding Mental Sickness to learn about trauma-imprinting].
Birth in itself is not traumatic for a baby, but it so easily can be traumatic as things can too easily go wrong. Most of us have in fact received significant damage from a less-than-ideal birth, and the personal costs are more serious than we can realise.
Several years ago I gave the following recommendation to a pregnant friend of mine, to help optimise her birth. She had an excellent birth (about 3.5 hours in labour + no complications) and she was very happy with it.
Here was the formula:
1. Dim lights in the delivery room.
A baby's senses are 'tuned' differently to an adults so they can't moderate input like we can. They can be traumatised by "normal" input. [Refer to Frederick Leboyer's classic: "Birth without Violence"]
2. Keep the room quiet.
3. Warm room.
4. No drugs (unless you come to desperately need them).
The birthing process is governed by all kinds of hormones and chemical processes, switching important biological functions on and off. Because of this, drugs can directly interfere with the birthing process, and directly interfere with the baby's physiology as well.
A drugged baby's body cannot respond properly just as a drugged mothers can't. Reducing a baby's ability to adapt will only increase their exposure to damage. (Not to mention that the drugs are damaging in their own right). A relaxed, non drugged-up mother/baby is going to be less likely to need forceps and the like.
5. Natural delivery (no elective C-section).
A baby needs to be stimulated by contractions before coming into the world. Traumatic-imprinting from "canal deprivation" can lead to an [unnaturally] passive and phlegmatic personality.
Also, vaginal mucus is forced into a baby's stomach during natural birthing, which is apparently important for the development of the baby's immune system - a bit like breast feeding.
6. Get comfortable. (The doctors first take orders from you - not the other way around).
My friend told her doctors how she wanted her birth to be, and she said to them: "I don't want to be swearing at anyone (if they didn't do things her way) during my birth".
A bit of "I-will-make-life-difficult-for-you" can go a long way? As a precaution, I would probably make the same kind of statements myself. You don't want a doctor pulling the plug on your authority at the last minute.
7. Do not cut the umbilical cord until the baby is independently breathing.
8. The baby is to be handed over to (and put on) the mother immediately after birthing.
The ultimate social trauma = Remove a baby from its mother immediately after birth.
(This is like me opening up a hole into another universe and then throwing you into it).
9. The baby is to stay with the mother after birthing, for several hours at least.
It is a fact that complex attachments between mother and baby develop during this critical time, like they do for other mammals as well.
10. Maintain a calm and comfortable environment.
A newborn baby is no "protoplasm". This is when/where they need sensitive care more than ever.
11. Do not circumcise your baby boy unless it really must be done. And if you do, use an anaesthetic.
Unnecessary circumcision (...and pre-1980 in New Zealand it was conducted without anaesthetic) was/is a truly stupid and barbaric process. Babies would go blue, pass out, and in some cases even die from the pain.
...Did you know: When babies are born non-traumatically they do not scream or cry immediately after their delivery. Yes, that rasping cry from the newborn baby is not normal.
Addition: 14-8-13: The following is Penn and Teller's anti-circumcision episode. It's difficult to watch, but important nonetheless. This practice is first-order child abuse. Why is it still legal?
Many people prefer home-birthing because they want to avoid the clinical setting and have a more natural birth. Good on them, but I don't see why home-birthing needs to be at home as such. Why not create a homely setting directly backed-up with medical facilities (on standby) should it come to be that you need them? Why not have the best of both worlds? This is what my friend did, and her delivery was excellent.
My central point to the pregnant (or one-day pregnant) reader is that you have nothing to lose by taking direct control of your birth and ensuring that it goes your way, which should (hopefully) be a natural way. The result can be a child with significantly less 'primary' emotional damage than what's common within in our society today, which is good not only for the child but the parents of course. Indeed; a happy, lively baby that is not irritable and 'difficult' is going to get the best of what their parents can give them, so the advantages compound. A really good start means a lot.
I don't know what the statistics are on rates of birth complications (I will try to find them later on) but I notice all the young girls at my work are having major birthing complications, and to a point where I would guess it's as common as 80% or higher. Honestly it's starting to seem like all their births are a mess.
Where do these complications come from? Suggestions. Drugs are a huge factor. They completely 'ram' the birthing process, as I commented earlier. They lay the foundation for creating the very problems that the medical industry exists to solve.
Another factor is just not doing what comes natural for you, and religiously conforming to the dictates of the obstetrician. Remember that your doctor is scared of being sued. If he does anything "outside the box" or even personally recommends anything outside the box, then he takes the risk that if anything goes wrong then he might be liable...because it happened on his recommendation. So your doctor may not tell you what he really believes.
Can you relate to this? I myself, in my own work, often don't do things that I think would be best and for no other reason than if something happened to go wrong, and I'm not following the book, then I might be liable. No thanks. I would rather just do things the stupid way, whether it makes a mess of things or not, because then I'm protected no matter the outcome - the disasters become my bosses problem, not mine. You want to think about that. It's up to you, women, to take control of your birth. You live in a world where everyone's first priority is to cover their own butts, and again you need to keep that in mind. Seek out advice that is not inhibited or "contaminated" and make your decisions from there.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Andrew D Atkin
In our new internet-age and ever more globalised world it makes sense to me that we should all be speaking a universally understood language, and ideally as everyone's first language. Of course we are already moving in this direction (with English) but we could still be doing it so much faster and more efficiently.
Here is my idea:
Using the United Nations as a centralised authority, we could develop an internationally standardised form of English: English "Systems International".
An SI-English should first be cleaned-up so as to get rid of unnecessary complexities/contradictions that exist within common English today. We could even look at other possibilities such as expanding the alphabet; that is, maybe creating more (new) letters so as to allow us to more efficiently group sounds. English would be easier for young people (and foreigners) to learn if the letters were more directly correlated to their phonic associations.
An SI-English could be open to updates say every 5-10 years.
A supporting website could provide free education for anyone to learn SI-English. The website should also provide audio downloads for properly pronounced English. (Pronunciation should be standardised to help overcome the problem of understanding people with extreme accents).
To me this idea is common sense. Language, before anything, is just a communication system and in principle it is silly to have everyone speaking all kinds of different languages in a tightly connected world. We should go out of our way to drive for the process of standardisation, and through our standardisation we should also take the opportunity for fundamental improvements as well. It's easy to do, and it's worth it.
A little uninformative, but I have to agree with Mr B'stard:
Friday, October 22, 2010
The introduction of ubiquitous robotics could bring in a new era of productive automation. Not so much for our domestic lives, but for many areas of services, maintenance and industrial production. I think we will soon see robotics expanding out from the limited confines of mass-production plants alone.
These future-focused people who try to build robots that part look and act like humans, so as to (supposedly) perform human functions, have got it wrong. Making a robot to simulate a human is as reasonable as making an aircraft that flaps its wings. Like with aircraft, the structural optimum for a mechanical system is completely different to a biological system.
However, I do believe we will see the ubiquitous implementation of flexible, mobile robots in the near future of which may come to offset a vast amount of human labour.
So what will the 'common' robot look like? For the sake of some perspective, here is my guess:
Robots will become ubiquitous when we start to standardise and mass-produce flexible versions of them, and with many standardised (and compatible) major components.
I would say that the most ideal structure, for common applications, would simply be a robotic arm mounted on a mobile base. It would not simulate a human hand because that would be impractical and unnecessary. The arm would usually come with a tool-kit of several "hands", each hand designed as a specialised tool to perform a specific function.
Ultimate video compression:
The ultimate in video compression would have to be a system whereby the viewed imaged is reduced to a geometric representation, so that the visual information is compressed into a connect-the-dots type of format. Basically, imagine a camera and also laser viewing the image and reducing it to a CAD (computer aided drafting) information description. The image is then reconstructed at the remote-viewers end as a CAD drawing. Only a tiny amount of information would be required for streaming over the internet, for a comprehensive image.
This would deliver an image that's a bit surreal looking, like a typical computer-generated image, but it would actually make remote-controlling easier as it makes the boundaries of the object more clear to the eye. It also compensates for poor lighting.
Ultimately 3d images (true stereoscopic images) can be formed in this manner, making remote controlling even easier.
And another great talk, on the da Vinci system (used for advanced keyhole surgery). The technology within the da Vinci system could be scaled-back, and used in all kinds of applications.
Mechanical dexterity all you really need, because the software and internet-integration will be evolutionary and, once you have your mechanistic foundation, can seamlessly merge into existing systems without expensive retrofitting.
The weak link behind practical robotics will have more to do with mechanics than information processing, as the information component can and will rapidly advance, and hopefully from an open source format.
I think we can expect to see a heavy research focus on making robots that are light and efficient, reliable and low maintenance - that is, a focus on the non solid-state part of the game, because over the long-term that's where the biggest cost barriers are going to be.
Two things that could have a big impact to this end are the use of springs within robotic arms that allow most long-range physical movements to operate like a pendulum (think of a metronome) so that mechanic energy is generally stored and recovered as the arm moves from one point to the next. This will take a large part of the load off the motors, and breaking mechanisms, in terms of both mechanical stress and energy consumption.
Another idea is to make robots that are relatively low-precision with their bulk movement, but high-precision with low-range detailed movements: Basically, think of a small robotic arm mounted at the end of a big robotic arm, and think of the big arm making large low-precision sweeps to a given location point, and then from there rigidly breaking/locking into position, whereby the small high-precision robotic arm then finishes the final action by moving independently to the main body of the (then rigid) robot. This approach may help notably to increase precision and lower real costs.
Another interesting video, showing us how far and fast robotics technology is moving along. Motional-feedback systems are a critical component of flexible robotic actuation. And it allows us to achieve operational precision without great (mechanistic) expense, as the feedback loop corrects for errors (just like with animals).
Another important tool will be hand-gesture tracking, for remote controlling. I can see people's arms being suspended from the ceiling of their home offices, on a long sprung cable. Camera's will track body movements in detail and link them directly to the actuation of a remote robotic arm (just like in the Avatar move). This must be the most efficient way a human can control a robotic arm, second to forming a direct brain-to-machine neural link.
With motional-feedback robotic movements can be very rapid, because the robotic arm can avoid boundaries while it's being controlled, and it can operate within programmed parameters in any circumstance ie. the controller doesn't need to be careful, the robot will do that for you. You can generally just be "sloppy" and fast.
And more. The manufacturer's focus is virtual reality, but 'remote reality' is what we're really after for a robotics revolution, and these kinds of systems are nonetheless very important to that end.