Monday, May 7, 2018

How western sensibility is killing us

By Andrew Atkin:

Imagine if we had a traditional society, where people took having kids seriously. So seriously that it was taboo not to have them and not to have them young. With the effect being that nearly every woman has given birth to 3 or more children before she was 25 years of age.

Now imagine also that the planning was minimal. So kids first - poverty eradication second. Better to be fertile and poor than infertile and rich.

What would happen if we were still running a society like that?

Well, there would be enormous pressure on the government to engineer a society that facilitates fertility, to keep the financial pain of bringing children into this world at a minimum. And this is where the heart of my point is.

We've lost that political pressure. Because nowadays if it's hard to have children, then we just don't have them (excluding the truly reckless, of course.)

Now that would be alright enough, except for the fact that the political-pressure to hold to family-friendly policies has largely collapsed. The result, is that public policy has been overwhelmingly engineered to take care of the interests of older people, rather than young families, and in turn amplifying our collapsing fertility rates.

Today, we've got all these young people making perfectly sensible decisions about not having children until they can most comfortably afford it. Resulting in both heavily delayed and greatly reduced fertility. And fertility usually below even social replacement levels.

We've become so sensible with our decision making as individuals, that our governments no longer have to be. And it's literally killing us.

These are some of the key policy movements that probably would not have survived if we went back to being foolish, and had well-sized families at the younger and healthier times of our lives:

1. The property market would not have been allowed to artificially inflate.

-This has been a nightmare for the young, though profitable for the older generations.

2. Educational demands would not have been allowed to inflate.

-You wouldn't need a degree for a job requiring just good communication skill and diligence, and most people would hardly need high school in fact. Young people (and society in general) would win back at least 5 years of their lives.

3. Pensions would be strictly means-tested.

-The idea of paying pensions to old people who don't really need them, would no longer be tolerated. Not with too many families with young children struggling.

Conclusion:

The final result of all this reduced fertility, and bloated privilege to the elderly, is that the third world is set to replace us. Because when it comes to having kids, as individuals we're just too damn sensible. In turn we've made it too easy for our governments to ignore pro-fertility policy, and in fact facilitate anti-fertility policy.

It's time for a re-think.







Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Ultimate Spy Device

Andrew Atkin: 



Smartphones are the ultimate spy device. Even when you think they're off, they could nonetheless be recording everything you're saying, with time and location included, and converting it into a file to be uploaded later just as soon as you connect to the Internet. 

That file can then be processed on an outside server where your speech is converted to text, and your words are scanned for anything considered 'concerning'. It's easy and the technology supporting this exists today. It could happen in the background operations of your phone, so you won't even know it's happening.

Anything that you do online in general can be recorded and decoded, and with no matter what kind of an app you think you're using. All code can be decoded.

If you're worried about any kind of big brother snooping into your life, then worry no more. There's every chance this sort of thing is happening already, or will happen, so you might as well presume that it is.

But it's not all bad news. If it's not abused, spying can provide a excellent public service. In theory at least, it's never been harder for a terrorist group to successfully organise a violent attack. Only the silent lone-wolf terrorist should be a threat in our modern age, and even then only if he doesn't talk to himself.

Yet there is still a bad side, and a potentially devastating bad side. 

What happens when a less-than-benevolent government gets into power, takes the opposition parties out back for execution, and then shuts down future elections?

How do you organise opposition to a government gone so badly wrong, when the government can and will sniff-out organised dissent the moment it happens; along with who and where exactly the dissenters are?  Well you can't. 

Hence government becomes inherently dangerous as a social system, as it probably can't be redeemed for when and if the worst ever happens. You would probably have to wait for it to redeem itself in maybe the far distant future.

So should we throw away our smartphones? Unrealistic, of course. The best we can do is focus on laying down some strong defenses today.

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Some suggestions to keeping the government straight:

1. Decentralise government into small local units, so no all-powerful centralised government can develop in the first place. (Radical decentralisation has advantages on many levels. This is just one
).

2. Develop a constitution for all law enforcers on all levels to follow, that strictly controls for the potential abuse of power from central governments.

-A finalised constitution should only be modified through public referendum, which should be respected as the highest authority of the land. Law enforcers should be instructed that a government that tries to illegitimately over-rule the constitution is their enemy and should be treated as such.

3. Make all policy and operational systems of the secret service as transparent as possible.

4. Eliminate all hate speech laws that threaten to criminalise free speech.

-The problem with 'hate speech' is it's inherently subjective. The bottom line: With hate speech laws you are creating the legal infrastructure to shut down free speech. This is extremely dangerous in any circumstance. If people can be spied on and ultimately criminalised for their political speech alone, then needless to say you've got yourself a creeping tyranny.

5. Make tight reforms and protections, as required, while your nation still can. Fixing problems before they happen is obviously the way to go.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Open letter to Julie-Anne Genter

Andrew Atkin: 



This letter was sent to the the recipient, 09-01-2012.

I have decided to present the idea as an open letter.

Forward: The truth is, we cannot intelligently invest in transport infrastructure until we can economically rationalise it. And this is largely impossible without congestion-charging.

Removing congestion from Auckland is also impossible without congestion-charging. Note, people only flood into trains and buses when they either can't drive, can't afford the parking, or because the roads are so severely congested that trains become a much faster option for their particular destination. 

We can do much better than a somewhat blind multi-billion dollar rail investment, which could too easily prove to be a white elephant just few years down the track.

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Green Party MP
Julie-Anne Genter

Hi again,

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 (?).

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.

As follows:

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 adminstration can be (and naturally would be) almost totally automated.

4. Private sector ownership of carparks 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.

Advantages:

I cannot concieve 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 economical model.

Safety:

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?

Road management:

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.

Security:

Having a detailed time/location record of people's cars, that can be accessed when required, can no doubt help to fight crime.

Ends:

I hope you found this idea of interest. 

Thanks for your attention,

Andrew Atkin

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Extended video: 


Monday, April 16, 2018

Getting the New Zealand road toll down to ZERO


By Andrew Atkin.

Yes, it can be done. But there is only one (realistic) way to do it.














Well amazingly, the Green party has come up with a policy proposal that I might agree with. As I understand, they are thinking about reducing the New Zealand highway speed limit to 70 km/h.

However, there is no way the 70 km/h proposal can be implemented until cars are driverless, for political reasons alone. The public would surely, otherwise, never accept it.

First, let's look at the safety advantage of travelling at 70 instead of 100 km/h. The braking distance at 70 is half that of 100, and if a 'freak' collision does occur it will happen with only a small fraction of the impact-force that it would be at higher speeds. With anti-collision technology provided by now-developed driverless systems, the chances of an injury causing death on New Zealand's roads would be virtually zero. Even significant injuries would be all but unheard of.

So getting the road toll down to virtually zero per-year, is not unreasonable. We can do it. But again the problem is getting drivers to accept travelling 30% slower which would increase their travel times by about 15% (Note. Reducing top speeds does not proportionally reduce average speeds, due to cornering and travelling through towns, etc).

The trick is to provide a proposal on reducing the top speed that the public can accept. Well, this is where the advantages of driverless Uber-style transport comes in. Let me create a scenario to give you the picture.

You live in Wellington and want to spend the weekend in Auckland. So, you order up a bed-car designed for sleeping for long trips, on Friday night. When your car gets to your door at 8 pm, it has a pre-ordered meal waiting for you included. You get in, start eating dinner, and watch the movie on the screen or work on your computer. At 10 pm you get tired and lie back and go to sleep, using your personal duvet and pillow, on what is literally a bed base in the car.

You wake up in Auckland at 6 am the next day, Saturday, without the sore neck. Your top travel speed was 70 km/h and your average speed was ~65 km/h.

What you would also notice, is that the car ride was unusually smooth. This is because the car has electronically controlled suspension that provides some active lean into the corners, and has an explicit map that allows it to smoothly avoid significant bumps on the road.

Now this is the point. Do we really need to travel at dangerous speeds when car-time is no longer dead time?

I would argue we don't. In fact car-time could be valued as it gives people more of their own space where they won't be directly disturbed. And the increase in travel times will not be drastic, at about 15%, if we reduce the top speed to 70 km/h.

And finally, there is always the possibility of building new roads that safely specialise to faster operation in the future. Maybe operating at 150 km/h with roads that have heavy super-elevation, for those who want to pay for this.

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Let me list some other advantages of reducing highway speeds to 70 km/h.

-Approximately 60 - 70% reduction in energy consumption, from reducing aerodynamic drag and braking losses.

-Great reduction in road maintenance.

-Far more economical driverless freight operation.

-Major reduction in vehicle maintenance.

-Huge increase in road capacity via close platooning, which requires constant road speeds (not slowing for corners) to work well. (Note, driverless cars can be compartmentalised for privacy in car-pooling, which should be popular. This also can increase road capacity dramatically).

-Good for tourists, for where the trip is the destination.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If I were a Moderate Muslim
























By Andrew Atkin:

If I was a Moderate Muslim, then what would I do to combat all these Islamophobes and Neo-Nazi's who call me unkind names?

Well for start, I wouldn't worry about them. They are not my real enemy. My real enemies are the fundamentalist Islamist's that share my faith. The fundamentalists perform terrorists activities, practice sharia law when they can, and push for the Islamification of the entire world via Jihad.

The fundamentalists would be threatening to ruin my moderate reputation via toxic association. They're making non-Muslim's nervous about all Muslims. Naturally, if I was a moderate Muslim I wouldn't want non-Muslims to feel that way about me, especially if I'm living in a non-Muslim host country.

So what would I do? First I would join up with non-Muslims and do everything I can to explain, to them, the difference between people like me and extremists. And I would do it respectfully. Of course it's a bit silly to call people Islamophobes and racists after what extremist Islam has done, and is still doing today. And name-calling would never help my cause. That's no way to get people on my side.

In clarifying the difference, I would clearly define my moderate religious position. I would take the Qur'an and remove all the parts within that book that I believe are a perversion of 'true' Islam. I would also condemn the evil aspects of Muhammad's life that, to my mind, must be a false representation of history and therefore my faith.

Of course, I cannot be a moderate Muslim and simultaneously consider the brutal and totalitarian directives within the Qur'an to be Allah's truth. If I did, then I would be an extremist - not a moderate. A moderate can only believe in the Qur'an as it stands today selectively, so again I would extract all the corruption from the original book and call my edited version "The true Qur'an".

My version would be a pure statement of the beliefs of a moderate Islamist, and there would be no ambiguity. This is what a religious book should be like. If you want people to know the truth that you believe in, then you shouldn't mix words with how it is expressed. And I wouldn't.

In conjunction with this, I would study extremism and extremists on the psycho-social level. I would need to. Extremists are my enemy as they want me converted or dead, so I would have to put in place measures to defend moderate Islam from them. I would need to understand my enemy to work against them.

Further, I would insist that all mosques are carefully monitored, along with other precautionary measures, to defend against any corrupting influence from extremist elements that might get in. And naturally I would want to take the opportunity to prove my innocence to my wider society, so as to protect the reputation of my faith.

A genuine moderate has nothing to hide, and would never wish to become an enemy of the non-Muslim world. A moderate only wants to do good things, and their beliefs are consistent with western human rights.

But most importantly of all, as I must stress, I would transparently draw a definitive line between the moderates and the extremists. There would be no confusion. I would explain the differences explicitly. Again I would not want to be confused with the extremists. I would see it as my duty to protect moderate Islam and also to explain my faith to my host country, out of respect for my host country, and like everyone else I would believe that I have a duty to fight extremism and the pervasive threat of extremism. Because extremism is real - not phobic.

Ends.

Now this is where I have a concern with the moderates. I have to say their behaviour is not entirely consistent with who they claim to be. Where is THEIR Qur'an, or do they endorse the whole original thing? If so, then, like many studious people have claimed, there is no moderate Islam - only Islam. And if these (so called) moderates are not prepared to define their religious faith in explicit terms that we can all understand, and also take serious action against the forces of extremism, then they can't complain when people look at them with suspicion. If they're going to be conspicuous by their silence--which may be interpreted as passive endorsement--then they deserve the suspicion they might recieve.

Realistically though, most moderates are probably just ignorant. They don't understand their holy book because they've only read a part of it. But again that is not good enough. They need to get off their butts and clarify where, exactly, they are at, and what exactly they believe. Otherwise the western world will continue to give them that concerning suspicion that is both understandable and justified.

In a nutshell, the moderates need to join the rest of us in maturely answering the question:

"What action should we take to be sure there is no Islamic radicalisation process occurring or potentially occurring within our society?"

The author has already given his best attempt at answering that specific question:



Friday, March 30, 2018

South Africa: A failure of Merit.


By Andrew Atkin:



















South Africa is a tragedy. It went from a prosperous tyranny of apartheid, to an imploding tyranny of the incompetent. It achieved this in just a few short decades. South Africa is now on the brink of a White genocide, directly promoted by its new leadership.


South Africa provides an extreme example of what happens when a country of limited education and intellect embraces democracy, without respect to merit. And from here I must point out some uncomfortable truths to make my point.

The sub-Saharan average Black IQ is about 70. The average White IQ is about 100. Though I believe the IQ test to be an approximate measure of institutional intelligence, and not necessarily overall intelligence, the black-to-white IQ gap is nonetheless striking. It's too big to be brushed-off as a mere superficial or meaningless measure.
















What should also be respected is that the sub-Saharan Black man has a brain that is notably smaller than both Whites and Asians (about 8% smaller) and that Blacks have a faster physical and mental maturity. This suggests that the IQ difference is probably biological, at least to some degree. Also indicative is that sub-Saharan Blacks show strong signs of being less intelligent in terms of cultural advancement. They do not seem to progress without direct external leadership, for even when the opportunities for development are presented to them.

All of this is true, yet we're not allowed to believe it (you racist!). Or, if the mainstream media can have its way, we're not even allowed to know it.

I can respect that these facts are hurtful if insensitively handled, which obviously is why this conversation is taboo. However, sometimes uncomfortable facts need to be appreciated to avoid even more painful potentials. And this is where South Africa--and intentional do-gooders--have failed and failed badly.

Without meaning to excuse the worst of apartheid, we have completely ignored the fact that sub-Saharan Blacks, as a group, are not as capable of running a modern western civilization as the White South African population. And we have likewise overturned what was a crudely meritocratic system, in exchange for a kind of blind idealistic faith in democracy. We put wishful-thinking ahead of realism and now, alas, the blood is on our hands.

Well thank you, South Africa. Your social experiment has made quite a statement. We can no longer argue that democracy does not need to be conditioned with controls for merit. If the general populous is grossly under or mis-educated, or of low intelligence, then you're asking for trouble.

So what is the solution for South Africa, today? How can South Africa go back to being the envy of the African continent for both Whites and Blacks alike? No, it should not be apartheid. Apartheid was a racist system, and of course people should be measured as individuals. However, South Africa still needs a political system rooted in MERIT if it is to ever prosper again.

My suggestion: Don't let anyone vote unless they have an IQ of at least 100. Don't let anyone take a position in high public office, if they do not have an IQ of at least 120.

IQ is a somewhat crude measuring rod, I know, but over averages (which is what counts) it is effective. It will work.

You would be foolish to think that a system like what I propose will not represent the interests of the less intelligent people, in material terms. Unintelligent people are notorious for voting for what looks good over what actually is good, because they simply don't link cause-to-effect with policy well. They think they're buying candy but too often end up with crap.

Also the idea of tempering democracy with meritocracy is not alien to us. We don't let young children vote because they're clueless, right? Of course. This principle needs to be expanded to adults of limited ability as well. And it should happen everywhere, world over. We would all be much better off for it, and better protected from the bleak potential of a thoughtless mob racing to the polls.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Ideal communications app for improving training and education

By Andrew Atkin

We all have smartphones now. So making a training video can be done on the spot, by nearly anyone.

But we have yet to exploit this technology because there doesn't seems to be an app yet available to properly facilitate smartphones for their training and communications potential.

I would like to make a structural suggestion for the development of an app that can greatly enhance workplace training, and communications and education in general.

The idea, is that you shoot a video from your phone using a master-app that takes care of all the associated fuss. A recorded video is later uploaded to a prescribed online server (internet or intranet) as soon as you hit 'send'. You can wait until you're at a WiFi point before uploading. There's no fuss.

However, because your video is meant for communications (not pretty visual effects) you can choose to greatly compress the video for efficiency, during the post-edit and before uploading.



This can be done with what I call 'spotlight compression' which should be integrated with the app.

-With your fingers on the touchscreen, you create and control (meaning control the position and size) of a low-compression (and therefore high-definition) bubble inside a later high-compression (and therefore low-definition) full-sized image. This is to ensure that the definition is only preserved which is specifically necessary for meaningful clarity. This can drastically reduce the file size of any training video. You can also choose to make the videos simple colours, or black and white, etc.

-Also desirable for communications videos, is a freeze-frame function. So, you press a point on the touchscreen and it holds to a single picture-frame, while still recording voice as a normal-running video. This of course gets rid of a lot of unnecessary data for a training video.

-Another thing educational videos should have is easy referencing for within each video. Basically, you apply an instant jump-to function...

In the post edit, you would want to apply chapters to each video. So, you make a list of integrated links, accessible just below the video, which click to the points within the video that are directly applicable to what you want to see. Obviously this is most important for longer videos, so people are not wasting much time searching.

-And finally, fast access tags (printable) for videos should be included. Using a simple number code, and also QR-codes for immediate video access from a cellphone. The QR-reader should be integrated with the app.












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If it's all in one app, then it will be easy to use which is critical. The videos can be made without prior organisation, and quickly. That is key.

A company can set up a professional account with the app-based server, so all videos are uploaded to a secure point that can then only be downloaded by others with a pass. Again, it should all be streamlined into one app, including video recording, uploading and downloading, and file organisation, etc, because it can and should be dead easy to use. People should be using it as a communication medium all the time, especially in practical hands-on professions.

Another function to integrate with the app is a screen-cast recorder, that records everything on your computer screen. This is extremely useful for all kinds of training, and obviously computer training.

Imagine if everyone at work (or home) can access any training video on anything, for work or school, that is specifically correct for their learning and immediately accessible from their phones. It would prove to be a powerful tool for rapid on-the-job training, and help to resist the never-ending problem of communication breakdowns.

You can't beat monkey-see/monkey-do for fighting ambiguities and making everything instantly clear. Why 'describe' when you can just 'show'?

Can someone please hurry up and develop this app? I want it.

Thank you.

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Note: Creating professional videos?

I can only speak from experience, but I believe that creating professional training videos (by using a slick outside source) is nearly always a bad idea. They look great, but are actually harder to receive and learn from as compared to a conscientiously composed in-house 'amateur' video. Not to mention that slick, professional-looking videos are extremely expensive to make.

I think it's the same dynamic when comparing talking naturally to reading from text. Reading from text is always harder for your audience to receive because it's not natural. In-house training videos, also, are more naturally expressed.