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Happiness nonsense

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The assertion that “people are surprisingly bad judges of what makes them happy” seems quite prevalent in recent happiness literature. Well-being fanatics  claiming to know better than ordinary people or politicians what is good for us is not new.

Cameron has announced that the coalition government will be addressing happiness and wellbeing as part of its economic policy. Do you feel comfortable with ministers emboldened with new happiness metrics poking your personal happiness buttons and making policy according to results?

Happiness is subjective and transient, causing problems for researchers trying to measure it scientifically. Many believe that the most effective way to measure happiness is simply to ask people. Respondents are asked to make judgements about their life as a whole. Ask yourself, do you feel ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’…  Holla if you think this is nonsense.




Written by tree2one

January 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Posted in free speech

Should everyone have the vote?

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Apologies that this is a plagiarised article but it sums up quite well the problems that universal suffrage can cause…

“Despite dire warnings from all types of politicians that we really ought to give a damn, it rather looks as if most people entitled to vote in Britain’s first referendum for 36 years will not bother to do so.
Yes, I’m talking about today’s poll on the Alternative Vote. Wake up at the back there! But here’s an idea that might really stir up some interest – and improve our nation’s governance.
Why don’t we restrict votes to people who actually pay something into the system? No, I am not suggesting a return to property-based eligibility; although that system worked quite well when Parliament administered not just Britain but most of the world. Today, income would be a much better test, setting the bar as low as possible; perhaps including everyone who pays at least £100 of income tax each year.
That minimal requirement would include everyone who gets out of bed in the morning to go to work and could easily be extended to include, on grounds of fairness, several other groups. For example, all pensioners – because of the fiscal contributions to society they are likely to have paid earlier – and mothers – because of their contribution to defusing the ‘demographic time-bomb’ of an ageing population.
This modest proposal would, however, exclude large numbers of people who have no ‘skin in the game’ and who may even comprise the majority of voters in some metropolitan areas today. Their contribution is not just negative in financial terms – they take out more than they put in – but likely to be damaging to the decisions taken by democracies.
For example, it is sometimes said – and uncertainly attributed to Alexander Tytler – that: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.
“From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.”
Hard to believe? The credit crisis afflicting democracies around the world demonstrates the truth of this observation. So does the fact that our less  democratic competitors in the emerging markets suffer no such crisis.
We have been voting ourselves better benefits than we have earned for decades and – sooner than later – that has got to stop. Restoring the link between contributing to society and voting about how it is run would be a sensible first step.
If all that sounds rather dry, then – with apologies to regular readers – here’s anecdote from Max King, global asset allocation strategist at Investec, which sets out to explain the macroeconomics of tax and benefits in terms we can all understand.
Suppose that once a month, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all of them comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes and claim State benefits, it would go something like this;
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every month and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20.” Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men; the paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody’s share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So the bar owner suggested a different system. The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing.
The sixth man paid £2 instead of £3 .
The seventh paid £5 instead of £7.
The eighth paid £9 instead of £12.
The ninth paid £14 instead of £18.
And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59. 
Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free.
But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got £1 out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got £10!”
“Yes, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a £1 too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I only got £2? The rich get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”
So, the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. Funnily enough, the next month the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him.
But when it came to pay for their drinks, they discovered something important – they didn’t have enough money between all of them to pay for even half the bill.
That’s how non-contributory democracy led to the credit crisis in a nutshell. Or a joke, on the basis that you don’t need to be solemn to make a serious point. It’s time to restore the link between paying something into society and voting on decisions about how it is run.”

Written by jackshaftoe

May 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Posted in free speech

How wikileaks is a foreshadow of the stateless nation

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The author Neil Stephenson, in his book diamond age explores the notion that the nation state will become irrelevant and that people will group together on the basis of culture.

Wikileaks is a spy operation funded by wealthy liberals from around the world who wish to have deeper access to corporate and government secrets.

In the past, only a nation could afford such an operation, and only a could provide justification for the “righteous” acquisition and utilisation of such material.

Of course, Al Qaeda is also a stateless cultural unit with global tentacles, but it is simply a precursor, a rough attempt.

What is infinitely more interesting about wikileaks is that it is making a mockery of the laws of the state, and abusing the artifice that is the global legal system, while informing it’s cultural affinities just how entrenched, corrupted, duplicitous, and idiotic are the state laws and institutions we venerate. 

We now see clearly how Amazon and Paypal obey government orders.

We now see how our own laws can be used against us in trumped up cases.

We now see how our politicians justify assassination to cover up their secrets.

We see from those secrets how trivial, petty, and simple are those in upper echelons of power.   We clearly see that nation states do not operate on a more advanced level than squabbling cousins interested in each others dirty secrets and fighting for grandmother earths inheritance money.

Frankly, I have more trust and confidence in the people behind wikileaks than I do in my own governments.   At least they don’t pretend to know what is best for me, lie to my face, then compel me with brute force and threats to obey even when I don’t agree.

The end of the nation state won’t come easily.

First we will be confronted by the monster of a global state run by a corrupt oligarchy using their wealth and corporations to influence nation states and the people within them.

Then we will have only the corporations themselves as unique operators able to provide for their employees in the way if a nation state.

The tesco and apple village….

But there are principles of humanity which can bind deeper than simple basics of life, and those will form the genesis of the cultural units which coalesce human energy in the future.

Some will be racial expat communities, others will be religious, and yet others elk be bound by ideas, others will remain commercial, and in that new world, we will need a new framework for interacting.

Shamefully, it won’t be any less peaceful, but we will have more choice of where we belong.

And some of those communities will be truly horrible, like paedophile collectives,  but may be allowed to survive on the basis of live and let live….

Written by rexinfinite

December 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Supporting the underdog

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Now that android mobile operating system is number two globally and well on its way to number one, do I need to get a windows mobile or apple phone in support of the underdog? 

These devices are transforming how we interact with the world, who are we empowering with our consumer choices and can we trust them to really empower us back?

There are natural monopolies, windows pc,  google search, facebook social network, apple ipod, android smartphone?

I usually prefer the alternative but somehow I find myself using all the natural monopolies, have I changed or has the dominating value of the natural monopoly changed?

My only justification is I have gotten better at picking winners and I use companies I find early, or underdogs to show some independence.

Actually, my next computer will be ubuntu all the way.   It finally works after much teething, but I just can’t do apple for phones.   Maybe palm?

Written by rexinfinite

November 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Humans and Haemorrhoids: Can we co-exist?

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Are piles just about itching and soreness around your bottom and the occasional sharp pain up said ringer? I think not. We should all be working together with our piles to create a more harmonious world for both us and our bum-grapes.
Many believe that they are merely varicosities of the veins draining the territory of the inferior rectal arteries, which are branches of the internal pudendal artery, but I believe they are so much more than that.
Whether internal or external these beautiful and unique creations deserve more than Sclerotherapy or the even more barbaric ‘Rubber band ligation’
Far from being withered or destroyed, your anus decorations should be nurtured and revered. I impore you, take up the cause and save the Nobbys!!

Written by yeahbutnobut

July 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Posted in free speech

Synthetic cell

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Scientists have created synthetic life in the form of a new species of bacteria that operates entirely under the control of a man-made set of genetic instructions, originally stored on a computer. They synthesised the genome of a bacterial cell and used it to “boot up” the empty cell of another species of bacteria, which then replicated freely as if it were carrying its own set of genetic instructions instead of a set made in a laboratory.

“This is the first synthetic cell that’s been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesiser, starting with information in a computer,” Dr Venter said.

“This now provides a ‘proof of concept’. The applications of this enabling technology are enormous and one might argue this is a key step in the industrialisation of synthetic biology leading to a new era of biotechnology,” he added. Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said the study was an important step in the development of a new area of science. “Synthetic biology is a relatively new field and within the global research community there is some truly avant-garde science happening.”

Some ethicists, however, expressed concerns. “Venter is not merely copying life artificially … he is going towards the role of a god – creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally,” said Professor Julian Savulescu, an ethicist at the University of Oxford.

“What is really dangerous is these scientists’ ambitions for total control over nature, which many people describe as ‘playing God’. The claim of authorship of nature goes hand-in-hand with the claim to monopoly patent rights over it,” said David King of Human Genetics Alert.

Interesting discussion beneath full article in today’s Independent:

Are we getting closer to ‘God’?

Written by tree2one

May 21, 2010 at 9:04 am

Posted in free speech

Parallels between current Canadian and UK Political situation

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Why is it that no one in the press has draw the parallel between the current Canadian political situation and the new political situation in the UK.

The equivalent of the Labour party of Canada, the Liberals, ruled Canada for an extended period of time. They also ruled through a crisis triggered by a Moody’s possible downgrade.

Paul Martin was an acclaimed Treasurer who took over for Jean Cretien but was never elected as Prime Minister.

After scandals, the Liberals (Lab equivalent), were dropped, but the conservative party in Canada could only manage a minority election success.

The conservative party of Canada is only strong in the West, as the Tories are only strong in England.

Quebec has a strong nationalist party, the Bloc Quebecois which is equivalent the the SNP, although more successful.

Only the Liberals have a trans Canadian presence- ala Labour.

Canada has a strong “3rd” party which is always pushing for PR, the NDP- National Democratic Party- akin to the Liberal Democratic party in the UK.

Canada has a first past the post system which usually means a minority government doesn’t last.

But this one has, because none of the parties can gain any traction in any of the elections they have called.

The great thing is that their status as a minority government has meant the conservatives in Canada couldn’t be as brutal and right wing as they wanted to be, which Canadians are happy with, but they still had a conservative agenda, which Canadians wanted a bit of.

I’d argue the UK is in a similar position, wanting the toughness and cuts and market orientation of the Tories without letting them get too extreme and theoretical….

So a hung parliament can work (see Canada), and it’s not unprecedented, and in fact the overlap is incredibly similar.

Written by rexinfinite

May 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Posted in free speech

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