Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Our Parents, Our Genes, My Ass...
First, a little disclaimer. I haven't read Mr. James' book "They F*** You Up: how to survive family life" but I have listened to him speaking about his book and I feel that even before I read the book, I have issues with his claims.
Heard on Hack, a Triple J current affairs show: an interview with an author (Oliver James) who wrote that book, and he seemed to claim in the interview that family is the major (no, the only, judging from his words on air) thing which shapes how you develop and what you become. He claims studies of twins separated at birth which showed that they developed remarkably coincindent lives despite being raised in different family environments, are flawed and wrong, that genes are irrelevant.
His claim is that the coincidences are just that - coincidences - and that it's down to the fact that societies the world over are very similar that such coincidences happen, and that in fact any two people will be able to find a similar "remarkable" string of coincidences. To that, I say "bullshit." Sorry, but there are rules for claiming things like that mate and you are onto something, but it's not rigorous proof... Have you actually TESTED any groups of "any two" people to prove your claim?
He also claims that parents treat identical twins differently to differentiate them, and that non-identical (i.e. male/female) twins are treated more similarly than identical twins. He claims that primacy in the family (i.e. birth order) sets a lot of the character traits of a person, and to that I also say "bullshit." I mean, there are some roles that are thrust on a person by reason of primacy but I know as many families where the second or third or youngest child becomes the carer, or the firstborn the attention-seeker. It's what you are, and that comes only partly from how you're treated and much more from what you are to start with.
As to treating identical twins differently to differentiate them, or non-identical twins more identically to normalise them... I have met only a few sets of identical twins, and of all of those, both could finish each other's sentences, and in fact acted like twins. So even if the parents did treat them differently, it didn't alter their development all that much. I mean, maybe if they'd named one child Angel and the other one Shithead, then *maybe* that might make a difference - but so far Oliver is scoring very poorly... And those non-identical twins, despite the parents dressing them the same and feeding them the same - hey they still grew up as a brother and sister and the parents didn't manage to change the sex or gender of either child, and one still developed breasts and the other a deep voice and body hair... So yeah, "bullshit" is still the word...
Another great thing to claim on air was that a "rather neat study" proved that we are more likely to take a mate who is similar to our opposite gender parent, and he quotes studies on families where a child of black and white mixed marriages is more likely to do as predicted, even at the second marriage. That is, the sons of a family where Mum was black were more likely to marry a black woman, even second time around. He says that it's because we are treated differently by the parents and this breeds more sympathy in one relationship than the other, so we tend to be attracted to the person who is representative of our opposite sex, more attractive, parent. Again I have to say "bullshit" - only this time with even more emphasis.
How about emulating the parent you have most empathy with instead? I happen to know that while I, like any small boy, loved my mum very much, I also knew all along that she was an alcoholic and always felt more empathy for my father, who went through rather a lot for we children. By the criterion of this super social hacker then, I should therefore be married to another guy. But even if mum had been my number one soulmate ideal stereotype, I'd now be living with a small, brunette, slightly neurotic Germanic woman. In fact I live with a more buxom and fuller figured woman who is of english extraction. And my last partner before that was a buxom redhead, while the partner before that was a slightly-built blonde. So "bullshit" mate, "bullshit..."
Hell, just gay people in general put paid to THAT little claim, right there. If Oliver James' claims hold true then how come there are people who are gay? According to his theory that parenting (being so *terribly* unbalanced and abnormal compared to the "gool old days" of parenting, whatever they might be) is responsible for these predispositions, there should be a change in the population one way or the other, yet homosexuality has been around for a long long time...
Also, it has now been observed there's an actual brain difference in homosexual sheep, and reasons to believe that the same holds true for human brains as well. Apparently the difference is something the sheep are born with, i.e. it's in their genetic makeup. So is James in fact claiming that the way you bring up your kids will alter the makeup of their brains, and their genetic material too? Can modern sheep be "worse parents" than sheep a few hundred years ago, or can we just accept that homosexuality is a part of the normal spectrum of behaviours and some individuals can be born predisposed by genetic traits to be so? Again, I have to let out a resounding "BULLSHIT" to Mr James' claims.
I'd like to see Mr James' tests and results for claiming that "there are as many coincidences in non-twin people's lives as there are in twins' lives" or however he phrased that, not just his derision of the tests done on separated identical twins. Provide some substantiation of your claims.
I'd also like to see some controlled tests that prove that genetics does not predispose one to certain illnesses, defects, and personality traits. I'd also like to see the proof that parenting overcomes all those predispositions - that parents of a teenage child who has suicided due to having been born with a predisposition to depression can comfort themselves with the thought that they are entirely to blame, and if only they'd loved their child more and parented it more "properly" then somehow that genetic trait would have magically fixed itself.
Shame James, shame... There are equal portions of biology and sociology that go to make up what one is, and it borders on zealotism to claim otherwise...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 12:42 PMposted at 12:04 PM Ted
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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Elena kiddofspeed
I'm sitting looking at a picture from Chernobyl. A woman named Elena, who likes to ride her motorbike really fast, has a lot of them on her website/log.
There's a tree growing through the concrete floor inside a house, and it looks surreal. Elena caught the perfect shot, it's just so dark and brooding, and there's the window, and there, growing out of the concrete floor, straining towards the light, is a young tree. You need to go and take a look at Elena's pages.
That picture has a place in my desktop wallpapers now. So do about four other pictures she took, including a particularly thoughtprovoking one of miles and miles of military vehicles,all abandoned due to being radioactive.
Are we humans stupid or what?
Here's a quote that's shattering in what it doesn't say: this is Belorusian cemetery, in many villages scratches on that crosses the only chronicle that left. I couldn't find particulary this village on my map and on cemetery I saw that all people that lived in this village for last 200 years were Smirnovs. It must be sectarian village, one of the sect where brothers have been marrying sisters and they all used to have one last name. I put this village on my map as Smirnovka.
This village could well have falle right through the cracks of history - in fact, its name is already lost to us - and while it's not a good thing to be remembered for being so inbred that radiation probably couldn't affect the genome any worse, it's an even worse thing to go totally unremembered.
One lost village, how many others? How many people died in radiation fires or more slowly of rad sickness? How stupid do we humans have to be?
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, March 28, 2004 2:23 AMposted at 1:34 AM Ted
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Monday, March 22, 2004

Life's strange.
Folks at Twoday.net have been noting the stirrings of spring, and here I am sitting in my office in 30 degree C heat because our airconditioning is broken again, wishing it was as cool as the European spring...
No kidding - they are getting into shirtsleeves and breakfasting al trattoir, and thinking the weather is wonderful, and it's probably just reaching 18 degrees.
This building is more than just sick, it's deceased... And the aircon techs are useless.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:41 PM Ted
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Friday, March 19, 2004

Things not to say at seminars.
Went to the Microsoft Security Seminar here in Pedrth the other day. It was a truly scary thing, Perth has such a small population and here were so many IT types, sikhs geeks the chich and the ponytailed... I can't even estimate how many, a lot is all I can say.
The keynote dragged on and on. I mean that. Well past the point where bums had turned to painful leaden knots that one was sitting on, beyond the point that drinks were supposed to be being served, and somewhere just short of eternity, it dragged. And a lot of it sucked.
For example, you DO NOT BLAME YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR NOT PATCHING IN TIME. You write better code without effing great holes in it... This theme recurred, so I am feeling less pro-Microsoft than ever before. You just don't say things like that, that's plain rude and evasive of the real issues.
A lot of acronyms got served up in that speech along with the reminiscences (ah, at 47 years of age myself I feel so impressed that they can reach back - what, six years, eight?) and I wondered how either of those related to security. I'd heard all the same stories anyway, but told much better on the Reg or Onion...
Mentioned parents and how they, poor wee things, can't actually function in the digital world and have to be protected by us far more knowledgable geeks. Bullshit.
Dad was 78 when I bought him a PC, and, aside from having to explain the concept of spyware to him, he managed very well despite never even having used a typewriter before that. He was 81 when a massive stroke rendered him unable to use a PC or anything, and if it weren't for that he'd still be up there with the technology.
Keep your patronising for your parents, Microsoft. I have kids of 14 and 15 who are more clueless than most old folk about computers.
That said, I can appreciate that there are people (of ANY age) who will never know the difference between a trusted program and malware, and there are malware writers out there doing an excellent job of making their wares look like trustworthy software. Sticking a certificate on it ain't gonna make it trustworthy. Bright Spot
Jesper Johansen. At least he *knew* wtf he was talking about, despite breaking Rule One. An evangelist, sure, but a damn knowledgable one. And speaking of evangelism. Why did they set things up to emulate a church to such a large degree? But with 13 seats per row?
Anyway - Jesper made a comparison between a clueless user and a clueless auto owner. How come, he said, a person who drives a car with bald tyres in the snow and ice (at which point I yelled that we have a lot of that in Australia, sure) and they hit and kill someone, they are a criminal. On the other hand, someone who doesn't patch their PC and it gets used to DDOS someone, well they are a victim. How does that follow? jesper asked.
I thought about that, and how it breaks the don't blame the customer rule, and Geoff expressed it perfectly. "Toyota also don't sell cars with bald tyres!"
People, how can a company like Microsoft say "oops, we got it wrong, buy the latest version instead!" when anyone else has to issue a recall at their own expense? When all those SUV tyres started failing, were people asked to just go and BUY a version 2 set of tyres to replace the faulty version 1 tyres? Nuh-uh!
But aside from beating up their customers in so many ways, Microsoft still do know a thing or two about their software. Which is a lucky thing because no-one else does!
And the seminar was most useful, as it taught me a whole series of new approaches to things. I'm impressed at jesper's knowledge of the whole environment.
A lot of the matters that were security concerns, I can understand that Microsoft started off doing certain things a certain way to get around problems and now other manufacturers and the users rely on those things being there. But it's still called knowingly selling a car with bald tyres and leaky brakes...
At one point Jesper mentioned that he wanted to know of better ways to secure a PC. And it occurred to me - install Linux, switch the machine off, and entomb it in concrete - and you *might* just have a secure system, but even this extreme would only be a matter of time...
So I've left the seminar with even more doubts than before, but at least now I've got more tools to deal with thise doubts... %)
Categories - ::/:: posted at 10:16 AM Ted
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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I had to get dead tree spam to find this out?
Just got an IBM brochure spammed to my desk by the mailperson.
IBM has "Active Hard Drive Protection System" on some Thinkpads. This rapidly shuts down the HDD if it detects beyond a certain level of movement, which means less head crashes and less data loss.
So if you drop it, the heads park and the drive spins down, and hopefully, this will minimise damage to the HDD. Moreover, if you are in a bumpy vehicle, it will detect that motion too, and adjust itself to fit in.
Did I say this is brilliant? Well, I do think that. Well done IBM!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:47 PM Ted
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Friday, March 12, 2004

Claiming A Spot, Or More Spots. Or Less, Or Something...
I've been watching some of the fine folks at Twoday.net and, since I'm Austrian by birth and can still make myself understood in German, have put up a blog there too.
I am now an international jetsetting blogger... hehehehe
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Monday, March 15, 2004 7:15 AMposted at 11:39 PM Ted
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They *Can* Do This...
According to a friend of mine, his buddy works for a telco and they regularly remotely change the ringtone on his mobile for him... Don't take any dirty MMS pix on your phones now!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 2:58 PM Ted
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Only a Quarter eh?
News says that a quarter of Australians are living below the poverty line. Big deal I say (me with my salary which puts me firmly in the middle of that quarter) but hey this has always been the case.
Every few years some politician drags this out and tries to use it to belittle their opponent, and each time it's always the same kind of a story, the same accusatory tone, the same statistics dragged out and chewed over again.
Let's face it, firstly you can make ANY set of figures reflect a result like this, secondly you can make it appear that almost ANY country has this sort of wealth distribution, and lastly, I think it's one of the ideal figures, one that governments actually *aim* to achieve...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 2:55 PM Ted
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Thursday, March 11, 2004

They Can Do This?
A mobile phone theft has got me thinking. Go read the article, it's good. See if you pick what has me worried.
I know that mobile phones have an IMEI number that uniquely identifies it. I'm used to that idea, I run a network of computers that each have a network card with a globally unique MAC address, the machines have an IP address which can uniquely localise the machine and with the advent of IPV6 will enable a machine to be located precisely on a map. Each of the users on the network has a SID which is globally unique too.
I'm over the idea of privacy as far as being trackable by my IP addresses or mobile phone IMEI numbers, and over the idea of privacy on the Internet (hehehehe anyone who isn't, has already been ripped off) but there was one paragraph which rang the alarm bells...
To be extra safe, Mossad ordered the phone company to remotely erase the memory on Dagan's handset.
I'm hoping in a rather hopeless way that the Mossad use special "Maxwell Smart" mobile handsets which have a remote erase facility especially for this particular circumstance. But I doubt it. I'd say it's a standard issue Nokia or Sony-Ericcson.
Then I hoped in desultory fashion that a mobile phone system where the telco can erase a mobile phone's memory isn't also a mobile phone system where the telco can *read* your mobile phone's memory - all of it - when ordered to do so by your local "Mossad" - but again, the cynic in me can't quite sustain that hope either...
This has quite turned me against sending (or at least retaining) SMS messages, and I know I'll never send MMS messages or get a camera phone now that I know this...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Friday, March 12, 2004 10:11 AMposted at 10:05 PM Ted
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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

An odd thing happened while I walked my biowalker
Listening to music and playing with this excellent simulation of walking pace gave odd results. I'd been playing with the walker (a pattern of dots and lines simulating a human walk which you can modify by a number of factors) and listening to my favourite radio staion, bless ya Triple J, and suddenly a tune came on which featured the words 'sneaker sex' a lot of times...
Thing was, I'd just reset the walker to default (50/50 male/female, 50/50 light/heavy, etc) and then snapped the control over to 'happy'. And the walker kept time with the rhythm of the tune to within less than half a bar by the end of the tune.
And that started me thinking. The biowalker had been programmed by taking biometrics from a group of men and women of varying weights, and then modified by software to a variety of walks which were then rated by another group of people for what they estimated as the level of sadness, happiness, nervousness, relaxedness... And the tune on the radio had passed another kind of panel, the listening audience, to have become a reasonably popular tune on the chart. And they both came out to within milliseconds of one another, at a rate of - wait for it - 66-something cycles per second... (And I'd be prepared to bet that if I took a wider average of popular rhythms that are widely rated as happy tunes, I'd come to a number very damn close to 66.6)
Why that number crops up so often is a mystery. I don't for one minute believe in the number of any beastie but the Bible also says of it '... for it is the number of a man ...' in there somewhere. And it comes up often enough in modern life that we can theorise that if not exactly a portent of The Beginning Of The End, it could very well be a biological constant like Plancks' Constant or a Fibbonacci series or something similar, which our bodies are tuned.
The Lord doesn't like that for some reason. Actually, He's a bit vengeful on this topic:
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the MARK of his name.Revelation 14:9-11
Is it only me, or does the idea of a bunch of angels celebrating in glee (over the misery of the very people they're supposed to be the guardians of) make you think that there's something very amiss in the translation or something? Something is wrong in this picture, and certainly this isn't a very angelic way to behave. Nor like the God I always imagined... And they're talking about a 'mark of the number of the name of the beast' here, 666... There's really something very, VERY amiss here... Come right out and say it or don't, but this deliberate obfuscation of what exactly is meant, makes one wonder.
I accept that something very important happened just over 2000 years ago, it's so bad that at the epicentre they're still killing one another over it in suicide bombings, religious jihad, terror missions to the sound of Allahu akhbar, and a few hundred years ago we still weren't much better about whatever it was. Whatever happened back then, it was 'da bomb' of the day.
The famous mistranslation in the James Bible ('thou shalt not suffer a poisoner' being translated to 'thou shalt not suffer a witch to live') makes you wonder what they mistranslated the mark of the number of the name of that whatchamacallit into... So what is it with that number, and what is it with the indirect method by which it seems we have to become inflicted with it? Email me if you know, and I'll extend this article...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 2:45 AMposted at 2:32 AM Ted
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Neglect of a blog - a serious charge / servus eria!
I've been neglecting this blog. Guilty as charged, there are however, Your Honour, extenuating circumstances.
One - work has been extremely busy. I keep saying that but it really gets busier exponentially. I'm now at several meetings a week, trying to run around a dozen IT projects, half a dozen office projects, and look after three work experience students (okay okay - interns to our podean neighbours) and another sysadmin, and I help one of our more hands-on tech departments with hardware and handbuilt circuitry for their projects. You could say I'm busy...
Two - I can't get ADSL where we live and my other half and I will probably not be able to afford to move to anywhere more suitable anytime soon, so I've been trying to set up a wireless link between work and home, which is non-trivial because it's 12km in between. And (apparently) there may be several buildings and trees either in the way or close to in the way. I don't know yet, because the 24km round trip to change things at one end, then drive back, climb on the roof, haul a dish up there, and then test the link, is a bit wearing and I've been doing it as my time allows.
and thirdly, and most importantly - it's not good for people with emphysema to catch nasty throat and lung infections, you feel as if any moment you may not have another breath in you. And it kinda slows you down...
So - if I've negelcted my blog I think I can be excused...
And on top of that, I've been to a few sites such as Syndic-8 and Blogshares and myRSS and so forth publicising the blog, checking other blogs for inclusion, and finding a few gems to add to my already over-50-strong reading list. Two of them are extremely good reading, if you can read Austrian.
Try Eria's Sammelsurium and Foolosophy for some fine reading and a lot of enjoyment. For Eria, I have this: "Du bist ma schoen, I hab di gern! Keep up the great blogging and having fun."
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Thursday, March 11, 2004 11:39 PMposted at 2:26 AM Ted
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