Thursday, April 17, 2014

The new NBN = the old Telstra deja vu

One picture of a redhead animee character does not a tweet make, so I will see what I can make of the coalition's rearrangement of the NBN. Although the ideology behind the new NBN stinks, the circumstances of the policy takeover are such that the changes in direction are mostly harmless. The reason that they are mostly harmless is that the unprofitable country areas were front-ended and fast tracked into the original NBN, such that the countrywide backbone and country capacity is basically there already and will not be dismantled. The NBN co. is now scrambling to do the exact opposite, by frontending and fast tracking fibre capacity to profitable city areas before competing telco's try to cherry-pick them through loopholes in the new NBN structure. The "last mile" is the most expensive bit of the conversion to Fibre, but at least now Fibre to the node is equivalent in accessibility in country areas as it is in city areas. Now the question is who gets to be connected to what and when? Once the cherrypickers have been headed off, the sensible thing would be to improve the most blackest spots in the quickest time without locking in to inferior technology unnecessarily.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


From when this flight went missing, it gradually dawned on me that this could be (an attempt of) the perfect crime. Perhaps somewhat inspired by the show "Lost", the plane could just vanish without a trace. In spite of modern technology  - it was entirely plausible that it may never be found. Luck and technology seemed to be failing the search team. Luck, clever detective work or a combination was desperately needed.

Just in time, perhaps on a best bet calculation, the black box detector was sent out. I refuse to believe it was entirely luck - I believe a tiger team using classified defence based technology, as well as satellite data calculated the most likely place scientifically. Luck finally changed and humanity's pride should be salvaged with the likely retrieval of black boxes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blogging Again

Not sure where to start. I kind of want to say how I think Australia's policy is going with the new government. I thought it strange and difficult for Australia to successfully negotiate a trade agreement with a country we just challenged successfully in the court of blubber ball hunting. Then with the renegade mainland provinces as a kind of double whammy. It gives me the impression of Asian countries competing to gain favour with Australia - to sell us stuff or to thank us for finding a plane or something. Tail wagging the dog again. The mercantilistic approach of the new government contrasting with the more self righteous lecturing style of the previous. 

I believe the new NBN plan is still worse than the old plan, but at least a lot of the country back haul is built, and the fact that the "inclusive" portion which would not be profitable for private network builders is also developed. The main problem is that the new plan is a mess and puts a lot of power to Telstra to suit itself. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

comets flying in formation in the main belt

Fragmented main belt comet is a tough one to explain given standard explanations of where comets come from and why they "fragment". Standard theory is that close encounters with the sun or planets cause excessive tidal forces which break comets apart. My theory is that the comets are already fragmented, and tidal forces from close encounters just separate the cometary "fragments" into new comets in their own right.

Get your meats at the strand

Strand Gourmet Meats

Would someone let me know when this is googleable?


Monday, November 04, 2013

Bushfires, Climate change and carbon tax
Interesting stats on people's views on the carbon tax, related to demography and voting intentions.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Carbon Tax vs emissions trading vs direct action

It is hard to discuss tax policy, or indeed anything without agreeing on premises.
There is an equivalence between a carbon tax and emissions trading with a fixed price. There is also an equivalence between a carbon tax with a variable price that is set to match the market price of emissions in an international emissions trading scheme, and being part of that emissions trading scheme.

Any scheme can be "gamed" in the sense that the European scheme allocated or grandfathered too many credits, to appease emitters and to bribe them to get in the scheme, and then allowed financial pressures of the debt crisis to further water down the scheme.

In Australia, the scheme seems scheduled to be gamed by lobbying from industrials for the tax to be scrapped. Either way, instead of acceptance, and long term plans to avoid the price efficiently by moving away from carbon intensive industries, plans are on hold on a wait and see with the hedge on what one can bet the future scheme to be. Hold back plans for renewables in the hope of a fat grant from the new "direct action" plan, rather than do what makes sense now, with the energy prices as they are with the carbon tax and assuming they will stay at the relative level.

Avoid the tax by switching to low carbon, or avoid the tax by switching the Government? I prefer the first. Grudging acceptance that the tax may effectively be there for a while. Even the thought that it will be gone soon changes the behaviour of industrials to bet on a low effective carbon price.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whatever You do, don't copy Germany

results of naive energy policy

We have already gone a dangerous step into German territory by having super long agreements on price-fixing of feed-in tarriffs for a large enough chunk of electricity to distort the market. Reading the linked article, the embarrassing thing is that Germany still has a large carbon footprint and a much higher carbon intensity than neighbouring France. A negative price for a commodity is not a sign of achievement, it is a sign of a dysfunctional market structure. There is a perverse incentive to keep fossil fuel powered stations going because of the market necessity of the utilities to not go broke keeping a reasonably steady power supply.

If you want to understand my seemingly contrarian views on feed-in tariffs, read the link in its entirity. For a functional market, wholesale cost of a commodity needs to asymptote to the marginal cost of production. Thus solar electricity needs to be set up that - sure, generate your electricity for your own use first, saving you the retail price, but your excess needs to go to the grid for free. If that doesn't pay back the cost of investment quick enough, subsidies should be to reduce the capital investment, not to artificially increase the return for eternity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Deal of the Century

Dear reader(s), My proposal for the generation of electricity at our commercial place of business involves selling the electricity excess to our daytime needs back to the grid. Our price is not the exorbitant feed-in prices that the evil Bligh government set at 44c/KWh I would refuse on principle to partake in any such outrageous out of market contract. Our price is not the 1:1 favoured by the ignorant majority - After all that would be selling the electricity back at around 21c/KWh which is about as much as the utility can get retail and doesn't allow for the costs of upgrading, maintaining etc. required on the grid, which far outweighs the marginal cost of generating a unit of electricity. Our price is not 8c/KWh which is the fallback wholesale cost estimated to be the cost of a utility purchasing electricity on the wholesale market. The excess electricity is fed back into the grid at ZERO cost to the utitilility. That's right Zip Zilch Gratis. It is unclear whether this is still a better deal for me than the utility, but certainly, if electricity prices do not drop from their current level, our solar plant will pay itself off within 3 years. Our use is virtually all daytime, and greater in summer and less when it is cloudy/rainy or dark. 30 KW ought to do it, plus a 2 KW off grid unit for emergencies. Regards

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Where I'm at with evolution and science

First of all science - To me the gold standard on science and scientific theories is "the prediction of new facts". Not to be confused with model fitting the data, this predicts what future data will be. If a climate model predicts global temperatures correctly in advance, then it is of a gold standard compared to if it would have predicted current temperatures correctly given past data.

The basis of modern technology is this ability to know that a design will work before going to the effort of building it. 

Modern evolutionary synthesis of itself does not predict new facts. It has been built from a consensus of scientists to explain how evolution works, but is not a basis in itself for predicting new facts. It does show that surviving species will be more adapted to an environment than species in which the environment causes them to become extinct or depleted. However, a teleological approach to genetic variation will lead to the same new facts, ie. species, than an approach based on random variation. Thus, the modern evolutionary synthesis has not reached the gold standard by me. This makes me very impatient with some types of evolutionary articles and theses.

Astrobiology - ie. the research and study of organics and biology in space allows us a unique opportunity to test competing theories on abiogenesis and evolution. The "strong" version of panspermia espoused by Wickramasinghe etc. will predict different future facts than geogenesis or other alternative theories on the origin and distribution of life. Whether a prediction about what a robotic spaceship's experiments will show in advance of that experiment being made will give credence to the narrative behind that prediction.

Predictions about what spacecraft would find looking at comets up close have been very wrong based on the narrative that they are pristine and unchanged from the birth of the solar system. The narrative won't change, however, as it is too entrenched. It is more convenient to fit unexpected facts into the same narrative than to think of a new narrative that would have predicted these facts. The narrative is very vague on details anyway. Virtually any new discovery can be fitted into it - It is, for the most part unfalsifiable. I can see why Wickramasinghe prefers to be on the fringe, and outside of the consensus. He is not disputing any of the data from say NASA scientists. For the most part, other scientists are not  disputing his data and rigour. It is a battle of narratives, and the prediction of future facts should be the gold standard in the battle of narratives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Has Alien Life Been Found in Earth's Atmosphere?

Unlike the bad astronomy blog

I'm going to go with yes. The main arguments against Wickramasinghe's panspermia related "science", "research" and "discoveries" are essentially that the detection of alien life in various papers submitted to the Journal of Cosmology are "false positives". This assumes "a priori" that alien life is very rare (almost certainly non-existent), and Earthly life is extremely flexible at getting anywhere it wants to, including into the Stratosphere at any time. Thus, the statistical calculations to work out a false positive depend on how prevalent alien life is in the first place. I don't think it is helpful for NASA to collect dust from the Stratosphere, and assume that if there is life that also exists on Earth, that it must have come from Earth. Don't bother - just go to planets, asteroids and comets and bring back samples. Otherwise you just can never rule out contamination.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I've Turned

Back in 07, I was all for Kevin. I was not disappointed in the Government that ensued, nor the policies it came up with. In 2010, I supported Labor primarily on the NBN policy. I was happy with most policy of the Gillard Government, and satisfied with all policy bar one particular policy decision regarding live export. 

The policy advantages of Labor that I have leant towards have been virtually neutralised. For one, the NBN is going to happen, and it is hard to believe that the LNP could make a mess of it now. 

Secondly, the economic cycle has shifted enough that conservative instincts are likely to be the most beneficial to the country.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DNA is a substrate storing an algorithm for a Turing machine

I'm not really sure why this is controversial and I'm not sure why it is routinely "denied" by biologists. It is not much of a stretch to go from saying that DNA is a blueprint for an organism's form, function and reproduction, to saying it is an algorithm encompassing all that and doing a whole lot more, which is what the whole point of "decoding" it is all about.

I think the issues around higher level functions, self modifying code, debugging, the creative process of new programs, etc. is deniable to the extent that these things are only recognisable from the point of view of the programmer being separate from the program, rather than one part of the software as they appear to be in DNA of living things. Just the fact that it "sounds" like it implies outside intelligence, is enough to make any naturalist worth their salt to deny any such analogy with a Turing machine, regardless of the evidence.

Given enough Caffeine, I could rule the world!

Caffeine is the key to therapeutic cloning.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2014 will be the year of the comet

I can't believe "my" luck. First there is the Rosetta mission, which is perfectly designed to test "my" admittedly ridicule-worthy theories. Then in October 2014 a nearly hyperbolic comet makes a perilously close encounter to Mars within the telescopic range of not one but several Mars robotic craft. See Comet 2013 A1 Siding Spring

I have more predictions (I won't call them prophecies) about this one. There will be multiple nuclei, they will be black like the observed periodic comets - They will separate due to tidal forces and result in new comets, some of which will be periodic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Six impossible things before breakfast

Occam's razor is involved in the following assertions being protected from the burden of proof:

1) Random mutations and natural selection is necessary and sufficient to explain the origin of species from other species.

2) Abiogenesis occurred on Earth

3) Abiogenesis requires the conditions of a Planet (We don't know how abiogenesis happens, we haven't demonstrated it happening, so how can we presume what it needs?)

4) Pre-life is more fragile than life

5) pre life has been extincted by life because life is superior ( we don't yet know what came before life and see 2 through 4 we have no gnosis of where that might be, so we cannot possibly know the results of the two coexisting)

6) pre life has an x need for mass flux/energy flux/reproduction.....  We do not know of the process, so we certainly cannot know quantitatively of the need for any particular feature of the process.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Definition of Marcomony

Marcomony is the replacement of parsimony in science, where the burden of proof would normally be shifted away from a solution deemed as "simpler", by simply *not* shifting the burden of proof.

Thus competing hypotheses given the same evidence are on essentially a level playing field. A multitude of makhO's disposable razors rather than Okham' s individual razor.

I have listed in my head every case I could think of where parsimony is used in science, and I cannot think of a single one (yet), where I believe parsimony has benefitted science.

I believe models *must* necessarily be simpler than reality - eg Newtonian mechanics doesn't take into account relativistic effects. It is not true that the simplest solution is the most likely to be true. The point of simpler models is to fit better into our (perhaps prejudiced) world view, and to be able to be explained to a lay or more naive public.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Show me the metabolism, marconomics, part 3

"Kauffman is chiefly concerned with reproduction as the defining feature of life. He makes only a superficial discussion of metabolism that does not consider its central thermodynamic requirements. But ultimately, metabolism is what is most important."

This reminded me of an "alien life" forum that was discussing, among other things, how we would recognise life as we don't know it. There was a consensus that at a minimum, reproduction AND metabolism would need to be observed. However, when we are talking about abiogenesis, the conundrum is more about how they have to simultaneously come about. Meaningful reproduction is impossible without metabolism to generate the work energy that reproduces something. Metabolism is pretty useless if the system that metabolises is a one off that cannot be reproduced faithfully and it's important features "locked away" for future use. The blueprint of "the system" doesn't need metabolism to exist, it needs metabolism to perform work and reproduce.

"Without petrol, the most splendidly engineered automobile will just sit there. Without a plausible metabolism, the most elegant net of autocatalytic reactions is an empty exercise in symbol manipulation."

Why can't a car be considered a living thing for the purpose of this exercise? For that matter why can't a primitive stone axe head? They perform work and can be reproduced. The system graph and energy transfers is what is important in defining what metabolism and reproduction is, not our experience of how extremely complex things that we have studied intimately perform these same system graph characteristics. Thus things like, "mass flux", "high energy flux", "vesicles", "Proto-metabolism" etc. are not particular requirements when talking about the "system" before life as we know it. The energy graph is important for when metabolism is occurring, and that the system is locked away with reproducible features when the energy/reactants source is depleted. Thus if an axe head lies in the ground undisturbed for millions of years, it would be easy to reproduce. If it was being constantly bombarded by energy flux, ie. people using it, it would just wear away until it was no longer useful. Thus, an extremely encapsulated system, with persistent, naturally reproducible features is more relevant than looking at the amount of energy flux a motorcar needs to keep going, and applying it to the needs of an axe head.

"(1) Through a long and complicated process of prebiotic development containing all the most interesting parts of the story of the origin of life.

(2) As a system created by someone or something.

I don’t intend this as an argument in favour of intelligent design [see definition 1], still less of Intelligent Design [see definition 2]. Ockham’s razor suggests we should stick with explanation (1) unless we should find some very compelling evidence for (2). At any rate, the essential requirements of the pre-biotic processes leading to life based on the chemistry we know are going to be the same as the requirements of pre-biotic processes leading to life based on different chemistry."

Ockham s razor is a lie perpetrated by scientists to make out they have gnosis when they have none. Anyway, have you considered dust cloud life? Or plasma physics life?

We don't know that life that could create chemical life is based on chemistry. We have no gnosis on the requirements of life that may have generated biochemical life through an evolutionary prebiotic process of design. All we have is human experience of design as an evolutionary process with intelligent input. The intelligence is not enough to design something complicated from scratch, and thus the sequence of precedents from transistor to computer may be accessible to historians a million years into the future. Equally, whether intelligently designed or not, we should have confidence in the possibility of precedent biological life "designs" for us to discover.

"What I am arguing is that both the ‘RNA world’ and the ‘Protein world’ are historically late phenomena, and that the critical events for the origin of life lie much deeper."

I absolutely agree with this.

"There is no reason to expect that living systems today preserve the same chemistry of the first living systems. "

I absolutely *disagree* with this. Evolution and evolutionary design processes build on what is known to work. No point changing from silicon to something else.