Category Errors or the problem of information

Some of you have never had the pleasure of arguing with a creationist. And you have no idea the joy that comes from seeing their little squishy faces. One of the things that creationists talk about. A LOT is that “Information can’t come from nothing; you need an intelligence to “write” information…so explain DNA!…smartarse”

DNA is an amazing substance. It’s just a chemical, simple in many ways but what it does is so complicated that we still don’t really know exactly how it works. The popular consensus is that DNA carries information from our parents and ancestors but just saying this is a category error. Because the way that we use the word “information” and its associated connotations, suddenly “information” is being used in an eccentric way.  What we really mean is that it carries “Data”. Why am I being so pedantic? Well let’s look at it.

Information requires a sender, a receiver and a decoder. We humans are “intelligent receivers”, which means that we are capable of divining information from inert sources such as data sets. Data is raw, it’s not directed or intelligent, it requires no sender and it requires an intelligent receiver for interpretation.

A rock falling is not consciously giving out information, a boiling kettle is not intelligently sending a message, a blooming flower is not consciously trying to tell bee’s that it’s ready and yet as an intelligent receiver I can take all this information, gather facts and create assumptions. To an intelligent receiver the world is filled with useful and not very useful data.

Further muddying the water is the human tendency towards apophenia and paerodolia.  Seeing patterns where none exist and divining meaning from random data.

In 1967 the first signals from Pulsars were detected. Pulses of extremely loud broad spectrum bursts were separated by 1.33 seconds, originated from the same location on the sky, and kept to sidereal time. It was first thought that these were too regular to be anything but an indication of alien life. Finally they were signalling us. They even called the signal LGM-1 or Little Green Men. But of course it turned out that this was not a signal. We thought it might have been information..but it was only data. We now know that a Pulsar is a spinning pulsating star. Spewing out gigantic bursts of broad spectrum radiation from one side of the star. But for a moment that star looked like an intelligent signal. This is a form of paradolia. But the signal has no intrinsic intelligence behind it, it is we that brought meaning to it.

So to intelligent receivers we can divine data from different sources and we can also make mistakes.

And this is the mistake we make with DNA. It SEEMS intelligent and yet the evidence says that it’s not.

So we are special, we as intelligent receivers have the ability to make sense or data, but what of our poor dumb companions on this planet. Could intelligence have evolved? Without an intelligent receiver? The answer must be, yes.

Evolution to an unintelligent receiver presents no problem because natural selection overcomes its lack of intelligence. By giving living organisms the harsh lessons, those that are pre-disposed to dangerous action do not get to reproduce. Those that make mistakes do not get to reproduce. Over LONG periods of time the organism “learns” even if it does not have any cognisance of the useful information that has been imparted.

Creationists like to talk about information as if it has an intrinsic value and life of its own. The analogy is inevitably bought to computers who have to be programed. The trouble with this analogy is that computers only contain the representation of information, not the information itself. The words, not the meaning. What good is information if you cannot receive it? In effect a computer is a long delay line between a sender and a receiver just like a book is. But the map is not the territory. As amazing as they are, they have yet to evolve beyond sophisticated calculating and information retrieval systems. Computers cannot yet comprehend the information that is stored within them. I’m not going to get any deeper on this because this is close to where we run out of understanding. Some might ask “How do we know that humans comprehend the information we are receiving” and that’s an excellent question. One I am not equipped to answer.

Creationists believe that because we are calling DNA “information” then it must have been encoded from an intelligent source. “Information can’t come from nothing” they say and they are right. But data is just there. It requires no intelligence to have placed it anywhere, merely a set of forces that are in action in the universe to have something happen to observe or be acted upon. They believe that since a computer is programed, DNA must have been programed. But DNA is not information. It is a representation of learned and earned chemical interactions that have happened over some millennia.

There is an old joke.

Three people are arguing about what the world’s greatest invention is:

“It has to be vaccines” says Greg, “think of how many lives have been saved because of vaccines, diseases that would have run ramshod over populations have been nearly eradicated”

“Vaccines are good” says Dawn “but I think it has to be the Telephone, the telephone has been at the forefront of every communications advancement that we have made, because of it we are able to talk to people on the other side of the world, we are able to speak to astronauts on space stations because of this one great breakthrough”

“You’re both mad” says Jim, “Clearly the world’s best invention is the thermos”

Greg and Dawn look at him incredulously.

“The Thermos?” Says Dawn”

“The thermos” Says Jim defiantly “think about it, it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, I mean…how does it know?” Back when I heard this joke Jim was Irish.

Yes, DNA contains meaningful data but no more meaningful than the match is to paper. It creates complicated reactions. The only reason that we see DNA as a code is because we have invented codes. We have cyphers. We have bought meaning to DNA not the other way around.

We are, as far as we can tell or know right now. Unique. There is nothing like the human experience that we know of in the world. But that does not mean that we were created by an even bigger, more powerful version of ourselves.

Our wonderful government and its fantastic communication

Does the government have a media office? A media liaison? I’m sure they do, if they don’t then I volunteer for the position. Because there is no way I could do a worse job than whoever is doing it right now.

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Stop judging me!!!

Penalty rates are being take away from workers. In what some see as a first step towards the abolition of minimum wage. Don’t worry though there are good sound reasons to take away the weekend penalty rates and you can see them all listed cogently in this video that the government put out on Friday…..

Wait…no, no you can’t. Because no such video exists.

There may well be good reasons to reduce the number of penalty rates that Australian workers get. But because of the way this government functions we have to make them up ourselves. The idea that this will boost business may have merit, the idea that Australians value their Sunday less than they did 20 years ago might be something I would consider.  The idea that we live in a 24/7 economy is something I might even get behind. Except that since the government has a “You’ll suck it and you’ll like it” policy around its decisions it’s hard to see it as anything but more of its war on unions and rewarding business for just existing.

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And if anyone should be rewarded just for existing it should be giant eyed, Saurians.

Frankly there are good arguments on both sides of the penalty rate debate, that’s not what I’m really writing about, what I’m writing about is the arrogance of the government and the expectation that the people will “Just go along with our decisions…. because…we are the government”. What they didn’t learn from the last Prime Minister is that you can’t just make changes for no reason. You have to sell your ideas. And you can’t go blaming the media for everything, if you want your ideas to get across, state them simply and get the message across another way. Don’t get Piney or Barnaby to get on the 7:30 report and look useless.

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Or worse…..

Create media, create an argument for your reasoning.

Right now EVERYONE is doing a better job than you getting the message out that this is a bad idea. And I can list their arguments clearly. And I gotta say a lot of them are compelling. People who are on penalty rates usually need that money, it’s not like it will be affecting me or upper management. Will prices drop on products? Will service get better? Will there be more staff? Or will what happens classically just happen, “Oh look a windfall, I keep more profit and my staffing levels that I’ve been juggling for the last 3 years can remain the same, WHOOT!”. Who is it helping? Isn’t the idea to help the largest number of people? Well workers far outnumber businesses?? Also isn’t the fact that the rate does not get handed to restaurants meant that it is JUST SIMPLY a handout for big business?

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Seriously…they do not.

Some might say “Well it wasn’t the government, it was Fair Work who proposed it”, sure but the government doesn’t have to take it up and I’d say if they don’t understand the decision then they shouldn’t.

As its popularity dips yet again to lower and lower levels. It might be worth the government thinking about how it communicates its message. Governing is a privilege not a right, you are there to serve not to dictate and its only when they start thinking like that will the poll numbers change.

A nice hot cup of Milo.

On one had Milo Yiannopoulos is awesome. He’s awesome because very often I find myself having to hold back. And with him? Well I don’t have to. It’s a breath of fresh air. Here is someone with all the arrogance and ignorance in the world and I don’t feel that this business suit bred with a psychopath deserves any of my restraint. He is the far right’s wet dream (if that admitted to such things) here is a Gay man who openly says that Homosexuality is perverse. Someone who calls himself a “Provocateur”.

Bill Hicks, Richard Prior, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin. This is a list of provocateurs. They provoked thought. But he is using it in the original French meaning “one who provokes.” Or, an asshole.

There is nothing clever or rewarding about being Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a troll IRL. He says provocative things because he needs to think about people being disapproving to get hard later on.  He’s a stupid person’s idea of a smart person. If you ever watch him interviewed his “arguments” are just rhetoric. And his “bon mots” are the mewling of the emotionally stunted.

He lacks wit, substance, style (except for his hair and his suits, which are fabulous). His one instinct is to say the most outrageous and offensive thing he can. And lucky for him that is also his career. Except now he’s discovering that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

During a discussion about consent, Yiannopoulos recently referred to “coming of age” relationships which occur “in the homosexual world, particularly”:

“Those older men help those young boys to discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love,” he said.

He then specifically referred to relationships between 13-year-old boys and older men.

He also referred to abuse he himself experienced when he was a child, saying, “I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

On one hand my thoughts are “well what do you expect, he’s an asshole” but this is dismissive and it misses the point. What he has said show a deep lack of understanding about power imbalance and the psychological reasons for abuse. Which is strange because, he reports that he was abused. So what is this? Well it’s not really surprising to someone who has met with abuse victims. This is someone perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Much like people who were hit as children defending it. “It didn’t do me any harm” yes it did, it made you think that abuse was ok. So much as he wants to appear like he is strong, a loud defender of people’s rights to free speech, someone defending the right from the tyranny of the left. I find him a pitiable man. He is a child saying what he needs to say to get attention and like a child he still confuses attention with love.

Why people choose alternative medicine

My grandfather is dying. He has cancer and he has a heart condition. He’s had four heart attacks in the last two years and one stroke. He’s in his late 90’s so he’s already beaten the odds. And some would say “Well he’s had a good run”. And that’s a reasonable thing to say. If you’re not a member of his family who love him. On paper things are dire. In practice he is not doing great but he has all his marbles, wants to do things and wants people to tell him if there is a way he can get better. He wants to get out and do more. That might be an unattainable goal but it’s an important one for him. Yesterday he said to me “I need to go for a walk because I have to strengthen my legs”.

The problem is that trying to get appropriate care, care that takes into account his needs, his likes, dislikes and his abilities has been insanely difficult. There’s a wall we keep running into. And that is a “one size fits all” philosophy. “He has cancer? Heart issues? Late 90’s? Well then he needs very high doses of pain meds and to be in palliative care.” Except he doesn’t, not yet, that time will come but it’s not now. People seem to think that he’s been this way for a long time but it’s really only in the last 2 years that he has lost his independence. He isn’t in a lot of pain. And yet. Doctors keep prescribing him morphine. Not just small doses either but high doses of morphine sulfate. That’s a no fucking around pain killer. Except he’s not in pain so it just makes him dopey and upsets his stomach. And when we dialed it back to “pain management only on request” he got a LOT better. Doctors keep wanting to put him on anti-depressants. They especially want to do that when he is in care. Because for most patients it’s depressing but it’s also good for destroying the libido. Not that he in particular is a problem but some are so why not dose em up? He didn’t like them. And he wasn’t told that he was being prescribed them and neither were we, I only found out when I looked at his chart. He is hard of hearing, you have to yell for him to hear you and his replies are often left of center…but frankly that’s nothing new. And he is still sharp as a tack, but he has his own way of seeing things. Always has. So people don’t try.

Last week we went to his cardiologist. A guy who we keep getting told “is the best” a gerontologist and cardiologists, a rare mix. We went in, talked about my grandfather’s issues and fears, he took his pulse, tapped his back, didn’t even use a stethoscope. Asked how it was going, we said it seemed to be going ok. We asked about his medication and its side effects. He didn’t know, he didn’t know what medication he was on. We asked about prognosis and quality of life. Well…not great. Ok, what can we do? Nothing, ok how can we make him more comfortable? Don’t know? What about his ears? I’m not an ear expert. He literally said “well he’s old, what do you want?” Then we were ushered out. Total time 7mins. Total cost $250. If he’s the best the worst must just put their clients down as soon as they come in the door. I would love to say that’s a terrible one off. But it’s not. I continually have to ask “Why is he on this medication” and often the answer is “Well…that’s just what we do when they get to this age”. And then they get annoyed that I am questioning the system.

And that’s the issue for me. If this were a free service, then fine. But it’s not. This guy, apart from his moral responsibility has a responsibility as a service because we are paying him. Rather a lot.

“Sure…this is all very sad and frustrating…But what the hell does this all have to do with alternative medicine?” I hear you ask.

This is in sharp contrast to an experience I had a month or so ago. When in desperation over my feet I went to an acupuncturist. Now I will be clear, I do not believe that it helped my feet but the guy is an old acquaintance and the experience couldn’t have been in sharper contrast to what my grandfather experienced.

I went in, and we had a nice chat. Simon (for that’s his name) couldn’t have been nicer and I suspect that even if we weren’t old acquaintances it would have been the same. Simon had all the time in the world for me. He wanted to know everything, why was I here, any issues? difficulties etc? I could not imagine him saying to my grandfather “Well your old, what do you want?” he was professional and caring. He talked about the realities of his practice and how there probably was an element of placebo to it.

He made sure I was comfortable, that I knew what was going to happen that I felt looked after. Every single step was explained and nothing was left out. And I’ll be honest I left feeling really good. That feeling didn’t last, but it was there and I felt like I hadn’t wasted my money. In fact, I intend to go back to see if it really can work I just haven’t had time. Now I’m not saying Simon is a quack, on the other hand I’m not saying acupuncture is a cure all that is real. What I am saying is that the quality of service, regardless of the outcome is sharply contrasted to what we get with traditional medicine. So of course people vacillate towards it. Frankly the heart specialist guy did nothing, so it was an insulting waste of time and money for someone to basically tell us to get used to the idea that he was going to die. In that instance I would prefer to have someone talk to my grandfather and make him feel good rather that what happened. And it’s not like these places he’s going to are cheap, cut rate doctors or dodgy nursing homes. My family isn’t poor; these are supposed to be “The best” it makes me terrified for those that don’t get “The best”.

I know I’m biased. I am, and I can’t help but be. But seriously if I am paying money for a service “Well he’s old” isn’t a good enough excuse for it being shit. My money isn’t old. It’s doing fine and your bloody happy to be taking it off me. Do your damn job. I can’t think of another service that I pay for where they still get paid if they don’t do anything and they insult you. I think part of the problem is that people don’t know what they are being paid for. Triage? Yep that do that very well, if there’s an emergency they are good. Medication? Well they can provide that by the truckload. Actual care? Nope not our business.

Except it is. How do I know? Well I spent most of last year writing a Cert IV in Aged Care. I know what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to know and what you should be doing for a client. The question I get asked the most is “Oh are you a doctor?”. No. I just want decent service for someone who has earned decent service.  Ok so maybe there isn’t anything that can be done to increase his longevity and maybe it’s silly to try. Fine. But I refuse to believe that you can’t get simple things like “He likes to have a shave once a day” right. I refuse to believe that he needs ALL this medication. I refuse to believe that he can’t be more comfortable.

So now he’s home and we have hired a home care provider and he seems to be doing a lot better. Because we can monitor everything and this provider only has one client. And obviously they provide a tailored service specifically for him. It’s not perfect because we can’t afford to have someone over all the time and at night. Where either I or my mother take shifts when we can. But it’s better than it was.

And yes now we vet medication. I did a medication audit with his new doctor and we were able to take him off a surprising number of medications. And adjust the dosing as required. (some went up some went down).

So for now things are good. But that’s because we can afford for them to be good.

And the little teeth that gnash at me

I work about 500 meters from an abortion Clinic. This is not something I would have known if it weren’t for the daily presence of protesters. Who abiding by the law cannot actually go near the abortion clinic and so they tend to congregate around our building.  Unless it’s really hot. I guess their conviction is strongly linked to convection because if it gets above 30 degrees they go home.

I have a complicated view about abortion which I’m not going to go into right now however there are some things that bother me about these protesters, perhaps they are not the same things that might bother you.

  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are protesting abortion. I am bothered by the fact that they shove pictures of unborn foetuses in the faces of people who are going through what is already a traumatic time. Because that’s helpful. I also can’t help but feel that it’s not done to assist the unborn foetuses themselves, but to make the protesters feel important. I can’t quantify this can I might be wrong but I feel that’s what’s going on.
  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are Christians I am bothered by the fact that they are almost without exception old, white, men.*
  • I am not bothered by the fact that the hold the idea that abortion is wrong with such conviction. I am bothered by the fact that they are not (as far as I know) spending the same time at foster homes, helping and assisting children who are alive and desperately need people to just pay them attention. And when you politely enquire if they do in fact do this they don’t answer you they just start to sing hymns at you. ** Nor do they say to women “Tell you what, don’t worry about that child that you want to terminate, I’ll adopt it
  • It doesn’t bother me that they want to help children but it does bother me that they don’t ever seem to do so. And it really seems more about “Keep in line with my religion” rather than “These children deserve a chance”. This doesn’t seem to be about the health and wellbeing of children, it seems to be that they need their beliefs reflected back at them at all times. “Don’t do anything I don’t agree with!” maybe if they worked harder at making the world a better place for children who are unwanted then I’d feel better about them.
  • I’m bothered by the fact that they don’t seem to have any love in them. What they seem to have is judgement and hate.
  • This isn’t anti-religion because there are religions people who freely give their time and energy to help children in need and they walk the walk and talk the talk. Although they are rarely found protesting outside abortion clinics because they are busy actually helping people.

A few days ago because it wasn’t as hot as it is now they had a very big sign with them. A sign that reads “Pregnancy Help 1300 737 732 – Free”

This of course is a pregnancy help line set up by anti-abortionists. http://www.pregnancycounselling.com.au/

Which I wouldn’t have a problem with either, if it were advertised as such…but check out the website. Can you spot the bit where they say “We are a service set up by anti-abortion campaigners and have a definitive bias, which is something you should be aware of before you enter counseling with us” I’ll give you a clue. It doesn’t. Not anywhere.

They claim that they are there to help if you are expecting but particularly if you – for whatever reason want an abortion.

It was tempting to call them up and say I was pregnant but I don’t want to turn this into a farce.

Here’s the deal. Modern counseling techniques basically say that you need to listen to the client, you are not to inject yourself into the system in anyway, and you are to be a blanch-tableau for the client to bounce ideas off the idea is that the client has the tools that they need to fix themselves, but they just need to externalise them. Now I am not necessarily in full agreement with that way of doing things but I do strongly believe that if you walk into a counseling session with a firm, set agenda as opposed to just advice or detached interest then the session is going to be useless. Shedding your bias is something that psychologist often struggle with and is not easy to do. Let’s say for instance I was counseling someone who needed to have an abortion for medical reasons, I may personally be against abortion but since I don’t have an agenda that is coded by the people I work for and that I am there to push. I would be free to council the client towards their interest rather than my bias. Now it’s possible that this service would do the same thing, but less likely that’s for sure.

They say:

“At any time of the day or night, from anywhere in Australia, you will be able to speak to a compassionate, non-judgemental counselor who understands your feelings and concerns.”

Except it’s also vitally important that they talk you out of getting an abortion, right? Because that’s why their organisation was started. That’s what they do.  It would be like a Shark advice hotline for Seals: Should you go for a swim today? Let one of our betoothed operators give you unbiased advice.

Not declaring your bias is dishonest and frankly fraudulent. And I am deeply suspicious.

*I’m not saying that you can’t hold an opinion on a topic that you have no personal stake or experience with. Of course you can. I feel that it is however telling that I have never seen a birthing age woman of any race hanging out with these guys supporting their point of view. It’s not a magic bullet but it doesn’t help their case.

**Of course it’s trite of me to pick and choose the causes which these men feel strongly about, but once again it’s part of a rich tapestry that makes them look very bad.

An absolutely not spoiler free review of Rogue one.

So what did I think?

I loved it. I really did.

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Yes, I like it better than The Force Awakens. It neither has the expectation surrounding that film nor does it have the oppressive weight of being the first new movie so it has a much easier task, none-the-less I still liked it more. I loved the action, I loved the characters, I loved the setup. I loved the nods to the original trilogy. Basically, there were very few things I didn’t like. And so because I can’t just like something let’s go over them:

  1. The Score: As per usual it’s all about sound for me and this score didn’t cut it, it was not even trying to be its own thing, it was basically like someone said “I need royalty free Star Wars music, can someone write cues that are LIKE the original score but not as good?”. Mind you this is not just Rogue One’s problem, most new scores for films in the last 10 years are crap. But it’s still disappointing. Especially when you are reminded of a much better score every few minutes. “Hey, that’s almost John Williams!”
  2. The sound effects: Interestingly while the visuals are this movies great strength, the sound lets it down terribly. A lack of imagination and fresh noise makes the audio experience just so-so.
  3. Grand Moff Tarkins voice: He looked ..um…fine?, but the voice was off. Peter Cushing talked like he was giving the world a lesson in perfect English diction, whereas the person providing the voice here was just ok. He acted well enough but for the effort they put in with the visuals they should have matched that with the sound.
  4. The Pilot: This was the one character that felt thin and insubstantial to me. I had no idea really what he was doing or why he was doing it. And I put that down to the acting. Did not like.
  5. The ridiculous way the Empire sends messages: “I need this sent out stat, so you’ll have to go get it, go to the top of the tower, walk out onto a gantry, align the dish, come back insert the tape into the outdoor reader, request the shield be dropped and sent the signal. HURRY!”
  6. Uncanny valley Leia: Just didn’t do it for me.

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Alright, so what did I like?

 

  1. Everything else! To be honest I’m being really picky here. These things didn’t break the movie for me. Although I was surprised that CG Tarkin kept showing up. But seriously. This is a great movie. Ok fine here’s some great things about this movie.
  2. The production design and art work was perfect. It felt so Star Wars. The sense or scale was right. The shot of the dish moving into place on the Death Star was amazing.
  3. The last 10 minutes. WERE AMAZING.
  4. K-2so.
  5. Darth Vader kicking ass. (not to mention him in a Bacta tank)
  6. Seriously everything else. I’ll be seeing this again.
  7. Y-wings!!! With Ion torpedos!! That’s the way you do it.
  8. Bail Organa. Yeah baby.

 

Mr Potato

Hate filled potato Peter Dutton has “slammed” the PC world (That’s political correctness not the computer magazine) that we live in decrying the lack of religious indoctrination that children get these days. “We live in a Christian society” he said:

  • ignoring the multicultural secular society that was lying in wait, just outside the Radio-Studio
  • lambasting those with beliefs other than him
  • Even though he has sworn to serve and represent those people
  • As well as the fact that Australia has no official state religion
  • And the Australian Constitution protects freedom of religion.

Mr Dutton linked the issue to the “Teachers for Refugees” campaign in which many teachers in NSW and Victoria wore t-shirts protesting Australia’s offshore detention camps for asylum seekers.

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“If they want to conduct these sort of campaigns, do it online or do it in your spare time. Don’t bring these sort of views into the minds of young kids,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. Without Irony.

Now personally I don’t really care if children sing Christmas Carols, I do care that Peter Dutton was essentially saying:

“Teachers shouldn’t indoctrinate children, unless I happen to agree with what they are indoctrinating them into”

So teachers should not wear t-shirts or oppose government policy, but they should respect and teach the religion I subscribe to. This is not a cry for freedom of speech nor freedom of religion. This yet another “I support the speech I agree with and try to quash the speech I don’t”.

Yet it was this comment from Dutts that was the most telling.

“Because the vast majority of Australian people want to hear Christmas carols. They want their kids to be brought up in a normal environment and they don’t want to be lectured to by do-gooders who frankly don’t practise what they preach in any case.”

“Normal being what I define as normal. Because I have no awareness or tolerance of a world where my every thought and action isn’t mirrored back to me by everyone I see and such a world would make me unbootable and I would die.” He said later…..presumably.

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The other problem with his assertion is that it’s only true if you look at the gross stats. In 2011 (the last time a census was done properly) People who self-identified as “Christians” were at 61% of the peoples. However this lumps all Christian denominations in together Anglicans, Catholics, make up the majority but if you separate them then religion breaks down like this:

Catholics: 25.3%

Atheists/agnostics: 22%

Anglicans: 17%

Everyone else.

Why would you break them down? Well it’s not like a Catholic would happily just exchange services or decide to join the Anglicans. They do in-fact believe different things. In some ways they are as different as Islam and Judaism. But since they both celebrate Christmas they briefly and artificially join forces and are lumped together as “Christians” a group that also includes denominations as disparate as Jehovah’s Whiteness, Mormons and the Uniting Church. And if you think they all believe “essentially” the same thing you have no idea about those religions.

I don’t know who said it but someone once said “I wish all wars were conducted like the war on Christmas, no killing, no rape, no slavery, no guns just wishing people the best in words they don’t quite agree with and then we get to all eat turkey and pudding anyway. Fuck that sounds amazing”

I will wish people a happy holidays, a merry Christmas or a shiny Festivus as appropriate. I am neither so lazy nor so brain dead that I only have a single response for any situation. I am not Christian but I regognise that for some Christians this is an important time of year, for others it’s a cruel reminder that Paganism still has a foot hold on this world and for yet others they despair at the weird co-opting of a Coca-cola brand symbol, a mid-winder festival and a celebration of consumerism. And that’s all fine. I will celebrate this season in my own way, commemorating the birth of Sir Issac Newton and remembering what a strange fish that guy was. I mean gravity sure, but the guy was completely out to lunch in almost every other way. If you’ve never read up about him, you should. It’s fascinating. I will however support that in a State school there should be a separation of Church and state, although Children singing? Does anyone really want to hear that? Just stamp that out altogether I say.

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Also, I remember when we thought “Everything will be better when they get rid of…..Abbot…etc” The bad news is that the Liberal government have an inexhaustible supply of horrible, horrible people so nothing positive will happen whilst they are in power. Because somehow offshore detention and all that entails is totally fine, but not singing a Christmas carol is not. This man represents no Christians that I know.

Get fucked Dutts.

5 people who trade on their brother’s success

 

Leon Hendirx

The very LEAST you can say about Jimi Hendrix is that he was the most admired, emulated and loved guitarists/sonic innovator of the 1960’s. The Beatles were envious of him. Eric Clapton was envious of him. Bob Dylan heard his version of “All along the Watchtower” and decided that that is the way he should have done it. When I was learning Guitar his shadow stood long 25 years after he had died.

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Leon Hendrix. Is Jimi Hendrix’s younger brother. After years of spending time in prison on mostly drug charges he turned his life around and became and expert draughtsman at Boeing. Good gig, great end of story right? Except then he decided that this playing guitar thing looked easy. So he thought he’d give it a go. So now he goes around singing and playing guitar. Guess whose songs he mostly plays? I’ll give you a clue he’s not a Santana fan. Leon “Plays” Hendrix except he doesn’t, he plays a few chords while a chubby white guy plays Hendrix and he “sings” over the results. Now look, maybe Leon loves the blues but man it sure looks like someone who is totally indifferent to the blues crooning along to a band that happens to be behind him.

To give him his due, He sure sounds like he could draught the hell out of an aeroplane.

Leon has produced two albums in 2000’s althought it’s probably galling that his brother was more prolific during the same period producing four albums and not letting a little thing like death slow him down. On his website, leonhendrix.com, they say while his CD “Keeper of the flame” was being recorded at Seattle’s Self Adhesive Records, “a purple glow was reported to been seen”. Make of that what you will.

Neil Connery

You may not know nor care that Sean Connery has a younger half-brother. But that’s not the attitude that the Italians had in the late 60’s. Such had been the appeal of Sean in the bond films they were desperate to make their own version of them. So they tried to get Sean Connery who of course being under contract with the Broccoli brothers said he couldn’t do. I like to think that he said “You could try my non-actor younger brother, he’s not up to much” As a joke… but they did. Then they faced a quandary….how to infer to audiences that they had an actual Connery in their obvious Bond rip-off and not just some guy who looked and sounded nothing like Sean?

Well in Italy it was known as “Operation younger brother” but in the rest of the world it was known as “O.K. Connery”. It must have been something of a shock to the film makers that Neil has an Irish accent not a Scottish accent… So they had to dub him. One of the few times in an Italian movie that the UK actor was dubbed…into English. It must have been something of a shock to Neil moving from being a plasterer to the fast paced sexually charged world of Italian cinema. But credit too him, you can barely tell watching the film. He still acts every scene very much like a plasterer trying to get the hang of these “Martinis”.

The film was a middling success, helped by the inclusion of a lot of talent that had worked on actual bond films and hindered by a charisma free Bond . So Neil went back to Plastering but an injury in 1983 forced him to quit. Whereupon he decided to take up acting again….you have been warned.

Joe Estevez

As Charlie Sheen is to Emilio Estevez so to Martin Sheen is to Joe Estevez…..

Well that might be a little bit disingenuous. Martin Sheen is arguably one of the great American actors of his generation. Whereas Joe is arguably…not even a good stand-in for his brother. As the older brother Martin got into acting first. Getting his first gigs in the early 60’s. Joe didn’t get into the game till the early 70’s by which time his brother was already a star. He did stand in for his brother in Apocalypse Now….in shots where he is seen from behind going down a river…..whilst Martin was recovering from a heart attack that had been bought on by Francis Ford Copella. Other career highlights include “Soul taker” and “Werewolf” no, not the one you’ve seen. Unless you’re an MST3K fan.

Also “Max Hell Frog Warrior” and “Untitled Horror Comedy” yes…seriously. Whilst he looks less like his brother these days and more like his Character from Soul Taker he does sound like him. Something he is now using to his advantage in VO for National Rifle Association commercials. Because when you can’t get President Bartlett you get the man who starred in “Untitled horror comedy”

Mike McGear

You might not have heard of Mike McGear or at least you don’t know that you know who he is. Mike was the lead singer and main songwriter of The Scaffold a band who had a few hits in the late 60’s Their biggest hits were “Lilly the Pink” which was a song that I had to sing in school and “Thank you very much” a song that thanks no-one in particular for a list of random things  with no explanation given for this sudden rush of gratitude.

Like every musician in London on the 1960’s Mike was inspired by the Beatles, when the Beatles were at their peak Mike was an apprentice hairdresser but hearing them on the radio day to day made him think that he could do that, it didn’t hurt that Paul McCartney was his older brother so really how hard can it be? Like the older McCartney he went solo from the early 70’s and very much like him he had a dubious solo career right up till the 1980’s. Whereupon he retired from the music business. Unlike McCartney Mcgear actually recorded with Hendrix. The real one, not Leon.

McCartney did an album with McGear in 1974 called “McGear” where McCartney produced and co-wrote the songs and had Wings do the backing for which made it…well listenable at least in comparison to The Scaffold.

Wait… your saying….McCartney did Silly love songs…how bad can this be?!?!??

This bad.

 

Ron Gallagher

There’s trading on your brothers act/success/fame and then there’s simply stealing the act.

You might have heard of Leo Gallagher, or you might just know him as the guy who hits a watermelon with a mallet as the finale of his act…and then wondered why that is considered “Comedy”. As with everything the art is in the setup. As in if you go to one of his shows you will probably feel like you have been setup.

None-the less there’s no denying that people seem to want to see a guy who’s famous for destroying fruit. He’s a success, if only professionally. In the 80’s his brother Ron (who looks exactly the same as him) wasn’t doing so well, so badly in-fact that he asked his brother if he would mind if he could use his act. Leo said “That’s fine, so long as you make it clear that your “A” Gallagher not “The” Gallagher. A distinction that was apparently lost on audiences who evidently A: Didn’t know that Leo even had a brother B: Didn’t care who was smashing fruit for them so long as he had long hair and was yelling something at them while it happened.

So people turned out in droves to see the “New” Gallagher, billed as “Gallagher too” or sometimes “Gallagher Two” or sometimes just “Gallagher” which is what got Ron sued by Leo in the early 2000’s. There was an outcome but do you care? The fact remains that your chances of seeing someone hit a watermelon with a large mallet is double what it was in the late 70’s. So a win for us all.

 

I guess…now is as good a time as any to start bloging again.

Disenfranchised white voters have spoken they want their privilege back. They don’t want to share just in case being nice to others is a zero sum game. Anything that is not like them? They don’t want it. They want to live in a loud echo-chamber where their every thought is amplified. Even if it doesn’t really affect them. They are done. They want imperialism back in and all the little brown people out of their country.

Impervious to facts and they may have been but let’s be brutally honest with ourselves here…….

Whilst all this is true that’s not the only reason Trump got in. People are sick to fucking death of politicians who just sit back and protect the interests of their own pockets. They were desperate for someone who wasn’t a politician and…well…this is what we got. And on one level the people who voted against Clinton were right. A vote for Clinton would have been a vote for a dynasty that already has a tarnished history and much as I would have liked to have seen a female president and there probably was an element of sexism in not voting for her. There were plenty of reasons why people of good conscience would not have voted for Hillary, reasons that had nothing to do with her gender. She was not the good option. She was merely the lesser of two evils. Sadly that is thin comfort now we are stuck with the greater of two evils.

But there is something that you might need to keep in mind. Those of us that want the best for our fellow man? Those of us that want compassion to rule the day rather than hate? Those of us that want to see less war, less suffering, more love?

We have already won.

Yes, it’s not all good. But it’s the best it’s ever been. Out of all of human history, THIS is as good as it has ever been. Look I’m an optimist. I know it. And an idealist. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am right. Yes, there are setbacks. No, it’s not perfect and the some of the systems that we have put in place are failing. But if we zoom out. We have won already.

Some people who haven’t left their house since 1955 like Cori Bernardi (an Australian right wing nutjob) are having an extinction burst. You think the dinosaurs went quietly? But overwhelmingly we have already won. 75% of Australians want Gay marriage legal. And that is that 75% (an overwhelming majority considering how divided we are on politics) think that homosexuals should be on equal legal and moral standing as heterosexuals. Seriously. It’s a massive social change and something most of us can agree on.

So we have already won.

If we zoom out, even more, we see that this is the best time to be alive, people are living longer, more fulfilled lives, there is less war going on right now than there has ever been, less murder, less crime than since we started recording such things. We have more of everything good and less of everything bad and IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER. Does that mean that we should be complacent? Of course not and those that cry we can do better are right. In every way. But it’s also good to take a moment to recognise that whenever someone says something awful, yes people nod their heads but others SHOUT THEM DOWN. Every time Trump opens his mouth, yes people will agree with him but others will take issue with what he says, or more likely treat him as a national embarrassment, as a joke or ignore him and that is the worst thing that you can do to a narcissist.

You also have to remember that if you do not hear something that upsets you every day then you are not living in a free society. A free society does not mean that we all agree. A free society means that we are all free to dissent and state the reasons for our dissent in clear loud voices. Yes some of us have been silenced but our voices are being heard again. So we have already won.

We can vote in free elections where parties who have no idea what they are doing can garner votes.

Maybe it’s not enough just to say “Don’t do this” anymore. Maybe we need to be telling people why. In some ways, this could well be a good thing. Trump allows us to have conversations that perhaps we should have been having all along.

Change takes time. Social change is a large lumbering beast that never quite goes exactly where you want it to, and always takes longer than you would like. But history shows us that it does get there in the end. Hopefully, we will make it before this civilisation falls.

David Ike

Ah David Icke.

It’s impossible to really talk about David Ike on a crazy by crazy basis. The fact is that he is so nuts, so full of insane ideas and beliefs that it’s difficult to really truly wrap your head around what he is actually saying. His talks which are attended by adoring fans of his particular brand of “perspective” are done in 6 hours + stints. He once did a 13 hour lecture. I believe that only Castro ever went for longer. The audience isn’t so much persuaded as worn down.

In his books. Well his books. Oh dear.

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I read this book so you don’t have to

For the uninitiated let’s take a quick history of the Ike.

David Ike started off life as a footballer. Then after he did a knee he became a football commentator which somehow evolved into a job as a journalist. Which then evolved into being a minor celebrity. He did a breakfast show! Then afterwards he had what he and others call his Turquoise period. Where he wore nothing but turquoise after he lost his gig as a presenter he was basically written off as a middle class English eccentric. This was 1991. After a failed run in politics. He went on Terry Wogan’s show (wearing a turquoise parachute material jacket). This was a minor celebrity appearing on a daytime talk show to talk about what had been happening since his TV career had ended. But it didn’t go as planned. First Ike claimed that the world was going to end, then he claimed he was Jesus.

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So….this is going well isn’t it?

And that’s about as straight forward as it gets with poor David.

Maybe you enjoyed the movie “The Matrix” maybe you’re a fan. I know that I am. But no matter how much you or I enjoyed the Matrix. David Ike liked it more. He must have he has based at least 3 of his books on it. I have never yet met anyone who can cogently boil down Ikes ideas into a palatable or even understandable set of concepts.

So lets try shall we?

We live in a simulation. An intrinsic part of the simulation is the Law of attraction (just like the secret!) There are reptilians (from the Draco constellation Natch) and Aliens and the Annanuki. We the sheeple, live in a state of unawareness of how the world is manipulated by groups who are reptiles and also computer programs who have no free will of their own. These people wear red dresses and are people like Tony Blair, George Bush (whatever one you like) and The Queen who is so totally a lizard it’s not funny. Some of the Lizzard people are from another dimension. Which somehow can interact with this simulation. Remember we are in a simulation. Just like the matrix. The Earth and collective human mind are manipulated from the Moon, a spacecraft and inter-dimensional portal controlled by the reptilians. The Moon Matrix is a broadcast from that spacecraft to the human body–computer, specifically to the left hemisphere of the brain, which gives us our sense of reality: “We are living in a dreamworld within a dreamworld—a Matrix within the virtual-reality universe—and it is being broadcast from the Moon.” Unless people force themselves to become fully conscious, their minds are the Moon’s mind. So we are not real. The earth and moon is not real but the world we see in this unreal universe is broadcast into our mind from the moon…and Saturn. Which is also a hollow spaceship set up by lizard people. Also 9/11 was an inside job. Vaccinations are bad, fluoride melts your pituitary gland which you need to see the lizard people, and Homeopathy works because water not only has a memory. BUT A CONCIONESS. Despite all these twists and turns and wheels within wheels, his busy talking schedule and updating his blog like three times a day. Ike still finds time to be anti-Semitic. Endorsing “The protocols of the elders of Zion” in one of this books and denying the holocaust in another.

 

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I feel like an idiot typing all that.

Stephen Fry dislikes being called a rationalist. He likes being called an empiricist because one can believe a lot of strange things and still be rational. Rationality does not speak to evidence. Stephen likes evidence for things. David seems to be the exact opposite of Stephen Fry, he probably also dislikes being called a rationalist but it would take him 5 hours to tell you why.

There is a thing in debating circles called a “Gish Gallop” named after Duane Gish a man who when arguing would spout so much that was untenable, strange or debatable that people on the opposing side were invariably at a loss as to what to tackle first. So it often seems as though he won because people just gave up. I propose that we change the name of the Gish Gallop to the Ike itinerary. There is so much to get through EVEN just in my synopsis. That one struggles to know where to being. It’s like someone has been constantly vomiting crazy since 1989 and you have only just been handed a mop.

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I know, right?!

Like all purveyors of this kind of thing Ike claims “Special knowledge” and like all purveyors of this kind of thing the actual evidence is thin on the ground.

Do we live in a simulation?

Well it’s certainly possible. There is credence to the idea, so it is rational to think that we might be, but it’s one of those things that there is no actual evidence for.

But what’s my opinion? Are we living in an ancestor simulation (serious scientists and not David Ike, believe that the most likely simulation we would be living in is an ancestor simulation)? I say no.

First and foremost why would you bother to run ancestor simulations? What can a simulation do that is so interesting and yet would take up valuable computing time, a simulation is just that, it’s not 1-1 no matter how many variables you can input you are not actually generating history? If it’s a game then some people are not NPC’s but humans and human nature being what it is, I’m pretty damn sure someone would have mentioned something by now. Also, HOW DULL!

The accepted wisdom from Elon Musk, Nick Boestrum, Neil Degrass Tyson et al…. seems to be because technology moves towards being able to run ancestor simulations…….we do. Huh? I must be missing a step there. I would think that it’s much more likely that we are not in an ancestor simulation but in a game or entertainment that is VERY different from the world of whoever is generating us.

The other argument that we seem to be subjected to is that we live in such a perfect world. It must be generated.

*head desk*

And what universe are you comparing ours too?

This is the Panglossian argument that this is the best of all possible worlds. It is clearly not but it is so easy to believe because we live in it. Like the amoeba who lives in a puddle imagining that it must be designed for it. It’s the right shape, perfect size, filled with the right liquid for its thriving, it is perfect in all ways. Till it dries up.

This is anthropocentrism at its worst and yet it continues. Because humans love to imagine that we are special. Being’s running a simulation are just gods of another name. If they are running a simulation that means we are special. IF the beings are anything like us they would not be able to resist leaving clues to the fact that this is a simulation in their design.

Of course, there is no reason to fear to live in a simulation. Simulated or not I’m still living this one and only life. The important thing to remember?   Be entertaining. Then there’s no reason for them to turn it off. Perhaps that’s what David Ike is doing?

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Of course now this guy is gone, Ike has is work cut out for him.

Is the moon hollow?

Well there was a myth that did the rounds for YEARS that when Neil Armstrong et all landed on the moon there was a clang that resounded around the moon for over 20 minutes a clang that could be heard on earth and that meant the moon must be hollow. Of course this is nonsense, we never went to the moon.

No I kid. Of course we did and there was no clang the moon isn’t hollow.

I’m not sure just how much more I want to rebut.

Are there lizard people?

No.

Except the queen of course. She’s totally one step away from flipping her forked tongue out and snagging a passing insect.

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Do we live in a prison?

Is the world just a weird 4d simulation of a prison designed to hold our consciousness except that which is transmitted from the hollow moon?

Yes. Yes we do. And yes it is. Totally. No question. I’m convinced.