Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Contemptible or despicable?

January 11, 2020

Have been thinking about the difference between contemptible and despicable, starting with holding a person in contempt cf despising them.

Contempt and despite are interesting in their different intensity. Deep in their etymologies, both hold scorn – but the root despicio comes from looking down on a thing, and the early meaning of an act of despite was an act meant to humiliate, to lower the despised in the eyes of the world. It is not by chance despite gave us  “spite.” The root contemptus is from temnere, to scorn, with the intensifier com assimmilated to the t.  So despite holds a sense of seeing someone as inferior, and having an urge to see them aware of it and lowered in the world’s eyes, where contempt is more judging and turning away from,  seeing the action or person as not worthy of one’s time.

Oddly, we seldom talk of showing despite, but do talk of showing contempt. However, we more often say we despise some act or person, or say they are despicable, rather than say we hold them in contempt or say they are contemptible.  This may be from cartoon use, as I can hear Daffy Duck saying it, but it may be that saying that we despise it is, itself, acting to lower it in the eyes of others.  In contrast, showing contempt is revealing an internal state rather than acting to make others share it (well, at least we can claim it is…)

Westpac and the “no-return” costs of compliance with regulations.

November 26, 2019

The problems resulting from the profit motive clashing with popular demand for governments to catch those doing wrong, and human behaviour stirring the pot: all the way to public accusations of failing to report child pornography transactions.

Westpac’s current troubles go back to the 1990s, when they had outsourced their payment infotech to IBM. In the early 2000s they were starting to move it back, and fighting public perception that CBA was ahead in the data handling game.

2006, the banks were warned of new rules on tracking transactions coming into effect in 2010. The cost of this tracking falls on the banks, with no perceived return, so when implementation costs were estimated as small the execs didn’t question good news when setting budgets. Management hates “no-return” expenditure.

The project ran into problems and coincided with cost (staff) cuts, which saw experienced IT staff move out after hastily training their replacements. Things like moving from bank staff filling out paper forms shifting to staff filling out online forms (guess who had to design them) didn’t help. Management didn’t know enough to require and fund development of automated tracking of as much of the data as possible. Humans.

Using the internationally agreed SWIFT costs a little per transfer, and using outside systems allowed a shuffle which tracked most of the legally required data at a lower cost … profit motive. The IT area didn’t focus on the need for info for Government demands, and was inevitably tightly scheduled on higher-ups required tasks, so didn’t go into the mare’s nest of the data handling (imagine IBM’s 1990 batch-based code adapted by departed staff, being worked on by next gen programmers working in on-demand data-use environment) to make sure it could be hauled out. Humans.

2011 and 2012, data required to be held for 7 years was purged, involving over 1.5 million transactions. Because of “poor oversight of data retention systems. ” Humans.

2013, Austrac warned some executive level type at Westpac that there were problems, particularly with small transactions to geographic areas of risk. As with the Challenger disaster, it seems this warning did not go up the line to those who could order action, or was seen as low priority by them, or given a tiny budget. Humans again.

2016, Austrack briefed senior execs, and specifically mentioned the Litepay system was at risk.

2017 Many legacy systems and products had simply been shut during the past years, possibly unable to be made compliant.  More work may be needed to investigate whether relevant data is there.

2018, Westpac got monotoring as required on Litepay, but overall systems still not up to scratch

Now consider: is the money spent on compliance no-return? Boards should consider the benefit of avoiding the future cost to reputation, legal cost, Government regulator penalties, IT overtime, and executive weeks spent in disaster control rather than improving a healthy organization.


Come to the party? I want to start the Best Evidence Party.

May 8, 2019

After spending 3 hours researching the parties vying for positions in the Oz elections, I find we need another party.  I want to start it.


Because in the Senate vote, a valid vote must nominate at least 6 parties (above the line vote) or 12 individuals.  There is a huge list of parties, but in my State there are only 5 parties for which I could consider voting – and that is only because I include the far left to balance out the media support for the far right, and also include special interest parties with limited ranges of policies.

Few parties base any of their policies on best advice from the majority of acknowledged international experts – and that’s not a uniquely Australian problem:  I remember hearing of a senior USA economist being happy because he got their government to shift from something like the 17th worst option to the 14th.  Most of those that claim they have based policies on evidence rely on cherry-picked, biased reviews of serious research, seriously flawed research, accumulated anecdotes, their memories of what they learned in high school, or their imaginations. This annoys me.

The vast majority of minor parties show policies which are swayed more by the mass media than by serious study of the complexity of global environmental, trade, economic, and legal systems.  Their policies are usually based more on the religion and customs of their upbringing rather than on serious study of the wide range of predictable cultural and interpersonal differences which make up the range of our citizens’ needs.  This annoys me.

It is time for a party where the overarching policy is “to weigh all proposed legislation in the balance of the best available evidence.”

I feel that a small range of formal policies is better: explaining the approach is better than arguing details of cases, when every scientist knows that we must shift our understanding when further evidence conflicts with what we thought was the case.

I would suggest that its policies would include things like

  • Have the National Broadcaster allocate time to disagreeing speakers, documentaries, etc, on topics where expert evidence is available in proportion to the depth of evidence on their side.  If only one in a hundred internationally accredited experts agree with a view, it should get a hundredth of the time, not equal time.
  • Our Members of Parliament will not promise to reflect the opinions of the electorate.  They will promise to do their best to weigh the evidence, including details not generally known in the electorate, and to consider advice from the wisest advisors available.  This will be the basis of their voting in Parliament.
  • Where research is cited concerning a view we are asked to support, our party will consider advice from experts including experts in the mathematics of statistical analysis:  in a “scientific” culture where a peer-reviewed publication includes a claim that we should see a correlation of 0.1 as “significant”, peer-reviewed publication does not equal depth of evidence.
  • Where reliable evidence is not available, our party would give weight to ideas of responsibilities which have been seen in the best societies and many religions.  Ideas such as: the responsibility of the government to take action to ensure reasonable quality of life for the citizens (Not necessarily paid employment: should the education system be for “a job” or “to learn what you need to be able to learn what you need to have a good life”?); the responsibility of the  top 20% to support the disadvantaged; the responsibility of each to contribute to the well-being of all others in the population; and our responsibility to limit our consumption as required to ensure the chance for following generations to have a reasonable quality of life (We might agree that non-renewable resources should be recycled as far as possible, for example, and argue that one-off or mining profits must not be spent on recurrent expenditure or tax cuts.)

Its focus would not be science, but its approach would often be scientific.  Its considerations would include the long-term consequences of actions, thinking in terms of hundreds of years.  It would attract people who might also consider the Pirate Party or the Science Party, but want a different (or smaller) range of policies.

In Australia, an official “Party” needs 500 voters who are not members of another political party, and a written Constitution.

Would you like to join this party?  Would you like to help draft its constitution?



Non-neurotypical blasts an organisation called ‘Autism speaks’.

March 24, 2019

Copied from a friend’s Facebook, so people won’t share the ad without text!

From the OP (who has lived experience with ASD)
“Today the ‘West Australian’ daily newspaper (and unfortunately an institution and public standardbearer of what our mainstream public consider ‘keeping informed’ here in my state) ran a full page of content for Autism awareness month bearing the ‘puzzle piece’logo of an organisation called ‘Autism speaks’.

Claiming to advocate for the needs of Autistic folk, run by neurotypical Allistics, and applying the biomedical deficit model to ‘explain’ who Autistic people are and what we need, which is of course a ‘cure’… while denying any encouragement of our potential, or areas of functional strength and talent typical in the lived experience of Autistic difference.

This organisation encourage and facilitate goverment funding and focus on ‘therapies’ to untruthfully miscast many common, essentially harmless (to anyone else, while greatly helpful and functional mechanisms to engage for us, even if YOU can’t see how) Autistic trait behaviors, atypical uses for language and expression, and sensory reactions that pertain to fundamental aspects of Autism as a neurological lifelong condition, to instead be simply psycho-pathological illness or developmental maladjustments that need to be prevented, intervened against and changed via corrective measures and treatment.
Often ushered in under the guises of commonly accepted mainstream therapuetic approaches like ‘Applied behavior analysis’ or ‘Cognitive behavior therapy’.. for adults like me, but also increasingly leading parents and comunity services into frightening fringe medicine like making their kids drink bleach.

No, I don’t mean the 1950s or the 1980s I mean now.

For the first time since my diagnosis and the years of misguided mental health interventions preceding that.. I have finally managed to be given a new mental health plan for something other than cognitive behaviour therapy.

The public understanding that Autism is a disease to be wiped out is why most of the therapies or ‘social interventions’ we can most commonly access in social healthcare wind up being applied in ways that cause the level of harm long realised with gay conversion therapy or a singular focus on body dysmorphia causes the LGBTQIA+ community, where there is a massive cross section of the Autistic population, by the way. We are statisically at double, triple, multiple-intersectional risk for a constant life of being scrutinised, miscast, survielled and intervened upon with a ‘corrective’social gaze at large.

The stigma ‘Autism speaks’ helps to keep publicly institutionalised is the PRIMARY problem and causal motivation of the Anti-vaxxer movement.

I and other Autists stand horror and still feeling powerless and voiceless while mainstream society, our friends assosciates and families, yes, most of my facebook friends.. seem to have taken on rightful disparagement and social critique of the anti-vaxxer movement YET while still largely complicit to the underlying cause while you still yourselves display adherence to applying subtle forms of, or enact Passive daily participation with, the crushing stigma.

This includes your general silence and lack of interest or reticence to engage online anytime I raise autism… and, seeming discomfort, minimisation, topic switching, or silence and general presentation of ‘not wanting to encourage’ my real life conversation or Autistic and neurodivergent self expression.

It is all complicit to finding myself wasting years on, and being exhausted, frustrated and self critically distraught over the constant failure of ‘standard therapies’ like CBT socially forced upon me and been judged as ‘not trying hard enough’ when inevitably a psychological approach created for allistic people with a completely different cause for similar behavioural issues cannot rewire hard wired genetic expressions of Autistic neurobiological difference.

I don’t just mean my normie friends and fam. Almost none of you Allistics.

Not the Academics. Not the feminists. Not the LGBTQIA+ friends. Not the social justice ‘activists’. No particular other social minority or political or cultural group. Pretty scary for us because we are part of ALL those groups. Scary because some of you go through the same judgement and harm and are years ahead of us in terms of enacting social changes to end the mainstreaming for similar forms of it specifically targetting your identity groups. You actually do know better than to treat and problematise us how you are.

If I can’t call you all out during Autism awareness month then what the fuck is the use of having one.

Considering all the dribble you are going to get from supposed ‘best practice’ industry leaders in Autism ‘advocacy’ I thought I should contextualise in detail just how sickening it is to have a month or whatever mainstreamed for raising your apparent awareness and millions of dollars, wasted on empty rhetoric, simply reinforcing your already problematising acceptance of 1950s medical establishment views of what Aitism is and who we are while I can drown you in current credible Autism research that would actually be helpful and wouldn’t make you feel so conflicted for me and icky about it.

You’ll have family and friends reading glurgey bullshit premised falsely in popular daily broadsheets and weekly magazines and it will be rife online. Even those of us suffering severe physical disabilities and painful conditions heavily associated with Autism or those wanting a cure for some aspects are only harmed by the dominant ‘curative’narrative framework limiting how you can possibly understand or appreciate difference based needs of we Autists. Enforced forms of personal and public humiliation shame and torture have not worked to help us or eradicate Autism. Most of us would choose to stay Autistic if you actually ask us.

Ignore anything this month with a puzzle piece logo accompaniment. Warn your workmates, peers, family. Watch this 2006 ad by AUTISM SPEAKS and be truly horrified.

Those of you who know me in real life, ask yourself: how the ad can be misapplied to my life outcomes and struggles unfairly and why, what it means for me when people who don’t know me as well can’t possibly be expected to as easily see the contradictions.. if exposure to an ad like this influences how they interpret and comprehend anything Ive told them about particularly the last five years of my life. If it can all simply be boiled down to the unfortunate throes of a maddening disease that other people have to cut me off over, ‘just to save themselves’ until I can be… or will ‘responsibly choose’to be cured’? To leave me only pitied yet avoided, or ‘compassionately’ discouraged from positively identifying the uniqueness and strengths inherent for Autistic forms of humanity? To revile any notion of Autism even being a type of humanity?
Beyond any further risk of sounding any more like Frankenstein’s monster, I’ll leave those questions with you to process your own ways..
FFS you better come up with a little more than ‘this doesn’t apply to OP so he’s probably not even autistic after all’ ”

From learning about plywood to translation: “NOT SAFE IF ANY BEAM FAILS.” Pretty, though.

September 7, 2018
270 pages written by someone with a very dry, academic sense of humour. And ideas and details to inspire.
I like the Schwedler dome page 184
“A feature of this dome is that it can be analysed as a statically determinate structure.”
– which led me to find out what a statically determinate structure is, which led me to
“A truss is considered statically determinate if all of its support reactions and member forces can be calculated using only the equations of static equilibrium. For a planar truss to be statically determinate, the number of members plus the number of support reactions must not exceed the number of joints times 2.”
Key Observation
Since a statically determinate truss cannot have more members than the number required for stability, it is not a fail-safe structure. This means that if one member of the truss were to fail, then the truss will collapse. This is a major reason for introducing redundant members in truss structures, especially when public safety is of primary concern.”

Why is it so hard to get a good tradie?

September 29, 2017

Letter to a roofing company, after quoted $495 to fix leaking flume and $3003 to fix badly-designed clear-roofed enclosed patio / sunroom area
Thank you for the quote.

I have delayed responding because I wished to consider my response.

As the property (a family home temporarily a rental) has several problems, and I wanted to get urgent ones sorted and budget for the others, I asked for someone to inspect the property to estimate both for the items you quoted and for other work – including things of which I might not be aware.

I was told that the inspection might be on the following week’s Thursday or Friday, and that I would be called so I could be there. Late in the next week I was doing a minor repair there, and one of the tenants told me that workmen had been “seeing to the roof” on the Monday – no card had been left, so I was unsure what had happened. I called your office, and was told that a quote had been sent (I check my spam, and had not seen it. I ran a search over our email in case it was in deleted or junk, and it was not.) I was sent a copy of the quote and was told that I had been called on the Monday but not responded – I did not remember a missed call, but had I had 2 from the same number I would have remembered. There was no text or voice message. In any case, it would not have been convenient for me to attend that day.

Your office put me in touch with the tradesman, whose manner left me feeling both that he was certain that I was silly and that he was unwilling to consider that I needed to be present for the quote process “as I had been quite detailed about what I needed.” As one of the details was that I wanted to talk about work needed later, this was irritating; as one of the items I wanted to talk about for the quote was whether there should be sarking with the tiles, and as another was to find out exactly what changes would be recommended to the back room’s roof and gutters, I was beyond doing more than politely ending the conversation. I cannot agree to $3003 for work without a detailed explanation of the proposed changes and the reasons for them.

I have had a tiler visit, who said that the rear room and the longer-term items were better discussed with a business dealing in more roof plumbing and reroofing, but for $80 changed the way the leaking flume was collared and flashed – and lowered its hood, so that rain could no longer blow in sideways. Since then, there has been no water ingress in the room beneath. What happens with the next pounding storm remains to be seen.

I understand that the difficult weather will have put your company into a stressful period, and so have delayed responding – giving time for your work and my temper to calm a little. If you are interested in trying again to quote on the longer term problems, on changes (if any) the flume area might need to make it permanently watertight, on stopping another leak found the weekend before your inspection, and can provide a more detailed description of the proposed changes to the back room roof and gutters, I am interested in considering your itemised quote.

Literacy and maths geek : QED

September 30, 2016


What future for the average intelligence student? The problem with education “for employment”

July 10, 2016

Both our major political parties are talking about education to fit students for jobs in “the new economy.”  At the same time  Our Coalition Government wants to give Company Tax reductions to large businesses.  However, for large companies,  increased company profits invested in expansion tend to lead to job losses.

Not just from offshore subcontracting of labour to exploited workers with no leave entitlements, OH&S rights,  or superannuation. Consider

It includes a quote from a former McDonald’s senior staffer : “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who is inefficient, making $15 an hour bagging French fries.”

The main item in the article is that 60 000 (probably OH&S nightmare) jobs have gone because Chinese factories invested in technology not humans – even at their pay rates the robots are cheaper.

These job losses are not just the semi-literate jobs.  Consider the rise in expert systems, even self-reprogramming learning systems: the first white-collar job robots are already here, even doing work for lawyers:

The students know about this.  They know that machine intelligence researchers are even starting to find ways to program the machines for creativity.
(see John Gero on Creativity emergence and evolution in design concepts and framework
and  )

So why should the less bright and less creative struggle to learn the basics, if they are told education is “to get a job” and they know they are headed for love on the dole?   (Read Greenwood’s book, or at least a detailed review, if you haven’t come across a film or play adaptation yet )

It is time for the meme of “education to be fit for work” to die.  Move to “education to get tools to make more fun and happiness, or dodge trouble.”  Start classes in “Learning something new without a teacher’s help, and demonstrating it to others,” “Comparing and testing health benefit claims,”  “Bullshit detection,” “website reliability testing,” “effective complaints,” “Dealing with Bureaucracy 1:  Completing a basic tax return so you don’t pay your refund to an accountant,” and  “Dealing with Bureaucracy 2:  Complying with Dole paperwork requirements.”

Of course, you may end up with a lot of activists trying to improve the Nation because they realise that the  current socio-economic system is the source of much unhappiness.  They may even realise that money is just another social construct – and not a good one – and demand a world run on social obligation instead.
Would that be so bad?

Too many Sodomites in politics nowadays…

February 19, 2016

“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. ” (King James version)


For the less literate – New Living Translation
Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.

Just sayin’ .

How to reduce crystal meth use in Australia (and elsewhere) in the longer term.

December 8, 2015

Our Noble Leaders have started talking about “Australia’s Ice pandemic”.

I don’t think that word means what they think it means. I believe the internationally accepted definition of a pandemic  is : ‘an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of  people’.  (Last, J. A Dictionary of Epidemiology (4th Edition) Oxford University Press 2001)

Not crossing international boundaries.   I think they could call it an epidemic – but not a very big one.

Then they talk about stopping it by “talking to young people about risks” and by law enforcement action.  Not about changing the education system from “learn this stuff to get a job” to “learn this stuff to find and make fun and beauty you couldn’t understand without it, and so you will never be bored even if locked in an empty room.”  Not about making risky activities like adult-sized versions of adventure playgrounds available in all suburbs.  Not about social support (guaranteed shelter, food, health care, and safety needs in exchange for the dole cheque?)  for the desperate.  Even though these would mean that people would (like the rats in enriched cages) be less inclined to seek escape through crystal meth, alcohol, and other drugs.

I expect that the right-wing parties in Oz won’t  talk that way, not for the next 20 years.  After all, we know the source of their “Scientific” theories on how the world works.  They don’t care about accuracy, and not just in abusing the word “pandemic.”  For example our Federal Government’s Minister for resources and energy pronounces “nuclear” as “newcewlar.”   Rational action to reduce the risk of youth turning to drugs?   5 years after the Republicans give it the OK they’ll consider it.  Sigh.