Showing posts from June, 2012

Redistributing Wealth in the Eurozone

I find the dynamics of the expectation of countries having to bail out other countries in the Eurozone quite interesting. Normally, inside a nation, say France, you have wealth distribution since politicians and the public can, through taxes, take money from the rich in order to help the poor. This works where the notion exist that it's fair to take money from the rich, because the rich are rich because of luck or power, or whatever and the poor are those who are less fortunate. Now it gets interesting where you get the same dynamic in the Eurozone, where the countries that can't manage their economy well because of their bad policies, corruption, incompetence, etc. want to get financial assistance.  They want countries that have managed their economy well to bail them out. It gets extra interesting, since Germany is a country where wealth is not something that was created because of imperial conquest or the likes, or because of abundant natural resources. The

Piracy Crackdown Doesn't Need a Strong Case

In New Zealand news today it is reported that the warrants for Kim Dotcom's raid weren't exactly legal.  There have been a lot of reports of the weakness of the charges brought against Dotcom. The reality is, having a strong case was never a priority to the FBI.  It's just part of a crackdown effort.  This tactic is not new, and has worked in the past.  I'm thinking of a piracy crackdown about 20 years ago. Back in those days, it was a network of dial-up bulletin boards, and people who would commit phone fraud to upload and download data, operating as couriers, in groups. The boards would often fund their hardware through credit card fraud, and many of them made money selling tapes full of pirated material. The crackdown involved raiding the boards, getting the user details, tracking the phone numbers of the users, and getting various people raided in various countries.  A lot of the time the cases would collapse in court on various technicalities, but i

Baby Boomers and Generation X and Y in the Workplace

Some people try to categorise the behaviour of people in the workplace with what generation they are.   Like Generation X people do this, and Baby Boomers do that.  Personally, I think that behaviour at work have little to do with the period that people grew up in and more with the age these people are at the moment. When you're young and start working, you have grown up spending most of your teens being exposed to the latest trends in information distribution, whether it's computers and the internet now, television before that, radio before that, newspapers before that, books before that. You have a hard time comprehending the world without these sources. There is always a new source of influence for a newer generation. Any group, regardless of generation type, usually benefit from better access to information and education and mental stimulation than anyone before them.  Whether they use it is a different matter, but the options are there.  The point is that wha

Random Visitor

One evening, many years ago, when I was living in Johannesburg, I was sitting talking on the phone when I saw movement on the side of the house where no one ever walks. Next thing I know, this blonde woman, not bad looking and nicely dressed, walks into my house.   Past me and my housemates, into my bedroom and climbed into my bed and promptly fell asleep. A few hours later she got up, walked around the house a bit, and realised she didn't know anynobody. She introduced herself as Dr Conneley and seemed somewhat embarrassed. We told her it's fine, we don't know her either. She went back to sleep in my bed.  My one housemate was out, so I slept in his bed instead. The next morning she woke up and realised she was so drunk the night before, that she walked into the wrong house one street away, and promptly left.

Receiving Signals from a Distant Civilisation

I think receiving signals from a civilisation, that has gone extinct by the time we received it, would still be a very exciting.   Mainly because if we're lucky we might receive hundreds of years worth of signal, and we can learn a lot about them, e.g. their culture, their technologies and language etc. It's going to happen regardless, if we pick up a signal we can assume the society has either died out already or advanced significantly. We'll also know it's likely a very long time before they'll even be able to detect that we exist In other words there's no point for making contact, but the amount we can learn from it will be tremendous.  It will also change society dramatically knowing that we are not alone, and would put more importance on space travel for us.

Online Gambling Industry

I've worked for a very large online gambling company for a couple of years, and I wrote this during my last week employed by one.  This was in response to someone commenting about the fact that they have an IT job at a land based casino in Vegas and really shouldn't be in that job because they don't know what they are doing, but get paid fairly well anyway. I think this kind of thing is normal in the industry. First you have an industry where many land based casinos have little competition because of license restrictions making it hard for new entrants, and many online casinos had little competition because they were brave enough to operate in a legal gray area that any well run business wouldn't dare enter. That's apart from the fact that it's a type of business that takes money quickly off the majority of people who mistakenly think they're luckier than probability theory determines. The industry is slowly maturing and the margins are getting

Swimming in post-Apartheid South Africa

I grew up in South Africa as a white boy and saw the whole end of apartheid thing. Because of the previous regime a town would generally consist of white suburban neighbourhoods not unlike you'd expect in the US with a commercial centre with malls and whatever, and then just outside of town would be a black 'township' that had dirt roads and most people lived in metal and wooden shacks and basic brick houses and would take the bus or minibus taxi into the main white town if they had work. The town I lived in had a public swimming pool, and as facilities were being opened to all races this was opened too. The white population of the main town was about 8,000 people and the township had about 25,000 people in it. The black kids from the townships were obviously very keen to try out this swimming thing, especially since they had no pool up in the townships. The pool became very busy with lots of black people. None of them had any swimming experience but the

A Trip Down a Gold Mine.

I travelled down a gold mine once. A proper gold mine in South Africa. First we went down 2.3km, changing elevator half way because one elevator can't go that whole way. Once at the bottom, we got onto a little train that travelled 6km down a little tunnel to where one of the more profitable parts of the mine was, it produced 40 grams of gold per cubic tonne of rock. We saw the people working there and had a go at the drill ourselves. Apart from it being very hot and humid, the most striking thing to me about the whole trip was not the depth and engineering achievement of all of it, but the people. This mine worked around the clock, 8000 people worked down there in a 24 hour period. They did very hard work, and very dangerous work. This affected them psychologically. We travelled down the elevator with some miners, and with them was a guy who tried to kiss everyone in the lift. Like a crazy person. We were told that's not unusual, there are people th