Smart no more

Watching my fellow humans dawdling away on all their electronic devices and doohickeys whilst developing the attention span of a fruit fly, I already had the vague feeling that us humans we’re not spinning upwards anymore… well now here’s an article by Tia Ghose @ LiveScience who had the same feeling, and investigated it…

Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Trends in Genetics, argues that humans lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart once we started living in dense agricultural settlements several thousand years ago.

“The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples [living] before our ancestors emerged from Africa,” said study author Gerald Crabtree, a researcher at Stanford University, in a statement.

Since then it’s all been downhill, Crabtree contends…

Read the whole article here http://www.livescience.com/24713-humans-losing-intelligence.html

Lets hope it’s over…

“My gut feeling is the big expansion of coal in India is not going to happen, and they are going to leapfrog into renewables.” – Tim Flannery

Taken from “Coal? It’s Over” by Mike Seccombe – A great read about Australia’s insane/reckless fixation on fossil fuels.
View the whole article here @ The Global Mail

Robin Hood Tax

:: 2013 update – http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/latest/dont-believe-hype-robin-hood-tax-alive-and-kicking ::

A rockin good idea. Sure not easy to roll out, and in danger of being ‘hijacked’ at some point, or see inflated overheads, but still a beautiful (and just) idea.

Go and vote YES 🙂

Why now?

Because the time is right.

From 2007 to present the world is suffering the greatest recession since World War I that is caused by a crash in the financial system. There is global agreement that we need to regulate finance so it cannot crash in the same way again, even if there are different views about how to do this. But the finance sector can – and should – make a proper tax contribution towards putting right the damage it caused and making the world a better, fairer, more sustainable place.

Computerisation of the finance sector has made a tax like this easy to implement. What’s more, it’s made it necessary – the very speed of today’s financial systems is a direct contributor to the surge in global trading. Nowadays, too much trading is done to make a quick profit, and not to serve the real economy. This high frequency trading has brought instability.

read more here http://robinhoodtax.org.au

Occupy the seed!

Last Friday I went to a talk in Redfern, with Costas and the creators of the Seed Saver’s Network, Jude and Michel Fenton. The evening was real eye opener. The Seed Savers’ Network was established in 1986 to preserve local varieties of useful plants. Have a read about their fascinating story on their website www.seedsavers.net

Here is Costa’s interview with Dr Vandana Shiva, my favorite activist and campaigner. Find out more about her work on her blog www.navdanya.org

About peanuts and monkeys

A little story for them who haven’t yet grasped the actual meaning of Schadenfreude:

I’m a Sydney based web producer. Last week I was told that a former client got a “great cheap website deal from overseas.” I was not impressed.
But now this client’s website is down ever since the ‘great deal’ eventuated. Their website is now down for more than a week [update: 2 weeks now].

Schadenfreude is the word that describes best my current state of mind about the whole situation – I just can’t help it.

As you know, there is a saying about how to secure quality services for your business…

the age of

The most important subject taught to school children is rapidly becoming computer science and applications: How to use machines instead of brains, programs instead of knowledge.

Ray Kurzweil – THE AGE OF INTELLIGENT MACHINES | The Age of Intelligent People

What will that do to our N-Geners? Will it impact their capacity for empathy and compassion?

Patents are evil

Excellent article about patents by Pieter Hintjens.

While politicians see patents as an easy measure of industrial power, the reality is far darker. Patents act more like a legislative parasite that consumes the industrial base, and replaces it with cartels and trolls. Essentially, as soon as patents are introduced into a sector and start to bite — after a delay of five to ten years — they tip the economics back to front. Producing new products becomes dangerous, while buying new patents becomes profitable.

The damage is often invisible until much later. Large firms accept the cost of patent conflicts as the price of doing business and a useful barrier to smaller competitors. Small firms try to remain under the radar, assuming that trolls will not see them (yet). Patent deals are typically secretive, so most conflicts remain invisible. Since innovation cycles are often many years, and patents take many years to be examined and granted, everything may be going very well, for many electoral cycles, before the public lawsuits explode.

By the time every large firm is embroiled in five, ten, a hundred patent lawsuits in parallel, it is too late. The only way to win a war is to buy bigger weapons. Eventually the trolls get their pound of flesh, the large firms all settle into comfortable cartels, the small innovators go elsewhere, and peace returns.

The market is, by this stage, effectively dead. We get the Microsofts and the Nokias. Large firms do not innovate well. The general model is to buy smaller innovators and then mass-market those new ideas. But patent wars push small innovators out of the market.

An optimistic viewpoint would say that parasites eventually reach equilibrium with their hosts, and it is only when they jump to new hosts that they are deadly. A pessimistic viewpoint would say that it is the newest fields of technology — software, alternative energies, genetics — that are the most essential to human survival, and the most vulnerable to the spread of the patent system.

At their core, patents reflect an 18th century view of the market. The basis for patents is as valid as the old theory that disease spread by “bad air”. We have used science and evidence to create progress in every other field. It is ironic that the patent system, claiming to be essential to progress, depends on old faith-based arguments that were discredited 150 years ago.

So, we have an old discredited system that rejects reform, that infiltrates the political and business establishment, that turns living markets into zombies run by cartels and trolls, that spreads to vulnerable, essential areas of technology, that puts humanity’s very survival at stake. The conclusions and next steps are yours to make.

Read the full article here: http://www.ipocracy.org

Freedom of speech

September 30 2012 – by Annabel Crabb | smh opinion

Brilliant write this 🙂

… Freedom of speech – it’s simple in theory, but endlessly complicated and distorted by a million other factors of politics, circumstance, or the belief that you’re restricting it for the best possible reasons.

In the end, freedom of speech is like democracy: the worst possible system, except for all the others.

Attempts to curb freedom of speech for entirely excellent reasons are the most tempting of all: the shutting down of hate speech, for example, or the protection of society from extremes.

Human nature is to insulate ourselves against nasty shocks. That’s why we invented insurance. But you can’t insure against genuinely irrational human evil, any more than you can against stupidity or malice.

Which is why the bottom line on freedom of speech must always be: sometimes you just have to suck it up.

Read the whole thing here: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-worst-possible-option-except…

Annabel Crabb writes for ABC Online’s The Drum. She tweets as @annabelcrabb.

three main myths about banking

Telegraph.co.uk/finance Bank-reform-held-back-by-lobby-group-myths-BoE-member-Robert-Jenkins-claims

He outlined three main myths propagated by the banking lobby. The first was that reform, principally the demand for larger loss-absorbing capital buffers, was a choice “between safety and growth”. “The banking lobby would have us believe that higher capital requirements and lower leverage will damage economic growth and retard the recovery,” he said. “Bankers have exploited this fear.”

Mr Jenkins claimed that the argument was false because more capital would not limit the amount of lending a bank could do, but would make it safer and therefore lowered its funding costs. Banks have claimed the opposite was the case due to their adherence to “return on equity” (RoE) targets, which ignore risk.

The second myth was that unless RoE was high, shareholders would not invest and capital could not be raised. Mr Jenkins dismissed the claim, saying: “The prospective investor is no longer interested in promises of short-term RoE, he is interested in achieving attractive risk-adjusted returns.”

The third myth was that governments cannot afford to over-regulate for the risk of losing financial centres. However, he said: “In a world of increased risk awareness, letting your banks off the capital hook will likely damage not enhance their ability to compete.”

Mr Jenkins also suggested that banks should be subjected to far higher capital and leverage ratios but fewer complicated rules in return.

The fluoro-vest economy

Found this article about Australia’s ‘fluoro-vest economy’ in the smh – and just couldn’t agree more:

It’s boom time in Australia and if you’re in the fluoro-vest economy, you’re so loaded you can commute to your second home in Bali. For the rest of the country, however, it’s getting a tad difficult to just, you know, live. Continue reading “The fluoro-vest economy”

Job interviews…

… and why I suck at them.

All what is happening around us, the digitisation of our world and the ever-connectedness that comes with it, to me this is all just an awe-inspiring invigorating enlivening exhilarating over the moon one great fucking huge adventure, with software sprouting everywhere only to be consumed brainfinger-lickingly, and with layers that are going down deeper and deeper and everything being close-looped and crossed over, all that just absolutely blows my mind, every single day, again and again. That what is ahead of us, the breadth of the tech horizon of which we’ve only just seen a fraction so far (its maybe 5:45am on a winter morning), is just so gobsmackingly fabulous and exiting and inspiring right down to the tiniest braincell (and heart.bit), its the best reason to get out of bed every morning to see where we’ve gotten to today. At least that’s what I kinda think and feel about the whole thing.

But – when at a job interview I find it simply impossible to even begin to give a proper answer to questions like “where do you see personal enhancement opportunities” or “can you describe a situation past with communication gone wrong” or “would you see yourself rather-than-as?”
Continue reading “Job interviews…”