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This is an interesting read...

And they say something I've long suspected: "Because the reality is that many people that I see in a crisis, suicidal and despairing of life, don’t really need specialist psychiatric support. They need a house. They need a job. They’re worried that their benefit is going to be cut off next week, if they can feed themselves or their kids, if they can afford the GP, or whether they should go without their medication to pay the rent."

It's a New Zealand blog, hence a few of the comments are NZ-related.
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You may or may not have heard that the New Zealand Labour Party has just changed its leader (a few weeks out from an election), but perhaps the more remarkable NZ story this week was this one...

"Investment in ethical funds that exclude (weapons and tobacco companies) jumped 2500 percent to $42.7 billion by the end of 2016, up from $1.6bn in 2015, a Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) report showed."

I'd guess it'd never occurred to them that was where their investments were going, until they were told otherwise.
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This is an interesting read...

It suggests Mt. Gox collapsed due to criminals taking advantage of not very good vaults at Mt. Gox, as apposed Mt. Gox itself running off with near a half a billion dollars in bitcoin.

It also suggests a way to distinguish between what could be considered main-stream bitcoin exchanges and the rest - namely whether they're registered with FinCEN or not.

News around bitcoin seems to wax and wain with fluctuations in its exchange rate. While that's the case, it doesn't have much real value beyond something to speculate with, or perhaps a safe place to put some of your money when you think maybe the banks are about to go bust or your country's printing too much new money.

It would be useful as internet pocket-money, or for transactions with people you trust so neither has to pay a middle-man fees for the transaction. Or with people you don't trust so they can't ask the middle-man to reverse the transaction sometime after it was made. All of which require a trusted exchange one way or the other.


Jul. 23rd, 2017 08:32 pm
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For what it's worth, I have a Twitter account:

And, sadly, as with FB, I've been looking at it more than my DW of late. (I've just been a bit overwhelmed recently, which makes me disorganized and unproductive. (Which just makes things worse. (Though it's nothing bad - just a run-of-the-mill mess.)))

Twitter doesn't matter in the scheme of things, in that it'd be no loss to me if I didn't use it. FB's different though, in that it's the only place I make contact with some people, all of whom I knew before FB. (I'm deliberately not making new friends there.) I loathe FB as a platform as well as its business model, but what can you do? People have no taste when it comes to the net.

The one good thing about Twitter is that while it takes longer to write a tweet than it does a normal sentence, it means tweets are quicker to read. Forcing people to write frugally does have some virtues.
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This article, titled "My father-in-law won't become a coder, no matter what economists say", makes its case but doesn't offer any solutions to the supposed coming high rates of unemployment.

The argument against becoming a coder can best be compared to reading and writing, which we mostly all can do, after a fashion. If all our other needs were met, we could spend our days reading and writing. Say, six days a week reading and one day a week writing. Assuming it took a year for each of us to write something of substance at that rate, we'd all have x billions of new writings to choose from each year. Which is quite an abundance of substantive writings. All for the cost of each of us spending a day a week 'working' at writing. At half a day's work a week we might then only have about a billion new writings to choose from, or half a billion if we only work two hours a week.

Programming's not writing, but as with writing, only a few of us would be a good fit for doing anything of substance with such a skill. Hack coders are probably of some use now, but they'd be the easiest to be replaced by software. (Written by good coders.)

The usual question asked about jobs being replaced by automation is who will have any money to buy the goods produced by all that automation? A better question is what will the few high-paid workers (and business owners) buy with their money?

One resource that isn't increasing is land, so they'll be buying that every chance they get. (Such as when the homes of the over-extended who've lost their jobs to automation become available.) Which leaves goods and services. Assuming goods are mostly produced by automation, (arty stuff aside), that leaves services. Or, as they were called in days gone by, servants. People to pamper them. Robots might suffice for some, but I'm sure most will still prefer people.

So, a full-circle most of those who've lost their jobs probably won't much like.

I don't really believe we'll reach very high rates of unemployment, mainly because it wouldn't be acceptable in democratic countries. But I think the above scenario is plausible if a managed response to the stresses of mass automation isn't worked out.
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It's not that I don't have things to say
It's just that I have others' things to read
I learn from the others' things
But I don't from the things I would say
I already know those things
It's all the others' fault
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Are you in the black or in the white? There's a very clear graph here...

The difference between the machines of old and the computer is the computer's a universal machine. And robots are, potentially, universal machines too. So the first to sign up for the jobs of the future will most likely be the machines that create them.

It's odd teachers aren't seen as being at risk. Perhaps because they're doubling as babysitters while their students' parents are at work? But if there's less work for the parents, couldn't they be at home monitoring their kids' study - be it online or via an in-home robot?

What will those with a decent income want that can't be provided by machines?
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Apparently they didn't quite get the payload to orbit though, according to TV news.

Oh, yeah...

May. 9th, 2017 10:30 pm
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The last time I was here I got sidetracked and so didn't read all my friends-list and so I'm now a week behind...


Apr. 26th, 2017 10:19 pm
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In France, their presidential election has been whittled down to two candidates, neither of who come from mainstream parties. Which once again suggests voters in the West have had enough of the status-quo.

Democracy isn't a method for electing good governments, but a method for getting rid of unpopular ones. People would never have forced their rulers to submit to democracy if they were happy with how they were running the country. So it's in essence a negative method of choosing governments. You keep throwing your rulers out until you happen to select ones you're actually happy with, at which point you stick with them until they go bad.

All that being said, it would be good if your democracy was designed to give you a reasonable choice of alternatives to whoever's in power. This was demonstratively not the case in the American presidential election, where the choice was between an unpopular candidate representing the status-quo and just the one other, who was equally unpopular. (To all intents and purposes - I know there were a few others running.) So American democracy fails (in the presidential elections at least) at producing a good choice of alternatives to an unpopular administration. Maybe, (if you must have a president), the French method of selection is better than the US one?

Anyway, whether you're electing a president or a ruling party (or coalition), a system that produces a good mix of choices to whoever's in power would seem to be a desirable system to have.
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The essence of growing old is not that your body is wearing out, but that your contemporaries are mostly no longer dying in car crashes or of drug overdoses or at their own hands, but from natural causes. For my generation, last year's death toll of the famous was probably an early spike in what we can expect from now on. And this year isn't looking too good for New Zealand, with first Murry Ball dying and now John Clarke. (Who are connected forever in the movie of Ball's Footrot Flats, where Clarke was the voice of Wal...

As soon as Clarke appeared on NZ television he was instantly famous, due in part to there only being one TV station in the country then. It was deserved fame though, with a career going from this...

to, in Australia, this...

The Games, somewhere inbetween, was a TV series about staging the Sydney Olympics and will probably be viewed as his high point...

If I could've found it, I would've chosen a clip where Clarke and I think Bryan Dawe switch to discussing something in Strine to mask what they're talking about in front of someone British, who stands there grinning incomprehensibly. But I couldn't find it, so the above will have to do, despite it being way overused in the past day.

Clarke's move to Australia was New Zealand's loss but undoubtedly Australia's gain. And on hearing why he moved, (a wife who couldn't stand NZ), we should have no further quibbles. Everyone's been saying he was a lovely man and that's just further proof of it. All is forgiven Australia, on this one.

Maybe if he hadn't suffered from a fear of flying he would've focused his microscope a bit more on NZ after the Fred Dagg days. But there's lots of ifs when someone so talented dies too soon. Forget those, and if you've seen too much of his TV over the last day, perhaps just quieten down and read some of his writings instead...

Sorely missed, both sides of the Tasman.
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"Polygynandrous species - where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season - possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy."

Who knew?

From here:
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There's been suggestions recently that with robots and AI set to take most everybody's jobs away we should perhaps tax the robots. So I thought I'd look into how that might play out by imagining how it might effect a business and the tax it generates. Thus...

Effect of robots on a business - chart 2.

There we have a business with at first 10 humans and no robots, then 5 humans and 5 robots and finally 1 human and 9 robots. A robot is assumed to cost half what a human costs and does the same amount of work. There's a flat tax of 20% applied to both the humans' payroll and the business's profits. The robots aren't taxed, as this is to show what happens when a business can cut its labour costs, all else being equal.

As you'd expect, the business makes more profit with replacing the humans, but the total tax generated by the business, (meaning the tax from the payroll plus the business profits), decreases. So not only has the number of the unemployed increased, but the state has less revenue to deal with the increase. However, it's not too bad though, as while the business has almost doubled its profit when there's just one human left, the tax take has dropped a bit less than a third.

I've seen reports though that robots on average are much more efficient than this, so here's where they're just 1/5th the cost of a human...

Effect of robots on a business - chart 2.

From that you'll see the more efficient robots have now more than doubled the business's profits and the tax take has only dropped about an eight.

Either way though, people are out of a job and less tax is collected. If it's expected to be short term though, then a progressive tax could make up for the loss in the tax take, going by these examples. (And progressive taxes are common, such as in the US, UK, etc.) Which would mean business as usual with regard to helping people though periods of unemployment.

But if robots are going to create a higher average level of unemployment, more tax to pay for that will have to be collected. A higher progressive tax could be used, but perhaps a better way would be to factor into the business tax the amount of payroll the business pays. Meaning a large payroll relative to the business's profit would reduce the percentage of tax it pays. A simple though probably not very good example...

Effect of robots on a business - chart 3.

In that, if the payroll is greater than the business's profits then the business's tax rate is reduced, um, thus...


So if the payroll was twice the profit, the profit would be taxed at half the tax-rate. (10% instead of 20% in these examples.)

As the payroll is only higher than the profit in these examples when there's no robots, that's the only example this change effects, the total tax dropping and the business profits rising. This does produce a more even spread in the total tax across the three examples though, but a rise in the tax-rate would be required to compensate for the overall drop in the country's tax-take. (And a rise in workers' pay to compensate for the tax-rate rise...)

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you want to tax the robots, (meaning gains in efficiency that result in less people being needed to run a business), taking into account how much a business pays its employees when deciding its tax-rate would seem a good way to do it.

If you want to have a play with this, the following will possibly load into your spreadsheet after you copy and paste it as a text file...

"Tax Rate",,,20
"Gross Income",,,1000000
"General Expenses",,,400000
"Total Expenses",,,=D3+D4
"Business Profit",,,=D2-D5-D6
"Payroll Tax",,,=D6/100*D1
"Payroll After Tax",,,=D6-D8
"Business Tax",,,=D7/100*D1
"Total Tax",,,=D8+D10
"Bus. After Tax Profit",,,=D7-D10

And this is the alternative Business Tax...


Note that what you're trying to achieve is to both increase the tax rate as the payroll decreases while also increasing the business's profits. Efficiencies are good, so they should increase profits.

(The things I waste my time on... :)
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Check out the Excel/VisualBasic vs Red game of Pong there!
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Putin: "Who let them out of the country?!" Trump: "Who let them into the country?!"

Pussy Riot in Texas...


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