Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shmandatory Shpree-coshmitment: Will New Pokies Regulation Work?

Mandatory pre-commitment. The idea is to make problem gamblers think consciously about their actions, before the addictive behaviour kicks in, and to then bind them to their sober choices.

Will the plan work? No. But is the thought in the right place? Kind of, I guess. But is it the right approach? Doubtful. Here's why:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Final Solution to the Problem of the Boat People

I've been listening to Gillard, Abbot et al arguing about how best to come up with a final solution to the problem of the boat people, and while I can believe they're acting like this, it still totally disgusts me how partisan the Australian parliament is, at the expense of the human rights of those already at risk.

I was saying as soon as the High Court decision came down about the Malaysian solution that Labor would probably try to change the Migration Act. If Liberal were in power, they'd be doing the same thing, human rights be damned. The only reason Liberal are trying to block it is because they're not in power.

I don't know if I've blogged about it already, but this is an almost perfect example of how democracy can be abused by partisanship and factionalism:

Monday, September 19, 2011

German Pirates Storm Berlin's Parliament

Berlin's Pirate Party has won 15 seats in the state election on the weekend just passed.

It's a fantastic result. The Pirate Party got 9% of the vote, which places them as the fourth largest party in the parliament. They are also the smallest, because Germany mandates a 5% minimum to be allowed representation. This is to filter out fringe parties (3 of which got between 2%-3% of the vote), which means in Berlin, the Pirate Party is now mainstream.

Congratulations to all the German Pirates involved!

Safe Investment Strategy?

What would you call something that works like this?:
  1. A company asks for an investment of money, with the promise of returning your principle as well as a guaranteed rate of return.
  2. Investors get confidence by seeing the returns, and if any of them tried to individually exit the investment scheme, the company would be able to pay them out.
  3. The company used that confidence in order to convince investors to leave their investment with the company.
  4. The company could only continue paying out returns for so long as enough money keeps coming in to cover the guaranteed rate of return.
  5. If every investor tried to take their investment from the company, the company would go bust.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Double-blind Experiments for Dummies: Wine - Part 3

This is the final part of my wine-tasting experimentation trilogy preceded by Part 1 and Part 2.

Here, I'll be presenting the results, some basic analysis and a conclusion, including an evaluation of this experiment's credibility.

Double-blind Experiments for Dummies: Wine - Part 2

This is part 2 of yesterday's post entitled Double-blind Experiments for Dummies: Wine - Part 1.

As can be seen from yesterday, trying to conduct a proper double-blind experiment in the home is pretty hard. I identified 5 potential issues with my own lengthy experimental setup procedures (and I haven't yet mentioned how questionable the results would be in an experiment on only 4 participants).

This highlights why it always pays to be sceptical about reported results from scientific studies without first reading all the details, caveats, experimental snafus, etc. It especially highlights why pseudo-science is a load of crap; it relies on anecdote, selection bias, and the placebo effect, rather than rigorous scientific principles.

And now onto the experimental procedures of the wine-tasting experiment.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Double-blind Experiments for Dummies: Wine - Part 1

This is part 1 of my attempt to carry out a double-blind wine-tasting experiment.

I was studying a case involving Penfolds Wines at uni the other week, and it made me want to get some on the way home. But I thought it would be good to buy a really good bottle, rather than relatively cheap wine, like I'd normally have. Then I thought about what a waste of money that might be, as there would be no guarantee that the more expensive wine would be any better. That made me want to find out, as scientifically as I could, whether the more expensive wine would be any better. So here's what I did:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

33 Most Creative Films of All Time

Film Piracy is Robbing American Workers! Didn't you know that?

I wouldn't bother reading the linked article, if I were you. It's kind of long and boring. The gist of it is that people in film lose out when you copy movies, and that the entertainment industry's "creativity and innovation have made American entertainment one of [their] greatest exports for generations."

It's all quite doom and gloom, so I really feel for them. I also don't think that these problems are limited to the United States.

This is why I've put together my list of the 33 most creative films of all time, in chronological order, in order to celebrate how creative and innovative the film industry has proven itself to be:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How the Artists Shall Get Paid

I have a fundamental disagreement with Rick Falkvinge. Don't get me wrong, I respect him heaps for founding and promoting the Pirate Party, but there is one thing that I have heard from him a few times with which I just cannot agree: That it's not up to us to answer "How shall the artists get paid?"

September 11 Cost Per Victim

How much money and how many people should die per civilian killed in a terrorist attack?
Well, here are the American answers: