Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Use Your Delusion

I have been thinking about delusion recently.

What does delusion mean? I assume it to be a state of misleading oneself.

I believe that delusion (now and again) is perfectly normal state for us humans.

I.e. sometimes we have beliefs about reality which we choose to ignore or on the other hand we have some beliefs about reality that (if in a more rational state) we would discount out of hand.

An example:

People living through traumatic episodes. I doubt any victim that lived through a holocaust could be completely rational, when dying would be the more rational choice.


I wonder why we replace the rational beliefs with delusional beliefs? Such a replacement would seem irrational, as having a less good picture of reality should be disadvantageous for decision making.

Note here that when people usualy mention irrationality they mean bounded rationality.

We humans for example are boundedly rational - we have limited decision making capabilites - we are sometimes wrong. Stock market bubbles are a product of bounded rationality not irrationality - traders draw upon (limited) experiences and understandings and create false overly optimistic beliefs. These false beliefs are grounded on the trader's experience of reality however, and are therefore boundedly rational. For example, traders that lost everything after the dot com bust, weren't bonkers they just didn't have the years of experience and trading acumen to avoid those losses.

Husbands and wives are also boundedly rational (most are human afterall). Their decision to marry may be overly optimistic and end up a bad decision. I suspect though, that the first rush of love may well be ver close to irrational.

Drug users may also be irrational. Seeing as love and cocaine stimulate the same areas of the brain (apparently), perhaps we can better view irrationality as a /temporally/ altered rationality, rationality based on a different reality.

Humans (and other animals) have evolved to be in states of delusion. It is sometimes advantageous (and sometimes disadvantageous) for us to temporally alter our realities away from the usual grounded, boundedly rational view of reality.

I wonder would it be possible to model and simulate games (game theoretical ones) where delusion (or irrationality) is advantageous? - as far as I am aware, there are no games where a player can gain strategic advantage from manipulating her own beliefs.

- Perhaps genetic irrational anger could in some situations be a "natural" credible threat...


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Japanese Baby Machines (Fertility, Part I)

This will be an ongoing series of posts about fertility and immigration.

I will expose the stupidity (and the latent racism) of those policy makers who actively incentivise their citizens to produce babies and increase their nation's fertility - when there are more than enough people from developing countries willing to be constructive, exemplary citizens.

No, Japanese scientists haven't come up with a new ingenious way of producing babies, the Japanese health minister called Japanese women "Baby Machines", I'd love to know what reaction it has caused over there.

[Here is part 0 of this fertility series]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Virgin Murder

Why are honour and pride so important?

Read more here and here (my new favourite blogger).

I hear one brutal account of oppression after another.

I hope sooner or later Arabic women can revolt.

Monday, January 22, 2007


6 billion people (give or take) will die in the next 120 years.

(Not in /any/ way suicidal dudes................. ;))

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

"The Last King of Scotland" is the best movie I've seen for months.

Basically about an expat living the high life in a tropical developing country.

It reminds me of "The Year of Living Dangerously", but imo has a more biting, bitter punchline.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Problem with Economics

"Science is prediction, not explanation" - Fred Hoyle

All to often, economics explains, but doesn't predict.

Yes, it's extremely difficult, and yes economics bods can be quite intelligent - but mostly economic research degenerates to ex post explanations.

A Measure of Failure

I've previously posted that Indonesia on many measures is failing, at the very least it is failing a large portion of its people.

Actually, I reckon only one measure counts, that is net migration, or perhaps better: willingness to migrate.

Ireland haemorrhaged migrants for about 150 years (my highschool economics teacher used to say "Ireland is the only 3rd world country with snow") until about 10 years ago. Emmigration is often the last resort of desperate people, in effect it shows that the state has utterly failed them. Interestingly over the last decade Ireland has never been in a healthier state, and now has large inflows of foreign workers, students and whole families.

On the whole I am not "proud" of Ireland (not unproud either); but I am proud that Ireland is giving foreign people a chance to thrive in our society, when they couldn't make a go of things at home.

Now turn back to Indonesia. The govt. is failing the 20% of the population (40 million people) that live below the poverty line (ie. earn under a dollar a day!). It's also failing the most talented who go abroad to study or work. It fails the wealthy who generally don't trust the government education system and go abroad to seek health care. Of course Indonesia has been a success to a lucky few - the Suharto family, the Sukarno family (to a lesser extent), the expats who lunch in the Shangri La for $20 a go, the tourists looking for good value sex, those lucky enough to be supreme court judges...

However, let's just focus on one of that hard core 20% of the utterly destitute. I visited a slum in Jakarta, and met a Chinese woman in her early 30s (we were there as part of a program giving out school wares for poor kids) the thing that struck me was: this woman had near zero chance of escaping the hole she was in, but she seemed very bright and intelligent. In fact she reminded me most of all of may pal Yuk Ki, a HKer who can speak 4 languages and is a /very/ capable person.

Needless to say I was shocked. I've always lived in societies where I believed that as long as you were on somewhat of an even keel you could survive well.

In my opinion Indonesia is failing /at the very least/ 20% of its population. Perhaps 20%, 30% or even 40% of Indonesians would exchange their citizenships for another (however sorrowfully) if that meant they could live and work in a society which gave them and their families a chance to live more fulfilling lives (that /would/ be an interesting survey).

Saying that Indonesia over the last 60+ years has been anything /but/ a failure to a major portion of its people, is ignoring the elephant in the room. In fact anything and everything from the Chinese, to the Communists, to the Meneer and not forgetting George Soros have been made scapegoats to avert attention away from fundamental problems within.

The first Indonesian president to face up squarely to how Indonesia has failed its people over the past 60 years, will be the first to put Indonesia on the path of real progress -- unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Project Indonesia

In the "Trillion Dollar Bill" episode of The Simpsons, Fidel Castro is in a meeting with his top generals.

Fidel: "What are we gonna do? Cuba is bankrupt! What are we going to do?"

Generals : [Shrug, look at each other] "I dunno..."

Fidel : "Well we all knew this Communist bull wasn't going to fly, get me President Clinton on the phone"


I amaze many Indonesians by my interest, optimism and love for Indonesia, it's weird - but I am weird ;) - especially as many of them seem to be concerned with escaping from RI (notable exception is Risma :)). Objectively though, by many (most?) measures, the Republic of Indonesia is failing.

I wonder if it'll ever come to the stage when an RI prez says, "hey we tried, gave it our best, we all knew this Pancasila kleptocracy wouldn't fly, let's pack up and go home".


Achmad's comments on an Unspun post about Buleh are partly good insight, mainly disgusting racism.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Posse

Big up to Suhud, Tanjung and Wahyu..

I've accidentally started to support them; I don't even like kids, stupid frivolous things.

Hopefully I can visit sometime.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Buleh Fever

Indonesians, it seems, generally love Buleh (sometimes obviously they have ulterior motives - but hey, us Irish always have ulterior motives for being friendly with tourists ;)). As a Buleh, you get a massive boost of your ego when you go there.

All in all I am very ambivalent to it.


I was showing a Chinese-Indo pal of mine some of my pics on flickr of my sis and I having a blast with random Indonesian ppl that we'd bumped into on our hols.

The first thing she said was: "pity they're not like that with us".

Some things struck me:

1) "them" and "us" -- even though "Chinese" have lived in RI for generations.
2) could the Indonesian smiles for us just as easily morph into jeers for many Chinese? --I recall "Pribumi" friends mentioning how they used to mock Chinese as kids.

Anyways, I remember two heartening accounts from my reading Indonesian history.

1) Revolusi Sosial, Pemelang, 1945. The corrupt officials that empoverished the farmers in and around Pemelang during Jap occupation finally get their comeupance. Not all were corrupt however, and one in particular had helped this poor Chinese guy out when a lower official was trying to suck every last Rp from him. Just as the crowd was about to lunge at the official, the Chinese guy jumped in front of them with a knife, yelling "I will stab anyone who comes one step closer". The crowd stopped, the official saved.

2) Anti Chinese Pogrom, a poor Kampong in Jakarta, mid 70s. A young girl is hiding with her family at home, the pogrom is sweeping through. She can hear what's going on outside. She's terrified. The only thing standing between them and that whirlwind of rape and God knows what is an old "pribumi". He has the Haji title (he'd been on the Hajj pilgrammage). I imagine he had only a walking stick to defend the house. He stays in front of the house the whole day and the family are left untouched.

I'm not sure what conclusion to draw. But fear and bravery are probably part of it.

[Of course the kinda ironic thing is that the "Pribumi" were originally Chinese, just some came late to the party. The real Pribumi or "original people" were / are actually melanesian (I think that's the correct term) peoples that now inhabit Papua (in fact they are found all over the pacific - e.g. Hawaiians are Melanesian)]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Baby Subsidy

Germany has begun to heavily subsidise babies, obviously all the gratuitous porn didn't work.

Parents will be subsidised up to two thirds of their salaries for up to a year when their baby is born. All in all they can receive up to €25K a year.

What a spectacularily German solution to low birth rates!

Canada has a much more sensible way of solving low birh rates, they import people. Which is good because:

1) Foreigners can enjoy life in Canada (it's a lovely country)
2) Canadians can choose who comes in, whereas those unborn might be little urchins
3) Less possibility of an over supply of babies (I wonder whether the population of German orphanages will increase?)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Migration Watch

A group called Migration Watch published a survey which hit the headlines in the UK today (it made me want to puke).

It says:

1) Migrants contribute 4p per person to the UK's GDP.
2) Migrants set £10 million a day back to their home countries.

I say, bring in more migrants!

1) 4p is better than nothing.
2) That £10 million per day is probably the best type of "aid", directed where it's needed most, and earned through hard work.
3) The migrants might otherwise be un(der)employed at home, and it's great that they have a chance to improve their family's lives.
4) Homogenous societies (e.g. the Ireland I grew up in) are stodgy and boring.

In the last 10 years Ireland has had an explosion of immigrants. In my experience they are more industrious than Irish workers as they appreciate having the chance work in Ireland much much more. Giving people the opportunity to work and make something of their lives is /the/ most positive aspect of Ireland's Celtic tiger economy.

[It's kind of ironic, because Ireland has been notorious for emigration -- the Irish diaspora make up much of Britain's, Austrailia's and America's populations]

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Utility Hosting

It was a bit of a revlation when I realised recently, that you could buy a virtual internet host.

Amazon, have probably the most innovative products:

Elastic Compute Cloud

This service hosts your virtual machine, i.e. you create an image of a Linux system and upload it to Amazon. Your system gets an IP address and runs in Amazon's data centre. It's still in beta and quite pricey, but it gives you lots of possibilities.

Simple Storage Service

This service stores your virtual machine and any other data - it's unbelievably cheap, and you can also make use of bittorrent technology to distribute stored content.

Amazon also offers a service with which you can use Amazon's e-commerce payment features, which is nice because people will probably trust Amazon more than a smalltime e-commerce site. However I am not sure how their commisions stack up against PayPal and Google.

These services are shrewd moves on Amazon's part. They recognise that their core competency is information technology over everything else, and that's what I am sure they'll increasingly focus on.

What's the betting that Amazon sell nothing themselves in 10 years, but focus on providing the technology for others to sell online? (a la EBay)

Intelectual Property (Medical)

Joe Stiglitz reckons medical patents do more harm than good.

British researchers get around a medical patent by slightly altering a drug.

Software developers have been doing similar things for years in order to get around software patents (luckily software patents are not enforced in the EU :)).

For example, a big corp informs a developer that he's violating a patent (corporations have hundreds of thousands, so it's a veritable minefield). The software developer says, I didn't realise, don't sue me, I'll change my program. The software developer knows where he needs to go, and he knows which route is blocked by the patent, so he figures a way to reach the same solution without violating the patent.

Perhaps there's hope for cheaper medicines yet!