Wednesday, December 18, 2013

are insect spy drones real?


I called this image a fake. Someone disagreed. I was going to tweet a response but there's numbers and evidence and shit which gets drawn out and needs a blog post. So here I am.

I think its fake because its too complicated. Machines are simple. They do not approach the complexity of even the simplest cell. That image shows something that looks like a mosquito. It has mosquito-shaped wings and legs and what appears to be a multi-instrumental proboscis. The more I  look at it the more I know its a fake. Here's the evidence:

  • This link has video showing what a real insect drones look like. Note that it does NOT look like a mosquito. It looks like a toy. It has few moving parts. That's because moving parts require movement systems including motors, drivers, wires and a power source. Every extra moving part requires more capability in the CPU controlling all that shit. That means more power too. I made the audacious claim that there wasn't a power source in existence that could power the alleged mosquito drone for any useful period. 
  • Look at a quadrocopter, for example. My nephew has a Hubsan X107 X4. Its a toy. It has a 240mAh battery that keeps it aloft for less than 10 minutes. The person who this post is aimed at linked to a paper published in a very prestigious journal in 2008 that reported the development of a revolutionary new lithium ion nanotechnology that would increase the capacity of li-ion batteries by 10 fold. In the link the author of the paper claims "this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly,". Note that the paper was published five years ago. I haven't seen any hyper-capable li-ion batteries on the market. 
  • Even if the technology was available to the NSA, the CIA and all the other hyper evil people, because of the complexity of the mosquito drone there's no way its consumption is comparable with my nephew's toy quadrocopter. If the Hubsan could stay aloft for 90 minutes, that would be rad. But if, instead of running some cheap brushless motors, a CPU and a little 2.4GHz receiver it had to simultaneously control 6 multi-jointed limbs, 2 wings and a head full of sensory gear transmitting an audio visual feed, then I don't think even the hypothetical super-battery would last more than the same 9 minutes the Hubsan currently achieves. I am, of course, assuming a similar power-to-weight ratio here as well as a similar battery-to-weight ratio.
  • G_Funk_D, the protagonist here, also suggested that the mosquito drone could run off solar power. That sounds reasonable although I don't see any solar panels and even if the entire surface was doped there would be a tiny, tiny output in anything other than direct sun light. If this thing is meant to fly outdoors then its performance is going to be very restricted by the weather conditions (as are actual mosquitos) or it is going to consume implausible quantities of power. If its not meant to fly outdoors then solar power is simply not an issue. Indoor conditions would be much more favourable to such a device. 
  • Finally, the ultimate nail in the coffin: Snopes says its not real

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

why is Auckland such a fucking awful place to get around?


I ride a motorbike. I drive 20km to work and back every day. There is a train station 300m down the road from my house. One of the twenty or so in the entire city of a million people with just two train lines. But I don't use it. I ride my motorbike to work. There are many reasons why I choose to do this over taking the train. The convenience. The speed. The thrill. The train can't compete on any of these.

Recently however, I have been discovering more and more unpleasant aspects of being a road user in Auckland. Firstly, people on the motorway have tried to kill me twice in two weeks. That's quite a big one. Secondly, a combination of the beginning of school term and the roadworks at the new Waterview interchange has impacted my commute like a hefted brick and left me weaving through heavy traffic, instead of farting freely down the open roads. Thirdly, I have found myself becoming more and more aggressive in my driving in response to other road users' habits.

I have always prided myself on being a conscientious driver. In the UK I drove various permutations of white van. Well, my first one was green, but anyway, I drove vans. I drove them to work and I drove them to the beach and I drove them to festivals. I took pleasure in being a courteous road user and defying the stereotypical white van driver. In fact I believe that stereotype is a myth. I found the majority of van drivers to be amicable and generous road users. You can't be anything else when you're driving something as unsexy and unwieldy as a transit, although the minority exception to the rule often seem to contribute every bit to the myth as much as the majority detract from it. Actually, I did used to stink around considerably in my T4 but that's allowed because T4s are fucking awesome and go like shit off a brick. I always used to compare my T4 to a Golf, whereas the Citroen Relay I had before that was a 2CV. Anyway, I digress. I was a careful, if enthusiastic driver and even when I was tonning it home in the 306 along the A38 on a Friday afternoon I was never one of those cunts who would tailgate people or come up behind them and flash lights or undertake. I'd just wait patiently for whatever doddery old bastard was in front of me to get out the way before stinking away again. I respect other peoples' rights to be law abiding, doddery old farts or pootling mummies on their school run. It doesn't bother me.

From the previous paragraph you might have grasped that I break speed limits with some abandon. I do. I'm not ashamed of it. I have a relatively blemish-free driving licence and have only ever pranged two cars, one of which was a childish prank and the other a parking accident. I am proud to have been caught speeding just the once and that was a fair cop when I was late for work one morning. I work on the principle that speed limits, particularly those here in New Zealand, were set in an age when mainstream production automobiles couldn't break 100mph without threatening to disintegrate and certainly couldn't be trusted to stop or avoid obstacles in an emergency. Have you seen those old pieces of shit the UK used to churn out? One friend at uni had a Morris Marina. Another had an Austin Allegro. They were joke cars that were gifted to people by their grandparents or elderly uncles. We laughed at them and hand painted confederate flags on their roofs, or put BMW badges on the front. I couldn't drive myself but even if I did I aspired to drive a 306 or a Golf, not one of those wrecks. Their owners never bothered to do any substantial maintenance because it was accepted that it would be pointless. The cars were fundamentally unsound. There was nothing our inexperienced hands could do to remedy that. The difference between these contraptions and the epic Mercedes that I drive today couldn't be more marked. Despite being 20 years old my epic MercPanzer exhibits ABS and a body made of such heavy steel that I can't drill self tapping screws into it. I could do that to the T4 and as for the Shitroen, I could almost flick holes in that with my bare fingers.

Ah. More digression. Anyway, my take-home message is that if you get a speeding ticket you're either driving too quickly for the conditions or you weren't paying sufficient attention to the road. Either way, you're a liability and you deserve it. BTW, I do have a pretty good grounding in statistics so please don't make the mistake of thinking that I've just been lucky up til now and that I'm an accident waiting to happen. I have taken care to learn and understand the stochastic influences at play in road safety. By this I mean I pay careful attention to the factors that contribute to road traffic accidents and take pains to pay them appropriate respect. You can't stay alive riding a motorbike in any major city for more than a few months if you don't.

And so I have wound my way back to Auckland traffic and my motorbike. The point of this article is to lay down something I said to my wife earlier tonight when we were discussing my near-fatal incident on the morning commute. What happened was that I overtook a long line of queuing cars and then stopped a couple back from a set of lights, indicating to turn right. The guy I had stopped in front of, some middle aged Maori or Pacific Islander, obviously took umbrage at what he perceived of as my forcing my way in front of him and proceeded to try to drive around the outside of me as I turned right and then turned into me, forcing me off my line and towards the concrete barrier separating my side of the road from the oncoming traffic. He was so close to me that if I hadn't been leaning into the corner he would have contacted me. Fortunately I realised what he was doing and managed to tighten the turn and pull ahead of him. Once I knew I was ahead of him I then stopped in the middle of the lane, giving him the option of stopping behind me or running into me and I put my kickstand down and started to get off the bike. The cunt drove around me and away down the motorway, leaving me literally shaking my fist at his receding cage.

When someone tries to kill you- and I hope I'm not being melodramatic here- you find yourself considering whether you provoked them. Had my actions in pulling ahead of this guy in traffic presented such a mortal insult that he felt the need to imperil my life? Had I failed to understand the cultural implications of my perceived queue jumping? Had my presence in front of him pushed him over the edge of an already bad morning and into a homicidal rage that was no fault of his own. I think not. The reality of riding a motorbike in traffic is that you are constantly overtaking cars. If the guy hadn't acted as he did I would have been a kilometre down the motorway before he could even see it. The motorway on-ramp consist of two lanes curving down to a classic New Zealand stop-go traffic light which lets the queue of cars pass in pairs. This is an anti congestion measure to limit the flow of cars on to the motorway. Once I had put myself between the protagonist and the van ahead of him I would only have usurped his position in the flow of traffic for a handful of seconds.The stretch of on-ramp flowing from the traffic light intersection where the incident took place down to the stop-go lights splits into two lanes to accommodate the queueing cars. Directly after the stop-go these two lanes merge again. A driver on four wheels must pick one of the lanes to queue in until they get through the stop-go light. A rider on two wheels, such as myself, slips carefully between the two rows and nips through the stop-go behind the next two cars. I don't know if this is legal but its what I and about half the other motorcyclists on the roads do. (The other half of motorcyclists do not drive as if they are riding a bike but as if they are driving a car, which seems to me to defeat the entire point of riding a motorcycle). And so my protagonist would only have had to tolerate the sight of me immediately ahead of him on the road for the few seconds it took for him to turn the corner of the traffic light intersection and travel a hundred meters down the on-ramp to the queuing traffic, where he would have come to a halt and I would have disappeared ahead and away, leaving him in his original, coveted position behind a shitty white van with the legend "I wish my wife was as dirty as this van" daubed in the dust and grime covering its rear window. Okay, I made that bit up, but do you see how trivial this arsehole's actions were?

So this is the context for the conversation I was having with punkwiff this evening when I experienced the startling revelation that people like this guy, and the other wanker who, on the motorway a couple of weeks ago, pulled up so close behind me in the fast lane that I could have turned around and pulled his wipers off, actually deserve to sit in traffic for an hour every morning. They deserve to have to sit and simmer and rage and grind their teeth as they inch towards the stop-go light for their turn to burn rubber for fifty meters before slamming their anchors back on to merge with the traffic crawling along the motorway at 30kph. Because that's what they've voted for.

There's a saying I came across: You get the government you deserve. If you live and work in Auckland and have to travel across the city on a regular basis and you continue to vote for people whose stated policy is to make this situation worse, to neglect public transport infrastructure and to institute transport policies that favour car drivers then you deserve everything you get in the way of congestion, road rage, wasted hours sat in your cage when you could be playing with your children or reading a book or making love to your wife. What's more, you have no right, perceived or otherwise, to take umbrage at people who are smart enough to adopt more sensible approaches to transport, whether that be subsidised public transport or people like me making our way through the shit storm of oiks and retards blocking up Auckland's arterior roads in their cuntmobiles. I don't vote for these things and I'm not stupid enough to spend two hours a day driving 2 tons of steel into the city and back, not to mention paying $15 for the privilege of parking it there. My bike doesn't take up fuck all space on the road, it doesn't do fuck all damage to the road surface and it only produces a fraction of the emissions some Holden mkIV prickwagon does so fuck you and your fucking playground strop about me getting ahead of you on the road, fuck your stupid, shiny cuntwagon and fuck the government that you voted in to keep this absurd fucking shitstorm of a transit system in place. You twat.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

the vicious circle of pseudodemocracy


An exchange on twitter with @PhilRandal led to the following summary of the vicious circle of pseudodemocracy. Any attempt to effect genuine democratic change within a pseudodemocracy such as the UK will ultimately be thwarted by a dysfunction in one or more of the elements of this circle. 

There are just so many examples of this but a few prominent ones include the AV referendum, the constant flux of absurd, ideological policy spewing forth from the department of education, the Leveson Report, the Jenkins Review, limitation of media coverage to controversial figures such as UKIP and the BNP and not the greens or the SNP, etc., etc. 

Anyway, I said to Phil that I should come up with a pithy jargonism to use as a hashtag on twitter to refer to this but then I realised that the tagline on this blog was about as succinct as you could make this. I also use too many obscure jargonisms as hashtags on twitter already so until I come up with something better I'll just stick with my old favourite #Duhmocracy.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

new header



are the Tory Scum mining Westminster contact records for their propaganda spam?


I received an email from Theresa May. This surprised me. I've never met Theresa and if I did I don't think I would ever give her my email address. I'd probably have a struggle on my hands to resist spitting in her face. Here's what it says: 

Really what it says is irrelevant. I would never listen to a word a Tory said on principle and in the interests of preserving my mental health. However, this email was sent to my personal email address. I don't know how the Conservative party got hold of this as I can guarantee that I have never corresponded with them. Even if I had I would never authorise them to send me unsolicited material. Why would I be interested in their propaganda?

So how have the Conservative Party of the UK got hold of my email address and what makes them think its okay to spam it? This email address is publically visible on the internet but not associated with any information which would allow the Tories to identify me as a target. Unless I have slipped up in registering for some website and forgot to tick the "don't allow us to sell your personal info for profit" box, which I'm always careful to do, the only way I can think of is them mining Westminster resources such as the ePetitions website and ministerial contact records, with which I have communicated via that email address. If true this is a gross abuse of my private data and is clearly illegal under the Data Protection Act. I have replied, of course demanding to know how they obtained my email address but I doubt The Scum will be forthcoming. 

I would be interested to know if anyone else has received such an email and can confirm or deny my suspicions. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eastleigh byelection


Chris Huhne is gone. Good riddance to Tory Scum. Now to look to the future: There isn't a Green Party candidate standing in the constituency, which is a jaw-droppingly naive move. How can the Party claim they represent anyone if they don't run a candidate? Even though the UK's dismally pseduodemocratic electoral system makes it certain they will lose their deposit they need all the publicity they can get. Not even having a name on the ballot paper is just dumb. 

Anyway, here's some numbers:

Based on the 2010 figures the electorate is 77,417 strong (votes cast / turnout). The LibTards polled 24,966 or 46.5% of votes cast. A classic example of UK 'democracy' there: not even a majority on paper, regardless of the wishes of those in the constituency too disillusioned, not registered or otherwise ineligible to vote, eg. due to being imprisoned for some petty misdemeanour. This is why punkscience advocates compulsory voting and proportional representation.

Anyway, apart from the disenfranchised, the 2010 election left 52,451 people- nearly 68% of eligible voters- without political representation in Westminster. Oh, they had an MP. Yes, one they hadn't voted for. Very 'democratic'.

I don't know if you can tell but I am utterly disillusioned with UK politics. That 68%, that enormous, farting, blarting pachyderm depositing vast piles of dung in the corner of the small, packed room that is UK politics, is such an obvious offence to my sensibilities that I find it hard to muster anything beyond harsh scorn for any political commentary that fails to acknowledge it first and foremost. As this includes pretty much the entirety of political commentary I am left cackling and sneering from my shack here on the edge of Auckland without much of substance to engage people on. But then I'm happy like this. I'm clearly right. You can't argue with the numbers. Can you?

The worst thing is that I now find people I respect and whose opinions I value posting earnest tweets discussing what would be the best outcome in the byelection without considering that the entire affair is blatantly illegitimate and a sham. They consider whether UKIP's explosion of voter share is a good or bad thing. Whether, ultimately, a LibTard hold might be the Best Outcome they can hope for. Its just bizarre! Have they no ambition? Have they no sense of their own role in the perverted satire of this pantomime of public participation? Their own subjection to the agenda of the covert and malevolent authoritarianism that has ruled the UK for decades? 

Apparently not. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Marx, Rand or Keynes? Fuck all your economic prophets


A post on Twitter from Derek Wall drew my ire. Up front admission of judgment: I only read the first couple of pages of the preface from the linked document. But just read it for yourself. Regardless of what follows the author (note: not Derek) apparently lives his life from the perspective that all government, i.e. all structured human cooperation (that's what government is, fuckface), is A. Tyrannical and wasteful, and B. Well, I don't know if you need a 'B' after that flight of Angel-Dust inspired fucktardery. 

I mean what the blistering fuck?

Derek Wall had the grace to reply to my accusation of libtard propaganda propagation and admitted he hadn't read the doc but a couple of other Twits chipped in in response and demanded to know how the state is not an evil artifact of the ruling capitalist class and therefore TEH EVILLLLlLLL! To them I offer the  response of Mitch Benn to Clegg's similarly retarded proposal:

Yes, if you think the state is a fundamentally malign concept then why do you remain living under its iron jackboot instead of fleeing these oppressed shores to Somalia, the land of ultimate freedom and liberty?

The most bizarre thing, though, is that these comments seemed to result from Marxists, which is not an equation I've encountered heretofore (Marxism = libtardism). This set me thinking about Marx generally and how he's experiencing some sort of resurgence as a political alternative to fuckyounomics and I began to realise that Marxism is a kind of religion. You see, I've always wondered about Marx and his writings and the writings of those who built upon his ideas. I've always felt slightly intellectually inadequate in that I've never read any of his work, although I've read a lot of people who talk about his work in an interesting light. So I've always felt as if I'm missing a fundamental piece of knowledge which could open me up to a new and profound understanding of this diversely fucked up world. 

Then I drank some beer, had a shower and drank some more beer and realised that this was a rank crock of weasel piss. Marxism is just another fucking religion with a bunch of stories in some magic books telling tales of the great visionary. Crucially, I perceived that Marx died before environmentalism was born. And environmentalism changed everything: If your ideology excludes environmentalism, specifically the limits to growth, the laws of thermodynamics, the fundamental importance of energy to the growth of human civilisation and any of a hundred other subjects that highlight that resources and energy are the fundamental currencies of civilisation, not money, then you're a deluded wanker with no more intellectual credibility than some Hari Krishna selling enlightenment on the corner or any other religious outfit trying to sell you platitudes and mysticism from the mouths of their chosen one (Ayn Rand, anyone?). 

This would be a good point to draw attention to this outstanding and outreaching blog post from the Modern Monetary Theory blog of Bill Mitchell which attempts to rationalise this controversially robust fork of economics ( I don't want to call it that as that seems to sully it but that's the field he claims to work in). The post embraces steady state economics, limits to growth and 'biospheric homeostatic boundary problems' (?). I'm going to read it again because I was drunk the first time I read it but I retain a feeling of deep satisfaction that this represents a further entrenchment of ecological economics as the most robust and evidence-based alternative model to fuckyounomics, or Marx or Randian libtardism or whatever your particular chosen blend of misanthropy, delusion and mysticism is called. 

Here endeth ye sermon. Ye canst nowe all fucke off.