Sunday, December 18, 2011

3D flowers

The muse to post has been on strike, so you'll have to endure some more garden photography.


These pictures are stereograms: squint at them. I have never been able reliably to diverge my eyes from their focus point, but I have been able to converge them. A ruined Sub. B class photo from 1984 attests to my skill at this. Therefore, these stereo images are made for a converging squint. Don't worry if you struggle with the Agapanthus - the view points are too far apart, so I can see only a part of the flower at a time in 3D. The rest of the flower appears like a confusing mess of blue. The Iris OTOH is a beaut!

(If anyone could effect a more specific ID of the species, I would be grateful for a comment or two.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Transport Month Week Three Survey - my responses

Recording my responses to Transport Month Week Three survey for the wall of text. Don't have the muse to be more creative.

Which public transport service(s) do you use and why?
Rail transport
How often do you use public transport and why? (daily/occasionally/events only/never)
Occasionally, sporadically daily
What would persuade you to use public transport?
I'd use it more if it were more unlikely that I'd have to wait 40 minutes for the next train, whether due to breakdowns, dogs eating Metrorail's homework, or just the rather rarefied off-peak schedules.
Do you think an after-hours public transport service should be available and, if so, what would persuade you to use such a service?
Yes! It would help if such a service a) existed, and b) was safe to use. Even something like London's notorious/famous "night bus" could help - anything that can predictably and reliably take me home, even if not super promptly.
What is your experience of the Transport Information Centre and what should be done to improve the overall public transport service in Cape Town?

Never used the TIC - sorry. Figure out how to make it more "cool" to use public transport, not such a Hobson's choice. Break the vicious cycle of mediocrity of service and low appetite for its use.

Longer answer: perhaps there needs to be a bit of stick and carrot. Cape Town's roads seem to have become noticeably more congested over the 15 years I've been driving, especially the intersections of major routes surrounding the principal economic nodes. It would be a tragedy if the solution to this consisted (only) of road widening. Instead, we need to get people out of cars and into buses, trains, and (grudgingly) minibus taxis. I think the City knows this. Carrot: more convenient, safe, clean, all-singing-and-dancing public transport. Stick: higher vehicle registration fees, since you can't attack directly via the fuel price. More stick: continue coming down on drunken drivers like a ton of bricks.

My experience of Germany's train system is that even the upper classes have no qualms about using the trains. Why is this not the case in Cape Town? I can suppose the cause is a combination of stations in dodgy or dodgy-looking areas (or rather, stations *attract* dodginess), ugly, dirty, antedeluvian-looking trainsets (the 10M3's are a little better - but not by much), a culture of mediocrity that suffuses Metrorail that results in poor service that only those who have no other choice will tolerate. I don't think many non-train-users know that at least in peak times and if one's travel needs are along the rail corridors, you get where you want to be, quicker.

Perhaps shorter trainsets can help to address the deserted-trains-give-me-the-creeps problem after hours? Not much of an energy saving but maybe if people felt safer, they'd have a greater appetite for rail transport.

I enthusiastically support the City's efforts to wrest control over commuter rail transport from Metrofail, if only for the potential for a culture reboot that it offers.

Thanks for reading this wall of text!

CAPTCHA: nttcr5

UPDATE: "Server Error in '/FeedbackForm' Application. // Runtime Error". Sigh.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Have email disclaimers gone mad?

It might just be karmic justice. Until a few months ago I worked at a company that would like to redefine email as Email 3.0 or something - the product was an email gateway that added branding, business cards, and also those stupid page-long disclaimers.

On Monday I bought a little baby PV solar panel, just to have an electronics guinea pig. Setsolar asked me for my address, email and real life, phone number, all sorts of things. (I wasn't in the mood to kick up much of a fuss.) So today I received the tax invoice by email. Fair enough, and kudos to them for allowing '+' in an email address. But then... there it was, lurking at the bottom of the email (emphasis mine):
Confidentiality Note: This email message and it’s [sic] attachments are the property of SETSOLAR. This information is intended solely for the attention and use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
WTF? Since when is an invoice the property of the vendor? And just when did I agree to a contract that seeks to "prohibit" me from unauthorized "review" (???), use, disclosure and distribution? I guess I should now expect NPA to come knocking at my door.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You are just as guilty

The NYC General Assembly has published a declaration of the occupation of New York City. While I'm glad that the occupation seems to be gathering momentum and mindshare, and while I have sympathy for the sentiments behind the many "facts", I do believe that the 99% are not being completely honest about their complicity in the situation they're protesting. Let me add to the confusion. In the same order:

They have failed to use their shares in corporations, held via pension funds, as their voice with which to disapprove of bailouts. They have failed to put heat on underperforming executives.
They have failed to start their own corporations free of inequality and discrimination, and have chosen to continue to patronize corporations which do make themselves guilty of these blots on humanity's character.
Their farmers have chosen freely to use monopoly seeds; likewise they have chosen freely to poison their rivers with fertilizers and pesticides.
They have refused to use moisturizing creams not tested on rats first.
They have continuously sought a path of conflict with employers, when they use their collective bargaining power to exclude non-union workers from the workplace.
They have chosen freely to pursue an advanced education, one that is in excess of what any reasonable person would think of as a "right", and have chosen freely a field that is expensive to study, vulnerable to cyclical variations, and perhaps not even all that useful.
They have chosen freely to buy only the cheapest goods, goods that are cheap because only workers outside the US are willing to scrub toilets for less than a king's ransom. They have chosen freely, also, to run up their lifestyles to the point where their expenses match their incomes, so that they can afford only the cheapest of each of the very many goods they "cannot live without" (yet use only a few times before throwing them out).
They have ridiculed those concerned about privacy before being so was hip, as "net kooks".
They have continued to vote for the same two bought parties, despite knowing all along that campaign contributions run the show. That's if they even bothered to get their lazy asses to the voting booth. And nowhere did anyone hold a gun to their head and force them to vote for a bought candidate from one of the only two parties who have won anything in the last X decades.
They continue to demand unimaginable amounts of electricity, demand which (until only very recently) only oil can meet. They have refused to take public transport, because that is only for poor people and losers. No, a car in every garage is sine qua non!
They have continued to forgive unforgivable sins, such as fouling beaches, murdering wildlife in the process, spilling chemicals, and creative accounting.
They choose to let the media hold the reins to their emotional state. They have continued to worry more about bearded men in turbans attacking them with anthrax than about the disgustingly fatty freedom fries and polymer burgers they stuff down their throats, like daggers into their coronary arteries.

(You may interpret uncontested agreement where I have not mirrored a "fact", if you wish.)

I do not suggest that corporations are blameless. They are plenty guilty! Nor do I even suggest that what is in the 99%'s eye is a beam, but it is at least a little splinter. Corporations are composed of people, they depend on people as customers and employees. So do politicians in a procedurally if not spiritually democratic country. Yet the supposedly good 99% of men did nothing, and then evil happened. And now everyone acts surprised.

But please - do continue doing something, so that more evil may not happen. Better late than never:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The value of an education

intellectual_coward asserts:
The common experience of many of the protesters is that of being crushed by an outrageous burden of high interest student loans. Today it is common for graduating seniors to carry $50,000, $75,000, or even $100,000 of debt.
Of course it's frightening to start your career deep in the red. But is it really "outrageous"? I'm not so sure. If there really is a free lunch to be had by getting educated, then in the long term, more people will do so, until there is no longer an advantage to doing so - when the expected lifetime income increase matches the increased cost of tuition (as more people seek a commodity, the cost of providing it rises).

An education has value, but who should pay for it? We might like others to pay for our own - that is the rational if selfish desire that seems implicit in the comment quoted above. But why? Why should my tax dollars make you rich by paying for your education? That does not seem fair either, does it? (A justification of such a subsidy might include second-order making-the-cake-bigger-rather-than-the-slice arguments.)

But why would an education cost $100,000? Back in the late 1990s when I got my university education, the tuition fees did not come close to that - the total might have been of the order of $15,000 (and included a change of direction when I realized biochemistry + physics was not a good career for me). A state subsidy would also have applied, but nothing like $100,000 worth of it. [1]

Perhaps part of the problem is that some sections of society have forgotten about applying capital cost-effectively. Maybe their universities need to learn to do more with less.

A politically incorrect counterargument is that not everyone has the same aptitude for a higher education. It certainly matches my anecdotal observations. If some people are born with a built-in advantage over others, it is natural that they would, in aggregate, earn more over their lifetime than those whose lack of talent consigns them to perform only undifferentiated labour - which anybody could provide, should they choose to. This may not be fair, that the genetic lottery determines one's prospects in life. It is, though, economically efficient - and stable.

[1] A University, particularly a private one, may want to pursue "profit" (by whatever name suits their mandate). A reasonable return on capital invested would be fair - but this return should be related to the prevailing interest rates. I don't imagine education as a particularly risky industry, so its return on capital should be fairly low. (Otherwise there would be more schools, until the return again matched the borrowing rate + (low) risk premium.) Keep this in mind when comparing what an education costs the school to provide, with its price to the student.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Who wants a "phased approach"?

MyBroadband reports on feedback to ICASA about local loop unbundling (LLU)

One of the highlights from MyBroadband's submission is (my emphasis):
A phased implementation of the unbundling options listed in the Discussion Paper would be preferred
The passive voice is disliked as it is used here.  The source of opinions is obfuscated, which allows these opinions to be dressed up as inviolate fact.

Who prefers a phased implementation of loop unbundling?  I don't, do you?  In whose interest is it if ICASA were to mandate a phased implementation?  I'll tell you who benefits: Telkom.  The slower the meteor approaches Chicxulub, the easier it is for the dinosaurs to adapt at the slow rate their big bodies prefer, in order to keep those whippersnapper mammals in line.

I wonder if this is part of where Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions' "extracted the most reasonable views" - the views that, obviously, conflate consumers' self-interest with Telkom's.

Framing matters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Malemagate - some contradictory thoughts

My opinion of Julus Malema is mixed. I abhor the interests he is willing to sacrifice in his quest to the top, but I can only admire how he strategically pursues his. The fact that his interests differ from or even oppose mine, does not mean that he is "stupid", as many seem to think. That he flunked woodwork in high school means that he flunked woodwork in high school, not that he is incapable of making something out of himself. Anyone who doubts that he has made something out of himself, should please explain how this man is able to afford the Breitling watches and other trappings of material wealth, as well as the political influence, that he seems to enjoy.

The meaning of a message is the response it elicits

If there's one thing you need to know about NLP it is this. I find it somewhat arrogant to suggest that the entire meaning of a message can ever be embedded in only its form and medium. We say that jokes are funny not only because there is something inherently funny about their words, but because we laugh at them. When most of an audience misunderstands a message, it is not the audience that is "wrong" or "stupid", but the message that is inadequate. Accepting this tenet of communication frames the problem as a pragmatic, empirical one, where outcomes are more important than intentions. This is how it should be, if you care about getting what you want.

When Julius Malema sings Shoot the Boer, it means exactly the reaction it's getting: fearful white people making a brouhaha, Afriforum taking him to court, the ANC retreating into their afro-laager crying foul over the legal challenges. Malema is finally in a spot of trouble, so part of the meaning of this song, when he sings it, is, "I'm scared. Please help me by showing solidarity with me. Here's a pro forma enemy for you to use as an excuse." (This is now. I believe he has been singing this stupid "song" for longer than he's been in the poo.)

I don't treat seriously any suggestions that when Julius sings this so-called song, he intends literally to command members of his audience to go out and shoot people. I don't even take seriously the suggestion that any members of his audience interpret it as that, let alone being likely to execute its instruction. It's far more fun just to freak these white people out. Always them and their white tendency to fear the nag van die lang messe (night of the long knives).

The 48 laws of power

Read this book if you want to recognize Juju's master plan. He wants to be president, and if we keep reacting to him the way we are, he's going to get there.

Remember those armed bodyguards walking him to the Cape High Court? That was spectacle (Law 6, Law 37) from the sop shelf. Afriforum? Law 2 (learn how to use enemies). Getting others to keep him in the news with lawsuits etc.: Law 21 (play dumber than your mark). Coming up with some new scandalous thing apparently every month, and having everyone react to that: Law 31 (get others to play with the cards you deal). And when he calls for nationalizing mines? I bet that's just Law 45 (preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once).

But I think there's a law that Julius forgot about: Law 1 - Never outshine the master. He went too far when he muttered something about regime change in Botswana. Time will now tell if he, or Jacob Zuma, will pay the price.

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words can never hurt me. Most people reacting so vehemently to Malema's antics don't even understand the language in which he sings that stupid song. It's like going to the opera as an Englishman and fussing about the Italian words the soprano belts out, the Italian words an Englishman doesn't even know.

A double standard?

When some paler member of our society gets caught out saying the word "kaffir", it is an instant political and commercial death penalty. I'm undecided about whether a stupid racist epithet warrants the ending of a career. Refer again to "Sticks and stones may break my bones" above - I believe there is far more harm in a superficially liberal capitalist (wordlessly!) overlooking black employees for promotions, merely for being black, than there is in some unreformed Afrikaner going all kaffir-this-kaffir-that at a braai, yet who never gives practical effect to any of their lingering prejudices. Yes, I believe that such people exist, and even that they are not uncommon. To them (and I encourage fearful white people to apply this qualifier to the meaning of "boer" in that stupid song), the word "kaffir" is merely a colloquialism for "black man", a bad habit they learned in our bad old days. At the braai the word means only the response it elicits from others at the braai - there is no lynch mob or shotgun commando or any other hostility. Most likely there is a mild feeling of superiority of a kind that the men present probably feel towards women too, but mostly the connotation is that of a very-different man, and not much, if any, hostility. And, as surprising as it might seem, I have heard the word "kaffir" being used in an almost reverent fashion, where it's meaning seems closer to the original "unbeliever" - an affirmation of both differentness and respectability. (That's not an argument for using the word. I wish white folk here would just forget that past-expiry-date word.)

Yet when some ANCYL leader (whether as the present incarnation in Julius Malema or as previous ones in Peter Mokaba) sings some "liberation song" whose words literally translate as "kill the farmer" or something to that effect, words which almost all white people recoil at as vehemently as black folk recoil at the word "kaffir", one needs to drag these ANCYL leaders, kicking and screaming, to a less inflammatory stance.

I accept the truth of the saying, "The victor writes the history books". The victors here have decided that the punishment for getting caught saying "kaffir" shall be the political death penalty, while for similarly inflammatory utterances with inverse polarity, there shall be only a delayed (if it comes at all) and grudgingly administered slap on the wrist. This imbalance grates me. In my perfect world, people in positions of influence would receive the political death penalty equally, whether they said "kaffir", "kill the boer", or "wait till Mandela dies".

What to do if you dislike Julius Malema


Your reaction is his source of power: stop feeding it. The next time he mouths off about something and the media rejoice over the opportunity to hit high circulation numbers, ask yourself whose cause you are helping in gobbling it all up. Can you, personally, make him recant his statements? Didn't think so. Would you, personally and directly, be affected even if he does get his way and has mines nationalized? Not really - unless you own a mine. How likely is it even, really, that he would ever get his way? Do you think Patrice Motsepe will just roll over and let the government take his mine(s)? Or the trade unions, who own large chunks of the mining industry? Apply those critical thinking skills you claim to have as an advantage over him! Remember that whenever Julius is in the news, there is probably something else that got pushed out of the news. Something boring and unimportant like your right to know about the "Zuma tapes", for example.

In short: stop caring so much. That is what I do. There are many ways to push my buttons to get me upset, but Julius Malema ranting about something isn't one of them. I care more about YOUR caring about Juju, than I care about him himself, and my writing this post is more about you and your reaction than it is about Mr Malema.

I realise that in writing this post I am feeding the monster I wish to vanquish. I see this as a tactical retreat - giving up a little territory in the hope of finding reinforcements from the army of the apathetic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Curious symmetry of argument

I'm having some fun reading an IRC transcript (TL;DR) including an odd "negotiation" between Penny Leavy and Anonymous.  Massive kudos to her for getting there; I normally don't expect corporate folk to be able to or care to engage with a problem like this.  Retreating behind a wall of PR and spin must seem so much easier.

At some point one of the Anonymous demands begin to include a donation to the Bradley Manning defense fund.  Now if you recall the commentary on what he did, back when the issue was fresh, there was this idea that he did something bad because his disclosures might have placed US citizens and allies in danger.  Compare that with this excerpt from the log, around line 2033:

[06:10] <+Sneux> [00:09] <+CogAnon> It was only for research. <---Intentions dont matter, its the fact that no matter what your intentions were it could still hurt people.

Could still hurt people?

There's a difference though: Manning's disclosures potentially endanger willing participants in the US war efforts.  By contrast, if it is true that Aaron Barr's list largely misidentifies Anonymous members, it endangers non-participants in Anonymous' activities.  Implicit in that is that I don't consider "liking" a Facebook page to be "participating".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Electronic components distributors

They all suck, each in their own little way. In no particular order:

Yebo ElectronicsBrowseable store within walking distanceNo filters. Possibly expensive. Limited range.
RS ComponentsWide range, has parametric filtersSame filters are painful to use. Expensive.
CommunicaUnknownDisorganized search, no filters, never have things I want.
Hi-Q ElectronicsUnknownNo search. No component info.
Mantech ElectronicsDecent pricesNo filters
Electrocomp Expressgood rangePoor search, somewhat expensive
Octopart(Mostly) excellent searching, wide rangeNot a distributor, definitely not in Cape Town

I actively invite these or other Cape Town-based distributors to promote or defend their usefulness. Send me some mail, guys. I'll edit this comparison table as necessary.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why I won't help Ancient Lives

Zooniverse has a new project that, I guess, lets you help decipher ancient texts.  I enjoy helping out with some of these efforts - I get the feeling that I'm helping to do something worthwhile.  I like knowing that I'm helping to find a place to go for New Horizons after Pluto.  I also like feeling like part of a community - the community of volunteers and researchers.  It's cool when it's a two-way relationship.

But Ancient Lives... is sadly not a project I want to help out.  Here's why:

Images may not be copied or offloaded, and the images and their texts may not be published. All digital images of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are © Imaging Papyri Project, University of Oxford. The papyri themselves are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society, London. All rights reserved.

Yuck.  So I guess it's a give-and-take relationship: We give and the researchers take.  The Imaging Papyri Project can take their copyright and shove it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gardening sieve

I want to expand my vegetable patch, but to do that contiguously (and I need to, because I don't have more anti-dog fencing) I need to separate the garden gravel under the plum tree from the soil.  I don't think the gravel makes for good vegetable patch soil, even though it has over the years intermixed with the soil underneath.  It would frustrate working the soil, and potentially disrupt carrot growth.

My solution: a gardening sieve.  With a bit of leftover steel mesh and some hand-me-down meranti planks from the garage and some brand new steel screws, I hacked up a wooden frame to both hold the mesh rigid and to prevent material from spilling over the edge.  I did this with my el-cheapo Ryobi table saw (more on that later), but you can build this just as well with a hand saw, or even no saw.  You could even use logs and nails if you had to.

I added the diagonal corner pieces because the frame was too wobbly for my liking without them.  The mesh was originally about twice the size of the sieve as it is now, which would have been unwieldy.  In fact the sieve is just the right size now - neither too big nor too small, so I can comfortably hold it and shake the soil/gravel mixture to separate them, as you can see here where I have a little pile of gravel piling up.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The right way to prune a tree

I often see trees disfigured by bad attempts at pruning.  Cutting limbs arbitrarily results in wounds that stay open longer than necessary (if they heal at all) and ugly proliferations of new-growth shoots.

It only takes a little more energy (mostly mental) to prune in a way that helps the tree recover from the injury.  Make your cut nearly flush with the trunk.  You especially want to preserve the top of the bifurcation - you'll often see this as an area where the bark is rough and flakes off, almost as if the barks of the trunk and branch are "colliding".  I no longer remember much of plant physiology but there's something magic about that part that can initiate new growth to cover the wound.  Your cut should look something like this:

 After a few years (exactly how long it takes depend on the size of the wound), the tree will heal the wound, by growing tissue to cover it from outside in.  Here's an example of a properly made cut on the same tree as above, after a few years' healing:

Eventually the wound closes completely, and over time the former wound site becomes almost unnoticeable.

If anyone has any particularly egregious examples of poor pruning, I'd like to add an image of it here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Response to "excessive" spending by rich article

Okay so why does Yahoo! want me to tell them my dick size, bank balance, and bowel movement schedule before they'll let me comment on this story? I thought my Google account would be good enough using OpenID! No matter, I'll reply here, and collect the millicents of ad revenue myself.

McGill University professor warns about spending excesses by rich and famous

This is as much a response to the article as a whole as to all of those retarded quasi-communist comments.

How many times over must the "rich" pay the purported "debt" you think they owe society? Where exactly did they incur this "debt"? They've already paid their income tax, and the tax they pay is more than you'll ever earn in your jealous little lifetime. I used to think the beer story is just one of those stupid right-wing chain emails (and maybe it is), but it seems like people just don't get it (and that's probably why they aren't rich). Just google for beer + "tax cuts for the wealthy" to find other variants. Also, get a fucking [high-paying] job (*).

P.S. If you wait until there is no more hunger anywhere, ever, you'll never see any Ferraris. Why don't you start by selling your TV and donating the proceeds to some starving kids in some despotic hellhole?

(*) I mean it, seriously. If you're so convinced that the rich are getting rewarded unfairly, then do what it takes to become rich yourself, and stop whining. Go to school, send your kids to school, toss out the TV (yes, really) and read books instead, take up a hobby that teaches you something useful. Think like rich people. Act like they do. Talk like they do, and adopt their attitudes. If it's so arbitrary who gets to be rich and who gets to be poor, you should be able to get a loan, whether from a bank or from your friends and family, that would give you the cash you might need to trigger the "rich get richer" phenomenon. You'll be able to convince someone to lend you that money, because, after all, being (and staying) rich is so easy, and so profitable, that you should pay it all back easily!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's that thing in Scorpio

Every now and again you may see that urban legend about Mars making a remarkably close pass to Earth, including the claim that it will "look as large as the full moon". I think I have some excellent material to fan the flames of the next such flurry of recycled email forwards:

Of course observant readers will realize that this is not Mars, but the Moon, during the June 2011 lunar eclipse.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spot the difference

I don't see much evidence of changing the racial voting patterns, at least not here in Cape Town. These results still look more like a racial census than like the results of an election in a mature democracy.

ANC-won wards with more than 90%:
  • 33 92.69
  • 34 94.66
  • 38 91.89
  • 39 91.07
  • 40 94.85
  • 87 93.07
  • 89 94.76
  • 90 92.34
  • 91 94.32
  • 92 92.09
  • 93 90.29
  • 94 90.87
  • 95 93.43
  • 96 90.43
  • 97 92.05
  • 98 94.52
  • 108 93.24
DA-won wards with more than 90%:
  • 1 95.11
  • 2 92.63
  • 3 94.96
  • 5 96.98
  • 8 94.27
  • 15 94.76
  • 21 96.06
  • 23 95.33
  • 54 91.57
  • 58 91.62
  • 59 91.18
  • 62 92.42
  • 64 92.37
  • 70 95.64
  • 73 94.66
  • 84 94.07
  • 102 94.98
  • 103 95.45
Notice anything? Maybe if I show you what those ward numbers correspond to:

  • 33 92.69 Philippi (east Of Vanguard, South Of Sheffield) - Weltevreden Valley (north Of R300, West Of Robert Sobukhwe)
  • 34 94.66 Philippi (northern Section, South Of Sheffield, East Of Amsterdam And West Of New Eisleben)
  • 38 91.89 Guguletu (east Of Ny1/m47, South Of Ny3, South-east Of Nyibiba) – Nyanga (south Of Terminus And West Of Ananwabisi)
  • 39 91.07 Nyanga (north Of Terminus, E Mjodo) - Crossroads (north-west Of New Eisleben)
  • 40 94.85 Gugulethu (east Of Ny1/m47, North Of Klipfontein) - Crossroad (west Of Borchards Quarry, North Of Klipfontein)
  • 87 93.07 Ikwezi Park Washington Square - Driftsands (south Of N2, East Of R300) - Mxolisi Phetani (north-west Section)
  • 89 94.76 Driftsands - Mxolisi Phetani ( South-east Of Maphongwana) - Njongo, Solomon Tshuku - Ngonyana And North-west Of Maphelo Street) - Monqubela (small Northern Section)
  • 90 92.34 Bongani - Khayelitsha (swartklip Area, Just Off Mew Way) - Mxolisi Phetani (south Of Maphelo And Nyandeni Roads) - Victoria Mxengene (north Of Sigwele, East Of Tandazo Up To Gwayi, West Of Bangiso And North Of Ciko)
  • 91 94.32 Barney Molokwana Corner - Driftsands (section South Of N2) - Nonqubela (north Of Ntungele, Stanford Mateyise And Nyathi Street) - Victoria Mxenge (east Of Bangiso, North Of Cosa And South Of Ciko)
  • 92 92.09 Khaya - Khayelitsha (eastern Part) - Victoria Mxenge (south Of Sigwele, Gwayi And Cosa)
  • 93 90.29 Barney Molokwana Corner (southern Section) – Driftsands (north Of Spine Road) – Eyethu (northeast Of Lubelwana Street) – Sabata Dalindyebo Square – Silwertown – Site B South – K (phase 1 & 2) – L M N Section
  • 94 90.87 Ekuphumleni - Eyethu - Graceland (north Of Mississippi) - Llitha Park (east Of Ntlazane Road) - Khaya (south Of Makebeni Road) - Mandela Park - Nonqubela (south Of Nyathi Avenue) - Victoria Mxenge (small Portion On Eastern Side)
  • 95 93.43 Kuyasa - Makhaza (31-40 Section) - Nkanini, South Of Hempe & Makhulu, East Of Futha)
  • 96 90.43 Umrhabulo Triangle (east Of Ngqusha Crescent, North Of Gximfiza Crescent, East Of Nyanda Avenue, North Of Hempe & Makhulu, West Of Futha)
  • 97 92.05 Driftsands (south Of N2, Spine Road) - Graceland (south Of Mississippi) - Griffiths Mxenge - Mandela Park - Umrhabulo Triangle (west Of Steve Tshwete, North Of Lansdowne, West Of Nyanga, 44 & 45 Section)
  • 98 94.52 Llitha Park (west Of Ntlanzana Street) - Harare (south Of Ntlazane, North Of Mew Way) - Mandela Park (south Of Ntlazane)
  • 108 93.24
  • 1 95.11 De Duin - Kaapzicht - Kleinbosch - Monte Vista - N1 City - Panorama - Plattekloof - Plattekloof Glen - Sonnendal - Welgelegen - Tygerdal
  • 2 92.63 Avondale - Bellville Cbd - Belvedere - Bosbell - Boston - Churchill Estate - Clamhall - De Tujger - Fairfield Estate - Glenlily - Oakdale - Oostersee Bellville - Oosterzee Parow - Parow North - Vredelust
  • 3 94.96 Belgravia - Bellair - Bloemhof - Bloemmendal - Blomtuin - Bo Oakdale - Chrismar - Groenvallei - Heemstede - Joubert Park - La Rochelle - Loumar - Meyerhof - Oakdale - Oakglen - Ridgeworth - Shirley Park - Stellenridge - Stikland Hospitaal - Stikland Industrial Area - Thalman - Vredenberg - Stikland - La Belle - Vredenberg - De La Hey
  • 5 96.98 Bothasig - Edgemead
  • 8 94.27 Annandale - Archenfield - Botfontein Smallholdings - Bottelary Smallholdings - Bracken Heights - Brackenfell Central - Brackenfell South - Brandwag - Brantwood (north Of Freesia And Joubert Streets) - De Oude Spruit - Edenpark - Ferndale - Haasendal - Hoogstede - Kaapsig - Klaradyn - Kuilsriver Golf Course - Louisvale - Mabille Park - Marinda Park (east Section) - Morgen Gronde - Normandie Estate - Protea Heights (west Of Keurboom, South Of Protea), Protea Village - Rouxville - Ruwari (west Of Eland) - Soneike I - Soneike Ii - Sonnekuil Springbokpark (west Of Frans Conradie Drive) - Valleisicht
  • 15 94.76 Croydon - Macassar - Firgrove - Heldervue - Kramat - Somerset Ridge - Sandvlei
  • 21 96.06 Aurora - Betanie - Chanteclair - Durbanvale - Durbanville Proper - Durbanville Hills - Durbell - Everglen - Eversdal - Eversdal Heights - Glen Ive - Natures Valley - Nerina - Okennedyville - Rosendal - Rosenpark - Stellenberg - Stellenryk - Valmary Park - Vergesig - Vygeboom - Wairoa
  • 23 95.33 Melkbosstrand - Duynefontain - Van Riebeeckstrand - Atlantic Beach Estate - Bloubergstrand - West Beach - Bloubergrant - Blouberg Rise - Blouberg Sands - Sunningdale - Klein Zoute Rivier - Morningstar - Vissershok - Frankdale
  • 54 91.57 Mouille Point - Three Anchor Bay - Majority Of Green Point - Sea Point - Western Part Of Signal Hill / Lions Head - Fresnaye - Bantry Bay - Foreshore (between Dock And Portswood Roads) - Robben Island
  • 58 91.62 Mowbray – Rosebank – Rondebosch – Claremont – Kenilworth – All “below The Line” – Harfield Village
  • 59 91.18 Claremont (west Of Railway Line) - Kenilworth (west Of Railway Line, South Of Baronrath Street) - Newlands (east Of Union Avenue, North Of Paradise Road) - Rondebosch (mostly West Of Camp Ground Road) - Rosebank (south Of Hope Road, West Of Railway Line) - Table Mountain National Park (sections)
  • 62 92.42 Bishopscourt - Constantia (north Of Klein Constantia Road, Willow And East Of M3) - Newlands (west Of Newlands Avenue, South Of Paradise Road) - Plumstead (northern Half) - Table Mountain (sections) - Wynberg (west Of Railway Line) - Wynberg Nu
  • 64 92.37 Lakeside – Muizenberg – Seawinds – St James – Kalk Bay - Coniston Park - Hillview - Vrygrond – Marina Da Gama - Sunrise Beach
  • 70 95.64 Door De Kraal - Door De Kraal Farm - Hoheizen - Kenridge (bellville) - Kenridge (durbanville) - Loevenstein - Niew Maastrecht 1 - New Maastrecht 2 - Oude West Hof - Protea Valley Rural - Selborne - Springfield - Stellenbosch University - Tygervalley - Van Riebeecks Hof - Waterfront - Waterkloof De Bron Ext 44 - Welgedacht - Welgemoed - Kanonberg
  • 73 94.66 Bergvliet (west Of Airlie, Jeffcoat) – Constantia (west Of M3) – Diep River – Meadowridge – Plumstead (southern Half)
  • 84 94.07 Somerset West - The Links - Steynsrust - Spanish Farm - Helena Heights - Die Wingerd - Bell Aire - Parel Vallei - Land En Zeezicht - Monte Serino - Helderberg Village - Briza
  • 102 94.98 Arauna - Brackenfell Central - Cape Gate - Kleinbron - Morgenster - Morgenster Heights - Okavango Park - Peerless Park North - Scottsville - St Michaels - Vredekloof - Vredekloof Glen - Vredekloofrand - Vredekloof Heights - Welgelee - Brackenfell North - Chamonix - Windsor Estate - Windsor Park - Malborough Park
  • 103 95.45 Amanda Glen - Bonnie Brook - Brighton Road (up To Aristea Primary School) - Durbanville Golf Course - Durbanville Meadows - Durbanville Sport Grounds - Eversdal (small Portion) - Goedemoed - Holland View - Kraaifontein Sport Grounds - Langeberg Ridge - Langeverg Village - Langeberghoogte - Langeberg Ridge - Morningstar - Pinehurst - Rosedale - Sonstraal - Sonstraal Heights - Tarra - Uitzicht - Wellway Park East - Zoo Park

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Failure" of capitalism

It seems to be popular these days to mention the "failure of capitalism", when referring to the global financial crisis of 2008. Well, I'd rather live in a capitalist system than any other system I've heard of so far. Here's what I think of the "failure" (downward spikes) of capitalism:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Budget Insurance Brokers

"Imagine paying R341 less for insurance every month. With Budget Insurance Brokers, you could! Reply YES to quote. STOP to opt out. Std SMS rates apply.FSP# 15260"

Sender: +27877555211

Hey you retards, I never opted in, so I won't spend even R1 on sending you the "STOP" you tell me to send to opt "out". (More like confirming that the number on their database is live.) How about this, Budget Insurance Brokers: you give me R1000 and I'll delete this post. Email STOP to opt out. Emails charged at R1000 per deletion request.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If this is "sexism" then we have come a long way

Carla Schroder accuses Mark Shuttleworth of making exclusionary and sexist comments at some LinuxCon a few years back.

I spent 5 seconds looking for a "comment on this article" link or button, didn't find it, so decided to write my response here. Disclaimer: I'm feeling too lazy to do a properly researched post, so I didn't look at the video, nor did I search the Internet for any more info about this conference.

90% of Carla's quotes relate to the use of the word "guys" where, I guess, she would have preferred a more PC gender-neutral pronoun. To me, "guys" is plenty gender-neutral enough. The fact that Mark adds an "or girl" in one instance means only that in that moment, the idea that his speech circuits rendered as "guy" was a more gender-specific one, to represent male developers, specifically. I can't read Mark's mind, but I find it astonishing to read exclusionism into his regular use of "guys". I bet 99.9999% of his audience was male. There's no fly in this soup.

As for "grandma" and "mom": it's a common Internet idiom. It is so hackneyed that in this context, "grandma" doesn't even mean grandma anymore. Perhaps there is sexism behind, or even in, the origin of the idiom. Why have and are women so consistently been rendered technologically incompetent - that is the sexism here, not the act of remarking on the existence of the pattern. The fact that your mom is 400 times less likely to be able to repair a computer than your dad is a result of sexism, but reflections of that fact in the popular lexicon are merely a sort of Huffman encoding of reality in our language. (I clearly don't believe that gendered words promote sexism as directly as Carla seems to believe.)

If you're a guy, and you're involved with software development in some way, have you ever tried "explaining to a girl what you actually do"? If you're anything like me, you meet girls socially rather than professionally (because, this much is true, there are a million men in programming for every woman), so the ones you meet are unlikely to know much about software development (strangely, so often they seem to be in advertising, or marketing, or publishing, and we don't hear about "sexism" in the sex ratios among school teachers), and you'll have a gnostic understanding of what Mark meant here.

If we are to take this (over)use of "guys" as a sign of what "sexism" means in the modern world, then I think we have come a long, long way. It must mean we have fried the bigger fish of lingering glass ceilings, of female genital mutilation in some countries, and of the near certainty of mothers winning custody disputes over their children against the fathers. Yes, that too is sexism.

Finally: Carla, humans are sexual beings. We make jokes based on sexual innuendo, we make jokes based on the mating dance, and the pursuit of sex colours much of what we do, however indirectly. Deal with it. Now move on, please. I do not wish to live in your sterile, PC world.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another "racist email" farce?

Is this another one of those cynical distractions from some real issue? I refer to the "racist email" sent by some Otto Botha in the Aveng Group.

My bet is that this was just a stupid lapse of judgement, for which Mr Botha will pay dearly. I don't necessarily believe that this email betrays any particularly virulent strain of racism. Instead I believe that it's just another case of some random Afrikaner half hankering for some past that never really was, who is socially surrounded by people just like him, so he doesn't get the corrective feedback that would have prevented this turn of events. Just look at that list of executive managers: 14 of those 15 are lily-white - which one of them is likely to reply to some random politically-incorrect joke he trots out on Monday morning, pointing out that it's really uncool? Where on the list of priorities do you think "Be my colleagues' PC nanny" appears?

Should his head roll? I'm not sure about that. I am sure that there should be some form of punishment; after all, he is a leader in a company - a symbol, if you like, of what that company values, and symbols have meaning. But should he be forced out? That's less clear to me. I think Dr Hadebe is right to confront Mr Botha, and Aveng, but I think he overanalyzes the content of the email. IMHO it's just a stupid email sent in a stupid moment by a man who should know better.

I would like to see a more nuanced discourse on racism in the South African political economy. I'd like to see a distinction between this sort of overt offensiveness (that I hesitate to call "racism" - when my white friends tell these sort of "jokes" they seem to me more like toilet humour than a genuine expression of their beliefs), and the covert racism that you can really only notice if you're at the receiving end, or if you reduce it all to numbers, or pay closer attention to your surroundings than what narrow self-interest demands. Like when all the white staff at one of our offices has keys to the office, but "there are no spare keys left" when a non-white colleague joins. Or when my first instinct is to believe a white guy who asks me for gas money, but to expect the lone black executive among the 15 to be an "affirmative action appointment". Having a mini media storm every few years about some stupid emailed joke distracts us from the real issue.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There must be justice!

It seems I am not the only one who is getting a lot more attention from DirectAxis than I would like. There must be consequences. Not all of these ideas will stop the fake cheques, but just thinking about them should give some satisfaction.
  • Google-bomb them. If anyone searches for DirectAxis, the search results should point everywhere other than their cutesy website.
  • Find out the CEO's cellphone number (for extra credit, his wife's also), and use that when signing in at building security desks. (I suspect that's one way the "databases" get your info.) Use it also when anyone "needs" your phone number. This is probably not legal, so don't do it.
  • Weld their gates shut. Don't do this either!
  • If they include business reply envelopes (I haven't even opened their crap, I should really check this out), cram it full of "valuable marketing material" and "business correspondence" you've received from other "respected vendors" (read: other junk mail), and pop it in the mail.
  • Call them, and take as much of the call centre staff's time as you possibly can. If economic sadism is your thing, you'll enjoy it, meaning it would be a good use of your time, and the call will cost them (staff costs, opportunity costs, not so much call costs - you bear those) more than it costs you. Use it as practice for sarging women (as most of the pit crew seem to be). My record is 25 minutes on an incoming junk call.
I really should add a link to my FV / PV calculators to make this post more relevant to DirectAxis's business.

Friday, January 21, 2011


In 2050 I'll be an old man. These are my expectations:

  • The Chinese will have sent humans to the moon.
  • A manned mission to Mars will be Real Soon Now.
  • We'll have strong evidence for life on some number of extrasolar planets, but I doubt we could conclusively tell if that life was "intelligent" or not.
  • We'll have some blotchy extrasolar planet surface images, once we build a Luciola-class hypertelescope.
  • The kernel (name unknown) will be many gigabytes of C source, taking a whole minute to compile.
  • C will still be a "dying language". Java who? Oh that's those old guys who work for insurance companies?
  • Rich people will be able to live essentially forever, through pharmaceutical / surgical interventions.
  • Most cancers will be manageable. You'll expect to die from something other than cancer even when diagnosed with it. Getting a cancer diagnosis will be a bit like getting an HIV diagnosis today if you're in the first world: totally bummed, but you know life will go on for a while, as long as you keep taking your pills.
  • We'll have finally outgrown the x86 instruction set, except in some niche legacy-dependent contexts. A bit like the PDP-11's status now. I doubt that that means we'll be using amd64 instead, because I think we'll increasingly outgrow the need for instruction-level backwards compatibility. Most of your desktop apps will be implemented in an interpreted language, or perhaps in a JVM-style monitor.
  • There will be one or two asteroids we know we'll have to deflect at some point in the next 1000 years.
  • All of our deserts, and then some, will be covered in solar panels. Whether PV or solar thermal plant, I don't know - probably some equilibrium based on weather conditions.
  • Commercial fusion power will become available Real Soon Now.
  • We will, or will have, spent another order of magnitude of money on a moar biggerer particle accelerator.
  • Space cadets will still be dreaming about space elevators, while decrying the inefficiencies of chemical rockets, which somehow still just get the job done, and mostly reliably so.
  • Africa will be suffering a dozen or two civil wars, and most of its countries will be bad places to live: you'll be poor, exposed to crime, and basically every one of David Bullard's stereotypes will be proving themselves true.
  • We'll still be driving cars, albeit fewer of us, and we'll still be moaning about the price of fuel, yet we'll still drive 500m to the shop.