Sunday 21 May 2023

Deciphering Languages with ChatGPT-4: A Deep Dive You Can Take

 For French and Latin, I command ChatGPT-4 to give me both the IPA and translation of each word. This works to some degree with Latin and for French, which I have studied since about age 4. I find it very useful in language learning as IPA is my main bridge to language. It makes mistakes but it is useful. 

I say: For the following sentences, give the French IPA for each word in brackets and the English translation in brackets after it. i.e. French word (French IPA of French word)(English translation of French word) 2nd French word (French IPA of 2nd French word) (English translation of 2nd French word).

An alternative is:

Write a story about a genius adventurer who seeks treasure in exotic locations and engages in action and adventure and solves puzzles. Have the story be detailed. It need not finish at eash stage. Write the story in French, but for each word, next to it in brackets say the IPA pronunciation and then in brackets the English translation. i.e. French word (French IPA) (English translation of French word) Second French word (French IPA of second French word) (English translation of Second French word) etc.

Here is the start of its response to this:

Il (il) (He) était (etɛ) (was) une (yn) (a) fois (fwa) (once) un (œ̃) (a) génie (ʒeni) (genius) aventurier (avɑ̃tyʁje) (adventurer) nommé (nɔme) (named) Théophile (teofil) (Theophile). Théophile (teofil) (Theophile) recherchait (ʁəʃɛʁʃɛ) (sought) des (de) (some) trésors (tʁezɔʁ) (treasures) dans (dɑ̃) (in) des (de) (some) endroits (ɑ̃dʁwa) (locations) exotiques (ɛgzɔtik) (exotic), et (e) (and) s'engageait (sɑ̃ɡaʒɛ) (engaged in) dans (dɑ̃) (in) de (də) (of) l'action (laksjɔ̃) (action) et (e) (and) de (də) (of) l'aventure (lavɑ̃tyʁ) (adventure), résolvant (ʁezɔlvɑ̃) (solving) des (de) (some) énigmes (enigm) (puzzles).

Un (œ̃) (A) jour (ʒuʁ) (day), Théophile (teofil) (Theophile) reçut (ʁesy) (received) une (yn) (a) carte (kaʁt) (map) mystérieuse (misteʁjøz) (mysterious) indiquant (ɛ̃dikɑ̃) (indicating) l'emplacement (lɑ̃plasəmɑ̃) (location) d'un (dœ̃) (of a) trésor (tʁezɔʁ) (treasure) caché (kaʃe) (hidden) au (o) (in) cœur (kœʁ) (heart) d'une (dyn) (of a) île (il) (island) tropicale (tʁɔpikal) (tropical).

Can this be done with other languages you know or are learning? How well does it do?

Friday 21 April 2023

Life sentence for repeated drunk driver

Christopher Stanford, a 50-year-old man from Texas, has been handed a life sentence after his ninth conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Stanford opted for a jury to decide his sentence following his guilty plea to the latest DWI charge. His eight previous DWI convictions spanned four other counties within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, resulting in four prison sentences.

The jury deemed Stanford a habitual offender, significantly influencing their decision to impose a life sentence. Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain justified the sentence, stating that Stanford would continue to pose a danger to communities if not incarcerated. Stanford's most recent offence involved running a red light and causing a traffic accident with minor injuries to a family before attempting to flee the scene.

Found hiding in vegetation, Stanford demonstrated difficulty standing and aggressive behaviour, including headbutting an emergency worker. He refused a roadside sobriety test but consented to a blood test after his arrest, revealing an alcohol concentration of 0.267, over three times Texas' legal limit of 0.08. The jury took 90 minutes to decide on a life sentence after Stanford testified that he was "very unlucky," which the Assistant District Attorney regarded as a lack of personal insight and concern for others' safety on the roads.

Stanford will be eligible for parole once his time served and good time credit reaches 15 years. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will have the authority to release him from prison. 


Wednesday 19 April 2023

Do Irish Judges Rely on Wikipedia? New Study Strongly Disputes Previous Findings

High Court judges in Ireland have welcomed new research, co-authored by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, which strongly contradicts a previous study which had claimed that Wikipedia influences judicial decision-making in the country. 

Last year, a paper claimed that the creation of a Wikipedia article on a Supreme Court case led to a 25% increase in its citations in subsequent Irish court cases, and identified an alleged "textual similarity" between the Wikipedia articles and the judgments. Judges strongly questioned these findings at the time.

Mr Justice Humphreys and a team of current and former judicial assistants have conducted new research, which they claim exposes flaws in the original study. 

A summary article has been published in the Irish Law Times, and the full paper submitted to the Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence. 

Mr Justice Humphreys stated that what he saw as the original paper's issues stem from both a flawed experiment and flawed speculation as to the meaning of the results. He asserted that public trust in the legal system should not be undermined by what he termed to be poor research. 

The president and other judges of the High Court have welcomed the new findings.


Shifting Sands: When Political Speech Meets Election Interference

A federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida, recently returned a superseding indictment charging four US citizens and three Russian nationals with working on behalf of the Russian government, and in conjunction with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), to conduct a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States. The Russian defendants are accused of recruiting, funding, and directing US political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government, sow discord, and spread pro-Russian propaganda. Indicted intelligence officers are also alleged to have covertly funded and directed candidates for local office in the US.

Authorities assert that these actions aimed to divide Americans and interfere in elections in the US. The Department of Justice has stated it will not hesitate to expose and prosecute those who sow discord and corrupt US elections in service of hostile foreign interests, regardless of whether they are US citizens or foreign individuals abroad.

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to directly and substantially influence democratic elections in the US by clandestinely funding and directing the political campaign of a particular candidate for local office in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2019. Ionov and Popov are alleged to have planned to extend their election interference plot beyond the 2019 local election cycle in St. Petersburg, and subsequently discussed that the “USA Presidential election” was the FSB’s “main topic of the year.”

Ionov is alleged to have engaged in a years-long foreign malign influence campaign targeting the United States, recruiting members of political groups within the country to participate in the influence campaign and act as agents of Russia in the US. These groups include the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement (APSP) in Florida, Black Hammer in Georgia, and a political group in California.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald commented on the case, expressing concerns about implications of the indictment on freedom of speech and a potential effect on political activism. He alleged that American black leftist groups and activists were being charged with felonies in the cases, for posting memes and other political content against the war in Ukraine, allegedly on behalf of Russia.

Greenwald showcased a video of a Ukraine peace rally, featuring Omali Yeshitela, a leader of one of the groups.

Across the aisle, a recent conviction of a Donald Trump supporter for tweets made during the 2016 election, along with the current indictments on the left, suggest sanctions for certain political speech and expression, such as memes and tweets, may become more common.


Sunday 26 February 2023

South Africa collapse: With the USA embassy warning its citizens, we thought to ask an AI

 South Africa's Stage 8.

If South Africa has hit stage 8 load shedding in 2023, what does that imply?


Load shedding is a controlled power outage implemented by a power utility company when there is insufficient power supply to meet the demand. In South Africa, load shedding is measured on a scale of stages from 1 to 8, with stage 1 being the least severe and stage 8 being the most severe.

If South Africa were to hit stage 8 load shedding in 2023, it would imply that the country is experiencing an extreme power shortage, and the power utility company is unable to generate enough electricity to meet the demand. This could be due to various reasons, such as aging power infrastructure, lack of investment in new power generation capacity, or unexpected events such as extreme weather conditions or unplanned power plant outages.

Stage 8 load shedding would have a significant impact on businesses and individuals, as it would result in prolonged power outages and disruptions to daily life. It could also have severe economic consequences, as businesses would be forced to shut down, resulting in job losses and a decline in productivity.

What else would it mean?


In addition to the impacts on businesses, individuals, and the economy, hitting stage 8 load shedding in South Africa in 2023 would likely indicate a broader failure of the country's energy system and infrastructure. It would suggest that the government and energy authorities have not adequately planned for or invested in energy security, resulting in a vulnerable and unstable power supply.

The situation could also lead to social and political unrest, as residents and businesses become frustrated with the extended power outages and lack of reliable energy supply. This could put pressure on the government and energy authorities to find solutions quickly, potentially leading to policy changes or increased investment in energy infrastructure.

Furthermore, stage 8 load shedding could have ripple effects throughout the region, as South Africa is a major economic and political power in Southern Africa. Neighboring countries that rely on South Africa for electricity imports could experience their own power shortages as a result, potentially exacerbating regional economic and political instability.

Overall, hitting stage 8 load shedding in South Africa in 2023 would have significant implications for the country's economy, society, and political stability, as well as for the wider region. It would signal a need for urgent action to address energy security and ensure a stable and reliable power supply for the future.

Media says South Africa has twice hit stage 8 in the last few days, that is, by shedding over 7000 MW of electricity. Eskom confirms the amount but did not inform the public of the stage, rather just shedding that amount. Is this cause for concern. 


Yes, the fact that South Africa has twice hit stage 8 load shedding in the last few days, resulting in the shedding of over 7000 MW of electricity, is cause for significant concern. Stage 8 load shedding is the most severe level of load shedding in South Africa, indicating a severe shortage of electricity supply and an inability to meet the demand. It suggests that the power utility company, Eskom, is struggling to keep up with the energy needs of the country, and that there are serious issues with the country's energy infrastructure.

The fact that Eskom did not inform the public of the stage of load shedding, and only disclosed the amount of electricity being shed, could also be a cause for concern. It may suggest that the company is not being transparent about the severity of the situation, which could undermine public trust and confidence in the company's ability to manage the energy crisis.

The impacts of stage 8 load shedding on businesses, individuals, and the economy as a whole can be severe, leading to job losses, reduced productivity, and potential economic recession. It can also have health and safety implications, such as increased risk of crime, fires, and accidents.

Therefore, it is important for the government and energy authorities to take urgent action to address the energy crisis in South Africa, investing in new energy infrastructure, improving energy efficiency, and diversifying the country's energy mix to ensure a stable and reliable power supply for the future.

How should the US embassy warning US citizens in South Africa to stock up at least 72 hours of food and water in case and to be alert for civil unrest be viewed?


The US embassy warning US citizens in South Africa to stock up on at least 72 hours of food and water in case of civil unrest should be viewed as a serious indication of the current security situation in the country. The warning suggests that there may be a risk of civil unrest or other security threats that could lead to disruptions in essential services such as food and water supplies.

It is not uncommon for embassies to issue travel warnings or security alerts in response to potential security threats in the countries they serve. In this case, the US embassy is advising US citizens in South Africa to take precautions and be prepared in case of an emergency situation.

It is important to note that this warning is not specific to US citizens and may apply to other foreign nationals and South African citizens as well. The warning highlights the importance of staying informed about the local security situation, following guidance from local authorities, and taking appropriate precautions to ensure personal safety and security.

In summary, the US embassy warning to stock up on food and water and be alert for civil unrest should be taken seriously and viewed as an indication of the current security situation in South Africa. It is important for all individuals, both foreign nationals and South African citizens, to take appropriate precautions and stay informed about the local security situation.

Wednesday 1 June 2022

Johnny Depp should be at least $8.3 million richer, in theory, today!

 Johnny Depp has won his case, with $15 million awarded to him, for Amber Heard's defamatory and false claims of physical and sexual violence, with her in turn winning $2 million for a defamatory statement by his agent. 

That sees Johnny Depp walking away richer with at least $8.3 million winnings from the trial, after possible reductions. 

As a prominent American lawyer, Jonathan Turley, says:

'Depp walks away with a far greater victory in the rejection of Heard's allegations.  ...

'...Depp was only found guilty for the statement of his agent. The jury also rejected any punitive award for that agent. With the reduction, Depp can walk with $10,3000,000. Again, the court can consider a reduction of the award under remittitur.

'...Even if Heard's award stands, that still means that Heard is hit with an $8,300,000. Even though the punitive award was statutorily reduced, it showed that the jury not only disbelieved Heard but sought to impose added penalties in light of her conduct.

'...When I teach defamation, we often discuss how much of these cases turn on credibility judgments. Here the jury clearly saw little credibility in Heard and an abundance of culpability...

'...We also discuss in torts how rare punitive awards are in the United States despite the public perception. Punitive damages are awarded in only around one percent of cases.'

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, criminal defense attorney, and legal analyst, 1 June 2022, on his Twitter account.

Another well known lawyer, Will Chamberlain, Senior Counsel for the IAP, Article III Project and UnsilencedOrg, meanwhile, referenced specific evidence presented during the trial and ripped apart Amber Heard's statement in which she alleged the trial set women (rather than her) back — he said:

'Amber Heard was on tape admitting to hitting Johnny Depp and daring him to accuse her of domestic abuse and it STILL took an immense amount of money and years of litigation for Depp to clear his name

'"This sets back women"

'[ ... I]f you can avoid beating up your husband, admitting it on tape, and then writing op-eds claiming that *he* was the abuser, you'll be fine' 

Addressing incorrect claims Amber Heard could use bankruptcy to escape the verdict, Robert Barnes, a high profile trial lawyer noted,

'Bad news for #AmberHeard -- Bankruptcy Code Section 523(a)(6) prevents a debtor from obtaining the discharge of any debt for “willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another." In other words, her $8M+ debt to #JohnnyDepp must be paid in full, and cannot be discharged by BK.'

Tuesday 4 January 2022

South African parliament burns. Man middle-named 'Christmas' arrested.

Zandile Christmas Mafe is the man who is alleged to have burnt down South Africa's National Assembly house of parliament. 

He is charged with housebreaking, arson, theft, and seemingly contravention of the Explosives Act. 

Usually, in such matters, government Legal Aid would represent an accused person who cannot pay. However, a private attorney has taken the matter without charging. 

Mafe is being represented free of charge (pro bono) by Luvuyo Godla, a high profile lawyer best known for regularly representing the marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in their most important matters. Usually, legal aid will be provided by the government Legal Aid board where potential clients can't pay. Attorneys traditionally also all do some pro bono work each year, how much, depending on their appetite for such cases, and which cases they choose to take on.

Godla's prolific clients, the EFF, however, are unlikely to object to his, free of charge, representing the accused arsonist. The EFF has long called for parliament to be moved from Cape Town, and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi called the fire a 'beautiful fire', while top EFF parliamentarian, Floyd Shivambu called the burnt down parliament 'colonial' and called for it not to be repaired and to be moved from Cape Town.

Zandile Mafe has pleaded not guilty.

Saturday 25 December 2021

Money from nothing: how banks can loan money they don't have any access to

Fractional reserve banking, and leverage based paper loans where the cash doesn't have to exist.


The money you've taken on loan - from the bank - doesn't actually exist. The bank - when it loans out money to you - simply does some accounting entries recording: the amount which was paid over to you, perhaps in your account, and the amounts which it would need to have in case it ever needed to actually pay that money.

A sort of deposit is entered, of sorts, within their books, but banks don't actually need deposits in order to loan. They, in fact, very rarely actually need any actual money.

Let's put it this way. Let's say that you have an account at a bank and someone you want to pay has an account at the bank. The bank doesn't actually have to have any money on them in order to transfer money from your account into theirs, or vice versa. And banks, to transfer money from one another, they they don't like to have to physically transfer cash around and it would be quite cumbersome to transfer it every single day, back and forth, whatever is owed, between the banks ... And so, banks generally will either have an account with other local banks in the area, or with their local reserve bank, or some third-party bank.

And so, when money is transferred from one bank to another, all that really happens is an accounting equation where the account of the other bank is credited or debited and both banks do this sort of thing, saying that this or that bank therefore owes this-that-bank this much, and as transfers go back and forth between the banks, the amounts are probably not going to get too large between them unless there's some great inequality between the different banks.

And banks very seldom will actually want to call upon the money which is loaned, for the simple reason that keeping money is expensive. Storing it. Making it safe. This is why certain banks can get away with negative interest rates, where other banks will keep the money in them, and they know that the money is actually safe, and so they'd rather pay the negative interest rate, for the money to be safe, than have to store the money themselves, and keep it safe.

Now, this whole process simply shows you that a bank is able to do most of the business it does without actual money ever needing to be seen. The money which a bank will keep in an ATM, or the like, would be much like stock, and inventory, that a store keeps. Just as a store might restock milk or cheese within their store, or erasers, or whatever it would be - the bank stores money in its ATMs, for people to be able to use, and that money is there for if it ever needs to be drawn, and a bank will also have processes where it can transfer money - real money, or cheques, to other banks, or other institutions.

Now, this is where we get beyond the fact that a bank is not merely an intermediary. Now, an example which might help in understanding this goes back to the idea of the goldsmith, or even to temples which were keeping money - the sort of money changers at a temple. Now, in the ancient world you might want to keep your gold in the vault of the goldsmith, and so you put the gold in and he'd give you a sort of certificate saying this is the amount of gold which you have, and you can take that certificate to go and withdraw the gold at any stage you want.

The chances are you don't really want to withdraw that gold, and you might also have that certificate for a lesser amount, and use that certificate as though it were the gold - handing it over to someone else as a sort of bearer bond where they can then go and take the gold.

But they might not actually want to take the gold. Gold's heavy. It's cumbersome. People might steal it. So, they, in turn, might use that money as a sort of bearer bond. And, what you're starting to see is the equivalent of bank issued currency. This sort of currency, which would have existed in the earliest times of banks, where the paper currency which is issued is issued by the bank itself, and backed up by the gold in its vaults.

But banks, or goldsmiths, or whatever else it would be, got quite clever. They realized that they could actually loan money out of the money which they have in their stores, and people would pay interest for that.

Now, the earliest type of bank interest was in fact late fees for money being loaned, because banks had to get around the equivalent of usury laws, and so you'd be paying the fees. If you didn't, if you paid the money back immediately, without ever paying the fees, then you probably wouldn't be loaned money again.

So, you have this sort of banking system, but should they actually loan out the actual gold in the vaults, or should they instead simply write this, sort of, same sort of cheques of sorts, the sort of certificate saying: this amount of money is due you from the vaults - when they loan the money ... And, that person, in turn, could pay that money over to someone else, and so forth.

The banks realized they only had to keep a certain amount of money in their actual vaults at any given time. They could in fact loan a lot more money than was in the vaults. They could get away with not actually having the money there. And, you automatically assume, if you actually have money in your bank account: that's not money that's yours. The money becomes the bank's. But then .. you ... the bank has a liability to pay back that money, on demand, usually, but sometimes at different rates, and times. And you assume that's because the bank is going to be loaning that money out to other people, so you already have that sort of awareness.

Now, bank runs were a big problem before reserve banks - and that's the idea that all the customers of a bank might come through and demand their money, and the bank simply doesn't have enough money to pay them back.

And the solution to this might be that the bank, on that day, loans money from another bank, who loans at a relatively low rate to them, and they're able to pay the money out. And eventually you have a specialist bank called a reserve bank, which specializes in loaning money to banks when they need it, in a pinch. Which is why, if you have an especially large amount you need to withdraw, the bank actually needs a certain amount of time to do it. Because, chances are, they're ordering that money from a reserve bank, or another bank, or else their vaults somewhere else in the world.

Now, the SWIFT banking system is quite interesting. That's the international banking system. All it does is - it has certain codes: a code for the bank , a code for the country of the bank, a code for the city of the bank, the sort of bank identifier code ... identification code ... and then you have the IBAN, the international bank account number, or the equivalent of that, for the customer ... And you have the address of the bank, and so forth, which gets entered into the system. And what really happens is that the system finds a bank which has an account for both of the banks involved, and the one account gets credited, the other debited. The money doesn't actually transfer.

And, if you try to take physical money out of a country, often, you're limited to something like 10 000 dollars or 10 000 euros that you're allowed to take in - or it might be seized by customs on your arrival. So, money - physical money - is quite restricted. And in certain countries they even have moved to ban withdrawals for more than 10 000 dollars, or euros, or whatever it would be, being withdrawn physically from the bank.

And so most of the time that money is not actually needed by the bank - physically - and when it is needed, they can simply loan it from a reserve bank. And so, when a bank writes a loan to you, they're literally writing it down in their books. They don't actually have to have the money. And, if at any time they do need to have the money to satisfy some or other demand, they can loan the money at a relatively low rate from other banks, or from a reserve bank, and if you have deposits with them, they loan the money from you at an even lower rate, which gives them a beneficial sort of deal - that they don't have to pay as much.

And this is also why a country will determine the rate of inflation by determining the rate at which the reserve bank will loan to other banks. Because, the higher the rate of interest that is demanded by the reserve bank, the higher the rate which will be demanded by the banks of their customers, and so that fewer people will loan money.

Now, there's an example - you can have - of Jack and John. Jack and John each have one dollar, but they each need a hundred dollars' worth of services from the other one. So, Jack pays John and John pays Jack, and so forth, until they've actually spent a hundred dollars with that one dollar. That's sort of the frequency of money, and that sort of makes each of those one dollars actually worth a hundred dollars in the impact of what they do.

But let's say that you are paid a hundred dollars for a day's work. Would you do another hour's work on top of that for another dollar, or would you demand a larger amount? The more money you have, the more you demand. And, let's say that you're able to loan money from a bank - money which doesn't actually exist - in order to buy a house. Now, if you have that - more money - you're able to spend more on buying that house, and so the price of the house will go up, because people will be competing. So, inflation goes up.

In the case of Jack and John, if they were to actually have to pay 10% tax for each transaction, the amount they'd be able to spend would probably not be a hundred dollars, for the simple reason that: the second transaction, they'd only have 90 cents, and then 81 cents, and so forth, as they'd have to give the rest to the tax. So, taxation slows down the growth of an economy, and the use of money, and it also slows down inflation. While, things such as loaning by banks will increase growth in the economy, because there's more opportunity to use money and therefore more of what could be used.

For instance, Jack and John - if they just have one dollar and they're not doing any work - they're not producing anything. But, more of what can be produced, can be put to work, so banks are good in that sense. At the same time, the amounts that are used to put things to work can be in excess of what would be required for the money to keep its same value, and so the value of the money changes as a result of that.

And - fractional reserve banking - people have this idea that it's: oh, you keep 10 euros of what's in your accounts, gets kept by the bank, and the other 90 gets loaned out. But really what's happening is, their loans aren't dependent on your deposits. Their loans are dependent on all sorts of algorithms of how much they can loan out, and your deposits, and the reserve bank play a role in that. And, so, the money that the bank's loaning out isn't money that the bank actually owns. It's out of thin air, so to speak, and that's a very beneficial thing for an economy, though it's borrowing from the future, because that money doesn't actually exist. And, if you look at all of the money in existence and then you look at the actual GDP of countries you might find that the amount which exists and the amount which is owed and the amount which is actually spent are quite different and this is money which often doesn't actually exist but which can be put at a greater frequency to work.

And, this is also why - in the old days - things - partially why - in the old days - things like usury were seen as something bad, as something which could even be criminal, because if a bank is loaning money that doesn't actually exist, they reduce the worth of any money actually in circulation.

The euros in your pockets become worth less because a bank is able to loan say 100 million euros, which don't actually exist, and if you try to actually borrow money from a ... federal ... bank ... a federal reserve bank, or the like, you wouldn't actually be able to do it. Only banks can have accounts with that. And, for a bank to actually exist and to enter into the sort of system of writing up loans of money which doesn't exist, it actually generally has to have a certain amount of assets to its name, and often countries will restrict the amount that a bank can loan based on - it has to have this amount in its accounts, whether borrowed from a reserve bank, or from depositors - or a country will have restrictions on the amount a bank can loan based on its actual assets that the bank has, so its actual degree of leverage gets reined in a little bit.

And, the benefits obviously are huge. I mean, if you can take out a loan to buy a car, you have a car. You don't have to wait the amount of time to buy the car. The converse is that property prices and the prices of things like cars have gone up by massive amounts as a result of inflation and fractional reserve banking.

Ayn Rand famously said that inflation is theft by remote control ... uh sorry it's theft ... uh ... it's remote theft or something along those lines. The exact phrase I can't remember ... but essentially, by printing money ... In the Soviet Union, the government was taking away the value of the money that people had, and so it was seen as a sort of theft, and this is where the sort of extreme anger which people on the left might feel towards banking might come from, because they are loaning money which doesn't exist ...

But there's a great benefit at the same time - of banking in our economy - which is that it makes the economy more efficient. It means that people who would qualify for a loan can get that loan even though that money doesn't exist, and that frees up the economy, and it brings more prosperity, even though the price of that prosperity is - well, a rather strange one ...

Sunday 12 December 2021

Trouble in China: All is not well in the Middle Kingdom

From Evergrande, to the ill maintained and now unprofitable high speed train network, to rising authoritarianism, not all is well in the Middle Kingdom, and that could hurt the global supply chain and your own pocket.


China has a massive impact on your life. If you look at your cellular phone ahead of you, or your computer ahead of you, the chances it or part of it was manufactured in China are quite large. In fact, your keyboard, as well, your mouse, the chair you're sitting on could well even have been manufactured in China.

China is an integral part of the world economy, and when you hear about certain shipments being stuck on ships offshore and that being a reason why you can't get certain things to give to family for Christmas, you might also be unaware that a lot of that has to do with supply chains and to do with the fact that a lot of products are made in places like China. 

Now, that was quite controversial in the early 2000s when China had only just been admitted into the World Trade (trade) Organization. And the argument was that China would become better by trading with other nations, and it has pulled a lot of its people out of poverty through all of this trade, but the accusations of: slave labor, of poor human rights, of companies, which operate in China, not respecting the environment to the extent that the water becomes poisoned, the air becomes poisoned, and all sorts of problems emerge for communities who live there. So that their vegetables might make them sick, so that their water might make them sick, so that often the Chinese people have to drink water not from the taps but from a big plastic sort of containers which are used much like an office water cooler ... Which themselves might often simply be got from a local well which has been poisoned. 

And yet, businesses when they saw all this bad publicity continued to produce in China because one of the reasons why they were producing in China was to get rid of the effects of over-regulation. Especially if their competitors were producing, without less regulation, they needed to be more competitive and so they continued on.

But certain things have been happening in China which will have a great effect on the global economy as a result. You already might know about the supply crisis which is partially due to a lot of ships being scrapped during the pandemic, and to a rapid reopening where you don't actually have the supply lines in place, or the amount of bulk which is supposed to go through any longer. But you also have, in a place like China, you have whole cities put on rolling blackouts as less than enough coal is produced. You have strange things happening with the railways, and you have strange things happening with homes. China is a controlled economy, and a controlled information economy. What's happening in China, you often don't hear about anywhere else in the world. You only really hear about it if you know where to look and often even that is hushed up. 

And certain people have lived in China, certain westerners such as the people who run the ADV China channel which were adventure motorcyclists, who toured all of China - northern and southern China. And who also looked at the ghost cities built by certain now infamous construction companies. They looked and they saw these apartments which were built and when they touched them - they came apart, already, as though they're 40 years old when they were only a few years old. And they looked at them and they saw that there were things much like Styrofoam which were keeping it up. And that the concrete was massively substandard. In fact these buildings weren't designed to be lived in. 

When they looked for a place to buy, some of these westerners, they were told: don't buy investment properties. You won't be able to live in them. They're not safe. Buy properties which aren't investment ones. But even those often fall apart ... over ... after a few years, because there's not adequate maintenance of them, because during the cultural revolution in China the four olds were targeted. The old knowledge, the culture, the things which created a so-called 5000 year old Chinese history. Though China within those years was a lot of different little nations within where China is. But, nonetheless, that history was largely erased, and the famine also had a huge effect on China. 

But what China has done with infrastructure is quite concerning and it extends beyond property, beyond these massive ghost cities being built for investment purposes when China has a falling population and an aging population. So that these properties will never be required, and yet they're not built so to be lived in, nonetheless. 

And Evergrande is something which has hit the news, recently, but that has been discussed a lot by people who know China well before then ... Something else which is not hitting the news so much is the infrastructure problem ... is the lack of maintenance. In particular, China's famous high-speed train network, that was originally created as this great mastership stroke to show how great China is. 

A lot of what China does is about face, is about creating this impact of ... China is this great nation, this nation which is moving forward, this nation which is greater than the West or any other nation ... China lifting itself out of poverty ... to a degree that when China declared that poverty was combatted they shut down soup kitchens, despite the fact that the average Chinese person would be very poor by Western standards.

But back to the trains. China built its train network, and they built it as this masterpiece, and yet there was so much corruption around it, that they decided that they needed to offload it into a sort of semi-private type of company to run it. 

And to continue extending it, they did much like what South Africa did when it inherited the power stations from the previous government, which had produced way in excess of the needs of power stations. What they did is they started extending the grid to as far as they possibly could, to people who often couldn't afford to pay, and they made it unlawful for Eskom, the power company in South Africa, to disconnect people if they weren't paying or to disconnect at least the municipalities not paying ... To an extent that that cross subsidization which occurred hits a sort of problem, where electricity prices simply couldn't be raised enough to combat all the debt the company got into, and of course South Africa has rolling blackouts quite regularly and a electricity grid which is in great danger of being shut down altogether in the future. 

But in China they did the same thing. They took the trains and they started extending the lines beyond these big first tier cities, to smaller and smaller places. These very, very, fast, super-fast trains, which aren't good at carrying things such as cargo, but are good at carrying people very fast. And so people, instead of taking a bus or a taxi or a motorcycle to go from city to city, could take a train and of course local governments began banning motorcycles, which were the main form of transportation and severely restricting them and confiscating them, because they wanted to have different means of transport for people. 

And so you have these specific trains which are built and which extended further and further into unprofitable routes in order to push this whole idea of the rising China and the problem is that that cross subsidization, especially with the pandemic, began to become less and less effective until it became not effective at all, so that the railway lines are in massive financial trouble and they need a government bailout. 

Something else which is in massive financial trouble is the local government in China, which has largely relied on property, and control of it, and the ability to rent it out, or to use loans based on, it in order to provide local social services, which the main government was not able to. And these property prices were linked to the ability of these massive construction companies to produce all of their ghost towns, and to continue producing, and producing and producing. 

Now, the other side of the ghost towns, is that they're beneficial because you're allowed to get married in China once you have in fact bought property in a certain area, and if you have property in a certain area you're allowed social services there for you and your children. 

There's often talk about how China has a sort of Apartheid system, a system where the rural Chinese don't really have rights, and have to come into other parts of China almost unlawfully, almost illegally, until such time as they buy property there. And that's been massively abused by companies, of course.

But the buying of properties, properties which someone couldn't afford to pay off in their lifetime, became quite common in China. And, also, the problems with Chinese speculation in the stock market pushed more and more people into property, and pushed these prices really, really high up. And yet the buildings being built weren't worth anything, quite often, to live in, because they were simply building facades to be sold on, and on, and on. And even the ones which were built to be lived in were not properly maintained, quite often, which resulted in buildings losing their life quite rapidly.

Evergrande, the biggest, the most indebted, company, dealing with construction in China, would sell properties. And they would sort of have giveaways where they give you away a chicken if you want a property. 

The property was bought before it was constructed. Despite the fact that China has more than enough housing for everyone to live in, these new properties would be built, and it was almost like a pyramid scheme. You know, what was being sold wasn't actually worth much. It was simply a façade of a building, and if it was more than a façade, if it was an actual building, it wasn't necessarily going to last that long. And even if it did last that long, it wasn't really worth the very, very high prices of property in China. 

And when the government began to clamp down on this Evergrande got into massive, massive financial problems, and it's not just Evergrande. 

A lot of the biggest ... financial ... biggest property development, biggest construction companies, in China, are in the same position as Evergrande, or near it, and Fitch has stated that China ... that Evergrande missed a payment and are in default. Now, they've been paying late, but within the one month's grace period to their foreign investors, and foreign creditors, but this time they didn't. 

Now, it's thought that maybe they didn't because they've been ordered not to, by the Chinese government, that the Chinese government wants them to pay their local creditors rather than the foreign ones, first. And that's quite possible, but the problem is that increasingly we're told by the market that China is going to have to bail out Evergrande, which they have suggested they're not going to do. Though, if they do bail out Evergrande, there's a lot of other companies which also need bailing out, and, also, they have their national infrastructure to think of. The national infrastructure in China is quite in danger. The trains need to be bailed out as well. They possibly need to be nationalized, and at the same time as nationalized, they might need to begin ... begin maintaining the trains properly. 

And yet the whole approach of creating a façade almost like ... You have the old story of a toy manufacturer being told to manufacture medicines, or medical devices, and it was thought to be a great deal, except that the sigma involved for faults with toys is much higher than that for medical devices. And so you have things which look very great on the outside, with the toy manufacturer, but, not that great inside of it. Things which can break more easily. 

And what China's focused on is the outside, is the face, and, especially, under Xi Jinping, and his rule, which has centralized power, and which has increasingly gotten rid of dissenters, and people who might speak ill of anything in China or any people to do with the government. So much so, that you had a case with a tennis player where she appears to have been disappeared for accusing a former, essentially, Deputy Prime Minister, in China, of forcing her to do things she didn't want to do. 

But that focus on face, that focus on appearance rather than on what's below, it has created a massive problem within China. And that massive problem can extend to the rest of the world, because of how much of the world is so deeply invested in China and how much of what is produced is produced within China. 

And also because if China really does face the sort of social downfall and economic collapse which might come from the sort of pyramid scheme that has been so much of its growth in the last 20 years - that might be a very good reason for China to start looking at the outside world - and looking for something to distract the local Chinese population from what's happening. 

And so what's happening with Evergrande, what's happening with the Chinese railways, what's happening with so much of what's going on in China, is not something which should be dismissed as unimportant. It's incredibly important and it should be incredibly concerning if you're able to see what's actually going on with it. 

Thursday 9 December 2021

Pandemic Spread, Death and the Parachute Effect

A sense of security, perhaps accompanying security theatre, can result in such risk taking that despite preventative precautions, danger still stands, but without an awareness of it.


The amount of risk people take is, oddly enough, proportionate to their perception of their safety. 

People who think that they're safer will often take more risks, often without even noticing it. A very good portion of abortions in America are performed on people who were taking contraception, and seemingly taking it properly, at the time at which they got pregnant. And if you distribute condoms at schools or in a city or elsewhere to an extent that it becomes easy to get a condom - quite often STD rates go up, instead of down, oddly enough and seemingly linked to a psychological phenomena known as the parachute effect.

And the parachute's effect extends beyond the realms of public health. You might also see it in places such as American football versus rugby. In American football a player will be wearing extensive padding and people who play rugby often mock the American footballers for how much padding they wear - how much protective gear they wear - and yet American footballers often get very terrible brain injuries despite wearing the padding and you hear about that a lot less often with the sports such as rugby not to say that one or the other is safer, of course.

The fact of the matter is that human beings don't actually understand risk properly. There was ... there is a famous YouTuber known as Lindybeige whose real name is Nikolas Lloyd, who has spoken about the way in which when he's fought using very little protective gear - with his friends when they simply sparred - quite often they would hold back in a certain way and were more cautious, so as not to actually injure one another; Whereas, where they used extensive protective gear, people would use their full force against it.

One of the things which has been quite odd is that vaccines have come about for Covid-19 - which is a good thing - at the same time as vaccines have extensively been introduced - you have higher rates of infection in some parts of the world and even higher deaths in a place like America, for instance; And the question is why. 

Well, the vaccines provide something like - with the Pfizer something like - 95 percent protection against the original Covid variant, and still a very high protection against Delta, for instance, and yet if people, having taken a vaccine, then say: 

Well, I'm not necessarily going to mask any longer. I'm not going to social distance as much. I'm going to go out and meet all of my friends because I'm safe. And they perceive it as 100% safe. You're going to get a lot more cases. 

Now, the vaccines make you much less likely to need to go to hospital, much less likely to die, and they reduce case numbers quite extensively - but not by 100% - by specific percentages that they're supposed to. And to add to that, the latest research finds that quite often with vaccines such as these types of ones - which were developed - you need some sort of booster shot after, say, three months, or so, and the effect overall, again, is the parachute effect. It's saying that this specific thing is going to protect you, and therefore people take it at word, and they engage in a lot more risky behavior as a result.

The sort of risk involved can be, sometimes, quite extensive, compared with what people would otherwise engage in. And in fact one of the things which might explain the lower Covid numbers in some countries which haven't locked down more extensively, is that people, when things are left to themselves, often are more cautious, rather than when things left to them by the government telling them what to do. For instance, when speed limits were introduced, the average speed on roads increased rather than decreasing, for the simple reason that people then had a sense that they knew what the risks were, and therefore engaged in more risky behavior.

The issue with vaccines, when it comes to spread of Covid, is that - while people are under the impression that it completely protected and prevented spread - thanks to things like vaccine passports - the fact of the matter is, that it only reduces spread, and it does so by reducing the amount of time at which people are at a certain level of infectiousness. It doesn't reduce spread completely, but it does reduce it a bit. But if someone, because they have a vaccine passport and a vaccine, go about their ordinary lives taking no precautions against coronavirus, versus someone who is not vaccinated, but takes a lot of precautions, you might find that the parachute effect comes into play again. And this effect is quite important for public health and for otherwise. 

A friend of mine at a firm in the United Kingdom, whenever they go into office, every two days, they get tested with a rapid antigen test, and that's not a hundred percent either, but it's a pretty good tell whether someone has Corona virus or not - and, obviously, whether you have the vaccine or not you can still spread it, which is why you should still take precautions. But if you take a test which says that you probably don't have Corona virus - you're much less likely to actually spread it - and those sorts of mechanisms can well be quite effective at preventing spread in a way in which more was gained from it, even though those tests, again, are not 100%. 

But the parachute effect and the fact that human beings are what it is dealt with in public health are both incredibly important and countries which ignore them and ignore the facts involving them do so at their utmost peril.

Wednesday 8 December 2021

ANC fails to get rid of property rights, still plans to pass legislation to seize land

South Africa: ANC fails to get rid of property rights, still plans to pass legislation to seize land

South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has said that the country will pass legislation to expropriate land without compensation, after spending several years attempting to amend the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, in order to be able to pass legislation to expropriate land without compensation. The hitch in their plan is, the attempt to amend the constitution failed. They are still going ahead.


The Justice Minister of the Republic of South Africa has made a rather unexpected statement, after the ANC government in charge failed to succeed in creating a Constitutional amendment to South Africa's Bill of Rights to allow the government to expropriate without compensation: land, and with that land specifically being seen as land occupied or owned by: white South Africans generally, given that it has been presented as a sort of stolen land argument. 

This isn't land which was seized during apartheid - which the government in fact compensated people for using the land claims court - but rather land in general. Often, land which people bought as innocent third parties, and have mortgaged based on the state system of land registration and ownership, which has long been part of South Africa's system. 

The reason the Constitutional amendment did not pass is that the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters party of Mr. Julius Malema voted against the amendments - not because they opposed land expropriation but - because as a Marxist party they thought that it didn't go far enough. They wanted more land to be expropriated. They wanted the state to be the custodian of land in general. They wanted essentially to get rid of property rights while the African National Congress took a much less extreme position of simply wanting to have the right to take away property without compensating for whatever its fair market value would be. 

The Democratic Alliance, despite some campaigns by some in media to get them to vote for the amendment in order to prevent the EFF's measure from going through, in fact did not vote with the ANC's way of doing things.

And the ANC decided not to go with what the EFF wanted, perhaps not to give them a victory when the ANC is finally below 50% at the polls for local government elections. 

So, what was the statement after the shocking defeat in parliament - where they had to actually put forward a bill that they knew they'd not succeed in getting through because the EFF had abandoned it? Well, Justice Minister (in South Africa) Ronald Lamola, has made a statement that South Africa thought that that was just one means of doing it and that they're simply going to pass legislation to allow expropriation without compensation - which is quite odd, because the Constitutional process was to amend the Constitution in order to enable them to make legislation to do so. 

What they'll do and whether courts which are obviously human institutions and not robots ... If courts allow what expropriations they do going into the future is uncertain. And it's uncertain what legislation they have plans to put through or whether they plan to put anything through at present, but the response to such a defeat seemed to be saying that the entire battle they were fighting was not necessary in the first place ... so why did they fight it for several years then?

Sunday 5 September 2021

Weary of prosecution doctors, Jacob Zuma still granted medical parole (Video)

Weary of prosecution doctors, Jacob Zuma still granted medical parole (My latest video)

Friday 3 September 2021

Afghanistan? Lost! The Great Western defeat of 2021! (Video)

Afghanistan? Lost! The Great Western defeat of 2021!

The great Western defeat of 2021, Joe Biden's Saigon, and a great human tragedy unfolded over recent weeks.

Saturday 31 July 2021

Death of a Lecturer

I wonder if a lecturer like that would be possible today?

I just heard Jan-Louis Serfontein died. He used to insist law was the wrong career for me and that I should have studied politics instead (apparently I argued points in his class more like a Greek than Roman lawyer and that was just not good enough), and used to call me a lee-ahn (lion) due to my long hair and beard during university. He inspired a much deeper love of Roman law and the Civil Law system of continental Europe in me than I had had to date. 

He was always disappointed in me for not living up to my potential, whatever that was. Highly charming as Amy, who I took his class with, points out, and with such a deep love of Western civilisation, medieval Europe, the Renaissance, and the Roman Republic and Empire, that you could imagine him as a magistrate of Justinian rather than of a modern nation. 

I can't speak to him flirting with anyone. I just remember great literature wafting through the place, and his sharp but witty insults aimed at students such as myself, spoken from a position of a deep love of his work. If I ever go to Italy, I might try to see a copy of the Corpus Iuris Civilis he dedicated his life to.

I learnt of his death from a LinkedIn post written by Amy King, whom I attended University of the Witwatersrand Oliver Schreiner School of Law with. She wrote of him:

'Yesterday I learned that a professor from my law school days passed away. While we certainly did not stay in touch after graduation, I feel the need to write an ode of sorts in memory of him – who is one of very few who resembled a character in law I was drawn to.

'Mr Jan-Louis Serfontein was a great big man. So rotund his walk was a sort of roll. He drove a maroon s 600 Mercedes which was befitting of the era he seemed to step out of. Although, really, he was timeless. I even recall an elegant wooden walking cane featuring from time to time. 'I first encountered Mr Serfontein as a nervous first year in the impossibly confusing and oversubscribed class: Foundations of South African Law. 'Keeping abreast with which principles were from Roman, English or Dutch Law and the fact that his classes were on a Friday afternoon and a very early midweek morning, were the trappings of what should have been everyone's worst class. 'It may have been that finding a good seat for his class was near impossible because it had the reputation of the highest failure rate, although I’m quite convinced that it was our dear Mr Serfontein and his charm that got everyone in avid attendance. 'Mr Serfontein would taunt a variety of big boks, intellectual show off’s, and class clowns. He would, mid lecture, flirt shamelessly with beautiful girls by reciting ancient roman stories to them while the rest of us enjoyed the theatre of his story telling. 'Many years later I took his Democracy and Citizenship class, a more intimate setting of maybe 16 students and at last he dedicated a poem to me about a beautiful roman maiden collecting water in an urn who encountered a snake. I can’t for the life of me remember the point of his poem. But I can remember feeling utterly transfixed on almost every word he said, in almost every lecture. 'He did more than teach us law. He taught us about Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard, where to holiday in Italy, Confucius (or Kǒng Fūzǐ as he rightly insisted on) and how to contemplate the nature of souls. He called us dummies for paying big brands to advertise their logos on all our clothes and taught us to be outright silly. 'He told us what it’s like to be a magistrate (apparently not recommended) and how he could easily eat foie gras exclusively for the rest of his life without any guilt. 'This man had such a lasting effect on me that I read as many classics as he ever mentioned. I forced my way to the University of Bologna to see for myself the library he insisted every lawyer worth his Legum Baccalaureus would go. 'The thought that such a great big man is no longer breathing this same air doesn’t make him any less alive for me. 'Rest in eternal peace Mr Serfontein, I’m so grateful to have crossed your path.'

Sunday 25 July 2021

Wednesday 16 June 2021

The economics of why women who believe 'men are trash' are selecting for the type of man they get

In economics you get what you incentivise for. Women who believe 'men are trash' are very likely operating their dating life in such a manner which excludes average and more sought out for men from the markets they engage in. They are preselecting for the type of men they are dating.

Second Hand Cars and Lemons

In some markets, the second hand car you buy is almost certain to be a so-called lemon, a car which is low quality. This is because the better options have all been pushed out by market forces, leaving only the sellers of bad cars in the market.

Someone selling a good second hand car wants a good price for it. But the presence of unexpected bad cars lowers what a buyer is willing to risk. The sellers of good cars therefore do not find the price their car is worth and do not try to sell it. That leaves only the average and the bad cars in the market. But, the chances of buying a bad car go up significantly as the good cars are removed from the market. The seller of an average car therefore will not realise the value of the car on the market and not attempt to sell it. Only bad, appropriately priced cars therefore remain on the market. They have been preselected. 

So how does economics get out of this slump? Easily enough. Mechanisms to undo the inequality of information about cars between buyers and sellers and to stop preselection for bad cars need to be introduced. 

Experts such as mechanics are employed to inspect second hand vehicles for a buyer, leading to less likelihood of discoverable defects. Independent services which verify number of accidents, number of previous owners of a car, service history, and likely sale price can also emerge. These increase the equality of information between buyer and seller.

The most common approach is the introduction of second hand car dealers, on the basis that such dealers can engage in all the above, and then offer a warranty on the car so that if it breaks down in a certain amount of time they will fix it. This assumption of risk, and the linking of the reputation of the seller to their ability to sell vehicles, will bring the sellers of average and good cars back to the market. 

Insurance and preselection for the sick

Insurance faces a similar natural market problem. Sick people are most likely to buy insurance. Healthy people are unlikely to. The cross-subsidisation of insurance therefore is impacted, prices go up, and only the sick take out insurance. Prices go up, and only the really sick do. The insurance thus goes out of business.

Insurers can combat this is several ways, such as excluding people with preconditions, pricing people differently according to their health profile and risks, pricing them differently according to their statistical demographic risks (e.g. pricing car insurance cheaper for women of a certain age), or by selling insurance to groups rather than the end user. In the case of group insurance, a company can be sold insurance for their entire staff, not just those of ill health, allowing good cross-subsidisation. Likewise, it can be sold to an industry as a whole, etc, or to a husband or wife in order to cover their whole family.

Mechanisms which preselect for the sick in the sale of medical insurance essentially have to be combatted to bring insurers back to dealing with the general population.

Social Media 

Social media in the current era is very toxic. In the past mechanisms such as anonymity as default allowed ordinary people to engage in more honest debate with little threat of backlash on their careers for a misstatement. 

Social media companies which encourage social media mobbing via their algorithms and incentives and at the same time encourage people via incentives to use their real names create a market where over time reasonable voices of ordinary people are pushed out, and generally only those who are roughest and most prepared to engage in costly debate remain in the debate. Only those with already established tough to hurt reputations remain in the game at the end.

When social media companies then take political sides on questions, it further disincentivises ordinary people from debate. It also encourages those who are worst on the side favoured to pursue others by means other than rational debate. 

There is a reason Twitter for instance is often called a 'dumpster fire' or 'hell site'. Extreme partisanship and pursuit of status via trying to take down any named opponent are commonplace. Eventually, given the group dynamics at play, even the most ardent debater is likely to set their account to private, leave the site, or avoid certain topics.

Most ordinary users of social media will tend to set their profiles to private and avoid controversial topics. A few will develop skills and abilities to engage meaningfully, but even then, any statement can become 'problematic' via social media mobs who are increasingly looking for the slightest weakness, of which far less is available, to pursue someone for, or for weaknesses emerging via the passing of time. 

Those seeking to up their reputation by cancelling others initially have an easy time, grabbing the low hanging fruit, but, to use another economic concept, variable costs of units of production increase with each additional unit produced ... the more of something you seek, the more effort you have to put into it with each new instance. On social media, where mobbing occurs, the low hanging fruit is quickly picked, and increasingly innocuous 'offenders' must thus be pursued for status.

As a social media site becomes more toxic, it enters the sort of death spiral Google Plus did, where engagement is eventually discouraged to an extent that the social media site dies.

Atheism and Intelligence

The other day I watched a YouTube video which highly amused me, but not for the reasons the YouTuber may have intended. An academic thinker who makes a lot of interesting heterodox arguments, which I enjoy engaging with, mentally, was challenging a recent study. The study, a meta-study, had found that religious people are no less intelligent than average people. This makes sense, as most Nobel prize winning scientists are religious, and as religious people, per longitudinal studies, generally, statistically live longer, are happier, and tend to have higher levels of community in their lives.

Religiosity is also selected for in the dating market, as religious men and women are more likely to get married younger, statistically, and to have more children. Atheists, per demographics, are less likely to marry early or at all and generally have fewer children when they do. Levels of religiosity are also genetic to a degree, meaning that people who are less religious are essentially evolutionarily selected against (something also true of veganism, which appears to only generally be stuck to by people with certain genetics).

In fact, atheism is a bit like a peacock's tail. The peacock who survives despite his bright tail highlighting him to predators is likely to have survived despite, not because of, his plumage. Atheists, in being genetically selected against, are likely to have specific other genes which combat this, genes such as those for higher intelligence. Such genes are more likely to combat an atheist's lack of community, general shorter life span, and lower chances of passing on more of his genes.

The YouTuber had decided to use dating site data in order to prove what he thought was his point that religious people were less intelligent, and that the more religious they were, the less intelligent still. 

The first problem is that religiosity is generally associated with marrying earlier, and is often a prized trait in dating. Religious people also tend to meet up physically at churches and youth groups and bingo nights, etc. Like smart insurers, they have entered to deep sea of the general population, rather than the lemon car markets of online dating. In these blue oceans, the religious people using online dating apps were unable to find a mate. They thus turned to online dating.

The second problem is that the more religious someone is, the earlier they are likely to marry and the more likely they are to stay married even if they are unhappy in a marriage. More desired religious people are less likely to use dating websites.

The third problem is that dating websites are heavily associated with pickup culture. In contrast, religious people are much less likely to engage in casual sexual activity. A game which encourages hookups selects against the sexually prudent.

The YouTuber used only the data from users who had answered many questions, and then selected questions which resemble standardised testing questions, in order to gauge intelligence based on the answers given by the online daters. He then found that Catholics in the west in his view had an average IQ of about 98 (2 below average) and that the more religious someone was, the more likely they would answer the questions on the dating site incorrectly. People who go to great efforts to answer questions to be better matched on dating sites, likely are more desperate to find a mate or more mates, again meaning the YouTuber preselected for people who are struggling to find a partner or enough partners. He also chose a secular dating site when specific religious sites existed, meaning he again preselected for the result he got.

However, given the fact that religiosity is an advantage in dating, and is more likely to expose the religious to more of the general population, and the other factors, a religious person using a secular online dating website is more likely to have something else which is holding them back from finding a good partner. In other words, the YouTuber, in using secular dating site datasets, preselected against the religious people who are most likely to score higher on datasets, and thus caused his own conclusion, instead of disproving the accepted scientific consensus that ordinary religiosity and intelligence are not connected. 

Dating Websites and Preselection

Women on dating sites rate almost all men as below average, and select an even smaller percentage of the men on the sites to date. A tiny proportion of men on dating websites and applications essentially get their pick of the women. The vast majority of men are thus excluded from the market, and are unlikely to stick around, or if they do stick around are more likely to be desperate, and to spend hours each day seeking even one female partner. Given spending hours a day on a dating website or application takes a lot more effort than meeting women at a church, work, hobby group or pub, these men are likely either not succeeding in finding women by these ordinary means, or are promiscuous and not finding enough women to satisfy their increased appetite.

As for the small percentage of highly sought after men on dating apps, they are likely to be swimming in women's affection. The women pursuing them are likely to be engaged in heavy competition for them. If the men in question are looking for a life partner, they are likely to quickly leave the market. If they are promiscuous, they are incentivised to stay and keep satisfying their enhanced appetite for a variety of women. 

Overall, dating websites and applications therefore select for men who are more likely to be more promiscuous and less successful in the ordinary world. As I set out above, they also select for men who are less religious, less engaged in their communities, and more likely not to marry early.

Hypergamy and reproductive prime

Women generally will select against men who they believe have low potential to gather resources to support them and potential children. This is an evolutionary preference known as hypergamy. It is not the pursuit of wealth or the wealthy, but the pursuit of a man capable of producing wealth. Productivity is a prized trait for humans, and women tend to date on the same level as they are or to date up, seeking men who are successful or show potential. 

Men tend to become successful later, as the workplace has been shown to favour women in their sexual or reproductive prime in regards salaries, promotions, and availability of work, but not to favour women once they pass their sexual or reproductive prime. 

Women in their sexual or reproductive prime years tend to have many male suitors. In the case of women past their sexual/reproductive prime, this tends to be reversed. The evolutionary purpose below dating is reproduction.

Dating in many modern workplaces is highly discouraged by sexual harassment policies, which also tend to exist in universities. Women also tend to outnumber men among university graduates, despite the fact women tend to prefer to date up, and educated women tend not to date men of lesser education than they have. Women, due to evolution, generally favour men who have material success.

Men in contrast tend to date women of lower or equal academic achievement to them, and to not really care what a potential dating partner does in their career to anything near the same extent as women do. Men tend to favour women of good health, in their sexual prime, who look younger, have had fewer sexual partners (the more previous partners a married woman has had, the higher the chance of divorce, statistically), seem more likely to be faithful to them and who are more likely to survive childbirths. A man who unwittingly raises another man's child like a bird raising the egg of a cuckoo, is putting a lot more effort into something which will not prolong his own genetic line, hence evolution favouring loyalty in women and fewer sexual partners.

The type of woman who says men are trash

The sort of woman who says men are trash is generally older, more likely to have attended university, has a career at the forefront of her mind, and is more likely to be liberal, or a non-egalitarian feminist. 

Viewing dating as a marketplace where people essentially offer their partnership to others in exchange for the partnership of the other, the price of a date depends on what is offered. Things such as looks, ability to gain resources, worldview, personality, general disposition, and treatment of a partner all come into play.

A woman who believes all men are rapists, is unlikely to find a quality man who agrees with her. A rapist may be prepared to be treated as a rapist, just as a seller of a defective car will be prepared to accept the payment the car is due, but as with the example of the second hand cars above, the average and good men in the market are pushed out by the risk of dating such a woman.

A similar example can be found in white proponents of critical race theory, who claim or accept as true that it is somehow or other impossible for whites not to be racist, they inevitably are making an admission about themselves, that they are racist, while not properly placed to make it about any other white, most of whom, statistically, have relatively low racial in-preferences according to polling companies. 

A woman who believes all men are oppressors is likewise much less likely to find a quality man who is prepared to be treated as oppressive when he isn't. An oppressive man in contrast is fine with being treated as what he is.

A woman who believes all men are cheaters and liars, is unlikely to find a man prepared to date her who isn't one. Sexual harassment policies in universities and workplace also make it more likely that in such environments a man who is prepared to risk punishment to pursue a woman is more likely to have a greater sexual appetite and to be promiscuous.

Women who believe men are trash tend to be highly educated, limiting the men they are likely to pursue, having been career focussed in the prime of their life, likely to marry later, less likely to attend church or hobby clubs or places like pubs (after all, the male gaze is often spoken of), and more likely to resort to things such as online dating later in life. One of the biggest factors, though, is that men who know they are not trash are unlikely to want to date a woman who sees them as trash and may treat them accordingly. Essentially, women who say men are trash have generally economically-speaking preselected in such a manner as to exclude more highly desired men from dating them. You generally get what you incentivise in the marketplace.

Monday 14 June 2021

We already have the perfect, cheap, and reliable answer to any carbon based climate change

If you really believe people are causing climate change and that it is world ending, then the only thing to do is to aggressively promote nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy would solve the vast majority of carbon emissions. Technologies such as overhead electrical cables for electric cars (e.g. like trams) would solve most of the rest of it.

Free Will, Heaven and Hell

God is Being, Reality. Yahweh means Being/Reality. It is God's name and nature. 

At the core of choice is to decide whether Being is good or evil, all other choices follow from that. Hell is like living in the moment before suicide forever but being unable to kill yourself because being and God's presence cannot be taken back. 

Saints say God's presence is the fire of hell. If you believe being is good and it is in its fullness and can never be taken from you, and live life accordingly, then heaven is eternal life when you want to live. 

God created us with free will which is why we live forever. Hell is living for eternity wishing you were dead but being unable to die. God chose to predestine all mankind to live forever. He gave us the choice of how we respond to that, with joy and gratitude, or with ingratitude and despair. 

That is the essence of free will, to accept or reject God, to choose hope or despair, faith from in the mystery of the universe, or scepticism in the goodness of our creator, and love from gratitude or hatred from despair and fear. We get to choose our response. God knows what we choose because God is unchanging and has seen all of time, but it is our choice.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Should I read the bible when alone?

You can read and understand the bible in solo reading, but it was written for different cultures at different times and in different languages. Taking the context into account creates a very different story to prima facie reading in English. You miss a lot of the depth when you don't read with tradition in mind, and some miss the point entirely. You should read the bible alone, but you should also read it with the Church of the Ages, with the many living and dead who also read it.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Why did God seemingly kill King David's child as punishment for David's adultery and murdering

The very centre of our religion is why God punished the innocent, Jesus, for the guilty, us. 

God in the Old Testament would periodically punish children along with their parents and wives with their husbands. But have a bigger picture, God permits the death of countless babies in history. Evil is not only done to evil people. Not just evil people die. We all die.

In the specific case of God causing King David's child to die, God used the fact of a child's death to punish its parent and force that parent to repentance, especially of the murder he committed when he heard the child's mother was pregnant with his child. God's own child would one day also be killed in order to gain King David grace from that repentance.

God kills everyone and God will kill you. Death is a certainty, life is a gift.

Monday 3 May 2021

The basis of strong success in Western Civilisation is in having faithful, married parents and a stable family life.

The basis of strong success in Western Civilisation is in having faithful, married parents and a stable family life. Western values, from which we get our success, are those values we inherit from Christianity and Christiandom.

Watch a Mr Calvin Robinson being interviewed by a Mr Carl Benjamin, of an online news organisation called The Lotus Eaters, on this topic, and let us know your own views in the comments.

Saturday 1 May 2021

A prayer for enemies

Curse my enemies with righteousness. Let them do what is right whether they intend to or not, let them live good lives, whether they land in heaven or hell. Lord, fill them with repentance and righteousness. Force their hand to do what is right, in the light and when unseen. Let good come where they intend ill.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

As blood turned to dust and fed the soil.

They watered its white petals with reddest blood,

And partied, drank, danced, and ate, with modern legend, well past midnight,

The flower of good success,

Its petals absorbed the blood, not their own,

And bloomed with such beauty,

Cannot be forgotten or unseen.

With words, which shimmering pictures made,

Smiles, champagne, limousines,

And flowers in flowing manes,

And they threw blood upon the flower,

An oblation to its infusion of beauty.

And unreality, they made, any fantasy enforced, And blood gathered from the believers of their very pretty lies,

The goodly gospel of good good good success.

And it delighted the eyes, the stomach, and the smiles.

And to its haunting melodies, we danced until sunrise,

But I could not deny the colour of grass or sky,

Or pretend clear skies were grey, and grey skies blue,

Or that the sun was but the moon.

And it flowered and bloomed,

And folk songs followed the flower,

And sought its wisdom and counsel,

And showered it in beautiful words and hopes,

And showered it in human blood.

Panglosses cheered and smiled, and danced,

And smoke like a machine consumed the scene,

And flames, like Roman candles did celebrate,

And around the flower, they danced,

And unlike the ancient living candles of Rome,

They did not go to a better place,

But their blood sparkled upon the petals,

And there they worshiped and rejoiced in the beauty,

Of the flowering flower, the flower of good success.

And as their many sacrifices, ordinary fools but armed with glitter and mascara, mirrors, and pyres of smoke, sparklers in their hands,

Flowers in their flowing long curls,

They danced into the flames, and smoke, and sacrificial beautifully spinning blades they themselves erected,

And their blood, too, hit the beautiful white flower,

Ingratitude their position of every bit of pride,

The flower of good success, full to excess,

But to me, it seems they never had lasting hope or real success.

Their blood spattered upon its petals,

And as the sun rose, it faded, and died, as all flowers eventually do,

And I watched from my spot a distance away,

As blood turned to dust and fed the soil.

Poem by Marc Evan Aupiais

Friday 16 April 2021

Mary as the Mother of God

Catholics believe that Jesus has two natures, human and divine, but is one person, The Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, of God.

The Son is God. God knew every human being before time began, as he planned us in his mind. Mary was always Jesus' mother in God's plans, as Jesus is God, she is the mother of God and that is their relationship in God's mind from the moment he conceived of Mary before time began. 

If Mary were God's creator she and not he would be god, but we call her Mother of God, which means we admit God not Mary is God.

The title admits information primarily about God, that Jesus is God and that he is fully human, fully God, but inseparably one person.

Either Jesus is God or not. If he is, Mary is the mother of God. But note, we do not say Mary is God, because she is not the origin of God, only the origin of everything can be God, the mere mention of God in that title means Mary is separate from God and is a created being, one who gave birth to God as a human being when he came down to Earth to save us.

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Jesus said he'd spend 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. But he only spent 2 in the grave. Why? (Answered.)

Someone asked:

'Can anyone help by answering the following question, I'd really appreciate it...

'How can we justify the verse below Matt 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

'Can someone please guide also to explain how it makes 3 days when Jesus rose on Easter Sunday?'

My answer to this question is as follows:

Obviously, with days, we can easily calculate based on each day starting at Sunset in the Jewish reckoning, Friday is day 1, Saturday is day 2, and Sunday, starting at about 6pm on Saturday is day 3. 

In the early morning as it had begun to get light the ladies approached Jesus's tomb to be informed that he was risen from the dead by an angel, while the tomb was unoccupied.

Now, usually you will hear that 3 days and 3 nights is a shorthand for saying that part of 3 days would be spent in some way or other, but even taking it as literal, as in part of 3 days and part of 3 nights, what Jesus said in the Greek still makes sense and his prophesy is still confirmed. I will add that the bible makes it clear that Jesus was buried on the Friday before the weekly Sabbath and arose on Sunday, after it. Arguments otherwise are ahistorical and not in the text.

But Jesus only spent two nights in the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled in front of it.

3 days, 2 nights. Not 3 days, 3 nights as in the prophesy Jesus made in relation to himself and Jonah. That creates another problem, should one not accept it as mere shorthand, which going to the Greek original actually answers nicely.

The Greek states that after the Sabbath on the first day of the week, as it had begun to become light, the ladies approached the tomb. That can only be Sunday. But Jesus only spent 2 nights in the tomb. 

He says that the sign of Jonah will be given to a wicked generation. He then says as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the fish's belly, so shall he be in the heart of the earth. The implication of course, if read in English rather than in the Greek of the New Testament, is that Jonah died while in the fish, and was raised to life again. Jesus seems to be referencing that. But he did not arise on Monday, but the day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, which can only be Sunday.

In Hebrew, the word used in the story of Jonah refers not just to night but to adversity, an idea Jesus carries forward into the New Testament. He seems to prophesy that he is safe during the day, as he will be attacked by evil men at night, which he is, in being arrested on the night of Holy Thursday (or Friday in the Jewish reckoning where night comes first).

In the especially literal Lexham English Bible translation the verse is rendered as:

'Matthew 12:40 (LEB): For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.'

The word translated as heart literally means the organ, but figuratively means the volition/will/intellect or emotional state. Many translations interpret the phrase as grave. 

But let us assume for a moment Jesus is talking about being 3 days in the power of death, in that case the night before, when Jesus had the last supper, what we would call Thursday night and what the Jews would call Friday night, would be the first day Jesus spent in the heart of the earth. i.e. in the power of death/the devil. Here is where he is arrested and tried by evil men. That makes it 3 nights Jesus was in the power of the Devil and of Death.

'καρδία (Lat. cor, Hebr. lēb, lēbab), (A) lit. the heart, as an organ of the body; (B) mind covers the non-physical sense best: (a) personality, character, inner life (illa uis qua cogitationes fiunt, Augustine, De nat. et orig. animae iv 6 § 7), e.g. 1 Cor. 14:25, 1 Pet. 1:22; (b) emotional state, e.g. Rom. 9:2; (c) mind, intellect, e.g. Rom. 1:21; (d) will, volition, intention, e.g. Rom. 2:5.' (A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament.)

The ancient Greek word translated as the word earth means soil, but can extend to a territory or to the whole physical mass of the Earth. It also appears elsewhere in the New Testament as a reference to the things of the earth, or in the LEB, what is earthly in you, which it makes clear is not the literal translation, via the use of square brackets; the literal translation of the phrase is, 'the members of the earth', in the said verse which I will now quote along with what follows it:

'Colossians 3:5–7 (LEB): 5 Therefore put to death ⌊what is earthly in you⌋: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry, 6 because of which the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which also you once lived, when you used to live in them.'

The heart of the earth likely in being heard by the audience of Jesus might have been heard as a reference to being put into the power of evil men and of the Devil, especially given the reference to the adversity Jonah experienced in the tomb of the large sea creature's belly. That Saint Paul later refers to the members of the earth, of which if the earth were a body, the figurative heart would perhaps be included as a member, seems to lend towards this.

Jesus spent part of 3 days in the tomb. He also spent part of 3 days and 3 nights in the power of the devil. Just as Job in being placed in the power of the devil immediately experienced tragedy, Jesus, in being in the heart of the earth, was arrested, falsely tried, defamed, tortured and killed and spent time in the grave (part of 3 days). 3 days in the stomach of a fish, or 3 in the power of evil, seem to correlate. 

That does not mean the classical answer many give, that days are calculated differently, wrong, they are calculated differently. It just perhaps adds another shade of meaning.

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