## Saturday, 28 September 2013

### the difference between superstition and science

Science generally makes statements or theories predicated on evidence. Most of the time, scientists won't claim that they have a fact, but rather a correlation. A correlation tells you that two things co-relate. That is, as one changes, the other changes. You might recall y = f(x) from mathematics at school; this means that the y axis is a function of the x axis, or correlates or changes with the x axis.

Many people misunderstand scientific findings and think that scientists are often giving facts (causal relationships between x and y, say), when in fact they're just giving correlations. Consider booze, violence and poverty. In such a case, if there's a correlation, it's not an established fact that booze causes violence when coupled with poverty. Why? Because counterexample anecdotes can be found that fall outside of the booze - is - proportional - to - poverty - and - violence graph; these are called 'outliers'. Thus the theory is only generally accurate rather than a fact. Consider a rich guy who beats his wife. Booze in this case might not be involved, nor poverty. Therefore booze and poverty are not necessary or sufficient causes of assault.

A cause is a correlation for which a mechanism can be found. A correlation is a relationship between two sets of data for which no mechanism has yet been found. The job of scientific theory is to supply that mechanism as a theory.

Now: What is superstition? I venture the following definition. A superstition is a belief based on either (a) anecdotal evidence, i.e. too few cases, or, (b) a belief based on a false assumption that causation exists where there's merely anecdotal correlation.

So, here's an example of a superstitious remark: My aunt died when a black cat crossed her path, therefore, black cats are to be avoided because they are harbingers of death. No. That's just one anecdote; so the correlation between death and black cats is anecdotal, and the theory that derives from it, is a superstition because (a) it's not giving a mechanism, and (b) it's one anecdote; we need a few thousand.

The key differences between a scientific correlation (a law or theory), and a superstition, is the presence of a causal mechanism and quantifiers. So the following description is NOT superstitious: My aunt believed in the black cat superstition. She was driving one day, and a black cat crossed her path. Due to her panic at the sight of the black cat, she swerved into a concrete pillar at sufficient speed and mass to cause sufficient impact velocity, and died. So, in a sense, the black cat could be said to have been the cause of her death, but actually her fear was the cause of her death; the sighting of the cat was merely one component. Had she been a cat lover, say, and had a white cat had crossed her path, she still would have swerved, and she still would have died. Therefore, it is not the black cat that was the issue, but any cat at all, of any colour.

See the difference? One story connects specifically a black cat with specifically one death, and claims that that means that a general rule about black cats is true. That's also called 'fallacy of affirming the consequent': You see a black cat. When you see a black cat, you will die. You died. Therefore it was because of the black cat. In the scientific case, we have the same logical structure (a fallacy or generalisation), but look at the difference! Here we go: The scientific story connnects ANY cat with this specific death by explaining in terms of the car's momentum and speed, and the driver's mortal fear of colliding with the cat. She swerved, therefore, given her momentum, speed and direction, she hit a pillar and died. This model quantifies (gives speeds, momentum, etc), and it explains the mechanism.

## Monday, 23 September 2013

### ban on booze adverts - a worthwhile experiment

As with the stupid argument that "scientists should stop worrying about getting to Mars and start worrying about cancer" - which misunderstands that different scientists do different studies.... this argument, that "the government" should "worry about more important crimes" fails to understand (a) that we're in a federal system, so the provinces do whatever they like, and (b) that the health ministry has nothing to do with department of justice and constitutional development. That's like saying, "Oh, the minister of health should stop worrying about booze ads and start worrying about the matric pass rate".

The only connection between DoH and DoJ is that most violent crimes apart from hijacking and robbery are booze-induced, e.g. murder and spousal abuse and rape. If these crime stats go down then the Government WOULD be doing something about more serious crimes.

The fact that the minister is trying to ban alcohol adverts suggests that the minister is far from corrupt, since no amount of 'incentives' from the alcohol industry has prevented this action.

The mandate of the department of health is to ensure south africans don't get unhealthy, and what to do when they do. Preventing booze advertising is just one example of a step or attempt to do so. If the ad ban fails, ie alcohol abuse does not decrease, then the ad ban is not justified. If however alcohol abuse does decrease after the ban, then the ban worked. The only way to find out is to enact the ban and see what effect it has, if any.

People talk about job losses: well, you know who will lose their jobs? The 30 or so rich people who place adverts for alcohol companies who have the hundreds-of-millions-of-rands "account" to manage placing adverts for these companies. The ad industry will lose some revenue. Big deal. They're all rich white-collar workers. This is a pro-poor action to discourage poor people from seeing booze as glamorous. Have you not seen that ridiculous advert for whiskey which says "one day this will be you" or words to that effect with a Learjet??

## Friday, 30 August 2013

### using an SLR

removed this from my personal site as it's more likely to be read here...

Using a Canon DSLR Camera

Some brief instructions on using a SLR camera.

Adjustable Options on the Camera

1. Turn the camera onto manual (M on the dial). P is point and shoot.

2. F-stop or depth of field: Default is 5.6. If you want to hyperfocus on something and make everything else blurry, use a lower number like 3.0-4.5. If you want everything in focus, including foreground and background, set it higher like 8 or 12. The lower the f-stop the lower you can make your shutter speed, so in darker conditions, lower the f-stop. If this setting is wrong, the picture will be flat and lack depth. Or too blurry. Note that you can't force the f-stop to be a certain number; the camera may automatically adjust it upwards depending on the light. Hold down the button nearest the eyepiece and turn the dial on the right to change the f-stop.

3. Shutter speed: How long the lens stays open to let in light. Default should be about 125-250 milliseconds in normal daylight. You turn the dial next to the the shoot-button to change shutter speed. The stronger the light, the higher you can make the shutter speed. If you want to capture an animal or bird in motion, you need a high shutter speed, like 1250-2500. If this setting is wrong, the image will be too dark or too light or blurry.

4. Film grade/ISO. The ISO is the old measure of the film sensitivity. Default film was ISO 200. The ISO choice is on the right hand side on the back, top right. I recommend leaving the ISO on 1600, which is very sensitive, unless you're outside, in which case set it to 400. The more sensitive the film, the faster the shutter speed has to be. If you set your shutter speed slow, and use a sensitive film, the image will get a motion blur or be over-exposed (light). Vice versa, if you set your shutter speed high, and use a high-sensitivity, the image will be crisp. If this setting is wrong, the image will be too dark or too light or blurry. If it's too dark, it will also be very grainy and pixelated.

5. Focus. The front lens has an MF/AF focus switch. Tap the shoot button once to autofocus (AF). Switch to MF if you want to manually turn the lens to focus. The crosshairs that come up are the focus points. You can have the camera focus on multiple points. I tend to leave it focused on the centre only. Obviously if this setting is wrong the image will be blurry.

Some example settings.

A flower: ISO 400, shutter speed 250, f-stop 5.6

A cheetah: ISO 800, shutter speed 2500, f-stop 5.6

A flower vase inside the dark interior of a house: ISO 1600, shutter speed 125, f-stop 4.5

These numbers are complete guesses - you'd have to experiment with them to find out what works best under the lighting conditions you find yourself in. The most important thing is to look at the exposure dial, aka the shutter speed. The line should be in the middle or slightly above. It looks like this on your camera screen:

|-----|-----| 125

-1    0    +1

You need to have it at about 0.2. The shutter speed next to it, 125, shows the shutter speed that will give you that level of exposure. The important thing is to get the exposure right. It must look like this:

|-----|-|---| 125

-1    0    +1

with the exposure slightly over mid-way. I find that the canon needs it there, otherwise images are too dark.

Some finer points about the Canon

You can adjust the colour using the menu button. I find it necessary to push it towards green and cyan (G/C), because the Canon, by default, takes pictures which are too yellow. It also doesn't cope well with fluorescent colours, like super-bright-coloured flowers; it dulls the colour. This is also where you set it to Sepia/Black and White.

The Canon can also do multiple shots - where you hold down the trigger. This is useful for capturing moving things, so you can select the best image of them. You would need autofocus for this to work.

The images are about 20 MB - suitable for 300 DPI A4 printouts. For the web, you need to downscale them to about 1024 pixels wide; their original 3888 pixel width is too high.

## Monday, 26 August 2013

### how to put equations into Apple Pages

1. Download and install LaTeX. LaTeX is an Open Source typesetting program intended for producing scientific and academic articles and research work. To get LaTeX, go to:

http://guides.macrumors.com/Installing_LaTeX_on_a_Mac

2. Create a text box in Apple Pages:

3. Type a LaTeX equation into the text box. If you don't know how to do this, install Daum Equation Editor from the app store and click the TeX button (light blue in the grey bar at the bottom):

So this shows what the LaTeX equation syntax is.

\sqrt { a+b } \int { h\left( x \right)  }

Which looks like this:

4. Copy the LaTeX equation as writing/text/syntax and paste it into the text box.

5. Install LaTeXiT from here:

https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/17889/latexit

6. Save your document, quit Pages, to make sure it understands the new fonts. You'll only have to do this the first time you install all these things.

7. Re-open your document.

8. Highlight the equation

9. Go to Pages: Services: Typeset LaTeX text or Typeset LaTeX Maths Display

10. It will now render the equation as proper mathematical symbols, like so. You can now click on the equation and make it bigger if you want to check the resolution of the font.

11. In future, you need only do steps 3, 4, 8, 9 for each equation.

## Saturday, 17 August 2013

### how to put a caption on a diagram in Apple Pages

1. Click on the image, specify that it's floating, rather than inline. Select the text wrap so that no text is adjacent to it for now.

2. Create a text box, type in the caption. Set the text box to floating too, rather than inline. Select the text wrap so that no text is adjacent to it for now.

3. Shift-click both objects.

4. Group.

5. Set the text wrap back to inline and the textwrap to whatever else is appropriate.

## Wednesday, 14 August 2013

### how to indent in apple keynote - not obvious

Open the inspector, select the text you want to indent, and press Bullets ->

## Wednesday, 7 August 2013

### how to make folders in iOS pages, iWork

If you've noticed that iOS doesn't have a "make new folder" button in Pages and similar, do the same thing you do in the iOS app launcher: drag one document icon onto another and it will make a folder.

Completely not obvious to me. I had an epiphany. I was about to dart off an email to Tim Cook saying it sucked, then I thought... hang on. This is Apple. It has to be consistent. How do you make folders on an iOS device? Let's try one last thing... and it worked.

Incidentally, if you make folders inside

/Users/your-name/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~Pages/Documents/ ...

it will generate those folders on your iOS devices via iCloud too. Yay.

## Thursday, 1 August 2013

### monterey canyon undersea neanderthal is a hoax

The claim is that a dagger, a recurve bow, and a neanderthal skeleton, have been found in a submarine cave off the coast of california. Since neanderthals have till now only been found in the middle east and europe, this is remarkable. Moreover, they've never been found with bows or, as far as I know, elaborate art.

http://submarinearchaeologytimes.blogspot.com

Googling the same strings as appear on this site only turn up discussions of it, no academic references. It seems like someone posted this page and then everyone just parrots it. I contacted the page author and he seemed defensive, and didn't cite any proof. He claimed to also just be repeating what he found on internet "out of interest", so he might not be the author of the hoax.

If you look carefully at the dagger and the guy holding the skull you can see that the dagger is mirrored/photoshopped, and the guy and the skull, have been pasted into a generic background of a science lab.

The deathly silence in the journal repositories give this one away. Searching for "neanderthal" and "monterey" gives no results using an AND search, only if you search with OR, but then none of the articles mention both things together. This suggests that the find is completely made up.

Googling for "Pacific Shelf Research CEO, Curt Novolin" returns only repeats of the page, no such company or person shows up. Good hoax.

## Friday, 24 May 2013

### critical thinking

People often re-post stuff online without using any critical thinking. Especially if it appeals to some deeply-held belief or gut feel.

Please do the following BEFORE you post something online.

1. Does it agree with your poltiical, racial or religious views? If so, check it, it may be false.

2. Does it agree with your lifestyle, dietary views, or views on sex? If so, check it, it may be false.

How do you check something?

3. Google it. Take a copy and paste of a few sentences from the thing you want to post - e.g. an "interesting" article about how Johns Hopkins says MSG causes cancer, or how the Australian PM says that Muslims must get out of Australia. Copy two or three sentences, and paste them into Google. If the first sites that come up are hoaxslayer or snopes.com, you can pretty much bet that it's a hoax.

4. Go to Jstor.org or Pubget.com and search for the key words in the claim. E.g. "MSG cancer link". See what the academics are saying.

5. Search for the same keywords on Wikipedia.org.

That's all it takes to not spread misinformation online. Please do this as a matter of course. Just check your facts. Remember "Confirmation Bias". Just because something makes sense to you, does not mean it is true. Facts are not matters on which you can have an opinion, and they are not culturally relative. Facts are human-independent.

People often say that they're entitled to their opinion. No. You are not entitled to believe that beliefs are true when they are merely beliefs and not facts. You are not entitled to mislead others by spreading falsities as if they were facts, merely by name-dropping a supposed authority that pronounced them. You have to check whether the cited authority did in fact pronounce these things that you hold to be true, to be facts.

You are entitled to opinions only on matters of aesthetics, e.g. whether you find some piece of art, music, food, fashion, or some or other celebrity to be attractive or aesthetically pleasing. On matters of fact, such as politics and political claims, statistical claims, scientific claims, religious claims, etc., you are not entitled to your opinion, since you do not have sufficient knowledge or evidence, for the most part, to make any such claims.

## Tuesday, 30 April 2013

### Google Drive vs Dropbox

1. Google drive doesn't understand linkfiles, so if you want to sync your usual documents etc., folders on a Mac, you can't just link them into the Google drive folder

2. It is slow, and reports 'unsyncable' files, instead of resolving them quietly using the internal file id of the file; it seems to rely on hard path strings.

3. It maxes out the CPU when iterating the drive folder and or syncing

4. It seems to be slower

5. It doesn't show you enough info while it's busy about what it's doing.

6. It doesn't let you paste your password into the signup screen. I have a LONG password.

7. It doesn't let you report problems except via Google Groups, which is a bit like going into a busy market place, grafittiing on one of the flagstones, and hoping that the emperor in the palace above you can read your comments. There's no accountability with Google - for anything on their platform. Their stuff doesn't work properly, except for the search engine, and you cannot trace anyone down to hold them accountable or ask them to fix it.

Dropbox has none of these flaws.

In Dropbox, if you want to, for example, backup your desktop folder, and your documents, and pictures folder, and your system preferences and mail, you just do this in the Terminal:

ln -s /Users/whoami/Documents/    /Users/whoami/Dropbox/Documents

ln -s /Users/whoami/Desktop/    /Users/whoami/Dropbox/Desktop

ln -s /Users/whoami/Pictures/    /Users/whoami/Dropbox/Pictures

ln -s /Users/whoami/Library/    /Users/whoami/Dropbox/Library

Done.

## Thursday, 25 April 2013

### reply to Sandy L. re reason versus the passions.

Sandy_L wrote as follows.

http://sandyphoebe.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/lets-play-ball-reason-vs-emotion/

My responses appear in red. Black text is Sandy's wording.

-------------------------

"When we are younger we are driven by emotion. As we come to age we see the importance of reason and the role it should play in our lives. Yet it is the balance of the two which is the mark of a human being. If we are driven by emotion but capable of reason then it is true that both of these influence our behavior, these two halves therefore make up the whole."

1. We are always driven by emotion, so you'd need to cite some research to support the claim, as you seem to be, that it's only when we're younger that we're irrational. I cannot think of any want/desire/inclination that is not about some emotion, and I think older people are just as irrational; they've merely learnt to camouflage it with good manners and depression.

2. Reason does have a role to play in our lives, but by saying "should play" you're implying that we don't use it "properly". I dispute this point. I believe we use it as properly as we can, that is, to resolve our wants/needs. That is all it is good for. Or for figuring out scientific and mathematical problems.

I quote the full argument from Hume below my responses. Please consult it, especially the supporting arguments. In brief, it goes as follows: We are motivated by emotion and want. Reason is not emotion. Therefore reason cannot motivate us. So what is the function of reason? To find out how to get us what we want. Nothing more. Let's check this symbolically.

W = want; E = emotion; M = motivation; A = action; R = reasonO = object of desire, target or goal of a want

Here's the formal argument:

1. O -> W           [see an object, it causes a want]

2. W element of E   [want is an emotion]

3. E -> M           [emotion causes motivation]

4. M -> A           [motivation causes action]

5. ~M -> ~A         [if there is a demotivator, we won't act]

6. M                [a motivation exists]

7. |- A             [therefore action; from 5; 6]

8. E -> M           [3]

9. E -> M -> A      [commutation, transitivity]

10. E -> A          [9; therefore emotion causes action]

11. R -> ~E         [Reason is not emotion]

12. R v E           [either reason or emotion]

13. M               [6]

14. |- P(E|k)>P(R|k)  [E is more probable since we have M, Bayes' theorem; 12]

15. |- ~(R -> M)    [Therefore reason does not motivate]

16. (R -> ~M) v (~R -> M) [14; 15; 12]

17. |- ~R           [13; 6; 16]

I've not checked this argument and I'll probably polish it a bit later. But there you go.

Incidentally, this argument also entails

18. O -> W -> M -> A    [transitivity, commutation]

19. O -> A              [18]

which means you will act as soon as you see an object of desire. Why, then, we do not always act when we see an object of desire? This is to be explained simply by reference to self-control through means of the use of fear. This is why in step 2 we have W element of E; because W alone is not sufficient to fill the Set of E, and the entire set of E causes M. To put it another way, Want is just one emotion, another is Fear. They both comprise the set E, emotion. Since it is the entire set E that causes motivation, Want, W, is only one cause of M; other causal impactors are Fear, drives, etc. - other components of E.

So, let's say for example that you see a chocolate. You either take it or you don't. If you don't take it, it's because you fear getting fat, or unhealthy, or being arrested for shoplifting, or becoming an immoral person from stealing regularly. If you do take the chocolate, it's because you wanted it. in either case, fear or want were the motives, and fear and want are emotions. Reason had nothing to do with it. Reason only comes in to play if, for example, the chocolate is high up on a shelf, and you have to work out how to get it down from the shelf.

3. Reason is the hallmark of a human? No. I find humans very irrational. My evidence: War, torture, crime, religion, astrology, homeopathy, etc. I conclude that the hallmark of a human is the capacity for generative grammatical language, culture, and more advanced technology. (Apes and birds use primitive lever and spear type technologies). That's apart from obvious biological markers like bipedalism. So reason and tool use is not paradigmatically human.

"I know we are emotionally charged creatures and emotion tends to be a big driving force."

It is the only driving force, by the above argument. We are driven by drives, we are motivated into motion by emotion. It is not a coincidence that these words are related.

"My argument is that a balanced human being (Please take note of this word for it is the backbone of my argument) who is able to take a step outside of a situation and see it from all sides and allow rational thinking to dominate yet take emotion into consideration is sure to make a sound judgment. It is only once we have allowed ourselves to detach from the situation that makes this possible."

One is never detached from the situation. The postmodernists argue that all arguments are about seizing/annexing power. Nietzsche calls it the 'will to power'.

One can ideally argue that persons will "act for reasons," as the Analytic Philosopher Compatibilists claim, however, 'reasons' is an ambiguous word, and doesn't always entail rationality. So, for example, one can think of the case of 'reasons' meaning 'causes'. So the reason I keyed a car was I was angry with the driver. That 'reason' is not rational, it is emotional: it is about anger. So you first need to clarify that you have rationality in mind, ie that sense of 'reasons', rather than 'reasons' in the sense of 'causes'. Of course, a reader can see that this - rationality - is the sense that you have in mind, but the Humean argument shows that rationality is moot. Here's an example of the distinction. "What is the reason for the building falling over?" well, it was demolished. "What is the reason for the building falling over?" Well, the owner wanted to demolish it. Two different senses of "reason" are at work here: cause and desire, or teleological intention. It's the same distinction as between "why" (for what purpose) and "why" (for what cause).

"Reason and not emotion leads us to thinking about cause and effect."

That is correct. Reason calculates the means by which to satisfy the desires. It does not motivate; motivation arises in desires/inclinations/drives only.

"Reason is associated with human activities such as art, philosophy, science, maths. Emotion and reason are like twins who from sharing the womb cannot live life apart."

The first claim is false regarding art and Continental philosophy. Phenomenology and existentialism, for example, concentrate on emotional aspects like feeling freedom. Consider Sartre's discussion of how wine feels on the tongue. Analytic (English) philosophy concentrates on reasoned arguments, as illustrated above in the steps. The same for maths and science. Art certainly is about passion. Consider even the mathematical style of Bach's music; his compositions are clearly affective in nature; one of his works is even called 'Ode to Joy', not 'Ode to Logic'.

The second claim, that they are intertwined, is probably correct.

"We must remember emotion is that which is an automatic function it leads to poor decision making and snap judgments. It is child like in that is searches for pleasure it does not understand delayed gratification it will always look towards happiness and naturally steers us from pain."

This seems correct.

"(It is like America in world war two it cares only for itself and its own gain)."

Non-sequitur, irrelevant.

"Negative emotions will play there role in our decision making process but what if that which emotion tries to steer us from is actually for our greater good."

'Their'. If it helps, it was 'hiora' in Old English, so just remember it has an "I" in it. Whereas the preposition "there" was 'thaer' in Old English.

You cannot always say that emotion steers us away from greater good.

Let's do a thought experiment. Imagine you're in the desert, and you arrive at an oasis after two days' thirst. Your emotions command you to drink. Is this irrational? Is there a greater good in suppressing that emotion? No. Therefore self-control is not necessarily rational or for the greater good. It depends on circumstance. And self-control is effective anyway only through its use of emotions. Take an example. Let's say you know that there's plutonium at the bottom of the oasis. You know that it has made the water radioactive. Will you still drink? Well, maybe now you'll hesitate, because you know that drinking will give you a delayed death from cancer or radiation poisoning. But not drinking will give you a quicker death from thirst. So, which do you take? The point is, your hesitation is not about rationality: in both cases, you're motivated by emotions: fear and thirst. (IF thirst is really an emotion; I'd say not, it's a bodily drive. In any case, it's not a rational demand, it's a biomechanical demand).

"Alone emotions are a good guiding tool they should be regarded as a wild unpredictable child and should not alone have full control over situations."

If my argument above from Hume is correct, then they are always in control of situations.

"It is reason which is something we have to consciously tap into to make use of when trying to understand a world outside of our own."

This is true, but it applies only to things amenable to reason, such as how to raise a rock by using a lever and fulcrum. It does not apply to WHY we want to raise a rock by means of whatever means is possible. Reason deals with HOW, not WHY.

"A combination of reason and rationality is the true mark of a human being."

I've seen cats planning to attack each other by hiding behind corners. Ive seen chimps sharpen sticks to later spear prey. I consider those to be a demonstration of reasoning abilities. Therefore not only humans can reason, and reasoning is thus not the marker par excellence of what it means to be human. I think culture, creativity, syntactic language are better markers and more peculiar to our species. No other animals seem to demonstrate culture or art, for example, unless we train them (e.g. elephants).

"Plato
-Happiness was achieved if ‘reason subdued the primitive passions’

This is part of the process of balance so I do not see it in the same light as Plato, for him emotion needed to be extinguished completely to let reason rule. Plato describes in his Chariot Allegory two horses pulling a chariot in separate directions. Reason is the horse of good breed while emotion the wild horse."

I disagree. I think happiness is achieved when one no longer has anything that one wants. As long as one has wants, or lacks, to put it another way, one won't be happy. Therefore, one must do one of two things: either satisfy all wants by achieving everything you want in life, or, try to crush the wants. But, as priestly child molesters demonstrate, the attempt to crush the wants/desires is doomed to failure. So the demonstration of having left most of the emotional pressures behind comes from answering the question: "What do you still want?", with the reply "nothing".

"Plato does show us two separate contradictory sides of ourselves yet he fails to see that these horses cannot be pulling in opposing directions as they are both searching for a means to the same end. So they can not be going in different directions."

Yes. But the reason finds the mechanism, and the emotions decide the object. IE the reasons deal with "how", and the emotions deal with "what" or "why".

"http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/10357 – reason nestled in emotion and dependent on it. This article depicts emotion to drive reason yet does not deny the importance of reason"

Journal article reference? Author? I prefer a journal article... at least I know it's been through peer review.

"As I said balance is the backbone of this argument. It relies on the premise that the individual is balanced as only a balanced human being can step outside of emotion and not get caught up in it. Only a balanced human understands the importance of reason. A balanced human being uses opposing sides of self together."

The only thing that stops an emotion is a stronger emotion, e.g. fear. The reason can only control the emotions by presenting them with some sort of fear, e.g. fear of the consequences. Reasons cannot control the emotions by appeals to reasons. Good reasons, in and of themselves, are reasons towards some other desideratum. So, for example, if I have a choice to steal or not steal, relevant considerations, in actual life, are as follows: Fear of getting caught and punished, versus, getting what you want, versus, adversely affecting the owner of the item you plan to steal, and therefore being a 'bad person' and fearing the feeling of 'guilt'. None of this is reason, it is all emotion.

-------------------------

Here is Hume's argument:

-------------------------

Treatise of Human Nature

PART III
Of the will and direct passions

Of the influencing motives of the will

Nothing is more usual in philosophy, and even in common life, than to talk of the combat of passion and reason, to give the preference to reason, and assert that men are only so far virtuous as they conform themselves to its dictates. Every rational creature, tis said, is oblig'd to regulate his actions by reason; and if any other motive or principle challenge the direction of his conduct, he ought to oppose it, till it be entirely subdu'd, or at least brought to a conformity with that superior principle. On this method of thinking the greatest part of moral philosophy, antient and modern, seems to be founded; nor is there an ampler field, as well for metaphysical arguments, as popular declamations, than this suppos'd pre-eminence of reason above passion. The eternity, invariableness, and divine origin of the former have been display'd to the best advantage: The blindness, unconstancy, and deceitfulness of the latter have been as strongly insisted on. In order to shew the fallacy of all this philosophy, I shall endeavour to prove first, that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will; and secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of the will.

The understanding exerts itself after two different ways, as it judges from demonstration or probability; as it regards the abstract relations of our ideas, or those relations of objects, of which experience only gives us information. I believe it scarce will be asserted, that the first species of reasoning alone is ever the cause of any action. As its proper province is the world of ideas, and as the will always places us in that of realities, demonstration and volition seem, upon that account, to be totally remov'd, from each other. Mathematics, indeed, are useful in all mechanical operations, and arithmetic in almost every art and profession: But tis not of themselves they have any influence: Mechanics are the art of regulating the motions of bodies to some design'd end or purpose; and the reason why we employ arithmetic in fixing the proportions of numbers, is only that we may discover the proportions of their influence and operation. A merchant is desirous of knowing the sum total of his accounts with any person: Why? but that he may learn what sum will have the same effects in paying his debt, and going to market, as all the particular articles taken together. Abstract or demonstrative reasoning, therefore, never influences any of our actions, but only as it directs our judgment concerning causes and effects; which leads us to the second operation of the understanding.

Tis obvious, that when we have the prospect of pain or pleasure from any object, we feel a consequent emotion of aversion or propensity, and are carry'd to avoid or embrace what will give us this uneasines or satisfaction. Tis also obvious, that this emotion rests not here, but making us cast our view on every side, comprehends whatever objects are connected with its original one by the relation of cause and effect. Here then reasoning takes place to discover this relation; and according as our reasoning varies, our actions receive a subsequent variation. But tis evident in this case that the impulse arises not from reason, but is only directed by it. Tis from the prospect of pain or pleasure that the aversion or propensity arises towards any object: And these emotions extend themselves to the causes and effects of that object, as they are pointed out to us by reason and experience. It can never in the least concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others effects, if both the causes and effects be indifferent to us. Where the objects themselves do not affect us, their connexion can never give them any influence; and tis plain, that as reason is nothing but the discovery of this connexion, it cannot be by its means that the objects are able to affect us.

Since reason alone can never produce any action, or give rise to volition, I infer, that the same faculty is as incapable of preventing volition, or of disputing the preference with any passion or emotion. This consequence is necessary. Tis impossible reason cou'd have the latter effect of preventing volition, but by giving an impulse in a contrary direction to our passion; and that impulse, had it operated alone, wou'd have been able to produce volition. Nothing can oppose or retard the impulse of passion, but a contrary impulse; and if this contrary impulse ever arises from reason, that latter faculty must have an original influence on the will, and must be able to cause, as well as hinder any act of volition. But if reason has no original influence, tis impossible it can withstand any principle, which has such an efficacy, or ever keep the mind in suspence a moment. Thus it appears, that the principle, which opposes our passion, cannot be the same with reason, and is only call'd so in an improper sense. We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. As this opinion may appear somewhat extraordinary, it may not be improper to confirm it by some other considerations.

A passion is an original existence, or, if you will, modification of existence, and contains not any representative quality, which renders it a copy of any other existence or modification. When I am angry, I am actually possest with the passion, and in that emotion have no more a reference to any other object, than when I am thirsty, or sick, or more than five foot high. Tis impossible, therefore, that this passion can be opposed by, or be contradictory to truth and reason; since this contradiction consists in the disagreement of ideas, consider'd as copies, with those objects, which they represent

What may at first occur on this head, is, that as nothing can be contrary to truth or reason, except what has a reference to it, and as the judgments of our understanding only have this reference, it must follow, that passions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompany'd with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call'd unreasonable. First, When a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the design'd end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects. Where a passion is neither founded on false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledge'd lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter. A trivial good may, from certain circumstances, produce a desire superior to what arises from the greatest and most valuable enjoyment; nor is there any thing more

extraordinary in this, than in mechanics to see one pound weight raise up a hundred by the advantage of its situation. In short, a passion must be accompany'd with some false judgment. in order to its being unreasonable; and even then tis not the passion, properly speaking, which is unreasonable, but the judgment.

The consequences are evident. Since a passion can never, in any sense, be call'd unreasonable, but when founded on a false supposition. or when it chuses means insufficient for the design'd end, tis impossible, that reason and passion can ever oppose each other, or dispute for the government of the will and actions. The moment we perceive the falshood of any supposition, or the insufficiency of any means our passions yield to our reason without any opposition. I may desire any fruit as of an excellent relish; but whenever you convince me of my mistake, my longing ceases. I may will the performance of certain actions as means of obtaining any desir'd good; but as my willing of these actions is only secondary, and founded on the supposition, that they are causes of the propos'd effect; as soon as I discover the falshood of that supposition, they must become indifferent to me.

Tis natural for one, that does not examine objects with a strict philosophic eye, to imagine, that those actions of the mind are entirely the same, which produce not a different sensation, and are not immediately distinguishable to the feeling and perception. Reason, for instance, exerts itself without producing any sensible emotion; and except in the more sublime disquisitions of philosophy, or in the frivolous subtilties of the school, scarce ever conveys any pleasure or uneasiness. Hence it proceeds, that every action of the mind, which operates with the same calmness and tranquillity, is confounded with reason by all those, who judge of things from the first view and appearance. Now tis certain, there are certain calm desires and tendencies, which, tho' they be real passions, produce little emotion in the mind, and are more known by their effects than by the immediate feeling or sensation. These desires are of two kinds; either certain instincts originally implanted in our natures, such as benevolence and resentment, the love of life, and kindness to children; or the general appetite to good, and aversion to evil, consider'd merely as such. When any of these passions are calm, and cause no disorder in the soul, they are very readily taken for the determinations of reason, and are suppos'd to proceed from the same faculty, with that, which judges of truth and falshood. Their nature and principles have been suppos'd the same, because their sensations are not evidently different.

Beside these calm passions, which often determine the will, there are certain violent emotions of the same kind, which have likewise a great influence on that faculty. When I receive any injury from another, I often feel a violent passion of resentment, which makes me desire his evil and punishment, independent of all considerations of pleasure and advantage to myself. When I am immediately threaten'd with any grievous ill, my fears, apprehensions, and aversions rise to a great height, and produce a sensible emotion.

The common error of metaphysicians has lain in ascribing the direction of the will entirely to one of these principles, and supposing the other to have no influence. Men often act knowingly against their interest: For which reason the view of the greatest possible good does not always influence them. Men often counter-act a violent passion in prosecution of their interests and designs: `Tis not therefore the present uneasiness alone, which determines them. In general we may observe, that both these principles operate on the will; and where they are contrary, that either of them prevails, according to the general character or present disposition of the person. What we call strength of mind, implies the prevalence of the calm passions above the violent; tho' we may easily observe, there is no man so constantly possess'd of this virtue, as never on any occasion to yield to the sollicitations of passion and desire. From these variations of temper proceeds the great difficulty of deciding concerning the actions and resolutions of men, where there is any contrariety of motives and passions.

## Monday, 18 March 2013

### petty townhouse rules

It has recently occurred to me that most townhouse complexes in affluent areas (not to mention blocks of flats), have bylaws prohibiting inhabitants/residents from drying their laundry "on display" in the sun.

It has also occurred to me that this forces residents to use tumble-dryers, which both damage clothes after repeated use (implying costs to households), and which use enormous amounts of electricity (2000 watts per hour, or 2 units of electricity per hour), also implying costs to households, environmental costs, Eskom load problems.

If one considers that South Africa, as a sunny nation, has the benefit of allowing one to dry laundry in the sun, and yet these bylaws prohibit it, it may be worth considering the environmental impact, and the impact on Eskom's ability to deliver power, of this prohibition. It is my view that the relevant bylaws should be scrapped, and that sun-drying of laundry should be encouraged.

Let's work a quick calculation to see what I mean.

Suppose the affluent population of SA is about 10 million people. Suppose, furthermore, that of that 10million, there are four persons per household (I got this figure from Wikipedia). That means 2.5 million households, roughly, with tumble-dryers. Now, let's calculate the power wasted: 2 units per hour. Let's assume, furthermore, that an average household runs four loads of washing per week, ie four hour sessions of tumbling, or 16 hours per month. At two units per hour, that's 32 units of power per household per month. Assuming again 2.5 million tumbledryers, you're looking at 80 million units of power, or 80 MW wasted per month. Eskom can only produce 34 000 MW. Granted, this is only 0.23 % of Eskom's capacity, but it's still something. Have I made a mistake in this rough calculation? Is this something to be concerned about?

## Thursday, 14 March 2013

### open letter to Apple for Mar 2013

I was thinking the other day that power plugs, USB plugs, etc., are a bit of a nuisance when we have things like RFID, bluetooth, wifi, and induction etc., available. Then I was thinking about my electric toothbrush, which doesn't make metal-to-metal contact with its charger; instead, the charger that it sits in is a proximity induction type (ie moving magnet near a wire creates a current).

So I was thinking it might be cool to remove the metal contacts on the charger cable for MacBooks and replace it with a sealed plastic plug, that just induces the charging current in the MacBook. This is good for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that my toddler won't get a shock from sucking the power cable anymore!

Plus, if you get rid of USB ports, etc., you could potentially eventually make a waterproof iPad that I can use to read in the bath, which is what I miss most about paper books.

Here's a sample of something already using this idea:

Thanks for listening.

## Saturday, 23 February 2013

### A hoax email/facebook message about diet and cancer, and the response

The message: (NOTE : IT IS A HOAX)

LATEST CANCER INFORMATION
from Johns Hopkins

AFTER YEARS OF TELLING PEOPLE CHEMOTHERAPY IS THE ONLY WAY TO TRY AND ELIMINATE CANCER, JOHNS HOPKINS IS FINALLY STARTING TO TELL YOU THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY …

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to STARVE the cancer cells by not feeding it with foods it needs to multiple.

What cancer cells feed on:

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Note: Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells will starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes t o nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells.

To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water--best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines will become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor.

Anger, unforgiving and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

(PLEASE SHARE IT TO PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT)

My Response:

While I must admit that I would also rather not undergo chemotherapy and have heard and seen its poor efficacy, especially in late-stage, with two persons close to me, I just can't buy the above message for many many reasons. In the commentary below, I have underlined my quotes from other sources.

For starters, cancer's not a disease of the mind - it's a genetic mutation where a cell doesn't stop dividing. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/cells/the-cancer-cell. " There is no evidence, however, that a person prevents or causes cancer based on his or her state of mind." (source cited at the end).

Secondly, the claim that everyone has cancer cells in their body, I'd like to see that substantiated. In a URL I post at the bottom from Johns Hopkins themselves, disavowing this notice above, there's a paragraph that states "But, while evasive cancer cells are a challenge and the focus of ongoing research, it does not mean, as the email contends, that all patients, even those treated successfully for cancer, have cancers-in-waiting—undetectable but still there. People are treated and completely cured of cancer every day."

Cancer cells are also not significantly different apart from their replication behaviours - so the claims about "oxygenated environment" is moot; any cell will respond the same way to excess oxygen; cancer's response - whether to flourish or die in excess oxygen - is the same response one would see from a normal cell, since cancer is not much different from a normal cell. Moreover, oxygen is the de facto oxidant. So which is right: the doctrine about anti-oxidants being necessary for diet? Or deliberately taking in more oxygen to attack latent cancers? It's not a coincidence that antioxidants are called that. Oxidation, you may recall from science at school, is the process of donating electrons - so in fact, it's irrelevant to cancer what your oxygen levels are. Oxidation can be carried out by sulphur, for example. A simple case of this is silver rust. It's a sulphide, as far as I recall. Just as iron rust is an oxygen-based rust. In fact, oxidation is involved in cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295056/.
Moreover: "The immune system simply does not recognize cancer. In its complexity, the cancer cell has learned to disguise itself to the immune system as a normal, healthy cell. Cells infected with viruses or bacteria send out danger signals setting the immune system in action. But cancer cells do not," (source cited at the end).

I just posted an article yesterday on Facebook warning on how supplements (dietary) have no proven efficacy apart from anecdotal evidence and have not been subjected to rigorous double-blind placebo/control/experiment subject cases and peer-review. (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-anecdotal-evidence.htm)

Then on sugar. If cancer was fed by sugar, it would have to be argued that cells magically get a mutation every time they become cancerous, that causes them to metastasize once they take in sugar, which, incidentally, is an isomer of cellulose or plant cell wall fibre. So, if sugar causes cancer, so will cellulose or plant walls, since they're isomers (IE the chemical formula is the same). Moreover, we would see massive incidences of cancer in children. We don't. Cancer tends to strike people who are older and who expose themselves to known carcinogens e.g. cigarettes. The only link to cancer and sugar is naturally-occuring blood sugars, which said sugars will INCREASE with plant consumption regardless of sucrose (table sugar) intake: http://www.drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2012/February/Prostate-Cancer-Spread-Sugar-Cells/

The whole alkaline/acid-forming thing is a myth. You can't digest without hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Moreover, people go on about "pH" not realising that increasing oxidation levels will also probably increase acid levels, because the excess O2 would start oxidising things and probably cause them to release H+ ions. Stomach acid is pH 1.5-3.5. That means tomatoes (see more below) are almost as acidic as stomach acid. This is why it burns when you barf. Now: stomach acid is HCl, formed by taking water's hydrogen ion H+ and binding it to a chlorine, most likely taken from table salt, NaCl. So you need salt in your diet anyway to create stomach acid to digest food. Plus it's used in the sodium cycle in the kidneys to pump chemicals out the blood. (http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33886/title/The-Sodium-Cycle/)

The number of errors of chemistry in this chain letter above are staggering. To reduce acidic levels, you have to introduce a base, or an OH- ion. That comes from bases like soap, ammonia, etc. Now: if you introduce acidity in the form of H+ ions, you're guaranteed to get higher levels of acidity in the stomach, because of foods like *all* citrus and tomatoes and dairy are acidic. However, the blood pH stays around 7.3, which is slightly alkaline to neutral, comparable to tap water. http://faculty.stcc.edu/AandP/AP/AP2pages/Units21to23/ph/ph.htm. (.edu is an american university, in case you think I chose a lousy website). If pH were to fluctuate beyond these ranges, death would soon result, never mind cancer. The liver introduces bile into the stomach to neutralise acids. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9387127. The only way your stomach would allow excess H+ ions into the blood stream was if your liver was not producing sufficient bile, which may be a result of say, alcohol abuse or perhaps too much coffee ;-)

Notice that the causes of acidosis, the technical term for low blood pH (acidic blood), is not given as diet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolic_acidosis. Obviously, drinking acid would count as dietary induced acidosis, but let's not be ridiculous. Normal foods' pHs are not particularly strong either side of 7, otherwise we'd simply not be able to tolerate ingesting them. You have to eat a Habanero chilli, for example, to get something significantly acidic: pH 5.8. (www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2006/Projects/J0539.pdf). A mild chilli is around pH 6. Tomatoes, a so-called healthy food like chillies, are pH 4. That's much worse. (pH is a log scale, not a linear scale, so it increases exponentially; so 4 is much worse than 3). Orange juice is even worse, with a greater acidity. Milk isn't as bad as orange juice or tomato juice for acidity, even though it is slightly acidic (lactic acid). And a much-deplored animal product, eggs, are bases - around pH 8. Meaning that not all animal products are acid-forming or acidic. So please do not assume that a food's acidity has much to do with blood acidity levels. Simply put: if your blood was acidic, or you had acidosis, YOU WOULD KNOW.

As for milk producing mucus, firstly, we need mucus to absorb pathogens and spit them out or sneeze them out, or cough them out, thereby preventing disease. Secondly, it's been debunked. http://www.ehow.com/list_6326240_effects-milk-mucus.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucus. Thirdly, who cares if you're a bit snotty? That has nothing to do with cancer. The only plausible part here is the milk = cancer claim, which has apparently been published in a large scientific study. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book). But even then, I've struggled to find the research in any of the 20 or so academic repositories that I've searched for it. I can only find this: Cordain, Loren and Campbell, T. Colin. "The Protein Debate", Performance Menu: Journal Of Nutrition & Athletic Excellence, 2008, which contends some of the findings. I am not sure why it's so hard to find supporting articles or the articles themselves. Perhaps the milk=cancer link, if true, ought to get a Nobel prize? Surely? If not, why not? Do you have a conspiracy theory on this, or do you have evidence that it's been replicated, substantiated, and peer-reviewed? I am not impressed by claims about military industrial complexes, nor am I swayed by claims about "the milk industry" or "the meat industry". Wild claims without substantiation find no place here.

Lastly, but not least, this chain letter is a hoax, as declared by John Hopkins themselves: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/news_events/featured/cancer_update_email_it_is_a_hoax.html

## Thursday, 21 February 2013

### interesting - women in science

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecilia_Payne-Gaposchkin

can you believe how lame it is - they don't award her her degree on the account of her gender. pathetic. Sounds like taliban to me.

## Sunday, 13 January 2013

### How is this justice?

Internet activist takes his own life rather than face 50 years behind bars for copyright infringement.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/internet-pioneer-and-information-activist-takes-his-own-life/

But murder gets you 15-25 ?

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/14/hackers-disable-mit-justice-department-websites-in-tribute-to-aaron-swartz/

## Friday, 11 January 2013

### open letter to Tim Cook - again

It seems to me that Apple is losing market share on iOS devices to Android. Given that Nokia and Samsung are both rumored to be going for different operating systems (IE Nokia's own internal OS vs Windows Mobile, and Samsung going for Tizen (http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/01/samsung-drifts-away-from-android-will-motorola-rise-to-replace-it/)) it seems to me that now is the right time to strike with a two-pronged attack.

1. Lower your margins and sell cheaper iPads. Even if you're making a small loss on each sale, it's better to fill the market space with your devices so people become trapped in your ecosystem.

2. Try persuade corporates to accept iOS by better integrating with Active Directory compatibility and Office. Pressurise Microsoft to ship a full-blown office for iPad. Make it possible to have login screens on iOS that authenticate against UNIX/Linux/YP/NIS/LDAP/ActiveDirectory. If MS can persuade corporates to take on some tablet, of their design, you'll be in trouble. The MS Surface isn't a problem; it's a laptop with a floppy keyboard; it will fail like Zune failed. What will be worrying is if someone takes on Windows Mobile - eg RIM or Samsung or Nokia - and makes a real tablet with it. Corporates generally will need thin clients that can do office and email and web. The iPad is perfect for that. Maybe offer a LARGER iPad for corporates, preloaded with Office? Also, add a security cable lock port for a kensington lock; kiosks need to be locked down so the tablet can't be stolen, or so employees in call centres can't make off with their company's equipment. This move will get you right in with corporate, and you will destroy MS dominance.

On a separate note, since the beginnings of iPhone it has been obvious to me that Mac OS X will disappear ultimately from the desktop and be replaced by iOS. That this is Apple's strategy for the future seems quite plain. The MacBook Air is on the verge of being the same thing as a Microsoft Surface. If you just made the keyboard floppy, you'd have the same product. So, as a path towards this migration, perhaps consider doing the following:

a. iTunes is confusing. The new version is more in line with iOS, but it's still confusing. I suggest splitting it into three apps: iOS Device Manager, for syncing iOS devices; Media Player, to replace the DVD player and iTunes music abilities and to replace Quicktime Player (PLEASE add an "import DVD" command); and then, lastly, iTunes Music Store, to allow someone to purchase music. This would be more in line with what we see on iOS, where there's a Video Player, a Music Player, and an iTunes store. This functional split will make the Mac closer to iOS and individual apps less confusing.

b. Take a good look at Algoriddim Djay. As someone who uses iTunes to DJ, Algoriddim is very cool. The only problem with Algoriddim is it doesn't read my iTunes playlists properly, much less edit them. I'd like more control over cross-mixing and turntabling. Maybe just buy it and integrate it to iTunes.

c. The Finder confuses novice users. Discard it, and make apps automatically save into ~/Documents/AppName/; e.g. Pages saves into /Users/username/Documents/Pages/ ; etc., and it must always default to that folder only. Have a look at the user interface extension app called Default Folders. Something like that. Then hide the Finder by default, replacing it with a single search screen like on iOS. Add a "Share this File" command to all file-open file-save dialogs.

d. Set the Mac to default into iOS-mimicry mode. Have three modes: iOS mode, Toddler mode (managed user account in iOS user mode), and Programmer mode. Programmer mode sends you to the traditional Mac OS; Toddler or iOS mode sends you into a locked-down iOS-like mode with just the application launcher.

As a UNIX expert and programmer, I hope Apple plans to keep the low-level UNIX and developer environments (including the Finder) accessible to the advanced user. In particular, the loss of Apache in 10.8's System Preferences is very disappointing. As a programmer, I need PHP, Apache, Perl and Mysql preinstalled.

Last thought: IF you do buy Waze, please keep your servers open for Android and RIM Waze clients so Apple users can benefit from their traffic reports. In fact, making an Android/RIM version of Apple Maps (based on Waze), would start attracting Android and RIM clients TO the iOS ecosystem.