Tuesday, 16 December 2014

conspiracy theories and rejection of scientific consensus

In short: the mark of quackery or conspiracy theory is rejection of a rational scientific status quo consensus against the evidence, in order to establish the conspiracy theory as the new consensus.




Monday, 24 November 2014

good article on music sharing


Saturday, 22 November 2014

simple youtube downloader installation

sudo curl https://yt-dl.org/downloads/2014.11.21.1/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Sunday, 16 November 2014

dropbox never stops syncing: solved


I have resolved this problem.
There was a particular folder that was owned by someone else which I had moved. It contained a .dropbox dotfile, which I deleted. I then moved the contents out the folder and deleted the folder.
Steps to replicate.
1. Create shared folder
2. Invite multiple people who must accept
3. Place large data in folder, e.g. 20 files of 50 mb each
4. One of the persons accepting the sharing invite must move and rename the folder
5. Same person as in (4) must add data to folder
expected result:
6. Folder never finishes syncing. Dropbox.app maxes out CPU on Mac OS X
7. Go into folder on CLI, delete .dropbox (so as to unshare it), rename folder, move contents out, delete folder.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Friday, 24 October 2014

why conspiracy theorists, MLM salespersons, diet fad supporters, and religious fanatics, are the same thing

I finally figured out why MLM, religious fanaticism, diet fads, and conspiracy theorists all disturb me in the same way.

It’s because they ARE the same; they just have different objects of obsession.

A conspiracy theorist is obsessed with his secret knowledge of a nefarious plot by invisible agents. And  anyone who disagrees with the theory is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A religious fanatic is obsessed with his secret knowledge of a divine being that protects him from nefarious plots by invisible agents. And  anyone who disagrees with the system is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A MLM salesperson has secret knowledge of how to get rich and thinks that anyone who disagrees with the method is not seeing the ‘truth’.

A diet fadder has secret knowledge of this one diet that will make you lose tons of weight AND cure cancer AND cure autism AND cure diabetes… but only if you accept THEIR truth, which is to exclude X from your diet. Anyone who does not agree is going to DIE. 

Please note, I’m not saying you’re stupid if you’ve fallen for one of these. I’m just saying have a look at your motives; why you want to belong; why you get angry when others disagree with you; why you focus on what reassures you in your belief and do not look at countervailing evidence.







Mlm vs religion vs conspiracy

Thursday, 4 September 2014

etymology of first, former, and second.

It may have occurred to the reader that our ordinal series is rather odd.

Look; fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. make some sort of sense because they’re just the cardinal number followed by -th.

However, first, second, and to a lesser degree third, are odd.

Here’s the story.

Think of the word ‘former’; it means “what came before”, or something to that effect. It comes from Old English “Forman”, e.g. ‘forman sithe’ means “the first since”, or “the most recent”. So, by a bit of bad pronunciation, we can see that the fir- part of fir-st comes from ‘former’. Now, consider degrees of comparison; we have -st to indicate extremes. So; largest = most large; most = most more (more-est), fattest = most fat, etc. So, most former, formerest = first. Just a bit of bad pronunciation or laziness led to ‘first’ from ‘former’st’. Interestingly, Swedish has ‘först’ as well, pronounced the same.

Now, consider the Afrikaans word, ‘eerst’. It seems strange, but it’s not. In early modern English we have the word ‘ere’, meaning ‘before’. It survives in ‘early’ - meaning ‘before-like’. Similarly, ‘erstwhile’ - meaning ‘at first’ or ‘previously’. Erst being, then a combination of the extreme -st ending and 'ere.’  I seem to recall that the Old English was Aer. At any rate, why then did English favour ‘former’st’ rather than ‘erst’? I can’t tell. Perhaps ‘erst’ seemed too ambiguous?

Then let’s look at second. This one’s easy; it’s straight from Latin secundus. However, why would English have chosen that over, say, twoth, or twost? In German we have zweite, Afrikaans we have tweede, so we should have twoth or twooth or tweeth. But I suppose with the way we pronounce ‘two’ (too), it would sound like ‘tooth’, or ’teeth' and therefore be ambiguous. So it was discarded.

Then third. Again, this is easy. Vowels and R often swap around; consider OE “brid” (bird), or OE Thurh (Thru). So, ’thri’ (3) in old english, when made into an ordinal, became ’thrid’ or ’thri∂', which is easy to see how it would become ’third’. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

absence of evidence, gnostic atheism, and why the hiddenness problem needs an answer.

I think absence of evidence contributes to the Bayesian measure of the lower likelihood of theism. Theists have to answer the hiddenness of God given some kind of rationale that atheists would accept in order to disregard the absence of evidence. Indeed, it is precisely the absence of evidence that makes us atheists. Look: if there was any evidence, any whatsoever, we'd accept it was evidence and modify our beliefs... so... no. The absence of evidence is evidence that there's absence.

Regarding disproving god gnostically, here's a simple proof.
1. God is supernatural
2. The natural world and supernatural world by definition cannot interact (indeed, this was Descartes' problem with the pineal gland)
3. Therefore, God cannot interact with the world at all
4. Therefore either God does not exist or God is never causally efficacious.

1. The supernatural SO CAN TOO interact with the natural world, because I said so.

1. Then distinguish, please, natural from supernatural.

The thing is, anything that is detectable within the natural world, makes use of natural-world media to exist and make its presence known. I realise this description is unduly anthropomorphic, but think about it without imputing personas. Take an example. Magnetism. We can’t see it directly. But we see its effects. It has an effect in the natural world. Must we assume magnetism is supernatural? No; it is merely invisible; like oxygen. So anything which can have an effect in the natural world is natural, even if it is invisible. Suppose God was able to change my destiny by performing certain actions; e.g. suppose I were crossing a road, and he decided that the bus heading towards me must be halted. He can presumably halt it because he is omnipotent. Suppose the bus does indeed stop, because God made it stop. He has caused a physical effect in the physical world. One must assume, therefore, that he used a physical means to do so; e.g. he used a strong magnetic field to pull the bus backwards, or he used electrostatics to cause the brakes to clamp down hard, etc. 

This brings us back to Descartes. Are spirits, like human souls, or God, or angels, or ghosts, etc., really supernatural? IF they can affect the natural world, they must be part of our space-time continuum and therefore natural. Therefore, they must comprise a form of energy and be in principle detectable to scientific measurement, since they are detectable via their actions to our unaided eyes. So, it follows, God and souls and ghosts are natural and material and detectable by science. 

Yet we fail to repeatably detect them. This bespeaks absence rather than causal inefficacy. Here’s the proposal:

1. Events in this world are caused by divine intervention or not.

2. Events in this world can be explained fully by mechanical means/physicalist means.

3. We have no strong repeatable evidence of divine intervention.

4. Divine intervention requires that the intervention be of a physicalist nature, since anything which can cause effects in this space-time continuum is by definition physical.

5. (3) and (4) jointly lower the probability of events being caused by divine intervention.

6. (2) shows that we do not require divine intervention explanations for all known cases.

7. Therefore, divine intervention most likely does not occur.

8. Therefore, again, either God does not exist or God does not intervene.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

how to disable hover track changes tooltips in apple pages

how to disable hover track changes tooltips in apple pages

The symptom is you have change tracking enabled and whenever you stop your mouse movement for a few seconds, a tooltip appears blocking the text so you can’t read or edit.





(e.g. using sudo vi)


/Applications/iWork\ \'09/Pages.app/Contents/Resources/Defaults.plist

change the key SFTDefaultShowTooltip from true to false:

search using 









To edit or make a change, cursor to the word "true" and press the X key four times... then press i to insert, type "false", press esc key, then :wq!


I don’t know if the following works, but it returns no error and makes no change: … please email me if you find a way to make this method work.

defaults write


SFTDefaultsShowTooltip -bool false


Saturday, 23 August 2014

etymology of ravens and crows

It just occurred to me that raven and crow are the same word.


Grimm’s law allows h <-> k/c/g between Latin and Germanic; here are some examples:

heart -> card (cardiac)  (h -> c)

garden (yard) -> hortis (horticulture) (g -> h)

hundred -> cent (century) (h -> c)

Examples of lenition (softening) of gutturals or stops in Germanic occurs in similar examples:

Ich (German)

Ik (Dutch)

Ek (Afrikaans)

Ic (Old English)

I (modern English)


Take old English Hraefn or Norse Hravn for Raven. Icelandic pronounces Hr as Kr. Similarly, assuming the H was pronounced and gradually lenited till it disappeared in modern English, we have Kravn -> Raven

But look.

Latin has Corvinus for Crow. (Crvn) Compare this now to the Kravn above.

Yet the Grimm’s law h->k/c shows that Corvin -> Horvin or Hrovin.

Crow and Raven are the same word from presumably a proto Indo European *Korvin or similar.

Now, how is Crow the same as Latin Corvinus? This is easy. Swapping letters around is commonplace; think of “third” vs “three”, or German “Durch” vs English “Through” (OE: Thurh). Thurh in Old English in particular gives three change examples: D in German to Th in English; UR/RU swap; and lenition of the guttural German CH to H in English. So… take Crow in English. W/V/U are interchangeable across Europe under Grimm’s law… (remember: V is actually just latin U, and W is called “double u," not "double vee")… so we get Crov. Then swap OR/RO like in Through/Durch or Three/Third… (OE: Thri; Thrid)… result: Corv; the Latin stem.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

mysql 5.0-5.6 upgrade error

InnoDB: Recalculation of persistent statistics requested for table "roundcubemail"."session" but the required persistent statistics storage is not present or is corrupted. Using transient stats instead"


between 5.0/5.1 and 5.5/5.6 they did some major re-working of the internal structure of the mysql main database. 


run commands to verify and then restart it in a safe mode.

so pretty much service mysqld stop, mysqld_safe, service mysqld stop, service mysqld start


ERROR 2049 (HY000): Connection using old (pre-4.1.1) authentication protocol refused (client option 'secure_auth' enabled)

This will happen usually when you upgrade from 5.0/5.1 to 5.5 or higher.

So, first thing, shutdown mysql:

shell> service mysqld stop

Then, check if the files / folders in your mysql directory have been changed to own by root, this happened with us.

shell> chown -R mysql.mysql /var/lib/mysql

Then restart and tell it to not worry about privileges / permissions:

shell> sudo mysqld --skip-grant-tables &

You will then be able to login without a username / password:

shell> mysql

mysql> UPDATE mysql.user SET Password=PASSWORD(’NEW_PASSWORD') where User='root’;


Stop Mysql and start it up again normally (not with the skip-grant tables)
shell> service mysqld stop

shell>sudo service mysqld start

Your new password should now work.

Then, run the command:

shell> mysql_upgrade -u root -p

this will check your tables and fix most problems, watch the output and make sure all is okay.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

how to fix landfill problems

make it mandatory that all packaging is cardboard (and waxed if it has to be waterproof)... manufactured from beeswax (for encouraging increasing bee populations)... and recycled/cultivated paper/wood... and then recycle it. The trouble with recycling is most products consist of multiple different substances, so you have to spend like 10 minutes per packaging item separating the plastic from the paper from the cellophane from the polystyrene, etc etc... and then the municipality doesn't provide separate bins... and then in your house you have to have four different dustbins in every room. It's BS. Choose one packaging material and stick with it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014



Thursday, 26 June 2014

another arbitrary etymology: gaelic

if we take it that Grimm's law is right about gw <-> w <-> q

qui/quo -> who

quad -> what 

guerilla -> warrior

guerre -> war

guarantee -> warranty

we get that 

Celtic, Gaelic, Walloon, Wales, Welsh, Cornwall, Gallic, all refer to the same tribe of people.

Obviously, the rooster association with France is because of the Latin stem gall- in gallus, meaning rooster, compare to the apparently unrelated pollo meaning chicken. It's possible that we have a p/q swap here, like penta/quint- (5), in which case gall-/poll- might be related (Q vs P gaelic, like welsh vs irish).

At any rate, this leads me to suggest that the Celts from France to Ireland originally called themselves *Gwal-, and my guess would be that it meant 'people', since that's more or less what other tribes call themselves, e.g. Bantu/Botho (people), Thiud/Deutsch/Dutch (people)... etc.

Obviously, there's a different tribe of Gaelic speaking people that take the name 'Brit' - as in Britain, Briton, Bretaigne, Brittany.

Some examples of Gaelic -> Latin:

righ -> rex -> German “recht” (as in ‘might is right’) - king

tarbh -> taurus (bull) … pronounced ‘tarv’, again we see Grimm’s law where v->u/w

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Voting tomorrow and still undecided


So South Africa votes for the fifth time tomorrow in "free" elections (wherein all people who are eligible may do so regardless of colour)... but I'm still undecided as to who to vote for.

How to decide

I recognise obviously that one doesn't have to vote for the same bunch for local/provincial and for national. There's a difference in asking who do you want to run your street? VS who do you want to run the country? I'm pretty sure I won't vote for the same people in both cases. Look. You may want, for example, that your shiny upper class suburb remains clean. In that case, you might vote for whoever will poke their nose into the neighbours who hang laundry over the wall and whoever will stop the litterbugs. However, you might also recognise that most people in the country are poor, and therefore you should vote for whoever will help THEM the most at a national level, not who will help YOU the most. In that case, you should consult the list below and see who you think will help the poor most of all, not you. Remember: you're voting for who you think will fix the country, not who you think will keep capitalism alive and well and your cushy lifestyle the same. Naturally, these things need not be contradictions; maybe one party can do both.

Wasting and Spoiling

I also recognise there are arguments about "wasting" your vote. Many people argue that spoiling your ballot paper, or voting for a smaller party, is a "waste" because it "won't help get the ANC out of power". So a lot of people say the ANC is bad and only the DA is big enough to get them out. But while there are plenty of arguments back and forth about this one, my view is that ANY votes that don't go to ANC will help reduce their dominance. There's a secondary question of whether their dominance "ought" to be reduced, and I'll address that below.

The question - whether one should vote for a smaller party, or spoil one's ballot, is what we're addressing here. In favour of spoiling: this is a way of saying to the ANC that you're not happy, without "betraying" them if you are in fact a supporter. It's a way of saying to the ANC, "I think you're the right guys, but I don't like JZ". By spoiling, you're not supporting someone else, you're just withholding support from the ANC, and thereby reducing their majority. Remember: the objective, if you're unhappy with the ANC, is to reduce their majority, not necessarily replace them with something that may or may not be better.

Regarding "wasting" a vote by voting for a smaller party, there are two points to consider. Firstly, how does a smaller party become a bigger party if no-one votes for it? If you really agree with a smaller party, then by all means, vote for it, because otherwise it will never grow to the size of the ANC or DA. The effect of voting for a smaller party is more or less the same as spoiling: you are taking power away from the ANC without necessarily giving it to the DA.  But statistically speaking, it's a spoilt ballot until the smaller parties are bigger. The way they need to get bigger is door-to-door campaigning and people actually joining up and committing to them. ANC and DA do it, Agang do it, etc. 

ANC - as bad as you think?

On the second question, of whether you think the ANC need a wake-up call, or to be removed from power. Having worked "on the inside" directly with ANC members in government, I can say the following:

a) The claim that the ANC is corrupt is a gross generalisation. They are very strict about corruption and fire you after due process if found guilty. Corruption meaning nepotism and or bribery. Of course, some members have gotten away with certain actions that might be deemed corrupt, but in cases where the person was convicted, they were removed. It seems to me, from the inside again, that corruption is a minor problem overblown by the press, with some unfortunate egregious examples which are grossly unacceptable - e.g. the Free State Website issue (140million), Nkandla (not sure if it was corruption rather than as Madonsela put it, undue enrichment, because no bribe was exchanged), the Gupta nonsense (favoritism), etc. These are particular cases which show that the corruption management is not strong enough and exempts some people; these examples do not show that the ANC broadly is corrupt. But what I can tell you is that the corruption management is much stronger than in corporate sector. Any accusation and an investigation goes under way with hearings etc. 

b) Corruption comes from corporate sector bribing government officials for tenders, in many cases because they do not want to subscribe to BEE or follow due tender process so as to "get a competitive edge". A common approach is the "Free donation" approach with a later contractual commitment to payment. Since the offer is "free", government takes it. In other words, it's not just the corrupt members' fault, it's the corporates who are doing the bribery. It takes two to tango, in other words. Corruption is NOT just an ANC hobby. You also have to ask who gets the tender, and why? I assure you that it is DEFINITELY not only cadres who get tenders. Big name white-majority corporations get tenders. You only have to get 10% score for BEE. The rest is your pricing, service levels, experience, national footprint, etc. The problem, in fact, is not just crony capitalism but also bribery by capitalists.

c) What else have the ANC putatively failed at? Service delivery? One can make this argument, but it's harder to make when you do the maths and see what costs are involved. Let's take the example I'm familiar with. Education. We have about 18000 rural schools which were not funded by the apartheid government. Yes, it really is apartheid's fault. Let me show you why. The DBE currently has a project called 'ASIDI' which refurbishes a rural school each week at a cost of R 2 million. (ARRGH, I hear you say, Nkandla could have funded 125 schools!). Yes. 125 schools is 0.69% of the schools in rural areas.  The state of the schools in rural areas is a far bigger problem that gets zero press. BTW. 2 million is to convert a school from mud to brick. Bear in mind that 2 million gets you a middle class family home in Joburg. 2 million does not convert Hlabiso High into St John's College. That is what would be required for actual equality.

Now let's work out how much it will cost to undo the damage of apartheid. 2 million x 18000 schools = R 36 billion. At one school a week, that's 346 years. Thanks mnr Verwoerd. Now, consider the DBE's budget. The DBE gets a large proportion of national budget, but they also have to pay teacher salaries. There are about 10 000 DBE officials and 380000 teachers, total 390000 roughly. Suppose the average salary is R 20 000 (including lowest and highest paid). That means the salary budget must be around 8 billion ZAR per month. 96bn per annum. Now add refurbing schools. Let's say we cranked it up to try finish all schools within five years. That's 7.2bn per annum. Total: 103.2bn per annum. As you may gather, that's a fair sum and excludes running costs, building maintenance, non-teaching staff, etc. Perhaps, then, what is called for instead is transparency around the detail of the budgeting and expenditure process rather than whining about why it's taking so long. I'm pretty sure there are legitimate reasons why it takes so long to undo a mess of this size. Remember that the Nats only had to uplift about 2 million Afrikaners, and it took them from 1948 to 1994 (well, probably till independence in 1967ish). 45 million people is a bigger task (+-22 times bigger), so it takes longer. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable for the country to resolve its problems after 400 years, on that factor of 22 times, EXCLUDING population growth. I am pretty sure it will be sorted out before then.

d) My biggest complaint with the ANC is their discourse and by implication attitude: They are the "ruling" party (not civil servants) that will "rule till Jesus comes" and to vote for anyone else is to vote for "the devil" (All JZ's phrases). These kinds of quasi-religious statements are Stalinist in leaning. Add the POSIB to this, and you have a distinct nose of Nat about you, matured from a local varietal. I do not care for Stalinism. The party is not beyond question, even if the questioning is in closed doors, it is not above questions. Then add on top of that the arrogance of the eToll thing, which met with uniform resistance from the public, and Nazir Ali was never called in, or told to cool it with the fascist rhetoric. It's very unfortunate. 

Who then?

For me, the problem with all the parties centre not on their policies, which are mostly similar or the same, but the character and personality of their leaders. Most of them lose credibility because of their lousy leaders.

But who are the realistic choices? In my current thinking, there are very few realistic choices. I'm only going to list the parties I've heard of and who have contested the past few elections. Very small parties and parties that didn't contest the last elections aren't here. Sorry.

In alphabetic order:

ACDP - I can't understand why their leadership has never changed, and why they are unaware that Christianity was a tool of colonialism. I see these guys as being like the Republicans in the USA. They say nothing interesting, and their policies are not publicised enough. I'm pretty sure they'll just turn the place into Swaziland if they ruled it.

Agang - Their policies are similar to the DA - hence the unfortunate attempt at a merger - but minus the youth wage thing. But what worries me about them is why Ramphele went into the deal with the DA in the first place and announced it before confirming with her members. Plus she kissed Zille. Ouch. 

ANC - From the insider's perspective, I can say they're not nearly as bad as the press makes out. However, if I was the leader of a putatively pro-poor organisation, I'd not pay a huge fortune for a lavish house, nor would I practice blatant favoritism of some corporate sector people. The problems around corruption are addressed above. They're a side show. The real issue is slow delivery and an unpopular leader. Let's put it this way. If the ANC were incompetent, this place would have collapsed ages ago. Yet things have improved for most people (free education, free housing, free water/lights, new houses and schools, etc) under ANC. So they can’t be that bad.

COPE - I can't tell them and Agang apart, apart from leadership. They seem to be pro-poor, and they seem to be ANC-lite-ish... but... what else? Disaffected ex-ANC people who want to cling to power? Same as EFF minus the anti-corporate venom? I do not know why I should vote for them at all. Differentiate your brand.

DA - Zille is the problem. I cannot vote for her. From her "AIDS + sex = attempted murder" idiocy, to her botched merger with Agang, to her various other gaffes like marching to Luthuli house just to piss the ANC off - it's clear that she's actually not really in touch with what the majority of the people in this country think, live, experience and believe. No matter how much she can dance, no matter that she speaks Xhosa, etc. The fact that people in CT are flinging poo at her tells you something about her attitude. The DA generally are too pro-corporate in the country with the highest GINI coefficient. Their 'youth wage subsidy' strikes me as unsustainable and lacking in imagination as to how to undo poverty. They do have pro-BEE policies - presumably because they need to gain traction outside of suburban enclaves - but I don't believe that they really believe in those policies (lip service), or that they think (really) that they will work. They just lack imagination when it comes to poverty. My joke is that DA stands for Domestic Alliance - We Stand for your Right to Have a Domestic Servant™.

EFF - Malema is the problem. And not because he’s stupid. But because he’s demagogish. Their policies are coherent with the ANC's original Freedom Charter and with the Communist Manifesto, and some of their policies make sense in the light of the poverty in this country. So for example I want to know who says I can't just take an empty piece of land and build on it, and why? I find the concept of land ownership - particularly large empty tracts - and land inheritance - again of large empty tracts - bizarre - and agree with Malema on this point. I want to know the history of e.g. the mines and who T.F. said that only family X is allowed to tunnel in the ground and dig out stuff of dubious but nonetheless great monetary value. So in that sense I agree with him. However, if only Malema didn't wear Breitling and live in Sandton, and instead was humble and downplayed everything, and if he himself hadn't been involved in a dodgy tender... maybe he'd be more plausible. He smacks of someone who enjoyed power as ANCYL president, then lost it, and will do and say absolutely anything to get it back. He even is now begging for the poorwhite vote, when previously he was singing kill the boer. But at least EFF stands for something. That makes them favourites for big growth in this election - simply because you know what they stand for, and it's different. I’d consider voting for them if it weren’t for the “loyalty” thing that one gets from the ANC.

IFP - Who? Oh yes; that minority party of Zulus in the Zulu homeland. I don't know why they don't just give up and merge with ACDP or DA already. Their policies are not significantly different.

SACP - Merged with EFF, got IIRC 1% in the last election, so insignificant. All they do now is put up posters saying Vote ANC. 

UDM - A similar problem to ACDP minus the religious slant. I'm not sure what they stand for or why their leadership is so static. Again, why should I vote for them? Give me a reason. Differentiate your brand.

VF - you must be kidding. Everyone can see that you wish apartheid was still in force, and that you only have the narrow interests of the Afrikaner at heart. Go away and live in Orania already. Tsek.


Anyone not on this list above is probably too small at this stage to be anything but a spoilt ballot. Look; it's pretty inevitable that coalitions will form after the elections. My predictions are as follows:

- EFF will get a good showing

- COPE/UDM might merge with each other or someone else e.g. DA/Agang

- DA/Agang will be forced into mergers or coalitions especially at municipal level

- ANC will continue to rule with a slightly lower margin.

- DA will retain the WC and make no gains otherwise.


As you can see from the above, we have a choice between idiots (VF, IFP, ACDP), bland no-name branders (UDM, COPE), parties that lack the balls to remove their bad leaders (DA, ANC), bad ideas (VF, DA), even worse ideas (EFF, SACP), and more of the same (ANC).

Even with this thought exercise, I still can't see who to vote for. I'm leaning towards Agang, but only because I don't know what UDM or COPE stand for, and at least Ramphele has a PhD. If you read the EFF's manifesto, a lot of it makes sense in the light of the poverty and GINI coefficient here, BUT malema and BUT the corporates will run away and take their jobs with them (which is why I say "even worse ideas"). Then again, the DA's policies also make some sense, but Zille is too horrid to vote for, and they're really not showing enough commitment to poverty issues. In fact, someone I know just said they're "ANC lite". And then there's the ANC, which, if voted for, means "more of the same" and again, insufficient focus on poverty issues and more of JZ.

Maybe *I* should run for the next elections.

Friday, 2 May 2014

belief systems and their harm

If any belief system, whether secular or religious, sets out to do any of the following, I consider it bad for humankind:

a) It advocates harm to others, either as punishment or for merely disagreeing with it;
b) It is not based on empirical observation;
c) It claims that other belief systems are false on purely stated/a priori grounds, rather than empirical grounds (e.g. that they make no regular predictions).

I believe this list of criteria, if practiced, will solve humanity's problems. However, people are far too fond of doing the opposite:

a) Advocating harm to those who disagree or who do wrong as decided in an arbitrary set of rules;
b) Base things on what their parents or other elders told them;
c) Love stating that others are in moral or spiritual jeopardy for failing to recognise the legitimacy of the system, rather than on empirical (visible/measurable) grounds;

Moreover, I believe that any system which has the following requirements is inherently a cult and bad for humanity (whether a "scientific" system or a "spiritual" system:

a) It says that it is forbidden to question the leader(s) or belief system that they espouse;
b) it prohibits rejection of the system once it is accepted as "true"
c) it has special behavioural requirements such as dress or other visible markers to distinguish its practitioners as being "special" or "in touch with" some "higher" truth claims.

installing apache apr on tomcat

get apr from http://apr.apache.org
tar zxvf apr-1.4.2.tar.gz

make test (not necessary)
make install
(puts the files into /usr/local/apr)

yum install apr-devel openssl-devel

cd /usr/local/tomcat/bin
tar zxvf tomcat-native.tar.gz
cd tomcat-native-1.1.16-src
cd jni/native

./configure --with-apr=/usr/local/apr/ --with-java-home=$JAVA_HOME --prefix=$CATALINA_HOME --with-ssl=yes 

make install

cp .libs/libtcnative-1.* /usr/lib/java-latest/

make sure that the soft link is also copied, if not:
ln -s libtcnative-1.dylib  libtcnative-1.jnilib

make sure you do the below or it cannot find APR
vim /etc/profile.d/java.sh

you will also need apr-utils

so download from same page

cd into apr-utils src dir
./configure --with-apr=/usr/local/apr/ --with-ldap

make install

Restart tomcat.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

converting video with ffmpeg

useful guide:


this is also useful: how to extract images.


Friday, 4 April 2014


I hereby declare obviosity is so a word.


Google says it was coined in 1929, based on its search of the entire public domain English text corpus.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

roundcubemail customisation and installation


setting up roundcube mail

1. Install the RPM and dependencies.


      mysql -u root -p' .... ' < '


      create database roundcubemail;


      create user roundcube@localhost identified by 'somepass';


      grant all on roundcubemail.* to roundcube@localhost;


    flush privileges;'

3. then

mysql -u root -p roundcubemail < /usr/share/doc/roundcubemail-0.9.5/SQL/mysql.initial.sql

4. then


edit line to say

$rcmail_config['db_dsnw'] = 'mysql://roundcube:somepass@localhost/roundcubemail';

5. then


and add the following directive

      Alias /roundcube/ "/usr/share/roundcubemail/"


      <Directory "/usr/share/roundcubemail/">


      AllowOverride All


      Options Indexes All


      Order allow,deny


      Allow from all




6. Go to <your host domain name (not FQDN) > /roundcube/


1. ensure that /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs exists and is owned by apache. Create a file 'error' in there with the same ownership.

mkdir -p  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

touch /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs/error

chown -R apache:apache  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

chmod -R 775  /usr/share/roundcubemail/logs

2. set the same ownership on /etc/roundcubemail

the symptom is a white screen and this error in apache log:

DB Error: Configuration error. Unsupported database driver: in /usr/share/roundcubemail/program/lib/Roundcube/rcube_db. php on line 75 (GET /roundcubemail/)

              chown -R apache:apache    /etc/roundcubemail


               db.inc.php and put in the database password and username

3. Moaning about the timezone:

you have to edit the offending files and insert your timezone, e.g.


line 436 or thereabouts of file rcube_config.php is particularly different:


return $timezone; #; date_default_timezone_get();  /*jmo */

all other files you can just put


the file rcube.php (line 1023) needs this too. 

4. Moaning about missing tables:

login to mysql and create a database roundcubemail

create database roundcubemail character set utf8;

grant all on roundcubemail.* to 'roundcube'@'localhost' identified by 'somepass'; 

then on the commandline (bash):

             mysql roundcubemail -u root -p < /usr/share/doc/roundcubemail-0.9.5/SQL/mysql.initial.sql


5. Setting it to use Gmail:



and tell it

$rcmail_config['default_host'] = 'ssl://imap.gmail.com';

// TCP port used for IMAP connections
$rcmail_config['default_port'] = 993;

6. To customise it

             Edit /usr/share/roundcubemail/skins/larry or classic

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

php complaining about dates

If you get this error

date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier.

then just manually put the following code (With appropriate changes) into your code, just before any call to date() or anything related.


That fixes it.

Friday, 7 March 2014

the "hobbit" homo floresiensis

@katewong @sciam big diff betw. florensiensis and sediba. Face angle to start with. Age also differs by well over 2my

@johnostrowick Interested b/c both species show surprising combos of Australopithecus & Homo traits, & b/c flores ancestor is a big mystery

@katewong @sciam I "scarequoted" "new" as Jungers dates to 2009 - Vol 459|7 May 2009|doi:10.1038/nature07989 The foot of Homo floresiensis

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

vaccination is not eugenics.

Would you rather have a twisted, deformed child? Would you rather risk inflicting the same damage on other peoples' children? Polio has almost been eradicated except for ignorant backwaters.

The following is a HOAX and scare tactics. If 48 000 children had died, it would be world news! Yet this article appears only on about 100 FRAUD HOAX CONSPIRACY websites.


Wake Up Call • 48,000 Children in India Paralysed by Bill Gates’ Polio Vaccine (link)

India and Chad? Definitely part of the Illuminati eugenics agenda. Bill Gates waffles in reply to a journalist’s question quoting 48,000 Indian children paralysed. He doesn’t deny the figure. ‘Is the vaccination program in fact a eugenics program?’, he is asked. He explains how he believes in withdrawing care from old people as it’s too expensive, and he prefers to fund education, and vaccination instead. Hello Liverpool Care Pathway. The vaccines he distributes have also been shown to be causing the very diseases they are intended to prevent. Richard Branson and Ewen McGregor are publicly supporting his campaign, resulting in mass paralysis of children in India and Chad. The human abattoir is run by smiling, nice-looking people saying very nice words. Shame! They’re mass murderers. Source http://2012thebigpicture.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/48000-children-in-india-paralysed-by-bill-gates-polio-vaccine/ http://piereportnews.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/48000-children-in-india-paralysed-by-bill-gates-polio-vaccine/read full article



Sunday, 23 February 2014

some useful french etymologies

If like me you find french words frustrating because they're not always obviously latin (and therefore it's hard to guess what they're supposed to mean), here're three etymologies for three common words whose origins are apparently obscure at first sight.

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 24 53 PM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 27 35 PM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 32 53 PM

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Apple Pages Table of Contents problems

If you use Apple Pages you'll know that getting the table of contents (TOC) to cooperate isn't that easy.

see this page:


It doesn't tell you how to generate a TOC though. To do that, you have to select a few styles in the styles drawer, and use them, and then under the Inspector -> Document -> TOC choose those styles to appear in the TOC. Then go to Edit -> insert TOC.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

stolen phone in SA


If you get a smartphone, e.g. an iPhone, stolen in SA, this is what you have to do:

Day 1.

1. Login to Find my phone on apple's website and find the phone. Tell it to "remote erase". http://www.apple.com/icloud/find-my-iphone.html



If you didn't enable the self-destruct feature or the find-my-iphone app, you will remember to do so with your next one.

2. In the meantime, change your login password on the apple app store: http://appleid.apple.com

If you don't do this, they can buy apps in your name with your credit card details. They can also change your password and lock you out.

3. Find the box of your phone at home and phone your service provider (Cellular) and tell them the IMEI number and serial number of the stolen or lost phone. Ask them to block the SIM card and the phone serial number. They will ask you for a police case number. You have to call them back. If you don't do this, you will be paying someone else's phone bill. By doing this you stop them from using the phone. 

4. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Google, and any other subscription-based sites you signed up for, and change your password immediately. Look in your iTunes on your PC/Mac and see what apps you had installed. Go to the web sites of all those apps and change your password(s). Otherwise your facebook account, for example, might start sending requests for financial assistance to your entire friend list - and you won't be able to log in and stop it. Importantly, login to services like Dropbox and others that store/memorise which device is linked to your account, and remove the device that was stolen. (All cloud services do this).  

5. Go to iTunes > Store > View Account > Account Information > Deauthorise All ; Manage Devices > and remove the offending device.

6. Go to the police and get your case number, and phone it through to your insurance company.

7. Phone your bank and ask them to change your banking PIN and disable internet banking access for that phone. 

8. Make voodoo doll of suspected thief and stab repeatedly with a pin.*  


Day 2. 

9. Wait for insurance company to contact you. They will order a new phone from a supplier. You will have to go to the supplier to collect it, most likely.

10. Take the new phone to your service provider (cellular). Any one of their stores will do. Take your utility bill and your ID, as they will need to "RICA" you again. Ask for a "SIM Swap". Tell them your old IMEI/SIM number and ask them to move your previous phone number to a new SIM. They will charge you R 20 or so for this apart from the cost of the new SIM.

The reason you do step 10 after step 9 is that your new phone might take a different size of SIM card, so you need to know which phone they're giving you. In my case, I had an iPhone 4 and was moved to a 4S, so I had to get a micro SIM.

11. Insert SIM in new phone and keep phone off and charging for 24 hours.

Day 3

12. Boot up your phone, and start reinstalling your apps. If the phone says there's no connection to the cellular network, then that means the SIM swap didn't work - go back to step 10.

13. Turn on passwording and require a PIN to unlock the phone.

14. Install Find my iPhone from the app store.

Monday, 3 February 2014

some thoughts on "ANC corruption"

Has it ever occurred to people in the DA and other critics that:

1. There's not just a corrupt person, there is a person doing the corrupting?

2. That people who don't meet government criteria e.g. BB-BEE might be willing to bribe their way into having products or services accepted?

3. That perhaps it is corporate sector (mostly DA-supporting) who are bribing their way through obstacles in the legislature, and that therefore it is corporate greed that is the starting point of corruption?

Just a thought.

Monday, 27 January 2014

vodafone mobile phone on mac os x

For some reason, when you install a vodafone wifi 3g modem, it has this obnoxious thing that it does wherein it sets your home page of your web browser to the modem's administrative IP address ( or similar). Then, no matter how many times you reset your homepage in your web browser, it has no effect. Moreover it doesn't officially tamper with this; it sets it somewhere else. It's almost as if it intercepts every first attempt to connect to the web and displays the admin screen instead. This is particularly annoying as it does it every time you open a new web browser.

To stop this behaviour, you have to do the following:

1. Open the terminal and type


sudo su

and give your password when prompted.


2. Relocate the Vodafone drivers


mkdir /var/root/junk/

mv /usr/local/bin/VMRServer /var/root/junk/

mv /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/de.novamedia.VMRServer.plist /var/root/junk/ 


3. Remove all the stuff in


pertaining to novamedia


               ls /var/db/receipts/*novamedia* | xargs rm

4. Remove all the stuff in /var/db/BootCaches/ pertaining to novamedia (it will be in some long-serial-number folder).. try

               find /var/db/BootCaches/ -name *novamedia*

5. Remove vodafone.wifi from your hosts file

              sudo  vi /etc/hosts

remove the line 


by typing


on the line

6. Reboot or type

               killall VMRServer


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Peugeot 407 cruise control weirdness

I've seen many posts on Peugeot chat sites without a clear solution.

The Peugeot 407 (2004 or thereabouts) has a tricky cruise control system.

In particular, if you press the plus or minus button on the stick, it just blinks at you instead of setting the speed.

Do the following.

1. Get into 5th gear (if applicable)

2. Take your foot off the clutch and or brake. Completely off.

3. Accelerate to the desired speed and hold it there.

4. Turn the cruise control dial to "on". As far as I can see, you can permanently leave it in this position.

5. Press the plus button behind the cruise control stick (on the back side).


To disengage cruise control, do any of the following:

1. Press the Pause button on the end of the cruise control stick

2. Press the brake or clutch

To speed up or down when in cruise control mode, simply use the + or - set buttons on the stick. Change speed slowly otherwise it won't work and will start blinking again. In particular, do not do this to overtake or slow down behind a truck, say. Its response time is too slow. Revert to full manual control in overtaking situations, it's much safer.

New slides


I presented the following set of slides (per voice) at the most recent PSSA conference in Bloemfontein.

It deals with the Libet debate and the question of free-will, that is, whether Libet's evidence that we perform actions unconsciously due to neurological events, rather than "freely choose" to "consciously" perform "actions".


Just discovered Nassim Nicholas Taleb

" One should never do anything without skin in the game. If you give advice, you need to be exposed to losses from it." https://e...