Friday, 29 April 2011

Global Financial Crisis

This is a post I have been avoiding for some time. It was a much heated topic and it left a lot of people asking themselves "wtf just happened?".

Enough time has passed now to thoroughly analyze it objectively, so let's do that. Firstly, what was it and who did it affect?

Strangely enough, it wasn't really a global financial crisis. The whole world panicked, but it only really affected America and their investors. China's economy steamrolled ahead, Europe's economy continued its long predicted and expected slump and as for Australia's economy, we kept shipping coal to China who still was happy to buy it from us so all was good.

Some people would disagree and say it was Krudd's stimulus package that saved us but there really is no sound reasoning behind this frivolous idea. Stimulus packages only affect the consumer side of the economy, I think the consumer side of the economy can crawl up in a ball and die. If the plethora of shopping centres all go bust then it can only help the economy in the long run as labor is shifted to more important industries. Again some people may disagree with this, but I'm not going to go on a tangent justifying this, save it for another post.

Why did it happen is the main question or was the main question on everyone's minds. I have two very different ideas on the matter. The first is the obvious. Private debt. In particular, bad debts. The US's private debt has long surpassed private savings and this is never a good thing for the economy.

Corporate debt is bad too, but the great thing about corporate debt is that you can just let the bankrupt companies die. A lot of people will lose their jobs but it creates a niche market for new investors to fill in the vacuum with a more successful company, adding greater strength to the economy in the long run.

This is why I facepalmed at the US goverment's decision to "bail out" companies. All that does is slow and lengthen the sick companies' deaths when what we should be doing is speeding it up. Think of it like amputating a gangrenous leg. This is the free market approach.

Unofortunately, it is not possible to do the same with all the millions of people who can't pay the interest on their credit card let alone their credit card debt, let alone their mortgage on their house. That is going to take a whole new generation of more money mastering minors.

Which brings me to my next little hypothesis on why it happened. Ever heard of economics driven by demographics? Put simply, it is the premise that economy is not driven by policy, it is driven by people. It's a fact that when people have families they will buy stuff for their kids, so when you have a whole generation popping out babies like no tomorrow then theres a huge demand for bibs and cribs and the like.

...And when a whole generation gets old and decides to retire then thats a huge drop in production (less skilled workers) and also consumption (suddenly the retirees have to budget their money to last them the rest of their lives, midn you some of them still spend it frivolously anyway).It's a recipe for recession.

I shall stop here. For any Americans still reading this though... how were you affected by the GFC and the credit crunch?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

State Science

So I recently read a fellow bloggers post about lasers. In particular how many central european nations are investing heavily in experimental laser technology. One particular laser in development needs about 9 petawatts just to run.I was tempted to jokingly suggest that it was for laser hair removal for all those hairy central europeans, but I refrained. I am part Hungarian so I can't really comment.

Perhaps they should make a new laser in washington dc. I'm sure laser hair removal in washington dc would be popular, but then again maybe we should wait until the first woman president :P

On a more serious note, I think the US could stand to shift their spending towards science. Directly or indirectly by increasing university budgets. I think Australia could too. It's a downright shame our universities cannot keep up with corporate research. That and I would like to see Australia have the world's biggest laser.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Normally I don't watch tv. Occasionally I eavesdrop an ad or a show while I am on my laptop. So I get snippets of some horrible ads about life insurance or home refinance loans and remortgaging but sometimes I see some entertaining or surprising ads. Some ads I even feel a chauvanistic pride in, like the portal 2 ads which have recently come about. (portal 2 is an awesome game btw, I just finished co op with a friend last night). One uninteresting but surprising ad I saw was an ad for for free webhosting and domains etc.

What a new world we live in... I remember a time when ads for games and domains and anything to do with the net were non existent. Times have changed though, there is a new world out there and territory has been claimed and is continuing to be claimed. I'm surprised I haven't seen ads for yahoo webhosting on tv yet.

What fascinates me is how the word "domain" came to refer to online territory. Whenever I think of the word domain I get flashbacks to junior high school maths. defines domain thus "An area of territory owned or controlled by a ruler or government: "the southwestern French domains of the Plantagenets".
 Very true in my opinion.

 Only I'm not a ruler of my own domain, technically google is. That's cool. I don't mind. It's a mutually beneficial relationship as opposed to serfdom, which describes my relationship with the Australian government.

Unfortunately the goverment may become the ruler of my domain one day. Internet censorship could lead down that slippery slope. But for now, we are all happy rulers and tenants of our own little domains, living (relatively) free.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gay Marriage continued

So last post I put up a link reffering to one of our very own aussie journalists giving some hard core rhetoric regarding gay marriage. I'm not going too far in depth with it, It's not something I'm passionate about. I just don't see why there's any debate over it, it's trivial and why the hell shouldn't two hot lesbian chicks be able to marry each other?

I once saw a comedian explaining his view on the issue. He was completely against gay marriage. His reasoning was that marriage is a horrible institution invented to enslave men; why would we dream of unleashing such horror on gays as well? I laughed.

But I will be honest, I do think it's trivial. As far as I'm concerned marriage is just an extravagant declaration of love and who are we to deny anyone such a right?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Gay marriage link

Ah gay marriage, such a sensitive political topic but since politics is one of the big topics of my blog Iam obliged to discuss it. I would like to be lazy tonight though and as such I will just leave this link here for now...  :P

Friday, 22 April 2011

Mandatory Apologetic Blog Post

I must apologise to any of you who visit this blog daily in hopes to see a new blog post daily. I have been slack all week tbh. I was even considering not posting this post now but hey if you guys can bother to keep checking my blog out then i can be bothered posting.

It's been an interesting week for me and also a fun week. When Portal 2 came out I played it nonstop until  finished singleplayer. It was fun but I didn't end up sleeping. I only got home to play it at about 9pm and by the time I got to the final puzzles I was a zombie (perhaps I should have played left4dead 2 instead).

My niece was also on holidays and a friend from Townsville came down for the week. Aforementioned friend is also very big when it comes to gaming so every night for the last week has been gaming night. The game of choice has been starcraft 2.

Last year I played a lot of starcraft 2. mainly team games, but after I got my acheivement and selendis portrait for 750 team game wins I decided to try my hand at the 1v1's as random so I could get the templar decal (to make my nexus look cooler). And so for the few weeks I ground up the ladder, the whole college was filled each night with my screams of anguish, my breaking mice and keyboards but also my loud cries of victory.

In the end I stopped though. I am not sure why, I guess my life was changing at the time and I had more 'lifey' things to worry about. I have been worried since that If I ever tried to go back to the 1's I would have my ass handed to me. So my mate coming down to townsville has been great, I have been able to play my favourite RTS without the stress of 1v1's and fickle partners in the team games.

I do sincerely apologise for the delay in posts. Until next post, en taro easter bunny!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Space Exploration, Why We Need To Get Off This Rock

Sometimes I wake with plenty of topics in my mind that I feel like writing about in my blog. Sometimes I wake up with my literary and opinionated brain quagmired in mush that vaguely remind me of a simpson's episode where, Homer is happily has monkeys in his mind, clanging cymbals.

Thankfully this morning I woke up with a few ideas in mind. But when I saw a fellow bloggers blog ( with some news about NASA's Shuttles, I felt compelled to write something I am passionate about. Wayward Disposition frequently comments on my blog so I have no reason to restrain my flattery and not be inspired by his blog. :P

But anyway, Let's get blogging!

So why should humans explore space?

I can think of a million reasons, but for this blog I'll keep it short with a concise list:
-Why not?
-There are more resources out there in space
-Because space is awesome
-Because humanity like life itself is like a plague, we must spread and infect the whole galaxy ! :P
-Because Humanity's Survival Depends on it!

To be fair I can also think of reasons why we shouldn't explore space and go on a colonising frenzy...
-Safety, space is a hazardous environment
-Money, Sending things into space is expensive

But to me the concept of these two problems holding us back is ludicrous.
Thousands of slaves died working on the pyramids but did that stop the Egyptian Pharaohs?
And devoting entire cities' economies on such projects is a vast monetary strain that sent the Ancient Egyptian governemtn bankrupt again and again. But it didn't stop them.

Or how about the Panama Canal? Thousands died on that project, and it bankrupted the investors too. In the 1870's 400 million dollars was worth a lot more than it is today.

But how about an example closer to home... Do you think colonising America was cheap and safe for Britain? Or how about Australia? And yet, If not for The British Empire fronting up the bill for the fleets and risking the very lives of settlers (famine, pestilence, disease and hostile natives, need I say more?) I wouldn't be writing this, and you might not be reading it...

So the idea of us humans being held back from doing great things by the mere problems of safety and money is ludicrous. We certainly haven't been stopped by them in the past, so why should we bat an eyelid now?

And the NASA disasters that have happened over the years? Tragedies of course, but the only reason they occurred was because of NASA declining funding. It's a vicious circle, A NASA space shuttle blows up, so in turn NASA gets less funding and due to their lack of funding they cannot afford to keep their shuttles well maintained and safe and so another shuttle blows up and the cycle repeats. Give NASA more funding and  better safety protocols and these disasters will not happen.

It is no excuse for shying away from the heavens.

Then of course there are all the reasons to go ahead and colonise Mars etc. I would like to focus on just two...

Earth is our home, our caretaker, our mother. Our sun keeps us warm and supplies the energy for life, our fellow living beings use that energy to keep us alive. Earth's magnetic field keeps us safe from the solar winds, the ozone layer keeps us safe from dangerous radiation.
Earth was is our cradle, our birthplace, but it will become our deathbed.

One day, all life on earth will be extinguished. Perhaps it will be a massive meteor, or a supernova, or maybe even our own sun just getting old and fat (ie turning into a red giant). But it will happen without a doubt. You can't stop time, or at least we haven't figured it out yet...

Do you know the chances of earth getting  hit by an apocalyptic meteor? On a year to year basis, it is incredibly small, but if we don't leave this rock then it is a certainty. Earth has had countless collisions in its past and will do again, it's just gravity. In fact only ~100 years ago earth was hit by one that was 1000 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, we were lucky it hit siberia ( But this was only a small rock.

Now if we humans, were to say, colonise Mars, then Humanity would be permanently safe from meteors. Because to kill off humanity, apocalyptic meteors would have to hit Mars and Earth at roughly the same time. And the chances of this are infinitisimally small, It will never happen, not in a billion years.

And it is possible to colonise Mars. It's relatively easy to terraform it too... All that is required is plenty of pollution and greenhouse gases to make it habitable, something us humans are very good at producing. In the short term though, all that is required is a small colony living in a bubble with their own hydroponics farm and water and air recycling.

So let's do it. If not for us then for life at least, because wherever humans go, all life itself will follow.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

North Queensland Earthquake.

This afternoon I was happily catching up with a mate from Townsville who is down for the week. In the midst of it I received a text from another friend in Townsville saying there was an earthquake. I immediately thought the worst and pretty soon my conversation with my townsvillian comrade was tainted with worry.

AS it turns out the earthquake was nothing. The epicenter was not Townsville, it was some random patch of dirt between Ayr and Bowen. So while Townsville certainly felt a few tremors, no damage was done apart from perhaps farmer Fred's cowshed collapsing.

It still unnerves me slightly and arouses my curiosity. For starters there is the remarkable frequency of Earthquakes of late. First there was Christchurch, then Japan and now an earthquake in Queensland. Are they linked somehow? Are the tectonic plates under more stress than usual of late or is this a divine sign that the Last Days are upon us?

I personally doubt it. Nevertheless something is fishy. New Zealand and Japan are on the ring of fire so their respective earthquakes are not so out of the norm. The north Queensland earthquake hit the middle of a continental plate. Such earthquakes are rare unless there is a volcano near but there is no volcanic activity in Australia. Tectonically, Australia is a dead. Or was...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Mandatory Excitement Post

Remember how my graphcis card died last week? Well I'm picking up a new (and better) one today. I'm so excited. That is all. :D :D :D

Drone Strikes

When I first heard about drone strikes, I was a little bit concerned and I definitely shared an anti-US government sentiment regarding them.

Why? Because the prospect of another country using "bots" to bomb people out of nowhere is downright scary. And for Pakistanis, drone strikes are just a part of everyday life. How unfortunate they must be, how terrified, they must feel.

Only... apparently it only happens in the tribal areas. In fact the more I read about it, the more apathetic I feel towards the issue. Wikipedia seems to think that drone strikes are ok; they seem to be only hitting military (ie taliban) targets and civilian targets who spend a suspiciously large amount of time with said military targets.

And so far they have only killed a couple of thousand people (so the estimates say), which is nothing in the grand scheme of wars and such.

The counter argument to this is that whoever wrote or contributed to this wikipedia article has a strong bias. That may indeed be the case.

Nevertheless, I must congratulate the US on the ingenuity of using UAV's. It certainly keeps their own casualties down...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Honour Killing

So I was watching the last half of a documentary tonight. "Forbidden Lies" tells the story of a writer who wrote a book about an honor killing in Jordan, but as it turns out is a complete fraud.

Which I find sad really. Because these honor killings do occur, and all a fraudulent story serves to do is discredit all those true accounts out there. It is a very real problem.

Before I get too in depth with it though, I should explain what honor killing is. Put simply it is the killing of a family member in order to protect the family's honor. An example might be that a woman in the family committed adultery, if the girl knew she was found out then she might save her honor and her family's honor by suicide bombing some Israelis, if not then the family might kill her to save their honor. That might be an overgeneralisation but that is the gist of what happens.

It is wrong. Unfortunately I don't know how the problem can be solved. On one hand the problem seems rooted into the islamic belief system but if that is the case then why is the figure only 5000-20000 a year? If All muslims were that fundamentalist then presumably the figure would be higher. Then again, maybe the women of islam are just that good at following the laws and customs of their faith.

I'm somewhat inclined to side with Richard Dawkins on this one. If the Muslim faith is causing all these killings then this religion is dangerous.

Before I end this post on such a note however, I would like to add that women are not the only sufferers of honor killing. Fratricide is not as common but it does happen too. And let's not forgot those poor blokes out there who readily kill themselves because they feel they have let Allah and their family down.

As I said before, I can offer no solutions to this problem. But that is no reason to turn a blind eye to it. We all need to be aware of this travesty.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Religion as a Method of Cultural Assimilation

So I was playing empire total war yesterday, and the game crashed, which made me very sad. Before it crashed though I had a bit of a struggle getting my recent islamic conquests to stop rebelling.

I immediately thought of the prospect of training a priest to convert the populace but then found to my dismay that in Empire Total War that you can't train agents.

Now the concept of using religion to maintain control isn't new in these games, but in the past it may have been oversimplified (eg building cathedrals does not convert people to christianity, people convert people to christianity).

I do applaud them for their realism of this aspect of how religion works though.

The fact is, religion is an efficient way to culturally assimilate people. Where religion fails to culturally assimilate though, is where there is another religion present.

Carbon Cash

Carbon Cash sounds a lot better than boring old carbon tax, which is why I used it as the title for today's post. Unfortunately, I am not talking about carbon based angiosperms growing hundred dollar bills on them.

I hate carbon tax. It hasn't been implemented yet in Australia but it is a very hotly debated subject in parliament.
I can see why the government would want it; the government increases its revenue all in the name of being concerned about the environment.

I don't believe for a second that any politician of the major parties genuinely cares for the environment. All I can see that will come of this carbon tax is that the far majority of the revenue from it will just get absorbed by the bureaucracy and a tiny smidgen of it might go towards actually fixing our carbon addiction.

But that isn't my main concern. It is the effect that it will have on the people. Not everyone can afford to pay this carbon tax. Taxes are high enough as it is, the last thing we need is another tax.

My rudimentary economics knowledge begs to differ, higher taxes just mean less private spending which reduces economic growth (on the consumer side) and inflation. This is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, with the advent of credit cards, higher taxes will probably just mean higher private debt as citizens resort to using their credit cards to pay the bills.

It has been suggested to leave those who are financially struggling exempt from the tax or give them some kind of compensation to make up for the new tax. This sets a dangerous precedence for class warfare though.
And what happens in a big recession and unemployment hits 40%? Suddenly the carbon tax revenue crashes and the government has a big black hole in their tax revenue (on top of all the other losses in revenue that happen to a nation's government during a recession).

We could just keep the carbon tax for industry and not consumers... In which case this puts direct economical pressure on small businesses (the big businesses can easily afford a carbon tax). It doesn't even address the problem either. 68% of carbon dioxide produced in Australia comes from our power plants and most of their power goes to major cities to supply the consumer (
Another ~20% is produced by agriculture, but we wouldn't want to tax our farmers would we?

Whether you believe in climate change or not ( I do, just for the record), this is a bad policy. There are other ways to fight climate change, slapping a tax on the problem will not make it go away no more than throwing money at it will make it go away. Here are some better suggestions: legally restrict carbon emmisions (eg energy suppliers cannot produce more than a tonne of carbon dioxide per kilowatt), subsidise renewable energies, etc. They aren't the best suggestions,I know, but they seem a lot better than adding a carbon tax in my opinion.

Finally, may I just finish off with a quote another climatically concerned citizen brought to my attention:

"We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."
-Winston Churchill

Thursday, 7 April 2011


For those who read my posts purely for the warfare, religion or politics, stop reading now. This is a personal post. I'm terribly sorry. There is, however, nothing more prominent on my mind than what has been troubling me this afternoon.

It all started when I let my nephew play Dawn of War Dark Crusade on my laptop. He finished his homework and I was busy reading Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov anyway so it seemed like a reasonable request.
 Suddenly, during Dark Crusade, the unthinkable happened. It crashed in a vehement, violent display of vibrant colours.

At first I thought it was just the game crashing my system because of some random error which probably would only occur once every million uses. So I rebooted.

And I felt a sickening twisting deep in my gut as I saw 7 white columns of horizontal lines appear as my computer posted, then they disappeared. Windows started to boot but then crashed with a blue screen, implying that "nvlddmkm.sys" was to blame. So it seemed as if there was either a problem with the graphics card or driver. Funny that, seeing in all my years of having this desktop with that particular driver and graphics card I have never had this problem.

So I rebooted in safe mode (in safe mode the display drivers are disabled) which worked and then proceeded to update my drivers. The white columns of lines were still present. My pessimism returned with fervor.
 Then windows crashed during start up. My pessimism was realism in disguise.

So it seems my old nvidia 8800 GTS has died.... Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't see what else might be causing this problem. Any techies out there, feel free to give some advice...

In the meantime, Farewelll Graphics Card. I will miss you...

Monday, 4 April 2011

What can games tell us about War? -Rome Total War and Medieval Total War 2

Last post I mentioned how games can be historically informative, this post I shall go more in depth on the matter.

The game I indulged in last weekend was Medieval Total War 2. Medieval Total War 2 is an excellent example of a game that not only sticks to the history but also teaches some history in the process.

Firstly, there is the campaign screen where the player chooses their faction. Each faction has a description which give an excellent historical background on the faction as well as a historically accurate list of their chief advantages and disadvantages.

For example, I chose the Byzantine Empire. Within a minute of reading I am reminded that the Byzantine Empire is in decline during this period, the empire is stagnating and gradually losing territories. Furthermore, their advantages consist of good cavalry and reasonable archers while their disadvantage is that their late game technology is quite poor (again this is historically accurate).

The game play is historically accurate too. For example, spearmen are quite good against cavalry provided they do not get flanked. But their are also more subtle things like the fact that when it comes down to  heavy infantry vs cavalry, the cavalry will do a lot of damage during the charge but then as the fighting drags on, the heavy infantry come out on top.

Finally, there is the pop ups for the various inventions, the plague and the Mongol and Timurid invasions which are historically accurate and historically timed.

And just like in the history books, the Mongolian hordes have a weakness; their cavalry rich composition means they are ill equipped for siege warfare.

I have not played Rome Total War for a while but it too is historically accurate for the most part. The gameplay is definitely historically accurate; the Roman infantry is the best in the game and history tells us that the Roman infantry was the best in the world (although this depends on the era). Again, the pop ups, like the Marian reforms are accurate,

My only complaint as to the historical accuracy of Rome Total War is the 3 Roman factions. While individual patricians would command Roman armies and individual patricians were made governors, patrician families did not have their own armies and provinces. And when the provincial governor died,  a new governor was appointed by the senate (more specifically, the praetors and consuls).

Overall, these two games are historically accurate and I am impressed by them.
As for what they can teach us about war? Quite a substantial amount.
In Rome Total War I learnt about the power of Roman heavy infantry but how they had trouble against the eastern cavalry based armies in the field (eg Parthian cavalry).
In both games I learnt the importance of protecting one's flanks. Or about how cavalry are good at protecting the flanks and also at flanking the opponent but how they are mostly useless when it comes to siege warfare.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

What can games tell us about War?

So you have no doubt read about my comparisons between Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and the nature of human society.

This weekend I actually had enough free time to play a computer game much to my pleasant surprise. So let's have a look at how historically accurate they are and what they can tell us about our own history. I would argue a lot, but games are a bit like websites; some are remarkably accurate and others are completely wrong.

In the category of historically accurate games I would place:
Rome Total War.
Medieval Total War 2 (maybe I should put the whole total war series up here but i haven't played them all :(, would my readers care to help me out here?)
Civilization 4 and 5 (at the very least the quotes are historically accurate)
Stronghold Crusader (purely because of the historical missions, which I thought were pretty bad)
Pharoah -the gameplay may be slightly misleading but I can forgive the game developers for this. The mission briefings are excellent
Medal Of Honour Allied Assualt

And I'm sure there are plenty more but they are all I can think of off the top of my head.... Feel free to add to the list.

In the category of slightly misleading games I would put:
Call of Duty 1  -My main complaint is that you play as an allied soldier and you kill vast numbers of Germans who clearly outnumber you, in reality the US and USSR pretty much zerg rushed the Germans who had their forces stretched out very thin. For this game to be historically accurate, you would either have a huge allied army on your side throughout the missions, or you would be a lone German soldier facing overwhelming numbers of allied troops
The Age of Empires series+Age of Mythology -While most of the briefings are more or less accurate, the missions are ridiculously divergent from history. That goes for age of mythology too, but in it's case it is the mythology that is wrong.
Caesar 5 -At first glance the briefings seem accurate, but as soon as I started looking up the names of the settlements I was building, I found that it was not the case.

As for the category of very misleading games, I can't think of any games to put into it but I'm sure there is a plethora of them...