Blog 2018

2018-09-04 Accessing Facebook information

So, what if you don’t have a Facebook account?

2018-09-03 China’s open internet

The site of Australia’s ABC is not accessible from China.  The response from China:

“China’s internet is fully open. We welcome internet enterprises from all over the world to provide good information to the netizens of China.
However, state cyber sovereignty rights shall be maintained towards some overseas websites violating China’s laws and regulations, spreading rumours, pornographic information, gambling, violent terrorism and some other illegal harmful information which will endanger state security and damage national pride.

“national pride”?  Wow.  Another dangerous idea, and a new word for my list of bad concepts.

2018-08-20 Measles

In times before measles vaccines, some of those who caught measles died.  Maybe those who refused the vaccine and now caught measles should be fined twice:  once for causing undue pressure on the health system and once for putting the lives of others in danger.  The statistics are clear:  vaccination helps everyone.

2018-08-19 People’s Vote campaign:  undemocratic Referendum?

People’s Vote campaign wants a referendum on the upcoming Brexit deal.  Accordng to a BBC article: Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen - a leading Brexit backer - said the People’s Vote campaign was not about democracy. He told the BBC: “Actually what their declared intent is is to overturn the democratic decision of 2016 to leave the EU.”

This gives the impression that (a) the proposed referendum is on Brexit, but it is only on the deal, and (b) that such a referendum would be undemocratic.  Certainly any referendum would be a democratic consultation of the people, and a direct one rather than a decision taken indirectly by a parliament.

2018-07-23 Facts, Facebook, Pussyfooting

There are holocaust deniers.  According to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg they should be allowed to speak but most people think that such denial should not be published.  I agree:  the happening of the holocaust is a fact.  All fact-denying content should be banned:  the Earth is round, not flat;  global warming and evolution are facts.  The existence of one or more gods is not a fact, though the contrary has not been proven either.

The problem is in the amount of supporting evidence.  The holocaust, the roundness of the Earth, evolution and global warming are at one extreme where this evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.  At the other extreme are propositions that are less studied, for which there is little evidence, fewer or no witnesses.  Did it rain yesterday at 14:34 in the forest on the highest peak of the Jura mountains?  Was that car overtaking me going at 88km/h or 87km/h?  It is difficult to collect more evidence for either of these events, but they are also not very important to anyone.

If you still believe the Earth is flat then you probably have a psychiatric condition.

If you have access, you may want to read “Bringing Darwin Back”

2018-07-17 Politically weak EU

Would it have been possible for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to meet in Salem, Oregon, with everybody else in the US, including Trump, ignoring the meeting?

That’s the equivalent of Putin and Trump meeting in Helsinki.  What a mess.

The world is now ruled by three strongmen, one of which only shows his real face.  And “the people” actually like it.

2018-07-05 EU Copyright law voted down


While I am a staunch supporter of a European Union, I am also for reasonable laws.  The proposed regulation was clearly flawed.  Much of it is acceptable:  people should not be allowed to upload copies of copyrighted content; I do understand the worries of the artists who were in favour of the regulation.

However, the details were wrong.  So, back to the drawing board to design something more reasonable.

I remain convinced that the ultimate solution lies in direct payments to the authors, something that is sorely lacking.  Micropayment systems can and should be implemented.

2018-07-05 Facebook algorithms classify parts of the US Declaration of Independency as hate speech

Well, yes and it is!  The problem is not in (quote from “It looks like we made a mistake and removed something you posted on Facebook that didn’t go against our community standards,”.

The problem is that the passage was not sufficiently marked as a quote, and/or the algorithms do not recognise quotes well enough.

The phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, …” is also no longer acceptable.  First because it leaves out women, and second because it is simply not true:  people differ in intellectual and physical capacities.

But somehow most of us seem to know what the spirit of that sentence is:  one person should not dominate another forcefully; and all should be given similar upportunities.

2018-07-04 Macron on Migrants

Macron says migrant centres in Africa will not work unless led by the countries themselves, and also that the fundamental problem is Africa’s unplanned population growth.

He is right on both points.  Population growth is highest in Africa, the result of continued traditionalist behaviour after improved health care.  There is however also climate change and resource depletion, though still much less of an influence.  Africa’s cultures have to change in the face of better administering of medical technologies.

African countries have had many decades of time to introduce better education, better technologies and better politics.  Instead they have exacerbated local strife, made wars along ancient divides, and largely stuck to traditionalist and tribalist organisation of societies.

These countries should try to keep their best people rather than let them emigrate.  But they should also settle their differences, to the point of redrawing frontiers:  sticking to the colonial ones is worse than colonial rhetoric.  it is short-sighed idiocy.

And yes, last but not least, Europe and the rich world should help:  financially, politically, technologically.

2018-07-04 EU Regulation on Copyright

What is this now?  Wikipedia closes in protest against possibly new regulation on making links.  Links are the heart of civilisation:  they existed since one person could refer another person to a third one for more information on a subject they did not entirely know themselves.  That was before writing, hence prehistoric.

2018-06-19 Spreading Responsibility

Justice usually assigns all blame for an incident on a single individual.  I propose a more spread responsibility.

Take the recent separating of children from their parents in the case of illegal immigrant families.  If a parent knows the attempt is illegal and there is a risk of getting caught, but still brings their unsuspecting children with them, then they are in part responsible for what happens to the children.

I am not condoning the way these cases are handled, but there are more aspects than the cruel separation:

2018-05-08 Iran

Trump messes things up again.  And why can we not just ignore him?  A non-US company doing trade with Iran would be sanctioned by the US?  How?  Bullying?  Why do we tolerate this?

2018-04-25 North Korea

Kim Jong-un is probably extremely astute:  first he provokes by developing nuclear weapons, but all the while having the intention to “lose” a war which he is not even going to fight.  He manoeuvers himself into a position where he is seen as a serious threat, i.e. has to be taken seriously.  Then he gets all the spotlight for agreeing to talks, then gets even more credit for being seen as a magnanimous leader who always worked for peace anyway and is the architect of the reunification of Korea.

Brexit vote now too tampered with.  Let’s re-vote!

2018-03-31 Visa into US

BBC news: “US may require visa applicants to disclose details of their social media accounts.” What if I don’t have any? Quote in the NYT: “We want to get on their social media, with passwords,” Mr. Kelly told members of the House Homeland Security Committee. “If they don’t want to cooperate, then you don’t come in.”

So if I say “I don’t have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I don’t even own a mobile phone”, then I don’t come in? Or, if I say that my e-mail address is on my personal domain name and server, then what?

It’s like asking for the key to my house.

2018-03-04 Brexit

If all the effort that now goes into Brexit had gone into constructively working on the EU while the UK were in, things would have been better for all of us

2018-02-19 Circumcision

Iceland law on circumcision & rights of the child (

Totally agree. Parents have a duty to care for their children, they do not have the right to any mutilation. When children get to be of age, they can decide themselves what they want to do, but not before. Raises of course the question when a child becomes of age, but many countries have some definition of that and it depends on the area of decision making. Different ages are used to decide whether you can drive a car, vote in an election, get married, consent to sex, buy an assault rifle, buy alcohol. There should be no exception for inflicting irreversible mutilations to your body. In addition any religion that has not explicitly rescinded the death penalty on apostasy should be banned. That includes Judaism, Islam and Christianity, but probably a load more.

There may be freedom of religion, but there cannot be freedom of rituals.