Open mike 27/01/2023

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 27th, 2023 - 59 comments
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59 comments on “Open mike 27/01/2023 ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    For something completely different…

    I don't know how many are interested in the hard problem of consciousness which explores the mystery of how physical brain matter and electrochemical interactions at synapses can produce conscious experience.

    The physicalist approach is generally that consciousness emerges from the incredible complexity of the brain neurological system. And there is plenty of evidence of correlation between brain activity and conscious experience. But that evidence provides no explanation for how this occurs. There are some looking at quantum processes in the brain as a possible source for discovering an explanation. But it is all very dubious at the moment.

    However, there are some such as David Chalmers who look at things a different way. Chalmers proposes that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe similar to gravity and other physical laws. Chalmers proposes that any organised system will have some fragment of consciousness, and we are the pinnacle of that expression.

    The problem is that, if we follow Chalmers logic through, even a light switch is to some small degree, conscious.

    However, I have just been studying the work of Donald Hoffman. Hoffman is

    a professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, with joint appointments in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and the School of Computer Science.

    So, he is definitely more than an eastern mystic.

    Hoffman goes further than Chalmers. Hoffman is proposing that consciousness creates reality rather than the other way around, and that this has been the result of evolutionary processes. He is trying to prove that through predictive mathematical models at the moment. Here is a really interesting Ted talk he has given on the subject. And, for those who haven't got the time for a 20 minute video, here is a transcript of an interview with him in Quanta Magazine.

    Definitely very controversial, and not mainstream theory. But fascinating nonetheless.

    If anyone wants to go further down this wormhole in a way that is scientific rather than fringe, there is a fantastic series called Closer to Truth on youtube in which qualified neuroscientist, Robert Kuhn explores the topic of consciousness with leading experts from a wide variety of fields. Some great stuff there, including an interview with Donald Hoffman.

    [10 or more links trigger Auto-Moderation that requires a Moderator to review and approve. This is because a large number of hyperlinks is a common characteristic of spammers. For robust debate, political or other, less is more, generally speaking – Incognito]

    • Incognito 1.1

      Mod note

      • tsmithfield 1.1.1

        Thanks for that. Will bear that in mind in the future. Just trying to be thorough smiley.

        • weka

          One thing. you could try is putting a second comment with the references in the clear. eg where you said,

          I don't know how many are interested in the hard problem of consciousness which explores the mystery of how physical brain matter and electrochemical interactions at synapses can produce conscious experience.

          the first link in the second comment would be,

          This works for websites like wikipedia, because their URL tells you what the link is about. For those that don't, use the TS comment editor to put your own title in and then the link button for the link so we can see where it goes (esp helpful for people reading on phones). eg,

          How do you explain consciousness? | David Chalmers

          That also functions to stop the YT embed.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 1.2

      Interesting post – consciousness is one of the big mysteries remaining.

      and we are the pinnacle of that expression.

      That seems a bit presumptuous, given the size and age of the universe. On this planet, perhaps.

      • tsmithfield 1.2.1

        Yes, I should have added "on earth". There may well be more intelligent life elsewhere. But then there is the Fermi Paradox. LOL.

        I view all of this sort of stuff with interest and skeptisism, which is probably the right way to go.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Skepticism yes, but unbelievably interesting!!

          My main problem with the Fermi Paradox is it conflates likelihood of intelligent life, with possibility of interstellar travel / communication. To me, extraterrestrial life (and occasionally, intelligent life) seems very likely. But it could be that there simply is no solution to the problem of interstellar travel over astonishingly large distances, no matter how advanced / intelligent you are.

          So lack of observed aliens isn't strong evidence of lack of extraterrestrial life, to me.

          • tsmithfield

            Skepticism yes, but unbelievably interesting!!

            Yes, the problem is, the alternative explanation, that conscious experience springs out of essentially just complex electrochemical interactions is a bid hard to accept as well. The normal explanation that "the brain is incredibly complicated" doesn't really seem to make sense to me.

            You would probably find that "Closer to Truth" site really interesting. He interviews some of the best minds in the world, and asks incredibly good questions.

            But it could be that there simply is no solution to the problem of interstellar travel over astonishingly large distances, no matter how advanced / intelligent you are.

            Possibly. But the number of possibilities even in our own galaxy must be huge. And we are talking about potentially billions of years to colonise space.

            Another explanation I have heard is that it might just be that complex life to our level is incredibly rare, and there may just be no-one around to visit in the relatively small window of our civilisation, which in the context of the universe, is incredibly short.

        • alwyn

          Perhaps all the intelligent life that appeared elsewhere were like us as represented in the Isaac Asimov short story "Silly Asses" and they very shortly wiped themselves out? If you haven't read it a vey brief summary of the story is here.

          • tsmithfield

            Yes, that is another more sobering theory.

            That life eventually reaches a technological point where it has the ability to wipe itself out, and usually does. Hence, noone survives long enough to pay us a visit.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha

            Haven't read it, but I assume a variation on the theme that there is a common recurring process in the universe:

            1) Life yes

            2) Intelligent life (with various problematic and inevitable traits resulting from common evolutionary pressures / history)

            3) Discover nukes enlightened

            4) End Life with nukes sad

  2. PsyclingLeft.Always 2

    Major supermarket chain Woolworths, owners of Countdown, says it cannot offer large scale wholesale supply at present but is working on delivering what the government wants.

    Its final report into the $22 billion sector said competition in the industry was not working well for New Zealanders.

    And I would say the duopolists move….VERY slowly..kicking and struggling to not change.

    "supermarkets".A major component of NZers fixed expenses. Everyone needs food and other associated items. Could Labour make a difference ?

    Turning supermarkets into public utilities could solve New Zealand's grocery problem

    There also is another alternative to the greedy gougers….

    A Commerce Commission report revealed in May that Foodstuffs and Woolworths were earning $1 million in excess profits a day.

    Hannah Blumhardt has been living without a rubbish bin for eight years and has not set foot in a supermarket for over five.

    Cmon Labour..there are people struggling here….Make a difference. Could be votes in it ?

  3. ianmac 4

    I think David Fisher is one of the better journalists and this is well researched on why the abuse on Jacinda matters. And amazing that the Herald allowed his publication! No wonder her tenure was so fraught:

    There is an unfortunate neatness to the online abuse faced by Jacinda Ardern.

    She tried to fix social media and it ate her alive.

    Ardern was the instigator of the Christchurch Call, the multi-national effort to try and establish basic standards by which social media companies will operate.

    The Call stemmed from the livestreaming of the attack in Christchurch in 2019 – the same event that supercharged the baseline abuse of Ardern that began when she took office.

    • Visubversa 4.1

      Paywalled. Some of us will go to our cremation without paying a dime to The Herald.

      • ianmac 4.1.1

        I only have the Herald paywall because my son's business account allows it.

        However this should not diminish David Fishers researched column. David Fisher and Kate Hannah, director of The Disinformation Project. Some more:

        Those small pockets include those oft-described as alt-right who pursue similar or connected issues but operate at the edge of the envelope.

        In the rumble-tumble uncertain times of the pandemic those issues coalesced and the lines blurred as people stayed home and reached out online. Social media algorithms played matchmaker, linking the extreme to the mainstream and poisoning our discourse.

        What people stood for gave way to what they stood against and Ardern became the figurehead on which that anger, fear and resentment could be focused.

        That’s not to say there weren’t issues with Ardern’s government. There are issues with every government – that’s why they all eventually get voted out.

        But the issues which arose became intermingled with that figurehead to the point where they were the same.

      • Jilly Bee 4.1.2

        I hold my nose and pay to get through the paywall in order to read David Fisher's and Simon Wilson's articles, plus one or two others, though I simply ignore all the blatantly rightwing pieces by the usual suspects. I have cancelled my subscription before and will so again if their ongoing campaign of support for the National Party gets further traction this year.

  4. Sanctuary 5

    The media hang wringing over how it is possible for disinformation to become widespread doesn't involve a mirror…

    • Incognito 5.1

      The media have this awful habit, which may be a mandatory Editorial directive, not to cite/link primary sources. This dogmatic stance goes against any rules of open & transparent journalism and reporting.

  5. Peter 6

    Facts about Health? Dr Shane Reti gets plenty of publicity, the sober, considered, experienced word. Telling us how terrible it all is.

    Of course in the last couple of years the likes of his colleague Todd McClay have chimed in about with lack of resources in their regions.

    Simon Wilson in The Herald this week:

    "On the right, though, there’s an obsession with debt. John Key and Bill English, in power 2008-2017, made eliminating it their number-one goal.

    Here’s one example of what that meant in practice. In the five years to 2017, National budgeted a total of only $781 million for “health infrastructure”: mainly, the maintenance and replacement of hospitals. In both 2015 and 2016, the figure was zero.

    The result was that from Whangārei to Middlemore, the Hutt Valley to Dunedin, hospital buildings throughout the country were allowed to decay. Many, we have since discovered to our horror, are rotting, dangerous and urgently need replacing.

    In Labour’s five years from 2018, they allocated $5.8 billion to addressing this. But to make good on the years of neglect, there is still much more to do."

  6. Jimmy 7

    I found this interesting (not really politics) but I really cannot see why the ANZ should be responsible for this 'prominent kiwi entertainer's loss of $100k. Yes I know banks make excess profits, but they shouldn't have to pay for other people's decisions.

    "A member of the bank’s international team advised him to check the beneficiary was legitimate, and if he was unsure, not to proceed."

    The ANZ even asked again "When questioned again if he was comfortable sending the large sum of money to the offshore beneficiary, the entertainer told ANZ: “My financial adviser tells me it’s a perfectly legitimate company.”

    Prominent Kiwi entertainer loses $100k in sophisticated investment scam – NZ Herald

    Imagine if the ANZ had refused to transfer the funds for entertainer. They would have complained about the bank then too. .

  7. Visubversa 8

    This person with an ovarian tumor is not "male". They should not be called so in medical literature.

    We wonder if all gender confused female patients are explicitly warned by “gender doctors” about the risk of ovarian cancer prior to administering testosterone?

    This is a massive harmful medical experiment on our children.

    • Molly 8.1

      Such a depressing read. One paragraph split into salient points to consider:

      "1. The presence of a sex hormone-sensitive cancer is a contraindication to testosterone therapy, but there are no formal recommendations for the use of testosterone in patients with SBT.

      It is known that testosterone increased the likelihood of this person getting cancer, however, given that there are no formal dosages in place for adolescents who have already got cancer, this knowledge will not affect future prescription.

      2. Given the importance of gender-affirming therapy, which has been shown to reduce suicide risk and improve overall well-being,14 our multi-disciplinary team carefully weighed the risks and benefits of restarting testosterone therapy and, in the context of a completely resected tumour and ambiguous risks associated with endogenous steroids, ultimately recommended restart.

      Reference to a limited and biased study on suicidal risk and well-being, means that along with ignoring the development of cancer in this particular individual, we can collectively absolve ourselves of the responsibility of restarting the exogenous hormone therapy, and point the finger elsewhere if another tumor develops.

      3. Appropriate tumour surveillance was also unclear as there is no data to guide management in this area.

      We don't know how to monitor this person's ongoing health, or determine what to look for.

      4. The team recommended at least 5 years of periodic transvaginal ultrasounds of the contralateral ovary unless oophorectomy was completed sooner.

      We can fall on the standard in regards to ovarian tumors, but given the transgender status of this seventeen-year old, a successful approach will be the removal of the remaining ovary. Which will ensure infertility and lifelong dependence on medication, but that is not our purview. We just do oncology.

      5. While transvaginal ultrasounds were deemed of higher sensitivity, transabdominal were prioritised given patient preference."

      Given the uncertainty surrounding monitoring: the what and the when, although the how is more effective when done as prescribed, we will cater to the patient's desire for another method, which adds to the uncertainty of effectiveness.

      A seventeen year old woman, who has only been on exogenous hormones for a few months has developed a cancer not usually seen in adolescents, which may be a result of testosterone. She is being treated by medics whose primary focus is to maintain affirming hormone treatment, not critically assess and determine what the best option are for prolonging life, maintaining health and/or fertility.

  8. Red Blooded One 9

    Black alert at 11 Auckland beaches due to wastewater overflows

    If only there was a party trying to fix our poor water systems. 💧 oh right there is. I hope there isn't too much of a back down on 3waters.

    • Visubversa 9.1

      The Central Interceptor will fix a lot of that in relation to the isthmus beaches, but in the meantime there are things we can all do.

      Install a rain tank. You can get a detention/retention tank that fits under your eaves or under your driveway. It holds back the first flush of stormwater in rain events, which is the cause of wastewater overflows where the WW/SW pipes are not separated. It gives you non-potable water for your garden, and – with the required building consent – water for flushing toilets and for the first rinse of your washing machine. It will save you $$$ on your water bill as well as saving water.

      Br careful where you wash your car. If you wash it somewhere that drains to the street you are putting a dose of particulates, heavy metals, etc straight into the ocean as the street drains usually go to the nearest watercourse. If you would not throw the soapy water into the sea or the river, don't put it in the gutter.

      Pick up that dog poo. If you kick it into the gutter, or leave it on the berm which drains to the gutter, you are contributing to the fecal coliform count in the harbour through the gutter drains.

      There is a lot that goes into keeping our beaches and harbours clean and very little of it is cheap. That is why we need 3 Waters.

  9. tWiggle 10

    A Guardian opinion article makes a very salient point about the inherent classist nature of non-means tested pension age entitlements. UK pension age is shifting from 66 to 68, the pension is inflation-proofed, comes from the general tax fund or National Insurance (I think; go! Cullen Fund).

    The classist nature comes in with data on UK 'healthy life expectancy'.

    "Men in Richmond-on-Thames will, on average, live healthily until the age of 71, while for men in Blackpool, a healthy life expectancy is just 53 years, meaning they will wait in bad health, unable to work for 13 years, before qualifying for their pension at 66.", and

    " 'If 68 becomes the new pension age, 60% [of UK men] reach that age with a disability that prevents them working' ".

    Plus, richer, healthier people get the pension for longer, of course.

    I was interested in this article because I had been thinking of the equivalent in NZ with pension age rise, regarding the poorer health outcomes and life expectancy for Māori.

    Also, having long ago read a biography of MJ Savage's importance in the set up of the NZ Welfare state, he was extremely forceful on the 'no means testing' and universal entitlement of benefits like the Family Benefit and Pensions. His reason was, as an Aussie who lived through the 1880s depression, when up to 40% of Victorian men were longterm unemployed, he had felt the injustice in barring those who owned their own homes from social support, and who consequently lost them. Plus the humiliation of hoop-jumping to receive social help.

    So I support the principle of universal entitlement, kinda. But is my support for this fair? was it fair to replace Family Benefit with Working for Families? One argument for universal entitlement is that political damage is more often done at policy level, with smaller hoops and more red-tape used to strangle social support for our neediest citizens (and residents). Another is that rich people like getting free stuff too, and are less likely to vote for, and politically fund, dismantlement of social benefits (cunning man, Savage).

    Readers, I'm confused. Shouldn't we be strengthening our core social support network, rather than more and more targetted legislation like Employment Insurance? But I do know that raising pension age in NZ will definitely disdvantage Māori more. And I'm against policies where taxpayers' dosh goes straight into the pockets of banks and landlands (Accommodation Supplement).

    And how does universal entitlement protect against the injustice of pension age limits? There would need to be parity between the pension and minimal hoop-jumping for longterm disability that precludes employment.

    Universal Basic Income sounds like a great idea. Until you see UBI in the UK being mostly a direct taxpayer subsidy to the employers of workers on zero-hours contracts and under-paid jobs.

    Readers, I'm confused.

    [Link added – Incognito]

  10. satty 11

    Grant Roberson goes list-only: Grant Robertson to retire from electorate, run on party list (NZH)

    With Nicola Willis competing for Ōhāriu now (see Stuff), it could be an interesting electorate – Wellington Central that is. I think James Shaw (assuming he's still stands for Wellington Central) will be looking forward to the upcoming election.

    • gsays 11.1

      When that was reprted in RNZ, it was followed by the observation that this move would make it easier for Robertson to retire if Labour do not get elected.

  11. Ad 13

    Grant Robertson going list only for Labour says to Hipkins get your Shadow Minister of Finance lead ready now in case you lose in October.

    At least English had the courage to go leader after Key left.

    Robertson. This better not be a BAU budget. It's the last big roll of the dice we have "in the tank".

  12. Anne 14

    If ever there was proof that Barry Soper is as nutty as a fruitcake this is it:

    Now how did I guess in advance, which former PM Barry believes Jacinda Ardern is the most reminiscent of… 🙄

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 14.1


      Before clicking on the link, I said to myself "Rob Muldoon!", to pick the most absurd and ridiculous choice I could think of.

      ….low and behold! Soper really has no clue whatsoever.

    • Belladonna 14.2

      "But Soper believes there’s another politician that offers a tenure more analogous to that of Ardern – and he comes from the ranks of the Labour party: David Lange."

      • Anne 14.2.1

        Yes. I didn't quite get to the end of the item.

        Now that is more analogous in the sense that Lange also had a drama filled term in office. I refer in particular to the nuclear free legislation and the Rainbow Warrior bombing.

        I'm currently reading (at least re-reading after 20 years) Lange's book "Nuclear Free" where he dissects exactly what happened, and why the stand-off with the US and Britain became so fraught… culminating in NZ being tossed out of ANZUS. A fascinating story of misunderstandings, wrong interpretations and a head-in-sand attitude towards NZ and NZers.

        Lange also resigned as PM before the end of his second term and probably for the same reason as Ardern. He was exhausted.

  13. Muttonbird 15

    The system allows for the posting of an mp4 file using the image button.

    If you don't like it perhaps you can have Lprent disallow it rather than blaming users.

    Trying to alert this forum of the seriousness of the situation but you decided to censor that…

    …just delete the whole thing for god’s sake.

    [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

  14. Muttonbird 16

    I didn't post that tweet and don't agree to you replacing what I did post with it.

    Take it down, please.

    [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

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