Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Won't Somebody Think Of The Children

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  • Lyndon Hood,

    I think educations systems, between the teachers and the children, more or universally teach you to
    * do what you're told and
    * avoid failure rather than risk doing something different.

    I don't know if that stereotype about the highly-educated being employees rather than entrepeneurs holds true, but if it does, that might be why.

    On the tag clouds it's striking (but on reflection, not surprising) the Key uses "labour" more the Clark does.

    Might Scoops RSS feed be of assistance in your enterprise?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Shaz,

    Thanks David... The relative emphasis on economy/economics/business/employer etc etc is interesting

    Wgtn • Since Apr 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Thanks to this month's statistical aberration in the murder rate ...

    As I pointed out in my post, it's not even that. Just business as usual for January, unfortunately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18960 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    something that suggests there is a way to make money other than buying and selling houses

    Mate, have you seen the state of the stock market recently? (says one who finally, finally offloaded his surplus houses & has entreated his spouse to please stop attending open homes.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 2074 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    How about we start exporting children? There's a burgeoning market among US celebrities.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2074 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    On the tag-clouding and speech-filtering business, might there not be some fun in training up some kind of Bayesian classifier using past statements from politicians and their subsequent factual veracity? Maybe hooked up to some kind of portable bullshit buzzer? ;)

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Maybe David and I should get together. I am hard at work on The Ruminator in my spare time, juicing it up to recognise phrases rather than just words (what computer scientists and linguists call "collocations"), and some naive Bayesian voodoo to infer categories or topics.

    I'm using a bunch of text to train it comprising about year's worth of RSS feeds from NZ news outlets. There are some striking patterns, which if nothing else tell you a lot about the priorities of news reporters...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Finn, I love it. Stephen and Lyndon, we should most certainly talk.

    Llew, stocks are not the only other fruit. And yes, let's work up that export niche. I'm thinking Michael Bulgaris to do the brokerage?

    Russell, would you accept "customary annual aberraton"?

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I'm thinking Michael Bulgaris to do the brokerage?

    Trademe might be more efficient!

    Since Nov 2006 • 2074 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    How about we start exporting children? There's a burgeoning market among US celebrities.

    I'd rather export boomers and wrinklies, myself. They voted the country into generations of debt already, and my kids and grandchildren-yet-to-be could do without them stuffing it up any further.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I'd rather export boomers and wrinklies, myself.

    I'd volunteer if I thought Angelina Jolie might adopt me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2074 posts Report Reply

  • Benjamin Franzmayr,

    Hi David

    I agree with your thoughts on being inventive and entrepreneurial. I have an overactive mind and am constantly coming up with ideas or inventions but I don't have that entrepreneurial skill/experience to turn those ideas into reality and have yet to find anyone who is supportive enough here to help me with it. Any ideas?
    I'm just finishing a PhD in plant biotechnology and guess what I'm thinking of getting into next year? Housing. A bit sad eh?
    (OK, so what I'm planning is anything but boring and ordinary but still...)

    Benjamin

    Palmerston North, New Zea… • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Duller than dishwater tho' it be, here's the US SOTU tag cloud.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 565 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner,

    I don't understand this part about "climbing back from 22". Is there some sort of competition going on?

    Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Wouldn't some Bayesian voodoo using newsfeeds and stock prices be more profitable? I think you might have a hard time finding statements from politicians that have factual veracity to train off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Marcus, NZ was purportedly the 5th wealthiest country shortly after WW2 (I can only assume per capita). Unfortunately there has not been another world war so it's been hard to hold on to this position ahead of more industrially advanced and populous nations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    I think you might have a hard time finding statements from politicians that have factual veracity to train off.

    Touche. I was actually thinking that yesterday, I think much of the disillusionment with politics is a side-effect of the fact that most politicians set off everybody's bullshit detectors every time they say anything whatsoever.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Or they say nothing, using a lot of words to do it.

    Probably it would be better to train a classifier to work directly on statements of fact. "Taxes will be lowered within 1 year", and then link those to political utterances.

    My guess is that there will almost no connection between what they say and what actually happens. As in, it's random rather than lies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Or they say nothing, using a lot of words to do it.

    Well, yes, that's usually a good way to set off somebody's bullshit alarms :)

    I don't doubt you're right about the latter point though - in all honesty, I'd never anticipated the idea I punted earlier to actually work. I just liked the idea of a portable machine that made loud beeping noises every time somebody started talking crap. I've had jobs in the past where one of those would have saved about 2/3rds of my time in meetings...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    The starting point for the Duckspeak engine was the notion that is might be instructive to sift out all the flannel and see what substance might remain. (What does this substance suggest about the speaker? How much do they have compared to others? Bias and agenda that might be revealed could be interesting too but I'm not necessarily looking for a gotcha so much as interesting ideas, fresh thinking and good old fashioned stories and data.)

    Along the way I've been adding some other considerations, like Keith and Rob's suggestion last year to measure language inflation by indexing any detectable rise in hyperbole using Hansard. That would probably be found in the flannel chucked out by the Duckspeak engine.

    In talking about these ideas, I'm really just wondering aloud about what I might find by applying some different measurement techniques. Mostly I keep coming around to the same conclusion that so much of my work in the last few years has kept pitching me towards and that's that I really need to undertake some formal study in linguistics.

    Bayesian voodoo with RSS feeds? Bring it on. I'm happy to kick all kinds of possibilities about this year while I mostly apply myself to not-dissimilar work on my website.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner,

    OK. So NZ doesn't rate as highly in terms of wealth (not clear how it's measured) as once it did, in relation to certain other countries (economies?).

    I'm not convinced that the measure of a good life is how much wealth this country has in relation to other countries; rather, we might consider whether we have enough to offer the people that live here a reasonable life.

    "Climbing out of 22nd place" may not be a particularly useful goal. Perhaps its achievement will simply mean that someone in another country is worse off.

    And I can't help wondering about the extent to which a country's wealth benefits its people. I understand that during the Clinton years, the US was particularly wealthy, but I'm not aware that there were significantly fewer poor and disadvantaged people in the country, as a result. Or that crime levels lowered.

    (P.S. I'm having a devil of a job logging on. I don't know why I succeed when I do - about one attempt in 10.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Tim Hazeldine speaks quite persuasively on this subject. He asks what use these league tables serve.

    Certainly the notion of all boats rising, which you might use in its place, is one the free market advocates embraced enthusiastically although the cost on the planet's consumption somewhat taxes that proposition.

    And neither does it address the valid question you raise: what actually constitutes a good, happy life? Hazeldine, if I recall his argument accurately, thinks it has a lot do with reducing the margin of inequality.

    I have to say I'm still pining for this country, which is coming somewhat reluctantly to the free-market party: french-trader-was-forced-to-work-30-hours-a-week

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    My plans for the Ruminator are outlined [[http://bazombo.com/burble/entry/title/next_on_the_menu|here].

    Lots of code kicking around for the taking if you want to do naive Bayesian stuff. All the hard work is in a) assembling suitable collections of stuff to train your program with and b) taking the time to do the training, which could be arduous.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I mean here.

    Damnit.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    btw, I wrote and support a naive Bayesian spam filter. The 'naive' part pissed me off a bit so I looked into some far more complex methods. My conclusion was that naive was just as good on large data samples. And it's really a lot simpler. It's not always a dirty word.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8586 posts Report Reply

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