Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Hard News: Libya,

    I think there is something different about this conflict/war in Lybia and the UN involvement. To me the key difference is that two neighbouring countries recently went through regime changes that were remarkably peaceful. I don't think anyone really expected such a thing to occur or even be possible. It suggested that the old pattern of bloody drawn out civil war was not the only way to remove a dictatorship.

    And for a moment it looked like Lybia might do the same. And I think everyone held their breath and hoped.

    The fact that Gadaffi responded so brutally is what has spurred the UN into action. It isn't that he's different in his brutality or that Lybia is different from any other oppressive regime. It's that Gadaffi is snuffing out the possibility of doing regime changes in a new and more peaceful way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Libya, in reply to John Holley,

    highlighted that air power alone cannot achieve strategic objectives

    Something that has been true since WWII and demonstrated in every conflict since. There ought to be a quote about repeating history's mistakes really.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Libya, in reply to chris,

    happy to listen to other reasons/ theories for the UN’s selectivity

    To be fair I don't think France gets much of it's oil from Sudan.

    It's almost certainly true that the high quality oil that Lybia produces (much higher quality than from Suadi Arabia) and the supply of that oil to France in particular might have some role in the UN actions.

    But if it's the right thing to do, which based on what little I know seems likely, then who cares?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Everything has changed until 2014, in reply to Keith Ng,

    But what if half the voting population never accepts spending cuts and the other half never accepts tax hikes?

    oops sorry long post but kinda disturbed by this stuff given I have to figure out who to vote for this year.

    Um but I can't see any party proposing increasing taxation to pay for the things we want. My beef with Labour for the last few cycles is that they've given up on the idea that taxation and government spending can actually do good. Even now they are proposing tax cuts. I expect that from the Nats but from Labour?

    And how do we know half the population won't accept taxation? Has anyone actually asked? And I don't mean NZHerald "do you want less money in your wallet surveys" I mean really asked the public if having the government pay for education and infrastructure is a good thing at all then how about we get together and contribute money towards those things ie pay taxes.

    I agree we need to change the balance or we're screwed. What scares the hell out of me is that this "doing something" is going to cause more harm than good. You might well change the deficit but so compromise our future by stuffing up education (and yes R&D) etc that we have no future anyway.

    To me this seems to come down to a fundamental difference in philosophy. On the National Party side you say free market fixes everything and less government is better hence less taxes and less government spending. The market will fix any problems. Having lived in the USA I'm not convinced.

    The other philosophy is that by taxing everyone according to their ability to contribute you can use that money to proved benefits to society that are worthwhile. Stuff we kind of expect from our government, education, health care, infrastructure etc. If you want more things from the government you all stump up and pay more taxes. Much like what you see in most of the countries at the top of the OECD.

    For obvious reasons I find the correlation between government spending on R&D and OECD performance particularly compelling, but similar correlations exist for education and health care.

    The problem is that Labour doesn't seem to represent that latter philosophy, one starts to wonder what Labour does represent. The bugger for me is that there doesn't seem to be any group of representatives willing to stand for such a philosophy. That suggests to me we're screwed no matter what the current deficit looks like.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Libya,

    I was talking about this with my nearly brother-in-law who is Iranian, whose own experience of the Iranian revolution is interesting. Essentially what surprised both of us equally was not the conflict in Lybia but rather the lack of conflict in Tunisia and Egypt. Both Tunisia and Egypt underwent regime changes with very very little loss of life. That is extremely unusual in history anywhere let alone in the middle east.

    The impact for Lybia is that it created an example that it's possible to oust a dictator without needing an army. That example is clearly not something the Lybian leadership could tolerate - hence the brutal response.

    Quite why it has become possible to oust a dictator without military force is not entirely clear but the free/increased flow of information and knowledge that comes with it (sometimes) seems to be an obvious likely cause.

    I really don't know what will happen next. It seems as though the UN will not allow Gadaffi to use force to impose his will on the Lybian population. Without that force it seems very likely that protests will increase and I can't see any other outcome than a regime change in Lybia as well. The alternative would be for Gadaffi to fight a low tech close quarters brutal war and I have no idea whether his army will be willing to do that.

    One comment my brother-not-in-law made was that the years after the regime change will not be good years no matter what happens, because it takes some time to make positive changes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Everything has changed until 2014,

    If we accept that cuts are needed to reduce our long-term deficit

    Colour me confused. If I read what you are saying correctly you are saying we don't get enough revenue to pay for government spending so we have to cut spending.

    But pardon me for being simplistic here, but couldn't you - like - increase government revenue?

    Serious question what is wrong with taxing more and spending more by the government? In most of the countries where they tax more and spend more the standard of living is significantly better than in NZ. But for some reason we want to emulate the USA, where the standard of living is very uneven.

    I can see why as a political argument taxing less is a winner but are you arguing here as a politician? The argument is particularly good if you only really care about the next election and don't give a rats arse about long term things like education, research, or infrastructure.

    The only argument I can see for not taxing more is that it takes money out of the economy at a time when we probably should have more money in the economy. But if at the same time the government spends more then you shouldn't get that effect and you get the bonus of having the government spend money on things we need rather than spending money on LCDs and houses on Paratai Drive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Japan moves, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    remains a prudent basis

    Which I agree with entirely. The linear model is used for all safety limits because it's the most conservative model. We know it's not right but because we have nowhere near enough data from experiments to define the "real" model we use the conservative linear assumption.

    So yes it is an accepted truth that low dose radiation does less damage than you would expect AND everyone uses the linear model for safety.

    Note they don't disagree with me

    existence of a low-dose threshold does not seem to be unlikely

    it's just that if you are dealing with safety then you err on the side of the conservative model.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Japan moves, in reply to Ross Mason,

    10 units of radiation dumped on one person is 10 times worse (for that person) than 1 unit dumped on 10 people. The chances are that one of those 10 will still likely get hit with the “damage”.

    That's exactly the problem. 10 units is not 10 times worse than 1 unit. 1 Unit does less than one tenth of the damage. It's not linear and the reasons get complicated. But the upshot is 10 people with 1 unit each will likely suffer no damage whereas one person with 10 units would.

    The unit of measure does measure how much energy is deposited in a body and that part is linear but it doesn't measure how the body responds to damage and that part is highly variable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Japan moves, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Gofman reckoned on a figure of 475,000 additional cancers from Chernobyl.

    Which is fun to say because it's impossible to prove or disprove since most cancers go unnoticed.

    The problem with low dose radiation exposure is we just don't know how humans respond. One thing we do know is that the simple linear model from high dose to low dose is wrong, if it was right we would lots and lots more dead radiation industry workers and we don't. But it is also the most conservative assumption and hence is the best assumption to use when setting safety standards.

    The nuclear industry is keen on an alternative model ...

    Nah it's most of the scientific community that are keen on an alternative model, because the data says the linear model is wrong. Exactly what is the right model is up for more question mostly because doing the experiments is frowned upon.

    Based on what I know, my guess is that there is a certain level of DNA damage that does no harm at all, it gets repaired and replaced just fine without anyone noticing. That makes the low dose end of the curve result in much lower death rates than expected. I don't know if you need some damage to be healthy but it wouldn't surprise me, biology is weird like that. I wouldn't base safety standards on that because there is no reason to take the risk.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Japan moves, in reply to Ross Mason,

    I suspect that DNA mutations from random low level radiation events may even have sped up our evolutionary rates.

    You're certainly not the first to suggest that, but it's extraordinarily hard to test experimentally.

    However, what I was noting is that it's possible that we need a certain amount of constant DNA damage and repair to be healthy. Without such damage the auto-repair systems go haywire. Those experiments are slightly easier to do but much more difficult to prove to the satisfaction of the scientific community. Note there is more than enough background radiation and cosmic radiation to supply such damage so don't nobody go giving themselves low dose radiation for health - shudder I can hear Rod Jenson on the radio advertising it now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

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