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Roger Bays
Lives in Christchurch, New Zealand
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Roger Bays

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If there is no free will (which I personally believe) we do not have to consider consciousness as an evolutionary expensive folly, as suggested. I would instead suggest that the algorithm/s within the brain are able to utilise what we call conscious experience and need the data in that format. This makes the conscious experience simply a tool that algorithms make use of, rather than consciousness being a tool that the so called I/self makes use of. Thomas Metzinger points out (and I agree) - the self is an illusion. If this is true then consciousness has a function, but not the function that we typically ascribe to it.  I think that data from the outside world gets converted into pictures, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch sensations by various algorithms so that other algorithms can work with the data in that format. I would also suggest that it is the algorithms within the brain that create thoughts and action as outputs. An aside: If every thought we had was spoken allowed (became an external action) I think it would be easier to understand how thinking is something that is automatically happening to us.
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+strongyang Or one who believes in dualism or tripartism 
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LEVITATING ROBOTS
Magnetically levitated microbots may lead to fast, precise and widely available robotic systems.
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EXPAND DYNAMIC RANGE OF VIDEO ON SOME CANON SLR's
Looks good. Shoots alternate frames at different ISO's then does some whiz bang skulduggery to interpolate it. Pity it is not for Canon 5D mk2 or 7D cameras.
From tomorrow, Canon 550D, 600D and 60D users will be able to shoot high dynamic range (HDR) video straight from their cameras thanks to Magic Lan...
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LIGHT RAIL FOR CHRISTCHURCH COULD BE IGNORING A TRACK RECORD OF EARTHQUAKES

I grew up in the small town of March, in the UK. A town that at one point had one of the largest railway marshalling yards in western Europe. I lived within a stones throw of the tracks, so grew up with trains, I love them. To me the motion of a train journey is sublime compared with the jostling stop start nature of a bus.

However, I find myself outraged at the idea of creating a light rail network in Christchurch. Did we learn nothing from the Napier Earthquake, the tram tracks resembled spaghetti afterwards, see linked image, and were never rebuilt.

http://www.geonet.org.nz/var/storage/images/media/images/earthquake/historic-quakes-image-gallery/edgecumbe-earthquake-19878/43883-1-eng-GB/Edgecumbe-Earthquake-1987_gallery_lge.jpg

In addition, cars and trains really don't mix well in the same transport corridor, the Christchurch tram is an example of this. And if a separate corridor is created solely for trains then it sits idle for what must surely be 99% of the time, and utilises valuable space that could be better used for cars and buses.

At the moment Christchurch is in a crisis, money is tight and taxpayers across New Zealand are footing the earthquake bill. This seem like a time to be prudent with spending and putting taxpayer dollars into restoring or replacing public buildings. This does not seem the time to be building an expensive transport folly. And maybe there is never a time to build such a folly.

Why is it a folly?
1. Rail in an earthquake zone is a recipe for disaster, it is potentially dangerous, and vulnerable to serious and costly damage if we have another earthquake. And it may even be impossible to insure.
2. The link below shows the proposed rail map. It will cost $406 million to build the short section from the university to the city centre, and $4 billion for the whole network.
3. I would expect a maths analysis to show that the finished system will move less people than the current road space it replaces.
4. Most commuters are not in the situation where their home and work will both be within walking distance of a station. The system would only works well for a very small group of people. If a commuter lives 500 metres from a station and is fortunate enough to also work with 500 metres of a station they would still be faced with a 2km daily hike (500m home to station + 500m station to work + 500m work to station + 500m station to home. If you live and work 1km from a station then you would face a 4km walk. This may get you fit, but it would take a lot of time when you are in a hurry to get to work, and would be dependent on the ability to walk well. If you have a walking disability such distances may be impractical.
5. If I am correct and light rail suits such a low number of users then surely it would go belly up within a few years.

Rail networks like the London Underground work well for three key reasons.
1. They are underground, so they add a transport corridor. Surface rail in a city would replace an existing transport corridor, namely a road, unless positioned above the street. But the images released so far do not suggest that this is the intention, and I don't think that residents would want this, and I doubt if passengers would want to travel on stilts in an earthquake zone.
2. There are a plethora of stations and they are close together. This means that there is a high probability that there is a station near the start and the end of a travellers journey. This enables the London Underground to offer an almost, though not quite, door to door service.
3. There is a high population density living cheek by jowl in high rise accommodation, to share the cost. Christchurch has low density living with its 1/4 acre plots.

What are the solutions?
I think the short term solution is do what we have always done, catch a regular bus. But regular buses suffer several issues that make them impracticable.
1. They are infrequent.
2. They often don't go where you want them to.
3. You have to learn the timetable, the location of the bus stop, the arrival point, the bus number.
4. They are nearly always late, and often very late
5. They take a long while to get where you are going because of all the loading and unloading of passengers.
6. They run (guessing from experience) at an average capacity of 20% full, which means lots of big empty buses on the road (count the passengers on the next one you see).

The medium term solution I think is frequent micro buses. India has massive transport issues, but part of the solution is tiny vehicles that whizz around the streets picking people up. You don't have to worry about learning timetables or the bus being late because there is always one coming along, you simply flag one down wherever you are and jump on. The current metrocard would make payment on micro buses practical. Doing away with timetables, and long time intervals between buses would make them attractive to commuters, thereby increasing public transport users and reducing solo drivers. Micro buses could easily be trialled in a sector of Christchurch to test their viability and user uptake.

The long term solution is quite exquisite. Google, like many other companies I expect, have for some time been testing computer driven vehicles. Computer driven transport take away the cost of a driver, which is expensive for a small vehicle like a micro bus. This method may work as a driver-less micro buses, or as a more personal taxi or shared taxi service, by picking up multiple commuters at an affordable price. And of course these vehicles would run on electric, and drive themselves to a recharge depot at times of low demand.
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A MASTERPIECE OF INTRIGUE
Beautiful as it is delightful to watch.
A city is more than its people. More than its monuments, its history, its heritage and its environment. A city is about the living, about the things that matter and make it a memorable experience. It&...
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NOW YOU CAN DONATE TO WIKIPEDIA FROM NEW ZEALAND BY CREDIT CARD OR BANK TRANSFER

A while back I tried make a donation to Wikipedia, but the only payment option back then was Paypal. I immediately threw the idea into the too hard basket. But now you can donate quickly and simply by credit card or bank transfer.

Where would you be without Wikipedia?

Note: Link below is to the Wikimedia Foundation.
Where your donation goes. Technology: Servers, bandwidth, maintenance, development. Wikipedia is the #5 website in the world, and it runs on a fraction of what other top websites spend. People: The ot...
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Roger Bays

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Richard Holton: Problem of Free Will

In response to the claim near the end that "many things may be frustrators, particularly human beings."

If determinism is true and the book of life is not a fiction, but a book of fact (in keeping with the nature of the thought experiment) then a reader who reads ahead to a future page (lets say what they will be doing next Monday at 9 am) will find that at that time they will be doing exactly as the book says. There is no option for them to be 'a frustrator' as claimed. They would not be able to defy the book of life simply because they don't like the idea of them being a puppet (as mentioned). They might not like the idea, but in a deterministic world they are.

If, however, indeterminism is true then (assuming we agree that indeterminism introduces truly random events) then it would be impossible to write a book of life; so a book of life could not exist in an indeterministic world. Any book under this scenario could be nothing more than a book of fiction.

I think there was an accidental slight of hand labelling the light experiment as a frustrator, then labelling a person not wanting to be a puppet as a frustator.

Free will arguments often cite determinism and indeterminism. I personally believe that the notion of free will is false, no matter whether we are living in a deterministic or indeterministic world. To grasp this we need do nothing more than observe how one thought and emotion spontaneously appears after the next. It seems at first glance that there is a self that is somehow generating the next thought, that there is an I who is captain of the ship. But on reflection I (I being loosely termed here) have come to the opinion that there is no self, no I, but a brain that runs on auto-pilot. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). Wishing you an enjoyable conscious voyage, with calm waters.
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It's funny how philisophers can write whole books on littlerally garbage that can be debunked just by practicing simple experiements in reality.
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FLYWHEEL STABILISED MOTORCYCLE
The side impact test in the video is quite impressive.
I might have to get one.
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AVALANCHE LOCATION MARKER AIRBAG
This looks a useful bit of gear and well priced. As the article says it complements, but does not replace, a transceiver, probe, and shovel. I have three concerns:
1. The cord may wrap around the victim, making it too short to reach the surface.
2. The wearer may have their hands full in an avalanche and may not be able to physically pull the ripcord, or may be so preoccupied that they may not think to. My own experience of being in several avalanches is that there is a lot happening and it is all happening very quickly.
3. Though unlikely the cord may garrote the victim.
The Rotauf MK5 gives you one more tool for avalanche survival.
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IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE SEEN EVERYTHING YOU ARE SO VERY VERY WRONG!
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Just another toy that I have to have; I wonder if there is time to order it from Amazon before Christmas?
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ARE COWS MORE TRUSTWORTH THAN CHEMIST

This was the title of the lecture and panel discussion I attended last night.
Lecture by Joe Schwarcz. Panel discussion hosted by Kim Hill included Ian Shaw, Michael Edmonds, and Margreeet Vissers.

There were a number of new learnings and some old reminders, including the synopsis of the whole thing which was - eat a varied diet and exercise, and don't get too hung up on what you should and shouldn't eat.

The lecture title challenged the misconception that butter might be better for us because it is 'natural,' and margarine (made by chemists) might be bad for us because - isn't anything that involves chemistry bad for us? The upshot was a sobering reminder that everything in the 'known' universe involves chemistry. And as margarine goes, some are better for us than butter, others are not. Schwarcz confessed to a preference for butter, based on taste.

I realised that my current tenancy to buy BPA FREE products is a folly. I was reminded that what the public wants the public gets. And reminded that anything and everything is a poison if we eat enough of it. Dose is king. However, it was mentioned that BPA like soy milk is not good for baby boys, unless you want them to grow breasts! Something to do with BPA and soy being able to mimick estrogen, and thereby keying into the estrogen receptors that are present in both sexes. Some women after menopause prefer soy and linseed bread because soy and linseed tend to do what estrogen once did (by binding to the estrogen receptors). We were informed that BPA and soy are not the only estrogen lookalikes/copycats, and we can even absorb these chemicals by simply sitting on a chair. But don't go all paranoid and spend the rest of your life standing, you will probably get wonky knee joints.

We were also informed that:

Organic produce is not synonymous with pesticide free produce. Organic farmers are well versed in using organic pesticides e.g. nicotine and copper sulphate.

Courgettes have a neat trick, if they get a fungus they can protect themselves. At first glance this seems to give the thumbs up to not bothering with pesticides. But this would be a grave mistake, the self protection method is highly toxic.

Organic parsnips that have been damaged also produce some nasty self protection chemicals, so pick out the good ones in the store, and let the ill informed perish.

Apples, organic or otherwise, contain embalming fluid. But don't worry they don't contain much. But it highlights perception errors and how we can be hoodwinked by words and headlines. Imagine if you read 'Apples can embalm you before you stop breathing.'

Boiled meat may be better for us than fried or roasted because the burning involved in frying and roasting may cause cancers.

It was also pointed out that today we live much longer than we did a hundred years ago, so we must be getting something right.
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IF YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON, AND A QUITE WALK ON THE BEACH IS . . . WELL . . . BORING.
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Have them in circles
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Mark Watson's profile photo
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Writer + Visual Artist
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www.RogerBays.com
Introduction
I have spent a large part of my life involved in the outdoors. Outdoor sports I have been involved are rock climbing, alpine skiing, telemark skiing, ski touring, mountain biking, and road riding. I have had a long-standing interest in photography and visual art. Current academic interests are philosophy of mind, self awareness, psychotherapy, and interaction design.
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Currently
Christchurch, New Zealand
Previously
Newcastle, UK - Cambridge, England - Rothera Base, Antarctica - Sydney, Australia - Auckland, New Zealand - Queenstown, New Zealand - Wanaka, New Zealand - Chamonix, France - Whistler, Canada - Red Mountain, Canada - Steamboat Springs, USA