Christmas story of the odd prime

p always felt shunned as he was an odd prime.

One day an important mathematician was working on a difficult problem, and he really struggled to solve it.
After working on the problem for some time, he cried out:
“Only an odd prime would solve this problem!”

From then on mathematicians considered odd primes to be normal primes.

And p lived happily ever after.

Tending the economy

An economy is an infrastructure for growth similar to a garden. Economies need regulation (tending) just like a garden does.

Whilst establishing a civilisation we humans have made a choice to order our environment. So its is contradictory that some people advocate an unregulated economy.

A self-regulatory (untended)   garden (economy) will let unwanted plants prosper. Weeds will take over and the most useful plants and fruits die out in untended gardens.

The flipside is also true. A good gardener (economist) will not be heavy handed on pesticides. The garden ecosystem require spontaneous interaction between organisms.

Market forces” is just another name for greed that must be constrained in a civilised society.

The garden is used as a comic metaphor in Being There.
The terms “Capitalism” and “Socialism” introduce ideological prejudices into viewpoints on money and equity .

Fix the NZ exchange rate by NOT using interest rates

We can get the exchange rate down by having a negative balance of payments with the rest of the world.

Unfortunately a negative balance of payment causes debt that has to be paid off!
The solution is to invest in large capital projects and infrastructure that will provide a return on investment.
We go into debt and get delayed payback over one or two decades (the return on investment gradually pay off our debt).  In the first decade our exchange rate will go down and we will stimulate our job market through a negative balance of payments.

The caveat with the above strategy is that we have to be smart when we select capital projects (investments).

The crazy thing is that the current New Zealand  government (John Key and friends) is doing exactly the opposite. The government is hiking up the exchange rate by signalling that we are going to sell our assets (achieving a good balance of payments, but destroying our ability to export).  As a double whammy the income from sold assets will go elsewhere, causing a negative balance of payments in the future.

The only way to have a healthy economy is to have one that produces, and for that we need infrastructure.

Maximum wage

One of the things that is bothering me is obscene salaries. Some CEO’s earn more in a day than many people earn in a year.

We can resolve this by legislating that organisations may not pay anybody ten times  more than any wage in their organisation.
So a CEO can earn no more than ten times the minimum wage paid by their organisation.

This may also be the most effective way to lift wages above the minimum wage.

The nature of paradoxes (how to spot a paradox)

logic paradoxes

A paradox is a proposition that seems contradictory.  The following statement is a short version of the lier’s paradox:
This statement is false

If the statement is the truth (True), then the sentence will have us accept that the statement is False. If the sentence is False, it follows that the statement is True.  And so we go round and round in a logic circle.

Paradoxes come in many forms. Bertrand Russel created a paradox in set theory (Mathematics). The paradox utilizes the concept of “sets that do not contain themselves”. I will try to explain what such sets look like:

  • A set of books in a household does not contain itself, as a set of books is not a book. A set (or collection) of stamps does not contain itself as the stamp collection is not a stamp in itself.
  • The set of all “ideas” could be said to contain itself, as “a collection of all ideas” could be thought to be an idea in itself.

So “sets not containing themselves” are normal everyday sets.  The paradox is constructed by defining a set, namely the set of all “sets not containing themselves”.

Does the set of all “sets not containing themselves” contain itself? Lets examine that:

  • If the set of all “sets not containing themselves” is in its own set, then it “contains itself”, and so by the definition it cannot be in the set, which is a contradiction.
  • If the set of all “sets not containing themselves” is NOT in its own set, then it “does not contain itself”, and then by definition it has to be in the set, which is a contradiction.

Hence the paradox.

So how are paradoxes constructed?

Truths are either derived, or assumed (a truth is either an axiom, or it is proved).   If you assume and prove something at the same time, you invite the possibility of inconsistency.  Paradoxes contain (a set of) rules or statements that refer to themselves , or stated differently, paradoxes are self-referential. The Liers’ paradox and also the (set/mathematical) definition uses itself whilst defining it’s own characteristic. The above paradoxes use negation to discredit the self-reference (I am not myself).

The moral of the story is to be careful with recursive logic (For example, do not get a person to vouch for him/herself).

On an aside, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem is proven using similar self-reference as the Lier’s paradox!

Laughter – stimulation of your unused nerves

Most humour occurs when (two) un-expected contexts are brought together. A context or story is told in the joke and a second context is introduced in the punch-line.
Then we laugh.

So what happens in our brains when we laugh? Perhaps the synapses firing in different areas of the brain are cross-linking in regions of the brain that are not normally active. Or stated differently, synapses that are seldom active are used.
Then we laugh.

We also laugh when we are tickled. Could tickling involve the stimulation of nerve-ends that seldom get sensory input?

The housing of domestic bees

Bees are industrious, organised and intelligent. Instead of explaining this in an article, I submit the following photo to the reader. See how those bees are watching me whilst I was checking out their health by opening their hive.

Like other Fauna and Flora, bees have been domesticated. The environment of domestic bees were changed by the introduction of artificial hives. Most honey bees are managed in in boxes where they store their honey in rectangular combs that are easily harvested. Feral colonies (bee colonies their native habitat) are not the norm. Whilst a lot of feral bees have been decimated by pests like the  Varroa mite, feral colonies have proven to be more resistant to pests than domesticated bees.

Man-made beehives normally adopt the Langstroth design. Bees store their honey and babies in frames. About nine of these frames are placed in boxes. A number of these boxes are stacked on a “bottom board”.

hive structure

Bees normally land on the bottom board and walk into the hive entrance at the bottom.

At the end of spring, bee keepers empty about half the honey out of each hive. Some commercial bee-keepers can be mercenary about the amount of honey they harvest. To ensure that bees make it through winter, bee-keepers feed the bees sugar water or an equivalent. This is like raiding the fruit and veggies and replacing it McDonalds food.

Varroa mites are like big ticks. If you were the size of a bee, a Varroa mite l;arger than a rat would be sucking your blood. A bee with more than one Varroa mite does not last long. Most bee-keepers use insecticides to control the amount of Varroa.

Bees will clean out their hives by removing dead bees, waste, the odd Varroa mite and other debris from the combs. As bottom boards are flat, the debris normally accumulate there. The beehive entry point therefore become the accumulation point of the hive debris.

bee movement pattern

Live mites often end up on the bottom board with the debris, where they can re-attach themselves to bees that walk in and out of the hive.

Some bee colonies spend more effort on hive hygiene by cleaning out their hives. It is well known that bees that are hygienic are more resistant to Varroa mite and pests.

Many scientist say there is no single cause to “colony collapse disorder”. “Colony collapse disorder” seems to be related to infections and Varroa.

The hive can be seen as an ecosystem that include bees and bee pests. The introduction of the artificial hive has changed this ecosystem, allowing pests to evolve their behavior to gain a competitive advantage.
Unhygienic hives are a breeding ground for many illnesses and may be the cause of colony collapse disorder (just like damp, drafty houses cause many illnesses in humans)

One method to improve the hygiene design of bee boxes, is to install a bottom board that allow debris (including live Varroa mites) to fall through onto the ground.

I have made such a bottom board,- as shown in the picture.

better bottom boards

The Purpose of Life

I have told this story (truth) to friends, and I thought it was time to write it down. I still believe in this purpose after all these years.

So, what is the purpose of life? The best way to explain this, is by taking you on a quick route tour of the path I took. I suspect the answer may apply to you as well.

I agonized about this in my youth poring over books, trying to understand philosophers like Jung and Satre.   I didn’t find any answer that I could believe in, so I concluded it was up to me to figure out for myself.

The purpose of Life was too hard to derive analytically, so I decided I needed simple building blocks to derive this truth. Maybe I could build a simple system of truths and extrapolate that to my purpose.

So I looked at my cat and thought, what is the cat’s purpose of life?
I thought for a while and didn’t get very far.   I was not doing very well was I?
So as you do with analysis I moved onto my dog;- what is the dog’s purpose of life?  I thought for a while and didn’t get very far. Shit, I was not doing very well was I?

Then it struck me, the purpose for dog was somehow in being a dog, and the purpose of the cat is somehow in it’s catness. If the cat tried to be a dog, and tried to chase after cars and bark, it would be an unfulfilled silly cat.
And if the dog tried to be a cat by climbing up trees and slink under the house, it would be a pretty unfulfilled dog.

So, the cat’s purpose in life is tied into its catness, and the purpose of the dog is tied into its dogness.

The cat needs to be as much of a cat as it can be, and the dog needs to be as much of a dog as he can be.

Right, so I need to be as much of of a human as I can be – but that does not say enough.

Specifically, I need to as much Kris as I can be. I need to express my Kris-ness as much as I can – In that lies my purpose.

So who-ever you are, your purpose in live is to express your <your name here>-ness.   Be as much yourself as you can be, even if that means you have to march to the beat of a totally different drum.