Thesis completed!

Finally, and only 3 months overdue (which is pretty good), my thesis is currently being printed for submission.

I am so glad to have that done! This blog has suffered a lot over the past few months, hopefully I’ll have more time to keep it going now.

Concentrate washing powder

You’ll have seen all the ads for the new 2x concentrated washing powders, they are all you can buy these days and are being pushed as “better for the environment” – because there is less packaging to throw away.

Fair Go discussed tonight whether consumers were being ripped off – basically people are not reading the instructions and using too much because they are used to using the old, large scoops. If you follow the instructions you’re fine.

But fewer people know why laundry powder is actually concentrated. It’s nothing to do with the environment, that’s just a convenient side-effect and a handy marketing gimmick.

It’s all about transport costs.

At half the weight, you can transport twice the value of product for the same price. It’s that simple.

It’s not about the environment. It’s all about efficiency and cost. And that’s a very good thing. Enjoy your new, efficient washing powder.

And if it helps the environment along the way, all the better.

Friday cartoon

Courtesy of XKCD

The Napier siege could have been prevented

The Napier siege could have been stopped before it started with more lenient gun laws. The Herald states:

A fourth man, civilian Leonard Holmwood, was also critically hurt when he bravely tackled Molenaar – his neighbour on Chaucer Rd – and tried unsuccessfully to wrestle the firearm away from him after the police were gunned down.

Good on Mr Holmwood! He must have been able to sneak up on Molenaar while he was focussed on shooting at the cops. Molenaar can’t have seen him until he was close for him to be able to “tackle” him.

But wait a minute, what if Mr Holmwood had a gun? He could have shot Molenaar before he even noticed him, ending the siege before it had begun.

It is impossible to make a law that will prevent people like Molenaar from having guns. There are too many in the country, and criminals by definition don’t obey the law. But we could make it easier for people like Mr Holmwood to have guns.

Something to seriously consider.

No woman should be forced to carry a child?

As the ASC abortion appeal starts,  Blair Mulholland argues that as human life starts at conception, abortion should be avoided, but as no woman should be forced to carry a child against their will, it should be free and legal.

So what woman is actually FORCED to carry a child?

Any woman (or man) having sex has freely chosen to run the risk of pregnancy. No contraception method is foolproof. So any woman becoming pregnant from consensual sex has freely chosen this. No-one is forcing her to carry a child, she put herself in that situation.

So we don’t need free, legal abortions to stop women being forced to carry children, abortion just allows both women and men to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

The ONLY time a woman is forced to carry a child is when she is raped, and conceives (which is rare from rape as it is hard to conceive in that stressful situation).

Therefore, as no woman should be forced to carry a child against her will, rape should be illegal. It already is? Oh, good.

The only time this argument can possibly be valid is when arguing for an abortion after rape, and even then the morality of abortion can be disputed. Otherwise this argument is irrelevant.

More posts on abortion.

You don’t need a gun to be a dangerous psycopath

Following the shooting of 4 people in Napier by an man with 18 guns and no firearms licence, 60 minutes has managed to buy a gun without a licence, very easily.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. No-one knows how many guns are actually in NZ, but estimates are generally over a million. With only around 230,000 people holding gun licences, the reality is that many of these guns are owned by unlicenced people already. When you are talking those sorts of numbers, there are bound to be a few people willing to sell to an unlicenced buyer.

In the country at least, people don’t generally get a licence to buy a gun. They get a licence to buy ammunition for the guns they already have.

But is this really as bad as some sectors of the media might imply?

New Zealand’s violent crime rate is over double that of America, with Auckland having a comparable violent crime rate to Washington. But gun crime is only a small fraction of this. Because guns aren’t the problem.

Anything is a weapon. I have been working on the farm today, and as I write this am wearing a sheath knife on my belt. That is highly lethal (I kill sheep with it), but I can buy that wherever I like with no licence at all. And if I couldn’t buy it, I could easily make one with a chunk of steel and an angle grinder.

You can kill a lot more people with a car than a gun, and you don’t even need a driver’s licence to buy a car. Or you could use an axe, a machete, a kitchen knife, a chainsaw – the average home is a formidable arsenal of lethal weapons.

But despite being well armed we don’t all go around killing people – because we aren’t all violent nutcases.

Violent crime is not about the availability of weapons. It’s about what makes people violent nutcases.

We can only solve violent crime by addressing the causes of violence: family situations, drug addictions, mental health, violence in the media, and so on. We must empower parents to actually discipline children when they are young so the police don’t have to do it later.

There is a lot we can do. But restricting a few tools won’t do a thing.

Ubuntu 9.04 Linux is awesome!

I’ve been using Ubuntu 8.04 Linux for the past year, but installed the new 9.04 on my new computer. I could not believe how easily everything worked.

Sound works, the wireless card works, suspend works, even the webcam works, with no fiddling whatsoever! Is this really Linux?

Linux just gets better and better every year, and I can honestly say now that Ubuntu now has far fewer problems on my laptop (emachines D620) than Vista – even though it was sold with Vista! And I don’t have to worry about viruses, or deal with Vista’s horribly annoying popup windows asking me if I really want to do everything…

The winds of change are blowing. I’m not saying that suddenly everyone will suddenly switch to Linux now just because Ubuntu has made a great distribution, we won’t see that until it is readily available in stores alongside Windows, but this feels like a turning point to me.

The question is slowly changing from “Is it worth the fuss moving to Linux?”, to “Is it worth the fuss staying with Windows?”.

Well done Canonical for putting out such a well-polished free operating system.

If you like the sound of this, you can download a bootable (“live”) cd and see if it works on your computer without messing up Windows at all.

I just wish I could buy a laptop in New Zealand without being forced to pay Microsoft for Windows, when I won’t even use it. I’d much prefer to be giving that money to Canonical (who make Ubuntu).

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