December 27, 2018

Horse 2497 - Philosophy Is Wondering If Ketchup Is A Smoothie.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Philosophy is wondering if that means ketchup is a smoothie.
- Miles Kingston

A lot of memes fly around the internet and people think that they are funny but never bother to interrogate the thing that's in front of them. I would argue that this distinct lack of curiosity is part of the reason why politics is broken and why we're all hurtling down the road of idiocy with no brakes.
The only Miles Kingston of note that I could find, was a humorous columnist at The Independent and then The Times; so it's probably possible that the quote is genuine.
I still think it worthwhile to interrogate the quote though. I am like a dog with a bone. I will not let this go until I give it two shakes.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

1. Knowledge generally speaking is the collection of facts and information pertaining to a particular subject; or perhaps the skills and practical understanding of that subject which have been won through training and theory, or sometimes by experimental practice.

2. Knowledge is also an awareness of a thing or perhaps familiarity bred through repeated exposure to experience.

3. Knowledge is also the older archaic euphemism which means sexual intercourse; which is derived from the older idea that a marriage wasn't actually a thing unless it had been consumated.

Because parts 1, 2 & 3 have to do with the ontology of a tomato, or rather the nature of being of said tomato, then Knowledge is basically a derivative of Philosophy.

As tomato is a berry of the nightshade, Solanum Lycopersicum, it is indeed a fruit.

Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Wisdom is not just the acquiring of knowledge and/or collecting experience about a thing but rather, the ability to exercise good judgement. Wisdom is indeed the practical outworking of that knowledge.

A collection of more facts is in order here though. Technically speaking fruits are the edible plant structures of a mature ovary of a flowering plant. To that end a pumpkin is a fruit, because it matches this dictionary definition of "fruit"; as is a cucumber and an avocado. If you were to put all of these into a soup or indeed a salad, then technically you have a fruit salad.

Wisdom would therefore yell from the rooftops that putting tomato in a fruit salad is perfectly acceptable. I would argue that such a dish would put one into a state of eudaimonia; which implies a contented state of being healthy, happy and prosperous. To that end, Widsom is also a derivative of Philosophy; and a branch of which  Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and perhaps most famously Epicurus would have been proud of. Don't mention Kant though. Nobody understands Kant. Not even Kant understands Kant. If anyone says that they understand Kant, they are a liar.

Philosophy is wondering if that means ketchup is a smoothie.

We are back to the ontological question of the nature of a thing being a thing. A smoothie is a very thick drink made from fruit, vegetables, maybe dairy produce, and maybe combinations of all of them.

We could always look and see if there is anything which already qualifies ketchup as a smoothie and  I would argue that a Bloody Mary which is made from Tomato Juice and Vodka, probably already qualifies as the ur-example of this.

Let's ask the direct question - can you drink ketchup? Quite obviously, yes.
Not only is the answer "yes" but the Guinness World Records people recognise the record of the Fastest time to drink a bottle of ketchup.

Can you drink ketchup? Yes. Is ketchup thick drink made from fruit? We have already established that tomato is a fruit; so the answer to that is also yes.

Is Philosophy wondering if that means ketchup is a smoothie? Not quite. Philosophy implies an ongoing inquiry. This post is an example of me doing Philosophy.

And yes, ketchup is a smoothie.

Should you drink ketchup? 
I personally wouldn't without good reason. That good reason would be at least $101.

December 14, 2018

Horse 2496 - Imperfect And Cheap Is A Better Story Than Perfect And Expensive

Oh dear.

My 3-string chocolate tin guitar, has decided that it didn't want to be a guitar anymore and after it had happened Mrs R reported that "it just gave up"; before questioning if this was a humidity issue. I don't know how hot or humid that it got out in the western suburbs of Sydney during the day but I do know that it sat in a car on Sunday afternoon; which meant that the glue which held the headstock in place, was under a fair amount of stress. Humidity could very well be a true assessment.
Am I worried about it though? Not if the slightest. When I consider that the one which I got in a kit was No.1 and my 1-string diddly-bow Spamjo is No.2, then all that will happen to No.3 is that it will be built into No.3A. I kind of love the fact that this guitar is writing its own legend. Since the world is made of stories and No.3 was tuned to EBE with the high strings of a guitar, then maybe I have to restring it with less tension and give it a lower voice. No.3A will be the guitar which went through puberty and whose voice broke (somewhat literally).

I have seen guitars built by people whose skills exceed those of professional luthiers. Having said that, I still think that from an aesthetic point of view, the best cigar box guitars are those which are obviously the cheapest. I have seen cigar box guitars for sale and prices into the many hundreds of dollarpounds  and while there is something to be said for the ridiculous amount of craftsmanship that goes into them and the fact that I admire the entrepreneurial and mercantile skills, at those prices you can buy a commercially made guitar.
There is something wonderful in the brutality of cheapness that appeals to me. I saw one guitar recently which was made out of an old oil can and the grime from the oil was still all over it. I love that this was turned into a guitar because it was cheap. There's more of a story there than a purpose built fancy pants piece of precious craftsmanship which never ever gets used.

I think this principle applies to more than just guitars made from cheap bits though. I think that it is worth applying to all sorts of things.
I completely understand the rationale behind buying a high performance car and then placing it in a garage. I also understand why you might want to take a racecar which has won something and place it in a museum. This is about preserving and maintaining a thing so that people in the future can look at it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with wanting a nice thing to remain a nice thing and not expose it to the possibility of damage.
However, I always feel sad for the thing that has been preserved. Every museum in the world is essentially a collection of dead things that will never have life in them again. Putting a car in a museum is to betray the purpose for which it was designed; to go very very fast. A television set from the 1950s that is in a museum, should be showing something like Leave It To Beaver. Ornate jewellery from ancient Britain might look pretty when it is sitting in a glass display case but it isn't displaying the power of the wearer if it remains unworn.

It gets even crazier in the world of numismatics. Coin collectors value condition as a quality of the piece in question. The very nature of coinage is that it clinks and rubs together in people's purses and wallets. Even as I look through my wallet now, I can see coins that are not even ten years old that display obvious signs of wear. They have a story which is mostly unknowable, where they are passed from person to person, facilitating commerce as they act as the tokens for previous work performed in the production of goods and services. Again, this is an ancient story and coins of thousands of years ago have a similar story. A bronze As of the Roman Empire will have moved through the hands of bakers, farmers, soldiers, artisans and tradespeople, as it acted in the process of moving value from one person to another.
As a coin collector, I am also painfully aware of Proof and Uncirculated sets, which by definition have never taken part in commerce and never will. Proof coins have polished fields and frosted details; they are the model examples of the coins in question. Proof coins which are sealed away inside their special packs, are museum pieces; whose owners are individual curators of museums of dead things. As far as I'm concerned, an 1878 Penny with Britannia on one side and Queen Victoria on the other, is an inherently more valuable thing than a Proof Penny of 2018, even though the latter has been polished, frosted, made to an obviously better standard and placed into a special set. The former which can be found in a "junk bin" at a coin shop, not only took part in commerce but did so at the centre power of an empire at a particular time in history.

I don't think that I am alone in my preference for things that have been used, abused and reused. To me this is like the Star Wars versus Star Trek question. Star Trek is known for its unbridled optimism. Right across the Star Trek universe, all of the spaceships including the ones owned by villains are all reasonably clean. The Star Wars universe on the other hand has actual junk dealers who pick their way through rubbish to make stuff. Somehow I think that most of us would prefer to live in the Star Trek universe but think that the Star Wars universe is more believable. I like the look of the Star Wars universe more for that reason and often wonder about what we don't see in those films. Surely somewhere there must be planets full of malchicks and regular schmoes who take the train to work, in factories that make all kinds of stuff. Eddie Izzard's bit about a guy who works in catering on board the Defence Sphere No.1 (Death Star according to rebel scum propaganda) under Mr Stephens has to have an element of truth about it because all of those technicians, ground crew, systems operators and pilots have to eat at some point. By the way, what happens on board something that has to deal with many species of aliens' poop? There has to be space plumbers on board the Death Star.

I'm not particularly worried about having to rebuild my 3-string guitar because at very worst, it will only cost a few pennycents. When you build a thing out of something that has the value of junk, then the emotional investment is minimal. In this case, it will take a few screws and some glue and that's about it. It already uses a dead AA battery for the bridge and rivets and a hinge for the tailpiece and so a couple of extra screws can not change the aesthetic of the thing even an iota.
I will end up using the other three strings which came out of the set and tune them down to GDG, which means that it will have a significantly lower voice than before. I don't think that that's remotely an issue either because since it doesn't pretend to be anything other than home made, not only does it not have to look pretty but I would argue that it looks better if it doesn't.

December 10, 2018

Horse 2495 - Clive Palmer Shouldn't Be In Parliament: He Should Be On The Radio

In the past week, I think I have witnessed the beginning of what is possibly the weirdest campaign in Australian political history.

Closer to home, I found that this recently appeared on my way to the railway station.

To be honest I have no idea whether or not Clive Palmer is even running for parliament or not. I have no idea if these are actually political billboards or not. I have no idea if Clive Palmer is trying to claim slogans before the racists get to them or not. What kind of political campaign is it when nobody is sure if you are actually running for parliament or not? One run by four time meme champion, Clive Palmer - that's what kind.
Clive Palmer's first foray into federal politics suffered the same kind of problem that most eponymous political parties face; a distinct lack of discipline and no real expertise in running the whips of the party. As a result, MPs defected once inside the parliament and it once again faded into the background. This problem also faces other political parties like the Jackie Lambie Network, Nick Xenophon's neXt, Bob Katter's  Australian Party and of course Pauline Hanson's One Nation, and while they might individually have longevity, they should have served as instructional, in that a top down party almost never works as opposed to a bottom up party like the Greens, Labor, or the Liberal Party.
Nevertheless, I still think that Clive Palmer should be part of the cultural fabric of Australia, just not as a politician.

The obvious comparison with Clive Palmer as a rich businessman entering politics would be Donald Trump. Trump had a pretty long run on NBC's The Apprentice and although I have never watched the television show, it apparently rated well enough for long enough that the network kept on making more shows. The reason why I cite Trump is that he is someone else who also shouldn't be in politics, and to be honest, kind of sort of isn't. The current White House administration is very much an extension of his unreality television show as far as I can tell. If this is true, then what is the best answer for Clive Palmer? I think that it is radio.

BBC Radio 4 has since 1967, been running a show called "Just A Minute"; which has been a staple of its Monday Night Comedy slot, for a very long time. The premise of the show is that the host gives panelists a topic which they must speak on for sixty seconds (hence the name " Just As Minute") and they must do so without repetition of words, hesitation, and without deviation from the subject. Offenses to these rules can be challenged by the other panelists and whoever is successful gets a point and continues to speak until the sixty seconds have elapsed. There is a link provided below.
The show has been successful for more than fifty years because the premise is absurdly simple and the show lends itself to having a wide range of panelists, though it is dominated by comedians. If we were to have the ABC commission our own series of Just A Minute, it would mean that the controllers of Radio National would have to shift the network from being almost entirely serious, to a degree of fun and frivolity; which would be more in keeping with the spirit of Radio National past. For a very long time The Goon Show appeared on Radio National at midday on Saturday and that's about as crazy bonkers as you can get. Something like our own series of Just A Minute would be the beginning of aligning Radio National to where it used to be; which is something like BBC Radio 4.

Leigh Sales once said on the Chat 10 Looks 3 podcast, that Clive Palmer was impossible to interview. Like interviewing Bob Katter, he dances around subjects like a hummingbird in a field full of flowers darts from place to place. That's not exactly a good quality for a politician but it is of considerable advantage on a radio panel show. It is noteworthy that on Just A Minute, other politicians such as Clement Freud and Giles Brandreth, have been fixtures of the show. I think that Clive Palmer was an abysmal failure as a politician but as previous politicians have proven, that skill set works extremely well when the consequences are nil.

Opponents will of course say that allowing politicians and business people onto television and radio shows humanises them as though that were a bad thing. This quite ignores the fact that politicians and business people are in fact humans and not just some canvas onto which you project your fears and hatred. I say this in the defence of politicians in particular because once you take them out of the white hot heat of politics, some of them make excellent television and radio. Ed Balls for instance, made a brilliant telly series traveling through "Trump's America" and I recently saw him on QI. Boris Johnson excels at making television about the Roman Empire and I quite liked his book about the history of the City Of London. It also turns out that John Major is actually a brilliant cricket commentator who is insanely knowledgeable about the minutiae of the game. I don't know that in Australia that we do a good job at looking beyond that particular hat that politicians wear and waste a lot of potential. Clive Palmer as a politician was bad but Clive Palmer as a radio show panelist would probably be wonderful.

I like Clive Palmer. I like Clive Palmer being interviwed on television. I think that Clive Palmer with Annabel Crabb on ABC1's Kitchen Cabinet was him being a genuine and warm person. I don't think that that necessarily works in parliament but I do think that that would be excellent on radio. You need people with personality, to broadcast that across the airwaves and Clive Palmer has that in spades.

Just A Minute on Radio National would open the door to a whole host of potential panelists.
Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Shaun Micallef, Francis Greenslade, Tom Ballard, Alice Fraser, Aaron Chen, Waleed Aly, Charlie Pickering, the two Kats, Emma Alberici, Jeremy Fernandez, Tony Jones and Fran Kelly aught to be a deep enough roster to draw panelists for the first series from. Throw in any international comedians who might be on tour and you have the ingredients for a show which could last well beyond 2068.
Naturally I'd cast myself as host because I have an ego the size of Tasmania and the perfect face for radio. So come on RN, what have you got to lose?

December 09, 2018

Horse 2494 - The Highest Impossible Number of Chicken McNuggets

This afternoon after playing indoor football, some of use retired across the street to McDonald's for some Frozen Coke. Behind the counter there was a frantic panic as they'd run out of frozen slushee mixture on account of one person buying enough to drown a horse, and their second cause of panic was that they'd run out of Chicken McNuggets.
Me being the kind of person who questions these things, wanted to know the highest number that you couldn't buy. For that I needed some basic information.

Chicken McNuggets are sold in packs of 3, 6, 10 and 20. That means that once you arrive at the first number which ends in a particular digit, that all integers of Chicken McNuggets to infinity and beyond can be sold on account of the fact that there are packs of 10. Packs of 20 are already irrelevant to thinks because 20 could already be made up of 2 packs of 10.

1 - you can't buy 1 nugget
2 - you can't buy 2 nuggets
3 - is a packet; so all numbers ending in 3 are out.
4 - you can't buy 4 nuggets
5 - you can't buy 5 nuggets
6 - is a packet; so all numbers ending in 6 are out.
7 - you can't buy 7 nuggets
8 - you can't buy 8 nuggets
9 - can be made of 3 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 9 are out.
10 - is a packet; so all numbers ending in 0 are out.
11 - you can't buy 11 nuggets
12 - can be made of 4 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 2 beyond 12 are out.
14 - you can't buy 14 nuggets
15 - can be made of 5 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 5 beyond 15 are out.
16 - can be made from a packet of 6 and a packet of 10; so all numbers ending in 6 beyond 16 are out.
17 - you can't buy 17 nuggets
18 - can be made of 6 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 8 beyond 18 are out.
21 - can be made of 7 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 1 beyond 21 are out.
27 - can be made of 9 packets of 3; so all numbers ending in 7 beyond 27 are out.

That means that the most number of Chicken McNuggets that you can not buy are 17.

Of course I have no idea why you'd even want to buy any Chicken McNuggets at all; considering that they're just Ingham nuggets which are already found in the supermarket and you could just as easily buy one big schnitzel from the deli counter anyway.

Now you know.

December 06, 2018

Horse 2493 - Business Has A Toddler Tantrum Because Of The Results Of What Business Did
Business faces a testing Christmas trading period after softer consumer spending dragged down economic growth to its slowest quarterly pace in two years.
Retailers and economists blamed subdued wages for consumption growth falling to a five-year low of 0.3 per cent and households pulling back on spending on vehicles, cafes and restaurants, alcohol, recreation and other discretionary items.
Economic growth slowed to 0.3 per cent in the September quarter, half the rate forecast by market economists. Weaker household spending was compounded by a sharp fall in resources investment at the tail-end of the construction of major mining and liquefied natural gas projects in Western Australia and Darwin.
ANZ senior economist Felicity Emmett said the softness in consumption was underlined by weak wages growth.
- Australian Financial Review, 6th Dec 2018

Well duh.

Rub my nose in the dirt and call me stinky but I really don't understand why business is surprised at this. Unless I am just really really stupid, I would have thought that it was obvious to everyone that if you pay people less money, then they have less money to spend. I could be wrong about this though. Maybe I've just been too plain ignorant to realise what's really been going on in this country.

Last year, the Business Council of Australia ponied up to the Senate Inquiry into Penalty Rates and basically beat the Liberal Party across the back of the head until they did what they wanted. Through the pages of The Australian and on telly like Sky News and appearances on QandA by various people over several month, the drum was repeatedly belted with the same club that the  Business Council of Australia was bashing the Liberal Party with.

Their submissions basically said that penalty rates were something of an anachronism and that people who work on Sunday shouldn't necessarily be paid more than those people on Saturday. Furthermore, people who were working on Saturday had made life choices to do that and their time wasn't as vauable as it used to be. By cutting penalty rates, businesses would be free to hire more people and we should see a corresponding rise in employment.
The Business Council has supported the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to adjust penalty rates under the Fast Food, Hospitality, Retail and Pharmacy Awards. We support this decision on the basis that it will provide opportunities for small businesses to open longer hours, provide additional shifts for workers and create new jobs....
Penalty rates should no longer be seen as a means to discourage employers operating at certain times. They should be seen as a fair level of compensation for the inconvenience of working hours that many would not prefer to work. In this context, it is important to note
that the Commission’s decision adjusts rather than abolishes penalty rates. In all cases except fast food, workers still earn a higher rate on Sunday than on Saturday – up to 175 per cent.
- Business Council of Australia, Submission to the Inquiry into Penalty Rates, Aug 2017

But how was anyone to know that if you allowed businesses to cut penalty rates that owners wouldn't just put the money in their pocket? How could anyone have foreseen that if business kept more of their profits and didn't pass it along to labour, that labour wouldn't have it to spend? Who would have guessed that without discretionary income, people wouldn't be able to spend it on discretionary items? If people's rents are going up, then how dare they spend more money on rent instead of vehicles, cafes and restaurants, alcohol and recreation?
Cuts to weekend penalty rates have hit Victorian women and regional workers hardest, threaten the state’s economic growth and have not created any more jobs, according to a Parliamentary report.
The State Parliament’s Penalty Rates and Fair Pay Select Committee was scathing of the effects of the cuts to Sunday penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers that began in July 2017, saying the reductions hurt the most vulnerable workers and had not achieved their stated goals.
- Australian Financial Review, 24th Jul 2018

I mean it's not like everyone who was going to be directly affected by this didn't spend months warning business that this would hurt them. Of course directly taking money from the from the pockets of people who work on Saturdays and Sundays, many of whom might already live week to week, would reduce their income, and therefore, spending. If your marginal propensity to consume was already 100% then it's not like you had the ability to save that money anyway.

I feel precisely zero empathy for business who suffer the effects in their profit and loss statements of reduced consumer spending, when it was business who clamoured for subduing wages in the first place. What we're witnessing is a fundamental and irreversible shift of the balance of economic power away from working people and their families and the people who have taken away that power from working people for themselves, are having a tantrum. Boo hoo.