What is the best wallet solution?

Answered Dec 31, 2018

I recently stopped carrying a regular wallet.

Now, I just have a little plastic card folder thingy that I got for free from the bank that I use. It has:

  • Driving licence
  • University ID card (which also functions as a city bus pass)
  • Credit cards (2)
  • Debit card
  • Supermarket discount card

Keys to my room, mailbox, locker, and bicycle go on a carabiner on my belt. Cardkey for the office and laboratory is on one of those thingys with a retractable string, that clips to my belt. The phone fits in the pocket of my jeans or fleece jacket.

What is the most ignorant thing someone has said to you?

Answered Dec 31, 2018

There is no lower limit to the ignorance that you may encounter.

A lot of this is economic. Other angles relate to general life trajectory. Examples of false but intractable beliefs:

  • No employer will ever pay more than minimum wage, to any employee, for any job.
  • No employer will ever pay for more than forty hours of work per week, and there is a law that says they don’t have to.
  • Employers pay employees simply to be physically present, and don’t have the right to even care if you got any work done.
  • If your job position is eliminated, the employer is legally required to give you another one (i.e. redundancy/layoffs don’t really happen).
  • All employees put forth the least possible level of effort that they feel forced into, while remaining barely employed.
  • Everyone lives paycheque-to-paycheque, spending down to zero dollars every two weeks.
  • People only live in low-rent, high-crime neighbourhoods because they enjoy the atmosphere, and everyone can afford to live in a nice area.
  • It is physically impossible to live in a modest, one-room studio apartment, or such a situation is equivalent to a cardboard box on the street.
  • There are zero armed robberies/assaults in high-risk workplaces. So the workers don’t have any excuse to be paranoid.
  • Street crime doesn’t really happen.
  • Jobs are all divided into men’s jobs and women’s jobs.
  • Chronic non-workers think that, anyone with any job can afford to hand them any amount of cash, as fast as they can spend it. This is known as “friendship”.
  • Many people think that the only possible leisure activity is watching television, and never heard of reading books.
  • Many people never heard of learning anything outside of a formal school environment/arrangement.
  • Everyone hates formal education, and only experiences to the extent of being coerced.
  • Going to university is considered bad behaviour, worthy of social punishment.
  • Students can sit in a classroom, playing video games, playing with the phone, and having irrelevant conversations while ignoring the teacher, and will still magically receive passing grades.
  • Everyone is obligated to tolerate sexual harassment, involving physical touching, in educational and workplace situations. Or maybe your aren’t even allowed to view it as harassment.  I’ve had women say this to me.
  • Many people have never heard of child abuse. Especially mothers who don’t love their children, and criminally beat them for fun.
  • Immigrants are all just on vacation, and have to go home real soon now. No matter how many years they have been in this country.
  • It is impossible for an adult to relocate to a new city. For university, or a job, or any other reason.
  • Everyone lives in the same town as their mother, because everyone still has the umbilical cord attached
  • Every decent person can call the Bank Of Mommy And Daddy to make a withdrawal, any time they are short on cash.
  • Everyone has a middle class background.
  • Everyone is married/partnered, because nobody is capable of living alone.
  • Everyone has unplanned children.
  • Everyone likes a certain sex act, including people who consistently refuse.

Another general principle is that, someone who lacks a basic skill, will believe that nobody has that skill. Also, people with low skill levels (e.g. poor literacy, vocabulary, general knowledgebase, etc.) are generally oblivious to this fact.

Many people believe that, their own first-hand experience of life is comprehensive, and that, nobody else has any wider (or even just different) life experiences.

A solid majority of people firmly believe one, some, most, or even all of these things.

What would be the worst weaponized bacteria or virus?

Answered Dec 28, 2018

Biological weapons have existed for many years.

In the middle ages, an attacking army would use siege engines to catapult corpses of animals and humans who had died of various plague diseases, over the walls of castles and fortified cities.

Two future versions come to mind.

First is an intense, but short term strategy.

You would want something which spread very easily, and killed people quickly. However, you might want to occupy the geographic area afterwards, and so need some way to keep your own soldiers and colonists safe.

With a virus, you would need an enveloped influenza. They spread easily, but also degrade quickly when sitting on a surface, or exposed to air.

With a bacteria, you would need something with multi-antibiotic resistance genes (that you could insert, and/or select for). However, you would also need to have either a better antibiotic (to give to your own occupying people), or some way to turn off the resistance genes (with drugs, or chemicals that you spray on surfaces, etc). Drug development is time-consuming, so your opponent could be working on it simultaneously. Turning genes on/off is complicated, even in controlled lab conditions.

Second, would be a “salt the earth” strategy. Which would be easier and simpler.

This means not only killing everyone in the target area, but also never occupying it, or using it. For this, you need a spore-former. Such as Bacillus anthracis – Anthrax. Or something in the same category, but even more obnoxious. These can last for decades in a harsh desert, and then sprout and kill in human-friendly conditions.

A third possibility is indirect. Humans are dependent on animals and plants for food.

Some microbes will target animal livestock, or will target food-crop plants. You could use either bacteria or fungus, depending on your exact target and timeframe.

This isn’t a bullet that can only be shot once, at one target. It isn’t a bomb that explodes, and then you never hear it again.

Biological weapons will be quite happy to turn on their alleged makers.

What are some of the dark sides of living in New Zealand?

Answered Dec 26, 2018

I’ll preface this by mentioning that, I lived for several years in Los Angeles in the 90s, so I know what an actual developed-country-hellhole is like. And will try to avoid comparisons, and just talk about New Zealand by itself.

In no particular order:

  • Domestic / relationship violence. Involving current, estranged, and former spouses and partners.
  • Child abuse, including violent abuse, sexual abuse, multiple-offender abuse, and homicides.
  • Poor people making more children that they are not prepared (financially or psychologically/behaviourally) to raise properly (see previous item).
  • Mass binge drinking culture. With the accompanying addiction, automobile crashes, violence, health hazards, etc.
  • A significant obesity problem.
  • A significant amount of amphetamine use.
  • Synthetic cannabis substitutes which are more hazardous than the real thing.
  • Criminal gangs sucking in already disadvantaged/impoverished young people, and financed by the aforementioned drugs.
  • Gambling, including the weekly lottery, and also high-velocity “pokie” machines.
  • Suicide. But let’s sweep that under the carpet with a law that prohibits news media from using that word in articles on that sudden death of a young person, without any medical description, and without any crime suspected (hint, hint).
  • Sexual harassment, and cavalier attitudes towards it, in both educational and employment contexts.
  • Economic disparities intertwined with racial/ethnic disparities.
  • An entrenched Treaty grievance industry.
  • Racism.
  • Anti-immigrant attitudes. Which will even be directed towards white, English-speaking immigrants.
  • Clean and green is an advertising slogan. Our level of farming is rather harsh on the environment.
  • Overpriced housing.
  • While the public health system is better than many places, there are serious problems with waiting lists for specialists/hospitals/scans/procedures.
  • Mass problems with public primary and secondary schools.
  • Mass problems with low literacy and numeracy skills.
  • And, of course, everyone’s favourite…
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome. There is something desperately wrong with a society where I, of all people, have been the target of this, repeatedly. And I barely even consider myself to be a functioning adult.

What are the diseases caused by bacteriophage viruses?

Answered Dec 26, 2018

As the name suggests, bacteriophages infect bacteria. They cannot infect humans, other animals, or plants.

However, some phages have genes that code for peptide toxins, which are then released by the bacterium host.

So the phage infects the bacteria, and provides the genetic information to produce the toxin. When you get infected by the bacteria (e.g. from contaminated water or food), it releases the toxin, which makes you sick.

This is kind of a symbiotic relationship between the phage and the bacteria species. The phage gets to spread and reproduce itself, and the bacteria receives information to become more virulent. When the toxin induces diarrhea, that helps to spread the bacteria host and the phage inside it.

Human diseases involving phage coded toxins include botulism, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and a few others. Here is a list.

Why do people stay in unhealthy or abusive relationships?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

I want to emphasise that, all of these principles apply not only to abusive sexual relationshits, but also to abusive platonic friendshits, and abusive family-of-origin relationshits.

In no particular order:

  • Some people’s childhood/adolescent periods were filled with relentless physical and/or psychological abuse. This primes them to tolerate abuse when they become adults. They don’t have a model of being treated decently, and have developed very low standards. People who don’t have such backgrounds are totally clueless about the impact (or even the existence) of childhood abuse, and may aggravate the problem with their judgmental, victim-blaming attitudes.
  • When you are too open socially, and have poor filtering mechanisms (which can be based on poorly-filtered environments), the abuse may continue, as an adult, into even superficial social situations. Thus damaging your mindset even further. As you are told over and over and over that you deserve hostility. In my experience, low-income environments, and female-dominated (or worse, all-female) environments are saturated with relentless, mass negativity/hostility.
  • Loneliness. A person might feel that, an abusive relationshit, or platonic friendshit, is better than none at all.
  • The bad individual (or just the situation with the bad individual) repels any good individuals in the target/victim’s life. This increases loneliness, and also deprives you of any healthy, sane “voice of reason” objectively observing and pointing out how bad the abuse(r) is.
  • The boiling frog principle. The idea is, if you put a frog into water that is already boiling, it will immediately jump out. But, if you put the frog into room-temperature water, and turn the heat up very slowly, the frog won’t notice, until it is too late. Abusers often start out nice and friendly, and turn the abuse level up gradually.
  • Financial dependence. Although the husband or boyfriend beats you occasionally, he also pays the rent. Although I have certainly seen abusers who expected the victim to financially support them. Including in a strictly platonic friendshit.

Two more principles are based on unrealistic optimism:

  • The desire to help the abuser. After being previously abused and judged, you might feel the need to prove that you are a decent, good person. And one way to prove that, is by helping people. Devoting your time/effort/resources to improving someone else’s life. Society plays a lot of “lip-service” to the idea that, helping others is a sign being a good person. Abusers often have very bad practical situations, down to such basic things as being unemployable, or unable to keep a roof over their own head. Some may be experiencing serious consequences of substance abuse. And so you feel sorry for them, and stick around, taking escalating abuse, as you desperately try to get your “help” to work. With the fear of how badly the poor little abuser will suffer if you abandon her. (Don’t worry – she will just move on to the next chump, by starting out very friendly at first.) Abusers love to use your own empathy and desire to be a good person as a weapon against you.
  • The hope that, if you just explain things clearly and simply enough, and if you do so enough times, she will finally listen and comprehend. Like when you try to explain actions leading to consequences. Or if you try to explain limits and boundaries. Or if you directly say, “If you keep doing this abusive behaviour, you will eventually reach the limit of my tolerance. And I will abandon you completely, with zero further chances. And you will get nothing from me, ever again.” You stick around because you are waiting for them to finally pull their head out of their rectum.

Both of these last two are based on two very misguided ideas, which had severe negative impacts on me when I was much younger, and much more tolerant:

  • Projection of rationality.
  • The belief/expectation that people were prepared to use that rationality to change their behaviour patterns.

Abusers (including “friendshit” abusers) thoroughly cured me of those two delusions.

I only tolerated a relatively small series of abusers for periods of weeks or months each, and was finished by age 26. Some people have a much longer series of abusers. Or they lock onto one, and stick around for years, decades, or even their whole lives.

Why do some people say that New Zealand doesn’t have the capacity to be self-sufficient when ends_abruptl on reddit said that New Zealand is self-sufficient in all areas apart from non-essential medicines?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

New Zealand is dependent on other countries in two directions.

Automobiles, trucks, and construction and farming vehicles are imported. Along with petroleum to run them. There isn’t sufficient domestic oil production, although there is a large offshore natural gas field.

Wellington’s newest fleet of commuter trains was built in South Korea. The old fleet was built in Hungary. The new double-decker buses were built in China. Auckland’s newest commuter trains were built in Spain.

Electronic items, ranging from mobile phones to hospital equipment are imported.

Pharmaceuticals are imported. And any of them is “essential” to the people whose quality/quantity of life depends on them.

Sure, we could produce all of the food we need, plus more.

That is the other direction of dependence. This country is very heavily oriented to exporting food, particularly dairy and beef. We need the income from this, and therefore, are dependent on other countries as customers.

One of our greatest vulnerability points is the risk of a food production problem.

There was a serious incident a few years ago, involving allegations of botulinum toxin contaminated milk powder being sold to China. That cost a pile of money, and damaged the country’s reputation, even though it apparently turned out to be a false alarm.

If anyone ever finds even a single case of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), whole countries may refuse to accept any more beef exports, for an extended time period. The economic impact of even an accusation would be very serious.

There is a problem right now with Mycoplasma bovis (not found here previously), and a mass-culling of dairy cows. The national impact is about reduced production of milk powder for export.

If other countries don’t want to buy our food, we can’t buy their oil, cars, equipment, phones and other consumer goods, etc.

New Zealand is also heavily dependent on other countries to send us tourists bringing cash into the country.

New Zealand educational institutions (of highly variable level and quality) are also heavily dependent on other countries sending us students (who are effectively viewed as tourists).

What are the early signs of an abusive relationship?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

A couple of signs appeared very early.

First, asking sexual questions before any agreement to any sexual involvement. As in, “Do you enjoy (certain type of sex act)?”

I thought the question was kind of excessive at the time. But I stupidly glossed over it, not realising that, the idiot’s entire concept of socialising and meeting new people revolved around finding people to use for sex (and certain related fixations). And they assumed that, everyone else socialises for the sole purpose of being used.

It also later turned out that, the idiot was obsessed with said sex act, assumed that everyone else is obsessed with it, and didn’t comprehend the concept of consent.

The red flag escalated to getting physical very rapidly after meeting. I stupidly went along with this. I think I didn’t quite understand that, the idiot would just make advances at anyone and everyone who had certain characteristics (which I won’t go into here). And didn’t see people as individuals, and didn’t want to get to know them as such.

The second red flag was micromanaging.

It started with my hair, and telling me that, a certain other hairstyle would be preferable to the one I had. I refused, because it’s my hair, and I am the only person with authority to decide how I get it cut.

The idiot had the idea that pestering and pestering and pestering, and criticizing and criticizing and criticizing would coerce me into getting the demanded hairstyle, just to get the conflict to stop.

The micromanaging then moved on to my clothing. With demands to hypersexualise, and put myself on public display. The idiot insisted that, jeans, t-shirt, and comfortable shoes constituted a bizarre, freaky-looking outfit, that would make strangers stare at me on the street. I refused, because it is my clothing, and I am the only authority in choosing it.

I eventually just said, “If my clothing bothers you so much, just don’t call me anymore. Then, I won’t come over to your home, and won’t pollute your space or visual field with my allegedly inadequate/inappropriate clothing.” This didn’t work, and the idiot continued with a fantasy that, maybe this time, I would finally show up with the demanded clothing/shoes/hairstyle.

The micromanaging escalated further and further, piling on detail after detail after detail. Including physical flesh-and-blood body features. Towards the end, the idiot seriously demanded that I “must” find a way to grow larger breasts, and did escalating anger and silent-treatment over it.

After five months of escalation, demands, arguments, attempts to drag me into their fantasy world, the idiot directly stated the intent to sexually assault me, by forceably doing the originally mentioned sex act. Knowing very clearly that I didn’t consent (because I had just that minute said directly that I would never consent, for about the fiftieth time).

The idiot had believed right from the beginning that, I was “the one” who could be totally micromanaged, and relentlessly pestered/criticized into becoming some kind of idealised fetish object. And that, I would just eventually break down, and lose the ability to ever say “no” to anything.

The idiot was surprised that I terminated the relationshit right then and there, to prevent the impending assault. And insisted that, I was the dysfunctional one.

I try to forgive myself, since I was fairly young at the time. And was still assuming a certain level of rationality from average people. I now understand that, sex is a major focal point of utterly delusional senses of entitlement for the vast majority of the population. (The other focal point being money.)

A last thing that comes to mind was that age issue, with the idiot being significantly older (42 vs. 25). Although much later in life I had a genuine attraction to a much younger person, I was decent enough, and realistic enough to understand that it was inappropriate. Many, many older people are quite eager to exploit younger people, due to lacking that decency or realism.

Why is Auckland a bigger population centre than Wellington?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

The terrain issues (flat vs. hilly) are certainly a big factor. It’s difficult to spread out horizontally in Wellington.

It’s also difficult to spread out vertically. The earthquake risk in Wellington dissuades the construction of high-rise apartment buildings like you can see in Auckland.

I would also suggest a social factor. A critical mass of immigrants. One person immigrates, and settles in a large city. After gaining citizenship, they then sponsor multiple relatives to also come over, and settle in the same local area.

Prospective immigrants from certain countries (China, India, Pacific Islands) may only have really heard of Auckland, and know that there are already large populations of immigrants from their same origin.

There are also certain cultural/ethnic/family issues, based on those origins.

According to the 2013 census, Pacific people have significantly more children than any other ethnic group. So, when you already have a lot of Pacific immigrants settling in one area (i.e. Auckland) they will then drive up the local population further with their high childbirth rate. And their NZ-born children and grandchildren will grow up, and likely continue that high childbirth rate.

Another issue could be the willingness/inclination of certain cultures (already present in Auckland) to have multi-generational households and extended family members crammed into the same run-down, overcrowded house. So they can tolerate an area with a housing shortage and high rents, without being financially driven out of the city.

The higher opportunity level and dynamic atmosphere of “the big city” may also attract people who already live in some other part of New Zealand. And, since Auckland is already the the biggest city, it may be first on the list of choices for many people.

My guess is that, Wellington will eventually become much larger (physically and in population), with a “supercity” extending the official city limits to swallow the areas up to Kapiti, Johnsonville, and Upper and Lower Hutt.

I’ve lived in Wellington previously, but am generally inclined to go to new places (Palmy is the the fifth [and smallest] city that I’ve lived in as an adult).

If I can line up a job there, I would move to Auckland without hesitation. (Yes, I know housing is expensive, but I have low standards).

What is the most ignorant thing anyone has ever said about your religious beliefs/lack thereof?

Answered Dec 25, 2018

It was someone I had just met. The light getting-to-know-you talking somehow got to the concept of an afterlife (i.e. remaining conscious and going someplace after you die). She must have brought it up, because I wouldn’t have.

I politely said that I didn’t believe any kind of afterlife.

The other person became totally indignant. It wasn’t just a matter of disagreeing.

She actually accused me of being highly dangerous. And likely to go around severely harming people. Possibly including serious violence. The logic was apparently that, the only incentive preventing people (including me) from harming others is fear of going to Hell, and promise of going to Heaven, after they die.

She was so busy accusing me, and telling me to get away from her, that she couldn’t hear anything more that I said. She wasn’t going to listen to anything about personal standards of morality, or about real-world punishments and rewards.

Another situation involved me and two very superficial acquaintances. They were talking about how some other person, Joe (whom I didn’t know) had recently died. But it was OK, because Joe was in heaven now. One of them turned to me, and said, “You believe Joe is in heaven, don’t you?” With a tense tone, clearly trying to intimidate me into agreeing.

I calmly said, “no”. But also said it quietly, because I just wanted the subject to go away, since she was being so totally inappropriate.

The ignorance issue there was her thinking that I didn’t have the right or ability to form my own views on the subject, or to disagree with her.

Another ignorance point in both of the above cases was about basic social manners. And how inappropriate it is to bring up the subject of religion in light social conversation with people you barely know.