Thursday, 24 December 2015

quikview and viamedia are scam artists

I got this sms from Quikview, owned by ViaMedia in Cape Town.
I’ve confirmed that at least four of my friends have received this same spam.
In particular, I checked my balance before and after sending an opt-out SMS and I was charged for the opt out.
That’s unacceptable.
And I’m not the only person reporting them.
WASPA, I am sure, does zero other than take money from viamedia. Look how they ignore the scams from these:
"You have been sent 4 Photos. Click number/1 en NOW. 2opt out sms stop"
I see when you click on the link it tries to sign you up for a subscription service. It doesn’t say WHO signed me up, where they got my phone number from, or who sent me the photos.  It also doesn’t say why I should pay R7 to view photos from a putative person who sent them to me, without saying who sent them to me and why I should be willing to pay to view them. However, it does want to charge you R 7 per day for zero benefit (as in, who on earth is currently unable to send photos via their phone???)
This is very clearly a scam or a spam, since all of my friends are quite capable of using email attachments, whatsapp, or Facebook, or other reputable social media platforms.

Apparently if you send an sms to 30333 with the text "STOP ALL" it is supposed to check if any WASPS are linked to your number and stop them.
John Ostrowick
John Ostrowick ok it seems like this is the way to do it, i will try it. *111# option 10 -> 7 seems to do it as well, but it offers me a list of legit things that I want like airtime and data bundles, so I am reluctant to do that.

This is the proof:
        Name: ViaMedia ViaMedia
        Organisation: ViaMedia Pty Ltd.
        Tel: +27.214027500
    Registrant's Address:
        Street: 601, 6th Floor, The Studios 4 Loop Street
        City: Cape Town
        Country: ZA
        Code: 8000
        Name: Hetzner (Pty) Ltd
        Tel: +27.219702000 
    Relevant Dates:
        Registration Date: 2015-07-16
        Renewal Date:      2016-07-16
It turns out that after they were called on their scam by Hetzner (thanks for being such great ISP, guys!!)
They ran for the hills. Trying to cover their tracks and not reveal the link between quikview the scam, and ViaMedia the parent.
This is their current registration:
Upon further investigation we have found that the domain is no longer registered through Hetzner as it was transfered away from Hetzner on the 29th of December. See confirmation below:


       Name: Quikview Quikview
       Organisation: Quikview
       Tel: +27.214027500
       Fax: +27.214027500

   Registrant's Address:
       Street: 601,   6th Floor,The Studios  4 Loop Street
       City: Cape Town
       Province: Western Cape
       Country: ZA
       Code: 8000

       Name: 1API GmbH
       Tel: +49.68416984200 

   Relevant Dates:
       Registration Date: 2015-07-16
       Renewal Date:      2016-07-16

   Domain Status:

   Pending Timer Events:
       PendingUpdate        expires     2016-01-03 10:50

   Name Servers:


WHOIS lookup made at 2015-12-31 07:03 UTC

And I’m not the only one. Read this.

I want the following from Quikview and/or ViaMedia.
1. A written apology
2. An explanation as to WHO sent me photos via your service
3. An explanation other than (2) as to where they got my number from, so that I can sue that person for breach of POPI.
4. An assurance that 
a) my number has been deleted from their database, 
b) that no debits against my vodacom account will occur, and that
c) no further communiques from them will be received.
Note how despite saying “NO”, I still received two requests to confirm.
Their response (a pack of lies):


1: If you are adhering to Hetzner’s acceptable use policies (below)


We believe that our client Quikview is adhering to Hetzner's acceptable use policies.


ViaMedia run an SMS messaging aggregation division and this communication campaign is being run on behalf of an international client.



2: How you obtained the complainant’s contact details. You are required to provide specific opt in evidence showing the user providing consent to receive these text messages.


We will make contact with our international client as soon as practically possible in order to request this information. (It should be noted that it is a very difficult time of year to get hold of the relevant people).


It is our client's responsibility to ensure that the relevant consents are in place with respect to required direct marketing practices.


We were informed by the client that all relevant requirements, including opt-in requirements, have been met.



3: Whether the unsubscribe/opt-out function is working


To the best of our knowledge, the unsubscribe/opt-out function is working. We are currently running tests and investigating our client’s product to confirm this.


It is also worth noting that the system doing the actual send checks all numbers that we receive from our client for communications against the DMA DNC database as well as any industry DNC databases and other sources of DNC as an additional safeguard that we consider to be best practice for SMS marketing activities.


We adhere to the WASPA guidelines for direct SMS marketing.


It is also worth noting that the complainants are factually wrong with respect to the claim that responding to links will activate any services or subscriptions. As laid out in the client’s product brief responding to the SMS communication indicates interest that then elicits further communication and multiple steps to any form of subscription. In the case of subscription to a service, a double opt-in, including an Mobile Network (Vodacom/MTN/Cell C) direct confirmation response, to the MNO, is required.



4: Whether you removed the complainant from your database/future mailings


Yes, we have sent all complaints to the client and they then removed the complainant from their database and will always remove any and all complainants immediately from future communications.



I DID NOT GIVE CONSENT IN ANY MANNER OR FORM, neither to be contacted in the first place, NOR to be persistently contacted.
If you go to you will see clearly that they do not say what their business offering is, who they are, or their contact details. They very CLEARLY want to avoid accountability for this.
Quikview is NOT a foreign company.
Tell them that their “client” DOES NOT and NEVER HAS had my consent.

I attach screenshots of the persistent harrassment which is occurring despite responding “no”, at cost.
Tell the client to behold the following screenshots and note the date/time. I received persistent harrasment, even today it is still badgering me to sign up.
I am not going to remove this complaint from Hello peter OR my blog OR facebook till I get an apology for spam, misleading me, and a clear identification (name, surname) of WHO sent me photos via their “service” so that I can take it up with the person concerned. IF they cannot tell me who sent me the photos, then clearly it is a SCAM to ENTICE me into signing up, and therefore FALSE ADVERTISING.

IMG 6759


IMG 6758


IMG 6800

AND another, (31 Dec)
Screen Shot 2015 12 30 at 07 06 07
Another (1 Jan)
Screen Shot 2016 01 01 at 20 06 14
and another (20, 21 Feb)
Screen Shot 2016 02 21 at 12 38 15
Two more:
Screen Shot 2017 01 02 at 11 59 07

Friday, 4 December 2015

why I cannot vote DA


Amongst other things.

Like the fact that Kohler-Barnard wasn’t fired immediately.

Here are two great Zille stories.

1. Atheists are fundamentalists. “The worst kind of fundamentalists are atheist fundamentalists who will not accept that ppl can belive”. (11:50 am, 17 Dec 2014, Twitter).

2. Multiple sexual partners or sex with HIV is to be criminalised. .. apparently she doesn’t understand catholicism or lesbianism.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Friday, 6 November 2015



This is why I am going to avoid giving SAA business in future.

1. They do not automatically credit you with airmiles when you go on their flights. You have to advise the booking agent that you have a voyager member number before you pay for your flight. Otherwise, they don’t credit you. Their system does not automatically detect, on the basis of e.g. your ID number, that you are due to receive airmiles for going on their planes at their inflated prices.

2. Their prices are overinflated. R 1500 one way to East London without airport taxes. On Airlink (a propeller aircraft — read: noisy, bumpy, slower flight). By comparison, Kulula ( was R1000 all-in on a Jet.

3. Voyager and SAA are two different companies, as far as I can tell. If you phone one or the other, either one “can’t do” certain things. So, voyager can “award” points, but can’t book a flight, and SAA can book a flight, but can’t award points. The result is you get passed pillar to post back and forth (I counted ten phone calls, not to mention waiting each time in the call centre queue). You phone the one bunch, they say, no, you can’t book a flight here, they give you the call centre number (instead of just transferring the call). You sit in the queue again. They answer; you get told, no, we can’t pay for your flight with points, you have to call voyager. You call voyager, no, they can’t book the ticket, etc, back and forth.

4. They gave me a “companion” ticket - a free ticket for my wife. I tried to claim it. No, I have to pay for my own ticket, they said. I said - I have airmiles. They said no, you have to pay for your ticket. In other words, I can use the airmiles for myself (and pay for my wife’s ticket), OR, I can use the airmiles to pay for her ticket (and pay in money for mine), but either way, EVEN WITH airmiles AND a companion ticket, I have to pay for one ticket. In short, either the companion ticket is useless, or the airmiles are useless, or both.

5. The airmiles I’ve accrued over one year, with massive spending on my card, AND with an international flight credited, were not enough for a local domestic flight. It didn’t used to be that bad; in the early 2000s I used to be able to get a flight per annum.

6. The airmiles expire before you can use them.

7. Their website is confusing. You try to book with your airmiles and it still asks you to pay with a credit card.

8. It won’t let you use airmiles for a one-way ticket.

9. You pay enough per annum for an air ticket on the “air miles” benefit. In other words, it’s cheaper to buy a ticket with than to pay an annual fee to be a “voyager member” on the odd chance/gamble that you *might* spend enough money to get a free ticket on SAA.

moral of the story, don’t bother.

I’m cancelling my membership ASAP.


I keep getting false advertising that flights are affordable with my voyager miles. I have 20000 or so miles, and I keep seeing adverts like this one that I got this morning in my smeses.

SAA JourneyBlitz offer! Return flights to Cape Town, Durban, Victoria Falls and other SAA destinations for as little as 7 400 Miles. Book at T&C's apply.

Really? I logged into their site and it says I need at least 18000 miles ONE WAY to cape town.

I am going to cancel my account because I actually just NEVER get to use my voyager miles, and it costs me 2000 per annum. I may as well just buy a ticket every year.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

on summary executions of criminals by cops

you're failing to understand the difference between the right to life and the right to property enshrined in the constitution; you've effectively called for the removal of the right to fair trial and the right to life. That is the position held by HF Verwoerd, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin. Welcome to your bedfellows. When they come for you, saying you're a white racist and sentence you to death, are you going to plead that you have a right to life and a fair trial? Or will you say, oh yes, I favour the cops having the right to issue a death penalty?

Thursday, 15 October 2015

another attempt to refute antinatalism

1. The party/nightclub analogy:

a) Suppose you are invited by friends to go to a party at a nightclub.

b) Suppose your friends will pay for all your drinks up till midnight

c) Suppose that your friends have good reason to believe that you will enjoy yourself, because they know what sorts of things they like, and you’re their friend, so there’s a high probability you’ll like the party too.

d) Suppose also that you know that you always have to leave a party; it doesn’t go on indefinitely. You can leave when you hook up with someone,  or when you get depressed because you haven’t hooked up with someone, or you can leave when you drink too much and your friends take you home, or, you can get evicted by the bouncer, or you can get into a fight and have to go to hospital afterwards. Almost all ways of leaving the party are unpleasant and disagreeable (drunk/stupor/lonely/bounced/hospitalised).

e) Suppose for argument’s sake that you definitely will have fun most of the time at the party.

f) Do you want to go to the party?

These are analogies for life.

a) Your parents invite you into life by creating you

b) They will cover your costs till you’re an adult

c) They think you’ll enjoy life as they did

d) You are going to die at some stage, it’s just a question of how.

e) You do in fact mostly enjoy your life.

f) Do you want to live?

I think the answer is yes: better to go, and risk being bounced or assaulted or whatever, than not go and be lonely and bored at home anyway.

2. Duty to procreate: the Idiocracy argument

Look. Think about Idiocracy (the movie). Would it not be better for humanity, overall, if more intelligent people had kids? This is in danger of being eugenicist, so I’m not saying less intelligent people ought to not. I’m saying that more intelligent people ought to have kids, on the assumption that intelligence is inherited (it must be, because we’re genetically distinct from apes and more intelligent than them). We need smart people. Only smart people are smart enough to appreciate what Benatar is arguing. Which in effect means his argument encourages smart people to not breed and therefore reduce the average intelligence of humanity.

3. Meaning in life

If I think about my own life, the three most meaningful things are cultural and biological: In order of value,

- My kids

- My marriage

- My PhD

Of these, the most valued thing in my life which I have felt to be the most meaningful is my kids. That is not to say that people who do not have kids have meaningless lives, just that they’re missing out.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

scientists think morals distinguish people? uh, no.

The trouble with the model is that modes of moral behaviour are not sufficiently nuanced to discriminate between persons. Let's say I have two people with alzheimer's . Let's say that neither remember who they are. And let's say they're both altruistic utilitarians. Now further, let's put them in a room where their life partners/spouses can't see them, but can write letters to each other on computer. Would either spouse be able to tell whether they're talking to their partner with alzheimer's, or not? I think not. So unless you can give a nuanced scale of what you mean by 'moral'... it's not going to discriminate between individuals. Individuation is, in my view, best done with genetics. However, memories aren't a bad model either. In my thought experiment here, spouse A can't tell if she's talking to partner B or partner A (with alzheimer's) unless either of them can remember *something* of their previous life, e.g. their partner's name. Obviously, SEEING their partner will individuate; but the physical form is genetic. Hence, genetics is the only true individuator.

Friday, 18 September 2015

three finger swipe bug - Apple Spaces on Mac OS X

I find that if you swipe with three fingers left or right on Mac OS X to switch spaces, and you hesitate, it sometimes locks in a partly-swiped position with part of the screen offscreen. The result is, surprisingly, that the trackpad and clicking stops working, except for mouse movement. Scrolling and clicking stops; mouse moving continues. Attaching an external mouse does not help.

There are three solutions.

1. Disable spaces (click everything off under the system preferences for Spaces and Keyboard Shortcuts). This solution is mentioned often online but doesn’t in fact work! The three-finger swipe to switch spaces keeps working!

2. Enable three-finger swipe as “drag”. I find this is the only working solution.

3. Open terminal (or keep it open) and command-tab to the commandline. Type sudo reboot. This however doesn’t prevent it happening again.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Visit to ICT4Red/Cofimvaba

I visited three ICT4Red-supported schools in Cofimvaba in Rural Eastern Cape. The initiative is to bring e-Learning to rural areas (red = rural education). Here are some photos.

On visiting one of the schools which had mud buildings, I decided to do a fundraiser. Please support it. More details here:

Learners in Mbudlu using tablets
IMG 6042
Sewerage recycling toilets
IMG 5989
View approaching the area
IMG 6035
A new lab in one of the ICT4Red schools, funded by CSIR
IMG 6037
Schoolchildren in Zamuxolo learning to use tablets
IMG 6029
Mobile charging station for the tablet and storage room
IMG 6022
Views from Zamuxolo 
IMG 6019
Mud classroom hosting 50 schoolchildren per classroom
IMG 6017
Hydrogen fuel cell technology at one of the schools
IMG 5992
Another picture of children learning with technology
IMG 6010
Wireless mesh internet supplied by CSIR project and rainwater system
IMG 5990

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

rejecting utilitarian justifications for carnism

I've seen these arguments before. I don't find them compelling for several reasons. First: the deaths of small animals in agriculture. Their deaths are accidental rather than deliberate unlike slaughter houses; which means that morally speaking, we are not as morally abhorrent for allowing their deaths as we are for deliberately killing cows, say. The same argument defends eating roadkill, as offered in the article cited. If eating roadkill is ok because roadkill is accidental, then vegan collateral damage is fine too. The article can’t be hypocritical about this. Either accidentally dead animals are ok to die and or be eaten, or they’re not. If the fuss is about collateral damage, then cars should be banned if combine harvesters should be banned. Furthermore, the small animals that die are less sentient and therefore of lesser moral worth than, say, deer or dog roadkill, or cows. Generally we’re talking here about mice, rats, bugs. Even Burns has a poem apologising to a wee little beastie.

I also contest the claim that animals have no moral value inherently. This is unadulterated nonsense. If it is not unadulterated nonsense, explain why you don't eat your dog. The answer is a dog is family. Therefore he has moral worth. Furthermore, it is clear that we allocate moral worth on sentience. We don't care about swatting a fly but we are reluctant to kill a lizard and won't kill a chimp. So no, animals have moral worth.

I think, lastly, that utilitarianism is false. It's not about quantities of suffering. Because it leads to counterintuitive results like the article’s claim that you should eat whales. No. A whale is sentient therefore shouldn't be eaten. Similarly, let me show one reason why utilitarianism is false. Suppose 20 people are going to die if they don't get organ transplants. Shall we sacrifice YOU and chop you up, even though you are healthy and happy, to save these others? If so, why is it not law yet (as in, why is it not law yet that the government can’t arbitrarily select a person off the street at random to chop up for organ donation, like in the Monty Python “organ donor/liver transplant” skit)? Reason: you are sentient and have a “right to bodily integrity". If you were in a vegetative state the answer would be yes, not so? Surely if you have no chance of returning to a qualitatively normal life with full experiencing consciousness, there’s more value in letting you die and then taking your organs? See the difference? Sentience is what turns an abhorrent idea (human sacrifice) into something acceptable (dare I say palatable?).

*There are other reasons why utilitarianism is false, e.g. it doesn’t say how to do the calculation; it doesn’t say at what point in the distant future the good consequences must arise in order to justify the earlier evils; and it doesn’t acknowledge inherent value of persons/sentient beings; it doesn’t treat people/beings as ends in themselves.

So it's nonsense. Eating meat isn't ethical and the more sentient the being the more unethical it is.

Monday, 10 August 2015

a useful change management rubric


















Saturday, 8 August 2015

on that canard, "so openminded that your brain falls out"

I’ve often heard that saying from conservatives. The implication is that being open minded makes you gullible or susceptible to believing just anything eg, evolution, gender rights,  gay marriage, etc.

to me, openmindedness means being able to entertain an idea without accepting it. So I am open minded towards woo in the sense that I will entertain the idea that it might work, and I'll propose empirical tests. But I don't accept it prima facie. But just accepting stuff is not being openminded, that's being gullible. Gullible != openminded.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Thursday, 23 July 2015

why I can't make up my mind about ethics

You can still have a kind of normativity without free-will. Consider ubuntu (recognition of social determinism), or consequentialism (based on a set of desirable outcomes which have no moral judgment, e.g. economic outcomes, biological flourishing outcomes)
Hence, I think that my position is consistent or coherent..

So let's start with my moral theory. Please bear in mind that this is not a philosophy seminar or a journal, so my account is going to be brief, rough, and faulty. You are welcome to point out the faults, as I am not invested in my position enough to really care if it is true at this stage.

My view is confused. I admit it. I have sympathies for two positions. I am sympathetic to consequentialism, and I am sympathetic to skepticism.

The skeptical position is one of metaethics: Whether there is such a thing as 'good' or 'evil' or 'bad' or 'morally right'. I am more sympathetic to this position than any other.

The argument goes as follows, roughly. The phrase "it is good" or "it ought to be done" is in fact meaningless. If it is not meaningless, the meaning escapes me. I interpret it at most to mean "I expect that you shall at a future date do X" = "you ought to do X". I do not see the modal force of the "ought". Unless it refers to determinism, it has no modal force whatsoever. So, "it ought to be done" could mean "It shall be done" or "I insist that you do X", but doesn't say by what means, in virtue of what force, or in virtue of what authority.

Short of threat of dire punishment (retributivism) I do not see the force.

So, for example, this means that human rights are mere deontology, the same as the ten commandments.
"Thou shalt not steal" is coextensive with "You have a right to property", that is, both terms extend (refer) to the proposition "Property ought to not be taken without permission of the owner". But since I am perfectly unclear what "ought" and "owner" mean, I don't see the force of either "thou shalt not steal" or "you have a right to property". They're both just deontology < Deon, law. This is the law. Whether the force of the law is divine or the UN Charter of Human rights or whatever, it's just an arbitrary law.

Now: Whence these moral or legal laws? Well, presumably they're responses to psychological tendencies. So, we get pissed off when someone takes our stuff, so moral laws, and legal laws, are inventions to say, "you ought to not do x, and you ought to do Y", so as to satisfy this weird psychological atavism that we have.

I just do not see the force of any actual, real moraltiy here. I just see satisfying a psychological tendency with laws.

Now, that deals with deontology. Consequentialism is more tricky. Look. Consequentialism says that what is right is that which brings benefit. So, we ought to have a democracy, say, becuase most people will benefit, rather than the few, e.g. as in a plutocracy. Likewise, we can say, if there's a fat guy and a train, and throwing him in the path of the train by pulling a lever, say, as the only way to save people tied to the tracks (this is a STANDARD philosophical paradox), you end up with the result that it's best to push the one fat guy into the train's path to stop five people tied to the tracks from dying. So this is consequentialist logic: What is the best consequences we can expect, or aim for? And that is then "the good".

I have two problems with it, and it should be obvious. One: Says who that "it is good" rather than "more promoting of life" ? what is the difference? Why add that extra label? Second: What point in the distant future counts as enabling "it is good" ? consider if the five people tied to the tracks were Hitler, Goering, Himmler, and other friends of theirs. Would it still be best to push the fat guy (Churchill) into the way of the train? No? So it depends on a whole bunch of future contingencies which may be unknown as to whether an act is IN FACT good. That is, how it turns out, determines whether it's good, and since we're not omniscient, we can't tell how it will turn out.

What this means is that democracy loses its consquentialist foundation as a morally correct system. It also means that consequentialism fails.

In short, consequentialism is false because something that brings benefit now (whether to me, or to society), may at a later date inevitably cause something worse. We can’t predict without omniscience. So, if we can’t tell, because of consequentialism, whether this is good or bad here or now, we have to choose an arbitrary cutoff point such that good in the short term = good, and good which later causes bad in the long term = unfortunately collateral damage. But that still means the general principle of “future benefit = good” is false.

If consequentialism and deontology both fail, what are we left with? Well, ubuntu, exemplar ethics, duty (supererogation). Each of these have their problems. The most common problem is self-refutingness. That is, they all beg the question of what "and it is good" means. If "good" means "ultimately benefits us", then that's enough. So, if by "it is good that you do ballet" means "you will receive a benefit of discipline and training and elegance", say, then I don't see that you need to add "and it is good". Adding "it is good" adds no new further information.

From this, I conclude that technically, ethics don't refer; they're meaningless.

What I can however see is that we do have norms of behaviour and ideas of fairness. But I think those are built into us biologically and are the proper study of ethologists, not philosophers.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Philosophy is fair game

I’m a bit tired of the pontifications of Dawkins, Harris, Krauss and Chomsky. Whilst they are all PhDs or professors, their area of specialisation is not philosophy. Their comments seem to show a lack of understanding of the large body of research that stands behind the respective areas that they comment on so glibly. 

This is not to say that I disagree with them. It seems to me, prima facie, that what they say is correct. My point of objection is that they think that it’s ok to just talk informally about an area of specialisation that is not their area. Dawkins is a biologist. Yet he writes books about the existence of God without demonstrating any understanding or knowledge of the philosophical literature. Harris is a neuroscientist. Yet he writes on free-will. Krauss is a physicist, yet he’s dismissive of philosophy of science without any charity. And Chomsky is a linguist, yet he waxes lyrical about politics.

Philosophy is not just an arbitrary set of ideas that nonspecialists are entitled to pontificate about. If I went round, saying I was an emperor, just because some moistened… oh wait, that’s something else. If I went around saying stuff about biology, neuroscience, physics or linguistics and pretended to be some authority or expert in that area, I’m pretty damn sure these guys would call me on it and say, "hang on, you don’t actually have a higher degree in that area and your opinion doesn’t count”. I mean, can you imagine what Dawkins would say if I said that actually Lamarckism is right? I don’t think it is, but imagine the look of contempt on his face? 

Just because something makes sense to you or you think you have a novel philosophical idea, it doesn’t mean it is either novel or that your idea is worth mentioning - because believe it or not, there are professional philosophers who have churned every single idea around to death, and found that most of them don’t work. So whatever you’re saying philosophically has probably been said before, in much more detail, but by actual philosophers. I’d like to suggest that before you give an opinion, take a look at I’m pretty sure you’ll find that your idea has been exhaustively discussed already.

As a simple example, Dawkins mentions Bayes’ Theorem in his God Delusion, in one sentence. It takes me five chapters in my PhD to adequately dismiss the argument he presents in one sentence. This shows how little seriousness he accords the theistic position, and, that he is therefore guilty of a major, major straw man fallacy. Please, non-philosophers, stop acting as if you have something novel or useful to say to add to the debate. At most you’re demonstrating a disrespect for the discipline and your contempt for it by failing to do the most rudimentary research. Please look at the website given above and learn what experts have discussed, agreed on, said, and also what is unsaid. If you have something useful to contribute, please submit it to a philosophy journal, see if you get published, and then you will be entitled to an opinion on it. Note that I’m not saying you have to have a PhD. Just do your homework first. You can talk casually on facebook about ideas, but please do not assume you are saying something new.

Just as I do not qualify, or have the right to, an opinion on Lamarckism, because I have not researched evolutionary biology, so does Dawkins not have a right to comment on theism without doing his homework and demonstrating the appropriate level of academic discipline. He should know better, after all, he is a prof.

The point is that even the ancient greeks were winging it and didn't have 2500 years of argument to back up their views. Anyone on facebook who writes what they think is more or less using hearsay and ignoring 2500 years of thought.

So, yes, Plato and friends were amateurs like anyone else on facebook, and were very often wrong or simplistic, which is why the disciplines still exist.

The same for science. Aristotle made many pronouncements about science but he was mostly wrong. We can respect him as an original but not really use him nowadays. The same goes for anyone else who just wings it. You need to see what has been said before you just assume your view is legit. However, whilst people are prepared to grant that respect to the sciences, they are not prepared to grant it to philosophy, and trot out the tired old canard "I am entitled to my opinion". No, no you aren't. I've spent over 20 years on this and I can tell you that I still make major errors and do not understand the nuances of some of the debates.

Imagine the outrage if I went on facebook and pronounced that set theory was nonsense, or that I had refuted quantum mechanics? Everyone would point at me and laugh and say that I was a crank, a hack, and an amateur. So why do people think they can get away with doing precisely the same to philosophy?

A useful distinction given to me by Rodger Wilkie: Opinion versus Position. An opinion is just your view. A position is an opinion that you’ve done research on and that you can defend with an argument. I am not interested in your opinions. I am interested in your positions.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Do not sign up as a customer with Discovery Health or affiliates


We’ve been deeply (read: extremely) dissatisfied with Discovery. On many occasions they opt out of paying by using the story that we’re in a “self payment gap” but state that we still need to pay them monthly even though they’re not covering us. Also, when my wife changed jobs and we were moved off their “scheme", we were told we had to pay them back for things that they had covered, because we’d not given them a year’s contributions. It came to about 14000, and they demanded we pay immediately or get blacklisted. I understand that SA law gives us three months to pay. Moreover, imagine this happened with household insurance? Ooops, you changed household insurance, guess you have to refund us the R100000 we paid you out on that burglary incident, sorry for you. Can you imagine what would happen to an insurance company that tried that? So why does Discovery get away with it?

What I find obnoxious is:
- “Self payment gap." What is the point of having insurance if they refuse to cover you for random and whimsical periods of time? Do they think we’re going to phone them EVERY time we’re about to incur a medical expense and ask whether or not they will cover it and or whether or not we will be expected to pay for it anyway?
- Their lack of clarity between their tiers of cover, model of cover, and what they cover and don’t cover, in a human-readable and user-friendly format. I do not want to read a book to know whether they’ll pay for my kid’s antibiotics. My time isn’t worth it. The antibiotics cost less than the time it takes me to read the book, so I’d rather just pay for it myself than “bother” them with a claim and then only get 80% covered or so, and then only be told “no, you’re in self-payment” (translation: you ARE NOT covered).
- I fail to see the advantage to them over a hospital plan. They only actually offer cover if you’re hospitalised, and outside of that they try really hard to avoid paying.
- “Medical savings”. They’re trying to pretend that they’re a bank with a savings account and that our policy money is going into this savings account, and when the savings account is empty due to claims, we can no longer claim (“self payment”). My question. Why should I then bother with your company, if you are (a) not in fact an insurance company, and (b), I have a savings account with an actual bank already, and (c), my financial management methods are my business, not yours…? Don’t tell me how much to save/put aside each month, then tell me I’ve not put aside enough. Either you’re an insurance company or you’re a bank. Stop pretending to be one and admit that you’re just the other.

I am relatively sure that their business practices are at the very least misleading, and I am somewhat slightly less sure that they are even legal. I think that at the very least, Discovery should be nailed on false advertising; by calling themselves "health” rather than “banking” they lead the client to assume that they are a health insurer of some sort, and that the money being paid to them is a premium, not a deposit into a savings account.

At best, they are guilty of not making their payment policies clear and concise for their clients. Furthermore, they use bulk deals with corporate sector to bully you into signing up (“group benefits” … right, like we actually benefit from dealing with you). They offer lots of deals and discounts on gym memberships and stuff like that that we don’t really care about, but they don’t actually do what we do care about, which is cover medical bills.

We can accept that there’s a limit on how much they’ll cover per annum, but they do their damnedest not to cover anything or tell you when you’ve run out, and list the transactions that incurred the expiry, and then as I mentioned, when you leave them, they ask for a refund for what they did cover.

I will never voluntarily sign up with them again (I didn’t in the first place, it was mandatory corporate “benefits”). 

Keywords: discovery health, discovery, medical aid, medical scheme, south africa, unfair, bad, bad service, rip-off


Follow up.

I spoke to a representative who phoned me as a result of my HelloPeter post.  As usual, he explained their business model, and that I must read the terms and conditions, and that if I had not liked the “plan” that our family was on, that we could have simply gone for a hospital plan, or simply not signed up at all. He also explained that the “self payment gap” and the demand for refunds when you leave the protective fold of the discovery-blessed acolytes, are all a function of their needing to be a sustainable business so that they can cover people.

I explained the following:

1. You’re not listening. I am complaining. That means you’re doing something wrong, or are misleading me in such a way that my expectations are not being met. If I am complaining badly, it means that I am not perceiving value for money. If the customer complains, it really means you are doing something wrong. Own it and fix it. Here’s my other post. THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Get it into your heads.

2. We didn’t voluntarily sign up with Discovery. We’d heard enough bad press about them already to not want to. It was part of mandatory “group benefits” which one received on getting a job. Either job plus discovery, or no job plus no discovery. Yes, technically we did have a choice. But that’s also like a choice between “starve to death” or “be irritated intensely and do not starve to death”, which isn’t a cool choice. You’re going to take “be irritated and don’t starve to death” every time. Ergo, from my point of view, no, we didn’t have a choice. The only reason we have so many people on discovery in this country is group benefits. I’ve yet to meet a satisfied customer and I have oooh about 700 people in my phone? I dunno, small sample size I guess.

3. I said that Medscheme did not have this convoluted model, and making the model convoluted is not so as to add value and tiers of cover, but rather is to make it too hard to understand the catches and fineprint so that you can refuse to cover us on a whim. 

4. I asked him if he read software license agreements on installing software. He admitted he didn’t. I said frankly, we had no choice to sign up, so you could put whatever you like in your agreement - that you won’t in fact cover us, that you will demand money when we leave, that you will own my car - you can put anything you like and I have to sign it because I need a job. He responded that HR at the company would let us opt out or change the cover plan. That’s probably true. (The latter). We could have just gone to a hospital plan. But we already had that. And, I pointed out, I was under the impression that discovery was in fact a medical aid and would in fact cover us for more than hospital, but as it turns out, they don’t really. I pointed out that we wanted more than a hospital plan, but less than an “Executive” plan which was not affordable. I pointed out that as far as I understood it, the R 4000 or so per month was actually covering us.

We said that we would agree to disagree. 


Here’s their written response from HelloPeter. As you can see from the response, they’re not addressing the key complaints, being that the plans are obscure/obfuscated, and that it is illegal to threaten someone instantly with financial blacklisting when they leave your “scheme”, and, that you’re supposed to notify people a few times before threatening them, and, that they do not understand the concept of customer service. I hope the potential future losses of revenue from our family are worth it, we will not sign up with you again. 


As discussed, the Medical Savings Account (MSA) is a fixed amount that Discovery Health gives you at the beginning of the year for day-to-day medical expenses. You pay this amount back to us in 12 equal monthly instalments but, if necessary, you are free to use the whole amount at the beginning of the year to pay for valid medical expenses. The 12 instalments form part of your monthly contribution.

If you leave the Discovery Health Medical Scheme part-way through the year, we calculate how much of the MSA you have used and how much you have contributed to it. If you have used more from the account than what you have paid into the account, then you will need to pay the difference to us.
I confirmed the details on how your plan is structured.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

This is sheer genius.

One weird trick to stop weird tips from coming up in your browser. Hallelujah.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Do not buy any games from Outfit 7 (Talking Tom etc)

Every time you buy the full version to get rid of adverts, and it “upgrades” the software (automatically), it reinstates adverts, particularly for other apps, like their kittens or birds or whatever. The trouble with this is that you then have your toddler trying to download and install the next animal (that does the same things, basically), and as a result, you end up with a screaming frustrated toddler and you have to sit there and keep hitting ‘cancel’ and you have to turn off in-app purchases which makes it come up with password requests all the time… especially when they hit the ‘extra’ features like farts, etc.

DO NOT BUY. EVER. And do not waste your money paying for the “ad-free” version… it is NEVER ad-free.


keywords: bad, scam, ripoff, no parental controls, not ad free, freemium, pay to play

Saturday, 9 May 2015

on mayweather or whatever his name is not wanting to give money to charity

 I don't think he "earned" it. I think he got a huge amount of money for having whatever brains he had left beaten out, for the entertainment of some crass people who find it entertaining... and all the money came from advertisers who paid to place their adverts in the vicinity so that all the crass people watching it could subliminally take in the "value" of the adverts. THAT is why he got money... because violence and beating someone draws a crowd. He didn't *actually* earn it.

Friday, 8 May 2015

is philosophy useless?

A lot of people ask me what the point of philosophy is, and whether it’s useless. So, let’s start with a short list of historical philosophers and natural philosophers (what people who generally pursued philosophy of nature used to be called; we now call them scientists). You might have heard of some of them, alongside their contributions to modern life: ...

Philosophers contributions numbers

Monday, 20 April 2015

why I am sympathetic to the pro-life people.

The counter-argument about 'right to bodily integrity' misses a whole bunch of nuances. This post is not researched, it’s just “off the top of my head”.

Problem 1. The concept of human rights is a deontological argument akin to the Ten Commandments. It doesn't state why and on what authority, and for what ultimate end, and on what grounds, human rights even exist. They "just are". While I do not want to say that I disagree with them in content, I disagree with them in form and presentation. For a simple example, compare the right to property vs the right to not starve. Communism, as espoused by the EFF, suggests that the right to not starve trumps the right to property. Indeed, the communist manifesto (as in the one by Marx and Engels) actually states that we must make "despotic inroads" into property rights. So it's not obvious that human rights systems are the best. Moreover, I like to distinguish between provisive rights and defensive rights. The DA stands for defensive rights, e.g. the right of a woman to her bodily integrity, the right of an Afrikaans farmer to keep his 100 ha farm, etc. The EFF stands for the rights of the poor (provisive rights: that if you do not have something it will be provided to you).

Problem 2. It is a false dichotomy. Look. Just because someone has the right to bodily integrity, it does not in fact automatically trump everything else. Sorry for the Reductio ad Hitlerum but - consider the case where you can assassinate Hitler and thereby prevent WWII and 60 million deaths. Would you do it, or would his right to life trump the other 60 million? Is his bodily integrity that sacred? You see, there's no clear easy line over which bodily integrity trumps. Remember the "Beethoven" thought experiment. Poor family, lots of kids, an inconvenient 9th or whatever child is going to be born, and deaf to boot. Abort? Most pro-abortionists say 'yes', and then one pulls the trump card, well, you just aborted Beethoven. You see, it's not that cut and dried.

Problem 3. Socioeconomic. Poorer women will get backstreet jobs, especially in countries that frown upon it legally or for religious reasons, with the result that they're more likely to get horrid infections, death, or failed attempts at the cost of their sexual health (eg mutilation) to no good reason. There's a pro/con analysis to be done here. Obviously in South Africa this isn't an issue, but it is, in catholic and muslim countries (or basically any theocratic-leaning state), which are the majority (populationwise if you add them up). So it's not a simplistic question of "don't you tread on my rights", it's a question of "how, when and where", and will you be worse off afterwards?

I have however heard from a very reliable source (a statistician who works with epidemiology and the relationship between crime, life quality, life expectancy, etc etc)... that in countries, provinces and states which allow abortion, crime is lower. In effect, he said, they're aborting future criminals, since it's largely poorer women who can't afford birth control, and therefore, are unable to effectively raise well adapted citizens. I find this discussion disturbing but I can see that how it is supposed to work. However, I find it hard to not see this as coextensive with giving a death sentence for future potential crimes — which strikes me as rather brutal. Put it another way: it’s pre-emptively killing poor people just in case they commit crimes. Ethically I find that problematic. The excuse, of course, is that it's not a punishment meted out for actions yet to be performed, like precrime in Minority Report, but merely that there's a correlation between legal abortion and lower crime rates (i.e. it's not a causal or moral imperative, just a correlation).

Problem 4. A related problem to point 1. If moral skepticism, which I am sympathetic to, is plausible, that is, that the moral amounts to no more than biological harm, it seems to me that if moral = biological prosperity, and evil = biological harm, then it follows that abortion is evil. Think of all the cases of 'evil'; they all fall under biological harm: rape, murder, armed robbery, assault, etc., all involve someone getting physically hurt. In the case of abortion, like carnivory, some small creature is destroyed for convenience. I think that if it is true that 'evil' amounts to biological harm, plus a prohibition against that, then it follows that abortion is evil. However, since I am in fact a moral skeptic, I don't think there's such a thing as good and evil only biological harm and biological prosperity. As such, I think it is debatably justifiable to abort IFF the potential child will face a life of misery: to wit:

if it is guaranteed by empirical testing to be mentally disabled or physically disabled and therefore have a long difficult life and be denied a prosperous normal life, but rather face one of great suffering (the antinatalist position);

if it is a conjoined twin and unlikely to be separable postpartum, for the same reasons as above;

if it is the result of a rape and therefore will be stigmatised and abused by its parents and family;

if it is the result of incest and will therefore have genetic diseases.

The trouble with these types of justification is that there's a morally problematic way to describe them: Eugenicist. Hitler was also in favour of eugenics. Does this mean that eugenics are wrong? That's a separate debate, but one of the reasons often given by the pro-abortion lobby is that eugenic reasons can trump the foetus' right to life as well. So— if you are in favour of allowing abortion, do you support eugenics, antinatalism, or just a woman's rights? I think you have to commit to one of these positions because you can only justify abortion with one of these positions.

Naturally, I have the privilege of being in a long-term relationship, so my opinions here are moot. I recognise that possibly few women are in a situation where they can rely on support. Hence I do not pass judgment on women who make this decision. I have merely, above, given some of my reasons why I think the "right to life" vs "right to bodily integrity" is an unsophisticated argument.

Saturday, 18 April 2015


In response to the antinatalists, e.g. Benatar, Shiffrin (I’ve not given this any research, this is just off the top of my head), I’d like to propose pronatalism, that is, that you ought to have children.

Antinatalism is the view that giving birth is always wrong as you are imposing/forcing a lifetime of suffering on a new being which would not have suffered had it not been born. Strong versions of antinatalism argue that one should in fact abort all pregnancies to prevent this harm.

Pronatalism objects:

1. If humans are the only beings of great moral worth that we know of (e.g. greater than whales, dogs, chimps), it follows that by creating more humans we are increasing the moral value of earth, and therefore the overall moral goodness in the universe;

2. Statistically I think it is false. Only persons in third world conditions suffer more than they enjoy life; claiming otherwise is hyperbole and supports at most the problem of evil against theism; it does not support the view that we should pre-emptively kill foetuses to prevent them being born, or always use contraceptives.

3. Antinatalism is coextensive with genocide, or amounts at least to pre-emptive genocide.

4. Each human generally has great potential to become something great and thereby improve life on earth. Granted, most humans are wasteful and damage the environment. However, were we to properly create education systems and give such education to all persons, we could create billions of benevolent beings that improve life on earth. Pre-emptively killing persons prevents this possible great good.

5. Antinatalism entails the extinction of all sentient animal species. Since all animals of any moral value are also sentient animals, e.g. mammals, antinatalism entails that to prevent animals suffering (as they will), we should make all animals extinct, or at least prevent their giving birth by making all animals sterile. This is absurd. Antinatalism could even be taken to be arguing that only plants should exist.

6. It may not be the case that suffering and evil are the same thing, and therefore, that even if evil ought to not be done, it does not follow that suffering ought to not be experienced (i.e. I reject utilitarianism). For example, the suffering of a burn on a hot stove is a necessary evil without which we would not survive, and therefore it promotes our pleasure.

7. It does not seem true to me that evil and good, and suffering and pleasure, are commensurable. I do not believe, for example, that any suffering I have experienced outweighs the pleasure I get from my child greeting me. And yes, I have suffered far worse than you may care to imagine; I consider all my past sufferings to be naught by comparison.

8. I do not see that antinatalism can account for sadomasochism. I believe some people genuinely derive pleasure from pain, and therefore that his account of suffering, pleasure, good and evil, do not gel with reality. They are naïve models.

9. I do not accept the additive or Benthamite model of utilitarianism, that is, that we can tally our suffering, tally our pleasures, and say that the bottom line is that all lives are more suffering than pleasure. Benatar adduces scientific evidence that we overlook just how much we suffer, but I do not believe this can work unless we accept a Benthamite additive model.

10. Whilst this contradicts (1) and 3) above, I am a moral skeptic. I do not see that suffering entails that we ought to not exist, and that pleasure entails that we ought to exist. Our existence is a brute fact of biology and evolution, as are our persistent attempts to stay alive despite suffering. “Ought” does not enter into it. If anything, for evolutionary reasons, we ought to be able to suffer. Therefore, since, as argued above, suffering promotes our survival, suffering is not evil, but a necessary side effect of being alive, and part of the evolutionary process.

11. Benatar’s argument requires conclusive or gnostic atheism, given the drastic nature of his recommendations/views. If you’re going to abort every pregnancy on the grounds that the child’s life will be mostly suffering, you need to first establish that the suffering is not for example God’s way of testing the childs’ worthiness of heaven, or that God did not give you the capacity or pregnancy itself with a divine inscrutible purpose. Just giving a low probability to theism won’t do; Benatar has to refute theism, and show that there is no heaven, because of the severity of his exhortations.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

open letter to Film and Publications Board on censoring the internet in South Africa

I’ve read the above regulations. And while I can see that the interests of the children are at heart, speaking as a parent myself, I must say I think you are wasting your time and are merely going to kick up a huge amount of opposition to this legislation.
I am an ICT expert with 30 years’ experience. 

The first and most obvious problem is most of the content is foreign, so any south african laws cannot be enforced; they’ll just ignore your demands for “assessment”.

Let me tell you why you cannot enforce this and will not succeed, and will end up annoying everyone rather than achieving your goal.
1. Youtube. I’ve seen figures between 120 million and 500 billion as the quantity of videos. In either case, it is not possible in a human lifetime for anyone to watch all of those to decide which have failed to pass acceptable standards of the FPB. In particular, many videos are no longer maintained by their authors, nor will their authors yield to demands to submit the material for review by FPB. Nor will you have the man-hours available, even if you hire the entire adult population of our country, to police, view or censor the videos. There is nothing you can do, short of blocking youtube as North Korea, Iran, and other similar states do.
2. Bittorrent. You cannot really stop Bittorrent. It uses randomised TCP/IP port numbers, meaning that you’d have to block all TCP/IP ports above the reserved ports to stop it. If you do this, however, web responses won’t come through and the web will stop working, since the reply to a TCP/IP request from a web browser comes in on a non-reserved port, usually in the 20000s, which is the same port range Bittorrent uses. Furthermore, Bittorrent contains encrypted portions of files, so for any packet of Bittorrent data, you cannot tell what it contains; it could be something completely legitimate, e.g. a Linux distro.
3. Games. Apple’s App Store contains over 260 000 games. Are you going to individually contact all those game developers and demand that they submit to your review? Do you have the manpower to review that many games? Suppose a person reviews 1 game every 10 minutes. Suppose they take a 1-hour lunch break, and work 7 hours a day. That means they can review 42 games per day. You will need a staff of about 6200 to review all the app store games in one day. If you want to do it within one year, you will need about 17 staff members just for that. Assuming an annual salary of R 300 000 each, your salary budget per month just to check existing games will be R 5 m. However, since the app store has existed for about 7 years, this means that about 37000 games are added per annum - so you will need an additional person per month just to keep up with the new games coming in (assuming that it’s not exponential, i.e. that the number of games is not doubling each year, which it may well be… i.e.:
app store year 1: 4062
app store year 2: 8 125
app store year 3: 16 250
app store year 4: 32 500
app store year 5: 65 000
app store year 6: 130 000 
app store year 7: 260 000
app store year 8: 520 000
as you can see from the above figures, it’s quite plausible that it might be doubling every year. In which case, you’ll need 34 staff members next year, and then 68 the year after that, and then 136 the year after, etc.
Of course, you CAN just tell Apple and Google to not allow game access to South Africa unless developers explicitly approach you themselves to have their games reviewed. Since the middle class market for mobile app games in this country can’t be more than about 2m people, and assuming that only 10% have iPhones, that means that about 200 000 people will be irritated by your legislation because most apple developers won’t bother (the market is too small to care). I don’t think you want to deal with 200 000 angry phone calls.
4. Videos generated by end-users, e.g. selfies, amateur porn, etc. There’s still nothing to stop people making their own videos within South Africa and sharing them. You cannot stop this, or censor it. Almost every cellphone above a basic Nokia can do this. Are you going to remunerate Vodacom, MTN, et al., to view EVERY video and censor it if it contains porn content? You can’t tell without eyeballing it, and again, that imposes a human labour burden on the ISPs. 
5. There are MANY other ways to share files without Bittorrent, e.g. Wetransfer, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. You will have to block all cloud services, again, irritating your entire taxpayer group.
6. Proxying. Anyone who has any clue about using a computer will figure out that you simply need to route your internet through a foreign proxy server, and thereby anonymitize their data, and prevent it from being possible to tell what protocol and what content is being shared.
7. You will push hosting to overseas servers which are in fact cheaper, and damage the south african ISP industry, since people will no longer be able to host adult content inside south africa without first incurring costs to FPB. This is an easy move for people to make, requires that one doesn’t even leave one’s chair, and requires that one doesn’t expose one’s content to FPB for review. It’s just a matter of copying files to a new ISP and changing DNS. This is what local pornographers will do. You will not prevent it.
I predict your legislation will fail and will be unpoliceable due to the sheer volume of data on internet.
I believe this legislation is naive and is unconstitutional in terms of the right to privacy.
I propose, instead, that FPB offers training courses for teachers and for parents on how to recognise use of online porn in children, and where children are vulnerable to stalkers, and similar, and educate parents and teachers in how to prevent it, e.g. by regularly changing their wifi password, regularly inspecting their children’s phones, etc. If you actually want to make some money out of this problem, rather charge for training courses. I am sure many parents ARE concerned about their children accessing porn, but just do not know how to stop it.

Friday, 27 March 2015

objective essay assessment

Teachers often argue that it is impossible to objectively assess an essay and that it is a subjective exercise.

I venture that this is false, and provide a rubric.

1. Give 30% for structure. If the essay has an introduction, that outlines what will be done, e.g. listing the headings of the essay and a short summary of each heading, that is 5%. The main body: give 20%: they must give the facts of a position accurately in a sensible, readable order (exposition section). Then they must give the facts of a position which opposes the first position in a sensible, readable order (criticism section) (10% each). Then they must give a summary or conclusion (10%) which more or less repeats the introduction and says what was achieved in the same order. 

2. Tick (checkmark) everything that is a correct factual statement or a good argument. Arguments with more than one step must get more than one tick.

3. Remove marks for bad grammar, spelling, misquoting or plagiarism: I suggest 1 mark for each spelling, grammar error, and 2 marks for each misquote or failure to put quotemarks. 

4. Give up to 10% for good referencing: 5% if the student regularly references their paragraphs accurately, and 5% for a good bibliography.

If you add these up, you’ll see that structure and form is 40%, meaning that you can give at most 60 tickmarks. 

php 7 nightmare

OK so Centos 6 insists on installing php 5.3 and even if you download other RPMs and install them, they do not replace the existing 5.3 whic...