Matthew Henry John Bartlett

+64 27 211 3455
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Friday 28 August, 02009

Making Google Gears work with Firefox 3.5.2

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:39 am

You can make Google Gears work with Firefox 3.5.2 by adding browsing to about:config and changing extensions.checkCompatibility to false (or adding it if it doesn’t already exist). Presumably Google will release a new version of Gears soon. I missed my offline Gmail. More info here

Sunday 26 July, 02009


by Matthew Bartlett @ 6:27 pm

I’m following a reformed chap’s ambivalent travels through Yoder’s Politics of Jesus (which you ought to read). He quotes Yoder thus:

In correlation with our sense of impossibility we tend to think of “apocalyptic” promises as pointing “off the map” of human experience, off the scale of time, in that they announce an end to history….Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom was unacceptable to most of his listeners not because they thought it could not happen but because they feared it might, and that it would bring down judgment on them.

Friday 10 July, 02009

JHY for the day

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:38 pm

John Howard Yoder’s book The Original Revolution arrived in the mail a few days ago, care of (the apparently a bit neglected & imho foolishly volunteer-staffed) goodbooks. Treat. Here’s a cracker quote from chapter 2, The Political Axioms of the Sermon on the Mount:

As the parallel statements in verse 45 and in Luke 6 make clear, we are asked to “resemble God” just at this one point: not in His omnipotence or His eternity or His impeccability, but simply in the undiscriminating or unconditional character of His love. This is not a fruit of long growth and maturation; it is not inconceivable or impossible. We can do it tomorrow if we believe. We can stop loving only the lovable, lending only to the reliable, giving only to the grateful, as soon as we grasp and are grasped by the unconditionality of the benevolence of God.

Monday 06 July, 02009

2020 emissions target consultation meeting

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:26 pm

First impressions report: Great meeting. Enthusiastic participation from heaps of speakers. There was a disconnect between the audience who appeared to overwhelmingly support a 40% emissions cut by 2020 (a la signon), and Nick Smith, who in response to a useful question from D (why can’t we have some shorter-term goals, say 2% per year?), said it will be hard enough to stop NZ emissions from further rising, let alone achieving the required substantial cuts. Smith wanted us to truthfully present to people what 40% would mean for our society. It’s not a tweak; it’s a shake-up. What’s needed now, I think, is some visioning (ick — for want of a better word): some sketching out of pathways to a low-carbon future. What do agriculture, transport and electricity generation look like in a 40%-reduced-CO2e NZ? Also needed is of course leadership at all levels, from John Key down. On the way home Eliza talked about Key’s needing to give some World War II-esq speeches — this is a massive challenge, we will need to pull together, sacrifice our comforts for a noble cause, etc. I admit that is hard to imagine. Here is what was on John Key’s mind this past week (the weather, sporting events, a feel-good trip around the Pacific):

More on this from Tim Jones.

Saturday 27 June, 02009

Money ritual

by Matthew Bartlett @ 3:06 pm

Charles Eisenstein:

Money is a system of magical talismans that are used ritualistically. A lot of things around money are ritualistic — signing a cheque is a ritual. What makes that slip of paper powerful? You have to use a ritual to make it powerful. Rituals in any society are what a society uses to perpetuate its stories. The story of the people, and many subsidiary stories. And these stories are what assign roles to people, and focus human activity.

Monday 08 June, 02009

Dear HP Compaq Notebook PCs Email Support

by Matthew Bartlett @ 11:21 pm

Please provide the exact problem description and any other information that can help HP assist you:

Nothing wrong with the laptop – I’m very happy with it in fact, and I’ve bought HP laptops on behalf of friends & family members as well. I came across this report last week, though, which is concerning me: ‘High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards‘. It alleges that some keyboards used in HP (among many other companies) computers have been produced by people working in very poor conditions for very low pay. Is the report accurate? Am I supporting awful injustice by buying HP computers?

Thanks for your time & consideration.


Monday 01 June, 02009

Mulled wine and expensive racism

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:43 pm

This mulled wine recipe worked well for me. I used two bottles of $8 Timara Cabernet Merlot, lemons rather than oranges, and a bit more sugar than the recipe calls for. The cinnamon quills are pretty expensive – about $6 worth – but apparently reusable.

This Al Jazeera item on anti-Indian racism trouble in Melbourne lists Australia’s top three export earners: coal, iron ore, and international students. Who knew?

Saturday 30 May, 02009

Jim Wallace, ex-commander of the Australaian SAS, on pacifism

by Matthew Bartlett @ 6:20 pm

From a CPX interview [21mb mp3]

Interviewer: Being a Christian in the army… Doesn’t Jesus tell us to turn the other cheek? How do you match those two things up?
Jim Wallace: It’s a question I’m asked often, you know, and I personally have no problem with it. One, because I actually became a Christian in my first year in the army, and certainly as Christians we believe you stay where God calls you, where he’s called you to himself, unless he calls you out of that. And he didn’t call me out of it for 32 years, very clearly. But the other thing was, I had a friend of mine, actually, who was a Christian, and became a Christian about the same time I did, in Duntroon. (more…)

Saturday 23 May, 02009

One thing you can do about climate change

by Matthew Bartlett @ 3:46 pm

is add you name to, which aims to get John Key to agree to 40% emissions cuts by 2020 at Copenhagen.

Friday 08 May, 02009

Stop trying to save the planet

by Matthew Bartlett @ 2:04 pm

From Erle Ellis’ Wired editorial ‘Stop Trying to Save the Planet’:

Postnaturalism is not about recycling your garbage, it is about making something good out of grandpa’s garbage and leaving the very best garbage for your grandchildren.

[via BEH]

Wednesday 06 May, 02009

Science is hard

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:57 pm

From a review by Cosma Shalizi of the aforementioned Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science

Let me try to sum up. On the one hand, we have a large number of true but commonplace ideas, especially about how simple rules can lead to complex outcomes, and about the virtues of toy models. On the other hand, we have a large mass of dubious speculations (many of them also unoriginal). We have, finally, a single new result of mathematical importance, which is not actually the author’s. Everything is presented as the inspired fruit of a lonely genius, delivering startling insights in isolation from a blinkered and philistine scientific community. We have been this way before.

I’m a bad egg for starting to read reviews before finishing the book. Perhaps Wolfy will be vindicated when Alpha goes live… perhaps.

Monday 04 May, 02009

MacKay on nuclear

by Matthew Bartlett @ 11:31 pm

Yet more from MacKay (p.161):

The mass of the fossil fuels consumed by “the average British person” is about 16 kg per day (4 kg of coal, 4 kg of oil, and 8 kg of gas). That means that every single day, an amount of fossil fuels with the same weight as 28 pints of milk is extracted from a hole in the ground, transported, processed, and burned somewhere on your behalf. The average Brit’s fossil fuel habit creates 11 tons per year of waste carbon dioxide; that’s 30 kg per day. In the previous chapter we raised the idea of capturing waste carbon dioxide, compressing it into solid or liquid form, and transporting it somewhere for disposal. Imagine that one person was responsible for capturing and dealing with all their own carbon dioxide waste. 30 kg per day of carbon dioxide is a substantial rucksack-full every day – the same weight as 53 pints of milk!
   In contrast, the amount of natural uranium required to provide the same amount of energy as 16 kg of fossil fuels, in a standard fission reactor,
is 2 grams; and the resulting waste weighs one quarter of a gram. (This 2g of uranium is not as small as one millionth of 16 kg per day, by the way, because today’s reactors burn up less than 1% of the uranium.) To deliver 2 grams of uranium per day, the miners at the uranium mine would have to deal with perhaps 200 g of ore per day.
   So the material streams flowing into and out of nuclear reactors are small, relative to fossil-fuel streams. “Small is beautiful,” but the fact that
the nuclear waste stream is small doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem; it’s just a “beautifully small” problem.

Sunday 26 April, 02009

Complexity propensity

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:14 pm

I’m reading Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science. I’m about one-fifth the way through this 1200-page tome. He has studied cellular automata and found that complexity can be generated by very simple rules — complexity that appears to ‘come from nowhere’. It feel consonant with Simon Conway Morris talking at the Faraday Institute about convergence in evolution. Convergence is evolution finding similar solutions to design problems in disparate organisms. Sonar in bats and dolphins, for instance, evolved independently (there is no common ancestor with sonar), but their implementations share many features. SCM says that that shouldn’t really be surprising – for any given design problem there may be only so many solutions. There are only a few different ways two-legged creatures could possibly walk, for instance. So he thinks that if you were to ‘rerun the tape’ of evolution, you’d get similar creatures emerging. One interesting implication of convergence is that it suggests there is a sort of structure built into the universe. To someone like me who grew up with six-day creationism, but has let it fall away, that is helpful — that structure, combined with the mysterious fecundity of the universe (its propensity to complexity, life, intelligence, self-awareness) hint at, suggest, or allude to a God ‘behind’ everything-that-is.

Thursday 16 April, 02009

Recommended book: Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David MacKay

by Matthew Bartlett @ 1:10 pm

He’s trying to get people to think (and talk) rationally, rather than emotionally, about energy consumption & production. He gives lots of useful rules of thumb for figuring out the possible contribution of various forms of energy generation. He’s fighting against the ‘every little bit counts’ mentality that is careful about turning off cellphone chargers but has nothing to say about (say) urban form. He’s trying to provide the mental tools for people to get a handle on their own consumption, the bigger context (in the UK at least), and confidence to decide between conflicting and confusing claims like these: “The UK has the best wind resources in Europe” (Sustainable Development Commission). “Wind farms will devastate the countryside pointlessly” (James Lovelock).

Get it for free here

Wednesday 15 April, 02009

Servants of divers species

by Matthew Bartlett @ 11:43 am

From David MacKay’s Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air:

One kilowatt-hour per day is roughly the power you could get from one human servant. The number of kilowatt-hours per day you use is thus the effective number of servants you have working for you.