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Showing posts from 2014

Political Philosophies & the Gospel

The following is an account of a parable that I thought of recently.
The Hospital, the Patients and the Nurses
There is a hospital with sickly and dying patients. There are nurses running around and caring for the patients, in every way they can, as best as they can. The prognosis of death is certain -- the patients know it and so do the nurses. However, the nurses are animated and intense and intentional in their activity. For they have heard a rumor -- that a doctor who has the cure is on his way. And, when he arrives, all will be well with the patients....and, with themselves as well?!?! For, on closer inspection, one learns that the nurses were themselves patients in this hospital. They still carry with them the marks of the same wasting disease. However, at some point, they believed in the rumor and in the hope it afforded, they found sufficient energy to get up, join the nurses and continue the work of caring for the patients and telling them of the rumor. They spend their days …

On God's Sovereignty and Providence and on the origins and nature of evil

The sermon today was based on a passage from Acts 4, esp. v 24 - 31 (copied below), that brought to the fore the age old question,
 "If God is good and powerful, what is evil, where does it come from and why does it exist and must it, necessarily, be?".

Acts 4 : 24 - 31 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,     and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves,     and the rulers were gathered together,     against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, …

2016 GOP Dream Team -- a little of bit of this, a little bit of that

The current GOP primary field is exciting and diverse, with respect to life experience, cultural/regional background and ideology:
Rand Paul (opthalmologist, Presbyterian, Libertarian)Ted Cruz (lawyer, Southern Baptist, Tea Party, Cuban-Canadian)Ben Carson (neurosurgeon, Seventh Day Adventist, Constitutional Conservative, Detroit, MI)Allen West (US Army Lt. Col. retd., Tea Party, Georgia)Mitt Romney (Private equity/venture capital, Mormon, Moderate, Michigan)Jeb Bush (Real estate, Roman Catholic, Moderate, Texan)Chris Christie (Lawyer, Roman Catholic, Moderate, New Jersey)Scott Walker (Politico, Nondenominational Evangelical, Moderate)Nikki Haley (Accounting, Methodism, Indian-American from South Carolina)Bobby Jindal (Roman Catholic, Indian-American from Louisiana)Mike Huckabee (pastor, Southern Baptist, Arkansas)Mike Pence (Attorney, Evangelical, Indiana)Rick Perry (Air Force capt., Nondenominational Evangelical, Texas)Susana Martinez (Attorney, Roman Catholic, Mexican-American from…

Two factions of the Democratic party

This is my crude and evolving understanding of two factions within the Democratic party:

old corrupt machine politicos
Chicago, New York and the Southbelieve in absolutely nothingeasily switch between leftist and moderate agendaswill say anything to get electedable campaignersuses classism, racism, sexism, etc. (i.e. "War on Women", "War on minorities", etc.) to keep the electorate dividedSome major sub-factions: Unions, Jewish lobbyExamples: Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Elijah Cummings

idealistic progressive left
the West Coastradical leftist technocrats & community organizersseeking to push their agendas, either by winning elections, or otherwise (judicial activism, executive orders, municipal ordinance and statute, etc.)truly believe that classism, racism, sexism, etc. are real (i.e. believe in "War on Women", "War on minorities", etc.) and works to end themSome major sub-factions: greens, civil libertariansExamples: Cory Booker, Barack Obam…

Wisdom from Hoffman, Schmidt, Thiel, Asimov and others -- a masterclass in building great teams and great products

Excerpts (with some annotations) from "Competition Is For Losers" by Peter Thiel

Source : http://online.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-losers-1410535536
The above article by Peter Thiel is the best business + economics education I have ever received or can ever conceive of receiving. Something about "anti-trust" always rubbed me the wrong way -- now I know what!! In the following, I organize excerpts from his article into named sections and summarize, emphasize and/or annotate (minimally) along the way. ________________________
CAPTURING VS. CREATING VALUE
Creating value isn't enough—you also need to capture some of the value you create.
Airlines create value but run razor-thin margins and are unable to capture the value they create vs. Google creates far less value but is able to capture most of it.
MONOPOLY VS. PERFECT COMPETITION
Competition is idealized and monopoly is abhorred -- in academia and among the general public. 
"Americans mythologize competition and credit it with saving us from socialist bread lines. Actually, ca…

indices of liberty

++ Indices Of Liberty ++

A view of economic, journalistic, political and civil freedoms and tax competitiveness around the world, from various sources. (The top 53 countries (ordered by rank) from the first three indices and notable countries from the last index are shown.)


Sources

[EFW2013] Economic Freedom of the World, Fraser Institute & CATO Institute, http://www.freetheworld.com/2013/EFW2013-complete.pdf

[IEF2014] Index of Economic Freedom, 2014, Heritage & WSJ, http://www.heritage.org/index/

[WPF2014] World Press Freedom Index, 2014, Reporters Without Borders, http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php

[FH2014] Freedom in the World, 2014, Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2014#.U3v4mvldWpA

[TF2014] International Tax Competitiveness Index, 2014, Tax Foundation, http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/TaxFoundation_ITCI_2014_0.pdf

#liberty#tlot

the statist cycle

We often talk of the business enterprise and the business cycle. Interestingly, the dominant political system in most developed economies may also be regarded as a cyclic enterprise. It can properly be called the statist cycle. The statist nature of these governments is the only constant, regardless of whether the particular one in question is progressive (i.e. left-wing) or conservative (i.e. right-wing), differing only in their particular emphases. It is the biased and prejudiced opinion of this author that left-wing governments are more statist than right-wing ones (although, this may be an insignificant difference in degree and not of kind, and, hence, caveat lector).
Without further ado,.....
The statist cycle
1. identify a socio-economic "problem" (real or imaginary)
2. spend money to create a new bureaucracy agency or program to fix said problem
3. (optionally, raise taxes to fund said program, or, preferably, go into debt)
4. consolidate more power (transfer agen…

Private philanthropy is beautiful!

Financial flow is defined as the sum of :
(a) private flows : the flow of private capital + private philanthropy + private remittances, and
(b) state flows : i.e. ODA (governmental/official development assistance)

In 2011, total financial flow from developed economies to developing economies was $577 BOf this, 80% ($461 B) was private flowOf this, total private philanthropy was 13% ($59 B)The total flow from the US alone was $278.5 B Of this, about 90% ($251 B) was private flowOf this, total private philanthropy was 15.5% ($39 B)

Reference:
[Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances, 2013]



A note on think tanks

On libertarian law & legal systems (a series by Duncan Whitmore)

This post contains some scribbled notes and quotes from my reading of Duncan Whitmore's excellent series of articles on libertarian law & legal systems.

Part 1 -- Foundations
the question of liability
legal positivism vs. natural law
law is violently enforceable rule to protect one's life and property against aggression
Part 2 -- self-ownership & original appropriation
who are legal persons with rights & obligations? answer: demonstrated rational action implies self-ownership and, therefore, implies legal personhood
""What each person appears to be able to enjoy in contemporary legal systems is not self-ownership and the right to private property; instead, it is a concoction of artificial and invented rights and obligations that are bracketed under the term human rights. Human rights, however, are never termed in such a way as to confer their full, irrevocable benefit upon each individual human; rather they are a buffet-selection of open-ended and often co…

voting with your dollars

Two useful and interesting resources are available for those interested in expressing the political views through their patronage (or, lack thereof) of businesses based on their political leanings:
http://www.goodguide.com/contributionshttp://shopyourpolitics.com/ This approach may excite folks on either side of the political aisle, esp., in an economy that is largely a consumer-driven one. Admittedly, some of the data may be outdated.

2ndVote is an app that lets consumers learn about the political values and leanings of companies.

In this article, we have an updated list of the companies that donate to Planned Parenthood.

FIFA re-organization

The following is a suggestion for the re-organization of FIFA and the re-allotment of World Cup qualifying spots.

1. Combine CONCACAF & Oceania
   - move Australia into this group from AFC

2. Move all Arab countries from Asia and Africa into a new group.
   - UAFA : an existing body that provides the rudiments of such an organization

3. Qualifying spots:
   - 4 for CONCACAF + Oceania
   - 3 for AFC
   - 3 for UAFA
   - 4 for CAF
   - 4.5 for CONMEBOL
   - 13.5 for UEFA

In a related post, an alternative for the World Cup Finals draw is presented.

the World Cup draw -- an alternative proposal

The FIFA World Cup seeding and draw system has consistently produced groups of death and groups comprised mainly of teams that fail to invoke passion or imagination from fans around the world, except perhaps for such teams' own fans. The latest edition is no exception -- and may even be the worst ever on this measure. An outline of the draw system can be seen here. We have one group which contains Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras and another consisting of Russia, Algeria and South Korea!! And, on top of this, we have at least three, if not four or more, groups of death. Depending on one's perspective, esp. given the recent rise of African powerhouses, all of the rest of the groups may even be considered Groups of Death!! This is a disservice to football fans around the world, not to mention the skilled and enterprising teams that worked hard to get here.
To address this, I propose a simplified draw system : Randomize Pot 1 and assign to GroupsAssign remaining Pots to Groups s…

Migrating from MS SQL Server to MongoDB

The following contains notes from various attempts at migrating 2.5GB of MS SQL Server data to MongoDB, on an 8 GB, quad-core, 64-bit Windows 7 Enterprise machine.
[TERMINATED] http://mssql2mongo.codeplex.com/ : Simple to use. Exponential slowdown observed in migration. For a total of the 50 million records spanning two tables, the following migration times were observed: 1 second for the first 100,000 records,  30 minutes for 1,000,000, 20 hours for 16 million (after which I terminated the process).[DID NOT WORK] http://rubydoc.info/gems/mongify/ : A ruby-based approach. Use Ruby 1.9.3 (tiny_tds dependency causes problems with Ruby 2.0). Install DevKit before installing the mongify gem. Also, use 'sqlserver' as the adapter in the .config file. Then, before running 'mongify check <config-file>', install the gems activerecord-sqlserver-adapter and tiny_tds. At this stage, it fails. 'mongify translation <config-file>' fails as well.[MODIFIED/WORKED!!]…

a great new society

The story of the human race consists of many threads of history woven together across time -- containing narratives of the birth, advance, regress, prosperity and extinction of various civilizations. Of these threads, the thread of government, or, in general, societal organization under a code of law, in its various forms, is uniquely interesting.
Diverse forms of government have existed among various peoples at various times. A sweeping view of history suggests a trend from absolutism to democracy, from centralized monarchies to decentralized representative forms. This is a good thing.
History bears witness to the endemic nature of corruption in government -- as innate, it seems, as the necessary depravity of the men and women who constitute it. At its best, perhaps realized nowhere except in myths and poetry, government is society's designated steward of justice. At its degenerate worst, it becomes the means and instrument of systemic oppression and grave evils.
The rapid progr…