04 August 2021

Some things to perhaps consider moving forward:

(some obvious, some not-so-much)
  • The unvaccinated can become infected, may spread SARS-CoV-2, and are at increased risk of long-haul COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization, and/or death.

  • Getting vaccinated before becoming infected will lessen the impact of COVID-19 on your health.

  • Someone with sterilizing immunity can get re-infected, but likely will not build-up enough of a viral load to infect others.

  • Contracting COVID-19 (or one of it's variants) seems to confer sterilizing immunity.

  • Traditional vaccines confer sterilizing immunity.

  • The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines (as currently formulated) may not confer sterilizing immunity against the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

  • Distancing and mask wearing reduce the chance that the infected will spread SARS-CoV-2.

  • Until SARS-CoV-2 is extinct, distancing and mask wearing make sense (especially for the infected when around the vulnerable).

  • Many believe we are on course to drive SARS-CoV-2 to extinction.

  • As long as there are pathways for the virus to follow that do not end in sterilizing immunity, SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay (and eventually just about everyone will become infected).

  • Vaccinating and infecting nearly everyone seems our most likely path to drive SARS-CoV-2 to extinction.

08 February 2021

The value of money is a story people tell each other

Coins are worth what people think they are worth.

In the world of crypto:  Bitcoin (BTC) is the big kahuna -- the original digital currency that is probably not going away.  It proves you can create scarcity in the digital realm so (like gold) it has value that is perceived to grow over time (as the world supply is limited .. or even eventually shrinks).

Ethereum (ETH) is a blockchain of "Smart Contracts" .. essentially, instead of keeping track of balances on a ledger (like the bitcoin blockchain does) it stores code.  It's a perpetual computer that runs its programs distributed across the internet.  This makes it a great platform for creating your own altcoin (and that's what many have done).  So, as enthusiasm for crypto booms, ether booms.

Altcoins have some differentiator that gives them unique value in the marketplace.  For example, a Bitcoin transaction can take 10 minutes or more to confirm.  So, Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP) came along to assume risk and provide near instantaneous confirmations on transactions.  They're banking that people would rather pay for their hotdogs with a crypto that doesn't require you to hang about at the cash register for 10+ minutes.  The problem I see with these coins is:  we're not quite yet in a crypto-transactional economy.  These coins are a few years ahead of their time; because, people are still using dollars to buy their hotdogs.

And that brings us to Dogecoin (DOGE) -- which is a joke -- literally.  It started as a prank on 4chan, but, guess what:  People seem to like it.  It has become a common way to "tip" people on the internet (because, initially, it was nearly free) .. so .. it was akin to "internet points".  Then a funny thing happened:  it became a sorta measure of internet culture.  Elon Musk was probably the first to realize this and takes the opportunity to pronounce it as his "favorite crypto" a couple of times a year.  And guess what:  it pops every time he does that.  It also pops when stuff like the GameStop thing happen.  So -- though it may not have any fundamental value, I think what's going on here is:  it has cultural value.  And, in its own way:  Dogecoin is the big kahuna in that game.

(and that's my two-satoshis)

17 July 2020

My Golden Rules of Social Media Interaction

#1) Don't Be Played
Think before you post; and consider whether you are trying to inform or inflame. If the latter, then you're likely doing the bidding of another (and should not proceed).
#2) Let Others Have The Final Word

-o- "The Media" is manipulating you
-o- 4chan is manipulating you

08 November 2019

Don't Be Played

From 2014, but worth a repost as a reminder of the forces at play to divide us. Russia did not hack our elections in 2016 (they've hacked our electorate)

21 October 2019

We're Measuring Wrong

Andrew Yang believes we're measuring wrong.

By focusing exclusively on GDP, we've put ourselves in a situation where, for example, automation can increase, the labor participation rate goes down and GDP says "it's all good".

So, Yang would create an "American Scorecard" made of many components /in addition/ to GDP.  By paying attention to the sum-total of these measures, we set our society on a healthier growth path.

The scorecard would reflect:

-o- GDP
-o- Health and Life Expectancy
-o- Mental Health
-o- Substance Abuse and Deaths of Despair
-o- Childhood Success Rates
-o- Average Income and Affordability
-o- Environmental Quality
-o- Retirement Savings
-o- Labor Force Participation and Engagement
-o- Infrastructure
-o- Homelessness

29 July 2018

Lest, Instead of Warming, It Should Consume

In 1795, George Washington sent Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a treaty with the British. However, neither the Democratic-Republican Party nor the Federalist Party were pleased by The Jay Treaty. The intent of the treaty was to tie up loose ends with Great Britain such as the resolution of financial debts leftover from the Revolution, the removal of British troops from forts on the western frontier, and the normalization of trade relations with Great Britain.
When Alexander Hamilton appeared at a meeting in his home state of New York to explain the benefits of the treaty, crowds hissed and booed and some even threw stones at the Secretary of the Treasury. Vehement outcry swept the country from the Democratic-Republican media outlets. Popular graffiti in Massachusetts reflected some of the anti-Federalist sentiment:
“Damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won’t damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won’t stay up all night damning John Jay!”
From George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796:
One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. 
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty. 
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

25 March 2017

True Solutions We Won't Even Consider

Single Payer Healthcare (https://goo.gl/2AFNAN), Universal Basic Income (https://goo.gl/jCLyFD), The Fair Tax (https://goo.gl/5jxqC9), and Fair Representation (https://goo.gl/WcwfJv) #ThereYouGo #ProblemsSolved

[ FURTHER READING: http://bit.ly/2KO32Uo ]

28 November 2015

The Blockchain

I suddenly realized that the Bitcoin network (which folks are trusting to store billions of dollars of current value) operates with an element of "security through obscurity".  The address-space is a 160-bit number.  That's on the magnitude of quindecillions.

So, for one thing, this -> http://youtu.be/THt99IzFFRE.  There are simply so many addresses available, it's impossible to guess the addresses that are being used.

It's a bit mind-boggling -- like -> http://youtu.be/SLIvwtIuC3Y

Anyways ... all transactions on this network are stored in a public ledger called the Blockchain.  Blocks of transactions are bundled-up and added to this Blockchain every 10 minutes orso (it's now over 50GB) and every miner has a copy.  This guy does a pretty good job summing up mining -> http://youtu.be/UrrBcaXuaq8

This distributed, blockchain way of doing things (not necessarily the Bitcoin blockchain in particular) .. it's a new paradigm.  And it's being applied in a variety of interesting ways (solving some of the toughest problems inherent in our existing approaches).  Problems of scale, trust, reliability -- they are not problems in the context of this new architecture.  And all because of big hairy numbers.

Now -- this all depends on having a *really good* random number generator.  And once the desktop quantum computer is invented -- and some snot-nosed gamer in his Mom's basement cracks the math -- well, then all bets are probably off  ;-)

If you want to go down the rabbit-hole, I recommend this lecture to a bunch of E.E. students at Stanford.  It's about a next-gen protocol framework for the web (based on this more distributed / decentralized way of thinking) -- a little over an hour long, but worth it IMHO -- (a bit like a peek into the future)

Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS)
Stanford Seminar - Juan Benet of Protocol Labs

15 December 2013

Seven States

Arkansas (Article 19, Section 1): "No person that denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court."
Maryland (Article 37): "That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution."
Mississippi (Article 14, Section 245): "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state."
North Carolina (Article 6, Section 8): "The following persons shall be disqualified from office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."
South Carolina (Article 17, Section 4): "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
Tennessee (Article 9, Section 2): "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."
Texas (Article 1, Section 4): "No religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."

12 December 2013