Sunday, September 29, 2013

Money, Meaning, Choosing

You're going to need to apply not just the following professional skills — entrepreneurship; "networking," pluck and drive, strategic thinking, leadership, branding and marketing — but also the following human capacities: a stubborn refusal to obey the dictates of the status quo, an unwavering empathy, a healthy disrespect for the naysayers, the humility of the servant and the pride of the master artisan, a persevering sense of grace, a heaping spoonful of that most dangerously unpredictable of substances, love, and, finally, the unflinching belief in a better tomorrow that those have always had who dust their saddles off, dig their spurs in, and forge ahead into the great unknown. (source infra)
Making the Choice Between Money and Meaning - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review: " . . . There's only one good answer, and it's simple. Stop trading meaning for money. It's the worst trade you'll ever make. But the truth is, you and I are encouraged to make the worst trade in the world from the second we're socialized — from school "counselors" who exhort us to settle for the safe . . ." (read more at  link above)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Risks of Conforming

31 Things I’d Have Told Myself Before College — Architecting A Life — Medium: "But nobody ever talks about the risks of conforming: boredom (the worst of tortures), an uninteresting narrative (you’ll never land your dream job), regret (we don’t regret the things we do; we regret the things we don’t do), a long and frustrated journey through the rest of your life (stemming from a lack of self-awareness). The “road less traveled” is often also the path of least resistance because it’s not a rat race."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Government Auditors, Early Tale of the Internet

An Early Tale of the Internet - ". . . SRI International, where I was the director of the AI Center, was periodically visited by U.S. government auditors. One day I got a call from an internal contracts administrator telling me to expect such a visit– in other words, I was supposed to be on my best behavior. The government auditor soon appeared in my office, armed with a no-nonsense demeanor and a bulging briefcase. He pulled up a chair, pulled a file from his briefcase, and without preamble said in an authoritarian tone of voice, “Dr. Hart, it says here that you’ve received 2,493,786,916 packets of bits. Is that correct?” I certainly hadn’t expected that question, but I was on my best behavior, so I politely replied, “Well, I’m not sure of the exact number, but that sounds about right.” He made a check mark on his file. He then asked, “Were adequate procedures set up to inspect the condition of these incoming packets?” I was starting to get an inkling of where this was going. I thought there must be some error-detecting codes somewhere in the communication path, so I simply answered “Yes”. A second check mark.. . . . At this point I was struggling to keep a straight face, but I truthfully answered, “No sir, there was no tarnish or corrosion on any of the packets we received.” One more check mark. . . . He made a final check mark, stuffed the file back into his briefcase, thanked me and left. You can’t make this stuff up." (more at link above)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prisons, Children, America

Prison Photography: A Memory Divided | "This month, Youth Today features an essay by Prison Photography writer and editor Pete Brook. Brook highlights three photographers and their work, each focused on incarcerated young people from different detention centers across the country. Youth Today, a publication dedicated to providing juvenile justice stories as well as stories on other youth related issues, features the entire photo spread in its January print edition. . . .  an excerpt of the piece  . . . :
Hundreds of thousands of people see inside the places and spaces where we lock up young members of our society. On any given day, more than 60,000 children in the United States are behind bars. . . ."

Americans love their prisons -- the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world (by far)!

Land of the free?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Space Travel, Incarceration, Deprivation

Wonder why incarceration isn't the answer? (in spite of the US having the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world) -- read on --

Star Trek Was a Lie: Space Travel Actually Sucks, Say Scientists | Manolith: " . . . the six would-be cosmonauts who spent a full 17 months cooped up in Mars500, a low-tech simulation built on an industrial parking lot in Moscow. The experience, to paraphrase a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, totally sucked. The participants — among the best and brightest around — spent 520 days in isolation, without even a glimmer of natural light. Their phone contact with the outside world had a 20 minutes delay, just as it would between Earth and Mars. Despite playing Guitar Hero and watching DVDs to cope with the soul-crushing boredom, the six men experienced wonky sleep patterns, lethargy, diminished mental capacities and general feeling of utter crapulence. One member of the mission suffered chronic sleep deprivation, and “was falling apart in terms of his attention system,” said University of Pennsylvania researcher Mathias Basner. . . ."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Multiple citizenship is inevitable, a second or third passport

Citizenship: In praise of a second (or third) passport | The Economist: "Seen from the state's point of view, multiple citizenship is at best untidy and at worst a menace. Officials would prefer you to be born, live, work, pay taxes, draw benefits and die in the same place, travel on one passport only, and bequeath only one nationality to your offspring. In wartime the state has a unique call on your loyalty—and perhaps your life. Citizenship is the glue keeping individual and state together. Tamper with it, and the relationship comes unstuck. But life is more complicated than that. Loyalty to political entities need not be exclusive: indeed, it often overlaps. Many Jews hold Israeli passports in solidarity with the Jewish state (and as an insurance policy), alongside citizenship of their native country. Teutons may be proud to be simultaneously Bavarian, German and European. Irish citizens can vote in British elections. The old notion of one-man, one-state citizenship looks outdated: more than 200m people now live and work outside the countries in which they were born—but still wish to travel home, or marry or invest there. . . . Multiple citizenship is inevitable and, at heart, rather liberal. Celebrate it." (read more at link above)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reputation, Rattner, Reality

A Reputation, Once Sullied, Acquires a New Shine - " . . . accused of using “pay to play” practices while raising money from a New York state pension fund when he was still at Quadrangle. In 2010 he paid more than $16 million to Andrew M. Cuomo, who was then New York’s attorney general, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle the civil cases without admitting or denying wrongdoing. He was “banned from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund within the State of New York for five years” and for “associating with any investment adviser or broker dealer” for two years, according to the suits. As the case proceeded, he stepped down from his position in the Obama administration. Among the cocktail party circuit in Manhattan, Mr. Rattner was Topic A. And the schadenfreude was thick. Mr. Rattner, the narrative developed, had become Wall Street’s Icarus, flying too close to the sun. The New Republic headlined one article: “Rattner Hoisted on His Own Petard.” The question was asked: Would he ever eat lunch in this town again? And what about Washington? Now, two years later, Mr. Rattner is lunching all over town. And, in truth, he may have never stopped. . . . "

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Geek goes Washington

Schumpeter: Mr Geek goes to Washington | The Economist: "Politics 2.0 - promises to be a force for creative disruption. It is “bringing to politics the hacker mentality of tech entrepreneurs—move fast, try to find new and innovative solutions to old problems,” says Joe Green, who is running the campaign. . . ."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

London, UK, who needs the EU?

Sailing away from the EU could be a boon for City, says Icap chief Spencer - Analysis & Features - Business - London Evening Standard: "Icap, with annual revenues of some £1.5 billion, has offices in 32 countries employing just under 5000 people. Spencer believes that London is still a magnet for many of the top people in finance. “London remains a major attraction when it comes to recruiting people,” he said. “I hope that the Conservatives win the next election outright, and that will help to make it even more attractive. Free of the constraints of the Coalition, they could pursue more Conservative policies including tackling personal taxes, which remain too high.” Spencer does not think an exit from Europe would particularly damage the City’s ability to do business. “We would still be the world’s sixth-largest economy. Countries such as South Korea and Canada do perfectly without huge trading blocs,” he said. “Similarly, many of the world’s  biggest financial centres — such as Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong — do not have huge domestic economies behind them.”"

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Miguel Nicolelis, Brain Not Computable, Kurzweil Singularity

Miguel Nicolelis Says the Brain is Not Computable, Bashes Kurzweil’s Singularity | MIT Technology Review:  " . . . "The debate over whether the brain is a kind of computer has been running for decades. Many scientists think it’s possible, in theory, for a computer to equal the brain given sufficient computer power and an understanding of how the brain works. Kurzweil delves into the idea of “reverse-engineering” the brain in his latest book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, in which he says even though the brain may be immensely complex, “the fact that it contains many billions of cells and trillions of connections does not necessarily make its primary method complex.” But Nicolelis is in a camp that thinks that human consciousness (and if you believe in it, the soul) simply can’t be replicated in silicon. That’s because its most important features are the result of unpredictable, non-linear interactions amongst billions of cells, Nicolelis says. “You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,” he says. “You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.” . . . "

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Aaron Swartz, Department of Justice, Shame

Lessig Blog, v2: ". . . . For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.” In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it. Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame. . . . "

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Infrastructure, a holistic approach

Infrastructure | Infrastructure | McKinsey & Company: " . . . We think that one of the innovations in infrastructure is really taking a systems approach. And that means not thinking about a specific project, not thinking about a specific situation like “water only” or “transport only” or “energy only,” but really looking systemically around what kinds of infrastructure need to support healthy, active, accessible communities or nations. And with that innovative way of thinking, you actually do approach infrastructure differently. You think about both “hard” and “soft” infrastructure holistically. Sometimes it’s better to plant mangroves and think about coastal restoration than it is to build a seawall. Or at least when you’re building hard infrastructure, to think about the soft infrastructure solutions. Sometimes it’s better, now that we have those materials, to build your streets and sidewalks with material that’s porous. The kind of porous material now is an innovation, because it allows the material to absorb water more quickly and release it more slowly. . . ." (read more at link above)

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