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thinking clearly

Want Peace in the Middle East? The Palestinians CAN Cause it to Happen

Want peace in the Middle East? It is actually pretty simple, but the best solution requires the Palestinians to unilaterally do something BOLDLY PEACEFUL. I promise you this will work: Get your folks together. Talk them into disarming and being the model of civility beyond any requirements of Israel for commerce, border crossing, WHATEVER. Invite their security forces in, all the way to your borders to protect you from external issues. Challenge your people to be easy to protect and civil and challenge Israel to protect you. Israel will relish the extra territorial distance from attack and the cost of providing security will pale compared to its value. Then make a long declaration of tolerance. Absurdly long. Let’s say 49 years. Challenge your people to suspend any and all aggressive acts for 49 years and to just play ball.

In response to Jim Kim’s question about how to end poverty

The effective theme of the long term sustainable solution to poverty is to focus on the gap between the poorest and the poverty level within each sovereign area and ask each sovereign area which has minimized poverty to then wage prosperity on its poorest neighbor. Below a certain level of destitution it is impossible to “fish.” Given a baseline my bet is that enough will work hard that we can tolerate any long term self selected parasites as long as we do not spend money and resources trying to manage them.

Justification of Laws Limiting Individual Freedom

Justification of Laws Limiting Individual Freedom

Humans have a right to seek joy by any means that does not prevent or reduce the joy of others. Any other stance is an expression of religious views, which I respect, but which should not be promulgated by the government.

Therefore, any law must be to either:

a)      Create facilities for the joy of all
b)     Restrict freedom for the purpose of preventing one person from depriving another of joy or the possibility of joy.

In the cases where law is promulgated in support of the creation of facilities for the joy of all, the laws should be as efficient as possible.

In the cases where law is promulgated in support of prevention of the preemption of the joy of others, the minimum restriction must be sought, and any notion that limiting any person’s joy because others might be jealous or envious of greater joy must be rejected.


Category A:

ACA: Good name, Possibly a good notion, Horrible implementation

The fundamental underpinning of the math and costs under mandated universal care NOT paid for by the government is people who have continuously paid for insurance are now pooled with folks who previously rolled the dice on the costs of chronic ailments. There is no reward for having paid to not take the risk over a long period and we are now burdened directly with the cost of the losers. Now, historically the culture in this country is that buying insurance is an individual risk choice. Don’t buy fire insurance? If your house does not burn down, big win. Most people choose to not take that risk and if you have a mortgage the bank makes the safe choice for you because their experience is based on a pretty good proxy for the entire risk pool. It would be entirely possible to craft a system that rewarded people for their past contributions to the shared risk, but that was not done.

Vague and/or misleading claims can undermine otherwise useful themes

I’m pretty much a green sneaker, tree hugging conservationist. (The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, and Arbor Day get annual renewals like clockwork, I helped write and implement Scenic Road and Wetlands Preservation legislation here in Lebanon, NH in the late 1980s.) So I’m really disappointed when loss of species and habitat headlines and statistics are so oriented to shock value that my reaction is “Is there a seed of truth in this obvious attempt to mislead?” instead of concern for the subject matter. Today’s entry for my #please_read_tufte hall of shame: “…facing 50 percent drops in their numbers within seven years if the current rate of decline continues…” I’ll save you the math: that’s about 9.43 % per year.

Farnham’s Seven Steps of Application Design

Here is a snippet I wrote on the oracle-l list today before I remembered that I’m a blogger now. To see the whole thread in context (potentially including someone telling me I’ve got it all wrong later today or in the future) the subject was OT: sheltered little world i live in -> NODB?

Someone opined about where a DBA would start designing. That person might be right about some DBAs. Here is approximately what I wrote (only fixing some typos and grammar, I think.):

gee whiz. I think people think of me as a DBA. re: “That’s true that DBA would start designing application from database.” (sic.)

Larry Constantine has written some excellent books about information systems design. Many of my ideas are well explained in those books.

#optimizerbumperstickers Oracle VLDB Mary Poppins and me

In 1990, when Ken Jacobs hosted the RDBMS campground talks at the Anaheim International Oracle User Week appreciation event, one of the topic areas was whether we (some users representing the Very Large DataBases VLDB of the Oracle world which meant anything north of about 7 GB back then) thought that the rule based optimizer (RBO) was good enough, or whether we needed a cost based optimizer (CBO) for the real applications we were running at enterprise scale to work well. “Oracle’s optimizer is like Mary Poppins. It’s practically perfect in every way. But we do have some cases where it would be helpful for the optimizer to consider the relative sizes of tables and whether a table was local or remote when the plan for joining and filtering is constructed.

The String Puzzle

I gave my two boys an old puzzle to solve yesterday. I told them that I’d give them each $10 if they could solve it for me. It’s one of the ways we do the “allowance” thing around the house sometimes.

Here’s the puzzle. A piece of string is stretched tightly around the Earth along its equator. Imagine that this string along the equator forms a perfect circle, and imagine that to reach around that perfect circle, the string has to be exactly 25,000 miles long. Now imagine that you wanted to suspend this string 4 inches above the surface of the Earth, all the way around it. How much longer would the string have to be do do this?

Thinking Clearly is more important than the Right Answer

Have you ever met anyone who attracted your attention because he had the right idea, but the more you got to know how he arrived at that idea, the less attracted you felt?

All our lives, we learn how important it is to be correct, to have the right answer. You gotta have the right answer to make good grades in school, to nail that interview, to be accepted by your peers and your families and your supervisors, .... But too many people think that an education is merely a sequence of milestones at which you demonstrate that you know the right answer. That view of education is unfortunate.