@elanjourno and a great explanation of islam and jihad

Those who follow me have probably noticed that over the past few months I have started to follow much closer the work being done at the Ayn Rand Institute, which I find remarkable in many different ways.

I discovered it thru Alex Epstein, the author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”, a must-read book on energy and its importance for the development of our society.

Then I discovered Don Watkins, author of a very interesting book titled “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government” coauthored with Yaron Brook. Very much worth reading.

And of course this led me to Yaron Brook, who I have already mentioned in another post.

Now, I have come across an 8-minutes video which is by far the clearest and most comprehensible description of why we are now facing this religious war from islamists targeting the west. Elan Journo hits the nail on the head. This video is very much worth watching. I think you will share with me how dangerous religions are. All religions, none excluded.

 

@mlevchin Max Levchin on the future of blockchain and bitcoin

Max Levchin, one of the founders of PayPal and a very successful entrepreneur and investor in many different startups in the Silicon Valley, was recently on stage at the South by Southwest conference (SXSW2016) in Austin, Texas.

He had a very interesting keynote speech in general, but the one thing I though I would share came just at the very end, with a question from the audience about blockchain.

Levchin spoke of both blockchain and bitcoin, and he clearly has been following both trends since early on in the game.

Still, he claims he is very bearish on bitcoin, also due to the recent harsh discussions around features and directions of the bitcoin protocol, while at the same time he is definitely more bullish on what blockchain can bring to many different businesses.

The answer is just 2 minutes long, and is definitely worth listening to:

Book review: How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: The Original Guide to Living Life to the Full by Arnold Bennet

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: The Original Guide to Living Life to the FullHow to Live on 24 Hours a Day: The Original Guide to Living Life to the Full by Arnold Bennet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

This review is for the Project Gutenberg version of the eBook, which can be found at:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2274

This short book is a stark reminder of the fact that things have always been quite complicated when it comes to energy and attention management, which are both cornerstones of time management.

One cannot solve the time management issue in isolation from focus and attention, and this book makes it very clear that even in pre-email and pre-social media times, all the sources for distractions were very much there already. Definitely less present than today, but still very much a drag on what we can can achieve, if we fall prey to the sirens…

It is an easy read, and it’s a joy to read an older form of the English language which is still very much modern, though the book was written in 1910.

It contains some good advice, nothing unheard of really, and it focuses a lot on carving more time out of a busy workday, by avoiding distractions in the train to and fro the office, and simply… reading books!

More context on this short book can also be found at Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Live_on_24_Hours_a_Day

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@yaronbrook great quote on poverty and inequality

I find myself more and more drawn to the ideas exposed by Yaron Brook, Executive Directory of The Ayn Rand Institute.

Yaron has a great show and podcast which can be found online at BlogTalkRadio. It is very much worth listening to if you want to hear a different point of view, that of someone very distant from both the conservative and liberal trite nonsense we keep hearing all the time. And I am not even counting the populists things that both Sanders and Trump keep telling over and over during this very painful campaign for the 2016 US Presidential elections, coming up in only 7 and a half months.

Yaron and his colleague Don Watkins, also working at the Ayn Rand Institute, are about to release a book I very much look forward to reading, titled “Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality”, so as one can imagine his views are pretty clear on the fact that the inequality paranoia always put forward by the leftist does not resonate much at all with Brook and Watkins.

Yaron Brook was recently a guest on a panel at the 2016 National Student Symposium on Friday, February 26, 2016, at the University of Virginia School of Law. Out of the many things he said during the event, this statement of his, less than one minute in length, is very much worth listening to:

I think it’s worth nothing, maybe this is the most underreported story of the last 30 years, over the last 30 years, 1 billion people have come out of poverty according to the United Nations, not an organization I usually cite for statistics, 1 billion people around the world have come out of poverty, 1 billion people. We should be dancing in the streets instead of complaining about inequality. The reason nobody celebrates this is because not one of those 1 billion people came out of poverty because of government programs. They are out of poverty because of capitalism in places like India and to the extent that China has adopted it, in Taiwan, and South Korea. And that’s something, global inequality is actually shrinking because other countries are adopting the free market.

I totally, completely share the view exposed so clearly by Yaron Brook here.

Book review: Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce

Power Hungry: The Myths of Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Power Hungry is an excellent primer on energy, specifically for all those who have been led to believe that there is a future by only using the “green” renewables that modern day propaganda seem to like so much.

First and foremost, it clarifies the difference between energy and power, and why we should not really care about energy per se, but rather focusing on power.

The introduction of the “Four Imperatives” then becomes a measuring scale to understand why we must have a mixed balance in our energy sources portfolio, and why certain sources are better than others.

The main reason is clearly spelled at the beginning of chapter 8: “Density is green”. The denser an energy source, the denser the power generated, the better.

Power density relates to how much real estate is needed in order to harvest the same amount of energy using different sources. Fossil fuels and nuclear are kings here.

Energy density is about how much energy is contained in the same amount of mass or volume. Here nuclear beats by far all other sources, because of simple physics. Fossil fuels come next, while renewables rank very low on this scale.

Cost is fairly self-explanatory to most people, though one should always consider all the factors when calculating costs, something that the supporters of “green” renewables seldom do. It would be unfair to compare solar (which produces power at best 50% during a 24 period), wind (maximum 30-40% on average) to fossil fuels and nuclear (with power generated very close to 100% of the time). If we do not add the additional gas-fired plants and infrastructure to the cost of “green” renewables, we are not making things any clearer, we are rather muddling the waters.

Scale is the last of the Four Imperatives, also very important. It relates to power density and energy density, clearly, and is probably the biggest issue in the “green” renewables field. I have always wondered how could solar PV produce enough for a medium to large city, day and night. This is still very much an open question.

The book is a must-read for all those who would like to cut thru the propaganda and get down to hard facts and figures. Granted, this book is now somewhat out-of-date, it was written before March 2011 when the tragic earthquake and tsunami which put the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP out of service with much media coverage of a non-event (not one person died from the little radiation spewed out from the damaged reactors, yet a lot of people died from unreasonable acts including evacuation of an elder people housing complex in the middle of night).

Some figures today might be different, as the push toward more “green” renewables is ongoing, using a lot of taxpayer’s money all around the world.

But politicians cannot change the hard facts of physics, and this book will clearly show you why.

View all my reviews

Of Apple, iOS security, and the FBI

The last 48 hours have been quite fascinating for those who, like me, are interested in security and privacy.

By now you must have heard of the ruffling of feathers of Apple against the court order date February 16th 2016, in which US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym orders Apple to comply with 7 points. The PDF document can be easily viewed online.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has crafted a very compelling public response to the court order, and has wisely addressed it to its customers, justifying the reasons that Apple views as fundamental in NOT complying to the court order.

At first glance, I immediately approved of Apple’s behaviour, and as time passed and comments started to fly around on the web, I became even more convinced the Apple’s move is a spectacular marketing success for the whole IT and communications industry, which for the very first time has said a clear NO to an unreasonable request by a US judicial court.

Why unreasonable, one might ask? Karl Denninger, aka “Tickerguy”, explains it very well in this article. In a nutshell, forcing Apple do to something against their will, that is, writing a piece of software which would be used to defy the security protection implemented already in iOS can be considered like slavery.

When you forced to work against your will, and do something that you do not like doing, nor you believe is worth doing, is effectively slavery.

Another good coverage of what is happening was provided by Julian Sanchez in a great interview to Caleb Brown in the Cato Daily Podcast for today, February 18th 2016. Sanchez explains very clearly what has happened, a very nice interview indeed.

The last article I’d like to mention comes from FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education. Andrea Castillo, of the Mercatus Center at the George Washington University, has written a very detailed article with a large number of great links which go into much deeper details for those who’d like to learn more about what has happened. Very much worth reading and checking the many links.

I have been an Apple user for many many years, as I started my career in computers at 13 on an Apple ][+ back in 1981.

But over the last couple of days I have been even more proud of being an Apple customer, as I strongly support what Tim Cook and Apple are doing in their fight against a very unreasonable request coming from the US judicial system.

Way to go, Mr. Cook!

 

Don Boudreaux guest at the @JohnStossel show

The FOX show Stossel, hosted by John Stossel, which I watch online every now and then, often has very good guests.

This time it’s the turn of Professor Donald J. Boudreaux of George Mason University, a frequent guest of Econtalk, one of the best podcasts on economics that I listen to regularly.

The episode is very much worth watching, as Prof. Boudreaux hits the nail on the heads by dispelling a lot of wrong myths on economy which are often used by politicians during their campaigns. Unfortunately so.

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4740129848001/stossel-01222016-econ-myths/

Steve Vai’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Steve Vai has always been a hero of mine, ever since I discovered him thru my childhood friend Paolo, who was also a guitar player like Steve Vai.

I’ve watched him play live once in Milan, on November 28th 1988, during David Lee Roth’s Skyscraper tour and since in my 20s I was working as a stagehand at rock concerts, I got very close to Steve and thanked him. I was also able to get a guitar pick of his, with his name and signature on it, a pick which I later brought with me to the grave of my friend Paolo, who passed away little more than a month after that wonderful concert, after a tragic car accident in early January 1989. He was 23.

I thought that leaving Steve Vai’s guitar pick was a much better gift for Paolo, a rock guitarist, rather than just flowers!

Steve Vai has thus been a landmark of mine in my late teens and 20s, and I was very happy when I discovered this video with him on YouTube. It’s been put together by Evan Carmichael, a productivity and improvement personality.

The video is very much worth watching!

BBC: Government urged to use Bitcoin-style digital ledgers

Second post in a row about the BBC reporting on blockchain, this time it is about a new report from the UK government which defines guidelines and actions for the future. It is a hefty 88-pages long, and it can be downloaded here.

The Government Office for Science has also released a video with an introduction to the technology, which is in my view a bit shallow and very generic, but good for lay people.

Here is the video:

The original article from the BBC can be found here.

BBC: How blockchain tech could change the way we do business

The BBC has been reporting about the blockchain technology lately, and it’s very interesting to see that for once there are no negative mentions of bitcoin, and most newsbytes reported in this article are quite positive on the use of blockchain technology in the future.

Here is the link to the article:
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35370304