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2017 Technology Trends Forecast

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In January 2017 I did a technology trends forecast, thinking I might make it an annual effort.  So here we are 2 year later and I'm reviewing how I did....    any comments?

Biotech products/technology:

  1. Graphene based biosensors for sale
  2. 1st CRSPR 2.0 genomic editing platform drugs hit market

Digital Penetration:

  1. Voice command device share growth and 1st voice command in cars (native not Applink)
  2. Blockchain standards (Ethereum) will begin re-seeding peer-to-peer with big scaleup in P2P with 5G rollouts (~2018-20)

IT Infrastructure and Software Architecture:

  1. Graph storage model query languages "narrowing down to a few" migrating towards a (few) standards much as SQL did for the relational storage model (e.g. MS "Trinity", Google "mapreduce", Oracle "Spacial", Apache "Neo4j", Teradata "Aster")
  2. Containers take off (Docker vs Kubernetes)
  3. AI "fad" fades, deep neural nets continue to improve more classic apps (classification problems with separate training/runtime) sped up by GPU's / Silicon to include video scene recognition.

Business Models/Companies:

  1. SAAS Consolidation w/continued growth in  hybrid cloud implementations leveraging cloud OS's


  1. Steady Cyberwarfare in the news, speeds security improvements with "Secure Remote Password"  SRP Protocol
  2. Personal Bots continue to flame out (AI hype)

Cool Products:

  1. 1st Folding OLED products (phones/tablets) by Christmas (mfg capacity expansion)
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Here's How I Recognize the Truth

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Mr. Oshima is a true Zen martial arts master,  25 years ago I was fortunate to be in a Karate warmup and he asked the class "How do you recognize the truth?".  People responded with... "logic", "reasoning",  "evidence" etc. and he summarized what he heard with the word "experience".  Here's my experience and takeaways about the challenges of figuring out what's true.

Besides martial arts instructors,  I submit that scientists, philosophers and lawyers  have studied truth the most. Here's a dive into how they think about it. 

Science and Mathematics: 

From Francis Bacon to Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn 

Francis Bacon

What constitutes truth in science evolved from inductivism, attributed to Francis Bacon in the 1600's, where the scientific method is traversed and "laws" are added and subtracted based on the "best" experimental observations...

Karl Popper Karl Popper who (in the 1900's)  created a more rigorous, "falsification" doctrine where predicting the future (especially improbable futures) are experimentally confirmed or falsified. This became the gold standard for scientific laws especially in Physics.


Thomas Kuhn

Falsification was overlayed with Thomas Kuhn's 1962 "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" observation that science did not evolve linearly but had "paradigm shifts" in understanding that  create a new foundation to rebuild the laws around ( quantum mechanics comes to mind ). A cyclical structure outside of traversing the Scientific Method.


Whitehead and Russell's attempt to prove that Mathematics could be the foundation of absolute truth for mankind ... until Kurt Godel


Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell from 1910-1913 attempted to prove that Mathematics could be the foundation of absolute truth for mankind ... until Kurt Godel proved that despite it's rigor, even mathematical proofs were incomplete, and how we think hard-wires limits to our understanding.






I have created an order of increasing "Rigor" in Science that is  based upon observational sample sizes and a lifetime of reading scientific literature.

  1. Mathematics
  2. Physics and Engineering
  3. Biological Sciences
  4. Non-biological Psychology, Social Sciences and Humanities

Key Idea 1:  Standards of truth in Science have evolved and using the "Scientific Method" still creates different levels of confidence in scientific conclusions...not all  "Science" is created equal!


Legal Standards of proof in the U.S. justice system 

  1. A Preponderance of Evidence (greater than a  50% chance the proposition is true)
  2. Clear and Convincing (clear,unequivocal, satisfactory and convincing evidence making it more probably true than not)
  3. Beyond a reasonable Doubt  (no plausible reason to believe otherwise)

Theories of the Past are always  "A preponderance of Evidence" argument. They are falsifiable only if the theory can predict the future (accurately). Predicting the future with statistical significance, makes it "Clear and Convincing". The farther back a "theory of the past" attempts to describe the least observable it is (without a time machine). Therefore it becomes a game of piling on evidence. This causes the admissibility of evidence to become the most critical element in supporting the theory!

This explains why the theory of evolution and theory of anthropomorphic climate change can be controversial even among well educated experts in these fields. Since these  "theories of the past" are based upon a "preponderance of evidence", the best way to defend  a theory is to restrict what is "admissible" evidence.  Can evolutionary scientists predict the next species or dominant gene to emerge?  Will climate scientists reveal what their 20 year old model predicted for 5 years ago and today?  Even very smart people thought the world was flat and Newtonian mechanics was accurate.  Here's an article that describes high profile cases where accurate future predictions were made, but the scientific theory behind them we now believe was wrong!

Key Idea 2:  "Preponderance of evidence" arguments in science or law create incentives to bias admissibility of evidence!

Main Stream Media , Internet Sites and Motivations

Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Rule

From 1949-1987 the FCC required holders of broadcast licenses (e.g. ABC, CBS and NBC) to:

  1. Present controversial issues of public importance
  2. Report the issues in an "honest, equitable and balanced manner"

Everybody trusted Walter... active from 1935-2009 "In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story"

This Fairness Doctrine policy was upheld in the supreme court in 1969, reasoned by the scarceness of the broadcast spectrum.

The Equal Time Rule originally enacted in 1927 requires broadcast stations to provide political candidates equivalent opportunity (at the same price) if requested.

Because today's MSM and Internet sites are not subject to  a "journalistic law" (or regulatory requirement) such as the Fairness Doctrine, it allows individuals and corporations to leverage the First Amendment and their access/control of modern media outlets to support their personal objectives.

Publication Bias:  Suppose I flip coins and publish results for a living. If the peer reviewed "Journal of Classical and Quantum Coin Flipping" only accepts my articles when results come up heads (just as my research grant proposal "coins are political" had speculated) and the NYTimes reports "Scientists agree that coins are politically biased". Is this fake news? Did the news accurately report  bad  science? Was the science bad because of distorted financial incentives or overly stated conclusions? Or did motivational self-interests of the publication bias the outcome? Of course all of these things happen in the real world. 

Key Idea 3:  Societal issues pressure (financial, ideological, political) information sources to bias evidence while legislative protections have decreased. Different incentives are usually not tied to pure truth.

Why the Public is Easily Duped


Is the pope Catholic? " a yes answer is plausible, possible, feasible and probable.  “Is a Catholic the pope?"  The answer is probably not although it might be  plausible, possible and feasible that a given catholic is the pope.  If you change the order, a statement doesn’t survive.”

The public (and even good scientists and engineers)  are often fooled by things that are  plausible and possible because judging  feasibility and probability takes MUCH MORE EXPERTISE/WORK in the relevant field. This is why a technical scam like Theranos was able to raise $billions and dupe many high-profile people to join their board.

Something Plausible may not be Possible...

...the Possible may not be Feasible...

...the Feasible may not be Probable.

The Farnam Street Blog (a favorite site of mine) published a great article 

Deductive vs Inductive Reasoning: Make Smarter Arguments, Better Decisions, and Stronger Conclusions

They identify several types of evidence used as reasoning by people to point to a truth:

  • Direct or experimental evidence — This relies on observations and experiments, which should be repeatable with consistent results.
  • Anecdotal or circumstantial evidence — Over-reliance on anecdotal evidence can be a logical fallacy because it is based on the assumption that two coexisting factors are linked even though alternative explanations have not been explored. The main use of anecdotal evidence is for forming hypotheses which can then be tested with experimental evidence.
  • Argumentative evidence — We sometimes draw conclusions based on facts. However, this evidence is unreliable when the facts are not directly testing a hypothesis. For example, seeing a light in the sky and concluding that it is an alien aircraft would be argumentative evidence.
  • Testimonial evidence — When an individual presents an opinion, it is testimonial evidence. Once again, this is unreliable, as people may be biased and there may not be any direct evidence to support their testimony.

Key Idea 4:  Evidence can be evaluated with increasing confidence by testing whether it is a) plausible b) possible c) feasible d) probable with each step depending upon the previous and requiring more rigor.

Truth Takeaways: 

1- Focus on confidence in conclusions based upon evidence, not whether A or B right

2-  The following evidence is called "Science" in the media but "Scientific proof" varies tremendously across disciplines, so weight evidence differently

             Opinionated evidence (low) -Testimonials, circumstantial, argumentative

             Experimental (medium) - "study" experiments 

             Future predictions (high) -experiments that support/oppose a future prediction

 3- Evaluate a statement from plausible --> possible --> feasible --> probable with increasing diligence, if you cannot do the diligence, then settle for "I don't know"

4- Practice delivering counter-arguments with equivalent nuance as your position to guard against confirmation bias and fear of being wrong

5- Accept that in some areas (especially human behavior)  truth is subjective e.g. Ethicists believe right and wrong standards change over time and across the world

6- Remember that MOST OF THE TIME you're not sure!

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A Poem for Startup Entrepreneurs

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IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

My favorite poem by Rudyard Kipling...

He must have been a startup entrepreneur 😉

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What happened in the 2016 Election?

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Here are two articles about what happened in the 2016 election that I think are smart. The first from Nassim Taleb  author of "The Black Swan" and "Fooled by Randomness" and the second by George Friedman who founded Stratfor and now runs Geopolitical Futures.

From Nassim:

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligenzia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence and fall into circularities—but their main skills is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can't tell science from scientism --in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types—those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior—much of what they call “rational” or “irrational” comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in many countries, the government’s role is ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and rarely seen outside specialized outlets, social media, and universities—most people have proper jobs and there are not many opening for the IYI.

Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite.

The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools, and PhDs as these are needed in the club.


More socially, the IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. He never curses on twitter. He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver. Those in the U.K. have been taken for a ride by Tony Blair. The modern IYI has attended more than one TEDx talks in person or watched more than two TED talks on Youtube. Not only will he vote for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison because she seems electable and some other such circular reasoning, but holds that anyone who doesn’t do so is mentally ill.

The IYI has a copy of the first hardback edition of The Black Swan on his shelves, but mistakes absence of evidence for evidence of absence. He believes that GMOs are “science”, that the “technology” is not different from conventional breeding as a result of his readiness to confuse science with scientism.

Typically, the IYI get the first order logic right, but not second-order (or higher) effects making him totally incompetent in complex domains. In the comfort of his suburban home with 2-car garage, he advocated the “removal” of Gadhafi because he was “a dictator”, not realizing that removals have consequences (recall that he has no skin in the game and doesn’t pay for results).

The IYI is member of a club to get traveling privileges; if social scientist he uses statistics without knowing how they are derived (like Steven Pinker and psycholophasters in general); when in the UK, he goes to literary festivals; he drinks red wine with steak (never white); he used to believe that fat was harmful and has now completely reversed; he takes statins because his doctor told him so; he fails to understand ergodicity and when explained to him, he forgets about it soon later; he doesn’t use Yiddish words even when talking business; he studies grammar before speaking a language; he has a cousin who worked with someone who knows the Queen; he has never read Frederic Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, Amianus Marcellinus, Ibn Battuta, Saadiah Gaon, or Joseph De Maistre; he has never gotten drunk with Russians; he never drank to the point when one starts breaking glasses (or, preferably, chairs); he doesn’t know the difference between Hecate and Hecuba; he doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual” in the absence of skin in the game; has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past 5 years in conversations that had nothing to do with physics; he knows at any point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation.



But a much easier marker: he doesn’t deadlift...


<---  Not a IYI!


Whew...    well I must admit Nasim, I've never read Frederic Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, Amianus Marcellinus, Ibn Battuta, Saadiah Gaon, or Joseph De Maistre,  but I have gotten drunk with a Russian, and (used to) deadlift (when my back was younger) 😉

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my Hecate and Hecuba studies...


By George Friedman

Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. The extent of the bewilderment is significant. The pollsters were shocked. The media was surprised. The financial markets were stunned. Many in the Republican Party were astonished. And the Democratic Party was totally taken off guard. The thought that a man with Trump’s values and behavior could become president was, to many, unthinkable. I do not mean that they disagreed with him, or hoped that Trump would lose. They thought it inconceivable that a man like Trump could win.

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Election Night Event In New York City
Republican President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

That is the reason Hillary Clinton lost. The Democratic Party that nominated her has moved far away from the party that Franklin D. Roosevelt crafted or that Lyndon B. Johnson had led. Their party had as its core the white working class. The liberalism of FDR and LBJ was built around this group, with other elements added and subtracted. Much has been said about this group having become less important. Perhaps so, but it is still the single largest ethnic and social group in the country.

This group, as I have argued before, is in trouble. The middle class, with a median take-home pay in California of about $4,300 a month, can buy a modest house and a car but certainly can’t afford to send their kids to college. Hence the massive student loans their children must take out. The lower-middle class has a take-home pay of about $2,600 a month. A generation ago the lower-middle class could buy a small house in a not-so-great neighborhood. Now they are hard pressed to rent an apartment. Liberals are concerned with inequality. People in the lower-middle class are simply concerned with making enough money to live a decent life. They are two very different things.

Trump, it turns out, understood this problem. He also understood that these people had lost the culture wars that had been waged for the past generation. Their churches and parents raised and taught them that homosexuality is a sin, as is abortion and premarital sex. Evangelical Christianity wasn’t so much the issue, but rather the gut values with which they were raised. Many of this class had sinned, but they knew it was a sin and they valued the standards they’d been taught, even when they didn’t live up to them.

Within a generation, this lower- and middle-class group had been displaced. Pride that comes from working hard and making a good living for their families was lost. They found that values they had regarded as commonplace were now regarded as phobias, illnesses they must overcome in order to be politically correct. Values they were taught as children could no longer be expressed in public.

This middle-class group no longer had a place in the Democratic Party. They felt the Democratic Party not only had contempt for them, but also that it valued immigrants, and the rights and culture of immigrants, far more than it valued the beliefs of the white middle class. That was true, but it was not the immigrants the party valued, it was the upper-middle class, college-educated victors in the culture wars.

When Clinton made her extraordinary speech about Trump’s basket of “deplorables,” she was expressing the chasm of contempt that had opened up within the Democratic Party between the educated and the working class. She said there were two baskets. In one was the homophobic, xenophobic misogynists. In the other basket were the poor who had been left behind. It was not clear that this second basket was deplorable, but those in it were certainly not her major concern. Clinton made the “deplorables” statement to make it clear that not only was Trump unacceptable, but his followers were too. Clearly, she didn’t think she needed their votes. But she did need to reinforce her base’s sense of fighting the good fight against evil and failure.

What Clinton and the elite didn’t understand was that this group was sufficient to serve as Trump’s base and that he could add to it. Looking at exit polls, the hostility of women to Trump turned out to not be there. Over 20 percent of Hispanics voted for Trump. Trump built a coalition that Clinton believed could not be built. It was in some ways a broader coalition than she had created. The elite made assumptions about women, Hispanics and others implying it was inconceivable for anyone other than the deplorables to support Trump.

Clinton’s statement about Trump’s followers struck me at the time, and still does, as amazing. She was then a few points ahead of Trump, which meant that nearly half of the country supported him. By implication, she was saying that half the country is deplorable. Her statement was not only contemptuous, but showed her to be a terrible politician. To win the election, she needed to hold all of her supporters, plus take away some of Trump’s. The deplorable statement drove many off instead.

It was not only bad politics. It also represents a core internal problem. The elite of the United States – and all countries have and need elites – has become profoundly self-enclosed. This is similar to the situation in the U.K. when the elite was enraged at the Brexit referendum result, and hurled epithets at the narrow majority that voted for Brexit, calling them uneducated, incapable of understanding the issues and so on.

Economic stresses build up in all societies at various points. At this moment, European countries are undergoing the same sort of stresses as the United States, but even more intensely. Nationalist movements are growing in many of those countries. They are hostile to the European Union, oppose uncontrolled immigration and are resentful of policies that impose austerity that affects the middle and lower classes, without significant impact on the elite.

Trump is part of this broader crisis. Where European nationalists oppose the EU, Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Where the Europeans oppose uncontrolled Muslim immigration, Trump opposes Muslim and Mexican immigration. Where the Europeans talk about ending austerity, Trump speaks of tax cuts to stimulate investment.

Whether these policies are appropriate is not what matters here. The issue is that extended economic dysfunction has inevitable political consequences. This presidential campaign pivoted on the fact that Clinton did not understand the political movement that was rising and dismissed it as marginal. Trump did understand it, played to it and won the presidency. But it goes one step deeper. He won the election by arguing that Washington and the media were oblivious to the economic problem. During the later days of the campaign, he consistently made the claim that the Washington elite in particular was completely out of touch with the reality of any Americans outside its class.

I can safely assert Trump was the better politician. He won, not an overwhelming victory, but a decisive one. Clinton’s weakness was that she saw her position at the heart of the political establishment as decisive. She dismissed Bernie Sanders in spite of his strength, and she never really took Trump seriously. She regarded the 3-point lead in the polls as sufficient. That was complacency, but it hid a lack of understanding that a political volcano was building in the middle class, and many others shared in the sense that things were going wrong.

Clinton didn’t see a major problem, although her predecessors in the Democratic Party (LBJ and FDR) had. Her advisers didn’t see it. Instead they saw an intemperate man hurling insults at others, totally unsuited for high office. Unfortunately, voters turned out to be far less interested in Trump’s rudeness than in Clinton’s cluelessness.

Some will lay blame for the loss on FBI Director James Comey’s letter. That undoubtedly contributed to it. But it was not decisive. Economic dysfunction leads to political upheaval, and Clinton didn’t grasp the significance of the dysfunction. And somewhere in her mind the fact that white males without a college degree opposed her indicated that only deplorable people opposed her, although why white males without a college education should be thought of as deplorable is an important question.

In any case, the election is a surprise only because the polls were so wrong. Trump was likely in the lead for quite a while. The decline in the accuracy of polls is noteworthy, primarily because Clinton might have thought more deeply about her situation if she had known she was behind.

Trump executed an obnoxious campaign. I was deeply offended by his attack on John McCain, not over the question of whether McCain was a hero, but rather because Trump said he preferred pilots who don’t get shot down to those who do. As commander in chief, he will, like every president since FDR, have to order troops into harm’s way. How does a commander order his pilots to strike, when they know that if they are shot down, their commander’s respect for them will decline? This was an election where offensive statements abounded. Trump had more than Clinton, but Clinton’s comments were a direct attack on a class of voters, which was more startling. In the end, the voters decided.

Trump will be president and he has made sweeping promises as all candidates do. It is easy to dismiss these promises, as it was easy to dismiss the idea that he would get the Republican nomination, or that he would win the election. Like all political leaders he will be constrained by reality. But seeing reality clearly enough to achieve what others think is impossible is what makes great leaders. I have difficulty imagining what his government will look like, but I was someone who thought he would never get the Republican nomination. It is important to be cautious about dismissing this man.


George would loose half his subscribers if he was political.  His years as an intelligence analyst enables him to follow the data without bias. Considering that Donald was opposed by both parties, the media, the powerful Clinton and Bush's,  and spent substantially less money than his opponents, I agree "... we should be cautious about dismissing this man."

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The latest research on bullshit

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Bohr not thinking

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”

                                                               – Harry Frankfurt

I ran across this and thought some of my readers might enjoy it   On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit .  It attempts to quantify people's "bullshit receptivity" to their perception of how "profound" something sounds.  They speculate that there are word patterns that make things  "pseudo-profound" that trip people up.

Good stuff. Rupert Sheldrake should use this approach to show all the pseudo-BS the sciences have delivered to us before changing their mind over the years. Rupert is on a quest to free science from the "material world view" ( Setting Science Free from Materialism ) which he believes is starting to stagnate our progress.

For example, the "Big Bang Theory" of the universe was Introduced in 1949 and accepted by most cosmologists in the 70's  (about when I graduated from high school), but some are questioning it again.

My takeaway is simple, don't fall for bullshit just because it's wrapped in "Science"  or "Scientists Agree". Not all scientists are motivated by seeking truth (I've had PhD employee's tell me they kept going to school because they couldn't get a job!).   The vices of people are embedded in the people, hence they show up in all institutions.  I'm leary of any "Truth" that achieves its status by a vote.

Kurt Godel

Kurt Godel showed us that with our most rigorous thinking (mathematics) we can  "prove" things that aren't true and cannot prove everything that is!


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Don't let nosebleed levels of abstraction kill your ability to make leadership decisions!

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Politicians spend their lives mastering it. Good BS'ers have practiced it for years. It's a great way to make people think you have "senior management potential".



  1.  the act of obtaining or removing something from a source : the act of abstracting something
  2. a general idea or quality rather than an actual person, object, or event : an abstract idea or quality
  3. the state of someone who is not paying attention to what is happening or being said : an abstracted state                                                                                   - from Mirriam-Webster

Back in the day I worked for a brilliant manager who had his team meet with 2 PhD psychologists regularly  to practice the latest and greatest theories on effective behaviors and team building skills. During one session we read and worked over "Language in Thought and Action" by S.I. Hayakawa (a U.S. Senator). First published in 1949, it is  considered a classic work on semantics.

My first takeaway was  to recognize conversations moving  from lower-to-higher or higher-to-lower levels of abstraction.  This is critical when making decisions since it is usually easier to move up rather than down yet YOU CANNOT RESOLVE ANYTHING MOVING UP!

Consider making a decision about Betsy, the cow....  cow1

cattle...we can talk about her contributions to our herd of cattle....

....or what a valuable piece of livestock she is but...

...unless we go the other way, perhaps applying our policies on Livestock to Cattle and Cattle to  Betsy,  we can expect a courteous and politically correct conversation  but CANNOT ADD DECISION VALUE on what to do about Betsy.

Unfortunately my experience is that  1) resolving problems  2) recognizing opportunities and 3) defining strategies happen at lower levels of abstraction (often the lowest).

"We're customer oriented"  detail-devil1

"Innovation is the lifeblood of our Company"

 "Lets make America Great Again!"

"It's time that we move from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions"

"It's irresponsible to question the science of climate change"

Software indirection

Abstraction layering (implemented as indirection) has driven Software development productivity to grow exponentially by allowing us to label and manipulate "cumulatively all that went before". But even in this virtual world, constructs of the mind have limitations.



Good stuff, BUT going lower often makes conversations more confrontational, especially when stakes are high.  My second takeaway is that it is ALWAYS helpful to rebuild trust by moving up the abstraction ladder. Stating COMMON GOALS AND DESIRES rebuilds confidence that we're still on the same team. This leadership trait is demonstrated spectacularly in Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell when the crew is getting frayed from rapid-fire life and death decisions...

Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks): Gentlemen, what are your intentions?

[Jack Swigert and Fred Haise turn around and stare at Lovell]

Jim Lovell: I'd like to go home.

They did too.


" You've got to be careful when you're talking about reality"    -- my friend Ed Hudson

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I've Been Hacked!

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On August 20, I recieved an email from my hosting provider ( saying they deleted something bad from my directory and I was likely part of a phishing scheme. When I went to the website every page  said:  "hacked by Hwins2005"    Bummer....

So here I am on August 23 after 20 hours of deep dives into WordPress,  (opening more PHP files than God intended), a bit of Apache, every tool CPanel offered and I'M BACK!  I still have a ticket with my provider which is making it's way up the queue.

This is a record of those lovely hours. I hope it is helpful for anyone that has to go through it.  First however is the emotional aspect... it is a mini version of a feeling I had many years ago when my house was broken into.  A feeling of invasion, violation of personal space and anger. People have this feeling  and it is why privacy is manifesting itself politically, whether it's the NSA, Scott McNealy's 2009 quote: "You Have Zero Privacy Anyway. Get Over It" or Facebook data-mining your friends to  get a better credit score on you... GET THE F*%$ OUT OF HERE!

So here's what I did:


  1. Read about the first 6 or 7 search items on "WordPress Hacked"  (half were advertisements)
  2. Logged into wp-admin and realized that my backup settings were not scheduled and my backup was months old (while fearing I was doing something bad by logging in)... more Bummer
  3. Ran a backup because the searches said to
  4. Downloaded a malware plugin and ran it ( $ to get the fix-it plugin)
  5. Deleted that plugin then downloaded and ran another ( $ to get the fix-it plugin)
  6. Ditto for that plugin
  7. Spent some time cruising WP directories and opening files hoping for a hail mary
  8. Gave up
QNAP Storage Server

Qnap NAS Storage Server


  1. Decided to build a "staging version" and was always intrigued what the performance of a WordPress stack would be  on my QNAP TS-419U II NAS
  2. Built a clean MySQL/WordPress/Apache stack on the QNAP and the
    performance SUCKED (minutes to do  single digit second tasks on my hosting provider)!
  3. BTW I'm a BIG fan of QNAP and their hardware/software. This server has a Marvell  2GHz single core processor and it just wasn't up to managing the RAID as well as the WP Stack.
  4. Before the hack I was moving my trading  code (C#.Net, C++, Amibroker and Matlab) to the cloud using virtual machines in Virtualbox mixing Win7 and Centos.  I intended to automate the configuration and provisioning with Vagrant.
  5. Great stuff but  realizing I was getting far away from fixing my blog,  I Gave Up ( ummm..... more like postponed to  fix the specific, instead of the general problem  )


  1. I started running phpmyadmin browsing the SQL tables and removed a bunch of users, changed my admin account Usernames and Passwords and the character code from UTC-7??? Back to UTC-8.
  2. Deleted (not just de-activated) all plug-ins except the most basic.
  3. Without a terminal on CPanel to "grep" my way through all the WP files I kept wondering how long it would take to build a diff tool to compare my site to the WP release on GITHUB. Then I found Anti-Malware and Brute-Force Security by ELI.  I installed and ran it.
  4. The plug-in did not find the problem but gave me about 10 suspect files. I opened them with the CPanel editor and pasted the current GIT versions.  When saving, the editor informs whether anything changed, two files had changed.
  5. The site and pages still redirected to the "hacked by Hwins2005".  I figured if my php files were cool there must still be issues in the javascript
  6. I deleted my Theme and reloaded it
  7. I'M BACK

Whew....   probably saved $250 to have someone clean it for me but I learned alot about WordPress' architecture and improved my CPanel and overall web stack chops. I'll be attempting to harden things more going forward.


virtualbox       vagrant   centos

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Hardly anything hard to say about "The Hard Thing About Hard Things"

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HardThingI recently read Ben Horowitz's book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers",  it was great!  I've read alot of management, marketing and strategy books but  I can honestly say it is the only book I've read that captured any of my experience as a CEO or being in the inner circle with a CEO in a startup. 

Einstein once said of his friend Kurt Godel that his mere existence brought him happiness. I can say that about this book.

Ben captures five things that are integral to the role yet is never portrayed in the happy crap "small big company with freedom and payouts"  media and journalism stuff...

1) Impossible odds and running out of money (again)

2) Peacetime vs Wartime CEO

3) Firing / laying off friends

4) Lonely decisions (esp:  People Choices)

5) Overwhelming Guilt

Start ups are hard... it helps to be naive... why do people do it....  not all do...

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Mythical Man-months, Microservice Architectures and a Million Developers

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farm-workersWatching a presentation on scaling microservices by Adrian Cockcroft  Adrian mentioned Twitter had over 1M developers using their API's. DEVELOPERS, not API calls or Apps using the API's etc. WOW!

So when Fred Brooks published "The Mythical Man-Month" in 1975 (MUST reading for all managers esp tech) he described solving the people scaling problem at IBM using clever team designs. His "Perfectly Partition-able Task" (like picking corn or strawberries) stuck in my head (I read it in the early 80's) as a framework ever since.

The gist was that teams working on complex systems had a communications/coming up to speed burden proportional to (N^2-N)/2 , where N is the number of team members (developers). So if we can scale "Dev Ops" unbounded using these architectures, I believe we have a tangibly different world than the words "big data", "cloud computing" or scalable software captures.

Partitioning tasks changed the size of things we built in the physical world... pyramids, Ford's assembly line, etc. it will do the same for what we build in the information world. A much bigger deal than many recognize...

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