on 07 November 2012
Agreed... in essence this is why we're all here. As entrepreneurs we all educated risk takers, and we realize any venture is essentially gambling if there is no edge. At any time, there could be a new idea that pushes any one HFT algorithm (or mobile photo sharing app, or words with friends clone) past the established mindshare into blue ocean territory. When that time comes, do you want to be caught with your pants down, lumbering under the excuse that you thought the oceans were too red for you to bother?
The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.
on 04 November 2012
I don't think culture matters. And as language is a subset of culture, by logic and extension, I don't believe that language matters, either. Cultures have been evolving--and going extinct--for millenia. No different from what species have been doing over the same period of time.

As far as I can tell, all culture (and language) are just constructs created by minds from various places and times. Culture is not a sentient being; it does not mourn the fact that it is becoming less relevant or less significant. It does not mourn its obsolescence.

By logic and reason, this is true. But if it is, then why is it so sacrilegious to openly make this statement? I don't usually come across many people who agree with my perspective, especially in normal, real-life situations. But on the internet, well, that's a whole 'nother story.

A few days ago I came across a post on Hacker News--where I come across a lot of great nuggets of thought. I believe the top-level of the thread was discussing the TED talk related to dropping off computers/tablets to illiterate primary school students and then coming back a few months later to see how much progress had been made by the cohort. But that's not really the reason for this post (though it's a fascinating TED talk).

What I thought was most interesting in the Hacker New thread was the following comment, which talks about the importance of English when it comes to the propagation of knowledge and information. What I appreciate most about this comment is that it was written by someone from a completely different worldview.

I don't really care about the English language. I'm lucky that I speak it as my first language, but that's not what matters. What matters is that the world--humanity--is coalescing around a universal mode of communication. And if other languages die out as a result, then so be it.
Precisely. I see no point in teaching them in anything but English. They're children, if they don't know it, they will learn fast. In fact, teaching them in any other language would be a step backwards. 
I am not a native English speaker myself. I am Mexican. Yes, native Spanish speaker which is supposedly one of the top 3 most widely spoken languages on Earth and I must confess that most of the time I don't see the point in reading any content in Spanish anymore (except for some literature - in other words, yes, you probably want to read Shakespeare in English and Cervantes in Spanish, etc) 
Foreign news, science, technology in Spanish? all that content is nothing but translations (sometimes bad ones) from the original English source. I see how something could get posted on HN one day and only after many days (usually weeks) it would finally appear in the "Technology News" section of the most "cutting edge" newspapers and media in Latin America or Spain. 
I live here in Japan and most scientific papers and research from major universities (like Kyoto or Tokyo University) is also published in English. I think it's cute to try to keep one's traditions and culture alive but at the end of the day being able to communicate efficiently with each other and do stuff like hacking Android is what keeps the world spinning. Anything else in your way is just extra overhead.
on 28 October 2012
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
Stephen F. Roberts
on 27 October 2012
I learned something new today--a concept in cultural economics known as power distance. 

An influential Dutch researcher in cultural economics identified, in 1981, a cultural dimension he terms "power distance", defined as "the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally".
On PDI, scaled zero to one hundred, the U.S. scores 40 and China scores 80 (Russia scores 93).
Another dimension of significance is individualism, defined as "the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members".
On IDV the U.S. scores 91 and China 20 (Russia scores 39).
China (and Russia) value social cohesion along implicitly informative, i.e. highly contextual, information flows. Leaders are given tremendous leeway to do their jobs and are to be questioned only in cases of extreme breach of obligation, i.e. when they threaten social harmony.
Note that Russians, in surveys, explicitly prefer social stability to free speech and a free media. Chinese find the legalistic contortions American politicians have to go through to do something generally favoured as awkward and wasteful. We see allowing elites to enrich themselves off market reforms to help them buy into the idea of change as distasteful whereas from a social utilitarian perspective it's strategically kosher.
The next question that comes into my mind is, "Which countries have the lowest PDI?"

The answer, taken from ClearlyCultural.com: Austria--11, Israel--13, Demnark--18, New Zealand--22

I'd like to see (rather, I should create) a table that shows power distance, press freedom, corruption, etc. My guess is that we'd see the same global leaders (Austria, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Costa Rica), but it would still be an interesting exercise.
on 25 October 2012
Often times, non-profits and educational institutions have pretty lame mission statements--and even lamer tag lines. But hats off to IMSA, the Illinois Math & Science Academy, for coming up with something non-wishy-washy.

IMSA: igniting and inspiring creative, ethical scientific minds that advance the human condition. 
Who can argue with that. Well, if you're any kind of religious fundamentalist, you may want to.

And their beliefs:

  • All people have equal intrinsic worth.
  • All people have choices and are responsible for their actions.
  • Belonging to a community requires commitment to the common good.
  • Diverse perspectives enrich understanding and inspire discovery and creativity.
  • Honesty, trust and respect are vital for any relationship to thrive.
  • Learning never ends.
  • Meaning is constructed by the learner.
  • No one’s path in life is predetermined.
  • The ability to discern and create connections is the essence of understanding.
  • We are all stewards of our planet. 
I prefer these bullet points over the Ten Commandments.

on 22 October 2012

Akamai recently published its annual State of the Internet report, which can be found here.
If you scroll down to the bottom the page, there is a chart that lets you see average connection speeds in a country over time. It's an interesting display of information related to the growth of the internet across the world. 
From 2008 to 2011, the difference between Algeria and Macedonia is night and day. 
on 14 October 2012
Passion burns out, whereas greed is sustainable.
Yossi Kreinin
on 11 October 2012
Although I don't write nearly enough, one of the reasons that I do is to track my opinions and perspectives over time. I like to think that I am very progressive in the way that I think. If my thoughts are in line with reality, then most of my beliefs will change--evolve--as I age.

I came across a post on Quora that asks about the political leanings of The Economist. I'm including the best answer, which was written by the organization's digital editor below because I think it does a better job of explaining my current beliefs than anything I could put down in words. 

The Economist is not inherently left-wing or right-wing; its political philosophy is rooted in 19th-century Classical Liberalism of the John Stuart Mill variety. Essentially we are fans of Free Markets (The Economist was founded to oppose the Corn Laws) and individual choice. So we favour, for example, a small state and the abolition ofagricultural subsidies 
Generalising hugely,
  • Right-wing parties tend to be fiscally liberal but socially conservative; they think it's OK for companies to do what they like but want to intervene in people's private lives.
  • Left-wing parties tend to be keener on individual choice in private affairs but think they know better when it comes to spending people's money (via taxation) or regulating the market.
In France, a "liberal" is a right-winger keen on free markets; in the US, a "liberal" is a left-winger keen on letting people make their own personal choices. The Economist is liberal in both these senses.
In theory our position might be characterised as libertarian, but that term also has baggage: unlike many American libertarians, The Economist is in favour of gun control, for example, on the liberal ground that your freedom to do what you want (own lots of guns) ends where my freedom to do what I want (not being shot) begins. So, is The Economist left or right? The answer is yes and no. 
 I may have a different opinion on gun control, but I haven't put any real thought into the matter.
on 01 October 2012
Even with much of the world having instantaneous access to anyone's ideas from all over the world, we still see vacuums of improvement, innovation, and creativity. Why are some cities more maker-oriented than others? Why do some cities have more meetups than cities many times their size?

From Silicon Valley Watcher
I refer you to Foremski's Universal Constant of Kultura (Polish for culture, and for which there is no polite acronym) which states that ideas take about six months to travel about 3,000 miles.
I've noticed that It takes people in New York about 6 months to understand key ideas from Silicon Valley; and London and Europe takes about a year.
on 14 August 2012
Boredom is always your fault.
--Ben Newman
on 13 August 2012
The following letter, written by Ernst Stuhlinger on 6 May 1970, does an outstanding job of explaining why we should continue to spend finite resources on research and exploration. Instead of linking to the article, I'm copying it entirely; I think this is something worth rereading every so often.

Ernst Stuhlinger wrote this letter on May 6, 1970, to Sister Mary Jucunda, a nun who worked among the starving children of Kabwe, Zambia, in Africa, who questioned the value of space exploration. At the time Dr. Stuhlinger was Associate Director for Science at the Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. Touched by Sister Mary’s concern and sincerity, his beliefs about the value of space exploration were expressed in his reply to Sister Mary. It remains, more than four decades later, an eloquent statement of the value of the space exploration endeavor. Born in Germany in 1913, Dr. Stuhlinger received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tuebingen in 1936. He was a member of the German rocket development team at Peenemünde, and came to the United States in 1946 to work for the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas. He moved to Huntsville in 1950 and continued working for the Army at Redstone Arsenal until the Marshall Space Flight Center was formed in 1960. Dr. Stuhlinger received numerous awards and widespread recognition for his research in propulsion. He received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award for his part in launching of Explorer 1, America’s first Earth satellite.
ernst_stuhlinger_german_rocket_scientist.jpg (400×505)
Ernst Stuhlinger (1913-2008)
Dear Sister Mary Jucunda:
Your letter was one of many which are reaching me every day, but it has touched me more deeply than all the others because it came so much from the depths of a searching mind and a compassionate heart. I will try to answer your question as best as I possibly can.
First, however, I would like to express my great admiration for you, and for all your many brave sisters, because you are dedicating your lives to the noblest cause of man: help for his fellowmen who are in need.
You asked in your letter how I could suggest the expenditures of billions of dollars for a voyage to Mars, at a time when many children on this Earth are starving to death. I know that you do not expect an answer such as “Oh, I did not know that there are children dying from hunger, but from now on I will desist from any kind of space research until mankind has solved that problem!” In fact, I have known of famined children long before I knew that a voyage to the planet Mars is technically feasible. However, I believe, like many of my friends, that travelling to the Moon and eventually to Mars and to other planets is a venture which we should undertake now, and I even believe that this project, in the long run, will contribute more to the solution of these grave problems we are facing here on Earth than many other potential projects of help which are debated and discussed year after year, and which are so extremely slow in yielding tangible results.
Before trying to describe in more detail how our space program is contributing to the solution of our Earthly problems, I would like to relate briefly a supposedly true story, which may help support the argument. About 400 years ago, there lived a count in a small town in Germany. He was one of the benign counts, and he gave a large part of his income to the poor in his town. This was much appreciated, because poverty was abundant during medieval times, and there were epidemics of the plague which ravaged the country frequently. One day, the count met a strange man. He had a workbench and little laboratory in his house, and he labored hard during the daytime so that he could afford a few hours every evening to work in his laboratory. He ground small lenses from pieces of glass; he mounted the lenses in tubes, and he used these gadgets to look at very small objects. The count was particularly fascinated by the tiny creatures that could be observed with the strong magnification, and which he had never seen before. He invited the man to move with his laboratory to the castle, to become a member of the count’s household, and to devote henceforth all his time to the development and perfection of his optical gadgets as a special employee of the count.
The townspeople, however, became angry when they realized that the count was wasting his money, as they thought, on a stunt without purpose. “We are suffering from this plague,” they said, “while he is paying that man for a useless hobby!” But the count remained firm. “I give you as much as I can afford,” he said, “but I will also support this man and his work, because I know that someday something will come out of it!”
Indeed, something very good came out of this work, and also out of similar work done by others at other places: the microscope. It is well known that the microscope has contributed more than any other invention to the progress of medicine, and that the elimination of the plague and many other contagious diseases from most parts of the world is largely a result of studies which the microscope made possible.
The count, by retaining some of his spending money for research and discovery, contributed far more to the relief of human suffering than he could have contributed by giving all he could possibly spare to his plague-ridden community.
The situation which we are facing today is similar in many respects. The President of the United States is spending about 200 billion dollars in his yearly budget [more than $2 trillion in 2012]. This money goes to health, education, welfare, urban renewal, highways, transportation, foreign aid, defense, conservation, science, agriculture and many installations inside and outside the country. About 1.6 percent of this national budget was allocated to space exploration this year [less than .5 of one percent in 2012]. The space program includes Project Apollo, and many other smaller projects in space physics, space astronomy, space biology, planetary projects, Earth resources projects, and space engineering. To make this expenditure for the space program possible, the average American taxpayer with 10,000 dollars income per year is paying about 30 tax dollars for space. The rest of his income, 9,970 dollars, remains for his subsistence, his recreation, his savings, his other taxes, and all his other expenditures.
You will probably ask now: “Why don’t you take 5 or 3 or 1 dollar out of the 30 space dollars which the average American taxpayer is paying, and send these dollars to the hungry children?” To answer this question, I have to explain briefly how the economy of this country works. The situation is very similar in other countries. The government consists of a number of departments (Interior, Justice, Health, Education and Welfare, Transportation, Defense, and others) and the bureaus (National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and others). All of them prepare their yearly budgets according to their assigned missions, and each of them must defend its budget against extremely severe screening by congressional committees, and against heavy pressure for economy from the Bureau of the Budget and the President. When the funds are finally appropriated by Congress, they can be spent only for the line items specified and approved in the budget.
The budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, naturally, can contain only items directly related to aeronautics and space. If this budget were not approved by Congress, the funds proposed for it would not be available for something else; they would simply not be levied from the taxpayer, unless one of the other budgets had obtained approval for a specific increase which would then absorb the funds not spent for space. You realize from this brief discourse that support for hungry children, or rather a support in addition to what the United States is already contributing to this very worthy cause in the form of foreign aid, can be obtained only if the appropriate department submits a budget line item for this purpose, and if this line item is then approved by Congress.
You may ask now whether I personally would be in favor of such a move by our government. My answer is an emphatic yes. Indeed, I would not mind at all if my annual taxes were increased by a number of dollars for the purpose of feeding hungry children, wherever they may live.
I know that all of my friends feel the same way. However, we could not bring such a program to life merely by desisting from making plans for voyages to Mars. On the contrary, I even believe that by working for the space program I can make some contribution to the relief and eventual solution of such grave problems as poverty and hunger on Earth. Basic to the hunger problem are two functions: the production of food and the distribution of food. Food production by agriculture, cattle ranching, ocean fishing and other large-scale operations is efficient in some parts of the world, but drastically deficient in many others. For example, large areas of land could be utilized far better if efficient methods of watershed control, fertilizer use, weather forecasting, fertility assessment, plantation programming, field selection, planting habits, timing of cultivation, crop survey and harvest planning were applied.
The best tool for the improvement of all these functions, undoubtedly, is the artificial Earth satellite. Circling the globe at a high altitude, it can screen wide areas of land within a short time; it can observe and measure a large variety of factors indicating the status and condition of crops, soil, droughts, rainfall, snow cover, etc., and it can radio this information to ground stations for appropriate use. It has been estimated that even a modest system of Earth satellites equipped with Earth resources, sensors, working within a program for worldwide agricultural improvements, will increase the yearly crops by an equivalent of many billions of dollars.
The distribution of the food to the needy is a completely different problem. The question is not so much one of shipping volume, it is one of international cooperation. The ruler of a small nation may feel very uneasy about the prospect of having large quantities of food shipped into his country by a large nation, simply because he fears that along with the food there may also be an import of influence and foreign power. Efficient relief from hunger, I am afraid, will not come before the boundaries between nations have become less divisive than they are today. I do not believe that space flight will accomplish this miracle over night. However, the space program is certainly among the most promising and powerful agents working in this direction.
Let me only remind you of the recent near-tragedy of Apollo 13. When the time of the crucial reentry of the astronauts approached, the Soviet Union discontinued all Russian radio transmissions in the frequency bands used by the Apollo Project in order to avoid any possible interference, and Russian ships stationed themselves in the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in case an emergency rescue would become necessary. Had the astronaut capsule touched down near a Russian ship, the Russians would undoubtedly have expended as much care and effort in their rescue as if Russian cosmonauts had returned from a space trip. If Russian space travelers should ever be in a similar emergency situation, Americans would do the same without any doubt.
Higher food production through survey and assessment from orbit, and better food distribution through improved international relations, are only two examples of how profoundly the space program will impact life on Earth. I would like to quote two other examples: stimulation of technological development, and generation of scientific knowledge.
The requirements for high precision and for extreme reliability which must be imposed upon the components of a moon-travelling spacecraft are entirely unprecedented in the history of engineering. The development of systems which meet these severe requirements has provided us a unique opportunity to find new material and methods, to invent better technical systems, to manufacturing procedures, to lengthen the lifetimes of instruments, and even to discover new laws of nature.
All this newly acquired technical knowledge is also available for application to Earth-bound technologies. Every year, about a thousand technical innovations generated in the space program find their ways into our Earthly technology where they lead to better kitchen appliances and farm equipment, better sewing machines and radios, better ships and airplanes, better weather forecasting and storm warning, better communications, better medical instruments, better utensils and tools for everyday life. Presumably, you will ask now why we must develop first a life support system for our moon-travelling astronauts, before we can build a remote-reading sensor system for heart patients. The answer is simple: significant progress in the solutions of technical problems is frequently made not by a direct approach, but by first setting a goal of high challenge which offers a strong motivation for innovative work, which fires the imagination and spurs men to expend their best efforts, and which acts as a catalyst by including chains of other reactions.
Spaceflight without any doubt is playing exactly this role. The voyage to Mars will certainly not be a direct source of food for the hungry. However, it will lead to so many new technologies and capabilities that the spin-offs from this project alone will be worth many times the cost of its implementation.
Besides the need for new technologies, there is a continuing great need for new basic knowledge in the sciences if we wish to improve the conditions of human life on Earth. We need more knowledge in physics and chemistry, in biology and physiology, and very particularly in medicine to cope with all these problems which threaten man’s life: hunger, disease, contamination of food and water, pollution of the environment.
We need more young men and women who choose science as a career and we need better support for those scientists who have the talent and the determination to engage in fruitful research work. Challenging research objectives must be available, and sufficient support for research projects must be provided. Again, the space program with its wonderful opportunities to engage in truly magnificent research studies of moons and planets, of physics and astronomy, of biology and medicine is an almost ideal catalyst which induces the reaction between the motivation for scientific work, opportunities to observe exciting phenomena of nature, and material support needed to carry out the research effort.
Among all the activities which are directed, controlled, and funded by the American government, the space program is certainly the most visible and probably the most debated activity, although it consumes only 1.6 percent of the total national budget, and 3 per mille (less than one-third of 1 percent) of the gross national product. As a stimulant and catalyst for the development of new technologies, and for research in the basic sciences, it is unparalleled by any other activity. In this respect, we may even say that the space program is taking over a function which for three or four thousand years has been the sad prerogative of wars.
How much human suffering can be avoided if nations, instead of competing with their bomb-dropping fleets of airplanes and rockets, compete with their moon-travelling space ships! This competition is full of promise for brilliant victories, but it leaves no room for the bitter fate of the vanquished, which breeds nothing but revenge and new wars.
Although our space program seems to lead us away from our Earth and out toward the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars, I believe that none of these celestial objects will find as much attention and study by space scientists as our Earth. It will become a better Earth, not only because of all the new technological and scientific knowledge which we will apply to the betterment of life, but also because we are developing a far deeper appreciation of our Earth, of life, and of man.
“Earthrise,” one of the most powerful and iconic images from the Apollo program, was taken in December 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. This view of the rising Earth greeted the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the Moon after the first lunar orbit. Used as a symbol of the planet’s fragility, it juxtaposes the grey, lifeless Moon in the foreground with the blue and white Earth teeming with life hanging in the blackness of space.
The photograph which I enclose with this letter shows a view of our Earth as seen from Apollo 8 when it orbited the moon at Christmas, 1968. Of all the many wonderful results of the space program so far, this picture may be the most important one. It opened our eyes to the fact that our Earth is a beautiful and most precious island in an unlimited void, and that there is no other place for us to live but the thin surface layer of our planet, bordered by the bleak nothingness of space. Never before did so many people recognize how limited our Earth really is, and how perilous it would be to tamper with its ecological balance. Ever since this picture was first published, voices have become louder and louder warning of the grave problems that confront man in our times: pollution, hunger, poverty, urban living, food production, water control, overpopulation. It is certainly not by accident that we begin to see the tremendous tasks waiting for us at a time when the young space age has provided us the first good look at our own planet.
Very fortunately though, the space age not only holds out a mirror in which we can see ourselves, it also provides us with the technologies, the challenge, the motivation, and even with the optimism to attack these tasks with confidence. What we learn in our space program, I believe, is fully supporting what Albert Schweitzer had in mind when he said: “I am looking at the future with concern, but with good hope.”
My very best wishes will always be with you, and with your children.
Very sincerely yours,
Ernst Stuhlinger
Associate Director for Science
on 03 August 2012
People think in terms of ideas. Business is about opportunities that are then matched with solutions and execution in order to turn a profit.

on 01 August 2012
If you think that you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in the same room with a mosquito.

African Proverb
on 29 July 2012
Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.

Albert Schweitzer
on 26 July 2012
Besides, if I steadfastly avoided putting money in the hands of every last organization and institution that I despised, I'd hardly be able to make it out of the house in the morning, much less travel to post-Soviet countries. I pay taxes to a government that tortures and drone strikes people without trial, and lets banks rip off billions from the general public with no consequence. Do I love the idea of that? Not at all. But if you want to have a particular experience in this world (living in America, visiting North Korea) sometimes you have to give some assholes some money for it.
--gnarfox on Reddit 
on 28 June 2012
On parenting: 
Men, be humane. This is your first duty. Be humane with every station, every age, everything which is not alien to man. What wisdom is there for you but humanity?  Love childhood; promote its games, its pleasures, its amiable instinct. Who among you has not sometimes regretted that age when a laugh is always on the lips and the soul is always at peace? Why do you want to deprive these little innocents of the enjoyment of a time so short which escapes them and of a good so precious which they do not know how to abuse? Why do you want to fill with bitterness and pains these first years which go by so rapidly and can return no more for them than they can for you? Fathers, do you know the moment when death awaits your children? Do not prepare regrets for yourself in depriving them of the few instants nature gives them. As soon as they can sense the pleasure of being, arrange it so that they can enjoy it, arrange it so that at whatever hour God summons them they do not die without having tasted life.  --Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

on 16 June 2012
I just wrote to Iceland Express to let them know how great their telephone customer service is: 

Hello Friendly Icelanders, 
I was recently experiencing technical difficulties with your website--which I found out was due to my own mistakes. After a zero-minute wait to speak to an actual human, I received absolutely beautiful customer service from Elin. This happened about 9 minutes ago. 
Elin knew exactly what the problem was and told me she would correct it immediately. And then called me back instantaneously to confirm the changes. She was also extraordinarily helpful when I asked about where to go and what to see in Iceland for the week we'll be there. Based on her recommendation, my wife and I will go on a quest to see The Whales, starting in Husevik--which has a 98% success rate, as I was told. 
I don't usually write these kinds of emails to companies, but what I experience was such a stark contrast to the robotic, scripted interactions I usually come across in the US that I was just compelled to make an official record of this event. 
I think you should promote Elin, to either president or CEO. 
See you all next week, 
If you're reading this, then you might be contemplating a trip to Iceland. If so, I was told to take a look-see at Inspired by Iceland. Elin also suggested we checkout North Sailing, if we were interested in seeing The Whales. And this is where the Arctic starts: Grimsey.
on 29 February 2012
I was recently in Harare, Zimbabwe at a management meeting of one of the local media companies. Towards the end of the meeting, the chairman of the company asked all of his managers to write down two goals in a particular format: "DearSelf, I am writing to remind you of the goals you set in February."

Being that I wasn't a staff member, I didn't write anything down or turn anything in (the staff will be reviewing their letters in six month). But it's a great idea, so why not do so right here?

Dear Syed, 
 I am writing to remind you about the following goals you made in February.
1. Run one mile in eight minutes (I originally wrote 3 miles in 24 minutes, but let's be realistic).
2. Build a prototype of one of your ideas. 
3. Tell everyone you love that you do.
on 12 February 2012
I just finished Eating Animals, an extraordinarily well-written book about the factoring farming industry in America. As informative as it is, it leaves me searching for many more answers than it provides, such as (in no particular order):

1. Which countries have no factory farms and still practice small-scale animal husbandry?
2. Why don't any animal welfare organizations merge so that they can gain from an increased presence?
3. There is clearly a market for humanely raised meat, so why aren't there more vendors of field-harvest wild game?
4. Why do so many meat-eaters become so defensive about their actions; why don't people just say, "I know I am contributing to extreme suffering, and I really don't care."

At this time, I don't consider myself a vegetarian, though I tend to eat like one. I prefer not to contribute to the conditions found in factory farms if I can help it, so my wife (who is a vegetarian) and I end up eating a lot of rice and beans. I have no qualms with death or with the fact that meat is flesh. I do, however, have an issue with prolonged and immeasurable suffering. If I had easy access to field-harvested wild game, then I'd be a regular customer (one such vendor is Broken Arrow Ranch). But I live in the middle of Easter Europe now, where I don't speak the language or know how to get what. So for the time-being, rice and beans it is.

"Not responding is a response--we are equally responsible for what we don't do." p226.
"On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution" (31 March 1968)
on 27 January 2012
When the internet fails you, make more internet.
--Dan Shapiro

"Where should I respectfully disagree with someone and where, for the sake of deeper values, should I take a stand and ask others to stand with me? Where do agreed-upon facts leave room for reasonable people to disagree and where do they demand we all act?"
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer; page 199, paragraph 3:
on 16 January 2012
A couple of months ago one of my friends mentioned that she was interested in working at a zoo. Actually, she was interested in enrolling in a 2-year program that would qualify her to work as a zookeeper (at a community college somewhere outside of Los Angeles). My friend, Shannon, is also a vegetarian, so I thought her interest in zoo-keeping was a bit odd. So I asked her.

"What are your thoughts on zoos?" She responded that she understood that the animals they led a more or less miserable existence. But that their sacrifice was necessary in order for the public to have greater exposure and understanding of animals in general. With greater publicity and understanding will come more conservation efforts and, possibly, more loving of animals and less eating of them. At the time, I thought the argument was valid. Now, however, I no longer do. 

I base my new conclusion on the work of the National Geographic Society. I have no data to support my belief, but I'd be willing to bet that there is not a single zoo in the world that has fostered greater awareness of animals and their environments than National Geographic. And I'm pretty sure they haven't used many cages in the process.