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Kleptocracy masquerading as meritocracy

Some election thing is going on in Hungary. Not with ballots mailed to voters to be voted at designated polling places but some declaration of allegiance to one of the opposition candidates expressed at tents set up for this purpose by each candidate. Not really understanding the whole thing, I have refrained from exercising my civic right.

I was asked at a recent dinner with good friends what the greatest problems and potential solutions are. Well, it is complicated, so I laid out my thoughts in bullet form. If you need clarification, you know where to find me.

  • Radical humanism

    • More that unites than sets apart
      • We have far more in common with each other than differences between us
      • Focusing on our common goals works better than exploiting our differences
    • Love is the answer
      • No, Sex? is the question and Yes! is the answer
        • Is a joke spread in singles’ bars
        • Deeper truth: life works better when approached with love and compassion
        • Not with enmity, ill will or malicious intent
      • How love manifests in behaviors is what elevates us
        • The key is what motivates action
        • To do the right thing for the wrong reason
          • “The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.” — T.S. Eliot
          • “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
          • Do NOT avoid doing the right thing
          • Ensure your intentions, motivations and aims are clear and noble
        • Look at problems and opportunities from a higher plane of thought
          • Put the problem in context
          • Know its sources, inputs, environment and effects
        • Problems can only be solved where (context) they are defined or created
          • Social problems with legal means?
          • Health issues with regulatory enforcement?
          • Ideological problems with military means?
        • Stifle ego-driven demands and urges, avoid judgments
          • Ego makes demands (more: not enough; better: not good enough)
          • Based on false assumptions of scarcity and perfection
        • Find the proper role for the ego
          • Who is running your life, making important choices? Ego? Higher Self?
          • Expressed as: rational mind (thoughts), heart (feelings), gut (intuitions)
          • Or some other, undefinable part of Self?
          • Role for the ego: to assess, analyze and advise – not decide
        • Make choices, decisions for the greatest good, fully accepting responsibility for consequences
          • Extra bonus: this is the path to self-confidence!
          • Mean well: Have clear and noble intentions, motivations and goals.
        • Tune out rationalizations, biases and false narratives
          • Powerful ego can rationalize the most senseless acts
          • Everyone has biases, e.g.: confirmation bias, selection bias, information bias
          • The media is full of false narratives: ALL narratives are false, abstractions
          • Influenced by the biases of writers, editors, publishers
        • Be constructive, be a resource, create value and be of service, help each other
        • Educate by being, enlightening and inspiring
          • Being: set an example, act in ways you want to be treated
          • Enlighten: teach how to think, not what to think
          • Inspire: paint an inspired, evolved vision of how things could be


A simple question, "Should the US and NATO troops withdaw from Afghanistan?" has no simple answer, but a rather complex one. The simplistic answer is, "Of course, because we should have never been there in the first place." But as one might expect, simplistic answers are often without merit.

So why were we there in the first place? President Joe Biden said to fight terrorism. Therein lies logical fallacy number two: one cannot wage a war on terrorism any more than a war against lying and cheating. Terrorism is not an enemy but a tactic an enemy might use against us and one cannot win a war against a tactic. The source of terrorism is a difference in ideology: Islam vs. Judeo-Christiandom.

This leads us to fallacy number one: a problem can only be solved in the domain in which it is defined, where it is created. One cannot solve an arithmetic problem with a hammer any more than an ideological conflict with military means or a health crisis with legal means. We simply must stop fighting wars that cannot be won.

A military must have a clear mission: an indentifiable and identified enemy as well as a crisp vision of victory. In the absence of these, winning is not possible. Is it possible that the purpose of the wars in Aghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries was not victory but to just wage wars at a cost of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars?

Yes, we should have withdrawn from Afghanistan. (America doesn't lose wars, we just withdraw.) However, the withdrawal should have been painstakingly planned to ensure the protection and security of evacuees and the assets deployed, which was clearly lacking. This is not to assign blame, because when faced with something having gone awry, I am only interested in three things: how to fix it, how to prevent it from happening again and what we can learn from the experience.

How to fix it? Forget about some arbitrary deadline someone pulled out of the air. Use all available resources to protect and secure the evacuees and resources deployed. How to prevent it? Should a similar situation arise, painstakingly plan the process of evacuation for the safe removal of personnel and materiel. What have we learned? I hope this post answers the question.

If you liked the post — weather you agree with it or not — would you post a link to it far and wide so I may learn form insightful comments? I would appreciate it.

From Data to Wisdom

Never have so many been interested in data mining, machine learning, BIG data and artificial intelligence. The phrases have become the linchpins of many a successful career. Yet, the deeper understanding of how data becomes wisdom often eludes us. I will attempt to add a bit of clarity.

6. That is a piece of data. Meaningless, right? Six what? What does it mean? Data becomes information with context. If we add context, as in "There are six chairs in this conference room," it gains meaning, it becomes information. Perhaps not very useful info, but info nonetheless.

Information becomes knowledge when experience is added to it. If we add to the above information the experience expressed as the average number of people attending meetings in this room over the past two years is eight, the highest number was 11 and the lowest was two with a standard deviation of 1.8, then we have some knowledge that may lead to a decision to order two or three more chairs.

Now for the tough part: how does knowledge become wisdom, especially actionable wisdom? There are many knowledgable people in the world but very few wise ones. It might be educational to ponder the reasons for this, but that is not my goal. Knowledge becomes wisdom when it is used to achieve some noble and worthwhile goal. Knowledge for its own sake is like traveling without a destination. It might be enjoyable and fun but devoid a higher purpose.

Enough said. I'll see you in a year unless I have something to say sooner.