Monday, December 31, 2007

Baby Items

I have a baby.

One problem I've had recently is securing her while changing her diaper. The basic idea to help this is to make some sort of harness that would secure the baby's legs and/or arms during changing. A search on Google Patents yields the following result. I think an elevated device to secure the legs might come in handy.

A refrigerated food dispenser that is simple enough to be operated by a baby would enable baby's to feed themselves on their own schedules, without parental help. This would be similar to the water dispensers used for gerbils. The device would have to avoid mess by limiting the despense, and prevent spoiling of liquids by refrigeration.

Touch Type

Why do standard keyboards only have 2 keys that give any indication of what they are via touch? Keys F and J have little bumps that indicate to the user the key that their finger is touching.

Why not have different types of bumps for different keys? In the same way that blind people learn to read braille, the typist will, over time, learn to quickly recognize the textures and identify them with different keys.

This would enable touch-typing even when disoriented or with one hand.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Split Chair.

Sometimes a table's legs get in the way of sitting comfortably at the table. The leg of the table keeps the chair and you at a distance from the table.

A simple solution is to have a chair with a split down the middle big enough to fit the leg of the table in it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tabs = Windows

Have you ever wanted to look at two tabs in your browser at the same time? As far as I know, FireFox doesn't have any function to "detach" tabs.

If you could detach, resize and reposition browser tabs, they would mimic the function of desktop windows. You could have a "virtual desktop" of sorts running in your browser.

Being able to use tabs as windows would further the dependence of the user experience on any specific OS. I wonder if this is why Microsoft was the last to enable tabbed browsing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Improbable Sensation

The more unusual a phenomena is, the more sensational it can be. In other words, a common event is not sensational. Or at least it is difficult to describe in sensational terms.

The news media business depends on people being interested in the information they offer. Because sensational occurrences grab the attention of the observer more readily, they frequent news media in a much greater proportion than they do in the real world. In other words, improbable events fill the news.

Hence, if one were to assess the probability of occurrence for one of the many improbable events described in the news based on the frequency of those descriptions, they would end up with an assessment that is very far from accurate.

Oddly enough, the opposite is true about financial media. The financial media typically makes sensational descriptions of some of the most un-sensational news. That gives the reader the impression that everyday events are uncommon and more significant than they really are. I suppose that it's because most people are only interested in what they are invested in or the general economy at large. Hence, opportunity to grab the reader is limited to either stocks that a very large portion of the target audience is invested in, or something that reflects on the entire economy. Within those guidelines, they make it as sensational as they can.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Light Pollution

Light Pollution annoys many would be star-gazers by effectively cutting them off from the rest of the universe. Why should anybody be limited from catching a glimpse of what the universe looks like beyond our tiny planet's atmosphere? The simple answer is that public lighting benefits the general population much more than star-gazing does.

Nevertheless, I've speculated on a relatively easy way to see through light pollution. Much of the light pollution in the modern age is generated from sodium vapor lamps, or other types of fluorescent lamps. Because of the way fluorescent lamps work, many times their light is monochromatic or limited to a few frequencies and wavelengths. However, starlight isn't as limited. Hence, you could make a filter that would generate the highest ratio between starlight / light pollution by filtering out frequencies commonly used by fluorescent lamps, and letting in frequencies commonly emitted by the stars. This sort of filter is referenced in this article.

You could make goggles with filters, with with blinds that would block light from the side.

Goldsten's Law

Murphy's Law, and its variations are pessimistic. Why should anybody adopt such a negative adage as having truth, when really there is no reason why the opposite is any less true.

Anything that can go right will go right.

If something bad, wrong or problematic happens, it was inevitable. While being just as true as Murphy's, its not as funny as Murphy's, which reduces its usefulness significantly. I suppose it could have use as a motivational poster of some sort.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Easy to Believe.

Ever find yourself accidentally cutting people off when you have something you really want to say? Because you really want the other to finish speaking, you'll easily believe that he is actually done speaking when he makes a small pause. However, the duration of a pause that will convince you that he is done will be much smaller than when you aren't so eager to speak.

In general, the more you want something to be true, the easier it is for you to believe that it is.

That may also be why there are so many gamblers, smokers, and religions. That's also may be why crystal ball readers give positive readings more often than not.

ADD isn't ADD

One of the signs of ADD is being often distracted. However, "spacing out" is an activity that is popularly associated with persons with ADD.

However, really the two phenomena are indicative of opposite traits. Someone who is easily distract-able should be acutely aware of what is going on around him. However, hyper-focusing is a trait found in people with ADD.

How can it be that the two traits coincide?

I think that the answer is that part of ADD ( and there are different types of ADD ) is not so much the inability to focus, but a lack of control over that focus. That would explain how the same person who is easily distracted by what is going around him can super-focus on a topic of interest.

Hence, ADD really isn't necessarily "attention deficit" at all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Non-Conventional Medicine & Science.

One of the problems with scientific medicine is that it becomes difficult to develop when the principles don't apply objectively.

For example, principles of proper diet tend to be subjective. Some people are allergic or sensitive to some things, while others are not. Hence, conventional medicine has little to say about diet besides problems that are almost objective such as weight gain, and toxic substances.

Because of that difficulty, scientific support for genuine medicinal facts in subjective areas can be retarded. This problem is aggravated, because FDA approval is dependent on scientific data.

Hence, it may be that alternative medicine fields have knowledge that the general medical community lacks.

In other words, not everything true can be proven.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

PDA Keyboard Idea

There are two common ways to input text to a PDA: using a stylus, and using a mini-keyboard.

The drawbacks of a stylus is that it is prone to mistakes, and takes just as long as writing by hand.
The drawbacks of a mini keyboard are that it is difficult to cram your fingers on the buttons, and you have to rest the PDA on a surface in order to type with both hands.

Yesterday I had a great idea. You simply put the keyboard on the back of the PDA, and touch type. I think the images do a better job than words of describing how it works.

4 fingers are on the back to type with, and the thumbs are free to use as pointing devices. The space bar would be in the top front. The keyboard and screen can then take up an entire side of the device, and you can hold it as you type.

The true hallmark of a good idea is that it's been done before. This idea is so good that in 2001, Xuan Ni of San Jose, California patented it. You can see it here, on Google Patents.

I have some ideas on why its never been popularized, but I don't know for sure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Wise and The Foolish

The foolish cannot understand the wise, and the wise cannot understand the foolish.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Education & Intelligence

There are many ways to define intelligence. I recall having debates in psychology class back in the day over whether intelligence is due to "Nature or Nurture". The reality is that just about every trait exhibited in man is a combination of nature and nurture.

In the modern era, where there is abundant knowledge, one who has access to and takes advantage of the great wealth of knowledge already developed has a significant advantage over one who doesn't. The access to that information gives a good head start, that can compensate for inferior intelligence.

I could put it simply: Education is more important than Intelligence.

I suppose this rule holds more in fields where there has been great consecutive sequential development, such as mathematics and medicine. However, in new fields or ones that have a disorganized structure, this rule finds less expression.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hierarchy of Governments

This article describes a situation, and then suggests form of government that could perform well given the situation.

The Situation.
1. Globalization has turned many of the ways that countries remain independent into obstacles. For example, as global trade increases, tariffs and border security become greater and greater obstacles. Differences in law, currency and language are becoming greater burdens to mankind.

Global trade can be very helpful because it encourages the efficient use of resources and enables the specialization of entire countries into one sector. Measures to ensure that a single country can survive without any external help may be necessary for countries that live with the threat of embargo.

This line of reasoning

2. Technology empowers the individual. On the one hand, people are dependent on others for the supply of utilities and Internet. On the other hand, once an individual has those elements taken care of, he is capable of doing many things that an individual wasn't capable of doing many years ago. Similarly, small countries have been given a degree of power that did not exist before the existence of rapid global communication. Outsourcing of labor enables small economies to benefit and even compete with the rest of the world. Technological advances enable a small police and military force to maintain peace. International consultation enables small governments to make proper, well educated decisions.

A suggestion.
The question is, in what direction are governments moving: toward unification as part of greater states, or toward division into smaller states? The advance of technology drives man in both directions. I think a model that takes the best of both individuality and union is a hierarchy of governments. This model has been implemented in the EU and USA. The model enables unity and similarity where possible and differences where necessary.

Ultimately, a hierarchy could unite all the countries in the world, but since there are so few things that all of mankind agrees with, its domain would be limited. Regions with distinct culture, such as the Muslim Middle East could create their own union, and so forth. Of course, Israel would have trouble placing itself because it's not comfortably part of Africa, Europe or Arabia.

A corollary of the above suggestion that mankind is moving toward this model, is that in international relations, countries should encourage this sort of hierarchy as opposed to absolute union or Independence.

International Competition

As geographical boundaries continue to become less of on obstacle, the competition between for countries for people worth money will become very real.

This means that governments will be inclined to introduce systems into the government that favor those worth money, in attempts to lure the wealthy to live in and do business in their countries. This could lead to a deficiency of equal treatment of citizens.

The counter to this phenomena are at least three factors:

a. Not everybody who has money is worth money, and not everybody who is worth money has money. There are those with yet unrealized potential.

b. Not everybody who is worth money would want to risk living in a country that favors them. The reason is that nobody can ensure that his children will be worth money. Hence, the notion of living in a country that would treat his children unfairly is not attractive. This type of hedge is part of what motivates governments to provide services equally.

c. The poor masses revolt. This means that the wealthy government must treat the poor fairly to the extent that they won't revolt.

Monday, July 9, 2007

International Obvervation & Foreign Influence.

Although foreign observation of the political activities is positive in that it should prevent any wrongdoing go unnoticed, it has two drawbacks.

1. First of all, it undermines the observed countries democratic system. That means that the international pressure on the observed government can be strong, so the government doesn't necessarily heed the desires of the country.

This was highlighted in the recent Israeli Disengagement operation. Although Israeli PM Sharon went to great lengths to gain a green light from the white-house for the operation, no national referendum was conducted, despite significant evidence indicating that legislative representatives weren't voting in accordance with their electors' desire.

2. Foreign powers can be misinformed about the situation, or have ulterior motives preventing them from judging the case properly.

This might be the case in Iraq. The US populace was misinformed, and the executive government had ulterior motives. In the end, it can be questioned whether the Iraq War has been beneficial to the Iraqi public.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Getting Out.

I have a feeling that the best way to use blogs to spread ideas, is via posting comments on popular blogs.

Different Governmental Organizations.

The ideal Government should have a number of different organizations to facilitate checks and balances.

Let's take a step back first. The reason why checks and balances are important, is because democracy is not about "majority wins". The ideal government is for everybody, not just the majority. The checks and balances are put in place in order to protect the rights of the minority.

At present there are two popular ways to organize representation:
a. Geography.
b. Political orientation.

In order to develop government further, we shouldn't be satisfied with the present popular ways of dividing representation.

Really, there are two systems I'm talking about.

a. The central governmental body , (such as parliament, or congress etc.) consists of representatives organized by some system(s).

b. The lower-level governments are divided up by some system. (usually based on location).

It should be no secret that the reason I think so much about this stuff is my frustration with the present Israeli system.

On that note, I'd like to suggest some different ways they could organize local governments and parliament.

Lets start with local governments:
1. They(we? you?) could divide the land up into pieces that have the same area. This would ensure relative fairness even if the population density changes.

2. It could be divided up into pieces that have equal numbers of residents at present.

3. It could be divided up into pieces that have equal economic value. I like this one, because its different.

4. dunno.

I want to describe the two extremes that you can go in with a parliament system based on political sentiment and location.

One one hand, you have a system that people vote for representatives that match their own political sentiments. The benefit of this system is that it gives a scattered minority voice in the government. The problem is that the organization of political parties might result in many people not finding accurate representation for all of their sentiments. Because the party only caters to its own, it doesn't feel the need for general appeal, making the parties and representatives stubborn, violent and offensive.

On the other hand, you have a system by which every location has one representative. The benefits of this system are that it promotes stability by emphasizing the center, and de-emphasizing the extreme. Another benefit, is that any candidate must strive for general appeal in order to win the election, promoting political correctness, open debate and intelligent, thought out compromises.

A mix of these two systems would happen if each locality would have more than one representative, like in the US congress.

I think the ideal system would have some sort of mix or combination of the two extremes. I wonder how a system with 3 bodies (of 100 reprisentatives ) could work:

a. One body of 100 people organized by political party.
b. One body 100 people, each one from 100 different geographic divisions, each one being the most popular in his division.
c. One body of 100 people, 10 from each of 10 different geographic divisions, being the top 10 in their division..

Really, the party voting system is pretty bad. I think it should be done away with entirely. Can any body point out even one benefit of that system? Let's nix it.

a. One body of 100 people, being the most popular 100 in the nation.
b. One body 100 people, each one from 100 different geographic divisions
c. One body of 100 people, 10 from each of 10 different geographic divisions, being the top 10 in their division.

Social Evolution.

Lets say that we want our economic / social development to incorporate a neo-evolutionary system to help it develop.

We can divide neo-evolutionary (from now on evolutionary) development into two parts:
a. Random Mutation.
b. Survival of the Fittest.

The way that the economy provides for Survival of the Fittest (SOF) is via capitalism. This is how society pushes the cream up, and the crud down.

The way that the society provides for "Random Mutation" is via the various social services that are provide equally to all. ( In the US, its public education, municipal infrastructure etc.)

From this perspective, we can easily see why absolute socialism and capitalism are doomed. Socialism, because it makes it very difficult to promote productivity, meaning that the crud and cream are mixed. Capitalism, because the existing cream needs to be constantly challenged and tweaked.

Culture organized by Geography.

One of the problems that modern government is faced with is cultural diversity within one geographic entity.

In the old days cultures were pretty much defined by location. NY had its own culture, as did Kyoto and Damascus. Because one's main influence was from the more immediate surroundings, cultures ended up being tied to location.

With the advent of global commerce, travel and information, one's cultural and practical makeup is not as geographically centered as before.

This leads to a number of government problems:

a. The use of dividing a government into local governments is not as effective as it once was. This solution is still effective, to the extent that cultures are organized by location.

b. Although cultures aren't organized by location, they do exist. This means that large parts of society can end up under-represented in the government. For example, if 25% of the US is a member of the KKK, the senate may still lack a Klansman, if the members are distributed evenly across the states.

Any other ideas?

Lonely Blog. Accommodation.

I recently sent a group email to all my friends and relatives in a sorry attempt to publish the blog. Unfortunately, most of the emails were blocked by spam filters. I did get some responses, but only one of real substance.

However, what I really want to talk about is the two types of accommodation that any government or legal system should incorporate.

Type 1: Accommodation over time. This means that as the sentiments of the nation change, so will the legal system.

Type 2: Accommodation over change in demography. This means that the legal system can accommodate for different sentiments present in different people.

Type 1 Accommodation is relatively easy to design. All you have to do is create a system by which the most essential laws are more difficult to change, and the more peripheral laws are easy to change.

Type 2 Accommodation is more difficult to design, because of the many ways that differences in sentiments can be distributed.

The most obvious way to accommodate for geographically arranged diversity is by having representation organized by location, and having local government systems.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Why we can't travel in time.

It just occurred to me why time travel may not be possible. That is because time isn't necessarily a dimension.

The main reason people think of time as a dimension is because physics models use time as a dimension just like space, and it works well.

However, just because you can model time as a dimension, doesn't mean that it is a dimension. I can model an image on a flash disk using *.jpg format. However, the binary conforming to the jpg format isn't an image at all. In the same way, time doesn't have to be a dimension, and the past and future don't necessarily exist.

By the way, really the same may be true of the other 3 dimensions as well.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Legal Hirearchy as a Source of Stability & Accomidation

A stable legal system has many benefits. Lets list some:

1. Stable laws help businesses and other organizations formulate long term plans.

2. Many times laws are created as a result of cultural norms and sentiments. However, often cultural norms and sentiments are a result the laws. For instance, in the US, freedom of speech isn't just a law that is a result of a general cultural sentiment. The fact that is encoded into the constitution has become the source for the validity of that sentiment. Over time, US citizens have come to identify th US Constitution as a definitive source of moral standard and good culture. This sort of bond between culture and law can only be attained over a long period of time. Among the benefits of this bond are respect for the law, and patriotism.
That being said, the benefits of a stable legal system are a stable culture.

3. Stable laws promote the image of the government as an authority.

4. Stable laws promote the image of a correlation between the laws and objective good or bad. If representatives were to arrive at some objective truth to base the law on, the law shouldn't change ever. If the laws change often, it means that there is no real basis for the law.

5. Stable laws reduce the number of new, un-refined laws. Some of the problems with new laws are that they haven't been tested (so they could be wrong) and that thy may contain loopholes.

The problem with a stable legal system, is that it can be un-accomidating to changes in culture & moral sentiments and changes in facts on the ground. An un-accomidating system could lead to the following problems:

1. Statewide instability. If the moral and cultural sentiments that a law is based on change, than a large part of the community will not be satisfied with the legal system.

2. Legal Inaccuracy: If the facts on the ground (such as economic facts) warrant an unmade change in law, an un-accommodating legal system can harm the country.

The way to properly blend stability and accommodation is via a hierarchal legal system. That means that the government should have a system composed of different grades of laws. The most fundamental laws be more difficult to establish and change, and the less fundamental laws be easier to change. With a carefully designed system like that, any government should be able to weather the changes of time, without having to sacrifice cultural stability.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Israel as a Government Research Center.

Israel is positioned to become THE developer of significant advances in Governmental systems. This is because the situation in Israel is so challenging.

The world is faced with 2 options concerning Israel. If we are to divide the land in 2, one side for Arabs, and one side for Israelis, that we are giving up on government. We are saying that it is impossible for one government to accommodate that specific demography. Should we say that? Is that true? Is it true that sometimes people simply can't coexist under one army and government?

In my opinion, if we can put a man on the moon, we can come up with a government that can handle the situation peacefully. I think its just a matter of taking all the intellectual efforts invested in cutting the place up into pieces or plotting the destruction of much of it and directing them to devising a new government system that can accommodate everybody.

The reason why development of such a system is essential for mankind is very simple. The modern era has given birth to diverse cultures within one geographic entity. Muslims live in London too. So do Jews. So do Christians. I am sure that the sort of political upheaval and religio-cultural struggle occurring in Israel today will present its ugly face in many parts of the word. The world must devise a solution better than cutting countries apart, or it faces great dangers.

Civil War & Israel.

Upon consideration, it seems to me that the Civil War might have been a mistake.

Essentially, there were 3 possible ways the struggle over slavery could have been resolved:
1. One side forcing the other to comply.
2. Splitting the union in two.
3. Letting the south decide for itself whether it should legalize slavery or not.

Was option number 1 the best one to pick? Options 2 or3 would have saved the 100,000 or so soldiers who died in the war. Furthermore, I have a feeling that international political developments and trends would have effectively forced the South to end slavery eventually.

Why is it so obvious to Americans that the best way to handle the slavery crisis was with option 1?

Taking analogy to the present political situation in Israel, we are presented with the same 3 options. It seems obvious to the global audience, and the Israeli government, that the proper way to handle the crisis is via option 2. Option 1 is ruled out due to the negative effects of war.

What's wrong with option 3?
Neither Israeli's or Palestinians like #3 because both prefer segregation over coexistence. Option 2 is impractical because the geographic areas involved aren't big enough, or naturally distinguished.

I think that highlights the main difference between the Civil War and the Israeli crisis:
Israelis don't like Arabs, and Arabs don't like Israelis. On the other hand, Northerners didn't have a problem with Southerners, it was just a relatively superficial policy they didn't like.

While I'm on the topic, I'd like to point out that the Civil War really highlights the fact that much of what the US has come to stand for didn't really exist until recently. The constitution should have implied a ban on slavery, but didn't. In fact, the ideals of equality for all weren't really implemented until the '60s. It took America 200 years to figure out what it stood for. (?)

That said, it seems to me that the discovery of the American style government, with a constitution, checks & balances, and democratic representation was stumbled upon not because of the great moral vision of the founders, but only because the practical situation necessitated it. The situation of 13 weak colonies desiring independence obviated the need for such a system. Without that system, the colonies wouldn't have been able to band together despite cultural, religious, political and geographic differences like they did.

Going back to Israel, we can arrive on a couple of points:
1. It can take a long time for a country find itself.
2. Twisted morals and gross errors can thrive for long times too.
3. I'll leave this one for the next blog.

Democracy, and Government as a service.

Here are some thoughts on government.

1. One of the key developments of modern government is the definition of the role of the government as a lowly provider of service to the people.

That said, loyalty to the government should only go so far as that government is acting in the best interests of its people.

2. Democracy is the tool by which the populace expresses its opinions. A perfect democracy wouldn't have Representatives, it would simply defer all the decision making to the public. In the modern era, this would really be possible using the Internet. The main problem with this is that the public is often wrong. Ultimately, we end up with a conflict between expertise, and good intentions. That means, that if we leave the decision making up to the public, we'll often end up making unwise decisions. However, if we give experts unequal weight in the decision making, we increase the risk of corruption.

In the end, it seems that there must be some sort of compromise, or combination of the two.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Socialism & Capitalism.

One of the problems with socialism, is that it appeals primarily to 2 groups: the idealistic wealthy, and the poor. Some poor people are genuinely oppressed by the system, but most are poor because of their poor contributions to the public. Hence, most poor supporters of socialism are looking for a free ride. So, socialism appeals to most as a way to distribute the wealth in disproportion to contribution, which is a spell for disaster.

Because Socialism is forwarded most strongly by those who will benefit financially from it, it can't claim to be any more altruistic than capitalism.

Another problem is that the same problems which cause capitalist economics to become abusive also cause socialist models to be abused. That problem is the selfish human nature. Because man's intellect can find loopholes in just about any system, a socialist organization can succumb to selfishness as well. It just has a different expression than in capitalism. In capitalism, its form is underpaying employees, cartelisms and cheating others. In socialism, it is lack of motivation, and abuse of resources by governing bodies.

I think the real deciding factor between socialism and capitalism, is that capitalism is self-maintaining. That means that capitalism can iron out any new developments and problems without re-building the system. Socialism, is fixed and artificial. Whenever a socialist structure is encountered by new realities, it tends to fold.

In the defence of socialism, I'll state the following idea. People are social animals for a reason. That is, social behavior has its place. I think when resources are truly scarce, the benefits of social behaviour outweigh the problems. When there is plenty, the benefits of capitalism outweigh the problems.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Employment vs. Business ownership.

Upon consideration, in general, employment is the best option for someone who specializes in a specific field. On the other hand, running a business is best suited for somebody who has many varied skills.