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.