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  • Refusal to Follow Scientific Guidance Results in Worms Evolving to Eat Corn Designed to Kill The Worms

    An understanding of natural selection and evolution is fundamental to understanding science, biology, human health and life. Scientists create wonderful products to improve our lives: vaccines, antibiotics, etc.; if we don’t use them or misuse them it is a great loss to society.

  • Deming and Software Development

    "Dr. Deming’s ideas are about finding ways to improve the effectiveness and reliability of delivering value going forward. That idea is natural for many software developers. I find that software developers understand the value of designing the process to achieve repeatable success over the long term more than others (including managers)."

  • Bako National Park, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia

    Bako National Park is a wonderful location less than an hour outside of Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo.

    I only spent a day in the park. There are several intersecting trails. The “small” loop trail includes the Lintang trail and intersects with Pandan Kecil path, Pandan Basar path and more. I hiked through several trails and completely exhausted myself, actually. It was a wonderful hike.

  • Kleptocrat CEOs and Their Apologists

    "These CEOs act like kleptocrat dictators, taking what they can and challenging anyone to do anything about it. As with the kleptocrats they surround themselves with apologists and spread around the looting (from corporate treasuries for the CEO and the countries for the dictators) to those that support their kleptocrat ways.'

  • Chart of Net Government Debt from 1980 to 2013 by Country

    Bloomberg converted the data to look at debt load per person (looking at gross debt – estimated for 2014). Japan has ill-fortune to lead in this statistic with $99,725 in debt per person (242% of GDP), Ireland is in second with $60, 356 (121% of GDP). USA 3rd $58,604 (107%). Singapore 4th $56,980 (106%). Italy 6th $46,757 (133%). UK 9th $38,939 (95%). Greece 12th $38,444 (174%). Germany 14th $35,881 (78%). Malaysia 32nd $6,106 (57%). China 48th $1,489 (21%). India 53rd $946 (68%). Indonesia 54th $919 (27%).

  • Modified Cockroach Portfolio

    I think something along the lines of this would make sense today for someone living in the USA (but I would vary it a fair bit depending on the person’s situation and it would change in different market conditions)

    • 35% Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
    • 15% Total International Stock Index Fund (VGTSX)
    • 10% Vanguard emerging markets fund (VWO), or something similar
    • 20% high quality “dividend aristocrat” type stocks
    • 10% REIT Index Fund (VGSIX) or direct real estate ownership
    • 5% bonds
    • 5% cash
  • Why Don’t All Ant Species Replace Queens in the Colony, Since Some Do

    There are lots of examples of method is very effective at creating lots of successful offspring but happens to be less than ideal in some situations. Natural selection is pretty amazing and awesome at creating effective genes but we certainly can look at the results sometimes and see improvements that would be useful.

    Likely if losing the queen was very common a good way of dealing with that would be found (or that species would be disadvantaged and at risk). If the queen happens to evolve to being very reliable (and able to produce offspring that produce more - often by leaving to found new colonies) coping with her death becomes less important.

  • Amazon Using a Costco Strategy?

    Amazon Prime is in some ways is similar to Costco’s membership fees. Costco make the vast majority of their profit on membership fees and largely breaks even otherwise.

    Amazon Prime costs $79 a year (in the USA) and provides free 2 day shipping and access to their streaming video content. Amazon doesn’t disclose the numbers of prime members (that I can find anyway) but educated guesses seem to say 20 million (or more). That would be $1.6 billion a year.

    Amazon’s net income for the full year was $274 million. Fees for Prime customers were $1.6 billion

  • Politicians Playing Special Interests and Visa Versa

    the special interest can pay or cajole politicians to give them a benefit that helps them a lot (they can pay the politician a portion of their benefit and still have a huge gain) while society loses, no one loses enough to care enough to try and pay or cajole politicians to save society from a big loss.

  • Email Isn't the Problem

    I find there are plenty of times when email is a great tool (for example: providing background material in advance of discussions). Yes, often email is misused and there are plenty of bad processes around email. But it isn't very sensible to say we shouldn't use a hammer (email) because when we use it to cut paper it isn't very useful.  We shouldn't misuse a tool; that doesn't mean we shouldn't use the tool properly.

  • USA Health Expenditures Reached $2.8 trillion in 2012: $8,915 per person and 17.2% of GDP

    health care spending growing above the rate of inflation is bad news and something that has to change. We have to start addressing the massive excessive costs for health care in the USA versus the rest of the world. The broken USA health care system costs twice as much as other rich countries for worse results. And those are just the direct accounting costs – not the costs of millions without preventative health care, sleepness nights worrying about caring for sick children without health coverage, millions of hours spent on completing forms to try and comply with the requirements of the health care system’s endless demand for paperwork, lives crippled by health care bankruptcies…

  • What Works for One Business May Not Work For Others

    The success of management practices is highly dependent on the rest of the management system of the organization.

  • Thaipusam Festival, Johor Bahru

    Thaipusam is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February).

  • Don't Let the Need to Blame Prevent Safety Improvements

    Another question this raises is if 20,000 lives a year could be saved by self-driving cars and people didn't use that safety advantage are they liable for choosing a dangerous option (person driven car) even if they were not specifically negligent as far as the facts of the specific case are concerned. If we know drunk driving is more dangerous we pass laws and you can't drive drunk. Even without any proof your actions were at fault your state of being drunk makes you liable. Well, if drive less cars are much safer what is the difference, logically (I realize given the current laws there is a legal difference)?

  • How Countries Rank Based on H-index for Science Publications

    This data makes a good case for the USA, UK, Germany… producing a very high level of very influential science publications. Whether Italy (#7) is obviously more influential than Brazil (#22) or India (#24) I think is fairly questionable. Also the method has a fairly high lag, I believe, so if a country is gaining influence rapidly the h-index will take longer to have that show up.