Big Data Explained

I stumbled upon a very fascinating blog this morning, which is focused on statistics of all things.  He did a perfect job of capturing my frustration with the meaninglessness of the overused term "Big Data".  Here is an excerpt:

What is big data?
Whatever the labeler wants it to be; data that is not small; a faddish buzz word; a recognition that it’s difficult to store and access massive databases; a false (but with occasional, and temporary, bright truths) hope that if characteristics down to the microsecond are known and stored we can predict everything about that most unpredictable species, human beings...

Non Profit Porn Site

It's official, any sort of business can qualify for non-profit status if so inclined.  I have lately been somewhat obsessed with the arbitrary and wrong-headed distinction between "for profit" and "not for profit" organizations.  Then last night it hit me - I can shock the reader with something completely beyond the pale.  I can provide an example so ridiculous that it will reveal the absurdity of dividing endeavors based on the intention to make a return on investment.  My idea:  a non profit porn site.  But alas, I was foiled.  It has been done!

Who is Being Naive?

I watched The Godfather again the other night, and I have to say I have a new favorite scene.  
Michael: "My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a President or senator."
Kay: "Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed!"
Michael Corleone: "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"

Taxation Is Theft

There are those - and by "those" I mean "the vast majority of people" - who do not believe that taxation is theft.  The minority of those people who have actually encountered the idea that taxation may be theft left the idea quickly in the dust with such euphemisms as "taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."  In order to accept this statement one must first ignore the fact that prices emerge from voluntary exchange, a blatant impossibility with a government decree such as the tax level.  One must then proceed to accept an unspoken definition for "society", including such important aspects as who comprises it, how its will is to be determined and how that will should be executed.  This is absolutely critical as it is clearly "society" who will be determining the constraints of what is "civilized", and there will be no shortage of highly energetic do-gooders who will be happy to interprets society's will for the good of civilization.   On this point, I will leave the thought experiment to the great Lysander Spooner.  From "No Treason — No. II. The Constitution.":
No middle ground is possible on this subject. Either "taxation without consent is robbery," or it is not. If it is not, then any number of men, who choose, may at any time associate; call themselves a government; assume absolute authority over all weaker than themselves; plunder them at will; and kill them if they resist. If, on the other hand, "taxation without consent is robbery," it necessarily follows that every man who has not consented to be taxed, has the same natural right to defend his property against a taxgatherer, that he has to defend it against a highwayman.

What Patriotism Means to Me

Everyone likes to throw around "patriotism" as if it actually means something.  The fact that it does not makes it that much more useful I guess.  Consider this:

From Wikipedia for Patriot (American Patriot):
Patriots (also known as RebelsRevolutionariesCongress-Men or American Whigs) were those colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies that violently rebelled against British control during the American Revolution and in July 1776 declared the United States of Americaan independent nation. Their rebellion was based on the political philosophy of republicanism, as expressed by pamphleteers, such as Thomas JeffersonAlexander Hamilton, and Thomas Paine.
But just plain old "Patriot":
patriot is someone who feels a strong support for his or her country. See also Patriotism.
Hmmm...Those seem to be opposite things.  Wouldn't it have been more "patriotic" for the "American Patriots" to have supported what the "sovereigns" of their period would have considered "their country"?

I wonder which form of patriotism my teachers were using when I was asked to write essays about in high school?


Welcome Back with a Few Words of Wisdom

I'm sorry faithful reader - or readers as the case may be - for  the dearth of posts lately.  I got married two weeks ago today to the most beautiful woman I know, and those of you who have been there know just how much time and energy that can consume.  But, it is totally worth it if you are lucky enough to find the right person.

It may be a little bit off topic ("this blog has a topic?" you are saying), but I just wanted to share with you a couple of definitions that have lately been transforming the way I see and operate in the world.  I don't remember exactly where the first one came from.  I am fairly certain it was one of my regular podcasts.  I want to say it was The Voluntary Life, but do not quote me on that.
The true definition of wealth is the proportion of your life that you get to spend doing what you really want to do.  
 In hindsight that seems obvious, so why didn't anyone explain that to me when I was growing up?

The second definition is from a seemingly unlikely source, Adam Carrola.  I am paraphrasing from his book which a read a couple of months ago, so I apologize for any slight inaccuracies.
The true definition of intelligence is the ability to get what you want in life.   
I do not have much to add to those two things.   I just wanted to share them with you and hope that they can be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

Breaking News - I Am Not a Lone Nut

In the latest episode of Penn's Sunday School, the hosts discussed a topic that is very near and dear to my heart and about which I had assumed I was alone:  Why are we afraid to pronounce the names of other countries in our own dialect?  They even went so far as to one-up me:  Why don't we just pronounce the country the way they do?  For example, Spain would become EspaƱa.  Mind blown...
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