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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


A little over two years ago, I attended an event and listened to Brad Templeton speaking about the Google driverless car and how hard it would be for society to adapt to this new method of transportation.

I’ve stumbled upon a recording of him lecturing about the topic at “Driving Innovation: A Speaker Series Powered by Nissan Motor Company” (also on iTunes).

Here’s the transcript.

One of the biggest barriers is that for some unknown reason people don’t like being killed by robots… they’d rather be killed by drunks.

They were actually more afraid of possible injuries and accidents that could come from a robot than they would be afraid of it being done by drunks and other human negligence.

And this is a real thing, there is a real fear, and so when these vehicles, because they will not be perfect, and it would be a serious mistake to set a standard that demands that they’d be perfect, that demands that they’d be as good as elevators. I think that would be a serious mistake because we’re looking, outside, at the second most dangerous consumer product that is allowed to be sold in terms of unintentional deaths. To be more dangerous you’d have to light it on fire and breathe it into your lungs, that’s the most dangerous product.

And this is an effort to take that dangerous product and make it safer, make it kill fewer people. And I think that’s a grand effort and I think it’s an effort on par with even curing polio which killed fewer people than cars as of today.
More people have died in car accidents in the United States than in all the wars in the history of the United States going back to the revolutionary war. It’s an astoundingly huge number and to reduce that number I think is a grand goal, and so I think that the standard of care here should be to do better than that. But if the standard of care is more like an elevator, where perfection is demanded, the technology will never be deployed (or almost never, it would take a very long time), and a lot of people will die in the meantime.

Mt. Gox’s Message to the 2013 G8 Conference

Mt. Gox today announced that “a couple of months ago [they] took a big step and bought a full page ad for Bitcoin right in the middle of the G8 Research Group’s official magazine”. The ad shows a caricature of foreign diplomats, wearing their national currency symbol instead of a head, sitting at a table and discussing important issues. Abruptly, a new member, Bitcoin, opens the door and walks inside. A QR code (made of little coins, see below) leads to a special landing page explaining the benefits of Bitcoin (and Mt. Gox).

The 2013 G8 Conference is kicking into gear from today, and global leaders are discussing economic issues that affect us all. To get the message out, a couple of months ago we took a big step and bought a full page ad for Bitcoin right in the middle of the G8 Research Group’s official magazine with a link to a special landing page.

Download the full publication here (we’re on page 8).

We want to convey a bold message as global opinion on Bitcoin is very diverse. Especially for G8 members it’s important to highlight what’s really important for Bitcoin to change the world:

Bitcoin has the potential to bring together global citizens by enabling worldwide commerce with low costs and ease of entry for all social strata. Rather than dilute, Bitcoin enhances.

Mt. Gox is looking forward to a positive outcome from the G8, and to being a part of the dialogue going forward.

Notice how the QR code is made of little coins…

(It does not decode easily from a high-res file. I assume that when it’s scanned with a smartphone camera from a magazine it works better)

(click to decode an edited version of the QR code that turned the coins into solid circles)

Three eras of currency

Three eras of currency:

Commodity based, e.g. Gold

Politically based, e.g. Dollar

Math based, e.g. Bitcoin

Chris Dixon, investor at Andreessen Horowitz (source: cdixon’s tumblr)

He’s so motherfucking cool!

President Barack Obama laughs with aides aboard Air Force One en route to Singapore, Nov. 14, 2009.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

7 Years Without Alon

Seven years ago today, my cousin Alon was murdered by a suicide bomber on a bus, on his way to Nazareth.
I translated an article, from about a week after the terror attack, written by Natan Zahavi, a good friend of the family.

The Saint

Natan Zahavi says goodbye to Alon Goldenberg, his best friend’s son, who was killed in a terror attack in Wadi Ara

Natan Zahavi, 26/03/02

Wherever he went, people stopped and stared. “God, he looks like Jesus”, they said. Alon Goldenberg, 27 and a half, was murdered on the way to the courthouse in Nazareth because of some shitty offence (with a maximum fine of 200 shekels, in the worst case). 1.98 meters, weighing 83 kilos, a muscular body without a drop of fat, sun-burnt blonde dreadlocks, a tiny ginger beard, green-blue eyes. A good person who never wronged anyone in his life, said the hippie kids when they surrounded his fresh grave and sang for him. Son of the sea, surfer, Yogi, traveler, photographer, a starting philosopher, a human being that seemed like he didn’t belong in this filthy world of ours, went up to the heavens in a fiery explosion because of a programmed suicide bomber sent by a maniac neighbor, those referred to as our cousins; yet another victim of the endless struggle between the damned descendants of Abraham.

Last Tuesday, Alon was busy building wooden facilities in the Nitzanim Youth Village in southern Israel. He went home to his parents’ house in Tel-Aviv, spent the evening with his father, Shlomo “Gulli the fisherman” Goldenberg, his mother Batya, and his younger brother, Dror. “Dad, do you need the car tomorrow?” he asked. “Yes”, answered Gulli, “I have some stuff to do in the Port and some other places”. “OK”, said Alon, “I’ll take the first bus at 5:30 AM”. For about a year he had this case pending, started by the stupidity of a policeman who didn’t adhere to the Police Commissioner’s guidelines about some minor offences that shouldn’t be dealt with by the system. It went on and on and the hearing was delayed again and again, and ended with the bus exploding on the way to Nazareth.


In the hands of Prof. Hiss

On Wednesday, March 20th 2002, Alon left his parents house in Dizengoff Street to the central bus station. The time was 5:00 AM. Armed with a mini-disc, a copy of Carlos Castaneda’s “The Active Side of Infinity”, a cell phone, and a desire to get rid of this stupid trial that got in the way of building the Youth Village in Nitzanim. At around 7:15 AM, the first reports about a terrorist attack on a bus in Wadi Ara with multiple casualties started coming in. Gulli the fisherman heard about it while being in the Port of Jaffa. I heard about it at home. Gulli called and told me Alon was on his way to Nazareth on the first bus and that he had a bad feeling about this.

We waited for more details. I drove to the radio station, to get ready to do my live show, and the information that started pouring in was worrying. Casualties, tens of wounded. Emergency phone numbers were announced. The hospitals didn’t have someone wounded by the name of Alon Goldenberg. I asked a friend of mine, a lawyer, to check if Alon arrived at the courthouse in Nazareth. They went from room to room, announced his name on the PA, but there was no sign of Alon. I called friends in Magen David Adom, in ZAKA (Disaster Victim Identification) – no sign of Alon anywhere.

At 10:45 AM I announce on the radio that I cannot do the show, I’m going to Gulli. We were trying to find a sign of life from any possible direction. Nada. At some point in time, we decided to go to the Pathologic Institution in Abu Kabir: Gulli, Dror (the brother) and I. The tension was cutting through the air; tears started forming in the edges of the eyes, pressure in the chest. A phone call I received bared no good news. One of the bodies is an apparent match: 1.98 m, blonde dreadlocks, tattoo on the right arm…

On March 8th 2002, three days after the terror attack in the Seafood Market, two weeks prior to the terror attack on the bus in Wadi Ara, I’ve published the following segment: “… tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow there will be new ‘media heroes’, tomorrow there will be new parents burying their children, new orphans, crying girlfriends, tear shedding men, the radio will play ‘Tears of Angels’ and ‘I don’t have another country’, the same politicians will star on the TV and radio, ZAKA will send a new harvest of human flesh to Abu Kabir, and all of us, on borrowed time, will wait our turn to be in the hands of Prof. Hiss.

On the midday of March 20th 2002, I’m feeling the touch of the hands of Prof. Hiss, in the death waiting room at the Pathologic Institution, where we sat and cried. Gulli and Dror went to say goodbye to Alon in the morgue, while I said mine in a hidden corner in the back yard, so that no one would see my sea of tears.

“Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”

I have some troubling thoughts after seeing the movie “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West“:

  1. It got me thinking about meme evolution and about Hawks vs. Doves (Game Theory) I learned about in Richard Dawkins‘ book “The Selfish Gene“.
  2. In a way, this is a struggle, and only one lifestyle can prevail – the Western, modern, free, skeptic way of life, or the ultra-conservative, religious way. However, the clashes between these opposite forces are important and natural factors in any social change.
  3. Which one will win? Which will be more “adaptive”? Will the aggressive one win?
  4. A quote from the movie still troubles me. A translation of the word Jihad supposedly means “inner-struggle“. So does “Mein Kampf“.
  5. Another troubling quote: “Zionists [are] the spoiled offspring of the entity“. Their God (“entity”) means a world of difference from what I see in my mind when I think about God. And it’s supposed to be the same god.
  6. The question “Why do they hate us” leads us to blame ourselves. They must be suffering if they are so frustrated, otherwise, why would they spend that much energy, instead of just live and enjoy life? We must have done something to them! This is a very logical thought, which is very widespread in the Academia and with Leftists – but could it be that there is another explanation?
  7. Additional quote: “If you want to get people to fight, you have to make them think that there is a threat and that they are in danger.” People who are angry become hateful. This enables them to fight.
  8. When they say “Death to America“, what they’re actually saying is “Death to Change”, or “Death to Modernism”.
  9. People who try to see themselves from their perspective, like the extreme leftists, are acting dumb, thinking their “minds” are alike. The language, ideas and culture is so different, they think in different terms. It’s very politically correct to try to put ourselves in their shoes, but this thought experiment can be very very wrong.
  10. Additional quote: “Every one [in the West] is ignorant. Someone always says ‘this is just an extremist group’, and the speaker feels not politically correct for the generalization“.
  11. People around me seem to idolize Democracy, forgetting it’s not perfect. It has merely “done less harm, and more good, than any other form of government” (Will DurantThe Lessons of History). It is especially not designed to withstand advanced, post-modern attacks against it.
  12. Yet again, we are “strangling ourselves with our Political Correctness”, which reminds me to re-read Gadi Taub‘s “A Dispirited Rebellion” (המרד השפוף). How come there is no Gadi Taub page in the English Wikipedia?
  13. In order to create a clear-cut between friend and foe, the movie claims, there must have been a global, unifying event which would unite the world – Muslims and non-Muslims. This clear-cut was made, in their eyes, with the events of 9/11. For us, it’s still very very hard to determine who’s a friend and who’s a foe, because there are too many options. It’s not as clear-cut. This enables combatants to live among civilians and infiltration. This made me think about a Computer Anti-Virus analogy – but in the West’s case, the detection of viruses is very very difficult.
  14. The movie talks quite a lot about this struggle as a continuation of Nazism. I’m afraid it’s a lot worse. This is DISTRIBUTED NAZISM.
  15. A very painful claim that is made in the movie is about the extremists’ crime against their children. The worst form of child-abuse is education to hatred. We all see, and ignore, what goes on in the Palestinian, Iranian and the rest of the Arab/Muslim world’s media. Blood, gore, body parts – and this is what their children are exposed to. And this is not only the extremists here, this is the mainstream.

These are just several points, off my head. I would love to read your comments and discuss this with anyone. I’m afraid that as time passes, it’s going to be to late to stop World War 3, if it isn’t already.