Friday, May 12, 2017

Fake news

Neil deGrasse Tyson was on the 'Hot Ones' show where he explained the universe while eating spicy wings. Funny premise which has led to him saying what I believe should be a quote for the ages. Read and integrate this deeply for the implications are critical:

Host: "Over the last 10 years or so, have you seen an increase in the number of people maybe think these things (bunk crazy ideas)?"
N.D.T: "I think that number of people may be the same over time. They just now, can write a blog that the whole world has access to via a search engine. You'd be alone with your own view that has no correspondence to objective reality. And you type it in to a Google search, and it'll find every other person like you, who think the same way, giving you the false sense that you're actually onto something, that you have some deep insight into the world that no-one else has. This is delusional. The Internet landed in our laps without creating a curriculum that empowers you to know when someone online is full of shit."

Check-out the whole thing here:

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Watch and smartwatches; some data

"According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global wearables shipments reached 22 million units in the first quarter of 2017. Apple captured 16 percent marketshare and became the world’s largest wearables vendor, overtaking Fitbit"

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More religious countries tend to be less innovative

"MORE religious countries tend to be less innovative, according to a paper published last month by America’s National Bureau of Economic Research. In “Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth”, Roland Benabou of Princeton and Davide Ticche and Andrea Vindigni of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca find a strong negative correlation between innovation, as measured by patents, and religiosity, measured by the share of a population that self-identifies as religious."

NBER Working Paper No. 21105Issued in April 2015

Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth

"We analyze the joint dynamics of religious beliefs, scientific progress and coalitional politics along both religious and economic lines. History offers many examples of the recurring tensions between science and organized religion, but as part of the paper's motivating evidence we also uncover a new fact: in both international and cross-state U.S. data, there is a significant and robust negative relationship between religiosity and patents per capita. The political-economy model we develop has three main features: (i) the recurrent arrival of scientific discoveries that generate productivity gains but sometimes erode religious beliefs; (ii) a government, endogenously in power, that can allow such innovations to spread or instead censor them; (iii) a religious organization or sector that may invest in adapting the doctrine to new knowledge. Three long-term outcomes emerge. First, a "Secularization" or "Western-European" regime with declining religiosity, unimpeded science, a passive Church and high levels of taxes and transfers. Second, a "Theocratic" regime with knowledge stagnation, extreme religiosity with no modernization effort, and high public spending on religious public goods. In-between is a third, "American" regime that generally (not always) combines scientific progress and stable religiosity within a range where religious institutions engage in doctrinal adaptation. It features low overall taxes, together with fiscal advantages or societal laws benefiting religious citizens. Rising income inequality can, however, lead some of the rich to form a successful Religious-Right alliance with the religious poor and start blocking belief-eroding discoveries and ideas."

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Harmonizations in a globalized world...

Change can sometimes be risky. But fear of change, just because it is unknown and different, is just plain stupid.

Metric System

"The usage of the metric system varies around the world. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency's Factbook (2007), the International System of Units has been adopted as the official system of weights and measures by all nations in the world except for Myanmar (Burma), Liberia and the United States,[74] while the NIST has identified the United States as the only industrialised country where the metric system is not the predominant system of units.[75] However, reports published since 2007 hold this is no longer true of Myanmar or Liberia.[76] An Agence France-Presse report from 2010 stated that Sierra Leone had passed a law to replace the imperial system with the metric system thereby aligning its system of measurement with that used by its Mano River Union (MRU) neighbours Guinea and Liberia.[Note 6][77] Reports from Myanmar suggest that the country is also planning to adopt the metric system"

Right-side driving
The way to push the agenda for right-side driving (left-side steering wheel) would be help migrate a few key countries, thereby making left-side driving significantly more expensive. Which countries would these be?
While Japan produces a lot of cars, its citizen own few.
India, with 70 million vehicles, would be a meaningful target, as part of a larger infrastructure investment. It could lead to neighboring countries to adopt the trend.
South-African countries should also be targeted as part of an infrastructure investment.

Has been done successfully before:
"There are lessons from this, half a century on. One concerns revealed preferences, or how well people can imagine something routine becoming different. Swedes hugely opposed the idea of new driving habits, yet promptly accepted the changed reality with a shrug. A second lesson: other countries coped just as pragmatically. Iceland switched to the right in 1968, followed by Ghana and Nigeria in the early 1970s. Samoa went over to the left in 2009, aligning itself with nearby Australia"

Power plugs and sockets
It would seem that a dual-standard Type A&B for the Americas, and C,E,F, for the rest of the world, would make sense

Voltage and Frequency

Dual-standard 220-240V/50Hz and 100-127V/60HZ looks like a good plan

Emergency Phone Number

Why not do it progressively; each country keeps its own, and adds 999 (a single number for fire, police, etc). After 10 years, the local one is removed...

Daylight Saving Time
Just abolish DST. This is probably one of the simplest to implement.


Move away from scripts and unto alphabet.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A few Quebec-Hong Kong comparisons

Road network

Quebec - Rural: 116,393 km (all roads, all jurisdictions)
Quebec - Urban: 28,310 km (all roads, all jurisdictions)
Hong Kong: 2,078 km

Quebec (2015):  $291,153,000 USD. Per capita: $35,252 USD
Hong Kong (2015): $308,877,550,000 USD. Per capita: $42,277 USD

Quebec (2015):  8,259,500, Annual growth rate 0.5%
Hong Kong (2015): 7,324,800. Annual growth rate 0.8%

Population density

In blue is the mass transit network (MTR)

Hong Kong Airport - Passenger (2015): 68,496,000
Hong Kong Airport - Air traffic movements (2015): 406,000

Hong Kong Airport - Passenger (2015): 16,623,438
Hong Kong Airport - Air traffic movements (2015): 238,523


Hong Kong doesn't have heavy industry, and has less cars than Montreal. Yet, more heavily polluted... thanks mainland China!

Monday, February 13, 2017

A few stats and data on abortion

"The number of abortions worldwide is declining due to increased access to contraception according to the World Health Organization"

"In 2013, the majority (66.0%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and nearly all (91.6%) were performed by ≤13 weeks’ gestation. Few abortions were performed between 14 and 20 weeks’ gestation (7.1%) or at ≥21 weeks’ gestation (1.3%)."

"The neuroanatomical system for pain can be considered complete by 26 weeks' gestation. A developed neuroanatomical system is necessary but not sufficient for pain experience
Pain experience requires development of the brain but also requires development of the mind to accommodate the subjectivity of pain
Development of the mind occurs outside the womb through the actions of the infant and mutual adjustment with primary caregivers
The absence of pain in the fetus does not resolve the morality of abortion but does argue against legal and clinical efforts to prevent such pain during an abortion"

Saturday, February 11, 2017

If I were the Hong Kong C.E., here's what my pledges would be

Universal retirement protection scheme
Reduce road infrastructure costs and pollution
  • The growth of private car ownership needs to be contained (30% in 10 years). The mass-transit systems in Hong Kong are efficient, inexpensive, and will get anyone anywhere they want, or need. It is arguably the best in the world. More private cars means more roads, which are a waste of land use, and require ongoing maintenance.
    The idea would be to de-incentivize the purchase of private cars in Hong Kong and place them squarely as a luxury item, which they are.

    Private car First Registration tax to double. Payable at car purchase. This tax would also apply for cars privately purchased outside and brought in Hong Kong.
Private cars
      (a)   on the first $150,000
40% would be increased to 80%
      (b)   on the next $150,000
75% would be increased to 150%
      (c)   on the next $200,000
100% would be increased to 200%
      (d)   on the remainder
115% would be increased to 330%
  • Reduce Hong Kong vehicle fleet pollution. Vehicle annual licensing renewal fees ; increase for all, but modulated on particulate emissions. For example: for petrol private car smaller than 1500cc, the current fee is $3929/year. It would be changed to be modulated from $3929/year to $8000/year, depending on PM2.5 emissions. Furthermore, it would be mandatory for the fees to be displayed at the car dealership and on the sales agreement. The idea is that the transparent modulated fees would make private car buyers aware of the environmental and economical choice they are making at time of purchase, and promote the purchase of less polluting vehicles
  • Phasing out of ALL pre-EuroV vehicle by 2022 (5 years).
  • Particulate scrubbers installed in high-density areas and parks. New technology exists to effectively "scrub" the particulate pollution out of the air. This is not a replacement to pollution control but rather, a short-term mitigation measure. Such scrubbers should be installed in high-density areas (Mong Kok, Central, Causeway Bay) as well as parks
  • Mandate use of 0.1% sulphur fuel for ships within Hong Kong's waters, instead of the current 0.5% sulphur fuel
  • Equip ship berthing facilities with power capabilities so that less polluting sources can power ships when berthed
Protect Hong Kong's unique natural asset, its Country Parks

Make housing more affordable
  • Taxation of unsold new flat units as if they were sold, at twice the leasable taxable rate. The idea being to force developers to release flats to the market (thousands of flats currently) by making it less economically beneficial for them to keep unsold inventory. Thereby increasing supply.
  • Escalating stamp duty on land sold but not developed. Escalation doesn't stop if land development rights are resold. 1x first year, 3x second year, 5x 3rd years, 7x 4th year
  • Increase 30% of plot ratios density. Minimum ratios implementation
  • Immediate termination of small house policy with compensation of public flat, or $1mil, at impacted individual's choice
Advancement of democracy in Hong Kong as allowed by the One-Country, Two systems framework
  • Re-open talks with Beijing on universal suffrage with goal of CE elected through universal suffrage