Key take aways from Trust me I am lying

Trust me I am lying

The publication eco-system

  • Every content creator within the publication ecosystem is under immense pressure to produce content under the tightest deadline.
    • renumeration is based on number of articles per period time
    • eye balls are converted to advertising revenue
    • lots of copying happens
  • Media was once about protecting a new, on the web it is about building one
    • well defined scope matters
    • content that dives deep into its vertical matters
  • Headlines are the most important
  • Tools of the trade
    • lavish pictures
    • impostors, frauds and fake interviews
    • support for the underdog causes
    • anonymous sources
    • prominent coverage of high society and events
    • different age but same old tricks
  • On monetization
    • Advertising is the main driver of revenue
    • Subscription model focus on trusted source as opposed to advertising source
    • RSS got killed because it went against the interest of Advertisers
  • On the online medium
    • The demands of the medium forces the bloggers to act they way they are
    • Tim Berners Lee stacked new content on the top and the rest of the internet thus follows
    • Thus the need to constantly create new content

On Virality

  • The most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes.
  • The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger
    • sensationalism
    • extremism
    • sex
    • scandal
    • hatred
  • Things must be negative but not too negative so as to incite action
  • Media needs to get you feeling negative so that you are more likely to share
  • Empty vessels are incline to snark so as to feel unjustifiably good about themselves

On reality

  • Chris Hedges
    • is complicated and boring
    • the masses are incapable and unwilling to handle its confusion
    • In an age of images, entertainment and instant emotional gratification, no one seeks honesty and gratification
  • Cognitive biases
    • we are bad at being sketical
      • availability biases
      • narrative fallacy
    • we are worst at correcting our wrong beliefs
      • social proofing
      • consistency biases
  • First decide what you are intending to do with the information you collected

Related readings

Key take aways from the Blockchain revolution

The Blockchain revolution
  • ensuring the integrity of data exchanged among these billions of devices without the need for a trusted third party
  • allow people that do not have access to the service of these third part into the digital economy
  • easier ability to get compensated for your work or ownership of digital property
  • Ronald Coase on types of costs
    • Searching cost
    • Coordination cost
    • Contracting cost
  • Dimensions of search
    • horizontal search – wide search across the web
    • vertical search – within a specific website
    • sequence – blockchain?
  • Innovation typically comes from the edge
    • monopolies have a lot of resources but lack the culture and will to explore, Yochai Benkler
    • This can be attributed to high levels of bureaucracy within the core

Related references

Key take way from the Truth Machine, Michael J.Casey

The Truth Machine, Michael J.Casey
  • Blockchains are decentralized ledger systems
  • trust is a vital social resource, the truth lubricant of human interaction
  • human social organization comes from our ability to craft meaningful stories that we all believe, Yuval Noah Harrari
  • Engineering talent is still in severe shortage

Three great power centers in US

  • Technology, Silicon Valley
  • Finance, New York
  • Government, Washington

Use cases

  • Refugees are thrust into statelessness. Easy for criminal exploitation
  • Removing the central silos such Uber, Facebook and Twitter and replacing them with
  • barter trade, double entry
  • Support the scaling internet of things while avoiding one central controlling big brother
  • Self-sovereign identity
    • priorly done by government,
    • now done by Facebook Google and Twitter

Types of blockchains

  • private permissioned block chain to protect sensitive information
    • gate keeping prone to monopolies and oligopolies
  • permissionless block chain where management of data is done by individual themselves

Most popular chains

  • Ethereum
  • BitCoint

Moon shot scenario

  • Technology has freed humans from work
  • Human free to focus on creativity instead of the drudgery of work
  • Getting paid for creativity instead of it being captured by Facebook

Key observations of Chinese One Belt Road Initiative in Africa

Territories observed

  • Egypt
  • Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa

Similarities observed

  • Heavy Chinese enterprise involvement in the building of roads and houses
  • Shops with Chinese labels observed in operation
  • In areas where there are construction operations, Chinese supervision and management observed aided by local manual labor
  • Ubiquity of mobile internet connection
  • Ubiquity of Samsung, Huawei and Tenco Android mobile phones ranging from USD50 among local adult and adolescent population

Macro trends

With the rise of the Chinese middle class, there is now increasing domestic demand for goods and services within China. This has driven the need to increase the overall throughput volume of such commodities. It can be speculated that the level of consumption is expected to surpass the level of production within China at some point.

Economic growth in China has for now hit a road block due to the following factors:

In light of these, China needs to start shifting its policy from an export focused economy to a domestic focused economy. To do so, it needs to feed and drive domestic demand for goods and services.

Regional trends

The Chinese government has been observed to enter into agreement with local African government to fund the build out of infrastructure, primarily roads and buildings. At the date of writing 85% of roads in Ethiopia has been completed within the country while in Zanzibar, Tanzania, all major roads are under construction and a sports stadium named Mao ZeDong stadium has been observed.

In exchange for the funding, local governments are restricted to engaging the service of Chinese companies. This safeguards the effectiveness of funds deployment for the operations aspects of the agreement while serving to three specific purposes. It minimizes the actual volume of liquidity that is tied up in loans to local government, while boosting demand for construction services within China and increasing maximum possible throughput volume of commodity exports from the region.

What is not obvious during the time of observation is how effective local governments are at managing funds during the stage between its receipt from China to its payment to the engaged Chinese companies. Discounting the inherent effectiveness of the various projects in driving local GDP, differing levels of corruption and maturity of national identify within the region will result in variance between actual ROI versus expected ROI for these projects.

On deciphering Chinese end goal within the region

At the moment of writing, it is yet clear how Chinese African relationship will crystalize for the future. Two key observations need to be made before we can get a glimpse of it.

Key observation #1 would be how China would react when the loans come to maturity and the local government have yet made sufficient returns from the infrastructure investments to pay off the debt.

Key observation #2 would be how Chinese companies would handle the post construction phase of projects that require ongoing maintenance in terms of knowledge transfer.

Related readings

Symbiotic relationships between man and other species

Somewhere along in time, Man formed semi-symbiotic relationships with selected species of plants and animals. Thereafter this cohabiting social structure was scaled up the world over. 

As the process ran its course, other species were inevitably marginalized due to habitat loss, some driven almost to the brink of extinction.

It is interesting to note, the larger the physical size of an unincorporated specie and the closer it’s distance to the brink of extinction. 

The long term trend tends towards mono-cultures and minification of species. 

Man does not share the position at the top of the food chain well with others.

Key observations in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, a city under construction

On society

  • 120 million relatively young population
  • 65% of youth graduate from college
  • unemployment rate is 85%
  •  The Youth is hungry for opportunity to advance in life
  • The Youth is highly optimistic and have faith in their prime minister
  • Shifting away from a tribal centric identity to a nation identity is the key challenge for the country. Tribal warfare was observed in Matema region.

On infrastructure

  • One belt one road initiative has thus far rebuilt 85% of all major highways
  • significant levels of Chinese operated construction observed in Addis Ababa where Chinese occupy the management layer while the locals occupy the manual layer.
  • Significant levels of new housing construction in villages by locals. Projects are facilitated by ease of material transport due to improved road conditions.
  • At the moment of writing, Chinese built daily train is in operation from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Chinese management is in process of doing knowledge transfer to local with the intention of handing eventual management.

On nature and agriculture

  • mixed of highland and grassland terrain
  • lowlands are utilized for the cultivation of wheat, corn and coffee
  • highlands are utilized for the cultivation of potato and barley

On technology

  • Ethiopia’s own version of Uber was launched earlier this year.
  • Country-wide established 3G networks has been observed
  • Majority of people were seen using Android mobile phones like Samsung and Huawei.
  • Tenco is a locally manufactured Android phone ran by Chinese management. Typical phone sells for USD50.

On foreign relations with China

  • China is the largest trading partner where food is the main export.
  • China’s one belt one road initiative in Ethiopia aims to increase supplies of raw materials available to the middle class rich in China by building up critical infrastructure like roads and manufacturing facilities to increase overall throughput volume from this agriculturally fertile region.
  • The approach is to utilize Chinese capital, Chinese management expertise and operations technique gained from the rebuilding of their economy, local raw materials and local human labor.
  • Where maintenance is required knowledge transfer occurs. This serves to help conserve Chinese human capital as they further their initiative across the region.
  • The observed build up of educated youth will likely help facilitate the necessary knowledge to ensure infrastructure gets maintained beyond the time period of the initiative.

Related readings

  • Why the west rules for now, Morris Ian

Key learnings: Les Capital, Karl Marx

Le Capital, Karl Marx

Core idea

Individuals purely focused on maximizing return on capital through combination of commodities and human labor to generate newer forms of commodities cannot be trusted to fairly remunerate producers of human labor in a sustainable manner.

Deep dive

Commodities are comprised of natural resources and human productivity

Types of value that can be attributed to commodities

  • Use value: actualized when commodity is consumed
  • Exchange value: actualized when commodity is exchanged for another

There is a subset of commodity of which use value is so universal it assumes universal exchange value for every individual operating within the market overtime. A good example is gold which becomes associated with the concept of money.

Money forms with inherent use value like gold gets inevitably replaced token forms guaranteed by governments like the dollar overtime. The reason can be attributed to wear and tear of money forms like the gold coin where overtime a pound (of gold) in the form of a gold coin might not actually contain an actual pound of gold.

Accumulation of Capital can be attributed to prolonged periods of under consumption by an individual of the use value he has successfully produced and exchanged.

Historical context

This doctrine was written during the time of the industrial revolution in England when the society is still in the midst of figuring out the core tenants of employment, namely standard working hours and minimal wage levels.

Related readings

  • Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
  • The wealth of nations, Adam Smith
  • Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Observations in Sudan

Orange purchased from road side vendor in the middle of the Sudan desert

Society

  • Sharia law is used as the foundational legal framework within the country.
  • Public venues for prayer are prevalent
  • Majority of males observed to engage in worship 5 times a day
  • Touting is non-existent except at tourist venues as well as bus stations. Prices are fixed.
  • Hospitality of locals is commendable. On multiple occasions they would pay for tea and food if they happen to engage in any form of conversation out of curiosity.
  • Minimal signs of homelessness observed. Streets in Khartoum appear empty past 8pm in the evening.
  • Despite general lack of infrastructure, a strong sense of community was observed amongst the population. Daily affairs were was observed to be conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner.

Technology level

  • Level of technology level in government agency observed is low.
  • Mobile phones are prevalent. Android owns majority of market share. Samsung and Huawei mobile phone users were observed to be prevalent.
  • Facebook and WatsApp are the dominant internet communications medium. YouTube is in prevalent use
  • Internet connectivity is low and generally unstable hovering around 300++kpbs in hotels.
  • The following US based technology solution is not accessible. Use of proxy is necessary.
    • AWS
    • Gmail
    • Stripe
    • Bugsnag

Perception of foreign relations

  • US and western nations perceived still to be harboring colonial masters mentality attempting to meddle in affairs of nation with aim of gaining unfair advantage.
  • The Chinese government is perceived as friendly and fair, genuinely interested in helping the country develop.

Nature and history

  • Water melon was observed to grow wild in the sub-Saharan dessert. Much agricultural potential could be expected if nile is successfully harvested for irrigation purposes.
  • Donkeys, camels and cows observed to roam wild in the sun-Saharan dessert.

Key take aways from Mien Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Mein Kampt, Adolf Hitler

On governance

Majority of the population is not equipped with the necessary faculty to make decision about the running of the country. Let the superior man assume this responsibility be imbued with the power to pass laws and regulations. The market is to be subordinated to the nation.

The study of history

History should read with the use of critical lens. The student of history should approach it with the desire to understand cause and effects. He needs to apply a clear frame and extract from it relevant pieces that fits the frame to further his understanding of how the world works.

The management of the crowd

Majority of the population will not bother themselves with the use of their critical faculties when analyzing arguments made by policy makers ( Logos). Rather, they choose instead to simply really on them emotions which only takes into account very limited set of signals (Pathos).

Therefore, the primary objective of propaganda is not to be factually correct but to drive the population to action.

The structure of the message needs to be simple. The larger the audience catered for the simpler the message need to be. The use of icons and dramatic colors is extremely beneficial.

When refining your message, start with a small set of audience and work from there to gradually larger ones. This keeps running cost low and allows a more controlled cabilbration process.

On democracy

This is a long drawn out intensive dubious process which is subjected to high levels of resource wastage. A centrally controlled organization will be more effective at addressing deep rooted issues. Elected leaders tends towards the dumbest common denominator.

On the economy

It should not drive national policies but should be driven by it. In the former, private interest will prevail over public needs. Private interest tends to be dominated by a class that focus purely on making money with money via interest instead of the common person that exchanges actual physical hard work with money.

The goal of schools is to socialize the next generation to the nations core values and principles. This training requires a strong physique. Physical training should take majority of the education.

Related readings

  • The wealth of nations, Adam Smith
  • Les Capital, Karl Marx

Key aways from Anabasis, Xenophon

Anabasis, Xenophon
  • The same set of raw facts can be used to construct a really positive story or a really negative one. Choose your frame wisely.
  • Ethics is not universal, but restricted for application only on a group. In domains where ethics don’t exist, Might means right applies.
  • Do not count on continued gratitude and love from the crowd. They will just as soon turn against you as they would worship you
  • When dealing within conflict first elicit all existing context, thereafter make your case by applying clear logic and consistent argument.
  • Be wary of individuals with dubious characters. If anything, you can always trust them to stay dubious.
  • Market is not always readily available. There needs to be willing buyers and willing sellers
  • The vision will stay the same while the nitty gritty details should remain flexible to cater to changes as required.
  • Timing is important. Some times are not conducive for specific activities while others are. The use of sacrifice /blood magic should be helpful in decipheringbthe present moment given a clear binary frame.