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For-Profit Philanthropy [Sep. 14th, 2006|05:10 pm]
News.com has an article about Google's unusual approach to philanthropy.

http://news.com.com/Googles+unusual+approach+to+philanthropy/2100-1014_3-6115533.html?tag=nefd.top

Google.org will be a for-profit corporation. Although that's really a not-for-profit corporation without all the artificial government-imposed restrictions, given I wouldn't expect it would ever return profits to its "owners" (Google.com) [although the article does mention the possibility].

What is more interesting, however, is that it may engage in traditionally commercial activities (which achieve philanthropic goals), and actually generate revenue & profits.

I've often thought that the best model for philanthropic organizations, after being seed funded by grant(s), is to reduce and/or completely eliminate dependency upon future grants and be self-funded. One way to do this is to only spend the interest earned on the initial grant(s); but best way is to develop revenue sources synergistic with the philanthropic mission.

One such model I've thought about is a solution for education. Imagine a school, initially funded by grants, that accepts students based on a contractual obligation that its students pay a small percentage of their annual income to the school every year after they graduate. Now that school has incentive to find the best students with the highest potential, has incentive to push those students to reach that high potential, in order to maximize the school's future revenue. That's synergy.
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Why Startups Condense in America [Jun. 12th, 2006|05:10 pm]
A very good article about the requisites necessary to create a start-up friendly environment, and the challenges of other countries in doing so.

http://www.paulgraham.com/america.html

I had thought about doing some software startups in Costa Rica. By far the largest problem is the need to import programming talent. I thought this could be overcome (what a better place for a working sabbatical than Costa Rica) but I've since changed my opinion.

One new trend that is not mentioned is the emergence of transnational startups. For example, a programming office in Vancouver, marketing office in New York, call center in Costa Rica, and a brass plate incorporation in Panama, BVI or Gibraltar.

I've thought seriously about setting up an offshore Venture Capital/Incubator that specializes in early seed capital, and services related to company formation and front office. Let the core "brain" office form in San Francisco, Seattle, or where it will, but allow them at the same time to take advantage of the features other countries do offer.
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Surveillance State [Jun. 1st, 2006|12:56 am]
I left the United States because it was fast becoming a fascist surveillance/police state.

I left six years ago.

Systems change steadily but gradually at a rate that people within the system tend not to notice, like a slowly warming fishtank. However, having left the fishtank, it is truly frightening to witness.

Now that he is officially sworn in as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden plans to build a vast domestic spying network that will pry into the lives of most Americans around the clock.

Article: http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_8753.shtml
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The Death Ship [May. 31st, 2006|06:54 pm]
The Death Ship (German title: Das Totenschiff) is a novel by the pseudonymous author known as B. Traven. Originally published in German in 1926, and in English in 1934...Set just after World War One, The Death Ship describes the predicament of merchant seamen who lack documentation of citizenship and cannot find legal residence or employment in any nation. (src: Wikipedia)

An interesting novel on a subject that is still very much a point of contention today. I'll have to read it (when it arrives from Amazon).

Following the Wikipedia link to passport I learned something more. I'd thought that passports came about during/after World War I, but in fact they were only formalized then. *However* they had been used primarily as documents permitting *inland* travel, seaports were considered open trading points. I presume the open nature of seaports changed during World War I, and hence our merchant seamen's predicament.

On the topic of new countries or sovereign cities, I've often thought the defining nature should not be "laissez faire/libertarian" (although the governence should be setup as such, of course) but that it is an open and free international city (port).
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Scarcity is Fun, Utopias are Dull [Apr. 4th, 2006|03:22 pm]
Interestingly online games are providing a much better lesson in economics than most schools.

"Economics is loosely defined as choice under scarcity. After all, in the real world, there's only so much to go around. You can't always get what you want, and unfulfilled desires give rise to markets. But in a game world, there's no inherent reason for scarcity. Game designers have given us plenty of utopias where we can have all the mithril we want, to buy whatever we want whenever we want it. Problem is, those worlds turn out to be dull... That's why today's newer massive synthetic worlds make life hard. It's why we have to scheme, fight, and occasionally beg for food, shelter, transportation, and great big flaming swords. Games show us that scarcity can be fun."

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70573-0.html?tw=wn_index_1
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Experimental evidence backing the "Matrix" Theory [Apr. 3rd, 2006|05:03 pm]
"According to a computational study conducted by a group of physicists at Washington University in St. Louis, one may create order by introducing disorder."

Wasn't this the unexpected twist to the Matrix movie trilogy; that Neo, the Oracle, Zion, etc (chaotic elements), were intentionally introduced by the Machines to preserve order and balance to the Matrix?


"While working on their model — a network of interconnected pendulums, or "oscillators" — the researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was unexpected — shouldn't synchronized forces yield synchronized pendulums?

But then came the real surprise: When they introduced disorder — forces were applied at random to each oscillator — the system became ordered and synchronized."

http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/6845.html
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Costa Rica constitution court rejects approval of tax plan [Mar. 23rd, 2006|12:15 pm]
Good news, the motion spearheaded by Otto Guevara and Movimiento Libertario was successful, Sala IV rejected the first passage of the tax plan, upholding the two-thirds supermajority requirement. 38 deputies are required to pass the tax plan, twice (before and after constitutional review). Proponents had tried to bend the rules and push it through with a 32-vote simple majority.
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Los Sueños [Dec. 13th, 2005|12:43 pm]
Stayed at Los Sueños resort in Jaco last weekend. Very relaxing. Spent most the time at the pools, did some barbecuing (so nice staying in a condo rather than a hotel room). Went to Tsunami for sushi in Jaco, surpisingly good sushi for a beach town.
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Back from Puerto Viejo [Jul. 18th, 2005|02:07 pm]
Spent a week in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast. Great place. Had the best Thai food I've found in Costa Rica. There's also an outdoor cinema. Watch the movie and have drinks, avoid the food ((under)cooked on lava rocks).
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my new livejournal [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:57 pm]
[Current Mood |working]

I finally decided to create a livejournal account.
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