Less two Evils

Read this fascinating opinion piece on techcruch tech news blog site today. While it’s not clearly labeled as “Opinion” piece on a “News Blog”, from the tone of the article it is clear that the author did not intent it to be informative. This flame bait deserves no response, except for that I learned a lot reading the responses to it.

For one thing, did you know that Benjamin Franklin said:

Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security

That is so powerful a statement, the mind of this country’s founding fathers is clear. The other refreshing thing is that it is fairly surprising that somebody would say that the threat in China is imaginary and that threat in the US is real. I am 100% sure that Chinese state monitoring is _not_ fake. I have personally tested it on my poor unsuspecting aunt’s computer. Searched for cults and discover that about 30 seconds later the internet connection went down for the night. The bad part is she participates in another group that I feel is a religious cult, but one that, AFAIK, is less outlawed than the one that I searched for. She never mentioned it to me, but I’m sure she got an earful from her local monitors.

Now, the pervasive monitoring that takes place in America (and perhaps restricted to people like myself, namely those not born here and those that have not demonstrated/proclaimed their undying love for the country without requiring inspecting the ethics of its goals and practices) is as yet unproven. I have my suspicions, convenient but not consistent degradations in internet performance makes me wonder, out loud, on my blog, regularly. But it is a little more advanced than those in China. The information that I am presented with on the Internet, the speed and order at which it arrives, are all suspicious. But none of these can be proven reliably as the case of the Chinese Great Firewall.

And also, it’s really nice to see an image of the shield of the Chinese Liberation Army instead of some silly cartoon on these articles that techcrunch posts. It shows respect–in fact proper respect for a worthy competitor. I also hate to mention, it probably strikes fear in to a lot of people who have been mentally damaged from the tight physiological monitoring/control/manipulations exerted by the authoritarian Chinese government.

Like everything else in the world, you can say that the version we use today was invented in the west, but you will probably find that FUD has been in wide use in Chinese civilization long before the west invented the letters F, U and D. If you think I’m mad, just make a few Chinese friends and you’ll know, these people are much more oppressed and suffers much more than what I have ever describe here about myself


(I should quickly postfix that so that I am not persecuted for being a “China Lover”. I, unlike many other people, do not feel that being oppressed or having suffered credits a person with extra credit in society. Bombing Japan was in reaction to Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans should not receive extra help today in America because of that. I truly believe in America, it is a country where one generation’s debt do not carry to the next).

Btw, kudos to Google images search. I downloaded that picture and uploaded to google images search(images.google.com). and it suggested searching for “PLA ARMY” and that search confirms that the shield is indeed the symbol used by the PLA. This shouldn’t be very easy considering the background of that photo is a grainy desk and it’s a slanted 3D object where as the top search results are drawings of flat objects. I wonder if they did OCR in Chinese? I have to say, also, that TechCrunch makes the PLA looks better than the PLA makes PLA look. Is this one of those, “you can do the job but I make it look good” thing?


Oh, okay, I guess Greg Ferenstein actually did do his research, maybe bought this cap from eBay and ripped off the insignia and took a picture on his desk or something.


An Attempt at God’s Sign


Do you think it’s fair to say that gods are those that has lower bound in evil and that the devil is one that has an upper bound in goodness?

Right? because god can be angry some times and punish people, and stuff, but he is limited in how much nasty he can bring onto humanity before he stops. Where as the devil, we assume, will not stop at any level of nastiness. However he will also have a bounded goodness he does before he will stop and starting doing bad things.

This is interesting because it took me a second to think through  as well. Our cultures and religion teach us that God is all good and devil is all evil. But because, either because of our lack of ability to comprehend, or our physical world lack the expressive power to express God’s will, that sometimes God’s act appear evil, and sometimes the devil’s work appears kind–just look at all those pretty girls out there, so pleasing, so nice, makes you want to be nice, right? But often they are the devil’s work and the niceness disappears at some point and then it’s all evil.

ehem… not speaking from personal experience.

So, but if you put your mind to it, despite these limitations, we are told that God will eventually recover and reveal to us that it is all good, and much better than before, that the evil we suffer in the mean time is completely overwhelmed by the greatness of what is to follow. If we think it this way that the latter will be better than present, then it would appear that, in our stricter language of mathematics, that God’s evil is bounded below, and in contrast, the Devil, the polar opposite of God has goodness bounded above.

Such believes have implications, of course. The fact that god is bounded below means that he will never bring human to extinction. One can argue that future of universe may be brighter without us, and that next intelligence or being of sorts will be closer to God than us, etc., but that argument is just plain unscientific–it cannot be tested. On the other hand, the perpetuity of humanity is testable, not conclusively, but growing in supporting evidence. I guess it’s kind of pseudo-scientific, but increasing evidence seem better than unprovable, right?

Such believes also means we can detect things. Suppose we find a cause whose effect has always known to be limited in goodness but (essentially) unbound in evil, then we can legitimately suspect that cause to be the Devil. We can actually detect devil from the goodness of its effects!!

Such believes should be defined more carefully, does two infinities of goodness and evil add up to our finite existence?

A Serious Problem with Signs in Previous Entries

Astute reader may have found some significant problem with signs in my earlier posts. The sign of these value functions must be carefully selected lest we exchange God and Devil. It might happen. For instance if you read my quantification of privacy blog entries, you will find that I did not correctly assign signs to the information. Suppose we continue with the example of dinner and leaked email to wife. Information theory is confusing in the sense that it cannot distinguish incriminating information from non-incriminating information. It is possible we can structure “Dinner” such that entropy implies innocence and lack of entropy implies guilt, but most natural cases, the output variable having low entropy could mean both very guilty and not guilty.

When I charge for my loss of privacy, when you rip open my pants and peek into it, I would only want to charge you money if it is embarrassingly to me. If it is show-worthy, I might pay you money for the exposure, right? Also, just to be clear, if the information is leaked as a summary of my private email to wife, the same calculation would take place but the conditional will be the humanization of email.

A purist would say, loss of privacy is loss of privacy without regard to guilt. If this is the case then the quantification will take the form:

IG(Dinner; private email to wife) = H(dinner) – H(Dinner | private email to wife)

In real world, this number is always non-negative, and we compute compensation based on this function. But as a conscientious person who wants orderly society and safety for my family and my fellow beings, my original proposal was to only charge for the private information when it proves to be unhelpful to the cause of crime prevention. This is further strengthened by a system where the law enforcement is punished only when the information proves me innocent. So the three grade of privacy quantification are:

Let a certain private information be a random variable P (such as dinner choice above, or my choice between java or pascal for my next project (pascal being a crime to use)) and let Q be a piece of data that is leaked or taken from me. the privacy loss PL is defined as the information gain regarding P

PL = IG(P;Q) =  H( P ) – H( P | Q )

Strong Privacy: Any private information Q lost that has PL >= 0 is privacy loss. (This is saying that any thing private revealed to non-private party against my direction is privacy loss, because IG is always non-negative)

Medium Privacy: Any private information Q lost that has a PL > 0 is privacy loss.

Weak Privacy: Any information Q lost that has PL > 0 and that P is more certain regarding guilt (For the purpose of punitive assurance, this is any certainty about reality being the same as clandestine actor’s desired outcome whose truth will generate reward for the clandestine actor. ).

SP, MP, and WP for the lazy.

Punitive Privacy Assurance:

Strong Punitive Privacy Assurance: Penalize clandestine actor for my strong privacy loss.

Medium Punitive Privacy Assurance: penalize clandestine actor only for my medium privacy loss.

Weak Punitive Privacy Assurance: Penalize clandestine actor only for my weak privacy loss.

SPPA, MPPA, WPPA for the lazy.

We should have at least Weak Punitive Privacy Assurance(WPPA) in America. IMHO

Am I the only one II

There was this one time, when everybody around me suddenly started acting weird: “Stay Calm Huan!” one person yelled holding both of this hands out palm facing me as if to keep me at distance–I was more than three arm lengths away from him at the time.


What do you mean stay calm? The only thing really upsetting that day up to that point was him saying that to me. The next most infuriating thing? a second person walks up to me and says: “Huan! Let’s take a deep breath and calm down!”


wtf? I didn’t even say anything to that person, what do you mean calm down? You seem more agitated than I am. Your muscles tense, and even if it is in preparation to pounce on me when I try something physical, it is uncalled for, there is absolutely no reason for that–at least not at my provocation.


I take the elevator, and conveniently each time a building security person or a fat coworker rides with me. wtf? Are they like following me today?


Stay Calm! he says…


wtf? What The Fuck it is about me that make you think I am not calm ?


I find that I am more easily agitated since these events at work some years ago.


Anyway, I thought I’d write these sensations down. Some moments, when I think back, and wonder if those densely packed meetings weeks leading up to that moment were these people accuse me of being agitated were scheming up the details of how to agitate me so that it would seem I  acted inappropriately?


Because if there were audio recordings of events that day, and I’m not saying there is, it would sound like I had a gun in my hand and all these scared people are trying to stay alive–I didn’t have any weapons and I certainly did not think of hurting any of those people. And after they did that to me, I still don’t want to kill any of them.


The fear and stress coming from their voices scares me: I fear that they may kill me someday. They already feel scared of me and acted under coordination  to “keep Huan calm”. Surely this fear, untreated, will bring some other man-made disaster to me in our future encounters.


People who do this kind of stuff should stay in movie studios, when this kind of stuff come to live, to one’s own person, to one’s own ears, mind, one’s reality starts to splinter.


All these nice wonderful people…



But one thing for sure thing. I am here, today, to announce, that for the length of my time on earth, and beyond if I exist, I will never do this to another fellow being. I will never organize it, and I will never participate in it, and I shall make vigilant effort to stay out of it.

Should it be legal?

Time for another episode of “should it be legal ?”


Think of it… we’re in Philadelphia, no the movie, not the city. And Tom Hanks discovers that the corporate email server is very slow… too slow in fact to receive the document he is trying to emailed to his assistant before the end of statute of limitations was set to expire the next day. Would this count towards illegal discriminatory behavior based on race, age, sexual preference or country of origin?


Actually a more important question to ask is does anybody even care of fairness at work place? Are there any amongst you that would agree to racial discrimination just to receive some shares of stocks or to feed your family? In this time of terrible economic crisis, I think most people in America do not have the liberty to act on concerns of unfairness.


Why has there been more frequent economic crisis? I think I finally know why. It is not because corporate America cannot keep accounts straight or evaluate risk on mortgage loans! The crisis for all practical purposes legalizes discrimination. Everybody is holding their own mouths shut for fear of being seen as against the company.


Is it legal in America to restrict employee work-place internet connections and bandwidth based primarily on race, and place of origin?


Personally, having no law degree, I feel that it is race based preferential treatment and unfairly bias against a certain group based on racial characteristics and place of origin.


Oh, I mean, I know it can’t be traced to the company… just like that fax was lost and recovered inexplicably in Philadelphia. But the mere fact of this capability should be announced publicly like when police decides to arrest people they have to say out loud what and why they are doing it. When the company inspects the employee’s connections from work place computer and delay it or disrupt it, it must be done in an unbiased way.


Am I, like, the only one?

Dude, am I like the only one under the sun who don’t know who or how emails are being “unsent” ?


The symptom is this: I type the email, hit send, it goes away. Next day (or several days later), I become aware that recipient did not receive the email. I look for the email and it is stored as an unsent “DRAFT” in gmail.


I did some quick search on google and didn’t see anybody else talk about this. But my email (gmail) often become unsent after I hit the send button. I doubt it is a bug on google’s side. I also doubt it is very wide spread, since I have neither seen or heard anybody mention this problem.


But it does happen often when the content of email is undesirable for the recipient. This happens both in google’s free accounts and in a paid enterprise version of gmail. It happens both in work email and in personal email.


I mean, I guess I should admit, now that I’m at it, that I also have occasional ED… Because it is of similar level of embarrassment for a computer guy to not know this crucial skill is probably like ED to sexual ability of man–naturally occurring but failing. Oh, and!?, btw!? I also have urinary incontinence. Experiencing all three, I can tell you that they don’t kill you, but all are very inconvenient and can be very very embarrassing.


Let’s see, what have I tried:


* Tried google’s 2-phase verification.

* Tried paying google for the gmail account.

* HTTPS always, man-in-the-middle due to invisible corporate proxy cannot be. And it happens at home too.

* And failing that, using a mobile device that goes through an entirely physically separate cellular network.

* Use chrome, which supposedly is more secure than other browsers.

* Bcc myself on all mail.

* porn, sex, not drinking water, and diapers.


Still, emails become unsent the next day. The problem with this is that if it is not a bug, then the people who cause this to happen is seriously detracting from my ability to work and live. I mean, I have thought about how it might be my boss who just want to delay a few projects so that he doesn’t have to give me bonus, or my coworker who want to make me look bad so that he can get bonus, or the HR/legal of company who want to reduce liability of the company by making it look like I didn’t communicate vital but damaging information.


But those are just suspicions of a really insane person. I mean, seriously, what are the chances that the silly secretary or office manager have more access to information and control my communications than I do? I mean, com’on I actually work and produce things that the company sell for money, it cannot possibly be that there is a person who sits there and reads every single email and evaluates them and selectively unsends them.


I don’t have trouble believing that shrewd corporate competitors and business man and an occasional hacker have the means to do this, but the unsending of email happens at several companies, several accounts under management by different people. It happens enough to make me think that every company officially has the capability of unsending emails hosted by google?


Is this an attack by Microsoft? Part of the scroogle campaign? Some coworker do come from M$ family… Corporate conspiracy to defame google?


Despite these occasional intrusions, I have not been motivated to seek out a new email service provider (ESP) for my personal account, and certainly have no better alternative to recommend to work place.


Also, it could be that I just suffer from some kind of interruption in consciousness and somehow I have clicked on “INBOX” instead of “Send” on those occasions. But this is very unlikely as many of these emails contain important information. Also, there are occasions when I’ve checked that the email is in the “SENT” box before leaving work and then seeing the email in “DRAFT” folder several days later.


I know I won’t be the first or last guy to complain about ED… But how come there isn’t awareness campaigns and support groups for people who’s email get unsent?




Btw, if you ever get raging hemorrhoids that stay for months and months or anal fissure that reappear daily, try to use some baby diaper cream in addition to the fiber that the doctor prescribe. They cream help you heal just as much as they help baby. fyi I guess… At least I have found some solutions regarding this embarrassing matter.

Insurance, Universal Health, and BS (slight repeat)

I would not be the first one to point out that this is the way things are. Hospital bills are insanely high. The birthing of my child including the subsequent 11 days of hospital NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay at the Stanford Lucile Packard Children Hospital resulted in a combined bill for both mom and child of $157k. And let me say upfront the staff at LPCH worked very hard to make our stay comfortable. We learned a lot about taking care of the baby there from all the wonderful nurses and Dr.’s

$175k is a lot of money: With that money I could three(3) base Model S’s. Or I could pay off of some of my mortgage. Or pay off my parent’s mortgage. At my planned saving rate of about $20k a year, it would take me 8.5 years to accumulate that amount of money, just for a single incident of child-birth(not including continuing costs after the fact). Now, being an informed modern man, I appreciate the 99.99%(estimated) success rate of child-birth that this cost buys me. And indeed my child is healthy and alive, and she may very well not be if we had her in a wilder situation where the cost is less. The peace of mind that we have knowing that there is a machine and two nurses watching over the child during those tenuous times is very much worth it.

Now there are two issues of concern. One of them is that the entire process was not 100% pleasant, there were times when we wondered if the doctors/nurses/staff were picking on us because of our minority status or apparent lack of wealth or influence. Some staff were quite obnoxious, one even dropped his badge in an inconspicuous place in order to lift my wife’s cover to search for it. what a pervert!

Anyway, that’s not the problem. This $175k bill would have put me in debt for 8.5 years if I did not have an insurance. The insurance company negotiated a different price tier and then paid for about 95% of the negotiated fees to the LPCH. Without insurance company, I may have simply taken the child home after birth and watched her stop breathing and then eventually rush her body to the hospital. Without insurance, my wife would suffer from untreated back injury from the birthing process. Without insurance, I would not be able to take the baby to a dr. about the mucky eyes she has and eating/pooping/peeing issues and various growths and spots and all kinds of weird alien things baby produce. Life would not be life as I know it without the group comprehensive insurance provided by my employer.

Recalling just a mere 6 months prior to this, I was rejected for insurance by a large PPO because I checked a box that said I snored–due to a prior condition. I am a fairly healthy person in my mid 30’s and being rejected for health insurance was the last thing I expected… it kind of ended my consulting career.

Let’s think of health insurance in more detail. Insurance is a benefit, part of my compensation package, my employee give me for my service to the company. What this means is that I must work for an employee that provides group insurance in order to continue to receive this kind of benefit.

It would seem that the pressure and flow of money is as follows: medical cost is high, insanely high, to a point that it would appear an uninsured person cannot pay for basic care. Each individual is highly incentivized to work for large corporations that provide group health insurance, because if they don’t they cannot get health coverage and because the cost of health care is high, they cannot get health care. (oh, and also in the same breath, only spouse of a heterosexual marriage can benefit under group health insurance)

I personally appreciate the role of doctors play in society. They use their life’s time and energy to become good at treating people’s illnesses so that other people can live long and happy lives. I think the medical-industrial-complex that power advanced research in science and technology that produce advanced diagnostic tools (xray,mri, etc.) and drugs, and genetic therapy, and stem cell research, all these things trying to make people’s life better are great! It costs a lot of money and require a lot of resources: universities, hospitals, buildings, power/computing infrastructure, lots of smart people to achieve advancement. So an expensive drug, expensive test, if charged by original developer, is cost to pay for past and future research. Expensive doctor is to pay for his educational cost and to maintain his alertness, dedication to the unbiased professional medical treatment of his patients. I want them to make more money because I don’t want to have to wonder if my Jewish doctor treat Jewish children better than my child or if my Russian doctor treat his Russian patients differently from my wife. I want to receive good treatment and I believe that most doctors are paid above other people not only because of their unique skill sets but also because they rise above all that, ethically, and heal their patients any human patients to health.

BUT, that fact is being exploited by large corporations. Only large corporations can afford group health insurance. Therefore only they have access to people who want health care. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with this. But practically it forces all health-conscious people to subscribe to corporate culture. We do not have a choice in how we contribute to society, but as long as we want to see a doctor when we need, we must be part of a large organization full-time.

Some additional aspects of this arrangement: If I had a serious prior condition that requires constant treatment, then I must be employed at a large company in order to survive with life. If there are any bias in corporate employment then the same bias would occur in availability of medical treatment. If I stop working or have never had insurance, I must work for a company because I will not be able to get insurance having a break in health coverage. I cannot leave the company for injustice or corruption immediately and in the duration of dispute, I may not be able to continue with insurance, and the interruption in coverage will result in the impossibility of my getting health insurance.

I have always been in favor of universal health care in America. This is not because I come from a faux-social/communist China. I am in favor of universal health care despite the fact that the medical super industry will not receive as much money from patients because the US government will surely negotiate an even better price than the private insurance companies. I am in favor of universal health care–for basic maintenance care–because health, along with wealth, is part of our pursuit of happiness. I do not believe one can be happy secured with his wealth but insecure with his health, and we should have the freedom to choose health independent of wealth. Health is life. Right of life means right of health, protection for right of life means protection for right of health–in fact protection to right of health should be on par with the right to secure one’s wealth. Health is happiness. Pursuit of happiness requires health. This is why I think universal health care–to a certain level–is a must. Even if it detracts slightly from advanced medical research.

Okay, moving on. A thought occur to me the other day on the way home from my health-coverage earning job in corporate America. I thought of the transitive action space(TAS) more. The TAS encodes actions between people, therefore should be thought of as only encompassing all endeavors regarding acting morally. Again, I justify this because the original thread of thought came form the golden and silver rules of ethics both of which directs us in how to act.

But clearly they have said more than that, for instance it has been said that one should “love thy neighbor as thy self.” Granted this a command in the TAS, but more action this is a feeling. Love is a feeling, is a state of mind that can occur without visible action in the TAS. Perhaps we should also mention the existence of transitive emotional space, TES. Subsets of TES instructs us about the moral ways to feel–whether we have control over feelings, and are they moral if we control the feeling rather than naturally feel, is an entirely different discussion. We can, in fact, specify the subspace of TES that is moral, the Bible sure does.

There are of course yet other instructions in morality that instructs us on how to “be”. “Be one with God,” “Be one with the universe,” “Being a higher being,” “Being enlightened”… and so on and so forth. Some argue that the being is creating an internal state, and therefore being moral is the moral motive force that enable us to act and feel morally. Some even stipulate that without a moral motive force a moral space in TAS is not moral. For instance, if I feed my baby with an intent driven by the perverted curiosity of seeing a grossly obese 1yr old, then the action of “feeding a baby” in TAS is entirely moral (possibly universally), but the being inside BS is immoral. Most would agree that the act is entirely immoral.

Therefore we should also seriously consider BS–Being Space that contain all the ways that we could be. The challenge of such a space is that BS is of much higher cardinality than TAS. In the real world, we can very likely specify countable discrete TAS for a certain self contained situation in which we have to make moral choices, where as I am not able to imagine the “enlightened” and “universe” beingness of BS–do they intersect? does one contain the other? What are the sets in TAS that corresponds to their intersections? Does intersection and containment make sense in the BS? How do I choice to be something BS? How do I be something in the BS?

Ultimately, the choice of TAS seem rightous at this stage of my investigation. And I beleive that even if BS is ultimately the only space where morality is true, that there is a TAS projection from BS that can be modeled. From time to time, we may need to point out the relation between a TAS set and BS but until I have the language to discuss it, BS shall remain mysterious and unexplained.