Sunday, December 04, 2011

Eat More Kale! Eat Less Chick-fil-A!

Used properly, trademarks are a good thing. They help us identify the source of goods and services so that we can rely on brand and reputation when we buy products. McDonald's is known for being cheap, easy, and fast. The Ritz is known for being expensive and luxurious. This is beneficial for both the producer and the consumer.

However grasping for too much of a good thing results in an evil outcome. Many corporations use their considerable money power to do the wrong thing with trademarks and try to control too much. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Luckily trademarks are dependent on people power (as well as trademark law) and people power can be used as a check and balance against corporate money power by decreasing its ability to earn money. If a company does wrong, its trademark can then be associated with its misdeeds, and those associations can then cause the producer to lose business rather than gain business. Think Enron.

It behooves corporations to use their power wisely or suffer natural consequences.

Chick-fil-A has done wrong and has become a corporation that deserves some natural consequences. Chick-fil-A supports discrimination when it funds anti-gay groups (see and it is trying to control too much when it tries to block others from using the phrase "Eat More..." (see

Here is what you can do to correct these wrongs. Ask everyone to "Eat More Kale! Eat Less Chick-fil-A!"

Email it. Twitter it. Facebook it. Paper-mail it. Leave it behind at Chick-fil-A restaurants. Just do it. It's easy. Hopefully Chick-fil-A and others will get the point and change their position when their business loses millions of dollars now and in the future because they made these bad business decisions. Eating more kale and less Chick-fil-A will make our world a healthier and happier place.

Eat More Kale! Eat Less Chick-fil-A!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Hate cannot drive out hate...

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fixing the US Education System

In the article Our Broken Escalator (New York Times, July 16, 2011) Nicholas Kristof makes the point that "education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country." He laments that we are not spending enough on education in the US while we spend a tremendous amount of money on our military.

I agree that education is a critical investment and well worth the money. And that we spend too much money on our military. However, simply spending more on education without a good plan won't work. Plus there are stats that show we are spending more per year on education in inflation adjusted dollars now than we spent per year in each of the last 40 years.

The following are two excellent research reports which have better information on what makes an excellent educational system and how to improve it than any other research I've yet been able to find (if you find better, please let me know):

How the world's best-performing school systems come out on top (2007)

How the world's most improved school systems keep getting better (2010)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Root Causes of the Arab Spring

It is marvelous and reassuring that many Arab nations have taken significant steps toward democracy. Why did this happen now? Here are my thoughts:
  1. Dictatorships are fundamentally unsustainable. Democracy is simply a better system of government. People want to control their own destiny and govern themselves. The ongoing dictatorships built up much unrest in many Arab countries for a very long time and it has just been waiting for the right trigger.

  2. The rise of the Internet allowed those in Arab nations to learn more about how the rest of the world operated -- both historically and in real time. Knowledge is power. An event in Tunisia proved to be the trigger that sparked its revolution and this in turn sparked others (Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, etc).

  3. Cell phones (in addition to the internet) allowed groups of people to coordinate their efforts. Knowledge is power.

  4. Al Jazeera provided an independent, successful and very visible free press run by Arabs with reasonably balanced viewpoints on Arab news. Many other press organizations in Arab countries have been strongly controlled by governments, but not so with Al Jazeera. A free press is necessary for democracy.

  5. The election of Obama demonstrated to the world that the system of democracy in the United States did not keep the US locked into an imperialist model -- the people can speak and elect someone from a minority who has a more balanced view of how the US can work with the world (rather than abuse its power). The policies of George W Bush (particularly invading Iraq) wreaked havoc on the US's public image world wide and particularly in the Arab world. Where as Obama's Presidency has restored faith that the US system of government (and thereby democracy in general) can self correct to choose better courses of action.

Here are some lessons to take away from the Arab Spring phenomenon:
  1. Nation building by force (like Iraq) is a very, very costly and wasteful proposition.

  2. Providing a fertile setting and letting nature take its course is much more cost effective and sustainable (Tunisia, Egypt, etc).

Strangely but not surprisingly, the US and England shot themselves in the foot in regards to spreading democracy when they interfered with a budding democracy in Iran in the 1950s -- choosing instead to clandestinely engineer the return to power of the Shah of Iran -- in order to achieve some short term gains. This proved disastrous in the long run with Iran later turning violently anti-US. Imagine how the Arab world might have turned out had democracy succeeded in Iran in those early days and if we had helped a democratic ally rather than undermining it. Iran might have then had 50-60 years of democracy for it to stabilize and hopefully spread to others in the region. This may or may not have been how it would have played out, but it could have. I think it is important for the US to have a cordial and supportive relationship with all other democracies -- even if they choose policies that are not what the US might want . If the country in question is a democracy than it is what the people of that country wanted. It is important for the US to honor the sovereignty of other countries so that they in turn are more likely to respect us.

These same dynamics along with growing wealth and a growing middle class will eventually lead to change even in China despite the considerable success China's government has had in perpetuating itself. It will take time but it is inevitable. The will of the people shall rule in the long term.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earthquake info & Information Literacy 101

Below is a simple case study in information literacy that is worth reading. Since this is an email thread, read from the bottom up.

Hi All,

This is a great information literacy learning opportunity: how does one determine which information is truly accurate?

A) The email from a friend that cites an expert and tells a good personal story?
B) An article that discusses pros and cons and cites a long list of corroborating references?

Many pick option A because people trust friends more than strangers and like a good personal story. Also people naturally want simple easy answers and don't like weighing pros and cons, dealing with probabilities, or having to critically evaluate what they read. Also, such emails just show up in inboxes with no effort needed to do some research (so many never even even get to option B).

However option B, while more work to digest, is more likely to be accurate because it took significant work to do the analysis, it recognizes both pros and cons, it is published by a site that itself has been evaluated by many others (, and it has many cross references to well known and respected groups that likewise did real research and have many experts (not just 1) to cross check each other.

The Doug Copp email is an example of a social engineering chain letter that keeps getting passed from one person to the next forever. These often have partial truths and always tempt people to forward because people like helping people and this seems to be something helpful. These emails are actually a type of virus that uses both email and human fingers as transmission agents. Some are benign (like humorous feel good emails) while others spread misinformation.

Whenever you receive a forwarded email, please evaluate it critically and cross check it for accuracy before believing it or forwarding to anyone else. You'll be doing all of your friends a favor.

This may be a good educational opportunity for your kids (even though this sort of email is pretty boring for most kids :-). Misinformation/urban legends also spread by word-of-mouth, Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. It's important for our kids to learn how to know what is most likely true and what is not.

Sorry for being a bit pedantic, it's just that I care passionately for truth, accuracy, and a really good education.

Tim Oey

-----------------in reply to--------------------------
On Mar 25, 2011, at 8:21 AM, mara wrote:

It is interesting information. I checked it out on and they shared some interesting information on the man discussed in the article. I don't know what to believe.


-----------------in reply to--------------------------
From: "Carol"
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011 6:55:00 AM
Subject: [WVS-discuss] Fwd: Where to Go During an Earthquake

I thought people might be interested in this.


we all were taught wrong when we were taught how to protect ourselves from earthquakes!!! I hope you all read this and remember it. We never know when the next one will hit... . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Where to Go During an Earthquake

Remember that stuff about hiding under a table or standing in a doorway? Well, forget it! This is a real eye opener. It could save your life someday.


My name is Doug Copp I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI ), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years, and have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene -- unnecessary.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them - NOT under them. This space is what I call the 'triangle of life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' when building collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency' (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone's life...

The entire world is experiencing natural calamities, so be prepared!

'We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly'

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did 'duck and cover,' and ten mannequins I used in my 'triangle of life' survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the 'triangle of life.' This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Subject: Save your life with "The Triangle of Life"

"Triangle of Life":

Without listening or reading, simply by looking at the following self-explanatory photos, you can learn more than in a thousand words about how to protect yourself during a major earthquake...

If you are inside a vehicle, come out and sit or lie down next to it. If something falls on the vehicle, it will leave an empty space along the sides. See below:


American Rescue Team International ART said to be the World's most experienced rescue team and disaster management-mitigation organization.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Getting to the real truth of a matter can take a HUGE amount of work. Both science and our legal system endeavor to do this in a methodical fashion.

Here is a recounting of a 5 year legal adventure I undertook to defend truth, justice, and the American Way -- and protect some innocents and free speech:

History -- Freecycle Forever

Monday, January 17, 2011

In the beginning, what are the “right” boundaries?

Right to Lifers believe that the rights of an embryo/fetus always take precedent over the rights of the woman carrying it.

Pro Choicers believe that a woman has some rights that supersede those of the embryo/fetus for some portion of time between conception and birth.

The US Supreme Court in Roe v Wade ( concurred with the Pro Choicers -- deciding that there is a period between conception and birth where a woman's rights supersede those of the embryo (and state).

In my view, the US Supreme Court decision was proper and fair. There is no good clean dividing line between non-existence and life and a reasonable choice by reasonable people is the best we can do. In this case the woman herself is in the best position to make that decision, as it is her body and her life.

We (mankind) have empowered ourselves to make decisions for ourselves rather than letting nature dictate -- by using knowledge and tools to change the world around us. Yes we chose to bite into the Apple of Knowledge and now we have the right and responsibility to choose our own destiny. For better or worse, this is the path that God (or whoever) has let us pursue.

We have enough people already in the world. It is not a requirement we have more and in fact we should even reduce our population. Mistakes are easy to make at conception. Nature itself causes "abortion" to happen if it determines that the embryo/fetus is not viable. For a portion of time, people should likewise have that option to choose for medical, economic, and life reasons. Not all women or families want or are capable of raising a child (or an additional one) -- or be willing to give it away for adoption. None of us have unlimited resources. We all must make hard choices at times. We cannot have unlimited life. In fact cancer is an example of unlimited life with no control.

The foundation of the US is based upon a balance between the rights of the many and the rights of the few. We cannot dictate one religious view on others.

Thus not only is pro choice correct for moral reasons, it is also correct for many practical reasons as well. There is not a simple black and white choice in this case. We have the power, we have the responsibility, we have the right for each of us to make our own choices and choose our own destinies.

The birth of each human has huge consequences for our world and deserves to be weighed carefully by those who are most responsible for that new life -- the parents and particularly the woman who is bearing the child. Roe v Wade is a reasonable compromise.