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In a startup environment…

Through the year of 2012, I’ll highlight the moments of being in and now working on a startup.

  • What you do – is not wasted. (It’s how the dots will link together)
  • Who you meet is all important. (They could be your future brothers)
  • What you see – isn’t reality. (It’s years of hard work)
  • What you count – isn’t money. (It’s sweat, blood, tears of a team through the last few months)
  • What you want to do – can be done. (It’s how we manage our expectations & find the right talent.)
  • What you hear – isn’t successful marketing campaigns. (It’s real people doing things right.)
  • What you have to do – Be honest. (Lies can be seen in hours.)
  • What you do next – Might sound risky. (No pain, no gain, it’s about calculated risk and managing them.)
  • Belief is very important – Morales. (In a startup, you hear your inner voice, no financial advisors or mentors. Your sole decisions affects everyone around you. I’ve learnt it the hard way)
  • Your true happiness – Is about helping people making life a lil better for everyone.
  • Credit and power – Is all about your great team that runs with you.
  • Your competitors – There to motivate and support you.
  • Don’t torture yourself – If you are not happy about what you are working on, quit or review it immediately. Never leave life to chance.
  • The difference between yesterday and today? – Action

You never know tomorrow exist.

Categories: LifeBlog.

Are we reacting everyday?

It’s time to get ‘proactive’

Being able to evolve and progress in business and life means pacing ourselves to engage our thinking in activities that will help us to…

– achieve something we haven’t done before;

– do something better than we did it last time;

– find a more effective way of doing something that we’re used to doing routinely.

This is proactive thinking. It’s about taking time to strategize where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. I firmly believe that business is a marathon, not a sprint. If you try to take speedy shortcuts and react quickly to events, you won’t necessarily reach your destination any quicker. You might even end up heading the wrong way and have to promptly change course. And none of us like to be in that situation!

So, why do so many of us get caught up in this kind of reactive thinking?

…Because it’s easy to think that being busy means being productive – that if we deal with tasks as soon as they arise, we’re making progress. But in rushing to get through these tasks, we’re not giving them the attention and depth of thought they might need. This can be lethal to our creativity. By thinking proactively, we come to understand that innovative success is a force to be purposefully cultivated and deployed. We learn to push the boundaries with careful planning and strategizing, rather than using the same old tried-and-tested formulas.

(Source: Wearelikeminds)

Typically to our work environments in South East Asia and especially to younger executives, it is often that we get too caught up with the existing pool of work without taking account into the future roadmap.

When tight and near impossible deadlines are imminent, it is hard to be creative nor flexible. New ideas will look like a chore – desiring little motivation and purpose. Brickwalls are now hard to climb over. You are easily stressed.

J

Categories: LifeBlog.

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Buying Free: Guide to Buying Stuff

Firstly, We love to buy stuff.
Secondly, We love instructions, guides & how-to's manuals.
Thirdly, I love to write, occasionally.

Let’s buy, free – the invisible price-tag.


There are promotions everywhere, and businesses affix “FREE” labels in every product they can find in an attempt to lure more consumers. I think that there’s nothing wrong with that, as the main idea for the business is to generate profit & achieve their targets.
The problem lies with the consumers.

Businesses are run by people. Since we are all consumers (Yes, don’t you buy groceries or anything?) – Businesses are simply consumers too.

As humans, we tend to be more attracted to freebies and giveaways. Some of us are impulse buyers, but I guess we have to look through the thin line of feasibility. Like what marketers always say, we don’t create the product. Rather, we create the demand – the need of the item through multiple promotional & sales channels.

Logically, the item (free or not) is factored into the pricing of the product.

There’s 3 types of free
1) FREE for life, – Probably, something physical. (You’ve already paid for it)
2) FREE TRIAL – you’re physically given credits, emotionally, you’re locked in to the service / product. (You’re going to pay for it soon, unless your heart tells you otherwise. But due to the nature of how we are being brought up – It’s not that hard getting the consumer to pay after the trial.)
3) Freemium – The current trend of monetization, the company will offer you it’s barely sufficient plan – hoping that you will upgrade to the paid tier. I would say, this is really a large step for the consumer, as you could test it’s usefulness through time.

So here are some questions to ask, before buying items with FREE labeled on it.

BEFORE YOU ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS – YOU NEED TO HAVE SELF REASONING SKILLS.
Which I believe it’s in all of our blood, so let’s begin!

Scenario: You go to a supermarket / store, and see an item you really want.. You really want to buy it, but you are on a tight budget. So here are some questions..

1) Do I need this product?

1a) No, drop it.
1b) Yes, why?
(Do the answer come straight to your head? Or are you trying to come out with a use for that? If your answer is the latter, refer to 1a)

2) Frequency – How many times would I use it anyway?

2a) Really often. (Move to Question 3)
2b) I’m not too sure, rarely, almost never? Or still thinking how to answer this question? Refer to 1a. Or you could simply rent or borrow it from someone.

3) Alternatives

3a) Have I tried looking for the product on another platform? Internet? or other stores down the road?
There’s so many group-buying (Groupon), Auction Sites (eBay / Qoo10), Forums & e-Retailers.
On top of that, there are many eCoupons & voucher codes available on the internet. (You can input those before you checkout)
3b) Is there another product that’s equally competitive by another manufacturer? The bang for the buck – Remember, it’s not always the cheaper the better, neither, the other way round.
Also, check the specifications (Such as the volume, quality, etc), not just the pricing.
3c) Are there any problems with the particular model or product you crave? Look it up on Amazon.com, popular forums, hit the Google search for reviews. *Bonus if you have a data plan on the go*
3d) Timing & Seasons – A PC show next month? Summer sales a few weeks down the road? New model in the upcoming weeks? Can I wait?
If you did not bother to try out any of the options above, refer to 1a.

4) The Free Factor

After the long decision process, that’s where you figure out whether the ‘Free’ price tag is worth abiding by.
Think ‘free’, the new ‘paid’.
4a) Is it worth buying the item with the ‘free’ item?
4b) If you do not need the ‘free’ item, what are you going to do with it? Where is it’s new home?

5) Shelf Life & Future Provisions

I guess it’s entirely logical if I’ve to write about the practically of the future and the afterlife of the item. (Before you even buy it, yes, similar to Birth Planning)
5a) Do you have space to house the item? (Logistics)
5b) Is there any consequences after buying the item (No $ for dinner or rent, etc)
5c) How long do you expect the product to last anyway?
That’s where you decide on the quantity to purchase.

This is a long guide, but for all the impulse buyers. Here’s a toast to you.

Thoughts?

Categories: LifeBlog.

Start Connecting Dots

This is definitely not the first time where I stop & think:

“Hey, are we doing the things that I really want to do?”

Moments later …

“Are we just doing it just for the sake of a short-term goal? Or are we just pleasing someone behind our backs?”

I believe everyone had somehow asked themselves this question before, somewhat directly or not, or during the times where you are in the middle of the crossroad.

No matter what the situation might be, this same story (from Steve Jobs) came back to me:

When Steve dropped out of college, he went for a lesson tour; sitting in and switching lessons that he had a keen interest in & one of the important lessons he sat determined the great typography in Apple Computers. Did he not drop out of school and sat for that particular lesson, Apple Computers will never look the same again.

As all of us, forward-looking people who move on the ranks of the society, I think we should some-how understand the concept of connecting the dots. Similar to the drawing game that you might have played when you are young, it is all about connecting the dots in your path:

Flower-Connect-The-Dots-Coloring-Pages

Unlike the image on my left, if all the dots were so detailed, there’s basically an outcome that you can already foresee. I strongly believe that in many scenarios, all of us (including myself), pick up & learn new things that some of the times, we have no interest in or something that’s in no relation to our career paths.

However, sometimes, through this minor pockets of learning in everyone’s life, the invisible dots in our destiny will appear & if the lines were drawn perfectly and to scale, it will definitely give you the perfect image.

Notice that all of the dots are entirely dependent on no-one else other than you. Furthermore, all of this dots would never exist unless you went sourcing for opportunities or it literally came knocking to you (Rarely),

Here’s the punchline: Even though opportunities do exist, just like dots with labels in the picture (above), the lines are oftenly not drawn & soon enough, the labels and the dots will fade away. With another opportunity lost. It’s about how we connect the lines and find the right dots.

While I could only speak about myself, I’m still try to get my lines drawn (At best) & of course, if you got it connected, let me know!

Best of luck connecting those dots!

Source (Image: Colouring Page Sheets)

Categories: LifeBlog, Thoughts.

Educamp Singapore 4 @ ITE College East

So here’s yet another attempt of me sharing what events are on lately. Happened recently is Educamp, where people get-together to talk about various aspects of educations and learning. People get to share their cool projects, ideas and research findings. The topics are then based on participants votes.

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The 4th installment of EduCamp is held at ITE College East (LT3), where there are about 40 odd people. They come from various education institutions & diverse backgrounds. Well, some educators, some doing some awesome startups and curators.

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One of the hot topics that was on the board was the debate of virtual online classrooms, the likes of Khan Academy and OpenLectures. What is the future of online learning? – The face to face element is still really important, so there needs to be some kind of balance.

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The next is about Flipped Learning, where the teachers move lectures out of the classroom and moves the ‘”homework” to the classroom. Students get to spend more time about problems in class with their peers and get their lectures at home (Through teacher-aided online materials, online videos and so on). Mind-opening, great potential.

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There was some chatter about Flipped Presentations, where students come to school prepared for every lesson at home to talk about what they’ve learnt & they shared it with everyone else. Pretty insightful.

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Some insights of the usage of education through online media; if you change the medium but not the teaching method, it won’t work. No matter its podcasting, to vodcasting or what Social Media platforms.

(Next the event got split into both rooms, for those who can fill me in for the other room, drop me a tweet (@thejeremygoh) or email me (contact on the right), you’ll really help everyone in the community, loads of karma points!)

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The next presentation is a brief showcase of an iPhone app to help educators, it got developed in a few hours during a development bootcamp. It mainly is a to-do list integrated with a class register, so that would really help collecting Edusave forms easier/report book/class tests/etc. It also aims to include a private social network in it, where teachers could basically gossip about students (in a good way) & help students to improve through collaboration. Monetization through subscription & customized development. Base code will be open sourced. (Still in discussion) Thoughts?

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The next presentation is where an NUS lecturer share that he took the learning out of the classroom, bringing students to the nature like Palau Ubin or Botanical Gardens, where they use their laptops to look through pinpoints done by lecturers, students would have to observe the plant, take photos of them & they would have to basically work together. A junior is attached to the senior (Junior gets to learn technical skills from Senior, Senior gets to learn project management skills) & during the process, the assignment must create some sort of fear (A police and thief concept), so that the student will be on their toes. Everyone had fun.

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Startup Weekend, all about the history and the future in Startups!

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The next presentation is about #edsg (Educate Singapore), where a group of people requests everyone to use that hashtag on any tweet on Twitter that has a form of educational value. A platform of people where they collaborate and learn different things from people. So if you’re on Twitter, use it, why not?

(I will fork the section out below and create a blog post dedicated about my talk soon)

Plug: I also spoke about Social Media in Education, here’s a sweet summary of points:

  • Use Facebook Groups for Communications
    • All your students are on it, you should too!
    • That platform could allow a collaborative discussion in seconds, its human instinct to hit the comment and like button
    • You get a ton of likes!
  • Use Tumblr as a Blogging Platform
    • Not that everyone in the world is using it, but it’s easy to use and manage
    • The design and setting it up makes sure your content comes from, among anything else.
    • Maths, Science, Geography? Condense all of those long texts and put it on Tumblr
  • Use Wikia for Community Building – This case, Wikipedia for Classrooms
    • Recognize: Not every student have identical learning abilities
    • Students to make notes for every lesson and make sure they use Wikia to contribute it online – Threaten if they don’t when possible.
    • Any student could edit those notes and add in theirs, making it more useful over time.
    • Outcome: Solving class learning inequalities + Students sharing knowledge
    • BONUS: Education is now open source, everyone could view and learn from there. Going out of schools, to help others in the world.
  • Integration
    • Your role is to find a way to integrate all of this tactics to help your learning.
    • Good luck & remember to report back here!
  • Questions?
    • How About Twitter
    • Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that limits the message to 140 characters, but the platform have a higher learning curve (learning about RT, @mentions and so on) and it is to saturated with many teenagers twitters posting about them wanting to cut themselves, relationship turmoil & I love you texts. So it’s basically too ‘noisy’.
    • Okay: Here’s a great tip, you can hashtag your Twitter classroom topics, like get your students to hashtag your lectures and make sure that you can follow their conversation & vice versa via Twitter.
  • You can contribute your questions by commenting below, I will write what I think here. On top of that, I will publish a blog post about Social Media in a conducive classroom / learning environment soon.

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Visited HackerSpace after that, nothing too exciting about programming, development and coding. Well, if you’re interested, there’s W3Schools, get started there.

If you visited the event & have loads of additional materials and content to provide to my blog, please kindly share them, for the love of the community. Drop a tweet or email me (details on the sidebar)

Cheers!

Categories: Learning, Views.

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Indian Muslims Show Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Warnings About Islam Are Misplaced Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who recommended bombing Muslim nations that allowed their people to burn effigies of smalljude / Foter / CC BYAmerican leaders in a Reason interview some years ago, has moderated her views since then. She now says that "military action alone" won't temper Islamic extremism and what the Islamic world really needs is a reformation. She has even outlined what that would entail in a brand new book titled Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. But until that happens, she suggested in a recent TIME piece, Americans need to really worry about rising Muslim immigration. Why? Because it could lead to Charlie Hebdo-style attacks on American soil, she suggests, given that even moderate Muslims ultimately will have a hard time melting in the American pot. The suggestion that Americans, who have spent trillions on multiple wars and an intrusive "homeland security" apparatus post 9/11, are insufficiently alarmed about Muslim extremism is more than a little bizarre. But setting that aside, how accurate is Hirsi Ali's suggestion that Muslims are inherently incapable of assimilating in non-Muslim societies? Not very, if the experience of India, the world's most populous democracy, is any indication. Muslims make up almost 15% of India's population, compared to 0.8% in America. And they couldn't be any more dissimilar to the portrait drawn by Hirsi Ali… Muslims have lived in India for a millennium, first arriving in small pockets as traders and then in large numbers as invaders. They established the Mughal dynasty that ruled the country for 300 years till the Hindu majority took over and established a secular democracy after colonial rule ended in 1947. If Hirsi Ali were correct, the ignominy of being deposed from power and subjected to infidel rule would bring out their worst extremist tendencies. Instead, India's Muslims are no more prone to violence than anyone else… Yet, Indian Muslims have avoided the sword and eagerly seized the opportunities afforded to them by their country's (imperfect) democracy. Consider: Four Muslims have served as India's president — a ceremonial but high office reserved for civilians of major accomplishment. One of them, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, played a leading role in developing India's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program with no apparent qualms that he was boosting the military of a nation of infidels... Muslims are an integral part of every facet of Bollywood, India's 125-year-old film industry whose open veneration of romantic love is deeply subversive of puritanical Islamic strictures. Indeed, Bollywood's three top male stars right now are Muslims (all with the last name of Khan) — and Muslim women have always been among Bollywood's top actresses. Also, some of these stars are among India's most vocal progressives fighting for the rights of gays, women, and minorities — not to mention sexual liberation. But nothing speaks more to the depth of Muslims' cultural assimilation in India than the fact that Muslims have written, composed and sung some of the most popular bhajans or Hindu devotional songs… Indian Muslims are proud of their tradition of tolerance and moderation and guard it zealously from Wahhabi influence. They've even refused to bury the bodies of Muslim suicide bombers, including the Mumbai attackers, the ultimate punishment because it forever deprives the bombers of a spot in heaven. pre bonded hair "Remy: Best Song Ever! (Tax Code Edition)" is the latest from Reason TV. Watch above or click below for full lyrics, links, downloadable version, and more. View this article.

resilience.org In a great article yesterday, New York Times economics columnist Eduardo Porter shows why "sustainable development"—as in imposing energy poverty on poor countries in the name of preventing man-made global warming—is a complete nonstarter. Porter begins by pointing out that the average Nepalese consumes 100 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity per year; Cambodians, 160 kwh; and Bangladeshis, 260 kwh. In contrast, an American Energy Star-rated refrigerator burns through 300 to 600 kwh per year. The Times reports: NYT Barry Brook, professor of environmental sustainability at the University of Tasmania in Australia [correctly notes], "Most societies will not follow low-energy, low-development paths, regardless of whether they work or not to protect the environment." If billions of impoverished humans are not offered a shot at genuine development, the environment will not be saved. And that requires not just help in financing low-carbon energy sources, but also a lot of new energy, period. Offering a solar panel for every thatched roof is not going to cut it.... The citizens of poor countries—including Nepalis, Cambodians and Bangladeshis—may not aspire to that level of use [of electricity by Americans]....But they would appreciate assistance from developed nations, and the financial institutions they control, to build up the kind of energy infrastructure that could deliver the comfort and abundance that Americans and Europeans enjoy. Too often, the United States and its allies have said no. The United States relies on coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power for about 95 percent of its electricity, said Todd Moss, from the Center for Global Development. "Yet we place major restrictions on financing all four of these sources of power overseas." Hooray for the honesty! Porter points out that many developing countries are now running to join China's new infrastructure development bank because it will fund conventional energy production projects like coal and gas-fired electricity generation plants. This contrasts with the "sustainability" requirements for projects funded by World Bank and the IMF. The only thing that sustainable development orthodoxy will sustain is continued poverty, disease, and early death. remy hair extensions VTDigger.org examines the ideas of Paul Searls, a Vermont historian who has an interesting framework for understanding his state's politics (with some obvious analogs, though they aren't explored here, for politics elsewhere in the world): Searls, a professor at Lyndon State College, calls the two sides of the divide "Uphillers" and "Downhillers," terms he borrowed from historian Robert Shalhope. Searls ran into them years ago while writing his dissertation and found they neatly described the opposing factions he was seeing in his research....The Uphillers arrived in Vermont first and settled hillside farms to be safe from valley floods. After the Revolution, another wave of settlers arrived in the state. These newer arrivals, the Downhillers, tended to be from the professional class—lawyers, merchants, craftspeople and the like—and they settled in the valleys.The differences between Uphillers and Downhillers were clear from the beginning. In the 1790s, Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon, a staunch defender of Uphill interests, bemoaned the fact that Downhillers were trying to change how Vermonters governed themselves. Lyon criticized this "new set of gentry who are interested in keeping the government at a distance from, and out of the sight of the people who support it." Indeed, that is one of the main characteristics that Searls ascribes to Downhillers.Searls described the differences between Uphillers and Downhillers in his book "Two Vermonts: Geography and Identity, 1865-1910." Uphillers, he wrote, preferred "localized, informal, (and) cooperative communities," whereas Downhillers were inclined toward "competitiveness, formality, contractual relationships, and comfort with the concentration of power in increasingly large institutions." Downhillers fought for eugenics, school consolidation, hunting and fishing regulations, and "a federal government effort to move 13,000 Vermonters off farmland it deemed 'submarginal,'" among other intrusive and centralizing policies. They pushed through prohibition over Uphill objections; later, the two groups' attitudes toward alcohol flipped, with Downhillers trying to ease the rules while Uphillers held firm. (That is the one place in the article where Downhillers take the more libertarian position.) And then there's this conflict, whose details may be specific to Vermont but bring battles all over the nation to mind: Downhillers looked at the condition of Uphill communities and decided the state was suffering through a period of malaise. Their remedy was to promote the state as a tourist destination, starting in the late 1800s. But Downhillers recognized that the state's charm was its very backwardness, Searls says, so they advertised Vermont as a pre-modern society, while simultaneously attempting to modernize it. Searls sees those contradictory impulses still at work today. "Downhillers want the state to look like Uphill, but they want Vermonters to be Downhill," he explains. The rest of the article is here. Searls' book, which I have not read, can be acquired here. [Hat tip: Bryan Alexander, who says the argument reminds him of James C. Scott's book The Art of Not Being Governed.]

lewisha1990/Flickr In California, a new bill would require colleges and universities to impose a mandatory minimum sentence for campus sexual assault: two years school suspension. The rule would apply to both public and private colleges that rely on state funds for student financial aid, the same way California's affirmative consent measure operates. Since the affirmative consent law—proscribing a "yes means yes" sexual consent standard—was enacted last year, school systems and states across the country have adopted or considered a similar standard. In an era of heightened awareness/paranoia about campus rape, Williams' new mandatory minimum measure should find lots of allies. But is it wise? Even some in the sexual assault advocacy community seem skeptical. Elizabeth Woodson is Stanford student body president, co-chair of the school's sexual assault task force, and pushing for Stanford to expel any student found guilty of sexual assault. And yet, notes HuffPost: perruques cheveux naturelsWoodson is excited the legislature is paying attention to the issue, but said she can appreciate the importance of allowing each university to have autonomy over its policies. To that end, Woodson could not say whether it's better for sanctioning standards to be set by the schools or the legislature. She also noted there's little data on whether prescribing more strict punishments will increase or decrease the number of rape victims reporting assaults. A two-year school suspension does sound like light punishment for sexual assault. But that largely depends on how you define sexual assault. Under California law, it's a failure to obtain ongoing, enthusiastic, affirmative consent at each stage of a sexual encounter. The severity of transgressions legally deemed sexual assault vary widely, making the discretion of people investigating each individual case quite important. Williams' bill would take that discretion away, imposing suspension even in cases where circumstances might not warrant it. It also furthers the baffling idea that campus assault victims should go to their R.A.s rather than police. But while getting sexual predators off campus is all well and good, shouldn't we care about people they could victimize off campus too? Williams proposal seems well-intentioned but misguided, its priorities and incentives skewed. These are exactly the kind of conditions that gave birth to the mandatory minimimum prison sentence movement. In the 1980s and 1990s, state and federal legislators started rapidly escalating the criminal penalties for various drug offenses, and one of their favorite way to do this was through mandatory minimums, legal requirements that take sentencing discretion away from from judges in favor of an inflexible, statutorily parametered punishment for anyone convicted of a particular crime. Recently, criminal justice reformers in both major parties have been keen on scaling back these mandatory minimums, which have largely driven up prison populations without driving down drug use. But even as mandatory minimums for (at least some) drug penalties are on the way out, lawmakers and activists continue advocating statutory sentencing enhancements for sex-related crimes.

Hillary for America Back in 2012, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), as part of his frequent investigations of the behavior within President Barack Obama's administration as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter directly asking then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she or any other senior agency official at the State Department had used a personal email account to conduct business. She never responded, according to story at the The New York Times: Mr. Issa also asked Mrs. Clinton, "Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using nonofficial accounts?" Mr. Issa's letter also sought written documentation of the department's policies for the use of personal email for government business. Mrs. Clinton left the State Department on Feb. 1, 2013, seven weeks after the letter was sent to her. When Mr. Issa received a response from the State Department on March 27, all he got was a description of the department's email policies. According to the letter, any employee using a personal account "should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business." perruques cheveuxA Clinton aide is taking the "everybody who mattered already knew" argument as a response: An aide to Mrs. Clinton said in a statement Tuesday that "her usage was widely known to the over 100 department and U.S. government colleagues she emailed, as her address was visible on every email she sent." The relevant question (and what goes unanswered) was whether people outside the government knew she was using a non-governmental email address and whether those correspondences were hidden from public review. Also of note: Issa wasn't even targeting Clinton here. This was all a response to the discovery that staffers of the Environmental Protection Agency had been using their private or secret email accounts (and fake names) to conduct business in a way that allowed them to conceal correspondence from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Photographing Travis/flickr Religious oppression was one reason many of our ancestors came to America. They wanted to escape rulers who demanded that everyone worship their way. In Ireland, Catholics couldn't vote or own a gun. John Stossel assumed that because many of America's founders came here to escape such repression, they were eager to allow religious freedom in America. After all, the very First Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." But, writes Stossel, he was wrong. View this article. lace front wigs 401K 2013 Debates over taxes are usually framed in binary terms: Should we pay more, or should we pay less? What lawmakers and government officials do with that money is put aside for separate discussions. That's a little odd, since at least some of people's objections to having their wallets lightened are closely linked to concerns that the money will be dedicated to purposes they find immoral, useless, or personally threatening. Pacifists recoil at the knowledge that they're helping to fund occupations and bombardments, free marketeers take offense at being forced to pay for agencies that hamper entrepreneurial activity and damage prosperity, civil libertarians don't appreciate being mugged on behalf of intrusive surveillance efforts and militarized law enforcement... Would Americans find more peace with the taxes they pay if they could choose where their dollars end up? Over at The Washington Post, David Boaz of the Cato Institute suggests just that. A new final page of the 1040 form would be created, called 1040-D (for democracy). At the top, the taxpayer would write in his total tax as determined by the 1040 form. Following would be a list of government programs, along with the percentage of the federal budget devoted to each (as proposed by Congress and the president). The taxpayer would then multiply that percentage by his total tax to determine the “amount requested” in order to meet the government’s total spending request. (Computerization of tax returns has made this step simple.) The taxpayer would then consider that request and enter the amount he was willing to pay for that program in the final column–the amount requested by the government, or more, or less, down to zero. Boaz allows that there would still be disagreement over just how detailed the options presented to taxpayers should be. Would the 1040-D break it down into broad categories like "national defense" and "education," or could you select for specific expenditures and programs? My own preference here might be to direct my money to Yucca Mountain—not to build the long-delayed nuclear waste repository, but to entomb the cash amidst lethal radioactivity, and out of the reach of the likes of Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham. Frankly, I think federal officials could turn the National Endowment for the Arts into a homicidal civil rights violation if they put their minds to it. But Boaz has considered even the likes of yours truly. The real test of whether a say in budget allocation makes Americans more comfortable with the cost of government comes from the next step in Boaz's proposal: "Real budget democracy, of course, means not just that the taxpayers can decide where their money will go but also that they can decide how much of their money the government is entitled to." Taxpayers would have the ability to lower (or raise) the total amount due, in addition to deciding where it goes. Presumably, a public able to direct tax money to preferred expenditures, and away from disfavored ones, could keep agencies in line by rewarding or punishing them from year to year. Taxpayers then would be happier paying the tab and wouldn't zero out the amount. Of course, if Americans still chose to starve the beast, that would tell us something, too. Below, David Boaz gives the lowdown to Reason TV.

Public Domain Yesterday I commented on an article published by Ian Millhiser of the left-wing Center for American Progress which described the late 19th century social theorist Herbert Spencer as an advocate of “genocidal libertarianism” who "literally argued that the impoverished and the unfortunate should be left to die in order to purify the human race." In reply, I noted that Spencer repeatedly championed the virtues of “Positive Beneficence,” “human benevolence,” “spontaneous sympathy of men for each other,” and other forms of private charity designed to mitigate “the operation of natural selection.” In short, I argued, it is simply incorrect to say that Spencer “literally” advocated letting the poor and unfortunate die in the streets. cosplay wigsToday Millhiser has published a response. Although ostensibly written as a rebuttal, I could not help but notice that Millhiser quietly admits his own initial errors, thereby conceding the validity of my case. For example, Millhiser now acknowledges that there were in fact instances “where Spencer believed that private donors should improve conditions for the poor.” Furthermore, Millhiser also now admits that “it is true that Spencer did believe that charity was appropriate under limited circumstances.” Can those new admissions be squared with Millhiser’s overheated initial claim that Spencer “literally argued that the poor and the unfortunate should be left to die in order to purify the human race”? No, they cannot. It’s time for Millhiser to admit that he got it wrong and stop trying to dig himself out of the hole. Strangely, Millhiser also accuses me of “chang[ing] the subject to eugenics.” I would have thought the connection was obvious. Herbert Spencer is falsely smeared as “genocidal” by an organization that champions the legacy of late 19th and early 20th century Progressive activists, yet many of those same Progressive activists openly advocated eugenics, which typically involved state-sanctioned sterilization (and sometimes murder) of “unfit” people. Sounds fairly “genocidal” to me. So I pointed out that rather than trying to smear Spencer (and libertarians more broadly) with trumped-up charges, Millhiser should instead confront his own organization’s recent cheerleading for a bunch of people who literally endorsed the tactics of “genocidal progressivism.”