The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty – A Book Review (of Sorts)

Here is a link to Peter Singer’s TED talk about effective altruism, which makes a lot of the same points as the book “The Life You Can Save: Acting now to End World Poverty”.

The target we should be setting for ourselves is not halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and without enough to eat, but ensuring that no one needs to live permanently in such degrading conditions.

That goal is possible. Here’s a seven point plan that will make you part of the solution to world poverty.

1.Visit and pledge to meet the standard.

(read 2 and 3 in the book yourself)

4. Tell others what you have done. Spread the word in any way you can: talk, text, email, blog, use whatever online connections you have. Try to avoid being self-righteous or preachy, because you’re probably no saint, either, but let people know that they, too, can be part of the solution.

 Peter Singer (page 168 The Life You Can Save)

In writing this post I am trying to do exactly what Peter Singer asks above. The basic premise of the book, if you can’t tell from above, is that “wealthy people” (nearly anyone reading this qualifies as wealthy) only need to give a small percentage of each of their individual incomes to help eliminate world poverty and save the lives of “the extreme poor”. These are people who are dying from diseases that have long been defeated in the “1st world” countries.

Throughout the books he shares examples of how in certain situations if there is a person in trouble right in front of us we are willing to go to extreme lengths to help that person. He then shares how with the prevalence of the internet and the plethora of NGO’s and charities operating in the world we are only a click away from helping thousands of people, even if we don’t make 6 figures a year.

In the chapter “How Much Does It Cost to Save a Life?” he tries to address the often heard excuse that “I don’t know if that charity is actually doing any good or not with my money so I won’t give any.” He discusses both Charity Navigator and also GiveWell. Both groups that try to help individuals understand the effectivity and transparency of various charities in the world. He also shares some calculated numbers of how much it costs to help people through various situations.

“Interplast corrects deformities like cleft palate, and helps burn victims so that they can walk or use their hands again.” “GiveWell calculates that Interplast spends about $500 to $1500 per corrective surgery” (p89)

“We can reasonably believe that the cost of saving a live through one of these charities is somewhere between $200 and $2,000.” (p103)

I believe, as Peter Singer states that “as people become more confident of the cost-effectiveness of charities, they will become more willing to give.” (p93)

After sharing how easy it is to give and how effective charities are these days, Singer discusses how much he thinks each person should give. He shares the story of Zell Kravinsky. Here is a link to an article about the man. He is truly amazing. He has anonymously donated a kidney to a stranger. Some of his charity has caused some internal conflict with his family. His efforts to help others are truly heroic.   The whole point of this book though, is that if we all pulled our own weight in helping others, Zell’s heroic efforts wouldn’t be necessary.

Which is the point of the next chapter, “Asking Too Much?” I can’t say it any better than Singer, “focus instead on the fact that if everyone were doing their fair share, the total amount each of us would need to give in order to wipe out, or at least drastically reduce, large-scale extreme poverty would be in the hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars per year.” (p144)

In the final chapter Singer finally shares a real number, he proposed 5% of income per person who is “financially comfortable” should be given to charitable causes. He even shares some data about the reverse bell curve of actual giving in the USA currently. You can find that curve here. At least as measured in dollars, the less money you make the more likely you are to give a higher percentage, at least until people are making many hundreds of thousands or millions in income.  

The above statement should drive you to ask “How can I become financially comfortable?”  This should be the first step in helping others. Much like the mantra on a plane “put on your own mask before helping others” if you aren’t stable yourself, or at least feel stable, you shouldn’t be to worried about others. If you eventually figure out the few tricks

  1. The is no true security.
  2. The market always goes up.

You will be feeling quite secure in your future once you have built some assets and understand what they actually are. You can learn more about investing and saving and creating your own security here. You can learn a bit more about investing from a few videos I have created here and here.

You can also learn about security from “The Crazy Man in The Pink Wig” a personal mentor of mine. (I will buy you his book on investing if you won’t buy it yourself, just email me

Finally, you can learn from Mr. Money Mustache’s posts, here or here, or just about any post of his.

Once you are stable yourself you can then start focusing on others. You will be in good company as these guys Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Bill Gates (Windows), Pierre and Pam Omidyar (Ebay) and Manoj Bhargava (5 Hour Energy) are already leading the charge to change the world for the better.

If you need a few suggestions on charities you can check my page of preferred charities or this post for more information about my 2nd favorite book “The Last Hunger Season” about what I think is a particularly effective charity.

Once you are in a comfortable place yourself, I would encourage you to at least “do your part” by checking in at Singer’s site, and “becoming a member”. To do that you will just have to tell the site your income and it will recommend how much you should give to charity to “do your part”. I believe that if we do this we will see the end of poverty in our life times. I have calculated the year 02041 as when we will have no more hungry people but I believe it will be much sooner than that based on an exponential rate of reduction of poverty.

The Last Hunger Season (A book review)

You can buy “The Last Hunger Season” using this link.

People sometimes wonder why God would allow so much suffering in our world. Maybe instead we should be wondering why we do. – Jim Palmer

I started reading this book 8-17-02016 and finished it 8-22-02016. I had found out about it after listening to the TED talk by the founder of One Acre Fund, Andrew Youn.

You can learn more about the organization (and any other charities) via Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is great for helping you feel at ease donating to various organizations. You can know so much about a group. You can see the salaries of the top paid people. The tax returns of the charities for the past years. Tons of information. Back to the book.

One Acre Fund is a NGO (charity, non-profit) that works with farmers in rural Africa to get them seed and planting techniques. Most of these farmers plant .5 acres or 1 acre. The “super farmers’ plant 2 acres. The planting is all done by hand. Sometimes they are able to have their fields plowed by an animal but some just work it up by hand also.

The book follows the story of several farmers in Kenya through their year of 2011 working with the new techniques and hybrid seeds provided to them by One Acre Fund. It chronicles their lives, planting season, struggles with money to feed their families, keep their kids in school, deal with illnesses and deaths and skipping celebrations because they didn’t have the money for food.

As an engineer I really appreciated how thorough the book was regarding the inputs, costs of seed and fertilizer, and outputs, what the farmers are paid for their harvest. It also chronicles how the cost of food varies by over 100% over the year and how farmers often have to sell early when the price is low and then buy later when it is high, a double whammy to the net worth’s (or lack of) of the individuals.

Another thing that was astonishing to me was concept of a hunger season, the “wanjala”. Many times they talked about how they would have tea for breakfast and perhaps nothing to eat during the day.

Money was talked about a lot. Always in Kenya Shillings. I found it easiest to approximate 100 shillings = $1. For example, one of the men’s salaries was 1500 shillings a month, or $15 (Page 34). To be fair, it didn’t say how much he worked, but I suspect it was more than 1 hour. They also shared the price of one man’s bean and fertilizer purchase to plant a quarter acre of beans. 1800 schillings, $18. It also records his returns, 158.8 kg x 80 shillings a kg = 12,704 shillings or $127 on an investment of $18, that’s a 700% return! If we could all get that kind of return wouldn’t we be happy? (Page 65).

The tough decisions these people face each day was eye opening. I could feel a little bit of the weight they felt as they were making decisions to sell a bag of rice to buy some medicine to treat a family member. Or the choice to sell a cow to pay for schooling for a child. While I could try to feel the weight, I really couldn’t even fathom it. How does a person in the USA even consider living on a few hundred dollars a year?

Later it discussed the various companies trying to address the challenge of storing the maize and other grains. Since sitting in air it can spoil easily if it gets wet. There are various companies working on plastic storage bins, about 6 ft tall for some of them. That doesn’t seem like a lot of storage but when you are farming an acre it can be huge! Between those companies and One Acre Fund trying to educate on farming techniques and share new seeds, there is really a lot of improvement coming about in a small time in Kenya and other parts of the world. I think we should all ask ourselves why

After I read this book I decided to read one or two reviews of it. One quote I got from this review was “Africa’s future is not as a continent of happy peasants” pointing to the successful Brazilian model – highly mechanized production and greater urbanization is the answer, enabling the children of smallholder farmers to move off the land.”

While I can understand his sentiment I would have to ask him where he thinks these small time farmers will get the money to buy small enough tractors to till 1 acre of land and make it profitable? Where will be the infrastructure to fix the vehicles when they break? I believe that Andrew Youn and One Acre Fund are doing exactly what is right for the right time in history. He is rolling out something that can be implemented immediately to allow the farmers to literally fight off days that would require them to not eat! The farmers are even doing as the writer of the article suggests and investing in their children’s futures. The children already have a brighter (less manual labor and less likelihood of hunger) than their parents and the parents futures look bright because of the kids. It should be unnecessary to mention but I will anyway, most of these people don’t have much put away in terms of money savings. The do talk a lot about diversifying their businesses as far as getting different animals and planting different crops. They are sharp people doing the best with what they have. One Acre Fund is just trying to get them the tools to do even better.

This was my 2nd favorite book I have read in the last 2 years after “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” and I would recommend anyone and everyone reads it.
Bringing this back to my opening quote, I wonder how we will be able to explain to children why there used to be hungry people in the world? I say “used to” because “I really hope I am able to look out my window in 02041 and say “There are no hungry people today.” (based on my post “The Last Hungry Person”)

Here is an article with some information about how farmers partnering with One Acre Fund are doing.

I Bought A Prius (8 months ago)

I find it curious the different reactions I get while driving a “cool” car vs. driving a Prius. Am I not the same person regardless of what I’m driving? – Axel Hoogland

One thing that has bothered me about sports cars is that for most of it’s life you are unable to use the performance of your vehicle. It is not accomplishing the task it was created for. – Axel Hoogland

Most times when I tell someone I have bought a Prius it is met with a disgusted sound and some complaining about how stupid a Prius is. That is understandable as at one time I probably would have done the same thing. Because of that I feel obligated to finally go through what drove me to this decision.

Those of you who know me probably know me as a guy who likes fast and cool cars. That was the persona I embraced and curated from a young age. I enjoyed many hours reading Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, Truckin’ and many other car modification magazines. In college I worked on the FSAE race car. Since I graduated college I bought both a 2008 GSXR 600, a 1981 Honda CM400C, a 2007 Mustang GT/CS and have continued to maintain my 1987 Monte Carlo SS.

So how, with that background, did I come to purchase a Prius?

I read some books which started me on a path to think about what is really important to both the world in general and myself in particular. I began to ask myself probing questions to try to understand the real nature of things. I started to appreciate efficiency more.

Here are a few of those books.
Deep Economy – Bill McKibben
Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth – Buckminster Fuller
Financial Happine$$ – Finley

Blogs – Mr. Money Mustache
Top 10 Cars for Smart People
Curing your Clown-Like Car Habit
What Does Your Work Truck Say About You?

What is the purpose of a daily driver? To get you from point A to point B as efficiently as possible (at least that’s my purpose for it now). You will see that many race car drivers drive rather boring vehicles (of course many also have many fast cars). The reason many  race car drivers drive rather boring vehicles is because they recognize they can’t reach anywhere near the limits of the performance of the vehicle on the street. When your race car is purpose built to go fast, would you enjoy a vehicle that is compromised for street driving? Looking at it objectively, the Prius does exactly what a vehicle is intended to do. I am working on getting over seeing vehicles as some symbol of status. The facts are, a fancy vehicle is just a way of showing off how much you can afford (or borrow). If we want people to know we make a lot of money or have a lot wouldn’t it be easier to just walk around with our net worth statement floating above our heads (perhaps our salary also). That’d sure be a lot more efficient than burning an extra $1,000 a year driving a vehicle that is doing it’s job (transporting you efficiently) inefficiently. For more on that you can listen to my YouTube videos about saving for retirement (freedom), posts about it,  or about one of my New Year’s Resolutions to have $100,000 in my retirement by the end of the year (on track with the good returns the market has had in the last month).

I’ve had my 1987 Monte Carlo SS, which is admittedly not the pinnacle of performance vehicles, since I was 15 years old. I was always thinking about upgrading it to go faster. Why, because that’s what I was influenced to think was good by people around me as well as magazines (Hot Rod, Car Craft). Once I had the funds to make it an option to spend thousands of dollars to make it a lot faster I did a little more thinking about the time and money that it’d cost to upgrade the Monte and I figured it was cheaper and more efficient to buy a newer sports car if my goal was to go fast. This lead to the purchase of a 02007 Mustang GT. It was a faster vehicle, and due to 20 years of technology it also got better gas mileage up to 25 mpg’s, going 55mph. I realized that although it was faster, I couldn’t really utilize that extra performance most of the time. Now I was continually thinking about buying an even faster vehicle or modifying the Mustang. What stopped me was the realization that the money I would invest would really only lead to reduced general performance, mileage, while not really gaining me any actual useful performance. Perhaps a few seconds faster in an autocross that I participate in once a year or a second faster drag racing, also 1x a year. So my car would basically be good at nothing. It’d get a bit worse mileage and go a tiny bit faster, which I’d never get to utilize.

So to the Prius. The beauty of the Prius is it accomplishes its task with highest efficiency. It’s goal is to move people efficiently (less gas) and it accomplishes that in spades! I have driven it through an Iowa winter and over 10,000 miles.

A side effect of the increased mileage is saving you money and depending on what you are transferring from, a significant amount! You can see that if you drive a Prius (45mpg) instead of a truck (20mpg), even at $2.00 gas is a could be a savings of over $1000 a year (if you drive 20,000 miles a year).  This is in addition to having lower insurance since it’s a cheaper vehicle.

prius mileage

One of the main questions I get is “What about the battery?” It is a fair question. People are generally afraid of things they don’t understand. Being as huge batteries is still (sort of) new technology (we’ve had Prius’ for 18 years now, people still haven’t had a ton of exposure to them. The short story I can tell them is, look on the internet for the history people have had with the Prius and other hybrids. If there were massive problems, people wouldn’t keep buying the car for over 18 years. A battery replacement is about as common as an engine replacement and costs about the same, probably a bit less. A battery sure has less moving parts than an engine or transmission!
From having the opportunity to drive various “cool” vehicles (1987 Monte Carlo SS, 2008 GSXR 600, 1981 Honda Bobber, 1957 Chevy (dad’s) and various “average” vehicles, minivans, 2001 Silverado, 2007 Prius, Ford Focus, I have had the opportunity to see people’s reactions to various different vehicles. It is always cool to drive a neat car and have people interested in it. I can’t tell you how many people asked about or commented on the 1957 Chevy when I drove it for a week. It was a lot. I also get rather regular comments on the 1987 Monte Carlo SS. I find it funny that driving the Prius family and friends go out of their way to make negative comments about it. Am I not the same person driving the Prius as I was driving the “cool” car? Maybe I’m not, but I like the new me. It’s just an improved version of the old me. I can continue to drive the “cool” vehicles occasionally while driving the Prius most of the time for its efficiency.

Texts I Have Sent Myself

One thing I hope to do with this blog is to help others think more critically about their life, their life path, the lives of others and the direction of the world. To do that I think it might be helpful to share what I think about from time to time. I generally have a text in my phone that I am writing to myself to remember at a later date. I believe that like writing, verbalizing and sending to myself helps me remember some stuff. It is also good to look back and see what I was thinking at various times. Below is the set of texts that I’ve sent myself in the past few months.  Let me know if you find anything interesting.


Take one product and see how many improvements we can think of. There is a danger that when old friends meet  they will only talk of the past. Saturday night 5-28-02016 dreams. Evel knievel. Going up jump inside.  A semi trailer is to of ramp (only appears as he is about to take off and he hits his head and doesn’t jump. We are in  a building and I am freaking out at an old roommate in a place that our 3rd roommate is there checking. We didn’t have a 3rd roommate though. Weird.  At the Evel Knievel  jump there were 2 attractive sisters. Bodybuilders. I went back to find them.  Then a building fell down outside ours from and earthquake. We were standing there in or building not moving waiting for our building to fall I guess. Then I remembered something that in my dream dad said to me about don’t wait for it to fall whatever anyone says get out so I got out a window and started helping people

We already use technology to do so many things. We can text is near to telepathy. Writing is similar to expanding your memory as is Facebook (for stuff like  remembering people’s birthdays) enhanced reality will be when more so.  If you tell your computer or Facebook or write down to remember someone’s birthday is it any less genuine just because you didn’t remember it yourself? But the same for designing things. If you are just reading a design guideline where do you start and where is it mostly the design guideline? Just because new technology helps us remember old lessons faster does that change our relationship with it?  If we have Wikipedia on hand does that make certain conversations obsolete? What will we focus on? Knowing each other more? Is that the last thing we can focus on knowing because it’s the last mystery since people lives aren’t all on the Internet?


Video games is similar to the Matrix. It’s also similar to teleporting. Quantum entanglement. Works at a distance if we can read stuff that small and it can be 1 of 2 states why can’t it be binary band read at vast distances? What does it mean  to be Christian?  I haven’t gotten many Christian responses to my questions about Christianity

Share real costs of things with people. Of course people don’t know what stuff costs since money is right after politics and religion on by talking points. Funny how what you drive elicits different responses from people. If I pull up in a 57 Chevy I get a different response than if I pull up in a Prius. Am I any different of a person?


Like my question to myself about how much can you take out of milk and it still be milk the same thing applies to Christianity how far can you remove yourself and still say you’re a Christian. What parts can different groups call themselves Christian and agree or diagree on? . How to Achieve? What is really important in life?  List of things I’ve failed at. List of things I’ve done well at. future world Movie. How can we make tractors able to be adapted quickly to individual farmer needs? Rapid prototyping, Etc. Do we want to try to start a race track Automotive destination? How can I get more clear Direction more often at work? Funny that I’m taking notes talking to my phone and trying to think of something that’s a pain and this is something that is a pain I can only fit a small number of characters in a text. Is there a way to make a better note keeping audio device or is there probably already one around? 2nd round of Disney leaders after nine old men didn’t want the younger generation to move up as fast and so stifled creativity.  


Want to read Elliot Rodgers my twisted life. What gets someone so twisted up?  

6-21-02016 (In Texas)

Met Issac in the mall (Dallas, TX).  He is just starting studying engineering. He is from south Korea where this guy who claimed to be the 2nd coming of Jesus was from.


Why is it illegal to use poison gas in war but not to shoot each other? Maybe if we had the threat of really hurting each other we’d end the wars faster. Jealousy is rooted in lacking belief in abundance 7-4-02016 I watched a YouTube video series about the human genome.  And then ordered a book about it. A bit of a departure from my recent space fascination but does kinda fall into the transhuman realm.

List of future words. Transhuman. Quantum I physics. Freezing people. Nano technology. . Dark matter. Electric car. Telomeres.  Singularity. Solar power. Abundance. Singulairty. Basic income. Mars. Autonomous car. Virtual reality augmented reality. Artificial intelligence.  Sort of like list of new speak from 1984. Although that was sort of bad. It’s 5:12  am. I’m. Waiting for dad to wake up to go to the barn. Of course I forgot my books at my brothers. So I’m looking at the Internet.

(I ended up writing a blog based on the future words idea – The Future)


I guess there are people who will always be upset. There will be people who will always believe the world is against them.  You can’t make them change their thoughts. But for some people you can show them a better way.the best way to do that is to live your life as joyously as possible and invite others to do the same and walk with you as much as they want to. Long vs short term help. Unfortunately giving people some money now might not be the best use of the money.  Maybe investing in technology for the future is better. We talk ourselves into that saving for our retirement is the most imp thing but is it? If the goal is happy life years we can certainly buy more of that now with smaller investments in other countries than in our own futures. I should talk with Finley about that. Need to provide people access to information and invite them to use it.


The only way to stop violence is to expose people to people who are different than them in a safe environment. See American History X how the Nazi guy turns to be okay with black guys after he talks with the one in an environment where he can’t harm him. How do we change people’s minds? Exposure. People feel threatened but really few people want to fight.


How should we deal with people who are ignorant or violent? Should we kill them? should we lock them up? if we lock them up when would we ever let them go? There is a similar problem with the mentally ill in that you can’t really trust them. That’s the problem with people who have previously been violent as you can never be sure if they renounce their violence. Could it be possible to convince people who have a religious belief to kill other people that that is wrong and returned from their ways? I’m not sure if that’s even possible. Did Muhammad said no one would come after him as a prophet? If so this could cause some issues for the Nation of Islam.


We know how to make a working spaceship. We just need to make a little earth and a sun to power it🙂  sun is a bit inefficient as it wastes a ton of energy. If we could slow it down it’d last a lot longer. Short vs long term thinking. How to make world work for everyone. Can’t let Venezuela go to dark ages based on oil tanking even if they didn’t plan well.  You wouldn’t let your brother starve. We are all brothers (and sisters). People need to understand genes to see we are all 99% the same. .that (could) stop the ignorance of racial violence. also understanding could stop ignorance (fear) about gmo’s. (Could repost old wheel life articles on jalopnnik to get exposure). Build an “Eccentric” trailer park. They might be hard to sell after they were built. But they’d be cool.  And have a community shop. Could have a few “normal” apartments available while people were building their houses. 7th day Adventist emerged from Henry miller who wrongly predicted the end of the earth. .and Jehovah’s witnesses were heavily influenced by 7th day Adventist beliefs. Could you heat the ground in winter and keep growing plants?  How much energy would that take? Like in floor cement heating. Use water and hoses? Or heated steel rods in ground?  Only need for flowers or crops.  I guess not for trees. Would crops grow then though?  Better to work on growing plants more efficiently or transcending plants? Soylent. Or making our bodies make everything we need from anything. We should work to make the world work for everyone.  We shouldn’t try to hoard things to save for the future if someone could use it today. Ex: I shouldn’t hoard money that people could use now. There are people starving through no fault of their own except circumstance.  I certainly don’t deserve to have enough to buy whatever food I want whenever. Bran Ferren  applied minds.

The Last Hungry Person

*Note* To foster long term thinking I now use 02016 to indicate the year 2016. See Long Now Foundation

“There are genuinely sufficient resources in the world to ensure that no one, nowhere, at no time, should go hungry.” – Ed Asner

I am interested in what is killing people. Is it diseases? Is it accidents? Is it aging? Many times things like that will catch us off guard and that is unfortunate. Most people I know aren’t interested in dying. I have a real soft spot for those who are dying from things that could be easily prevented, especially starvation and malnutrition, which are things that they might not be able to prevent themselves but they might be able to with a little help. I came upon a very interesting website today while looking up this type of information.

When I looked at it 766,867,865 people in the world out of 7,434,785,500 people (9.69%) were listed as “Undernourished”. The great news is it was going down at the rate of about 1 person a second! That comes to 365 days x 24 hrs x 60 minutes x 60 seconds = 31,536,000 seconds in a year. Which mean that 31,536,000 people a year are moving out of malnutrition. With that simple math it will take 24 years and 4 months for there to be no one on the world who is suffering from malnutrition. If we could assume exponential growth in the rate of people leaving the “malnourished” category we’d be there even faster! I really hope I am able to look out my window in 02041 and say “There are no hungry people today.”

While I am excited to see that it is going down that is still a long time and in the mean time there are thousands of people dying every day from hunger.

There are 2 organizations that I like right now that are working to combat hunger (which is usually a result of poverty).  

Children International. You can sponsor a child for $32 a month. For many families that is what they make in a month. This helps provide health services for the kids of the family as well as helping keep them in school. The cool thing about this one is you can write your kids and get letters from them. You can even visit them.
Another I am interested to see what they do is Give Directly. They are starting a new basic income study based on the success of a previous study that I am hoping to (start and) finish reading about soon.

If you don’t like the idea of giving away money there is another option, Kiva (or other microloan companies). They partner with loan companies in developing countries. You provide the capital. Some of the companies charge interest, some don’t. You don’t make interest on your money but you can learn a lot about the world just by reading about what people are applying for loans for.

Here’s a few examples:

A loan to a person in Haiti  “A loan to to import and stock clean energy products such as solar lights or improved cookstove”

A loan to a person in Colombia “A loan to help pay for school supplies.”

If you want to learn more about Kiva you can listen to or read The International Bank of Bob which follows one man’s journey as he meets some of the people who have received the micro loans. .

While these measures might appear to be short term solutions I would argue they are not. They are investments in our world’s most precious resource, people, their minds and their bodies. It will help develop into a long term solution when people are able to take care of themselves once they are able to think ahead of where they will get their food the next day. We can’t afford not to help others.

I know I have at least 1 friend who will argue that the governments of the countries that have high poverty rates are criminal or at least exploitive of their citizens, which may be true. He would argue that we should work for freedom and that will let people determine their own futures and provide for their own security. While I certainly would agree with some of that line of thought, I don’t think physical fighting is particularly useful these days. What I think is a better revolution is a revolution of the mind. If we can feed and educate enough people they will demand their own freedom from tyranny.

So we can acknowledge that there are challenges but on the bright side things are moving in the right direction. How can we push them that way a little faster? Well I shared a few with you above. Are there any others you like personally? Will we be able to make hunger a thing of the past in our lifetimes?
The last bit of good news. As I finished writing this there were 766,864,120 undernourished people (down 3,745!)

The Future

I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about things that are coming “in the future” and I often want to write about them after but it often doesn’t happen. Usually future technology or ideas are aimed at making the world a better place and thinking about stuff like that can put you in a good mood.  I wanted to just share a few quick notes and key people related to some future ideas in the hopes that it might spark some of you to look into one or two of them and go boldly into the future with me.

Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology. Zoltan Istvan is a writer currently running for President Of The United States on a Transhuman platform. One of his thoughts is we can potentially live forever. Is he crazy? Maybe.

Cyborgs  are people who have had things implanted in their body to help increase efficiency or capacity of current bodily functions. Implants could help with healing, memory, increasing hearing or sight. We could have phones implanted in our earlobe that could read our brains instead of us having to physically talk. I think that phones already do a lot of the type of things that cyborgs are thinking about but it is just not integrated in our bodies yet. As things get smaller with nanotechnology it will be easier and easier to be a cyborb but the small bots might be able to leave our bodies fast as new models come out so it won’t even be obvious our bodies are being enhanced.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease. They have been linked with longer life spans. It is suspected that exercise is one way we can help keep them healthy. Aubrey de Grey is one of the leading researchers in this area of study and other ways to help telomeres stay long and keep us alive and healthy.This goes directly along with the idea of transhumanism mentioned above.

Cryonics is the study of feezing people as they die or just after to hopefully restore them to better health in the future. This obviously relates to the above studies as the people, if they are unfrozen, would benefit from research in any anti aging information as well as anything that helps people live longer lives.

Nanotechnology can be used for many things from material design to robots that could help us become cyborgs. They could be programed to fight infections or cancers more effectively than our current immune system. They could also be used to stop bleeding, from inside of us. Other robots could be used to manufacture or heal materials.

Augmented reality is having a coming day soon. It is where the current world is projected over by some virtual components. Really I would say that Google maps is already a very basic form of augmented reality as we can get reviews and notifications about things that are near to us we might be interested in.  A new game is coming out soon, Pokemon Go, that is another step for augmented reality.

Virtual reality is the next step after augmented reality. It has a future where we might eventually be plugged into a Matrix type computer. We could do whatever we wanted. Again, I think we have had very basic virtual reality for a long time, at least as long as video games have been around. If you think about it books are even a form of virtual reality that we create in our minds. We are just taking it a step further with a headset that works to trick more of our senses.  This site gives you a neat rough VR tour of Mars. The lines of what “counts” as VR will obviously stay blurred. Current technology such as the Oculus Rift is making VR even more sophisticated than most people realize.  I see a future where we will have VR vacations that will obviously be cheaper than real trips. VR will also allow us to experience historic places and events.

Abundance is more a concept than an actual thing. There was a great book written about it by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. They promote the idea that we have more than enough to survive now. We need to stop hoarding stuff and being afraid of the future because we will have so much in the future. We need to get rid of the mindset that if someone else has more that means we have to have less. There is plenty to go around. Buckminster Fuller also shared a similar though, over 50 years ago, just without using the term Abundance.

Basic income is the idea that we will have so much via abundance and so little that we have to do thanks to increases in computers and robots that we might have to give people money to live off of because there will be no jobs. Instead of this being bad it could be great as we’ll be able to all spend time doing things we enjoy and taking up challenges we want to do that will lead to more innovation because of the passion we could have for our endeavors. There are many places that are starting to look at this such as Give Directly, the city of Utrecht (in the Netherlands) and Finland.

Mars – If you watched the Martian you know it was rooted in a lot of good science. We are probably going there in my lifetime and that’s just exciting!

Electric cars – With energy being probably the most important thing (after air) to our survival and only some forms of electricity being renewable, I see electric cars coming on strong in the coming years, boosted by better battery technology as well as cheaper electricity.

Autonomous cars – Although the first death was recently recorded that related to an autonomous (or assisted driving) car, it wasn’t actually determined that it was the fault of the car. My bet is it will not be. It wasn’t mentioned how many people died as a result of their own driving that same day but I bet it was a lot more. The systems will only be better as our technology increases.

The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly. (Wikipedia). The Singularity Is Near is a great book written by Ray Kurzweil about this idea. You can also learn more about this, and many other topics, from the YouTube channel Singularity Weblog. Obviously such computing power could help solve many of the problems associated with the ideas discussed above and maybe make some of them obsolete.

If you want to read about a few more exciting things that could be in store for the future I encourage you to look up Quantum  physics, Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Human Genome project.
I know I am excited for the future and hoping to contribute in my own small way. What are you most excited about for the future? How are you helping it come?

Make America Great Again

It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority  need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsman, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.  – Page 112 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth –  Buckminster Fuller

The problem with the phrase “Make America Great Again”, the campaign slogan being used by Donald Trump, is the fact that it supposes America is not currently great. In order to determine how something is you need to compare it to something. I wonder what Trump is comparing the USA to? What was greater about the USA in the past  than what we have going on right now? When was the last time Trump thinks America was great? What exactly does he think he will do to make it better than it is now? For who?

It is certainly difficult to determine exactly what Donald Trump’s plans are for if he became President. I have heard things from “Build a wall with Mexico” to “Make Ford bring jobs back to the USA from Mexico” and maybe other places (China)?

If America is so terrible why are so many immigrants willing to come here? It must be better than where they are coming from? Why do they think it’s better here? Most people don’t have very crazy aspirations. They want to live their lives. Provide for their families and maybe have a little extra for a rainy day or to have a little fun. If people think they will be able to achieve that better here than wherever they are coming from that seems to tell me it’s pretty great here.

If Trumps goal is to keep Mexicans in Mexico his goal should be to make Mexico a place people want to be. How do you make somewhere a place that people want to be? Make it safe. Make it stable. What is more stable than having a stable job? If Trump wants more Mexican’s to stay in Mexico he should be thinking about how he can get more jobs in Mexico, not less.

I don’t think Trump actually cares about Mexico or Mexicans. He cares about getting elected. To do that he is more than willing to play the fear card in the meantime and unfortunately many people respond to fear readily. These days people seem very afraid, of what I’m not sure. We, at least in the USA, have access to the best food, health care, military and technology of any group of people in history ever. If there is one group in the whole world who shouldn’t be afraid it’s Americans. So why are we afraid?

I think we are afraid because we are bored. We don’t seem to have much else to do. Life must be to easy. We don’t have to work that hard to make food or shelter for ourselves each day. We can go down the street and buy food. We are interested in entertaining ourselves, in eating ourselves to gluttonous sizes, but not in keeping ourselves healthy, not in striving to do great things. We should be afraid of never trying but instead we are afraid of failure.

I strongly believe in the fact that whatever we focus on can become a reality. If we spend all our time reading about terrorism, various viruses, ebola, zitka, asian bird flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Swine Flu (how many of those do you remember from the last 10 years that were going to “end the world”, GMO food, Trans-fats, drugs, alcohol,, Super-Predators, homosexuals, transexuals, metrosexuals (some people are probably scared of people who dress nice), Obama, Trump, Hillary, Bernie. Of all these things that people are afraid of how many actually caused real issues in most people’s lives? I would bet not many. Unfortunately most opinions are just that, opinions, not based on any facts. I will continue to advocate people looking more at the facts, and then relooking at them to see if you have the real facts before raising any alarm.

What I propose we all do is take a step back and read some positive literature. Two books I recommend are “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” by Buckminster Fuller and “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The point is, the world is not actually going to hell, despite what your personally taylored news media is telling you. I also recommend that people start following a news site that specifically is saying things they are opposed to. Here is a short list of Facebook pages I follow (I get most of my news from places via Facebook)

Matt Walsh
The Friendly Atheist
Ken Hamm
Neil Degrasse Tyson
Lizzy The Lezzie (she’s a lesbian if you didn’t pick that up)
New York Times
National Public Radio (NPR)
Nation of Islam
Jehovah’s Witnesses

HuffPost Good News
Jim Palmer
CCTV ((China Central Television) is constantly updated with top news from China and around the world.
Secret Entourage
David Ramsey
TED (TED talks, their website sucks, just watch it on YouTube)
Tim Ferriss
Zoltan Istvan – (Transhumanist (not transgender) advocate)
Nikola Danaylov
Col. Chris Hadfield (Canadian astronaut)

If you can tell I like to get a diverse perspective on things. It’s pretty interesting to see any news story develop from the perspective of the different sides. Usually one is sharing how great it is while the other is proclaiming the end of the world. I don’t get caught up in the fear either side is professing and neither should you.

America is great. The people are what make a place what it is. America is great because of it’s people and we will continue to be great regardless of, or perhaps in spite of, who is elected. But we shouldn’t get too full of ourselves. Most of the rest of the world is great also and it’s because, in general, people are great. If you don’t know someone or some type of people, consider getting to know them instead of being afraid of them. You just might find you have more in common than you thought.