Tag Archives: politics

A Letter to My Liberal Friends

You’re mostly smart people. Certainly people I respect. I want to share something with you so you can be enlightened and learn something you might not have known before.

I am afraid of the government.

I feel fear when I think about it at any level.

I’m afraid of local government police shooting me because I’m brown. I’m afraid of state government redistributing wealth from the city to the suburbs. I’m afraid of Federal Government mutating into a totalitarian despotic system of destruction.

Why?

Well, size, really. Wouldn’t you be afraid of a ten-thousand pound organism that holds your life in its hands? It would stupid not to be afraid of that organism, in my opinion.

The Federal Government is much, much more than ten thousand pounds.

The Federal Government of the United States employs nearly 3 million people. That’s almost 1 in every 100. Those people are paid by, and subject to their employer.

The Federal Government has a budget of $3.8 Trillion. That’s about 4% of Global GDP.

In contrast, the world’s biggest corporation, Apple, employs more than 47,000 Americans. The tech giant spent nearly $27 Billion on its operating expenses last year.

Does the difference in size register to you? I know you don’t like big corporations. Most of my liberal friends are skeptical about big capitalism and how dangerous it can be. And rightly so! Big things fail in big ways! We should be afraid of big systems that entangle us.

The Federal Government is the world’s biggest human organization, and it is dangerous.

The Founding Fathers knew this. They knew that governments could only be kept in line by an equally dangerous population. It is our ability to wield danger for noble purposes that keeps tyranny and totalitarianism at bay!

Most of you probably don’t wield danger. You probably don’t see the federal government as an existential threat. And truthfully, even with an Orange Dinosaur at the helm, I don’t expect the Federal Government to turn on us in the next couple years.

But power is attractive to all and most attractive to the most dangerous people. I do not want my future children to inherit a powerful system with no power of their own.

One of the most powerful checks we have on governmental power is the check of a heavily armed civilian population. Those 3 million people, do not have a substantive advantage over the 300 million other Americans because some percentage of those 300 million accept the responsibility of wielding danger.

Almost 5 million Americans own AR-15 assault rifles.

Those 5 million are people that stand between us and real governmental tyranny. They are not the only check on the power of the Federal Government. But they are REAL. Everything else is just writing in a book, open to interpretation, misinterpretation, and malevolent manipulation.

It would be irresponsible for us to ban people from owning these assault weapons.

We need people to own those guns. We need every iteration of our government to know that tyranny will come at an incredible cost. Tyranny cannot easily rear its head where the population is armed, dangerous, and high-minded.

I know many of Liberal friends think the worst of their Conservative counterparts. You might think of them as racists, or rednecks, or rich white people with their own interests in mind. And you might be right about a lot of them. But many of them are good, Godly, and gracious people who want nothing more than to live at peace with all. I know these people. I go to Church with these people. They are not racist. But they are armed, and they wield danger so that you and I can be free to speak and worship and do whatever we damn well please!

I feel for the loss of life.

When people are murdered, it is sad. I sympathize with the victims. I understand that a weapons ban would probably have prevented the shooting from happening. Statistically, that is probably true. I would never deny that.

But there has got to be a better way than an assault weapons ban.

It is definitely not arming teachers. 

Duh.

I went to public school. I know arming teachers is a bad idea.

But disarming our civilian population is much worse idea.

That’s because Tyranny is worse than school shootings. The atrocities of the holocaust and the Soviet Union and Maoist China are proof of that.

And yes, I’m aware of all the other countries in the world that do just fine without assault weapons. Those countries are not the good old U-S-of-A. Our government is an order of magnitude bigger and badder than any other government on earth. The right to bear arms, without restriction, is fundamental to our national identity. Without it, we give up western democracy and the republic. We submit ourselves to future tyranny.

That is not a game I want to play.

I don’t own an assault rifle. Most of my conservative friends don’t either. The ones that do are smart, well-trained folks.

In fact, with five million assault rifles out there, I’m kind of surprised shootings are as rare as they are.

Then what is the solution, if not a weapons ban?

I don’t know, honestly.

When I think back to my years of public education, the thing I remember best is that there was almost no Values-Based education. In fact, when a teacher went so far as to convey real values to me I remember being very surprised.

I had a handful of teachers introduce me to nonviolent resistance, Gandhi, and MLK.

Those teachers went against the curriculum to give me something I think we’re all starving for: some kind of moral guidance.

Secular public education seems to be a fundamentally valueless system of indoctrination. They tell you what to do and how to do it but the why is always something base and simple like: so you can go to college and make a lot of money.

Is that what life and education is all about? Going to college and making a lot of money?

I don’t think so. If it was, then the people shooting up schools are probably justified in their rage.

Life is about people. Our consciousness is fundamentally rooted in some divine spark that gives rise to it. We must hold the individual person up in order value human life. They don’t teach you that in a public school

It would be a lot cheaper to teach that individual human life is fundamentally valuable and sacred than to try to take away assault rifles.

I think that schools that teach values first would probably be much safer places. Teachers who teach values might even be forced to actually have some of their own. Instead of being empty vessels, pouring useless information onto an uncaring and unengaged student body.

I’m not saying all teachers are valueless. I am saying that the teachers who taught values are the teachers I remember that impacted me personally.

Real values.

Truth. Justice. Reason. Creativity. Life!

Those are real values. Calculus and Economics are just tools. Values tell you why to use them.

tl;dr: Don’t ban assault rifles because the federal government will become an evil tyranny and don’t give teachers guns but hire teachers who want to teach values first and make sure those values are in alignment with the Judeo-Christian ethic that gave rise to the enlightenment and all of western civilization.

Diana Yuan, COO of Indico: Founding a High Tech Startup, Raising Money, and Courting Technical Partners

Listen to this episode on iTunes.

Diana Yuan is helping to lead the AI revolution. She is the COO of Boston’s scrappiest Machine Learning startup. Her, and her team of Olin Engineering dropouts, are democratizing machine learning tools for hackers all round the world.

Startup founders have an earned reputation for nonsensical over-confidence. Often, they’re impossible to spend time with due to a complete lack of self-awareness and social graces.

Diana is not one of those people.

As far as early-stage executives go, Diana has more self-awareness than most entrepreneurs twice her age. She’s bright and cheerful and a joy to be around. Having her on the show was a no-brainer for me.

This conversation was a lot of fun for me to produce. Thanks Diana :D.

This is the most important episode of Hacker Practice for aspiring non-technical startup founders. Diana Yuan’s role in the Indico origin story is instructive for any MBA-type/non-technical person looking for a technical partner. I have a feeling they’ll be telling her story in Babson business courses before long (if they aren’t already).

Enjoy this discussion on startups, fundraising, politics and technology with Indico’s Diana Yuan.

[4.30] Diana talks about the beginnings of Indico and beginning a machine learning startup

  • Indico aims to revolutionize software through powerful, developer-friendly machine learning

[5.50] How Indico closed contracts before becoming Incorporated

[8.30] How Diana got involved in Indico by accident!

  • Diana met Slater and Alec, Co-Founder of Indico by chance at the Affordable design and entrepreneurship class run by Olin College

[13.30] Being a non-technical co founder, Diana shares tips for joining forces and finding a technical partner

  • Don’t force it
  • Focus on the relationship you have with this person and ensure an aligned set of values and vision before getting caught up on technical capability
  • Why your job as a non technical co founder is to translate

[19.30] Why Indico pivoted from a B2C to B2B (enterprise) model?

[25.00] Diana explains her experience of applying for and getting into TechStars

  • Receiving funding from Rough Draft and having traction were helpful but networking was just as important
  • Diana recommends networking and actively discussing your application with those reviewing it (e.g. Diana hit up the founders of TechStars, including Semyon Dukach, who was also a member of the infamous MIT Blackjack team).

[28.50] Diana shares her biggest challenges of being accepted into TechStars

[31.30] On being the sole college graduate amongst her co-founders

[35.00] Why the world is your classroom

[37.30] Why Diana identifies as an introvert and why it’s important to know yourself in order to avoid burnout

[40.15] Diana discusses the challenges of raising capital and the emotional stakes at play

  • Don’t work with investors purely because they have money but because they will be a good fit for your team and offer a productive skillset

[46.40] Discusses the hiring process in a startup environment.

  • Save employee time by putting technical filters up front in the hiring process to screen potential candidates
  • It’s difficult to avoid hiring to keep up with growth but often startups have realisations and need to scale back. The important thing is to be conscious of it.

[53.50] The challenges of sponsoring candidates on a Visa

[56.50] Discussion on politics, America’s competitive advantage in entertainment and technology being eroded and technological libertarianism.

  • Take away thought – “what happened 250 years ago is what is allowing today’s events to unfold”

[1.01.40] Diana discusses why transfer learning is Indico’s secret sauce

  • Machine learning startups need to apply their expertise to specific market segments
  • Transfer learning is a methodology for taking an approach for a specific problem, adopting it as a standard for a certain type of problem group and being able to apply it to new problems, that fit within that type of problem group.

[1.05.30] On maintaining an IP competitive advantage and staying up to date with cutting edge industry trends

[1.08.15] Diana discusses the kind of money required for cloud based infrastructure in a machine learning startup

  • Diana discusses two innovative products offered by Indico, Crowd Label and Custom Collections, which help their end users label data and build custom models at speed and scale.

[1.14.00] How to protect IP and a business’s “secret sauce” in a highly competitive environment?

[1.16.45] The importance of choosing an investor and not feeling obliged to sign a term sheet just because one is put in front of you.

[1.17.30] What Indico does to prepare for a “black swan” event

  • Risk scales in proportion to number of customers and stakeholders involved

[1.21.10] Why customers should come to Indico for machine learning expertise

  • High quality unstructured text and video analysis. Free for first 10,000 API calls.

[1.22.50] ]How startups have capitalized on Indico’s unique product set at Hackathons to be able to build out MVPs in < 48hrs including a fake news detector

[1.25.00] You can find Diana on the Indico website because she runs the chat!

Now what?

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or leave me feedback as a comment here.