Archive for May 9th, 2008


Nargis was fate!


May 9, 2008

With a gaping look of angst similar to what played out during the Katrina catastrophe in this country, the heads of state around the world are trying to “help” Myanmar’s military ruler, Than Shwe, respond to Cyclone Nargis.

Problems abound. 

  • Over 100,000 people are dead; millions homeless and starving
  • Than Shwe is a military dictator that didn’t get complete control of the idyllic former Burma by trusting carpet baggers.
  • They have one of the more superstitious cultures on Earth
  • Cities are cut off from food, water, communication and shelter
  • As a country they compare well with Cuba as repressive and reclusive

President Bush said that “We’re prepared to move US Navy assets to help find those people who need help” but I am sure he meant the Seabees and not the military part of the Navy.  But, as usual, the 3rd item above may be the most critical for NOT being able to help than the others but, of course, there are always multiple causes for behavior, political or individual.


Everyone in Myanmar relies on soothsayers, fortunetellers and spiritualism to make their decisions at every level of the society.  It is all the rage.  So, not just the generals and the government bureaucrats don’t want the help, the people themselves have a conflict in that they need to eat today but they believe in fate as a way of life; Nargis was their fate!  That means they have to consult their spiritual leaders mentioned above.


There is a separate layer of logic or influence that controls the behavior of the leaders and the citizens that has a bigger influence than the life and death struggle they are waging right now.  It is almost like an organized ‘thing’ they do.  What this means in a bigger sense, those that want to help better be sensitive to the belief systems of the leaders or they won’t get anything done.  Sound familiar? 


The consequences of all this are bountiful for those trying to figure it out.  Bottom line for the people in Myanmar:

  • What I value may conflict with what you value
  • What I believe is of value to me more than what you believe
  • I value going to the advisor, soothsayer, fortuneteller to get direction
  • I am subject to my fate

We’re lucky – knock on wood – that we live in a democracy where we exercise free choice to go to church and exercise our free will by voting that prevents dictators from overstepping the bounds of our government – except in Michigan and Florida – and for having institutions that take care of us without strings attached and provide for us during times of need.  We should all go and pray that Myanmar’s kind autocratic bullying and superstition never takes root on American soil. 


Now if I just had enough money for gas I’d go light a candle in the darkness at my church.  I’ll have to walk even though it is raining.  Better not open my umbrella in the house.  It might catch that ladder over the doorway and scare Chester my black cat across my path.


After a Bloomberg.com article By En-Lai Yeoh

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Check out the leaderboard.  The recent progress by the top four teams has been impressive recently.

BellKor should win this within 2 months.  They also showcase a key point in their blog.  To achieve practical results you don’t need a crazy model with a lot of predictors.

I’ve yet to figure out why they spend $1,000,000 on this algorithm and/or the press/buzz in generated.  Their own algos and business rules do almost as well as this already.  But, hey, if you have $1,000,000 laying around to give to some smart researchers, great!


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Is this the headline you’ve been waiting for?

Can I predict bloggers/blog readers voting preferences based on which headline they respond to?

NOTE:  This headline and series of upcoming posts is a SOCIAL EXPERIMENT.  I am attempting to do an informal poll on key future headlines.  I will be testing a series of headlines of the coming days to see which ones get the most response in the various blogging inter connections.  Partly I want to know how far out in front of a potential news story you have to be to get the traffic and I want to measure how willing people are to read the news they want to hear versus the news that is…

what’s your take?

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