"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Tag Archives: good

3 Dictators Who Weren’t Pure Evil?

1. Park Chung Hee – South Korea

park chung hee

Usual claim to fame: Kidnapping political opponent and future South Korean president Kim Dae Jung from Japan in broad daylight and taking him out for a ride on a boat.
Kim Dae Jung came within minutes of “sleeping with the fishes” and certainly would have if not for immediate US diplomatic pressure.
The Dictator Park was known for allowing torture, the creative use of electric shock was a specialty during his rule.
Above all he turned South Korea into corporate oligarchy mainly concerned with the needs of a few ‘chaebol’ mega-companies. Funny how they never seem to mention that both North and South Korea were dictatorships for decades.

Not Pure Evil?: Park despite his abuses is commonly credited with getting things done and putting the infrastructure in place that has allowed South Korea to become the economic superpower it is today.

Bonus: His daughter is now the president of South Korea.

Park Geun Hye


2. Augusto Pinochet – Chile

Augusto Pinochet

Usual claim to fame: Made thousands of political opponents “disappear.”

Not Pure Evil?: Pinochet turned around Chile’s economy overnight using his dictatorial power to simply get things done. Ever since, Chile has consistently been the most prosperous and stable country in South America.

Bonus: His look has had enduring influence.

Pinochet and M. Bison

Capcom vs. Reality

Also, the only of these 3 dictators to die from old age…in his 90s.


3. Rafael Trujillo – Dominican Republic

Rafael Trujillo
Usual claim to fame: Rose to power as a US puppet who was installed to collect debts the Dominican Republic had defaulted on. Soon he owned most of the country’s economy and was more than willing make opponents “disappear.”

Not Pure Evil?: Like the other two dictators Trujillo is credited with strengthening the economy and infrastructure of the Dominican Republic despite making the country into an oligarchic nepotocracy.
Perhaps more remarkable is Trujillo’s establishment of a system of national parks, regulation of logging and slash and burn farming.
Somehow people end up paying more attention to these kinds of regulations when there’s a ruthless dictator enforcing them…
The results of Trujillo’s policies speak for themselves.
Here’s a picture of the border of Haiti and the Dominican republic.

Border Dominican Republic and Haiti

Bonus: How many dictators could be marketed to the green and “fair trade” crowd? Couldn’t you envision him with that trademark smug smirk on the front of a bag of organic coffee?


Lard Is Good For You

“Lard, although commonly misidentified as a saturated fat, should really be classified as a monounsaturated fat…lard is about 40 percent saturated, 50 percent monounsaturated, and contains 10 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is also one of our richest dietary sources of vitamin D…

lard is making a comeback from its nadir after years of vilification by big food corporations eager to push their plastic substitutes (see “The Rise and Fall of Crisco

lard sold in grocery stores (if you are lucky enough to find it at all) contains preservatives like BHT added to prolong its shelf life, I look for farmers who sell what they can’t use. Sometimes local butchers carry additive-free lard, or can order it for you.”

I personally have managed to find good quality lard at farmer’s markets, though even there it’s often scarce or out of stock.

I’m actually using some right now to fry up some collard greens until they get crispy and crunchy, a real treat.

Another of my favorite uses: fry up corn tortillas in lard until they’re crispy. As appetizers, can top with guacamole, salsa, or hot sauce. For dessert, great with Mexican cane sugar and cinnamon on top.

Also unbeatable for frying eggs and portabella mushrooms.

Vegetarians swear by plant foods,

Paleo types believe in animal foods.

I, however, am convinced the key lies in which fats you use.

piece of lard

This is what lard looks like when not processed into a uniform white odorless substance with preservatives. Not only is the flavor better, the pieces leave behind crispy golden cracklings at the bottom of the skillet.

The Dangerous Art of the Right Question

Real questions, useful questions, questions with promising attacks, are always motivated by the specific situation at hand.  They are often about situational anomalies and unusual patterns in data that you cannot explain based on your current mental model of the situation, like Poirot’s letter.  Real questions frame things in a way that creates a restless tension, by highlighting  the potentially important stuff that you don’t know. You cannot frame a painting without knowing its dimensions. You cannot frame a problem without knowing something about it. Frames must contain situational information.

The same dynamic occurs at personal and global levels. Here are terrible personal questions:

  1. How can I be happy?
  2. What career do I want?
  3. How can I lose weight?

Here are examples of corresponding questions that are useful:

  1. Are people with strong friendships happier than loners? (Answer: yes)
  2. What is the top reason people leave jobs? (Answer: they dislike their immediate manager)
  3. What causes food addiction? (Answer: carefully-engineered concoctions of salt, sugar and fat)

Here are terrible global questions:

  1. How can we create peace in the Middle East?
  2. What can we do about global warming?
  3. How can we reform Wall Street?

Here are potentially useful corresponding questions:

  1. Do Israelis and Arabs communicate in different ways (Answer: yes)
  2. Why are summers getting warmer and wetter, while winters are getting colder and snowier? (Answer: I don’t know; climatologists might)
  3. Is the principle of limited liability a necessary condition for a free market economy? (Answer: I don’t know)

  1. The Poirot Method: This is the basic trail-of-clues method of focusing on an anomaly that your current mental model cannot account for. Since my colleague Dave and I often argue about Poirot vs. Holmes, let me throw the Holmes camp a bone (heh!): the classic Holmes’ question of the “dog that didn’t bark in the night” is an excellent insight question.
  2. The Jack Welch Method: Also known as the “stretch.” You ask ridiculously extreme versions of ordinary formulaic questions. Instead of asking “How do we grow market share 3% in the next year?” You ask, “How do we grow our market 10x in the next 3 months?” The question so clearly strains and breaks the existing mental model that you are forced to think in weirder ways (the question is situation-driven because numbers like 3%, 1 year, 10x and 3 months will need to come from actual knowledge).
  3. The 42 Method: Sometimes the right answer is more easy to find than the right question. Entrepreneurs are often in this boat. They don’t know who will use their product or why, but they just know that their product is the answer to some important question somewhere.  They are often wrong, but at least they are productively wrong. If you don’t get the “42″ reference, don’t worry about it.


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