Sunday, December 18, 2011

Added complexity- Do we really need it?

Interesting article on complex electronics added to new cars. I have always felt this way about launch vehicles- most cell phones have more computing power than used for the moon landings.  Why have UNNECESSARY complexity that reduces reliability and degrades performance (gross system weight)?  Some of the launch vehicles I've worked on had avionics systems that were heavier than the propulsion!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to tie your shoes

1) I have been tying my shoes wrong
2) A thousand mile journey starts with a single step.  The point that the speaker makes is true, to make large changes you need to start with small changes. It will be impossible to move forward and solve our many problems until we start with small changes.

Anyway, this is one of the earlier TED talks and it is great!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Mindbender: Russel's Paradox

I found this at

If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct?

A) 25%

B) 50%

C) 60%

D) 25%.

I'll do my best to try to explain it in comments next week.  Let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Runnings log: the first cold run of the season

I went running barefoot by the Yonkers waterfront yesterday after work.  The temperature did drop here in New York, but still not too bad (although I hear it is showing in Manhattan right now).  As I huffed along, a girl coming out of a resturant spotted me and said "What the f--, yo-- Purteo Rican style!" when she got over the shock of seeing me barefooting.  I proudly did a few fist-pumps and continued on my way. As I past another couple a guy did another double take and I heard him say "what- I am freezing in a coat and boots and that guy is in shorts and a t-shirt running barefoot!".  That one made me laugh, but I continued on.  Just an example of how resilient and adaptable the human body is.  (during this past summer- I limited the amount of air conditioning I used to save energy and you know what- I survived).

My posting has been off since graduate school and work has exploded, but I want to give an update.  Last winter, I completely stopped running and ate myself up to my heaviest every.  This winter I plan on getting back into shape for next summer.

So much more to say, but time is out for now.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lefty's in history: American Civil War Edition

I enjoy reading RelaxMax over at

And he has been posting about the battle of Gettysburg, which I recommend if you are so inclined. So anyway, this left update is for you RelaxMax:

During the American Civil War, there was only one soldier to enlist as a private and end the war as a general officer. And he was left handed with no formal military training.

Nathan Bedford Forrest became a lieutenant general I the Confederate Army after enlisting as a private.

Our disposable culture

I follow and found this post today:


It makes the argument that the accepted disposable diapers save water is incorrect since refining petroleum also requires water. And the fact is that water usage is not the key factor since it is re-newable where as petroleum is limited resource.

I also thought the augment in favor of disposables was also the energy and water use required for cleaning and drying reusable diapers. I agree that the disposable expends non-reusable resources in production and then takes up space in a landfill if it doesn't end up in the ocean. I refer anyone to search the "pacific plastic patch" or check out my post .

We must start considering all costs- especially the hidden costs of disposable goods. We must change. I also recommend "the story of stuff". It really has changed the way I think about spending my money and the products I buy.

I don't know what the future will bring, but I know we must change. Given our failing (or failed) economy, we need a future system that is not so centered on endless consumption of limited expendable resources.  A part of that is changing our disposable is good mindset.  We became so centered on economic growth we never considered the consequences.

Another thing that never should have fallen in disfavor is using the sun (when available) to dry clothes.

I have been busy with work and school (I am now in graduate school) so my blogging time is in short supply, but as always you comments are welcome and I will do my best to respond.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lefty-musically inclined? ambi-aural

I myself am tone deaf. But did know that lab test have revealed that left-handed people are much more perceptive of changes in musical notes? A study in Scientific American magazine stated that “left-handers were just as likely to hear the high tone in their left ear as in their right.” Lefties tend to be ambi-aural as well as ambidextrous!  Aside from a great new vocabulary word I also learned that this is news?  Do most people hear different tone levels in each ear?  I had no idea.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The inevitable Collapse

Niall Ferguson: Will Debt Trigger US Collapse?

This layes it out in a very straight forward manner of where we are heading.  While the republicans and democrats are deadlock we continue to overspend.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More interesting information on how the brain is affected by different senses.

The Mcgual Effect?

Try it.  Look away while watching the video and you can notice the sound change when you are not looking to the original (correct) sound.  And it happens instantly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lefty Trivia news- A great left hander site!

If being left-handed is wrong, I don’t want to be right. is a great resource for us outcast lefthanders.


“Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.” – Thomas Carlyle

Story about lefty athlete:

Left-handed quarterback Scott Mitchell began his professional career with the Miami Dolphins, led the Detroit Lions to the playoffs in 1995 and 1997, and ended his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. More than two decades after leading Springville High School to its last state football championship, Mitchell became the head coach at his Utah alma mater in 2008.

Story about lefty writer:

Left-handed thriller writer Richard Condon had several of his novels turned into successful films, including The Manchurian Candidate and Prizzi’s Honor. Condon even created a character, Sergeant Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate, who was also a lefty.

Interesting story about lefty musician:

Dory Previn wrote the song “Left-Hand Lost” in which she explains that she was born left-handed but nuns in her school “broke her out of it.” Later in life, “I went back to using my left, my natural hand,” and discovered her musical talent, among other things.

More lefty birthdays:

8/16 Director James Cameron

8/19 Former President Bill Clinton

8/20 Songwriter Isaac Hayes

8/20 Singer Robert Plant

8/21 Musician Joe Strummer

9/14 Actress Joey Heatherton (no idea who this is)

9/15 Baseball player Nick Altrock

Taken from : The left-hander’s calendar

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coconut Oil pulling detox experiment: Does this work?

I love blogging. I also reading a number of other blogs. One site I enjoy is

Today I read this article coconut-oil-pulling-detox.  Always willing to try something new I ran out tonight and bought a $9 jar of coconut oil.  I went to Trader Joe's first, but they didn't have any.  I must have had a clueless look on my face, but a sales girl was good enough to ask if I need any help.  When I asked about coconut oil, she knew what it was and also that they didn't carry it.  I was dreading taking the extra ride to Whole Foods (about twenty minutes away) when I sales girl was good enough to recommend a health food store down the rode--Win.

Summary: There are a lot of toxins and bacteria in your mouth.  Holding certain oils in your mouth and swishing the oil for 10-15 minutes will absorb the toxins and bacteria, hence "pulling" the toxins out.  Or "pulling" the oil through your teeth, I really have no idea.

Some of the proposed benefits include:

  • Whiter teeth
  • Healthy gums
  • Clear sinuses
  • Decrease in allergy symptoms, asthma & PMS symptoms
  • Increase in energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer skin
  • Regulated menstrual cycles
Which naturally I really need a regulated menstrual cycle.  But seriously, as I mentioned before- I have a small patch of dry skin and since this only requires a $9 investment, I am giving it a go.

My first try:
The coconut oil is solid at room temperature and it melts quickly in my mouth. It does not have any taste that I could notice.  Although after a while I did notice a very faint coconut --very faint-- taste.  At just about the twenty minute mark I started to gag a little.  I didn't notice anything in particular- it was clear as much as I could tell.  A comment on the original post above, someone mentioned they tried it and they were shocked.  I have to be honest; I am a little disappointed.

Final comments:
It was a little weird, but I will try and do it every morning at least for the next week or two.  Actually, unless something happens unforeseen I'll try and do it every morning until the jar I bought is done.  The morning is best especially since it is recommended to to in on an empty stomach.  It is also said they if you expel into the sink, after rinse a few times with warm water and brushing your teeth use anti-bacterial soap to clean the sink.  (Is there really that much awful toxins and bacteria coming out of your mouth to concern an serious sink washing!)

We will see how it works.  More to follow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chinese Apartment Building Falls Over: Are governement regulations worth it?

I got an email from a friend at work showing a building fallen over on its side.

Of course, my spepical nature had me go to to check it out and it is indeed true:

By the way, truthorfiction is the go to place to check out the accuracy of those forwarded emails with outrageous claims.

The 13 story apartment building located in Eastern Shanghai, China, collapsed at 5:30AM on June 27, 2009.

Here is a news report:

(1) An underground garage was being dug on the south side of the building, to a depth of 4.6 meters (15 ft).

(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side of the building, to a height of 10 meters (32 ft).

(3) They dug right up to the base of the building. Then the rains came.

(4) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from north to south.

(5) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes, which was greater than what the un-reinforced pilings could tolerate. Thus, the building toppled completely over in a southerly direction.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TED: When Ideas have sex

Another great video to watch!

Unintended Consquences: You never know everything.

I have another partially written blog post about this that I don't have time to finish right now, but I don't see a reason not to share this now.
A quick summary on unintended consquences: they can be both good or bad.  I do not think this is a reason not to attempt something- but it is something to always be aware of.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Lefty fun facts

Did you know that Pythagoras was left-handed? So reports Catriona Byrne in Math Intelligencer. She also writes that left-handers are more represented among mathematicians than amoung a random population sample.

I have previously mentioned how most of my room-mates have been left handed (well over 60%) and how I notice a higher percentage of left-handers in risk/reliability analysis.  So there is something to hand-dominance and thought.  I also remember reading that there is a part of the brain that controls conformity with another part that controls rebellious (sorry, I feel like there is a better word, but I am at a loss). Further that recent studies left-handers have more activity in the rebellious area and less in conformity area.  Is it possible we are wired to our reactions to new ideas and we evolved as a race to have a majority of people who conform to maintain a status-quo with a small percentage of people wired to always move against the flow and try new things.  I believe it is.  Given how many problems we face as a race and the majority of the reason things are is "that's the way we have always done them" from our perspectives within our life time.  Actually, we have experience more change in the last 100 years than in the last 10,000.  And that rate of change is increasing.  I just hope we are will to change fast enough before a collapse forces us to change.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Whole new mind: Part II

I am about two-thirds the way through A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  I really am enjoying this book and the author is referencing quite a few other books that I have read including: Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and

The first part the author makes argument how this have changed and will change in the future.  He makes a compelling argument about the reason of job exports to Asia. As someone who alway decried the erosion of America's manufacturing base and felt government and corporations were short sighted in allowing it to happen I am now changing my attitude and not that I am for it- I do feel many mistakes were made in the last few decades, but I now have the perspective of how ineviable it was. 

The author further talks about how knowledge works (engineers, lawyers, programmers, mostly left-brain careers, etc.) have begun and will quickly more to Asia and then be replaced by computer automation.

His direction is that it will be combining left brain logically activatives with right brain creative activities for future productivity.  For example, Japan- the traditional left brain logical based ecomonies biggest export is now pop-culture (another head smack!).

Just a few quick thoughts for now on a book I would already recommend that I picked up via picks.

Also, I do not take a lot of time to proof-read- and I am awful at grammar- so if I miss something I apologize.

Jeff King at, a blog I love- posed a question a few weeks ago asking our biggest faults- which after thinking about it I first thought focus, but I realized it was actually procrastination.  I have 30 drafted blog posts that are not published because they are incomplete.  I also didn't get to comment on his blog since I am having some kind of issue.  So, as a note I wanted throw a shout out thank you to Jeff.

Anyway, thanks for reading!  And I would love to know what you think.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Dan Ariely: Are we in control of our own decisions?

Ok, I am now a fan of this guy’s work.  I’ll have to check out more of his stuff.

“We wake up in the morning and we believe we make decisions”.

Dan Ariely: Beware conflict of interest

An excellent discussion and insight into our personal bias. 

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. - Carl Sagan

Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion. - Voltaire

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A whole new mind

I just started reading A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  So far I am really enjoying it and it supposes to define how we can integrate left-brain logical thinking with right-brain creativity ability as our jobs change in the future.  While I am only in the first third of the book I wanted to get a excellent points from the book up here.

The left hemisphere analyzes the details;
The right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture

Or put another way of the ancient Greeks: The Hedgehog and the Fox: The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.  The left side is a fox; the right side is the hedgehog.

It details how left-brain thinking has dominated in the last century and how thing are changing.  Both side must work together for success in the future.  So far the author makes some excellent points and I am excited to finish the book. Things are obviously changing rapidly and they are system changes which our current system is not capable of implementing- so these necessary changes will be resisted. (Not sure I am getting my full thought on this- but

It is the second chapter which held some things I really wanted to share: Abundance, Asia, and Automation.

Self-storage- a business devoted to providing people a place to house their extra stuff- has become a $17 billion annual industry in the United States, larger than the motion picture industry. What's more, the industry is growing at an even faster rate in other countries.

The United States spends more on trash bags than ninety other countries spend on everything. In other words, the receptacles of our waste cost more than all of the goods consumed by nearly half the world's nations.

Those two statements blew me away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Types of Government: Democracy vs. Republic vs. Oligarchy and how to get out of jury duty

I found this video on facebook and found it very informative.

The discussion below are the words of Allison Oldak. You can follow her at AnarchyAllison

I really enjoyed this video, especially with it's explanation of due process as being pivotal to the difference between a republic and democracy.

Democracies are one vote systems of government while republics are three. In a republic your first vote is on election day when you chose your representative, that is your only vote in a democracy. Your second vote is when you serve on a grand jury and your third when you serve on a jury for a case that goes to trial.

Juries have two duties but since the Dred Scott decision have only been informed of one, deciding the facts of the case. The second is deciding the legality of the law. Despite the law being slaves are property no matter what territory they were in, Nothern juries were overwhelming voting "not guilty" thus nullifying the law and setting slaves free.

It is your power to interpret the law that ensures your freedom. It makes you more powerful than all three branches of the federal government. If you ever want to get out of jury duty, during the voir dire process inform the court that you have the right to interpret the law. You will be immediately dismissed from the court room. Much more quickly than feigning to be racist or incapable of speaking english. (continued)
Liberty (anarchy) is rooted in the philosophy of self ownership and the principle of non-aggression. All individuals are sovereign. They own their person and are endowed with the abilities to think and act for themselves. The video titled the philosophy of liberty does an excellent job or explaining this and especially the relation of your existence in time. I'll quote it now with this: your future is your life, your present is your liberty and your past can be demonstrated in your property. Justly acquired property is the product of your expenditure of your life and liberty, thus making it apart of you which no one else is entitled to.

Using violence or the threat of it or fraud to take your life, your liberty or property is immoral no matter if it's a single individual or many doing it. If an exchange isn't voluntary then there has been a violation of property rights (either your right to your own person or to your personal property).

Government is basically a group of people with a monopoly on initiating force. Government is perpetuated by taxation, which is inherently violent. Because taxation isn't voluntary it is an inherent violation of property rights (continued)
In anarchy no person has a right (that governments assume to have) to violate the property of another. No one is entitled to anyone else's life. All violations of private property are treated equally as being heinous with no exceptions being made because a particular group of people calls itself a certain name (government, police, the New York Rangers)

The video touches upon the fact that all property would be private but explains that would make travel too cumbersome. This isn't true. If communities and roads were privately owned you'd want more business and traffic flowing into them. Commerce and travel are encouraged and highlights of free societies, as this country was once noted for. The narrator believes anarchy is impractical because property rights would need to be enforced but the protection of property rights is supposed to be one of the very limited functions of a republican form of government.

Not all uses of a privately owned road by those who don't expressly pay for it to be maintained in a voluntary society have to be considered a form of trespass. If I wanted to open a bar I would not open it on a road that only allowed those who belonged to the community to travel on it. If I owned a road that stretched through mountains and swamp, I'd probably adjust my fees to a toll collection instead of trying to establish a community and contract around it.

The basic misperception of anarchy is that it entails violence. People calling themselves anarchists who initiate force on others are only anarchists in name. Property owners will see fit that their property is cared for because that responsibility falls on them alone unless they want to voluntary contract that responsibility out to another... And undoubtedly there will be markets for that. Sherifs. Private police forces. Private courts (maritime law was entirely private and property rights were preserved!)

Basically, there will always be people who commit crimes. Anarchy ensures no one has immunity to commit them.
Wish I had more time, but I figured I would put this out there.  Feel free to comment.  I still need time to review myself.
Thanks for reading,
Now, back to work

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Standing Desk Update: My Heel pain is gone.

As I wrote two weeks ago- stand-desk-i-now-have-heel-pain-i-am- I have been sitting at my desk during work again and I am happy to report my heel pain is gone.

Now that I know it definitely was caused by standing I intent to further my experiment since I still believe standing would help my overall health versus sitting- engaging more muscles, focus, extra calorie burn for weight maintenance, etc.

As I see it there could be three possible causes (assuming of course that it just makes sense that as human we can stand/walk as our natural state):

1) Overload: I went from sitting directly to standing for as long as I possibly could with almost no build up- 6-7 hours per day.

2) Standing posture: the video here has some interesting information:

She mentions the Alexander technique which I look into before.  While I was not static or hunched over while I stood, I could be wrong.

3) The dress shoes I was wearing.

For now I will first- stand for half a day on Fridays when it is appropriate to wear my vivos vivobarefoot . Later, I will purchase office appropriate vivobares- dharma:

Just to recap: I have heel pain when I transitioned from laying to standing or sitting to standing and minor pain when walking in shoes (barefoot, sandals walking/running pain free).

After two weeks of sitting during the day my heel pain is gone, so I will try standing only with minimalist shoes.

I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Taken from:

the world today, more than 6 billion people live.

If this world were shrunk to the size of a village of 100 people, what would it look like?

59 would be Asian
14 would be American (North, Central and South)
14 would be African
12 would be European
1 would be from the South Pacific

50 would be women, 50 would be men

30 would be children, 70 would be adults.

70 would be nonwhite, 30 would be white

90 would be heterosexual, 10 would be homosexual

33 would be Christians
21 would be Moslems
15 would be Hindus
6 would be Buddhists
5 would be Animists
6 would believe in other religions
14 would be without any religion or atheist.

15 would speak Chinese, Mandarin
7 English
6 Hindi
6 Spanish
5 Russian
4 Arabic
3 Bengali
3 Portuguese

The other would speak Indonesian, Japanese,
German, French, or some other language.

In such a village with so many sorts of folks, it would be very important to learn to understand people different from yourself and to accept others as they are. Of the 100 people in this village:

20 are underonurished
1 is dying of starvation, while 15 are overweight.

Of the wealth in this village, 6 people own 59% (all of them from the United States), 74 people own 39%, and 20 people share the remaining 2%.

Of the energy of this village, 20 people consume 80%, and 80 people share the remaining 20%.
20 have no clean, safe water to drink.
56 have access to sanitation
15 adults are illiterate.
1 has an university degree.
7 have computers.

In one year, 1 person in the village will die, but in the same year, 2 babies will be born, so that at the year's end the number of villagers will be 101.

If you do not live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups, then you are more fortunate than 20, who do.

If you can speak and act according to your faith and your conscience without harassment, imprisonment, torture or death, then you are more fortunate than 48, who can not.

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet and spare change somewhere around the house, then you are among the richest 8.

If you can read this message, that means you are probably lucky!

(The statistics were derived from Donella Meadows "State of the Village Report" first published in 1990)

Actually reposting this even though it is old but good information for a different perspective.  Not much has changed in the intervening years, other than the income distribution is now more worse.  I recently heard that the top 400 people control as much wealth as the bottom halk (150 million) of the United States.  I remembered this because of my earlier post about warren-buffet-wants-to-pay-more-taxes: my tax idea, and the 10 men go out for a beer tax explaination.

Warren Buffet wants to pay more taxes: my tax idea- progressive flat tax

Ok, part of the problem is how complicated the tax codes are. There are loop holes that people will take advantage of along with the law of unintended consequences. You can refer to either the book or movie of “freakconomics” A flat progressive tax. I actually believe I read about a version of this in Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them - A Fair and Balanced Look At The Right. The tax rate is paid at a graduated level on each portion of your income- just as an example-so lets say 5% on the first 20,000, 10% on up to 21,000-100,000, 20%- 200,000 etc.

For lets compare two people one making 40,000 and one make 175,000 (ignoring Social Security and states taxes).

Person 1: 40,000

$2,000 on the second $20,000

for total taxes of $3,000 and a net of $37,000Person 2: $175,000

would pay $1,000 on the first $20,000

$8,000 on the next $80,000

and then $15,000 on the final $75,000

for total taxes of $24,000 and a net of $151,000

Check out Malcom Gladwell video.

The tax rate used to be 90% for income of 2 million dollars (which would be about 15 million)

Encounter With Tiber by Buzz Aldrin & John Barnes

So Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut, wrote a sic-fi book that was published way back in 1996.  In it he details a second Space Shuttle loss- this one dealing with a one engine out Trans-Atlantic (TAL) abort.  It also details the bailout procedure when a second engine out leads to Loss of Vehicle.  Interesting that he basically predicted a second Shuttle loss. He also details contact with alien life.  I just started reading it. My local library actually had a copy! But an early discussion really hit home:

"As the business magazines summarized it, Sig Jarlsbourg had concluded that at least half of the most respected industries, ones that could be counted on in any portfolio, had to be shut down within the next century, and proposed a radical plan for putting them out of business..."

This statement really hit home as I believe we are at the beginning of a system "reboot"

Never predict the limits of possibility.

“We must be able to transmit things from other places over long distances… pictures, the news, energy… why not matter too? We must liberate thought from its limitations imposed by space and time, and yet keep its characteristics. This will be possible in the next decades or centuries.” --Nikola Tesla

Technology is rapidly changing and while there is alway dangers inherent I still truly believe we will enter a new golden age. What is more distrubing is how many of our problems increased by our choice of in the direction of technology.

Guess which lefty invented the modern Baseball Bat?

A large number of baseball players are left-handed, but none more famous than the "sultan of Swat", Babe Ruth.  Credited with the invention of the modern baseball bat, he was the first player to order a bat with a knob on the end of the handle.
Louisville Slugger produced the bat that he hity twenty-nine home runs with in 1919.

from "the left-hander's calendar"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Some great Lefty stuff! (and more lefty birthdays!)

“We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves” – John McCain

This cuts close to home- a very true statement

One of the most influential chemists in history, Linus Pauling was also a peace activist and educator. Born in Portland, Oregon, this lefty dropped out of high school one class short of graduation to attend Oregon Agricultural College, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Cal-Tech. Pauling was one of only four individuals to have won multiple Nobel Prizes and the first person to win unshared Nobel Prizes in two different fields. This down to earth  scientist also wrote numerous articles and books for the general public on science, peace, and health, including Vitamin C and the Common Cold, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, and Linus Pauling on Peace- A Scientist Speaks Out on Humanism and World Survival.

I now know a few more books to read.
"Left-handers are wired into the artistic half of the brain, which makes them imaginative, creative, surprising, ambiguous, exasperating, stubborn, emotional, witty, obsessive, infuriating, delightful, original, but never, ever dull."  - James T. Dekay
Lefty Birthdays:

August 15 Emperor Napolean Bonaparte

August 16 Director James Cameron

August 17 Actor Robert De Niro
August 18 Actor/Director Robert Redford and Actor Christian Slater

The Sagan Series:

I just found this thanks to a friend on Facebook.  I couldn't resist share it here.

Speaking of facebook:

I love to make new friends.

Black Swan Author on the coming economic crisis

I read The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable soon after it came out and it has dominated my thinking on our current world situation since.

I found two videos I think are very worthwhile to watch:

And further:

and finally:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Stock Market is Gambling. Straight up- no lie. Perfect Example!

I have this as a draft for over two months, but this story cause me to publish:

There is no better example of how broken the stock market is and how worried it should make you.  The solution is to decontruct it.  To much of our value is based on "stockholder" Opinion!

I do not care what complex math or modeling is used. Aside from the imperfect knowledge it is also an imperfect system. The feedback loops are just broken. Too much of a stocks value is based seemingly on “stock holder” opinion or collective intelligence (group intelligence) which is flawed. The easiest example is how quickly a stock price varies in relation to news that should have no effect. We have a complex system with bad feedback loops. I read recently that Berk-shire Hathway preformed better because Anne Hatheway hosted the Oscars- bringing web traffic to their site.

The rate of change is greater than ever before and rate of change itself is increasing in all aspects of our world. The system is becoming more virulent which of course means that more money can be made or loss faster than ever before. Day traders and computer purchases have destroyed the feedback loop. This is a system that is vunerable to a massive failure.

My solution is to remove myself as much as possible from the stock market. I think we are in line for another “dip” or significant drop in the overall stock market.

The system will not survive as it exists now (I know that is a weak prediction- I will make no others). My point is that no matter what you may think you know, unless you have insider trading or are on the inside (like a broker who makes money on the stock sale) it is a straight up gamble and further the vitility is increasing.

Accept that you are gambling or my advice--- stay out!

More information on Plastic: Toxic Love Story

I have not read this book, but I plan to.  Let me clear if I was not in my earlier post.  I am not anti-plastic, but I do feel it should not be used in disposible items and it is the intentional design/implementation of plastic that is producing this problem.

Plastic from Han on Vimeo.

Follow up to the plastic problem: more info on plastics

I found this blogpost about alternatives to plastic containers to avoid toxins in your foods:

Which had a link to a whole other blog that I thought was worthwhile:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NASA in New York

I got this via email and I figured anyone free who is in Manhattan on Wednesday and wanted to attend:

Announcement from the AIAA Long Island Section:

NASA, in conjunction with the Eventi Hotel in Manhattan is holding a public outreach event on Wednesday, August 17, from 10 am to 4 pm. This sounds like a great event for your children and grandchildren.

The Eventi Plaza will be transformed into a miniature space outpost filled with displays, demonstrations, interactive exhibits, video segments and children's activities. NASA employees will be available to explain how NASA's missions, scientific discoveries and aerospace technologies are influencing and improving the way we live.

Come take a virtual tour of the universe and beyond and see what NASA is planning for the future.

There will be more than a dozen exhibits, including NASA’s Journey To Tomorrow trailer which has interactive displays; space-related activities for children; and on-going robotic demonstrations. The Eventi plaza’s Big Screen will be running NASA video all day. If that isn’t enough, the final shuttle crew from STS-135 will be on hand to help kick off the event.

Two New York firms -- Honeybee Robotics and MesoScribe Technologies -- will demonstrate how they are contributing to NASA missions. Honeybee developed tools that played a critical role in the Phoenix Mars Lander that explored the Arctic Plain of the Red Planet. MesoScribe, specializing in manufacturing sensors for harsh environments, will demonstrate the use of a robotic arm.

Be part of the Moon Base Alpha crew and find a solution to restore the life support capability to a lunar habitat after a meteorite impact. Drive a rover across a lunar terrain from the Eventi plaza.

The NASA press release with details is at:


there’s a Facebook page:

The Eventi Hotel is located at 851 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) between West 29th and West 30th Streets, New York, NY 10001, walking distance from Penn Station.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The plastic problem: The pacific plastic patch-- most important post!

I am including two videos below about the pacific plastic patch.  The first one is short and gives an introduction to the problem.  Plastic (or more technical polymers) are amazing in that they are cheap, strong, lightweight and just have some excellent properties.  Actually, its biggest advantage leads to the core problem- it is non-biodegrable.  I would state the problem more to its applications for disposable items.

This was only discovered in 2007.  This is a problem that has been building for decades.  I have been quoting to be people that it is the size of Texas and I was wrong- it is twice the size of Texas and growing.  And this is completely a manufactured problem.  This problem would be much smaller if we captured the full costs of reclaiming garbage.

From what I understand they have now also found a garbage patch in the atlantic ocean.  This is again a complex system problem that is more expensive and bigger than any one country is willing to front the expense on.

What makes me angry is how avoidable this problem would have been in the first place. I heard recently a California politician  lamenting a new law that would close down three plastic bag factories.  Well, I got news for you- they are should be shutdown.

I have talked about it before, but I will include it again:

and also:

Step 1) Carry reusable shopping bags and do not accept plastic bags.  I keep four in my car, but to be honest- I forget them sometimes.  Also, since I live in the city I usually take the train- if I have a bag I limit the plastic bags I use.

Step 2) Try to shop at stores that do not give plastic bags. The three I know are Ikea, Costco, and Trader Joe's (Trader Joe's actually will give paper bags or a raffle for a $25 gift certificate for every reusable bag you bring in).

This is only the beginning- spend your money at stores that at least make an effort to reduce or eliminate plastic bags. There is so much more to do- but we have to start somewhere.

Please forward and spread the word.  Also feel free to comment with other stores that do not give plastic bags or other ideas we can do as individuals to start on a solution to our plastic garbage problem.

Thanks for reading,


Lefthanders Day: Every August 13th

Lefthanders day is every August 13th. The first one, in 1976, fell on a Friday and was chosen to spoof the superstitions associated with lefties.

I missed it this year, but I added it to my google calendar so I'll be sure to celebrate it from now on.

Lefties Unite!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The progress of technology: a 1959 all steel car vs. a 2009

Watch this 'til the end as there are several camera views and summary text.  It is 2009 car vs. a 1959 car in a crash test.  How many times have you heard: "I wish they would make cars the way they did in the old days."  This video dispels that myth. You know how we always think about what big huge tanks the old cars of the 50's and 60's were for size.   We talk about how there is so much plastic on the new cars that if one of the old tanks ever collided with a new car, the new car would be demolished.  Well, someone in the insurance industry put that theory to the test.  Be sure to watch toward the end to see the overhead view and the assessment of driver injury. Fasten your seat belts.

A Sinister Advantage: Another benefit of lefties

I found this in my in an old email so I figured I would share it:

A sinister advantage

Dec 9th 2004

From The Economist print edition

A possible reason why left-handedness is rare but not extinct

IT IS hard to box against a southpaw, as Apollo Creed found out when he fought Rocky Balboa in the first of an interminable series of movies. While "Rocky" is fiction, the strategic advantage of being left-handed in a fight is very real, simply because most right-handed people have little experience of fighting left-handers, but not vice versa. And the same competitive advantage is enjoyed by left-handers in other sports, such as tennis and cricket.

The orthodox view of human handedness is that it is connected to the bilateral specialisation of the brain that has concentrated language-processing functions on the left side of that organ. Because, long ago in the evolutionary past, an ancestor of humans (and all other vertebrate animals) underwent a contortion that twisted its head around 180° relative to its body, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. In humans, the left brain (and thus the right body) is usually dominant. And on average, left-handers are smaller and lighter than right-handers. That should put them at an evolutionary disadvantage. Sporting advantage notwithstanding, therefore, the existence of left-handedness poses a problem for biologists. But Charlotte Faurie and Michel Raymond, of the University of Montpellier II, in France, think they know the answer. As they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, there is a clue in the advantage seen in boxing.

As any schoolboy could tell you, winning fights enhances your status. If, in prehistory, this translated into increased reproductive success, it might have been enough to maintain a certain proportion of left-handers in the population, by balancing the costs of being left-handed with the advantages gained in fighting. If that is true, then there will be a higher proportion of left-handers in societies with higher levels of violence, since the advantages of being left-handed will be enhanced in such societies. Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond set out to test this hypothesis.

Fighting in modern societies often involves the use of technology, notably firearms, that is unlikely to give any advantage to left-handers. So Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond decided to confine their investigation to the proportion of left-handers and the level of violence (by number of homicides) in traditional societies.

By trawling the literature, checking with police departments, and even going out into the field and asking people, the two researchers found that the proportion of left-handers in a traditional society is, indeed, correlated with its homicide rate. One of the highest proportions of left-handers, for example, was found among the Yanomamo of South America. Raiding and warfare are central to Yanomamo culture. The murder rate is 4 per 1,000 inhabitants per year (compared with, for example, 0.068 in New York). And, according to Dr Faurie and Dr Raymond, 22.6% of Yanomamo are left-handed. In contrast, Dioula-speaking people of Burkina Faso in West Africa are virtual pacifists. There are only 0.013 murders per 1,000 inhabitants among them and only 3.4% of the population is left-handed.

While there is no suggestion that left-handed people are more violent than the right-handed, it looks as though they are more successfully violent. Perhaps that helps to explain the double meaning of the word "sinister".

Stand Desk- I now have heel pain! I am back to sitting

This is a quick update and warning with the experience I have had with my standing desk.  Early July I developed heel pain- It sounds from my research on the web that it is plantar fasciitis, but I am not a doctor so I would not make that declaration.  Now I also reduced my running from 20 miles to 10 miles a week. 

I do not know exactly why this developed, but here is my thinking: I am still overweight so maybe that is a factor.  The shoes and boots I am required to wear at work might be a contributing factor.  The pain is only when I stand-up or sit up- not when actually standing and it is relieved by walking or running (especially barefoot).  For the time being the last week and a half I have been sitting at work again.  Actually, last Friday I tried standing for two hours and the heel pain got worse again after subsiding.

More to follow, but  I may try re-incorporating standing partially during the day once it heals.  Perhaps it was because I went full standing for as long as I could from the get go.  I might also try to find office appropriate minimalist shoes.

Another TED Video to Watch!

I really hope this guy succeeds.  "They say the pen is mightier than the sword, I think the video is mightier than the pen".  Enjoyed this video and this is another example of how the internet allows good ideas to spread.

Jeremy Gilley: One day of peace

Inspiration from Lefties: Patton

Inspiration from Lefties

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”—George S. Patton

As a left hander I usually have counter-populist opinions or beliefs on many subjects. I remember reading a study a few years ago which stated that the area of the brain which makes you want to conform is more active in right handers and the area of the brain that makes you want to chanelleges the status quo is extremely active in

Actually I got this quote from my left-hander’s Calendar which inspired me to look up some other quotes from one of histories best generals:

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains that victory.

Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man. Anything built by man, can be destroyed by him.—Actually I will add that nothing is 100% fail-safe.

I am not going to subsidize cowardice.

Hold’em by the nose and kick’em in the pants.

I wonder if I could have been here before as I drive up the Roman road the Theater seems familiar – perhaps I headed a legion up that same white road… I passed a chateau in ruins which I possibly helped escalade in the middle ages. There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, We are, and we will be. – Patton believed in reincarnation and so do I— mainly because I like the idea of it.


Complexity Example: Asia Stocks up and then down. US markets down then up.

So Asian market shot up initially as the debt ceiling deal was reached and today have dropped since of the United State stock performance from a “sell-off”. I put sell-off in quotes since that is an assumption and the system is too complex and too reactive so that feedback and feed forward loops are broken. We have built and rely on a system no one fully understands. My worry is about entering a long term depression. When most capital is controller by a few large mono-corporations and a small percentage of individuals we are exposed to a system crash risk. Now I cannot say for sure as fact that there will be a crash, but I believe it will happen. The solution is to start changes now. Reduce investment in the stock market and support small local business. Remove your money from large banks. Start you own small business. I do not know the full answer and this is certainly not definitive solutions, but we should at least start thinking and discussing about changing now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My 7 favorite books: What I recommend everyone reads to feel better about the future

It is a difficult time right now and it is easy to think the world is ending.  So many of our problems are so humongous that it is easy to be overwhelmed and give up.  What on earth is one person supposed to do?  I think as dark as things look now we will pull through and the books below are a large part of why:

1) This book details the story of the Santa Fe Institute while also describing examples of applied complexity theory. Most people have heard of chaos theory and how everything in the universe is move towards disorder.  I remember a professor related an example how opening a can of coke increases entropy and therefore contributes to bringing about the end of the universe.  But that is only half the story, because while certain thing in nature move towards disorder other things in nature move towards order.  The molecules in liquid water will self-organize into a crystalline structure when their temperature is lowered to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As humans we self organize into more complex groupings from villages to towns to cities which can be studied as highly complex organisations. The book lays out how thinkers in various field came together to form the Santa Fe Institute.  Economics, weather, mathematics, artificial intelligences are all fields that complexity theory is applied to.  The two examples I remember best are how Santa Fe Institute helped FedEx improve there package transfers and how to prove that "nice guys" finish first using a simple computer problem called "the prisoner's dilemma.

2)This is from the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and his follow up after what he realises what is being done to first world by the banking system after he was responsible for applied ruthless economic finance practises on third world countries in the sixties and seventies.  I read the first half or more and my first thought was "Why on earth did you wait so long to write this book!?!" since him claims to be an insider.  Of course, once you finish the book he ends it on a positive note with the numerous changes he sees coming around the world.  One story he recounts is being at a green conference where he ends up in the hot tub with a CEO of what used to be one of the worst polluting corporations and a eco-protester who was instrumental in force the company to change its ways.  In a situation he at first felt awkward was since the protest had turned "nasty" changed when the CEO thanks them both for giving him the opportunity to initiate change in the company. The CEO mentions how he had discussed making changes to the companies policy but he was a prison of "stockholder" opinion as much as anyone else.  Corporations are not inherently evil and it has more to do with our current system of endless growth and how we now have a system that promotes profit at all cost.  (also discussed in The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction- which I have below.)  He also mentions speaking with MBA graduates and how much the attitudes changed in only a year.  Where earlier the new MBA's were talking about money and what they would earn new graduates talked about the volunteer work or non-profit work they would dedicate themselves too once their student loans were paid off.  Things will get better as we realize we are all in this together!

3) This is the book that introduced me to barefoot running which I have written about extensively.  I can't say enough about what it means to be able to run again. A part of my philosophy is how important regular physical activity is for our health and how it is a main thing each of us can do to improve ourselves and collectively improve society. With regular exercise your health improves but so does you attitude.  You will be nicer to those around you. Now for me running is key, but I encourage people to read this book and try running- but do something.  It also contains a great story about a pacifist culture that is now being threatened by Mexican drug cartels.  Whether or not you are interested in bare-footing, it is a great read.  I also had the pleasure of meeting the author, Christopher McDougal a few weeks ago through a event.

4) In this book, the follow up to the author's (Michael Pollan) The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, he gives very simple diet advice with just seven simple words: Eat Food, Not too much, mostly green.  He defines
food as something our great-grand fathers would recognize. A lot of information is given about the reduction in the variety of food "products" while simultaneously reducing our variety of natural foods from industrialized farming.  I actually recommend both his books, but this one is the easier read.  His two books also talk about "real organic" and locally produced food with details about Poly face farms.  A large reason industrial food is such a problem is how much it is dependent on fossil fuels, not just for the machinery or transportation, but also for fertilizer and pesticides.  Read the website, Poly Face Farms is a true organic farm that requires very little fossil fuels and the soil gets healthier every year.   I highly encourage you to check out the book and the farm.  I think this is the future of farming.

5) This a follow up to Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage).  This is basically an abridged or summary version of the earlier book.  In it Gary Taubes outlines how sugar and starches cause us to become insulin resistant and one it starts it is a positive feed back loop that once it begins the only way to cure the imbalance is by foregoing sugars and starches.  A few key things I learned from this book: originally obesity was treated as a disease and early doctor prescribed bed rest, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, and weight gain is all about insulin response.  He make a compelling case against calories in- calories out and that weight is all about hormone response.  While not a diet or weight book itself it does give a lot of good information on why most of the problem may be insulin resistance and current accepted theories about calorie intake are not just off, but plain wrong.


6) This is the book I have most recently read and the one I have frequently quoted both in personal discussions and on this blog. (And the author, Rebecca Costa, actually commented on my blog here, which really blew my mind.) I actually bought this book from Border Books and Music during their going out of business sale and boy am I glad I did. She describes the root cause failures of three of the greatest civilization that lasted for centuries but eventually were overcome by their own success when complexity out grew the faculties to solve the problems.  What actually caused their failure was their inability to differentiate mitigations from actually solutions and delay the problem for the next generation to deal with.  She also articulated something I felt for the longest time. When presented with a problem with not solution the way to solve it is to apply every available mitigation at once not piecemeal while continuing to posit the problem (brainstorm, trial and error, I know actually thinking, etc.).  Instead we apply a single mitigation, fire someone, and move on until the problem returns large than before.  She mentions supermems which are belief we all hold to be true but in reality are not. I have more to say, but for now I will mention that one of the things some of the reviewers I read on think she misses overpopulation as a root cause. I disagree and feel she is correct to omit overpopulation as a root cause because it is most of our current wasteful systems that make our growing population a problem- not the magnitude of the population itself.  The quick example I would give is a quick thought experiment. (and feel free to comment if you don't agree- I am going out on a limb here.) If we suddenly discovered a Stargate (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray] technology that essential opened up new world to colonize overpopulation would not be a problem.  Also, if there was a cold-fusion breakthrough most of the overpopulation problems could be solved- I think our food production and consumer society are system problems that are magnified by population but could be solved independently.

7) I met this author as well at the PSAM 10 and got him to autograph his book: The Failure of Risk Management: Why It's Broken and How to Fix It.  He also wrote How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business.  The reason this book makes the list is that one of our system problems is how inaccurate our data is.  The internet is opening up all kinds of opportunities for real time (or near real time) feedback on so many different aspects of our society.  A large part of the problem is judge the success of applied solutions and also the inherent bias in many of the scientific studies that are done.  Actually, in Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason, he defines it as for the last century information media has been hierarchical with top-down control.  The internet is allow a flow of information both ways and now it is possible to find the real truth.

So there it is, seven books that may help make sense of the world, define the problem, promote actual solution, and help give a positive attitude on the future. This is just the start and most of these books are the "lite" version or will hopefully lead you to read other books.

Knowledge is power-- Sharing knowledge is true power.  Pay it forward and lets work together for the future.  Because alone we will fail.

Lastly, if you have any books you recommend- let me know by any means.

Thanks, Frank