The Back of the Napkin author Dan Roam gave a wonderful Google Talk where he described his Six by Six Rule of problem solving. In his consultant work with corporate execs, Roam's "value proposition" is...
He supports this assertion with the observation that humans are fundamentally visual creatures -- over 75% of the sensory processing going on in the brain is visual processing. Further, the brain seems to process information using at least six "pathways"...
In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses the following question with Umberto Eco, who happens to possess a rather significant, personal library.
- Is the value of a library in the books you've read or in the books you have not read?
Most people are disappointed to learn that Eco hasn't read most of the books it contains. Eco feels precisely the opposite. To him, the value of the library lies in the unread books--the books yet to be discovered.
Which is why he continues adding to his collection. So to Eco (and Taleb), the library's value lies in its undiscovered volumes, which echo's Shakespeare's line about the "undiscovered country."
But others answer the question differently...
Charlie Rose conversation with Malcolm Gladwell - Thoroughly enjoyed this Charlie Rose interview with Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell was relaxed, passionate, involved, articulate--and Rose didn't interrupt too much, letting Gladwell play jazz with his words and ideas.
At one point Rose asked Gladwell about his explanation for why people from Asian cultures are better at math than people from European, American, and other non-Asian cultures. Odd, seemingly racist topic, but apparently the research is clear--Asian cultures do better in math than most non-Asian cultures. Gladwell has an interesting theory as to why...
The Diet Cure by Julia Ross - Fascinating book that focuses on how deficiencies in key amino acids can lead to deficiencies in vital neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter determine how we feel: hungry, full, tired, amped, happy, depressed. When amino acid supplies run low...so do we.
- 60 Minutes to watch... and a lifetime to act
- Watched this piece on 60 Minutes and was so impressed with Paul Farmer and the organization he co-founded Partners in Health (PIH). The stories literally moved me to tears--I sent a donation right after the segment.
Farmer is a smart determined guy who is making health care available in some really troubled parts of the world like Haiti and Rowanda. His approach is collaborative--he doesn't want these places to be totally dependent on foreign workers, so he's training natives to take care of their own people. He's also being smart about getting drugs to people in need at lower costs by negotiating with manufacturers to produce lower cost generics. He's treating people with AIDS in these countries, drug resistant TB. As he put it, the health care PIH can provide is better than some regions receive in the U.S. Indeed, some U.S. health agencies are using PIH as a model for inexpensive health care delivery. Tremendous impact. The dedication he has is obvious. These are our heroes. These people must be the examples our children follow and admire.
Five Rules for Mastering Leptin - I found this a ready summary of Byron and Mary Richards' book Mastering Leptin. The book itself contains an enormous amount of detail, as the authors present their findings from a thorough research review on the recently discovered appetite controlling hormone leptin.
Notes from NYT article What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage by Amy Sutherland introduces how methods used by animal trainers can be used to train your spouse (or co-workers, etc.). I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault."
Main point - Reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior.
"After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband."
Calcium score - Also called Agatston score, measures the amount of calcified plaque inside the coronary arteries. Higher the calcium score, the higher the chance of heart attack. Excellent predictor of future heart attack risk.
Computed tomography (CT) or electron beam tomography (EBT) - used for imaging heart. Scans provide a calcium score?
Atherosclerosis - When artery walls gradually filled with plaque (cholesterol, inflammatory cells, scar tissue). Different kinds of plaque. Heart attack caused when soft cholesterol rich plaque bursts, resulting in blood clot. Blood clot blocks blood flow to heart. News to me. I thought plaque, not a blood clot, that caused artery blockage and heart attack. But this clot model makes sense, given sudden nature of heart attack. A slowly developing plaque blockage should give the heart time to grow collateral vessels.
Better model of heart attack - Heart attack not caused by plaque blockage in the tube of the vessel (old school). The culprit is plaque depositing in the inner lining of vessel walls, like pimple filled with cholesterol. When pimples bursts, an injury site is created. To heal the injury, a clot will form. If the clot is big enough, it blocks the artery, causing heart attack.
Cave Bookcase by Sakura Adachi - I love this idea and image. It does look like a cave in a bookcase--not that it looks that comfortable, but it's a visually jarring image because the smooth curves interrupt the straight vertical and horizontal lines. Sakura Adachi has designed a winner cave bookcase...expensive...but a winner.
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff lets you literally see under the skin of common yoga poses. But the strength of this book lies in how it infuses lessons on anatomy with a core focus on breath and gravity. Through wonderfully detailed illustrations and easy-to-understand text, Yoga Anatomy depicts the skeletal and muscular anatomy of many common yoga asanas.
From breathing to standing poses, Kaminoff (with illustrator Sharon Ellis) helps you see how each muscle is used--and how slight alterations can enhance (or reduce) the effectiveness of a pose. With these images and explanations, it becomes clear how the spine, breathing, and body position are all fundamentally linked in the journey to find a balance point between breath and gravity.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho is an absolutely beautiful story. I received the book as a gift from a dear friend many years ago. I'm sorry it took so long for me to read this enduring work of art.
The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd boy with dreams of finding treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. Pointing the way are gypsies, an alchemist, and mysterious omens. But it's the boy's trust and courage that propel his journey. With The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho crafted a true fable, filled with symbols and simple truths. It's a story about following your dreams, yes. But the fable's greater message is to pay attention to the "omens" of life -- the voice of spirit. Do that and your happiness is assured. Which isn't to say the journey is without suffering. But the Alchemist in the story says...
I highly recommend this beautiful book, The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream.
Mysticism is a rational enterprise, religion is not...The only angels we need invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devil.
~ Sam Harris
End of Faith by Sam Harris ignites a firestorm of debate. Here are some choice reviews and comments:
In Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert exposes the flaws of the human mind.
Quite disillusioning, this expose of the human mind. His thesis is simple. Humans cannot reliably predict what will make us happy, nor can we accurately recall what made us happy in the past. That leaves us with the present.
The reasons for our failure to find happiness are many, and revolve around the idiocyncracies of the human mind.
One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune or fame.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb joined a discussion at IBM about his book The Black Swan. Here are my notes from the discussion. I've added my own comments and explanations (based on his books).
As an author, Taleb tries to be universal and not customize his message to the audience. (I think he's talking about the ideas he's espousing, not the method of communicating. Your communication style HAS to consider the audience or your won't be heard.)
Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor - The title got my attention; after the first page, I was hooked. Josh Wolk has written a totally hilarious book. Highly recommended.
|Cabin Pressure: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor by Josh Wolk|
Andrew Henry's Meadow - My favorite book from early childhood. Doris Burn's illustrations are seared into my memory. Fond feelings swell in me whenever I pick up my old, tattered copy--which I still read after so many years.
Just found out they re-released the book--a 40th anniversary edition--so it's available at Amazon.com (link below). I may have to pick up a copy...for another young boy.
|Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn|
Timothy Ferris Recommends Books - These are a few of the books recommended by Ferris in his The 4-Hour Workweek book.
|The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferris|
|The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber|
|The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz|
|How to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur's Guide by Dan S. Kennedy|
Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss - Status-quo shattering book. I read it through once, and am starting over. The concepts are simple. Deferred living (retirement) is the worst kind of insurance. Live now. Forget abstract goals. Go for what excites you. In fact, go for specific, unreasonable goals that excite you. There's too much competition for the mediocre goals. Less competition for the unreasonable goals (John Nash was wrong; in a pick-up bar, everyone is pursuing the 8's, not the 10's.)
Ferriss makes a four hour workweek seem attainable. It takes discipline. It takes a low information diet and focusing on two principles or laws...
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb - Nassim Nicholas Taleb has written a mind-blowing book! Totally contrarian and terrifically clear in explaining the fallacies followed by journalist, investors, traders and, sadly, many scientists.
Example: Failing to notice the difference between probability and expectation, famous commodity trader/investor Jim Rogers made this astounding statement.
Rogers confused probability with expectation.
Had Nassim Taleb been born in any other period, he would have certainly been put to death.
~ Carine Chichereau, co-translator of TBS.
Black Swan and Nassim Taleb - Listened to Nassim Taleb on KQED's Forum program, and the ideas about randomness and luck drove me to his recent book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
A read it once, then started over, this time going a bit slower, trying to commune with his counter-intuitive ideas and wonderfully illustrative thought experiments. This books is such a colorful pallet of ideas that somehow connect without falling into a grand theory or trite advice. Indeed, that's part of the Taleb's message in The Black Swan. That theories are contrived and can lead us to a false sense of security or doom. Skeptical empiricism reigns over theory, narrative, and other often misguided simplifications.
I really love this book by Edward de Bono. It provides many challenging perspectives on what religion can and should do for a person, and dares to suggest an improved "meta-system."
And don't look for absolute truths here. De Bono scorns such statements. Instead he suggest we strive for "proto-truths," which may be no less true, but as the term implies they are also easily discarded when better truths are discovered.
And the ideal of love is replace with respect, a more achievable, if not useful goal.
As for God, such an entity/force is not denied but instead de Bono's religion focuses on the capacities of the human mind as god. Fascinating arguments. Surprisingly inspiring stuff--even in de Bono's usual dry prose. Sadly, the book is out-of-print. So here are some highlights.
Me to We - Finding Meaning in a Material World. Just picked up this book by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. Sound like two incredible people. Rhodes scholar and Nobel Peace Prize nominations (3), and they look to be barely 30 (need to find out). Eager to read about their philosophy of Me to We.
Notes and quotes from Psychology Today: Finding flow - creativity and optimum functioning
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE SKIING DOWN A SLOPE and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body
There is no room in your awareness for conflicts or contradictions; you know that a distracting thought or emotion might get you buried face down in the snow. The run is so perfect that you want it to last forever.
It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life. We can be happy experiencing the passive pleasure of a rested body, warm sunshine, or the contentment of a serene relationship, but this kind of happiness is dependent on favorable external circumstances. The happiness that follows flow is of our own making, and it leads to increasing complexity and growth in consciousness.
Pain...and pleasure...but in my case it's pain.
We're not driven by logic or new information, unless they lead to an emotion. Logic won't drive us to behave differently. Emotion does. The association of pain or pleasure drive us to act...which is why feelings are called e-motions. Emotions get us to move, to act, to behave.
It's why diets don't work. They don't address the emotion we associate to food. It's so damn simple when you think about it. If you associate pleasure with pizza, you will associate sacrifice if you stop eating pizza because of a diet. Naturally, you will want to both relieve the feeling of sacrifice (avoid pain) and pursue the pleasure you associate with eating pizza (pursue pleasure). It's inevitable!
He begins with three overarching steps to real change:
- Raise your standards
- Change your limiting beliefs
- Change your strategy
I'm not sure if this could be called the broad outline of the book, where the other chapters can fit into this. Don't totally think so yet. But he seems quite organized in his thinking and the models he espouses with such enthusiasm. I expect the outline will soon become clearer.
Anthony Robbins' Awaken the Giant Within - Picked this up some years ago. Actually found the ideas very helpful and insightful. I know many are turned off by Tony, but he knows his stuff and lives it. I'm hoping to jot down some notes from the book. My notes are organized by the book's chapters:
Biomimicry by Janine Benyus - Fascinating idea--philosophy, really--that we should look to the existing designs of nature for "innovation."
Not that such an approach isn't being used. Look at how pharmaceutical companies develop compounds found in rainforests into new drugs.
But biomimicry as Benyus describes it is something deeper. It's about changing how we view ourselves in the world as much as how we seek out nature-inspired design.
Jim Cramer Mad Money Stock Worksheet - It's embarrassing to admit, but I really get a kick out of Jim Cramer. While he's totally nuts on his CNBC TV show, Mad Money, he was much saner on his Real Money radio program. Unfortunately, the radio program is no longer on the air, though archives exist. In its place is a very good video on demand program where Cramer is interviewed by a columnist from his own TheStreet.com. Very insightful stuff with a reasonable delivery.
But about Cramer's Stock Worksheet in Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich. The book is short (less than 230 pages) and perhaps the best part is the Stock Worksheet, which outlines his approach to researching stocks -- or as he likes to refer to it, The Homework.
New Think - In this classic, Edward de Bono presents an accessible, practical handbook on how to generate new ideas or lateral thinking. His original book Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step is excellent, but a bit difficult to get through. New Think is quite the opposite. It's an easy, informative read. Below are my notes.
New Think by Edward de Bono
Below are notes from Edward de Bono's book New Think.
Hallucinogenic drugs alter our perceptions, the direction of our gaze, our focus. Many drugs alter perceptions. Funny. Altering perceptions is the goal of lateral thinking, too. Techniques of lateral thinking are like hallucinogenic drugs. And this, the 100th birthday of LSD's creator, Albert Hofmann.
Is the way we try to solve a problem, part of what makes the problem difficult to solve?
Madonna Magdelene Poetry - Kim Garcia, a dear college friend, has recently published a book of poetry titled Madonna Magdalene. I just ordered my copy and will report later on my impressions. In the meantime, my anticipation is teased by these reader comments...
We Were Soldiers - Based on the book We were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam by Lt. Col. Harold Moore (ret.) and journalist Joseph Galloway, the movie We Were Soldiers reminds us that the Vietnam War produced many heroes.
I was so moved by this film. Mel Gibson's performance felt right on, as did the performances of all the cast. My feelings were confirmed by a few who should know (read the reviews below).
House of God Laws - Rumor has it, when medical interns, residents, and nurses need an attitude adjustment because of what they face all day, they refer to the Laws of The House of God.
The laws come from Samuel Shem's book The House of God. A work of fiction, the novel is loosely based on Shem's year as a medical intern. It's a fast pace, cynical view of medical training that bombs all the Marcus Welby M.D. illusions our culture used to carry about the medical profession.
Also see Main/WhatUseIsReligionByRichardDawkins.
NEWSNIGHT BOOK CLUB
The God Delusion
In The God Delusion, the scientist Richard Dawkins sets out to attack God "in all his forms".
He believes that the rise of religious fundamentalism is dividing people around the world, while the dispute between "intelligent design" and Darwinism "is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science".
|The God Delusion|
Start Before You Are Ready
~ Robert Zuckerman
Kindsight®: Images and Words From the Flow - Serendipity. I woke up early on a Saturday morning and flipped the TV on to a Barry Kibrick interview with photographer Robert Zuckerman. Zuckerman has compiled a collection of photographs and quotes for a book called Kindsight®: Images and Words From the Flow. In his day job, Zuckerman is a well respected still photographer for the movie industry. He does portraits, movie poster images, and set photographs. This book contained none of those images. Instead, Kindsight® showcases photos of everyday people Zuckerman discovered during his not-so-everyday life, informal portraits of real people during moment of kindness.
I was reading The Soul's Code: In search of Character and Calling by James Hillman. In lieu of a preface, he presents a small collection of quotations. Here are my favorites.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce, Evolution's End
~ Pablo Picasso
~ Robertson Davies, Fifth Business
~ C. G. Jung
And this by Nabokov is...beautiful
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Memory and Forgiveness - I'm reminded of the book The Singularity Is Near, where author Ray Kurzweil forecasts that computers will match the processing power of the human brain by mid-century or 2050.
Kurzweil predicts we will be able to "download" skills, as represented in The Matrix. Think of that. But will it be any better than our current approach? Will we forget the skill as we do now and require multiple "downloads" to keep it up? Or is one download enough? I suppose it depends on the process of forgetting...and our process of storing information...So many questions.
The Wiki Way: Quick Collaboration on the Web by Bo Leuf and Ward Cunningham.
Been looking for this book for quite a while now. As with Hidden Connections, I found it at a used bookstore today.
I first encountered the wiki way on Wikipedia.org, where anyone--even me--can edit and add articles. I started a few stubs, enjoyed watching them evolve, even when my precious writing was updated. Almost always, the evolution of the articles made them better. Of course there comes a point of diminishing returns.
So I played with installing various wikis, including Wikimedia (wikipedia's engine) and PmWiki, the PHP script running this wiki. Wikimedia was a monster. Huge resource hog, database driven. PmWiki was relatively resource light, no database, flat file, which at first I disliked, but as I read the developer's reasons for choosing flat file, I bought into the idea. In fact, I've become very enthusiastic, in large part because updates are a breeze. I have a Drupal blog that is MySQL driven, and version updates are a nightmare--mostly because of the damn database.
Hidden Connections - I read The Turning Point and The Tao of Physics by Capra many years ago. And his Uncommon Wisdom which is excellent. But I sort of lost track of him. Then I happened upon this Hidden Connections in a used bookstore. It's not very old (2002). Focuses on sustainability. I guess it's a followup to his The Web of Life, which I haven't read. Plan to read this one. Looks right up my alley. Capra is an interesting writer to me, though his strength is in dialogue, starting and sustaining a conversation (something more than an interview). Uncommon Wisdom was so fascinating in that respect, filled with his dialogues with brilliant minds from a broad spectrum of disciplines.