Sunday, December 07, 2008

make your own warning sign
Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why your boss is overpaid

Saturday, December 6th, 2008
Chapter 4 of Tim Harford’s “The Logic of Life” (Random House, 2008) is a revelation. Evaluation of performance in establishing pay and bonus rewards for employees is known to be difficult, so many employers resort to a “tournament model” - using vaguely defined “best performance”. The lack of specificity of goals (and scoring) permits a boss to promise a “prize” for “the best __”, leaving the evaluation to a back-room discussion among the deciders, yet leaving employees to hope that their performance will be picked as the winner.
From page 95: “So bosses will rationally search for more-informal ways of rewarding their best staff. Rather than writing down a specific objective measure of performance, they give themselves discretion to reward “good work” without being too precise about what “good work” is.” <...> (and) <...> :…but for one important problem: Managers are lying weasels.
Sound familiar ? The quote at the beginning of the Chapter is also from Dilbert.
Dilbert: “My problem is that other people keep trying to drag me down, Bob. My theory is that people denigrate me because it makes them feel superior in comparison.” Bob: “Sounds like a stupid theory to me.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

forgiveness vs revenge
Monday, November 10th, 2008
Forgiveness vs. Revenge.


Revenge is sweet. Songs of revenge versus forgiveness - many more songs of revenge than forgiveness. Are you a chump when you forgive rather than get satisfaction ?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dear Senator Obama (Oct 17)
Friday, October 17th, 2008
Dear Senator Obama,

When John McCain tries to scare people by saying you will take their hard-earned money and redistribute it for them (”spread it around”), one point that you should make is that in world where unrestrained excess and unregulated abuse of power and privilege has caused an unacceptable extreme. It is not really my worry that the rich get richer — I hope to be middle-class someday myself and make four million a year. It is that the poor are getting really much more poor and hopeless. The extremes show up in the general feeling that executives of failed financial institutions are (rightfully) prohibited from being awarded excessive separation bonuses and golden parachutes. Those excesses are visible and easy targets. The AIG executives with their luxury retreats even while taxpayers are bailing out their bankrupt company, are an obvious target.

Who remain invisible are the American citizens at the other end of the spectrum, the marginalized and unemployed, and increasingly desperate poor. Who was it that said, “judge a country by how its poorest citizens are treated” ? The rich can take care of themselves - they don’t need any more tax breaks. Joe the “plumber” didn’t have a valid plumber’s license - it’s ridiculous to drop regulations and standards, and let him run a plumbing business that he wants. Joe even had tax liens - he created his own tax breaks.

I believe that the trend of the poor getting poorer (and the rich getting richer, but that’s actually less important) is the real danger in this country. Poverty and hopelessness, and lack of education and opportunity, are the forces that will eventually cause the most damage to the future of this country, and to the lives of our children. Please speak to that, if you could. Pick out a real person or family, and describe how by “spreading the wealth” and giving them hope, education, and opportunity, and a slice of the American pie, we as Americans can stand proud because our society actually protects the poorest and least able to help themselves.

Even if you don’t take this to the public during the campaign, I hope you remember to consider this when you take office in 2009.

Thank you,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

completeness, consistency, and politics
Sunday, October 12th, 2008
Kurt Gödel at the beginning of the 20th century developed this idea about “completeness” - summarized by Douglas Hofstadter in his recent book “I am a strange loop“. I’ll continue to abuse Kurt’s ideas with this paraphrase:

1. If a system requires internal consistency there are things that cannot be proven.
2. If a system is required to be “complete”; that is, have proofs for everything, you have to live with internal inconsistencies.

I finally realized, that Obama is probably the candidate that is trying to be logical and consistent. He cannot bring himself to talk out both sides of his mouth at the same time. Obama is trapped in his logical, consistent universe, and he will have to grant you, some things just aren’t going to be provable. I think he would be OK with that, having confidence that when faced with such uncertainty, we can figure out what to do when the situations present themselves.

McCain, on the other hand, wants his certainty - completeness, and is not concerned with some internal inconsistencies, characteristic of his party - capital punishment is OK, sending US soldiers to death, killing Iraqis (hundreds of thousands) and Pakistanis (in cross border incursions into other sovereign nations) doesn’t seem to be a problem, but destroying four-celled clusters certain embryos is not. Biblical validation of definitions of marriage as between one man and one woman, don’t seem to have problems with polygamy - maybe we should bring that back, as are other things with which biblical references don’t raise objections, like slavery.

Deterministic answers appear to be desirable from GOP, while Dems ask the “what if” questions, and live with the unprovable nature of the universe. Donkeys seem to be more probabalistic.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Logic is the destruction of fallacy
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
“Logic is the destruction of fallacy. It’s an inherently inductive or deductive process that builds meaning out of a set of abstract notions.”

page 16, “Obedience (a novel)” by will lavender, shaye areheart books, new york, isbn 978-0-307-39610-5.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Red Sox clinch !
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Tim Wakefield got the win. When Papelbon came in - 8th inning on, the Dropkick Murphys song plays full blast all the time he warmed up on the mound. About 1/3 of the audience stayed for an hour after the end of the game.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Be cautious when responding to e-mails or phone calls from the 809, 284 or 876 area codes.
Sunday, September 21st, 2008
In general, if you don’t recognize the area code or phone number, google it first to determine if it is an international call which could cost you a high toll rate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Latin isn’t dead, at least it shouldn’t be…
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 includes such items as:
Sounding Smart in Latin
Listen, would you repeat everything you just told me, only this time say it in English?Heus, modo itera omnia quae mihi nunc nuper narravisti, sed nunc Anglice?

Oh! Was I speaking Latin again?Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar?

Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.

Sure, I speak a little Latin.Sane, paululum linguae Latinae dico.

I picked it up here and there. Really, Latin isn’t all that hard.Id legi modo hic modo illic. Vero, Latine loqui non est difficilissimum.

It looks like a tricky language, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.Lingua speciem involutam praebet, sed sat cito eam comprehendes.

And remember, there aren’t any Romans around to correct your pronunciation.Atque memento, nulli adsunt Romanorum qui locutionem tuam corrigant.(At a poetry reading)

It doesn’t rhyme.Nullo metro compositum est.

I don’t care. If it doesn’t rhyme, it isn’t a poem.Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema.
politics down under are perhaps best left right there…
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 the war in Iraq global warming dead whale - “I’m afraid I don’t know the answer, I’m not a botanist”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

phones are sheep
Sunday, August 31st, 2008 - follow the “Quicktime view” next to “Der Museumsneubau vermittelt in hohem Maße Transparenz und Offenheit.” and use the left arrow to see to the left, and you can see the sheep in their proper context in the Museum fur Kommunikation in Frankfurt. (the little black one is right in front of you next to the window).
Also see
Baa !

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

long stem and thorns
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Fading Memory
Two elderly couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other,” Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?” “Outstanding,” Fred replied. “They taught us all the latest psychological techniques: visualization, association, etc. It was great.” “That’s great! And what was the name of the clinic?” Fred went blank. He thought and thought, but couldn’t remember. Then a smile broke across his face and heasked, “What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?”“You mean a rose?”“Yes, that’s it!” He turned to his wife, “Rose, what was the name ofthat memory clinic?”

Thursday, June 05, 2008

100 power tools
Thursday, June 5th, 2008 - as with most “power tools” you must read the directions, and sometimes get specialized training, before you turn it on and use it. Otherwise digits get severed and people and things can get really badly damaged. But this is a fantastic collection of armaments, most of it is free, and very educational.

Monday, May 19, 2008

okay, “parasitic” and “butterfly” in the same phrase…

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

wall painted animation
Friday, May 16th, 2008 transformation, metamorphosis, change, who are we really (inside) — finally, what can be said about it ?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Harvey Diamond’s web page
Saturday, May 10th, 2008 and a sample:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yngwie Malmsteen - Icarus Dream Fanfare with Orchestra
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
I never heard of Yngwie until someone sent me this “gem”. Came along with a Bix Biederbecke quote:
“Once I heard Bix shake his head sadly after hearing a trumpet player and say, “He plays so many notes and they mean so little.”

Monday, April 28, 2008

Walking to the Eiffel Tower, 2002
Monday, April 28th, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Antimony and disambiguation

Sunday, April 27th, 2008
Antimony is an element (Sb):
Antinomy is also “two or more parallel sets of logical arguments that lead to contradictory conclusions, taken by Kant (1724-1804) as evidence that there are questions that rational discussion cannot answer.” from Dictionary of Mathematics, J.A.Glenn and G.H.Littler (Harper&Row) (510.321).
When there are contradictory conclusions, that goes well beyond mere ambiguity.
Predictably Irrational
Sunday, April 27th, 2008
The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely, (HarperCollins).
Dan reveals the predictable if irrational behavior of individuals, including such subjects as listed below (regrettably, any inaccuracy in the discussion is my interpretation and error). Even the author finds himself falling victim to the irrational behavior, even as he observes it happening, it is still at time not possible to alter your own actions. (This echoes Nassim Taleb’s observation in his book “Fooled by Randomness” where he says, it would be nice if your actions could be different, once you know how you can be fooled - he was not optimistic that this new knowledge would actually alter the reader’s behavior — “Delivering advice assumes that our cognitive apparatus rather than our emotional machinery exerts some meaningful control over our actions.” ). What a funny person.
Some of the main categories:
relative nature of value and perceived value (human beings assess value in relative terms, almost never in absolute terms)
the high cost of zero cost (free !) (the difference between “drop from two cents to one cent” and “drop from one cent to none” puts the latter in an entirely separate category of evaluation. It’s almost impossible to resist the idea of “free”
social norms vs market norms (people do things requiring great effort and time and expense, for free, which they will refuse to do if you offered to pay them ! unbelievable ? it’s true !)
social norms require cooperation to live in the village, and we do things for each other without payment
companies would like to establish loyalty of their employees, and try to establish the social relationship “we’re a big happy family !” but destroy that illusion by their behavior (your health care deductibles are $2000 higher this year).
once the social norm is converted to market norms, everything becomes a business transaction - want me to help with your rock wall? pay me $15/hr !
or we can just take care of each other’s pets without money changing hands, because it’s “neighborly”.
the cost (price?) of ownership
keeping options open is irresistable and costly
the need for uniqueness (don’t be last to order in the restaurant !!)
honesty and character (lots of stuff to cover, and uncover, about human behavior, if individuals are given opportunity to cheat…) - some people are simply not surprised to hear some of the results… has ongoing discussions
search youtube for “Dan Ariely” -
Chapter 1:
Chapter 4:
(it’s easier to just watch the video, no?)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

time warp
Sunday, April 13th, 2008
Just saw an ad for a Nissan Murano, the 2009 model. It’s only April 13.
p.443 American Gods Sunday, April 13th, 2008

“You got to understand the god thing. It’s not magic. It’s about being you, but the you that people believe in. It’s about being the concentrated, magnified, essence of you. It’s about becoming thunder, or the power of a running horse, or wisdom. You take all the belief and become bigger, cooler, more than human. You crystallize.” — Loki speaking to Shadow.

(and this appears on page 443, the same TCP port number for encrypted web browser traffic - this page deciphers / decrypts the essence of this book)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Muraco school mentor program -Friday, March 28th, 2008
‘They came in with open minds and they wanted to learn’
By Pamela Woo/Special to the Star
Mon Mar 24, 2008, 02:34 PM EDT
Winchester, MA - Touching the lives of children and being there as role models for them — this is what makes the Muraco community so strong.
Last Thursday, students at Muraco celebrated “An Evening of Sharing” that culminated Muraco’s Mentor Program. The program kicked off in January, when approximately 80 fourth and fifth-graders chose to be matched with mentors from diverse roles such as astronomer, clay sculptor, computer specialist, veterinarian, sports writer, figure skater, inventor, cartoonist, fire fighter, and reptile specialist.
The Muraco Mentor Committee, headed by Juli Riemenschneider, Susan Gill and myself, relied on previous years’ mentor volunteers, parents, teachers, and places within the local community to lend a helping hand.
The students met with their mentors over the course of approximately three sessions. In some cases, such as clay sculpting, fourth-graders Josh Ku and Alex Tham met with their mentor Bob Shure, who is a renowned clay sculptor, more than a dozen times at his studio Skylight Studios in Woburn.
Ku and Tham were thrilled to work in a real studio, but Shure was equally as enthused.
“This program gives mentors a new perspective, a fresh idea of what they’re doing. I loved doing it,” added Shure.
Patrick Gill, Isabella Costa and Jonathan Santoro traveled to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to meet with astronomers, Dr. Meredith Hughes and Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger. Hughes said that the children asked wonderful questions.
“I liked their curiosity about the subject,” Hughes said. “They came in with open minds and they wanted to learn.”
Fourth graders Ian Pylkkanen and Owen Ulicny wanted to sharpen their skills in baseball, and were matched with Brian Brazell, owner of Woburn’s Extra Innings.
“He taught me about the six points of hitting, and the lifestyle of playing baseball, such as eating healthy, getting sleep and thinking strong,” Ulicny said.
According to Brazell, “This was a fantastic program and good for the community. The kids asked great questions. I don’t remember being that smart as a fourth-grader.”
Rebecca Carazza, a Muraco mom and chemist, mentored fourth-graders John May and Jude Macannuco. A volunteer for the past three years, Carazza believes that it is great to make this program available to children as young as fourth grade.
“Others wait until college to figure out what they want to do. The exposure at such a young age is priceless,” she said.
This was the first time that Muraco students chose origami making, and the mother of 9-year-old Edward Tu was extremely pleased with the quality of the program.
Aside from teaching her son how to fold origami, Winchester resident, Shukong Ou, took her son to an Origami exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. According to Ou, “This is a continuous mutual learning environment — every time I teach the kids something, they come back and show me some things that are pretty amazing, that I never thought about myself.”
Muraco fourth grade teachers Kim Burke and Jan Serieka came to observe the creative displays and presentations of their students.
Serieka added, “It is just the absolute best hands-on learning experience. It’s authentic, it’s their own choice, and this really brings the community together.”
Taking the honors for best dressed during the evening were fourth-graders Emma Kapp, Mikayla Gibbons, and Kai-Kai MacLean. With the help of mentor Marney Grimes, the students proudly wore their own hand-made creative outfits. Grimes also helps create the costumes each year for the Winchester Cooperative Theatre, and is a great testament to the fact that mentors volunteer during their busy schedules. Gibbons, 10, said that the best part of the program was that “[Grimes] was really so nice and supportive.”
“We have been quite lucky that we live in a place that has such exceptional people who are willing to encourage a child,” Riemenschneider said.
The Evening of Sharing was a great celebration and a wonderful tribute to the importance of encouraging and supporting the children in our community. What was so special about the evening was that the experiences were so positive, a mutually rewarding experience for both the mentors and the students.
Editor’s Note: Pamela Woo, of Churchill Circle, is in charge of publicity for the Muraco School and a member of the Muraco Mentor Committee.
mit origamiFriday, March 28th, 2008

Video: Watch an Origami Master at Work MIT takes origami to a high art, blending the ancient Japanese paper-folding tradition with scientific principles and mathematical dazzle. Watch videos of origami master Brian Chan ‘02, SM ‘04 making the Mens et Manus figures and a brass rat ring and see this year’s student origami contest results.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

“A Whole New Mind” Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the FutureWednesday, March 5th, 2008
“A Whole New Mind” Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Futureby Daniel H. Pink

stuff to see


stuff to do
1. say thank you
2. do the 20/10 test (ask me!)
Two Tests Across Your Soul Body Connection
Empathy quotient
Systemizing quotient
Reading the mind in the eyes (see Paul Ekman http://www.emotionalintelligence.mhs.commsceit.htm/
5. replace “but” with “and”6. take a Sabbath7. walk a labyrinth - find one at
8. dedicate your work

1. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Paperback) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author)
2. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (Hardcover) by Dalai Lama (Author), Howard C. Cutler (Author)
3. Man’s Search for Meaning (Paperback) by Viktor E. Frankl (Author)
4. substance, structure, style, and principles of screenwriting, Robert McKee (tell a STORY)
5. Beyond bullet points: Cliff Atkinson

Sunday, March 02, 2008

the Falkirk Wheel
Sunday, March 2nd, 2008
Those Scots are clever, aren’t they. Falkirk Wheel - see the powerpoint slide show, it’s better than the official site at

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feb 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dick Gillis’ Apple Cake
Saturday, February 23rd, 2008
Peel and slice three large apples, and set aside.
2 tsps cinnamon
5 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In large bowl, put:
3 cups unsifted all purpose flour (Dick says use 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)
3 tsp baking poder
2 cups sugar
1 cup Wesson (or salad) oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice
2 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat together till smooth, Batter is stiff and thick.
Grease and flour 10 in tube pan
Put in 1/2 the batter, then 1/2 the apples
Cover with 1/2 connamon-sugar mixture
Repeat with the rest of the ingredients

Bake at 375 degF for 1 hour and 15 minutes
stuffed mushrooms
Saturday, February 23rd, 2008
2 lb mushrooms
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup bleu cheese
2 tbsp minced onions
1/2 cup minced mushroom stems
6 tbsp butter
remove stems from mushrooms

fry 1/2 the mushrooms in butter about 5 minutes

remove and cook the remaining mushrooms with the remaining 3 tbsp buttermix the onion, bleu cheese, chopped stems and cream cheese

stuff the mushroomsbake @ 350 deg F until golden brown, about 20-30 min
City of God - E.L.Doctorow
Saturday, February 23rd, 2008
page 39: — There are no science songs to speak of. No song tells you the force of gravity is a product of the masses of two objects divided by the ratio of the distance between them. Yet science teaches us something about song: Scientific formulas describe the laws by which the universe operates and suggest in equations that a balance is possible even when things are in apparent imbalance. So do songs. … And when a song is good, a standard, we recognize it as expressing a truth. Like a formula, it can apply to everyone, not just the singer.

page 69: Burkert, perhaps our pre-eminent scholar of ancient religions — do you know his work? He investigates the origins of the sacred, itself a heretical pursuit. He gives us the picture of the lizard who leaves his tail in the mouth of the predator. The fox who chews off his foot to escape the trap. You ask what that has to do with God. In that programmed biological response is the idea of the sacrifice. You give up a part to save the whole. Ancient myths abound in which human beings flee monsters and escape by sacrificing pieces of themselves to divert or slow down the pursuit. Orestes gives up a finger, and so does Odysseus. Finger sacrifice was very big in ancient Greece. But for the most part, over time the sacrifices have been ritualized, symbolized. You no longer mutilate yourself, you leave a ring on the altar in lieu of your finger. You slaughter a lamb. You leave a scapegoat in the desert. But when the fate of a community is involved, one man is chosen to jump into the abyss so that it will not swallow the community. One virgin is given to the bottomless lake. One person on the sled is thrown to the pursuing wolves. Jonah is thrown into the sea to save the ship and its crew. And just as the herd grazes in safety for a time after the lions cut one of them out and devour him, so does humanity feel safer from the nameless formless terrors if one of their number is sacrificed if for the sake of all one must pay as the part for the whole, as the fox’s foot is left in the trap.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

yet another scam

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008

mesh networking, anyone ?
Friday, January 4th, 2008

microsoft in 2005 already had some research on meshes:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some days you are the shark

Then some days you’re in the little boat.