Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OMG - Multi-Threading is so way easier than Networking


So I saw this hilarious link off of metafilter.com. Here is an internal INTEL white paper literally titled "OMG, Multi-Threading is Easier Than Networking"

Swine Flu Redux from 1976

Here is a Wired Magazine Article on the March 24, 1976 Swine Flu. 30 people die due to the risk of the Vaccinations... but then again... we also didn't get PWN3D by a epic pandemic back then.... I think they should rename it MAN-Bear-Pig flu.... since it's kind of a Chimera duck/pig/human virus...

Update: Apparently my friend Brett's co-worker's dad had the Swine Flu back in 1976... scary

4 Evolutionary Relevant Modules for Behavior


These modules were articulated by Gad Saad in his book I've covered before "The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption"

I decided bust out my epic skills to wax like Michelangelo onto a canvas of Inkscape.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The evolutionary basis of Leadership

I was thinking over beers yesterday about the idea that we are hard wired to either lead or follow. Why is it that we care that someone is charismatic, why do we care if someone has guts...? why do people with these attributes emit a 'Social Gravity' per se?
It is one thing to state that most leaders appear to have dominance and charisma... but that is a proximate explanation, noticing that A then B. The interesting question... is what are the 'possible' reasons WHY we are slaves to this 'Social Gravity'. So then I found this interesting paper on the University of Kent's website titled "Leadership, Followship, and Evolution". The articulation is good and I think the arguments are interesting. I've noticed that a lot of things in Business such as Leadership and Organizational Design follow a correlation schema of finding people who are effective and then teasing out the visible attributes that we can dis-aggregate out. This is informational but we still have a hard time finding the real causal linkage. This sort of approach seems to have some merit in the future. If you can understand the ultimate reasons behind some of our behaviors, you can more surgically identify what actually matters more in many cases.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Snakes On a MutherFarking Plane


I saw Joe S. post a link to this thing on Facebook... yesterday... here is a link to the ABC article.... REAL SNAKES ON A MUTHERFARKING PLANE No commentary needed... this is too awesome on it's own

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Naive Realism and why your dog might not like icecream











So I found this interesting paper titled Naive Realism That is hosted on Stanford's Law website found here.

It discusses the interesting and relevant phenom of so called 'Naive Realism' or to put concisely our presumption that
'we see the world as it REALLY is',
'that other rational, reasonable people will share both my experiences and responses',
'that if an individual does not share my views that he/she (a) has been exposed to different information than I have (b) is lazy, dumb, irrational, or unwilling to process my rational and objective evidence and arguments (c) is biased by self interest or ideology'.


This paper uses the term construal exclusively but I personally might use the term 'frame of reference' instead.

This assertion that as humans we have a strong tendency towards 'naive realism' seems a bit obvious if you consider how many times you have argued with a friend or otherwise intelligent person, yet they seem to be ignoring the objective facts you are presenting. The first thought is that facts alone do not stand by themselves... this is true for science and this is true for advertising... in an ideal world this would work, but even in an ideal world... if you throw in the idea that perception is relative... even that breaks the bank.

This of course poses some interesting problems in our social world as well as in political and negotiation scenarios. An interesting finding from cognitive science has been that when you have a entrenched position, your brain actually 'automagically' discounts information that is not congruent with your entrenched position. Aka... your brain basically filters it out for you. This phenom is not discussed in the paper but I learned of it in a class I took on Consumer Behavior... or... how to sell people Dog Ice cream =) A hilarious tidbit from the paper is the fact that, given the same set of 'neutral' information, partisan sides will absorb this information and increase the polarization. Again facts do not stand on their own.

This all probably seems terribly obvious to a lot of you, but I thought I would share since it's articulated pretty well in this paper.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Black Swan Resistance +10

From a financial times article - taleb with some interesting advice I will say... some of his quips are pretty funny....

That being said... I think that anytime you talk about system optimization whether it is a pencil factory or an economic system, you have to note that the flip side of optimization is fragility in a lot of cases.. Thus from operations... if you are running full tilt, you don't have any slack capacity to say...swap over to green pencils even if there is a unusual surge in demand... This is similar to microprocessor architecture where you have a 20+ stage pipeline... and get a branch mis-prediction.... you have to dump the whole pipeline and start over.... Just in time manufacturing is great until you don't have something 'just in time'... =p

From the Financial Times article 10 Principles for a Black Swan-proofworld

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small . Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks - and hence the most fragile - become the biggest.

2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains . Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and risk-bearing. We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism. In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.

3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus . The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.

4. Do not let someone making an "incentive" bonus manage a nuclear plant - or your financial risks . Odds are he would cut every corner on safety to show "profits" while claiming to be "conservative". Bonuses do not accommodate the hidden risks of blow-ups. It is the asymmetry of the bonus system that got us here. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards.

5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity . Complexity from globalisation and highly networked economic life needs to be countered by simplicity in financial products. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency. Such systems survive thanks to slack and redundancy; adding debt produces wild and dangerous gyrations and leaves no room for error. Capitalism cannot avoid fads and bubbles: equity bubbles (as in 2000) have proved to be mild; debt bubbles are vicious.

6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning . Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them "hedging" products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to "restore confidence". Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains . Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. The debt crisis is not a temporary problem, it is a structural one. We need rehab.

9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible "expert" advice for their retirement . Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as storehouses of value: they do not harbour the certainties that normal citizens require.Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control).

10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs . Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the "Nobel" in economics, banning leveraged buy-outs, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties.

Ghost Arm


So I saw this creepy yet cool blog post on boingboing.net about a woman that has an imaginary 3rd arm that she can apparently SEE and scratch itches... the CRAZY part is that they did an MRI and apparently her brain is reacting as if she actually see and move her 3rd arm..... Oh yeah her imaginary arm cannot penetrate solid objects...

This really throws a monkey wrench in defining reality is....

As an aside.... if we ever make giant robots... this would be a good technology to have. Basically you could control the limbs of the robot by adding virtual arms and legs to your brain. That way you can punch a giant beetle in the face with your robot arm... while you are raising your fist in victory with your real arm. =-)

From the original article
Khateb and his colleagues examined the patient's brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a tool that allows doctors to see whether the brain is truly stimulated, and to pinpoint where. In this case, the investigations revealed that the woman actually experienced what she described.

Researchers instructed the woman to move her right hand. As expected, the motor cortex and visual processing areas in the left side of her brain became mobilised.

The same effects were observed to a lesser extent when the woman simply imagined moving her right hand. Imaginary movements of the woman's paralysed left hand prompted the same activity in the brain, but on the right side.

But when doctors asked her to move her phantom arm, her brain reacted as though the arm really existed and could be moved. In addition, the patient's visual cortex was also activated, indicating the she actually saw the imaginary limb.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Skynet 1.0 - Modified Virus builds a BATTERY


Apparently researchers have modified a virus to self assemble into a battery. MIT researcher Angela Belcher and her colleagues manipulated the genes of a harmless virus so that the bug coats itself in tiny iron phosphate particles and connects to highly-conductive carbon nanotubes.
This sounds like the predecessor of the Liquid Type Terminator to me =p. Go Skynet!
Check this post out here on BoingBoing.net.

Video Twitter

So I was in a meeting yesterday and we were talking about twitter.... then I was joking about 'watch the next big thing will be video twitter 5 second video 'veeps' or something like that' Then I found this... apparently video twitter is around the corner in the form of 12seconds.tv

Some people think that Seesmic is the video Twitter. They are wrong (even if they are investors in the company—Mike). The real video Twitter is 12seconds.tv. On Twitter, you have 140 characters to make your point. On 12seconds.tv, you have, well, 12 seconds. (On Seesmic, you can drone on forever or for 10 minutes, whichever comes first). We have 500 invites for the alpha launch.

Adam Smith the Original Behavioral Economist - revisit

It appears that today, Behavioral economics is experiencing a new surge in popularity given the lack of confidence resulting from the current crisis. Here is an interesting paper from The Journal of Economic Perspectives titled Adam Smith, Behavioral Economist This is quite interesting because it discusses some of the behavioral lessons noted by Adam Smith in his work the Theory of Moral Sentiments and notes their persistent relevance throughout time. In a cut it discusses such things as the fact that modern brain imaging has found that we process both gain and loss in two different regions of the brain. Thus it perhaps is not so far fetched to think that we evaluate loss and gain differently. Thus Smith understood that humans are impulsive, irrational, and altruistic at times as well as rational. The irony is that this is epic-ly obvious to most any normal person. Thus the historical approach seems to be more holistic and heuristic than coldly deterministic. My humble metaphor to this situation is that, it seems that when you evaluate an agents behavior, it is not wrong to assume that he will maximize his utility... I just think that the scope or 'lens' with which you gaze upon him needs to be appropriate. The traditional lens appears to be in terms of monetary gain or other solitary lever.
It seems you should view the utility maximization from a differential point of view with multiple lenses. An additional set of lenses should include an Evolutionary framework as well. Lenses that focus on the evolutionary modules such as mating, survival, and reciprocity would be helpful I think. Gad Saad discusses the idea of using an Evolutionary Framework for Consumption analysis in his book 'The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption.' It is quite good and I would recommend it, although I'm not all the way through it yet.

An Aside on human behavior as related to running a business:

An interesting tidbit, research states that for every bad piece of news from a 3rd party trusted source, a company must at least receive 3 pieces of good news from a 3rd party trusted source to counterbalance the negative effect. Added to that any news and findings generated by the company itself are automatically discounted by 50%. Notice the asymmetry in human behavior related to information processing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Combo Breaker - He's the Evite Master and WTF Blanket


Matt G tossed this one my way...

David P sent this other one...

I'm in your computer lolzing your soul away =)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Totally Sweet Butterfly Knif.... er.. PEN


So I saw this on thinkgeek and immediately purchased one.... It is a Butterfly Knife Space Pen.. This sucker can apparently write upside down while in space at freezing temperatures... This brings back memories... well except this one can't cut your finger off... =p

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Red Pill MBA

For me at least...entering an MBA program was like taking the Red Pill and beginning to see the Matrix....It starts as a glitch... then it begins to unravel like presents on Christmas morning.. This is a pretty common epiphany many of us have had... There is a huge difference between having an inkling of how something works, and actually taking a look under the hood.

This is kind of cool - Barack Obama Twitter Action


This is kind of cool, if you add Barack he will follow you... pretty neat if you ever want to do a @barackobama reply to =p

Friday, April 3, 2009

CEO Tweets like Whoa!



So my friend Audrey-Walker-Texas-Ranger told me about Zappos Ceo (Tony Hsieh's) epic twitter action... this kind of made me wonder what other Execs actually use this mode of communication... So then I stumbled upon this BusinessWeek article discussing the topic of CEO's who use twitter. This would provide insight into what they actually do on a day to day basis. Most employees have no idea what anyone does above their immediate manager.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

BOK BOK! Chicken Mathematics


So apparently baby chickens can count.... check this article/video from the BBC

From the article
"In a further experiment, once we had hidden the balls behind each screen, we transferred some of them from one to the other," Professor Regolin explained.

The birds, she said, were able to "count" the balls that were moved to work out which screen hid the larger set at the end of the transfer.

"They still chose correctly - adding up the numbers based on groups of objects they couldn't see at that moment."

It is already known that many non-human primates and monkeys can count, and even domestic dogs have been found to be capable of simple additions.

But this is the first time the ability has been seen in such young animals, and with no prior training. "

This Is What I Call a Front Yard...



My friend Tim G sent me this Totally Insane Google Street View that his coworkers forwarded to him

So check this out apparently it is some sort of business perhaps?

Yes that is a giant pyramid and giant statue dude in someones front yard.... Here are some other insane houses.... found on thisoldhouse.com

I totally want a giant pyramid in my front yard....