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Quick-Hitting Thoughts

The Goal:  See a lot in a short period of time

 

Restaurant Impossible

 

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Restaurant Impossible is a great TV series.  It shows how a restaurant can be turned around in one weekend with little money.

The Show

 

Miracle Workout

 

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Is it possible to work out for 20 seconds (3 times a day) and be in great shape?

"But can one minute total three times a week really lead to remarkable medical changes? The good doctor (Michael Mosley) suggests it's an aerobic fountain of youth, a shortcut to getting maximum benefits with minimum work.

What's the key to high intensity?

This regime, doing short bursts of intense, seems to be much more effective not only for losing weight but also for improving your insulin sensitivity.  Mosley's controversial take points to a growing body of science which suggests it's the stress and intensity of exercise, not the duration that's beneficial.

ABC News

 

 

Tanaka and Pitching

 

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The great Japanese pitcher Tanaka is doing remarkable with the Yankees.  While most aspiring pitchers train to throw hard, he trained to throw accurately.

 

Napa Valley

 

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Robert Mondavi saw Napa Valley and realized:

Napa Valley ≠ Napa Valley.

The geography and soil are such that there are really hundreds of different plots of land, if you look.

"To Kalon"! (Greek for "With Excellence)

 

 

Apollo 13

 

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Many Clouds are not Clouds

An explosion aboard Apollo 13.  The spacecraft is damaged.  "How do we get our people home?"

"Turn them around / direct abort"

vs.

"Free return trajectory / slingshot them around the moon".

 

Complexity Theory and Environmental Management

 

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Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy

Washington DC

November 6, 2005

 

Now, if we are to do better in this new century, what must we do differently? In a word, we must embrace complexity theory. We must understand complex systems.

We live in a world of complex systems. The environment is a complex system. The government is a complex system. Financial markets are complex systems. The human mind is a complex system---most minds, at least.

By a complex system I mean one in which the elements of the system interact among themselves, such that any modification we make to the system will produce results that we cannot predict in advance.

Furthermore, a complex system demonstrates sensitivity to initial conditions. You can get one result on one day, but the identical interaction the next day may yield a different result. We cannot know with certainty how the system will respond.

Third, when we interact with a complex system, we may provoke downstream consequences that emerge weeks or even years later. We must always be watchful for delayed and untoward consequences.

The science that underlies our understanding of complex systems is now thirty years old. A third of a century should be plenty of time for this knowledge and to filter down to everyday consciousness, but except for slogans—like the butterfly flapping its wings and causing a hurricane halfway around the world—not much has penetrated ordinary human thinking.

 

 

The Great Escape

An Air Raid - A Botched Opportunity

there's no catching up

 

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The Tunnel King (Charles Bronson) gets claustrophobic during the tunnel escape, just as the air raid sirens go off ... there's room in the tunnel for one, and he's not going.

"There's been an air raid and they've cut the lights. Come on, fellas. Move! Move! We can get dozens out in this darkness.  What the hell's going on?"

 

 

A Top Prospect

Dr. Deming and the NFL Combine

 

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"Manziel's 'magic' worth risk, Gruden says".  College prospects show up at the combine, showing off their speed, strength, jumping ability, height and weight, etc., trying to impress NFL scouts how good they are.  What about what's actually happened during the year?  Their career?  Isn't this valuable information?  How about WINNING?  Manziel is a winner.  Where does that show up in the combine statistics?  It doesn't.  Dr. Deming said it wouldn't.

Some of the most important things in a system cannot be measured - nonetheless, they must be managed.

 

 

 

Avalanche

A Favorite Game of Mine Growing Up

 

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A dropped marble may or may not open subsequent gates  A great game ...

 

 

Calumet "K"

The First TOC-Book for Managers (written in 1901)

 

multi-tasking

there's no catching up

 

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At Amazon:  Free on Kindle or $1.27 Used

"The essence of the story is Bannon's ingenuity in solving unexpected problems and smashing through sudden obstacles, his self-confident resourcefulness, his inexhaustible energy, his dedication.  He is a man who takes nothing for granted, who things long-range, who assume responsibility as a matter of course, as a way of life, knowing that there is no such thing as "luck" and if things are to be done, he has to do them."

Ayn Rand

Introduction to Calumet "K"

 

 

 

At a Stoplight

 

multi-tasking

there's no catching up

 

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Sitting beside a car waiting to turn left at the stoplight, I can see the driver digging through his briefcase.  "Might as well make good use of my time", I'm sure he's saying.  Except ... the light turns green and there he is, "getting something done".  Five seconds pass.  A honk from behind.  He looks up, startled, and goes.  He makes it through as the light turns yellow.  Two more make it, one illegally.  He's on his merry way.  And the system?  Throughput lost - and impossible to recover.  A danger of multi-tasking.

 

 

Napoleon's March on Moscow

What Really Happened?

 

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This graphic describes Napoleon's March on Moscow in 1812.  Is Edward Tufte right when he said, in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,  this is “The best statistical graphic ever drawn“The best?  What is it? 

 

 

 

The TOC-Dice Game

A Simple Little Idea - Stirring About

 

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A few hours earlier, Alex Rogo did not think "Statistical Fluctuations and Dependent Events" were the cause of his company's problems.  A few hours later, he had taken the example of the trail walk, created an interactve game with dice and matchsticks, and proven to himself these concepts lie at the heart of his failing company.

What happened?

 

 

(Incidentally, there's an error in the Table on Page 111)

 

 

 

 

The Challenger Disaster

It Didn't Have to Happen

 

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This video is chilling because we're watching it now knowing what we know.  The explosion wasn't thought abnormal - why would one think anything abnormal happened. 

 

"We're looking very carefully at the situation ... obviously a major malfunction" is the first hint something has gone horribly wrong."

 

We know what happened now.  We know there was pressure to launch.  It was cold that day in January, 1986.  Engineers pleaded not to launch.  They had more than hunches.  They had data!

But NASA still launched.

Why?

 

 

When the Levee Broke

 

When a System's Integrity is Compromised

 

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These images would be funny if the issue wasn't so serious.  This is what I remember about the New Orleans' levee breach during Katrina in 2005:

 

photo source

The Massive Sand-Bag

 

The Massive Sand-Bag Disappears Under the Water

 

Zooming Out Reveals the Size of the Breach

 

Absurd.

 

 


 

 

The Cognition-Core-Hypothesis

 

Douglas Hofstadter

Analogy as the Core of Cognition

 

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Ray Bradbury

 

Some Thoughts on Writing - and Living

 

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"Stuff your head with stories, metaphors, poetry, Shakespeare, science, psychology, philosophy.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.”

“I am a metaphor machine.  Collect metaphors!"

 

The Bezier Curve

A Simple Little Idea

 

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Can you describe this shape perfectly in five seconds?

 

 

 

This shape is the result of an algorithm applied to these three points:

 

 

 

How?  This was the genius of Pierre Bezier, who used this device in the automobile industry, and it's now used many other places, including the font of the type I'm typing now!

 

 

(image from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

The Rainbow

A Ridiculous Assumption

 

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Red was out for a walk.  Being tall, he takes relatively large steps.  Here's three such steps:

 

 

 

Blue asked to come along.  Being shorter, his steps were comparatively shorter.  Here's three such steps:

 

 

To keep up with Red, Blue knew he'd have to walk three times as fast as he usually does:

 

 

Blue and Red were now able to walk and talk.

 

 

WAIT A MINUTE

People may be able to change their behavior to "keep up", but what about light?  "Blue has a higher frequency because its wavelength is shorter".  Nonsense.  But what is going on?

 

 

 

 

Communication Systems

Biological and Technological

 

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Georgian woman who cut off web access to all of Armenia

Do you remember this recent story:

"An elderly Georgian woman was scavenging for copper to sell as scrap when she accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off internet services to all of neighbouring Armenia, it emerged on Wednesday.

The woman, 75, had been digging for the metal not far from the capital Tbilisi when her spade damaged the fibre-optic cable on 28 March."

 

This, in itself, is an amazing story.

Communications were down for five hours.  That's more amazing, to me, which leads to a frustrating thought.

Billions of bits of information pass through these lines continuously.  They're severed.  A repairman comes to the scene, and very quickly the flow of data is returned.

 

 

THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AS A COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

Our nervous system is a "communication system", yet when there's a spinal cord injury, the victim is immediately declared paralyzed - for life. And there are millions of victims.

 

"According to a study initiated by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, there are nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis -- approximately 6 million people."

 

There's a solution out there, and it's not too far off.

 

 

 

 

Eratosthenes

Exposure

 

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Close - but I think this video misses the most important part.  Eratosthenes wasn't at Syene - he was at Alexandria - and came across the bit of information,

 

"On the solstice, if you look down a well at Syene, you can see the bottom."

 

IS THIS RIGHT?

 

 

Two things are missing from the video - and these two things hold the key to creativity!

 

 

 

 

A Remarkable Bridge

Engineering with Ingenuity

 

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My Garage Door Won't Shut

 

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A Bank Deposit

It Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease

 

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The Key Won't Unlock My Door

A Literal BackDoor

 

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Water Flow

Balance Flow - Not Capacity

 

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What's the Problem?

A Powerful Scene from Moneyball

 

 

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Peter Brand:

Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn't be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You're trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who's worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is... is... an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy's got a great glove. He's a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions.

 

 

 

 

The Suzuki Method

"All Japanese Children Speak Japanese easily."

 

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"I was overwhelmed by the fact all Japanese children speak Japanese easily".

 

This simple thought was the genesis of the Suzuki Method.  "I firmly believe that any child can become superior." He's right. 

Shinichi Suzuki

 

 

 

The "Yes Session"

Chuck Jones and Creativity

 

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Steven Spielberg called One Froggy Evening "the Citizen Kane of animated film."  It was voted #5 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. (wikipedia)

It's easy to watch cartoons like this and take for granted the question, "What makes a good cartoon? How does the person come up with such ideas?" Indeed, is creativity like this innate, or accessible to all of us?

At Warner Brothers, after agreeing on a basic story line, Chuck Jones said a meeting - a story session - would be called, attended by three directors, three writers, the production chief, and the producer. This was "The Jam Session".

 

 

 

HELLO MY BABY

 

Hello, my baby,

Hello, my honey,

Hello, my ragtime gal!

Send me a kiss by wire;

Baby my heart's on fire!

 

If you refuse me,

Honey, you'll lose me,

Then you'll be left alone;

Oh, baby, telephone,

And tell me I'm your own.

 

 

A Remarkable Violin

The Stradivarius

 

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The Stradivarius Festival

An amazing thing about the Stradivarius is we still do not know why they sound so good ...

 

 

A "Flow" Experience

 

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Tiny Miracles of Beauty

 

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The Mandelbrot Set

 

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Paul Pena

 

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BUCKMINSTER FULLER and MARIA MONTESSORI

 

Philosophical Patriots

 

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2001: A Space Odyssey

 

Arthur C. Clarke and Inception

 

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THE DAWN OF MAN

 

 

Alone at a Red Light

And Something Isn't Right!

 

The Optimization Anomaly

 

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I sat at a red light tonight forever.  No cross traffic.  As traffic finally approached, the default "wait-time" must have hit, and I got my green light.  My green light, of course, gave them a red light. 

All of this was unnecessary, of course.

But this anomaly was the result of an "optimization" plan.  Where did they go wrong?

 

 

 

 

Richard Feynman

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

 

The Danger of Multi-Tasking

 

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About 38:00 in ...

“To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time…it needs a lot of concentration…if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, ‘no,’ I tell them: I’m irresponsible.”

 

 

Richard Bach

The Nature of Inventions

 

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Galloping Gertie

Learning from Failure Doesn't Require Failure

 

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Empty Shelves

 

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A Twister

The Fallacy of the Broken Window

 

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The Red Bead Experiment

 

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The Donner Party

Yes - That Donner Party

 

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Wines

How Do You Produce the Best Grapes

 

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Black Holes

 

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"How Stuff Works"

 

Though physicists have been studying black holes since they were posited, two interesting items appeared earlier this year:

 

Black holes do not exist.

We're in a black hole

 

 

Incredible Math Shapes

 

The Klein Surface (Bottle)

 

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Manifold Atlas Project

More at "Impossible World"

 

The Road Less Traveled

 

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Without Edward Thomas, likely we never would have heard of Robert Frost.  And this poem was likely the tipping point that sent Thomas off to War - and death - Easter, 1917.

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by" has nothing to do with the spirit of adventure, risk, and spontaneity.

 

 

 

The Monuments Men

 

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Before "The Monuments Men" there was "The Train".

 

   

 

And beneath both was, according to "The Monuments Men" author Robert Edsel, "The greatest heroine of World War II ... Rose Valland". 

Every word contains messages - intentional or not.  Calling the movie "The Monuments Men" paints the intellectual and historical landscape incorrectly.

 

 

 

 

 

A Candle on My Countertop

 

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Steel

 

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The Double Slit Experiment

 

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The Federal Reserve System

 

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Valkyrie

 

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The Dust Bowl

 

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Cell Phones and GPS

 

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