Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Until I met one

I looked down on Black people.  Until I met one.
I made fun of Mexicans.  Until I met one.
I was afraid of Russians.  Until I met one.
I laughed at the Polish.  Until I met one.
I thought Iranians were crazy.  Until I met one.
I thought Jews were weird.  Until I met one.
I thought Muslims were scary.  Until I met one.
I really hate your kind of people...
You know what to do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Are You a Croaker?

Ever since I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I've tried NOT to be a "croaker".  I've given up on trying to predict the future.  Instead, I think that today is the best time in history to be alive and I feel good about the future.  Tough times come and go, but if you sit and wait for the worst, you might miss out on prosperity.

Here's an example from over 200 years ago.  
There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a one then lived in Philadelphia-a person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious, for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began his croaking.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump

noun 

  1. (in bridge, whist, and similar card games) a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led. 
  2. a valuable resource that may be used, especially as a surprise, in order to gain an advantage. 


It's ironic that our new president's name is Trump, "a suit chosen to rank above the others" and "may be used, especially as a surprise".

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Marshmallow Test Debunked

I'm sure you've heard of the marshmallow test from the 1960's - children are told by a researcher "You can have one marshmallow now or if you wait until I come back, you can have two marshmallows".  The children that delayed gratification proved to be more successful in later life and less likely to succumb to problems such as drugs, teen pregnancy, etc.  The conclusion:

WILL POWER = SUCCESS

Recently (2012), this formula was questioned by researchers at the University of Rochester.  They modified the marshmallow test.  First, kids were put in a room with art supplies.  The children were told by an adult "I'm going to get better supplies.  Wait until I get back".  The kids were split into two groups:

  1. The adult came back with better art supplies
  2. The adult came back with a lame excuse and no better art supplies
The children were then given the marshmallow test.  The results were that the kids with the reliable environment were significantly more likely to wait to get two marshmallows.  The conclusion:

RELIABLE ENVIRONMENT = WILL POWER

and the corollary would be:

RELIABLE ENVIRONMENT = SUCCESS

So if we want our next generation to be successful, we need to create an environment where they believe that any sacrifice or effort they make will be worth it.  This is a good message for parents.  It is also a good message for policy makers that want to help our communities that can't seem to rise above poverty.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Filing System for Your Memory

In "Algorithms to Live By", by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, they relate the Noguchi Filing System to how we store and retrieve memories.

The Noguchi filing system is very simple.  Keep a box of files.  Add all files to the left side of the box, even if it is a file that you just pulled out.  Search for all files starting from the left.  The result is that all of the most commonly accessed files are kept on the left side of the box and are therefore found more quickly.

How does this relate to memory?  Research shows that your memory fades over time.  This usually is thought to be due to our imperfect brains while it might actually be due to newer memories "pushing" older memories to the right in our Noguchi Filing System box.

What's the trick for remembering something?  Pull it out and put it back on the left side.  

- Do you want to remember important information?  Then make it something you "look at" regularly.
- Do you want to remember meaningless drivel?  If not, then stop adding it to your file.

For me, I make sure to get a daily dose of scripture.

Final Thought:

Is it possible when we meditate we stop adding new files and give God a chance to sort our memories in an order that is better than the order that results from our random meandering through information?


Monday, August 15, 2016

New Favorite

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

When I think about this passage, I think about all of the complex laws, rules and regulations.  I think about man's interpretations of God's desires.  I realize that I need to look at everyone through God's eyes; with love.  It's surprisingly easy since the alternative is painful.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Who's In Charge?

[I heard this from a friend and I'm leaving out details to avoid getting anyone in trouble]

A talented surgeon announced that he was leaving the military hospital where he worked.  The top brass at the hospital, not wanting to lose someone indispensable, asked "Is there anything I can do to convince you to stay?"  

The surgeon replied quickly, "Yes.  Give me my own parking place and a secretary."  (I was surprised to hear what little it would take to keep him there).  After looking into it, the top brass found that they were unable to provide these simple demands.  The surgeon left.

What prompted this request was the surgeon rushing to the hospital to perform an emergency surgery.  He was unable to find a parking spot so he parked illegally and left a note on his car "Had to rush to surgery".  His car had been towed away when he came back.

Couldn't the person in charge have come up with a clever solution, like valet parking?  If the person in charge of the hospital is not empowered to solve a simple parking problem, then who is in charge?  
The truth is that no one is in charge.  Instead, a collection of disconnected bureaucratic rules are "in charge".  The result in a situation like this is that talented people are repelled by the bureaucratic stupidity.