Thursday, October 29, 2009


Blink is the 3rd book I've read that was written by Malcolm Gladwell (The others were Outliers and Tipping Point).

It was another interesting viewpoint on the world by Malcolm. This book talks about how our first impressions can be very powerful. The example that stood out to me was a Greek Statue purchased by the J. Paul Getty museum. It was in incredible shape, so they had scientists examine it and attorneys follow the paper trail to verify its authenticity. When an antiquities expert saw it (unfortunately after it was purchased), he immediately knew it was a fake. He couldn't put his finger on it, he just knew it (and ended up being right).

Blink also presents examples of how this instinct can be clouded. For example, by asking well chosen questions, researchers can change the behavior of their research subjects. My personal example of this was when my tennis partner asked if I breathe in or out when I serve the ball. My next serve was disastrous. The wrong part of my mind was engaged and upset the delicate balance of mind and body.

Now to tie this into politics. Many Americans are having "Blink" like experiences with the changes going on. They know out of control spending can only lead to trouble. We really should be paying attention to these "Blinkers", especially our senior citizens.

Also, politicians and other power brokers know that a careful presentation of their agendas can cloud the "Blink" instincts. The result is that many people are sucked into their propaganda and support their campaigns.

I recommend reading Blink.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cool Robot!

This is a pretty cool robot. Very innovative!

Think Stretch Armstrong with a brain.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best Healthcare Solution I've Heard of

Whole Foods market is using risk management and free market principles to cut health care costs. In risk management, you allocate resources based on the probability of something bad happening and the impact or severity of the consequences if it happens.

For example:

Cancer is low probability, high impact.
The common cold is high probability, low impact.

High deductibles basically cover the first (Cancer) and make you pay for the second (common cold).

Low deductibles basically cover both, but make you pay for it up front in higher premiums.

Therefore, every time someone gets health care and says to themselves, "Go ahead and do X, my insurance will pay for it", what they are really saying is "Go ahead and do X, all the people with low deductibles already paid for it". This increases demand and results in higher costs.

Additionally, when you use your insurance, health care costs more because the insurance company charges additional fees.

The best deal is high deductible insurance: you're not paying the insurance company for your low risk care AND you're not paying for all the frivolous low risk care that everyone else is getting.

Whole Foods' approach is to have a high deductible ($2500), which greatly reduces cost, and then put the savings in an individual employees account which they manage themselves.

The employees then decide how best to use the limited resources of their spending account using free market principles.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama, the Prince of Peace?

Yesterday I watched an interesting video by Andrew Klavan on "Is Barack Obama Jesus Christ?". At first I thought it would sacrilegious, but I ended up entertained.

Here's my version of the points he made of how Obama and Jesus are the same.

Associating with undesirables

  • Jesus associated with "publicans and sinners", or basically "undesirable" people.
  • Obama associated with "undesirable" people as well: Reverend Right and Bill Aires.

Free Healthcare

  • Jesus promoted free health care by healing the sick.
  • Obama is also for free health care, he just wants to raise taxes to pay for it.

A Debt that can't be repaid

  • We all are in debt to Jesus, as he paid for our sins and there is no way for us to repay him.
  • Obama is creating such a huge debt that there is no we can pay for it.

Predictions of the Prince of Peace

Andrew Klavan missed one, since the news only came out today about Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Before Jesus was even born, there were prophecies of him coming as the prince of peace.
  • Before Obama even did anything, he was given the Nobel Peace Prize.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Christmas Wish - To be a Jedi

I found something for my Christmas list. I have to say I was shocked since I thought that Jedi skills were pure science fiction. I've heard of researchers developing technology to help disabled people use their minds to control computer cursors, etc., but I never expected this technology to be available as a game.Click Here.

These games are actually very simple. How much you concentrate moves a ball in one dimension (up or down). I immediately imagined my future grandchildren wearing game controller "caps" to control complicated games. Seems far fetched? Here's a couple things to think about:
My grandmother couldn't figure out how to use a microwave oven. Now we use microwave ovens, computers, cell phones, MP3 players, etc. I can do most of these things better than my parents and my children are better at using some technology than I am.

My first computer game, Pong, had a controller that only controlled one dimension (You turned the joystick left and right). We loved it and would play for hours. Today's controllers are much more complicated and kid's are experts.

So will our children's children develop crazy mind control skills?


Sunday, October 4, 2009

10,000 Hours

I have been a little bit busy lately. I spent two days last week at medical facilities for my wife's kidney stone removal (Wednesday) and my son's concussion from a basketball game (Thursday). I started thinking that universal health care sounded like a good idea. This was just before asserting myself to avoid my son being sent to the emergency on an ambulance, since their CT Scan machine was broken and they couldn't get authorization from my insurance company. It all ended nicely and I rewarded the urgent care staff with $2.40 worth of doughnut holes. Their response: a lot of smiles and a "You can never go wrong bringing nurses treats".

I had plenty of time to think about during my wait and I realized that while universal health care is a great idea, I have no confidence that our Federal Government can accomplish it effectively. The main reason is that our U.S. Constitution makes it very difficult for them to administrate such a complex enterprise. There are good reasons for this.

So why is this blog titled 10,000 hours? I'm finishing Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" (I recommend it!). One of the ideas in his book is that in order to master a complex task (i.e., become a top musician, athlete, etc.) a person needs to spend about 10,000 hours. These were his findings:
  • Top violinists at a performing arts school had all practiced or performed roughly 10,000 hours. The "B" Violinists had practiced 8,000 hours and "C" group about 6,000 hours
  • Professional Canadian Hockey players had played about 10,000 hours
  • Bill Gates had spent roughly 10,000 hours writing software before founding Microsoft
  • The Beetles had performed about 10,000 hours before making it big (I always thought that Ed Sullivan just plucked them from Liverpool).

Some of these cases involved very fortunate circumstances: what month you were born in; going to a private school that happened to have access to the latest computers and living within walking distance of a university that had the same; getting a gig in Hamburg that had you performing 7 days a week.

"Outliers" also talks about the benefits of hard work and spending extra time.

Last night, I watched the General Priesthood broadcast for the LDS church. One of my favorite speakers, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, talked about being a refuge in Frankfurt, Germany after World War II. He shared two important principles he learned from this experience: Work Hard and Learn. You can listen to his talk here.