Thursday, April 30, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell Outlier

Ok. I finished Malcolm's book, Outler and I was very entertained. He reinforced the fact that to be successful means to work hard and get lucky. To be famously successful involves a lot more that that, but I realize that it is neither predictable, nor probable as Mr. Gladwell artfully omits.

Gladwell is a good storyteller; I have read three of his book (I wonder if he has more). This last one though started off with a bang, but ended with a flub. He really put it into perspective, how lucky one has to be to be fortunate enough to get a chance at being great at something, but he ended with a sad story of our win at any cost culture.

Yes, hard work will get you money and things and if you are lucky, you will have lots of both including many admirers as well. As a small business owner during the bleakest economic time of my life, I need a glimmer of hope. However on my bookshelf I also have another little gem of a book by Paul Strathern, Karl Marx in 90 Minutes.

Gladwell and Marx are diametrically opposite in just about every direction. The ultimate capitalist (Gladwell) and the ultimate anti-capitalist (Marx) make a great couple. Gladwell goes to great length to explain how working 12 hour days every day of the year can bring you riches (unless you happen to be born at the exact wrong time) and it is never too early to start. So work your fingers to the bone and your children, too for success is at hand (it will only take 10,000 hours to get started).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

I had a strange and novel thought today as I watched the newscasts telling tales of Earth Day. There is no good news about how we humans treat our planet. As strange a concept as it may be to accept, humans will most likely bring themselves to extinction. That isn't really any big deal. It happens to species all the time (greatly accelerated because of us, but that again doesn't really matter), but what is really interesting is that we haven't found any evidence of any prior intelligent life that inhabited the planet (sorry, planet of the apes was pure fiction).

What this tells me, and I would guess that I'm not alone in my thought process, is that I am living during the rise of humanity (or fall). Either way, it is a one way journey and humans never existed before us (all homo sapiens included).

Archeologists have uncovered bones of dinosaurs from millions of years ago. The extinction of the dinosaurs was most likely not of their own accord, but they died anyway. Next at the top of the food chain are we. But that shall pass as well. Future earth dwellers will no doubt dig up traces of humans (sorry, all digital records will not survive, though a few or more fossilized computers will doubtlessly appear for anthropologists to ponder their use, but that's another I wish to aid via a time capsule and stone carvings...another time).

So when civilizations/species come and go for the next several millenia or so, our time on the earth was a short one. And it was during the early years as well.

My question, though is, is it possible or at all plausible that a civilization existed before the age of the dinosaurs, but was altogether erased from the universe (unless we can travel far enough from the earth to verify the existence, but this ain't gonna happen if we kill ourselves off at the rate we are going).

To make a long story even longer and more perplexing, we do not only live in the equivalent of a flat world, we are selfish enough to think that time belongs to us as well. If one could do a Prix the Pilot and travel to the ends of the universe and back, I seriously wonder what he'd find in a million or 100 million years. Possibly he'd find a world with birdmen who know nothing about dinosaurs or men, but some other past than our own (our own perceived past, that is).

If I could know more about archeology, I'd try to imagine a world that could recycle itself and when that might have happened. Here's one scenario that I'd research...just say that once upon a time, there were great floods and the earth was covered in water, enough water or gas or whatever to cover the earth and kill just about everything on it. Just say it was caused by a meteor or something big like that.

What if there was some natural mechanism where the earth could have turned inside out and lava covered the planet. That would pretty much melt any trace of anything that ever walked or crawled or flew or grew or lived or wrote poetry or engaged in orgies or smoked peyote. There would be no physical evidence of anything ever existing on the earth aside from rocks, minerals. and the elements. Could that have happened? I don't know, but it would be pretty bold of me to think that in the grand time scheme of the universe, I exist either in the beginning, the middle, or the end. I wonder which one.

Happy Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Facebook App

Here's an idea for a potentially viral fb your three wishes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Being a writer is a tough life

I was browsing books at the library again (luckily I can do this from home) and one of the featured books was about how divorced women can pick their lives up after a divorce (not sure why men get such a bad wrap, but that's another story). The book had a cool cover on it (get it?) so I clicked on it and then I had options of searching like books and found there were a few dozen books just for divorced women, but one caught my eye. It was co-written by Ben Bova. I thought, is this the Ben Bova, the Hugo and Nebula award winning SF writer (haven't read any of his books, but I know the name)...don't know the details, but I eventually ended up on the rantingroom blog. I'll read it later....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rule the Data, Rule the World

There are many sites popping up that offer gobs and gobs of data. is just such a site.

AOL "leaked" gigs of data on searches; Netflix gives away gigs of data and offers $1MM to anyone who can beat their algorithm by a certain percentage; the list goes on. I'm guilty of hording data like this. Unfortunately I don't have much time for data exploration (at least when I'm not getting paid).

My point is, that if you can make sense of data, which is more freely available than ever, then you have a marketable skill. Make it visually appealing and then you've got another feather in your cap.

That's where I'm headed.

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