Monthly Archives: December 2009

The only lever you have to change the world is to change yourself


The only lever you have to significantly improve the world is to improve yourself.

That doesn’t mean beating yourself up, or changing your essence. Your essence is OK. It’s just the bad habits, rough edges, priorities that need straightening out.

According to Emmet Fox,

Love is always creative and fear is always destructive. If you could only love enough, you would be the most powerful person in the world.

I don’t think you can be truly loving without being real.

According to Jules Buccieri

And (magic fact) if you aren’t real, you aren’t powerful.

Improving yourself gets to the root of the problems that are in your power to fix and enables you to engage effectively with the world.

Looked at another way, you’re your most valuable capital asset. Your brain, your skills, your sharpness, your knowledge, your health and appearance, etc.

When I moved out of a townhouse a few years ago after ten years residence, the wooden floor in the kitchen still looked new and the roses were big and full of flowers. But what is the asset of a townhouse compared with the asset of me or you? Yet, we all fill that asset with poison of one kind or another, such as alcohol, stress, caffeine, pornography, mindless entertainment. (Don’t “choose your poison”, choose life.) And we forgo the physical and mental training that we need to maintain and grow ourselves.

Instead, with the right priorities, we could grow healthier, stronger, smarter, and more skillful each day.

Aside: Of course, you also need a thrilling purpose. On what should you set loose this glorious machine? According to Jonathan Mead

The biggest benefit to working on a revolution is that it gives you an insane amount of energy.


December tweets

  • Mother Nature strikes back:
  • “Tepper on track to earn more than $2.5 billion for himself” “scooped up beaten-down bank shares”
  • RT @ccziv: I ❤ @sarahsilverman:
  • New Years Resolution Syndrome:
  • “Notable quotables: Is there anything that is not a quotation?”
  • The secret meaning of Santa Claus:
  • “There is no reason not to follow your heart.” #photo
  • “peaty wetlands emit about 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 a year as a result of human activity”
  • “chaotic magnetic fields are ubiquitous in the circuits found in all modern electronic devices”
  • @notinmy @Scirocco6 Thanks for the RTs!
  • Amazon: “35 multinational companies racing to tap into oil and gas reserves situated in peak biodiversity spots”
  • 2009 Physician Compensation Survey: USA
  • RT @Scirocco6: One of the most inspirational things I have read in ages. Now I have something to shoot for
  • RT @buffyjhamilton: The e-book, the e-reader, and the future of reading
  • RT @kevinerdman: Fed Court busts atty-client privilege when e-mail sent to employee’s company acct, but gmail OK
  • RT @eoinocarroll: Great article in Wired on the scientific method. Title: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up
  • RT @jsunediger: Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students – The Chronicle
  • @raysalemi I wouldn’t be arguing. #eda
  • RT @physorg_physics: Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method developed
  • @raysalemi “That which we call a rose …” Last night I ate Austrailian rain forest “bee vomit” on Lithuanian rye and loved it. #eda
  • @grahambunting The panto according to an American in London:
  • “Reading Peoples Faces: Tattoos, dueling scars, and other rational acquisitions”
  • “Earths climate is more sensitive to atmospheric CO2 than is discussed in policy circles ,
  • “Illegal Logging Makes Indonesia World’s Third Largest Emitter of Greenhouses Gases”
  • Indonesia: “Burning Rainforests Release Huge Amounts of Greenhouse Gases”
  • Washington Irving and his influence on US Christmas traditions:
  • RT @complexdays: FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY by Stewart Brand | #climate | #change |
  • @raysalemi I could agree with that, as long as it’s sincere juice, not theatrical grandstanding.
  • @raysalemi I’m not suggesting that you’re advocating “angry rhetoric”. 🙂 I just meant that as the opposite of “even handed material”.
  • @raysalemi And when they’re given angry rhetoric to read they see the light? That X doesn’t work is not an argument for Y.
  • @raysalemi Yes, many engineers rationalize their prejudice and pretend they’re thinking. But a fight only strengthens that impulse.
  • @raysalemi As my profile says, “Bold happy love can power change.” Or as Ken Kesey said, “Love is just good sense.”
  • US gov spends 14 times more on nuclear weapons ($50+ billion!) than on energy research.
  • RT @atomicgurl00: Richard Rhodes: Reducing the nuclear threat
  • RT @sciam: IEA: Energy Revolution Required to Combat Climate Change
  • RT @BlessedBees: Shining Examples: 10 Bioluminescent Creatures that Glow in Surprising Ways [Slide Show] #photo
  • RT @DanieRA: Predator drones use less encryption than your TV, DVDs – via @arstechnica
  • @raysalemi Frank calm conversation uncovers more technical mistakes than acrimony and rhetoric do.
  • @raysalemi Tone matters. Keep it a purely technical debate, else people perceive it to be a scolding match and tune out.
  • American people want action on greenhouse warming: WashPost-ABC poll
  • RT @physorg_physics: Water droplets shape graphene nanostructures
  • RT @waveoffreedom: Earth on track for epic die-off, scientists say
  • Cutting down Borneo: “Anyone who destroys orangutan habitat and kills orangutans is my enemy.”
  • “That old college lie: Are our colleges teaching well?” “No. But here’s how to make them.” #USA
  • RT @atraxis: The US air force’s holiday wish list: 2500 PlayStations #science
  • RT @dromescu: Copenhagen chaos sets world on track for 3.5 C
  • “if you can find the right tone … and if you have … limited competition, its possible to make negative ads work”
  • “Three Reasons Why Negative Works for Politics But Not For Actual Advertising”
  • @bfuller9 Until the #media show us vivid details of a completely different kind of life ( it’s just entertainment
  • @bfuller9 Nice looking web page:
  • RT @NASA: […] NASA Data Reveal Major Groundwater Loss in California’s Heartland #AGU09
  • RT @dennisbrophy: IEEE Std. 1800-2009 (SystemVerilog) Ready for Purchase & Download. THX to all who m #eda it happen!
  • 4D electron microscopy ( “real-time, real-space visualization of fleeting changes in the structure of nanoscale matter”
  • Business as usual RT @pdjmoo: #COP15: […] Climate pledges would still mean 3 degree rise: U.N.
  • RT @USCedu: Bacteria dancing the electric slide? Read about electrokinesis in a new study by USC geobiologists:
  • RT @juhalassila: Discover: The Brain: What Is the Speed of Thought?
  • RT @ClimaTweets: […] Two new studies point to significant ice melt-driven sea level rise this century:
  • RT @yaron_think_ver: The New Economics of Verification – a great article, and very important! #EDA #SNPS
  • @bfuller9 In 1996 LA garment industry employed nearly 120K, now only half as many:
  • Evidence of memory of time, too RT @KurzweilAINews: Scientists decode memory-forming brain cell conversations: […]
  • RT @jetlab: NASA Outlines Recent Breakthroughs in Greenhouse Gas Research: […]
  • @pmarriott Just a little non sequitur to keep you guessing.
  • @pmarriott Turing’s explanation of his “imitation game” begins with the idea of a man pretending to be a woman.
  • @grahambunting What’s changed most about them?
  • @dave_59 If I tweeted about everything I read, they’d be coming at you like a machine gun. Blame my parents who hooked me on phonics.
  • Knowing exactly what youre supposed to be doing:
  • Photo: “My life is dry sticks.” dormant trees
  • Why you are unlikely to write much explicitly parallel code: #EDA
  • RT @harrytheASICguy: RT @cadencedesign: Intel TV Interview: Parallelizing Legacy #EDA Applications (Goering) –
  • RT @truthout: Climate Change in Hawaii: Caught Between a Rock and a Big Wave: […]
  • Why does time fly by faster with each passing year?
  • “To the extent that Homer’s Troy exists at all, it exists in the imagination, as a site of our deepest dreaming.”
  • RT @newscientist: A UK newspaper today published “100 reasons why global warming is natural”. We take out 50 of them.
  • “The biggest benefit to working on a revolution is that it gives you an insane amount of energy.” @jonathanmead
  • UCLA computer science: 2009 annual report @UCLAEngineering
  • RT @shemmady: A friend who runs ASIC design at […] is hiring #SystemVerilog consultants for 3-6 months. Know any? #EDA
  • @shemmady Sorry, Shankar, I do know how to spell your name, but apparently not how to type it! #VMM #EDA
  • RT @sricvc: #VMM 1.2 is here for real, opensource..grab it, read it, use it,
  • Just in time for the holidays: #VMM 1.2 #EDA #SNPS @shenmady
  • @jlgray Maybe Majordomo gets confused by the “JL Gray” and angle brackets vs. just a pure address
  • Deliver us from temptation:
  • RT @Carbzero: At Copenhagen global warming conference, alarms on ocean acidification
  • Brain structure deficit in criminal psychopaths:
  • What did you X today?
  • “Early customer conversations” “use appreciative inquiry and amplify positive deviance” @skmurphy
  • “Accounting error undermines climate change laws” “could lead to the loss of most of the world’s natural forests
  • @PDTiJeremy The underlying need being polymorphism? #SystemVerilog #eda #IEEE
  • @raysalemi @dave_59 may be working on that? #eda #systemverilog
  • RT @hlorenzen: World’s Top Polluter (China) Emerges as Green-Technology Leader
  • “color of ambient lighting can influence how wine tastes”
  • RT @Earth_News: Guardian: This is bigger than climate change. Itis a battle to redefine humanity George Monbiot
  • Not so surprising: RT @golan: Octopus Tool Use Especially Surprising.
  • SystemVerilog-201x listening campaign: #eda #IEEE #SystemVerilog
  • “Under the icy north lurks a carbon bomb”
  • RT @docgresh: Great article about how difficult children can turn out to be the best adults:
  • RT @cadencedesign: [Stan Krolikoski] Discusses #EDA Standards (Richard Goering) –
  • Jason Zuckerman’s “principle of daily art”: @SimianZ
  • RT @stevemeier853: Trend towards flow automation, outcome will be with foundries and #EDA
  • Rare variant offers clues RT @newscientist: ‘Holes’ in the genomes ( of [some] overweight children …
  • RT @newscientist: Homosexual selection: nature bustles with same-sex sex. Evolutionary puzzle or force for change?
  • RT @COP15_News: Alun Anderson: The Real Victims Of Climate Change Have No Voice In Copenhagen (PHOTOS): … #cop15
  • Copyright notice cropped from photo by newspaper, claims it was “inadvertent”:
  • @harrytheASICguy “the average data center … for every 1 W of power that is delivered to the servers, 1.5 W are wasted in overhead
  • RT @scoblefaves: socialmediamind: Coping With Criticism – Wall Street Journal: Gary Vaynerchuk …
  • RT @G7STUDIOS: The looming crisis in human genetics
  • RT @petrovdempski: Alien Gases in Our Atmosphere — Berardelli 2009 (1210): 2 — ScienceNOW
  • @bfuller9 THX Yes, learning is not a comfortable activity: so I41 rarely seek out TRULY challenging viewpoints. Dumb.
  • @ccziv I’d bet the eye-candy covers had little or no connection to the actual stories.
  • How could you get your work done in fewer hours per day?
  • RT @bjt_writes: A Starling, Amazing, Fantastic Gallery of Sci Fi Pulp Covers..
  • RT @SteveCase: The End Of Hand Crafted Content “The rise of fast food content is upon us, and its going to get ugly”
  • RT @cheeky_geeky: Thought provoking: Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders –
  • Clown with stars in his eyes: Photo. Oddly, there was no line for this kiddie ride.
  • RT @WindyGardener: Ambitious Actions by the States Push US Toward Climate Goals
  • RT @TerraBoquu: Black Carbon in Arctic Russia (Farming & Land Use, Agricultural Burning) @climateprogress #warming
  • RT @hoimoon: The Big Idea The Carbon Bathtub National Geographic Magazine
  • Ocean acidification: Lubchenco testimony
  • @skmurphy In an “elevator pitch” article you emphasized “traction” above all else: Unconventional or standard advice?
  • RT @EnviroGraffiti: 7 Most Mind-Blowing She-Daredevils in History
  • @raysalemi The Orson Welles radio play version: (MP3) , (RA) , after soup ad and Bible reading
  • @bfuller9 We prefer advice from a confident source: Especially if confirms our own desire/anxiety:
  • Biofuel w/o biomass deconstruction RT @uclanewsroom: … engineer bacteria to turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel.
  • Aging is a disease, let’s find the cure: #healthspan
  • RT @cindy_tc: Bionic Eye: Artificial retina gives woman limited vision after decades of darkness:
  • Slowing aging by lowering IGF-1 signaling pathway activity protects Alzheimer’s-prone mice: #healthspan
  • Judging your book by its cover: your spontaneous posture and expression accurately reveal your personality to others
  • “it is fatty food rather than obesity in itself which affects the ability to fight off sepsis” “lard-based diet”
  • RT @japerk: First evidence of brain rewiring in children: Reading remediation positively alters brain tissue
  • p53 in placozoa RT @newscientist: ‘Guardian of the genome’ found in simplest of organisms
  • RT @vardenrhode: Climate control for your desk #newscientist
  • RT @newscientist: Deforestation in the Amazon reveals traces of an unknown ancient civilisation
  • RT @asterix: #Climate scientist James Hansen hopes #Copenhagen summit will fail
  • RT @YaleE360: Adoption of efficiency measures could cut U.S. energy use 30 percent by 2030, a new study says.
  • RT @climateprogress: Stronger climate policies will create low-carbon jobs worldwide
  • Through-silicon vias (TSV). “What, Why and How” , Test Standards: #EDA
  • Did lethal warfare drive the evolution of altruism?
  • @karenbartleson Or he’s still getting used to the idea: #EDA #46DAC
  • @brian_esl He’ll eventually adapt. #EDA
  • RT @physorg_biology: Ovaries must suppress their inner male
  • RT @ValleyPR: John Cooley’s #46DAC trip report. #EDA
  • Meetings cost a programmer more than they do a manager: Paul Graham on “Makers Schedule, Managers Schedule”
  • RT @athenadrakou: … Global average sea level may rise three times faster than the IPCC predictions.
  • RT @lindsayyoga: Putting the Science of Happiness Into Practice
  • Coal isn’t just dirty, it’s stupidly expensive: RT @SimplEarthMedia: Exposure to Coal Lowers IQ in Newborns
  • RT @Ras7RSS: New skin stem cells surprisingly similar to those found in embryos: …
  • “in the realm of art the most important characteristic is courage”
  • RT @valdiskrebs: A final warning from the Arctic –
  • @jlgray Probably the same as this but replacing sv-bc with sv-ieee1800
  • RT @amyjokim: The neuroscience of mindfulness
  • @raysalemi You’ve testified in front of the US Congress?
  • @dennisbrophy says “To be the voice, you must be the body.”
  • “Perhaps the best advice for Facebook users? Post with care.” New default unprivacy settings.
  • RT @LGM_PR: RT @eetimes: Chinese processor ported to 65-nm, says Synopsys: #EDA
  • Loongson’s first-pass silicon success on high-performance CPU: Synopsys CustomSim #SNPS @LGM_PR #EDA
  • Stay close to the noncustomer:
  • @jlgray Ultimately it’s all about listening to #EDA users, what they need to get the job done better and faster. #systemverilog
  • RT @JohnBruggeman: #xerox … new silver ink. Experts predict … will spark huge printed electronics growth. #EDA
  • @grahambunting
  • @raysalemi @TomatMentor is also the General Chair of DVCon 2010 #eda
  • “How the city hurts your brain”
  • “Making graphene ultraflat”
  • “2015: The Death of the #FPGA”? #EDA via @alan_gatherer
  • RT @sciencedaily: Entropy alone can create complex crystals from simple shapes; tetrahedra packing record broken:
  • RT @rosewing: Ancient Tablets Decoded; Shed Light on Assyrian Empire: Meticulous ancient notetakers
  • RT @HPCwire: HPCwire Feature: IBM Ponders the Exascale
  • RT @hpcwire: Off The Wire: UC San Diego Experts Calculate How Much Information Americans Consume:
  • #46DAC Blog Coverage Roundup via @skmurphy “Return with us now to those thrilling #eda ys of yesteryear.”
  • RT @amprather: The Psychology of Climate Change Denial:
  • “Radioactive waste hidden in oil and gas production” radium 226 barely regulated
  • @ValleyPR ??? #46DAC was in July. It’s December now. #EDA
  • RT @sciam: The Psychology of Social Status
  • “a new representation has to be found representing both hardware and software” #EDA @fschirrmeister
  • Jonathan Bromley’s SystemVerilog wish list: via @bromleyj #EDA
  • @dennisbrophy is blogging #EDA
  • RT @gruffdavies: Another great Edge article: Biology (not religion) equals morality.
  • Multimedia semantics:
  • @RSNikhil
  • @IanEHarris Maybe the wave doesn’t collapse.
  • @IanEHarris Easier starting point.
  • Graphene optoelectronics:
  • RT @novenator: Bush insiders ‘distorted,’ still ‘influence’ climate debate #COP15 #co2 on @rawstory
  • RT @SunshineMag: Vintage Magazine Covers with a “Wow Factor”:
  • RT @physorg_tech: Life after silicon: Using exotic materials to help microchips keep improving #EDA
  • RT @misslindadee: Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after text leak: @rocketman528
  • RT @misslindadee: Superturbine: Taking Wind Power to New Heights: @rocketman528
  • “What are your painpoints with SystemVerilog ABV adoption?” #EDA
  • @TomAtMentor Need a hash mark in #EDA tag or it won’t show up in searches.
  • RT @yaron_think_ver: >>> What makes a great verification team GREAT ? #EDA
  • RT @BoraZ: […] 1980 30-year prediction contest: entries finally un-sealed. The Winner:
  • The monsters under your bed are real:
  • Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25? Not, as youve probably heard, to co-opt pagan holidays such as Saturnalia.
  • “Massive Underground Coal Fire Started in 1962 Still Burning”
  • “Japanese ready for new C02 economy” “most energy-efficient country” “40% of the world’s patents in green tech
  • The diaries of Sofia Tolstoy: Classic color photography from days of czar:
  • RT @EduardoCantoral: The Circular Logic of the Universe:
  • Is the “potential for language widespread in the animal kingdom”? Parsing the calls of Campbell’s monkeys
  • @dave_59 There are still plenty of green leaves here: Best of both worlds
  • @adielkhan Paved With Good Intentions: Examining Lost Design Intent ( ) #SNPS #EDA
  • “Earth’s temperature may be 30-50% more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated”
  • Mindfulness: “emotional self-regulating tool”
  • @jlgray Those examples highlight Denning’s distinction between invention and innovation. #eda
  • “Corruption in Indonesia threatens forest conservation plans”
  • “Renewable-energy investment may climb to […] $200 billion worldwide next year”
  • Less than $20 billlion could end Brazil deforestation:
  • We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate.
  • “Canada’s image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling” “corrupt petro-state”
  • @DanielNenni Unlike TV advertising, all of Synopsys synthesis works. Hard data proves it. #EDA isn’t art, it’s Aart (engineering).
  • @jlgray I thought we were just deriving mathematical formulas for quantity, not quality, of output.
  • Time is not a river:
  • “It costs about 3.50 to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor in Germany[ …] only 1.50 to stick it on a container ship to Ghana.”
  • “How Europe’s discarded computers are poisoning Africa’s kids”
  • @jlgray
  • Life after stuff:
  • @raysalemi Bryan thinks “#EDA engineers […] pay out the nose” for that software
  • “Open Source #EDA Dream”
  • “Afghanistan and the new great game” “Prized pipeline route [&] West’s stubborn interest in poor, remote land”
  • “Beware social media snake oil” “All the hype may obscure the real potential of these online tools”
  • RT @livetorque: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.'” Laozi
  • “Do You See a Pattern?” Christopher Alexander ,
  • “Intel’s Larrabee GPU put on ice”
  • @shemmady Book review via @marketingeda #EDA #Verification #SoC
  • @dave_59 “A sort of Becket mania spread across Europe, and pictures of him were to be found from Iceland to Palestine.”
  • “Under major scrutiny, a project team fights the clock in one of the world’s busiest airports” Heathrow Terminal 1
  • Toxo: a parasite that changes mammalian behavior ( “if you want to overcome some of your inhibitions”
  • @jlgray Bach had 10 children that lived to adulthood, yet was the most prolific of all the great Western composers.
  • RT @HarryAtMentor: I’m excited to be part of the Tom, Dennis & Harry team of Verification Horizons bloggers @
  • @jlgray Good when feedback and assistance are the goals. For full thoughts, usually don’t have time/energy to compress
  • @jlgray If blog is just a promotional tool. If not, main factor is the urgency of the thoughts in you demanding to be expressed.
  • Taking power analysis to the transistor level for a full chip: #EDA #SNPS
  • “The carbon nanotube race accelerates” “Nanocyl builds 400 metric tons per year plant”
  • “Ancient gem-studded teeth show skill of early dentists” Mexican cosmetic dentistry for men (except royals)
  • @jlgray Here Ron answers “What’s it about and why did you write it?” Scroll down.
  • @ThomasHarms For example, high-volume Autodesk has more revenue than Synopsys #EDA
  • “Assessing the relationship between software assertions and code quality”
  • “Finding heap-bounds for [C-to-gates] hardware synthesis” #EDA
  • Are you trying to make dollars or to make sense?
  • “How our brains build social worlds”
  • Weekly status reports made simple:
  • @dennisbrophy RT @karenbartleson: What you haven’t read about the new IEEE-SA corporate member model: #eda #snps
  • Multiple selves:
  • “Finding a better way for computers to see” video
  • “The brutal life of Haiti’s child slaves”
  • @dave_59 Dave, what’s your DVCon paper about?
  • Sibelius’s “ties to Nazi Germany come under new scrutiny”
  • “Sailing alone around the world”:
  • @jlgray I think there isn’t and for the interface to pass itself, you’d need to assign it to a virtual interface variable it can see/pass.
  • SVA Handbook, 2nd Edition released: (via @systemverilog) #EDA
  • “The key to a long life might be having two mothers and no father” “the importance of epigenetics”
  • “Tightly coupling experimental neuroscience and computer engineering” screening candidate visual models
  • “Cloud computing for a universe of data” ” (via @NASAnebula)
  • “Intel Shows 48-core x86 Processor as Single-chip Cloud Computer”
  • “the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized”
  • “explanation for why increasing CO2 is a significant problem” “without relying on climate models”
  • @bfuller9 Maybe comparing their income to friends’ doing business, like days of . #semiconductors #eda #embedded
  • @bfuller9 What’s the cause of their deep dissatisfaction with EE profession? #semiconductors #eda #embedded
  • “$3,500 for the first 30 days of a wiretap, and $2,500 for each additional 30 days”
  • “All around the world, blue whales arent singing like they used to, and scientists have no idea why.”
  • “one-entity/one-vote model that typically yields standards very quickly” “in about two years, on average” IEEE-SA
  • @grahambunting “should record all communications that have taken place for a year on their network”
  • “Homeowners have to fight HOAs to install solar panels”
  • “Where do recycled gadgets really go?” To buy something is to throw it away.
  • “Tips For A Startups Early Press Releases” (via @skmurphy) #EDA
  • “I’d Rather Not Know: The Psychology of Climate Denial”
  • @jenjarratt My reasons for blogging are here:
  • Photo of tiny orchid species whose “transparent petals are just one cell thick.
  • Mother Nature strikes back


    According to Bryan Appleyard, in his review of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto,

    Secondly, much of the book is about the author’s changes of mind. He is now, for example, pro-nuclear power and genetically engineered foods. This is honourable but it does cast a slight shadow of doubt over his latest enthusiasms.

    True, but strange. Shouldn’t the inability to change one’s mind cast a huge shadow of doubt? (See also, “Why all the certainty?“)

    Appleyard continues

    That said, the book brilliantly defines our present predicament – our need to deploy science to clean up the mess made by science. The modern world was made by burning half a trillion tons of carbon since the Industrial Revolution. The next half trillion will be burned in about forty years at present rates of increase. If that happens, then global temperatures will rise by up to 4 degrees and it is reasonable to assume, on the basis of current scientific thought, that our species’ continued existence will be at risk.

    A couple paragraphs down, Appleyard unleashes the metaphor that bit down hard on my attention

    Climate change really means Mother Nature is preparing to rid herself of humans. If we are to survive, we can no longer worship her, we must fight back with smart weapons.

    Reminds me of psychohistorian Lloyd deMause!


    Aside: Interesting factoid from the book, according to Appleyard

    Did you know, for example, that only a tenth of the cells in your body are you? The rest are microbes – ‘We are a portable swamp.’

    The meaning in our mistake


    According to Jonah Lehrer in his excellent “Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

    Dunbar found that most new scientific ideas emerged from lab meetings, those weekly sessions in which people publicly present their data. Interestingly, the most important element of the lab meeting wasn’t the presentation — it was the debate that followed. Dunbar observed that the skeptical (and sometimes heated) questions asked during a group session frequently triggered breakthroughs, as the scientists were forced to reconsider data they’d previously ignored. […] a single bracing query was enough to turn scientists into temporary outsiders, able to look anew at their own work.

    [Discussion of two labs facing the same experimental problem, but one lab diverse, the other not.]

    The diverse lab, in contrast, mulled the problem at a group meeting. […] “After another 10 minutes of talking, the protein problem was solved,” Dunbar says. “They made it look easy.”

    When Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of the meeting, he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because [the diverse] lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.

    This is why other people are so helpful: They shock us out of our cognitive box. “I saw this happen all the time,” Dunbar says. “A scientist would be trying to describe their approach, and they’d be getting a little defensive, and then they’d get this quizzical look on their face. It was like they’d finally understood what was important.”

    What turned out to be so important, of course, was the unexpected result, the experimental error that felt like a failure. The answer had been there all along — it was just obscured by the imperfect theory, rendered invisible by our small-minded brain. It’s not until we talk to a colleague or translate our idea into an analogy that we glimpse the meaning in our mistake.

    See also “Journey out of error“, “The ‘bridge’ personality: a key to success for multidisciplinary projects“, and “I’ve learned a lot from blogging“.


    Root cause analysis


    Thoreau, perhaps alluding to 1 Timothy 6:10

    For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    wrote in the first chapter of Walden

    There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.

    According to self-help author Tony Robbins

    There’s a story I love to tell of a fellow standing on the banks of a river. Suddenly, he sees someone caught in the raging current, bounced about on the jagged rocks, and hears him calling for help. He leaps in, pulls the drowing man to safety, gives him mouth-to-mouth resucitation, attends to the man’s wounds, and calls for medical help. As he’s still catching his breath, he hears two more screams emanating from the river. Again, he jumps in and makes another daring rescue, this time of two women. Before he even has a chance to think, he hears four more people calling for help.

    Pretty soon the man is exhausted, having rescued victim after victim, and yet the screams continue. If only he had taken the time to travel a short distance upriver, he could have discovered who was throwing all those people in the water in the first place!

    According to Martin Luther King, Jr.

    A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

    Why are we usually engaged in “Trivial Pursuit” instead of asking and answering fundamental questions, instead of “striking at the root”? Why do we avert our eyes?

    Recall what Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes advises Col. Taylor before he rides off down the beach with his rifle and his lover. Taylor says, “There’s got to be an answer.” and Zaius replies

    Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.

    Aside: According to this

    According to Walter Harding’s The Days of Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted that most of the branches of learning were taught at Harvard, to which Thoreau replied: “Yes, indeed, all the branches and none of the roots”.