Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pilot Had Hunch

San Francisco Chronicle: PILOT HAD HUNCH: It led him to wife, kids
"When I heard the family was lost, immediately I had a pretty good idea where they were," Rachor, a helicopter pilot for 10 years, said Wednesday. "It's real easy to take a wrong turn where they did. A lot of people make that mistake."
"I saw the picture of the kids in the paper," Rachor said. "I really know that area well. I live out there, so I know it better than most. I fly over it once a week."

Rachor knew that helicopters hired by the Kim family were looking closer to the coast. He said he had contact with government searchers, but they were looking elsewhere as well.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Copies from the office pinboard at my previous job:

Employees over 30 years old

Most developers make their first million by age 30.

Monday, December 04, 2006


a) Writing blog articles is as easy as writing emails. Even easier, as you don't have to think about whom to send it to.

b) Reading blogs is also as easy as reading email and even easier and more convenient than surfing around the web.

For completeness sake here is a presentation I gave recently for practicing purposes: RSS Feeds

to a) To get started writing (you can have multiple blogs for different subjects if you like), go to this web site and get yourself a free account:


See these two screenshots to get an impression of how to use the service from blogger.com:

You see a list of your posts and when writing a new one it looks almost identical to writing an email.

to b) Instead of browsing from one news or blog web site to the next, checking if new and interesting things have been put online, you can use a site like www.bloglines.com. Register all the interesting news feeds and become your own news editor.

Here you can get yourself a free account:


To add news feeds to your selection, click on the "add" link in the left pane above your list of existing feeds. Then you will be able to add a simple web address like e.g.


as the source of a new feed. Basically every news site or blog offers this so called RSS feed capability. Just look where RSS gets mentioned on a web site that you like and copy paste the link presented there into bloglines. Then bloglines indicates which site has any new content, which you can then easily read in the right pane of the bloglines site. Just check it out.

Now what to read and write about (and listen and see) is up to you! But it is easier and more efficient than it has ever been.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Richter The Enigma

There is a documentary on YouTube of up to 3 hours about Sviatoslav Richter, whom many consider to be the greatest pianist of the 20th century.

For a first quick impression check Richter Rocked instead.

[Update 2007-01-27: unfortunately "The Enigma" videos have been pulled down. Hopefully they will legally reappear someplace else someday.]
Richter The Enigma [1/18]

Richter The Enigma [2/18]
Richter The Enigma [3/18]
Richter The Enigma [4/18]
Richter The Enigma [5/18]
Richter The Enigma [6/18] - Richter about Maria Yudina (another story about her: she once played a Mozart concerto on radio, Stalin heard it and requested the recording. No one had the guts to tell him there is no recording of it - it was only live! So they played it again just for the record and handed it to Stalin as the supposedly first radio version.)
Richter The Enigma [7/18]
Richter The Enigma [8/18]
Richter The Enigma [9/18]
Richter The Enigma [10/18]
Richter The Enigma [11/18]
Richter The Enigma [12/18]
Richter The Enigma [13/18]
Richter The Enigma [14/18]
Richter The Enigma [15/18]
Richter The Enigma [16/18]
Richter The Enigma [17/18]
Richter The Enigma [18/18]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dani Juggling

End of last year Dani Muri persuaded me to learn juggling. My motivation was to use it as a metaphor for being able to handle multiple projects in my life at the same time instead of getting lost in a single thing.
What I learned is that juggling is much less about catching each ball than to focus on throwing them the right way so you know already where and when they will land and forget (at least consciously) about them while they fly all by themselves through the air. Instead you are able to focus on the most important task right in front of you and get that done as precisely and quickly as possible so you are able to get to the next one and you need less correction and concentration when collecting things in the end.

Now two weeks ago (2006-11-02) Dani gave a presentation in the office at the bi-weekly English Business Lunch, organized by our English teacher Sharon Epprecht. I recorded only parts as I had not enough memory, still you should get the idea with the snippets that came out of it. Enjoy!

Dani Juggling 1/8 (40 sec)
Dani Juggling 2/8 (23 sec)
Dani Juggling 3/8 (1 min 38 sec) Resilience

Dani Juggling 4/8 (1 min 27 sec)
Dani Juggling 5/8 (3 min 16 sec) Values of the Game

Dani Juggling 6/8 (1 min 29 sec) Imagination
Dani Juggling 7/8 (42 sec)
Dani Juggling 8/8 (32 sec)

Here is the single slide of the presentation,

according to the book

Values of the Game by Bill Bradley. Someone added, what also belongs on the list is the word Fun.

Check this Basketball Stunt Video by Dani's sun Kevin, which also contains some juggling.

Of course, this reminds me of my sister's friend Joram (who met his wife through her). He defected from computer science after he finished his bachelor in Bonn and made juggling his profession instead.
Check these two videos of Joram Seewi in action: trailer and glowing fascination

So, get yourself some juggling balls. It is never to early to start - and never to late. Like my nephew Timon, 16 months of age:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Applied Neuroscience

Excellent article full of practical tips and examples:

A cognitive neuroscientist uses his brain savvy in the ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?’ hot seat

Researchers in my department, Cognitive and Neural Systems (CNS), seek to understand the brain's mechanisms, including three cognitive systems that happen to be essential for a profitable performance on Millionaire: learning, memory, and decision-making. This summer [...] I decided to apply my graduate skills to a decidedly practical purpose and auditioned for a turn in the show's perilous hot seat.
- The first technique I drew upon was priming.
- knowing how to make decisions based on intuition.
- theory of mind, the ability to imagine other people's perspectives.
Pointer was from Marginal Revolution.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Richter Rocked

The title and "richter eats only pianos. He was the Chuck Norris of his time." are two quotes I like from this YouTube video: Richter - Brahms 2nd concerto

Here is a link to search for more Richter Stuff at YouTube.

Sviatoslav Richter plays Bach

I love the following Mozart piano concerto. It was his homework (to make a concerto out of someone else's piano sonata) when he was 11 or 12 years old.

Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.1 1st mov.
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.1 2nd mov.
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.1 3rd mov.

And two more Mozart piano concertos (also with Rudolf Barshai and the Japan Shinsei Symphony Orchestra in 1994)....
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.5 1st mov.
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.5 2nd mov.
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.5 3rd mov.

Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.18 1st mov. Pt.1 of 2
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.18 1st mov. Pt.2 of 2
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.18 2nd mov.
Richter plays Mozart Piano Concerto No.18 3rd mov. (at the end he even smiles - it seems)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Putin, Stalin, Marx, Lenin

Putin, Stalin, Marx

Marx, Lenin, Stalin

Filmed by collegue and friend Jonathan Bee this summer in Moscow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Database of Intentions

The Database of Intentions is simply this: The aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind - a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward. This artifact can tell us extraordinary things about who we are and what we want as a culture.
From John Battelle's Searchblog: The Database of Intentions

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Sound impression from a park in Guangzhou - people dancing and having fun playing cards (starting at 02:17 min).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


By someone called schae from the Zurich Postcard Competition (click on it for the full size image).

Lots and lots of great photos from Zurich there.

If you have not seen it before, compare it to this Zurich Beach picture.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yundi Li

Recently I missed this years Chopin competition winner Rafal Blechacz playing the first Chopin piano concerto in Zurich. I heard the concert was excelent.
Last week I had a chance to hear Yundi Li also playing the first Chopin piano concerto with the Zurich Kammer Orchestra. I could not really get warm to his music, but I liked the encore of a Chinese composition. You might (or might not) be able to listen to the encore here.

Yundi Li giving autographs:

I did not know he lives currently in Hannover (a city I have been to quite often and like a lot, but is not really a world city, despite CBIT and a very beautiful downtown - and in some interview he mentioned no one recognizes him there at all) and also that he was born in Shengzhen (nearby Hong Kong), which I had just skipped traveling through a week before. Too bad - there was enough opportunity for a small chat, but I wasn't to excited about his play and except Lang Lang nothing else came to my mind:o).

Here is an interview with Yundi Li in German at klassik.com:
classix: Gibt es Dinge im Wesen der Europäer, die Sie gar nicht verstehen?
Li: Manchmal eine Form von Gefühlskälte und Reserviertheit, mit der ich auch in Deutschland Probleme habe. Deshalb telefoniere ich so viel mit meinen Verwandten und Freunden in China. Die Menschen in Europa wirken immer sehr beschäftigt, manche dabei aber auch verschlossen. Ich will nicht zu sehr verallgemeinern, doch wirkliche Freunde habe ich noch nicht in Deutschland - außer vielleicht meinem Steinway-Flügel!

For comparison, Lang Lang early last year also in the Tonhalle after a solo recital:

Never before have I seen so many people crowded around an artist. BTW, he will be in Zurich again on 28th of November with a nice solo program (Mozart KV 333, Schuman op. 17, Granados).

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mong Kok

Mong Kog, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2006-09-23

Thursday, September 28, 2006

TrackMania One

Wow, watch this: The 1k Project

Same idea: 3k Project

Skip the first minute, it gets better after 2, 3 minutes, at 4:00 actually is the best part.

Not done by scientists nor artists, just kids...

Thanks, Dani, for the pointer.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chinese Piano Pop Stars

Yundi Li - La Campanella
I thought Yundi Li has already lost in the marketing battle to Lang Lang, but this video is unbelievable (but not because of the music).

Nevertheless, looking forward to hear him soon. Actually I think he deserves more recognition than Lang Lang.

Both might be among the best living pianist now, but to me they are nowhere near the Richter etc. level (with Lang Lang some have a different opinion). Question is, will Asia and especially China be able to produce new piano geniuses, and if so, when?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I have added two more pictures to my collection of images of words.

WordCount™ is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness.
Much more interesting is QueryCount:
Each time someone searches a word on WordCount, QueryCount takes note. Every few hours, QueryCount refreshes itself, rearranging its word rankings based on the number of times each word has been queried by WordCount.
I was curious where the words from my series rank on wordcount and especially querycount. A rank of one means it is a most commonly used or queried word.
no name        wordcount   querycount
0 word             487            35
1 auto           17171          1758
beauty          2381           796
salon           8969         14010
2 enter           1938          3212
at                20           241
own              127          1747
risk             835          3016
3 Louvre         19633         19107
museum          1506          4209
4 prisoner        4939         14093
5 hello           2588            16
6 bank             538           627
7 moved            676         19770
8 hole            2205          1338
9 rich            1482           427
10 toilet          5140           694
11 sex             1236             1          
12 virgin          4526           962
13 zoo             8456           243
14 noise           2173          4110
15 with              17           277
love             384             3
16 goal            1726          2338
17 exchange        1167          7146
18 seduction      23457         10641
19 aha             3548          7222
20 aha             3548          7222
21 exit            6013          2156
22 driving         1595         12151
school           226           106
23 exchange        1167          7146
24 women            210           416
25 taxi            4498          2700
26 I                 11             6
27 the                1             2
secret          1788          2102
life             154           114
of                 2            67
words            365          1471
28 museum          1506          4209
29 passion         3854          1383

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Russian Giants

THE ART OF PIANO 10 Emil Gilels & Sviatoslav Richter
This is wonderful and crazy, Gilels playing in front of soldiers in 1943, very surreal. Best I ever heard from him. Also, playing Tschaikovsky with sweat running down its cheek is priceless (and so is the music).

Extra points for hair and lip movement:
Gilels plays Rachmaninoff Prelude Op. 23 No. 5

Richter - Brahms 2nd concerto
Sviatoslav Richter plays Ravel
Ravel - Jeux d'eau
Ravel's Jeux D'eau played by Martha Argerich - just for comparison
Brahms - Intermezzo in E minor
Schumann Toccata
The date of the performance is December 12, 1985. This was actually Richter's first public performance of the Toccata in roughly 25 years.
Funny, someone took Richter's glasses off during the performance:).

Oistrakh plays Sonata 4 - Brahms - great duo (Menuhin/Gould and Fournier/Gulda are other great combinations)

From Russia's Great Modern Pianists by Mark Zilberquit:
I am an omnivorous creature and I want a lot of things. It is not because I am ambitious or try to do a great many things simultaneously. I simply love very many things and the desire to bring to the listeners all that I love never leaves me.
Gavrilov on Richter:
Richter is capable of learning one bar for an hour, or two, or three hours; more than once I witnessed him while practicing playing one page at least seventy times. Sitting in the next room listening to him, I was literally losing my senses. But he himself, whose patience in this sense has no limits, repeated the same passage again and again . . .

As a Man Thinketh

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life. Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance. Bestial thoughts crystallize into habits of drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of destitution and disease: impure thoughts of every kind crystallize into enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into distracting and adverse circumstances: thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak, unmanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish dependence: lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and beggary: hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation and violence, which solidify into circumstances of injury and persecution: selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking, which solidify into circumstances more or less distressing. On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and sunny circumstances: pure thoughts crystallize into habits of temperance and self-control, which solidify into circumstances of repose and peace: thoughts of courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into manly habits, which solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom: energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness: gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which solidify into protective and preservative circumstances: loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches.
Saw the following quote this week in an email regarding another book, but it applies here as well:).
Keep reading it every day until it is internalized and you have become the Borg.

Or listen to the whole book here (or on your mp3 player), it is pretty small: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Altstetten Alarm

Today in Altstetten across the street where I work in another UBS building there was a bomb alarm. This photo is from the free daily news paper 20 Minutes from their front page:

Here is the story (in German). A copy machine mechanic forgot his tool box because his sweet heart gave him a call. Police took a robot and blew his bag to pieces.

Here is a picture I made at the beginning (click here for the entire picture):

Anyway, this is the picture of the day (just looking in the opposite direction, click on it for a full screen version):

Collegue Vito next to his car (sivler one, not the big one). BTW, on there you see also three more UBS buildings.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Andrei Gavrilov

Next to Gulda, Gavrilov is my favorite pianist (on a par with Richter). BTW, at home the linux machines are named gulda, gavrilov, and gould (gilels is standing in line).

Prokofiev - Suggestion Diabolique, Op.4 - Andre Gavrilov

I had the pleasure to hear him play above piece live in Bonn, on two occasions even. He must have played that piece a million times. To hear him perform this piece was breath taking, playing like a maniac with full energie and temperament. And the live performance was just as perfect as this recording from 1980 (the link might or might not work, right now the piece is not available on CD).

From Russia's Great Modern Pianists by Mark Zilberquit:
"These are the pictures painted by my deceased father," says Andrei Gavrilov. "Some of his works are exhibited in the Tretiakov Gallery and other museums. He was a very serious and original painter. I was fond of watching him work and of course I also dreamt of becoming a painter. I was supposed to be taught painting and my mother planned for my elder brother (he is three years my senior) to study music. She was a pianist who had had a Conservatory education. She had been tutoring him quite zealously for three years and he was to enter the Central Music School with a rather complicated program for his age, when out of the blue I came up to the piano and . . . played his entire program by ear. Since that moment there was a reorientation in our family. As a result my brother has become a painter and I, as you know, a musician . . ."


I was made to practice a great deal indeed. It is enough to say that for at least an hour and a half I used to play scales, exercises, Hanon including. As a result, by the time I left school, technical hurdles of any kind practically ceased to exist for me. For instance, I developed such deftness of fingers that now it makes absolutely no difference to me with what fingers to play the trills: 1-3, 2-3 or 3-4 and 4-5.
Did you do this work willingly?
Of course not. I especially disliked the Czerny etudes. But what could I, poor thing, do about it? I was gripped in an "iron vise."
Somewhere else I red he was sometimes watching through the window with tears in his eyes the other kids outside playing.
It is difficult for me to answer this question. For instance, Sviatoslav Richter began studying music later than is customary. But never in his studies had there been any forcing. As a result he had certain technical hurdles that he had to deal with later. But on the other hand, he studied playfully, and hence his attitude towards practicing. That important quality has been preserved by him up to the present. But times have changed. It is difficult to judge what attitude is the correct one.


All my life, literally, since the age of three, my idol has been Sviatoslav Richter. In my childhood I even had a game with my mother: when I played well, in order to encourage me, she would say that I played just like Sviatoslav Richter. And then I was in seventh heaven. At that time, of course, I could not even suspect that Fate would grant me such happiness as to have close contact with that outstanding musician.
I always felt Gavrilov did not have the public success he deserved, but it probably does not matter so much - having been able to gain Richter's respect. Reminds me of Gulda saying Jarrett is more important as a pianist than Horowitz.
I love literature, theatre, cinema very much, not to speak of painting. I love whatever is nice, whatever is beautiful, whatever is talented. All the rest does not exist for me. No matter what serious faults a person has, if he is truly talented the shortcomings move to the background and in the foreground there remains only the Talent.


You may be right. Our art of performance wields a special power. It is the most communicable means of intercourse, however ephemeral. The concert is over and only memories remain. But that is not insignificant either.
There are many reasons why I don't envy musicians, but there is one thing I have envy for, it is their job to create emotions. But then, software has a feel to it too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Claudio Arrau

THE ART OF PIANO 14 Claudio Arrau.(continued) - wonderful Beethoven op. 111 (1970)

THE ART OF PIANO 13 Claudio Arrau - skip the first fluff talk (till 01:45). But Arrau talking about the body and vanity is priceless, as is the music.

If there was anyone who knew how to be serious, it was him.

Chopin Balada Nº3 Op 47 Claudio Arrau
He plays Chopin (or Mozart) like Beethoven. But so what, it is too bad he never recorded the Mozart piano concertos. He practiced them so long and hard (and played them all from memory) that he got a hand injury and the whole project got canceled.

Ovation to Maestro Claudio Arrau - at age 80.
Actually he started playing the piano before he could talk and his mother had to fed him at the piano.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Command and Control Management


Joel on Software: The Command and Control Management

The third drawback is that in a high tech company the individual contributors always have more information than the “leaders,” so they are really in the best position to make decisions. When the boss wanders into an office where two developers have been arguing for two hours about the best way to compress an image, the person with the least information is the boss, so that’s the last person you’d want making a technical decision. I remember when Mike Maples was my great grand-boss, in charge of Microsoft Applications, he was adamant about refusing to take sides on technical issues. Eventually people learned that they shouldn’t come to him to adjudicate. This forced people to debate the issue on the merits and issues were always resolved in favor of the person who was better at arguing, er, I mean, issues were always resolved in the best possible way.

This actually makes me aware of the fact that I can not remember a single technical argument in my current team, but instead managers or not directly involved developers get briefed on open issues and take part in finding a solution where no one is ego involved with his solution.
Can't say the same about previous jobs.

--- comment from Dani Mueri 2006-08-10

From the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell ...
You've got to let people work out the situation and work out what's happening. The danger in calling is that they will tell you anything to get you off their backs, and if you act on that and take it at face value, you could make a mistake. Plus you are diverting them. Now they are looking upward instead of downward. You've preventing them from resolving the situation.

There are several standing orders for soldiers. Number one: if you are in a mine field, freeze. Makes sense, right? It was drilled into you repeatedly during basic training. Every once in a while the instructor would shout out “Mine!” and everybody had to freeze just so you would get in the habit.

Standing order number two: when attacked, run towards your attackers while shooting. The shooting makes them take cover so they can’t fire at you. Running towards them causes you to get closer to them, which makes it easier to aim at them, which makes it easier to kill them. This standing order makes a lot of sense, too.

OK, now for the Interview Question. What do you do if you’re in a minefield, and people start shooting at you?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose Show - Compilation

Miroslav Klose Interview
Miroslav Klose Interview Polenspiel
Lukas Podolski Interview über Klose
David Odonkor Interview
Odonkor says nothing about Klose, maybe he is just too happy:) - BTW, gewonnen is the past form for geWINnen, the German word for to win.

It is too much, but here is another one...
Miroslav Klose - Ehehemm..

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gulda Legacy

Body builder pianist plays Prelude & Fugue by Friedrich Gulda.

Gulda sons Rico and Paul playing with Friedrich Gulda student Martha Argerich Mozart's concerto for 3 pianos.
As far as I know Friedrich Gulda never played on stage together with Martha Argerich.
If you want to tune in just a couple of seconds, fast forward to minute 22:36 where Paul interprets his father's Aria.

You might or might not find here the original Friedrich Gulda interpretations of his Prelude & Fugue, Aria (instrumental, solo), For Rico, and For Paul compositions, which are unfortunately not available on CD anymore.

And, nothing todo with Gulda, but because he loved Mozart so much...

Young Martha playing a Chopin scherzo.
Martha having fun with Kissin (I don't recommend listening to it, but I found it funny to watch:).

Finally some really great piano stuff from Google Video: Richter and Bunin (it is really a pitty that Bunin didn't have a great career so far - and I hope that I can hear him live some day).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Steve Pavlina

Lots of wisdom here:
Thanks, Richard, for the tip!

E.g. check this article: How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes

The following still has to stand the test of time for me:)
How to Become an Early Riser
BTW, other tips I heard before about this topic:
- move the alarm clock out of reach so you are forced to stand up
- use fragrance products to get your senses up
- a special Slayer CD (track 2 in particular) I got from Cris for this purpose
- some inner NLP self motivating talk to get yourself fired up
What was new to me in the article above is to train your subconscious mind during the day to make getting up in the morning automatic without any inner arguing...

Here is a separate blog entry for his article 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti impressions from the Kunsthaus Zurich.

Zurich Beach

This image was floating around in the office (thanks Kelvin), don't know the source. Click on the image for a larger version.

Reality looks more like this, two weeks ago from construction work at the Limmatquai:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Wisdom Fallacy: Why Management Is Really Like Math

Short blog article about management, but it is actually applicable to many other areas as well.

>>People separate knowledge into two major categories. The first consists of areas where some people know more than others (math, physics, computer programming, history, linguistics, etc.) and the second consists of areas where they don't (religion, politics, raising a family, etc.). The second area has always baffled me. Why will people willingly say they know nothing about math, but will rarely admit the same thing about politics or religion? Why will people accept advice on a subject, from someone that has studied it in depth, if that subject is programming, but not if it has to do with raising their children? Why, in some areas of knowledge, do we equate studying with mastery, and in other areas we don't? I'll call this the "wisdom fallacy" - that people believe wisdom has no correlation with knowledge for some subjects, when really it does.<<

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Expert Mind

Scientific american article: The Expert Mind

The article is long and a bit boring, but here are some gems:

>>The one thing that all expertise theorists agree on is that it takes enormous effort to build these structures in the mind. Simon coined a psychological law of his own, the 10-year rule, which states that it takes approximately a decade of heavy labor to master any field. Even child prodigies, such as Gauss in mathematics, Mozart in music and Bobby Fischer in chess, must have made an equivalent effort, perhaps by starting earlier and working harder than others.

According to this view, the proliferation of chess prodigies in recent years merely reflects the advent of computer-based training methods that let children study far more master games and to play far more frequently against master-strength programs than their forerunners could typically manage. Fischer made a sensation when he achieved the grandmaster title at age 15, in 1958; today's record-holder, Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, earned it at 12 years, seven months.

Ericsson argues that what matters is not experience per se but "effortful study," which entails continually tackling challenges that lie just beyond one's competence. That is why it is possible for enthusiasts to spend tens of thousands of hours playing chess or golf or a musical instrument without ever advancing beyond the amateur level and why a properly trained student can overtake them in a relatively short time. It is interesting to note that time spent playing chess, even in tournaments, appears to contribute less than such study to a player's progress; the main training value of such games is to point up weaknesses for future study.
Thus, motivation appears to be a more important factor than innate ability in the development of expertise.
Furthermore, success builds on success, because each accomplishment can strengthen a child's motivation. A 1999 study of professional soccer players from several countries showed that they were much more likely than the general population to have been born at a time of year that would have dictated their enrollment in youth soccer leagues at ages older than the average. In their early years, these children would have enjoyed a substantial advantage in size and strength when playing soccer with their teammates. Because the larger, more agile children would get more opportunities to handle the ball, they would score more often, and their success at the game would motivate them to become even better.<<

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Luca Frei

Last Saturday I got into an interesting conversation with artist Luca Frei after I bought a new microphone for my mp3 player. He asked, if i would record the sound of the city, which was not my intention. But I had heard before that there are people bringing back home "sound prints" from their vacation spots.

Same day he gave a speach at the Shedhalle about Power and Culture.

Here is a snippet of his presentation.

Among others I like his work What is our goal?, especially the word "our". It reminds me of Brahms's Requiem with the line Was ist dein Ziel?.

Moreover I like images with people next to a painting like here and here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stumbling on Happiness

Stumbling on Happyness by Daniel Gilbert

Did not read it myself, but found these amazon comments interesting...

A pretty happy read- but not as happy as you think it is going to be
, May 6, 2006
Reviewer:Shalom Freedman "Shalom Freedman" (Jerusalem,Israel) - See all my reviews
Here are some of the most important points of this book:
1) We often exaggerate in imagining the long- term emotional effects certain events will have on us.
2) Most of us tend to have a basic level of happiness which we revert to eventually.
3) People generally err in imagining what will make them happy.
4) People tend to find ways of rationalizing unhappy outcomes so as to make them more acceptable to themselves.
5) People tend to repeat the same errors in imagining what will make them happy.
6) Events and outcomes which we dread may when they come about turn into new opportunities for happiness.
7) Many of the most productive and creative people are those who are continually unhappy with the world- and thus strive to change it.
8) Happiness is rarely as good as we imagine it to be, and rarely lasts as long as we think it will. The same mistaken expectations apply to unhappiness.

Gilbert makes these points and others with much anecdotal evidence and humor.

A pretty happy read, but not as happy as you think it is going to be.

Interesting with flaws, June 16, 2006
Reviewer:Stan Vernooy (Henderson, NV) - See all my reviews
To use an example: a couple of other reviewers have already mentioned Gilbert's story of a victory in an important college football game. Students predict in advance that they will be ecstatic if their team wins, and a different study suggests that a few months after the fact they will contend that they WERE ecstatic. However, close monitoring of their feelings at the actual time of the victory, or shortly thereafter, suggests that they weren't as happy as they expected to be, or as they later recalled being. On a less trivial topic, he makes the same claim regarding the experience of having and raising children: It isn't as much fun as the parents expect it to be. And while the child-rearing was going on, it wasn't as happy an experience as they later remembered it to be. But Gilbert is ignoring a vital point here: The anticipation of happiness, and the recollection of happiness, ARE happiness! Gilbert writes the entire book with the unexamined assumption that happy anticipations and happy memories can be discarded as mere illusions - the fabrications of irrational minds. I think he's wrong.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Frame of Mind

Saw this in Zurich today (2006-07-11). NZZ writes "Zidane's ugly farewell in world cup final" while the Tages Anzeiger writes: "Zidane celebrated as hero"
I always liked the Tagi better.

And here for the kids (the usual stuff that floats around in the office, but can't see this enough):

And finally, you gotta love him, check out this google video.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Howdy Stranger!


>>To Rashid's surprise, he found participants who bowled with strangers were happier than students who hand-picked buddies to accompany them (and, as expected, people who bowled by themselves). For those who made new friends, the experience was similar to a successful date. Says Rashid, "They were euphoric." Although college students tend to be an outgoing bunch, Rashid says one's level of extroversion didn't predict who would see the greatest uptick in mood.<<

Maradona - life is life

Check Maradona during a warm up in this google video. He has rythm. See also this and this funny goal.

Suicide blights China's women

Not so nice statistic from China:


>> But the most significant finding was that, unlike almost everywhere else in the world, more women than men commit suicide.
"It appears that many of them are impulsive events following an acute fight or an argument with the husband or a parent or a mother in law," he told the World Today programme.

But the biggest single reason why so many suicide attempts in China are successful is their method.

Nearly two-thirds of them are by consuming pesticides and powerful rat poisons which are extremely easy to buy in China.
In China, there is also a lack of social and religious taboos against taking one's own life.

"In some particular villages it almost becomes normalised. If a young woman is having trouble, this is one way she'll express her displeasure," Dr Phillips said.<<

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Goals and Habits

Peter Gollwitzer about implementation intentions and similar habit relevant thoughts:

People can delegate the initiation of goal-directed behavior to environmental stimuli by forming so-called implementation intentions (If situation x is encountered, I will perform behavior y!). We observed that forming implementation intentions facilitates detecting, attending to, and recalling the critical situation. Moreover, in the presence of the critical situation the initiation of the specified goal-directed behavior is immediate, efficient, and does not need a conscious intent.

We are currently investigating whether forming implementation intentions can be used as an effective self-regulatory tool when it comes to resisting temptations, avoiding to stereotype members of an out-group, blocking unwanted goal pursuits triggered outside the person’s awareness or unwanted implicit perception-behavior effects. Moreover, it is analyzed how efficiently action control via implementation intentions saves a person’s self-regulatory resources. We also ask whether implementation intentions protect a person’s thoughts and actions from unwanted influences of self-states (such as a good or bad mood, self-definitional incompleteness, feelings of anger or sadness) once the critical situation is encountered.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Overview of Addiction Research in NYT Magazine

So what made all those lab rats lose their minds? Bruce Alexander and his research team had a rather simple hypothesis: The rats had awful lives. They were stressed, lonely, bored and looking to self-medicate. To prove it, Alexander created a lab-rat heaven he called Rat Park. The 200-square-foot residence featured bright balls and tin cans to play with, painted creeks and trees to look at and plenty of room for mating and socializing.

Alexander took 16 lucky rats and plopped them into Rat Park, where they were offered water or a sweet, morphine-based cocktail (rats love sweets). Alexander offered the same two drinks to the control group of rats he left isolated in cages. The results? The rat-parkers were apparently having too much fun to bother with artificial highs, because they hardly touched the morphine solution, no matter how sweet Alexander and his colleagues made it. The isolated and arguably depressed rats, on the other hand, eagerly got high, drinking more than a dozen times the amount of the morphine solution as the rats in paradise.