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3 things I learned while my plane crashed

Ric Elias had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009. What went through his mind as the doomed plane went down? At TED, he tells his story publicly for the first time.

Ric Elias is the CEO and cofounder of Red Ventures, a portfolio of fast-growing digital businesses.

Why you should listen

Ric Elias was given the gift of a miracle: to face near-certain death, and then to come back and live differently.

Video 4m 45s

Ric Elias – Ted Talks

A native of Puerto Rico, Elias attended Boston College and Harvard Business School before starting his career as part of GE’s Financial Management program. He cofounded Red Ventures in 2000, just months before the dot-com bubble burst. The company weathered the storm; by 2007 it was ranked fourth on the Inc. 500 list, and in 2015 the company was valuated at more than $1 billion. Elias has cultivated an award-winning company culture, ranking as a “Best Place to Work” in Charlotte, North Carolina, for ten years in a row.

Elias’s leadership style and personal life are deeply influenced by his experience as a survivor of Flight 1549, also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.” He is devoted to using his platform to “leave the woodpile higher than he found it” — spinning out multiple nonprofits from Red Ventures over the years, all of which are aimed at creating educational opportunity and economic mobility for under-served groups. In 2018, Elias launched Forward787, a social enterprise committed to raising and deploying $100 million to build businesses in Puerto Rico that compete with the world’s top companies. In 2019, he launched a podcast, 3 Things with Ric Elias, as a continuation of the learning journey he shared on the TED stage.

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The Three Laws of Recursion

Like the robots of Asimov, all recursive algorithms must obey three important laws:

  • A recursive algorithm must have a base case.
  • A recursive algorithm must change its state and move toward the base case.
  • A recursive algorithm must call itself, recursively.

Recursion is the process of defining a problem (or the solution to a problem) in terms of (a simpler version of) itself. For example, we can define the operation “find your way home” as: If you are at home, stop moving. Take one step toward home.

Let’s begin our discussion of recursion by examining the first appearance of fractals in modern mathematics. In 1883, German mathematician George Cantor developed simple rules to generate an infinite set:

Cantor’s rule for an infinite set

There is a feedback loop at work here. Take a single line and break it into two. Then return to those two lines and apply the same rule, breaking each line into two, and now we’re left with four. Then return to those four lines and apply the rule. Now you’ve got eight. This process is known as recursion: the repeated application of a rule to successive results. Cantor was interested in what happens when you apply these rules an infinite number of times.

George Cantor

Dichotomy paradox – Zeno’s

“That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal.”

— as recounted by Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b10

Suppose Atalanta wishes to walk to the end of a path. Before she can get there, she must get halfway there. Before she can get halfway there, she must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, she must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.

Zeno’s paradox was recursive by cutting the distance in half each time to the infinitesimal. This is also how the Tortoise beat the Hair by questioning time over distance.

Recursive Function Calls

The tortoise and the Hair – the paradox of time
int factorial(int n) 
{ if (n == 1) { return 1; }
else { return n * factorial(n-1); } }

A function that does call others is called a nonleaf function. … The factorial function can be rewritten recursively as factorial(n) = n × factorial(n – 1). The factorial of 1 is simply 1. The image shows an object trace of the factorial function written as a recursive function. Each call goes in the run time stack until the base case is reached, and the the stack is popped as the result is passed to each function on the stack.

Five Factorial (5!) in recursion

What Is a Fractal?

The term fractal (from the Latin fractus, meaning “broken”) was coined by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975. In his seminal work “The Fractal Geometry of Nature,” he defines a fractal as “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.”

Recursion in Nature

Looking closely at a given section of the tree, we find that the shape of this branch resembles the tree itself. This is known as self-similarity; as Mandelbrot stated, each part is a “reduced-size copy of the whole.”

The Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. During his lifetime, Asimov was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. A prolific writer, he wrote or edited more than 500 books.

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws
Partial sources: https://natureofcode.com/book/chapter-8-fractals/, Wikipedia, Google 
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Barth | Michael O’Donoghue

Michael O’Donoghue (January 5, 1940 – November 8, 1994) was an American writer and performer. He was known for his dark and destructive style of comedy and humor, was a major contributor to National Lampoon magazine, and was the first head writer of Saturday Night Live. He was also the first performer to utter a line on that series.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s …

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
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James Carville

“Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in the middle”

James Carville
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania | Nations Online Project

The actual quote, and I was present when he made it in 1991, was “Pennsylvania is bordered by two metropolises at either end with Alabama in the middle.”

Carrie Rickey | Quora

James Carville

Chester James Carville Jr. (born October 25, 1944) is an American political consultant and author who has strategized for candidates for public office in the United States, and in 23 nations abroad. A Democrat, he is also a media personality with expertise in U.S. elections who appears frequently on cable news programs, in podcasts, and in his public speeches. Source: Wikipedia

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Roll Models | Venti is large

After salesmen Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) trash a company truck, the court gives them a choice: jail time or community service in a mentoring program. Thinking to take the easy way out, the two overgrown adolescents find themselves paired with a teenager (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who is experiencing the pangs of first love, and a foul-mouthed fifth-grader (Bobb’e J. Thompson), who needs an attitude adjustment.
Release date: November 7, 2008 (USA)

30 second video clip

Role Models clip | Venti

“Congratulations, you’re stupid in three languages”.

Paul Rudd | Role Models
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Alan Alda | The 3 Rules of 3

We Were Built to Connect with Other People — Here’s How to Be Better At It. Before you follow another “tip” or “trick,” there’s something Alan Alda wants you to know.

His best tip to become a better communicator is what he calls the three rules of three. Listen to his practical hints for becoming a communication pro but, as he remarks, try to get there organically through the process. Alan Alda’s most recent book is If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

“So the first rule is, I try only to say three important things when I talk to people”.

“The second rule is, if I have a difficult thing to understand, if there’s something I think is not going to be that easy to get, I try to say it in three different ways”.

“And the third tip, which I always forget, is that if I have a difficult thing that’s hard to get, I try to say it three times through the talk”.

—- Alan Alda
Alan Alda
Alan Alda

Alan Alda doesn’t want you to take “pro tips” from anyone-not even Alan Alda. When it comes to his area of expertise public speaking and empathetic communication there are no hacks or shortcuts; if you want to be a world class public speaker, you have to earn those stripes through the process of deeply understanding what it is to talk, listen, and connect.

Alda calls tips intellectual abstractions; it’s akin to the difference between information and knowledge, between parroting a few words in French and speaking the actual language. But, when pushed by yours truly at Big Think, Alda does give up the goods (willingly we promise no Alan Aldas were harmed in the making of this video).

5 min Video

Alan Alda | The 3 Rules of 3

Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor, writer and director. In addition to The Aviator, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, Alda’s films include Crimes and Misdemeanours, Everyone Says I Love You, Flirting With Disaster, Manhattan Murder Mystery, And The Band Played On, Same Time, Next Year and California Suite, as well as The Seduction of Joe Tynan, which he wrote, and The Four Seasons, Sweet Liberty, A New Life and Betsy’s Wedding, all of which he wrote and directed. Recently, his film appearances have included Tower Heist, Wanderlust, and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies.

Source: https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/alan-alda-we-were-built-to-connect-with-other-people-heres-how-to-be-better-at-it/

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Noise by Daniel Kahneman | 3 Distinctions

The Michael Shermer Show with Daniel Kahneman – Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

DESCRIPTION

Imagine that two doctors in the same city give
different diagnoses to identical patients. Now
imagine that the same doctor making a different
decision depending on whether it is morning or
afternoon, or Monday rather than Wednesday.
This is an example of noise: variability in
judgments that should be identical.

Shermer speaks with Nobel Prize winning
psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman
about the detrimental effects of noise and what
we can do to reduce both noise and bias, and
make better decisions in: medicine, law, economic
forecasting, forensic science, bail, child
protection, strategy, performance reviews, and
personnel selection.

Video clip – 3 minutes

Noise by Daniel Kahneman | 3 Distinctions

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Full Video – Noise by Daniel Kahneman

Full video at https://youtu.be/5CFjERpwFys

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Michio Kaku: 3 mind-blowing predictions about the future

What lies in store for humanity? Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku explains how different life will be for your descendants—and maybe your future self, if the timing works out.

15 min

with
Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku: 3 mind-blowing predictions about the future
  1. We will become a space-faring species
  2. We will expand the brain’s capabilities
  3. We will defeat cancer

About

Michio Kaku (Japanese: カク ミチオ, 加来 道雄, born January 24, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist, futurist, and popularizer of science (science communicator). He is a professor of theoretical physics in the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center. Kaku is the author of several books about physics and related topics and has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film. He is also a regular contributor to his own blog, as well as other popular media outlets. For his efforts to bridge science and science fiction, he is a 2021 Sir Arthur Clarke Lifetime Achievement Awardee.

Sources
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Warren Buffet | 3 Life Decisions

Warren Buffett Says 3 Decisions in Life Separate
High Achievers From Mere Dreamers. If the third-richest man in the universe says it, who’s to argue?

BY MARCEL SCHWANTES, INC. CONTRIBUTING
EDITOR AND FOUNDER, LEADERSHIP FROM THE CORE. 7/14/2022

Warren Buffet​
Warren Buffet

Warren Buffett is smarter than me. Much smarter. But, outside of his complete mastery of all things related to investment, is the earthly wisdom Buffett imparts on us mind-boggling? Probably not. It’s the fact Warren Buffett is saying it. He is articulating, in the simplest of terms, things our eighth-grade teacher could have told us, but their coming from Buffett is what makes all the difference.

Nearing the age of 90, the Oracle of Omaha is a success juggernaut whose common sense resonates deep within our souls. Some of his advice just might transform you, but you need to apply it. Here are three inspiring Buffett lessons to move you from dreamer to high achiever.

  1. Don’t risk what you have to get something you don’t need. Buffett once advised graduating students at the University of Florida that he has witnessed both businesses and individuals put themselves at risk to chase after bigger things, usually out of greed when they should have held back.

Buffett said, “If you risk something that is important to you for something that is unimportant to you, it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t care if the odds you succeed are 99 to 1 or 1,000 to 1.”

  1. Invest in relationships with honest and ethical people.

He also asked University of Florida students to think of a classmate they felt had the makings of success long term, such that they would want to get 10 percent of that person’s earnings for the rest of their lives.
“You would probably pick the one you responded the best to, the one who has the leadership qualities, the one who is able to get other people to carry out their interests,” said Buffett. “That would be the person who is generous, honest, and who gave credit to other people for their own ideas.”

  1. Measure your life’s success through one word: love.
    In the Buffett biography, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Buffett explains that the highest measure of success in life comes “by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.”

Some people die filthy rich and get buildings named after them but “the truth is that nobody in the world loves them,” says Buffett. In the end, the ultimate test of how you’ve lived your life comes down to love.
“The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get,” asserts Buffett.

Warren Buffet​
Warren Buffet

Source: Inc.

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upmanship

One-upmanship, also called “one-upsmanship”, is the art or practice of successively outdoing a competitor. The term has been extended to a generic, often punning extension, upmanship, used for any assertion of superiority: for instance, photon upmanship, Native Upmanship, and so on. Wikipedia

The Audiopedia

Find another word for one-upmanship. In this page you can discover 22 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for one-upmanship, like: bettering, artfulness, cageyness, canniness, competitive-advantage, competitive edge, cunning, cutthroat, outfoxing, outsmarting and outwitting. Read more

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The Metre – the repeating circle & triangulation

The Metre (meaning measure) was one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator! France embarked on a first large scale measurement. It took 7 years to measure the distance from Dunkirk to Barsalona. They used triangulation with an instrument called the Repeating Circle along with trigonometry.

The standardization of measurement: the Metre

Creating the Metre – a universal standard

By the 16th century, there we over 250,000 weights and measures in Europe. This effected trade, navigation, building plans, etc. Fire hoses would not connect from town to town. France chose to create a standard by measuring something unchangeable. They chose the Earth. Before this standardization, the human body (the Ruler of the land) would make new measurements upon gaining power.

The Repeating Circle

Repeating Circle
Repeating Circle

DESCRIPTION

This is one of two double repeating circles that Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, the first superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey, ordered from Edward Troughton in London in 1812, and that was shipped in 1815. The large circle may be angled from vertical to horizontal to the opposite vertical position. It is graduated to 10 minutes, and read by four verniers and two magnifiers to single minutes.

A repeating circle is a geodetic instrument with two telescopes that is designed to reduce errors by repeated observations taken on all parts of the circumference of a circle. The form was developed by the Chevalier de Borda, first executed by Etienne Lenoir in Paris around 1789, and popular for about 50 years.

Ref: F. R. Hassler, “Papers on Various Subjects Connected with the Survey of the Coast of the United States,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 2 (1825): 232-420, on 315-320 and pl. VII. “The Repeating Circle Without Reflection, as made by Troughton,” in The Cyclopaedia: or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, edited by Abraham Rees (London, 1819), Vol. VII, Art “Circle.”

Image credit:

NAME: repeating circle MAKER: Troughton and Simms PLACE MADE: United Kingdom: England, London MEASUREMENTS: overall: 32 1/8 in x 26 3/4 in x 17 in; 81.6356 cm x 67.945 cm x 43.18 cm upper circle: 17 1/2 in; 44.45 cm circle at base: 13 1/2 in; 34.29 cm telescope: 24 in; 60.96 cm overall; base: 16 3/4 in x 15 1/4 in x 16 in; 42.545 cm x 38.735 cm x 40.64 cm overall; horizontal circle: 13 in x 23 in x 20 in; 33.02 cm x 58.42 cm x 50.8 cm ID NUMBER PH.314640 CATALOG NUMBER 314640 ACCESSION NUMBER 208213


Continue reading The Metre – the repeating circle & triangulation
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Duck typing in python

When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck I called that bird a duck

J. W. Riley

The Python code language is dynamically typed. In many languages (C++, Java) you do need to explicitly declare the types of variables. Python uses duck typing for all operations (function calls, method calls, and operators). You can treat an object as a duck. It raises a TypeError at runtime if an operation cannot be applied to an object because it is of an inappropriate type.