Links o’ Interest

Been a while since I did one of these. Random links from around the internet.

Lois Lane and Facebook

Battleship

Paul McCartney, Beck, and Taylor Hawkins denied entry at rappers post-grammy party. “How VIP do we got to get?”

2016 Underwater Photography Winners (yes, this has been sitting around for a while…)

Lost film from Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. Not that great, but interesting.

These always crack me up

Elevator Weatherman

The original performance of Purple Rain. This is a live show, the performance was edited down to be the version we know.

Book Recommendations: Thinking Books

This post isn’t ready, but a friend was asking me, so… Here is a list of books that are vaguely about how we think and act. I covered a few of these back in 2009.

  • Thinking Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman basically invented behavioral economics. A bit long, but will consistently blow your mind. Many other books steal all these ideas, you might as well get it from the source.
  • Nudge:A classic by Cass Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration and still runs an excellent blog. The topic is about how to use simple aspects of human psychology to “nudge” people into better actions. For example, changing the default status on 401(k) contributions from opt-out to opt-in.
  • Blink: It’s Malcolm Gladwell. What else do you need to know.
  • Predictably Irrational: By Dan Aierly. Continuing the theme from Kahneman, some of the many ways in which we are not perfectly rational. We are irrational, but irrational in very predictable ways.
  • Rational Optimist, How Prosperity Evolves: by Matt Ridley. This may not belong on this list. This is essentially a history of our species seen through the lens of trade and reciprocity, and how things keep getting better and will continue to do so.
  • The Angels of Our Better Nature: by Steven Pinker. It is big and thick, but it will change the way you look at our species. The core thesis is very simple, that we are becoming a better more moral species/society/culture. It’s the strength of the argument that will convince you.
  • How we Decide, Jonah Lehrer
  • Influence and Pre-suasion, by Robert Cialdini. A bit like Malcolm Gladwell, with less anecdotes and more hard data.

Oh, I almost forgot. I published this early because a friend asked me about game theory books. Many of these books touch on game theory, particularly Kahneman, but I haven’t read many that are specifically devoted to game theory. The ones I have read are mostly mathematical, sort of the opposite of a Malcolm Gladwell book. A good one is The Strategy of Conflict by Thomas Schelling, which helped inform mutually assured destruction. Any others out there folks like?

Music Quiz #3

  1. How much do you mean now?
  2. Where do I get my kisses from?
  3. What do I want to do when I wake up?
  4. Why are people trying to put us down?
  5. Who Started the Fire?
  6. How does “Make Love, not War” sound to me?
  7. What is all we have to do now?
  8. You walk over to her door, you start pounding on your door, you say ‘open up the door’ — who are you?

  1. How much do you mean now? At this moment, you mean everything (Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Come on Eileen)
  2. Where do I get my kisses from? I always have to steal my kisses from you (Ben Harper)
  3. What do I want to do when I wake up? All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes (Toto, Rosanna)
  4. Why are people trying to put us down? There’s only one reason. The reason is, just because we get around. (The Who, My Generation)
  5. Who Started the Fire? I don’t know. But it sure wasn’t us. We didn’t start the fire. (Billy Joel)
  6. How does “Make Love, not War” sound to me? Absurd. Make love not war sounds so absurd to me (Extreme, from the vastly underrated Rest in Peace)
  7. What is all we have to do now? Take these lies and make them true somehow. (George Michael, Freedom. Probably other answers out there.)
  8. You walk over to her door, you start pounding on your door, you say ‘open up the door’ — who are you? Wooba Gooba with the green teeth. AKA Peter Wolf (Musta Got Lost Intro, J Geils)

Show Answers

Doctors Offices Are Just Awful

I hate going to the doctor. But not because of the medical stuff. It’s the administrative part. The processes and systems are terrible. So much arrogance, so much stupidity. Let’s skip the endless forms, that’ll be a post for some other day. (Sample stupidity to whet your appetite: Enter both your birthdate and your age. Let that sink in.) We’ll just go through the visit itself.

forms

I sat in the waiting room for thirty minutes past my appointment time. At no time was there any indication that there was a problem, this was considered normal. Anytime they could announce, “our apologies we’re running a bit behind”. Since they already had my contact information, they could have texted me that before I left the house. Delta texts me when they are running late, Home Depot delivery texts me, my son’s tennis team texts me… this is easy proven technology.

As it so happens, I had to miss my daughter’s talent show performance to make this appointment. As it so happens, I could have made it since this office was running thirty minutes behind. As is so happens, since there was no communication, I missed it.

The weigh-in. I had been weighed in six days prior at my primary’s office, and I have agreed to share all my information with this office. I weigh myself every morning. Nope, they have to weigh you personally. Shoes on or off – they don’t care, so it is obviously so imprecise to be pointless.

On to the standard examination room. There is no second chair, so I have to perch on that padded examination table even to have a simple conversation. And even though everyone here will end up half-naked at some point, there is no place to put your clothes. It wouldn’t be hard to throw in a plastic bin, but nope. Throw your clothes in the corner. How hygenic.

Now more questions. The assistant goes through a checklist. The questions are literally the same questions on the forms I just filled out. They are also the same questions my primary care physician has asked many times over (which they have permission to access). When I ask the assistant why I just filled out the forms to have the same questions asked, she looks confused and starts flipping through her papers. We move on to a blood pressure check, even though this is also on my record.

It has now been almost an hour. There is no added value yet. Literally nothing has happened that has improved anyone’s understanding of my medical condition. This is a waste of my time, their time, and our taxpayer money.

Now another nurse assistant of some variety tags in and asks me the same questions that I had filled out all the forms. Why? “To verify what your primary care physician sent over.” The sheer stupidity of this statement likely doubled my blood pressure.

Now the doctor finally arrives. The next ten minutes are sensible. He is focused, professional, knowledgeable.

On my way out, it is fifteen minutes more to find and get handed some forms that could have been assembled before I ever came in.

bored doctor

Doctors have a captive audience – every visit may be a variant of this experience, but no one will switch doctors because of it. This is what happens in a system riddled with perverse hidden incentives. In total – just under two hours at the office. Useful time? Five minutes for another EKG, and ten minutes with the doctor. And a very disappointed daughter.

In Praise of BRITA Water Pitchers

The Muttroxia household has had a Brita water pitcher for years. It’s easy to use, the water seems to taste better, it fits in the fridge nicely. And at 12 cups, it has generous capacity.

What is the downside? The downside is that our pitcher was bought somewhere around 2002. It just seems gross. Nothing you can point to, but after 15 years, it was time to replace it.

But I couldn’t. Because they don’t make our model anymore. The new standard ones are only 10 cups. With five family members, that’s not enough. There is a bigger model, but it’s more of a fishtank, takes up far too much room. I literally spent months trying to find a 12-cup model. I even called Brita headquarters (they were very understanding and polite). Finally I folded and bought their newer standard version.

I’m glad I did. It’s wonderful. Here’s a product that gets it right.

  • It pours smoothly, and is easy to aim.
  • It holds just as much. I don’t understand how this can be. It is clearly 10 cups compared to 12 cups we used to have, but somehow it has just as much. I believe this is because the ‘lower’ section of filtered water is bigger. The 2 cup difference was mostly in the top half, unfiltered water.
  • It refills incredibly smoothly. In previous versions, you removed the entire cover or pulled up a flap to reveal an opening. No more. Now you simply pour directly onto the top. The water pressure pushes that hinged area down so the water goes into the pitcher. Better yet, as the jug fills the buoyancy of the water gradually closes the flap (similar to a toilet floater). It’s an incredibly elegant solution. The user never needs to touch anything but the water handle. Whoever designed this should be richly compensated.

Huzzah

Three cheers for the new Brita water pitcher!

Update:
As requested, here is an explanatory video.

https://vimeo.com/263369189

LinkedIn Weirdness

Linkedin has large elements of a social media platform. I was advised that liking and commenting on others folks posts would elevate my own profile, and I should also write papers and contribute original content.

They were right. Consider this graph. A few weeks ago, I started actively liking and commenting. Last week, I posted about Tom Brady and analytics.

Search Trend on LinkedIn

Those searches include recruiters who are suddenly picking up the phone and calling. This is a real world outcome. You would think a recruiter would just want to see the most qualified candidate, but the platform biases them towards candidates who do stuff on Linkedin. Weird!

player game