Archive for December 2012

Why kindness can help businesses grow   Leave a comment

“Being good

I asked Henrietta Lovell why did she get all this help? It’s the business of kindness, she said, and a light bulb went off in my head.

Why shouldn’t this be another way of doing business, far removed from the brash competitiveness that businesses think they are all about? There is, surely, far more to running a company than the preposterous cut-throat competition of the TV challenge show, The Apprentice.

Why can’t businesses be run with a generosity of spirit and a lot of goodwill? Henrietta Lovell says it can be done, but hers may be just a good deed in a naughty world.

I would like to think not. It may be the start of a trend. Companies have got away with nominal good behaviour for years. They do what their lawyers and their marketing people tell them they are obligated to do, and nothing much more.

As the banking crisis demonstrated, they did what they could get away with, driven by what they maintained was the interests of their shareholders, and the bosses revelling in the status symbol of their bonuses.

Now blinking in the glare of publicity – businesses may be waking up to other, more deep-seated, obligations. Good people may in the end decide they do not want to work for inhuman or merely operationally effective companies. They will want more from work than pay and promotion. They will want to be nice. They will want the organisations they work for to be kind.

That is what customers are discovering they want, too. They want to deal with businesses that work in decent ways, that reflect their own feelings about the world.”

via BBC News – Why kindness can help businesses grow.

AN : On this Christmas day I gift a thought ….why do acts of kindness have to be random ? Why can they not be sytematic and systemic in our lives and way of doing business ? The Rare Tea Company story profiled in the article shows how successful and good such kindness can be.

Posted December 25, 2012 by arnoneumann in Business, Kindness

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Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes reveals texts from the ancient world discovered by conserving and imaging The Archimedes Palimpsest   Leave a comment

“Discoveries in The Archimedes Palimpsest

Archimedes, in his treatise The Method of Mechanical Theorems, works with the concept of absolute infinity, and this Palimpsest contains the only surviving copy of this important treatise. He claims that two different sets of lines are equal in multitude, even though it is clearly understood that they are infinite. This approach is remarkably similar to 16th- and 17th-century works leading to the invention of the calculus.

Also found only in the Palimpsest is Archimedes’ Stomachion.  It is the earliest existing western treatise concerning combinatorics. It is thought that Archimedes was trying to discover how many ways you could recombine 14 fixed pieces and still make a perfect square. The answer is high and counterintuitive at 17,152 combinations. Combinatorics is critical in modern computing.

In addition to Archimedes’ works, six other erased books of history and philosophy were discovered. Twenty pages of the Palimpsest were created from the erased texts of ten pages from a manuscript containing speeches by Hyperides, an Athenian orator from the golden age of Greek democracy. Twenty-eight pages were from the erased text of 14 pages containing a Commentary on the Categories of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle’s Categories is a fundamental text to western philosophy. This commentary survives nowhere else.

When the Palimpsest was imaged at SSRL, the name of the scribe that erased Archimedes’ writings was discovered on the first page of the Palimpsest. His name was Johannes Myronas, and he finished transcribing the prayers on April 14, 1229, in Jerusalem.

via Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes, opening at the Walters Oct. 16, 2011, reveals texts from the ancient world discovered by conserving and imaging The Archimedes Palimpsest.

AN : an arduous task and facinating story and exhibit at The Walters Art Museum in Balimore Maryland,USA. Innovation that goes back to Archimedes time (0212 BC ) and 1229 AD and 1998 AD :

“Archimedes lived in the Greek city of Syracuse in the third century B.C. He was a brilliant mathematician, physicist, inventor, engineer and astronomer. In 10th-century Constantinople (present day Istanbul), an anonymous scribe copied the Archimedes treatise in the original Greek onto parchment. In the 13th century, a monk erased the Archimedes text, cut the pages along the center fold, rotated the leaves 90 degrees and folded them in half. The parchment was then recycled, together with the parchment of other books, to create a Greek Orthodox prayer book. This process is called palimpsesting; the result of the process is a palimpsest.

On Oct. 28, 1998, The Archimedes Palimpsest was purchased at Christie’s by an anonymous collector for two million dollars. It is considered by many to be the most important scientific manuscript ever sold at auction because it contains Archimedes’ erased texts.

“The collector deposited the Palimpsest at the Walters for conservation, imaging, study and exhibition in 1999, but many thought that nothing more could be recovered from this book. It was in horrible condition, having suffered a thousand years of weather, travel and abuse,” said Archimedes Project Director and Walters Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books Will Noel. “Detailed detective work and the serendipitous discovery of important documents and photographs allowed us to reconstruct what happened to the Palimpsest in the 20th century, when it was subject to appalling treatment and overpainted with forgeries. A team of devoted scholars using the latest imaging technology was able to reveal and decipher the original text.”

Before imaging could begin, the manuscript had to be stabilized. Conserving the manuscript took 12 years, including four years just to take the book apart due to the fragile nature of parchment damaged by mold and a spine covered in modern synthetic glue.

“I documented everything and saved all of the tiny pieces from the book, including paint chips, parchment fragments and thread, and put them into sleeves so we knew what pages they came from,” said Abigail Quandt, Walters senior conservator of manuscripts and rare books. “I stabilized the flaking ink on the parchment using a gelatin solution, made innumerable repairs with Japanese paper and reattached separated folios.”

In 2000, a team began recovering the erased texts. They used imaging techniques that rely on the processing of different wavelengths of infrared, visible and ultraviolet light in a technique called multispectral imaging. By employing different processing techniques, including Principal Components Analysis, text was exposed that had not been seen in a thousand years.

By 2004, about 80% of the manuscript had been imaged. The most difficult pages left were covered with a layer of grime or 20th-century painted forgeries. These leaves were brought to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), one of the most advanced light laboratories in the world, where a tiny but powerful x-ray beam scanned the leaves. The x-rays detected and recorded where beams bounced off iron atoms, and since the ink of the Palimpsest’s under text is written with iron, the writing on the page could be mapped. This enabled scholars to read large sections of previously hidden text.”

http://goo.gl/swzPb

Posted December 14, 2012 by arnoneumann in History, Mathamatics

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Ravi Shankar, Who Brought Eastern Music To Western Legends, Dies : The Record : NPR   Leave a comment

“Sitar master and composer Ravi Shankar died Tuesday at a hospital near his home in the San Diego area. Shankar’s foundation released a statement that says the musician had suffered from upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last week. He was 92.

When he was just 10 years old, Pandit Ravi Shankar began performing in Europe and the U.S. with his family’s Indian dance troupe. It was a glamorous life: the best hotels, the best meals, celebrities coming backstage to say just how much they’d enjoyed the concert. But at age 18, Shankar gave up all the glitter and went back to a dusty little town in India to study with a guru who taught him the sitar. He apprenticed for years, then started to play in public on the ancient and difficult string instrument. Eventually, he became a master.

Shankar’s music is like a fine Indian sari — silken, swirling, exotic, it can break your heart with its beauty. He was a respected classical musician, but in 1966 he became an international superstar when George Harrison studied with him. Shankar’s goal to make Eastern music known in the West was achieved with help from The Beatles, though he grew discouraged by the hippie scene, where drugs clouded the attention of his audience.

 

Back in India, Shankar wrote sitar concerts for Western symphony orchestras and continued touring. The composer and performer remained a teacher too. In December of 2004, when I visited his home in New Delhi, the sitar master was still giving lessons. He sat on the carpeted floor in an old brown sweater vest playing simple exercises; his sitar filled the room with feeling.

 

“[This music] is sort of is a combination of shanta and karuna, which means tranquility and sadness,” he said of the piece he was playing. “This sadness is … like wanting to reach out [for something] and not finding it, whether for a lover or for God.”

 

Shankar’s music reached out to some of the West’s finest musicians. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin and composer Philip Glass were friends and collaborators. One of today’s top pop stars, Grammy winner Norah Jones, is Shankar’s daughter. Another daughter, Anoushka, learned sitar from her father, and now takes his classical tradition and makes it more contemporary.

 

A few winters ago in Delhi, remembering those demanding early years of sitar studies, Ravi Shankar said his guru’s most important lesson was this: “He says that we have to earn our livelihood, and for that we have to perform and accept money. But music is not for sale. The music that I have learned and want to give is like worshiping God. It’s absolutely like a prayer.”

 

Shankar once said he felt ecstasy when he made music — the world was erased, and he experienced great peace. His music embraced and lifted those who heard and loved it, his widow Sukanya, his daughters and his many fans.”

AN: a great musician and a great man. It takes couragee, leadership and dedication to achieve the stature of musician and life that Ravi did. A great loss.

http://goo.gl/nSWkG

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via Ravi Shankar, Who Brought Eastern Music To Western Legends, Dies : The Record : NPR.

Posted December 11, 2012 by arnoneumann in Musician, Ravi Shankar

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Scanadu’s Tricorder, the Scout: Not carbon-based, but effective | The Economist   Leave a comment

“WALTER DE BROUWER’S company has built a working prototype of a hand-held medical diagnostic system. Doctors may fret, but there will always be a need for their skills.”

AN : from the realm of Trekkie Science Fiction to the realistic. Facinating approach to vital medical diagnostics using a specialized tool and the ubiquitous smartphone.

http://goo.gl/BWFp4

via Scanadu’s Tricorder, the Scout: Not carbon-based, but effective | The Economist.

Posted December 9, 2012 by arnoneumann in Futurist, Medicine

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Tech & the City – Next American City   Leave a comment

“New York City’s tech sector might not yet be at critical mass. But it’s booming by nearly every measure. By some, it has transformed itself into a tech city second only to Silicon Valley. Research from the Center for an Urban Future found that some 486 New York City start-ups created since 2007 have gotten some form of private investment, including from angel investors or venture capitalists. The New York Tech Meetup, a monthly geek revival, regularly fills NYU’s 870-seat Skirball Center theater, with additional $10 tickets sold to watch the demos and presentations from an overflow venue. Half of the nearly 300 start-ups on a “Made in New York City” list maintained by the Meetup recently reported that they were hiring.

Cornell’s long-standing academic reputation and Technion’s proven industry expertise were no doubt appealing, says Pinsky, but what was otherwise so attractive about the bid was the schools’ embrace of what’s already taking place in New York City. “Cornell and the Technion basically asked the question the same way” as the city saw it, says Pinsky. “What they asked was, ‘What are the issues we should be tackling given the competitive advantages of the city?’” That the schools were talking about “hubs” and “connective media,” not “majors” and “computer science,” told officials that they were willing to tinker with their academic models, with New York City itself as their muse.”

AN : great, longer article about the technology Hub and growth  in NYC. Roosevelt Is. to be site for Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, or TCII.

http://goo.gl/pg7GG

via Tech & the City – Next American City.

Posted December 5, 2012 by arnoneumann in Israel, New York, Technology

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Top five regrets of the dying   1 comment

“There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” ”

via Top five regrets of the dying.

AN : why is this a ” Big Think ” ?

Nothing is more sombre or sobering than the realization of our human fraility and physical finiteness. I think of Steve Job’s Stanford commencement address, June 2005 and think though we can be more than conquerers of the fear of death by living fully !

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/09/steve-jobs-stanford-commencement-address

Posted December 2, 2012 by arnoneumann in Hospice, Palliative

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