Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wealth Coaching: Understanding Wealth Creation III

From Business Day: Wealth Coaching: Understanding Wealth Creation III 

“Many times in life, we find ourselves with a handful of blocks of different sizes and shapes out of which we can build beautiful aspects of life” (Isaac Asimov).
Ignorance, disease, greed and dishonesty are factors that make a community to become poor, and negate community empowerment. Of course, with communal poverty also come attendant problems of learned helplessness and apathy. Ultimately, people give up hope and give in to despair, as they stop being creative in making efforts that would compel personal and communal transformation as they give in to a state of mental poverty. This eventually results in the social problem of communal poverty.
A community is poor when majority of its members are disadvantaged because they are either not empowered or lack wealth creation opportunities. Communal poverty is a particularly damaging social problem resulting from individual members’ lack of capacity to create opportunities for communal wealth and positive shared values within the community. There is therefore uneven distribution of resources and restricted access of the majority to the communal wealth.
Wealth creation is of course the most realistic antidote to personal and communal poverty. It also remains the most sustainable way to reverse any form of poverty, especially mental poverty (or a state of “poverty mentality”). Poverty mentality makes people believe in and share despair, ignorance, hopelessness, helplessness, apathy, and inertia.
Poverty as a social problem requires a realistic socio-economic solution. And, only sustained wealth creation can reverse the dangerous trend of communal poverty. This is through the process of unlocking and unleashing the potentials of individuals within the community to create value through their special skills to benefit self and others.
The key to wealth creation is therefore a combination of three personal attributes. The first is an increase in personal awareness; the second is the personal belief in the ability to create sustainable value and make a real difference; and the third attribute is the energy (passion) to build the capacity to compel change. The combination of these personal attributes results from personal inspiration.
All truly wealthy people are inspired to bring about positive and lasting change in their sphere of influence by motivating and inspiring people to commit to communal transformation and empowerment.
True wealth thus refers to the kind and extent of investments that a person makes in positively impacting people and the community, with or without his material riches. In other words, true wealth is the same thing as exerting positive influence in the process of empowerment.
Wealth creation is a reflection of how you play to your strength the mind games that revolve around your creativity, ideas, finances, contribution to others, investments, spending, saving, entrepreneurship, business, and several others that empower or disempower you. All of these have to do with how we frame our minds in relation to what we think about wealth and being wealthy.
For instance, there is a popular saying that “health is wealth”. The implication or suggestion of this saying is that a person that is enjoying good health is wealthy.
It would therefore imply that a rich man that understands and accepts this belief about wealth would have to invest money, time and other resources to become healthy, and indeed wealthy. Of course the literal meaning of “health is wealth” is that money cannot buy you true health.
So, if you enjoy good health and do not have so much money, or as much money as those that are supposedly rich but not enjoying the best of good health, you can consider yourself to have some level of wealth through your healthy status. Again, it is all a matter of personal mind frames and perceptions, which may not in fact be the truth or express the reality of the situation.
Interestingly, our mind frames are so personal to us because we have formed them based on the meanings that we have attached or given to what we believe. As a result, we are the only ones that can allow the altering of that mind frame and in the process accept an alternative learning process, which makes us to ‘change our mind’ in response to the change of meanings that we now attach to a certain belief.
Our beliefs rule our thoughts and act out our mind frames and the meanings that we associate with specific beliefs. As a result, we are either empowered or weakened by our beliefs and thoughts.
If we really believe that we can do or achieve something, especially if we can harness our internal (mind) resources to propel our belief and we have the capacity to do or achieve the specific goal, we will achieve it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Letters of John Campbell

A couple of days ago I picked up a couple of Kindle books - the letters of John Campbell volumes 1 and 2.

Volume 2 is letters to Asimov and Van Vogt... but not letters *from* them.

Still, I'm sure it'll be interesting once I get in to them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Planets Found in a Cluster of Buzzing Stars

From Universe Today: Planets Found in a Cluster of Buzzing Stars

There’s a classic science fiction story called Nightfall, written by the late-great Isaac Asimov. It’s the tale of a world with six suns that fill the sky with such brightness that the inhabitants have no concept of night. And then one day, a once-in-a-thousand-years alignment causes all the stars to set at once; and everyone goes crazy!
In another case of science following science fiction, NASA-funded astronomers have discovered planets orbiting within a dense cluster of stars called the Beehive Cluster; a collection of 1,000 stars collected around a common center of gravity – Nightfall worlds?!

Well, not so fast. These worlds are “hot Jupiters;” massive, boiling hot planets that orbit their parent star closer than Mercury in our own Solar System. The two new planets have been designated Pr0201b and Pr0211b after “Praesepe”, another name for the Beehive Cluster. Although they aren’t habitable, the view from those planets in a dense cluster of stars would be awe inspiring, with hundreds of stars within a radius of 12 light-years.
Astronomers had long predicted that planets should be common in star clusters. Consider that our own Solar System probably formed within a star forming complex like the Orion Nebula. Then the individual stars drifted away from each other over time, taking their planets with them. The evolution of the Beehive cluster was different, though, with the mutual gravity of the 1,000+ stars holding themselves together over hundreds of millions of years.
“We are detecting more and more planets that can thrive in diverse and extreme environments like these nearby clusters,” said Mario R. Perez, the NASA astrophysics program scientist in the Origins of Solar Systems Program. “Our galaxy contains more than 1,000 of these open clusters, which potentially can present the physical conditions for harboring many more of these giant planets.”
Until now, only two planets had been uncovered around massive stars in star clusters, but none around sun-like stars within these clusters. So the possibility of life was out of the question. These super-jupiters aren’t habitable either, but it’s possible that smaller planets will turn up in time as well.
Beehive Cluster. Image credit: Tom Bash and John Fox/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
Beehive Cluster. Image credit: Tom Bash and John Fox/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
The planets were discovered by using the 1.5-meter Tillinghast telescope at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory near Amado, Arizona to measure the slight gravitational wobble the orbiting planets induce upon their host stars.

This discovery might help astronomers with another mystery that has been puzzling them for a few years: how can hot Jupiters form? How can a massive planet form so close to their parent star? Instead of forming close, it’s possible that the constant gravitational interactions among stars in young clusters push planets back and forth. Some are spun out into space as rogue planets, while others spiral inward and settle into these tight orbits.
Could there be life on Earth-sized worlds within these clusters? Are there civilizations out there who have never known the concept of night?
Probably not.
According to other researchers who released their findings just a week before the Tillinghast study, planets within star clusters like the Beehive probably aren’t habitable. In a paper titled, Can habitable planets form in clustered environments?, a team of European astronomers considered the environmental effects of star clusters on the formation and evolution of planetary systems. According to their simulations, there are just too many dynamic gravitational encounters with other stars in the cluster for any planet to remain long in the habitable zone.
Source: NASA News Release

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sillier Side of Science Gets Its Day in the Sun

From WGBH: The Sillier Side of Science Gets Its Day in the Sun

Influential science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny."

That might be a pretty neat idea for some. Something to consider and then file away, or perhaps forget altogether. For Marc Abrahams, it’s a mission statement.
His organization — Improbable Research — is solely dedicated to shining a spotlight on the sillier and stranger sides of science: research that makes people laugh ... and then think.
They publish a bimonthly magazine and a monthly newsletter. Marc blogs regularly on the Improbable Research website and there is a ton of videos and the like on their YouTube channel.  
But the biggest, brightest feather in Improbable Research's eccentric cap is its annual Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony, where they honor 10 scientists whose stands out for having that peculiar laugh/think quality. Past winners have included a study that details the medical effects of sword swallowing, an examination of the effect of Coca-Cola on sperm motility and an emergency bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks.
And if you are wondering what goes down at the ceremony itself, consider this explainer/endorsement from Boston-area music icon Amanda Palmer:
"It's like the weirdest f-ing thing that you'll ever go to... it's a collection of, like, actual Nobel Prize winners giving away prizes to real scientists for doing f'd-up things... it's awesome."
The man behind the madness, Marc Abrahams, joined Edgar Herwick on BPR to talk more about this year's Ig Nobels and what they mean for the rest of his work at Improbable Research.

YOu need to go to the link above or to Youtube to watch the video of the interview with Abrahams.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Posts resume 24 Sep 2012

My mom, who is 75, wants to go up to teeny tiny town near Rapid City, to see her sister, who is 80. They live in a house in the boonies and have no internet.

I'll be back online on Monday the 24th and promise not to miss another day.

Please bear with me, your patience is appreciated!

Monday, September 17, 2012

If Only This Goes On

From New York Times:  Op ed piece: If Only This Goes On (From Sept 7)

A while back I mentioned, in a quite different context, an essay by Isaac Asimov (?) on Soviet science fiction, in which he argued that the two main themes of Western sci-fi — “what if” and “if only” — were ruled out; instead, writers wrote on the theme “if only this goes on”.
And that was the theme of Obama’s speech last night. And you know what? That was perfectly fine.
Obama couldn’t talk about how wonderful things are, because they aren’t. Nor could he run against his own record. So he had to make the case that things will get much better if he gets a second term, while getting much worse if he doesn’t.
And there’s a lot to that case. If Obama is reelected, we’ll have near-universal health coverage by 2014. That’s a very big thing. Financial reform is also important — and has already been enacted. And there’s a good chance that he’ll get to preside over an economic recovery that will validate his record, too.
There’s been a chorus of disapproval from pundits who wanted … what? It wasn’t appropriate for him to replay the Clinton wonkfest. He wasn’t going to unveil major new proposals. He made the case he needed to make, and did it well.
On a related note, Digby catches National Review portraying Romney and Ryan as Stakhanovites:
Now, back to the hospital.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

question of the day: Why have the works of Isaac Asimov had such a singularly bad record of getting turned into movies?

From Flicvk Philosopher:  question of the day: Why have the works of Isaac Asimov had such a singularly bad record of getting turned into movies?

The only major Hollywood film based on Asimov’s writings is Bicentennial Man, which flopped at the box office and was poorly received by critics. There’s also I, Robot, which did better at the box office and with critics, but is only extremely loosely based on Asimov’s fiction. All of Asimov’s other film and TV credits are for shorts or TV episodes, despite his massive bibliography and general acclaim as one of the grandmasters of science fiction. I’d venture to guess that Asimov’s name is synonymous with science fiction even among the general public who don’t read. It seems like a no-brainer for Hollywood to glom on to Asimov’s reputation to pre-sell films. So why hasn’t it?
Why have the works of Isaac Asimov had such a singularly bad record of getting turned into movies?
My guess: Asimov’s writing isn’t suited to visual storytelling, since it tends to be full of people talking to one another about interesting ideas but not always doing anything with them. Asimov’s fiction may be philosophically provocative, but it’s not generally dramatically interesting.
What do you think?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

HE wrote mysteries?! Isaac Asimov

From KB Owen, Mystery Writer blog:  HE wrote mysteries?! Isaac Asimov

We think of Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) first and foremost as the father of modern science fiction.  He’s especially well-known for his Foundation Trilogy, and his Robot series.  Even outside the world of science fiction fandom, I, Robot is recognized as a blockbuster film, and many of the ideas we have about robots came from him.

Asimov fans may also know that he used to be a biochemistry professor, was friends with writers such as Harlan Ellison, gave advice to his good friend Gene Roddenberry on the making of Star Trek: the Motion Picture (and appears in the screen credits), and had an asteroid named after him.

But we’re going to focus here on his mystery writing.  Most of his mysteries took the form of a short story series, known as The Black Widowers Club.  The Black Widowers Club is a male-only group that meets monthly over dinner in a private dining room.  Asimov’s first short story, “The Acquisitive Chuckle,” describes the group:
…the Black Widowers, who monthly met in their quiet haunt and vowed death to any female who intruded – for that one night per month, at any rate.
Each month, one member brings a guest for the evening, who is treated to a fine meal for the price of presenting a real-life puzzle (that he knows the answer to) which the members must solve.  The group is modeled after a society that Asimov himself belonged to, The Trap-Door Spiders (basically guys getting away from their haranguing wives on a Friday night; very little mystery-solving was involved with the real group).
The first Black Widowers story was published in 1971 in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, with 65 more to follow – some published in EQMM or other magazines over the years, others collected into volumes (although all were eventually collected into anthologies).
Asimov was a big fan of the ratiocinative (thinking) armchair detective, rather than the fists-first, hard-drinking P.I.  He enjoyed Agatha Christie’s detective, Hercule Poirot, and was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a club comprised of Sherlockian aficionados.  So it’s no surprise that his Black Widowers stories are in the style of cozy armchair puzzles.

There’s a definite formula to each of the stories:
  • Opens with banter/light discussion between the regular members (of which there are 7 – plus the waiter, Henry), with a quick set-up of their various professions/quirks
  • Introduction of guest
  • drinks are served; dinner is served
  • Guest is asked the following question: “How do you justify your existence?”
  • Guest answers in some fashion, as a segueway to the puzzle to be presented.
  • Puzzle is presented
  • Henry is clearing the plates and listening
  • Back-and-forth between members and guest to clarify points.
  • Members make guesses, but are wrong/stumped.
  • Members turn to Henry, who (very modestly) solves the puzzle, but doesn’t accept praise, claiming that the members had a hand in it by eliminating all of the other possibilities.
Asimov also wrote a full-length mystery novel, Murder at the ABA (1976), with detective Darius Just, who was modeled after writer friend Harlan Ellison.  (Asimov often created characters in the likenesses of friends and associates).  There are various “cameos” of famous people (including himself, which sort of makes this a work of metafiction): Carl Sagan, Muhammad Ali, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., among others.  Check out the wikipedia entry for more info.