Are you smarter than a high school student?

When researchers put the following three problems to 3400 students in the US, only 17 per cent got all three right. Can you do any better?

1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2) If it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3) In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it?

[For answers, see below]

Answers: 1) 5 cents, 2) 5 minutes, 3) 47 days

Source: Shane Frederick, 2005


Words of Wisdom

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss


Leonardo da Vinci’s resume

Looking for jobs is not hard… Getting favorable responses based around bullet points of your 10 year career on a single 8×11 piece of paper is frustrating. I’ve spent months writing, rewriting, formating, tweeking and reformating my resume to get it to a state of acceptance by scanners. Then I’ve had to make sure I’m adding the appropriate frequency of action verbs and keywords. Before submission, I’m reediting my resume to tailor it to each job I’m responding to making sure my objective meets that of the position needs and I’m tailoring my cover letter to detail what I can do for my future employer.

Not hard to believe, but resumes have been around for centuries. Before he was famous, before he painted the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, before he invented the helicopter, before he drew the most famous image of man, before he was all of these things, Leonardo da Vinci was an artificer, an armorer, a maker of things that go “boom”.

In 1482, at the age of 30, da Vinci wrote out a letter to Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan listing what abilities he can do in hopes of being hired by a future employer. Here’s a copy of it:

The translation::

“Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvelous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.

Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.”

Now I didn’t paint the altarpiece for the Chapel of St Bernard or work for Andrea di Cione’s studio, however, my skills are quite proficient and I fully intend to be working by April 1st.

Big Daddy Kane – I Get the Job Done

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Happy Valentines

365Project: Can you Love my Face?

Martina Topley-Bird – Valentine

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Sun nien fai lok


It’s the year of the tiger and 2010 will be an excellent year… Get out your 99 Red Balloons and have a living room dance party

Nena – 99 Luftballons

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Cold Day in Chinatown gets Colder

I was walking down Elizabeth St one day near the Blood Church and as I walked past a traffic cop, I saw the usual counterfeit handbag singers with their lamented flyers pulling more tourists aside to show their wares. I supposed that the traffic cops don’t really care but Bloomberg does and he’s been cracking down. That same day, I had my shopping done and as I walked up another block, I saw a “scout” take a call and then broad cast a call. The next thing I know, 8 LV fanny pack wearing ladies scattered like mice when the lights come on.

It was another bust of the Chinatown counterfeit hawkers. As the crackdowns continue, the locals know a slow death of the gritty chinatown we all know is eminet. As the NY Press details, Canal St is in for a big change in the next 6 months: “Very soon, locals say, Canal Street will join Times Square, Astor Place, the Lower East Side, the Garment District and all the other former centers of down-and-dirty capitalist grit that have been safely gentrified.”

Picture was taken this week, on an evening in Chinatown when it was about 15 degrees F. This lady has her own plastic shield to protect her from the icy wind. This was my first take as she didn’t want to have her picture taken from the front. Ah well, I should have bought my mushrooms here first…
Read more here.
Day 29: Cold Day in Chinatown

Cash Rules Everything around Me. Dolla Dolla Bill Yall –
Wu Tang Vs. The Beatles – C.R.E.A.M.

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Politics & Government

The Aristocrats!

The Senator-elect with an impertinent demeanor has a wife with a curious hand. Gail Huff, Scott Brown’s wife and WCVB Boston reporter is also talented in “slipping a mickey“, naturalist swimming and liberating tubes of lotion as seen in this Digney Fignus video from 1982:

Americans are fascinated with celebrity, how do you think Obama actually got elected right? Which means the Brown family is the perfect fit for the times right now. With a daughter on American Idol (Ayla Brown) and another an award-winning equestrian (Arianna Brown), the Brown family have all the non-political elements to keep an American audience captivated in political theater where facts, values and issues are overrated and shock value alone keeps your name in the headlines.

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
~ John Adams quotes (American 2nd US President (1797-1801), 1735-1826)

7 Deadly Sins

The Financial Bridge to Recovery Doesn’t Include Non-Bankers

On the news that the large wall street banks are set to make record payouts again this year, nearly 18 months after the financial meltdown, most people might have a knee jerk reaction of disgust. Alas, no. We need these captains of industry to keep our engines of capitalism running right!?! Right?

Yeah, right into the ground…

With all this talk of change, new regulation and transparency, the success of these banks has not come as a result of any of these factors so the questions continue to be asked. Why did we even bail out the banks if they recovered so quickly, yet main street is still struggling to right their own ships?

Frank Rich has an excellent piece on the “Weapons of Financial Destruction” which are still in place today, and the same result could very well happen again in the near future.

The economy is not all doom and gloom as John Stewart points out:


JS is right, there aren’t really many songs about banks, but Henry Rollins writes a pretty good one from the view point of the Banker themselves:
Henry Rollins – Liar

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Healthy Body Empty Pockets

The healthcare debate seems to have quieted some since the holidays. I understand the Senate and House are trying to reconcile the two bills passed, however, based on the diverse versions either has introduced I’m concerned the end result will be too weak of a bill to amount to any real reform. As someone that currently doesn’t have proper health coverage (Cobra is quite expensive for what I actually receive), I’m again distraught with the modern political process to get anything meaningful passed for the people of this country.

The National Geographic Blog had an interesting graph posted on the difference in just costs of healthcare vs. life expectancy for many world countries ( also posted a similar graph today but the NG one is clearer to me). Most countries have some form of universal healthcare coverage which can’t be said for the US. Regardless of quality, if you live in another country you’re going to get some help without the fear of having to loose your house to get patched up.

The U.S. has a fee-for-service system—paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn’t reliably improve a patient’s health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, “More care does not necessarily mean better care.”

T.R. Reid a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. had a good discussion with NPR on Fresh Air about the differences between what’s offered here in America verses other countries such as France, Japan, Britain, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, and other western countries as compared to what’s offered in communist countries or other less industrialized countries. A big reason why our healthcare is so expensive is that we have all 4 types of healthcare vs. these countries only offer one type of healthcare. Having a system that requires four types of services (4 types of forms etc.) which alone is an administrative nightmare.

I recommend going to the NPR site and downloading this 30 minute podcast to listen to on the way to work or at the gym to just get a brief idea of what’s actually offered in the world. To get more, read the full book.

Central Park NY during the fall 2009

Operation Ivy – Healthy Body

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Festival of Lights

Northern California, for the most part, is predominately Christian, but there’s a larger populous believing in some version of Eastern or New Age ideas (with regards to the Bay Area it’s surprising low to hear “about 1 in 4 Americans believe in Eastern or New Age ideas” from Pew Forum survey). It wasn’t until moving to NY that I was exposed to any Jewish culture that wasn’t read in books. It’s been a welcome education to be immersed in the culture, philosophy, events, art and food of the diverse people of NY and the Jews are a huge part of that here.

The festival of Lights starts today and lasts 8 days where an additional candle is placed in the Menorah from right to left on each night, and then lit from left to right. On the last night, all the candles are lit. Here are a few more trivia bits I’ve picked up.

I ^ Jew York

Chanukah begins four days before the new moon, which is the darkest night of the Kislev month.

Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees or Israelites over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus about 2200 years ago. Chanukah story is not written about in the Torah. It happened several hundred years after the Torah is believed to have been given to the Jewish people, on Mount Sinai.

It takes 44 candles all together to observe all the eight nights of the Chanukah festival. The candles used for lighting Hanukah Menorah are supposed to burn for at least half an hour after the stars come out.

For most of its history, Hanukkah was a minor holiday. It gained popularity in the late 1800s, eventually becoming one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays in the calendar.

Photo by me in a LES bathroom