Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Anatomy of a Lightening


                     A lightning strike on the Empire State Building on 7/25/2016:






Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Road Not Taken



Muhammad Ali Only Played Golf Once, But The Story Is Incredible

From ThePostGame.com 

Muhammad Ali always had the swagger of a champ, no matter what he was doing. So when a golf pro asked the boxing great to take a few swings on the driving range, Ali told him he'd never swung a golf club before -- but he was happy to oblige the pro's request.

A first-hand account from Golf Digest's archives tells the story: It was 1973, and Ali had just returned from a boxing training run on the Stardust Country Club golf course. A pro at the time, Brad Wilson, asked if he could take some photos of Ali swinging a club on the driving range.

Ali agreed.

"When Wilson handed Ali an 8-iron, the champ asked, 'How ya hold this thing?'" reports Golf Digest. "After putting Ali's hands on the club in a baseball grip, the next question was, 'What do I do now?'"
At Wilson's encouragement, Ali took a swing and hit the ball 140 yards down the middle. He turned to his trainer, Angelo Dundee.

"Ali crowed, 'How 'bout that Angie! You didn't know I was a champion golfer, did you?' Wilson actually felt that despite the unorthodox look, Ali's swing had some desirable elements: good shoulder turn, flexed knees, led the downswing with hips and legs, right elbow close to the side, head down, right shoulder lower than the left, and eyes remain fixed on the ball."

Ali hit a second ball down the range, and was impressed by his success.

"'Look at that ball go! Nobody can knock the ball that far. Nobody but me, the great, the one and only Muhammad Ali!'" he yelled, per Golf Digest. "A crowd of people started gathering to watch, and that just fueled Ali's stage presence.

"He suddenly jumped away from the ball at one point and raised both hands into the air and crowed, 'Muhammad Ali is the world's greatest golfer! Nobody can beat Muhammad Ali! Not Arnold Palmer, not Jack Nicklaus, not nobody. I'm gonna make 'em look bad, predict the score, how bad I'm gonna beat 'em, everything -- just like I do in boxing!'"

Here are the pictures Wilson took of Ali's swing:

Ali didn't stick with golf, but apparently he took a moment to consider the virtues. After his beautiful shots, he told his trainer: "Hey Angie, let's quit boxing and start playing golf. We'll get rich -- and besides, that ball can't hit back!"

Original Source

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why smart people are better off with fewer friends

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post (March 18, 2016)

Hell might actually be other people  -- at least if you're really smart.

That's the implication of fascinating new research published last month in the British Journal of Psychology. Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University dig in to the question of what makes a life well-lived. While traditionally the domain of priests, philosophers and novelists, in recent years survey researchers, economists, biologists and scientists have been tackling that question.

Kanazawa and Li theorize that the hunter-gatherer lifestyles of our ancient ancestors form the foundation for what make us happy now. "Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors’ life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," they write.

They use what they call "the savanna theory of happiness" to explain two main findings from an analysis of a large national survey (15,000 respondents) of adults aged 18 to 28.

First, they find that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to report less satisfaction with their life overall. "The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy" the survey respondents said they were. Second, they find that the more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness.

But there was one big exception. For more intelligent people, these correlations were diminished or even reversed.

"The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals," they found. And "more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently."

Let me repeat that last one: When smart people spend more time with their friends, it makes them less happy.

Now, the broad contours of both findings are largely uncontroversial. A large body of previous research, for instance, has outlined what some have called an "urban-rural happiness gradient." Kanazawa and Li explain: "Residents of rural areas and small towns are happier than those in suburbs, who in turn are happier than those in small central cities, who in turn are happier than those in large central cities."

Why would high population density cause a person to be less happy? There's a whole body of sociological research addressing this question. But for the most visceral demonstration of the effect, simply take a 45-minute ride on a crowded rush-hour Red Line train and tell me how you feel afterward.

Kanazawa and Li's second finding is a little more interesting. It's no surprise that friend and family connections are generally seen as a foundational component of happiness and well-being. But why would this relationship get turned on its head for really smart people?

I posed this question to Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution researcher who studies the economics of happiness. "The findings in here suggest (and it is no surprise) that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it ... are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective," she said.

Think of the really smart people you know. They may include a doctor trying to cure cancer or a writer working on the great American novel or a human rights lawyer working to protect the most vulnerable people in society. To the extent that frequent social interaction detracts from the pursuit of these goals, it may negatively affect their overall satisfaction with life.

But Kanazawa and Li's savanna theory of happiness offers a different explanation. The idea starts with the premise that the human brain evolved to meet the demands of our ancestral environment on the African savanna, where the population density was akin to what you'd find today in, say, rural Alaska (less than one person per square kilometer). Take a brain evolved for that environment, plop it into today's Manhattan (population density: 27,685 people per square kilometer), and you can see how you'd get some evolutionary friction.

Similarly with friendship: "Our ancestors lived as hunter–gatherers in small bands of about 150 individuals," Kanazawa and Li explain. "In such settings, having frequent contact with lifelong friends and allies was likely necessary for survival and reproduction for both sexes." We remain social creatures today, a reflection of that early reliance on tight-knit social groups.

The typical human life has changed rapidly since then -- back on the savanna we didn't have cars or iPhones or processed food or "Celebrity Apprentice" -- and it's quite possible that our biology hasn't been able to evolve fast enough to keep up. As such, there may be a "mismatch" between what our brains and bodies are designed for, and the world most of us live in now.

To sum it all up: You've heard of the paleo-diet. But are you ready for paleo-happiness?
There's a twist, though, at least as Kanazawa and Li see it. Smarter people may be better equipped to deal with the new (at least from an evolutionary perspective) challenges present-day life throws at us. "More intelligent individuals, who possess higher levels of general intelligence and thus greater ability to solve evolutionarily novel problems, may face less difficulty in comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations," they write.

If you're smarter and more able to adapt to things, you may have an easier time reconciling your evolutionary predispositions with the modern world. So living in a high-population area may have a smaller effect on your overall well-being -- that's what Kanazawa and Li found in their survey analysis. Similarly, smarter people may be better-equipped to jettison that whole hunter-gatherer social network -- especially if they're pursuing some loftier ambition.

It's important to remember that this is an argument Kanazawa and Li are proposing and that it's not settled science. "Paleo-" theories -- the idea that our bodies are best adapted to the environment of our earliest ancestors -- have come under fire in recent years, especially as food companies and some researchers over-hyped the alleged benefits of the paleo-diet fad.

Kanazawa and Li's main findings about population density, social interaction and happiness are relatively uncontroversial. But Brookings' Carol Graham says one potential flaw in their research is that it defines happiness in terms of self-reported life satisfaction ("How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?"), and doesn't consider experienced well-being ("How many times did you laugh yesterday? How many times were you angry?" etc.). Survey researchers know that these two types of questions can lead to very different assessments of well-being.

For their part, Kanazawa and Li maintain that that distinction doesn't matter too much for their savanna theory. "Even though our empirical analyses... used a measure of global life satisfaction, the savanna theory of happiness is not committed to any particular definition and is compatible with any reasonable conception of happiness, subjective well-being, and life satisfaction," they write.
Kanazawa himself is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 he wrote a blog post for Psychology Today entitled "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" The post ignited a firestorm of criticism and was swiftly taken down.

His current research on well-being is not likely to generate as much criticism as that blog post. But the evolutionary perspective on happiness and intelligence is likely to prompt some heated discussion in the field.

In an email, Kanazawa said that his approach to understanding happiness is fundamentally different than the arguments about, say, the benefits of a paleo-diet. "Blindly introducing our ancestors’ diet when we do not have other aspects of the ancestral life seems like a dangerous and nonsensical prescription to me," he said. "I only explain nature; I do not tell people what to do or not to do," he added.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Last Leaf by O. Henry (Text & Audio)


In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called "places." These "places" make strange angles and curves. One street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!

     So, to quaint old Greenwich Village the art people soon came prowling, hunting for north windows and eighteenth-century gables and Dutch attics and low rents. Then they imported some pewter mugs and a chafing dish or two from Sixth Avenue, and became a "colony."
     At the top of a squatty, three story brick Sue and Johnsy had their studio. "Johnsy" was familiar for Joanna. One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met at the table d'hote of an Eighth Street "Delmonico's," and found their tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the studio resulted.
     That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown "places."
     Mr. Pneumonia was not what you would call a chivalric old gentleman. A mite of a little woman with blood thinned by California zephyrs was hardly fair game for the red-fisted, short breathed old duffer. But Johnsy he smote; and she lay scarcely moving, on her painted iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window-panes at the blank side of the next brick house.
     One morning the busy doctor invited Sue into the hallway with a shaggy, gray eyebrow.
"She has one chance in - let us say, ten," he said, as he shook down the mercury in his clinical thermometer. "And that chance is for her to want to live. This way people have of lining-up on the side of the undertaker makes the entire pharmacopoeia look silly. Your little lady has made up her mind that she's not going to get well. Has she anything on her mind?"
     "She - she wanted to paint the Bay of Naples some day," said Sue.
     "Paint? - bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking about twice - a man, for instance?"
     "A man?" said Sue, with a jew's-harp twang in her voice. "Is a man worth - but, no, doctor; there is nothing of the kind."
     "Well, it is the weakness, then," said the doctor. "I will do all that science, so far as it may filter through my efforts, can accomplish. But whenever my patient begins to count the carriages in her funeral procession I subtract 50 per cent. from the curative power of medicines. If you will get her to ask one question about the new winter styles in cloak sleeves I will promise you a one-in-five chance for her, instead of ten."
     After the doctor had gone Sue went into the workroom and cried a Japanese napkin to a pulp. Then she swaggered into Johnsy's room with her drawing board, whistling ragtime.
     Johnsy, lay, scarcely making a ripple under the bedclothes, with her face toward the window. Sue stopped whistling, thinking she was asleep.
     She arranged her board and began a pen and ink drawing to illustrate a magazine story. Young artists must pave their way to Art by drawing pictures for magazine stories that young authors write to pave their way to literature.
     As Sue was sketching a pair of elegant horse-show riding trousers a monocle on the figure of the hero, an Idaho cowboy, she heard a low sound, several times repeated. She went quickly to the bedside.
      Johnsy's eyes were open wide. She was looking out the window and counting - counting backward.
     "Twelve," she said, and a little later "eleven"; and then "ten," and "nine"; and then "eight" and "seven," almost together.
     Sue looked solicitously out the window. What was there to count? There was only a bare, dreary yard to be seen, and the blank side of the brick house twenty feet away. An old, old ivy vine, gnarled and decayed at the roots, climbed half way up the brick wall. The cold breath of autumn had stricken its leaves from the vine until its skeleton branches clung, almost bare, to the crumbling bricks.
     "What is it, dear? Tell your Sudie."
     "Leaves. On the ivy vine. When the last one falls I must go, too. I've known that for three days. Didn't the doctor tell you?"
     "Oh, I never heard of such nonsense," complained Sue, with magnificent scorn. "What have old ivy leaves to do with your getting well? And you used to love that vine, so, you naughty girl. Don't be a goosey. Why, the doctor told me this morning that your chances for getting well real soon were - let's see exactly what he said - he said the chances were ten to one! Why that's almost as good a chance as we have in New York when we ride on the street cars or walk past a new building. Try to take some broth now, and let Sudie go back to her drawing, so she can sell the editor man with it, and buy port wine for her sick child, and pork chops for her greedy self."
     "You needn't get any more wine," said Johnsy, keeping her eyes fixed on the window. "There goes another. No, I don't want any broth. That leaves just four. I want to see the last one fall before it gets dark. Then I'll go too."
     "Johnsy, dear," said Sue, bending over her, "will you promise me to keep your eyes closed, and not look out the window until I am done working? I must hand those drawings in by to-morrow. I need the light, or I could draw the shade down."
     "Couldn't you draw in the other room?" asked Johnsy, coldly.
     "I'd rather be here by you," said Sue. "Besides, I don't want you to keep looking at those silly ivy leaves."
     "Tell me as soon as you have finished," said Johnsy, closing her eyes, and lying white and still as a fallen statue, "because I want to see the last one fall. I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of thinking. I want to turn loose my hold on everything, and go sailing down, down, just like one of those poor, tired leaves."
     "Try to sleep," said Sue. "I must call Behrman up to be my model for the old hermit miner. I'll not be gone a minute. Don't try to move 'til I come back."
     Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the ground floor beneath them. He was past sixty and had a Michael Angelo's Moses beard curling down from the head of a satyr along the body of an imp. Behrman was a failure in art. Forty years he had wielded the brush without getting near enough to touch the hem of his Mistress's robe. He had been always about to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet begun it. For several years he had painted nothing except now and then a daub in the line of commerce or advertising. He earned a little by serving as a model to those young artists in the colony who could not pay the price of a professional. He drank gin to excess, and still talked of his coming masterpiece. For the rest he was a fierce little old man, who scoffed terribly at the softness in any one, and who regarded himself as especial mastiff-in-waiting to protect the two young artists in the studio above.
     Sue found Behrman smelling strongly of juniper berries in his dimly lighted den below. In one corner was a blank canvas on an easel that had been waiting there for twenty-five years to receive the first line of the masterpiece. She told him of Johnsy's fancy, and how she feared she would, indeed light and fragile as a leaf herself, float away, when her slight hold upon the world grew weaker.
     Old Behrman, with his red eyes plainly streaming, shouted his contempt and derision for such idiotic imaginings.
     "Vass!" he cried. "Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for you fool hermit - dunder-head. Vy do you allow dot silly pusiness to come in der brain aof her? Ach, dot poor lettle Miss Yohnsy."
     "She is very ill and weak," said Sue, "and the fever has left her mind morbid and full of strange fancies. Very well, Mr. Behrman, if you do not care to pose for me, you needn't. But I think you are a horrid old-old flibbertigibbet."
     "You are just like a woman!" yelled Behrman. "Who said I will not bose? Go on. I come mit you. For half and hour I haf peen trying to say dot I am ready to bose. Gott! dis is not any blace in which one so gooot as Miss Yohnsy shall lie sick. Some day I vill baint a masterpiece, and ve shall all go away. Gott! yes."
     Johnsy was sleeping when they went upstairs. She pulled the shade down to the window-sill, and motioned Behrman into the other room. In there they peered out the window fearfully at the ivy vine. Then they looked at each other for a moment with out speaking. A persistent, cold rain was falling, mingled with snow. Behrman, in his old blue shirt, took his seat as the hermit miner on an upturned kettle for a rock.
     When Sue awoke from and hour's sleep the next morning she found Johnsy with dull, wide-open eyes staring at the drawn green shade.
     "Pull it up; I want to see," she ordered, in a whisper.
     Wearily Sue obeyed.
     But Loa! after the beating rain and fierce gusts of wind that had endured through the livelong night, there yet stood out against the brick wall one ivy leaf. It was the last on the vine. Still dark green near its stem, but with its serrated edges tinted with the yellow of dissolution and decay, it hung bravely from a branch some twenty feet above the ground.
     "It is the last one," said Johnsy. "I thought it would surely fall during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall to-day, and I shall die at the same time."
     "Dear, dear!" said Sue, leaning her worn face down to the pillow, "think of me, if you won't think of yourself. What would I do?"
     But Johnsy did not answer. The lonesomest thing in all the world is a soul when it is making ready to go on its mysterious, far journey. The fancy seemed to posses her more strongly as one by one the ties that bound her to friendship and to earth were loosed.
     The day wore away, and even though the twilight they could see the lone ivy leaf clinging to its stem against the wall. And then, with the coming of the night the north wind was again down from the low Dutch eaves.
     When it was light enough Johnsy, the merciless, commanded that the shade be raised.
     The ivy leaf was still there.
     Johnsy lay for a long time looking at it. And then she called to Sue, who was stirring her chicken broth over the gas stove.
     "I've been a bad girl, Sudie," said Johnsy. "Something has made that last leaf stay there to show me how wicked I was. It is a sin to want to die. You may bring me a little broth now, and some milk with a little port in it, and - no; bring me a hand-mirror first, and then pack some pillows about me, and I will sit up and watch you cook."
     An hour later she said:
     "Sudie, some day I hope to paint the Bay of Naples."
     The doctor came in the afternoon, and Sue had an excuse to go into the hallway as he left.
     "Even chances," said the doctor, taking Sue's thin shaking hand in his. "With good nursing you'll win. And now I must see another case I have downstairs. Behrman, his name is - some kind of artist, I believe. Pneumonia, too. He is old, weak man, and the attack is acute. There is no hope for him; but he goes to the hospital today to be made more comfortable."
     The next day the doctor said to Sue: "She's out of danger. You've won. Nutrition and care now - that's all."
     And that afternoon Sue came to the bed where Johnsy lay, contentedly knitting a very blue and very useless woollen shoulder scarf, and put one arm around her, pillows and all.
     "I have something to tell you, white mouse," she said. "Mr. Behrman died of pneumonia today in the hospital. He was ill only two days. The janitor found him on the morning of the first day in his room downstairs helpless with pain. His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold. They couldn't imagine where he had been on such a dreadful night. And then they found a lantern, still lighted, and a ladder that had been dragged from its place, and some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it, and - look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf on the wall. Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, it's Behrman's masterpiece - he painted it there the night the last leaf fell."

Monday, January 4, 2016

Autumn Leaves (Eva Cassidy)







    Autumn Leaves
    The falling leaves
    Drift by my window.
    The falling leaves of red and gold.
    I see your lips,
    the summer kisses,
    the sunburned hands I used to hold.
    Since you went away
    the days grow long
    And soon I'll hear old winter song
    But i miss you most of all my darling
    When autumn leaves start to fall
    Since you went away
    the days grow long
    And soon I'll hear old winter song
    But i miss you most of all my darling
    When autumn leaves start to fall
    I miss you most of all my darling
    When autumn leaves start to fall

Lush paddy fields of Nagaland (India) in August


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