Outliers – Malcom Gladwell

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Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

“In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.”
- Wikipedia
“…in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.”
- Gladwell

I have been fascinated by the idea of success for most of my adult life. It was actually the people telling me that I was not successful enough that made me even think about it even more. Having the mental capacity to be a doctor or a lawyer has been somewhat of a sentence in some of my families eyes, because by me not becoming one I became a “what could have John accomplished…”

It is obvious for some people that money, status and career are their indicators of success. I personally think of success in other terms. I find success in the people that surround me, the people that I share my life and memories with. That was one of the most fascinating things about reading the book Outliers, that Gladwell opened up with the case study of a whole town that was an outlier, a place where people were actually dieing of simply old age. You can actually read this chapter in the New York times, if you enjoy it pick up the book, it is an excellent and easy read.

Like everything that I have read from Gladwell, you have to make your own observations and conclusions. He gives you the information that he has found about a subject and almost like a great teacher, encourages you take away from it what you want. Besides the strongest messages of equality and opportunity that will breed success in our next generation, the book made me look at my own success a little closer.

While he does not take merit away from the very successful people he takes a look in his book, he does point out that a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. Also perseverance being a very important component to success.

There was actually a chapter that mentions Colombians and culture quite a bit. It was interesting to learn how much your culture affects you in subconscious ways. It also made me see that I have a very mixed culture by growing up both in the U.S and Colombia. Every time I read one of Gladwell’s books I come out very interested in psychology.

The book really did not change my way of gauging success, but it did bring some insight into why some people obtain it and why some don’t. I like the fact that he is very clear about intelligence and its effect of people. Most people would assume that a super high IQ is a sure way to success; however, like I have always believed, almost everyone is capable of learning. It just takes wanting to use that intellect to really accomplish things in life that in the end will make you successful.

Narnia The Exhibition

Union Station and I got to a rocky start when the post I made about bodies revealed created some discussion. I still hold my stance on that topic, but when we were invited to a sneak peak into the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition I had to give it a try.

The first thing I want to say about Union Station is that I am sorry that I did not visit it earlier. Because I commuted into downtown Chicago for a while, I though Union Station was pretty much the same thing. I was very wrong. Union Station has Science City and a Planetarium. It also includes the bar/restaurant hang out area that I was expecting, just like the Union Station in Chicago.

Parking is very convenient and cheap, heck if you time it correctly you can probably park for free. I do warn you, like most exhibitions it ends right into a gift shop with tons of cool stuff that kids are going to want, budget accordingly.

I do have to do a little disclaimer and say that I love the writings of C.S. Lewis, so that might have made the experience a little better for me. They had some of his stuff there to see, and they do talk about him in the beginning of the little tour. Who would have guessed that he was an Einstein fan. ;)

The exhibition is very well put together and has Disney written all over it, but in a good way. I can imagine kids being extremely excited not just to be there, but to be able to touch some of the props they have from the movie. While most of the tour is geared towards fun for the kids and fans of the movie, there is a lot of learning involved too.

If your kids have seen the movie, this is a perfect thing to take them too. Prices are great, specially for groups. I think a mini movie marathon before going to the exhibit would make a kid super happy! Now that kids are out of school, this is probably the perfect way to spend a fun filled day.

Welcome To Your Brain

One of the traits that I admire in people the most is their capability for research or respect for it. Betizuka is reading Angels and Demons and besides cracking up at the joke by Barry “Here’s a spoiler: The Angels did it. And the Demons.” it reminds me a lot about how sometimes science and aspects of our life clash. I don’t think it is just religion that is at odds with science, I think many facets of our life really contradict what science knows or has already proven.

One of the most surprising things I heard during a medical interpreting seminar I attended was how young internal medical science really is. Until not too long ago, a hospital was somewhere you went to die. We all like to think of computers being the field that has changed the most thanks to the microchip, but science as a whole has moved forward quite a bit. So we “know” a lot more than what we did 100 years ago, well some people do.

I recently started reading a book called “Welcome To Your Brain.” I have been amazed at the wealth of information that has been presented in such a simple format. It also has killed many myths that I myself use to believe. The format reminds me of the dummy books, but it is actually a lot more in depth about what is talking about than those. It has also been nice to read that some of the things I thought about were correct, well at least correct from a neurosurgeon’s point of view.

The first myth that was blown out of the water was the “We only use a small % of our brain.” I used to think that there was some unlocked potential there, and while it does seem that some people do turn off logic sometimes, most people use 100% of their brains. You can read about six other myths here and the book goes into great detail about how the myths came about, and what the science behind it is.

The book has a blog, and a lot of the topics in the book have been discussed. Some of the coolest things I have learned (or reaffirmed) after reading the book are the following.

Drinking does not kill brain cells.
Will power improves as we accomplish things, even small ones.
We react before we think. (I learned this from Blink)
Homosexuality has a very strong neurological component to it.
We retrieve memories, erase them and then record them again.
You cannot tickle yourself.
Woman have a disadvantage when it comes to math.
Video games improve brain function.
Love is a drug.

I recommend you read this book. Even if you just go to specific chapters, it is really a good resource for information.

Related Links
Will Power
50 Myths and Truths (in Spanish)
10 Amazing Facts about your brain.

Star Trek (****)

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When I saw Star Wars when I was a kid my mind was expanded, my imagination ran wild and all I wanted was for that little training lazer ball thingie to be real and me to be able to be trained during my Jedi training by it with Yoda supervising. When the prequels were about to come out on theater I had great expectations, one of the biggest mistakes you can do when going to a movie, and the movie was a total letdown. I learned later in life that transformers was just meant as an infomercial with a story to sell toys, but to have Star Wars become the same thing was pretty sad.

When it comes to movies, I sometimes set myself up for letdowns. I have been pretty excited to see what they did with Star Trek since I wrote about the cast being announced back in 07. I knew some of the actors, and was very excited to see what Zachari Quinto and Simon Pegg were going to do with their roles.

Since watching the Star Wars remakes I had started to get used to the idea that I was not able to tap into my inner child to enjoy movies anymore. Even the latest Indiana Jones did not excite my imagination as much as the older ones did. I thought that the Matrix and Blade were going to be the last movies that I would get truly excited about and chucked Transformers coolness to pure sentimentalism for one of my favorite morning cartoons. I figured I would never get goose bumps during a movie again, and that my inner child only came out to play video games.

Then I watched Star Trek this weekend.

Saying that this movie blows StarWars latest trilogy out of the galaxy would be an understatement for the ages. This is entertainment in its best form. Great writing, Great acting, Great special effects… the Summer blockbuster is BACK. I will not talk about the movie or its plot, because you deserve to see it untainted! go see it this week, go to the IMAX, go and experience what I think would be one of the best movies of the year! What are you waiting for?

Advertising and Social Media

One of the first questions that I get from a web savvy person when they see the stats for not just my blog, but the other sites I webmaster is why don’t you monetize it? The answer is quite loaded, since I do have google ads running on a couple of the sites and I have thought about putting more banners here and there. The short answer is because I don’t want this to become work. While I am totally open to the idea of using my web knowledge to make a company’s web presence more successful, taking the “Logtar” brand and making money with it might take some of the cool personal and social aspect away from it. I don’t have to answer to anyone and can post pretty much about anything I want.

That said, I believe that business using social media to reach their customers is one of the best thing that could have happened to advertisement in years. I have felt the advertisement world has been sick for quite some time. I was always annoyed by commercials where at the end I had no clue what the product was even if I could retell the commercial like I wrote the script. Unless they were going for full subliminal, I thought they were not doing a good job at all. Don’t even get me started with what I think of advertisement via blinking banners on the internet.

While Meesha is still very skeptical of the whole thing and pretty much feels like he is being attacked by all fronts from people trying to sell him stuff he does not want. I see the complete opposite. I see myself being closer to the product development and enhancement process than I ever have before. I feel empowered to not just #unfollow a shameless advertiser in twitter, but to support a company that is doing things right by talking about them. I do believe that social media finally earned its 2.0 with being the digital age word of mouth.

Being invited to the blogger/twitter preview of the AMC Mainstreet made me want to go again. It had nothing to do with me being given a free quesadilla or the ability to see a movie before its even on wide release, it had everything to do with the superior movite watching experience they offered. I am glad I gave AMC as a company a second chance because they had really lost me after a visit to the Fork and Screen.

Posting about something even in a negative manner still ranks the online presence higher. Being able to voice my opinion is powerful when you have an audience, and I feel that here in KC the local blogger/twitter group is raising the coolness level of this city. I have learned about more good places to visit in a short period of time than if I would have just visited the travel guide suggestions. I know some people like Meesha want to try everything for themselves first, but I don’t want to try a horrible place if someone else already had the bad experience. I have been told that I saved people a movie ticket with a movie review or at least made them wait until it became a rental.

I don’t think what social media is doing locally or even in a global scale is going to be easily manipulated. I don’t think a free sample makes you obligated to like something you would not already liked in the first place. At least from the places that have contacted me for a review yet, none have come with a “must talk positive about our product” rule, in fact most have wanted a very honest opinion in an effort to make their service of product better.

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