December 2008
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Day December 5, 2008

Walls of the Temple

A note today to all empire builders: If you leave your ancient temples laying about, then curious children and cats are likely to go within them. Who knows what will happen to them there?

Listening today (off and on) to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Thus far, it seems a decent enough book and it’s about time someone conducted a thorough critique of commonly-held notions about the origin of success (particularly in the wake of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s fascinating Black Swan).

Early in the book, Gladwell puts forth the figure of 10,000 hours as the amount of time needed to fully master a given area of study. That seems about right to me — provided the person “paying their dues” is engaging in the process in a focused way. You can’t master anything if you don’t engage with it whole-heartedly… or, perhaps, whole-headedly.

Just about two years ago, I started doing a daily sketch for the purpose of mastering the creation of art. According to Gladwell, the people who really excel practice their craft approximately 20 hours per week for about 10 years. Right now, I’m putting in about that much time — an hour a day in sketching and between two to four hours almost every night — but it can get pretty spotty when other things take precedence. How much further do I have to go at this pace?

Wait — don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.

Bookmarks for December 5th

  • ABC3D – What an amazing little book.
  • American Pain Society – Virtual Reality Pain Distraction – “In preliminary clinical studies, researchers have found that immersive VR distraction can reduce patient’s pain ratings during severe burn wound care by 30%–50%.” Yet another reason to enjoy video games.
  • Odd Squid Thing – The Shell Oil Company brings us new footage of the doom of our species. Mark these words, humans: You need to create magnet programs dedicated to draining the oceans and communicating with their elbowed denizens at once. Oh — and news flash: You don’t have to have opposable thumbs if you have nineteen arms.
  • Tilted Twister – Lego NXT Rubik’s Cube solver – I’m always impressed at the engineering of automated Rubik’s Cube solvers. So nifty.