January 18, 2012
October 6, 2011
October 5, 2011
March 27, 2011
Mind blowing! Just think about the guy filming this calmly while his life is under real threat.
March 23, 2011
May 19, 2010
Here is a cool graphic from ‘information is beautiful’ site.
May 8, 2010
April 12, 2010
You may not yet be aware, though, of another notable improvement to insurance, a change that could save a consumer or family hundreds of dollars a year. Under the new law, insurers must offer preventive services — like immunizations, cancer screenings and checkups — to consumers as part of the insurance policy, at no additional out-of-pocket charge.
The idea is that healthy Americans will be less costly Americans.
“This is transformative,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit organization for large employers. “We’re moving from an insurance model that was based on treating illness and injury, to a model that’s focused on improving an individual’s health and identifying risk factors.”
The trend toward offering free preventive care has been gaining steam for a decade among large companies that provide employee health benefits. “Employers recognize that if they want to control costs, they have to persuade their workers to be healthier, including their children,” Ms. Darling said.
Three out of four large companies now offer free preventive health services to their workers, according to a 2009 survey by Mercer, a benefits consulting firm. Smaller employers, though, and individual health plans have been less likely to offer free care of any type.
But under the new law, more generous “wellness” benefits should eventually be available to almost all Americans with insurance.
“Eventually” is the operable word, though. Although this feature of the law goes into effect at the end of September, it will apply to new insurance policies only. That means if you switch to a different policy, or buy a new one, the preventive services will be offered.
This is a very good thing in the long term. Current US Healthcare incetivizes treatment as opposed to prevention. This is one of the reasons for the high healthcare costs. Offering free preventive care will serve to reduce expensive treatment in the long run and lower costs.
December 25, 2009
One of Malcolm Gladwell’s famous books is the tipping point where he writes about the importance of the influencers in spreading ideas. Duncan watts disagrees.
Don’t get Duncan Watts started on the Hush Puppies. “Oh, God,” he groans when the subject comes up. “Not them.” The Hush Puppies in question are the ones that kick off The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller about how trends work. As Gladwell tells it, the fuzzy footwear was a dying brand by late 1994–until a few New York hipsters brought it back from the brink. Other fashionistas followed suit, whereupon the cool kids copied them, the less-cool kids copied them, and so on, until, voilà! Within two years, sales of Hush Puppies had exploded by a stunning 5,000%, without a penny spent on advertising. All because, as Gladwell puts it, a tiny number of superinfluential types (”Twenty? Fifty? One hundred–at the most?”) began wearing the shoes.
These tastemakers, Gladwell concluded, are the spark behind any successful trend. “What we are really saying,” he writes, “is that in a given process or system, some people matter more than others.” In modern marketing, this idea–that a tiny cadre of connected people triggers trends–is enormously seductive. It is the very premise of viral and word-of-mouth campaigns: Reach those rare, all-powerful folks, and you’ll reach everyone else through them, basically for free. Loosely, this is referred to as the Influentials theory, and while it has been a marketing touchstone for 50 years, it has recently reentered the mainstream imagination via thousands of marketing studies and a host of best-selling books. In addition to The Tipping Point, there was The Influentials, by marketing gurus Ed Keller and Jon Berry, as well as the gospel according to PR firms such as Burson-Marsteller, which claims “E-Fluentials” can “make or break a brand.” According to MarketingVOX, an online marketing news journal, more than $1 billion is spent a year on word-of-mouth campaigns targeting Influentials, an amount growing at 36% a year, faster than any other part of marketing and advertising. That’s on top of billions more in PR and ads leveled at the cognoscenti.
Yet, if you believe Watts, all that money and effort is being wasted. Because according to him, Influentials have no such effect. Indeed, they have no special role in trends at all.
In the past few years, Watts–a network-theory scientist who recently took a sabbatical from Columbia University and is now working for–has performed a series of controversial, barn-burning experiments challenging the whole Influentials thesis. He has analyzed email patterns and found that highly connected people are not, in fact, crucial social hubs. He has written computer models of rumor spreading and found that your average slob is just as likely as a well-connected person to start a huge new trend. And last year, Watts demonstrated that even the breakout success of a hot new pop band might be nearly random. Any attempt to engineer success through Influentials, he argues, is almost certainly doomed to failure.
“It just doesn’t work,” Watts says, when I meet him at his gray cubicle at Yahoo Research in midtown Manhattan, which is unadorned except for a whiteboard crammed with equations. “A rare bunch of cool people just don’t have that power. And when you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart. There’s no there there.”
September 13, 2009
RIP Norman Borlaug.
If anyone wants a role model for using technology to make a huge impact in the lives of people look no further than Norman Borlaug. He died today at the age of 95. He was credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives for his agricultural inventions of high yeild crops that lead to the green revolution in countries such as india.
DALLAS – Agricultural scientist Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in , a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95., the father of the “ ” who won the
Borlaug died just before 11 p.m. Saturday at his home in Dallas from complications of cancer, said school spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips. Phillips said Borlaug’s granddaughter told her about his death. Borlaug was a distinguished professor at the university in College Station.
The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.
Thanks to the green revolution, world food production more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled over the period.
“We would like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind,” his children said in a statement. “One of his favorite quotes was, ‘Reach for the stars. Although you will never touch them, if you reach hard enough, you will find that you get a little ’star dust’ on you in the process.’”
Equal parts scientist and humanitarian, the Iowa-born Borlaug realized improved crop varieties were just part of the answer, and pressed governments for farmer-friendly economic policies and improved infrastructure to make markets accessible. A 2006 book about Borlaug is titled “The Man Who Fed the World.”
“He has probably done more and is known by fewer people than anybody that has done that much,” said Dr. Ed Runge, retired head ofof Soil and Crop Sciences and a close friend who persuaded Borlaug to teach at the school. “He made the world a better place — a much better place. He had people helping him, but he was the driving force.”
The world needs more Borlaugs. RIP Prof. Borlaug.