Findings, Nerdery

The Urgency of Life and Gompertz Law of Human Mortality

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year? Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100? 1 in 10,000? Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.” Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years. For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is a fairly miniscule 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000. When I’m 33 it will be about 1 in 1,500, when I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on. By the time I reach age 100 (and I do plan on it) the probability of living to 101 will only be about 50%. This is seriously fast growth — my mortality rate is increasing exponentially with age.

Just in case you ever needed motivation to start doing the most important things in your life right now.

From Gravity and Levity.

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Findings, Nerdery

Fight Club rules people know

Fight Club rules people know.

The Rules of Fight Club

  1. You do not talk about Fight Club.
  2. You do not talk about Fight Club.
  3. Someone yells, ‘Stop!’ The fight is over.
  4. Only 2 guys to a fight.
  5. One fight at a time, fellas.
  6. No shirts. No shoes.
  7. Fights will go on as long as they have to.
  8. If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

As elucidated by Tyler Durden (AKA Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes):

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Nerdery

A Suggestion for Google Analytics

I use Google Analytics for many sites and I use it pretty much every day. I’m not the world’s best user but I’m reasonably competent. I speak from some experience.

And here’s the single thing that would make the product waaay better: Annotations on the activity timeline.

Because you make changes on an ongoing basis to the reporting. So how about show those changes in a nice little annotation on the timeline. Where possible, make the annotations automatically added, especially if the changes are system defined or parameters.

Then let users add notes to the annotations. Create a logbook of those annotations so you can see the change you made over time in stream outside of the timeline. But also make them available in the timeline, because that’s where you want to see them, because that’s where you see the correlative results of the changes.

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Findings, Nerdery

In Texas, There’s No Business Like ‘Going Out of Business’

When Cyrus Hassankola moved to Dallas a couple of years ago, after successfully going out of business in several locales, he decided to settle down and go out of business permanently.

“The response was good from day one,” the carpet salesman says.

Customers rooting through the stacks of oriental rugs in the store he opened on a busy road in North Dallas would sometimes say how sorry they were that he was going out of business. “We’re not,” Mr. Hassankola told them. “It’s just the name of the store.”

Love the little insights into consumer behaviour, pricing tactics and salesmanship.

From the Wall Street Journal: In Texas, There’s No Business Like ‘Going Out of Business’.

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Findings, Nerdery

95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family

Like all of the best articles from The Onion, the headline tells the whole story, then the story keeps on giving. Peeling back layers, if you will. Adding details to delight.

95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family.

“No one in my family really gets my worldview, so I find it easier just to smile and nod and agree with everything,” Wilmot said Monday. “When I’m with them, I tend to be a lot quieter than when I’m hanging out with friends.”

Wilmot, who grew up in Kalamazoo and now lives in Chicago, described the visit as “seven hours of self-censorship.”

“We’re totally not on the same wavelength at all,” Wilmot said. “I’m not just talking about dangerous subjects like politics or religion, but pretty much everything they bring up–the shows they watch, the things they buy, the people they know. So if someone says Daddy Day Care was hilarious, I may be thinking, ‘I can’t believe Eddie Murphy was once respected as a subversive comic genius,’ but I sure as hell don’t say it.”

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Nerdery

Anyone Can Do It But Few Do It Well

Gartner's Hype Cycle shows the pattern of adoption of new technologies.

Gartner’s Hype Cycle graph.

Grandiose claims have accompanied the spread of the Internet like wetness accompanies water.

Variously, the Internet was going to democratize production and distribution. Was going to disintermediate incumbents. Was going to revolutionize this or that business and business process.

Sometimes these claims came true. More often, they partially came true. Most often, they partially came to fruition and scared the hell out of people. And always, they remain evolving works in progress.

So when I read an article full of triumphalism like Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest about the failure rate of blogs, I know I’m reading a writer who’s missing the story.

  1. Because the failure rate of any new human activity is incredibly high. Diets, anyone?
  2. Because the pronouncements sound so tone deaf to history. They aspire to authority but it’s a trick. They don’t know. They’re guessing too.
  3. Because the best way to get perspective on the way media cover stories is to read old stories. An edition of the NYTimes from a year ago provides way more insight into the way the news gets covered than today’s fresh copy.

As an example, a year ago you could have read that Consumers were facing shrinking lines of credit from banks.

Washington Mutual, one of the nation’s biggest issuers of second mortgages, said in May that it had reduced or suspended about $6 billion of available credit under existing home equity lines. Countrywide, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have made similar moves.

You could also learn that tomatoes contaminated with e-coli bacteria were sickening people in 16 states. But nothing will change and more shit (literally) will get shipped in food.

A mediated worldview emphasizes the far over the near, the exceptional over the mundane and the sensational over the practical.

As a result, people fear dying from terrorist attacks instead of car crashes. We watch reality TV while our natural world degrades.

So while technology has made many things more accessible to us, human nature remains stubbornly resistant to lasting changes. And the changes that get incorporated into our lives seem like they’ve been there for a long time.

The truth remains that anyone can start a blog but few persist. The truth also remains that many people now read and keep blogs and don’t have as much use for the NYTimes.

And this will change too.

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