Denise Herzing: Could we speak the language of dolphins?

Total time: 14 minutes, 38 seconds

Current total views to date: 878,320

Ok, first off, Dolphins play games with TOYS!?!  I didn’t know that.

I’ve been to aquariums and marine parks, where Dolphins knock the ball around and leap through hoops, but the notion of wild dolphins playing pickup ‘capture the flag’ games surprises me.  This falls under the ‘everything you know’ is wrong category where I quickly realize my understanding of Dolphins is rather on the meek side.

Looking up ‘dolphins’ on initial searches shows a wealth of information about these cetacean mammals that makes me believe that human fascination with the creatures are akin to an internet viral.

Do you know what I know about Dolphins?  Not much.  And like most people, the information I’ve gained over the years was accidentally absorbed through the medium of television.

Flipper, was an actor.

The Simpsons did a halloween special where Dolphins rose up against humanity.

and this.

Now there was an Orca in that commercial, and (he/she?) happens to be part of the Dolphin species.

Seeing that there are 40 species of dolphins (plus hybrids), there is way too much information to pass along easily.  Just reading the wikipedia is fascinating.

A few items stand out of course:  Historical partnerships with humans and military use.

Starting from Ancient Roman stories, according to Pliny the Elder ( human-dolphin fishing, where dolphins would purposely chase fish into human nets, was thing.  It makes sense, both sides get to chow down on sushi afterwards so I don’t see not.

But could this possibly be happening today?

The answer is, YES and there’s video.

As for military purposes, the dolphins are modern allies, to the point that Russia sold military Dolphins to Iran in 2000?!?

Holy crap, this is also true:

This is definitely one of those things that does not come to mind when wanting to compare military power.

“Ah, well they may be gearing up but how weaponized are their dolphins?  We are decades ahead in weapons grade Dolphinium.” – General Dolphinator

Internet wise, however, I’ve also seen other horrific articles showing that Dolphins are just intelligent enough to be complete dicks.  Note: If you wish to keep a positive view on Dolphins, don’t click the link.  I can only advise that fallacy of hasty generalization.  (The application of few examples to represent all cases)

Of course Herzing doesn’t just cover Dolphins but she also includes samples of communication.  Now communication is something I take consideration in quite often.

I consider it every time I use a conversation opener and the conversation turns into this.

Me: How so?

Them: …  *walks away*

What we have here is a failure to communicate!  And if talking to people is frustrating, I can’t imagine talking with Dolphins to be a joyride through Blowhole city.

Just to go through the thought experiment, how can strangers communicate comfortably?  (By using ‘Strangers’, it allows a natural difference large enough to represent two different species)

What can two people talk about right away?  There are the personal obligations, the options that people cannot avoid in their own lives:  Eating, drinking, maybe sleeping?

Favorite foods or restaurants, alcohols or ways to take their coffee.  How well rested you are for the day’s events.  All these topics are neutral and safe enough to use in a work environment.

Often at one’s deathbed, reflections about life can be summarized as eating, sleeping, sex (Bubba Ho Tep reference)

Sex and Pooping are two topics that although common, are NOT safe neutral topics to discussing.

“Hey, you seem happy.”

“Well, I just took this massive dump in the bathroom there and I feel running around like a cat out of the sandbox.  How’s the sex life?”

“I’m an ugly and am a sexually unwanted cretin, thanks for the reminder!”

Although it’s relatively safe to assume that most mammals have a positive self assertiveness, it is unknown if Dolphins in particular have topics they just don’t like talking about,

Of course, it doesn’t end there because of the concepts of shared experiences.  There are literal shared experiences (like both being stuck on a bus that broke down) but m ore common is to find a popular enough event to forge a commonality upon.

“Did you watch the Superbowl?  Where were you when Kennedy was shot?  When did you first learn the concept of twerking?”

The common experience is another very safe topic but it does bring up competing levels of expertise and possible conflicts of interest.

“Flipper, did you notice the water suddenly got warmer?”

*Dolphin laughs, swims away*

*Dolphin squeaks* <Look out, whale.>

“That’s no whale, that’s my husband.”

And other conversations like this could probably occur, eventually.

However, there are natural boundaries blocking even people from communicating that extend beyond common bonds and mutual interests/goals.  Two of these are:

The 30 point IQ gap, 10,000 hours to master a skill.

What are these?  Why?  The 30 point IQ gap is a hypothetical concept that communication breaks down between individuals when there is a large enough difference in intelligence (by a standard of two deviations, or 30 IQ points)  See Leta Hollingworth:

In this particular case, it is in reference to ‘higher IQ’ children leading other children, a false bias that extends into ‘the leader, MUST be smarter’ in adulthood.  Worse, is the Dunning-Kruger effect, where illusory superiority, creates ‘classic’ bad management scenarios.

It’s highly unlikely that Dolphins are going through something as complicated as this in their social circles, however it does pose the question that IF Herzing is working strictly with only other scientists, they might be missing a rapport that might exist on a different IQ range.  (And this might explain why I get along with pets better than their own owners because I am.. derp)

As for 10,000 hours (which is probably how long I’ve been writing this entry), is the ‘mastering’ of a skillset via 10,000 hours of practice.  Two individuals, might be at measurements of 200 hours vs 9,000 hours and thus have two very ‘different’ methods despite sharing the same opinion.

Another way to describe it, are the ‘have been single forever’ types who have spent 10k hours developing social skills that in comparison, others may have barely scratched the surface on.

“Tonight is dragon boat racing, tomorrow is the tea club, weekends are the charity auction dances and self improvement clubs.”

“Wow, after I got married after high school, all I’ve been doing is raise my kids.”

“I am far better at meeting new people, dealing with others and finding common interests, and yet I still hate you.”

This most likely isn’t a problem as Herzing is monitoring multiple generations of dolphins, but it is interesting food for thought.  Or atleast, that’s how I’m going to communicate it.

Mental note: Bring a sound board to work and try to instill a sound/image to my boss with ‘Give me a Raise”.

Hey, y’never know.

So long and thanks for the share (and all the fish),


Bonus video!  (Only because it’s funny)

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


Scott McCloud: The visual magic of comics

It’s a new year!

In 2013 there were approximately half as many EdTalksTed posts (in comparison to 2012) but overall traffic more than doubled, thus leading me to believe that if I posted only once this year it’ll go viral.

(I don’t think so.)

Much to my surprise, 2013 also included the first time some Ted speakers took the time to contact me and thank me for carrying on their conversation.  (Even when I’m making butt jokes.)

Scott has a remarkable opening about family and expectations that drew me in quicker than most speakers, not only was it an interesting diversion from the expected topic but it also showed a great deal of his persona on stage.  The individual who he was trying to convey included one not only of being part of a comic artist but being part of a family that he felt was larger than he was.

In any case, here’s the talk.

Total views to date: 645,220

Total Time: 17 minutes, 6 seconds

Posted: Jan 2009

It doesn’t very long to realize that not only is McCloud very well spoken but in a case similar to most when trying to convey a complicated meaning, he needs to be a bit long winded.  (This also a reminder of when I started with 7,500 word blog posts)

Now McCloud brings up several beautiful patterns that he identifies, the evolution of how we came to digest the medium in its current form and his own philosophical hopes of how the digital age can embrace comics as an artistic expression.  Considering it’s all done in a whirlwind of images and jokes, let’s see if we can break it down.

McCloud’s three types of vision, where each classification excludes the other.

(Try not to go too blind with the terrible visuals)


To McCloud’s four types of comics  (All of which can overlap each other)


Why am I including these terribly made MS Paint images?  One, to show that I wish this computer had better applications, even maybe MSOffice (a spreadsheet in Excel would have looked better) and two, that even subtle changes like ‘font’ can create classifications in an immediate identifiable manner (just look at them!).  McCloud makes his point in that not only does art style show the flavor of the message but as he noted via McLuhan, the medium actually conveys a message in itself.

“The medium is the message.” – McCluhan

McCloud also briefly mentions Jung’s four psychological functions as another parallel but doesn’t describe it.  So I’ll try to briefly list them here:

Jung’s Four Psychological functions is Jung’s description of how humans become capable of conscious, and subsequently acquire knowledge (of themselves and the world).  These four functions are Intuition, Sensation, Feeling and Thinking.

Intuition – perception of unconscious events

Sensation – perception by the five senses

Feeling – subjective evaluation

Thinking – function of intellectual cognition

There literally are 36 hour long lectures out there which cover this topic so its quite unfeasible to explain it all, which might be why he just dropped it and moved on.

Long story short, French philosophical seagull says, “Pourquoi?”

Frankly, I don’t think seagulls sound like that.  They more go “EEEK EEK CAWW CAWW” which isn’t very helpful.. to anything.

McCloud then goes into how the monitor if used as a window, allows impossible art, or the ability to ‘circle again’ and show the comic medium on how it was originally presented in one long scrolling tapestry.

As an individual who still reads the odd comic book only through the digital medium, I can easily state that isn’t the norm.  There still exists costs (time/money/work) involved which make the efforts required to not balance with the outcome.  (eg> how much MORE money it would earn by having it)

On the other hand, there are more that have tried to explore the medium.

XKCD had created a comic entitled ‘Time’, where it was posted online and periodically the image was updated to a slightly altered image, creating a slow movie of sorts that expanded well beyond a normal comic post.  (linked below is a player that will run through all 3099 images)

XKCD”s Click and Drag: (an example of the ‘endless canvass’)

The Order of the Stick’s #443, where one of the hero’s falls to his death in an ‘impossible to print’ column that scrolls downward.

(Inadvertently, this phenomenon also occurs on the webcomic Weekend Pass (, where the characters slowly move across a huge background, but that is an afterthought that isn’t near as impacting as the examples above)

Now it isn’t that ‘standard’ comics haven’t tried to change their delivery.  The explosion of smart phones now occupying the market has forced comics to enter an ‘altered state’ in order for their content to be consumed by the handheld.

Apps such as ComiXology provide not only a means to purchase comics from your phone, but it also doubles as a reader where you can read the comic with pre-defined scrolling with magnifications so one can read the comic with simple swipes.

Videogames, have done something similar as well in designer’s attempts to constantly create original content.  This past year showed one of the most innovative games, Device6, a book / puzzle game which is read along all four sides of a handheld that has already won IGN’s Game of the Year (2013) on iOS.

McCloud’s final take away is that whenever we re-observe our world in a different ‘window’, we gain a new understanding of our own world.

This is a statement that has never been more true.

Earthrise (Image credit: NASA)

Explore and share,


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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Sebastian Wernicke: Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks)

This is one of those Ted talks that I’ve considered writing about back when I had first started.  (I even had to double check my history to make certain I didn’t write about it already.)

It is a very entertaining piece about the meta data of Ted Talks and how at the end of it all, everything can be summarized ‘poorly’ using data science.

Views to date: 1,355,648

Now I do enjoy a good statistic, its a topic I don’t talk frequently enough about.

Odds are, statistics aren’t pointed out.  (give or take a 5 percent variance)


Ah forget the failed attempts of humor, here’s some quick factoids that this TED Talk brought to mind.

The term, “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” is a commonly used saying made popular by Mark Twain in 1906 when he published “Chapters from My Autobiography”.  The statement itself was a variation on another phrase used much earlier in 1885 (just not as popular) in the description of witnesses: “Liars, damned liars, and experts.”

Statistics, represents that expert which is also a jerk.  As it has also become incredibly common to use numbers in everyday use from commercials (“3 out of 4 dentists agree”), symbolic translations (“your voice is currently at a 7, I need you to be at a 3”) and of course, the modern day meme (“its over 9,000!”)

Interestingly enough, the very first time I heard the phrase, it was uttered by the villain known as ‘The Penguin’ in the issue where Batman fights The Actuary!  (Detective Comics #683)

Little more on the history of the phrase here:,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

And a link for more Batman:

(Why does it mostly just show the cover?  Well as people we relate to pictures, etc etc)

Of the three topics he did statistical analysis for: topic, delivery and visuals

If we wanted to find where the statistics ‘lie’, it would be in the correlation between these three (plus an unmentioned fourth).  In other words, chances are for a very technical Ted talk (topic) will be using technical jargon (in its delivery) and images used are more for proof of concept rather than pure entertainment (aka having visuals that make you wish you were blind). 

In other words, if the topic is about apples, it will also include the words like ‘delicious’ and involve colors like red and green.  If a Ted Topic is happens to be popular, the accompanying words and images will be popular.

And that is where the fourth element kicks in, the would be the audience member.  Going on a ‘statistical guesstimate’, I’d stake that audience members who believe the ‘average joe’ would enjoy the Ted Talk would be shared more often (and those that require an engineering degree to appreciate, might only be shared among fellow engineers).

The one thing that Ted Talk statistics can’t account for, is the changing platform of people’s tastes.

Statistics, from the internet I stab at thee!

Lies, Damned Lies and Share,


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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Stefan Larsson: What doctors can learn from each other

Doctor Who celebrates its 50th Birthday!  Oh and a Ted talk involving Doctors.

I think I have a attitude which is becoming more common towards doctors and health care these days. 

Trust no one!

Why or where this attitude came about, I have no explanation.  I do not work in a hospital or am beside medical practitioners and I have no insight into their conversations behind closed doors.  The closest interactions I had were with students (or doctors in training, so to speak) who did nothing but talk about the mad profit they’d be earning the moment they graduated.

Hmm.. Maybe that’s when the seed of distrust was planted.

On the other hand, there’s something else about people that does become quite clear to me when I happen to come across it.

Now before going into a full description, its probably an easy guess that I’m a fan of games (nerd).  I’ve played poker events, thousands of chess games and dozens of other tournaments in easily a dozen different categories.  If there was something common among all of them, it is that a player can become ‘on tilt’.

It might happen after a disappointing loss, or if there are personal problems or sometimes if you’ve just been on your feet for too long.  It can make you abrasive, abrupt or simply less responsive.  I once went on tilt (due to a bad romance) and even though I was playing ‘chess by email’ and I had plenty of time to think, the best logical moves I made were no where NEAR my standard level of play.  The best course of action I could come up with was short of where I would normally be, but even more oddly, I didn’t even realize it.  I honestly believed I was making the best moves I could make, even though they were half as good as they normally were.

Why is that important to this?

Half of the time I would meet someone related to the medical industry, I’d say that the person was ‘On Tilt’. (see descriptions above)

These weren’t situations where there was a room of a hundred patients waiting just down the hall.  This would be at casual events far removed from the work place.  Maybe they were overworked, maybe they had eaten a bad piece of cheese but in any case, the competitive side of mind could tell that they weren’t in the mindset to be making optimal decisions.

Larsson’s talk, eases my mind about it all.  Similar as we can tell bad stories on our online wall, innovations can be shared amongst professionals.  In essence, Larsson is talking about using the hive mind to fine tune the processes that exist.  That even if ‘On Tilt’, its still the better decision because its no longer relying on just the lone entity.

Filmed: Oct 2013

Current number of views: 167,960

It shouldn’t come to surprise then, that I immediately thought after the talk, “Wasn’t this already happening!?”  Shouldn’t doctors be constantly attending conferences and attaining weekly newsletters detailing the latest and greatest methodologies?

The answer is yes they are, but much like any other conference and news letter, it’s also a dated system of information relaying that is also being filtered before sharing.  It’s a system that works but at a speed that is slow or difficult to implement (although it’s situation dependent).  Worse, there also exists a natural trepidation regarding accepting anything new. 

One of the hallmarks of innovation is that it questions the previous incarnation or process as possibly replaceable. 

Replacing things is expensive.  The benefit from the cost of doing so often requires a great deal of justification.  Unfortunately, after a short while the situation might become like the tools used when Jack Nicholson became the Joker in Batman. 

This, although a successful operation, was also clearly a failure of patient trust.  He should, in the very least, have made a referral before handing him the mirror.  What does this teach?  If you end at yourself being the single ultimate authority, you end up getting a crazy guy dressed in purple suits terrorizing Gotham.

And that is probably where the greatest amount of distrust may stem from, that standing from a position where a doctor ‘cannot learn more’ from where she/he graduated with, is obviously false.  Its a false concept visible to everyone, especially to patients. (And a partial reason why alternate methods become popular)

The notion of doctors talking to LEARN from each other, admits a certain level of humility that isn’t always visible. 

In any case, it is a great idea and one definitely worth sharing.


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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


National Novel Writing Month

Happy Post Halloween!

And this entry is a quick aside from the TED Talks that I love to scour over.

It’s November and that means it’s also Movember.  (Note: I had covered a TED Talk about this topic last year at this time)  However, there is also another project that I (hopelessly) try to follow in November as well.   It’s called NANOWRIMO, aka National Novel Writing Month (Isn’t that clever?)

Writing in itself is an art form, and like any skill, it requires practice.  Lots of practice. 

Now a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I had been drafted by a friend to write a humor column during university.  It was about as useful as nips on a bull but the work itself was enjoyable.  Moreover, it helped perpetuate that dream of writing a book. 

(I admit, I followed through after graduating and ended up writing a book.  A pretty crappy book. 

*Looks at calendar*  Holy crap, it was TEN years ago!?!  How the hell did that happen.   I was young and it showed in the writing.)

If there was anything that this showed me most, is that writing takes TIME.  (Now this post is quickly becoming guilty of the ‘humble brag’ so I’ll just summarize that I was also working a full time job too.  Problem is, the additional distraction impacted how much MORE time it took to complete it)

This is a reason why the idea of nanowrimo is so appealing.  The challenge of writing a novel (50,000 words!) in ONE month, is that mental excuse to put aside distractions, skip the black and white social ball, put aside the Playstation controller and just focus to do ONE thing.  Write a novel!


Look up more about Nanowrimo here:


Have you ever desired to write a novel?   This could be the month that you do. 


– ED

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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


Sanjay Dastoor: A skateboard, with a boost

Sanjay Dastoor: A skateboard, with a boost

Number of views to date: 746,185 views

Hey, check that out, a skateboard with an engine!

Ok, this isn’t a particularly new idea.  In fact it’s been revisited many many times (and improvements made each time), however this might be the first time such an idea was funded via Kickstarter (successfully) and promoted/sold as a new product for mass production.

It works.  More to the point, its another modern marketing that has also worked.  Not only was the Kickstarter successful, it was 4.5x as successful as it had intended.

There exists a demographic that would be interested in such a device and they have put their money where their mouth is. 

The website to buy Boosted Boards is here:

Although I’m confused by the fact it lists ‘Preorder Now’ as opposed to ‘Order now’.  (The kickstarter had completed in October 2012.)

I’m actually having some difficulty finding reviews for the Boosted board so it looks like it hasn’t yet reached production.  Not to be a downer on Kickstarter but as usual, buyer beware.  (According to the comments section, the Beta Board has been out since April but no real deadline for the finalized product.  There was speculation for this month but I see no confirmation.)

I wish I could see how loud these boards are, as riding them certainly looks as comfortable as a standard longboard.  (Everyone skateboarded back in the day, you can blame Back to the Future for that)

If anything, I’d like to see the final product compared to the gas powered skateboard.   I’ve seen a gas powered board (probably about a decade ago) and it was so loud that you’d think it was a lawnmower filled rocket fuel.



This product also reminds me of another product which was written about quite heavily as a ‘world changing’ innovation.  Now this product isn’t being hyped to be massive world changer but it at least shows the potential. 


On the other hand, for the product I’m referring to, there was hype, a great deal of anticipation, and a final reveal that left a lot of people confused and counting their pennies. 

I’m talking about Dean Kamen’s Segway. 

Although it never changed the world (in the way it was hyped), it has become a signature vehicle of the rich and famous.  

Maybe this electric longboard has a similar future. 

Ride on and share.



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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?

Ever since I had a temporary shift in sleeping pattern, the topic of “Sleep!  What is it good for?”  has been bouncing on and off as a topic of interest and further study.


Posted just recently was Foster’s TED Talk on Sleep.

Total Time: 21 minutes, 47 seconds

Number of views so far: 1,049,206

The topic of sleep is not particularly new among TED Talks, it has been covered before by other speakers.  However, I find that similar to dieting/exercising fads, there exists the ‘sleep fad’ that on a more understated level, there are times when it becomes a thing to address ‘napping it out’.


The most basic identifier I can point out for this kind of ‘fad’ is the introduction and general social awareness of sleep apnea. 

No doubt, the original observers of sleep apnea probably thought the unconscious body was being inhabited by dragons and demons.  (also marked in Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers as the first literary character to have it)  Even to this day, I’m willing to bet that people would use that description except its always becoming louder, more drooling and with excessive amounts of farting.

All of this could be framed in this moment of Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky:

Where this is a light-hearted scene, sleep apnea today is recognized as a form of social crime that is worse than stabbing a basket of puppies.   People can be instructed to seek treatment as if there is a cure to snoring.   (Although from what I’ve been told by friends who have sleep apnea machines, these machines are just as loud as the snoring itself) 


Nonetheless, treatment centers do exist and the ‘treatment of bad sleep’ has become an industry of its own.  With that industry, you have access to measurable numbers, advertising of services and the typical peaks and lows of economy and social attention.

Recently I’ve been reading upon a myriad of posts/articles about sleep. 

Here is one of those ‘factoid’ articles that was quite impressive.  It touches upon some of the same subject matter Foster speaks about in his talk.

In combination with another interest I’ve personally picked up recently was that I’ve been training myself to run. 

And running I have, first training up to 5km and now recently working on finishing 10km sessions.  A large surprise I’ve found is that I have had what I describe as ‘little effect’ to my general size.  I’m a big boy and despite the fact I’m statistically making good times, its still akin to the Michelin man pound pavement scaring small children and terrifying the raccoons in the neighborhood.

However, my times are good.  Really good.  I have delusions of being this fat guy on the podium holding up the trophy while making speeches of “you people would run faster if you weren’t so skinny” and then eating something from my pocket mid speech.

Throw in the notion that I clock about four hours of sleep a night, it makes me wonder.

After all, we lose weight when we are sleeping. 

Ergo, the idea of following a sleep diet.

There’s a book about the notion (“The Overnight Diet”) also a link to some coverage:

This will make an interesting self study.  First, I’m going to see if I can alter my sleeping pattern to 9-10 hours a night (that will require a complete change to my out of work schedule) in order to get the necessary number of hours in. 

(Side note: This also makes a chance to revisit “Lucid Dreaming” aka the perception that I’m controlling my dreams while having them.  When I was a teenager I found this topic highly interesting, the most successful method was via “self proclamation” every time I was about to ‘hit the hay’, be it between wakeful moments or start of the evening)

In any case, let’s see what happens.  If anything remarkable occurs, it’ll be included in a future EDTalksTed post.

Foster makes the recommendation at the end to get more sleep.  Will you?  Will you plan to?  Or will it be something you’ll need to ‘sleep on it’ first?


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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Uncategorized