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Monday, 6 December 2010

Mark Twain wrote a long letter to a friend, and then at the end, apologized for its length, saying he didn't have enough time to write a short letter.

Decision Analysis for Success - a course for students?

superb article BACKGAMMON: DECISION ANALYSIS FOR SUCCESS by Harvey Gillis reproduced here without permission from US Backgammon Federation Website for archival & educational purposes
Harvey Gillis
Harvey Gillis (photo by Pat Gibson)
Harvey Gillis

© 2010 Harvey Gillis
The drama was unfolding. The choices were complex and I was sure that the result of making a mistake could be deadly. Attacking was risky; but so was doing nothing. A setback at this point could spell defeat for the entire campaign. The volatility of the situation made the decision even more difficult. Perhaps I could stall, buying myself some time or deferring a frontal assault by the enemy? Without a precise model, the choice was unclear; but I had to act. I would just have to rely upon strategic principles and my limited experience to make the decision.
A reader may think that I am describing the war room of a major military conflict, a final showdown of two business competitors, an incredibly important investment decision, the pursuit of a dangerous criminal, or even a medical team’s handling of a malignant tumor. Not so. This was an ordinary encounter between two backgammon players! Backgammon is a seductive game that is easy to learn but enormously difficult to master — even after decades of study and practice. Stripped of prejudice, backgammon is a sophisticated decision theory application taking place within a stochastic (probabilistic) environment – not, in this respect, unlike life, war, business, forensics, or the stock market. Like these related analytical pursuits, it requires – and develops — strategy, oversight and sagacity.
For these reasons alone, backgammon should be taught in high school and college. It surpasses many other skill-based games in preparing young adults for the puzzles they will confront in their personal and professional lives when forced to make decisions under conditions of incomplete information and uncertainty. In addition it forms character, teaching the youthful mind how to deal with adversity and accident, taking those negatives in stride and even turning them to one’s advantage.
Backgammon teaches a skill set that is essential to success for virtually anything that a person will encounter in their career, investments or personal life. It frames a methodology for selecting between precarious decisions. Its virtues are:
1) Backgammon teaches probabilistic decision making under stress.
2) It builds character, confidence and self-esteem.
3) It teaches the student how to deal with uncertainty and bad luck.
4) It rewards situational analysis and the building of alternative scenario outcomes.
5) It teaches the important lesson that strategy is more important than tactics, guesses, emotion or instinct.
6) It encourages the student to understand his adversaries.
7) It teaches you to distinguish between mortality and survivable morbidity.
8) It rewards “what if” analysis.
9) It rewards preparation. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
10) Backgammon emphasizes the “war over the battle.”
11) It teaches analytical concepts and probabilities.
12) Backgammon rewards flexibility
13) It teaches the rewards of taking calculated risks. “To take no risk is the greatest risk of all.”
14) It is exciting. Like life, a backgammon game can take unpredictable twists and turns.
Given this impressive array of benefits, you should want your children introduced to backgammon at the earliest age possible. At minimum, we should all advocate the formation of backgammon clubs at high schools and universities, as Joe Russell, a past World Champion, has done at UCLA. And backgammon would be a great accredited course on decision analysis for business students. Working with Phil Simborg, head of the Backgammon Learning Center, Professor Don Berecz has followed this path at Georgia Southern University, introducing backgammon as an accredited course for all freshmen. Projects like these are just what the Education Committee of the U.S. Backgammon Federation is pursuing. I hope I have convinced you to support that effort in any way you can. Now, I have a backgammon match to play with a good friend. I am going to play for the most important reason: it’s fun!

visit www.Fibsboard.com (run by stog) for Backgammon info & how to play online for free on FIBS (First Internet Backgammon Centre)



There is a growing recognition around the world that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been a widespread fear of the unknown, just what could a post-prohibition regime look like?

It is vital that the public engage in the debate over the future of UK and international drug policy.

Transform leaflet here

Transform has published a ground breaking new guide 'After the War on Drugs - Tools for the Debate. It provides policy makers with the language and analysis to engage in the drug law reform debate with confidence and clarity.



see also ShelterBox which is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people affected by disaster worldwide

Friday, 3 December 2010


WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. They provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to their journalists. They publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of their sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices.

WikiLeaks relies on its supporters in order to stay strong. Please keep them at the forefront of anti-censorship

wikileaks Q & A here.....http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/julian-assange-wikileaks

their site is here

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Word Salad

 Read the text below out loud, going as fast as you can.

    I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacitly mkae out waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rsceeeacrhr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but olny the wrod as a whlohe. It mkaes up waht the ohetr lerttees are. In the smae way, the huamn mnid mkeas up mnaegnig form the fgemratns of ifmaonitron it cllocets, and tihs tehn becmoes its peceporitn of tutrh. We mkae up in our haeds waht we see and prevecie, our mnaegnig of tnighs. And tehn we dnot uesdnatnrd why ohetr ppoele do not prevecie tnighs the smae way we do.
    Aimd goirnwg edinevce taht smoe of the tinsiet maraleits eevr ergeinened psoe petillontay big emovinertnel, hlateh and setafy rskis, menomutm is bindiulg in Cesgrons, in emovinertnel crelcis and in the irtundsy isetlf to beef up faredel orvishegt of the new maraleits, wchih are arealdy sowhnig up in deznos of cemunosr podcurts.

Think About
      What struck you most while you were doing this exercise?
      What does it suggest regarding the internal human thought process?


more here