Saturday, May 12, 2018

Making Better Decisions

“Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts”, by Annie Duke, describes how most people incorrectly view the outcome of a decision as being reflective of the quality of their decision process. They think good outcomes from a decision means there was a good decision process and bad outcomes are because of a bad decision process. According to the author, who was a professional gambler, the outcome is more often related to luck than a bad decision process. For example, if you decide to drive through a red light, the fact that you did not get into a crash is more related to luck than being the result of a good decision.

The author claims that people are very uncomfortable with the idea that luck plays such a big part in the outcome of their decisions and are even more uncomfortable with the idea luck plays a big part in their life. Instead of evaluating our choices as having different probabilities of success (like a poker hand), we see our choices as more black and white options with no shades of grey in which choices may be best. Like playing a game of poker, the more information you gain as the game progresses, the less luck controls the result and the better the probability of your chances of making a decision with positive outcomes. Rather than characterizing choices as black or white, her recommendation is to put a probability of success on choices and modify the probability as more information comes available.

Since reading this book, I have been looking more closely at how much information I have about my given set of choices. I noticed that as soon as I started adding a probability (my belief of the percentage chance of success) to each choice, it clarified how much I didn’t know about the future and what the overall risks I was taking with each choice.

I recently had a major decision about my car, since my 3 year lease was coming to an end. Should I buy it? Should I lease another car? Should I buy a new car? Should I use the same dealer? As I collected more and more information and calculated the costs and downside risks of each option, it became clear that a new lease had the best probability of long-term success for me. This process quickly ended my quandary as to what to do. It also made the process of leasing a new car much easier since I went into the negotiation aware of how much of the process was a gamble; would the car be great or a lemon? Time will tell.

It is fascinating to consider how much of the outcomes of my life decisions are just chance, out of my control.

This book is really well written which made understanding the concepts of probability easy to understand and enjoyable to read.
I highly recommended the book!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Year of the Earth Dog

Here are our annual predictions, based on the Chinese lunar calendar, for the 2018 Year of the Earth Dog. As we predicted, the current 2017 Fire Rooster year has seen a focus on justice and more resources put toward growth. The U.S. economy is beginning to improve, the stock market has gained momentum, police and military have gained more favor. Some long-awaited justice is being served. In contrast, the 2018 Dog Year will focus on loyalty, relationships, family, and country. 

The Earth Dog New Year starts February 16, 2018. The Dog is conservative and prizes safety, protection, and tradition. This year will see an inward focus on the country, and major changes in relations between countries.

This Dog year’s impact will be increased for the US by President Trump, who was born in a Dog year (1946). A Dog president will have more influence and power in renegotiating trade and military agreements and protecting US interests during the Dog Year. The Dog year will bring increased social awareness and interest in society’s less powerful members. Generosity and selflessness will be more common. Earth Dog years also increase focus on real estate, agriculture, environment,  and religion.

During the last Earth Dog year, 60 years ago (1958):
Van Allen radiation belts were discovered,
Antarctic was crossed for the first time,
50 feet of snow fell across the Mason-Dixon line, 
NORAD was formed by the US and Canada, 
Mao Zedong started the “Great Leap Forward” movement in China, 
Castro’s Cuban government was recognized by the US, 
US approved Alaska's statehood, 
Eisenhower signed the NASA Act,
The USS Nautilus reached the North Pole,
China fired on islands in the Taiwan Strait and a Chinese civil war started, 
Japan marketed the first precooked instant noodles, 
The US Air force Academy opened in Colorado Springs, 
The National Defense Education Act was signed, 
A US Air Force C-130A was shot down when it strayed into USSR airspace, 
Doctor Zhivago was published in US, 
The first color video was recorded on magnetic tape, 
Jack Kilby demonstrated the first integrated circuit (IC), 
Rockets designed by Ernst Mohr reached the upper atmosphere,
The US manned space-flight project was renamed Project Mercury, 
The first pacemaker was installed in Stockholm, 
Pope Pius XII died and John XXIII was elected as the new Pope,
First women in the UK House of Lords,
PanAm flew the first transatlantic jet from NY to Paris
The first coronary angiogram was performed,
The US tested the first full range ICBM and launched the first guided missile destroyer,
The first radio broadcast was made from space – President Eisenhower’s Christmas message “to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill to men everywhere”.

The 2018 Dog Year will emphasize friends and family and security which will be reflected in US relations with other countries and world leaders. It is a time for caution, pragmatism, and careful growth in business, career, home, and family affairs. For the best luck in this year, keep calm and stay rational.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The First case of Diet destroying a brain tumor

About five years ago, I read a study that started my interest in the ketogenic diet as a cure for cancer. In the study, a woman had a brain tumor, a Glioblastoma (GBM), completely disappear in two and half months on the diet. I learned about GBMs while living in Los Alamos, New Mexico in the 1990’s while serving on a community cancer study.  GBMs were the cancer of greatest concern because even with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, a quick death (usually with in 6 months) was certain. The study piqued my interest in how a keto diet could irradicate this deadly cancer. 

The study was done in 2008 at the Arcipedaule S. Maria Nuova Hospital in Reggio Emilia,  Italy (a Province between Florence and Milan). It described how a 65 year old woman started having nausea, headaches, and memory loss. Upon examination, several GBM tumors were discovered on each side of her brain. Surgery was performed to remove the tumors, but was not able to remove all the cancer.(GBM tumors are like blobs of jello and all the tiny globs of cancer sticking to the brain cannot be removed by surgery.) 

The patient was put on a water-only fast followed by a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet of 600 calories a day for 14 days prior to beginning the standard treatment of radiation and chemotherapy. The diet consisted of a ratio of 4 calories of fat to 1 calorie of protein or carbohydrate. The ketogenic diet, a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet causes low blood glucose levels and high blood ketone levels. The reduction in carbohydrates and high fat puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

After six weeks on the diet, the patient developed high levels of uric acid in the blood (gout) so she was slowly moved to a 600 calorie a day, non-keto diet. The low calorie diet continued to keep her blood glucose level low (in the 60mg/dl range though never under 45mg/dl.)  Nine weeks later an MRI showed the brain tumor was gone. A PET scan was performed 12 weeks later and showed no sign of cancer. After 6 months the calorie restriction was stopped. Eight weeks after her calorie restriction ended, the tumor reoccurred.

The study concluded that low blood glucose in conjunction with high ketones in the blood greatly reduces cancer cells’ ability to survive. 

This is considered the first case of a GBM tumor being killed off with the help of a diet. It also inspired my two year adventure in researching how ketogenic diets  kill deadly cancers and may greatly improve your health.