Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

JK Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech Part 1 - June 5 2008

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Chinese Professor

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Toyota Crisis Aggravates Internal Management Feud - WSJ.com

Toyota Crisis Aggravates Internal Management Feud - WSJ.com

The 2005 Vision also pushed Toyota to implement kakushin, or revolutionary innovations, in vehicle design and manufacturing. That included efficiency drives to reduce costs, not only through conventional means, such as simplifying designs and using cheaper materials, but also by changing the way cars are engineered. For example, engineers were pushed to combine functions into fewer parts and systems. Their aim: cut the number of components in a car by half.
Talking to engineers and mid-level executives, Mr. Toyoda said the rapid expansion exceeded the company's ability to assure the quality and reliability of each model. He called on the engineers, seated inside an auditorium at Toyota's global headquarters, to shift their mindset and attain the "resolve to make a big turn from emphasizing volume to quality," according to a summary of the speech reviewed by the Journal.
The nonfamily executives acknowledge they made some mistakes. One says a large number of inexperienced contract engineers hired from outside agencies—an effort to save money as they tried to boost engineering capacity—led to at least some of the increase in quality glitches.
So, in summary, the "Toyota way" gave way to the "GM way", and maybe the "GE way" (in the case of contract engineers, which is a current trend in many companies.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Economists need their own uncertainty principle : Nature News

Economists need their own uncertainty principle : Nature News
Andrew Lo and Mark Mueller of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, suggest that what economists grappling with uncertainty need is a proper taxonomy of risk — not unlike, as it turns out, Rumsfeld's infamous classification. In this way, they state, risk assessment in economics can be united with the way uncertainties are handled in the natural sciences. It may then become clearer where conventional economic theory is a reliable guide to planning and forecasting, and where its predictive value fails.
They call for more support of postgraduate economic training to create a cadre of better informed practitioners, who are more alert to the limitations of the current economic models, such as those used to calculate expected daily returns on investments in a 'business-as-usual' market. They point out the dangers of devolving business management decisions to financial analysts who have become accustomed to thinking that their models capture all there is to say about economic risk. But to truly eliminate the ruinous false confidence engendered by the clever, physics-aping maths of economic theory, why not make it standard practice to teach everyone who studies economics at any level that their models apply only to specific and highly restricted varieties of uncertainty?
The original paper(draft) of Lo and Mueller can be downloaded from http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.2688

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who are pushing for over-prescription?

WSJ blamed impatient parents for over-prescription
Some parents say that once a bacterial infection has been diagnosed, they're not comfortable leaving it untreated. Some also push for the quickest possible recovery so their children can return to school or day care. In a survey of primary-care doctors published in 2007, 65% said parents' demand for antibiotics was the most important barrier to holding off on prescriptions.
Earlier Also reported by WSJ,
"Most people's bodies and immune systems are wonderful in terms of handling things—if people can be patient," says Ted Epperly, a family physician in Boise, Idaho, and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"I have a mantra: You can do more for yourself than I can do for you," says Raymond Scalettar, a Washington, D.C., rheumatologist and former chairman of the American Medical Association.
So, the patients', or the parents' impatience caused the over-kill, over-spending. Wait a minute, why they are impatient. Maybe they don't understand how bodies work, but is this exact the reason we go to doctors? We go to doctors, for treatment, including advices, not for prescriptions. More likely is the pressure for getting quick relief, so that we can return to work, so that the children can be sent to daycare/school.

Not every company is generous in the sick-leave policy. Even fewer give much sympathy to those who have to care family members. Doing "nothing" here equates to staying at home, longer suffering, and unable to work, which may lead to less pay, or even cost the job itself. In many cases, the pressure to keep the job, to keep the paycheck coming, overrides the potential long-term benefit of doing "nothing". By the way, for those who care sick kids, "nothing" might be exactly the opposite. 

It is one of most important factors of the health-care system: allowing time to recover, as suggested by the experts quoted in the above reports, but it is largely left out of the health-care discussion.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Be careful with what you read!

http://www.amazon.com/Technological-Risk-H-W-Lewis/dp/0393308294I stumbled upon the book "Technological Risk" (Chinese Translation) in 2000. That was just weeks before I filled out the applications for graduate schools and in 2001, I was sitting in the classroom of the University of Maryland studying probabilistic risk analysis as a Ph.D. student of reliability engineering.

Another book I was reading then, well, an ebook, is Probability Theory: The Logic of Science. Luckily, it was available as PDF. I was not able to pronounce "Bayesian" until, again, sat in the classroom at the University of Marlyland. 

Both books are very well written, and they deserve better popularity.