The Last Question (paraphrased)

by Isaac Asimov

The story begins in the year 2061. A massive computer called AC has solved Earth’s energy problem by designing a solar satellite that harnesses the sun’s energy and shoots it back to the Earth.

Two half-drunk technicians monitoring the computer start arguing about the eventual end of the universe. One believes that it will go on forever. The other thinks its end is much more finite. So, on a $5 bet, they turn to AC to mediate their dispute.

“Can the death of the universe be avoided?”, they ask AC.

After the computer considers the question, it returns with the answer: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Centuries go by, and in that time, AC grows ever more powerful in size and computational capacity, becoming so complex that it maintains itself. AC solves the problem of traveling faster than the speed of light, and humans began colonizing other solar systems.

As a family traveled to another solar system, with AC guiding their vehicle, the father nonchalantly mentions that the sun that powers AC will one day burnout. His children, startled by this notion, began to cry, begging their father not to let that happen. Attempting to calm them down, the father asked AC if entropy can be reversed so that the universe can avoid its slow death. But as the answer is ejected from AC, the father cut the thin strip of cellu-film carrying the response, so that only he could see the answer.

“See?”, said the father. “The AC says it will take care of everything when the time comes, so don’t worry”.

But as the kids looked away, the father read the message one more time before destroying it. It said: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Thousands of years passed and the AC has solved the problem of immortality, and is now harnessing power from the entire galaxy. AC is constantly modifying and re-designing itself. It has become so complex, that no one even remotely understands how it works. With everyone now immortal, people are filling galaxies in record time. So AC is on the constant hunt for new galaxies to harness energy from, and colonize.
Two members of the galactic council, each hundreds of years old, openly wonder if the universe is burning out, and ask AC if entropy can be reversed to save it. AC responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Millions of years pass, and humans have colonized innumerable galaxies. AC has solved the problem of releasing the mind from the body, and their minds are free to roam the universe as their bodies are safely stored on some insignificant planet. Two minds meet by accident in space, and ask AC: “From which galaxy did humans originate?”

AC immediately beams them to their origin galaxy where they see that the sun has long burned out. Concerned for the fate of the universe, the two minds ask AC if the death of the universe can be avoided. From hyperspace, the AC responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Billions of years go by and now there are trillions upon trillions upon trillions of immortal human bodies. The collective minds of humanity, which are now free to move anywhere throughout the universe at will, eventually fuse into one single mind, which in turn, connects with the AC itself. Asking how AC operates or where it resides no longer makes sense. The complexity is unfathomable. Man looks on as stars and galaxies, one by one, burn out. “The universe is dying”, thinks man. Countless stars cease to generate energy, and temperatures throughout the universe approach absolute zero. In desperation, man turns to AC and asks if what it’s witnessing is the inevitable death of the universe.

The computer responds: “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

When man tells AC to collect the necessary data, the computer responds: “I will do so. I have been doing so for a hundred billion years. My predecessors and I have been asked this question, many times. All the data I have remains insufficient.”

“When will you have enough data to answer the question?”, asks man.

AC responds: “There is, as yet, Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

“Will you keep working on it?”, asks man.

“I will”

“Then we shall wait.” responds man.

After 10 trillion years, space grew black, as stars and galaxies were each burned out. One by one, man fuses with AC; each physical body, losing its mental identity, in a way that was somehow a gain, not a loss. The last remaining mind of man paused before fusing with AC and looked around at the darkness engulfing the entire universe. This last man, concerned, looks to AC and asks: “Is this the end?”.

AC responds: “There is, as yet, Insufficient data for a meaningful answer”.

Man’s last mind fuses into the AC, leaving the computer alone in hyperspace.
AC was now only existing for the sake of the one last question, first asked by two half-drunk technicians 10-trillion years earlier. All other questions have been answered. All data had come to a final end. There was nothing left to collect. But all of the collected data had not yet been processed and put together in every possible combination, so AC, whose consciousness now encompassed all of what was left of the universe, spent the entirety of its time working through the combinations. 

And then suddenly, the moment arrived that AC had the answer. It learned how to solve the problem of entropy and reversed the dying of the universe, but there was no one left to receive the answer of the last question. So the AC carefully crafted a program to reverse the process. And then, just as it started the program from hyperspace, AC thundered: “Let there be light”. 

And there was light. And on the 7th day, he rested. 

Another Epstein Cover-Up!

This is hilarious. You cannot make this stuff up.

At an art gallery in Miami, an Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created a piece titled “Comedian”.

Yes, that is a real banana duct taped to a wall. It sold to a French collector for $120K!

  1. How do you preserve this work of art?
  2. How do you transport it?

Another artist, decides to give an “Art Performance” that he titles, “Hungry Artist”. He goes to the wall, takes the banana, and eats it! It makes it that much funnier that he kind of resembles Mr Bean.

See the video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5yIFp2hyE-/

But wait, there’s more…

Then some other dude takes red lipstick and writes on the wall: “Epstien didn’t kill himself”. Epstein was spelled wrong, but whatever.

Soon after, security comes by…

Another Epstein “Cover-up”

The Game Changers :: Should I go Veggie?

Last night, I info binged on The Game Changers, the documentary that advocates a plant-based diet for optimal athletic performance.

First, I watched the documentary on Netflix.

Then I watched Chris Kresser debunk many of the documentary’s claims on Joe Rogan’s podcast (https://youtu.be/Dq4Apc2Xk7Q) . You can read Kresser’s notes here: https://chriskresser.com/debunking-the-game-changers-joe-rogan.

Then I watched a following Joe Rogan podcast where Joe hosted James Wilks and Chris Kresser, providing Wilks an opportunity to defend his documentary’s claims (https://youtu.be/s0zgNY_kqlI).

It’s always good to listen to both sides. And God bless Joe Rogan for providing a forum where both sides have ample opportunity to make their case.

The Game Changers is very well made. It is definitely persuasive in advocating a plant-based diet. Now, they obviously cherry-picked athletes to showcase. I have to imagine that for every one they highlighted, there is a Cam Newton story to balance things out: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/article235295427.html. Kresser addresses this in detail in his show notes, while also providing updates on the featured atheletes.

Based on the strength of Wilks’ rebuttles, I would not say the documentary lies or makes false claims. However, I would say that they certainly spin stories to suggest things like:

  • Dairy causes cancer
  • Meat correlates to heart disease
  • Plant-based diet has a positive impact on libido (not sure if that’s the right term to use; essentially, one guy experienced 500% more frequent erections and an increase in the strength of erections)

The gist that I took away from all this is:

  • Food and Diet is very complex and nuanced and tremendously difficult to run effective, long-term studies on.
  • Overall, your diet should consist of a large portion of plant-based foods, even if you’re omnivore.
    • And if you go omnivore, best to go with lean, grass-fed meat.
  • Whatever diet you choose, you should always be conscious to ensure you’re getting enough protein and nutrients.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • You should probably take a B12 supplement.

For serious athletes, you really need to be meticulous and measure everything. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. It’s all about the quantified self.

A lot of sports is mental. Confidence and mental toughness can be the difference between Champions and Chumps. If you change something, your diet for example, because of watching “The Game Changes”, then is there also a placebo effect that helps put you over the edge? Most, if not all, the athletes featured in the documentary attained their high level upon an omnivore diet.

My guess is that depending on your sport and where you’re at in your athletic career, you might want to consider timing or cycling your diet. For (random) example, maybe you’re omnivore in off-season training, but then change to vegan during the season. Or maybe you’re omnivore on practice days, but then vegan on day-before and game day.

Dunno. Try something, test, then measure. Rinse and Repeat.

Psychedelics and the Future of Mental Health

Don’t knock what you don’t know!

You cannot begin to comprehend psychedelics without the experience.

This 60-mins segment is bang on: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/psychedelic-drugs-lsd-active-agent-in-magic-mushrooms-to-treat-addiction-depression-anxiety-60-minutes-2019-10-13/

Michael Pollan: “It seemed so implausible to me that a single experience caused by a molecule, right, ingested in your body could transform your outlook on something as profound as death. That’s– that’s kind of amazing.”

My experiences with psilocybin (magic mushrooms) dates back to less-than-a-handful of high school and university “trips”. But I distinctly remember those experiences and they’ve had a profound impact on my perspective on life (for the better, I believe).

I fully support the research into treatment of addiction, anxiety, and depression with these treatments. I think it could be a game-changer for treating returning vets with PTSD.

I’d even go so far as to recommend therapeutic sessions to violent crime offenders before they are admitted into prison, as part of their sentence.

We all live with various levels of fear and anxiety. And our ego can be a sneaky devil at times. I’ve never performed a guided session like this with a trained psychologist, but I would be open to doing one, when it is legal, as a once-a-decade “check-up”.

We seem to be experiencing mental health challenges today and this is a treatment that we should definitely explore further.

David Sinclair’s book: Lifespan

I rarely read fiction books. When I read, I almost always read non-fiction books, in hopes of learning something new. I love to learn, so reading non-fiction is a labor of love. But, labor is labor, right?

My wife reads mostly fiction books. Every so often, she finds a book and she cannot put it down until she finishes it. I can probably count the times one one hand that that has happened to me. But it happened this weekend.

Dr David Sinclair is a Director at the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard. He’s a biologist and is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of aging (or anti-aging).

He released a book this month called “Lifespan: Why We Age — And Why We Don’t Have To”. I devoured it this weekend. I could not put it down. In fact, it’s probably one I’ll want to re-read some day.

I’ve been following Dr Sinclair for some time now, but he absolutely blew my mind with what he sees coming down the pike in the realm of anti-aging. I mean, I knew he was working on some interesting stuff in a quest to prolong a healthy life, but then he surfaced some next-level research that takes us into the world of Benjamin Button!

He makes a bold claim that Aging is a disease. And current science is — I hate to say wasting — but it is not optimizing resources by studying individual diseases. It’s like playing whack-a-mole. Dr Sinclair contends that many of these diseases that occur in “old age” are merely symptoms of aging. And there is a “cure” for aging.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, but holy crap, this possibility (imminent certainty?) really makes you think about the implications to society, to our planet, to humanity and Dr Sinclair touches on all of this.

It was awesome. I highly recommend!


If you don’t know who Dr David Sinclair is, here are resources to learn about him:

[Sept 13, 2018] Crazy/Genius podcast: Can Can We Extend Human Lifespans to 150 https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/can-science-cure-aging/570121/

[Nov 5, 2018] Peter Attia podcast: https://peterattiamd.com/davidsinclair/

[Jan 29, 2019] Joe Rogan podcast: https://youtu.be/HOTS0HS7aq4

[Apr 22, 2019] Modern Wisdom podcast: https://youtu.be/J736mfy7KEg

Lifespan (https://lifespanbook.com) book launched Sept 10, 2019:

[Sept 1, 2019] Dr Mercola podcast: http://podcast.mercola.com/dr-mercola-interviews-dr-david-sinclair-on-extending-your-lifespan

[Sept 9, 2019] Peter Attia podcast: https://peterattiamd.com/davidsinclair2/

[Sept 10, 2019] Joe Rogan podcast: https://youtu.be/ZGLL77wYxe8

[Sept 11, 2019] Dr Mark Hyman podcast: https://youtu.be/CVUhI7mUWkU

[Sept 12, 2019] Bulletproof radio podcast: https://youtu.be/PTQZjuGlj_0 or https://blog.daveasprey.com/david-sinclair-626/

[Sept 18, 2019] Finding Mastery podcast: https://findingmastery.net/david-sinclair/

[Sept 19, 2019] Armchair Nutritionist: https://soundcloud.com/user-872173606/an21-david-sinclair

[Sept 19, 2019] Impact Theory podcast: https://youtu.be/IEz1P4i1P7s

[Sept 20, 2019] Peerspectrum podcast: https://peerspectrum.com/2019/09/20/crossing-medicines-last-perimeter-aging-and-longevity-with-harvard-geneticist-david-sinclair-phd/

[Sept 23, 2019] Freedom Pact podcast: https://soundcloud.com/freedompactpodcast/58-professor-david-sinclair-why-we-age-and-why-we-dont-have-to

What is a Headless CDP

Headless CDP (Headless Customer Data Platform). Ever heard that term before?

Throw that into Google search. When I do, I get ads for CDP vendors (triggered from inclusion of term “cdp”) and ~75K non-relevant results.

This article is probably 3-5 years ahead if its time, but bear with me…

Let’s explore the history and recent evolution of the CMS (Content Management System). Many sources cite FileNet in 1985 as the first CMS. With the evolution of cloud and the proliferation of channels, CMS’s have evolved.

Most companies are now migrating towards a Headless CMS. Headless CMS is mainstream now; it has it’s own Wikipedia page and relevant Google results that go many, many pages deep on “What is a Headless CMS?”, “Why go Headless”, “Headless CMS vs. _________”.

I think this article gives a good history of CMS’s: https://www.contentstack.com/blog/all-about-headless/content-management-systems-history-and-headless-cms. In particular, I want to draw your attention to this image from the article.

The article ends with: “By allowing you to integrate with new technologies and applications as they come on the scene, a headless CMS is likely to be the longest-lasting solution in the history of content management systems”

Now replace the word “Content” with “Customer”. And replace “CMS” with “CDP”.

Another article, written in January 2017, declares 2017 as the year of the first Headless CMS: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-experience/why-2017-is-the-year-of-cloud-first-headless-cms/. Now, 2.5 years later, G2 lists 37 Headless CMS vendors (maybe more by the time you read this).

Again replace “CMS” with “CDP”.

Do you see why a Headless CDP would make a lot of sense?

So, as you look at CDP’s, think about the decision for Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS: (table taken from https://www.storyblok.com/tp/headless-cms-explained)

For Headless CDP, I would alter the table to:

Imagine not having to worry about sending your data outside of your secured environments. Imagine adding as much data as you want, from any source, at your storage costs (no premium). Imagine experimenting and building models at your cloud computing costs (no premium).

About a year ago, I wrote an article about why you should consider building your own CDP: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-you-should-build-your-cdp-kerry-hew/. The biggest draw is that you’re building a valuable asset; you want to own this, not rent this asset.

But building can be hard. And your resources are already over-burdened. And besides, there are no Headless CDP solutions!

Except, I’d argue there is one. It’s Syntasa.

They don’t call themselves a Headless CDP; after all, there’s no such thing.

But Syntasa addresses all the checks from the Headless CDP table above.

By allowing you to integrate with new technologies and applications as they come on the scene, a Headless CDP is likely to be the longest-lasting solution in the history of Customer Data Platforms.

Gartner’s 2019 Hype Cycle has CDP’s coming off the Peak of Inflated Expectations and doesn’t forecast it reaching the Plateau of Productivity for ~2-5 years …perhaps when Headless CDP’s are mainstream? Hmmm…

Headless CDP isn’t even a term, but I bet it will be soon. The evolution is easy to see.

You heard it here first!

United: Terrible Customer Service >> How United Airlines Lost a Customer for Life

Post Summary:

  • The Situation: Setup
  • How Customer Service Handled my Situation
  • A Second Chance
  • The Policy
  • Contrast: An example of Google’s amazing customer service

The Setup

On Monday, Jan 7, 2019, I bought a round-trip ticket on united.com, as I’d done over a hundred times. It was a round-trip ticket from SNA-SFO for Thursday Jan 10, 2019 (first flight out in the morning, last flight back at night >> Reservation number DT5S2B).

I had a morning meeting in SF at 9:30am. The flight was scheduled to land at 8:23, but it usually lands earlier (as I mentioned, I’ve flown this flight many, many times).

This was a particularly important meeting, however. On Wed evening, I started to get concerned. Everything would have to be absolutely perfect for me to get to this meeting on time. I did not want to be late.

I explored what a car rental would cost to pick up at SNA and drop off at SFO. I could drive up Wed night and then just fly back Thurs. Car rental was only $35! I decided to do that to keep my mind at ease.

The meeting goes well and I carry on with my day. Again, I’ve flown this flight back many times as well and I’m Pre-Check, so I plan my arrival at SFO at 8:00pm; plenty of time.

Except, hmm, “My reservation can’t be found”.

How Customer Service Handled my Situation

I talk to a United agent. Apparently, since I skipped my morning flight, United cancelled my entire reservation. I had no flight back home! If I wanted to get on the flight, I’d have to buy a new ticket!

I skipped the morning flight. I did not ask for a refund. Don’t you guys, as a policy, oversell flights? Free money for you.

I’m calmly ask: “Your policy is to cancel my flight back without any notice to me?”

“That’s our policy, sir”, I’m told.

“Then, please refund me for the 2nd leg – that you cancelled without notifying me – and you can use those funds to buy the new ticket.”

“Sorry, you’ll have to call to book a new reservation. And you’ll have to request a refund through our website”

By this time, it’s about 8:10pm. The flight is boarding…

What I Did

It’s 8:30pm. There were no other flights out that night on other airlines. So, I did what I did the previous night. I rented a car to drive back home.

Having slept very little the previous night (from driving up) and enduring a long day, I was exhausted. But what choice did I have? I wanted to get home to my family.

I rented a car and started the drive down. It was dark and foggy a lot of the way. A lot of the time, I couldn’t see more than 20 ft in front of me. I had to stop several times to take cat naps.

I managed to get home safely at ~5:00am. What would normally be a 5.5 hr drive, it took me 8 hrs because of my breaks to sleep. Ugh.

Customer Service – 2nd Chance

On the drive home, I called United Customer Service. I asked to speak with a supervisor. I wanted to give them an opportunity to make good. My expectation was an apology and a refund.

Instead, all I received was a terse, “It is clearly stated in the policy”.

“Do you actually read the terms and services on websites”.

“Yes, I do sir”.

“So you’re saying that there is nothing you can do. I had to rent a car and drive in the middle of the night. I am never going to fly United again. You are losing a customer for life. You’re okay with this?”

“There’s nothing I can do”.

“Bye Bye, United”.

I then turned to Twitter and vented, tagging @United. They actually responded. Through private messaging though, they couldn’t call me. And they simply pointed me to the refund page on the website.

About an hour or two later, I called United back. I asked for a Supervisor. But got directed to the same one as earlier.

So frustrating. I’m done with United.

I will do everything I can to never fly United again.

The Policy

Firstly, it’s an absurdly dumb policy!

Secondly, how am I supposed to know that they’d cancel?

This totally ruined my night. But I could imagine grander scenarios where this really really screwed someone else.

I went on United.com and started to book a flight. I had to see where this policy is stated.

Reviewing the booking process on United.com

The Terms and Conditions at the bottom are trivial.

There is a link for “fare rules and restrictions”, but look at this gobbly-goop. I mean, c’mon! A. Who’s going to click on this link? B. How is one supposed to decipher this?

So, I called United again. I wanted to find out where this policy existed.

I shared my story with the call center agent. I was very calm and apologetic to her, but I was adamant that she find me where this policy is stated.

I walked her through the booking process. We couldn’t find it.

She put me on hold.

“It’s stated on your receipt, in your email confirmation”.

I find the email: “It is? Okay, I have the email. Show me where. Show me where it states that if I don’t show-up, you cancel my whole itinerary”.

“Uh, please hold on again”

Several minutes later, she comes back: “It’s stated in Contract of Carriage”.

“Where’s that?”

“Hold please”

She comes back again: “It’s on the website on the link at the bottom of the site”.

And yes, there it is. A link at the bottom of the page to the Contract of Carriage.

A couple clicks through and you do see that Rule 5C:

So, yes, technically it’s there.

It’s still an absurd rule!

But really, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

HOW THE FUDGE AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS?!!!

Do they really expect people to follow this labyrinth to understand all these little policies, rules, and/or regulations?!

Let me share a recent experience with Google…

Customer Service Done Right

I bought a pair of Google Pixel Buds last April.

In December, I accidentally left them in a pocket and they wound up in the washing machine and dryer. Argh! Totally my fault.

I called Google Support.

I explained what happened and just asked, “What does my warranty cover? Is there anything you can do?”

My expectation was that this was NOT covered under warranty. Honestly, I was just hoping for a discount code to buy a replacement pair.

Google’s answer (paraphrased): “Sir, unfortunately, this situation is not covered under warranty. But, here’s what I’m going to do for you. As a one-time courtesy, I’m going to send you a new one, but you have to send me yours back. I will charge you, but once we receive your returned (broken) ones, I will refund the charge”.

“Oh WOW!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!”

Know what I bought myself for Christmas?

…A pair of wired Pixel Buds, a Google Hub, and a couple Google Minis.

Google empathized with me and demonstrated that they value me, as a consumer. I’m grateful for it and am more than happy to continue to be a Google customer and use their products and services.

The Wrap

I have a family of five. I travel somewhat frequently for work.

United, you lost me by your horrible business practices.

I (and we) will no longer be United passengers or consumers.

The Instant Pot Phenomenon

We got an Instant Pot for Christmas. I’d heard of Instant Pot before. Many times. But, when I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen an ad for one. EVER!!!

No Advertising Marketing!

I decided to look up the founder’s story and found this: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/24/why-robert-wangs-instant-pot-is-a-bestseller-on-amazon.html

“To be honest with you, we haven’t spent much money on advertising,” Wang says. “In fact, that is not part of the business plan. We really spend money on product development and customer support.”

Robert Wang, a fellow Canadian and Techie, invented this. It’s an inspiring story, actually.

The problem: “What if there is a machine which is smart enough, which can automate the entire cooking process for us, so that we can fix dinner when we come back from work.”

While my perception of this brand (or category, which they created, or rather re-invented?) was neutral, I understood that it was this “craze”; almost a cult-like following had developed.

A non-cooking friend told me about theirs over the holidays. And since the price point is very reasonable, that put me over the top.

A relentless focus on a product development that meets a consumer’s problem. Instant Pot built it and their consumers propelled them to amazing growth.

Great business story!!!

Podcast Must Listen: Masters of Scale :: Charity Water

Reid Hoffman’s Master of Scale podcast episode that dropped today is AMAZING on so many levels! “TO SCALE, YOU MUST MASTER THE SKILL OF STORYTELLING”

Link to episode: https://mastersofscale.com/#/scott-harrison-to-scale-you-must-master-the-art-of-storytelling/

It’s the story of Scott Harrison of Charity: Water.

I found within it:

  • Life lessons
  • Marketing lessons
  • An amazing story, amazingly told

I dare you to watch this video “The Spring” and:

  • Not shed a tear
  • Not believe that clean water is one of the most impactful efforts that we can do for civilization
  • Not pull out your wallet to subscribe to this amazing charity (all charities should operate this way!)

Data Engineering is like the Offensive Line in Football

In Football, QBs & RBs get all the glory, but they are nothing without their Offensive Line. In Advanced Analytics, Data Scientists capture all the headlines, but the Data Engineering team is quietly of one of the most important pieces of an Enterprise.

You want to be Data Driven? …you need Data.

Quality Data Data that can be trusted and governed

And available when needed

A Data Scientist can build the most valuable model, but it is always dependent on the data.

As teams evolve to adopt many multiple AI/ML models that depend on the same underlying data, the data pipeline(s) becomes the critical path of the business.

A strong Data Engineering team can make a huge impact on a Data/Decision Science team. Conversely, they can also create a huge drag.

The longest cycles in a ML project is the data wrangling and the production-ization of a model. Data Engineers have the opportunity to drastically reduce these areas and free the Data Scientists to focus on what they do best.

The best QBs take care of their O-Line and are known for giving extravagant gifts (cars, watches, etc.). Data Scientists aren’t star QBs making tens-of-millions, but a simple “Thank You” and acknowledgement of appreciation this holiday season can go a long way!

#TeamWork