TEN THOUSAND HOURS TO PERFECTION

TheDanPlan.com: Dan McLaughlin had never played golf when he decided to see if 10,000 hours of practice would turn him into a pro. That’s the theory of Anders Ericsson, popularized in the book “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. That theory maintains it’s the number of hours that makes you a musician, an artist, or even a golfer. Dan quit his job, hired a golf coach, and worked on this full time. His handicap went down to 3.1 last November after around 4,200 hours, but it’s back up to 5.5 in April, his most recent tally.

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CHINESE INVENTIONS

“Timeline for Chinese Inventions” has lists of time-lines put together by Columbia University for many nations and cultures. The Chinese wove silk in 1300 B.C., for example. They invented the folding umbrella in 300 B.C., though it wasn’t received in the West until the 1600s. Gunpowder came along around 750 AD in China and 1330 in the West. The Chinese had moveable type in the year 1040, the West 400 years later.

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COLORBLIND MAN SEES PURPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME

“Colorblind man sees purple for the first time” is a remarkable YouTube video you can find if you search on those words. A friend surprised him with a special pair of sunglasses that correct for colorblindness. He weeps with joy at all the colors he’s seeing for the first time, shouting to a friend, “Your car is pretty.” The sunglasses start at $350 from EnChroma.com.

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CITY FULL OF DRIVERLESS CARS

Smithsonianmag.com has an article about a 32-acre test track being used for driverless cars. “MCity” at the University of Michigan has fake obstacles, railroad tracks, shops, gravel roads, paved roads, roundabouts, signals and even a robot pedestrian named Sebastian who never looks both ways. He has yet to be run over.

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CURIOSITY STREAM

CuriosityStream.com claims to have the world’s best documentaries from the BBC and other channels around the world, plus original programming. The first month is free, then it’s $3 a month if you want to continue. But you have to give them a credit card for the free trial — and we never like that.

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15 ANIMALS WANT TO BE MAN’S BEST FRIEND

“15 Animals that want to be Man’s Best Friend.” Google those words for some amazing video clips. We saw an otter playing dead on command, an armadillo playing with a squeeze toy, a baby elephant playing soccer, and a cat playing fetch and panting like a dog.

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THE MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES

SSA.gov/oact/babynames lets you find out how popular your name is. “Robert” was in the top 10 from 1900 to 1983. “Joy” never made the top 100 and is now at 475. Some names like “Scott” were wildly popular in the 60s and 70s, not much now. “Noah” is currently the most popular boy’s name (never would have guessed that). “Emma” is the most popular girl’s name. An unusual name might be the best bet; it never goes out of style because it was never in.

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THE LEAST CORRUPT COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

Transparency.org has a “Corruption Perceptions Index.” By their measure, Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world. New Zealand is the second least corrupt, Finland third. The U.S. is tied with Barbados, Hong Kong and Ireland for 17th place. Greece and Italy are tied at 69th. Somalia and North Korea are tied at the bottom — 174th.  In the “Economic Freedom of the World” index, Greece is 144th, Germany is 31st and Canada is 10th.

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15 COOL SCI-FI TECHNOLOGIES WE’VE ALREADY BLOWN RIGHT PAST

“15 Cool Sci-Fi Technologies We’ve Already Blown Right Past.”  For example, in 1997’s “Men in Black,” Agent K shows a miniature compact disc saying “They’re going to be replacing CDs soon.” The very next year the first MP3 player was released. In Star Trek, the character “Data” could perform 60 trillion calculations a second. In China, the “Tianhe 2″ can perform 34 quadrillion calculations per second. The robot dog in 1977’s “Dr. Who” could play chess and move about looking for danger. The U.S. military’s robot cheetah can run over 28 miles an hour, climb hills and jump over some obstacles. But … it doesn’t play chess.

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POLITICS REDUX

Last week we wrote about Countable, a free app for iPhone, iPad and Android, lets you know what Federal bills are being proposed and will send emails to Congressmen, expressing your opinion on the bill. We tried this of course, and were pleasantly surprised to get information on the pros and cons of each bill; we even got a personal email back from a Senator.

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