The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 13 No. 6 • December 2010

Happy New Year to our fellow
lovers of life and of freedom.
Live long & prosper!

Rise early. Work late. Strike oil.
— J. Paul Getty

Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.
— Robert Anthony

If you keep your mind sufficiently open, people will throw a lot of rubbish into it.
— William A. Orten

Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
— R. J. Wiedman LtCol. USMC Ret.

In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason … Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.
— James Madison, Federalist No. 55 (1788)

In “The Future of Western War” the author notes that “unless we submit to genetic engineering, or unless video games have somehow reprogrammed our brains, or UNLESS WE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED BY EATING DIFFERENT NUTRIENTS — these are possibilities brought up by so-called peace and conflict resolution theorists — human nature will not change. And if human nature will not change … then war will always be with us.” (emphasis added)
— Victor Davis Hanson, Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College

(D&S Comment: Data support the notion that human nature can, at least temporarily, be fundamentally changed by eating certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids or (to increase serotonin) tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan — and this can be all to the good as far as reducing impulsive violent aggression, envy, and vindictiveness, but if your enemies do not do the same, you still better be prepared for war.)

To lay with one hand the power of the government on the property of the citizen, and with the other to bestow it upon favored individuals to aid private enterprises and build up private fortunes, is none the less a robbery because it is done under the forms of law and is called taxation.
— Samuel F. Miller, Supreme Court Justice
writing for the majority in Loan Association v. Topeka, 1874

Excerpts from “How to Make Wealth”
Originally published in May 2004 in Hackers & Painters

If you want to create wealth, it will help to understand what it is. Wealth is not the same thing as money.

Wealth is the stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on.

But if wealth is the important thing, why does everyone talk about making money? It is a kind of shorthand: money is a way of moving wealth, and in practice they are usually interchangeable. But they are not the same thing, and unless you plan to get rich by counterfeiting, talking about MAKING money can make it harder to understand how to make money.

People think that what a business does is make money. But money is just the intermediate stage — just a shorthand — for whatever people want. What most businesses really do is make wealth. They do something people want.

When those far removed from the creation of wealth — undergraduates, reporters, politicians — hear that the richest 5% of the people have half the total wealth, they tend to think INJUSTICE! An experienced programmer would be more likely to think IS THAT ALL? The top 5% of programmers probably write 99% of the good software.

I think the single biggest problem afflicting large companies is the difficulty of assigning a value to each person’s work.

To get rich you need to get yourself in a situation with two things, measurement and leverage. You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured, or there is no way to get paid more by doing more. And you have to have leverage, in the sense that the decisions you make have a big effect.

But you don’t have to become a CEO or a movie star to be in a situation with measurement and leverage. All you need to do is be part of a small group working on a hard problem.

You can measure the value of the work done by small groups.

A big company is like a giant galley driven by a thousand rowers. Two things keep the speed of the galley down. One is that individual rowers don’t see any result from working harder. The other is that, in a group of a thousand people, the average rower is likely to be pretty average.

Steve Jobs once said that the success or failure of a startup depends on the first ten employees. I agree. If anything, it’s more like the first five. Being small is not, in itself, what makes startups kick butt, but rather that small groups can be select. You don’t want small in the sense of a village, but small in the sense of an all-star team.

Don’t let a ruling class of warriors and politicians squash the entrepreneurs. The same recipe that makes individuals rich makes countries powerful. Let the nerds keep their lunch money, and you rule the world.

Start the New Year With a Hearty Laugh!

Mirthful Laughter Improves Vascular Function

A new paper1 reports beneficial effects of a “laughter intervention study” in vascular function of young healthy adults. Researchers were serious when they designed their study to detect possible effects of laughter on vascular function. They first evaluated potential study subjects for their propensity to laugh using a “cheerfulness questionnaire.” Those candidates who marked “strongly disagree” on the questions “Everyday life often gives me the occasion to laugh” and “I like to laugh and do it often” were excluded. This was done to ensure that the subjects who were shown a comedy could be expected to emit mirthful laughter. (Participants were allowed to make their choice of a comedy program from the laboratory’s DVD collection, or they brought their own.)

The results showed that ischemia (induced presumably by contracting a blood pressure cuff around the ankle), resulted in a significant increase in brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (as detected by ultrasound imaging) in those watching the comedy (17%) as compared to subjects watching a documentary, who had a brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation decrease of 15%. Carotid artery compliance (a measure of arterial elasticity) increased significantly by 10% immediately after watching the comedy and returned to baseline 24 hours after the viewing. Carotid artery compliance did not change significantly throughout the documentary viewing. The comedy-induced changes in arterial compliance were found to be significantly associated with baseline flow-mediated dilation; thus, those with a healthier endothelium had greater effects from the mirthful laughter (the psychobiochemical changes associated with the physical and emotional effects of laughter). Note that, like exercise, the effects of laughter were transient.

The documentaries watched by the unlucky subjects who had to watch documentaries were not identified except for two examples given: “Iraq for Sale” and “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of the Low Price.” No wonder those subjects didn’t laugh.


  1. Sugawara et al. Effect of mirthful laughter on vascular function. Am J Cardiol 106:856-9 (2010).

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