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    Dividing camels

    The traditional teaching stories of the Sufi's are often intriguing. One of my favourites is known as Dividing Camels. I originally came across it in Idries Shah's book Thinkers of the East.

    There was once a Sufi who wanted to make sure that his disciples would, after his death, find the right teacher of the Way for them.

    He therefore, after the obligatory bequests laid down by law, left his disciples seventeen camels, with this order:

    'You will divide the camels among the three of you in the following proportions: the oldest shall have half, the middle in age one-third, and the youngest shall have one-ninth.'

    As soon as he was dead and the will was read, the disciples were at first amazed at such an inefficient disposition of their Master's assets. Some said, 'Let us own the camels communally,' other sought advice and then said, 'We have been told to make the nearest possible division,' others were told by a judge to sell the camels and divide the money; and yet others held that the will was null and void because its provisions could not be executed.

    Then they fell to thinking that there might be some hidden wisdom in the Master's bequest, so they made inquiries as to who could solve insoluble problems.

    Everyone they tried failed, until they arrived at the door of the son-in-law of the Prophet, Hazrat Ali. He said:

    'This is your solution. I will add one camel to the number. Out of the eighteen camels you will give half--nine camels--to the oldest disciple. The second shall have a third of the total, which is six camels. the last disciple may have one-ninth, which is two camels. That makes seventeen. One--my camel--is left over to be returned to me.'

    This was how the disciples found the teacher for them

    Here is a sufi comic version from Arif & Ali's Blog

    Dividing Camels

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    Visualisation techniques

    This is interesting, an interactive compilation of data visualisation techniques.

    Visualisation Methods

    Quite a few here I didn't recognise. Click on the image to load the full diagram then hover over each cell for an example.

    Via MacSparky

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    A book apart

    Just bought a bundle from A Book Apart, excellent value - especially as eBooks.

    I already had the CSS3 book by Dan Cederholm and its a good little book. Its the little part that I particularly like, these days I find I do not have the time to work through large technical books and much prefer condensed focused works like the ones published by A Book Apart. Another thing they have right is providing multiple formats so I can read this on my Kindle and the Macbook Air, the prags led the way on this and another favourite publisher.

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    Groups with more women are more intelligent

    Tom Malone on collective intelligence and the “genetic” structure of groups

    The average intelligence of the people in the group and the maximum intelligence of the people in the group doesn’t predict group intelligence.

    and

    So how do you engineer groups that can problem-solve effectively? First of all, seed them with, basically, caring people. Group intelligence is correlated … with the average social sensitivity — the openness, and receptiveness, to others — of a group’s constituents. The emotional intelligence of group members, in other words, serves the cognitive intelligence of the group overall. And this means that — wait for it — groups with more women tend to be smarter than groups with more men.

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    Krinklewood biodynamic wine

    The Krinklewood vineyard was recently given a positive review in the local media so I thought I would give it a try. We would have gotten around to it anyway as we are very keen on organic and biodynamic wines. So last night I picked up a bottle of the 2007 Verdelho which we tried with some high quality lebanese food at a local restaurant. Wow, this is a delicious wine. I haven't drunk much Verdelho and was not sure whether I would find it interesting. So we were pleasantly surprised to find a light crisp taste with definite citrus/passionfruit characters. To my palate it was not unlike a mild sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended and very good value at around $A21. Importantly there were no negative effects the next morning :)

    Here a few notes on the winemaking (read more on their website) "The fruit was picked in the cool of the night at optimum ripeness and was crushed with only the premium free-run juices being used. Fermentation took place in Stainless Steel tanks under cool conditions. The wine was bottled early to retain freshness of the primary fruit characters with very fine filtration" Its good to see bottles boldly declaring their biodynamic origins prominently on the label.

    Until recently many makers of organic and biodynamic wines were loathe to promote this aspect of their wine, apparently many wine buyers were of the view that this was synonymous with poor quality. Its also encouraging to see biodynamic wine of this quality coming from the Hunter Valley region. I've written previously about the inland region of Mudgee where many of the organic/biodynamic fruit is grown successfully, partly due to the lack of moisture related problems that are difficult treat with the limited arsenal available to the organic/biodynamic grower.

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