Monthly Archives: April 2012

New Page: Teeshirts

I'm blogging this

I'm blogging this.

I added a new page, Teeshirts, to this site. It joins my other pages: ReadingAbout Me, and Quotes to Make You Think. It documents my teeshirt collection from sites like Thinkgeek, Woot, and Threadless.

Yes, I already track my shirts with photos tagged with the term “teeshirt” on Flickr or Teeshirts I Own Pinterest board. Unfortunately, people do not seem to use Flickr much anymore. So much like Reading which is a page on my blog duplicating what I am doing with Goodreads, I’ll occasionally update the local blog version.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

TED Talk: I Share Therefore I Am

Human relationships are rich and they are messy and they are demanding and we clean them up with technology.
— Sherry Tuckle

Technology is the great deceiver. We can use it to craft how we present ourselves to others.

Unfortunately, we lose the connections. As a university campus webmaster, I most preferred meeting in person. Phone was second best. Email only was least. At the time, I thought it a James Borg thing that 93% of communication is non-verbal (words). Email only interactions usually suffered from misunderstandings. People with whom I had single meeting were more understanding and less problematic.

Now days, I think oxytocin generating trust is responsible. Email is just text and misunderstandings happen when the reader has assumptions to mistrust the writer. That meeting in person creates the necessary trust.

Technology does enhance our relationships when used to augment in person interactions not replace them.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

If the above video does not work, then try Connected, but alone?

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

How to Fit Reading Into Your Schedule

Some people identify me as a reader. Fifty books a year sounds way beyond them. Even ten books a year can seem unattainable.

Lifehacker’s How to Fit Reading Into Your Schedule and Actually Finish the Books You Want to Read is an okay start. Its suggestions:

    1. Schedule a Daily Reading Time
    2. Organize or Join a Book Club with Deadline
    3. Set Up a Special Reading Area with No Distractions
    4. Know When to GIve Up On Books You Hate and Find Books You Love

My daily reading times are at meals and before going to bed. A friend organized a monthly book club. My home is my castle. I have a post, Cull and Surrender, on giving up on bad books.

My additional suggestions:

    1. Always have a book. I have a book everywhere I am likely to have free time such as on my bed, in my living room, and in my car. Probably most helpful is having the Kindle app on my phone. My phone is a device I am likely to have everywhere I go, so I no longer have an excuse about not having a book with me.
    2. Make reading a priority. Athletes, musicians, and any expert gets good by spending thousands of hours training. Even when they have small amounts of time, they use it doing something to progress. Reading more works the same way. Any free time, even a few minutes, can help make progress.
    3. Set specific goals. More is pretty nebulous and not inspiring. One book this month is specific, in a short time period, and probably doable.
    4. Track goals. Knowing that I am behind in fulfilling a goal helps me find more time anywhere I can. For a yearly goal, I check my progress quarterly. Because I start the blog post about it a month ahead, I see how far behind I am and double the amount I read to get ahead. I use Goodreads for tracking, but I also post to this site under Reading.
    5. Talk about the books. Books are a valuable ice breaker. As people associated me with reading lots of books, they develop expectations that I finish them about once a week. I have found myself devoting a few extra hours to finish a book just so I can have a new one started before I see them.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Dodos, Maltese Falcons, and the Art of Obsession

Kudos to Lindsey for recommending this. I had watched it before he said something, but I was surprised that I had not posted it on this blog because…

I.

LOVE.

THIS.

TALK.

I’m not this obsessive when I get interested in something. Like Adam though, I never feel I know have or done enough.

MythBusters co-host Adam Savage gives a fast-paced presentation on personal obsessions. Savage explains how his fascination with dodo bird skeletons eventually led to his designing of an exact bronze-cast replica of the titular statue from the 1941 Humphrey Bogart movie, “The Maltese Falcon.”


from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

TED Talk: Trial, error and the God complex

A conversation with the father/grandfather of family friends was about the need of intellectuals in politics. If he meant intellectual as in a natural philosopher which we typically refer to now as scientists, then I would agree. Then again, I really like the flow of try, analyze results, and determine if successful or not. Also, the idea of double blind testing and other measures to achieve objectivity. These are all things rarely seen in politics.

But then again, some people want a leader who is certain. Someone whose bearing means to them they have a handle on the situation to improve things. Never mind that confidence under pressure does not equate to making well reasoned or even successful decisions.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Prom Signalling

“Prom season spending is spiraling out of control as teens continuously try to one-up each other,” said Jason Alderman, senior director of global financial education for Visa. “It’s important to remember that the prom is a high school dance, not a wedding, and parents need to set limits in order to demonstrate financial responsibility.”

From Average prom cost tops $1,000 per teen.

Actually, just like a wedding, it is an opportunity for parents through their kids to exploit signaling theory to communicate they are doing fine financially to members of the community. Some economists complain of similar signalling such as cars that cost more than a house, expensive clothes, and elaborate parties. I seriously doubt children, even teenagers, force their parents to buy things the parents are not willing to buy. Otherwise there would be lots more boys dying in 100+mph car wrecks because they got a muscle car. (Boy do I love to use strawmen.)

Plus, prom is a status war. This year’s people have to out spend last year’s. You want to show you are doing better than the previous year’s people. This is because prom is a replication of debutante balls. But again, I think it is the parents outspending each other not the kids.

This may be the one time it is good for me not to have children.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

An Open Mind

1. A mind willing to consider new ideas. (source)

Tuesday I had the bounty of serving on a trial jury. Perhaps even more so for being chosen to be the foreperson.

Many people gave me advice for how to get out of serving on the jury. None of it I memorized because I was kind of excited about serving on one. Television and movies distort the reality, so getting to see how they really work was something I wanted to experience.

A coworker decided as a well educated, state employee, minority race, with no criminal record, there was no way I would not be picked. He did not warn me as the sole male on the jury foreperson was a given.

One of the items in the charge by the judge given to us jurors was to keep an open mind. The importance of this is that we as a jury have to have a unanimous decision. A single member in disagreement invalidates it. This is what makes it hard. In our civil trial case, two members went strongly one way and another two members went strongly in an opposite way. Hearing the first two’s arguments the latter two shifted some but not all the way. Nor were the first two going go budge. So at an impasse, I realized it was not going to go anywhere, so I asked a bit about having an open mind to change the frame of the discussion. Then I took some votes on the items I thought we were all in agreement to show that of the four points we already agreed 100% on three. It was only the last point that was in contention. So when I asked about splitting the difference being reasonable, everyone agreed it was.

I think playing the “open mind” card helped. I asked one person about how she knew her position. She knew from the beginning certain things. So everything one lawyer said confirmed everything she thought. The opposing lawyer’s statements were all wrong. I responded that stance was the antithesis of having an open mind. I started to use an example with her as the victim, but the conversation shifted before she could respond. When it came back around to the possibility of splitting the difference, her response was that it was reasonable couched in trying to have an open mind. Everyone shifted their positions to meet in the middle.

In the end, the process hurts. There is no reasonable way for everyone to be completely happy. In any direction we as a jury chose, someone is hurt by our decision. This, I think, is the key insight we as citizens ought to learn and keep in mind for when we vote on representatives. We are picking people who have to make tough decisions about how to represent us and sometimes chose to vote for things we dislike. Though to represent us, sometimes that means having an open mind to speak for the people. All too often elected politicians claim a mandate to vote their will over the peoples’.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

TED Talk: The Lost Art of Democratic Debate

When I go to a party, I would much rather to find a discussion about something ideological than anything else that tends to happen at them like drinking alcohol, dancing, or losing my hearing. Also, I should do a better job apologizing after the fact when in the heat of the moment I take a contrary side because no one else will. It is all about teasing out of others what is the essential nature of things and people.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

If the video above does not work, then try The Lost Art of Democratic Debate

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Are We Information Junkies?

Catherine who I follow on Twitter retweeted about agreeing with this blog post:

Last night while sitting at a pub with some friends, the topic of information came up. My friend Tom, in particular, had a few interesting things to say about it. I asked him if he thought that constantly being tapped into the stream of information that the online world affords us was bad thing. Is our constant connection to blog posts, news articles, video, podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook more detrimental than positive? Are we a culture of information junkies?

His response, essentially was “no”. He basically said that in fact (and I’m paraphrasing) we have always been able to tap into information whenever we wanted to. Back in the old days, Tom said he used to scour through encyclopedias, magazines, and books all day long. He was always consuming information and learning new things. I thought back to my younger days and realized I did much the same. You probably did too. The difference is, said Tom, these days information is with us wherever we go. We carry the encyclopedia, and magazines, and book in our pockets. Information is always there, on any topic. It’s an amazing thing, said Tom, and it’s a good thing.

My reading list Back in the old days I owned more books a 9 years old than all of my close friends and their parents put together. I had read every novel more than once. Around a sixth of my books were science and history, which were often partially re-read, often as a result of looking for something specific to get proof of something. It could have been something novel that needed understanding. It could have been a claim by someone else. It probably did not help that from seven to ten years old, I spent a couple hours every week day after school at the library.

Later, as a teen when I played Dungeons and Dragons, I knew my books well enough I could open a book to within a few pages of the information I wanted. Of course, I replaced my Player’s Guide and Dungeon Master’s Handbook three times when they fell apart from overuse.

As a college student, I worked in the university library. It had a larger and much more stimulating collection of journals, books, maps, microfilm, and microfiche than the public library of my childhood. Some thought me a dedicated worker. Ha! Having unfettered access to information was the best form of entertainment.

Only working with computer systems and the Internet, so more information could tear me away from the libraries.

But am I an information junkie? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Finding that kernel of information that answers a question, solves a problem, or wins an argument causes a surge of dopamine. People get the same dopamine high from winning a game.

The delayed gratification of waiting to search my or another library or waiting until I got to a computer to search the Internet was probably a good thing. I’m learning to be better about not whipping out my phone to track down every possible query that comes across my head. Probably a good thing to wait.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4