3.26.2005

Stress + Exertion = Heart Attack (DUH!)

Several years ago I had a heart attack. It came early in the morning, which my doctor explained was the most common time of day for heart attacks. It seems that the most stressful moment in every day for our hearts is when we wake up (full rest to fully awake). When I read this report my first thought was, "DUH!" No kidding. Was there a doctor out there that didn't get the memo? I'm pretty sure the medical community already had that figured our years and years ago. Research is a wonderful thing when what is being researched is something we have yet to learn. Maybe this report was done by the Remedial Research Group at the University College London

3.25.2005

Researchers 1 - Children 0

Research out of the University of Texas states that the social and intellectual development of children 0-3 years is not effected if their mothers spend less time with them (working moms). OK... they can say that, but that doesn't make it sound right. Yes, I'm a guy, so what could I know about such things. Maybe nothing at all. But I did pause when noticing the research was done by working mothers.

Two things. First, it has been demonstrated that research finds what the researchers are looking for. Using logic and cold hard fact gathering often produces exactly what we'd like it to prove. Instinct however tends to only prefer one answer.

And second: Now that the research is published it is this sort of finding that will have a huge ripple effect over time on the choices that families make. I would imagine a counter study will be launched and the issue will take on new legs around marriage,same sex marriages, single parenting, etc.

For now I am sticking with instinct, and I suspect, so will the mothers of a lot of happy babies.

3.23.2005

Change as Seen Through Humor

I think cartoonists can sometimes be the most insightful about what is changing in the world we live in. This blog says alot.

3.21.2005

Is Technology the Answer for Social Networking?

The good folks over at Wired took a look at the current state of social networking. You can read their story here. In the last several months I have 'invitations' from people that signed up for the service, started adding their contact list, which in turn generated an email to me inviting me to update my bio and contact information.

What has happened over time is that I am getting requests from people I don't know, that through someone linked to someone else have found my name and wish to add me to their contacts list.

The idea of using technology to broaden my social/business networks seems attractive. Any change that increases the opportunity to communicate needs to be explored. In this case though I don't think I'm quite ready to jump on board. It feels too 'virtual', like chat rooms and instant messaging where there are no sensory experiences that build trust.

If the social networking folks, like LinkedIn, could hook up with the folks over at Skype, and maybe throw in a bit of webcam.... Hmmm.

Some Folk's Must Meddle

This article in the NY Times is a good example how some folk's believe it's OK to meddle in the choices of others. Or, maybe it's a story created by a paper that can't stand happy beginnings, middles, or ends.

3.18.2005

We the Entitled

I read through a lot of information every day; News from mainstream, opinion columns, press releases, industry news, and blogs (with opinions on all of it). And while reading what the blogs are reporting on I have felt an less than positive undercurrent I couldn't quite put my finger on... until now. The undercurrent I have been feeling is the aura of entitlement in the words and opinion of too many bloggers.

Case in point; Mark Jen gets fired at Google, and in his own words, understands the position and actions of Google even if he does not agree. But, in posts like here, and here, other bloggers have come down on Google as if Google was behind everything evil in the world and scream about how unfair everything is.

Another case in point; A person wanders into an art gallery and is told that pictures of the (for sale) art work are not allowed (story here). I imagine in the original context of what was happening was that the writer found a humorous photo and wanted to share it with friends, and wanted to be in the picture with the art. But after the oh-my-goodness rude treatment by the store manager, SUDDENLY, we have a cause!

NOW the story is about bad marketing and lost opportunity and others have jumped to the 'cause'. Never mind that in writing her rant she did not link to the artist or offer up any support to overcome the shortcomings she was so concerned about, nor was she in the gallery on the artists behalf in the first place.

It's this aura of entitlement that bloggers have started to wear. It sometimes feels like we are being dismissed as silly if we don't see things their way. Their opinions are stated as facts, and anyone else with facts that disagree are told they are offering biased opinion. It's high school, the in-crown and clubs all over again. People are told they are stupid, talked down too. Too many of the bloggers arguments and rants have a whole lot of 'what's wrong with you is...' and not enough, 'here is my take on this topic'. It's blaming and shaming on a grand scale.

The blogsphere is still relatively small. The number of people that even know what a blog is remains a small percentage compared to other, more pervasive technologies or means of communication.

I’d like to believe that the blogging community comes to know that being read by a lot of people does not make a person right. It just means they are (for the moment) popular. We are not entitled; people don’t have to listen or agree.

Having said all of that I’m certain my little corner of readers will review my prior posts to make sure I’m not violating my own opinion.

3.16.2005

Cancer Has a New Enemy

Stopping cancer in its tracks would create a lot of change. Maybe researchers are finally catching up to it.

3.15.2005

How to Co-op a Crisis to Instigate Change

This article over at Science Blog reports that a water crisis awaits Nepal, India and China in 20 years when the Himalayan glaciers have receded beyond a certain level. And the reason the crisis exists is of course, global warming.

Last year a study was released demonstrating that the recent increases in glacial retreat has a starting point far earlier than the capability for mankind to have caused it. In fact the glaciers have been receding for thousands of years. But in the ever present need of mankind to point fingers at something or someone they can control, the dear folks at WWF, the global conservation organization have found all sorts of means to keep firing shots to keep their agenda alive.

Everything they report sounds so credible that it's silly for us to question their findings. Of course the Himalayan glaciers are receding, and yes, it does mean that solutions to that water crisis need to be found. But rather than focus on the problem they hijacked it to prove their own point.

It is so terribly true that mankind has made a mess of the atmosphere and it must be addressed quickly. What never flies with me though is using someone else's pain for gain or attention.

3.14.2005

The End is Near?!

This story out of Milwaukee is heartbreaking and tragic. A bent and distraught man steps into his church, starts gunning people down, and then finishes his rampage on himself. As I read deeper into the story it occured to me that something was feeding the mind of this man, and sadly it may have been the teachings of the church he terrorized. He was a member of a church that is focused on the end of all things. 'The end is near,' is pretty much the message of the Sabbath for the Living Church of God.

His state-of-being was fed by immersion in doom. It makes sense that such a man would be drawn to a church preaching a manmade doctorine of fear. Obviously he was far from normal, not as evidenced by the life he led, but by his final actions.

The christianity I am familiar with is a faith of new beginnings and hope. Waving a Bible inside four walls does not a church make. A church is born of people connecting to the message of God. In the case of the Sabbath for the Living Church of God, they have been built on a message of man. I will pray for the victims, and, for the members that remain.

3.12.2005

Idealism Can Be Stupid

I drove through a fairly high-rent area of Southern California this afternoon, and with activists waving signs from all four corners of an particular intersection a drive-by protest was in progress. The activists were people of that area. Students of privilege, parents of means, people that obviously have experienced more opportunity than others waving their signs and demanding attention to their cause.

Oh yah... their rant of the moment; Stop the evil President Bush and his drive to change Social Security!

Here are the very people that DO have control of their future. Who DO NOT need the safety net of outside assistance. These people are so far removed from the reality of anyone that does or will depend on assistance... it just seems stupid.

What these people are expressing is a feeling about politics, but they've chosen a cause that is hypocritical for them to represent. From the lap of luxury and privilege they want to convince us that their life is miserable because of the evil policies of the current American President.

I remember when ideology seemed the most important thing to me. I guess I don’t remember how silly I must have looked.

3.11.2005

It's FICTION, Not a Manifesto

Jeremy Leggett is chief executive of Solarcentury, the UK's largest independent solar electric company, a member of the UK government's Renewables Advisory Board, and apparently Jeremy Leggett is just a bit full of himself.

Over at NewScientist.com he's decided that Michael Crichton's latest work of fiction, State of Fear, is a real-time manifesto aimed at derailing the global warming movement. I am certainly not qualified to know which end is up in the debate on global warming, but I am qualified to know the difference between a manifesto and a book of fiction written to entertain.

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU JEREMY that you need to beat your chest and cry foul over a story written and presented and fiction. Catch that key word. F-I-C-T-I-O-N.

Change is a tough thing. An issue as large and lengthy in effect as global warming has/is/will create difficult choices, will be pushed back at, questioned, studied, and debated for generations to come. And like all big issues of any time, the story tellers of the day will use current news as a foundation for creating their tales.

While looking for the evil that prevents people from switching to your power-feed (it does not escape my attention that your paycheck comes from your environmentally friendly solar energy company) try looking in the mirror. What many of the loudest of activists don't seem to understand is that by their very radical and in-your-face attitude about what people should do and think, they turn off and turn away the audience they pursue.

Put the book back on the shelf Jeremy and go fight for reform in the world of non-fiction.

A Picture is Worth a Million Years: Timelines

I love timelines... and Parthenon Graphics has posted a bunch. From ancient civilizations and religions to Mary Kay and Harley Davidson, you can get lost for days wondering the paths of time.

3.10.2005

Nature of Man vs Nature of Policies

Pointing fingers is as old and embedded in mankind as is the nature of man to act without moral. You can witness this in the current story on Iraq prison abuses playing itself out in media.

Something really bad happened. A bunch of soldiers, barely beyond their parents grasp in years, were given responsibilities far beyond their moral maturity, and through innuendo and the calamity of the moment reverted into sordid and cruel bullies.

As a young Marine I can remember how I too felt untouchable. Young people in military service are given the greatest power of all. To take life. Anything less than that, at the time you’re living it, almost seems OK. But what they did was not.

Then you have activists and drama-mongers who must have someone to blame – and they’re pointing their finger at the evil leaders in the Pentagon and their ‘policies of terror’. “Of course,” they say, “People don’t do these kinds of things on their own. Someone made them/taught them/forced them to do those terrible things!” “These were just sweet innocent, God-fearing men and women that we sent to war and you corrupted them!”

And of course, those guilty jump at the chance to take the mantle of wrongness from themselves and place it on someone/thing else.

Abuse, cruelty and meanness is around us all the time. Mankind is quite capable of doing such terrible things. That is the way it has been since the beginning of time. The difference for those soldiers in Iraq? Someone took pictures.

3.09.2005

Accountability and Indifference

The news that Boeing released Harry Stonecipher, its CEO, after it was revealed he was having an affair with another executive is an interesting story because it departs from the path of indifference that people have been traveling. So often we are told that a persons shortcomings in one area should not be held against them in another... what someone does in their home should not be factored into how they might be at the office. And, because of the rise in "alternative lifestyles", we are told that lifestyle choices should not be considered in measuring a person at work.

I think Boing got it right. A person does not put on a different set of character traits as they step between work and home. Who we are, what we believe, what we will and will not accept, how we treat others, how we think, and our morality is universal to work and home. If I am capable of lying to a friend, than it makes sense that I am capable of lying to a co-worker or boss. If I demonstrate disdain for others through lifestyle choices, then my disdain will most certainly be present at work.

The most uncomfortable change in society in the last several decades has been a rising militant insistance that the rights of an individual preclude any greater good. At what point can reason and reasonability be recognized?

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3.07.2005

A Change in Society as Seen Though Art

Over at CSM Ben Shapiro writes a solid opinion about changes in art expression over the years. It's a must read.

One particular statement he makes is worth thinking about: "Over the past century, traditional morality has been discarded in favor of personal morality. Subjectivism in art means the death of art; subjectivism in morality means the death of a functioning society. Amorality - the lack of objective moral standards applicable to everyone - quickly devolves into immorality. "

I could not agree more. A successful society works because, as naturally herding creatures, we maintain our respect for the herd. We are a part of it, not the other way around. Though we exist as individuals we can only survive with others.

In the current "state of society" the people wishing to promote personal morality will say that it's working. They'll ask you to look at all of the individuals who live and act in such and such a manner and everything seems to be working out just fine.

What I believe is really happening is the balance of morality beliefs still leans toward "traditional" and it is this part of the "herd" that allows the others to survive. While one portion of the people continues to hold the fabric of our society together, a smaller, but growing part gets to bounce around with indifference, ignorant that their freedom to "be" is supported by the people they would hold in disdain.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I'm going to head back to the herd now.

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3.06.2005

Gunner Palace

Until the last few centuries families and commerce traveled with an army while it was at war. Information about battles, being able to witness the action and knowing the outcomes was immediate. Then it became the practice of the military to isolate itself from the civilian and dependent population as the path to war started to span across continents and oceans.

So far removed we became dependent on the militarys to report on themselves, or on war correspondents that were heavily guided by networks and governments. Of course, if the battles are in your backyard the story is quite different.

What has changed recently is access. Once again we have opportunity to experience, witness, and know. Through technology and social pressure we can know what is real. For each person effected by any war this change could be wonderful or catastrophic. What is important is that we have a choice. Gunner Palace is just such an effort to show more than just news clips.

Video Games are Good

For some parents this report on the just released study by BMC Pediatrics may be as unbelievable as hearing that smoking has health benefits. Sometimes, having our outlook changed on "the way things have always been" to something different feels unrealistic.

Video games stand accused of all sorts of bad things. They promote violence, they curtail the physical growth of our youth, they turn people into video addicts, they inhibit the development of social skills, they are packed with mind-bending subliminal messages, and finally, they are the evil tool of greedy corporations.

I think I'm liking the report findings a lot more than other worried guesses.

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3.02.2005

Change is a Destination

As Seth Godin so aptly reminds us, "Change" is not a destination we arrive at. It is a destination we choose to depart for.

Paranoia, Immigration, and Democracy

Paranoia in control once again. This just in: “The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.”

The big question that comes to mind is: Why is it wrong for people to go where people want to go?

If a citizen of another country enters the United States with the goal of living and working here, but does not participate in all of the checks and balances we’ve created (regulation, taxation, education, etc.) to keep our country socially and economically healthy, then definitely there is a problem with consequence on American citizens.

If a citizen of another country enters the United States with the goal of living and working here, and does participate in the system we’ve established, then I am at a loss to understand what has been harmed.

The whole idea that governments “own” their citizens is archaic enough. Participating in the rules of a country you reside in has merit and benefit. “Ownership” becomes apparent for many when they try to join another country. Some countries do not allow its citizens to move or join anywhere else. The majority of countries make the process of joining onerous and complicated.

As the world we live in becomes smaller and smaller (by virtue of technology and awareness) we will have to rethink what geographic boundaries represent, adjust our attitudes about the movement and freedom of people, and work towards unification of understanding. Right now it appears that governments are fighting like crazy to make old thinking work in a new world.

I personally believe democracy is the answer. Allowing “the people” to choose within an self-established and ordered social structure has produced some pretty wonderful results. I don’t believe it is one man’s (or governments) place to tell another man where they can live. I do believe we should be able to expect that anyone choosing to live here would honor the rules and structures that make this Country great.

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Plotting the Process of Free Will

Could it be argued that without 'free will' our society becomes dogmatic, predictable, and joyless? I believe that would be the case.

At Caltech researchers are studying the effects of marketing on the human brain and along the way are getting "a glimpse at how the brain assembles belief." In application, this sort of understanding could create significant and long lasting change in our world. And maybe not for the better.

I am a marketer by profession, and as such, I think a lot about what other people are thinking. If I want people to sit up and pay attention to something I'm marketing then I need insight to what might cause them to do so. If Caltech succeeds in their research, my job will be a walk in the park.

Instead of using intuition and hope, I'd know. My marketing campaign would be built with triggering elements to insure that my targeted buyers have no avenues of choice but for the one I want them to make. They could no more escape my manipulations than choose not to breath, and all along the way my targets would believe they are making the choice on their own.

So what happens when our 'will' is no longer 'free'? Even worse, what happens in our society when we don't even know our will is no longer free?