RSSCategory: Communication

What if Obama had said it (rather than Trump)? Bill Maher’s excellent experiment.

August 8, 2017 | By | Reply More

On a recent show, Bill Maher asked what we would think if Obama had said the things Trump has actually said, verbatim? Then he put comedian Reggie Brown to work:

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The Heroism of Chelsea Manning

May 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

Now the that Chelsea Manning has finally been released from U.S. custody, Glenn Greenwald takes this opportunity to recount her heroism:

Though Manning was largely scorned and rejected in most mainstream Washington circles, she did everything one wants a whistleblower to do: tried to ensure that the public learns of concealed corruption and criminality, with the intent of fostering debate and empowering the citizenry with knowledge that should never have been concealed from them. And she did it all knowing that she was risking prison to do so, but followed the dictates of her conscience rather than her self-interest.

BUT AS COURAGEOUS as that original whistleblowing was, Manning’s heroism has only multiplied since then, become more multifaceted and consequential. As a result, she has inspired countless people around the world. At this point, one could almost say that her 2010 leaking to WikiLeaks has faded into the background when assessing her true impact as a human being. Her bravery and sense of conviction wasn’t a one-time outburst: It was the sustained basis for her last seven years of imprisonment that she somehow filled with purpose, dignity, and inspiration.

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“Ataraxia”: My Favorite New Word

May 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

Ataraxia:

For Epicureanism, ataraxia was synonymous with the only true happiness possible for a person. It signifies the state of robust tranquillity that derives from eschewing concerns about an afterlife, not fearing the gods (because they are distant and unconcerned with us), avoiding politics and vexatious people, surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends, realizing that the physical things one needs to be happy are few and that pain seldom lasts long, and, most importantly, being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust.

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On interfering with elections

April 25, 2017 | By | Reply More

The U.S. has accused Russia of interfering with the recent U.S. Presidential election. That accusation needs to be viewed in context:

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

This  information is from a detailed article in the LA Times, with many specifics. For instance, the U.S. tried to interfere with the election of the Russian leader in 1996. According to the same article, Russia attempted to interfere with “36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century.”

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The cost of interruptions

April 23, 2017 | By | Reply More

When I’m trying to write, I really get frustrated with interruptions. That’s why I try to write at times when interruptions will be limited, and I turn off my phone and close my email while I write.

Today I discovered that the effects of interruptions have been measured. This stunning conclusion is complements of Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine:

How long does it take people to get back on task? We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

The article offers that not all interruptions are the same, and in fact, some interruptions are beneficial. However, the author of this article echoes my own general frustration:

Are we becoming more superficial thinkers? I argue that when people are switching contexts every 10 and half minutes they can’t possibly be thinking deeply. There’s no way people can achieve flow. When I write a research article, it takes me a couple of hours before I can even begin to think creatively. If I was switching every 10 and half minutes, there’s just no way I’d be able to think deeply about what I’m doing. This is really bad for innovation. When you’re on the treadmill like this, it’s just not possible to achieve flow.

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Blue Lies Take Center Stage in the Era of Trump

March 29, 2017 | By | 3 Replies More
Blue Lies Take Center Stage in the Era of Trump

Donald Trump tells numerous easily disprovable lies: an average of 3 false or misleading claims per day for the first 100 days of his presidency. But his followers don’t seem to care. I’m not surprised that this technique of telling numerous bald lies works. I’ve long thought of these utterances as “tribal truths,” and I’ve seen it all my life, especially in the areas of politics and religion. Today I learned another term for this phenomenon: “Blue Lies.”

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It’s time to help raise lots of money for Melania Trump

March 24, 2017 | By | Reply More

It’s stunningly clear that Melania Trump can’t stand Don’t Trump, yet she is still married to him. That she is extremely uncomfortable around Donald is increasingly clear from widely available photos and videos of the two of them.  And see here.  Recent revelations suggest Melania despises Donald and won’t sleep with him.  Further, Melania has no intention of living in the White House even though it’s a big house with a lot of room for the entire family.  So why does she stay with him?  And why won’t she go public with detailed stories about Donald’s misconduct and potential illegalities?

When Donald Trump married Melania Knauss we know for a fact that he forced her to sign a prenuptial agreement.   That agreement is carefully hidden from public view, but we know enough about Trump’s love of money and power, as well as his vindictiveness and narcissism, that we can assume that the prenup is laden with incentives to keep Melania well-behaved and quiet.

But why limit the legal restrictions to a prenup? There are additional types of contracts that Trump could have foisted on Melania, before or since the wedding. Imagine that you were a psychopath like Trump?  What else would you entice Melenia to sign? How about non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement agreements laden with penalties for whispering even a word about Donald’s dirty laundry? The Donald Trump we all know would rig his agreements with Melania so that she would be financially incentivized dress up pretty, quietly stand there to look like a wife but keep her mouth shut.   Donald Trump’s penalty-filled contracts with Melania, crafted by the best lawyers money can buy, would make sure that Melania would end up destitute if dishes Donald’s dirt.  None of this is difficult to imagine.

What do we need to do to hear Melania’s front-row seat stories about Trump’s double-dealing, lying, betrayals and illegalities?   What if we set up a “Free Melania!” GoFundMe page?  What if we raised enough money for Melania to share copies of the contracts Donald made her sign?  What if we raised so much money that even a gold-digger like Melania would have enough money to live on after she files the divorce papers and tells all?

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Only one space after a period!

March 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

In high school typing class (in the 1970s), I learned that there are TWO spaces after a period. Since then, I’ve learned and relearned from reputable sources that there should only be one space following a period, but shaking that habit has not been easy. Today, I was reminded that there is no dispute about what to do after hitting a period on a keyboard:

Felici writes that typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20th century. America followed soon after.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left.

Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.)

Let this be the day when my fingers start doing what my brain has been trying to tell them to do for decades!

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On Reverse-Engineering a Soldier’s Death to Justify More of the Same

March 3, 2017 | By | Reply More

From Glenn Greenwald, of The Intercept:

While there is certainly truth in the claim that Trump’s use of the suffering of soldiers and their families is politically opportunistic, even exploitative, this tactic is hardly one Trump pioneered. In fact, it is completely standard for U.S. presidents. Though Trump’s attackers did not mention it, Obama often included tales of the sacrifice, death, and suffering of soliders in his political speeches — including when he devoted four highly emotional minutes in his 2014 State of the Union address to narrating the story of, and paying emotional tribute to, Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

George W. Bush also hauled soldiers wounded in his wars before cameras during his speeches, such as his 2007 State of the Union address, where he paid tribute to Sgt. Tommy Rieman, wounded in Iraq.

There are reasons presidents routinely use the suffering and deaths of U.S soldiers and their families as political props. The way in which these emotions are exploited powerfully highlights important aspects of war propaganda generally, and specifically how the endless, 15-year-old war on terror is sustained.

. . .

By dramatizing the deaths of Americans while disappearing the country’s victims, this technique ensures that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it. That, in turn, is what keeps Americans supporting endless war: These savages keep killing us, so we have no choice but to fight them.

Greenwald points out that our natural sympathy for family members of brave dead soldiers is consciously reverse engineered at events such as President Trump’s recent speech, such that the heroism of the soldier appears to make the war a worthy war and the President a worthy President.

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