Monday, September 1, 2008

The Ol' College Effort

I start classes next week. At least, I hope to. I'm having difficulty figuring out what day of the week one of my evening classes meets.

The registrar's office says it meets one day. The syllabus says another day. We received an e-mail message from the professor who claimed it was a third day.

Along with that, the bookstore wants us to buy the eighth edition of the textbook. The prof mentioned in his syllabus that the bookstore wants us to buy the sixth edition, but we should buy the fifth edition. The fifth edition is from 2000.

Topping it all off is the name of the class: Principles of Management.

If that isn't a clear statement on the state of management these days, I don't know what is.

But, on the bright side, this is why we can so enjoy Dilbert.

And have a nice day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Baseball's Instant Replay

Baseball is introducing their version of instant replay. This is needed, you see, because several months back there was a home run which was ruled not a home run. Or not a home run which was ruled a home run. Who can remember?

This is vitally important to the game, you see. What would happen if, in game seven of the World Series, an umpire made a mistake? For, like, 2 weeks, people would care. Maybe.

I actually don't care one way or the other about instant replay. What I've enjoyed is that no one's taking the conversation any deeper. Most seem to be in favor of instant replay, but no one is asking the questions. Do we just do home runs? Do we do any call that a manager argues? Do we do something in between? Will that elephant in the room, er, stadium obstruct the view of the replay camera?

In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. The entire point of it is that once or twice there was a slow sports news day. Sports radio had nothing else to talk about so they made it seem like the lack of instant replay was a crisis situation. In the future, there'll be a complaint about how instant replay was handled. It'll be a slow sports news day. And sports radio will have another crisis Du jour to talk about.

So enjoy baseball. Enjoy instant replay. Enjoy the inevitable "crisis" which will come from it.

And have a good day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Izzy Stradlin - Concrete

According to, Izzy Stradlin has a new album out: Concrete. It's only available, again, on ITunes.


1. Ball
2. Circle
3. Easy
4. Concrete
5. Drove
6. Ship
7. G.B.
8. Knuckleheads
9. I Know
10. Raggadubbacrete


And have a good day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Campaigns and Web 2.0

I found an article on CNN about how politicians are using Web 2.0 for their campaigns and how they're adding Twitter to their stable of applications. I was going to rant about how, based on the e-mails I receive from candidates, they'd probably just use it to bombard us with requests for money.

However, I decided I should actually try Twitter so I could make an educated comment about it. Since I don't know a whole lot of folks who use twitter, I subscribed to political campaign tweets. Bob Barr kept suggesting I check out the new videos on his site. BarackObama (the first one to sign up to follow me, by the way) kept telling me the locations of his campaign stops. I couldn't find a John McCain account. Ralph Nader was micro blogging about a map. Nary a call for money in the lot. So I was wrong.

But I did think back to Bob Graham's 2004 campaign. I shudder to think of what Graham, who allegedly keeps a meticulous log of his daily activities anyway, would have put on Twitter. It's probably best to forget I even mentioned that.

And have a good day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another View on "Web 2.0"

After spending time with my Inbox Zero project, I've finally started catching up on some reading. In the March 2008 issues of Associates, Carol Borzyskowski writes about her and her library's experiences with 23 Things on a Stick, the Minnesota version of Library 2.0. I don't know that there's anything earthshaking in the column, but it is another view on 2.0. Word is spreading.

I did find out, however, there are a few things in 23 Things with which I am not familiar. I'd better get busy learning. After I catch up on my reading. After I finish my Inbox Zero stuff.

And have a good day.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Holiday Reminder

Just a reminder that we have about 15 shopping days until the galactic holiday known as Mark Wentz's Birthday. There are great gift ideas out there for your loved ones. And don't forget to pre-order your doughnuts and pizza as there may limited quantities.

A friendly reminder from

And have a good day

Monday, June 2, 2008

Toward Zero E-mail Messages

Several weeks back, I listened to a vodcast/podcast/video/whatever of a Merlin Mann lecture on Inbox Zero. I guess the point is to have your e-mail inbox empty 10 minutes after you open it. I tried it; and I like it.

I don't follow it to the letter, though. For instance, we're told to have only one archive for saved e-mail messages. Nope; I need more. I do try it keep it simple, but, as an e-mail message archiver, I have needs.

The one hurdle I have yet to overcome are the short-term messages. I get messages that are important for, maybe, two weeks and then can be tossed. There isn't really a place for those in my system. Perhaps I should create a folder called "2 weeks" for those messages. Are there any problems a blog cannot solve?

But, overall, it's refreshing to me to have an empty e-mail inbox. I feel like there is less hanging over me.

Furthermore, I've been more free with my e-mail delete button. That's nice. So often, I don't really need an e-mail message but don't want to keep it either. Now, too bad. DELETE! Sorry, but that one guy said to.

One other note on this. During the lecture, he told us to close our e-mail except for, perhaps, 10 minutes an hour. You waste time when you check e-mail as it arrives. It's better to blow through it all at once and be done with it for an hour. This also solves the problem of people expecting you to reply instantly. They only expect you to reply instantly if you let them expect you to reply instantly. If you stop replying instantly, they'll no longer expect it. Theoretically. Having your e-mail closed 5/6 of the time forces you to not reply instantly. There is one small problem with that.

I'm the guy who expects instant replies to e-mail messages. Oops.

Anyway, check out Inbox Zero.

And have a good day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

golB yM tuobA thgiR t'niA gnihtemoS

Long, long ago, David Rothman, of David Rothman fame, spoke to my group or organization about blogs and their usefulness to society. I, being the studious type, took notes. Included in the notes was a definition Mr. Rothman used for blogs. Blogs are a web page with "dated entries in reverse chronological order." Seems pretty simple, until you get to my other blog. For some reason, the blog has postings in reverse reverse chronological order, or, as I like to call it, chronological order. I see three parts to the definition. My blog missed by only one.

I thought it was funny, but I still wanted it corrected. (My first post wasn't so great, you see.) So I went to wordpress' web page for help (as it is a wordpress blog). They blame my web host service--specifically, the host's version MySQL or something. Their suggestion, since someone else noted that the host (which we share) had a response of "it ain't my problem," was to ask for a refund and get a new web host.

So, anyone with my web host be ready to ask for a refund, move to a new host, read backwards, or fail Mr. Rothman's simple definition.

And have a nice day.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Governor Heckles Library

According to an article in the Rochester Post Bulletin, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty "scoffed" at the idea of a grant to the Chatfield Brass Band & Music Lending Library. The library collects and loans sheet music. Pawlenty is quoted as saying a sheet music library "might be a nice idea, but is that a priority relative to zeroing out the Veterans Home?"

Perhaps someone might want to suggest to Pawlenty that both veterans' homes and libraries are valuable projects. He could try to fund both.

And have a nice day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Fine Description of Baseball

Now that March Madness has become the Final Four and, for some reason, very few people are talking about their "brackets," we turn to the start of the baseball season.

Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist Jim Souhan tells us in the April 2, 2008 print edition that Opening Day is not the best day in the baseball season. The best day is day 2, after all of the socialites have left and those who are actually baseball fans fill the stands--and will fill the stands for 6 months. He says "Among all of the entertainment options available to the American public, perhaps only baseball offers the prospect of a pleasant form of boredom." Well said.

So to all you baseball fans out there, enjoy the boredom.

And have a good day.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shared Cognition and Group Satisfaction

Another article came through on my groupthink RSS feed:

Park, Hee Sun. "The Effects of Shared Cognition on Group Satisfaction and Performance." Communcation Research. 2008 Feb; 35(1):88-108.

Okay, this article isn't about groupthink. In fact, it doesn't even mention groupthink. But it is still a good article and I learned from it.

I have two thoughts on it. First, it discusses two "conversational constraints: politeness and efficiency." In polite conversation, you are "mannerly, courteous, and respectful." In efficient conversations, you are "direct, immediate, and to the point, not wasting time, energy, effort, or steps." This may be not be news to people reading this, but it is news to me. I'd put this almost on par with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as an important tool for communication. Just as an INTJ needs to understand that an ESTP is going to go about communication differently; a polite conversationalist needs to understand the difference with an efficient conversationalist.

Second, the author goes on for several pages talking about how the study was probably inaccurate and why. I love that! Perhaps I spend too much time following politics, where saying you're wrong is not in the playbook, but I love that scientists openly admit being wrong. Even when there are no indications of being wrong, they still say, "this warrants further study."

There's a certain level of being comfortable in your skin when you can say, "yeah, I believe this is correct, but double-check my work if you like."

A good read, and I learned a lot. But, rather than read this article, you might be better off reading the text on polite versus efficient conversation.

And have a good day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union Address

I'll be honest. While I follow politics a bit, I tend to skip the speeches because they tend to not tell us anything. It's all show. So, I didn't watch last night's state of the union address. However, I did read about it in the newspaper. Two quotes caught my attention.

First, about taxes.
Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome
their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks
and money orders.

This demonstrates the immaturity of Bush which will be a major part of his legacy. Of course, an uncoordinated and unpredictable influx of money will be of little use to the government. You can always do more as a group than as an individual. Some people are suggesting we, as a society, look at ways to improve lives. Bush can't understand that idea; thus the sarcastic remark toward those who have an ability to understand.

The second quote is about trust:
So in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free people to make wise
decisions, and empower them to improve their lives and their futures.

Certainly not a bad philosophy. One thing gnaws at me whenever I read Republicans preaching about trusting the people. Trust never comes up when talking about abortion or same-sex marriage. In those two instances, suddenly it's the government's job to step in, regulate, and tell the people what to do. Oh yeah, and write up amendments to the Constitution. And the trust keeps rolling in.

Yeah, after reading about the state of the union address, I feel secure in my decision to not watch political speeches. I'll listen to music, watch a television show, read a book, ... okay, okay, I'll surf the web.

And have a good day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Groupthink and People Who Don't Get It

An unfortunate article came through my groupthink RSS feed today.
Butler M. Our HR columnist: Work is a team sport--but beware of 'group think' that ignores the needs of the organization. People Management. 2007 Nov 29;13(24):43.

This article is frustrating because Butler comes to the correct conclusion--beware of groupthink--even though every step on the way to those conclusions is just a bit off. Instead of acknowledging groups need to be cautious, he suggests that teamwork can be hazardous. No one, to my knowledge, is warning against teamwork. We are warned that group dynamics need to be monitored.

So, while Butler advises correctly that we need to be "eternally vigilant," I would not suggest promoting this article as ignorance seems to be the skeleton of the piece.

If you don't have access to this article, feel comfortable in keeping it that way.

And have a good day.

Groupthink and Citizen Juries in The Netherlands

A month ago, this article came across my groupthink RSS feed.
Huitema D, van de Kerkhof M, Pesch U. The nature of the beast: are citizen's juries deliberative or pluralist? Policy Science. 2007;40:287-311.

To be honest, this article is over my head, but here is what I got out of it. Citizens' (as opposed to penal) juries are minipublics. The conclusion of the article is that you need to design a citizens' jury based on what you want to get out of the jury. Deliberative juries would need to be formed and processed one way while pluralistic juries would need to be formed and processed another way.

Since juries are groups, precautions need to be taken to prevent groupthink. In a deliberative jury, special precautions need to be taken because there is a strong desire to build consensus. In a pluralist jury, there is a strong sense of authority which sends up a groupthink red flag.

A good and interesting read, even though I didn't understand all of it. Some day I'll learn enough to keep up. I suggest giving the article a read.

And have a good day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Don't Make Me Turn This Web Browser Around

There is certainly a positive aspect in being a shack with no curb appeal on the information superhighway. It's rare that anyone is paying close enough attention to me to start some blogosphere fisticuffs as we've seen this week. In case you missed it, David Rothman took issue with Dean Giustini's BMJ (British Medical Journal) editorial and gauntlets were thrown down.

No, when even your own spouse never reads your blog you're pretty safe from blogfrontations.

However, blog spats might be a pretty good focus for a blog. You know, just keeping tabs on which blog celebrities are feuding with other blog celebrities and putting the information out there for the world to take note. It should be a rollicking good time. Unless political blogs are involved; then it's an eye-rolling good time. (It used to be about the politics; now it's all politics.)

The problem is, of course, the style in which these two are airing their grievances. Sharp, but respectful, comments in--as close as a blog will allow--a discussion. No good. There is only one true way for a geekery 2.0 (if you will) battle to commence: the Slayer application on Facebook and put the footage on YouTube (mind the tags!!!). Keep up with the times, fellows.

And have a good day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Group Think and Ethical Decisions

A recent article mentioning groupthink:
Prentice, RA. Ethical Decision Making: More Needed Than Good Intentions. Financial Analysts Journal 2007 Nov/Dec;63(6): 17-30.

This article starts out reading like a litany of ways white collar criminals are victims: Obedience to Authority, Conformity Bias, Incrementalism, Groupthink, Overoptimism, Overconfidence, Self-serving Bias, Framing, Sunk Costs, and Loss. However, at the end, it seemed more like a warning to financial analysts--telling what they're up against--before telling them how to steer clear of these demons.

What devices can be used to avoid unethical decisions and practices? Debiasing, keeping ethics in the frame of reference, monitoring rationalizations, and acting courageously. Of course, if you want to know what all this jargon means, you'll need to read the article for yourself. I suggest you do, as it was a very good read and very informative.

And have a good day.