Thursday, August 24, 2006

Blogging is like digital photography

I enjoy blogging.
I think it is an interesting phenomenon that happens when there are no barriers to entry, no costs associated with publishing, and very little technological know-how required to maintain a blog. I would compare the blogging revolution to the digital camera revolution.
100 years ago, only a very few highly trained individuals would have been able to take photographs, the costs and technical competence required made photography prohibitive. As years and decades passed photography got more and more accessible to the point that when I was a kid, I might be given a cheap 35 milimeter camera and take photos that would have blown away a professional photographer from an earlier era. Today, I have mutliple digital cameras and I take thousands of photos, I crop them, I share them, I print them, I email them. They are completely disposable. Can you see where I am going?
Blogging is the literary equivalent of digital photography.
100 years ago, only a very few highly trained individuals would have been able to publish their thoughts and circulate them in any meaningul way.....now publishing your thoughts for the world is so easy to do that it is completely disposable.

This may all seem obvious, if it does, disregard.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Anecdotal Economics, revisited

One of the coolest thing about this blogosphere is that people might just intentionally be looking for something, stumble upon you, and reference what you have written in their work...

Econotrix, a blogger that writes predominantly about economic issues facing Denmark and Latin America, googled the phrase Anecdotal Economics and came across something I wrote.

I was very honored to have been read, and it turns out I enjoy reading his/her blog.

I thought a little more about it, and one of the subjects where the anecdote is especially applicable is unemployment. There is a tendency of people who are doing well, making big money, perhaps owning their own business--to say, "this economy is strong, there is nothing but opportunity."
Conversely, if your doing poorly, underemployed or unemployed, unhappy or dissatisfied professionally, there is a tendency to say, "there is no opportunity for growth, the economy is weak, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

The point is: the empirical evidence stands alone, throw out the anecdotes, use the empirical evidence.

Product placement is the next frontier

Look around you, the targeted messages during commercial breaks are becoming easier and easier to tune out. Some advertisers have gone so far as to buy a whole program in order to offer it, "with limited commercial breaks," just to be somehow remarkable....

And yet, if most people are like me...they tune it out, or click channels, or TiVo themselves to an almost completely commercial free existence.

So how do companies break through? I think creative product placement is the direction that advertising will go, where you don't even really think about it, but you watch your favorite primetime star and while they are walking and talking they non-chalantly drink their Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

One of the coolest product placements I've seen recently was with the show Inked. Chrysler introduced a new PT Cruiser-looking vehicle called a Caliber, and they are very consciously attempting to position this vehicle as edgy, tough, cool...anything but girly and cute. So Chrysler gives a brand new Caliber to Corey Hart and his team of overly "inked" tattoo artists, they pimp it out with rims and now the vehicle becomes the focus of a 30 minute episode and is associated with the coolest and most famous tattoo parlor in Vegas.

And what did it cost Chrysler? Probably next to nothing, a brand new Caliber MSRP is 13,500....wheels, stereo, maybe a little kickback. Doesn't come close to a 30 second during primetime.

Tune out, Turn off, unplug

My buddy Andy, pictured in the red kayak above, and John decided on a whim to go fishing on Monday night, we hit the pond around 9 pm caught a few big catfish, and we were back on the road by 11 pm.

Turn off the TV, the iPod, the blackberry, the laptop, etc….and go do something outdoors with friends and/or family tonight, or this weekend. Real life trumps cyber life every time.

Andy is moving to Springfield this weekend--so our fishing and kayaking days are numbered.
Here is the best photo from one or our kayak excursions.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is there a lawyer in the house?

Class action suit idea:

Jefferson City water district failed to add fluoride to our water for a couple of years, they saved a few thousand dollars, but in the process did irreparable damage to the teeth of those that live in the water district.

I had perfect teeth. Emphasis on had. I have now had more work done than I care to mention, and my sons (7 and 5) have now both had to get crowns, on their baby teeth. They brush every day, drink a ton of milk, and they even floss.

I couldn’t figure out why my oldest was having so much trouble with his teeth and then I read that, woops, our water district just quietly stopped adding fluoride and nobody noticed. Here’s the link.

What can you do?

Go to Wal-Mart (yes, Wal-Mart and I don’t want to hear any anti-capitalist screeds about how Wal-Mart hurts the little guy—it helps the even littler guy…), and buy a Fluoride rinse---use it; you may be able to reverse some of the damage.

I don’t actually want to sue the water district, but I would like to have my nice teeth back and I wish my sons didn’t have silver crowns where their little molars should go.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mediocre Minds

I had a poster growing up on my wall, and I thought it was the essence of strife and opposition, it’s an Einstein quote:

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

It always reminds me of a teacher I had once who implored his students to “question everything.” Don’t take his word for it; don’t believe an “expert,” don’t accept the status quo just because it’s easy. This is not to say that you need to embrace anarchy, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day, but I think he meant to be passionately curious—to at least attempt to independently verify what you are told is truth.

The worst inclination of modern education is to crush the curiosity of it’s disciples in an effort to teach the “right way.”

The next time you are opposing someone, are you the “great spirit” or are you the “mediocre mind"?

Koan of the Week

It’s back, a new “koan of the week.”
(I read this one a while back and now cannot find it again, there are a couple different koans involving a cat, but I liked this one---paraphrased)

The Tied-up cat
A group of monks gathered each day to meditate together, and a young disciple owned a cat that would climb onto the statues and disrupt the monks’ meditation.

The master asked the disciple to tie the cat down to the statue so that it could not interfere with their zazen, (meditation).

The disciple dutifully tied up the cat every time and years past until one day the master became ill and died. The disciple continued to tie the cat down. The disciple with the cat eventually left the monastery and the cat died as well.

The remaining monks got another cat and tied it to the statue.

I think I like this koan because it is so obvious an allegory for some of the rituals that we all go through, sometimes we do things simply because we have been doing it for so long, we assume it must continue to be done.

So, the question is: When is it time to untie the cat?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Randle's Motel and Fine Dining

I didn’t have my camera with me, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, but next time you are driving down 54 towards the Lake of the Ozarks, pull off in Eldon and stop at Randle’s for a burger or a phillie cheese steak and fries.

My dad and I spent Saturday out at the farm, checking on the cattle, doing some odds and ends, fixing an electric fence, taking the front left tire off the tractor to fix a flat. We got hungry and ran up to Eldon and had a tasty lunch at Randle’s.

I look forward to spending days working with my dad on one side and my boys on the other on all the projects that come up on a family farm. He has a lot of teach me, and we both have a lot to teach the boys.

Note to self: go buy another four-wheeler.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I can't handle live performances

Thankfully I cannot physically or emotionally handle watching performances by amateur singers, dancers, actors, and circus freaks so all of the "reality" shows and talent shows that populate the airwaves on primetime TV do not interfere with my daily life.

I am not sure if I am just hard wired to be uncomfortable for other people while they perform, or if it is a learned behavior---having grown up being forced to perform in hundreds of musicals, recitals, piano recitals, trumpet competitions, jazz bands competitions, marching band festivals, etc.....

Regardless, (or irregardless depending on your sense of humor) the beauty of having a remote control is that at any point when some poor schmuck is standing in front of millions of American couch potatoes, belting out a MeatLoaf style rendition of Lionel Richie's hit song, "I'm dancing on the ceiling" I can flip the channel real quick and purge my mind of the hole experience.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A proper dive

For my 30th I taught my sons how to dive off a diving board.

Here is the proper technique...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monty Python's---The Galaxy Song

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power
The sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the Milky Way
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light-years side to side
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick
But out by us it's just three thousand light-years wide
We're thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whiz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is
So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth