Changing Channels

A recent Internet news article, “Want To Look Smarter? Stop Sending Emails And Speak Like A Human,” by Emily Peck, reminded me of the ways communication channels influence the meanings of messages. The principal communication channels fall into three general classes: visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic (touch, taste, smell, and emotional response). Although neither the article nor the study on which it is based specifically addresses the concept of channel richness, that is basically what the article is about.

Face-to-face (F2F) is considered the richest communication channel because it conveys the most information. Assuming . . . → Read More: Changing Channels

The Vaccine Wars

I am old enough that I had most of the childhood illnesses for which vaccines are now available. I had both kinds of measles, chicken pox, mumps, and (I believe) whooping cough. I did have a number of vaccinations as a child, including small pox, tetanus, and probably some others. In my early 20s, I was among those who took the first version of the vaccine for polio developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. When I was in the Army, all new recruits were vaccinated against everything for which vaccines were available, including plague, probably in anticipation of our being sent . . . → Read More: The Vaccine Wars

Actions Speak Louder than Words

We’ve known for a long time that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but we tend to forget the wide variety of ways the saying applies. When we recognize that everything is “information,” we can begin to notice what is “high-quality” information and what information is of lower quality. The higher the quality, the greater the likelihood that the information will prove true over time. A pudding that looks really good, for example, may not taste as good as it looks. The food you see advertised on TV, is typically not edible. It’s made to look good . . . → Read More: Actions Speak Louder than Words

Political Realities

I started political life as an Eisenhower Republican. I was in the 5th grade, and one of our assignments was to study the presidential election of 1952 and choose a candidate to vote for. Eisenhower was the Republican. Stevenson was the Democrat. My parents liked Ike, so I liked Ike, too. Others in my class also aligned with their parents—understandable given our age. It is only in retrospect I can see and understand how those early influences began shaping my political philosophy. Eisenhower is remembered primarily for initiating the Interstate Highway System and for warning us against the Military-Industrial Complex. . . . → Read More: Political Realities

Social Media and Our Collective Well-being

A long time ago (1985) a New York University professor, Neil Postman, published Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. One of the principal ideas is that television is “entertainment,” even when the subject is serious. The “news” becomes just another “show.”

From time to time I have wondered what Professor Postman would have thought about social media. His principal complaint about television was that it turns “news” into “entertainment.” Rational discourse was replaced by video and sound “bites,” with the focus of attention increasingly fleeting and fragmented. I remember the history of television . . . → Read More: Social Media and Our Collective Well-being

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

My guess is that readers of this blog already know that oxygen is a principal key to the health and well-being of life on Earth. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a way of delivering oxygen directly to the blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids. Although it is often done in a hospital setting, especially in burn units, some individuals have purchased units for their own use. HBOT chambers come in two varieties, hard chamber (HBOT) and soft chamber (mHBOT). Hard chamber units are able to employ higher pressure to address certain kinds of problems best treated in hospital settings, although . . . → Read More: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Are We There Yet?

The question, “Are we there yet,” is a cliché of traveling with children. We expect adults, even those grown weary with traveling, to have a better understanding of how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B. This blog entry is about our collective journey from racism to a “postracial” culture. It was prompted by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, following yet another police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. The policeman, as is usually the case, was white. One such shooting isn’t the real issue, of course. The problem is that this one was just one . . . → Read More: Are We There Yet?

Evolution

“Evolution” refers to change occurring over time, typically in a positive direction. As Darwin envisioned it, species changed (gradually) over time to enhance their ability to survive. These days the word is commonly used for any change that seems to be for the better. Not everyone, of course, agrees on what’s “better.” When President Obama says that his views of gay marriage are evolving, he means that he is becoming more tolerant and accepting. Not everyone, including members of the Westboro Baptist Church, however, would agree that’s a change for the better.

One of my favorite writers, Steven Pinker, . . . → Read More: Evolution

True Believers

I recently had two online exchanges with “True Believers.” In my case, both were Christian “literalists” whose “true belief” was in Biblical inerrancy, believing that the Christian Bible is literally the “Word of God” and therefore contains no errors. The belief in inerrancy is more complex than the phrase implies, as there are so many different versions of the ancient texts. My concern is with inerrancy in general rather than which particular form it takes.

Christians aren’t the only ones who have an inerrancy faction. Muslims have one, too. Sunnis and Shia are currently in the news for their . . . → Read More: True Believers

In My Family…

An old story whose origins are unknown to Google is about a relatively newlywed couple who wanted to divide chores evenly having weekly arguments about whose turn it was to mow the lawn. Other household tasks weren’t a problem. The husband had his responsibilities, the wife had hers, and each was comfortable with the assigned tasks with the exception of lawn mowing. They had agreed to take turns but had trouble tracking whose turn it was from week to week. After months of arguing about whose turn it was to mow the lawn, the wife blurted out, “In my family, . . . → Read More: In My Family…