The Left-Behinds

No, not the The Leftovers TV show…. The “left-behinds”—those who are failing to keep pace with the technological revolution. I am increasingly one of them.

At one time, I was among the “techno” leaders. I was one of the first academics to embrace email and did so at a time when most of my colleagues were rejecting email as a method of communication. I have previously mentioned secretaries I knew in days gone by who resisted having their typewriters replaced by computers and word processing programs. They were among the first left-behinds. At the time, I didn’t fully understand why . . . → Read More: The Left-Behinds

Cheating on Our Ethics Test

We certainly live in interesting times, don’t we…. Lately, we’ve recently seen a number of complaints about how a percentage of those living in the US are only interested in “free stuff.” The main complaint is that those people will vote for Democrats for political office rather than for Republicans, who want to make sure that no one receives “free stuff.” According to some, we have become a culture of “cheaters.” The original impetus for this blog entry was a comment a friend made about the concern companies have about people who “telecommute” and work from home rather than driving . . . → Read More: Cheating on Our Ethics Test

The Hearse Goes By, The Hearse Goes By

If you are old enough, you can doubtless remember the rhyme from childhood about the hearse going by: The hearse goes by, the hearse goes by…. I couldn’t find the version I learned in childhood, but all the versions I saw online are highly similar. The main point is that death is the great equalizer. Everyone eventually ends up dead. In the version I learned, you were buried under the “moss and peat.” That suggests that the version I learned originated in pre-Medieval England, where dead bodies were often left in the abundant peat bogs. For our ancestors, the awareness . . . → Read More: The Hearse Goes By, The Hearse Goes By

Earthquakes

By now, you undoubtedly know about the devastating earthquake in Nepal. You may not have heard, however, about the earthquake in SW Michigan. Earthquakes come in all sizes, from the huge and deadly to the minor shake-ups. Michigan’s earthquake was a minor shake-up. When I was growing up in California, we had numerous minor quakes. Even though they always came as a surprise, we learned to recognize them for what they were. After I had grown up and left, California experienced at least two serious quakes with extensive damage and some deaths, one in northern California and one in southern . . . → Read More: Earthquakes

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