Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who matters most, teachers or students?

This is a sad story, no matter how you look at it.  The school was a perennial failure.  Something had to be done.  I am greatly impressed that the school board and superintendent had the determination to do something.  I'm not positive that this was the right answer.  But it shows that the top priority is the children, and not the teachers or their union.

I certainly feel for the teachers who are being laid off.  Up to half of them might be re-hired, if their unions will allow them to go back to work.

I understand the necessity of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers.  But this becomes less and less relevant as we deal with more and more professional workers.

The teachers have to accept some of the blame for the school's performance.  Insisting on $90/hour for the additional work it would take to get back on track is not how one should behave when accepting responsibility.

I fear this story is not over.  And I fear that it will be repeated.  Lawsuits and counter-lawsuits.  The union may well boycott the school or district.  But this is clearly a watershed moment for the teachers' union.  They need to think very clearly about their next steps.  They don't really want to see non-union teachers take over the school and improve performance.  That would be the worst possible outcome for the union.  But I wouldn't be surprised at all to see exactly that outcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Too much law

Ignorance of the law is not supposed to be an excuse.  But we have breached the point where an average person could not possibly figure out which laws apply to them.

This lawyer makes the case quite well, and gives some great ideas about what we should do about it.

Convergence of video games, advertising, and life achievements

I like to think I'm a futurist.  This guy is ahead of me.  If you are curious about what our daily lives will be like in the near future, watch this 30-minute video.  Brilliant, and not as scary as I had expected.

Unemployment idea

The people who are supposed to know such things are forecasting many years of high unemployment.  High unemployment is a huge drag on the economy.  Unemployed people don't buy stuff.  Stuff being bought is the driver of our economy.  Unemployed people can't make their mortgage payments.  Missed mortgage payments hurt the banks.  This is a troubling vicious cycle.

The top 1% of the US population now gets about 60% of the income in the country.  That is a massive concentration of wealth.  This is a social problem.  But it may also be a great opportunity.

We need to get people back to work.  And we have a small group of people with the resources to hire them, if only they will.  So how do we enable the rich to employ the unemployed?

Traditionally employment involves having an idea for a product or service, forming a company, managing a company, etc., etc., etc....  I've done some of that, and I don't really blame people for not wanting to do it.  So what if we shortcut that?

Let's form a single non-profit company.  Let's hire unemployed people to build and manage the company.  Let's offer basic benefits, like health insurance, and low-but-livable salaries.  Let's put up a website where anyone can suggest projects for the company to work on.  We'll do make-work, if we have to.  But it would be better if we could do work that would actually benefit society.

It will be a non-profit company.  Any services provided would be either no-cost or low-cost to the recipient of the services.  Any products created would be given free, or virtually free.

We would have to employ a management staff to hire people and administer the business.  We would need project managers to oversee the (probably) large number of small projects being done.  All of the work would be fully documented, so anyone and everyone could see that the workers were doing what they were asked to do.

Clean up that vacant lot and build a park.
Repair those old people's houses.
Tutor children after school.
Help poor people apply for assistance programs.
Provide free after-school care for single parents.
Whatever, wherever, whenever.

Obviously the company would be donation-driven.  Donors would get priority in voting for projects, and would get whatever amount of progress reporting that they wanted to see.

As the economy rights itself, sometime in the future, the workers will start finding better-paying jobs.  The company will definitely shrink, but depending upon the level of need it might not ever go away.

It would be something like a Goodwill for people who are fully employable, but who just can't find jobs right now.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's next?

Yesterday I asked what's the next after environmentalism.  I think I figured it out.  Maybe.  I need a name for it.


The planet's climate changes.  Even if all humans died today, and all traces of human life were magically erased,  the planet would still continue to get warmer.  Until its natural cycles decided it was time to cool, and then it would cool.

Even if we reached the goal of becoming carbon and warming neutral, the planet would continue to warm and cool.  We don't know how warm it will get, even if we completely stop contributing to the warming.  Becoming warming neutral is the wrong goal.  Even if we win that battle we could lose the war.

Stop naively assuming that we can survive the natural maximum and minimum temperatures on this planet!

Curb your human-centric egotism.  This planet doesn't care if we live or die.

Our war is a fight for survival on a planet that only temporarily supports our species.

This planet has maximum and minimum temperatures outside of the ranges for sustaining human life.  This planet has natural life-cycles that will kill us if we do not prepare to survive through them.

We cannot bio-engineer the planet to stop the changes.  Perhaps we can reach the level of technology to bio-engineer the top and bottom of the planet's temperature range to fit within our range, but that seems very unlikely.  Perhaps we can learn to draw down the naturally increasing salinity of the seas to stop the next massive sea-life extinction, but probably not.

We are the only thing we can change.  We need to focus on expanding our survival range.  Minimizing our negative impact might be helpful.  But that won't save us.

We have to study the planet in a much more organized fashion--mature from alchemists to chemists.  We need to understand the maximum and minimum temperatures the time-tables for when the planet will get outside of our temperature range.  We have to learn to live without sea-life.  We have to learn what else we can eat and breath.

Then we have to develop systems and processes to survive those periods.  Probably we are hundreds or thousands of years from the next extinction point, but there is hundreds or thousands of years of work that must be done before that point.

The simple fact is that we don't know how far we are from the next natural extinction point.  The only thing we know is that the light at the end of that tunnel is a train, and we will not survive if we do not focus on the right goals.


What do I call this?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One more Global Warming post

The end is near for the warm mongers.  The Wall Street Journal has flipped and become skeptical of the science behind this movement.  Major British papers, the The Daily Mail and London Times are both now openly skeptical and ridiculing of the warm mongers.

I'm tiring of this subject.  It's today's news, and I'm much more interested in tomorrow's news.  I've spent a little time thinking through how the rest of the collapse will play out.  This is interesting, because there are opportunities that can be seized.

Advocacy Opportunities
Right now there are millions of dollars pouring in to climate change (warm monger) think tanks and consultancies.  That will dry up very soon.  All of those donors will be angry and disillusioned.  Someone could sing the right song and build out the next environmental care group and sweep up those millions.  They just have to be very careful in how they talk about man-made global warming.

I doubt that will happen.  That money will go to some cause other than environmentalism.  Certainly some money will go there, but the bulk will go elsewhere.  I wish I knew where.

The Next Environmentalism
There are many companies that are retooling and shifting their product lines to be more environmentally friendly.  Much of that is driven by public opinion on global warming.  Some of it is also based upon reduction of pollution.  Some of it is based upon energy independence.  But those two drivers were unable to get the ball really rolling until the warm mongers began their hyped-up scare tactics and well-funded media blitz.  Without the support of the global warming scare people will soon forget why we are working so hard to be environmentally friendly.

There is an opportunity for someone to remind them--similar to the above opportunity.  But what I think will happen is that the pendulum will swing away from environmentalism for a while.  So there is opportunity for an entirely new issue to capture the public's attention.  What will be the new environmentalism?

That's a great question.  Fiscal responsibility might be the new environmentalism.  Worker's rights might be it. Nationalism might be it.  Employment is the biggest issue facing the US today, so some form of employment guarantees is a good guess.  Inflation is going to be the next great challenge facing the US, so that's a good guess, too.

Product Fallout
Electric cars, wind turbines, and solar power will all have to find a new reason to exist. Without global warming scaremongering they are all dramatically less attractive products.  They are here now, with lots of people relying on those jobs.  They will be the last to admit that the global warming scare was a hoax.  But when they do they will blow out their marketing budgets trying to find a boogeyman.  My guess is that they will choose energy independence.  That's good, because energy independence is a good thing.

But I don't think that the American public will buy it.  Sarah Palin seems to do well with her crowd.  But even after the global warming hoax is put to bed the anti-Sarah crowd will never get on that bandwagon, if for no other reason than because Sarah and her crowd are there.  Can you imagine a Prius commercial fear-mongering about Arab oil power?

So I am afraid that many of these good products will ultimately lose out.  There was already a great contraction coming, as the time neared to pick a winner between the competing green energy sources.  I'm afraid that will come much faster now.  Few green power products will survive.  It's winner-take-all, and the next great innovation will be the winner.  I wish I knew who that would be: solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cell.  If I had to put money on it I would go with hydrogen fuel cells, but that's just a guess.  This little nuclear reactor looks like it has legs.

Political Fallout
I would love to say that the long-term advocates of global warming will face consequences for their misjudgment.  But that's never happened before in the political realm, so why think it will happen now.  The politicians who once advocated cap-and-trade and other global-warming prevention policies will simply stop talking about it and it will be forgotten.

I would love to say that politicians will be slower on the uptake and more cautious next time.  Again, I can't imagine that happening now when it has never happened before.  The political class will continue to be the same self aggrandizing sheep they have always been.

I do think that the fiscal problems that the capitalists have made do open the door for socialists of all stripes to gain some ground.  But that's not because of global warming, really.  But the socialists who attempt to gain ground will point to global warming scaremongering as one of the reasons why capitalists cannot be trusted--as if they needed a second reason.  But, ultimately, I think that American's are too independent a bunch to go for much official socialism.

If the libertarians could construct an attractive platform and leadership then they could make a lot of hay right now.  Again, not because of the global warming fiasco, but in part because of it.  "Don't give Washington enough power to do this again."  But that won't happen.  Attractiveness and libertarianism seem to be mutually exclusive.

Environmental Fallout
Pollution is a real problem that has never gotten the attention it deserves.  It will get even less for the next decade or so.  That's a shame.

Climate does change, it just takes a lot longer than the warm mongers have been claiming.  And human activity is not one of the principle causes.  Humanity needs to spend real scientific effort to understand climate change and figure out how to better cope with it.  That has now been set back by at least a hundred years.  That's a shame.  But that's the problem of a much later generation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 is now live!

The surveys have launched.  There is much to do still, to get people to come take the surveys.  But the first big hurdle has been cleared.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, please click through and take it:

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

H.R. 3149: Equal Employment for All Act

Representative Steve Cohen has introduced this bill which would make it illegal for companies to run a credit check on a candidate for employment or promotion.

Right now this is a common practice.  There is a little merit in this practice.  The thinking is that it is kind of like a pre-crime criminal background check--someone with a very bad credit rating might be more likely to steal from the company.  I don't think that the connection has ever been proven.  But maybe I can see the connection--or at least the line of reasoning.  A few years ago when I was a hiring manager and the economy was pretty strong, this seemed like a good idea to me.

Now I'm a prospective employee and the economy is terrible.  My credit rating is still excellent.  But it won't be for much longer.  It's not my fault that the economy is terrible.  But I'm about to get shut out of the job market.

I'm working on a project to help people find better jobs faster.  But lots of them have been laid off for a while and their credit rating has taken a hit.  This is about to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and make it impossible for the job market to pick back up because all of the prospective employees fail the credit rating screening.

This bill would be a great benefit to unemployed people.  It would add some risk back to companies.  But I think that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The bill is stuck in the House Financial Services committee.  It's been there for months.  Click through here to see the members of this committee.  Then if your representative is on that committee contact him/her and express your desire to see this bill get out of committee and passed into law.  I would suggest a simple letter like this:
H.R.3149, the Equal Employment for All Act,  is currently before the House Financial Services, of which you are a member.  This bill would significantly help a large number of Americans who are already having a very hard time through little or no fault of their own.  It might also benefit some fools or even a few crooks.  But the good that it would do for very many people far outweighs any negative side effects.  Please take action to get this bill to out of committee and on to the House floor for a vote.
The site above has links to maps so you can figure out who your representative is, if you don't know.  There are 5 Texas representatives on the committee, but mine is not.

Update on 3/2/10: It is being reported that some states are taking up the idea of banning credit checks for job seekers.  I'm not really optimistic of this happening, but it would help.

Father's Workshop

Mike Burns had a neat idea.  We brainstormed it a bit and he said I could write it up here.  Hopefully we will find a way to do this.  Mike calls it "Father's Workshop", but I'm not sure that name will stick long-term.  :-)

The idea is that we would establish a wiki-like site for each church.  Each church would have an administrator, probably in the congregation care ministry.  That administrator would be responsible for creating user accounts for members who wanted to participate.  That would be the only way to get into the system--so it would be limited to believers.

People could get onto the site and post their ministry project ideas/needs.  These could be anything from plumbing to web work.  Whatever a minister/ministry needs.

People could "bid" on doing the work, or volunteer to do the work for free.  But even for pro bono work there would often be supply costs, either initial costs or on-going costs.  But people who are interested in a project could post notes describing how they think it could be done and stuff like that.

People could also fund the ideas.  That would include the whole gamut of micro-donations to fully funding.  Maybe the donors would have the option to give anonymously.

The site would allow interested parties to discuss and plan the project, set dates, assign tasks, etc.  As the work was done there would be status updates.  When the work was completed the project would get marked "done".

Each church would have a local site that included only people and projects for their local church.  Churches that chose to might connect their local sites in order to broaden their resource pool--I'm thinking especially of churches that start other churches.  And there would be a system-wide site where churches could reach out to any/all other churches for big projects.

Think about Haiti.  This would have made it much easier for many churches to connect up quickly and coordinate their work.

This might also be a perfect way to get my 'Praying with Friends' Facebook application built.

So, what are the next steps?
* Look around and make sure that someone isn't already doing something like this.
* Look at some bid-work sites like Amazon Turk, Odesk, and Scriptlance to develop an appropriate feature set.
* Talk to some ministers to see if they would be willing to participate, and get their feedback on the design.
* Work up a budget for v1 and look around for someone to fund getting it built.

I don't think of this as a money-making endeavor.  Some people would need to get paid something for doing the work of building this.  There would probably be some ongoing expenses for hosting and technical support.  That might be covered by donations or advertisements.  I don't see charging a membership fee to either a church or to individuals.

Youth ministry idea: Position Book

My BA is in Christian Ministry from ETBU, and I did a year and a semester towards my M.Div. at New Orleans Seminary before family happened and I ended up getting a real job.  I had started school expecting to go pastor and church-plant on the mission field.  When I went to seminary that plan had morphed into teaching Bible Interpretation, maybe in the US but probably on the mission field.

I was never a youth ministry guy.  I fumbled my way through a summer missions stint as a youth pastor at a little church in Idaho.  But kids were never my calling.

Now I have a kid in youth group.  I was talking to some friends today about their kids in youth group.  I got a fresh perspective on the struggles and issues of running a youth ministry.  I have a new understanding of one of the big mostly-hidden problems of youth ministry.  And I have an idea how the problem might be solved.

Youth ministry involves teaching people's kids.  Those kids' parents come from a diverse background.  They have very different opinions on things like music, clothes, dating, movies, food, etc.  These are not really Bible issues.  The Bible only speaks to these issues indirectly.  I think that the topics I'm concerned about here are really "social" issues--how should a godly person live in an ungodly society?

These are topics that the kids are desperate to talk about.  They need guidance on these topics.  And they probably are not getting that guidance at home--or they are not listening to their parents.  So it is entirely appropriate for the youth ministry folks to talk about these topics.  But what should they say?

In about sixth grade my Sunday school class had a revolving door of substitute teachers.  At one point we had three different teachers on three consecutive weeks.  And all three teachers took it upon themselves to talk about sex.  I don't remember the sequence, but one preached abstinence, another preached safe sex, and another tried to tell us that homosexuality wasn't all that bad.  I'm pretty sure that none of the parents had any idea that was happening.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that these substitute teachers didn't clear that topic with anyone.

That's an extreme example, but I'm sure that stuff happens all the time.  The other thing that I'm sure happens all the time is that parents hear (or overhear) some snippet of what was discussed and then jump to conclusions and get all bent out of shape.  One of my friends today was upset that the youth group had talked about one of these social topics with his kids.  It happened to be a social topic that he and his wife had just spent several weeks arguing with their child over.  My friend was pretty upset.

We talked for a while and figured out that the real issue wasn't that the youth ministry folks talked about that particular topic--although some warning would be nice.  The real issue is that he doesn't know what kind of advice his child was given.

Christy and I recently went through a parenting seminar and class, and we have a vision of what this period of parenting should entail.  And every kid is going to grow up at their own pace.  What might be appropriate for one child at one time will not likely be appropriate for another child at the same time.  So some parent or another is always going to be scandalized that their child isn't ready to discuss this or that.  How can a youth ministry move forward?

Now I understand what most of them do.  They talk a good game to parents about how they want the parents involved and informed, and then they don't really tell the parents what the parents want to know.  Parents seem to be willing to let the sleeping dog lie, and so there is this mutual deception going on.  You pretend to tell us what is going on and we'll pretend that we approve.  But when the inevitable happens and a parent actually finds out what is being taught they get all upset.

I have an idea of how it might be done differently.

A youth ministry could generate (over time, with parent input) a "Position Book".  This book would contain the official stated teaching positions of the ministry team on all social issues.  Clothing, music, movies, dating, non-Christian friends, etc.  What will we teach your kids?  When will we start teaching each topic?  How much will we encourage the children to form their own opinions and experiment for themselves?  Will we give parents warning before we cover a topic?

The parents should get a copy of the position book, and have the opportunity to input on it.

The Position Book should also be accompanied by a vision training session for the parents and youth.  This seminar session should lay out the vision that the youth are really "adults in training" and that they have to start getting exposed to more and more options so they can start learning to make up their own minds.  I would use Ken Wilgus's map and the concept of strategic withdrawal in this vision session.  And the teaching times for these social topics would be organized along a time table slightly ahead of where "average" kids should start gaining some independence in an area.

When these teaching times came up the teachers should be well familiar with the position statements on the topic.  The topic should be introduced with references to the strategic withdrawal and the idea that the youths will all vary a little on exactly when their parents decide give each youth increased freedom and responsibility in that area.

I think that this would get parents and youth staff onto the same page better than any system/process that I have ever heard of.  This would make communication so much easier, and could really facilitate better parenting--by keeping parents on a program of strategic withdrawal.  Since attending Wilgus's seminar I have thought that this concept should be taught to the youth so they could gain the language and a safe location to discuss it.  The youth could start talking about how they were gaining freedom and accepting responsibility, which I suspect would greatly help most of them.

Update 2/17/2010 @ 11pm: I sent an email to Dr. Wilgus about this idea (through Frank Childers--thanks, Frank!)  Dr. Wilgus replied and said that he liked the idea and that his home church youth ministry was starting to use his stuff as a communication tool between students, parents, and the youth ministry staff.  He expressed some doubts about whether or not it is possible to write position statements that would not scare off some parents.  That's a great point.  So I think that has to be the first to-do on the whole position statement idea.  I'm going to have to write one on a controversial topic and shop it around.  I'll just add that to my to-do list.  :-)

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to be an economic genius

Step 1: Learn to read the data.

There is no step 2.

Barry Ritholtz, over at The Big Picture, found and posted this chart.

Click, read, learn.  The researcher here found clear correlation between Retail Sales, GDP, and unemployment.  If these locked trends continue then the only number you need to know anymore is the Retail Sales number.  That's one of the first numbers you will hear each season, so that's convenient.

But the really important data element here is the level of Retail Sales increase necessary to achieve increases in employment.  The chart is not indicating causation--increased Retail Sales does not cause employment.  In fact the inverse relationship seems more likely.  But the Retail Sales number is reported early and rarely adjusted, where the Unemployment Rate is reported late and often revised significantly several times.

This does not suggest that a sales tax holiday (or longer-term reduction) will lead to increased employment.  It only suggests that we won't see the unemployment rate start falling until after we see the Retail Sales sector of the economy post some improvements over 3.2%.

According to the US Economics & Statistics Administration, January 2010 saw a 4.7% increase in Retail Sales versus January 2009.  Some people are quite skeptical of these numbers, and the methodology employed to scrub the data.

If the chart is to be believed and the 4.7% increase number is accurate, then we should be looking at the unemployment rate dropping by about 3%.

The skeptics at Seeking Alpha say that the seasonal adjustment of the January 2010 data is inflating the number by 1.5%.  That would indicate that the real Retail Sales increase for January 2010 was 3.2%.  That would equate to an unemployment rate decrease of 0.1%.  My gut says that is a more accurate number.

The unknown unknowns

I like to think.  I enjoy the process of thinking.  I enjoy the eureka moments of insight.  I enjoy the tactical improvements that come from well thought-out strategy.

If you enjoy thinking then you should read this article about the three types of knowledge.  (Warning: the author uses a few mild expletives.)  Even if you read my thoughts, below, the article is worth your time.

I learned something from the article.  I already understood the 3 types of knowledge (the "known", the "known unknowns", and the "unknown unknowns".)  But the author made a great argument for focusing on shrinking your unknown unknowns by turning them in to known unknowns.  Prior to this I had assumed that I needed to turn the unknown unknowns into knowns, because I had never thought it out.

But he's right.  Fully knowing the unknown unknowns is too much work with too little return.  First expend just enough effort to convert your unknown unknowns into known unknowns.  Then triage those known unknowns before deciding which ones are worth the effort to convert the remainder of the way to knowns.

I'm an INTJ.  This is something that INTJs should do naturally.  More than any other personality type we keep thorough lists of our knowns and our known unknowns.

The pendulum continues to swing

The warm-mongers' strangle hold on publishing seems to have been broken.  Climate change skeptics are finding their voices again.  Suddenly we are finding out that the data we have is grossly unreliable because of the placement of weather stations near heat-generating objects like waste incinerators.  And even that data is indicating that the latest warming period ended in 1995--that's right, the planet has not been warming for the last 15 years.

I predict that the pendulum will swing even further, and that the major spokespeople of global warming will be fully discredited and shamed out of the field before cooler heads prevail and we begin actually studying the climate.  That's too bad, but the swinging pendulum of public opinion is hard to stop.

Those of us who understand that the climate is indeed changing, just not necessarily due to man-made causes, need to use this time to get ready for the next round of debates.  We need to focus on getting better weather recording stations and methods in place.  We need to focus on discussing the existing known climate change patterns, and where we are in them.  We have to use more moderate tones of alarm.  And we have to keep the information open for serious peer review.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Little software idea: Paste-then-Copy

I'm a Windows user.  I often have several apps open at once, and copy-paste data from one app to another all the time.  I had this little idea that would save me lots of clicks each day.

I want to copy and paste in the opposite order.  As I'm typing, I want to mark a location where I want to paste. Then I want to go find some data and copy it.  As soon as I have copied the data, I want it to get pasted to the location I previously marked--without my having to go back to that location to paste it in.

It would be nice if I could paste-mark multiple locations, and then have the copied data get pasted into each location automatically.

It would also be nice if the pasting of the data triggered a save of the document, so long as the save did not clear the undo buffer.

So, for instance, let's say I'm editing a blog post.  I want to link to an article, but I don't have the URL for the article in my clipboard right now.  I type the frame for the link, the "a href=....." in the angle brackets.  I leave the URL blank.  I mark the location of the URL in that hyperlink as my paste-mark.  Then I finish writing my blog post.  When I'm done I open up a new browser window and go look for the article I was going to link to.  When I find it I highlight the URL in the address bar and copy it.  The URL gets pasted into the location I marked in my blog post.

The big time savings here is that I don't have to go back and find the exact location where I wanted to paste that information.  I spend lots of time having to go back and find those locations, and they are not often clearly marked, like an empty hyperlink.

Somebody call Microsoft and make that happen.  Thanks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scariest thing I have read all day

We recently sold some weapons to Taiwan.  China is not happy about that.  Actually the Chinese military is nearly livid about it--they know that it is only a matter of time before they have to face Taiwan, and they don't want to face any more American weapons than they must.

The thinkers in the Chinese army have suggested that the Chinese government should dump some of the US treasury bills that they own, in retaliation.

Our economy is on very shaky legs right now.  Moody's recently warned that the US government is in danger of losing it's AAA rating because of the tremendous amount of debt that we are carrying.  China owns enough Treasury bills to break the dollar if they sell a large chunk.  And they know it--they just told us they know it.

China is unlikely to do this because we are still their biggest export market.  They can't strike us without hitting themselves, and they won't do that until they are ready to move to a full-scale shooting war posture.  It's a sad commentary that I trust the Chinese government's economists and strategists to understand this dynamic and not violate it, but I don't trust the US government's economists and strategists.

Iran is probably going to go nuclear on Thursday.  My guess is a small underground n-bomb test.  We desperately need China's help to make any sanctions stick, and since we've just pee'd in their soup that is unlikely to happen.  I am afraid that team Obama has been chasing too many donors (the military complex that was lobbying for this sale to Taiwan) and fighting too many fires without a coherent understanding of the chess board.  But we are about to face a harrowing decision: we will have to sell out Taiwan and Tibet in order to get China's help with Iran.  This is a sickening and horrible decision.

theHiringSurvey test site

I'm getting really close to launching this thing.  I have a test version of the production site up here:

Please click over and give it a quick read.  If you have a few minutes then you can click through and test one of the surveys.  Those are just dummy place-holders for now.  But I have coded some behavior on the main page for after you take the survey, so I would love to hear your feedback on that.

Also, I'm still undecided between SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang.  Some of the samples are on each.  What do you think?

If you are unable to comment here, please send me an email or give me a call, or something.

Update 2/17/2010 @ 1:40pm: The test site is down because the production site is up.  So the link above is now broken.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The greatest sports quote of all time

If you enjoy sports at all, then read this short blog post.  It contains the greatest sports quote of all time--I kid you not.  I won't spoil it, because some of the beauty comes from the context of the story.

You'll laugh or cry, or both.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And the plot thickens

I blogged earlier about the hackers who exposed internal emails and documents from the East Anglia Climate Research Center.  Now that some time has passed and people are starting to really sift through the data they are finding the genuine data gaps that many had predicted.

Here's the latest one.  It seems that some of the temperature readings used in their studies was from China.  That data was sent from China to someone in the US who forwarded it to East Anglia.  The raw source data was deleted, and apparently no longer exists.  And the numbers they used in their studies don't jive with any numbers that anyone can now recreate from China.  The data they used in their study is significantly warmer than any data at any existing Chinese weather station.

In a separate row, an entirely different climate change study has been entirely discredited recently.  The UN's official climate change study has been shown to have been hacked together from anecdotal data gathered in a hiking magazine.

Global warming science is acting more and more cultish every day.  They have stopped acting like real scientists.  They are hiding their data and producing garbage reports.  They attack everyone who questions them.  And they rake in big bucks from their donors.

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to become an idea-shipping person?

James sent me this.  I feel like he knows me well, and he says it reminded him of me.

This one really speaks to me:

  • Are you a serial idea-starting person? If so, what can you change to end that cycle? The goal is to be an idea-shipping person.

I can't find anyone explaining that concept anywhere.  Seth?  Can you explain it to me?   (I emailed him to ask.  We'll see what he says.)

Update:  Seth wrote back.  He says that his latest book, Linchpin, is all about how to become an idea-shipping person.  The book is available on Amazon.  I don't want to dispute with the author about the contents of a book I haven't read, but that isn't at all what I get out of the reviews for the book.  I don't see how "indispensable" and "idea-shipping" are related.  The term "idea-shipping" does not come up in the reviews at all.  We'll see, I guess.

The next financial crisis

Read this article three times.  Then read it again.

I've never heard of this guy before today.  Several of the books he quotes I have never heard of before today.  Those books are now on my list.  This guy is now on my list.

I'm not sure he is right.  But I can't find any bears out there with more compelling arguments.