I thought I’d share this entertaining TED video. It’s from a highly intelligent woman who “hacked” social media to find true love. She didn’t like the framework provided by dating sites and went her own way. Bonus: In the video she makes use of data and graphs. She describes the techniques she used to take her online dating profile from 0 to a whopping 1,217 responses. (Unfortunately she fails to disclose how many of those were weinered.)
The first TED conference was in 1984. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. Since then, TED has grown in scope. The mission? Spreading ideas.
The official TED website says, “Today, TED is best thought of as a global community. It’s a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.”
I’d seen a few TED videos here and there and always enjoyed them. Then I got an iPod as a bonus at work.
After learning how to work the thing, I discovered that I could use iTunes to automatically get podcasts and have them transferred to my iPod. Once there, I could listen to them any time I wanted, even without wifi.
I quickly loaded up that sucker with all sorts of podcasts like a kid in a candy store. Here’s a list of audio-only content that I’ve signed up for so far:
- American Public Media: The Story
- Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips
- NPR: All Songs Considered
- NPR: Fresh Air Podcast
- Real Time with Bill Maher
- Rob Cesternino has a Podcast
- TEDTalks (audio version)
- This American Life
I also signed up for video podcasts like College Humor, Lifehacker, Science Friday and TEDTalks.
Maybe you can already see the problem? I don’t have enough time! Every time I plug in my iPod to charge it, iTunes opens an automatically “syncs” more stuff. There’s no way I can ever watch it all. I’ve heard that every minute something like 18 hours worth of video gets uploaded to YouTube. It would be hard to watch it all.
I guess at some point you have to start making choices.
So now I’m listening to TED on my “ear buds” every chance I get. Mostly when driving to and from work, which is only about 20 minutes a day. But also in other places like the grocery store or waiting in the restaurant to get my food to go. Suddenly I’m not so irritated by having to wait.
The shortage of time to listen is frustrating. The other night I wanted to listen more, so I skipped dinner, slipped on the ear buds and went for a walk. I listened to NPR and heard a story about Seattle Slew, a famous racehorse that won the Triple Crown. (Which I formerly thought was three shots of whiskey.)
By the way, walking is a fantastic negativity activity. Every 20 feet or so is an intersection or driveway. And at every single one of these you’ll encounter something known as a car. These are highly impatient things that try to run over you at these locations. It adds a lot of fun, excitement and challenge to walking.
My goal is to listen to all of the TEDTalks on audio. Not all of them are topics I’d normally find interesting, but I listen just the same. (Like the trials and tribulations of some new parents and their baby. Bah!) But the talks are compelling even when the material is not normally something I’d ever click on. I hit play and get them in no apparent order. I never know what will come next.
During this experience, I’ve also been learning what it is to really listen. I’m constantly amazing myself with my mind’s ability to drift. I’ll catch myself again and again and realize I haven’t really heard the content. I wasn’t paying attention. This is disturbing to say the least. I wonder how often this happens to all of us in all sorts of situations. Life should not be lived on autopilot.
So I decided to work on my active listening skills. If I’m going to play audio, I don’t just want it to be background noise. I want to absorb what’s being said. I have to actively focus and pay proactive attention. This means I can’t listen during certain activities, like work. I can do it when I’m driving but it requires concentration. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do nothing but sit and listen. That’s why walking is such a great idea. Perhaps working on my fitness while listening to TED is enough “multitasking” for me.
I did try sitting down and listen a few times. Amazingly I’d still find my mind wandering and not paying attention. This takes a bit of effort and discipline. But I do think it is something I’m improving on.
Lastly, to close out this post, I’ve decided that I am going to give a talk at a TED conference someday. Yes, me. I’ve noticed that most of the speakers at TED conferences appear to be “experts” on their subjects, so I’m approaching the goal from that angle. In other words, “What am I expert at?” The obvious answer is “nothing” and I am a “nobody.” Thus, that’s how the topic for my TED talk was born. I’m going to speak about how to be a nobody and do nothing in our modern civilization. I’m a real nowhere man.
If TED permits this, then we’ll truly know if they welcome people from every discipline. 🙂
SHOWING HERE! Lot 666, then: a manifesto in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Unabomber: a mystery never fully explained. We are told ladies and gentlemen, that this is the very manifesto which figures in the famous disaster. Our workshops have restored it and fitted up parts of it with a series of tubes for the new electric internet, so that we may get a hint of what it may look like when re-assembled. Perhaps we may frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination.
I put my newspaper down and shook my head in amazement. “The Federal government is selling off shit from Ted Kaczynski?” I shouted incredulously.
Then, belatedly, I added, “I gots to get me some of that!”
Yes, the Unabomber is back in the news. Even though he’s locked away in the slammer (a federal maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado) serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole, the Unabomber can still bring his 15 minutes of fame.
The Justice Department has announced that it will auction 51 lots of personal property that belonged to the Unabomber, including a sweatshirt with hoodie, sunglasses, and the original handwritten copy of his manifesto. The Justice Department apparently discarded the notion of selling the items together as part of a “Unabomber Starter Kit,” instead opting to sell them as separate lots.
The auctions will have no reserve bids and no price ceilings. One way or another, the items will be sold, at whatever price the “market” is willing to bear.
Being a curious sort, I once located Kaczynski’s “manifesto” online and tried to read it for myself. The actual title is “Industrial Society and its Future.” I’m not ashamed to admit it was a tough read. I found it very hard to follow and ended up reading very little of it. My sense is that if you’re going to go to all that effort to call attention to yourself, your manifesto better damn well be easy to read. Know your audience!
Here’s an excerpt from the manifesto:
The Psychology of Modern Leftism
Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.
But what is leftism? During the first half of the twentieth century leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is not so much a movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology.
Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do is indicate in a rough and approximate way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to modern leftism only. We leave open the question of the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early 20th century.
The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.
If that doesn’t warp your brain then nothing will.
My manifesto is still in progress. I hope to begin shopping it to publishing houses soon.
Last Sunday was a beautiful day. Sandwiched between overcast, cold, windy and rainy days was a day that felt almost like summer. The sky was crystal clear, the sun was shining, kids were outside playing and you could hear lawn mowers echoing throughout suburbia.
Aside from the chill, it could have been a typical summer day.
Ever since I picked up an iPod (more about that later) I’ve been on a podcast binge. I grabbed the thing, stuck the ear “buds” in my head, and took off, on foot, for the grocery store.
This is the story of that trip.
The trip to the store was strangely uneventful. I didn’t just fall of the turnip truck yesterday, though. I knew this was the calm before the storm. Something big was coming my way. Still, I resolved to enjoy the moment, enjoying the walk, the warmth of the sun and listening to TED audio podcasts. I was traveling under the power of my own feet and listening to TED. God, I felt so alive and so enlightened, a true member of the modern “I care about my planet and everyone on it” community!
In the store, I did some quick shopping. This was also uneventful.
Then it was time for checkout. This is the part that really makes my tushy pucker up. Yeah, I’ve done this before.
I’ll do my best, with my limited writing skills, to explain how it all went down. Crime scene photos, if desired, can be obtained from my local police department.
My local neighborhood grocery store is basically a shit dump. It’s pricey yet run down. Most of the employees seem to feel the same way about their jobs that I do about mine. (Like it isn’t the best thing to happen to them all day.) But the store usually isn’t too crowded and you can get in and out with only a modicum of pain.
As I approached the front of the store I saw a bunch of people in Lane 1 even though the light was off. I cruised in that direction and saw the “lane closed” sign was out.
Looking around, I noticed that Lane 4’s light was turned on. “That must be where they want me to go,” I surmised. But when I got to Lane 4 no employee was in sight.
I was conflicted. Should I wait in Lane 4 for an employee who may or may not ever show up? The longer I waited the greater the possibility that new people would get in Lane 1 and I’d be bumped. If that happened I’d become angry and show great magic.
After what felt like an eternity (in grocery store time), I opted to go back to Lane 1 and get at the end of a line for a lane that claimed to be closed. Right after I did that, an employee magically appeared in Lane 4. Remember, based on the “lane closed” signs and the status of the lights, I still believed Lane 4 was where I supposed to go.
The checker on Lane 4 began helping a lady before I could get back there. I got in line behind her.
The checker gestured wildly at me to go away. “This lane is closed,” he hissed.
This is the moment that people tell me I should be more assertive. I felt like saying, “You disgusting maggoty piece of shit motherfucker! Your goddamn light is on and Lane 1’s is off. Fuck you!!!” Instead, like always, I accepted this piece of pure concentrated evil as additional weight on my shoulders and moved on. Head down, I shuffled back to Lane 1.
Fuming now, on the edge of a great storm, I stood in Lane 1 and gave the checker in Lane 4 the stare-down of death. He stared right back. It was game on. I found myself wondering if NASA had yet reviewed my volunteer application for the one-way mission to Mars.
And so, like this, I waited in the long line in Lane 1.
But not too long. As soon as the guy on Lane 4 helped that lady, something interesting happened. The two checkers gave each other a nod and they both simultaneously left their work stations. WTF?
They crisscrossed in front of us. They had just changed lanes.
Suddenly Lane 4 was open for business and before you could say “anal sex” was full of shoppers.
I was standing in Lane 1 which still had the “lane closed” sign out. And indeed, as if it was any surprise, I was directed back to Lane 4 where I assumed my position at the end of the line.
I wish I could say I’m making this up. I’m not. I don’t know why shit like this happens to me. At no point was I pushy. At each step of the way I tried to follow their little rules. Yet I was the one person they singled out to take a massive dump on. It truly boggled my mind.
Finally it was my turn. She asked, “Paper or plastic?” and I handed over my reusable bags. In an extremely unlikely fit of assertiveness, I started a conversation with the checker. “What was that all about? Your lane had a closed sign and the light off and this lane was open with the light on, yet …”
She cut me off. Ah, nothing more refreshing that me-oriented communicators when you are the customer and they are the employee. Isn’t that the best?
“[The other checker] had to run upstairs and we had to switch lanes for a minute.”
Uh huh. Whatever. Thanks for listening, bitch. That wasn’t an apology and it has absolutely nothing to do with what I was trying to ask. Shrug. More evil on my shoulders accepted. Fuck it.
I helped her load my shit into the reusable bags. It was time to go. I picked up the bags and KERPLUNK!
One of the bags had the bottom blow out and my shit was all over the table. This was actually the best part of the whole trip, though. She double-bagged my shit in plastic and I was on my way. It would have been worse if the blowout had occurred half-way home. I quickly said a quiet prayer of thanks for this surprisingly positive development.
The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful except for one little bit of icing on the cake. I was about five houses away from getting back to my house when I happened to look down. There, scratched out in the sidewalk, was a fucking swastika. Five houses away from my bloody home! One and/or all of my neighbors are fucking assholes.
And some people actually dare to wonder why I don’t like to leave the house. It usually ends up being the worst thing that ever happened to me.
Someday all of the evil I accept from others onto my shoulders is going to reach critical mass. I just hope I’m not there when it happens.
People in the so-called real life don’t know me as the Guru. Anonymity demands that I lead a double life, much like Bruce Wayne. (Yeah, just like that!) Sometimes it’s a hassle not revealing my secret identity to people I know, especially the ones I like, but that’s just the way it has got to be.
What they do know about me is that I’m negative (no big surprise there), but also that I’m generally “stand-up funny” within small groups of people that I know fairly well. (I don’t like strangers.) They also, generally, consider me kind, caring, logical and intelligent. On the other hand, they know I’m stubborn, resistant to change, opinionated, judgmental, grumpy and generally miserable and pathetic. (I get off on being pathetic.)
I also enjoy a good political discussion. Very much so. It is hard for me to let sleeping dogs lie. So I’ll often find myself poking people who have a different point of view. “How you liking nuclear power now?” I’ll ask. “Here’s my opinions on the latest hi-jinx in Japan, goddammit.” As you might expect, this usually goes over like a lead balloon.
During one of these discussions, I took a rather strange hypothesis out for a spin. “You know,” I said, “if the world was populated by me and only clones of me, there wouldn’t be any war. At all.”
Think of it! 7 billion inhabitants of planet Earth and all of them me. What a strange notion.
It begs the question: Would I even want to live on that planet? Would it be enough to get me to cash in my ticket off this shithole? (I’m a registered volunteer for the one-way mission to Mars.)
I can honestly answer: I don’t know.
But I do know this. That planet would not have war. I’m capable of physical violence. I know that. But only if I’m pushed to my limit. (Like the time some jackass in a pickup was in the wrong, yet still turned around and pursued my wife into a parking lot. I flew out of that car the moment it came to a stop and went right at that motherfucker. Sure, he would have kicked my ass, but in the moment nothing was going to stop me from taking him on. Luckily people in a restaurant rushed out and pulled us apart.) The point is, I’m capable of it, but I have to be pushed. A lot.
And, let’s face it. If the whole planet was me, there wouldn’t be a lot of pushing. I’m very considerate of other people and their feelings. I try extremely hard not to push. In fact, most of the time, I take a lot of shit on my shoulders rather than push back. It’s my nature.
So even though I’m not sure I’d want to live on that planet, I can guarantee there would be no war. It would be missing a lot of other things, too, like killing, rape, and theft. To be completely honest, it would probably be a hungry planet, too. I’m also deathly afraid of real work, so none of me would be out in the fields growing anything to eat.
Anyway, enough about that planet. How about this one? Unfortunately this one has things like wars, killing and rape in abundance. The woman in the following video makes some excellent points about wars, gender and power. And also some staggering financial stats that really should make all of us wonder.