September 23, 2009

"...they don’t have to reconcile the contradictions in order to cope..."

I love reading Adam Gopnik, because he's so often funny and wise at the same time. This is from his review in the current New Yorker of Louis Begley's new book "Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters":
It is a condition of being modern that our double and triple identities look weird from the outside but are the only kinds that feel authentic from the inside. The passionately nationalist Québécois who listens exclusively to Metallica and AC/DC; the Muslim fundamentalist with the satellite dish — from outside, we wonder how they reconcile the contradictions. But they don’t have to reconcile the contradictions in order to cope with reality. The contradictions are themselves the form that a reconciliation with reality takes.

September 21, 2009

Well, it had to be said.

Just one sentence from the 2003 paper in Human Brain Mapping on "Model Assessment and Model Building for fMRI" by M. Razavi, T.J. Grabowski, W.P. Vispoel, P. Monahan, S. Mehta, B. Eaton, & L. Bolinger:
Thus, while in the current fMRI time series analyses [i.e., what pretty much everybody else is doing, pretty much all of the time] the model that leads to the highest number of activated voxels is selected, proper modeling necessitates selecting [instead] the model with the highest quality, i.e., a model that is valid and has the ... highest goodness of fit, even if the number of activated voxels is lower; and discard the model that is not valid or has a statistically insignificant or lower goodness of fit, even if the number of activated voxels is higher.
It is remarkable that this had to be said at all. Even more remarkable is that so much of what is done in fMRI still happens without consideration of this issue.

September 18, 2009

"But those giant presses and barrels of ink and fleets of delivery trucks were never what made newspapers invaluable."

Just one sentence (though another one titles this post) about newspapers and journalism from Mark Bowden's article in The Atlantic this month, entitled "The Story Behind the Story": "What gave newspapers their value was the mission and promise of journalism – the hope that someone was getting paid to wade into the daily tide of manure, sort through its deliberate lies and cunning half-truths, and tell a story straight."

"A few of the fibers are colored and appear to have been dyed."

Just one sentence (though another one titles this post) from the "brevium" entitled "30,000-Year Old Wild Flax Fibers" by Kvavadze, Bar-Yosef, Belfer-Cohen, Boaretto, Jakeli, Matskevich, & Meshveliani in last week's issue of Science, reporting on recent archaeological findings of dyed linen & wool fibers, evidently the remains of early woven clothing: "The color range includes yellow, red, blue, violet, black, brown, green, and khaki."

Very stylish!

September 16, 2009

Improv and the Heart of Communication

Another Improv class, another round of posts on Improv and Communications! And this 10-week course is focused on emotion, perfectly aligning with my focus on the Heart of Heart, Head & Hand(TM) - how to engage your listener.

Pat Shay, my new and fabulous teacher, said, "If you show you care, your audience will be fully invested in what you are saying."

Placing your information in a context of meaning is crucial to being heard, understood, and having your listener engage with and take action based on your comments. Too often, we fail to show - to show up, to show emotion, to show passion and desire. For my clients who are vested in making change happen, showing passion is crucial to successfully moving listeners to action. In a professional setting, emotion does not need to translate as emotional. Emotion, in a professional setting, means delivering your information, and your request for change, within a meaningful context.

In regard to two-person scenes, Pat instructed, "If we focus on how we feel, the space between will fill up."

Again, focusing on the Heart helps to build a bridge between what you are saying and what your listener is hearing. Without that bridge, your information risks falling into a chasm. Without an emotional context, your information risks going unheard or being misunderstood by your listener, or your audience. Emotion is the connective glue between your idea and your listener's understanding and acceptance of the idea.

And, "The way you support your partner is by giving them something concrete."

Stories are concrete and tangible. Stories showcase emotion, and emotion is universal. Communication can be a gift, handing your listener [and your audience] something they understand, to which they can relate, and in which they can find meaning. Show respect - for both your audience and your idea - by delivering something solid.

Pat also said, "When we are being really honest, people see us as highly creative."

September 15, 2009

Tactical Philanthropy

Today's Tactical Philanthropy blog links to my post on story and knowledge sharing at PhilanTopic.

September 14, 2009

18" of rubber

Readers relying upon NeuroCooking for guidance on investing in art may know that we have never incorrectly forecast the outcome of an auction for a major contemporary work. With that sterling record in mind, we confidently predict that at an upcoming auction at Sotheby's, a small Claes Oldenburg piece - an "inverted q", in rubber, one of an edition of twelve, eighteen inches high – a rare Oldenburg not requiring a vast outdoor expanse for siting – will not be a bargain. The auction house's estimate is $30-40k; the NeuroCooking estimate is $100k. And we've never been wrong.

September 11, 2009

Stories are a Vital Source of Knowledge

My essay on stories and knowledge sharing is posted today on PhilanTopic, the Philanthropic News Digest Opinion and Commentary blog:
“The value of stories extends far beyond marketing and fundraising. ...There is much to be gained by creating a true culture of story sharing within our organizations, especially those that function as hubs of entrepreneurship and innovation, and especially at this uncertain moment. ... Nonprofit leaders and managers can both seek out and share crucial knowledge by regularly eliciting and sharing stories. ... Stories are more than a commodity. ...They are, instead, a vital means for organizations to nurture understanding, make sense of complexity, and embrace change.”

September 9, 2009

"I have failed over and over and over ... that is why I succeed."

In his address to our nation's schoolchildren yesterday, President Obama said:
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time.
Indeed! Sometimes, you have to try and try and try again, just to get a photograph that you first saw in your mind's eye, to become real in your camera:

("A is for Azalea, B is for Bucky". Backyard, May 2009.)

September 4, 2009

siccing: it's not just for dogs, anymore

Siccing isn't just something you can do with your dog.

The word "sic" is Latin for "thus" and is used in English, usually italicized and in square brackets, or, sometimes, parentheses, to indicated a misspelling, mistake, or archaic usage in a quoted text. As in (to use an example from Wikipedia) "The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker ..." (from the U.S. Constitution).

The surname "Smith" is one of the more popular surnames in the English-speaking world. Turns out that a statistician named Robert J. Smith got tired of being confused with other Robert Smiths and so changed his name to Robert J. Smith?. Yes, the question mark is legally part of his name, at least in Australia, according to his webpage.

Prof. Smith?'s recent paper on the epidemiology of Zombies (yes, the flesh-eating un-dead) has received some press attention lately, including in last week's issue of Science magazine, wherein Prof. Smith is referred to as "epidemiologist Robert Smith? (sic)".

So now you know: You can sic not just dogs, but statisticians.


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