Monthly Archives: February 2016

Seeking efficiency

Given the task of identifying why a group of individuals does or does not produce quality results in a timely effective manner I began to question my own involvement in groups. Groups could be of any size, 2 on up. What was it that, predominately, I tended to do within those groups; how did I behave?

What I realized was that, in general, both in groups as well as my alone behavior, was that I was constantly seeking efficiency.

What’s wrong with the world today? Inequality dominates the social forums. Why the rich are so much wealthier than everyone else? How did this come to be, I asked myself. Well, the rules are broken, I replied. The efficiency of society is based on the effectiveness of government’s ability to manage society and of society’s means to modify government such that we have a more level environment for doing satisfying work. We don’t have that today. The U.S. Constitution needs help. Better rules would make society more efficient.

When speaking to folks I refrain from taking tangential baths of discussion. Get to the point, stay on point, and finish the thought and theory. Conversations that meander around this and that, never fully realizing their original intent of communicating ideas drive me batty. Articles I read that spend hundreds of words up front performing an elaborate dance of introduction grind me to tears. Get-to-the-bloody-point. If I think your point has merit I’ll continue to read. But if it takes me 2 minutes just to get into the subject line of your theory — forget it; I’m outta here.

Washing the dishes. Cleaning kitchen. Mowing the lawn. Folding my clothes. Every activity I tend to approach in a way that I believe is the most efficient method to get it done. Maybe I’m just inherently lazy. Extra work, bores me, infuriates me, saddens me.

It appears, after some reflection, that in many if not most activities I am seeking efficiency.

Opinions and brain chemicals

We all have opinions. Some strong some weak. All derived from experience and exposure to information. When we seek out others’ opinions we often do so through media venues we know to support our general beliefs. News channels, web sites we have read before that have tended to feed us what we want to hear and read.

When we come across an opinion, through video, or print media, that contradicts our own, we reject it, often without actually hearing said opinions all the way through. Without opening our minds up to allows us to evaluate the opposing views.


Testosterone – the power hormone
Cortisol – the stress hormone
Oxytocin – the bonding hormone
Dopamine – the reward hormone
Serotonin – the well being hormone

Here are some chemicals the body produces that change our moods. When we read an agreeable article on a topic we find dear our brains may unleash happy hormones. These friendly opinions reinforce our existing neural information pathways, our memories. Our opinions become reaffirmed. We feel good.

But when we read contradictory information what happens? Our stress levels increase. Our fight or flight behavior is invigorated. We feel challenged and confrontational. To have someone tell you are wrong is threatening.

Is it because the pathways in our brains are being questioned? We believe X. But Y seems to have some good arguments. Owww, my mind hurts when I think about changing my views. Slowly we build up ossified mental pathways, beliefs, that we continuously strengthen. When we are presented with rational alternate views that contradict our beliefs I think it actually hurts our brains. We have to breakdown old neural trails and hack out new ones. And this is physically painful. This process releases unhappy hormones. This process makes us uncomfortable.

Having an open mind is a challenge. A flexible mind may be counter intuitive to maintain. It may be that we tend toward village mentality where we all believe the same ideas and shun alternate views; strangers whispering heresy.

And it might be that to examine opposing opinions it takes a commitment to endure the internal conflict our minds experience when we have to see through another’s eyes, walk in another’s shoes.




Biased ranking 1-5

In a ranking scale are there tendencies to punish or reward undeservedly?

If you watch a movie and don’t much care for it are you more likely to choose a 2 or 3 vs a 1 when rating this movie? “You didn’t like it but you didn’t like it THAT much.” Conversely, you watch another movie and enjoyed it, but you hesitate in awarding a 5 vs a 4 simply because you didn’t like it THAT much.

And the between these two, subdued rewards or subdued punishment, which is more likely? Is downgrading a movie to a 1 too severe? Are we more forgiving than punishing? Is heralding a movie with a 5 too gracious? Are we less gratuitous than that?

Ranking 1 to whatever (3,4,5,10 — 3 Michelin stars, 4 star hotels, 5 star movies, 10 star candy bars) continues to be fraught with problems. And again, the issue is when it comes down to using these numbers, they’re often useless. A rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 5 means what exactly? Should you or should you not watch this movie? You can’t *partially* watch the movie. Your choice is binary, do or do not, there is no 3.

But this uselessness of rating aside, the inherent biases built in to them, the reticence of punishing or lavishing praise shifts these ratings into areas to which those movies, or shows, or restaurants, or hotels, or whatever is being rated, shifts these ratings in to undeserved levels.

Bolide impact takes hours to circle the globe

Here’s a strange but brutal thought:
The energy blast from a bolide (asteroid) large enough cause an extinction or near extinction event will take hours to circle the globe.

I just finished watching the Netflix movie “These Final Hours” which portrays this exact scenario. With an impact in the North Atlantic the resulting shock/fire wave took 12 hours to travel at 1000 miles an hour around to Perth Australia. People some distance from the impact all had hours in which to contemplate their demise. Some, like those in Perth, had half a day of waiting.

Of course the impact from such a rock would be known, most likely, months in advance. But still, few would be able to prepare well enough, dig deep enough, relocate into deep mines and caverns in large enough numbers… Most would be left to worry for months, and then after the impact, still have hours to agonize over the terrorizing affect of the firewave.

The movie does a good job depicting the stoicism, the freak out, and the Bacchanalia that would ensue. But the deliberate delay of death caused by the wave traveling so far — that — that was the insight I’ve missed from other apocalyptic stories. Like waiting for the hangman on hanging day. It permeated the theme of the movie. Good job.

American capitalism has failed us

RE: Link to Salon article

Thanks for your efforts Ann Jones.

I would state that the predominant issue in the U.S. is that the founding fathers did not foresee the rise of the Corporation. And subsequently, the handling of this entity, as a reflection on the citizenry, has been poorly done.

Corporations are NOT people. Who is their right mind would think otherwise? Oh yes, the oligarchs.

Corporations do not have funding rights in our elections. Who in their right mind would think otherwise? …

Corporations do not have lobbying rights to our elected officials. Who in their…

You see, the issue is that the Constitution has not been adjusted, over the last century, solely with the country’s citizens in mind. It’s the oligarchs and their corporate powers that have swayed the amendments and the alteration of our Land’s Law.

If we take back our Constitution. OUR Constitution. Then we could have a more equitable union. A more balanced approach to the operation of our country.

Amendment #28 Corporations are not people.

Amendment #29 Non-sequential terms for congress.

Amendment #30 Campaign contributions limited to one avg day’s wage, per person, per candidate, per year.

Candy as medicine

Why not turn candy into medicine?

Put various water soluble minerals and vitamins into candy.

Or create one of those energy drinks with cold busting, cold fighting vitamins and minerals.




Minimum wage = formula

Dear Senator,

Minimum wage should not be a fixed statewide (or nation wide)  X number of dollars.
Minimum wage should be a formula, simple and elegant, that reflects the needs of the low-wage worker, the area in which they work and live, and the general economic capability of the region.
It’s pretty easy to create formulas that dynamically shift with their base input. I’m sure that you have access to lots of good state metrics. But here’s a simple example.
Using rent is a natural minimum wage metric as it reflects costs that minimum wage earners would have. I’m using average here but median is often a better number to use.
Ventura County:
Average monthly rent: $900/mo.
Suggest minimum wage: $900 / 100 * 2 = $18/hr.
Bosco County:
Average monthly rent: $600/mo.
Suggest minimum wage: $600 / 100 * 2 = $12/hr.
My point is don’t advocate a fixed number that has to be altered every couple of years. Design a formula that can reflect a changing society.