Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
While watching the PBS News Hour, and the coverage of assorted debates, my two brain cells accidentally bumped into each other and produced A Thought:
Instead of the conventional process of asking one of the candidates a question, and then letting the rest of them respond (after having more time to think about it), how about if one of the debates was set up so that the candidates all had the same amount of time to provide a written response, and all the responses were displayed next to each other?
That way, none of them gets any advantage over any other on any given question, we get to find out how well they can think on their feet (no time for polls during a national emergency, for example), we get to see how they express themselves, and -- most important -- they have to express THEIR position(s), versus comparing themselves to someone else.
For me, the ideal would be to have each of them type their response into something like a web page (where they could be limited to some number of characters), but transcriptions of their handwritten or printed responses would work, too.
I mean, it's an idea...
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I've just gotten confirmation of that in the form of a voicemail left for me.
I do the odd bit of computer service for folks, and get a fair number of referrals from the folks that I've helped; one of those referrals was a gentleman that called to see if I could help him get his computer functioning again. Except that he couldn't just call and leave a message giving his name, a message to the effect of 'my computer is broken, can you help me?', and a phone number to reach him at. He felt obliged to leave me a message that lasted just short of three minutes: it started with him telling me a bit about himself (i.e. his medical and financial problems), then the life story of the computer, a history of the problems he's had with it, and ending with an explanation of just how badly he needs the computer working. It was only as an apparent afterthought that he gave me a phone number. From the sound of his voice, I figured he was an 'older' gentleman, so that it took a while for him to get to the point really didn't surprise me; it was how LONG it took that shocked me.
After I dealt with the problem (his computer is complaining it can't find an operating system, which tells me he's got a dead hard drive; I don't 'stock' hardware, so he has to get the replacement himself), I started thinking about the conversation I had with him and realized that (it seems to me, anyway) that a high percentage of older people often have a tendency to make a short story long: dwelling on irrelevant details, going off on conversational detours, dawdling in the telling, and so forth. What could have been a 10- or 15-second message by this fellow ended up going 2:57 (I couldn't resist listening to it again to time it).
Still, I can't help wonder if this is just a case of selective memory on my part (that is, remembering the few long-winded instead of the many to-the-point), or an actual phenomenon - and if the latter, why it happens.
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Your Result: Intelligence
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Before you head out on a camping trip with me, you might want to consider this:
Then again, if we were travelling around in space, I might be useful to have around...
Back here on Earth, I could probably be handy in other ways, too -
Of course, it wasn't all sweetness and light the day I was born...
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I mean, just so you know...