Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sixth Annual NaBloPoMo

It's almost November!  That means it's almost NaBloPoMo time!

Blogger Eden Kennedy founded NaBloPoMo in November 2006 as a "goof" on National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Kennedy challenged bloggers to post every day for the month of November.

And people did.

I got the "Close, but no Cigar" award last year. I am entering again this year and intend to do a little better. We'll see. 

The folks who run NaBloPoMo have recently moved their site to They say guys are still welcome to post. We'll see about that, too. 

I have to admit, I am a bit dubious.  

Blogging is about improving writing skills as judged in the minds of readers. NaBloPoMo is about a community encouraging each other to do just that--achieve a life well said. I am inclined to support the equality agenda as opposed to the feminist agenda. 

How would female bloggers feel if the site were moved to 

Thrive: What on Earth Will it Take?


The video is intriguing and fairly self-explanatory. Have a look and let me know what you think. Is there universal power in some geometric forms? Do certain symbols offer proof of extraterrestrial intelligence? Does our future on this planet depend upon our ability to harness the power of the Torus?

Some additional information and reference material for those of you whose interest is piqued:

Torus defined and illustrated

Interesting paper Geometry of the Cosmos 

The surface area and interior volume of a torus are easily computed using Pappus's centroid theorem 
A = 4 \pi^2 R r = \left( 2\pi r \right) \left(2 \pi R \right) \, V = 2 \pi^2 R r^2 = \left ( \pi r ^2 \right ) \left( 2 \pi R \right). \,

Please see for more information

Hit tap: Jhymnal

"No, I Eat Both Vegetables And Humans"


Mr Costello, are you an avowed vegetarian?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just like, uh, your opinion, man...

My favorite OWS poster, by far. Can you just hear the Dude's voice speaking that line?

Hat tip: MCG, Priestess of Dudeism

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates

Do recruiters use Social Networks to screen candidates? Absolutely. As they should!

Those of us who use social media would do well to read and heed Mashable's fascinating information graphic.

Visit Mashable for a closer look.

Hat Tip: April

Dear Occupy Wall Street ...

Original Photo HERE

Dave Ramsey writes a clear and balanced critique of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in this recent article. He lists some common demands that have fueled OWS and sparked similar Occupy... protests around the world. These demands include:

 “No Government Bailouts!”
“Down With Corporate Greed!”
"Wealth Redistribution Is the Answer!”

For each stated demand, Ramsey provides a direct, and sometimes pithy, response. His bottom line is that while OWS has values that are admirable, there is no coherent, actionable plan. Without a plan, the actions are not likely to produce any real change.

Ramsey's article is not so much a defense of capitalism as an appeal for the OWS movement to come up with something concrete, born of values, and capable of being challenged in debate.

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has given us one of the best Value-Focused Thinking quotes ever, He said, "The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands."  Start with values. Make a plan. Grade results against values, not against the plan. 

Values (Heart). Get the values right or the numbers don't matter
Plan (Head). Get the numbers right, or the results don't matter.
Action (Hands). Execute the plan and get results that matter.

The OWS movement has clearly tapped into an issue that resonates around the globe. If the OWS movement will accomplish anything, they must find a way to present their values in a concrete way. They must develop an actionable plan that's open to review and which lends itself to modeling and testing. Without an actionable plan, the leaderless OWS movement will soon be ignored as just so many malcontents.

Compare and contrast OWS with the Tea Party. As James Sinclair's Venn diagram below shows, the two groups have similar issues. While neither group claims a single leader, the Tea Party has managed to produce a platform and to advance its values in an organized fashion.  
James Sinclair's original Venn diagram HERE

Hat tip to Randy for bringing the Dave Ramsey article to my attention

More about Dave Ramsey HERE

Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network

Courtesy of Organization for Tropical Studies, a member of the TEAM network -

Conservation International

Volcan Barva, Costa Rica. Panthera onca (Jaguar) - largest cat in the western hemisphere and a near threatened species.

This image is one of nearly 52,000 photos of 105 mammal species, taken as part of the first global camera trap mammal study done by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network.

To learn more visit:

Hat tip: Mark

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded at no charge for one-time use for the first “Global Camera Trap Mammal” study. No copying, distribution or archiving permitted. No sublicensing, sale or resale permitted.

REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must be properly credited to Organization for Tropical Studies as part of the TEAM Network Partnership/ All images must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to the first “Global Camera Trap Mammal” study. Any uses in which the image appears without proper credit and caption referencing the “First Global Camera Trap Mammal Study” are subject to a separate written use agreement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If... revisited


At the suggestion of an anonymous contributor, I took another stab at the word cloud version of Rudyard Kipling's famous inspirational poem. Common words, such as "if," are included in this version. I made lowercase every instance of "and." Otherwise both "and" and "And" were too prominent. I threw in a few extra instances of "If" to make that titular word appear bigger. Maybe I should have simply cut out all the common words except If.

Like word clouds? Think you can do better? Give it a whack and share the results!

A great tool for making word clouds is here:

Grab the text here:

Monday, October 17, 2011


Rudyard Kipling 


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same; 

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss; 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!' 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much; 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 

-- Rudyard Kipling 

Rudyard Kipling was aged 30 when he wrote his famous poem in 1895. About 80 years later, I can remember my Grandfather reciting Kipling's poem to me when I was a young teen. Granddad was passing some wisdom along to me: just 15 little traits to master on the path to manhood, that's all...

Of course, the traits are not so easily mastered. The lesson I took away is that life is a struggle to fulfill lofty ambitions.

In response, I sketched a kid standing in front of a 40-foot high sculpture of the letters I and F, with the caption: "Now, that's a Mighty Big IF."

"That's a mighty big IF." was my Grandfather's second favorite comeback. The only thing I recall hearing him say more often: "Measure Twice, Cut Once."

Now that I am getting a little older myself and my own kids are in their teens, I understand that my Granddad was not just passing along some words of wisdom. He knew his struggle would not last forever. He was passing along his own hopes and dreams to future generations.

Rudyard Kipling

Kipling was relatively young when he wrote If... Look how wistful and wizened he appears in this image from later in his life.

The world seems so limitless when we are kids....

"If" as a word cloud
Interestingly, common words are automatically excluded.
No ands, buts, or ... ifs.

Interview with Jeff Hancock – Co-founder of DC Brau

First of all, I am strongly pro-beer. But you already knew that, right? I think you are also aware that I am into LOCAL, especially world-class local.

It's my pleasure to shine a little light now and then on DC Brau, the brewery created by Jeff Hancock and Brandon Skall.

I enjoyed reading this informative interview with Jeff Hancock – co-founder of DC Brau, which appeared in the blog lyrics, libations, and life

'Style Rookie' Tavi Gevinson

15-year old Tavi Gevinson

One of the many reasons I like NPR is the variety of intelligent programming they offer. (Frequent readers of my blog will attest to the fact that I like a lot of different things.) The content on NPR is not only varied but  in-depth and timely.

An example is a recent program highlighting Tavi Gevinson, a brilliant and fascinating young lady who calls herself the Style Rookie. Her fashion sense has earned this remarkable young lady an international following.

A toast:

  • Here's to a young lady with a style all her own, and the courage to pursue it. 
  • And here's to the curious people who pay attention to just how wonderful the world can be.  
  • And here's to NPR and blogs and e-magazines that are creating the connections.

I listen to and support National Public Radio on my local member station, WAMU 88.5 FM, broadcasting from nearby American University.

This post is dedicated to my pal, Blue Lou, for two reasons: (a) today is his birthday, and (b) his daughter blogs about fashion. Lou, if your daughter is not already a Tavi fan, here is a chance for the birthday boy to earn some Dad points. (We can never have enough of those, right?) My gift to you is a gift you can give to her. Cheers, my friend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

(x, why?): Coffee Logic

As a math-lover, would-be teacher, and Dad to two teen-agers, the idea of using simple cartoons to teach math and logic really appeals to me. This cartoon is an example of the comedy stylings of one Christopher J. Burke, a math teacher and cartoonist.

Please see the original here: (x, why?) #596: Coffee Logic - Wed, May 18, 2011. Also visit Chris' blog where you may read discussions of this cartoon and post comments about it. You may also enjoy flipping through the hundreds of cartoons available for your perusal, as did I.

More on that in a future post.

Like many new fans, I  was introduced to Chris' work by Mike at Spiked Math. I re-posted Mike's cartoon last week: Mike referred viewers to Chris, and Chris reported a huge spike in readership as a result.

Mike used a beer bar scenario instead of a coffee shop scenario, but his comic has a similar punchline, based on the same logic. A question is posed to the group about the group in such a way that the assumed group response is Yes. The first individual to respond cannot know what the rest will say, so logically he cannot say Yes for the group. He can say No if he himself would say No because that No would also be true for the group. If he wants to say Yes for himself, he must say I don't know. If he says I don't know, the next person has the same dilemma. The uncertainty about the group's position decreases with each successive responder. After a string of I don't knows, the last responder can answer either Yes or No with certainty.

What makes the joke funny to me is that most people ignore logic in daily life. Real life is full of uncertainty. Mathematicians, logicians, and computer programmers are good at reducing uncertainty to a series of binary decisions--but most of us just simply do not think that way. Next time you're out with friends at a bar or coffee shop, watch what really happens in this scenario! Now that you are in on the logic, you may just chuckle quietly to yourself and enjoy the inside joke.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Skulls, flames, and flaming skulls--and skulls with wings

Artist David Uhl's ballpoint pen drawing appears on pg 35 of HOG Magazine, Issue 12 

The imagery in this captivating drawing speaks to the human spirit so clearly as to require few if any words.  The skull represents mortality. Flames of hell threaten to consume that mortal in eternal damnation. Then comes the breath of Freedom in the form of a roaring Harley-Davidson Road King. With a mighty V-Twin engine the warhorse fights fire with fire as flames propel the mortal from death's grip, if only momentarily. Astride his warhorse the mortal flies with wings of an eagle above the howling winds of the open road. It's a good day to ride.

Visit Uhl Studios, Golden, Colorado for Harley-Davidson Art, Vintage Motorcycle and Aviation Paintings, and Designer Apparel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Social Media Case Study Proves the ROI of Emily

I am a huge fan of he United Services Organization (USO). I was absolutely captivated by a recent story appearing in the Measurement Standard about how the USO used social media to greatly increase donations.

Here's an excerpt:

In March of 2009, they [USO] hired Emily Hall ... to manage their social media outreach. At the time, my company [The Measurement Standard] was measuring the USO’s media coverage in both traditional and social media. One of the things we tracked was the nature of the conversations. We would look at every mention and decide whether it was expressing support or merely making an observation...

After Em arrived, the first thing we noticed was a distinct shift in the nature of the conversations. For months they had been mostly observational, for instance, “I’m near the USO room at the airport,” or, “Just noticed that XYZ was at the USO last night.” But shortly after Em began her social media efforts, the majority of conversations were expressions of support  for the USO, mostly related to her outreach on Facebook and a “Support USO Friday” campaign.

The Measurement Standard has developed some interesting qualitative standards for categorizing and analyzing comments made in social media. They have cataloged 27 different types of conversations.

This research is interesting for anyone looking to quantify ROI of social media or for ethnographic researchers looking to classify conversations that take place in the Ethernet.

Hit tap: Mark

Great Quotes from Great Leaders

Introducing Flickspire: a fantastic website featuring a growing collection of short, inspirational movies. After watching the recommended offering, Great Quotes from Great Leaders, you may wish to explore the other clips and possibly bookmark the site.

I learned about Flickspire from Ed, to whom this Tip O' the Hat is dedicated.

Rustico Octo-BEER-fest

Borrowing the Harley-Davidson Bar and Shield

The beer list has just been released and Rustico's annual Octo-Beer-fest promises to be another blast! This Saturday at noon, in Alexandria, VA.

New beers from:

  • locals like Port City and Lost Rhino
  • regionals like Blue Mountain, Heavy Seas, and Flying Dog
  • nationals like Sierra Nevada and Weyerbacher

Virginia is for (beer) lovers!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hoka Hey or Hoka Joke?

Unbelievable and extremely disappointing.

While scanning the blogosphere for news you can use, I found evidence that NONE of the 11 riders who finished this 14,000 mile race within the 16-day time-frame would be awarded ANY of the $500,000 prize money.

The justification given by organizer Big Jim  Durham at the 9 Oct awards ceremony: speeding. At some point over the course of the race, each of the riders had violated the rule about obeying all posted speed limits, and so they were all disqualified.

  • Why did Big Jim ask the 11 winners to come to the awards ceremony in Mesa when he knew he was going to disqualify them? That's just adding insult to injury. I wonder where Big Jim got the money to pay for his transportation to Mesa? 
  • If the GPS used is so accurate, why did Big Jim advertise a 10,000 mile course when in fact it was over 14,000? Last year they did not use US Fleet Tracking and they relied on local police to enforce the speed limit rule. I believe in technology but I have certainly witnessed a wide range in terms of GPS accuracy and reliability. Riders should challenge this.
  • Why even have a time limit if the course distance is off by 40% and violating the speed limit rule is a disqualifying offense? 
  • Could anyone have completed the 14,000 mile course over back roads in 16 days without speeding? To cover 14,000 miles in 16 days requires an average of 875 miles per day. If a rider is able to average 50 mph while riding on back roads, it would take 17.5 hours of riding per day to cover the course. That leaves 6.5 hours for gas stops, stretch breaks, maintenance, food, and sleep.

Those 11 riders who made it over the course in the allotted 16 days and passed the post-race drug- and lie-detector tests had every reason to believe they'd be splitting the purse.  The way Big Jim has handled this STINKS! I used to think I would like to try this challenge but at this point, it looks like a SCAM.

Read the summary of the awards ceremony here Hoka Hey Challenge 2011

Read the story as reported by Cyril Huze

Related posts on PhilosFX

Finisher! ATM 2011

It's not WHEN you finish
It's THAT you finish!

Inching forward toward the starting chute, a fellow runner quipped, "Just keep moving and don't fall over." That became my mantra during the race.

This year's Army Ten-Miler (ATM) was a great jog through town with 30,000 of my "closest" friends. We had perfect weather for a moving family reunion. I ran into (almost literally in one case) lots of people I hadn't seen in years. Always happy to see so many long-lost colleagues.

Some things were different this year. I did not see the flute player or the juggler. I saw fewer costumes. I did not see the Golden Knights or any static displays. The food and water tents and the after-race party area were set up in North Parking, further from the Metro. Some people wanted credit for a half marathon because of the extra distance we had to cover.

I had a great time. The ATM is like homecoming.

Related post:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three logicians walk into a bar....

Today's humor feed comes from Spiked MathThree logicians walk into a bar

Don't get it? Read the comments at Spiked Math

Get it and want more? Try this one from X, Why?

Win 10,000 Cash Money in Our New Contest!

We are approaching a HUGE milestone: 10,000 views at PhilosFX. And I want to celebrate!

Announcing a contest: Be the 10,000th viewer and WIN our prize--10,000 Cash Money! (That's 10,000 pennies, or US $100.)

Here's how to win the Grand Prize:

  • Navigate to PhilosFX (you are here--step one, complete!) 
  • View early and often: each view counts! 
  • Be the 10,000th viewer and take a screen shot of the counter as proof (see example below)
  • Leave a comment so I can send you an over-sized Party Check for 100 clams!

Print Screen, then save the screen shot as a picture.
Only ONE person will be able to capture the 10,000th view!

PhilosFX averages 20 views per day, with a low around 5 and a high around 300. So it will take somewhere between 2 and 100 days to get to 10,000 views. Odds are that if the average holds. it'll take right around 25 days to cross the 10K threshold. There's a chance this contest will bump the views up slightly, so keep that in mind.

But wait, there's MORE!

Announcing the consolation prize: Guess the day! In case no one wins the Big Prize, a secondary prize will be awarded. Be the first to correctly guess the day and win $10!

Here's how to win the Consolation Prize:

  • Guess the day on which PhilosFX crosses 10,000 views by posting your vote in a comment below, like this: 31 Oct, or October 31st, or 31/10/2011
  • Be one of at least 10 different people to guess the day--get your friends to comment, too.
  • Each contestant may guess up to 10 different days
  • The tie breaker: who guessed the correct day first per the time stamp on the comment 

Fine print:
  • Everyone is eligible, except me
  • The Big Prize will only be awarded if the actual 10,000th viewer captures the event!
  • The Consolation Prize will only be awarded if (a) no one wins the big prize; and (b) at least 10 different people guess at least one but not more than 10 days.
  • Each Guess the Day contestant must have a unique name. It can be a screen name that we sort out later, but "Anonymous" will not work. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: iCon

Steve Jobs tribute icon by Jonathan Mak

Steve Jobs

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

All quotes from Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

Related post: