mm425: Short attention span blogging returns!

June 30, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The Prime Directive of Blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily, has run head-on into the brick wall of fatigue.

Mrs. MUDGE, gathering a bunch of old clothes for a charity pick up tomorrow, has inspired us to gather some stories that we’ve stockpiled but simply can’t do more than whiff at them over the past few days.

So perhaps we’ll just showcase six of them without commentary, just this once. Pretend we’re reddit.com without the social networking trappings. Call this post: “(th)read(bare)it.” Or not.

1. The NYTimes takes a look at a brand new, cost saving (and, get this!, the savings seem to be mostly passed onto the consumer!) gallon milk jug.

New Milk Jug Leads to Cost Savings and Spills

2. The MUDGE household has been weaning itself from the bottled water habit for the past several months. We’re in the minority,apparently.

What’s Colorless and Tasteless And Smells Like . . . Money? – washingtonpost.com

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mm424: I, for one, feel smarter every day…

June 29, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Spotted a couple of references (most recently and indirectly at Arts & Letters Daily) to a most thought-provoking article in the Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr, regarding the perhaps crippling effect of Internet use on the intellect.

atlantic

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

What the Internet is doing to our brains

by Nicholas Carr |  July/August 2008 Atlantic Monthly

“Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”

I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

So I’ve noticed through the years that my ability, or even interest, to focus for extended lengths of time on a book had diminished. I have attributed this mostly to the natural effects of my alacritously advancing age. But maybe there’s more going on.

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mm423: A day for a good laugh, or two

June 28, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Surfing through the good offices of BlogExplosion.com early this morning, I happened once again (and shame on me, it’s been on our blogroll for some time) on a blog that, while not updated all that often, is absolutely worth the wait.

Tony Calabrese is a very funny man. Exhibit A:

fugetaboutit!

Thirty Years… Thirty Years… In a Row….
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Fugetaboutit!!!

It’s been awhile so this is a little long.

Thirty years…..

That’s how long I’ve been married.

Thirty years….

In a row.

We went back to Maui for our 30th wedding anniversary. That’s where we spent our honeymoon. It’s also where we went for our 25th wedding anniversary.

Some people say I like returning to the scene of the crime.

Captures the (long married) human condition quite aptly. Please read on.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Fugetaboutit!!!

As I commented at the scene of the crime, Wow! I Wish I Could Write Like That!

And now for something completely different…

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mm422: Blast from the Past! No. 31

June 27, 2008

Worked long, and late today; then spent some quality PVR playback time with Mrs. MUDGE. So, blogging took a very bedraggled third place on the priority list, darn it! So, once again, time to unwrap from the deepfreeze a past treasure.

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 20, 2007, and originally titled “mm146: Left-handers on roll as numbers triple.”

MUDGE’S Musings

There is no more appropriate story for a blog very particularly titled Left-Handed Complement than this one from the Sunday Times of London:

timesoflondon

LEFT-HANDEDNESS has reached record levels, with a more than threefold rise over the past century in the proportion of those using their left hand to write.

A large-scale historical study of handwriting down the ages by academics at University College London (UCL) has found that the proportion of left-handers has gone up from 3% among those born more than 100 years ago to 11% today.

Chris McManus, professor of psychology at UCL, said the surge in left-handedness may be due to a reduction in attempts to coerce naturally left-handed children into using their right hands.

McManus’s team have reinforced the theory that left-handedness is growing by analysing film shot about 1900 which shows that only 16% of those living at the beginning of the 20th century used their left arms to wave, compared with about 24% of people today.

Your obedient servant happens to be lefty in more than politics, thank you very much.

Can it really be that there are more of us?

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mm421: Blast from the Past! No. 30

June 26, 2008

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 16, 2007, and originally titled “mm144: WIWICWLT #4.”

MUDGE’S Musings

Wow! I wish I could write like that!

We’ll keep this short. Almost choked on my lunch today while catching up with the best magazine on the planet, The Economist.

In an otherwise sober story about motorcycle gangs in England (who knew?) the following sentence appears:

… The victim, G[…], was a member of the Hells Angels, a biker gang that has a difficult relationship with the law (and with apostrophes)….

Wow! I wish I could write like that!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm420: Thanks so much, WordPress.com!

June 25, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© averages roughly 50 hits a day. As reading L-HC indicates that faithful reader indubitably has exquisitely refined taste, I’m not unhappy with that number, exactly. It’s about 50 more people than ever read whatever I might have written before taking up blogging.

Today, 96 hits.

Wow, did my latest post, on web conferencing, hit a nerve?

Not exactly.

50 people clicked on a link from last August, a story about Barack Obama. And I have WordPress.com to thank.

It seems recently they added a delightful feature when one publishes a post: Possibly related posts: (automatically generated) wherein the system pulls out three or four stories that share a tag or category with the article just posted. It’s a handy resource, one small example of the feature-rich service that WordPress.com provides (in my case, nearly cost-free) to nearly 3.5million blogs.

Turns out that FoxNews.com, of all sites, is the source of today’s doubled traffic.

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WcW012: A rare public appearance

June 24, 2008

wcw1

Web Conferencing Week

Once again, this occasional series has failed in its nominal attempt to appear on any kind of regular basis. Not so much a lack of enthusiasm as simply a lack of news.

I’ve been working with the team that is preparing to roll out the latest and greatest version of our software, IBM Lotus Sametime, testing, preparing the teaching curriculum, and generally filling the gaps in a very extensive task list. The effort has been lengthy, not least because of its magnitude, especially when measured against the minute size of the team. Really, there are just two people in the enterprise with full time responsibilities for the Sametime collaboration tools; thankfully the other is a tremendously gifted, spirited and hard-working technical architect who works out of his home office in Colorado.

Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel has resolved itself: it’s NOT an oncoming train, and we believe we’re mere weeks away from D-Day.

It’s been a time.

Meanwhile, I’ve suspended my classes in preparation for an entirely new approach to the educational process; after more than 650 of them in the past 5-1/2 years, for nearly 4,000 students, management has decided to turn over training responsibilities to our division’s Learning & Development group. I have mixed feelings about this, as I’ve grown rather fond of the process of teaching (NOT fond enough to follow the curriculum to that particular group!); 650 one-to-two-hour classes is probably more than enough for a while.

You may recall that this teaching is all conducted on-line, using Sametime web conference technology, together with a telephone conference call. Such remote teaching has its own challenges; there is much reduced feedback available, since there are no faces nor body language to read.

But, this has worked for me, since, as anyone can tell from the likeness published at the top of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©, I’ve a great face for radio. So, a form of radio such teaching is. And, without a live audience (the great old radio series seem to have had live audiences), without that rich feedback, it’s quite hard work.

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