Archive for December, 2010

Create the tapestry of meaning that is your life

Or Ring in the new year with your personal Whoosh. …

David Brooks of the NY Times discusses philosophy in The Arena Culture.  He reviews “All Things Shining” from  Hubert Dreyfus of Berkeley and Sean Dorrance Kelly of Harvard. The book talks about the current secular age where the spiritual void vacated by religion is taken up by transcendent moments.

These “whoosh” experiences take us out of our shell and exist in the moment connected with each other and the universe (multiverse, God, whatever).  This can be as part of a crowd, observing nature, in action, or self-reflection.  Life has no special or central meaning.  Instead it’s a series of whooshes.  So we find meaning by being thankful, serving the world, and creating an environment where we and others can have similar experiences.

Bravo.

Brooks comments “I’m not sure this way of living will ever prove satisfying to most readers.”  How sad.  He invokes God and clings to arenas.

Our most vibrant institutions are collective, not individual or religious. They are there to create that group whoosh: the sports stadium, the concert hall, the political rally, the theater, the museum and the gourmet restaurant.  The activities often dismissed as mere diversions are actually central. … Our culture is defined by arenas. Our self-conception just hasn’t caught up.

Brooks is off the mark.

Large group activities have collectively joined, excited, … and incited … people since the the rise of tribes, with or without the support of state and church, whether it’s the war of the decade, Roman Coliseum games, Klan rallies, or witch burnings.  (Many have been for the social good.  The nasty ones though come first to mind.)  Are the arena whooshes of a Yankees or OU game or Obama or Tea Party rally that different?

Brooks writes:

Though they try, Dreyfus and Kelly don’t give us a satisfying basis upon which to distinguish the whooshing some people felt at civil rights rallies from the whooshing others felt at Nazi rallies.

That’s because there is no difference.  As social creatures we are wired for group whooshes … for better or worse.

Brooks claims:

This book is also a rejection of the excessive individualism of the past several decades, the emphasis on maximum spiritual freedom.

I totally disagree.  It’s precisely the culture of individualism that fills that void.  It makes us ultimately, spiritually, morally responsible for our actions and this world. It empowers us to question mob and majority rule and distinguish between civil rights rallies and Nazi rallies.  It allows us to not just enjoy arena events, but put them in perspective AND build our own good deeds, here, now, in this world (not some fantasy post-death).  In this way we create a tapestry of meaning that encompasses inner and outer worlds, our home, community, and planet, and personal and group experiences.

So start 2011 right and get your own personal whoosh on.

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The Claw … it’s fixed!

In What’s Really Going on at the Arcade Freakonomics blog author Daniel writes about the arcade game The Claw.  I’m sure you are as shocked as I to learn the game is rigged. Regardless of the morality of the Claw, or airlines charging for checked bags, one has to admire the inventiveness of such revenue optimization models.  Vegas wishes it could do the same.

Hamermesh writes:

A student described her summer job at an arcade. In the “crane” game you win prizes by manipulating a claw to grab stuffed animals or basketballs, but the arcade owner can and does manipulate the odds of winning. If a new crane machine is played rapidly, the crane is automatically adjusted from its normal settings to make the odds longer because the player is signaling an addiction to the game. If the machine lies idle for a while, the odds are made more favorable than normal. This three-tier price discrimination takes advantage of implied differences in players’ demand elasticities. This is the first example I’ve come across of price discrimination based on manifestations of individual-specific differences in demand elasticities rather than those based on the demographic or timing characteristics of demand.

Bang Bang: What’s beyond the universe

The Big Bang was hypothesized in 1931 by Georges Lemaître, to explain the expanding universe.  The cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR),  discovered almost 50 years ago, shows the leftover evidence of the first few moments, 13.75 billion years ago, when the universe was tiny and hot and exploded to form the universe that we know today.  The radiation is a fingerprint that was long thought to be random.  But the latest satellite data shows circular patterns that point to processes beyond the Big Bang.

A few theories provide intriguing and very cool ideas to explain it. One says that this universe doesn’t have a beginning and end, but that it’s a cycling universe that explodes, expands to become infinitely large and flat, and repeats.  Another says its evidence of the multiverse, where our universe is one of infinitely many universes.  The patterns are due to collisions with other universes.

LinkedIn culture jabs users

Jason Alba writes a nice piece detailing LinkedIn’s latest user jab in LinkedIn Free Level Losing Steam as LinkedIn Jumps The Shark. Some users no longer see the full names of 3rd degree connections and out of network LinkedIn members. It’s another in a long line of LinkedIn tactics that limit or restrict their users.

LinkedIn has been implementing this new limitation in stages or according to some magic algorithm.  I had this reported to me a few weeks ago.  But I still see full names in my own free account.

I agree with Jason that this change is important, akin to jumping the shark.  LinkedIn’s robust freemium strategy has been a key ingredient in their success, leading to a dominant market share and 75 million users.  The ability to search and view user names is an industry common feature.  Removing it places LinkedIn at a competitive disadvantage.

It will open the door wider for other networks or services that target the LinkedIn user base.  However LinkedIn’s commanding industry presence puts it in a monopoly position.  This is one area where they don’t have to worry about Facebook.  Users have no place to go.  They are not going to suddenly flee to much smaller business networks like Ecademy, Xing, or Viadeo. Lastly, there has been surprisingly little innovation in this space.

The limitation is expressly designed to motivate more users to pay for the service.  Speculation has been that squeezing users is a strategic move to dress up the income statement in preparation for an IPO.

This is likely accurate. Why else would LinkedIn intentionally downgrade their service?  However it’s certainly not necessary.  The company has claimed that’s it’s been quite profitable for the last few years.   Plus LinkedIn has been rumored to in acquisition/IPO play for at least three years now.

In the end it comes down to corporate culture.  LinkedIn is not a tech-driven company like Google.  It does not delight in new and innovative products and features.  LinkedIn has been and continues to be run by and for venture capitalists.  After several years they’re itchy (yet again) for that multi-billion dollar home run exit.  The only surprise is that they rode the free side of the wave for as long as they did.

How to really live long & prosper

From How to achieve ‘biological immortality’ naturally:

Evolutionary biologist Michael Rose, professor at University of California, Irvine, says he has discovered a natural way to achieve “biological immortality” without the use of anti-aging drugs and stem cell treatments.

“It’s one you can start this evening. … It comes at no cost, you don’t have to buy anything, and, in fact, it might save you money.”

Rose says that just like evolution has created aging to maintain youthful vigor in species, it also created natural biological immortality, such as a 10,000 Mojave desert creosote bush and other long-lived organisms.   The  immortality phase is a plateau where the probability of dying remains constant through the rest of the lifespan.

He says:

The key is not to slow the rate of aging, but go directly to the immortal phase at a lower rate of mortality, which is exactly what the fruit flies do.

Do this by adopting a “paleo” pre-industrial hunter-gatherer lifestyle once you reach 40 years old that is fully natural.

  • Stay in motion and exercise daily.
  • Eat meat, seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid dairy, grains and grasses, such as milk, rice and corn

Share This – LinkedIn continues to lust after Facebook

LinkedIn continues its derivative copycat strategy with Share This (TechCrunch article).  As a corporate strategy, LI has to be “like” Facebook to defend its turf from FB juggernaut incursion.  As a marketing strategy, deeper integration with the online world builds LI’s brand and reaches a larger audience that can be converted to users and paying subs.

But let’s be clear.  It’s NOT a product strategy.  As LI focuses on marketing and other frills, it continues to neglect the core networking product that is little changed, and in fact is continually restricted, over the years, an area where LI feels little heat from users, competitors, or investors.

Will you come to DallasJingle tomorrow if we pay you?

Will you come to DallasJingle tomorrow if we pay you?

The DallasJingle Charity Holiday Megaparty benefiting the Hoffen Foundation for Kids is tomorrow, Thursday December 2 from 7-11pm.  We will have a terrific party with several groups participating.  There will be music, photos, massages, free drink, and appetizers, all to support the Hoffen Foundation for Kids.

Our incredible sponsors have provided over a hundred door prizes worth several thousand dollars, including:

  • Sports memorabilia and tickets from the Dallas Stars, Texas Brahmas, and Dallas Derby Devils, including:
    • Autographed Texas Brahmas hockey stick
    • Dallas Stars hat signed by Captain Brenden Morrow
    • 5×7 autographed picture of former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco
    • Puck signed by Craig Ludwig, former Dallas Stars defensemen
  • A skate with the Dallas Derby Devils
  • Various expert consulting services
  • Ceramics
  • Gift baskets
  • Gift certificates
  • Advertising
  • Books and toys
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Get the picture? I’m still tallying it all up!  Thank you all for donating!!!

Every registered attendee will receive at least two items worth over $100!

LIKE THIS MATH? You donate $15 online or $20 at the door.  You snag at least $100 in prizes.  It’s like WE are paying you to have fun and help a wonderful charity. How come you haven’t signed up yet?

Join free tix contest winner Jessica Obermayer (@i_jessica), the Dallas Derby Devils, and many others at DallasJingle!  Register now.

Your donation gets you all this.

  • A free drink with drink specials all night at Duke’s
  • Appetizer buffet
  • Rockin’ DJ
  • At least $100 in door prizes for every attendee

Charity Holiday Megaparty @ DallasJingle.com

Thursday December 2, 7-11pm
Duke’s Original Roadhouse, Addison
4180 Belt Line Road,
Just west of Midway on the south side of Belt Line

Registration –
$15 Online, $25 for Two Online, $20 Door

Register now!

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