Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review to Dale Carnigie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People"

To view the pesentation/speaker notes click here.


My take away from Dale Carnegie's timeless classic "How to Win Friends and Influence People". This is one of the premier books to anyone interested in bettering themselves. Mr. Carnegie shares his business experience to demonstrate how to motivate and inspire people. This book is a treasure trove of simple yet often forgotten wisdom in how to relate to people.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Video Response to TEDTalk by Geoff Mulgan on Studio Schools

To listen and view the talk I'm discussing you can view it here.

My thoughts on Geoff Mulgan's TEDTalk on "Studio Schools". I'm not sure how this is much different than trade schools or vocational schools. I never understood why these weren't incorporated into the basic curriculum instead separated out as something of its own. These skills seem like necessities for engineering. I share my thoughts on how I would do education.


In summary: take a scaffolding approach and demonstrate the evolution of technology through history. This teaches engineering, math/science, problem solving, and history. The course would walk through the major technological inventions throughout history and require students to build them from scratch just as the inventors did. They then can see the limitations and the reason for the evolution of the technologies. This would also strongly solidify a foundation for students to understand where we came from and where we can go. The same concept could be applied to any evolutionary trait such as language, religion, philosophies, anthropology, etc.


We must involve, i.e. engage our students and not silo their education. Reminds me of the old adage: "Tell me, I'll forget; Show me, I'll remember; Involve me and I'll understand"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Video Response to Intelligence Squared's debate on "Should Airports Use Racial and Religious Profiling?"

To view the podcast I'm discussing you can view the debate here.

My thoughts on Intelligence Squared's debate on the motion "Should We Use Racial Profiling?" More specifically, should we profile based on religion and/or race when screening people at airports or other security checkpoints. Would doing so just force those we are trying to catch to change their approach? This seems like a weak argument since criminals are always trying to be two steps ahead of those they are trying to victimize.


This emotionally driven argument stems from the concern of obtrusive and/or abuse on those innocent of any crimes which is a legitimate concern but obtrusions and abuses will result regardless of the policy. The issue of "profiling" or "stereotyping" always arises from this concern but we fail to balance this with asking "why do profiles or stereotypes exist?" More often than not, it is not an issue of bias but statistics. We are statistical machines (albeit, poor ones) but we subconsciously make biases based on experiences and over time develop a statistical probability and associate a corelation. In this case, we are discussing Muslims. The perpetrators of most of the terrorist attacks have been Muslims with a distinctive "look" i.e. All male between ages 18-40 with an Eastern dissent. It seems foolish to limit ourselves from this "intuition" of further examination of these suspects.


We must however balance this with rationale and not extend our security policies to abuse everyone equally nor overly inhibit the freedoms of those not accused of any crime.  This however is for another debate how on effective our security policies even are. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video Response to Freakonomics podcast on "The Upside to Quitting"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

Sometimes you just got to know when to quit. This episode looks at lives of a prostitute, a ball player, a navy seal, a musician, and an Amish who all decide to quit.  "Fail and fail early" is the take away. I share my personal experience with quitting in finding my major in college.


How do we know when to quit? I was raised to try it "for a season". In sports growing up you only play a "season". This means you only play for a few weeks or months usually during one of the seasons e.g. spring, summer or fall. Often I would play baseball in the spring, soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter. By the time I got to high school I realized I wasn't cut out to play baseball or basketball so I focused my energy on soccer which I was at least decent at.


I once even did a stint with Cross Country, which for those unfamiliar with this sport its basically crazy people running really long distances. My father thought it would be good for me. I was an ok distance runner but found it difficult to find enjoyment in a sport where I threw up after every race. I wanted to quit but my father told me to "finish the season". I did. I actually gave it one more try the next year but decided it wasn't for me after that. Trying something for a "season" taught me not to quit or give up too early, taught me patience and perseverance, and mostly endurance. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Video Response to Common Sense with Dan Carlin's "Stirring the Pot"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Dan Carlin's Common Sense podcast on joining the tea party and occupy wall street forces and overcoming the plutocrats. Could they join together on the issue of government corruption? Is the Tea Party too far gone right and too in bed with the Republican party to work with anyone else? Is there any hope reconciling two polar ideologies? On the right we have the Tea Party arguing we have enough taxes and we should not increase taxes even on the rich to pay down our debt or despite the fact they have been MUCH higher in the past. On the Left we have union groups who don't want to cut anything  even if it means keeping deadbeat employees who not only don't contribute but are harmful and a drain financially and on the morale of the others. See Waiting for "Superman" and the impact of the Teacher's Union on schools.


So what can be done?! Well, vote for me for president in the 2020 election. I've got to start really early to build my voter base! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Video Response to Intelligence Squared's debate on "Are Men Finished?"

To listen and view the debate I'm discussing click here.

My thoughts on Intelligence Squared's debate on the motion "Are Men Finished?" This was to my knowledge the largest change in opinion from an audience. I agreed with the motion from the beginning because honestly I saw the writing on the wall in college.  Perhaps the first half of humanity was dominated by men due to brawn but the second half will be dominated by women due to brains.


The caveat is child rearing. It may be that an equilibrium is reached as men and women stop competing against each other and disregard current social taboos  or it could end by men rebelling and invoking violence and destruction on all of society.


What about the Christian view on family? Doesn’t it say women shouldn't work? Not according to the famed "Perfect Wife" as described in Proverbs 31:15-18

15 She gets up while it is still night;

   she provides food for her family

   and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

   her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

   and her lamp does not go out at night.


Didn't the Bible say women were made to be "helpers" of men? (Genesis 2:18-20)  What does that even mean? Doesn't it suggest men are lacking in some way if they need "help"?


Aren't women to be subjected to men and to obey them?  *sigh* God has given men the responsibility to lead and love their wife. We must end our chauvinism and pride and do what we were commanded to do. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Video Response to Philosophy Bites Dan Sperber on the Enigma of Reason

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Dan Sperber's Philosophy Bites podcast on the Enigma of Reason. Dan argues that the reason for our evolutionary development of reason was to help us better communicate. In truth, we are terrible at thinking reasonably and logically. We rely mostly on intuition which I tend to think of as pattern recognition. We infer conclusions given our historical experiences though they may be proven wrong. Reason can unite or divide us depending on our biases and how willing we are to evaluate evidence and admit when we are wrong.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Video Response to TEDTalk by Elizabeth Murchison on "Fighting a Contagious Cancer"

To listen and view the talk I'm discussing you can view it here.

My thoughts on Elizabeth Murchison's TEDTalk on Fighting a Contagious Cancer. Basically, lets pray a sinus cancer doesn't hit us this flu season.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Video Response to Freakonomics podcast on "The Folly of Prediction"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Freakonomics podcast on The Folly of Predictions. Television, the markets, intellectuals, so called "experts" are incentivized to make wild predictions. No one holds people accountable for when they are wrong. If you'll listen closely they'll use words like "may" or "could" or "should" as a defense from being held liable (as if they would be held liable).

Economists argue things like futures markets are good because it forces people to put their money where their mouth is. They say this controls speculation but that seems hard to believe when we see how volatile oil futures are. If you feel confident enough you can even put your knowledge and best guesses to the test by betting i.e. "investing" on a whole range of topics on InTrade. They also suggested policies or ways to track the accuracy of people's predictions might help.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Video Response to John Pipers's Desiring God sermon on "This Illness is for the Glory of God"

To listen and view the sermon I'm discussing click here.


My thoughts on pastor John Piper's sermon on "This Illness is for the Glory of God". Some argue bad things happen because we live in a fallen world and all the bad stuff in this world is a result of its falleness. Dr. Piper argues that another reason is that ultimately God uses even bad things for His ultimate glory. He illustrates this point by aruging Jesus let Lazurus die so that He could show people the greatest act of love, His Glory (John 11:1-16).

The inevitable concern with this idea is "does God then cause bad things"? Be it direct involvement or indirect by His allowing of evil events to happen we don't fully know why God  does what He does but this argument is inescapable. But, we are foolish to assume the same moral judgment on The Creator of morality. I would argue that God allows evil to exist because I don't know if we could even understand what Good was without it. This is why the story of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and evil is so interesting. Could we understand pleasure if we did not know pain? Could we understand love if we did not know hate? Could we comprehend faith without fear?

Regardless, it would only be wrong if God did allow these things to occur without balancing them. For this reason man is appointed to die and face judgment for his sins. This is also why we Christians cling to Jesus as we believe He is our only hope to be pardoned for our transgressions. Christ lived a sinless life and died so that we might not have to. Though we will all die mortally we can be spared of eternal death.  I can imagine many skeptics crying this sounds tragically convenient. Shouldn't our mortal death be enough? I'd argue does our death do justice to the terrible suffering we invoke on our fellow man? More so, our sins are not just against our fellow man (which is why we perhaps die mortally) but our disobedience to God merits separation from Him. What does perfection have with imperfection? Nothing. They are mutually exclusive.

Again, I can hear the skeptics crying this sounds like I'm making up the rules for God. These aren't my thoughts but the thoughts of many passed down through a faith that has lasted centuries. A faith that started by divine, miraculous events in the Old Testament and ultimately fulfilled in the Son of Man. I realize this doesn't come easy but neither does quantum physics.  God never asked us to understand it all, He just asked us to trust Him.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Video Response to Ravi Zacharias Let My People Think podcast with Dr. John Lennox on Tale-bearing, Partiality and Dreams

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) Let My People Think podcast  with Dr. John Lennox on Tale-bearing, Partiality and Dreams. Dr. Lennox addresses the question: "what is the biggest risk to institutions (nation or family)" by looking to the story of Jacob's partiality toward his son Joseph. Dr. Lennox proposes one of the greatest threats to institutions is favoritism but what I don't get is "what about Jesus's favoritism toward 3 of his disciples (Peter, James, and John)?" Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36, John 20:2

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Video Response to Philosophy Bites Philip Pettit on Consequentialism

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Philosophy Bites podcast on Philip Pettit's interview on Consequentialism. Consequentialism is closely related to the philosophy Utilitarianism. It bases it's means on the conclusions or the consequences of an action. Immanuel Kant was apparently a Nonconsequentialist. The question I keep asking myself is, "where is the hope?" Is choosing a lesser evil not still evil?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video Response to Common Sense with Dan Carlin's "Savior Corp LLC" podcast

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Dan Carlin's Common Sense podcast on letting the rich and powerful just take control. It almost seems like Dan's just giving up if he thinks the best thing we can do is just let the super rich just take control. One could argue that we are already doing that. He's not the first person apparently to think this though. Ralph Nadar had a book called Only the Super Rich Can Save Us. Not all rich people are bad. Not all government is corrupt, incompetent or inefficient. Not all corporations are exploitative, greedy or environment destroyers like the Reds and Blues would have us believe. Not sure if I can agree with Dan on this but it does make us ask: "Who do you trust and what else can we do?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Video Response to RC Sproul's Renewing Your Mind sermon on "When Towers Fall"

To listen and view the sermon I'm discussing click here.

Why do bad things happen to good people? As we remember 9/11 RC Sproul looks to the scriptures to see what Jesus had to say about this question. We find the answer in Luke 13:4. Jesus' message is a stark reminder of our inadequacy before an almighty God. Perhaps we should ask, "Why didn't the towers fall on us?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Video Response to Intelligence Squared's debate on "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?"

To listen and view the debate I'm discussing click here.

Part 1                                                                                                  Part 2


My thoughts on Intelligence Squared's debate on the motion "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" This was the first debate where I actually changed my mind. My first thought was: "We can't judge a religion based on a few extremists" but those against the motion made a strong argument with "We should also judge a religion based on its founder".  This does beg the question though, "Is Judaism a religion of peace due to all its founders history of wars?" and "What about Christianity?" Jesus and his disciples were certainly for peace but following leaders of the faith were not.

Could Islam be a religion of peace though if it is not thought of one now? People think of the other faiths as peaceful namely because there are not as many wanton acts of violence by its followers so what would it take to make Islam peaceful (or at least viewed as peaceful)? My solution: Secularize it. i.e. Make it (the majority view) moderate by giving a platform for the more non-fundamentalist scholars. Encourage the majority to make extremist views taboo and suicide as worthy of condemnation in hell rather than a means to martyrdom to glory.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Video Response to TEDTalk by Joan Halifax on Compassion

To listen and view the the presentation I'm discussing you can go here.

My thoughts on Joan Halifax's TEDTalk on Compassion. What does it mean to be compassionate? How do we (or even should we) balance helping individuals with helping a nation? If an overpopulated nation is out of natural resources and can't feed itself does giving them food help or just prolong the suffering? No one would think its good to let the children starve though. What happens if our compassion and means to offering it conflict? E.g. Those who justify abortion to prevent children being born into families where they are not wanted or worse abused. What drives our compassion? Is it out of self interest? Do not all our motivations originate out of self interest?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Video Response to This American Life's epidsode of "20 Acts in 60 Minutes"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on This American Life's podcast "20 Acts in 60 Minutes". I feel for those of you who go to West Point. It must be like pledging a fraternity everyday of college. What better way to say "I'm sorry" then to put it into a song? Be sure to get to know your colleagues names. Sometimes we don't know why we are successful. Sometimes, its just an Irving (fluke).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Video Response to Stuff You Should Know on "The Future of the Internet"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

Part 1                                                                                                 Part 2


My thoughts on Stuff You Should Know's podcast on The Future of the Internet. My predictions: faster wireless internet, the slow death of apps and emergence of "web apps" in their place, cloud computing is nothing new but it will become more common. But all this could end if Net neutrality isn't taken seriously. My solution: turn the infrastructure over to a public utility and require ISPs to share their networks. The internet can makes us dumb by adding another useless distraction leading us further towards a "Brave New World" or we can harness its potential and use it for sharing knowledge or wisdom. It all depends on how we use it. I'm trying to use it to try to capture my scattered temporal thoughts. In summary: why I do this. Had to break this one down into 2 parts due to time constraints. I tried using Windows Movie Maker to split the video but it messed up the audio.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Video Response to TEDTalk by AlexSteffen on "The Shareable Future of Cities"

To listen and view the presentation I'm discussing click here.

My thoughts on Alex Steffen's TEDTalk on The Shareable Future of Cities. I've always wondered why we don't have "libraries" for all our tools or things we only want to use occasionally. Alex Steffen wonders the same thing and share's his vision of the near and necessary future of cities if we are to survive.

Video Response to This American Life's epidsode of "Million Dollar Ideas"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on This American Life's podcast on Million Dollar Ideas. Why do all Asian food places seem the same? MIT entrepreneurs make their best elevator pitches to potential investors; Cheese is the new heroin; Phillip Morris knows cigarettes kill and that's good for society since your early death saves money; Michael Larson proves you can beat TV game shows (while possibly doing one of the only honest things in his life).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Video Response to Philosophy Bites Paul Russell on David Hume's Treatise

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My feeble thoughts on Philosophy Bites podcast on David Hume's Treatise. Paul Russell presents an "irreligious view" on David Hume's writing of "A Treatise of Human Nature". David Hume is well known for his views on skepticism. His additional works attempt to provide a "naturalistic" view on morality. The paradox is how do you reconcile applying the scientific method (empirical evidence) to morality when you are so skeptical of the very evidence you have? Paul Russell argues that an alternative view that is often overlooked is Hume's disdain for Christianity as an influential force in his writings.

Video Response to TEDTalk by Bill Ford on "A Future Beyond Traffic Gridlock"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Bill Ford's TEDTalk on a future beyond traffic gridlock. Flying cars are a pipe dream so smart cars are the next best thing. You think Atlanta traffic is bad and your 2 hour commute each day is bad? In China the average daily commute is 5 hours! It's only going to get worse unless we come up with some innovative solutions and Ford is certainly trying to do their part.

Video Response to Freakonomic's "The Church of Scionology"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Feakonomics podcast on "scionology", apparently another name for nepotism (hiring family members over others into a business). The "Carnegie Conjecture" proposes that this is a bad idea. Despite our best well meaning for passing on security and a legacy to our relatives it turns out they tend to do a crappy job. This is due to the fact that behavior seems to be only 50% genetic so they tend to lack the same drive, charisma, and vision as the predecessors (as demonstrated by Budwiser). This isn't always true though, as demonstrated by Yuengling.

Video Response to Common Sense with Dan Carlin's "Looking for a Left Hook" podcast

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Dan Carlin's Common Sense podcast on bringing back jobs to the US. Why is it we allow American corporations to off shore labor under conditions we would never allow here in the US? Because we don't like "those" jobs and we like cheap stuff. Ending trade agreements would certainly bring back jobs but would "cheaper" jobs raise income in the middle class? Where have all the "good" jobs gone?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

This is an interesting topic I actually struggle with. I am by no means opposed to spanking as I indeed find it to be a very effective means of discipline. In fact, just recently I've been encouraged to take up "the switch" as it is extremely effective. The struggle arises from many things. The first is the ability to discern what is worthy of discipline. Pretty much any disobedience is worthy of disciplining but deciding where to draw that line takes wisdom (something I often lack). Trying to judge that line with another adult is also very difficult as what may be inappropriate for one may not be for another.

Another area of struggle is the idea that using violence is the best means for behavior correction. Indeed it is effective at any degree in life but one has to question is it the best way to generate that sought after behavior change or obedience? Did its use in earlier eras explain some of history's brutality? The fear of what others may think or worse that someone might actually report you for abuse is always at the back of my mind. "Time outs" do prove somewhat effective and are the most common way I discipline. But I confess, sometimes it feels fruitless after 20 minutes of trying to force them to stay in one spot or they repeat their disobediance moments after being released from time out.

I find it ironic though that if we were to lock up our children like we do adults who disobey rules we would also be punished.  It takes surprising strength to withhold and restrain my anger when I feel an act is worthy of a spanking but at other times it takes tremendous courage and wisdom to strike a child in faith that it is for their own good. In the end, this aspect of life requires faith and God's grace to raise a child correctly. It requires me to overcome my flesh that desires me to be lazy and "let it slide" and to balance it with controlling my temper and not harming them. Truthfully, the method of discipline is as less important as compared to its consistent execution and its result.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Excel VBA: Ignore Merged Cell Warning

Excel can be annoying sometimes. Take for example the stupid alert letting me know I'm trying to do something with a merged cell. Sometimes this sort of thing is good to know but more often than not, I know what I'm doing and want to do it without being nagged about it. So, for future reference, if you want to suppress the merged cell alert just enter this VBA code in your workbook:
Application.DisplayAlerts = False

Pit Happens

This is why we can't have affordable health coverage and why malpratice lawsuits are often rediculous and in need of reform. Dennis Kucinich is suing House cafeteria for $150k because a pit in an olive in a sandwich caused him injury. Sorry Dennis, but pit happens.

Find Merged Cells in Excel without using VBA

1. Open a Find and Replace Menu (Ctrl + F).
2. Next to the Find What Field is a Format Box, Click it.
3. This opens the Find Format Menu screen which looks very similar to the Cell Format Tabs and screens
4. On the Alignment Tab, remove any ticks in the Wrap Text or Shrink to Fit boxes.
5. Leave a tick in the Merge Cells Box (tick mark should be bold) and click the OK Button to return to the Find and Replace screen.
6.Ensure you are searching Within: Workbook and Look in: Values and the Find what: box is not populated.
7. Now click the Find All Button and ALL merged cells are shown in the lower window and are selectable to jump to their location.

How does a non-tangible asset bubble burst?

The ERI Economic Research Institute, Inc. released this past years largest salary increases by profession. We all know that health care is expensive and is continuing to be more so but is it any wonder why when of the top 20 largest increases 70% of them (14) relate to the medical profession? Not so surprising 3 others relate to academics (fortunately 1 was a non-magement role). I can understand these increases in the medical field to a degree since they are concerned the new health care bill will eventually cap their salaries at some point (much like how insurance companies are franticlly trying to raise premiums). If the caps do hold (which they never do) then I guess it wouldn't be so bad but its unfortunate that we narrowly focus only on the money instead of the reasons why costs are so high. Sure doctors are highly educated and are worthy of their wages but many regulations exist that force up healthcare costs. Release the AMA and other governing bodies abality to control how many doctors are allowed into the field, end the war on drugs and drasticlly drop the price of drugs and peoples need to get a perscription are just two examples of how the government could restore freedom and lower costs and flip side is people will then have to be resposible of their new found freedom(s).