This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Unfocused? - Not Really - My Infinite Summer -- About of a third of the way through the 1,000 page Infinite Jest, I've committed to it. Brittney Gilbert, at the Infinite Summer blog, has a great post on the experience, that matches mine. From You Have Chosen To Be In Here...
Infinite Jest takes focus. I cannot listen to music while reading this novel, nor can I take it in with television on in the background. I can't skim parts and still get the gist. The text requires 100% participation on my part. It has become a meditation. I have to be present and mindful in order to fully ingest the words before me. I cannot click to open a new tab, to check to Twitter to see if anyone famous has died, or refresh D-Listed. (Which I am proud to say I have not done even once during the drafting of this post. Yet.) It's just me and the lavish landscape Wallace created.
"I am in here."
I have chosen to care about this book, to give it a place in my life. In doing so I am rewarded with messages in IJ about the importance of being present. Of just breathing. Themes abound in IJ about focus, about choosing what it is that you pay attention to, and how crucial it is to do that with the utmost care. If only because our whole lives depend on it.
The non-linear (to say the least) structure, the constant change in voice, forced flipping, always flipping, to the back of the book for endnotes are elements that donít allow you to get lost in a story. "You are reading a book," you are often reminded. You are in here. You are not Cinderella at the ball or Hermione at Hogwarts, you are reading Infinite Jest. You may get caught up in the frenzy of Erdedy's panicked wait for pot, but not for long. Soon you are reading Infinite Jest again...
I'm glad it's the first real piece of fiction I've picked up in more than a few years.
Unfocused: Friday Fun: A Band from Brazil -- Great 60's rock from a bunch of contemporary 20-year-olds from Brazil - Garotas Suecas. Found them, along with some other interesting singers/bands on NPR's SXSW Wrap-up.
"If one aked me to what do I think one must principally attribute the singular prosperity and growing force of this people, I would answer that it is to the superiority of its women." - Alexis de Tocqueville
...to a New England town hall and a Bronx student council meeting, Democracy - coming to the USA.
"It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A."
- Leonard Cohen
Unfocused: Why Healthcare Costs So Much -- I wasn't sure whether to label this post as "unfocused", i.e., related more to politics, arts, society, science, and culture than my usual management, webdev, and (recently) mobile content. While there is certainly a socio-political aspect to the subject, there's also the fallout of the legacy of the absurd employer-based healthcare we've got in the US that impacts costs unrelated to the actual work at hand. That said, it's a much bigger subject than business. So, "unfocused" it is.
That said, I just want to point you to a series of posts from Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish". Sullivan is a prolific observer of social issues, and his style is partially based on pointing to and quoting from others' work. His blog doesn't have comments, but he does do a great job of editing and passing along emailed responses to his provocations. The recent series, started with Why Healthcare Costs So Much and continuing here, here, and here, so far, is a prime example of his best work.
Strongly recommend the thoughtful and insightful responses from his readers.
(And if you don't know him from TV commentaries or elsewhere, here's a good profile of Andrew Sullivan, my favorite Catholic, conservative, gay, pro-Obama, Brit-American pundit.)
Unfocused: Friday Fun: The 1960s Lyric Edition -- Can anyone point to a better line than the first one in the following?...
I was floatin' in the ocean greased with suntan lotion
When I got wiped out by a beach boy
He was surfin' when he hit me but jumped off his board to get me
And he dragged me by the armpit like a child's toy
As we staggered into land with all the waiters eatin' sandwiches
He tried to mooch a towel from the hoi polloi
He emptied out his eardrums, I emptied out mine
And everybody knows that the very last line
Is "the doctor said, 'Give him jug band music
It seems to make him feel just fine'"
And, finally, going beyond just songs of the Sixties - The Archive of Misheard Lyrics offers up their current funniest of the year - from the Eighties: Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love...
Might as well face it, you're a d**k with a glove.
(Can't guarantee whether that site has real misinterpretations only, but even if concocted, this one's even funnier when you remember that the song came out around the same time that one gloved Michael Jackson was in his prime.)
Unfocused: "Science Education" in Texas Threatened Again -- Listened to an analysis of recent Texas science textbook guidelines on this week's On The Media...
For two decades, critics have argued that the Texas Board of Education's science standards have allowed creationism to creep into public schools and textbooks. Last week the board changed the language, creating the latest arena in the clash between creationists and the scientific community. Both sides explain why the subtle language change may greatly affect how evolution is taught in Texas and the rest of the country.
"...the state Board of Education, in a muddled decision, rejected a state science curriculum that required teachers to discuss the "strengths and weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. Instead, the board allowed "all sides" of scientific theories to be taught.
"...by all means let's "be honest with the kids," as Dr. Don McLeroy, the chairman of the Texas education board, wants us to be. The problem is that he is urging that the argument be taught, not in a history or in a civics class, but in a biology class. And one of his supporters on the board, Ken Mercer, has said that evolution is disproved by the absence of any transitional forms between dogs and cats. If any state in the American union gave equal time in science class to such claims, it would certainly make itself unique in the world (perhaps no shame in that). But it would also set a precedent for the sharing of the astronomy period with the teaching of astrology, or indeed of equal time as between chemistry and alchemy. Less boring perhaps, but also much less scientific and less educational."
One can only hope that a science teacher, when faced with a student who suggests some alternative "theory" that is non-scientific, has the preparation and to point out the scientific weaknesses of any proposed science fiction or fantasy and therefore the reasons it doesn't belong in the science classroom. Hopefully s/he won't cave in to fear of being accused of (or punished for) "religious defamation".