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Archive for October, 2011

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are only consequences.
  —  Robert B. Ingersoll
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Better put a strong fence around the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
  —  Joseph Malins
[Apologies to Robert Frost for the title, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of medicine.  —  KMAB]
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Movie Review:  “War Games – The Dead Code”
This is the sequel to the classic 1983 original “WarGames” starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy.  I got it because it was on sale and, unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the sale price.  This updated version is not really a sequel.  It’s more of a reboot, re-run, sequel.  It has one of the original characters (the brilliant inventor) and the original WOPR.  The WOPR is the only thing that really makes the movie interesting – but in the end, it isn’t enough.  This version was made in 2007 but actually was released direct to DVD in 2008 and I’d never heard of it until I saw it on the rack.  It stars Matt Lanter and Amanda Walsh – neither of which I can remember from anything else (deservedly so if this is an indication of their work).  If you’re desperate to see an update of a classic from that time period, go see the new “Footloose” and leave this on the sale rack.
Movie Review: “The Happening
Another on sale DVD I picked up was “The Happening“, starring Mark Wahlberg and written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  Basically, I picked this up because I like Mark Wahlberg and some of Shyamalan’s works have been okay, too.  I thought Wahlberg was great in Invincible and Shooter and I’ve enjoyed him in some of his other films, so I thought, what the heck.  This film is about “something” mysteriously starts “happening” to get people to kill themselves.  The story takes place over a couple of days and then the mystery just stops (or does it?).  Anyway, it’s a mildly entertaining film and Wahlberg carries the role and the film.  It’s definitely not a scary film (horror) and definitely not action.  It’s just an okay film to pass an evening watching.  I may screen it again or I may not.  Some of Shyamalan’s work gets better with re-watching a couple of times, so I probably will, but this isn’t a movie you think, “Wow, I’m gonna watch that again next … (month, year, whenever).”  There is one gruesome scene in a zoo with a lion and there’s another scene where a couple of young boys are murdered, so I would not watch this with small kids (or the squeamish) around.
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First have something to say, second say it, third stop when you have said it, and finally give it an accurate title.
  —   John Shaw Billings
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Saying Just Enough

There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis of details.  I often say that one must permit oneself, and quite advisedly and deliberately, a certain margin of misstatement.
  —  Benjamin Cardozo
Associate Justice
U.S. Supreme Court
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…For a marriage to survive, the ratio of positive to negative emotion in a given encounter has to be at least five to one.
  —  Malcolm Gladwell
From his book: “Blink
[This was the first time I ever heard of this type of comparison or the ratio for survival/success.  Intuitively, it strikes me as true.  Militarily for an “average” attack to be considered “probably successful” in advance, the force (attack to defence) ratio must be at least six to one.  It begs the question of how an individual can estimate (count) positive and negative emotions on the fly.  And yet, we are able to because we can all describe relationships as “happy marriage” or “unhappy marriage”.  —  KMAB]
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The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
…So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them?  Answering that question is the second task of Blink.  When our powers of rapid cognition go awry, they go awry for a very specific and consistent set of reasons, and those reasons can be identified and understood.  It is possible to learn when to listen to that powerful onboard computer and when to be wary of it.
The third and most important task of this book is to convince you that our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled.  I know that’s hard to believe.
  —  Malcolm Gladwell
From his book: “Blink
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So for most subjects, people rely on a combination of news shows, Web sites, magazines, radio, chatter with friends, and their own gut.  And given how unscientific almost all of those sources are, most people end up being wrong much of the time about what is actually going on.  They are influenced by what looks right, and by what they want to see.  They rarely take the time to look at the cold hard facts of what is happening.
  —  Mark J. Penn
From his book: “Microtrends
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Imagine somebody with a Morse key or a reel-to-reel tape deck in the middle of the Namibia desert, running a shortwave transmitter off a diesel generator and sending music or messages toward the ionosphere.  In the middle of the night, it does not get any more spiritual than that.
  —  Andrus Aaslaid
From the article: “Enigma” written by Peter Savodnik
in the Oct 2011 issue of Wired magazine
[Sometimes I get asked why I blog. In the middle of the night, the answer seems clear…  —  KMAB]
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Movie Review: Footloose (the remake)
Yesterday I spent a pleasant afternoon at the movies with my daughter Sarah catching the remake of the 1984 kids-dancing classic: Footloose.
It’s impossible to spoil the movie because the remake is almost a duplicate of the original and it’s hard to imagine anyone going to see this version who hasn’t already seen the original.  The premise is as hokie as ever, but it doesn’t really matter.  The acting is okay.  The direction is okay.  The movie runs through almost all the same stuff.  The dancing is marginally better – more acrobatic and less pop-n-stop; but strangely less fun.  The change to the music in the warehouse gym/dance was poor.  It didn’t fit the movie or the timing of the dance.  I didn’t think the town preacher and wife were anywhere near as good in this version.  Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow were much better in the original.  I also missed the book burning scene, which was the transformation scene in the original – the dangers of censorship.
Is it better?  No.  Is it a great movie (what ever that means)?  No.  Is it charming and enjoyable?  Very much so.  Was it worth the time and cash?  Yup.  Recommendation: Check it out.  There’s a lot worse ways to spend two hours.  If you haven’t watched the original in some time, go see this first.  It (this version) will suffer less from comparison.
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Father, Forgive them; for they know not what they do.
  —  Luke 23:34
[Father, Forgive them; for I will not.  Today, I heard on the news that some “Tea Party” Republicans are calling on all small businesses to NOT hire a single new worker until the “Occupied” movement is halted.  I hope they put their names on a petition so we know where to give our business – and where NOT to give our business. — KMAB]
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If you find yourself genuinely drawn to go further, seek to establish a community of people, even if it is only a few, who share your interest and want to work together.  A small group of genuinely interested and committed colleagues will make a world of difference amid the confusion and inconsistencies that invariably arise in organization-wide movements.  In my experience, such movements rarely lead to deep change unless informal networks of leaders develop who translate “mandates from on high” into ideas and changes that make sense to people on the front lines of the organization.
   —  Peter M. Senge
From his book: “The Fifth Discipline
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My main advice for any study group is to establish a domain of action where you can test what you are learning.  All learning is related to action.  Learning never occurs through passive study alone.  Seek out an appropriate area where there is genuine motivation for improvement but where people are stuck with entrenched mental models or apparently conflicting visions.
  —  Peter M. Senge
From his book: “The Fifth Discipline
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Looking back, perhaps the lesson I would draw is this: If you don’t love it, don’t do it.  I loved it — teaching people how to reach in deep to fulfill their potential, how to become great.  And when you do that with a group, you, as the leader, enjoy the thrill of creating a great team.  For me it was like creating a work of art.  Only instead of painting on a canvas, I had the great joy of creating in collaboration with others.
  —  Bill Walsh
From his book: “The Score Takes Care Of Itself
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In my experience, this is what it takes to be a good teacher: passion, expertise, communication, and persistence.
  —  Bill Walsh
From his book: “The Score Takes Care Of Itself
[Which is why great teachers are so hard to find – anywhere – let alone in schools.  Being great at any of those individual areas will make you a valuable commodity in the market place.  Why would someone settle for the average teacher’s salary?  —  KMAB]
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