Sunday, October 19, 2014

Top 10 things the average guy fears the most

Since Halloween is at the end of the month, magazines like to print scary articles in their October issues. In the back of Men’s Health (USA), on page 164, is one titled Sum of All Fears  - we scare up the terrifying truth about what makes men afraid, very afraid. The version posted on their web site is titled The Truth About Fear.

They include the following Top 10 Fears List

1. Heights
2. Being maimed
3. Snakes
4. Dental treatments
5. Injections
6. Spiders
7. Enclosed spaces
8. Flying
9. Sight of blood
10. Thunder

Curiously it does not list any percentages, and it doesn’t include fear of public speaking. (However, there is a paragraph titled Stave Off Stage Fright).

Elsewhere on the page there are the following eleven percentages:

46% say seeing their doctor is enough to scare them silly

37% worry their hairline will vanish faster than a camp counselor in Friday the 13th

27% of men survived a health scare

26% who as boys slept with the lights on

19% of men have been so startled they felt they were having a heart attack

18% of fathers said the birth of their child was the scariest day of their life

14% of men say they’re in constant fear of unemployment

11% of men think no villain would be scarier to face than Chucky

10% find life so starling they take antianxiety meds

10% are afraid their six-pack (abs) will disappear

3% still want the lights on, perhaps hoping for wicked-good sex 

There is no byline, and they don’t refer to where any of this stuff came from. I’d trust it only as far as I could throw that page (after tearing it out and folding it into a paper airplane).

For balance, elsewhere on the web site site is a web page with a list of 13 Things a Man Should Never Fear

1. Yoga
2. Having Her Drive
3. Black-and=White Movies
4. Superhero Cartoons

5. Small Dogs
6. Snuggling
7. French Cheese
8. Makeover Shows
9. Tea
10.Video Games
11. Country Music
12. Street-Cart Food
13. Staying Home Alone on a Saturday Night

The image was derived from this one on the Library of Congress web site.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A tenth presentation tip that will make you really stand out

On October 8, 2014 at her PPT POP web site Clemence Lepers posted an article titled 9 Actionable Presentation Tips That’ll Make You Stand Out. Gavin Meikle blogged about it containing Another Great Presentation Skills Infographic.   

Most of the Clemence’s article is an infographic that unfortunately makes a poor first impression since her title:


contains an extra word OF (or FOR).

My tenth tip (or commandment) is just to slow down. Set aside what you have done for a day. Go back and proofread it one last time. (Or ask someone else to look at it). Then send it out. When you don’t, you probably will miss that extra OF.

Clemence also quoted the statistic from a recent Prezi survey that:

 “...70% of employed Americans who give presentations say presentation skills are critical to their success at work.” 

I’d discussed that survey in a blog post where I noted that it was spun upward from less than 50% in the original press release headline which instead said:

“Presentations Are Critical to Success According to Nearly 1 in 2 of Employed Americans.”

On the other hand, 46% of employed Americans admitted doing something else rather than listening during presentations by a co-worker.

Back in 2009 I blogged about the popularity of top lists with various numbers of items and found that ten items would give you about 50 times more Google hits than nine items. 

The Ten Commandments image came from siervo on Openclipart.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 2104 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, STED Microscopy, and the Donut of Darkness

This month I was a bit puzzled when comparing how journalists described this year’s winners of the Nobel prizes for physics and chemistry. They had an easy time with physics. For example CNET said Efficient, useful blue-light LED draws Nobel Prize in Physics. But, many fumbled on headlines for chemistry, like the Associated Press with 3 win chemistry Nobel for super-zoom microscopes, and the New York Times with Nobel Laureates Pushed Limits of Microscopes. At Wikipedia there is a jargon-laden article covering the broad topic of Super-resolution microscopy.   

The optical microscopes that won the Nobel prize were rather different from the brightfield transmitted light microscope (shown above) that you encountered in a school biology or science class. That type of microscope has a resolution of about half the wavelength of visible light. What’s different about the new ones?

First, these are fluorescence microscopes. The sample is illuminated using ultraviolet (black) light, which makes molecules glow (fluoresce) when observed.

Second, these are scanning microscopes. The sample is lit by moving a very narrow laser beam across the surface. The popular Nobel article titled How the optical microscope became a nanoscope described it as being like a nano flashlight.

One of the techniques that won the prize is Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscopy, which was developed by Stefan Hell. The depletion part of the acronym describes a very clever trick, which is the third difference. The sample is scanned by two coaxial beams: an inner ultraviolet one, and an outer depletion one that prevents fluorescence and thus creates a “Donut of Darkness” as shown above. I instantly thought of donuts when I saw Figure 2 from the Nobel article on the principle of STED microscopy. Apparently that wouldn’t have occurred to those Swedish authors, since donuts aren’t as common of a breakfast food there as in America. (Sweden just got Dunkin’ Donuts shops in May 2014).

You can watch a 39-minute YouTube video from the iBiology Microscopy Course in which Stefan Hell explains Super-Resolution: Overview and Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) Microscopy.

The image of an optical microscope came from the National Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is it time for National Face Your Ears Day?

No, that’s just a typo. Yesterday (the second Tuesday in October) was National Face Your Fears Day (which I blogged about back in 2012). For that occasion at Sims Wyeth just had an article with 17 Inspiring Quotes to Help You Face Your Fears.

You’d need to use a mirror (or something similar, like a still pond) to face your ears, as shown above in Edward Burne-Jones’s 1875 painting The Mirror of Venus.

Where can you find out about all those obscure days & weeks? Just look in the reference section at your friendly local public library for the latest edition of Chase’s Calendar of Events, which calls itself:

 “the authoritative guide to special occurrences, holidays, anniversaries, celebrity birthdates, religious observances, sporting events, and more from around the world.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

20 annoying buzzwords or phrases that nevermore should be used in the workplace

On September 4th Accountemps issued a press release about their survey of annoying buzzwords and phrases that should be used nevermore. They interviewed over 600 human-relations managers at companies both in the U.S. and Canada.

In alphabetical order their top twenty were:

At the end of the day * #
Circle back #
Crunch time
Deep dive
Employee engagement
I am overwhelmed
It’s above my pay grade
It’s not my job
Let me get back to you
Leverage #
Out of pocket
Pick my brain
Synergy * #
Think (thinking) outside the box * #
Value-added * (value add) #
When am I going to get a raise?
Win-win *

Five marked with an asterisk (*) also were in their 2004 survey titled Buzzwords Gone Bad  that listed 18, and are thus extremely stale.

Six marked with a pound sign (#) also were in their 2009 survey titled What’s the Buzz, that listed 17 and are somewhat stale.

Others from 2004 that are gone and will not be missed are:

Accountability management
Customer centric
Core competency
Generation X
Get on the same page
On the runway
Redeployed people
Take it offline

The others from 2009 that are gone and will not be missed are:

Cutting edge
Game changer
It is what it is
On the same page
Reach out

Back in 2012 I blogged about Tired old phrases to use nevermore (from a longer list published almost a century ago). 

The image with a raven was modified from one on Puck magazine cover published back on November 7, 1900.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is that information fresh, or old and moldy?

Now and then when I visit Alltop Speaking, I look at Jeff Davidson’s Interruption Management. His latest article dated October 3rd is titled A Nation of Druggies and includes a startling statement that:

“Patrick Di Justo, writing in Wired magazine observed, ‘Antidepressants are the most commonly popped pills in the country, accounting for 227 million prescriptions filled last year alone...'.”

You might assume that last year logically would refer to 2013. But, glance at the web address for Mr. Davidson’s article, and you will see a 2007/12/ date (Jeff likes to reuse his stuff). What year was Mr. Di Justo really talking about?  His article, From Benzedrine to Abilify, Chronicling America’s Love of Psychiatric Drugs, was posted at back on September 25, 2007.

Since the U.S. population now is about 319 million, if those prescriptions were spread around evenly it would mean that roughly 71% of us had gotten one. Obviously that’s silly, so what percent of U.S. adults really are using antidepressants?

Over at National Institute of Mental Heath (NIMH) there is a post by Tom Insel from December 6, 2011 titled Director’s Blog: Antidepressants: A Complicated Picture which says that:

“As these new CDC data show, 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older (3.7 percent of youth between 12 and 17) report taking antidepressants. Last year, antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed medications, right after drugs to lower cholesterol. About 254 million prescriptions were written for them, resulting in nearly $10 billion in costs.”

That is useful information, rather than just something to startle us. The image of moldy bread came from here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Public speaking fear for adolescents in Japanese high schools

This year the results of a very large survey about fear of public speaking was published in Asia-Pacific Psychiatry magazine. That article by T. A. Furukawa et al was titled Public speaking fears and their correlates among 17,615 Japanese adolescents and appeared in Volume 6 on pages 99 to 104. In 2008 and 2009 they surveyed a sample of adolescents both in junior (grades 7 to 9, ages 12 to 15) and senior (grades 10 to 12, ages 15 to 18) high schools. Students were in both in Kochi Prefecture and Mie Prefecture (in its capital, Tsu City). You can read the abstract here at PubMed, or download a pdf of the full text here.

Students were asked:

“Have you had trembling hands, quavering voice or lost voice due to tension and anxiety when speaking in front of other people in the past month?”

They could answer No, Probably No, Probably Yes, or Yes. Only the last Yes answers were taken as a positive result.

An overall average of 7.3% reported public speaking fear. Detailed results from their Table 1 are shown above by age in a bar chart. The percentages ranged from 5.7% to 9.1%, and tended to decrease with increasing age.

Results for both females and males by age are shown above in another bar chart. At all ages females reported higher percentages that feared public speaking than males did. 

These percentages are similar to the 6.8% of Swedish adolescents in junior high school that reported a marked fear of speaking in front of the class.

These percentages are much lower than those reported for American adolescents in the NCS-A by Green et al ( 35.8% for Performing for an audience, and 24.9% for Speaking in class), but are not really comparable since the NCS-A asked for lifetime prevalence (Have you ever?) rather than monthly prevalence.