Monday, February 27, 2017

Overinflated language about the ‘Best Picture’ mix-up at the 2017 Oscars TV show

Last night there was temporary confusion about who won the Oscar for Best Picture. That’s what sometimes happens on live television. It got sorted out though. Today’s Washington Post article about it was titled The minute-by-minute breakdown of the shocking ‘Moonlight’/’La La Land best picture mix-up.

But over at Pundit Wire Charles Crawford instead used the overinflated title Oscars Disaster – What Exactly Went Wrong? I certainly wouldn’t call that a disaster, which Merriam-Webster defines as:

“A sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss or destruction.”

A disaster is an event like when the New York Daily News reported on January 1, 2013 that Survivors recall terror after bus crash in Oregon’s Blue Mountain range kills 9.

The image of the Dennis the Menace TV show came from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do you know what has been going on around you?

On February 24, 2017 there was an article written by Eiren Combs titled How to Deal with Your Fear of Public Speaking posted at the FlockU web site. She described five decent ways:

1] Wear a turtleneck (so your blushing is less visible).

2] Do breathing exercises.

3] Hold something sturdy (like the lectern, so you don’t shake as much).

4] Power pose.

5] Smile.

But the third paragraph in her introduction said:

“According to Statistics Brain, about 74 percent of the U.S. population has a fear of public speaking. This fear tops the U.S phobia charts, even beating out the number two fear: death.”

I found that hilarious considering she is listed as a class of ’20 student at Chapman University, where there have been three national surveys done on American fears. The 2015 survey ranked public speaking as 26 out of 89 fears, while the 2016 survey ranked it 33 out of 79 fears. On December 20, 2016 I blogged about them in a post titled Bursting the overblown claim that 95% of Americans fear public speaking at some level. The average fear levels from all three surveys were lower than the bogus 74% reported by Statistic Brain:

Not Afraid - 36.4%
Slightly Afraid - 34.6%
Afraid - 16.3%
Very Afraid - 9.8%

Very Afraid + Afraid - 26.1%
Very Afraid + Afraid + Slightly Afraid - 60.7%

The image of Little Miss Muffet came from the Library of Congress.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Food Labels: ENJOY BY, USE BY, or SELL BY?

Have you ever noticed that refrigerated bags of salad mix are marked with an ENJOY BY date but cartons of milk instead are marked with a USE BY date.

Does that mean that if I leave that bag in the refrigerator a few days too long I can use it, but I won’t enjoy it? (By then the iceberg lettuce will be an unattractive brown).

What about a bag of corn kernel snacks that says BEST IF USED BY? And what about the SELL BY date also seen on other packages?

On February 15th there was a press release from the Grocery Manufacturers Association titled Grocery Industry Launches New Initiative to Reduce Consumer Confusion on Product Date Labels. It described how:

“The new voluntary initiative streamlines the myriad date labels on consumer products packaging down to just two standard phrases. BEST If Used Bydescribes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume. USE Byapplies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package – and disposed of after that date.”

The web page on Food Product Dating from the United States Department of Agriculture says that:

Except for infant formula, dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by Federal law.”

On the 1998 comedy DVD by Jerry Seinfeld titled I’m Telling You for the Last Time there is a routine on Supermarkets that includes a section about the expiration date for milk. You can watch a version with subtitles in Portuguese on YouTube:

“How do they know that is the definite exact day? You know, they don’t say like it’s in the vicinity, give or take, roughly. They brand it right into the side of the carton and they HISS (makes a sizzling noise). That’s your goddamn day, right there! Oh, don’t screw with us. We know what day is the final day. And then it is so over. Did you ever have milk the day after the day. Scares the hell out of you, doesn’t it?”  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beware of bottom-feeding web sites

A few days back my daily Google Alert on “public speaking” turned up an article on a web page dated October 6, 2016 titled The Cons of Toastmasters at a strictly commercial web site titled Public Speaking Training. The author was not listed, and the Contact Us page for the web site refers you elsewhere. The fifth paragraph began with a sentence containing a grammar error:

“That’s how I feel as I sit down to right this article.”

Who really wrote this stuff, where had it come from, and when? It actually was scraped from a web site called Ezine Articles, was written by Marcus Antuan Smith, and appeared at a web page titled The Cons of Toastmasters submitted back on August 18, 2008. Terms on that web site call for including a link showing the author’s name, which was ignored by Public Speaking Training.

I looked at the last seven articles posted at Public Speaking Training, and found they also really came uncredited from Ezine Articles. All Public Speaking Training did was to add a stock photo or two.

The February 23, 2017 article on Five Simple Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker is recent. It was submitted by Jessica Lauren Vine on December 29, 2016 – so it was fairly new.

The February 21, 2017 article on Audience Analysis for Informative and Persuasive Speaking was submitted by John M. Lawrence on January 28, 2011.

The February 20, 2017 article on A Dozen Ways to Improve Your Speaking was submitted by Rex Rogers on August 2, 2010.

The February 19, 2017 article on Importance of Ethics in Public Speaking was submitted by Jordan Michael on April 16, 2015.

Another February 19, 2017 article on The Art of Listening and the Effect on Communication was submitted by Karen Golob on July 15, 2007, almost a decade ago.

The February 18, 2017 article on Public Speaking – 5 Tips for Writing an Engaging Speech was submitted by Crystal Coleman on February 18, 2009.

The February 17, 2017 article on The History of Arachniphobia – Fear of Spider Phobia was submitted by Andrew Power back on December 19, 2009. If you want to see a better discussion on arachniphobia, just watch the TED talk by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Spiders are discussed 8-1/2 minutes from the beginning.

The image of a man scraping came from the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How to research: If you can’t get in by the front door, then use the side door

On February 20 at her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova whined that Drudge Report’s curating includes articles behind paywalls – how disappointing. She said:

"For news junkies in a hurry, the Drudge Report used to be the go-to place. It had tons of curated content, continually brought up-to-date.

However, a problem has developed. That's because so many media outlets are putting up paywalls.

Click on, for example, today's headline on Drudge about Wal-Mart's growing troubles. The text is faded. Up pops a way to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. How disappointing. And time-consuming.

To get access to that information we can key in on a search engine "Wal-Mart's troubles." That will bring up posts we can click on. Some might be behind a paywall. Others might not. We resent those extra steps.

So, for those whose mission is to always be up on the news Drudge may no longer be the first stop. Not if they want it fast.”

In Jane’s bad example she didn’t bother with a link to the Wall Street Journal article. There's also no link at her other version of the post.  As I said in a post about her back on June 19, 2016:

“Jane’s post is as interesting for what it leaves out as for what it says.”

But when you Google the likely title, Wal-Mart’s Big Box of Trouble, you will find another article with that same title and author. That’s because the source really was Dow Jones News, and the Wall Street Journal (also owned by Dow Jones) just was the consumer outlet.  

What else can you do to get past paywalls? Just remember that you are a member of a powerful statewide group known as Taxpayers who have already paid for database access. On July 30, 2016 I had blogged about Going around pesky periodical paywalls by using databases from your friendly local public library. That’s a side door you can easily use.

For example, Jane has said she lives in Austintown, Ohio. She’s served by the Mahoning County Public Library, and state databases come via OWL (the Ohio Web Library). The county library web site lists a powerful collection of EBSCO databases that can be searched either individually or by a single federated search (via EBSCOhost). I have access to a similar collection at the Ada County Library here in Idaho. (The Wall Street Journal is not in there, but lots of other publications like the Harvard Business Review are). A good EBSCO selection to search is:

Academic Search Premier

Business Source Premier

MasterFile Premier

Newspaper Source

I find it’s best to use the Advanced Search screen, and change from the defaults to display Date Newest rather than by Relevance, and limit the search results to Full Text articles rather than also including those just abstracted.   

An image of the Finnish Stockmann department store came from Wikimedia Commons, as did an image of the old State of Ohio seal.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Will eating bananas reduce stage fright?

Back on April 3, 2007 at her Speak Schmeak blog Lisa Braithwaite posted about how you should Eat bananas for public speaking success. She linked to an article titled  The ABCDs of Public Speaking where Dale Deletis said B was for banana and you should:

“B. Eat bananas. The banana, of the entire fruit kingdom, has one of the highest concentrations of Potassium. Potassium has the magical effect of relaxing the muscles in our body. When adrenaline flows into the body during stressful situations, Potassium comes to the rescue by relaxing muscular cramps. Apparently, according to Deletis, banana-eating is also the secret weapon for conquering stress of many professional musicians. Concert musicians undergo the highest stress of all performing artists because perfection is paramount. Mistakes are virtually unthinkable because musicians must blend in perfectly with one another.”

The 2015 Musician’s Health Survey, reported by John Beder at the web site for his documentary film Composed, asked how effective bananas were. Results for that question (also from Facebook) are shown above. Bananas were not as magical for performance anxiety as one might expect, and other alternatives did better. Only 3% said they were Very Effective, 42% said they were Somewhat Effective, and the other 55% said they were Not Effective.

Bananas still are a decent food, and I like to have one as a midmorning snack. The Chiquita Bananas web page on Nutrition Facts says one contains 110 calories, 450 mg Potassium, 3 grams fiber, 30 grams total carbohydrate, 19 grams sugar, but no fat. That’s about half the 39 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce can of Caffeine-Free Coca Cola, and the fiber helps keep you regular.

But watch what you do with those potentially hazardous banana peels.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Don’t make a eulogy by stitching together animated GIFs

A recent Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic had a man giving a crass eulogy from animated Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) files – perhaps like an elephant ambling, a donkey kicking or a throbbing pencil. That’s horrible!

Look instead at this 2010 article by Lisa B. Marshall on How to write and deliver a eulogy.

The previous comic on Nightmares was about zombie attacks and slide presentations gone awry.

An image of a woman sewing came from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More lame marketing from DIRECTV


Today I received a “greeting card”  from AT&T Consumer Marketing about their DIRECTV NOW service.

On September 29, 2015 I blogged about how If you knew our company name, then you wouldn’t even open this envelope. As shown above, they tried that trick again. Clearly they have more money than sense. (I once worked in El Segundo, so I recognized the return address of 2260 East Imperial Highway was an office building).

The 1919 image of a man with crutches came from the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bursting a hilariously overblown claim that 99% of the world fears public speaking


On February 6, 2017 at LinkedIn Pulse Manoj Vasudevan (from Singapore) posted an article titled Fear DEATH…..NOT Public Speaking….that opened with a claim of 99%:

“In a recent Public Speaking Master Class, I asked the participants the following question: ‘Do you know what percentage of people in the world is afraid of public speaking?’

In came the answers, ‘Fifty percent?’, ‘Seventy percent?’, ‘Sixty two percent!’, “Ten percent?”....

‘About 99 percent’ I chimed in.

‘Aaah!’ The audience gasped.

I continued to prod. ‘What can you become when you overcome that fear?’

One lady said ‘We can be among the top 1 percent in the world.’

That’s so true.

It is said that the number-one fear of most people is the fear of public speaking.”

He never said where he got that 99% statistic, which seems to be an ipse dixit. It was not in the October 19, 2013 post in his Thought Expressions blog with an almost identical title of Fear DEATH…..NOT Public Speaking….  But it was in his July 10, 2016 YouTube video on How to Master Public Speaking (Part 1).
Later on in that LinkedIn Pulse article he said:

Thanks to powerful Internet search engines, most people have almost unhindered access to a vast ocean of information. Therefore, information or knowledge is no longer enough. You can no longer hide behind your qualifications or experience.

I previously had searched the Internet and found results from surveys that burst his 99% claim. There are no surveys covering the whole world. Instead, let’s look first at his home, Singapore, and its neighbor Malaysia. One blog post from August 11, 2013 was titled Public speaking was ranked sixth by a survey of workplace phobias in Singapore. Only 21.8% feared public speaking.

Another post from April 9, 2012 was titled Poll by Reader’s Digest Canada found fear of public speaking wasn’t ranked first in 15 of 16 countries surveyed. For Malaysian women being alone (30%) was first, going broke (29%) was second, speaking in public (24%) was third, and losing my looks (18%) was fourth. For Malaysian men being alone also was first (36%), going broke and speaking in public (29%) tied for second, and losing my looks (7%) was third.

Still another post from August 15, 2012 titled Surveys show that public speaking isn’t feared by the majority of adults in nine developed and eleven developing countries discussed how only 13.0% in developed countries and 9.4% in developing countries feared public speaking/performance.

On December 20, 2016 I posted about Bursting the overblown claim that 95% of Americans fear public speaking at some level. The even more overblown 99% claim also is burst. You can’t become the top 1% by overcoming that fear.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Can turquoise and other crystals heal fear of public speaking?


Crystals look pretty and colorful. But can they heal fear? Back on October 4, 2009 I blogged about Crystal Therapy for stage fright? In that post I mentioned a suggestion that you hold a crystal (like Golden Topaz) in your hand, wear it as a pendant, or drink water it had soaked in (gem water or gem essence). Of course there also is crystal massage (the art of rubbing people with pebbles).  

On January 15, 2017 a blog post by Edzard Ernst titled Crystal healing “empowers us to lead a more meaningful life “ quoted a web site called Beliefnet which mentioned that turquoise could calm public speaking nerves. A web page there by Wesley Baines titled 9 Powerful Healing Stones and What They Can Do For You had said:  

As a healer, turquoise is powerful, giving peace to the spirit and well-being to the body. This stone induces a sense of serenity, keeping physically harmful stress and inflammation at bay. Holding turquoise can bring back focus and restore vitality.

Turquoise is also a stabilizer, and can calm the nerves when working on a difficult problem, or when performing or speaking in public. It is known for its effectiveness in alleviating the fear of flying.”

I searched Google to find where this claim first appeared. A tourist attraction called The Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico had a web page about The Healing Powers of Turquoise that said:

“In the world of crystal healing, Turquoise is supposed to be a stone of communication. New Age healers recommend it for people who have a fear of public speaking. They believe it has the ability to make a speaker more eloquent, loving, creative and honest. But it is also improves the mental state overall by increasing all of the following positive mental characteristics: serenity, creativity, empathy, positive thinking, sensitivity, intuition, happiness wisdom all of which result in a calmer state that leads to greater self-realization. It is also considered a stone of friendship. As a communication stone, the New Age believers say that it opens up the connections between friends and allowing love to flow in those communications, which strengthens the friendship bond. Further, they believe it has the power to strengthen convictions, courage and personal power.”

What other crystals have been claimed to help?

Blue lace agate is one. New Moon Beginnings sells an Anger and Stress Relief Gemstone Set where it is described:

“As a support crystal, Blue Lace Agate assists those who fear speaking in public or sharing thoughts and ideas with strangers. It is a great stone for those who communicate for a living, such as workshop directors, lecturers, teachers, or anyone who must connect in a clear, intelligent manner. Blue Lace Agate also tranquilizes and relaxes the mind of executives, and calms stress in postal workers.”

The Natural Healing Shop web page on The properties of Crystals discusses Celestite Blue and Tiger Eye Blue: 

“Celestite is a powerful healing crystal. Bringing mental calm and clarity in the midst of any chaotic circumstance. Celestite can relieve stress, anxiety and obsessive behaviours. Its energy will alleviate any type of stage fright or nervousness. Celestite gives courage to those who suffer from agoraphobia (fear of crowds) or public speaking.” 

If you are nervous about giving a presentation or speaking in public, keeping a piece of Tumbled Blue Tiger Eye in your pocket can help relax your Throat Chakra, clear any blockages, and form a strong connection with the Brow Chakra, allowing for easier access to the intuition. It enables one to expand their horizons, often leading to better opportunities.

Hibiscus Moon has a web page on 4 Totally Rockin’ Ways to use Crystals for Fear and Anxiety which mentions Chrysocolla:

Chrysocolla – this stone has a very feminine & soothing vibration. It gently calms your heart chakra when its beating with fear. It will also give you more confidence when you’re gripped with fear when having to communicate to others your needs or when you simply need some security in social situations of any sort. It’s a great one to keep in your pocket when doing any public speaking.”

Goop has a web page on The 8 Essential Crystals which mentions lapis lazuli:

Have a fear of public speaking? Use lapis lazuli as your worry stone: Hold the stone in your left hand when practicing your speech, the day of your speech, and when it’s your turn to get up to the mic. Let your anxieties release into the stone.

How about arranging several types of crystals to form a grid?

Crystal Vaults sells a Conquer Fear Grid Kit  - a set that has three types of crystals to be arranged in a hexagonal pattern as shown above:

“THE FOCUS STONE: Before you can conquer your fear, you must accept it. By owning your thoughts and feelings, you have taken the first step in gaining control. Your Focus Stone will be a Blue Chalcedony Crystal. Its soothing light blue rays will surround you with energies of acceptance, faith, and belief.

THE WAY STONES: You must take the action to defeat your fear, but also have confidence and strength in doing so. Your Way Stones will be Crystal Ruby. Their deep red colors will motivate you to take action and have dedication.

THE DESIRE STONES: Your Desire Stones will be Aventurine. Green Aventurine is a Seeker Transformer. Seeker Transformers are talismans used when the desire is to find a way to transform a part of ones life to a more desirable state.  Its dark green rays will aid you in conquering your fear, and will bring the energies of healing, and growth. “

But they don’t take that concept to the next level, which would be arranging those hexagons in an array to tile a surface (as shown above), an idea you can find discussed on Wikipedia under tessellation. (Squares or equilateral triangles also would work).

Does healing with crystals work, or are we just fooling ourselves?

Unfortunately it is likely that we are fooling ourselves.  On May 28, 2006 Jeffrey Shallit posted about Debunking Crystal Healing at his Recursivity blog. He discussed some experiments done by a psychologist, Christopher French reported in 2001.

Kyle Hill also blogged about those experiment on September 11, 2011 in a post at Science-Based Life titled Crystal Healing: Magical Cure or Just a Rock?

More recently on January 20, 2015 Elizabeth Palermo wrote about Crystal Healing: Stone-Cold Facts About Gemstone Treatments at LiveScience. She described how:

“In 2001, French and his colleagues at Goldsmiths College at the University of London presented a paper at the British Psychological Society Centenary Annual Conference in Glasgow, in which they outlined their study of the efficacy of crystal healing.

For the study, 80 participants were asked to meditate for five minutes while holding either a real quartz crystal or a fake crystal that they believed was real. Before meditating, half of the participants were primed to notice any effects that the crystals might have on them, like tingling in the body or warmth in the hand holding the crystal. 

After meditating, participants answered questions about whether they felt any effects from the crystal healing session. The researchers found that the effects reported by those who held fake crystals while meditating were no different than the effects reported by those who held real crystals during the study. 

Many participants in both groups reported feeling a warm sensation in the hand holding the crystal or fake crystal, as well as an increased feeling of overall well being. Those who had been primed to feel these effects reported stronger effects than those who had not been primed. However, the strength of these effects did not correlate with whether the person in question was holding a real crystal or a fake one. Those who believed in the power of crystals (as measured by a questionnaire) were twice as likely as non-believers to report feeling effects from the crystal.

‘There is no evidence that crystal healing works over and above a placebo effect,’ French told Live Science. ‘That is the appropriate standard to judge any form of treatment. But whether or not you judge crystal healing, or any other form of [complementary and alternative medicine], to be totally worthless depends upon your attitude to placebo effects.’ "

Wikipedia and the Rational Wiki have articles on Crystal Healing that mention some other references.

An image of gem pebbles came from Wikimedia Commons.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Incomplete and useful advice about recordings of your speech rehearsals

On January 4th at Presentation Blogger, in a post titled 5 Myths of Presentations That Seriously Need to Die, David McGimpsey had ranted:

“Can I be 100% honest? Most of the presentations advice online, in books, and training courses is useless. Often it’s total crap.”

But some crap appeared in his blog post titled How to Improve Public Speaking Skills with 7 Easy-to-do Tricks from last September that he put out at LinkedIn Public Speaking Network on January 28th. There also was a YouTube video and an Infographic version. His second item titled Throw away your script begins with (my italics):

“Instead of trying to remember your speech word-for-word, practice delivering your speech without a pre-written script. If you have time, record yourself (video or audio). You’ll find areas where you need to elaborate and give additional information. You’ll also find areas you can cut.”

That brief mention of optional recording did not appear in his YouTube video (watch it around the three-minute mark) but is a topic that deserves more careful consideration than he gave it. David just talked about content. He said nothing about delivery.

Contrast that with Fred E. Miller’s December 28, 2016 No Sweat Public Speaking blog post titled Practicing is not optional if - You Want to Give a Great Presentation. Fred gave useful advice on how to practice - to make an audio recording and listen to it. Also, make a video and view it three ways. The first time watch with the sound off. The second time don’t look (perhaps turn around) and just listen. The third time both watch and listen. For a fourth time, get someone else to watch with you. And then make another video of your next practice, etc. 

In an October 2, 2015 blog post titled Should you begin reviewing your speech by watching the video as a silent movie? I disagreed with Fred’s earlier mention of the video viewing sequence:

“He said watching with the sound muted should come first since nonverbal trumps verbal. I would suggest instead that you watch and listen first, listen without watching second, and watch with the sound off third. You aren’t a silent film actor (or a mime), so you are not used to conveying a message without words. Why would you start by doing something that probably will be disappointing and knock you down?”

In that blog post I also mentioned older and more detailed advice from Nick Morgan on seven ways to rehearse a speech.