Monday, October 22, 2018

How not to communicate in a crisis

You might not expect an absolute monarchy like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be great at crisis communication. But they did a truly abysmal job after journalist Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2nd and never was seen again.

Back on May 12, 2014 I blogged about How is Crisis Communication different from public speaking? In that post I mentioned that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had as their mantra to:

“Be first. Be right. Be credible.”

The Saudi government did none of those three things. Their story instead became more wrong and less credible. A BBC News article today titled Khashoggi death: Saudi Arabia says journalist was murdered describes this farce. A CNBC story today added Saudis reportedly scrap coverup plan because Khashoggi ‘body double’ wore the wrong shoes.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fears of university or church leaders, the paranormal, and the 2018 Chapman Survey of American Fears

On October 16, 2018 there was a blog post from Chapman University titled Paranormal America 2018 that discussed some questions from the fifth (2018) Chapman Survey of American Fears. It contained the vertical bar chart shown above which listed seven paranormal fears (ranked by the percent who Strongly Agreed or Agreed, and rounded to the nearest percent). The following text claimed:

“Currently the most common paranormal belief in the United States is that places can be haunted by spirits (57.7%), followed closely by the belief that ancient, advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis once existed (56.9%). More than two out of five Americans (41.4%) believe that that aliens visited Earth in our ancient past and more than a third believe aliens are visiting now (35.1%). Of the items we asked about, Americans are the most skeptical about fortune tellers, with only approximately 17.2% believing that others can see the future.”

After that text there was a table listing those percentages to the nearest tenth of a percent. The vertical bar chart showed 21% for ‘Fortune Tellers and psychics can foresee the future,’ and 17% for ‘Bigfoot is a real creature.’ That table instead showed 20.7% for ‘Bigfoot is a real creature’ and 17.2% for ‘Fortune Tellers and psychics can foresee the future.’ Which is correct? The Table is.

But there is a bigger problem. I looked at the web page for the survey, and downloaded the .pdf file with the Full Survey and Methodology. On pages 67 to 69 there are really are nine questions, qn 24a through qn 24i. As shown above in a horizontal bar chart the most common paranormal belief (57.9%) actually is that ‘I have been protected by a guardian angel.’ The other omitted belief (35.8%) is that ‘Satan causes most evil in the world.’ Both beliefs were also asked about in 2016, but not reported on in their blog post. On October 16, 2016 I blogged about how Guardian Angels and Satan are paranormal beliers the 2016 Chapman Survey of American Fears wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. My suspicion was this was due to fears of upsetting university or church leaders. Last year they omitted the question about Satan. On November 24, 2017 I blogged about how Guardian Angels are a belief that the 2017 Chapman Survey of American Fears blog post on Paranormal America wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. They still have that ten-foot pole!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Is my debit card locked, or is it my credit card?

Recently I received the fraudulent phishing email shown above. At least four things are wrong with it.

First, the title line says that my debit card is locked, but the body says instead that my credit card is locked. Why don’t they know which it is?

Second, I don’t have an account with Bank of America.

Third, the email address is really from somewhere in Japan and is unrelated to Bank of America.

Fourth, the Bank of America logo is missing. Why didn’t they try to fake that too, as shown above.

Friday, October 19, 2018

You probably won’t hear public speaking coaches discuss the 2018 Chapman Survey of American Fears

On October 16, 2018 Chapman University reported results from their fifth Survey of American Fears in a blog post titled America’s Top Fears 2018. That post contained what was claimed to be The Complete List of Fears 2018 (also available as a .pdf file). But when I compared them with the 97-page .pdf file about their Survey Methodology, I found they had omitted fear of Gang Violence (27.8%), which was question 23m on page 66. Including it there were a total of 95 fears.

In 2018 fear of Public Speaking was ranked 60th out of these 95 fears (based on the sum of percentages for Very Afraid and Afraid). In 2017 it had been ranked 52nd out of 80 fears, in 2016 it had been ranked 33rd out of 79 fears, and in 2015 it had been ranked 26th out of 89 fears. On October 26, 2017 I blogged about How can you make a public speaking coach run away like a scared zebra? Just tell them where fear of public speaking ranked in the fourth Chapman Survey of American Fears. In that blog post I lamented that coaches instead would likely continue to refer to an article in the Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham on October 30, 2014 titled America’s top fears: public speaking, heights, and bugs. That article showed public speaking as the number one fear - but didn't really list all the fears.

Monday, October 15, 2018

My fiftieth high school reunion

On October 6th I attended the 50th reunion of my 1968 class at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh. Back then Allderdice was a junior and senior high school with about 3400 students in grades 7 to 12 (so my class would have had about 570). As shown above, in a pre-1945 postcard, the front entrances facing Shady Avenue had three long sets of terraces and steps. Perhaps 200 were at the reunion. Most looked grayer, fatter (and balder).

On January 15, 2017 I blogged about how the slogan for Taylor Allderdice was Know Something, Do Something, Be Something. In my varied career I wrote a couple of review articles. One I blogged about on March 18, 2013 in a post titled What is your hearing threshold? – the joy of statistics was presented in 1984 at the annual Corrosion conference held by NACE International. (I also presented at the 1982 and 2004 conferences). A decade later I wrote another article for SAE International titled Spot Weld Failure Analysis for Accident Reconstruction. My name also is on U.S. patent 4,832,757, Method for producing normalized grade D sucker rods.

The day before the reunion my wife and I visited Fallingwater, the famous summer home on a waterfall designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He conceived it when he was 68 years old – a reminder that those of us at retirement age still can be creative.   


Friday, October 12, 2018

How many floors does this motel have?

Your first impression would be just two, and wrong. But suppose I told you that this Days Inn is located on Mosside Boulevard in Monroeville, Pennsylvania - ten miles east of Pittsburgh. I was in Pittsburgh last Saturday for my fiftieth high school reunion (which I will discuss in another post).

Western Pennsylvania is quite hilly. When you instead look at the downhill side, you can see there are really are three floors.

Signs in the hall outside the elevator remind you that the lobby is on the second floor. We stayed in Room 333. Two of my friends at the reunion stayed at another motel in Monroeville - where the lobby was on the third floor.


A more extreme example of Pittsburgh architecture is the brutalist, concrete, eight-story Wean Hall at Carnegie Mellon University. The protruding ‘turtle head’ auditorium is Room 7500. At the right is the rear entrance for Doherty Hall, which is on the main quadrangle, and almost at the same level as the sixth floor for Wean Hall. The foundation for Wean Hall is at the bottom of Panther Hollow. Building it in 1971 at this steeply sloped location cost fifty percent more per square foot than if it had been on a level site.   

The image of Wean Hall came from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Advantages and disadvantages of speaking ‘in the round’

At Medium on September 26, 2018 there was an article by Andy Nulman with the confusing title of Don’t Fear the Sphere and a clearer subtitle of How to speak in the round without going around in circles. A typical ‘in the round’ layout is shown above.

I found three other articles about speaking in the round. On October 16, 2015 Victoria Tomlinson of Northern Lights PR described her 9 tips for presentations ‘in the round.’ On February 18, 2016 at LinkedIn Pulse Adrian Kirk discussed Speaking in the Round – how to master the trickiest of public speaking platforms. Kristin Arnold at Powerful Panels also had three articles on Theater-in-the-Round: Speaking and Presenting Effectively. Think carefully about the following ten points before you attempt this difficult layout:

1]  What are the advantages? First, there is a shorter distance between speaker and audience than for a typical room layout, with all the audience on one side. Second, that closeness make the presentation more conversational.   

2]  What are the biggest disadvantages? Half the audience can’t see your face or frontal hand gestures.

3]  Should I try to spin around? No. Unless you are either a gymnast or a skater, you just will get dizzy and fall down, and look foolish.

4]  Should I plan to walk around the stage? Yes, Adrian Kirk has discussed three possible patterns (shown above).

5]  Does this round stage make my butt look big? It sure does. Get over it!

6]  Should I wear a basic black dress or a charcoal suit? Heck no! Don’t dress like a ninja - you just will blend into a dark background.

7]  Will I have a lectern to put notes on? Probably not, but you may have a small round table at the center of the stage.

8]  Will I have prompting or confidence monitors? Maybe - they probably will be at the edges of the stage, as shown above.

9]  Will there be screens for viewing video or PowerPoint? Maybe, either in a square cluster above the stage or up on the four side walls, as is shown above.  

10]  Will the stage revolve slowly, like the restaurants at the Space Needle or Tower of the Americas? Perhaps. Be sure to ask beforehand.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A capitalist cap – because it’s all about the dollars

Today’s F Minus comic by Tony Carrillo featured a green baseball cap similar to the one shown above with the caption:

“It’s called a Bizcap, and my haberdasher assured me it is appropriate for any business meeting.”

Back on June 7, 2011 I blogged about How many hats do you wear?

The image was adapted from one by Jesus Corius at Wikimedia Commons.