Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Extreme measures: throwing hecklers out

Standup comedians deal with some of the same audience difficulties as public speakers. One difference is that comedians can be saddled with evening audiences containing inebriated hecklers.


On July 29, 2019 there was an article by Michael Deeds in the Idaho Statesman titled After 9 hecklers get tossed from Boise show, comedian posts video: 260,000 views so far. That 11-minute YouTube video (shown above) was posted on June 24, 2019 by Steve Hofstetter. The comedian preceding him was heckled, so he began by reading the Riot Act:

“I’m going to start this show in a way I’ve never had to start a show before, which is to thank the people who came to see a show and who have been attentive thus far. I appreciate – some of you guys have been really wonderful. Some of you guys I think stumbled in from the prom next door. I don’t know what the f*ck is happening. But some of you all have been acting like you’ve never seen alcohol before, and you took one sip and lost your f*cking mind.

This is live entertainment. We can see you all, we can hear you all. You are ruining it for other people. Normally when you talk at a show, there is a warning, and then if you violate that warning, you get kicked out. Everybody here now has that warning. We’re going to warn all of you at the same f*cking time. It happens again, one time, you’re f*cking gone ‘cause I want to do the best show I possibly can for the folks who actually give a sh#t. So that’s what I’m gonna do tonight. Okay? And for those that ruin this, I wish you luck on your long drive back to Eagle.”

Those in the audience who chose to mess with Steve clearly were unaware of his Wikipedia page which notes:

“Hofstetter's had a career as a comedian in Los Angeles, and also owned comedy clubs in Louisville and Indianapolis. He gained a reputation by responding to hecklers and posting those on YouTube, which garnered so many views that Fox Television offered him a series called Laughs, a half-hour showcase for standup comedians, which debuted in August 2014.”

You can watch another seven-minute Steve Hofstetter video from January 28, 2017 titled Dirtbag hecklers go too far.

Throwing people out a window is a specific kind of ejection called defenestration, as illustrated in part of a Puck cartoon from 1893 I found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Visiting the Center of the Universe

On July 18, 2016 I had blogged about how Everyone thinks they are the Center of the Universe. That post mentioned that a manhole cover in downtown Wallace, Idaho had been designated by their mayor as the Center of the Universe. Early on the morning of July 17, 2019 I arrived in Wallace and visited the intersection with that manhole, as shown above.

The manhole is a running gag downtown. For example, there is a sign at the front of the Oasis Bordello Museum indicating they are located just 189 steps from the manhole.

The most impressive building downtown is the Northern Pacific railway depot. A sign next to it explains how Harry F. Magnuson saved the downtown and depot from plans to destroy them by running Interstate 90 there.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A carless quotation

Using a quotation can be a powerful way to open a blog post or a speech. But not if you fail (receive an F) by getting both the spelling and wording wrong. On  July 6, 2019 Jane Genova opened a blog post titled “God Bless the Child That’s Got His Own…” The Alleged Curse of Privilege as follows:

“ ‘They are carless people.’ That’s how a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book ‘The Great Gatsby’ sized up the privileged. The book was fiction – a novel.”  

Of course she meant to say careless rather than carless. But the wording also is wrong. The phrase ‘careless people’ only appeared twice in that novel. First Jordan Baker says: “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.” Second is probably what she meant: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….”

There are better quotes about privilege. In his 2013 novel, Transatlantic, Colum McCann said:
“They inherited it all. The curse of privilege. Janitors for the ambitions of the dead.”  

If you are carless, then you have to hitchhike, as shown above. The Australian road sign came from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Research for a blog post should go much deeper than a puddle from a rainstorm

At the Ethos3 blog on July 24, 2019 there was a post by Amy Boone titled Summoning the courage to speak. Her second paragraph says:

"We talk a lot about fear of public speaking at Ethos3 because, well, lots of people are afraid of it. It is nearly always in the top 5 on any given list of fears. Citing research from Chapman University, The Washington Post has even published it at the top of the list in recent years with over 25% of people surveyed saying they are afraid of public speaking."

Chapman University’s Surveys of American Fears really are about the worst things she could have referenced. It is only their 2014 survey which lists public speaking in the top five. That Washington Post article has a high ranking on Google, and will show up in any superficial search. But, as I blogged about in an October 27, 2014 post titled What do the most Americans fear? The Chapman Survey on American Fears and the press release copying reflex that survey had questions asked two different ways, so you could not compare all the fears in the survey. The day before the Washington Post article I blogged about just the Chapman Survey results for the 12 Phobias in another post titled Chapman Survey on American Fears includes both zombies and ghosts.

Another four more recent Chapman Surveys, where all the questions were asked in the same way, belie her top five claim. In 2015 public speaking was ranked #26 out of 88 fears, in 2016 it was ranked #33 out of 79 fears, in 2017 it was ranked #52 out of 80 fears, and in 2018 it was ranked #59 of 94 fears. On January 5, 2019 I discussed the 2017 and 2018 surveys in a post titled How shallow research will destroy your credibility. On October 14, 2016 I blogged about how In the 2016 Chapman Survey of American Fears public speaking was ranked 33rd out of 79 fears.

Carol M. Highsmith’s image of a horse drinking from a rainstorm puddle came from the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A litany against fear – from a cartoon about having to eat broccoli

Way back on July 5, 2011, in a blog post titled Three types of questioners, I briefly mentioned the helpful Litany Against Fear, but said it was a story for another day. Well, today is that day. The Litany is:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone pat I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

It originally had appeared in Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune. I was reminded of it when I saw it recited in a Sheldon cartoon by Dave Kellett on April 2, 2019. Last year the Litany was discussed at Medium by Stella Donna in an article titled Fear is the Mind-Killer: A Sci-Fi Novel Teaches Us How to Conquer Fear. It also was quoted by Kevin Abdulrahman (in Chapter 6: Fear and You) of his 2015 book 60 Minutes to Better Public Speaking.

On August 17, 2018 Dave Kellett had another cartoon titled Anatomy of Frank Herbert. He mentioned that Dune had been rejected by twenty editors before finally being published by a company that produced car repair books (Chilton). An article at a Barnes and Noble blog on November 2, 2016 titled 10 things you might not know about Frank Herbert’s Dune mentioned that Sterling Lanier, the editor at Chilton who published it, was fired due to poor sales of the book. Dune was followed by a series of sequels. The boxed set might be jokingly subtitled Raising Sandworms for Fun and Profit.   

The painting of fear by Jean Baptiste Greuze came from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Is nosology the medical study of noses?

No, although it sounds like it might be. Instead it is defined as a branch of medical science that deals with classification of diseases. (The Greek word for disease is nosos). Poet Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) once lamented:

“Not bring, to see me cease to live,

Some doctor, full of phrase and fame,

To shake his sapient head and give

The ill he cannot cure a name.”

Painted images of noses for Napoleon and George Washington came from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 15, 2019

PETA wants Chicken Dinner Road changed to just Chicken Road – but they asked the wrong official

On July 3, 2019 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a press release titled PETA Asks Mayor to Change ‘Chicken Dinner Road’ Name. They asked the mayor of Caldwell, Idaho. But that road is outside of Caldwell, which is the seat for Canyon County. If you look on Google Maps west of Lake Lowell, you will find that Chicken Dinner Road runs north from Deer Flat Road up to Upper Ridge Road. PETA got newspaper coverage in the Idaho Statesman, but locals probably thought they were clueless.   

PETA’s objection was based on the story for the name involving folks inviting officials to drive down a road in need of maintenance before eating that chicken dinner. But the name equally well could refer to the joke shown above – What does a chicken eat for dinner?

I think that PETA should have been far more upset by the other name of Deer Flat Road. How do you make a deer flat? Run him over with a steamroller!

Back on July 25, 2017 I blogged about Answering questions about geographical names – the joy of impromptu speaking (Table Topics), and mentioned Chicken Dinner Road.

An image of a vintage steamroller came from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A little research finds a remedy is questionable

Many people have some skin tags, like the one shown above on my neck. Wikipedia says that a skin tag (or archrodon) is a small benign tumor found where areas of skin rub together (or form creases) like the neck, armpit, or groin.

Over at Walmart I saw a package of ProVent skin tag remover. The label said the active ingredient was Thuja Occidentalis – an essential oil present at a homeopathic concentration of 6X. You are supposed to put a few drops of the liquid on the tag every day, and after a few weeks it will be gone. But before I bought it I decided to look up reviews at Amazon (and also Walmart) to see if others found it was effective.

First for comparison I looked up a serious pain relief product -  the Salonpas Lidocaine Pain Relieving Maximum Strength Gel Patch. As shown above, 69% gave it a 5 stars and only 9 % gave it 1 star.

For ProVent the Amazon reviews were relatively poor. As shown above, just 27% gave it 5 stars, but 53% gave it 1 star. At Walmart reviews were even worse – 29% gave it 5 stars but 62% gave it 1 star.

Looking around on Google, I found a dismissive article by Harriet Hall, M.D. on June 18, 2013 at Science Based Medicine about a similar product (with the same active ingredient and concentration) called Tag Away that had been advertised on television.

As shown above, reviews of Tag Away at Amazon were even worse than for ProVent – 19% gave it 5 stars but 56% gave it 1 star.  Back on January 6, 2016 I blogged about how According to Consumer Reports, homeopathy is an emperor with no clothes.

What really works for removing skin tags? The Wikipedia article mentions ligation – tying a string around it to cut off blood flow. Wikipedia also mentions cryosurgery (freezing). At PubMed Central I found an article in  Jay E. Taylor on pages 998 and 999 of Canadian Family Physician for December 2016, titled Just a pinch - Technique for skin tag removal in sensitive areas.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chekhov’s Gun - speechwriting advice from a cartoon

Since July 23, 2018 Dave Kellett has been publishing Sheldon cartoons about famous writers in a series titled Anatomy of… On July 8, 2019 there was one titled Anatomy of Anton Chekhov (with lots of text in red) which taught me:
“ ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ is a dramatic principle that says every element of a play must be necessary; and irrelevant pieces must be removed. So if you have a gun onstage, the implicit dramatic promise is ‘that gun is gonna be used at some point.’ “

Both Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and the Yale Book of Quotations state it as:
“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.”

At the TV Tropes web site the main page on Chekhov’s Gun lists a series of variations titled Chekhov’s Gun Depot which include:
“Chekhov’s Gunman: When a character seems to be there for no reason, they must be important.”

“Chekhov’s Volcano: If it wasn’t going to erupt, it would have just been a mountain.”

“The Legend of Chekhov: If someone tells a fairy tale or legend, it’ll turn out to be true.”

The July 8 Sheldon cartoon was playfully preceded by one on July 5 titled Anatomy of Chekhov, but it instead was about Ensign Pavel Andreieivich Chekov – a character from the original Star Trek television series.

Obviously not everything in these cartoons is true. For example, the August 8, 2018 cartoon about J. R. R. Tolkien says his initials stand for Jebediah Ricky Roscoe although they really stand for John Ronald Reuel. And the August 22, 2018 cartoon about Carolyn Keene (collective pen name for authors of the Nancy Drew mysteries) claimed that:
“Nancy carries like seven flashlights on her at all times, in case you need her to pose for a book cover…. (She will flat-out refuse to solve a mystery if it doesn’t feature a flashlight).”

The image of Calamity Jane holding a rifle came from the Library of Congress.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Club officers in Toastmasters International (VPPR and VPM) should use all the brains they can borrow

They can learn from articles published in the Toastmaster magazine. Also they can learn from what other Districts have been doing – via the Golden Knowledge Base. For the Division A Toastmasters Leadership Institute on June 29, 2019 I prepared a handout about Toastmaster magazine articles and Districts for the training sessions on both Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) and Vice President of Membership (VPM).

Toastmaster magazine has a web archive of issues from 2012 to 2019 (and a separate Gallery for even older ones). For each issue there are links to individual articles in the web version (back to June 2016), and for a .pdf file of that issue. Here are dates, page numbers, titles, and links for some relevant articles.

Articles about Membership and Marketing
2019 05 P14 Build the club you want Link
2018 03 P16 Membership Retention: is your bucket leaking? Link
2017 07 P16 Stir Up Excitement with an Open House or Demo Meeting Link
2017 04 P17 How to resuscitate a struggling club Link
2016 10 P20 A roadmap for club growth Link
2015 09 P2 What do prospective club members want to know?
2015 08 P12 A ‘top notch turnaround
2012 01 P20 Building club membership

Articles about Public Relations
2019 04 P16 In public relations, persistence pays Link
2019 01 P7 Quick Tips: create a quality video Link
2018 11 P7 Did you know? Get the word out with good pr Link
2018 02 16 Spread the word: grow your club Link
2017 04 P14 When bad things happen to good clubs Link
2015 08 P14 Social media tips for your club
2015 08 P16 The power behind proper branding
2015 08 Putting the ‘PR’ in professional
2013 10 P12 Getting the message out
2011 01 P28 Stand out with video

Lark Doley is the 2018-29 president of Toastmasters International. She has a personal web site
containing the Golden Knowledge Base described as follows:
“Toastmasters Districts around the world have some AMAZING documents on their websites that can be used as resources to start, build, and strengthen clubs and their members. The Knowledge Base pages on this website have collected hundreds of these documents in one place sorted by category for you to use.”

The Base has pages there about Club Building, Club Coach, Club Meetings, Club Officers, Conference, District Officers, Education, Fliers, Membership Building, Membership Retention, Mentoring, Public Relations, Speech Contests, and Youth Programs.

I found a few mistakes there so far. In her page on Membership Building there is a line titled D28_Hundreds of Membership Building Ideas_ with an incorrect link instead to a pptx file on Executive Leadership Panels. I looked around and found the correct link to a wonderful eight-page .pdf file with 236 ideas. In her page on Fliers there are links to D49_purple-pill dot doc and D72_Pill vsn 1_Dale Hartle. But pills are forbidden - page 44 of the Toastmasters Brand Manual says:
“Images that should never be used alongside the Toastmasters brand:

Animals, landscape, children, food and appliances (this includes toast and toasters), MEDICINE (my capitalization), cartoons, architecture, other images or designs.”

I blogged about the Woodrow Wilson quotation back in June 2017. The image of a brain was adapted from one by TilmannR at Wikimedia Commons.  

Friday, July 5, 2019

The first time you use an acronym you need to define it

At the LinkedIn Official Toastmasters Members Group I recently found a post with a link to an article on June 19, 2019 at the website for the Operational Excellence Society titled Five leadership styles behind the success of giant MNCs. But the authors never bothered to define what that Three Letter Acronym (TLA) meant. If you didn’t know, then you would have to look it up. In biz jargon it is an acronym for a Multi-National Corporation. What else could MNC mean? Here are ten more possibilities:

Macadamia Nut Cookie

Major Non-Conformity

Masonry Non-Combustible

Maternal and Neonatal Care

Media Nusantara Citra

Missouri Nursing Coalition

Mobile Network Code

Modified Numerical Control

Mother Nature Calls

Mythical National Championship

MNC as an acronym for Multi-National Corporation is not what you might expect - Initial Letters of Three Words (ILTW). Instead it is made from Initial Letters of Two Words and a Hyphenated Prefix (ILTWHP), as are MNC for both Major Non-Conformity and Masonry Non-Combustible.

By the way, Macadamia Nut Cookie was a code name once used by Google for a version of the Android operating system on mobile phones. Media Nusantara Citra is an Indonesian Media company. ILTW might also mean that I Like To Watch.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

An unusual pushbutton failure on computer tape drives

On June 25, 2019 there was a Shark Tank article on the Computerworld web site titled Ready, set, go. It described how the operations manager of a computer center figured out why pushbuttons on their mainframe computers were repeatedly breaking during the night shift. The story took place back in the early 1980s and it involved large IBM 3420 tape drives used for data storage. Those tape drives were used for offline data storage, and the computer operator was told to mount a tape before running a batch job. After the tape was mounted, he or she was supposed to push the square READY button located on a control panel over five feet above the floor, as is shown above.  

The operations manager sneaked into the basement computer room and was horrified by what he saw. Instead of using a finger to press the READY button the rambunctious young operators were grabbing an overhead horizontal pipe, like an Olympian on the uneven bars, and doing a high kick. He applied a generous layer of soap to lubricate that pipe and discourage those late-night gymnastics.   

Images of a tape drive and an Olympian came from Wikimedia Commons.