Monday, August 10, 2020

A phishing email from 'PayPaI'

Look very carefully at the fraudulent email I got this morning. In the title they misspelled the name PayPaI rather than PayPal. That final upper-case I instead of a lower-case L gave away that it was phony. The misspelled name is pronounced PayPie. And, I’m not going to give them even a little piece of my Pie!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

What does a ‘thin lines’ flag mean?

A couple blocks from my home I saw the two flags shown above flying, but was not familiar with the dark gray version of the American flag with its green, orange, and blue lines.

It turned out to be an expanded version of the ‘thin blue line’ flag shown above, where blue represents Police and other law enforcement – providing a line between order and chaos.
When I looked it up, I found the meaning shown above, adding colors both for the Military and Search & Rescue.    

But why stop there? Others will indignantly retort that Firefighters (Red) also belong on any flag. Why isn’t there a brown line to represent the Water and Sewer Workers, who bring the water we need to drink (and make the earth bloom) and take away the sewage?  

The Thin Blue Line flag came from Wikimedia Commons.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Today’s Pearls Before Swine cartoon can be explained via a bar chart

Most of today’s Pearls Before Swine cartoon about Pig’s worries is described in the PowerPoint bar chart shown above.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

When doing research, your attention span should be more than 10 seconds

Back on January 21, 2017 I blogged about Is the attention span of a marketer shorter than that of a fruit fly? Recently I decided to take another look to see if people were still spouting some nonsense statistics about human attention spans. Unfortunately they were.

Not reading a report carefully

At Jim Donovan Health Solutions on July 29, 2020 there was an article titled What goldfish do better than humans. He linked to a 2015 Microsoft report which you also can find here, and then discusses the research in it. As shown above, on page 6 it has a graphic with three statistics on attention span which DID NOT actually come from there.

Instead they came from a web page cooked up by some jerks at the so-called Statistic Brain Research Institute. There are three versions of that Statistic Brain web page, as shown above (currently hidden behind a paywall) which I instead retrieved from the Wayback Machine. The earliest lists The Associated Press as a source, implying it was in a newspaper article sometime somewhere. The next version adds the authoritative-sounding National Center for Biotechnology Information, U. S. National Library of Medicine. A third updates from 8 to 8.25 seconds.

Did those statistics come from any of their indicated sources? No! Two skeptical researchers checked and both came up empty.  Jo Craven McGinty had an article at the Wall Street Journal on February 17, 2017 titled Is your attention span shorter than a goldfish’s? Simon Maybin at BBC News on March 10, 2017 had another article titled Busting the attention span myth. You can find them both here.

By the way, if you look carefully at the Statistic Brain web pages they just refer to a gold fish. That Microsoft report changed it to one word. As two words it could just refer to the color for a fish (not the species) as shown above based on the 1960 Dr. Seuss children’s book title One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

I read it in a TIME magazine article, so it should be true

Some recent articles are lazy and don’t even go back to that Microsoft report. Instead they just link to a TIME magazine article on May 14, 2015 by Kevin McSpadden titled You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. One example is an article by John Stevens at Bitcha on July 29, 2020 titled 7 Research-proven tips for boosting credibility on your website. Another example is an article by Melody Wilding at Forbes on July 27, 2020 titled How to be a confident concise communicator (even when you have to speak off the cuff).

I read it in a TOASTMASTER magazine article, so it must be true

Even sillier is an article by Peggy Beach on pages 22 to 25 in the July 2020 issue of Toastmaster magazine titled Are You Listening? She says vaguely that:

“….Our society is so fast-paced that according to a Microsoft study, the average attention span of people has declined from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since the year 2000.”

Why is that silly? A typical speech at a Toastmasters club is 5 to 7 minutes long. The five minute minimum is twenty-five times the quoted 12 second attention span. If people really just had a 12 second span, then they would fall asleep long before a speech was done. There could not be any Toastmasters clubs, but there are more than 16,800 of them!

Our attention span really is about twenty minutes. Many people enjoy watching 18-minute long TED Talks as YouTube videos.

I read it in a book title, so it really must be true

There is a 2017 book by Paul Hellman titled You’ve Got 8 Seconds: communication secrets for a distracted world. Presumably Paul was distracted when he came up with a title based on a bogus statistic. The Notes for his Introduction just refer to the Microsoft report and the TIME article.

Based on this, you now should do that

Heck no! We are free to ignore advice based on those bogus statistics. An article by Dr. Heather McKee at ThriveGlobal on July 9, 2020 is titled The impact our phones have on our attention and health and what to do about it. Another article there by Joyce Shulman on July 20, 2020 is titled How to be better than a goldfish tells us seven things to do to retrain our brains.

Images of a stopwatch, a toaster and a trout came from Wikimedia Commons. The phony TIME cover came from NBC News.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Table Topics questions about names for sports teams

Table Topics is the impromptu speaking section of a Toastmasters club meeting. It is where members give a one to two minute answer to a question. A good topic category can generate a series of questions. On November 23, 2019 I posted on Table Topics questions about college team names or mascots. But much more can be said.

What are the most upsetting names for sports teams?

If you are a native American, either Braves or Redskins is offensive. Boise High School used to be the Braves, with the logo shown above. An article at KTVB7 on August 12, 2019 described how School board unanimously approves Boise High mascot change. Another article by Sydney Kidd in the Boise Weekly on July 29, 2020 discussed The voices of history’s unheard: Here’s what’s behind the recent removal of many indigenous-themed Idaho high school mascots.

Native Americans might say that a more suitable high school team name in a city like Boise would be the Lying White Devils. You can’t object to White Devils, since it is the name for an Army unit in the 504th Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Their First Battalion is the Red Devils, the second is the White Devils, and the third was the Blue Devils.

What other names could be revenge?

The professional football team in Washington, D.C. used to be the Redskins. Right now they just are the generic Washington Football Team

Native Americans might say the Washington team deserve to be called the Treaty Breakers. 

Most people distrust politicians. Others might prefer the Politicians (lying is implied) or the Windbags.   

What are the least fierce names for professional sports teams?

Those which name their hosiery color – like the Chicago White Sox or the Boston Red Sox. The Cincinnati Reds once were the Red Stockings, and later the Redlegs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers moved there from Brooklyn (New York City). A Wikipedia page on the History of the Brooklyn Dodgers mentions they once were the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and also the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers.

A devil and the politician (Richard Nixon) were adapted from cartoons at Wikimedia Commons. The treaty breaker and windbag were adapted from Puck cartoons at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Learning about designing PowerPoint slides (and other visual aids) by looking at islands in front lawns

Front lawns in subdivisions typically come with just a pair of cheap shrubs put in by the developer. Creative landscape designers instead put in an island or two to add interest. As shown above, on one lot at a corner there is an island with a tall shrub and several shorter plants. Another corner lot has an island with a tall shrub, a pot with flowers, and a couple of deer sculptures. A good PowerPoint slide or other visual aid also uses just a few elements to make a main point (or two). 

What should you avoid? Look at these two overstuffed islands on the same front lawn. There are enough concrete statues (six visible per island) for a catalog from Lawn Ornaments Are Us! Both have garden gnomes – one holding a lantern, and the other on a swing hanging from a tree limb.  

Saturday, August 1, 2020

A cartoon about public speaking may have a different title than you expected, and be part of a larger scene

On January 9, 2019 I had blogged about how there were Free cartoon images of public speakers at Wikimedia Commons. The example shown above using nine would be useful for marketing  Toastmasters. Then on January 10, 2019 I had blogged about Free cartoon images of people presenting graphics at Wikimedia Commons

There are even more useful cartoons at Wikimedia Commons, as are shown above via four examples put into a PowerPoint slide, but you need to ‘think outside the box’ to find them.

The woman at the left holding notes was cropped from the cartoon shown above, which is titled A Cartoon Business Woman Filming A Corporate Video. The second one is a Happy Cartoon Woman Filming A Marketing Ad By Herself. The third one is a Cartoon Female Reporter Being Filmed by A Cameraman. The fourth one is a Cartoon Woman Asking for Another Take While Filming.  

Another four examples of men are shown above in a PowerPoint slide. The first man at the left was cropped, flipped horizontally, and recolored from a cartoon titled Cartoon Man Filming A Business Client For A Marketing Video. The second man is from another titled Cartoon Man Being Filmed For A Corporate Marketing Video. The third man is from yet another titled Happy Cartoon Man Being Filmed For A Marketing Video. The fourth is from still another titled A Charming Cartoon Man Filming A Business Client For A Marketing Video.

Those less than obvious titles remined me of a story that famous physicist Richard P. Feynman told about being a graduate student at Princeton. It is titled A Map of the Cat? and appeared in the 1985 book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!:

“….This and that muscle were named but I hadn’t the foggiest idea of where they were located in relation to the nerves or to the cat. So I went to the librarian in the biology section and asked her if she could find me a map of the cat.   

‘A map of the cat, sir?’ she asked horrified. ‘You mean a zoological chart!’ From then on there were rumors about some dumb biology graduate student who was looking for ‘a map of the cat.’ “