Wednesday, May 22, 2019

An actual top 50 blogs list - and another top 20 blogs list with only 16

Back on February 3rd I blogged about Another confused ‘Top 50 List’ of public speaking blogs. I was irked the the Feedspot blog list titled Top 50 Public Speaking Blogs Every Speaker Must Follow instead had 58 blogs. The May 16th update actually is correct and has 50!

But their May 11th list of Top 20 Presentation Blogs, Websites & Newsletters to Follow in 2019 only has 16.

I still detest having people point a finger at me and tell me what I must do. (The image was borrowed from a 1902 theatrical poster at the Library of Congress).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In a 1943 study about twice as many college students feared public speaking as feared having an automobile accident

Thirty years before an endlessly cited 1973 Bruskin survey (that often is quoted to compare fears of public speaking and death) there was a magazine article by Howard Gilkinson in Speech Monographs (volume 10, pages 74 to 83) titled A Questionnaire Study of the Causes of Social Fears Among College Speech Students. There were a total of 432 students in the Fundaments of Speech classes at the University of Minnesota (264 women and 168 men).

In Table II he reported on Intervariable Comparisons: results for two fears – Are afraid of speaking in public and Are afraid of having an automobile accident. As shown above in a bar chart, almost twice as many feared speaking (30.6%) as feared an auto accident (15.5%). He also separated them into fearful and confident speakers based on their response to the 104-item Personal Report on Confidence as a Speaker (PRCS).  

Mr. Gilkinson also asked students how they described themselves and reported percentages for six items. 39.5% described themselves as self-conscious, 19.5% as socially sensitive, 15.7% as observant, 14.1% as thorough, 13.9% as persistent, and just 7.2% as shy. The 7.2% describing themselves as shy is much lower than the 40% reported by Philip G. Zimbardo on page 14 of his 1977 book Shyness – what it is and what to do about it. The six items are shown above in another bar chart.

Mr. Gilkinson reported percentages for eight fear symptoms (reactions) as shown in still another bar chart: 49% for rapid heartbeat, 41% for both tense body and trembling, 25% for sweating, 23% for short breath, 18% for tense throat, and 14% for both dry mouth and tense face.

In Table II he also reported total frequencies for 14 physical fears and 18 social fears. Unfortunately he did not list results for each individual fear. Physical fears were: high places, storms, darkness. Burglars, getting lost, closed places, being poisoned, sharp edges, suffocating, electric shocks, catching contagious diseases, deep water, guns, and taking an anesthetic. Social fears were: committing some sin, dimple, complexion, being small, physical deficiencies, your sex, personal habits, bad effects of heredity, violating religious teachings, speech defects, acts of close relatives, language spoken in your house, clothing you had to wear, nicknames, your name, failures, and being criticized severely. 

An image of an auto accident came from the Library of Congress.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Simply Trumped-Up

I am both amused and appalled to find that our president’s last name shows up in the adjective phrase trumped-up, which Merriam Webster defines as fraudulently concocted; spurious, Cambridge defines as not true; invented and Oxford defines as invented as an excuse or a false accusation.

On April 27, 2019 the Washington Post had an article titled In 828 days, President Trump has made 10,111 false or misleading claims. Politifact keeps a scorecard on his statements, and listed the amazing percentages shown above. They found 70% were Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire. Only 16% were Mostly True or True. The remaining 14% were Half True.

The Trump caricature came from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

An extremely entertaining flipchart presentation

On February 21, 2019 I blogged about how Flipcharts can be funny. I just found another brief YouTube video by comedian Bec Hill titled What this girl does with a flipchart will SHOCK YOU!

The music is a song whose lyrics she demolishes in another YouTube video titled Bec Hill translates “Non Je Regrtette Rien” (Edith Piaf).

Friday, May 17, 2019

Telling a gigantic story: the B Reactor tour in Hanford, Washington

The Manhattan Project created three nuclear bombs, which lend to the end of World War II. The Fat Man plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki had a yield of 21 kilotons, or 21,000 tons of TNT. It weighed 5 tons, so it was ~4200 times more powerful than a conventional bomb.  

Plutonium for two bombs was created in a nuclear reactor – the B Reactor at the gigantic Hanford Engineer Works on the south bank of the Columbia River in Washington.

On May 8, 2019 I took a tour of the B Reactor National Historical Landmark. B Reactor at Hanford was the first nuclear reactor able to operate continuously. (Its two brothers the D and F reactors came a bit later). The tour took four hours, and mine started at 9:00 AM. It began at a visitor center in Richland, Washington. We took a bus trip (an hour each way) out to the reactor site.

On the wall of the corridor there are a pair of blue wall posters that succinctly explain the B reactor and Hanford. Starting in March 1943 95,000 people worked on the site. Construction of B reactor began in June 1943. It started operating at the end of September 1944, and by summer of 1945 it had produced plutonium for two bombs.

At the site you can look at the front face of the reactor and the inlet ends of the fuel tubes. The core is a 36’ high by 36’ wide stack of graphite blocks 28’ deep. A couple thousand aluminum tubes go through it and hold the natural uranium fuel.

The tubes also carried 30,000 gallons per minute of cooling water to remove heat from the fission reaction – 250 million watts. As shown above in a closeup, a maze of piping and valves distributes water to all the tubes.  

The room where you look at the front face of the reactor also has a scale model of the adjacent part of the site. On the overall view I put a red circle around the B reactor. Other buildings for processing the water for cooling dwarf the actual reactor building (#105). There were three systems for providing cooling water. The primary normal one used electric pumps. A backup used steam powered pumps. A third emergency gravity fed system used a pair of large water tanks.

The room also has a another model showing how the graphite blocks were stacked to make the core.

There also is a poster explaining the fission reactions which almost magically create plutonium from natural uranium.

In the control room there’s a console with a chair for the operator. To the right of it is a whole wall full of running time meters that keep track of how long the fuel loaded in each tube was in the reactor.

What Hanford was doing was top secret, and you could get into big trouble by talking about it. Near the control room is a room with a safe which curiously has a roll of toilet paper sitting inside. The woman tour leader told us a story about that. One day a schoolboy told his class that he had figured out what they were making at the site. He’d seen his dad smuggle a roll home, so it just was toilet paper!     

The tour leader told us that the most popular part was a poster showing dining halls on the Hanford site. Along with it there was a list titled A Lot of Workers, A Lot of Food. Everyone could appreciate what was involved in feeding that mass of workers. She said the 30,000 donuts a day were an incentive plan to get people to show up early or on-time for breakfast and then work. If you weren’t early you wouldn’t get one.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

We all make lots of spelling misteaks

We all make lots of spelling mistakes when writing, but usually catch almost all of them. It is particularly embarrassing to leave typos in slide or presentation titles when using PowerPoint or Keynote.

My most typical typo is to capitalize the first two letters in a new sentence, like THe. Some typos will still be words - but other than what was intended, and will not be caught by the spelling checker in our word processing software.

On May 9, 2019 there was a BBC News article titled When spelling goes wrong: famous typos from Trump to NASA. It recounted how the Reserve Bank of Australia misspelled ‘responsibility’ as ‘responsibilty’ on 46 million of their new yellow fifty-dollar banknotes.

I got curious and Googled responsibilty. There were web articles titled both What Is Social Responsibilty for an Organization? and Shoveling: Who’s Responsibilty? Blogging software like Google Blogger (which I use) and WordPress have the post title entered separately. When you are in a hurry, it is easy to add the title just before you post. I long ago learned to write both the title and text in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages so the title also went through a spelling check.

The image of two steaks came from Jon Sullivan at Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A very recent quote about self-confidence and overcoming fear

On page 56 of the May 11, 2019 issue of New Scientist magazine there was an interview with Tanya Harrison. She is a planetary geologist and director of the NewSpace Initiative for Arizona State University. When asked what the best advice anyone ever gave her, she replied:

“A friend once said: ‘Remember, you know more about the specific thing that you are talking about than anyone else in the room. Be confident in that.’ That really helped me get over my fear of public speaking.”

The cartoon image of a confident female speaker was adapted from one at Wikimedia Commons.