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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Schooling younger salespeople

I am amazed sometimes at the approach people take when they want to offer me a deal.  They think I'm really stupid,  I had one such conversation last night.  A publisher called and wanted to market my books for me.  The sales person launched into a line of questioning about my book to "hook" me into talking with her.  She asked me questions like how I had come up with the idea and how long it took to write.  As if she was interested.  Somebody who's really been around the block doesn't fall for those tricks, but she was young and wanted to treat me like I was 20 and dumb.

When she told me of all her marketing strategies, she wanted me to jump at the chance to join with her company, no questions asked, and marvel at the prowess of the her company which would put all other companies to shame.  When I balked, I could tell she had been given a plan B for people like me who balk.

She reloaded and reiterated all the marketing tools available to her company and began casting dispersions on the publishing company I was using.  Finally she got around to mentioning the price of all the marvels of her company's marketing ability.  I, of course, thought the price was much too high.  What I told her, though, was that I wanted a different deal than her company's standard package.  I wanted equal participation.  I had already done my work.  They needed to show me theirs, then we would profit together.

She couldn't deal with this off-the-track counter-move to her offer.  So, she reiterated all the marvels of her company, then offered the same deal she had originally offered.  I said no, and then reiterated my counter-offer.  She had to get her supervisor.  He was older and understood exactly what I was doing, so he promptly got off the phone in a less than gracious fashion.

They weren't exactly scammers.  They were selling for a legitimate company.  But, it's amazing that people think they can gain a profit by cold-calling complete strangers and getting them to fork over several thousand dollars.  Who really does that?!  Young people have to learn that hard lesson I guess.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

About slaves and breaking chains

I had a recent discussion with a young adult from Russia about the idea of grading in education these days.  She described her experience in Russia.  Then we compared to the system used in the United States.  It was the same in both countries.  Then we talked about what we thought the results of such a system have yielded.  She had studied psychology and is currently taking courses for her masters degree in psychology, so she understood well the ramifications of giving everyone an "average" of all the grades they make.  She agreed it has led to mediocrity.

So we talked of various other methods for grading and tried to predict the ramifications for them as well.  One of the more interesting methods was taking the grades a person made and plotting them on a chart of standard deviations.  The first grade over the first standard deviation or the highest grade before the first deviation would be the grade the student should receive.  This in turn would teach the lesson of incentive and trying to do well for yourself.  That translates to the idea used by business in giving people bonuses and promotions based on merit.  This also eliminates the idea that if one can do well, then it is recognized rather than pulled down by the law of averages.

We spoke of conditioning.  Those who knew about receiving the highest grade if it appeared over the first standard deviation or right below it, would probably try harder to make sure that the deviated grade would  be higher than the time before. Of course, there would be those that never completely understood how the standard deviation works, so they would plug along without realizing the pull that low grades have on a complete distribution of grades.

At that point the discussion moved to Jean Piaget and the idea that people go through cognitive stages.  It seems that some people make the middle adolescent concrete stage a stopping point instead of a way station along the developmental journey.  Those people understand the idea of money buying goods and services and make decisions to stay right at that level.  Others understand delayed gratification and are willing to put off goals and achievements until they have put themselves in a better position to live a long, productive life, the abstract and advertent stages of life.

We mused about what might cause one to stop at a concrete stage and what might drive one to continue through to the later stages.  We ventured into the territory of making a correlation between a grading system that produced an "average" and a system that rewarded more determination and understanding.

We went on to another topic soon after that.  But, I have reflected on that conversation since then.  What if the "average" method of grading really did have a strong an effect on people as we ventured that day?  What if people are so conditioned to mediocrity that the law of percentages of any other psychological damaging cycle applied here?  You know, like the percentage of children whose parents go to prison also go to prison.  Or the percentage of alcoholic children who also become alcoholics?  Chains are hard to break.

I certainly lean that way.  The grading chain would be hard to break.  I can see its enslaving effects. And, it would take as much an effort for people to free themselves from it as from any other strong, suffocating, conditioned influence they had experienced.  How freeing would it be to offer a better way to the generation coming up.  We should do that ASAP!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I read a short story over the last two days about buried memories (Beyond What Words Can Capture).  The longer I live, of course, statistically the more memories there are that get buried.  The story was about memories that get buried because they were so painful, and the point of the story was to talk about them so that katharsis would take place.

I know about painful memories.  I have more than a few.  They come from every area of life - education, religion, parenting, death, companionship, family, and human relations in general.  These are not mere disappointments, they caused great disruption and emotional upheaval.  If I think of them all at one time, I feel like a complete failure.

Fortunately, the events took place over a number of years, in different decades of my life.  I am not here to say that these events were handled properly or even that my reactions were noble.  I am only here to say that I acknowledge that great pain happens in life, and in order to go on, burying all or portions of a memory of an event helps in allowing good to replace the great failures.

One of the themes of the story was to show that finding a friend to help in bringing meaning to unfortunate events is so necessary in moving forward.  I look back at my intense traumas and see that that was true for me.  Without friends in just the right places at just the right moments, the outcome and direction of my life could have been different.

We all need nudges to move on.  We all need to enjoy our lives.  In one way of looking at life, we all need to bury portions of our difficult and intense disturbances.  Then we can release a modified version of ourselves to enjoy new life, that is, life from the point of recovery of such an event.  These days, that's what I am all about.  Life changes from drudgery to enjoyment when I practice that principle.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Working on it

Perhaps I don't understand human dynamics as I should.  I have to deal with young adults all the time - you know, the group called the Millennials.  I hear all the time that they feel like they are an entitled group.  I guess I don't understand that word well enough because I don't really see the characteristic, as I understand it, applying to the group as a whole.  I have read the occasional article about this group, so I have seen some of their expectations and likes and dislikes that writers think they have.  What I see and what I read sometimes match, but mostly not.

Their is one characteristic that seems to apply to more than 50% of the ones I know, though.  Many of the ones in this group resist wanting to become adults in the area of responsibility and fallout from irresponsibility.  I call it the Peter Pan effect.  They want to live, it seems, in Never Never Land where every episode of life ends nicely and has tidy effects regardless of how bad the behavior is in the episode.

Eventually, they learn there is no Tinkerbell, no Peter Pan, no Captain Hook, and no pixie dust.  But is seems that the passage from age 18 to around 32 is a hard knocks university for them.  They have to learn that the raw, overly used expletives in their speech have ramifications.  People don't accept what they say as having moral value or social value.  Their use of many expletives marks their generation's speech, but it doesn't leave people feeling good after they have finished speaking.  

They have to learn that virtual friends are mostly friends that have images, but no real substance to their character.  The images are all about the "selfie" taken for a profile picture, not about learning from each other how to live together.  So they live separately behind good profiles that don't match the real person behind the profile.  Encounters with the real people behind the profile leave them feeling very dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

They also have to learn that people who make plans but don't keep them create the domino effect, a new concept to them apparently.  Not keeping appointments as they have said they would really does alienate acquaintances and friends.  The have to learn that appreciation of friendship is a designation to be earned, not assigned to them automatically.

Somewhere around age 32, it seems that some type of awareness finally creeps in that the world really does have episodes that don't end nicely and tidily and that bad behavior really does have a negative cumulative effect on their surroundings.  As to why it takes about a decade and a half for them to gain that awareness is the particular human dynamic I don't understand.  But, I'm working on that.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

It really has happened already

I saw a Facebook picture of a long-standing colleague of mine in a bookstore.  The picture was an ad for Half-Price Books.  I thought it was really unusual for this friend to be in such an ad.  She and I were going to co-write a book at one time back in the year 2000 about the coming decade's effect on reading and writing.  We both thought that all the new technology would have a ravaging effect on reading and writing.  Unfortunately, her life led her in a different direction from our task in writing that book.  But, she has since received her doctorate in education and is currently a principal in a high school in the North Texas area.  Conversations with her between the year 2000 and now have shown me that she hasn't changed her mind from the days when we were mapping out chapters to write of the coming demise of reading and writing.

So, I thought it strange to be perusing through my Facebook images and see my friend's picture advertising a book store.  I just wrote one word in my comment on her picture.  Books? 

Her answer confirmed what we all know to be true 17 years past that millennial year of planning.  Really, Barnes and Noble developed the Kindle just to stay in the game.  But they, like all the others, know what the end game is for reading.  If you walk into a modern Barnes and Noble, you will see the number of aisles dedicated to books have dwindled.  So, that is why my friend's response to my comment was something that made me reply with You know I'm going to have to write a blog about this. LOL. 

She really had not changed her stance on reading and writing.  Half-Price Books needed all the advertising help they could get, even having a good doctor of education pose beside its name in exchange for a discount on a couple of old LPs she was purchasing - music, not even books.  I'm still laughing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Let's celebrate - no, not really

Well, well, well.  The result that everyone wanted has been 100 years in the making, but it is finally coming to fruition.

High School Seniors make A's

This year celebrates the centennial for the compulsory education laws in the United States.  Mississippi in 1917 was the last state to pass such a law for its students.  The idea, of course, was that the U.S. would be better off with an educated work force with a by-product of everyone being able to perpetuate the idea of democracy because they would be an enlightened public.

Well, congratulations to the U.S. for seeing that everyone not only gets an education, but an excellaent one at that, because now half of graduating seniors make As as they pass into society as adults.

I am sure you can hear me laughing hysterically at this point.  Seriously!  And I'm also sure you have tried to like carry on like a conversation with like one of the like seniors who has like graduated like from a 2017 class.  It's quite disturbing.

This class of seniors graduated with a 24 point drop in the average SAT score from last year's average, which had also dropped from the previous year.  Every year states publish articles in their newspapers railing against how poorly students have performed on their states' tests.  Students from this class never had a 100 point grading system in their entire school career.  The lowest grade any student could make was 50.  So their A is from a 50 point playing field rather than a 100 point field.  Statistics from this class, if disaggregated into ethnic groups, have a at least two subgroups that have one of the lowest graduating rates in 40 years.

But... okay, let's celebrate those As and ignore the crumbling system that produced them.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

A formal goodbye

At this point, the die has been cast.  Over the last ten years the world has changed from print-intensive to digital-file-intensive.  If I "write a note" to someone, it is by text or email - a digital file. In two more years, texting will be only for those who learned how to text and capped their knowledge of how to use technology at that point. Most new cars being sold today can change text to voice if you receive a text while driving or change your own voice to text to send to someone.  But, the next step is already on the rise.  A lot of people even now use video messages, such as Glide, Tango, Skype, Hangouts, ooVoo, Peer, and iVideo, to send short messages.  Even if you don't want to send messages, people like to have fun by sharing their experiences.  SnapChat knows this and sells glasses that record 10 seconds of video of whatever you are looking at, stores it in the cloud, and sends it to anyone by voice command.

Probably not in the public schools because they lag from 5-10 years behind, but everywhere else - students in schools, universities, corporate training sessions, professional and continuing education development for medicine, law, engineering, technology, and sciences - printed materials are not being used.  People are imparting information through video means, objects from 3D printers, 3D simulations, and holographic presentations.

It's really too late in the game now to stop reading and writing from carrying the load of sharing information any longer.  The two are being relegated more and more to minor chores.  This blog itself will change when 2017 changes to 2018 into a video blog.  It's hypocritical at the very least to continue in written form.  But what better way to illustrate the change from the written word to the visual world than to celebrate the end of the ten-year war that has outlined and tracked the demise of reading and writing by dropping the written version of this blog in favor of a video version.

To the dinosaurs among us, the meteorite has hit the Earth, exploded, and created the catastrophic forces of water deluge, mach 1 sound waves, and burning rain of rock and Earth from the force of the strike that will completely eliminate the species.  Death is imminent.  There will not be a funeral.  People will move on, not using print, but the devices they carry (for now), to present, transmit, receive, and enjoy the world around them and preserve any knowledge they want to perpetuate.