George Lakoff on how to argue with conservatives.

Whatever your political leanings, you need to read this interview and think about what Lakoff has to say.

George Lakoff on how to argue with conservatives. David Pescovitz: Last year, BB pal Bonnie Powell conducted a staggering interview with cognitive linguist and cultural commentator George Lakoff about why the Democrats need a lesson in language. In these days just before the Republican National Convention, Bonnie sat down again with Lakoff to discuss his forthcoming book, Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, and why it’s important to think before you speak:

You’ve said that progressives should never use the phrase “war on terror” why?
There are two reasons for that. Let’s start with “terror.” Terror is a general state, and it’s internal to a person. Terror is not the person we’re fighting, the “terrorist.” The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The “war on terror” is not about stopping you from being afraid, it’s about making you afraid.

Link [Boing Boing]

The cubicle turns 40

I’m not sure whether this is best understood as an example of unintended consequences or of the inevitable evil/cluelessness of the suits. Regardless, it is certainly a story worth understanding in more depth.

As a consultant I’ve spent most of my career working in temporary spaces of one sort or another. There is great power in being able to quickly rearrange workspace to meet immediate needs. More often than not, that has worked best with the cheapest and simplest of furnishings. While cubicles capture the form of flexibility, they often miss the spirit. And the hardest issue is usually how to avoid the furniture police.

Happy 40th Birthday, cubicle!. Mark Frauenfelder: Metropolis‘ Yvonne Abrahams profiles Bob Propst, inventor of the office cubicle. A great example of a neat idea morphing into its opposite.

cubicleSo, in 1964, Herman Miller’s Action Office system was born. It started with a huge open area, sectioned off to give workers completely enclosed spaces if needed, or semi-enclosed spaces for a more social kind of privacy. Offices were arranged in such a way that workers would be likely to have plenty of contact with each other and with management.

Propst’s forward-thinking motives were misinterpreted by some companies, which simply crammed more workers into smaller spaces and took advantage of the system’s huge potential for savings and tax breaks … “Lots are run by crass people who can take the same kind of equipment and create hellholes. They make little bitty cubicles and stuff people in them. Barren, rat-hole places.”

Link (Thanks, Bill!) [Boing Boing]

Advice on blogging successfully

A good mix of serious and entertaining tips on how to blog successfully.

I would also recommend Phil Windley’s advice on how to start a blog. Noting profound or earthshattering in either one, but they do represent a solid collection of good advice and both have good sets of links to other sources.

I would also recommend taking a look at RSS right off the bat. Feld Thoughts recommends a whitepaper from MediaThink (with annoying Flash animation) called RSS: The Next Big Thing Online (pdf file), as a good introduciton. Skip the annoying stuff and go straight to the useful stuff.

About Blogging Successfully. Simon’s Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid To Ask attempts to be a complete round up of essential and practical blogging knowledge. There are obvious contradictions: Be Original(#19) Vs. Plagiarism is Encouraged(#22), but he probably does not expect to be taken seriously(#4). I wish he extended (#49) to include padding … []

Online Stopwatch

I have no immediate need for this. On the other hand, it is cool, which still matters to me even if it does brand me as totally out of touch. Which also makes it worth an entry here.

Online Stopwatch. I’m trying my hand at radio commentary, where time limits are critical. But I didn’t have a stopwatch to use for practice. A little Googling and, presto, I found an online version. It’s actually easier to use than a “real”… [Dynamist Blog]

Update to OneNote Virtual PowerToy

Although I’ve been using OneNote off and on for several months now, it has still not become part of my default toolkit. For Microsoft it is an excellent early stage product. At the same time, their compelling need to make products that appeal to the broadest possible audience make it feel more homogenous than I would like.

One of the best aspects of OneNote is that it is extensible. If it manages to draw a developer community to it, then it may evolve into something that will become part of the toolkit. This may be a step in that direction.

Update to OneNote Virtual PowerToy. Yesterday, I wrote about the marvelous new OneNote PowerToy by Darron Devlin. Evidently, some users had problems printing from Word. I m pleased to report that Darron has already posted an update to the OneNote driver that fixes the problem. Be… [Working Smart]

Putting the hours in- working on your craft

This got a lot of play earlier this month in my aggregator, but I only managed to get to it this weekend. It certainly lives up to its billing and Gaping Void now has a place in my aggregator.

Too much writing and thinking about creativity perpetuates a myth that creativity is some sort of innate binary characteristic–you either have it or you don’t. I much prefer a perspective that, regardless of your creative gifts, there is craft to be learned and developed. You can’t do anything about the raw material you were given at birth, but, as Macleod also points out, it is within your power to put the hours in. Reminds me of Jerry Pournelle’s classic advice on how to get his job.

Hard Truths from the Gaping Void.

A few months ago I stumbled upon Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void weblog, enjoying his crazed cartoons and his jaundiced insights. He has one post that he keeps adding to that is just completely fricking brilliant, called “How to be Creative”. The original post is good, but he has a couple elaborations that are even better:

He has one observation that is straight out of the advice I hear over and over for new writers, most of whom are looking for some sort of silver bullet that will allow them to become successful without spending all that boring time with their ass in a chair doing the work:

3. Put the hours in.

Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what seperates successful people and failed people is time and stamina.

This stuff is all good reading, and worth thinking about if you have any ambitions towards being creative – as an artist, as an entrepeneur, as a software developer, as a person.

Comment on Hard Truths from the Gaping Void [Evil Genius Chronicles]

Atom support for news aggregator in Manila and Radio UserLand

One more plus in “Radio”‘s camp. They are about to release atom support for their aggregator. I’m testing it now. It has handled most of the atom feeds I’ve tried. It still chokes on some, but that’s to be expected. More complications to my effort to choose my next blogging environment.

Beta: Atom support for news aggregator in Manila and Radio UserLand. We’ve got a new feature for testing: Atom support for the news aggregator in Manila and Radio UserLand. Before a general release, we would like to invite anyone interested in testing the changes.

You can find the instructions and post any feedback here: Radio UserLand (radio-dev) or Manila (manila-dev). [UserLand Product News]

The Onion Summarizes John Kerry's Platform

When the only tools you have are tools…

The Onion Summarizes John Kerry’s Platform.

This does seem to hit the nail on the head:

The Onion | Kerry Unveils One-Point Plan For Better America: Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry outlined his one-point plan for a better America: the removal of George W. Bush from the White House. “If I am elected in November, no inner-city child will have to live in an America where George Bush is president,” Kerry said, addressing a packed Maize High School auditorium. “No senior citizen will lie awake at night, worrying about whether George Bush is still the chief executive of this country. And no American regardless of gender, regardless of class, regardless of race will be represented by George Bush in the world community.”…

Kerry also spoke on the subject of national security. “This country has embraced a new and dangerously ineffective disregard for the world,” Kerry said. “In order to win the global war against terror, we must promote democracy, freedom, and opportunity around the world. My national-defense policy will be guided by one imperative: Don’t be George Bush. As will my plans to create a strong economy, protect civil rights, develop a better healthcare system, and improve homeland security.”

Joining Kerry at the podium, Edwards raised one issue not discussed by his running mate: the environment. “Let’s not forget one important point,” Edwards said. “We need to set a new standard of environmental excellence for America by renewing our nation’s promise of clean air, clean water, and a bountiful landscape for all. In the 21st century, we can have progress without pollution as long as we have a Dick Cheney-free White House.”

[Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal (2004)]

Harry Wessel on blogs in the workplace

This is a pointer to an overview of blogging by Harry Wessel of the Orlando Sentinel. It’s been popping up in various newpapers and been pointed to by various bloggers. This time it shows up in St. Louis, which is my old home town. Maybe someone from my high school days will get in touch. I don’t love the editorial slant that got put on it, but I’m not trying to sell papers. And most organizations are likely to think of risks before they see opportunity.

On the other hand, I did get to have a good chat with Harry while he was writing it courtesy of an introduction by Buzz. Better yet, I got a good quote and they spelled my name right! Here’s what Harry had to say:

Jim McGee, director of the Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, said blogs are among “the most important developments in technology in doing knowledge work that we’ve seen in 15 years.”

McGee is a former clinical professor of information technology at Northwestern University’s business school, and he’s an influential blogger (

“I track something like 320 sites that are relevant to my work,” McGee said. “In terms of leveraging my time as a knowledge worker, I have at least an order of magnitude of maybe 100 times improvement in my productivity. If part of your job is to be informed, this is the fastest way to do it.”

A few minor quibbles. I’m not the Director of Huron, I’m one of many; it’s a big place. Also, what I remember saying was that blogging gives me between an order of magnitude and a 100 times improvement in productivity. I can see how Harry transcribed it as he did in our phone interview. It’s a reminder to me to be mindful of how what I say is likely to be heard.

STLToday: Blog slog can get you in trouble in the workplace. Sensible words of warning: don’t blog about your sex life or your boss’s dirty laundry without considering the impact it could have on your job security. At some jobs, it doesn’t really matter what you blog about; you boss or… [Business Blog Consulting]

Buzz and Charley from street level

Buzz continues to keep us up to date on the view from the street in Florida. As Ernie says, Buzz is a great storyteller. I wish it took something less than a hurricane to get him posting regularly.

Charley…the second morning after…. Sunday morning, hot humid, but life seems to be creeping back to normal. Rumors that friends have power float by. Starbuck’s is jammed, bagel shops sold out, but grocery stores seem to be humming, particularly the take out food sections…. [buzzmodo]