Archive for the 'Dave K.' Category

If you build it…

Our very first bout, regarding the book Collapse, spawned a pipe dream for a utopian, self-sustaining ranch in rural MN, that would effectively pull the inhabitants off the grid and out of harm’s way. In subsequent bouts that notion has resurfaced several times, each time with some new crazy twist or addition recommended as a solution for the issue du jour. Just give us another year or two and we’ll have imagined an entire city-state!

But if we’re ever motivated enough to actually follow through with creating such a place, one resource may end up being Becky’s Homestead. The tagline for her blog is:

… how to go from a consumer lifestyle, into the Self-Sufficient, Community Driven, Eco-Friendly, Homesteading Lifestyle.

Some of the gems of knowledge Becky offers up: building a light-weight chicken coup, how to sharpen an axe, and heating your home with kerosene.

I discovered this blog after listening to the most recent episode of This Week in Media. One of the hosts, John Flowers, had performed a video tour of his “Life Zero” studio apartment in San Francisco and submitted it to Becky for her blog as an example of how to live a minimalist lifestyle.

 

The Essential Man’s Library

While we hope the books we read and their subsequent reviews and discussions serve as valuable filter for interesting readings, the reality is we barely scratch the surface when it comes to important writings. In addition, our parameters of non-fiction and 300 pp or less restrict even further the range of potential books. Thankfully, a few guys over at The Art of Manliness have compiled their list of the 100 must-read books for men.

Granted, about 80% of the recommendations are fiction, but I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that for our Fight Club we have read exactly zero of these…

Blind Sided?

The next bout is scheduled for early June… right about the time the whole world forgets about football for a few weeks. The draft will be a month and a half old, the myriad mini-camps will be winding down, and training camp and the pre-season will still be a month or two away. Even one of my favorite and devoted football columnists, Peter King of SI, turns his attention to other things every June.

Not us. Not this Fight Club. We’re going to dive in and dissect the game while the rest of the world sleeps. Our guideline? The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis.

There are really two stories in this one book. One is an examination of the evolution of the game of football from about the time of the NFL-AFL merger to present with special attention paid to the position of left tackle. The other is a personal story of a young, prospective, immensely talented and naturally gifted athlete, Michael Oher, who hopes to play the position of left tackle in the NFL someday.

The timing for reading this book is nearly perfect, IMHO. We’ll get Oher’s back-story just prior to his last season of college football and his subsequent entry into the 2009 NFL draft. And, with this year’s draft just past us, the pundits are already looking forward to next year. So, where does Michael Oher project to go, or, in other words, how many millions of dollars can he expect to have in his bank account in one year? A few projections:

Just to get an idea for what his bank account might look like in a year, the top ten picks from the 2007 NFL Draft averaged $18.7 million in guaranteed money.

Michael Oher will very likely live comfortably for the rest of his life, thanks in large part to his hard work, determination, the love and support of his adopted family and… Lawrence Taylor. To understand this reference, read the book. But, suffice it to say that this man is nearly solely responsible for the position of left tackle becoming the second-highest paid position in football after QB. For the last twenty years, teams have been adapting and investing in protection for their most prized position, and Oher will reap the benefits.

But, for how long?

The very fact that the game has evolved like it has over the last 20 years suggests that evolution will continue. And where will the LTs (left tackles… or the Lawrence Taylor’s for that matter ) of the game fall in this process? One very unique and innovative approach to the game that is starting to gain some traction suggests that left tackles, in fact offensive linemen altogether, may become nearly unnecessary!

Introducing, the A 11 Offense:

Talk about evolution of a game! Though only time will tell how it truly does evolve.

In the meantime, Oher will prep for his last unpaid season, America will enjoy a football-free June, and we will discuss and prognosticate the evolution of America’s game.

Thinking Outside the Turbine

With the recent upswing in ‘green awareness’, alternative renewable energy sources are being touted as the saving grace- and they likely are. But, they are not without their flaws.

For instance, as of April 2007 wind farms in the US were producing nearly 12,000 MW. But, at what cost? For many, the sight of a few wind turbines can be an awe-inspiring experience. But, you start to amass these monoliths across our sweeping plains and awe can quickly turn to disgust.

Enter Shawn Frayne, and his tragedy-inspired approach to harnessing the power of the wind. In 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State collapsed just months after it was completed. The cause? Mechanical resonance. The wind swept across the bridge like a bow on violin strings causing it to vibrate wildly until it disintegrated.

Shawn has applied this same concept to his next-generation wind-harnessing design, which can be seen here. If he’s able to scale this design out, the results would be dramatically less obtrusive and more cost efficient!

Shawn also received Popular Mechanics’ 2007 Breakthrough Award for his design.

Senator On-line

In a bold move that would make The Wisdom of Crowds author proud, Australia is introducing an internet-based political party, Senator Online, whose votes are completely determined by the votes of the people.

From the site:

SOL is a not-for-profit Organisation.

SOL is Australia’s first internet based political party so the website will be crucial to SOL delivering on its promises. The current website is a pre-election site. The post-election site will be developed if a SOL candidate wins a seat in the Senate at the upcoming federal election. Senators elected at this time will first sit in the federal Parliament in July 2008. The post-election SOL website will be up and running before July 2008.

The SOL post-election website will provide:

  • Accurate information and balanced argument on each bill and important issues;
  • All those registered on the Australian Electoral roll and who have access to the Internet have the chance to have their say by voting on these bills and issues;
  • A tally of all on-line votes;
  • An easy and effective way to be directly involved in the political process.

It will certainly be interesting and enlightening to watch how this develops. Democracy may yet be saved!

Show Me The Money!

Thanks to CNet’s Buzz Out Loud podcast (episode 578) for calling attention to politicalbase.com. In addition to being able to compare candidates on issues and participate in conversations, this party-neutral site also allows us to watch in real-time the results of the political fund-raising efforts of each candidate!

Here is a live graph showing the fund-raising for the top candidates in the 2008 Presidential election. And, State-by-State fund-raising leaders here.

Unfortunately, wordpress.com does not allow their blogs to embed the graphs offered by the site.

He’s gone but not forotten…

Thank you all for your letters of concern but we are hopeful that Dave K. has not passed away, gone missing in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, or been abducted by aliens!  We have received a coded message from him and believe that he is alive “Thought you might find this helpful…”  We have heard word through Halo 3 Xbox Live back channels that Dave K. has been spotted in Seasoned Gamers deathmatches.  Our source is sketchy so we’re hopeful but not certain.  Dave K. if you can hear us please send us another sign that you’re ok… remember your wife and child… come back to the “light” Dave K.

Select a Candidate

With the 2008 elections just over a year away, the hype machines will ‘go to 11’ in the coming months. Political ads will sear our retinas, make our ears bleed, and completely numb our senses. Not to sound greedy and ungrateful but, I have to ask, what else do we get out of that? Are we any clearer on who we want to vote for after surviving a political A/V onslaught?

Although we each likely have at least a vague idea about who we’ll vote for, have you ever asked yourself why? Are you sure about your candidate’s positions on key topics, or more importantly, topics that are key to you? Perhaps you are sure… but perhaps there’s another candidate out there that is in even better alignment with your beliefs!

If only you could find out for sure…

Now you can thanks to Minnesota Public Radio’s Select a Candidate tool. Enter your position on 11 issues and their level of importance to you and this will return a list of all Presidential candidates in the order in which they match your views!

As MPR notes, this survey is not designed to tell you what candidate you should vote for. It is intended only to help you think about your positions and then introduce you to the candidates.

Success without failure?

Is it possible to succeed without failing?

Over a couple of beers, a mound of fried calamari, and a plate of pesto-soaked ravioli, three Fight Club pugilists debated this topic the other night. It stemmed from a preview of our latest bout topic- The Wisdom of Crowds- the idea that the collective intelligence of a group is often more accurate than most or all of its individual members.

In an effort to help his company innovate and better themselves, one pugilist started a Failure Forum in which members could share their failures. The idea being that we all learn from our mistakes and if they all could learn from each others’ mistakes, they would collectively be that much better prepared to move the company forward.

So, in order to be more successful, they would learn from their failures. But, does one necessarily need to fail in order to be successful? This is where the conversation turned…

As we left the restaurant and made our way to the theater to see 3:10 to Yuma (I’d give it 2.5/4, btw) , we debated this. We dizzyingly volleyed theories, claims, and spin, back and forth through the hallways until the darkness and decorum of the theater dictated our silence. However, as the previews wound down, my adversary felt the need to summarize his views (and get in the last word while he could) with a succinct statement:

Success without failure is luck.

I gave this a few minutes thought as the opening credits rolled. Soon, however, Crowe and Bale had swept me back in time and away from my reality. When I came around two hours later, I had completely forgotten about our discussion and went about the next couple days blissfully.

Then, last night, a cryptic email:

What do you think…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45mMioJ5szc

http://books.google.com/books?id=284xdq3x4ugC

What do I think?

Didn’t we come to realize that it doesn’t really matter what I think? Isn’t it more telling to know what we think? After all, that was the impetus for our conversation- the wisdom of crowds.

As such, I created a poll over at SeasonedGamers to find out a group’s view on whether or not failure was necessary for success . I kept the question as unbiased as I could, not giving any indication of my opinion- “Can you have success without failure?”. However, I needed to vote and I didn’t want my vote to show my preference, so I gave my adversary a head-start by submitting a ‘No’ vote.

As of this posting, and even despite my ‘No’ vote, “Yes- Success Exists Without Failure” is enjoying nearly a 2 to 1 advantage. Several respondents have also posted their views on why they chose what they did, and there are some wonderful insights mentioned there- be sure to review them, too.

So, while I could lay out my reasoning here as to why I think success can exist without failure, it is perhaps more telling, authentic and an incredible ironic twist that I can let the masses speak for me…

I feel obligated to clarify that my belief on this matter transcends the inherent relativity that exists between success and failure. Conceptually and definitively (as in, definition) the two require each other, like love and hate. I have to assume our promoted perspectives had accepted this as a certainty, and it’s my understanding that our discussion lies beyond this plane.

Shift Happens

If I were to take our current bout subject, education, and make a mash-up with Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, I very well might come up with this thought-provoking video. Of course, I didn’t come up with this; credit Karl Fisch, and The Fischbowl Blog, who originally compiled it to present to high school teachers thinking about the world our students are entering and wondering how best to help them prepare…

Besides the myriad thought-provoking blurbs in the video, here are some other interesting nuggets to consider (taken from the original presentation but cut from the above version):

  • In 2002 alone, Nintendo invested more then $140 million in R&D; by comparison, the U.S. Federal Government spent less than half as much on R&D in Education.
  • It’s estimated that a week’s worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • The $100 laptop project (OLPC) is expecting to ship between 50 and 100 million a year to children in underdeveloped countries.

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