Archive for the 'Dave K.' Category

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…

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.

Feed me!

OK, who’s hungry? Who needs a daily dose of Broken Spines and an easy way to get it? Ever hear of an ‘RSS Feed’? Sure you have. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. In fact, ‘RSS’ actually stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. From

RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”, contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

RSS content can be read using software called a “feed reader” or an “aggregator.” The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

I use Google Reader as my aggregator and found it very easy to set up (as it integrates seamlessly with my iGoogle home page and Gmail); but a quick search will yield several other choices for aggregators. Whichever reader you choose should offer a simple ‘how-to’ for compiling your feeds, but it is basically as easy as saving bookmarks in your browser. A simple drag-and-drop of the RSS feed symbol, , into your aggregator is usually all it takes.

One word of advice: when setting your RSS feeds for Broken Spines, be sure to establish separate ones for both new posts and comments.

So, don’t go hungry! Set up your reader today!

EDIT: Per Steve’s comment, here’s a great vid to explain it…

You’ve got to ask yourself a question…

… Do I feel lucky?

Well, do ya, punk?!

According to a voluntary poll taken at, 65% of punks DO feel lucky! Some responses considered luck in general, life-encompassing terms:

  • “Yes I am lucky. I feel that luck is a direct result from a positive perspective in general.”

While others were a bit more pragmatic:

  • “I have a home and a car and a job and a few bucks in my pocket. That probably makes me luckier than at least half the humans on this earth.”

Those not feeling lucky had some obvious reasons for it:

  • “Unfortunately, I’m not lucky at all. My dad has been without a job for forever it seems, causing too much stress in the household. I also had a f#@king tumor on my spine at 18 years old.”

And, as an interesting corollary, 60% of the respondents said that they “lean to the right.” Unfortunately, little can drawn from these general results as we don’t know how each person answered individually. But, at least we know that with this particular cross-section, the cup of luck is more than half-full.

A Scorecard comes to life!

Content Quality by Writing Quality

Thanks to Steve for discovering Swivel! Click on the chart to go to the Swivel chart and view the specifics… Hopefully, seeing this in action will spur those of you who yet to submit your ratings to do so 🙂

I’ll probably dedicate a page to the scorecard, I just want us to play around with it a little and make sure we’re getting what we can out of it… so dig in!

A Scorecard in Action

As a follow-up to Mike’s suggestion for a scorecard, I’d like to begin implementing these at our next bout. Be prepared to rate each book you’ve read on the two scales- Quality of Writing and Motivation- zero to ten. I’ll compile the results and post them to the bout records. And, we’ll plan on doing this for each book moving forward.


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