Month: April 2016

On Stats about stats

Too much Weight Given to Stats

men discuss stats

Analytics! Sounds like a substitute curse word for Shaggy of the Scooby Doo gang. Zoinks! And it’s a bit of a mystery to me why statistics seem to be overtaking common sense and the good ‘ol fashioned eyeball in governing business decisions. Consider the practice of applying metrics to talent evaluation in the world of sports (see here For example). The capabilities of athletes are being projected based on statistical research as much as on watching their highlight reels.

Social media decisions are driven by data as well. Moreover, The number of hits, friends, reTweets, etc. that a person amasses on their accounts can genuinely affect their emotional outlook on said media, on communication, on their relationships, on their life even.

I’m calling for a simple backpedal. Let’s allow statistics to help promote our decisions not determine them.

Of Certain Mice (Lab Rats) and Men

Lab Rats are of Great Benefit to Men

lab rats in a scientific experiment maze

Rats. They have the icky factor in spades. Needless to say, these vermin are unwanted. But that is exactly why they are valuable to us humans.  They have been purposed, above all other creatures, for scientific testing.  They are not so much our enemies, these lab rats.  They are our surrogates.

Here’s a fairly thorough article which details the history of the lab rat:

Check out the story and then, the next time you see one of these fine little fellows, you’ll be thanking them for how they’re helping humanity before you let out a blood-curdling scream.

Ascent of the Microbrew

Microbrew Restaurants on the Rise in America

a choosy beggar asks for a microbrew

In the early 2000s, microbrew restaurants were seldom seen outside of large U.S. cities on the East Coast, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain state. But visits to the craft beer brewhouses of the day (Sierra Nevada in Chico, California for example) helped convince wannabe brewmasters that their dreams to open similar home-crafted beer restaurants could indeed come true.

And so an explosion happened; Word spread of the quality beers produced by a growing number of dedicated, small batch beer distributors and restauranteurs. Word also spread, in some cases, about the quality food that was being offered. Goodbye no-frills pub grub.

In recent years, more and more craft beer restaurants opened. These businesses are succeeding. Today they can be found in all major U.S. cities and in many smaller cities and towns. Craft brewery restaurants are even beginning to open in downtrodden neighborhoods and are helping to turn these neighborhoods into must-experience destinations.

Craft brewing is changing the beer industry. What once may have seemed like a fad has now even captured the attention of large-scale distributors like Budweiser who recently parodied craft beers in their television ads. Mockery is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

The rise in popularity of these restaurants followed a similar rise in the healthy foods segment of the grocery industry. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and even lo-fi chain ALDI (with its Fit & Active selections) changed the marketplace with their selections.

Despite the higher costs of “healthy alternatives” people bought them, causing large grocery chain managers to section off areas of their stores just for these foods, foods which became increasingly available as more producers realized their products now had a place in the market.

Consider how ubiquitous the marketing terms for such foods have become, terms rarely used twenty years ago.  These foods are advertised as local, natural, seasonal, environmentally friendly, hand crafted, whole grain, organic, gluten free, grass fed, farm fresh, farm to table, with no artificial flavors, preservatives or sweeteners and absolutely no Trans fats.

Many of these same terms are used to describe microbrews.  Will you drink to that?

West Banksy – Sublime Art

When I fell for the Work of a Cheeky Street Artist by the Name of Banksy

You may know the enigmatic British street artist Banksy from the film
Exit through the Gift Shop
Dude’s got skill. Not many would dispute this assessment, based on his prolific graffiti work. But he might have gone down in history as solely a gimmick-trick pony, the sort of figure who would inspire critics to say, “He was so talented. If only…” Until…

Banksy visited the West Bank. There he showcased some incredibly simple yet profound artwork, affixed along a wall that separates one people from another. It was while watching the evening news that I first learned of these images along the West Bank. And it was then that I first started to truly cheer on the audacity of the artist and to really care about his art.

Banksy homage

Pinocchio and Deceit

Pinocchio and the Truth


“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.” – Keyser Söze

I recently revisited the story of Pinocchio, the little wooden puppet who became a boy only to discover that his nose would later spring to life, and would do so repeatedly–every time he told a lie.  Pinocchio’s nose stood up for truth, unconcerned with the shame its actions brought upon the young lad.

Though I empathize with young Pinocchio because of the social embarrassment the growth of his nose certainly caused, I also envy the instant Pavlovian work that took effect in his life; the very moment he would fib (stimulus), his nose would grow (response). In my life, I often lack an immediate cue after I’ve strayed from the truth.

In fact, I am capable of living out years with my deceptions, unaware of their existence.  I can also intentionally weave elaborately constructed tales that are spun from lie upon lie.  So I need to think twice before laughing at the apparent lunacy of Pinocchio for fibbing time and again after recognizing what his nose would do as a result.

Knowing the consequences of deception is not alone fully sufficient to enact change.  In my life I’ve found that the sheer act of engagement in telling lies can cloud my mind, causing me to more easily believe they are truth.  These implied or spoken fallacies move me further away from the truth of my condition, that I am flawed.

To become a real boy, Pinocchio had to be saved and restored.  An admittance of weakness and imperfection was required.  I, like Pinocchio, am in need of help.  I need the Master’s handiwork to be made new.  Attempting to achieve a genuine makeover any other way would be fruitless.