31 January 2011


“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We’re the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living.”
-President Barak Obama, State of the Union Address, 2011

30 January 2011

My Achey-Breaky Self

According to the trusty, but not so trustworthy, Internet, these little buggers are why my body has been aching all day long:
"Body aches are a side effect of the immune system response to an invading pathogen or germ. When your immune system detects the presence of these foreign objects, it uses certain proteins and chemicals (called cytokines) to communicate with the rest of the body. Some of these cytokines (like interleukins) can cause such things as fever and body aches, because they trigger these specific reactions."
Uff da.

Everyday Disasters

Love this poem, because I'm afraid that sometimes I'm too self-absorbed with my own problems to recognize what's going on with the people around me.  Sorry everybody.

Tuesday 9:00AM

by Denver Butson
A man standing at the us stop
reading the newspaper is on fire
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him
wants to mention it to him
that he is burning
but she is drowning
Water is everywhere
in her mouth and ears
in her eyes
A stream of water runs
steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop
freezing to death
She tries to stand near the man
who is on fire
to try to melt the icicles
that have formed on her eyelashes
and on her nostrils
to stop her teeth long enough
from chattering to say something
to the woman who is drowning
but the woman who is freezing to death
has trouble moving
with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time
to board the bus
what with the flames
and water and ice
But when they finally climb the stairs
and take their seats
the driver doesn't even notice
that none of them has paid
because he is tortured
by visions and is wondering
if the man who got off at the last stop
was really being mauled to death
by wild dogs.

28 January 2011

Why we don't need our fourth finger

It's really a vestigal body part.  Allow me to demonstrate in pictures:
Thumbs Up

We're #1!

The Single Deuce



The Double Deuce

Hang Loose

V for Victory

and Roll

Three (one of three alternatives, coincidentally)

I Love You

Not a ring finger among them. 

27 January 2011

Adios Eightfive

I've been putting this off, because I wasn't sure I could deal with the grief: Chad Ochocinco is changing his name back to Chad Johnson.  It's really too bad.  Just last week I was driving down the freeway and I couldn't help laughing out loud as I thought of how hilariously ridiculous it was that an NFL player decided to change his name to the incorrect Spanish translation of his number.  And everybody went along with it.  Never mind the grill, the touchdown celebrations, the reality show... the man changed his name to OCHOCINCO!

I hope he decides against going back to Johnson and decides to branch out into other languages: there have been rumors of HachiGo (Japanese).  I recommend AtteFem (Norwegian).  Rob favors WaloLima (Tagalog).  Regardless, sports may have just lost its greatest last name.

(P.S. I had a high school friend whose older brother Ben legally changed his name to Obi Wan Kenobi to win a radio contest.)  

26 January 2011

i heart sports

The most transcendent sporting events I've ever witnessed:

  • BYU upsets Oklahoma in Jerry World.  The insane road trip to Texas was well worth it. 
  • Giants World Series. The whole thing.
  • Watching Beck-to-Harline as time expired.  From the Frosty Gator in Idaho Falls.
  • U.S. Men's Olympic Swimming Relay team- the Phelps touch.
  • And then tonight.  Best. Basketball. Game. Ever.

25 January 2011

Why I hope teachers stop getting applauded

One quick side note from tonight's State of the Union address: If you find yourself in a profession where people applaud you all the time, it's a sure sign that you're getting screwed.  Teachers and soldiers, I'm talking to you.  

Don't get me wrong: as a former educator, I fully respect the work that teachers do in classrooms around the country.  But the fact is, teachers are dramatically underpaid--and that one sure way to improve America's educational system is to dramatically increase teachers' salaries. (The best way, of course, is to break the government monopoly on education--a measure which would coincidentally result in higher pay for quality educators.)  Instead of larger paychecks, there is a rush to congratulate teachers on the huge sacrifice they make on behalf of the community.

Doctors, computer scientists, accountants, businessmen--the list could go on and on--all do valuable things for society too, but we don't feel the need to applaud them because they are compensated monetarily.  Less clapping, bigger paychecks.  I look forward to the day that teachers don't garner extra applause because people would think: "Yeah it's a tough job, but they are compensated for it."

24 January 2011

On The Edge

What question would you ask if you knew the world's smartest people would answer?

Well, that's exactly what The Edge Foundation does at the beginning of each year.  Or as they put it, "To arrive at the edge of the world's knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves."

This year's question: "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"  The answers are pretty intriguing--Antifragility, Pragmamorphism, Externalities, Cumulative Error, Pareto Distributions-- if you ever wanted to drink from the science firehose, this is it.  Responses are generally 4-5 paragraphs, and I can pretty much guarantee that you will learn something new if you read more than one.

Past questions include:
  • "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"
  • "What is your dangerous idea?"
  • "What are you optimistic about?" 
  • "What have you changed your mind about?"
  • "What Will Change Everything? What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?"
  • "How has the Internet changed the way you think?"

23 January 2011

The (US) FA Cup

It's still January, but I'm already looking forward to March Madness.  The NCAA basketball tournament is far and away the best annual event that U.S. sports has to offer: a 68-team, single-elimination tourney, filled with all the passion and drama and upsets that make sports worth watching.  It gets even the most casual of fans involved by entering (and usually winning) bracket competitions--Star dominated last year's pool by picking Duke to win it all... because her grandparents' last name is Duke.  I especially enjoy the first two days of the tournament,  with sixteen (!) games per day and all the Cinderella teams to root for.

As much as I love March Madness, however, it has NOTHING on the FA Cup, the annual English soccer tournament crossing all eight tiers of British footie, from the Premier League's Manchester United down to Isthmian League's Corinthian Casuals.  Every professional team in England is eligible, and there are a lot of them --759 squads entered this year's competition!  The single-elimination tourney is not seeded, and the next round's matches are drawn randomly at the conclusion of the previous round.  As could be expected, the Premier League teams generally come out on top, but lower-tiered "Giant Killers" conquer the bigger guys every year.

This is pure genius.  Inspired by the British system, I hereby suggest that we Yanks adopt a similar annual contest, but with our version of football.  If you think the NFL playoffs are exciting (or are still steaming over the BCS), imagine this: We gather teams from every football league in America-- every JuCo, Division III, Division II, NCAA FCS & FBS, NFL, UFL, CFL, whatever remains of the XFL, and why not, the Lingerie Football League-- and throw them into one giant tournament.  Sure, the pros are going to win the whole thing 99 times out of 100, but what about the occasional USC over Cleveland Browns upset?  You can't tell me that this wouldn't be the best sporting event of our lifetime (barring the Giants World Series, of course).


For brunch today Star and I hit up Tangie's, a local diner-dive.  The decor can be described as tacky-ranch, with lacquered cowboy signs adorning every wall, dispensing sage wisdom such as, "Don't squat with yer spurs on" or "There's many theories about arguin' with a woman... ain't none of em work."  The room is trimmed with wallpaper showing horses and steer and lariats, while a whiteboard filled with misspelled daily specials provides the room's focal point.  Each table has its own bottle of Arizona Gunslinger Hot Sauce, the first suggestion that maybe the food isn't overly commendable-- which it wasn't, with the notable (and oxymoronic) standard exceptions: home-made soup, scones, and pie. You can walk into any diner in the continental U.S. and order some combination of those three, and you're sure to walk away happy.

The other best thing about Tangie's?  As we were getting ready to pay our bill, an older gentleman (in the 70-75 range) sauntered in and plopped himself down in what I can only presume is his standard booth  The lone server greeted him with a warm smile and a "Hi Buttface!"

"Hey, Sweet Pea," he grinned back.

20 January 2011

If you chance to meet a frown...

For class this week I read an article about how contagious people's emotions really can be.  As humans, we are constantly and unconsciously taking note of the micro-expressions of the people around us (think Lie to Me and Paul Ekman).  Not only that, but we automatically mimic those expressions--so if you see someone making angry eyebrows, you are biologically trained to do the same.  Taking this to the next level, studies have consistently shown that our moods are tied to our facial expressions--that in addition to smiling when we feel happy, we also can feel happier simply by smiling--a physiological fake-it-until-you-make it.

So to summarize: You see someone frowning (or subconsciously note them making upset micro-expressions).  You mimic their behavior.  Your brain interprets your frowny reaction to mean that you are genuinely upset.  You start to feel upset.  (The same process works for smiling and other emotions/expressions, of course.)

This confirms the idea that in order to be happy you need to surround yourself with happy people, ones who can subliminally haul you up by your pouty lip when you're feeling down.  As long as you don't get to them first, that is.

19 January 2011

Prometheus: A Little Foresight

I went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art today.  Although mostly known for his moving Christian altarpieces, I found myself staring at the painting above.  It is a study done for a giant Greek palace mural, which has subsequently been destroyed, leaving the painting above as the only remnant of his masterpiece (along with a detail sketch of the dying eagle).  But let's face it: what really draws me to this is the fascinating story of Prometheus.

As you may remember, Prometheus was a titan who sided with the Olympians, helping Zeus claim ultimate victory as king of the gods.  More than anyone else, Prometheus loved the mortal human beings--whom he had created from clay--and taught them pretty much everything they needed to know to be civilized.  But Zeus refused to let man have fire.  Hating to see his beloved humans suffering so, Prometheus stole fire from Olympus and delivered it to them.  To punish mankind, Zeus sent Pandora and her ill-fated box, laden with all of humanity's horrors--as well as Hope.  As for Prometheus, he was everlastingly chained to a mountain, where Zeus' eagle would devour the "cockles of his liver" daily. That is, until Hercules showed up--slaying the eagle and freeing Prometheus, as depicted above.  But the saddest part of the tale, as Star points out, is that over the centuries mankind had forgotten their greatest benefactor and friend.

Prometheus is a compelling and tragic figure.  Apparently, he was the Romantic's god of choice--representing wisdom and culture and civilization betrayed and brought down by a hollow and petty religion (as characterized by Zeus).  Mary Shelley subtitled her famous work Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, comparing the doctor's cruel folly of creating life with that of his titanic predecessor.  Her husband, Percy Shelley, rewrote the Greek tragedy with Prometheus coming away conqueror.  And their frequent companion, Lord Byron, penned a poem dedicated to the "fire-bringer".  A brief excerpt:

"Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,
A troubled stream from a pure source"

And that is why I love Prometheus.

17 January 2011

The New Awesome

I know I'm probably the last person on the boat for this, but I was recently introduced to Radiolab, a periodic, episodic, many-topic, ideoscopic radio program and podcast.  Each of their brilliant hour-long programs delve into multiple facets around a central theme-- I highly recommend "Parasites" and 'The Good Show", for starters. If you find yourself stuck in the car/work/school for long periods of time, I seriously suggest loading this up on your podcast-player of choice.

(As an aside, I also am enjoying "This American Life" and "A Prairie Home Companion", but I figured everyone already knows about those ones.)

Another Stunning Infographic

Continuing my current fascination with data visualizations (and as a precursor to a post on The Fourth Turning):

15 January 2011

You Are What You Eat

From visualeconomics.com:

Glory Days

I've recently rediscovered the "100 Hour Board", an assembly of BYU students who have sworn an oath to answer any question posed to the Board within (you guessed it) 100 hours.  As an undergrad, this was a actual physical bulletin board where one could post a 3X5 card with any question- from the trivial (How many stairs are there on campus?) to the arcane (Are there really tunnels beneath BYU? Yes. Is the Maeser building built over a cemetary? It is.)

Well, the Board has entered the 21st century and is hosted online, complete with a searchable archive and a list of editors' choice awards.  I was fiddling around and came across the following entry, dated April 2005:

Board Entry #14553
Q: Dear 100 Hour Board,
What's the dopest thing to do this weekend?
-Sudan is in Africa

A: Dear my roommate,
Well, the really cool thing to do this weekend would be to come to our Board party, but you're not invited,
even though I love you.

Other things:
1. Study for finals on reading day
2. Have a bonfire in the canyon
3. Go to the first Real Salt Lake soccer game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake--1pm on the 16th...
4. On Friday, April 15, Jason and Ronnie in the 177th ward are presenting a benefit concert called 
Rock for the Lost. This is a benefit concert to help children in Sudan. Bring school supplies or sports
equipment that is in usable condition to donate. Concessions are available, and all proceeds will go to the
Southern Sudan school project. At 8pm you can hear bands such as Eden Express, Levi Leavitt, Lucy and
the Diamonds, Winston McCoy, Billy Turbo, and then at 10pm there is a big screen movie showing.
Location? 600 N. and 300 E. behind Victoria Place in Provo.


Sure, it was six years ago that Bryant and I planned Rock for the Lost, built a stage on the grassy
knoll, and strung Christmas lights and a slackline around the apartment complex, but I have never been prouder.

13 January 2011


Condoleezza Rice spoke at a campus-wide forum today.  Dr. Rice is extremely intelligent, articulate, and compelling.  After a rousing hour-long speech, she next fielded ten or so impromptu questions from students.  She had a clear, concise, and insightful answer for each question.  A few takeaways:

  • In the past, the world had to worry about conflicts between powerful states.  Now, however, it is weak, failed, and failing states that require the most concern and resources.  (Afghanistan is the world's 5th poorest country.) 
  • When people live in an authoritarian state, they will turn to violence because they have no other recourse.
  • The U.S, should devote its humanitarian resources to stable, democratic governments instead of pouring funds down "rat holes".  There need to be standards in foreign aid.
  • The northern Mexican border is America's most pressing international concern.  It is a failing state and the Mexican president, although very capable, needs help.      
  • China will never pass the U.S. as the world's foremost economic power because a country who is afraid of the internet cannot lead in today's knowledge economy.
  • A national myth is not necessarily a lie, but an enlarging of the truth.  America's power lies in its national myth- that people from any background can achieve greatness.  It is what fuels our country as the creative and innovative capital of the world.   
  • America needs to remember and send the message that ambitious and hard-working people from around the world will ALWAYS be welcome here.
  • Things that once seemed impossible (like the collapse of communism) eventually seem inevitable.
  • Today's headlines are rarely the same as tomorrow's history (Alaska as "Seward's Folly").
  • Presidents are elected from one of three pools: senators, governors, and victorious generals (there hasn't been one from this last category in a long while).  With the number of female senators and governors increasing, we are bound to have a woman president. 
  • The failing K-12 education system is the greatest threat to America.
  • If you're surrounded by people who always agree with you, find a new circle of friends.
  • She likes Hamilton more than Jefferson.

12 January 2011

A Toast to Toasters

When I was teaching high school history, one of my favorite lessons was about the modern economy- how for most of us, we don't make/produce practically any of the stuff we use/eat/wear on a daily basis.  We are a world of specialists- we do one specific task for money and buy everything else we need.  (I have to admit that at church this week I smirked at someone quoting Brigham Young's admonition that we make our own food, clothes, etc.)

Taking this one step further into our shrinking world, nowadays most of our stuff isn't even produced in this country (unless you're talking software, weapons, or democracy).  As part of my history lesson, I would offer a king-size candy bar or pack of licorice for any student who was wearing an article of clothing with a tag reading "Made in America."  In the eight or so classes, I never had anyone win the prize.  Not one.

Anyway, today I watched a video about a guy trying to build a toaster from scratch.  As you might expect, the end result was neither appealing nor functional.  But what a perfect illustration of how our modern world works.  I imagine that if you looked at your toaster right now, you would see metal mined in South America, plastic made from Middle Eastern oil, Japanese circuitry, assembled in southeast Asia, marketed by a company from the U.K., and sold to you by a store here in good old 'Merica.  To recreate that individually is impossible.

Looking around me right now, I don't see a single thing that I could make myself- sofa, lightbulbs, the XBox, DVDs, running water, my t-shirt (Made in El Salvador).  So here's to a modern economy: without it life would be uncomfortable, dark, dull, dirty, and cold.  Or as Hobbes famously said in Leviathan: "the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."  Thank heaven for toasters! 

11 January 2011

Pale Blue Dot

Beautiful NASA video, narrated by the late Carl Sagan.  Entitled "The Frontier is Everywhere."

And yes, this brought a lump to my throat.  "For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness."

10 January 2011

BCS Title Game, 2011

A spectacularly disappointing ending to an otherwise unspectacular game.  (But the company was good!)  Only eight months and one week until football starts again.

09 January 2011

Sports Clips (not the barbershop)

Because I like sports more than I ought.  Because this is my favorite montage.  Because Bobby Masocol and I sung the heck out of this song at the 8th grade "100 Merits Activity".  And because tomorrow is the BCS Championship game.

A Recommendation

Sometimes I'm reluctant to make recommendations about books, movies, etc. because I worry that other people may not enjoy whatever it is as much as I did.  When I do, I generally feel a little self-conscious: the other day a classmate of mine told me he had started reading a book I raved about (West With the Night, by Beryl Markham) and I immediately went into second-guessing mode.  Will he like it?  If he doesn't, will he think I'm an idiot? Why did I have to talk it up so much? However, I think there's something that pretty much everyone who reads this blog would like:

(See, I talked myself out of a mass recommendation... just like that.  Sorry.)

07 January 2011

Center of Attention

I have a hard time with sports venues changing their names.  Candlestick Park will never be 3Com Stadium (at Candlestick Point).  The Giants play at the most beautiful ball park in America: PacBell Park.  The Jazz's homecourt is the Delta Center, not the EnergySolutions Arena.  And despite all efforts to the contrary, Salt Lake's all-purpose arena is the E-Center, not the Maverik Center.

Anyway, Star and I went to see a Monster Truck rally tonight at the E-Center.  By my count, it was the 6th different type of event I've attended there.  Talk about multi-purpose room versatile.  Here's the list: 
  1. Monster Truck Rally
  2. Utah Grizzlies (minor league ice hockey)
  3. Cirque du Soleil's "Saltimbanco"
  4. Utah Blaze (arena football)
  5. So You Think You Can Dance concert
  6. Days of '47 Rodeo
This does not even count Star's Neil Diamond concert and Olympic hockey game or Marshall's Yo Gabba Gabba Live.  Someone, somewhere must keep track of the most eclectic venues in America; if so, the E-Center has to rank right up there.  Next up: "Yanni in Concert."  No joke.    

06 January 2011


So after a week of classes, it's official.  Here is my schedule for this semester, in ascending order of how excited I am to be taking each class:
  • Managerial Accounting (1st block)
  • Global Management (2nd block)
  • Business Strategy
  • Micro/Macro Organizational Change
  • Managing New Ventures
  • Venture Capital/Private Equity
  • Management Field Study: Cisco
It will be a busy semester, but should be pretty valuable.

05 January 2011

Tube Dreams

As a follow-up to last night's post, I thought I would make a viewing wishlist.  And so, here are the TV series that I would like to watch in their entirety:
  • House, MD
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Arrested Development
  • Mythbusters
  • 30 Rock
  • Firefly
  • ESPN's 30 for 30
All I need now is about 1,000 hours of uninterrupted TV time.

04 January 2011

God Bless Philo T. Farnsworth

About a month ago, I posted a list of my favorite bands during different periods of my life.  It was an entertaining exercise, so tonight I take on TV shows.  In chronological order, here are the programs that could claim to be my favorite at any given time:

  • Scooby-Doo ("Let's split up gang-- me and the hot chick will go search for monsters in this closet.")
  • He-Man ("I have the POWER!"  Bonus points for the Dolph Lungren film.  And a glowing green panther.)
  • Double Dare (Inspiration for the legendary Physical Challenge.  Always wanted to run the final obstacle course.) 
  • Duck Tales (Loved the entire Disney afternoon, but this was the best of the bunch.)
  • The Simpsons (Like many of you, I was not initially allowed to watch this show--Bart taking a picture of his own butt was the clincher--but given two seasons and Homer becoming the main character, and it's been 20 years of brilliance.)
  • Lois and Clark (Superhero premise, Sunday evenings with the fam, everyone had some eye candy to admire-- just a great show.  And yes, I own it all on DVD.)
  • Survivor (I only watched the first season, but I am somewhat ashamed to have added to the rise of reality TV.  But still, what a great show!)
  • Jeopardy (Someday I will realize a lifelong dream of being a contestant and out-smugging Alex Trebek.)
  • Homestar Runner (Not really a TV show, but close enough.  And don't most of us watch most of our TV online now anyway?  If you haven't ever seen this, stop reading right now and watch it.)
  • American Idol (The Bo Bice season.  Nothing will ever live up to it, and certainly not J-Lo and Steven Tyler.)
  • Lost (Bonus points for most excellent ending--way to not Favre your show, which brings me to...)
  • Bones (In all honesty, the worst show on the list, and deteriorating by the episode.  I wish they had pulled the plug two seasons ago, but I'm too invested to stop watching now.)
That's all I can think of for the moment, but this post has made me think of all the TV series I wish I had watched, like a couch potato's "reading" list.  What have been your faves?

02 January 2011


These last few days have been the coldest that I can remember ever experiencing in Utah (Norway was humid, bone-aching cold).  Last night, it was 40 degrees below freezing.  Coincidentally (?) I stumbled across this fascinating piece of writing about what happens when a human being freezes, but not necessarily to death.  The most sticking line: "You're not dead until you're warm and dead."

01 January 2011


Be it hereby resolved, that every day of 2011, Russell Andrews shall eat a piece of fruit.