The Lobotomy

titans-saintsChapter 1

NPR’s All Things Considered recently ran a story about what has worked and not worked with the educational reform program called No Child Left Behind. Short version: When nothing else works, a school must develop a restructuring strategy. The most common strategy — and the one that most consistently works — is called by education pundits, “the lobotomy.” It means, simply, firing the person in charge. With school, it’s the principal.

Why is the lobotomy the only thing that consistently works? It’s hard to say.

Tom Ahn, a University of Kentucky professor and leading researcher of No Child Left Behind Ahn points out that, to be forced into restructuring, a school had to be considered failing for six years. “There’s something seriously wrong with the way the school has been run,” Ahn says.

This doesn’t necessarily the principal is bad or incompetent.

Says Ahn, “When leadership change occurs, basically there’s a sea change.”

Not only is there an improvement in student performance, but also in teacher satisfaction surveys.

Chapter 2

I’ve thought of “the lobotomy” several times since hearing about it in that story. But I’ve been thinking about it being appliedcin other contexts than No Child Left Behind.

John Boehner
NFL Coaches Joe Philbin (Miami) and Ken Whisenhut (Tennessee)
Tim Wolfe, University of Missouri President
A Parade of Executives at Volkswagen

Moral of this story

In education, business, politics, sports, you name it, when you want a sea change, a lobotomy may not always work, but it’s more likely to work consistently than other choices.

What I Favor vs. What Twitter Likes

I used to write a lot about Twitter. For example, here is a collection of 10,000+ words I wrote in a series of blog posts called “Thoughts on Twitter.” In brief, all those words say that Twitter was (they were written years ago) great because no two people use it the same way. And anyone who tried to explain how one was supposed to use Twitter broke the first rule of Twitter: You can’t make up rules for how others use Twitter. Back then, Twitter was a feature of a failed product (Odeo) that lived on past the product failure to become an  easy  means to send out a group text message. Back then, the cool things about Twitter were being created by its users. [Most obvious example: @ChrisMesinna  (not the actor) who is responsible for the #hashtag.]

Rather than repeat any more of those 10,000 words, I’ll stop there and say, Twitter is best when you realize it now belongs to someone else, someone who tomorrow could decide that the #hashtag should be a ~tilde or the star should become a heart.

Twitter is now like professional football.  Imagine if all football was eight years ago was (hash)tag football played in a parking lot and today it had to be the NFL, a $billion business that has to make money from huge advertisers and fans who just want to see the game and buy a hot dog.

People say, “professional sports are no longer about the game, they are just part of the entertainment business.” But people who are really fans of a specific sport or team can find a way to peer through the hype and corporate greed and recognize that somewhere buried in all that crap, the game still exists.

Bottomline: Like it, or favorite it, Twitter belongs to the people who own it, not the people who use it. The people who run it will keep trying to “fix” it so the owners will like it. The people who use it will put up with all those useless “fixes” if they can recognize that it’s still tag football under all that crap. If they don’t see the game, they’ll use it to promote what they are doing somewhere else that’s more fun.

Why Customers Are Willing to Pay Not to See Your Ads

The current Hammock Idea Email explains how and why ad-blocking isn’t just a browser plug-in hack. Blocking ads is also a multi-billion dollar business. It’s based on the notion that advertising doesn’t always need to be at the transaction intersection when dollars are exchanged for content. Oftentimes, customers become so overwhelmed by the crush of ads on the internet and traditional media, they are more than willing to pay media companies for the chance to view (listen to, watch, read) ad-free content.

And many media companies have learned that there are billions of dollars in potential revenue in allowing people to pay for ad-free content, rather than subjecting them to personalized ads or the sheer magnitude of ads that appear on a web page.

Here’s a link to a web version of the email..

This is RexBlog, not Rex Block

Typically, I think it’s amusing when I discover something named Rex. (Like hotels, for instance.) This isn’t one of those times.

It doesn’t sound good. (However, it does sound like a great name for an ad-blocking app.)

News Item (via: CNBC) | Hurricane Joaquin and Rex Block to Bring Life-Threatening Floods

Explainer | [via: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (PDF)]

In meteorology, blocking happens when centers of high pressure and low pressure set up over a region in such a way that they prevent other weather systems from moving through. While the block is in place other systems are forced to go around it.

Blocks can remain in place for several days, resulting in monotonous weather for locations under the block.

The “rex block” is named after Dr. Daniel F. Rex, who discovered and analyzed the pattern in 1950. Dr. Rex was a Commander in the Office of Naval Aerology and one of the founding members of today’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Rex blocks are characterized by a high pressure system located immediately north of a low pressure system. These systems are usually analyzed aloft, around heights of ten to twenty thousand feet above the ground.

Air circulates clockwise around the east and south sides of the high to the north, and then turns to the south to go around the west and south sides of the counterclockwise-turning low to the south. Because the flow of the air is basically north-south, there is very little eastward progression of the system.

Rex Block Weather

Unsettled, stormy weather is usually found near the low pressure while dry conditions are typical with the high pressure. Strong, particularly persistent rex blocks can cause flooding in the southern part of the block and short-term drought in the north.

(Thanks: Lewis)

Yogi RIPsum

( Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series — but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms — died on Tuesday. He was 90.

As the 12 readers of this blog already know, “Lorem Ipsum” is dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Basically, it is gibberish that sort of looks like Latin. That makes sense, because creative types in the design and publishing field often refer to these latin-looking words as “greeking.” And by, “that makes sense,” of course I mean, “that makes no sense.”

As I have learned from a lifetime of presenting concepts to clients, if you don’t greek copy, the client will read the copy and say, “I don’t understand the copy.” By using Lorem Ipsum dummy text, the client will know it’s just represents a place where copy will be.

That said, I have long thought that “dummy text” didn’t need to be boring and unreadable. It’s just needs to be dummy.

So I decided to entertain myself by putting together Yogi Ipsum: Dummy text for the easily amused. It is comprised of quotes made by or attributed to Yogi Berra, the legendary New York Yankees catcher and noted wordsmith.

In honor of Yogi (who I learned this morning was in the U.S. Navy during WW II and at age 19, participated in the Normandy invasion), I’ve decided to share Yogi Ipsum with the 12 people who read this blog:

Yogi Ipsum Cut-and-Past Content Generator

As you will note, each block of the following Yogi Ipsum gets longer. Don’t feel like you’re over using them until you’re over. Also, some of these are Yogi-isms and are attributed to him, but can’t be sourced. However, about those he said, “I really didn’t say everything I said. Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know.”


Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours.

I knew the record would stand until it was broken. I looked like this when I was young, and I still do.

I really didn’t say everything I said. Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know. If people don’t want to come to the ballpark how are you going to stop them? If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be. When you come to a fork in the road, take it!

If you ask me a question I don’t know, I’m not going to answer. What Time Is It? You Mean Now? If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there. It gets late early out there. It’s déjà vu all over again. Little things are big. Ninety percent of this game is mental, and the other half is physical. Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded. I really didn’t say everything I said! We made too many wrong mistakes. You can observe a lot by watching. He was on a passenger jet at the time, so he was not sure in which time zone he was.