To Infinity and Beyond

This is one of those events that seem historic in a galactic sort-of-way


While I’m not one to blog about NASA findings, this is one of those events that seem historic in a galactic sort-of-way. We can meet back here in 80 light years (out-and-back trip) and see if I was right or not.


(VIA NASA.gov) NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

The Optimization of ‘Huh?’

A picture I took recently in a Vermont general store. The boxes orchestrated my optimal interactions.

A national organization comprised of marketing executives just sent me and thousands more (I guess) an email inviting me to watch an online presentation they are hosting.

The title of the presentation starts:

“Orchestrating Optimal Interactions…”

There were lots more words in the presentation title, but I couldn’t make it past those first three.

Shouldn’t marketing executives speak English (or whatever their native tongue might be)?

I suggest they rename the presentation, “How to sell stuff.”

Why Clinton Lost | Firewalls Don’t Work

Firewalls don’t work.

(Note: My “stay positive” attempt)

The most brilliant observation of the state of the nation was the SNL Black Jeopardy piece with Tom Hanks. People have described the election as being one of “insiders vs. outsiders” or “urban vs. rural.” There is truth to both of these observations (and the skit captures the urban vs. rural — spot on).

We live in a land of great diversity. It’s our strength. It’s one of the things that  makes us special.

But when you live in a land of diversity, it’s far too easy to hang labels on people because of our clichéd perceptions of them based on where they live or what they wear or the lifestyle they exhibit.

If I were running a major political party, I’d be looking at the world through the glasses of the Black Jeopardy / Tom Hanks filter and try to figure out how we can take the strength of America’s diversity to address the negative aspects of that diversity.

Clinton lost the election at the point where her frustration led her to say something that confirmed what the people who ultimately elected Trump believe: She views them as deplorable. (Granted, Trump said more heinous things in a day that most people will in a lifetime.)

Below, is a link to a recent Hammock Idea Email that explains the “backfire effect,” how presenting people with the facts can result in them not only disbelieving the facts, but will cause the result opposite of your intention.

Building firewalls around small groups is never the pathway to success. Finding ways to communicate how we are similar, when everything in our gut tells us we’re not, is the pathway to success.

Idea Email: What the Loyalty of Voters Teaches Us About Marketing

Maybe, Sorta, Kinda

At some point, a predictor must predict.

My friend Dave Winer suggests that the polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight.com is engaged in some link-spamming effort with an article carrying the headline, “Trump is just a normal polling error behind Clinton.”

I agree.

I’ve been fascinated with the challenges Nate Silver & Co. have faced in trying to convince an audience to stay engaged in a process that has been like a year-long version of the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

In addition to trying of make the presidential election  a series of daily swings (who’s winning in Hillsborough County, Fla., today?), Silver and those sites that have tried to mimic his approach, all flunked the Republican Primary race–caution now permeates each article and podcast. Every few days, Silver runs a story on why anything that sounds definitive should be taken with a grain of salt.

Silver’s mea culpa after the Republican nominee set the stage for his summer and fall of providing endless butt-covering explanations of the many ways Trump could win, despite having only a 30% chance of doing so.

Silver’s most difficult challenge recently has been crafting new caveats.

But at some point, a predictor must predict.

 

God Bless Ameri Khans

What are the odds of there being two men named Khan who, in the same week, did amazing things to teach millions of people lessons about American history and government? And I’m not talking metaphorically. I’m talking actual history like the kind that is taught in lessons and books.

Here are the two Khans I’m talking about.

Sal Kahn, founder of Khan Academy

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In this photo, Sal and Kim Kutz, U.S. history fellow at Khan Academy, are celebrating the successful completion of an Indigogo project to raise funds for American government and politics resources. The project closed last week, raising $569,341 and crushing their goal of $300,000.

Here’s what is being funded by the project:

$300,000 | To create government and politics resources for high school students.
$200,000 | To fund Social Studies content for middle schoolers
$68,341 | To expand our content library to include more new topics.

“Together, we’ve raised funds to help us bring free resources on these critical topics to millions of learners. We truly couldn’t have done it without you,” Khan said on the Indigogo project page.

If you don’t know about Sal Khan and Khan Academy, the story is an amazing testament to the reason America is blessed to be a magnet for people from around the globe who yearn to breathe free in a land that promises opportunity. Khan is a second-generation American, born in Metairie, Louisiana. His father, Dr. Fakhrul Amin Khan, is from Barisal, Bangladesh, and his mother, Masuda Khan, is from Murshidabad, West Bengal, India. Sal and his elder sister were raised by his mother.

Khan attended MIT, graduating with degrees in mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science–Oh, and he was class president his senior year. Later, Khan earned MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and worked in an MBA from Harvard Business School during his spare time.

Khizr Khan. father of the late U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan

Amazon_Best_Sellers__Best_BooksMr. Khan not only spoke eloquently and with great impact, about the supreme sacrifice his son made in service to his country, Mr. Khan inspired a run on the sale of pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution. For nearly a week, the Constitution has been the #2 best selling book of any type on Amazon.com — second only to a Harry Potter release.