How Will You Repay Your Debt To Humanity?

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What legacy will you leave to mankind? Your answer may very well depend on how one asks the question. Be warned. The particular framing of the query I just posed can lead you mistakenly astray.

What’s the difference between the lead question and the question in the title?

Take a look at them both. How do the specific words used make you feel when you read them? What does “leaving a legacy” conjure up in your mind versus “repaying a debt”? And how does your picture of “mankind” contrast to what your mind sees when reading the term “humanity?”

It’s all about connotation, not denotation. Denotation means the raw dispassionate facts. Connotation favors the emotion. And, being a human, emotion rules. (Sorry to all you Continue Reading “How Will You Repay Your Debt To Humanity?”

Why I Started To Write

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I’ve seen this quote all over the news lately. Funny thing, but I remember the quote and not the news story that prompted its use. The quote is from Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. In it, Bill asks how Mike went bankrupt. Mike responds with the now literary meme, “Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”

It turns out this “gradually then suddenly” concept applies to a lot more than bankruptcy. Think about how the Roman Empire fell. This applies both to the OG empire centered in Continue Reading “Why I Started To Write”

Simple Summer Mornings In The Years B.C. (‘Before Chili’)

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If the summers of Dortmund Circle were filled with sports of all sorts, flingable fruit filled the summers of Abbott Parkway. That wasn’t the only difference.

While nearly all the kids my age on Dortmund Circle were boys, girls dominated the peerage on Abbott Parkway. There were a lot more kids on Abbott Parkway, in part because the street was twice as long. That length also changed our venues of play.

On Dortmund Circle, all us guys lived within a few houses of each other. Our playing fields (mostly the street and our driveways) lay right outside our doors. Given its substantial length and the location of most of the kids, Abbott Parkway presented a different avenue to fun.Continue Reading “Simple Summer Mornings In The Years B.C. (‘Before Chili’)”

My Life With AI—Part I: Early Geekdom

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The lure of artificial intelligence (or “AI”) enticed me. But let’s not get ahead of the story.

For reasons that aren’t important right now, I spent my high school years channeling my inner Spock. Relying on logic to drive your life rather than the vicissitudes of emotion made things quite amazing. Today we’d call it going down rabbit holes. Back then, I merely explored wherever my curiosity took me.

“Hold on!” you’re saying, “isn’t ‘curiosity’ an emotion?”

Well, some psychologists might agree, (see Litman, “The Measurement of Curiosity As a Feeling of Deprivation,” Journal of Personality Assessment, 82(2), 147-157). Spock merely uses it as a statement of fact. In Episode 26 of Season 1, “Errand of Mercy,” in Star Trek—The Original Series, he says, “It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want.”

There is an intersection between Litman (who says curiosity is a “motivation”) and Spock’s use of the term. Think of what happens when you hear a strange noise on the other side Continue Reading “My Life With AI—Part I: Early Geekdom”

We’ll Always Have Paris… How The Business of Sequels Destroyed America’s Youth

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They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. That may be true, but it is also the greatest impediment to progress.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a certain business sense to imitation – and I don’t mean outright theft of intellectual property. I’m referring to the “variation on a theme” that has become a successful marketing trope since well before Beethoven, Bach, and The Beatles.

Companies use the goodwill (and good publicity) generated by a top selling product, give it a tweak here and there, then come out with a “new” product that borrows heavily from the theme of the original. Rarely, however, does this sequel product ever reach the heights of its predecessor.

Here’s an example. Following the tremendous success of Continue Reading “We’ll Always Have Paris… How The Business of Sequels Destroyed America’s Youth”

Star Trek Into Darkness Review: Man Enough to Admit the Truth

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Here’s the good news: My daughter and her college girlfriends went to the New York red carpet premiere for one purpose: to leave with a picture of themselves with Star Trek Premire Red CarpetChris Pine. They succeeded. As for the movie, with the exception of my daughter, none of them had ever seen any of the many versions of Star Trek available in this universe and, in fact, openly declared their dislike for science fiction in general. After seeing Star Trek Into Darkness, they emerged as fans. They couldn’t believe how great the movie was. They were bubbling with excitement, eager for the next sequel.

That’s what they call “expanding the constituency.” It’s a marketers dream come true, and no doubt one of the reasons Paramount partnered with J. J. Abrams for the Star Trek reboot.

But I’m part of the original constituency – the one dating back to Star Trek: The Original Series (a.k.a. “TOS”). For my part, I fulfilled my dream merely by Continue Reading “Star Trek Into Darkness Review: Man Enough to Admit the Truth”

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