Friday, November 30, 2012

Grantland Friday

Here is an attempt at a new feature. I first blogged about Grantland about a year and a half ago, and my devotion has only grown.To say that I read Grantland pretty regularly is an understatement. Honestly, Mrs. Kid is probably sick of (but also probably getting used to) the idea that about half of the conversations I initiate begin with some form of "So there was this article on Grantland that was really funny or interesting...."

Anyway, this first entry is about the regular columns I read on a somewhat regular basis:

Lists of more specific articles (especially the really informative features) will come, but this list has many of the recurring columns I follow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crazy Compensation

Here are a few articles about compensation/finance/economics:
As I've said before, I have no problem with people making a ton of money. What bothers me is when people make money that is way out of whack with the value they bring to their organization and/or society. Kobe Bryant makes millions, but he has performed at a high level for a long time and is a major part of why the Lakers have won multiple championships and why the NBA makes so much money. Sergio Marchionne deserves his millions for bringing Chrysler from bankruptcy to profitability. He helped save a company, and thus tens of thousands of jobs.

On the other hand, just as there are pro athletes who bring no value to their teams in return for multi-million dollar contracts, there are corporate executives who make a ton of money for either presiding over a failing company, or successfully gaming the system. My theory is that most people aren't bothered by people making a ton of money if they bring value. What gets people annoyed is seeing some no-talent at the end of the bench who will make more in a year than the best 2nd grade teacher in the country will make in her career. Similarly, people hate to see a CEO make millions for driving a company to ruin.

As an economy, we should find ways to drive down the number of people who make tons of money without providing commensurate value.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Luckiest Guy Around

I'm a really lucky guy.

Not everyone is lucky enough to find a person with whom they want to share their life. Mrs. Kid and I have entered a phase where we are finding that some friends and family had marriages that didn't stand the test of time. As I said in Marriage and Your Inner Economist:
When we focus on love, commitment, and partnership, happiness seems to flow. As we successfully work as a team, we get positive reinforcement that makes for a happier relationship and thus leads to less stress and more happiness. I love Mrs. Kid and I love our partnership. She makes me happy not because she has to, but just because she does. Does she make me happy 100% of the time? No, but I love her 100% of the time and am happy about the commitment I made. 
Today is our 18th anniversary, so I think we have a pretty good idea of how well we work. I've had 18 years of the greatest thing that could happen to me. I'm sure I don't say it often enough, but I know that I am incredibly lucky to have her.

As lucky as I am, Boy and Girl Kid are also lucky (or is that a curse?) to have parents who agree on just about everything that matters. We have similar visions for our life together, and for our kids. That sort of simpatico on the stuff that matters seems to be kinda rare, but I am lucky to be a part of it.

Everyone should follow Joseph Campbell's sage advice: Follow your bliss. I'm lucky to have Mrs. Kid as my bliss.

And here is the first song we danced to on that lovely late-autumn day:

It was a wonderful way to begin our life together.

Music Monday: Good Covers

Some covers of well-known songs made me smile recently.

First, the Beastie Boys and Biz Markie made me laugh out loud with an Elton John cover:
Benny and the Jets

Then, Gnarls Barkley covered the Femmes:
Gone Daddy Gone

After which, the Femmes covered Gnarls Barkley:

That last one might be the greatest cover of all time. It's right up there with Iron & Wine's cover of one of my favorite New Order Tunes:
Love Vigilantes

Covers and remixes make me happy. Coming soon: Good Remixes.

Luddites: Fearing Technology's Impacts for a Long, Long Time

I've been reading "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" by James Gleick, and in it, he has a quote that I had to dig a little deeper on. Here is a slightly longer version of something Gleick quoted:
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in [this technology] will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom,....
So, who was this Luddite railing against technology? Though this could easily be my mother or father, it was actually Socrates in Plato's Phaedrus. He was warning of the perils of written language, just as others would eventually complain about the printing press and then radio, film, TV, and every other transformative information technology.

What's funny is that I had already captured this quote and saved it in a blog draft when I read a FB post by one of my fraternity brothers in which he said:
"He seemed to think that [...] statements might be accepted without the test of dialogue -- of people asking ʻIs this really true?ʻ" Some Luddite skeptical of the Internet/Google/Wikipedia? No, Plato skeptical of literacy. (Quote from Joan Acocellaʻs piece on the history of female literacy, in "The New Yorker" 10/15/12 issue.)
Anyway, I had connected this thought to my thoughts about My Life, My Crutch, but this issue is broader. This isn't just about how each of us do or don't use technology to manage our daily lives. This is also about education. What skills do we need to teach? What does it mean to be educated, and how does that definition change over time? 

In Plato's time, you could be considered educated even if you were illiterate. In the 1970's you needed to know how to read, but could still be considered well-educated if you had no clue about how to use a computer. What about now? More importantly, what about 10, 20, or 30 years from now?

Note: I am not trying to wade out into the depths of the battles about whether technology is making kids worse students. New York Times has Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say, which does wade out into those scary waters. I just think the changing nature of what it means to be educated is an interesting thing to keep an eye on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Life, My Crutch

Boy Kid is working on his organizational skills. He's not particularly good at keeping track of his assignments and projects and stuff like that. Honestly, he's in 6th grade, so his life isn't that darn complicated, but he needs to start learning how to manage information well.

When I was a student, I struggled with the same things until I started using a weekly planner to track all my events and tasks. It became such an important device, that the little black book (actually a new one every year) became known as my "Life." I still have several of my Lives on a shelf in the basement. Looking through one is an amazing stroll down memory lane. They have names, phone numbers, events, places, concerts, and so much more. I think it's time for Boy Kid to create and use his own Life.

In the mid to late 90's, my Life was replaced by a Palm Pilot PDA.
In the mid aughts, my Life moved to a blackberry.
Now, my life is in the cloud and is accessible from my Android phone, my tablet, or my computer.

Over the years, there have always been people who looked askance at my crutches. They think I am being intellectually lazy. Why can't I just remember dates? I should take the time to memorize my parents' phone number. I should use my brain instead of relying on technology.

Honestly, my brain ain't all that great. As a wise man once said "A man's got to know his limitations." My choice is between a crutch and total disorganization. I choose the former, and am fine with sharing that choice with Boy Kid.