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Using Brainpower in Complex Times

Our brains are nodes of enormous networks to help us be creative, thoughtful, and powerful

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“How to Think: Managing Brain Resources in an Age of Complexity” by Ed Boyden in Technology Review (2007) is a brilliant article, excerpted and paraphrased here:

When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called ‘How to Think.’

“This class would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules.

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10 Tips for Better Thinking

1. Synthesize new ideas constantly. Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read.

2. Learn how to learn, rapidly. Be able to rapidly prototype ideas. Know how your brain works.

3. Work backward from your goal, or you might not reach it.

4. Always have a long-term plan, even if you change it daily.

5. Make contingency maps. Depict everything you need to do, on paper, and to discover which things depend on other things.

6. Collaborate.

7. Make your mistakes quickly. Document what led to the error, to learn what to recognize, and then move on.

8. As you develop skills, write up best-practices protocols.

9. Document everything obsessively. If you don’t record it, it might have no impact on the world.

10. Keep it simple. If you can spend two days thinking of ways to make it 10 times simpler, do it.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

‘Anti-Racists’ are Racist: Do Not Apologize for Being White

‘Anti-racists’ claim that whites, by virtue of their skin color, are detrimental to society

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Ibram X. Kendri, the bigoted professor from Boston University and director of their Center for Antiracist Research, says that whiteness is a problem for all of society, indeed for the entire globe. Who knew?!

Kendri, who was included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, seemingly knows a lot about white people. In fact, he professes to know about every white person in America if not all over the world.

Me? I’m one of those people who merely gets up every day, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, eats a decent breakfast, and goes to work. I had no inkling that in the U.S. and other western nations white people like me had been “socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white.” How naive I have been all these years!

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Now I discover that to be “less white” is a virtue! It requires one to be “less oppressive, less arrogant, less certain, less defensive, less ignorant,” and, more humble, more willing to listen, more willing to believe, and, get this, “to break with the apathy” that white people like me exhibit and “to break with white solidarity.”

Woke Institutions and Brainwashed Authors

White solidarity? Darn, nobody told me about this. Thank goodness it’s all become so clear thanks to enlightened (white) authors such as Robin DiAngelo, who wrote the thoroughly racist and condescending book White Fragility, and thanks to companies such as Coca-Cola which have the foresight to impose programs for its white employees, to be less white.

When there’s a challenge in front of me, I actually do strive to find the right answer, particularly something related to numbers. I will collaborate on occasion, but most of the time I prefer to figure out things for myself, aided by the “all-knowing” Internet.

Am I arrogant, oppressive,  defensive, or ignorant? No one has ever brought this up. Being white, however, I guess I can’t help it! I don’t seek to inhibit the success of others, but I’m now informed that by virtue of my skin color I am detrimental to society. Mea culpa!

The Anti-Racist Racists

With Coca-Cola and other organizations teaching white people to be less white, I’m wondering, will the sequel be how Asians can be less yellow and Indians can be less brown? In America, both groups seem to excel academically. Perhaps only domineering Caucasians, particularly 60+ white males like me, however, are the ones upsetting the apple cart all over society.

Was I given a free pass for the last 40 years? I mean, all the while nobody mentioned my whiteness as a social and cultural problem. My black friends from Little League, high school, various hiking groups, and other groups around town haven’t said squat. So, up ’til now, presumably, I was doing okay. Perhaps they’ve merely been nice to me while whispering behind my back.

Heeding the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought our common goal was to live in harmony and to reach a state of color blindness where people were judged by the content of their character and not by their skin color. Hmmm…  I guess that is no longer in play.

I’m wondering, what would MLK conclude about today? Would he speak up against the propensity of the Left to define everybody else by class, sex, or race? Would he be opposed to pitting young against old, rich against poor, black against white, rural against urban, male against female, and all the other phony dichotomies that the Left relentlessly promulgates each day?

Absurd From the Get-Go

Imagine the unending uproar if someone drew up a list of how hundreds of millions of black people all over the world could become “less black.” The  absurdity of regarding all white people, hundreds of millions of them, as having a general set of characteristics, let alone having those characteristics be detrimental to society, is the grand facade of the ages.

How long will “woke” organizations maintain this illusion? Have they been coerced to the point where they’re afraid to say, “This is ridiculous, and needs to stop now”? [Actually, they have been coerced.] Will decades pass before we see the end of this malarkey?

I do not apologize for being a white person, just as no person of color has to apologize for their ethnic background, skin color, race, or religion. If you’re a good citizen who respects the rights of others, that, my friend, is sufficient.

Morgan Freeman, who played God in the movie Bruce Almighty, wishes we would do away with Black History month and merely have history. Freeman also wants us to stop regarding individuals as black and white and simply let people be people. Amen to that.

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Education

Did You Stay 33 Feet Away From Everyone?

Once even a bogus rule is put in place it’s difficult to eliminate it

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This Christmas, did you stay 33 feet away from everyone? I didn’t think so. How about six feet, does that seem more reasonable? Guess again. Once a rule is put in place it’s difficult to eliminate it even though the original reasons for its generation are long gone, according to author Roger von Oech. His prime example:

In the 1870s the leading manufacturer of typewriters at the time received complaints that too many of the typewriter keys were sticking together if the operator went too fast. In response to this, the company produced the QWERTY type keyboard — a configuration standard on all keyboards — to slow down operators so that the keys wouldn’t jam together.

Today, technology permits us to produce typewriter keyboards that can operate much faster than any human could possibly type, such as Dvorak keyboards, but the QWERTY configuration still dominates and likely will for the foreseeable future. Concurrently, six feet of social distancing is a farce, held over from some bogus rule years ago.

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Anthony Fauci should know better, but he has been compromised and corrupted in so many ways, and has lied so often to Congress and the media about his projects and funding objectives, that his advice and proclamations are valueless; actually less than valueless. A cough or a sneeze, even through many types of masks, can travel 28 to 33 feet.

The nugget for us all: introduce new rules, new regulations, and new procedures carefully, and scientifically or analytically monitor their long term effectiveness.  Otherwise you’re selling snake oil.

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