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February 14 2014


February 09 2014


Episode 205 – Rick Big Runner Training | RunRunLive

The RunRunLive Podcast Episode 205 – Rick Big Runner Training Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. epi205 Show intro by: Russ in Dutchess – Russ Porter – http://www.breakfastmiles.blogspot.com/ Husband, father, financial analyst, runner, triathlete, Scout leader; I try to fit it all into the 24 hours that the day gives me. I’ve been running for about 11 years, including 5 years spent overseas in Spain and China. I’m now back to the US for at least a few years, and looking forward to running throughout the country, while raising my children. Although I’m a relatively slow runner, I like to race at many distances (5K to marathon), mainly to keep my training up and manage my weight. I’ve run 6 marathons in the US and abroad, and plan to keep up as long as my knees allow.   RunRunLive – Podcast Intro http://www.runrunlive.com/home/read-the-runrunlive-podcast-intro Intro: Hello and welcome to the mid-winter solstice edition of the holiday chorus podcast where we raise our voices in cheerful harmony in praise.  In praise of what?  In praise of the endurance gods of course because this is the RunRunLive Podcast and this is Chris your host and we have a superdy duper show for you today. I’m a little late getting this one out because I’m on vacation, if that makes any sense.  I had a confluence of activities going on this week and I’ve had a hard time getting to the keyboard. Today we talk with Rick a fellow endurance athlete who shares his stories of challenge and triumph.  I hope you like it.  I’m also going to share a post I wrote today about my physical therapy experiences and I’ll read you a story from my second book “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy” that I just converted and posted to the Kindles store yesterday.  I’m a Kindle menace. I also stole a clip from Peter Herridge again and his Spikes podcast.  I was wondering why I found Peter’s voice so sonorous and comforting and then I discovered that he is a funeral director – so it all makes perfect sense now. I’ve been working on stuff around the house, going to PT and working out a ton this week.  I’m kinda-sorta base building and coach has me doing double sessions.  I’m still not running but I’m spending many long hours at the gym on the bike, the elliptical, with the weights and in the pool.  Frankly it’s exhausting.  I’m not sure I have the bandwidth for 2 hours a day of training.  Kinda blows the whole day, unless you start at the crack of dawn and then you’re a zombie all day. I also went and gave some nice people at a bike shop a few hundred clams to do a computerized bike fit on me.  It turns out the Fuji is a little long for me, but it was actually fit fairly well.  I’m half-heartedly looking at getting a new bike but it just seems like such a commitment of time, money and emotion. I also unpacked and started putting together my new fluid trainer only to find that they had sent me a broken skewer.  The skewers I have – that’s the metal axle thingy with the quick release that holds the back wheel of your bike on – the ones I have are all square.  The trainer clamps want a round ended one.  Nashbar is shipping me a replacement, but that was a bit disappointing. I’d prefer to be doing all this stationary bike riding in my own saddle and not on the stationary bikes at the gym.  I’m scaring the hell out of the old people doing intense interval sets for an hour plus. I had such big plans when the week started. I was going to get so much done.  It seems time is a river and it has run dry on me. Did my last PT this week. Going back to see Dr. Hester again.  I’m debating jogging a 5k on New Year’s day – it’s a bit of a tradition.  The heel is better, but I can still feel it. Next week back to work. Happy New Year! Don’t bring me a figgy pudding.  Bring me a shrubbery! On with the show! Audio clips in this episode: Peter  Herridge on Zen running. http://www.runrunlive.com/products-page/midpackerslament RunRunLive » Audio Products » MidPackersLament » The Mid-Packer’s Lament Audio Book   It took me a few months…but I kept at it and now can present to you The Mid-Packer’s Lament Audio book.  This is ~50 running stories read into audio by the author (me) and ends up being 6-8 hours of audio. The Mid-Packer’s Lament is a series of short stories on long distance running, racing and the human comedy inherent in all sports enthusiasts.  This is the perfect book for runners and wannabe runners.  There are stories about training, eating, special places and special races.  There are stories about the accidental athlete in all of us and the stupid things we do for even amateur endeavors.  Whether you are a weekend mid-pack runner or a competitive club runner, you’ll find something thought provoking and amusing that you can relate to in the Mid-Packer’s Lament. Hope you enjoy consuming it as much as I enjoyed recording it! Ciao, thanks, and I’ll see you out there. Chris,   Skits, commercials and parodies in this episode: Story time: Equipment Check: Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy story. I wanted to include this piece because I re-read it this week while putting the kindle version of this book together.  It struck me as really nice prose.  It has nothing to do with running.  It is more of a traditional ‘altered state’ piece like Kesey, Casteneda, Thompson, or Henry Miller.  It’s amazing to me the beautiful things that the mind burps out when unencumbered by the ego, while the parents are away –so to speak. Enjoy.   Featured Interview: Rick – http://www.bigrunnertraining.com/ Welcome To BIG RUNNER TRAINING ​I’m Rick Roberts. During the past 15 years I have received much obesity guidance, but very little related to walking or running while overweight or totally out of shape. Prior to embarking on my personal walking and (slow) running journey, I weighed nearly 300 pounds and had high cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure levels. Medications were plenty. To say the least, I was dissatisfied with my situation. Maybe my former situation rings a bell with you. Several years ago, I slowly walked a 5K to raise funds for a good local cause. At the walk, I chatted with several other overweight/out of shape individuals who had trained on their own (no training guidance was available for us ‘larger’ or ‘out of shape’ folks).  All spoke of feeling healthier and losing weight during their training period. It was at that 5k that I developed a vision for improving my situation. Through trial, error, and research, I then developed a process to change my situation. The process involves walking and running slowly at first, for short distances with plenty of days off. The rest is history. I’ve completed over 70 road races and 11 marathons to date, and by 2017 will have completed a marathon in each of the fifty states. If you are dissatisfied with your present situation, you are within a few clicks of changing your life! Let me share with you my vision of improving your life and the process to make it happen, all through our reasonably priced You Can Do This!! training programs and products. I did not start Big Runner Training for financial gain –I started it to help you! – You Can Do This!!   Quick Tip: Physical Therapy – Pokin and proddin at the PT – http://www.runrunlive.com/pokin-and-proddin-at-the-pt Outro: Ok my caroling colleagues, you have sung your way through the snowy, festively be-decked neighborhood to the end of yet another RunRunLive Podcast Episode 205 in the can. Next week I think it’s an interview with Linda Quirk who has set up a charity similar to Back on my Feet.  We had some Skype challenges but I think Jim the executive viceroy of podcast editing studies at the RunRunLive institute of technology has worked them out. I’m going to jog a 5k up at the Hangover Classic on New Year’s Day.  Then take my traditional plunge in the Atlantic.  They are saying that they got their act together since last year when the race was horribly managed.  It’s hard with a 30 year old race like that.  They have a life of their own and when you have a leadership team transition things can go sideways. We have these old races up here that are going to happen.  They have a life of their own.  You can’t cancel them you can only try to get the timing right! I got another project done.  I converted the second book of running stories “The Mid-packer’s Guide to the Galaxy” to Kindle and got it up on the Amazon Kindle store.  Since this one is only an electronic book there are pictures and lots of other goodies in it. It covers the timeframe of 2005ish through 2008ish. I know I’ve been throwing a lot of stuff at you folks recently.  To summarize: My first book of running stories “The Mid-Packer’s Lament” is an honest to goodness dead tree book available on Amazon that I published in 2007.  I recently converted it to kindle, and you can find that on Amazon.  I also spent the last year reading it into audio – and you can get that on my website www.runrunlive.com under the audio products link.  And finally the second compilation of running stories “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy” got converted to Kindle this week and is available at the Amazon Kindle store. Apologies if you’re put off by my mercenary outbursts – but rest assured this is a hobby not a  business.  At least not a viable business.  I do it because I have daemons in my head that force me to.  I have a whole other really interesting career that puts bread into the mouths of the little Russells.  I get maybe a couple hundred bucks a year from these books and such which does not even move my profit motive needle. I’m exhausted from working out 2 hours a day.  I feel like I’ve been living at the gym.  Then taking the dog for a 1-2 hour hike every day – makes my available time window for value add pretty tight.  I suppose I should focus on the things that I have gotten done versus the things I have not.  Maybe I’m just too good at list building versus task resolution! … Which brings us to our New Year’s thoughts.  I think people are too task based.  That’s a game you can’t win.  I think you set yourself up to fail every time you sit down and make a list of tasks.  There will always be more tasks that NEED to be done than time to do them in. What many people will do when confronted by this overabundance of tasks will try to sort out and filter on those tasks that are really important or really urgent.  This is also a trap.  For at least two reasons.  The first being that there are typically more urgent/important tasks than you can accomplish.  The second being that most of these tasks get their urgency from someone else. If you really look at the tasks they don’t seldom align with what YOUR goals or purpose, you have inherited someone else’s urgency and importance.  The net result is that you are going to focus all your wonderful human spirit and energy in getting things done that don’t get you anywhere and aren’t making you a better animal. It’s interesting because you can always find enough tasks to keep you busy and stressed out, but you aren’t really choosing those tasks and hence aren’t driving your own bus and guess what?  You’re abdicating your life to some other arbitrary set of hamster-wheel activity. This is how you can get to the end of a 12 hour day and feel like you haven’t gotten anything done. There’s another reason you never get everything done.  It’s because you treat everything on your to-do list as a task.  What you will see if you look a little closer is that many of these tasks are actually projects.  A task can be accomplished with one discrete act of energy – like “set up an appointment with the Dr.” “Write a book”, “Clean the house” and “lose 10 pounds” are projects.  They involve multiple discrete tasks that have to be managed discretely.  When you treat them like tasks on your to-do list you set yourself up to fail.  When you write down your to-do list separate out the projects into a different list.  They need to be planned separately. Why am I telling you this?  Well because a number of you are going to try to set New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t know what a resolution is supposed to be but whatever form it takes unless it turns into a set of manageable discrete tasks and projects with goals and timelines you can’t get to them. But THAT isn’t important either.  THAT is Management.  Management creates order from chaos.  You need VISION and LEADERSHIP.  Vision and Leadership create chaos from order and this is the first step. You should not attempt to set goals or resolutions or projects or tasks until you decide what your purpose is.  You need to know the ‘why’.  Once you have the ‘why’ then the how is simply management. If you have your purpose you can then hold up each new task or project for review as to whether it aligns with your purpose.  In this way everything you do, day in and day out, moves you towards fulfilling your purpose.  Each task list you go through fills you up instead of emptying you. Don’t think about goals.  Don’t think about resolutions.  Don’t think about what you need have to do to make someone else happy or to avoid pain.  Think about why you are here?  What are your unique gifts?  What fulfills you?  What rocks your world?  What is your purpose?  How are you able to add value, to enrich our world? Don’t expect to find instant answers.  To live is to seek purpose.  You won’t find answers but you will find the succor of owning your own life…of driving your own bus…of not being a victim. It’s always easier for me to get my workouts in because they align with my personal needs and goals. Seek your purpose in the New Year.  And I’ll see you out there.   New-Outro … You can find me ruminating on Twitter, Facebook, DailyMile, YouTube – and Google as cyktrussell that’s Chris yellow king tom Russell with two esses and two ells. You can ruminate with me by dialing – 206-339-7804.  Leave a message there it sends an audio file. Make a resolution in the new year to call in the show intro- today we heard from Russ in Dutchess – I always thought his twitter handle was the Russian Dutchess and I figured, hey whatever floats your boat  So who knows what I’m assuming about you. Call in a in a show intro. It is in the show notes and on the web site –- you will find all the other content on the website www.runrunlive.com All the music today has been from Jim Laskey’s choral group.  It is a nice change from the usual punk rock madness. Happy New Year, Ciao, … Great news my running friends – my book of running stories “The Mid-Packer’s Lament” is now available in Kindle format at the Kindle store on Amazon.com!  Just search on “Mid-Pack”.  It’s a bargain at an easy $5 and all proceeds go towards supporting the underfunded pension plan of the retired cleaning staff at the RunRunLive world headquarters. I recently got a kindle myself and I love it.  It does reading very well. The Mid-Packer’s Lament is a series of short stories on long distance running, racing and the human comedy inherent in all sports enthusiasts.  This is the perfect book for runners and wannabe runners.  There are stories about training, eating, special places and special races.  There are stories about the accidental athlete in all of us and the stupid things we do for even amateur endeavors.  Whether you are a weekend mid-pack runner or a competitive club runner, you’ll find something thought provoking and amusing that you can relate to in the Mid-Packer’s Lament. Music: From Podsafe: All music used in the show is from the Podsafe music network found at Music Alley.  Please support the starving, socially minded artists sampled herein by purchasing some! Song1 Song 2-3 Outro music: Outro Artists Bio: Bio:www.RessurectedRunner.com Standard Links: http://www.runrunlive.com http://www.runeratti.com Http://coolrunning.com http://Grotonroadrace.com http://SQRR.org www.midpackerslament.com Cyktrussell At gmail and twitter and facebook and youtube Chris’ book on Amazon – > http://www.amazon.com/Mid-Packers-Lament-collection-running-stories/dp/141961584X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228687012&sr=8-1 Mid-Packer’s Lament E-book Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy E-Book Dial in number for RunRunLive is – 206-339-7804 Chris Russelllives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad. Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com Running  Podcast, podcasts for running, podcast for runners, free podcast for runners, Running Blog, marathon, triathlon, mileage, sprinting, run, track, training, running clubs, running groups, running shoes, exercise, health, 5k, running, swimming, sports, injuries, stretching, eating, jogging, biking, trail race, 5K, 10K, Ultramarathon, jogging a good exercise, road runner, jogging tips, benefits of jogging, free running, running shoes, marathon training, running, jogging, health and fitness, runners, runner, Boston qualification, Marathon BQ, Boston marathon   http://www.runrunlive.com/episode-205-rick-big-runner-training
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January 30 2014


Asana: Productivity is sexy again - Chris Van Patten

A while back (in the second episode, in fact) I covered the productivity/todo list app TeuxDeux, a delightful tool that helps you manage your todo lists, with a focus on only essential features. I still love TeuxDeux, but as my team and business has grown since then, I needed to upgrade to something with more power. Enter Asana. Asana, a free and powerful productivity tool for individuals and teams Asana is a delightful, downright sexy (gasp!) solution for teams and individuals looking to level up their task management. It’s all in the “cloud”, and you can access your tasks from anywhere—phones, desktops, and tablets. Asana lets me track tasks that need completing, assign them to team members, discuss the tasks, and more. You can set deadlines, add tags, subtasks, and so much more. As always, the audio and transcription are below. Asana: Productivity is sexy again — Audio player Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 5:44 — 5.3MB) Asana: Productivity is sexy again — Transcription Hello and welcome to yet another episode of Wrapp Up. This week I want to talk about productivity apps, the one that I’ve chosen to use specifically. So if you’re a listener of Not a Real Job, which is my other podcast with my pal Joel Kelly, if you’re not you should be. If you are, you might remember on a recent episode, episode 12, which is free on the Not a real Job website – you can google that – we talked a little bit about our productivity apps and what we use to manage our to-do list. One thing that I mentioned was I was having a hard time finding an app that I could use with my team so I could keep track of projects that my team was working on for me or different tasks that they were handling and things like that. However, I found one, quickly after I started googling around and asking for recommendations in that podcast episode and found Asana. I’ve used Asana before, maybe a year or two ago, right around the time that it first opened up to the public. And it was okay, but I didn’t really get it. And the reason then is because I was mainly working on things by myself. But now with the team Asana makes so much sense. Basically it is a shared to-do list that you can do with anyone, whether they have their own task list or anything like that, they can integrate very easily into the Asana workflow. So members of my team, even though they might be tracking their own tasks separately, this is a way for us to all to go, dive in head first, and manage things together, basically the concept of teams, which are different groups of people working on certain projects. For example, I have a Van Patten media team and within that team I can have a bunch of projects. So I’ve got projects for client work, things like our server workflow that we’re working on, things like that. They each have their own project and I can invite my team members in per a project or the whole team to see everything that the company is working on. I go with that later approach. I just let everyone see everything. So we’re on the same page. If there was an instance where I had a one-time contractor come in, I can easily just say they can only see this project. So you create these projects and then you go and you just add bullet point to-do items. It’s super easy. They’ve got tons of keyboard shortcuts and it’s all very natural. You type your to-do list, you hit Enter, and it starts a new one. Backspace is going delete that to-do item. So it’s awesome. And then you can also do even more with these to-do items. You can add in a due date. You can put tags in there. Each to-do item can actually have sub to-do items. You can have maybe a big task like “Finish the design for the media page” and then within that that’s going to be a separate task, a subtask, “Work on the photo section,” “Work on the video section,” or whatever the case might be. You can do file attachments and you can comment on these items, you can provide a description, so you’re basically building many discussion areas and many multimedia areas around specific tasks in your to-do list. That’s so cool. Already I’ve only been using it for a couple of days now relatively speaking but I already find that I have a much better sense of what’s going on in my company. You can assign tasks to people. So I can say a certain task “I want this to be handled by my assistant.” Great, I can go in there, type her name in the box and it’s super easy. She gets a notification. I get a notification because I’m following that task. So it will show up in my to-do list inbox every time she adds a comment, or marks it finished, or uploads a file there. That will show up very easily. It’s also great because it integrates with email, so if you’re already a big email user and you do you everything in your inbox Asana can send you notifications and you can reply to to-do items directly from your inbox. It’s so great. You can manage your own stuff for your personal projects, your company’s projects. It’s just super fantastic and it’s easy. They’ve got a bunch of iPhone apps out there using their API. I like Tappsana, T-A-P-P-S-A-N-A, but there are a lot of choices out there. So that is Asana, give it a look. Asana.com. A-S-A-N-A.com. Now I still use to-do teuxdeux.com for some of my own personal things, but I am finding that I’m switching into Asana more and more when I have these personal projects that I want to work on. It’s just nice to keep things a little more organized. So I recommend checking out Asana. It’s super fast. It’s 3 up to 15 users. Really it can’t be beaten. All right, I’ve been Chris Van Patten. This has been Wrapp Up. http://www.chrisvanpatten.com/asana-sexy-productivity

January 23 2014


Brad Frost – Creating Responsive Interfaces » UIE Brain Sparks

Atomic Design as a solution for creating responsive interfaces.

January 14 2014


Episode 66: Michaela Watkins


BG 296: The Trojan Horse of Meditation » Buddhist Geeks

Podcast: Download Episode Description: Meditation teacher Kenneth Folk joins Vincent Horn, Emily Horn, and Kelly Sosan Bearer to conclude a Geeks of the Round Table discussion on a recent Wired article, Enlightenment Engineers, that profiles Kenneth and the Buddhist Geeks as part of the developing meditation culture(s) in Silicon Valley. The group talks about Ken’s plan to enlighten the Illuminati with a Meditation Trojan Horse, whether or not there is a “right motivation” for maintaining a meditation practice, and how this all relates to the popular assumption that meditation should be free of a goal-oriented approach. This is part two of a two part series.  Listen to part one BG 295: Meditating to Get Ahead. Episode Links: Enlightenment Engineers Kenneth Folk Transcript: Vincent Horn: You know, Kenneth, I’m thinking about another conversation that we had earlier. I’m thinking also about the Wisdom 2.0 conference, which we went to earlier in the year. What’s so interesting is it seems pretty clear that much of Silicon Valley shares a certain kind of lens, certain kinds of assumptions. It’s a culture, and everyone buys into the culture. There’s a power behind that, obviously. It’s a culture of innovation. It’s a culture of entrepreneurship. At the same time, I’m sort of thinking of in Star Trek, the Borg. The Borg were this creature who just went around and assimilated everyone into their unit and assumed, OK, this is the most superior way to be, is to be a Borg and to have this collective hive mind. They just went around, whether the autonomous beings wanted to be part of it or not, it didn’t matter because they needed to be assimilated. I see something similar in this article. It’s like here’s what we’re doing, this meditation thing. We’re talking about objectifying the subject. Yet what comes out in the “Wired” article makes it sound like what we’re really doing is teaching meditation so that you can enhance your productivity and wealth. I just see the Borg, the Borg of that culture trying to assimilate these certain kinds of things. The question it brings up for me is as meditation teachers or as meditators who care about this stuff, do we one, say OK, meditation’s really valuable, and if people engage with it, it’s like a Trojan horse. If people engage with it, then maybe they’ll get involved in this ramification process, and they’ll start objectifying their own assumptions. Why not just let it be assimilated to a certain degree, kind of like a virus? Let the virus be injected into the system. The question is should we do that or should we push back and say, “Hey, wait a second. We’re actually dealing with different values here. Let’s actually have a conversation or a dialog about what meditation really is. and how it’s changing, and what kinds of values and assumptions are you having that may not be that helpful from this point of view?” One of ours, Hokai, he often talks about these lenses as sort of revealing certain things, but then concealing other things. There’s obviously so much power and influence and money in Silicon Valley. If they’re going to start using meditation to help whatever they’re doing, should we just give it to them without asking any questions? Or should we push back and say, if you’re going to use this, we’re going to have to have a conversation about what this is really about. That’s going back to the values question. I feel like that’s really important. I know that’s not what you’re doing, Kenneth. You’re working with people, but you’re having these kind of conversations, I imagine. Kenneth Folk: Right. In the article, it talks about how Luke Nosek, one of the PayPal founders, and now venture capitalist, very successful in San Francisco, he sponsored me to come out here to teach meditation in San Francisco. We had a plan. It’s a plan that I call enlighten the Illuminati, and Luke was totally onboard with this. Enlighten the Illuminati. If we can help some of the most influential people in the world to get a clue that’s the phrase that comes to mind for me. Notice that’s based on my value systems. I want them to get a clue the way I think I have a clue, so there is. I will cop to that. I think if they did, if they could realize some of what I consider to be the real benefits of meditation, so seeing experience as process, which I think is the very essence of awakening. The compassion and empathy that often come as a package with that, and by the way, you can train specifically for compassion and empathy. That would be under the larger umbrella of benefits of meditation. It would be great. I think it would be great if the people who run the world love meditation, and love the benefits of meditation as I do. This has been kind of a stealth move the whole time, because no matter what I say, the tech people I talk to think that this is a meditation tool. I keep telling them I don’t know that it is, but they still think it is. Vincent: A productivity tool? Kenneth: Sorry, a productivity tool, right. [laughs] All I can do is keep saying what I think the real benefits of meditation are, and kind of sneak it in there as I’m being assimilated by the Borg. Vincent: [laughs] Something David Loy who’s a Zen teacher, asked recently. He said if mindfulness is a Trojan horse, what’s Troy? I think that’s a really good question, because I think we assume that Troy is what we’ve experienced as the benefits, but I’m not so sure that that’s what they’re going to actually find. Like you’re saying, there is a momentum behind these assumptions that’s really powerful. The “Darth Vader” move, as Ken Wilbur put it. The Darth Vader move is always possible. [laughs] You can always use whatever power or force that you’ve developed in service of something. I think meditation in that sense, it’s not completely value free maybe, but it doesn’t have an inherent set of values either, obviously. That’s sort of my concern. You’re right in the heart of dealing with that question, so props for going right into the illuminati den, and hanging out, and partying, and teaching meditation with the Silicon Valley folks. I think what’s cool about it is you’re not avoiding the situation, and just immediately discounting that whole culture. I’ve seen that’s a move that a lot of Buddhists, traditionalists, make. It’s like, “Oh, they’re evil, the corporation, media, whatever. Therefore we just aren’t going to mess with them.” I think that’s also weird. That’s a weird cop out. Emily Horn: I’m listening to this and my heart just feels really tender. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to go into meditation with the intention that it will create more productivity. I also feel like my motivation for practice has changed so many times throughout the last 11 years. It’s like I almost have such a deep trust in the process that I feel people will find different avenues for exploration. I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to voice that. Going back to the different lenses of meditation, it’s like there almost has to be a fluidity that gets developed. OK, so maybe I am viewing it through the productivity lens. Five minutes later maybe it can switch to the awakening lens. Five minutes later it maybe it could shift to this deeper compassion, and wisdom lens. I feel like that’s one of the things that if we keep going at it through this lens of productivity, eventually, that has to wear itself out. We can look at our culture now, and we see the devastation that we’re causing through that particular lens. I guess my genuine hope is that Silicon Valley, and all of us can really even start to examine our lenses. I’ll put that out there. The other thing I want to voice is that the article, and I can hear it some in our language here, is very masculine oriented. It’s goal driven. I have that. I want to be good. I want to succeed at the same time with this fluidity of taking different perspectives. I think there is an opportunity for us to hold both the goal orientation, and this more relaxed ebb and flow, trusting process of meditation. I just want to put that out there. Kelly Sosan Bearer: I’m a big fan of, “Whatever it takes to get to the cushion.” I don’t know if this is right or wrong. Whatever it takes to get you to the cushion, then from that point really exploring your motivation, and your assumptions, and your desire for practice. I think if that exploratory process is going on, I feel really good about whatever it takes to get there. [laughs] I just feel like there’s an inherent process that the person would go through to even go deeper into their own assumptions about why they’re on the cushion at all. My main motivation for practice has always been to suffer myself less, and for those around me to suffer me less. [laughter] Kelly: That’s never changed. That’s been true from day one. It takes different forms. It looks different. It feels different, but at the end of the day that’s always been. I don’t want to suffer myself anymore. I don’t want others to suffer me. Yeah, it’s a question. What do you guys think? Is there a right motivation? We have right livelihood, and all these things. Is there a right motivation? I don’t know. Kenneth: I don’t see that there’s consensus among either people today, or among the great teachers throughout history. I don’t see any consensus about why you should meditate. It’s even a little bit mysterious to me how we even are able to group all these practices together. It’s almost as though we’re saying anything that involves sitting there cross legged, and not talking for a while is all of a piece. It all should go under some particular heading, and I don’t know, maybe so. But in the Upanishads you had people wanting to get to certain blissful states. That was as just as good as it got. Sit there and bliss out and die. Then the Buddha had his own version of his cosmic suicide club, so for him not even good enough to sit there and bliss out you have to become a Buddha and then die. Only then will it be good enough for you, because you won’t be suffering anymore, which actually most of us don’t relate to that very well at all as far as I can tell nowadays. Most people want to have more of the Mahayana version of this. We want to have life and relationships and meaningful work, and we want to awaken. Something I wanted to follow up on that Emily said, this idea of masculine and feminine motivations. A more feminine approach would be it’s not goal oriented, just, I don’t know, see what happens, and there’s a lot of instant freedom in that. Oh, OK [laughs] , I can even relax from having to get ahead. That is good. Then there’s the more goal oriented approach, how much can I master meditation, which would, I suppose, be the more masculine approach. In the article, Vincent and I have talked about this before, in the article, Noah Shachtman, the fellow that wrote it, assumes something. He framed it as though the default position going back forever was mediation must never be goal oriented, but that’s not true. If you look at the earliest texts that we know of in Buddhism, which are the Teravada texts, the dying words of the Buddha were said to be, “Strive diligently.” It’s a very famous saying in Southeast Asia, “appamadena sampadetha” in poly, “Strive diligently.” Why? Because you have to awaken in this lifetime. That’s the gig. This idea that the traditional meditation, traditional Buddhism, is all about not being goal oriented, it turns out not to be true. We see those themes all along the way, theme and counter theme. I saw a bad surfing movie a long time ago, and there was one good scene in the movie. There were some competitive surfers, world class competitive surfers, having their competing on the beach in Hawaii, and then about half a mile from them also surfing were another group of non competitive surfers. The non competitive surfers, who were also, by the way, great surfers, said, “Those guys there, they’re kind of immature. They’re over there strutting and trying to defeat each other, but we call ourselves soul surfers,” and it was understood that the soul surfers kind of the had the moral high ground there. I think that’s fine. There are always going to be some people that just do it for the love it, and in some cases achieve excellence anyway. There are also going to be people who are going to want to compare and compete, and have some metrics for success, and their whole thing is about gaining excellence. I think it’s all good. Emily: Yes. I just want to make sure that when bringing the feminine and the masculine, I feel like I keep getting this Zen phrase, not two, but one, not one, two. It’s like I feel like where we’re going as a collective and this is a broad statement is some sort of integration between those two approaches, where the Buddha said, “Strive. Give enlightenment,” whatever he said, Kenneth. I don’t remember exactly, but then the other part of the relax, accepting that freedom is here readily available in this moment. I feel like there is a balance between those two that can even be seen externally in our culture that we are exploring the edges of, and I feel like that is a really important exploration for our culture to go through, especially because we tend to preference one side of it, and that’s just been tradition. Vincent: Sort of to tie what you guys are talking about back to the original question of values, I’ve been reading a really good book called, “Leading From the Emerging Future,” by a guy called Otto Scharmer, and I think he’s friends with John Kabat Zinn, and there’s sort of an influence from the whole mind movement there. But he talks about sort of the downsides of the infinite growth model in terms of our economy, and the systems that we use. We’re using probably about 1.5 planets worth of resources for the 1 planet that we have right now, and that seems to be just increasing. It seems like the mindset that gives rise to that is the, like you’re talking about, Em, the imbalance, or when someone is just all about growth and development. About their growth and development, about making more money and maximizing ROI and the single minded focus on sort of pushing one or two particular things forward. If we do that like we’ve done with economic growth, then the problem occurs because we don’t exist in this infinite system, where there’s an infinite amount of resources. We have to stop at some point and consider how our striving diligently at whatever we’re doing is affecting the systems or the broader contexts that we exist within. For instance, when I was started off meditating, and I was super, super charged about getting enlightened, and I was talking to you, Kenneth, and Daniel Ingram, and you guys were saying, “Hey, this is possible. You don’t have to think of this as this esoteric thing that only these old dead dudes achieved.” That for me was awesome. Yet Emily can attest that during those first few years I was sort of alienating her, judging her for not having the same motivation, getting competitive with her. Acting like I was more enlightened than her [laughs] , and it’s like, yes, it really helped for me to focus, and yet I was from the outside probably just this really obnoxious asshole [laughs]. It’s just really interesting to think about those two sides. As I’ve learned how to relax more I think I’ve probably become a little bit more pleasant to be around when it comes to talking about meditation and things like that. Just curious about how that plays out on an individual level, and then also how that plays out on a collective level. It seems like we can’t completely separate our individual tendencies and patterns and habits from our collective tendencies and patterns and habits, that they’re sort of tied together. Maybe even to the point where the future of humanity really depends on our being able to deal with this on that level so that we can make sure we’re not just going off in this infinite growth direction and not considering the whole, which is itself a movement of compassion and care, and recognizing our limitations, which is also part of that. For me, it’s been part of that. Being able to let go is related to being able to recognize my limitations, that maybe it’s OK that I don’t achieve the highest state of whatever [laughs] , that I can just enjoy my life a little bit, too. Anyway, just some thoughts to bounce off what you guys are saying, which really appreciate it. Kelly: Yeah, the whole neti neti, not one, not two. You see it in Zen as well, and it’s quite the paradox and the contradiction, where on one hand, it’s like redouble your efforts. Then it’s like have few desires, but have great ones. [laughs] There’s this striving, striving, striving, but then if you’re are going to strive, make sure it’s the most epic striving ever and really narrow it down to just one awesome thing and go for it. [laughs] Vincent: At some point, you have to step back, right, and see OK, now that I’ve strived really hard, and I’ve achieved… Kelly: Nothing. [laughter]Vincent: …this thing. Yeah, this nothing. Now where do I go from here? Kenneth: For me, that’s part of the joke, this constant iteration, coming back to ramification, always putting myself back at the tippy top of the tree, and realizing all of the things that I’ve thought I had achieved were just dead branches going off to the side. What has become compelling is being in the flow of it for its own sake. I want to see what’s next. Nothing else is satisfactory to me. Stagnation doesn’t cut it. I was thinking you can take any of the very loftiest of goals. Even compassion, a lot of people talk a lot about compassion, and I do, too. That’s actually just one of the things that if you put the paint on the leaf, it’s going to go off to the side. If you become obsessed with compassion and stop objectifying the subject, well, great. Now I’ve just created a new identity as this person who’s always compassionate that turns out to be a phony deal. Everything has to be objectified constantly in order to keep moving. Vincent: Where are we moving, do you think? Kenneth: I don’t think the moving goes anywhere predictable. It’s movement for movement’s sake, so just this flow because stagnation hurts. Vincent: You don’t think we’re moving towards something, like some sort of omega point or going up in light in the singularity, if enlightenment? [laughs] Kenneth: A global shift in consciousness? Vincent: Oh, yeah, right. Kenneth: That has never made any sense to me at all. I don’t see that we’re inevitably going anyplace like that. If you look at history, there will be cycles. The idea that everybody is going to magically become enlightened has been predicted so many times in history and it just never happens. The pervasive peace, love, dope era doesn’t come. Ramdas had a great quote about this when asked about the new age hypothesis that it’s going to get better and get great. He said at any given moment, there are some people waking up and there’s some people falling asleep. Kelly: I imagine they balance each other out. [laughs] Kenneth: So far. Vincent: I feel like this has been a productive conversation. [laughter] Kelly: I feel we reached our goal. http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2013/09/bg-296-the-trojan-horse-of-meditation/

January 13 2014


CSI: 19th-Century France and the Birth of Forensic Science: Scientific American Podcast

More Science Talk The Man Who Wasn't Darwin: Alfred Russel Wallace on the Centenary of His Death 11/7/13 Perv-View: Jesse Bering's New Book PERV 10/29/13 Subscribe via RSS iTunes Podcast Transcription Steve Mirsky:       This Scientific American podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, your source for audio books and more.  Audible.com features more than 100,000 titles including science books like The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr and sci-fi like Extinction by Mark Alpert. Right now, Audible.com is offering a free audio book and a one month trial membership to the Scientific American audience.  For details, go to Audible.com/SCIAM.  S-C-I-A-M. Welcome to the Scientific American podcast science talk posted on March 15th, 2013.  I am Steve Mirsky.  On this episode - Douglas Starr:     The late 19th Century was a blossoming of all forms of science from anatomy to chemistry to bacteriology, and this started coming together in the minds of some scientists as a way of solving crime. Steve Mirsky:       That’s Douglas Starr.  He’s a veteran science writer and co-director of the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University.  He’s also the author of the 2010 book, The Killer of Little Shepherds, subtitled A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science which I’ve wanted to do an episode about for quite a while.  Starr was interviewed by my friend, Steve Berkowitz, a New York City storyteller and an instructor with the Moths Community Education Program.  Steve is also a reporter for Story Collider Magazine which explores the intersection between science and narrative.  So, without any further adieu, here’s Steve Berkowitz talking to Douglas Starr. Steven Berkowitz:         Doug, why don’t you tell us the story of Joseph Vacher? Douglas Starr:     Joseph Vacher was basically a psychopath before people knew the term psychopath.  He grew up in a farm in rural France, early on had clerical tendencies.  And he was sent to a monastery but then sent away for, at the time, undisclosed reasons. He went into the army where, for a while, he did well, although he was somewhat brutal in his command of his other soldiers, and then, as often happens with psychopaths, he fixated on a woman in 1893.  He met her in a park, dated her a couple of times, and her instincts told her that this was a problem. And when she tried to extricate herself from him, he followed her to her hometown, and eventually, after seeing - shot her and himself.  They both survived, and he was sent to a couple of mental institutions where they thought they cured him, and several months after that, he embarked on the worst killing spree known at the time. I should say his killing spree,  he admitted to murdering and dismembering 11 people.  He probably killed more than twice as many. Steven Berkowitz:         Why is it we have never heard of this guy? Douglas Starr:     I think his story didn’t come down to us because, in the end, it was solved, and he was executed, whereas Jack the Ripper remained a mystery. Steven Berkowitz:         Can you tell us the story about Alexandre Lacassagne? Douglas Starr:     Yeah.  What interested me in this period was it was really when forensic science, as we know it, was born and developed.  The late 19th Century was a blossoming of all forms of science from anatomy to chemistry to bacteriology, and this started coming together in the minds of some scientists as a way of solving crime.  And Lacassagne was premier among these scientists.  He founded something called the Institute of Legal Medicine in Lyon, and he was the first among equals among a cadre scientists who were using the tools of modern science to solve crimes. So he and  his colleagues developed almost everything we think of as forensic science, and what was so exceptional about Lacassagne was, in addition to doing all that, he was interested in why people became criminals.  So, every Sunday, he would stroll from his offices to the other set of Lyon to the old prison, and he would spend the morning with criminals.  He would talk to them, and he would help them keep diaries.  He was really interested in the criminal  culture and what made people behave like this. So it was an extraordinary period of solving crimes and an enlightened approach to understanding the criminal, and this man was really the first among equals. Steven Berkowitz:         Why haven’t we heard of Lacassagne either? Douglas Starr:     It was interesting because, after the book came out, I got a number of emails and letters from modern forensic scientists saying, “Finally, somebody has written about our hero,” but I do not know why we haven’t heard of him.  I think, in part, a lot of that period was lost in the cast of World War I. But, really, once I came upon this person and realized what an enlightened person he was, I almost felt a sense of mission to bringing him back from obscurity.  Steven Berkowitz:         So did your decision to tell this story start with Lacassagne then? Douglas Starr:     One day, in desperation, I was in the basement of the library at Harvard Medical School going through some old historical journals, and somebody had written a thesis on the Vacher case and some of the implications.  And from there, I started reading the works of Lacassagne, and I realized I really wanted to write about him, but in order to make it drama, it would be good center it around the most challenging case faced. So it was sort of a decision to look at both of these characters.  To be honest, I really enjoyed writing the chapters about Lacassagne, and the chapter about Vacher really made me wince. Steven Berkowitz:         Can you give us an idea of some of his violence, maybe tell us why those were painful chapters? Douglas Starr:     Vacher’s method was he was incredibly strong.  He would stalk people.  He was a creature of the rural areas and of the hill country especially, and one of the other things I did was actually follow in his footsteps.  I went where he went, so I could describe it. But he would usually find a shepherd or a shepherdess and creep up on them or get them close and grab them around the neck with such force that they almost went limp and then he would stab them and then he would sexually abuse and eviscerate the bodies. Lacassagne wrote a manuscript on the case, and even looking at the line drawings was disgusting.  The crime scenes were so horrific that sometimes they would traumatize the entire village.  An entire village would have PTSD and kind of go nuts.  It was so horrific. Steven Berkowitz:         One of the things that really struck me about this book is sort of the tension between how much information was actually gathered.  I mean it still exists for you to do the research versus how poorly it propagated. Douglas Starr:     You mean in those days?Steven Berkowitz:         Yes, in those days. Douglas Starr:     Very interesting stuff.  The science was there.  The mass communications was there.  People had the telegraph, but folks hadn’t caught up to the technology that they had.  So, in the big centers - I mean in Lyon, for example, Lacassagne had his criminal  museum, his autopsy lab.  It was an amazing thing. They saved it fortunately, and there was one in Paris and one in Vienna and one in Berlin.  But big parts of Europe were rural, and anybody committing a rural crime could  pretty much get away with it.  They just didn’t have the kind of communications that they ought to have, and he took advantage of that.                            You know, I think we had this situation where science was roaring ahead in the major centers, but it just did not get propagated.  Sometimes, you’d have these rural doctors doing autopsies, but it would be in a drizzly winter’s night in the middle of the field with lamplight and trying not to cut themselves.  So the disparity between the frontiers of science and the practice of science were really quite great.  Steven Berkowitz:         I’d like to talk a bit about the science - the state of the science as it was and what Lacassagne and others, that were working at the time, brought to the idea of forensic science.  I mean, in a way, it’s sort of the start of the modernization of forensic science. Douglas Starr:     It was.  The previous was just to accuse and torture or have - they call them agent provocateurs have squealers, and these guys felt that the evidence should tell the story. So Lacassagne himself did a few things.  He really systematized autopsies.  He famously said, “A bungled autopsy can never be undone.”  So he had these things called observation pages, basically what we would call a checklist, and he would teach his students and anybody he could come in contact with that here is the series of things to do in an autopsy.                            You open the skull.  If you see this, you proceed that way.  If you see this, you proceed the other way and you fill this out, and it was incredibly scientific.  He learned things like how to tell the size of a body from the leg bone, how to tell the age of a body from the size of the spaces between the growth plates.  This was at a time when criminals knew that, if they dismembered the bodies, the police could never identify them.  He did a huge study of scars and tattoos.  His colleagues studied teeth.  Until then, teeth were just considered chomping machines, but his colleague, Mageto, figured out that teeth themselves have growth cycles not only in the tooth itself but in the patterns of teeth that come in.  And this was very effective because, if all you had was a head, you could use the teeth to estimate the age. His colleague Magnine was the one who determined that squads of insects will populate a corpse in waves, and you could use insect populations to determine how long a goad body had been killed.  This is something that’s practiced today. He colleague Orpehla practiced toxicology, what you could chemically analyze, what kind of poisons may or may not have affected the people.  They analyzed things like carbon monoxide poisoning and how that would kill somebody.  One of the big things, at the time, was this question of identity because a recidivist could commit a crime, be jailed, have a record taken, even a photograph taken, go away, get a new tattoo or shave a beard or shave his head and commit a crime again. So the big question, at the time, is how do you identify somebody?  They didn’t have fingerprints, and one of Lacassagne’s colleagues in Paris named Alphonse Bertillon, whose family was - were anthropologists, came up with a system, after years of monkeying around obscurity, in which he measured 11 parts of the body, say one of the finger joints or from the knuckle to the elbow or the size of the head, and he found that - if you took a number - a combination of these 11 measurements, it would rule out suspects to the tune of one in four million which is almost as precise as anything we knew.  And this became known as the Bertillon numbers, and the practice became known as Bertillonage, and, if you look in my book, it’s diagrams of how they did this. So a person would come in and they would take these 11 measurements, and thee Bertillon numbers would be put on a card which would follow this person for the rest of his life.  Now what made this interesting was not only was this a positive ID, but by using the telegraph, you could send somebody’s Bertillon numbers across the ocean at the speed of light which meant, for the first time in history, a person’s criminal record down to his precise identity, could arrive at his destination before he got there, and this became used in international criminal pursuits.  It was absolutely brilliant.  Eventually, it was replaced my fingerprints. One of Lacassagne’s most famous discoveries was bullet markings.  An old man had been shot to death.  Lacassagne was called in on the case, and he looked at the bullets.  Some hit bone and some stayed in flesh, and he was struck by the fact that they all had similar markings. And, until then, it was assumed that, if a bullet hit a bone, it would be marked a certain way.  So he called in an expert from a local munitions company, and he explained the notion that there are these rifling grooves or spirals in the barrel of a gun and that gives a bullet a mark. So a young man in town was suspected, and a gun was suspected.  So Lacassagne took the body and the gun and some ammunition to his laboratory in Lyon, and times being different then, he could simply call the hospital next door and say, “You know, I need a 78 year old body.”  And they sent it over, and he took the gun and he shot it in soft tissue and bone.  This is - things were a little more rough and ready then. And he discovered, under a microscope, that all the bullets had similar traces.  He then would get one of his students - because he ran a graduate program, he got one of his students to do a survey of all the bullets know.  I think it was 35 at the time, and thus was born the theory that you could identify a bullet by the rifle marks. So this was the kind of science that was going on, and it was simply extraordinary.  Not only did they look at how does the evidence tell what kind of crime was committed but also what might be going on in a criminal’s mind to cause them to behave this way. Steven Berkowitz:         What strikes me about the science of forensics is not just the sweep of different sciences involved.  It’s you can divide those into things that happen before death and things that happen during death and things that happen after death.  Or somewhere in the book, you talk about death as a pivot point. Douglas Starr:     Lacassagne and his crew understood that, after you die, the immune system shuts down and all the bacteria that are kept at bay flourish, and this is what causes what we know as putrefaction when the body begins to swell and turn colors.  It’s just the production of gasses and colors by the different bacteria, and that gas will often cause blood to push out a wound that previously had stopped bleeding. So they really were able to understand that, by looking at a body very carefully, you could begin to divide those things that happen to the body before death and those that happen after death.  For example, when a body is laid in a certain position after death, because the heart is no longer working, the blood settles by gravity, and it makes purple splotches on the area that touches the floor. After awhile, this stays in place.  So there was a famous case in which a body was found in a trunk, and the woman claimed that he was accidentally put there.  Lacassagne saw that the splotches were on top of the body and not on the body which meant the person had been forced into a position and killed and then turned.  So these were the kinds of things that were so helpful. Steven Berkowitz:         So it’s not just forensic science that is changing here.  It’s also police methodologies, and I think that perhaps the story of Fouquet and his role in the Vacher case will illuminate that. Douglas Starr:     Yep. Steven Berkowitz:         Can you tell us a bit about Fouquet’s role?  Douglas Starr:     There was a magistrate in a rural part of France named Emile Fouquet.  He was very ambitious and very smart, and there was a gruesome murder committed in his district.  And he looked at it, and it now bore the telltale traits of what we now know as the Vacher killings. And he seemed to recall reading about a similar killing in another part of France.  So he put together what’s now called a rogatory letter in which he said, “I had this kind of a killing.”  He sent it out to 85 districts all over the country because Vacher wandered all over the country, and he said, “Has anybody had similar killings,, and if so, can you give me any kind of descriptions?” So people began telegraphing back, and Fouquet started making two charts which was probably the first criminal profile ever compiled.  On one chart, he had all the telltale signs of the killings, strangled, eviscerated, body was in this position, and in the other chart, he had any fragmentary descriptions of the suspect because people would always see some sort of a vagabond wandering through towns. In a blue pencil, he started circling similar descriptive pieces, and he came up with this description.  And it went out, and time went by.  And eventually, among his many, many assaults, Vacher assaulted a woman who was out collecting chestnuts in an  area called the Ardeche, and her husband was nearby.  And he came, and he tackled Vacher, and a furious fight ensured.  And the villagers came, and they subdued him, and they had him arrested. Now most police were really negligent about reading their telegraphs, but the cop in the little village in the little jail read this description from Fouquet.  And he wrote back to Fouquet, “I’ve got somebody who might fit his description.”  So the police bought Vacher to the little jail where Fouquet works, and he  then began a several month period of question that probably ranks as one of the most brilliant interrogations in criminal history.  Steven Berkowitz:         It’s not just in the way that Fouquet actually tracked Vacher down but he represented an evolution in police interrogation methods as well.  You were taking earlier how it used to be drag in the usual suspects and beat them until somebody talks.  That’s not what Fouquet did was Vacher.  Is it? Douglas Starr:     One of the advances was a deep understanding that you do not get the truth out of people by torturing them, and one of the most famous jurists at the time, Hans Gross of Austria wrote an entire manuscript on how to interrogate people and how you should not lose your temper and how you work the person up to a sense of comfort and you go over the story.  You rehash the story.  This is now known as the cognitive interview which is currently the state of the art in police interrogation.  But Hans Gross and his colleagues figured this out and that you worked the person up.  You go over the story again to trip them up if they’ve made something up, and as Gross wrote, the person eventually feels the need to unburden himself to you.  So Fouquet was a student of modern methods, and instead of torturing Vacher, he brought in witnesses.  He discussed.  He talked.  He couldn’t get anywhere, and he realized that Vacher was a cunning man and he was a tough nut.  So Fouquet took a different approach.   He said, “You know, I’m very interested in this culture of vagabonds,” and I should mention that, at the time, there were hundreds of thousands of unemployed rural people wandering around and they were known as vagabonds.  There was terrible unemployment. And Fouquet, in fact, was writing a book about vagabonds and their patterns of immigration, and he said, “I’m writing about vagabonds.  It’s going to take a few days for the paperwork to clear.  I know you're innocent, but I could really enlist your help in understanding vagabondage.  So how about, if each day we meet, and we talk about your wanderings?” And Vacher was skeptical, but Fouquet showed him his files and so they began to work as collaborators.  By now, Fouquet had a list of all the suspected killings in every region of France and the details and the times.  So each day, they would begin talking, and he’d say, “And where were you then?”  “Oh, I went to this village, and here’s where I picked strawberries and here’s where I picked peaches , and here’s where I did farm work.” And as Fouquet described it, Vacher would be talking, “Oh, I was in _____ at this time,” and it would go ding in Fouquet’s head.  Yep.  That’s where that killing took place.  So, over the days, he was able to elicit from Vacher a precise map of where he was and what he did, and he built a very, very strong circumstantial case. And then, finally, after many days of interviews, he went into Vacher’s cell, and he completely changed his affect.  Instead of being colleagues, he said, “Joseph Vacher, I accuse you,” and then he went through, almost in one sentence, “This murder on such and such a date, this murder and, on this murder, you killed this girl.”  And he wrote that Vacher was shaken.  He almost collapsed.  Several hours later, when Fouquet’s eating dinner, there’s a knock at his door, and the it’s the guard, and in his hand is Vacher’s written confession. Steven Berkowitz:         So Vacher is now in custody.  He’s now confessed to the murders, and the next step is the trial and that’s where Lacassagne comes in again. Douglas Starr:     Yes and now here’s a problem because Vacher’s confessed, but his confession is so incoherent that Fouquet knows that he’s going to make it on the insanity defense, and he knows this is his strategy because this is a time when the insanity defense was getting going.  It had happened a few decades before, and people knew, if somebody was a raving lunatic, he didn’t kill the person.  His symptoms did. But Vacher’s really going for it, and after weeks of cross-examining him, Fouquet now realizes he’s in over his head, and he brings in the world’s most famous forensic scientist, Alexandre Lacassagne.  Lacassagne interviews Vacher for three months.  He brought him to St. Paul Prison in Lyon, and despite the fact that there was never a criminal that wouldn’t warm up to Lacassagne, Vacher never did. Lacassagne had this humane approach, a respectful approach.  It never worked.  So that’s when he decided to let the evidence tell the story, and he went back to the forensic evidence and reexamined it and organized it brilliantly.  And the forensic evidence showed that these crimes were committed with method, and even though Vacher claimed he went into an insane rage, which he probably did, the approach to the crimes was so systematic and the cleanup and the exit was so clever and his ruse were so carefully planned that he was able to prove to a jury that this man, although psychotic,  was not legally insane. Now this trial  went on for three days, and it was an absolute circus.  It was covered internationally.  It made the O.J. Simpson case look like pedestrian stuff.  It was a mob, and they had to have army battalions outside to keep out the crowds.  And the judge constantly had to call them to order, and after three days of chaos - and, of course, Vacher dressed up in a very bizarre way and did everything he could to incite people. And when Lacassagne came in, there was this feeling of calm, and Lacassagne actually wrote papers on how should a medical examiner dress and behave and address a jury with dignity but not in an oversimplified way and respect people’s intelligence.  So there was just something about the man that inspired confidence and calm. And he was questioned, and, one by one, he went through the killings, holding up autopsy drawings, showing the crime scenes, how methodically these crimes were committed and how similar they were to each other.  After that, it really was an open, shut case.  The jury found him guilty. Steven Berkowitz:         The question of legal responsibility versus legal non-responsibility came up a lot in the trial, and so the question Lacassagne was addressing was whether he had the capability to plan these murders and knew what he was doing at their execution. But there’s another tack about responsibility and that falls into the nature, nurture debate.  Lacassagne following more on the nurture side, if you will, and he had something of a nemesis. Douglas Starr:     Yes.  The other great criminologist was Cesare Lombroso in Italy who’s actually more widely known, and Lombroso really felt that crime was genetic.  And he did huge numbers of studies looking at the skulls of criminals and the statures of criminals, and he would testify in murder trials based on somebody’s appearance, that this guy is a born killer. There was a famous criminal conference in Rome in 1885 that was so gruesome that women and children were  kept out.  People from all over Europe had exhibits, and Lombroso had exhibits of the skulls and skeletons of criminals with little anthropological signals showing he - this indicates he has a criminal type development and a criminal brain. And Lacassagne showed up with charts, and he correlated crime with crop yields and poverty and lack of education.  He was a tremendously enlightened man, and yet, he did believe in the guillotine for real killers.  But this was the birth of the nature, nurture debate that’s with us today. I should also say it was the birth of the question about the localization of brain function, and as you know from reading the book, after the trial and the execution , the controversy did not go away and then the great anatomists of Europe dissected Vacher’s brain to see was there something in there that caused him to do these things. Steven Berkowitz:         Not so much dissected it, it seemed, but sliced it up like a Christmas ham and gave it to everybody who wanted a piece. Douglas Starr:     Everybody wanted a piece.  It was the crime of the century.  It was the crime of the century, and the conversation and controversy went on for months as one group after another produced a paper on here’s what we found in our part of the brain and here’s what we found in our part of the brain. And, as you know, this kind of thing is going on today, but instead of dissecting the brains of psychopaths, people are doing MRIs to find if there is something in the structure, and they’re finding some disturbing results.  But this whole discussion about is there a localized moral seat of the brain started back then. Steven Berkowitz:         Despite some people speaking up at the trial on behalf of Vacher not being legally responsible, did Lacassagne’s view hold sway? Douglas Starr:     Yes.  To read the transcripts and the follow-up appeals was fascinating beyond measure.  I mean, first, there is this whole literature on legal responsibility and intent and understanding the crime, and Lacassagne felt, no, Vacher knew what he was doing. Steven Berkowitz:         Vacher’s lawyer appealed in a very interesting way.  They got him on the fifth murder he committed which was 1895, and it was horrible.  And they got him because they had evidence, but Vacher had killed four people before that.  And the first person he killed was five weeks after he got out of the asylum, and in his appeal, Vacher’s lawyer wrote, “You have found this man guilty and with full intent and consciousness on a murder he committed like a year and half after getting out of the asylum.  What if he was being tried on that very first murder when he just got out?  Wouldn’t you then entertain the possibility that he really wasn’t cured?” But the public hysteria was so high about this that the president of France knew that, if he commuted it, he’d be committing political suicide, and so he didn’t and Vacher was sent to the guillotine. There are a couple of parts about this that are fascinating.  The question came up why did the director of the asylum let Vacher go?  And I actually was able to get the asylum records.  I took these reports to modern day forensic psychologists and said, “How could this be?  They said his crazy symptoms abated and yet he went out and  killed.” And the best theory I was able to come up with in consultation was he may have been suffering for a couple of things.  If he was a schizophrenic in which he heard voices and had these bouts of irrational behavior, his symptoms could have abated with the gentle treatment of the second asylum, but he was also a psychopath and that’s something that doesn’t abate.  So it was very possible that he was suffering from what they call a comorbidity in which he was a psychopath who also happened to be schizophrenic, and when the schizophrenic symptoms abated, he still was a psychopathic killer. Anyway, that’s how the jury found it, and he was executed.  And I was able to find eyewitness accounts of the guillotine case and then, yes, his head was taken in a sealed cooking pot to Paris where his brain was divided up among the great anatomists of Europe who would study it for months and try to come up with a theory as to why somebody would do such a thing. Steven Berkowitz:         It’s that why question that seems ultimately to evade Lacassagne.  The science of forensics focused so very much on the what and the how, on the physical evidence, and even when he concluded that Vacher was responsible for his actions but he drew those conclusions based on the physical similarities and what they showed of Vacher’s intent but nobody ever quite got to the why. Douglas Starr:     Nobody ever gets to the why.  Have we got to the why today?  Why do people do such a thing?  Have we really figured that out?  I spoke to so many psychologists and scholars.  I spoke to a neurologist who is deeply familiar with this material, and he said, “Well, here’s the ____.”  I said, “Deeper.  Why?”                            And it’s to the point of here’s why certain people can’t resist this impulse.  Here’s the dysfunction between the amygdule, sort of that primitive part, and the frontal cortex, the reasoning part.  Here’s the - maybe here’s how, but the initial impulse, why, and this neurologist actually said, “You know what?  Now you're talking about something for the philosophers and the clergymen.” And, to me, what’s so compelling about this and what makes this not a historical anecdote but a story that continues to resonate for us is these people were confronting a mystery in a way that it had never been confronted before.  Before that, it was always, okay, he’s evil, but this was one of the first times people said it’s not good and evil.  It’s something to do with neurology.  It’s something to do with the way criminals are formed, but we still don’t know why. And all of the main protagonists went to their deaths never knowing why, and even today, you can’t talk to any psychologist or legal scholar or even clergyperson and know what is the root of this initial instinct to do harm.  We still don’t know that.  Steve Mirsky:       Douglas Starr’s book, again, is called The Killer of Little Shepherds, and it’s one of the titles available as a free audio book in that offer I mentioned at the beginning of the episode.  Just go to www.Audible.com/sciam.  Well, that’s it for this episode.  Get your science news at our website, www.ScientificAmerican.com were you can check out the Google Hangout video featuring Noble laureate Harry Kroto talking with Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina and follow us on Twitter where you’ll get at tweet whenever a new article hits the website.  Our Twitter name is @sciam.  For Scientific American’s Science Talk, I’m Steve Mirsky. Thanks for clicking on us.  [End of Audio] (Available as a free audio book via the offer at www.audible.com/sciam) http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=csi-19th-century-france-and-the-bir-13-03-15

January 07 2014


Nerds in the news

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews sends coders into news organisations on a ten-month fellowship to make new tools for reporting and measuring the news. We believe that to remain relevant, journalism has to smarten up about tech and data. As a global community, we develop tools to datamine public data, news apps to make information accessible, and visualisations to break down complex stories. In my talk, I want to present the lessons about tech that I've learned in a newsroom and the things that still need to be built. The internet is destroying the business of news. Not only does the web make it harder to sell advertising on dead trees, it also changes what it means to investigate and tell a good news story. Scoops aren't just researched on the phone anymore, but in scraped databases or leaked data dumps. Yet most journalists are missing the skills to access such information effectively. This means two things: we need training for journos and collaborations between hacks and hackers. Some news organisations are waking up to this fact: the New York Times has an interactive team that employs some of the best web developers, and the non-profit ProPublica has its own nerd team working as data-driven reporters. Working in a news organisation requires coders to change the way they do things and to focus on telling a good story, rather than building a beautiful application. After coding on open data applications for a few years, I applied to join OpenNews and to try and build data-driven news applications from inside a news organisation. After a year at Spiegel Online and visiting news orgs around the world, I've explored not just the weird space of online news, but also the kinds of systems that we need to build to enable journalists to run their investigations deeper, and to keep track of the knowledge they collect. http://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/Fahrplan/events/5494.html Day: 2013-12-29 Start time: 16:45 Duration: 00:30 Room: Saal G Track: Ethics, Society & Politics Language: en

December 28 2013


Nerdist Podcast: Jerry Stahl « Nerdist

@al Agreed. @super It’s the exact opposite of standing idly by and allowing yourself to be shit on by bullies. A blog post, or a video, or a tweet is a thing that someone makes and puts out into the world. A creation, if you will. To someone who makes things for a living, and makes things in order to feel happy, and makes things in order to make other people happy, and takes the act of making things and making them well very seriously, it’s baffling why someone would make a thing for the sole purpose of belittling someone. It’s exponentially impossible to fathom why someone would make that thing poorly, or with substandard materials (incorrect information, half-assed assumptions, poor grammar, etc). The response to want to make a thing to counteract and negate the negative thing comes as easily as breathing to a person who spends their life attempting to make good, positive things. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of responding to trolls, but the almost undeniable urge to respond, at least, is understandable, IMO. http://www.nerdist.com/2013/12/nerdist-podcast-jerry-stahl/

December 23 2013


The Broadcast Clock | 99% Invisible

There’s a term that epitomizes what we radio producers aspire to create: the “driveway moment.” It’s when a story is so good that you can’t leave your car. Inside of a driveway moment, time becomes elastic–you could be staring straight at a clock for the entire duration of the story, but for that length of time, the clock has no power over you. But ironically,  inside the machinery of public radio–the industry that creates driveway moments–the clock rules all. At NPR’s studios in Washington, DC, there are clocks everywhere. Big red digital clocks, huge round analog clocks. There’s even special software and time calculators, where 60 + 60 = 2’00. (All Things Considered director Monika Evstatieva during a live broadcast in NPR’s Studio 2A. Credit: Julia Barton) Each show has a ‘clock’, a set template, from which the show almost never varies. Every show that broadcasts—or aspires to broadcast—in the public radio system has a clock. This is the All Things Considered broadcast clock, which NPR and stations across the country refer to on a daily basis: It’s actually a pretty cool piece of visual design, but one which functions best when it is never seen. This template is used twice every weekday: ATC Hour 1, from 4:00:00pm through 4:59:59pm ET; and then for ATC Hour 2, from 5:00:00 through 5:59:59pm ET. Here’s how it works: at the ‘top’ of the hour, there is a 59 second “billboard,” which announces what’s going up in the program. Then there’s five minutes for the newscast, which is itself divided into two segments (“Newscast I” and “Newscast II”). Then there are the “blocks”–A, B, C, and D–which is where the stories and interviews (or “two-ways”) live. Segments can’t run long by even a second, because most of the local stations are automated to cut off the national program where the clock says they can. These times–the dividers between the sections on the clock–are called posts. You have to hit the post. Nothing can go wrong. Though, of course, things go wrong every day. (When Julia visited ATC, a live interview segment accidentally got wrapped up 35 seconds early. Then it was on Monika, the director, to figure out what to do. Credit: Julia Barton) Taking care of the clock is so ingrained in the director’s psyche that a common side effect of the job is waking up in the middle of the night fearing that you’ve blown the post–these are called “director’s dreams.” To cope with the anxiety, ATC directors make their own cheat sheets to help them memorize every queue of every hour of broadcast.Visit any studio that does a regular live feed with a broadcast clock and you’ll likely find a cheat sheet one somewhere in the studio. The director’s cheat sheets at ATC  have been used so much that they’re in tatters. They have since been laminated. (Note the correction in the “Top Cast” in the upper right. It’s not “1:00″, it’s “:59″) When NPR began in the early 1970s, show clocks were much less regimented–or they didn’t have clocks at all. One of the early champions against the fixed clock was Bill Siemering, a founder of NPR who helped design the network’s overall sound. He came up with the name All Things Considered (original title: A Daily Identifiable Product). Siemering wrote the mission statement of NPR, which is enshrined in the halls of NPR (note the text on the walls).   (Credit: Interior Design) Siemering liked a clock that was more free-form, because it allowed for spontaneity and unpredictability. But spontaneous and unpredictable does not always make for compelling radio. Done wrong, and you wind up with laughably bad “Schweddy Balls”-grade public radio. When Siemering left NPR in the early 1970s, NPR chose to have more subdivided clocks. The constraints forced the shows to get tighter, which some say makes NPR stronger. One person is Neal Conan, former host of Talk of the Nation, who maintains that the earlier, freer days of NPR were not as halcyon as some may remember them.  These days, podcasting allows for shows such as this one to be free of a post, and go on for as long or short as is fitting for any given story. Reporter-producer-editor (triple threat!) Julia Barton visited NPR’s old headquarters at Washington, DC, where she spoke with ATC directors Monika Evstatieva and Greg Dixon, and former Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan. Julia also spoke with public radio’s patron saint, Bill Siemering. Many thanks to All Things Considered Executive Producer Chris Turpin and the other powers-that-be at NPR who gave us unfettered access to the shop during Julia’s visit. (Note: Julia visited NPR while they were still at 635 Massachusetts Ave, NW. They have since moved to 1111 N. Capitol St.) More network clocks! And more! And more! Music: ”Io, Apollo, And The Veil”- Metavari, ”The Wind Up Bird”- Tunng, ”Standard Error”- Orcas, ”Paintchart”- ISAN, ”Snow Tip Cap Mountain”- The Octopus Project, ”Black Blizzard/Red Umbrella”- The Octopus Project http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-broadcast-clock/

December 20 2013


Frank Bealer on Ensuring Alignment in Multisite Churches | unSeminary

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadPodcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe to the unSeminary Podcast: [iTunes] [RSS] [Stitcher] [TuneIn] // [VIDEO iTunes] [VIDEO RSS]Only 15% of multisite churches make it beyond 3 campuses … Elevation Church has 9 locations! Today’s podcast is with Frank Bealer, the Family Ministry pastor from Elevation Church. He provides some proven mindsets, tactics and approaches for developing a cohesive ministry across many locations. This interview is full of insider information about what it’s like leading one of the fastest growing multisite churches in the country. Frank has lots of insights in this episode!Frank Bealer // [Website] [twitter]Interview Highlights01:52 // Franks role and the history of Elevation02:28 // Rich shares a stat that makes Elevation unique02:52 // Elevations biggest felt tension04:00 // First Question: What’s an excellent experience?04:48 // Even at 9 campuses in two countries, Elevation still meets weekly 05:47 // How Frank can be in 9 places at once08:21 // Reproducibility in portable and permanent locations08:45 // Frank explains the use of digital media in environments10:15 // Elevation now has more people in portable campuses than permanent11:49 // Common Leadership Pipeline across all areas14:06 // Rich raves about how Elevation develops and releases volunteer leaders15:19 // Excellence first, transferability second.Lightning Round HighlightsHelpful Online Resource // Evernote, Scoop.itBooks That are Having an Impact // ”Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work“ by Chip & Dan HeathInspiring Ministries // LifeChurch.tvInspiring Leader // Tom PetersWhat does he do for fun? // Malcolm GladwellCheck This Out // Elevation Family Ministry Evaluation Forms: Overview // Detailed, Over 50 Articles on the Multisite Church Interview Transcript //Rich – Alright well welcome to the unSeminary podcast. I am excited for today’s podcast. This is one of those I have been looking forward to for a couple of weeks. We’ve got Frank Bealer on the line. Frank’s from Elevation Church, really one of the leading churches in the country. God’s doing some incredible things there. And I’m just excited to have Frank on the show. Thanks for being here Frank!Frank – Thanks Rich. We love what you are doing at unSeminary. We follow it regularly and we are learning a lot from you. So thanks for what you are doing!Rich – Appreciate that! Why don’t you tell us a little about Elevation and your role there?Frank – Sure, so I am the Family Ministries Pastor at Elevation. So we have 9 campuses. Of those, 7 are portable and 2 are permanent. We are a young church, only 8 years old. Our pastor, Pastor Steven Furtick, amazing man of God, He has great vision for our church. It’s a little unique for you to have us on the show because we feel like we are still learning everything about ministry but we have seen some things work. So hopefully we can share those things today and that will be helpful. We’ve got about 14 thousand people on the weekends right now and we are excited about what God’s doing and look forward to sharing some stuff with you!Rich – Cool. Well you guys are a rare air for a multisite movement. You are probably aware of this, but 85% of all multisite churches don’t get beyond 3 locations and you guys are at 9 with more coming. What’s that like? We would love to peel that back a little bit. There’s a lot of churches out there, I know that a lot of the churches that listen in are multisite or are thinking about going multisite down the road. There must be some tension you feel as you lead in that environment.Frank – Well one of the biggest tensions we feel is that we are moving so fast. Our last campus we launched, we launched in 4 weeks from idea, conception, to execution of a campus and that one launched just a few weeks ago. It was fun. It was a little crazy. But it launched successfully and we are pleased with that. But this whole idea of the tension of excellence and trying to maintain vision, and high standards and quality over and over again…this reproducibility. So we’ve got to create something that we think is awesome and great and that people, and unchurched people want to attend and learn from, but we’ve got to do it over and over and over again. So there’s this limitation there that there’s somethings you can do in one location or maybe even a couple, but when you are trying to do it 9 times or even in just an area, it’s a little overwhelming.Rich – So now let’s try to dig into that a little bit. When you are trying, within your ministry department, you obviously have people across all those different locations, how do you, on the proactive side, let’s say you’ve got something you want to roll out in your area, how do you actually do that communication with those people in all those locations?Frank – So the big thing for us is to start with “What’s an excellent experience? What could we do once?” We program something out and this would be incredible and then we look back in and say “How do we make this transferable?” And so we found that if we try to start transferable first the quality of the ideas get lessened along the way so we really want to push this ideas of what’s excellent experience? What conveys the idea and presents the message in my area of family ministry? How do I really connect parents to what the kids are doing? What’s an awesome way to do that? And once we figure that out, then we try to figure that out, how do we continue to communicate, make sure the visions right at all the locations, how do we make sure everybody’s on the same page? Obviously that’s a lot of emails, video messages and some meetings. We still rally the troops from every single campus, every single week in once case. We pull everyone together, except for one campus that’s in Toronto, Canada, they are a little far away so they Skype in. But we have a meeting every single week discussing execution for that weekend and the coming couple of weeks to really make sure these staff are on the same page first. What we are going to do, why we are doing it, why we are pushing this, why we are cranking something out on a Saturday afternoon for that weekend? Believe in it, get some vision behind it, and then along the way making sure that translates down to the volunteers and making sure the execution happens.Rich – OK. What about on the, you are kind of doing for lack of a better word, check-ins? How do you make sure from your perspective, you’ve rolled something out, you want to make sure you are providing some sort of quality experience across the various locations…. what does your feedback process look like? How do you understand what’s happening? How can you be at 9 places at once?Frank – That’s great. So obviously I can’t be at 9 places at once. I would love to be able to do that, wish I could. We are still trying to find the technology to be able to replicate people at Elevation…but until we figure that out, we have a couple things. We have a central team we try to get around to all campuses. They rotate among the campuses. And their job is to oversee the excellence without becoming that enforcer. ‘Oh know, corporate’s here and we have to watch what we do.” We kind of have this check list of what we are watching for. And one of the great things we have is that because we are continuing to launch campuses, what we see if that the things that we learn that we execute at a new campus, not only is that campus better off because we learned how to launch in a school better or a YMCA better….so we do it better next time. But we take those practices and apply them back to some of the original campuses. Many people don’t know this but the very first campus that we launched is still one of our schools. We still occupy one of the schools that we kicked it all off in. And we are having to improve that. We can’t leave it where it was 7 years ago, even though we’ve launched all these other campuses. It’s not our broadcasting location or anything. But as we learn new ideas in new schools, we are coming back full circle to apply those things. So it’s always pushing our level of excellence to say, alright “we did it this way in this environment, are we still doing the same standard?” And so the speed of launching is helping ensure those levels of excellence, because it’s causing us to look back at where we are and are those campuses really operating at the same level as we plan our new campus to operate at?Rich – One of the things that struck me when I visited Elevation, probably 18 months ago, was that original location, so many times churches launch, they start in a school that sort of thing and then they graduate up to some sort of facility. You guys have done that a couple times with your broadcast campuses. But those campuses, not only to they continue, some of that permanent stuff but that’s fun to see. You guys have a mixed environment where you have both portable (set-up, tear-down) locations, and also permanent locations. What kind of tension has that created in trying to create excellent experiences and this sort of reproducibility issue. How have you sorted that out?Frank – That’s great. Let’s talk Family Ministry for a second. In Family Ministry we talk a lot about environments. In fact I’ve read some posts on your site about environments and making those excellent, where you should invest money. right? Environments for us, we are never going to be we love it, we’ll…the great robust environments because we don’t know how to reproduce that over and over again. And we know that we don’t want a permanent facility to be drastically different from a portable. So we lean heavily on digital media and things like that to create those environments. So we lean heavily on music, videos, graphics and things like that. Things that can be translated across multiple locations. Both print pieces and the screen. And so we lean on that to carry across. And then for us it’s like how to we make equal safely, equal ratios, good clean environments when some of those environments we don’t get to clean during the week, so how do we give parents confidence in where they drop their kids off, but at the same time, making it a cool environment. And so we literally have kids, that on any different weekend, they serve at one campus but then they attend another campus with their family and they are ok going to both even though one’s permanent, and one’s portable. And so we are really trying to make it so that it’s ok, and they don’t feel like it’s a downgrade to go to the portable facility where there’s a lot of pipe and drape. So even the color choices of the pipe and drape, the flooring that we lay down in every classroom. We just switched to a puzzle flooring in all of our toddler age rooms that’s all wood grain so it’s just looks great. So that’s something that I can create at a permanent facility, but it’s really hard at a portable facility. So we are looking for ways to not be a downgrade. We have more people attending portable campuses than we do our permanent facility.Rich – Really!?!Frank – Yup, so right now, we just crossed that line with this new addition of more portable than permanent. We just crossed that line. So we are grateful for that, we love it. But that means that we need to be investing in those portables like the permanent.Rich – Ya, that’s amazing! And obviously if you are thinking about more campuses down the road that trend will just continue, because it’s hard to obviously keep up the permanent thing. It’s hard to build more. It’s not like moving. It’s hard to convert. I know New Spring, they are trying to convert their portable locations into permanent but that’s not the kind of thing you can do over night.Frank – That’s right, and for us, if we were doing that, by the time we had one converted to permanent, hopefully we’ve launched two more portables. Hopefully with what God’s doing, and with us trying to steward this well we are just going to keep running hard, and have some fun along the way and learn. So January we launch out 3rd permeant facility, so we are learning a lot through that, but then we are launching two portables immediately following that. So we are learning to be that constant tug of each one pushing the other in excellence.Rich – Cool. What about leadership? Give me a sense of what you do for leadership development because obviously a big part of trying to push toward accountability and excellence at all campuses is leadership development. So what does that look like for you in the Family Ministry department?Frank – Ya, so similarly in our department, but honestly across all departments, we have the same model for leadership development. We call it the Leadership Pipeline. So as we are raising up volunteer leaders and as you know Rich, we run really lean from a staff stand point. So a lot of what we do is raise up high level volunteers. So we want to make sure that we are consistent in that growing process. The Leadership Pipeline, it starts with strength finders and an application and some conversation about really how connected are they to the church. You know if someone shows up next week and it’s their second week and they are wanting to lead, and they haven’t given, they haven’t served, that makes us a little nervous. It creeps us out a little bit. Let’s show some legacy and willingness to get up at 5am and help us get a campus set up first. But those that start to build some relationships, some community in the church, we put them in this pipeline, once again strength finders. We start to have some conversations. We put them on a leadership development track based on initial interviews held by our campus pastors and they’ll develop from their areas that we think they need to improve on and basically give them a list of things to do and grow into before we will put them in leadership. So we will put those expectations out there clearly and this will be different per individual but I think it helps us ensure that we have the right leadership in place and we will, we are willing to launch a campus with an area in family ministry that doesn’t currently have a leader, the staff is having to oversee that area, in order not to put the wrong leader in place. We’ll go without a leader, where the staff is having to fill the gap with that. We are ok with that. Our leadership pipeline goes across Guest Services, Campus Support, everything you see. We are really intentional about that, and hopefully some of those leaders along the way become staff and help us to launch future campuses.Rich – I have had the privilege of visiting a lot of churches across the country, and Elevation really is a move of God. You can’t get it into a box. You can’t say, “if you do this, put this stuff on your spread sheet as a church, this will happen at your church.” But the thing I will say, because I think a lot of times at Elevation people will focus on Pastor Steven, his teaching ability, how God’s using his point leadership…that’s definitely part of what’s going on. But the thing I walked away with, deeply impressed, I’ve never seen a church as engaged on developing and releasing volunteers, volunteer leaders as a church. You guys do such a killer job on that. I’ve said to a lot of church leaders, and that includes everyone on that kind of pantheon of biggest churches in the country, I’ve never seen a church that does it as well as you guys. So I have said to tons of churches, you really should go and spend a weekend at Elevation and try to get into that culture because it’s unlike anything I have ever seed before. It’s breath taking, it’s amazing. So great job there Frank. Anything else when you think of this tension of how to we develop excellent environments and experiences and reproducibility?Frank – I think the biggest thing is let’s try to be intentional as we go through it. Let’s not try to rush through it, that’s not healthy in and of itself. So as we are launching a campus, let’s not go and do another until we get one healthy. Let’s wrestle with those things. Let’s make sure we are reproducing something that’s excellent, keep pushing through with that. Start with excellence then figure out how to make it transferable. I can’t say that enough. I think that’s a great way to look at multisite. http://www.unseminary.com/frankbealer/

December 11 2013


She Gets Things Done… | Finish Agent

She Gets Things Done… December 9, 2013 As you know I’m all about action taking. After all, that’s what my software helps your clients do – finish what they’ve started. Hesitation to take action is the biggest barrier to success for most entrepreneurs. We’re stopped by fear, resistance, and excuses that sound really good. So it’s important to seek out those people who are NOT stopped by their own excuses and who take action! We must find out what is going on in their heads that is so different from people like me and perhaps you, and for many of our clients, who pause and worry and procrastinate. Introducing Tee Ming Ooi. And for the record, her first name is Tee Ming, with an accent on the second name. Her web site is called Teeming Connections, and she recently held a telesummit called “Certainty and Confidence: The Key to More Clients, Higher Income and Less Stress.” That should tell you something – a year ago she didn’t have a business. And she has already completed a successful telesummit! Once I met her and talked to her, I realized I just had to interview her and bring her to you. Here is the interview: Enjoy — you’ll get a lot of motivation to just …do it! Tee Ming is such a good role model for taking action that I hope she will inspire you to take stop procrastinating and making excuses, and just do it! I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever made excuses for not taking the leap and doing something big? Or, like Tee Ming, have you made the leap and gotten something big accomplished? How did you get past the fear? Just give me your thoughts below. Comments commentsPowered by Facebook Comments 2 thoughts on “She Gets Things Done…” Stephanie LH Calahan (@StephCalahan) on December 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm said: Tee Ming is such a breath of authentic fresh air! What a fun interview. I could feel her joy through the audio and just listening made me feel lighter today. I bet her telesummit was a blast. “You can still move ahead even if you don’t have complete knowledge. You just need to know the next step.” YES! I also love how she talked about using the resources available to her. She did not worry about perfection. She focused on completion. BRAVO!Stephanie LH Calahan (@StephCalahan) recently posted..Conscious Powerful Action: I comfortably talk with people that are playing a “bigger game.” Reply ↓ Gina Hiatt on December 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm said: I’m SO happy you were able to listen to the interview, Stephanie. The instant I read your comment, I went and ordered a transcription to be made of this interview. You’ve reinforced my belief that it’s so rare to find someone who takes action AND can talk about how she does it, in such a clear way. And thank you so much for writing to let us all know the effect it had on you!Gina Hiatt recently posted..She Gets Things Done… Reply ↓ Leave a Reply Cancel reply http://finishagent.com/she-gets-things-done?inf_contact_key=acf878b53406e0e94307941feab4f0b92a2a621c8cbc2f483564abbad604e0c1

December 05 2013


David Harriman interview, pt. 2 - "The Philosophic Corruption of Physics and The Logical Leap" - #112 - Gnostic Media

“Word. But does that mean anyone can SAY anything about absolute reality?” First, define absolute reality. “One listens for two hours to an intellectual’s attempt at deconstructing reality, but the onus is always on the observant listener to put it back together again. Logic can’t properly handle these issues with language, so as to ensure that I receive the infallible truth from you or Mr. Harriman.” Actually, if you study logic, you’ll see that it specifically deals with language. It doesn’t do well with things OUTSIDE language. Actually, if you’re properly using logic, identifying the subject and predicate, understanding the identification of words and seeking clarity, removing contradictions and fallacies, you most certainly can receive our signal without noise, the infallible truth as you call it. This was discussed in my Philly lecture that I recommended previously. This is also discussed in the trivium series talks that I referenced you in the last post. “What we can say must always belong to the phenomenal world, because words have no independent substantial meaning.” Harriman’s work, the trivium, etc, all deal specifically with such issues. Certainly the number 1 represents 1 item of 1 thing. This is why it’s important to define words specifically so that we know what, exactly, is being communicated. “Meaning is “dependent-arising” – just as the world itself is said to be dependent-arising, in the Mahayana tradition.” Again, this is why we define our words. If you establish arbitrary meanings, that’s what you’ll get. This is why having a firm understanding of logic is important. How, specifically, do the Mahayana tradition and the trivium and logic contrast? How have you compared these two? Was logic created before, or after the Mahayana tradition. If you can’t form any meaning from anything in life, then why do anything at all? “Seems to me reality, truth, meaning, unfolds intimately and inwardly for each and every individual, without any need for arguing for absolute objective reality.” If that were the case, you wouldn’t be able to use your computer, as it would work differently for every individual. In fact, the truth of turning on a light switch would always have a different result in your world – which, thankfully, we don’t live in. This is why having basic laws of physics, things we do know and understand is important, rather than just dreaming up what we wish in our own heads to be “reality”. “There are external patterns that we must pay mind to, yes, from which to induce understanding. But if you look at it, many of the iniquities you mentioned have resulted from various historical crusades for “absolute reality”, whether by scientist, philosopher or priest-king. And none of these can or ever will be ascertained.” It’s funny how you classify what I say as “iniquities” – or crimes. Yet, thoughtlessness and irrationality and not identifying what we’re dealing with is what creates these crimes. What you’re failing to understand is that these are methods in constant development, open for revision as we understand more. Again, try turning on your computer or typing your next reply if none of these can or ever will be ascertained. Your position is completely illogical and contradictory to the world around you. “I do bid you good luck in demonstrating your truth, but meantime declare myself a model-agnostic, as no model of the universe has yet satisfied all the dimensions of my observation and experience. Why regard this with contempt?” Did you listen to the episodes 49 – 51, and have you taken a specific course in logic so that you’re capable of understanding how these systems work before you discount them? A model agnostic, what does that look like, exactly, without being able to identify what a gnostic is, or have any knowledge outside you other than what you dream up on a whim? “As a self-reflecting human being, perhaps you are aware that the mocking tone in your voice,” I’m mocking you a bit now, but would you please show me where I did so previously? “so constant throughout the interview, is also intoned in the lecture of your post.” How, where? Would you please identify exactly how that’s so – substantiate this truth you claim, please. “I wonder when authorities are going to realize that no free-thinking individual is ever going to accept that “this is how it is” when it is pronounced with such supreme derision.” Clear, critical thinking is able to look at the evidence, gain knowledge of what’s there, remove the contradictions and discover, logically, “how this or that is” – but what you fail to realize is that the trivium, et al, don’t at all teach you “how it is” – they don’t teach you what to think, but rather now to think, logically, without contradictions. So it appears that you’re knowledge and understanding of these matters is off base. The trivium itself teaches one not to rely on the fallacy of appeal to authority in and of itself, so it negates the point of your argument. “To be clear, i am not arguing for solipsism, or the extreme subjectivity that follows from the Copenhagen interpretation. Nor am I the new age, bright-sided philosopher you insinuate in your words.” You’re not arguing for Kantian philosophy or solipsism? That’s very difficult to discern by your comments here. It seems your ideas are based firmly on Kant and solipsism, and that you’re arguing for contradictions and not being able to discern the world around you – as impossible to do – all the while you seem to be misunderstanding many of the key issues – and jumping to conclusions elsewhere. “It’s a commonly held truism, perhaps something you also find laughable, but I think it holds true: the one thing we can ascertain in the world is impermanence, which is to say that our universe is ever changing, ever evolving – and it will continue to unfold in events of emergent property that simply astonish scientists.” Who was it that argued these things, Heracles? It’s a good thing that Aristotle came along and refuted him, allowing us to move forward in science and history. Because the view that all was only change and we could know nothing, brought the ancient world temporarily to a halt – some philosophers refusing to ever speak again, for instance. Now we’re able to categorize the type of change: volume, age, locomotion, etc. This is why it’s important to identify the type of change specifically, rather than just seeing all as “change” – and never being able to understand anything. “Events which will always defy 1+1=2 logic. Say 1+1=3: this is no ordinary Aristotelian logic.” The problem with this argument, however, is that it’s not based in reality. It’s a non-argument, a straw man? Please give me one instance, EVER, where 1 + 1 = 3? It’s no ordinary Aristotelian logic because it’s simply not logic at all. You’re arguing the arbitrary and that is simply dismissed. “Indeed you can see the enigmatic Axiom of Maria in most forms of symbiosis. Truths that hold true only relative to order and scale of magnitude… None of what you said is over my head. You simply cannot conceive of Zero (the mathematical alternative to the Big Bang theory) without implying contradicting, complementary, or self-annihilating opposites. Without conceiving of both abstract and positive integers.” Why would I employ contradictions, etc. Even for you to argue the things you argue requires logic. But I think Maria’s axiom is properly explained under the quadrivium, the next level of the trivium. See episode #50. But even in symbiosis, this is covered and understood in the repeating, self-checking, self-correcting system of the trivium. To hold the concept of zero, even by allowing ourselves a model to compare it with – say 1, while we may use this model to understand zero, it doesn’t imply contradiction or self-annihilation in itself. It’s using a model, such as induction, to understand reality. If you have one of something and I take that one away, it doesn’t annihilate you. You’re then able to understand the concept of zero, or having nothing that you just had. “I was wondering whether David was familiar with Ludwig Wittgenstein. He never mentioned him in the interview, which i did find to be interesting, by the way.” Why would you find that interesting? He discussed the 50 or so points that we wanted discussed after having read his books and listening to his lecture series. Other than asking him directly (as an interview is never meant to represent the whole of someone’s work – it’s just a method to introduce the work to people who may be interested – after which they can buy the books and lectures to gain deeper understanding of that particular body of work), I’d buy the books and lectures and find out – or send him an email. This is the process of the trivium, gaining proper knowledge of the items that are there and are discussed , without needing to find things interesting or whatever simply because you yourself didn’t put the interview together – or read the book or hear the lecture to gain your own systematic knowledge. “I had to wonder why he seemed so keen on throwing nonsensical eastern philosophies out the window, when in truth these traditions attest to an ageless wisdom with profound application in day to day existence. Wisdom that eludes words. And wisdom that certainly escapes your diatribe.” What is my diatribe, exactly? How much have you even studied my work? How many of my shows have you heard? Are you aware that I, just recently, interviewed a Buddhist Lama? What specific philosophies was David throwing out? Why, even with a disclosure at the beginning of every show, would you jump to the conclusion that what David believes is automatically what I believe? Did you just make that up and accept it as fact based on solipsism? And is every aspect of eastern philosophy valid, or is there invalid dogma even there? If they were nonsensical, as you claim, then why would throwing them out be bad? Which aspects of these traditions attest to an ageless wisdom with profound application? Which ones don’t? Does, for instance, the (appeal to) tradition of the Hindu cast system attest to their ageless wisdom? In what way? How could you express and explain this without logic? Without making up things as you go along – as you’ve done here? “You can tell by how irate both yourself and Dr. Harriman come across in the interview that you’re still occupying a fairly differentiated mindset, prone to conflict, which precludes peace of mind. And I suppose you will never have your peace until everyone believes in the one true objective reality that you are arguing for?” Please point out where I was irate. I don’t recall being irate at all. Rather, I’d say that your emotional reaction to our interview was irate – so that would mean your projecting your beliefs onto us, rather than gaining knowledge via a systematic method. But yet, here you are, claiming I’m prone to conflict, when you’re here stirring conflict. Do you see the irony, the hypocrisy? Where have I ever, anyplace on my show, books, et al, argued for “the one true objective reality”? Again, you’re not even familiar with what I say, with my show, with the fact that I’ve had leading academic experts from all over the world on my show discussing at length the very things you think I ignore. But your hypocrisy is beyond ironic. Again, do you see the importance now of having a systematic method to acquire knowledge, so that you don’t maintain such false ideas in your head? “Philosophy as therapy, as suggested by Wittgenstein, helps us from becoming “bewitched by our own words…” a common phenomenon when folk arrive at premature certainty, mistaking the menu for the meal, the map for the territory.” Had you listened to episodes 49 – 51, you’d have known that these are the very things discussed, not to mention when used properly as a system, this is an inherent property of the trivium method. In fact, we discussed specifically mistaking the map for the territory. I tried to share that with you before you replied, but apparently you chose to kill the messenger rather than to understand the message and avoid looking foolish. “This is existentially sound philosophy, which doesn’t seek to enforce an authoritative view on the world, but rather to cultivate virtue and truth in one’s life, for the better of the world. This is the only philosophy that seems to me to be worthwhile.” As is the trivium. Which you clearly didn’t bother to study before making your reply. Had you studied the trivium before your reply, you’d have seen that it’s exactly this. And you’ve clearly become bewitched by your own words, so it doesn’t appear to be working for you. But unfortunately your system doesn’t provide you with a method for fact checking yourself and not coming up with arbitrary ideas based on your own whimsical thoughts – as I’ve now pointed out several times. “In conclusion, i do agree Reason is an essential faculty when it comes to integrating consciousness. I do however think that reason can easily become overbearing and lopsided, and the clearest sign of this is when “irrationality” is regarded with such extreme derision. This is an attitude which can only exasperate the poverty of cognition you claim to ameliorate with the Trivium.” Based on your use of fallacies, jumping to conclusions, claiming things we’ve never said, attacking things you’ve not studied, et al, I can understand and see your distaste for reason and logic, and your need to stand up for and protect the irrational, unconscious, and illogical – claiming that not accepting (your) irrationality is somehow a poverty of cognition. That I’m perfectly willing to accept. By the way, reason, rational, is no longer reason and rationality when it becomes lopsided – that’s irrationality – by very definition. Something for you to consider. And please provide me an (obviously irrational, reasonless) argument as to how dismissing irrationality would exasperate the poverty of cognition. Isn’t cognition in itself rational and reasonable by very definition? Where does irrationality and unreasoning fall into cognition? How, in what way? http://www.gnosticmedia.com/david-harriman-interview-pt-2-the-philosophic-corruption-of-physics-and-the-logical-leap-112/

November 18 2013


Off Topic with Jeff McGinnis » EPISODE 18: Molly McIsaac and Cosplay

A show where people talk about things other than the things they usually talk about http://offtopicwithjeffmcginnis.podbean.com/2013/11/18/episode-18-molly-mcisaac-and-cosplay/

August 01 2010


MPU 023: Workflows with Merlin Mann « Mac Power Users

In our first “Workflows” episode we talk with Merlin Mann, or as David calls him, the “Hero of Nerds.” Merlin discussed how he uses his Mac for his work and the applications he uses to be more productive. This extra long episode is packed with geeky goodness. From http://macpowerusers.com/2010/03/mpu-023-workflows-with-merlin-mann/
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