18th Aug 2011

Kevin Slavin Lecture on Algorithms that Control our World

This is one of the most thought provoking lectures I have seen in years.

This video is only 15 minutes long and in that time Kevin Slavin makes a very interesting case that the human race does things with technology with no idea of how bad the results may be.

Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can’t understand, with implications we can’t control. This sounds like stuff from some current movies like Source Code or Inception, but it is real.

Algorithms run the Stock Market – everyone knows that. Do you also know that the market moves up and down at times and that no one has any idea of the reason for the move? Algorithms run so many aspects of our lives from traffic lights to carpet cleaners. I saw an ad on TV for Mercedes about how the car detected a stopped car ahead and the driver was not paying attention so the car stopped by itself! Algorithms are created by people. People make mistakes. What would happen if traffic was running normally on the freeway and your Mercedes mistakenly decides to stop – not slowly but as quickly as possible?

I used to be concerned about “Big Brother”. Now I am more concerned about “Big PC”.

Posted by Mike under Current Issues | No Comments »

01st Jul 2011

A Deke Slayton (Astronaught) Story

One of my current jobs is to maintain the website for the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum in Sparta, WI. I also post and monitor the Twitter channel (@slaytonmuseum) where I post specials or museum events. Every so often someone talks about visiting the museum. Recently a guy posted a story about his father meeting Deke Slayton before he joined NASA. The guy providing the story is Charles Dawson and he has given us permission to repeat his story. You can find out more about Charles HERE at his blog. Following is his story:

“I Knew A Guy, Became An Astronaut”

My Father has had some interesting times, has met some interesting people, and I bet he hasn’t told me the best stories yet. But I was surprised when he told me that he had worked with a guy who later became an astronaut. Not just any astronaut, either. Now, to me, ALL astronauts are heroes, rock stars for science nerds. But the Mercury 7 are have Super Hero status, they’re The Beatles of the Space Program. Yes, my Dad knew one of the Mercury 7.

He brought it up rather nonchalantly, as we drove from Portland to an Aviation and Space Museum near McMinnville, Oregon. It was after World War II, when Dad had been a Navy pilot. He was going to school at the University of Minnesota, and like many young men he took some work besides spending time in studies.

It was unloading box cars at “Monkey Wards”, as my Dad called it, in St. Paul. They paid 85 cents an hour. No health insurance, I’m sure. He worked there for about 4 months. His work partner there was someone who was very easy to like. Very level headed and unflappable. His name was Deke Slayton. All Dad knew was he was studying Aeronautical Engineering and had been an Army pilot. As a Navy pilot, my Dad jibed Deke that while he could navigate over water, Deke would navigate by following railroad tracks. At the time Dad did not know how many missions this easygoing freight car unloader had flown, but he did remember how he took the jibe without ire.

My Dad owned a a four cylinder inline Indian motorcycle. Appropriate transport for him, as far as I’m concerned. He said that he would sometimes give Deke a ride home after work. Deke lived in the Seven Corners neighborhood in Minneapolis. One time after dropping Deke off my he remembers going through the namesake intersection and took a turn he probably shouldn’t have. He hit a car on the front fender. The Indian only sustained minor damage, breaking a small marker light on the front fender.

When we arrived at the Museum, there was a large photo of the Mercury 7. My Dad looked and said, “There he is. Looks about the same as I remember him.”

My Father and Mr. Slayton, as far as I am concerned, went on to use their education at U of M very well. My Father became a very well respected teacher, then counselor, then administrator, furthering the education of so many students. Keith Wayne Dawson, PhD.
Deke Slayton, from what I read, was a good judge of character when he made the selections for missions. He chose a good work partner to ask for a ride home, too.

by: Charles Dawson


Posted by admin under Misc | No Comments »

19th May 2011

10 Good Reasons to hire a Grown-Up

Susan Kim has written a wonderful blog post at TalentZoo.Com that discuss age bias in the hiring process. She talks about the idea that many hiring managers think that anyone over 40 is too old to work in any field that requires creativity! Her blog lists the advantages to what she calls “Advantages to Hiring a Grown-Up”.

I won’t repeat everything she has to say but here are her key points:

  1. We know how to have real conversations. We did not grow up texting people in the same room as us. This also gives us the ability to listen.
  2. When we are working, we’re working. Our job is not our social life.
  3. It’s nice to have a Grown-Up on the team. Think – your top client is in the conference room and the projector broke. Who do you want presenting with just a white board and a marker: the grown-up or the recent grad?
  4. We have seen it all before and have perspective.
  5. We are done with babies. We may have kids or grandkids. But they don’t keep us up all night!
  6. Loyalty. We stay put and support those that support us.
  7. We’re on time. Probably because we still wear watches.
  8. We understand the bottom line. We know how to be responsible with the company’s money.
  9. We are good mentors.There is no substitute for experience, in work and in life, when it comes to being a good mentor.
  10. If you are selling to the biggest, most powerful, wealthiest demographic (Baby Boomers), who better to shape the message?

I think this was a great post. I believe that too many judgments are made based on age bias. Susan Kim points out some good reasons and did it without trashing younger people.

I hope you take a few minutes are read the post. There are other links on the site that are usefull as well.

Posted by Mike under Business, Current Issues, Social Media | No Comments »

04th Mar 2011

Response from Rep. Bernier to my Email to the Cowards

Here is the response I got from Wisconsin Assembly Representative Bernier referring to the Democratic Senators as “cowards” for leaving the state rather than voting on the budget bill. He, along with other Wisconsin Assembly Members, got a copy of the letter sent to Sen. Vinehout. At least Ms. Bernier put some thought into her response.


Thank you for contacting my office regarding the budget repair bill. I appreciate the time you took to share your views on this issue. I’ve heard from many constituents as well as from residents across our state and country.


I apologize if it has taken me an extended time to respond to your message. While my staff, which consists of a single legislative aide, has worked as quickly as possible to read e-mails, answer the phone and keep on top of what has been going on there has been a delay in how quickly we’ve been able to respond.


There can be no doubt that our state is in a severe financial crisis. We are facing a $137 million deficit in the current fiscal year and a $3.6 billion shortfall is looming over us in the next biennium. Action must be taken, and Wisconsin residents simply cannot afford to pay higher taxes to pay for this deficit.


This bill has passed the Assembly, and I voted in favor of the legislation. This was not an easy decision and it was not one I made without a great deal of thought and prayer. This will affect many residents in the district and across the state, myself included.  I understand that the pension and healthcare contributions will be difficult for many. Those of you who know me know I come from humble means, and after this they will be even more humble. I am not asking anyone to do something I am not willing to do myself, and will be paying the same portion of my healthcare and an even larger pension contribution than required for public employees.


I believe the passage of this legislation was essential to avoid serious consequences in our state. As many as 1,500 state workers could be laid off by June and another 6,000 by the end of the biennium. Nearly 200,000 children could lose their medical coverage. These are not acceptable alternatives. This is about putting our state on track to actually dealing with our budget crisis instead of pushing it ahead for future generations.


Public employees will be asked to contribute 5.8% of their pay to their pensions and 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums and will still be able to form unions and collectively bargain for wages. This bill does not dismantle public unions, but does amend what kinds of bargaining can be done.


The cuts to shared revenue in the biennial budget bill will be deep. Local governments needs to have the flexibility to address these cuts and not be hampered by restrictive contracts bargained with public employee unions. This bill provides that flexibility while still allowing for the formation of public unions.



Public employees in Wisconsin will still enjoy one of the strongest civil service systems in the country. Among these protections are the accrual of leave benefits, civil service hiring practices, disciplinary processes and the assurance of a discrimination free workplace.


I did have some issues with the initial bill, which I addressed with the Assembly leadership. Among these concerns were the provisions regarding not providing LTEs (limited term employees) with benefits, and including a grievance process. I also suggested doing a graduated implementation of the healthcare and pension contributions. These first two concerns were addressed before final passage of the bill in the State Assembly, and while I still supported implementing the contributions more slowly in the end I had to vote either in support or against the bill as a whole.


This legislation was taken up in a transparent manner with a great deal of input from the public. 17 hours of testimony from Wisconsin residents was heard where nearly 1,000 Wisconsin residents shared their views. The State Assembly floor session in which the budget repair bill was addressed lasted over 60 hours. According to the Legislative Reference Bureau they have no record of a longer session in the history of our state. Finally, my office has met with, talked to and read e-mails from a great many constituents on both sides of the issue and I took into consideration all of these views before making my final decision.




Kathy Bernier
State Representative
68th Assembly District

Posted by Mike under Current Issues | No Comments »

04th Mar 2011

Response from Senator Vinehout to my Email

On Feb 17 I posted on this site a letter that I sent to Senator Vinehout where I called her and her colleagues “cowards” for leaving the state rather than facing the issues in Wisconsin. Based on her reply it is obvious she does not actually read her mail – she just gets a general summary.

Here is the form letter I got from her staff:

Dear Michael,


I really appreciate you taking the time to send a message regarding Governor Walker’s “budget repair” bill.  There are very serious problems with this bill that go way beyond the labor issues.  Even though the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau stated Wisconsin is not in a fiscal emergency, this bill is being fast tracked without adequate scrutiny by the public.  We tried to negotiate with the majority party and they refused.  They were unwilling to consider any amendments we wished to make to the bill.  Leaving the state was the last choice we had to slow the process down and make sure people fully understand the harm this bill would do.


Below is a copy of my weekly column which I sent to our newspapers on Monday.  I hope you will take the time to read it.


Again thank you for contacting me.




State Senator Kathleen Vinehout

Room 104 South State Capitol

Madison, WI  53707-7882

1-877-763-6636 (toll-free)


Posted by Mike under Current Issues | No Comments »

22nd Feb 2011

On a lighter note…

I have been going through my email folder where I put the stuff that I will deal with later. Some of you may have a folder like mine – it had 650 messages in it. During the process I found an email from a very likable guy named Bud Wackwitz. He is every bit as interesting as his name might imply. Here is what he had to say:

This is for the over 50 generation:

I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Bluetooth [it’s red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it, And I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calc-ul-ating”. You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden “Paper or Plastic?” every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, “Paper or Plastic?” I just say, “Doesn’t matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.” Then it’s their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

I was recently asked if I tweet. I answered, No, but I do toot a lot.”

PS:  I know some of you are not over 50;  I sent it to you to allow you to forward it to those who are.

Posted by Mike under Misc | No Comments »

22nd Feb 2011

Media Coverage of Wisconsin Protests

The media bias has never been more obvious than during the past week of protests in Madison. The Democrat Senators continue to “hide out” in some motel in Illinois – probably eating pizza, drinking beer and laughing at the stupidity of the average voter. The stupidity of the average voter is because they get all their news only from the major TV networks – who are completely destroying the truth during their broadcasts. A CBS reporter put a woman on camera who said “If the Governor’s budget bill is passed I will have to work for minimum wage with no health care and no pension.”. This is the message the networks and the unions want you to hear. They repeat variations of that message over and over. I rarely hear them say that the bill only requires them to pay a little bit towards their health care premiums and pension. The networks don’t want people to know that Gov. Walker is only asking state workers to contribute a FRACTION of what the average voter has to pay towards health insurance premiums and their pension! How many Wisconsin voters actually get a pension? Most of us save for our retirement with a 401(k) that maybe has an employer contribution.

At least the number of voters that only get their news from the networks is getting smaller. At least some of these ignorant voters are now on Facebook, Twitter and may even read blogs like mine. Some of their Facebook friends may actually be commenting on how much networks like NBC, CBS and ABC want to keep you in the dark. Social Media played a big part in the uprisings and protests in the Middle East. Maybe by the next election cycle Social Media can help U.S. voters learn the truth about people they elected – like the cowardly Democrats hiding out in a motel rather than doing the job they were elected to do. I voted for one of those cowards – but I never will again!

Posted by Mike under Current Issues, Social Media | No Comments »

17th Feb 2011

Letter to Wisconsin Senator Vinehout

Senator Vinehout,

My wife and I met with you in the past about legislation we were interested in. We found you to be very attentive to the concerns of your constituents. We also voted for you. I will never vote for you again based on your cowardly action today of leaving Madison and leaving the Senate unable to vote on Governor Walker’s proposal to take state employees off of the gravy train of benefits they enjoy that no one other than mafia controlled union members enjoy.

I have been un-employed for a year. My wife works for a major financial in Eau Claire. As a couple we pay about $500 a month for health insurance. We do not have a “pension” – we pay into a 401(k). I am unemployed because – unlike a “civil servant” – I can be let go because the company is not making enough money. Don’t try the argument that they make less to have better benefits. Studies have been done that clearly show the average state worker is much better off today than the average non-state worker, those that actually still have a job.

Are you blind to the fact that only state employees are demonstrating? Maybe I exaggerate – there are probably Teamsters and other powerful and corrupt unions demonstrating as well. Also students that want an excuse to cut class. Most of the people in the state agree with me – state employees need to bear their fair share of the pain.

It really bothers me and my neighbors that the media is focused only on the lower end of the pay scale state employees that are demonstrating. I do not want to hear their sob stories when I have trouble paying my property taxes – let alone my living expenses.

I will never vote for a Wisconsin Democrat again because of your action today.

Posted by Mike under Current Issues | No Comments »

01st Feb 2011

Free Facebook at 10,000 feet!

While airlines continue to come up with more things to charge fees for, Facebook access during flights will be free on at least seven U.S. major carriers during February. The promotion, a partnership between Gogo Inflight Internet and Ford Motor Company, focuses on bringing the social network to every passenger’s electronic device. So if during the next month you’re traveling on AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta , United Airlines, U.S. Airways or Virgin America this month, you’re in luck. Their wire networks are all powered by Gogo.

To take advantage of the promotion, you’ll have to wait until the plane has reached 10,000 feet, wen  travelers are allowed to turn on personal electronic devices. Then you’ll select the Gogo wireless network, open a web browser, and click on the banner that says Ford and Facebook.

The service is available to users on all wifi-enabled devices, including laptops, smartphones and tablets. If you wish to browse the Internet beyond Facebook, you’ll have to pay the wi-fi service charge, which is around $5 for a short flight.

Originally posted by Jorge Cino on February 1st, 2011 11:20 AM

Facebook remains the number one most visited website during flights, so the promotion is a smart way to introduce or finally engage passengers to surf the web while in the air. By and large, people still refuse to pay a premium for Internet access during flights. Last November, Gogo partnered with Google Chrome to provide free wifi service through the holiday season on AirTran, Delta and Virgin America.

Uf you had to choose one complimentary entertainment service for your flight, would you rather have TV shows, one movie, or Facebook access?

Posted by Mike under Current Issues, Social Media | No Comments »

04th Nov 2010

Do you Remember Matthew Lesko – the ? Guy

 I know that you have seen him on TV. Matthew Lesko promoting a book that shows you how to get “free” money by applying for Government Programs that most people don’t even know exist. He is always wearing an outrageous suit that has question marks on it. He even refers to himself as the question mark guy.

I bring this up because I get a lot of great marketing information  from Jim Kukral. I took a course from the University of San Fransisco on Advanced Marketing with Social Media. Jim is one of the instructors and also a great guy. Yesterday I got an email from Jim. Here is part of the email:

“Got 18 minutes today to watch a video? Nothing to buy here. Just really, really solid information that will blow your mind. You know how I write about Matthew Lesko in my book? You know, the question mark guy? The guy who has made millions selling books on TV and online off of being a wacky character?

Well, he produced an 18-minute video about his brand/life story that is MUST watch. You can view it here on his website

Why watch this? Because this guy will show you how to be successful by thinking differently and creatively. When I interviewed him for my book, this one quote stuck out to me.

“If you’re like everyone else, you’re in the middle. And nobody remembers the middle.”

Think about it. Having trouble getting the life you want? The job you want? All the money you want? Maybe you’re in the middle?

Watch this, get motivated, then let me know what you think. Have a great day! Jim Kukral.”

You can find Jim Kukral on Facebook HERE. You can sign up for his newsletter or visit his websites and Facebook pages that are full of great marketing ideas.

 Watching the video about Matthew Leske reminded me of this quote:

“Self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it.”

Gloria Steinem

Posted by Mike under Business, Social Media | No Comments »

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