The Word for the Day is…


I hope you would agree that we all need to keep learning.  Life gets pretty boring if you are not.  As an engineer, I have always found the arts “refreshing” to my geeky point of view.  There is beauty in literature and music that goes far beyond the first and second laws of thermodynamics … as beautiful as those are to me.

So, when I read the Wall Street Journal today, I noticed a word that seldom gets used, but seems especially appropriate for today … and pretty much every day:  Kerfuffle.

A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss. If you read about a scandal in a newspaper, it could be described as a kerfuffle.

Kerfuffle is a humorous-sounding word for a mostly non-humorous situation: some kind of disturbance, scandal or mess. However, a kerfuffle usually isn’t 100% serious. People talking loudly in public could be making a kerfuffle. If a politician says something embarrassing by accident, it could cause a kerfuffle. Often, people use this word when they think people are making too big a deal of something, as in “What’s the kerfuffle all about?”

Seems like a wonderful word for the day, doesn’t it?


The “Invisible Hand” may now be Visible

invisible handToday’s partisan bickering can often dull critical thinking.  As Americans, we pride ourselves on our freedoms of speech but sometimes permit that freedom to drown out the truly interesting and helpful dialogues we should have.

Our economic system was built on the work of Adam Smith who first coined the phrase and postulated the theory of the invisible hand.  It is useful to start my blog with this review to fully appreciate the stunning revelations in the second link I would suggest you review.  Here is a review of Adam Smith’s theory with some excellent illustrations.  Just watch until they ask you to login to get the main point. Watch the video here.

Historically, measuring these interrelationships has been left to researchers who spent months and even years pouring over and digesting business data.  Almost every one of us who has taken a college course in economics will remember supply and demand curves, and those of us who have made a career in demand response know fully well how important it is to impact the elasticity of the demand curve to control high prices.

So, with all that as background, I found this article to be one of the most stunning illustrations of the Internet of Things along with Big Data made useful.

Read the Wall Street Journals article, “Uber’s Pricing Formula Has Allowed Economists to Map Out a Real Demand Curve.”

I would like you to ponder two key points in this article:  Uber and Demand Curve.

What has fundamentally changed is we now have real-time data for how markets work because of the Uber model.  As some of you know, I have postulated that the future model for EE and DR is the Uberization of our current command and control thinking.

There is a lot to think about here.  And, if you are still struggling, take time to read “Digital Disruption” by James McQuivey … this is really a must read because you are about to either be the manager of this disruption or the victim of it.  Remember the famous warning of former Duke CEO, Jim Rogers: “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu!”

Methinks the dinner bell chimes …



Who Can You Trust Anymore?

carrotsJust when you thought you could trust the medical system… here are 49 facts you’ve been told that are totally wrong.

What?  Is nothing sacred?  Carrots don’t improve your eyesight?  All these years I have been eating spinach to be strong and broccoli for who knows what reason!  What then can you trust as factual anymore?  Is the Golden Rule the next thing to get turned upside down and proven to be a myth or a vestige of ancient societal bias?  Thank God for and WikiPedia.  Oh … right … they can be compromised as well.

Human nature … seems flawed for sure.

For those of you who are not headed for the wilderness of Alaska and do want to be an integral part of our modern community, let me remind you that this is just part of the charm of life today in the “information age.”  It is certainly not the “truth age” for sure.  How do you define truth anyway?  Everything now seems to be a matter of opinion.  People are prone to see things from a personal self-interest point of view, and when you get enough of them to chant these ideas in unison long enough, they can seem to hold powers beyond reason.  Groupthink can overwhelm critical thinking.

I just finished taking an online screenwriting class from Aaron Sorkin where he details the formulas he follows.  I have to admit that, as an engineer, I have always thought logic and the presentation of facts wins the day.  Aaron stresses mystery as the way you spin the plot.  You all must remember some of his best works: A Few Good Men, The American President, and of course West Wing.  I think the snippet he wrote from the speech near the end of the The American President sums it all up best when the President explains the challenges with democracy:

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.  Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”

I have to admit; this is really a hard thing to celebrate.


The Cajun Navy

Cajun Navy
USA Today Video “Cajun Navy”

The recent flooding in Louisiana has demonstrated the best and the worst in human behavior.  Most of what we have seen is the former, with countless numbers of citizens using their boats to rescue others even while their own homes were under water.

These unauthorized boat-rescue agents have been nicknamed the Cajun Navy.  You would think that would have only been celebrated. But, no, some lawmakers are setting regulations and fees licensing these angels-of-mercy to be able to offer this assistance.

Watch this summary for yourself.

Yes, we can all see the potential for a lawsuit here.  Someone falls out of the boat and drowns.  Someone is robbed or assaulted.  Bad things can always happen.  But, do they really think through how many people would otherwise die due to the fewer rescuers that will be there the next time?

It seems no good deed goes unpunished.