Posted by gdkonstantine under Thoughts
Below is a link to a TED talk by Yves Morieux. In the talk, he mentions that Jorgen Vig Knudstrop (CEO of Lego) has a saying, “Blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask[ing] for help.” I agree with that statement, but I would change the second part to “failing to get help”. In that way it would include, “failing to make it easy for others to help you.” I’ve seen this kind of failure. Whether it comes from stubborn pride or a poor character, it’s just sad. Picture a man who can’t swim who has somehow fallen into the sea. Then, when someone comes by to help, the drowning man starts to curse his potential saviour all the while denying that there is anything wrong. How do you help such a person?
In a roundabout way, this reminded me of some advice from a former boss. My boss’s brother was an auto mechanic. From time-to-time a customer would come in to shop with a very strong opinion about what was wrong his car. (It was almost always men who had these unflinching views.) For example, if the car is having fuel injector problems, but the customer might be insisting the mechanic replace the transmission. What should the mechanic do? What if he only fixes the fuel injector, but then, a week later, something really does go wrong with the transmission. The mechanic looks like an idiot. My boss felt that the customer was forcing the mechanic to do work that wasn’t needed. (Assuming the mechanic actually did replace the transmission, he could at least sleep well at night convinced that he only did what the customer wanted.) His advice was don’t be a know-it-all.
So, before I become a know-it-all, I’ll finish with what I take away from this: “Be nice and be humble.”
Here is the TED Talk (12m02s)
Yves Morieux – TED Talk
Posted by gdkonstantine under Uncategorized
As I write this post, I’m in the middle of a cold. As far as colds go, this one hasn’t been that bad. (My primary symptom is a stuffed nose.) On the other hand, I am lucky to have gone flu-free this winter season… so far. I went to the flu clinic in early November. The photo below shows the number I got from the Turn-O-Matic dispensing machine. It failed to scare me and I bravely went ahead and got a flu shot. I wish everyone good health in 2014!
Is this ticket trying to scare me?
Some more photos taken in local parks during the last two weeks. These ones with a focus on birds.
James Park Pond with ducks
A highway of ducks…
Posted by gdkonstantine under Photos
| Tags: Toronto Parks
, winter views
The recent ice storm hit Ontario pretty hard, and sadly there are still some people without electricity. Still, it made for some interesting winter vistas. Below are some photos I took in some Toronto parks.
Toronto Botanical Garden
Toronto Botanical Garden – Trees
Toronto Park Pond
In 1963, [Philip K.] Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle. Although he was hailed as a genius in the science fiction world, the mainstream literary world was unappreciative, and he could publish books only through low-paying science fiction publishers such as Ace. Even in his later years, he continued to have financial troubles.
In the introduction to the 1980 short story collection The Golden Man, Dick wrote: “Several years ago, when I was ill, [Robert] Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.”
The above passage is adapted from the Wikipedia entry on Philip K. Dick ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_k_dick )
The movies “Blade Runner” ,”Total Recall” and “Minority Report” were based on Philip K. Dick stories. Robert Heinlein is considered one of the grand masters of science fiction. His work includes: “Starship Troopers”, “The Puppet Masters” and “Strangers in a Strange Land”.
Here’s a scenario to consider. You’ve just kicked out the king and you and your friends have proclaimed your country a republic. So, how do you pick the president? You will probably declare the person who gets the most votes in a general election is the president. That makes sense. So how do you pick the vice-president? How about the person with the second-most votes for president? That also kind of makes sense because this person was the second-most popular politician in the election.
It may seem obvious that there will be problems with this method, but when the United States of America was a new country and the spirit of camaraderie was still strong, it seemed like a good idea. With time it became apparent that having a president and a vice-president that would get along was a better idea. So, in 1804, the 12th Amendment was passed ending the “first place, second place” method of picking the two highest positions in the American government. (My description of the process is simplified, but the general idea is correct.)
All this shouldn’t seem odd or disappointing. During the original experiment in democracy, in ancient Athens, there were many tweaks to the political process after loopholes were discovered and fairness needed to be restored. Today things are no different.
Up to this point, I have refrained from discussing the embarrassing actions of the current mayor of Toronto. There is quite a bit already discussed in the media and the internet. “Why hasn’t he been thrown out?” is a valid question. The answer is that the proper mechanism isn’t there. The way things are structured, the office of mayor in Toronto is not as strong as it is in many other cities, so it is easier to minimize his impact. Nonetheless, this sad episode points to a need for reform.
Again, this isn’t odd or disappointing. Since humanity isn’t perfect, the democratic process must continuously be adjusted in either small or big ways. Hopefully, if one good thing comes out this debacle, it will be changes to the system. The best we can do is stay vigilant and debate the issues openly and honestly.
Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was a American science fiction writer famous for such stories as “Stranger in a Strange Land”, “Starship Troopers” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. He had five rules for writing success:
Rule 1: You Must Write
Rule 2: Finish What Your Start
Rule 3: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
Rule 4: You Must Put Your Story on the Market
Rule 5: You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold
What may strike people as odd is that he doesn’t discuss things like plot, character development or grammar. Heinlein advice is really about staying focussed. Another sci-fi writer, Robert J. Sawyer, looks at these rules in more detail here: http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm
(Source for the quotes: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/421667-heinlein-s-rules-for-writers-rule-one-you-must-write-rule)