Posts tagged ‘Scott Adams’

Tipping Anxiety

I am glad I am not the only one who experiences anxiety over when to tip.  And from my experience, this observation by Scott Adams is dead on:

Now let me digress and add some context before I continue. Those of
you who travel a lot know that if you ask a driver about his life, you
never get a story that sounds like this: "Well, I was a drifter and a
hobo for awhile, but then I got this job driving you around. It's the
highlight of my life."

Instead you usually get something more like this: "After I won the
Nobel Prize I became a dissident in my country and had to flee. I
worked as a nuclear weapons inspector for awhile. Then I did some
software programming, which is easy because I have a doctorate degree
in math. Then I invented The Clapper and retired. Now I just do this
job to help out a friend."

Congrats to Scott Adams

Scott Adams and his Dilbert cartoon have brought me a lot of mirth over the years.  In fact, Dilbert and Dogbert look down on my right now from an animation cell over my desk.  So I was very excited to see his good-news story about his partial recovery from a disease that stole his voice. 

As regular readers of my blog know, I lost my voice about 18 months
ago. Permanently. It's something exotic called Spasmodic Dysphonia.
Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in
some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with
allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It
happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor "“ a specialist for this condition "“ how many
people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero. While there's no cure,
painful Botox injections through the front of the neck and into the
vocal cords can stop the spasms for a few months. That weakens the
muscles that otherwise spasm, but your voice is breathy and weak.

The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in
different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with
this problem can often sing but they can't talk. In my case I could do
my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely
whisper and grunt off stage. And most people with this condition report
they have the most trouble talking on the telephone or when there is
background noise. I can speak normally alone, but not around others.
That makes it sound like a social anxiety problem, but it's really just
a different context, because I could easily sing to those same people.

Except in Scott's case, he may have actually recovered.  How he got there is an amazing story, read it all.  From it, you can pick up three lessons:

  • The human brain is weirder than we can imagine
  • You do not want to get Spasmodic Dysphonia
  • Never give up

X-Ray Vision

So, since I have been too serious in my posting of late, and since I am too busy getting a proposal out the door to do any real critical thinking, here is Scott Adams on why having X-Ray vision would be a bad thing:

I think the worst super power you could have would be x-ray vision.
Take a look around you right now and ask yourself how many people would
look better without clothes. Not many. And if you could see inside
them, that would be even uglier, but not in every case. You've heard
the saying "She's beautiful on the inside." I think what that means is
that her appendix is more attractive than her face.

The best part about x-ray vision is that you would no longer have to
ask pregnant women if they know the genders of their babies. You could
just look right into the womb with your x-ray eyes and, in all
likelihood, mutate the baby's genetic code. Good times.

If everyone had x-ray eyes, you would hear sentences that you've never before heard, such as:

"Let's take a break. As you can see, my bladder is pretty much topped off."

"Is that the pulled pork sandwich you had for lunch? How was it?"

"Clear the room! Monty "˜s about to launch a zeppelin!"

"I see your baby is a boy. And wow. He's going to be popular."

And last, "You're looking at the umbilical cord, moron."

Scott Adams Explains Humor

Its been linked around quite a bit, but if you haven't seen it, Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert", has a blog.  Most of the posts are humorous, but in this post he provides a framework for thinking about humor:

The core of humor is what I call the 2-of-6 rule. In order for something to be
funny, you need at least two of the following elements:

(as in kids and animals)




(You've been there)



invented this rule, but you can check for yourself that whenever something is
funny it follows the rule. And when something isn't, it doesn't. One
of the reasons comics are such a popular form of humor is that they often get
the cute part automatically. Calvin and Hobbes is widely considered the best comic ever, but the few times it featured the parents doing the main action, it
fell flat. Whenever it combined Calvin and Hobbes (both exceedingly cute), with
some witty dialog (clever), a dangerous wagon ride (cruel), Calvin acting like a
typical kid (recognizable), and thinking about adult philosophy (bizarre) it
fired on 5-of-6 humor elements, which is virtually unheard of.

I spent WAY too much time in business school and as a consultant deconstructing businesses and industries into processes and frameworks.  It is interesting to see something we geeks think of as unstructured and creative (e.g. humor) deconstructed scientifically as well.