Nebula reading

Book cover for Ancillary Justice

If you're a science fiction fan like I am, here's a new reading list.


Winner: Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)

(I picked up Ancillary Justice last week.)

Need more selection? There's also the Hugos nominee list, also provided courtesy of John Scalzi, former SFWA head and prolific opinionator on all things SF.

How to translate New Year's Resolutions into actions

Resolution time. It's the occasion to institute changes. Or at least resolve to change. It doesn't always work out, does it? The diet gets dropped. The fingernails get bitten. The cigarettes get smoked. The exercise gets blown off. And that's that. Right?

Maybe not. If you've ever had trouble shaking an addiction or behavior that ends up not serving your needs, you might find some hope (and results) in this analysis of addictive behavior, courtesy of Hyrum Smith, founder and creator of the Franklin planning system.

This post isn't about planning or time management. It's about the five-step cycle that drives our behavior.

I know I know, you probably believe this is just a bunch of hokum. (We'll get to beliefs and how they affect behavior in a minute.) But I'm not prescribing anything here. This is just a look at how behavior happens. I think it's empowering.

(These notes are drawn from a Franklin videotape called "Gaining Control." As far as I can tell, it's long out of print. And since then, the Franklin Institute became Franklin-Covey, and Hyrum Smith has gone on to other things. If you find this interesting, there are some links at the bottom of this post to some tape and book resources where you can learn much more on this.)

"The Reality Model"

According to this analysis, there are five steps to human behavior. Here's the breakdown.

1. Human Needs

We each have four basic human needs.

  1. To live.
  2. To love and be loved.
  3. To feel important.
  4. Variety.

If we are lacking any one or more of these needs, we may end up trying to fill them in.

File this away. We'll get back to it.

2. Belief Window

We all have beliefs, principles, convictions that determine how we interpret the world.

In the tape, Hyrum uses an example, "Men are better than women." Another might be, "My self-worth is dependent upon never losing an argument."

3. Rules:

These are "If...then..." statements, using the principles in the Belief Window has the premise.

Following on Hyrum's example: "If I get in an argument, then I must win."

4. Behavior Patterns:

These are the actions that result from the Rules. Thus, in the example case, "I" can never back down in an argument.

5. Results:

Here's the question: Will the results meet my needs over time?

If "I" never back down in an argument, never compromise, never acknowledge someone else's point, then is that making my life better?

Natural Law:

Hyrum Smith then makes these interesting points:

1 - If the results of your behavior do not meet your needs, then you have an incorrect principle on your belief window.

Your actions are the results of your principles on your Belief Window.

2 - Results take time to measure.

Sometimes it takes years. Look at smoking. Or heavy drinking.

3 - Growth is the process of changing principles on your belief window.

You can't change the behavior if the principles causing that behavior are not addressed. If you believe, "I can't stick with exercise programs," then you can try starting a workout regimen but you probably won't have much success sticking with it. If you believe, "Older women cannot be attractive," and you feel old, then dressing up will feel like an exercise in despair.

4 - Addictive behavior is the result of deep and unmet needs.

Interview ironies: 60 Minutes/Nightline "puff" vs. Daily Show hardball

Via Romanesko:

CBS, ABC Deny Airing "Puff" on Thomas

CBS-TV and ABC-TV defended their networks' pieces on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas amid criticism that "60 Minutes" and "Nightline" had offered up uncritical "puff pieces" as they interviewed Thomas in connection with his new memoir, "My Grandfather's Son."

...As noted Monday, the reviews were different on the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists, and in a discussion of the "60 Minutes" piece on PBS' "The Tavis Smiley Show."

"I've now watched the 60 Minutes interview and the Nightline interview. It was like watching the Home Shopping Network," wrote one. "You mean to tell me that there was not a single critical commentator on Clarence Thomas' record? These things could have been on Larry King and no one would have blinked. I'm rarely disgusted, but this was pure journalistic drivel."

Meanwhile, the man who does the real fake journalism, Jon Stewart, seems to demonstrate a bit more journalistic integrity, albeit in his own comic style, than is de rigeur for the mainstream media book promotion routine:

Oh the irony!

The age of the amateur

Yesterday I was in Barnes & Noble (bricks & mortar) and saw that Vernor Vinge's new book is out -- "Rainbow's End."

I've loved his novels, especially "A Fire Upon the Deep" and "A Deepness is the Sky." So I pulled it down and took a peek.

Warning: Page 1 spoilers!-----

On the first page, we read about an epidemic that was discovered by amateurs that caught everyone, including what seems to be an international Center for Disease Control. This extra insight from the amateurs of the world is something of a shock to the officials.

I stopped reading there. Already having a book to read in my all-too-rare spare moments, I returned Mr. Vinge's novel to the shelf -- something for another time.

But it struck me an hour or so later just how unprofound the events of the first two pages was to me. Amateurs scooping the establishment? These days it happens all the time, online.

As Lisa Stone's thumbnail recap of a Netsquared presentation by Tara Hunt captures so well:

Tara described a major directional change in influence. Used to be that Influence began with Elites and then petered out with Amateurs. Today she says (and tomorrow too) it'll be the reverse -- Amateurs will be major influencers.

...and not just "influencers," imho, but informers and reporters as well.

Back before the age of the www, I had a writing teacher tell our class, "The world has infinite knowledge." In other words, don't bullshit because someone will call you on it. Better to consult and connect with the world.


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