Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Torture Me Efficiently

"If you do what you did then you'll get what you got."

I saw that first defined as an ancient Air Force proverb. It's been other places too, in slightly different wording.

It also shows up as a definition of insanity, as in if you repeat something and expect a different result then you are nuts. Same thing.

I used to keep hearing about so and so being a success. Or whether you'd be a success to do this versus that. Also stupid.

There is no Success with a capital S. It's a description of accomplishment, not a place, not a condition. There is no success without being successful at something.

To talk about being a success in business makes no sense. Which business, when, where, how long, with whom? And other constraints. All needed. Then maybe we can talk.

Lately, as in the past few years, there has been talk of leaving Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever, upon success. Like it's at the end of some road and all we have to do is keep driving. Keep doing this, and then we'll see it one day, in the future, somewhere, and that will be it. Until then keep doing the same things over and over.

So who was it that was water-boarded 183 times in one month? How do you call that interrogation, "enhanced" or otherwise? And what do you suppose you are doing? Just going through the motions.

Imagine eating ice cream. Imagine eating a pint of ice cream. Imagine eating a pint of ice cream every day. Imagine eating a pint of ice cream every day for a month. Imagine eating a pint of ice cream six times a day every day for a month.

Anything done that frequently for so long is pointless. Even eating ice cream.

So on the other hand people are now debating endlessly at every location about whether torture works. This is another pit of stupidity. You notice that no one, at all, asks whether torture works for one particular thing and one particular time on by or for one particular set of people.

There is no such thing as works or not works.

This is a dense knot of pointless stupidity all around, especially on the side of those who claim that torture does not work. This is so obvious that no one is even addressing it.

The point is that torture works or no one would do it.

How often do you walk on the ceiling? Why not? (I think you don't.)

The answer is that it's too much work given the result. Not useful. Torture is the same. Except that it has useful results. In other words it works.

Just not for what people are silently thinking of when they debate it.

Torture is excellent punishment.

What could possibly be more satisfying than digging out someone's eyes? Or [insert your favorite horrible thing here]. No trial, no lawyers, no judges, no laws, no oversight, no wait. Grab a body and relieve yourself by dismantling it. Instant gratification. Makes you feel morally superior right away. ("What do you think would happen if THEY had captured YOU?")

Obviously. So let's do it here, now, to get back at THEM. Damn straight. Before they even have a chance to get close to us.

Torture works as punishment.

Torture is also exquisitely effective at generating confessions. No, this is true.

Take any person whatsoever. Within 12 hours you can make that person confess to at least 12 different things, maybe more. This is so efficient that it's even obscene. So efficient. See, what you do then is up to you.

You can pick which one of those confessions fits the crime you need to punish (or keep going until the right confession pops up). You can save all of them and wait until the right crime comes along. Hey, you already have the perpetrator. No sweat. No fuss. No muss. No effort needed.

Or - and this is really genius - you can take the confession even if it doesn't match any crime at all, and punish based on that, since the confession has uncovered the crime.

Bingo. You win in any of three different ways. You can even punish the same person for multiple crimes, or apply those confessions and their matching punishments to other people that happened to get named in the process.

Or torture them too, to show your superiority. To demonstrate rightness. To make the point that you can. If you want to. And you do.

Go ahead and let your moral outrage loose. Lay on more of the same techniques as punishment. Dump the body, mail it back to its family, use it as fertilizer in your garden, stick it on a post. It all works, and you are so much better off than if you had one of those fancy legal systems with the tail fins and government regulations stuck all over it.

And yet people go on and on about whether torture works. Barking idiots. Have them come by for a visit. We'll show them what works.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting To The Point In Six


"In the end, everything simply began." Ali Smith wrote that. It's his six word story. Its meaning is left as an exercise for the reader. As they say.

Go figure. Come back. We'll talk then.

If you haven't heard yet, all of this is said to have started with Ernest Heminqway, when challenged to write a story in only six words. He did. It's good. Look it up.

Jim Lyon: "Walking home, she regained her virginity."

Yehuda Berlinger: "Found the bouquet in the garbage."

Gregory Maguire: "Commas, see, add, like, nada, okay?"

Alan Moore: "Machine. Unexpectedly, I'd invented a time"

Steven Meretzky: "Steve ignores editor's word limit and"

Get the picture yet?

I just found a small web site called "Six Word Stories" where these are being collected. There is more than one of these sites, but the quality here is good. Try it.

Ocean Master: "Mime trapped in box. Irony lost."

Jkypoo: "Fell asleep smoking. Woke up homeless."

Or search for the others.

Or make your own.

References:

Six Word Stories
Six Word Stories at Twitter
To cut a long story short
Caterina Fake
Fifty Original Six Word Stories, by Yehuda Berlinger
Wired: Very Short Stories - 33 writers. 5 designers. 6-word science fiction.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Information Density And Continuing Value

You buy a book. You read it and put it on your shelf. You never really want to read it again.

This is familiar, even more familiar with shorter pieces. If the book is a novel, there's a chance you'll reread it. Or if it's a textbook.

Much less so if it's not a book. If it's a pamphlet. Or if it's a daily newspaper. There's no need to ever look at either again.

Why?

Because there isn't enough there, and because what is there is not so moving.

Things are different with other media.

Take music. Music is different.

Music has a much higher information density.

Music is mainly non-verbal content.

Music's content is mostly emotional.

Music is different from writing. Writing is linear. Even though you can jump around, any place you put your eyes requires linear effort. And you have to work at understanding what you're doing.

Music is non-verbal. Even with lyrics. Lyrics are more like seasoning than the meat of the meal. Since music is non-verbal, it doesn't require thought. We can appreciate music with the non-rational parts of our minds.

Music's content is mainly emotional. This reinforces the non-linear, non-verbal aspects.

And music is dense. Even the notes of a single instrument are made of complex sounds. Add more instruments, a complex piece, add time, and you have a rich enfolding and layering of sounds and rhythms that interact in complex ways.

All of this plays out differently each time that a given piece is performed, even if it's a recorded piece, and also depends on the listener's mood, freshness, state of mind, and location at the time of listening.

Motion pictures are similar to music.

Compare a motion picture to a still photo. Different. No doubt about that. The still photo is more like a short story, the motion picture to a novel.

There's a still starker contrast comparing a motion picture to a piece of writing. No contest. You can watch a movie many times over and enjoy it each time, getting more and more from it. Not so much from a written plot outline.

And to enhance motion pictures even more, they can contain music. They are more like life, and no matter what, no matter who you are, life is something that no one tires of.

To write well you need to have lots of information complex ideas expressed simply the telling of involved stories imagery conjuring visual and other imagery emotion

I'm still working on it.

Here's a good story from Ian Frazier, published in the New Yorker: "Coyote v. Acme Products Corp."

References:

Coyote v. Acme Products Corp.



COYOTE V. ACME PRODUCTS CORP.

In The United States District Court,

Southwestern District, Tempe, Arizona

Case No. B19293

February 29, 1992

Judge Homer Simpson, Presiding



Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff

vs.

Acme Products Corporation, A Delaware Corporation, Defendant

Plaintiff's Opening Statement

Defendant's Opening Statement




OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. IMA SCHOFFER, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF, MR. WILE E. COYOTE

My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Products Corporation ("ACME"), manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise, incorporated in Delaware and doing business in every state, district, and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries, loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result of the actions and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15 of the United States Code, Chapter 47, section 2072, subsection (a), relating to product liability.

Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions he has purchased of the Acme Company (hereinafter, "Defendant"), through that company`s mail-order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labelling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in his profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workers Compensation.

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13, 1989, he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden shipping crate and sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote`s forelimbs to a length of fifty feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote`s body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poorly designed steering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or nonexistent braking system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled brought it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.

Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exhibit B), prepared by Dr. Ernest Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures, contusions, and tissue damage suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this collision. Repair of the injuries required a full bandage around the head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial casts on all four legs.

Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to support himself. With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket Skates. When he attempted to use this product, however, he became involved in an accident remarkably similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant sold over the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful jet engines (in this case, two) to inadequate vehicles, with little or no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered by his heavy casts, Mr. Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them on, and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his full silhouette.

Mr. Coyote states that on occasions too numerous to list in this document he has suffered mishaps with explosives purchased of Defendant: the Acme "Little Giant" Firecracker, the Acme Self-Guided Aerial Bomb, etc. (For a full listing, see the Acme Mail Order Explosives Catalogue and attached deposition, entered in evidence as Exhibit C.) Indeed, it is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by Mr. Coyote performed in an expected manner. To cite just one example: At the expense of much time and personal effort, Mr. Coyote constructed around the outer rim of a butte a wooden trough beginning at the top of the butte and spiraling downward around it to some few feet above a black X painted on the desert floor. The trough was designed in such a way that a spherical explosive of the type sold by Defendant would roll easily and swiftly down to the point of detonation indicated by the X. Mr. Coyote placed a generous pile of birdseed directly on the X, and then, carrying the spherical Acme Bomb (Catalogue #78-832), climbed to the top of the butte. Mr. Coyote's prey, seeing the birdseed, approached, and Mr. Coyote proceeded to light the fuse. In an instant, the fuse burned down to the stem, causing the Bomb to detonate. In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:
  1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
  2. Sooty discoloration.
  3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with a creaking noise.
  4. Full or partial combustion of whiskers, producing kinking, frazzling, and ashy disintegration.
  5. Radical widening of the eyes, due to brow and lid charring.

We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of these purchased by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd, 1990 are Plaintiff's Exhibit D. Selected fragments have been shipped to the metallurgical laboratories of the University of California at Santa Barbara for analysis, but to date, no explanation has been found for this product's sudden and extreme malfunction. As advertised by Defendant, this product is simplicity itself: two wood-and-metal sandals, each attached to milled-steel springs of high tensile strength and compressed in a tightly coiled position by a cocking device with a lanyard release. Mr. Coyote believed that this product would enable him to pounce upon his prey in the initial moments of the chase, when swift reflexes are at a premium.

To increase the shoes' thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed them by their bottoms to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the boulder was a path which Mr. Coyote's prey was known to frequent. Mr. Coyote put his hind feet in the wood-and-metal sandals and crouched in readiness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard release. Within a short time Mr. Coyote's prey did indeed appear on the path coming toward him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well within range of the springs at full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard release.

At this point, Defendant's product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward and away from the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme Spring- Powered Shoes thrust the boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the intended prey looked on unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung suspended in air. Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent feet-first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and forequarters falling upon his lower extremities.

The force of this impact then caused the springs to rebound, whereupon Mr. Coyote was thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed. The boulder, meanwhile, which was roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of the springs adding to its velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came into contact with the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process continued for some time.

The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr. Coyote, viz., flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the tongue, reduction of length of legs and upper body, and compression of vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of blows along a vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr. Coyote's body tissues -- a rare and painful condition which caused Mr. Coyote to expand upward and contract downward alternately as he walked, and to emit an off-key, accordion like wheezing with every step. The distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom has been a major impediment to Mr. Coyote's pursuit of a normal social life.

As the court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of manufacture and sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote's work. It is our contention that Defendant has used its market advantage to the detriment of the consumer of such specialized products as itching powder, giant kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred-foot-long rubber bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant's products, Mr. Coyote has no other domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only wonder what our trading partners in Western Europe and Japan would make of such a situation, where a giant company is allowed to victimize the consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over again.

Mr. Coyote respectfully requests that the Court regard these larger economic implications and assess punitive damages in the amount of seventeen million dollars. In addition, Mr. Coyote seeks actual damages (missed meals, medical expenses, days lost from professional occupation) of one million dollars; general damages (mental suffering, injury to reputation) of twenty million dollars; and attorney's fees of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full amount, this Court will censure Defendant, its directors, officers, shareholders, successors, and assigns, in the only language they understand, and reaffirm the right of the individual predator to equal protection under the law.

OPENING STATEMENT OF ARTHUR B. FUDDLE, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT, ACME PRODUCTS CORPORATION

Ladies and Gentleman of the jury: the opening statement you have just heard from Mr. Schoffer on behalf of the plaintiff, Wile E. Coyote, paints an incomplete picture of what occurred on the occasions when Mr. Coyote claims he was injured by ACME products.

The evidence will clearly show that my client, ACME Products Corp., a Division of Dangerously Innovative Products and Patents Incorporated (or "DIPPI"), is not at fault in this matter, and that any injuries sustained by the plaintiff were clearly caused by his own negligence, assumption of the risk and/or misuse of the products.

Now, we have all seen the footage on television of the plaintiff withstanding various injuries which appear to be caused by ACME's products. You have seen over and over the tape of a hapless coyote being bludgeoned by a boulder as he is helplessly trapped by his ACME Spring Loaded Shoes. We have all seen the photographs taken at Warner Memorial Hospital of Mr. Coyote in a very small incubator, on life support, as his doctors attempt to straighten out the accordion-like folds from his body. We have all seen the gruesome images of the operation in which Dr. Tazmanian D. Devil whirls like a dervish, obscuring his features and creating a starry, "dust cloud" effect, while numerous limbs holding various surgical instruments swiftly repair the nerve damage to Mr. Coyote's extremities.

It is normal for any human being to feel pity, horror, and even anger at such images. I want you to put those images aside for the moment, because they paint an incomplete picture. What the media has not disclosed to you, and what you will see in this courtroom, are various attempts at murder committed by the plaintiff - attempts which, fortunately, failed - while using my client's products. As the plaintiff readily admits, he is a predator, and his sole function in life is to track down and kill an innocent, highway traversing ornithoid.

You see, ladies and gentleman, while the plaintiff is a natural predator, he is not a very good one. His own skills were inadequate to complete the task at hand, so he chose to seek the aid of various devices to effectuate his diabolical schemes. He looked in a catalogue, saw my client's products, and ordered them in the hope that they would assist him in killing his prey.

But ladies and gentleman, ACME's products are not meant to cause intentional harm to anyone. The plaintiff has taken what were designed as amusements, toys for the young and feebleminded, and has twisted their use to his own purposes.

But I digress. Let us examine the plaintiff's claims and how the evidence clearly refutes the proposition that ACME is responsible for any harm sustained by the plaintiff.

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13, 1989 he received an ACME Rocket Sled, that he attempted to use said rocket sled to pursue his prey, and that, upon igniting the sled, it accelerated with "sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifty feet."

There are several reasons why ACME cannot be held responsible for any injuries caused by this incident. First, the warning label attached conspicuously to the inside of the left front tire of the sled clearly stated, and I quote:

"WARNING: IGNITION OF THIS DEVICE AT FULL THROTTLE MAY CAUSE SUDDEN AND PRECIPITATE FORCE AS TO STRETCH USER'S FORELIMBS TO A LENGTH OF UP TO SIXTY FEET, OR MAY CAUSE DEATH."

That the plaintiff suffered so little as a result of his carelessness can be attributed only to Providence.

Second, Arizona law is clear on this point: a plaintiff who is found to be violating any law whose purpose is safety at the time of his injury is contributorily negligent *per se*. There is ample evidence that Mr. Coyote was violating both the laws of gravity and inertia at the time of this incident, and thus he is responsible for his own woes.

I could list many more examples of Mr. Coyote's negligent conduct in connection with his use of ACME's products, but you will hear all about them as the trial goes on. You will also hear the following evidence:

(1) You will hear the plaintiff himself testify that, prior to the injuries complained of in this accident, he has suffered numerous injuries. As an example, on one occasion prior to the use of any ACME product, the plaintiff cornered his prey on the edge of a rather thin precipice. Taking an ordinary saw, the plaintiff began cutting away so that the edge of the cliff, with his prey on it, would drop some 1500 feet to a jagged, rocky destruction. Instead, by some inexplicable twist of fate the edge of the cliff remained standing while the whole mountain, on which the plaintiff was standing, plummeted to the bottom of the ravine, causing numerous injuries which affect plaintiff to this day.

On another occasion, Mr. Coyote was chasing his prey and followed it off of the edge of a cliff into thin air, not realizing until too late that his prey, a bird, could remain in the air almost indefinitely while he, a canine, could not. As a result, he fell yet again, suffering even further severe and debilitating injuries which predate the injuries complained of in this action.

(2) You will also hear the testimony of Mr. Road Runner, the plaintiff's prey and the true victim in this tragedy. Mr. Runner has been forced to live a nomadic lifestyle as a result of Mr. Coyote's unwanted attention, preventing him from forming any type of long term relationship. Numerous restraining orders had no effect. Mr. Runner has also suffered numerous psychological problems as a result of Mr. Coyote's actions, including but not limited to an inability to trust anyone who provides him with bird seed, a necessary ingredient in his daily nutritional schedule.

(3) You will also hear from a witness to many of the incidents alleged in plaintiff's complaint, a colorful local prospector with red hair and mustache who has been known to proclaim: "No rootin' tootin' coyote can outsmart Yosemite Sam on any day of the week!" Don't be fooled by his gruff manner and twin pearl-handled six-shooters - he's a pussycat.

(4) Customer service records of defendant ACME, which we were forced to produce in this matter, clearly show that none of the complaints registered by ACME's customers nation-wide have ever resulted in criminal convictions of the officers of the corporation.

(5) Finally, videotape evidence will demonstrate that plaintiff faked many of his injuries, setting out to create performances especially for a jury such as yourself. On numerous occasions he would "mug" for the camera, as if he was well aware beforehand that he was being taped. For instance, during the "Rocket Sled" incident, as his forelimbs were stretched out ahead of him and his body remained behind, he looked straight into the camera with a forlorn, tired expression, as if to say: "Look at how terrible my situation is, can you guess what's going to happen to me now?" This jury is too smart to fall for such petty theatrics.

In summary, ladies and gentlemen, it will be clear to you from the evidence that ACME's products, if used properly, will cause only minimal injuries to a user and his loved ones. The plaintiff in this case has brought his troubles upon himself by adopting his carnivorous lifestyle. As others have so adequately uttered: "Live by the Super Slick Jet Propulsion Automated Explosive Metal-Shearing Heat-Seeking Laser-Guided Razor-Edged Boomerang, die by the Super Slick, etc."

I ask you, on behalf of my client, an American-owned company, to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against it.


Original piece by Frazier, I., Coyote v. Acme, New Yorker. v66, Feb 26, 1990, p. 42

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Good, Goodest, Or Goodenough?

Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth" lists 43 items.

Number two is "Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth."

In other words, if I may paraphrase, excellence is not guaranteed by consensus. Results are not even guaranteed by consensus. Working toward consensus may lead only to deadlock.

Take a recent post by primo web designer Douglas Bowman. In "Goodbye, Google", part one, he tells of his resignation, and of some reasons why. "Yes, it's true that a team at Google couldn't decide between two blues, so they're testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can't operate in an environment like that. I've grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle."

Sounds like a good reason to leave, even for Twitter, which is where he went.

Some things cannot be decided by committee no matter how much time is put in.

In my own life I've seen a clear example of this.

First I lived in a state capital, where I was closely involved with a bicycling club. At that time my life was mainly bicycling. Day, night, weekends, and holidays. I lived for three years without a car.

When something needed doing, the club talked about it and then appointed a committee to study it.

I moved to another city, one not associated with government. I drifted into the bike club there to have some human contact, and although I was not a member, and not involved in running the organization as I had been in the first city, I noticed a difference.

It was obvious.

In this other place, when the bicycle club had an issue to confront, they'd discuss it for a few minutes, and then someone would say "I'll handle it." And it was done, and it was good. And it was settled.

True. This is different from creating a design for something, but the idea transfers.

It's like speech. Free speech. Which everyone is for until it's really needed.

Free speech is what no one wants to hear, but must. If you aren't offended or upset or opposed to what words run through your ears and muss your hair, then you aren't in the free speech zone. Free speech is what you don't want to hear, not what you agree on.

The same goes for "acceptable", "good", "excellent", and "Oh my effin god!!!!".

Committees do not surprise. They stupefy.

Keep thinking this: "Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth."

It might even hurt, but it's worth it.

References:

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Goodbye, Google


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Been Thinking About That Project

I've found that there can be a real mismatch when communicating with people about projects.

A lot depends on perspective, sure. Everyone brings their own history and goals to a project.

But it's usually deeper and a lot harder than that. Here's the deal as I've seen it: very few people think analytically.

So whoop de do. What does that mean, sport?

It means being able to stand back from the things that are bumping up and hitting you in the face right now and seeing the whole situation. Sort of.

Really, what's important is to see the situation behind the situation. Or put another way, to be able to turn on your x-ray vision and see causes and effects beneath all the flapping and whizzing on the surface.

So in a way it's the ability to ignore the obvious and pay attention to what's important.

That's hard.

It takes practice. It takes training. It takes a certain innate attitude. It requires restraint. And detachment.

You have to question everything you see and second guess yourself, but it isn't random thrashing around.

Why not?

Because whenever you think you have an answer you need to review your thoughts, perform a test, do a sanity check. Question your motives. Compare notes. That's the second guessing part.

It really isn't guessing at all.

Guessing comes up front. Call it brainstorming.

You throw random ideas into a hat. Until you get tired, or until they stop showing up. Then you let things settle. See what else pops up. If anything. If something does, grab it too.

Then you take your bag of things and look at them. See if they make sense. See if they fit a pattern. See if they represent something.

That's where it starts to get hard.

If you're good, and honest, and manage to keep your mind under control, you see a pattern. Or not.

Plan A: Things belong together. Or seem to. Arrange them and see. Then look for gaps to fill. Throw out the crazy stuff. Make it all tidy. OK, good.

Plan B: Nothing fits. Either you have random stuff or you aren't thinking clearly. Or you don't see a pattern, but you see where a pattern could go - where it would be if you had the right parts to make it. That's creativity at work. That's abstract thinking.

It's like inventing new worlds. Or seeing what hasn't been seen yet.

And it depends on analytical thinking, because analytical thinking tells you if it makes sense. If things seem to fit, sort of, roughly, but fight too much, you need more work. Do some fine tuning. Smooth the edges. Improve your thinking. Improve the fit.

That's good too, but there is more.

See, if you do this enough times then you start to see patterns behind the patterns. You get really abstract. You figure out not only how to solve today's problem but all problems like it. Whenever, wherever they show up. Crack the code for one and you can deal with them all.

Without getting lost in the details. It's learning to see what is important - the foundation - and building on that.

That produces good solutions that last.

It takes practice, and discipline, and integrity, and sometimes it's a hard concept to convey when you're talking to someone stuck on finding the right shade of blue when when maybe the point is deciding what the message should be.

Think about it.

From Buznutt