June 13, 2012

Not Enough Time In A Day

I wish I had more time to devote to this blog on a regular basis, but sadly, between my ESPN duties, the advice I give (gladly) on Twitter, the attempt-in-progress to get a taker for my second book, throwing in family responsibilities on top of all of that... well, something has to give. 

Typically, it's the blog that ends up falling through the cracks, especially when the lack of downtime leads to a lack of creativity in terms of figuring out exactly what topic to wax poetic about... 

I'm open to suggestions, so if you have any topics that you'd like me to address or movies you'd like me to review, things of that nature (outside of the world of sports, of course -- that's my other gig) -- feel free to offer them up in the comment field below and I'll see what I can do.

I also want to draw your attention to the DONATE button I've added to the blog to the right of this post. Believe it or not, this is at the request of a few Twitter followers who wished to "give back something" for all the advice I've given them. 

While I give my advice freely and without expecting anything in return, I would be foolish not to do the math and realize that if even 10 percent of my followers donated just $1/month, I'd be able to save up enough money to perhaps self-publish my next tome on my own.

Hey, it's worth a try! No pressure... you could always just find Sally Struthers and send it to her instead. 

By the way, have I mentioned how nice you all look today? Have you lost weight? 

June 5, 2012

Blocked, Not Shocked

In my last post, I offered my two cents on the whole Rebecca Watson-DJ Grothe feud. 

While I didn't expect everyone to agree with me, I certainly hoped that anyone who read what I wrote, both in the blog post itself and in the comments beneath it would see that I am far from a Watson-hater. 

In fact, I agree with much of what she has had to say, and while I think much of Grothe has argued is equally valid, I fully support Watson's decision to not attend TAM. 

I would have thought, however, that Watson had a thicker skin than to block me from her Twitter feed after the following exchange. Watson had posted a link about the King and Queen of Norway being required by law to be members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

Clearly in a playful mood, she followed up with a whimsical tweet, which I responded to in the hopes that she had a sense of humor about herself. Clearly, she does not... 

Yes, this tweet elicited no smiles, chuckles or guffaws, but rather a "block" from Rebecca Watson. 

Look, I get she might not have found it funny. But I meant it in good spirits. However, it goes to prove my point that when you read something, it often leads to misconceptions about the intent of the statement. And the only way to know for sure is to ask, not to cut off communication. 

Watson doesn't know me, so she doesn't owe me anything. If she took it the "wrong way" so be it. However I would have hoped that as someone who is upset that her own printed words were taken to mean something that she did not intend, that she would be a little slower on the trigger finger to judge others. 

Food for thought...

June 4, 2012

Elementary, My Dear

Back when I was in college, I took an Intro to Psychology course in order to fulfill my core requirements.

As part of the class, all students had to sign up for and take part in a number of "experiments" being conducted by more advanced students in the department. Naturally, the time commitment involved in each of these tasks varied as did (as I discovered) the quality of the subterfuge involved in accumulated data.

For example, one of the tasks required me to answer some questions about my personal views on a topic which I don't recall exactly, but it was probably along the lines of teen drinking and whether the legal age should be lowered or not.

After taking a look at my answers on the survey, I was placed in a private room and told in about fifteen minutes, I would be asked to debate my views with a professor and would be asked to take the contrary position to his, which happened to be pretty much in line with my response to the survey.

They also gave me a research package to study to help me shape my remarks, and the upshot of all of this was that after the fifteen minutes had elapsed, they told me the professor was not available after all, but would I mind taking an additional survey in order to get credit for volunteering?

The survey was similar to the original one, and the upshot of the whole experiment, I gathered, was they wanted to see if my opinion would change after being told I had to advocate the other side and was given all sorts of information that countered my pre-existing point of view.

Perhaps if I actually believed for an instance the scenario I was placed in I would have been a good subject, but as I never once truly thought that I would have to go through with the debate, the whole exercise seemed worthless to me.

In fact, the last thing they asked me was whether or not I believed the scenario, and when I said I did not, they thanked me for my time (and honesty) and said they couldn't use my data.


The "easiest" way to fulfill the obligation to volunteer for experiments was to take part in a survey. You'd go in, answer a few questions, and then you'd be done. These tended to fill up quickly, however, and I was only able to sign up for one such activity, one that was only open to males.

As it turns out, this survey dealt with the male attitude towards women. It was around 100 statements long. For each one, we were told to put a number from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) that corresponded to our level of agreement with the statement.

And so, I quickly worked my way through the document, strongly agreeing with sentences like "Women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job" and strongly disagreeing with "When a man sees a girl dressed in a way that turns him on that means she wants him to make sexual advances."

Then I got to a statement that simply left me flummoxed: "Any woman can be raped."

I had no idea how to respond to that question, because I couldn't figure out the context of what exactly the statement was trying to say. Obviously, if it meant that it was "It is OK for any woman to be raped" then the clear only answer that should be selected is "1 - strongly disagree."

However, given some of the surrounding sentences, I suspected that perhaps what was really being asked was if there was a certain kind of woman who was "immune" from rape. In other words, I thought the intention of the statement might have been better phrased as "It is possible for any woman to be raped." 

If that were the case, then the answer would have to be (sadly) "5 - strongly agree."

When I went up to the proctor of the survey to ask for clarification, he said he wasn't allowed to give me any, nor could I leave it blank and receive credit.

Since it was anonymous, though, I had a pretty good sense that failing to answer that question would not result in any repercussion, I did leave it blank rather than skew the data in a way that (due to the ambiguity I perceived) didn't represent my world view.

But all these years later, I still think back to that survey whenever I am witness to an argument between two people who appear to be at war over an issue on which they actually are on the same side, but due to a similar seeming ambiguity in something one of them said, battle lines have been drawn.

Imagine the following exchange:

Person A: Women who attend conferences like yours are not safe from sexual assault. Agree or disagree?

Person B: If by not safe you mean that it is possible for sexual assault to take place, then I agree. If by not safe you mean that the mere act of attending our conference makes it more likely that they will be sexually assaulted, then, I disagree. I worry that the way you phrase the statement may lead people to think the latter is true.

Person A: How dare you blame ME for the problem and not those who would commit sexual assault in the first place. I am not a liar! These things happen! I am not going to your conference. I do not feel safe.

While not exactly the conversation that is going on, that's my humble view of the current kerfuffle between Rebecca Watson and DJ Grothe, in the simplest of terms. It saddens me that these two people, and the supporters of each who have lined up on both sides, all seem to agree that sexual assault is a bad thing and should be eliminated. Yet rather than continue a dialogue on the real issue, the bile and hatred directed at each side by the other that I'm witnessing dismays me. 

All I can say is, I'm done with this survey and will be leaving my answer to this question blank.