Read the First Paragraph of This Post Out Loud*

must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com;

That should do it; you can stop now. (If you didn’t didn’t read it out loud, go back and do it now; I’ll wait.)

So what was the point of having you read that first paragraph out loud?

A study from the University of Waterloo has found you are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud. The study found that speaking text aloud helps to get words into long-term memory. Dubbed the “production effect,” the study determined that it is the dual action of speaking and hearing oneself that has the most beneficial impact on memory.

Colin M. MacLeod, a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, co-authored the study with the lead author, post-doctoral fellow Noah Forrin. In addition to this production effect, MacLeod notes that doing puzzles and crosswords, along with regular exercise and movement, may also help strengthen the memory of seniors.

Hopefully at this point you realize I write something every day (1,075 straight days), but you may occasionally forget my web address or get busy with something during the day. As a result you might miss out on a chance to say to yourself, “I can’t believe what nonsense Borden posted today!” And who doesn’t like that feeling of superiority over someone?

So to lessen the likelihood of that, just read the final paragraph out loud:

must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com; must read jborden.com;

*P.S. Don’t be shy about doing this is public spaces; there may be memory benefits for those who are in close proximity as well…

**photo found at http://www.emmersionlearning.com/power-reading-loud/

Another Great Semester of VUnited

Last spring, I wrote about my wonderful experience as a participant in VUnited, a program run by Villanova students that provides an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to be exposed to college life.

This past weekend was the final week of the program, and included presentations by the students, along with awarding the students certificates of completion.

The presentations were the culmination of a six week program that taught students about money management, health, nutrition, grocery shopping, cooking, job applications, and social media.

The presentations were fantastic. The students had been asked to talk about something they were passionate about, and they delivered. Among the topics discussed were:

  • a young man presented photos of his recent tour of some national parks with his mom; you could tell he loved the trip.
  • a young man gave a talk about how to give an effective speech; one of the funniest speeches I have heard in a while, the presenter was quite good
  • a young man talked about how much he liked working at McDonald’s; kudos to the young man and McDonald’s
  • a young man showed pictures of places around the world he has visited, including Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tucson, and Dublin
  • a young man talked about his experience as the manager of a local high school football team, and how he actually got in a game – and scored a touchdown!
  • a young woman talked about her family, including the fact that her dad is a Cowboys fan, while she and her mom are Eagles fans!
  • a young woman showed many pictures of her time spent playing softball and soccer as part of the Special Olympics; you can tell she loves being part of the team
  • a young woman wrapped it up by also talking about her love of playing basketball as part of the Special Olympics; she noted that her goal is to teach basketball to her friends in India!

So congratulations to the students for making such wonderful presentations, and to all the Villanova students who served as mentors and friends to these students.

It’s students like this that make Villanova a special place, and I am honored to be part of such a wonderful group. You can learn more about VUnited by clicking here.

Special Blog Edition for Fourth Graders*

See Jimmy. See Jimmy stare at blank screen for two hours. See Jimmy finally write his blog.

See Mary. See Mary read Jimmy’s blog. See Mary fall asleep.

See Pat. See Pat like Jimmy’s blog. See Jimmy’s total likes for his blog posts usually equal one.

See Jimmy’s subscribers. See Jimmy whine about how few subscribers he has.

See some hot topic. See Jimmy write about it six months later, when no one cares anymore.

See the pictures on Jimmy’s blog. See those same pictures somewhere else on the Internet. See Jimmy’s web site shutdown for copyright violation.

See Jimmy’s blog. See Jimmy’s blog contribute to the decline in literacy in the United States. See Jimmy not care. See Jimmy say, “The blog must go on.”

See Jimmy realize that most of his blogs are written at the same level as this post.


*The results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, an assessment given to fourth-graders in schools around the world every five years, show that the average score in the United States dropped to 549 out of 1,000 in 2016, compared to 556 in 2011. The country’s ranking fell from fifth in the world in 2011 to 13th, with 12 education systems outscoring the United States by statistically significant margins. Three other countries roughly tied with the United States; they  scored higher, but the differences were not ­notable.

I wrote this blog in honor of these fourth graders…

 

Drunk Droning?

New Jersey lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would make operating a drone under the influence of alcohol a disorderly persons offense, which carries a sentence of up to six months in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.

The legislation cleared an Assembly committee on Monday and is up for a vote in the full Senate on Thursday. The law would also make using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property a similar offense and would prohibit using drones to endanger safety at correctional facilities a crime as well as interfering with first responders who are engaged in transport.

U.S. airspace is exclusively regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, which already has rules in place barring the drunken operation of drones. However, according to Jonathan Rupprecht, an aviation attorney based in Florida, many states are pursuing their own legislation because of a “lack of enforcement” at the federal level.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Yes, I’ve heard that drones can be dangerous, and I agree that there needs to be regulations in place to control their use.

But to me such laws seem like they should be enough. If someone violates whatever drone operations laws are in place, then they should face consequences, whether they are sober or drunk.

But if someone is just out flying his or her drone in compliance with the drone laws, then I don’t think that person should be targeted by law enforcement just because they’ve had a couple of drinks while flying the drone.

Perhaps a compromise would be to make the penalties more severe IF someone violates existing drone regulations and the person is drunk.

But sitting out on your deck, drinking a six pack, and flying a drone around your back yard, under complete control?

Even if you’re considered “drunk”, I don’t think that type of behavior needs to be regulated.

P.S. By the way, here’s an article from Slate from a couple of years ago arguing in favor of such drunk droning laws. Just giving you both sides of the argument…

*Photo from Rotor Riot

Another Benefit of Sharing Embarrassing Moments

Back in July I wrote a post (based on a Dan Ariely WSJ column ) about how sharing embarrassing stories is a wonderful way to get to know one another, and I shared a few such stories.

Leigh Thompson, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the author of nine books, recently shared another use for embarrassing stories.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Thompson shared research she did with her colleagues that explored whether people could be primed for better brainstorming before the idea generation even starts. In the first experiment, they asked one set of participants to describe a time they’d felt embarrassed in the previous six months; they next asked a second group to describe a time they’d felt proud. The researchers then asked each individual to spend 10 minutes thinking of new uses for a paper clip.

On average, the embarrassing stories group well outperformed their counterparts, both on fluency (the sheer volume of ideas they generated) and flexibility (how many different kinds of ideas they came up with).

In a second study, the researchers randomly assigned 93 managers from a range of companies and industries to three-person teams, and gave them one of two group “introduction” and “warm-up” exercises. Half of the groups were told to share embarrassing stories; half talked about times they had felt pride. The anecdotes had to involve them personally and have happened in the previous six months.

After 10 minutes, they introduced the brainstorming challenge — this time, to generate as many unusual uses for a cardboard box as possible, also in 10 minutes. Using the same scoring criteria — fluency and flexibility — they found that the “embarrassment” teams generated 26% more ideas spanning 15% more use categories than their counterparts.

In conclusion, Thompson notes:

Candor led to greater creativity. Thus, we propose a new rule for brainstorming sessions: Tell a self-deprecating story before you start. As uncomfortable as this may seem, especially among colleagues you would typically want to impress, the result will be a broader range of creative ideas, which will surely impress them even more.”

If that’s the case, then I have the chance to be one of the most creative people the world has ever seen.

I wonder is there’s added creativity for turning red when you tell such stories…

P.S. If you came here looking for more embarrassing stories, my apologies. But me walking into a glass door never gets old:

 

Companies Get Together to Create Ads That Are Highly Critical of Its Products

Imagine companies advertising how bad their products are. If you think there is some benefit to be gained from advertising, then this behavior makes no sense.

Yet several companies started doing just that. I should also point out that such advertising was mandated by the Department of Justice.

So what companies are doing this, and perhaps more importantly, why are they doing this?

Philip Morris USA, Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Altria Group are the companies involved. If you don’t recognize those names, all these companes are part of the tobacco industry.

The ads are the culmination of nearly a two-decade court battle between the tobacco companies and the Justice Department.

The ads are considered “corrective statements” that a federal court judge ordered tobacco companies in the U.S. to release to inform the public about the dangers of smoking.

Here’s a mockup of what one of the TV ads may look like:

A pretty simple ad; no color, no people. Just a powerful non-smoking message designed to dissuade people from starting or to quit smoking.

Since the ads just came out a week ago it’s hard to measure their impact at this point in time. I certainly hope the ads accomplish their goals.

I’m sure we all know loved ones who have suffered because of their addiction to tobacco. And if these ads can stop just one person from smoking, then they will be worth it.

And to end this post on a more uplifting note, here’s a great video. I’m watching the Jimmy V classic on TV, and in between the two games they played the famous Jimmy V speech from the 1993 Espy Awards show. At the end of the video, Jimmy talks about the creation of the Jimmy V foundation to support cancer research. I’m guessing Jimmy would have been in favor of these tobacco ads.

Jimmy’s speech never gets old, and the message is as powerful today as it was back then.

If the Apple Watch Could Do This Accurately, I’d Buy It In a Heartbeat

Apple released an app last week that will enable it to test the Apple Watch’s ability to track irregular heart rhythms as part of a study done in collaboration with Stanford University researchers.

A key aspect of the app is its ability to detect irregular heartbeats—a condition known as atrial fibrillation (a-fib) that often goes unnoticed and can lead to strokes. Anyone 22 and older with an Apple Watch will be able to participate and choose to wirelessly share their heart data with Apple and researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study will combine the watch’s LED lights, which monitor blood flow through the wrist and already were able to measure heart rate, with the app’s software algorithm that can detect irregular rhythms. If there is an issue, participants will be notified and given a free consultation with a study doctor as well as an electrocardiogram patch that adheres to the skin for more monitoring.

I have had multiple episodes of a-fib for the past 25 years, having to go through a cardioversion perhaps half a dozen times. (A cardioversion is a procedure where the patient is shocked back into rhythm using paddles.)

Ever since that first a-fib episode, I almost always wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise. I use a Polar chest strap, and pair it with the Polar app on my smart phone. From what I have read, the Polar heart strap is the gold standard of personal hear monitoring devices. It offers continuous, real-time, and accurate measurement of your heart rate.

That’s why I was quite excited when I heard about the first Apple Watch a few years ago. There was talk that you would be able to use the sensors on the watch to track your heart rate in real time; no need to wear the heart strap. And the info would be displayed right on the watch itself. That would certainly be more convenient compared to my current setup.

But the biggest issue is the accuracy of the heart-rate monitoring itself on the Apple Watch. I’ve read a few things about the watch, and that is a common theme in most of the articles I’ve read on the topic.

As a result, I’ve postponed buying an Apple Watch until this capability improves. Perhaps this new study will push Apple into refining the heart rate accuracy of its watches.

And finding success with heart monitoring could push Apple and others into developing other health monitoring devices, with applications for tracking glucose, blood pressure, epileptic seizures, and chronic pain.

It should come as no surprise that Apple would try to gain a foothold in the health care field, a $3.2 trillion industry in the U.S.

So as I noted in the title, if Apple can improve the heart rate accuracy of its watches, I’d buy one in a heartbeat…

Should One of My Favorite Christmas Songs Be Banned?

Two years ago I wrote about one of my favorite Christmas songs – “Baby It’s Cold Outside“.

While there are multiple versions of the song, I noted a couple of my favorites in that post, one featuring Bobby Mercer and Margaret Whiting:

and this one from the movie Elf:

But a story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer about the song gave me pause. Reporter Dan DeLuca notes that as “Baby” has gotten increased exposure, pop culture observers have hastened to point out that the lyrics are about a guy (characterized as the “Wolf” in Loesser’s original composition) who is unscrupulous in using whatever means necessary to get the woman (the “Mouse”) to sleep with him.

In today’s environment, with all of the high profile sexual harassment and assault accusations, such lyrics would be cause for concern. DeLuca also notes that as a result of such concerns, two local radio stations have taken the song off their holiday playlist.

But these concerns are not new. Back in 2012, Salon wrote a story titled “Is ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ a date-rape anthem?“, noting the concerns expressed above.

However, there are other views about the song. In 2010, Slay Belle, an editor at Persephone, wrote a piece titled, “Listening While Feminist: In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. In here essay, Belle notes that, “… it’s not a song about rape. It’s a song about the desires even good girls have.”

And as for the question about what’s in the drink, Belle notes that the line, “Say, what’s in this drink” is a well-used phrase that was common in movies of the time period and isn’t really used in the same manner any longer. The phrase generally referred to someone saying or doing something they thought they wouldn’t in normal circumstances; it’s a nod to the idea that alcohol is “making” them do something unusual.

Much like my general dislike of book bans, I’m not of fan of banning songs either. Let the reader, or in this case, the listener, decide what he or she wants to listen to.

And so I’m on Belle’s side with this on. Let’s recognize the song for what it was meant to portray when it was first written.

It’s still on my playlist, and in fact I learned about two more popular versions of the song that came out in the past few years.

Here’s one by Michael Buble and Idina Menzel:

Here’s one by Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw:

One by Willie Nelson and Norah Jones:

And finally a role reversal version, featuring Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt:

 

Did I Really Just Say That?

I was having a conversation with one of my work colleagues the other day, and we were talking about the proposed tax plan.

After a brief discussion about the tax plan itself, I blurted out the following, “I don’t really care what’s in the tax plan, I just don’t want to see Trump get a win.”

As soon as I said it, I realized I sounded like John Boehner back in 2010 when he was quoted with regards to his plans for Obama’s agenda: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

At the time, and for the next several years of Obama’s Presidency, that type of attitude really bothered me. I felt that the vast majority of Republicans had little interest in the actual merit of anything that Obama was proposing, they were just focused on making sure that his agenda went nowhere.

And so after my one-liner earlier this week, I started to worry that I was turning into someone with a similar poor attitude – someone who couldn’t think for himself, someone who got easily distracted by nonsense, someone who couldn’t keep his eye on the big picture.

The big picture of course is what’s good for America and its citizens. It’s certainly possible that the next great idea for our country and its people could come from the Republicans, and I can’t be ready to dismiss such an idea merely because it came from Trump’s party.

Now in the case of the tax plan, from what I’ve read, it does not seem like a good plan. But I should have been able to state that as the reason for my non-support, and not use my dislike of President Trump as the basis for making such a decision.

And so even though it appears as if the new tax plan will go into effect, the silver lining for me is that it has taught me to judge a proposal on its merits, and not the merits of those who have made the proposal.

After all, clearly Democrats do not have the market cornered for good ideas, and Republicans are certainly capable of coming up with an agenda that will benefit most Americans.

I hope that the two parties can work together to keep the U.S. as leader of the free world.

God Bless America!

Christmas Arrives on Campus!

It’s one of the highlights of the year at Villanova (at least for me) – the lighting of the Christmas tree.

There’s several festivities planned around the event, including performances by the campus singing groups, carriage rides through campus, and multiple snack stations.

Here’s one of the musical performances; I did not recognize the song, but thought it was great. If you watch closely at 1:17, you’ll notice the poor guy who is still at work while all these festivities are taking place right outside his office:

Father Peter, the school president, offered a prayer to start off the season of Advent, then led the countdown for the lighting of the tree:

The campus looked beautiful, with lots of holiday decorations, including this Villanova ice sculpture:

It’s a wonderful way to bring the campus together, and to provide the students with a way to relax and enjoy the start of the Christmas season before they get caught up with their final exams and projects.

Merry Christmas from Nova!