May 11: Book Recommends and Random Thoughts

I cleaned and semi-organized my office this week and have a final to get ready for, so I just do not have a fully developed Completely Through the Bible post for today. Sorry about that, really, but these things happen. I do have some various things to bring up this week:

1. Book Recommendation: I've finished reading A Geography of Time: On Tempo, Culture, and The Pace of Life by Robert Levine. While I'm sure that people with access to social psychology research or with different experiences in the same cultures he mentions will find some faults, overall it was a good read. It is certainly from a secular science perspective: he rates one culture's sense of time as being "just their thing" as being like another culture's honor killings as being "just their thing."

That is a peek behind the curtain of how life works if your only ethical base is local culture rather than a transcendent morality. However, the benefits of considering how geography and culture impact the sense of time makes the book worth your time if you ever intend to be away from where you've always lived.

2. There was much ado this week about the drop in unemployment. One part of the media focused on the drop in unemployment percentage while another part focused on the drop in people looking for work. If the same number of people were looking for work now that were looking three years ago, unemployment would be above 11%.

It's possible this is a good thing, that so many have left the workforce. Maybe some families have found they can reduce wage earners, live simpler, have better relationships, and be fine. Maybe the economy has improved for others where they do not need the added income. It's also possible that this bodes ill for nation, because we are going to have some serious issues ever getting back on track.

3. Book Recommendation #2: This is one of those business/leadership books that are frequent to the market. It's called Standout and it's by Marcus Buckingham. One of the benefits of this book is that each purchase gives you an access code to take an online assessment to see where you fit in the "strengths measure" that the book discusses.

Essentially the point of the book is this: find what you are good at and strive to improve that, rather than burning out trying to do what you are bad at. There is acknowledgement that we're not all perfectly free to do that at work, but you can work towards it. He also recognizes that this is about skills/talents not about moral attributes. If you are weak in the honesty department, you still have to work to correct that.

Think of a baseball analogy: if a pitcher is a great fastball/slider pitcher but a lousy curveball pitcher, what should he throw most of the time? What about to a great hitter? He should throw his best pitches, the fastball and the slider. If he has time, work on the curveball, the changeup or sinkerball, but focus on improving those pitches that he is already good with.

However, if he balks every time there is a runner on second, he has to fix that first. That weakness cannot be ignored, but the lack of a sinkerball can be.

If you're curious about this, you might as well buy the book—the test costs as much as the book if you just buy it. According to this system, I'm an Equalizer/Pioneer. The Pioneer part does seem odd and I'll be exploring that.

4. I was going to say something about politics, but I just can't. I need to finish digging a moat and stockpiling survival supplies.

5. Out of curiosity: if someone (or some business) does something crazy, evil, or just stupid to get attention because the individual or the business is just empty and useless, why enable them by making it a news headline? If you give an alcoholic a keg of beer, you're doing a wrong thing. If you give someone who needs to find their self-esteem somewhere other than national news coverage more national news coverage, are you not doing the same thing?

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