Tag Archives: internet

Cats, Creativity & Caricature!

Let us take a moment to compose our thoughts…

There, that ought to do it.

We begin this latest installment with dependable Rick Stevens’ “Diesel Sweeties...

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Our pixelated pundit likes to tackle the topic of creativity…

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Do you think he has a feline companion (or two) in his life? He certainly seems to relate to them well! I don’t recall ever having seen a dog in any of his work…

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We haven’t seen much of Don Asmussen‘s work recently.

Please permit me to remedy that inadvertent oversight…

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Please be of good cheer! These samples of feline admiration, creativity and caricature are here for your enjoyment thanks in large measure to the permissions of the respective artists!

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As always, I also thank you, the readers who visit this humble blog.

Several weeks back, while pondering where our readers come from, I noted that almost all of our readers hail from the Northern Hemisphere.

Well, a few folks must have taken notice! Since that time, our Readership Research Department informs me we’ve since seen a significant upswing in readers from South Africa!

It would seem word really does travel across the Internet!

Isn’t modern technology wonderful? Seriously, right now I am SO filled with wonder!…

Among other things…

See you again soon!

No Cartoons This Time.

Think of it as an experiment…

As this humble blog goes careening across the Weird World Web (that is what those three ‘Ws stand for, right?), we will soon be approaching its fourth anniversary.

There’s still so much I do not understand.

Specifically, why am I inundated with offers of webinars, books and classes to help me drive more traffic to my blog?

Listen up, everyone, I don’t want a lot of traffic!

This, this right here, is simply a harmless outlet for my own little essays, frequently peppered with some carefully selected cartoons from artists who largely publish online and see no harm in my reposting the selections of their stuff that I personally enjoy, in their own private dreams of the world beating a digital path to their own online doors.

It goes without saying – up until this dependent clause – that the last thing I ever expect to see is the world beating a digital path to my online door.

Had I ever truly thought it would, I’d be selling my stuff for some Real Money by now and this little diatribe would never have seen the light of your screen.

Believe me, I spent 20 years in American Radio, almost 10 years in TV, and almost every second was steeped in a blind desire to generate the largest audience possible. And in the end, it made no difference how well I had achieved that goal. That career came to a close.

Trust me, large audiences are overrated… and they can be so constricting as to make a python blush.

No, what really baffles me about blogging is the seeming irrelevance of the locations from which my blog is read.

Don’t get it twisted, if anybody at all reads these posts, I figure I’m waaaaaay ahead of the game.

But the assortment of countries often puzzles me.

Since English is my native language, I’m not surprised to see the United States and Canada as the top two countries that read my stuff. But then come Germany and France… Followed by the United Kingdom (for as long as that lasts…) Considerably further down the list come Australia and New Zealand.

Unless you’re seeing this blog for the first time, you know I take an almost unhealthy interest in American Politics.

I suppose many other people are at least as baffled as I am about, you know, that person in the White House.

You know, the one who tweets. A lot.

Sorry, folks, all out of profound insights on that one! Your guess is as good as mine. I got nothin’.

I’ve never thought of my self as racist or sexist. Is there such a thing as “hemispherism”? Almost all of this blog’s readers live north of the equator.

Do my posts somehow subtly signal that I’ve never spotted the Southern Cross in the night sky, or that when I flush a toilet, the water flows counterclockwise?

For the first half of last year, I was seeing a tremendous amount of traffic out of Brazil. I have absolutely no idea why. I’d like to think I briefly benefited from a fleeting craze during which sun-bronzed nubile 17-year-old girls followed my every word while tanning themselves and listening to sambas along the beaches of Rio.

It’s the romantic in me.

It seems I do not appeal to Scandinavian tastes at all. That’s okay; apart from Ibsen, Ingrid Bergman and smoked pickled herring, I can’t claim to admire much there. I don’t even care for IKEA. They can keep their meatballs. If I want to eat something bland, there’s no shortage of American cheese over here.

Also, while I appear to be generally well tolerated on the European continent, nobody in Spain reads my blog. Again, I have absolutely no idea why. I mean, if people in France and Portugal find me acceptable, why should the Spanish shun me? I can’t recall having ever expressed anything even remotely insulting to such a revered culture.

What am I to make of this seemingly arbitrary trivia?

Of course, I am nothing if not mercurial, so that could change at any time. In other words, if you happen to know anyone in Madrid or Barcelona, you may want to tell them to get with the program while I still currently revere them.

The absences of certain other locations I completely understand.

For example, I fully comprehend why nobody reads this in Russia, China, Cuba or the Philippines. On the other hand, I appear to draw a small but devoted readership in Malaysia. Don’t ask me why; no idea.

However, where are the readers in places like Chad, Peru or Sierra Leone?

Oh, Iceland, are you out there?

Come in, Latvia, all is forgiven!

Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe the whole low profile thing keeps me out of harm’s way. Quite possibly there’s a hidden benefit to being too small to be considered worth bothering with?

I think I just invented Humble Narcissism.

Too bad there isn’t a market for it…

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Such a Lovely Time!

Where so much is wonderful that when it comes to the “Diesel Sweeties,” artist Rick Stevens has nothing to write about…

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Anything that appears to touch on contemporary reality is, I am sure, merely a matter of coincidence!

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Should it be necessary, self-help methodologies are standing by to remedy whatever may trouble you:

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To any of you who regularly frequent this humble blog, topics touching on American Politics are our regular bread and butter. One of our more frequent contributors, Kotopopi, takes a swing at the topic in the latest installment of her series, “Millennials”:

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It’s come to my attention there’s a grassroots effort underway in her home country (France) to draft Barack Obama as a candidate for President. Of France.

Gee, I wonder if America could persuade some other country to take the current office holder off our hands?

We’d be willing to take a loss on the deal.

And he comes completely equipped with a family and cabinet (Supreme Court Justices not included.)

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Your assurance of quality… pretty much…

RSDS: Halloween, Star Wars and Cats on the Internet!

You know, when you stop and think about it, the triad listed above has come to be the 21st Century analog to the Wizard of Oz’ litany: “Lions and Tigers and Bears…”

Oh my…

Alrighty then, Rick Stevens, you’re on!…

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Where would I be without Rick Stevens and “Diesel Sweeties“?

Probably posting a lot of blank blog pages, I should think. I really owe him big-time!

But no more or less than I owe you good folks who stop in from all over the planet to enjoy this stuff!

Please keep coming back!

KOTOPOPI: When Trolls Post…

Okay! Yesterday I managed to post something with virtually no political overtones whatsoever!

You know, it’s not so easy to find something like that on the ol’ World Wide Web anymore!

Speaking of which, how do you cope when some unpleasant online character decides to throw some shade at you?

Let’s consult our continental cartoonist, KOTOPOPI, who should have some idea.

She lives in France you know, the acknowledged worldwide leader among nations when it comes to diplomacy…

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Lesson duly noted!

Thanks to KOTOPOPI for granting permission to re-post her work.

Please feel welcome to take advantage of all those little widget-y buttons and stuff down below and please don’t forget to check back here often!

And God Bless Us … Everyone!

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RSDS: On Cats, Companions and Nurturing!

Any alien lifeforms observing the contemporary Internet could be excused for thinking that felines run the planet through the humans who serve them.

Apparently this thought has occurred to our friend, Rick Stevens, as well.

Needless to say (although I’m saying it anyway,) his take on this subject is somewhat altered…

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Of course, the observations don’t end there…

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As we head into the week and the scary prospect of one remaining Presidential debate, please know that your visit is appreciated!

Thanks also to Rick Stevens, whose “Diesel Sweeties” comic strip is highly unique and spot on when it comes to people, cats, robots and contemporary social phenomena.

I know he welcomes visitors at his own website, http://www.dieselsweeties.com , where T-shirts, pins and stickers are also available.

A reminder that if you need any basic information about registering and/or voting anywhere in the United States, the new little widget at the bottom right corner of this page will provide helpful information.

The U-S General Election is now less than ONE MONTH AWAY! Don’t miss the chance to make an historic contribution to America’s future and VOTE!

Thanks a bunch for visiting and please come back again real soon!

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RSDS: The Argument Never Ends!

Sometimes I don’t even have to LOOK for the political angle; it just comes to me…  And sometimes, as a curator and editor of this humble blog, I have to make some difficult choices…

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And sometimes, I am reminded of George Carlin‘s famous advice: “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

Welcome and read on…

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And then there’s this…

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And this…

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And ultimately…

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And now, an editorial mea culpa:

It was I, gentle reader, who placed those two asterisks into that last panel above!

I was really conflicted about it…

I absolutely respect the integrity of an artist like Rick Stevens, but at the same time, as an ancient American broadcaster, I am haunted by the spectre of George Carlin‘s famous “Seven Dirty Words.”

Since I cannot ever be completely certain that my audience is absolutely nothing but 100 percent adult readers, I ultimately decided to make this one edit. Please believe me when I say that I do not embrace censorship casually.

Mr. Stevens has always been most generous with his artful talent, I hope and pray he doesn’t consider this minor editorial decision has gone a step  too far.

You are welcome to comment and/or share and/or re-post below!

Thanks for visiting! I hope to see you back here soon!

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TMW: Please Pass Him a Tissue!…

One gets the feeling that an awful lot of editorial cartoonists are going to be hurting for material once the current Presidential campaign in the U-S finally wraps up in (as of this writing) five (5) weeks…

After last Monday’s debate, you just KNOW Tom Tomorrow was planning to trot out the old orange ogre this week…

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Sure hope you enjoyed this one; more on the way very soon!

God bless us every one!

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KOTOPOPI & Jen Sorensen Party Hearty!

Greetings, gentle visitor! I hope you had a great weekend!

Our delightful Italian-born, English-speaking resident of Paris, KOTOPOPI, shows us what happens to her when she tackles planning a simple evening with her “significant other”…

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I sure hope you enjoyed her work as much as I have! What’s that you say? You’d like to see something more?

Okay, Jen Sorenson, a delightful English-speaking American, offers this commentary on the current U-S Presidential election…

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Thanks for visiting, there are plenty more tidbits in the pipeline and they’ll be posted soon, so please check back!

Or even better, please follow this blog and you’ll be notified the moment anything new goes up!

Meanwhile, if you need something to say online, please share this post on the social media platform of your choice by clicking on one of the buttons below!

See ya later!

Does Technology Make Us Dumber?

Does Technology Make Us Dumber?

(Originally posted to NBC News.com; be sure to follow the link to see a special animation that demonstrates some of the ideas discussed in the article below…)

Students can’t resist distraction for

two minutes … and neither can you!

By Bob Sullivan, Columnist, NBC News

Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can’t concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email.

Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.

We’ve known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Depressing research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, says that typical office workers only get 11 continuous minutes to work on a task before interruption. With smartphones reaching near ubiquity, the problem of tech-driven multitasking — juggling daily tasks with email, text messages, social media etc — is coming to a head.

Multitasking has been  the subject of popular debate, but among neuroscientists, there is very little of that. Brain researchers say that what many people call multitasking should really be called “rapid toggling” between tasks, as the brain focuses quickly on one topic, then switches to another, and another.  As all economics students know, switching is not free. It involves “switching costs” — in this case, the time it takes to re-immerse your mind in one topic or another.

Researchers say only the simplest of tasks are candidates for multitasking, and all but one of those tasks must involve automaticity. If you are good at folding laundry, you can probably fold laundry and watch TV at the same time, for example.

Overestimated abilities
Despite this concern among brain scientists, many people overestimate their ability to multitask, such as the college student who thinks he can text and listen to a lecture simultaneously. He cannot, says brain expert Annie Murphy Paul, who writes “The Brilliant Blog.”

“Multitasking while doing academic work — which is very, very common among young people — leads to spottier, shallower, less flexible learning,” Paul warned in a recent column.

The two studies mentioned above underscore this point.

In the first, Alessandro Acquisti and Eyal Peer at Carnegie-Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction lab recruited 136 college students to take a standard test of cognitive abilities, and invented a controlled method of distraction. Test-takers were interrupted via instant message, which they were told contained important additional instructions, during the exam.

(The research was conducted in concert with research for The Plateau Effect, a book I recently co-authored with Hugh Thompson.)

The interrupted group answered correctly 20 percent less often than members of a control group.

The Carnegie-Mellon test might seem a bit contrived, however, because the control group was pretty unrealistic. It’s hard to find a group of college students who could take a test without being interrupted by gadgets.

Larry Rosen, a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, published a study in the May issue of Computers in Human Behavior that attempted to quantify how often students of all ages are distracted by technology while studying. Even under ideal circumstances, the results were dismal.

Rosen’s observers followed 263 students into their normal study environments — bedroom, library, den — and told them to work on an important school assignment for 15 minutes. Even knowing they were being watched, the students couldn’t resist texting or using social media. So-called “on-task” behavior started declining at about the two minute mark, and overall, only 65 percent of the time was used on schoolwork.

“We really assumed we set up a situation where people would try to impress us,” said Rosen, an expert in the psychology of technology. “Frankly, I was appalled at how quickly they became distracted.”

‘Problem built into the brain’
The two studies, published closely together, generated strong reaction, particularly from students.

“Yes, we text in class, but if my grade in that class is and A or a B I don’t see why it’s a problem,” wrote one student to Paul.

It’s a big problem for both students and adults, Paul counters, for plenty of reasons. Assignments inevitably take longer when learners split their time between tasks, she says. All that task-switching wears out the brain and makes learners more tired and less competent. Most important, several studies have shown that information learned while partially distracted is often quickly forgotten, so the learning is tragically shallow.

The key to transferring new information from the brain’s short-term to long-term memory is a process called “encoding.” Without deep concentration, encoding is unlikely to occur, explained Nicholas Carr in his book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.”

So Paul is among a group of researchers who worry that the digital divide is not about the gadget haves and have nots, but rather about those who can resist the constant distracting tug of technology and those who cannot. She compares it to the famous marshmallow test, which shows that children who can delay eating one marshmallow for 10 or 15 minutes on the promise of gaining a second one are the most likely to succeed later in life. In a new “marshmallow” test, educators or employers might test to see how long people can resist “a blinking inbox or a buzzing phone.”

“There are those people who think that multitasking is simply the way life is now and we should be focusing on getting better at it … that we are a bunch of old fogies who don’t understand,” Paul said. “But scientifically, there is no evidence for that. There are fundamental biological limits to what the brain can pay attention to. This is a problem built into the brain.”
Here’s the link to the original article; it will take you to the animation referenced above: