Interpreting non-answers from Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren

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Politicians (and other people) often can’t or won’t answer a question. How they respond says a lot about who they are. If they were honest, they would say “I won’t answer that” and then say why. But instead, they just take the airtime and answer some other question they’d rather talk about. For example, Mediaite recently … Continued

The passive blame game: “mistakes were made” in Brussels

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Now that the bombing stories are done, it’s time for the blame stories — and the passive voice that inevitably accompanies them. Like the LA Times story titled: ” ‘Mistakes were probably made,’ Belgian official acknowledges after Brussels attacks.” Ya think? People performed these acts. Belgian and European police and intelligence agencies, obviously, missed something. That’s … Continued

How to use a thesaurus to name stuff creatively

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I use an online thesaurus frequently in my work. It’s certainly not because my vocabulary is limited. It’s because it shakes loose new ideas when I’m trying to name things. The cliche of the thesaurus user is the desperate paper-writer who doesn’t want to repeat the same word endlessly (for example, “war,”), even though they are … Continued

The price of terror

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There’s still blood on the ground in Brussels, a city I’ve spent time in with people I’ve befriended. I’d rather not look. But I must. Because this is when we make the worst mistakes. A friend sent me this observation yesterday: The optimal level of terrorist attacks is probably small, but not zero, just like the optimal level … Continued

The 6 benefits of thinking like a mathematician

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When I was young, I was certain I would be a mathematician. I still think like one. You should, too — and you don’t have to learn math to do it. A little background: I was an outstanding math student in high school and college, won an NSF Fellowship, and entered the math Ph.D. program at … Continued

The dark side of Donald Trump’s presidential deal making

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Adam Davidson’s New York Times Magazine article, “What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About ‘the Deal’,” provides fresh insight into Trump’s deal psychology. If you take the analysis a bit further, you get a window into the Trump presidency. In an ordinary deal (say, a consumer buying a washing machine or teams trading baseball players), there’s some transparency and … Continued

The remarkable candor of Taylor Huckaby, voice of @SFBART

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Taylor Huckaby, who posts on the Twitter account of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), just turned honesty into a full-fledged funding debate. I’ll show you what’s special and effective about his tweets. Here’s what Huckaby tweeted in response to a complaint. @shakatron BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much … Continued

The eShares offer letter: write like a human, not an HR robot

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Bullshit gathers where lawyers and human resource people meet. But as Henry Ward, CEO of startup eShares, shows with the company’s offer letters, it doesn’t have to. Using the power of clarity, simplicity, and graphics — eShares is welcoming new hires — and it’s probably getting a lot more of them to say “Yes.” Ward published a sample … Continued