We’ve started offering our home again, via the Warm Showers website, to cyclists passing through town. I know, it sounds a little illicit, but it’s really quite innocent.
Most people offer up a place to stay in trade for when they themselves go out on a bike tour. But I’m not touring much any more beyond an occasional bike ride around Eureka or the McKay Tract or the Arcata Forest. Our reward is meeting interesting people and hearing their stories.
Some people are just on a lark, riding along the coast because they have the time, the youth and the resources. Some are on a personal quest or attempting to burn out some trauma. Then others are riding for a cause.
This week we had a bit of all that, but the most recent was a rider with a cause. Will King is raising money to help fund research into leukemia and cystic fibrosis. Motivated by the loss of two friends, Will, who lives in London, is riding from Canada to Mexico and looking for sponsors and donations. Visit his site, read his story and donate if you can.
I wanted to share a small victory. A relative had proclaimed herself an anti-GMO person to my consternation. She started sending me links, all of which I refuted. Then she told me she’d watched these 2 movies: Genetic Roulette and Genetic Chili, which, so help me, I watched on a Sunday afternoon.
After I watched Genetic Roulette, I sent her to this page which refutes point by point the assertions from the first film (actually from the self-published book that the film was based on).
Then, I watched the second one, Genetic Chili and saw it was directed by the same guy. So, I looked him up on Wikipedia. From his entry:
A variety of American organic food companies see Smith “as a champion for their interests”, and Smith’s supporters describe him as “arguably the world’s foremost expert on the topic of genetically modified foods”. In contrast, Michael Specter, writing in The New Yorker, reported that Smith was presented as a “scientist” on The Dr. Oz Show despite his lack of any scientific experience or relevant qualifications. Bruce Chassy, a molecular biologist and food scientist, wrote to the show arguing that Smith’s “only professional experience prior to taking up his crusade against biotechnology is as a ballroom-dance teacher, yogic flying instructor, and political candidate for the Maharishi cult’s natural-law party.”.
I also noted that much of the assertions in the second movie were based on the findings of debunked studies by French microbiologist Gilles-Eric Séralini
After that, she wrote these magic words: “You are starting to persuade me. The de-bunking of Genetic Roulette is pretty thorough.”
Yes! OK, it’s not definitive. It’s just a start. But hey, any movement toward the light I will take. The rest, now that she has the skeptical spark, is up to her.
The conference, which took place in Las Vegas in July, was fun, exciting and stimulating. Meeting James Randi and other skeptic heroes, attending a live recording of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast and just talking to so many nice folks was a thrill.
I also came away inspired to become more active in the skeptical community and, more important, to engage the larger world with new found strength, knowledge and resources. I am not a scientist, physician, philosopher or magician. I am not formally trained in critical thinking. But I don’t think that will restrain me from finding ways to do my small part to help improve the quality of thinking about the world.
Among the many surprises at TAM was learning of an existing group of Humboldt Skeptics on Facebook. I was at TAM with the Eye’s Keven Hoover and we had been thinking of forming some kind of local skeptics group but thought we might have trouble finding more than a half-dozen compatriots. Turns out there’s a whole bunch of us! But connecting with them will certainly encourage us to create this organization on some level and start bringing evidence based thinking out into the world through meetings, presentations and networking.
As a web developer and blogger, I also plan to become more active on the Internet (not just on the walled garden of Facebook) by writing more on skeptical topics, helping to create web spaces for regional skeptical activity and using some of the new tools that other skeptic activists have been creating.
Here are some of the more interesting resources for skeptical activity that I plan to take advantage of and potentially participate in.
SkepTools: A blog dedicated to sharing skeptical tools and resources for skeptical activism.
Rbutr: Prounced ‘rebutter’ this web app “..aims to facilitate inter-website debate, guide users to rebuttals of dubious information, and indirectly influence our users so that they approach all online information with an increased level of skepticism and critical appraisal.” Essentially it links websites/pages with other websites/pages that offer contrary evidenced. You can find and post websites and their rebuttals.
So, I am making a commitment to do what I can. “Small Tasks. Big Consequences.”
Small Tasks, Big Consequences
I am six months from being 62 years old! How did this happen?
Trying to stay somewhat fit and looking forward to when ingestable or under skin monitoring implants I downloaded a free iOS tracking app called Moves.
It simply tracks your movement using geolocation it knows if your walking, running, I think biking. It counts your steps, calculates your speed and distance. Basically a souped up pedometer (have at it NSA).
But this simple tool of the quantified self works! It motivates me to run further, take more steps.
It move me. Fit bit next?
What gets you moving?
On February 26 I gave a brief presentation co-sponsored by North Coast Small Business Development Center and the Redwood Technology Consortium’s Internet Marketing Group. As the title suggests it was a high level overview of the current state of social media marketing and my opinions on what works and what doesn’t. The slideshow isn’t that informative, but here it is in any case. Links to resources mentioned are below.
I think the core of my talk is the section on Content Marketing. That’s the new buzzword but for years the mantra has been Content is King and it’s essentially the same concept: Create valuable content whether it’s with a blog, newsletter, training videos, white papers, case studies, even testimonials. Embed that stuff in your site (good for SEO) and then post about those things on as many places and platforms as you can. Social Media Marketing should have 2 goals:
- Get people to market for you: If you provide value they will.
- Drive traffic to your site where you can control the experience (capture leads and/or conduct transactions).
I would love to hear your experiences with making social media marketing effective and efficient. And any great tools you discover along the way. Add your comments below! And as always, please share this post on your networks.
A couple months ago I spent several hours searching for speakers for my iPad. I read lots of specs and product reviews on many websites. I was looking for the sweet spot where price, features and quality sound converge. In spite of the horrible brand name (iLuv, puhlease!) I settled on this model (you can see it, sort of on the left there – it’s black, holding a black iPad on a black desk – not the best photographic conditions).
Here’s why I like these speakers:
- The sound is good. Not great, but enough of a boost in bass and richness that makes watching video more pleasurable.
- Portrait and Landscape. It easily rotates so you can read in portrait mode and watch video in landscape. This is a really, really, nice feature.
- Flexible: You can change the angle of the screen holder to suit your needs.
- Charges the iPad while you’re using it.
- Compact: It doesn’t take up much space on my admittedly crowded desk.
- Price: There were cheaper models that didn’t have the features. And there were some very expensive speakers that I’m sure would have had better sound, but also had none of the features I like about this one. Sweet spot.
The quibbles are minor:
- As I said, the sound is OK. But what can you expect at this price?
- It’s a little tricky getting the iPad on the stand.
- I doesn’t have the “feel” of a product that was built to last a long time. If feels a little flimsy. But I have had no problems with it after months of almost daily use.
- There’s a remote which I have never used and now can’t find. It comes with an app for the iPhone. I guess that’s not a quibble. I just thought I’d throw it in because it’s part of the package.
Anyway, I thought I’d share. Could be a great Christmas present for your iPad owning pals. Here’s the affiliate link if you’re interested: