10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media

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4259 days ago

My friend has again posted a link to an article about abortion. I find myself unable to avoid addressing it.

The article poses 10 questions. Theoretically the article is complaining about how the media doesn’t ever ask pro-choice candidates about those questions, but other than the paragraph at the top mentioning that complaint, the rest is just the list of 10 questions. I don’t much care whether the media asks those questions (see: some future blog post), so I’m not going to worry about addressing that issue. Instead, I’ll just reply with my own opinions about the 10 questions.

You’ll need to have read my previous post giving an overview of my opinions if you want to understand my answers. I’m not going to restate those opinions here.

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?


New photo (and video) gallery

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5223 days ago

Per my previous post, I have been struggling to get my current gallery converted over to SmugMug, and that struggle was getting in the way of getting Benjamin pictures online. Well, I’m happy to report that the new gallery is online at media.rainskit.com, and that all the previously-passworded Benjamin pictures are now publicly available there. (I chose the first solution, by the way.) In fact, there are some new pictures also :)

I haven’t converted any of the old gallery over to the new site yet, so for the moment I have two public galleries online. For now, I’m only going to link to the old one in my sidebar; once all the old images are converted, I’ll switch the link. So you should bookmark the new site (or this article) if you want to remember where all the Benjamin pictures will be :)

For those of you who are named in photos in the new gallery – don’t worry, Google won’t search beyond the home page of the new gallery, so pictures of you aren’t suddenly going to pop up all over the internet. If you are concerned about any photos, though, please feel free to let me know and I’ll hide them immediately.

I don’t plan to announce future photo uploads via this blog; please subscribe to one of the available RSS or Atom feeds if you want to hear about new photos. (Scroll to the bottom and click “Available Feeds” to see them.) I suggest either the site-wide recent galleries feed or the site-wide Benjamin keyword feed.

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The misunderstanding of IQ

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5343 days ago

Bloom's Taxonomy

There are many people in my industry who are “smart” but are often unable to actually be effective. I have numerous examples: developers who can’t balance perfection and progress, entrepreneurs who can’t see that their idea is useless, executives who can’t see the inevitable failure of their plan, and people who just can’t figure out how to turn their great idea into something real. I run into such people, in varying degrees, nearly every day.

In fact, I have struggled with this myself. When I first started my career as a developer, I had a hard time balancing the intellectual purity of an idea against the “messy” path to actually bringing that idea to implementation. It’s hard to accept that the perfect idea really isn’t feasible, and instead opt for something less-perfect in order to actually get something done. But I have learned this lesson (repeatedly!), and much of my success in business has come from learning to understand and accept that some progress toward a slightly better place is much better than no progress toward a perfect place. In fact, I’m now more often a proponent of the other side of the coin – I’d much rather just do something (useful) than try to engineer a perfect solution. So long as smart, capable people are involved in the doing, the end product is usually awesome.

So I am very intimately aware that “high IQ” is not the same as “highly effective.” I’ve known it for a long time, but I’ve never been able to clearly understand exactly why that is. Well, Keith Stanovich figured it out for me. He studied this issue, and learned something relatively obvious – that IQ is a measure of intellectual capacity, but capacity is not the same as ability to use it. (Size doesn’t matter, right?) He uses the term “rational thinking” to describe the ability to use intelligence to solve problems, and this article at New Scientist covers the topic very well.

Go read that article. It will hopefully help you understand that IQ is only somewhat related to success, and that rational thinking is more important. And rational thinking can be learned, and improved on, relatively easily. So there’s hope for all of us, to actually learn to be effective!

Having read that article, I am pleased to have sorted out an intellectual conundrum, but I’m also somewhat embarrassed – I’ve been teaching people this idea for years now, and I just didn’t realize it. See, when I teach people what to look for when interviewing, I refer them to Bloom’s Taxonomy, specifically to the six levels of cognitive skills:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

To be successful in the roles I’m usually hiring for (Analyst, Project Manager, or similar), the person needs to be highly capable in the top three levels – analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. There are good ways to try to evaluate those things in an interview, and I have a very specific set of interview questions and activities that try to draw them out. (This idea has worked very well, by the way – I’ve been very successful at interviewing and hiring, using this approach.)

So it seems to me, now that I’ve thought through the idea of rational thinking, that Bloom’s Taxonomy isn’t really about intelligence at all. Instead, it is focused on the skills required to apply intelligence effectively. That is corroborated by the fact that the Taxonomy is often used in education as a way to judge how well a student is learning fundamental skills, and not as a way to judge their intelligence.

So the embarrassing part is that I’ve been using Bloom’s Taxonomy (and teaching it to others!) as a way to evaluate people’s effectiveness, all the while trying to understand why high-IQ people aren’t always effective. If I had just once put the two ideas next to each other, I probably would have figured out the answer for myself. Huh.

Maybe that’s just proof that I still need to work on both, myself ;)

P.S. – I also owe a big debt of gratitude to the late Mrs. Lilly, the teacher who taught me about Bloom’s Taxonomy in elementary school, and who I know was responsible for accelerating my early development in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Thank you, Mrs. Lilly!

The image of Bloom’s Taxonomy was reused (from Wikimedia Commons) under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license

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A wedding photographer worthy of note

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5375 days ago

You may not know this about me, but I have investigated wedding photography pretty heavily. As an amateur photographer, my primary interest is in photographing people, but I’m less interested in portraiture and more in showing emotion and reaction, so wedding photography is a perfect specialty for me. It turns out that wedding photography is also one of the harder photographic specialties – the subjects don’t pose, the family is hard to manage, the lighting and weather are out of your control, you only get one chance to get the pictures, you need really expensive equipment to get good shots from a distance in a dark church without a flash, you have to have a backup person and backup equipment, you have very high contrasts (black/white) to deal with, and the profit margins are usually small. And there are many, many wedding photographers, so competition is fierce.

So I didn’t give up my day job to pursue this interest :)

But nonetheless I have read about it a bunch, and I always try new techniques when I attend weddings, and I am always interested to watch wedding photographers at work. I can pretty quickly judge the great ones from the so-so ones, based largely on their equipment and their approach. It’s not how you might think, though: the best photographers have the less-flashy equipment, and the least-noticeable approach. The so-so ones have flashy equipment and big gear bags and are usually either pushy or timid.

So we were at a wedding this past Saturday, and the wedding photographer caught my attention, and then held it. He had a good camera, a minimal gear setup, a good flash (with modest attachments), a good assistant, and nice clothes. He knew how to use his equipment to best effect. He focused more on composing the shot and giving it some creative attention than on “being in charge” or “showing his skill.” He dealt with people naturally. He knew how to quickly handle problems (like the memory card filling up) with minimal fuss. It just seemed like he had all the right elements, and I’ve never seen a wedding photographer before who I really thought had everything right.

At the reception, I asked him for a business card. It turns out he actually had a Mac laptop set up, showing a slideshow of pictures from earlier that day, taken during and after the wedding. The pictures were amazing! I couldn’t believe he had such a good show assembled with little or no time between events to get it ready. So I watched the show, grabbed a card, and made a note to myself to look him up later on.

So yesterday I went to his website and it looks like my intuition was correct. He has a degree in photography, and his focus (per his bio) is similar to mine – to “capture the essence of individual moments and make them memories to last a lifetime”. His sample pictures are great. He has a sample slideshow posted, and it looks great. I always assume those slideshows are assembled from a wedding where the photographer worked extra-hard, but in this case I’ve already seen his work from a “real” wedding and I can attest those pictures were just as good. So it seems that he consistently produces great work.

I didn’t want to pass by something great without encouraging it, so I took the time to post here about him. His name is Chad Moon and the business is named Chad Moon Photography. Check him out, especially if you are looking for a good wedding photographer in the Columbus/Cincinnati/Dayton area.

P.S. – I’ve posted my pictures from the wedding – some of them turned out really well (after a few touch-ups).

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What I do

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5595 days ago

Wow, I think I just found two great articles that finally explain clearly what a Product Manager does. If you ever wonder what I do, see these:

  1. Product Management & Product Marketing – A Definition
  2. Seven Traits of Successful Product Managers

..both from Michael Shrivathsan – thanks, Michael!

Updated 4/30/14: Also this is even better. Much better.

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Well, it's gone - and the story of how it went

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5829 days ago

As of this afternoon, truist.com is no longer mine. I had it for 8 years, 4 months, and I find that I’m very sad to see it go :-(

But as Drew says: “think of the motorcycles” – and that is helping :)

So now that the sale is actually done, here’s the story:


The Nerd Handbook

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6014 days ago

From The Nerd Handbook:

For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about. Expect active involvement from your nerd when you trip the relevance flag. If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing his judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when he’s not listening and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool”, and when you hear “Cool”, I’m not listening.

I received Managing Humans as a Christmas present, and it’s a fantastic book. It lead me to (back) to Rands in Repose which is now at the top of my list of great places to spend time on the internet. Enjoy :)

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Pictures finally uploaded

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6137 days ago

I finally got around to uploading all my recent pictures to the gallery. “Recent,” in this case, is defined as “in the last 8 months.” Before this I hadn’t uploaded anything in 2007, even though I’ve been taking pictures all year. So without further ado, I present:

I’ve also uploaded pictures of our recent trip to Oregon, but I’ll be describing those in another post, momentarily. We also (also) have pictures from Kristina’s trip to Richmond, VA, but those haven’t been uploaded yet. Maybe they’ll make it up before Christmas ;)

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Recent events

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6265 days ago

It’s been a while since I wrote and I have a small pile of small things that I wanted to write about, so I’m posting them all at once. In chronological order:

Cool blog / cool book

In my first case ever of one blog leading to another, Amitai’s blog led me to Bil Stachour’s blog, Journal Wunelle, on which I found this awesome post about evolutionary psychology and the book The Moral Animal. Bil writes intelligently, often, and interestingly, and his writeup of the book has led me to put it on my wishlist.

A combination street car and airplane

Check this out. Terrafugia has announced that they plan on creating the first commercially available flying car, called the Transition. I like living in this age :)

Buckeye Blast

On April 1st, I attended the Buckeye Blast, a fun-day shooting event put on by Buckeye Firearms Association, an orginzation heavily involved in passing the concealed carry laws in Ohio, and of which I am a member. The event is a fundraiser for the organization, and my wife bought my ticket as a birthday present.

The day was a blast! (ha ha) I learned more about real-life shooting in that day than I had in all my previous training and shooting, and greatly improved my shooting skills. I met a bunch of new people, and even got my picture taken. The event was held at the very impressive Tactical Defense Institute – I highly recommend them.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

One of my birthday presents was an awesome book called The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. For years the “designers” have been saying that the “coders” can’t learn what it takes to design great websites; this book tries to prove that wrong. You can judge for yourself when I update this site’s layout :) (someday soon…)

The shooting on my birthday

The Virginia Tech shooting happened on my birthday. It’s a very sad, tragic event, and I’m sorry that such things happen in this world. It was initially reminiscent of the Case Western shooting which was a little closer-to-home for me.

My mom asked me what I thought about the shooting, and my response sums up my whole belief about the issue: “if someone there had had a gun, they could have stopped the attacker.” It’s a shame that Virginia Tech (like Case Western) has a ban on all firearms on campus.

I know this is a big issue, but I don’t want to dwell on it. My middle sister (privately) wrote a great piece about her feelings and reflections after the event, and there’s a lot more like that on the web. I’ll leave it to others to hash out all the nuances, but I did want to get my broad-stroke opinion out in public.


There is other news, about life, work, and family, but most of it isn’t really good fodder for a public forum. Suffice it to say that all three have been interesting, hard, and good. This is a good time, for me.

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What the terrorists want

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6491 days ago

Bruce Schneier: “I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute … we’re doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

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Could you become a citizen?

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6570 days ago

I’m proud of myself: I got a 90% on this sample immigration test.

It frightens me that most people don’t do well. I have the vague notion that the decline of civil liberties in this country is directly related to the decline of teaching civics in school. Somehow, this post is reminding me of that, and of yesterday’s post.

Maybe we should just lock up anyone who can’t pass this test – that would fix all the problems! (grin)

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Liberty, by zefrank

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6571 days ago

zefrank duckie

the show with zefrank is pretty rediculously funny. (It’s not particularly kid-safe, however.) Try this one, for example. You may notice that it’s also pretty damn good commentary on important issues. The point of all this? This one has the best explanation I’ve ever heard for why we shouldn’t give up our personal liberties for more security.

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