Category “random”

True North

When facing tough challenges, I often ask “what is my true north?” What are my core values and how can I stay true to them?

But values can move — they aren’t static things.

The north pole, on the surface, remains in the same place. But the magnetic north pole is constantly shifting and moving consistently.

Similarly, on the surface we may remain the same thing, but underneath our values can shift. These changes may not be drastic, but fundamentally, are enough to represent drastic differences.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

NYT Piece – Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings?

From the New York Times:

The Smithsonian also acquired fan letters sent to Mr. Ross, including some written after he died of lymphoma in 1995 at 52. “These letters help reveal the significant impact Ross has had on diverse individuals and communities, helping them to express and feel better about themselves,” Mr. Jentsch said.

The paintings and other objects officially became part of the museum’s permanent collection on March 22.

Best part is at the end when, in an interview, Ross says his paintings will never be in The Smithsonian.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Quark and the Jaguar

On the importance of both fundamentally understanding how a thing works, and also taking a “top-down” approach to thinking:

In addition to favoring, as a general rule, the bottom-up method of building staircases between disciplines — from the more fundamental and explanatory toward the less fundamental — I would, in many cases (not just that of psychology), encourage a top-down approach as well. Such an approach begins with the identification of important regularities at the less fundamental level and defers until later understanding of the underlying, more fundamental mechanisms.

Murray Gell-Mann, Quark and the Jaguar

Reading this was a revelation. It’s the first time I’ve clearly understood the differences in practice that I have with some of my colleagues — that is, a difference in the approach toward thinking. I am a top-down thinker: define the problem space, then whittle things downward. As Gell-Mann enumerates here, there is another, more reductionist approach that looks at the fundamentals, then works its way up. The former is more mechanistic, and the latter more explanatory in nature.

Both are valid ways of thinking, and it’s important to note that they can complement each other. Yet many times, we come to loggerheads not because of a disagreement in substance, but instead a disagreement in approach.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Help I’m Trapped in a TP Factory

Special thanks to the NYT kids’ section for these great jokes that keep showing up around my house.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus