Friday, August 31, 2007

My phone is a scanner...

Well, not really. But Qipit a cool new service allows it to be one. Using your mobile phone you can take a picture of a whiteboard, handwritten notes, or printed material. Send the picture to Qipit and share it with others as a PDF. How cool is that?

I haven't quite got it working just yet, but this will be a great way to share meeting notes with others instantly!

Hat tip: Lifehacker.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hmmm...where have I seen these at work before?

Check out this post from Brant Hansen. What other organizations have been rendered ineffective through such methods....hmmm...let me think...

Excuse Me While I Single-Handedly Neutralize Al-Qaeda

Alqaedapicthing By Brant Hansen

1) Complexify the message

Right now, it's so simple, it can pass from one to the next, and be easily grasped by the uneducated, the young -- everyone. This is dangerous, because it's highly contagious, and people on the street feel capable of enlisting others in the cause.

2) Construct a less "flat", more hierarchical structure

Currently, small, underground groups can move nimbly and autonomously, complicating efforts to thwart them. A more regimented, stratified approach, where some members are left thinking, "I can't know enough to do anything" would bring the movement to a halt.

3) Foster "expert" culture, and barriers to entry to the expert class

Promote the idea that the message is not only highly complex, but only some can truly understand it. Construct extensive barriers to entry to the presumed expert class. Promote idea that cells lacking a certified member of expert class, it is not equipped to be activated.

4) Focus on knowledge, rather than doing

Complexification and expert-class development will make cells spend immense amounts of time studying the work, even debating theories of the work, rather than doing it. Better yet...

5) Equate STUDYING the work with the work itself

The cells are called to ACT, of course. But if we can convince operatives that the work, itself, is in trying to understand the complexity of the work? They'll be effectively neutered. We need to get them to spend large amounts of time in study, gathering to study, believing they don't know enough, hiring new experts to teach them again and again, and attending teaching events.

They'll actually believe they're doing their work when they attend events held by experts. This will render the cell, and the whole movement, harmless! Convince them that the most radicalized, militant among them are merely called to bring other non-activated members to the cell events.

6) Sabotage cell multiplication

VERY important! Cells that operate under simple principles, with motivated operatives, devoted to multiplication? Very, very dangerous, fast-growing, and pop-culture endangering. We must stop this in its tracks, and this is done in multiple ways:

A) Foster egos and small-time celebrity. By convincing operatives to set up individual fiefdoms, fewer autonomous cells will be activated. Rather, the emphasis will be on building larger individual cells with numerous unactivated members.

B) Make the basic structure highly difficult to replicate. Al-Qaeda cells currently are, by necessity, simply-structured and easily replicated. Propagate idea that for cells to begin, planning, experts and capital must be simultaneously accumulated. Expert motivational speakers will be necessary, plus paid staff with highly specific training and talents. Operatives will see massively "successful" large cells, and attempt to duplicate them, with very limited success because of the huge inputs required. This will greatly inhibit growth.

C) Convince philosophically-aligned, but non-active, members to choose from among most entertaining, high quality, cells that offer services for them. Not only will this engender a harmless, internal focus, it will require IMMENSE amounts of resources and energy.

7) Make operatives really, really busy.

Replace simple, animating mission with lengthy lists, charts, and programs for cell maintanance. Convince them that this institutional maintenance is, actually, the mission, itself.

This will leave them will no actual time for conducting actual mission.

8) Get Al-Qaeda to seek governmental approval.

Offer tax incentives if necessary. The larger cells, requiring large edifices, will also require tremendous amounts of capital. This will also allow a measure of control, to threaten the cell's tax status, thereby threatening funds for internal programs, when necessary.

Better: They'll consider actual operational cells that exist without this governmental approval to be, themselves, invalid!

9) Co-opt Al-Qaeda with the larger culture.

Once members are convinced that cell maintenance and study are actually their "mission", the rest of their lives can be harmlessly integrated with the culture at large. They'll be indistinguishable from non-members, and, because of their new understanding of "mission", effectively equivalent to non-members.

10) Convince members to wear Al-Qaeda t-shirts with funny sayings and stuff.

Mission accomplished.

It'll work to thwart an evil message. It even works with the good ones.

Hat-tip: EmergingUMC

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Reading 2: The War of Art

I often feel as though, due to my own laziness or apathy, I am not being doing as much as I could to live into my calling. From time to time I need a swift kick in the! So I immediately connected with some of the ideas in Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art.

This book is an extremely quick read. Pressfield's thoughts are certainly applicable to all who draw breath or whose hearts pump blood through their bodies. He writes about resistance - that which seems to overpower us and keep us from fulfilling our life's calling. He describes how to recognize the voice of resistance, some ways to combat resistance, and then what living is like beyond resistance.

So if you need a good swift kick in the, this book is a good, quick read that may inspire you to combat the resistance that interferes with your life's calling.

Lake Anna...

This past weekend we enjoyed an evening of camping, hot dogs, s'mores and great campfire conversations with some friends from Richmond at Lake Anna State Park (pictured above). We had a great time.

Our "vacation home" next to our friends' "vacation home."

Lovely signage along the bike trail...

I will be returning in two weeks for a triathlon (my first of the season.) Woohoo!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summer Reading 1: Stumbling on Happiness...

While I have not been as consistent at posting this summer, I tried to be a bit more consistent in my reading. So over the next few days, I will give summaries, recommendations, and applications for some of the non-fiction books I read this summer.

How often do we find ourselves thinking, "If only X, then I would be happy"? (Where X equal some imagined future event.) How often when X becomes fulfilled do we enjoy the happiness that we imagined we would? These are the questions Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness seeks to consider and wrestle with.

In this humorous and well-paced read, Gilbert challenges the idea that we can imagine into the future and make accurate decisions about what will make us happy. He notes the shortcomings of imagination and perception, as well as our complicity in systems that perpetuate the idea of happiness, while never quite delivering.

Ultimately, he suggests that the most accurate way of predicting whether a future event will make us happy is to ask others who are currently going through the experience we are contemplating.

By no means can I do this interesting and humorous look at human perception of happiness justice in a brief blog post. So I recommend picking up this book for yourself and giving it a go. Take my word for it!

Based on Gilbert's premises, I now think about imagination and perception a little differently. I am more aware of their fallibility and why they are fallible. Although there is very little discussion of God in the book, this book is a great resource to use with sermon series on subjects like happiness and the human condition because of the questions it raises.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Austin's emerging christians...

Check out this article about "emerging christians" in Texas. Its one of the better descriptions I have read.

Back in the Saddle Again (sort of)...

Whew! Its been a crazy, yet fun summer. Posts have been somewhat sparse over the past month due to various and asundry things going on in our lives (i.e. vacation, continuing ed, VBS, etc.)

But now I am hoping to get back into a regular routine of writing and posting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I am waiting for a lunch appointment to show up. Usually I bring a book, but forgot one today. So I am trying to make use of this time brainstorming (and blogging.) What do you do when you are waiting?