Saturday, April 30, 2016

Survey finds more U. S. homeowners fear their home being damaged by a natural disaster, or invaded by pests, than public speaking, global warming, or a celebrity reality star running for president

A press release by Terminix at MarketWired on April 18th titled Survey finds pests are more frightening than zombies, tornadoes, or a celebrity presidential candidate described results from a survey done with over 1000 homeowners by Kelton Global. As shown above in a bar chart they found that:

Critter infestations trump other common fears. More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents said they fear pests invading their home - nearly as many as those who fear their home being damaged by a natural disaster (40 percent). In fact, a pest invasion is a scary threat for more homeowners than public speaking (32 percent), global warming (26 percent) or a celebrity reality star running for president (25 percent).”

Click on the chart to see a larger, clearer version. Their opening sentence also said that: 

“Ninety-three percent of Americans are afraid of pests, with many even experiencing nightmares about them, according to a new survey from the pest control company Terminix.”

Pests are feared either by 93% or 36% of homeowners - depending on exactly how you ask the question. How many homeowners would have feared Donald Trump rather than just a celebrity reality star?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Find your own darn speaking style

Last week in Idaho City I saw the customized Chevrolet pictured above. What the builder of this coupé utility stake truck did starting from a Chevrolet Bel Air inspired the title for this post.

Back in 1959 Chevrolet began producing the El Camino (Spanish for “The Way”) - a coupé utility pickup. This vehicle isn’t an El Camino. Instead it’s a Mi Camino - My Way, like the Frank Sinatra song. The El Camino hid its spare tire either behind the passenger seat or under the bed. This vehicle has its two spare tires displayed very prominently.  

Last March I blogged about What’s your speaking style more like: Teppanyaki, Flambé,or Flying Greens? and in 2014 I blogged about Don’t just get on the bandwagon! find your own speech topic and approach.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Public speaking isn’t the greatest fear for Ukrainians

Diseases of relatives is. That’s one interesting result from a magazine article titled Population study of fears in two generations of Ukrainians which appeared last year in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine (Volume 37, Number 3, pages 305 to 310). It was written by four researchers at the National University of Pharmacy in Kharkov : O. V. Filiptsova, Y. N. Kobets, M. N. Kobets, and I. A. Timoshyna.

They surveyed 867 residents of the Kharkov region between 2004 and 2007. Each resident filled out a 24 item fear survey schedule (Ivleva-Shcherbatyh questionnaire) where each fear was ranked on a scale from 1 to 10. Those fears were of:

Aggression possibility in relative
Communication with an authority
Confined spaces
Diseases of relatives
Disease possibility
Future uncertainty
Mental disorders development
Problems in a private life
Problems in the case of diseases of relatives
Public speech
Responsible decision making
Sex function disorders
Street violence
Suicide commitment

They reported results by gender for two generations - younger than 35 and older than 36. The younger generation grew up in an independent Ukraine, while the older generation  was raised in the former USSR with its political regimentation.

Back in 2012 an article at Psychology Today by Glenn Croston titled The Thing We Fear More Than Death began by claiming that:

“Surveys about our fears commonly show fear of public speaking at the top of the list.  Our fear of standing up in front of a group and talking is so great that we fear it more than death, in surveys at least.”

In this study for younger females fear of public speaking ranked 9th (and death was 17th), and for younger males it ranked 5th (and death was 14th). For older females it ranked 10th (and death was 14th), and for older males it ranked 14th (and death was 16th). Public speaking indeed was feared more than death, but it wasn’t hear the top of the fears list. Detailed results are shown in a series of four bar charts. Click on one to see a larger, clearer view.

The first bar chart shows fear rankings for 475 younger females. The top ten fears [and their 95% confidence intervals] are:

Diseases of relatives 7.6 [7.4 to 7.8]
Exam 6.6 [6.4 to 6.8]
Problems in the case of diseases of relatives 6.4 [6.2 to 6.6]
Problems in private life 5.8 [5.6 to 6.0]
Street violence 5.4 [5.2 to 5.6]
Animals 5.3 [5.1 to 5.5]
Poverty and Responsible decision making 5.2 [5.0 to 5.4]
Communication with an authority 5.1 [4.9 to 5.3]
Future uncertainty and Public speech 5.0 [4.8 to 5.2]
War 4.8 [4.6 to 5]

Public speech, 5.0, tied for 9th place with Future Uncertainty. Death and darkness 3.2 [3.0 to 3.4] were 17th, so speaking in public was more feared than death.

A second bar chart shows fear rankings for 257 younger males. The top ten fears [and their 95% confidence intervals] are:

Diseases of relatives 6.4 [6.0 to 6.8]
Exam 4.9 [4.5 to 5.3]
Problems in the case of diseases of relatives and Problems in private life 4.8 [4.4 to 5.2]
Responsible decision making 4.7 [4.3 to 5.1]
Public speech 4.2 [3.8 to 4.6]
Poverty 4.1 [3.7 to 4.5]
Street violence 3.9 [3.9 to 4.3]
Future uncertainty 3.8 [3.4 to 4.2]
Animals and Communication with an authority 3.7 [3.5 to 3.9]
Height 3.3 [2.9 to 3.7]

Public speech, 4.2, was in 5th place. Death 2.4 [2.2 to 2.6] was 14th, so again speaking in public was more feared than death.

For 23 of 24 fears the mean fear level for younger females was higher than for younger males. The exception was Aggression possibility to relatives, and it was higher by just 0.3. The largest difference was 1.7 for Exam, followed by 1.6 for Animals, Problems in the case of diseases of relatives, and war.


A third bar chart shows fear rankings for 101 older females. The top ten fears [and their 95% confidence intervals] are:

Diseases of relatives 7.8 [7.2 to 8.4]
Problems in the case of diseases of relatives 6.4 [5.8 to 7.0]
Depth 5.9 [5.3 to 6.5]
Animals 5.8 [5.2 to 6.4]
Exam and Poverty 5.2 [4.6 to 5.8]
Street violence and War 5.1 [4.5 to 5.7]
Problems in private life 4.9 [4.3 to 5.5]
Future uncertainty, Height, and Responsible decision making 4.8 [4.2 to 5.4]
Communication with an authority and Disease possibility 4.3 [3.7 to 4.9]
Public speech 4.2 [3.8 to 4.6]

Public speech, 4.2, was in 10th place. Death 3.3 [2.7 to 3.9] was 14th, so again speaking in public was more feared than death.


A fourth bar chart shows fear rankings for 34 older males. The top ten fears [and their very wide 95% confidence intervals due to the extremely small sample size] are:

Diseases of relatives 7.1 [6.1 to 8.1]
Problems in the case of diseases of relatives 5.6 [5.8 to 7.0]
Poverty and Responsible decision making 4.8 [3.8 to 5.8]
Problems in private life and War 4.5 [3.7 to 5.3]
Exam 4.2 [3.6 to 4.8]
Street violence 4.1 [3.3 to 4.9]
Ageing and Pain 4.0 [3.0 to 5.0]
Disease possibility 3.7 [2.7 to 4.7]
Future uncertainty 3.6 [2.6 to 4.6]
Height 3.5 [2.5 to 4.5]

Communication with an authority and Public speech 3.0 [2.4 to 3.6] was 14th and Death 2.8 [2 to 3.6] was 16th, so again speaking in public was more feared than death.

Perhaps Ukrainians have other things on their minds. (Today is the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dismantling an awful pie chart

At Kelly Vandever’s Speaking Practically web site there was a blog post on April 11th by Tom Nixon. titled Give your graph a point of view illustrated by a the pie chart slide shown above. My previous blog post on April 22nd discussed why I thought it was Another awful pie chart example. I also showed a horizontal bar chart which I thought was better.  A revised version of that slide also is shown above. Kelly Vandever had commented:

“Sorry but I like Tom's chart MUCH better!”

Tom’s slide is prettier than mine, but I think his does not clearly communicate that data. So, I’m going to gradually remove what I think is superfluous from his. The first problem with his chart was that it has ten wedges, one for just 1% and two for 2%. That’s way too many. On page 71 of her 2008 book slide:ology Nancy Duarte advised:

“Limit a pie chart to eight sections. More is too many to differentiate on a slide.”

As shown above, those two 2% wedges should be combined with the 1% one, into one 5% wedge for Everything Else. 

The second problem with his chart was the huge outboard data label (in a font larger than the slide title) pointing to the red wedge. It already was identified by being exploded from the chart, so I put that white label back on the wedge, but using a larger font than for the other wedges.

The third problem with his slide was using a stock photo of a red BMW coupe with a German license plate (from Munich). The subtitle claims the chart is about North American car colors. Why does it show a foreign car? Note that after it’s removed you can see that the pie chart covers a relatively small area on the slide.

The fourth problem with his slide was the title. Red was the fifth most common car color. Would you ever say that a pro sports team which is fifth in its division is HOT? When only 1 of 10 cars is red, how can you say that color is hot?

Saying red is hot also is nonsense when viewed as a temperature. White is much hotter than red, as you can see in a Colour chart for forging and hardening from Uddeholm.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Another awful pie chart example

At Kelly Vandever’s Speaking Practically web site there was a blog post on April 11th by Tom Nixon. titled Give your graph a point of view illustrated by a pie chart with popular colors for North American cars similar to the one shown above. (His also was 3-D and had the segment for red exploded). His text said to:

“Give your charts and graphs a point of view by emphasizing the specific data that is critical to their understanding of your big idea or goal. Pull out the important numbers, enhance their display and show how those numbers are so important to the overall understanding of the content. Then add a headline and a sub headline that focuses their attention and have a powerful graph that both shows the data and delivers your point of view.”

Just over a month ago on March 17, 2016 I blogged about how 3-D Pie Charts are the Spawn of Satan. I don’t think Tom’s chart delivers his point of view. As shown above, a horizontal bar chart would be better. Now you can clearly see how white is hot and red is not (since it’s in fifth place and less than half the percentage for white). The data for my chart are from Axalta.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

WHO knows how to wash your hands - an excellent demonstration speech topic

Are you supposed to give a demonstration speech for a class or the Speaking to Inform manual at your Toastmasters International club?  The World Health Organization (WHO) has a solution. They have excellent information for talking about hand hygiene.

A good starting point is their seven-page pamphlet on Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When? There is a poster on How to Handwash? Also see their web page Clean Care is Safer Care.

There also is is a 14-minute YouTube video on Hand Hygiene posted by the New England Journal of Medicine. Detailed hand moves are shown starting at 6:15. The information is presented in clinical jargon though. If you want a clearer, funkier Philadelphia version, look at the six-minute Wash “Em - Hand Hygiene Music Video from Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. They show the hand moves starting at 3:00. (The video was inspired by Michael Jackson’s song Beat It). Even more hand and dance moves are shown in another four-minute video Hand hygiene from rubbing to dancing

I found this topic via an article on page D1 of the April 19th Wall Street Journal by Sumath Reddy titled The right way to wash hands: A scientific inquiry. It also is discussed in a press release about a magazine article titled A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial of 6-Step vs 3-Step Hand Hygiene Technique in Acute Hospital Care in the United Kingdom whose abstract is at PubMed

The image of hand washing came from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Strategies for effective lectures

In April 2015 a 6-page review article titled Practical Strategies for Effective Lectures by P. H. Lenz et al appeared in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society (Volume 12, Number 4, pages 561 to 566). You can read an abstract at PubMed (where I found it), view the full text, or download an Acrobat pdf file of the full text. It has a list of 39 references. The article is one in their medical series of Seminars for Educators.

This article contains six sections headed:

1]  The Rationale for Active Learning
2]  Contemporary Methods for Engaging Audiences
3]  Using Audience Response Systems to Promote Interactive Learning
4]  Organization and Delivery of the Large Group Session
5]  Techniques for Effective Slide and Graphic Design
6]  Alternative Software Tools for Large Group Presentations

Figure 2 in Section 5 shows an example of the Assertion-Evidence format for PowerPoint slides that I discussed in this blog back in February 2014.

The image was adapted from an 1895 one about Popular Lectures on Human Nature found at the Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

How not to communicate - Honda told me my car is literally da bomb

As shown above I own a 2012 Honda Fit subcompact car. Honda recently sent me an IMPORTANT SAEFTY RECALL notice that says:

What is the reason for this recall?
Honda has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists is certain 2009-2014 model year Fit vehicles.

The defect in these vehicles could kill or injure you or other people in your vehicle. Specifically, in some vehicles, the driver’s front airbag inflator could produce excessive internal pressure upon deployment. If an affected airbag deploys, the increased internal pressure may cause the inflator to rupture (break apart) and deploy abnormally. In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material possibly causing serious injury or fatality to you and others in the vehicle. Past ruptures like this have killed and injured vehicle drivers.

What should you do?
The remedy parts needed to conduct airbag inflator recalls will become available in the Summer of 2016. Honda will send you another letter when parts become available to repair your vehicle.

Until parts become available for repairs, please feel free to discuss your specific needs and concerns with your dealer, including the provision of, or reimbursement for, temporary alternative transportation, as necessary. You also may contact Honda’s Automobile Customer Service (at the number listed below) to address your needs and concerns.

If you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to visit www or to call Honda Automobile Service at 1-888-234-2138.

Wow! Should I start panicking and losing sleep now? Not really. The recall is a recent addition to a colossal mess involving inflators for Takata airbags. But Honda has a more specific recall site just about the airbags. I wish they had told me to look there first. A February 23rd article linked to from there said:

“A consortium of 10 automakers investigating the root cause behind exploding airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. has fingered the ammonium nitrate propellant as a key factor in the deadly ruptures — but not the only one. 

According to the group, known as the Independent Testing Coalition, the ammonium nitrate propellant used in about 23.4 million inflators that Takata deemed defective last year was contained in inflator assemblies that failed to protect the chemical from moisture in humid climates. The exposure to humidity and repeated temperature swings over time can cause the ammonium nitrate to combust violently and rupture the inflator when the airbags deploy in a crash, the group concluded…” 

On March 11th at Consumer Reports there was an article titled Everything you need to know about the Takata airbag recall. It included the following information under the heading of Does it matter where I live?:

“According to NHTSA, yes. The Takata inflators seem to be vulnerable to persistent high humidity and high temperature conditions, such as in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, the Gulf Coast states, Hawaii, and island territories. However, since a number of confirmed deaths have occurred in places outside the priority recall area, this recall should not be ignored.”

he high humidity and temperature combination presumably would cause the ammonium nitrate to break into smaller particles, which would combust more rapidly than intended when the airbag inflates. Other than when it was shipped overseas from Japan after it was made in August 2011, my car never was exposed to persistent high humidity. The airbag inflator is unlikely to produce excessive pressure. Some doesn’t mean mine. 
How many cars are involved? On March 2nd the Car and Driver web site had another article titled: Massive Takata Airbag Recall: Everything You Need to Know, Including Full List of Affected Vehicles. The recall started in April 2013, and it affected the following millions of vehicles:

Honda 8.51(millions)
Dodge Ram 5.64
Toyota 3.11
BMW  1.605
Ford 1.509
Nissan 1.091
Mercedes-Benz 0.848
Volkswagen 0.680
Chevrolet 0.510
Mazda 0.500
Pontiac 0.300
Audi 0.170
Subaru 0.080

That’s a total of 24.55 million cars, or about ten percent of the total of 257.9 million cars in the U.S. Here in Boise the March 30, 2016 Idaho Statesman had an article by Robert Ehlert titled Airbag recall a sobering situation for millions who need to act. He owns a 2008 Honda CR-V that he bought as a used car. Mr. Ehlert chose to park that vehicle, and drive a rental until it gets fixed. But I’m going to keep driving my Fit.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ingenuity or just laziness?

Recently on the Public Speaking Network group at LinkedIn Jay Lee pointed to a 2-1/2 minute YouTube video by Brian Tracy on Laziness. Brian’s original one is titled Something for Nothing: Human Nature & Laziness. It’s a good brief speech, although I’d have used the positive word ingenuity rather than the negative word laziness. Ingenuity is defined as:

“the quality of being clever, original, and inventive.”

Here is a transcript. Note that in the second paragraph he shifts from we to you, and also mistakenly says homos economicus  instead of homo economicus. Brian says:

“Hi. I’m Brian Tracy, and why do people do the things that they do. I’ve studied behavioral psychology for more than forty years. I’ve studied economics for three decades to try to figure out why people behave the way they do. And I’ve come to the conclusion that each person has certain characteristics which are called human nature. Whenever you hear somebody say well that’s just human nature, well that’s what they’re talking about. 

Now, the first characteristic of human nature is very easily understood. It’s probably the driving force of all behavior. We say that life is made up of the minutes and hours and days of your existence. Well, life is also made up of the amount of energy you have to expend. And since everybody thinks economically, they call human beings homos economicus, we all think economically, we try to conserve the amount of time and energy you spend to on any element in their life.

The result of this instinctive way of acting is laziness. Everyone is lazy. Laziness is a natural trait. It’s neither good nor bad. And it can be expressed in both a positive and negative way. 

The good side of laziness is when you’re finding faster, cheaper, and easier ways to accomplish your goals. This is the motive force behind all advancement in human civilization. Laziness, in a positive way, has driven improvements in technology, manufacturing, production, agriculture, transportation, medicine, education, always finding faster ways to get the same result with a lower expenditure top time energy and money. It’s the driving force of all progress.

Now there’s a dark side of laziness as well. This is the part that you’re familiar with. Laziness causes people to cut corners, to slack off, to waste time, and to contribute less. And the less you contribute, the less value your contribution has. Laziness is bad in this sense because it robs the potential of the individual who practices it. It undermines his possibilities in the present and undermines his hopes for the future. 

But laziness in and of itself is neutral. It is only the way in which it is expressed that allows one to make a positive or negative judgment about it. In our next session, I’ll talk about the next characteristic of human nature.”

One great example of human ingenuity is the spear-thrower or atlatl which we have been using for about the last 18,000 years. A web page from the World Atlatl Association about How to Throw shows a series of still photos and describes that:

“The throwing motion with an atlatl is the same as in throwing a ball or rock. The main difference is that when you snap your wrist at the end of a pitch, your wrist provides a short lever arm, while the same snap of the wrist while holding an atlatl gives you a long lever, like adding another arm joint.”

The atlatl image was adapted from one at Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Making Your Case: the art of persuading judges

In 2008 the late Antonin Scalia (then an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) and Bryan A. Garner (editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary) put out a book titled Making Your Case: the art of persuading judges. It’s a detailed treatment of a specialized form of persuasive speaking that I found quite fascinating. 

That book is divided into four main topics:

General Principles of Argumentation (sections 1 to 21)
Legal Reasoning (sections 22 to 27)
Briefing (sections 28 to 54)
Oral Argument (sections 55 to 115)

Each topic is divided into sub-topics, and finally into pithy, brief sections. The longest sub-topic, on Oral Argument, contains

introduction  (section 55)
long term preparation (sections 56 to 58)
preliminary decision: who will argue (sections 59 and 60)
months and weeks before argument (sections 61 to 71)
before you speak (sections 72 to 76)
substance of argument (sections 77 to 88)
manner of argument (sections 89 to 100)
handling questions (sections 101 to 111)
after the battle (sections 112 to 115)

Under Manner of Argument there are the following sections:

 89. Look the judges in the eye. Connect.
 90. Be conversational but not familiar.
 91. Use correct courtroom terminology.
 92. Never read an argument; never deliver it from memory except the opener and perhaps the closer.
 93. Treasure simplicity.
 94. Don’t chew your fingernails.
 95. Present your argument as truth, not your opinion.
 96. Never speak over a judge.
 97. Never ask how much time you have left.
 98. Never (or almost never) put any other question to the court.
 99. Be cautious about humor.
100. Don’t use visual aids unintelligently.

Section 93 on page 182 says to Treasure simplicity:

“Express your ideas in a straightforward fashion, not circuitously - and in plain words. When you describe events, treat them chronologically.

Avoid pretentious expressions. You’re trying to get judges to understand a case, not to impress them with your erudition. Your job is to make a complex case simple, not to make a simple case sound complex. This end is best achieved by clear thoughts simply expressed.

Part of simplicity is brevity. Get to the point. Don’t meander in leading up to it or embellish it once made. Every fact, every observation, every argument that does not positively strengthen your case positively weakens it by distracting attention.”

Section 42 on pages 111 and 112 says To clarify abstract concepts, give examples:

“Legal briefs are necessarily filled with abstract concepts that are difficult to explain. Nothing clarifies their meaning as well as examples. One can describe the interpretive canon noscitur a sociis as the concept that a word is given meaning by the words with which it is associated. But the reader probably won’t really grasp what you’re talking about unless you give an example similar to the one we gave earlier: ‘pins, staples, rivets, nails, and spikes.’ In that context ‘pins’ couldn’t refer to lapel ornaments, ‘staples’ couldn’t refer to standard foodstuffs, ‘nails’ couldn’t refer to fingernails, and ‘spikes’ couldn’t refer to hairstyles.”

Here in Idaho there is an excellent recent illustration of giving specific examples. Governor Otter just vetoed the Use of the Bible in Public Schools Bill, Senate Bill 1342. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, had argued the Bible is not a sect or a denomination, since it’s used by everyone. Nuxoll told a Senate committee she considers the Bible to be universal.

A brief video of Lawrence Wasden, the Attorney General, gives specific examples of why various versions of the Bible (such as the King James version from the Church of England or Anglicans) are books of a denominational character, and thus clearly violate the Idaho state constitution.   

The image of a judge and a cowboy came from a 1902 Puck magazine at the Library of Congress.

Friday, April 8, 2016

What’s the worst acronym ever?

In a blog post on  April 13, 2009 I asked What is the worst acronym ever devised? My answer then was the American Symphony Orchestra League’s use of ASOL.

But this month George Mason University came up with an even worse variation. They decided to rename their law school in memory of Antonin Scalia, the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Their first try was calling it the Antonin Scalia School of Law, which acronyms to ASSOL. This is such an obvious and vulgar synonym for anus that if you asked to put it on a custom license plate it would be rejected.

On further reflection that was altered to the less obviously offensive Antonin Scalia Law School (ASLS). Their first choice was sufficiently unbelievable to get a web page at

The image of a disgusted Uncle Sam was modified from a Puck magazine cover for February 17, 2009 found at the Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Interesting infographic on Our Biggest Fears by Alexandra Walker

Alexandra Walker posted an infographic on her design web site. She stated that:

Our Biggest Fears is an infographic based on a survey of fears that I created and conducted after always having been interested in what causes people to be afraid, why, and how. This information architecture project focuses on the correlation of the age the fear began, how severe it is, and what type of fear it is. It also explores whether or not it’s irrational as well.

I included the unedited/filtered responses I received in the survey as well.”

She asked 120 people what their biggest fear was. 7 each said Heights and Spiders, 5 said Death, 3 Said Darkness, and just 2 said Public Speaking. (So much for the usual claim by coaches the public speaking is the greatest fear!) She plotted the unsorted results as follows:

It's a very attractive infographic. Is this an effective visualization for the data? Not really. It’s exploratory rather than explanatory. First sorting the results based either on the severity of the fear or its type would have been better. Sorted data based on severity could better be plotted via a horizontal bar chart instead of her circular bubble chart.

Because the age when fear began typically was low, her infographic resembled the blood spatter on a wall seen in an episode from the television show CSI (where the center of that pattern was blocked by a person’s head).    

Elsewhere she earlier had another infographic with a black background, which displayed the severity using bars extending radially outward. That infographic was sorted by types and it also showed the unbalanced distribution by gender. It revealed there were 93 females and just 27 males, or 22.5% male - 77.5% female. There typically are significant gender differences with women reporting more intense fears than men.

Psychologists typically ask about fears via fear survey schedules. I’ve previously blogged about several different ones that have been used. They cover a predetermined long list of fears, and ask for a rating of each one on a scale from zero to terror. Back in 1965 James H. Geer described the FSS-II with 51 fears. I blogged about how In a 1965 survey of university students, fear of public speaking ranked sixth for men and seventh for women. The most recent U.S. one (with 89 fears) was the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears.

The image of a terrified man was adapted from one at Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What is a queue card?

Obviously it’s a small piece of paper that you use to keep your place in line while waiting to be served. But, that’s not what Kyle B. Hart meant to say. In an article at Lifehack titled 10 Powerful Public Speaking Tips from Some of the Best Speakers in the World it showed up in his #4:

1]   It’s not about what you understand, necessarily, but what you’re truly passionate about.
2]   Start at the top of the pyramid.
3]   Remind yourself that human interaction is a normal part of everyday life.
4]   Memorization, wordy PowerPoints, and queue cards are evil. Pure. Evil.
5]   Admire people who are better than you and learn from them.
6]   Make practice a priority.
7]   Sloooooooooow doooooooooooooooooown.
8]   Use the sound of silence.
9]   Promote camaraderie in Q&A.
10] Be human. Be sincere. Be yourself.

He clearly meant to instead say cue card. On August 13, 2015 I blogged about Should you “take a queue” or “take a cue”?

The Take a Ticket image came from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The French like me and Jerry Lewis

You don’t get to choose who is going to like you as a speaker or blogger. After almost 490,000 page views I looked under the Stats tab in Google Blogger to find the top ten countries viewing this blog. As shown above, almost 3 out of 5 (58.9%) are from the U.S., followed by France (9.3%), Russia (7.9%), the United Kingdom (5.7%), Ukraine (4.7%), Germany (4.3%), Canada (3.8%), India (3.1%), Australia (1.4%) and China (1.0%).

But then I looked at what’s been happening recently in the past week and month. It’s very different, and for some unknown reason the French really like me. I don’t speak French and have never been to France.

For the past week almost four out of five views came from France (almost 1/2) and the U.S. (1/3rd).  The percentages were France (48.1%), United States (33.1%), Poland (5.7%), Russia (4.4%) Ukraine (2.0%), Japan (1.6%), United Kingdom (1.5%), Canada (1.4%), Germany (1.2%) and Australia (1.0).

For the past month the percentages were France (47.5%), United States (37.2%), Poland (4.6%), Canada (2.1%), United Kingdom (1.9%), Russia (1.9%) Ukraine (1.4%), Japan (1.2%), Germany (1.1%) and Romania (1.1%).

I remember reading in the New York Times that the French also like the comedy of Jerry Lewis.

An image of the French flag came from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Invasion of the Raccoyotes

The current issue of Boise Weekly has An April Fools’ Guide to Idaho History. It continues their tradition of discussing several semi-plausible tales, like 2010’s Dead Men Moving. One involves a creature that is a cross between a raccoon and a coyote:

“Animals were often included in the April Fools' revelry. Idaho children who grew up giggling at tall tales of ‘jack-o-lopes’ might be surprised to learn these elusive creatures weren't the first fantastical hybrids to crop up in the Gem State's isolated places. During the early 1920s, people in town after town along the Snake River were alarmed over reported sightings of ’racooyotes, a particularly ‘ornery and cagey’ cross between coyotes and raccoons. The beasts were said to have first been spotted in the Burley area, lurking in the heavy brush on the banks of the Snake. Even more terrifying than their existence was that the racooyotes were said to run in packs and had been seen taking down deer, free-ranging cattle and even wild mustangs that roamed the high desert south of the river.

In Twin Falls County, the sheriff organized hunting parties to go in search of the ‘vicious, predatory abominations,’ as the Burley Weekly Mailer called them, and was pleased that as many as 50 men showed up with shotguns, rifles, pistols and even sticks of dynamite, to blast the dens of the fast-breeding critters. 

A great deal of anxiety would have been spared the poor people of these Idaho communities had someone noticed that the edition of the Daily Mailer first alerting them to the threat of racooyotes had come out on March 31—just in time for April Fools' Day.”

Back in 2008 I blogged about Tales of the Table Topics Bunny and the Jackalope. I linked to a Youtube music video of the song Creepy Jackalope Eye, whose lyrics warn:

“Many things in this life
Are not what they appear
Yeah, I look like a hare
But if you stop and you stare
I'm related to a deer”

For more April Foolery look at web pages from USA Today and TIME.

The raccoyote image was pasted together from images of a raccoon and coyote found at Wikimedia Commons.