Skip to content

Looking for our RSS feed?

Subscribe to this feed

Would you prefer your Mother’s or your Grandmother’s cooking if you were at the end of your rope?

2014/05/30

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral MetricsDid this post’s title stop you for a second? Maybe you had to read it once or twice to make sure you read it correctly? Maybe it confused you a little?

If any of those happened, good. Technically, the title is incongruous, meaning there is no logical connection between someone’s cooking and being at the end of one’s rope.

I hope so, anyway.

Also, the title is phrased as a question. Even better, it’s phrased as a question that involves emotional memory (the words “Mother” and “Grandmother” invoke emotional memory in most people) and psychological tension (being “at the end of your rope” is a colloquial English expression indicating tension and/or situational frustration).

Not bad, really. Emotional memory mixed with tension and/or frustration. Who among us hasn’t been there, huh?

The title is also indicative of something that occurs in truly good surveys designed to probe psychological factors (and I’ll explain my definition in a minute); they cause different brain regions to become active and go into resource conflict. That’s nerdspeak for “it makes you think”. Such questions in surveys are intended to make participants think before responding and therefore negate any test-taker bias that may occur in a normal online survey situation.

A Truly Good Psychological Survey…

… has covert and overt elements. The overt part is the survey’s look and feel, how it’s delivered, how it’s administered, how participants are selected, the questions themselves, so on and so forth.

The covert part is what the survey designers and developers are really studying about the participants. What is really under scrutiny, in a truly good psychological survey, might meld with the overt elements and is not necessarily mated to those overt elements in any obvious way.

Incredible Survey Systems…

…know that there’s gold in overt and covert conflict, that everything needs to be observed for the data gathered to be valid. For example, this survey uses some NextStage technology to determine if survey takers have strong or weak emotional memories and if those strong or weak memories are positive or negative.

For that matter, even if they don’t take it. All you need do is go to the introduction and NextStage technology will already have gathered enough information about you to advise stake holders precisely whether you have strong or weak, positive or negative emotional memories.

Amazing isn’t it?

Good thing we have patents on it, don’t you think?

And if you take the survey and want to know what we’ve found out, just let us get in touch with us or join our Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group because we’ll be sharing it there.

Enjoy!

(and thanks)


Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.


Sign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgYou can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!

Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and ExpectationAre you signed up to get my next book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation? It’ll be a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings, whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

Amateurs

2014/04/01
by

There’s a name for people who work for the love of it: amateurs. The word now has such bad connotations that we forget its etymology, though it’s staring us in the face. “Amateur” was originally rather a complimentary word. But the thing to be in the twentieth century was professional, which amateurs, by definition, are not.

That’s why the business world was so surprised by one lesson from open source: that people working for love often surpass those working for money. Users don’t switch from Explorer to Firefox because they want to hack the source. They switch because it’s a better browser.

It’s not that Microsoft isn’t trying. They know controlling the browser is one of the keys to retaining their monopoly. The problem is the same they face in operating systems: they can’t pay people enough to build something better than a group of inspired hackers will build for free.

I suspect professionalism was always overrated– not just in the literal sense of working for money, but also connotations like formality and detachment. Inconceivable as it would have seemed in, say, 1970, I think professionalism was largely a fashion, driven by conditions that happened to exist in the twentieth century.

One of the most powerful of those was the existence of “channels.” Revealingly, the same term was used for both products and information: there were distribution channels, and TV and radio channels.

It was the narrowness of such channels that made professionals seem so superior to amateurs. There were only a few jobs as professional journalists, for example, so competition ensured the average journalist was fairly good. Whereas anyone can express opinions about current events in a bar. And so the average person expressing his opinions in a bar sounds like an idiot compared to a journalist writing about the subject.

On the Web, the barrier for publishing your ideas is even lower. You don’t have to buy a drink, and they even let kids in. Millions of people are publishing online, and the average level of what they’re writing, as you might expect, is not very good. This led some in the media to conclude that blogs weren’t much of a threat– that blogs were just a fad.

Actually, the fad is the word “blog,” at least the way the print media now use it. What they mean by “blogger” is not someone who publishes in a weblog format, but anyone who publishes online. That’s going to become a problem as the Web becomes the default medium for publication. So I’d like to suggest an alternative word for someone who publishes online. How about “writer?”

How Anthony Simcoe Taught Me the Difference Between Wisdom and Knowledge

2013/10/30

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics

FarScape was a sci-fi TV show that originally ran from 1998-2002. It caught our attention back then although I don’t think we got past the second or third season because it got…well…it got wanky. We think it started to suffer from the Gilligan’s Dinosaur Syndrome and that’s what caused the wankiness. I mean, it was such a good show when it started.

Anyway, the Pivot TV network is now showing the series (along with other interesting stuff that we haven’t found elsewhere. They’re worth a look) and we managed to catch the premier episode one channel flipping afternoon (FarScape normally airs at 11pmET, Monday-Friday).


Anthony Simcoe as D'ArgoSkip back to 1998, Susan and I are sitting in our living room (I think it was a Friday or Saturday evening) and FarScape comes on. One character, D’Argo, is played by Anthony Simcoe. I’d never heard of Anthony Simcoe before and was immediately taken by his voice. Had this guy done voice overs? Was he a voice actor? What else had he done?

Most importantly for this post, What did he look like?

I’ve been visually challenged since birth and have always been fascinated by people’s sounds (voices) compared and contrasted to their physiologies. Sometimes I’ll hug men because they have such resonant voices I’m curious about the chamber that produces it.

For example, I’ve been told that I don’t look like I sound. I’ve been trained to modulate my voice, to throat speak, to rotary breathe, all sorts of things that allow me to change my voice, so I can understand people telling me I don’t look like I sound.

But Anthony Simcoe’s voice…it was deep, powerful, resonant. Was he a singer? He elocution was also incredible (considering the makeup he was wearing) and accentless.

What did he look like?

But back in 1998 there was no internet like we know it today (I know, only fifteen years ago. Oh, my!). You couldn’t type in “Anthony Simcoe” and get parsecs of info on him and everything about him.

And, of course, once we stopped watching FarScape I forgot about him.

Until I saw him as D’Argo again thanks to Pivot TV.

And now, if I wanted, I could type his name into my desktop, my laptop, my tablet, my mobile, … heck, I could probably fingerwrite his name onto the morning frost on my windshield and my car could tell me everything about him.

And before I did any of that, I stopped.

Did I really want to know?

I mean, I had and once again have this incredibly rich image of Anthony Simcoe sans D’Argo makeup in my head. He probably doesn’t look anything like what I imagine, but so what? It’s his voice I love. Do I really truly honest to god want to know what chamber it comes out of?

Hug him, sure, and with my eyes closed.

But look him in the eye and ruin everything?

Were You Disappointed When Richard Dreyfuss Boarded the Close Encounters MotherShip?Were You Disappointed When Richard Dreyfuss Boarded the Close Encounters MotherShip?

Remember Close Encounters, Special Edition? The one where Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary actually goes on board the alien mothership and we follow him onboard? And instead of having all those wonderful imaginations in our head of what it was like, we actually see what it was like?

Was that a freakin’ disappointment or what, huh?

I remembered that. I remembered going to the theater with a bunch of friends and Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary goes on board and we all went, “What? That’s not what it’s like in there!”

Knowledge Isn’t Wisdom and Part of Wisdom is Knowing What’s Worth Not Knowing At All

Susan and I use to love Cirque du Soleil. I mean, we loved it. I first encountered it wa-a-ay back when I was hitchhiking through Canada and I got her hooked the first time it came to Boston. It was magic.

Magic!

And we went to several different shows in several different places and then one night we were watching a Bravo tv show about what goes in to making a Cirque du Soleil and the incredible training and scripting and then we see right on television that two of the next stars of the next production, two headliners, are holding out for more money.

To heck with the fact that they’d signed contracts and everything, they realized they were main attractions in the new show and decided they could hold the show ransom because they didn’t want to honor their contracts, heck no, they simply wanted more money.

And the magic, at that instant, right at that moment, as Susan and I were sitting in the same living room where we’d watched FarScape, died.

I’m talking stake through the heart it ain’t never coming back dead. We’ve not gone to a Cirque du Soleil show since.

And whenever we think about Cirque du Soleil, we wish we’d never watched that Bravo tv show because knowing wasn’t as good as dreaming and wondering.

In short, the knowledge didn’t add any real value to our lives. In fact, it took value away.

Just like seeing the inside of the mothership.

If you’re thinking this touches back to Digital Divisivity, you’re correct. Knowing a fact doesn’t necessarily make you a better person. Sometimes it might even make you a lesser person, in the sense that the knowledge, recognizably trivial to your daily life, doesn’t make you happy and takes some of your happiness away.

It’s like being told that high school algebra will someday help you buy groceries. Really? It will? Can you prove that?

Back to Anthony Simcoe

So, Anthony, you big, powerful, broad chested, handsome as all heck, wonderful father and husband who is kind to animals and has that amazingly melodious baritone that makes me so curious about you, I never want to meet you face to face. You might not be who I think you are, and I’m big into avoiding disappointments at this point in my life.

Thanks for the wisdom in recognizing that, though.

I mean, you know what they say; “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

Right now, Anthony, you’re a happy fruit. Now stay out of my salad.

Links for this post:


Sign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgYou can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!

Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Theory and ApplicationsAre you signed up to get my next book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Theory and Applications? It’ll be a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings,
whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

That Question of Faith

2013/10/17

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics My recent Arrogance v ignorance (Faith untested is only an opinion) post got lots of interest.

I’m always surprised by what others find interesting.

One thought-provoking email exchange occurred with an English as a Second Language speaker who was confused by the use of “opinion”, much like my confusion about “affair” when I was a child.

My correspondent’s questions got me to thinking, though. He wrote:

What is then faith when tested successfully? Faith. Yes?
The new connection for me now is made: opinion is a level of faith or belief but then we arrive to the differentiation between belief and faith, the question I dissected once in the past and cannot pull up my references that easily but if I recall correctly faith requires no proof, whereas belief is subject to change based on new data.

I offered that faith successfully tested is “belief”, more accurately “acceptance” and most probably conviction. Faith untested is, at best, “hope” and as my beloved Susan once said, “Shades of gray are where Hope dwells.”

But the question “How much data do you need before faith becomes belief?” got me to remembering a discussion I had long ago with another fellow. He was, earlier in his life, a devout believer, someone of great conviction. He wasn’t a gnat (like Paul in the Arrogance v ignorance post) and would only share his faith/belief/conviction when asked or questioned and then reluctantly (he wanted to be sure you really wanted to know before taking up your time). He truly demonstrated his faith/belief/conviction via his actions. I remember hearing some friends of his describe him with phrases like “I expect him to sprout wings and fly away when he goes around a corner” and “He has the most amazing spirit” and such.

Even though his convictions had changed greatly, nobody knew it. Such was his “walk” that his expression of what he believed in — which had greatly changed — didn’t alter how he demonstrated his convictions (even though they had greatly changed).

What I noticed (and it was subtle. I knew something was different and it took me quite a while to pinpoint what I thought it was) was an minor increase in melancholy when certain things happened. A loss of innocence, it might be called. To others, a wisdom and probably one that surpassed the Apostle Paul’s “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” requirement.

But what happened to change his faith?

In his own words:


I’d been a true believer for over twenty years. I’d been practically kicked out of my parents’ home because of my faith. I believed. I mean, I believed. I wasn’t a fanatic. I had an excellent reason to belief; a miracle. A bona fide, you can’t deny it, in your face miracle that happened to me and other people witnessed and by god if that wasn’t the blood of christ working for you nothing was.

And for the last seventeen of those twenty years, every time something horrible happened in my life, I thought back to that miracle and told myself that because that miracle was true, my faith was true, and therefore my belief in god was true. I’d been beatup, shot at, lived in my car, lived on the street — I use to joke that I was homeless before it was acceptable — abandoned by my family and friends, … oh, I gave it all up for christ because I had that miracle to hold onto.

You need to know the miracle to understand. All I had at one point was my car. One day I’m putting things in my car — I always had it locked — and I see a plain brown bag in the backseat. I open it and there’s a boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia, still in its wrapper, but no pricestickers on it, no sales slip, nothing.

This is incredible to me because I’d been reading the series book by book through a friend of three years who’d let me camp out on his living room floor and happened to mention that I’d been praying God would get me my own copies so I could mark them up and make notes.

Whenver I questioned my faith I went back to that simple thing just because it was so simple a thing and also because it was so personal a thing. It was such a direct answer to a prayer that it had to be proof, simple proof. Simple and undeniable, that’s how much it meant to me. I was a kid, understand, just twenty years old and the first time out of my parents’ house.

And there they are in the backseat the next morning. I ran back to my friend’s apartment and showed him the unopened set. I couldn’t believe it. I exclaimed that it was a miracle, an answer to my prayer, and that there was no way somebody else could have put them in my car because I always had the keys with me and who would break into a car to leave me a gift, anyway?

And he smiled and nodded and the other folks in the apartment smiled and nodded and we all rejoiced and prayed and thanked god for that miracle.

Flash forward eighteen years. I have gone through…hell…for my faith. I mean, hell. Things that only happen to missionaries in old movie type things. Things Tarzan, Superman and The Hulk together couldn’t get me out of, and I survived. That was another thing I use to tell people who were amazed at what I’d been through for my faith (he laughed here); I survive. When all others fail, quit or die, I survive. You can read my back like a roadmap from the beatings I took for my faith.

Because of that one…fucking…miracle.

Now eighteen years have passed and that friend and I are in my house. He knows what I’ve gone through. He’d seen some of it, he definitely heard about the rest of it and there were times he held me while I cried about it.

Now he’s looking at my bookshelf, at that same set of The Chronicles of Narnia, and I start up again about that miracle.

And my best friend of eighteen years says, “I put them in your car.”

“What?” I asked. I didn’t exclaim it. I didn’t yell it. I asked it. But now there’s a wee small throb starting at the back of my skull and I’m starting to feel sick.

“I put them in your car. You were asleep on the floor in your sleeping bag and I knew you weren’t going to wake up for a while so I went to the bookstore, asked for a set that was still unmarked, got your keys off the coffee table where you left them and put the books in your car.”

I’m really feeling sick now. “What?”

“I knew you wanted them and it seemed like a great gift to keep you going on your walk.”

I fell into a chair and I mean fell. “But when I asked you…”

He shrugged. “I didn’t want to spoil it for you.”

And I thought, “You let me believe in a lie for the past eighteen years? You let me get fucked over time and time again for the past eighteen years because you didn’t want to spoil it for me? You let me leave my wife and son because I thought my vision was true and she couldn’t accept it and because of that fucking miracle that really wasn’t, I thought everything else that happened was what god wanted so rather than fight for them I just rolled over and you didn’t say a thing? You couldn’t tell me the truth and let me decide, each time, if my faith was worth it?”

“And nobody ever told me? This is your testimony in Christ? Let somebody believe in a lie rather than allow them the right to make an informed decision?”

He shrugged again.

So my faith was based on a lie. Everything I did “in Christ” was a lie. The last eighteen years of my life had been a lie.

My faith had been tested and proven but it was all a lie. And god or christ or whatever had never tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, Phil, we need to talk about this.” Everybody I’d told the story to thought it was great and people converted and now I realized their faith, if based on my testimony, was also a lie.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

The real shame was that my friend took off. I haven’t seen him since. I don’t blame him. I’m not sure I could look a friend in the face if I’d been lying to him for their entire relationship. Imagine the shame he’d been carrying, allowing me to live that lie and knowing he’d allowed it? What a conflict of faith that must have been for him. It must have destroyed his faith, too.

But you want to know what was really funny? I forgave him. Yeah, it knocked the shit out of me for a few minutes and every once in a while I still laugh about it, but I realized that what really kept me going all those years wasn’t faith in some god or higher being, it was a faith in something inside of me that I called God or Christ or something because I didn’t have other words for it.

I think my forgiving him really destroyed his faith. I think he needed me to be ripshit with him and beat the shit out of him, but why bother? Who was the bigger fool? The one who believed or the one who lied? At least when I learned the truth I picked myself back up and continued on. That’s that “survival” thing, I guess. Yeah, I survive. Anything. Even discovering that what I believed in was a lie all along.

What I believed in was a lie but my faith never shook a leaf. I still believe in myself, just like I always did. People come to me for help now and instead of saying “Let’s pray over it” I say “Let’s get busy”.



Upcoming Appearances:

Come on by and say hello.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgSign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.
You can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!
Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings,
whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution
  Friends of NextStage
  LinkedIn Group

Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

Digital Divisivity

2013/10/09

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics The US — indeed most societies that were formed after the late 1600s — are adversarial in nature. Take a fleeting look at US politics and you see this writ large.

Pro (american) footballer, NY senator and one time vice presidential candidate Jack KempBut there’s adversarial and there’s out right combative. The two are different. Now deceased pro (american) footballer, NY senator and one time vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, a personal hero, corrected an interviewer regarding the democratic nominees during his vp bid with “…they are our adversaries, not our enemies” or something close to.

But it’s occurring to me that the increase is digital communications in increasing people’s combative natures. We’re going from being loyal opposition to being extreme antagonists.

I think it’s because the proliferation of information and its ease of access is making us, as individuals, think and believe we are correct in all things we look up on the ‘net, and more than correct, we are right, as in morally, ethically, unequivocally and by birth-right, justified and absolved in any position we take because we, by golly and by god, looked it up on the internet.

Let me give you an example.

Long, long ago (the 1980s or so), New England went through an incredible winter. There was one particular storm that The Boston Globe, a journal of record (at the time, anyway), measured in Shelbies.

Shelby ScottNo, a “Shelby” isn’t some arcane Boston Brahman or MIT or Harvard or ancient Greek or Roman measurement system. It’s based on one Shelby Scott, a retired WBZ-TV news commentator who lived on the Cape and who was (kind of) wheeled out every winter storm to report on how much snow we received because (for reasons I don’t know) she was given the monicker of “The Doyenne of Boston Weather” even though she wasn’t a meteorologist.

Anyway, that storm in the 1980s? The Boston Globe measured the total snowfall at “two and a half Shelbies“. It was a joke and a tribute to a long standing, well known and respected local news commentator.

But take a moment and notice everything that’s in that fragment. It’s “two and a half”, not “2.5″ (meaning words, not numbers, meaning it was geared for different parts of the brain). And it was measured in something social, meaning that an understanding of a Shelby meant you were part of a group, you were identifying with a specific culture and part of a recognized milieu.

The measurement itself brought people together because Shelby Scott’s exact size was always something for debate. She was a petite woman but, as Johnny Carson would say, “How petite was she?”

Now that's New England weatherThe inexactness of the measurement gave us reason to bond, to gather, to joke and cajole and pat each other on the backs and debate and laugh at the end and even if we disagreed we parted as friends because weather is, after all, weather.

But now?

Too much detailA recent look at Weather.com shows agonizing detail. It’s wonderful.

But do we really need it? Is your life better because you know the weather in 15 minute chunks?

I mean, it’s great if you want to argue about the weather, that kind of specificity is…wonderful. Right?

And I’m sure there’s some kind of satisfaction in being correct on some tidbit, some minutiae, some trivial matter. Aren’t there games that reward you for that?

Trivial PursuitBut wait, those were designed to bring people together.

I mean, together as in “let’s do something that causes us to value each other as equals” rather than “let’s each sit around feeling smugger than everybody else because we got some meaningless scrap of information that will be completely irrelevant in 15 minutes one nanosecond faster than everybody else I’m sitting with.”

Feelings of superiority, even in such trivial matters, bring us apart. Especially in the young, who’s near full time use of digital technologies has been reported to cause atrophication of the social parts of their brains (because much like a non-used muscle, it shrivels up without use).

The young Adolph HitlerAnd we all know where juvenile feelings of superiority end up, right? I mean, you don’t need the internet to figure that one out, do you?


Sign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgYou can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!

Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Theory and ApplicationsAre you signed up to get my next book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Theory and Applications? It’ll be a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings,
whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution on Facebook
Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

Arrogance v ignorance (Faith untested is only an opinion)

2013/07/24

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics Many years ago when I was in college, some of us gathered in a friend’s third story dorm room discussing an Ethics class assignment dealing with The Holocaust; How would we respond to the Nazis bursting in the door and demanding to know where the Jews were hiding? In the quiet of the dorm room some of us confessed we’d cave, some professed we’d stay resolute and hoped we could endure torture and there was much said between these two points.

One fellow, Paul and who was not in the Ethics class, claimed to be Christian. His father was a Bible answer man at a Christian radio station. In an era of long haired hippie freaks, he stood out in his close cut hair, pale skin, a perfectly starched and ironed white shirt w/ thin black tie that hung loosely on his closet hanger shoulders and billowed about his once-a-week-fasting frame. Blond and blue-eyed, he took every opportunity to evangelize us. He wasn’t a pain or a nuisance so much as a gnat.

He came into the room, listened, then nodded and said confidently, “I would tell the truth, tell them where the Jews were, and trust Jesus to perform a miracle and save them.”

Questioned, he said that he’d have to tell the truth because that’s what God required of him. He was insistent and adamant; His faith told him that God/Jesus would save those Jews, that some obvious Red Sea type miracle would be done.

One of the other people in the room was Ben, a wrestler, a big, quiet fellow, normally good natured and with a ready smile. Moonless midnight sky black hair and always in need of a shave, he had arms as thick as most people’s legs and his legs were as big around as most people (he laughed when we described him this way).

He was also Jewish. He’d lost people in The Holocaust.

Ben, leaning against the door, listened patiently, his brow furrowed, his lips silent, his eyes fixed on Paul and squinting as if Paul were some bright light on a close horizon. Paul started insisting that telling the Nazis where the Jews were hiding would be a test of his faith.

Ben quietly opened a window. He put his hands on the window sill, inhaled deeply, upturned Paul, grabbed him by an ankle and held him outside the window, three stories up.

“You have ten seconds to decide. Tell the truth, sacrifice the Jews and hope for a miracle, or lie, convincingly, and save your life. In ten seconds you’ll fall three stories. You may not die, but you’ll be badly hurt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be spared in either case. You admit there are Jews in your house and you’ve harbored Jews, you’re an enemy of the state and will be killed as an example to others. You convince me there are no Jews here and I may kill you anyway as a warning to others.”

“Ten…”

We didn’t think Ben would let Paul drop. He’d never been violent or even angry that we could remember. Even when we went out for pizza, he was the one who stopped arguments and shoving matches with reason and quiet good humor.

Now he relaxed his grip a few times. Whatever blood should have been rushing to Paul’s head never made it there. He was blanched white and screaming for Ben to stop.

“Nine…”

Paul never called for Jesus to save him. He begged Ben to bring him in. He screamed at us to help him.

“Eight… Where are the Jews?”

More screams. We could hear people outside on the college quad shouting up at this strange play. Somebody hollered for others to call campus security.

“Seven…Where are the Jews?”

Paul screamed hysterically now. Hysterically. “PLEASE DEAR GOD SOMEBODY MAKE HIM STOP!” I remember thinking, “Does that count as a call to God or is he just using the adjectival modifier?”

“Six…You are going to drop to the ground unless you tell me where the Jews are. Where are the Jews?”

At this point one of the other fellows in the room said, “Ten dollars Ben can’t hold him the full ten seconds.” Ben wasn’t breathing hard. He looked like he could hold Paul out the window forever. I said, “What?”

“Five…”

A window in the room next to ours opened up. Somebody shouted “Paul says he’d let Nazis kill the Jews and hope for a miracle. Ben’s going to drop him unless he changes his mind.” There was a quick response from the crowd, “Let the fucker fall!”, but nobody laughed.

“Four…Where are the Jews?”

Paul screamed, “I don’t know! There are no Jews!”

“Three…I’m not convinced.” He took his eyes off Paul, turned his head and looked at us, “Are any of you convinced?”

Somebody said, “Ben, come on. Enough’s enough.”

“Two…Nobody here’s convinced, either. Where are the Jews?”

Paul is crying now. Screaming and crying, hysterically begging for someone anyone to help him. He’s calling to Jesus Christ and all the saints and not in ways I think they’d recognize as calls for help.

“One. Time’s up. You die.”

Ben released his grip and drew his arm back in. Paul screamed and in that second before falling he cried, “YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH THIS IS WHY JESUS HATES JEWS!”

But before Paul even started to fall, as his words were echoing off the other dorm buildings’ walls, Ben’s other arm shot out, grabbed Paul’s leg and pulled him back in.

Paul was shaking and screamed, “YOU JESUS FUCKING CRAZY SON OF A JEW BITCH!”

Ben grabbed a towel and wiped Paul’s face off. He lifted a blanket from the bed and gently put it around Paul’s shoulders. Campus security ran into the room. An ambulance was summoned. The fellow who was wagering on Ben’s strength said it was all a stunt, just a dorm prank, and pulled several ten dollar bills from his pocket to prove it was just a crazy bet.

Paul never pressed charges. He left school the next day, transferred to a Christian school somewhere where Jews weren’t allowed to hold Christians out windows as tests of faith. Nobody said anything about it to Ben and he graduated two years later with a degree in education and some letters in wrestling.

I ran into Ben years later. He was teaching highschool physics, coaching wrestling and golfing whenever he could work it in. I reminded him of those few moments with Paul and he smiled at me. “Faith untested is only an opinion, and a poor one, at best,” he said.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgSign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.
You can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!
Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings,
whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution
  Friends of NextStage
  LinkedIn Group

Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

Mission of the Heart

2013/06/11

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics
Yesterday afternoon I achieved a goal I gave myself when I was in grade school.

My sister shared a story then and, in her telling, I, as a child, was so overwhelmed by her sense of awe, of excitement, of wonder, of possibility and imagination that I decided one day I would return her sharing, to give back that sense of joy and wonder, to fire those feelings of awe and excitement and experience that imagination again.

It was only two or three years ago that I was able to take the first step towards that goal, and largely, I admit, that step was taken due to the far-reaching resources of the internet.

Less than a week ago I took the second step, starting the actual “doing”, the necessary act to create the sharing. It was time, I thought. There was no other reason to start when I did. It was simply time and that was enough.

And yesterday afternoon, at about 6pmET, I had completed all the steps.

I rested from my labor. I understood why my sister, seven years my senior and in high school when I was in grade school, had felt the things she did.

I shared her feelings, finally.

But I am now late into middle-age.

I know why she felt the things she felt. I could understand what had caused the wonder, the awe, the joy, the excitement that made imagination’s fires burn.

What she shared that long ago afternoon set me on a course still guiding my life; to give others that sense of ultimate possibility, of limitlessness, to kindle in others that fire she kindled in me.

But I am older and she older still and I can not reverse the sharing, I can not explain to her what I now understand. To her it was a moment, something she’s forgotten (I know from asking).

So I’m writing this for my sister, Sandra, who gave me a mission of the heart, with angels to guide and stars to light the way.

Thank you.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgSign up for The NextStage Irregular, our very irregular, definitely frequency-wise and probably topic-wise newsletter.
You can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!
Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read.

Learn the latest regarding NextStage blog posts, conference sightings,
whitepapers, tools, presentations and more via The NextStage RSS feed Subscribe to NextStage's KnowledgeShop's RSS feed.


NextStage Evolution
  Friends of NextStage
  LinkedIn Group

Friends of NextStage LinkedIn Group

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54 other followers