Archive for December, 2012

All the World’s A Game, and Business Is a Player

December 24, 2012

The New York Times, Monday, December 24, 2012

All the World’s A Game, and Business Is a Player, by Neck Wingfield

“Congratulations.  Reading the first paragraph of this article has earned you a badge.

If this made-up award makes you feel good about yourself, then you are on the way to understanding gamification, a business trend–some would say fad–that aims to infuse other wise mundane activities with the excitement an instant feedback of video games.

Many businesses are using these game tricks to try to get people hooked on their products and services–and it is working, thanks to smart phones and the Internet.”

For example:  “Buying a cup of coffee?  Four-square, the social networking app that helped popularize the gamification idea, gives people virtual badges for checking in at a local cafe or restaurant.

…’We have a tendency to be dismissive about games, but what we’re learning is that games in general are wonderfully powerful tools that can be applied in all sorts of serious contexts,’ said Kevin Werbach, an associate professor at the Wharton School at the university of Pennsylvania, who teaches a course o how businesses can use games and recently wrote a book on the subject.”

Treasury Secretary Geithner: The Ball Is In the Republicans’ Court

December 4, 2012

The New York Times, Monday, December 3, 2012

Debt Reckoning: Pointing Fingers and Deflecting Blame, by Jackie Calmes

Washington: “At a stalemate in their talks to avoid a self-imposed fiscal crisis at the end of the month, the lead negotiators for the White House and Congressional Republicans used the Sunday morning news shows to defend their positions and blame the other side.”

Speaker John A. Boehner said on Fox News Sunday: “We’re nowhere.” 

Mr. Geithner, on the ABC News Program ‘This Week’ said the ball is ‘absolutely’ in the Republicans’ court to specify alternatives.”

Court tennis, table tennis:  What balls are they going to hit?

Washington Politicians Who Know How to Play Ball

December 2, 2012

THE NEW YORK TIMES SPORTS, Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Washington Politicians Who Know How to Play Ball, by Hillel Kuttleer

BALTIMORE:  “Former professional athletes who were members of Congress in 1987 included, from left (in picture) Jack Kemp, Jum Bunning, Morris Udall, Bill Bradley, and Tom McMillan.”

Mr. McMillan, who represented the Maryland Fourth Congressional District in the House of Representatives had this advice for candidates in the elections Tuesday: “shake every hand.”

According to the article: “The Capitol’s athletic ranks have since thinned.”  However, two  are in office now:  Representative Jon Runyan, of New Jersey who was an offensive lineman in the N.F.L. (The National Football League) and Representative Heath Shuler, of North Carolina who was a quarterback.  Representative Shuler is retiring from his seat, but Representative Runyan was campaigning for another term this year.  “Meanwhile, politics occasionally delivers its own curveballs.”  

As New Jersey was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, many campaign events were canceled.  However, Representative Runyan won his reelection.”

Politicians Caught Between the Rock of Ages and a Hard Place

December 2, 2012

The New York Times, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Science Times: Essay

Between Rock of Ages and a Hard Place, by Nicholas Wade

“It was the standard political interview, about ambition and the right size of government.  Then came the curveball question to Senator Marco Rubin of Florida from Michael Hainey of GQ magazine: ‘How old do you think the earth is?’

Senator Rubin, a possible contender in the 2016 presidential race, gave the following answer: ‘I’m not a scientist, man, but I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians.’  He went on: ‘At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all…”  

Mr. Wade, the author of the article, then speaks to religious interpretations, scientific theories and their teaching.  “By allowing that evolution is a theory, scientists would hand fundamentalists the fig leaf.  They, in return, should make no objection to the teaching of evolution in science classes as a theory, which it is.”  The author does not like Senator Rubin’s answers, but I think they are not bad for a politician.

A curveball is a difficult pitch to hit and may confuse the batter.  In this instance, the baseball idiom identifies the question Senator Rubin was asked as a difficult one to answer.  Mr. Wade thinks that Senator Rubin had “15 back flips and a hissy fit” when asked a simple question about the age of the earth.

Ping-Pong and Bowling Balls in Debt Reduction and Debt Ceiling Talks

December 2, 2012

The New York Times National, Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Democrats Vow Not to Take Deal Without Extension of Debt Ceiling, by Jonathan Weisman

Washington–” Senior Democrats said Tuesday that President Obama would not accept any deficit reduction deal that did not include a long-term extension of the debt ceiling… Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, ad Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, both said they did not intend to complete a major deficit reduction deal only to have Republicans reopen it each time the government bumps up against its statutory borrowing limit.”

Meanwhile, “Conservative Republicans have said they want the debt ceiling left out of any deal so they can maintain leverage on Washington to keep trimming the deficit.” 

The tough negotiations are still going on as of this date.  

However, “in a speech at the liberal Center for American Progress, Mr. Durbin stll expressed confidence that beneath all the public posturing, progress was being made between the White House and Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, toward heading off the so-called fiscal cliff.  ‘We’re playing Ping-Pong up here, but they’re rolling bowling balls under the table,‘ he said.”

Ping-Pong balls are lightweight; to make a point ordinarily takes a lot of back and forth hits, while bowling bowls are heavy and usually hit the pins in one roll.