Saturday, October 29, 2011

Car Restoration - Pinup Girls Restore Cars - YouTube

Car Restoration - Pinup Girls Restore Cars - YouTube

Ice your fears of public speaking

For many people, public speaking is a paralyzing exercise: sweaty palms, an errant leg shake or the sudden inability to speak coherently.

But in the business world, speaking confidently in public is a must-have skill for many professions. It's also key for any worker who is eying a leadership role, is looking for a job, has customer-service duties or is considering consulting work.

Workers can soothe public-speaking jitters with constant practice, good preparation and help from others, experts say.

And embrace the jitters. Speech skills sharpen over time, but seasoned public figures still flub or get nervous. Remember Gov. Jan Brewer's widely discussed pause during a televised 2010 gubernatorial debate? An Oscar-award-winning movie, The King's Speech, delves into King George VI of Britain's quest to nail an important speech.

Mastering her fear of talking in front of a crowd helped Karen Dolyniuk, now a manager at Pinnacle West Capital Corp., move up within the company, she said.

But that confidence came with time. Have you been to a staff meeting when the boss asks everyone to say their name and what they do at the company?

"My palms used to sweat, just doing that," Dolyniuk, 49, said with a laugh.

"It's hard to explain. I used to think, 'Do I have something to say that people would want to listen to?'" She later added: "I knew that I had to do something about it."

Public speaking is an essential workplace skill. Even a technology worker who spends hours behind a computer screen may have to train people or explain an issue to higher-ups at some point, said Jessica Pierce, executive director of Career Connectors, a non-profit networking group that serves Phoenix-area job seekers.

"As you are working your way up the corporate ladder, you will have to present a staff meeting, you will have to present yourself to customers," Pierce said. For job hunters, the skill is even more critical. Volunteering to speak to groups about their area of expertise helps job seekers build their personal brand in the community, which can help them land a job.

Also, more employers are doing group interviews to save time -- but some job candidates can't handle situations where they must sell themselves to several company officials at once.

"I know so many people more than qualified for a job, but if there are more than two or three interviewers in a room, they completely bomb it."

That's where practice comes in. Don't wait until a big speech rolls around. Volunteer to make a small presentation to your team, introduce a new employee or speak up at a club meeting. That will make you more comfortable with it, Pierce said.

Preparation also helps, added Fred Doidge, who calls himself the "doctor of public speaking."

An ordained minister for 40 years, the Scottsdale-based consultant teaches authors, lawyers, housewives and whoever else approaches him techniques for speaking more effectively.

He said the speaker must first be well-prepared and practiced, have a well-organized presentation, design the presentation specifically for the intended group and pick a specific style to use.

"Never write a speech. Design it and build it," Doidge said. "What are you trying to do? Inform people, motivate people. ...What's the intention?"

For many people seeking to hone their public-speaking skills, groups such as Toastmasters offer a chance to practice and the benefit of moral support.

Since 1924, Toastmasters has helped nervous public speakers work through their troubles and learn.

The non-profit has 13,000 chapters globally with more than 270,000 members.

The group meetings tend to vary in length but often last between 60 and 90 minutes, have 20 to 40 members and charge a $36 fee every six months.

"I just wanted to do Toastmasters because I always was uncomfortable speaking in public, and I would like to be a good speaker in general," said Judy Blum, 59, a caseworker and recent member of Toastmasters.

The organization has seen steady growth over the past decade, during the economic downturn, too. In 2000, Toastmasters had about 176,000 members but has grown by almost 100,000 people in 2011.

Dolyniuk, the Pinnacle West manager, joined Toastmasters in 1989. Over time, she become a more confident speaker and took on more leadership roles in the company.

As a loaned executive for Valley of the Sun United Way, she spoke to groups of up to 100 people.

Before she conquered her fear, Dolyniuk said, she used to sit in the back row at similar gatherings and marvel at the speaker.

"I used to think 'Wow, how do they do that? I could never do that.' "

by William D'Urso and Jahna Berry The Arizona Republic Oct. 29, 2011 01:21 PM

Ice your fears of public speaking

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Benson Cartoons - Political Cartoons - The Arizona Republic

Steve Benson Cartoon

Benson Cartoons - Political Cartoons - The Arizona Republic

Interview: Johnny Depp on 'Rum Diary,' Hunter S. Thompson

Try and live normal...Stay for a drink

Johhny Depp rarely gives interviews.

Johnny Depp, a cast member in the film
Chris Pizzello/AP Johnny Depp, a cast member in the film "The Rum Diary," poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Oct. 12, 2011. Based on the novel of the same name by the late Hunter S. Thompson, the film is released in theaters on Oct. 28.

Johnny Depp doesn't just star in "The Rum Diary," director Bruce Robinson's rum-soaked film about a reporter working and drinking in Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Depp found the manuscript for the novel on which the screenplay is based -- literally found it -- while visiting writer Hunter S. Thompson.

Depp's character in the film is a fictionalized version of Thompson, whom Depp also played in the film version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." The two were close, and Depp spoke recently about Thompson, who killed himself in 2005, as well as what the guy who has played characters as dissimilar as Capt. Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and Edward Scissorhands looks for in a role.

Question: Watching "The Rum Diary" (which opens Friday) actually makes you feel as if you have a hangover. How do you convincingly play a drunk?

Answer: Well, uh, let's see, uh, uh, uh -- sense memory. (Laughs.)

Q: Ha. Of course you're not really drinking when you're shooting.

A: No. We'd still be shooting if we did that. Especially Bruce and I. It's just observation. I've certainly been drunk in my life now and again. It's just watching people and sponging that up, as much as you can. It's not that difficult. You just sort of allow your spine to get a little bit looser. I think the main thing, when people get drunk they try to not be drunk, and that's the sort of key. They start to blink more, they try to sit up.

Q: Kemp, your character, is based on Thompson, but it's not the gonzo version many people know.

A: Kemp is the younger version of Hunter. He's the Hunter who is on the road to try to find out who Hunter was, to try and find his voice. It was more of a sort of boozy crawl than a psychedelic experience.

Q: Don't you think his reputation as such a wild man takes away from recognition of his talents as a writer?

A: Most definitely, yeah. There was certainly that side of him that was, you know, as he called it, "It's time to break out the too-much-fun club." And basically that was when Hunter was happy and in a good mood and let's go nuts and do irreverent things and absurd things and have a ball, and there were no repercussions and we couldn't give a rat's about them. There was that side of Hunter.

But there was also a side of Hunter that was made of very strong moral fiber and a Southern gentleman to the very last. Chivalrous. Truly a gentleman and hyper, hyper, hyper sensitive -- hence the self-medication. And that's a side that not many people know or got to see. He was shy, so at a certain point his safety was just assuming the character, in a way.

Q: You can't write as much as he did without some degree of self-discipline.

A: This is a guy who sat at a very young age and typed out "The Great Gatsby" multiple times because he wanted to know how it felt to write a masterpiece. That's supreme commitment.

He had studied all these writers that he adored. Hunter and I would sit and talk for hours and hours, because I have this fiendish kind of obsession with writers of the 19th and 18th centuries, so we would talk for hours about these guys. It was probably one of the things we connected on, probably because he couldn't believe some (expletive) actor knew who Nathanael West was. ...

He was deeply, deeply in love with words, and he found a way that no one's capable of copying to this day, found a way to express himself with the greatest command of language.

Q: He had a way with words, certainly.

A: The guy was capable of wonders. I called him after he saw the film of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," to give you an example of how this man's mind worked. And I thought he would hate me, I really did, because I thought maybe I've done something too close to home for him, maybe he would find it uncomfortable.

I said, "All right, you saw it." He said, "Yeah, I saw it." I said, "Do you hate me?" He said, "No, man, no, no. Christ, it was like an eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield."

And that just (expletive) blurted out of his mouth. He just spewed it.

Q: Kemp talks that way. At first it sounds false, but then you think, oh, some people do talk that way.

A: Well, they do. He did. "The American dream is a piss-puddle of greed," yeah. That was Hunter.

Q: Is it different playing someone you knew and were close to?

A: It's very different. Fortunately the one thing with Hunter is, I had a head start. He was so generous with me, and we got so close that I was able to sponge up as much of him as I possibly could. I had the luxury of kind of knowing him inside and out.

Q: You actually found the manuscript for "The Rum Diary" yourself, right?

A: Yeah, stumbled upon it, yeah. I was preparing for "Fear and Loathing," and we were in the war room (at Thompson's house) looking through boxes for the manuscript of "Fear and Loathing," which included, like, cocktail napkins and cherry stems and bandages, and all the weirdest stuff in the world. Suddenly I happened upon this other box that I broke open and, right on top there, stuffed amongst these papers, was "The Rum Diary." And we started reading it, the two of us, cross-legged on the floor. And I said, "Hunter, you're insane, man, this is (expletive) great writing. You need to publish this. I don't care when you wrote it. Let's publish it."

And he said, "You're right. However, I think we should produce this movie together." And that's when it really began.

Q: It's set in the late '50s, but in some ways the financial struggles of the newspaper Kemp works for are timely. Was that coincidence or happy accident?

A: I don't know if I'd call it a happy accident. ... I think it's an accident, for sure. But even the idea, at that time, in 1959 and 1960, Cuba became what Cuba became, and still is, so it was off-limits to Americans. So the next focus was Puerto Rico. It was the despoliation of a paradise. I think that was something that enraged Hunter. ... There are a lot of issues that correlate with what is current.

Q: You've played so many eclectic roles. What is a Johnny Depp role, and how do you know when you've found one?

A: It's pretty simple. I just read the thing, and I'm looking for that moment that sparks, that something that lights me up. The idea that I see something in a character that maybe I can bring something new to, maybe I can try something different that hasn't necessarily been done to death. It's really just kind of that. When I read a script, and I get a script that I really like and a character that appeals to me, I start getting these waves of images. It could be anything. It could be people I've known. It could be dogs I've had in the past. It doesn't matter. I just get these images and start to apply them to the character. Really, that's kind of it.

What I like, and what I think is important in terms of being an actor, is that first and foremost, to bore your audience is like the worst thing you can do. Always try to keep them guessing. Always try to send them something out there that they're not necessarily expecting. And always try to challenge yourself as an actor. The idea that I could have fallen flat on my face in terms of a couple of these characters is the very reason I did it. If you're not prepared to fail miserably, then you're just sort of walking through, aren't you?

Enjoy the Larry King special with Johnny Depp too:

by Bill Goodykoontz The Arizona Republic Oct. 25, 2011 08:20 AM

Interview: Johnny Depp on 'Rum Diary,' Hunter S. Thompson

Prosperity is possible in tough times

During economic downturns, most folks are content to maintain the status quo, not expecting to really get ahead.

Turns out, a defeatist mind-set like that stops people from living the way they really want to live. A terrific new book will change attitudes and inspire people to "Prosper," as the book is aptly titled.

Authors Ethan Willis and Randy Garn are well-qualified to offer this life-changing advice. Together they are founding partners of Prosper, a company that has mentored more than 75,000 entrepreneurs since its inception in 1999. Willis co-authored the best-selling book "The One Minute Entrepreneur" with Ken Blanchard and Don Hutson, and he has founded or co-founded six businesses in the past 12 years. Garn has founded several companies that are industry leaders in online marketing, including, which has more than 2 million subscribers.

What I find particularly refreshing about their book is that it doesn't concentrate on how to just survive an economic downturn. It challenges readers to make choices and take action that will be sustainable for a lifetime.

They write: "We know that it is possible for people to have a life that balances the pursuit of prosperity with happiness. It's not easy, but it's not as hard as you may think it is.

"Some people did it by creating new businesses that allowed them to make money doing the things they are passionate about. Others worked within their companies to carve out lives of balance, meaning and increased compensation. Some finally came to understand what they are really good at, then expended their talents to create new careers. Still others learned new expertise, which made it possible to reinvent themselves in areas they had tremendous passion for."

The authors define prosperity by the equation "Money + Happiness + Sustainability = Prosperity."

By money, they mean income sufficient to support one's goals. How much money is enough? "Enough to support your financial dreams in a way that honors your deeply held values and principles, but not so much that your money distracts or alienates you from those very values and principles," they say.

Happiness includes:

- State of mind: "having positive feelings about ourselves and the world."

- Authenticity: "living a life consistent with our deepest beliefs, values and principles, and knowing that our earnings are aligned with our passions and purpose."

- Commitment: "adhering to what we most value."

- Health and wellness, in mind and body.

Sustainability boils down to four questions: "Can I feel good about it? Can I sustain the work required over a long period of time? Is the prosperity I contemplate ethical, beneficial to others and environmentally sound? Does it offer lasting value?"

To help readers get started, Willis and Garn offer a prosperity assessment (available at ment). This tool is a 10-minute evaluation that you can complete, and you can invite others to answer based on their views of your level of prosperity. You will receive a personalized report identifying strengths and areas to develop. You can repeat the assessment as you put their practices into action. And it's free!

The real work begins with the authors' six prosperity practices, which are described individually in separate chapters. I won't give away their secrets, but I will tempt you with the six practices:

- Locate your polaris point.

- Live in your prosperity zone.

- Earn from your core.

- Start with what you already have.

- Commit yourself to your prosperity path.

- Take profound action.

This isn't cookie-cutter advice. Rather, it is solid information based on honest self-study that will help you transform your life. I wholeheartedly recommend their practices, because I know it is possible to prosper in any economic times. It's not just about the money.

As the authors say, "Prosperity is not a recreational activity but a lifestyle that you have to choose and renew."

My favorite section of the plan, however, is what happens once these practices start to bear fruit. The authors write, "You know you are really living in the Prosperity Zone when your passion shifts from accumulating to giving. It's no coincidence that the most prosperous people in the world have committed to giving the bulk of their wealth away."

Mackay's Moral: The journey to prosperity is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.

Mackay's Moral: If you've got what it takes, take it to the top.

by Harvey Mackay Oct 23, 2011

Prosperity is possible in tough times

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In math and science, U.S. women are making big strides

For many of the women, the chemistry lab was a home away from home - a sorority for nerds, of sorts, that hints at the slow but steady shift in technical fields that have been traditionally filled with men.

Rebecca Allred has fond memories of that lab at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She and her peers spent hours there. They worked into the night for their professor, Elizabeth Harbron, because they wanted to, blowing off steam by dancing to the soundtrack of "Mamma Mia" or taking a break on Fridays to play Putt-Putt golf together.

Harbron was not only their mentor but often a confidante. They shared their frustrations. They celebrated their successes. Several published their findings with Harbron's guidance, a rarity for undergraduates.

"That lab was a refuge between classes. I loved being there," says Allred, now a second-year doctoral student in the Yale University chemistry department and one of a new generation of young women who are helping change the face of the so-called STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math.

Though she was happy to help blaze the path for them, Harbron says she didn't set out to create an all-women's lab. It happened naturally. Students like Allred sought her out because they liked her informal, lively teaching style.

"I don't want to become a female ghetto of over-achieving White girls," Harbron jokes, referring to the general makeup of her lab these days. Then she asks more seriously: "But am I just perpetuating the model that's gotten us where we are?" In other words, she wonders, has she inadvertently created the female version of the "old boys' network"?

Whatever the answer, it's hard to argue with her results: Her lab has become a place where these young women gained confidence to match their abilities, she says.

Many, like Allred, have gone on to graduate programs.

That's a big deal in the STEM fields, which have been slower than other disciplines to integrate women at the highest levels.

With two-thirds of all undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of master's degrees now going to women, many believe it's only a matter of time before that trend influences the upper echelons of the STEM fields.

Already, statistics from the Council of Graduate Schools show that women, overall, earned slightly more than half of the doctorates handed out in all disciplines in the United States in 2009 and 2010. When it comes to the STEM fields, women have been most successful in medicine and biology - and least successful in engineering, math and computer science.

But experts hope that, too, will change. A recent report from the American Association of University Women notes that, 30 years ago, the ratio of seventh- and eighth-grade boys who scored more than 700 on the SAT math exam, compared with girls, was 13 to 1. Now it's 3 to 1.

"You gotta fill up the pipeline and support these good people and, after a while, things get straightened out," says Thomas Pollard, dean of Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which includes Allred's program.

Some would argue that that pipeline is still too leaky in the STEM fields.

"In an ideal world, you'd expect that it'd catch up, but it doesn't quite catch up because we're still losing women at every level," says Ted Greenwood, a former director with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which funds several STEM programs that target women and minorities.

That said, he and others note that women are still making more progress than minorities, particularly Black men.

And even in fields like chemistry, engineering and math, the percentages of women who received doctorates still has steadily increased over the last decade, according to the Council of Graduate Schools report.

Rebecca Allred's path to a doctoral program provides a glimpse of how it's happening - and how crucial access and support can be.

It began, she says, with her first role model - her mother, Janet Mikulas.

Mikulas, who got her engineering degree in the 1970s from Virginia Tech, can hardly imagine what it would be like to have so many women peers, as her daughter did at William and Mary.

"You know," Mikulas remembers her mother whispering to her after she announced her major to her parents, "Dad always said you should be an engineer."

She was stunned. Why didn't she know this? Why hadn't her father told her?

Her mother explained, as best she could, that he had felt it was wrong to encourage her to enter a male-dominated field, that he thought he was supposed to encourage her to be a mother and a secretary.

"He did it with the very best of intentions. He taught me a million things all his life. I was his best buddy," Mikulas said. "But he couldn't quite tell me what he really thought."

Mikulas and her husband, also an engineer, vowed that it would be different for their daughters. "We decided that we'd let them be what they wanted to be," she says.

Some would say there was no way Allred - known as Rebecca Mikulas before she married her college sweetheart in 2009 - could have failed. She had educational opportunities that many do not, including a private school in rural Virginia where classes were small and where she was given the chance to study at her own pace. She also had the smarts, skipping kindergarten and second grade and taking college classes by the time she was in middle school.

She finished her high-school requirements by age 16 but then decided to take more math and science courses at a public high school, where she also excelled at volleyball, basketball and track.

Her parents always worked to integrate math and science into everyday life on their family farm and during dinnertime conversations.

But she also had teachers who encouraged and challenged her - another key, experts say, in keeping girls engaged.

Her mother remembers how Rebecca's high-school chemistry teacher put off retiring for a year so she could have Rebecca as a student in her advanced-placement class. The teacher was certain she'd be her first student to receive the top score of 5 on the AP chemistry test. And Rebecca did.

She was considering colleges, including Harvard, around the time when Harvard's then-president, Lawrence Summers, made controversial comments questioning women's aptitude for top-level science and math. He later stepped down.

Unfazed, 17-year-old Rebecca went to William and Mary on a track scholarship. There, she took a chemistry class with Harbron - and applied for a spot in Harbron's lab.

She quickly realized she'd found her next mentor.

"She was so animated and funny - and into what she was doing," Allred says of her professor. "I wanted to be a part of it."

When she first joined Harbron's lab, she was the only woman student.

"I had to learn my boy social dynamics," Allred says, laughing and noting that, at that point, many of her interactions at her Mormon church and in sports were with other women.

You wouldn't think that would matter much. But Harbron and other professors say there's an interesting dynamic they often see in coed labs. Women tend to hang back, they say, and let men take the lead role.

"They're so afraid of being wrong. I don't think guys have that fear," Harbron says. "If they're admitting they don't know something, then they are admitting a vulnerability.

"But what they don't realize is that other people don't know either."

Christina Davis, another student who was in Harbron's lab when Allred was there, remembers feeling stressed out by her need to be perfect, to have all the answers. She balked, at first, when Harbron refused to tell her what result she should expect in an experiment.

But Davis says she soon learned to love exploring the unknown in experiments, so much so that she, too, eventually decided to pursue a doctorate in chemistry instead of going to medical school.

"I stopped following the plan I had written when I was 7 and opened myself up to new possibilities," says Davis, who's now in the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas and currently studying in South Korea.

Increasingly, some institutions are finding value in more formal all-women programs in the STEM fields.

The all-women Smith College in Massachusetts, for instance, bucked its liberal-arts tradition and started an engineering program 10 years ago - a decision other all-women schools are following.

Meanwhile, other institutions are targeting younger students because research has shown that girls tend to lose interest in science and math in middle school. That research also has shown that income plays a greater role than gender when it comes to students who make it to the highest levels of the STEM fields.

That's why Pamela Clute, a math lecturer who is also assistant vice provost for academic partnerships at the University of California-Riverside, developed summer and after-school math programs for middle-school girls - many of them from low-income neighborhoods.

She calls her program and its participants GEMS - Girls Excelling in Mathematics with Success.

The curriculum, she says, incorporates topics that the teen girls tell her they're interested in. They might be asked to solve math problems that incorporate questions about fashion and cellphones, for instance. They also are allowed to work in groups.

"If you say 'algebra,' people tend to vomit," Clute quips. But if you can show them how it applies to real life, she says, that attitude changes.

by Martha Irvine Associated Press Oct. 23, 2011 12:00 AM

In math and science, U.S. women are making big strides

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wellness site's CEO seeks to aid women

When Arizona entrepreneur Michelle King Robson had her own bout with illness, she read books, consulted doctors and scoured the Internet for answers.

But she said she found an absence of useful women's health information.

The experience prompted the Phoenix woman to create, a fast-growing website that focuses on women's health, wellness and advice.

"I was looking for women to say, 'You're going to be OK,' and to validate how I was feeling," said King Robson, chair and CEO of EmpowHER. "I would have felt a million times better, and that's why I started EmpowHER. I didn't want another woman to suffer, not on my watch, not if I could help it."

Since launching the site in 2007, the Scottsdale-based company said its traffic has grown more than fourfold, reaching 1.75 million visitors last month.

The company employs 25 people and 61 independent contractors.

Women who visit the site are encouraged to pose questions to each other and directly to the site's staff, who respond within 24 hours. Moderators route users' questions to a team of more than 450 medical experts or a "peer to peer" community of women who offer advice based on their own experience.

While the privately owned company did not release financial details, EmpowHER has recorded double-digit growth in advertising revenue each of the past three years, King-Robson said. The company also is shopping for venture-capital funding to grow the business as it seeks to bolster its standing as a site that provides original and clinically sound advice to women.

King Robson started her career as an entrepreneur in her 20s, then moved to Arizona and worked in real estate. About eight years later, she moved into the non-profit sector.

After 20 years in philanthropy, she said she couldn't imagine starting a company focused on women's health that could be profitable.

"It was one thing to start a site that would help women," said King Robson, who has funded the website since its launch. "It was another to allow myself to think that we could actually do well (financially)."

Alan McCann, EmpowHER's head of business development, said he has been with the company from the start and helped her execute her vision.

When he met her in 2007, her enthusiasm for women's health was just one reason he decided to work with the company.

"My wife had had some women's health issues, so Michelle's passion was something I already understood," McCann said.

King Robson has evolved as the head of EmpowHER, McCann said, learning how to grow a startup company and stay focused with limited funds.

McCann said King Robson doesn't just focus on women's health as a job. It's part of her daily life.

"There are many stories of people that have been helped by her but that aren't going to be known or publicized," he said.

EmpowHER Executive Vice President Thom Brodeur remembers one staff meeting where he was distraught over his mother's recent health issues. King Robson stopped the proceedings to ask if he was all right, and when he told her his mother was hospitalized and the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, she walked out of the office so they could go see her.

"She went straight down there and got my mom a different medical team," he said. "Within hours, we started getting answers. How many jobs have a boss who would do that?"

This month, King Robson shared her story as part of the 100X100 Project by SmartGirls Way in Seattle, which is featuring videos online of 100 women entrepreneurs every business day for next 100 days.

Jean Brittingham, a founder of the project, said the women were chosen based on their passion to make a difference.

"From the minute we were told about Michelle and started doing research about her, we were so impressed," Brittingham said. "There's nothing more empowering than realizing you are personally in charge of your own wellness."

The business has represented a personal transformation for King Robson. Among other awards, she was most recently named Chairman of the Year in the American Business Awards' 2011 Stevie Awards.

"As I sit across the table from people with MBAs and Ph.D.s . . . I wish I had that brain power," said King Robson, who does not have a college degree and joked about not knowing how to turn on a computer when she first started.

But having to learn as she went has not stopped her from reaching her goals.

"Now I can say I know way more about the Web than I ever thought I would, and I'm very proud that I am able to be the CEO of this company and learn it all," she said.

by Yvonne Gonzalez The Arizona Republic Oct. 14, 2011 03:28 PM

Wellness site's CEO seeks to aid women

Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules of Success - Yahoo! Small Business Advisor

Apple Inc. Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs waves to his audience at an Apple event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Steve Jobs' impact on your life cannot be underestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect -- computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For entrepreneurs, Jobs' greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I've become a student of sorts of Jobs' career and life. Here's my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our "inner Steve Jobs."

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, "I'd get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about." That's how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, "Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?" Don't lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn't have any practical use in his life -- until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don't live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the "A-Team" on each product. What are you saying "no" to?

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't communicate your ideas, it doesn't matter. Jobs was the world's greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It's so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don't care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you'll win them over.

There's one story that I think sums up Jobs' career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that's the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You can only get as high as your self-esteem

The next time someone calls you an egotistical jerk, you should thank him or her for the opinion. They have just provided a strong endorsement of your mental health.

Self-esteem is a lightning-rod buzzword these days, mostly because it is often perceived as being a personality flaw. But the real flaw is false self-esteem: the result of heaping praise on people for accomplishing routine and simple tasks.

What management and employees need is legitimately earned high self-esteem, the kind that comes from performing well because you have worked so hard to reach the top. It means you have developed your natural talents to their optimal point. The kind that Will Rogers was talking about when he said, "If you done it, it ain't bragging."

Genuinely deserved self-esteem provides a competitive edge in our competitive world. Like it or not, life is a series of competitions. You may be competing for a grade, a spot on a team, a job or the largest account in town. The higher your self-esteem is, the better you get along with yourself, with others, and the more you'll accomplish.

Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden discovered an additional benefit to having high self-esteem: "There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity."

What's the matter with being proud of what we have done or think we can do? When we're young, we're full of the sense that we can and should be able to do almost anything. That enthusiasm shouldn't change as we get older and more experienced. Our accomplishments should reinforce our sense of self-worth.

Dr. Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington, calls it the "egocentricity bias." This is the reinterpretation of events to put ourselves in a favorable light and the belief we have more control over events than we actually do. He says it is a sign of mental well being.

That makes perfect sense to me. Dr. Greenwald can call it the "egocentricity bias," but I call it optimism. And I believe optimism is a quality that consistently delivers results. Did you ever get a good performance out of a pessimist? (By the way, few people ever call themselves pessimists. Pessimists usually call themselves realists.)

Optimism involves self-delusion, a belief that our own abilities are superior to the obstacles that logically should overcome us. But that's exactly what's needed to perform any heavy-duty assignment.

How can you be any good unless you think you can accomplish what you're not supposed to be able to accomplish?

Olympic skating star Scott Hamilton observed, "Adversity, and perseverance and all these things can shape you. They can give you a value and a self-esteem that is priceless."

There is no better example of the power of positive self-esteem than Muhammad Ali. He called himself "The Greatest" - actually, "The Greatest of All Time." He never doubted his ability to compete at the highest level, and his record proves it.

Top performers in athletics or business are always convinced they can be heroes, even if they don't shout it from the rooftops. And it shows. In fact, baseball scouts call that look "the good face," the sense of self-confidence that radiates from winners.

A little boy was talking to himself as he entered through his backyard, baseball cap in place and carrying a baseball and bat. "I'm the greatest baseball player in the world," he said proudly. Then he tossed the ball in the air, swung and missed.

Undismayed, he picked up the ball, threw it into the air and said to himself again, "I'm the greatest player ever!" As the ball descended, he swung at it again, and again he missed.

He paused a moment to examine the bat and ball carefully. Then once again he threw the ball into the air and said, "I'm the greatest baseball player who ever lived." As the ball came down, he gave another mighty swing and missed the ball again.

"Wow!" he exclaimed. "What a pitcher!"

Mackay's Moral: If you've got what it takes, take it to the top.

by Harvey Mackay Oct 9, 2011

You can only get as high as your self-esteem

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feds crack down on Calif. pot dispensaries

SACRAMENTO - Federal prosecutors announced an aggressive crackdown on California pot dispensaries Friday, vowing to shut down dozens of growing and sales operations and saying that the worst offenders are using the cover of medical marijuana to act as storefront drug dealers.

Officials described it as the first coordinated statewide offensive against marijuana dealers and suppliers who use California's 15-year-old medical-marijuana law as legal cover for running sophisticated drug trafficking ventures in plain sight.

"California's marijuana industry supplies the nation," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, citing a 2009 federal study that 72 percent of marijuana plants eradicated nationwide were grown in California. "Huge amounts of marijuana grown here in this state is flowing east to other states, and huge amounts of money are flowing back in the opposite direction."

The actions were geared toward stopping a proliferation that has led to thousands of pot shops opening their doors across the state. The spread was fueled partly by the Obama administration's assurance two years ago that it did not plan to devote federal resources to countering marijuana outlets operating in compliance with state laws.

One example cited by the prosecutors Friday: In one Orange County strip mall, eight of the 11 second-floor suites are occupied by dispensaries and doctors' offices where healthy individuals obtain "sham" recommendations to use medical marijuana.

It is "a Costco, Walmart-type model that we see across California," said Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. attorney in the Los Angeles area. Some people making money from medical marijuana openly revel in what some have called "the new California gold rush," he said.

Landlords leasing property to dozens of warehouses and agricultural parcels where marijuana is being grown and retail spaces where pot is sold over the counter are receiving written warnings to evict their tenants or face criminal charges or seizure of their assets, the state's four U.S. attorneys said.

"The intention regarding medical marijuana under California state law was to allow marijuana to be supplied to seriously ill people on a non-profit basis," said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, the top federal law-enforcement officer for the San Francisco Bay area. "What we are finding, however, is that California's laws have been hijacked by people who are in this to get rich and don't care at all about sick people."

The crackdown comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors' recommendations.

The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical-marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appeared to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

Increased federal intervention will likely unify marijuana growers and sellers in a drive to change federal policy, National Cannabis Industry Association spokeswoman Melissa Milam said.

"We're not going anywhere. We're mothers, we're patients, we're family members of patients," she said. "We want to pay taxes, we want to be able to make deposits at our bank, we want to be a business."

Not all of the thousands of storefront pot dispensaries thought to be operating in the state are being targeted in the crackdown, which also involves new indictments and arrests of marijuana growers and vendors throughout the state over the past two weeks, said Wagner, who represents the state's Central Valley.

The strategies federal authorities are using vary somewhat, with warning letters issued by the U.S. attorney in San Diego giving recipients 45 days to comply and property owners in Los Angeles, Orange County and the Central Coast given just two weeks to evict pot dispensaries or growers.

by Lisa Leff Associated Press Oct. 8, 2011 12:00 AM

Feds crack down on Calif. pot dispensaries

Learn to detect, deal with big egos

What do the NFL, NBA, and federal budget negotiations all have in common? Highly successful parties at the table, many of whom over their careers have developed significant egos.

Since we all have egos, why should you care? Because you should use certain techniques when negotiating with those who have especially large egos.

- Find out if they have an outsized ego.

Industry colleagues often know those with particularly large egos - so first do your due diligence and ask around. But don't just rely on their reputations and others' opinions. Also be sensitive to these clues:

- An overwhelmingly competitive mind-set and desire to "win" and "beat the other side" vs. an interest in satisfying their business objectives and needs.

- An unusually prominent "ego wall" in their office that includes awards, certificates and self-centered-type items (this is one reason it's often helpful early on to meet at their office).

- A consistent desire to convince you of the rightness of their positions.

- The need to be perceived as in control.

- Relatively ineffective listening skills.

- Get them talking.

Egocentric individuals like to talk - so let them. The more they talk, the more information you get about what they want and why. Since my First Golden Rule of Negotiation is Information is Power - So Get It, ask a lot of questions and pay close attention to their responses. They might very well inadvertently share critical information.

- Be firm on leverage.

Don't hesitate to take a firm, principled stand based on strong leverage when dealing with those with big egos. Not only will they recognize the move, they will respect your ability to compete in that way.

This may be particularly effective if your leverage largely derives from your ability to walk away from your deal (as opposed to leverage that may result from their inability to walk away from you).

- Implement an aggressive offer-concession strategy.

Those with big egos often evaluate whether they have "won" a negotiation by calculating how much more they got you to concede than they moved. This suggests they did better, right?

Wrong. You shouldn't really care who is perceived as the winner or loser - all you should care about is the extent to which you accomplished your objectives. So design your offer-concession strategy to let them believe they won. How?

- Make your starting point more aggressive than usual, giving you the ability to achieve your goals and still move more than your counterpart.

- Plan to make multiple moves instead of a few big ones, pointing out all your concessions - thus highlighting the extent they "won" on a lot of issues (you also shouldn't care how many times you move as long as you accomplish your objectives in the end).

Finally, plan to make the last concession, albeit a small one. It will increase the likelihood they will close the deal, and it won't cost you much. It will also ensure they walk away feeling they got a good deal, thus increasing the likelihood they will follow through on their commitments. This is of great long-term value to you.

by Marty Latz - Oct. 6, 2011 05:33 PM

Learn to detect, deal with big egos

Pivotal advance made in stem-cell research

Scientists reported Wednesday that for the first time, they used cloning techniques to coax human eggs to generate embryonic stem cells containing the genes of specific patients.

The step, published online in the journal Nature, marks a long-sought, potentially pivotal advance toward the goal of creating genetically matched embryonic stem cells that could be used to treat many major diseases.

The scientists so far have only managed to produce genetically abnormal cells useful for research, but they were confident they could overcome that hurdle.

"This work for the first time demonstrates that the human egg has the ability to turn a specialized cell into a stem cell," said Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, who led the research.

The research sidestepped fears that scientists had moved closer to human cloning by producing the cells with non-viable embryos.

But the experiments nevertheless have raised a new set of ethical concerns in a field already rife with ethical, moral and political quagmires.

The research was possible because for the first time, scientists paid women for their eggs for human embryonic-stem-cell research, stirring worries about women being exploited and putting their health at risk.

At the same time, the researchers made the cells by producing and then destroying mutant embryos, whose moral status immediately became a matter of sharp debate.

The researchers who conducted the work and others hailed the advance as an ethically defensible, potentially highly significant advance that could lead to producing large numbers of patient-specific cells that could cure widespread suffering.

"Cell-replacement therapy would dramatically change treatment and potentially even cure debilitating disease and injuries that affect millions of people suffering from these diseases," said Susan L. Solomon, who heads the foundation. "There really is a moral imperative to alleviate suffering."

Opponents of embryonic-stem-cell research, however, questioned both the scientific value of the experiments as well as its morality.

"We don't believe you should be creating new beings through this cloning process and destroying them to harvest their cells," said David Prentice of the Family Research Council.

Even some supporters of embryonic-stem-cell research were uneasy about paying women for their eggs.

"It just kind of gets you into the paying-for-organs controversy," said Jonathan Moreno, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist and author of a new book, "The Body Politic."

"I've always felt it would be better to keep this field out of those areas of debate. We've got enough problems," he said.

Supporters of human-embryonic-stem-cell research consider the field to be one of the most promising in biomedical research. Because the cells are believed to be able to morph into virtually any tissue in the body, researchers hope they will lead to cures for many major afflictions, including diabetes, Parkinson's disease and paralysis.

But the field is highly controversial, primarily because the cells are usually derived by destroying days-old embryos, which some consider the equivalent of killing a person.

Since the cells were isolated in 1998, researchers have been trying to create stem cells that could be used to generate replacement body parts that would contain the genes of the patients getting them, avoiding rejection by a recipient's immune system.

This process, sometimes known as "therapeutic cloning," is done using the same techniques that cloned Dolly the sheep. Genes from an adult are transferred into an egg that has had its genetic material plucked out. Scientists then stimulate the egg with its new genes to begin developing into an embryo so they can harvest stem cells.

Previous attempts to produce human embryonic stem cells this way, however, have either failed or been marred by disputed or fraudulent claims. One obstacle has been difficulty getting enough women to donate their eggs to give scientists adequate raw material to work from.

The New York scientists took advantage of the state's 2009 decision to become the first to allow researchers to pay women for eggs for embryonic-stem-cell research. Although women are commonly compensated for donating eggs to infertile couples, it has been generally considered unethical to do so for stem-cell research.

Women who had volunteered to donate eggs to couples at Columbia University's infertility clinic got the option of instead letting their eggs be used for stem-cell research for the same $8,000 payment. Sixteen women agreed, providing 270 eggs.

Like other researchers, Egli and his colleagues first tried removing the nucleus of the eggs containing the donor's genes and replacing it with the chromosome-containing nucleus from skins cells from patients with type 1 diabetes and healthy volunteers. But, like previous attempts, development arrested before generating any stem cells.

The researchers then tried putting the genes from the skin cells of diabetics and healthy volunteers into eggs without removing the original genes. Those eggs developed into 13 early embryos from which the researchers obtained two colonies of cells. Detailed analysis found that the cells were indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells, with no traces of the adult cell from which they were derived.

The cells, however, contained an extra set of gene-carrying chromosomes - one set of 23 chromosomes from the egg and the usual two sets of 46 chromosomes from the diabetics who provided their genes. That makes them useless for treating anyone.

Nevertheless, the scientists and other leading experts said the advance was important because the cells can now be studied to decipher how eggs reprogram genes.

"It will make people perk up their ears," said George Daley, a prominent Harvard stem-cell researcher who wrote one of several articles published with the research. "It says, technologically, we can get there."

Egli called the extra DNA in the cells a technical hurdle that he was confident scientists could overcome.

In the meantime, scientists have begun studying the cells in the hopes of identifying how eggs can reprogram an adult cell's genes.

"We have a number of things on our to-do list," Egli said. "We definitely think this is going to work."

by Rob Stein Washington Post Oct. 6, 2011 12:00 AM

Pivotal advance made in stem-cell research

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Networking is an art you must master

In his book "What the Dog Saw," Malcolm Gladwell titles one especially worthwhile chapter 'The New-Boy Network."

According to Gladwell, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave a speech to former Microsoft interns, and a young man in the audience posed an astute question. After the talk, Ballmer asked the college senior for his e-mail address. Soon Ballmer and the questioner were engaged in a lively discussion about the young man's "career trajectory."

The things that trigger career-shaping interpersonal contacts are changing. A mind-bending tweet or an imaginative Facebook post can snip through six degrees of separation in a nanosecond. What you used to know about networking might have landed you on the playing field. Today, it may not even click you through the stadium turnstile.

Readers tell me that my book "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" is a networking classic. While the tried- and-true principles it describes can still work wonders, I hasten to add: Networking is an ever-changing art.

Here are the nine most important new things I have learned about networking in the last 10 years:

- Don't network all prospects the same way. There is no cookie-cutter style that will gain you easy entry into every network. Tailor your pitch to each group. For Bostonians, for example, humble Roxbury roots sometimes count far more than a fancy Beacon Hill address.

- Create an appealing, inspiring presence for yourself in social media. Make sure it seamlessly supports your professional and business goals. Constantly update it, and pay special attention to the list of colleagues who link to you as peers. Share insights and tips.

This is becoming an opportunity area for businesses, too. In an online column for The BrainYard, David F. Carr notes: "InboxQ ... makes a tool that mines Twitter posts for unanswered questions that can be turned into sales leads." When you do offer help, accent what's constructive, not self-serving.

- Monitor the networking abilities of subordinates. Networks are so powerful because of how well they expand your reach. Your own network is never enough. Whenever you recruit team members, learn about their networks. Industry and community contacts can open untold doors, and they speak volumes about people's values. Make networking goals as tangible and measurable as you can. Challenge subordinates to link networking to their personal development.

- Emphasize your mastery of teamwork. In today's leaner, faster-moving organizations, executives are increasingly picked for their ability to inspire and integrate teamwork. GE legend Jack Welch exemplified teamwork, well, electrically.

- Plan your networking timeline. Look at where you want your business or career to be in five years and the contacts you will need to prosper and excel. The higher the goal, the slower and more demanding the access ramp.

Cultivating future networks is second nature in great politicians. Ronald Reagan's road to the White House in 1980, experts say, was ignited by a speech he gave to support the losing Republican campaign in 1964.

- Be a competitive, sharp-eyed ally. Everyone values competitive insight. Respect business and trade confidentiality, but help others piece together challenges and threats they might neglect. There's always a place in the dugout for someone who can pick off the other team's signs.

- Showcase your developmental prowess. Top executives increasingly want to know the answer to one question in evaluating other industry leaders for any role: What top people have you developed, and where are they today? Make it a point to keep the successful people you helped to groom in your network.

- Collect mentors. Nostalgia and sentimentality may attach you to the same mentor who brought you along in your earlier years. Be respectful, but add new mentors to your list as you set your sights higher or fine-tune your direction.

- Teach your children to network in a disciplined way. In Connecticut, I spotted an ad for "Generation Next: Dale Carnegie Training for Teens." Networking is indispensable for summer internships and first jobs. Networking may also be one of the most overlooked family values . . . and assets.

Mackay's Moral: Don't overlook the "net" in networking.

by Harvey Mackay Oct 2, 2011

Networking is an art you must master

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Japan's Answer To Next Tsunami? Mini Noah's Ark | Fox News


Sept. 30: Cosmo Power Co. President Shoji Tanaka crawls out from a spherical earthquake and tsunami shelter "Noah" made of fiber enforced plastic at the company's factory in Hiratsuka, west of Tokyo.

TOKYO – A small Japanese company has developed a modern, miniature version of Noah's Ark in case Japan is hit by another massive earthquake and tsunami: a floating capsule that looks like a huge tennis ball.

Japan's Cosmo Power says its "Noah" shelter is made of enhanced fiberglass that can save users from disasters like the one on March 11 that devasted Japan's northern coast, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead or missing.

Company president Shoji Tanaka says the capsule can hold four adults, and that it has survived many crash tests. It has a small lookout window and breathing holes on top. It also can be used as a toy house for children.

The company completed the capsule earlier this month and already has 600 orders, including two delivered.

by Associated Press Sept 30, 2011

Japan's Answer To Next Tsunami? Mini Noah's Ark | Fox News

Facebook Policies Tricky For Employers, Workers -AARP

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the age of instant tweets and impulsive Facebook posts, some companies are still trying to figure out how they can limit what their employees say about work online without running afoul of the law.

Confusion about what workers can or can't post has led to a surge of more than 100 complaints at the National Labor Relations Board — most within the past year — and created uncertainty for businesses about how far their social media policies can go.

"Employers are struggling to figure out what the right policies are and what they should do when these cases arise," said Michael Eastman, labor law policy director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In one case, a Chicago-area car salesman was fired after going on Facebook to complain that his BMW dealership served overcooked hot dogs, stale buns and other cheap food instead of nicer fare at an event to roll out a posh new car model.

The NLRB's enforcement office found the comments were legally protected because the salesman was expressing concerns about the terms and conditions of his job, frustrations he had earlier shared in person with other employees.

But the board's attorneys reached the opposite conclusion in the case of a Wal-Mart employee who went on Facebook to complain about management "tyranny" and used an off-color Spanish word to refer to a female assistant manager. The worker was suspended for one day and disqualified from seeking promotion for a year.

The board said the postings were "an individual gripe" rather than an effort to discuss work conditions with co-workers and declined to take action against the retailer.

Those cases are among 14 investigations the board's acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, discussed in a lengthy report last month on the rise in social media cases. Solomon says federal law permits employees to talk with co-workers about their jobs and working conditions without reprisal — whether that conversation takes place around the water cooler or on Facebook or Twitter.

"Most of the social media policies that we've been presented are very, very overbroad," Solomon said in an interview. "They say you can't disparage or criticize the company in any way on social media, and that is not true under the law."

The number of cases spiked last year after the board sided with a Connecticut woman fired from an ambulance company after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss. That case settled earlier this year, with the company agreeing to change its blogging and Internet policy that had banned workers from discussing the company over the Internet.

The National Labor Relations Act protects both union and nonunion workers when they engage in "protected concerted activity" — coming together to discuss working conditions. But when online comments might be seen by hundreds or thousands of eyeballs, companies are concerned about the effect of disparaging remarks.

Doreen Davis, a management-side labor lawyer based in Philadelphia, said many of her corporate clients are often "surprised and upset" when they learn they can't simply terminate employees for talking about work online.

"All of us on the management side are being inundated with calls and inquiries from clients about this," Davis said. "A lot of companies want their social media policies reviewed or they want to establish one for the first time."

But the NLRB's Solomon also warns workers that not everything they write on Facebook or Twitter will be permissible under the law just because it discusses their job.

"A lot of Facebook, by its very nature, starts out as mere griping," Solomon said. "We need some evidence either before, during or after that you are looking to your fellow employees to engage in some sort of group action."

In one case, an employee at an Indiana emergency transportation and fire protection company was fired after writing on the Facebook wall of her U.S. senator, Republican Dick Lugar, to complain that her company skimped on wages and that its cheap service compromised the quality of care.

The NLRB's enforcement office declined to take up her case, saying that the employee didn't discuss her complaints with other workers or show any attempt to take employee complaints to management. She may have been trying to make a public official aware of problems with emergency medical services in Indiana, but board attorneys said that wasn't enough to protect her under the law.

While there are more than 100 cases pending before the board, only one has actually led to a formal ruling. Earlier this month, an administrative law judge at the agency found that a Buffalo, N.Y., nonprofit group illegally fired five workers after they posted Facebook comments complaining about workload and staffing issues.

The judge ordered the group, Hispanics United of Buffalo, to reinstate the five employees and award them back pay.

The Chamber of Commerce's Eastman said it's too early to criticize how the board is interpreting the law, but he wants to see what happens in closer cases where an employee goes "over the top" with criticism of a supervisor of employer.

"Where will the board draw the line between concerted activity and an employer's legitimate non-disparagement policy?" Eastman said.

by Sam Hananel The Associated Press Sept 26, 2011

Facebook Policies Tricky For Employers, Workers -AARP

Nation & World | Computer reconstructs movie scenes from brain scans | Seattle Times Newspaper

This set of paired images provided by Shinji Nishimoto of the University of California, Berkeley, showing original video images, upper row, paired with images reconstructed by computer from brain scans. While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.

It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.

Scientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday.

In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate, said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper.

He believes such a technique could eventually reconstruct a dream or other made-up mental movie well enough to be recognizable. But the experiment dealt with scenes being viewed through the eyes at the time of scanning, and it's not clear how much of the approach would apply to scenes generated by the brain instead, he said.

People shouldn't be worried about others secretly eavesdropping on their thoughts in the near future, since the technique requires a person to spend long periods in an MRI machine, he noted.

Another expert said he expected any mind-reading capability would appear only far in the future.

For now, the reconstructed movie clips are only crude representations, loosely mimicking shapes and movement, but not nearly detailed enough to show that a blurry human-like figure represents the actor Steve Martin, for example.

The new work was published online Thursday by the journal Current Biology. It's a step beyond previous work that produced similar results with still images.

The paper reports results from the brain scans of three co-authors, who were chosen because the study subjects had to be motivated enough to lie motionless in an MRI machine for hours and stay alert as they stared at a tiny dot, Gallant said. The machine was used for a technique called functional MRI, or fMRI. Unlike ordinary MRI, which reveals anatomy, fMRI shows brain activity.

The first task was to teach the computer how different parts of each subject's brain responded to scenes of moving objects.

Participants stared at a dot to keep their eyes still as movie clips lasting 10 to 20 seconds unfolded in the background. That went on for two hours as the MRI machine tracked activity in their brains.

The study focused on parts of the brain that respond to simple features like shapes and movement, rather than other parts that identify objects. So it was limited to "only the most basic parts of vision," Gallant said.

Next, the question was: Could the computer use that brain activity information to reconstruct what appeared in the movie clips?

To test that, researchers fed the computer 18 million one-second YouTube clips that the participants had never seen. They asked the computer to predict what brain activity each of those clips would evoke.

Then they asked it to reconstruct the movie clips using the best matches it could find between the YouTube scenes and the participants' brain activity.

The reconstructions are blends of the YouTube snippets, which makes them blurry. Some are better than others. If a human appeared in the original clip, a human form generally showed up in the reconstruction. But one clip that showed elephants walking left to right led to a reconstruction that looked like "a shambling mound," Gallant said. The YouTube clips hadn't shown elephants and so "we just had to make do with what we had."

The quality could be improved by better techniques to blend human forms, as well as a bigger storehouse of moving images, he said.

Still, the overall results are "one of the most impressive demonstrations of the scientific knowledge of how the visual system works," said Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University.

"I'd give 50 or 100 dollars to see dreams of mine with that (current level of) quality," said Just, who didn't participate in the new study.

Perhaps the technique could be used someday to provide helpful brain stimulation to people who have trouble processing visual information, he said.

Michael Tarr, co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint venture of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, called the work a "cool demonstration" of how scientists can use fMRI to study the brain.

"I don't think people should interpret this as a precursor to mind-reading," said Tarr, who didn't participate in the work. "The level of knowledge we'd have to have about the brain before we could even think about seeing whether mind-reading would work is decades, if not centuries, away."

by Malcolm Ritter Associated Press Sept 22, 2011

Nation & World | Computer reconstructs movie scenes from brain scans | Seattle Times Newspaper

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