Oh John Carroll

Month: April 2013 (page 1 of 5)

McDonald’s Theory →

Jon Bell, writing over at Medium, explains a way to generate ideas through a method he calls the McDonald’s Theory:

I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s.

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!

It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative. I call it the McDonald’s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.

In my last semester of college, I was a co-editor of the weekly arts magazine’s humor section.  I was thrown into it because I had pretty much tried my hand at every other section, but was terrified about writing things that needed to be funny to a broad audience.  Hell, I didn’t even like the idea of trying to be funny with co-editors/writers before publication.

I only became comfortable in the work when I learned what Bell describes above: when working — particularly in groups, although Bell wisely compares this idea to Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” essay, so it’s easily applicable to individual work as well — tossing out unfunny or obvious ideas was a great way to start the conversation.  In volunteering to get the first (and usually awful) idea out of the way, everyone was comfortable to contribute, because their ideas surely were better than that first one.

Sales Report →

So, you’ve made a game about game development, only to find that people are pirating it like crazy.  What do you do?  You teach the pirates about the effects of piracy:

A few hours into the game players of the “cracked” copy see a rather depressing in-game note, telling them that their virtual game is being heavily pirated.

Soon after that the player’s funds start to decrease. The other games they release are hit by piracy as well, resulting in the bankruptcy of the virtual gaming company they had just built up.

All The Classic Symptoms →

Vatsal Thakkar has an interesting column in The New York Times about ADHD, tech devices and sleep:

Many theories are thrown around to explain the rise in the diagnosis and treatment of A.D.H.D. in children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of school-age children have now received a diagnosis of the condition. I don’t doubt that many people do, in fact, have A.D.H.D.; I regularly diagnose and treat it in adults. But what if a substantial proportion of cases are really sleep disorders in disguise?

Wikipedia’s Sexism →

Want to read something dumb?  Good news!  I’ve got something for you.  Amanda Filipacchi, writing for The New York Times:

Early last week I noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appeared that, gradually, over time, the volunteer editors who create the site had begun moving women, one by one, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. Female authors whose last names began with A or B had been most affected.

I’m stunned to hear that men are being stubborn and misguided on the internet.

Walkabout →

I highly recommend watching John Oliver’s three-part Australian gun control series from The Daily Show.

Attire: Jumpsuit →

The Washington Post‘s Caitlin Dewey writes about the recent phenomenon of prisoners reviewing their accommodations on Yelp:

“At no time did the officer violate any of my constitutional privileges and even gave me a juice box after I said I was thirsty,” reads another review, this one of the Arlington County Detention Facility. “Yes, you heard right, they have juice boxes! . . . So if you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County.”

Remember: don’t read the comments.

New Atoms for Peace Song →

Thom Yorke explains: “new song floating about is called Magic Beanz. the Z is v important.”

The Answer Has A Question →

If you haven’t yet read it, I recommend Kent Babb’s Washington Post story on how Allen Iverson is handling (or: isn’t handling) his retirement from basketball:

Iverson kept waiting for NBA teams to call. Last August, Iverson’s son Deuce, now 15, enrolled in a Pennsylvania school and families were invited to group counseling. Tawanna testified that Iverson skipped most of the sessions, including a lunch with his son. During a meeting he did attend, the speaker told the children about success, and how Donald Trump had seized opportunities.

Iverson interrupted, telling them that he had been the man with money and fame. Then he said something Tawanna would remember.

“What are you supposed to do,” she recalled him saying, “when, you know, they don’t want you anymore?”

A very sobering read about the most entertaining athlete I watched growing up in Philadelphia.  I hope there’s a path to a good outcome.  Some people float the idea that he should be hired for some sort of position with the 76ers, but I don’t see how anyone with the 76ers looks at his life and figures that’s a good idea.  It’s a shame, too: his appearance at Game 6 of the Celtic series last year was electric.  I was there, and his arrival seemed to take an already-important game to the next level.

Here’s an idea for Adam Aron: scrap those oft-delayed mascot plans and just hire A.I. to fire the crowd up.

Revoking →

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn wants to revoke the tax-exempt status of national sports leagues.  You can read more above, but here’s the predictable conclusion: “Apparently, though, Coburn’s amendment is unlikely to see a vote.”

Printing the Legend →

Howard Bryant wrote about the new film 42 for ESPN:

For the past week, the concepts of how a story is told and who gets to tell it have resonated as I thought about Boston and listened to complex conversation about war and terrorism devolve along the simplistic lines of “heroes” and “cowards” and “resilience.” That simplification is a template borrowed from the tattered handbook of how there is generally one way to write about race in America: to make the majority of the mainstream feel good about itself without depth, without substance, without respect or appreciation for grievances that can successfully change society but that don’t always have happy endings.

I saw the film yesterday, and was incredibly disappointed by it.  The above excerpt alludes to why: I didn’t get the sense that the film was interested in portraying hardship, and that made it an incredibly low-stakes affair.  But Bryant finds some teaching moments in the film’s failures, and I’m glad to see it.

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