Tag Archives: Tools

Are You. . .

You can learn a lot about yourself from some surprising sources.

No, I’m not asking what it says about you that the most-frequently visited place in your browser history is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic bulletin board and fan fiction website.

Still, the internet does make available a plethora of tools you dudes can use to learn a bit about yourself. For instance, I was reading an article about introverts and extroverts and how to tell the difference between the two, which is a bit more difficult in some cases than others, and I realized that I do display a tremendous amount of signs that point to my being an introvert. Especially when it comes to interacting with people in person. It’s exhausting.

Personally, that’s something I think is the defining characteristic difference between the two. Interacting with people is exhilarating for an extrovert and exhausting for an introvert.

I also had occasion recently to do a little research into diagnosing for attention deficit disorder, or ADD. Most assuredly, this is something that should be left for the professionals. However, I find these sorts of tests to be useful in helping you to assess whether a behavior or suite of behaviors is something that needs to be brought to a professional.

The good folks at ADDitude Magazine, a magazine for people living with ADD and for people caring for those people, posted a link to a pretty good screening test for ADD.

This questionnaire was adapted from the ASRS Screener developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Workgroup on Adult ADHD. It is intended for people ages 18 and older. If you answer yes to a significant number of these questions, consult a licensed mental health practitioner. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation.

Yeah, what they said.

I realize there could be quite a bit of observational bias here. (That is, you dudes see what you’re looking for. AKA the Odyssey Effect. I never saw a Honda Odyssey on the road until I purchased one and then saw them everywhere.) Still, I found that I was answering yes to a lot of these questions. Well, I was answering yes to a lot of the questions when I wasn’t flipping over to other pages, or getting up to get a few other things done while I waited impatiently for the next question to load.

“I often have trouble wrapping up the final details to a project when all the interesting stuff has already been done.”

That’s a big yes.

Whether or not we can depend on these sorts of tests, whether or not the insights gleaned from them are anything more than the gross overgeneralizations you’d get from a lot of the stuff you get on the internet, at least they can give you a place to start.

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Singular Or Plural

Words, dude.

Words fascinate me. I love to learn new words, to revel in the onomatopoeia of certain words like tintinnabulation or bark. I love to learn the history of words as well, to see where we’ve come and possibly guess where we’re going.

I love words.

All of which goes to say that I’ll be talking about words today. More specifically, the use of is and are. Don’t worry, though, it’s not going to be boring. Promise.

Here’s my question: When did the United States become a singular noun, instead of a plural one? I mean, think about it. There are 50 states comprising the United States. Notice the s there on the end of State? That’s to indicate that there are more than one state involved in the whole enterprise.

Which should mean that, in discussing the aggregate, we should be saying “The United States are going to welcome people from other nations.” Instead, what we hear these days is, in fact, singular: “The United States is going to welcome people from other nations.”

The even more intriguing thing is that, in the beginning? When the nation first pulled itself out of the chaos surrounding English occupation? We referred to the country in the plural: The United States are. . .

In an interesting bit of internet detective-izing, a redditor poster LeftHandedMasterRace, aka Kyle, decided to investigate a rather old quote that purported to answer the questin of the pluralized singularity. The quote is this: “There was a time a few years ago when the United States was spoken of in the plural number,”reads an article published April 24th, 1887, in The Washington Post. “Men said ‘the United States are’ — ‘the United States have’ — ‘the United States were.’ But the war changed all that.”

Was this really the case? LeftHandedMasterRace decided to find out. So he went digging using some actual Google tools actually designed for this sort of thing and found, oddly, that the quote wasn’t really an exaggeration. It wasn’t a piece of fluff designed to make something sound even better than it was.w680

He set up a program to check the use of “the United States are” and “the United States is” between 1760 and 2008. What he found was almost perfect backing for the Washington Post quote.

Although the plural usage continued well into the 20th century, it was on a quick trend downward toward zero. The reforging of the union following the Civil War really did seem to put the United States into the singular feeling.

We became a nation, holding states, rather than many states that stood together to form a nation. It’s a subtle difference, but one that says a lot about how we look at ourselves and our country.

A hat tip to Robert T. Gonzalez at io9.com for bringing this up.

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Rescue Me

This is an amazing video, showing a dolphin approaching a group of divers off shore of Hawaii and pleading for help with an embedded fishhook and fishing line.

Seriously, dudes. Take a look at this.

Okay, sure, there are other ways this could be interoperated, but I feel the dolphin’s intent is quite clear. That dolphin is approaching those talking apes, currently trespassing underwater, and asking for help with something it can’t do for itself.

The interesting thing to me is not that the dolphin asked for help. We’ve seen numerous examples of animals seeking help from other animals, or even domesticated animals seeking help from humans. The thing I find interesting is that this dolphin approached the human divers, apparently expecting that they would feel empathy for the dolphin and experience a desire to help.

I don’t know if this shows that the dolphin is in tremendously dire straits that it would seek help from humans, or else it understands us better than we, perhaps, think.

We’ve long known that dolphins have a higher brain to body ratio than just about any other animal on the planet, with the exception of humans, but we’ve seen very little evidence of the sort of intelligence we prize. There are no dolphin cities. No dolphin tools. No dolphin language that we can translate, even though we think they’re communicating ideas in their “speech.”

And, yet. . . There are many examples of dolphins rescuing humans stranded in the ocean. Dolphins do perform tricks for people at amusement parks (although, I’m thinking that’s a mark against if anything).

Are dolphins intelligent, as we humans define it? I’m thinking probably not. However, it would seem as if certain things can cross the intelligence/species barrier. Things like empathy and a desire to help someone other than yourself.

You know what, dudes? I think that’s pretty awesome.

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